With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

Music trivia, useless info, extra added random stuff and the odd rant from me

Charity Gig – The Junction, York – Friday 22nd May 2009 May 25, 2009


OK I know it’s been a long while since I’ve posted, but I finally made it back and I have a lot to tell you, in particular about Friday night. I had the pleasure of attending a charity gig at the Junction in York. A mighty array of excellent acts had been assembled by Simon Pattinson to aid two local charities; York Guardian Angels and the York Hospital Radio. Like me Simon is a volunteer at York Hospital Radio as is Tom Wycks (more of him later) who designed the flier. £5 for five acts is a bargain anywhere, but here with such a superb selection it was a stupendous bargain. But enough of that, you’re probably dying to find out who was on the bill aren’t you?

The flyer from Fridays gig
The flyer from Fridays gig

First up was ‘A Man Is Slapped’. How can I describe him? Well what if the Human League were a hip hop band? That might go someway to describing this somewhat genre defying chap. I have posted a Man Is Slapped review before. I was impressed then and I was even more impressed on Friday. He does a fantastic song live where he overlays all the backing parts and then sings over that overlaid loop. He also does some great beat boxing too. If you get a chance to see him, take it!. Also if you have the misfortune to find yourself in York Hospital in the coming weeks you may get to hear him on the Hospital Radio Station. Tom Wycks (see I said there would be more of him later) has arranged to record a Man Is Slapped interview. Tom’s show usually goes out at 8pm on Wednesdays and I must say it is very good.

Second up was ‘Electrify Me’ now let me use another ‘what if’ to describe him. What if Brian Eno had been born no more than twenty years ago? This young guy is an electronic multi-instrumentalist. Well I say instrumentalist but he seemed to be making music with sounds synthesised from old electronic equipment. Including a Game Boy, well at least I think it was a Game Boy, for all I know it might have been a a Star Trek Phaser or just a simple hole punch. He did a storming cover of “Tainted Love” which was made famous by Soft Cell in the 80s but written and recorded by Gloria Jones and was a big Northern Soul hit in the 70s. Anyway back to Electrify Me, this guy is a must for student parties and festival dance tents. You cannot help but move your feet to this guy’s unique sound and he even made the Nokia tune sound cool!

Third up was a band who joined the bill too late to appear on the flier. They’re called ‘Front Room Antics’ I’ve enjoyed the ‘what ifs’ so far so here’s another. What if Orange Juice (the band not the drink) hadn’t been invented until now and were infused more with blues than soul? yep that could be these guys. Good sound and they know how to jam, which they did especially well during the broken string incident (hey that would make a great band name!).  An excellent vocalist that drank red wine too, now that hasn’t been seen since the days of Rod and the Faces, although Rod and the boys were so ill mannered they necked it straight from the bottle. I detected some influences in the ‘Front Room Antics’ sound notably Franz Ferdinand, Kings Of Leon and Television. This band might not be the fastest stringers in the west but they are a great band with excellent potential nonetheless!

‘Euphoria Audio’ were next and yes there is another ‘what if’ (although I don’t think it’s a good one) What if the Lost Prophets weren’t Welsh? That would only go a very, very small way to describing this band. When they started I thought Kasabian only a more dynamic and so much better, then I thought Lost Prophets (as you might have guessed). In fact whilst there are some influences here this is a very original and very superb band. Very tight instrumentally and with a fantastic rock vocalist. This band would work well at festivals and have the potential to perhaps fill stadiums one day. They also have a song in an Internet song contest; 1click2fame, so click here to vote for them.

Finally there was the headline act ‘3 Foot Ninja’. What can I say? How about another ‘what if’? What if punk and power pop were in fact conjoined twins? That barely does them justice but goes someway to describing there rich, eclectic and truly marvellous sound. They have real energy, very loud but also very skilled musically. I had heard of them but never actually heard them until this gig and boy am I glad I saw them. I will definitely go and see them again. They included two incredible cover versions in their set. Firstly Dizzee Rascal’s “Dance Wiv Me”  and they finished with an awesome (and regular readers will know that I use that word very sparingly) cover of the Prodigy’s “Breathe”. My advice is gather up all of your X Factor shite and burn it, then replace it with whatever you can get by 3 Foot Ninja!

