I am a London-based Digital PR/Social Media/SEO Consultant, music producer/anorak, deep sea diver, avid cyclist, worldwide traveller and football-loving technology bod! This page functions as a kind of online scrapbook/resource featuring my favourite blog posts and news items as well as my own personal reviews and recommendations in the worlds of music, sport, travel and technology!

Sunday, 27 July 2008


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Monday, 3 March 2008

Underworld at The Roundhouse, London - Review

Mention the word Underworld to most people and they think one of three things:

1. Are you about to offer me stolen goods?
2. That's that dingy club in Camden full of smelly goths and metalheads innit?
3. Weren't they that dance band who wrote that 'Lager, Lager' tune as part of the Trainspotting soundtrack when I was in the height of my clubbing phase?

Indeed, the latter is true for most of my generation. But what most people don't seem to realise, is the amazing body of work and live success Underworld have achieved since they were first launched into the music spotlight following the success of 'Born Slippy'.

They actually became one of the most crucial electronic acts of the 1990s via an intriguing synthesis of old and new.

The trio's two-man frontline, vocalist Karl Hyde and guitarist Rick Smith, had been recording together since the early-'80s new wave explosion; after two unsuccessful albums released during the late '80s, the pair finally hit it big when they recruited a young DJ called Darren Emerson who hipped to the sound of techno and house. Traditional pop song forms were jettisoned in favor of Hyde's heavily treated vocals, barely there whispering, and surreal wordplay, stretched out over the urban breakbeat trance while Smith's cascade of guitar-shard effects provided a bluesy foil to the stark music. All in all, the decision to go pop was hardly a concession to the mainstream.

The first Underworld album by the trio, Dubnobasswithmyheadman, appeared in late 1993 to a flurry of critical acclaim; the trio then gained U.S. distribution for the album with TVT. Second Toughest in the Infants, the group's sophomore LP, updated their sound slightly and received more praise than the debut. Unlike the first, the LP also sold well, thanks in part to the non-album single "Born Slippy," featured on the soundtrack to the seminal film Trainspotting.

The roots of Underworld go back to the dawn of the 1980s. The group released Doot-Doot in 1983 and Get Us out of Here two years later, but later disintegrated. Hyde worked on guitar sessions for Debby Harry and Prince, then reunited with Smith in 1988 to form an industrial-funk band called Underworld. The pair earned an American contract with Sire and released their debut album, Underneath the Radar, in 1988. Change the Weather followed one year later, even though little attention had been paid to the first. By the end of the decade, Underworld had disappeared also.

As they had several years earlier, Hyde and Smith shed their skin yet again, recruiting hotshot DJ Darren Emerson and renaming themselves Lemon Interrupt. In 1992, the trio debuted with two singles, "Dirty"/"Minneapolis" and "Bigmouth"/"Eclipse," both released on Junior Boys Own Records. 1993's "Rez" and "MMM...Skyscraper I Love You" caused a minor sensation in the dance community. Instead of adding small elements of techno to a basically pop or rock formula (as many bands had attempted with varying success), Underworld treated techno as the dominant force. Their debut album, Dubnobasswithmyheadman, was praised by many critics upon release later in 1993 and crossed over to the British pop charts. Darren Emerson, Hyde, Smith impressed many at their concert dates as well; the trio apparently relished playing live, touring Great Britain twice plus Japan, Europe, and the annual summer-festival circuit, where their Glastonbury appearance became the stuff of legend.

Dubnobasswithmyheadman was released in the U.S. in 1995 after being licensed to TVT Records. During the rest of the year, Underworld were relatively quiet, releasing only the single "Born Slippy." Finally, Second Toughest in the Infants appeared in early 1996 to much critical praise. The trio gained no small amount of commercial success later in the year when "Born Slippy" was featured on the soundtrack to Trainspotting, the controversial Scottish film that earned praise from critics all over the globe. Underworld also remained busy with Tomato -- their own graphic-design company responsible for commercials from such high-profile clients as Nike, Sony, Adidas, and Pepsi -- and remixing work for various top artists. Emerson continued to DJ on a regular basis, releasing mix albums for Mixmag! and Deconstruction. Though Underworld's 1999 LP Beaucoup Fish was initially a disappointment, critically and commercially, the band continued to tour the world. The live album Everything, Everything followed in 2000, after which Emerson left to continue his DJ career. A Hundred Days Off, Underworld's first LP as a duo since 1989, was released in mid-2002. One year later, the stopgap compilation 1992-2002 appeared.

