Tuesday, 20 September 2016

20th Sept

As I type I can still proclaim that Teenage Fanclub "Here" is a Top 10 album in the UK. Hooray.

Haven't bought it yet? Click 'here' (*chortle*).

Guess what we were up to last week?

On Saturday I took my wee boy to see the filming of a BBC show "The Dog Ate My Homework" (thanks, Hannah). 

At the School Disco section the whole audience had to get up and dance while the cameras whizzed around. Must set my video.

I liked these extracts from John Le Carre's autobiography. Favourite line on his troubled relationship with his father: 

"when we buried the hatchet, we always remembered where we’d put it."

And the hits just keep on coming. I was delighted to be asked to arrange a piece of music for the Decca Classics album "The Lost Songs Of St Kilda". The Scottish Festival Orchestra played, James Macmillan conducted and - only my track - Julie Fowlis recited and sang. The other composers were James Macmillan, Craig Armstrong, Rebecca Dale and C. Duncan. Our arrangements sat alongside solo piano recordings by the late Trevor Morrison. At the moment is sitting at No1 in the Official Classical Artist Albums Chart and on the Classic FM Chart.

Once again (I know!) here is my track with Julie - "Dùn" (Spotify link

Sad but interesting article about Julius Eastman here.

I am going to see this tonight.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

The Truth About Me And Babs

On Monday Teenage Fanclub performed a live session for Lauren Laverne at 6music. Click here to see us playing "Thin Air".

As we were loading the van outside afterwards, who comes blinking' swannin' by but the one and only Barbara Windsor. I told her that I could make a lot of people jealous if I could get a photo with her and she obliged. We didn't bug her for too long but she was lovely and friendly and quick to smile.

In the evening we played an in-store at the Rough Trade Record Shops and I picked up some swag:

A curry in Brick Lane...

...then bed.

Today I was interviewed on BBC Radio Scotland's Janice Forsyth Show discussing my involvement with "The Lost Songs Of St Kilda" - an amazing project to be part of (sorry (not sorry) to repeat myself...).

Unfortunately it was a pre-record and they edited in the wrong track by accident. So here's me banging on about the great Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis and how privileged I was to be asked, along with these other esteemed composers, to write for string orchestra and harp - and then a different track entirely was broadcast. D' oh!

You can hear my track featuring Julie here.

A while ago I blogged about my day in the studio with James Macmillan, Craig Armstrong, C Duncan, Rebecca Dale and The Scottish Festival Orchestra. The St Kilda songs album was released the same day as TFC's "Here" and The Beatles "Live At The Hollywood Bowl". It's going to be a close run thing for the No1 spot.


If you haven't enjoyed his recent work you might not be converted by Woody Allen's "Cafe Society" - but I liked it. Fun - if not wildly funny - and sweet and beautifully shot. A favourite line (which must have been kicking around before now): "Live each day like it's your last and one day you'll be right."

So have you bought this yet?

If the answer is "no" click here....

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Here Is The News

TFC had fun at the Heart Of Gold, Heart Of Glass festival in Camping Les Tours, Saint Amans Des Cots (en France) on Friday. 

We then had quite a schlep back to London in order to be up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for a performance on The Andrew Marr Show on BBC One telly.

I had the rest of the day to myself in London. 

I visited The National Gallery (Rembrandt's self-portrait at the age of 63 is a favourite), The National Portrait Gallery (great William Eggleston exhibition; memories of meeting the man himself once in Memphis, and memories of Alex Chilton too), I ate Mexican food, I saw a West End show (matinee performance of The Play That Goes Wrong - which was fun), and the new Pedro Almodóvar flick which unfolded pleasingly.

I also bought these books as a birthday gift for - me.

So now I know all about art. Ask me anything.

Tomorrow (as I type) we’ll do a live session for Lauren Laverne on 6music and in the evening we will play an in-store at Rough Trade in Brick Lane. Then it’s home for a bit.

The recent gigs in Bristol, End Of The Road Festival in Dorset, London, Edinburgh and Manchester have been increasingly hot and sweaty...

Manchester audience spontaneously combusting last week
But it is all worth it when someone from Japan gifts you a nice new pair of socks (thanks, Keiko).

