Monday, March 31, 2008

Minehead Bonus Material

From March, 1964: "The Beatles - Allison Clark of Williton, Somerset meets the Beatles at Minehead railway Station, Somerset." Beatle Paul has some serious eyeliner on. Ringo really has got a seriously big nose...

Sunday, March 30, 2008

This Record Is Quite Nice, Actually

Sun Kil Moon: Moorestown (Caldo Verde, 2008)
I've banged on (and on) about Mark Kozelek / Red House Painters before, but there's a reason for that. He's a truly great song-writer and they were the Greatest Band Of All Time. So, there we go. Anyway, this is from Mark's new album - April - which is very, very good. I've been sat on this for a while and listening to Lost Verses, or Tonight In Bilbao literally quite a lot. This track, with it's circling piano line and soft shuffle drums sounds particularly like Ver Painters of old. It is Music For A Wet Sunday writ large and I hope you like it even a fraction as much as I do.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Landcroft Picture Services: 3 Butlins Minehead

The third in our occasional series: this has been requested by Davy H who asks, "Do you have any pictures of Minehead Butlins? I went there when I was six - in 1971. I joined the Beaver Club and everything..." Well Davy, I don't have anything Beaver related, but here's three ladies on a canoe. "Butlins Holiday Camp in Minehead holiday resorts in Britain. Having fun paddling in a pool June 1962"

I also have a picture of The Beatles helping a little girl off the train in Minehead in March 1964, but I'm sure no one wants to see that...

Friday, March 28, 2008

Salsa Verde

Me and Scrap took a trip to Moxon's and chose a fish each for lunch yesterday - me a sea bream and him a mackerel. While we in there I bumped into someone from Derby who I haven't seen since I was 18. And he's lived up the road from me here in East Dulwich for years. I love it when things like that happen.

keeps in the fridge for ages and is good with both grilled fish and meat
2 - 3 big handfuls flat parsley leaves
4 anchovy fillets in olive oil, drained
2 tbsp capers, drained and rinsed
1 shallot , roughly chopped
juice of 1 lemon
4 – 6 tbsp good olive oil

Place the parsley leaves, anchovy fillets, capers and onion in a mini food processor and whiz until finely chopped. Add the lemon juice and olive oil and whiz again then season with black pepper.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Hello Old Thing, Hello New Thing: 28

Eddie Bo: Check Your Bucket (Bo Sound, 1970)
The record reveals its beauty in many ways. It starts out like a fairly standard - if supernaturally heavy - funk 7" of 1970, but then, within moments, it's shifting melodic gears and transplanting a whole new bridge right there before the chorus. This is brave and unusual. Then Bo starts singing and this incredible thing emerges. "Everybody needs a love-bucket like mine," he exclaims. And he's right. I'd never even considered my needs vis-à-vis the whole love-bucket thing before, but now it's utterly plain and simple and wonderful. "For the goody love bucket is so doggone hard to find..." It is though, isn't it? I think there's a vaguely sexist undercurrent to this whole "love-bucket" concept, but this is neither the time - nor the place - to go into it. Suffice to say, this is a brilliant record that sits neatly among many, many other brilliant records (and a couple of not so brilliant ones) on this.

Attack In Black: Young Leaves (Hassle, 2008)
Oh yeah, you know me, I love a bit of pank rack, innit? I like this for the following reasons. It has a nice "tune". It sounds a bit like Buffalo Tom. And Lemonheads. And - oh dear - it reminds me a trifle of this, a fact which doesn't say a lot for my emotional development or popular music in general. But there you go. Anyway, Ver 'Tack are from Canada and are signed to the same label as - *gulps* - Cancer Bats. I stole this from their new record (word to the wise - this is the best track)

Landcroft Picture Services: 2 Deptford

BLTP piped up to ask whether we had any nice pictures of Deptford. Do we? Only, like, a hundred... Anyway, we like this one a lot. "A man working in his shop at Deptford. November 1969". Simple, but wonderfully effective. He looks like a cross between Benny Hill and Ronnie Barker - how can you not love him?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Bakewell Tart

Bakewell tart is nothing like the real Bakewell Pudding it is derived from. Though I am from Derbyshire, even I will admit that the tart is much nicer, really, than its flabby ancestor. In the Anchor & Hope, they do a very good one with damson jam in it.

Serves 10
300g sweet or regular shortcrust pastry
100g unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs, beaten
1/2 jar good red jam
125g golden caster sugar
1/2 tsp almond or vanilla extract
150g ground almonds
25g flaked almonds
vanilla ice cream, to serve

Preheat the oven to 190°C, gas 5. Line a deep 20cm tart tin with the pastry and chill for a bit, if you have time. Line with parchment, fill with baking beans and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the baking beans and parchment and return to the oven for 5 minutes until lightly golden and set.