By 2005, the duo had recorded new material for the soundtrack of the film Breaking and Entering. Their first "proper" full-length since 2002, Oblivion with Bells, appeared in 2007.

This weekend's gig at the Roundhouse was truly memorable for me in many ways - not because of the venue, the amazing live sound techniques and Abelton jams, all the classic tunes they played, the fantastic stage set they choreographed, Rick Hyde's silver suit and chicken dancing but the crowd who were probably one of the most energetic and up-for-it crowds I've ever seen at a gig - mainly early-30-something's who were there for a nostalgic time-travel journey back to those heady early-raving days. I also caught up with an old friend I hadn't seen in 10 years! Click the YouTube link below to see a mobile-phone video of the gig:


Long live Live Dance Music!

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Earthquake Hits London Town

Err...did I miss something? You wait most of your life to experience an earthquake then it goes by in a flash before even getting the chance to put on a Shakin Steven's record while your house collapses..tsk..tsk By Paul Majendie Reuters - Wednesday, February 27 10:54 am

LONDON (Reuters) - An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.2 shook parts of Britain on Wednesday but officials said there were no reports of anyone being killed or serious damage.

In Barnsley, a man was injured in the pelvis when a chimney collapsed and plunged through the roof of his bedroom, said an ambulance service spokeswoman. The man was taken to hospital.

"(The quake) was really bad. I was fast asleep and woke up and the room was shaking," Jemma Harrison, who lives in Manchester, told the BBC.

Soon after the quake occurred the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) estimated the magnitude at 4.7, but the British Geological Survey later raised the figure to 5.3 before settling on 5.2.

The USGS said on its Web site the quake's epicentre was 127 miles north of London and 50 miles east of Sheffield.

"We have no reports of injuries (in London)," said a police spokesman in the capital.

Police in Lincolnshire said some people had reported minor damage to their homes.

The quake was the largest to hit Britain since one with a magnitude of 5.4 in 1984.

"This is a significant earthquake for the UK and will have been widely felt across England and Wales," said seismologist Brian Baptie of the British Geological Survey.

(Editing by Ralph Gowling)

Essential Listening

The Black Seeds - Into The Dojo - 9/10 Classic New Zealand Reggae at its very best. If you like NZ bands like Fat Freddy's Drop, Salmonella Dub and Katchafire then you'll love this classic sundrenched album of disctinctively catchy and amazingly produced music. Dexter Wansel - Life On Mars - 7/10 Classic and rare album of spacey, psychedelic 80's jazz/funk from the one and only Dexter Wansel. Stand-out tracks for me would have to be 'Life On Mars' and 'You Can Be What You Wanna Be' - like being chased through the filmset of 'Starsky and Hutch' 20 minutes before your audition as an extra for 'Chips' on acid. Nine Inch Nails - Year Zero - 9/10 I've always had a great deal of respect for innovative rock bands who embrace electronics and push generic barriers into previously undiscovered territory and Nine Inch Nails are one of those bands. This has to be one of their best albums and the group prove their worth as one of the most popular and original rock/industrial/electronicgoth/call-it-what-you-want bands on the planet today. Stand-out tracks for me are the groovy 'Good Soldier', 'Capitol G', 'The Warning', 'Meet Your Master', 'In This Twilight' and the parting 'Zero Sum'. Stunning album Radiohead - In Rainbows - 9/10 All I can say is that Radiohead are The Beatles of our generation. Pure genuis. Buy this and show your respect. Swayzak - Smile And Receive EP - 8/10 Ever since meeting these pair of hilarious Scottish characters back in the days of Groovetech Radio when I had the pleasure of getting royally twatted with them while they spun over the airwaves, I've always had a lot of respect for their sound and dedication to pushing the dubby tech house sound around the globe. This EP is a classic slice of underground, soulful tech house at its finest - surely one for the dancefloors of Fabric, Wiggle, Kerfuffle and Superfreq. Check out their MySpace for more information on their tour schedule: http://www.myspace.com/swayzak Classic Track Of The Week Prince - 'Head' Old school funk at its finest from the master - one to rock any party and get people dancing

