Posts from 19th September 2000

Sep 00

EGG AND BARLEY – A Review of the Bull & Gate, Kentish Town

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EGG AND BARLEY – A Review of the Bull & Gate, Kentish Town: Wow, we’ve only been live for two hours and already I have had a mailed in contribution. (Not strictly true, this was sent to me, unsolicited a good week ago and now I have something to do with it. I’ll be attempting to get the author : Mr Dan Ward, to contribute more often.)

“Although I have just read a frightening musing which suggested that merely by being self aware and having an knowledge of Nathan Barley leaves me dangerously succeptible to the evils of his existence, I will persevere in the hope of righteousness, and attempt to say that the Bull And Gate (Kentish Town Road the editor assumes) is a fine pub. The down side is the expense of the food, although it is very good, but the up-side is that it is on my doorstep, almost literally. Also watch out for the b-list celebs that frequent the joint, namely Andrew ‘TV licence’ Lincoln, Rufus Sewell and their mates.

This may be a downer at first glance, but think of it this way, with reasonably priced and selected beer it is an opportunity to observe these creatures in their own habitat. With just a little self-respect you can stay here for hours and feel good about yourself, purely by not being one of the fops who regularly greet the voice-over artistes on first name terms, despite knowing them better as Egg et al. On a rare occasion you can even see a Barley (although not quite, because they are ‘working’ conducting an interview with a Goldsmith’s student on a mini-disc.) What a treat!”

Your editor has also spent the odd salubrious night in the Bull And Gate, and the odd slightly more unpleasant evening listening to lousy bands out back. The stage in the back room is literally three milk crates and a bit of plywood – which matches the PA’s lack of ability to strictly address the public. The pub appears suspicious from the front having had a far too competent lick of paint of late. Still, must go back.


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LISTEN TO YOUR STOMACH: Good God! Some lunatic has compiled a Guide To Pork Scratchings, complete with stomach-turning photographic evidence. Meditation on scratchings to follow, possibly.


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STRIKE IT RICH: First in a series of ‘Apalling Quizzer’ spotlights. Actually the Strike It Rich quiz machine isn’t so dreadful, though it does provide very minor thrills it’s still a winner in comparison to Underground or the one which makes you put four deep-sea fish in reverse weight order. Mostly blogged to point out the amusing use of scare quotes which the web designer (presumably) has snuck into the Strike It Rich blurb page, and to open my much-overdrawn account with the “popular” PPBlog.


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CHEERS: Okay I’ve been nagged enough by the other contributors to Pumpkin Pubs, and mainly Tom Ewing: who’s sparkling prose can be found at Blue Lines, nylpm and pretty much all over Freaky Trigger (which is only fair as it is his website). All well worth going to for a good read.

So what is Pumpkin Publog. It is an extension, and now the new lifeblood of Pumpkin Pubs which is itself an offshoot of Pumpkin State. The idea of Pumpkin Pubs was to provide a constantly expanding set of reviews of London boozers. It floundered because there was only so much one could say about pubs, and whilst the list of contributors were all good, it did not quite succeed.

So to the publog. This will be a team blog, and if you want to join please e-mail me on The idea will be to continue to provide an easily accessible way of putting in thoughts about mine and your pub going. Since this could just be a paragraph, it will be easier to access and then, when I think I have enough for a proper review, the bits and bobs will be edited to sit by the others (maps included).

However the publog also is availible for your musings about the pub experience, on booze, conversational gambits, jukebox ettiquette and anything else that you might want to bring to our attention. So if you are interested, keep reading, and why not join in?

BADLY DRAWN BOY – Hour Of The Bewilderbeast

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BADLY DRAWN BOY – Hour Of The Bewilderbeast

It won a prize, don’t you know? But trust me, all you need to know about this years Mercury Prize winner is encapsulated in its title. The album is an hour long. Question is, what came first, the album title or the record? An hour is long for a debut release, for any album, but this is supposedly stocked with eighteen tracks, eighteen goodies. It does not quite count if a fair proportion of these tracks are actually separate recording of the other tracks string arrangements, or extended intro’s. I’m not saying you’re being cheated, I’m saying this is actually an album of ten tracks – some very long – plus some backing music.

