Its 7.20 Thursday, I have to go out of the door to visit my brother, who is disabled and is alone today, so I have NO TIME! It flies past, doesn't it. However, I will assemble my thoughts without further ado, and I am starting right off with a great record which I am pleased I can provide a link for at the bottom of this blog. The danger being, you will realise how great it is, and will go straight to the bottom of the page, but I'll just have to take the risk.
The record - and it is as exciting a record as I have ever heard - as exciting as Homer Banks, or James Brown, or anything you could possibly think of, is Hold On by Sharon Tandy. I don't know how I hadn't heard it for years until fairly recently. I just think, it is fantastic. From 1966, too? Good grief. It is an incredible record. I reckon, if you are feeling a bit miserable, and you put this through your hi fi speakers up quite loud, it will blow the bluesy cobwebs away and, alter your life!! In fact, I believe this for myself and I am being hassled to get out of the door, but I would rather like to blast it out right this second. See what you think. and, you know, if you are an alternative kid listening to some stuff that isn't setting your spirit truly on fire and changing your world, well here is your chance. Just listen to it.
So who is Sharon Tandy, and how come she is not very well known? Of course if you are a mod, you will know her, and the track. Apparently she came from South Africa to this country in 1964 in search of an elusive hit record and stardom. My info on ST is from Wiki and she is new to me, apart from the Great Record.
Actually, since I wrote the first paragraph, I have had a few drinks, as usual on a Thursday, with Laura 'just like nan' Lemon, my mother. Tonight, I find myself metaphorically covered in bruises, as earlier on there was a terrible smell in the bar (you've guessed already),a sort of stale fish smell. It did seem to be coming from somewhere close, and I made the mistake of sniffing my mother. Probably, it was a gruesome remnant of something coming from the kitchen, a roux made half an hour earlier, perhaps, the odour wafting mercilessly through to the usual small coterie of alcoholics inhabiting the bar at 1.am.Thinking no more of it, on driving my mother home I noticed the odour again, and stopped the car to have a proper sniff of mother. By this stage, I had admitted to her that the smell could in fact be coming from me, to which she replied that "pigs can't smell their own ****". That's the last bottle of Chanel Platinum Egoiste I'm buying. And until more albums and downloads are sold, it will be the last I will be able to afford. It was with some delight earlier in the evening that I reflected on the possibility that, since the shoes I am wearing are 45 years old, somebody might have died in them. When did you say you were coming round? PS I have just the other day found a sports shop near here, I look in there for the odd polo top or whatever, and look at the shoes. To my amazement, I found several pairs of 1966 style replica mod shoes , in the sale. Very simple, a nice shape. A bit like my wife.
No, I mean actually I don't know a thing about Sharon Tandy. Except that she was on Stax for a while, and apparently recorded a number of records with Les Fleur De Lys. I am looking forward to hearing these- she has a fair discography. I just hope some of her other stuff is as good as the magnificent 'Hold On'. Exciting to investigate further. And what about Homer Banks? I found out my favourite track on a northern soul comp was by the good man. Then, there was another absolute blinder I was enjoying the most on another northern soul comp- who was it by? HB. So hopefully more on him as I listen and learn.
This week, I have been chatting with future star Darron Connett, who has starred with his band Connett in an exciting video, which shows why they deserve to be really successful. I had heard the track before, Mademoiselle, and liked it well enough, however it took the video, with its visual language and communication, to really drive the point home what a great thing they have going.
ML - I have to tell you, I got goosebumps watching that video of Mademoiselle you did at PWs studio. The vibe is right, the band looks great and also the sound is really good. Is this a new recording of it with the video?
DC - The song was recorded at Black Barn in the Autumn'09, then we recorded the video at Delta Sound. It was directed by Andrew Jenner who captured the band just right. We're very pleased with the way the song turned out with Charles Rees at the controls, as I thought he done a blinder on 22 Dreams. We're grateful to Paul (Weller) for giving us the chance and opportunity to record at Black Barn. We just want to do the duet now...sorted.
