MUSIC

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Motown Chartbusters Vol. 3

In blog notes 26, I revealed my love for the music of Motown, so it is appropriate that I talk about the one album guaranteed to get you on the dance floor at any Christmas party. The best compilation album that has ever been made is, without doubt Motown Chartbusters Volume 3.Yes, there are some greatest hits LP’s that are up there like the Four Tops Greatest Hits which features 12 absolute gems, 10 of them penned by the peerless Holland Dozier and Holland but compilation albums are normally something that I tend stay clear of. However at this festive time of the year Motown Chartbusters Volume 3 must eased out of that wonderful silver cover, placed on a turn table and played relentlessly, this piece of pure Motown magic can only be played on vinyl as it would be sacrilege for it to be listened to in any other shape or form. This album was originally given to me by the illustrious Jackie Doogan who at that time was arguably the coolest kid in my Northumbrian pit village. In my formative years “The Doog” was the most stylish person I had ever come across and was a major influence on me , he was always telling me what clothes to wear and what music to listen to, he couldn’t play football to save his life but liked to think of himself as Shiremoor’s answer to Rodney Marsh which just added to his appeal. So when presented me with this album it was pretty much a no brainer that I going to like it, as usual at that time he was right on the money, once Marvin Gaye introduces you to the LP with “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” on side one track one, you are very quickly going to be up to your knees in “The Sound of Young America”, which is as near to paradise as you are going to get. I love all 16 tracks on the disc, my personal favourite on this album is “I’m Gonna Make You Love You” by Diana Ross and the Supremes and The Temptations which features Ross and the late great Eddie Kendricks on lead vocals, picking this as my preferred choice is bound to cause a bit of controversy and may be a bit of an injustice to all of the other great songs on this album, but that is why we like to debate about music because everyone’s view is different. The “Doog” died at a very young age which was an absolute tragedy, the influence he had on me and other kids in my village should never underestimated or taken for granted, sometimes when listen to Motown Chartbusters Volume 3 I can close my eyes and be transported back to the early 1970’s, life was a lot simpler back but a whole lot better. Please play this record over the holidays it will make the place a whole lot happier.

FILMS

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Frank Capra’s – Its a Wonderful Life

The festive season is now well and truly upon us and as normal the usual Christmas films will rolled out for our entertainment. Everyone has a personal favourite, for example the Contessa di la Proctero will spend one afternoon watching Elf starring Will Ferrell which is her preferred choice. Although the frozen northerner will do everything in his power to avoid the scariest movie of all time, Pinocchio (see Blog Notes 22) this is not the only problem faced by him, he also has to face the fact that there will be another movie on over the holiday period that will seriously unnerve him, it will be screened relentlessly, mainly on Film 4 this particular picture will catapult him into a dark abyss plummeting him towards the depths of despair of which there will be no return, viewed alone in a darkened room with the blinds drawn this movie will see the frozen northerner transported to the little town of Bedford Falls for the afternoon, leaving him tortured and grief-stricken at the plight of George Bailey. I have never been able enjoy Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” starring James Stewart and Donna Reed and I don’t understand why, what should be a hugely enjoyable movie will more than likely have me tottering on the of brink of suicide. Why do I put myself through this hell I have no idea, but watching George Bailey standing on that bridge in the snow is the biggest reality check anyone is ever going to give me. Capra made his name making great films about the little man battling against corrupt politicians and giant corporations, Capra has done it much than “It’s a Wonderful Life” with films such as “Mr Deeds Goes to Town” “Meet John Doe” and “Mr Smith Goes to Washington” but nothing can get under my skin like “It’s a Wonderful Life” you would think that the evil Mr Potter (brilliantly play by Lionel Barrymore) would be the person that infuriates me but no its George Bailey ( James Stewart). Life for George hasn’t turned as he had hoped it would, nothing wrong with that, lots of us could say that and the first half of film is a very pleasant story of small town America where there is nothing really to get excited about but, once his guardian angel Clarence Odbody (played by Henry Travers) enters the picture the film takes on a much darker side plunging me straight into a hellhole that I cannot climb out of, until a long time after the film has finished. Life without George shows just how much one man’s life can have an effect on his community and puts me in touch with just how precious life is this will make me very sad and despite the fact the film has a happy ending, it will not matter a jot as I will have been severely troubled by this time, “It’s a Wonderful Life” is a wonderful film and should enjoyed by everyone and especially at Christmas but for the frozen northerner it is a journey into hell.

