…that you probably didn’t know. Here are 5 strange and amusing facts about orgasm. We’ve classified it a PG 😉 They are related to both male and female. Don’t know if they might help in a normal relationship but maybe sharing with a partner would spark something. So let’s start off with one of our favorite stories that is very strange but true.
You don’t need genitals for sexual arousal
Like digestion or breathing, sexual arousal is the product of our autonomic system which means that we don’t consciously have any say in it.
Naturally (or unnaturally some would say) the orgasm reflex can be triggered by genital or visual stimulation. Learned at an early age, it can also be brought about by a host of other stimuli.
Yes! you may have guessed it from the image above. There was a report of a woman who had an orgasm every time she brushed her teeth – after some detective work by a neurologist it was concluded that it was the complete complex motion of teeth brushing that caused this, some would say, happy outcome.
As it turned out, she decided that demons possessed her, gave up the pleasure of brushing her teeth and decided on mouthwash for oral hygiene.
Observations of In-Utero Masturbation…
…was the title of a paper that came from The Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine and showed from actual moving ultrasound images what appeared clearly to be the act of unborn male masturbation taking place.
No doubt a proud father.
Dead people can have an orgasm!
It is possible to trigger in the precise spot on the spinal nerve with an electrode, the point which is the center for orgasm.
It’s been shown that you can stimulate a part of the spinal nerve to create responses in unfortunate people who are dead but are being kept alive artificially – that is their organs are kept oxygenated.
It would be perfectly feasible to stimulate the exact spot in a dead person and…but well it wouldn’t be much fun for him or her.
The “Upsuck” Theory
In the early 1900s, a lot of gynecologists believed that when a woman has an orgasm the contractions are there to suck the semen up through the cervix and deliver it efficiently to the egg, so increasing the odds of conception. It was called the “upsuck” theory.
Masters and Johnson well-known research pioneers into the nature of human sexual response and the diagnosis and treatment of sexual disorders and dysfunctions from 1957 until the 1990s They were “upsuck skeptics” and they decided that they would get to the bottom of it.
Sometime in the late 1950s they brought 5 women into the lab and fitted them out with cervical caps containing artificial semen†. In the artificial semen was a radio-opaque substance, so it would show up on an X-ray.
They masturbated in front of an X-ray device and Masters and Johnson looked to see if the semen was being sucked up – their skepticism was upheld.
†Recipe for artificial semen on request.
Men Being Men
There’s another way that orgasm might boost fertility. This one involves men. Sperm that sits around in the body for a week or more start to develop abnormalities that make them less effective at head-banging their way into the egg.
British sexologist Roy Levin has speculated that this is perhaps why men evolved to be such enthusiastic and frequent masturbators. He said, “If I keep tossing myself off I get fresh sperm being made.”
Which is an interesting idea and theory. So now there is an evolutionary excuse.
We still feel great in our 40s – these are the years a woman can really enjoy. But there are could be problems ahead which could turn into health issues for us women if care isn’t taken. Check out these tips below.
So what happens during the previous 10 years?…well
Female bone density falls by about 3-5% Stress levels may increase due to lifestyle matters involving kids, money, parents etc. Depression, a complex condition, but is more common in these years. Hormone changes affect a woman’s bodily systems, in particular, the sex drive. Metabolism slows by around 2% more making weight control difficult especially for women and Muscle loss is at around 7% over the decade. But don’t worry, help is at hand – read on…
Practice the following 8 lifestyle habits and you will be able to combat these life-changing events.
Not only that, but you should see an improvement in your all round health, having more energy, be more focused, less ill forming a platform for a continuing quality of life that is so important in later years.
And there is even better news. The weight that a lot of us women start to see in our 40s will gradually decrease so any plans of going on a diet can go out the window. We hate diets!
1. Improve muscle strength
A woman can increase her metabolism through strength training. This increase in her resting metabolism will maximize the calorie burn effect even when relaxing, making weight control a lot easier.
It also helps strengthen bone density, keep your balance, and avoid injury, important for protecting your skeleton both now and in later life. Try and get into the habit of doing half an hour of weight resistance training 5 days of the week.
Strength training is an important part of complete fitness and well-being but knowing where to start can be a problem. The Modern Woman’s Guide To Strength Training is an in-depth guide that takes someone at any level through a 16 week strength program. It can be followed at home or at a gym. This short video features some regular women who have followed the program.
2. Take time for breakfast every day
Nutritionists agree that having a good breakfast is key to keeping weight down and fat-burning metabolism up especially for females. In one study, women who ate a big breakfast lost 21% of their body weight after 8 months, compared with 4.5% for women on a low-carb diet who made breakfast their smallest meal.
And the big breakfast eaters continued their success even though they ate more calories, while the low ‘carbers’ put on weight after 4 months. This is because breakfast works in concert with metabolism, which is highest in the morning, fueling energy consumption and prevents cravings when blood sugar drops.
3. Don’t ignore calcium and vitamin D
The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends that women in their 40s get 1,000 mg of calcium and 400 to 800 IU of vitamin D every day from foods like fortified milk or salmon – our favorite, mackerel and other oily fish and with supplements if needed.
Even certain mushrooms are high in vitamin D and don’t forget eggs. Some nutrition experts suggest getting up to 1,000 IU a day is best for optimal health. The use of these foods is one of the main principles of the Beauty of Food Bible whose emphasis is not on a “diet” and “dieting” but on healthy eating.
4. Control your stress levels
There’s no doubt that stress can age a woman quicker than anything else (even a man).
Stress can inhibit the natural rhythm of the heart rate, which can trigger unhealthy messages to the body’s systems. This can mean high blood pressure, less brain energy and less cell growth amongst other things.
To get your heart into a healthier rhythm, breathe in through your nose for 4 beats and out for 8 at least twice a day or anytime you feel the pressure. That activates the vagus nerve that runs from the brain to the pelvis, relaxing the heart, muscles, airways, gastrointestinal tract, and blood vessels.
Also, look into the benefits of the gentler forms of yoga such as Hatha for a moment of peace and reflection.
5. Have fun with your other half
Try something new and not just in the bedroom. “When a woman falls in love, dopamine centers in the brain fire like crazy, and the same thing happens when you do something different and adventurous,” says Laura Berman, Ph.D., director of the Berman Center, a sex therapy clinic in Chicago.
Activities like ballroom dancing or traveling to a new vacation spot promote bonding and stimulate the libido. The same goes for spicy play with sex toys.
One device on the center’s website features a pair of lacy panties with a built-in contoured vibrator that you or your partner can secretly trigger with a remote at boring cocktail parties.
A survey conducted by the Berman Center found that women who use sex toys (mostly in relationships) had more interest in sex, greater arousal, easier orgasms, and less pain during intercourse. Check out some strange facts about orgasm.
6. Eat more protein
Getting foods with all the amino acids needed to form complete proteins at least twice a day boosts levels of mood-lifting neurotransmitters in the brain, which can help relieve symptoms of depression, like slow thinking and poor memory. Women should try eating each main meal with 4 ounces of lean protein. Foods like fish, eggs, and quinoa. But don’t go without carbohydrates as the boost mood by increasing the production of serotonin in the brain.
7. Make a regular date with your girlfriends
Relaxing with friends reduces stress, boosts self-esteem, and even makes you more loving toward your partner when you get home. Women often lose their way socially into their 40s because of family and work commitments.
But women who have extensive social networks through family, work, their hobby and other organizational groups have lower blood pressure, less diabetes, reduced risk of heart disease and half as many strokes as women who are less well connected.
8. Get essential check-ups
As well as numbers 1 through 7 and your overall health, please don’t a woman should pay particular attention to the practical stuff like checkups:
Eye exam: Every 2 to 4 years
Blood pressure: Every 2 years
Pap test and pelvic exam: Every 1 to 3 years
Thyroid: Every 5 years
Mole check: Every year
Mammogram: Every 1 to 2 years
Blood glucose: Every 3 years starting at age 45 Source:Office of Women’s Health, US Department of Health and Human Services
So that’s it – being aware and practicing these 8 healthy lifestyle habits will see you in good stead.
As you might have noticed it’s all about what you do with your body and what you put into it … …I’m for anything natural and avoid plastering chemicals on my face and eating too much artificial this and processed that – occasional cake aside. If you like the natural healthy options too, you can take advantage of all the foodstuffs that are probably in your fridge right now and transform your hair, skin and general health, with a little help from this free book on Natural Beauty Secrets – it’s something I’ve got my daughter into at last so she’ll serenely enter her 30’s, 40’s and beyond.
Anyway – would you like to look 10 years younger? We have looked at the things that are “DO’s” now check out this article by Steve & Becky Holman on 5 steps revealing the big “DON’T DO’s” for slowing the aging process, feeling healthy and full of energy with a body to die for.
It includes a program designed specifically to retard the physical and mental signs of aging. We like it because it works without having to spend hours in the gym or pounding the streets for hours on end. source: richard-laliberte
People often talk about what they’re doing to get in shape or improve fitness, but not so much about keeping their brain sharp. So our body age can improved by exercise but what about our brain age?
Giving your brain a “workout” can improve your memory and make you feel goooood.
Most people think that after a certain age the human brain no longer regenerates but it’s been found that new neurons are being born throughout our lives and it occurs in the grey matter of the brain structure, the hippocampus.
