NEWS

Emma Langford Sowing Acorns

If I’m majorly disappointed by all the planned events and gigs this year done gone cancelled, probably the biggest of all was when I badgered Devizes Arts Festival into booking Limerick’s folk singer-songwriter Emma Langford. It didn’t take much convincing, just a song or two, and if you hear her new album Sowing Acorns, released yesterday, I guarantee your arm will be twisted too.

Sowing Acorns is everything I’d expect and much more. A spellbinding composition of intelligent lyrics reflecting on past, a place or observation, Emma’s mellifluous vocals and enchanting folk melodies. A magnum opus for this award-winning emerging artist who I’ve followed the progress of for many years.

It’s an album which will transport you to an Irish coastal path, a gentle zephyr as you peer out to the ocean. Port Na bPúcaí perhaps the prime example, with its chilling cello merging into the drifting poetic title track. It’s a whisk of untamed Andrea Corr blending Clannad to Mari Boine, yet somehow completely inimitable. Yet there’s astute honesty within these pieces of musical jigsaw, tales of family woe or enriching scrutiny of a lifecycle. There’s enough going on here to pull to pieces and discover alternative angles with each listen, but allowing it to drift over you is recommended, like waves upon said ocean.

But while Sowing Acorns opens acapella and drifts into traditional acoustic folk, it doesn’t rest, rather merges styles, and by the time you get to Ready Oh some nine tracks in, there’s a blithe soul pop feel, teetering do-wop, similarly the Latino marketable feel of Goodbye Hawaii. Towards the end it returns to the thoughtful prose of Emma’s sublime acoustic and feelgood Irish charm, and it ends with an ambient trance remix of the title track by Avro Party. But each and every segment, every journey this album takes you on, darker or uplifting, is expressively awe-inspiring, as if Emma pushed everything she has into this release; the definitive Emma Langford.

It is, in a word, utterly gorgeous, a definite contender for album of my year, and one I’ll be submerged in its mesmerising portrayals for a long time yet.

Click to download from Bandcamp

Hew Miller; Does Something!

When I started Devizine it was an exploration, knowing next to nought about local performers and artists. Nowadays I consider venturing further afield, figuring I’ve successfully mapped our region of musical talent. But whenever I do, I find an area of unchartered territory, a Devizes resident lurking undetected in a dusty shed. Literally this month, it’s Hew Miller, a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and mix engineer living among us.

Upon hearing his uplifting and breezy pop-rock latest release, Let’s Do Something (but nothing at all) I figured, I’m going to hassle this guy for an article and expose any inhibitions he might have about his talent, as it’s common for an artist to shy away from shameless self-promotion. I warned him what we do here, and how scrupulous we are. He replied he’s a reader but “the reason you haven’t heard of me is that I’ve been pretty backwards in coming forwards!”

None of that matters, you see, backwards or forwards is all the same to me because I never know which way I’m going. It’s not so much about allowing me to spread wild gossip about him, rather I haven’t seen Hew listed for a gig locally either. Does he like playing live?

“I haven’t played live for quite a long time. I tend to focus on writing, producing and recording,” he explained.

Hew Miller

Hew has three singles released on Bandcamp, the earliest, Upside Down World (We’re fine in here) was this April. It’s a stomping Peter-Gabriel-fashioned pop-rock observation on the tranquillity of lockdown. And in the middle, it’s not over yet, causally breezes with equal skill, a trumpet and quirky romantic reflexion. That one was released in July, but you’ve only got to listen to the competence in song writing and production to assume Hew’s must have been making music long before that.

“I played in bands when I was younger but then moved down to Devizes for work and never found the time or musicians to start up a band,” he tells. Hew’s been in the Vizes since 2002, moved from Nottingham.

“I’ve been a recording and mix engineer mainly as a hobby for many years; it was an underground thing but I’ve been wanting to get more exposure for my own music and to expand on the producing, mixing and mastering sides.” Hence his nom-de-plume, Hew, “because there are loads Matthew Millers and the name has already been taken on Spotify.”

Ah, story checked out. I found a Hungarian one on Bandcamp, among others, who by his profile pic, bears an uncanny resemblance to Elvis Presley.  “Definitely not me!” he expressed, as did the rest of our chat retain a witty and light-hearted angle. Flicking through his Facebook page I paused on an image of an amazingly plush tree-house styled studio, and given he’s called his studio Dusty Shed Studios, I figured this was it. “No,” he owed up, “I wish…. I went there for a weekend! Mine is less grand…. it literally is a shed!”

“It was in the middle of a fields away from everyone. No-one to complain about the volume of the drums,” Hew enlightened, but I changed the subject, fearing it might get like a Monty Python sketch continuing discussing his shed! “Yes,” he agreed, “well when I was young, we lived in a cardboard box…”

On the subject of boxes, Let’s Do Something was recorded at Real World Studio in Box, and his own studio, said Dusty Shed. “I’m open for mixing/mastering and recording projects,” He informed. Hew works a DIY ethos, all instruments and production are his own. I like this, freedom of creativity an all; judging by these singles, he knows his way around those buttons and switches.

“You said you were in some bands back in Nottingham,” I asked, trying to unearth a possible heady past of thrashing metal or punk, “what kind of genres?”

“Yes,” he replied, “I guess it hasn’t changed that much; its indie pop/rock.” No juicy gossip there then, I thought I’d inquire about Hew’s influences. “They range from David Bowie to Peter Gabriel, David Sylvian to The Psychedelic Furs to The BareNakedLadies.” Hew seems at ease with where he is with his music, a quiet hidden gem, and as the tranquillity of lockdown subject of his first single, Upside Down World, might suggest, he’s happy mixing and producing in his dusty shed; it’s a guy thing!

Just as lockdown tore down borders of what we’ll feature here, Hew found it a rather fruitful period, “as everyone is getting into playing music,” and continued to say about some tunes he’s mixed for some American rappers and another international artist, “which I probably wouldn’t have done without lockdown. Hopefully we can now get back to some normality and live music can flourish with more musicians.”

True, for his easy-going amiable sound would be great for a Sunday session at the White Bear, or an afternoon in the Southgate’s garden, but even if we cannot prise Hew from his dusty shed, you should check out his discography. On Bandcamp, here. And his latest, Let’s Do Something (but nothing at all) is released on the streaming services on 25th September.


Blank Pages of an Atari Pilot

This extensive belter of eighties-fashioned high-fidelity pop waits for no man, a sonic blast opens it, and the riff wouldn’t sound alien appearing in a John Hughes coming-of-age eighties movie. Visualise Jud, Molly, Emilio et all, dancing around a school library to this latest track from Swindon’s Atari Pilot.

After our glorious appraisal of their previous single Right Crew, Wrong Captain in July, they reckon I’m going to be fair on them again, but really, there’s nothing to dislike about Blank Pages. A review in which they quoted me suggesting, “this sound is fresh, kind of straddling a bridge between space-rock and danceable indie.” Here though, save the strong bassline, the space-rock element is lessened and retrospective synth-pop chimes in a racing beat, twisting this into a real grower on the ears.

Press release aptly cites “everything from Springsteen to Daft punk, Kathleen Edwards to Love,” as influences. As if Daft Punk would work with Springsteen, but if they did, I’d imagine something rather like this. And that alone, makes for an interesting sound, again akin to what Talk in Code are putting out locally, perhaps more so for this single. While we could hinge on an inglorious comeback from an eighties pop star and be thoroughly disappointed by their timeworn platitude and fame induced narcissistic attitude, nostalgia has never been so energetic and fresh when it’s channelled as an influence rather than comeback or tacky tribute act.

There’s a backstory about Atari Pilot, I may have mentioned before but worth reminding. After their debut album “Navigation of The World by Sound” in 2011, a long hiatus took in a serious cancer battle for Onze. But getting a second chance at life gave him the inspiration to get back to writing, and Atari Pilot reformed in 2018 with an acoustic set at the Swindon Shuffle. Reforming the band was actually planned from his hospital bed.

With this in mind, Onze describes the thinking behind this great song, “Blank Pages, like the other songs for the struggle, were inspired by being diagnosed with and recovering from cancer. The songs reflect the highs and lows of life and the struggles we are faced with and have to overcome to reach where we want to be.”

There’s a heartening theme of struggle in the face of change, “it’s also about trying to recognise that we can’t escape ourselves, and asks whether we can use our history and baggage to fire a brighter future,” Onze explains.

It’s a DIY production, recorded and mixed in Onze’s home studio by using Logic Pro X, but sounds stunningly professional. Atari Pilot are Onze (vox,) Paj (bass,) Frosty (guitar) and drummer Andy, and we look forward to hearing more from them. I even managed to review this one without mentioning retro-gaming:


The Bighead!

“The Truth is Hard to Find celebrates their unique but retrospective style with a passion for pop-reggae, an uplifting beat, chugging ska riff and beguiling two-tone vocal harmonies….”

Far from what the name suggests, and common generalisation of the genre, I found Northampton’s six-piece reggae/ska band, The Bighead, not in the slightest egotistical and very approachable! Thus, I’ll be spinning their tunes on Ska-ing West Country on Friday, and for the foreseeable future.

That said in this era where a plethora of bands like the Dualers and Death of Guitar Pop have breathed renewed energy and a fresh approach to the UK two-tone scene, which otherwise risked falling into a diehard cult of seniors on Lambrettas who spent their pension on a pair of cherry Doc Martins!

Though nothing with Bighead is as the frenzied ska blended with delinquent-filled punk of yore. They tend to flow maturely, with rocksteady and roots reggae, while attire the fashion akin to the two-tone era. I’ve no issue there, through the furious ska thrashings of The Specials, the downtempo Ghost Town is likely cited foremostly, and on the island of origination, the short rocksteady age between ska and reggae was undoubtedly the most creative musical period in Jamaican history.

Seems while previous decades hugged youth cultures which devoted to a sole variety of Jamaican music, newly formed bands, like Bighead in 2008 by Da Costa, follow a similar ethos as what we discussed when Trevor Evans’ Barbdwire came to Devizes Arts Festival. They select the benefits and choosiest elements of ska, rocksteady and all subgenres of reggae, and fuse them with sublime results.

There’s a plentiful gap to fill, and it’s all trilbies and shades for Bighead. Their May single, The Truth is Hard to Find celebrates their unique but retrospective style with a passion for pop-reggae, an uplifting beat, chugging ska riff and beguiling two-tone vocal harmonies, signifying an optimistic new era for the old genre. In contrast, the other two brilliant tunes Da Costa kindly emailed me, Step Up and Try Me Again, rely on roots reggae and doo-wop rocksteady respectively.

The Bighead are no strangers to the festival and club circuit, have headlined and supported original 2-Tone acts such as the Beat, The Selector, Bad Manners and a 2013 show with Madness. They’ve played over Europe and are regulars on the Berlin Reggae scene.

So, polish your boots, snap on your braces and follow Bighead; not that I should really be flattering a band who are already self-confessed big heads!


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The Return of the Wharf Theatre

Word on the towpath is our wonderful theatre, the only theatre in Devizes, The Wharf Theatre is preparing for curtains up in October, starting with an amateur production of My Mother Said I Never Should.

Since being forced to close in March the team have been working tirelessly to keep East Wiltshire’s best loved and only theatre afloat. There was a time, in June, when the future looked rather bleak for the little theatre. After the renovation three years ago, surplus funds were already low, then lockdown happened. The Gazette reported it may have to close due to a £30,000 shortfall in income. Celebrity patron Christopher Biggins praised and promoted a campaign, at the time they hoped to reopen for 2021. So good news is, we’re some months earlier you can enjoy the Wharf productions once again.

While it’s great news for entertainment in town, be aware and be quick to book. Only thirty tickets are available for each performance, in line with current guidelines. They can be purchased by ringing 03336 663 366; from the website Wharftheatre.co.uk or at the Devizes Community Hub and Library on Sheep Street, Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm

Last years’ Chair, Oli Beech says: “Break out the bottles, the phoenix of theatre does rise from the ashes and soars high above Devizes! Our dear little theatre is back in the black after a close encounter with disaster! The call went out and boy, was it answered. We’ve had donations pouring in, generous members and locals passing the hats around, bake sale proceeds, even an overwhelming donation of £10,000. We are so thankful to everyone who has helped us either financially or with their many words of support and encouragement….”

During their enforced closure the team hosted three costume sales to raise further funds; completely updated their website and launched a YouTube channel to keep people entertained with specially filmed monologues and some short behind the scene films.

The Wharf also welcome a new Artistic Director, Debby Wilkinson. “Restrictions are beginning to lift but with social distancing still very much in place,” Debby said, “anything we do in the theatre itself will be limited. However, we are very proud to launch the first three plays of our Autumn/Winter season.”

Whilst social distancing restrictions remain in place please continue to refer to their website for the latest details. But I’m happy to announce the new performances will be:

My Mother Said I Never Should

Friday 16th and Saturday 17th October 2020 7.30pm each evening

Written by Charlotte Keatley and Directed by Debby Wilkinson       

This rehearsed reading is scheduled to run on October 16th and 17th.   First performed in 1987, this play breaks with convention in that it doesn’t follow a linear timeline.  The text is now studied for both GCSE and A level and tells the stories of four women throughout several periods of their lives. It explores the relationships between mothers and daughters along the themes of independence and secrets. It is a poignant bittersweet story of love, jealousy and the price of freedom through the immense social changes of the 20th century.                   Copyright: this amateur production is presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals Ltd on behalf of Samuel French Ltd concordtheatricals.co.uk


 Tickets: £10/£8 concessions.

Adam and the Gurglewink

Friday 13th and Saturday 14th November

7.30pm each evening with a 2.30pm Saturday Matinee

Written and Directed by Helen Langford

Three rehearsed readings of an original play by the Wharf’s own Helen Langford.   Adam is planning to run away when he stumbles across The Gurglewink, a childhood toy who has come to life in the attic.  They form a reluctant friendship where reality blurs and magic happen. They meet Rainbowgirl who challenges Adam to a dangerous quest which will depend on his ability to keep going when things are not always what they seem.

