Groovy Kind of Love

 

Yet another year has spun around since the last Record Store Day, but last weekend stores, labels, and enthusiasts around the globe geared up for a milestone 10th celebration of the collision of music and vinyl. And today’s photo, taken at the somewhat overcrowded FOPP store in trendy Byres Road on Saturday, was one of the many RSD venues from around the globe that took part in the occasion. 

 

Although the digital revolution certainly has stymied the survival of record stores worldwide, it never managed to completely eradicate their influence. In fact, vinyl sales are storming up the charts for the tenth year in a row, according to industry reports. That’s not too much of a shocker, given that vinyl’s skyward trend has been accompanied by the ten-year run of RSD that allows us to pick up limited and special edition LPs.

 

It’s nice, though, seeing a resurgence in something that we all once took for granted before the rise of MP3 — but vinyl records are far, far more sexy. Unlike an MP3, with vinyl you can rush home holding it tenderly under your arm, and then begin the seduction of undressing it out of its jacket – and perhaps underneath, if you are lucky, you’ll find another white hidden layer before you get to hold it naked in your hands.

 

While this may seem perverse to some 21st-century listeners, that’s how most of us started our intimate, groovy kind of love with music, through vinyl. Do you remember your first time? My first trip to a record shop was in 1971 – Sound Developments’ in Kirkintilloch – to spend my hard-earned pocket money on the 7” No.1 hit by Sally Carr with Middle of the Road, Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep (we’ve all got to start somewhere).

 

Leica M6 Classic & 1.4/50mm Summilux pre-asph v2

Fomapan 200

HC-110 (Dil.H – 1:63 @ 9 minutes)

Plustek 7600i & Vuescan

Likes(14)Dislikes(0)

 

Glasgow has always had a reputation as a city of buskers. A healthy folk music scene has provided the streets with a steady supply of acoustic musicians, and the city has never been short of drunk men with tin whistles, chancing their luck in shop doorways.

 

But one of my favourites is Alec Johnstone, Glasgow’s answer to Acker Bilk, the solo jazz clarinetist who can be found in his usual pitch in Exchange Place – just off the hustle and bustle of Buchanan Street – nearby the city’s famed Rogano Restaurant, where he once used to work.

 

Govan-born Alec has played his fair share of jazz clubs throughout the country and would easily pass as the doppelgänger of another Glasgow jazz legend, George Chisholm, though sans trombone and instead his trusty clarinet. And influenced by a lifetime performing in the smokey atmosphere of those jazz clubs, he’s a chain-smoker, and between songs, he’ll stop for a quick drag and will often rest his half-smoked fag on his clarinet, almost as if the instrument has also picked up the habit!

 

He always starts and ends each busking day with “Stranger on the Shore“, Acker Bilk’s iconic signature tune – originally called “Jenny”, and named for his young daughter – that became the second No.1 hit single by a British artist in the United States on the Billboard Hot 100 when it was released in 1962.

 

Leica M6 Classic & 2.8/90mm Elmarit

Fomapan 200

HC-110 (Dil.H – 1:63 @ 8:30 minutes)

Plustek 7600i & Vuescan

Likes(18)Dislikes(0)

 

According to a new research study, it seems that the traditional fish and chip shop is taking a veritable “battering” and could make a shock disappearance from British streets – and all because those pesky, dietary-savvy millennials are shunning deep fried food in favour of more exotic takeaways.

 

Fish and chips are now deemed “out of touch” with modern times (but no doubt Nigel Farago and Ukip will somehow blame all this on the EU), and burger bars – even high-end, boutique burgers for the hipster clientele, such as Meathammer Ltd., located in oh-so-trendy Byres Road in Glasgow’s West End – are cashing in on this market with lighter takeaway menus that come replete with salads for those that like to adhere to the strict five-a-day regime.

 

Growing up in early 1970s Kirkintilloch, it was the ‘Chippies’ that ruled supreme in an era when “five-a-day” would often amount to your daily fried food intake, not forgetting to include a tasty dessert of the Scottish invention of a deep fried Mars Bar. And in those innocent artery-clogging times, we even had dear old departed Bert Schiavone’s mobile fish and chip van – a fire hazard on wheels, as he often called it – that toured the scheme, just like an ice-cream van.

 

Leica M3 & 1.4/50mm Summilux pre-asph v2

Sekonic L-308S

Ilford FP4+ (200)

HC-110 (Dil. B – 12 min)

Plustek 7600i & Vuescan 

Likes(12)Dislikes(0)

 

It’s been a week since British PM Theresa May officially triggered article 50 to leave the bosom of the EU, and here’s what the last 7-days has seen: an outbreak of jingoistic, Union Jack flag-waving in certain sectors of the English press; the threat of going to war with Spain over Gibraltar; the spending announcement of £500 million on a new, very patriotic dark blue passport (instead of funds going to the NHS, as it said on the bus); and to cap it all, a bunch of right-wing fundamentalists’ now calling for the return of imperial measures.

