Monthly Archives: October 2017

Saltburn-by-the-Sea, North Yorkshire

October 19, 2017

Sunday was a perfect October day. Bright, still and not yet too cold. On this basis I managed to lure the present Mrs Ives into the Morgan and we set the controls for Salturn-by-the-Sea.

Located on the North Yorkshire coast this small resort of about 6,000 people is nestled into the former heavy industry conurbations of Teesside. The town has always existed as a resort, established in the 19th Century. Boasting a long attractive beach and restored Victorian pier there is a lot to like but the town on the cliff behind is quite a small affair and not overly prosperous. Frankly you’d be hard pressed to give it a definable status in the 21st century other than as housing community for commuters to Middlesbrough.

For me it is redolent with memories. In 1965 at the tender age of 10 years old I was despatched to Saltburn Manor School to board. Seventy miles from my home. Any visit for me is an examination of a distant memory with some diverse recollections.

The school was located on a hill detached from the town by valley gardens. The link into town was via a classic 19th century 200 metre long iron footbridge. Need less to say this bridge fell into physical decline and was demolished in 1974 but by this time the school had shut. I long remember the short walk into town across this bridge. The loss of the bridge and school is quite a significant ‘erase’ and a visitor wouldn’t know of their former existence without research.

Our visit started at the pier and in stark contrast to 1965 I found three Muslim girls on the pier attempt to take a selfie. I helped by taking a group photo. We then observed the fishermen at the end of the pier wondering what fish they might haul up before ascending the steep cliff back into the town centre.

The heart of the town is dominated by the railway station and a selection of shops that at best seem remnants of more prosperous times. 

In one of these shops I remember buying my mother a record for a present. It was “Strangers In The Night” by Frank Sinatra. Another memory was the organ pipes at a local church. On Sunday mornings we were marched in a ‘crocodile’ into town for a church service. As a child I spent many Sundays sat on pews and gazing around these fairly austere and chilly surroundings, which were always leavened by some colour. Most church organ pipes are not painted but these were. Other memories include the manufacture of balsa wood models. This involved glue and dope for the paper clad wings. More brilliantly for a small boy it also included a fiercely sharp scalpel like knife to fashion the wood. I still have the scar where I managed to remove a flap of skin on my thigh!

I only spent one year here before I was sent to another boarding school in Harrogate.

On our stroll we found a local delicatessen cum grocery and enjoyed a coffee before finding the car and returning home. We found an epic winding route from Stokesley to Hemsley. Things were a little quiet on my left hand side during the journey. I later received the terse comment that I had enjoyed the Morgan on the demanding roads pushing it a little too fast though the corners. Nonsense.

Record Of The Week # 29

October 8, 2017

Fleetwood Mac – Rumours

In prospecting around for classic albums then you mustn’t be a snob about things and so I picked this. Anna recently returned home from her voluntary shopkeeper stint at the local Red Cross brandishing the vinyl. It was a crisp nearly unblemished copy that made the speakers jump and made me recall how much we all love the songs.

If you type ‘rumours’ into your Search field on the Internet then think of all the things it might return? In fact mine came back with “Rumours (album) – Wikipedia’. I think we’re talking gigantic here. In fact 40m copies sold. It probably was in some ways the peak of popular Rock music. I heard someone postulate that there is no new Rock music today. Frankly judging by the touring and popularity of 1970’s acts then this is credible.

I’m still surprised that Brits Mick Fleetwood (drums) and the John McVie (bass), who gave the band its name, had such a Blues past. McVie plucked the strings for John Mayall and Howlin’ Wolf. Fleetwood, the only famous musician born in Cornwall that I know, hit the skins for John Mayall before forming Fleetwood Mac and their various incarnations including guitarists Jeremy Spencer, Peter Green, Danny Kirwin and Bob Welch. The third, long time member, Christine McVie cut her teeth with Stan Webb of Chicken Shack fame as Miss Perfect. However, their fortunes went stellar after hiring Americans Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks to bring their respective vocal, guitar and song writing skills. The rest as they say is….

The folk lore goes that the album was recorded in a febrile and toxic climate of broken relationships, substance misuse and hate but heaven help me it certainly is a fine piece of music.

“Second Hand News”, a Buckingham composition. Recorded in LA gives the track that West Coast, bouncy, sunshine, feel good vibe driven at a pace. “Dreams” arrives with a thundering bass line and Nicks, who wrote this, shimmers a saccharine sweet vocal whilst Buckingham fills and Fleetwood keeps an immaculate yet insistent beat. It is the melody that haunts.

“Don’t Stop” surprisingly made its way onto Bill Clinton’s albeit successful 1992 Presidential campaign. You can vote how you like but it always remains a mystery to me why artists put their music irrevocably at a point in time with an association that they never intended and have no subsequent control of. However, Christine’s composition is a song of redemption and optimism:

                                                                                “Don’t stop, thinking about tomorrow

Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here

It’ll be, better than before

Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone”

If you had any doubts that McVie and Fleetwood were making up the numbers and fortuitously counting their enormous wad behind the tent then think again.  With a remorseless muscular energy they drove this album into every 1978 disco and party’s front room.

Side Two starts with one of the Classic Rock tracks of all time: after Buckingham’s plucked steel guitar introduction we get the harmonies. “The Chain” then receives the turbo kick in the back with that bass and drum before Buckingham owns the space again. The song builds to fill the room and then we sweep away pretence at pretty melodies and McVie thumps a mean rhythm, Fleetwood makes his usual brutal statement and Buckingham lights up the song with his guitar.