Suitable for children 6-12 years and their parents. Tickets:/ £8/£6 concessions


Collected Grimm Tales

Monday 14th to Saturday 19th December       7.30pm each evening with a 2.30pm Saturday Matinee

By: The Brothers Grimm     Directed by: Debby Wilkinson

Familiar and lesser known stories are brought to the stage using a physical and non-natural style of performance.  These stories journey into the warped world of imagination.  We will meet Hansel and Gretel, Ashputtel, Rumpelstiltskin and others, performed by a small adult cast, on a simple set.  The audience will need to use their imagination and fully embrace the living power of theatre. Suitable for children and adults.

Copyright: this amateur production is presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals Ltd. On behalf of Samuel French Ltd concordtheatricals.co.uk  Adaptor Carol Ann Duffy Dramatised by Tim Supple and the Young Vic Co.  Tickets: £14/£12 concessions

The Scribes: Totem Trilogy

Getting snowed under here at Devizine Towers, but speedily need to push this to top priority, ahead of tonight’s (Saturday 12th) gig at Salisbury’s Winchester Gate from Bristol hip hop outfit, The Scribes. I whopped up a quick preview of the event, but as I pressed publish an email popped up with their latest EP The Totem Trilogy Part 1, made in collaboration with Chicago raised producer Astro Snare. Should fans of UK hip hop hear it, they’d be planning to head to the Gate for this free gig, by hook or by crook.

The Scribes are a multi-award-winning hip hop three piece based in Bristol consisting of lyricist/multi-instrumentalist Ill Literate, rapper Jonny Steele and beatboxer Maestro Lacey. In 2013 they signed with US label Kamikazi Airlines, co-owned by Dizzy Dustin of legendary hip hop act Ugly Duckling and released two albums, The Sky Is Falling and The Scribes Present Ill Literature worldwide to critical acclaim, garnering the group a sponsorship deal with ethical clothing company THTC, alongside artists such as Ed Sheeran and Foreign Beggars.

By 2016 they had signed with Reel Me Records, releasing a sonically challenging 16-track album which thrived on a perfected blend of poignant lyricism, A Story All About How, and the apocalyptic concept album, Mr Teatime & The End Of The World, winner of the UndergroundHH.com “Concept Album of The Year” award. Last year The Scribes received global recognition, upon releasing Quill Equipped Villainy, featuring Akil the MC from Jurassic 5, TrueMendous and Leon Rhymes from Too Many T’s.

My personal affection for the genre though, goes back to the old skool. Prepped by Kraftwerk’s influence on eighties electronica, rolled with Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte’s production on Donna Summer’s I Feel Love, and still nothing equipped me for the eureka moment I first heard Afrika Bambaataa’s Planet Rock, on a journey to Asda in my Dad’s Cortina! Only lingering in the underground less than a year, the US hip hop and breakdancing movement swept the UK, and it was inevitable we’d develop our own brand.

As hip hop spread through the States it distorted to hackneyed fashion far from the original blithe ethos of revelry. Pretentious bling, hoes and pimping one’s ride, and of course gangland rivalry were never on the original agenda. While some during the later eighties, like De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest, strived away from this tenet, recapturing hippy, carefree roots, the east-coast/west coast rivalry and vehement bravura dominated and hallmarked the modern preconception of hip hop.

Meanwhile, by a method akin to rock n roll some twenty years prior, the place to hunt for creative and innovative progression of the genre was neither east nor west coast, but here in the UK.

Because hip hop was never supposed to be uniform, shaped by urban multiculturism it’s naturally a melting-pot of genres and an experimentation in fusion, always has been. Given Caribbean roots and common affection for reggae, it’s inevitable those influences would have a profound effect on UK hip hop.

Full-circle in actual fact, considering pioneer of the genre, Kool Herc was a young Jamaican NY immigrant with a sound system, who altered from dub to disco and funk as residents didn’t favour reggae. And, in a nutshell, and to wrap up my waffling, that’s precisely why I love this EP; it’s like The Scribes dipped a colander into said melting pot, and extracted only the very best ingredients.

It’s a non-commercial, bundle of heavy beats not relying on a single subgenre. Opening with I’m Back, for example, fresh, dripping with early east coast scratching and rapping. Yet Mighty Mighty follows, leaning on dub akin to Roots Manuva with brass, subs and a contemporary dogmatic theme comparable to Silent Eclipse, albeit this was divergent towards John Major’s government (apologies for my archaic comparisons, it’s an age thing!)

By the third tune we’re back to nonchalant fun with Rock This; I’m in awe, this is lyrically composed with a witty genius parallel to the Fu-Schnickens. Heart Breaks though swaps back to east coast; sublime rap harmony with a R&B slant, pensive piano chops and soaring strings with a definitive Bristol angle, as if a Tribe Called Quest came out of St Pauls!

Keep Bouncing ends the ride, and I’m left pondering Dizzee Rascal’s influence, yet tougher, as Rodney P, this is fresh, possibly the most marketable sound given today’s impact on the scene. The Totem Trilogy Part 1 is the first of a 3 EP series featuring the stunning artwork of renowned illustrator Chris Malbon. The absolutely gorgeous cover designs of the 3 EPs will link together to form one image of the titular totem. With guest vocals from both AstroSnare himself and founding father of the UK hip hop scene MC Duke, here, clearly, is something imminent, a rise of The Scribes, a method grasping an evolution for UK hip hop, yet firmly aware of its roots and unafraid to exploit them.

http://www.quillequipped.com

http://www.facebook.com/scribesmusic

http://www.instagram.com/thescribes

Can you Help Lucie with her Haircut Fundraiser for the Little Princess Trust?

Most girls want wireless Mpow headphones, an iPhone 11, a Himalayan salt lamp, or something like that for their fifteenth birthday. Maybe Lucie Green of Devizes does too, but in an awesome act of kindness, her focus is on having twenty inches of her hair cut off to donate to the Little Princess Trust.

The Little Princess Trust is an amazing charity which provides real hair wigs for children suffering from hair loss. When a child loses their hair to cancer or another condition, the Little Princess Trust provide a free, real hair wig to help restore their confidence and identity.

They also fund research and say, “we won’t stop until the research that we fund ends childhood cancer forever. Promise.” Though the Trust relies solely on the efforts of enthusiastic community fundraisers, and receive no formal funding.

Can we help her raise money for this worthy cause? Even the smallest donation is greatly appreciated, and all the money will go towards the cost of making a wig, which can be up to £500.

You can donate via Just Giving, Here.

Wishing you the very best of luck, Lucie. Maybe we could get a before and after picture?! For more information on the Little Princess Trust: www.littleprincesses.org.uk

A Modern Reggae Classic: Wonderland of Green

On first hearing Wonderland of Green, I was like, yeah, that’s as sweet as a sugarcane field. But it’s moreish; every listen it approves all elements, everything I love about reggae, and why I love it.

Fruits Records may be based in Switzerland, but their dedication to authentic Jamaican roots reggae is paramount. This latest release featuring the Silvertones is a prime example, a sublimely balanced one-drop riddim with all the hallmarks of reggae’s golden era; the roots sound of the seventies, Black Ark, the legendary studio of Lee “Scratch” Perry, and the Roots Radics rub-a-dub riddims of the early eighties. These traditional styles echo through this 7” EP; the heavy bass, the offbeat guitar riff, and the traditional female backing vocals as passed into mainstream by the Wailers’ I-Threes.

Yet it also pounds contemporary at you too, fresh sounding, with a version, Living In A Wonderland, toasted by Burro Banton, an incredibly gritty-voiced DJ popular in the late eighties and nineties dancehalls of Jamaica. Even the subject matter of Wonderland of Green is timeless, as it suggests, it’s earthy and ecological, a tenet inherent in Rastafarians long before it became trendy.

The band behind the riddim is the 18th Parallel. Produced, composed and arranged by Antonin Chatelain, Léo Marin and Mathias Liengme, and recorded at Geneva’s Bridge Studio by Liengme. There’s an instrumental on the flipside, and an extra killer dub mix by French wizard Westfinga, who retains the retrospective ethos using the traditional dub values set by King Tubby.

Burro Banton

But what makes it so thoroughly beguiling is the vocals by The Silvertones. A legendary vocal harmony trio from the early ska era, originally, Keith Coley, and Gilmore Grant, with Delroy Denton joining early in their career. Delroy’s individual baritone and guitar skills saw him quickly become the frontman. Though he migrated to the States and was replaced by Joel “Kush” Brown.

Though the only remaining member is Keith, who takes lead, that’s just technicalities, as the modern line up rests with Norris Knight and Nathan Skyers on harmonies, both of whom have solo careers in their own right.

Westfinga & The 18th Parallel’s Wonderland of Dub

Recording at Coxsone Dodd’s Studio One, they interestingly triumphed in Jamaica with their debut single, a ska re-creation of Brook Benton’s “True Confession,” a track producer Duke Reid would also have the early Wailers record, but the Silvertones is indisputably more poignant. They also recorded under guises The Gold Tones, The Admirals, but most popularly as The Valentines, prevalent with the skinhead’s ska revival era was a tune called “Blam Blam Fever,” denouncing the rude boy’s gun culture.

The Silvertones

Through the late sixties they enjoyed success recording for Reid’s Treasure Isle label and Clancy Eccles, as vocal harmonies became more significant during the rock steady era. Yet their dominant period was the early seventies when they stepped into the converted carport which was Black Ark.

The eccentric amplifier genius, Lee “Scratch” Perry is renowned for getting the best out of any artist, he shaped the way we view Bob Marley & The Wailers. With penchant for outlandish, heavyweight psychedelic sound testing, he was the experimentalist who would pave the way for dub pioneers like King Tubby.

Historically then, Wonderland of Green slips right in as if it’s been there all along, but prominent now with its environmental subject matter, it’s gorgeous. I look forward to blasting it on my Boot Boy Radio show this Friday, maybe blending versions together, even if they’re live from the Skinhead Reunion, and who’s punters would favour boss reggae!

Wonderland of Green is newly released this week, as download, or on regular black wax 7” vinyl and on a beautiful limited and numbered picture sleeve edition with opaque dark green vinyl; how apt!

Streaming: http://hyperurl.co/wonderlandofgreen

Vinyl records: https://fruitsrecords.bandcamp.com/album/wonderland-of-green


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Our IndieDay at Brogans!

Images by Gail Foster

Coming from Essex where shopping is religion, you’d think I’d be impartial to the duty. But no. To be bluntly honest, as I believe I mostly am, I find nothing entertaining or enjoyable in sauntering a continuous stream of mundane chain stores aimlessly, other than to spend money I haven’t got on crap I didn’t want or need in the first place. Blessed we are then, in Devizes, with an array of original, charming and interesting independent shops, which make shopping endurable for whinging cronies like me! An ethos celebrated, kind of, this Saturday by the group Devizes Retailers and Independents who, in order to return commerce to our wonderful and lively town, held an “IndieDay.”

MP Danny Kruger opened the event, I missed that, loads of shops got involved and opened their doors to a festivity-fashioned celebration, missed that too. Donkeys and more, I missed. Far better for me to contribute by loitering outside Brogans café, munching on a bacon roll and taking credit for Mike J Barham’s hard work!

I arrived late, The Devizes Rotary Club arrived long before to lend us a grand gazebo, and Mike too, he set up a PA, he managed the PA, he hosted the event with his charming and entertaining charisma, and everyone came up to me and thanked me; result!

Honestly, as I’ve said, I have to give a massive thanks to everyone involved for making it such a special day, and in this day and age it was indeed even greater. Mike Barham for one, aforementioned contributions, but two, for rocking both the opening and finale with a plethora of his own work, such as the lively Bowser’s Castle, and thoughtful prose through downtempo blues, to the thundering satire of a west-country-styled Top Gun theme, Danger Zone! The guy is a one-man machine, the best of the best, of the best.

So yes, breakfast to a late lunchtime at Brogans got lively, as people filled the plot outside and the carpark, in the sunshine. It was something until late last night I feared would fail, with gapping gaps between the confirmed acts. Sadly, and for various reasons, Archie Combe and Tom Harris had to cancel, and our opening act, Pewsey singer-songwriter, Cutsmith was also unable to attend. The worry took me until 10pm when I unleashed a masterplan; Tamsin Quin cropped up on the book of face, to thank me for reviewing the new Lost Trades single, and so, whammy, I dispatched note of my concern and asked nicely if she would be able to grace us with her presence, and naturally, sing us a song or three.

I highly suspect they’re secretly superheroes, Tamsin, Jamie and Phil, and if not, they certainly saved my skin, more than once before. Tamsin dragged Jamie R Hawkins along, and as their alter-egos with no need for superhero costumes, they did it again. Thank you both so, so much. Tamsin gave it her all, which needs no surprise, her confidence and professionalism doesn’t preside her charming grace and skill to entertain. Jamie accompanied her brilliantly on cajon, claiming to be “getting into it now!” after just two songs in.

Then Cath and Gouldy rocked up on their way to the Southgate, to play as their folk duo Sound Affects, which was, as ever, blindingly awesome. All originals and finishing on Mr Blue Sky and Come on Eileen covers, it was superb. So, a massive thanks to them.

The finale then, was rocked by Mr Michael J Barham, which I’ve said already, but needs another mention. Thanks to everyone who turned up and made it really special day, including our photographers, Ruth, Nick and Gail, writer Andy and all the supporters. Thanks to Brogans for having us, I trust we behaved, least it could’ve been worse, believe me! It’s times like this which make Devizine feel more than me clonking on a keyboard, and rather a thing of community, of spirit and substance. Though now I’m back clonking, vainly bigging up our own gig, which I justify by noting it’s not about me, or my bacon roll, and more about the good folk who regularly contribute to make this website function, the musicians, writers and photographers, and supporters. Here’s to more, I want more!

This is not an act of vanity, but a condition Gail set forth in order for me to get permission to use them! Thanks Gail, it takes a highly skilled photographer to capture me smiling!

