Liverpool’s form slump? A Harsh Reality Or Media Hype?

A lot has been made of Liverpool’s recent “form slump” in the Premier League. Apparently, the “slump” has been going on for most of January if you read the newspapers. The reds are, as we are led to believe, collapsing under the pressure of a title race with their more favored challengers from Manchester. Not being one to listen to hype, I decided to have a quick comparison of both, City’s and Liverpool’s form guide going back to mid December and the results paint a much different picture to what the media will have us all believe.

The solid 3-0 victory over Bournemouth yesterday went a long way to answering the critics with a final score that flattered Bournemouth. Almost instantly, media pundits began installing Liverpool back in the box seat as we move through February.

Over the past 11 matches, Liverpool have collected 29 points from a possible 33. During the same period, City have amassed just 21 points. that’s a whopping 8 points less than Liverpool. The reds have also scored a healthy 29 goals over the eleven matches which is 6 more than City. More than that, City have shipped 13 goals to Liverpool’s 9. In both attack and defense, Liverpool have the wood over City yet the media would leave you to believe that the Reds are on the slide in the race to the title? Fascinating.

Of course we pick and chose statistics that lend weight to an argument yet, even over the past 5 matches since Liverpool lost 1-2 at The Etihad, they have still only collected one point less than City. Hardly the sign of a team caving into the pressure of a title race is it?

As I write, Liverpool sit 3 points ahead of City with just twelve games to go. Neither side is looking anything like bottling it. Still, it won’t stop the media from sending us into a spin with knee jerk reactions when Liverpool drop points along the way. The only thing this can achieve is extra sales and ratings on talk-back radio. The Reds are alright and, in all likelihood, the Reds are also going to win the league so keep calm, enjoy the ride and most of all, don’t go into meltdown over the odd dropped point here and there.

Liverpool resume Champions League hostilities in just over a week and then head to Old Trafford to for a massive test against an in form United. Victory there will potentially go a long way to securing the title. In the meantime, here’s hoping Chelsea can do us all a favor and give City a crushing defeat later today at The Etihad and make our run towards the title a little easier.

Liverpool’s unlikely ally as the supporters lose their marbles.

Two draws. Four points dropped. More importantly, still 3 points clear at the top of the league with 13 matches still to play. That’s the end result from another frustrating night from the red men who still remain undefeated aside from the loss to Manchester City at the turn of the year. On a positive note, Liverpool are still winning over new fans, including, West Ham cult figure, Mark Noble who sent out a timely reminder to Liverpool’s supporters following the 1-1 draw at The London Stadium.

“They have such a good chance. The fans have got to stick by them though. You need to stick together. They have a fantastic squad and a world class manager. It would be fantastic for Liverpool if they could win it.”

It’s a sentiment one can only echo.

This is a fantastic Liverpool squad. This is a fantastic opportunity. Most of all, this is a time when all Liverpool supporters need to remain solid and focussed on the task ahead.

Think back to earlier in the season when City missed a massive penalty at Anfield in the dying embers of a goalless draw. Think back to December when City were rattled at home and defeated by Crystal Palace. Think back to only last week when Newcastle did what nobody imagine and took all three points off City at home.

That’s 8 points dropped that City probably should have gained. But, that’s football.

If those results had planned out they way they should have, the top of the table would have looked something like this.

Manchester City 67 points

Liverpool 61 points

Now, imagine if the late and somewhat lucky winner had not have come against Everton in December. There’s two points dropped. Now, what if Mane’s goal last night had been chalked off and the side went on to lose 1-0. Another point dropped. And Daniel Sturridge’s world class strike at Stamford Bridge back in late September? Remember that? Any other day and that doesn’t go in. Another point dropped. Four points dropped from those games alone. The table, had these matches finished differently would have resembled something akin to this.

Manchester City 67 points

Liverpool 57 points

Tottenham 57 points

Think about that scenario for a moment. Title race well and truly over.

In the panic of a frustrating draw, it’s east to forget that Liverpool have enjoyed some incredible luck so far this season. A form slump isn’t enjoyable but it is expected. What’s important from here on in is that the supporters remain focussed and stick behind the team. Unloading on the manager and players in the coming days, weeks and months isn’t the answer. Never has been and it never will be in times such as these.

