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Blog Archive: March 2021

Songs For Superheroes
This Friday Mr FA Machine and I are releasing a brand new EP called "The Swingin' Sound Of Sixties Marvel"! It features eight cover versions of superhero theme tunes, mostly for Marvel superheroes but also a couple of others what we are using for COMPARISON, for LO! it is all part of ACADEMIC RESEARCH!

The story of the EP is THUS: way back in 2018 Frankie and I did a presentation in Brighton where we discussed a bunch of superhero theme tunes at the Graphic Brighton conference, illustrating our Excellent Points and Incisive remarks by performing the songs too. It was GRATE fun, and we discussed recording them at some point, but didn't get around to thinking about it again until a couple of years later when I saw the Call For Papers for the 2020 Transitions conference. As discussed previously, I have done presentations solo at this in the past, and thought it might be a good excuse for us to do the show again. Frankie said yes, the organisers said yes, and then... well, you know what happened then, EVERYTHING got cancelled!

However, several months later the conference organisers got in touch to say that they were RESCHEDULING, and that they'd be doing the conference ONLINE with pre-recorded presentations. This gave us the IDEAL excuse to finally record the songs, and so we spent several weeks sending WAVs between us, with Frankie providing pretty much all the music while I made everything more JAZZ with my daring re-interpretations of tune and harmony (hem hem).

Alongside the WAVs were also DOCs as we shaped the presentation itself, until one evening we sat down together on a ZOOM chat and recorded the whole thing. There then followed several more weeks of VIDOE EDITING as I got a little bit over-excited and made a HUGE EXTRAVAGANZA of video effects, bringing together the talk, the songs, and all manner of illustrations.

You can watch the talk for yourself when it's shown as part of the conference next week - registration is FREE if you fancy it and, as you can see from the Conference Programme, there is a TONNE of interesting Comics Studies-type stuff going on.

The accompanying EP is out THIS week to coincide with Bandcamp Fees Free Friday, so prepare yourself for an onslaught of Me Going On About It, for LO! I think it is RATHER GOOD!

posted 31/3/2021 by MJ Hibbett
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Blitzkrieg Bopped
I did a gig last night! Sort of!

The gig was "A Tribute To Joey Ramone" for his 70th Birthday, organised by Spoook in aid of OCD and Lymphoma charities. Mr J McMahon contacted me about it a few weeks ago, asking if I fancied doing a cover of a Ramones song for this gig he was putting on, and I agreed thinking it would be a small-scale affair, and then became increasingly ALARMED as more and more Proper Names were added to the list. It was TERRIFYING - there were a LOT of people I had HEARD of doing it, and also me!

Adding to my fear were the twin totems of terror 1) this would be a show with an AUDIENCE who had come to see some of the aforesaid Well Known Peoples and 2) it would involve cover versions. Proper Gigs and Cover Versions are two arenas in which I have an UNENVIABLE track record for Disastrously Misinterpreting The Situation. MANY times over the years when faced with one or other of these I have thought "AHA! I have a GRATE idea about how I can do something AMAZING for this which everyone will LOVE" only to realise, generally within 0.2 seconds of starting the show OR sending off the cover version that this is not going to be the case.

Of course, the realisation of all of this only came to me AFTER I had spent two weeks practicing my song, recorded it, and sent it off (SENSIBLY it was being done as a series of pre-recorded segments, not LIVE). As soon as I did so I thought "Hang on, if this is a show for people who like the Ramones, maybe they WON'T appreciate the un-Ramones-ish way I have done it, and possibly also will not be keen on my doing it as a MEDLEY with the also un-Ramones-ish song that inspired it. OH DEAR."

Happily James The Organiser said he was into it, which was a relief, but still THE FEAR rose in me, such that when it came to about four hours before SHOWTIME yesterday afternoon I was filled with the kind of DREAD that I only usually get before one of those Proper Gigs I mentioned earlier. It was WEIRD. I was very much in my own kitchen making a cup of tea, but I FELT like I was standing next to 17 stand-up comedians and a member of Carter stage-side at The Bloomsbury Theatre (or nearest equivalent) desperately trying to remember the words to "Hey Hey 16K".

The gig started and, of course, it was LOVELY. Loads of GRATE people (including some PALS) doing GRATE versions of these songs, pouring love and care into it for a good cause. It was an amazing thing to watch, and an incredible feat of organisation - there were TONNES of people involved, 90 minutes of ROCK all together, all doing one song each, and a very high proportion of them made me go "COR! It's THEM!" In fact, why don't you have a look for yourself?

