Hands Off Castledown

They tell you the school’s not worthy

But sister they don’t care

They’ve got a new covenant

And an ark that’s going spare

 

Cain slayed his brother

Or so the Bible says

And Noah rescued animals

While wearing an Egyptian fez

It’s art for ark sake

Hands off Castledown

We don’t want mini automatons

In a world that’s falling down

 

They’ll be sacrificing the first born

So sister it’s time to care

They’re taking lambs to the slaughter

In the emperor’s new underwear

 

Cain slayed his brother

Or so the Bible says

And Noah rescued animals

While wearing an Egyptian fez

It’s art for ark sake

Hands off Castledown

We don’t want mini automatons

In a world that’s falling down

 

They tell you there’s no option

But sister you still care

They’ll try a cruel diversion

With a SATuration scare

 

Cain slayed his brother

Or so the Bible says

And Noah rescued animals

While wearing an Egyptian fez

It’s art for ark sake

Hands off Castledown

We don’t want mini automatons

In a world that’s falling down

 

The contract is worth millions

But sister you won’t care

They’ll be shooting up on anything

Because tomorrow’s never there

 

Cain slayed his brother

Or so the Bible says

And Noah rescued animals

While wearing an Egyptian fez

It’s art for ark sake

Hands off Castledown

We don’t want mini automatons

In a world that’s falling down

 

 

 

I died in 1988

nde-blog

 I AM not frightened of death… I have already died.

And it was beautiful.

My death all happened one bright day in May 1988…

“Tell me how it feels?”

It was my mother’s voice; there was no mistaking that. I struggled to say something but a dryness in my throat allowed only a smile.

She clenched my left hand.

Beyond her the ward clock reported 9.30.

I drifted back to sleep.

Sometime later I again opened my eyes.

Mother’s own eyes brightened and, as if from her mouth, I heard my father ask: “How is it son?”

I was surprised. I managed to reply: “Fine, but I can’t move.”

The ward clock betrayed 10.10.

“Is that all it is?” I asked looking up at the wall, knowing that I had been led to the operating table at 8.30am.

“It’s 10pm,” my father replied.

I gagged… why had I been out for more than 13 hours?

Over the next three days my parents, surgeons and nursing staff gradually outlined to me the most telling day of my life: a day when surgeons worked tirelessly to remove two thirds of my right lung and repair a damaged aortic artery.

It was an operation plagued with difficulty and twice they thought they had lost me. But working straight through, they never gave up and used finely honed skills to take away the cancer and repair my body.

So what of my own memories…

I recall being taken down to theatre that morning, laughing and joking with the trolley porter and nurse. Whether the personal euphoria was due to unreleased fear or the pre-med tablet I had been given some hour earlier, I will never know.

I also recall being administered the drugs to send me to sleep for the duration of the operation. Again, my memory is that of lightness and love.

I also have vague recollections of waking from the operation momentarily around 1pm that day, seeing my parents’ faces above me, and then coughing violently.

It was that cough that tore the stitching between my aortic artery and the remaining lobe of my right lung.

And within seconds my chest cavity began filling with blood as my lung collapsed and my heart went into overdrive.

I was enveloped by dazzling white light and warmth. Faces swirled above me and I looked down on my own prostate body on the hospital bed.

I was drifting.

Meanwhile, surgeons, doctors and nurses fought to save my life.

Apparently I died for 16 minutes and there was no pain, no fear, no despair.

Instead, it was a rebirth of life and spirit.

The physical aspects of my rebirth have been a boring gain in weight and seasonal hay fever, which I had never suffered from previously.

But the psychological changes have been manifest: no care for a career or future, dazzling vocal dreams, spiritual awakening, ESP and hours of deep thinking.

My own NDE (Near-Death Experience) changed me forever.

According to experts, such experiences may encompass a variety of sensations including detachment from the body, feelings of levitation, total serenity, security, warmth, the experience of absolute dissolution, and the presence of a light.

Neuroscience research suggests that an NDE is a subjective phenomenon resulting from “disturbed bodily multisensory integration” that occurs during life-threatening events.

NDEs are also a recognized part of some transcendental and religious beliefs in an afterlife, dating back to the ancient Egyptians and Greeks.

