Wednesday, 13 February 2019

The 12 inch Vinyl Revival and introducing CAPTAIN STOMP RECORDS.

The 12-inch Vinyl Revival and introducing CAPTAIN STOMP RECORDS.

We all have fond memories of vinyl records, most of us over 50 grew up with them playing a major part in our young adult lives. Then, with the advent of the Compact Disc, vinyl died a quick death with little or no fanfare. The presses shut down and suddenly there was more room in the record shops. Maybe it was the convenience, the mobility or the fact that some vinyl records near the end were pressed so low grade that they scratched on the first play. Either way, it can’t be denied it was a technological advancement in both application and hardware that killed off vinyl records late in the early 1990s.
Move on a few more years and the CD was under threat from the MP3 player, a more compressed file that meant new devices like iPods could hold thousands of hours of music on something you could hide in your pocket. The whole face of music changed. People stopped buying CD’s and started downloading music. Radio stations had less and less influence on what people listened to and the once popular record shops started disappearing from the local shopping centres and strip shops.

But never underestimate nostalgia.

A few years back vinyl started to make a comeback. There were the justified reasons that compressed files didn’t give a true fidelity, which was true in the case of MP3’s. Articles started to appear about how vinyl had a warmer, fuller sound and that was how music was meant to be listened to. Soon vinyl was back to matching CD’s in sales, with downloads still miles in front.
Myself, I still think CD's give great sound if they are WAV. or FLAC. files (sorry for the audiophile gibberish) but my biggest bugbear was that I couldn’t hold those twelve-inch covers with all that marvelous artwork and readable text. (But I’m old, young people see better than me).
These days many artists, especially independent ones are releasing vinyl again as part of their recorded product ranges, with many older bands rereleasing their back catalogues. Even the young music fans are buying vinyl again, thanks to initiatives like Record Store Day and because vinyl hasn’t stayed the same, it learned from its mistakes. Where old pressings prior to the 1990s where thin and cheap, today’s are a whopping 180 gram * (think the same as your grandma’s old 78 records) and the printing quality has improved substantially. 
 Vinyl records are trendy again.
So when I discovered the opening of an independent record shop specializing in new vinyl in Knox, I was straight down there to check it out.
David Thompson Owner of Captain Stomp
Captain Stomp Records is the longtime dream and passion of owner David Thompson. Having worked in Financial Services for over 30 years David laid down the plans for his own record shop in 2015, but it took until  2018 to open a physical shop exactly where and how he wanted. In the process starting up a web-based store as he searched for the right location and researched suppliers and getting the shop design perfect.
Opening in July 2018 Captain Stomp Records is located at 46 Forest Road Ferntree Gully just down from the cemetery. Unlike record shops of old that were cave-like, dark cramp places with walls covered in posters of latest releases and pop stars. Captain Stomp is a bright airy store with rows of neatly placed bins full of new vinyl records covering all genres and artists. The white walls are covered in music related paintings and prints as well as a fireplace and comfy chairs.
The rather forceful name Captain Stomp belies the peaceful atmosphere the shop conveys and is the result of David not being able to secure his first preference Captain Fantastic an album by one of his favourite artists Elton John.

David’s passion for music has been carried on from his childhood where his local record store Stylus in Heathmont fed a desire that led to opening his own shop in retirement. He believes that in time, the shop can even become a hub for all music aficionados to meet and find enjoyment in a common love. I honestly believe this having gone back several times and seeing David give a lot of his time talking with customers about all genres of music with enthusiasm and patience.
The store, besides carrying a massive range for all musical tastes also has available mid price record players, protective sleeves and frames to surround your favourite album cover art.
It's great to see stores like Captain Stomp appear locally and offer an alternative to JB HiFi, I like to compare Captain Stomp Records to a good bookstore, where you can browse the aisles and wonder if I can judge this book (album) by its cover?
A great place to rediscover some old memories or start some brand new ones.


*180 gram vinyl records are stronger and more durable, so they tend to last longer and resist breakage. ... Heavier vinyl provides a more stable platform for both stylus and cantilever suspension providing extra protection from unwanted vibration that can cause sound degradation at the micro-level.
Related article: Fist2Face Record Store Day Memories.

This article originally published in the BBCN Issue 171 Feb 2019

Thursday, 7 February 2019


An article I wrote after the fires devasted the state in which I lived during February 2009.

Originally published in the BBCN May 2009

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Carlos Angeli Art to Sculpture and back again

Carlos Angeli Art to Sculpture and back again

Argentinian artist Carlos Angeli is drawing and designing a steampunk themed comic script I wrote from a short story (which can be seen here) Carlos is full of surprises and when he sent me these sculptures as a reference to his character design I was blown away.
The comic itself is a work in progress and hopefully will see the light of day in the not so distant future.

