Well blow me down, cover me in peri-peri sauce and call me Natisha if we’ve had a Devizine event recently. Understandable all things considered. Annoying though, being I passed on the idea of holding a second birthday bash last autumn thinking we’d host or co-host something better in the summer.
Crystal ball smashed, see? Face bothered? Yeah, a bit, y’ know. Hits to the website has taken a blow, yet that informs me just how many people were using it as a what’s on guide in times prior to lockdown. And anyhoo, for me it’s a hobby, like trainspotting, just without the trains….and spots. I still don an anorak for formal appearances! For businesses and performers alike though, it’s been a rough ride.
What was waffling about before a class 55 diesel locomotive chugged past me? Oh yeah, events. Well, you may/may not be aware town centre will be alive on Saturday, 5th September, when the Devizes Retailers and Independents group hold their Indie Day, celebrating our array of independent shops and cafes. There’s fun to be had, shopping and eating and stuff, with lots of prizes to be won, etc. Original idea was to have buskers around and about, but I believe that’s not so easy to do with current restrictions.
So, we plan to be in presence, centred in the rear garden of Brogans in the Brittox, purveyors of a fine breakfast, nice tea or coffee and scrumptious lunches and cakes. In which we will have some live acoustic music running throughout the day from, I dunno, 10ish till 3ish; that sound good?
Rather hastily put together at short notice, due to getting approval on our proposal to observe social distancing, so if you come along, it’s essential you abide by them. We will track and trace, advise you to wear a facemask if wandering outside of your “bubble,” and Brogans has measures already in place too.
I think it’s important, the day as a whole, being local business have been hit hard by the lockdown. Yet equally is our side-stall, gigs were the bread and butter for musicians, sadly missed by the punter, desperately reducing performer’s revenue. That said, the budget I’m working on is zero and I’m asking the acts to come for the love of it. I sincerely hope if you come along, you can show your appreciation when I badger you with a bucket, thank you.
I also encourage them to bring their wares, CDs and any merchandise they have for sale on the table; and this goes for anyone passing by also, who may have a creation for sale. Make sure you drop past by 3pm to pick up any earning. Any earnings are 100% yours, I might get my arm twisted if your offer me a bacon butty, other than that I’m asking for nothing!
Said tip bucket will be shared between all participating performers at the end. Shutdown is around 3pm, giving us time to finish up and head to the Southgate where the amazing Absolute Beginners will play from 4pm, and I’m getting a round in for all the performers. That’s the plan anyway, subject to change as ever. In fact, I’m delighted to say Cath and Gouldy of Absolute Beginners are pencilled in to drop by around 1pm, before the gig at the Gate, so you can see for yourself how damn good they are.
Everything is in pencil at the moment, just wanted you to give you plenty of notice before you start planning a shopping trip to the Greenbridge retail park, or anything wildly hedonistic like that. Colour pencil though, rainbow; on the cards we have the one-man army, Mr Mike J Barham, who’s kindly to offered to setup a small PA while I rub my stubble, and pretend I know the technicalities he’s referring to.
Also, hopefully dropping by will be our brilliant Tom Harris of the Lockdown Lizards, Pewsey’s finest Cutsmith, and London-based Archie Combe, a classically trained jazz pianist, composer and musical director. I’ve not given them timeslots as of yet, but we’ll play it by ear, which will be a beautiful thing given the wealth of talent. There might be room for one more, if you’re up for it, let me know, or just drop by with a guitar on the day and I’ll try fit you in; can’t be any vaguer than that! But vague is my middle name (actually, it’s Lee, but c’est la vie, Lee.)
How long does it take to take to put together a single, and how much longer during the lockdown?
I dunno; don’t ask me, I just write about this stuff, and don’t make a great job of that! I suppose you’ve got pull in all the elements, y’ know, paste together drums and vocals and stuff like that, and y’ know; okay, I’ve no idea what I’m talking about. But they do down at Potterne’s Badger Set.
Marlborough guitar tutor, singer-songwriter and bassist of local covers band Humdinger, Jon Veale’s single, “Flick the Switch,” is flicked on tonight. As the name suggests it immediately hits you square in the chops, despite the drums were recorded prior to lockdown, by legend Woody from Bastille, and Jon waited tolerantly for lockdown to end before getting Paul Stagg into Martin Spencer’s studio to record the vocals.
Patience paid off, with a speedy vocal harmony intro, this song packs a steady rock punch, yet none too metal. It appeals wide, as a driving, rolling-stone-themed belter, and Paul’s vocals are stimulating, reminding me of a grinding Jamie R Hawkins. Yet, for what it’s worth, it’s the composition which makes this a winner; a couple of listens is all it takes to be singing the chorus, allowing the drums and guitar combo to wash over you like a warm wave crashing on a tropical beach, or, something like that, (apologies, I need a holiday.)
As well as this supportive team, the distribution through Emu Records, Jon also thanks Christine Hurkett who has produced “an insane” lyric video and cover for the song. “In case you’re wondering what did I do on this song,” he jokes, “I wrote the music, the lyrics and played all the guitars!”
I’m intrigued to hear more now, for if this was a track on an album it’d be a title track, unless Jon has something else up his sleeve, there’s already a previous tune featuring the vocals of our Sam Bishop on the iTunes link, so yeah, I dunno, don’t ask me, I just write this stuff!
Spent a recent evening flicking through old zines I contributed cartoons to, relishing in my own nostalgia. Not egotistically admiring the artwork, or even laughing, rather cringe at most of it. More so because every publication has a backstory; where I was, what the hell I was up to, and thinking, if at all, at the time. It’s like Gran’s photo album, to me. But I guess reminiscing is symbolic of this pandemic year, nought else happening.
