Down Sunday.

What do you do when you don’t know what you want to do?

I’ve completed my MA now. The whole point of doing the degree was to give me more options in getting jobs.

But I don’t know what I want to do. Only what I don’t want to do. I don’t want to work with financial stuff. I don’t want to talk on the phone. I want something nice and solitary.

What the fuck am I doing.








Telling myself off.

I need to sort myself out, and this post is me, actually getting this stuff out of my head and into reality to try and make me act on this stuff.

I’m too easily distracted. I’ve been chipping away at various freelance work in the evenings and weekends. Jobs that I know I can get done in a reasonable time, and yet, they’re taking me ages, because my attention span lately has been dreadful. I’m forever checking Facebook. Twitter. Looking at Transformer’s message boards. Star Wars message boards. Reading nonsense Wikipedia entries about aliens and conspiracies or other useless crap. Or I’m finding ways to distract myself by firing up OpenEmu and playing Virtua Racing, or Road Rash, or whatever other little distractions I can muster. And doing my work in this highly piecemeal fashion is hurting the quality of the work, and meaning I stay up later than I need to, and then I’m more tired the next day, and get more distracted… you get the idea.

So I’m going to try and get some focus back, knuckle down and concentrate on the work, and GET IT DONE.  I need to get my shit together, and stop getting distracted. This is getting silly now.

Renegade Angel: Jim Steinman & Meatloaf’s lost album

Rock’ N’Roll Hero

Sit back ladies and gents, this is going to be a BIGGIE.

When I was 14, I first heard Meat Loaf’s “I Would Do Anything For Love”, and it blew my mind, and opened a lifelong love of the man’s voice and Jim Steinman’s epic rock opera lyrics and music. For Christmas ’93, my folks bought me “Bat Out Of Hell II”, my first CD and a CD I still own to this day. I was intrigued – II? What the hell was Bat Out Of Hell I?

My Uncle Jeff provided the answer. A battered and worn cassette tape copy of Meat ‘n’ Jim’s first album. I listened it to through old headphones, on my Uncle’s threadbare carpet, and fell in love with it. I soon found a copy of that on CD, followed in swift succession by “Dead Ringer”, and Meat’s subsequent Steinman-free albums, which I still enjoyed (but not as much as the partnership songs).

This was all pre-internet of course, and it wasn’t until years later that I discovered Jim Steinman has recorded a solo album, “Bad For Good”. And it was a crazy, vocally strained, music archaeology surprise to me. For this was the true follow-up to “Bat Out Of Hell”, written before “Dead Ringer” – and I’d heard unknowingly heard many of it’s tracks in some shape  or form in many other places over the years…

So What The Hell Happened?

“Bat Out Of Hell” was released in 1977 to massive success, and Meat Loaf toured extensively off the back of the album throughout 1978. While Meat toured, Steinman had been working away on the songs for the follow-up, an album to be entitled “Renegade Angel”. Unfortunately, the strain of touring so extensively had ruined Meat Loaf’s voice, and struggles with coping with the new-found fame and popularity had also contributed to delaying “Renegade Angel”. As more and more time passed, Steinman grew frustrated, and eventually opted to record the album himself, released under the title “Bad For Good” in 1981.

The album is a fun oddity, and it’s clear from the outset that it was intended for Meat Loaf’s powerful vocals. Steinman’s vocals are good, but it’s clear he lacks the sheer power and range to really make the songs soar the way Meat Loaf later would. It didn’t stop the album from being a success (mainly in Europe, not so much States-side)

Bad For Good – What became of the Renegade Angel?

  1. “Bad for Good”
  2. “Lost Boys and Golden Girls”
  3. “Love and Death and an American Guitar”
  4. “Stark Raving Love”
  5. “Out of the Frying Pan (And into the Fire)”
  6. “Surf’s Up”
  7. “Dance in My Pants” (duet with Karla DeVito)
  8. “Left in the Dark”

Extra EP

  1. “The Storm”
  2. “Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through”

When I first read the track listing it was immediately apparent that many of these songs had appeared (and often gained better exposure) elsewhere. And after listening to the album, it’s clear that it had further musical influence on lots of the Steinman songs that followed it.

