Opher Goodwin – Books for Sale – Beat the Christmas rush!


Yes there is still time to buy a loved one or yourself a special Christmas present – an Opher book. Unique and different. Why not take a punt?

They are available on Amazon.

Here is the UK link:


Try a good Sci-fi novel :

Or a great book on Rock music:

Or perhaps you are as concerned about the environment as me:

Or you like anecdotes from a life in education:

There’s twenty eight to chose from!


Woody – a tribute to Woody Guthrie.



‘This machine kills fascists.’

So clever. How did you think of that?

There’s not many men that done the things that you’ve done. Bob Dylan said that about you.

I was only a kid when you died in 1967 – just eighteen years old and you were just fifty five. But I was already besotted with a lot of your work. I had a whole bunch of your records that I played incessantly. That was the year that I bought your autobiography Bound For Glory.

We couldn’t have been much more different could we? – Separated by the best part of forty years, an ocean and a world of experience.

You were born in Okema Oklahoma and I was born in Surrey England. We did not have wide open plains, tornados, Indian reservations, black slaves or rattle snakes in Walton on Thames. We did not have guns, dust storms or dusty old hobos who rode the blinds. There were no lynchings, shootings or crooked Southern politicians who solved problems with their fists or bosses who employed vigilantes to get their own way. Walton was very provincial and English. Yet Woody – your songs still spoke to me. You painted the pictures in my mind. I lived it through you.

My family was pretty ordinary too. None of them were burnt to death, or died of madness or ran for office. My father wasn’t involved in lynchings, or dubious property deals and he did not join the Ku Klux Klan.

Our worlds could not have been more different could they? But I could still relate to what you said and I did.

You were a one off.

What made you that way Woody?

How come you were brought up in a prosperous conservative family, full of racism and violence, and you developed the mind-set you had? Where did you get your sensibilities from?

What made you so special?

You took up the guitar and set about entertaining people with your songs. You busked around the country, painted signs, carried out odd-jobs, and ran a radio show.

You rambled, lived rough and rode the trains with the poor, the down-and-outs and blacks, tramped round the country, playing to the strikers and disenfranchised, and you believed in a better world. What made you such an optimist?

How come you weren’t a racist like all the others? Where did that compassion come from? What made you believe in fairness? It seems to me that there was something special inside you. You couldn’t turn a blind eye or ignore what was going on. You were forced to do something about it and fight for what you believed. You seemed to believe it more strongly than anybody else.

It seems to me that you kept your vision simple. You believed in justice, freedom and equality. The rest followed on from there. You were a communist and pluralist because of equality. You took people as you found them regardless of the colour of their skin. Back then both those beliefs were dangerous. But they didn’t faze you, did they Woody? Where-ever there was injustice you were the first to speak up, to write songs and put your body on the line on the pickets. You fought racism and championed the underdog. You were a union man because you saw that as the only way to put a stop to the exploitation of working people.

Woody – you were a one-man political organisation, a social dynamo, a fearless radical. Compromise was not in your language, was it?

You did not court popularity did you?

You took up social issues, like the dust bowl refugees, and put forward their case for justice.

The compassion and fury poured forth from your guitar.

You loved life, nature and women. You were never happier than when outside, under the sky, with the sun, stars and mountains. I could feel that in your song This Land Is Your Land.

But you also had a dream. You could see a better world a coming. You saw science providing the answers. Electricity from the hydroelectric would turn deserts into fertile land. There would be a land of plenty in which all men and women would prosper.

All we had to do was defeat fascism.

Which brings me back to that slogan – this machine kills fascists.

It taught me a valuable lesson. You don’t defeat fascism, hatred and exploitation with violence. You defeat it with love, reason and music. A guitar is a machine that can reach into peoples’ hearts and change them. A guitar is better than a rifle. Songs are better than bullets. Words can kill fascism. Ideas hold great power. Your words still move me.

We might have been born worlds apart but I’m joined to you like I was your twin.

I just wanted to say thank you Woody.

Rolling Stones – Gimme Shelter – a song about the violence and unpredictability of life.

Rolling Stones – Gimme Shelter – a song about the violence and unpredictability of life.