This is known as neurogenesis and it’s been worked out that around 700 neurons can be generated every day, which by the time you’re 50 means that all the neurons you were born with have been replaced.
We’ve known for a long time that the hippocampus is responsible for learning, memory, emotion and mood.
There is no doubt that getting older means a reduction in the growth of neurons and a higher likelihood of external factors causing a higher rate of inhibiting the growth and survival of them.
But the good news is that cognitive decline in older adults can be arrested, long-term memory can be improved and depression and stress become less likely as long as the growth of these neurons aren’t inhibited.
Based on what researchers have found so far here are some do’s and don’ts that will encourage the brain to regenerate and “sharpen the mind”.
1 – Go Outdoors
As well as being good for your body and happiness in general, going outdoors (not just to get a paper!) will help your happiness and help your mind to focus. Getting older often means a loss of spatial awareness so getting out and about improves spatial memory.
Find somewhere green as near to you as you can (this doesn’t have to be the countryside, a local park will do).
The way it will help your mind is by giving it a break from your day to day stresses and strains as it helps you mentally and physically escape.
Festering indoors with little stimulation apart from tv soaps is a no-no.
2 – Diet
It may be no surprise that what sort of food you eat has an affect on your brain age to the extent that researchers now believe that our diet is the modulator of brain functions like memory and mood corresponding with an increase in neurogenesis.
It still follows that all the things we’re told about what to eat and what to avoid holds true, there is no new magic food substance to feast on as there is nothing new to avoid.
So flavonoids found in dark chocolate (hooray) or blueberries increases neurogenesis as does the fatty acids, omega 3 found tuna, sardines and salmon. But a diet ladened with high saturated fats will tend to inhibit the production of neurons.
Apart from what you actually eat it’s been shown that restricting calorie intake by 20 to 30 percent will increase neurogenesis as will intermittent fasting, so spacing the time between meals.
There was something new and a bit strange however, that Japanese researchers unearthed and it is to do with the texture of the food we eat. They have shown that a soft food diet impairs neurogenesis compared to food that needs mastication, so chewy or crunchy food.
It’s not only what you eat, how much you eat and when you eat,but it’s also the texture of the food that promotes good mental health, improved memory and a better overall mood due in turn to the production of the new neurons in the hippocampus.
3 – Gardening
If the idea of digging a heavy spade until you break into a sweat is unappealing, particularly if you have lower back issues, it is worth knowing that gardening doesn’t necessarily have to be a big physical chore.
The good news is that even just doing a bit of basic planting or pruning can help your mental wellbeing. Gardening helps with this by taking your mind off daily stresses and also gives a sense of satisfaction and control.
If you do have your own garden, there is a great sense of pride in reaching certain goals throughout the seasons and entertaining your friends in it is a great bonus.
4 – Reading Books
Reading books has been proven to assist your memory power especially memory recall. If you read a book or indeed your kindle before bed as part of your night time routine it can assist in getting a good night’s sleep, enabling you to be more focused and less stressed the next day. It can calm your mind too, if you get absorbed in a decent story, or stimulate it if you are reading a factual book.
Anything that improves the quality of sleep is always going to be a good thing as it’s been found that sleep-deprivation is a sure way to inhibit neurogenesis.
5 – Exercise
You may already be aware of the advantages exercise can have on the heart and body, but cardio actually delivers oxygen in the blood flow to your brain too and it’s believed that this is the connection between exercise and neurogenesis. Experiments have shown that without a wheel in it’s cage a mouse develops far fewer neurons in the hippocampus than one which can run around it’s wheel daily.
Exercise has been proven to improve long and short memory and to lower the stress inducing hormone cortisol, enabling a clarity of thought.
Through exercise your brain signals you are feeling good with the release of endorphins.
6 – Sudoku/Crosswords
As well as helping you to chill out while you take a break, Sudoku/Crosswords and any other form of brain training have many other benefits. Let’s face it, the more it’s used the more power the brain will retain. Use it or lose it.
They can give you a feeling of personal satisfaction and you could even sit and enjoy some puzzles with the grandchildren, enriching their brain power at the same time as your own.
Puzzles, particularly Sudoku have a link to limiting the aging effect on your brain and helping your memory. You could always “mix it up” a bit more by alternating between Sudoku, Crosswords improving your number and word skills.
Or why not try one of the good brain games that there are online these days.
We would suggest neuronation.com which was created by scientists or luminosity.com which also looks good although we haven’t tried it.
7 – Cut Down On The Booze but…
Ethanol or alcohol intake will decrease brain age.
While there are conflicting reports at the moment about drinking alcohol in moderation, excessive alcohol consumption does unfortunately, damage the brain and inhibits neurogenesis, the regeneration of neurons in the important grey matter.
Although we raise our glasses to celebrate at occasions such as weddings (or even at our weekly pub night out!), it shouldn’t really be taken lightly that alcohol is ultimately a depressant.
The feeling of “relaxing” you may get after an initial drink or two of the alcoholic kind is down to your brain processing slowing down, which is why some people literally can’t remember what they were doing the night before. Laying off the booze can have a positive impact on your sharpness.
Okay, the good news is though, if you’re like me and like a glass of red then research has also shown that resveratrol which is found in red wine helps promote the survival of these growing neurons.
8 – Be Sociable
With so much technology surrounding us, there is a temptation to insulate ourselves in our cocoons, but engaging in company can be fun as well as mentally stimulating.
You and your friends could engage in a new activity such as chess, a quiz or book club for example. If a few of you are into cooking, why not host a get together at each others houses, perhaps on a monthly basis, and enjoy sharing your food and recipes? You could also join a cookery class.
9 – Remember To Breathe!
Stress, poor posture and being too busy are just a few of the contributing factors that can stop us performing the most basic bodily function of all, breathing.
We forget, or may not even know, that ten or fewer slower breaths per minute are best for your heart. This is largely because this helps to get the oxygen to your brain, helping with your energy and sharpness.
Yoga and Pilates concentrate on breathing if you fancy trying a class, or a dvd if you prefer the comfort and privacy of your own home.
There is also plenty of advice online and in books about detailed breathing techniques and meditation, This is a yoga course which should be helpful although it promotes it as a weight loss product as well but I believe it’s still only $9 for the download.
I started going to see bands and musicians way back in the late 1960s at the Dreamland ballroom in Margate. I can’t remember the first group I ever saw live but I do know I caught acts such as the Equals, Mungo Jerry, the Tremeloes – or the Travelling Sex Offenders as they’re now known –McGuinness Flint, Matthews Southern Comfort, Deep Purple, Sweet, Mud, and Status Quo in their Pictures of Matchstick Men heyday. Moving up to London in 1974 I would have to say my first real proper rock concert would have to be seeing Crosby, Still, Nash and Young at Wembley Stadium. On the bill with them were Jesse Colin Young, The Band and Joni Mitchell. I guess it was okay but not the best concert I’ve witnessed, so the following is a chronological list of some of the most memorable music show I’ve been to in the last forty years or so that I thought might be worth sharing with whoever reads this kind of stuff these days.
Elton John – Wembley Stadium, London 1975
Now here’s a concert bill you’re unlikely to see these days. Stackridge, Chaka Khan with Rufus, Joe Walsh, Eagles, The Beach Boys and Elton John – all for a fiver. The main reason for going was to see for the first time my favourite band, The Beach Boys, performing live. Joe Walsh was pretty good – and loud – and he joined the Eagles on stage during their performance as well. I later found out that Jackson Browne was also somewhere up there playing piano with them as well but I wasn’t aware of that at the time.
Then on came the Beach Boys – a bit late if I remember rightly, with Mike Love purring to a by now slightly hostile crowd that ‘you want it to be perfect, don’t you?’, before launching into their set. At this point in their career they hadn’t quite turned totally into a travelling jukebox act, doing stuff from their recent albums such as Surfs Up, Sail on Sailor and The Trader. Of course it was obviously the old classics such as Good vibrations, Wouldn’t it Be Nice and Barbara Ann that got the crowd on their side and for someone who’d never seen them perform in the flesh before it was a pretty good introduction to their live shows.
Neither Brian Wilson, or Bruce Johnston for that matter, were present – I’d have to wait until 1980 and Knebworth before catching all of the original line-up in concert – but I think it’s fair to say they literally blew the crowd away that day. This turned out to be a bit of a problem for the headline act, one Reginald Dwight from Pinner. I’ve checked the set list as it was a bit of a while ago and he got off to a good start with stuff like Rocket Man, Candle in the Wind and The Bitch is Back but, and this I do remember, he then totally blew it by informing a post-Beach Boy euphoric crowd that he had a new album out – Captain Fantastic and the Dirt Brown Cowboy – and he would like to perform the whole thing for us.
At which point I’d have to say at least half the audience, including me and my mates, upped and left the stadium. I read later that originally the Beach Boys were not going to be performing that day. Apparently Stevie Wonder had been slated to play but there was some disagreement about who would top the bill, Stevie or Reg, so Stevie dropped out, the Beach Boys came on board, and the end result was a resounding success for the California Boys, and somewhat of a disaster for Elton John.
By the time he was performing his encore to an ever depleted stadium audience we were all back home watching an interview with Mel Brooks on the tv and ingesting copious amounts of non-prescriptive pharmaceuticals, as was the fashion of the time. I still have the original concert program up in the loft somewhere. It’s currently on Ebay for just over £100. Any offers?
