AMP: reviews of albums by Smoove & Turrell and Glass Animals

Posted on October 31st, 2016 by


Elpee: Crown Posada / Smoove & Turrell                            


Any group that likes funk, soul, big coats and football will always stand a good chance of getting a favourable review from me. Thing is, this lot could dress like Crewe fans listening to JLS and still have produced one of the best albums of the year in ‘Crown Posada’.

This is a bit like Nile Rodgers joining the cast of Jossies Giants, led by John Turrell’s  beautifully rich Michael MacDonald-on-20-Capstan-a-day vocals, and backed by a group with an ear for a hook bigger than those used on Wicked Tuna. This isn’t toe-tapping stuff. This is stuff that demands you get off your backside and head for the dancefloor.

There are several standout tracks on this, the band’s fourth album. From the brilliant ‘No point in trying’ to ‘Could have been a lady’ – a huge groove that takes ‘Blame it on the Boogie’ for a night out in the Bigg Market and leaves it there feeling sick up an alleyway. It’s a cover of a Hot Chocolate tune – but it doesn’t feel like it. Smoove & Turrell own this.

But the honour of bBest track for me though is ‘Glass’ – the torch song that ‘Fairytale of new York’ (a song I have always hated – dons tin hat) should have been. Just piano and voice. But what a piano, and what a voice.

It should be the law of the land that this album is stuck on, full blast, before anyone goes out on a Saturday night. But it’s far more than just a good-time set of songs. It’s grown up, blue collar (northern) soul and funk with depth – and it’s simply ace.


Elpee: To be a Human Being / Glass Animals          


2016 has been, personally, the year for disappointing follow up albums (I’m looking at you Mr. Ocean) but ‘How to Be a Human Being’ by Glass Animals is certainly an anomaly to this trend. The Oxford based indie rock quartet released their first album, ‘Zaba’, in 2014, dominated by jungle themes, it is a piece that takes you on a journey as you listen.

‘How to Be a Human Being’ is their second major work, and once again focus’ upon the theme of journeying. Instead of a literal voyage it explores the development of human characters and ultimately life. The true brilliance of their work comes from the ability to do this without the album feeling pretentious in any way whatsoever.

The album feels as if it is split into two halves, divided by the song ‘Cane Shuga’ and the interlude ‘Premade Sandwiches’. These are the two most unorthodox pieces on the album, they still both fit in spite of an admittedly jarring element to them. Either side of these sits the first half, a continuation of the hazy trippy style of ‘Zaba’; and the second, a gloomier prospect dominated by feedback heavy guitar.

Highlights of the album have to be ‘Youth’ and ‘Agnes’, both are packed full with beautiful layers of sound and feature the characteristic wavy sound associated with the band. Meanwhile tracks such as ‘Pork Soda’ have addictive baselines that rival those of ‘the XX’ on their debut album. Whilst ‘Mama’s Gun’ and ‘Poplar St’ bring a hypnotic tone due to the haunting vocals, that the tracks are heavy in.

If you are looking for something outside of a traditional music genre and the ever increasing comfort zone of pop music, then I would look no further than this fantastic album.



4Midable: Hull

Posted on October 29th, 2016 by


1. To Hull and back

Last Saturday was the first time I’d used the free official buses since they came into operation. But as I was travelling and selling on my tod then it made financial sense. Turning up three quarters of an hour early was good thinking as I sold plenty of issue 28 before Stokies boarded the 16 buses – and many thanks to those who did – at 10.30pm.

Luckily, I did know a lad who was travelling on coach 12 (easily the coolest bus on show, it has to be said) and he’s of a similar age and outlook on life, and so the two and a half hours flew before rocked up at a ground that I find slightly better than ours, especially on the fully-enclosed inside. It also helps that they have an away fans only bar, too right by the turnstiles, and so I could have a beer before selling for 90 minutes before the game. It also helps that despite not being in the most salubrious of areas, at least it has a community around it (and a park), so its easy to find a pub or chippie in walking distance of the away end.

We were back before 8pm, a stress-free journey, and using the buses is something I’ll definitely use in the not-too-distant future. Once again, Stoke leading the way…..

2. Bruno Martins Indi, Bruno Martins woooooaaaaahhhhh

No surprise that Allen, Shaqiri and Martins Indi were the three players who were given regular vocal homage by the 2,000 or so Stokies in attendance.

Whilst up against a team who look destined for the drop on this showing, BMI (baby) was simply imperious, and was I the only one who has seen hints of the legend that is Abdoulaye Faye in his last few performances? Whilst we’ve played what looks like the bottom two in our last two games, BMI has steadily built up a partnership with our skipper that looks very promising indeed.

We need to buy this lad. And on this showing we need this to be sorted as soon as possible, as bigger and wealthier fish may come sniffing.

3. Fame at last…..taken away

Little did I know when I took the picture here, any number of other folk would use it. No problem with that – we’re not precious about a pic taken on a crappy phone. I will be in future though…..


Some passed it off as their own (and we’re talking big companies and media outlets here) whilst some didn’t give us a namecheck. I won’t make the same mistake again – it will be copyrighted after the antics of some.

Thank you to those who contacted me and asked if they could use it. Standards, folks, standards. Well in!

4. Love Shaq

I reckon everyone who was there knew he’d score as soon as the ref blew the whistle for that free kick. Again, take the opposition out of the equation, Shaqiri was back in Man City at home last season form – and tellingly so were Arnie’s diagonal runs off the opposite flank. Perfectly timed, and met with the pinpoint precision that only the select few can produce.

Danny Murphy got it spectacularly wrong on MOTD; if he’d bother to check his facts, Shaq has turned up this season. Shame Murphy did on our screens last Saturday night.



