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Blog Archive: May 2021

It was Bob Dylan's 80th birthday last week, and there was so much HOO-HA about it that I thought I should probably have a listen to him again. As anyone who has ever spoken to me during the period November to January will know, I listen to Bob Dylan A LOT, specifically his (AMAZING) Christmas Album, but it's AGES since I listened to much else, so as a special BIRTHDAY TRIBUTE I have spent much of the past few days doing exactly that.

I started off with "Highway 61 Revisited", which is of course UTTERLY BRILLIANT. It's one of those records where you forget just HOW brilliant it is, until you put it on and find yourself GURNING ALONG as you shout the lyrics, and also dance about a bit. Similarly "Bringing It All Back Home" was HUGE amounts of fun - this is definitely a record that I remember being more Boring Dylan than Fun Dylan, but it turned out to be MUCH more the latter.

Next on the list was "Freewheelin'" which I remembered CORRECTLY as being a bit dreary, and was if anything even more so that I recalled. With that in mind I decided to AVOID the other Boring Dylan records and go straight to "Blonde On Blonde" which remains one of the MOST GRATE records ever made. COR BLIMEY, it's exciting just LISTENING to it, I can hardly imagine what it must have been like to have been in the actual room when that ALMIGHTY RACKET was going on. Apparently B Dylan kept trying to recreate that sound over the decades that followed and I am not surprised as it is THE BEST SOUND EVER. I love the fact that you can HEAR them having a brilliant time, and realising that they were making an astonishing sound even while they were doing it. Ooh, I want to go back and put it on again now!

I then briefly got a bit stuck - I do OWN various other B Dylan records (mostly from previous occasions when I've listened to the three GRATE ones above and thought "I need MORE!") but they've never really stuck. I did think about asking for recommendations, but luckily various PALS did that without asking, and I got three MORE to have a listen to.

I've had a go at "Blood On The Tracks" in the past and never really got into it, as it sounds a bit SEDATE, and the first time around it did so again. HOWEVER, as several people had mentioned it as their favourite I thought I'd better give it a couple more goes and in doing so finally GOT IT, to the extent that I have had "Idiot Wind" going round my head for two days. Next was "The Basement Tapes", which sounds a BIT like "Blonde On Blonde" in terms of LARKS/Crash Bang Wallop but not quite as good, and also the version I had appeared to have had all of the HITS removed and replaced by The Band doing some of their own stuff. It improved MARKEDLY once I started just SKIPPING The Band songs, but I think what I need is one of them Spotify Playlists which does that for me and adds in "Mighty Quinn" and so forth.

While discussing all this on The Social Media I mentioned that The Basement Tapes is a sort of proto-Travelling Wilburys which a) is an excellent point if I do say so myself but b) uncovered a terrible truth, that one of my oldest friends has apparently NEVER LISTENED TO THE TRAVELING WILBURYS! I partly blame myself, but also I must lay some blame on The Government - my understanding was that, after the success of giving every parent in the country a copy of "Bob Marley Legend" in the mid-1980s the government then issued everybody with copies of "Brothers In Arms", "Gracelands" and "Traveling Wilburys Vol.1" but perhaps certain Peterborough postcodes were omitted from this scheme? It is a historical injustice that must be rectified!

Anyway, FINALLY I had a listen to "Oh Mercy" which I think of as one of his most recent albums, but turns out to have been released approx 300,000 years ago. For some reason I BOUGHT this when it came out, despite never having listened to any Bob Dylan records before, and I can't for the life of me work out why. The following year I would get a load of Dylan TAPES off of Dr N Brown, who was responsible for MUCH WIDENING of my MUSICAL BRANE, but this was before then so I've no idea what was going on. Anyway, listening to it now I was surprised by how many HITS there were on it, and how enjoyable it is - yes, a lot of the songs are him going "Oh I am extremely fed up and, apparently, a bit tired" but it sounds LOVELY.

And there my DYLAN ODYSSEY ended, for now at least. I suppose I should really go and listen to that new album he put out last year, which I bought, listened to once, and then put McCartney III back on instead... or maybe I should go and look for that playlist instead? Either way, I think this whole experience has proven two (2) important FACTS: 1) Bob Dylan is DEAD GOOD 2) Reviewing music is PEASY!

posted 31/5/2021 by MJ Hibbett
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Live In Session
Last time here I UNLEASHED a video of a song what I wrote during, and about, the early chunk of Lockdown. That was the only song I wrote ABOUT The Current Situation, but it's not the only song I wrote DURING it. I've had two BATCHES of songwriting in fact, on right at the very start of All This, and then another about six weeks ago, where there was a DELUGE of songs, some of which I believe are Quite Good!