Led Zeppelin – Knebworth, UK 1979
This wasn’t the first time I’d actually seen Zeppelin in concert. They played five concerts over nine days in May, 1975 and, according to the book When Giants Walked the Earth, if you had seen the group at that point in time then you were witnessing what was then the biggest band in the world playing at their musical best, reaching heights of both popularity and creativity never to be repeated.
And I was there. I went to one of those gigs. I witnessed rock history in the making – and I don’t remember a damn thing. I got there late and my friends had left my ticket stuck with a piece of chewing gum beneath one of the telephones outside Earls Court tube. When I finally made my way into the concert hall the first thing that caught my eye was the biggest cloud of marijuana smoke I’d ever seen in my life, hovering over the crowd before descending like some killer alien mass to envelope everyone, including me, with its deadly mind-altering entrails of dope. Two minutes engulfed in that stuff and I was, in the language of the day, like totally gone man.
Fast forward four years later and I finally get to see Led Zeppelin at Knebworth for real, along with other acts such as Todd Rundgren, Southside Johnny and, best of all, Chas and Dave. I can’t actually remember if I went to the concert on the 4th or 11th August – I guess the residual effects of Earls Court still flowed through my veins – but at least this time I can remember most of the concert itself. They came on late, mainly due to the fact that the act before them, the New Barbarians, didn’t hit the stage on time themselves.
A ‘one-off’ combination of Keith Richard and Ronnie Wood, we were all kept waiting for at least an hour before Keef and Ron finally deigned us with their presence. At one point I went off to the toilets prior to their appearance and I could swear Keith Richards walked past me in the opposite direction to the stage.
Eventually they made their appearance and they were absolutely godawful. Even an encore of Jumping Jack Flash couldn’t save the day. The Zep more than made up for all of the delays, mixing new material from their recently released In Through the Out Door album with all of the classics –Black Dog, Stairway to Heaven, Whole Lotta Love , Rock and Roll and many more. At one point Jimmy Page played his guitar with a cello bow equipped with a laser that lit up the sky with strobe colours and neon light.
The performance with the bow was absolutely mesmerising, and the guitarist’s dexterity was truly miraculous, particularly as he presumably also had to contend with the possibility of accidentally wiping out his fellow band members and vast swathes of the audience close to the stage if he pointed the bow in the wrong direction. I left the concert with a mixture of delight that I had finally witnessed and could actually remember seeing one of the greatest bands of all time, and relief that my sight remained unimpaired. source Bruce Springsteen – Wembley Stadium, London 1985
I am proud to say that I am one of the four and half million people who claim to have seen Bruce Springsteen at the Hammersmith Odeon back in 1975 when he visited Britain for the very first time. He did a residency for about three nights and by the time I got round to buying a ticket it was standing room only. He and the E Street band were good but for my money Bruce spent too long talking and not enough time playing the music –he and Little Stevie reminisced for about ten minutes on how they used to sit on the porch watching a beautiful girl walk past every evening before launching into Pretty Flamingo whilst I was expecting them to play She’s the One instead.
So, a good performance but to me Bruce was still a work in progress. By the time he arrived with the Born in the USA tour in 1985 he had Darkness on the Edge of Town and The River plus the new album under his belt and to me, he was finally and truly the Boss. I bought tickets for two concerts, one for the 3rd July and the other for the following day. The first concert was for a bunch of us from work, in which we intended – and did – to get as close to the stage as possible on the pitch and get wasted. The following day was to be a more sober affair with my darling wife.
Needless to say I can’t remember much about the first concert other than, as Bruce sang the Jimmy Cliff song Trapped, everyone pointed to the sky in unison whenever he shouted out the title to the song. This resulted in someone accidentally catching the edge of my glasses with their hand and sending them soaring into the crowd in front of me, whereupon approximately three thousand people took turns jumping up and down on my spectacles. I can’t remember how much I paid for the tickets back then – 30 or 40 quid maybe – but I do remember it cost about 80 to replace my glasses.
The following day – wearing my backup Joe 90 half-tinted glasses that I first bought back in 1978 – my wife and I watched from the safety of the seated area to the left of the stage as Bruce walked out into the sun with just an acoustic guitar and, instead of blasting into Born in the USA as he had done the day previously, he sang Independence Day from The River album – July 4th, geddit? – before then being joined by the rest of the band for Born in the USA.
That opening song was something I don’t think I’ll ever forget. He had the crowd in his hand before he strummed the first chord – and that’s no mean feat considering the stadium was packed with 80,000 people at the time. I’ve taken the liberty of checking the set list for both days and the songs didn’t differ that much – he played Trapped again but this time I left the histrionics out – and it looks as though the encores were the same. Little Stevie appeared as a guest both days running towards the end and joined in on Two Hearts – I could swear he was throwing murderous glances every now and then at his replacement, Nils Lofgren. Maybe he was practising for The Sopranos.
These concerts – mainly the second one if I’m honest – were truly some of the best I’ve ever been privileged to attend. I caught Bruce on all of his subsequent appearances in the UK up until the time he played his first solo gig at the Albert Hall. He’s playing Wembley Stadium again this year – still a prisoner of rock and roll as he used to say – but I have to say I definitely caught him in his prime. source:Paul Simon – Hammersmith Odeon, London 1982 Prior to going to this concert I’d gone to Florida for about two weeks with my brother. Whilst we were there, as is the case with most American radio stations, they constantly played one song over and over again. In this case it was the latest Paul Simon single, Late in the Evening. It eventually got to the point where it wouldn’t have bothered me if I’d never heard that song again. Despite this the saving grace of going to see Simon of course was that he would feature a few of the classic Simon & Garfunkel songs from the 60s and, seeing as I’d never been to one of his concerts before, I was looking forward to it.
I wasn’t disappointed either. It was a balanced set list of old and new songs, which obviously included at some point the ubiquitous Late in the Evening. My main memory is of Paul Simon offering to buy everyone in the auditorium a drink. He said he really appreciated the audience and would like to get a drink for all of us but wasn’t sure how to go about paying for it. Some wag, quoting an American Express advert that was popular on tv at the time, suggested he get his Amex card out. The moment passed – but I did read that the following night Simon actually arranged for the audience to have a drink on him at the cost of about £1000. Anyway, he finally got to the encore and we all waited with baited breath, trying to figure out what the final song might be. Cecilia, Mother and Child Reunion, I Am a Rock? No. You guessed it. It was Late in the Evening . Again. And he still owes me a drink.
John Williams – The Barbican, London 1982
I love film music. My favourite composers are Ennio Morricone – more on him later – Elmer Bernstein, and John Williams. I’ve been lucky to see all of them in concert at one time or another – as well as John Barry, Lalo Schifrin and Jerry Goldsmith. This concert was apparently the very first open air show to be performed at the Barbican and I was looking forward to hearing Star Wars, Jaws, Indiana Jones and many others played by the London Symphony Orchestra and conducted by the man who actually wrote the music.
I’d also taken along the sleeve to the Close Encounters of the Third Kind album – a particular favourite of mine – in the hope that I might be able to get John Williams to autograph it for me. The first half of the concert consisted of music by other composers, including Also Sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss, and excerpts from Holst’s The Planets. Spielberg’s E.T. had yet to be released in the UK so this was the British premier of the music, William’s conducting the main theme to great applause at the beginning of the second half.
It was a fantastically sunny August evening as well, and when the orchestra launched into the theme from Superman we all automatically looked to the sky in case the caped wonder might make a surprise appearance. One of the highlights of the concert was when he conducted excerpts from Close Encounters, including one piece featuring the London Symphony Chorus, the members of the chorus concealed from the audience as their voices seeped eerily through the gaps in the shutters located on the balconies of the surrounding buildings.
Towards the end of the concert and after what most people thought might be the last piece of music a lot of the audience stood up and rushed to the front of the stage, clutching their programs and album covers for the great man’s signature. John Williams pointed with his baton to a small doorway from which he indicated he would emerge to meet and greet his adoring fans. Being the cool kind of guy I imagined myself to be at the time I decided to bide my time and wait for the crowd to disperse before approaching him with my CE3K album cover. To everyone’s surprise and delight the orchestra played another encore, the Raiders of the Lost Ark theme.
Once it had finished, Williams took a final bow then left the stage to appear a moment later through the doorway he had indicated earlier. The fans rushed forward – and Mr John Williams turned and ran away. Maybe he couldn’t face signing another autograph, maybe he needed the toilet or was late for another engagement. Who knows? I couldn’t help thinking of that last scene from Close Encounters when the child-like aliens surrounded Richard Dreyfuss as he climbed up the ramp into the Mother Ship. In this case the aliens were chasing their hero into the dark recesses of the Barbican, something I felt I couldn’t do, no matter how much I wanted someone’s autograph. Maybe next time.
Bob Dylan / Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Wembley Arena, London 1987
This turned out to be a memorable night for a couple of reasons. It was going to be the first time I had seen either Dylan or Petty and, as I found out the following morning when I cleaned up the tiles that crashed from the roof onto my car, it was also the night of the great storm of 1987. Prior to all of this mayhem I was pleasantly surprised by the appearance of Roger McGuinn at the beginning of the concert.
McGuinn had obviously fronted The Byrds, the group that helped introduce Dylan to a wider audience with their versions of Mr. Tambourine Man, All I Really Want to Do and My Back Pages, to name but a few. For this concert he was actually backed by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, which I guess was only appropriate seeing as they had ‘borrowed’ the sound of The Byrd’s for their classic single American Girl. Highlights from this first set included Eight Miles High and Mr. Tambourine Man, after which Roger McGuinn left the stage and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers took over.
