Last week, I promised a review of mid 70's chart act and 40 year old English institution, Steeleye Span. The review is a little further down this blog.
I have to tell you, it is a wonder the review, or indeed this blog are appearing at all, as on the way to Birmingham Town Hall, while driving at 40 mph I looked up and noticed a line of cars right in front of me. I jammed the brakes on full, stopping two feet from the back of the car in front. Women drivers, they're all the same.
Understandably a little (lot) shaken I made my way to the Paisley Arcade office to pick up my manager for the show, expecting bucketfulls of sympathy.

Mark Lemon

"Do you make a habit of driving round blind bends at 40 mph" was the sum total of the sympathy I received. He drove both of us to the show, our conversation a little tetchy as the 8.00 show start time passed. My nerves were still near to being shredded, as actually the car incident was really no joke, and I could have been seriously hurt. Still, never mind I thought, I'll have a quick drink. I had a slight disagreement with the Town Hall bar staff over the price of drinks, which concluded quickly with my remarking "no way". Further ruffled thus, I decided the best course of action would be a few moment solace in the disabled lavatory. (When I went to college, I used to find inexpressible mental relief having closed the door behind me in the disabled toilet, a space of solitude and near bliss, a safe womb like cocoon, a sterile smelless concrete casm where no human eyes could prey, no breaths nor voices be uttered, no observations made, utter heaven). The disabled loo at the Town Hall more or less faces the bar, its staff and throng of customers. I opened the door wide to enter, and a lady was sitting on the toilet, her legs spread wide apart and stomach showing. "I'm most terribly sorry" I spluttered, utterly mortified. I tried to close the door but hadn't opened it wide enough in the first place to get enough swing for the door to shut; or was it that the disabled toilet is a vacuum, thus any attempt to shut the door hastily results in some air suction matter- a sort of implosion- meaning the door wont shut. Anyway it didn't, so to my horror I realised I then had to open the door on the poor woman again in order to have another attempt at shutting it, which I did, with equally unsuccessful results. Still, anything to avoid queueing up with all those old men. Some of them can be a bit funny, you know.

So imagine my relief this evening at having only to take my mother out to the hotel bar. A few feet away from us, a couple were struggling with their luggage. My mother said, at the top of her voice- "He looks all right, but I don't think much of his wife". Then a rather overweight member of staff walked past, "What A Shame".
Still, a little later, my mother reassured me on any anxieties I may have concerning the future life of the human spirit, beyond this world, with her observation that "When you're dead, you're fucking dead". This was indeed fortuitous and calming reassurance, as I have spent most of this evening struggling with the instruction manual for my new carpet cleaner. As any friend of mine will tell you, I'm a practical kind of guy, but I read the assembly instructions for half an hour before realising the thing was already assembled.

Do you know, without my manager and engineer, I'd only be selling a few hundred downloads and a handful of hard copy albums.

Paul Weller

Still, I find myself buoyed along by my mother's other observation this evening that "either of us could be dead within the next 5 minutes", so with this this in mind let me make haste to tell you this weeks Village Green Machine news.

There isn't any.Yesterday, I stayed in bed until 6PM. I'd had a couple of Barclays, obviously I'm not up to it anymore. I fell asleep until teatime, waking up for breakfast with an horrendous headache, a condition alleviated only by my dressing up as Paul Weller, LIKE I USUALLY DO. Now I know some of you won't like this, but I asked someone I know, nothing to do with Village Green Machine, to inflict some pain upon me. Knuckles were dug deep into the tender part of my neck, it sends shivers of pleasure over me to just think of it. It was bordering on agony, I was loving it. Lo and behold, my headache evaporated as sexy endorphins coursed through my body, carrying my headache away, off, off into the mists of oblivion, its resting place being only the doorsteps of those few who have not already purchased England's Dreaming Spires, or downloaded that veritable treasure trove or some of its constituent parts. Described by Mark Lamarr as "Such A Great Album", it is available from all major download sites, and on CD from us at Also, the EP Psychodrama is available from the website shop, featuring 2 tracks exclusive to that same EP, which are "Believe In Love" and "Battling To Survive" respectively. This is a CD single as well as download. Played on R2 and R6.

Other VGM news. Really boring, but I'm getting a new head put on my snare drum over the next few days. At the moment I am itching to sort the live issue out.
Yes, the website is being completely redesigned. It is now up, being more functional and more up to date. A lot of work has been done on this. Bournville High Street with its oak timbers and red telephone boxes will be featured , this is where we live.

Also, we have been filming. A Part Of England, solo, me playing Epiphone electric.

