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BlogSandman And The Race To Complete Netflix
A few weeks ago I came to a Decisive Decision re. Entertainment Options and The Cost Of Living Crisis. I looked at our PORTFOLIO of streaming services and realised that, now that I'd watched the (AMAZING) latest series of "Stranger Things" I had pretty much COMPLETED NETFLIX and didn't really need it anymore. Also, I really really really wanted to get Paramount+ so I could watch the (ALSO AMAZING) "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" and THUS decided to cancel Netflix and reallocate my resources. The date was set for a couple of weeks hence, and all seemed well.
However, Netflix had other ideas. "Cancelling us, are you?" they said. "Oh, so I suppose you don't want to watch THE SANDMAN then eh? EH?" "Curse you Netflix!" I railed, but then remembered that when it "dropped" (MEDIA LINGO) on August 5th that meant the whole SERIES would be available, giving me just over a week to watch THE LOT. "Challenge", said I, quoting another series available on streaming services, "Accepted!"
It's now a couple of days later and I am about halfway through and I must say I REALLY like it. Of all the Neil-Gamain-y things I have ever read or watched (and I have read or watched LOADS of the above) this is pretty much the MOST Neil-Gaiman-y thing EVER. As well it might be, OBVS. For instance, last night I finished The One In The Diner, which a) was creepy and scary but b) suddenly made a beautiful point that made everything look very different indeed i.e. c) was very Neil-Gaiman-y. Also it is packed full of Interesting Goths wafting around saying Important Sounding Things but then being Charmingly Quirky just before Something New Happens. I LIKE IT.
I bought the first few issues of the comic when it originally came out (and, INEVITABLY, sold them ages ago for quite a bit less than they would have got now!) but then drifted away. I eventually read the whole thing about four years ago in the library at UAL, so am only VAGUELY away of how the original story worked. This is GOOD in that I am getting the joyful twinges of recognition every few minutes, but does make me wonder what anybody who HADN'T read it before would make of it. Does the story really make any sense this way? I mean, I'm not sure that it did originally, being more a series of VIGNETTES, but is that all right on the telly?
I'm also aware of the changes, especially to the casting which I am ALL THERE FOR. The Sandman comic came out DECADES ago, and it's great that Actual Neil Gaiman has thought about things in Modern Times and shifted the casting choices around, although this does lead me to question some of the things that HAVE been left as they are. Specifically, why does everyone have to have pointy ears all the time? Just for practical purposes, it must take AGES to get everyone fitted out with them, so is it completely necessary so to do? Or did Actual Neil Gaiman say "Pointy ears are CRUCIAL to the success of my OUVRE - if they go, I GO ALSO!"
Having said that, I have really enjoyed some of the tiny daft aspects of COMICS that have made their way into this multi-million dollar extravaganza, ESPECIALLY Cain and Abel. NB if you haven't seen it yet this isn't really a SPOILER or anything, they are basically A SMALL JOKE what Alan Moore put into "Swamp Thing" about a THOUSAND years ago which then made their way into the "Sandman" comic as well, and then eventually into this incredibly expensive telly show, complete with original haircuts and even the joke about "The House Of Mystery" and "The House Of Secrets" which was monumentally NICHE in the comics, let alone now. Also: POINTY EARS!
There's still a way to go but, as I say, I am thoroughly enjoying it, and then I will have FINISHED Netflix... unless they suddenly announce "Giant Days" or "Dinosaur Comics" as a series, in which case I AM BACK!
posted 10/8/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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It's Called League One For A Reason
Saturday found me travelling to Peterborough once more for Posh's first home game of the season and also - perhaps even MORE importantly - my first game as a Season Ticket holder!
I set off full of excitement, and was surprised to find my train to St Pancras full of OTHER people, ALSO full of excitement, for OTHER games. Everyone was in groups talking over each other - it was VERY loud but nobody was being Rude or Aggressive, if anything it was like being on a massive school trip!
When I got to St Pancras it was RAMMED - half the escalators are being repaired on the Javelin platform, so that was a bottleneck, and when I eventually got downstairs I had to QUEUE TO GET OUT, due to the Eurostar queue being so massive and backed up. St Pancras is a lovely station but it is designed for breezing in and out of, and lacks the vast halls of your Kings Cross or Euston, which are there to hold huge numbers of the disgruntled. Kings Cross was similarly busy when I got there, but it was at least possible to move around!
After that it was all smooth sailing, or rather railing, and I was soon in Peterborough marching across town to Charters AKA The Boat Place to meet the usual bunch of DELIGHTFUL people and LO! much intellectual conversation was had. Again, people all around were jolly, including a large contingent of Morecambe fans, who turned out to be pretty much ALL of the Morecambe fans. Inside at the bar I got chatted to by a young lad who was DELIGHTED with how it was all going. "This is the best pub I've ever been in!" he said. This pleased the bar staff immensely!
After a while it was time to stroll over the road. The sun was shining and all seemed well with the world, which is usually the cue for it all to go horribly wrong but, astonishingly, NO! The actual game itself was an actual PLEASURE to watch, which was certainly NOT the case in the ugly, mean, DIFFICULT world of The Championship. Ugh! That was a nasty league, full of teams CHEATING by PRACTICING beforehand and agreeing between them what they were going to do. This was very much NOT the case with Morecambe who played the game as it is meant to be played i.e. not very well. We, on the other hand, had kept some of the GAMESMANSHIP of the Championship and did crazy things like occassionally passing the ball TO each other rather than just HOOFING it (not all the time, but still) and managing to do Dribbling and, in the case of our new Enormous Goalkeeper, stopping it going in the goal. We won 3-0 in the end, it was GRATE!
INDEED my only complaint was that, despite that FACT that The Family Stand is now sponsored by Compare The Market and EXPLICITLY re-named The Meerkat Family Stand, we did NOT have a Meerkat Mascot. How can this be? When we were sponsored by a mattress company we had a MATTRESS mascot, when we were sponsored by Abax (whatever that is) we had a GIANT LETTER A mascot, but now there is a sponsor with the possibility of a mascot that would NOT actively terrify small children the opportunity is not taken. Since "Miss Posh" (a woman in a top hat) was retired we are now in the perilous state of only having FOUR (4) mascots - Mr Posh (a man in a top hat), Mick The Skip (a builder), PB (another builder) and The Rabbit Thing (a rabbit thing) - which to my mind is far too few. Come on, Barry Fry, SORT IT OUT!
Apart from that though it was a wonderful return to London Road, especially as winning BOTH games so far means that we are TOP OF THE LEAGUE. A league when winning twice puts you at the top is EXACTLY the sort of league I like - it's good to be back!
posted 8/8/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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Superhero Fatigue Fatigue
I went to the pictures on Monday night to see the new "Thor" film with my pal Mr S Carter. Steve had got us SUPER posh seats with reclining backs and FOOT LIFTS which was VERY fancy, and the film itself was GRATE. At times it seemed like about 7 different films chopped up and then stuck together, but that's fine, and I was surprised to find Christian Bale doing a DENNIS PENNIS impersonation throughout, but it was a LOT of fun, with plenty of JOKES, lots of CAMEOS, and I had a bit of an old cry in several places too. What's not to like?
Well apparently quite a bit according to THE REVIEWERS who all seem to have been banging on about "Superhero Fatigue" again. This is the idea that people have had enough of superhero movies so won't be going anymore, and it is something that they have been saying pretty much since "Iron Man 2" came out, despite the fact that the films seem to be making about A BILLION POUNDS* every time (*ACTUALLY a billion pounds!).
I think there are two reasons for this. Firstly, THE REVIEWERS hate the fact that people go and see films they actually WANT to see, rather than the ones THE REVIEWERS recommend. I mean, there have been about 17 billion Jane Austen adaptations, but you never ever ever hear anybody talking about "Austen Fatigue" do you? I mean, nor should they, Jane Austen is ACE, but even when a rubbish version comes out (like the recent one on Netflix) it doesn't do well because a bad film, and not because of AUSTEN SATURATION.
Secondly, and perhaps more charitably, the last 15 years or so of Superhero Movies have been a NEW THING. There have been successful superhero films before e.g. "Superman" (OBVS) and the first Tim Burton "Batman", but these were all very traditional films with a traditional film structure and though they DID have sequels they tended to be design so you could see them quite happily without having watched any of the others. The new Superhero movies - and ESPECIALLY the Marvel ones - very definitely DO NOT do that. Quite a large amount of the FUN of the new "Thor" movie, for instance, was seeing references to past events, cameos from other characters, or STUFF that toys around with established aspects OR sets up exciting new things. Again, there have been film series before, but these tended to revolve around specific characters rather than be MODULAR like what the MCU is. An exception to this (that I have just looked up to check!) is the GODZILLA franchise which had a whole heap of different movies and solo adventures. As per with TRANSMEDIA stuff, the Japanese got there first, and they do not appear to be suffering from GODZILLA FATIGUE.