Bristol Hip Hop Group, The Scribes Coming to Salisbury

Described by The Evening Herald as, “raw and exciting, honest and sensitive, a soulful brand of rap,” Bristol’s trailblazing hip hop outfit, The Scribes play Salisbury’s The Winchester Gate, on Saturday September the 12th.

The Winchester Gate is a community pub just on the out skirts of Salisbury city centre which heralds live music, particularly supporting reggae and hip-hop culture. The event is free, The Scribe planning to begin at 7pm.

The Scribes are a multi-award-winning hip hop trio, whose unique blend of beatboxing, off-the-cuff freestyling and genre-spanning music has created a critically acclaimed live show quite unlike any other on the scene today, with appeal ranging far beyond traditional hip hop fare.

The Scribes at BeCider Festival

They have consistently proven to be an impressive and engaging live act with 2019 festival appearances at Glastonbury, Wilderness Festival, Shambala, Boomtown Fair, Bearded Theory, to name but a few, and have toured extensively across the UK and onto Europe.

The Scribes are also proud winners of both the Exposure Music Award’s “Best UK Urban Act” and the EatMusic Radio Award’s “Best Live Act”, and have provided original music for BBC and Channel 4 television, as well as being featured regularly on both national and local radio and media including BBC 1Xtra and BBC Radio 1 Introducing.

Hotly tipped as one to watch, The Scribes have shared stages with the likes of Macklemore, Wu Tang Clan, Dizzee Rascal, Kelis, Rag N Bone Man, Example, Lethal Bizzle, The Wailers, Jurassic 5, Sugarhill Gang, KRS One, De La Soul, MF Doom, and Souls Of Mischief, and are steadily establishing a growing following across the continent to add to their already significant fan base at home.

Check out their new EP, The Totem Trilogy Part 1 here.


Two Man Ting Bring Sunshine to the Southgate Today

Winding up their “mini tour,” after last night’s gig at Salisbury’s Winchester Gate, world/reggae duo, Two Man Ting appear at Devizes Southgate for an afternoon session from 4 to 6pm.

Midlands Jon Lewis and Sierra Leonian Jah-Man Aggrey, are a branch of world dance collective Le Cod Afrique, who play a cheerful combination of multicultural roots-pop. A welcome addition to the Southgate’s continuing mission to provide a diverse range of live music to Devizes; and a grand job they’re making of it!

With Aggrey’s bright, chatty vocals and bongos, and Lewis’s acoustic guitar picking, this promises to be something great and wholly different around these waters. They’ve done the festival scene from Womad and Glasto to the Montreux Jazz Festival & Glastonbury, and their acclaimed album “Legacy” has been much featured on BBC Radio 3 & BBC 6 Music.

Should be a good ‘un!

Opinion: House Party Organiser in Devizes Issued with £10,000 Fine

Daniel Jae Webb reports for Wiltshire 999s that the organiser of the house party, in Wick Lane, Devizes on Friday night, has been issued a £10,000 fine by Wiltshire Police, for ignoring a police warning.

Officers were called to the house and requested the party was be shut down in line with COVID-19 regulations, and claims their pleas were ignored. A spokesperson for Wiltshire Police said, (which I’ve had to amend the basic grammar of, like a primary school teacher): “As we continue to navigate through the COVID pandemic, we all have to take personal responsibility for our actions and adhere to the regulations.”

“Despite a warning, the organiser allowed the gathering of 80-100 people to continue, which is in clear breach of the current restrictions. Which states that ‘no gathering of more than 30 people may take place indoors, which would constitute a rave, if it were outdoors; amplified music, at night and due to loudness, duration and time it would likely cause significant distress to locals.”

Partygoers were dispersed and the hefty fine was issued. It’s a substantial amount for anyone to digest, the website stated, “there is no discretion given to set a lower amount.” Job done police, story dusted and archived. In my opinion, though, I’m afraid it feels far from over and arguably raises a number of questions.

I feel impelled ask then, firstly, was it shut down for safety reasons, due to the pandemic, or as the Wiltshire Police spokesman clearly states here, “amplified music at night would likely cause significant distress to locals?”

I cannot help but agree in this era of the pandemic we all must consider the risks and act accordingly, but the environment must be attained for people to want to do this, and take action appropriately, rather than feel they are being forced by law. Yes, the organiser and everyone who attended was putting their own health and the health of others at risk, and were foolish to do so. And when the officers attempted to engage with the group, they should have taken heed. Yet they should have wanted to do this of their own free will.

The harder the law, the more likely the rebellion toward it, though it may be important for the law to be enforced, an unaffordable fine such as this is draconian. It’s likely to have an adverse effect from the youth, who understandably see their lives disrupted in the same manner as everyone else, yet with no clear indication of ideas are being pitched to support them.

We’re casting our children out into the riskiest easing of lockdown ruling since it began, by returning them to school and college, and though you may deem it necessary, can you not also see they must feel like lab rats?

From all ancient philosophies and all of history we see a continuous pattern; people wishing to gather and celebrate is ingrained in our psyche and culture. And let’s face it, the conservative ethos set to stamp out partying long before this pandemic.

The breakup of the trend of the free festival scene in the eighties, only constituted a bigger problem to attempt to outlaw, the raves in the nineties. Retrospective youth cultures we can reflect back on now, and realise and agree the occurrences of these events were not only ground-breaking for artistic progression, and memorable for the attendees, but in reality, harmless fun.

Regulating and eventual normalising of the Criminal Justice Bill, saw something far worse; a political and social rejection of society, and a fight between police and people; a disgruntled conflict.

The psychological effect of lockdown is only just beginning to be felt, as we venture away from it. You feel isolation for the elderly was difficult, how was it for our younger generation who, by the illusion of timespan, six months feels far longer? The need in younger people to party must be recognised, as I’d imagine older generations reflect upon their youth misdoings. Rather we’re stamping our authority around and closing individual cases with a pat on the back and a job well done. We should, as a society in the dawn of change, be considering how we can arrange and organise celebratory events and parties sensibly and safely.

We have managed to adopt and implement new systems for shopping, for eating out, travel, and all other activities older generations wish to engage in, we should now focus on ways to keep the younger satisfied too. I don’t profess to have the answers, but believe by thinking together, and frankly, giving a hoot about our entire population, we can work out methods to accomplish it. Furthermore, if ideas were suggested and implemented so parties could go ahead safely, the need and want to break the law will surely lessen.

Break up the party, yes indeed, as we’re far from out of the water, but chuck people a paddle. They need a release; they need party and celebrate now more than ever in these trying times. If not, issue 10k fines to all who break the regulations; every grandad who forgets and leans over you in a supermarket, every businessman internationally jetting around the world, anyone, I dunno, who felt like driving across the country during lockdown to visit a castle, perhaps?

The Lost Trades on Cloud 9

New song from our local purveyors of the perfect folk vocal harmony trio, The Lost Trades. Out for another Bandcamp Day, today, Friday, where the website drops it’s fees and gives the artists 100% royalties; and darn it, if this isn’t worth a quid when it constitutes a mere quarter-cup of coffee from a posh café these days, I dunno what is.

The origin of the idiom, cloud nine is largely debated. Explanations relating the US Weather Bureau of the 1950s denoting fluffy cumulonimbus type clouds, or the penultimate stage of the progress to enlightenment for a Bodhisattva, are mostly debunked. But who needs a debate when you’re in a definite state of blissful contentment anyway?!

All you need know is this tune will land you on said cloud as if you were the monkey-god Sun Wukong on a mission. We are blessed with all the hallmarks of a Lost Trades signature tune; the calming tingle of xylophone, the gentle sway of acoustic guitar, the heavenly vocal harmonies, and uplifting lyrics to boot.

As Pink Floyd, around the Meddle era, after a bout of heavy space rock, when it suddenly drifts into thoughtful acoustic mega-bliss, this song just drifts akin, without need of heaviness, of Simon & Garfunkel, perhaps, meandering along a river on a gondola, thinking; hey man, let’s, like, sing; and it’s gorgeous, as we may’ve come to expect from this Trowbridge-Devizes trio. I wonder if we’re looking at a track from the highly anticipated album, yet, even if no, it’s the perfect display of progression for the newly-formed trio, who’s exceptional solo careers combine to create just as the title suggests; sitting on cloud nine.

With Tamsin advancing with her album, and Phil some way in front, teasing us with a cover design for his, titled Revelation, it’s clear the solo side projects will continue, but as a trio they bounce perfectly off each other, though it’s hardly a shove, more mooch.  Download it here.


Devizine’s IndieDay Outing!

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?

Check dis out; Vegan Jaffa Cake style cake @ Brogans, say no more!

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.)

So yes, it only leaves you to browse past and enjoy the day. Danny Kruger is coming, and if he can make it so can you; don’t believe the hype! Let us know you’re coming on the book of Face.


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Jon Veale Flicks the Switch

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.

Jon Veale

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!

Spotify Link

iTunes Link


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Bill Green’s Still Lost Demos

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.


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Jamie Williams and the Roots Collective Do What They Love, at The Southgate

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.

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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.

jamie

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.

dowhatyoulove

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.


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Open Music Venues, or Do They Hate Art?

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.

rave

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.

great german art ex

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!

bauhaus

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.

grassroots

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.

banksy

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.

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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.”

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Online Auction for All Cannings

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.

https://m.facebook.com/events/627158707860654

Round Up: 13th August 2020

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.

 

The first Devizes Wide Community Yard Sale will be underway on Sunday, here is what it’s all about: https://devizine.com/2020/07/28/devizes-wide-community-yard-sale-what-a-great-idea/

 

We’re continuing to support Tanya Borg’s campaign to get her children back, please sign the petition. Though we’ve good news that Danny Kruger has agreed to meet Tanya: https://devizine.com/2020/08/08/tanya-continues-her-campaign-promised-meeting-with-danny-kruger/

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And you may have seen our hero, Wayne Cherry walking through town, here’s why:  https://devizine.com/2020/08/04/hero-wayne-cherry-back-in-action/

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Last time I was allowed out to play, I made haste for the Southgate where the Lost Trades played, and I give you some words on this, and review their debut EP: https://devizine.com/2020/07/30/three-times-better-the-lost-trades-the-southgate/

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This week we reviewed Paul Lappin’s new single, Broken Record: https://devizine.com/2020/08/09/paul-lappins-broken-record/

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And a nice tune from Bath producer JAY, featuring Ben Keatt, called Sunset Remedy: https://devizine.com/2020/08/08/sunset-remedy-with-jay/

And Atari Pilot’s Right Crew, Wrong Captain: https://devizine.com/2020/07/26/atari-pilots-right-crew-wrong-captain/

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For fun, I did a piece on the Worst Pop Crimes of the Mid-Eighties: https://devizine.com/2020/08/02/worst-pop-crimes-of-the-mid-eighties/

And had a little satirical slate at WC’s seagull survey: https://devizine.com/2020/08/08/sign-the-seagull-survey-bob/

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There a continuous online Bath art exhibition in aid of Children’s Hospice south west: https://www.artgallerysw.co.uk/bath-art-expo/

 

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.

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Sat 15th:

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

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Sun 16th

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.

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Tues 18th

Devizes: Vinyl Realm have a Vinyl Listening Session at the Literary & Scientific Institute

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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

 

On that same Sunday, 23rd August, The Lost Trades play the Queen’s Head in Box, tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/schtumm-presents-the-lost-trades-tickets-115953571253

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.

 

 

Paul Lappin’s Broken Record

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.

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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.

For less than a chocolate bar, download this track from Bandcamp, it doesn’t disappoint.


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Sign the Seagull Survey, Bob!

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!

Sunset Remedy with JAY

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.

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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.


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Tanya Continues her Campaign; Promised Meeting with Danny Kruger

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.”

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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.

Meanwhile there is an important petition you can sign, here. Please do.

Here is the Go Fund Me Link, if you can help.

There is also a tee-spring hoody, and tote bag with printed logos of the campaign, and all the money raised will go to the fund, here. Join the Facebook group for further updates, here.


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Hero Wayne Cherry Back in Action!

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.

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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.”

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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.

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“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.


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Worst Pop Crimes of the Mid-Eighties!

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!


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Three Times Better; The Lost Trades @ The Southgate

From Robert Johnson selling his soul to the devil at the crossroads to bipolar bank robber George “Babyface” Nelson, there’s so many Americana mythologies and folklore veracities apropos in the Cohen Brother’s “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?” I could draft a lengthy essay. One I’m reminded of last Sunday down our trusty Southgate, was the scene depicting the Carter Family singing “Keep on the Sunny Side” at a governor’s election rally. Reason; there’s something simplistically bluegrass about The Lost Trades, matchless vocal harmonies, ensuring the circle is unbroken, even in a distant Wiltshire.

It was only a whistle-stop to wet my whistle, and when I did arrive the trio I’d came for where on their break. Tamsin was selling handcrafted spoons and lesser original band merchandise such as t-shirts and CDs, Phil was lapping the pub chatting enthusiastically and Jamie was having a pint with his family. None of this really matters, as individuals, we’ve rightfully nothing but praised these marvellous local musicians. When they formed a more official grouping and the Lost Trades were born, we broke the news. Neither did it matter, at the time, that I would be unable to attend their debut gig at the Village Pump. I had my new writer Helen offer to take my place, and what is more, I knew I’d be catching up with The Lost Trades in due course; couldn’t have predicted the impending lockdown the following week.

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Yet prior to Sunday I had ponder if there was anything else to write about these individuals we’ve not covered in the past, but I was wrong. The angle can only be the difference between them as individuals or periodically helping one another out at a gig, to the trio The Lost Trades. Because, when they did everything was very much adlib, with the Lost Trades three minds are working closer than ever before, and if two brains are better than one, three is not, in this case, a crowd.

