A belter of a TV programme on the family history of Noel Clarke

Back in August, I waxed lyrcially about the history which is reflected regularly in the BBC programme “Who do you think you are?”. I feel compelled to return to the subject, given the sheer awesomeness of the last episode in the current run of this BBC series. Continue reading


The drugs which kill the most have been legalised for centuries, so how will legalising cannabis make much difference?

It was good to hear Vince recently confirm his whole-hearted support for our policy of legalising cannabis. I also fully support the policy, which is actually quite a “baby step” when you consider the plethora of drugs readily available today – with more becoming available (including via the internet to one’s postbox) by the day. Continue reading

Russ Ballard and “Fly Away” – one that got away

Russ Ballard was the lead singer and guitarist of rock band Argent. He wrote perhaps their best known song “God gave rock and roll to me“, which was later taken up by Kiss. He’s had great success as a song-writer. He wrote rock songs such as “Since you’ve been gone“, which was a hit for Rainbow, “You can do magic“, which was a hit for America, and a little favourite of mine called “New York Groove“, which Hello did.

Back in 1974, when I bought virtually every 7 inch record that went into the Top Forty, and many that didn’t, I bought “Fly Away” which is from Russ Ballard’s first solo album. Well, yesterday I remembered it and brought it up on YouTube (which was certainly quicker than finding my copy of the 7 inch single, which is probably in the attic somewhere). It’s a beautiful song, and it is a crying shame it didn’t get anywhere near the charts:

Galveston – The fascinating evolution of a pop classic

With the passing of the great musician, BBC4 have recently reshown“Glenn Campbell: The Rhinestone Cowboy”. It is a very interesting portrait of the man.

It also gives us a fascinating insight into Glenn Campbell’s partnership with song writer Jimmy Webb.

The evolution of Galveston is particularly interesting. Jimmy Webb wrote it as a slow anti-war ballad (which you can hear below). Glenn Campbell then gave it a boisterous up-beat edge, making it a pop classic. Jimmy Webb was anti-war, bearing in mind this was 1969 and the era of the Vietnam War. Glenn Campbell was a Republican who had highly pro-war guests, such as John Wayne and Bob Hope, on his massively popular CBS TV show, “The Glenn Campbell GoodTime Hour”. Such tensions behind the Campbell/Webb partnership no doubt contributed to one of the most successful partnerships in popular music history.

Tubular Bells: The Mike Oldfield Story

Mike Oldfield by Alexander Schweigert 2
I’ve only just seen this – it first came out in 2013. It’s a great BBC4 documentary on Mike Oldfield. In it, dear Mr Oldfield gives us a real treat when he relives “Tubular Bells” in his studio, complete with juggling of many instruments. It also provides an excellent narrative on Mike Oldfield’s life and the development of “Tubular Bells“.

If you haven’t watched this programme, it is much recommended. It’s on BBC iPlayer for the next 23 days.