Cool a little then spread the jam over the pastry. Turn the oven down to 180°C, gas mark 4.

Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Begin adding the eggs, a little at a time then stir in the almond extract and the ground almonds. Spoon the mixture over the jam and level it out with the back of a spoon.

Sprinkle over the flaked almonds. Return the tart to the oven for 30–35 minutes until golden and just set. Leave to cool a while before getting out of the tin.

Landcroft Picture Services: 1 Stoke Poges

Here to kick off our new feature, Landcroft Picture Services we take a visit to Stoke Poges (no Skelmersdale, sorry James) after a request from Jackie. That desciption in full - "Golf at Stoke Poges Golf Club November 1923. Roy Royston (left) and Cyril Tolley wrapped up in the cold weather prepare to start a game of golf wearing plus fours." Gets you right there, doesn't it?

Do you desire a gawp at a (probably) black and white picture of somewhere you once went to when you were 8? Let us know, we're here to help...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

"Not A Good Look": Textbook Definition Just In

It's only taken 39 years, but - finally - the textbook definition of Not A Good Look has arrived. From May 1969, here is a "Man and woman dressed up in identical matching unisex outfits". Perhaps you, like me, will have noticed that it's not entirely clear which is the man and which is the lady. Of course, that's the point, but if it means you both look like something that fell out of the back of a broken spaceship then maybe it's time for a rethink. Rather like this young lady (with great Poldark shoes), photographed in December 1969 has. And no, it's not Wendy bloody Richards. Point of interest: would you choose The Professionals (already three years old by this time) or the brand new Battle Of Britain were we to all have a night out together at that nice cinema in the background?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Some Nice New (And Old) Music For Easter

Annak is wearing a peach print Dacron lawn turban bombe which - as you will no doubt remember - is a classic example of the "million dollar baby", grow-your-own-glamour look that was popular for about 14 seconds in spring 1970. Personally, I prefer the bloke smoking a gasper, he's properly cool.

Anyway, it's easter holiday time. Here are some records that are good

M83: Graveyard Girl (Virgin, 2008)
Jackie DeShannon: West Virginia Mine (Capitol, 1971)
Born Ruffians: I Need A Life (Warp, 2008)
Fela Kuti: Untitled (EMI, 1974?)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Hello Old Thing, Hello New Thing: 27

Tintern Abbey: Vacuum Cleaner (Deram, 1967)
There is, literally, nothing not to like about this. For one, it has a great intro. For another, it has that super-heavy bass meets knitting-needle drums that just sounds better and better the more you turn it up. For a third, it features the lyric, "Fix me up with your sweet dose, now I feel like a ghost" which is, actually, quite profound. And, finally, it has an amazing backwards guitar solo that only just fits into the space they've left for it. This is the B-Side of the only single they ever recorded. I stole it from here.

Kashmere: The Genesis (YNR Productions, 2008)
Finding this in the pile was one of the moments that make opening your post worthwhile. In among the crapola indie bands and, I kid you not, lesbian blues duos, was Kashmere a British hip hop artist who has what scientists call The Whole Package. He writes brilliant lyrics, has a great voice, he looks good and has the sort of production thump that makes your windows fall out. So, for all those reasons, I hope you'll forgive the Don't Bootleg This CD! alerts that are dropped all over this track. I suppose I shouldn't have stolen it. Sorry, Kashmere.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Easter Chocolate Tarts

Makes 24
500g shortcrust pastry
80g dark chocolate
40g butter
25g plain flour
50g golden caster sugar
2 eggs
50g dark chocolate
2 tbsp milk
icing sugar
Cadbury’s Mini Eggs

Heat the oven to 180C /gas 4. Roll out the pastry thinly and use to line 2 x 12 hole tartlet tins. Prick with a fork, line with a bit of foil and bake for 8 minutes then lift out the foil and cook for a minute more.

Melt the chocolate and butter together and leave to cool a little. Beat in the flour, sugar and eggs. Spoon into the cases and bake for 6-8 minutes until just set. Leave to cool.

Melt the chocolate and milk together then leave to cool a little. Add a bit of icing sugar to sweeten and thicken - if it starts to set before you're ready, just give it a few seconds in the microwave. Place a little dollop of the chocolate mixture on top of each tart and sit some eggs on top.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Saturday Brunch

I've got my best friend's hen do later starting with scones at the slightly scary Afternoon Tease (gulp!) so a good brunch and no lunch should make enough room for those finger sandwiches.
This takes too long to make and you might get a bit cross as you wait for the potatoes to crispen and brown. But you do need to wait and when the delicious mixture of carbs and fat with a tiny kick of chilli and garlic hits your system, all traces of your hangover will disappear.
Enough for 2
2 waxy potatoes, cut into smallish pieces
splash of olive oil
1 Spanish onion, sliced
few rosemary leaves
chunk of pancetta, cubed
little knob of butter
garlic clove, thinly sliced
pinch dried chilli flakes
2 eggs

Cook the potatoes in boiling water for 10 minutes until just tender.

