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Chris Phillips – Keep Movin’ On – reviewed by Michelle Coomber

Chris Phillips is a singer/songwriter from South Wales who took a break from the music business for over a decade. He has returned after penning and producing his debut album which is available on iTunes. Rather than hide from his influences which include the Beatles, Stone Roses and Oasis, Chris irreverently revels in them. His honest passion rips through this album which is pleasingly less rebellious and attitude laden than expected. Chris has written a number of tunes that downplay bravado in favour of self-discovery and sensitivity but still contain some rocking moments which smack you in the face. The arrangements are lean and mean and put together with craftsmen’s ears. I get the feeling Chris Phillips is searching for something more and this is just the beginning.

‘Up In Lights’

We are treated to a strong intro with shades of Syd Barrett’s ‘Lucifer Sam’. The music is laid-back and sparkling, highlighted by some infectious guitar-playing and shifting textures with some vibrant riffing going on.

‘Hand In Hand’

Rocking and twisting guitar with a bit of electro-country in there. Chris takes the jaunty, post-Beatles singles format of the Sixties; brisk pacing, nostalgic hooks, sharp playing and impulsively veers off on unexpected tangents that are challenging without becoming inaccessible.

‘You’ll Be Fine’

The effortless acoustic guitar-playing eases you in at a gentle pace. A nod to ‘Lazy Afternoon’ during certain phases is a nice touch. An intriguing and appealing tune but I would like to hear a raw and unplugged version.

‘The Storm’

Another soft intro, a light dusting of piano brings in acoustic folky overtones. The gentle, reflective rhythms occasionally hint at vulnerability. A gospel choir and the sound of waves provide a dream-like mood. Probably the most easily accessible song on here and could be my favourite track.

‘Shoot Down The Storm’

The crisp, clean vocals with evocative lyrics tell a story against ethereal percussion and heavenly piano sounds. The song allows you to lose yourself without being brought down. This is an under-stated and subtle-shaded production with a delicious ending.

‘Breakdown’

Slightly raising the tempo, Chris puts his heart and soul into his songs; it would be interesting to read the poetical content which is threaded with trembling, sensual and whimsical tenderness. He writes of what he knows and that’s the secret. The heavenly choir return and I’m starting to look around for floating cherubs.

‘Show Me Your Love’

The influences are very evident on this track. Another memorable chorus and Chris is rocking the axe and his ass on this one. He adds something different to each song which presents a welcome surprise and he avoids unnecessary complications.

‘Hey Lady!’

Nice quirky Beatles’ sound. Lovely retro piano which is fun and quirky, it’s a musical doodle that makes me smile and doesn’t take itself too seriously. It has a warm and cosy feeling which isn’t a bad thing at all.

‘The Fear (Running Away)’

This track has the ability to really rock out by the end with earthy percussion kicking in but doesn’t really get going as I want it to. I can hear the Faces’ influence in there. Don’t hear that nearly enough these days.

‘Tomorrow’s Gonna Be Alright’

Classy final track, Chris’ voice really feels the lyrics. His rich guitar solo isn’t too self-indulgent and he finds just the right balance which doesn’t cloud the song. We are offered a modest yet effective ending. I like his style, less is more.

If you would like to purchase this Album from iTunes, then please click here.

Michelle ‘MimiVonTussle’

A child of the 50s, remembers the 60s, partied in the 70s and was hung-over in the 80s. Used to sit in David Bowie’s garden, Biba’s shop window and leaned on the jukebox in SEX, stood up occasionally. Raised in Fulham by very cool parents and a stone’s throw from The Nashville, The Greyhound, Hammersmith Odeon and Kings Road. Still mourns the Speakeasy and Wardour Street’s Marquee plus other deceased London music venues and greasy spoons. Worked for Mary Quant in the 70s and enjoyed the social scene that went with it. Was surrounded by punk squats in the mid-70s and hung out at Beggar’s Banquet basement studio watching bands drink and rehearse while avoiding electrocution. Went to Lindsay Kemp’s mime classes with punk goddess Jordan, we were both rubbish. Grew up with Paul Cook and got hit over the head by Sid’s guitar at the Speakeasy. Saw many iconic gigs back in the day including New York Dolls at Biba’s Rainbow Room and Ziggy Stardust’s farewell show at Hammersmith. Lived in NY & LA in ’79, mainly went to gigs and posed in a leather jacket. Worked in live events production for The Hippodrome in the 80s and produced and directed fringe theatre while working in film and TV in the 90s. Still dabbles in publicity work and writes scripts which gather dust. Works at Ealing Studios and recently formed a film production company. Always listening to music and reads constantly, re-learning guitar and loves all things creative. Still writes with pen and paper. Started to talk to people at bus stops.

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June 5, 2015 By : Category : Front page Indie Music Picks Reviews Tags:, ,
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In Conversation with Jenny Spires by Michelle Coomber

Michelle Coomber hosts a rare and exclusive interview with Jenny Spires, ex-girlfriend and lifelong friend of Syd Barrett. Jenny talks of her life with Syd and hanging out with Pink Floyd, her experiences with the in-crowd and watching the moon landing with Jerry Garcia! She shares her memories of those she holds dear and the iconic places she frequented during iconic times. Jennifer Gentle, the beautiful lady with a true rocking soul.

Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like?

I was born in Jamaica but grew up in Cambridge. My childhood was very free, if a little solitary. I had two older brothers; one of them used to read all the time and the other was into sport and played a lot of football. Occasionally, I was allowed to tag along but not often. There were few girls of my age living nearby, but we all went to different schools, so we didn’t really get to know each other until I started to ride. This brought me into contact with local girls going to Pony Club camps and Gymkhanas.

I was a restless child; I had a bike and was allowed to go out and about, so I would go off for the day. Turning right took me towards the village, I used love going to the Blacksmiths and often hung around there or I’d cross the railway tracks to the chalk hills of The Nine Wells and The Beech Woods. Turning left took me into Grantchester, past Byron’s Pool and on to the Grantchester Meadows. It was a fabulous playground for any child with very little traffic and open countryside to wander. I had started to take ballet classes on my arrival in England and continued with this until I left Cambridge at seventeen, so that was a big part of my life over the years, too.

Were you the archetype ‘Wild Child’?

I wasn’t at all. Having older brothers brought me into contact with some very cool music. Rock & Roll, Blues and Folk. But it took forever for my Mother to allow me to wear pedal pushers, for example, or jeans, come to that. Though, by the time I was eight, my brother had tuned me in to Elvis, The Everly Brothers, Jerry Lee Lewis, Richie Valens, Lonnie Donegan, Huddie Ledbetter, T-bone Walker, the Platters, Fats Domino, James Brown, Woody Guthrie, Jessie Fuller etc. Coming to Dylan and the sixties’ rock scene was a natural progression.

We had to write news books at school and I’d regularly write things like “Last night I listened to Bony Maronie”, or some such thing. Then my book would be returned with “See me” on the bottom of the page and I would have to explain all this to my teacher. I think she assumed I lived in a wild place, but it was a very regulated and orderly home. My father worked for The MRC and my parents were just normal, but I was getting turned on to Bessie Smith, Ella Fitzgerald, Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekala. Later, when my brother was boarding at school, my dance studio was above the best and only record shop in town. After classes, I would head on down to the basement to the listening booths and get the Stones, the Kinks, Them, the Pretty Things, the Beatles, the Animals, The Who, Small Faces etc.

When did you start going to music venues?

Gradually, I began to go the youth club and local dances, but it was always about the music for me. I quickly learned the dance of the day, but I was totally disinterested in boys and found it disconcerting when they asked me to dance. I preferred to dance on my own because I thought they couldn’t dance. I found these kinds of dances didn’t give me the Drifters or Charles and Inez Foxx, though.

Cambridge had a few music venues. The Corn Exchange was a skating rink and sometimes put on local bands. There was a thriving bands scene in Cambridge.  The early sixties was a very creative time. Somehow, I had acquired a taste for Atlantic Soul and Motown, so I’d go to London to find this music. I started to try to and see these artists when they came to the UK, but I was still pretty young and they never came to Cambridge, so I would go with girlfriends to Stevenage Mecca, where I saw Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding etc and the mod boys could certainly dance there!

When I was fourteen, I saw the fourteen year old Stevie Wonder in Bishops Stortford performing ‘Finger Tips’, fabulous! These live performances really got to me. I started going to London clubs with a couple of girlfriends. We’d say we were staying over at each other’s homes but we went to London to hear Georgie Fame at The Flamingo or Long John Baldry at The Scene and take in The Yardbirds at the The Marquee. I did this for quite a time and my parents didn’t catch on at all. I wasn’t a wild child, though. Quite a lot of my friends were doing the same thing and more. 

You became Syd Barrett’s girlfriend in the sixties and remained a lifelong friend. How did you both meet?

My middle brother was at Cambridge Tech and friends with people from the art school and he was really good mates with Steve Pyle. They were ‘beats’ and drank in pubs a lot. One very cold December night in 1964, we went to The CSU Cellars to see an art school band called Those Without. Steve was drumming and Syd was playing bass. During sets, he sat down and introduced himself.  He told me he was at art school in London and played in a band which had just changed its name from the Tea Set to the Pink Floyd. An odd name, I thought, but he went on to tell me they were just making some demo tapes hoping this would get them a residency in London. I was fifteen and a half.

Those Without wasn’t great. Probably, a typical art school type of shuffle. Syd asked to meet up and go for coffee and he rang me a few days later and we arranged to meet at a cafe called The Guild but he was a little put out that I’d brought a friend along. She soon went off, however, and we walked back to his mum’s house in Hills Road where he was staying for the Christmas holidays. He showed me his paintings and I was fascinated by him. I saw him again before he went back to college. He played at the Victoria Ballroom and I was there with friends but I didn’t really speak to him.

Unbeknown to me, he’d sketched me at the Union Cellar, and a couple of days after New Year, this beautiful pink tissue-wrapped letter arrived with a sketch of me and his address in London, asking me to write to him. I did, and then he was home at the weekend. He came home every weekend except for when he was playing. And mostly, if he was playing, I went to London with him.

How did your life change after meeting Syd?

It was strange really, because suddenly my life changed from full on clubbing to having a boyfriend at art school in London who used to write to me all the time saying he loved me and telling me about his life at college and his band. My parents really liked him, and he could drive, and I saw him every weekend. He would phone and we’d chat and he’d come to get me and we’d do some cool stuff. He was lucky enough to have kept his room at home where he had canvasses, a guitar, amp and all his painting paraphernalia.

Occasionally, I wanted to go out with my friends and he was fine about that, but mostly we’d listen to music and chat about college and have fun going to the cinema and all those things, really. We were very close, he wanted photos of me and sent me photos of himself, but I soon realised that he’d had another girlfriend before me, he was nineteen and she was older and still living nearby. Libby and he were still friends and I gathered that she was quite upset that they’d split up, but she had another boyfriend by then. Well, things did pan out with Syd and I wasn’t bothered at all by their friendship. Syd and I carried on going out until just before the summer. It was very loving and very intense. We discussed all things in the universe and under the sun; marriage, children, love, sex, books, literature, the world, philosophy, art, music, poetry. It was a lovely, cosy time.

What were your personal thoughts on having a steady relationship at this particular time?

I was thinking about my situation and realised that having a steady boyfriend wasn’t best for me at the time and it was too intense, I had my O levels and it was all getting too much. I wanted to leave school and go to Lucie Clayton. I saw modelling as an extension of my dance training for some reason. I auditioned and got in but my father wouldn’t let me go. He said I was too young and I had to go back to school, it was difficult. I was going away in the holidays and decided I wanted to take some time out. Syd was upset but I was determined, so we just drifted apart but he was my first boyfriend and that always seemed to draw us back together over the years.

He played at my sixteenth birthday in July and when he went back at college he was still writing to me and phoning, he would say how he was missing me. We carried on writing right up to Easter of 1966 and we still went out but not all the time. He was very patient, when I think about it!

I think he was going out with Lindsay by now and they were moving into Earlham Street together. I was in London by the late summer of 1966, my father having relented and let me go to Lucie Clayton. I was visiting Syd and Lindsay and other friends from Cambridge and hanging out at 101. The Pink Floyd was gigging quite a lot and Syd was inviting me along to some of the shows. This continued to 1967, so I was around all the time until he left the band. During 1968, I didn’t see much of him on a regular basis until he took the lease on the flat at Wetherby Mansions.

Syd refers to you as “Jennifer Gentle” in his song ‘Lucifer Sam’, how did you feel when you first heard it and what is your favourite song by Syd?

Well, when I heard ‘Lucifer Sam’, I didn’t really think much about it. Of course, I think it’s a wonderful song; I love it. It seems to have one foot in the past, musically, and one in the future.  I was so used to hearing him sing and write songs and he had sent me poems and written songs to me in his letters, previously.  Also, I knew the story of ‘Lucifer Sam’ and wasn’t surprised by it. He often said to me “You’re so gentle and I love talking to you”, so it seemed normal, really. It is such well-known song now.

You worked for the same model agency as Kari-Ann Muller, who was Roxy Music’s first LP cover model. Who did you model for and what fashion style appealed to you?



(*Jenny appears in the fashion images in this film)

After I worked for Lucie Clayton, I joined Ossie Clarke’s English Boy in early 1967 and ended up on the head sheet hanging in the shop. I’d been hanging out at Granny Takes A Trip as I loved their clothes and was going to the Speakeasy and UFO and their clothes were off the wall! If you were on the scene by mid-1967 you’d be hanging out at Ossie’s shop Quorum in Radnor Walk, too. Hendrix had just hooked up with us and he was this wonderful, larger than life, shy gentle person. He really cut it.

I can’t ever remember doing much with Ossie because I seemed to lose all interest in the fashion modelling thing. I did some film extra work, but was more interested in just hanging out. I only met Kari-Ann briefly at this time. She was living at Beaufort Street and lots of mutual friends lived there, too. I used to visit Jocq and Sue who lived upstairs and I met up with Syd there. Twink and others were all living downstairs, so it was quite a large social scene. This is probably where Kari-Ann and Syd met briefly. He and Lindsay had split up but they got back together before the tour. Later, Lindsay also worked for English Boy and often with Kari-Ann, so they were friends and they both carried on modelling in to the 1970s. I loved Kari-Ann’s Roxy cover, it’s a classic.

The sixties and seventies saw many changes on a political and social level, especially for women. Did you get involved with political activism? How would you define these decades from your own experiences?

For me, this point in the 1960s was a high point in our cultural development. I was wholeheartedly behind the challenge with the authority of the day. We may not have got far with it, but it was good to see that thread so overtly picked up again with punk later. The whole philosophy clicked with me. I was an anti-war campaigner, although I was never politically active as such, ineffectual really, it was the zeitgeist – I was part of that consciousness.

One could not avoid having the seeds of feminism in one’s psyche as a woman. The 1960s, especially in the music business, was dominated by the boys. Part of my decision to stop modelling was to do with this. I disliked the way girls around bands were traipsed and draped; I didn’t want any part of it.  I loathed the whole groupie thing that grew in the States and became so big there. I still had this On the Road stuff going on with me. I was a Tomboy and that’s what probably appealed about being an English Boy for a while. I didn’t want to wear see-through, floating, organza clothes.  I liked strong lines with the notion of uni-sexual androgyny.  This independence stayed with me throughout. I still wear Levis, boots and leather jackets most of the time.

Peter Whitehead made a film in 1994 dedicated to Syd Barrett which is on YouTube and includes various live Pink Floyd footage and a promo trailer for his 1967 documentary ‘Tonite Let’s All Make Love In London’. What are your thoughts on this tribute film and also his controversial documentary which featured ‘Interstellar Overdrive’?


