Friday, September 30, 2011

Dear Diary:1980 - July

It's holidays a go-go for July. A school camping trip to Danbury, where Dave Wright and I were wedged cat/fire brigade style up a tree while the school bus was rumbling its engines,  readying to head home.

Off to Surrey for and Auntie Sylv and Uncle Wally's, as I'd signed up for week long drama course in Leatherhead. I'd mentally doodled with the idea of becoming an actor at the time - but was plainly so shoulder-cringingly shy, it was never going to happen. Bless mum and dad for indulging me with a week to find out though. The week's group was an eccentric collective, mostly pooled from bored broker wives in velour tracksuits or soon-to-be-Sloane Ranger types. Except Eileen (22nd)- who looked like Oliver Cromwell in a tutu.

Keeping with the theme of theatrics, and amost as a  reprise of last month's Johnny Rotten run-out, was my improv school disco rendition of Sid Vicous doing My Way (16th). I'd slipped my copy of the single to the metalwork teacher turned DJ, and became so fired up when the slow-groaning opening notes came into play - I was off, miming Sid's gangly moves to the tune. It went down a treat. Spontaneous applause from the disco teens and pats on the back from pals. Even the RE tutor bought me a celebratory orange squash..

Next stop, Sale in Cheshire (never say 'in Manchester') for a week parked up with Uncle Les and Auntie Jean.  A run on the Corkscrew and terrifying dad by shaking our cable car during its slow-dragging, dangle-of-doom across the Alton Towers estate were trip highlights. All this and Blackpool too

A bit thin on records bagged this month though. Just Charlie Harper's (he of the UK Subs) solo single on snot-green vinyl..

Charlie Harper - Barmy London Army

Keep 'em peeled for a mad mix of metal and AOR in the charts

Top 75 singles

Top 75 albums

Seen in Swindle-vision at Southend's Odeon on the 19th - would you believe 31 years later, I'm nipping to our Rock 'n' Roll local to catch Tenpole Tudor in action this Saturday..

Sid does it his way...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Down at the Doctors

The full set of Muppet band (Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem) concert posters are viewable here 

Take a seat and wait to be called - is the tone of tonight's tunes. Bo Diddley-Itis, Fever, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) are all on this evenings sick-list.

Natter-wise we may be compiling a list of acts and artists that sound like medical conditions, or perhaps a list of fictional Doctors. And rolling out a few fruity new DIY jingles from Drakey Girl and Phil Hubbard

If you're fit as fiddle drop by from 9 tonight, if you're fit to drop - take two aspirin, tuck up in bed and tune in to Chance Radio  for tonight's Radio Podrophonia doings

Tom Jones - Dr Love

Lee Perry's Doctor on the Go. The bizarrest refit of a TV theme.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Dear Diary:1980 - June

In June, Ye Olde PC went pop and the scanner had a sympathetic breakdown - but after a summer break Dear Diary is back and we're rewinding through time to 1980...

'Acted mental' is a phrase that appears more than it should - and during school time too! Well it was the 80s. Waddya mean that's no excuse...

The Belgian trip was a deathly early start and parked up in Brugge by mid-morning, so can you imagine what grave-quaking hour I must have been pulled from my pit to set off on a rattle-about coach. Pictured below on the the Brugge run, my GStQ tee is the one bagged (at the Chelsea Drugstore) on my first King's Rd visit - 16th here

And two smashed windows in one week. First on the 15th (not mentioned) - in the Arts Festival heats. I'd been doing some wiry flailing as a fidgety impression of Johnny Rotten, miming to Satellite and somehow (God only knows how) ended up lumping a slatty ventilation window out if it's fixings, sending it shattering to the ground two floors below. We didn't qualify for the next round of heats..

Records bought included Crass (possibly Stations of the Crass ), Simon Templar/Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps Please - and from Woolworths, Christine when the singles were racked on the shelves in their chart positions..

Siouxsie and The Banshees - Christine

Splodgenessabounds - Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps Please

 Low-level (and non) charters bagged were Human League, The Plasmatics, Discharge - and the Pistols. Although just over a year on from buying my first Pistols single, and the darker, saltier antics of Crass and Discharge - fatigue from Virgin's flogging a dead horse ethics were setting in. Otherwise the charts looked like this...

Top 75 singles 

Top 75 albums

She's back - our showy chum from across the street - LOTR near the bottom. 'done 3 hours gardening'

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Crime and Punishment

No, no, not Dostoyevsky's doings - but the theme for tonight's Radio Podrophenia - Joe Loss, Sammy Davis Jr and Scroobius Pip all have criminal records that are up before the beak from 9 tonight on Chance Radio...

Acouple fab galleries of 'you're nicked' ne'er-do-wells worth having a squint at are..... musical mug shots and Amish mug shots 

Mel Tormé - Catch a Robber by the Toe

Friday, September 16, 2011

Richard Hamilton's forgotten creation - Roxy Music

If there was one person (aside from Bryan Ferry) instrumental in tooling the shape and scope of early era Roxy Music it was Richard Hamilton, Bryan Ferry's tutor and mentor at the University of Newcastle. The artist behind collages, constructs and installations with titles that won't be unfamiliar to Roxy/Ferry fans..

