Sunday, November 26, 2006

Henley and the Beatles

impossible songs

impossible songs

Get your Bentley down to Henley.

I spent most of last week at the Henley Business College being wined and dined by a rather large UK contractor and “reflecting” on a number of issues and challenges (so the usual kind of training course things prevailed!). Once I’d recovered from my luggage getting lost in Heathrow (Mo had it somewhere under Carousel 5 for about 45 minutes apparently) and a fevered and frantic drive along the M4 to Henley, everything settled down nicely and I had quite a good time. The highlight of the week (apart from the Celtic game viewed on the college cinema screen) was a booze cruise up the Thames, in the dark and at times in differing sizes of circles - followed by despatching a crate of wine in the college bar. They also have the best ever coffee machines there and a riverside location to die for. Education? Well just ask me about the adventures of Trafalgar House, BP or Budweiser.

The Beatles are back on my stereo.

Yesterday we (the kids and I) headed up to McDuff for my grandson’s birthday party – something I never dreamt could be so much fun or so rewarding. On the way up we stopped at Tesco in Dundee and I bought a copy of the “new” Beatles CD “Love”. Only once I’d popped it into the car stereo did I realise that in all my 52 years I’d never bought a single Beatles record, tape or CD. Now I’ve always loved the Beatle’s music, God knows I grew up with them and like most of my generation was shocked, embarrassed, confused, in love and blown away by so many of their activities that not having bought any of their material seems like a huge sin and omission. Looking back I must have been the one buying Cream or Jimi Hendrix records and then swopping them on for furtive and prolonged listens to Abbey Road or Sergeant Pepper. Anyway “Love” is an interesting mix of familiar tracks, a soundscape based on a Las Vegas circus show, remixed and at times bled together with samples from their best songs. Strangely it’s Ringo’s drums that in my opinion come out best as they pound through every track. Of course the songs are far beyond criticism or comment other than to say that the George Harrison material stands up pretty well against those other two song writing powerhouses. Funny how time slips way... and a pity they didn’t remix in a little more of the second side of Abbey Road.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Podcast explanations

impossible songs podcast


The Gcast Podcast currently playing on this page (and also on the Fairytale Management Blog and on Impossible Songs Garageband page) is made up as follows:

Hunter (Remix) - from the “Roughboys” CD. “Yes! This (Hunter) is like Belle and Sebastian with a Casio keyboard - that’s a good thing because I love Belle and Sebastian and I love Casio keyboards, nice melody, nice voice. I love the simplicity - so not overwhelming in any way. I think this is a well crafted tune and kicks a bit of ass. – sergius gregory from Homer, Alaska on 30 Oct2006” Well this how Gregory reviewed the track a few weeks ago, one thing’s for sure there is no Casio keyboard anywhere on it, to my knowledge but I’m glad he liked the track.

Let’s make Pearls - from “Scapes”. Described as “sublime alt-pop reminiscent of Electrum” by Podcaster Threefromleith. Who am I to argue?

Butterfly on the Moon - From "Hearburst", the song and title are really nothing to do with one another, it was just a great title to use (we thought). I love Ali's double tracked vocals and the whispy guitar.

White and Red (Remix) - from the “Roughboys CD”. The raspy, underlying guitar sound in the middle passages was my desperate attempt to copy Jimmy Page’s sound used on the album “Houses...”.

Bite the Baby - a bonus track from “Sneakin’ out”. The tune (?) came about from my kids and I making up a song about a Nintendo game we used to play regularly, strangely this song is currently our second best selling download!

On Nonsense - instrumental guitar stramash from “Social Enterprise”. Two separate tracks mixed together for no particular reason. Kind of an ongoing riff on “Whole Lotta Love”.

Silence – remix of a never properly released track firstly done on “Early Eurosongs” and then in this form on “Sneakin’ out”. Recorded only on DAT tape and in a hurry one Sunday afternoon in Germany. A heavier guitar was added and remastering done about a year later.