Tim Westwood - what a twat!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/westwood/soundboard.shtml he's such a twat. i love this Laughing

Busted live up to their name - commercial music industry more corrupt than ever

Busted members in royalties fight
Busted members James Bourne, Charlie Simpson and Matt Willis
Busted had eight top 10 hits between 2002 and 2004
Two original members of boy band Busted have gone to court, claiming an estimated £10m in unpaid royalties.

Ki McPhail and Owen Doyle say they wrote songs with James Bourne and Matt Willis when the group formed in 2001.

But they claim they were forced to sign away their rights after "threats" and "undue pressure" when they were sacked from the band later that year.

The songs include Year 3000 and What I Go To School For, which went on to be huge hits for the now-defunct group.

Mr McPhail and Mr Doyle were in a band called The Termites with Mr Bourne and Mr Willis between January and October 2001, the High Court in London heard.

'In the dark'

They also wrote songs including Sleeping with the Light On and Psycho Girl together during that time, the claimants said.

That March, the four signed a deal with a professional management company, changing their name to Busted the following month.

In October, however, Mr McPhail and Mr Doyle say they were kicked out of the group and coerced into signing an agreement that released their claim to the group's material.

The pair said they were not told record label Universal liked the songs and had offered Busted a lucrative record deal when they signed the agreement.

'Undue influence'

They are now seeking to set aside that agreement on the basis of undue influence and misrepresentation.

Tim Penny, representing the pair, said: "The pressure placed on the claimants consisted of repeated advice and threats.

He said they were told "unless they released their claims in relation to the group members' songs and in particular the four songs, they would be sued, Ki McPhail's parents would lose their home and the claimants would never work in the industry again".

Singer Charlie Simpson subsequently joined the group, remaining with them until they split up in 2005.

The case continues at the High Court before Mr Justice Morgan. The hearing is expected to last 15 days.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Interesting London Underground blog worth reading


Grass Roots Football

Over the next 14 weeks, Football Hurts charts the life of grass roots football and has been covering my beloved AFC Wimbledon as part of the programme, including the men's, ladies, supporters and some youth teams. So far I have not been featured in an interview, but will try and do my best to get my dodgy mug in as many background shots possible during future games: The next programme is on this Thursday on Sky 207 at 10pm. Go here for more info: http://www.footballhurts.co.uk/

Anyone for a bit of proper old school disco/funk?

I don't know about you, but with the winter months getting longer and longer, I personally need some uplifting music and funky vibes to get me through my train journeys into work - so you could do a lot worse than downloading this FREE classic disco/funk mix onto your iPOD: http://www.megaupload.com/?d=08RL6F61 Tracklisting Alton Edwards - I just wanna (spend some time with you) BT Express - Uptown Express D-Train - Keep on Sharon Redd - Beat The Street (instrumental) Con-funk-shun - Burnin love The Strikers - Contagious (francios k mix) Aretha Franklin - Jump to it Barbara Mason - Another Man Katie Kissoon - You're the one Fatback band - She's a go-getter Mass production - Victory 83 The System - Heartbeat of the city Lillo Thomas - Settle down The Bar-kays - She talks to me with her body Gwen Guthrie - It should have been you Tom Browne - Brighter tomorrow

Get out of my face Bono you twat!

I was lucky enough to go and see the screening of U2's new 3D movie at the iMax last week and while I love their music and respect them primarily as song writers and masters of their craft who have worked tirelessly over the years to get to the dizzy heights they have reached, I couldn't help but think that their PR company came up with this whole concept in order to further capitalize on the huge fortunes they have already accrued and mainly through lack of other ideas. Whilst it was fantastic to see and hear 'Sunday, Bloody Sunday' in 3D sound and vision - I still feel that creating such media hype around a video such as this which in all honesty, wasn't that much better than any previous live videos they've released, plus having to put up with Bono getting all 'up-close and personal' considering he's a fat fucker these days, a tad bit desperate and cringeworthy. One thing you can always rely on with U2 is that they will always deliver great songs and a solid live performance. Here is NME's take on things:

