Saturday 25 February 2023

Bang average

Before Ian Gillan and Roger Glover plucked up courage to join the big boys in the playground and become two fifths of the classic Mk. 2 version of Deep Purple, they were peddling their wares in a bang average soul revue band who went by the name of Episode Six. Fame and fortune alluded them but, as The Episode, they did put out this rather delightful single on the MGM label. (Is it me or does the guitar riff that runs through it put you in mind of this? Answers on a postcard.)

The Episode - Little One 1968

Wednesday 22 February 2023

Hot and fuzzy

When I read a band's bio and I see the phrase - 'Again the mainstream record buying public wanted no part of this nonsense' my ears always prick up. Who could possibly warrant such a public slap down? Stavely Makepeace, that's who. They would later become glam giants Lieutenant Pigeon; actually, they weren't glam giants at all. How could they be, they came from Coventry. Don't @me - for every Specials there's a Renee & Renato. But they did give us this slab of
1972 piano based tomfoolery - and for that we should be eternally grateful.
We should also be eternally grateful that they put this on the B side. As someone in the YouTube comments section below says 'I'd love to hear a 20 minute version of this.' So would I, my friend, so would I.

Lieutenant Pigeon - The Villain (1972)

Anyway, back to Stavely Makepeace. This charming little nugget (below) was released just before The Villain and, as you can hear, the seeds are being sown. And yes, Simon Pegg did use it to great effect many years later in Hot Fuzz.

Stavely Makepeace - Slippery Rock (1972)

Saturday 18 February 2023

Papa Roach

Caught up with Andrew Roachford MBE at the Rescue Rooms this week. I last saw him over 10 years ago at The Bodega when I reviewed the gig for the paper and, I can honestly say, I'd almost forgotten just how amazing he is. From the moment he walked on stage to when he departed 90 minutes later he was pulling quality songs out of his arse left, right and centre. And he was having a ball. As was everyone in the room - a few of which (me included) were at his first ever Nottingham gig at Rock City 35 years ago. Where does the time go?


Roachford - Kathleen (1988)

Tuesday 14 February 2023

Ian Prowse

Ian Prowse is one of this country's finest living songwriters. Regular visitors to my blog will be more than familiar with his work. He performs the length and breadth of the UK - nigh on constantly - with his band, Amsterdam, as well as solo, and was championed back in the day by fellow scousers John Peel and Janice Long. These days his peers, including Elvis Costello, regularly namedrop him and ask him to come on tour with them. And, as he will tell you, despite the rigours of touring he will always make it back to Liverpool on Monday nights for his legendary Open Mic session at the Cavern pub on Matthew Street.

I managed to nab Ian when he had a (rare) spare minute to ask him a few mildly probing questions. 

You're going through a real purple patch at the moment. You must be buzzing. Your latest album One Hand on the Starry Plough has really energised you (and your fans) – do you think it's your best record so far?

It's impossible to choose until some years have passed. Arm in Arm was always my fav piece of art so far because it’s a coherent reaction to debilitating heartbreak which I can easily locate on the rare occasions I listen to it.

Liverpool is etched thru your songs like Blackpool thru a stick of rock (Holy, Holy River/Does This Train Stop on Merseyside to name but two). And I think think you're right – there is a ley line that runs down Matthew Street. Are you consciously writing about your city/your backdrop/your roots or does it just spill out of you?

Yes it’s an important muse, almost like a person but it’s not conscious, ever. Liverpool isn’t better or more special than other places, it’s just different. It’s a place of lost displaced tribes from across the sea so it’s sentimental, edgy & keen to talk about itself. It’s never ever boring though, which after all is the greatest sin.

Ian Prowse - Hoy, Holy River (2022)

I hear a lot of Irish/Celtic/soul connections in your songs, but who are your musical heroes/influences and which songwriters turn you on? 

My furnace was lit by The Jam, taken to another level by Springsteen, brought into focus by The Waterboys & kept keen by The Clash, Damien Dempsey, REM, Christy Moore & 100 others.

Are Pele (Ian's previous band) and Amsterdam brothers from another mother? (Great band names btw.) What memories do Pele bring back – did you ever feel part of Britpop or were you spinning round in your own orbit at that time?

It’s exactly the same thing just at different points in my songwriting. Music business politics dictated a name change not me. 
We were pre-Britpop, we had a fiddle, there was anti-Gael sentiment under the surface of the music press so no we had nothing to do with all of that. I burnt a Union Jack on stage once so we would hardly be welcome! 

