Saturday, May 31, 2008

small sword from Loyalist arms

I get this really bad sword catalogue through the post for some reason - but I do quite like swords - but reasonable facsimiles at least as far as I am concerned. These swords aren't awful and on my lust list at the moment is one of these French military small swords - looks like Loyalist Arms is a good place to get good quality repro arms and so on for the 18th century - maybe I'll get one for my birthday.

late 17thc French matchlock in New France

Excellent site on the era of Louis XIV.

Loads of related images - a real treat so see some of the pages - all useful for armies of the late 17th century like this one.

War of the Grand Alliance

As you may know if you are a regular reader of this column that I get into various historical periods putting up things relating to them but with this war - that took place in the 1690s there isn't much at all. Which is a shame as it was quite an important event - being a war of a coalition against Louis XIV that took place all over Europe and America - I suppose the most famous battle for English speakers is the Battle of the Boyne pictured - see Huchtenburg painting of the Boyne. The Siege of Namur (colour pic) was a major event and was sort of depicted in the movie Tristam Shandy. There's not much on this period on the web - Nicole Kipar's site The Salacious Historian's Lair has some excellent galleries on the period.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Pravda 'Tu es a l'ouest'

Susan and myself are playing the Pravda lp quite a bit - this Parisian duo in the electro punk genre are a hit with us - here's one they're pushing at the moment - really catchy tune though I've no idea what the song's about. They're touring the UK soon playing London with Bomb the Bass. Details here
tu es à l'ouest 16:9

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Britain's Last Invasion 1797

I was in Bath library avoiding the rain yesterday and picked up a copy of Last Invasion: Fishguard 1797 by Teddy Thomas. A damn good read about the doomed invasion of Wales by a small force of Revolutionary French irregulars who were the dregs of the gaols of France and then despatched to a largely Welsh speaking area to raise the cause of liberty. Led by an American, Tate, whose parent had been killed by British allied Indians and hated the English. The Legion Noire proceeded to get drunk and pillage the area before surrendering in a pub. Great stuff. Make a great anti epic movie - Blue Peter did a nice film of it in 97...all the buildings are there (see pic). Photo of recreated Yeomanry cavalry from this excellent cavalry page. Yeomanry were the part time soldiers who took the surrender of the French army - note the Tarleton headgear fashionable at the time.
Picture of French troops of the Army of the Rhine 1796 from here

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Royal Armouries films

There's a few good little films put up by the Royal Armouries - check them out if you like that sort of thing.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Screamin' Jay Hawkins and the Fuzztones

From 1984 doing 'I Put a Spell on You'. Did I tell you I met Screamin' Jay Hawkins about this time? Backstage when he played the Bristol Bierkeller I attempted to interview him and he chewed me out if that is the correct expression - frightened me to death. Great voice, great persona - heartily recommend a compilation of his greatest hits Voodoo Jive: The Best of Screamin' Jay Hawkins looks like the one to get.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Battle of Culloden 1746 (trailer)

A film shot for the new visitors centre in Scotland commemorating the final battle of the Jacobite rebellion. Pretty impressive though of course very sad.

1685 Society

The Monmouth Rebellion was the last popular uprising on English soil. It took place in Somerset with the Rebels coming from places like Taunton, Bridgwater and Frome. Although the Rebels fought the redcoats to a draw at Norton St Philip they were routed at a night battle at Sedgemoor in 1685.
It's a full ten years since I started the 1685 society - aimed at bringing the Monmouth Rebellion back to life, so I thought I'd commemorate it by posting a few pics. It was pretty successful - perhaps too successful as most of the members went off to create their own copycat organisations... we did quite a bit of tv work - educational programmes and the like - the photos here show us at the cob at Lyme Regis filming - I'm second from the right playing Nathaniel Wade and at Glastonbury Rural Life Museum I am teaching pike drill.
I used to fancy myself as a bit of an illustrator then and did a lot of drawings (see pic) - noone had the nerve to tell me I was crap but they served their purpose which was to try and make reenactors realise that the Monmouth Rebels weren't farmers and rustics but urban clothworkers from places like Frome. Somerset at the time was an industrial centre although it didn't serve the tourist industry to say that but instead they played up the peasant angle calling it a Pitchfork Rebellion. Ugh!
Nowadays there are quite a few groups doing the period which I view as a positive outcome - I got pretty disillusioned with running reenactment societies anyway - one of my friends described it as 'cat herding' which is pretty true - everyone wants to be in charge and noone wants to do any actual work. I don't miss the hassle one bit.