So far this season, the red men have encountered some incredible luck on the journey back to the summit of English football so why should we, the supporters, let it end now? After all, do I need to remind you of a famous Bill Shankly quote about supporting Liverpool FC? Right, thought not.

David Bowie: The Bitter Sweet Taste Of A New Release

Parlophone Records have decided to cobble some some previously unreleased Bowie gems from the archive and release them to the wider community on April 5th. The only problem is that not everyone will have access to these songs unless they download them illegally or stream illegal versions on YouTube. That’s the prospect facing Bowie fans ahead of the release that is, “Spying Through A Keyhole”.

Naturally, I greeted this news with some trepidation back on January 8th because I knew straight away that the way of this release was going to cause concerns. Firstly, the nine tracks are being issued as part of a 4 X 7″ single box set with retail prices set around the £40 mark before postage. At this point in time, there is no plan to issue the tracks digitally in the foreseeable future leaving fans without access to a turntable no chance of enjoying these long hidden gems unless they download low quality versions online in the days after the release. Then there is the issue of money.

Speaking with a fellow collector this morning, I noted that he had already pre-ordered no less than 15 copies of the “Spying Through A Keyhole” box from various sources with plans to on-sell them at a slightly inflated price online to make some pocket money in the process. Even if he makes £10 a box, that’s a handsome profit of £150. Nice work if you can get it. He’s done this with multiple Bowie release in recent years, making some healthy profits along the way. Good luck to him I say. With almost all online retailers sold out of “Spying Through A Keyhole”, collectors the world over are going to clamor hard for their own copies and pay a hefty price in the process.

And there in lays the issue with Parlophone Records and the Bowie estate at large.

Whoever is in charge of signing off on and releasing these Bowie collectibles probably hasn’t got much of a clue as to what they are doing. Chances are, they don’t even care. There have been so many coloured vinyl pressings released since his death that it is all starting to wear a bit thin on some. I mean, take the spate of “Hours” vinyl releases for example. How many different shades of coloured vinyl do we need to own of “Hours” in already? There seems to be an increasing number of vinyl pressings being dredged up to keep us all interested. But for how much longer?

Same old thing, in brand new drag!

Once upon a time, I loved collecting Bowie on vinyl. To an extent, i still do and will probably continue to do so in some fashion for many years to come. There is one pressing issue that remains for me. Quality over quantity. Don’t get me wrong, “Spying Through The Keyhole” will be great to hear when it eventually lands. If I don’t manage to find a physical copy, i’ll just download it and listen that way. There’s just so much Bowie product flooding the market right now that even some of us long term collectors are struggling to keep up with the flood of releases. It’s almost becoming a part time job just to keep track of it all. What’s more, it’s almost at a point where some collectors are needing a second job just to pay for the pleasure. Far to often though, we are having the same old material dressed up and repackaged for consumer consumption. To be honest, it’s all beginning to grow a little tiring.

“Spying Through A Keyhole” should be an exciting release for all Bowie fans. Not just those quick off the mark and with money to burn. A logical common sense approach would have been to package the songs in digital format and on CD to cater to the wider Bowie fan base. Then again, Bowie’s people rarely seem to think these releases out with any common sense.

It’s a bitter sweet taste buying Bowie merchandise in 2019. For those of you interested in hunting down a copy of “Spying Through A Keyhole”, you can do so, should you find an online retailer still taking pre-orders. The track listing is as follows……

Single 1
Side 1
Mother Grey (demo)
Side 2
In The Heat Of The Morning (demo)

Single 2
Side 1
Goodbye 3d (Threepenny) Joe (demo)
Side 2
Love All Around (demo)

Single 3
Side 1
London Bye, Ta-Ta (demo)
Side 2
Angel Angel Grubby Face (demo version 1)

Single 4
Side 1
1.Angel Angel Grubby Face (demo version 2) 
2. Space Oddity (demo excerpt)
Side 2
Space Oddity (demo) with John ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson

Liverpool Edge Another Step Closer Despite Dropping Points

Liverpool have Moved another step nearer to breaking the drought and placed one hand on the trophy following a dramatic 24 hours in the title race with Manchester City. No side has been sitting on 61 points after 24 games and not won the Premier League. Then again, no side sitting on 61 points has had Manchester City on their coat tails. That’s exactly why Manchester City’s dropping of 3 points at Newcastle was just as important as the Reds lacklustre draw with Leicester City. It’s created a slightly more comfortable 5 point gap at the top and now ensures City have to bridge a bigger gap than they would have liked at the start of the week.

