July to December 2017 – the writewyattuk review: the second six months

Frantic Revival: John Coghlan at the rear, with Rick Parfitt, left, and Francis Rossi, live in Stuttgart in 2014

Former Status Quo ‘frantic four’ drummer John Coghlan on the key moments that will always stay with him: “Those six weeks at Butlin’s were an eye-opener, doing it – in a sense – professionally, getting to play to people and them coming up saying how much they enjoyed it. Then you think back to that stage in ’68 with our first hit record, Pictures of Matchstick Men, and playing places like the Royal Albert Hall, Glasgow Apollo, doing the live album there, Hammersmith Odeon, Manchester Apollo …”

Pop Impresario: Pete Waterman at the controls at BBC Coventry and Warwickshire (Photo: BBC)

Pete Waterman sings the praises of his old Coventry associates, The Specials, and their evocative 1981 No.1, Ghost Town: “Absolutely perfect. Jerry (Dammers) for me was the best songwriter in that period. For all the youngsters who want to know what the ’70s were really like, go and listen to Jerry’s records. He summed that period up perfectly.”

Woodland Wonder: Nick Heyward takes it easy, and waits for the plaudits (Photo: https://nickheyward.com/)

Ex-Haircut 100 front-man Nick Heyward on how his love of The Jam inspired his breakthrough band’s debut hit: “Fantastic Day was written when I was pogoing to The Jam! I’d go home inspired by them and others around that time, ending up buying a practice amp and guitar. I locked myself in my bedroom and kept playing D major, C major and G. I had to sing something over those chords, which just happened to be, ‘It’s a fantastic day’. I then thought, ‘Actually, that sounds like a song. I should write one of those other things you have in songs – a verse’. But I didn’t know any other chords, so just played C and G. Later, I learned another chord – F, so put that in just before the chorus. I then had this song I played in various bands, although it didn’t pop out until it was suggested in a rehearsal to play to a record company. So we did, and they decided to sign us.”

Jackson Four: From the left, Tito, Jackie, Marlon and Jermaine are still shaking it down to the ground

Tito Jackson on how he likes to remember his brother Michael, eight years after his death: “The first thing I think of is of him being my brother and the love we had for each other as brothers. That’s what I miss more than anything. Then I think of how brilliant he was as an entertainer, one of the greatest entertainers that ever held a microphone and hit a stage. I can’t deny him that just because he was my brother. I have to recognise he was a great. I tell people Michael would have been a leader in anybody’s band, even if he was in The Beatles or The Rolling Stones. He will definitely be missed. He was magical and different and very brilliant, he was a genius and I miss him tremendously. And the whole world misses Michael Jackson.”

Going Underground: Ian Snowball with Rick Buckler at Bond Street tube station (Photo: Tony Briggs)

Jam biographer Ian Snowball on the first recording he splashed out on: “The first I bought with my own money was That’s Entertainment, when I turned 11 in 1981. The record hadn’t been long out and I bought it with some birthday money. I marched off down to Woolworth’s in Maidstone. It was a picture sleeve, and I remember getting home, realising – as with many 7” singles around then – there wasn’t a middle bit. I can almost picture myself racing back down there to get an adapter so I could play the record. I’d have then played it over and over, as you did. The kids of today are missing out, aren’t they?”

Happy Holidays: Rowetta in Lake Garda (Photo: Angie Wynne)

Happy Holidays: Rowetta takes some time out in Lake Garda (Photo: Angie Wynne)

Rowetta on her enduring relationship with Happy Mondays: “I watched (Tony Wilson’s) programme on Granada, and remember him saying in 1976 about the Sex Pistols being the greatest band in the world. Then he was saying the same about the Mondays in 1989. I decided I had to see this band. When I did I just went, ‘Oh my God, I can see myself on stage with these!’ It took me about six months to persuade everybody else though. I sat in the office all the time. I was managed by Elliot Rashman, and his office was opposite Nathan McGough’s. I’d see mine, then pop in to see theirs. Eventually I persuaded them they needed me! I could see myself doing a T-Rex type of thing, when Gloria Jones was involved. I wanted to be in a punk band but didn’t have the right voice. This was the closest I was going to get, apart from working with Hooky on Colony. That’s where I’m really at home, it’s just finding the opportunity to do things like that. As a kid I could never see how I could be in a punk band, but the Mondays found that role for me.”