The other interesting thing (NB perhaps just for me) is the way that Marvel keep on doing ACTUAL Superhero Movies. It must be very very tempting to go "Hang on, here's an amazing idea - why don't we DECONSTRUCT the superhero movie genre? Eh? No one has ever thought of that before!" and YES ALL RIGHT there is a bit of that going on within the films themselves, but overall the MCU is a series of Actual Superhero Movies that define what Actual Superhero Movies ARE. This is GRATE because when you have a proper established genre like this it means that other film and TV makers CAN then go and muck around with it a bit. For instance, "The Boys" would not have worked AT ALL if it had come out fifteen years ago (i.e. not long after the comic itself came out) when non-comics people weren't familiar with how superhero stories function. Nowadays we have all seen 98 Million Billion Marvel films so GET it completely, but to get there 98 Million Billion Marvel films had to be made in the first place.
Similarly, a really good film like "Mystery Men" did not work AT ALL when it came out because it was based on a comic RIFFING on superhero stories that existed in comics but not really in movies. Even more so, the original "Watchmen" film was lots of fun for people like me going "OOH LOOK that is ISSUE 10 PAGE 4 PANEL 4 how very clever!" but possibly not for everybody else who had no frame of reference for the core idea i.e. "Hey, What If Superheroes Were Real?" If they hadn't remade it AGANE on the telly a new "Watchmen" film would probably be a really good idea!
My enormous hope is that we're only at the START of Supehero Movies - Actual or otherwise - as a genre. Now that everyone understands how they work there's TONNES of space for different sorts of movies, or TV shows, or OTHER media that can start creating whole new stories or even adapting some more of the old ones that similarly comment on superhero stories (COME ON, Hollywood, do Zenith!). All it needs is for organisations like Marvel to keep pumping out Actual Superhero Movies (hopefully featuring Doctor Doom), and for people like me and Steve HEROICALLY keep going to see them. I'm ready to do my part!
posted 3/8/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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A World Exclusive
I am DELIGHTED to announce that you can now have a first listen to one of the new tracks from "The Unearthly Beauty Of MJ Hibbett" (i.e. my new solo album what is out in October). International Radio Disc Jockey Mr J Kell played the song "Stick To The Agenda" as a **WORLD EXCLUSIVE** on his radio show "John Kell VS Satan" which you can Listen Again to BELOW:
It is always a good show with PLENTY of good stuff on it and I am VERY happy to be in such excellent company. The song itself is a fairly good indicator of what the album itself is like in that it features my MIDI MASTERY (it's got a piano! it speeds up a little bit as it goes along!) and also is about Workplace Issues - something which I have been covering for nigh on a QUARTER OF A CENTURY now! I very much hope you enjoy it, as there is plenty more where that came from!
posted 1/8/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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Earlier in the week I sent details of the new album to John The Publisher, who very sensibly asked what the release date would be for the album AND SINGLES. I had planned to do some VIDEOS but wasn't thinking of Actual Singles (and by "Actual" I only mean "Actual Digital Things On Spotify" rather than anything physical). I asked John if there was any point, and he suggested it was a way of driving interest and getting people to pre-order UNITS, so I pencilled that into the Launch STRATEGY too.
This was all fine and dandy, and I know exactly which track is going to BE the aforesaid single, but a small yet persistent part of my BRANE kept saying "Well, if you're paying a tenner to put a SINGLE on Spotify, you might as well do a B-SIDE hadn't you? Eh? Don't you think?" The only trouble with this THORT was that I didn't actually HAVE any tracks i could use as a b-side. Initially I had vague ideas about keeping four songs OFF the album for later use, but it all worked really nicely as 14 tracks (and even then it's only 33 minutes long) so I ended up using THE LOT.
"Not a problem", I thought, "I shall just record another song. How hard can it be?" And the answer is: not really very hard at all! It's taken me a few months, all together, to record the album, but an awful lot of that time was spent learning how to do things - stuff like how MIDI works, or how to get decent COMPRESSION, or record tracks directly onto my computer, all took AGES to work out but now that I know how to do it is PEASY.
Also, I had a couple of songs that I liked that only ever appeared on Hibbetts Hoover (which was a bunch of demoes and suchlike given away to newsletter subscribers a few years ago) so I listened to those, picked the one I liked most (which also, ENTIRELY COINCIDENTALLY, was the one I had the chords already written down for), and started recording it.
Here, now, 48 hours later I have it pretty much half DONE. There's still VOCALS to do and some tinkering and MIXING, but then it'll be ready to upload to emubands and we're DONE. It's all rather lovely really, and it sounds QUITE NICE too! Making ROCK: it's PEASY!
posted 28/7/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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ROCK Admin Continues
I have been having a THRILLING time of it over the past few days, as ROCK ADMIN for the forthcoming new album has reached previously unattainable heights of excitement.
For LO! I have now uploaded THE LOT to Emubands, where it has been PROCESSED and prepared for distribution via All Streaming Services. Excitingly that means that, somewhere in the Emubands Corporate Structure, there is somebody other than ME who will be able to hear it... if they want to. WHICH THE SURELY WILL.
Doing that means I had to finalise a RELEASE DATE, which will be revealed along with the title in the newsletter on Friday. I've also booked AN ACTUAL GIG to mark the official LAUNCH, and will be on the lookout for more soon too.
In addition I have been doing further ESSENTIAL ADMIN in the shape of mixing RADIO EDITS for some of the songs (to ensure that I definitely get on KEN BRUCE) and INSTRUMENTALS. This latter is something I do at the behest of my lovely publishers, Wipeout Music, who I am also supplying with LYRICS and CODES and all sorts - that gets me onto various DATABASES of songs used by media types, and though LABORIOUS to fill in has resulted in one of our songs being used as background music on a Radio 4 show and ANOTHER being used as the theme tune for a cooking show on Radio Sheffield! I have also uploaded details of all the tracks to the PPL Database which, as anyone involved in the world of ROCK will tell you, is an UNFATHOMABLE JOY. This logs the MECHANICALS of all the tracks, which is something SO EXCITING that it would be unwise for me to discuss it now for fear of causing an outbreak of FAINTING.
On top of all THAT I have now completed the first VIDEO (which will probably be the SECOND video to actually be released) and am working on plans for at least THREE (3) more. I keep thinking "Maybe I should do a video for every song like DURAN DURAN and RIO" but then WISER parts of my brain reply "Don't do that, that would be a right pain in the wotsits".
As you can probably tell I am having a LOVELY time getting into all this again. I do enjoy the ADMIN part of the process, almost as much as the proper SHOWING OFF bit at the end. I have decided to go ALL IN on the "solo" aspect of the solo album and try to do as much as I can MYSELF, which means I'm going to have to wheel out my MEDIA SKILLZ soon and start hassling radio stations to play it, which is always fun. To be honest, I don't understand why your Professional Full-Time International Rock Stars don't do more of this - I mean, they haven't got proper jobs to do, so what else are they doing all day?
posted 26/7/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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A Graduand No More
Last Friday was a momentous day, for LO! it was my graduation ceremony, the point at which my PhD was fully totally completely DONE! Or, as it turned out, NEARLY done.
It was a gorgeous sunny day, even at the ungodly hour of 6am (IN THE MORNING!) which is when I had to get up in order to get to the pre-ceremony preparations. I did NOT go to ART COLLEGE in order to get up early, but I was prepared to make an exception here at the very end.
I thus left the flat bright and early to get the high speed to St Pancras and then the Thameslink to Blackfriars, which meant I got off the train at Blackfriars Bridge with its AMAZING view of That London. This was followed by a lovely walk along the river to The Royal Festival Hall, arriving with 15 minutes to spare before the building actually opened. All the advice said "You MUST arrive super-early" and even though I knew that this was unlikely to be the case I wanted to be sure I got there in time, and by the looks of the small crowd MILLING ABOUT I was not alone.
Once they let us in it all went very smoothly - I got my ticket, proceeded to the GOWNING area, and got GOWNED UP. I knew that people being awarded a PhD get a SPECIAL HAT, but I was not quite prepared for the SPECIAL GOWNS too, nor indeed the colours i.e. BRIGHT PINK AND PURPLE. I looked around and saw that I was currently the ONLY person wearing such vivid colours, as everyone else was in BORING black gowns with PEDESTRIAN mortar boards. I don't mind telling you that I felt PRETTY FLIPPING SPECIAL at this point, and you can see why BELOW:
Even the HAT fitted properly, which is something that no hat in my LIFE has ever done before! I then proceeded towards the PHOTO STUDIO section to get my Official Photograph done - I know there is mixed opinion about the worth of doing these Official Photographs, but after six years of study I thought "SOD IT, I am going ALL IN" and so DID. It was all super efficient and I was all done and dusted within about ten minutes. I was Quite Impressed.
With that done I went to have a cup of coffee, and was soon joined by The Tassle On My Hat, who had not had much difficulty finding me, due to the aforesaid OUTFIT. Shortly after this we made our way to the auditorium, where I was surprised to find myself sitting right on the first row, right at the end nearest the door. "Hang on," I thought, "does this mean I'm going on first?" At this point a Nice Young Man who looked very much like TV's Gian Sammarco (i.e. who played Adrian Mole in the telly series and thus looked also very much like a young ME) came over and said "Are you ready to start the whole thing off?" It turned out that there were only TWO PhD students getting awards for this session, and as the other was my pal Dr T Yu-Kiener that meant that I was alphabetically in the lead. YIKES!
