Category Archives: BLOG

UNCOVERING MY TRACKS (Part #2)

Sweet, Sweet Music.

In truth, it was the cartoon more than the music that commanded my attention of The Beatles and ‘Yellow Submarine.’

I was to remain blissfully unaffected by the hype surrounding the Fab Four for many more years. Indeed, even now, I don’t quite ‘get’ them. I know that amounts to something like heresy, but while I can appreciate their later work, I still have more time for each of John, Paul, George and Ringo’s solo efforts than that they produced together. In fact, ‘Back Off Boogaloo‘ would end up one of my favourite singles from 1972, the words being scrawled in an old-school Kolossal graffiti style across the cover of my English jotter.

Even at the age of ten, I railed against convention. Not for me, this accepting what was uniformly and blindly followed. Unimpressed with the biggest band on the planet, I was already showing a stubborn and ‘punk’ attitude.

I nailed my colours to the Ohio Express and The Scaffold masts in 1968.


1969 was another year more focused on football, Batman and Thunderbirds. I do, however, have vivid memories of returning from the annual Carnival with my Cub Scout Pack, on the top deck of a Glasgow Corporation bus, singing the latest big hit by The Archies.

I’m not so sure that was evidence of a musical maturing, though.

Being only eleven / twelve years old in 1970, my scant pocket money stretched only to a copy of Shoot! magazine, a pack of football related bubblegum cards and a handful of gobstoppers. Any money I saved would go towards buying a trick / joke item from Tam Shepherd’s magic shop in Glasgow city centre.

Music and records would not become a priority until the following year when at the age of thirteen I developed the ‘cool’ gene.

OK – maybe ‘cool’ is stretching it. But I was the only kid in school who owned a copy of ‘Kongos’ the first album John Kongos released in his own name. This was the first album I bought and paid for on my own, and came a few months after my first single, ‘Co-Co,’ by The Sweet.

It’s fair to say I got a bit of stick at school for my choices. But hey – nineteen years later, The Happy Mondays covered John Kongos’s ‘He’s Gonna Step On You Again.’ It was ‘cool’ then, wasn’t it?

One thing about the early Sweet singles was that while the ‘A’ side was of a pretty commercial, twee style, the ‘B” sides were infinitely more rocking. They had a harder edge, and I played them as much as the principal song.

My musical development was to take on a heavier bias.

TO BE CONTINUED …




Leon Redbone and Roky Erickson

I was saddened to hear last night about the passing of two musical legends.

I first came across the music of Leon Redbone when he appeared on The Old Grey Whistle Test. It must have been around the time his ‘Double Trouble’ album was launched, so that would put it around 1977. Back then, of course, I was right into my punk music, so it was strange that I should find an attraction in the off kilter jazz style of some really uncool looking dude in a Panama hat.

The following day, I recall going into the tiny, old-time Virgin Records shop in Cambridge Street, Glasgow and buying Leon’s new release. I loved it so much that a few weeks later, I asked the store to order me a copy of the 1975 release, ‘On The Track.‘ Both still grace my record shelves.

Looking back, I think that quite perversely, I took to Leon Redbone‘s music and character because he was so different. He didn’t conform. He had an individual style of dress and music.

Perhaps he was more 70s original ‘punk’ than we could ever have thought.

******



I was a bit of a late-comer to the psyche and psychedelic scene. But when i finally arrived, it was the music of The 13th Floor Elevators that convinced me I’d been a bit of a pratt for ignoring this style of music for so long

Roky Erickson founded the band back in 1965 and is regarded as one of the instigators of the psychedelic rock genre. Sadly, he endured years of mental health issues, at a time when enforced electroconvulsive therapy was considered a ‘cure’ for paranoid schizophrenia


Arrested in 1969 for possession of marijuana and facing a possible ten year stretch, he pleaded guilty on the basis of insanity in an effort to avoid jail. The authorities though, were keen to punish Roky, and indeed the band, for their outspoken views and use of hallucinogenic substances. He was promptly sent to Austin State Hospital, from where he escaped several times before ultimately being incarcerated at Rusk State Hospital for three years. It was here that Roky was again subjected to more electroconvulsive ‘therapy.’

Roky suffered mental health issues for many years, but in 2007 he managed to wean himself off his medication and started playing again, and a year later he toured the American West Coast with The Black Angels as his ‘backing band.’

In May 2015, the circle was completed when Roky played the Levitation Festival in Austin, Texas with the original members of The 13th Floor Elevators.

Footnote: Four years ago this month, when I was still ‘small-time dealing’ in records, I sold an 8 x 7″ singles box set, on multi-coloured vinyl, for £39. This is now selling for around £150.
I’m
STILL a pratt!


THE CRAMPS: Trash is Neat #5 – The Band that Time Forgot.



This is an ultra limited, though unofficial, repress (Discogs lists it as only 100 copies on purple vinyl) of one of the rarest Cramps albums with 3 additional tracks including a second, little known version of ‘The Band That Time Forgot’ and revised artworks.

The compilation covers the early days of The Cramps around 1976 – 1984 with all of side one featuring the classic line-up of Lux Interior, Poison Ivy Rorschach, Nick Knox and Bryan Gregory.

Most of the songs, all recorded live, have rarely before been committed to vinyl, all coming from tapes that have been traded among bona fide Cramps fans – hence the ‘unofficial’ release description, I guess.

Interspersed with horror B-movie soundbites, this is a truly atmospheric album, though I do have to say that despite the efforts as described on the sleeve notes, the sound quality does leave a bit to be desired.



UNCOVERING MY TRACKS (Part #1)

Apple Tree Awakening.


Do you recall the precise moment you became aware of music? Not the nursery rhyme type stuff your exasperated parents would sing as you lay in your cot, determined to make them regret that rainy, alcohol infused weekend at the B&B in Rhyl some twenty-seven months previous.

No – real music. The stuff that set you off on your personal musical odyssey. (See how I cleverly avoided using that dreadful ‘J’ word, just there?)

I grew up in a household filled with the sound of marching military bands and film soundtracks. The Royal Marines Bands Service and South Pacific still come back to haunt me. In fact, having asked my Dad what was the music of choice to get me settled when I was a nipper, I was horrified to hear it was ‘I’m Getting Married in The Morning,’ from the musical, ‘My Fair Lady.’

Sheesh! 1958 – even Pat Boone or Dean Martin would have almost passed as ‘cool’ then. But no – I must have been the most uncool six year old in Glasgow when I first became aware of some combo called The Beatles.

1964 – The Swinging Sixties and all that were just around the corner and the only reason I became aware of the biggest music phenonemon until Wet Wet Wet came along (‘J’ for joke) some twenty-odd years later, was because my father had written a banner with the words ‘She Loves You, Yeah, Yeah Yeah’ to stick on my Uncle Robert’s Triumph Herald on the day of his wedding. And even that was a year after the release date.

Unbelievably, it would be another five years before I eventually ‘got with it,’ as we would say. And I remember the precise moment.

I was climbing the apple tree in our back garden with my pals, when one mentioned the cartoon he had seen on TV (yeah, I know – apple tree / garden / TV – we were terribly middle class, not that I’m at all ashamed of that)

Cartoon? He said ‘cartoon?’ That was me – I was in. What was this ‘cartoon’ of which he spoke?


TO BE CONTINUED ….