A pair of Japanese socks last Wednesday
Recent tour chat has included theorising on the construction of a grosvenor pie (I think Gerry cracked it); the difference between a sauce and a reduction (unresolved); and a brief Norman routine about trombone players being able to practice on their way to a gig with the sliding handle on their suitcases. You had to be there; well-oiled and giddy with sleep deprivation...

I got on a wee nostalgic country kick the other nights and made a spotify tour soundtrack compilation called Gems. Thanks, Norman, for the Tom T. Hall discovery. I have been overdosing on "Ony’s Bop" in particular…

TFC’s new album “Here” is finally released, of course. Hurrah. (You've bought it, right?)

And it is worth it's own blog but at the risk of repeating myself, (*coughs*) I am very glad to be a part of “The Lost Songs Of St Kilda” (Decca Classics). It's not often I get asked to write for 20-piece string orchestra and harp  (The Scottish Fiddle Orchestra) conducted by James MacMillan with vocals by Julie Fowlis. 

More about this amazing story here.

Au revoir. x

Monday, 29 August 2016

Sempre Libra

Last night I saw La Traviata performed by Opera Bohemia in a church in Glasgow (same company and venue as my first opera experience a few years ago) - which was nice. Love it when they belt out those arias. I wonder if Verdi ever imagined there would be amateur productions in Scottish suburban churches 170 years after its debut? Maybe he did.

I was glad to get to work on the music for "The Fade", a new documentary feature by director Andy Mundy-Castle.

There's a wee article here.

I liked director Hamy Abu-Assad's "Omar"when I saw it a couple of years ago.  I didn't know what to expect of The Idol but I dug it. A lot.

On a whim I gave this a go:

Not sure why. Maybe something to do with Grand Budapest Hotel and Youth. I dunno. Anyway I grooved to its atmospheric setting and clipped wit:

"Reciprocity was a state unknown to Mrs Pusey, whose imperative need for social dominance, once assured by her beauty and the mute presence of an adoring husband, had now to be enforced by more brutal means."

What else? Both Tom Hanks and Zaha Hadid were a good listen on Desert Island Discs podcasts - ideal soundtracks for cycling around Glasgow.

I am also up for a bowl of this - and not just for the better-late-than-never explanation of a pun which must have passed me be throughout Breaking Bad: 'S'all good, man....

Next Friday in Glasgow New Music Scotland is hosting a day of Networking And Discussion. I am sure glad I popped along to one a couple of years ago; I've met some good people and had some great experiences. And you don't have to have studied at a conservatory in order to be welcomed.

Meanwhile the first of several Teenage Fanclub gigs kicks off in Bristol this Saturday. Have you ordered the new album yet?

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Aug 18

Yesterday I wrote "Francis" for 3 hours on some vinyl LP covers. I am looking forward to writing "Francis" repeatedly on some CDs soon. Have you ordered yours yet?

So I'm onboard with Stranger Things. It keeps making me think what a great film E.T. is.

This is one powerful film:

Here's how to turn the Royal Albert Hall into the upstairs folk club in a pub.

What have St Kilda, Julie Fowlis, James MacMillan, Craig Armstrong, Rebecca Dale, C Duncan, The Scottish Festival Orchestra and me got in common? You will find out on Sept 9th....

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Potatoes And Molasses

I saw "Over The Garden Wall" recommended by Graham Linehan on Twitter. 5 episodes in I can vouch that it's creepily fun family viewing...

Apropos of nothing, I like the look that Henri Dutilleux is rocking in this picture:

I enjoyed the Merchant City Festival panel chat about album artwork on Friday, sponsored by the good folks at Glasgow Music City Tours. I was reminded that I used to pore over this when I was nine years old...

I picked up a pair of these for £3 at Tiger in Glasgow:

Anyone recommend a good VR app?

Six new contestants on Cash Trapped this week. I'll miss Es.

I got an email from young Polish boy praising the music. Good for my fragile ego while half of Twitter demand to know what happened to The Chase...

Onwards and sideways.

Friday, 5 August 2016


I am going to miss Cash Trapped (featuring my blinkin' music) today cos I am talking on this panel about Record Covers...

I've been reading Blair Tindall's "Mozart In The Jungle". Charlie Watts pops up and make a nice impression.

This week I watched and dug "La Grande Bagarre De Don Camillo"

...which put me mind of Cinema Paradiso...

(Itzhak Perlman pops up in Mozart In The Jungle too).

BTW if you fancy a smashing' family film, this gets my vote...