Meanwhile, heat a splash of oil in a large frying pan and gently cook the onions, rosemary and pancetta for 10 minutes. Drain the potatoes and add to the pan with the butter, garlic, and chilli flakes. Cook for about 15 minutes until crispy and golden.

Quickly fry the eggs in a very hot pan and serve on top of the hash.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Mystery Reveller Competition

Who is the mystery reveller enjoying a night out with some Bunny Girls in 1975? There's a prize (probably a bit of a rubbish one, tbh) for the first correct answer...

Spiderweb Cakes

Scrap stayed up well past bath time last night working on his cakes for the nursery sale today. They were a practice run for his Superhero 4th birthday party next month and they turned out well though the green icing looked a bit more Halloween than the menacing Spiderman Vs Green Goblin vibe he was aiming for.
He cracked four eggs into a bowl and matched the weight with sugar, self raising flour and room temperature butter. He added a drop of vanilla extract and the grated rind of 1 orange then did some vigorous mixing. He then divided it into 16 muffin cases and baked them at 180C for 18 minutes. Green icing, a few sugar sprinkles and some squashed, squid-like spiders made from black regalice and they were ready.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

This Record Is Quite Nice, Actually: 8

Vetivier: Road To Ronderlin (Fat Cat Records, 2008)
This is ripped wholesale from Ver Ver's new album (WARNING: Pitchfork link) which landed on my desk yesterday and has been played four times already. All the details you'll ever need are in that link - but what's really important is how great it is. And it's really great. I was going to post their cover of Hawkwind's Hurry On Sundown which is from the very top of the top drawer, but then I plumped for this, a cover of Iain Matthews Out Of Fairport Convention's song what he wrote for Matthews' Southern Comfort. Basically, it's a lovely song and Vetiver do it with the requisite amazingness. Which is good of them, isn't it?

Aunty Anna's Biscuits

My mum finally got Aunty Anna to hand over the recipe for her special nut biscuits. They're very hard and not all that great on their own but brilliant dipped into coffee.

3 glasses of almonds or peanuts, toasted and coarsely ground
4 glasses of plain flour
11/2 glasses of caster sugar
3 eggs + 1 yolk
1 glass of groundnut oil
grated rind of 1 lemon
2 tsp baking powder

Mix all together, roll into cherry-sized balls, place on a baking sheet, well spaced apart. Bake at 190C / Gas 5 for 10 minutes or so until golden brown. Leave to cool and store in an air-tight tin.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

New Music Tuesday

July Skies: Waiting For The Test Card (MakeMineMusic, 2008)
The Skies are label-mates of, literally, the all-time greatest group of all time, epic45. This, naturally, gives them a huge leg-up in the interest stakes, at least from my point of view. Indeed, epic45 are on the record alongside Antony Harding who is, I discover, from Birmingham. This record is truly lovely: less folky and more abstract than Ver 'Pics, this is closer to something like The Pearl. It's my new Official Head Of Aural Relaxers and, let's be honest here, how can you not love a track called Waiting For The Test Card?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Lazy Steak & Pickled Onion Pie

I met a friend for lunch at surely London's best pub, The Anchor & Hope, on Friday. It all went a bit wrong as she was an hour late and I drank the two glasses of Prosecco I'd allowed myself in the first half an hour. And I was really hungry which didn't help. Anyway, we ended up drinking way too much including some excellent dessert wine with our excellent Damson Bakewell Tart. But best of all was the steak pie for two which had cooked-for-hours, fall-apart-meat with a few little pieces of kidney, a dark gravy and a proper 'pork-pie-style' hot-water crust. My current favourite blog Old Foodie says it's pie week this week and so here's my favourite cheat's recipe - it can't compare to the A&H pie but it's quick and easy and uses jars and packets so I am sure Delia would approve.

Serves 4
1 tbsp olive oil
4 rashers smoked streaky bacon
750g cubed casserole or braising steak
4 tbsp plain flour
75cl bottle red wine
1x 450g jar silverskin pickled onions drained and rinsed (250g drained
3 tbsp redcurrant jelly
2 fresh thyme sprigs
375g pack ready-rolled puff pastry
salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Heat the oil in a large casserole pan cut the bacon into 1 cm wide strips, and add to the pan.

2 Season the flour with salt and pepper then toss the steak in the mixture. Shake off any excess flour then add to the pan and cook for 7-8 minutes, turning from time to time until nicely browned.