Friday, 21 December 2018

Record Store Day- In memory of Fist2Face

Record Store Day- In memory of Fist2Face

 In issue 192 (August 2011) of the BBCN I wrote an article about vinyl records and said: though they are considered old technology, there is still a place in the hearts of those who deem them priceless gems and digital music the work of something sinister. I made it clear that everything has its place and whilst vinyl is a tangible medium with lots of positives, I’ll never get a record player in my car or have 1000 albums at my choosing to listen to when taking a walk around the park.
Having said that...
Every year on the third Saturday of April vinyl lovers around the world rejoice, because since 2008 that day has become Record Store Day, an international celebration of small independent record stores and labels (sometimes they are the same thing) to promote the fact that there still are stores that sell music, and not just as a sideline in a big chain store.
With the development and mass acceptance of digital music and downloads there needed to be a way to announce that there was a more tangible alternative. I believe tangible is the key word here, many of us oldies must remember listening to a record, cassette or CD and holding the cover studying the artwork and trying to memorize the lyrics. I still remember the joy of going to places like Brashes and just slowing flipping through the countless rows of twelve inch records hoping to find something new to show off to your friends. Fair enough you can still do this in JB HiFi these days but they pack them in so tight you have to pull each CD out individually to see them. Not that I’m “dissing JB, I love the place, where else would I be able to buy all my “Old Fart” music cheaply. Record Day has proven to be quite successful and has been embraced by labels and artists alike and there are usually a large selection of current and re-releases in vinyl by new and old bands alike to help promote and celebrate. So on the 20th April this year my son and I made our way to the local “Indy store” to celebrate Record Store Day.
Situated opposite the old Fire Station on Maroondah Hwy in Ringwood is a rather unimposing shop front with the more imposing name of Fist2Face. Drive past and blink and you’ve missed it. But good things come in subtle packaging. Step inside the door and what you have is a cramped area no more than six metres by three metres covered like all good record stores should with posters and T Shirts and racks of music. Because it was Record Store Day, a new bin was constructed with freshly wrapped vinyl offerings. Put 10 people in this store and it gets hard to move around but that adds to the appeal. Where else can a 50 year old man strike up a conversation with a twenty something about the history of punk bands in Melbourne? The intimacy brings likeminded people together. And that is the beauty of Fist2Face, it caters for music lovers on all levels. Through the door of the little shop is a larger storage area where all kinds of CDs, vinyl, T-Shirts, posters basically anything to do with bands are sold over the internet. This is how smaller record stores battle digital downloads, they sell merchandise that gives the music its identity. By using this technology it also is an outlet for ticket sales to concerts for touring international and local bands alike. It gets more interesting because next to the shop front is a high gate covered with tin because the store is next door to an Auto accessory, one could be easily mistaken to think it is connected to that shop, but no. This opens up to a large forecourt with a small stage. So on special occasions like Record Store Day bands perform to help promote themselves and the occasion. On this day nine bands were scheduled to play. Beyond that is another gate that links back to storeroom and another room this one semi-soundproofed for local bands to practice in, which is how I came to know of Fist2Face in the first place through my son’s band. Gez, the owner is a devoted music lover and a musician himself and shares his love of music and in the past has hired young people connected with the VET audio/visual course.
Fist2Face is everything I wanted in a record store when I was growing up, now with record shops becoming rarer as years stream roll on it’s great to find something that sparks the love of music in me. I look forward to next year to see what new and exciting things I can rediscover.

Originally printed in the BBCN Issue 212 June 2013

Saturday, 1 December 2018



A great read.
The Mustard humour magazine did this a few years ago and Alan Moore goes into great detail about writing, drugs and movies made of his comics.
A good read for a lazy day for the tablet or PC.
 Alan Moore Mustard Interview

Thursday, 1 November 2018

From little things big things grow- The Chandler Tree.

From little things big things grow- The Chandler Tree.