“You Make Loving Fun’ was about Christine’s, now newly divorced from John, affair with the band’s lighting director. To keep the peace, although the ex’s didn’t talk socially, she told McVie it was about a dog. (If he’s this stupid then you can see why they split up).

The band finish with “Gold Dust Woman”, a Nicks composition and vocal. Classic Nicks mystic and illusionary words spin a web of layered atmosphere whilst Buckingham embellishes proceedings on acoustic and electric guitar. All this belies the fact that apparently this was eventually recorded at 4 am in the morning.

Eventually we got to see the band on their enormous 2014 world tour at Leeds Arena. It was the original line up and it was pitch and word perfect. Buckingham came across as a strange example of human life and Nicks as a bit of a bag lady with her attire and scarves but the legacy is undeniable and its place toward the top of the stack is well earned.

Crevices, Neckties & Weddings – Week 39 : 2017

October 3, 2017

The week started with some hilarity. Hoovering out the car is not an obvious foundation for Comedy Gold. The present Mrs Ives had lost the plastic fitting that you can fit onto the end of the vacuum’s hose to poke into all the parts of the car that you need to reach. In order to resolve this shortage I rang the local shop and, probably poorly, described what I wanted.

“Ah, a crevice tool”.

Cue uncontrollable giggling in Acaster Malbis. Simple pleasures but hoovering the car will never be the same again.

In looking at Twitter I came across a superb image (and post) that immediately looked very amusing and likely to be popular. So despite approbation from the FED (Favourite Eldest Daughter) I lifted it straight onto Facebook (giving no credit to the originator). I think I might claim that it went viral. Over 1,704 Shares and 88 Likes.I also had strangers wanting to become my friend. I am big in Ohio now.

The end of the week brought a wedding – Catherine, my wife’s sister. As we were getting dressed up at my daughter and partner’s flat in West Didsbury I did ask the partners of my daughters why the fact Catherine was not getting married in a church held one main benefit? The received answers were to do with religion. No, I replied. The absence of a collection boys! What was also illuminating was their inability to tie a knot with their neckties properly. Seldom do they dress formally and so this was a challenge for them. Kids of today, eh? Mr Helpful was on hand however.

The ceremony took place in a theatre in Stockport and was a brilliant setting for the marriage, the wedding breakfast and a concert later by Jeff and his band, Catherine’s husband. Even little touches like providing a Laurel & Hardy and Bugs Bunny interlude for the guests in the theatre whilst the bride and groom were carted off by the photographer for endless snaps was delightful. By any standards then Catherine, above anyone I know, deserved a lovely day and a future happy life. One of her sons, Edward, stood up during the toasts and summarised this in such a magnificent way that we all had a tear in our eye by the time he had finished. A wonderful day.

Lastly, as a man who can appreciate a bit of furniture then I am blown away by what Luke Bussell has knocked up. He’s the son of some friends and this Imperial College Engineering under graduate made this kitchen unit for the children of a next door neighbour. Using softwood, not least so it isn’t terribly heavy to move, and then fashioning knobs and taps out of other types of hard wood he produced this in a workshop in his parent’s garage using wood working machinery. He had no drawings and just checked it out on Google and then proceeded accordingly. He’s likely to find a career in California working on electronics after graduation. A real talent.

Record Of The Week # 28

October 2, 2017

The Hollering Pines – Mansion Of Heartbreak

The Hollering Pines second album, Mansion Of Heartbreak, is a traditional Country joy. Hailing from Utah, not the most obvious home for Country music, this five piece band, complemented by guest musicians, have written twelve beautiful songs dripping with melodies, hooks and Emmylou Harris style sweet and joyful harmonies. As they say ‘what’s not to like’.

Despite their profile, which belies their talent and potential, then they have been together for some years and have toured supporting major artists. Individually they have their own projects but collectively they deserve some wider recognition and this is a great place to start your catch up if they’re new to you.

“Memory Of A Wild Heart” recounts the story of a marriage on the rocks and the desire to rekindle a wild heart – a place where it all started. Sisters Marie Bradshaw (acoustic guitar) and Kiki Jane Sieger (bass) take the vocals with Marie leading throughout. This track has brass gently in the background giving it a real swing.

So a great start but “These Walls” is an album highlight with an exquisite tune, harmony vocals and pedal steel. Strings provide a lush bed on which the ladies advise of their doubts over a long-term love. In fact you’d be searching your pockets for loose change to play this again on the honky tonk’s jukebox. Sublime.

“Mansion Of Heartbreak” takes us again down the ‘tortured souls’ route of Classic Country. Against a folk acoustic backing the girls weave their magic whilst M Horton Smith steps up with some attractive mandolin. Yet ominously electric guitar invents dark patterns in the background to give this title track the anchoring emotion the girls sing of.

Dylan Shore strikes a bluesy pose with a dirty electric guitar sound on “Blacktop Dusty Blues” and the girls jettison some sweetness for a little sass. However this is no genre switch: this is simply the best of Country Blues.

Bradshaw and Sieger’s beautiful dovetailing voices start “Tell Me You’re Leaving” acapella. Eventually the band starts up and leads a Country hoedown of a tune with Billy Contreras’ fiddle joining the band’s rockabilly.

The PR trills that The Hollering Pines are ‘singing songs of long nights, short lives and spilled chances’. I think you will agree.

If you’ve invested in Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters then this has a similar feel and direction. In my opinion there is no higher praise