Face to Face









A while ago I started playing around with photo-manipulations of peoples’ faces.  I long ago noticed (like you probably have) that most peoples’ faces are not symmetrical.  One eye usually has a different expression to the other — and the mouth is usually slightly lopsided.

Without going into all the science of it (which would fill several books) there’s sound evidence to support the idea that one half of the face (usually the person’s own right side) represents the more conscious aspect of himself that he or she likes to present to the world — while the left side embodies the unconscious side and reveals the inner person. 

That’s why deceitful people are called ‘two-faced’ — you’d expect to see a difference in the faces of people who have very divergent outer and inner lives — or secret agendas at odds with what they say and do.  …Though you’d also expect a similar thing in people who have rich and vivid inner lives, like philosophers and artists.  


The face that Lance Armstrong  presents to the world is broader than the other side — more a football player than a cyclist.  It’s might be the wholesome face of the man who fronts a charity — or the poster for a man who wasn’t far away from achieving his ambitions of political office.

The lighting of the photograph has even subconsciously conspired to illuminate LA’s darker side.  We all now know what his secret agenda was for years, and what he was hiding.  But the dark side wasn’t the drug-taking fraud so much as the vindictive sociopath who ruined the lives of many of his former friends and colleagues, who told the truth about him.  It’s the man who set about destroying the life and business of Greg LeMond — the greatest American cyclist of all time.



This is a picture of the young Tony Blair before he became leader of Britain and took the country to war on the basis of a bogus dossier and a litany of lies.  Most of us here now know him (unaffectionately) as Tony B, Liar.  As a youth Tony was an actor — about as good an actor as Hitler was painter.  If either of them had been any good at their chosen career, the world would have been the better for it. 

The inner Blair is a bit of a cheeky chappie , saying ‘Like me, like me, please.’  The outer face is more mask-like, like an actor’s mask.  Tony’s acting techniques still served him in good stead though — as the saying goes: ‘The most important thing is sincerity … and once you can fake that you’ve cracked it’.










Francis Bacon

‘The man who does all those horrible paintings,’ as Margaret Thatcher called him.  Bacon’s paintings of half-human grotesques, burning popes and carcasses form a body of work that got progressively more inward-looking, bleaker and concerned with death.  In this later portrait of him on the left, it’s as if only one eye is looking out into the world.

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Visual Puns

Moving on from the last post which featured some notable look-alikes, what about these ‘visual puns’?

Who wouldn’t be amused by placing of the rivets on this ad seen on the side of a Bangkok city bus?

 And who’d fail to get a chill if they received a letter with this stamp and postmark?








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The Greatest Movie Never Made

The Attractions Story!

… featuring Nicholas Lyndhurst  as the Drummer, Gabriel Byrne as the Keyboard Player, and Frank Carson as the Singer.   I would demand to be played by Kiefer Sutherland — but most likely Donald would get the call.








Mike Miller asks who would play “the Manager”.  Step forward Harry H Corbett of Steptoe fame.  The Manager himself seems OK with the casting , but Harry H doesn’t look too sure.

Perhaps we should make the movie a musical; it offers abundant employment opportunities for other lookalikes.



A cameo role as The Boss for ex-Manchester United player Lou Macari.






By request … Danger Man himself, Patrick McGoohan, as country music producer Billy Sherrill.  A generous bit of casting, I know – on another day, it might have been Archie Bunker.





On reflection, Donald would make a much better Nick Lowe.

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Scratching Post

Yesterday my cat Lucy watched as I was topping up the oil under the bonnet (hood) of my car.  Of course, cats have a natural curiosity about them.  But she didn’t come any further than the garden gate as I’d previously impressed upon her (more than once) that were she to venture into the road, she’d almost certainly be flattened into a two-dimensional tabby wall-hanging by a runaway juggernaut carrying twenty-two tons of concrete blocks and a replacement propeller for the Queen Mary.

Yet it was she who was looking at me as if I were the dumb critter.  So I admitted that humans have often ignored the obvious and done many things that are quite dumb.

‘You mean like basing an entire civilization on the internal combustion engine?’ her expression intimated.  ‘All the while knowing full well that one day you’ll run out of the resources to maintain it? … And even though rare geniuses like Nicola Tesla and Wilhelm Reich come up with free-energy devices, rather than being welcomed with open arms, their work is destroyed and they’re declared insane?’

‘… Errm …’

Sparing me further embarrassment, she yawned, lay down and nodded off.

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Hall of Fame #2

Having seen the post about Duck Dunn below, my buddy Jeff Owens at Fender sent me a YouTube clip of Ryane Askew’s cover of 5ive Gears in Reverse — a bass part of mine wholly modeled on Duck Dunn’s playing.

So I thought it might be appropriate to have a couple more clips of bass covers on the site.  (Although no-one seems to have picked up on the fact that the repeated melodic figure at the end of this track is actually a bass overdub, and not a guitar part.)



Ryane Askew / 5ive Gears in Reverse

Ryane of Fort Worth, Texas, is a trained clarinetist and jazz pianist but has recently started learning bass by ear from records — and appears to be progressing at the speed of light, as she’s only a few months into it.  She’s continuing a fine tradition, as that’s exactly how I learnt to play bass.  The first record I got down was Booker T’s Green Onions album — before moving on to Fresh Cream. (Ryane does a cool version of Steely Dan’s Peg on her YouTube channel — and she’s got seriously cool hair too!)


Colin Peters / (I Don’t Want to go to) Chelsea

This is the best cover I’ve heard of  ‘Chelsea’, possibly because Colin lives in South London.  He gets the subtle note variations in the chorus that not many others pick up on and plays with a real feel for the part.


Crank Up the Amps / Watching the Detectives

 Once I’d stumbled across this clip, how could I leave it out!

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Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn: 1941-2012

Perhaps the greatest rock and soul bass player of them all passed away in his sleep today, aged 70.

Duck Dunn is rightly regarded as one a handful of truly great bass guitar originals for his work as a Stax house musician playing for the likes of Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, and Albert King … and as a member of Booker T’s ‘Memphis Group’.  He later played with Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan and Neil Young … and appeared as himself in the Blues Brothers movie.

You don’t have to ask what Duck Dunn’s playing meant to me, or what kind of an influence he was.  Just listen to ‘Five Gears in Reverse’ on the Get Happy album.  That was one of my many ‘tributes’ to him while he was still alive … and I hope it’s still a fitting one today.

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I Never Knew That!

Yes... the cheeky chappy with the big ears is me

The following is a new interview I did recently for Jon Liebman’s For Bass Players Only magazine.

JL: Tell me about your musical upbringing.

BT: There was a piano in the house and it came as a great surprise to me when I started hitting the notes that a tune didn’t come out at all, just a racket.  After all, I was only doing what I’d seen everyone else do when playing the piano.  But my mother had a good ear for a tune, and picked it up very quickly without any lessons.  My father, on the other hand, spent his childhood studying to be a classical violinist; but he had to give it up to go in the Army.  Later he only ever played it occasionally.

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Seeing is Believing

Do you see the triangle that’s not actually there?  You see it because your mind fills it in to create something familiar.  In fact, it’s harder to un-see the triangle.

But at other times we can fail to see something that really is there, even something truly remarkable — as the following story reveals …

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