 

Honestly, the idea that voting to leave the EU was a vote for an exciting new world of 21st-century British sovereignty, rather than a desire for a nostalgic, rose-tinted vision of a Jerusalem-infused green and pleasant Land of 1950s and 60s Britain, is really becoming harder to sustain with each passing day. I look forward any day now for the excited call from Jacob Rees-Mogg and his like-minded ilk for the re-introduction of rationing.

 

Imperial Linear Measure, ie. miles, yards and inches etc are still used in the U.K. despite metric measures, meters, kilograms etc, becoming more prevalent. The plaque and the standard imperial measures of length have been a permanent fixture on the front entrance to the wall of Glasgow City Chambers since 1882 (along with another larger one painted on the pavement beside it), and many – like moi – have walked past it without even giving it a second glance.

 

Good job it’s still there, though – because the way things are going, at least we’ll all have something to help refresh our memories of what’s coming to go with the next round of harsh austerity measures that’s on the horizon. 

 

Leica M6 Classic & 2/40mm Summicron-c

Kentmere 100

Perceptol (1+1 – 15:30min)

Plustek 7600i & Vuescan

Likes(16)Dislikes(0)

 

From one music legend to another, as we neatly segue from recently-departed Chuck Berry to long-gone Bob Marley, who came to fame with a juxtaposing rivalry during the rise of punk in the mid-1970s here in the UK. And Top of the Pops often took on a surreal feeling on a Thursday evening during this period as Marley, with his poetic words and rhythmic melodies, was often pitted against the mayhem, nihilism, and constantly gobbing Sex Pistols.

 

And last week, the reggae legend’s life was set to his own soundtrack, as ‘One Love: The Bob Marley Musical‘, written and directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah, opened to good reviews at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, and now looks set for a London West End run and talks of it being turned into a movie.  This is the first musical of Marley’s life and features his greatest songs, including No Woman No Cry, Exodus, One Love, Jamming etc. 

 

The musical tells the story of a man propelled from rising reggae star to global icon, and is mostly set around the time when Marley’s beloved homeland of Jamaica is on the brink of civil war, and he’s called to unite his people as only he can with his music and his message of love and peace – and, as you do, he almost ends up being assassinated in the process!

 

Leica M3 & 1.4/50mm Summilux pre-asph v2

Sekonic L-308S

Kodak Tri-X (@250)

HC-110 (Dil.H – 1:63 @ 8:30 minutes)

Plustek 7600i & Vuescan

 

Likes(16)Dislikes(0)

 

That wily, irascible old bugger Chuck Berry has passed away at the ripe old age of 90. His contribution to the music we all love in its myriad forms is incalculable. And as they would say in Corrie, “Ta-ra, Chuck!”

 

Berry was the true sound and spirit of rock ‘n’ roll who put more into his songs than many a Hollywood director has put into film. It’s said that he wrote the soundtrack for American teen rebellion in the mid-to-late 1950s – and indeed, such was his influence, that he even got a nod from the cult movie Back to the Future, as Marty McFly parodied how he got his trademark sound and famous duck walk. 

 

I was lucky enough to see Chuck Berry perform in Seattle in 2002 alongside Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard as part of a legends’ farewell tour. He played ‘My Ding A Ling’. I really wish he hadn’t. But he also played ‘Johnny B Goode’ and ‘Roll Over Beethoven’, and it was outstanding.  He was 76 then but easily outshone the other two.

 

And amazingly, unlike Motor City, Seattle’s funky and bohemian Capital Hill neighbourhood has a bronze statue of Chuck Berry (in mid duck-walk), created by local artist Daryl Smith, which is one of a group of three he was commissioned to do, the others being Elvis and Jimi Hendrix that I’ve written about in blogs passim.

 

Leica MP & 1.4/50mm Summilux pre-asph v2

Arista Premium 400

Xtol (1+1 – 10 min)

Plustek 7600i & Vuescan

Likes(18)Dislikes(0)

 

The lads on manoeuvres at the top of Buchanan Street quickly jump into the armoured car when offered the chance, as the army used one of its vehicles to encourage them to sign on “for a life of adventure.” But there was no fear of them taking the Queen’s shilling, as it were, as they were only playing “a game of sodjers”.