My bit came and went without DISASTER, and in fact featured some further lovely people saying nice things, which was a HUGE relief. It was, all in all, a rather WONDERFUL thing to be part of, which also raised some proper actual CA$H - indeed, if you do watch the above please do consider donating to one of the charities mentioned in the YouTube notes. I was hugely grateful to be involved, and even though it was SCARY it was also EXCITING to get that ACTUAL GIG feeling again. GIGS! They are ACE!

posted 29/3/2021 by MJ Hibbett
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Aches And Pains Aftermath
After posting my blog about getting the JAB last week something lovely happened. Not in terms of general health - if anything I felt grottier throughout the day - but in terms of COMMUNICATIONS, for LO! loads of people started TALKING to me about THEIR experience and symptoms. It was really, really, really nice, not just because of the ensuing sympathy but also because it felt like we were going through something together.

It was especially nice because a huge amount of the CHAT was with gentleman from within my own AGE COHORT, as it was our turn to get DONE. On Whatsapp, on twitter, on Facebook and on ye olde emails I found myself discussing health issues with hordes of PALS in a way entirely unfamiliar to me. Men of my generation grew up as NEW MEN and all that, but we're still not particularly open with each other in the way perhaps we should be, so it was most unusual to have this sudden outpouring of SHARING and, dare I say, CARING for each other in this way. It was a beautiful and genuinely MOVING thing!

It ALSO presented itself as a HARBINGER of what Facebook (or the Futuristic BRANE Hologram equivalent thereof) will be like in about 30 years, when the aforesaid cohort are very much in the throes of Aches And Pains, at which point I'm sure this will be a daily experience!

posted 22/3/2021 by MJ Hibbett
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Been Done
I got a text on Tuesday evening from my GP surgery, offering me my COVID jab. I was VERY excited that it was my turn, and wondered when I might be able to go along. I assumed it would be WEEKS away, but when I went into the app it said the next available appointment was in about an hour! I wasn't quite ready for that, so instead I booked myself an appointment for the following lunchtime.

I had a work meeting in the morning, featuring several people discussing the side effects they'd had - I hadn't heard much about this previously, but suddenly Facebook was full of it as my whole AGE COHORT started to go through the system. I was thus slightly trepidatious when I set off, but was then WHISKED along in a delightful cavalcade of Things Working. When I got to the surgey there was a volunteer outside pointing out the side door to go in, and once inside there were signs EVERYWHERE telling you where to go. When I reached the main clinic area there were more very jolly volunteers, more signs, and arrows and markings on the floor made of coloured tape - somebody had obviously gotten really INTO doing this, as it was everywhere!

I registered, got my card (Astro Zeneca) then joined a short, socially distanced queue that was extravagantly marked out with tape. While in this queue I got a message on The Validators' Whatsapp group from Tim saying that people our age could now just book online without waiting for an appointment, so I was able to gleefully respond with a picture of my ticket!

The queue lasted about five minutes and then I was sat with a very nice GP who kept trying to explain things and stop me from taking off my jumper too soon. Once we'd cleared all the formalities she stuck the needle in my arm. "Relax!" she said, as the POINTY METAL entered THE TEMPLE OF MY BODY, but I did my best and after a while it was DONE. My jumper was back on and I was heading out.

As I left I felt a SURGE of emotion - pleased to have got it done, PROUD that the NHS was clearly doing such a good job, and also weirdly PATRIOTIC in a way that I'd not been since, well, The Olympics I think. I think it was due to looking around at all the different people who were working there, or queueing up politely to get done. There was no fuss or bother, just British people of all shapes and sizes RUBBING ALONG in a collective effort. It was brilliant!

Ten hours later I was feeling quite pleased with myself, as the much discussed SIDE EFFECTS had not arrived. I went to bed but sadly I was chuffed TOO SOON, as I woke up at just before 4am with a POUNDING headache, ACHES, and EXTREME heat. It was like having a BIT of flu, but not all of it - it felt like a really bad FEVER, with the BRANE THROBBING that goes with it, but WITHOUT any shakes or sudden lurches into being horribly cold. Similarly, my throat and nose were completely fine. It was MOST ODD, also MOST ANNOYING as I lay there until about 7am feeling ROTTEN. Eventually I DID go back to sleep, but only for a little bit, and thus feel WASHED OUT to the MAX today.

I think what I am basically saying here is that a) I done my civic duty b) I suffered for it and am therefore c) a RUDDY HERO. I would ask for a medal, but they gave me a STICKER in the clinic (I had to ASK for one but it still counts) so I think that'll have to do!

posted 18/3/2021 by MJ Hibbett
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Hey Ho Let's Go (and do a GIG)
I've got a GIG! It's the first one I'll have done for about TEN MONTHS (not including my unexpected CAMEO at Gav's Brighton gig in September) and I am Quite Excited.