The ceremony began with everyone processioning in, including our esteemed Chancellor The Artist Grayson Perry in his ROBES (which I fear made mine look slightly LESS flashy) and various Professors, including mine and Tobias's supervisor Professor Roger Sabin, who gave us a big THUMBS UP as he went by. Next was the HONORARY FELLOWSHIP award which, to my GRATE delight, went to ACTUAL GLEN MATLOCK, who did a LOVELY speech, then we were rustled up and taken through a Secret Door to the backstage area. Something else was going on onstage while this happened (I later worked out it was conferring some Professorships) but I wasn't paying attention. I was too busy worrying about what to do as I marched across the stage - should I do something HILARIOUS? Or be very SERIOUS? In theory I was setting the tone for EVERYBODY who followed so the responsibility weighed heavy, but in the end I just stomped on and WAVED THE HECK out of the area. It seemed to go OK, but you can judge for yourself below!
After all that I skipped merrily along a corridor to collect my certificate and thus finally bring all proceedings to a halt. I was full of excitement and delight, so was just a little bit miffed to find out that they had FORGOTTEN my certificate! They'd forgotten Tobias's too - apparently PhD Certificates get printed somewhere else, and either hadn't been done or had been left behind. This was SOMEWHAT annoying, but not entirely out of the blue - in the nicest possible way, of all the many educational establishments I have worked and/or studied at, I would rank UAL at around #7 for Efficiency.
After a bit of a grumble we went back to our seats for the rest of the ceremony. The nice thing about going first was that it meant our bit was DONE, but it also meant that we had the whole rest of it to get through. We were both VETERANS of this sort of thing though, so we very much paced our Gentle Clapping and got through it without injury.
When it was all over we went to sort out the certificate issue with an EXTREMELY apologetic lady (she's going to get them posted to us) and then went in search of our other halfs. We found Mrs Tobias and then got an Instant Message from my own Steps On My Stairs saying she'd discovered FREE BUBBLY on the fifth floor, so we all made our way there where we had a LOVELY time. We grabbed Roger and there was much LARFS and FIZZ and it all felt rather wonderful. As the most colourful people there, a number of people came over and asked a) to have a photograph with us and b) what the robes were all about, and we were VERY happy to oblige!
Roger went off to have his Official Luncheon with Glen Matlock, the Yu-Kieners headed home, and we soaked in the atmosphere a bit more. The View Of My Vista had been particularly moved by it all, loving all the speeches (I must say they had been good - especially the Student Representatives) and the general feeling of everybody all being VERY proud of each other. "It's been one of the best days of my life," she said. I personally loved the fact that these were all Central St Martins students who had spent the past three years being SUPER DISRUPTORS but were now just the same as any bunch of students, hugging all the pals they'd spent the past three years with and then being taken out for a Slap Up Feed by parents.
I went to hand my gowns in and something WEIRD happened - I spotted Ian From Poly Poor. "Ian?" I said, and LO! it was him - the person who had been PRESIDENT of the Leicester Polytechnic Poor Theatre Company (aka the Drama Society) in my first year. He used to be a BBC News reporter a few years ago, and I would regularly point at him on telly and say "He was President Of Poly Poor two years before I was" and now here he was in real life. He was there for the graduation of one of his children, and though I suspect he did not have a clue who I was we shook hands and it was all very jolly, but also WEIRD. He'd been there right at the very start of my UNIVERSITY EDUCATION, and now here he was at the other end!
Gowns were handed in and then we wandered off, first in search of coffee, then LUNCH. We went to Mildred's Covent Garden, which was very nice indeed, and then I went and spent money in a) Milfoy's (WHISKY) and b) Gosh (COMICS) before we headed home, tired but very happy. It had been a lovely day!
posted 21/7/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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Mixing Complete (Probably)
This week I reached an important milestone in the recording of my forthcoming solo album: I finished the mixing! I think!
I say "I think" because I'm now in the process of listening to it a few more times to make absolutely sure, but so far it is sounding PRETTY GOOD. This is a relief as, at various points, I have veered wildly between thinking it is ALL amazing or ALL bloody awful, and there has been a LOT of mixing, re-mixing, re-recording, and especially Learning About Different Plug-Ins along the way before reaching this point.
The biggest surprise at this juncture was working out the ORDER. Usually this takes FOREVER, with about 17,000,000 different permutations tried, but this time it was PEASY. Once I'd worked out what should go first and what should go last everything else filled itself in. I recorded 14 tracks and had originally considered leaving a couple off, but when I did the aforesaid order it all seemed to work SO easily with THE LOT that that's how I left it.
There's still a LONG way to go before it's ready for release (which I'm currently thinking will be in October), including getting it onto the streaming services, sorting out the publicity, doing some videos, and WHO KNOWS maybe even doing some ACTUAL GIGS. I'm going to be unveiling the Exciting Title in the newsletter , which will be out at the end of next week, and then after that there will hopefully be a swelling tide of NEWS FACTS. All I need to do now is try and remember how this all works. Do I still send a tape to the Melody Maker, for instance, or have they gone all modern and switched to DAT?
All this and more to be sorted out over the next few weeks, but for now: watch out, THE MAN, there is ROCK on the way!
posted 20/7/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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Records And Books
On Saturday I headed into London town for some CULTURE. It began with a trip to Coal Drops Yard in Kings Cross for the Independent Label market. Over the past few years I've read about this happening and wanted to go but never actually got round to it, so was Quite Excited about finally making it this time. I arrived to find everything in full swing, with lots of people (mostly people who looked a LOT like ME, to be honest) mooching around various stalls, some of which featured BEER. I got myself a DELICIOUS pint of QED Session Pale from London Beer Lab (it was ACE) and then set off for a stroll round.
I had come prepared to splash CA$H on lots of fun records, but soon discovered a tiny flaw in this plan: I had no idea who any of the bands WERE, except for a tiny number whose records I already had. It is a FINE old state of affairs - what are these bands THINKING of, when they are unknown to a hep young rocker like what I am? I mean, I listen to Greatest Hits Radio every week and I'm sure I've been to almost several gigs in the past three years, so surely they should be getting through to a core market like me?
I did spot a copy of the new Prolapse single out in the wild though, and also found Mr J Jervis on a stall for a quick chat, so all was not lost. And, as I said, the beer was BRILLIANT.
It was a GORGEOUS sunny day so I set off on foot for my next port of call, in ISLINGTON. I stomped off along the canal and arrived quite quickly at the ANGEL end of Islington, but then was reminded that it is a HUGE place and a massive stomp to the HIGHBURY end where I was going. Also, it is WEIRD because Islington makes almost no sense whatsoever, and somehow obliterates my sense of direction so that I always arrive from completely the opposite direction to the one I thought I was coming from.
Still, I got to The Hen & Chickens in good time and got myself a PINT... which was entirely the opposite of my ealier pint i.e. DISGUSTING. It was so awful that I had to be Very Brave Indeed and take it back, and got a much nicer pint of lager instead. PHEW!
With that drama complete it was soon time for the ACTUAL drama, which was Book Talk Book Talk Book feat. Ben Moor and Joanna Neary. It was the last show I needed to complete my Ben Moor Collection, and it was worth waiting for as it was BRILLO. It was very much in the same MODE as Ben's solo shows i.e. with nested stories referring to each other, lots of GOOD WORDS, and multiple sub-plots and recurring themes. Also it was v.funny and both ACTORS were GRATE, to the extent that everybody stuck around for a bit too long at the end, unsure if it had really finished or not. I think it had, but I might need to go again to check.
With that I set off home, only to find that my train back to Stratford had been cancelled "due to weather", according to the sign in the station. It was a small hitch in what had otherwise been a DELIGHTFUL day of CULTURE!
posted 19/7/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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In The Meerkat Family Stand
Last week a Major Life Event occurred for me. After years of dreaming, hoping, and thinking it would wonderful if it could ever happen, one magical day, finally it has: for LO! my Peterborough United Season Ticket has arrived in the post!
It is a lifelong ambition that has, to be honest, come slightly sooner than expected. For many years I have promised myself that, come the day that I lay down my TOURING TROUSERS, I would replace Going To Different Towns And Shouting In A Pub For Thirty Minutes with Going To Different Pubs In The Same Town And Shouting In A Football Stadium, but I always thought this would be somewhere in the distant future when I had RETIRED. However, over the past couple of years what was once a MIGHTY TORRENT of GIGS has reduced itself to a BABBLING BROOK, and I felt that the time was right to finally take the plunge.
This decision has been helped along hugely by the agreement of Mr P Myland that he would move HIS season ticket so we could sit together - for the past few years, whenever I've gone to The Football, he has GALLANTLY made the trip into Peterborough City Centre midweek to sort out our tickets so we could sit together, so this will at least save him the trouble of that. I am hugely appreciative of it as a THING though, it is not something what one does lightly, and we did spend quite a while last season LOOKING at where to sit in The Family Stand for best a) view b) access to the loo c) distance from possible loonies.