Let me finish by saying a big thank you to Simon P for making this all possible and for helping to raise money for two excellent causes; Guardian Angels and York Hospital Radio. I can confirm that £170 was raised.

 

“and the more I find out the less I know” May 4, 2009


This is the first in a not particularly regular series of posts covering some of my most favourite and in some cases poorly recognised artists. First up it’s Mr Johnny Nash. Johnny, despite his greatest success coming with reggae was actually born in Houston Texas on August 19th 1940. Like many of his contemporaries he sang in the choir at his local Baptist Church in his childhood and youth. He became a regular on a local television show called ‘Matinee’ in 1953 where he mainly performed covers of current hits. In another potential big break he entered a talent contest in the early 50’s where he eventually lost out to none other than the mighty Joe Tex. In 1956 he began a seven-year run of appearances on Arthur Godfrey’s radio and tv shows. Godfrey claimed to have ‘discovered’ Nash. Perhaps in the same way that Diana Ross ‘discovered’ the Jackson 5, she didn’t and it was in fact Gladys Knight. Johnny’s recording career began in the fifties when he signed a deal with ABC-Paramount and released his debut single “A Teenager Sings The Blues” Indeed he even had some US hits. Notably a cover of the Doris Day song “A Very Special Love” in late 1958 and also “The Teen Commandments” The latter was actually a collaboration with Paul Anka and George Hamilton IV. ABC had tried to market Johnny as another Johnny Mathis which led to him becoming disillusioned and did nothing to enhance his fledgling career. In my opinion this suggests that even in the 50’s the record labels would still opt for the easy route. ABC had a handsome black crooner on their books so they thought the easiest step would be to market him just like another handsome black crooner; Johnny Mathis. I feel that both had very distinct voices and should have been developed and promoted as individuals.

An Early Shot Of Johnny Nash

An Early Shot Of Johnny Nash

This disillusionment with the record industry saw Nash take his first steps in what could have been a very successful parallel career as an actor with a starring role in the film “Take A Giant Step”. It turned out to be his only starring role. He played a black teenager raised in white neighbourhood who struggles to fit in. Johnny won a Silver Sail award from the Locarno International Film Festival for his performance. The film’s Executive Producer was Burt Lancaster. It was filmed in 1958. As far as I am aware there has never been a DVD release. In 1960 he appeared in the movie ‘Key Witness’ alongside the supremely talented Dennis Hopper which received some good reviews and a degree of critical acclaim in Europe. After this he made a return to the recording studio where he recorded a string of middle-of-the-road tunes. None of these singles (which included releases on the Warner Brothers, Groove and Argo labels amongst others) were able to even dent the charts so once again his singing career began to tail off. Eventually he recorded the R & B song “Let’s Move And Groove Together” in 1965. This reached the dizzy heights of the US R & B top 5. But perhaps much more significantly for Nash the record became a massive hit in Jamaica. He embarked on a promotional tour of Jamaica in 1967. In a follow up trip he recorded the single “Hold Me Tight” which was based around a very strong reggae groove. This recording was made at Byron Lee’s (off of Byron Lee and the Dragonaires) Federal Studios. The single was released on the JAD label, which Nash had set up with producer Arthur Jenkins and businessman Danny Simms. The label’s name was made up of the first letter of the owner’s first names. The song reached the top 5 in both the US and the UK. He also reached the top 40 again with a reggae cover of the late great Sam Cooke’s “Cupid” which has more recently been covered by the talented Miss Amy Winehouse. In the same period he also had a hit with a cover of the Bill Johnson song “You Got Soul” Sadly JAD folded in the early 70’s. Click here to listen to Johnny’s “(I’m So) Glad You’re My Baby” from 1967 and a cover of “Ole Man River” which I had never heard until I started researching this post, just click the title for that one 🙂

