Potato Land

The first band I ever saw in concert was the American group Spirit, in Walthamstow sometime in 1973.

As a five piece band, Spirit had had some success, producing a number of albums including The Twelve Dreams of Dr Sardonicus. But when I saw them they were three piece, guitarist Randy Califonia, drummer Ed Cassidy and basist Larry “Fuzzy” Knight.

There is some controversy about whether California did or did not write the theme to Stairway to Heaven (Led Zeppelin), but they were certainly responsible for one of the great lost cult albums of all time, The Adventures of Kaptain Kopter & Commander Cassidy in Potato Land.

Bits of it were played at the concert, and pieces were released in basic form over the years. And there were the inevitable bootlegs. It was a “Spirit” project, but really California’s work, a strange collection of songs interspersed with talking and a tenuous story. Much along the lines of Nilsson’s The Point, but weirder.

Now, finally, after nearly 50 years, the original music has been released: https://www.amazon.com/Complete-Potatoland-Remastered-Expanded-SPIRIT/dp/B07T4RYNVT/ref=sr_1_4?keywords=spirit&qid=1568492399&s=music&sr=1-4

There are two versions on the box set, the original and complete plus a 1981 version, very different. There are also two live concerts, which are a bit rough and ordinary.

But Potato Land is great, and hugely enjoyable. Go for i!!

Eurovision – the result

It was a very exciting contest. The songs were generally better than usual, the lack of silly performers a refreshing change, a majority of female performers, I think, with deep cut cleavage being the order of the day. I missed the lack of enormous video screen at the back – it has been responsible for many great shows.

Congratulations to Israel for winning. On the night, she really gave it all.

We voted for Lithuania, which was a rather quiet and rather sad little song.

And the voting, which is the best part of the show, gets shortened every year, but even so the show ran nearly four hours. Perhaps they could remove the interval acts? And since it’s presented in English, why do we need a UK commentator talking in English over people explaining things perfectly clearly anyway. And he was talking over the songs!

As you may have seen, the much hyped UK entry did not do well. We were third from bottom. Had we been made to compete in a semi-final, we may not even have got through to the final.

During the song, some man ran onto the stage, grabbed the microphone and shouted a message. You have to wonder what the security people were doing. The singer, SuRie, was given another microphone and finished the song, and was offered an opportunity to sing it again, but declined. I don’t know why. It wasn’t a bad song, and she sang it OK. Another exposur does help people get used to the song, and she may have done better than she actually did. Perhaps she declined because she already knew it was a lost cause.

Eurovision

It’s that time of year again, the Eurovision Song Contest.

I enjoy the ESC, and have done as far back as I can remember. It started proper in 1956, and I would have been too tiny to remember watching that, but I do have early memories of watching the black and white early 60s ones, Matt Monro and the like.

Most of us remember Sandie Shaw, who was the UK’s first big winner, Lulu and even Cliff, and there have been many great highlights since then, in the 60+ years. Abba, Riverdance, Johnny Logan, Alex Rybak, Bucks Fizz, even the wonderful Nicole:

My friends make fun of me, especially when I say I would love to go, if it was in the UK. Not much chance of that, I hear you say. We need to produce a good song by a decent singer first. They say that the voting system has been changed slightly this year to make it easier for us to win fairer.

It always looks like one great European party. People in the audience seem to be having a great time. Sure some of the songs are duff, and some are wonderful, but that doesn’t matter – everyone gets a cheer. You have ten or twenty or thirty thousand people from all over Europe showing that we are all the same, all nice people.

And not just from Eurore of course. It is Eurovision, so any country that takes the Eurovision programmes can enter, hence Australia, who have appeared for the past few years, produced really great songs and done very well. Wish they could win. It’s a truly bonding experience, and it’s good that the UK will still be in it after Brexit.

And, before you scoff, the presentation and the technology are astounding, and don’t forget it is the second most watched tv programme in the whole world, after the Superbowl…