Thursday, 31 December 2009


Now we’re here upon
That point in time that’s plucked
To signify the fulcrum,
Not by sound nor silence bucked;

All in solstice set,
Wallow in the syrup of the year
Where old days, spent,
Compost to dream, and disappear;

But then witness birth,
Minted, glints novation of the New!
Gleams blinking fish-head
Was this the dreaming boy we drew?

He stands fresh and strong!
He cavorts with every sense;
Catch ahold his coat-tail
Gather up what he’ll dispense.

Will you glance behind,
Taking pause and stop, stock and store?
Did you bid farewell
To all that ran and runs no more?

Will you be seduced
By that whirling piper, pied,
Who leaps off up ahead?
He’s never caught, though most have tried.

Or do you circulate,
Stepping steps you’ll step again?
Shall we meet to greet
The wondrous ways of twenty-ten?

Come, let the matter lie;
The King is dead, a curious thing;
John Barleycorn must die;
He’ll come again; long live the King!

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Snowstorm Expectations

The prediction was for raging snowstorms centred on the lower park here at Turnup Towers. The view as I type would have been magnificent, engendering a complete alteration of perspective. Now and again, such a shift of emphasis, purpose, and appreciation is necessary for the maintenance of forward motion.

All media are agape with the date; the end of the ‘noughties’. Wow. Well, what do you remember? Was it a decade of liberation? Was great art created?

Many years ago I came across a piece from Alexander Solzhenitsyn, which I have always borne in mind as a good starting point when one feels the urge to indulge in self-satisfaction, as follows:

“There is a law that governs all artistic creation. This law said that no previous work of his carried any weight, that it could not be counted to the artist’s credit.”

Back to the snow; naturally, it has now started raining. Maybe the snow will materialise later, but I’m not holding my breath. We may have to put the Automated Snowball Distributor back in it’s safety cage, although I’m hopeful of deployment later.

Hang on, was that a nip in the air, or am I imagining things?

Monday, 21 December 2009

Bowled Over

I fear that Marcus has been somewhat less than entirely forthcoming concerning the actuality of his deepening relationship with the bowler hatted community that has sprung up locally. I had formed the impression that he was a disinterested observer, retaining the degree of independence in his sartorial proclivities necessary for the proper discharge of that responsibility.

Alas, no longer. It seems that he has burst the bubble of objectivity. He has been outed, as I was able to verify for myself when recently glancing at the Ledbury Portal. There, as large as life, is a photograph of the man himself manhandling his bass guitar onstage with the Fylthe. I thought at first that a trick of the light must have been involved, but, on closer inspection, there is no mistaking the bowler hat he is wearing with such cavalier abandon. Indeed, if anything, it swallows light, producing a sort of anti-halo effect. It seems to fit well, which unavoidably leads me to speculate that perhaps he has been indulging in this perversion of headgear for many months, to the extent that the contours of his cranium have adjusted themselves for its accommodation, it being well-known that the human head is not naturally so disposed.

You see, a bowler hat is not constructed of a ‘giving’ material. It is of a ‘take, take, take’ disposition, all the way. No wonder Stanley Kubrick turned in its direction when signifying the nihilistic conformity of his little droogies.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

The Imaginary Turn Up Album Awards

Generally, at Turn Up we are not producers of lists. You know the sort of thing; The Top 100 Greatest Guitarists Who Have Ever Lived or some such thing. They never include Mark Dawson and since Jimi is always number one (and rightly so) there seems little point in the exercise.

However, we thought you might be interested to contemplate a list of albums we have enjoyed this year. As we weren’t here last year, as a special festive bonus we’ll give you our rundown for 2008 as well. Let’s limit each list to 5 albums. We’ll ignore reissues, and concentrate mainly on studio albums, but not exclusively.

There are no specific categories, just a list. There's not really even a winner; they're all winners, or they wouldn't be mentioned. There is no awards ceremony, although that need not prevent you from indulging in one in your imaginary head. You are sat at a table at the far corner of the sumptuous ballroom between Lady Gaga and Florence Machine. I mean you’re hot, with the hottest people in your immediate vicinity. This means you must also be extremely cool. But it don’t mean you’re going to cut any ice round here, Sunshine. We’re not necessarily au courant.

