Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Power in the darkness

As it happens it turns out that the Kris-at-the-Load-of-Hay gig could have all been very different - when I arrived home after it Shirley told me that there'd been a power cut! It was lucky that it didn't effect our evening although at least it would have stopped that bloomin' quiz machine... it meant that my planned recording of 'Stones In Exile' on BBC 1 had a break in it which was a bit of a shame although I'm sure it'll come out on DVD sometime soon. It's a documentary on the recording of the 'Exile On Main St.' album by The Rolling Stones which has just been re-issued for the umpteenth time although this time there's a second CD of songs allegedly recorded at the same time although the actual recording dates have been disputed in some quarters. Many of them have been overdubbed recently, although I'm not sure that's a bad thing if it fits the songs which in this case in my opinion it does. Being a sucker for this sort of thing I've bought it yet again (I've got about 4 versions of it!) and it still sounds great to me - a rare example of a double album that sounds better when you play it all the way through rather than only playing part of it or isolated tracks. And the bonus tracks are pretty good too - some have been around unofficially for a while but there are a few that haven't surfaced before and they're are excellent. The Stones really were good once upon a time weren't they?

It's been a busy time at Balcony Shirts which I suppose means that t-shirt weather has arrived; mind you Saturday was the quietest day for ages although given the fact that it rained for most of the day that's probably not surprising? It gave Scott and myself chance to put together our new window display featuring some shamelessly opportunistic World Cup t-shirts alongside some signed copies of 'The Football Factory' - we're now stocking some books including 'God's Lonely Men' (Esso's Lurkers memoir) and various London Books titles as provided by John King on Friday. It'll be interesting to see how well books sell in a clothes shop - we sold the first one on Saturday (this one since you've asked) so maybe we'll end up opening Balcony Books next door?

Sunday it was time for The Price to continue their '25th Anniversary Tour' (that's what it said on the posters!) at The Brunswick in Worthing. With Malcolm and Paul both based on the South Coast these days it was a chance for them to invite family and friends along to see us play, and that coupled with a healthy contingent of Uxbridge lads made for a raucously appreciative audience who saw a show that was in my opinion was much better than last month's Ruislip gig. We managed a quick warm up at Ivy Arch Studios in the afternoon before getting to the venue around 5 o'clock - there was an acoustic session taking place in the other bar which obviously meant that we couldn't make too much noise so I went for a walk along the sea front where I bought an ice cream (£2!) and caught up on some phone calls before returning to the venue to put a setlist together for the gig, eventually settling on an epic 24 song set (including 'So Sure' and 'Changing Places', neither of which were played at the recent reunion gigs) which with encores (including 'Happy Hour', again not played since, ooh, last century!) meant we ended up playing for just under 2 hours. It was great to see Dave Nash a.k.a. Romford Dave who used to watch us back in the early days among the audience - he remembers the earlier gigs better than I do! But why was this gig so much better than our last one? Now there's a question...

Last night it was Tom Robinson's 60th birthday gig at The Shepherds Bush Empire, and a very enjoyable evening it was too, with T.V. Smith joining the band to perform 'The Thin Green Line' then participating in the most sedate version of 'Gary Gilmore's Eyes' that I'm ever likely to hear. A great ending though - they sang 'Stand By Me' with two double basses, an acoustic guitar and a lot of voices without the aid of the P.A. system. Excellent! I've always thought that Robinson was one of the best songwriters to emerge during the punky times of the late '70's 'though I for one never really thought of him or the band as 'punk' or anything like it - maybe they were just astute enough to get on board as the punk bandwagon gained momentum? Anyway their first album is a total classic in my book not least as it features the amazing Danny Kustow on guitar - sadly he was nowhere to be seen last night although Adam Phillips made an excellent job of guitar duties all evening. Thanks to T.V. I ended up being invited to the aftershow party to meet Tom, although I had met him a couple of times before...

Back in 1988 (-ish!) I went to see Tom Robinson at The Beck Theatre in Hayes with Mick the original Price drummer. We hatched a plan to get there early and to give him a recording of our band to see if he might be able to help us or offer us some advice to further our plans of (ahem) World domination. Sure enough there he was, in the car park if I remember rightly, and we engaged him in cheery conversation, delivered our cassette tape and asked if he'd listen to it and let us know what he thought of it. Of course he would, and he'd let us know his thoughts as soon as he could.
Well no one was more surprised than me when a jiffy bag dropped through my letter box a few days later containing our tape - Tom had recorded his thoughts on the b-side, and very interesting they were too. I don't remember what happened to the tape - maybe Mick's got it? It would be fascinating to hear it now!
Years later I found myself at a Tom Robinson/T.V. Smith gig - I was introduced to Tom and reminded him that we'd actually met before; I told my story which he found highly amusing, then he asked if his advice had helped and commented that he remembered saying that he thought 'The Price' was a bit of a boring name for a band. I said something like 'that's good coming from someone who called their group 'The Tom Robinson Band'...'

You know that feeling when you've just said something and then thought 'why on Earth did I just say that?' I got that feeling then.

I was offered a piece of birthday cake last night. It didn't seem right to accept it. Happy birthday Tom!

And here are some photos from last month's Otley gig with T.V. in Otley - no sign of Mr. Saville... and a very special line-up of The Flying Squad are playing this coming Sunday at Tropic At Ruislip; full details on the venue website, it promises to be quite an evening!

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