Sunday, November 08, 2015

Thinking outside of the boxset

Good news for old punks such as myself - a series of box sets featuring bands signed to Virgin Records back in the day have been put together by Captain Oi! Records supremo Mark Brennan; somewhat inevitably it's the Ruts one that's been causing the most excitement in our house, but with collections by the likes of The Professionals, The Skids, Penetration and The Motors also available there's much to enjoy here. Most if not all can be purchased through the Captain Oi website - go on, you know you want to...

Not-such good news also arrived this week - Cockney Rejects bass player Tony Van Frater has died aged just 51. I can't pretend to have been his best mate, but I can honestly say that every conversation that I had with him was an absolute pleasure. He would always ask me how to play the Ruts song 'West One (Shine On Me)' - having spent far too long attempting to wind him up with answers like 'that's between me and Paul Fox' I eventually said that I'd show him it; he smiled, told me the chords and said that he'd known them all along. A cheerful and witty man, he will be missed by many.

Back to basics for me this weekend, with two gigs for The Upper Cut and a show with Big Al Reed and The Blistering Buicks. The Upper Cut shows were both at regular haunts for the band (The Dolphin in Uxbridge on Friday and The Salmon And Ball in Bethnal Green on Saturday) and were tricky from your humble narrator's point of view as my normally trusty Gibson SG decided to malfunction. I thought it sounded a bit strange at the first gig, but decided it was just my ears; however after a few songs on Saturday it was clear that there was a problem with the pick-up selector switch - it was sticking in one position and crackling in another. After attempting to fix it during the show by swearing at it (Oh come on, we all do it don't we?!?) I had a closer look at halftime - the retaining nut had come loose so I tightened it up and got through the second set although there was still something obviously wrong. I opened the guitar up on Sunday morning and re-soldered the joints on the switch (dry joints are the enemy!) and used a generous amount of switch cleaner pretty much everywhere - thankfully it all sounded good when I plugged it in so hopefully that's sorted it out. In comparison Sunday's gig at The Halfway House in Barnes with Big Al and co. was an uneventful affair in that it all went swimmingly well, which I don't mind admitting was something of a relief given the previous couple of evenings. 

After a gap of a couple of weeks it's now time for the next leg of Ruts D.C.'s Psychic Attack Tour 2015 - incredibly we are about to play 5 shows in Australia and 3 shows in New Zealand. I've not been to either country before, so to say that I'm looking forward to it all is something of an understatement - once again it is my intention that scribbly notes will be scribbled and Facebook postings will be posted, although as you can see it's going to be a busy couple of weeks...

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