Thursday, 29 October 2015

John Bentley. Based on a true story. (Album review)

John Bentley.  Does the name ring a bell?  Well he probably most well-known as the bassist of Squeeze from 1979 to 1983.  And he re-joined Squeeze again in 2007 until very recently.  So John is a veteran in the music industry.  And he has been very busy using his skills to put his latest album together.

His latest album is based on a true story.  No, that is actually the name of the album.  It is a very well designed sleeve available only on vinyl (or can I still say record?) so you get a luxury item that you can enjoy and actually hold in your hands.  The sleeve note on the back is from Squeeze comrade and friend, Chris Difford.  John’s sense of humour is all over this album including five steps in case you have purchased it by mistake.  The album comes with a free download and lyrics sheet for those of you who have embraced the modern genre.  But a real lyrics sheet! A lyrics sheet is key to this album as these songs tell stories.  They are all gems in their own right and the production of this album is fantastic. You can hear the quality in each track.
Listening to the album feels like you are going on a journey of discovery.  Each song has its own merits and each individual will find their own favourites.  Kristine is a mix of rock n roll with a funky keyboard.  Thief in the night is a beautiful piano ballad that sounds inspired by Elvis Costello.  Quicksand has the most poignant words that give shivers down your spine.  Elvis & Me is an earworm of a song you just can’t stop singing.  Closing time is a very brassy classy track with a jazz feel.

Time to turn the album over to side two.  This side starts with I wanna be your slave.  It has a great brass section and has a slight Latino feel.  This could be used on Strictly.
Things could only get worse feels like a paranoid hypochondriac with a sense of humour.  The lyrics are outstanding.  A mirror cracked still has a slight Squeeze feel about it.  But of course everybody is made up from their own experiences.  Psycho fun is almost an instrumental. But everybody must obey.  There is no getting away from this.  The album ends on Living in a bubble which is a slow number.  ‘I’m feeling rather small. I can squeeze my little world into a ball’. Fantastic lyrics that really gives the song meaning.

Overall with 14 tracks of sublime storytelling you feel that John has delivered the album of his life.  If you like quality music that moves you – or like me you are very lyrics motivated – this is definitely worth a listen.  After all it is based on a true story.

…based on a true story is available from

Track listing:

It’s giving me the creeps

Closing time

Elvis & Me



You didn’t care about love

Thief in the night

I wanna be your slave

Civilisation Ho!

Things could only get worse

A mirror cracked

The hangman

Psycho fun

Living in a bubble


Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Monday, 26 October 2015

I am a finalist in the Milton Keynes Digital Awards!

I am delighted to announce that I am a finalist in the Milton Keynes Digital Awards for my blog.

Firstly I would like to thank you. Yes you! If you are reading this you have been supporting me by being interested in what I have to say.

I started this blog because I have always had a lot to say and it was a way of recording my thoughts. I originally started off offering my opinion on films but in recent years that has been overtaken by theatre shows and concerts. I never realised my blog would become so popular or be read by so many people.

I especially wanted to share my own experiences of all the shows I went to. I didn't want to write a generic review. I wanted to give you a very personal view of the event. I wanted to share my story and photos. I wanted to tell you honestly if it was any good as any friend would, so that you would really know if it was worth going to.

I now not only write my own blog, but I write theatre reviews for a local Milton Keynes website, a national electronic music website and I have been invited to write for two London based theatre sites. I have also been approached by musicians to review their albums.

I am absolutely blown away with the support I receive for my reviews. That so many of you not only read them - but offer me such positive comments about them too. I have also received lovely comments from many of the famous musicians/actors themselves. All of this motivates me to continue to do what I do. Thanks also to About Milton Keynes website for their support. They wrote this about the forthcoming awards:

If you want to read more about the awards and the other finalists, you can find out more here:

As a girl I had always dreamed that I might win an Oscar one day. It was of course a dream and I grew up. But this award really is my grown-up equivalent. I am very excited to be a finalist and of course if I win, I promise to give a speech worthy of an Oscar (but not as long). There might even be a few tears.

So what are my plans for 2016? A new website offering more reviews. More random thoughts. More opportunities. It really is a wonderful life!

Romeo and Juliet by the English National Ballet - Milton Keynes Theatre

My review of Romeo and Juliet by the English National Ballet is now available on the 'About Milton Keynes' website.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Lou Lou’s Vintage Fair comes to Milton Keynes.

I have always had a diverse taste in style. I have never chosen to follow fashion but instead love individual pieces that no one else is wearing.

Coming from the post-punk generation and with not much money to my name, as a teenager I scoured the charity shops to find something I could adapt to my tastes.  I hand-sewed items, chopped them up and added accessories to make it stand out.  I once had a dress made from a set of curtains and a necklace from a shopping trolley.  And I’m sure you have all seen photos of my ‘Black Bride’ punk phase!
In recent years charity shops are not what they were and any items considered worth something are sold on eBay instead of the shop.  It stops a range of people going into charity shops (except for the poorest in our society) and I do think that charity shops need to re-think this strategy so they can reinvent themselves as a cool place to shop.  But thanks to Dawn O’Porter and a nostalgic view of all things retro – second hand clothes have rebranded themselves.  There are many shops in big cities now that call themselves ‘Vintage’ and what was once uncool has reinvented itself as cool again.

So it was with delight that I heard that Lou Lou vintage Fair was coming to Milton Keynes.  Milton Keynes being a new city (don’t get me started about the ‘Is it a town/city’ debate – that’s a blog for another day) does have lots of charity shops but doesn’t really do vintage.  In fact the whole ethos of Milton Keynes seems to be embrace the new and throw away the old.  This is certainly true of its architecture such as The Point, The Agora (Wolverton) and the sad demise of Bletchley Leisure Centre.  I don’t want Milton Keynes to become the Primark of the country. I want Milton Keynes to stand out and be proud to be different the same way my vintage items are.  Although I love vintage, I did wonder how successful vintage would be to others in Milton Keynes.  So on a very rainy Saturday in October; I headed over to find out more about what Milton Keynes shoppers could expect from vintage.
I found very friendly stall-holders.  I found a lot of quality vintage items and some new vintage inspired items, a chance to try out new hairstyles and some very delicious tea and homemade cake.  They even had cake forks and real sugar lumps!

The music was definitely vintage – mainly 1960s and I found myself singing along to almost every track.  Stalls were very clear on what their remit was and there was a range of vintage from 1940s coats; gloves of the 1950s and dresses from the 1960s.  I found smock tops and psychedelic dresses from the 1970s and a bit of sparkle and shoulders from the 1980s. Vintage really should be over 30 years old to call itself such but really its how you wear it that makes it special.  If you are old enough to remember the decade you are wearing – then pair that item up with a more modern item for a fresh look.
I might have been raining outside, but inside the sun was shining like those long hot summers we all remember.

I do hope Lou Lou’s Vintage Fair will visit Milton Keynes again – and those of you who love vintage make sure you put that date on your dance card!  





Friday, 9 October 2015

Heaven 17 - Live at the Jazz Cafe - Track by track review of latest CD

Ever wondered what Heaven 17 sound like live? Then read my review of the CD live at the Jazz Café on the Electronically Yours Website.