Christy Moore famously covered Does This Train Stop on Merseyside; when you write songs do you only envisage yourself singing them or can you hear other artists giving them a different treatment?

Nah just me. I’m only expressing myself.

Christy Moore - Does This Train Stop on Merseyside

You're obviously passionate about new talent – your Open Mic nights at the Cavern pub are legendary (11 years and counting). The music business is a different animal these days – what advice would you give to musicians starting out now?

Don’t try and get a record deal. It’s meaningless. Write songs that are undeniable to rise you above the morass. 
This of course is almost impossible to do. 

What are your plans for this year? More touring, more recording? 

There’s only two things you can do in this job. Play live and record. Fortunately for me I love them both profoundly.

Quickfire Round

Beatles or Stones? 

Beatles. Though I saw the Stones last year. Unbefuckinglievable!

33s or 45s?


Top deck of the bus or bottom? 


Beer or wine? 


First record you bought with your own money? 

This is the Modern World - The Jam. 

What are you listening to right now? 

Nuh Blame Rasta - Ministry of Love. 

Who should people vote for at the next GE? 

The Independent Socialist candidate. 


A huge thank you to Ian for taking the time. Go and see him if you can. He's celebrating the 30th anniversary of Pele's Fireworks album.
Here's a stripped down version of the title track...


Thursday 9 February 2023

Let's Dance

It was James' birthday yesterday. I spoke to him on the phone and wished him Many Happy Returns. They were just waiting on a taxi to take them to the airport - he and Janni were flying to Cork for a couple of days. 

Janni then sent this short clip of the birthday boy; everybody dance now!

Monday 6 February 2023

Valley Girl

Sarah Lancashire (probably not in uniform)

I've got previous, just ask The Swede; Charity Chic should have known better than to leave a good idea unattended. It wasn't even padlocked to a lamp post for crying out loud. What did he expect?

So, Happy Valley, the BBC's latest pot boiler, bowed out last night in a blaze of glory. No plot spoilers from me - but if you haven't seen the final episode yet, better make sure you've got a fully functioning fire extinguisher in your kitchen; you never know when some knife wielding homicidal maniac will pop round and douse themselves in petrol. Back to Charity Chic. Yes, Valley songs: I'm all for 'em. Especially the Skids' Ahoy, Ahoy, Barman & Soda. (That is what he's singing isn't it?)

But this remains my fave: Moon Zappa - aged just 14 at the time - aping the archetypal Los Angeles teen persona for her old man while he kept the tape rolling.

Frank Zappa - Valley Girl (1982)

A huge thank you to CC for being such a good sport. Even though he doesn't know about this yet...

Wednesday 1 February 2023


February - from the Latin februum, meaning purification. I said a little while ago I'd be posting one or two pictures on the first of every month during 2023 and, sure enough (this time with a water theme, no matter how tenuous) here's Month 2's selection. (In case you missed January, look no further.)
The photograph below was taken in Leicester a couple of weeks ago on one of my photo excursions (just me rocking up at Nottingham station with nothing more than my camera and a rucksack (with a book and a chocolate bar) jumping on a random train and seeing where I end up. The fountain in a city centre square was backlit by the sun and really caught my attention; as did the pub just up the road where I repaired to a couple of minutes after this image was captured. More on The Blue Boar I'm sure in future posts...

My second photograph will probably comes as no surprise. Last Thursday's visit to the capital was special. For lots of reasons. I'm in the middle of writing up a few words and will share with you in the next few days, I'm sure. In the meantime, here's a photo of Mother Thames taken from the top of a certain power station in SW11.

Helping me out with this month's photo challenge are a couple of my favourite bloggers: Alyson and C are not only great virtual friends, but real - in the flesh - friends who I was privileged to spend time with last year in Edinburgh at BlogCon22.
Alyson first - 'A bit twee but it was dusk and we spotted these swans on a flooded area of the local golf course - loved how the light hit the water.' Twee? Not a bit of it; a brilliant photo, Alyson. Thank you.

C is a fabulous artist and illustrator. She says 'Here's a piccy for your photo theme - my little much loved water pot (I call her Potula) - where I dip and rinse my paintbrushes every day.'
Perfect, C! Just what I was after, thank you so much.


Hall & Oates - Family Man (taken from their 1983 album, H2O)