Rich Pickings: Richard Houghton stands proudly with his latest publication, The Who – I Was There

Richard Houghton on the basic concept behind his The Who – I Was There book: “I’m trying to tell the story of the band in the words of the people who were there and in the process, give a different take on a story that has been told many times before. I’m hopefully capturing memories that might otherwise be lost and preserving something that is part social history, part pop history. Seeing a band live isn’t just about the band – it’s also about the people, the venue, how the crowd interacts. I’m trying to take the reader back to what it was like to see The Who at the Railway in Wealdstone or the Trade in Watford during the height of Mod.”

Travelling Man: Andrew Roachford was out and about and visiting a town near you in 2017

Andrew Roachford on how he ended up being a pop frontman, despite initial, nervous reluctance: “I started as a piano player, and it was down to people like my uncle, Bill Roachford, who brought the rest out of me. He was a saxophone player who played a lot of clubs from the late ‘50s through to the ’80s, known well by the likes of Ronnie Scott, a bit of a legend in muso circles and rightly so – a truly amazing musician. He heard me singing in a bedroom and was the one who said, ‘Right, we’ve got to get you singing out there’. For me, singing was something very personal. It was like being naked. Doing that in front of an audience was an absolute nightmare. But he pushed me and pushed me, eventually settling the nerves a little. That said, I remember when I got signed how the record company came to the first gig and were horrified because I was surrounded by keyboards and you couldn’t see me! They said, ‘We want you to be a pop star! Can you at least take away one keyboard?’ They had to literally wean me off these keyboards I hid behind.”

Commuter 23: Neil Arthur, looking back and forward and discovering new platforms with Blancmange

Neil Arthur on compiling Blancmange’s 2017 boxset collection, The Blanc Tapes: “It took a lot of persuasion, but I decided if we were going to do this it would have to be done properly. I really wanted to get locked into it. What was difficult at times was listening to all those cassettes. That’s all we could record on in the beginning – all those demos on quarter-inch tape, reel to reel. And the first time I listened back it wasn’t the music that got me – it was the air just before the first sound. As soon as I heard it, I knew where it was. Whoa – that’s a proper big memory, that! There’s a really early demo of Waves, where we were trying to get the synth going, because Stephen was doing the organ bit. The mic. was open and I coughed. Normally you‘d edit that out, but I decided to leave that on. There’s also chatting at the end of one track. We hoped those sort of touches would draw people in. You see the journey we took – this experimental band who then started forming slightly more structured songs, then the more polished end results that came out. It was a relatively short period – from around ’78 to ’86 – and It’s a long time ago now, but there’s still a hardcore of fans who enjoy all that, and they’re absolutely wonderful.”

Band Substance: Cabbage at The Ferret, Preston, Lancashire, 2016 (Photo copyright: Richard Nixon / rich pictures)

Cabbage’s Joe Martin on his debut festival experience, at Leeds: “I first went when I was 16, with Ian Brown playing. I’d never taken ecstasy before but felt this would be an appropriate time. I was at the front with identikit Manchester look and bucket hat. He said after in an interview it was great and there was this bunch of 17-year-old kids at the front, digging the tunes. Years later I ended up on BBC North West Tonight being interviewed after a Stone Roses show. I have no recollection, but it was quite a stern interview actually. I’d like to dig it out of the archives.”

Casio Royale: Hannah Peel as her alter-ego, Mary Casio (Photo: Stormy@ Rebel and Romance)

Hannah Peel explaining the concept behind Mary Casio: Journey to Cassiopeia, another 2017 highlight: “Mary is a character that encompasses how we look at life and view mortality and time, and how at any age we can have dreams and still achieve those dreams. In my mind over time I developed this lady, who lived in Yorkshire, probably worked in a post office all her life, who in her back garden had a shed full of inventions and things she created that nobody knew about – kind of like a Delia Derbyshire or Daphne Oram.”

Guitar Man: Singer-songwriting legend Graham Gouldman was taking the long way round with a Heart Full of Songs

Graham Gouldman on writing songs with Eric Stewart for 10cc, and their almost-telepathic relationship: “I’d play guitar and Eric would play keyboards, and the sound of the keyboards and instrumentation you use can affect the song you write. Pretty much every song we wrote together was done that way. Definitely we had it. It’s something you can’t manufacture or buy. You’ve either got it or you haven’t. I’ve written with many other songwriters, and most of the time we’re on the same page. But sometimes you can be writing with someone and it’s driving you mad that you should be writing the greatest song ever … but you’re not. That takes nothing away from the other writer, but you’re just not gelling. It’s like with people. It’s like love.”