So what do Liverpool need from here?

Should City go on a 14 match winning streak, they would finish the season on 98 points. This alone places Liverpool in a hunt for just 38 points from their remaining 42 available to be assured of the title. In all likelihood, both sides will drop points again before May comes into sight.

By rights, City should be within 2 points of the leaders and will rue their missed opportunity in the north east this week. Liverpool on the other hand should consider themselves incredibly lucky after failing to defeat Leicester at home. The longer the season rolls on without City bridging the gap, the greater the pressure will build. Even a Guardiola side must feel the pressure of chasing a side as consistently on top of things as Liverpool are at this point in time.

So when will Liverpool be safe?

Jurgen Klopp has added resolve and steel to the defence this season. One can’t assume safety and feel confident to place both hands on the trophy until it’s mathematically impossible to be run down. With this in mind though, its hard to see this Liverpool side slipping up too much in the run home. In all probability, the red men could lose three games and still hang on so the longer they continue without a loss, the more likely it will be that they will stay top from here on in. Manchester City have a tricky run of fixtures coming with Arsenal (H), Everton (A) and Chelsea (H) laying in wait so the next two to three weeks could be pivotal. Following that, they only face United and Spurs in their final 11 games. They also face a cup final at Wembley and a run in the FA Cup.

This is one thing we have learnt from past experiences. Most notably during the 2013/14 campaign when our Reds let a 5 point lead slip with just the three games to. There are, of course, a handful of other experiences where the league leaders have bottled things in the home straight.

You only have to wind back the clock a couple of seasons before that to find a rampant Manchester City being able to close an 8 point gap with United in the final 6 games of the season. Arsenal led the title race by 5 points as Valentines Day rolled around in 2008 yet, they we comfortably run down by both Chelsea and Manchester United. Five years before that, Arsenal again had an 8 point gap at the top in March and were still run down by Manchester United.

The greatest calamity of modern times can easily be found all the way back in the 1995/96 campaign. It’s here that you would have found a Kevin Keegan inspired Newcastle United surging clear of the chasing pack by 12 points in January. Unfortunately for the Magpies, they only took 17 points from their final ten matches and finished 4 points behind a United side that won 15 of their last 18 matches. If only they had been able to hold their nerve.

If Liverpool hold themselves together and keep doing what they have been doing so well all season, then it’s very likely that they will, in fact, be crowned champions in May. You couldn’t imagine Jurgen Klopp dropping his bundle from this position so it’s up to Manchester City to go on one hell of an incredible run from here to catch the league leaders. If City do in fact run Liverpool down, one could only dip their hat to such a magnificent achievement. Here’s hoping I won’t be dipping my hat come May.

Triple J: Ridding Themselves Of The Trash!

Not many people know this, but, Triple J’s flagship music poll, “The Hottest 100” actually began life not on Australia Day, but March 5th. The year was 1989 and the poll was a vote for the 100 greatest songs of all time. Joy Division ran away with the number one spot in that first year with “Love Will Tear Us Apart”. Still, one of the most beautiful songs ever recorded. The song also won top spot in 1990 before Nirvana reached the summit in 1991 with “Smells Like Teen Spirit”.

Many recent converts to Triple J have the impression that the countdown has always played out on Australia Day (January 26) but sadly, most of these listeners don’t really know their history. The very first countdown held on January 26th wasn’t until 1998. That’s almost 10 years after the concept was born. In 2004, it moved to January 25 where no fuss was made by those who seem so outraged by the same move today. Sadly, in recent years, the “Hottest 100” has been overrun by a more mainstream public. You know the type yeah? Those who would normally listen to Nova or Triple M for the other 364 days of the year but love jumping on the bandwagon to make themselves appear cool.