Natasha Tassell-Matamua of Massey University, New Zealand, says that 20 percent of cardiac arrest survivors and between four and nine percent of the general public are estimated to have had an NDE.

“Those reporting NDEs often describe a profound psychological event that is mystical, transcendental, or even spiritual in nature; where the boundaries between space, time, and normal perceptual awareness become blurred,” she says.

Some who have survived an NDE describe an “out-of-body” experience and have been able to accurately describe resuscitation efforts.

Others have described seeing a bright light at the end of a tunnel, strange and other-worldly landscapes, or claim to have seen their lives flash before their eyes.

Now it has all been brought amazingly to life by the magic of TV.

Netflix’s drama series The OA, is a dizzying tale of Near-Death Experiences and inter-dimensional travel seen through the eyes of a once blind woman.

The series follows Prairie – a woman who lost her sight as a child, went missing aged 21, and returned seven years later able to see again.

As the series progresses, Prairie tells the story of how she ran away from her adoptive family to find her Russian father, only to be captured and experimented on by a scientist obsessed with Near-Death Experiences.

She explains that along with her fellow captives, she was killed over and again in a drowning machine to induce NDEs.

Brit Marling, who plays Prairie and co-wrote the show, said she first came up with the idea after speaking to a young woman who had experienced an NDE.

“When she described her experience, I was really riveted by the idea,” she says.

“She described leaving her body and the sensation of being above herself. 

“All concerns and preoccupations went away and the only thing that remained in her mind was this question: ‘Did I tell the people I love enough how much I love them?’ 

“It became that simple. Then she rocketed back into her body. 

“When you meet this woman, she has a kind of vividness and self-possession and ferocity that’s uncanny. It seemed like she’s really in control of her life.”

Researchers have identified the common elements that define Near-Death Experiences.

Although the features of NDEs vary from one case to the next, common traits that have been reported by NDErs are:

  • A sense/awareness of being dead.
  • A sense of peace, well-being and painlessness. Positive emotions. A sense of removal from the world.
  • An out-of-body experience. A perception of one’s body from an outside position. Sometimes observing medical professionals performing resuscitation efforts.
  • A “tunnel experience” or entering a darkness. A sense of moving up, or through, a passageway or staircase.
  • A rapid movement toward and/or sudden immersion in a powerful light (or “Being of Light”) which communicates with the person.
  • An intense feeling of unconditional love and acceptance.
  • Encountering “Beings of Light”, “Beings dressed in white”, or similar. Also, the possibility of being reunited with deceased loved ones.
  • Receiving a life review, commonly referred to as “seeing one’s life flash before one’s eyes”.
  • Receiving knowledge about one’s life and the nature of the universe.
  • Approaching a border, or a decision by oneself or others to return to one’s body, often accompanied by a reluctance to return.
  • Suddenly finding oneself back inside one’s body.
  • Connection to the cultural beliefs held by the individual, which seem to dictate some of the phenomena experienced in the NDE and particularly the later interpretation thereof.

The NDE stages have been noted for their similarity to the so-called hero’s journey in literature. Kenneth Ring (1980) subdivided the NDE on a five-stage continuum:

  1. Peace
  2. Body separation
  3. Entering darkness
  4. Seeing the light
  5. Entering the light

He stated that 60 percent experienced stage 1 (feelings of peace and contentment), but only 10 percent experienced stage 5 (“entering the light”).

Instead, they reported dream-like or hallucinatory scenarios.

These mental experiences ranged from terrifying to blissful.

Others, however, experienced the opposite sensation, with 22 percent reporting “a feeling of peace or pleasantness”.

Heightened senses, a distorted perception of the passage of time and a feeling of disconnection from the body were also common sensations that survivors reported.

So are NDEs real and is there an after-life?

The Enlightenment was an intellectual movement which dominated the world of ideas in Europe in the 18th century.

It included a range of ideas centred on reason as the primary source of authority and legitimacy, and came to advance ideals like liberty, progress, tolerance, fraternity, constitutional government, and separation of church and state.

The Enlightenment was marked by an emphasis on the scientific method and reductionism along with increased questioning of religious orthodoxy – an attitude captured by the phrase Sapere aude, “Dare to know”.

Yet, despite this mass expansion of education and reasoning, a nine-year-old child in 21st century Britain acquired more knowledge in one term at school than the average person did during an entire lifetime in the 18th century.