Midsomer madness

Not sure what the idea was behind this road sign that was at the outskirts of our next door town - maybe it was intended to be sarcastic. Everyone knows Radstock is the real hub.

The Gories 'Thunderbird ESQ'

Detroit band the Gories with an ode to an alcoholic beverage. Now, of course Mick Collins fronts the Dirtbombs. The wiki says 'They were among the first garage punk bands to incorporate overt blues influences' (in 1986). Funny, but this song reminds me of the stuff we used to play around Frome in the mid 70s when I used to sing with the Bad Detectives. Course no-one cared about us then because we were from Somerset and playing to pubs full of Elvis loving Roma people and not from Detroit and instead considered ourselves lucky not to get beaten up for our trouble. Bitter, moi? Actually a dog got into our chicken pen this morning and killed one and injured a couple of others so I do feel kind of crap...

Sunday, May 25, 2008

New Red Baron Movie

Some of the most spectacular films about the Great War have been about the air war - not surprising as it is a picturesque and fascinating aspect of what was otherwise a pretty grim conflict. Recently we had the movie Flyboys which used digital technology well - this year we have the Red Baron - kind of obvious that someone would do that subject - given the popularity of films like the Blue Max (1966). This trailer looks good. Apparently cost £14 million - and is unusual in that it is a German movie about the war. News article about Red Baron's chivalrous image. Daughter Bea just asked me if Snoopy was in it...No Ich don't think so... German trailer here (with different scenes)


I must admit to being slightly obsessed with the movie the Patriot. Embarrassing I know but I can tell that by the number of posts I've done mentioning the damned film over the years. Why? Well I suppose I am interested in the American revolution and I wished there could be a good successful film on the subject and along comes the Patriot and my wish comes true but at what a price. It is quite a feast for the eyes. The sets, cinematography, battle scenes are quite beautiful but as far as the storyline and characters are concerned it's hell in a handcart. British atrocities are depicted and the villains are so villainous as to defy belief - chief bad guy is 'Tavington' someone apparently based on Banastre Tarleton -someone who has been depicted many times as chief villain of the Revolutionary Wars...and was by his own admission a fairly rapacious and ruthless leader but was he that bad? Oatmeal for the foxhounds is a website dedicated to separating fact from fiction and examines the myths in an informed and entertaining way. Tavington fansite
Image from NPS site of the battle of Cowpens

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Richard Hell & the Voidoids 'Liars beware'

He invented punk rock as we know it but he isn't a household name - kind of fitting perhaps. Great song 'look out liars and you high-life scum who like to keep your victims poor and dumb' ....powerful stuff...

Church's Company 1675-1707

You may be forgiven for thinking that frontier warfare in America was just all about the Revolution or French and Indian wars but conflict between the colonial powers and Indians like the Abenaki was an ongoing thing throughout the whole era of setlement in America with many raids in the late 1600s. This living history group recreates the period of the late 17thc early 18thc - a colourful age that encompasses dramatic events such as the Deerfield raid of 1704. I tried to get this period going in the UK of all places - we did one event at the American Museum but as you can imagine it was a bit too obscure for England. However this group seem to be doing well and if I lived 'over there' I'd probably be wanting to get into it as it is pretty fascinating. I'd have to be a French Marine or Native though.
This website is really well done with lots of resources and images - it really sells the period in a useful way - I hope you take the time to check it out.

Disney's Swamp Fox

The inspiration for the Emmerich movie The Patriot this clip of this tv series from the late 50s is worth looking at. Features the Swamp Fox song (if you dare play it) which will rattle around in your head for a good few minutes I can tell you. Based on the life of Francis Marion it had Leslie Nielsen and Patrick Macnee in it. Apparently it was banned - the series that is - in Canada for portraying the British and Tories as too villainous.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Howlin' Wolf Highway 49 (1970)

We're gonna have a little blues this morning.... why? Without the blues we'd still be listening to string quartets and Morris dance music! Chester Burnett - one of the greatest performers ever, and from what I've read, an all-round decent bloke too. The Wolf is one of my idols - I really wish I'd seen him live but he died in '76 when I was 16, but this clip is almost like being in the front row so enjoy. 10 minutes of joy. Hubert Sumlin on guitar - what more do you want? You want more? buy the dvd - it looks like essential viewing.