They played a smattering of Heartbreaker songs but for me the highlight was most definitely So You Wanna Be a Rock and Roll Star which, for some strange reason, they didn’t perform with McGuinn, who’d actually written the song with Chris Hillman for The Byrds back in the 60s. I’m afraid to say the inevitable, but when Dylan walked on stage – with the Heartbreakers as his backing band as well – it kind of all went downhill from there. I’ve checked the setlist from that night but I would have been hard-pressed at the time to have recognised any of the songs he performed.
Dylan was by now firmly entering his ‘guess which one I’m singing now’ phase – I caught him again some years later at the Hop Farm Festival in Kent and I could swear he launched into a rendition of the Doris Day classic Secret Love halfway through what might have been Like A Rolling Stone – and even a friend of mine who also came along that night and was a big Dylan fan had trouble recognising some, if not most, of the songs that Dylan performed. I seem to remember there was a vague rumour going round that evening that George Harrison might make a surprise appearance. That would have pepped things up a bit but alas it wasn’t to be.
There is a postscript to all of this. I managed to get to work the following day through the mayhem created by the overnight storm and, as I was leaving for home that evening who should I see in the back of a long black limousine parked in front of a hotel near where I worked in London but Bob Dylan and Tom Petty – I guess Roger and the Heartbreakers were relegated to taking the bus to that night’s performance. As the limo pulled away I could see Mr Petty conversing in a quite animated fashion with his Bobness.
I can only guess – or hope – that he was suggesting Dylan might try enunciating the lyrics a bit more clearly that evening instead of gargling and barking his songs to a worshipful but frequently confused crowd. If you’ve gotta serve somebody, Bob, try your audience.
Brian Wilson – Festival Hall, London 2002
You may notice there’s quite a gap in time between this concert and the last. I saw a lot of acts in between from Billy Joel, Hall and Oates, Joe Jackson, KD Lang, Bruce a lot of times, Beach Boys ditto, Prince, Eagles again, Donald Fagen and Walter Becker to name but a few but were they memorable concerts? Did I come away thinking that’s the best thing I’ve ever seen? I guess not because it wasn’t until the arrival of the Messiah, in the guise of Brian Wilson, at the Festival Hall in 2002 that I finally attended a concert that will stay with me for a long time to come.
Wilson had been touring with his backing band The Wondermints, along with Jeff Foskett on falsetto for a couple of years. I’d been invited over to Japan during the period when we were trying to get our Beach Boys musical off the ground to watch him in concert at the Budokan but unfortunately I couldn’t go due to work commitments. I’ve just reviewed that sentence and I can’t believe that a) I was actually invited in the first place and b) that I didn’t go.
This was therefore my first opportunity to see Brian Wilson live on stage in the UK since the Knebworth and Wembley Arena concerts back in 1980, and it was definitely worth the wait. I think he played for quite a few nights and I probably caught him a few days into the residency. He obviously sang a lot of Beach Boys numbers and the main attraction was of course the performance of Pet Sounds in its entirety. The album kicks off with Wouldn’t It Be Nice. I can’t think of a more joyful Beach Boys song than that song, even if the lyrics are a sad counterpoint to the more upbeat melody. One of my favourite Pet Sounds tracks is Here Today and, as you Beach Boys / Brian Wilson / Pet Sounds geeks know, if you listen real close on the original recording you’ll hear a couple of members of the group discussing the recent purchase of a camera during the instrumental break – honest.
Anyway, just as it got to that point in the live rendition at the Festival Hall someone in the audience loudly supplied the words to that conversation in situ with the music. Now that’s what I call commitment to the cause. I’d have to say that this concert was the closest I’ve ever witnessed to a live religious experience. The place was packed to the rafters with an adoring and worshipful audience, the more voluble acolytes declaiming their love for Brian and his music at every possible opportunity. Out of all of his solo material I’d have to say that Love and Mercy, which he performed as a final encore, is probably one of the best songs Brian Wilson wrote as a solo artist. Melt Way comes a close second. A truly memorable evening. And his Smile concert a few years later was just as good.
Neil Young – Hop Farm, Kent, UK 2008
I’d seen Neil Young playing solo once before in the 80s when he toured his Trans album. It was notable for copious use of a vocoder which Young used to distort his voice to the point of incomprehensiveness. The idea apparently was to attempt to duplicate the difficulties he had encountered when attempting to communicate with his two sons who suffer from cerebral palsy.
All very noble I guess but when you go to see Neil Young what you really want is for Neil to strap on Old Black and thrash away in as loud a manner as possible a la Weld with a smattering of Heart of Gold / Only Love Can Break Your Heart ballads to relieve the ear drums for a spell – and preferably backed by Crazy Horse. Who unfortunately didn’t back him at the first Hop Farm festival, but to me they were there in spirit.
Besides, it was just good to be able to finally see the miserable one in the flesh again. Accompanied by his then wife, Pegi, on backing vocals, the set was a bit light on the thrashing – and Words went on a bit too long for my liking – it was good to hear tracks from Harvest such as Heart of Gold, Old Man and Needle and the Damage Done played live to an appreciative crowd. The encore was a highly spirited version of A Day in the Life, which caught the crowd by surprise, but in a pleasant way.
In fact, he was so good I decided to see him again a few years later at Hyde Park. When he started playing the Beatles song as an encore again we turned to leave as we knew it was obviously the last tune of the evening. Suddenly the crowd erupted in loud cheers so we looked back at the stage to see what the fuss was all about and there was Paul McCartney on stage with Neil performing the middle section of the Beatles classic. Now that’s something you don’t see every day.
Ennio Morricone – O2, London 2016
What can I say about this concert? How can I convey in mere words the emotionally uplifting experience that comes with spending over two hours in the company of one of the most seriously gifted composers of all time? I can’t – but here goes anyway. I saw the maestro in concert a few years before at the Barbican. I remember that most of the first half featured a lot of experimental and avante garde pieces, the more popular film themes left over for the second part of the concert.
For the encore at the Barbican he played The Ecstasy of Gold from the soundtrack to The Good the Bad and the Ugly, almost as if it were purely for me. The opportunity to see him once more was too good to pass up and I have to say without reservation that Ennio Morricone at the O2 this February was probably one of the best concerts I have ever been to. The guy is 87 years old and he now sits most of the time when conducting but the energy that his music imparts belies the occasional frailty of the man himself.
Accompanied by the Czech National Symphony Orchestra and a huge choir from Hungary the concert was split into separate specific sections. The first section paid homage to Italian director Guiseppe Tornatore, with selections from his films The Best offer and The Legend of 1900 – although strangely not Cinema Paradiso. Another section featured his number two UK chart hit Chi Mai, which was used in the BBC tv series The Life and Times of David Lloyd George.
Then it stepped up a notch with a whole bunch of Western themes from the films of Sergio Leone. When the orchestra launched into The Ecstasy of Gold, with soprano Susanna Rigacci supplying the high notes, it was so breathtakingly beautiful I literally forgot to breathe myself, it was that good. Ennio was right to stop the first half of the concert at that point as I don’t think even he was ever going to be able to top the performance of that particular piece of music. They all gave it a good try in the second half though, with Deborah’s Theme from Once Upon A Time in America and the section featuring music from The Mission demonstrated.
The encore featured – yes, again – The Ecstasy of Gold and by the end I really thought I had died and gone to heaven. Ennio is playing at Blenheim Palace on June 23rd this year. Beg, steal, borrow, counterfeit a ticket – actually, no, don’t do that last one – but do anything you can to go and see a real live bona fide genius in action, before he inevitably ascends to that great concert hall in the sky. Trust me. You won’t regret it.
Carol King – Hyde Park July 3rd 2016Admittedly it’s kind of strange writing about a concert I’ve not actually been to yet, but I’m guessing that seeing and hearing Carole King play the whole of the Tapestry album is – almost – on a par with witnessing Brian Wilson perform Pet Sounds live in concert. This is therefore pre-empting what I’m hoping is going to be a classic show by someone I’ve never had the opportunity to see up until now.
I used to buy Rolling Stone magazine back in the late 60s / early 70s because I vainly thought it was the hip and right on thing to do. That meant I’d heard about Cheech and Chong before their first album ever came out, and I knew who Tom Wolfe was way before he wrote Bonfire of the Vanities. It was only later in life that I realised no one in Margate gave a crap about what I did or didn’t know but what I did know is that I knew who Carole King was before she released Tapestry.
Back in the day you had to order a record from your local gramophone outlet if you wanted an album by someone who wasn’t that well-known. I therefore duly placed my order for Tapestry after reading a glowing review in Rolling Stone and waited in eager anticipation for its arrival. In the meantime I had struck up a more than friendly relationship with a young girl visiting Margate on holiday. I must have gushed a bit too much about Carole King because the next thing I knew she turned up with a copy of Tapestry for me. It turned out the guy who ran the record shop had sold her the one I’d ordered, but I ended up with it anyway. I think they call that fate. Roll on July 3rd. And Don Henley had better be good as well.
This is a short celebration of some of those great movie double bills that I remember from the 1960s. Prior to the advent of video / DVD, the only way you could watch one of your favourite movies again after their original release was to hopefully catch it on re-release at the local flea pit. If you were lucky the film might come around again as part of a double bill with another film equally as good.
