Andy J Williams; Buy all his $tuff!

I’m sure it’ll shock you to hear, I made a technical hitch, best described as a cock-up. It seldom happens, blame my masculinity; the wife often reminds me men cannot multi-task. We featured the indie-pop Bristol-based singer-songwriter Andy J Williams last month, as part of our Song of the Day feature, and I promised to review the whole album “Buy all the $tuff,” which was released at the beginning of February.

Musicians you wait for like buses, then two come along at the same time, and accidently I mind-merged them. Even joked in our Song of the Day post not to confuse Andy J Williams with his namesake senior easy listening giant, then mixed him up with someone else, whose name is nothing remotely similar. The only parallel is they’re both from Bristol, though many are, but being as the other artist’s album involved in this cock-up isn’t released until next week, both got put on the backburner. My virtual to-do-list saved the day; acts as my brain.

Extend a short story longer, here’s an apology to Andy, and a belated review of “Buy all the $tuff,” which is very worthy of not being missed out. To begin with his cohesive band firmly behind him, there’s a Britpop feel, I sensed, vocally, a similarity with Trowbridge’s finest, Phil Cooper, if Phil was aiming for pop. But there’s a lot going on here, influences are wide but mould into each other exceptionally well; a tad tongue-in-cheek at times too. It’s indie on the outer crust, but with a dynamite mantle blending of layers which incorporates funk, new wave post-punk, art-pop, and contemporary electric bluesy-folk, all with equal measure and passion.

Reminisces flood my neurons upon initial listening, of how eighties electronica fused funk into pop, a kind of “funk-lite,” avoiding the substantial seventies untainted funk vibe, and through post-punk new wave, rewrote the club-pop formula. Bands like Duran Duran and Roxette spring to mind, I’d even go as far as Michael Jackson meets Huey Lewis, but while I’m aware there’s a bizarre subgenre called “funk metal,” pleased to report Andy doesn’t get that heavy! This is more like musical cubism, with a skilful composition akin to King Tubby’s mixing board, and it comes out the other end as extraordinarily unique beguiling pop.

Don’t take the opening Britpop track as red, the next, Post Nup, opens up this funk riff, but no matter where it takes you, lyrically this well-crafted too, written with thoughtful prose. There’s topical subject matter amidst the archetypical romance, including the referendum and social media, but no theme distracts from the overall musical presentation. Night Terrors, for example, works opposite to Jon Amor, who uses Elvis Costello pop to create a more frivolous blues, Andy maintains pop by adding elements of electric blues. Then, piano solo, layered with subtle percussion. Andy rinses a fine ballad, undoubtedly the most evoking track on the album, Stay.

Buy This $tuff reaches an apex immediately after, Something to Believe in is masterfully danceable, bathed with handclaps and a funky riff, it is to Andy what Superstition is to Stevie Wonder. From here on, the album takes to this upbeat terpsichore concept. It’s highly entertaining.

Ballads follow, Celia and Now She’s Gone are particularly adroit, but you know Andy isn’t going to end this with melancholy. Be Mine returns to rock as it’s mainstay. Radicalised equally comes in hard, with an electronica feel. And Your Truth Hits Everyone is anthemic, concluding there’s a need to ponder what the Beatles would sound like if still around today, with Britpop, new wave electronica, and clubland techno at their disposal. Through this, I might provide a suggestion.


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Eighties Mod Revival Lost Gem: The Direct Hits

If I waffle positively here, and yes, I do waffle, about retrospection and a trend in sounds trying to be authentically from a time of yore, this one doesn’t need to try. The Broadway Recording Sessions thrusts you rearward into the eighty’s mod revival scene, whether you want to go there or not.

Battersea trio, The Direct Hits may only be remembered by the connoisseur of mod, having one-shot at charting in ’82, when TV presenter Dan Treacy released their song, Modesty Blaise on his Whamm! imprint. The music press hailed this as not just another Jam, crash-bang-wallop mod revivalist tune, and their explosive live shows avowed them pioneers of a “Battersea Beat.”

Whamm were financially struggling to fund an album, so the band pooled their limited resources and booked the cheapest studio time they could find, Tooting’s Broadway Sounds. By the afternoon they had knocked out nine songs, the other three on this album were recorded a fortnight later. It would be two years later when they re-recorded some of these songs for their debut album “Blow Up.”

Now remastered, these lost recordings have surfaced finally, and, with warts and all, show the uncooked spirit of a hopeful mod garage band. I’ve had this playing for a few weeks since it’s late February release, and it heralds the hallmarks of a post-punk return to the basics, which sixties groups like The Kinks and The Small Faces mastered. To expect this yardstick is pushing it, but through all its rawness there’s some beguilingly adroit songs to make you wonder why they wasn’t as their namesake suggests, direct hits!

Perhaps it was that bit too retrospective for the progressive eighties. Because, elements capture neo-psychedelia, rather than soulful eighties mod assigned via The Spencer Davis Group and into bands like The Merton Parkas. That era where the beatnik style was teetering on influencing the pop sound, but Merseybeat was still riding the high ground. There’s a delicate balance here, avoiding things getting too cliché Mamas & Papas, these upbeat three-minute-heroes never fails to kick ass.

Consistently high-spirted and energetic garage sound, yet psychedelically enhanced; think if Syd Barrett’s days spent at Pink Floyd would’ve been spent with The Who instead, and you get the idea. There’s even a bike song, just like on Relics. Lyrically there’s unassuming stories with clear narratives and characters to challenge the Beatles.

A polished rerecording of a track from the album.

Overall, though, you’ve got twelve mind-blowing rarities which perfectly capture a raw moment of youthful optimism for an inspiring band, in an era where everyone felt encouraged to pick up an instrument and give it bash; and they’re good, really good. In a funny kind of way, I see similarities to the now; the forgone passing of DJ culture in a rave new world and tasteless manufactured pop, to an imminent inclination of online DIY indie, I see hopefuls taking to a guitar and giving it a go. Perhaps then, there’s no time like the present for this to resurface.

Buy The Broadway Recording Sessions Here


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Song of the Day 39: Kirsty Clinch

Song of the day this fine Friday evening… got to be Kirsty, enough said! And that’s my song of the day!! Very good, carry on…..

Song of the Day 27: Emily Capell

We are the mods, we are the mods, we are, we are, okay, you get the gist. Imagine Kate Nash is Doctor Who’s assistant, and they tracked back to Carnaby Street in 1963. If she dressed and performed without raising suspicion that they’re time travellers, you’ve got a general picture of the fantastic Emily Capell.

On one hand, this is fab retrospective meddling, on the other it’s lively and fresh fun, with a beehive hairdo.

There’s nothing here not to like, unless you’re a ret-con rocker and if so, I’ll see you on Brighton beach, pal. All I ask is you aim for the face, so you don’t crease my suit.

And, that’s my song for the day. Very good. Carry on….. oh yeah, nearly forgot to mention, Emily has a live stream coming up Friday 12th March, here; groovy.


Song of the Day 21: Andy J Williams

Ever just float around your favourite social media site with no objective in mind, to unexpectedly find something which pounces on you as utterly brilliant, and wonder why you’ve not heard about it before?

Took a second of watching this to establish it’s one of those rare occasions, and not just a pointless scrolling exercise for your index finger. You know the kind, where you only see your mate’s unappealing dinner, a wonky, windup political opinion, or video of a young prankster posing as a magician hoaxing eye candy on a Florida beach.

Took a further second to confirm it’s not to be confused with senior easy listening giant, Andy Williams, rather an indie-pop Bristol-based singer-songwriter namesake, but with an added middle J, a penchant for a funky riff and eye for a beguiling tune.

Check this cracking danceable video out, where one could ponder if the middle J stands for “Jacko!”

Not that I’m usually one to allow a cracking video convince me, even with dancing stormtroopers. So, you should note, he’s on his third album “Buy all the $tuff,” of which you can, here. I’m reckoning I need a window to review this fully in the near future. For now it came as big as a nice surprise as spotting an unidentified circular yellow object in the sky this morning, for a near halfhour! Amazing.

And that’s my song for the day. Very good. Carry on…..


Song of the Day 20: Darling Boy

Self-taught multi-instrumentalist, singer and actor, Darling Boy, aka Alexander Gold adds reminisces about his game childhood with this video for his new single “Tea Drinkers of the World.” An unusual move for this brand of indie-pop, but a colourful and entertaining 16-bit retro game fashioned video; enjoy.

And that’s my song for the day. Stream it here. Facebook here. Very good. Carry on….


Song of the Day 17: Diana Leoport

What’s Spanish for “diva?” Oh, Google translate aptly says it’s “diva!”

Super sassy Spanish vocalised RnB-pop doesn’t come sexier than Mexican singer Diana Leoport’s debut single. Aching with masses of Latino promise there’s elements of Shakira and Gloria Estefan in this smooth tune. My glasses have steamed up!

Out on all platforms here.

And that’s my song for the day. Very good. Carry on….


Song of the Day 12: Darla Jade

Even portions of expressive contemporary pop, the ambience of post-goth and downtempo electric blues of trip hop makes this Staffordshire singer, Darla Jade really someone to watch. With a haunting uniqueness about her voice and style, there’s shards of Evanescence fused with Beth Orton. It’s somehow individually chartable but would also appease alternative rock or goth aficionados alike.