Although “Renegade Angel” never materialised as a true Meat Loaf album, it’s possible to resconstruct a version of it as over the last two decasdes, Meat Loaf has periodically gone back and covered many of the songs from “Bad For Good”.

Let’s start at the beginning, compare the originals to the covers, and rebuild the album from the ground up.

Bad for Good

(re-recorded by Meat Loaf for “Bat Out of Hell III”)

Personally, I prefer Steinman’s version to Meat Loaf’s. Steinman’s version may be more strained, and a bit raw, but it’s feels less over-blown and less over-produced than the version that Meat Loaf covered for “Bat Out Of Hell III”. I think after so long, the newer version is almost trying too hard t impress, and it shows.

The epic Steinman original…

The over-produced Meat Loaf version…

Lost Boys and Golden Girls

(re-recorded by Meat Loaf for “Bat Out of Hell II”)

The “Bat II” version wins out here, primarily because Steinman himself assisted with the cover. It really shows how beneficial it is to the song when the two artists combine their strengths – Meat’s vocals and Steinman’s improved production really lift this one.

Steinman’s original…

Meat Loaf’s cover…

Love and Death and An American Guitar

(remixed by Jim Steinman for “Bat Out Of Hell II”, retitled “Wasted Youth”)

A spoken track, the same Steinman vocal is used for “Bat II”, but with added sound effects. The “wasted youth” spoken sample is used from the following track on “Bat II”, “Good Girls Go To Heaven”, to tie this track in as a mini prologue for it..

Steinman speaks…

The sound effected version for “Bat Out Of Hell II”

Stark Raving Love

(later used as the basis for Bonnie Tyler’s “I Need A Hero”)

For me, one of the highlights of the album, especially as it’s one of the few songs on the album not to have been re-recorded by Meat Loaf, although it’s clearly BEGGING to be re-done with his legendary bombast. It tests Steinman, but he’s singing his heart out on this sheer madness. Steinman would later use the intro of the song,  some other bits of it and an all new set of lyrics to engineer Bonnie Tyler’s massive hit “Holding Out For A Hero”. A contender for “Bat Out Of Hell IV”…?

Steinman’s bombastic original version…

Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out For A Hero”, with a familiar intro…

Out of the Frying Pan

(re-recorded by Meat Loaf for “Bat Out of Hell II”)

Another case of the “Bat II” version being hugely superior, again primarily because Steinman himself assisted with the cover. Meat’s vocals are strongier, the music is ballsier, the production greater… a terrific update and one of my favourite tracks.

Jim Steinman’s barnstorming original….

… and Meat Loaf’s terrific cover for “Bat Out Of Hell II”

Surf’s Up

(re-recorded by Meat Loaf for “Bad Attitude”)

There’s not a vast amount of difference here. Meat Loaf’s vocal are predictably stronger, but the song itself actually lends itself to Stienman’s style fairly well.

Here’s the Meat Loaf cover…

And the original by Steinman…

Dance in My Pants 

(never re-recorded)

A spiritual successor to the “Paradise By The Dashboard Light” duet from “Bat I”, this crazy song featuring Steinman absolutely HAMMING it, has not been (yet) re-done by Meat Loaf for any of his albums.

Meat Loaf has covered this track, but only at live shows….

And for my money, the more impressive original (with bonkers video)..

Left in the Dark

(re-recorded by Meat Loaf for “Welcome to the Neighborhood”)

Steinman’s original version was slightly longer with a spoken intro, with a vocal performance from Steinman that strains but actually works really given the song’s content. The subsequent Meat Loaf (and before that, Streisand) version has more powerful vocals, but the original fares well against them.

The original, with Steinman’s spoken intro…

Meat Loaf’s version…

Barbara Streisand’s version of this song, prior to Meat Loaf’s take on it.

