Tuesday 28 May 2013

Daft Punk: Random Access Memories

I downloaded the new Daft Punk album last week. I've finally got to that stage where I now download music rather than going to record shops and buying CDs.

It's been a long wait for this album, 8 years since Human After All which nobody seems to have any great love for. So for the likes of myself, it's been a wait of 12 years since Discovery for a true Daft Punk album to come out.

The Guardian seems obsessed with the new album. There's a Daft Punk article everyday on its website. Many critics seem to be focusing on how Daft Punk have brought back the disco sound of the late 70s. They haven't!

Those of us who know our dance music, particularly House music know that disco has never gone away. Its style and influence has always remained and it continues to be a major influence on dance and electronic music culture.

Instant Crush - my favourite track from the album.

As a dance music aficionado, I've always 'got' Daft Punk. All their records make perfect sense to me. I know all their influences and reference points because they share the same influences and reference points as me.

Their influences are in classic House music, techno, disco, soft rock and pop. I understand it all.

What I love about this album is the collaborations between Daft Punk and other artists. It's not a coincidence that many of these artist are people I've followed and loved for many years.

There's Pharrell Williams from NERD, who I love. The legend that is Giorgio Moroder most famously known for the Donna Summer classic 'I Feel Love'. Todd Edwards, one of my favourite House & Garage producers, and finally the guitar sounds of Chic's Nile Rogers on the hit single Get Lucky.

By coincidence I've just finished reading Nile Rogers' autobiography Le Freak, a truly incredible life and music career from a hugely influential musician and producer.

Any album bringing these talents together was always going to be something I would love and I haven't been disappointed!

Sunday 12 May 2013

Goodbye Fergie

We all knew this day would come eventually - but it's still a shock to see Alex Ferguson finally retiring as manager of Manchester Utd.

Watching the scenes today after Utd's final home game against Swansea, I felt incredibly emotional as Fergie gave his farewell speech.

It's not just about witnessing the end of an era at Man Utd or for English football. It's knowing that you've seen the end of something you'll never see again.

That old school British style of management of one dominate character taking a club and defining the culture, character and success of that club is over.

That managerial tradition is best represented through the likes of legendary managers like Matt Busby, Bill Shankly, Brian Clough, Don Revie, and Jock Stein to name just a few. For me Alex Ferguson is the last in that line of dominate football managers.

The modern game simply won't allow an Alex Ferguson to exist ever again. That's what's sad about him finally stepping down and why he'll remain the most successful manager ever.

There's so much to say about Fergie, I remember him becoming Man Utd manager back in 1986. They were near the bottom of the old First Division.

As a 10 year old just getting into football, I quickly knew this was unacceptable for the biggest club in English football.

Here's a few of the things that have stood out for me over the last 26 years.

The turning point

FA Cup Third round against Nottingham Forest in 1990.

It's widely acknowledged that Fergie would have been sacked had he lost this game. 4 years without a trophy, things weren't happening for Man Utd.

I watched this game at home and fully expected Man Utd to lose. Going against the form book, Mark Robbins scored the winner and Man Utd went on to win the FA Cup in a reply against Crystal Palace. This is where the winning culture first started.

Drive and determination

Regardless of the sport, when people have long and successful careers, I always look at the drive and ambition these people have. To win once is never enough, they want and need to keep winning.

This is something I've always admired about Fergie. The stress and pressure on managers is huge, but clearly he loves and thrives on this, he wants to keep winning and he's passed that drive and determination on to likes of Gary Neville, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs who season after season kept on performing and winning.


Fergie never openly criticizes his players in public. You also never hear players attack him in public. Loyalty is a trait I value and I think he's always demonstrated this throughout his career.

Players want to play for him and don't want to let him down, it's this loyalty that he generates that's helped in the success of Man Utd.

Moving with the times

Football in 1986 was on a completely different planet to where the game is today. Anyone under the age of 25 would struggle to comprehend what football was like then. Yes it was still popular but the money and profile of game can't even be compared.

One of the greatest skills I think Fergie has shown is his ability to adapt to the changing landscape of football.

In 1986, players we quite well paid sports stars. Now they're mega rich celebrities. He's still managed to adapt his managerial skills to cope with the changes of modern footballers.

In 1986, the most exotic foreign players were from places like Denmark or possibly Holland.

Now we have players from every corner of the world. Players brought up in very different cultures to England and English football. Yet still Fergie has been able to deal with the new challenges of managing a multi national football squad.


Regardless of who you are, I think it's important to find something in life that you're passionate about. It's obvious that people working in football are going to be passionate about what they do.

In saying this, to be as successful as Fergie that passion has to be greater and more intense than the average person. It probably borders on obsessive but what ever you want to call it, he clearly has that little bit extra.

I've always admired Fergie's passion not just for the game but to Manchester Utd and the history and tradition of the club.

I always remember seeing pictures of him holding the Champions League Trophy after they beat Chelsea in the 2008. The joy on his face I thought it made him look 10 years younger.

Reading my thoughts back, it sounds like I'm the biggest Fergie and Man Utd fan! I'm not, what I am is a football fan.

Like many football fans there's been lots of things that Fergie has said or done which have annoyed and irritated me; but as a football fan, I have a huge amount of respect for who he is, what he's done and what he represents for football in this country.

I shall miss him.

And finally...David Moyes

I think David Moyes is the perfect fit. People can say he hasn't won anything or that he has no experience of Champions League football.

That shouldn't be held against him. His work at Everton means he's earned the right to be given this opportunity.

I'm pleased that as a British manager he's been given this chance. English football seems to always look to foreign coaches and players for inspiration.

As Fergie has shown, this country produces great managers and other British managers should be given the chance to follow in his success.