With that in mind, Bill Green of local self-titled Britpop trio Billy Green 3 has a great story to tell, ending with a retrospective release on the streaming platforms. He met Simon Hunt at a party, they liked each other’s jumpers, shared a love of music from the Beatles to the Stone Roses, and hung out on the guest list with Chester’s indie rock band, Mansun on their ’96 tour.
Billy’s mate John ‘Jimmy’ Burns “simply wanted to be in a band and dressed well.” Never having played their instruments before, let alone in a band, one night they decided to form one with another of Billy’s friends, Mark Molloy. “We” Bill explained, “jumped about to ‘The Jam’ and had often spent nights drumming along on bars and tables.”
With Mark on drums, Simon on Vox, Jimmy on bass and Billy on guitar, Still was forming. Yet I guess Bill was reminiscing this foundation when deciding upon a name for his debut album as the trio, back in January, which we cordially reviewed, here.
“I’d written a few songs,” Bill continued, “so we set up second-hand instruments in Marston Village Hall, and banged out a few tunes, no covers mind.” He had been DJing the ‘Vroom!’ Club, at the Corn Exchange. “Ian James was kind enough to put us on that Christmas and New Year’s, and people actually came to watch, a band was born.”
Still played the local circuit and even had a dalliance with Virgin Records, having spent a day travelling around London knocking on doors and dodging receptionists and PAs. They booked studio time with Pete Lamb’s studio in Potterne, followed by more studio time at Holt Studios, where a personnel change saw Andy Phillips join on drums and later, James Ennis on guitar.
As a five-piece they played into early 1999, before calling it a day and believing the recordings were lost. Simon Hunt recently unearthed the cassette, much to Bill’s delight, and the demos have been remastered “and tidied up a bit,” with the help of Danny Wise. Returned to Bill, who has enthusiastically released it as an album called Destruction at the beginning of the month. “And here they are,” he excitedly called, “as a permanent record of the biggest indie band ever from Devizes…. called Still!”
“I’m just shocked that Marston has, or had a village hall,” I expressed.
“Rubble when we finished playing!” Billy kidded, possibly.
These are raw demos, but brilliantly echo a time of yore when Britpop was in the making and a newfound generation of garage bands were spawning like a wart on the bottom of commercialised pop. What is great about this album, aside the backstory, is it represents all those early influences of the scene and mergers in a way we might today take for granted, but were, in essence, different scenes and youth cultures divided by decades, at the time. Yes, these may have been bought together by his more defined recent album, Still, but this is essential history for fans of that album, as it opens the casing and shows the very workings of it. Similarly, it works more generally than that, as an insight for fans of the genre.
For if influences of Britpop’s ‘big four’ are represented here, in the jaunty attitude of Blur, the maladroit studiousness of Pulp, the euphoric ballads of Oasis, and the brashness of Suede, there’s also arty punk rock and psychedelic reprises, like Elastica’s affection for Wire, even the Beatles.
There are echoes of Britpop inspirations, ‘Respect Now’ feels like it’s drawn from the genre’s eighties influences; the Jam, up to the Stone Roses. Yet tracks like ‘Happier Now’ ring drum-based upbeat riffs, but slating postpunk vocals, and the sobering drone of The Smiths. Whereas, ‘Pale Impression, Man’ is closer indie enthused from post-punk gothic, rather the end of the era anthems, like the track ‘Catch,’ which rings Suede or The Verve.
‘Lady Leisure’ just rocks, simple; this was produced at Pete Lamb’s, along with the other first bout of garage-style rock, ‘Happier Now’, and ‘Superstars,’ the latter savouring the sound of the Kinks. Perhaps the most poignant are two the love ballads, which along with ‘Catch’ were recorded at Holt. Bill informed me, “‘Gav4Saf’ was a fledging love song written for a friend’s wedding.” But the beautifully crafted ‘LoveSong’ is a missing piece of Oasis, and as a stand-out ballad is the only track rightfully to be reworked for Billy Green 3’s modern album Still. The finale is the title track, with a sublime rolling bass guitar, Who-like.
“We hope there are some people who will listen and remember those heady days as fondly as we do,” Bill expressed, “it’s basically demos but such good memories!” It may help, but is not, I reckon, essential. I reason, quite regularly, that finding the early recordings of any artist is often more worthy than the celebrated later releases, when eagerness overrides rawness and economical recording sessions. They brought out the original enthusiasm, the roots to greatness. I favour ‘The Wild, Innocent and E-Street Shuffle’ rather than Springsteen’s ‘Born in the USA,’ for example. Even delve into bootlegs of Steel Mill, where despite the boss not being frontman, you can hear a distant echo of genius harking from the background. ‘Destruction’ is out now, as well as the single, ‘Catch,’ across the streaming sites, (Spotify) a notable antiquity of the local music scene.
He’s a fast learner, that Keanu Reeves; think how he progressed to “the chosen one” in little over an hour and half, while his superiors barely advanced at all; comes with the chosen one job, I suppose. Think cat scene, for example, where this novice presumed déjà vu, but twas a glitch in the Matrix.
Had a touch of déjà vu myself on Sunday, chatting with Essex’s Jamie Williams and the Roots Collective; alas I’m not the chosen one, until it’s time to do the washing up. Barefacedly had to check my own website, suspecting they’d been mentioned before. And I was right, Andy wrote a part-review back in July; I was briefly there too. Blame it on a glitch, rather than memory loss; this is 2020, glitches in the Matrix are abundant.
