Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Salt Beef and Spinach

That butcher's on Nunhead Lane is the only place I've come across in London that makes and sells its own uncooked Salt Beef. I know it's a pretty unpleasant grey on the outside but once cooked, it's so wonderfully soft and pink within (as good as any gammon) I can't understand why it isn't more popular. If you don't live near Nunhead, you could salt your own but you'll need curing salt or saltpetre. These people do salt beef by mail order but you might have to order more than one joint.

Today, I nicked off work a bit early and at about 5pm, popped my pale little joint (just under 1kg, cost around £6.50) in a big pan with water, four halved shallots, a chopped carrot, a sliced red chilli and garlic clove, a few whole herb sprigs and a couple of star anise. I bought it to a simmer and kept it going very gently, skimming from time to time until 7.30pm (popping out to nursery to fetch The Scrap half way through).

Finally, I tipped in a big bag of young spinach leaves, just for a couple of minutes until wilted. I cut a few thick pink slices off the beef, into two bowls and ladled over the lovely, clear, fragrant broth and vegetables. It was fantastic. And along with some American mustard and dill pickles, the rest of the beef will keep Robert in packed lunches at least until Thursday!

Basement Crates: Discovery 3

How can you not love Jimmy Smith? I first heard him as a 14 year old and I remember thinking I had no idea what the whole thing meant, if, indeed, it meant anything. But I knew I liked it. Life was clearly a lot simpler then.

Starting with a cheap Best Of LP on Blue Note I bought in Our Price I expanded into Jimmy McGriff and Richard "Groove" Holmes. Time passed. Seven or eight years later, there was this explosion where the Beastie Boys turned into a band and Mo' Wax and Talking Loud and Dorado and Acid Jazz came along and, as I was working in a record shop, I was well placed to pick up loads of this stuff.

In fact, probably too much of it. I have about 20 Dorado 12"s in the basement. Even more Acid Jazz and Talking Loud. Every Mo' Wax release - on promo, natch - up to about number 30. Sadly, no one gives a monkeys about any of it (apart from a couple of Weatherall and DJ Shadow bits), because people only want measurable authenticity.

Well, this is about as authentic as it gets. I found the following in a warehouse-sized thrift store in an unpleasant suburb of Los Angeles. I was there to interview Beck for the NME. Shopping was more exciting than Beck. Anyway, this was about a dollar. I bought a nasty trucker's cap (it read, San Bernando Elk's Lodge) too, but I've lost that.

Here Jimmy attacks the Goldfinger Bond-theme with everything he has. For what is fundamentally a pop record made for jukeboxes, this has some impressive skronk credentials, though it never fails to swing like, if you'll forgive me, God's own weighty balls.

Nice one, Jimmy.

Jimmy Smith: Goldfinger (Part II) (Verve, 1965)

This just in - apparently Music Is Love

One of my failings, and, believe it or not, I have a lot, is that I get over-excited about stuff. Last week I couldn't stop listening to the Tony Lamezma remix of Biology by Girls Aloud. I played it so much I actually imagined myself in a club, walloped on the killer rave drug ecstasy, having it, as they used to say, right off. Or, alternatively, sitting in The Ram shouting about it with Peter.

Of course, I actually watched Emmerdale and went to bed early, but you get the idea.

Anyway, that was last week. Now my attentions have turned to this most beautiful track, the opener to the ragged goon's debut, album, If Only I Could Remember My Name. Frankly, if you can think of a song more redolent of being about 26, enormously rich and enjoying a pie-eyed, late-summer evening surrounded by fairly skimpily dressed totty in your Laurel Canyon home then I would like to hear it.


David Crosby: Music Is Love (Atlantic, 1971)
Coast To Coast - Do The Hucklebuck

True story. I thought about this record earlier and mentioned it in the office. The bloke sitting next to me couldn't remember who they were. I looked them up on YouTube and who was introducing them? The bloke sitting next to me. Odd, no?

Another Halloween Special

So when did people start thinking that Trick Or Treating was an acceptable thing to do this far from the Eastern Sea Board? I mean, what next? Thanksgiving? Kwanzaa?

Halloween is great, there's no argument with that, but all this other stuff is balls (although I did enjoy the party at Matt and Karen's where that friendly looking beast on the right was made).

What's needed is something a little more traditional, which is where Jarvis Cocker comes in. This is the latest in his series of podcasts, a Hans Christian Anderson story, read by Jarv himself, called The Shadow. I once met Jarvis Cocker at a party held in a fully kitted-out hardcore S&M bar above a fish and chip shop in Vauxhall. We passed on the stairs and I said, "Hello Jarvis" and he said, looking at the floor, "Hello."

About six months previously I'd interviewed him at length about his, oh dear, rave days, in a pub off Hampstead Heath for the late, though never lamented (least of all by me) Ministry magazine. Clearly I had made a big impression. More interestingly, he had bought our friend Jonny a piece of the original Wicker Man back from Scotland as a birthday present. Happy days.

Anyway, enjoy...

Something English to get us back on track
Shirley Collins: Poor Murdered Woman (Mooncrest, 1971)

Halloween Special

Despite Robert, me and The Scrap are getting a bit over excited about Halloween. Last night we turned the lights off and went outside to look at the pumpkin lantern we’d carved (see above) and put on the windowsill. He said ‘scary’ in a spooky voice a few times then we went back inside by which time he was actually scared so I had to put all the lights back on while he repeated ‘not scary, not scared’ 28 times. We got over it eventually and got ready a lunch box full of chocolate coins in the hope of ‘trick or trickers’ who might be visiting before bath time at 6.45pm.