U2 go supersize in new 3-D movie

U2's film 'U2 3D' had its London premiere on the UK’s biggest screen - the IMAX - last night (February 5) in front of a bespectacled audience. The band's latest release is the first ever live action three dimensional digital film. 'U2 3D' – which premiered at the Sundance Festival last month – is a montage from several spectacular Latin American shows from their 2005-6 Vertigo tour shot with new 3-D technology. The effect is startling – a giant Bono occasionally looms into your face, people lurched backwards to avoid a mic-stand and you can almost touch the fingers of waving Argentinian fans. Given the sheer size of the screen, viewers were able to feel as if they were in the thick of the slightly rally-like excitement, just with extra added popcorn, and of course, ridiculous glasses. Bono, who attended the Sundance premiere, admitted he’d rather not have seen himself in all his 3-D cinematic glory. He said: “It's bad enough on a small screen. Now you get to see the lard arse 40 foot tall." The setlist is as follows: 'Vertigo' 'New Year's Day' 'Beautiful Day' 'Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own' 'Love And Peace Or Else' 'Sunday Bloody Sunday' 'Bullet The Blue Sky' 'Miss Sarajevo' 'Pride (In The Name Of Love)' 'Where The Streets Have No Name' 'One' 'The Fly' 'With Or Without You' 'Yahweh'

Sex Pistols to play at this year's EXIT Festival

I'm off to the Exit festival this summer and am over the moon to have found out that the greatest Punk band ever will be headlining. BRING. IT. THE. FUCK. ON July 13 2008 / Main Stage Although they lasted only three years, they have recorded one album and four singles, which forever changed the world music scene. At the Exit, they will perform in their original line-up: Johnny Rotten, vocals, Steve Jones, guitar, Glen Matlock, bass guitar, and Paul Cook, drums. Best of all, after 30 years, the fans at Exit will get the opportunity to hear the new songs of this legendary British band. According to egigs.co.uk, Paul Cook confirmed this possibility, but he also expressed his doubt regarding the release of a new album, since John and Steve live in USA, whereas Glen and he are in the UK. "We might not pull together an album but hopefully there will be some new stuff in time for the summer," said Paul Cook. The Sex Pistols are not the first punk band, but they certainly are the band which participated in the making of the massive independent underground scene in England and America. The release of the album "Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols" is considered as one of the most important events in the history of the popular music, and the album is regularly cited on lists of the greatest albums ever. In 1987, Rolling Stone Magazine listed this album at No.2 on the "Top 100 Albums of the Last 20 Years"; while in 2004, it was listed at No. 58 on their list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time". In Q Magazine, the only Pistols' album ranked No. 27 on their list of the "100 Greatest Albums Ever".
Their live performances became legendary. Such was the show in Manchester, in June 1976, when they performed to a crowd of just 42 people. This show became one of the most important and the most mythologized live acts in rock history, since among the audience were many people who are today significant for the punk history, including Anthony H. Wilson (founder of Factory Records), Bernard Sumner, Ian Curtis, Peter Hook, Adam Ant, Morrissey, Mick Hucknall... If it were not for this band, many musicians would not have existed. Often, these musicians didn't even have a direct musical connection to the Sex Pistols' initial three-minute blasts of rage. Bands which have been influenced by the Sex Pistols include The Clash, The Offspring, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Nirvana, NOFX, Oasis, Green Day... When Johnny Rotten joined the original line-up, which comprised Steve Jones, Glen Matlock and Paul Cook, the band played simple rock & roll, but Rotten instantly and arrogantly started singing about anarchy, violence, fascism and apathy. In this way, he provided the band's conceptual direction � to oppose the British Royal Family and authority as much as possible. Soon afterwards, the band released the singles "Anarchy in the U.K." and "God Save the Queen", and following was the record "Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols". BBC refused to broadcast the second single, and Matlock was fired. According to popular legend, it happened because he liked The Beatles. Matlock was replaced by Sid Vicious, a street kid, a guy who could not play bass, self-appointed ultimate Sex Pistols fan... He was recruited on account of his punk attitude and his look. The manager of the Sex Pistols Malcolm McLaren explained: "If Rotten is the voice of punk, then Vicious is the attitude." Sid Vicious died from a heroin overdose on 2nd February 1979. The Sex Pistols disbanded soon after the release of their first and only album "Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols", and only 14 days after the beginning of the American tour. In 1996, the Sex Pistols reunited for their 20th anniversary, and since then, they have occasional live performances. When asked about their unexpected reunion, Rotten stated: "We have found a common cause, and it's your money". www.sex-pistols.net www.myspace.com/philsingleton