The cover of Johnny Nash's "Hold Me Tight" album

The cover of Johnny Nash's "Hold Me Tight" album

After “Cupid” went higher in the UK chart (no. 6) than it did in the US (no. 39) Nash decided to move to the UK in 1971. That year he became the first artist to have a major hit with a Bob Marley composition, the classic “Stir It Up” This was the first Johnny Nash single I ever bought and it also made me search for more of Bob Marley’s music too. Nash had met the Wailers while visiting Jamaica in the late 60’s. Nash was impressed enough to sign Bob, Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh to an exclusive deal with JAD records. He also produced a number of songs for the band. By the time he released “Stir It Up” Nash was signed to CBS/ Epic Records. The follow up was the classic “I Can See Clearly Now” which was a top ten hit in the UK and went to the top of the charts in the US where it stayed for four weeks. Click here to see Johnny performing the song on Bert Sugarman’s Midnight Special TV Show in 1973. Many people have covered the song. Notably Jimmy Cliff for the movie ‘Cool Runnings’ and perhaps rather strangely, given that he was blind, Ray Charles. Following his success with a reggae influenced sound Johnny moved to Jamaica in 1972 where I believe he still owns a recording studio. The Wailers had backed Johnny on some of the recordings he made in 1971/72 and John ‘Rabbit’ Bundrick who also played with Free was a contributor to the ‘I Can See Clearly Now’ album. One of Bundrick’s songs and indeed one of my favourites from that album was “The Fish And The Alley Of Destruction” This has strangely been left off the extremely hard to find CD reissue of the album. Click here to listen to Johnny perform the excellent “Cream Puff”

The cover of Johnny Nash's "I Can See Clearly Now" album

The cover of Johnny Nash's "I Can See Clearly Now" album

After this success in the early 70’s Nash had yet another chart hiatus despite releasing what I believe to be his best album “My Merry Go Round” in 1973. This has now been reissued on CD, you really should make every effort to buy it! He was back in the charts in July 1975 where he reached number one in the UK with the song “Tears On My Pillow” Contrary to some sources on the internet this was not a cover of the Little Anthony And The Imperials song of the same name nor is it the same song that Kylie Minogue released a few years back. The song was originally called “I Can’t Take It” and was written by Ernie Smith a Jamaican singer/songwriter

The cover of my favourite Johnny Nash album "My Merry Go Round"

The cover of my favourite Johnny Nash album "My Merry Go Round"

The cover of Johnny Nash's "Tears On My Pillow" album

The cover of Johnny Nash's "Tears On My Pillow" album

Johnny had a few more chart hits in the 70’s, notably with another Sam Cooke cover “(What A) Wonderful World” he was known to be recording with engineer Andy Bradley at Sugarhill Studios in Houston in 2006, although this might have been remastering old material rather than recording anything new. He seems to have retired now although I would love to hear from someone who can tell me that isn’t the case. In the meantime I think it’s a travesty that his back catalogue has largely been ignored for CD reissue. “My Merry Go Round” and “Tears On My Pillow” were both reissued in 2007 and apart from a number of compilations that’s about it. Surely it’s about time all of the Nash albums were reissued on CD I for one would buy them all! Those reissues should also include an album he recorded with Kim Weston in the late 60s and also the score he recorded for a Swedish movie in 1971. Who knows if it hadn’t have been for Johnny maybe Bob Marley and indeed reggae wouldn’t have proved so successful and durable as it did. I’m not religious in any way but if I did believe in angels I reckon they would sing with a voice like the wonderfully talented Johnny Nash!