Nobody Jones – original mix from “Border Crossing”. This song gestated for about two years before we finished it and recorded it, then it got remixed, voices were added, extra guitars and synths were added and so it was lengthened by about a minute and was finally put out on “Roughboys”. Nobody Jones is a brilliant singer/songwriter currently living and performing in Edinburgh, the song is nothing to do with him; it was just that the name scanned in really well.

East of Z – East African and exotic sounding track from “Social Enterprise”.

Tokyo Skyline – from the CD “Heartburst”. Occasionally blamed on the film “Lost in Translation” but to be honest I can’t remember what came first, I think the song may have been Pittenweem or Baltimore Skyline at some point.

All songs are Barclay/Hutton compositions for Impossible Songs; production is mostly the work of Martin Freitag except when the Roughboys get involved. Martin also plays bass and has done most of the drum programmes. Siggi Richter is also in there on keyboards. Ali Hutton of course provides the main vocals and most of the lyrics; John Barclay plays a variety of guitars and twiddles with sliders and buttons on the desk. Impossible Songs’ use Cubase software and Zoom equipment to record and mix and from time to time I contribute a pot of home made vegetable soup and Ali arranges flowers. There is something quite soothing and reassuring at times in the way we choose to exhibit our muso, stereotypical patterns of behaviour.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

All your secrets

impossible songs

impossible songs

All your secrets are out there, you just don’t know about it yet, like the flowers in a Gypsy garden, like a tree hanging over your sleepy head, like a shadow hiding in a corner. All so unguarded and unremembered. Secrets that float and talk, that takes no encouragement. Grave and static, hollow and dangerous, creeping in and around the edges. Wherever you live you are seen when you think you are unseen and followed when you think the road is clear. Lights shine in your rear view mirror, occupants grow uneasy, and somebody sits on your back bumper for miles and then is gone, quickly. A phone rings in a room and then stops as you pick it up, a curtain wafts in the breeze, a door closes by itself, a dog barks. Where did the lipstick on the coffee cup rim come from? How is that paper in the bin? Where is the loose change I put down on the table? Who sent that letter? Where am I really going? All your secrets are out there, fighting for a place and fighting for space in a drowned pool. You think you are a hunter, but then you are hunted, you think you are on top of things but then you find yourself far behind the pack. Wolves and sheep meet and hold long conversations, sticks and stones build structures, names are written on walls in graffiti islands and public ruins. Posters are torn down or plastered over boarded up windows. Decay is structural and steady; truth is at the end of a tunnel that you never can reach. All your secrets are out there, all your secrets are mine...for I saw them first.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

A few days

impossible songs

impossible songs


The never ending busy-ness continues with no breather for Ali or poor old me. Tonight it’s a quick trip into OOTB to view the new fold back on the PA and see the latest additions to the Cannons’ Gait furnishings. Then via the back streets of Edinburgh up to the Baby Tiger Night at the Café Royal, where we play a half hour set through their frankly magnificent PA. Also on the bill are Lindsay Sugden and friends, Son of Thom and the Elegy. It’s a pretty good night all round and CDs are exchanged; our set is a mixture of the flawed and the perfect, whilst everyone else concentrates on cellos and tuneful guitar thumping. Thanks to Baby Tiger for putting the night on anyway.


A day at work and then recovering at home and with a full house, football practice, various neds on Buckie, visit a grandchild (and a son and daughter in law), discuss Ice Age II, eat a quick pizza, make exotic toasties, struggle with the automated tills in ASDA, “Have I got news” etc..Nice to get a few hours sleep.


Lazy sleep in at last, stay in all morning and make detailed observations on a great deal of rain, some serious chat around family business, a sick cat at the vets, then in the evening visiting some very old friends in Fife. The kids say theirs is the best home made pizza in the world, tiddlywinks, bathing a baby and getting home late. Some time spent thinking about the various consequences of loads of things and a few glasses of red wine to finish the day. Try to ignore the football results.