My great grandmother was born in 1875 and died in 1970, aged 95.

During her lifetime she saw the first motor car, manned flight, the discovery of penicillin, the development of the Atom bomb, the first satellites, and even man landing on the moon.

But she died before HIV/Aids, microwave ovens, home computers, colour television, the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station, routine heart and lung transplants, cloning, cures for many cancers, CCTV, mobile phones and the internet.

Our knowledge is ever-expanding and whether you are a rationalist or existentialist, there is still so much about life and our universe which we have yet to understand.

But one thing is certain…I died, but now I am alive.

 

Fans United will never be defeated

AA Wrexham 3

ON 8 February, 1997, fans of Arsenal, Liverpool, Spurs, Chelsea, Charlton Athletic, Preston North End, Crystal Palace, and countless other English football clubs, mingled with Real Madrid, Eintracht Frankfurt and Red Star Belgrade supporters – all in their team colours – on the crumbling terraces of the Goldstone Ground.

They had travelled from across the UK, and beyond, to watch visitors Hartlepool United take on Brighton and Hove Albion, then rooted firmly at the very bottom of the Football League.

But, more importantly, they were there to stand side-by-side with beleaguered Albion fans, as our club teetered on the very edge of extinction.

With supporters fighting a bitter war against the club’s despised owners, home games in the 1996/97 season had been played in front of ever-dwindling crowds, and in an increasingly desperate and hostile atmosphere.

But this was different.

Despite the cold and damp of a foggy afternoon, this felt like a carnival.

The Albion players rose to the occasion, thrashing Hartlepool 5–0.

“We’d like to thank you for coming,” sang the Albion faithful to the many guests.

The story of the Brighton and Hove Albion’s fight against their rogue owners has been well documented previously, both by myself and others.

But the Fan’s United Day, was the sole inspiration of one person, a 15 year-old Plymouth Argyle fan, Richard Vaughan.

His simple message on a fledgling Albion message board, was the trigger:

“It makes me sick what is happening to your club, and it’s an insult to your fans. I’m a Plymouth fan and I think that one week when we’re away, I’m going to come up and support your protest. I think it would be a good idea if loads of fans from different clubs turned up at Brighton (with their shirts on) and joined in. It would show that we’re all behind you 100%”

Anyway, that was then, and this is now… well not quite!

This is a transcript of an interview I did with Richard Vaughan for BBC Radio Five Live’s Victoria Derbyshire Show, back in April 2005.

The transcript has remained buried on an old external hard drive, and the 20th anniversary of that Fans United Day, reminded me where I had left it.

This is the first time it has ever been published.

Apologies to Richard – who is now a married father of three – for the 12 year delay!

What are your memories of watching your first ever football match?

Compared to most other people I was quite a late starter getting into the beautiful game. It was Christmas time 1993, I was 12 years-old and the match was Argyle v Fulham at Home Park.

My dad took me, and my cousin came along who was down visiting from north Wales. Walking into the stadium for the first time I was really taken in by the whole occasion and was completely hooked.

What have been the highs and lows of following Plymouth Argyle?

There’s been a lot of highs and lows following Argyle over the last eleven and a half years, but never a dull moment. The first season in 93/94 we played some excellent football and really should have been promoted. It all came down to the last day of the season but unfortunately results didn’t go our way and we missed out on automatic promotion by just three points.

We then suffered the fate of so many other teams that have finished third, losing in the play-offs to a Burnley side who were a staggering 12 points behind us! I remember feeling completely cheated and thinking this complete miscarriage of justice shouldn’t be allowed to happen, it was the first time I cried at football!

The biggest highs of following Argyle would obviously have to be the three promotion seasons.

The first in 95/96 we were promoted via the Third Division Play-Offs. The semi-final second leg against Colchester at Home Park is still the best game I’ve ever been to. We were trailing one nil from the first leg so the pressure was really on. We scored the decisive goal with just five minutes to go which prevented the game from going into extra time and for the first time in their history sent Argyle to Wembley.

The whole place erupted at the end with everyone running on the pitch to celebrate with the players, I’ve still never seen a better atmosphere at Home Park. We took around 36,000 fans to the final at Wembley to see the Greens beat Darlington one nil, a very proud day.