J B Lenoir 'I feel so good'

Pronounced Lenore... Unusual for a Chicago bluesman of the time J B Lenoir often wrote quite political songs - most 5os bluesmen wrote about women - but J B wrote about Eisenhower and the Korean war, Vietnam, racism and all manner of subjects causing him to get a threatening visit from some men in black from the government in one instance. This song is however a simple joi de vivre tune and is heartily recommended.'I'm so glad I know what's on your mind'. More here

Radstock Co-operative

In our small town we are fortunate in having as our local store the Radstock Co-op. Started in 1868 there is a small display marking the 140th birthday so I thought I'd write about it. The Co-operative movement in the UK was part of the drive for workers to take the reins of commercialisation and provide for themselves - essential particularly in times of strike and strife to not be ripped off for neccesities.
Radstock having a mining community was pretty quick off the block and all the local families were loyal to this wonderful institution - for example my Grandfather when he first started down the mines at 12 was taken down to get his own dividend card and working boots by his mother and during the war schoolkids like my dad often were sent to the co-op farms to pick potatoes - a welcome break from the three Rs. Today the Co-op is still sharing profits with the customers and leading the way with fair trade goods and things like decently reared chickens in all their products but not everyone in Radstock these days is so loyal. It causes me great dismay to see my neighbours driving past such a brilliant shop to throw their money at Tescos - but what can you do? - apart from secretly hold them in contempt for having no brains and no soul and hope one day they will see the light - the fact that the miners' greatest legacy to the area is a simple humble department store - where people don't get ripped off.

The Music Machine 'Talk Talk'

Still on the Nuggets thread here's a great clip of this great band The Music Machine . A cool look for 66 consisting of black clothing - sometimes a black glove - kind of a goth beatnik look which I like... What sort of bass is that? More on the band and an interview here

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Sir Douglas Quintet 'She's About a Mover'

What's your favourite Nuggets band? Mine is a toss up between the Seeds and the Elevators but I love them all in rotation and today's fave is this piece of Prince Valiant inspired Anglophilia from Texan Douglas Sahm and his band. You HAVE to watch this, OK?

The Freak Brothers

My son is a big Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers fan and is always keeping me up to date on the latest developments with this classic stoner comic. First up of interest is 'The Freak Brothers Omnibus' coming out in September which has 'every Freak brothers story rolled into one bumper package' - 624 pages for a mere 20 squid! Also on the cards is an animated movie of which a teaser pilot is below though don't hold your breath - it might be some time yet! Gilbert Shelton site

1/32 Napoleonics

If you are into Napoleonics in this large toy soldier scale then this year's new releases will no doubt set your heart racing. Italeri who already produce a good range are bringing out a French supply wagon, Austrians and French infantry (see pic) for the early 1800s, and British light cavalry. Also something of interest is Russian grenadiers 1812 from Black Cat Miniatures from the US. So at last maybe something other than Waterloo can be recreated in your garden. Buy them from Steve Weston in the UK.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Billy Boy Arnold 'I wish you would' (1955)

This original song from Chicago by harmonica player Billy Boy Arnold is one of the most underrated records of all time. Just listen to it and you tell me that this funky hybrid is not one of the most far-sighted recordings of the 1950s. When we were the Terraplanes we used to cover this record in fact our whole sound was based on this side. Love it love it love it.

Adam Ant art book cancelled

Apparently there wasn't enough interest...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Art of Spain

Up on the bbc i player for another six days I highly recommend this documentary on the age of Phillip II in art and architecture. This episode is called The Dark Heart and features El Greco and Velasquez. Duration: 60 minutes
Andrew Graham-Dixon explores Spain's art history. He discovers how a brutal empire brought a Golden Age of art of the 16th and 17th centuries.

Edgar Kennedy 'Rough on Rents part 1'

If you like Laurel and Hardy you might also enjoy Edgar Kennedy - he worked with L&H quite a bit but his best known work is his family comedy shorts where he got to do his exasperated 'slow burn' to perfection. Part 2 here

Commence to dancing

This musical interlude from Laurel and Hardy's Way Out West is worth a look - someone sent the link to Susan and it made her laugh at about 8 am so it should work at any time of the day. Possibly the funniest double act in history Laurel and Hardy can still make us laugh with their routines. Simple but hilarious.

