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Blog Archive: December 2017

Have A Drink With Us
The grand plan was to release our Christmas song today, on a Monday as is traditional, but then when we got up yesterday morning it was SNOWING! We've lived in The Olympic Village (I don't like to mention it, but yes, we do live there) for four years now and this was the first time we had had ACTUAL SNOW that settled, so it all felt VERY CHRISTMASSY INDEED.

"You should put the single out today!" said The Snowflakes In My Flurry.

"I'll ask The Validators" I replied, pretty sure that none of them would be awake at 9am on a Sunday. I mean, we're in a band, surely everyone had been up until 2am clubbing? I can only assume that they had all stayed up all night long partying hard and were still up, as by approx 9:15am everyone had replied to say that they ALSO felt VERY CHRISTMASSY and agreed that it was the right day to do.

And so it was that Have A Drink With Us (Drink Doch Eine Met) was UNLEASHED upon a waiting world, with a video which you can see right HERE:



Originally we'd done an entirely different video, made up of all the footage we'd shot of each other when we were recording it, but after the aforementioned Frames Of My Reel remarked that it was "too dull", and The Validators CONCURRED, I set my BRANE to thinking of a replacement. Next morning I woke with a) a stinking cold and b) an idea to do something with Finger Puppets. Mr F A Machine suggested using cut-out figures instead "like Captain Pugwash" (and also suggested the ending to the story, which is THE BEST BIT), so I spent a delightful afternoon sat in bed doing CRAFT, creating the rather lovely Christmas Tale you see above.

It's now been just over 24 hours since we released it and I am DELIGHTED to find that people so far seem to be really enjoying it. We've even sold a few copies of the Christmas Selection Box album, which never usually happens! Wonderfully, most of these sales have come from Germany where, I assume, people are aware of the FANTASTIC original version by Bläck Fööss.

We're all very proud of this song, I think it's our FAVOURITE Christmas one for AGES, and as ever any mentions, tweets and so forth would be LOVELY! Let's spread some FESTIVE DELIGHT!

posted 11/12/2017 by MJ Hibbett
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Christmas In Stratford Actual
On Monday night The Shops In My Centre and I walked through Westfield Stratford, over the Bridge into Stratford Actual, through the old shopping centre and over the road to attend a CAROL SERVICE at St John's Church. I have lived in old East London for nearly 15 years now and have been past this church about a MILLION times but have never been inside, so was quite excited to find it a) lovely b) HUGE and c) RAMMED with people.

The service was put on by Newham Music and it featured a wide variety of groups which they work with, including the E20 Community Choir which the aforementioned Notes On My Scale is a member of. Once inside she went off to find the rest of her lot and I sat down at the back, surrounded by the extremely Christmassy RACKET of excited kids, grumpy teenagers, tired parents, and school violins being dropped.

We'd missed the first half of the show, which I guessed had run LATE in the traditional manner, as the "ten minute break" we arrived in the middle of carried on for another half an hour! When the concert did get going again it was BRILLIANT and also rather MOVING. The second group on in our half was a school ROCK BAND, who were FLIPPING ACE, ESPECIALLY when they did an EXTENDED version of "The Ocean" by The Led Zeppelins. You could feel the HEAT of their music teacher being DELIGHTED that he/she had got them to perform this, especially when it went into EXTENDED IMPROV. Hilariously, a couple of Newham Officials decided that this would be a good time to try to get everybody to clap along, at PRECISELY the moment when time signatures got swapped about all over the place. ALSO at the end they did a sudden STOP, the singer said "We are Newham Music Collective!" and then they did a STADIUM ROCK FINISH. It could only have been improved if she had said "We Are! Newham! FLIPPING! Music Collective!" but I guess they might have got DONE if she had.

Next up was the E20 choir and I must admit I was a bit professionally worried about how they were going to follow THAT, but I need not have been as they were RUDDY WONDERFUL. I have, I think, only previously seen them either outside or in non-acoustically-advantageous rooms, so was not quite prepared for the SONIC AWESOMENESS of them singing Actual Christmas Carols in an Actual Christmas Church. COR! It was LOVELY!

It then got EVEN BETTER at the end when the BAND came back on and also ANOTHER choir, this time of children, so that they could all do "Merry Christmas (War Is Over)" together. It began with the kids singing verses and the band doing a gentle backing, but when the adult choir came in around the fourth verse it was WOW! I got one of them tingles up and down my spine that you read about, and the hairs on my arms LITERALLY stood on end. THEN when the music built up and the kids came back in singing the "War Is Over If You Want It" bit, I do not mind admitting that I had a genuine TEAR in my eye. When you hear it sung like this you realise what a POWERFUL song it is, and how clever John and Yoko were to stick in such an Actually Pretty Radical Anti-Establishment Message into a genuine CHRISTMAS HIT.

Needless to say, I felt SUPER CHRISTMASSY by the end of it! HOORAH!

posted 8/12/2017 by MJ Hibbett
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A Family History Adventure
I spent most of Saturday in SHEFFIELD, not for ROCK nor even for BOOKS this time, but rather for FAMILY HISTORY.