Subscribe to her YouTube channel, hear her own stamp on Radiohead’s Creep, and realise, her talent is so very special.

And that’s my song for the day. Very good. Carry on….


Song of the Day 1: Atari Pilot

Irregularly I share a music video to our Facebook page with the status “song of the day,” or week, or whenever, as if it’s a daily occurrence. When the reality is it’s a big, fat fib on my part, it’s only when I happen to find such a video and can be arsed to share it. What-cha gonna do, sue me?

So, just in case your lawyer says you have a case, I thought I’d streamline this sporadic idea for 2021, make it an actual feature on the site rather than a Facebook post, and show off that I know what long words like “sporadic” mean.

Little more gone into it than this, you should be used to it by now. I’m not going to review them, just embed them here for your own appraisal and entertainment purposes. Potentially, it’ll be a groundbreakingily breif post, a simple but effective phenomenon, and something I can do without missing the Simpsons.

The challenge is consistency; whether I actually stick to the idea or, like others, it’ll be a flash in the pan. Who knows, this could be the start of something beautiful, this could be the thing they’re talking about in decades to come. A holographic Ken Bruce could be asking “what was the very first Devizine Song of the Day” in a Pop Master 200 years from now.

And you can answer it with who I bestow this honour, Atari Pilot. They’ll be revelling in the triumph of the hour if it wasn’t lockdown, I bet.

History in the making then, the only issue I foresee is I over-waffle any old crap, which is, incidentally, not what’s happening now and rarely does here; I had to explain myself, didn’t I?

Okay, I get message; here it is then, enjoy the tune, enjoy the rest of your evening. Good job, carry on.


  • Wiltshire’s Solstice Troubles, Again!

    Have you seen this, at the Euros? When in defence of a freekick they have a guy lying on the ground behind the wall like a human draft excluder. That’d be me, about as much use as a chocolate fireguard, finally a position I could play. Imagine the scenario; I’d be like “where do you want me to be?” The captain’s response would be, “tell you what, why don’t you take a load off, and lie down there on the grass, take as long as you need!”

    The crowds thinking; that guy came to the wrong event, he wants to be at the solstice celebrations, maxin’-relaxin’, awaiting sunrise…. now there’s a confliction; while Wembley play host to 60,000 foreign media and dignitaries, exempt from quarantine, Wiltshire bans access to its world-famous Neolithic monument for significant less thousands of revellers whose only wish is to see in the solstice in a manner done centuries prior to the notion a bunch of lads kicking a pig’s bladder around a park might be fun.

    Last year was understandable, and well reported, solstice at the henge would be via live stream only. Hardly the same, but adhered too. This year it looked set to go ahead, and was poorly publicised that it had been pulled last minute due to the pushing back of our Clown Minister’s so-called, “Freedom Day.”

    Take a deep breath, refrain from calling it “Freedom Day,” please. Freedom Day in the USA remembers the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery and involuntary servitude, rather than being able to drunkenly hug your best mate down the pub. The only thing slightly comparable to it would be the day this government, intent on regurgitating and condoning the traditional hypocrisies and philosophies of prejudices, collapses, and a freer society which adopts the tenet live and let others live, replaces it.

    A prime example this weekend, in my honest opinion, and here’s why; constraining a populace’s desire to celebrate a religious rite whilst allowing lucrative sporting events is nothing less than cultural appropriation. Far from Pope Gregory I’s era, who banged out a letter to Saxon Bishop of London, Mellitus, legitimately approving the reformatting of pagan cultural activities and beliefs into a Christianised form, (hence bunnies and chocolate eggs presented to mark Jesus’s crucifixion, and Santa Claus jingling bells on his birthday) but be certain, it’s the same ballpark; Interpretatio Christiana lite.

    As I sift through social media commentary and local news reports, I find nothing but support and positive stories from those who either attended Solstice at our county’s heritage sites, or tried to, couped only by downright insolence from authorities to accept its importance to so many people, and made concentrated efforts to prevent it.

    In this pandemic era, restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus is logical, we’ve had over a year to come to terms and implement these. Social distancing, basic hygiene, and the wearing of facemasks when in close proximity to another have all become second nature. These can be used to create a safer environment in which to gather, and we have done, but it seems only when it suits. A celebration at Stonehenge could have been policed properly, the standard model for Covid prevention could have be implemented, but to outright ban it, when it’s bleeding obvious there will be resistance, and people will attempt to gate-crash, is counter-productive to preventing the spread of the virus, compared to allowing it to go ahead with aforementioned restrictions. Ever been to Stonehenge? Hardly a confined and enclosed space!

    If we put measures into Royal Ascot and made it a “pilot,” for Queenie and her affluent chums, we could have done the same with Stonehenge. But we only need to look at the controversial history of retribution by authorities to suspect there’s far more to the reasons for preventing solstice celebrations than the pandemic.

    I need not reflect back-to-square-one, the Battle of the Beanfield, rather consider, through the Iron Age, the Roman Empire, and the early Mediaeval periods, while the meaning and significance of Avebury’s stone circle had been lost through the passage of time, people largely let it be, ignoring it, using as a fortified site or even, during Roman times, seeing it as a tourist attraction, much as we do today. It wasn’t until the early 14th century, Late Mediaeval, when England had been wholly transformed to Christianity, the circle was associated with the devil, and villagers ripped down the stones with such anger, one poor chap was killed attempting to topple them.

    Imagine the fate, insanely yelling at an eight-foot stone monolith that it was the work of the devil, until it falls and crushes you to death, and your mate is like; yeah, story checks out; that’s gonna hurt in the morning! And why anyone would want to build their church out of stones considered the Devil’s Chair, or the Devil’s Quoits is beyond reasoning.

    The irony is, if it wasn’t for Black Death in 1349, halving the village population, when manpower was focussed on agricultural obligations rather than taking their aggression out on a pagan monument, it’s likely there would be no remains for Alexander Keiller to have renovated.

    And now, 672 years later, we’ve got our own plague, and on a rain-drenched, dull sunrise anyway, Wiltshire Police waffle, “We have taken the difficult decision to prevent further access to part of the Ridgeway, near Avebury, to maintain public safety and prevent potential damage to nearby farmland. This is in response to large numbers of people and vehicles in the area.” When really, it’s common knowledge locally, Avebury is a far less popular solstice celebration site than Stonehenge and would’ve only risked being inundated with vehicles because they closed Stonehenge; swings and roundabouts!

    I spoke to a friend, heading to Avebury on motorbike, so able to take the byways across Hackpen Hill to avoid roadblocks. The point being; where there’s a will, there’s a way, folk are prepared to take a hike because, and here’s the thing the authorities fail to grasp, even if solstice is not your cup of tea, it’s time to accept that to thousands of British people, it clearly is.

    Yet English Heritage pull their live stream of sunrise at Stonehenge, due to invasion, host Ed Shires announced, “I must say we have been disappointed that a number of people have chosen to disregard our request to not travel to the stones this morning and that is the reason why we haven’t been able to bring you the pictures that we would have liked to have done.” The pictures that they would have liked, is the image of solitude and splendour, as the sun rises over the stones, to promote the site as a lucrative attraction to tourists, rather than their attempts curb the real connotations it has for the indigenous folk, on what was a dull and rainy morning without much sunrise, anyway! Run the film, I say, show the world what is really happening at Stonehenge, and that it means so much to so many, they’re willing to break the law and lockdown restrictions to be there, and perhaps only then, the embarrassment might make them consider, perhaps, you know, we could have organised an event, with restrictions and made far safer environment than the inevitable invasion; give me strength!


  • Thirty Years a Raver. Part 6: Impact Zone

    Final piece of the series then, and a conclusion… One More Tune!!!

    By 1994 the Criminal Justice Bill had become an act. Attempts to enforce it were either greatly exaggerated, such as riot vans and police helicopters crashing a birthday barbeque, or were disregarded as an unnecessary government enforcement from the police on the ground. Though we may never have had another Castlemorton, the mid-nineties and even into the millennium, free raves struck back from the body-blow.

    Urbanised parties took over railway arches, disused warehouses and squats, the people fought tooth and nail to preserve the culture, and in a way, they did. Rural parties continued, localised and smaller, but communal and friendly. Albeit any forces resisting against them, caused many larger ones to become more viciously anarchistic over time. There were attempts to party in aid of a greater cause, environmental issues for example, such as the Reclaim the Streets protests.

    Yet in turn, rave bore an impact on culture and society, which outreached the free party scene. We spoke of musical genres breaking apart, so that large pay-raves erected multiple tents of differing sounds; house, drum n bass, techno, happy hardcore, speed garage, the list continued to get more diverse, until at Universe’s Tribal Gathering 1997, where originators of computer-generated music, Kraftwerk played a main stage, and everyone from each individual subgenre tent came out to pay respects to the roots.