Yeh, interesting! I first met Peter in late 1966, I was seventeen. He was such a fascinating man, I thought he was wonderful and we became close. I loved his basic philosophy and was naturally fascinated by his filmmaking. When he showed me the footage for his film ‘Tonite Let’s All Make Love in London’, I suggested he use ‘Interstellar Overdrive’ for the music and he heard them play, he agreed. He met Syd a few years previously in Cambridge and knew I had been his girlfriend.  At the time, Ant Stern was Peter’s assistant and they came to UFO to hear the Floyd. Peter spoke to Pete Jenner and arranged to take them into Sound Techniques to record. They hadn’t done any recording at this time, although they were about to record ‘Arnold Layne’ which Syd had played to me over the Christmas holiday in Cambridge.

On January 11th or 12th we went down to film and record them. It’s a fantastic piece of filming on Peter’s behalf and brilliant for his film. He was the first to capture them at a time when they were virtually unknown but looking and playing so well.

Syd lodged with Duggie Fields in Earls Court after leaving Pink Floyd and the British music scene was exploding. Did you stay in touch with the band and did you observe the changes in Syd’s musical direction as a solo artist?

It was Syd’s flat and Duggie shared with him. They had shared together before when we were all at 101; Duggie is such a lovely man and so prolific. He immediately set to work painting, which I think was very good for Syd at the time. Duggie was so reliable and he had a very stabilising effect on Syd. He was out of the band and was behaving very strangely all through 1968. It was good that he showed some signs of sorting himself out by now. They moved in just before Christmas in 1968. Syd painted his floor blue and orange and then I moved in, too. For a while it seemed Syd and I were back together again, but right then, he wasn’t terribly well.

It had been a roller coaster of a couple of years for him and I was convinced he was suffering from nervous exhaustion. Naturally, I felt very protective of him. He had been the most articulate and interesting person I’d known but by now he was quiet and withdrawn. He was just doing nothing; he’d smoke a few cigarettes, drink tea and lie around listening to music. For us, it was a kind of strange continuity, since we had so much history, so we didn’t need to talk.  He didn’t want to go anywhere or see anyone. It was comfortable and that was enough. He was playing guitar and sang songs which I’d heard before, somewhere along the line, and I understood he wanted to put them together for an album. I never thought of it in terms of Syd moving into a solo career but I suppose that’s what he was doing.

What else was happening in your life at this point?

I had my own plans. I’d been invited to America by friends who had visited London in the fall of 1968. Syd wasn’t too happy about my leaving and asked me not to go but my mind was set and I wanted to do some travelling. Not long before I left, I bumped into Iggy, who had nowhere to live, so I took her back to the flat where there were several other people, too. Rusty and Gretta were regular visitors and it seemed the best thing to do. She didn’t know who Syd was but it was better that she didn’t at that time. However, she did know Duggie from their clubbing days, when she used to go to the Orchid Ballrooms, I think. Anyway, when I left, she was still there and when Storm and Mick arrived to do the cover for “Madcap” a few days later, she was wandering around with no clothes on, so they asked her to be in the shot. The rest is history and the cover is wonderful. When I saw it later, I thought it couldn’t have been better.

You sang backing vocals for the cult psychedelic band Art and their stunning LP cover for “Supernatural Fairy Tale” was created by the designers of Granny Takes A Trip! Did you have aspirations of becoming a musician or singer and did you write any songs?

I was never aware of who all the musicians on that record were. I was on the first Hapshash single and, yes, later on I auditioned for a band which never really came to anything. Shame, because I’d have loved that. I should have tried to get into some backing vocals, perhaps.

 You mixed with very creative and experimental people and you must have lived in the fast lane during this time. Did you attend the ‘14 Hour Technicolour Dream’ and go to gigs on Eel Pie island? Which events or places stand out most for you?

I didn’t ever go to Eel Pie Island.  I would have loved to have gone to the Crawdaddy in Richmond when I was doing the mod thing, but it was so far from Cambridge to be honest. Lots of great things came out of all that, but I was just that bit too young.

I did mix with some fabulously talented people and, indeed, I lived in the fast lane on the underground scene. Of course, we all went to ‘The 14-Hour Technicolor Dream’. Before this, I was at the launch of IT at the Roundhouse in October 1966 and the launch of UFO in December. I knew about ‘Wholly Communion’ which had taken place in 1965. I was hip to it all and going with Syd to the Spontaneous Underground at the Marquee and their London Free School gigs, I was very aware of the changes happening and, this for me, culminated in ‘The 14-Hour Technicolor Dream’. I think we were all pretty worn out by this time and I felt it was time for me to drop out a bit after 1967, which I did.

You moved to the States during the late-sixties, why did you move and who did you associate with during this period? 

I didn’t move to the States, I only visited friends there. It was a lovely travelling period for me. I saw all the things I wanted to see over the years and had a great time doing it. Of course, music was all important and I saw some of the greatest bands. Big Brother and the Holding Company with Janis Joplin, the Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, Quick Silver, Creedence Clearwater and I went across from California to the Woodstock Rock Festival. It meant that I had missed London, the Stones in Hyde Park and The Isle of Wight etc, but I was in America at an exciting time and  Santana were just out of this world. It was a fabulous festival of music.

You watched the first moon landing with Jerry Garcia which must have been pretty special! How did this friendship come about and what was he like?

Watching the moon landing with Jerry Garcia just came about through my having met some of the Grateful Dead when they were in London. I’m not sure why I happened to be at his place that day. It had been my birthday a couple of days before and I was on my way up to Oregon and stayed over there on my way. Jerry was a very generous host but he was quiet, really. He offered me drinks, but I don’t drink and I remember how he was surprised by that but we were so amazed at the moon landing and it was extraordinary for me hearing the Floyd play. I can’t really remember having any real meaningful or deep conversation with him. It was just very relaxed with just a few of us sitting around with food and wowing out on the moon landing.

There were many music venues in Cambridge including the Dandelion Cafe, Dolphin pub, Alley Cat and the existing Corn Exchange. It still has a thriving arts and music scene but what do you remember about the venues and people?

I never went to The Dolphin Pub because I was too young when it was active and I never really did pubs. I would meet friends in them or go in to play the juke box.  I often went to The Alley. Llater on, I would go there with Syd when he was in Cambridge or when he played there. The Corn Exchange had been a skating rink before it was a music venue and it was really exciting; A vault of a place with a wonderful wooden floor, so as you can imagine, the noise and the music was so loud, everyone was belting round the place which was great! I started to go to local bands’ gigs and when I came back from London, after I’d been in the States, a friend of ours called Steve Brink was putting on bands there including Hawkwind, the Pink Fairies and later, MC 5. It’s been refurbished over the years and I recently saw the Aussie Pink Floyd show which was amazing.

You were married to Jack Monck, bass player with the Pink Fairies, who formed the Stars with drummer Twink Alder and you were instrumental in persuading Syd to join them. However, his time with the band was short-lived. What was this period like for him?

I met Jack after I came back from the States. He was at Cambridge Tech when I went back to Cambridge for a while to take my A levels. I thought I’d go back to college and do something different in my life. I totally lost touch with the Floyd and other people. Jack ran a blues club called Juniper Blossom with his friend, the drummer Pip Pyle. When they moved to London, he and Pip were in the band Delivery with Carol Grimes.

In 1970, Jack left that band and we went back to Cambridge and lived near Huntingdon. Syd was at his mum’s home in Hills Road and I hooked up with him again. Jack wasn’t aware of who he was. He’d never really been on the London music scene. All he knew was that Syd was an old friend of mine and a musician, so there was no pressure. Syd had lost a lot of his wonderful, loquacious articulacy. He was a lot quieter but he’d giggle and beam at things that caught his attention and these moments lit the room. He was still very charismatic, his laughter was infectious and some of that remained.

He was relaxed whenever he came to see us, I was pregnant by now and he loved that. Anyway, he and Jack fell into a bit of jamming as we always had instruments at the cottage. I think Twink was also in Cambridge and, of course, I knew him from London. Somehow, we were going to the Kings Cellars to see Eddie ‘Guitar’ Burn play in early 1972. I think Jack was also playing, but that afternoon I was with Syd and asked him if he wanted to come long and I suggested that he bring his guitar because he might want to jam. So, we went to the gig and he jammed with Twink, Jack and others.

The next day, Jack and I went to see Twink where he was living above Steve Brink’s shop What’s In A Name, and I suggested that we go round and see Syd as he was living just up the road. I knew Syd was looking for people to play with and I thought here are two musicians; perhaps it would help him to play for a bit. So, I said it would be so nice for Syd to have someone to play with but I wasn’t particularly thinking of them actually forming a band, that idea seemed to evolve on its own as it were.

At this time, Syd was living in the basement at his mum’s house and she answered the door and invited us in. We went down into the tiny cellar with Syd and his usual stack of canvasses, guitars and music. The ceiling was so low that Jack and Twink sat on the bed. I had been looking at the canvasses with Syd and then I suggested it would be nice for them to play together. Everyone agreed and that’s how Stars came about, really. Syd loved it, he was never quite himself after his breakdown in London, but he was still up for doing things and seeing people.

What current artists do you enjoy and what are your favourite albums from your collection?

This is difficult. I love live music and my tastes are quite eclectic,but I’m more of a rocker. Recently, I was given Bob Dylan’s ‘Tempest’ which I love. I listen to all kinds of things from Bob Marley to Blur, I love Graham’s voice and guitar. I’m just setting some goal posts here and they take in an inordinate amount of music, the Incredible String Band, Soft Machine, Love, Peter Green, The Clash, Dr Feelgood, the Pretenders, the Cars, Cure, the Stones, Pink Floyd. The list is endless really!  I love some opera and what is generally termed as classical music, too. These days, there are some  really brilliant female vocalists around and that even includes some of the girl bands.

Tell us about your involvement in film production, are there any projects that you would like to plug?

I haven’t really had any involvement in film production as such, just yet. There is something in the pipeline at the moment, but I’m not really up for talking about it right now.

I attended the exhibition of Syd’s paintings, personal letters and writings at the former Idea Generation Gallery; it was both a fascinating and moving insight in parts of his life and thought processes. How do you think Syd would be living his life, if he was still with us today?

Well, those Exhibitions would not have taken place if he was still here. He’d have been quietly living his life, as he was. I truly believe he reached a level of contentment in his later life, though.

I sometimes wonder how he would have been if any of us had interrupted his flow. It was because we understood he didn’t want us to do that, therefore none of us did. It just shows how much we all loved and cared for him, that we didn’t. We’ll never know how it would have been, if we had. And that’s a sad thing for me, sometimes. All any of us wanted was the best for him. I still have a huge amount of respect for him.

What would you say to the sixteen year old Jenny Spires?

What a question! Well, I’d have to say have a good time and stay true.

How do you think Syd would like to be remembered?

I know he would love to be remembered for his wonderful songs. I think he would have loved to know how, deep down, he was really loved by all his friends from that time, too.

Thank you to Jenny Spires and also to Mike Herbage for his help in arranging this interview. 

Links:

sydbarrett.com

Michelle ‘MimiVonTussle’

A child of the 50s, remembers the 60s, partied in the 70s and was hung-over in the 80s. Used to sit in David Bowie’s garden, Biba’s shop window and leaned on the jukebox in SEX, stood up occasionally. Raised in Fulham by very cool parents and a stone’s throw from The Nashville, The Greyhound, Hammersmith Odeon and Kings Road. Still mourns the Speakeasy and Wardour Street’s Marquee plus other deceased London music venues and greasy spoons. Worked for Mary Quant in the 70s and enjoyed the social scene that went with it. Was surrounded by punk squats in the mid-70s and hung out at Beggar’s Banquet basement studio watching bands drink and rehearse while avoiding electrocution. Went to Lindsay Kemp’s mime classes with punk goddess Jordan, we were both rubbish. Grew up with Paul Cook and got hit over the head by Sid’s guitar at the Speakeasy. Saw many iconic gigs back in the day including New York Dolls at Biba’s Rainbow Room and Ziggy Stardust’s farewell show at Hammersmith. Lived in NY & LA in ’79, mainly went to gigs and posed in a leather jacket. Worked in live events production for The Hippodrome in the 80s and produced and directed fringe theatre while working in film and TV in the 90s. Still dabbles in publicity work and writes scripts which gather dust. Works at Ealing Studios and recently formed a film production company. Always listening to music and reads constantly, re-learning guitar and loves all things creative. Still writes with pen and paper. Started to talk to people at bus stops.

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June 16, 2015 By : Category : Articles Eyeplugs Features Front page Heroes Icons Interviews Music Picks Rock Tags:, , , , ,
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Interview with Andy Ellison

In conversation with Andy Ellison By Michelle Coomber

I met the enigmatic Andy Ellison for afternoon drinks in Soho. Betraying his previous hedonistic lifestyle, he’s fit, tanned with blonde spiky hair and a cheeky smile. He still looks capable of jumping up and hanging from the lights without any effort or warning, but he’s softly spoken and well-mannered and there wasn’t a hint of a feather pillow. We chatted about his teenage years, memories as lead singer and songwriter with the Silence, John’s Children, Jet and Radio Stars, wild adventures and Hells Angels. We discussed Simon Napier-Bell, The Who, fights, banned records, white clothes and his solo career. And we talked about Marc Bolan and the fondness that still remains.

Let’s begin by chatting about your formative years.

I was born in Hammersmith but we moved to Finchley. I was a hyper-active kid, and driving both my parents up the wall, so they thought I should be in an environment where I could learn some control. Eventually, I was taken out of a secondary modern school at fourteen. I was sent to a boarding school in Devon, it housed forty other uncontrollable boys. It was quite a shock to the system but I had a fantastic time, although I was still pretty rebellious. After two years, I managed to get the school closed down by getting all the boys to run away one morning break-time (except for two kids in the sick bay) and we camped out in a forest on Exmoor for a few days where we lived off chickens which we stole from a nearby farming school and put in sacks. We made makeshift tents out of bracken, killed the hens, plucked them and cooked them on makeshift spits. By the second day, we were like something from Lord of the Rings. This was a great adventure until we were found by a police helicopter. The story even appeared on the front page of the Telegraph, luckily my parents read the Daily Express. I was immediately expelled but the school soon closed down as the kids were too much to handle. I was moved to Box Hill Outward Bound School in Surrey which was an expensive public school, so the move was financed by my grandmother and a local government bursary, I was sixteen and still out of control.

How did you and Chris Townson become friends?

I’d seen Chris around Box Hill School but didn’t meet him until a few months later. I was pretty good at art, so the headmaster decided I should paint the backdrop for a school play and Chris was sent to do the same task after deliberately treading on his National Health specs to get out of lessons. We hit it off and got more boisterous as we chucked paint at each other and all over the screen. The headmaster returned and said it was the best backdrop the school ever had! Chris and I struck up a good friendship after that. We used to sit in the rooms at the top of the school and Chris would play ukulele while I sang and played harmonica. In fact, me and Chris started out playing folk music and decided we were beatniks. We spent the summer hols on a road trip around the South of England, Jack Kerouac style! We convinced people on the way to give up secure jobs and join us on our travels, but me and Chris would sneak off and eat properly in cafes while they scavenged for food. We left them behind as we grew really tired of it, so I don’t know what ever happened to them after we got the train back home!

How did you both get involved with a band after leaving school?

We left school in 1963 and Chris went on to art school and I worked as a photographer’s assistant at Rome Studios in Soho. Chris would sometimes turn up with a girl and they’d smoke joints while trying to entice me off work but I was actually quite restrained. I supplied him with art work from the studio to help him through his degree. Chris decided to get extra art tuition and visited Mr Dawsett who was a college tutor living in nearby Fetcham. When Chris arrived at his house, he heard live music coming from another room. Mr Dawsett explained that it was his son, Chris, playing keyboards, his daughter on drums and their friend, Geoff McClelland, on guitar. Chris was invited to meet them and he asked if they needed another guitarist. Chris D said they needed a drummer as his sister was too young, so Chris said “Yes, I can do that” and proceeded to smash his way around the kit like some mad man. There was a long silence as they looked on non-plussed, then Chris D asked him if he wanted to join the band, so that was the end of his extra tuition and they regularly rehearsed blues music in the Dawsett’s living room. A few months later, their band, the Clockwork Onions, had secured a local gig and Chris invited me along. I was still playing harmonica and made a gunslinger belt from my dad’s old army belt, it sat diagonally across my chest and held lots of different harmonicas, I was very influenced by Cyril Davies at the time. I went to the gig and Louis Grooner (another Box Hill ex-pupil) was lead singer but he leapt off stage halfway through the gig when he saw someone chatting up his girlfriend. He jumped off stage and chased the guy out of the club, the rest of the band played on but it didn’t seem like he was coming back, I jumped on stage and started playing my harmonica, then I made up the words to the next song and the next, somehow we got through the rest of the gig. The band asked me to replace Louis, so that’s how it started.