There is nothing predictable. Violence is all around us. One minute you’re safe and the next minute you’re caught up in the midst of it.

Yesterday a group of people were on holiday in Tunisia, soaking up the sun on the beach, bathing in the sea. The next minute a crazed religious fanatic is spraying them with machine gun fire.

One minute you’re sitting in your living room and the next someone breaks in and robs, kills or rapes you.

One minute you live in a country that is at peace with the world and the next you’re thrown into the turmoil of war.

We’re a vicious species. Nowhere is safe. It’s all just a shot away.

“Gimme Shelter”

Oh, a storm is threat’ning
My very life today
If I don’t get some shelter
Oh yeah, I’m gonna fade away
War, children, it’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
War, children, it’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
Ooh, see the fire is sweepin’
Our very street today
Burns like a red coal carpet
Mad bull lost your way
War, children, it’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
War, children, it’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
Rape, murder!
It’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
Rape, murder!
It’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
Rape, murder!
It’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
The floods is threat’ning
My very life today
Gimme, gimme shelter
Or I’m gonna fade away
War, children, it’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
I tell you love, sister, it’s just a kiss away
It’s just a kiss away
It’s just a kiss away
It’s just a kiss away
It’s just a kiss away
Kiss away, kiss away

More about Opher’s World

More about Opher’s World

You will find lots of life, sex, love and ideas in this blog – (Ideas such as – there is no god, no purpose, no great scheme, no after-life – we need to look after our world – we have too many people – overpopulation is threatening our existence – Rock Music addresses social ills – inequality is at the heart of all the evils) – but I do not set out to be offensive, merely to argue my passionately held point of view.

This blog is a celebration of Life – not Death.

What is obscene is not sex.

Obscenity is:
– The destruction of the environment
– War
– The indoctrination of children
– Overpopulation
– Cynical exploitation
– Cruelty to animals and people
– Grotesque disparity of wealth
– Deforestation
– Fanaticism in politics and religion
– Pollution

These are the things I stand against.
These are the obscenities.


I want to address the world’s problems and look for a positive way forward.

I want a positive Zeitgeist

Excerpt from my book – ‘Rock Routes’ to show the standard of writing and style.

Excerpt from my book – ‘Rock Routes’ to show the standard of writing and style.

If you like Rock Music you’ll love this!