This morning, I velcroed a furry spider onto his shoulder to wear to nursery but when I went to get the special little pumpkin shaped chocolate balls out of my bag for him, the flipping mouse had had the lot and left me with foil dust in every corner. I’m going to have to get tough.

In Search of Perfection

I'm a bit of a 'make do and mend' cook, me, so I'm looking forward to learning lots from that lovely man Heston Blumenthal in his new tv programme tonight on BBC2 at 8pm. This week it's sausages and mash. Should be nicer than the fishy ice cream I ate recently at his award-winning restaurant The Fat Duck.

And I did like his Desert Island Discs last Sunday.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Basement Crates: Discovery 2

Just a quick one - I found a great record while I was "tidying up" some magazines. I bought this 7" of One In Ten when I was about 11. I had no idea what dub was, how could I, I came from Guildford. All I knew is I'd seen UB40 on Top Of The Pops and I thought they were great.

I wrote a "reggae" song soon after called Don't Blame It On The Young. Look, I was 11. And no, it wasn't terribly good, which is why I've never admitted it to anyone before.

Anyway, I distinctly remember sitting on the floor of my bedroom listening to this b-side over and over again, trying to work out why anyone would put the sound of chairs being thrown about and random shouting in their music.

One night a few years later, thanks to my cousin David, I kind of found out. But we'll come back to that.

This is a brilliant slice of near forgotten late 70s British dub from a group who really deserve a lot more love and respect than they get from the bastards at the mainstream media (ie, me).

UB40: Present Arms In Dub
(Dep International, 1981)

The Impact! All Stars: Extra Ordinary Dub
(Impact!, 1972)

Basement Crates: Discovery 1

We really need to do something with all the stuff in the basement. Apart from all the boxes (and boxes and boxes) of stuff we put down there when we moved in nearly seven years ago, there's thousands of 7"'s, 12"'s, LPs and CDs. Stuff I've been sent as a music journalist, stuff I've blagged, stuff I picked up in junk shops, boot sales, in record shops across Britain, America and mainland Europe, stuff I once saved up for and actually bought from the record shops I once worked in (HMV in Guildford, Beggars Banquet in Kingston and Putney).

There is so much stuff down there it sort of scares me a bit. It sits under the house, breathing, waiting for me to listen to it. When am I going to be able to do all that?

Anyway, I found this Capitol 7" down there this evening and it seems sort of an appropriate way to start the mp3 part of Landcroft House after Silvana's last post (the pasta was delicious BTW). Johnny Dankworth's Experiments With Mice is a fairly wild track, a spoken word meets Big Band jazz blast that was a huge British hit 50 years ago and includes some fantastically samplable horns (not that anyone, without the correct etcetc should ever blahblahblah) as well as a rattling great kettle drum breakdown.

And we all love a rattling great kettle drum breakdown, right?

I'm going to be posting a couple of tracks a day, so come back soon, I need your help clearing out all this music...

Johnny Dankworth: Experiments With Mice
(Capitol, 1956)


The world’s cutest mouse has moved back into Landcroft House and for the size of a Brazil nut, he can really do some damage. This week he went into my bag and ate my muffin, leaving behind enough shredded paper to stuff a pillow and a good few thousand tiny poos. He also kindly shat and wee’d on the stack of paper napkins we keep on the kitchen table, which was great. The £36 sonic mouse-repeller is clearly a dud. And our efforts to break his neck have not worked so far. As planned, he ate the trail of Taste the Difference Brownie crumbs but also managed to get the really big bit out of the ‘super-trap’ without triggering it. Robert thinks if we keep setting the bait, his luck will run out – either that or he’ll be too fat to escape under the skirting...

Girl, I'll re-house you

The (slightly smaller) house opposite ours is on the market for nearly 450,000 pounds.

*Falls off chair*

*Buys a few new chairs*

*Falls off a load of them too*

Literally, jesus.

This chart news just in

Joanna Newsom and Take That are battling it out at 9 & 10 in Amazon's pre-release chart.

It would appear that Britain is fairly evenly split between fans of frankly pretty, faux-medieval waif-like harp-pluckers and newly-bejowelled, chunkily attractive, all-growed-up man bands.

What odd, interesting times we live in.

POST SOUNDTRACK Moly's new album Hello Shut Up.

Monday: full of surprises

Two surprising things have happened so far today. One is that the new Babyshambles record in my post this morning wasn't rubbish, in fact, both Beg Steal Or Borrow and Sedative were actually Quite Good. Perhaps it's better he might discover some sort of sobriety and live. I guess we'll have to watch on and find out.

Secondly, white British soul singer Lewis Taylor has decided to cover the whole of Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica. Here's some of it. I can't for the life of me imagine why he would want to, but I'm sort of glad he has.

Red Meat Sauce

The outside freezer is at bursting point again. Yesterday Rob rescued a pack of king prawns and I pulled out two packages of a-bit-brown-looking rump steak frozen since July. Once thawed, I put the steaks in a pan with a jar of passata, half a jar of water, two chopped garlic cloves, 2 chopped shallots, a sprig each of rosemary and thyme from mum’s garden, a chunk of Parmesan rind and a teaspoon of fennel seeds. I let it simmer, part-covered, all morning while I made roast pork and potatoes with The Archers omnibus on. I hope Ruth comes to her senses and doesn’t leave David for Sam just because he can build her kids a treehouse. Before bed, I chucked out the prawns and put the pan of cooled meat sauce in the little fridge. It’ll be lovely tonight with spaghetti and a double episode of Corrie.