It wasn’t long before they resettled, and huddled in the doorway of the skittle room playing to the crowd in the garden, as is the current arrangement for these brief acoustic sessions at the Gate. They joyfully toiled with a cover of Talking Heads’ “Road to Nowhere.” This was followed by my favourite track from Tamsin’s album Gypsy Blood, aptly, “Home.” Topped off with a sublime version of Cat Stevens’ “Moon Shadow.” But I did say it was a whistle stop.

In consolation I picked up their self-titled debut EP, something I should have done months ago. With this beauty in hand I could take a little of The Lost Trades home with me; it’ll play perpetually through those thoughtful moments. Recorded in session at The Village Pump, “because we really like the acoustics in there,” explained Tamsin, here is a recording oozing with a quality which, despite predicting, still blew me for six. As I say, it’s the combination of these three fantastic artists in their own right, as opposed the jamming we’ve previously become accustomed to, which really makes the difference.

Five tunes strong, this EP equally celebrates these three talents and harmonises them on a level we’ve not heard before. The acapella beginning of the opening tune, “Hummingbird” glides into stripped back xylophone and acoustic guitar, and is so incredibly saccharine, it trickles like some beatniks performing on a seventies Children’s TV show. Yet, it works. In true Simon & Garfunkel manner, it’s not mawkish, just nice.

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Hummingbird serves as a great introduction, but is by no means the template. As is commonplace, from the Beatles to The Wailers, The Trades, I detect, conjoin the writing effort but the lead singer seems to be the one who plucked the idea. “Good Old Days,” then, screams Jamie at me, who leads. It has his stamp, ingenious narrative centred around thoughtful prose. “Wherever You Are,” likewise is a Tamsin classic, wildly romantic and wayfarer.

“Robots,” follows, the quirkiest and perhaps erroneous after an initial listen. Yet through subtle metaphors the satirical slant charms in a manner which nods Phil Cooper, and why should one stick to a formula in subject matter? Because the sound is authentically Americana of yore, Robots superbly deflects the notion it’s lost in a bygone era and cannot use modern concepts, and Robots ruling the world is, however much a metaphor, still fundamentally sci-fi, and that makes for an interesting contrast. With that thought in mind, this could be the track which stands out for originality.

As in this review, we’ve returned to the unbroken circle. In full circle the final song, “Wait for my Boat,” is a sublimely cool track, casting a direction the trio are clearly heading. For although Jamie leads, there’s elements of all three middle tracks combined in this sea shanty sounding song. It’s metaphorical, romantic, with sentimental narrative. It wraps up the EP perfectly, leaving you hanging for the album they’re working on.

Yes, the Lost Trades is a live group you need to see in person, but this EP really is way beyond my already high expectations. It’s combination of talents is honest, bluegrass-inspired acoustic gorgeousness you need in your life.

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Devizes Wide Community Yard Sale; what a great idea!

The pandemic has pulled us into a time of change for everyone, we find methods and ways around restrictions to try to continue, best we can, the way of life we’re used to living. Historically eras like these see great innovations and ideas which now have become commonplace. Online meetings through Zoom, drive-in concerts and many new-fangled concepts are falling into place, but sometimes, the best ideas are the simpler ones. Devizes resident Laura Johns had such an idea, the kind that if she was a cartoon character it would be represented by a lightbulb above the head!

Laura has created a Facebook group dedicated to holding a town-wide, community yard sale and intends to run the first one on Sunday August 16th, running from 8am-5pm. Anyone is free to host a yard sale in their garden or close green space on that date, and the group are hoping it’ll turn the town into a whopping great car booty, without the cars; kinder on the environment too, Laura!

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I reckon this is a great idea, and something which has the potential to be a regular event. Many of us undoubtedly have been having a clear-out during lockdown, made some home improvements, and now have “stuff,” for want of a better word, clogging up space in their homes. The obvious banning of car boot and jumble sales means you’re restricted to donating to charity shops, dumping them at the recycling centre if you get a slot, but selling via Facebook pages is the only way you’re going to make a little money back. Of course, you could hold a yard sale at any time, but with this clever scheme, we will all know when and where.

All participates are invited to set their own yard sale up, freely, and they will be included on a map of the town, so buyers are free to roam the town and browse. Last count, 16 people wish to set up their own yard sale, and more are joining. My work is done notifying you and hoping you’ll join in on the day, setting up your own, or browsing the yard sales on offer. Laura and the team hope to extend the idea to neighbouring villages, where an alternative day will be set for each village. Who knows how far this idea will catch on?

So, join the group for more information and updates as they develop, and support this ingeniously simple idea. Oh, and there’s a Facebook event page you can respond to; great if you wish to attend as a buyer but not participate in the selling part. I like it so much it’s my pleasure to donated a little poster/header for the group, and you can be sure Devizine will be supporting the event as best we can, provided there’s not too many pubs en-route!!


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Atari Pilot’s Right Crew, Wrong Captain

Only gamers of a certain age will know of The Attic Bug. Hedonistic socialiser, Miner Willy had a party in his manor and wanted to retire for the evening. Just how a miner in the eighties could’ve afforded a manor remains a mystery; but that erroneous flaw was the tip of the iceberg. In this ground-breaking ZX Spectrum platform game, the Ribena Kid’s mum appeared to guard Willy’s bedroom, tapping her foot impatiently. Touch this mean rotund mama and she’d kill you, unless you’d tided every bit of leftovers from the bash. Turned out, months after the game’s release, one piece, in the Attic, was impossible to collect. Until this glitch became public knowledge, players were fuming as an intolerable bleeping version of “If I was a Rich Man,” perpetually looped them to insanity.

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I swear, if I hear that tune, even some forty years on I cringe; the haunting memory of my perseverance with the impossible Jetset Willy. Music in videogames has come a long way, thank your chosen deity. Yet in this trend of retrospection I terror at musical artists influenced by these cringeworthy clunky, bleeping melodies of early Mario, or Sonic soundtracks; like techno never happened, what are they thinking of? It was with caution, then, when I pressed play on the new single from Swindon band “Atari Pilot.” I had heard of them, but not heard them. I was pleasantly surprised.

For starters, this is rock, rather than, taken from the band’s name, my preconceived suspicion I would be subject to a lo-fi electronica computer geek’s wet dream. While there is something undeniably retrospective gamer about the sonic synth blasts in Right Crew, Wrong Captain, it is done well, with taste and this track drives on a slight, space-rock tip. Though comparisons are tricky, Atari Pilot has a unique pop sound. No stranger to retrospection, with echoey vocals and a cover akin to an illustration from Captain Pugwash, still this sound is fresh, kind of straddling a bridge between space-rock and danceable indie. Oh, and it’s certainly loud and proud.

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A grower, takes a few listens and I’m hooked. Their Facebook blurb claims to “change the rules of the game, take the face from the name, trade the soul for the fame…I’m an Atari Pilot.” After their debut album “Navigation of The World by Sound” in 2011, a long hiatus took in a serious cancer battle. But Atari Pilot returned in 2018 with an acoustic set at the Swindon Shuffle. The full band gathered once again the following year with live shows and a new set of “Songs for the Struggle.” This will be the title of their forthcoming follow-up album, “When we were Children” being the first single from it, and now this one, “Right Crew, Wrong Captain,” is available from the end of July.

Its theme is of isolation, “and defiance, after the ship has gone down,” frontman Onze informs me. There’s a haunting metaphor within the intelligent lyrics, “you nail yourself to the mast and you pray that everything lasts, you just want to know hope floats, when the water rises, coz it’s gonna rise, take a deep breath and count to ten, sink to the bottom and start again.”

There’s a bracing movement which dispels predefined ideas of indie and progresses towards something encompassing a general pop feel, of bands I’ve highlighted previously, Talk in Code and Daydream Runaways, Atari Pilot would not look out of place billed in a festival line-up with these acts, and would add that clever cross between space-rock with shards of the videogames of yore, yet, not enough to warrant my aforementioned fears of cringeworthy bleeps. Here’s hoping it’s “game over” for that genre. That said, thinking back, when you bought your Atari 2600, if you recall, oldie, you got the entire package of two joysticks and those circler controllers too, as standard; could you imagine that much hardware included with a modern console? Na, mate, one controller, you’ve got to buy others separately.

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So, if decades to come we have a band called X-Box or PlayStation Pilot, I’d be dubious, but Atari gave us quality, a complete package; likewise, with Atari Pilot!


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A Pictorial Guide to Those Exempt from Wearing a Facemask

Just to clear up confusion prior to mandatory face covering in the UK from July 24th, we’ve pictorially listed below those undoubtedly exempt from wearing a mask. Everyone else should either wear one when shopping, or apply to the Hidden Disabilities charity for a Face Covering Exempt card for 55p, available here.

Exemption cases include:

young children under the age of 11.

not being able to put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability.

if putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress.

if you are travelling with or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading to communicate

to avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to yourself or others

to avoid injury, or to escape a risk of harm, and you do not have a face covering with you

to eat or drink, but only if you need to

to take medication

if a police officer or other official requests you remove your face covering

There are also scenarios when you are permitted to remove a face covering when asked:

If asked to do so by shop staff for the purpose of age identification.

If speaking with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound. Some may ask you, either verbally or in writing, to remove a covering to help with communication.

And, if you are:

Big Hero 6


With only a line across his eyes as facial features, this friendly Disney robot is so obviously exempt. Even if he was to have a mouth and nose, he’s a robot anyway, so there.

Rorschach

Alan Moore’s mysteriously ruthless detective Watchman, Rorschach may have been a bit of a mentalist, but, as it turns out, he was way ahead of us all in wearing a facemask. Although, self-morphing inkblots on your mask are not compulsory in the UK, yet. Rorschach never took off his mask until he was forced to do so. Be like Rorschach.

Hello Kitty

No milk for Hello Kitty, this manga cutie is one feline without a mouth and only a button nose; no need for a facemask. If you’ve already bought a facemask and wake up on the morning of the 24th July realising you are, in fact, Hello Kitty, perhaps you could make it into a cute hair bow.

The Silence

Steve Moffat’s creepy alien religious order, The Silence maybe the scariest Dr Who monsters ever. However, without a mouth or nose anyone converted to the order are exempt too. Even if they weren’t, are you going to pull one up on it in the queue for Lidl? No, I thought not; just take a photo and inform the Facebook police.

Marvin the Martian

Mars has an excellent Covid19 infection R-rating of zero, so even if this lovable Loony Tunes alien had a mouth and nose, he’d still be exempt. Interesting to note, he first appeared in a Buggs Bunny cartoon in 1948, and there’s no telling baby boomers anyway.

Optimus Prime

He may be an extra-terrestrial synergistic blend of biological evolution and technological engineering, but you have to hand it to the leader of the Autobots, he’s been covering his mouth and nose with a metallic plate at least since their awakening 1985, if not the pre-historic era when they first crash landed on Earth. Boris Johnson himself stated that, with the exception of Lightning McQueen, vehicles do not have to wear a facemask, even if they do turn into robots. It was in fact, the only comprehendible statement he’s made on the matter to date.

Neo

If, like Neo, you find you are but a digital version of yourself trapped in a virtual reality world created by machines to use humans as fuel, you are exempt from wearing a facemask as the world is not really real at all, ergo neither is the virus anything more than malware and nothing good scan with Norton won’t fix. This applies even if Agent Smith doesn’t try to silence you by temporarily sealing up your mouth. Anyone else with an alternative conspiracy theory should check with their online geek blogger before shopping without a facemask.


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Opinion: The End and Reawakening of Rave

Intoxication levelling nicely, some friends and I trekked up the hillside and looked down at the sight below. Well aware it had become fairly large, as was the illegal rave scene in the summer of 1992, we hadn’t fathomed just how large. Overwhelmed by the unexpected magnitude, I sighed, doubting this would ever be allowed again. Still, we had no idea then, we were part of an historic moment; didn’t really care or wish to be.

Ravers were apolitical, we only wanted to celebrate life, dance harder than any generation prior, and masticate lots on chewing gum. Yeah, it was anarchy, but it was a passive anarchy, there was order and morals amidst the chaos. It was more movement than youth culture, as we only did what ancients have always done, but embracing technology to do it, and while previous youth cultures had a set uniform and rules, rave was a melting pot of expression which anyone and everyone would succumb to, regardless of their previous cultures, age, gender, race or religion. It was, basically, too radical for the conventional government.

When I eventually made it home after the festival of Castlemorton Common in the Malvern Hills, the first thing I did was check my parent’s newspaper, and smiled to myself at a job well done; then I slept for three days. Lechlade on the Beltane weekend may have made the front page of the broadsheets, now this had similar clout with the tabloids; still didn’t fear it would be the final nail in the coffin. An estimated forty-thousand revellers flocked here; government were eager to act. A change in the law was conceived the following week, and would take a couple of short years to implement; a final stand from a crumbling, desperate Conservative substitute of Thatcherism. Many of the sound systems jumped ship and took off to Europe, and although this spread the culture worldwide, those left in Blighty were forced into smaller, localised events, large scale paid raves and the clubs.

Nowadays I sigh, all I have is diminishing memories and fantastical fables like a quibbling old wino. Unbelievable to youth today, we took no photographs at the time; to bring out a camera at an illegal rave in the early nineties would’ve been frowned upon. But, I’m okay with that, never the diehard, content that it is now just a treasured part of my youth. As with every trend, they usually return, two decades normally, when the influence of parent’s stories inspires their youth. When 2010 hit, then, I was prepared to venture to the loft in search of my white gloves and whistle, just, you know, for nostalgic reasons and to hark to youngers about how we used to do it, Uncle Albert style. I don’t think I could stomach a full-on sess, the convoys, dancing all night to banging techno, probably just give me a banging headache.

The thing is, I doubt the rave scene ever completely ended, that intransigents still party and press rarely jump on it. I attended one over a decade ago in Savernake Forest, but it didn’t have the same vibe. Pushed further underground, the gabba-techno, the attitude of ravers reflected a much harsher vibe, of punk, of pure anarchy. Regrettably, the happy vibe which once reigned had passed, due to the outlawing of the culture and the spread of harder drugs. I winced at a report in the Independent which spoke of “a rave just like the old days,” when it continued to suggest ravers heard of the event via Twitter.

