Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Yorkshire Music

Somehow last night I'd managed to earworm myself with 'Will You Stay Tonight' by Sheffield band, The Comsat Angels and so dug out the albums ready to play this morning. I'd not listened to them for a while and it's always good to renew an acquaintance with music as good as that. Searching round for something to read, I spotted 'I'll Go To T'Foot Of Our Stage - The Story of Yorkshire Pop Music' by Craig Ferguson sitting on the bookshelf where it had lain for over a year without me getting round to reading it. And so came about a theme for the day.

The book's a good read*, chronicling the pop and rock music of my home county from Ronnie Hilton to Richard Hawley. Early on it poses the question: ‘Why have so relatively few Yorkshire pop acts been successful?’ and glibly answers: ‘Because most of them are crap’. The author then spends another 225 pages proving this wrong and given that it’s inspired my listening today, I have to agree.

It’s got plenty of anecdotes and interesting facts too. Did you know that Ian Reddington who played Vernon Tomlin in Coronation Street, was once in a band called Musical Vomit with Ian Craig Marsh and Glenn Gregory of Heaven 17? As I was working through it, band names and artists that I associate with Yorkshire kept popping into my head and he dealt with nearly every one of them. Sadly he missed out that great prog-folk-rock act from Harrogate, Wally who were the first band I ever saw live. Shame.

So far today I’ve listened to: The Comsat Angels, New Model Army, The Wedding Present, The Mekons, Scars, The Human League, Gang of Four, 2.3, Black Star Liner, The Redskins and Pale Saints.

Ready and waiting for another day, in no particular order, are: Wally, Delta 5, Pulp, Terrorvision, Babybird, Shed Seven, Heaven 17, Kaiser Chiefs, Be Bop Deluxe, The Cribs, Arctic Monkeys, The Music, The Cult, The Sisters of Mercy, Jake Thackray and The Housemartins.

*and an easy one too, it's taken me less than a day to read it, though I did miss out TNWOBHM

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Lahore Kebab House, N22

The Lahore Kebab House just off Commercial Road in London E1 has a legendary reputation for good food and service. Plenty of friends, many of whom used to work round the corner from it, have given it glowing recommendations over the years but for some reason I’ve never been, though I’ve always wanted to. So when I read in the local newspaper that they‘d opened a branch just round the corner from our house, I knew I had to pay a visit. It seemed a bit strange that they were branching out, though I’ve since learnt that they’ve already got a branch in Streatham, and that of all places to branch out to they should choose Wood Green Shopping City but I’m certainly glad they did.
Tucked away in the ‘Food Court’ of The Mall, as it’s now called, between Subway and Burger King, it seems a little out of place but hopefully people will soon realise it’s there and start using it lots as it deserves to be as successful as its parent. That said, it was by no means empty and seemed to be doing a steady trade both in the restaurant and at the take away counter and as I left a group of five came in. There’s no red flock wallpaper or any of the other trappings of the classic British curry house but it’s comfortable and clean and the food and service are top notch.
Dinnertime for me normally consists of a sandwich and a packet of crisps but I breakfasted early and lightly today in preparation for something a bit more filling. I’d heard about their lamb chops so I had to have them and then I went for my usual order when eating from a curry house that I’m new to, Chicken Madras, served up with Pilau Rice and a Tandoori Paratha. I would have liked to have washed it down with a Cobra but they don’t have a licence so I ordered an orange juice instead. In addition, when I sat down they served me with a simple salad and a bowl of raitha.
When the lamb chops came, I was a little taken aback by the amount. The menu said: five pieces, but they were larger than I’d anticipated and arrived sizzling on a skillet with onion and fresh coriander. They were well above my expectations, tender, juicy and spicy and despite knowing that I still had a fair amount of food to come I polished them off with relish, leaving behind a pile of gnawed bones.
The waiter asked if I was ready for the main course and checked that I knew that a madras is hot. Yes on both counts but now I started to worry that it would be too hot. I needn’t have worried, it was perfectly spiced, the rice was perfectly cooked and the paratha did what it needed to do. With the exception of the butter brushed on the paratha, the food wasn’t at all greasy, the chicken wasn’t at all rubbery and the whole lot was an absolute delight to eat and all that was left at the end was a few grains of rice and a clean plate. Ok, so now I’m completely stuffed and probably won’t be able to face much in the way of tea but what the hell, it was a lovely dinner and I’ll be going back very soon.
Our favourite local curry house, La Kera on Coburg Road, closed a couple of years ago and is sadly missed but in The Lahore Kebab House, I think we’ve found a suitable replacement at last.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

I heard a Rumer

We watched the Hootenanny last night in our now regular ritual of welcoming in the New Year. Jools introduced Rumer to the microphone and I felt a bit worried. Another woman singer who I'd heard of but had never heard. Would she be any good or would she be a member of that all too frequent band of women singers nowadays who sing all the right notes and far too many more besides? I should have trusted Jools' judgement, she was great. She sang all the right notes, only the right notes, in the right order and sang them beautifully.

I don't know who's really to blame for this trend in recent years to sing five notes when one will do but Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey must take their share of it. Why do they do it? Are they trying to show off some sort of vocal dexterity by singing so many notes? Or are they so rubbish that they think that if they sing five instead of one that at least one of them will be the right one? Whatever, it sounds crap to me and it's one of the many reasons I don't watch stuff like X Factor. It may be fine if you're on a Swiss hillside trying to communicate with someone in the next valley but leave that to Frank Ifield. Remember, Less is More.

Anyway, she may have looked as though she takes fashion tips from Liza Minnelli but what an absolutely belting voice Rumer has. I also enjoyed Plan B who I've not really listened to before so I'll be making a trip down The High Road to HMV in the near future.

On Thursday night we went to the ballet. I haven't anything to add to what Glenda has to say about it, so read about it here.