While I was at university, like many others, I got into the Levellers with their brand of folk-tinged rock. There are three main reasons that I liked them: their level of energy, an insane catchiness and the left wing politics that informed a great deal of their music. I have spent quite a lot of time listening to what is probably their best album, Levelling the Land. Its not the greatest album in the world, but it is incredibly catchy and you find yourself helplessly singing along. Even though I hadn't listened to it for a good 5 years or so, I still remembered most of the words and found myself singing along with just about every song. Very enjoyable. Not as immediately catchy, but still a lot of fun are their LP debut A Weapon Called the Word and Zeitgeist.
The second band, Iona, have a special place in my musical heart. They are a rather unique mix of prog rock and folk music. I first saw them live in 1990 at Band on the Wall in Manchester and they made me realise that music could be more than just something you had in the background; that it could be something extraordinary. Two of the most amazing moments I've experienced at gigs have been at Iona concerts. I saw them in the mid nineties and as one of their encores they played a piece called Reels which started slowly and just built faster and faster to a dazzling display of musical virtuosity that got the entire audience dancing like idiots, myself included (if you know me, you know I never dance).
The other was at their 1999 Royal Festival Hall Woven Cord concert. They performed backed by a full orchestra and it was amazing. But the most incredible moment was during a song called Beyond these Shores. It's a very simple song and it was so beautiful that as it faded away at the end, you could hear a pin drop and it took a few moments for people to come to themselves and start applauding. Listening to their music has reminded me all over again, just how good they were and still are.
Other Miscellany, of which there are two items because two is the oddest prime number.
1) I have been catching up with real-life old friends on Facebook which has been cool. Facebook is ridiculously addictive and I find it very easy to waste an hour or two fiddling about on there reviewing movies, exchanging wall posts with friends and playing the iLike music game. It feels satisfyingly sociable without any of the pesky actual in-person socialising or 'meatspace' interaction if you like. (hat tip to Patroclus for the meatspace term)
2) Dr Who. The latest series of Dr Who has finally hit its stride ,with the past 4 episodes being excellent. The Lazarus Experiment, the Family of Blood two parter and this week's episode Blink were all very good. Blink had the most genuinely creepy monsters of the whole series in the Weeping Angels (if you watched, how cool were they?!!) and although the Doctor wasn't in the episode much, it was a cracker.