It was always just tremoring in the mountain. For rave is akin to the monkey-god, Sun Wukong, trapped under the mountain, awaiting release. How do I feel about three thousand youths gathering at a disused RAF airfield on Charmy Down near Bath? I feel the nature of Monkey is irrepressible! It is inevitable, if, for whatever reasons, even a worldwide pandemic, if you curb freedom you will get a backlash. Yes, it’s horribly ignoring social distancing, but so are the idiots fighting outside every Spoons in the country, and even if I’ve not attended for the longest, even if the original ethos is waning, I believe the media desire to exemplify an illegal rave without revenue for big business, negatively. I’m firmly convinced, from experience, that in the eye of the storm, any modern equivalent of what we once did would never be as vehement or disparaging as a brawl in a Wetherspoons.

So are the shoppers, the traditionalists protesting against the wearing of masks, so are the pensioners in care homes, the children in the parks, so is everyone heading for the beach every weekend. Let’s not fool ourselves, millions of us are now ignoring, rebelling from the lockdown restrictions, we only need to stop to contemplate it all, and give self-policing on social media a break. Our once happy lockdown bought about peace and tranquillity, now is causing frustration and a rebellious nature, a bit like the downfall of raves. What then, could be more apt? Instead of scorning at them, attempting to stop them, perhaps the government and police forces should suck it up, accept its inevitably and work on methods to stage relative social distancing measures for them.

What do I think of the media exposing the return of rave? You know, when the Ibiza die-hards recreated acid house in UK cities I was just a delinquent, with an appetite for exploration and in need of escapism. We were looking for something, we didn’t know what. The original acid house crew was little over a thousand, recruitment was by introduction, and some doughnut invited a tabloid journalist. “Look at what your teenagers are doing!” it over-exaggerated. If it wasn’t for the media hype we’d have never known. So, you go on, reporters, and what you think is a scare story will backfire into intrigue before your very Facebook site, and youth will look to attending, and the scene will flourish again like a phoenix rising from the ashes. Then, as a mass, they will look rewards, to how it once was, and how as a group consciousness and rising movement, it had morals and it had principles. We cleared up after ourselves, you may be surprised to note, we looked after each other. You will free a new love generation, and in an era such as this, god knows we need it.

Watch violent crime diminish, watch teenage depression wane, watch a generation free from the restraints of its former oppression, as it once did. See a rising generation thinking for itself, throwing away this baby-boomer selfishness and regain a likeminded consciousness. Wrigleys will be back in business too!


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Ben Borrill Takes A Little Time

Bobbing around the St John’s corner of Long Street, trying to act important, and sober, I had a message for Ben Borrill, Pete was looking for him, he was on next; ah, gave me something to do. It was the fantastic Devizes Street Festival, made that much more fantastic by Vinyl Realm organising a second stage, showcasing local talent. You must’ve heard about it, even if you weren’t there, I’ve harked on about it enough!

Mission accomplished, he was loitering the doorway, and equably replied with an “oh, okay.” There’s a casual air around Ben, perhaps the most altruistic and modest musician, and, oh, skateboarder too, on the local circuit. It was this way when I first met him during an acoustic jam at The Southgate. Yet there’s a magnetic sparkle when he performs, which captivates. Other than friendship, it’s probably the plausible reason he supports Daydream Runaways recurrently.

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I never held out for something recorded from Ben, content as he seems to roam the local circuit performing live, yet with the current climate surrounding gigs, time and effort is channelled into getting studio time down, for everyone. Sometimes this transmits the talents of a live performer, occasionally not, and I happily report it’s far from the latter.

Groovy, in a word; there’s something pleasantly sixties Merseybeat-come-beatnik about Ben Borrill’s debut single, Take a Little Time; not in a tacky tribute kind of cliché but in a nonchalant, progressive way. Particularly in the intro, the reference of seasonal change, shifting leaves and blossom of a fading spring, balances into romantic ditty, and spanning just over two minutes too; it’s short but sweet.

While it doesn’t go off down a completely psychedelic sixties formula, it’s no Mammas & Papas, the riffs do lean heavily on all that’s golden about that golden era, of Kinks or Hollies, with a fresh tinge of modern acoustic. Here’s a smooth ride into an intelligently grafted, but easy-going song, reflecting Ben’s charismatic and breezy attitude. It is, blinking marvellous, and leaves you yearning for more… jump to it Ben, equably I’d imagine he would reply with an “oh, okay!” Spotify link here.


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Help Pewsey Mum on her Campaign to free her Children from Abduction

So, Devizine exists to highlight and promote local events and I try my best, apart from the odd bit of cheeky satire, to steer away from political matters. Yet I’m both heartbroken and at a loss for words this afternoon, chatting online to Pewsey mum, Tanya Borg. But within it, there is an event I need to let you know about, in this horrid mess, please read on….

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.

Red tape between the Crown Prosecution Service and Wiltshire Police has prevented further action from being taken, and under advice of the CPS, Wiltshire Police have closed the case. “The CPS are saying they don’t tell the police what to do,” Tanya explained, “But Wiltshire Police are saying the CPS don’t want to take the case.” I cannot imagine how distraught she must be. “You have no idea,” Tanya continued, “Angry. Frustrated. Sad. My daughters need help.”

In fear for the treatment of her daughters, Tanya went to explain how, after a court order for joint custody, their grandmother wouldn’t allow them to leave the house, so Tanya tried for full custody, but they ran away with the children. Angel is now twenty, and Maya just eight. A Daily Mail article exposes the issue, with a video of the father’s family driving them away. It is with hope the video will pressure British authorities to reopen the case.

This is where I asked if Tanya had or has any further contact with them, and the short answer was “no.” In England we complain about this, whinge about that, the bus being delayed etc, we really don’t understand how life is in Libya. “Because there is no authorities inside Libya, due to the situation, as Libya is at war with itself,” Tanya detailed, “it is dangerous, and that is their excuse, but now there has been a newly elected government, they could at least try, that is what is most upsetting, they haven’t even tried. I feel like my children don’t matter, because I am not of status.”

Firstly, Tanya has a GoFundMe campaign page, where you can contribute. “It’s a corrupt country, and money talks,” she explains, “I can’t do anything without it.” Tanya has spoken to Claire Perry, who passed it onto the Minister of the African Department, “which say,” Tanya claimed, “They cannot do anything.” MP Danny Kruger has been emailed, which was my first port-of-call, and we await a response.

Tanya plans to take a protest to Downing Street on the 8th August, but has also staged an event in Pewsey on the 25th July. Meeting at the Cooper’s Arms at 3pm, the protest will follow the eminent carnival route. “My eldest daughter,” Tanya explained, “was carnival princess back in 2011.” They will be chanting “Free Angel and Maya,” but ask protesters observe social distancing and wear facemasks. “I would love as many people to attend and support,” she hopes, “to help me bring my babies home.” Tanya will also be organising a local coach for the Downing Street protest.

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Sam Bishop and the Fallen Sky

Ex-Devizes boyband and half of Larkin, Sam Bishop is away studying music in Winchester. He posts about his latest single, Fallen Sky with the thought, “I really do think this is the best song I’ve ever made.” You do always say that, Sam, tee-hee, but it’s no bad thing! I think it was legendary underground cartoonist, Hunt Emerson, who once told me, “never put anything out you’re not confident to say it’s the best thing you’ve ever done.” It suggests Sam is always striving for better, but the proof is the pudding, and this is a Michelin star sundae. Yeah, I believe you’re deffo right with this one.

It’s got that dark, moody ambience, backed with a deep bassline, sonic piano and ticking drumbeats, as if William Orbit took boyband to dubstep. This compliments Sam’s humming vocals to a tee, as it characterises dejected teenage anguish and echoes the passion in early romantic interactions. While it’s a bromide subject at the best of times, Sam rests on it well, as was a time when we wanted Phil Collins to have a broken heart, so his reflection on it would be so powerfully crushing and relevant to our own life!

I feel old ears will nod in memory, but Sam’s defining style speaks volumes to younger generations. This is heartfelt stuff, as ever with Sam, but this time, in particular, the production on Fallen Sky envelopes that atmosphere so brilliantly.

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You know what I’d like to hear? And call me old-fashioned if you will, I’ve been called worse, but I’d like an amalgamation of songs filling a complete narrative, as the parable ends like an open-ended short story, leaving you wondering the next decision Sam’s character in the song will take. Like a chick-flick plot, he sings, “does it feel like it’s the end of our lives?” While this is great, I’m left yearning to know if they get back together or not, so, just a suggestion, but an intertwined set of songs spanning a complete fictional relationship, like, dare I say it, a concept album. This may not be the modern way to go with distribution I know, but here is Sam Bishop at his best, and a development worthwhile expanding.

Yeah, alright, I hear you, I’m old, yeah, thanks a million! Check this Fallen Sky out here.


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The Big Yellow Bus Rocks The Gazebo

Two things former humble truck driver Gerry Watkins is a natural at, plucking an ingenious idea and putting it into action, and putting on a gig to fund it. In 2017 Gerry raised four-grand to buy a double-decker bus, which he converted into a homeless shelter in Cirencester. Since he’s launched a similar plan in Swindon, and continues to raise funds for this amazing homeless project. The Big Yellow Bus project is innovative but simple, and Gerry works tirelessly to keep it running.

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With live music teetering on return, it still maybe a while before some venues are ready to reopen, despite yesterday’s sudden given date of August 1st. The following weekend, 7&8th, sees a grand restart for The Big Yellow Bus, to get funds rolling once again. The Tavern Inn in Kembleplays host to this glorious two-day mini festival, which is free, with collection buckets for the Big Yellow Bus doing the rounds.

Music plans to kick off at 7pm on Friday 7th August with our good friends, Absolute Beginners. I know, like most, Cath, Gouldy and the gang will be itching to get back to live music. While there’s still a few gaps in the line-up to confirm, The Roughcut Rebels will be a welcomed act, introducing their new frontman, the one and only Finley Trusler; an awesome unification we look forward to hearing. Mick O Toole is also on Friday’s header.

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Saturday 8th though is an all-dayer. Paul Cooper (Martin Mucklowe) from the twice BAFTA award-winning BBC tv series, This Country, will be opening up the event at midday. Shaun Peter Smith will be the Compère for the day, as Miss Lucy Luscious Lips, he’s certain to add a little bit of glamour and sparkle. There’s a number of faces I know to this busy line-up, and plenty new to me.

An interesting Opening at midday, Ascenda are a four-piece, playing smooth music with a rock edge and thoughtful, theatrical vocals. Their current collection of songs ‘Celeste,’ forms a love story that explores conflicts; solitude versus companionship, and spirituality versus practicality.

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Acenda (image by Eric Hobson Photography)

Cath, Gouldy and the gang return as The Day Breakers at 1pm, with their irresistible blend of Celtic and mod-rock covers, it’s guaranteed to go off! Swindon’s all-girl rock and pop covers band, Bimbo follow at 2pm. Dirty and filthy punk is promised to followed with The Useless Eaters, a band who accurately recreate the iconic sound of late 70’s British and American punk.

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Six Lives Left

Cirencester’s masters of high-energy classic eighties rock covers, Loaded Dice are on at 4pm, followed by a mesh of Britpop, new wave and ska with SkA’D Hearts at 6pm. Era-spanning soul follows with Joli and The Souls, and rock restarts in style with Six Lives Left. Sticking with six as the magic number, the finale will be from Calne’s fantastic misfits of Britpop and new wave, Six O Clock Circus, who are always up for a party!

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Joili & The Souls

Yeah, it’s all slightly out of our usual jurisdiction, but with a line up like this, all for such a great cause, and with limited events these lockdown days, this is highly recommended and worth the effort. Kemble Railway Station is right opposite The Tavern Inn so it’s easy to find.

Note, putting such an event on so early after lockdown will not be without expected guidelines, everyone must abide by. Gerry urges social distancing and that you respect those around you. “This is all done so you can enjoy yourself and have a great time watching and dancing to great live bands and performers, thank you for all your support and together we can have a great time.” I’m sure they will, Gerry. If anyone is heading off from Devizes, gimmie a lift, pal, because this sounds unmissable!

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Talk in Code Taste the Sun

Back in January 2019, I was dead impressed with Talk in Code’s debut album Resolve, and labelled it “sophisticated pop with modern sparkle.” I offered the track “Oxygen,” as best example of how, like classic pop anthems should, its instantaneous catchiness gets stuck in your head. To compare and contrast that favourite from the album with the upcoming release from this Swindon indie-pop four-piece, it’s clear they’ve come an incredibly long way to enhancing and refining that fashion.

Reflecting back, Resolve has the definite “indie” sound of the nineties, only dipping a toe in the pool of eighties synth-pop. I felt this coming, each track they release sounds more like an iconic mid-eighties sugary hit, and Taste the Sun dives right in. It supplements my “sophisticated pop with modern sparkle” label much more.

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Recorded just before lockdown at Studio 91 in Newbury, the band define the theme as “about waking up and smelling the coffee, a feeling that change is coming and the relief when that change is made for the greater good.” Nothing wrong with that inspiring concept, but perhaps nothing original; writing style they stick to a model template, but the sound is invigorating. In a word, it’s refreshing, like the zest of a sparkling iced fruit drink on a humid holiday afternoon, it encompasses all that is glorious about pop. Blooming with good time, summery vibes, Taste the Sun is the sort of lively “Wham” anthem a younger you would’ve retained from a holiday camp disco, and evermore evoke a fond memory of a fleeting romance.

That said in the best manner possible. Talk in Code is a well-oiled machine, refining that classic sound for a new generation and, most importantly, extracting and binning any cliché or cringeworthy elements. You know the sort, listen to any eighties pop now and wince at a particularly ill-thought out component, be it a castoff sample, badly grafted rap or, worse still, a “talky” part; “I thought I told you, Michael, I’m a lover not a fighter!”