My excitement was only DOUBLED however when I received my ticket and saw that the aforesaid Family Stand has been RENAMED, and is henceforth to be known as "The Meerkat Family Stand". I assume this is some DEAL that has been done with Compare The Market and am fervently PRAYING that it's going to involve a new MASCOT. We hardly have ANY mascots at the moment - just Mr Posh, his daughter Miss Posh, Peter Burrows (a rabbit), Mick George (a builder) and PB (another builder). A few years ago we also had The Giant Letter 'A' (a giant letter 'A') and Mattressman (a mattress) so it's all felt a bit deserted lately. Last time I went there was A PARADE OF DINOSAURS (NB actual ones, not the Directors) so I have high hopes that we are entering a new era when the stadium will be FULL of Delightful Characters. And also Barry Fry.
It all kicks off for me in a few weeks with our first home game, against MORECAMBE. If I tell you that the prospect of seeing us play MORECAMBE is filling me with excitement, you can perhaps understand how excited I am about it in general - this is going to be GRATE!
posted 11/7/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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RIP Andy Wright
People in ROCK of my a) inclination b) vintage have been stunned this week to hear the awful news that Andy Wright has passed away. Andy used to run The Princess Charlotte in Leicester during the 90s and 2000s, and as well as running the actual pub bit he was also responsible for booking the bands... and CRIKEY what bands they were.
People often go on about all the really famous bands that used to play at the Charlotte, and it is extremely true that he booked pretty much ALL of the bands who would go on to become big in Britpop and beyond. The Charlotte became a staple of the so-called Indie Toilet Circuit (and, let's be honest, along with The Hull Adelphi it was one of the main reasons it was given that name!) and EVERYBODY came and played there, which was AMAZING if you happened to live in Leicester at the time. We used to spend many many happy evenings sitting in the front bar pretending not to notice when people who either WERE incredibly famous or would very soon go ON to be so wandered through looking for the way to the stage.
More than that though, he gave a stage to the huge number of local bands who grew up around it, and there was a MASSIVE local scene that would shuttle between the Charlotte and the Mag most nights, before going on to The Mud Club just between or, if feeling adventurous, the Fan Club/Sector 5 a few streets away. Gigs happened every night, and whoever he was booking Andy would always put local bands on as support. He also used to do Bank Holidy all-dayers when he'd get LOADS of local bands to come and play, and we'd all spend the day getting utterly plastered, fed on his trademark Veggie Chilli, dispensed from a big bowl on the bar.
It remains one of the places I personally have played the most, and was the site of MANY incidents which have since become Favoured Anecdotes, including Zodiac Mindwarp And The Fire Escape, The Voon Reunion Gig, Tim Stopping A Fight At Razzle Club, Nigel Blackwell Doing An Encore Despite Phil The Soundman Switching The PA Off, The Band Posh Not Enjoying Remarks About Barry Fry, Voonlapse, and The Reason We Didn't Get Paid For A Half Man Half Biscuit Gig.
I would like to close by performing this last anecdote for you, as an example of the ACTUALLY LEGENDARY way that Andy dealt with local bands i.e. helpful, encouraging, but not in a way that besmirched the purity of the relationship by actually paying you if he could help it. Way back at the turn of the century, when The Validators were just starting out, I BEGGED him for AGES to let us support HMHB and he eventually agreed, promising us an actual FEE if enough people came in. The gig was RAMMED so, at the end of the evening, I approached him expecting a hearty congratulation and a wodge of CA$H.
"I can't give you anything," he said. "There weren't enough people in."
"But the room was packed!" I, not unreasonably, replied.
"Yes, but they were all very fat."
All I could do was salute his cheek and retire defeated. He was an excellent human who did a huge amount for the bands of Leicester, and he will be very very much missed - RIP Andy!
posted 7/7/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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Pop At The Lock
After getting home late on Friday night I had to do a super swift turnaround and get the train from Euston to Crewe, in preparation for me and The Validators playing at Pop At The Lock in Middlewich. I was met at the station by The Pattisons, and we ZOOMED off to the Premier Inn where we checked in, met up with Tom, and headed off to ROCK. We were only at 80% capacity as Frankie is Not Very Well at the moment, and he was MUCH missed throughout the day.
We got to the pub and instantly bumped into several THOUSAND (approx) old chums of the INDIETRACKS persuasion, for LO! it was very much like a mini-version of that. There were PALS, there were BANDS, and instead of trains there was a CANAL. It was a lovely atmosphere that continued all day!
We played at 6pm, and did THIS:
The first half was a bit shakey, but we settled in and I think the second half was PRETTY GOOD. My very most favourite bit was doing It Only Works Because You're here, which sounded FAB - well, it did to me anyway, you can judge for yourself BELOW:
20 Things To Do Before You're 30
Can We Be Friends?
Have A Drink With Us (Drink Doch Eine Met)
My Grandad Is Nuts
Hey Hey 16K
Billy Jones Is Dead
It Only Works Because You're here
We Did It Anyway
Afterwards we agreed that it would have been MUCH easier with Frankie around to GLUE us together, but otherwise we didn't do too badly. There was some CHAT, and it turned out that quite a few people there had a) never seen us before b) liked what they saw! I am always surprised when people see us live for the first time and LIKE us, possibly because my BRANE is still stuck in Gigs Of The Early 2000s when sound systems were AWFUL and we'd just sound like a right old racket. The sound on Saturday was BRILLIANT, which I feel allowed the delicate NUANCES of our outporings get across properly hem hem.
We stuck around for the whole day, having some chips, drinking QUITE A LOT of beer, and watching bands - I must admit I WELLED UP a bit when The Just Joans did "What Do We Do Now?" - and it was a remarkably JOLLY 60% of The Validators who staggered to the car with a Significantly More Sober Tiger to go home. We had had a LOVELY time, and like pretty much everyone else who went we really really hope the organisers do it again!
posted 6/7/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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Dun Laoghaire And How To Pronounce It
Last week I had my first trip out of the country for approx 100 years, as I went to Dun Laoghaire in Ireland for this year's International Graphic Novels And Comics Conference. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: it was dead good!
I flew to Dublin Airport from London City, which was DELIGHTFUL, then got the BUS into Dublin Actual, with a bus driver who was firstly ARSEY and then REALLY ARSEY when I asked to get off at an earlier stop. He did not like it AT ALL and refused to help me get my bag, then got ARSEY-IST at my lack of professional experience unloading suitcases. I would have felt bad about the whole bag business if he hadn't been such an ARSEY TWIT to begin with!
I then went to get a DART to Dun Laoghaire and it is a Good Thing that they have ticket machines as I would have spent ages trying to get a ticket to "Dun Low-g-Hair" when it is actually pronounced "Dun Leary". I've been saying "Dun Low-g-Hair" for MONTHS without a clue where it was - I did wonder why people in other countries do INSIST on such spellings ... then remembered i spent about 14 years living in Leicester.
The DART was the least DART-like transport ever, but was quite nice as it reminded me of one of the rattly old trains at Indietracks. Some 12 year old YOUTHS glared at me from the platform at one point, but from then on everyone I met was LOVELY. I got to Dun Laoghaire, checked into my hotel, and started as I meant to carry on by going straight to the PUB.
It was WEIRD to see everyone, as it's been three years since we last had an in-person comics conference, but it soon got into the usual GROOVE. For the two main evenings of the conference proper everyone went to a very nice pub called The Lighthouse which had a wide range of beer and also Vegan burgers, which meant that's where I had my tea! There were new people and old people, but it all smushed into the usual EXTREMELY good-natured camaraderie that these events have. Comics Studies really IS an extremely friendly field!
The conference itself was really good too. There was much discussion of the high quality of the TALKS as a reflection of how Comics Studies is growing and becoming A THING e.g. there were NO talks where people from other fields turn up and say "Have you ever read Watchmen? Let me tell you what happens" or similar, as there have occasionally been in the past. ALSO all the talks were highly relevant to the theme of ETHICS, and there were lots of SUPER INTERESTING THORTS to be had.
I did my presentation on the last day, which went pretty well, and I was then a bit sad to have to ZOOM OFF to get home. I chose NOT to go back the same way as I'd come, instead getting a coach direct to the airport, which worked out really well. Everyone had been worried about flights home because the news was full of plans to get the ARMY in to sort out "CHAOS" at the airport, but actually it was all DELIGHTFUL. I learnt a LOT, not least how to pronounce "Dun Laoghaire"!
posted 5/7/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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After the disappointment of watching "MEN" at the pictures I was very happy to be able to go home and finish watching "Volume One" of season four of "Stranger Things" which has, not to put too fine a point on it, been AMAZING.
In preparation for this series I had sat myself down earlier in the year and re-watched all three seasons so far, and been very surprised indeed by how BRILLIANT it was. As is my FOOLISH WONT I had watched each series in a MAD RUSH the first time around, staying up late and frantically pressing "next episode" whenever prompted, so probably not giving enough time for each one to properly sink in. THUS I remembered it as a whole lot of fun, but had not appreciated quite how DELIGHTFUL it all is, especially the CHARACTERS. As I re-watched I realised how beautifully done it all was, notably the REDEMPTIVE ARC of Steve, who is pretty much my favourite in the whole thing. Him and Dustin, him and Robin, even him and Jonathan, all of these relationships were done a) really nicely and b) in SURPRISING ways. I mean, most of the characters had good bits like this, but Steve was my favourite.