For example I remember seeing Dr. No the first time on its initial release with a short black and white B movie in the Edgar Lustgarten (now there’s a name to conjure with) Scales of Justice series. The second time around the Bond film was paired with a Kirk Douglas Western called The Indian Fighter. Third time around I caught it on a double bill with From Russia With Love. I’m listing the following releases chronologically rather than by preference.
Dinosaurus! / The Mole People (1960)
I think this was the first monster double feature I ever saw. Back in the 1950s / early 1960s monster movies such as It Came From Beneath the Sea, The Giant Behemoth and Konga were usually rated as X certificate so I wouldn’t have been able to get in to see them at my age.
This bill comprised two A features which meant I could go with a parent. Luckily my dad was up for it so off we went. Dinosaurus made quite an impression on me at the time, as it really did feature what at the time could be described as spectacular dinosaur action. The climax of the film was a battle between a T-Rex and a crane operated by the hero. In fact when I saw Jurassic Park III it occurred to me that the scriptwriters of that film might have taken a sneaky look at the end of Dinosaurus for some inspiration.
There’s a cheesy sub plot with a young kid falling in with a caveman – hence the A rating I guess – who has been awoken from his primeval sleep along with the dinosaur of the title. I have to admit it doesn’t hold up to repeated viewings as far as the special effects are concerned but I was only 8 at the time, and it had dinosaurs in it so what was not to like? The Mole People however scared the living crap out of me and I had nightmares for months afterwards.
It was mainly set underground – duh – and the fact that most of the action was shot in shadow gave it a real creepy feel. I’ve not seen the film since but it obviously stayed with me so probably one worth checking out for all you horror aficionado’s out there.
A Thunder of Drums / The Colossus of Rhodes (1960)
Not exactly a classic Western but interesting to watch just the same, a Thunder of Drums features a couple of heart throbs of the time to entice the younger audiences into the cinema.
This film has a small supporting role for Richard Chamberlain, riding high on the popularity of the Dr. Kildare tv series at the time but the real surprise is seeing guitar-twanging Duane Eddy, sans guitar, as a cavalry soldier. Casting-wise I’d say that’s nearly up there with John Wayne as Genghis Khan in The Conquerors but maybe that’s just me (Charles Bronson’s also lurking in the background as well).
Anyway, as seems to be the case with a lot of the 60s double bill programs, it’s the second film that to me was the better of the two and the most memorable. The Colossus of Rhodes is worth a look for a number of reasons. Spectacular action sequences, including the destruction of the huge statue of the title in an earthquake, Hollywood actor desperately looking for another paycheck Rory Calhoun – he apparently replaced John Derek at the last moment – and the directing debut of a certain Serge Leone just to round things off.
I caught this film on tv in Italy a few years back and it still stands up quite well. More on Italian sword and sandal epics later.
The Pirates of Blood River / Mysterious Island (1962)
I remember quite clearly seeing this with my mum when I was about 10, partly because Mysterious Island was so much more enjoyable than the main film. It was also the first Ray Harryhausen movie I’d seen and I was hooked from that moment on.
I seem to remember the audience preferring Mysterious Island as well, particularly in the scene where one of the castaways jumps on the back of a huge animated chicken-like bird and tries to ride it like a horse. The main film was a Hammer pirate movie starring Christopher Lee with a young Oliver Reed and an even younger Dennis Waterman among the cast.
Can’t remember that much about it if I’m honest apart from a couple of the pirates getting eaten by piranha’s but definitely not as good as Mysterious Island which in my opinion should have been the main film. Apparently it was the most successful double bill release in the UK in that year. Great poster too.
Jason and the Argonauts / Siege of the Saxons (1963)
Arguably Ray Harryhausen’s finest effort – the skeleton fight towards the end still holds its own against many of the CGI efforts of today. It has a great Bernard Hermann score as well.
This bill perfectly suited the demographic I was associated with at the time – an 11 year-old schoolkid with absolutely no interest in anything other than movies. In fact, even though I saw this approximately 53 years ago at the Dreamland cinema in Margate I’m prepared to bet that apart from the ushers there was not one individual of the female persuasion in the audience.
This bill had it all. Loads of action – apparently Siege of the Saxons used a whole bunch of battle scenes from an old Alan Ladd film called The Black Knight – huge statues that came to life and snapped boats in two, flying harpies, seven headed Hydras and of course the aforementioned skeletons. I caught a separate double bill a year later released by an enterprising distributor featuring two films entitled Jason and the Golden Fleece and Invasion of the Normans.
Not half as good as the originals but you have to admire the wordplay with the film titles. Incidentally, Jason and the Argonauts was also re-released in the 70s on a bill with Mysterious Island which would have made Harryhausen fans like me think they had died and gone to heaven.
The Devil Ship Pirates / The Invincible 7 (1964)
As with A Thunder of Drums, back in the 60s a lot of films were released accompanied by a sword and sandal movie on the second half of the bill. The Devil Ship Pirates was another Hammer pirate movie, almost a sequel if you like to Pirates of Blood River – also again starring Christopher Lee – but again it was in my opinion the second film, in this case The Invincible 7 (aka The Secret 7) that was the better movie.
Bear in mind I was only about 12 at this point so my critical faculties were not engaged enough to take on board the homo-erotic subtext of many, if not all, of the Italian so-called peplum films of the time. These sword and sandal epics deserve a separate article of their own but suffice to say that to me, at the time, they were hugely enjoyable action and adventure movies, even though on occasion those tiny white kilts the characters wore tended to be rather too short, even to the mind of a young innocent school boy such as myself.
The Great Escape / 633 Squadron (mid-60s)
I must have spent all afternoon in the cinema catching this program, what with The Great Escape running at just under 3 hours on its own. I suspect 633 Squadron may have been abridged but I can’t confirm that.
Either way a perfect example of a perfect double bill, both films doing what Hollywood does best when it comes to World War 2 – casting an American actor in the main role of a film that is solely dedicated to a story in which most of the other characters are British. As with so many other WW2 films such as Objective Burma, U-571, Tobruk, Too Late the Hero and numerous others of that ilk, why let the facts of the conflict get in the way of a good story (there must be a book in this somewhere – Can We Have Our War Back Please?).
All that aside, as far as I’m concerned this double bill should have been sub-titled The Angus Lennie Story. The little Scottish actor (McQueen’s side-kick in The Great Escape) plays Cliff Robertson’s co-pilot in 633 Squadron. Their plane crashes at the end but it’s unsure if they both die then Angus turns up again as a POW of Stalag Luft III before meeting his demise on a barbed wire fence. Watch them back-to-back if you ever have a day to spare and tell me I’m wrong. Another great poster too, but one that was unfortunately out of my pay grade.
Psycho / War of the Worlds (1966)
This was a double X bill – you had to be 16 or over to see it – so how I got to sneak into the Dreamland cinema in Margate at the age of 13 is beyond me but somehow or other I managed it.
I can however clearly remember the girl sat behind me screaming her head off at the end when Vera Miles discovers the mummified corpse of Mrs Bates in the cellar, so thanks for that, whoever you were. Now that I’ve given the end away I may as well go the whole hog – Norman dresses up as his mother and kills people in the shower. He’s also a taxidermist who stuffs very small dead creatures, but only when his hands are steady. If you haven’t seen it yet, then shame on you. Check it out anyway.
Another great Bernard Hermann score. War of the Worlds was made way back in the early 1950s and won an Oscar for special FX, which are obviously pretty tame for this day and age but it has its moments. The two leads in the film, Gene Barry and Ann Robinson, make a very quick blink and you’ll miss it cameo in Spielberg’s 2005 effort.
There’s a rumour that the BBC might be adapting the H.G Wells novel for tv, and keeping the original location of the story from the book, which takes place in and around London, Wimbledon and the Leatherhead area and to me that would make a welcome change.
She / One Million Years BC (1968)
A double Hammer bill that the whole family could go and see – which is exactly what I did in 1968 when I took my mum and numerous brothers and sisters to see it at a tiny cinema in Broadstairs which is still open and showing films today. It’s now called the Palace Cinema, located in Harbour Street, if you ever find yourself down that way.
One Million Years BC is yet another Harryhausen film I’m afraid but better known as a vehicle for Raquel Welch and her rather fetching fur bikini, which if memory serves me well was a damned sight more animated than Raquel herself. Along with She, this is a memorable double bill for me, mainly because four hours in the dark with Raquel and Ursula Andress does strange things to the stuttering sexual awareness of a 16 year old from which I’m not sure I’ve ever fully recovered.
I found out recently that if you were in the know you could write off to Hammer studios and they would send you a copy of the poster for this film free of charge. Seeing as the asking price for one of these posters is now in the region of £200 to £300 I wish I’d been quicker off the mark myself.
A Fistful of Dollars / You Only Live Twice (1969)
Clint and Sean. What a class act. Shame they never made any films together. Here’s the thing about Clint though. It’s difficult for contemporary audiences to appreciate this, but to my generation Clint Eastwood was Rowdy Yates, the second lead and comedy relief in the television Western series Rawhide.
Imagine everyone’s surprise when Rowdy turns up on the big screen as a monosyllabic psychopath with no name who shoots first and doesn’t bother asking questions afterwards. Traumatic is not the word. Apart from possibly James Garner it was an early example of a famous tv personality successfully making the transition on to the big screen – I don’t count Steve McQueen as his Western show Wanted Dead or Alive wasn’t shown on British tv until many years afterwards.
