Friday 8 April 2022

Sally & Tommy & Tommy & Anna

Despite being a non-smoking, non-drinking, good-eating, mask-wearing, triple-vaxxed, generally fit and healthy dude, I somehow succumbed to 'The Vid' last week and have been isolating ever since. Yes, isolation is no longer mandatory; yes, the great British public thinks Covid is all over; but if I've managed to pick it up from somewhere (and lord only knows where), I'm not going to be responsible for spreading it like your average cretin. I work for the NHS, for gawd's sake.

Thankfully, I've not been terribly ill, a couple rough days but the rest just like a normal mild cold, albeit one that won't shift. For some reason, I've tested positive for 9 days straight, but that can happen apparently, even if I'm not infectious any more. By the time you read this, I should be out of isolation. Thank god - it's been quite boring being stuck in one room. MrsRobster probably wishes the garden shed wasn't so full of stuff as it would have been far better for her if I could have spent my isolation period out there!

Even though I've been working from home throughout the period, I've managed to find time to catch up on some stuff on Netflix. I also came across an old gem I've seen many times before but couldn't resist watching it again when I felt quite low at the seemingly never-ending run of positive LFTs I kept getting.

I can't remember how old I was when I first saw Tommy, but I was probably in my late teens. I loved it instantly. It's so audaciously over-the-top, exactly as a rock opera should be. Ken Russell was the perfect person for it, even though he hated rock music. I won't waffle on about it much as I'm sure all my readers know the story, but ever since I watched it again the other night, the songs have been floating in and out of my head like crazy.

This one was, apparently, the first seed of the story. While The Who were supporting The Doors on tour, Pete Townshend witnessed a girl in the crowd get injured when someone threw a chair. Jim Morrison apparently cleaned her wounds himself! So the story of Sally Simpson became the first song of what would ultimately become the greatest rock opera of all time.

It's a bit longer than the original album version from 1969, and some of the words were changed for the benefit of the movie (e.g. the Rolls Royce is blue in the original, black in the movie).

So many great stories have been told around the making of Tommy - hardly surprising when you consider the cast - and while some may well have been embellished, exaggerated or completely made up, they only add to the greatness of the thing.

And while we're on the subject of Tommy and greatness...

The final series of Peaky Blinders has just aired, very possibly one of the the top 5 TV shows the BBC has ever produced. I'm not going to give any spoilers or anything, but want to mention that, as in season 5, the wonderful Anna Calvi was largely responsible for the musical score and some of the songs that featured. If you've ever seen the show, you'll know it has an incredible soundtrack, and latter seasons have featured specially recorded songs as artists have flocked to be a part of it.

Calvi is about to release a 4-track EP of songs she recorded for season 6, entitled, rather appropriately, 'Tommy'. As well as her cover of the theme tune - Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds' Red Right Hand - she also offers a take on Bob Dylan's All The Tired Horses, plus two new songs, including this. Inspired by a traditional American spiritual recorded by numerous artists, including the late, great Johnny Cash, Ain't No Grave sums up both Calvi's unerring knack of composing dark, atmospheric mini-masterpieces, and the ominous moods of Tommy Shelby's life.

Brilliant stuff.

For the record, the blog is not making a proper comeback, but I do have a special Easter treat for you next weekend, especially if you're a fan of early R.E.M. Stay tuned...


  1. Good to see you on here Robster
    Hope you get well soon.
    I've avoided it so far - touch wood

  2. As CC said, good to see you here Robster. Hope everything is over soon and and you don't have to suffer on long-Covid. I had my isolation days a few weeks ago and now it is all like before.
    Great choice of the two Sally's, especially the one by Anna Calvi that I planed for posting next week. I watched Peaky Blinders during the last years and was fascinated by this series. Sadly in Germany we have to wait for a couple of weeks to see the final series

  3. Feel better, buddy. I bet I know who will feature next weekend.

  4. Like your good self, I've succumbed to the virus....I'm guessing a combination of going to more crowded football matches and busier gigs (I made a first return to Barrowlands last week) brought it on.

    I've enjoyed the Anna Calvi contributions to the Peaky Blinders's a show where I sit with the Shazam button close by to pick up on what I don't know!

  5. Good to see you back with a post, Robster, not so good to hear that you've got Covid. Best wishes for your recovery and return.

    Peaky Blinders, apart from being an incredible, incredible series, has also caused me to appreciate Anna Calvi's music in a way that I hadn't really before.

    Ain't No Grave is superb. Am I the only one though to hear the atmospheric wind effects around the 1:40 mark and expect it to suddenly sidestep into Relight My Fire by Dan Hartman? Now, that would be some mash up...