For those of you you still too incredibly stupid to understand why Triple J changed the date from Australia Day, here’s a little wake up call.

Triple J has never been a mainstream radio station. From day dot, the station stood up for minority groups and aimed its music at, how shall I say this? An alternative crowd. Now, some of you might be puzzled as to what that means exactly. Let me explain. Alternative music is exactly that, an alternative to the mainstream. You know, the shite people listen to on commercial radio. It’s why I am baffled by accusations from some quarters that Triple J is pandering to the “leftards” and “greeny rainbow flag wavers” over their moving of “The Hottest 100” from Australia Day.

Triple J have taken a stand and said enough is enough! They held a poll where more than 60% of voters decided that the countdown should no longer be held on January 26. The listeners have spoken and the station followed suit. The most beautiful thing about the move is that it may rid Triple J from all the fools who seem completely incapable of understanding what the station is about or what they have stood for over the past four decades. The station is taking a stand with our indigenous communities. For this, they must be applauded.

I’ve not been an avid fan of Triple J for a number of years however, this fantastic decision to move “The Hottest 100” from Australia Day may be enough to sway an old fan back to a once mighty and powerful radio station. And who knows? The “J’s” may yet regain lost credibility with more decisions just like this.

Well in Triple J. Well in!

Liverpool Drop The Ball (again)

Cast your minds back to May 26 2005. Liverpool FC have just returned from Istanbul as champions of Europe following the impossible. Hundreds of thousands of supporters have gathered in and around the city to welcome home their heroes. Many of these supporters head to Anfield looking to celebrate by picking up some memorabilia. There’s only one small problem. The club shop is closed and will remain closed for the whole of Thursday.

Opportunity missed.

Fast forward to May 14 2012. Manchester City have just collected the Premier League title in dramatic fashion following to stoppage time goals deep into stoppage time against QPR. What’s more, they snatched the title from the clutches of Manchester United. Their rivals. It doesn’t get much sweeter than that does it? I was in Swansea watching a Brendan Rodgers Swansea City dispose of the red men 1-0. The drive home to Merseyside is blissful to an extent as we listen to BBC 5 Live to hear all about City’s dramatic title victory. They did it in “Fergie time” one jubilant City explains on the radio phone in. Oh, how we laughed!

The next day, I jumped on a train up to Manchester to watch their victory parade and do a spot of shopping for some new trainers. As the blue half of Manchester turn out to celebrate, I pop into their club shop in town to buy some memorabilia for an ex-pat City friend now living in Oz. He’ll be a happy man when he sees what I have grabbed for him.

We’ve been told how Liverpool store staff were all flown out to Istanbul to watch the miracle unfold and that was the reason why the club shop was unable to be open for business the day after. It was typical of the Liverpool that had been left heavily in the wake of Manchester United for the previous decade and a half. Six years prior, United’s club store was open the day after their dramatic European Cup victory in Barcelona. The club had offered staff triple pay to entice staff in. Good business sense and part of the reason why United trounced all over everyone else in the commercial sense for so many years. I hate having to admit that. Bastards!

Recently, I was informed that the Liverpool online store were running low on home and away kits. It’s mid January and the team are top of the league and looking good. You would think they would be keen to replenish stock of the New Balance kits rain, hail or shine. Think again.

No stock will be coming in between now and the end of the season. That’s another four long months where supporters won’t be able to buy a home shirt (unless you want a long sleeve XXL) or any away kits full stop. Imagine if we win the league and supporters want to grab a souvenir kit to remember the season by? Well, stuff shit because the club, our owners (FSG) and New Balance have no plans to replenish stock.

The New Balance deal runs out in 18 months and many in the know suggest a new kit deal will be struck with either Nike or Adidas over the coming months if New Balance refuse to match what the club are asking for. The current deal is worth £45 MILLION per season. A new deal with any potential new supplier would be worth £75 MILLION or more. For the time being, the club will, once more have to live with the knowledge they have failed miserably to capitalise on a potential financial windfall and delivering a product to supporters that should not be sold out by mid January.

