A Dedicated Man, Peter Robinson

In the second of Peter Robinson’s DCI Banks series, the body of Harry Steadman,  a respected and widely liked local historian, is discovered partially buried beneath a dry stone wall.

Why would a man like that be murdered?


Alan Banks is convinced that the answer to the crime lies somewhere in the past, within the man’s close relationships, so digs into the histories of those who knew the victim best.

The start of this book suffers from the same issues I raised with Robinson’s first Banks book: an apparent breast fixation. In this case I found the descriptions in the first couple of pages more gratuitous than those in the previous book – where at least there was a relevance to them within the plot.

Fortunately the rest of the book doesn’t continue in that vein.

The case of  Steadman’s murder had enough twists and turns and unpredictability to make me want to keep reading. But the mystery isn’t the only appealing factor. I enjoy the continuing connection that books like this give to their leading characters.

An important part of Alan Banks’ character is his love of music, and the books have regular references to his eclectic tastes .

The video below is a rendition of a song that one of the book’s characters, a folk singer, performs at a pub concert attended by DCI Banks.



Bigger Than That, Lucy Ward

I’m not adding this to my official 31 songs. Just consider it as an addendum to song 18 from yesterday. Another from Lucy Ward.

While specifically addressing a British political situation, the general idea behind the song applies in many of our nations.

And a live performance.

31 Songs – the overture

Number 17 isn`t really a song, although it does have a choral introduction provided by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

This version of the 1812 overture conducted by Eugene Ormandy was one of the most important pieces of music in my late teens to early 20s.

My first full time job was in a bank. I’d spend  most lunch breaks in my car with the seat reclined and my recording of this performance playing at high volume on the stereo. I’m sure that eventually I knew it so well that I didn’t really need to listen to it anymore, but could play it all in my head.

With a finale featuring real cannons and church bells – I`ve never heard a better version.



“31 Songs” Picking up pieces

In my previous posts I’ve tried to maintain a reasonably chronological record of significant songs from my past. But it’s inevitable that some would slip my memory and be omitted from that chronology.

Here I’ll try to fill some of the gaps. These two should have come between songs 2 and 3.

14) Partridge Family.

How do I pick one significant song from a TV show I liked in my early teens? I don’t recall which ones I like best back then. I used to sit beside the TV and try to record the songs on my dad’s old reel to reel recorder (it was a year or two until I got my own portable cassette recorder).

My memories have perhaps been muddied by my recent reintroduction to the series on DVD. I chose the song at the link because I think it would have appealed to me back then, particularly the guitar effect preceding the chorus.


15) Child in Time, Deep Purple.

A major leap in taste after the Partridge Family. I was introduced to Deep Purple through a High School music class where the teacher played their album Concerto for Group and Orchestra, and a former school friend from England who I was still writing to at the time had mentioned them in one of his letters. This song for some reason is one I remember most.

The following should come somewhere between song 5 and 6

16) Wuthering Heights, Kate Bush.

Like most people, this song was my introduction to Kate Bush one of the more original singers, songwriters and performers I’ve come across in “mainstream” music. Not my favourite song of hers, but probably the most significant. I’ve seen and heard some very dubious things written about Kate, her music and her voice, that probably say more about the “accusers” than the singer.




“31 songs” Continued. (The early Gloria years).

After the list of 5 songs in my previous post, I’ve given the topic more thought and can add the following to my own “31 Songs”.

There’s still a significant short fall – but one day maybe I’ll be able to get to that arbitrary number, based on Nick Hornby’s book.

Part of the difficultly is narrowing a one time favourite group’s output to one song more significant than the rest.


6) Bad, U2.

I’m not sure why I went to see the U2 film Rattle and Hum. Around that time I often filled an evening by going to see films at my local cinema, and R & H was just one more on their programme. However it become more than  a film. I was the only one in the theatre, the volume was turned higher than usual, and it seemed like I was at a personal U2 concert. I immediately became a fan, something that changed my life completely because I later met Gloria at the first (and last) meeting of a failed U2 fan club. This song has always been a favourite.

7) Gloria, U2.

I had to include this one, the song that gave Gloria her nickname. We were friends for over a year until I knew her real name, and I didn’t find that out until our relationship progressed beyond friendship and we became a “couple”. My family still address her as Gloria.