ML - And obviously you have to have great musicians to make a great record...it sounds like theres a good chemistry in the band.
DC - That goes without saying, I'm Darron J Connett, The band are Connett... we are one!
ML - So what is on the immediate agenda for the band?
DC - We're rehersing a completely new set of eight new songs, ready to hit the road - March 6th in Denmark Street, London. We're also recording new songs very soon, we just want to throw the net out and catch a big fish, or better still someone should throw a net out and catch the biggest fish in the pond and release us into the sea. We're a very hungry and determined bunch, and although the music industry's fucked that makes us more eager to succeed regardless.
ML - Right, good. It all sounds dead positive. What are your favourite records from the mid 1960s, and do you have a record player? Silly question I expect.
DC - First of all yes, I have a record player, and a nice little collection of vinyl, but I'm not anal about music. If it's out there then I'm happy whatever the format. It's a personal choice really, and as long as real music is still being produced thats all right by me, because the way things are going, that's all done and dusted.
Within the next twenty years, I look at the charts sometimes and fucking wanna cry. Completely souless bollocks. I think thats because of the game consoles that kids and fat blokes with no friends or partners play on 24/7, Where's their sound track to their life eh? Who will be their Elvis, James Brown, Beatles, etc. Jedwood by the looks of things, and thats a real shame man. Glen (guitar), Danny (drums), Laurence (bass), Don't even own T.V's fair play to them, Wish I could say the same but how would I watch porn ;-)
Oh and as for my favourite mid sixties song - impossible to say 'cause I love everything from the Beatles to the Love Affair. I love Scott Walker, stuff no one's heard of, Vashti Bunyan quit nice in the mornings. There is so much great music out there, and I'm finding new stuff everyday, old and new, and I hope that continues because music to me is the highest art form.
Village Green Machine- well, this week I layed down a load more stuff on a new song called Sartorial Of England, which is psychedelia done in waltz timing, a bit Revolver, a bit Syd, a bit 'We Love You' era Stones, perhaps. Direct onto tape, through all the valves. There's a touch of Tales Of The Unexpected in the keyboards, done on my 1965/6 Farfisa organ. Its a song about mod dressing, about dandification. I used to bait the locals around here, by dressing up a bit more every time I went to the local. They used to stop drinking and talking when I walked in. My friend Steve Gridley used to worry I wouldn't make it back alive from the toilet. All I was wearing was a pink button down, a paisley tie and a jumbo corduroy jacket, like Brian Jones's, for goodness sake. The one Simon Fowler used to admire. At least I think it was the jacket...where were we....on the subject of OCS, my favourite record by them is Free My Name. I saw them several times live before they took off, and was acquainted with Simon, as he shared a flat with Daniel Rachel, whose band I played in for a while when I was first starting out, in the 90s. Daniel, a talented songwriter and guitarist, had been sharing a house with Simon and Steve and maybe other members of OCS, and told me it hadn't worked out, however he and Simon then rented a flat in Moseley. It was a nice Victorian house, I remember looking at a sheet of Simon's lyrics, with the right slanted handwriting and wondering, if OCS would be a big band and imagined nicking the paper. I remember all sorts of details. Like Simon rolling in very wrecked one night. I'll shut up here. But yeah, I knew him, although there was an invisible wall up there between us. PS there were issues which I wont go into, apart from to say that, I think there was an exclusion zone in as much as, people are drawn like a moth to a flame to an impending success story, and the aura of impending success was all around them. Also when you are wrecked maybe you don't feel like talking. However, he did ask me about my songwriting, how I rounded off the choruses on songs. He seemed to like that, and Daniel said he was surprised I didn't know Simon thought I was a fantastic bass player. I went to a party with Daniel where Simon was sat on the floor singing and playing acoustic, a song from the White album I think. I asked him if he could play "Blackbird", and he humbly replied that he could not - and neither could I. Steve and I exchanged greetings, he was shaking maracas and getting into a groove. I also remember that night, Simon was on a child's swing