Johnny Nash with Andy Bradley at the Sugarhill Studios in Houston, Texas in April 2006

Johnny Nash with Andy Bradley at the Sugarhill Studios in Houston, Texas in April 2006

I would like to finish this post with my favourite Johnny Nash single “There Are More Questions Than Answers

If you’re a fellow Johnny Nash fan feel free to get in touch 🙂

 

“I’ll be buzzin’ round your hive everyday at five” May 2, 2009


It’s me again people, I’m back with another one of those annoyingly intermittent blog posts. Actually they may well become more intermittent these days as I move back to being much more fully immersed in the corporate world, I start a new job next week. What will I be doing and who will I be working for? Well (and to those of you who truly believe that gullible really has been removed from the dictionary this next bit should be read with tongue in cheek!) I have searched far and wide to discover and produce an alternative cheap and environmentally friendly fuel to power our motor vehicles. I have left no stone unturned and no sting unstung. Indeed it is the sting thing that finally led me to my discovery. For some time I have been extracting the urine from Bumble Bees, well frankly anyone who wears a black and yellow hooped jumper deserves to have the piss taken out of them don’t you think? The extraction process is quite painful, well it is for the bees! Anyway I now have so much of the stuff in the fridge that it’s beginning to curdle the milk, so it’s time to put some in the car and guess what…….. it works! It powered the mighty Volvo for around ten yards, yes I am now being fuelled by Bee Pee. So can you guess who I’ll be working for? 😉

You may be smiling now but just wait until the extraction starts!

You may be smiling now but just wait until the extraction starts!

I know that this is really supposed to be a music blog and this one isn’t even about bees either but this story was too good not to share. It’s about a cat called Henry who steals socks. Click here to read it on the Beeb.

In keeping with the first part of this post todays trivia will be Bee related 🙂

So let’s start with the late great (those ever present l’s & g’s are here again) Elvis Aaron Presley, who had a hit with “I Got Stung” in 1958. A song so old it even has more wrinkles than me. The song was one of many that Elvis recorded during his National Service and was in fact on the flipside of “One Night”. some of you dedicated trivia fans probably know that the song also topped the UK charts during the 2005 reissues programme, indeed I have all those reissued singles, how sad am I? “I Got Stung” was written by Aaron Schroeder and David Hill but is was produced by Mike Stoller off of Leiber and Stoller. Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller wrote a number of hits for Elvis, including “Jailhouse Rock” A young Phil Spector also worked with the pair in his early career in the music industry.

Elvis really swelled up after he got stung

Elvis really swelled up after he got stung

Those of you that are older than me will remember that Arthur Askey recorded “The Bee Song” but did you know that he also starred in a 1944 movie called ‘Bees In Paradise’? Whilst it was set on a mysterious island in the South Atlantic (so not the Falklands then?) where men are regarded as disposable beings useful only for breeding purposes. The island is ruled by scantily clad warrior women. The story involves four airmen, including Arthur Askey, parachuting onto the island with Askey’s character becoming the object of desire for one of the native women played by Ann Shelton. Whilst the film may have been set on a tropical island it was actually filmed in Torquay.

That's not glasses that Arthur is wearing they're protective goggles

That's not glasses that Arthur is wearing they're protective goggles

How could I do a post relating to Bees without mentioning Sting, well quite easily actually, but I won’t. Sting or Gordon Sumner to his nearest and dearest got his nickname after wearing a black and yellow hooped jumper when playing a gig with a jazz band, the Phoenix Jazzmen. As I said earlier anyone who wears a black and yellow hooped jumper deserves to have the piss taken out of them, I rest my case! Anyway here is Mr Sting with the fabulous “Englishman In New York

Actually I think I'd prefer him in the yellow and black hooped jumper

Actually I think I'd prefer him in the yellow and black hooped jumper

And without further ado let me end with a classic philosophical Monty Python song “Eric The Half A Bee” Enjoy!

The end............. for now!

The end............. for now!

 

 
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साहित्य संगालो २०१३

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