For LO! it was my mum's 70th birthday and so a select group of family had gathered to go and look at the place where my Grandad was born. The idea to do this had come about because for years my mother has "occasionally" mentioned that she'd like to know where he was actually born - we know he came from Sheffield, and that the family moved to Donington a few years later, but that was about it.

THUS I got my Detective's Raincoat on and set about some SECRET interweb research. Luckily for me my Grandad was born on Christmas Day, so it was PEASY to track him down in the records office and I was able to get a copy of his birth certificate, which showed where he was born and also where his father lived a couple of months later. These were two different addresses, so we assume either they moved, or my Great Grandmother went to stay somewhere else for the birth. I looked up BOTH places on Google Streetview and found that there was NOTHING there anymore! Both addresses were in the SLUMS which were knocked down long long ago, but it looks as if Sheffield has still not got around to putting anything else there yet. There's a couple of new flats going up nearby, but otherwise it is abandoned factories and car parks. My ROOTS are basically an indie band video from the 1980s!

The original plan was just for me and my little brother to take The Parents to have a look, but this developed to included several COUSINS. Mr CM Smith (PARENT) had said a few weeks ago "They can all enjoy your tour!" which was a little bit ALARMING to me because, as mentioned above, the "tour" was basically looking at two car parks. HOWEVER, The Markings Of My Bays came to my rescue by doing some of her own research, and discovering a chap called BIG RON who did historical walks, so she got him BOOKED for the afternoon and all was set.

Things started well with me and the aforesaid baby brother, The Artist Thomas Smith, travelling up on the train, but then quickly went wonky when we received urgent messages to call my Mum's phone - Chris does not have a mobile phone or email address since he retired because, he claims, he "doesn't need one". This has made it SOMEWHAT DIFFICULT to conduct SECRET DISCUSSIONS about our arrangements, and SUFFICE TO SAY there have been decisions made since the weekend about what he's getting for Christmas!

It turned out that there had been a mix-up with the hotel Chris had booked us all into, and that we were all staying in the OTHER Premier Inn at the other side of the city from the one we'd thought. There then followed half an hour of HECTIC calls and arrangements, notably involving my AUNTIE who hadn't been able to come but was in PRIME POSITION to be communications hub, contacting various travelling cousins. It was a BIT OF A PANIC!

After that though all was BLOODY GRATE. We strode out to meet Big Ron who took us on a short walk with a LOT of talk. Crikey o'Reilly but he could talk! We learnt MUCH about the history of Sheffield and also EVERYTHING else, and he provided a FAB pack of pictures, maps and newspaper cuttings for Mum to read later. I tell you what, if you ever need somebody to explain some Sheffield history to you I would DEFINITELY recommend Ron!

It was VERY chilly so after about an hour we retired to a nearby pub, which rather wonderfully happened to be The Grapes. where The Validators played SEVERAL shows some years ago. It is a LOVELY pub, and the evening gently moved into Generalised CHit Chat which would continue back at The Premier Inn (which did us a LOVELY tea) and afterwards. It was BRILL!

ALAS I fear there must have been something a bit dodgy in the Yorkshire air that night, as the next morning on the train back both myself AND my sibling felt DECIDEDLY unwell. I'm sure I felt AMAZING at approx 11:30pm when I refused another whisky and loudly announced I had to go to bed, so that must be the only explanation!

posted 5/12/2017 by MJ Hibbett
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Christmas Time Is Here Again
Finally it is the first of December which means it is ENTIRELY ALLOWABLE to get EXTREMELY CHRISTMASSY - and flipping heck, after a year of NEWS like the one what we have just gone through, I think we all deserve to get VERY CHRISTMASSY INDEED.

Christmassiness began chez nous this morning with this year's first play of Christmas In The Heart AKA The Bob Dylan Christmas Album AKA The Most Christmassiest Album OF ALL. I bloody love this record, it is both the best Bob Dylan album EVER (and I say this as someone who likes a LOT of Bob) and also the best Christmas album EVER. Yes yes, I know about The Phil Spector one, but this is LOADS better - "Christmas In The Heart" sounds like everyone's having FUN recording it, "A Christmas Gift For You" has an air of OFFICE PARTY to it, one that is taking place during your lunch hour without any BOOZE allowed and then you have to go back to work.

Anyway, we have started listening to it which means Christmas is GO! To be honest I have been ready for Christmas ever since Sunday's recording session in Derby, and this feeling has only been increased over the days since due to the MIXES I have received from Mr F A Machine. I am happy to report that the recording of "Have A Drink With Us" sounds EVEN BETTER than I thought it would, with at least THREE portions of SUBLIME FESTIVE MELANCHOLY along the way. We all listened to the "final" mix last night (which usually is by no means final) and were astonished to discover that it was pretty much perfect and thus WAS final! HOORAH!

With this all done I now need to get to work putting the VIDEO together, and then next weekend I'll get it all sorted out for adding to Christmas Selection Box (which is getting pretty full now) and you'll be able to hear it for yourself on Monday 11 December. I can't WAIT for everyone to hear it - this one is PRETTY SPECIAL!

posted 1/12/2017 by MJ Hibbett
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