Wilder Still: Belinda Carlisle under the spots, having her command met – those lights left on again

Belinda Carlisle, asked which of today’s bands are worthy of The Go-Go’s Rolling Stone ‘best female rock band’ crown: “There’s nobody worthy of that crown today. I can’t think of anyone who did the exact same thing. Maybe I’m not really that much in touch with the music going on now, but you’d think I’d know about one … but I haven’t seen one. I don’t understand why there haven’t been a lot of girls’ bands that haven’t been doing that, other than The Bangles, L7 and a few of them, but not really that many. Especially nowadays, things are pretty much homogenized and not really that authentic. It’s a different ball game now, for sure.”

Dave Rave: Jason Byrne taking to the streets for Don’t Say It, Bring It for the Dave Channel

Jason Byrne on his ‘fictional wife’ and how the real version is often way off: “Basically, I have a fictional wife and my real wife, and they kind of cross over. A lot of the stories definitely come out of my wife for a start, and I just fucking jazz it up. People who have met my wife will say, ‘Oh, she doesn’t look like your wife’. I say, ‘What are you talking about?’ and they’ll say, ‘I always imagined this very stout woman with really bad hair, waving her fingers’. My wife’s a very attractive, skinny lady, who does a lot of training. But she does come out with some cracking lines. I recently got a new show on Dave (Don’t Say It, Bring It), which was recorded and ready to go, and I was launching it, and the day after I got a phone call asking me to do Ireland’s Got Talent. Well, I got loads of congratulations from family, friends and colleagues. Then I got a text from my wife, and all it said was, ‘You could have put that fucking bin out before you left’.”

Team Selecter: Pauline Black and Gaps Hendrickson, back to back by design (Photo: Dean Chalkley)

Pauline Black on what she gets up to when The Selecter aren’t recording or playing live: “I’ve always performed in multiple ways, either TV, radio presentation, writing or theatre acting. I like to practise a lot of different disciplines when it comes to performance. Each then complements and helps develop the others. That way I’ve managed to constantly move forward and not get stuck in a rut. Writing Black By Design was a defining moment in my life and took me 18 months to complete. I’m very proud of the story I told and hope some of my insights might help other adopted people who had to come to terms with the inherent racism in our society. And if all goes as planned, it looks as though a film about 2 Tone based on my book will soon go into production.”

Live Presence: Tom Robinson was back with TRB for the Power in the Darkness 40th anniversary tour in 2017

Tom Robinson on memorable meetings with PIL and ex-Sex Pistols front-man John Lydon: “Lydon was alright. I don’t think the other Sex Pistols liked me very much, but he took me off down the Speakeasy. We then met at the Music Machine, and he said, ‘Tom Robinson – don’t give up! Don’t ever give up! Don’t give in to the bastards!’ Then he was sick on my shoes! About 10 years later I bumped into him at the Britannia HoteI, Manchester, wearing a Mambo suit that must have cost the best part of a thousand quid, his hair in knots on his head, dyed orange, with a pair of Woolworth’s sunglasses. He said, ‘Tom Robinson! You’re with that Red Wedge, ain’t ya!’ I said ‘Yeah’, and he said, ‘Fackin’ champagne socialists!’ He always managed to annoy everybody. He never conformed to one viewpoint or doctrine. He went his own sweet way. And I love him for it.”

Tour Mates: Robin Ince, Professor Brian Cox, and a monkey, yesterday … ish

Comedian Robin Ince explaining the difference between sharing a stage with Professor Brian Cox and fellow comic Josie Long: “Well, I don’t have to interrupt Josie because I think the audience are no longer understanding her. That’s one of the things. There’s Josie, my friend Michael Legge, and Brian, and that strange mix where I have a very solitary performing and creating system, but also various different adventures, impromptu double acts. You don’t even realise they’re double acts until others tell you. People talk about the relationship Brian and me have, but it’s something I’ve not really thought about. As long as all of you have your ego under control, it seems to me it’s down to naturalism. It’s the antithesis of the Mick Fleetwood/Samantha Fox Brits relationship, or any award ceremony where Tom Selleck would come on with Heather Locklear and compliment each other. As long as you can get away with impromptu and you’re united by different fascinations – artistic or political. Brian’s far smarter than me, but we’re united by certain kinds of philosophical ideas about how the earth should be.”

Strings Attached: Grace Chatto says hello with cello (Photo: https://www.facebook.com/cleanbandit/)

Grace Chatto on how she sees herself primarily, and whether she could one day go back to just being part of a string quartet: “A cellist probably, and also a music video director. That takes up most of my time. A producer as well. Jack (Patterson)’s the primary songwriter and writes for piano and voice, then we produce together, think about all the sounds. Going back to a string quartet? Yeah, maybe. That would be lovely. I want to try and start doing more string quartet stuff now, try and integrate that back into the band. It kind of worked quite well, and I think now the strings are a bit more of an afterthought, because we’re so focused on everything else. It would be good to get that back into the core of what we’re doing.”