The Paul Sturrock era at Home Park has to be the biggest high the club was ever been through. When he took over in 2000 we had fallen to our lowest league position in the clubs history. The crowds were at an all time low and were heading for the Conference.

Paul worked miracles without spending hardly any money at all he created two championship winning squads over just three and a half years! The first Third Division winning season would have to be my favourite out of the two as it was so unexpected, we actually won something!

At 15 years-old, how did you become aware of the situation at Brighton and Hove Albion?

I remember listening to Radio Five Live one afternoon back in 1996 and hearing about the York game when people ran on the pitch and broke the goal posts. I then started following the club’s fortunes every week and started reading the fans views on the internet.

Where did the idea for Fans United come from?

One evening I was browsing through the Brighton fans’ website which I had been keeping up to date with on a regular basis since the York match.

The whole Archer situation had really come to a head and things really did seem bleak for the club.

There seemed no way out and I just couldn’t quite believe that a club like Albion with so much history and fantastic support could cease to exist. Browsing through the web site there was an overwhelming amount of anger, sadness and support expressed from supporters of clubs all over the world.

It seemed to have touched every real fan in some way and something big really had to be done to make people stand up and notice how money a greed were killing this great club.

What sparked you to write the message?

I was so wound-up with everything that was going on that I stated on the message board that I was going to come along to an Albion match wearing my own colours to show my support for the cause and that others should join in too. As there was so many messages of support from other clubs it seemed the best way we could all show the football world that fans were united in their support for the Albion.    

What are your memories of the Fans United Day?

I was really overwhelmed with the immense support of unity shown on the original day, it was action packed from start to finish. We met up mid-morning with a few of the main organisers on the green opposite the Goldstone Ground.

Crowds were already starting to form everywhere, including people from all walks of the media. AFC Bournemouth were themselves in financial trouble at the time and there was also a group of fans from the club doing a collection of their own.

I thought this was really good as it showed what Fans United was all about, truly a day for all fans of football. It was amazing seeing so many teams colours, I think all of the 92 league clubs were easily represented, quite a few from Europe and a fair few from non-league as well.

The turnstile queues around the ground were huge, it was quite a wait to get into the ground. One of the funniest moments I remember was an Albion fan opening one of the emergency gates in the ground and shouting to people in the queue “Quick come in this way, Archer won’t get any more money of us then!”

A good few hundred fans managed to get in for free, nobody cared as this was all part of what the day stood for. The atmosphere behind the goal was immense before kick-off and didn’t let up at all throughout the game. It was really heart-warming to see so many groups of fans all mixing together and all in good nature, I think I even had a chat with an Exeter fan!

Did you follow Brighton and Hove Albion’s fortunes closely in the immediate months and years following February 1997?

Since Fans United I have always made a point of checking the results to see how Albion are getting on every week. I was really nervous listening to the Brighton v Hereford game on the final day of the Fans United season, I was going through the motions as if it was my own team playing!

The worst Albion moment was seeing you guys get promoted at Home Park it was horrible! Although we made up for it by winning the league the following season so I’ll let you have that one. I’ve also been keeping up to date with the ground situation at Albion. It’s an utter disgrace they still haven’t been given the go head to build a new stadium. The Withdean is no way near good enough for a club like Brighton. They could easily be attracting crowds in the region of 15 to 20 thousand and the current capacity is tiny.

I was annoyed with one of the Talk Sport presenters the other morning as he was trying to put Albion down for getting such low home gates, typical I suppose of the ignorant Premiership worshipers!

Have you followed/been aware of the financial crises facing many other football clubs during the past few years? For example: Bradford City, Notts County, Exeter City, Wrexham and Cambridge United.

It’s really sad there seems to always be a club in the news these days that’s in financial trouble. Something drastic really needs to be done soon or we’ll be facing a situation where the country only has two or three professional leagues.

There’s so much money being thrown around by the bigger clubs it seems crazy, Wayne Rooney’s wages over two weeks would probably be enough money to save one of the struggling clubs. One the best ideas I heard once would be to bring in a transfer tax in the Premiership whereby one or two percent of every transfer fee is kept by the FA and put into a kitty. This money could then be distributed around the lower leagues to keep the smaller clubs going.

What are your views on the financial structuring of professional football in this country?