Smashing Pumpkins at the 02

I was lucky enough to be given a free VIP Box pass to see The Smashing Pumpkins at the 02 Arena last week. Whilst I thought they played a quality set and didn't seem to miss a beat, they definately could have played a few more classics. Nevertheless, they are still the greatest alternative rock band of all time in my opinion. Here is a review of the gig from GIGWISE:

Saturday 16/02/08 The Smashing Pumpkins @ The O2 Arena, London

by Jon Bye 18/02/2008 Photo by Carsten Windhorst

Billy Corgan

Triumphal returns have been famed since biblical days. But it spoils the fun too if the returnee is just that too damn cock sure of themselves. The Smashing Pumpkins are a super successful band, and The O2 is a super successful arena. But the super hugeness of both of these things are dwarfed in comparison by Billy Corgan’s super-sized ego. Playing well is not a challenge for this reformed Pumpkins line up and it would be easy to decorate the entire two-and-a-half hour set list with pure gold without ever having to play a weak song. Yet for Corgan, tastefully wearing a silver patchwork skirt seemingly stolen from a robot hooker, tonight is about playing what he wants rather than the audience. It takes three uninspired songs from their early days and most recent album Zeitgeist before there is a real sense of the evening getting going with the formidable ‘Tonight Tonight’.

Billy Corgan of The PumpkinsFrom there it’s onto the song that launched a thousand alt. bands, ‘Mayoniase’. Over 15 years since its inception, it still sounds seminal enough to launch another thousand more bands. Now moving into this mid-section of the set list and being bombarded with hit after hit, it’s almost a return to the glory days. Juxtaposing the energetic new material such as ‘Come on (Let’s Go)’ with the dainty ‘Perfect’ illustrates the diversity of this band when in its full swing. And followed by the shining jewels ‘Today’, ‘Stand Inside Your Love’ and ‘Ava Adore’, it’s a feeling of sheer elation to be a witness to this rock spectacular. The usually dour Corgan even cracks jokes before ‘Drown’, then hits the audience with a surreal yet enticing rendition of Girls Aloud’s ‘Call the Shots’ before a before a heart breaking solo acoustic rendition of ‘1979’. Truly this is the best the Pumpkins have ever been.

Except this isn’t really the Pumpkins, and its hard to not notice the stark contrast between the original members in their casual attire compared with new bassist Ginger Reyes and new guitarist Jeff Schroeder’s bright red uniformed barbs. No, this is still Corgan’s show as it always has been, and having got the formalities of the hits out of the way, Corgan moves on to perform the ego boosters. And while good to hear outings for ‘The Everlasting Gaze’ and rarity ‘Cash Car Star’, the weakness of ‘Daydream’ and ‘Wound’ at the end of the set is confounded only by the epic pointlessness of ‘United States’ – easily the weakest track on Zeitgeist and as close to the Pumpkins’ good material as man is to the moon.

A final snub comes in the choice of encore. Having endured 10 minutes of guitar wankery and feedback nonsense, an expectant audience hopes of so far unplayed gems like ‘Zero’ or ‘Cherub Rock’. Instead this melodrama is concluded with ‘Sugar Kisses’ as a tribute to Echo and the Bunnymen, leaving fans mixed in their feelings to what they have witnessed tonight.

Such a big gig as this was only ever going to go Corgan’s way. And looking back at the set list written down this was an evening of anthems. But as with most the new material from these new Pumpkins, something just doesn’t fit right about the night. On reflection there can only be one final question: who wanted to relive the glory days more – 20,000 fans or Billy Corgan? I’m almost certain the answer to that is the man at the end of the spotlight

Gizmo Magazine

Bored of reading Stuff and Boys Toys? Well a new magazine called Gizmo is about to be launched to fill the gap in the consumer-tech publishing space: http://www.gizmomag.co.uk/registration/ Well worth a read..