A constant susurration of excited chatter floats across from neighbouring tables where the likes of Jimmy Page fend off Them Crooked Vultures as they circle the hors d’ouvres. An endless bottle of vintage St Emilion is available for your personal consumption as you contemplate the nominations. Knees are rubbed as if by accident. A drum roll.


Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea by Silver Jews. Wonderfully suggestive songwriting, bursting with strange wit and wide-open skies.

Flight of the Conchords. Fabbo and funny in one package.

Sun Giant EP by Fleet Foxes. If you like your harmony on the wholesome side, this is for you.

Emma Forever Ago by Bon Iver. Introspective, but in a good way. Getting a grip, effectively.

22 Dreams by Paul Weller. For some of us, our first Weller album. A torrent of ideas, cohesive, professional, magnificently jobbed.


The Liberty of Norton Folgate by Madness. Possibly their finest, a cavalcade of London character, pinpoint observation, serious intent, and a great knees-up. (Florence, behave yourself!)

Where I Come From by New Riders of the Purple Sage. Whoda thunk it? NRPS come up with one of their best ever albums of entirely new originals after regrouping a couple of years ago following many years out of the saddle. Some great jamming songs. Quality of the Nelson/ Hunter songs unimpeachable. A great album to drive to. Sadly, John Dawson was too ill to participate and died earlier this year.

Together Through Life by Bob Dylan. Robert Hunter made a significant lyrical contribution to this one as well. A good muscular album that grows on you. Song titles don’t come much better than ‘Hell Is My Wife’s Home Town’, although on checking, it’s actually called ‘My Wife’s Home Town.’

We Used To Think The Freeway Was A River by Richmond Fontaine. I have previously mentioned the extensive Turn Up library. It also houses a large canyon of musical recordings. However, Richmond Fontaine had previously avoided our notice. This is subtle, beautifully crafted music with some unexpectedly sharp twists to the tail.

Let It Rock: The Jerry Garcia Collection Volume 2 by The Jerry Garcia Band. A live recording from 1975, but released recently. Luminous quality and amazing rapport between Garcia and Nicky Hopkins, whose guitar and piano entwine endlessly throughout. One of the greatest ever Garcia releases.

You sit at your table in disbelief at the antics going on around you. Your disbelief is tweaked on two accounts; unaccountably, you have won nothing, and neither has Mark Dawson. Frankly, the bugger would stand a better chance if he got off his arse and recorded something.

We are now entering the festive season proper, something that has not escaped the notice of the powers that be at Turn Up Towers. Jollity is creeping like a miasma into all aspects of our operations. At this rate we’ll be like helium balloons ready for the bursting by Boxing Day.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Inflatable Guinea Pigs

“I would like to know how in all my 50 years, guinea pigs alone stand unravaged by inflation.”

Public houses are becoming increasingly strange places. I had just been approached by a seedy-looking cove who introduced himself as David Smith (likely story) and offered to pay me for my exhaled gas. I gave him a quizzical eyebrow while he elaborated; hugely complicated schemes of client-specific introductions, carbon sharing, gathering tubes and mobile storage facilities. I was still unclear where the money would be coming from, when he mentioned the word ‘investment’. He was reeling from the knuckle-tapping to his forehead I used to drive my repost home, when the above enquiry wafted through the fug from the deeper recesses of the squitter bar.

I diverted my attention to this knotty confluence of imponderables. Orville Quantock arrived, swiftly staking a claim to his customary length of bar top by the deft manoeuvrability of his right elbow at the unfortunate Mr Smith’s expense. Mr Smith was a man certainly unravaged by inflation.

Orville was immediately interested. “Is the period of 50 years significant? Is such a period only measured by reference to the questioner? Aren’t guinea pigs quite social creatures? By what criteria is a guinea pig ravaged? Are there any circumstances in which they become inflatable? Were there any other known instances amongst other creatures of unravagement by inflation?”

These were words of reason, I felt. Parameters had been left sadly askew by the originator of the query. We were on the cusp of abandonment of the search for meaning. Beside us, Mr Smith leant across the bar and asked for a vodka and tomato juice and wide-bore straw.