THUS I was extremely happy when the new series started to find a whole HEAP of the early episodes seemed to be about Steve and Robin PALLING AROUND. It is, I think, the mark of a GRATE show when you yearn for an episode where Not Much Happens so that you can just enjoy the characters, and the early stages of this series had a whole heap of that. There are so many characters now, and so many storylines, that it was lovely to have such LONG episodes in which they could all toddle on and do their bit for a while. I was almost disappointed when THE SPOOKY STUFF finally started to happen!
When it DID however, it was also done really well. What I love about this show (NB OK ONE of the things I love about this show) is that they BLATANTLY do homages to all sorts of different things, but do it PROPERLY and also in NEW WAYS. You never feel that they're taking the piss out of 80s Horror Films or whatever, and the way that they use the TROPES from them in interesting ways is I RECKON part of how they make the plots so a) confidently what you expect but b) suddenly totally what you didn't. There is a huge chunk of the final episode which, without going into detail, made me go "What? WOT?" and "I did not expect that AT ALL" and also "BUT OF COURSE now it all makes sense!" It was really really good!
It's also got The Kate Bush bits which, as someone who has never really signed for up Kate Bush Love, are BRILLIANT, and some right proper scary monsters, and some fab callbacks to previous storylines and characters, and also, vitally, ACTUAL FUNNY BITS. Unlike, for example, "Men", it does not confuse Being Well Done And Interesting with Being BORING, and there were loads of sections where I LARFED out LOUD.
What I'm saying is that I liked it a LOT and am slightly DISTRAUGHT to realise that the final episodes are out when I'm a) away at a conference and then b) doing a GIG, especially as the latter features numerous other people who will probably have finished it by then. GUYS! NO SPOILERS!
posted 23/6/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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I went to the PICTURES on Saturday to see the film "Men". I'd read a little bit about it and it seemed interesting, but I must admit that I was mostly going because the PREMISE seemed quite similar to a screenplay what I wrote a few years ago called 6 Billion To One in which, to quote the BLURB, "A scientist accidentally creates a nano-virus which makes all humans look identical, except for one woman. She and the scientist must fight their way across an England in chaos to find a cure before the religious cults and corporate armies who rule this new world can stop them." I didn't think the actual STORY of this film would be like mine, but I was quite interested to see how the general idea of most of the parts being played by one person would WORK.
My most recent experience of going to the VUE to see a film had been really good, but this one was a bit more MIXED. When I got to the ticket gate I was told my film wouldn't be "ready" until about 20 minutes after the advertised time, and that I should wait in a HOLDING AREA until then. As it turend out, the film was actually STARTING then, as all films tend to, so when I eventually got to the screen pretty much the whole rest of the audience was already there. It was in one of the tiny SECRET UPSTAIRS ROOMS they have there which are really weird - for instance when I followed the signs for the LOO I found myself in a strange, cavernous backstage area, like a CAR PARK except with big illuminated screen for each of the fire exits from the screens. It was largely populated by lost souls also searching for the loo, and a COMRADERY evolved between us as we quested forth.
I got back JUST as the film was starting, and was immediately put on edge by a load of TALKING. There was a group of teenage girls sat in the row behind me who did not seem to realise how films work i.e. YOU ARE NOT AT HOME. I tried doing a PADDINGTON STARE, but a) that didn't work at all and b) I was horribly conscious that trying to SILENCE YOUNG WOMEN during a film called "Men" was not a good look for me AT ALL. Also, c) as the film went on I had more and more sympathy with their need to have a bit of a chat to pass the time.
For LO! It was Not Very Good At All. It felt less like a MOVIE and much more like a SET TEXT in search of an 'A' LEVEL, especially when it kept going "LOOK! It's THE GREEN MAN! Oooh, and who's this? Sheela Na Gig? WOT DOES THAT MEAN EH?!?" Also it was one of those films that confuse being profound and meditative with being PROFOUNDLY BORING. There were huge long bits where the lead character just LOOKED at things for ages. "Yes yes, it is a TREE/stained glass window/representation of oppression, WE GET IT" I kept thinking. "GET ON WITH IT."
Disappointingly, the whole "Rory Kinnear plays nearly everybody" aspect was pretty much no fun at all. Partly this was because it wasn't meant to be, I guess, but also because, in the nicest possible way, he is not exactly CHAMELEONIC i.e. he looks like Rory Kinnear In A Wig And/Or Bad False Teeth in pretty much every scene. There's one (ONE) bit where they use Special Effects quite cleverly to make him look ACTUALLY different, but for the most part I kept thinking "Is that meant to be a different character, or just the previous one in a silly wig?"
This was especially Not Very Good in the final section which, without spoilers, does sort of rely on all the different MEN being around but instead looks like Just The Same Rory Kinnear Again And Again. It's meant to be HORRIFIC and TERRIFYINGLY WEIRD but after a while of Just The Same Rory Kinnear Again I sympathised with a) the girls chatting behind me and b) the main character, who just wandered off into another room while it was all going on. "Come and get me when this bit's finished", she seemed to be saying, as Intense Body Horror continued to continue, and I for one supported her.
The special effects were quite good, and Jessie Buckley was very good as Not Rory Kinnear (and Rory Kinnear is an EXCELLENT Rory Kinnear in all things), but the whole experience was very much like being harangued by someone who thinks they're the only person to have ever watched the Wicker Man and has had a GRATE idea for a follow-up. OR, as I read in a review today, "like League Of Extraoridinary Gentlemen without the jokes". Basically, I did not like it very much, and YEARNED for some GAGS!
posted 21/6/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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So Much Telly
I've read a few articles lately saying that the current Golden Age Of Telly is coming to an end, as you can no longer get ALL THE TELLY by having Netflix, Prime and a Now TV subscription. In some ways I can see this, as there are loads of Fancy Shows on Apple, HBO etc that I CAN'T watch but to be honest there is SO MUCH GRATE telly on at the moment that I would rather not have the extra hassle of having to watch even more!
I was thinking about this last week as I REELED from the arrival of Ms Marvel on my list of shows to watch, when I ALREADY had Obi Wan Kenobi and Pistol and Night Sky and Missions on the go (as well as the ongoing DELIGHT of Frasier which doesn't really count as New Telly OBVS) and the prospect of TONNES more. "Why are all these shows suddenly coming on, all at the same time, when there have been not many for AGES?" I wondered to myself, foolishly. It took me about a week to realise that maybe, JUST MAYBE, it might be because of that whole PANDEMIC what we had, which probably had as much effect on TELLY MAKING as it did on Me Going Into The Office. "Oh right," I thought. "That'll probably be it."
It has made for EXCITING TIMES for me anyway - I always LOVE the fact that there are all these well-made and exciting science fictions shows on these days, and especially the fact that I can actually WATCH most of them. As I have said previously, when I was but a child such things used to be the sole domain of listings for Thames Television and LWT, while we were stuck with FARMING PROGRAMMES on Anglia, and so I really appreciate being able to access them now. Also, most of them are GRATE.
"Pistol", for instance, was a HUGE amount of fun. I didn't get a whole lot out of the first episode, and considered giving up on it, but then I DID watch the second one and realised that it was basically a follow-up to Birth Of The Beatles. This is one of the all time BEST Rock Biogs, which pretty much set the template for all that followed, with its repetition of All The Famous Stories, loads of Oddly Wigged Actors playing other celebrities, and of course the traditional Sticking Song Titles Into Dialogue. I think it was the bit where Johnny Rotten says to Sid Vicious "We should call you Sid, after my hamster, who is Quite Vicious" and they both go "HANG ON!" that made me love it, but then it goes on to have lots of ace stuff about Being In A Band and also What The 1970s were really like. I loved it!
"Missions" was less good, in that it started off TRES MUCH like a French Blakes 7 in the first series (good story, cheap sets), then became like a French Doctor Who From The 1980s in the second (loads of crazy science fiction ideas that aren't matched by production itself) and then sadly became a French Lost by the end (entirely nonsensical and disappointing).
Still, with those out of the way there was space for MORE shows, so alongside the aforesaid ongoing "Obi Wan Kenobi" (surprisingly good, although maybe that's just because it's not as DULL as "Boba Fett") and "Ms Marvel" (WONDERFUL) I've now got dug into "Stranger Things" series four. I watched the first three series again earlier this year, and was amazed to find that it was even better than I remembered. The BEST bit about it was how GRATE all the characters are - I especially enjoyed the CHARACTER ARC that Steve goes through, and so when a large chunk of the first episode was just him and Robin PALLING AROUND I was very happy indeed. To be honest I would be more than satisfied if that was the whole thing, possibly with Lucas' sister joining in occasionally, so I was mildly disappointed when The Spooky Stuff began. Having said that, I've just watched The Kate Bush episode, which was (SPOILER-FREE REVIEW) bloody brilliant.