Dear Old Brighton

I had to go down to Brighton yesterday for a meeting and to catch up with an old friend who I haven't seen in years. Easy drive - just a bastard getting out of Croydon with all the chavs queuing up to buy their new sofas from Ikea so that they can sit back all weekend and stuff their faces while watching Eastenders and moaning. Everytime I go down to Brighton, an overwhelming sense of relaxation always hits me as soon as I drive through the arches. There is definately some kind of undescribable magic down there - something lifts all the stresses and strains of London from your shoulders. It purifies you. Maybe it's the sea air, the seagulls flying all over the place or just the sense of freedom. Considering it's only an hour's drive from London, it really couldn't be a more different place. Such a mix of people from all walks of life - a mixture of Bath, North London, Notting Hill, France, Brixton, with a dash of San Francisco and it's own unique personality all rolled into one. Students walking around high on weed without a care in the world, musicians sitting in cafe's discussing their next album, hippies walking their dogs on the way to their art studio, uber-trendy media boffins sipping £3.00 latte's over their laptops...oh, and property developers.....fuckers...It really is an interesting and vibrant place - a place with an edge but yet so chilled. People just seem to float around and live in their own bubbles down there..they have this kind of love affair with their city.. I used to spend a lot of time in Brighton in my mid-twenties going to the Concorde 2 and the infamous illegal 'Positive Sound System' beach parties with my mad Irish ex-girlfriend and her mates. I practically lived down there for a year or so visiting various people and partying so it bought back a lot of fun memories. It's a shame I never got into Brighton or Sussex Uni as it has to be one of the best places to study in the UK. A LOT of fun to be had there as a student that's for sure.. I did for a minute think I'd love to move there, but then realised that ultimately it's the kind of place you can live for a few years then move back to the big smoke from. There doesn't seem to be much opportunity there compared to London if you work in the media like I do but the quality of living and people really seem to make the place special. It's more about a way of life and an attitude in Brighton that the locals seems to adopt. They don't live for material means, but rather to have a simple, stress-free life..if I made music full-time I could live there very comfortably but ultimately for me, it's great for a weekend away, but not to live....I think...although I'm not sure....maybe I should give it a try??? Nah, that's not gonna happen.. Anyway, on walking back to the car after saying goodbye to Lloyd and Sarah, I picked up a leaflet that had the following poem on it which I thought was quite funny: SEAFRONT BRIGHTON You have no reservations the signs in your eyes say Bed & Breakfast

Like a Rolling Stone

One of the best things about my job apart from getting endless freebies and going for lunch with journalists all day, is working to promote and raise awareness for all kinds of cutting-edge products, services and organisations. I've helped launch the Nintendo DS in the UK, promoted the PSP 2, launched Carlsberg's original pint pulling pump, started a mobile phone trend called 'Mobification' in association with Orange, persuaded Phil Tufnell to write a feature on Poker hungover, launched Marcel Desailly's testamonial game at Chelsea football club (which later got cancelled), made Jarvis Cocker wear a pair of Levi jeans on Top Of The Pops, positioned Morcheeba as the premier UK Trip Hop act and even got Vicki Butler-Henderson to tell people that HP printers are amazing (zzzzzz) while driving round Silverstone in a 4x4 looking bored shitless. But one product I'm working on at the moment that I'm sure you'll agree is pretty damn cool, is the Sony Rolly - have a look: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTxdKi77G20 But who would buy one exactly?

Welcome to my world!

Howdy folks, Welcome to my blog! I'm Jay and seeing as I now work as an online PR consultant, make electronic music and basically seem to spend most of my working life online, I thought I'd better get in touch with the real world (or should that be the unreal world) by starting my own blog and tapping into the current wave of citizen journalism everybody seems to be harping on about. Expect everything from the latest consumer and music-technology resources, issues facing the online world, through to gig, club, film and sports reviews....as well as my own biased opinions, frustrations on views thrown in for good measure...