New Wave and the Stiff Label

The Stiff label was the home of the largest stable of New Wave artists in Britain. It was a small independent label set up by Jake Riviera and Dave Robinson in 1976 with a £400 loan from Lee Brilleaux of Dr Feelgood. Its premise was to sign up the reservoir of talent neglected by the major labels, give them a good production inspired by the Punk bands, and try to make a success out of it. They claimed they were ‘Undertakers to the industry – if they’re dead – we’ll sign ‘em’.
They became famous and successful for two reasons. Firstly there was the reputation they got for discovering great talent – Ian Dury, Elvis Costello, Wreckless Eric and Madness etc. Secondly there were the brilliant publicity campaigns including the notorious ‘If it ain’t Stiff it ain’t worth a Fuck!’ buttons.
By the end of 1980 they had a £3,500,000 turnover.
The idea for the label was almost entirely Jakes. He had thought it up in 1975 when he was tour manager for Dr Feelgood on their big US Tour. He had noticed that each town seemed to have its own independent label that promoted local talent and got it aired on local radio. If an act was successful locally it then got picked up by the big national companies. By the end of his tour he had formed his own idea of a similar independent label in Britain. He had worked out the logistics and already thought up a number of the publicity stunts that were to capture the public’s attention. All he required was someone with a little experience and money to get it off the ground. He found that man in Dave Robinson.
Dave Robinson had started out as tour manager for Jimi Hendrix in the 1960s. He went on to form the ill-fated Fame pushers promotion company who crashed after their over-hype of Brinsley Swartz. After the collapse of this venture Dave set about creating a studio and recording local talent from the London club scene. He discovered Graham Parker & the Rumour and became so impressed with them that he took over their management. By the time Jake happened upon him he had built up a vast knowledge of local talent and was in a good position, having already recorded most of them, to advise Jake on who was available, what they were like, what their potential was and who to contact.
At the time the London Pub scene was thundering along with the Pub Rock groups – Brinsley Swartz, Dr Feelgood, Chilli-Willi, Graham Parker & Rumours, Eddie & Hotrods and Kilburn & the Highroad. They were exciting and talented but almost completely passed over by the major companies.
Dave and Jake got together and compiled a list of artists that they considered neglected and set about forming a label to promote them. They aptly called it the Stiff label.
Their aim was laudable.
They set out with the intention of treating people as people and not products; to try to show a profit on each release; to avoid paying huge advances that could not be recouped; to promote their artists, give them favourable production, and record them when they were at their peak, It was to pay off. In six years they had released 150 singles and 30% of them had made the charts.
The early work of the label featured a range of work and artists including old-timers like the Pink Fairies and Dave Edmunds, heavy sounds like New Wave Hard Rockers Motorhead, pub rockers recycled such as Ian Dury from Kilburn & the Highroads, Graham Parker & the Rumour, Wreckless Eric, Two-Tone Ska with Madness and newcomers like Elvis Costello, Wreckless Eric, Kirsty McColl and Lene Lovitch, along with a lot of old-timers such as Larry Wallis, Magic Michael, Nick Lowe, Jona Lewie and Mickey Jupp, and US imports such as Rachel Sweet.
At first the label was a small concern with the first singles being released by mail order or off the back of Lorries with only a few independent outlets. But their wise choice of acts soon brought them to attention and they handed over their distribution to Island Records in 1977. It had hit just right – emerging with the rise of Punk. Although none of the acts were strictly Punk they all fed off the energy that was generated by it. It reflected in their production techniques. A good New Wave sound was produced that was more than acceptable to the kids despite the age of some of the artists.
An essential part of the Stiff promotion, apart from the slogans, buttons and T-shirts, was the tremendous Stiff Tours. These ran along the lines of the old package tours of the 1960s. They put all the artists on a bus and set off round the country. The 1977 tour had the amazing line-up of Ian Dury, Elvis Costello, Wreckless Eric, Nick Lowe and Larry Wallis. Apart from the sheer strength of the acts was the importance of the family feeling generated between the bands. It was a feeling that manifested itself to the audiences. There was a great camaraderie between the groups, not only did they travel on the same bus, but stayed in the same hotels, shared the P.A.s, had the same length sets, alternated the billing from night to night and ended the night by jamming together. It was to prove incredibly successful catapulting Ian Dury and Elvis Costello to super-stardom and establishing all the others. It was followed in 1978 with another successful tour featuring Lene Lovitch, Wreckless Eric, Rachel Sweet, Jona Lewie and Mickey Jupp. However a similar type of tour in 1980 – called the Son of Stiff Tour – failed to achieve the same standard of acts or degree of success.
The label survived its first crisis in 1978 when Jake left to form his own Radar Record Label taking Elvis Costello, Yachts and record producer and artist Nick Lowe with him. The label bounced back with Madness, Ian Dury and the Belle Stars and the hits continued.
Stiff will be remembered for the adventurous music it has produced with novel arrangements on numbers such as ‘Lucky Number’ by Lene Lovitch and ‘Sex and Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll’ by Ian Dury.
