A Post About Blogging, Bloggers and A Meet-Up In Edinburgh

Last time, I wrote about the television drama Stranger Things, where a tear in the fabric of reality means the town of Hawkins, Indiana, is exposed to a hostile alternate reality after a local scientific facility inadvertently creates a portal. I do like a drama with alternate realities, but of course I didn’t ever expect to become part of one…, until last week!

Hawkins from Stranger Things – a bad alternate reality

But don’t be alarmed – the alternate reality I was exposed to wasn’t hostile in the slightest, it was merely a bunch of like-minded music bloggers finally getting together in the real world, in Edinburgh to be exact, as opposed to virtually in the comments boxes of our blogs.

Edinburgh with blogging buddies – a good alternate reality


I have recounted the story of why I started this blog many times so won’t bore you with it again, but suffice to say, I like sharing my thoughts, and I like rock and pop trivia – a blog merging those two themes would serve me well I thought. In time I found other music blogs, Jez’s A History of Dubious Taste was the first, and by contributing to the comments boxes over at his place I found more music bloggers who were kind enough to add me to their sidebars. I certainly didn’t anticipate this happening when I started this place, but over the years I have actually met up with a few of them, and after a lot of delays due to the pandemic a date was finally fixed in the calendar for me to meet up again with the lovely C from Sun-Dried Sparrows. We had met up three years earlier in London, which was written about here, but now it was maybe time to include those other bloggers who have also expressed an interest in meeting up in the real world.

And so it came to pass that six of us (and partners) spent a really enjoyable few days in Scotland’s capital city last week. As most of us use an alias for our blogs, there was still an element of virtual reality going on, but to be honest, going by anything but your blog name would just feel weird in such a scenario. C and I stayed at a perfectly comfortable chain hotel five minutes from Waverley (which was handy for me as I think I heavily overpacked), CC and his wife came through from Glasgow on the second day, The Swede made a bit of a holiday of it staying for the week, Martin came all the way up for a single day (which was much appreciated), and John Medd (who has never gone by an alias and was teased relentlessly about it – I’M JOHN MEDD!) and his wife were on their way to a family wedding in Moray, so a perfect stopping off point. Everyone had already met at least one person in the group before, and on that Venn diagram of blog sidebars, we all overlap, so although there were a few initial nerves (for myself and C at any rate), it all went really well. To those of you who couldn’t make it this time, maybe another time, another city?


Needless to say a fair few hostelries were visited which was another break from reality for me, as just not something I do much in my current life, but when on a bloggers summit an’ all that. One of the highlights of the few days came about because John had found a Wednesday afternoon Open Mic session, and we all met up to hear him perform some of his own material. The ‘Old Boys Network’ was really welcoming, and quite bemused I think to hear we were a bunch of music bloggers who had (in the main) never met before. Being the only person in the group not to go by an alias, I’m sure John won’t mind me sharing a picture and a link to his Soundcloud where you will find some of the songs he performed (Camberwick Green being my favourite). A really enjoyable afternoon.

But it wasn’t all eating, drinking and making merry, we all did our own thing for much of the day and as C had never visited Edinburgh before we did a lot of walking together over the few days. In fact it wasn’t until I came home and DD showed me how to work out how many steps I’d done on my phone, I realised just how much walking we had done. Up and down the Royal Mile a few times, along Princes Street a few times, out to Haymarket and in the other direction out to Holyrood Park, almost climbing Arthur’s Seat in the process (but cut off at the pass). The weather was warm but not too sunny, which was a blessing considering how hot it was in the south of the country last week.


But what is it I always say at around this point – this is a music blog, so where is the music? Well here’s a thought. At one point in proceedings the conversation turned to, ‘What was your favourite ever gig?’. Of course blind panic kicked in for me, as over the last few decades I’ve not been known to attend many. As it turned out I shouldn’t have worried, as nearly everyone picked one from when they were a late teenager. There must be something about that time in your life that heightens the senses to everything you experience, and as we get older those senses are sadly dulled. My favourite ‘gig’ (although I would still refer to it as a concert) was the 2 Tone Tour that came to Aberdeen when I was aged 19. I’ve written about it around here already and shared something from Madness that time, so perhaps time to give Pauline Black and The Selector a mention this time. Oh to still have that much energy.