The rest, as they say, is history. As for You Only Live Twice, I’d say it’s the last of the better Sean Connery efforts – Never Say Never Again, anyone? Great John Barry soundtrack, a fairly amusing script by Roald Dahl of all people and of course Donald Pleasance’s Blofeld serving as the perfect template for Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers films.
You are no doubt aware that there is a link, between fatty foods and fitness. Whilst it is nice to have treats in moderation, and sometimes this can feel essential to keep your sanity; it becomes essential to keep an eye on the amount of saturated fats and sugar we eat if we are going to maintain our midlife health.
It is best to especially watch foods such as pies, biscuits, cakes and savoury snacks as they contain a surprisingly high amount of fat which can sneak up on the tummy making it harder to stay in shape and feel fit and healthy.
Here are 8 foods however, that have very impressive health and fitness benefits. You could incorporate some of the ones you fancy into your weekly shopping list:
Fish, particularly salmon, is packed with protein and omega 3 fats, which are excellent for your heart. A light meal containing fish would be great to enjoy after you come in from enjoying your exercises, as it is great to eat to refuel and recover. Salmon also has a good balance of carbohydrates.
It helps your ticker by lowering cholesterol as well as strengthening your heart muscles. The omega 3 can help prevent blood clots. It is also good for your skin, hair and eyes. Tuna and sardines can also help with your fitness.
2 Green Veggies
Green Veg, particularly broccoli and spinach, are excellent for fitness (who can forget Popeye pumping his muscles after he’d ate his spinach?).
Spinach contains loads of vitamin K which is great for your bones as well as twice the concentration of iron as even other great greens.
Broccoli is not called a ‘Superfood’ for nothing either, it is good for your heart and joints and the magnesium can help your memory.
3 Olive Oil
Olive Oil (no, we’re not back to Popeye!) is also very good when it comes to your fitness. It has a link to cancer prevention and can reduce cholesterol as well as strengthening your blood vessels and reducing your blood pressure.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (preferable 100%) is the best type to go for to keep you fighting fit, as the goodness hasn’t been diluted out of it.
As well as being packed with vitamins, folate and potassium, tomatoes have the rare balance of being filling without being fattening.
They can help prevent lines and wrinkles, fight osteoporosis, due to their vitamin K and calcium content and can even help your eyesight due to their vitamin A content.
As long as they are eaten in moderation, not coated in sugar, salt or fatty flavourings, or washed down with a gallon of beer or wine, nuts are actually very good for you!
Almonds are recommended due to trumping every other type of nut in the calcium stakes, and they also contain a lot of fibre.
Walnuts are also great as they can reduce inflammation of the arteries due to their omega 3 content.
Blueberries really are a ‘Superfood’ and are the Ninjas of antioxidants – the fighters of certain disease.
They can help with your heart, enhance your memory, reduce blood sugar levels and can decrease depression symptoms.
If you find them a bit bland on their own, you could keep ‘em healthy by adding them to a fruit salad or a plain yoghurt.
Beans are an excellent source of protein and can be a great substitute for fatty meats, particularly if you are trying to watch the waistline.
This is because they contain the minerals and fibre of meat but not the bad saturated fat. They are also filling and versatile, with a variety of different types available; not just the canned baked beans you may keep stocked up for the grandchildren!
Don’t forget these other types of beans you can get, including kidney beans and black beans. (If you can’t resist canned baked beans yourself, you could always opt for a low-salt/sugar option.)
Beans also go great in tortilla wraps as a fun, healthy sandwich alternative. They are a must in a chilli con carne and can liven up those soups and salads.
8 Dark Chocolate
It doesn’t just have to be the more obvious sensible food that is good for you. Dark chocolate may feel like a naughty treat, but the good news is that an ounce of it contains loads of nutrients and antioxidants which can actually fight heart disease. It can also stimulate muscle growth and literally cheers you up due to lowering your stress levels!
The key, before you reach for the whole box or bar though, is moderation. Your sweet cravings can be satisfied with as little as one square daily and you should always go for a cocoa/cacao content of above 65% to reap the benefits.
If you are having difficulty nodding off and fancy ditching the sleeping pills, the good news is there are plenty of natural foods that can help induce sleep.
Whilst there are some recommendations that it is best not to eat after 7pm, feeling hungry can keep you awake so sometimes a light snack doesn’t hurt.
From bananas to cheese, here is a list of 8 foods which can help your sleep quality, with a touch of the science behind how they can help. There are some which may surprise you:
1 – Bananas
Despite being thought of as an ‘energy fruit’, bananas can actually have the opposite effect and help you to get your shut eye.
This is because the potassium they contain can relax your muscles in preparation.
Washing your banana down with warmed milk can be an even better solution, as they both contain a lot of carbohydrates which aid sleep.
2 – Eggs
Whilst you may associate eggs as part of your brekkie routine, you could also consider a hard boiled one as a pre-bedtime snack. This is because they contain tryptophan, which acts as a natural sedative.
Eggs are also packed with protein and the effect they have on your blood-sugar means you are more likely to have uninterrupted, quality sleep.
If you don’t think you will fancy eggs too near to bedtime, it could still be beneficial with getting to sleep to consider boiled eggs with a slice of wholemeal toast for your evening meal.
3 – Fish
The vitamin B6 found in many fish aids with the production of melatonin in your body which works at night time as an indication to your mind and body that it is time to unwind and get some rest.
Two of the best sleep aiding types of fish are cod and salmon.
4 – Turkey
After a large Christmas dinner you may put your nodding off in front of the TV down to overindulging and too much wine.
While this is no doubt the case, and it would be lovely to blame the turkey (and people often do!), turkey has got some benefits.
This is because, similarly to eggs, it contains tryptophan, which if eaten in the right quantity can help the brain produce serotonin required for sleep.
Before you go for double-helpings at the Christmas or Sunday lunch table though, remember it is best to eat a lot of the turkey itself, preferably on an empty stomach, or perhaps on a wholemeal sandwich to gain any sort of benefit!
5 – Cereals
As long as you don’t go for the ones that are packed full of refined sugar (always check the label, some cereals can unfortunately contain “nasty” surprises when you think you are being healthy!) and go for wholegrain ones, cereals can be the perfect snack to nibble on before your head hits the pillow.
The fibre in the whole grains will stabilise your blood sugar levels which slows down absorption of sugars, letting your body keep ahead while it’s processing them.
Just watch your portion size, so your tum doesn’t try too hard to digest it.
6 – Strawberries
As well as many other health benefits such as improved heart health, anti-aging properties and a boost to your immune system, strawberries can also help when it comes to sleep, due to their vitamin C content.
(Whilst you might automatically think of oranges when you hear of vitamin C though, these wouldn’t be advised, as the acidity could cause other problems if eaten too close to bedtime; such as heartburn, which would be a separate keeping you awake issue!)
Being a fruit they are also versatile and could be eaten as part of a fruit salad for example, and are better on the waistline than a lot of other snacks.
7 – Broccoli
Broccoli is an amazing food that has a number of healthy plus points.
When it comes to helping your sleep, you could consider eating it as an accompaniment to your early evening meal.
As well as the protein, iron and fibre content, the magnesium broccoli contains is linked to helping your shut eye.
8 – Cheese
Before you pass on to the grandchildren the old wives tale that eating cheese before bed can give you nightmares, consider the type of cheese and its actual sleep benefits!
Whilst strong tasting cheese such as Stilton is linked to bad dreams if eaten too closely to bedtime, other types of cheese such as Cheshire can actually help your sleep without producing crazy dreams!
Other recommended cheeses to help your sleep quality are low-fat cottage cheese/Mozzarella and Ricotta.
The cheese contains tryptophan which has a similar effect to eggs and turkey..
Prior to your rush to get the cheeseboard out though, remember to watch your portion size. as cheese is unfortunately high in cholesterol and saturated fat.
If the small portion of cheese won’t fill you up on its own, you could always pair it with some grapes.
This article was written in 2002 after I was requested to document a trip I took to Los Angeles in September, 1999, to meet with the legendary leader of the Beach Boys, Brian Wilson. What follows is all true – honest. Steve Mayhew – February 2016.
If somebody had said to me one day I’d find myself driving a convertible down Hollywood Boulevard beneath a clear blue Californian sky, palm trees waving lazily in the cool Pacific breeze and Brian Wilson singing ‘Imagination’ on the car stereo whilst on my way to meet the legend himself in his Beverly Hills home I’d say… yeah, why not? I mean it was almost 11 years to the day – back in 1988 – that my wife had tentatively suggested I consider taking her out to celebrate our wedding anniversary rather than attend the annual Beach Boys Stomp convention in Harrow. When I got to work on the following Monday I found out a certain Brian Wilson had dropped in to promote his solo album as a surprise guest – and I had missed it. I figured, therefore, that it was only right I finally got the opportunity to meet the great man himself and even more satisfying to know I’d get to meet him on his own home turf.
But first let’s rewind a little and set the scene.