What became of the Clockwork Onions?

We changed the name to the Few, not sure why as the Clockwork Onions was a great name, and played venues around Kingston, Richmond and Guildford. Then we changed our name to the Silence because we played very loud and liked the juxtaposition. I was also a fan of the 1963 film of the same name by Ingmar Bergman. We covered R&B classics but had started to perform some of my own songs including ‘Green Light’ and we recorded four songs in a garage in Dorking! We were going to see other bands such as the Small Faces, the Kinks and Geno Washington. But it was The Who’s gig in Guildford that really blew us away. We were emulating the musical style of the Rolling Stones with songs by Muddy Waters etc but The Who gave the blues more of an English twist with heavy guitar and we knew that’s how we wanted to play. Martin Sheller went to the same art school as Chris, he was a devoted mod and joined the band on keyboards and supplied a lot of drugs! We were playing more mod covers at this point and had a good following and a weekly residency at the Bluesette Club in Leatherhead (known as the Chuck Wagon). Martin eventually drifted away from the band, he later formed The Regents who had a hit with ‘7-Teen’ in 1979. I bumped into him in the mid-80s when I went to Ibiza with my young family, he was still into drugs and hadn’t changed much but it was good to see him. Sadly, he passed away in 1999. After Martin left our band, some of the guys swapped instruments and John Hewlett came along and pretended he could play bass and had lots of influential contacts. Of course, he was lying on both counts but he looked the part, so he came on board. He played a huge, low sound which really worked for us.

Don Arden was interested in the Silence, why didn’t you sign with him?

Don asked us to support the Small Faces and Kiki Dee at a few gigs in the South of England and Wales. We were also Kiki’s backing band, so we had to quickly learn her songs and somehow John managed to get through it with his limited guitar-playing! We had a good time and they were all really nice to us but they did their own thing. Don invited us to his office in Carnaby Street and wanted to sign us but it was only because he planned to break us up afterwards. He was worried that we would be in competition with the Small Faces, so he wanted to control us. We were a pretty mod band with a good following. We were a bit scared of him and we decided not to sign up.

There seems to be quite a story leading up to meeting Simon Napier-Bell

It’s a long story! We were invited to play at the summer pool party at the beautiful Burford Bridge Hotel in the North Downs. However, Chris T and John went missing the weekend before the gig, we discovered they had been invited to the South of France by Gordon Bennett, who was the manager of the Bluessette club and had been in prison for using rubber cheque books. They promptly packed their bags and drove to Heathrow but the car ran out of petrol, so they hailed a taxi and Gordon paid the fare by cheque as well as their single flights to Nice. They got another taxi to Cannes where they booked into a plush hotel and drank champagne while Gordon bounced more cheques. I was getting ready for work on the Monday morning when my mum brought in a telegram which said ‘We are in St Tropez. Bring the equipment. John’. I phoned Geoff and he had received the same telegram. We decided not to cancel the gig as it was such an important one for us. Gordon disappeared and John met a dodgy Bardot look-a-like and he and Chris continued to party.

How did they cope without Gordon and his cheques?

They didn’t. The hotel manager knocked on their door with two gendarmes and asked for Gordon Bennett (That really was his name!). Chris, John and the French girl were taken off to the police cells but the girl was released. Chris and John were up in court the next day and said they had no idea the cheque book was stolen or that Gordon was a known fraudster. John was allowed to go and raise the bail money while Chris went back to the cells. John returned to the hotel and saw the French girl who persuaded him to go to St. Tropez. He thought he could charm a millionaire with his sob story and pay the bail money, so he got on the back of her scooter and off they went. When they arrived, they walked along the lit-up harbour which was bustling with rich playboys and dolly birds, John loved its glamour and nightlife. They passed the Voom, Voom club where he recognised the loud sounds of the Steampacket. They went in and Long John Baldry and Julie Driscoll were on stage singing to the rich and famous. As they passed a table, someone asked what a good-looking boy was doing with a horse! John was invited to join the table for drinks and the French girl went off to dance. John recognised a few faces but was stopped in his tracks when he saw the real Bardot sitting at their table; he even managed to have a dance with her and his dubious French lady friend stormed out of the club. The man who invited him over was Simon Napier-Bell, a young and influential entrepreneur from Ealing who was managing the Yardbirds. John explained the whole police saga to Simon and told him about the Burford Bridge show. Not only did Simon agree to pay the bail, he also said he would come to the gig. Simon drove John back to where he was staying in St. Tropez while John drunkenly threw up over the plush white leather seats in the open-top Bentley. Simon took him to the shops the next day and kitted him out in an expensive suit and they drove to Cannes and paid the bail money. Chris couldn’t be released immediately and John was anxious to get back to the high life, so he left Simon’s address at the station and they headed back to St. Tropez expecting to see Chris later. The problem was that Chris had no money or even a valid passport!

How did the adventure end?

Poor Chris had to hitch along the French coastal road and managed to steal fruit along the way. He met a hitchhiker and they were offered a free passage on a boat heading for St Tropez. However, not too long into the journey, they realised the men were running guns to Africa. They managed to jump overboard and a passing motor boat took them back to the coast. Chris had no passport as John had all their belongings, so he decided to hitch to the British Consulate in Nice. It was now the night before the gig. Meanwhile, John and Simon had returned to London via a stopover in Paris. He crashed at Simon’s flat in Victoria before joining us in Surrey the next day. He called Geoff to let him know what had happened and learned that Chris hadn’t arrived back. John presumed that he had returned to London, he wasn’t aware that he had his passport. He said not to cancel the gig as Simon was coming along. I arrived at the Dawsett’s house and saw John in his new clothes, he looked tanned and handsome and I couldn’t believe it was him; he looked like a film star. Soon after Chris arrived, a bedraggled, barefoot, dirty character limped up the path, swearing profusely. Chris had found his way back.

It’s a surprise that you actually managed to make the gig!

Only just! Chris was still in a foul mood and refused to have anything to do with John. I explained John’s story to him and said that Simon was coming along to watch us, so we had to turn up. I mean, he was the Yardbirds’ manager! But Chris was having none of it and kicked our van, yelled in pain and limped off home. Geoff drove after him and calmed him down and said to come back and take a bath and change into fresh clothes. Later, we headed off to the venue with an exhausted Chris snoring in the back of the van. We set up around the pool, I had three inter-connecting mic leads to give me the freedom to run around, which I had been doing for a while now, and I quite fancied the idea of singing from the top diving board. By 5.00pm, guests were arriving and the DJ was getting everyone in the mood. We played our first set at 6.00pm and there was no sign of Simon, Geoff was doubtful that he would show. We played our second set at 8.00pm and then we spotted a well-groomed, expensively dressed man smoking a large cigar by the far end of the pool. John confirmed it was Simon as we broke into a raucous version of ‘Rosalyn’ by the Pretty Things. I climbed across tables, and while we were playing ‘Gloria’ by Them, I went up to the top diving board and as I belted out ‘G-L-O-R-I-A’, I dived into the pool and the mic lead sparked and fused the PA system. Chris was still furious and kicked his drum kit into the pool. There was stunned silence, then rapturous applause and cheering from the startled guests! I couldn’t see Simon and thought he had left in disgust but he came up behind me and placed his hand on my shoulder and said it was “Interesting”. I got changed and we piled into his Bentley and he drove us to a country pub. Geoff followed in our battered van. Simon plied us with drinks and entertained us with hilarious stories. After many brandies and much laughter, he announced that he wanted to sign us.

How did the whole concept of John’s Children come about?

I gave up my job at the photographic studio much to the horror of my parents. John gave up his job and Geoff told his parents that he was chucking in his accountancy job which he loathed. Chris T had just passed his art exams with flying colours, helped by Rome studios. Chris D was pressured by his parents to continue with his art studies and had already left the band. He eventually went on to become Professor of Art at Oxford University, so it was a pretty wise decision. The four of us went to Simon’s flat and signed the contract. The next day we found ourselves in the Yardbirds’ rehearsal room using their Selmar equipment. Simon asked us to write new songs, so we took a few classics and rewrote the lyrics. ‘My Generation’ by The Who became ‘But She’s Mine’. We were often double-booked as Simon had booked over our pre-contract dates, but we still wanted to play both shows. So, as Geoff was prone to fainting, we decided that he should ‘faint’ after a couple of songs, then we could collect our fee and go to our other gig. However, things didn’t go to plan at the Ricky Tick club in Guildford, Geoff pretended to faint but fell forward and his face was covered in blood. The manager said we should get him to hospital, but after collecting payment, we got him in the van and played our next gig in Epsom, bloodied face and all. Simon invited me and Chris for a meal at the Lotus Restaurant near Marble Arch. He was worried that John was the weakest musician and felt left out. Simon suggested we changed our name to John’s Children to make him feel more included. John had charisma and great looks, he was good for us. We were cool and agreed, so we became John’s Children and Simon also suggested the white clothes. He wanted us to look angelic as we came on stage and then create absolute mayhem!

‘Smashed Blocked’ is a cult classic, what’s the story behind the recording?

It was inspired by ‘The Love You Save’ by Joe Tex. ‘Smashed’ was a mod term for drunk and ‘Blocked’ was a mod term for being high on speed. Simon wanted the song to have a bigger sound, so he went to LA and recorded session musicians and asked me to record the vocals over the top. This didn’t sit well with the band, particularly Geoff, but John was quite chuffed that people would think it was him playing the fabulous bass riff. Chris wasn’t bothered as long as it got airplay. There were a few different versions but Simon preferred the one with spoken words. When I played it to my girlfriend Jane, she broke down in tears, I knew this song was special but had no idea it would still be played decades later. Simon needed a B-Side and he recorded some British session musicians and asked me to record vocals. I had to make up lyrics on the spot. I went into a booth with three very special backing singers, Rod Stewart, Dusty Springfield and Madeline Bell. I made up the words and the result was ‘Strange Affair’. White Whale Records released the single ‘Smashed Blocked’ on the West Coast where it became number one but EMI said they would only release it in the UK if the title was changed, so it became ‘The Love I Thought I Found’. It didn’t do as well over here but it got rave reviews in the music press.

The video has recently resurfaced on YouTube, where was it filmed?

Simon booked a club called The Establishment which was in a basement in Greek Street, Soho. It was a very controversial place owned by Peter Cook and satirical comedy started from there. We had it for the afternoon and had a great time filming. Simon’s background is film editing, so he had a strong creative vision and technical knowledge. One version of the film on YouTube has been spliced together from unedited clips of the shoot, so I don’t know who made that but it’s great to see it out there again. Simon insists it was the beginning of psychedelic music, he returned from LA where the Flower Power scene was in full flow and he claims to have invented the word ‘Psychedelic’ on the flight back. I didn’t even know we were psychedelic until much later! I seemed to have covered many genres in my career, blues, mod, psychedelic, glam rock, punk. I’m running out of things to do now!

White Whale Records wanted to release a John’s Children LP in the US. Tell us about the unique recording of Orgasm.

It was recorded at Advision studios in Bond Street, an amazing studio and the most high-tech place we had ever been in. Simon asked us to play our full set straight through; he seemed pleased with the result and took us for drinks at the Duke of York. As we headed off home, Simon pulled me aside and asked if I would return to the studio as he wanted to try something out. The two of us went back and he asked me to scream ad-libs at the band and play up to the crowd as if I was on stage. Simon came into the sound booth and shouted the intro “Will you all be quiet, this is John’s Children!” He wanted the LP to sound like a live concert, so he added other effects to make it authentic. Screaming was provided by the Beatles’ fans at Shea stadium and the film ‘A Hard Day’s Night’. He did an incredible job; you could even hear girls screaming “John! John!” which was obviously meant for Lennon and not Hewlett! We were all invited back to the studios to hear the final cut. Chris and Geoff weren’t too happy but me and John loved it, he couldn’t believe that it sounded as if we were playing live to masses of fans.  Simon announced it was to be called Orgasm.

What happened to the release?

Despite huge advance orders and a promo campaign, it got banned because of the title and erotic sleeve design. The US moral guardian group The Daughters of the Revolution protested and our US tour was cancelled, which disappointed us and EMI refused to release it in the UK. White Whale re-issued it a few years later and Cherry Red managed to put it out in the UK. John’s Children had long disbanded but we were pleased it was finally out. In hindsight, it would have been better to have originally released it under a different name and as a live studio recording, I would have preferred it raw without all the effects but it was a classic example of Simon pushing the boundaries and I really admire him for that, it was an amazing piece of work. He loved that we fought on stage and I took off my top and dived into the crowd.  In fact, one night when John and I were having a pillow fight in a hotel, the pillow split open as Simon walked in.  So, it was his idea to throw feathers everywhere and take the stage act to the limit.

How did you all end up owning a nightclub?

Simon had seen us perform many times at the Bluesette Club in Leatherhead. In fact, he once joined us on keyboards but was so drunk, he fell off stage. He bought the club with some of the money we had made from our US hit ‘Smashed Blocked’ and he renamed it John’s Children Club. It was a fantastic venue for live music; we had bands such as the Action and Tomorrow. We also had an enormous jukebox which gave out such a fabulous rich sound. Chris even lived there for a bit! It was great to have somewhere to rehearse and we had a weekly residency. Simon appointed two guys to act as our club and personal managers. They were Chris Colville and Ian Moody who were hardcore mods from Shepherds Bush. The south London gangsters, the Richardsons, turned up one day and tried to get protection money but Chris Colville had equally dubious connections and managed to put a stop to it, we never knew how and didn’t dare ask! He was the inspiration behind Pete Townshend’s character ‘Jimmy’ in ‘Quadrophenia’. Sadly, Chris has passed away but he was such a big character and became our roadie and even played in the band on a few occasions.

Most bands wanted to use Marshall amps, what was so special about your Jordan amps?

It was at the club that we first used the Jordan amps. I remember a huge lorry arrived with twenty enormous speakers. They had been made by NASA and Simon had them shipped over from Houston, Texas. The sound came out in front of us, so it was even louder 30 feet away from the stage. If this was a Spinal Tap interview, I’d have to say “Yeah, our band’s amps go up to fourteen and the Marshall amps only go to eleven!”  Seriously, they were extremely powerful! Each amp had a satellite speaker that would fit above it and link to the next amp and so forth. It created a huge wall of sound and we had our own sections. We couldn’t fit them all on stage, so we had to store some in the back of the club but there were gigs where we used all twenty and it blasted the audience away! The sound was incredible and so powerful that you could feel walls vibrating.

What was the deal with John’s Children and Hells Angels?

Simon managed to get in touch with the local Hells Angels chapter and paid them very well to escort us to and from gigs while we were driven about in Al Capone’s white convertible Oldsmobile which Simon had shipped over from Chicago. They were great with us and more Hells Angels joined us as time went on, some rode their bikes in front of the car and others at the back. A few guarded the front of the stage while the rest waited outside on their bikes. It sometimes caused tensions with rockers who thought they had sold out to mods, so they would turn up for a fight. Simon loved all the commotion and publicity, of course. But they did a good job and we felt really protected by them and sometimes we needed it.

Strangely, John’s Children supported Jimmy Cliff in Paris, how did this work out?