England's Dreaming Spires

Anyway serious news is that, having gone through many recordings, we have taken notes on all production outstanding, and have begun to finish up ie complete all the songs recorded after England's Dreaming Spires. First project to complete was Shake and Shimmy, its a very brief 60s r&b blast, very rock & roll influenced with a Bo beat and Fuzztone, and I recorded the vocals on the proviso that whatever I sang would have to be kept as the final take. Not, necessarily easy as I had not sung the song, even once before. I knew the tune but the lyrics were all new, actually the timing slips behind the beat, but it sounds like my singing has moved on since the England's Dreaming Spires sessions. Phil May here I come. I have been singing to a lot of r&b. Practice wise, I mean. So, this song to me seems '65 Pretty Things meets a whole '66 psychedelic merry-go-round freakout in the middle, it is over by 2.10 if that, it is really dead exciting and dead good and I kid you not. A fab blast for the second LP. Thank God it sounds allright, with idiots like U*'s plugger telling me I- get this- need to do something original. I'm not on about Steve, my nephews mate. But this other bloke. Some bands need all the help they can get. This week we also got onto finishing another track lined up for the second album, called Have You A Wife. This is the tale about my visit to Crouch's (I kid not) 1970s style menswear traditional clothing outfitters, where the outfitter agreed with me that "yes, I had a very large......head." I left with merely a Breton cap, but almost left half a stone lighter. Anyway this experience - and my serial consumption of Are You Being Served, which I bought a boxed set of a while ago, instructed my song. Not to mention the influence of Aftermath era Rolling Stones, and a strong falsetto Tiny Tim influence.

Carry On Camping, part 2. Its really good! But the plot gets more complex in the second half. My manager will tell you, I have to have the plots of Carry On films explained to me. Its really bad! I have watched Whatever Happened To Baby Jane over 20 times, I am now finally getting the hang of it. Soon, I will tell you what happens in part 2 of COC.
I do love it, its a great film - one to store on DVD alongside your French arthouse productions.

Have just enjoyed The Black Windmill, a 1974 Michael Caine film.

Now, last thing this week, let me tell you about a fab, northern soul track I have just found. It is entitled I Want To Know, by Sugar Simone. It is just fantastic, like one of those really great records you love the very most. I've played it 5 times today. I like it as much as Brown Sugar and Telegram Sam already! I hope we can put a link to it at the bottom of this blog but if not, oh well. Its one to tell my acquaintance Dean Kavanagh about on Facebook. Do you know of him?

My other musical preoccupation this week has been, the brilliant MOJO compilation album from a few years back called Soul Of '65. It has Billy Nicholls, The Searchers singing brilliant pop/psych obscurity Popcorn Double Feature, P.P Arnold's If You Think You're Groovy, and tracks by early psychedelic- and brilliant- Status Quo, John Mayall, The Small Faces singing Get Yourself Together, The Poets, Jump and Dance by The Carnaby, in fact 20 spotless tracks. Just the best compilation ever, in fact, it should be reissued or commercially released. There seems to be a lot of obscure Pye stuff on there, just these great 45s. There's 'Circles' by Les Fleur De Lys, you are either with me or you are not on this, if not, do check these sounds out as they are above most other music,


Here's the Steeleye Span review I did for the Birmingham Post:

Steeleye Span

At the Birmingham Town Hall

A British folk music institution. Drawing on traditional folk music as a primary source, Steeleye cleverly integrated contemporary rock influences, enjoying high profile success around 1974-5. They are most wideley remembered for hits All Around My Hat, performed at the Town Hall as an encore, and Gaudete, the life changing Latin acapella number which certain audience members cried in vain for as a final encore.

Steeleye Span

Set stalwart Thomas The Rhymer was however played, with guitarist Ken Nicol accurately replicating the 70s rock guitar sound of Tim Hart who sadly is now seriously ill. Steeleye have enjoyed many fruitful lineup changes over the years, and continually adjust their ever expanding repertoire. 70s era bassist Rick Kemp was back onboard after a serious neck and shoulder injury, displaying a highly advanced, fine musicianship shared by every member, including the colourfully eccentric drummer Liam Genocke. Superlative classically trained violinist Peter Knight did not appear in his womble costume, I believe I am correct in saying the violin playing on Remember You're A Womble is his. Allegedly three members of the band appeared on TOTP dressed as the furry fiends.

It is Maddy Prior, however, who in truth remains the centrepiece of the band, despite obvious endeavours to give equal representation to the respective talents of other members. Still beautiful with long centre parted hair and flowing crimson robes, she dances like a girl. It is her clear bell like voice, however, which still magnificently identifies Steeleye most markedly.

Steeleye Span belong to a thriving underground tradition, and remain one of its most high profile purveyors.

Mark Lemon

Reading Village Green Machine's ezine. Get Yourself Together
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