Thursday, 29 October 2009
Instead, I mourn the passing of the singing group that were once the Sugababes. It seems that the last remaining founder member, Keisha Buchanan, has now fled the coop and whether she was pushed or left willingly is not really the issue. What is important now is whether the remaining ‘Babes plus any newcomer really have the right to call themselves the Sugababes with all the global goodwill that goes with that name?
This is a matter that I have touched on before and as yet is still largely unresolved. My contention is this: should any band have the right to use their original name once all founder members have left?
In a recent issue of ‘Record Collector’ there is a page of gig adverts which includes the following; Focus (featuring Thijs van Leer), Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash and The Grounghogs with Tony McPhee. All these are really the thin edge of the wedge as none of them are the original bands but one member plus supporting players. Focus was never Thijs van Leer on his own and without Messrs Akkerman, Ruiter and Van der Linden the Focus name seems a little sullied. I’m not sure who’d want to see Wishbone Ash without Andy Powell (and Upton and Ted Turner come to that) but the name is still being used for commercial gain. It would be interesting to know what a conglomeration of Powell, Upton and T Turner would call themselves?
The case of the Groundhogs is perhaps more acceptable as Tony McPhee was undoubtedly the main man, but I’m sure long time fans of the band would still feel a little short changed without the remaining members.
My feeling is that all bands that do not have a single founding member should be forced by the musicians union to change their name. After all, from a punter’s point of view there is a little matter of the Trades Descriptions Act and the misrepresentation of goods. I dare say that Martin Turner would claim he has done just that by playing under the mantle of ‘Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash’ but I hear the sound of hairs being split. What we need is a decent judicial decision on this point then we can look forward to years of acrimony (see Pink Floyd).
Friday, 23 October 2009
The problem with the current female singer market is that it is a touch oversubscribed just at the moment, what with Little Boots, La Roux, Lady Gaga, Florence and the machine, Bat for Lashes and err…Cheryl Cole all vying for attention. So the reappearance of sprightly contender, Nerina Pallot may just be a camel and straws situation if it wasn’t for the fact that she is not just another female singer songwriter.
Check out the kooky video for ‘Real Late Starter’ as it is a real hoot and may touch a nerve for some of us…
Saturday, 17 October 2009
One of my all time favourite sit-coms was called ‘Chance in a Million’ and starred two actors at the start of their television careers, Simon Callow and Brenda Blethyn. It ran on Channel 4 for three seasons of 6 episodes each between 1984 and 1986 and as far as I know was never repeated nor has it emerged on DVD. Generally there are reasons why DVDs are not released – problems with licensing soundtrack music (‘Moonlighting’ take a bow) or royalty difficulties with acting unions etc – but I suspect in this case it is probably to do with one or other of the stars. Both Callow and Blethyn have moved on to much greater things and I guess that they may not wish to be reminded of their humble sit-com beginnings.
But that is a shame, for ‘Chance in a Million’ was a wonderfully off-the-wall comedy, brilliantly acted by the two protagonists and they should be proud of it. Callow plays Tom Chance, an eccentric bachelor, given to speaking in unfinished clauses rather than sentences who is dogged by coincidence. If anything is highly unlikely to happen then it is certain to happen to him and he is frequently the victim of improbable circumstances. The local police have given up arresting him for crimes he appears to have committed and he fears for any woman he becomes involved with in case his ‘affliction’ rubs off on her – until a chance meeting with Alison Little, played by Blethyn, an on-the-shelf librarian who falls for him.
She is keen for their friendship to develop into something more intimate and part of the comedy involves his being largely oblivious of her seduction attempts. Eventually, however, they do marry in the final episode despite the inevitable catalogue of disasters which threaten to curtail the event. Brenda Blethyn has never been better than in her portrayal of the slightly naïve yet love-torn Alison. Her stoic acceptance of the chaos that surrounds them and matter-of-fact delivery of some of the funniest lines in the script really is worth seeing.
The scripts were written by Andrew Norriss (who later wrote the Brittas Empire) and Richard Fegen and in retrospect lay the foundations for the quirky humour used later by David Renwick in ‘One Foot in the Grave’.
However, it seems there is a God, because several episodes have appeared on YouTube and I have just spent a delightful few hours watching them for the first time in nearly 25 years. And yes, they are still utterly bonkers and I love ‘em.
A brief glimpse - Tom has accidentally picked up the loot from a bank robbery. Now read on...
Sunday, 11 October 2009
Because I love pop music so much, I’m rather sad that I’m just too young to remember the real birth of the youth culture explosion that shook the 1950s to its core. As a result of my newly assumed age, I would’ve been in the school system throughout the 50s and into the 60s, when all those seminal records from Elvis, Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis and the rest were being made. Then, in 1964, one of the best years in rock ever, I would’ve transferred to higher education (hopefully). Imagine being at college during the mid-sixties in swinging London when the Beatles, Stones, Who, Kinks etc were in their pomp and Carnaby Street did it’s best to make you look a dedicated follower of fashion. Sort of.
It would also have meant that I would be in gainful employment by the late 1960s and in a position to buy up all those fabulous classic albums of the late 60s and early 1970s – ones that I could only ever dream about and finger the covers of at the time. Of course, it would also mean that I would’ve probably been too old to really appreciate punk when it appeared in the late 1970s and the Brit-pop revival of the 1990s would’ve irritated the hell out of me in my advanced years but I’ll take all that in exchange for a first-hand experience of everything rock has achieved in 50 odd years.
Of course, the other reason why I wish I was 10 years older is that I would expect to be retired by now on a healthy pension and have nothing to do all day but play my old vinyl and grumble that today’s bands are not a patch on those of my youth.
What?...Oh, I do that already.
Monday, 5 October 2009
Read has just been declared bankrupt for the umpteenth time since his heyday in the 1980s and as a consequence must sell his entire collection comprising approximately 120,000 items in the hope that it will raise £1M. Like John Peel, a large part of his residence is given over to storing all this stuff and now it’s got to go. I have no truck with Read, but I have to sympathise with his plight even though my own collection is less than one percent the size of his. To lose my collection would be like cutting off my own arm.
It is a part of me that has grown over 40 years of my life. It has become a diary of events, cataloguing the social history of not just me but society as a whole. Sixties protest, the summer of love, punk, the eighties boom years and the rise of technology are all represented in musical form. All my choices are laid bare from the inspired to the downright silly although admittedly some of the latter have been expunged from the record over the years.
Anyone looking my collection would have a pretty good insight into me as a person and this is why it is so difficult to part company with it and why I will clutch it to me until the day I die. I have no idea how Mike Read feels about it but I would guess that he is pretty devastated. But who will buy it? It’s a bit like buying someone else’s shoes – they’ll never quite fit and will mean nothing to them in the long term. No doubt most bids will come from the asset stripping community, keen to sell off the most valuable items and send the rest to the nearest charity shop. It doesn’t bear thinking about.
What’s worse is that my own children as inheritors of my precious collection will probably do exactly the same.