The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass),
This Is Tomorrow

And 'Just what is it that makes today's homes so different, so appealing?' - the 'deluxe and delightful' 'smart town apartment' source material for In Every Dream Home a Heartache.

As Ian Dury, Adam Ant and the Velvets absorbed their visuals from Peter Blake, Allan Jones and Andy Warhol - Bryan ferry's assembly of art graduates and academics in retro-futrist finery - sculpting, styling and framing them into something as much pop art as much as pop group - is entirely Richard Hamilton's influence refined and re-rendered for the rock format

I was lucky enough to nip along (twice) to the Whitechapel Gallery earlier this year to catch the This is Tomorrow retrospective - showing the blueprints and background to the 1956 Brit-pop Art expo,  breaking down Just What is it.... to it's component parts: muscle mags, moon-shoots, modernist living and comic book romance tales celebrating and selling shiny new futures and glossy modern exotica. All off which, really, are a base-build materials for the early Roxy Music albums

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

D is for Diamonds, Dogs and...

The original DDartwork - by Guy Peellaert, the artist, clocked by Bowie on this Stones cover

The Great Dame...also Dick Dale (the shout of Johnny Medd) - perhaps The Damned, but certainly our first live studio session from Canvey's Darren Jones, and a monthly round-up from Fi Jacobs of what's on at Southend's most Rock 'n' roll local - The Railway Hotel

All tonight from 9 on Chance Radio.. I'm opening with Diamond Dogs - the K-tel edit versh - snipped to fit the Best of Bowie. Lend an ear below and see if you can spot which bit of Dogs got lopped off

David Bowie - Diamond Dogs (the K-tel edit versh)


Friday, September 9, 2011

The Good, the Bad and the Reggae

Being a vintage-listening type, ex-Beta Bander Steve Mason's Boys Outside was one of the few 2010 releases to make my end of year round up. Twelve months on he's revisited and refitted the album. Winging in Dennis Bovell to reggae up the setlist - Ghosts Outside is experiments in dub that are King Tubby style, rather than XTC.

The Remix Album is a phrase that you can have you cringing a shoulder or hovering a finger over the skip button. Worst case scenario it's both - usually on projects where some offstage bod is invited onboard to twiddle about a bit, re-sculpting the songs in their favour. Scooping out great chunks of tune and re-filling the spaces where the best bits once were with - soulless fru-fru and whizzery.

So hurrah for Dennis Bovell. All the original hooks and harmonies remain safely in place but the already loose grooves are bulked up with dub so deep you could fall in and never be seen again. Boy's Outside's base-build of slow-drifting tempos and winterish whispers has been warmed up and reheated with looping reverb, ghostly echoes and chunky lumps of thud and thump insulating the newly installed walls of noise. It's not a record to be ignored or used for ambience, but engineered to be heard at high volume.

Steve Mason & Dennis Bovell - Yesterday Dub by DominoRecordCo

In other off-beat offerings: Mick Jagger, Joss stone and Dave Stewart's new project - Superheavy release their debut single - Miracle Worker. My take on it here

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Pop Quiz: Music for Schools and Colleges

Piley and I go back to school this evening, not in the literal sense, but by assembling a register of 12 tunes to be called tonight: XTC, Ben Folds Five, The Casanovas and a legendary blues-grinder gets on the good 'n' funky foot - but who is it ? Find out from 9 on Chance Radio.

Subjects on the timetable for chat and natter are likely to's/TV we've never seen. School based songs/bands...Prefect Day, Dexy's Cross Country Runners - you get the idea...

But for today's test, which  Schools and College progs were these the themes for?


Nearly but not quite as there's too much noodle-doodle do for tonight's doings


Friday, September 2, 2011

Paul Gray: Ace bass player of Eddie and the Hot Rods and The Damned on the rise of the Rods, pub rock and punk festivals

When you're next nipping about the local newsagent, convenience shop or W H Smith, keep your peepers peeled for Vive Le Rock issue 4 ( The Specials cover). Pitched alongside The Damned, The Specials, Suzi Quatro interviews, reviews and features, you'll find an Eddie and the Hot Rods special marking the 35th Anniversary of the Teenage Depression album - by me of all the things! 

Exclusive anecdotes (starring our own John Medd), band history and an interview with long-haul frontman/vocalist Barrie Masters are bagged as part of the celebratory bundle. One piece we couldn't squeeze in however was a natter with the ex-Hot Rodder, Damned member and UFOer that is - legendary bass player and local lad (Canvey) Paul Gray. So tuck in below, and as bonus, lend an ear to Hit or Miss. The Hot Rods out-take that later appeared reworked on The Damned's Black Album. 

