Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Conversations With Ben #9: Two Birthdays


Rol: Here's what Louise got me for my birthday.

Ben: Great card. Mrs. Ben's always really great at birthday stuff so yesterday I asked her what would be my worst nightmare birthdays and she answered, "dinner with your family or a surprise party".

She was right.

I can't think of anything worse than a surprise party.

I like being able to leave a party.

To be the subject of a party would be horrible.

That's why Louise & I never got married.

Did you get anything nice?

Hold Steady CD. Coffee. David Gedge book.

Open Door Policy?

Good coffee?

"How I did the Wedding Present"?

Yeah x3.

One of the first bands I was in played a full set of Wedding Present covers once.

I imagine they all sounded pretty much the same.

No way. Jose.

And I think ODP is best Hold Steady album since Stay Positive.

I've only listened to it a couple of times online, but lyrically it has a bit more depth, like his solo stuff.

I can't remember which review but one said that it was only a matter of time before the solo stuff married with THS and it did it in the best way. They're never going to write another Boys and Girls but it's still great.

Expecting bands to live up to previous glories is always a recipe for disappointment.

And the lowest point will always be Finn's first solo album.

Yeah, that was a bit dull. The next two were great though.

His solo albums since that first one have been phenomenal.

Whilst Boys and Girls might be objectively the best, Separation Sunday is my choice.

Best song is and will always be Killer Parties.

Sequestered for me.

He's got a great way of doing that song live.

Does he stand on his head?

No, just runs around doing the airquotes.

Great live band to tick off when it's safe to do so.

I saw them in a tent at a festival many years ago.

Did you come down from Boulder. Maybe eat some mushrooms?

When have you ever known me to Chill Out?

When they flooded you with saline?

Does salt help you chill? I thought it raised your blood pressure.

Maybe that's what they needed. Maybe they flatlined. I don't know. I have no medical experience.

On Sunday, Ben received the above e-card... Click to open the link. 

Thank you. The only way that could have been better is if you swapped out Bolton for lovely Sally Phillips.

Why Sally Phillips? Random.

Because Sally Phillips is the only celebrity I have ever had a crush on. And it grows each and every day.

I hated Michael Bolton when I was younger. I used to quote Denis Leary whenever his name was mentioned. 

(Leary did a routine in the 90s which culminated in the line "Bring me Michael Bolton's head on a stick". The internet has no reference to this though. Maybe I imagined it.) 

It warms the cockles of my heart to see what his career has come to... and yet, I have a grudging respect for him doing that, as it shows he doesn't take himself too seriously.

When I was 12-15 I'd only listen to music that was recommended by Kerrang! And some of the heavier indie on MTV 2. But I had a copy of Leave Right Now by Will Young. And still think it's a great tune to this day. Now I don't have time to hate on people when they're good at what they do. Bolton knows what he is and I dig that he's comfortable with that.

I pretty much just hate Bono and the Gallaghers these days. Everyone else can just carry on with whatever they're doing and I'm happy.

I don't even think U2 like Bono. Adam Clayton writes stuff then fucks off whilst Bono records it.

I also strongly dislike (though not as much as Bono) The Hedge. Purely based on his name.

As much as I hate U2's music, I have a lot of respect for the Edge as a musician. He is very innovative and you can only understand just how good he is when you try to use delay. He's got a mastery over it.

Delay is what we used to use to stop people swearing on the radio. Presumably the Hedge uses it to stop people calling Bono a #@$* all the time.

There's four knobs on a delay pedal: ping (in milliseconds), volume, repeats, and decay. It repeats the notes and you alter how it deals with the input. Quite hard to get properly if using more than a simple scratch delay (think rockabilly).

There's 5 knobs on it if the Hedge is using it.

Some do have more options.

Trying to work out if you missed the joke on purpose.

Well, the Empress pedal has a fair few more...

I got my favourite album on vinyl for my birthday.

Curtis, 1970.

Ah yes, the Tony Curtis solo album. A classic. Not as good as Richard Harris.


Don't diss McArthur Park.

How apt.

He's everything Marvin Gaye wishes he was and everything that reporters claimed What's Going On was.

That's a very muso verdict. I think there's room for both, though Marvin did his best work as a straight pop star rather than when he was trying to be a serious artist.

One of the things I love about Prince is that he exclusively used Boss pedals.

Are you back on this again?

They're a set of solid, well built ones but each one is only at the £100 price point. He was just an excellent musician.

Later that afternoon, Ben received another delivery...

This you?

No, that's Bruce Springsteen. I can understand your confusion.

You know what I mean.

It's less a birthday present than a thank you for helping cling to the tattered remains of my sanity over the last 12 months.

That said, I appreciate there's a certain arrogance or vanity in sending someone a gift you like yourself, and it's a practice full of pitfalls, so I won't be upset if you don't like it.

However, there's a certain amount of vicarious pleasure attached , since I don't have a record player or any vinyl anymore.

Thus ends the sincerity. I'll go back to taking the piss now.

Thank you. I genuinely appreciate it. it's a thoughtful gift and I get the gesture.

Now for my taking the piss response. Wow. Project much?

If it makes you feel any better, you've been a help this year too.

I've actually got a gift for you lying around until the next physical time we were going to catch up. Let me know your new address and I'll send it over.

If it's The Dream of the Blue Turtles, you can keep it.



  1. Great Curtis Mayfield track and a cute birthday card. Speaking of Michael Bolton and Dennis Leary, I think Dennis may have been listening to this when he came up with head on a stick line...


    1. Probably. Dennis Leary stole most of his act from Bill Hicks.

  2. Belated birthday greetings.
    I like the Hold Steady album

  3. Belated happy birthday- enjoying the conversational style blogpost

    1. Thanks, Adam. I enjoy them myself, but do constantly worry they come across as self-indulgent twattery.


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