Tuesday, February 23, 2016

European Son

So - the people of Great Britain are to vote on whether or not they think that the country should stay in the European Union. Exciting eh? 
Actually most people that I've spoken to seem to think that 'exciting' is probably the very last word that they'd associate with it. Is it just me or is nobody outside of headbanging right wingers and careerist politicians even the slightest bit interested in it? Nevertheless it gave rise to an amusing start to the week yesterday, when a BBC film crew turned up in Uxbridge to film local shopkeeper's opinions on the upcoming EU referendum. Excellently they started in Balcony Shirts - I managed to keep well out of the way of the camera (do not play, do not give the game away!) while Scott did a splendid job, making a 'EU IN OR EU OUT?' t-shirt while recounting the story of the shop's 'Uxbridge Says Yes To Boris' and 'Uxbridge Says No To Boris' shirts. All good stuff, and lots of publicity for both the t-shirt shop and our friends in Nightfly Records and Horsepower Hairdressing. And why not?

Meanwhile it's been four gigs in four days for your humble narrator, starting on Thursday night with the first visit this year for Big Al Reed and The Blistering Buicks to The Sunningdale Lounge. A friend of Al's got up and played two songs on bass ('Mustang Sally'  and 'My Babe' since you were wondering - I thought that he crammed in a few too many notes, but that's probably just me) and a similar thing happened next night at The Halfway House in Rickmansworth where another of Al's pals got up and played harmonica (rather well as it happens) on 'Hoochie Coochie Man'. We got through our Saturday night show at The Black Horse in Greenford without any similar incidents and it was probably the best show of the three although none of them were exactly bad gigs. Then on Sunday afternoon The Upper Cut returned to The Queen's Arms in Colnbrook for a boisterous performance which wasn't perhaps our most technically accurate show ever but which certainly had plenty of energy.

This week it's back to Dollis Hill and Harefield for Big Al and the boys. Continuation continues... 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

'Well well well well - you're just a...'

Well the quiet couple of weeks are now but a distant memory - since the last posting there have been Ruts D.C. recording sessions with James Knight at Pat Collier's excellent Perry Vale Studios as well as rehearsals at The Music Complex in Deptford and a gig at The 100 Club along with a splendid Big Al Reed and The Blistering Buicks gig at The Horns in Watford. All good stuff (apart from a rather odd occurrence at the 100 Club show, but more about that in a minute) and it was great to busy again.

The studio sessions went well. Very well. Another seven songs were started, meaning that we now have 14 tracks coming together. There's still a long way to go and a lot of work to be done but I for one am very optimistic that we're going to release a great album in September. There should be a single out before then - more news as and when I have it as they (whoever 'they' are) say.

The recordings took place last Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; we'd rehearsed for them on Monday (and since we're being pedantic, the previous Thursday and Friday as well) leaving just Friday 12th available for us to prepare for our gig the next evening. We only booked three hours, which turned out to be just enough time - it had been over two months since our last gig, and it's amazing what you can forget in that time... also we'd decided to include a previously unperformed song 'Kill The Pain' in our set, which put a bit more pressure on us time-wise. Admittedly we didn't have to play it, but you know what it's like once you've got an idea in your head... 

Saturday was one of those nights where there were lots of things happening in good ol' London Town; with The Who at The Wembley Arena and The Godfathers, Department S and Eight Rounds Rapid at The Garage in Islington (guess which one I would have been at!) among other appealing events. I don't mind admitting that I wasn't sure that we'd have much of an audience. Still we were on with The Members and The Newtown Neurotics so it was a good bill, hopefully that would attract a few people?
As I queued up to get back into the venue (yes, I know I could have done the 'I'm in the band' thing but that's not really me is it?) I realised that any fears I had about a low audience turnout were thankfully unfounded - at not long after half past eight the place was already getting full and The Newtown Neurotics were going down a storm. They sounded great, as did The Members who I saw at the same venue only a few weeks ago and if anything sounded even better this time around. We went on around twenty past ten - by halfway through it was clear that this was going to be a night to remember, and afterwards several people told me that they'd already seen the best gig of the year. I wonder if they'll be proved right? As a performance it was an absolute pleasure to be part of - which makes the incident that preceded it all the more peculiar. I was told by a friend that the compare, who clearly has some sort of, er, problem, had used a very rude word to refer to your humble narrator during his bizarre appearance onstage after the Members's show. (Incidentally we'd banned him from introducing us - you're about to realise why!) I didn't hear it myself so I asked around a bit, and it seems that he'd made a comment along the lines of 'the guitarist in the next band is a Liverpool fan, but if he says that he's from Liverpool he's a lying c@*t'. A strange incident - I'd make more of it, but what's the point? After all, if said ugly overweight hysterical nonentity - perhaps he could market himself as 'The Fat Out-Of-Controller'? - wants to see an actual 'lying c@*t' then all he has to do is look into a mirror.

So there you have it - a great few days. Back to the pub gigs this weekend. But that's alright too.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

'Turn and face the strange...'

41 years ago today, on the 7th February 1975, Dr. Feelgood recorded this still-extraordinary live performance which was broadcast a few days later on the teatime television show 'The Geordie Scene'. I remember it oh-so very well - I was 13 years old at the time, and came in from school just as the programme was starting. After the suitably cheesy introduction (this was the 1970s after all!) from Dave Eager (whatever happened to him eh?) Wilko, Lee, Sparko and The Big Figure roared into what for them was probably just another live performance but what was for me and people like me literally life-changing. As Wilko tore into his first jaw-dropping guitar solo I dragged my Mum in from the back kitchen to watch it with me - she was a bit of a rock 'n' roller back in the day and said that she liked it although she could have just been humouring me I suppose... anyway she went back to making our dinner while The Feelgoods hammered the riff to 'Roxette' home. By the time the credits rolled over 'Route 66' things had changed, and more than I could ever realised at the time. I went up to my room in a daze - I'd heard of the band and that they were supposed to be good, but nothing had prepared me for what I'd just seen. Amazing. It still feels exciting to be writing about it just over four decades later. 
I went into school the next day as usual but as I say, things had changed. I enthused to my music-loving mates about the show that I'd seen the day before - a couple of them liked it but most of them didn't, they thought that the band looked a bit daft especially that weird guy on the guitar, surely you didn't think that they were any good did you? No you should listen to 'real' music like ELPYes and Genesis, not some bunch of herberts from the seaside.
Hmmm. Maybe I'd been wrong. After all when you're 13 you don't want to be the odd one out do you?
Except of course, I hadn't been wrong. And it took me a while to realise it, but it's actually alright to be the odd one out. 

Incidentally Mum died 15 years ago today. How I wish she was here to watch the show again with me now.

It's been a busy week - I spent a day recording guitars with James Knight, two days rehearsing with Ruts D.C. at The Music Complex in Deptford working on songs and arrangements for this week's recording sessions, played with Big Al Reed and The Blistering Buicks at The General Eliott in Uxbridge on Friday and with The Upper Cut at The Salmon And Ball in Bethnal Green last night as well as working a couple of days in the shop. But this week it's all about more 'Psychic Attack' album sessions - oh and a gig at The 100 Club on Saturday. We haven't played live for over two months, so we'd better rehearse for that too. I told you that it's ok to have a quiet couple of weeks sometimes didn't I?

Still that all starts tomorrow. Today I'm going to play 'Down By The Jetty'. Again. See you in 1975.