Ian Dury had been crippled by polio at the age of seven and ended up in an institution for severely handicapped children, an experience that was to traumatise him. His personality carried him through art school and teaching as well as performing with Kilburn & the Highroad. The Kilburns went on to become one of the top Pub Rock bands. They broke up in 1976 and Ian and Chas Jankel took a year off to work on ideas. They signed to Stiff in 1977 and their first release was ‘Sex and Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll’ which set the pace. It was a step up from anything with the Kilburns and the production was in a different class. It would have been a hit, despite lack of airplay, except that the fact that Stiff had not pressed enough copies. Success came following the first Stiff tour where audiences were won over to his highly original stage act. He used a lot of theatrical props, producing lots of scarves from various pockets like a conjuror, chains, jujus and assorted clothing and paraphernalia. He had shaved his head and used manic stares and gestures. It was a Chaplinesque routine tinged with vaudeville, clowning and theatre, all backed up with a highly proficient funky Rock band. His songs and lyrics were unique. The single ‘Sweet Gene Vincent’, a homage to his idol Gene Vincent who also had a gammy leg, just failed to take off but ‘What a waste’ hit the charts and ‘Hit me with your rhythm stick’ got to number one. The album ‘New Boots and Panties’ was one of the classic albums of that era. Many of his songs were cockney based sex ditties but others were perceptive insights and idealistic wishes. Together they created a lexicon of quality and originality both in lyric and sound.
Elvis Costello was the other major new talent discovered by the label. His real name was Declan Patrick Macmanus. He holds the distinction of being one of the very first acts to be signed by the label in 1976. That came about when he turned up at the label’s office with a demo and his talents were instantly recognised. His strengths lay in the novel arrangements of his songs coupled with his distinctive vocals and imaginative lyrics. He released a number of singles ‘Less than zero’, ‘Alison’ and ‘The angels want to wear my red shoes’ without success. Then he scored with the album ‘My aim is true’. Following the success of that album and the media attention lavished on the Stiff tour he hit the charts with ‘Watching the detectives’. His diminutive size and Buddy Holly looks became a household fixture. He left Stiff with Jake Riviera and proceeded to have a number of big hits with ‘(I don’t want to go to) Chelsea’, ‘Pump it up’ and ‘Oliver’s Army’. He tried his hand at production with the Specials first album. Since then he has broken America, set up his own label and recorded albums in a range of styles including Country.
Of the other Stiff artists many of them had successful singles and albums but none were as unlucky as Wreckless Eric. Despite a string of brilliantly original songs – ‘Whole wide world’, ‘Pop song’, ‘Semaphore message from the graveyard’, and ‘Reconnez Cherie’ – failed to establish himself and take off into a long term success. Even so his nasally tinged Hull accent and crazy stage act has made him a cult figure with a big following. Besides it is impossible to imagine anyone like Eric becoming a super-star.
Mickey Jupp came out of the Southend Rock scene in 1963 in the Orioles and then Legend before emerging on Stiff for a short run with a ten piece band and then disappearing again.
Jona Lewie, who has a Bsc in Sociology, went out to the USA in the 1960s and played with many of the old Blues singers such as Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup. On returning to England he played with Brett Marvin and the Thunderbolts and then had a minor hit with ‘Seaside Shuffle’ under the name Terry Dactyl & the Dinosaurs. He joined Stiff in 1978 and immediately had hits with ‘In the Kitchen at parties’ and ‘Stop the cavalry’.
Lene Lovitch was born in the USA with the name of Mariene Premilovich. They moved to Hull and she grew up in Hull where she had the distinction of going to school with Sue Goodall. At eighteen she moved to London and tried to get involved with the theatre but ended up busking and Go-Go Dancing. She joined Stiff in 1977 following an introduction from Charlie Gillet and hit with ‘Lucky Number’ and ‘Say when’. On tour she impressed with her elaborate costumes, weird hairstyles, theatrical movements and distinctive vocal style. She then toured on the continent and returned to find the weird theatrical niche she had occupied taken over by the likes of Toyah, Hazel O’Connor and Kate Bush.
Kirsty MacColl was the daughter of the Folk singer Ewan. She left a couple of times and returned and had a number of hits as well as writing songs for Tracey Ullman and doing a lot of backing vocals. She went on to have more success with Polydor. She was tragically killed in a boating accident in Mexico.
Rachel Sweet was born in Akron Ohio and entered Show-Biz at the age of eight when she starred in a commercial. She went on to record a minor Country hit when she was twelve and while she was still a young girl, dragging her Mum round as chaperone, she signed to Stiff and straight away set off on the British tour following that up with the hit ‘B-A-B-Y’.
Nick Lowe started out in the 1960s with Kippington Lodge and then Brinsley Schwartz, which although it failed as a Progressive Rock Band did well as a Pub Rock band. He split from them in 1975 and joined Stiff as both a recording producer and artist. He has the distinction of recording Stiff’s first single ‘So it goes’. Nick also produced records by non-Stiff artists such as Dr Feelgood and Graham Parker & the Rumour. He left Stiff with Jake in 1977 to set up Radar Records and had success with ‘Breaking Glass’.
Stiff records had an exuberance and energy about them. It was a rougher sound with more artistic licence and clear sound production. Like most independent labels it allowed a more radical approach to music and a greater degree of individuality through not censoring or restricting extremes. At times this approach can come across as amateurish but this is compensated for by the energy and commitment of the performance. The ‘feel’ of the label comes across on the ‘Be Stiff’ album. Every artist produced their own version of the Devo number ‘Be Stiff’ in their own individual style.
Whenever there is a boom in independent labels there is a burst of creativity as the undiscovered grassroots find expression and their ideas are allowed to develop rather than being stifled in the middle-of-the-road, ultra-safe policies of the major record labels that prevents individuality and ends up with a bland product.
Stiff were not the only source of British New Wave music but they dominated the market.
The retrospective box set of Stiff records was very interesting. The first disc is vibrant and as you progress you can almost feel the energy drain away. You don’t play the fourth disc.