That’s the kind of cheeky stuff you would expect of the bobble hatted British Beck (tm the deaf fool who thought it up). Gough is obviously nothing like Beck, the genre’s he is straddling here are pastoral British folk and pop, and he drops the ball more often than not on both counts. If this album sounds like anyone, its Elliot Smith; the string arrangements are lush and the vocals – if lyrically pretty bereft of meaning – are generally plaintive.

Unfortunately the derivation of the word plaintive is plain, and that is what the majority of the tracks on this album are. The arrangements may be like Smith, but the vocals are bog standard sensitive Brit-Rock. The vaunted experimentalism on the record is limited to the odd percussion loop, which is no more than you get on your average Paul McCartney record these days. Indeed the simple technique of phasing between left and right channels which occurs on ‘This Song’ is about the first production effect ever used – from the moment stereo was invented. Underused because it is less unsettling, than annoying. People think that BDB has a dance edge to him because he is on a dance label, XL. I suppose its an easier assumption than just listening to the damn record.

I’ll admit to liking ‘Once Around The Block’ last year. It was a good summery pop record, with a nice acoustic wah-wah guitar and a nice jaunty air. Production wise it stands out a mile from the rest of the album, as does its tune. Most of the other tracks here are dripping with pointless orchestration – none more so than the overblown opener ‘The Shining’: fluglehorn and all. This is followed by an attempt to get all lo-fi and dirty, for which read badly recorded and not well written – on the absurdly titled “Everybodys Stalking”. Indeed the title of that track, and the title of the album as I said, say it all. ‘The Hour Of The Bewilderbeast’ promises us a baffling cornucopia of musical ideas much like a ‘You don’t have to be mad to work here‘ sign tells you that its owner is terribly staid. Instead we get something which sits uncomfortably between Nick Drake and the ballads of Go West. Which merely provokes bewilderment when you wonder what the judges saw in it.

MR AND MRS – Not Strictly Music

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MR AND MRS – Not Strictly Music

I know, its a gameshow. But I include it here for a simple reason. The gist of the show is that they ask one member of said married couple questions about the other member. And so that party two does not hear said answers they lock them in my idea of heaven. That’s right, they lock them in a soundproof booth.

And then they play music to them.

Ever know what its like to have heaven torn from your grasp? I got married to go on that show, just to try out the booth. And then they pipe the fucking Girl From Ipenema at me.

The Guardian

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The Guardian covers Pop Bitch: “The only thing we do which is really libellous is a thing on celebrities who have large penises – but we kind of assume no one would sue about that.”.

ALL ABOUT EVE – Martha’s Harbour

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ALL ABOUT EVE – Martha’s Harbour

I have a dark secret, dear reader. You know I say I hate music. Well, I genuinely do. However there has been a time when I actually envied, actually wanted to physically be a genuine bona fide pop star. Well, a second rate sub goth pop star, but in my youth I could not tell the difference. Yes, dear reader, there was a time when I wanted to be Julianne Regan of All About Eve.

I know what you’re thinking. With all the softer goth boys lusting after me I’d never want for foundation or mascara again. To laugh at the thoroughly literal way the softer goth girls took the lyrics of ‘Flowers In Her Hair’ and wore roses in their blacky-purple hair. Ah, as Poison said – every rose has its thorn, just like every Casualty department had fey white faced girls with scalp lacerations whenever the Eve were in town. All these are fine reasons to want to be the silver tongued distant relative of possibly the most mentally retarded President the US have ever had. But I only wanted to be Ms Regan for one moment of glory. For their performance to their lack-of-power ballad Martha’s Harbour on Top Of The Pops.

As any half arsed TV bloopers compilation show will tell you, this moment has gone down in history. The song playing, and the band standing around picking their nose and not doing anything. Maybe flicking. And this is when I would have liked to slip into Regan’s skin. Not because I enjoy humiliation on national television. More for the reason that the band stood like absolute fools because they did not know the song was playing, they did not know their turn on the mime was up. This was due to the fact that they, unlike everyone in the country with a television, could not hear the dirgey water based ballad. Lucky sods. What I would have given to be the only person not to be able to hear the Eve somewhat unusually comparing their relationship between that of an ocean wave and a galley slave – for the mere reason that they rhyme. Ah, the blissful silence of the Top Of The Pops studio.