Essex Symbol: Phill Jupitus will be heading to a town near you again in 2018 … probably

 

Phill Jupitus on his mid-‘80s involvement with the Red Wedge musicians’ political collective, which he said he got into ‘20% because he believed in the cause, 30% because he loved Billy Bragg, and 50% because he wanted to meet Paul Weller’: “The ideology pulls you in, but having worked at close quarters with the day-to-day functioning of politics, you realise you need so much commitment. I also found that everyone who works for a political party has an agenda they’re pursuing. When people talk to you or interact with you, they’re looking at you not for your views, what you’re saying or your hopes and dreams, but how much you as a commodity will help their agenda. That’s why I don’t really get on with politics. There are so few people who do it with a good heart, and you have to interact with people where you’ve got to really tip-toe around them. It’s just exhausting.”

Tour Party: Wolf Alice were back on form on the road and in the studio in 2017

Wolf Alice’s Ellie Rowsell on encouraging young people to register to vote, and fronting a Labour Party video: “I think you slowly come to terms with your power of influence as someone who has a small to medium-sized following online. It’s a scary thing to speak out, because there are always people you’re going to offend. But once you realise that’s never going to change and you can never satisfy or please everybody, you can start to move past that and do what you think is potentially helpful and what is right. You have to do everything you can to stay hopeful. Nothing will get better if you’re without hope.”

Live Wires: The Undertones, back out there for your humming, leaping and erm, listening pleasure. From the left – Billy Doherty, Paul McLoone, John O’Neill, Damian O’Neill, Mickey Bradley.

Mickey Bradley on getting back in the same room with his fellow Undertones: “It’s a good craic, and whenever we play again for the first time, it’s usually good. It‘s not like you have to crank up an engine or something. Then you do it a couple of times and it’s slightly better. For the physical songs, Billy always feels it and thinks he should practise more. Damian and John as well, with quite fast guitar. But the bass is never a problem … it‘s very sedate. It‘s a sedentary musical occupation, playing the bass guitar. As long as Paul can remember all the words …”

Lining Up: Jeffrey Daniel, Carolyn Griffey and Howard Hewett, in perfectly soulful synchronicity

Howard Hewett on seeing bandmates Jeffrey Daniel and Jody Watley perform live on TV, not realising he’d later feature alongside them in Shalamar: “Ah man, when Soul Train first came on, I was about 14, and had done music since I was around 10. By then I had a little r’n’b group in Akron, and on Saturdays at noon, like the rest of the country, we’d be in front of the TV watching it. It’s crazy – I’d watch Jeffrey and Jody, not knowing who they were nor that we were going to hook up years later, be in a group together. There was a club where all the Soul Train people used to come down on a weekend. Looking out at the audience, you’d see Lionel Ritchie, Richard Pryor, Chaka Khan – everyone used to hang at Maverick’s. It never had a liquor license, either because the area was so crazy or (owner) John Daniels was a little too cheap to get one! They used to make fruit smoothie drinks in the back. That didn’t deter people from coming to the club though. It was good times! A couple months after I first got down there, I met John Daniels. I helped him put together this group called Beverly Hills. Every time we had a show we wanted to try out, we’d play at Maverick’s Flat. That’s when I met Jeff. I was a fan of his and he says he was a fan of mine. It still took a couple of years, as I went overseas with the group first. I was over here for a little less than a year and a half. It was cool, but it was definitely meant to be.”

Youthful Vibe: Richie Malone added fresh vigour to Status Quo in 2017 (Photo: Christie Goodwin)

Francis Rossi, coming to terms with the death of fellow Status Quo veteran Rick Parfitt, and where the band goes from here: “It reminds oneself of one’s own mortality. But it’s interesting that some years ago when Richie used to come and see us with his dad, we met him at a soundcheck somewhere in Ireland, looked at him, and Rick said, ‘If I die, we should get him in’. We laughed, and he said, ‘No, I’ve got a better idea. We find a lookalike for you too, put them two out there, and we can stay at home and watch telly!’ That was Rick’s humour, something not everyone understands. People think we’re being irreverent or whatever. (On stage) we’d laugh about that, say how one of us might keel over. And it’s still possible. I’m at that age. My generation are dropping like fucking flies! But we burn the candle at both ends, and Rick had one burning in the middle as well!”