    Likewise, Liverpool super-club Cream wanted in on the large festival rave, and created Creamfields, where the likes of Run DMC played. And the scene redeveloped in many avenues, Acid Jazz was popularised, and if it was only short-lived, it birthed incredibly successful Jamiroquai. It also returned hip hop to the forefront, as breakbeat, chemical and big beat were the sounds of the later nineties. The indie and rave divide, parted dramatically since the days of Madchester, the Happy Mondays, Stone Roses, and Primal Scream’s Screamadeleica had realigned, with the punk nature of the Prodigy’s new look. The crossover blended once again, as indie kids accepted electronica wasn’t intending to lay down and die.

    Clubs rocked to The Dust Brothers, later to be the Chemical Brothers. Mo-Wax, Skint and Wall of Sound roared a big beat, hip hop melting pot ethos, rooted by rave parties, and everyone flooded to Brighton beach to see Norman Cook “large it” as Fatboy Slim.

    What was clear, by this conjunction, while the movement had altered, and divided, rave was now embedded in our culture, and was spreading globally. The paid peanuts DJs who once rocked up to an illegal rave now jetsetters, playing clubs worldwide.

    Clubland never had it so good, buy a MixMag, relish in a party, legally, without the need of convoys, service station coups and risks of police brutality. I bought a silk shirt, wore it at Lakota in Bristol, but headed there after a free party in the forest of Longleat, the night before, and without care for basic hygiene, my paisley chic was ruined by the sweat marks of a boxer. I was oblivious ‘til presented with embarrassing photographic evidence afterwards.

    But commercialisation of the culture had always loomed. In the race to become the “king of rave,” as rock n roll had Elvis and reggae had Marley, they failed to note this plastic throwaway ethos I’ve previously mentioned. In 1992, thousands of twenty-somethings blissfully unaware of the references, sang ‘Eezer Goode ‘Eezer Goode He’s Ebeneezer Goode, simply because the Shamen reached number one in the pop charts, in just the same way thirty years previously, no-hopers sang “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” oblivious to its blatant LSD connotations. I’d argue if we have to have a “king of rave” it’d would have been the ever-progressive Prodigy, but they never cared to call for the title.

    The point is, commercialisation got the better of us eventually, as it did for every previous outrageous youth culture. It would be difficult to imagine in the days of Scott Joplin, that his rags would be considered conforming for a hoity-toity jazz festival in market towns like Marlborough, as in the 1910s, he played to lewd degenerates and desperate sailors in New York’s underworld and bawdy brothels.  In a short few years after the peak of rave culture, Leftfield’s Release the Pressure will be used in an advert for Cheese Strings. And don’t get me started on Yo Gabba Gabba.

    And now we live in a time when reflections of nostalgia from forty-somethings comply with Albert Trotter moments, and a misunderstanding of what happened is ingrained in our culture. I cringe at how the tragic Wonder Woman sequel depicted the eighties, in an almost caricatured version of the fashion, and foresee bearded twenty-somethings attending wistful “rave” nights dressed in glow sticks like tourists on planet Mars. I never waved a fucking glowstick in the nineties, any more than I wore legwarmers in the eighties!

    A van speeds past me, a youngster wears his hood up while driving. Why? Is there a leak in the van’s roof? Yes, we ravers popularised the hooded top in the UK long before the “hoody” culture, and if we wore the hood up, it was because we came out from a sweatbox into the cool night air with perspiration evaporating off of us. We did it to prevent dehydration from precipitation, rather than cos it made us look well ‘ard.

    And then Ollie Murs’ heart skips a beat, with a drum loop the Ratpack would’ve rejected in 91, and I yell, NO! Get your own youth culture kids, nicking ours is disillusioned by commercialisation, unless you’re standing chilly at Peartree services at 3am, teeth masticating the life out of a slice of Wrigleys, eyes like saucers, and waving your arms about like a broken robot with a hundred others, surrounded by cars beeping their horn and playing a chewed up Easygroove cassette, then you are not a raver. And don’t you even let me see you asking Alexa to search the word cassette!

    Last thing I want to do is end this series on a sour note, but duty calls. I read an article about how the days of the illegal rave had returned in all its former glory. “It was just like 1992,” they quoted in a story about a warehouse takeover, then informed partygoers discovered the happening via a Tweet. Eh? Have a word with yourself, Tweets were a novelty eighties band who rehashed an oom-pah so your granny could do a little bit of this and a little bit of that and shake her bum at some family disco of yore. We went raving without a clue what a pager was, while scare-story spreading tabloids suggested we all had mobile phones, in an era where mobile phones were thought of as the devil’s business. They couldn’t comprehend how an entire generation could all descend onto one field simply by word-of-mouth.

      “…and if you tell that to the young people today, they won’t believe you…”

    The Four Yorkshire Men sketch, Monty Python.


    In conclusion; as we say farewell to my little series reflecting back on those heady ravey dayz, I’ll confirm, there was numerous amazing times, the best times of my life, times evoking stories I could bore you into an early grave with. And by the thankful response to this series and the masses of posts of stories from so many old skool ravers in the variety of Facebook groups, it is clear I’m not alone in this theory. Although, my rose-tinted specs were large enough to engulf those dilated pupils throughout most of the examination.

    Probably the most active of those groups, aforementioned DOCU FREE PARTY ERA 1990-1994 – WERE YOU THERE? was originally set up as a research project by one Aaron Trinder a filmmaker on a mission to document the era in a film. We wish him all the best of luck with this monumental task. And it is a monumental task, as unlike most previous youth cultures which borrowed from various trends and cultures, say the teddy boys borrowed extensively from rock-n-roll, mods borrowed from jazz, Italian suits and scooters, and so on, rave borrowed from everything and anything.

    United, the melting pot came from any source, we electrified it and, even if it was relatively short-lived, what exhausted out inspired everything that went hereafter; modern pop, multiple dance music subgenres, fashion, video technology, literature, children’s entertainment, and most importantly, despite the authorises misunderstanding us and their traditionist values causing hateful vengeance upon us, a wealth of people power; the notion that masses can make a difference to life, society and politics. Evident by politicians consistently doing what our Iron Lady wouldn’t do at the time, make a U-turn to save their popularity and votes. For this, we should all be proud.

    I would reward myself with one last disco biscuit, but I’m unsure if my ticker would take it. Slapped with a finale date though, it would be on my bucket list, and what a way to go, reaching for the skies in one last sweet harmony…..


  • Lady Nade; Willing

    Americana folk singer-songwriter Lady Nade beautifully attributes her granddad for her traits, in the song Peace and Calm, citing his love of gardening as his mellowed happy place. Wonderfully sentimental, the boot fits, as is this stunningly crafted new album, Willing, released yesterday, and undoubtedly the reason why she plays to a sold-out audience tonight at St George’s in her hometown of Bristol.

    Reviewing after just the one listen is usually dodgy ground, but when an album engrosses you as Willing does, it’s all that’s necessary to reverberate the news to you just how fabulous this is.

    If Lady Nade has a physical resemblance to Heather Small, she certainly has the deep and soulful voice to match, but any musical comparisons have to end there, unless either Mike Pickering is taken out of the equation or the nineties electronica inclination was mysteriously replaced by Nashville country. For pigeonholing this, it is soulful country, in sound and subject matter.

    Written during the pandemic, there’s a secluded ambience echoing through these eleven sublime three-minute plus stories of friendship, love and loneliness lost and found, reflecting the fact it was recorded in multiple studios and engineered by all the musicians in isolation. Yet to hear it will hold you spellbound in a single place, till its conclusion.

    With a folk tinge the title track kicks us off, and sucks you in with a romantic notion of loyalty. The slide-guitar fills a tale of faith against missing someone follows, and, lighter, You’re my Number One, trickles euphoria, warmly.

    Indeed, mellow is the key throughout, Josette being breezily romantic, while Wild Fire offers a darker, moodier tenet. Whimsically spoken, One-Sided is perhaps the most beguilingly pop-like with a cannonball despondency you cannot help but be touched by. But if identification is what you’re after, Call Yourself a Friend has the sorrowful, trust vs cheating friendship, and accompanied by pedal-steel guitar-picking, traditional country music is honoured.

    By Rock Bottom, as the title suggests, there’s a slight rock breeze to it without defiling its roots, Tom Petty style. Then we have the aforementioned, Peace and Calm, an upbeat, jollily ironic Many Ways to Sink This Ship, and Ain’t One Thing makes for a perfect finale, by summing up the perfect person to be in love with. What a gorgeous sentiment to seamlessly end a captivating album from start to finish.

    It often perplexes me, how Ray Charles deviating from the jazz-laden soul ABC Records necessitated as the key to his achievement, to release the double-album, Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music was considered so shocking, when artists such as Nashville’s DeFord Bailey was fusing harmonica blues into the more acceptable country style forty years prior. Still, some may be surprised by Lady Nade’s affection for Americana folk, but after one listen the surprise will turn into amazement.

    As a form of healing from grief, Lady Nade started writing poems and songs, and performing locally, learning loss and sorrow isn’t something one can recover from alone, and with her music and recipes she creates a communal experience, a calling to connect with her fans on a deeper level. This shows in the sublime dedication she transfers to this, her third album.


  • Ska-Punk-Folk-Whatever, From The Before Times, with Boom Boom Racoon

    Blagging biros and stationery from banks and post offices, we’ve all been there, but few driven to pen a song about it. It’s one valid reason to love the righteous but riotous simplicity of Bristol-based anarchistic vegan folky-ska-punk misfits, Boom Boom Racoon.