The television money from Sky was improved recently but I still don’t think we all get a fair share of it. If Sky chose to show so many games in one league per season then I think each club should get their fair share of appearances.

It’s also quite worrying how expensive it is to get into a grounds these days. If prices continue to spiral our of control the way they are now the normal man on the street won’t be able to afford to go anymore which is a tragedy. This is one of the reasons the atmospheres in Premiership grounds with the exception of the newly promoted clubs seem to be non-existent as the real fans just can’t afford to go.

What are your views on the whole Fans United movement and how it has developed?

I have mixed feelings that Fans United is still going strong today. One side of me is very proud that fans are still coming together to try and fix the wrongs of the beautiful game, which is great to see. I still have to pinch myself sometimes that all this came about from one of my teenage rants one night over the internet!

The other side of me is quite sad that we still have to go to these lengths to save the clubs that generations have supported all their lives. It’s now a regular thing in the news to read about a club going into financial crisis. It’s now just a case of which one next. In an ideal world there would be no more need for Fans United but unfortunately with the way things are going this isn’t the case.

Do fans have the power to make real changes in the game?

Yes definitely, without the fans football is nothing. We’re the reason football is here today and the people making money out of it should try and remember that sometimes.

How does it feel eight years later?

It still feels very surreal that all of this came about from one night’s ranting over the internet. As I said before I have mixed feeling that it’s still going but it makes me very proud that fan power is alive and well.

  • Thank you, Richard. Thanks too, to Warren Christmas for the introductory few paragraphs, taken from his wonderful blog: The inside story of Fans United – How Danny Baker helped to save Brighton & Hove Albion FC

 

African Jasmine

I dreamed of you in the desert dust

In a war-torn land condemned

All the way from Mogadishu

To old Jerusalem

 

See the villages they are burning

Hear the screams of mice and men

Smell that sweet jasmine blooming

Watch the ghost of freedom descend

 

Well, God is in His heaven

He’s there when the wind does bend

But power and greed and corruptible sin

Is the devil’s dividend

 

Now, I’m staring at the window

Watching the February clouds ascend

Listening to the last crescendo

Trying to make amends

 

I hear your voice in honey dew

Your perfect words transcend

All the way from Notting Hill

To the last World’s End

 

Nomad Speaks

Remember that day when your father died

Lost in the moment you swallowed your pride

Embraced your loved ones blacker than white

A spirit stronger than hatred was at work that night

 

Wrap up your heart

And open your soul

Empty your sins

Until you feel whole

Hush for a moment

As the violet shrieks

Look to the skies

And Nomad Speaks

 

Remember that day when you found out the truth

Lost in the moment you didn’t need proof

All those tears shed on the Wall were shed in vain

In this life nothing learnt means nothing is gained

 

Wrap up your heart

And open your soul

Empty your sins

Until you feel whole

Hush for a moment

As the violet shrieks

Look to the skies

And Nomad Speaks

 

Remember that day when the axe came right down

Lost in the moment as it split open your crown

Blood ran in torrents across your eyes and your face

But the true love of others was your saving grace
 

Wrap up your heart

And open your soul

Empty your sins

Until you feel whole

Hush for a moment

As the violet shrieks

Look to the skies

And Nomad Speaks

 

Fans United Will Never Be Defeated

Ken Richardson’s fire

Stoked the Doncaster ire

It only took a spark

To ignite his moment in the dark

 

They can’t understand

In their money-grabbing hands

When they try to steal our game

They are all the bloody same

We will not be tamed and seated

Fans united together

Will never be defeated

 

Bill Archer made a killing

From his crooked Goldstone shilling

But the soaring Seagulls now fly

Under a blue and white sky

 

They can’t understand

In their money-grabbing hands

When they try to steal our game

They are all the bloody same

We will not be tamed and seated

Fans united together

Will never be defeated

 

Alex Hamilton’s wrecking ball

Swung the Racecourse call

As the evil ball came down

Wrexham’s fans saved their ground

 

They can’t understand

In their money-grabbing hands

When they try to steal our game

They are all the bloody same

We will not be tamed and seated

Fans united together

Will never be defeated

 

Roland Duchatelet’s sleight of hand

Unites the Valley stand

The fans now deal their own CARD

As they clear him from their yard

 