The Storm

(never fully re-recorded, used in part as an intro for “Seize The Night” on “Bat Out Of Hell III”)

Right, this one is a weird one…. An instrumental-only track from the bonus EP, the first portion of the “The Storm” was re-orchestrated as the intro for “Seize The Night” on “Bat Out Of Hell III”. The rest of “Seize The Night” was pulled together from an aborted song Steinman was writing for a Batman musical that never got completed, which itself was subsequently reworked into a German vampire musical, “Tanz der Vampire” as the song “Carpe Noctem”. Absolutely crazy patchworking there. The lyrics from “Seize The Night” seem more Batman than vampire though…. Seize this insanity.

Jim Steinman’s original

Jim Steinman’s re-working into “Tanz der Vampire”

“Carpe Noctem”

Meat Loaf’s cannibalised Frankensong….

Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through

(Re-recorded by Meat Loaf for “Bat Out of Hell II”)

The last track of the bonus EP, this song is yet another example of where the partnership of Steinman and Meat Loaf just massively improves the work. The later version is more confidently orchestrated, strongly sung, and just richer sounding in general.

Jim Steinman’s slow, tinkly version

Meat Loaf’s smooth cover.

Dead Ringer

So there you have it – that’s what you can reconstruct of “Renegade Angel”, at least for now. Jim Steinman would later write a new album’s worth of material for Meat Loaf to record, resulting in “Dead Ringer” being released in 1981, becoming their true second album, but it’s interesting and tantalising to see what could have been…


Post Master(s)

So, with the conclusion of my MA this September, I’ve been catching up on some commission work that I’ve had on hold, and I’m also now starting the push to try and get the creative freelancing off the ground somewhat.

I’ve completed a few sketches and digi-sketch items for people, that they seemed to like, so that’s good. The big news is that I’ll be illustrating a children’s book for Velindre Cancer Care, to help kids cope with parents undergoing treatment for cancer. I’d previously helped out on an older version of the book, doing art corrections and colour adjustments, so it’ll be nice to fully assume art duties on this. It’ll end up looking a bit like this… KC_TEST_01

So that’ll keep me busy for a few months…

I’m also in the middle of trying to establish contacts within the comic book world to try and get back to properly colouring some books again… so we’ll see how this all pans out!


Two years ago, I took the last chance to do a Masters Degree. The costs were going to steeply rise soon, and I had never completed my BA, but had enough industry experience to skip to the MA. I feel I need the qualifications, so I decided to do it.

Due to my circumstances, I had to do it part-time over two years. And now, I’m three weeks from the end.

The first year was promising, but the second year has comprehensively fallen to pieces, and tonight I hit my lowest, I-can’t-be-fucked-with-this-waste-of-time moment. In-between years, the University of Glamorgan merged with the University of Newport to form the University of South Wales, and I feel it’s had a hugely negative impact on the MA course. no-one seems to know what they are doing, and communication has ground to a halt. And personally, what with job changes and financial woes, and dealing with other personal issues, it’s fair to say I’ve not been able to devote any meaningful time to my project.

I managed to produce a teeny amount of animation, and to try and salvage something from this train wreck, I did the rest of the film as a comic. Yeah, I thought it was weird for an animation degree too. I think I’ve done the barest assest amount of work needed to actually gain a pass, so I’ll get the qual… but I’m so deflated by the whole thing. Realistically, I’ve learned a tiny bit of After Effects and Premiere. And that’s it. And I wasn’t taught any of that, I may add – I learned it from watching fucking YouTube tutorials, at home. I’ve not produced one god-damn frame of animation in the university. I’ve not drawn or coloured a panel of the comic on the campus. And for this privilage, I’ve paid the University over £4000. And on top of that, I’m paying out more bucks to print the book. Chalk it up to another fucking monumental life cock-up in my time. I tend to do this every ten years or so.

What makes it worse, is that I genuinely like the tutors, and I feel bad letting them down, letting myself down, and ragging on the course.

But it is what it is.

Retracing The Cardiff Railway, Part Five: Tongwynlais

After Glan y Llyn, the old Cardiff Railway proceeded toward Taffs Well, where the Taff Vale Railway and the Barry Railway were already exercising a strong grip on this natural bottleneck in the valley. The Cardiff Railway threaded itself across the side of the valley, crossing the Glamorgan Canal past Glan Y Llyn, and then broadly paralleling the canel route under the Walnut Tree Viaduct. The modern day route of this is dominated by the A470 dual carriageway, from just outside the Caerphilly junction and down into the village of Tongwynlais.

