Thursday, February 25, 2010

'You're a loudmouth baby...'

I have just - just! - returned from working up at 'W.W.R.Y.' with Stuart the guitar repair man (since you asked I changed 7 sets of strings on the B.M.'s while Stu replaced a jack socket in an Ovation electro-acoustic guitar) and, as often happens on a Thursday, there was a little man standing at the top of the steps to Tottenham Court Road Underground station handing out copies of the ever-entertaining 'Shortlist' free magazine as we arrived. Among the various articles and interviews was this one which I thought I'd reproduce here for your perusal.

It's interesting - I suspect that most people find characters like Liam Gallagher very annoying at best and even just plain ignorant at worst, but will also rather grudgingly admit that they're often saying what a lot of us are thinking but don't actually have the nerve to say. (I would say that John Lydon definitely fits into this category, and you could argue that some of the lines of questioning pursued by Jonathan Ross does too.)

So - how many of Liam's comments do you agree with? And - maybe more importantly - how many made you smile? I for one won't hear Florence + The Machine in quite the same way again...

Yes I know the article's small but click on it and it won't be! Excellent!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Out of our facebook!

The green shoots of recovery are... well, shooting. Well I think they are - I've finished my antibiotics and I feel much better but still not 100% as they say; still got a bad headache across the top of my eyes (if you see what I mean) and feel pretty tired but I'm in a much better position than I was last week. I even went out for a shandy with East on Sunday night (and it really was a shandy! I liked it so much that I had two!) and was amazed to see just what a terrible state people get themselves into by closing time - are people really that drunk by the end of the evening? Yes they are, and yes (gulp!) I usually am...

In the meantime The Chicago Blues Brothers roadshow rolled into Buckinghamshire Golf Club on Saturday on Saturday night. Steve's depping for Marc on drums, Pete's in Jake's shoes and, with everybody else either gigging elsewhere or not too well Mike has come all the way down from Blackpool to play Elwood. Big Tel and Dave are P.A.-ing and D.J.-ing (and doing a fine job on both) and the show was enlivened by fish and chips all round (just chips for me thanks) and my mate Cliff holding court as only he can. The show was pretty good too, with an excellently mad performance from Mike which included some fine harmonica playing, some splendid dancing and a change into a very unusual outfit for the Aretha Franklin numbers. I'll spare you the gory details, but I'll let you know if it ever turns up on YouTube!

Talking of YouTube East has started his own T.V. station! Here is the first broadcast, it's 'The Cover Up' from last week's Price rehearsal with many more archive Price bits'n'pieces likely to turn up on E.T.V. (yes!) in the not-to-distant future alongside other gems from the great man's collection. And if that wasn't enough myself and his self set up a Price Facebook page on last night - well, East did all the difficult bits, I just sat there ranting... anyway here are the fruits of our labours so see what you think.

So pleased were we with our efforts that went down the pub and had too much to drink. Yes, I must be feeling better - not too good this morning 'though... headache and tiredness nothing to do with last night, obviously...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Still Ill / Getting Better

I woke up Saturday morning to the rather grim realisation that things weren't getting any better - leaving aside the coughing, spluttering, sneezing and headache (did I mention that I've got ManFlu?) I found that my eyelids were all but glued together with what might best and indeed most politely be described as 'gunge'. Not good frankly. 'You've got an infection' said the long-suffering Shirley, with the look of someone who knows that what they've just said is entirely accurate. At least she didn't say 'I told you so'...
Actually she did, but I'm not going to tell you that here!
With a day in Balcony Shirts followed by a gig in the evening in prospect it was off to the chemist to spend some money - rather a lot of money I thought but the way the pharmacist spoke made me think that buying things like eye drops was a pretty good idea, in the same way as the manner in which he said the words 'Go to see your doctor on Monday' made me think that I should indeed go to see my doctor on Monday... a blearily busy Balcony day followed (Scott was if anything even worse for wear than your humble narrator, although his condition was more down to over-indulgence than anything else, the lucky sod!) 'though I didn't feel particularly worse by the end of it - that said the fact that I fell asleep almost as soon as I got through the front door is pretty significant if you think about it.
The evening's gig was in uncharted territory in more ways that one; a new venue - The Ox in South Oxhey - for a new line-up of Youngblood. With Mick the drummer falling by the wayside myself and Terry the bass have installed Roger Brewer (our old partner-in-crime from our days in The Informers) on drums. Terry the singer took the opportunity to suggest we get a new name, and came up with The 4 Faces which we used for this show - not sure what we'll end up with but that one did for this one, and a raucous evening it was, with men taking their t-shirts off to dance and women demanding request after request from the ever genial Terry meaning that we attempted 'Get It On', 'Bad Moon Rising' and 'Whatcha Gonna Do About It?' with varying degrees of success. We ignored all the other ones! In the meantime Terry the bass bemoaned the changing colour of crisp packets, I remained disappointed that the venue hadn't turned out to be a John Entwistle theme bar and we all agreed that we should have some good times to look forward to, whatever we end up being called.

