Thursday 18 May 2023

Dunlop, Firestone, Pirelli Too ...

This entry was originally going to be about the Toyota Motor Company, linking to the illustrative track "I'm Stuck In A Pagoda With Tricia Toyata".
However, I later discovered that Tritia Toyata (yes, I know it's spelt differently) was in fact a US Newsreader, and had nothing to do with the manufacturers of the Prius, the MR2, the Celica, or the Corlloa (and there are many more vehicles beginning with "C" in the past and current range).
Never mind, just bounce back a few tracks on the bands second album, find a lyrical reference, and make this entry about black rubber rings.

Horse carts, push carts, farm tools, bicycles, anything that rolled basically got by using metal or wooden wheels.  Yes, the ride was uncomfortable but be honest they never really went fast or far enough to consider comfort.
But all metal wheels were expensive and heavy, and wooden wheels brittle when faced with stony/rocky roads and tracks.  To increase the life of a wooden wheel, a metal band would be heated and shrunk over the wheel.  The life of the wheel increased, but not the comfort.
The metal banding was replaced by the use of rubber, albeit in solid form which at least provide some form of shock absorption.
The first pneumatic tyre (basically a rubber skin filled with compressed air) was patented by Robert William Thompson in 1847, but never went into production.  John Dunlop then conceived a similar method of encasing air in rubber and attaching it to a wheel and was granted a patent in 1888.
Dunlop's patent was declared invalid 5 years later when the similarities were noted - the possible confusion coming from the fact that Thompson's design was intended for Horse Drawn carriages, whilst Dunlop's was primarily for bicycles.
He may not have had the patent, but it was Dunlop that developed and exploited the technology and it's wider use.  Many tyre manufactuers followed including those still big names today: Goodyear, Firestone, Pirelli, BF Goodrich, Continental (to name a few big names) all utilised Dunlop's methods of construction and production.
In 1946, Michelin further enhanced things with the radial tyre - this gave the tyre better re-inforcement and flexibility, increased comfort, better heat sustainment,  and a longer life.
Michelin had already bought the bankrupt Citreon company in 1924, and was now able to launch a new car (the 2CV) with it's new radial tyres.  Within 30 years, the radial tyre became the industry standard.
Tread patterns, water disbursement, road holding, wear indicator markers - the basic tyre has developed a lot in recent years (gone are the days when the choice was: Remoulds for £10, Kwik-Fit Own Brand for £25, or a big name brand for £50+.  You now need speed rating, seasonal variation, efficiency rating, and (if you're at the top end of the market, or riding round in a 4x4, you need very deep pockets).
Tyres - possibly the most important component in any car (apart from, perhaps, the nut behind the wheel).  As Robert Mark explains:
(note: not the real Robert Mark ...)


The Dickies formed in Los Angeles in 1977.  Their debut gig was at the Whiskey a Go Go on Sunset Boulevard, and were the beneficiaries of A&Ms search for something easier to handle than the recently paid-off Sex Pistols.
The Dickies musicality, stage entertainment, and growing following convinced A&M to give them a contract.
Now, it's true that The Dickies legend (if that is the correct term?) is built on their break-neck speed cover versions of tunes such as "Paranoid", "Nights In White Satin", "Sounds Of Silence", "Eve Of Destruction", "Silent Night" and more.  It's not helped by the fact that their biggest and best known hit was the childrens TV theme "Banana Splits (The Tra-La-La Song)".
Yet in the space of 18 months, they also managed two albums stuffed full of their own tunes.  And very good they are too.
However, internal fighting, loss of band members and management, as well as their record contract expiring meant it would be 2 full years before a third album appeared - by that time, the musical landscape and their original audience had moved on.
But they re-grouped and kept ploughing on, releasing albums where a label would give them support, and playing support slots to bands who cited them as an influence.

Their second album 'Dawn Of The Dickies' was released in 1979 and includes their cover of "Nights In White Satin".  Whilst only modestly successful on release, with it's irreverence, sound, and focus on melody, it stands today (along with the debut 'The Incredible Shrinking Dickies') as a direct line to the later Punk bands to emerge from LA, including Green Day and The Offspring who both cite The Dickies as major influences. 

Track 3 is titled "Manny, Moe and Jack" and is basically an advert for their mates garage:

When your on the road
and your car wont pull that load
and your wheels aren’t feeling fine
Well I know of this joint
where they’ll check your plugs and points
I know these guys they're three good friends of mine

Manny Moe and Jack
They know what I’m after
Manny Moe and Jack
They Know what I’m after
They're Manny Moe and Jack

Once your inside
they wont take you for a ride
they got a good deal for you and your automobile
for the right price
they will sell you fuzzy dice
and leather hand grips for your steering wheel

If its tires you want they got a lot for you
Dunlop, Firestone, Pirelli too

Many Moe and Jack
They know what I’m after

Monday 8 May 2023

The Search For New Music

When I started listening to and buying music, there was 20+ years of the past to supplement the current offerings.  At this point everything is new (even if it is old).  A regular balance of old and new began to fill my shelves.