Seasonal Gift: Roland Gift, looking back and forward in 2017 and into 2018

Former Fine Young Cannibals front-man Roland Gift on how The Clash inspired him to get involved in music, initially through first band Acrylic Victims (later Akrylykz): “We supported The Clash at Bridlington, around 1980. Me and some mates went hitch-hiking, following them, then I got a job doing back-drops for them, down at the Music Machine. This fella I knew, Roger Hudson, knew tour manager, Johnny Green, and we’d turn up at gigs and get free passes. I was more of a fan than a contemporary. They were kind of the biggest of the bunch really. But I just liked being around it. You’d see gigs and people you’d seen at other gigs. You felt some sort of camaraderie. Also, The Clash played reggae as well. When punk started, people weren’t so sure, because of the swastikas and that, with the National Front on the rise. So something like The Clash playing reggae was a good invitation for someone like me to be a part of it.”

Band Substance: The Bootleg Beatles in live action, taking us back to 1967, with Steve ‘Bootleg Paul’ White, left

Bootleg Beatles bass player Steve White on swapping from right to left-hand playing to emulate his hero, Paul McCartney: “I was a right-handed rhythm guitar player in a John Lennon type role, but we’d turn up at venues and people would say, ‘You’ve got to be Paul, yeah?’ I wouldn’t say I look too much like him, but there’s a nod to that. So me and the bass player decided to swap over, leading to months of restructuring, learning harmonies and basslines. Then the audiences would ask if I was left-handed. So I thought I’d best have a go at that, teaching myself left-handed. For a while it was difficult, but over time it’s got easier. I can play left-handed now, and you’d never know I wasn’t, but it‘s always nice to go back. When I’m at home, playing for leisure, I’ll pick up a right-handed guitar and … well, the only way I can describe it is that it’s like putting on a comfy pair of slippers, as opposed to your work shoes.”

Bass Instinct: Peter Hook in live action (Photos by http://www.fb.com/connorgriffinphotography)

Peter Hook on the wild days of punk in Manchester, going to see the Sex Pistols: “We went to the Electric Circus, and it was bedlam! All hell had let loose. It was full of people outside, and they weren’t fans. They were just there because they’d seen the furore about Grundy. I remember all the punks queuing outside, and in the flats opposite these yobs were on the roof, throwing things over. It was absolutely bizarre. There was a set of railings, and they were removing spikes from them, throwing them like javelins. When we came out afterwards, it was the same, like a football crowd waiting. I remember the police were called. All the punks were saying, ‘Listen, we can’t get to our cars, up the road, can you help us?’ The police said, ‘Alright, run behind the van and we’ll escort you back.’ We all started running, and then the van just drove off and left us all to the mercy of all these football fans! Luckily, my mate’s car was pretty close. That was Terry Mason, who became our tour manager, so we managed to scramble in and get to safety. Then they came back about two weeks later and there was a sizeable crowd then – 600 to 800, something like that. The football supporters had come in by then, I suppose you’d say!”

Nobody’s Fools: 21st Century Slade. From left – Mal McNulty, Don Powell, Dave Hill and John Berry

Slade drummer Don Powell on the point when he realised it was time to finally give up the booze: “I haven’t (drunk) for 32 years now. I know, it’s incredible. I stopped drinking when Sharon Osbourne came after me and Ozzy with a shotgun. And she actually fired it at us. We just managed to get out of the way. You can imagine, can’t you, when your drinking partner is Ozzy Osbourne, it’s like … say no more.”

Reading Matter: On the shelf with writewyattuk.com in 2017 and beyond (Photo: Malcolm Wyatt)

That’ll do for this year then. Happy New Year to all our readers from the team at writewyattuk.com (yeah, I know, just me then), with far more fun and frolics to follow in what promises to be a happening 2018. Stick around, one and all, and thanks for your on-going support.  

 

 

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About writewyattuk

A freelance writer and family man being swept along on a wave of advanced technology, but somehow clinging on to reality. It's only a matter of time ... A highly-motivated scribbler with a background in journalism, business and life itself. Away from the features, interviews and reviews you see here, I tackle novels, short stories, copywriting, ghost-writing, plus TV, radio and film scripts for adults and children. I'm also available for assignments and write/research for magazines, newspapers, press releases and webpages on a vast range of subjects. You can also follow me on Facebook via https://www.facebook.com/writewyattuk/ and on Twitter via @writewyattuk. Legally speaking, all content of this blog (unless otherwise stated) is the intellectual property of Malcolm Wyatt and may only be reproduced with permission.
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