This week I have been working out the guitar parts for the song Sitting In An English Cafe, one of the first songs I wrote. Most would presume this song to be Kinks influenced, it is not. I wrote it having been influenced by a book I read, which talked about Englishness in 60's music, referring specifically to The Beatles and Syd Barrett. I loved this idea, and wrote 'Cafe'. It is odd though, because it is very acoustic orientated, was written on my Fender acoustic, and is a slow/mid tempo song with, a melancholy wistful atmosphere- just like Waterloo Sunset! But, I insist, I wrote it at a time I didn't even like the Kinks. I had a tape of their greatest hits, which I didn't particularly like at the time. Daniel ------ persuaded me 'Cafe' wasn't much good, no offence Daniel but he was always a bit like this with me. Listening back to it recently I realised it is a good song, one of my best. I recorded it with 6 and 12 string acoustics bass and drums, and will add tremolo guitar and organ, should be good! It has never been done properly.
Imagine my astonishment this week when, something drew me deep into forest woodland where I came upon a tree, with the words Village Green Machine etched, some might say artfully, into the trunk. I could scarcely believe my eyes when beneath this rabid fandom graffiti was the Village Green Machine logo, a tea cup with a union jack upon. Vandals will stop at nothing these days.
Over Easter David, my manager and myself went down to London to the Le Beat Bespoke event organised by Blow Monkeys Dr Robert, a very active promoter on the good taste rock & roll scene. He does a night in London called Mousetrap playing cool 60s 45s. He has a recent LP with Blow Monkeys which has had excellent reviews.
Have a look at the 'New Untouchables' website, I think Rob is in charge of all that, call it 'sixties central'. Le Beat Bespoke it a 3 day yearly event, with wild sounds and bands in every room. I went primarily to see The Pretty Things, imo one of the greatest bands of all time who should have known much greater success commercially. Still, their reputation is strong enough to attract a good crowd 40 years down the line. Dick Taylor was on splendid form, kicking out some great rock & roll lead and psychedelic improvisation, and sounding much as he did in the 60s. No nasty modernisations, no 70s metal grafted onto his playing. No heavy distortion. Phil May is still a great singer and frontman, even if he pointedly ignored me when I spoke to him. The band was rather fleshed out though with young helpers. Whatever happened to Vivian Prince?
In the back room cool DJs spun psychedelic 45s, dancing all night long. See Emily Play mixed into My White Bicycle, stylish people with spot on clothes enjoyed it all. The event attracts mods, psychedelics, a few rockers. Outside though we attracted a nutter who followed us, one pace behind, as we went to a shop, left the shop, etc. One pace. What do you do? Most people would have hit him I suppose. Security kept him outside while we rang a taxi. Also someone else tried to start a fight with me in the street, and I began to wish I'd stayed at home. PS Some think people like this should be allowed to walk the streets. Personally, I would have them incarcerated, and forced to listen to Coldplay records for as long as 48 hours. If this didn't send them completely mad, it would be an excellent deterrent against further offence.
The next night, equilibrium restored, we watched the great Montesas. Essentially an early 60s influenced (and German) rock & roll group, they were one of the best bands I think I have ever seen. Incredible dynamics, great, funny performances, really rocking, and on came 2 dolly birds who looked like the Shangri Las in 60s air hostess dresses and hats. Indeed, they sang 'Give Him A Great Big Kiss' towards the end of the set.
I will check the band out on myspace, it was really uplifting and enjoyable, and authentic sounding rock & roll. Again, they got the guitar sounds right, and old keyboards are essential, which they had.
We also saw The Flirtations, but for some reason the otherwise excellent sound was not good, I assume due to a technical problem. I didn't stay for the whole set. There were more great sounds and dancing and great dandy displays, by the end of the event I was really getting into the whole thing. I was pleased to meet the following; Mr Eddie Piller, I got an album to him at last and we shook hands. Mr- Spider Webb from The Horrors. He had sat next to us with his small circle of friends, I rather thought they resembled the British poets of the 1930s, Spender, Auden and all those rather more than a rock & roll tribe. Mr Spider Webb was splendidly attired in a Breton top, leather jacket and black trousers, looking 'just so'. And, I thought seemed a very sorted lad, with a nice aura and no bullshit, an art school kind of thing. I like people like this who are what they are and are pleasant. Some think art and pretence are synonymous, why is this? It is inverted snobbery, that's what. I am fairly sure Dick Taylor and Phil May were art students, a book should be written about British art school bands. 'Art School Rock- from Barrett to Blur and Beyond''- there's a cool title. I also met, having immediately recognised, Bob Stanley. Of course he is in pop group St Etienne, but is also a music writer of renown, among other things apparently. I hope he enjoys England's Dreaming Spires. His ideas shaped it. Also hello to the cool dj's I met, hope you like Psychedelic Ice Cream Man, it is dare I say it a true story.
Here's to pop! For that is what I do. I got chatted up by a dolly bird, with buckles on her shoes. My Breton cap inspired her most heartfelt and grave concern, she said 'Its so bleeding hot in here, I'm surprised that you don't burn'.
I was chatted up- by a lady! That makes a pleasant change. I met a lady in the woods, but she was very strange. Varnished nails of silver, then next day her nails were pink, a bra encased her chest hair, (you do the last line) ps IT REALLY MAKES YOU THINK
Does that work? In an Alan Bennett sort of way, maybe.