Regulars at the Southgate in Devizes, Jamie Williams and the Roots Collective are as the name suggests, but don’t do run of the mill. Cowboy hats and chequered shirts held a clue, but arrive excepting unadulterated county & western and you’ll get nipped. While there’re clear Americana influences, here’s an exclusive sound unafraid to experiment.
Jamie’s abrasive vocals are gritty and resolute, perfect for this overall country-blues sound, but it progressively rocks like Springsteen or Petty, rather than attempts to banjo twang back to bluegrass. It also boundlessly exploits other folk and roots influences, with a plethora of instruments and expertise to merge them into this melting pot. And in this essence, they are an agreeable rock band, appealing to commonalities; but do it remarkably, with upbeat riffs, tested but original material, and passion.
Not forgoing, I still need to be careful, and it was but a whistle-stop to the Gate, to wet my whistle. As current live music restrictions being the way they are, it’s unfair to use a gig review as a base for an act’s entirety. For starters, they’re missing bassist Jake Milligan, and drums deemed too loud to bring, James “the hog” Bacon made do with a cajon and bongos. The remaining two, Jamie and Dave Milligan, cramped in the doorway of the skittle ally with acoustic and electric guitar, respectively. Which, in a way, proves this band’s aforementioned adaptability and desire to experiment. The proof is the pudding though, and battling through the restrictions of the era, they came up with a chef-d’oeuvre.
Professionally, they scorched out a great sound nonetheless, mostly original, but a rather fitting Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, with Jamie’s grinding vocals apt for a later Dylan classic. But this downtempo cover was the exception to the rule, their originals upbeat and driving.
To pitch a fair review, though, is to take a listen to their latest album, Do What You Love. The cover of which is unlike your cliché Americana tribute too; highly graphical splashes of colour akin more to pop, or a branding of fizzy drink. The songs match, a popular formula of cleverly crafted nuggets intertwining these wide-spanning influences. One track they did live from their album was accompanied with an explanation the recorded version used a brass section and even a DJ scratching, yet they made do with Jake joining James for a hit on the bongos.
They certainly enjoy what they do, and appear relaxed in the spotlight. This doesn’t make them tongue-in-cheek, like, say Californian Watsky & Mody, who blend hip hop into bluegrass for jokes. Rather Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective has evenly balanced said collective’s influences and conjured this celebrated, danceable and fun sound, flexible for a standard function, like a wedding party but would also liven up the day at a mini-festival.
As an album though it encompasses all I’ve said above, there’s cool tunes like Lazy Day, the orchestrated reprise If I met my Hero, and rather gorgeously executed ballad, Held in Your Glow, but also frenetic tunes, driving down the A12 with the windows open music, Red Hot and Raunchy being a grand, light-hearted example but I’m A Stone as my favourite, with its clever pastiches of Dylan and The Rolling Stones, it rocks.
You need not visit the Oracle, waiting with spoon-bending broods, Keanu Reeves, for her to tell you Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective are not some “chosen” livid teenagers trailblazing a new sound and striving for the spotlight, but a collective of passionate and talented musicians loving every minute of performing, and this comes across as highly entertaining.
The Smart E’s “Sesame’s Treet” bleeped through the hills of a west country location in 1991. There was an air of delight and mirth when someone pointed to the ridge yonder. “Look,” they chuckled, “the pigs are dancing!” Story checked out, I turned my head to witness a couple of police officers jumping and waving their arms, mocking the fashion of a dancing raver. Imitation we never took to heart, ravers were tongue-in-cheek about their chosen music; repetitive beats over a children’s tv theme was comical nostalgia, and not supposed to be taken seriously. As for the police, seemed as individuals observing, they saw the simple truth that there was no harm in what we were doing. Yet there was always hate in the establishment they took orders from, and we were months away from being grounded by force.
Hysterical measures by a desperate conservative government, who failed to see the value we held for something they couldn’t understand, an electronic art movement, principally, a modern folk music.
Authoritarians detest art, least the progression of art, seems to me. And it has been plaguing my mind of recent. Freedom of expression, they fear, encourages liberation, unrest and consequently, rebellion. Munich, 1937; Third Reich leaders combined two opposing art exhibitions into one, the “Great German Art Exhibition.” The first hall featured art which Hitler considered suitable, orthodox and representational, lots of flaxen folk gallantly posed like Roman deity sculptures, and local idyllic rural sceneries.
The second displayed what Hitler deemed “degenerate art,” contemporary, progressive and mostly abstract. But they ensured it was demoted, through exhibiting it callously, with disorder, and bestowing dissuading labels on it, describing “the sick brains of those who wielded the brush or pencil.” Hitler pushed stringent boundaries onto German artists, because he figured art was key to the rise of Nazism and his vision for the future.
Damn, he hated the Bauhaus. Forced the art school to close in 1933. Their angular designs which would herald the most efficient revolution of modernist architecture, were deemed communist intellectualism by the Nazi regime; give them an archaic Spalato Porta Greek arch, or be shot!
I see humour as my art, my aim is to make you laugh, whenever possible. In a week where a keyboard warrior reported me to Facebook for an ironic slate at Boris Johnson, yet a grammatically atrocious meme, stating they need not pay for a holiday, when purchase of a dinghy from Argos will see them put up in a hotel, is hailed as hilarious, I receive a message of eternal doom for the grassroots music industry, from a professional musician.