Things hadn't improved on Sunday but at least they hadn't got any worse - that said I spent much of the day half-asleep and the rest actually asleep. Well, that's what it felt like anyway... after a possibly ill-advised amount of medicine(s) and carrying as many boxes of tissues as I could it was off to Tropic Of Ruislip for a Flying Squad gig with the excellent Chicken Legs Weaver. As we arrived Big Tel and Dave were just getting the P.A. set up, George the promoter was moving tables and chairs into position and all was set for good evening. We soundchecked with a thunderous 'Ridin' on the L&N' and it all sounded good to me - then again I probably wasn't the best judge of things! After CLW's soundcheck a problem developed - our drummer Dave had hoped to record the show on his laptop directly from Big Tel's P.A. system but it wouldn't work; Tel came up to me with the words 'I think I've upset Dave' just as Andy came over to say that Dave had gone home in a state of some distress. 'He's coming back 'though' said Andy not looking totally convinced... he did come back, arriving sometime during CLW's fine set. He went down well as did we - there could have been more people there but the ones that were there certainly seemed to have a good evening. From my point of view it was... ok. I was flagging by halfway through our show and, without wishing to sound too melodramatic (for once!) by the end of our set I'm not sure I physically could have played much more. And I don't think I played particularly well 'though I suppose there's an excuse if I want to use it? Then again my old mate Andy Stubbs (who booked The Price many times during his reign of terror booking bands at Brunel University and is now Uxbridge Town Centre Manager) came up to me afterwards and told me that I sounded like 'a cross between Joe Strummer and Mick Jones' so I guess I can't have been that bad as that might well be the best guitar-related compliment that I've ever received, from my point of view at least.

Monday morning and it's time to visit the doctor. I told him my symptoms then recounted the pharmacist's thoughts - he said something like 'oh well, they're supposed to say things like that' then rather reluctantly examined me, first with a stethoscope... 'there's nothing wrong with your chest' he said as he pushed his thumb against my left eyebrow. 'Maybe not, but when you did that it felt like you'd just tried to pull my face off'. He remained unmoved - 'you might have a touch of something like sinusitis I suppose' he said as he wrote out the inevitable prescription for the inevitable anti-biotics. I think I was in the surgery for around 2 minutes and didn't feel as though I'd been taken particularly seriously; on the other hand Shirley observed that, judging by the strength of the anti-biotics that he'd prescribed, he'd probably just not wanted to worry me. Who knows?
Still one way or another it was time to feel better, and to feel better as soon as possible, as it's that time again... mad as it may seem (particularly to the band members!) this year marks the 25th anniversary of the formation of The Price. With this in mind we're playing as often as we can this year (have a look on our website for details of the first shows) as well as hopefully doing some recording and (gulp!) writing some new material. With this in mind it was time for a return to Ruff Rockers Rehearsal Studios for an epic 6 hour session during which we ran through over 30 of our own songs (did we really write that many?!?) along with a few willfully obscure cover versions, and during which I drink 2 bottles of Lucozade, took probably too many painkillers and got through the whole session without keeling over; that said I ran out of steam when I got home and was asleep within 30 minutes of getting through the front door. Rock'n'Roll eh?