Tongwynlais is technically part of Cardiff, although the constructions of the A470 and the M4 effectively cut it off from the big suburbs of Cardiff, and over the years it has retained that small rural village feel as a result. The popular tourist attraction of Castell Coch is located in Tongwynlais.

Back when the Cardiff Railway was still in operation, the approach to Tongwynlais was notable for the Tongwynlais Tunnel, just after the Walnut Tree Viaduct, and down the hill from Castell Coch. The tunnel ran for 180 yards.

tongwynlais tunnel 1947

Looking down on Castell Coch in 1947. The Walnut Tree Viaduct can be seen top left, spanning the Valley. The Cardiff Railway runs under the rightmost section. The old Taff Vale Railway lines are left of the picture, and the portal to the Tongwynlais Tunnel is slightly hidden left of center, next to the road. It appears that the tracks had been badly overgrown at this stage.


Hard to see, but the tunnel is in this picture…


The death throes of the Nantgarw-facing portal of Tongwynlais Tunnel in 1969, just prior to demolition for the building of the A470 dual carriageway.


In this picture by Geoff Atkins, we see a close-up view of the overgrown Nantgarw-facing portal of the tunnel in around 1967.



And here we see the view out of the Cardiff-facing portal, this time by John Bulpin, in the late 1960’s.


More remains of the trackbed in Tongwynlais, just prior to A470 construction in the late 1960’s. Photo by John Bulpin.


In this 1967 view from the abandoned viaduct, we can see the portal to the tunnel and Tongwynlais in the distance. The filled-in Glamorgan Canal is prominent in the centre of the picture. Photograph by Geoff Atkins.


destroyed_tong_tunnel- 1970ish

Around 1970, the A470 Tongwynlais exit roundabout has demolished the tunnel.

The track then ran on the outskirts of the village to Tongwynlais Station itself, which was located just south of the village. That station itself opened in March of 1911, and operated for twenty years, finally closing in July of 1931.

Tongwynlais OS

The tunnel can be seen in the top left of this 1952 OS map. The station can then be seen in the bottom centre of the image.

With the opening of the Nantgarw colliery over the 1940’s, this section of track sprung back to life, but just for freight, and the station itself wasn’t reopened. After sporadic use, the re-opened section was finally closed for good in 1952, when a newer link to the colliery was established at Taffs Well.

In spite of it’s abandonment, the station buildings had stood since 1931, until the construction and expansion of the A470 duel carriageway completely wiped them off the map in the mid 1960’s.

I couldn’t find any pictures of the station in it’s prime, but there are a few that exist from the 50’s showing the gradual take-over of nature happening to the old building.


Sometime in the late 1940’s or1950

tongwynlais 1950

A Nantgarw bound train, 1950. Photo from Urban75.

But like so much of the old Cardiff Railway, the A470 swept it away. As near as I can make out, the modern day location of the station would have be right under a set of speed limit overhead barriers hanging just by the Taffs Well/Tongwynlais exit…


The M4 is the bottom-most road in the picture. Almost dead centre in the photo is a set of overhanging LED signs – the station would have been at pretty much that exact spot. A barely perceptible dent in the tree-line below that point indicates the rout of the old trackbed, before the M4 cuts across it.

So that covers all of the now-gone stations and halts of the old Cardiff Railway. Rhydyfelin, Upper Boat, Nantgarw, Glan Y Llyn and Tongwynlais are all gone, but all have left a hint of their former existence. The next stop on the line is Coryton, a station that still functions today, and is now the terminus of the modern-day line. We’ll cover that, and the abandoned trackbed leading up to it, some other time. Thanks for reading!