After the disappointment of the LP, Simon booked us to support Jimmy Cliff for a month at the Bus Palladium club in Paris. He drove there in his Bentley while we set off in our battered old van. We arrived at a bohemian apartment just off the Place de la Concorde and we were greeted by a very camp man with a patch over one eye and gold-topped walking cane, he was very creepy and slowly looked us up and down. He was a promoter and was supposed to look after us while we were there for the month, even Simon was worried when he met him. The one-eyed Frenchman booked us into a seedy hotel which turned out to be a brothel but it was close to the club. Meanwhile, Simon booked into a 5-star hotel. We went to the venue and met the manager who was just as sinister with her gravelly voice and a lit Gitane dangling from her lips. She was pretty shocked when she saw all our equipment, we only brought ten amps but they took up all the stage. Jimmy Cliff was not impressed by us or how loud we played. The club actually shook as we launched into our first song and the manager ran over and told us to turn it down and the audience covered their ears. We only got to play two songs before we were told to stop completely. We weren’t off to a good start. Simon had to leave the next day and left a note to say that Monsieur Delagarde (the scary promoter) would be on hand – literally! But the shady French man never showed his face again. We managed a few more songs the following night but the manager still kept running out and screaming to turn it down. Of course, we turned it back up as soon as she disappeared. Needless to say, we played a very short set every night; I can’t say we went down very well.

Did you watch Jimmy Cliff’s show?

After we finished our set of about three or four songs, we would rush out and stand at the front of the stage to watch him come out in complete darkness to the sound of his backing band. He was dressed in black apart from his brilliant white plimsolls which were picked up by the ultraviolet lights. We would be in hysterics which wasn’t the reaction Jimmy wanted. Once the lights went up and he went into his first number, we left. It was the same every night and just as funny. Chris named it ‘The Dancing Plimsolls Moment’. It’s safe to say, Jimmy Cliff and John’s Children weren’t fans of each other.

Did things improve for you in Paris?

They got worse, we eventually ran out of money and each lived on one ham baguette per day while Simon thought we were being looked after by the elusive promoter. Geoff was getting ill and thinner each day and missed his girlfriend. We collected our baguettes from the club but ended up eating most of Geoff’s as we walked back and the poor guy thanked us for his small morsel each day. We were trying to get hold of Simon without any luck. Chris hooked up with a waitress and stayed at her place, so he was okay. John and I walked around Montmartre while scrounging leftovers from market stalls. We wrote to Simon and explained the situation and that we needed help but we didn’t know where he was. We were really fed up and didn’t even bother to turn up our amps to annoy the manager. Geoff only got out of bed for the gigs, he was fading away. We weren’t sure how much longer we could cope.

Did Simon eventually come to your rescue?

Yes, thank goodness. Simon turned up and treated us to a slap up meal. We ate like tramps that hadn’t eaten for months and our once pristine white outfits were shabby and stained. Simon said he had booked us to support The Pretty Things at the Locomotive club in Paris for the following night. Geoff cheered up and retrieved all our equipment from the Bus Palladium club and drove it to the new venue which was a big improvement on the last. Once we set up, Geoff said he was going back for a nap and would be back for 7.00pm. There was still no sign of him by 7.30pm. But just as we were about to go on, he arrived all bloody and dishevelled. He explained that he had crashed the van in a back street and panicked, so he ran all the way to the club. The poor guy was crying and apologizing but Simon told us to get on stage and then he disappeared. The gig went surprisingly well, despite the state of Geoff, and the crowd loved us. Simon returned after paying off the police and suggested we went back to England before there were any repercussions. We had to leave our amps behind and ‘Humpy’ the van was left parked in a Parisian shop window. We drove back in Simon’s Bentley but not before stopping off at a chemist en route as Chris revealed he had a dose of the clap.

This brings us to your first meeting with Marc Bolan

Once we arrived back in England, Simon took me, Chris and John out for dinner at the Lotus House. He announced that he wanted us to try out a new guitarist; we thought he meant bring in an additional musician. He explained that he no longer felt Geoff was suited to the band and it was worth trying out this other guy that he managed. We discovered a long time after; Kit Lambert wanted to sign us but didn’t want Geoff, our lanky guitarist, in the band. We felt really uncomfortable as Geoff was our mate and he was from the original line-up. The next day, Simon drove me to Wimbledon and we pulled up outside a small prefab with a neat front garden and he said ‘This is where Marc lives”. Simon explained that Marc Bolan was a folk singer and had never been in a band but he thought his songwriting would be good for John’s Children. He left me to meet him and said he would pick me up later. Marc was really friendly and made me mushrooms on toast; afterwards he sat cross-legged and played some unusual songs on acoustic guitar. One song was unfinished and he suggested I helped him. It was ‘Midsummer Night’s Scene’ which is now a rare and sought after record.  He had Dylan records scattered across the floor of his parent’s living room. I liked him and we got along really well. Simon came to collect me and I agreed for Marc to meet at our club the following afternoon.

Did you have any doubts about Marc fitting in with such a wild band?

Yes, I was worried whether his quiet, folky personality would fit in with our outrageous behaviour and loud music. Geoff was unaware about Marc’s audition as he worked during the week. We borrowed a Red Gibson SG from our mate, Trevor White, who played in a band called the A-Jaes. Simon brought Marc to the club and we introduced him to John and Chris and showed him the guitar by the wall of amps. Marc looked overwhelmed as he stared at our equipment which included the silver double Slingerland drum kit! He sheepishly picked up the guitar and Chris explained the volume knob. Once he had the strap over his head, he turned the knob, struck a chord and promptly fell over. He held his hands over his ears and screeched in pain. “That’s normal”, I said. Chris started drumming like a lunatic and we showed Marc a few chords to a song and he started to play and bop across the stage. It wasn’t great at first but we noticed a change in our sound and we really started to come together. By the end of the session, Marc was really in to the electric guitar and we left him to make all kinds of wonderful sounds. Simon came back and said that he had to get him home. Marc returned the next day and learned more of our songs and we played some of his work including ‘Sara, Crazy Child’. He eventually bought the guitar from Trevor as he loved it so much. When I first knew Marc, he spoke with a strong cockney accent whereas we were reasonably well-spoken Surrey lads, but he was like a sponge, soaking up from those around him, so he took the accent to another level and ended up sounded really posh!

What happened when Geoff was told that he was out of the band?

On the third day, Marc’s girlfriend drove him to the club and they arrived with some old-fashioned dressing screens covered in silver foil. He placed them around his section of amps and said it would help control his feedback. We weren’t convinced but they looked good, especially when he knelt down playing guitar in front of them. We knew that we had to let Geoff go as Marc was a brilliant addition to the band and we sounded so much better. On the following Saturday, Geoff strolled in as usual with his guitar and was pleased to see us. We felt terrible and Chris started fiddling with the drums. Geoff noticed the screens and was amazed and asked where they came from. John decided to take on the role of spokesman and he explained that Simon also managed a guy called Marc Bolan and the screens belonged to him. He said that Simon felt Marc was more suited to the band and how much we all appreciated what Geoff has done for us. After an awkward silence, Geoff asked if he was out of the band for good and John confirmed. Geoff picked up his guitar case and thanked us, he had tears in his eyes as he wished us well and then he walked out. It was so sad and we struggled with the decision but we knew it was the right thing to do, but it didn’t make us feel any better. Geoff went on to form a band called Misty Romance with Chris Dawsett.

How was Marc’s first performance with John’s Children?

Marc was still trying to learn the songs, it was taking him some time and we had a show in Watford at the end of that week. On the night, he was so nervous that he drank two bottles of red wine before he went on stage and forgot most of the chords. He left after the third song and broke down in tears, we tried to console him in the dressing room but he was really upset. Luckily, it was a very small audience. In fact, most left after the first song and they all left after Marc messed up the chords, then the manager told us to get off the stage. Marc was still crying as we dropped him off at Wimbledon. It wasn’t how he had expected his first rock and roll gig to pan out. But it didn’t take long for him to settle in and make fantastic, deafening sounds. It didn’t matter if he struck the wrong chord by then.

Did Marc join in with your stage antics?

Yes, he was up for it. Funnily enough, none of us got drunk before we went on stage, despite our reputation of being hell raisers; we took the drink and drugs afterwards! All the stage fighting and smashing equipment was done while we were stone cold sober. Simon loved it when we got really outrageous and Marc joined in and was just as bad, he even used chains to wreck guitars. Simon constantly had to replace our equipment and white clothes! We were like four brothers who went mental for an hour on stage. This was long before punk rockers came on the scene.

Tell us about the Brian Matthew sessions

Simon booked us on the ‘Saturday Club’ for Radio One; we had to perform four live songs. We finished with a raucous version of ‘Daddy Rolling Stone’ and began to smash up our equipment in the studio. I was writhing around the floor making strange sounds into the mic. Afterwards, Brian asked Simon if we were on drugs. Simon replied “That’s just what they do”. There are some bootleg recordings of those sessions. We sold out many gigs on the strength of that show as people got a renewed interest in John’s Children.

John’s Children signed to Track Records, how did this come about?

Unsurprisingly, Columbia dropped us when Simon revealed our next record would be ‘Not the Sort Of Girl You’d Like To Take To Bed’. We played a gig at Tiles in Oxford Street and Kit Lambert was good friends with Simon and expressed interest in us, especially now Geoff was no longer in the band. He was a great raconteur with a clipped upper-class accent; he amused us with fascinating stories of his life. He was managing The Who and formed Track Records with Chris Stamp, the brother of actor Terence Stamp. Kit and Chris met us after the gig and Kit suggested we call ourselves the Electric Bunnies as he thought that’s how we performed.  He agreed to sign us and we were thrilled as Jimi Hendrix and The Who were two of our heroes and now we were on the same record label. Marc was a big fan of Townshend and Hendrix; he would always make sure he sat close to their table at the Speakeasy club. Chris Townson was a massive fan of The Who, so you can imagine how we all felt when Kit suggested we support them on a stadium tour of Germany. We couldn’t believe our luck!

This was the infamous tour! What was the first gig like?

We went to the south coast in Simon’s car and drove it on to what looked like a WW1 aircraft which flew about 40 feet above the English Channel. We could see the waves through the gaps in the old parachute doors. We were relieved to land on the French coast in one piece. We drove across the German border to Nuremberg, it was a long drive and Marc was hilarious as we play acted and he pretended to be a huge rock star with Chris as his Jewish manager. Simon added from the driver’s seat “Don’t forget, your best move as a rock star would be to die tragically”. “Yeah, man. That’s good” Marc replied. “Maybe some kind of car accident….in a white Rolls Royce” Simon suggested. Marc stared out at the autobahn and said “No man, it has got to be a Mini”.  We arrived at our hotel which was the building that held the Nuremberg trials. Our roadie, who was Oliver Reed’s cousin, arrived in a lorry with our Jordan amps and equipment. We went to the venue for a sound check after the roadie set up our wall of amps in front of The Who’s wall of Marshalls. Chris started to play his drums as Marc and John plugged in and played very loud guitar. Suddenly, Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey ran out from backstage and Pete looked at our amps and shouted “What are these?” Keith came out and looked at Chris’ drum kit, kicked it and went backstage. Pete returned with his guitar and angrily asked where to plug it in. After thrashing out a few sounds, he pushed an amp over but his guitar still played out. He growled “Fucking hell, what are these made of?” The frostiness between us didn’t improve in their dressing room.  They didn’t shake our hands and sniggered at us. It was worrying and we decided to tone down our act that night. However, just on our last number, I leapt into the audience and began to smash up one of the wooden seats. As soon as I got back on stage, the audience took it as a lead to smash up their seats and they went mental, it took quite a while to calm down but The Who came on stage to the most energetic welcome they had ever received. However, Kit wasn’t impressed; despite the fact the night had been a big success, he was lumbered with a huge bill from the venue for damages.

Did you calm down in Düsseldorf?

Not at all, it was held in a huge sports arena and we thought it would be funny if me and John used fake blood capsules while we were fighting. After a few songs, I crawled back on stage and grabbed John’s legs and brought him and his bass guitar straight down to the floor. The fight got worse and although staged, it often brought out an inner resentment in John, so I would retaliate! It was like he really wanted to beat me up at times. Chris and Marc threw out incredibly loud sounds from the drums and guitar while me and John writhed about with fake blood all over our white clothes. I managed to fall into the pit and heard something snap in my neck but I got back on stage to finish the set. I collapsed in the dressing room and was in agony. The next morning, I couldn’t move my head and Simon drove me to Cologne while the others went to the next venue. Apparently, Cologne has the best physios; I don’t know how Simon knew that! We pulled up at a German version of Harley Street and the specialist managed to pop everything back in place and the pain disappeared. Simon threw money at him and we hastily drove to Mannheim where we stayed at the same hotel as The Who. Simon brought a fresh batch of white clothes to our rooms and caught me and John in the middle of a pillow fight with feathers flying everywhere. He loved it and told me to take pillows to the gig and rip them open as I ran through the crowds. As we were getting ready to leave the hotel, we heard a loud explosion and everyone had to vacate the building. It turned out that Keith had let off a cherry bomb in Roger’s toilet, there were police everywhere. Kit had to pay off the hotel manager, so that was yet more expense! Things hadn’t improved with The Who and Kit argued with Simon that we were upstaging them with our antics and would have to go if this behaviour continued.

Pete Townshend said John’s Children were “Too loud and too violent”. Did they make no effort to get along with you?

The only members of The Who with a true sense of humour were John and Keith who we socialised with more than Roger and Pete. Roger didn’t like us at all; he probably still holds a grudge about the Germany tour! We used to enjoy teasing Kit and complain that Pete was stealing our riffs, he never twigged that we were pulling his leg. Chris and I were in the hotel bar with The Who but there was a was a stony silence, then Keith broke the atmosphere by goose-stepping around the table and doing a Nazi salute which he had seen us do on stage. Chris joined in and I got up as well, Pete was in hysterics and it seemed to break the ice for a bit, although the hotel guests weren’t impressed. The staff threw us all out of the bar and we were still laughing as we went to our rooms. At that night’s show, I ripped open the pillows and there were feathers everywhere, it was like a snow storm. Marc was smashing the footlights while me and John had our usual fight and Chris was pounding the drums like a maniac. The Who came on to the best reception yet, but Kit was still unhappy and said if we didn’t calm down, we were off.

What did you decide to do?

The next morning we drove to Ludwigshafen but there was a strange atmosphere in the car. Our clothes were filthy by now; we had lost so many outfits or left them in dry cleaners that Simon had given up buying more. He broke the silence and reminded us that Kit had said to calm down or get kicked off the tour. Marc said that we should do what we had to do as it was too exciting to stop. We all agreed and Simon said “Ok, tonight will be special”. When we arrived at the hotel, I stole as many pillows as I could. As we drove to the Massahalle stadium, we knew it was going to kick off that night, the adrenalin was building. The German media was full of this odd band upstaging The Who and people were curious to see what the fuss was about. The concert was a sell-out.  We could hear the crowd cheering as the lights dimmed, and then people raced to the front as Chris leapt on to his drums and thrashed the life out of the skins. The rest of us ran on stage, John pounded the bass so low that it almost shook the walls of the auditorium, Marc smashed into the opening of ‘Jagged Time-Lapse’, we knew we wouldn’t be on stage for long and had little time to cause chaos. On the second number, I kicked in the lights and somersaulted over the bouncers and ran through the crowds throwing feathers from the ripped pillows, the vibrating sounds from the Jordan amps and the screaming mayhem sent the Germans crazy! I actually got worried whether I would make it back to the stage as they became hysterical and I got kicked and punched. Somehow the bouncers got me back on stage and I started singing which sent the crowd ballistic and seats were thrown around, it was getting really violent. John and I started stage fighting, which probably wasn’t the best thing to do. Marc was whacking his guitar with chains, sending out loud and eerie sounds that bounced across the venue while Chris was going demented on the drums as fists and feathers flew everywhere.

How did you manage to get off the stage?