They can’t understand

In their money-grabbing hands

When they try to steal our game

They are all the bloody same

We will not be tamed and seated

Fans united together

Will never be defeated

 

Karl Oyston sues football fans for fun

But his regime is now undone

Under the famous Blackpool lights

Here come the Tangerine Knights

 

They can’t understand

In their money-grabbing hands

When they try to steal our game

They are all the bloody same

We will not be tamed and seated

Fans united together

Will never be defeated

 

The Artist

Come to a place where black is the colour

Under Vincent’s starry night

Light cascades into pastel and charcoal

With bright eyes on a Moscow night

 

This is your place

This is your space

Where Suburbia

Meets Utopia

 

The painter does paint and the evening cries

The dawn is surely coming

The broken road leads to St Petersburg

And the sky is softly humming

 

This is your place

This is your space

Where Suburbia

Meets Utopia

 

Elena she waits with baited breath

Her canvas is an open door

Colour it paints a camera that sings

From the ceiling to the wooden floor

 

This is your place

This is your space

Where Suburbia

Meets Utopia

 

So dance in the snow laden moonlight

Amid sketches of shadowy grey

The burning chair beholds an impression

Where the Pet Shop boys do play

 

This is your place

This is your space

Where Suburbia

Meets Utopia

 

It’s bitterly cold and the frost hangs still

Under the pale sun of the winter weather

The evening light sighs and the steely skies

Light spoken images for ever and ever

 

This is your place

This is your space

Where Suburbia

Meets Utopia

 

Painting by Instagram

Sitting at home I landed in Moscow

With a tall  blonde artist by my side

The scenery around us made me stumble

And my thoughts they too began to slide

But pretty Elena, she was so humble

Now everything was black and white

 

Hitting a key I arrived in Brussels

On a journey so bumpy that I almost cried

Bright-eyed Elke painted Paul’s Blackbird

And her 20/20 vision it was so wide

The young artist was more than a password

As her colours shimmered in shades of light

 

Driving on I stopped over in Lombardy

With Michael Caine’s ‘Job’ on my mind

Dark-haired Sara was beginning a journey

And her Nikon camera strapped close behind

Through her eyes she unwrapped her country

Well beyond HG Wells’ colours of the blind

 

A special airlift dropped me in Berlin

The freedom of thought could now be told

German Ginette danced in the moonlight

Her views by the wall were bright and bold

This girl’s photographs shone like a searchlight

Like Burton’s spy coming in from the cold

 

Music was my first love and it will be my last

EBP_B465-30_Bob Dylan14

Over the past decade, I can count on the fingers of one hand the times a new musical artist has touched my soul and changed my order of all things.

That is quite a profound statement from someone married to the bone to Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, Joni Mitchell, Paul Weller, and other septuagenarian dinosaurs of rock.

My first new awakening happened in 2004, when a long-time musical friend Michelle Shocked, suggested I look up her New York based pal Mary Lee’s Corvette (aka Mary Lee Kortes).

I ordered Mary Lee’s first two albums – purely on the back of Michelle’s recommendation – and was entranced.

A few months later I hurried along to watch her perform as support to Thea Gilmore at Newcastle upon Tyne’s famous Cluny venue.

I was knocked out and left the gig before Thea appeared, not wishing to dim the experience.

I have since followed and listened to everything Mary Lee has produced and over time, she too has become a good friend.

mary-lee-blog

Check out her whole album homage to Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks if you are not convinced and her new concept album The Songs of Beulah Rowley, is probably one of the most important releases of 2016.

My second enlightenment occurred in 2007 when I happened to go and watch the legendary Fairport Convention at Shrewsbury Music Hall.

The support act that cold February evening was an acoustic band, named Tiny Tin Lady.

Whoosh… these four young women’s playing of their own self-penned songs was mesmerising and their album The Sound of Requiem (which I bought during the interval) didn’t leave my car CD player for the next four weeks.

By various connections, in the May of 2007 I was asked to undertake the PR for the band and a long-lasting friendship was made.

Self-described as indie celery with a side of hummus the girls had already toured with Midge Ure, Jah Wobble and the English Roots Band by the time I first met them.