Many thanks to John Bulpin, Geoff Atkins and Urban75 for their photography. Some other resources used for this blog:


Retracing The Cardiff Railway, Part Four: Glan Y Llyn

As the old Cardiff Railway snaked through Nantgarw (and later experienced somewhat of an industrial renaissance thanks to Nantgarw Colliery), it headed toward Taffs Well, a natural bottleneck in the Valleys. The old Cardiff Railway Glan Y Llyn station lay on this stretch, and unusually for the Cardiff Railway, a good amount of this station actually still exists today.

Before we get to the station itself, there’s some railway infrastructure ahead of the station that’s worth looking back at. Once trains left Nantgarw halt, the line ran on a raised embankment (that still exists today, and is now a walking path).  This embankment runs alongside what is today the A4054 (Cardiff Road). One big feature of this particular stretch of track was a large skew bridge that crossed the road and lead the approach into Glan-Y-Lyn station. I remember driving under this bridge several times between 2004 and 2010, and was disappointed to see it disappear…


The skew bridge that carried Cardiff Railway over Cardiff Road (A4054). View looks back toward Nantgarw. Picture by Geoff Atkins, 1989.


The view across the skew bridge itself. At this point only one set of tracks are in situ, that were used until the mid 1980’s for freight from Nantgarw Colliery. At this point in 1989, nature is well on it’s way to claiming them for itself. Photograph by Geoff Atkins, 1989.



The skew bridge has since been replaced in the 21st century with a simpler footbridge-style affair. Photograph by Adrian Flood, 2015.

The little footbridge just isn’t the same.


1915 OS map showing Glan Y Llyn station in the centre.

Once over the skew, the track headed into Glan Y Llyn station itself. As with the other Cardiff Railway stops, it was part of a limited passenger service from 1911 until 1931, when passenger runs then terminated at Coryton, two stops further down the line. The station originally had a footbridge, visible in OS maps from 1914, but gone by the 1940’s.

Restricted useage

I was unable to find any photographs of the station as it looked when operational, but there are some pictures from the 1950’s (one of which I had erroneously included as a picture of Upper Boat station previously – but a look at the track layout proves I was wrong!). This shows traffic from the colliery passing through.


However, even the reprieve from the Nantgarw Colliery would be shortlived, and in the early 1950’s, a connection was made from the colliery to just north of Taffs Well station, on the old TVR line. With that in place, the section of line running to Coryton ceased operation in 1953, and the line and trackbed fell back into disuse and decay.

Remarkably for a Cardiff Railway building , the station house is still in existence as of 2015, over a century after it’s construction. It is now a private residence, with an extension built under the existing canopy. The local landscape has changed massively around the station house, but elements of the platform remain to this day. It’s interesting to note how the road by the platform has slowly raised toward platform level, due to rebuilding and layering over the years.

GlanYLyn_remaining_platform_May 2014 Aron Stenning

The clearly-visible remains of the platform and it’s slope at Glan Y Llyn, buried under newer buildings , walss and fencing. Photograph by Aron Stenning, 2014

GlanYLyn_remaining_station_May 2014 Aron Stenning

A view of the Glan y Llyn station house, now a private residence. The canopy is still present but with an extension underneath it, and it now has solar panels on the replaced roof. Photograph by Aron Stenning, 2014


A Nantgarw bound train crosses the Glamorgan Canal just south of Glan Y Llyn station, 1952. Photograph by I L Wright


And with Glan Y Llyn covered, the old Cardiff Railway winds it way toward the next stop on this vanished old railway – Tongwynlais. After Tongwynlais, the Cardiff Railway gets brought up to date as we hit present day active tracks and stations… but that’s still to come…

Many thanks to Adrian Flood, Geoff Atkins, Aron Stenning and I L Wright for their photography. Some other resources used for this blog:


Retracing The Cardiff Railway, Part Three: Nantgarw

Moving down from Upper Boat, the next stop on the old Cardiff Railway would have been the low level Nantgarw halt. Located at the top of Oxford Road, if the halt were around today it would be just off the roundabout that leads onto Treforest Industrial Estate – specifically, the more retail and education based section. This stop was fairly nondescript as far as passenger service was concerned. I couldn’t find any photographs of the original halt in situ – I could only work out it’s original location from the 1914 Ordnance Survey maps. The halt is center bottom of the below picture…

Nantgarw Halt - OS 1914-page-001

I did manage to find some photos of the Nantgarw High Level halt, which was a stop on the Pontypridd, Caerphilly and Newport line some way up the mountain – but that’s now part of the Taff Trail, and perhaps a story for another day.