    Those aware, who thought 2018’s album by the trio, Now That’s What I Call Boom Boom Racoon vol1 was off the head, newly released Songs From The Before Times & Some More takes it to a whole other level. Lockdown raw, rougher and more in your arrogant, fat consumerist face than ever before; put that sausage roll down and prepare to be barked at with a charming slice of satire and counterculture commentary.

    Now reading that paragraph back makes it all seem so terrible, but under a blanket punk term, which only goes some way to pigeonhole the unpigeonholeable, irony is abound and Boom Boom Racoon are quite the opposite. This is nine three-minute plus enthrallingly exciting rides, and is undoubtedly entertaining to say the least.

    Mixing rum and coffee, ie. turbo mocha time, Covid19-related Public Service Announcement 2020, are the lighter, comical subjects.

    Whereas tightening border control in States and Nations, laboratory animal testing in Cages, human unecological practices compared to dinosaur extinction, and another anti-capitalist rant on how difficult it is to be sustainable in the modern era, are the more sombre and acute subjects, setting the world to rights.

    And the way they work it, the words they’ve planned go against the homemade rawness of the sound. This isn’t off-the-cuff, there’s ingenious wordplay and poignant messages hidden beneath the fun attitude. The abolition, against the psychological effect of imprisonment and a need to sustain numbers by reforming laws to create criminals, for example, Boom Boom Racoon touch on radical notions or campaigns, and are fearless to state their core values.

    Anthropocene it, Say it, Sorted probably carries the most poignant message, and is also the only track which has an amusing sample, unlike the previous aforementioned more polished album which has more, from The Simpsons to Harry Potter. And it comes in the shape of a rather stumblingly polite call from Kent Police regarding an animal rights protest, which is highly amusing.

    The album ends hilariously on the most brilliant retort from taunts by your average knuckle-dragging homophobic bigot, I’m certain you know the sort, completing the overall contemporary leftism and reformist ethos which, if you tag the piffle term “snowflake” onto, beware, the unity here is compounded into a masterfully literate snowball, and it’s a brown one, and it’s aiming at your face!

    Myself, I’d love for these raccoon pests to come trash the bins of our narrowminded community and welcome the opportunity of our more daring venues to book them for a live performance on the theory, well, on the theory, they’d steal the show.


  • Devizes; an LGBTQ+-Friendly Community, a Devizes Pride?

    As a new local Facebook page for the LGBTQ+ community, Devizes Lgbtq+ springs to life, I’m left wondering exactly what social and counsel interactions are readily available in Devizes today. So, I’m chatting with the page’s admin, Oberon, about his group’s aims and goals.

    What I think was most interesting about it, while I dug for negativity, I’d suspect will be evident in our local community towards LGBTQ+, Oberon simply didn’t take the bait, and remained positive throughout our friendly chinwag. Sorry if you came here looking for controversy, this is just a plug for the page and hope it’ll strength both the community and opinions of others towards it.

    Firstly, someone shared an already existing Facebook group for LGBTQ+ in Devizes. I supposed having a page rather than a group is less exclusive and not as restricted being it can make looser, more general connections. “I agree,” Oberon started, “a page is much broader and will be easier to reach out to a wider range of people, which will make it easier to advertise, make connections and get the word out.”

    As I understand it, Devizes School has an excellent program to deal with the issue, but suppose once pupils leave, there’s little else in town, no real places to feel like a community. “I’m very glad Devizes School have a good programme to help their pupils!” he continued. “As far as when they leave goes, as the LGBTQ+ community grows I’d be happy to say that there will be a place to be a community online and, once the community has found its feet, offline and in person too. The sooner the better I say!”

    But is a group like this is more important in a smaller town like Devizes, than say, a city, where there’s already more in place to bring together like-minded people? “I do think an LGBTQ+ community is very important in small towns,” Oberon expressed, “just as much as a city. Many people don’t live in cities or grow up in them, myself included. For a small town to be just as proud and just as accepting is important because it helps to reach everyone. Even if there are a smaller group of LGBTQ+ residents in Devizes it helps to create a safe, inclusive space for us and stops the feeling that small towns don’t ‘understand’ or ‘accept’ as much as larger places do. Furthermore, it can show people that aren’t LGBTQ+ what we’re all about and hopefully help them get a greater understanding of who we are.”

    And there’s a thing, causing me to mention Pride. Pride is supported by many people outside the LGBTQ+ community, and that’s probably more important than just being there for those who are, because it’s about casting negative opinions of yore aside, especially in a smaller community like here. Because, and here’s the crunch, being honest, I do think there’s a number of insular people here who simply refuse to shake off the old stereotypes, maybe more so than urban environments.

    We’ve come a long way even in my own lifetime, I suggested to him, flagrantly showing my age by citing the awareness in the eighties by singers like Boy George, Jimmy Somerville et all! As while they made it a recognisable subject and broke the taboos we now see in our society, at the time people were still hiding in shame, you still wouldn’t have same sex couples on tv shows like you do today.

    The fear is, I do however think we’re in danger of letting that progress slip backwards, as all prejudices seem to be at the forefront and a right wing, or far right-wing gains popularity. I mean we only have look at the onslaught of negative comments when Wiltshire Police added a rainbow flag back in February.

    Oberon replied admirably, I must say! “Every human being is an individual with their own beliefs and views, my aim isn’t to change people, it’s just to show them a greater understanding of things, and be who we are. I agree, we have come a very long way and, as with everything, there will always be a negative and a positive side of things. I choose to focus on the positive and that’s the light I aim to share.”

    Okay, given that, let’s go for it; imagine, a Devizes Pride! At least, some smaller events, or a physical club would be a great start.

    A Devizes Pride would be fantastic and of course that wouldn’t happen overnight,” he replied, which is just as well, as it’s past my bedtime already!

    “I aim to start off with smaller events,” Oberon suggested, “community outreach and fundraisers. Physical clubs, meet-ups and youth groups are also something I’d like to get started, as I think they’ll help LGBTQ+ people find one another, in a safe space, and grow a strong community together.”

    Still, he didn’t rule out the possibility of a Devizes Pride. “Devizes having its own Pride celebration is an avid goal of mine, amongst others! I believe that the stronger the representation of LGBTQ+ people in Devizes the more that people will have a greater understanding of who we are and what we’re all about. Devizes is a town with a strong community and I am for the LGBTQ+ community to have a ‘louder voice’ as it were.”

    But, like any new venture, it would need the support behind it, and all this costs, at this stage is to “like” the page on the Book of Face, and join the separate entity group too, if you wished. It was nice chatting to Oberon, on what can be a touchy subject we need to open up to and address.


  • Planks Dairies Introduces Locally Sourced Organic Dairy Range

    Now, I know what you’re asking; aren’t you in someway affiliated with Planks’ Dairies, in which case isn’t this a shameless advertorial? Yes, and no, respectively. The historical truth behind the former is next-door neighbours would knock at my door when I was knee-high to a grasshopper, to return our half-filled milk bottles, which I took from our own fridge and delivered to their doors in want to be a milkman! And now, well, ask me again when it’s snowing for a slightly differing opinion, but I’m living the dream!

    The answer to the latter is not really, no, you get paid for advertorials, I’m doing it out of the kindness of my heart, the circulation of news and the slim possibility they’ll chuck a yogurt at me, most likely at the head!

    If Planks have been delivering milk and products around the area since 1936, you’d be fooled into thinking nothing has changed. Agreeably not much has changed, and they pride themselves in upholding the traditional door-to-door milk delivery services, which is something of an obscurity in other areas of the UK. So much so, tourists tend to take photos when the milk-floats pass through town, and I’m likely having a bad hair day!

    However, just like the eighties when Stewart Plank introduced the electric fleet we know, love and occasionally get stuck behind today, times are changing at the legendary dairy. Hold the front page, we have a website! Click here, if you don’t believe such an oddity is possible!

    But the really great news is, in line with current trends, a new, locally sourced from Berkley Farm in Wroughton, organic range is heading our way. Delivered to your door in larger, returnable glass bottles, as is the sustainable living ethos Planks adopt, what with electric milk-floats and all, organic milk has never been this good; you don’t even have to change out of your jimmy-jams!

    Other than the PJs part, there are many benefits to buying organic, including higher levels of omega 3 fatty acids and CLA, more antioxidants, and more vitamins than regular milk. We’ve even got organic, or regular milkshakes. There’s a half price offer on your first order of the new organic range, whether you are a new customer or just changing your regular order.

    The delivery areas are Devizes, Melksham, Corsham, and Pewsey, and most surrounding villages from Poulshot, Potterne, Rowde, All Cannings, Urchfont, Chirton, Woodborough, Wilcot, Seend Cleeve, Bromham, Box, Colerne, Easterton Market Lavington, Great Cheverell and many others.

    By the way, as well as soya and lactose free milk, bread, butter, eggs, yogurts, juices (including a fine bottle of a’Becketts apple juice), seasonal potatoes, and yes, those broken biscuits you used to love as a kid, can be delivered too!