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Clarence Odbody (he still haunts me)

 

 

SPORT

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Scotland 67 Nonpareil

Scottish football is in the doldrums, when I think of Scotland’s football team I think of players like Denis Law, Jim Baxter and Jimmy Johnstone, the list of Scottish players that have been regarded as world class is pretty much endless and there is lot more that I could list but, ask me to name one in the last 10 years then you’ve got me scratching my head. The decline of Scottish football is a tragedy that is showing no sign of abating and it could be while before we see them back at a major competition again. Scotland’s much maligned manager Gordon Strachan has received lots of criticism, but I am finding it hard to believe that Pep Guardiola would do much a better job given the dearth of top class Scottish players around at the moment.

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The incomparable Johnstone

Too many cheap imports has brought the standard of Scottish league football to a level that can be best described as abysmal, the two giants of Scottish Celtic and Rangers have not got one top class player between them and at the moment they are unlikely to attract any. Ask yourself are there any players currently playing in the Scottish premiership capable of playing in the English premiership, the answer is an emphatic no. It may be nearly 50 years since that glorious night in Lisbon,but the vision that Stein and probably Ferguson later at Aberdeen had for Scottish football lie in the dust with the future looking very shaky indeed. The men that wield the power within the corridors of the SFA could and most probably will sack Strachan in the near future but that is not going to change anything, the problems will still be there, as long as SKY continue to prop up Scottish football most people will take the money and run, these people are charlatans, they have no genuine passion for their sport and are killing the Scottish game with their greed. Someone has got to see the bigger picture and get to the bottom of this worsening problem. Why are teams like Iceland doing better than Scotland (and England for that matter) and why are small countries such as Wales are producing players like Bale and Ramsey, Belgium Hazard, Denmark, Eriksen and Holland well, as normal loads. I hate seeing Scottish football in this state of depression, something is just not right when there is no tartan army at the big tournaments, however one thing is for sure, nothing is going change very quick unless some rather radical takes place. I am so down with what is going on in Scottish football I could cry and that is from an Englishman. So, to make you even more depressed (only Scottish fans need apply) I have laid out the a team with eleven players all in their rightful positions without having to accommodate anyone in wrongful places, position wise I think this particular Scotland team represents everything that was once great about Scotland’s national side and for me this team is as good as it gets, playing a 4- 4- 2 formation with Jock Stein as their manager I think they could give anybody a run for their money. This team like any other great side is open to debate have a look agree or disagree but enjoy your whisky while you review it.

1. Ronnie Simpson

2. Danny McGrain 5. Billy McNeil 6.Alan Hansen 3.Tommy Gemmell

7. Jimmy Johnstone 4.Graeme Souness (capt) 8.Jim Baxter 11.Bobby Lennox

9.Kenny Dalglish 10.Denis Law

SUBS: Billy Bremner, Joe Jordan, Davie Cooper, Richard Gough and Eddie Gray.

 

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Shirt outside his shorts and the one armed salute, the legendary Denis Law
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More hero worship for Slim Jim

CLOTHES

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Burlington

The festive season is now upon us and whether you are fan of Christmas or not, good manners dictate that gifts must be exchanged. For the male species these offerings tend to fall in various categories such underwear, socks, scarves, socks, caps, umbrellas, handkerchiefs the list is pretty much endless, so let’s start with something that every male will probably get on that joyful day, socks. Maybe the thought of getting socks doesn’t fill you with festive glee but the frozen northerner loves socks, pick a bad pair and they can ruin your entire ensemble, so here are a few recommendations that could help you stay ahead of the game. If I only have to choose one make then it is fairly obvious that I am going to choose a pair of Burlington argyles, these socks, with their distinctive diamond pattern are without peer and I have worn these classics for many years. They always look good, especially when worn with a good pair of wingtips such as the ones made by Alden or Rancourt. Normally priced around the £12 mark they represent excellent value for money and really cannot be bettered. However, Burlington is not the company it once was with their goods now being sold under license by various companies, this is disappointing and has led me to other makes because I like authentic goods. Pantherella socks have been on the go since 1937 and have a great range of products that can cater for all tastes with prices starting at around £15 and heading up to £85 for the more discerning customer, they have a wide range of excellent products and are rapidly becoming a favourite with the frozen northerner, made in Leicester they have that precious made in England trademark which is something I love to see.