Back in 1996 I suggested to a writing friend of mine that we write a musical play about Brian Wilson. After numerous rewrites and false starts with various producers and directors the property was optioned by a West End producer who, for legal reasons, cannot be named in this article. He spent two years of our life and over £40,000 of someone else’s money only to reveal he hadn’t managed to get the rights to the music of The Beach Boys from the publishing company as required. We were forced to abandon the original version of the play and rewrite it to make it more of a story on the group rather than centred entirely on Brian Wilson. After extensive rewriting and with the blessing of a group of new investors I found myself flying over to Los Angeles in September 1999 to discuss the details of the play with the great man himself.
I was accompanied by the manager of Status Quo, David Walker (now sadly deceased) and Neil Warnock, European agent for Brian Wilson (now a solo artist) and The Beach Boys. It was agreed we would take Brian through the play page by page and make notes of any changes he might suggest, the object of the exercise to ensure there was nothing contentious that might encourage matters of a litigious nature further on down the line.
I met my fellow travellers at the Four Season’s hotel from where we were transported up into the Hollywood Hills in a very large black automobile. After half an hour we arrived at the gates to a large housing estate surrounded by brick walls and a high tech security system with a breath-taking view overlooking Los Angeles below.
The car meandered down the hill and dropped us off outside an unassuming house in a cul de sac with children’s toys in the driveway. Brian Wilson’s wife, Melinda, warmly welcomed us into the house, my attention being immediately drawn to a large piano in the music den to the left (no sandbox though). The piano was covered in photographs of assorted Wilson family members and a lifetime achievement award from the American Music Society. Then without any warning there stood Brian Wilson in the flesh. I’d obviously never met him before but I knew it had to be him as it said ‘Brian Wilson’ on his t-shirt. And then suddenly it hit me with a force so intense my carefully prepared air of nonchalance disappeared in tatters. I’M IN BRIAN WILSON’S HOUSE FOR CHRIST’S SAKE AND NO ONE’S CALLED THE POLICE YET TO HAVE ME REMOVED! What the hell am I doing here?! I mean this is the man, the one and only, the guy who wrote (cliche number one coming up) the soundtrack to my life, genius composer of ‘Pet Sounds’ and ‘Good Vibrations’ and ‘California Girls’ and ‘Heroes And Villains’ and ‘Girl Don’t Tell Me’ (one of my particular favourites) and ‘Warmth Of The Sun’ and ‘Don’t Worry Baby’ and he’s holding his hand out to shake mine. Reality eventually settled in – this was after all a business meeting, not a hero worship session.
For a moment we all looked at each other trying to figure out who was going to do what when Melinda casually suggested that she drive everyone to the nearest deli and bring back some lunch so that STEVE AND BRIAN CAN SIT TOGETHER IN THE MUSIC DEN AND GO THROUGH THE PLAY IN PRIVACY WITHOUT ANY INTERRUPTIONS and I’m thinking this is starting to become very unreal again when David Walker volunteers to sit with us as well. This turns out to be a good thing otherwise I’m sure there was going to be a danger of me turning from wannabe writer into a quivering obsessive Beach Boys fan asking Brian what his favourite colour was.
Brian sat down in a large leather chair next to his piano while David and I perched on a couple of stools either side and then proceeded to go through the script. Now as we all know the impression one has of Brian Wilson from numerous interviews and articles over the years is of a man confused and bewildered when it comes to dealing with the real world, a shell of his former self living on the edge of reality. As far as I’m concerned the man I met bore absolutely no resemblance to that image at all. He was concentrated, articulate, comfortable in our presence, interested in what we had to say about the play and genuinely happy to discuss his past. The first thing that hit me was his power of recall. One instance of this was when he put me right about a scene early on in the play when the young Beach Boys record ‘Surfin’, reminding me that it was he and not his younger brother, Dennis, who played drums on that first session.
Occasionally he would say things that surprised me especially when it came to the subject of his father, Murry, suggesting we beef up some of the language so that it was more like the real thing. Overall Brian’s contribution was positive and very encouraging. In fact throughout the hour or so we spent going over the play there was only one time when I felt something Brian said might not work but apart from that it was all very encouraging.
Inevitably when it comes to Brian Wilson some of the famous eccentricity of his character will eventually come to the surface. So it was that, after handing over a CD of some of the demos a very talented musician by the name of Sean MacReavy had recorded for us, David Walker and I found ourselves sitting on the edge of Brian’s unmade bed listening to the music while Brian rocked back and forth congratulating us on the quality of the music versus the original tracks. Then suddenly it was time to say goodbye and with a shake of hands, a request for a few autographs – I stupidly didn’t take any photographs – and wishes for all the best, Brian was out of the door to get his lunch. Before he left I gave him a copy of a Glen Miller CD I’d picked up with a recording of ‘Rhapsody In Blue’, a song I had read somewhere he used to play all the time as a child on his father’s record player.
Finding myself alone for a few moments I walked nervously over to Brian’s piano and quietly played the opening chords to ‘California Girls’, all the while waiting for a large disembodied voice from the heavens to tell me to stop taking liberties.
Both Brian and Melinda Wilson were very gracious in their opinion of the play and we went away full of hope that the project would now finally move ahead. Unfortunately, despite being given a verbal thumbs-up from all concerned it turned out that the publishing company Rondor had already assigned the music rights to another producer in New York. Apparently there is a move to put on a play that is not actually about The Beach Boys but that will use the music in much the same way as ‘Mamma Mia’ uses the music of Abba.
Two years on from the meeting with Brian Wilson I caught him and his band on stage at the Royal Festival Hall performing numerous Beach Boys hits and ‘Pet Sounds’ in its entirety. It took the concert to finally dispel the disappointment over the play not happening. As one music writer once said, the most important thing is the music. Everything else just fades into insignificance.
My son recently decided he wanted to ‘go vinyl’ for his birthday so I checked out the local charity shops to see what poor misguided soul might have given away from their record collection either out of ignorance or because the Grim Reaper had put paid to their disc spinning days. To my surprise I found copies of Tapestry by Carol King, Graceland by Paul Simon and Led Zeppelin 4 – I left Brothers in Arms for some other hapless fool – all for the princely sum of a £1 each ($1.40).
Admittedly they weren’t exactly in the best of condition – I’d never heard of the Carol King song ‘You’ve Got A You’ve Got A You’ve Got A’ (repeat ad nauseum) – but even so, you’d probably end up paying anywhere between at least £5 – £10 each for those kind of titles from a record specialist store so it was a win win situation for me – my son got his vinyl and it hadn’t broken the bank. It got me thinking though. What records of mine would I definitely not want to see being offloaded in any of the numerous charity shops that now haunt the dilapidated high streets of many town centres?
So, in chronological release order, here is a list of the 10 albums in my collection that will have to be prised from my cold dead hands before I see them given away.
Elvis Presley – Rock and Roll His first album, released back in 1956 in the UK on the HMV label, the album comprises Sun recordings such as Blue Suede Shoes, That’s All Right, Mystery Train and Shake, Rattle and Roll. The sleeve notes by a certain Bob Dawbarn are eccentric to say the least. Described variously as a ‘jazz phenomenon’ – ?????? – ‘a second Marlon Brando’ with influences from Johnny Ray to Sister Rosetta Tharpe, it’s obvious he was difficult to pigeon-hole in those early days of rock and roll.
A great album which I bought from a young lady back in the 70s for a couple of quid ($2.80). A bargain at half the price. Original release copy listed on Ebay for about £100 – depending upon condition.
The Ronettes – Presenting the Fabulous… Another bargain I got from a disk jockey at a local disco in Margate – again back in the 1970s – for a fiver. What a great track listing – Be My Baby, Baby I Love You, Walking in the Rain, The Best Part of Breaking Up – all bona-fide Phil Spector wall of sound classics.
And let’s not forget the vision that was Veronica Bennett – or Roni Spector as she is best known. Keith Richards had an affair with the lovely Roni while she was still with Phil ‘Now Where Did I Leave That Gun?’ Spector. Judging by the size of that hairdo of hers I reckon she was keeping Keef’s stash safe for him. Original release copy listed on Ebay for between £10 – £15. The fools. They don’t know what they’ve got.
The Who – My Generation To be honest this isn’t one of my albums – it’s from my wife’s collection but somehow or other it’s ended up on my side of the room. She can have my Barry Manilow Greatest Hits in exchange.
The debut album from one of the most exciting UK groups to challenge the supremacy of The Beatles back in the 60s – you’ve got the title track as well as The Kids’ Are Alright, A Legal Matter and La-La-La-Lies.
I managed to catch them in their glory at Charlton Football club in 1976 just before Keith Moon joined the 32 club – it’s like the 27 club but you get extra years for really bad behavior – and I think my hearing is now almost back to normal. Original release copies available on Ebay for between £300 – £500. I just hope my wife never gets to read this.
Smokey Robinson and the Miracles – Going to a Go-Go If memory serves me correctly I bought this from a friend who was culling his record collection just before The Miracles had a hit in the charts with Tracks of My Tears – which happens to be one of the songs on this album along with Ooo Baby Baby and the title track.
It’s one of the very albums I can honestly say where every track – apart Going to a Go-Go – is very good. I seem to remember Elvis Costello covering one of the songs – From Head to Toes – from this album. On Ebay for about £25. Get it while stocks last. Classic Motown at its very best.
The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds So much has been written about this seminal 60s album that I won’t go over old ground – voted best album ever by Mojo, influencing The Beatles and their own seminal album Sgt. Peppers etc etc.