And even after all THAT telly I've still got "The Boys" and "Umbrella Academy" and "She-Hulk" and "Only Murders In The Building" lined up, plus getting round to finishing "Night Sky" (which is not QUITE as exciting/funny as the others) and who knows what else. Oh, and the new "Game Of Thrones" of course, and eventualy RTD back on "Doctor Who", and ... well, you get the idea. Truly, there is SO MUCH TELLY!
posted 16/6/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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Development of the new solo album continues APACE, notably this week with a drastic change to the very title itself. Originally I was going to call it "Back To The Office" with the cover being a picture of me sat at a desk in reference to the cover of "Back In The Juge AGANE", but the other day I had a new idea that was a) a bit less BORING than that and b) a lot easier to photograph. ALSO it was somewhat RIDICULOUS, and PRECISELY the sort of thing that I would never be able to get away with usually. Part of the PLAN for this album is to do it all myself without consulting ANYBODY about ANYTHING, thus hopefully making a whole load of idiotic mistakes that would never usually happen, and I feel that the title and image chosen will be a prime example. FEAR NOT, gentle reader, it is nothing AWFUL, but I do think it is quite funny!
Other IDEAS include a GRATE Dance Routine what I have devised for a song about a specific Change Management Methodology, and making stumbling steps towards the realms of TIK TOK which I am going to vaguely try to use to promote it all. These may all take a while to actuall DO but, as I continue to remind myself, the world is not exactly DEMANDING I finish this quickly, so I'm going to take my time!
RECORDING itself has also continued. Last week I got to the stage where there was a DRAFT of every track, and so settled down to try doing some MASTERING. Usually I do this by just sticking tracks into my audio software and pressing COMPRESS, but early attempts weren't coming through hugely satisfactory, so I thought I'd have a go at LEARNING how to do it properly. THUS I downloaded a proper guide which was full of loads of stuff I didn't understand AT ALL, although it did have a couple of really helpful points, notably that you should select a few GUIDE tracks by other acts to listen to in order to work out LOUDNESS and so on. I chose "Kaizen" by Peaness, "Chaise Longue" by Wet Leg and "I Guess I Drifted" by Gavin Osborn. The album doesn't really SOUND like any of these (chance would be a fine thing!) but that's mostly what I'm listening to and LIKING at the moment, so it seemed like something to aim for.
This mostly worked well - apart from GUITARS nearly all of the other instruments have been done via MIDI, so the quality sounded pretty good - until I got to mixing the VOCALS. These sounded rather less good, which I'm sure will come as a terrifying surprise to most. Obviously my SINGING is a thing of joy and wonder, so that couldn't be the problem, and I soon realised that it must be at least partly to do with how it was recorded. I have been using the microphone in my old digital four-track so far, which is not wonderful, and so I've since spent AGES trying to work out how to make it better. Eventually, after wondering about breaking my own RULES and going to an actual STUDIO to record all the vocals, I remembered that I had a tiny condensor microphone that I used to use on my PREVIOUS digital four track to record Totally Acoustic shows. The microphone socket on that device stopped working, which is why I got the new one, but THAT one didn't have "ghost power", which meant the microphone stopped working.
To cut an EXTREMELY LONG and (I think) VERY INTERESTING story short, I spent a couple of hours digging around in my Drawer Of Wires, looking up the above mentioend Ghost Power, mucking around with different leads and sockets, and delving into the hidden mysteries of LATENCY before FINALLY getting to the point where I could use the condenser microphone to record vocals DIRECTLY into my actual laptop. I was hugely delighted by this possibility, and so the next stage of proceedings will be to a) do remixes AGANE of everything without vocals b) attempt to do NEW vocals for everything in this way then c) MIX it and hope it all works this time. As stated previously, nobody is screaming for a release date (although I am sure they will be once these THRILLING DETAILS are UNLEASHED) so i can take my time with it.
I'm also very conscious that it's highly likely nobody will either notice or care about all this - I was reminded of this the other day after about half an hour of worrying about some PIZZICATO VIOLINS in the last ten seconds of one song - but it's a highly enjoyable project for now. I look forward to unleashing the finished product out into the waiting world, maybe even some time this year!
posted 9/6/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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I went to the PICTURES at the weekend to see the film "Everything Everywhere All At Once". It was advertised as being funny and about the multiverse, which is pretty much the dictionary definition of Right Up My Street, and indeed I can confirm that it was so far up my street that it was parked outside my house obstructing access to the pavement.
Before I even got INTO the cinema, however, there was a Delightful Incident. I booked my seat using one of those MACHINES they have nowadays, but got a bit confused about where the FRONT of the cinema was. I like to sit RIGHT near the front when I go on my own, as it means I can stretch my legs and go to the loo whenever I want, so I selected what I thought was the front row but then realised there were more seats, so scrolled up and selected the actual front row instead. I paid and was a bit surprised to find it was a LOT more - DOUBLE in fact - than the advertised "£6.99 any time" but assumed that the "any time" had some caveats and headed for the escalators up to the main bit of the cinema.
I'd just got ON the escalator when a small girl chased after me, waving a piece of paper. "You forgot your ticket!" she said. "Poor sweet foolish child," I thought, "I've got my ticket right here!" Being the DELIGHT what I am, however, I ran back down the escalator towards her and grabbed it, thanking her profusely as I did so. It was only as I ascended the moving staircase that i realised that, hang on, maybe this IS my ticket, and I'd actually pressed the "select seat" twice rather than "move seat". I didn't hold out much hope for sorting it out, but asked on the way into the screens and was directed towards The Manager. She looked a) harassed b) barely into her twenties, but she appraised the situation and then just SORTED it in about 20 seconds. I was AMAZED and DELIGHTED at this Efficient And Entirely Satisfactory Interaction, although she did seem a bit surprised by quite how pleased I was. Well done, Stratford vue Cinema!
The film itself was obviously FAB. Apart from the description at the top I had no idea what it was going to be like, and was a bit disappointed at first that it seemed to be a Normal Film about a family running a laundromat, with only very brief hints of Science Fiction. HOWEVER. That soon began to change, and then it changed A LOT before becoming an UTTERLY GRATE parade of BIG IDEAS and also HUGE FUN. There is one gag in PARTICULAR that at first seemd to be Just A Bit Of Fun, then became an HILARIOUS PARODY, but then paid off MASSIVELY as an Actual Huge Part of the entire film. People who Have Seen The Film: I mean the bit that starts with her hands not working. People Who Have Not Seen the Film: GO AND SEE THE FILM.
I'm not ENTIRELY sure that I've fully got to grips with how the main idea of swapping over universes works, but I don't really mind as SO MUCH of it had SO MUCH in it. There were loads of other excellent gags which, again, kept on going as part of the film, and I don't think I have ever become quite so emotionally involved in two rocks before. Or googly eyes. Or a racoon. Or... oh you get the idea, it is ACE!
As is my WONT, as soon as I got out at the end I looked up the REVIEWS and was surprised to see that The British Press had been a bit down on it. Why I was surprised I do not know - this is the same The British Press who have started EVERY review of ANYTHING even vaguely related to superheroes for the past decade with "It looks like the Marvel bubble is finally bursting" and cry out for "imaginative film making" then give five stars to yet another DULL SOBFEST about Poor People made by Extremely Posh People. It's all a bit dreary, but it surprises me every time. STILL, let's not worry about that for now, as THIS review is giving it ALL THE STARS and advising you heartily to go and see it, as it is GRATE!
posted 8/6/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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Jubilee Vehicular Excitement
On the Bank Holiday myself and The Trains On My Rails travelled into London's fashionable Central London area of London to avail ourselves of some of the Jubilee Excitement. A big chunk of our own excitement was down to the fact that we were going there and back via THE ELIZABETH LINE which was really rather wonderful - a bit like when St Pancras opened, or when The Olympics happened, it is a THING that is a) British but also b) surprisingly really well done. It was also FAST!
We got into town and then strolled to Trafalgar Square, where we found an ENORMOUS crowd of people standing around waiting for things to happen. We were there in this situation for about half an hour, with everybody being incredibly calm, perfectly pleasant, and altogether not how I remember large crowds like this being. There was no shoving or screaming or Beligerent Smoking or anything!
As the half an hour went on I got increasingly Mildly Fed Up. We'd turned up hoping to get there just in time for the RAF flypast, but it seemed to take FOREVER. We used to live RIGHT on the flight path for these, and used to be able to watch it all go over our heads in the back garden when we lived in Leytonstone, and INDEED it goes pretty close to us now, but this was the first time we'd specifically gone into TOWN to see one. As time ticked on I was thinking "Flipping heck, was this worth it?" and then the PLANES went over and COR! was it EVER! They went RIGHT overhead (OBVS as we were just next to The Mall) and were REALLY low, which was particularly impressive when it was the HERCULES, and UTTERLY AMAZING when it was THE LANCASTER BOMBER. There is something about a Lancaster Bomber that brings out the TINY WEE CHILD in me, and I found myself SQUEALING and CLAPPING DELIGHTEDLY.
The whole thing was ACE - I am fully aware of, and fully support, the arguments against a Constitutional Monarchy (e.g. it engrains and celebrates the idea that some people get to have more than everybody else just because of who their parents were) but CRUMBS I don't half enjoy a flypast, especially when a bunch of typhooons ZOOM overhead in a big "70" and especially especially when the Red Arrows turn up. Has there ever been a better way of ending anything EVER than having the Red Arrows zoom overhead? NO. THERE HAS NOT.