in the back garden in the dark, with Steve standing on it, pushing it harder and higher, and Simon saying "I don't like this, I don't like this at all". As I remember there was a glass greenhouse nearby. Also the band rehearsed at Bob Lamb's in Kings Heath. There were dozens of empty Jack Daniels bottles on a shelf there in that back room with the pool table - does anyone remember this ,lol - and I asked Bob whose they were and he said they were OCS's. He called them the 'Colour Scenies' and said something about a handfull... I also remember an incident when some guitars were left at the Jug Of Ale, and according to Daniel some girls had made off with them in a taxi, but the taxi driver had said, he wouldn't go anywhere until the guitars were taken back to The Jug. Daniel told me this, and it seemed incredible the taxi driver had sussed what was happening and intervened. Daniel thought this could be bad news for the girls, as Oscar was quite rightly considered not someone to mess with. One conversation I remember with Simon was, on the subject of writing, I asked him what made good writing and he said, it is about making people feel something. He then passed a remark about the inevitability of certain people becoming friends, and I thought it was a reference to me. At that point however I left Daniel's band, and apart from a brief meeting, have had no further contact. I mistook Simon for someone else at a mod do a few years ago, but I know it was he. I hadn't seen him for a few years and didn't want to make a fool of myself, so I struck the angle that I wasn't sure if it was Simon. I wasn't, 100%, but in retrospect I am sure it was, and by the way thanks for coming over. I will say this actually. There was a gig early on at Birmingham's Jug Of Ale, I asked Daniel if he could ask Simon to get me in as I was broke and Daniel told me Simon had paid for me to get in. Back in those distant days, according to Daniel, Simon had had to flog some of his record collection to get back to Brum for the gig. Also I asked Daniel what sort of person Simon was, and he said he was a really decent bloke. Another time I was stopping at he and Daniel's flat, Daniel had gone to bed and S and I were up watching Beat club videos, I remember The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown with the video to "Fire" with its distant then close up flashing images of the terrifying Arthur Brown, completely doing my head in as clashing relaxants...yeah.:) I had actually offended him earlier, as I remember I said I didn't like the Marx brothers. This went unchallenged but later I said I didn't like the Bee Gees, and Simon flew at me "could you do any better?".
Ocean Colour Scene
No. Simon, can you? :) I now regard them as the real artistic competition to The Beatles, Odessa in particular being a special album for me. I have an original copy in its moth eaten velvet sleeve. I remember OCS early on playing in Digbeth, it was an enjoyable Roses era gig. Then at the Irish Centre, apparently they had the Pet Shop Boys sound man so I was told, this was around the time of the first album. I wasn't knocked out by the live sound at that point.There was, however, a vibe around the band.Then, the Indie Dance era was flattened by grunge, but I think this was the point at which Steve Craddock began to play in Paul Weller's band. I met Simon at the Retort alternative cabaret, I was in the front row for an acoustic set, when Simon had a harmonica slung around his neck. He told me they had been offered a deal with MCA, but that they hadn't had the contract examined at that point. However, it was pretty obvious things were once again moving for them, after earlier disappointments. Fontana, was it? I won't go there. And an early, anonymous sounding debut album. Posh production, but no one really turned onto them until they recorded themselves on a tape, a fairly primitive set up but a good sound for that breakthrough album. One of the reasons Village Green Machine is a tape thing. The last time I saw the band before they took off was at a small student venue in Selly Oak in Brum. They looked great, a classic 4 piece British rock & roll band, reminded me of early Who, visually. I noticed a big improvement in songwriting, they were very much in the Moseley Shoals era. Simon agreed with me that Steve's playing had benefited from his involvement with Weller. He was worried about his voice in as much as he had been pushing it a bit hard. There was a mod element in the audience. And, a bigger audience. Riverboat song and Chris Evans were about to happen...
I haven't told the whole story, but I have told all that which I wish to tell. :) End of story. I hope this is interesting.