And I've had yesterday and today off sick, during which I've taken my tablets like a good boy and attempted to do as little as possible - but I did watch 'It Might Get Loud' again, and damn good it was too. Mind you I only recognised about half of it- I must have been more out-of-consciousness than in it first time around! Still at last I do believe I'm starting to feel a bit better. Good!

Friday, February 12, 2010

'It Might Get Loud' and other distractions

I'm still ill - I've actually had a day off sick today (apologies to the Balcony boys, I'll be back in tomorrow... hopefully...) which is a thankfully rare occurrence in mad-guitar land, and I've decided against going to Tropic at Ruislip tonight (The Hamsters are on and it would have been good to give out some leaflets for our gig there on Sunday; then again it would be better to be well for our gig there on Sunday don't you think?) which is an indication of how rough I'm feeling. This can only mean one thing - I've got the dreaded ManFlu. Bah!

In an attempt to take my mind of the terrible suffering that I'm currently enduring I watched 'It Might Get Loud' this morning - well, 'watched' might be a bit optimistic, 'had-on-in-the-background-as-I-drifted-in-and-out-of-consciousness' might be a better description. I bought the DVD a couple of weeks ago and finally got chance to watch it (maybe this ManFlu thing isn't all bad?!?) and very good it was too - I suppose it helps that I'm a fan of all 3 featured players but it's still an interesting idea for a film and one that works really well. Jack White is splendidly eccentric, The Edge wonderfully, er, edgy and Jimmy Page is the true elder statesman of rock guitar. There are a few (presumably deliberate) moments of controversy - White bemoaning the over use of guitar effects (he's obviously never heard U2!) and The Edge criticising long guitar solos (no Led Zeppelin live recordings in his collection then!) among them - but what really came over to me was their obvious love for what they do and the instrument they use. (Jimmy Page playing air guitar to 'Rumble' is absolutely priceless - if you don't believe me click here!) All in all an excellent film which I really must watch again when I'm feeling better...

Aside from that I've slept for a couple of hours, listened to 'Our Favourite Shop' by The Style Council (I picked it up cheap the other day, easily their best album don't you think?) and 'Down By The Jetty' by Dr. Feelgood (can't have too much of The Feelgoods at the moment) whilst attempting some tidying up (not over-successfully but, hey, I'm ill!) and have 'Live At Leeds' by The Who playing in the background (the best live album ever?!?) as I type this; it actually sounds like quite a good day doesn't it? If only I wasn't feeling so bloody awful... oh, did I mention that I've got ManFlu? It's bloomin' 'orrible, you get a headache, runny nose, you ache all over... (continued on page 94)

Monday, February 08, 2010

'Achoo - one size fits everyone, Achoo - one breath, the deed has been done...'

Ooooh. I've got a cold. Or something. Hope it doesn't turn out to be flu... no, I think it's 'just' a cold, but it's 'orrible all the same. Wish I hadn't been working in the shop today. Wish I wasn't working in the shop tomorrow. Hope the lads there don't catch it. Fear Shirley already has. Ooooh.

I didn't feel too good on Friday evening - bad sinus pain, runny nose, all a bit awkward during the solo in 'Police Car' when I dropped my plectrum, such was the level of distraction that it was all causing. I hadn't been expecting to be anywhere near an audience or indeed a guitar but The Flying Squad found themselves with that rare thing, a 'what-are-you-doing-tomorrow-night?' gig... our drummer Dave had bumped into Alan, the former landlord of The Woodman in Northwood, at a jam night in Ruislip and their conversation had revealed that (a) Alan had just taken the pub back over again and (b) they didn't have a band for the next night. After the usual round of calls and text messages that we all seem to do these days we suddenly found ourselves with a gig; I'd depped with The Cane Toads there a couple of years ago and remember it being a great pub gig, it looks a bit different now (and even my ailing sense of smell picked up the whiff of new paint) but with a bit of luck it'll soon be back to it's former glories. I'm not sure that we were the right band for the venue but we played well and even got a bit of dancing from a couple of the 20-or-so people watching us, and from a slightly selfish band point of view it was a good warm-up for our gig at Tropic At Ruislip this coming weekend.