On My Radio by The Selector:


On My Radio was The Selector’s biggest hit and reached the No. 8 spot on the UK Singles Chart in 1979, just around the time I went to see them, along with Madness and fellow Coventry-based band The Specials. What a time to be alive. Glad I had it up my sleeve as a ‘gig’ to remember.

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – An odd song choice for a post about a bloggers get-together in historic Edinburgh, but then again, quite apt in a way. If I hadn’t been obsessed by listening to my little transistor radio as a teenager, I probably wouldn’t have got into chart music quite so much, and if I hadn’t got into chart music back then I wouldn’t have had as much to write about around here. You see where I’m going? Without the stories and songs written about in this blog I wouldn’t have like-minded followers and without those followers on my sidebar there would have been no ‘bloggers summit’.

As most of us still like to wear the blogger’s cloak of anonymity, I won’t share any of the pictures taken in Edinburgh, but they do exist, so who knows, maybe one day. As I said I didn’t expect to ever meet up with any of the people who visit this place, and whose blogs I also follow, but now that it’s happened (several times now), I see it as a wonderful upside to this hobby of ours. As for all the personal stuff I’ve shared around here, I’m now regretting some of it, but hey ho, the price you have to pay to venture through that tear between the virtual and real world. I would thoroughly recommend it.

Until next time…

On My Radio Lyrics
(Song by Neol Davies)

I bought my baby a red radio
He played it all day, a-go-go a-go-go
He liked to dance to it down in the streets
He said he loved me but he loved the beat

But when I switch on I rotate the dial
I could see it there driving him so wild
I bought my baby a red radio
He said he loved me but he had to go

It’s just the same old show on my radio
It’s just the same old show on my radio
It’s just the same old show on my radio
It’s just the same old show on my radio
On my radio, on my radio, on my radio

I bought my baby a red radio
He played it all day a-go-go a-go-go
He liked to dance to it down in the streets
He said he loved me but he loved the beat

It’s just the same old show on my radio
It’s just the same old show on my radio
It’s just the same old show on my radio
It’s just the same old show on my radio
On my radio on my radio on my radio

It’s just the same old show on my radio (I bought my baby a red radio)
It’s just the same old show on my radio (A red radio a-go-go a-go-go)
It’s just the same old show on my radio (A red radio I rotate the dial)
It’s just the same old show on my radio (A red radio driving him so wild)

It’s just the same old show on my radio (I bought my baby a red radio)
It’s just the same old show on my radio

“The Prince”, Madness and The 2 Tone Label

A joyful evening in the midst of all the political upheaval, as the band Madness have just been performing at this year’s Glastonbury Festival and I am reminded of how much I enjoyed them in the late ’70s when the 2 Tone label suddenly flooded the charts with great ska music, updated for a new generation. In those pre-internet days, pretty much the first and only time you would ever see a band perform would be on Thursday night’s Top Of The Pops. If you liked pop music it was a must-watch show and even in the sterile atmosphere of that little studio at television centre, with an often-bored looking audience being marshalled from stage to stage, you could really tell that these young lads were just a little bit special. Of course I didn’t realise at the time that The Prince they were singing about was in fact an early sixties Jamaican ska artist called Prince Buster, and that they had taken their name from one of his songs from that period.

The Prince by Madness:

As was wont to happen in those days, a new cultural movement emerged overnight and suddenly the soft rock and disco records that we were used to listening to seemed ridiculous and irrelevant, especially to young urban males. The 2 Tone label was set up in Coventry by Jerry Dammers of the Specials and very quickly ska/reggae/punk influenced records were being released by The Specials, Madness, The Beat and The Selector. The artwork for  the record sleeves was of course two tone, featuring a black and white checkerboard and a man wearing the ska uniform of black suit, white shirt, black tie, white socks, black loafers and of course, the very necessary pork pie hat.

