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Secret 7″…

March 24, 2014 Leave a comment

“Secret 7” is an annual event that combines music and art for a good cause“.

You can find out more on their website here but in essence, each year 7 tracks are chosen by the organisers and 100, 7″ singles are pressed of each track. The sleeves for each of these 700 records are all different, with the designs and artwork chosen from submissions by a mixture of invited established artists and the general public…

After an exhibition of the chosen 700, each sleeve can then be bought for £45, but it isn’t until you’ve opened the bag that you know who, why and what you’ve got. A neat idea I would say…

This year I entered a couple of designs, and although sadly neither of my offerings made the grade, my good friend Wong was more successful.

As the whole point of the event is the secret relationship between tune, designer and sleeve, I hope I’m not giving too much away by telling you that Mr. Wong’s submission is somewhere on the screen grab below. Congrats and top marks to him etc…

My submissions are included below the screen grab (for Jake Bug and Massive Attack) so that if you decide to enter next year, you’ll know what isn’t likley to get chosen…Wong Secret 7

Jake Bugg 300_2

Secret 7_3 copy

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A Trip to Iceland…

March 14, 2014 2 comments

Iceland_1There will be no posts for a while as next week I are mostly be in Iceland…

Thanks to my lovely girlfriend, who bought us the holiday for christmas, I’m fulfilling a long held dream of mine, to go and experience some of the most amazing, almost primeval landscapes in one of the least populated countries in the world…

So weather permitting, we will be putting on our big coats and boots and heading out to do and see everything we can: Reykjavik, the Northern lights, volcanoes, geothermal pools, tectonic fissures, frozen waterfalls, snow, ice, crystal clear lakes, The Blue Lagoon and boiling geysers. I can’t wait…

It’s my guess that this trip might generate some new ideas for blog posts, but until that happens, here are some pics stolen from the web. How amazing does it all look?

As an aside, the first image reminds me of that age old conundrum: Why is it that Iceland (which is mostly green) is called Iceland and Greenland (which is mostly covered in ice) is called Greenland… ?

800px-laki_fissure_2

Iceland_route_1_between_vik_and_hofn

iceconf

800px-Gulfoss_Iceland_in_early_April

Blue-Lagoon

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Lazy Post No. 12 – Peter Gabriel on Spotify

March 11, 2014 4 comments

It might not mean much to you, but I was well chuffed to find out this morning that Peter Gabriel’s solo album’s are finally available on Spotify.

Gabriel 1-4 copy

Whilst the Genesis influence (i.e. overly complex tunes and funny voices) is still clearly evident throughout 1 (car)  and 2 (scratch), it was with 3 (melt) and 4 (scary) that Gabriel finally began to find his own voice.

Gabriel 3 is a truly marvelous record, way ahead of its time in my humble opinion.. Dark, erudite and politically astute lyrics, encased and enveloped in richly layered electronica, with hints of the sampling, tribal drumming and percussion programming that would make Gabriel 4 such a standout album a few years later…

I don’t know how many hundreds of times I must have listened to Biko on Gabriel 3 over the years, but it still sends a shiver down my spine. Those wonderfully evocative lines “You can blow out a candle, but you can’t blow out a fire, once the flames begin to catch, the winds will blow them higher..” will forever be etched in my memory…

So that just leaves Mr. Fripp to get his act together and put one of my most guilty of pleasures, King Crimson up on Spotify… Come on Bob, do it for the fans, what with Pink Floyd and Led Zep capitulating recently, there’s only you and Thom Yorke left in the non believers camp…

The Increasing Value of the Coins in your Pocket…

March 7, 2014 3 comments

Next time you’re looking through your small change, keep an eye out for the following UK commemorative coins. If you find any of them, you could be in for a pleasant surprise (especially if you bang it up on eBay…)

Kew_50 Pence_2009The one that’s in the news at the moment is the Kew Gardens 50p. Issued in 2009 and limited to a mintage of only around 200,000 (anywhere between 3 and 11 million is a more usual mintage for commemorative 50p’s) this rare coin is currently changing hands for around £200

But there are others that are worth looking out for…

The 2008, 20p coin. When the Royal Mint redesigned the definitive UK set of coins (i.e. the ones you see every day) in 2008, the new design had the date on the Obverse side (the Queens head side).