The riot police arrived in record time, they must have been waiting! They came in from the back and ran through the crowds as the violence spilled out on to the stage; Simon dragged me off and screamed at the others to follow. Our amps were being smashed and torn down, Chris was last to escape but managed to join us as we ran down the stairs and out through the stage door into Simon’s car. The riot police were using water canons on the crowd, it was total chaos. We saw chairs flying out of the windows as we drove past. We sat in silence as we headed to Munich and took in what had just happened. It was safe to say that we wouldn’t be supporting The Who on the following night.

What was the outcome of all this?

The next morning, Simon gathered us in the hotel lobby to confirm that Kit had thrown us off the tour and the police were after us. They had impounded what was left of our amps and equipment and we had no choice but to get out of Germany as quickly as possible. We gathered up what little possessions we had left and Simon drove us across the border to Luxembourg, where we were safe, and we checked into the Grande Hotel. We went to see Ravi Shankar at the theatre that night and must have looked a sight in our dirty, ripped clothes! Marc was transfixed as he watched Ravi’s performance; he was lost in another world. The next morning we left for Calais but missed the ferry and had a long wait until the next one, so we split up and went off to take a look around, which was always a disaster for us. Marc stayed with Simon in a nearby bar. Chris went off on his own, he was still unhappy about losing his beloved drum kit, while me and John headed off to a local bar. As we were walking back to the port that evening, we heard some commotion and saw Chris being thrown out of a sleazy bar and chased by angry French men. We hadn’t a clue what he had done but dragged him along with us while he was still shouting abuse at them. Luckily, we managed to give the angry mob the slip by hiding behind bins and made it back to the port in one piece. Simon and Marc were already in the Bentley and on the other side of the fence queuing for the ferry, they shouted that we were too late and they couldn’t wait any longer. It was the last ferry of the night and we had no money. I thought, “Sod this” and jumped over the high fence and John followed but Chris struggled, so we had to go back for him. Marc jumped out to help and we got in the car with Simon groaning at us. Once on the ferry, we headed for the bar and Chris headed for his bunk bed. We got very drunk and Marc was standing on a table reciting pornographic poetry. The passengers were fed up with him, so I managed to get him out before they got angry and we ended up in more trouble.

It must have been an amazing experience to play at the 14 hour Technicolour Dream Event

It was a benefit for an underground publication, I think it might have been OZ magazine or the International Times. I remember Simon driving us into the back of Alexandra Place and as we walked into this massive hall, we saw bands such as Pink Floyd, The Creation and The Pretty Things playing in every corner and lots of psychedelic light shows and films were screened with trippy installations everywhere. Pete Townshend was wandering around filming on his cine camera. We were off our heads on LSD, the organisers wouldn’t let us have a stage and we were told to play at floor level.  We just messed around and made a noise, Marc walked about with his guitar on his head or he would leave it on top of the amp to give off loud feedback, we smashed things up as usual and I chucked feathers everywhere, it was an outrageous evening. There was an interview on the news the following night with Roger Daltrey, and his hair was covered in feathers. He must have hated us by this point, there was no escape.

What was the mood in the band after all the recent events?

It was beginning to shift and Marc had disappeared. Simon went back to Germany a few months later to try and retrieve our equipment but it was too late, we had lost all our amps and drum kit forever. Marc returned to play one last gig at our club and then left the band, there wasn’t any drama, he simply made a decision to leave. Ravi Shankar’s gig in Luxembourg probably laid the seeds for Tyrannosaurus Rex.

How did you end up playing to a Bee Gees audience in Hamburg?

After Marc left, we were hanging at our club and feeling a bit flat as many places were too scared to book us and we had to borrow equipment. Simon turned up and said he had got us a gig but we said we couldn’t play as we now had no guitarist. So, he suggested that Chris played guitar, which is something he had always wanted to do. Simon also suggested putting our club manager, Chris Colville, on drums, even though he had never played drums before. The gig was at the famous Star club in Hamburg and we were replacing the Bee Gees who had to pull out due to illness. Oh my God! We were  now  about to play with our club manager on drums and Chris on guitar, who only knew a few songs, to play to a Bee Gees crowd who wouldn’t have even heard of us! Needless to say, they hated us, and after three or four songs, I leapt into the audience bare-chested and they leapt on me and ripped my trousers off in anger. I hadn’t worn pants that night, so I had to get back on stage naked and shuffle off to the dressing room. Chris Colville smashed up the drum kit and Simon quickly got us out rather than face another German riot! On another occasion in Hamburg, Simon arranged for us to be driven around in a convertible while we were naked and covered in flowers; there were posters everywhere of us in a garden of flowers wearing beads and paisley kaftans. Simon filmed us running around naked on Burnham Beach for ‘Come Play With Me In The Garden’. I dread to think where the film ended up, probably on a porn site!

Jimi Hendrix was amongst many musicians who loved ‘Desdemona’ by John’s Children, does it bother you that the song is more associated with Marc Bolan?

Not really, mind you, Wow! Jimi Hendrix recording that would have been amazing. It was Marc’s idea of ‘Jailhouse Rock’, we recorded it at Spot Studios in South Molton Street in 1967. Cream were next door and Chris would occasionally pop his head round and swear at Ginger Baker, not sure why. Once again, we got another ban because of the lyrics ‘Lift up your skirt and fly’ and the BBC refused to play it. It’s one of those songs that people remember, even though we had released many good songs before this one, including ‘Smashed Blocked’ and ‘Remember Thomas A Beckett’, but it’s mainly the Marc Bolan fans who only recall this song.  His backing vocals are very distinctive on the record. Obviously, our name was enhanced because of our connection with Marc, but we are also named as precursors of glam rock and punk. It’s a shame that we only get a fleeting mention in most of Marc’s biographies, as there are so many tales to tell of his time with us, the books all missed out on a lovely story there. Paul Weller ended up covering it at a gig. In fact, his current bass player, Andy Lewis, played with us on the last gig that Chris Thomson played before he passed away in 2008.

In a stroke of irony, Chris Townson replaced Keith Moon during The Who’s tour, he must have been ecstatic!

Yes, and we were thrilled for him. Despite the Germany fiasco, Kit asked Chris to fill in for Keith while he recovered in hospital after a stage prank went wrong. Chris was a huge fan and jumped at the chance. Despite the fact they were never friendly to us; they were still our musical heroes. Pete gave Chris a pile of records and said “Learn these, we play at the Isle of Mann tomorrow”. Chris was so excited and he pretty much knew how to play the songs anyway. ‘Desdemona’ was number two in the charts and The Who fans loved that Chris was standing in for Keith. Despite being a great replacement, Pete and Roger didn’t really speak to him but John was very friendly and they usually went clubbing together and would end up at a casino because John enjoyed a gamble. Roger and Pete still kept their distance and didn’t really acknowledge Chris. He adjusted well to coming back to John’s Children after playing to huge venues and living the rock star life. He was just happy to have played with them and done a good job.

What is the story of you all destroying an elderly couple’s living room?

FAB 208 (that was a teenybop magazine at the time) ran a piece where they got us to decorate an elderly couple’s terraced house in Islington while they went out for a treat. Of course, it got completely out of hand and we ended up throwing paint everywhere, all over the furniture and curtains, it was in a terrible state. This poor old couple came back and burst into tears. Simon had to pay a lot of money for it to be put right again and get furniture replaced. I’m not sure why on earth a teen magazine would ask a band like John’s Children to paint a pensioners’ home! It’s like asking the Sex Pistols to take tea with the Queen!

What led to John’s Children splitting up?

We had some gigs in the West Country, Chris Colville was still on drums and Chris and John on guitar. The pair of them had a really bad fight on stage and Chris Townson stormed off the stage during the set. The two Chris’ went back to London while John and I continued on the road and had a wild holiday on the south coast. We decided to sell the equipment along the way and live off the proceeds.  Once we had run out of funds and had nothing left to sell, we headed back to London to face Simon.

How did Simon react and what did you do after the split?

Simon was surprisingly okay and probably knew it was coming. He suggested that John Hewlett should now manage me under his supervision and we moved into his old flat near Kings Road, Chelsea. That was the end of John’s Children and the start of my solo career. I was signed to CBS and made quite a few records including Beatles covers as well as my own songs. I appeared on various TV shows and commercials and did stunt work for ‘The Avengers’. We hung out at Lionel Bart’s house where many colourful characters partied, including Keith Moon, Twiggy, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Lionel was such a flamboyant and lovely man, very eccentric and entertaining. He was reworking his compositions for the film version of his stage musical ‘Oliver!’ And he played his piano as we sang along with drinks in one hand and drugs in the other. I went to the London film premiere in 1968 and was fascinated to hear all those songs he had played on the piano being performed on the big screen. A young David Bowie was a regular guest at his house and he played me a rough version of ‘Space Oddity’ on his acoustic guitar and asked for my opinion, I just said “Yeah, it’s alright”, having no idea what I would hear on the radio some months later. I met up with David again at an audition for a role in ‘Virgin Soldiers’, the casting agent asked if I would cut my hair for the part but I refused and David said yes, so he got a part.  Simon suggested I studied mime with Marcel Marceau and train in acrobatics, so that’s what I did! John went on to manage other artists and did really well.

What was your involvement with the film ‘Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush’?

After a few solo projects, I recorded my song ‘It’s Been A Long Time’ with a full orchestra for the Spencer Davies Group and Traffic film. Simon asked me to assist in the edit suite in Old Compton street as he was the film’s musical director. Paul McCartney and John Lennon were next door sitting in on the film edit of ‘Magical Mystery Tour’. John was always hanging out of the window and shouting obscenities at passers while Paul was more focussed on the film. Paul and I both had girlfriends called Jane and whenever the phone rang in the corridor, one of us would answer and end up speaking to the other’s Jane which got confusing. I enjoyed doing something different and Simon recognised that I picked up things quickly, so it was a lot of fun to work on and I was chuffed they wanted me to sing one of my own songs.

What happened to the other band members and how did Jet come about?

I kept in touch with the guys and saw Chris Townson regularly; he became a graphic designer and later got involved in social work. I always kept in touch with Marc and stayed good friends, he was really special and I still miss him. I’d loved to have seen what he would be doing now; he was very ahead of his time. I took a break from music and took up painting again, which I still enjoy. I used to sell my art work from house to house which proved quite lucrative. I met a French guy who was a fellow artist; we decided to go travelling for a year and ended up in all kinds of adventures which will be in my autobiography! On my return, Chris was playing in a band called Jook and John was managing both Jook and Sparks at the time. Sparks fired their bass player, Martin Gordon, after they recorded their LP Kimono My House. Martin wanted to write some songs but they preferred to retain control in the band. Martin contacted Chris after Jook split and suggested they form a band, they invited me to join them. We got David O’List from Roxy Music and The Nice on guitar. Our manager was linked to CBS and brought in Peter Oxendale on keyboards and Jet was born in 1974.

Jet was considered glam rock, would you agree?

We played the songs that Martin had intended for Sparks, so it was a similar style to them and very glam rock. It wasn’t really the kind of music I wanted to do but CBS was keen on it, so I became a glam rocker and decided to look the part. We supported Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson on a UK tour which was a blast. Ian McLeod joined us after David and Peter left. We used to lock up all our equipment in the CBS storage vaults but one day they told us it had all been stolen but we didn’t believe them and suspected they had taken it back and used Jet as a tax loss. They signed up a lot of bands at the same time and clearly decided to choose which ones they wanted to keep, they could claim for the ones they let go. While we were in Somerset rehearsing a rock opera for our next LP, one of their accountants came by and was shocked by the opera and told us we were dropped from the label. They really messed us about and it was all because of money.

When did Jet become the punk band Radio Stars?

   

In 1977, I went to Rock On Records in Camden where a guy called Ted Carroll ran his own label, Chiswick Records, which launched many punk acts. I played a Jet demo of ‘Dirty Pictures’ and he agreed to sign us for a year to see how things went. Ted sent a promo of ‘Dirty Pictures’ to the Melody Maker and they loved it and asked what we were called. He looked at my list of suggestions for a new name and quickly picked Radio Stars. We realised that was our chosen name by reading the Melody Maker review. I’ve always been interested in astronomy and I took the name from quasars in space which are a source of radio waves, also known as Radio Stars.

Radio Stars made their TV debut on ‘Marc’. Looking back, that must have been a great but poignant experience.

One day, I bumped in to Marc down Kings Road where I was late and running to a Radio Stars rehearsal. This purple Mini with blacked out windows swung round and swerved next to me, the window wound down and there was Marc, “Hey, man”, he said, “What are you running from?” I explained where I was going and he said he had heard about Radio Stars and that he was soon going to have his own TV show and maybe we could appear on it. I told the others in the rehearsal and they all looked at me disbelievingly. But sure enough, two months later, our management got a call asking us to appear on the ‘Marc’ show. Marc looked surprisingly young and fit, as I had heard he had lost the plot a bit in his tax haven in Monte Carlo, taking lots of drugs and binging on Champagne. I think we did ‘No Russians in Russia’ on the show, and we had made tentative arrangements to meet up soon after his last show, but it was not to be. I was so happy for his success and it was great to catch up with him again, but sadly he died soon after. We used Marc’s song for John’s Children, ‘Horrible Breath,’ as the B- side to ‘Nervous Wreck’ which really pleased him. We appeared on the ‘Old Grey Whistle Test’ but Bob Harris didn’t speak to any of us, he really wasn’t interested in our style of music, he had many punk bands on the show but he never liked any of them. We recorded three John Peel sessions which were more enjoyable, and toured with Eddie and the Hot Rods and Squeeze. We also headlined our own tour but split up after our second LP.

What is Andy Ellison up to these days?

I’ve continued to play with old band members over the years; we’ve played at a few punk events in London as well as gigs in Europe and US. It’s been really busy but great fun to perform with old mates again and play songs from all our bands. Many songs and albums have been re-released over time, so our music has never gone away. John’s Children recorded the Black & White LP which was released by Acid Jazz in 2011 and includes new material as well as my version of ‘Sara, Crazy Child’ which I consider to be one of Marc’s finest songs. Boz Boorer joined our band; he’s a John’s Children fan and has worked extensively with Morrissey. I bumped in to him in my corner shop, where he said “You were in my favourite band, how about reforming and I’ll play guitar?”  I played at the Steve Marriott Memorial event at the Astoria in 2001 and I unveiled a plaque to the Small Faces in Carnaby Street in 2007 where Don Arden had his office.  Radio Stars supported Eddie and the Hot Rods at the 100 Club in 2010. I’ve appeared with T.Rextasy at many T. Rex conventions and benefit shows. They do a great job in keeping Marc’s memory alive, Daniel and his wife Karen are lovely people who work really hard and have a huge following of their own, apart from Marc’s fans.  I’m playing at the Marc Bolan 35th Anniversary Concert at the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire on 15th September 2012. There will be more John’s Children gigs coming up, so keep checking our website and Facebook page. I’m told that I’m a cult, but I think they spelt it wrong! I’m busy writing my autobiography; it’s amazing how much comes back as I write.  It will be a very funny and fascinating read about my life which has been very eventful with hopefully loads more to come.  My most outstanding memory of my musical career will always be that final show on The Who tour in Germany which was really scary but so amazing at the same time, I’ll never forget that. Hopefully, I’ll hook up with Simon when he’s next in London and we’ll mull over old times!

Which of your songs are you most proud of?

I’m really proud of them all but I am very fond of ‘Remember Thomas A Beckett’ which was the B-side to ‘Desdemona’. I wrote it with John and based the lyrics on a 1964 remake of a film called ‘Night Must Fall’ starring Albert Finney; it’s a dark story about murder and obsession. Simon was going through his hippie stage and he wanted to slightly change the lyrics and renamed it ‘Come And Play With Me In The Garden’. I wrote ‘Midsummer Night’s Scene’ with Marc, it mentions petals and flowers, so these songs were often claimed to be the beginnings of Flower Power in the UK. I believe Marc didn’t want it released as he wasn’t happy with the production. There were only about fifty promos printed for record companies. Chris Townson used his copies as Frisbees in the fields near where he lived! The last copy sold for £4.5K, I still have my one!