Bacon rolls and straight out the door and across the bridge for full on football action in not so sunny Inverkeithing. We win 3 – 2 and my boy gets number two and lays on number three. It doesn’t get better than this even if the weather is crap. Then up to the holiday cottage for a little pond forking i.e. draining the pond without falling in, whilst Ali Hoovers. The artful pond forking does seem to work though only time will tell – wait till the levels drop. The cottage’s heating isn’t working however and so despite numerous attempts at programming and cajoling the system we just give up and depart for West Lothian and a cosy stir fry (no lunch today), (Ali and I also lift the lounge carpet and leave it there). Last gasp at the OOTB accounts – we know now where we stand: Singer/songwriters in Edinburgh – we stand with you - I think! What next? A spot of extreme ironing maybe or do I try on my tux in readiness for the 007 film premiere we’re heading for on Thursday? Can't wait!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Big Time

impossible songs

impossible songs

The wedding presents we didn’t get,
The passage of thought but I still forget,
The practiced pain and the false regret.
Here is the place where time slips away.

The fish hook eyes and the pointed stare,
The glimpse or touch of your underwear,
The cement and concrete tyre track trail,
This is a place where time slipped away.

A casual glance and the journey south,
The twist in my smile, the curve of your mouth,
The splash of water to end the drought,
There in that place where time slipped away.

This is place where time slipped away,
And we’re living here still, even today,
You can visit us here but you can’t stay,
In the precious place where time slipped away.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Kids with guns

impossible songs

impossible songs

Call of the mild.

Getting too cold for my liking, we now are experiencing the two duvet and one cat nights, how long will this go on for? Experts seem to think that a prolonged cold spell (known as winter in some parts of the world) is about to break forth on us. It appears that as the Gulf Stream decays out in the North Atlantic we are no longer protected from the icy, deep water currents that prevail, or come from the North Polo (or Pole as National Geographic might put it). These big black deepwater beasts are going to cause our heating costs to soar and give us a few miserable weeks leading up to the early days of 2007. Already a white icy substance has been forming on my car windscreen every morning. No matter what I try or how often I run and rev the engine it’s back the next morning. To make matters worse I’ve just heard that all fish will die when I am 102. This means I can’t even look forward to a decent fish supper high tea for my birthday treat. The only good news seems to be that if you eat and drink like a Frenchman (or woman) your overall health will improve or at least stabilise. Hopefully it won’t go as far as having to learn the language properly. God bless the Auld Alliance I say and pass me another bottle of Tesco’s finest red plonk.


Some people want privacy and peace and enjoy building big walls around themselves, while others spend hours on the web, writing books, filming films or just blethering about everything they’ve said, done, eaten or thought about. Now the curse of the common touch of progress has blown into that utterly pointless, tacky dwelling somewhere in Edinburgh known as Bute House, as if any of us cared.

We are all bankrupt.

Well at least we had some fun spending it, though we’ve no idea what we spent it on. Perhaps a few nice lunches, some shoes that didn’t quite fit, a crap CD or DVD, a new exhaust from Kwik-fit, some golf lessons or a weekend in Paris. Money just goes, money doesn’t talk, it swears and now more Scots than ever are broke and probably staring into wardrobes full of shirts or dresses they don’t really like the look of. At least the Clydesdale Bank, HBOS and RBS are doing alright as are the acres of shopping big sheds and malls that munch on the carcasses of once vibrant towns. Whatever the plight of the chattering classes, financial bankruptcy isn’t the worst kind of debt to be in. It’s when you lose your soul you’ve got the real problems and there is no helpline in the Indian sub-continent or a bureau or a website that can get that back for you – it’s other people you have to look to then.


The drug of choice for the rich and famous that has left a bloody and despairing legacy in Columbia. Every year the FARC Marxists guerrilla group earns about £2 billion from the trade while snooty white kids snort it through £20 notes in the hope that they’ll get high and get feted and glamorised like Kate Moss or some other pretty air-head. I’d imagine that these good people make sure they drink fair trade coffee, eat dolphin free tuna, use eco friendly detergents and want to “make poverty history”. It’s a shame they don’t get the connection between their cocaine and the misery meted out to the peasants of South America who survive by growing the stuff while looking down the barrel of an AK47.