Undated20pThe old design however had the date on the reverse side. For reasons that are unclear, there was a mismatch of the dies/ stamps used to make the new coins when it was first minted and the old obverse (Queen’s Head) was used on the new reverse (the lions back legs). It’s the middle combination of the three versions to the right.

Confusing perhaps, but the upshot is simple: there are somewhere between 50,000 and 200,000 20p coins with no date on them… Find one of those and you could be £100 better off.

st-change-checker-spot-the-difference-olympics-aquatics-50p-coin-2Then there is the Swimming Olympic Games 50p. The initial design had the swimmers face much more obscured by water than the reworked final version. Around 600 of these first coins were issued and if you’ve got one, they are currently worth around £3000.

Finally we have a lettering mistake. In 2005, a £2 coin was issued to mark the 400th anniversary of Guy Fawkes and the gun powder plot. It seems the dies used to stamp the inscription around the edge were not 100% accurate resulting in the words “Pemember Pemember The 5th of November” appearing rather than the more familiar phrase… These are only worth about £20, but it’d still be a nice thing to find…

Pemember

And in case you’ve ever wondered why the edge inscription on the £2 coin sometimes reads correctly with the reverse side up and sometimes with the obverse side up, it’s simply because the inscription is rolled into the edge of the blank disk before the two faces are stamped, and the blank is allowed to fall into the coin press as it will…

Manchester Modernist Magazine – MKII

March 5, 2014 Leave a comment

MM No. 10I’m very, very late with this post, in fact it was only writing the previous one that reminded me…

The Manchester Modernist which has been good enough to publish a number of my submissions has done so again in their latest issue, which actually came out at the end of last year.

After an impressive eight issues over the last two years or so, the Editors have understandably decided to update the layout and appearance of their magazine, to help keep it fresh through the next couple…

This first offering in their new livery (Issue 9/ Dinky) takes an obvious cue (to my eyes anyway) from Ben Kelly and Peter Saville’s work at that most infamous of Manchester’s cultural institutions The Hacienda, which is a pretty cool move for a magazine devoted to post war arts and culture, especially when so much of contemporary culture is about re appropriation and reinterpretation. And anyway, it’s probably only the 40 somethings like myself that would associate hazard stripes with Manchester…

My “dinky” piece is all about the graphic artist and designer David Gentleman and his work with Tony Benn in the early 1960’s to modernise that most ubiquitous and overlooked of mini masterpieces, the humble postage stamp…

Why not treat yourself and buy the issue here. It’s only a couple of quid, or subscribe and get the next four issues. It’s a fascinating read and deserves all the support it can get…

Congress House in The Shrieking Violet Issue 22…

March 3, 2014 Leave a comment

Front CoverI’ve recently had another of my attempts at writing published in The Shrieking Violet, so a big thanks to Natalie for that.

It’s a short piece about one of the least known modern architectural masterpieces in London, which also houses one of the best modernist sculptures ever carved (imho obviously…)

The commission to design a headquarters building in Central London for the Trades Union Congress was won in one of the first and largest post war, open architectural competitions by the then (and even now) little known architect David Du Rieu Aberdeen in 1948. War shortages, changes to the brief and politics delayed the project start until the early 1950’s, so that it wasn’t until 1957 that the building, with Jacob Epstein’s truly wonderful and unforgettable memorial at its heart, was finally opened for business.

Why not visit the excellent Shrieking Violet and read the whole piece? It’s an interesting story about the challenges of getting something brand new and very modern, built in a city that was still struggling to provide basic infrastructure and housing after the devastation of the War…

 

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