When the Cardiff Railway found it’s freight services stymied by legal potholes set in place by the Taff Vale Railway, it instead turned the line into a none-to-successful passenger service. Operating from 1909 until 1922, that might have been the whole story for this particular stop – but as luck would have it, it would find it’s way into freight… of a fashion.

The land adjacent to the line had been the basis for a colliery numerous times in the 20th century. Nantgarw Colliery opened in 1915, and at a depth of 782.73 meters was the deepest mine in South Wales.

Used by kind permission of Rhondda Cynon Taff Libraries

This 1910 photo of early construction work on Nantgarw Colliery is taken from nearby Nantgarw Halt, from the trackbed embankment before the bridge over Oxford Road.

It operated until the mid 1920’s when it closed for the first time, before a late 1930’s revival was halted by the outbreak of the Second World War. By the late 1940’s, the Ministry of Fuel and Power along with the NCB, had drawn up plans to re-open the mine once again.


The new Nantgarw Colliery under construction, late 1940’s/early 1950’s


This new venture totally eradicated the original colliery structures and replaced them with new up-to-date technology. Crucially, alongside this major upheaval, the old Cardiff Railway line still stood adjacent, and can be seen in the picture above on the far right. The halt at Nantgarw was long since gone, but the bridge it run over still remained, and the track was re-purposed to run freight down to Taffs Well and beyond, where it would head on to Cardiff.

Nantgarw_Colliery_Coke_plant_Ben_Brooksbank 1973

A view of the colliery from the approach from Caerphilly, in 1973. The old site of Nantgarw Halt can be seen just left of the second lamppost, near picture centre. Photo by Ben Brooksbank.


The colliery ran (though not without it’s share of political and strike-based problems) until the late 1980’s. Following it’s closure, the land was slowly redeveloped as a further extension of Treforest Industrial Estate. The Showcase Cinema, Coleg Morganwg, and a variety of other businesses now stand where the colliery once stood.


A close up view of the bridge over Oxford Street, 1989, looking towards Treforest & Pontypridd. The halt entrance walkway would have been on the left side of the bridge. Photo by Geoff Atkins.

Nantgarw_Ceri Jones_Old_Bridge_Oxford_Street

A close up view of the bridge over Oxford Street, late 1980’s, looking towards Taffs Well and Cardiff. The halt entrance walkway can be seen on the right side of the bridge. Photo by Ceri Jones.


The view atop the bridge itself, from June 1989. The tracks are still in situ at this point. The old Nantgarw Halt would have been in the distance, just past the bridge. Photo by Geoff Atkins

As for the site of the halt itself? Following the colliery closure, the bridge over Oxford Street was also removed as part of the leveling of the trackbed, thus erasing it from existence completely. A few hundred yards down from the site of the halt, the surviving trackbed is now part of a walking trail, but the short-lived Nantgarw Halt is a dim and distant memory.


The modern day view of the site of the bridge over Oxford Street, looking towards Treforest & Pontypridd. The halt site and bridge are gone, and one of the old Nantgarw Colliery winding wheels is on display by the roundabout. Photo from Google Maps.


The modern day view of the site of the bridge over Oxford Street, looking towards Taffs Well & Cardiff. Photo from Google Maps.

Although Cardiff Railway had ceased operations in the 1920’s, from the 1950’s to the 1980’s, rail traffic did continue to pass from Nantgarw down to Cardiff in some form. Along the way it would pass through the next stop on the old railway – Glan Y Llyn. That will be part four of this series – and tantalisingly, it’s a small part of the Cardiff Railway that still exists today… in a way. Stay tuned.

Many thanks to Ben Brooksbank, Geoff Atkins and Ceri Jones for their photography. Some other resources used for this blog: