31 Songs

Posted: August 28, 2014 in Music Literature
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Nick Hornby published ’31 Songs’ in 2003, hot on the heels of previous works including ‘Fever Pitch’, ‘Hi-Fidelity’, ‘About a boy’ and ‘How to be good’.



And the 31 songs are…
  1. Your love is the place where I come from – Teenage Fanclub
  2. Thunder Road – Bruce Springsteen
  3. I’m like a bird – Nelly Furtado
  4. Heartbreaker – Led Zeppelin
  5. One Man Guy – Rufus Wainwright
  6. Samba Pa Ti – Santana
  7. Mama you been on my mind – Rod Stewart
  8. Can you please crawl out your window – Bob Dylan
  9. Rain – The Beatles
  10. You had time – Ani DiFrance
  11. I’ve had it – Aimee Mann
  12. Born for me – Paul Westerberg
  13. Frankie Teardrop – Suicide
  14. Ain’t that enough – Teenage Fanclub
  15. First I look at the purse – The J Geils Band
  16. Smoke – Ben Folds Five
  17. A Minor Incident – Badly Drawn Boy
  18. Glorybound – The Bible
  19. Caravan – Van Morrison
  20. So I’ll run – Butch Hancock & Marce LaCouture
  21. Puff the Magic Dragon – Gregory Isaacs
  22. Reasons to be Cheerful Part III – Ian Dury & the Blockheads
  23. The Calvary Cross – Richard & Linda Thompson
  24. Late for the sky – Jackson Browne
  25. Hey Self Defeater – Mark Mulcahy
  26. Needle in a Haystack – The Velvelettes
  27. Let’s straighten it out – O V Wright
  28. Royksopp’s Night Out – Royksopp
  29. Frontier Psychiatrist – The Avalanches
  30. No fun/push it – Soulwax, and
  31. Pissing in a river – The Patti Smith Group


I have quite a lot of material about the life and work of Jimi Hendrix – most of the albums, one single, some memorabilia and quite a lot of written material. This is one of my favourites.


Published by Atria Books in 2007 “Jimi Hendrix: An illustrated experience” is a truly interactive experience, featuring reproductions of drawings from Jimi’s childhood, his rare handwritten song lyrics and never-before-seen archival photographs. The book also includes a 70-minute audio CD with interviews and commercially unreleased recordings of some live performances in 1968 and 1969. Co-written by Janie Hendrix (Jimi’s sister) and John McDermott, the book benefits from exclusive access to private family archives, combining to reveal a rare insight into the life of such an influential rock icon.



Classic Rock started in July 1998 and has recently published it’s 200th issue. It now has a higher circulation world-wide than the New Musical Express (NME) which has been there since March 1952.

In issue 91 (April 2006) the ‘Classic Rock 100 Greatest British Rock albums ever’ list was published. Voted for by Classic Rock staff and key people in the British Rock music industry, it’s still regarded as one of the definitive standards, despite the passing of eight more years since.

I count myself very fortunate not only to have every issue of Classic Rock magazine itself, but also 60 of the top 100 British Rock albums. My Jem’s Music blog starts a new mini-series from today featuring tracks chosen from each of these 60.


The list was accompanied by free cover DVD – ‘The Making of the Greatest British Rock Albums’.This features live performances  and interviews from 11 top British Acts, each of which feature in the top 100 albums together with four bonus live recordings