And I didn't feel too good on Saturday evening either, and I wasn't alone - there were more members of The Chicago Blues Brothers Band looking for tissues and paracetamol than weren't, and the ones that weren't were saying things like 'I had it last week'. We were up at Tewin Bury Farm near Welwyn playing at the Tesco Christmas party (yes, you read that bit right; lots of companies choose to have their Xmas bash in the new year these days - maybe they're too busy in December?) and Jeff (Geoff?) is on drums for the first time, with all the familiar faces in their familiar places apart from that. He was excellent - no, make that excellent - especially as he'd only got the gig with us that morning (Marc was elsewhere and regular dep Steve was, you've guessed it, ill) and only had a brief run-through in the soundcheck. We went on at 10 o'clock which, although it might not sound it, was a bit early as the audience were all having coffee after their meals - as you might expect things took a while to get going, but by the end of our efforts the dancefloor was healthy enough, even if we weren't.

Oddly enough I didn't feel too bad last night (I feel worse now!) but that could be because I'd spent much of Sunday asleep... but it was a superb evening down at The Load Of Hay for the latest Acts Less Ordinary gig, this one featuring Steve Simpson. I'd just finished setting the P.A. when the man himself arrived - I'd spoken to him the day before when he revealed that he'd missed a couple of gigs earlier in the week as he'd been suffering from bronchitis (!) but he was certainly on top form last night, playing 2 sets on acoustic and electric guitars with a few songs on mandolin thrown in for good measure. I hadn't seen him play solo for quite a while (I last saw him with Roger Chapman with our very own Ian Gibbons on keyboards) and had almost forgotten just how talented he is - some wonderful slide playing and country-style fingerpicking matched with a voice that most of us would kill for. You can really hate some people! Seriously though, a fine show and definitely someone that I'd like to get back to the venue as soon as possible.

Incidentally I've just remembered that when Steve was in Meal Ticket he worked alongside this man - how cool is that?!?

Ooooh. I feel awful. AWFUL. Where did I put that olbas oil...?

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Oil City Confidential revisited

I have just - just! - got in from a fine and indeed unique evening (thanks to Fast Tony for the lift home in his cab - top man!) at Koko in Camden Town where a showing of Julien Temple's excellent Dr. Feelgood documentary 'Oil City Confidential' was followed by a live performance from the hero that is Wilko Johnson. Fantastic!

Following an introduction from Keith Allen (am I the only person who thought he didn't know anything about Dr. Feelgood? If he didn't, what was he doing there?!?) Julien Temple came on and explained how the evening was going to work (the film, then Wilko live - simple enough where we were but technically tricky as it was being relayed live to cinemas around the country) before making way for the film. I saw it at The I.C.A. last year and enjoyed it then but somehow it seemed even better this time around, tighter and quicker moving - maybe it had been re-edited? There was something rather odd about watching a film whilst standing up with a drink in your hand 'though it worked well in the venue (it'll always be The Camden Palace to me!) and the sheer charisma of Lee Brilleaux came through every time he appeared on screen.

After a short interval it was Wilko time - with the mighty Norman Watt-Roy on bass and new-ish recruit Dylan Howe on drums he opened with 'You Shouldn't Call The Doctor (if you can't afford the bills)' and 'Sneakin' Suspicion' before introducing Alison Moyet (who sang several Feelgood and Feelgood related numbers, often in a somewhat higher key than the originals!) and Charles Shaar Murray who played a workman-like harmonica along with long-time Wilko-collaborator Slim on accordion. It was a little weird to see the great man on a Stratocaster rather than his trademark Telecaster (I wonder if that's the one he used with Ian Dury and The Blockheads when I saw them at The Lyceum all those years ago?) but he sounded great and looked a little overcome by the occasion by the end. Temple ended the night by calling him a 'national treasure' so expect any number of celebrity 'fans' to come out of the woodwork over the next few weeks and months proclaiming him to be God on two feet and saying how much they've always liked him, how he changed their life etc. You just know that they will don't you?

And if you fancy seeing your humble narrator attempting to find his way around his riffs then why not come to The Tropic Of Ruislip club on Sunday 14th February - Valentines Day! - where The Flying Squad will be playing with Chicken Legs Weaver. Excellent!