Yet I find similar with today’s pop, and hold my daughter accountable! “Why they doing that bit?” I grumpily whinge. “What bit?” she retorts. It’s like a repetitive synthesised single word, or randomly placed high-hat making me shudder. Talk in Code use the acuteness of “indie” to eliminate said pop crime, use pop for catchiness and throw something back at you with universal appeal. It’s true, I concern myself at the prospect of taking my daughter to a pop festival, be it I’m cowering at her modern taste, or she’s dragging me away from something I like the sound of. Talk in Code is something we could both agree is great, and throughout reviewing their singles, Taste the Summer is perhaps the prime example of this notion.

Released on Monday 27th July, on digital download at http://www.talkincode.co.uk and on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon Music and all digital platforms. Go on, you have a listen, and I challenge you to find something bad to say about this sparkling, uplifting nugget of pop; because I can’t!


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Eat Out to Help Out, Locally, Independently

I am listing local restaurants, cafes and pubs who are participating in the “eat out to help out,” scheme and encourage owners in the Wiltshire area to contact Devizine, to be listed freely. Although you know me, have to have a little rant beforehand, so scroll past my waffling if you wish to get direct to the list! Note the list will be updated, so check back in August.

For information on how to apply for the scheme, see here. Note the scheme comes with restrictions. Only available on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from the 3rd to 31st August 2020, and offers a 50% discount, up to a maximum of £10 per person, for food or non-alcoholic drinks to eat or drink in.

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“I believe I dust my broom.” Robert Johnson sung that, the bluesman who sold his soul to the devil at the Mississippi Delta crossroads, in exchange for faultless musical flair, so he must know what he’s on about. Although, to dust your broom actually means to make change, derived from the expression “get up and dust,” or get out of town fast. I didn’t need to do that, just get out of B&Q!

Had my old outdoor broom for decades, but timeworn, it finally gave up the ghost. Sunday, I nipped into B&Q and returned home proud owner of a new broom with a screw-on handle. Too loose, one swipe and the head fell off, tighten it and it passes the thread and…. the head falls off. Time passed and my patience caved by numerous attempts to secure the handle on the head. I came to the forgone conclusion, it’s either fate; star alignment’s fault, since NASA claims I’ve moved from Pieces to Aquarius, or, more likely, it’s mass-produced shite.

After hand sanitising, queuing and following the one-way circuit around the entire store, I returned it, swung into town, parked dead outside Mainleys and picked up a far cheaper, better broom. By very design, glued and stapled, it’s old-fashioned, but a coupling method which has worked for centuries. If it’s not broke…. A lesson learned, then; should’ve shopped local.

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Make no mistake, I consider this soundbite “eat out to help out” nauseatingly haughty, coming from a government who had to be dragged kicking and screaming to provide basic meals for school children. Guaranteed, this is yet another move to line the pockets of big business, the mass-producing restaurant chains.

Never forget Boris’s bum-chum, Tim Martin and how he refused to close during lockdown, refused to pay his staff and suppliers. If a Frankie & Benny branch sadly closes, the staff will be the only ones to suffer; that’s sorrowful reality, I’m afraid. Note the variety you think you’re getting with a parade of Wagamama, Frankie & Benny’s, Chiquitito, et all, is false, they’re all the same company and will subside each other; different sauce, same old chicken, pal. If the government are going to open taxpayer’s wallets, I urge the small business and independent eateries, who would otherwise close, lock, stock and barrel, to dip in before the fat cats.

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Unfortunately, I’ve experienced the rubber chicken which bounced off the floor of Wetherspoons first hand, lost teeth on Hungry Horse waffles, and felt famished twenty seconds after eating an air-pumped big mac. Like my broom experience, I’m at my tether’s end; best to shop local.

Not that I’m trying to persuade you, the choice to eat out is your prerogative and risk; many pubs and restaurants are continuing to provide takeaway services, many established takeaways are delivering and continuing to provide an excellent service too. Sometimes though, it’s nice to be able to eat out, remember your mask. If you can, here’s a list, then, of local places participating in the 50% off “eat out to help out” scheme; let’s support them.


If you missed my social media requests for participating places to be included, do not worry, I can update this if you twist my arm with some love…. and remember the best way to a man’s heart! Ah, insert laughing emoji here; only kidding, cheeky blagger that I am. Just message me and I’ll get your café or restaurant added! Do take heed though, while we’re here, overflowing with banter, our foodie reviews are the most popular articles, and we’d love to do one for you.

You can find more participating eateries via postcode search on the Gov site here.  


Devizes

Massimo’s Ristorante

For twenty-seven years Francos was the finest Italian restaurant in Devizes, but with the departure of Sicilian chef, Massimo Pipitone things were never quite the same. Two years ago, Massimo returned to Old Swan Yard to recapture the restaurant’s reputation and with a name change, has succeeded in putting it back on top. Still operating the takeaway service, it begun during lockdown, they’ve now reopened the restaurant, excellently observing social distancing regulations. They serve traditional Italian and Sicilian cuisine, and the pizzas are awesome!

Take it from me, one who loves his tucker, you will not find better service, quality and tastier food this side of Roma!  Booking at weekends is essential. 

The Pelican:

Splendid inn situated at the Market Place, known best for its roast dinners, which can be takeaway too. The Pelican have various cuisine events and has a scrumptious bar menu. An example from this weekend’s roast option:  Slow Roasted Leg of Lamb. Chicken is always an alternative every week with a beautiful Home-Made Vegetarian Option. Vegan or Gluten Free diets also catered for with advance booking. £8.95 per person, £5.95 per child, £4.50 per Home Made Dessert. Please telephone 01380 723909 to book.

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New Society:

Sitting somewhere between glorious pub grub and restaurant, New Society in the Market Place was quickly established as one of our best eateries. Our review last September has always been one of our highest hitting articles, and they were glad to announce reopening on 3rd July. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, or perhaps a coffee stop, New Society is a comfortable setting and serves a large selection.  Operating usual daytime opening hours, but currently evenings are restricted to Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It is advisable to pre-book for these nights (01380 722288).

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1Spice

One of the newer establishments, it did not take long for 1 Spice in Maryport Street to earn the jewel in the crown of Indian restaurants in Devizes, and rightly so. It’s my chosen place for a knees-under, and is often cited top of majorities’ list. Conventionally, Indian restaurants convey an aptitude of exceptional customer service and etiquette, and 1Spice is of no exception. Expect to be welcomed, but what is more, expect a wide and gorgeous selection, mixing the flavours and spices of India with the finest seasonal ingredients the West Country can offer. It’s driving my appetite for a Ruby just typing this, and I’ve had my dinner already!

The Hourglass:

Tucked away at Devizes Marina, the Hourglass is a perfect location and serves a high-quality pub menu. Options have been restricted since reopening on 4th July, but expanding now, and takeaway service is available. Booking is advisable for food. Subject to change, opening hours are 11am-9pm every day, with food served between 5-8pm, Thursdays through to Sundays. Book online here.

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Tea Inc

A cup of Rosy-Lee for me, I’m not a coffee guy. Still, I’ve not been in Tea Inc in the Ginnel (just off the Market Place) and now in Marlborough, sovereign of tearoom towns. This must change, I’m coming for you guys, ensure you have some custard creams! This humble teashop throws off the doily and delicate fingertip-cup-hold stereotype of tea rooms and prides itself with an eclectic, quirky environment they affectionately call “The Shoppe.”

Serving crumpets (fnarr, yurkk, yurkk) sandwiches, salads and soup, this could just be the essential shopping stop-off for tea drinkers; get away from me with your X-L vanilla Nespresso dripping down your MacBook!

Times Square

Central to Devizes Market Place, Times Square is simply the perfect little coffee shop for a light lunch. Cakes and ice cream, say no more. As the name suggests it may have started by being inspired by American cuisine, yet only in the best possible taste. Times Square is no stranger to hosting the odd event, and is a welcomed shopping stop off.

  Brogans Café

Brogans Café in the Brittox is one I confess I’ve yet to try. Outside space, ice cream, cakes and milkshakes and smoothies, Brogans prides itself on its vegan options. “Vegan Jaffa Cake style cake” as pictured below, might just twist my arm!

Bengal Bite

Throughout my years here in Devizes, Bengal Bite in Sheep Street has always been the tandoori kitchen of choice. The Bengal Bite offers contemporary Indian and Bangladeshi food. It’s comfy and hospitable, a romantic place to woe a prospective love with a mild Korma, or equally a place for you and the lads to blow your pants off with a blistering Vindaloo! The Bengal Bite has been voted the best restaurant in Wiltshire by the readers of the Wiltshire Gazette & Herald, and 2014 finalist for Small Business of the Year in the Wiltshire Business Awards.

The Fox & Hound

A little out of town but worth the trek down Nursteed Road, The Fox & Hound is an inviting family pub, offering romantic carriage rides followed by lunch or candle-lit dinner, and successful horse-drawn ghost and historical tours of Devizes start and finish at the Fox.

Jeffersons

The most down-to-earth café you’ll find in Devizes, this is Monday Market Street’s gem; great service, gorgeous homecooked breakfasts and lunches at affordable prices, never had a bad fry-up there yet!

The Bell on the Green

Always a favourite for the location in its title, The Bell has reopened with times and obvious restrictions. Here’s their menu….

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Coffee Etc:

Marvellous little coffee shop in Lamb Yard, just off Kingston Road, serving hot and cold beverages, breakfast, lunch and afternoon teas with great homemade cakes, and vinyl records too. Comfy hideaway this place, perfect for a stop-off when strolling town. I reviewed it a long time ago for Index:Wiltshire, but the site has been taken down now, so you’ll have to take my word for it! Facebook page here.

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Jamie at The Southgate; first live music review for a while!

Has lockdown made us appreciate the simpler things in life we once took for granted? Even if, it’s pathetic to lose your shit over the lessening of restrictions and go on an all-out bonkers spree of drunken foolishness, playing into the media’s hands creating a drama from a crisis. It is understandable isolated folk fear the idea of venturing to pubs when carefully selected images of hordes of pissheads scrapping outside some chavvy chain bar are spread across social media, just as a few weeks ago a trip to the beach would’ve been scorned at.

For me, a relative good, aging boy, who’s been looking forward to the prospect of an unpretentious pint down the Southgate all morning at work, to return home and regrettably check Facebook to notice a local post claiming sixty-plus youths were last night causing havoc in town, and extend the horror to hear similar events occurred in the Sham too, it’s discouraging. Will I be held up as a hooligan, because I desire life to return to a time when going to the pub was normality?

It’s a matter of being selective. If it was up to me, I’d encourage a mass boycott of Bojo’s philistine bum-chum, Tim Martin’s shamelessly uncultured shithouses, but each to their own. They lead by example, a bad one. If you want to pour your hard-earned pounds into the pocket of this billionaire who treated his staff with such utter disrespect, perhaps you’re the kind of insensible sociopath who enjoys a punch-up. Not me, I went to the Southgate for an afternoon pint and report back a decidedly lack of hooliganism from rampaging shirtless knob-jockeys; don’t believe the hype.

Going to this pub was safer than shopping, and the delightful experience it always was, if not more being it’s been a while.

I actually got what I anticipated all along; a warm welcome, orderly queuing for the bar, a bottle or two of hand sanitiser and a slight gathering observing social distancing, able to contain their excitement at being let off their leash. But what is more, some breezy live music; what I’ve been holding out for. Yay! I’m not writing to slag off some corporate monopoly, but wanted to compare and contrast, plus get the rant off my chest. Rather it is, our first live music review for seemingly eons, and who better to grace the step of the Southgate’s garden than Jamie R Hawkins? Okay, I know I’m asking too many questions in this piece, but that was rhetorical.

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Perched in the doorway of the skittle alley, slighter of beard and longer of locks, Jamie was every bit the icing on the cake. Predictable, could be said, but welcoming to see the many faces admiring over his ambiance of acoustic goodness. In faith too, of the gradual phase-in for live music, the session wasn’t intended to be long; just a few songs from 4-6pm. Enough though to get a taste, and Jamie looked to be enjoying it as much as the crowd.

There were some new ones, Walking into Doors (?) one I arrived for, one perhaps called “Speechless.” Jamie did one cover, Simon & Garfunkel’s Cecelia, and went through some of his benchmarks, the wonderful Capacity to Change, the remarkably sentimental Not Going Anywhere, and being it was a family affair, the ukulele-driven “Welcome to the Family,” aimed at his restless toddler in her pushchair. Yes, an intimate setting, but with words crafted so beautifully and perceptible as Jamie’s, one cannot see the relevance in your own life.

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It was also a notable notion that Jamie was the last person to perform at our splendid Southgate, prior to the lockdown, so fitting he set the ball rolling in reopening. Though, with the unification with Phil Cooper and Tamsin Quin as The Lost Trades, a band formed in just enough time to play a debut, Jamie and the gang are really gathering acclaim further afield. They are promised at the Gate, but again, we have to be patience; this was a teaser under certain restrictions. A band, a late night outside may not be feasible for this humbling pub, yet, but time will tell.

Here then, was a lovely teaser afternoon, and proof above all media hype surrounding this ease of restrictions, that it can be done sensibly and responsibly, and the Southgate is on top of the movement towards normality; when it does, it’ll be something wonderful. Has lockdown made us appreciate the simpler things in life we once took for granted? Not really, it’s always been this good.


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The State of the Thing: Post Lockdown Devizine and How We Can Help

Optimistic afternoon, the first time in months I’ve been adding events to our event calendar, rather than deleting them. Halfway through I paused to wonder if it was all too premature, then the update broke that restrictions are being eased further to allow outdoor sports and entertainment events.

It has been the most the bizarre time for us all, perhaps something our younger generation will tell their grandchildren about years from now. Pretty imprudent, I offer, but often comparable with a war, the ending of this pandemic lockdown will certainly not be as we imagined at first, a VE-Day styled celebration where we’re all hugging and jumping all over each other. Rather, it will be a gradual return to normality. Maybe there’s certain parts of normality which we’d rather see the back of, a return of traffic jams, road accidents, environmentally unsound practices, and general aggravation. But we will welcome back sociability; the chance to see relatives and loved ones again, as well as the simple things we once took for granted, like popping down the pub and catching a live band!