  1. Queen – Interview with the band about ‘Death on two legs’ from the 1975 album “A night at the Opera” (Number 17/100)
  2. Cream – Interview with the band about the ‘riff’ with live footage from the Royal Albert Hall of ‘Sunshine of you love’ taken from the 1967 album “Disraeli Gears” (Number 40/100)
  3. Motorhead – Interview with various people about ‘Ace of Spades’ from the 1980 album of the same name (Number 25/100)
  4. Pink Floyd – Interview with Roger Waters and David Gilmour about ‘Money’ with live footage of the guitar solo from the 1973 album ‘Dark side of the Moon” (Number 3/100)
  5. Judas Priest – Interview with the band about the making of ‘Living after Midnight’ from the 1980 album “British Steel” (Number 39/100)
  6. Iron Maiden – Live footage of ‘The Number of the Beast’ from the 1982 album of the same name (Number 15/100)
  7. The Who – Interview with surviving band members about the track ‘Baba O’Riley’ from the 1971 album “Who’s Next” (Number 2/100)
  8. Deep Purple – Ritchie Blackmore shows how the ‘riff’ from ‘Smoke on the Water’ should be played. From the 1972 album “Machine Head” (Number 26/100)
  9. Def Leppard – Interview with Mutt Lunge (the band’s producer) about ‘Pour some sugar on me’ from the 1987 album “Hysteria” (Number 16/100)
  10. Sex Pistols – Interview with band engineer about the musicality of ‘Anarchy in the UK’ from the 1977 album “Never mind the Bollocks” (Number 4/100)
  11. Fleetwood Mac – Live footage of ‘Dreams’ from the 1977 album “Rumours” (Number 41/100)
  1. Metallica – ‘Wherever I may roam’ from “Metallica”
  2. Nirvana – ‘Come as you are’ from “Nevermind”
  3. Jimi Hendrix – ‘Burning of the midnight lamp’ from ‘”Electric Ladyland”, and
  4. The Grateful Dead – ‘Truckin’ from “Anthem to Beauty”


Vox Magazine

Posted: August 25, 2014 in Music Press
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Vox magazine was in circulation between October 1990 and June 1998. Heralded as the sister magazine to the NME and catering for the alternative end of the market, despite its excellent content, sadly its longevity proved to be ultimately untenable.

The image above is from the front cover of issue 1. This edition is now (strangely) a collector’s item and has a value of £40!


 Vox also featured regular slots on the latest music-related gadgets

And what could have been a really good Rock encyclopaedia - except that it only got up to 'R'!

The last edition of Vox


Back in the day before CDs gained popularity over vinyl and particularly cassette tape, popular music magazine cover freebies were invariably the latter. Although the NME did, from time to time, delve into the freebie 45rpm cover single thing.

Here’s a selection of those I still have from those days, some of which are now quite collectible; the asking price for the ‘Unheard Pleasures’ tape (for example) ranges between £10 and £40 on some specialist sites.

Sadly, three of the mags these freebies came with no longer exist.

‘Select’ was known particularly for covering Britpop and ran (coincidentally) between July 1990 and January 2001 coinciding with the rise and fall of the genre.

‘Vox’ was originally billed as a sister magazine to the NME and was originally set up as an alternative to Q to cover the more alternative end of the market. It folded in the late 1990s.

‘Smash Hits’ was the longest running. Aimed at teenagers, it ran between 1978 and 2006 and was issued on a fortnightly basis.

[Select - 'Secret Tracks 2', 'The Island Tape', 'Unheard Pleasures' and 'Island Select'. Vox - 'The Phone Box', 'Radio Daze' and 'The Vox Box'. Smash Hits - 'Rave'. And, for good measure, one from an existing publication, 'NME presents Radio 1 Sound City Oxford 97']

Deram Records

Posted: August 23, 2014 in Labels
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Deram Records was launched in 1968 in the UK as a subsidiary of Decca. It was active until 1979. Most notable signing in my book was to Ten Years After.

“Sssshh” from which these images derive, was notable in that it came in both stereo and mono versions. You needed to check the little circular window on the back of the album cover. Blue = stereo, Red = mono. Or, if you couldn’t be arsed with that, just taking the inner sleeve out of the outer would give the game away;  blue or red writing around the outside rim was the clue.



Swansong Records

Posted: August 22, 2014 in Labels
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Swansong Records was launched by Led Zeppelin in May 1974 when their contract with Atlantic was about to expire. It stopped releasing from October 1983 and remains now only for the occasional re-issue of back-catalogue material.

During its nine-year history the label released work by Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant as solo artists, Bad Company, The Pretty Things, Dave Edmunds, Mirabai, Maggie Bell, Midnight Flyer, Detective and Sad Cafe.

The Swansong logo is based on “Evening” (aka ‘The fall of day’) painted in 1869 by William Rimmer and features the Greek god, Apollo.