In Search of Captain Beefheart – seems to be my most popular book on Rock Music

In Search of Captain Beefheart – seems to be my most popular book on Rock Music – It’s a memoir about my life in Rock Music searching for the excitement and brilliance – From Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Roy Harper to Jimi Hendrix and White Stripes. It’s a journey.

This is a memoir that takes you from my early days, first singles of Rock ‘n’ Roll, through my experience at live concerts and festivals in the sixties to the present day. It’s full of photos and reminiscences as I set out on the search for the holy grail of Rock.

I got to see and meet a lot of the best. It’s all in here. Here’s some reviews:

‘Rock music lovers and anyone who has lived through the sixties and seventies will LOVE this book!’

‘One man’s journey to find his “religion” which arrives through his “prophets” Roy Harper & Captain Beefheart & his Magic Band. Disjointed/anarchic depending on your viewpoint but readable with some good photos. This man is obsessive about his rock music.’

‘The title is a little misleading; as it is not a book about Beefheart , but rather an account of growing up through the 60s and 70s in Britain. For people like myself 60+ year’s of age and like the author, a keen collector of records and tapes, this book will have a deep resonance. It was like living my early years of music all over again, as Mr. Goodwin kept mentioning the recording artists that I knew.
An enjoyable read, made for the coach, train, or ‘plane trip.’

If you love Rock Music you’ll find this fascinating.

In the UK:

In the USA:

In India:

Rock Music – Big Band Jump Blues and R and B Shouters

Rock Music – Big Band Jump Blues & R & B Shouters


This is an extract from my book. It is a book that is comprehensive and titillating. You won’t find anything like it anywhere else.

Big Band Jump Blues & R & B Shouters


This was another branch of R & B that gave rise to another style of early Rock ‘n’ Roll. It reached it’s peak between 1945-56 and fed into mainstream Rock ‘n’ Roll, influencing Elvis Presley and Bill Haley.

This Big Band sound evolved out of the big Jazz Bands of the 1940s. These combos set about adding an R&B beat and merging it with Boogie Woogie and Swing. It was a wide diverse style. At one end of the scale there was the swinging freeform Be-Bop of Charlie ‘The Bird’ Parker and other luminaries of Jack Kerouac’s 1950s Beat Jazz era. At the other end there was the Blues Shouting of Wyonie Harris and Roy Brown.

The music was ‘Good Time’ music and one of the first forms of R&B to prove commercially successful with white audiences.

The whole scene was dominated by ‘larger than life’ colourful characters – Roy Brown, Wynonie Harris, Gatemouth Brown, Bullmoose Jackson, H-Bomb Ferguson, Big Maybelle, Ruth Brown and Laverne Baker on labels such as the Savoy. H-Bomb Ferguson produced ‘Rock H-Bomb Rock’ as early as 1951. Both Roy Brown and Wyonie Harris produced ‘Good Rockin’ Tonight’ covered by Elvis Presley.

Another branch of R&B came out of the Specialty label with Louis Jordan. This was lighter and used a lot more humour. Louis had a string of big hits with songs such as Caldonia, Saturday Night at the Fish Fry, and Choo Choo Ch’ Boogie. His was a style that went on to influence Bill Haley.