Gone, it seems, are the days of eighties “alternative comedy” of the Footlights, of Ben Elton and Rick Mayell scornfully ridiculing Thatcherism. Gone is the echoing mantra of Joe Strummer demanding “a riot of our own.” Today the art of comedy, and music, barely touches political matter, and never takes risks. Humour is subjective, as is all art, I accept this, but art enriches our lives, provides joy and entertainment, and should never be curbed or censored. Yet we find a consistent urge by blossoming traditionalists to dampen the spirit of artists.
The Trump administration eliminated the budget for the National Endowment for the Arts. An annual $150 million is a devastating blow to the industry, yet hardly major cost-cutting as it weighs in at only 0.004 percent of the federal budget. Akin to the ethos of the “Great German Art Exhibition,” history is peppered with examples of right-wing philosophy opposing art. The Stalinists enforced stringent principles of style and content, to ensure it served the purposes of state leadership, methodically executing the Soviet Union’s Ukrainian folk poets, according to the composer and pianist, Dmitri Shostakovich. Just as Chile’s coup of 1973, when Augusto Pinochet tortured and exiled muralists. Singer, Víctor Jara was murdered, his body presented publicly as a warning to others.
In the UK, the reopening of lockdown restrictions despite the pandemic still mounting, where it seems perfectly acceptable to travel to foreign lands on a luxury holiday and return without quarantine, where we are encouraged to shop till we drop and eat out in restaurants to save the food industry, and it’s commonly accepted our children will be used as lab rats in a herd immunity experiment, a government, who let’s face it, should have imposed a lockdown sooner, as was the example of every other developed nation worldwide, rather than fail to attend meetings with the World Health Organisation, and use unreliable companies to supply software and PPE to help combat the virus, simply because they are mates of theirs, will not allow us to have a sing-song in a pub.
Now, at first, I accepted the possible threat, but in light of recent lessening of restrictions, I fail to comprehend the logic in this, in continuing the restrictions on art and music. Given the historical facts surrounding the authoritarian’s apparent hatred of art, I am beginning to fear the virus is a being used as a convenient excuse to suppress and suspend creativity. Oi, loony leftie, shut up, stay in your home and watch the celebrity Pointless special.
I suggested, didn’t I, art is subjective? If Hitler liked the conventional, representative of Renaissance tradition, it was his prerogative, but there was no need to kill everyone simply because he couldn’t draw horses very well. Since the invention of photography can duplicate precise imagery, artists seek expression, inimitability and design according to their own mind. If it constitutes liberal or reformist ideals, why should it be devalued by opposing attitudes? The problem arises when oppression is enforced, freedom will return the fire, and will be back, refreshed, to bite them on the bum!
Just as the Jamaican JLP party of the right, battled burgeoning Rastafarians into the Wareika Hills in the 1950s, and labelled them “Blackheart Men,” or bogeymen, yet the surge of reggae and the popularity of Bob Marley today sees Rastas accepted in Jamaican society for the tourism it attracts, The Battle of the Beanfield in 1985 did nothing to control travellers in the UK. Less than a decade later the free party scene metamorphized into a rave generation which saw youths rally to support them. You cannot curb progressive movements in any art without risking a wave of rebellion. Ironically, the very thing they’re trying to prevent.
We’ve seen a return of the rave, police fearing a riot if they try to prevent them, but they reflect nothing of the magnitude of the nineties, yet. Unless grassroots music venues and pubs who were regularly supplying live music are reopened, even if that means social distancing measures are in place, it is inevitable you will open a gapping underground and future generations will strike back. This does nothing for the values conservatives uphold, or their vision of a totalitarian future, but furthermore severely punishes every professional in the arts industry from rock star to sound engineer, every prospering new performer in an era formerly to lockdown, I see equivalent to those swinging sixties; a time I suspect most baby boomers of tory ethos hold dear. An era where every youth was in a band, and focused on music rather than belligerent misdoings.
Yet still, gammons, I believe is the modern terminology, if the left is snowflake, persist in whinging about how youths have no respect, how they were flaunting rules in the park, gathering, conspiring, they so suspect, against them. What if they are, though probably just socialising as they likely once did in their younger years, what if they’ve some masterplan to overthrow this Tory charade; they surprised by this? How egocentrically imprudent, how selfishly insular. This is people’s livelihoods they are toiling with. As Bob Marley once said, “a hungry man is an angry man.”
All Cannings Pre-School are holding an auction for the summer! It includes tickets for days out and experiences, plus vouchers and gifts.
There will be a post for each item in the auction, with an image and description. Bidders will comment on the post with their maximum bid, hopefully increasing it to beat others over the weekend! All to raise essential funds for All Cannings Preschool. A very big thank you to everyone who has donated items for the auction.
Hi all, back with our regular updates. Though we are still some way to returning to normal, the event calendar is looking a little healthier as events are being added. Please note some events listed may have been cancelled and I’ve just not noticed, so check the links before planning anything.
And on Fri 14th August, Mad Dog Mcrea online live stream from Bath’s Komedia, and the Beat stream from Birmingham. Find links on the event calendar.
In Swindon, there’s an outdoor Amy Winehouse tribute at the Ridge.
Devizes: Eddie Martin Band @ Southgate from 4pm.
Seend: Paranormal Investigation @ Old Bell
Amesbury: Eddie George Live at The New Inn
Swindon: Sophia & the Soul Brothers at the Cotswold Water Ski Park
Devizes Wide Community Yard Sale
Park Yoga @ Hillworth Pk
Jamie Williams & the Roots Collective @ Southgate
Bath: Two Tunnels Race
Kevin Brown’s Shackdusters Live at The Queens Head, Box
Swindon: Bandit & B2D Present: The Acoustic Sessions @ The Vic: with Mike Barham, Jordy Pearce & Jade Coral Feast. This is free entry, doors at 7pm.