After that we wandered through the almost entirely amiable crowd up to the British Museum for a spot of lunch and a look at the Mary Gillick: Modelling The Queen's Portrait exhibition. I am on record as saying I enjoy A Museum Of One Thing and this was very nearly An Exhibition of One Exhibit i.e. a plaster cast made for the first coin with the Queen's head on. It was Quite Interesting, though the way they blithely said that the BIG plaster version was turned into the MOULD for the actual coin by "reduction by mechanical means" left a LOT of questions unanswered and led to a LOT of googling, which in turn eventually led to the wikipedia page about reducing machines.
posted 6/6/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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On Sunday I headed into London's fashionable ISLINGTON area of London, fighting my way past all the people buying Islington Suits to do Islington Lawyering (or whatever is supposed to go on there these days - as far as I could see it was mostly FURNITURE) in order to get to The Bill Murray pub for an ACTUAL GIG!
For LO! Mr G Osborn was playing, and I rolled up in SUCH good time that I was there before everybody apart from the bar staff, who had just opened up. Gav rolled up shortly after, along with tour buddy Gecko, and then about A HUNDRED MILLION other people (approx), roughly (roughly) 40% of whom I knew. I was fully expecting to see Mr M Tiller and Mr S Hewitt as we'd pre-arranged, but then there was a FLOOD of Totally Acoustic regulars, pals of old and even Harry From The MA in the end, which was all a bit overwhelming. It was BLOODY BRILLIANT, obvs, as most of these people I had not seen for TWO YEARS, and also GRATE to find out what everyone was up to, but it is a long old time since I was in an environment where people COULD just turn up, and actually DID. It felt like... old times?
The gig itself was fab - as mentioned before Gav's album is EXCELLENT, and having done some REVISION beforehand I now find myself singing them all the time. "I guess I drifted" is the current FAVE, for instance, but it is all GRATE.
Afterwards we did the traditional business of wandering down to the pub for CHAT and AGANE it all felt weirdly NOVEL but also FAMILIAR. We used to do this all the time, and it was lovely to do it again now. It was less lovely staggering home and being convinced I had COVID the next day (symptoms: dry mouth, bubbly tummy, bad head - WHAT CAN IT MEAN?) but otherwise it was rather wonderful to be back!
posted 1/6/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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Over the course of the last six years or so, whilst doing THE PHD, I have struggled with what to CALL one of the key ASPECTS of it. It's to do with what makes Doctor Doom (or whatever character you're talking about) Doctor Doom (or whatever character you're talking about), and I've always ended up saying "the Doctor Doom-ness of Doctor Doom" (or whatever... you get the idea). People generally tend to GET this, but it never feels particularly elegant, and I have long wished to sort it out, preferably via a FANCY WORD. Academics LOVE fancy words, and I wanted to GET one.
The problem was always that I didn't KNOW one, but then the other day I realised I had a vast well of RESOURCE which I could use i.e. BRAINY people on Facebook! Over the past few months I have asked a few questions using this method, and have been delighted to discover that I know LOADS of people a) with MIGHTY BRANES b) who are very happy to help, and so I put it to them: "WOT", I enquired, "is a good word for this?"
Good golly, but I was not prepared for the influx of BRANES which ensued. Lots of great ideas came forth, which tended to fall into a number of CAMPS. The first were words around the idea of the "essence" of a character - the things which quintessentially make them THEM. This may sound like exactly what I'm on about, and certainly fitted with how I phrased the question, but to my understanding they sounded like ESSENTIAL things that only that character could have, and without them would not BE that character. That doesn't quite fit with what I'm after because the Doctor Doom-ness of Doctor Doom is NOT exclusive to him (or to one version of him) nor does he HAVE to have all those aspects to BE a Doctor Doom. Lots of characters have a green cape for example without being Doctor Doom, and there are Doctor Dooms which have a slightly DIFFERENT coloured cape but are still him. Similarly, when I ran my survey, most people thought that it was essential for Doctor Doom to hate Reed Richards, but when I looked at the actual TEXTS there were several versions of Doom where Reed Richards doesn't even EXIST, and yet he was still clearly Doctor Doom.
Crikey, I have written "Doctor Doom" a lot of times there - you can see why I wanted to find a terminology that didn't have his name in it ! The next category were SPIRITUAL terms which were a bit more like it, but also slightly too QUALITATIVE, in that they were BROADER than I needed and tended to become more about who one specific individual was, rather than the big old bunch of different yet RELATED versions of the same character that I was after.
None of these MIGHTY THORTS were in any way WRONG, by the way, and I was DELIGHTED that so many people came up with so many GRATE ideas, but there was one clear winner amongst all of them that fitted my requirements precisely, and that was "Haecceity". This was suggested by my old pal Mr C Lawson, and wins because a) it is GREEK and therefore FANCY and b) it directly translates as "THIS-NESS", which is bloody perfect. Not only do phrases like "The Haeccity of Doctor Doom" (almost) literally translate as meaning "The Doctor Doom-ness of Doctor Doom" and similarly "The Haeccity of Lara Croft" as "The Lara Croft-ness of Lara Croft" but it ALSO sounds hilariously (NB to me anyway) MADE UP, as if some Ancient Greek BRANE went "Oh sod it, let's just call it "THIS-NESS" and knock off early for the day.
THUS anyone who attends any of my upcoming Conference Presentations can expect me to be saying "Haecceity" (pronounced, I think, as "Heck SEA At Ee") an LOT. INDEED I expect this to become something that people EXPECT from me, and if I DON'T do it it will become odd, TO THE EXTENT that LO! it becomes part of my own HAECCEITY! What a GRATE word!
posted 27/5/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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Last weekend I went once more the the British Museum, on my own this time, to see their new The World Of Stonehenge exhibition. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: it was Quite Good.
It took me flipping AGES to get into the musuem, as there was a MASSIVE queue outside to get your bags checked. Years ago, when I worked around the corner from the BM, you could just wander in, and I spent many happy lunch hours visiting exhibits within or sometimes just sitting and having my lunch in the courtyard out front, but it is Very Different now. There were two queues - one for people who'd bought a ticket for something (e.g. me) and one for people who'd just rolled up. I quickly realised that a) my queue was taking AGES and b) behind me were two people with no bloody idea about personal space. They were the sort of people who think it's FINE to stand so close to you that you can hear their stomach rumbling. I tried the thing of Not Moving Forward when the queue ahead did, and even gently backing INTO them to try and get them to shift backwards, but invariably I'd have to move forward a bit every couple of minutes and they'd be right back in my NECK NAPE. THUS I switched lanes and REVELLED in the fact that I got in AGES before them. HA! Also: TOP TIP for the future!
Once I got through the queue I was directed to a Special Counter, where I thought they were going to quiz me further on the contents of my bag, or ask the reasons for my visit. Instead they were HUSTLING me for CA$H, doing the thing where they make it sound very much like you HAVE to pay to get in, so get confused tourists to make a "donation". "Would you like to give to the British Museum today?" they asked. "NO THANKS!" I said in as jolly a way as was feasible. I did not feel bad about this because a) I pay THE TAXES b) I also paid for a TICKET and c) most of all, once I finally got into the building I bought a small vegan donot and a can of drink which cost roughly A MILLION POUNDS so felt as if I had done my bit!
Anyway, I then went into the exhibition, which was BUSY. VERY busy - I don't think I have been in a room QUITE so full of people since before COVID. It also seemed to be full of EXPERTS as everywhere I turned there was somebody Explaining Things to somebody else, who would then often reply by Explaining The Same Thing back to them. They must have been experts because everything they were all explaining to each other extactly matched what was written in BIG LETTERS on the description boards behind them!
Luckily for me this was not my first RODEO/big exhibition, so I knew what to do - I simply strode purposefully through the first area into the next bit, where people had spread out a bit and had got bored of explaining things to each other. It was still busy though, so I skipped several large chunks until I got to the end, and then went back to the start again - it was getting close to closing time by now, so by this time it had cleared a little and I was able to get a good old LOOK at most stuff.
What I saw was QUITE INTERESTING. As with my previous visit the title of the exhibition was a little misleading, as there was an awful lot of stuff there that was nothing at all to do with Stonehenge. Actually, a surprisingly large amount of it was from PETERBOROUGH or thereabouts! It was more about the TIME that the various iterations of Stonehenge were built in, so I SUPPOSE that the fact it's called "The World Of Stonehenge" is just about excusable. I guess I was somehow expecting there to be some BITS of Actual Stonehenge there!
The really cool thing they did have was a big chunk of Seahenge which was pretty amazing - it was like something from a SPOOKY MOVIE, especially the idea of having an upturned tree in the middle, with its ROOTS splaying out. That was worth the admission on its own, to be honest, but then there were some STUNNING and STUNNINGLY OLD artefacts all the way through which were dead interesting. Also, the THEME of it - which took me a while to GET as I was hopping back and forth - was the way that human civilisation (or at least the bit of it happening in Northern Europe) changed pretty quickly from hunter gatherers to farms to the begins of societies, with stone axes at the beginning and PROPER SWORDS and ARMOUR at the end.
