Here’s a list of songs that generally summed up 2014 (in chronological order). There’s more, but that’s mostly classical and for another day.

Ambrose & His Orchestra – A Little Kiss Each Morning
Home studio days, tea, nature, sunny mornings, trips to Oxfam and Oxford.

St. Vincent – Digital Witness
I wondered why nobody knew about this, but everybody did, so if you didn’t know, you do now. It’s lovely and odd. Took us to the Roundhouse for the day: Marine Ices, Ray Man musical instrument shop, Masala Zone, Regent’s Park Road and 100 Chalk Farm Road (where the wonderful Pelican West was recorded). Fantastic day.

Chet Baker – There Will Never Be Another You
Until this year, I actually thought Chet Baker was a black trumpet player.

Ryan Adams – Gimme Something Good
What a song.

Music Go Music – Nite After Nite
“Show me your energy” Such a funny lyric. Love it. This is a classic yet to happen. It only has 7000 plays on YouTube – outrageous. Is this not a supersonic chorus from a big hit record?

Stephen Steinbrink – Now You See Everything
Perfect summer record and nice chap by the look of it.

Jenny Lewis – She’s Not Me
Felt like I was hearing a record introduced by Casey Kasem. Roller-rink lovely!

Ben Watt – Forget
Had the tickets for Ben’s London gig for months, but still hadn’t heard the new album. Went to see him at Village Underground in November and heard the whole thing. Bought the album the next day. Brilliant.

Bee Gees – Too Much Heaven
Super sublime recording. Getting close to Christmas…

The Pioneers – Let Your Yeah Be Yeah
First heard this in Brixton Market when it came out. This year I couldn’t stop playing it. The bass line’s everything I aspire to when I play. The recording’s magnificent.

11. AC/DC – Back In Black
I was at the gym this Christmas and the only way to drown out the awful music was to download AC/DC’s new album. Glad I did. ‘Play Ball’ is brilliant. For the same reasons I love early Quo, it’s simple clothing, simple delivery and as basic as blokes. And really, when it comes down to it I’m a guitarist first and foremost – blown away by Angus Young, Pete Townsend, Tony Peluso, Wilko Johnson, David Byrne, Brian May, Ronnie Montrose, Rory Gallagher, Frank Zappa, Mick Ronson, Jeff (Skunk) Baxter, Jeff Beck, Andy Partridge, Joe Strummer, Chris Spedding, James Stevenson, Nile Rodgers, Paul Weller, Ernie Isley, Billy Jenkins, Johnny Thunders, Clive Langer, Ian Broudie, Glenn Tilbrook, Rick Parfitt, Dave Hill, Francis Rossi, Jeff Lynne, George Harrison, James Honeyman-Scott, Marc Bolan, Brian May and Peter Frampton. I think I might write a list. ha! It all began with my brother, Pete…

I so enjoyed this year’s Let’s Rock festivals in Leeds and Southampton. A massive thanks to the fans, the organisers, Oliver Heyward for stage production and to my stellar band:

Rob Harris – guitar
Dan Western – drums
Brian Henry – keyboards
Don Chandler – bass
Rob Digweed – sax

I so appreciate playing with great musicians and such lovely chaps. Thanks guys!

I’ll have a slightly different band for Rewind. Looking forward to our first show in Scotland next week.

Kind regardens,
Nick

The Beatles, Abbey Road studios, 1964. Photograph by Terry O'Neill.
The Beatles, Abbey Road studios, 1964. Photograph by Terry O’Neill.

I was a bit of a late starter with the Beatles. I got into them ten years after they’d stopped working together as a band. It was like shopping for clothes at Kensington Market in 1981, because that’s the only place where you could find classic items and that’s what it is with the Beatles – some of the greatest designs ever made. I was too busy surfing the waves of youth culture during my teenage years to discover them, but like cherished corduroy jackets with exactly the right sleeve lengths, lapel size and pigmentation, I got into the Beatles and now rarely take them off.

I can talk about them for hours, but it’s when they catch you out driving with gems like ‘Michelle’ and the sun’s shining and it’s spring and there’s bird song coming in through the window, it can set you alight again like your first time. Of course, it’s only one of many sublime songs, but it’s also the captured period of recording and culture that I see as completely unrepeatable. We can hear great live versions of those songs, but the recordings are simply magical. Ethereal. Almost otherworldly, like this stuff was being beamed down to them from other stars, galaxies and black holes. Maybe the Beatles wore black polo necks because they actually came through black holes. Maybe we all come from black holes, but that’s another blog.

It may be because I’m in creative mode at present – writing and recording new songs – that my antennae are picking up on melodies like an ant coming in through the bathroom window (which happened to our lounge windowsill lately). We gave them lemon juice, but they seemed to like it, so we warned them that they could be sent to the light, as this windowsill is very important for eating next to and generally feeling good about sitting in front of. They got the message and some coffee granules and even a strong ticking off and now the window is clear. Beetles are welcome, Byrds, Beach Boys, Bee Gees, Billy Joel, Blur, Beechwood Sparks, Burt Bacharach, Belle & Sebastian, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Beautiful South, Ben Folds Five, Bernie Taupin, Tony Bennett, Berlin Symphony Orchestra, Norman Blake, Blondie, Bobby Darin, The Blockheads, Boston Symphony Orchestra, David Bowie, Breeders, Broadcast, James Brown, Bronski Beat, Finn Brothers (ha!), Sam Browne, Jeff Buckley, Buddy Holly, Kate Bush, David Byrne, Gary Burton, and last but not least the very, very wonderful Bellamy Brothers. Most bands beginning with B are welcome, but things beginning with A, I need to investigate. In the Meantime, there’s no ants in the carpet (dirty little monsters) and the writing and recording is going great, thanks to all artists beginning with letters.

I have a feeling cinnamon is going to influence these new recordings in some small way, but that’s because I’ve just eaten a small cinnamon & walnut cupcake. Is cupcake a band? I wonder how many bands beginning with C appeal to these taste buds. Anyway, back to the Beatles. Great band. I love bands. I love towns and I love bands. I love this universe and even though it’s bonkers, I’d like to smack its little bottom as it gets on the coach for the next pop concert.

Nick

A lovely reunion in Key West with Mr Ian Shaw. Great to see him! I made Kite with Ian when we were just a pair of nineties nippers. Now things have channelled beautifully and we both have twitters More fun vicars! 20140108-203457.jpg To be flap packing my merry way around the bars and cafés of Hemmingway Central this late in life is ever so slightly elemental. Enjoyment is my middle name. Love is all around and it’s wet wet wet, just like the UK.

I met Flip outside the The Green Parrot listening to Bill Blue. Flip’s been coming here to listen to bands for twenty years and says that “everyone here is one human family“. Certainly feels that way – Key West is lovely and dinky. 20140108-203625.jpg Immense regardenings,

Nick