ufoHe’s determined to battle the post-Christmas blues but Self Made Man can’t find much solace in rock at the start of 2013.

This week our resident classic rock blogger looks back on a time when the New Year meant more new music.

Read his views exclusively right here, every week.


January and February are, by some distance, the worst months of the year. Sport and music are two great passions in my life.

For years, I’ve used sport and music as an antidote to post-Christmas blues and beacons amid the bleak winter gloom.

Those football managers who sent out weakened sides in the FA Cup third round last week got it so wrong. They betrayed their lack of understanding of the sports fan.

A Cup run warms the heart at a time when wallets are empty, daylight hours short and thoughts of sun, sand and summer, nothing but a distant dream.

Ever since I can remember, FA Cup results in January and February helped fashion my mood. If my team was knocked out early on, winter seemed to bite that bit harder.

Wembley can be an intoxicating prospect when there’s little else on the horizon.

Thankfully, there were other sports which kept me going through these depressing months. The Five/Six Nations is always a joy, especially when Ireland beat England, which happily, has been a regular occurrence in recent years.

Tennis offers the Australian Open and, in modern times, a realistic challenger in Andy Murray. Cricket too offers a welcome respite from dreary routine.

And then there is music. January may be the time of heavy bills, colds, sobriety and diets but back in the late-70s and early-80s, it was UFO month.

For some reason, one of my favourite bands always released their new studio album at this time of year.

Obsession, No Place To Run, The Wild, The Willing and The Innocent, Mechanix and then Making Contact all came out in January.

And in a double dose of musical joy, UFO also toured in the New Year.

Rush too, I recall, seemed to release records around now. Permanent Waves and Moving PIctures both hit the shelves post-Christmas.

Of course, there were downsides to this, notably the fact that you were probably skint, having spent up on presents and a crammed festive social life. Still, there was always the overdraft!

That sense of anticipation as you counted down to the day of release, the excitement at finally laying your hands on a copy (also the disappointment that Chrysalis had once again skimped on UFO’s package – but that’s another story) and finally the moment you listened to the material for the first time, adequately offset the downsides of winter.

Even as recently as 12 months ago, the long-awaited release of Van Halen’s A Different Kind of Truth was a welcome diversion from another jaded January.

Sadly, there aren’t too many classic rock releases in the pipeline in 2012, nor imminent concert dates in my diary.. And North East football’s hardly offering seasonal solace either.

So I guess it’s a case of abandoning that diet, hitting the bottle and pretending it’s Christmas all over again!

Ian Murtagh