220px-Specials_Message_to_You_Rudy_single_cover

As for me, I was a student at the time and when we discovered that the 2 Tone Tour (has a nice ring to it) of late 1979 was coming to our city it was a no-brainer that we should go and see all these great acts live. It was going to be held in one of the big night-clubs usually frequented by weekend John/Joan Travoltas and this is where I made my first mistake – Because of the venue, I wore one of my “disco-dancing” outfits (wasn’t called clubbing in those days) complete with footless tights and shocking pink sparkly accessories. I don’t know how they managed it, but 99 percent of the audience that night were dressed in full “rude-boy” uniform complete with pork pie hat. This was the North of Scotland for goodness sake but all the charity shops within a 50 mile radius must have been totally raided of vintage clothing, and who knew that so many pork-pie hats could still have been in circulation. Yes, the shocking pink accessories stood out amongst all the black and white so in order to feel less conspicuous we quickly moved up to one of the balcony areas, to witness the phenomenon that was 2 Tone, from there.

The night started off with The Selector and frontwoman Pauline Black turned in an energetic performance culminating with their hit record On My Radio. Next up was Madness and of course we were treated to The Prince but the difference here was that they had Chas Smash whose role in the band was pretty much solely, dancer. Looking back at the clip now, this is exactly how he performed right through the set. He and Suggs made a great double act, a couple of likely lads from Camden Town doing something that was totally different.

chas smash

I was sad to see that Chas Smash was not with the band at Glastonbury as he is “off doing solo projects” at the moment (they’ve had a falling out then). Something I have just got to the bottom of however is this – During the 1979 concert Chas at one point got down into the audience and it was hard to work out what he was doing. It looked as if he was in a fight, but then again the punches looked as if they were choreographed and part of his style of dancing. Turns out that it was commonplace for a skinhead element to come to the concerts somehow thinking that because of the style of clothing and haircuts, these bands had a similar mentality. Of course this could not have been further from the truth and if certain racist remarks were made, some of the band members got down into the audience to deal with it themselves – Young men and lots of testosterone.

The final band to perform that night were Coventry-based, 2 Tone founders, The Specials.  Not so much “nutty boys” but more politically informed which came through in their lyrics. Terry Hall, their lead singer, always had a bit of the Herman Munster look about him I felt which was probably intentional. Not possible to sing about the really serious issues of the day (Ghost Town) if you look like a teen-idol. We definitely witnessed something from music history that night however as the whole 2 Tone concept was short-lived and quickly morphed into something else.

As for Madness they are still out there doing their thing and although the dancing is no longer quite as energetic, they still make me smile. Aged only 18 in the clip, Suggs is now 55 and he got his grandchildren up on stage at Glastonbury at the end of their set to view the ocean of festival-goers. Could he have envisaged doing that back in 1979 when they were surreptitiously beating up unsavoury audience members? I doubt it very much, but I am very glad he did.

The Prince Lyrics
(Song by Lee Thompson)

Buster, he sold the heat with a rock-steady beat

An earthquake is erupting, but not in Orange street
A ghost-dance is preparing, You got to help us with your feet
If you’re not in the mood to dance, step back, grab yourself a seat
This may not be uptown Jamaica, but we promise you a treat

Buster, bowl me over with your bogus dance, shuffle me off my feet
Even if I keep on runnin’, I’ll never get to Orange street

So I’ll say there’s nothin’ left to say, for the man who set the beat
So I’ll leave it up to you out there, to get him back on his feet

Buster, bowl me over with your bogus dance, shuffle me off my feet
Even if I’ll keep on runnin’, I’ll never get to Orange Street

Bring back the
Who is the
We want the
Bring back the Prince…aahh!