Seven Years War in Europe

With all these cheap flights I ought to get myself over to Europe to take part in the Seven Years War 250 anniversary events going on over there - I'm missing out on some great events. These pictures are from the Dreispitz page and are just a sample of the amazing groups on their list. The pictures are of Prussian miners - a great thing to do - more here - and the other is Austrian Infantry regiment Wied. Check out the Dreispitz page for all the civilian and military groups from all over Europe. Watch a Youtube slideshow of last years Leuthen 250th.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Battle of Rocroi 1643

As today is the anniversary of this battle fought between the French and Spanish what better way to celebrate it than watch this spectacular clip from the movie Alatriste starring Vigo Mortensson. The Spaniards lost and it is considered a major turning point in military history when the power of Spain was eclipsed by France. Some really good depictions of pike fighting and mid 17th century cavalry tactics are depicted - well worth watching.

Eddie Cochran 'Summertime Blues'

This record came out 50 years ago - how time flies... a great songwriter, guitarist and vocalist Eddie had it all - until he came to the West Country and died on the A4 between Bath and Chippenham. His death certificate is in Bath registrar's office - on the wall.... which is kind of creepy... like a trophy.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Electric Prunes 'Get Me to the World On Time'

I think the Prunes are great - bridging the gap between Psychedelia and bubblegum they produced some epic singles - this is my favourite. Lyrics

Saturday, May 17, 2008


This week I have been mostly enjoying 70 Gwen Party and finally got hold of their Anti Blue Nazi album - not bad - not as brilliant as their Peel sessions but worth tracking down - as long as you don't bid against me when they come up on ebay. This clip starts with 70 Gwen Party doing a bit of 'Care' - it's an interesting film called Popness which examines shamanistic and nihilistic ambitions in music. Definitely worth your time to watch.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Pravda 'People Unite'

We love this electro-punk classic from a Parisian duo - but relax the words are in English so you should give them a shot - not that they'd care - they seem like the real thing. I defy you to listen and not have it stuck in your head all day. Their Myspace

Chip museum

Apparently the chip was invented in Bruges in the 1700s when the canals froze over and small fishes couldn't be fried - so instead potato was shaped into fish shapes and the rest is history.

Animals and Men vinyl

We were at the Handsome Llama studios Frome, at the weekend recording what will be our first new vinyl, an ep, for about 26 years. Maybe it will be the world's first double B-side? It's going to be on a new label Convulsive Records of Brooklyn New York. If you go to their myspace you can hear one of the tracks. Later in the year Mississippi records will be releasing a vinyl compilation of vintage tracks called Never Bought and Never Sold.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Vic Godard and the Subway Sect live at the Dirty Water Club

Recent film of VG doing stuff from the 1978 vintage. Songs are 'Ambition' 'Nobody's Scared' and ' We oppose all rock and roll'. The album 1978 Now is worth buying - it is like a breath of fresh air to hear decent punk songs being done in a sympathetic way. There's no doubt Vic Godard is a great songwriter and these stripped down raw versions show that off just fine.

Happy Days at B&Ts

This photo was sent to me today and I thought I'd share it with you to show what life was like in printers Butler and Tanner, Frome when things were happier - back in the 70s. On the right of the photo is my Dad and Uncle Arthur on the extreme right - the occasion? A lunchtime draughts cup - the sort of thing that was always going on - sweepstakes, cricket sixes, things that made working in a factory with no sunshine, day after day, bearable. I remember working alongside all these people pretty much and it is a sad thought that all the happy memories of an old company like B&Ts may be gone forever. Shame on Dolan.

Social Security 'Cider'
I'm experimenting with this file hosting thing - this link should enable you to get Bristol band Social Security's song 'Cider' a brilliant punk song from their ep on Heartbeat back in 1978. Genius.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Savage Friends: the Cherokee

I only post really good reenactment clips on this blog as there's nothing more embarrassing to everyone than something bad - and that is sadly what most films are. This however, is excellent. A French and Indian war reenactment film shot at Fort Dobbs depicting the British allied Cherokees torturing a French prisoner. Well done to all involved.

War and Peace (1968) Battle of Borodino

Like a battle painting brought to life this sequence from Bondarchuk's epic retelling of the Tolstoy novel is well worth watching. I don't think anyone has been able to do Napoleonic warfare like Bondarchuk did - the scenes are so realistic and of course with a cast of thousands - luckily he had the Soviet army to use as extras. We'll never see epic cinema like this ever again. War and Peace (1968)

Friday, May 09, 2008

70 Gwen Party 'Howard Hughes' (1993)

One of my favourite bands of the 90s this duo were really only featured on John Peel's radio show but I loved them to bits. Nearly were on the Fall's Cog Sinister label. Definitely worth tracking down their Peel sessions lp if you like crazy beautiful avant garde music.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

'Like Richard Dadd'