Bill Haley, coming out of Country & Western, rocked it up with a lot of showmanship and incorporated any other R&B he could find, including ‘Shake Rattle & Roll’ from Joe Turner and ‘See you later alligator’ – Bobby Charles.

These bands were very large with many instruments including saxophones, trumpets, piano, drums, clarinets, and electric guitars. They came out of the Mid-West and most were signed to the Savoy Label and their sound can be heard on a series of albums starting with ‘Honkers and Shouters’.


Artist Stand out tracks
Roy Brown Good Rockin tonightRockin’ at midnight

Hard luck blues

Miss Fanny Brown

Wynonie Harris Good Rockin’ tonightGood morning judge

All she wants to do is rock

Sittin’ on it all the time

Blood shot eyes

Gatemouth Brown Okie Dokie stompMary is fine
Bullmoose Jackson I want a bow-legged womanI can’t go on without you
H-Bomb Ferguson Rock H-bomb RockHard Lovin’ woman
Big Maybelle Whole lotta shakin’ going onCandy
Louis Jordan Saturday night fish-fryChoo Choo Ch-boogie


Ain’t nobody here but us chickens

Is you is or is you aint my baby

Let the good times roll

I like ‘em fat like that

Open the door Richard

Don’t let the sun catch you crying

Aint it just like a woman

Has digital destroyed Rock Music?

Has digital destroyed Rock Music?


Once upon a time my Saturday’s were spent hunting round a string of second-hand record shops. I would meet up with similar people and have a chat and a laugh. There were bargains to be had. It was all about knowing your stuff; knowing about the artists and albums, the labels and genres. I would find the odd gem plus a number of OK albums and carry them off home to peruse at leisure.

Those were fun days.

When I got home I would spend time looking over my finds. I would read the blurb o the back avidly and look at the photos. Then I’d play them through. Sometimes I would play an album endlessly until I knew every note, every word and the melody. It was an experience.

The excitement of finding a treasure set the heart pounding. You would hold it and look at it and feel the adrenalin rush.

Every time you went out it was with the possibility at the front of your mind. Maybe today you would find that magic album? It was possible.

Nowadays that has gone.

It is not the same trawling on Amazon or Ebay. Everything is there. You are merely haggling about the price.

The digital era means that you can download an artists entire output in seconds. What used to take years of searching and know-how is now available at the click of a button. There is no hunting, no excitement at the unexpected find and no big pay-off when you have it all.

There are the benefits that now everything is available and all those forgotten gems are there at your finger-tips. There are the missing tracks, the unreleased material and a wealth of live concerts. Things have come out of the woodwork that you never knew existed. Who has been sitting on all this stuff? Why wasn’t it available fifty years ago when we would have drooled over it?

The downside is that it has all been devalued. Music has lost its lustre. It does not have the same significance.

Any spotty kid who knows sod-all about music can have the complete set of Chess singles or the entire Trojan catalogue and he doesn’t even know what he’s got.

I’m drowning in a glut of great music but I’m listening to less. Then there is the thing about the quality. Where is all the brilliant new music? Why is so much of it over-produced dross?

I miss those Saturday discussions, meetings, arguments and the hunting. I miss the adrenalin. I miss the buzz and I miss all the social implications.

But then I’m an old dinosaur.

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11 thoughts on “Has digital destroyed Rock Music?”

  1. You said it all, hit the nail right on the head.
    I absolutely hate mp3’s. If anyone tells me “oh, yeah, I downloaded it”, they’ll get a reply from me such as “you ain’t got f*** all matey, you THINK you have, but you’ve not actually HEARD the music”. Quite how anyone can be satisfied with the aural experience of between 5 – 6.5% of the music information is utterly beyond me. I can feel my stomach churning at their inadequacy and mediocrity and total lack of regard to what can be, given the correct circumstances, absolutely fantastic.
    A few weeks ago a friend brought his 15 year old son round. The boy is really into The Who. He had come to the right house. After him falling over just looking at the selection, I asked him if he’d like to hear a vinyl record – he had never heard one. He choose “Quadrophenia” and when the band kicked in after the first minute of wave noises, he physically jumped up off his chair in shock.
    It was hilarious, he was speechless. He’s now saving up for a turntable and has been back round to make himself a list of the records he needs to get. I will of course help him with that adventure.