3 Add the wine, pickled onions, recurrent jelly and thyme. Bring to the boil, partially cover and simmer for 1 hour.

4 Preheat the oven to 200c / gas 6. Open out the pastry and cut to about
2cm larger than the pan, rolling out slightly thinner if necessary. Place on top of the steak, tucking in the edges to enclose the filling. Brush with milk then bake for 20 minutes until golden and puffed.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Rice To Meet You, To Meet You, Rice

I was in my favourite Peckham restaurant Ganapati last night when who should walk in with a gang of media mates but Rob's old pal Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall. We had a fantastic meal, I chose the Andhra Spicy Lamb with Paratha which was thrillingly hot and spicy. Hugh and his lot were making a bit of a racket and seemed to be having a jolly time though they drank Champagne with their curries which I thought was a bit wrong. What was he doing so far from home, do you think?

Thursday, March 06, 2008

With Love From Me To Them

Cafe Creme: Unlimited Citations Part 1 / Unlimited Citations Part 2 (EMI Italy, 1977)

"Singing with The Beedles!" they yelp, "Twisting in the 60s!" they scream, "Back In USSR!" they stumble, unable to get their mouths around that pesky definitive article. While the UK and America was experiencing the pant-tightening thrills of punk rock, Cafe Creme were recording jazz-funk tinged disco medleys of Beatles songs. I love how they're miming their own instruments on the cover and I love how they look like the guys who were left out of Toto for looking "too session-y".

Until yesterday I'd never heard of Unlimited Citations, then Silvana came back from Italy with a stack of 7"s she dug out for me from a gorgeous great market she came across in Lucca. Ahead of their time, these chaps - it would take Candy Flip another 13 years to catch on to how amazing it would be to have a version of Strawberry Fields Forever you could dance to. All this and production by French disco guru Laurent Rossi? Truly we are spoiled.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Landcroft House Broadcasts To The Nation

I was on Sky News earlier. They wanted to talk to me about the lenient treatment celebrity drug users appear to be enjoying and did I think this was A Bad Influence on Ver Kidz. Oh, it was live too, which may go some way to explaining why I appear to be grabbing random words out of the air. I want a t-shirt now that reads SOFT ON CELEBRITY DRUGGIES. Which I am, by the way. I couldn't give a monkey's what they do. Who could?

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Wood-fired Sparrows

At the very far end of Torre Del Lago, just across the square from Lake Massaciuccoli, sits a fantastic restaurant called Da Cecco. My family used to holiday in the region through the 60s, 70s and 80s and a selection of us, plus some friends, gathered there this weekend for my cousin Joanna's 30th birthday. After a hairy journey with my 74 year-old Dad insisting on driving our enormous hire-car (my sister in the back seat quaking while I shouted 'too close!' and 'change gear!' and 'bike!!'), we arrived at dusk just as the mist was gathering over the lake and the first glasses of Prosecco were getting lined up on the bar.

Twenty eight of us in all, sat round a long table and ate nine courses over a five hour period. After the first hour it all got a bit hazy but I can remember that there was antipasti, crostini (the restaurant's signature dish and secret recipe), two pasta courses, two meat courses and that it was one the best meals I've probably ever had (hic).
On the long table next to ours, a group of real Italians were celebrating a birthday too, but one of their thirty nine courses was being spit-roast over the log fire at the end of the room. The chef marinated baby sparrows in seasoned oil and threaded them onto a very long spike with some bay leaves, lardo and the odd little chunk of Tuscan bread. Uncle Gino says baby sparrows like that are usually eaten whole as the bones are so soft. Mmmmm.

This Old Record Is Quite Good

Thurston Harris: Do What You Did (Aladdin, 1958)
This is a sensational record, a furious, walloping great smash in the kisser of a rock and roll record that has a brilliant vocal hook, a massed angelic choir, a lunatic drummer, some exemplary reverb tricks, a saxophone solo that makes your bones feel rather softer and more liquid than usual and a lyrical content - "Do what you did what when the lights were low, just me and you and the radio, do what you did when you did what you done last night, to me!" - that, once again, seems to suggest some sort of awfulness has occurred between Thurtson and a young lady, perhaps after a "hop" or somesuch. Anyway, I stole Harris' track wholesale from this which is, literally, a quite good record.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Basement Crates: 33

The Sensations: Those Guys (Treasure Isle, 1968)
I've just been watching - through no real fault of my own - the Eurovision song contest heats on BBC1. The songs were all uniformly terrible, empty, hollow, sacks of unpleasant noise. Like the being awoken by the sound of the man next door farting in his sleep, the songs were never going to cause you any real harm, but they did make your soul feel just a little bit more exhausted. I'm sure the people involved spent months working on them, yet they signify nothing. Not one of them will be remembered in 40 minutes. This Sensations track was released 40 years ago. It was probably knocked up in half a day in Duke Reid's studio, yet it feels as magical and new, as supremely poppy, yet refreshingly odd as it must have done then. I don't understand how this sort of spontaneous genius works, really. But I'm endlessly appreciative of the fact it does.