 

Yet I wonder if they realised that nearly 100 years ago, and just a few hundred yards away, another game of sodjers was being played out during an infamous incident in Glasgow’s history? It happened on January 31, 1919 in what became known as ‘The Battle of George Square‘, when the army was called in to deal with 60,000 Red Clydeside workers who had taken to the streets in protest at working conditions in the shipyards, and after they had been read the Riot Act, one of the strike leaders briefly managed to raise The Red Flag of Bolshevism over the city chambers.

 

Fears within Government of a workers’ revolution starting in Glasgow led to Winston Churchill – who had no qualms about using troops in armoured cars to quell strikers  – sending in 10,000 troops, tanks and machine guns to restore order. Yet despite a full battalion of Scottish soldiers billeted nearby at Maryhill barracks, the Minister for War and Air controversially sent in only English troops.

 

Churchill first put the local Maryhill barracks on a lockdown, refused to use any other Scottish regiments or Scottish troops, the fear being in government circles was that fellow Scots, soldiers or otherwise, would go over to the workers’ side if a revolutionary situation developed in Glasgow.

 

Leica M6 Classic & 1.4/50mm Summilux pre-asph v2

Fomapan 400

Xtol (stock – 7 min)

Plustek 7600i & Vuescan

Likes(15)Dislikes(0)

 

Kelvinside Parish Church was designed and built in 1862 by architect JJ Stevenson to serve the fashionable new residential development of Glasgow’s west end. And after standing derelict for four years, a consortium led by Colin Beattie turned the vacant building into what’s now become a vibrant arts and leisure center.

 

It was rechristened ‘Òran Mór’ – which for those hard of Gaelic means ‘great melody of life’ or ‘big song’ – and opened its doors once again in 2004 to a new congregation. It’s since become the beating heart of the trendy west end, playing host to new musical talents, comedy nights, club nights and the hugely successful A Play, A Pie & A Pint series.

 

And happily, it still retains a sense of its former spiritual guise with many couples choosing to marry here – and not only marry, but also handy for the quick dash downstairs for the reception!

 

Leica M6 Classic & 4/21mm Super Angulon

B+W  Yellow Filter

Sekonic L-308S

Ilford FP4+ (@100)

HC-110 (Dil. B – 7 min)

Plustek 7600i & Vuescan

Likes(15)Dislikes(0)

 

Lunchtime on Great Western Road, just off Byres Road in Glasgow’s trendy West End; outside three young  ladies rush from their place of employ to join students and theatre-goers as they head for the Òran Mór nightclub space, where there’s barely bum space to be found, as yet another packed audience, having picked up said sustenance of pies and pints, squeeze into their seats to watch the opening performance of this week’s new play, the fourth of 13 in the current 26th season.

 

It’s thirteen years now since the Wildcat theater veteran, the late David MacLennan launched his stunningly simple concept of A Play, a Pie & a Pint in the converted church at the heart of Glasgow’s West End, that’s been hailed as ‘one of the most magical theater initiatives of the last decade.’

 

Sadly, MacLennan died in 2013, but he left his legacy to the city and the arts’ world with his legendary lunchtime activity, where workers could spend their break-time with a cheap pint and a pie along with a fix of culture in the form of a short afternoon play – and the Play, Pie & Pint phenomenon has now taken off in different cities around the world.

 

Leica M3 & 2/40mm Summicron-c

Sekonic L-308S

Fomapan 400 (@320)

Xtol 1+1 (9:30min)

Vuescan & Plustek 7600i

Likes(17)Dislikes(0)

 

Here in Glasgow, mention “Tron” and it’s not so much the Disney futuristic sci-fi movie starring Jeff Bridges you’ll get for the answer, but one of the city’s oldest and most famous landmarks; a very eclectic place richly steeped – or should that be steepled? – in history.

 

Since a church was first built on the site in 1529, the eye-catching Tron Steeple has marked both Catholic and Protestant churches, a place of execution, a meeting hall, a police station…and, of course, nowadays, the Tron Theatre, one of Glasgow’s best-loved theaters.

 

But the steeple is the only remnants left from a club night of drunken bravado you would have thought had come straight from a Blackadder script.  In 1793, Glasgow’s notorious Hellfire Club more than lived up to its name by setting the Tron building on fire in an effort to see which members could – literally – best stand the heat!  

 

All was destroyed save for the steeple, which was incorporated into a replacement structure by the architects, James and Robert Adam that stands on the corner of Trongate and Chisholm Street, in the Merchant City – and still the basis for the beloved Tron as it exists today.

 

Leica M3 & 1.4/50mm Summilux pre-asph v2

Sekonic L-308S

Ilford FP4+ (@50)

Perceptol (1+1 – 13min)

Plustek 7600i & Vuescan

Likes(17)Dislikes(0)