It is also understandable some feel uneasy about venturing out after being locked down for so long, if they’ve not been out much, I can appreciate some may feel like a squirrel at the end of its hibernation period, poking it’s head from its nest to check it’s safe. I find this notion the hardest to digest, as someone who has worked throughout the lockdown, harder than before I might add, I can only imagine what those permanently confined to their homes must feel like. All I will say is, take heed of the precautions, but really, it’s not some frozen-over wasteland outside, everything is pretty much the same as it once was. Of course, it is up to you to decide when the time is right to emerge back into the real world, but the time is near; defo!

I have been quiet about all this for a while, because, I, for once, was lost for words. I’ve been indifferent about all the decisions regarding lockdown, with mixed opinions. Do I think the government has had an easy task? Of course not, but during your stay in parliament one has to accept a catastrophe is possible. It’s no good having a government only dedicated to one agenda, as while they were wallowing in triumph, “getting Brexit done,” whatever the fuck that’s supposed to mean, they overlooked and ignored this looming threat.

Do I think they handled it far too late? Of course, I do. Yet we only have to look at Sweden to see it was necessary to lockdown, we can speculate it has saved lives, but we will never be fully sure. I’m not here to get political, despite the priority of this government is economy over the welfare of the masses, and it is dedicated only to large corporations, rather than the small businesses and employees.

It has, on the other hand recently offered something in the way of compensation for financial losses, I only fear promises are not something they’re particularly good at, and even if they do happen, they’ll be geared to supporting only the bigger businesses. Then, on a more optimistic day, I tend to feel, well, that’s democracy for you; the majority picked these clowns, we’ve no choice but to give them the benefit of the doubt. Right now, I’m so pissed off with lockdown, as I think we all are, whether we broke the rules to go to the beach, or if we abided to them and scorned at those who did, that I’m willing to accept any lessening of restrictions. We all need to get over it, and consider it history. If a second wave comes our way, least we will be more prepared, but it’s no use the squirrel hiding in his nest all spring, as it’d die anyway.

Anyhoo, I’m thinking about Devizine, this week, about how we can help to restore this normality. Updating the event calendar will take time. I urge you to use it to plan your celebratory reunification, but you should note, many events have remained on it, I didn’t delete future events in anticipation of the end of lockdown, but still many listed may have been cancelled or rescheduled. You should check the links and enquire direct to the organisers to check if it’s still going ahead before you head out.

I will gradually go through them to check, but I’ve got a workload now dumped on my desk. Getting the event calendar back up to its once, comprehensive standard will take time. I urge event organisers to help me to help them. DO check through the calendar and let me know if you spot an event which is listed but has been cancelled. DO contact me to let me know of your events asap, so we can add them. I will waiver all fees for advertising for the next two months, so if you’ve a poster please send me a jpeg of it too. I want to do whatever I can to support our events, organisers and performers, you only need to let me know how.

I do hope live streams will continue. They add another element to presenting talents, and are universal too. Our virtual festival lost track, but I will share them on Facebook, and I will add them into the main event calendar from now on.

I do hope our writers will return, to review and provide content. Prior to lockdown I had a small team building, but I still need more writers to volunteer; it’s fun, honest, message me for details. The more writers and photographers the wider and more comprehensive we can be, the better our product, the more we can grow, then profit may come our way. But this has never been my priority, as I said, I’ll waiver advertising fees for a period, but I still require about £50 by February to keep the site running, so any donations would be appreciated. I confess, I emptied the entire Devizine fund, and spent much from my own pocket, buying local music via Bandcamp, to support them as best I could during this terrible time for their livelihoods.

So, I ask you for your patience, to get Devizine up and running again, I ask for your support, and I ask for you to provide me with your information so we can promote your happenings as best we can. You can message the site, message the Facebook page, Tweet me, email devizine@hotmail.com or join our Facebook group, The Devizine Communications Group, to let me know. If I do not respond, rest assured I’m not ignoring you, I just need another nudge to remind me!

For the best part though, I’m looking forward to getting out and about once again, meeting with friends, and I thoroughly wish all the landlords, event organisers and our performers all the very best for the future in these trying times. Hopefully, today we see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Town Council Making Marlborough High Street a Safer Place

At the Full Town Council meeting on 29 June 2020, Town Councillors made a decision, under a new scheme, to pass on to Wiltshire Council its support for the temporary widening of pavements in the High Street to make it a safer environment for residents and shoppers. Under new legislation announced last week which streamlines relevant licensing processes, this would also enable cafés, pubs and restaurants to serve customers outside. Bus stops, disabled parking spaces and the taxi rank will not be affected. Our Councillors also took a decision to use an annual parking allocation to offer some free parking to help compensate for the temporary removal of the 30 minutes free parking on the north and south sides of the High Street as well as looking at a future initiative to work with businesses to offer shoppers refunds for their first hours parking.

The reasoning behind this is twofold – to encourage people back to a High Street where they feel confident and safe and to kick start the local economy. The Town Council has been approached by some in the hospitality sector with fears about not being able to offer customers any service within their premises (in fact, some in this sector have already taken the difficult decision not to re-open in Marlborough at all). Others have expressed concerns about pinch points where queuing outside shops, banks and various businesses could not be properly organised especially where the pavement is very narrow.

The Re-opening of the High Street Safely Scheme is an initiative being offered to towns across the county and already being taken up in some (e.g. Malmesbury) and funded via the European Regional Development Fund. The Town Council’s agreement to pavement widening has been passed on to Wiltshire Council (the scheme administrators) where professional Highways teams will look at its technical viability before a decision is made by a WC Steering Group which is considering similar requests from other towns. Any measures agreed will not be permanent, will be monitored and can be changed if they are not working well.

The Town Council has, under the same scheme, asked that hand sanitizer stations are placed at intervals along the pavement and for signage indicating that it’s business as usual in our safe High Street.

Ahead of agreeing to support this, Councillors held two meetings with representatives from the High Street and also canvassed some businesses about the scheme. At one meeting, a WC officer dealing with Wiltshire’s economic recovery explained the opportunities and

restrictions offered by the scheme and confirmed that she will be working with Marlborough over the next couple of years to invigorate the local economy.

Our Town Mayor, Cllr Mark Cooper, said: “We mustn’t forget that whilst we welcome the lifting of restrictions, the government and medical experts are clear that the pandemic is still with us and will be for some time to come. The Town Council welcomes measures to keep its residents and visitors safe and amongst all of this, we are also trying to ensure that our businesses can find their feet again after months of being faced with uncertain futures.”

Ultimately, of course, the final decision on the scheme rests with Wiltshire Council.

For more information contact:

Mrs Shelley Parker, Town Clerk at townclerk@marlborough-tc.gov.uk

Marlborough Town Council, 5, High Street, Marlborough, SN8 1AA – Tel – 01672 512487 or 07931 996632

Email – townclerk@marlborough-tc.gov.uk
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The Unforgettable Film Scores of Ennio Morricone

Ever seen those videos where some clever-clogs takes out the music to a film clip and it immediately loses all clout? It makes one realise how dependant the film is to the music, how, without it, there’s hardly any emotion, and in turn is symbolic of how music can emotionally move us.

None so much when evoking emotions such as fear or suspense, when the creepy music starts you’re edging on the sofa, feeling for the protagonist, you are beside the sacred little girl in the haunted house, or the cop seeking out the hiding villain in the disused warehouse, dreading what might be around the next corner. Take the film score out and you’d be like, yeah, whatever.

Saddened then to hear of the passing of Ennio Morricone yesterday, the Italian composer and conductor, best known for his work on Sergio Leone’s great westerns, The Dollar Trilogy. Though the films this prolific composer scored the music for are too many to name. Born in 1928 in Trastevere, Rome, when Italy was under fascist rule, Ennio’s father was a professional trumpet player and consequently, was the first instrument the young Ennio picked up. At just six he began writing his first compositions.

By the early 1950s he was composing pieces for radio plays, incorporating American influences, and also playing jazz and pop for the Italian broadcasting service, RAI. From Paul Anka to the Pet Shop Boys he has orchestrated many a pop song, but Ennio’s first love was film scores. After several, his association with Sergio Leone begun in 1964. Hard to imagine now he created those masterpieces of grandeur and suspense with a limited orchestra, the budget wouldn’t stretch to a full one. He used effects such as gunshots and cracking whips, and the new Fender electric guitar. Yet they will never be forgotten, and his work here expanded the possibilities and paved the way for progressive techniques in film scores.

Spaghetti Westerns would never be the same again, but neither would the benchmark for all film scores. Yet Ennio never left Italy, and never learned English, but still went onto working with hundreds of directors, including John Boorman, John Huston, Terrence Malick and Roland Joffé, even Roman Polanski and Quentin Tarantino.

 

 

 

NervEndings For The People

More clout than Ocean Colour Scene I’d expected after hearing frontman Mike Barham’s prior thrashing solo releases and drummer Luke Bartels previous band, but more roaring blues than Reef was an angle I didn’t see coming when I first checked our local purveyors of loud, NervEndings.

We’re countless gigs in now, the band, with bassist and secondary vocalist Rob McKelvey, still tight and raucous. I’m glad there’s a six-track album doing the rounds on the streaming sites, as by way of a meanderingly drunken tête-à-tête with Luke down the Gate, an album in the pipeline was one of the random topics breezed over, but so was the debatable aggression levels between Welsh and English badgers too, so I only held hope it’d see the light!

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“For The People”they’re calling it, then, out last week. It’s got the kick I now predicted, with that surprising blues element to boot, particularly in the opening track, Infectious Groove. Yet the Muddy Puddles single we’ve reviewed in the past follows, and sets the ball really rolling; it takes no prisoners, yet, for its catchiness, contains a slither of something very sixties; imagine pre-Zeppelin metal.

Emo, to audaciously use an unfamiliar genre, I’d best describe Colour Blind; smoother, drifting indie rock. And in that, Fighting Medicine is more as I’d supposed, guitar riff rocking like a driving song and Mike’s brainy lyrics, with added profanity to describe the drunken hooligan spoiling for a rumble. You know the bloke, there’s always one.

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With themes of non-pretentious indie, Chin up continues this ethos, forget the attempts to conform to expectances, it’s a be-yourself song. Best, in my humble opinion, though, is Dark Dance; as it says on the tin, teetering on crashing punk, it’s upbeat and danceable, in a throwing-your-head mosh-pit kind of way, which isn’t my way, usually, but it reaches a bridge of mellow romance-themed splendour. Here’s Jimi Hendrix covering Blur’s Song Two, as the blues is retained in all these contemporary rock tunes, and for a dude indifferent to the cliché indie sound, it works on my level too.

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Nicely done, and, double-whammy, Mike has forced upon me this streaming inclination which defies all my generation stood for when collecting music. Our parents called us by name when shouting up the stairs to turn the music down, not “Alexa!” Ah, it needed to be done and I’m grateful, in a sense. “Send me a download or something,” I pleaded, “I don’t understand this Spotty-Fly thing!” But it only met with the reply, “it’s on all the streaming sites….” I’m of the generation who tried to turn over the first CD they got, to listen to the B-side, and only just got the hang of downloading. Now I’m causally informed downloading’s sooo millennial.

I dunno, all moving too fast it; seems so unphysical, not to have a record collection, rather a playlist. You can’t skin up on a Deezer playlist. At least downloading had a file, nearer, somewhat, to owning a record. But I’ve persevered and found the Spotify app on my PC more user friendly; I didn’t harass my daughter for assistance once, as I regularly do with the phone.

So, cheers, Mike. Hopefully this will help me surpass the “noob” label my son has tied to me, which, I’m told is a word for both a novice and an insult in one. Honestly, I feel like my grandad, who, when he came over once, stood staring at our new LCD television and asked, “where’s your tele?!” For the People needs to include the older people too, as I reckon many would either love it, or give this trio a ruddy good clip around the ear, which is maybe what they deserve for being so damn good; they’d have me talking emoji next.


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Jon Amor is Cooking

Last time I saw Jon Amor he was queuing for Sainsburys. Sign of the times I suppose, would’ve much preferred to say we were in a pub or hall, and Jon was doing his thing. Capers, was what, he explained, he went in for. Those Mediterranean pickled berries, I figured; Jon is as epicure with his tucker as he is with his music. A new single, Peppercorn, expands the hypothesis; he’s cooking alright.

A contemporary blues performer with an established diverse repertoire, I was surprised upon reviewing his 2018 album, Colour in the Sky, of a distinctive and quirky fashion akin to late-seventies pop-rock in the more beguiling tracks; a drainpipe-suited Elvis Costello, of type, and songs as good to match. I’m thinking of the tracks Red Telephone and Illuminous Girl in particular, they don’t follow the archetypical modern bluesman manner, they’re upbeat, zany and define a certain panache emerging with Jon. I’m pleased to say Peppercorn doesn’t just correspond with this notion, but expands upon it.

Accompanied by video of crazy antics around his home, presumably recorded over his many entertaining lockdown live streams, with not only a rather perfected Ministry of Silly Walks tribute in snappy blue winkle-pickers, but an amusing puppet sequence to scream Sledgehammer at you. This is a quirky, catchy little tongue-in-cheek number. From Shanks & Bigfoot’s Sweet Like Chocolate to, more appropriately, The Soul Leaders’ boss reggae classic, Pour on the Sauce, food innuendo is no new thing in music; Louis Jordan nailed it in the thirties. Still with his demarcated and inimitable stylishness, here’s Jon’s own take on it.

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With a little slide-guitar intro, after thirty seconds it’s having it; immediately enticing and definingly why Jon Amor sets the local live music bar high. Though he is, the hybrid between man-about-Devizes-town and blues legend. At a quid from Bandcamp, this shiny example of why is a winning dish.


