black and white crosley turntable
Photo by Spencer Selover on



An album often opens with a masterpiece –
Well, who wouldn’t show their plumpest wares
When setting out their stall ?
The next three tracks are singles slated for release,
They’re polished and harmonious affairs,
Beloved and sung by all.
And finally, a quirky and amusing little number
For rounding out Side One of a classic disc –
A blast, not overblown !
But flip it over, and what is this ?, we wonder –
B-sides and hidden tracks they wouldn’t risk
To stand up on their own.
If we’re lucky, then they’ll rally for the closing track,
To give us a finale worth the wait –
And cause us to forget
That for a good-while there they’d really lost their knack,
And though there’s plenty here to rate,
They could do better yet.

But here’s a thought:
If they sell a million units, gross and nett,
And if only one percent of those who bought
Approve of what they get,
And love it all from needle-drop to runout-groove –
Well, that’s a thousand fans, I swear,
With mojos quite a little richer from the buzz !
And even if we each don’t care
For ev’ry song, it’s good they’re there,
Because we each might still like one that’s going spare –
A diff’rent one, of course, for each of us.
In life, we all have tracks we know are hard to share –
But someone somewhere ain’t so square
And digs these souls we’ve lain so bare,
Even when there’s no-one else who does.



Halal Hammer

image by Feriel Kolli


Halal Hammer

“The young of North Africa are increasingly finding an outlet in home-grown heavy metal.”
                                                                                                                      – The Independent Times

The veils hide the mascara,
The crimson lips and purple hair,
And even through a burqa’s slit
The cat-eye contacts stare.
The tats are mostly stick-ons
And the piercings come right out
These rebel yells are smart enough
To know when not to shout.

The Imams don’t approve, of course,
They fear the Devil (or the Norse !)
Has led the youth astray.
But many a goth, a mosher or geek
Is still a good Muslim the rest of the week
Whatever the papers may say.
No souls have been sold, no Faustian deal,
Just amps and guitars and a grunt and a squeal.

There’s probably others more doubtful,
But music is not the cause –
For would they still be faithful
In the Taliban’s harsh laws ?
The Great Satan’s power-chords
Do not ‘corrupt’ alone,
For censor foreign songs, and they
Will simply write their own.

The Imams don’t approve, of course,
But grumpy teachers hold no force
To tempt the children back.
For ev’ry skull, and cross, and vamp,
Is less Satanic, more high-camp,
And who doesn’t love to dress in black ?
So, headbanging hedonists: hairy kids or heretics ?
Either way, the thrashers come to give them forty licks.



Bluesless Blues



Bluesless Blues

The world is sure tough,
But I still ain’t complaining –
The race may be rough,
But I’m def’nit’ly gaining.
I’ve sunshine enough
To endure when it’s raining –
My voice may be gruff,
But my cadence ain’t straining –
I ain’t got no worries ’bout paying my dues –
I got them ain’t-got-me-no-blues.

You won’t find me drunk,
Sending curses to Hades,
Whenever the Angel of Mercy is shirking.
You won’t find me sunk
When I flunk with the ladies –
There’s still conversation
When flirting ain’t working.
Just cos I ain’t singing,
It don’t mean I’m crying –
I’m nowhere near dying –
I guess I’ll keep swinging.
And just cos I’m swinging,
It don’t mean I’m jerking,
It just means I’m all outta blues.

The world is unfair,
But you won’t catch me moaning –
We all have to bear
The occasional stoning.
I should give a prayer,
But I keep on postponing –
If God is out there,
Well, I don’t think he’s phoning.
I don’t need no hand-out from angel or muse –
I got them ain’t-got-me-no-blues.

You won’t find me knelt
Sending beggings to Heavens,
Whenever this living is given a stuffing –
The hand I was dealt
Is all deuces and sevens –
Well hey, that’s two pair I got there,
That ain’t nothing !
Just cos I ain’t winning,
It don’t mean I’m losing –
If life’s still amusing,
I guess I’ll keep grinning.
And just cos I’m grinning,
It don’t mean I’m bluffing,
It just means I’m all outta blues.



Rock Pocks



Rock Pocks

Speckled is your Öyster and freckled is your Crüe,
Spıñal is your Motör and Hüsker is your Dü.
The diacritic critics may de-tittle in their punditry –
But I say, let umlauts roll with wänton-döt fecündïtÿ.