The music still stands up after all these years – God Only Knows, Wouldn’t It Be Nice, Caroline No, Here Today, Sloop John B and others, timeless classics all. However, it is very difficult to get hold of an original copy from 1966 as it actually didn’t sell that many copies back in the day. A truly original release in good condition is therefore worth a few bob.
My copy is also worth a bit. Although it’s a re-release from the 90s I managed to get both Brian Wilson and Tony Asher – the lyricist for eight of the songs on the album – to sign it for me. There’s a signed Brian Wilson copy up on Ebay priced at over £300. Definitely not one for the charity shop, at any price.
Sgt.Pepper / The White Album I couldn’t decide what Beatles album to choose for this article. Musically you could argue that there’s a brilliant single LP struggling to extricate itself from the double White Album – try sequencing Back in the USSR, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Dear Prudence, Birthday, Revolution 1, I Will, Helter Skelter, I’m So Tired, Blackbird, Happiness is a Warm Gun and Don’t Pass Me By if you don’t believe me – so I plumped for Sgt. Pepper first on the basis of it being the better of the two but the strange thing is there doesn’t seem to be much call even for original copies released in 1967.
There’s a first press version available on Ebay for £90 but standard original copies seem to go for around £50 to £60 at the most. The White Album however appears to be the more desirable of the two. This may have something to do with the fact that each original copy was numbered on the front so I guess the earlier the number the more it’s worth. The White Album – original copies – retail for anywhere between 150 to four hundred on Ebay.
The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers I think this was the very first Stones album I ever bought. The whole Andy Warhol cover art concept intrigued me I guess. It also intrigued the landlady of the flat I was staying in at Catford during my college days. She screamed the hallway down when I showed her the album then pulled the zipper down on the front cover.
I’m assuming she was thinking Jagger’s todger was part of the deal but alas for her Mick had obviously decided to keep it hidden that day. The 70s, for me anyway, saw the Stones at their best with Brown Sugar kicking off an album featuring other classics such as Dead Flowers, Wild Horses and Can’t You Hear Me Knocking.
And after all that we then got Exile On Main Street. If you’ve got an original copy in good condition you should be able to get around £50 to a £100 for it on Ebay.
Led Zeppelin 4 I always seemed to be missing the bus back in the 70s when it came to buying popular albums. Everyone bought Deep Purple in Rock – I got Fireball. Dark Side of the Moon resided in practically every hippy household back then – I bought Wish You Were Here.
Finally though, with Led Zeppelin I think I got it right. Admittedly everyone got Led Zep 2 and I bought 3 – I liked the pretty colours and the rotating disk on the front – but I then swapped the Best of the Beach Boys Volume 1 for Led Zeppelin 4 and my musical taste realigned itself. The guy even threw in a 45 of Whole Lotta Love – more on singles in a later article. T
his record is worth the price of admission just for Rock and Roll alone – but what a bonus with Stairway To Heaven and Black Dog on it as well. If you check on Ebay there seems to be a premium payable for original copies of the album that have a plum colored label so we’re talking £100 to £200 if it’s in good nick.
Neil Young – Time Fades Away This is going to hurt but I have to say I once had this album and I stupidly let a friend from work borrow it. Months later he dutifully returned the cover and the lyric sheet but the important bit – the black vinyl thing that came with it – was missing, probably ending up as an ashtray for the numerous joints liberally shared with his compatriots.
The thing is that this is the only Neil Young album that Neil Young himself didn’t want re-released on CD because it was so awful – a collection of songs recorded live during a number of coke and marijuana fuelled tours he embarked upon between 1971 to 1973. It therefore has a certain rarity value – I won’t list any of the songs because I can’t remember one that I vaguely liked – but if you check it out you’ll see original copies of the album listed for anywhere between £50 to £200 on Ebay. So, Steve Field, if you’re still out there, I want my album back.
Peter Cook and Dudley Moore – Derek and Clive This album doesn’t fetch much on Ebay, £18 at the most if you’re lucky. The reason I’m including it is because it brings out a sentimental streak in me for the old days when you used to lend your records out to friends – Steve Field excepted – then meet up and sing along to such classics as The Worst Job I Ever Had, In the Lav, Winkie Wanky Woo and that evergreen perennial, Jump.
I haven’t heard this album for many a year but I’m pretty sure I could still quote most of it verbatim. I remember reading an interview with Cook and Moore in Time Out when the album was first released. Peter Cook defended the use of all the bad language scattered across every track, saying that by constantly repeating such filth it would eventually desensitize the listener and at the same time push back the boundaries of comedy. Dudley Moore said he didn’t know about any of that bollocks – he just hoped his mum didn’t get to hear it.
Finally, just as a word of caution, if you ever decide to bequeath any of your record collection to your offspring, check on Ebay first that you’re not giving too much away. My son loves the Back to the Future movies so I gave him my vinyl soundtrack to the first film. My daughter scanned the barcode on the back of the sleeve and it turns out it’s on Ebay for 150 pounds. I really should start reading my own articles from now on.
Do you have any expensive vinyl albums lying around or maybe ones that you would just never give away or sell for any price? Let us know or comment below.
There is no doubt hundreds of albums that could be described as classics. This list is a guide to albums that have originally been released on vinyl during the period of the 70’s to the 90’s. The range of music is diverse from rock to ska, but they all share a similarity in that none of them have a ‘manufactured’ sound, they all contain ‘real’ lyrics and ‘real’ instruments!
They would be a respectable part of a record collection and if you already own them, they definitely deserve a dusting and should bring back some nostalgic memories:
1 L A Woman – The Doors
Lead singer of The Doors, Jim Morrison tragically passed away just three months after the release of the iconic ‘L A Woman’ album.
As well as the title track, it contains hits including ‘Love Her Madly’ and ‘Riders on the Storm’. Despite Jim not being at his vocal peak, the album has a very raw quality and the style is a combination of blues and The Doors’ inimitable mystical rock sound. If you like raw music with proper musical instruments, ‘L A Woman’ deserves a place in your collection!
2 Killer – Alice Cooper
Although he is largely recognised for the hits ‘School’s Out’ and ‘Poison’, shock-rocker Alice Cooper has released an impressive 26 albums – and that’s just the studio ones!
It is hard to pick out one from so many, but a recommendation is ‘Killer’. It is said to have inspired musicians such as John Lydon of Sex Pistols fame, and shows there is more depth to Alice that his amazing live showmanship.
Although the album (released back in ‘71 by The Alice Cooper Band) only contains 8 tracks, each one deserves a listen; particularly ‘Halo of Flies’ which is more progressive rock in style, and ‘Desperado’, which is rumoured to have been written as a tribute to Alice’s former drinking partner, fellow rocker Jim Morrison.
3 Divine Madness – Madness
Okay, so it is technically a compilation album, but nothing brings back memories of the early 80’s than a bit of ska by nutty boys Madness. ‘Divine Madness’ is aptly titled and features songs more memorable than Suggs’ pink suit and the ‘flying’ saxophonist in the ‘Baggy Trousers’ video! (Lee Thompson).
An impressive 22 tracks are on this album including ‘Baggy Trousers’, ‘My Girl’, ‘House of Fun’, ‘Wings of a Dove’ and ‘Night Boat to Cairo’.
4 Seven and the Ragged Tiger – Duran Duran
Duran Duran have released 14 albums and are still going strong today. The title of the ‘Seven and the Ragged Tiger’ album is actually a reference to ambition. The seven refers to the five members of the band and their two managers; the ragged tiger is a metaphor for chasing success – so now you know! ‘Seven and the Ragged Tiger’ is the band’s second album and contains hits ‘The Reflex’, ‘The Union of the Snake’ and the much underrated and underplayed ‘New Moon on Monday’.
5 Nevermind – Nirvana
Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ is undoubtedly an iconic, groundbreaking album which truly paved the way for the grunge scene. It has sold over 24 million copies globally and is very deep both musically and lyrically.
It contains many hits including ‘Come as you Are’. ‘Lithium’ and the unforgettable ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’.
6 Spiders – Space
There are many groups that have contributed to defining the 90’s, Oasis and Blur for example, but one band that tend to be overshadowed and deserve more recognition are Space.
Their first album ‘Spiders’ contains many hits such as ‘Neighbourhood’ and ‘Female of the Species’ (which has since been used in soundtracks including ‘Cold Feet’ and ‘Austin Powers – International Man of Mystery’.)
The album is unique musically, witty lyrically and even contains vocal samples of Jack Nicholson and an Ed Sullivan impersonator to add to the mood of the songs! Well worth an investment!
7 Different Class – Pulp
Similarly to Space, Pulp also had a knack of combining clever, witty lyrics on slightly taboo subjects with their own style of music. A lot of the songs on ‘Different Class’ tell stories and the hits include ‘Common People’ and ‘Disco 2000’.
The album is based around the theme of the British social class system, is saucy in places and contains the controversial ‘Sorted for E’s and Wizz’ – which is infact a very clever anti-drug song!
8 Jagged Little Pill – Alanis Morissette
Alternative rocker Alanis Morissette has sold 33 million copies of the Jagged Little Pill album, which can’t be bad! The album has also received an impressive 5 Grammy awards.
It is clear from some of the songs including ‘You Oughta Know’ that Alanis intelligently draws on some of her own personal experiences in the songs, sometimes showing raw passion and sometimes her softer side (in ‘Head over Feet’ for example). The album also contains the hits ‘Ironic’ and ‘Hand in my Pocket’. Author: Karen Hill