These have now been DEMOED and sent to The Validators, so hopefully some of them will be available on our next release (which going by our usual speedy standards will be sometime in the 22nd century!) but in the meantime you can hear ONE of these songs on a SESSION what I recorded for Mr S McHugh on his Regalnet Radio show, HERE:

The new song's called "Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?" and, like most of the new songs, is based on my THORTS while at home for the past year. There's also a couple of older songs PLUS my own version of Our Year by Jane And John, which is slightly more SHOUTY than the original!

posted 24/5/2021 by MJ Hibbett
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Rocking Out But Quietly
While going through the ARCHIVES of my unlisted videos on YouTube I found a couple of other, non-gig, ITEMS that have never properly seen the light of day, including THIS from March last year:

It's called "Rocking Out But Quietly" and, as you can probably gather from the title and lyrics, it was recorded right at the start of the very first lockdown, when everyone thought saying "see you on the other side" meant in a few weeks, rather than over a year. It was written for a THING in The World Of Showbiz and, as usual with THINGS in The World Of Showbiz, it was all a bit DISCONCERTING.

It all began when a very nice person of my acquaintance forwarded my details to some other people who were putting together an online show to "help people through lockdown" (there was a lot of this sort of thing back then!) and wanted to include a song ABOUT it all. As ever with these forays into The World Of Showbiz it was all very exciting at the start, with phone calls back and forth about what sort of song they wanted, me offering various ideas, and much jollity on the phone. For some reason people in The World Of Showbiz always want to talk on the phone and call you "mate" all the time - it's NOTICEABLE, and I fear I may even have joined in after a while!

And then, as happens so often with The World Of Showbiz, all communication suddenly stopped completely. I emailed a couple of times to see what waas going on, but there was no response at all, no phone calls, nothing. The next I knew about it was some weeks later when I saw the THING being advertised, with a bunch of people who were more well-known people than ME in it - ny guess, based on previous experience, is that somebody better known than me (of which there are many!) came along with a song instead, and so I was dropped.

I've come to realise that this is seen as Normal in The World Of Showbiz, that there's so many people trying to "make it" that anyone who has any kind of showcase can just drop anyone completely without having to feel bad about it, and this is just accepted. It must be horrible for actors especially, who go through this every day - it does of course happen in ROCK, but much less often, as a) you're not trying out for stuff every day and b) people are generally nicer! I try not to get TOO annoyed about it, but it's still WEIRD when it actually happens.

ANYWAY, by the time The Thing had happened and I was sure that the song wasn't being used the general MOMENT for Songs About Early Lockdown had passed, so it languished in my ARCHIVE... until now! I hope you enjoy it and who knows, maybe now we WILL get to the other side in a few weeks!

posted 20/5/2021 by MJ Hibbett
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Gigs Of The Past - Hey Hey 16K
Following on from the video of 'Moon Horse' last time, today I've got another me (and Steve) show for you - Hey Hey 16K!

This show is, of course, VERY MUCH AVAILABLE as an actual properly filmed DVD available directly from Go Faster Stripe, and I would urge - URGE - you to buy it from there as I still feel terrible about the fact that the lovely Mr Chris Evans (not that one) spent proper money putting it all together and has, I suspect, nothing much more than boxes and boxes of unsold DVDs to show for it.

That recording is Quite Good, and includes several DVD extras, whereas the video I'm showing today is not particularly brilliant, but does feature some singing along from the audience!

It filmed on the second night of our (two night) run at The Camden Comedy Festival in 2015. The night before we had had pretty much a FULL HOUSE, honest, no really we totally did, so it was a shame we didn't film that one too, but this was a GRATE night as well. It's funny with 'Hey Hey 16K', after doing LOADS of shows I'd finally realised that making everything A Bit Complicated just made it... well, A Bit Complicated, and so for THIS show I tried to write it with a single narrative that people could actually understand. Previously people had got a bit confused DESPITE the FACT that Steve and I are both obviously GRATE actors who can definitely do lots of different voices and create entirely different characters in a split second, so this one's got less different characters in it and a clearer story, which leaves room (it turns out) for some more JOKES, also a DANCE ROUTINE and some CIRCUS SKILLS!