What was the general vibe of the gig scene and circuit during the mid seventies. With the mix of salty seaside pubs and inner London boozers it must have been like playing in a bear pit at times.
They were full of characters from what I was a bit like playing in a set from Minder sometimes...sticky floors awash with Charrington’s IPA and a thick fug of Capstan Full Strength...shitty gear breaking down and crackling all over the gaff. Fights breaking out, and of course the IRA bombs were going off everywhere, we honestly never knew if we'd get home alive some nights  

What were the good, the bad and the ugly Southend/Canvey venues
We hardly played our home town - the Kursaal a few times, the football club...I played Southend with Captain Sensible last Xmas and found a little caff behind the Kursaal that I remember going to in 76...same old Greek couple running it, dead as a dodo in there, but one of the last remaining bits of the old Sarfend left, and kinda know that in a few years time it will have gone and been turned into a tattoo parlour or something  

What sort of sound were the band aiming for and how close to it did you get.
We had absolutely no master plan, simply plugged in, hit things and it sounded the way it did...our manager Ed played us loads of different music, he was a huge music fan, sat in his caravan drinking tea and skinning up and listening to Peter Tosh, MC5, The Doors, Live at Leeds, J Geils, Muddy Waters, The Stooges, Byrds, Nuggets and Arthur all sort of got absorbed I guess...we were definitely into being full on though, gave us the energy and drove us on...  

Zig Zag Magazine, May 1976

How were Eddie and The Hot Rods - these R 'n' B beating estuary swamp dwellers - received by london audiences at the time.
Really well and really quickly - right place, right time...the Feelgoods had paved the way for us and the others that followed - the pub rock scene was small but thriving, Chilli Willi & the Red Hot Peppers, Brinsley Schwarz, Stray, Kursaal Flyers and I think we kinda breezed along and blew it wide open and made it more accessible to a younger audience. I remember playing the Red Cow in Hammersmith, one week us with 30 punters, next week AC/DC with 40, next us with 50...kept building like that...  

Why did the Hot Rods and other similar bands return to the short, sharp, snap of R 'n' B (rather than the roots of rock and roll) - creating a form of a matured mod music
No idea. I'd grown up learning T .Rex and Slade and Hawkwind basslines, and I thought that was exciting, but when I plugged in with the Rods it was like mainlining 240 volts...suited the mood at the time maybe?  

In an almost tidal movement Essex bands were a major influence on punk. Were you aware of the scale of the developing scene, or young punks cribbing moves and techniques
Not really - I was 16, had no idea how it was meant to be. It just was! I was aware of course that the audiences quickly became less beardos and more younger kids with attitude, but the bands all developed this sort of mistrust bollocks and skirted around each other, except for the Damned, who subscribed to the same hell for leather attitude as us. Joe Strummer used to watch us like a hawk when he supported us for weeks on end at our residency at The Nashville in Kensington with his 101ers soon as that finished he disbanded them and formed the Clash...Weller was well aware of us too...the list goes on really...  

Apart from smashed equipment any other outstanding memories of the Marquee gig with Pistols as support band. Or Mont De Marsan Festival (first European Punk Festiva) with The Damned  
Only that they were fucking dreadful and McClaren was issuing them directions when to kick stuff over...M de M was a haze of beer and sulphate, I don't think any band played at less than 100 mph and that the promoter Marc Zermati was smacked out of his tree, bless 'im...given the state of the bands involved after a few days of no sleep and constant partying it may have been a pretty good option for him. I do remember the Damned though. Frighteningly brilliant, and in those days Vanian was all over the stage like a mad thing.  

EatHR and other working class music from this era seems to have an energy driven by escape, change and more to the world than the old home life and traditional trappings - mirrored from Sex Pistols to springsteen's Born to Run to the Hot Rods and their peers (even spilling into Saturday Night Fever) What do you think was driving this.
It simply seemed a perfectly natural thing for us to do - play the music we wanted to play and bollocks to what anyone else was doing or if they liked it or not. Some sort of escapism for sure, but we genuinely never really took it seriously. But whatever we did seemed to strike a chord with a lot of other kids our age, no nonsense, unpretentious, fired up rock n roll. And personally speaking a helluva lot more fun than sitting crossed legged nodding off to Genesis.  

How did your time in the Hot Rods shape you as a musician and was it a musical apprenticeship for your career
Absolute apprenticeship. No idea really what I was doing, bit it fitted great with the others! It was learning on the job, 300 gigs a year, and on days off probably recording, usually first take. Get the vibe down, fuck the mistakes! We never really rehearsed, knocked ideas around in the soundcheck and said "Great lets sling it in tonights set!". And absolutely the opposite of my later years in UFO when we spent months on end holed up in a dreary Birmingham rehearsal room which was deadly and took all the spark away. Mind you, the Damned never rehearsed, either.  

Have you heard the budget Top of the Pops album version of Do Anything You Wanna Do
Ha ha no but I'd love to, where can I get it? (here}  

Do you think the Hot Rods are due for a Feelgoods style reappraisal?
Due? We're fucking years overdue mate!

Hit or Miss is an unreleased Hot Rods tune better known for being on The Damned's Black Album 
Paul Gray: The Damned thought they could do a better version, but I've always prefered the Rod's one myself..  

Eddie and The Hot Rods - Hit or Miss

Point to note: Paul Gray's 'Punk' shirt on The Rod's September '76 appearance

Click on the pic to buy

Paul Gray official website

Eddie and the Hot Rods official website