    And that’s it, contact the dairy-ologists and you’re one step closer to opening your door in the morning to find milk on the step, the way it has always been, prior to supermarkets undercutting dairy farmers, and the way it will continue at Planks. There’s nothing more for me to say, other than perhaps a milkman joke; why don’t cows wear flip-flops?

    Because they lack-toes!

    Okay, I’ll get my coat….


  • Full Steam Ahead for The Collected Grimm Tales at The Wharf Theatre

    Despite the gloomy pushback to the 19th July for step four of the roadmap to reopen venues, government announced plans to pilot test live theatrical performances with increased capacities, as it has already done for music festivals and sports events.

    While this will delight larger city venues, our Wharf Theatre in Devizes must continue with a limited socially distanced capacity for its reopening performance of The Brothers Grimm. All the more reason to book early for this delightful sounding family-orientated presentation!

    Collected Grimm Tales runs from Tuesday 13th to Saturday 17th July, with doors opening at 7.30pm.  It’s adapted by Carol Ann Duffy of the Young Vic Company, dramatized by Tim Supple and directed by Debby Wilkinson.

    In this acclaimed adaptation of Hansel and Gretel, Ashputtel, Rumpelstiltskin and more are bought to life by a small adult cast using a physical and non-natural style of performance.  It will take you on a journey into the world of imagination, as you discover the elusive paths that wind through the dark woods of fairy tales and invite you to experience again the living power of theatre.

    Tickets can be purchased by ringing 03336 663 366; from the website Wharftheatre.co.uk and at the Devizes Community Hub and Library on Sheep Street.

    The fitting with the prince onlooking, illustration in Les Contes de Perrault by Gustave Doré, 1862

  • Fiesty Fish will be at a’Becketts Vineyard on Saturday

    I don’t know where the ingenious pub name The Chocolate Poodle came from, or why it had to sadly close, but it always sounds like it should be the name of an East End pub to me, so, for fun, here’s a preview today written in cockney rhyming slang, (although there will be no jellied eels) with translation in brackets so not to ganderflank the yokels!

    Allwhite me ol China (mate)? Thee know those gorgeous lads with their gourmet Lilian Gish n jockey whips (fish n chips) slice (van) The Fiesty Fish, right? Well, usually they’re up at the ol’ Chocolate Poodle bath (pub) in West Lavington on a poet’s day (friday) evening, right?

    Well ave a Butcher’s (look) at this;

    This Saturday, June 19th, they’ll be driving a few yards up the Jack n Jill (hill), at a’ Becketts vineyard where you can try their fantastic sparkling Calvin (wine) while you get your laughing gear around yer tucker in the picturesque surroundings!

    Pre-order from their website and join them from 11am-2.30pm. That sounds sugar (nice), innit?! Roll out the barrel.

    Best way to locate these travelling fish n chips virtuosoes is to like their Facebook page.


  • Lions, be on the Green!

    Though for trade description purposes, there were no actual lions on the Green, (not this time, it’s not 1980) if I had to sum up The Lions on the Green in a word today it would be; blooming marvellous, which I know is two words, but allow me thus, the heat is getting to me.

    Under a scorching 30-degree sun, Devizes came out in full colour for something we’ve truly missed. Any kind of gathering right now is a blessing, but I have to commend and thank the amazing effort at creating a bonza family-orientated occasion. Devizes Lions pulled out all the stops with a car show plus.

    Fantasy Radio provided the soundtrack, there was a great selection of hot food and a bar with seating half in the shade of the trees, doughnut and ice cream vans, kids fairground rides, and a variety of stalls from Julia’s House tombola, Jeanette Von Berg’s Wiltshire Air Ambulance toy stall, local crafts, Rutts Lane Cider (I swear that guy is following me around!) Wiltshire Museum with their jack-in-the-box, and lots more to see and do for everyone.

    People flocked, to browse the vintage cars, and oh yes, Bertie the Bus, in the glorious sunshine. I’m not one for bragging my infinite knowledge of the mechanics of motor vehicles, but I appreciate perusing their splendour, imagine myself donning leather gloves and racing goggles, and revving them for a burn-out, or pondering the backseat space of, in particular, those American beauties; “take me home, Charles, I’m not that kind of girl!” Ah yes, that kind of ye oldie face-slapping scenario.

    In true community spirit Devizes should be honoured today, and glad to have the dedicated organisation Devizes Lions at hand. A town where even our post boxes wear knitted tams, there’s a buzz in the air, a pride we can’t hide. Well done to all!


  • Thirty Years a Raver: Part 5: The Final Frontier

    “If you’re hanging on to a rising balloon, you’re presented with a difficult decision – let go before it’s too late or hang on and keep getting higher, posing the question: how long can you keep a grip on the rope? They’re selling hippie wigs in Woolworth’s, man. The greatest decade in the history of mankind is over. And as Presuming Ed here has so consistently pointed out, we have failed to paint it black.”

    Danny from Withnail and I.

    I could read back on last week’s part of this series; definitely donning my designer rose-tinted specs. For it was our rave honeymoon, and we had not a care in the world. We partied, that was it. Ignoring the government ousted their iron lady, the first war for oil had escalated from Operation Desert Shield, and tensions were raging in Northern Ireland, we partied. We partied until the cows come home, and if they did come home, to find twenty thousand madcap ravers gyrating in their field, well, we’d have worked around them, and carried on the party.

    If I recounted the incident at the Banbury rave, with the careless driver taking heed of a crusty and significantly slowing down, someone on a Facebook group, DOCU FREE PARTY ERA 1990-1994 – WERE YOU THERE? reminded me of a tragic 1991 rave on Roundway Hill, near to my now hometown of Devizes. A young girl was seriously injured when a car run her over as she laid in long grass. An aide-memoire, not everything that glitters is gold.

    Myself, I didn’t attend it. So myopic, my vision extended no further than my own perception of the movement, naïvely assuming because I saw no issue, I could freely wheel-off my illicit activities to my old folks, and they’d be content. Unfortunately, they didn’t see it the same way, family tensions reached a peak, so I steered clear of the party that particular weekend; mates filled me in on the upsetting details.

    To push aside the parties, and think back to 1991 with clarity, it was a terrible year for me. I went into it with a girlfriend, a part-time job and place in art college. By the end of it I was filled with teenage anguish, lost girlfriend, job and was kicked out of college. The only truly fond memories were the parties, but Autumn was settling, raves continued, but as winter fell it waned.

    A party on New Year’s Eve would, in later years be my only winter cert, the rest fell into hibernation. But I’m struggling to recall what I did for it in 1991. We awaited 1992, assuming it will be the same, but bigger, better, and at the beginning, you’d have been fooled into thinking it would be so. 1992 vastly differed.

    Schemes to detect and prevent raves had stepped up a notch, as police waivered serious crime to focus on averting people having illegal fun. They put their foot down at the prospect of Hungerford common being invaded, but as sure as the Belthane came, the only thing they achieved was to move the party north, to Lechlade.

    Just as today, life in the Cotswold gateway was filled with conservative thinkers and powerful politicians, bombarded with complaints as the quarry was conquered and the party went on for days. For us, inside the compound, it was a magical moment, proof of strength in numbers. The media pounced more than ever, but, like all other things, be they current affairs, our own personal issues, none of it mattered.

    In fact, I, and I don’t think many others did either, contemplate the significance of the next bank holiday bash on Castlemorton common, near Malvern in Worcestershire, until the point we climbed a hillside and looked down on how much it had grown. An estimated forty thousand, so they reckoned. A fear shuddered over me; they were not going to let us get away with this.

    Only now, as they bashed the idea of the Criminal Justice Act around parliament in Castlemorton’s aftermath, did we become political, fighting for the right to party. But for the large-scale rave, it was the last. The government smashed the last nail in its coffin, and quashed an upcoming generation of rebellious, potential travelling folk.

    You see, raves were organised by sound systems, and folk from all walks of life flocked to attend, but whenever something went wrong at an illegal rave, the travellers took the blame from the media. At Romsey’s regular Torpedo Town not long after Castlemorton, the police were not playing ball, and consequently there was an aura of anarchy in the air. Under instruction, they set up road blocks, which ravers simply parked alongside and walked to the site. This moved the commotion from the site to the town, and ITV News invited everyone to join in, including troublemakers, who torched a rubbish incinerator.

    Outright, TV news teams blamed the travellers, and only a small report without apology followed some weeks later when they arrested two men from Birmingham, who had homes, and were not really defined as “ravers,” or “travellers” at all.

    Many sound systems jumped the sinking ship, trekking across Europe and further, which, in turn, spread the culture, but for us, we were just kids, I don’t think I even had a passport! But life did get better, I passed my driving test fortunately the week before Castlemorton, and I’d eventually flee the family nest. But as my facilities to attend raves improved, the free party scene drowned in its own popularity.

    The problem for authorities, was despite killing the physical party, they couldn’t cure the bug; the desire to carry on regardless. We only had to source other avenues. The first was the pay-rave, large-scale organised events saw a sudden influx.

    By the end of the year 92, not one for the officialness the epoch had become with pay raves, one on our doorstep seemed viable, a nice, easy ticket to see in 1993 seemed like a good idea. Fantazia had a good rep, but little did we know it had been swallowed by big businessmen. At Littlecote House they promised free parking, but made us cough up a fiver; should have been a clue. A number of broken promises let it down, but if disillusioning the punters, they aimed for, dumping the contents of the port-a-loos on a farmer’s track nearby was a step too far.