Devizes: Vinyl Realm have a Vinyl Listening Session at the Literary & Scientific Institute
And that’s the week. I’m delighted to say, I’ve worked on a proposal for live acoustic music at Devizes Indie Day on 5th September which has been pitched to relevant councils. Hopefully we will get permission to do this, and as soon as I know, you will too; if you keep in touch with www.devizine.com
Other things to look forward to: The Concert at The Kings has been cancelled this year, but check out some small, social distanced gigs at the Kings Arms in All Cannings: Los Pacaminos with Paul Young is sold out, but tickets are available for 23rd August with the Sloe Train Blues Band: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/concertsatthekingsarmsltd1
You should note, and I’m completely upset about this, but Facebook has decided Devizine is a spam site and has blocked our URL. I am trying to rectify this, but to be honest, I’d get better luck finding alien life in the universe. For now, do as I am doing, try not to depend on notifications from us via Facebook, and go direct to the site, or follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. We plod on.
A cracker of a single from Swindon’s Paul Lappin this week, a Britpop echoing of Norwegian Wood, perhaps, but tougher than that which belongs on Rubber Soul. Broken Record is an immediate like, especially the way it opens as crackling vinyl and the finale repeats the final line into a fade, as if it was indeed, a broken record.
Shrewdly written, the venerable subject of a passionate breakup metaphors the title, “ignore the voice of reason, leave the key and close the door, do you think you’re ready, to become unsteady, like a broken record, you have heard it all before.” Paul does this frankly, with appetite and it plays out as a darn good, timeless track.
It’s head-spinning rock, intelligent indie. Harki Popli on tabla drum and Jon Buckett’s subtle Hammond organ most certainly attributes to my imaginings of a late-Beatles vibe. Yet if this is a tried and tested formula, as I believe I’ve said before about Paul’s music, he does it with bells on.
Sign away and get your say in how we slay the seagulls, even though there’s no such thing as seagulls, so they cannot be any causing trouble, here, or at sea. Gulls, Wiltshire Council, without reading National Geographic, could possibly mean. Love or hate them, they don’t taste particularly nice, even with a thousand island dressing, that much we can all agree on. And they can be annoying blighters, taking gluttonous tourist’s chips to, you know, survive and stuff like that. Unlike other wild animals which have the common decency to ask politely.
They squawk too, don’t they? Bloody annoying when you’re trying having a lie-in, pondering if Waitrose is lowering its class demographic these days. Dogs bark all night, owls hoot, cows moo, ravers have parties, but none poo on your Audi, keep them. So, if you’re enraged by our relatively low by comparison to coastal areas, increasing seagull population, fill in the survey and you could win a holiday for two to Southend-on-Sea.
Other innocent birds are exempt, even Tory supporters and other pests. Still, let’s bring those gulls in line with the fox and badgers of yore, tally-ho! Pests are pests, but can be subjective, I mean, I’m none too keen on wasps, and councillors who fail to respond to people’s enquiries, such as, is it possible to fix a swing in a park, stuff like that.
Glad they’re in charge of Wiltshire and not New South Wales, you know, with scorpions and black widows; a gull’s nip on the bottom might not seem so bad then. Read between the lines, one councillor woke up one morning with gull poo on their nice car and bingo, they’re going to convince you we need to punish them all! Next week, who knows, a hoodie might try to nick their hubcaps and all teenagers will be shot.
You know me, I’m impartial, but maybe we should stop pigeonholing and cull all pests. Talking of pigeonholes, how come we’re fine with pigeons, who outnumber the seagulls and are generally ranked higher in most lists of bird pests? They backhanding the council or what?! You can bet your bottom dollar those pigeons have signed, takes the pressure off them!
Is it still fashionable to be late for a party, or are we conversant enough to realise this refined art is solely perpetrated by egocentrics pretending to be too popular to be punctual? Rather, I’m am obsolete slob who can only apologise to Jay and Wise Monkey for my delay in reviewing his debut single featuring the vocals of Ben Keatt, but what excuse can I give? Here’s where fatherhood comes in handy, being too candid to be vain, least I can blame it on my kids and their perpetual school holiday! That said, I’ve gained some experience on Minecraft and, if I really try, I can do more than two keep-me-upsies.
Sunset Remedy is the track, released last Friday. Jay, Bath’s first external artist of Wise Monkey Music is a producer and instrumentalist, defined as “a bright shining light in the future of DIY and Bedroom Pop,” and I can only but agree. In the fashion of the classic neighbouring Bristol downtempo sound of Massive Attack and Portishead, it came as a surprise to note the soulfulness beats of this sublime track, as it melodically traipses with funky guitar, poignant lyrics and an uplifting air.
If Pink Floyd came after Morcheeba, they might have sounded a little something like this; neo-soul, the kind of song you wish was physical matter, so you could pluck it out and give it a cuddle! It’s breezing with nu cool, with a melancholic plod and would blend between tracks on Blue Lines unnoticed, save for perhaps this backdrop guitar riff, providing scope of multi-genre appeasement. Ben’s vocals are breathtakingly touching and accompanies the earnest lyrics and smooth beats perfectly. Yeah, this is a nonchalant chef-d’oeuvre, crossing indie pigeonholes and one I’m going to be playing until I hear more from Jay.