    I feel very positive about the future of the vinyl record.

    1. I’m so glad to hear that. People get used to tinny rubbish. The power of the real thing is lost. I’m glad a new generation will have that experience. Cheers Opher

  2. I agree almost entirely with you. I disagree that there is no good new music to be found. There is an amazing explosion of good creative artistry going on in the folk-world and the home-recording studio has led to another explosion of good indie musicians, albeit swamped by the plethora of rap and similar music incorporating home studio effects and techniques.

    There is no doubt that vinyl and physical metal needle styli has been proved to produce the warmest and most accurate rendering of the original sound pieces laid on the vinyl record. However, as previously noted the metal styli is the direct cause of deterioration of any given vinyl record.

    The latest technology appears to offer the best of both worlds, with vinyl records being read by a lazer. If I had the money, that would be the setup I’d look to go for.

    As it is, with the help of an Uncle known as Blackbeard, I have the complete works in FLAC and MP3s of most of my favourite artists, so that I can listen through each record as an MP3, and If I like it I will burn the corresponding CD from the FLAC file, and subsequently listen to it as a CD on my compact stereo system.

    1. Cheers Ian. I’m sure there’s loads around that’s good. I don’t get to hear a lot of it. Most of the popular stuff sounds overproduced and bland. I like it raw, loud and preferably with some meaning attached! I’m too busy writing to get around as much as I’d like.
      What would you recommend?

  3. Within the folk world there are so many good acts out there. Pretty much most of it gets aired on Mark Radcliffe’s BBC Radio prog on Wednesday evenings. Mike Harding also produces a regular hour long Internet radio Folk show, which is available as an MP3 podcast after being broadcast.

    My personal favourites amongst the new wave of folk include The Unthanks, Lisa Hannigan and Laura Marling along with the various outgrowths from the Folk Musician Supergroups Blowzabella and the Old Swann Band.

    I havent really found any original new loud electric music that has rocked my boat since discovering Counting Crows in the early 2000s. However there are a lot of very good cover bands out there who are well worth going to see. I’m not sure if The Hamsters are still going, but as their stageshow consisted of 2 sets each of Hendrix, ZZ Top and the Doors, along with their own material, I’d always go see them anytime they pass my way

    1. I missed out on the Hamsters but I heard all about them. I’ve turned on to Laura Marling. I’ll give the others a listen. Thanks for that Ian.
      Have you heard the Mississippi Allstars? They are probably my favourite around aty the moment and I do love the Eels!

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Why do I Write?

Why do I Write?


Why do I write?


That is a question a lot of people ask me and it is one I often ask myself.


Writing is a lonely, sedentary task. It is time consuming, frustrating and unrewarding in many ways.

It was Paul Simon who wrote ‘All my words come back to me – in shades of mediocrity – like emptiness in harmony’.  That about sums it up.


I am not the next John Fowles. I did not study English Literature. Why do I think I can write?


I write because I know I can articulate the contents of my mind into words that will resonate with my readers. I know I can and sometimes I do.


I write because I have a head that is full of passions, ideas, thoughts, opinions and stories and I have a burning need to write them down. I enjoy writing as much as I do reading – and I love reading.


I am not religious. I do not believe in any god or afterlife; I do not believe there is an ultimate purpose. I believe we have to give life a purpose. We have to strive to make the world a better place. Writing does that for me.


I love nature and am destroyed by what we are doing to the planet. It eats me up.

I write about the things that mean something to me. I am a communicator who is an idealist; I believe we can make things better.


I write because I believe in creativity. Creating something beautiful or passionate gives purpose and fulfilment. My books contain the wonder in my head.


I write because it is difficult. Writing a novel is like climbing Everest. It is so hard that it leaves you with a sense of fulfilment when you’ve achieved it. I’ve climbed a lot of mountains.


I write because I am a rebel who wants to change the system. I want to change it because it stinks. I think we can do better.


I write about my passions.