    Why did it matter to anyone other than the farmer? Because it projected bad on the scene, via media, it cast a shadow over our moral standards, all of us. Did Littlecote ever host another rave?

    For the most part, though, the pay raves dedicated loyally to the raver. The scene grew stronger for this, against the businessman capitalising on the trend, those pay events with morals could erect stages and effects which took on concert and festival proportions, and was largely responsible for the compatible atmosphere of today’s festival scene.

    But for the demise of the freedom, the self-determination of do-it-yourself counterculture and autonomy of the society it created within it, we paid the cost.

    For the record, while any specific event can not be singled out, many illegal events were indeed well, if not better, organised than the pay ones, they were policed in their own special way, i.e.; one respected the travellers for being on their site, or the sound systems for their efforts, else risk an almost mediaeval punishment.

    And for what it is worth, there was always an effort to clean up afterwards. Hard to imagine, after a heady night, these illegal ravers were handed bin bags, and they got onto the task without persuasion or wages, rather for the genuine want to return the land to how it was before their arrival, but it did. I can assure you; this didn’t happen at pay raves.

    Other avenues worthy of exploring was Glastonbury, bunk the fence and you were in a whole new world, a city of tents, but it took some years for the Eavis family to accept an incursion of ravers, with their electronic bleeps. Prior to a time when The Prodigy would headline, ravers were a lost entity at the festival, wandering miles with only the rumour of an apt party to hand. Being they too had driven the travellers off with riotous consequences, a rave remained a rumour, and most made do standing outside a stall selling blankets, marching to their small sound system.

    As we progressed through the nineties, smaller localised raves would break out. These were great, communal and friendly, and local police, while casting a beady eye, bypassed the Justice Bill rulings, acknowledging making a fuss about them was far more destructive than effective.

    The safest bet to party though, was the club. Prepared to travel some distance to go clubbing, we’d eventually explore London and Brighton, but for the beginnings we stayed closer. The UFO Club at Longleat’s Berkley Suite would be a fluorescent trancey techno ball, Swindon’s Brunel Rooms presented hardcore, with a side order of house, whereas the hall of Golddiggers in Chippenham blew full-on hardcore out of the arena and into the carpark, and it was free with a little flyer.

    It was in that same carpark, in conversation with an unknown straggler I had an epiphany. We asked him if he was having a good night, but he was negative. “I’m not going back in there,” he whined, “it’s all that jungle music.”

    It occurred to me then, the hardcore was splitting. The solemn shadowy drum n bass was dividing from the merry hi-hats, crashing pianos and squeaky female vocals of what the younger raver deemed “happy hardcore.” If it tended to be racially motivated, or just socially, I couldn’t pick a side, appreciating them both for their dividing differences. Now considered a more mature raver, we shipped into the steady house and let the factions pull apart into the thousands of subgenres electronic music now finds itself with.

    As we come to our final part of the series next week, I’m contemplating the effect and impact the free rave scene had, but lest we remember, for us it was over, and whatever avenue we did explore to satisfy our craving, it would never be the same.


Devizine’s Review of 2020; You Can’t Polish a Turd!

On Social and Political Matters……

For me the year can be summed up by one Tweet from the Eurosceptic MEP and creator of the Brexit Party, Nigel Farage. A knob-jockey inspired into politics when Enoch Powell visited his private school, of which ignored pleas from an English teacher who wrote to the headmaster encouraging him to reconsider Farage’s appointed prefect position, as he displayed clear signs of fascism. The lovable patriot, conspiring, compulsive liar photographed marching with National Front leader Martin Webster in 1979, who strongly denies his fascist ethos despite guest-speaking at a right-wing populist conference in Germany, hosted by its leader, the granddaughter of Adolf Hitler’s fiancé; yeah, him.

He tweeted “Christmas is cancelled. Thank you, China.” It magically contains every element of the utter diabolical, infuriating and catastrophic year we’ve most likely ever seen; blind traditionalist propaganda, undeniable xenophobia, unrefuted misinformation, and oh yes, the subject is covid19 related.

And now the end is near, an isolated New Year’s Eve of a year democracy prevailed against common sense. The bigoted, conceited blue-blooded clown we picked to lead us up our crazy-paved path of economic self-annihilation has presented us with an EU deal so similar to the one some crazy old hag, once prime minster delivered to us two years back it’s uncanny, and highly amusing that Bojo the clown himself mocked and ridiculed it at the time. I’d wager it’s just the beginning.

You can’t write humour this horrifically real, the love child of Stephen King and Spike Milligan couldn’t.

Still, I will attempt to polish the turd and review the year, as it’s somewhat tradition here on Devizine. The mainstay of the piece, to highlight what we’ve done, covered and accomplished with our friendly website of local entertainment and news and events, yet to holistically interrelate current affairs is unavoidable.

We have even separated the monster paragraphs with an easier, monthly photo montage, for the hard of thinking.

January

You get the impression it has been no walk in the park, but minor are my complaints against what others have suffered. Convenient surely is the pandemic in an era brewing with potential mass hysteria, the need to control a population paramount. An orthornavirae strain of a respiratory contamination first reported as infecting chickens in the twenties in North Dakota, a snip at 10,400km away from China.

Decidedly bizarre then, an entire race could be blamed and no egg fried rice bought, as featured in Farage’s audacious Tweet, being it’s relatively simple to generate in a lab, inconclusively originated at Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, rather spread from there, and debatably arrived via live bat or pangolin, mostly used in traditional Chinese medicine, a pseudoscience only the narrowminded minority in China trusts.

Ah, inconsistent pseudoscience, embellished, unfalsifiable claims, void of orderly practices when developing hypotheses and notably causing hoodwinked cohorts. Yet if we consider blaming an ethos, rather than a race, perhaps we could look closer to home for evidence of this trend of blind irrationality. Truth in Science, for example, an English bunch of Darwin-reputing deluded evangelicals who this year thought it’d be a grand and worthy idea to disguise their creationist agenda and pitch their preposterous pseudoscientific theory that homosexuality is a disease of the mind which can be cured with electro-shock treatment to alter the mind inline with the body’s gender, rather than change the body to suit the mind’s gender orientation, to schoolchildren!

Yep, these bible-bashing fruit-bats, one lower than flat earth theorists actually wrote to headmasters encouraging their homophobia to be spread to innocent minds, only to be picked up by a local headmaster of the LGBTQ community. Here’s an article on Devizine which never saw the light of day. Said that Truth in Science’s Facebook page is chockful with feedback of praise and appreciation, my comments seemed to instantly disappear, my messages to them unanswered. All I wanted was a fair-sided evaluation for an article, impossible if you zip up.

Justly, no one trusts me to paint an unbiased picture. This isn’t the Beeb, as I said in our 2017 annual review: The chances of impartiality here, equals the chances of Tories sticking to their manifesto. Rattling cages is fun, there’s no apologies I’m afraid, if I rattled yours, it just means you’re either mean or misguided.

Herein lies the issue, news travels so fast, we scroll through social media unable to digest and compose them to a greater picture, let alone muster any trust in what we read. I’m too comfortable to reside against the grain, everyone’s at it. I reserve my right to shamelessly side with the people rather than tax-avoiding multinationals and malevolent political barons; so now you know.

February

If you choose to support these twats that’s your own lookout, least someone should raise the alarm; you’d have thought ignoring World Health Organisation advise and not locking down your country until your mates made a packet on horseracing bets is systematic genocide and the government should be put on trial for this, combined with fraud and failure of duty. If not, ask why we’re the worst hit country in the world with this pandemic. Rather the current trend where the old blame the young, the young blame the old, the whites blame the blacks, the thin blame the fat, when none of us paid much attention to restrictions because they were delivered in a confused, nonsensical manner by those who don’t either, and mores to the pity, believe they’re above the calling of oppressive regulations.

If you choose to support these twats, you’re either a twat too, or trust what you read by those standing to profit from our desperation; ergo, twats. Theres no getting away from the fact you reep what you sow; and the harvest of 2020 was a colossal pile of twat.


Onto Devizine…. kind of.

For me what started as a local-based entertainment zine-like blog, changed into the only media I trust, cos I wrote the bollocks! But worser is the general obliteration of controversy, criticism and debate in other media. An argument lost by a conformer is shadowed behind a meme, or followed up with a witch hunt, a torrent of personal abuse and mockery, usually by inept grammar by a knuckle-dragging keyboard warrior with caps-lock stuck on; buy a fucking copy of the Oxford Guide to English Grammar or we’re all going to hell in a beautiful pale green boat.

We’re dangerously close to treating an Orwellian nightmare as a self-help guide, and despite fascists took a knockdown in the USA and common sense prevailed, the monster responded with a childish tantrum; what does this tell you? The simple fact, far right extremism is misled and selfish delinquency which history proves did no good to anyone, ever. Still the charade marches on, one guy finished a Facebook debate sharing a photo of his Boris “get Brexit done” tea-towel. I pondered when the idiot decided a photo of his tea towel would suffice to satisfy his opinion and convince others, before or after the wave of irony washed over his head in calling them Muppets.