One can only hope that Liverpool Football club stores in Chester, the city centre and of course, at the Anfield will be open for business on Monday 13 May 2019 if the club manages to clinch their first league title in almost three very long decades. And if they have to offer staff financial incentives to ensure the stores are open then let’s hope they manage it!

The Bowie Concert Tape Files: New Boston Garden Arena, Boston, MA – 17 March 1976

As Bowie’s 1976 “Isolar Tour” rolled into Boston for the seventh last show of the US leg, the band and its singer had been on the road for six weeks playing almost, on a nightly basis and were sounding incredibly tight on all fronts. The thin white duke was delivering some beautiful renditions from the new studio album, Station To Station. This set in Boston was pulsating from the get go. Full of energy which excited the crowd no end.

As always, the show opened with a blistering version of “Station To Station” accompanied by some vicious guitar work from all involved. I imaged those who were these would have been blown into another universe on this night. Even Bowie seemed quite chipper for the experience. He wasn’t his usual cold and aloof self as his could be on many nights of the tour. The sound of the entire concert is well up there as far as concert tape recordings go. There have been a few to emerge over the years and this one is, by far and away, the best of the lot. I’d even go as far as suggesting it is one of the best of the entire tour. And that is saying something considering how many brilliant shows that have emerged from this tour.

One of my personal favorites from this tour was Bowie’s rendition of The Velvet Underground’s “Waiting For The Man” which is easily the best version he has ever played live. It’s another of the songs from the tour that just comes alive on stage with a vibrant bass and lead guitar. As to is “Panic In Detroit” When I was younger, much younger in fact, I felt the David Live version that failed to make the initial live LP release but made it onto a 7″ single in some territories as the B-Side to “Knock On Wood” was the superior live version. That all changed a few years later when I began to get 1976 tour bootlegs. The first was the Nassau show complete with the full drum solo. Sadly, the drum solo was deleted from the official release of the tour album in 2010. Typical of Bowie’s people right? Well, thankfully for you and I, it’s there in all its glory for those of us who have tour bootlegs from 1976. Ain’t that a good thing? And thank you Dennis Davis for providing such a magnificent feature to the live Bowie line up. May he rest in peace.

The shows from this tour were generally just 15 or so songs long. It would have been nice to see the concerts padded out a little more with perhaps two to three extra numbers but as was the case with Bowie shows in the 1970’s, you took what you could get and embraced his “less is more” approach to touring at the time. One mustn’t forget that, at the time, Bowie was about to embark on his first UK tour since the final Ziggy show ended in July 1973 so the fans had been greatly starved of their hero. He’d toured the Diamond Dogs Tour extensively through the USA and nowhere else. By the time he would reach England in May, his look and stage show would have changed dramatically for many of his fans.

There is a slight cut during the intro to “Changes” during this recording. The only real floor on the entire recording. Presumably due to a tape change by the recorder. Not too much is missed which is great. The recorder managed to get a good spec and capture a great sound. It’s a bootleg that I could listen to over and over and over again.

One of the many highlights is the animated introduction Bowie gives to “TVC 15”. He seems quite proud of the song during the entirety of the tour and feeds of the crowds regular and mutual respect for the song. It’s another Bowie classic that takes on a whole new life on the stage thanks to his constantly brilliant rhythm section who, for the best part of the 70’s delivered every time. As many of your know by now, this 1976 tour is hands down my favorite Bowie tour of all time. It’s a surprising choice considering that I have never been in favor of his repetition during live tours but the sound and visuals from this tour were never equaled or bettered in my humble opinion. I’m sure some of you will agree to disagree on the matter which always makes for fab discussions among us crazy fans.

If you get the opportunity to get your hands on this concert, I am sure it will soon become one of your more desired recordings from the tour as much as it is mine. This is Bowie in electrifying form from start to finish with zero let up in between.

SET LIST

Station To Station/Sufragette City/Fame/Word On A Wing/Stay/Waiting For The Man/Queen Bitch/Life On Mars?/Five Years/Panic In Detroit/Band Introduction/Changes/TVC 15/Diamond Dogs/Rebel Rebel/The Jean Genie