Jan 14, 2013

And we are the champions my friend...

On first glimpse, it sounds a little like a documentary that might be voiced by Richard Bacon and shown on Sky Arts, with comments from Stephen Bayley and someone who sat next to Jonathan Ive at college (once). What Champions of Design II: This Time It's Impersonal (I made the last bit up, btw...) does is provide a fairly stress free introduction to product design, branding and marketing.

CommentsTags product design teaching resources brand stories

Aug 1, 2012

This bloke is a one-man music curator. Greg WIlson is a brilliant DJ and for one of the elder-statesmen of his profession he totally gets it when it comes to spreading the good word in the digital age.

Elitisim and exclusivity are things a lot of DJs hide behind. Not Greg. You drop him an email and show a genuine interest in his work, next thing you know he's asking for your address and sending you three CDRs of his edits and DJ sets. Unbelieveable.

If you don't already subscribe to his Soundcloud feed, his own site gregwilson.co.uk, or his superb electrofunkroots.co.uk go to it with haste.


Hitting Stuff and Singing In Chimneys

What a great way to preview an album. The days of the humble press release are nearly done...

CommentsTags efterklang music

Apr 11, 2012

Been meaning to blog for a while about the lovely melancholia of Grizzly Bear's Daniel Rossen. Stung into action by a couple of things - the annoucement of the Spotify Play button and an interesting blog by Lucy Jones for The Telegraph.

As technical developments go, the first piece of news hardly ranks alongside the creation of packet-switching by Treorchy's Donald Davies. After all, bloggers have been embedding music and video for a while thanks to Soundcloud, YouTube and the rest. 

It does neatly coincide with The Telegraph blog, which asks whether we are losing our respect for music due to ever-increasing accessibility to it. It's an interesting piece. Lucy Jones does a great job of presenting the argument with clarity and common sense. And she's right - we don't listen to albums in the same way as we did 10 years ago. We rarely invest hours, days, weeks obsessing over one body of work. Nowadays, it's a smash-and-grab raid of the best stuff and then onwards.

Thirty years ago, alternative music fans would be lucky to consume more than ten hours of new music a week, mostly by listening to John Peel on BBC Radio 1. If they read NME, Sounds or Melody Maker, chances are they would read about hundreds of hours of exciting music - and never get the opportunity to hear most of it. So they fell in love with the idea of the music and the music journalists who presented those ideas.

If the price to pay for being immersed in music is the music journalist gets to lose his or her gatekeeper's role, then so be it. I was a teen during the 1980s and can remember what it feels like being starved of good music. Nowadays, I love my irregular adrenalin-fuelled explorations of Spotify, Soundcloud, Beatport and The Recommender.

All of which eventually brings us back to Daniel Rossen and his lovely Silent Hour/Golden Mile EP on Warp. Not being the biggest Grizzly Bear fan on the planet, I would have ignorantly spurned this little gem were it not for Spotify. Have a listen. You might like it.


Mar 16, 2012

Merv The Swerve

Readers from Wales will be familiar with Grogg caricatures of rugby players down the ages. The one that adorned the cover of Mervyn Davies' biography, written by David Parry Jones, sits by the telly in my mother's house.

When I started watching going to watch Swansea RFC playing at St Helens in the mid 70s, the side featured three international back-row forwards. On the open-side was Englishman Mark Keyworth, while Trefor Evans of Wales played on the blind-side. Number 8 and captain was Mervyn Davies. Tall and slight, he was a dynamic player with ball in hand and workmanlike in defence. Merv was not a demonstrative man - he led by example. As a kid I always wondered why he always looked so sad.

I started going to watch Wales around this time. My father was wise to have bought a couple of debenture tickets when they built Cardiff Arms Park in 1969. They cost him £50. Even though I was lucky enough to witness the great Welsh rugby side at their best, my foremost memories of that time are following the All Whites, particularly in cup competitions.

In 1976 Swansea met Pontypool in the semi-final of the cup at Cardiff's club ground next door to Cardiff Arms Park. Pontypool had the most fearsome pack in club rugby. Whenever we travelled up there, the team would be greeted with ironic jeers by the home fans as they ran out in their pristine all-white kit to play in the rain and sludge. They invariably returned on the wrong side of a battering.

But on neutral ground Swansea outplayed the mighty Pooler. They scored a scored a try in the far corner of the ground. I think it was Roy Woodward who touched down, but my attention was drawn by one Swansea player who lay on the ground in a crumpled heap having failed to rise from the ruck that led to the try.

As my dad leapt to his feet to celebrate the score I can clearly remember pulling at the sleeve of his coat, saying: "Merv's down. Something's wrong." It didn't take long for the crowd to recognise that there something serious had happened to the Swansea skipper. It turned out that he'd suffered a brain haemorrhage. Doctors later explained that it was completely unrelated to rugby. Miraculously, he recovered from his trauma, but at 29 years of age his rugby career was over.

In the years that followed Swansea RFC become one of the strongest forces in club rugby. I followed them home and away, spending some of my happiest days on the terraces at St Helens. For the past three years I've wanted to make a documentary on that glorious time, interviewing the key figures, reflecting on their achievements during the last age of true amateurism in the sport.

It was all going to start with that fateful day in 1976 and the impact Mervyn Davies had on my hometown club. Now he's gone, but the urge to mark his contribution before it's forgotten is greater than ever before.