4Midable: Sunderland at home

Posted on October 18th, 2016 by

4Midable: Sunderland at home

Almost a handful of things we noticed about Saturday’s (mis)match

1. Get your kit off

Let’s face it, we’ve had some shocking away kits in my lifetime. Some absolute dross. But rarely have I seen one as bad at Sunderland’s on Saturday.

Picture the scene: it’s a crunch game; second bottom against bottom; you’re bang up for this one; a game you can’t afford to lose; you spend the night in a 5 star hotel and have a great team meeting – you can’t wait for the game; you travel by coach to the BET365 and are welcomed by your supporters as you depart the coach; and then you enter the changing room and see what’s laid out in front of you…..

It must be pretty difficult to get focussed on a game in an environment akin to an explosion at Max Factor’s headquarters, and then walking out of the tunnel dressed like a packet of Refreshers.

Sunderland’s team were dreadful. Their kit is beyond that.

2. Love Shaq

There are some who felt he was poor Saturday. Hopefully, he’ll be equally poor against Hull and have a major hand in two more goals. Not forgetting the one against West Brom. Whilst I’d still like to see our wide players switch flanks every now and again (to go past their man on the outside) both Arnie and Shaq offer loads to us and really open the pitch out when they cut inside.


Shaq has looked decent in our last two home games, and by having the mobile Geoff Cameron as a shielder and him being able to get to Shaq’s vacated space quickly,  it gives our Swiss international more of the floating role he seems to enjoy.

3. The Cameron never lies

Whilst Joe Allen rightly got the plaudits, the column inches and the headlines, it was Geoff Cameron who was the heartbeat of the team on Saturday and was my star man.

He broke tons of their stuff up and was excellent in possession. In a must-win game, you need to win the midfield battle. Geoff Cameron did that for us. Whilst I felt Glenn Whelan was nowhere near his best, especially in possession, alongside him Cameron used his undoubted athleticism to get around the pitch to great effect, but also showed superb positional sense, too.

It was no coincidence that our weakest part of the 90 minutes came when we shifted him away from the midfield he was bossing, when Phil Bardsley went off. Geoff Cameron is a shielding midfielder for me,  and showed that Saturday. It was also interesting to see he looked like he’d shaken off any niggles he might have had previously, too. Do we sometimes forget the likes of Cameron play international football several time zones away from ST4 and it’s pretty hard to fly back from the other side of the world a day or so before a game?

4. Well within (Bruce Hornsby and the) range


….and you know it’s an ace day when they play seminal end-of-the-night-at-Shelleys classic ‘The way it is’ at half-time. Well in, whoever made that choice at Stoke.



Darts for Donna Louise Exhibition Match PART 2 ‘Ally Pally Style’ 2016

Posted on October 13th, 2016 by

dartsDarts for Donna Louise Exhibition Match PART 2 ‘Ally Pally Style’ 2016

We all know that Stoke is the World Capital of Darts. No need to even think of arguing with that. It’s a fact.

And we all know that the Donna Louise Children’s Hospice does wonders for the people of this area and it’s full of saints and angels. Again, a fact. Put the two together, and you get a great night’s entertainment PLUS your money will be going to the most brilliant of causes.

After an overwhelming success in 2015, which saw 4 of the world’s top Darts players return to the Kings Hall after 10 years, the ‘Ally Pally style’ evening will return for more 180’s!

DUCK are proud to publicise this in any way we can – we want a full house there, and details are below. It’s next week. Get cracking!


Tickets for the Darts For Donna Louise Exhibition Match, PART II, in partnership with the PDC on Tuesday October 18 are available NOW!

Tickets will cost £35 per person for floor table seats and £20 per person for balcony unreserved seating.

Tickets can be purchased from 1 June through the following methods:

A limited number of VIP Packages and Sponsorship Packages are also available by contacting Chelsey Farmer at the Donna Louise Children’s Hospice on 01782 654444.

If you are local business interested in becoming a sponsor of the event, please contact Chelsey Farmer.

This year’s event is being kindly sponsored by Sabit Ltd, Security Plus Ltd and Phoenix Gas Services Ltd




DUCK 28 out next week – Ricardo & Mama interview pt2

Posted on October 5th, 2016 by

DUCK 28 out next week – featuring the Ricardo & Mama interview pt2


Like the Renegade Master, or er, Bros, we’re back again.

And it’s the best ever issue of DUCK, in our humble/worthless opinion.

Why? well as well as shedloads of ace stuff sent in by you, our lovely readership, we have a dynamite part 2 of the Ricardo and Mama interview.

They talk about the highs and lows of their time at Stoke City……and with Ric about, there are a few lively stories to be told.

Here are a selection of bits and bobs from the interview…..


“That night, Pulis fired us up by creating this siege mentality……… against our supporters! He basically said ‘forget that lot out there we don’t need them tonight. It’s about you – the squad and the players on the pitch. Go out here and do it for yourselves and each other – it just you against the world because no one, not even our fans expect us to do anything. Go out there and show them what you are all about.’

“I left the pitch in just my socks! I was mobbed and the whole place just erupted! I could hardly breathe at times – the fans were crazy.”

” If you smashed me in the face I would smash you back harder, but Mama – if you hit him with a steel hammer 20 times he probably wouldn’t feel the need to retaliate! ”


But, honestly, I would not be happy if I’d scored and played poorly. I always judged myself on performances and helping the team.

“I found that I’d arrive at these big famous grounds like Old Trafford for the first time ever and I would be intimidated thinking ‘Wow… I’m playing here!’ You feel so impressed it affects the mind a bit.”

” I felt lucky. What, after playing for Mali in the African Nations Cup – my arm injury and all the violence – life here really offers nothing to worry about does it?