As i say, it was pretty good, although as per I did wonder why Archeologists and Historians are always so completely OBSESSED with EVERYTHING being religious. Reading the boards it seemed like every single thing these ancestors ever did was TOTALLY to do with religion. "We found these broken pots, which would have been buried here AS AN OFFERING", "this sword was buried FOR A CEREMONY", this person was placed like this FOR RELIGIOUS SIGNIFICANCE" etc etc etc. I mean, all right, there might have been a BIT of this, but surely SOMETIMES pots are dropped in a trench by ACCIDENT? Are FUTURE HISTORIANS from SPACE going to fall upon our rubbish tips and be convinced they were grand cathedrals of offerings? "SEE how early HUMANOIDS would ritually BURN A CAR as an offering to their Gods, possibly hoping for an easing of ROAD TAX!"
As I left there was still time to have a quick look at something else before proper closing time, so like a FOOL I went and looked at some Ancient Greek stuff. This was a mistake, as it reminded me that while MY ancestors were tooling around with stone axes and being very pleased with themselves for drawing a very rough CIRCLE, the Ancient Greeks were merrily drinking WINE out of PAINTED AMPHORA and whooping it up with POETRY. Come on, Ancient Peterborians, get your act together!
posted 25/5/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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I reached at ROCK MILESTONE over the weekend, as I finished the first drafts of the whole new album! By this I mean, I had got a MIX of every single song done, ready for re-listening, re-mixing, and almost inevitably some re-RECORDING also.
There's still a little way to go before I'm ready to UNLEASH it onto an unsuspecting world, but it did feel good to have got this far. There's fourteen tracks at the moment - I says "tracks" because one of them isn't really a song at all - but the final ITEM may have less. Or possibly more. For some reason the story of BLUR recording "Modern Life Is Rubbish" has always RESONATED with me i.e. their record label rejected the first version and sent them back to record a couple more hits (which turned out to be "Chemical World" and "For Tomorrow") so I always imagine my record label (ME) listening to whatever album I have done and saying "No ME, you must got back and write two more HITS!" Unlike Blur, however, I do not have access to Producers or Free Studio Time and so largely cannot be arsed, invoking the right of THE ARTISTE (also me) to follow their instincts, but I always think it would be nice to actually DO this.
I guess I'll see what happens at the end of the NEXT stage, which is to do SECOND mixes of THE LOT then stick it all together into a vague tracklist and work out if anything needs to be dropped and/or added and/or created from scratch. I've used up nearly ALL the spare songs I had lying around - certainly the ones that are any good anyway - so it would be nice if I didn't actually NEED to go Full Dave Balfe on myself, but part of the OVERRIDING SCHEME for this album is that I'm not planning any dates until I'm totally ready. MANY MANY times in the past we have scheduled GIGS and all sorts around a putative release date, only to have to either a) RUSH everything to actually hit the deadline or b) do gigs WITHOUT the promised album available. I keep reminding myself that nobody is exactly CLAMOURING for this,so there's no need to RUSH - the Universe has gone (checks discography) ELEVEN YEARS without an MJ Hibbett solo album and SIX without a Validators one too, so I'm sure it can wait a few more months.
Having said that, I've just realised that in the six years since I or we last released an album we've had Brexit, Trump, Boris Johnson and Covid. I mean, I'm not saying all that was BECAUSE of the lack of my/our unique brand of ROCK, but you never know do you? Quick! TO THE PRESSING PLANT!
posted 24/5/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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Last week I went to the pictures with my delightful old chum Mr S Carter to see "Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness". It was good!
The film had been out for a few weeks at this point so we had been both been doing our best to avoid spoilers. This mostly involved not looking at ANY geeky websites, as they have a terrible tendency to spoil things massively while pretending not to e.g. when they say "What THOSE exciting (objects/cameos/other) really mean!" etc etc which tells you there ARE exciting (objects/cameos/other) in the film, or ESPECIALLY when they stick in walloping great pictures of aforesaid (objects/cameos/other). I had been doing quite well until - INFURIATINGLY - they day before we went a Sponsored Advert showed up on Facebook with a BLOODY PHOTOGRAPH of the really REALLY big exciting (objects/cameos/other) in this particular film, intended as a "joke". All I'm saying is, if I was EVER tempted to read "The Collider" I would definitely NOT be doing so now. Take THAT, M Zuckerberg and your stupid algorithm!
ANYWAY apart from that I had not much idea what was going to be in the film, and as it turned out the (objects/cameos/other) bit wasn't hugely important anyway, although it DID lead to some excited GIGGLING from me and Steve as various WORDS and PHRASES were spoken aloud. The actual film itself was quite good for the first bit, then a bit of a mess in the second (where all sorts of THINGS just seemed to HAPPEN, one after the other without much reason), but then BLOODY GRATE in the final section. The BIG FITE at the end was PARTICULARLY crazy and FAR-OUT and I really liked it!
I also liked the way it USED loads and loads of comics stuff but in different an INTERESTING ways, like... well,some of the above words and phrases which we both went "OO!" at. It's really weird with this whole PHASE of the Marvel movies - for phases 1 to 3 there was a clear PLAN underway, but as we discussed on our way out, this time there doesn't seem to be. Does that mean there isn't? Or is there going to be some SUPER AMAZING thing that will turn out to have been there all along? I don't know, and that is IN ITSELF quite exciting - this whole long form multi-movie/telly/transmeida type of storytelling is a whole new thing that Marvel are doing, and I must say I am VERY much enjoying being along for the ride!
I ALSO really enjoyed the fact that Dave Thorpe was thanked in the titles, along with all the other comics people whose stories and inventions had been re-used in the film. Dave Thorpe was the original writer for Marvel UK's Captain Britain strip approx 100,000,000 years ago when it appeared in "The Mighty World Of Marvel", and it was here that the designation "616" was first used for the core Marvel universe in comics. For many years it was assumed that Alan Moore invented it when he took the series over, but nowadays the general consensus is that Dave Thorpe had come up with it but it was an Alan Moore script where it first appeared. Either way, it was AMAZING to see his name pop up alongside lots of MUCH more famous comics creators, and realise that something I bought in the newsagent in Millfield in Peterborough, while my Nan was picking up her copy of "The Weekly News", would one day form a part of one of the biggest movies of the year. All right, back then I probably would have thought "Of course - Captain Britain is THE BEST story ever, and The Fury is THE BEST baddy ever, clearly People Of The Future have their heads screwed on right", but who knows? Maybe a proper adaptation of that story is coming in Phase 5, 6 or 7? If it is, I shall be at the front of the queue, armed with a ticket and FULL EXPLANATION in case anybody asks!
posted 23/5/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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I had a very CREATIVELY REWARDING day on Wednesday, all because I couldn't be bothered with going for a walk in the rain. Instead of having my Lunchtime Stroll I went to the shops, and on the way out was WAYLAID by somebody who decided the best place to stop for a chat was IN THE DOORWAY.
This sort of thing winds me RIGHT up - as human beings we have entire LIFETIMES worth of experience of What A Door Is For And How It Works, so why oh why oh why do some PILLOCKS think that they can also be used for Just Standing In, notably when other people (e.g. me) are trying to use them for their primary purpose i.e. MOVING THROUGH? It's even worse when, as happens OFTEN at my work what is an Art College, you get people thinking outside the box in an attempt to entirely reimagine the uses of doorways by SITTING IN THEM. I am pretty sure that there is not a court in the land that would convict me of anything more than General Good Citizenship if I went on a RAMPAGE when faced with this, but my general tendency is to remain calm and GLARE at the perpetrator.
Anyway, that happened and it made my BRANE go through all my usual THORTS on the matter, some of which are featured above. Usually that would be the end of the matter, but this time it combined with the fact that I am working on a SOLO album. It's going quite well at the moment - I'd got TEN (10) songs done to First Draft stage with another TWO (2) just started - and my mind had turned to what ELSE I could have a go at. These 12 were the original dozen I'd intended to record, but all the way through I've thought it'd be nice to have a couple of EXTRAS as I'm planning to do a couple of SINGLES (NB digital ones, OBVS) and it's always handy to have something for a b-side. THUS I thought to myself "Maybe I could write a song about it?"
By the time I got home I had pretty much worked out the entire structure and over the course of the afternoon I kept going back to it, FINESSING lines and rhymes and so on until I had the whole thing pretty much sorted out. After work I got out the ACOUSTIC AXE in order to do a KIND OF demo. My THORT was that I'd record something Quite Rough in The Acoustical Style and then pretend it was an old track what I had found to SAMPLE. I imagined myself crafting a BANGING HOUSE TUNE and gently laying this song o'er the top of it. It was a great plan, with the only flaw being that I have absolutely no idea whatsoever how to make a BANGING HOUSE TUNE, and also that I probably wouldn't enjoy it if I did.
This was all happily resolved by me ending up enjoying the "original" guitar-y version and deciding to stick with that, and so by 6.30pm I had recorded and MIXED the whole thing. As with all of the tracks I'm doing for this album, the current idea is to get THE LOT done to a certain standard, then go back and listen again to see how they sound once freed from PROXIMITY before doing any extra overdubs and remixes. I must say though, I think THIS one (which ended up being called "People Who Stand In The Door" for MAXIMUM clarity) is pretty much DONE, which means it was basically FOUR HOURS from first thought to final MEISTERWERK. I wish the others had been that easy, if they had I'd already be hassling you to buy the album!
posted 13/5/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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