Whereas most girls in their early 20s may be star-struck by the likes of the Arctic Monkeys or Robbie Williams, Tiny Tin Lady were happy to admit that meeting Robert Plant was one of the highlights of their career, who walked into their dressing room after seeing them perform with Fairport.

Plant described the band as: “Absolutely marvellous, brilliant. And incredible voices.”

ttl-blog

The Sound of Requiem, released in 2005, had received rave reviews from the music press. Soon after I met the band, the girls began work on their second album Ridiculous Bohemia.

Released in 2008, it remains one of my favourite ever albums, and the song Fall Into Line is simply amazing.

The band split in 2010, but their bass player Helen Holmes has remained a best friend, soul mate and constant source of inspiration.

The next surprise addition to my music catalogue came just last Christmas at a mega concert for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Simply titled Concert for Corbyn, the gig at Brighton’s Dome included a stellar line-up including Kathryn Williams, The Farm, Robert Wyatt, Bill Ryder Jones, Stealing Sheep, Danny Thompson and Paul Weller.

The event was four hours of pure musical pleasure. But the surprise was a singer and guitarist in Paul Weller’s band called Steve Pilgrim, who was given the space to perform four solo numbers.

One of these songs, which he dedicated personally to Jeremy Corbyn, was Explode the Sun – one of the most amazing numbers I have ever heard.

Steve was originally the drummer for The Stands who were part of Liverpool’s Bandwagon scene in the early 2000s. After leaving the band he played with The Cuckolds and began work as a session musician playing with artists such as Akeboshi and Sophie Solomon.

Steve then went on to drum for Paul Weller joining his band for the 22 Dreams tour and played on the album Wake Up the Nation (2010).

But this drummer also began establishing a career as a singer-songwriter, releasing three amazing solo albums Lover, Love Her (2007) Sunshine (2009) and Pixels and Paper (2011) – on which Explode the Sun appears.

So within two weeks of first seeing Steve on the Brighton stage, I bought all three of his albums and have already pre-ordered his new album Morning Skies, scheduled for release next month.

For this stripped back and intimate acoustic album Steve enlisted the help of two of his mates from the Brighton gig: the legendary double bass player Danny Thompson and Paul Weller on keyboards.

pilgrim-blog

If you are already familiar with Steve’s work this album is his most melancholy, the most honest and most intimate work to date. Pure musical joy.

The stand out song is the title track, which is simply sublime.

Believe me, this guy is worth listening to!

And so that brings us up to date… well, not quite.

Now for the newest and latest addition to my personal play list, and what a find she is!

Through an accident on the social media picture messaging board Instagram, I stumbled across Canadian born – but LA based – singer-songwriter Lindsay Kupser, and what a discovery!

A graduate of Berklee College of Music where she studied Jazz Composition and Performance, Lindsay is a significant and unique musician, with a naked sound reminiscent of the aforementioned Steve Pilgrim, or a young Joni Mitchell.

Her first album The Boston EP, was recorded in February 2014, after she graduated from Berklee and each of the six songs have a certain jazz feel – such is the comparison to Joni Mitchell.

The song It Hurts, is a number I keep playing – just beautiful.

Lindsay’s second album Quiet Songs was released in 2015 and recorded live in the studio. It is an emotional and musical gem.

The album opens with the wonderful All of my Bones Broke on Thursday Evening, a nu-acoustic song of brutal observations on love and heartbreak.

Lindsay’s voice resonates somewhere between Kathryn Williams and the wonderful Laura Marling.

“I don’t want to take her picture, she needs it to breath,” she sings… wow!

The stripped down soundscape continues with Couldn’t Move to Brooklyn where Lindsay sings about her decision not to follow so many young artists and make the well-worn pilgrimage to Brooklyn in New York.

“Pour on the Turpentine and ignite the flame, I’m not afraid of the light or the pain,” she sings on It Is My Turn, a mournful ballad, with the stunning refrain: “It’s my turn and I want to get burned”.

The song is already a classic.

On Tough Country we get a snatch into Lindsay’s childhood memories, as she describes her Calgary childhood home while sitting and observing old photographs. It is sweetly reminiscent of Michelle Shocked’s Memories of East Texas.

The five-track Quiet Songs concludes with Everything Feels So Hard Always, beautiful reflection of the difficulties of big life decisions.

Look out for this woman… her songs might just change your life.