There are no rules. I like to push the limits in every way going. My books are different. They are sometimes extreme.


I write for fun.


I have written 49 books and published twenty four. Twenty two are available on Amazon. They are my babies. They will live longer than me.


I dread to think how many hours I have sat in the dark typing on an old type-writer or pounding the keyboard on my various computers. How much of my life? How many tens of thousands of hours?

A book would take me a couple of thousand hours. I done rewrite after rewrite.


So far I have earned around £700 for all those efforts. I make about a dollar a book. It’s not a great return. If it was about the money I could have worked in a filling-station and bought a house!


It’s not about the recognition. You write into a relentless vacuum.


It is sometimes the most discouraging, pointless, lonely task in the world. Sometimes I read what I have written and despair.


But I’m still writing!

Rock Music Genres – Skiffle – a seminal British scene in the fifties.

Rock Music Genres – Skiffle – a seminal British scene in the fifties.


Skiffle – British 1950s

Skiffle was a term that came over from Black slang in the fifties. It referred to the type of party where music was played and a hat passed round to reward the musicians.

In the post-war period of the fifties things were still bleak in Britain. The cities had been heavily bombed and every street was littered with bomb-sites. There was still rationing, shortages of clothes and austerity. But the war was over and the kids wanted to get out and enjoy themselves. This was the age before TV. Houses just had a radio and, if you were very lucky, a record player which played 78s.

While the States, who had largely escaped the devastation that had ravaged Europe, was enjoying a boom; where the kids were cruising in cadillacs, listening to Rock and R&B and going to drive-ins, we were having a much harder time.

In the States the intelligentsia was getting into Kerouac, Beat poetry and Zen. In Britain it was Trad. Jazz and CND marches.

Chris Barber was one of those Jazz men and he had a liking for the blues. So much so that he brought some of the blues singers over to Britain and introduced British audiences to the real blues. This paved the way for Cyril Davies and Alexis Korner to set up their R&B band Blues Incorporated. So you could say that Chris Barber was the father of the whole Rock scene. He was also the inaugurator of Skiffle.

Chris was a purveyor of authentic New Orleans Jazz and one of the best. But in the interval he allowed a little offshoot of the band to do a slot. They were a pared back group of musicians with basic guitar, bass and snare who did a series of American Folk-Blues numbers by the likes of Leadbelly, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee and even Woody Guthrie. They proved popular.

At a recording session Chris Barber had a bit of time to kill and allowed the Skiffle group led by Lonnie Donnegan to record a few numbers. The rest is history.

One of the tracks got some airplay and the response was so strong that it was released as a single ‘Rock Island Line’, a Leadbelly number, soared straight to number one and started a country-wide craze. Lonnie Donnegan, who had taken his name from the blues singer Lonnie Johnson, was more popular than Elvis.

The beauty of Skiffle was its simplicity. You only needed two chords and it could be largely played on homemade instruments. You needed your mother’s old washboard with a few thimbles, a tea-chest and broom handle bass, and an old beat-up guitar and you were away. All the lads wanted to be in a band and get the girls. Every town sprouted Skiffle Groups and venues. The country might have been poor but it came alive.

It proved a short-term craze. Lonnie had a number of hits and was joined by the Vipers, Chas McDevitt and Nancy Whiskey and a few others and it was over.

Lonnie branched out into novelty songs and Skiffle passed into history. Except it didn’t. The importance of Skiffle wasn’t just in the music and hits it had produced. It had got a whole generation of kids into music and opened up a lot of clubs. Those Skiffle bands learnt more chords, got better instruments and went on to form the Rock and R&B bands that were going to form the Mersey and Beat bands of the British Invasion. The kids had been attracted in, got a taste for performing, had the venues to get up on stage and never looked back. Without Skiffle there might not have been a British Beat boom or an interest in blues.

The Beatles were typical. They started off as the Quarrymen Skiffle group before heading into Rock ‘n’ Roll and R&B. Guitar gods like Jimmy Page were the same. Skiffle was transformational.

Just goes to show! Life is changed by the smallest things. If Chris had not had a bit of extra time on the recording session, or had not liked blues and given Lonnie a chance, history would have been different.