And then as one settles into a preferred style or genres, the new becomes the focus and discoveries of the past become more focussed.  Like when such-and-such releases a new album and you realise that you don't own the back catalogue (or selected parts of it) - this is where mid-price re-issues come into their own, allowing the latecomer to build a collection at a reduced cost.  And then in the internet age, the simplicity of Amazon Marketplace and MusicMagpie makes the "gap filling" even easier.

But I can't help noticing that a lot of new stuff that arrives and I get overly excited about is the latest album from an established name.

Over the last 5 years (off the top of my head) has seen the new names appear on my spreadsheet:

  • Public Service Broadcasting
  • The Strypes
  • First Aid Kit
  • The Vaccines
  • Parquet Courts
  • Trembling Bells
  • White Denim
  • Fontaines DC
  • Mattiel
  • Sam Fender
  • Chubby & The Gang
  • Hamish Hawk
  • Yard Act
  • Block 33
  • Wet Leg
  • Humdrum Express
  • Massive Wagons
  • Sports Team
  • Big Joanie
Fine names, and fine albums released and thoroughly enjoyed.
But ... in that time period, I have bought around 200 CDs , the 19 names above represent about 10% of the total.
Even ignoring the relentless gap filling and back catalogue buying, I reckon it's still only 25% that is from new artists.

So what does it all mean?  Nothing really - it's all music, and very good music too.  I'm just concerned that (a) I might be missing something, or (b) maybe there isn't that much new (which appeals to my taste) out there.

I have a subscription to Mojo, trawl various websites and blogs for recommendations, and listen intently to 6Music hoping for inspiration.  It does happen, just not as often as it did in my younger days.
Is there less new stuff around, or have my tastes dictated that there is little worth investigating as I settle back to enjoy so-and-sos debut album from 1984 ... for the 973rd time.

And the slightly more sobering thought - many of those I have purchased, seen live, followed in print, and generally advocated to anyone who'll listen are now nearing (or passed) the generally accepted retirement age of 65 to 67, and may well be thinking of stepping back taking it easy and enjoying a quiet life.

The quest continues ... I'm sure it's out there, but like some Grail I must continue to search.
There must be some New somewhere ...

Oh I'm looking around, but I ain't hit the spot
I need three minutes now that'll make my heart stop
Oh so tell me that it's too late
It's a race against the clock
But I'm still looking around
I'm searching for the sacred scrolls of pop

Tuesday 2 May 2023

Glen Matlock - Consequences Coming

Glen Matlock wrote the songs for the Sex Pistols.  When he left the band / was ousted from the band (depending on which version of the story you go for - Glen's version or the legend) he retained a relationship with EMI leading to an outlet for his new band The Rich Kids.  The album 'Ghosts Of Princes In Towers' was prime power-pop harking back to Glen's infatuation with Small Faces and 60s Mod, but was scuppered by production.  Mick Ronson basically turned the faders up to full and left them there.  The album was "recorded" rather than "produced".
Within a year The Rich Kids started falling apart and Midge Ure and Rusty Egan decamped to Visage (with Billy Currie and Steve Strange) and effectively set the template for New Romanticism.
He may not have had the highest profile solo career, but he has kept himself busy with the writing of a memoir (I Was A Teenage Sex Pistol - he got in there quick to tell his side of the story, and the book still sits as an essential text in the story), plenty of session and sideman work including Iggy Pop, Faces, Sex Pistols reformations, King Mob, and most recently Blondie.  He's also kept his own name out there (albeit at a small-scale level) with his own solo outings - the last of which was 'Good To Go' in 2018.

Since that album there have been 2 major events that feed into this album.  The first being Brexit - he is an outspoken opponent of Brexit, and the Covid pandemic.  Whilst his opinions on the latter are not as vociferous as the former, his position as a touring musician (ie where most of his income is from) was in suspension.
So taking the frustration of the former and using the time given by the latter has produced 13 songs with something to say, and a bunch of riffs helping the message along.  
Plus his address book affords a guest list that anyone would be pleased with including Earl Slick (David Bowie sideman), Clem Burke (Blondie tub thumper), Neal X (Sigue Sigue Sputnick / Iggy Pop) and bass duties by Nornan Watt-Roy.

"Head On A Stick" and "Consequences Coming" open the album fully charged and railing.  But next track "Magic Carpet Rides" drops the levels.  All good songs (including an unexpected cover of kd lang's "Constant Craving".
It is side 2 (in old money) where the album picks up speed again with a duffer-free run of 6 tracks - the prime picks being "Face In A Crowd" and "The Ship".
Musically it's a mix of a 70s Rock sound (no doubt inspired by his love of Faces and Humble Pie) plus a bit of Slade thrown in and a Rockabilly swing throughout.  My only real criticism is Glen's voice - it's a good voice, and good for the song styles here.  But mate, you're from West London.  Why the mid-Atlantic singing voice?
A minor quibble for an otherwise consistent quality album - he wrote the songs 40 odd years ago, and is still capable of penning a catchy little number with a message.  It just may not get the same audience (either now or in future years).

Head On A Stick

Face In A Crowd

The Ship