And don’t run away with the idea I’m singing it’s praises simply because of the delay in getting to reviewing it! So not me. You trust I speak my fractured mind, and anyway, time is an illusion to this aging hippy. If punctuality was money I’d be happily broke; procrastination rules, ok. No, I urge you grab this beauty, and show some love to Jay’s Facebook page.
The protest at Downing Street due to happen today has been postponed, but Tanya Borg has been working tirelessly to raise awareness of her campaign since we reported on it, a fortnight ago. So, a quick update on its progress and how you can help this Pewsey mum fight to get her children home.
Tanya’s two daughters, Angel and Maya were abducted by their father five years ago, and taken to Libya to live with his family. After being granted full custody in both nations, Tanya travelled to Libya to rescue them, but Tanya explains when they tried to get away, they were bundled in a car and driven away. She hasn’t seen or had contact with them since.
I’m glad to have received a reply from our email to Danny Kruger on the issue. He stated “I share your concern for the awful and distressing position of this family. Please be reassured I am in contact with Ms Borg and with the Foreign Office, and of course I share your belief that the British government should do everything it can on behalf of British citizens.”
Although Tanya expressed, she has had a reply from Danny, forwarding the response from the African representative, “it’s the same response I got two years ago saying they can’t help, but also that Danny Kruger can offer me a meeting.”
A glimmer of hope must go a long way for anyone involved in such a heart-breaking situation, as Tanya awaits a date for this meeting, “but it could be interesting,” she says.
You may recall hero, Wayne Cherry of Rowde, standing for a hundred hours in remembrance at the top of the Brittox in Devizes during November 2018, to honour those lost in the First World War.
For this year’s 75th VE day celebrations, self-isolating never stopped Wayne, he pledged to stand in his garden for 75 hours, raising £1,272 for the NHS fund.
Now Wayne is back, and he has decided to raise funds for SSAFA the Armed Forces charity, for VJ Day in August by completing a 75-mile trek around the Devizes area.
Under the banner, “Not Forgotten,” Wayne explains his reasoning, “treatment of allied prisoners of war by the hands of the Japanese army in Asia during WW2 was without question, barbaric. Those who survived struggled to come to terms with their experience and many would never talk about it. 15 August 2020 is the 75th anniversary of the end of the war in Asia and one that I shall be marking with respect.”
I asked Wayne how many days he planned to take over it. “I will have to start on Friday 7th,” he replied, “looking to average ten miles a day, which in reality is a push with a knee replacement and diagnosed with Polymyalgia Rheumatica, which is painful hips and shoulders.” The walk will end on Friday 14th August. “I just grit my teeth and get on with it,” he continued, “nothing compared to those who have paid the ultimate price for the freedom we enjoy today.”
Wayne will start his route each day leaving from Wadworths 10am. He will head towards the Market Place on Northgate St, through the Little Brittox, along the High St following Long St, to Southbroom Rd, and continuing onto Sidmouth St to Maryport St, through the Brittox, and back through the Little Brittox into the Market Place, up to Snuff St, along to New Park St and finally, heading back towards Wadworths. That’s approximately a 2-mile circuit, 5 times a day.
“It would be very much appreciated,” Wayne expressed, “if anyone would like to accompany me for as little or as long as you wish, I will be carrying a collection bucket each day for anyone who may wish to make a donation.” Alternatively, if you join his Facebook group, here, you can follow and support him, and find bank details, if you would like to contribute this way.
I’d like to take this opportunity to wish Wayne the very best with his astounding effort, and congratulate him on the amazing fundraising he has done to date already. I know the people of Devizes and the surrounding area will rally to support him, as they have done in the past. Go Wayne Cherry, you are an inspiration to us all.
Relished in your own nostalgia or, if you’re too young to have lived it, curiously influenced by a bygone era, no one can deny the eighties was a decade of musical progression in a similar manner to the sixties. From the beginnings of the decade, pop showcased a legacy of youth cultures, from glam to rockabilly, from punk to two tone, from the refurbished mod to ironic ethos of the skinhead, and from frilly-sleeved new romantics to jogging-bottomed breakers. The pioneering genres of electronica and electro saw hip hop become the new rock n roll, but it would take some time to find a niche in the UK. Naturally, by the end of the decade, a new driving force via electronics would saturate the underground, as acid house exploded, and we stomped into the following decade with whistles and white gloves.
While it developed, there was a period, a kind of no-man’s-land of youth culture, a void in creativity in which the hit factories strategically bounded out of the trenches and perpetrated a full-scale attack. Make no mistake, pop crime is wrought in every decade, manufactured atrocities occurred throughout every era since pop begun, but never on this scale. It was mass genocide with diddy-boppers.
“It was mass genocide with diddy-boppers.”
Maliciously, the target was aimed younger than ever before, the demographic was 10 to 14-year olds. The commanders were specialists in the field, making Simon Cowell seem like Beethoven by comparison. Three in control of the fiercest battalion, one Mike Stock, the other Matt Aitken and last, but by no means least, Pete Waterman. Fortunately, I had just surpassed their target audience, and thanks to Zeppelin, Hendrix, and others, our generation rewound to previous eras for protection against the shelling, eagerly awaiting rave. But prior, when I was the right age, I fell hook, line and sinker; most pre-teens do.
This is why it’s important to note, Stock Aitken Waterman may’ve redefined pop crime to an all-time low, but not until near the ending of the decade did the crimewave truly flourish. Plus, they did not offend alone, many tried before, no matter how petty the crime, they committed them. SAW’s first singles, Divine’s “You Think You’re a Man,” and Hazell Dean’s “Whatever I Do,” only charted at numbers 16 and 4, respectively, in 84, their first number one, “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” by Dead or Alive the following March, but all were petty compared with the carnage of their perpetual recidivism during the decade’s second half, dubbed an “assembly line.”