You’ve suffered many injuries and accidents, which has been the worse?

We had some awful near-misses in our old van. We were driving home from a gig when another car sped towards us and the van went up the embankment and spun over a few times, I was thrown out of the back window. Miraculously, we survived with cuts and bruises but it was one of many accidents we had in that van! Apart from the dislocated neck in Germany, I was always getting cuts and sprains from the stage fights and jumping off equipment, I’d often get punched while I was crowd surfing. I got more injuries in Radio stars. Once, someone stuck a hypodermic needle in my arm when I jumped in the audience, I could hardly stand and had to be taken to Hartlepool hospital, it must have been some kind of tranquiliser but it was scary for a while with the AIDS thing.  I also fell 25 feet from a lighting rig, I was hanging upside down singing when one of the powerful lights swung down my arm, I just had to let go and fell in to the audience. I was unconscious for some time and broke my back and had serious burns to my arms that put me out of action for six months. I also had severed arteries and broken kneecaps at other times. NME once printed a picture of me as a skeleton and named all my injuries. I must have used up nine lives by now.

What instruments do you play?

I have several guitars including a pink paisley Telecaster and a Union Jack acoustic guitar. I play piano when I’m composing and still enjoy the harmonica. I have an electric violin which I can’t really play but I can make some amazing sounds with it.  My favourite instrument is my acoustic guitar.

Who are you listening to at the moment?

I like many current bands; I’m currently listening to a band called Hard-Fi. I love Goldfrapp and Richard Hawley but I’m open to all kinds of music and I’m enjoying classical music these days. I’m not a fan of country but their occasional rock-based songs can be quite good. I tend to avoid Rap but one of my daughters is a fan and I sometimes hear the odd song which I think is really clever. I’d never want to manage a band, I’d be terrible and encourage people to be too outrageous and they’d probably end up killing someone because of me! But I’d advise new bands not to take it too seriously, many don’t seem to be in it for the fun and madness, they’re like accountants and business people these days. I guess times change but they need to have fun, money shouldn’t be the drive behind making music. I still think back to the days of us travelling to gigs in our old van, they were the best times we had, really.

Is there anything else you would like to try?

Aside from writing my book, I’d like to act; I might have left it too late, who knows? I still enjoy painting, especially large black and white portraits; I’ve painted Keith Richards, Jimi Hendrix and Keith Moon amongst others. I love popping across to my place in the South of France and writing music, drinking wine and chilling. My favourite thing is rowing, I have a rowing boat at my studio on the Thames near Windsor and often go out at dusk, and it is magical.

Any regrets?

Only that Marc died so young.

 Thank you to Andy Ellison, a gentleman and a scholar….and eternal rock and roller.

Links:

John’s Children website: www.johnschildren.co.uk

John’s Children Facebook: www.facebook.com/johnschildren

Marc Bolan’s 35th Anniversary Concert: www.prsformusicfund.com/marcbolan

John’s Children e-book: www.amazon.com

Black & White CD: www.amazon.co.uk

The Groove Lounge – Andy Ellison unplugged & radio interview: www.thegroover.net

Michelle ‘MimiVonTussle’

A child of the 50s, remembers the 60s, partied in the 70s and was hung-over in the 80s. Used to sit in David Bowie’s garden, Biba’s shop window and leaned on the jukebox in SEX, stood up occasionally. Raised in Fulham by very cool parents and a stone’s throw from The Nashville, The Greyhound, Hammersmith Odeon and Kings Road. Still mourns the Speakeasy and Wardour Street’s Marquee plus other deceased London music venues and greasy spoons. Worked for Mary Quant in the 70s and enjoyed the social scene that went with it. Was surrounded by punk squats in the mid-70s and hung out at Beggar’s Banquet basement studio watching bands drink and rehearse while avoiding electrocution. Went to Lindsay Kemp’s mime classes with punk goddess Jordan, we were both rubbish. Grew up with Paul Cook and got hit over the head by Sid’s guitar at the Speakeasy. Saw many iconic gigs back in the day including New York Dolls at Biba’s Rainbow Room and Ziggy Stardust’s farewell show at Hammersmith. Lived in NY & LA in ’79, mainly went to gigs and posed in a leather jacket. Worked in live events production for The Hippodrome in the 80s and produced and directed fringe theatre while working in film and TV in the 90s. Still dabbles in publicity work and writes scripts which gather dust. Works at Ealing Studios and recently formed a film production company. Always listening to music and reads constantly, re-learning guitar and loves all things creative. Still writes with pen and paper. Started to talk to people at bus stops.

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June 5, 2015 By : Category : Features Front page Genres Glam Interviews Modernist Music Rock Tags:, , , , , , ,
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DozenQ – The Substitutes

This entry is part 15 of 20 in the series DozenQ

The Substitutes are a four-piece mod covers band from South Wales who are enjoying an incredibly busy year headlining gigs and supporting the likes of From The Jam. They cover songs from iconic bands including Small Faces, The Who, the Jam, the Kinks while throwing Tamla Motown, 1960’s soul and Northern soul into the mix. They’re not after the big time, they just want to play music they love and expand the Welsh mod scene. They’re not averse to spreading their sounds elsewhere in the UK, so read what Dan Owens and Jon Amos told Eyeplug and check out their links.

Band Members:

Paul Cobley: Guitar, vocals
Daniel Owens: Bass, vocals
Jon Amos: Guitar, backing vocals
Steve Roberts: Drums

01. When and how did the band form?

Dan Owens: I bought a Hofner bass and two days later Jon called me up and asked me to join. Getting the chance to use it properly and playing with Jon again was too good to refuse!

Jon Amos: A bit of a long story, but myself and Dan had been in bands together previously, I was also in a band with Paul a few years back and Paul and Gareth (our original drummer) had also played together in the past. After a six year break from being in bands, due to having kids, I was asked to join a band last year. I played a couple of gigs with them but it wasn’t really my thing and it didn’t work out. Having got the guitar-playing bug back, I came up with the idea of putting together a mod covers band. The first people I called upon were Dan and Paul because of their mutual love for all things mod. Paul suggested bringing in Gareth as our drummer. Everyone was up for it and that’s where it all started

02. Do any of you come from a musical background?

Dan: My parents are big music fans, I was raised on Dylan, Beatles, Bowie etc but my dad’s tone deaf, so he never played but my mum had piano lessons as a kid. Both their fathers were musical, one played piano and the other played accordion

Jon: I’m from a big musical family with my father and grandfather both playing in brass bands for many years, but I decided to do my own thing when I was about 14 years old and took up the guitar. I think it was more a rebellious thing than anything else!

03. Who are your major influences and who do you swerve?

Dan: 1960s mod, psychedelic, blue note, jazz, country and blues. As long as you can tap a foot to it, I like it. Also, I gotta believe in the singer’s vocals. Take Jonny Cash, when he sings “I killed a man in Reno just to watch him die”, I believe him. Sam Cooke is another. I think it’s called Soul.

 Jon: My biggest musical influences are the obvious ones, Paul Weller, Steve Marriott and Steve Cradock. Ocean Colour Scene was probably the first band I got into that was mod-influenced, and it was from them that I started to discover all things mod related. My musical influences started around 1995/96 and sort of went backwards. I swerve anything that’s manufactured or comes from one of the TV talent shows

04. You cover mod classics including Tamla and Northern Soul, which song do you most enjoy performing and which song is the most challenging?

Dan: Barrett Strong’s ‘Money’. I’ve mixed up the verses a few times and the rest of the band can never stop laughing before we get to a verse. Most challenging is The Action’s version of ‘I’ll Keep On holding On’. Reg King was such a great vocalist, and playing bass and nailing his vocal is ridiculous!

Jon: Most enjoyable for me are either ‘High Heel Sneakers’ or ‘Biff Bang Pow’. Both dance floor fillers. Most challenging has gotta be ‘Money’. Trying to play guitar whilst in hysterics at Dan forgetting the words is very difficult!!

05. What can someone expect from your live shows?

Dan: Fun. Our main objective is to enjoy ourselves at our gigs. If we’re not having a good time then how the hell are the crowd? I’ve left the stage a few times to dance with the crowd, I get so carried away. We’ve had people jump on stage with us, whether it’s singing or playing inflatable guitars. It’s a party!

Jon: They can expect to see a band who doesn’t take themselves too seriously, having fun and playing some classic mod tunes.

06. What is the mod scene like in South Wales?

Dan: Well, up until a few years ago, I could count the mods I knew on one hand. Since we’ve been playing, it’s opened up to a lot more. We played in Cardiff recently and it was full of mods of all ages and immaculately dressed. I think we’re bringing nods together with our gigs, which makes the whole thing even more enjoyable. Everyone gets to wear the clothes they probably wouldn’t wear down their local on a Saturday afternoon and they can let their hair down.

Jon: I wouldn’t say the mod scene in South Wales is thriving but we’re hoping we can do something about that.

07. Is there a gig that you wish you could have attended?

Dan: James Brown at the Apollo. The way he works that crowd gives me goosebumps whenever I listen to it – the band, his voice, and most importantly, the show. I was lucky enough to go to the Apollo recently, it was like a pilgrimage.

Jon: I would have loved to have seen the Jam live; unfortunately I came into the world at the wrong time!

08. Any plans to play outside of Wales?

Dan: Yes! We’re planning big things for next year. We’ve had interest from all the big cities and I’m getting asked daily on Twitter. We’re booked up until Christmas 2012, so we can’t fit in anything as yet

Jon: Yes, soon. We’ve had numerous offers already but this year is mainly about getting our name around the South Wales area and getting gigs under our belts. But keep an eye out for us at a venue near you soon!

09. Do any of you write your own songs and do you have plans to perform them alongside covers?

Dan: I’ve been writing for a while but I’ve never taken it seriously, it’s just for shits and giggles. I’ve got no patience, so if it’s not done in an hour, I won’t go back to it. The great thing about iPhone is that I can record it there and then, and upload it to Soundcloud, so I don’t forget it. I’d never perform my songs with the band; it would be so out of place next to the perfection of a Marvin Gaye track.

Jon: Dan writes and records his own stuff but no we have no plans to play them or any other original songs as the Substitutes. We played in original bands for many years but we are more about the gigs and the fun of it all, rather than any record contract.

10. Where do the Substitutes envisage being in five years time?

Dan: Taking lunch at The Ivy

Jon: Still together hopefully!! We haven’t really planned that far ahead and are just taking things in our stride. Playing our music all over the UK would be nice

11. If you could play on the same bill as three other bands in 2012, who would they be and where?

Dan: Steve Winwood is a hero of mine, so that’s my number one. I would be crazy not to say McCartney as he’s my favourite ever bassist (he could write ok, too). I think a jam with Cornershop would be ace. They blend so many eras and genres of music into their albums and keep it sounding fresh, they’re a mind-blowing talent. The most current bands that I’m into are mates of mine that I’ve been lucky to play with, such as Henry’s Funeral Shoe, El Goodo, Broken Vinyl Club etc.

Jon: Again, the obvious ones, I’m afraid: Small Faces, the Jam and probably Otis Redding (not technically a band, I know!!). If you mean current artists, it would be Paul Weller, Ryan Adams (not mod but the guy’s a pure genius) and possibly Miles Kane. Where? Anywhere! My back garden would be good!

12. What should we be expecting from you in the near future? Please feel free to plug your gigs.

Dan: I’ll leave that to Jon, he’s the switched on one. I have to ask him where we’re playing the night before the gig!

Jon: Loads and loads of gigs, we are adding more mod classics to our set each week, so hopefully our set is going to go from strength to strength. We have a big ChristMod night lined up in one of the larger Cardiff venues in December and we’re also part of March of the Mods next year in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust.  Our website is due to be launched in the coming weeks but, in the meantime, you can keep an eye on our Facebook page to see what we’re up to and where we’re playing. Hope to see a lot of you at our gigs in the next year, come and say hello, we don’t bite!!

Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/TheSubstitutesMod
Twitter – https://twitter.com/#!/TheSubstitutes1
YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/TheSubstitutes1
Gigs on Ents24 – http://www.ents24.com/TheSubstitutes

Michelle ‘MimiVonTussle’

A child of the 50s, remembers the 60s, partied in the 70s and was hung-over in the 80s. Used to sit in David Bowie’s garden, Biba’s shop window and leaned on the jukebox in SEX, stood up occasionally. Raised in Fulham by very cool parents and a stone’s throw from The Nashville, The Greyhound, Hammersmith Odeon and Kings Road. Still mourns the Speakeasy and Wardour Street’s Marquee plus other deceased London music venues and greasy spoons. Worked for Mary Quant in the 70s and enjoyed the social scene that went with it. Was surrounded by punk squats in the mid-70s and hung out at Beggar’s Banquet basement studio watching bands drink and rehearse while avoiding electrocution. Went to Lindsay Kemp’s mime classes with punk goddess Jordan, we were both rubbish. Grew up with Paul Cook and got hit over the head by Sid’s guitar at the Speakeasy. Saw many iconic gigs back in the day including New York Dolls at Biba’s Rainbow Room and Ziggy Stardust’s farewell show at Hammersmith. Lived in NY & LA in ’79, mainly went to gigs and posed in a leather jacket. Worked in live events production for The Hippodrome in the 80s and produced and directed fringe theatre while working in film and TV in the 90s. Still dabbles in publicity work and writes scripts which gather dust. Works at Ealing Studios and recently formed a film production company. Always listening to music and reads constantly, re-learning guitar and loves all things creative. Still writes with pen and paper. Started to talk to people at bus stops.

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June 16, 2015 By : Category : DozenQ Eyeplugs Interviews Modernist Music Tags:, ,
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The Electric Stars live at 100 Club

Wandering up Oxford Street to the 100 Club, the infamous illuminated sign was sadly switched off, but upon entering the venue, the lights were most definitely on. The venue was quickly filling up and the DJ was clearly enjoying himself on the decks that he didn’t notice The Electric Stars’ vocalist/songwriter Jason Edge and lead guitarist/music collaborator, Andy Bee take to the stage.  John Hellier, owner of ‘Wapping Wharf’, enthusiastically introduced the band and we were treated to ‘136’ which provided a glorious intro as the rest of the band strolled on stage to take their places, with Damian Lawson on rhythm guitar, Keith (Keef) Whitehead on bass guitar and French Jonny on drums.

Jason didn’t waste any time in dancing around the stage like a kitsch fire cracker, connecting to each band member who immediately sparked off each other with a surging musical chemistry while Jonny rumbled a drumming earthquake. The energy was set as the crowd gathered while these Salford lads geared up for some serious rock and roll.

The lyrics Beautiful music for beautiful people not only ended the opening song but set the pace for 30 minutes of wild, energetic musicianship perfectly in keeping with their obvious passion for the venue. We southerners are a discerning lot, but we’re honest. We may not jump and down or clap along very much, but we rock inside, and if we go to the bar and stay there, the act has lost us, but no chance with this band, no one wanted to miss a second of their mesmerising set.

Next up was ‘Between the Streets and the Stars’, a catchy tune with a groovy intro as Jason prowled the stage, making eye contact with the crowd who were rapidly expanding. The Electric Stars have an immediately identifiable style and the kind of measured confidence seen only in those who know instinctively they’re doing it right. Andy provided spine-tingling slide guitar, reminiscent of old school masterful chording, while Keith and Damian played with a great fluidity and resonance, neatly displaying how light-fingered and dextrous they can be with airy chords effortlessly spilling forth.

Jason introduced a backdrop to each song, he explained that ‘Blind’ is about “Love coming back to bite you in the ass”.  His dynamics swung him from a soft, almost confidential voice to punchy, strong tones, sometimes in the same sentence as he invited us in to a world of his own design, re-living every moment of every experience he sung about, literally feeling his way through his lyrics. Andy and Damian cranked out those interlocking riffs, chugs and wails while the crowd’s buzz did the rest.  The extended closure of the song was one of those ‘trip and run’ moments where the crowd cheered and applauded, then abruptly stopped as they realised there was more to come, they weren’t complaining.