The Chandler Oak Winter 2013
Tucked away in the far corners of Knox council, lies the Basin, one of the first areas settled in the area and still the most rural and unaffected by mass progress. It was here that some great names of Australia and local history settled. James Griffith of Griffith Brothers Tea, JJ Miller creator of Millers Guide the horse racing and sporting bible and notably the Chandler family; who for generations were instrumental in building up the district with their business, community service and patronage.
Over the years the Chandler family’s achievements were many. In 1873 William Chandler, his wife Katie and their three children moved to the area. Leaving William’s Fathers successful nursery in Malvern to clear 40 acres to establish his own farm. Legend has it that he and his wife planted an acorn that grew into the heritage listed English Oak that stands outside the boundary fence of the family property “Como” on Sheffield road. As the oak grew and spread upward so did the Chandler family.
William and Katie had 11 children all up, 8 boys and 3 girls. With the expanding family came growing success. William would buy more land in the area and become a foundation councilor of the Ferntree Gully shire. Totaling three inherited traits that would follow on through the generations. Horticulture, civic duty and land speculation. William made his children work hard with the expectation that they would acquire property and economic support when they left home. The Parents certainly instilled a fine work ethic in their children. Most successful was Alfred who established his own nursery Everson, which stills continues in name today. He grew daffodils and boronia, abandoning the boronia after it was susceptible to disease. He also became a councilor and eventually was given the honour of naming his own suburb: Boronia after the flower he tried to unsuccessfully grow. He was offered to name the suburb after himself but declined.
Alfred took his political aspirations one step further and joined the Legislative Council and became a Minister in the State Government. He had the Chandler highway named after him which also involves him in a World Record as it is the shortest Highway in the world and has remained so for decades.
William and Katie Chandler dynasty builders

Alfred was a committed community man. He donated land for the Boronia Progress Hall and the Methodist Church. He was a justice of the peace and a member of the Bayswater Brass Band. His nursery was opened to the public to raise funds for local charities which he and his wife sponsored. Alfred’s son Gilbert went onto be the most celebrated member of the family going onto be district cricketer, VFL footballer for Hawthorn, serving as a councillor on the Ferntree Gully Shire before going onto a career in State politics. Which resulted in a notable stint as Minister of agriculture, Under his leadership the Department achieved a high level of development which contributed to the advancement of Victorian primary industry, especially in the areas of animal husbandry, research into animal and plant diseases, and the economic management of farms. The Gilbert Chandler Institute of Dairy Technology at Werribee was named in his honour.
A man of great ability he was on the 1956 Olympic committee. Churchill National Park's committee of management and a committee-member of the Fern Tree Gully National Park, He chaired the government's bush fires relief committee and served as president of the Boronia Basin division of the St John Ambulance Brigade. All these achievements culminated in the rewarding of a Knighthood in 1972. Gilbert’s brother Alan another notable member of the family who also served as a councillor on the Shire was instrumental in helping the establishment of the Boronia Bowls club. Of course, all this just brushes over the surface of the families accomplishments there was involvement in the establishment of hospitals, postal service, schools, halls and involvement in the fire services and I have only concentrated on the male members.
A notable female member is Fergus (Alfred’s nephew) Chandler’s wife Edna. Her most distinguished award being an MBE in 1978 for services to the community and to The Basin Theatre. In 1948, the above mentioned Fergus’ Father Bert after setting up his two older sons, helped his youngest son John to obtain part of the original Como property. They formed a partnership as Bert Chandler and Son. The business continued successfully for 40 more years. In 1988 the Como property was sold and after 117 years was no longer in Chandler Family hands.
Meanwhile, the oak back at Sheffield road kept growing. These days it has become a historical site with a stone maker and plaque. The plaque gives a brief history and ends with the words “One of the finest specimens of this tree in Australia please help to protect it.” Now 138 years old it has become an icon and been classified by the National Trust because of its size, form and historical significance. The tree has been pruned a number of times over the years and in 1982, to support the weight of its massive limbs steel cables were attached from the main trunk. Over enthusiastic pruning by Knox Council (who are responsible for its well being) has on occasions led to the intervention of local residents.
Recently work has begun on a water garden metres from its trunk to help with drainage. There are, however, those who are concerned for the future of the oak. Local Parks Victoria Rangers hold fears that the tree has Cinnamon Fungus a disease that attacks the roots from the ground water and kills the tree from the top down. A glance upward towards the oaks majestic canopy can see proof of this damage, bare dead branches protrude from the foliage.
Some believe that Melbourne Water should take some action with Dobson’s creek encroaching upon the trees wide based trunk a product of erosion. The consensus being that with age the mighty landmark needs a lot more attention not from anyone authority but from all in a concerted effort to protect and maintain a valuable piece of local history.

Most of the information for this article was taken from articles and books found in two of the most important buildings in Knox. The Boronia Library and the Ambleside, home of the Knox Historical Society.
Originally published in the BBCN Issue 214   August 2013

The 12 inch Vinyl Revival and introducing CAPTAIN STOMP RECORDS.

The 12-inch Vinyl Revival and introducing CAPTAIN STOMP RECORDS. We all have fond memories of vinyl records, most of us over 50 gr...