“Petty compared with the carnage of their perpetual recidivism during the decade’s second half, dubbed an “assembly line.”
I tried not to choose the obvious then, the classically nauseating novelty songs which slayed for humorous effect. From the only way we Tweeted in the 80s for example, the Birdie Song, to ethnic stereotyping for kicks; shaddap your own face, Joe Dolce. Or randomly pushing pineapples, shaking trees, and wishing you could fly right up to the sky. Never forget, there’s no one quite like Grandma.
Neither have I selected the memorable later evils of Stock Aitken Waterman et all, where the naive befell to their despicable set formula, from Bananarama to Cliff Richard, and a showcase of new recruits, many from Ozzy soaps. No, I favoured to concentrate on the period just prior, when I was susceptible to pop crime, an accessory to murder; for actually buying these 7″ monsters, and, at the time, loving them. We tend to block the worst parts of our memories and focus only on the highlights, so to buy a “best of 80s” 16-CD boxset for a fiver from a supermarket is deflecting the whole truth. These are the commonly cited worst songs of the period, Europe’s Final Countdown, Rick Astley, and so on. But to list the renowned offenders would be to simply copy and paste SAW’s discography; the truth being, we had some other serious pop crime in the mid-eighties, which went largely unpunished.
“To list the renowned offenders would be to simply copy and paste SAW’s discography.”
See, credit where credit is due, Vanilla Ice deserves some recognition for not only publicly apologising for his wrongdoing but elucidating the reason for pop crime. “They waved a massive cheque in my face,” he later explained, “What would you have done?” We could do with the staff of the TV show New Tricks to reopen these case files and investigate. The only problem I foresee with that is Dennis Waterman, who was partially guilty himself.
Here then I present evidence to the court, in hope pleading guilty by circumstance may lessen my sentence. Forgive me Marley, for I have sinned. Yes, the pop crimes which I naively involved myself with, the ones I played over and over, and live to regret my foolish immaturity. I warn you now, this was no simple to task to access the archives of my memory, it was dangerous to both mind and ear, musically akin to regenerating Frankenstein’s monster. But do not fear, fear will only lead to the dark-side, and you might just permanently injure yourself mentally by the horror of these video nasties, or even, open the closet to some skeletons you had long forgotten about. Tobacco needs a government health warning, if these tunes resurfaced, it would be advisable to do likewise. You have a lot to answer for, YouTube.
1: Five Star: System Addict
I confess, I loved Romford’s would-be-Jacksons siblings, period. My uncle lived in Romford and driving to visit, I’d keep a keen eye out in hope to catch a glance of them, until the Daily Mirror reported they moved to a plastic palace in Berkshire.
Buster Pearson, their Jamaican-born father and manager had an impressive résumé, working with soul and reggae legends Otis Redding, Jimmy Cliff, Wilson Pickett, and Desmond Dekker. From “All Fall Down” their debut single, unconcerned if I fancied Doris or Denise, I loved everything about them, until their flopped hard-edged dance comeback in 1988.
I loved their style, their soulful harmonies, and choreographed moves; ask me my favourite album in 85, it would’ve been Luxury of Life. I was 12, my only defence. I had some years before comprehending the crime of manufactured pop; today I can only cringe. This video for 1986’s System Addict says it all, a warning, I think, about the over usage of computers. Maybe they should’ve been warning about the over usage of shoulder pads.
2: Jermaine Stewart: We Don’t Have to Take our Clothes off
The junior disco at Pontins, Camber Sands in 1986, I didn’t know what to do next, but I knew I’d reached first base with a husky-voiced brunette with zips on her sleeves. Then this song came on, which I liked, but would be the stinger in any chance of ever taking the relationship further. Maybe for the best, the song was commenting on the AIDs pandemic and probably lessened the funky Jackson-a-like Jermaine Stewart’s chances of copping a shag too. I imagine the girl saying, “but you said, in the song….” as she holds up some cherry wine suggesting they danced all night instead. And an infuriated Jermaine replying, “I know what I sung, baby, but that’s not my words, just a song, come on….”
Sadly, and perhaps ironically, though, Jermaine died of aids-related liver cancer in 1997. Still, a foul pop crime, though only a single, first time offence.
3: Falco: Rock me Amadeus
Someone, somewhere thought it would be a good idea to rap in Flemish, and, fortunately for Falco, it was. He is the best-selling Austrian singer of all time. But here’s a massive selling pop crime single which time doesn’t do justice to.
At the time, 1985, I couldn’t get enough of this avant-garde trash, and the plush video of powdered-faced Germanic bourgeoisie busting out of their corsets. More so when I mistook a line, thinking he used both the F and C swear words, which was actually, “Frauen liebten seinen Punk,” “women loved his punk.” But the follow-up “Vienna Calling,” didn’t do it for me, and two things I learned from Rock me Amadeus, if anything, Mozart didn’t rap and the wonder of the one-hit-wonder.
4: Sam Fox: Touch Me
Interesting video portraying Samantha Fox as an established rock chick when the truth was, I always thought, she was famous only for getting her tits out in the Sun newspaper. Hers were, undoubtedly, the first pair of knockers I’d ever seen, and for that I’m truly grateful. But reinventing herself as rock star was a step too far.