‘Who’s Gonna Satisfy Me?took the pace back up with the audible magic of Jason’s vocals and vintage stylee percussion while the sexy riffs formed a bewitching union. The slide guitar scorchers, lurching drums and concentrated bass were all beautifully slotted together in a care-free fashion that displayed a keen sense of drama. Jason knocked over his mic stand as he manically caressed the stage with every stride, Andy moved aside as he wryly smiled and rolled his eyes up to Hendrix on a cloud. This band was having fun and their excitement was palpable.

‘Stardustgave us thought-provoking lyrical complexity mixed with Jason’s perfectly pitched voice, piercing through the other instruments to deliver his inimitable tone and coolness. We delighted in frenetic rhythm and bass guitar work with pulsating drums while Andy effortlessly stroked his guitar like a piece of silk. It’s wonderful music for mind and body. Their outrageously tight spontaneity never lets up. They know all the old rules but they’ve invented a couple of new ones too, which makes the game so much more interesting.

 

‘I Want You’ is one of the current singles from their EP on Detour Records and another tune that sticks in your head. Andy coaxed, cajoled and lived every sound he created, his notes suspended in mid-air before spinning into a pysch cartwheel. Damian played beguiling melodic rhythm guitar with Keith on staggering bass which gave a perfect union while Andy flicked styles from Page to wah-wah wipeout or zig-zagging between the Beatles and T. Rex in one verse. Jonny gave 100% on the kit. A total natural, the rhythm poured straight out onto the skins. Jason brought to mind the balls in a pinball machine, as he bounced around the stage with a fabulous eye-popping velocity. A breath-taking and exciting performance, the set was over all too soon.

As one guitar-hero said on the night “I wouldn’t like to follow them”. DC Fontana headlined and had a tough crowd to please after the previous set, but there was great north and south support for all bands including The Latter Day Saints who went on first.

The Electric Stars have panache and style and are gorgeously infectious. They’re at once commanding and sensitive, carefree and hip. They pack so much power and electric purity into their live performance that it isn’t possible, practical or indeed worthwhile to compare them with anybody else. Though, their influences are clear and commendable. They deserve to headline with a full set, and I suggest they get used to the motorways; they’ll be using them a lot from now on.

Go to their official website for further info: www.theelectricstars.com/

Current singles on Detour Records:

‘I Want You’ – Official video
‘Stoned Again’ – Official video

Photo stills by Jim Jennings

Michelle ‘MimiVonTussle’

A child of the 50s, remembers the 60s, partied in the 70s and was hung-over in the 80s. Used to sit in David Bowie’s garden, Biba’s shop window and leaned on the jukebox in SEX, stood up occasionally. Raised in Fulham by very cool parents and a stone’s throw from The Nashville, The Greyhound, Hammersmith Odeon and Kings Road. Still mourns the Speakeasy and Wardour Street’s Marquee plus other deceased London music venues and greasy spoons. Worked for Mary Quant in the 70s and enjoyed the social scene that went with it. Was surrounded by punk squats in the mid-70s and hung out at Beggar’s Banquet basement studio watching bands drink and rehearse while avoiding electrocution. Went to Lindsay Kemp’s mime classes with punk goddess Jordan, we were both rubbish. Grew up with Paul Cook and got hit over the head by Sid’s guitar at the Speakeasy. Saw many iconic gigs back in the day including New York Dolls at Biba’s Rainbow Room and Ziggy Stardust’s farewell show at Hammersmith. Lived in NY & LA in ’79, mainly went to gigs and posed in a leather jacket. Worked in live events production for The Hippodrome in the 80s and produced and directed fringe theatre while working in film and TV in the 90s. Still dabbles in publicity work and writes scripts which gather dust. Works at Ealing Studios and recently formed a film production company. Always listening to music and reads constantly, re-learning guitar and loves all things creative. Still writes with pen and paper. Started to talk to people at bus stops.

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June 5, 2015 By : Category : Front page Live Modernist Music Reviews Tags:, , ,
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Mike Marlin – Man On The Ground LP

Finalist in the Mike Marlin 2012 Film Competition. Visit http://www.mikemarlin.co.uk/ for full details.

MIKE MARLIN – Album: Man On The Ground

Label: Amp Music Productions / Released 13th February 2012

Mike Marlin has ripped through 2011 being chosen as HMV ‘Next Big Thing’, releasing his debut album Nearly Man, touring the UK twice, singing disco with dwarves, smashing an office to pieces and vanishing for 3 months only to emerge triumphant with another eleven songs recorded in an undisclosed basement and mastered in Abbey Road.

‘The Magician’

It proceeds to build from verse to verse; Marlin’s Bowiesque vocals gets wider, the guitar more abandoned, more wanton. A wistful, endearing track with interplaying piano and strings, has just the right amount of intensity to enhance the song without dragging it down or making Marlin’s naturalistic vocal seem constrained or out of place. Producer Catherine Marks’ (co-writer of this song) masterful piano playing is outstanding throughout the album and brings this emotive piece to a beautiful end.

‘This Town’

Marlin sings with such pent-up emotion and hope that the powerful up tempo track flies outward from the vocal, as if the direct result of inspiration drawn from it. Musically the piece is string-dominated and very lush and full with Marlin’s voice incising between; the scraping fade-out says it all

‘Steve McQueen’

Co-written with Eleanor McEvoy, the impressionistic lyrics about ‘The King of Cool” are vivid but provocative, making them as curiously personal as phrases mumbled in sleep. They’re delivered in an airy, story-telling format that blends as naturally into the dreamy arrangements as a breeze rippling through tall grass. Keyboards and strings are fabulously imaginative and suggestive.

‘Lost & Found’

It has a mood of drifting solitude that’s just right at the end of a strange sad night when the manholes have been trying to bite you. Marlin’s melodies are seldom less than enchanting. Built around acoustic guitar and muffled percussion, they become emotionally charged when shaded by Parks’ poignant piano playing. The baritone quality to Marlin’s voice is not too distanced from Lou Reed’s dulcet tones at times.

‘Left Behind’

Throbbing with similar aching beauty, whether obscurely introspective or groping outward, Marlin seems to be communing with a pantheistic spirit; he consistently charts this communion with stirring empathy and authenticity. The simple and effective arrangements set out the lyrics perfectly with vintage guitar-playing by Marlin.

‘Hymn to Disappointment’

Vocally, Marlin’s personality vibrates his precise musical framework like a caged tiger rattling its bars. (That he sings in a stiff, reedy voice, grasping for higher notes like a drowning man lunging for air, only heightens the drama.). Native-style drum beat suits the mood beautifully.

‘Better’

Marlin exposes his romanticism and its corollary. He perceives the shape of a loving relationship through the muck of his world and that perception only makes him sadder when considering the future possibilities of seeing her again. “But it would be better, if ever, I could see you again”. That lyric speaks a thousand words, which many of us can relate to. The song ends with a heart-rending, open tenderness, edging towards being my favourite track.

‘Girl From Chelsea Bridge’

This song is completely beyond higher, and is certainly the most appealing and incantatory of these spells. Arrangements that wed an understated musical freedom to the dignity of string quartets and a burst of ukulele make his music partly folk, partly art house. Working a single mood almost exclusively with ecstatic yearning; Marlin explores the logic and disorientation of youthful love, decision-making, ambition and the need for selfishness on both parts. “I had a suitcase full of faith” says it all, really.

‘Heartbeat’

A quivering piano and sympathetic guitar move around the melody line, peeking between his words while showing sky between his phrasings. Jarrod Pizatta’s drums provide the pulsating “Heartbeat” of the song and, of course, Marlin’s plaintive and gently weeping guitar vocal contribute immeasurably to this impression, especially when he delivers the line “Wherever I may go, I can fold our hearts together”

‘Grand Central Station’

It is a slow, deliberate ethereal introduction. Marlin captures moments of uncanny grace. His espresso-dark vocals with rough, rich textures make for a magical, evocative song. Trembling, sensual, whimsical tenderness; not too serious, not too sweet, not too angelic, but not ordinary, not surrendered to any one style.

‘Travel The World’

Especially vivid is Marlin’s sense of melancholy and the ingenious clusters of images he employs in his lyrics. He sings them as if the last thing he wants to do is to melodramatise his dilemma: “And I’m gonna travel the world, regather the dreams and the love that you stole”. A series of mood/tone changes between verses; the strings, for instance, get increasingly lush and fuller. A profoundly seductive song that is extraordinarily tender and made all the more beautiful by Irish singer Eleanor McEvoy’s gentle vocals and violin playing, blending perfectly with Marlin’s lost soul and Parks’ balletic piano skills.

Mike Marlin’s themes are often elementary, and the most common deal with the antinomies of trust and paranoia, love and hate, peace and anger, guilt and salvation. And in his best work, he particularises those conflicts in ways that force us to finally take the songs on a broader level than he may have intended. It is a most moving statement of the notion that in the end the only thing we can do is take a chance.

Marlin is rummaging through the attics of nostalgia; the persona that emerges from this autobiographical album is his own, one that is sardonic, vulnerable and emotionally charged. His voice is heart-breaking and honest in its rawness … a style that evokes an aura of crushed cigarettes and Bourbon in darkened bars with Sinatra singing One for My Baby.

Website: www.mikemarlin.co.uk/

Michelle ‘MimiVonTussle’

A child of the 50s, remembers the 60s, partied in the 70s and was hung-over in the 80s. Used to sit in David Bowie’s garden, Biba’s shop window and leaned on the jukebox in SEX, stood up occasionally. Raised in Fulham by very cool parents and a stone’s throw from The Nashville, The Greyhound, Hammersmith Odeon and Kings Road. Still mourns the Speakeasy and Wardour Street’s Marquee plus other deceased London music venues and greasy spoons. Worked for Mary Quant in the 70s and enjoyed the social scene that went with it. Was surrounded by punk squats in the mid-70s and hung out at Beggar’s Banquet basement studio watching bands drink and rehearse while avoiding electrocution. Went to Lindsay Kemp’s mime classes with punk goddess Jordan, we were both rubbish. Grew up with Paul Cook and got hit over the head by Sid’s guitar at the Speakeasy. Saw many iconic gigs back in the day including New York Dolls at Biba’s Rainbow Room and Ziggy Stardust’s farewell show at Hammersmith. Lived in NY & LA in ’79, mainly went to gigs and posed in a leather jacket. Worked in live events production for The Hippodrome in the 80s and produced and directed fringe theatre while working in film and TV in the 90s. Still dabbles in publicity work and writes scripts which gather dust. Works at Ealing Studios and recently formed a film production company. Always listening to music and reads constantly, re-learning guitar and loves all things creative. Still writes with pen and paper. Started to talk to people at bus stops.

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June 5, 2015 By : Category : Front page Music Picks Reviews Tags:, , ,
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THE ELECTRIC STARS – Sonic Candy Soul

Recorded over 12 months at the infamous Vive Studios, Produced by Martin Coogan (Mock Turtles) & Yves Altana (Chameleons).

 The Electric Stars  (Unsigned)

Andy Bee – Guitar/Music Collaborator
Keef Whitehead – Bass
French Jonny – Drums
Damien Lawson – Guitar
Jason Edge – Vocals/Songwriter
Backing Vocals – Denise Johnson (Primal Scream)

The present line up got together from the remnants of various Manchester bands last summer to form The Electric Stars. Their mission is simple… To keep Rock n Roll alive! Currently touring, Detour records are going to release a single in February 2012.

‘136’

‘Beautiful music for beautiful people’. The first track serves as a kind of thematic intro into the touchstone of the album. Instantly catchy with a New York Dolls edge while flirting with Bolan vocals. Driven instrumentation throughout, the track is characterised by alternating soft and hard chord patterns set in interplay with punchy drums and loping bass patterns. An orgasmic, hypnotic, erotic foray into complete pop sensuality. I swear I heard a dash of The Sweet in there? The retro keyboards are the glacé cherry on the cake. Anything with ‘Bop bop ba la la’ is fine by me.

‘Between the Streets and the Stars’

Wonderful cheesy intro, go-go girls in silver mini dresses are strutting their stuff somewhere. Another glorious catchy melody and lyrics. Petula slips into the chorus – ‘I found a place where we can go’. Once again, some fine vintage backing vocals sneak in. This song illustrates simplicity and graceful harmony. What’s impressive is that the band make their statement with the same sort of friendly sympathy that was displayed by the likes of The Rolling Stones and The Faces. Not bad at all. Glorious ‘Diamond Dogs’ style ending provides a nice touch.

‘Alison Williams’

We are treated to a gentle Beatles vibe with a touch of Pink Floyd creeping in. Intelligent lyrics sang impeccably. Depicting the decline of a once vibrant person, the dark picture is beautifully painted by Edge’s crisp vocals while the band’s subtle musicianship is underplayed nicely. Each layer begins on a delicate, confessional note and to a chaste grandeur that never topples over into pretentiousness. An awareness of inevitable tragedy which touches the heart. Edge’s voice is blissfully tender – if you can feel, he can reach you.

‘I Want You’

This song wouldn’t be out of place on a 60’s film soundtrack. Edges vintage vocals are perfectly suited to this refinement of white noise into psychedelia. The charging guitar phrase that keeps running throughout, and the riff, is equally relentless. It’s a groovy tune that really sticks to your synapses. I’m hoping there’s a Townshend windmill or two when played live. Hypnotic production, haunting guitars fading in and out, complete with dog barking, what more could you want? This one’s a chart-topping winner.

‘Blind’

The ghosts of The Small Faces are omnipresent, the band’s musical influences are evident throughout this album but they retain their distinctive style. It’s a beautiful thing. Superb vocals hint of Dr Robert in parts. Choral backing vocals conjure up images of the Staple Singers in floaty robes. It’s dreamy, childlike, and dramatic all at once and contains both an unusually inventive melody and tender devotional vocals and musical arrangement. Intriguing fade out complete with gentle laughter.

‘Who’s Gonna Satisfy Me?’

A Faces style intro, they’re going for it. Edge steps in with his chameleon vocals which never disappoint. Thunderthighs style backing vocals come into play, something sadly lacking with a lot of current bands. Infectious rhythm of the drumming, the bass is solid and pulsing, the guitars provide slashing riffs, the structures are simple but effective. The tune is insistent and powerful; the rhythmic structuring builds in unimaginable waves to melodic insensibility, rich with quivering energy. A dark horse, this one.

‘Stoned Again’

Wonderful retro brass preamble. Edge’s chilled vocals wouldn’t be out of place in a Syd Barrett or Nick Drake song. Once again, the eloquent lyrics describe perfectly how he feels; each track continually creates a film in your mind, how clever is that? A simple bass and compelling guitar lines, subtle drumming and those endearing backing vocals, the music gets you high. But the key is in the tune itself, as emotionally complex as it is lyrically straightforward, every so often Edge’s voice burns through the velvet lining as he sings almost conversationally to the listener. This song triumphs by the economy and sensibility of their sound.

‘Old Fashioned Girl’

Another laid-back intro with a seamless guitar riff courted by Mike Garson style ivories. Edge’s vocals are alternately purringly seductive and furious while questioning love, relationships and mind games. The lyrics display unashamed vulnerability ‘You came into my world and strangled the life from me.’ Heartfelt words without being self-indulgent ‘Addicted to you and your fatal attraction’. It’s a sophisticated composition, a brief story that’s full of emotion but which never slides into dull sentiment. More proof that a song can survive without gimmicks and over production. They believe in ‘Less is more’ and the strength of this band is that their soul is in the timing. Sylvia Plath, eat your torn up heart out.

‘Not Man Enough’

Screaming of T. Rex mania, and I was there. Fabulous glam rock with boas and sequins all over the shop. Complete with rocking guitar slamming, the Ronno-style guitar break is short, catchy and effective. May need a lie down on a sofa at Biba after this. What an array of weapons this band has: awesome firepower, an ever-increasing depth of expression, timely themes and an artistic way of mixing these qualities on record. Their dynamic level increases progressively, it’s really quite something. Plum lips, fishnets and a rocking attitude is advised for this one. Whether you’re a boy or a girl.