8) Roaring Jack, were a group I discovered during my time at University. It was during the early stages of my friendship with Gloria and coincidentally we independently discovered them around the same time.

I was introduced to their music by a classmate. Gloria heard about them from the owner of her local record store. Almost weekly I drove to Sydney to see them perform at a Newtown pub on Thursday nights. Unfortunately Gloria missed out because of work commitments. We were eventually able to see them perform together at the Harold Park Hotel sometime around new year (of which year I don’t recall).

As I said we independently discovered them, and also unknown to each other, for many months both of us never missed  daily listening to one of their albums.

9) The Waterboys were another independent joint discovery, although we both came across them before we met.
I found them through their album Fisherman’s Blues. When I met Gloria she had all of their albums. There are a lot of songs I could have chosen from their catalogue that are more representative of their work, but I chose this one for Gloria.


The last songs for this post are the hardest to select. There are several groups I could choose from – most of them Irish. Groups like The Hothouse Flowers, The Saw Doctors, The Black Velvet Band, but I decided on the following:

10) In a Lifetime, Clannad.

It was hard choosing a specific Clannad song, but as this one features Bono from U2 it seemed the most appropriate and well known choice available. Unfortunately it seems that the original video (at least this one) hasn’t survived very well. The picture quality isn’t the best.

11 and 12 ) Capercaillie

A group that Gloria discovered first as another Celtic group with similarities to Clannad, but I probably took more of a liking to them than she did over time. We saw them twice live in Sydney. But how do I select a representative song? I couldn’t, so I chose two including this one from Karen Matheson their singer. I probably could have chosen almost anything they’ve released.


13) Lord of the Dance

It took a while to find a reasonable video of this. Gloria and I saw the show twice in Sydney (the video is of a later version). I’ve been typing this as I listen to audio from the video and find myself tapping the keys in time to the rhythm of the dancing.









31 Songs, Nick Hornby (My Younger Years)

I read Nick Hornby’s 31 songs over several days. It was a good book to dip into from time to time when I had a few spare minutes.


It’s a book of essays/articles that use Hornby’s 31 songs as a starting point for him to write about his wider views of music and the music industry.

I didn’t know a lot of the artists and I’m familiar with only one or two of the songs, so my appreciation of the book was slightly disadvantaged.

So rather than examine the book itself, I decided to present my own “31 songs”,  however I found that I could only come up with a few that had any reasonable personal relevance, and my attempts to add more made the list far too contrived to make the effort worthwhile.

So here are the only five genuinely “significant” songs that stand out, all of them date back to my childhood and teens. (Click on the song titles to access videos of the songs)


1) She Loves You, the Beatles.
My first ever record, bought for me when I was about 5 years old. The first answer I remember giving to the question “what do you want to be when you grow up” was “I want to be a Beatle”.

2) Bits and Pieces, the Dave Clark Five.
Maybe the second single my parents bought for me. I’m not sure what exactly appealed, but it’s a song that even in memory, stirs feelings of nostalgia.

3) 48 Crash, Suzi Quatro.
Quatro was my first teenage celebrity crush. At the time of its release I’d skip from radio station to radio station, waiting until they played this song before re-tuning to another to (hopefully) hear it again. Her first Sydney concert was also my first ever concert attendance.

4) Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen.
It was nothing like anything else on the charts at the time and I loved the changes of style and tempo throughout differing sections. I attended what was probably Queen’s first Sydney concert and remember how funny it was to see Freddie Mercury’s shadow being backlit on to a white sheet during the line “I see a little silhouetto of a man…” Very primitive compared to their later hi-tech approach. A friend told me how he’d sing it in the shower while at Bible school – until he realised singing about Beelzebub having a devil put aside for him maybe wasn’t appropriate.

5) The Sixteens, The Sweet,
This came out the year I was sixteen, and for that reason it seemed significant – especially early the next year during the few weeks between my then girlfriend’s 16th birthday and my 17th. Again, I attended what I think was The Sweet’s first Sydney concert.


If the list was of albums rather than individual songs I might be able to stretch it closer to 31 and bring the time line nearer to today. But that could be a project for later.