This song has been on my turntable today - it was done by 90s band 70 Gwen Party but there's nothing much about this genius band on the web so therefore I thought it might be worth blogging about Richard Dadd himself. Dadd was a Victorian artist who probably suffered from bipolar disorder who killed his father with a knife and razor and made most of his intriguing paintings while in the asylum. Most famous of his work is the Fairy Feller's Master Stroke but there's so much more to him than this - this site has much about him and links to most of his art. One of his paintings turned up on the Antiques Roadshow tv programme, of all places. Wikipedia entry

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Honeydripper trailer

At UK cinemas now... If you like the blues or in fact any kind of music for that matter you might check out this trailer for a new movie set around a jukejoint of the title and a blues guitar player called 'Guitar Sam'. Imdb plot summary

Pat Garret and Billy the Kid

If you like westerns and Bob Dylan you might want to check out Peckinpah's classic from 1973 - this trailer pretty much says it all... the cast is phenomenal - even got Harry Dean Stanton in there...

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Department S 'My Coocachoo'

Department S are back - you may remember Is Vic There? This time they've done a great 70s glam punk rendition of the the Alvin Stardust classic. Working with Marco and Glen Matlock apparently

Bristol Comic Fair

If you are into comics then you should consider going to Bristol this weekend where artists and all manner of comic related things come together to make this possibly the best gathering in the UK. Incidentally Celia my daughter who is usually into DC really rates the new Iron Man movie reckoning it's well worth the admission price - a good comic movie? Whatever next?

Franco-Prussian war

Ok - I know these photos are of the Austro-Prussian war reenactment scene but I deliberately mislabelled them as I know a lot of people searching the web for Franco-Prussian war pics would miss this activity going on in the Czech republic and it's so impressive - I just love this period. more here

Teenagers in Tokyo 'Very Vampyr'

New single by a band from Sydney Australia - exciting electrifying pop at its best...I love it...give it a shot - it might make your day!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Jah Wobble 'Visions of You'

Jah Wobble is responsible for some of the best basslines in pop - low, throbbing. hypnotic and repetitive - just what the bass is supposed to do - even more surprising when you learn he only picked up the bass on joining PIL - testimony to the 'keeping it simple' rule of pop. I loved this song when it came out and remember playing it loudly from the car stereo - that was when I had a car of course...

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Imperial Wax Solvent

The new Fall lp is pretty brilliant. Guardian review here. Tracks are Alton Towers / Wolf Kidult Man / 50 Year Old Man / I've Been Duped / Strangetown / Taurig / Can Can Summer / Tommy Shooter / Latch Key Kid / Is This New / Senior Twilight Stock Replacer / Exploding Chimney more here

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Battle of San Jacinto

This clip from the 2004 movie version of the Alamo depicts the Battle of San Jacinto - the Mexicans were defeated and Texas ultimately became part of the US. What it does not show is the fact that Santa Anna the Mexican general was supposedly with a mulatto woman Emily Morgan (apparently the inspiration behind the song the Yellow Rose of Texas) at the time and was caught unawares - apparently he would have the best women forcibly brought to him and this is why when he was captured he was in his shirtsleeves.

Choir Voyna i Mir

This depictions of Russians marching through a village is a great scene from what must be the best historical movie of all time, War and Peace (1968). Posted in support of the sacked Print workers of Frome. (I bet you're going to get sick of me going on about this, aren't you?)

Print workers march through Frome

The top two postings on this blog through popularity of hits are the two pieces I did on Butler and Tanner and the shock closure of this profitable and state of the art colour printers. And they're not all hits from Frome by any means. That's the strength of feeling out there. I was immensely proud of the procession through town and I felt privileged to be able to cheer them on. Why? B&Ts was always more than just a factory - it was an institution - a source of great stories, remarkable characters and a whole world contained within those walls. It used to be an old fashioned paternalistic company with Joe Tanner taking an interest in his employees, who in turn organised social activities for the families - no wonder generations worked side by side as I did with my Dad and Uncle Arthur - it was a family firm. Now it is a victim of the 'shut it down and send the work overseas' mentality that has gripped Britain. Let's hope there's still hope for Frome. BBC coverage here

Friday, May 02, 2008

Butler and Tanner employees march through town

Hundreds of sacked print workers marched through Frome today in protest at the closure of the town's largest employers. I saw many familiar faces and the mood was defiant but good natured. I can't remember seeing anything as exciting as this in Frome for many a year. I didn't have my camera with me but it was an impressive sight.