Though, it was her mum who sent photos of her in her under-crackers to the tabloids, while the same year, a sixteen-year-old Samantha struggled with a pop career. In ‘83 “Rockin’ With My Radio” was her first single, produced by Ray Fenwick formerly of the Spencer Davis Group. Makes you wonder; mum distracts daughter from the depravities of the music industry my encouraging her to get her tits out for the newspapers. A lesson learned, never trust your mum if you want to be a pop star.
Me, I don’t care, I never wished to wallow in my brother’s obsession with Sam Fox, not because I was a prude, just more of a Linda Lusardi kind of kid, and, secondly, this title track from Jive Records’ 1986 album “Touch Me,” is horrifically criminal, and, nice tits or no, that is all.
5: Trans X: Living on Video
As with poor ol’ Sam Fox, Trans X is listed here due to assumption. Research again proves me wrong. As I figured, here was a mid-eighties single which desperately harked back to the synth-pop sound of the early eighties, rather than took the progressive stance with music technology other similar bands were. In actual fact, the 1985 version I had of it, which I thoroughly loved at the time, was a remix, the original dating back to 1982, bang on time for its style.
Trans-X were from Montreal, their only defence, passing the buck to the DJ for his remix is akin to getting your mum to take your speeding points. Even for 82 it sounds unpleasantly tacky. Mud sticks, it’s barbarism by today’s standards, in a manner Blue Monday doesn’t; I rest my case.
6: Nick Berry: Every Loser Wins
Wicksy, you wet blanket. If promoting your slushy song through your soap opera character isn’t cringeworthy enough, the character dedicated it to mismatched couple, Michelle and Lofty, and labelled it “their song,” only for Michelle to jilt Lofty at their wedding; such is EastEnders. For Berry though, this mawkish crime against pop swashed in enough sentimental sludge for it to hit number one in the charts for three weeks, the second biggest selling single of 86, and helped him ditch his contract with the soap.
Yeah, I bought this one, sucked in under false Disney-esque pretences that every loser does win. In reality of course, they don’t, else they’d be called winners instead by the terms of the word’s definition; idiot. Please, let’s never speak of it again.
7: Huey Lewis & The News: Stuck with You
There is no honour among thieves with pop crime. Huey Lewis cried “Ray Parker Jnr started it, sir!” When he did blatantly nick from Huey’s track “I Want a New Drug” for the Ghostbusters theme, and they settled out of court, but Lewis blabbed, so Parker hit back, a violation of the agreement to not discuss the settlement publicly. They both should’ve been slimed.
It was the reason why Huey Lewis got involved with rival movie Back to the Future, the reason I got into the group. It sure was a captivating moment, Marty McFly avoiding 1955’s bullies on a self-made skateboard with Huey Lewis and the News blasting The Power of Love in your face.
Yet, I cannot think of a better example of a band who got progressively worse as they went on. Someone must have known, and did nothing to stop them. Fore, they called their 1986 album, it destroyed any shards of creditability, foreskin more appropriately, and one which should’ve been circumcised because of the build-up of cheese. I only choose this pathetic pastiche of doo-wop barbershop over Hip to be Square, as that was at least upbeat, that is all
8: Maria Vidal: Body Rock
Graffiti artists might fancy the idea of telekinetic spray cans as featured in the video for Maria Vidal’s Body Rock, but while I supported the commercialisation of hip hop, at the time, this was step too far.
Agreed, left up to the comparatively documentary film, Wild Style in 1983, we may never have heard of hip hop in eighties Britain. Though Beat Street, the following year, was commercial, it had clearer narrative and higher production values. Beat Street was boss, but movies on the subject flowed thick and fast, and increasingly wrecked the reputation of the genre. Breakin’ kicked it off, and its sequel followed within the year, Body Rock took it to a whole other level.
Here is a song which advises one to move out of the way rather than stand up for yourself; hardly “street.” But what is more, it’s a template for the crimes of the hit factory, this and eurotrash, which is why we mention the next pop crime.
9: Spagna: Call Me
Ivana Spagna took it upon herself to assume she was famous enough to mononymous her name, and through her work with Italo disco duo, Fun Fun in her native Italy it might have been true. We didn’t know of her until this monster of a pop crime, Call Me.
Euro-pop would never regain the success of Nena’s 99 Red Balloons upon the UK charts without manufacturing a revolting formula. It’s catchy but empty of content, verses do not matter, just repeat the chorus, spray enough hairspray to bore a hole in the o-zone above you and jump into a stranger with headphone’s Suzuki and you’ll be fine. The criminal aspect so widely attractive to Pete Waterman went unpunished and, still at large, she continues to offend.
10: Peter Cetera: Glory of Love
Nothing wrong with fighting for honour and being the hero, they’ve been dreaming of, but, put a bit of umph in it for crying out loud. Peter Cetera was from acclaimed seventies band Chicago, it was sentimental slush but with grace. Take his song “If You Leave Me Now”, a song he wrote for their tenth album and gained Chicago its first Grammy Award. Begging the question then, what went so terribly wrong in the mid-eighties?
It seems the pop crime pandemic was at large and no one was safe; the soft rock power ballad proves it. This mullet-driven monstrosity is so nasty, so corrupt if you hear it through to the end, you’ll puke, Karate Kid or not. Wax on, wax off, sweep the leg, yes, this didn’t do anything for the sequel expect cause the audience stomach upsets. Yet, as with all these songs, at the time, I thought it was great, I thought it was a romance advise line, and ultimately resulted in years of hurt and anguish; no one was ever this romantic in 1985, not even Chris de fucking Burgh!