It's a ZOOM gig featuring a whole host of different people doing Ramones songs, in aid of OCD and Lymphoma reseaarch charities, and when it was first offered to me I thought "That sounds like a lovely idea," and set to sorting out a song to do. A couple of days later i saw a poster advertising who else was doing it and ... crikey!

CRUMBS! That is a LOT of people who I have heard of! This made me Quite Nervous, not least because there is ALSO a Tim's Twitter Listening Party leading up to it. Having not done a gig for AGES this feels quite a big step back into The Fray, so I have redoubled my Daily Practice Sessions in the hope that by the end of the month I'll be able to get through it in one go without forgetting too much. You can find out how I get on by buying a ticket, which will also entitle you to see the multitude of OTHER people probably making a much better job of it!

posted 11/3/2021 by MJ Hibbett
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The Sorted Scene
I spent a happy half hour yesterday doing some updates to The Database Of ROCK which runs this whole here website, updating a gig from over A QUARTER OF A CENTURY ago, as well as adding a compilation album that came out this week.

The gig was one that The Council played at The Physio & Firkin back in 1996, and I found out about it because a POSTER appeared on Twitter. When I first set up this website I tried to get as much Historical Data as I could from old diaries and what few old posters I have left, but this was a poster I hadn't seen since I left my flat in Leicester and chucked loads of them away, so it was lovely to be able to fill that gap in.

The poster was posted as part of the reaction to the ALBUM what I mentioned earlier, for LO! Sorted Supremo Dave Dixey has just UNLEASED Tarotplane Kandy Korn: The Sorted Records Anthology, Vol. 1, a collection of twenty top tracks from the halcyon days of what nobody is calling (though they should) THE SORTED SCENE of the mid-90s in Leicester. I've been listening to it on Spotify and it has been a DELIGHT to hear some of these songs again, not having heard some of them since they were last played in The Durham Ox. It includes THREE tracks involving me, "Last Notes on a Late Story" by The Fabians (Jimmy from the Bobby McGee's band before that one), "Pilchards of Death" by Voon and Mind The Death by The Council. It's notable that ALL of those three songs have someone who isn't me doing the lead vocals, and I must say this was a WISE DECISION. They all sound pretty amazing, especially "Mind The Death" which sounded just as exciting to me NOW as it did when I first got the TAPE of it from the studio and lay in bed listening to it on my headphones.

My pleasure at the lack of my singing was based on my other nostalgic experience this week, watching some of the VIDEOS that Dave has been uploading to the Sorted Records YouTube account. I pop up in a few of them, and it is DEEPLY WEIRD to see me in my 20s, gawking around looking entirely uncomfortable in myself, especially during gigs when I am CLEARLY trying to EITHER copy Neil (who, in direct contrast, is INCREDIBLY COOL in ALL the videos) OR some vague idea of what I thought Punk Rock might be, and coming across as a RIGHT WALLY. The worst culprit is the version of me performing in The Council, where I not only put on an "Angry Punk Rock" voice, but also play OPEN STRINGS as much as possible because I Thought It Looked Cool. Reader, it did not.

It's great fun to SEE all this stuff though, and I have high hopes of Dave adding some more. There must be something in the AIR, as an article about The Durham Ox Singers (written by me, but still) also appeared in the most recent issue of The Teatles Book. All it needs is one more thing and we can call it a MOVEMENT. Come on, The Melody Maker, stick The Non-Writters on the cover!

posted 10/3/2021 by MJ Hibbett
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Acoustical Activity
Every time I write a blog these days I feel I have to start it off by saying how LONG it's been since I last did one! As ever, the reason for that is not that nothing's been happening, but rather nothing's happened that would necessarily be of interest to you, dear reader. As you may be aware, I have a FABULOUSLY low threshold for what people might finf interesting about ME, so you may judge this as you wish!

However, I DO have something to tell you today, and that is that there is a NEW ALBUM out with some material by ME in it. It's called Blank Canvas, and it's been released as a fund-raised for The Retro Computing Museum, which has been struggling due to having to stay closed for all this time. My contribution is two brand new ACOUSTCIAL versions of relevant songs i.e. Hey Hey 16K and Programming Is A Poetry For Our Time what I recorded especially for this, and there's a whole heap of other people, including our pals The British IBM and Chris Abbott. There's three whole CDs of stuff, i fact, and if you're into the Retro Computing scene it is a right Glittering Array of big names!

That's the news for today, but there is - honest! - other stuff on the way. Myself and Frankie Machine have been working on a project that should be seeing the light of day soon, Jane And John have things in the pipeline, and you never know, I might one day have something to tell you about my endevours in the world of LITERATURE!

posted 5/3/2021 by MJ Hibbett
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