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Pantherella Cashmere Socks made in England

Finally, if require a bit of sprezzatura then look no further than the Italian sock maker Gallo who make some beautiful knee length socks which look rather stylish, especially when sitting in a Venetian coffee bar sipping an expresso. These are rather handsome  and are socks that the frozen northerner is very fond of.

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Gallo

The frozen northerner is no expert when it comes to socks, hell they come in so many materials and styles it makes my head spin, the socks I have selected are ones I that personally wear so please don’t take offensive that I haven’t chosen a pair that you wear. Should you receive a pair of the aforementioned socks for Christmas look genuinely pleased because somebody has taken a bit of time and effort to try and do things right.

CLOTHES / BOOKS

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Essential Bedtime Reading

I recently acquired a Southwick oxford cloth button down shirt from John Simons, the significance of which should be of no importance to all, apart from those interested or should I say obsessed with clothes.

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The very beautiful Southwick Oxford Cloth Button-down Shirt – courtesy of J Simons

The frozen northerner has always been interested in clothes and over the last three years this has become a rather addictive habit, which has to be regularly fed but only by purchasing certain items. Trying to kick this habit is becoming harder and harder and I blame (if blame is right word) one man, Graham Marsh. Three years ago my wife the Contessa di la Proctero bought me a book as a gag gift for Christmas, the book in question was called “The Ivy Look” an illustrated pocket guide to classic American clothing. At the time she had no idea of the influence the book would have on me. Written with his good friend J P Gaul this 206 page pocket book was like manna from heaven and has made me see clothes from a different perspective. The book was a real eye opener, Mr Marsh talks about clothes like no one I have ever read before, his attention to detail was amazing and I opened every page with eager anticipation, this book now has permanent residence on my bedside table along his follow up book “Hollywood and the Ivy Look” written with Tony Nourmand another admirer of ivy style. The impact of these two books has been profound so much so that I can no longer just go into a shop and buy something on a whim, each item now has to be meticulously researched before I can even think about making any sort of purchase.  Please don’t think that Mr Marsh and his cohorts have converted me to the kingdom of ivy league clothes he hasn’t, but he changed the way I see clothes now. Several blogs such the www.ivystyle.com  have levelled some criticism at the books and in particular The Ivy Look, the book may not be to everyone’s taste which is fine but personally I loved everything in there from Miles Davis to Bill’s Khaki’s from French and Italian cinema to Shetland sweaters I enjoyed it all. Mr Marsh is a very busy man as well as being involved in the production of Jim Marshall’s Jazz Festival, he is also involved in producing vintage ivy style shirts with Japanese company Kamakura shirts this partnership has only increased my clothes obsessed lust, with his vintage long sleeved oxford cloth popover shirt now being an object of desire that must bought.

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Graham Marsh

Although I admire the work of Mr Marsh I have to say I am slightly disappointed that these highly desirable shirts can only be purchased in Japan or New York, surely the time has come for Kamakura shirts to open a shop somewhere in the UK. Anyway back to the books, at the back of each publication is a list of retailers and websites that will show you in the words of Mr Marsh “where you can buy the good stuff” I would suggest you visit these pages at your earliest possible convenience, because once you have been there it is going to open a whole new world to you. Mr Marsh has opened up a wound that is never going to be healed but listen to his advice and your clothes are going to become much sharper, you may think you are coolest thing on the planet, but check out Robert Culp on page 231 of Hollywood and the Ivy Look as international tennis player Kelly Robinson from the hit 1960’s series I Spy. Culp or should I say Robinson sports amongst other things a Lacoste polo shirt and Persol shades, Andy Murray wouldn’t have a chance.