“Perhaps they deflate so rapidly that it is impossible to detect whether inflation has occurred, such effect being triggered by a sixth sense that reacts to observation, but in the millisecond before the observer is aware.”

“Not bad, I’ll allow, but I can’t help feeling suspicious (Mr Smith shifted uneasily) when milliseconds and undetectable effects are brought into play. You’ll instantly lose your scientific rigour if you follow that route.”

Orville studied his pint, then glanced at Mr Smith’s dull red concoction. “Straws! That’s it! Guinea pigs pathologically back away from straws. Well known, that is.”

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Mixing It With Mister Phones

Having just returned from the second mixing session with the deftly-fingered and bat-eared Mister Phones at Shabbey Road studio, I thought I’d bring you up to date. We have been working to massage the lumps and bumps out of the Santa’s Twin recording of Christmas Presence, soon to be winging its way to the four corners of the globe.

Mister Phones swivels many a lugubrious glance toward my end of the control room whenever I interject with yet another suggested layer of impracticality. I sense that he would prefer to work within the bounds of possibility and that my outbursts merely serve to highlight the gulf between initial aspiration and final destination.

Nevertheless, we persist. We bear down on those tricky little curlicues of notational waywardness and suck the volume from them. Sometimes, less truly is more.

The first mix on Thursday turned out to be less than perfect. How could it have happened? The quality control department put her foot down and vetoed the product. This was a major setback. Dejection, worthlessness; you know the score (particularly you three from the left in the purple shirt – yes, you!) and so on Friday the drawing board was whipped out again. Mister Phones applied his considerable patience to the problem, and we remixed it all. We lost the verse I cocked up in one song, in a seamless transition. That’s when I allowed the first glimmer of possibility to return. We attacked glutinous vocals and raised the profile of some good effect.

Finally, we emerged with as good a mix as we could manage. The Christmas EP is now ready and will be distributed to the select few in the run up to Christmas. Quality Control has given it a fervent thumbs up. Shona the guinea pig was overwhelmed with surprise, er, admiration. We will see what we will see. If anyone reading this would like a copy they may apply by email and obtain one for free.

Here at Turn Up we hope that you will all enjoy Christmas Presence from Santa’s Twin as our gift to you.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009


Well, the office blind is rattling away in the wind in counterpoint to the rhythm of my fingers as they bring you this report. The rattle is hardly surprising in this turret thrust up into the jet stream, combined with the cracked window that not only lets an icy blast through but emits a perfect B flat as it whistles. At first I thought it may have been an effect of the slipstream created by the speed with which I type, until I managed to divert an optic nerve and a brain cell to consider the matter properly.

Research is an important component of what we do here at Turn Up. I regard it as fuel. One suspends reality with the deepest of breaths and enters a twilit realm peopled by laughing, leering faces, clattering noise and unremitting ribaldry, as if the world was steam-driven and operated by half-human circus performers, tinkers and pickpockets. It is a world of wooden floors, leathery beer, and endless echo. Worlds of nether knowledge become apparent, freshly-minted truths briefly shine like the creation of micro-universes. Wits are necessary in a slippery environment in which they are liable to go clattering off on any one of the many tangents that slant across the view.

Sometimes, of course, it is the tangent that holds the revelation. Borough Market on a Friday, a bustling, hustling, barrage of humanity. The Victorian ironwork of the railway viaducts, riveted pillars, encloses the melange of stalls. Brickwork, reflecting hundreds of years of passing trade of every sort, stands solid. Far older dust blows about our feet, in the very air we breathe.

Suddenly, across the market, we catch sight of a possibility. We’re off! Pelting after shadows down cobbled alleyways, echoes fading behind us. Up East; the swaying carriages, all thrown into normality by the lights, but glimpses through to the next car as the train wends the bends. Plunging into an avalanche, I can only go with the indivertible currents of the day, until, exhausted, I make my only real mistake; a chicken tikka pastie. Sometimes we should be protected from ourselves. Low on Mr Rennie’s elixir of balm, it is an error I would come to regret.

Tirelessly we experienced the flavours of the day. I’m not certain at the end of it whether one could say that there is anything that can be catalogued, but there remains a layer of accumulated essence for the mulling.

Such is my report.