‘Bedtime Stories’

Could easily have been the soundtrack to ‘The Prisoner’ or ‘Tales of the Unexpected’. Spacey and ghostly instrumentation compliment the angst-ridden lyrics: ‘Nostalgia, it haunts me’. Nostalgia is the recapturing of a certain feeling you once had before. The lyrics reflect beautifully on this. They obsessively juxtapose the irreconcilable demands of the head and the heart. ‘I’m not trying to say I don’t want you around, I want you to understand that I need time.’ Edge’s vignettes makes one suspect it’s not just that he’s capable of a certain detachment, but also that he can’t escape that detachment, it’s the way he’s always known things are. A powerful, emotional springboard for writing from the heart.

‘Isolation’

The bitter-sweet lyrics include ‘I’m feeling so exposed to the naked truth’. It’s Edge wearing his heart on his sleeve in this sexy production with a touch of the Lennons in the vocals. Cool jam going on with that vintage casual vibe. Within this framework, The Electric Stars have set various electronic miniatures, including passages of guitar feedback and distortions; tight and intelligently thought out placements. This song is absorbing on every level, alluring guitar stroking and exquisite drumbeat and there goes the ‘Na, na, na’. They also remind us that it’s ‘Beautiful music for beautiful people’. No chance of forgetting that by this stage of the game.

The Electric Stars’ love is, I think, something that can be consciously related to the sense of nostalgia, which in turn is something that has less to do with time and things past, and more to do with texture. Texture is sensuous; if style is how you do it, texture is the way you make it feel. Jason Edge’s voice with his inventive band’s musicianship behind it, not only feels a certain way, regardless of what it’s doing, it also establishes for you a certain relationship to things, which is maybe one reason why déjà vu is such a large part of The Electric Stars’ listening experience.

This band is destined for a beautiful year. The entire album is for your pleasure, a musical Jamboree bag. This is rock & roll with a bitter-sweet restraint. There’s a guiding intelligence which enables these excellent, assertive musicians to work with, and not against, each other. Keef Whitehead’s very prominent bass provides the rhythmic background of the album, and French Jonny’s drumming is solid and wonderfully varied. Jason Edge’s vocals are emotive in a Blunstone way, yet have the power to punch through when charged up. It’s the vocal equivalent of electric distortion. Lead guitarist, and main music collaborator, is outstanding lead guitarist Andy Bee, clearly born in the wrong era, he should have been jamming on Eel Pie Island with Jones, Clapton, Townshend et al. Joining forces with Andy is superb guitarist, Damien Lawson, together they all create a rocking psychedelic musical orgy of mayhem. If The Electric Stars don’t pack out venues and sell albums by the truckload, then I’ll eat my feather boa.

Website: http://www.theelectricstars.co.uk

Michelle ‘MimiVonTussle’

A child of the 50s, remembers the 60s, partied in the 70s and was hung-over in the 80s. Used to sit in David Bowie’s garden, Biba’s shop window and leaned on the jukebox in SEX, stood up occasionally. Raised in Fulham by very cool parents and a stone’s throw from The Nashville, The Greyhound, Hammersmith Odeon and Kings Road. Still mourns the Speakeasy and Wardour Street’s Marquee plus other deceased London music venues and greasy spoons. Worked for Mary Quant in the 70s and enjoyed the social scene that went with it. Was surrounded by punk squats in the mid-70s and hung out at Beggar’s Banquet basement studio watching bands drink and rehearse while avoiding electrocution. Went to Lindsay Kemp’s mime classes with punk goddess Jordan, we were both rubbish. Grew up with Paul Cook and got hit over the head by Sid’s guitar at the Speakeasy. Saw many iconic gigs back in the day including New York Dolls at Biba’s Rainbow Room and Ziggy Stardust’s farewell show at Hammersmith. Lived in NY & LA in ’79, mainly went to gigs and posed in a leather jacket. Worked in live events production for The Hippodrome in the 80s and produced and directed fringe theatre while working in film and TV in the 90s. Still dabbles in publicity work and writes scripts which gather dust. Works at Ealing Studios and recently formed a film production company. Always listening to music and reads constantly, re-learning guitar and loves all things creative. Still writes with pen and paper. Started to talk to people at bus stops.

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June 5, 2015 By : Category : Front page Glam Indie Modernist Picks Pop Reviews Tags:, ,
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Slow Burn by Films of Colour

Slow Burn by Films of Colour. Free download from 12 December 2012 – available from: www.filmsofcolour.com

Reviewer: Michelle Coomber

Slow Burn

This east London band has some front to cover a Bowie song, not many would have the nerve. But it’s paid off, and I applaud their excellent taste in music. ‘Slow Burn’ was originally produced for Bowie’s Heathen L.P by Tony Visconti and includes Pete Townsend’s masterful guitar-playing. This current version is endorsed by Visconti who has offered to produce Films of Colour’s album, not too shabby for an unsigned band. The song is handled respectfully with Andy Clutterbuck’s sensual, crisp vocals and controlled explosiveness that is perfectly placed alongside winding and luminous guitar riffs by Clutterbuck and James Hatcher. Jack Allinson’s manically sliding bass and wizardry electronica is on sparkling form while James Rees-Flynn ensures the determined drumming complete with fierce loops. The result is a lush, intricately layered sound while remaining clear and well- structured, offering precision, style and exquisite timing. Films of Colour have produced a fresh, alternative version with original direction and musical sophistication.

The band has received several comparisons, but I choose to ignore the Coldplay one, though I hear Chris Martin is a fan, but more impressively, so is Bowie, who has allowed a download link from his official website. Creating huge media interest, this innovative and perceptive band is guaranteed a magical start to 2012.

Michelle ‘MimiVonTussle’

A child of the 50s, remembers the 60s, partied in the 70s and was hung-over in the 80s. Used to sit in David Bowie’s garden, Biba’s shop window and leaned on the jukebox in SEX, stood up occasionally. Raised in Fulham by very cool parents and a stone’s throw from The Nashville, The Greyhound, Hammersmith Odeon and Kings Road. Still mourns the Speakeasy and Wardour Street’s Marquee plus other deceased London music venues and greasy spoons. Worked for Mary Quant in the 70s and enjoyed the social scene that went with it. Was surrounded by punk squats in the mid-70s and hung out at Beggar’s Banquet basement studio watching bands drink and rehearse while avoiding electrocution. Went to Lindsay Kemp’s mime classes with punk goddess Jordan, we were both rubbish. Grew up with Paul Cook and got hit over the head by Sid’s guitar at the Speakeasy. Saw many iconic gigs back in the day including New York Dolls at Biba’s Rainbow Room and Ziggy Stardust’s farewell show at Hammersmith. Lived in NY & LA in ’79, mainly went to gigs and posed in a leather jacket. Worked in live events production for The Hippodrome in the 80s and produced and directed fringe theatre while working in film and TV in the 90s. Still dabbles in publicity work and writes scripts which gather dust. Works at Ealing Studios and recently formed a film production company. Always listening to music and reads constantly, re-learning guitar and loves all things creative. Still writes with pen and paper. Started to talk to people at bus stops.

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June 5, 2015 By : Category : Features Folk Hype Indie Music News Picks Reviews Tags:, , , ,
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The Tamborines – Black & Blue/Indian Hill

Double A-side: Black & Blue/Indian Hill by The Tamborines

Record Label: Softpower Records http://www.softpowerrecords.co.uk

Black & Blue

Lead guitarist Henrique Lurindo’s soft ice cream vocals provide an interestingjuxtaposition to his Buzzcocks style of speedy, distorted explosions and trademark fuzz-tone guitar. Lulu Grave provides the solid drumming which carries the song over every crescendo. ‘Black & Blue’ is indie pop with psych/punk fusion and retro elements of  Fleur De Lys and Velvet Underground. It’s a catchy tune with rich, thickly-textured sound and no unnecessary clutter.

 

Indian Hill

The wistful vocals of Lulu Grave are vaguely reminiscent of ‘Twinkle’ who had a hit with ‘Terry’ in 1964. ‘Indian Hill’ displays respectful and simplistic guitar-playing with a keyboard doodle that hangs nicely in the background. This song could be worthy of Debbie Harry or Nico’s vocals, but Lulu does a more than admirable job, offering a suitably vintage innocence to this ethereal and  melodic tune.

This catchy double A-side is the band’s first new material since last year’s acclaimed debut album Camera and Tremor.  They also have the welcome addition of bass player Chokis Costa. This single lends itself to a more honest sound as opposed to some of  the over-produced studio recordings on offer today.

Double A-side 7” blue vinyl, in a limited edition of 300 on Soft Power Records.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michelle ‘MimiVonTussle’

A child of the 50s, remembers the 60s, partied in the 70s and was hung-over in the 80s. Used to sit in David Bowie’s garden, Biba’s shop window and leaned on the jukebox in SEX, stood up occasionally. Raised in Fulham by very cool parents and a stone’s throw from The Nashville, The Greyhound, Hammersmith Odeon and Kings Road. Still mourns the Speakeasy and Wardour Street’s Marquee plus other deceased London music venues and greasy spoons. Worked for Mary Quant in the 70s and enjoyed the social scene that went with it. Was surrounded by punk squats in the mid-70s and hung out at Beggar’s Banquet basement studio watching bands drink and rehearse while avoiding electrocution. Went to Lindsay Kemp’s mime classes with punk goddess Jordan, we were both rubbish. Grew up with Paul Cook and got hit over the head by Sid’s guitar at the Speakeasy. Saw many iconic gigs back in the day including New York Dolls at Biba’s Rainbow Room and Ziggy Stardust’s farewell show at Hammersmith. Lived in NY & LA in ’79, mainly went to gigs and posed in a leather jacket. Worked in live events production for The Hippodrome in the 80s and produced and directed fringe theatre while working in film and TV in the 90s. Still dabbles in publicity work and writes scripts which gather dust. Works at Ealing Studios and recently formed a film production company. Always listening to music and reads constantly, re-learning guitar and loves all things creative. Still writes with pen and paper. Started to talk to people at bus stops.

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June 5, 2015 By : Category : Indie Music Picks Reviews Tags:, ,
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Department S – Mr Nutley’s Strange Delusionarium

DEPARTMENT S  – Mr Nutley’s Strange Delusionarium

Released by Sartorial Records on CD/Digital download
Producer: Kevin Feazey
Category: Post-punk, Reviews, Picks, Music

Mr Nutley’s Strange Delusionarium illustrates why Department S needed to return to unfinished business since they disbanded in 1982. They have not attempted to make any radical changes in musical direction, but have refined and enriched their previous work while seamlessly slicing in their new songs. The tracks include intros which are fantastically surreal and injected with their exquisite sense of humour. However, this L.P is not about incorporating novelty touches but the magical musical mystery which follows.

 ‘Clap Now’ opens with the crude voice of a fairground showman talking over a wind-up organ, luring us to a place where nothing is quite as it seems, followed by laughter and wild applause from a ghostly crowd, we are thrown into the depths of retro funk mayhem laced with psychedelic punk and the raw ingredients of a lethal rock cocktail. Eddie Roxy’s commanding vocals with the band’s furious, crashing pace is head-spinning. That’s just the aperitif….

 ‘Monte Carlo or Bust’ opens up with an original unreleased version recorded as a B-side and produced by Mott’s Buffin and Overend Watts, it continues to keep us in a spin as it slides into the present with passages of guitar distortions and feedback. Dripping with fast and furious punk guitar clichés and they know it. It’s hard not to be drawn back to beer-sodden, sweaty nights at the Marquee.

 ‘My Coo Ca Choo’ ensures no leather jumpsuits are necessary as Roxy says it all with his playful, flirty vocals and a hint of neediness. This track displays one of those gems of guitar-playing from Mike Herbage which demonstrates his passionate mastery of rock and roll chording.

 ‘Age Concern’ begins with a sample of the original demo recorded 31 years ago, then effortlessly moves into current vocals by Roxy against a back-drop of Stuart Mizon’s reggae-style drum thumping, an effective, simple bass line thanks to Mark Taylor’s understated skills and hypnotic, compelling guitar lines by Sam Burnett.

 ‘Ode To Koln’ has an evocative guitar solo playing over an newsreader’s archive audio which brings us to the haunting lyrics. A difficult subject matter to listen to but it’s treated respectfully and with no theatrics. Thought provoking arrangement and produced with a sensibility.

 ‘Wonderful Day’ lifts the mood; it’s probably the most commercial song on the L.P. One to blast out of the car windows, if only to annoy the kids. Crashing guitars, banging percussion, coffee bar bongos, it’s all thrown in and a fine show of Mizon’s aggressive drumming and wild slamming while hitting the bass drum on every beat.

 ‘Going Left Right’ is always a crowd-pleaser. Burnett’s consistent multi-layered guitar-playing combined with Herbage’s driving solo is sublime. Roxy’s shouty vocals compliment the musical misbehaviour of the band. They’re having fun and it shows

‘Is Vic There’ is probably the best known track. We are teased with the noise of the mingling crowd and a dreamy piece of guitar meandering, then the familiar opening chords come into play and we’re off. It’s like their home territory but nothing comfortable about this new version, it’s has all the power and energy of the original single but far more effective and intricate, including smashing, evocative and climactic pieces. A tip of the hat goes to Roxy who had big shoes to fill with the lead vocals after Vaughn Toulouse had done such a legendary job with this one.

‘I Want’ contains lyrics that are probably more fitting to today’s capitalist society where Reality TV seduces greed-driven misfits to disposable fame and riches. The end of the track is a driving solo by Herbage that builds into a manic, structured frenzy thanks to Mark Taylor’s pumping bass, Burnett’s masterful phrasing and Mizon’s devilish drumming.

‘Slave’ provides the greatest surprise. Roxy delivers a menacing strong, vocal and there’s an almost malevolent tone in which the band communicates. Roxy sleazes in with “Girl, won’t you be my slave tonight?” while the band steam in with hard-core rock music pulsating through the speakers. It’s the final track and there’s no let up. It ends with a delicious and exhausting ecstasy followed by the fairground showman’s satanic laughter….

Mr Nutley’s Strange Delusionarium is rock and roll theatrics at its best which display the band’s infectious and consummate musicianship. It features humour, perception, irony and cynicism while inviting the listener to become mystified, enchanted, breathless and always entertained.

Ends.

Michelle ‘MimiVonTussle’

A child of the 50s, remembers the 60s, partied in the 70s and was hung-over in the 80s. Used to sit in David Bowie’s garden, Biba’s shop window and leaned on the jukebox in SEX, stood up occasionally. Raised in Fulham by very cool parents and a stone’s throw from The Nashville, The Greyhound, Hammersmith Odeon and Kings Road. Still mourns the Speakeasy and Wardour Street’s Marquee plus other deceased London music venues and greasy spoons. Worked for Mary Quant in the 70s and enjoyed the social scene that went with it. Was surrounded by punk squats in the mid-70s and hung out at Beggar’s Banquet basement studio watching bands drink and rehearse while avoiding electrocution. Went to Lindsay Kemp’s mime classes with punk goddess Jordan, we were both rubbish. Grew up with Paul Cook and got hit over the head by Sid’s guitar at the Speakeasy. Saw many iconic gigs back in the day including New York Dolls at Biba’s Rainbow Room and Ziggy Stardust’s farewell show at Hammersmith. Lived in NY & LA in ’79, mainly went to gigs and posed in a leather jacket. Worked in live events production for The Hippodrome in the 80s and produced and directed fringe theatre while working in film and TV in the 90s. Still dabbles in publicity work and writes scripts which gather dust. Works at Ealing Studios and recently formed a film production company. Always listening to music and reads constantly, re-learning guitar and loves all things creative. Still writes with pen and paper. Started to talk to people at bus stops.

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June 5, 2015 By : Category : Music Picks Post-punk Reviews Tags:, , ,
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