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Mon 14th November - Enter Sandman...Exit musical genius

Just by chance whilst channel hopping the other night, I stumbled across Later With Jools Holland on BBC2 and in particular a performance that he was introducing from Metallica and Lou Reed – together at last, eh? Not bloody likely.

Nick Cave & Kylie, Manic Street Preachers & Traci Lords, Hilda Baker & Arthur Mullard…popular music has seen some right clunking collaborations in my lifetime – there is of course the occasional gem that seems well conceived, honestly delivered and passes into folklore (Run DMC/Aerosmith & Public Enemy/Anthrax being 2 top examples from the genres I particularly love)

I had heard of the meeting of the musical minds between the Bay Area’s most dysfunctional metalheads and the enigmatic, belligerent, even miserable man of Velvet Underground and ‘Berlin’ fame, but I hadn’t dared investigate any further. After all, Metallica were still, to me at least, clearly reeling from the aftermath of James Hetfield’s personal battles with goodness knows what, coupled with a buttock-clenchingly honest DVD detailing how those troubles almost cleaned the band out, followed by a couple of albums that didn’t have the form shown on Ride The Lightning or the seminal Black Album.

As for Lou Reed, the best thing he’d done in my book was co-write a KISS song – namely ‘A World Without Heroes’ off ‘The Elder in 1981, a song that confused and irritated the Radio 1 Roundtable panel (remember that??) when it was played to them, as they hadn’t been told by Richard Skinner who it was before it was played, and upon their unanimous appreciation of what they’d heard the discovery that it was by a band that wasn’t supposed to receive any critical acclaim really pissed them all off. God, that was fun to listen to.

Anyhoo – off they gambolled on Jools’ bidding to perform White Light/White Heat, an old Velvet Underground, ahem, classic – with Lars Ulrich looking not unlike Karl Pilkington on drums, gurning into the camera rather than concentrating on keeping time (as usual) and Lou himself standing stock still and delivering the lyrics with barely a semblance of interest or emotion. It was bad – and I mean BAD.

Metallica need a controversial album like this one like a hole in the head. Their standing as the world’s foremost heavy metal act is under severe threat if they continue undermining themselves. The decision to play The Black Album in its entirety at Download next summer is not a ground-breaking one – other bands have done such things – but I sense they will have to be spot on that night, or their reputation will suffer still more. I still think Joey Jordinson of Slipknot gave Lars a right kick up the pants when he stepped in for him the last time Metallica headlined Download.

Lou Reed won’t give a shit what happens to himself – nor will he give a shit about what is said about him. Admirable in a way. And by the way, we do need shows like Later…to give us proper live music that no other show can be bothered to highlight post-Whistle Test.


Perhaps Fabio Capello has been taking his cue from Lou Reed lately. England’s manager has been dogmatic, you might say pig-headed, in his quest to get the national side playing winning football. And only English fans could get upset over a 1-0 win over World & Euro champions Spain. Complaints about ‘parking the bus’ ‘players out of position’ and ‘lack of being exactly like Barcelona, Holland ’74 and the great Hungary side of the 50’s rolled into one’. Or so it seems.

That result does not mean that England are Euro 2012 winners-elect. Nor does it mean that we will implode like dodgy lightbulbs in the group stages. It simply means that some of our young players have been correctly drilled by Capello in how to defend against such a flowing passing side (note the lack of gilt-edged chances Spain had despite dominating the 1st half) and therefore, the same young players have developed a slightly thicker skin for international games; a little more self belief that they can compete at the top table.

Plus, it’s food for thought for the established squad members who, up until now, probably haven’t felt ‘challenged’ for their shirt. No more comfort zone, therefore.


Also, I get sick of complaints over players like Phil Jones being made to play in several positions as though that’s a bad thing. Don’t we want our footballers to show versatility then? No interest in them gaining an appreciation of how to affect games in different areas of the pitch? Ok, then – we’ll just stick our heads back in the sand shall we?

Good grief.


It seems like too short a time since I was blogging about the sad passing of a local guitar hero with whom I’d shared many a happy stage in Stu Clarke.

As I type this I’m just back from a funeral service for SHY guitarist Steve Harris, who succumbed to a brain tumour aged just 46.


I could eulogise about him for countless paragraphs from hereon in, and some would probably dismiss it as the usual ‘oh he’s only saying that to be nice, he wasn’t really like that was he?’ stuff. But you ask anyone that worked with or knew Steve and the anecdotes are unanimously glowing and heartfelt.

Like Stu, Steve was one hell of a bloody player. SHY were the closest Britain ever came to beating the Americans at their own game – namely hook-laden expertly-crafted slices of AOR. So good were they at such pursuits that many thought SHY were American and not Brummies!!

Back in 2006, I was asked whether I would be available to help SHY out with a few gigs they needed drummer cover for abroad. Due to my talkSPORT commitments at that summer’s World Cup in Germany, I had to pass – it’s a huge regret that the planets didn’t line up at that time, for I would have relished the chance to work with Steve and his equally talented bandmates, especially as at that time, I’d rediscovered my love for the 80’s AOR that had influenced them so greatly. But there you go.

It was a day for reconnecting with old friends, work colleagues and band associates – and in turn a day for realising how lazy I have become now that Facebook and Twitter seem to have become my main means of communication with people who frankly deserve a damn sight better.

There are most probably one or two reading this who might think that they fall into that neglected category. And they may well be right. It takes a humbling moment like seeing a top man like Steve leaving us way way before his time to make me realise how much more effort I need to put in with those who have helped to shape my life for the better since school and not merely coast through existence without making more of the friendships I should hold dear.

This, folks, is a tipping point I hope.

RIP Steve Harris – and here is a link to a website where you can donate to research into brain tumours. A staggering 1% of those who contract such a tumour survive it – this whilst other forms of cancer have seen massive leaps in technology and treatment surrounding them.

Donating to this cause was the first thing I did when I got back home from the wake – if you feel so inclined, that would be amazing too. Thank you

Now, where’s that phone? I need to make some calls…quite a few long-overdue calls…

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