I hate the term, it’s offensive. Offensive to Jim Henson’s creations; try snowflake or gammon, both judgemental sweeping generalisations but personally inoffensive to any individual, aside Peppa Pig. I wager you wander through Kent’s lorry park mocking the drivers and calling them snowflakes rather than tweeting; see how far you get.

So, the initial lockdown in March saw us bonded and dedicated, to the cause. We ice-skated through it, developed best methods to counteract the restrictions and still abide by them; it was kind of nice, peaceful and environmentally less impacting. But cracks in the ice developed under our feet, the idea covid19 was a flash in pan, akin to when Blitz sufferers asserted it’d all be over by Christmas, waned as we came to terms, we were in it for the duration.

Yet comparisons to WWII end there, lounging on the sofa for three months with Netflix and desperate peasants delivering essential foodstuff, like oysters, truffles and foie gras is hardly equivalent to the trench warfare of Normandy. Hypocritical is me, not only avoiding isolation as, like a nurse, my labour was temporarily clapped as key worker in March, I figured my site would only get hits if I wrote something about Covid19, and my ignorance to what the future resulted in clearly displayed in spoofy, ill-informed articles, Corona Virus and Devizine; Anyone got a Loo Roll? on the impending panic-buying inclination, and later, I Will Not Bleat About Coronavirus, Write it Out a Hundred Times…

The only thing I maintained in opinion to the subject, was that it should be light-hearted and amusing; fearing if we lose our sense of humour, all is lost. Am I wrong? Probably, it’s been a very serious year.

It was my first pandemic-related mention, hereafter nearly every article paid reference to it, no matter how disparate; it’s the tragedy which occupied the planet. But let’s go back, to oblivious January, when one could shake hands and knew where the pub was. Melksham got a splashpad, Devizes top councillors bleated it wasn’t fair, and they wanted a splashpad too. They planned ripping out the dilapidated brick shithouses on the Green and replacing it with a glorious splashpad, as if they cared about the youth of the town. I reported the feelings of grandeur, Splashpad, I’m all over it, Pal! A project long swept under the carpet, replaced with the delusion we’ll get an affordable railway station. As I said, convenient surely is the pandemic.

So many projects, so many previews of events, binned. Not realising at the time my usual listing, Half Term Worries Over; things to do with little ones during February half-term… would come to an abrupt halt. Many events previewed, the first being the Mayoral Fundraising Events, dates set for the Imberbus, and Chef Peter Vaughan & Indecision’s Alzheimer’s Support Chinese New Year celebration, to name but a few, I’m unaware if they survived or not.

March


On Music……

But it was the cold, early days of winter, when local concerns focused more on the tragic fire at Waiblingen Way. In conjunction with the incredible Liz Denbury, who worked tirelessly organising fundraising and ensuring donations of essentials went to the affected folk, we held a bash in commemoration and aid down that there Cellar Bar; remember?

It was in fact an idea by Daydream Runaways, who blew the low roof off the Cellar Bar at the finale. But variety was the order of the evening, with young pianist prodigy Will Foulstone kicking us off, opera with the amazing Chole Jordan, Irish folk with Mirko and Bran of the Celtic Roots Collective and the acoustic goodness of Ben Borrill. Thanks also has to go to the big man Mike Barham who set up the technical bits before heading off to a paid gig. At the time I vowed this will be the future of our events, smaller but more than the first birthday bash; never saw it coming, insert sad-face emoji.

We managed to host another gig, though, after lockdown when shopping was encouraged by In:Devizes, group Devizes Retailers and Independents, a assemblage of businesses set up to promote reopening of town. We rocked up in Brogans and used their garden to have a summer celebration. Mike set up again, and played this time, alongside the awesome Cath and Gouldy, aka, Sound Affects on their way to the Southgate, and Jamie R Hawkins accompanied Tamsin Quin with a breath-taking set. It was lovely to see friends on the local music scene, but it wasn’t the reopening for live music we anticipated.

Before all this live music was the backbone of Devizine, between Andy and myself we previewed Bradford Roots Music Festival, MantonFest, White Horse Opera’s Spring Concert, Neeld Hall’s Tribute to Eddie Cochran, and the return of Asa Murphy. We reviewed the Long Street Blues Club Weekender, Festival of Winter Ales, Chris O’Leary at Three Crowns, Jon Walsh, Phil Jinder Dewhurst, Mule and George Wilding at The White Bear, Skandal’s at Marlborough’s Lamb, and without forgetting the incredible weekly line-up at the Southgate; Jack Grace Band, Arnie Cottrell Tendency, Skedaddle, Navajo Dogs, Lewis Clark & The Essentials, King Street Turnaround, Celtic Roots Collective, Jamie, Tamsin, Phil, and Vince Bell.

The collection of Jamie R Hawkins, Tamsin Quin and Phil Cooper at the Gate was memorable, partly because they’re great, partly because, it was the last time we needed to refer to them as a collection (save for the time when Phil gave us the album, Revelation Games.) Such was the fate of live music for all, it was felt by their newly organised trio, The Lost Trades, whose debut gig came a week prior to lockdown, at the Pump, which our new writer Helen Robertson covered so nicely.

For me, the weekend before the doom and gloom consisted of a check-in at the Cavy, where the Day Breakers played, only to nip across to Devizes Sports Club, where the incredible Ruzz Guitar hosted a monster evening of blues, with his revue, Peter Gage, Innes Sibun and Jon Amor. It was a blowout, despite elbow greetings, I never figured it’d be the last.

It was a knee-jerk reaction which made me set up a virtual festival on the site. It was radical, but depleted due to my inability to keep up with an explosion of streamed events, where performers took to Facebook, YouTube sporadically, and other sites on a national scale, and far superior tech knowhow took over; alas there was Zoom. I was happy with this, and prompted streaming events such as Swindon’s “Static” Shuffle, and when PSG Choirs Showed Their True Lockdown Colours. Folk would message me, ask me how the virtual festival was going to work, and to be honest, I had no idea how to execute the idea, but it was worth a stab.

One thing which did change, musically, was we lowered our borders, being as the internet is outernational and local bands were now being watched by people from four corners of the world, Devizine began reviewing music sourced worldwide. Fair enough, innit?

The bleeding hearts of isolated artists and musicians, no gigs gave them time on their hands to produce some quality music, therefore our focus shifted to reviewing them, although we always did review records. Early local reviews of 2020 came from NerveEndings with the single Muddy Puddles, who later moved onto an album, For The People. Daydream Runaways’ live version of Light the Spark and Talk in Code’s Like That, who fantastically progressed through lockdown to a defining eighties electronica sound with later singles Taste the Sun and Secret.

We notified you of Sam Bishop’s crowdfunding for a quarantine song, One of a Kind, which was released and followed by Fallen Sky. Albums came too, we covered, Billy Green 3’s Still in January, and The Grated Hits of the Real Cheesemakers followed, With the former, later came a nugget of Billy Green’s past, revealing some lost demos of his nineties outfit, Still, evidently what the album was named after.

Whereas the sublime soul of Mayyadda from Minnesota was the first international artist featured this year, and from Shrewsbury, our review of Cosmic Rays’ album Hard to Destroy extended our presence elsewhere in the UK, I sworn to prioritise local music, with single reviews of Phil Cooper’s Without a Sound, TheTruzzy Boys’ debut Summertime, Courage (Leave it Behind), a new single from Talk in Code, and for Daydream Runaways’ single Gravity we gave them an extensive interview. This was followed by Crazy Stupid Love and compiled for an EP, Dreamlands, proving they’re a band continuously improving.

April

Probably the most diverse single around spring though was an epic drum n bass track produced right here in Devizes, featuring the vocals of Pewsey’s Cutsmith. Though while Falling by ReTone took us to new foundations, I ran a piece on the new blues sounds locally, as advised by Sheer Music’s Kieran Moore. Sheer, like all music promoters were, understandably, scrambling around in the dark for the beginnings of lockdown, streaming stuff. It wasn’t long before they became YouTube presenters! The Sheer podcast really is something special, in an era leaving local musicians as dry as Ghandi’s flip-flop, they present a show to make ‘em moist!

Spawned from this new blues article, one name which knocked me for six, prior to their YouTube adventures, was Devizes-own Joe Edwards. I figured now I was reviewing internationally; would it be fair to local musicians to suggest a favourite album of the year? However, Joe’s Keep on Running was always a hot contender from the start, and despite crashing the borders on what we will review, I believe it still is my favourite album of the year.

Other top local albums, many inspired from lockdown came flowing, perhaps the most sublime was Interval by Swindon’s reggae keyboardist virtuoso, Erin Bardwell. The prolific Bardwell later teamed with ex-Hotknive Dave Clifton for a project called Man on the Bridge.

Perhaps the most spacey, Devizes’ Cracked Machine’s third outing, Gates of Keras. Top local singles? Well, George Wilding never let us down with Postcard, from a Motorway, and after lockdown reappeared with his band Wilding, for Falling Dreams and later with a solo single, You Do You. Jon Amor was cooking with Peppercorn, which later led to a great if unexpected album, Remote Control.

