Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Garden of serenity

Tommy Ramone, the last surviving original member of The Ramones, has died. It may well be something of a cliche but I'm going to say it anyway - The Ramones's first album changed everything. Well, it did for me and others like me. I remember hearing the 'Blitzkrieg Bop' single for the first time and I can honestly say that I'd never heard anything like it before. (I had a similar experience with 'New Rose' by The Damned a few months later) I'm certainly not one to say that all mid-70s rock music was tired and uninspired, but as I recall there were far too many badly-dressed people singing half-hour long songs about goblins - the time was right for change, and The Ramones were definitely at the forefront of that change. For many they remain the definitive punk rock band, with their extraordinary stripped-down approach inspiring a lot of bands and musicians to take a similar view on how rock music could and indeed should be played. Have a look at this magnificent footage recorded at London's Rainbow Theatre on New Year's Eve 1977, the night their seminal 'It's Alive!' album was recorded - that, my friends, is actual rock 'n' roll. R.I.P. Tommy Ramone - Hey Ho, Let's Go, to heaven...

In the meantime I played two gigs with two different bands this weekend, both at private partiesAt events such as these I always remind myself that the guests are not there to see a band but to see their friends and family, and as such it can often appear as though they're all but ignoring the musical entertainment. Mind you sometimes they are! On Friday night The Repertoire Dogs played at a 60th birthday party at Mapledurham Golf Club. I was depping for regular guitarist Mick Ralphs who was away in America with Bad Company (talk about getting a better offer!) and since it was a warm night the club had all the bar doors open. When we went on for our first set at 9.15 most people were outside on the patio, and many of them stayed there although a few came in to listen and to watch. With bacon sandwiches and chips on offer more were in for our second set, and by the end pretty much all the guests were up and dancing. Not so the following
The Blistering Buicks equipment,
sneering at the threat of rain
from the safety of the gazebo.
evening, when Big Al Reed and The Blistering Buicks played a garden party (apparently there was no event, they just fancied a party) near Woking. Initial confusion as to which side of the swimming pool we were to set up on gave way to discussions along the lines of 'it looks like it could rain so shouldn't we perhaps be under that gazebo over there?' After all, we wouldn't be too close to the inflatable beach volleyball court, and we'd be nowhere near the bungee run... eventually we set up under said gazebo and played two sets to initial curiosity, general indifference and, somewhat inevitably, complaints at the end that we weren't playing an encore even though no one had actually asked for one. Still it wasn't a bad performance (and it didn't rain!) although having not played in the band for the best part of a month I forgot a few too many cues than I would have liked. Time for some revision before our next gig methinks.

And talking of next gigs, mine couldn't be a greater contrast to these two, as it's with The London Sewage Company this Thursday at The 100 Club supporting Menace and The Morgellons; after that it's three shows with Ruts D.C., details of which can be found here on the band's Facebook page as well as a last minute appearance (I only got the call yesterday!) depping with The Sex Pistols Experience at Guilfest on Saturday. Great stuff!

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