Jane, Jellyfish, Jem, Jet, and Dracula

Music styles come & go in a retro flow of rediscovery & reinvention. way back in the early 90’s there was a resurgence of sixties psychedelic pop. One band was  Jellyfish with mix of Hollies, Beatles & Procol Harum. I have stand-alone Bellybutton, & Spilt Milk in an mp3 collection. Smart songs, romantic, acerbic & beautifully engineered. If you miss them then search them out now.

Another retro sound band from the early 2000’s is Australian band Jet. I have stand alone Get Born with its Revolveresque cover it is clear where their retro roots are. More punky that Beatles though with a strong Kinks feel they are high energy sweetness.

Sticking to ‘j’ is an mp3 collection that includes jem: finally woken/Down To Earth. The Swingle Singers sample that grounds the title track of her first lp delighted me. I had this as a stand alone then downloaded Down To Earth to start off this collection. All the tracks are fun, her voice is appealing, the samples are consistently surprising. Similar to Dido but less depressing 🙂

To round out this mp3 cd I added some very eclectic stuff starting with the Mike Vickers soundtrack to the film Dracula A.D. 1972. His music for this is serious electronica that is much better than the movie, set in decadent, swinging Carnaby Street. In the film is also music from White Noise, whose album An Electric Storm, I tracked down to add to this collection.

Featured in the film is a rock band whose lead singer’s voice I recognized instantly. Sal Valentino formerly of the Beau Brummels. Here he fronts the band Stoneground. So I added their self titled lp & its follow up, Family Album. He has one of the best voices in rock of that era. 

Wait there’s more. Another helping of electronica with Edwin Morris’s The Sun Sets. Then Maryem and Ernie Tollar: Cairo To Toronto – I hear Maryem do a music set at a spoken word show & enjoyed this fusion world music.

Finally – to make this cd even more eclectic is Jane Morgan: The Big Hits From Broadway. Jane was a major 50’s, early 60’s, nightclub chanteuse with a strong crisp voice. She recorded extensively & I enjoy the retro quality of the arrangements of these fun show tunes.


Nice Rolls

‘You know, this is one of those days when I really can’t think of a thing – of a way to start what needs to be started.’ Jim looked up from the table.

‘Would you like a few more minutes to think it over.’ The waiter stepped back.

‘No, no. I don’t have all day & I know neither do you. But what would you suggest?’

‘The daily specials are always fast. The cannelloni looks good.’

‘Then that’s what I’ll have. Thanks.’ Jim was always relieved when he could get someone else to make a decision for him. The less he had to think the better. The more other people decided the more he could blame them when things weren’t that good. Cannelloni? What was that anyway? He’d soon find out.

A child started to cry in the restaurant.

‘Just you stop that.’ a mother whispered.

The child began to cry louder. A dish broke.

Why had he come here? This was a mistake. He’d never been here before. Rarely dined out alone, to begin with. But there was that thing from the newspaper, framed in the window that said … what did it say? … good food. Did he even read it or had he just glanced at it and assumed it was a good review. After all, restaurants rarely posted unkind remarks about them in the window.

‘I said, be still.’ the mother’s voice rose to match the squeals of her child.

‘I will not. Won’t.’ The child banged on the table.

Jim wanted to look, to turn around and see just what the ruckus was, but couldn’t. He didn’t to be seen as one of those types who had to take  gander at everyone else’s misfortune.

There was a smack. Sobs. Silence.

Well that settles that. He wouldn’t be back to this place in the near future.

‘Here you are, sir.’ the waiter put a covered bread basket on the table. ‘Your cannelloni with be here shortly. Enjoy.’

Jim lifted the linen off the bread basket. Heavy, expensive linen that impressed him. Three kinds of rolls inside, and all warm. Soft butter! That was certainly worth suffering through the slap of a child for. He broke open a roll. Warm, rich smell of rosemary came out of it. The butter spread and melted into the bread. 

‘I hate you. I hate you. I hate you.’ the child erupted.

Jim chewed his bread slowly, savouring it.

‘I wish I had never been born. I wish …’

‘Please keep your voice down Cody. You are bothering the other people here.’

‘I don’t care. I hate this place. Stinking hell hole. That’s what it is.’

Stinking hell hole – where did a child hear something like that? Such a cute turn of phrase though. Yes, nice rolls, very nice rolls. He’d have to tell his friends.


every Tuesday 2019


Stratford Festival – Nathan The Wise

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton
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Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

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Back to pop with a pair of cds by The Beau Brummels – Triangle – is one of my all-time favourites recordings – with songs & studio work with VanDyke Parks & Randy Newman – it a masterpiece that got sideswiped by Sgt. Pepper. Gentle, emotionally satisfying and haunting it is a true 60’s classic. Sal Valentino has an amazingly seductive voice.


making tracks

The other is The Best Of – which includes their hits (really!) Laugh, Laugh; Don’t Make Promises. Some of the lyrics are laugh-out-loud, flower-power stoniness but well worth it.



making a trail

A few years ago I was watching Hammer Films’ Dracula A.D. 1972 – setting the Count in London’s swinging scene – it opens with a band at a ‘hip’ party & the  lead singer’s voice galvanized me – I googled the film & found that it was Sal with his band at that time, Stoneground – needless to say I downloaded that crazy sound track – Mike Vickers (of Manfred Mann) created a electronica, orchestral score that is great. But Stoneground are fantastic – the film itself is as dumb as a bag of Hammer films but succeeds as a time-capsule of what the movies thought the swinging 70’s were about.


are you following me?





When Don saw so many people lined up at the ATM he walked away in disgust. After spending the afternoon with a difficult patient at the hospice he just wanted something, anything, to go his way.

He was used to dying people, who set themselves up as judge and jury and executioner of the living but this guy, Carl, had gotten under his skin in a way no one had for several years.

Now all he wanted was to stop for a quiet drink after work, unwind a little before he went home to his empty apartment, to his cat and to his bed.

Well his credit cards were still good and he could always transfer cash around his accounts to keep things in balance. Keeping in balance was important to him. The less interest the better. The less time wasted the better. The less anger the better.

Ah happy hour at St. Jack’s. May be this was when things would turn around for him. The warm dark of the bar pulled him in to its embrace.

He didn’t feel at home but welcome, wanted here. He found a table and even as he was slipping out of his jacket, Craig, one of his favorite waiters came over.

“Hi handsome. How you doing today? Looking to get happy?”

“You said it or forgetful. Which ever comes first.”

“The usual?”

“Okay.” Don wasn’t sure what the usual was for him. Sometimes he would order a beer, sometimes a double shot of the house Scotch. But whatever Craig would bring would suit him as long as it didn’t have too large an umbrella in it.

Before he got the bar Craig stopped at another table. “Hi handsome. How you doing today? Looking to get happy?”

Ah, well, the way of the world. He wondered if Craig actually knew anybody’s name. But still it was good to be treated with some interest, some affection, even if it was just a professional stance.

He enjoyed watching Craig. He figured the waiter was about the same age as he was, looked like he got to the gym more than Don did, and had the sturdy heft to his calves that Don would enjoy seeing naked. Hmmm. Now that wouldn’t be the usual though.

Craig put a tall amber frosted drink on the table. Don passed him his credit card.

“Shall I start a tab with this?”

“Sure.” Why not? Watching Craig for a while would help make this hour happy for him.

“Then maybe I’ll get you some pretzels. Don.”

So he does know me. Christ my name is on my credit card.


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