There was a momentary lapse of reason, that live streaming was the musical staple diet of the now, when Mr Amor climbed out onto his roof to perform, like an ageless fifth Beatle. Blooming marvellous.

Growing up fast, Swindon’s pop singer Lottie J blasted out a modern pop classic with Cold Water, and no one could ignore Kirsty Clinch’s atmospheric country-pop goodness with Fit the Shoe.

Maybe though it wasn’t the ones recorded before, but our musicians on the live circuit coming out with singles to give them some pocket money, which was the best news. I suggest you take note of Ben Borrill’s Takes A Little Time, for example.

I made new friends through music, reviewing so many singles and EPs; Bath’s Long Coats, and JAY’s Sunset Remedy. Swindon’s composer Richard Wileman, guitarist Ryan Webb, and unforgettable Paul Lappin, who, after a couple of singles would later release the amazing acoustic Britpop album The Boy Who Wanted to Fly. Dirty and Smooth and Atari Pilot too, the latter gave us to cool singles, Right Crew, Wrong Captain, and later, Blank Pages. To Calne for End of Story and Chris Tweedie, and over the downs to Marlborough with Jon Veale’s Flick the Switch. I even discovered Hew Miller, a hidden gem in our own town.

May

But we geographically go so much further these days, even if not physically much more than taking the bins out. Outside our sphere we covered Essex’s Mr B & The Wolf, Limerick’s Emma Langford, London’s Gecko, and from the US, Shuffle & Bang, and Jim White. Johnny Lloyd, Skates & Wagons, My Darling Clementine, Micko and the Mellotronics, Typhoidmary, Frank Turner and Jon Snodgrass, Mango Thomas, Beans on Toast, Tankus the Henge; long may the list continue.

Bombino though, the tuareggae artist really impressed me, but I don’t like to pick a favourite, rather to push us onto another angle. I began reviewing stuff sent via my Boot Boy radio show, and covered a ska scene blossoming in South America. But as well as Neville Staple Band’s single Lockdown, The Bighead, the Bionic Rats, and Hugo Lobo teaming up with Lynval Golding and Val Douglas, we found reggae in Switzerland through Fruits Records, the awesome Cosmic Shuffling and progressive 808 Delavega.

So much music, is it going on a bit? Okay I’ll change the record, if you pardon the pun, but not until I’ve mentioned The Instrumental Sounds Of Ruzz Guitar’s Blues Revue, naturally, Sound Affects’ album Ley Lines, Tunnel Rat refurbing their studio, and Bristol’s freshest new hip hop act The Scribes. Ah, pause for breath.

Oh, and outside too, we did get a breather from lockdown and tiers, all Jamies for me, Mr R Hawkins was my first outing at the Gate and followed by Jamie Williams and the Roots Collective. Sad to have missed Two Man Ting and when The Big Yellow Bus Rocked the Gazebo, but hey, I thought we were out of the deep water.

June

Splashed straight back in again; “tiers” this time, sounds nicer than lockdown. Who knows what 2021 will bring, a vaccine, two vaccines, a mesh of both despite being ill-advised by experts? Just jab me, bitch, taxi me to the nearest gig, if venues still exist, by spring and I’ll shut up about it.


On Arts…..

Bugger, I’m going to need Google maps to find my local boozer. But yeah, they, whoever they are, think we’re all about music, but we cover anything arts and entertainment, you know? We previewed Andy Hamilton coming to Swindon’s Wyvern, Josie Long coming to Bath, The Return of the Wharf Theatre, and the county library tours of Truth Sluth: Epistemological Investigations for the Modern Age. Surely the best bit was being sent a private viewing of a new movie, Onus, by the Swindon filmmakers who gave us Follow the Crows.

I shared poems by Gail Foster, and reviewed her book Blossom. Desperate for subject matter I rewrote a short story Dizzy Heights. I featured artists Bryony Cox and Alan Watters, both selling their wares for the NHS, Ros Hewitt’s Glass Art open studio, Small Wonders Art Auction in aid of Arts Together and Asa Murphy published a children’s book, The Monkey with no Bum! I dunno, don’t ask.

July


On Food…

Despite my Oliver Twist pleads, we never get enough on the subject of grub. January saw us preview Peter Vaughan’s Chinese New Year dinner party in aid of Alzheimer’s Support and with music from Indecision, we covered DOCA’s Festival of Winter Ales, and looked forward to the Muck & Dunder’s Born 2 Rum festival, which was cancelled.

From here the dining experience reverted to takeaways, and I gave Sujay’s Jerk Pan Kitchen at big shout, and thought it best to wait until things reopened before singing Massimos’ praise, but I guess for now I should mention their awesome takeaway service next.

The Gourmet Brownie Kitchen supplied my welcomed Father’s Day gift, even nipped over to Swindon, in search of their best breakfast at the Butcher’s cafe, and recently I featured vegan blogger, Jill. Still though I need more food articles, as restaurants should take note, they’re extremely popular posts. Sadly, our while self-explanatory article, “We Cannot Let our Young People go Hungry; those locally rallying the call to #endchildfoodpoverty,” did quite well, at third most popular, the earlier “Eat Out to Help Out, Locally, Independently,” was our highest hitting of all; giving a sombre redefining of the term, dying to go out.

Back to my point though, food articles do so well, I’m not just after a free lunch, or maybe I am. But here, look, the fourth most popular article this year was our review of New Society, which was actually from 2019. Does lead us on nicely to the touchy subject of stats this year.

August


On Stats, Spoofs and the Future….

As well as an opportunity to review what we’ve done over the past year and to slag off the government, I also see this rather lengthy article which no one reads till the end of, a kind of AGM. It should be no surprise or disappointment, being this is a what’s-on guide, and being nothing was actually on, our stats failed to achieve what we hit in 2019. Though, it is with good news I report we did much better than 2018, and in the last couple of months hits have given me over the stats I predicted. Devizine is still out there, still a thing; just don’t hug it, for fuck’s sake.

I did, sometime ago, have a meeting with the publishers of Life In, RedPin. You may’ve seen Life in Devizes or various other local town names. The idea to put Devizine into print is something I’ve toyed with, but as it stands it seems unlikely. My pitch was terrible, my funds worse. If I did this it would cease to be a hobby and become a fulltime business, I’d need contributors, a sales department, I’d need an expert or ten, skills and a budget for five issues ahead of myself, and I tick none of those boxes. A risk too risky, I guess that’s why they call a risk a risk, watching the brilliant Ocelot reduced to online, publications suffer, the local newspaper house scrambling for news and desperately coming up with national clickbait gobbledygook, I know now is not the time to lick slices of tree with my wares.

So, for the near future I predict trickling along as ever. Other than irrational bursts of enthusiasm that this pandemic is coming to an end, I’ve given in updating our event calendar until such really happens. And it will, every clown has a silver lifeboat, or something like that.

September

Most popular articles then, as I said, desperation to return to normal is not just me, “Eat Out to Help Out, Locally, Independently,” was our highest hitting of all, whereas “We Cannot Let our Young People go Hungry; those locally rallying the call to #endchildfoodpoverty,” came in third. Nestled between two foodie articles our April Fools spoof came second. As much as it nags me, I have to hold up my hands and thank Danny Kruger for being a good sport. He shared our joke, Boris to Replace Danny Kruger as Devizes MP.

We do love a spoof though, and given a lack of events, I had time to rattle some off, A Pictorial Guide to Those Exempt from Wearing a Facemask, Guide to Local Facebook Groups pt1 (never followed up) The Tiers of a Clown, Sign the Seagull Survey, Bob! and Danny featuring again in The Ladies Shout as I go by, oh Danny, Where’s Your Facemask?! all being as popular as my two-part return of the once celebrated No Surprises columns, No Surprises Locked Down in Devizes.

Perhaps not so popular spoofs were The World’s Most Famous Fences! and Worst Pop Crimes of the Mid-Eighties! But what the hell, I enjoyed writing them. 


On Other News and Miscellaneous Articles……

I was right though, articles about lockdown or how we’re coping were gratefully received, and during this time, a needed assurance we weren’t becoming manically depressed or found a new definition of bored. Devizes together in Lockdown, After the Lock Down, Wiltshire is not Due a second Lockdown, the obvious but rather than bleating on the subject, how we celebrated VE Day in Devizes & Rowde, the Devizes Scooter Club auctioning their rally banner for the NHS, Town Council raising £750 to support the Devizes Mayor’s Charities, DOCA Announce Next Year’s Carnival & Street Festival Dates, DOCA’s Window Wanderland, and a Drive-In Harvest Festival! to boot. Town Council making Marlborough High Street a safer place, all came alongside great hope things would change, and pestering why not: The State of the Thing: Post Lockdown Devizine and How We Can Help, Open Music Venues, or Do They Hate Art? Opinion: House Party Organiser in Devizes Issued with £10,000 Fine.

 If Who Remembers our First Birthday Bash? Saw me reminiscing, I went back further when raves begun to hit the news. Covered it with Opinion: The End and Reawakening of Rave, and asked old skool ravers Would you Rave Through Covid? But we also highlighted others not adhering to restrictions With Rule of Six and Effects on Local Hunting and Blood Sports, it was nice to chat with Wiltshire Hunt Sabs.

October