The ‘n’ in Spinal should of course have an umlaut, not a tilde, but the WordPress font just isn’t up to such awesomeness.



Rocket Roll

Blues Machine by Eric Joyner


Rocket Roll

To ev’ry band who never hit the heights,
Who play the clubs but never play the halls;
Whose name will never burn in lights,
Nor posters hang from bedroom walls –
Who always watch their fellow dudes a-strut,
And always think “We’re just as good as that !”
Who feel the calling in their gut,
But never feast upon the fat –
You’ve got the amps, you’ve got the tunes,
You’ve got your share of dweebs and loons –
Yet still you only smoulder, never blast.
You missed your chance to quit this town,
It’s gravity that keeps you down.
You’re only growing older and surpassed.

But ev’ry band with unloved riff and chord
Can always hope that Later Times may find
That album ev’ryone ignored,
And bring you forth to futurekind:
To fill the galaxy with your guitars,
And play your ballads on a thousand earths,
And sing your melodies to stars
For centuries beyond your births.
You’ve got the chance, you’ve got the pluck,
You’ve got your share of random luck:
May yet your thrusters fire, rockets gun ?
A soundtrack to the pioneers,
The very music of the spheres,
Could see you flying higher than the sun.



A God-Awful Small Affair

David Bowie by Carolyn Djanogly


A God-Awful Small Affair

Heard the news this morning on my radio –
Not the news on the hour, though…
This was news I had to know.
The DJ didn’t want to say, but did his best
Well, sometimes that’s the job, I guess.

Heard the news this morning on my radio –
But first they played a song of yours,
Though which, to my half-asleep ears, I couldn’t be sure.
My room felt like it were ten below
And I hoped that I were dreaming,
But it didn’t feel like dreaming,
So I rolled out on the floor.

Heard the news this morning on my radio –
Hell of a way to start Monday morning,
Making Winter that much greyer.
I always knew, but never thought you’d have to go
Always popping-up without warning,
Always working on the next long-player.
My room was cold,
And suddenly the world felt very old.

I tried to whistle you as I shaved,
But I couldn’t get a tune to sit,
And I ended up nicking myself a bit.
But I kinda didn’t mind,
Like you were still messing with my head.
And anyway, we shouldn’t wear black today,
But now, for you, I’m wearing red.

And hey, I only learned today
Just how to say your name,
Cos there was a right way all along.
But then, you always loved to play –
At being never twice the same,
And even your eyes could not agree…
So, I dunno, but maybe it was right that I was wrong.

Oh like Otis, Ode and Oaktree.
Oh like Oberon.

Not sure I ever understood
What any lyric meant,
Except the meanings that I brought myself, I guess.
But then, the tunes were good
And those hours that I spent
Decyphering your gorgeous mess,
The catchy lines you cut and pasted,
Never felt like they were wasted.
Anyway, they left their dent:
Each turn of phrase and smoky haze
Just made me wonder at what madness had I tasted ?

Heard the news this morning on my radio –
I have to drag myself to work,
But first I’ll put your record on.
What can I say ?  You made me glow
For twenty, thirty, forty years or so.
And then I woke this morning, and you’re gone.

Little Drummer Boy

drummer boy
A Drummer Boy of the Royal Scots Dragoon by George Joy


Little Drummer Boy

Came the boy with the drum,
In red coat and drumsticks
’tween finger and thumb
In his breeches of blue,
With his skin taut and true,
With a rat-a-tat-tat,
And a roll and a thrum,
He silenced the scrum
With a snare tattoo –
He may have been dumb,
And his feet felt numb,
But he pounded his drum
In a one-one-two.

He played for the Lord,
And the right of the sword,
With his rat-a-tat-tat,
And the planes and the bombs,
On his tom-a-tom-toms,
With a splat-a-tat-splat.
And he drummed-in the troops
With his patterns and loops,
And he drilled the recruits
In their berets and boots,
And he stamped his feet
For these proud mothers’ sons,
In a perfect beat
To their crack-a-crack guns.

On the holiest night,
With a rat-a-tat-tat,
He led the Lord’s might
With a gat-a-gat-gat.
And guided by drones,
So he led the bombs home,
Then marched all the dead out to Kingdom Come.
With a rat-a-tat-tat,
And a mournful hum,
So the innocents died
To the beat of his drum.