It all turned out pretty niftily, or at least I think so anyway. Have a look and see for yourself, and if you like it please assuage some of my guilt and get a copy of the proper version - there are definitely plenty of copies left!

posted 17/5/2021 by MJ Hibbett
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Gigs Of The Past - Moon Horse!
The whole idea of doing these 'Gigs Of The Past' came from finding a bunch of DVDs in one of my drawers, and realising that the world - and HUMAN HISTORY - needed to have access to these vital documents.

There must be LOADS of DVDs like this gathering dust in the cupboards and lofts of the world, possibly stacked on top of the VIDEOTAPES that came before them. Nowadays of course we would simply take these historical records direct from our phones and whack them on The Social Medias, but back at the start of the decade this was not quite so straightforward. We still tended to be filming on Actual Cameras, broadband speeds were a lot slower so it took AGES to upload things, and (possibly as a result) the conventional wisdom was that you shouldn't put anything too LONG online, as nobody would ever watch it all.

That might explain why some of the NEXT batch of Gigs Of The Past have not really seen the light of day until now, as they are Quite Long. Take for instance today's UNLEASHMENT: a full-length recording of me and Steve performing Moon Horse VS The Mars Men Of Jupiter back in 2011.

The gig took place at The Lexington on a Sunday afternoon, which I THINK means it must have been part of The Hangover Lounge, a DELIGHTFUL Sunday Afternoon THING which was all the rage back in the heady days of Actually Going To Pubs. It doesn't say so in the original blog about it, but I'm pretty sure we did some of the other shows there too. For some reason, my memories of this particular Sunday Afternoon In The Pub are slightly hazy, despite the fact that it was my BIRTHDAY. What can it possibly mean?!?

I do remember being quite NERVOUS beforehand, as it was one of the very first performances of the show, but I also remember it being lovely. Pretty much EVERY performance of 'Moon Horse' was a DELIGHT - it may not have been the easiest of our shows to follow for audience but it was a whole heap of FUN for US, and it had some of my very favourite characters in it, especially Tiddy The Tin Man and The Mars Men Of Jupiter. Also, looking at the video now, I am impressed by how PROPER the Performance Space looks. The show took place upstairs at the Lexington, but NOT on the stage, as it might appear. We performed on the venue floor, sideways on to the stage but in front of a wall with a MASSIVE curtain, so it looks like we are in an actual FRINGE venue of some kind.

It was a lovely afternoon and a show filled with EXCELLENT memories. The only problem with watching it all again, I now realise, is that it has LODGED the theme tune back in my BRANE. Apologies in advance if it does the same for you now!

posted 12/5/2021 by MJ Hibbett
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Gigs Of The Past - Inventing Friday Night
Today we've got the final blast from the past in this brief series of recently unearthed historical documents what I found in a drawer... although not the end of Gigs Of The Past!

This time we've got the full-band Validators performance of My Exciting Life In ROCK where I told all the usual stories, at sometimes slightly unusual length, and then The Validators ROCKED it (acoustically) in a tent.

The tent involved was pitched at the Midlands Railway in Butterley, for LO! this all happened at the wonderful Indietracks Festival on Friday 25 July 2008, where it was filmed by Mr Michael Prince. Until this point the festival had happened on the Saturday and Sunday, but as people were generally turning up on the Friday night anyway they decided to have a go at putting something on the Friday night too, and asked us to INAUGRATE it for them. Since then all sorts of famous people have performed on the Friday, BUT WE WERE FIRST!

My memories of the evening were that a) it took some WORK to keep it all thing going, as we were only partly amplified and TENTS don't tend to be terrific for acoustics b) I very much enjoyed doing a gig barefoot, and also c) Miss E and Miss L Pattison basically upstaged me the whole way through. What I DIDN'T remember however was that, according to the original blog, this was the very first time we ever did THE TIGER'S ROAR! It was so NEW that we didn't even know that was it's name at the time, but over the years it has come to be a HIGHPOINT of our entire show!