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Wiltshire is not Due a second Lockdown

“It’s easier to fool people than convince them that they have been fooled,” Mark Twain.

Brilliant quote, you best believe it. Here’s the ha-ha irony, I fooled you. There are no sources of information to prove where or when the well-documented author Mark Twain allegedly said this. At least, according to snopes.com. Unless they’ve fooled me of course, which is possible. Nevertheless, it’s a great saying, and as we’re locked up, we rely on the honesty of incoming information from our media.

But the mainstream media is under pressure, they are a business in an everchanging market where nothing is cut and dry. Speed and efficiency are key, it takes far longer to research, write, fact check, edit, produce, publish and distribute then it does to add a wonky opinion on social media, their ultimate competition. Because of this then, I forgive the certain local newspapers, and any other news sources who reported Wiltshire is due another lockdown, maybe they jumped the gun on this, or maybe, there’s a dying need to raise stats. We are in the same boat, please share this click-bait article!

Expressed as a percentage, yes, the R-rate in Wiltshire has risen, and caused our county to be added to a list for a potential second lockdown, but as reporter Dan O’Brien points out on Twitter, context is everything. Lab-confirmed cases went up from just one to four, a drop in the ocean compared to other listed areas. If this is bullshit, if this is a mistake or oversight, or even if it’s clickbait, it is dangerously wrong information with no consequence other than scaremongering.

Example, in the flowing social media comments in response to it I’ve already seen one suggest “it hasn’t helped with people rioting and trips to the beach.” Because, yes, one cannot deny the coastline of landlocked Wiltshire has been densely overpopulated with barmy beach nuts this drizzly week, and oh, we cannot forget the terrible race riots of Urchfont and Chirton, when the streets were amassed with rampaging village immigrants.

“For crying out loud, put the face mask over your nose and mouth, not your eyes and ears!”

Lockdown rules have become the new etiquette, and habit now. No one is suggesting we don’t need to take precautions, heed social distancing and the higher your risk the more important you continue as best you can to abide to the lockdown rules. But we need to be wary also, of new reports either rushed or bias, we need to understand if someone tells us it’s vital for our nails to be pedicured during lockdown, they’re most probably a nailologist desperate to reboot their business, and I feel for them, I really do. Yet a government with external business dealing doing likewise, feeding the masses false information to benefit their investments is unacceptable. Not only should they have a responsibility to the people they govern, the tax-payer forking out for their wages, their luncheons and newly painted aeroplanes, but they have sway over a vast amount of media. Here, we can see the media were wrong and the in my opinion, can only be scaremongering.

Wiltshire artist Si Griffiths is off out, with the right idea!

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, the good folk of Wiltshire, by comparison, have been nothing short of brilliant in reacting to this terrible pandemic, and we should be proud of that. You do need to talk to people from other places to see the difference it has. I have spoken to many who live in the coastal towns and they say the same complaint, “you wouldn’t believe what I’m seeing here.” Of course, reasons why we’ve done so well is a whole other debate, there’s our mostly rural population, our affluence and our good values and education, but most of all I put it down to, in most part, simply being sensible and abiding by the rules.

Yep, teenagers, they say, yep, I know right, yet aren’t we all getting tetchy to get out and restart our lives? Don’t blame the youth, I’ve seen pensioners secretly nipping out for walks at night, I’ve seen middle-aged shoppers blatantly ignoring social distancing measures, and, in turn I’ve seen younger people obeying and even volunteering to help. Idiots come in all shapes, sizes and ages; You. Know. This. Best we can do, is continue for a little longer, and not use our media to seek someone to blame.

George’s Postcard, from a Motorway

If Devizine is a voyage of discovering artists new to us, ones who pop up time and time again do so because they’re both more than worthy and have become friends. A nice Friday spent watching Phil, Tammy and Jamie live stream from a garden, as The Lost Trades debuted lockdown set in, and well, a video helps in some small way to shield the fact we miss them, miss them all.

George Wilding isn’t one for a live stream, least if he has it was a covert operation. A new single though, I’ve been meaning to mention, Postcards from a Motorway. Postcards being apt, perhaps, while most of us would send a text, George is quaintly old-fashioned. But it’s a fashion which fits, drawing out a mobile phone a decade out of date, his “that’ll do,” ethos inclusive, except with his music. For while archaic style from a bygone youth culture, his music transcends the borders, is unique and refined to exceptional standard.

Here’s the sort of poetically balanced, orchestrated masterpiece we’ve come to expect from George. It’s silky Velvet Underground, arty and nonchalant, drifting through mummers and shards of thought, and entirely, it’s beautiful. It’s as wildly romantic as Tchaikovsky On The Tambourine, sombre as My Backwards Head, as he acoustically cries of paper walls, perpetual drunkenness, pondering without motive, and rambles from winds to lines swearing about the president.

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Feels as if George has pumped as much in as he can with this, but rather than overloaded, it rolls in manner only the greats could accomplish. Example, remember first hearing Springsteen’s Philadelphia? To have seen the plan written you may’ve said whoa! But when that synth drumbeat kicks in, it only assists the ambiance. Yeah, experimental is Postcards from a Motorway, a minute and half in and there’s a clonk of drumbeat, but with married to the subtle piano, and simple acoustic guitar loop, it remains unmistakably George Wilding.

Rather late to publish some words on it, of which I apologise to George, who celebrated 12.3k Spotify streams and 12 playlist features with it this week. I’m posting it here, if you’re not one of those 12.3k, as I wasn’t, because I’m afraid of spotty-fly; old fashioned just like you George, see! Or just plain old. Though when I pointed this out, his response was, “try YouTube,” and I was like, “oh yeah, will do.” Not much of conversation, but his music speaks a novel.

Gorgeous as ever, but only enhances my want to walk through a pub door and see him perched on a stall asking the audience what they want to hear.


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From The Specials; Neville Staple Band in Lockdown

Photos by John Coles
Artwork by Sugary Staple

If last year’s fortieth anniversary of Two-Tone Records saw an upsurge of interest in this homegrown second-generation ska, it shows no sign of flawing anytime soon. Perhaps you could attribute parallels to the social and political climate of our era, or debate intransigent devotees are reliving their youth, but I’d argue it’s simply an irresistible sound.

One thing our eighties counterparts didn’t have to contend with was the Covid19 pandemic, and musicians of every genre are reflecting on it. Ska is of no exception, we’ve seen many contemporary performers releasing new material on the subject, but here we have a legend doing his thing, topically.

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The Neville Staple Band releases this timely single, Lockdown. A dynamic modern-sounding reggae track, yet encompassing all the goodness of the Two-Tone era of yore. Understandable, original rude boy Neville Staple is conversant with this, a founder member and co-frontman of The Specials, Fun Boy Three and Special Beat. Those influences shine through here. There’s something very Fun Boy Three about this tune, with a slice of poetically-driven Linton Kwesi Johnson to its feel.

As true as the song suggests, in lockdown Dr Neville Staple has teamed up with wife Sugary Staple, to pump out this relevant single, commonly reflecting on the feeling of many concerning the virus and staying safe. “Sugary came up with the idea to write a song about the lockdown,” Neville explains, “which, at first, was a very fast-stomping ska track. We then realised that it was too fun and happy a tune for the theme. Most of us have been quite down about the whole virus thing, so we decided to take it on a more sweet but moody 2Tone reggae route, in a similar vein to ‘Ghost Town’, with some music we had worked on previously with Sledge [Steve Armstrong.]”

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While I detect echoes of Ghost Town, this tune also breathes originality and present-day freshness, confirming progression of the genre rather than a frequently supposed nostalgia. Being a local site, some may recall his visit to Melksham’s ParkFest last year, where an unfortunately damp evening didn’t stop the revelling, and Neville stole the show with an assortment of Two-Tone classics. I was backstage with the wonderful support band Train to Skaville. A chance meeting with Neville, when he popped out of his tent for pizza, humourlessly failed to engage long enough to explain who I was, and ended with him pointing at his pizza-box and saying “yeah, I’m going off to eat this.” I should’ve known better than to harass a legend when their pizza is chilling in drizzle! I nodded my approval, knowing I’d have done the same thing.

Neville was awarded an honorary doctorate from Arden University last year. With a tour, and so many international shows and festivals postponed, the couple decided to do a lot of extra charity work as well as new song writing. DJ recordings for people sick in hospitals or in isolation, personally dedicated to them, was just the start. Sugary and Neville wanted to highlight the work of Zoe’s Place, a charity run for terminally ill babies and toddlers. As ambassadors for this charity, Sugary expressed, “charities like these really do suffer at a time like this, as the focus is on other things. But the work they do at Zoe’s Place is like one of a kind and so very special. They step in when families really do need the support, providing 24-hour high quality, one-to-one palliative, respite and end-of-life care for children aged 0-5 years. A heart-breaking time for anyone involved. We must not lose a charity like this – it is too important and so we will be supporting this, along with other charities we are patrons or ambassadors to, with this single.” And the duo dedicates this song to all those who have been affected by Covid-19.

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Shared to our Boot Boy Radio DJs, you can expect we will be spinning in for the foreseeable future, but you can get it here:

7″ vinyl order https://bit.ly/2NeeoUA

Spotify https://open.spotify.com/album/1s2wuLNQ3q4wsvq7tOUfVh

iTunes https://music.apple.com/gb/album/lockdown-single/1515072018

Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Lockdown/dp/B0894K4G1Q


SPECIAL NOTICE – FROM THE SPECIALS, NEVILLE STAPLE & SUGARY:

A MESSAGE TO YOU..! The Legendary Neville Staple (Dr), Sugary Staple & the Band, need your help please.

Can you wonderful people please donate just £3 towards this project (which will also get you 2 signed exclusives pics), or any random amount, or check out the mega exclusive vinyl 45 & CD gift set offers (these are going really well, and are extremely rare limited edition items, so grab them while you can). You just click this link and choose your reward, to then register your donation.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/fromthespecials/lockdown-ska-2020-from-the-specials-neville-staple-and-sugary/   


If you like a bit of ska and reggae, catch me on www.bootboyradio.co.uk Fridays from 10pm GMT till midnight!

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A Cracked Machine at the Gates of Keras

Don my headphones, chillax with a cider, and prepare my eardrums for a new album from our local purveyors of space-rock goodness; Cracked Machine is a wild ride….

There are few occasions when mellowed music truly suspends me in the moment, when it just exists in the air like oxygen and totally incarcerates and engulfs my psyche. Jah Shaka and ambient house rascals the Orb both achieved this a couple of dusks at Glastonbury, but the same with likewise happenings, I confess I was intoxicated on matter maturity caused me to long leave in my past!

The issue for any reborn psychedelic-head is pondering the notion, will it ever be the same again, will music and art tease my perception to quite the same degree. The sorry answer is no, unless your intransigent mate slips something in your drink. Yet it’s not all despair, with a sound as rich and absorbing as Cracked Machine, it’s doable without drugtaking shenanigans.

They proved this at the most fantastic day in Devizes last year, which was that bit more fantastic, when what was intended to be a bolt-on feature became the highlight of DOCA’s Street Festival. Funded and arranged by Pete and Jacki of Vinyl Realm, the second stage highlighted everything positive about local music; a historic occasion we’ll be harking on for some time yet. I nipped away briefly after Daydream Runaways stole the early part of the day. But where the lively indie-pop newcomers had roused the audience, I returned to witness a hypnotised crowd and a mesmerising ambience distilling the blistering summer air. Smalltalk was numbed, as if the area was suspended in time. A doubletake to confirm we were still perpendicular, sitting in deckchairs or slouching against a wall on the corner of Long Street and St Johns and not slipped through a time vortex to a Hawkwind set at a 1970 free-party love-in. I was beyond mesmerised, but not surprised.

For this is how it was with their impressive 2017 debut album, I, Cosmonaut, the soundscapes just drifted through me, as I causally drafted the review, reminding me of a smoky haze of yore, giggling in a mate’s bedroom, listening to Hawkwind’s Masters of Universe. Youth of my era though, were subjected to electronic transformation in music, which would soon engulf us. Rave culture cut our space-rock honeymoon short, though, Spaceman 3 were a precursor to the ambient house movement of the Orb, Aphex Twin and KLF, others changed their style, like Frome’s Ozric Tentacles merging into Eat Static, and a perpetually changing line-up for Hawkwind appeased the older rock diehards.

I love I, Cosmonaut, it manages to subtly borrow from electronica and trance, only enough to make it contemporary, but keep it from being classed as anything else other than space-rock. I felt their second album, The Call of the Void avoided this slice of Tangerine Dream, and submerged itself totally in the hard rock edge; bloody headbangers! Therefore, it’s a refreshing notion to note newly released Gates of Keras bonds the two albums and sits between them perfectly.

Again, there’s little to scrutinise as it rarely changes, it meanders, trundles me to a world beyond wordplay, as these completely instrumental tracks roll into one another, gorgeously. A Deep Purple styled heavy bass guitar may kick it off, yet the opening track Cold Iron Light takes me to the flipside of Floyd’s Meddle, with seven and half minutes of crashing drums and rolling guitar riffs. Temple of Zaum continues on theme, Ozrics-inspired funkier bassline, and we’re off on the drifting journey, splicing subtle influences. The Woods Demon, for example, stands out for particularly smooth almost Latino guitar riff, making it my personal fave. Yet Move 37 is heavier, upbeat, like the second album. Low Winter Sun is sublime blues-inspired, imagine Led Zeppelin created Satisfaction rather than the Stones, if you will.

Recorded back in November, this is eight lengthy soundscapes of pure bliss, and will guarantee you a safe trip. A signature album for a lonely lockdown of dark, yet emersed in a time of Tolkien-esque vibes and mandelbrot set fractal posters. If this was released in the mid-seventies-to early-eighties every spotty teenager would be inking their army surplus school bag with a biro-version of Cracked Machine’s logo. As it is, age taking its toll and all, I have no idea if this still happens, but doubt it. None of that matters, here is a matured era of the genre, only with a glimpse of how it once was. Nicely done.