I hope these old videos are of interest - I've really enjoyed looking at them, even if it's made me feel a bit knackered just THINKING about how many gigs we did back then, and if anybody has any other videos lying around, do let me know. As I say, this is the end of the gigs I've digitised from DVDs found in a drawer, but while uploading them I found a whole load of OTHER gigs that I uploaded years ago but never showed off, so we'll be carrying on with some of those next time!

posted 10/5/2021 by MJ Hibbett
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Gigs Of The Past - The Red House
Today we're leaping forward three years to one of my busiest years in ROCK, when I did a LUDICROUS 72 gigs over the course of the year. Yes yes, I know, B Dylan, B Springsteen et al have probably done many more than that per year in the past, but B Dylan, B Springsteen et al didn't also have full-time jobs did they?

One of the reasons for the huge number of gigs during this and the following years was that, as well as TOURING THE NATION on a weekly basis, I was also doing the first of the Me And Steve Fringe shows - My Exciting Life In ROCK!

This was the show based on Steve's suggestion that I do "all of the good stories" and "all of the good songs", so that is basically what it was! Today's video was filmed on 7 July 2008 at The Red House, Sheffield by Mr Michael Prince, and it was meant to be a warm-up for our week-long run at the Edinburgh Fringe the following month. However, when I rolled up I found that it was actually a normal multi-band show and I only had a half hour slot, so did an ABBREVIATED version, as you can see here:

As it says on the original blog about it, I had a LOVELY evening as I so often do in Sheffield, with a whole heap of delightful pals, and that's probably why I staggered off into the night afterwards and got completely lost. I distinctly remember walking along dark streets thinking "Something familiar will crop up soon" and it never doing so, and being IMMENSELY relieved when I was able to flag down a taxi, especially when I realised I'd been going in entirely the opposite direction to where my actual hotel was!

There's just one more video to go in this short series, ALSO filmed by Michael, so do join me next time for a remembrance of the time we invented a whole NIGHT at a festival!

posted 6/5/2021 by MJ Hibbett
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Gigs Of The Past - Malcfest
Today's gig nominally took place in Catford in September 2005, but in my heart it happened in Lewisham. For LO! this was Malcfest, an event run by Mr Malcolm Gayner who was a huge part of (what I always thought of as) The Kooba Scene, based around the pioneering internet radio station and gigs at The Fox & Firkin in Lewisham. There was a whole heap of wonderful bands who gigged there and got played on Kooba, and all SORTS of larks and hijinks emerged from it. It was a huge part of my life back then, and introduced me to a truckload of DELIGHTFUL people.

So, even though this took place in the back yard of Malcolm's house in Catford I always think of it as Lewisham - have a look and see what part of South London it strikes you as:

The first thing you might notice, apart from my hairiness and bright t-shirt, is that my voice sounds like it's being piped in from miles away. The reason for this is that Malcolm had a MASSIVE PA system which everythig was being played in from, and he took the audio recording from that. The PA system was in the front room of the house with all the doors shut, so you could vaguely hear it outside but not much. I think the idea was that some people were in the front room GROOVING (NB bands supplying GROOVE were playing later) but there was also some idea that by shutting the doors it made everything louder without upsetting the neighbours too much. I didn't understand it at the time and I don't really now! I do remember it being a fun afternoon though - I have always enjoyed a back yard gig, especially when there is Performers' Beer provided, and I think there was a barbecue too.

This gig was near the start of my decade of constant gigging, around the point when I'd developed an "Uberset" of songs which I knew I could play anywhere and usually get a good reaction from the extremely varied types of crowds I was playing to - nowadays we would call this a set of "Guaranteed Bangers". The only "problem" I had with this was that these songs came from all over the place within my OUVRE, so when people asked to buy a CD at the end of the show (as they sometimes did) it was difficult to recommend something, and the recorded versions of the songs would be very different to those they'd just seen me do solo.

Thinking back, this was a nice problem to have, and what I should have done was just give away extra CDs or something. What I DID do however was record the entire set on the appropriately titled The Uberset album. I originally intended to record it totally live at this gig, which is why I mention it, but as you can see from the video I very quickly made far too many mistakes, probably due to being nervous about recording it, so gave up on that idea and just had a nice time instead, returning a few weeks later to record the actual album.

It was a lovely, if rather busy, time, though I wish I hadn't been quite so enthusiastic about pressing copies of this album - I've still got bloody loads of copies left!

posted 4/5/2021 by MJ Hibbett
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