WriteWyattUK’s year in quotes, 2021 – part two (July to December)

As we draw closer to a new year, here’s the second half of my 12-month review of sorts, featuring quotes prised from the collected words of the WriteWyattUK website in 2021, this time involving the concluding six months, as yet another new variant of coronavirus stalks this land and we hobble towards January, our determination to keep on keeping on – Redskins style – hopefully seeing us towards a better world from here on in, with music, arts and the collective spirit showing the way. Upwards and onwards, one and all.

July

Mick Shepherd and Simon Dewhurst, of The Amber List, who released their splendid debut LP, The Ache of Being in 2021, on the band’s ‘been around the block a few times’ attitude to making music:

Mick: “We’re doing it for the love of the music. There’s no pretence. We’ve been around long enough to get past all the fads and fashions in music. It’s beyond all that. It’s about creating something that’s lasting … and good.”

Simon: “I think the beauty is that we’ve all dabbled and been there before. We’re a bit more ‘eyes open’. When I joined, we sat down and discussed our aims and what we were trying to do with this. And we all came with the same viewpoint. We weren’t looking to get signed or become the biggest band in the world. It was always about the music and the songs, communicating that.”

Edinburgh-based singer-songwriter Dot Allison, formerly of One Dove, blesses her luck in a year that she released her tremendous Heart-Shaped Scars solo album:

“I’ve always felt very … I guess gratitude. I appreciate the things that have happened. It’s been a privilege. And I wrote two songs with Hal David … when I got that call, I was … ‘what the …!’. So there are those moments. And what’s not known is that Paul Weller asked me to write a song with him. He said, ‘I’m with Bobby Gillespie, he says you’re good, do you fancy writing a song together? He’s given me your number’. I was like, ‘What! Is this a wind-up?’. Then Pete Doherty also asked me to write with him. I did ask to write with Hal David though.”

Dublin indie singer-songwriter Keeley Moss, who finally got to play live with her band after a frantic year of recording, writing and looking to spread the word about her music and cause, explaining her compulsion to dedicate all her songs to Inga Maria Hauser, the German tourist killed in the North of Ireland in 1988,aged just 18:

“Ever since coming upon Inga’s case back in 2016, I became totally fascinated by the circumstances, and my two key interests in life had always been music and true crime, ever since I was a child. And I felt so moved and inspired by Inga and her story, I felt such an urge to get involved and try and do all I could.

“The case had been dormant for a number of years prior to commencing the writing of The Keeley Chronicles, and I wasn’t in any way deterred by that. I thought this is the most important thing I’ve ever read about, so just give it gusto and approach it with pride and passion, and after researching Inga’s case, I published part one of the blog, which to my amazement went viral on the first day in 2016.

“To me it was a logical step to want to bring Inga and her story into my sonic field and start to write about her. It was all I was thinking about, so it was all I wanted to write about. To pool and fuse the fields of music and true crime together, something I believe has never been done before. No one has made an album about a murder victim, certainly never composed an entire body of work in honour of and about a murder victim and a murder case. But that’s what I’m determined to do, that’s what I’m doing, and that’s what I’m going to do.”  

Kim Wilde, who brought out the Pop Don’t Stop greatest hits compilation and was the subject of Marcel Rijs’ tie-in biography in 2021, four decades after ‘Kids in America’ had us take her to our hearts, responds to my suggestion that the Minimoog sound her brother/bandmate Ricky utilises on that debut 45 stands the test of time.

“Oh, it really has! It’s a magnificent record, and Ricky’s talent at that time was so precocious. He was only 18 or 19 years old but was listening to Ultravox and Gary Numan, the Skids, the Sex Pistols, Kraftwerk, and The Stranglers – all of those great bands. And we were brought up with rock’n’roll. And somehow all of it came together. There’s even a bit of Abba in there, y’know.”

Funny you should say that. It’s very much of its time but still fresh. In fact, it’s almost like you’re backed by The Attractions, and I know Elvis Costello tipped his hat to classic pop, specifically Abba, as heard on ‘Oliver’s Army’ and its ‘Dancing Queen’ motif. So maybe it all makes more sense in retrospect.

“It does, yeah. I mean, pop music was influenced by Elvis Costello’s ‘Pump It Up’, and I’m a huge Elvis Costello fan. I had all his albums in my collection, and still have. I used to love the diversity and loved it when he moved into country music and introduced me to all the country artists I’d never heard before, like George Jones. And I fell in love with that music. Yeah, he was a really important inspiration for me personally and for Ricky, and I really enjoyed that amazing book he wrote.”

August

Composer, arranger and multi-instrumentalist Hannah Peel, now based in Donegal, joyfully reflects on her 2021 Mercury Prize nomination for Fir Wave, her re-interpretation of the original music of 1972 KPM 1000 series: Electrosonic – the Music of Delia Derbyshire and the Radiophonic Workshop, a decade after debut solo LP The Broken Wave truly set out her creative stall:

“I’ve always dreamed of having a record Mercury-nominated. Anybody who releases records that have an aspiring feel to it … I think every record I’ve ever worked on has probably been submitted. But you kind of get used to, ‘Ach, no, I’m not on a big label, I don’t have a lot of press money and I can’t push a lot of things’, which is ultimately what happens – it gets attention, gets listened to, and that’s what influences the judges as well.

“The fact that it’s a little self-release and they’ve listened and taken note is just amazing. I’m so thankful.”

Han Mee, of Manchester indie rockers Hot Milk, on the back of their in-your-face I Just Wanna Know What Happens When I’m Dead EP, gets pensive:

“I’m kind of optimistic, but naturally a pessimist. My mum’s nodding at me! I’ll say I’m a realist. I’ve seen the worst of people the last five years or so, generally jaded about humans. We’re innately selfish to a degree. But then I see kids coming through that have such liberal minds and are so optimistic about the future, and think, ‘I used to be like that!’. That does give you a bit of faith. They’re not jaded like I am.”

Howard Smith, four decades after ending his playing days behind the drum-kit with The Vapors, whose first two records got the anthology treatment in 2021, reflects on how it all began for him and bandmates Ed Bazalgette and Steve Smith, joining David Fenton’s fledgling new wave outfit all those years ago:

“Ed joined and did some gigs, then Steve and I joined, and we had a week or two to get ready for the first gig. My father ran the launderette in Stoke Road (Guildford, Surrey), with two flats above, one of which Ed and I twisted his arm into renting, the other one empty. Dad wasn’t money-minded at all, renting them out was too much hassle. So we persuaded him to let us use the other flat as rehearsal space. That may have been some attraction for Dave saying, ‘Let’s get Howard in the band’! Having a drummer with free rehearsal space …

“Dave was working at the fruit and veg shop in Market Street and got loads of packaging, which we plastered the walls with to sound-proof. But we literally had two weeks to the first gig with me and Steve, and I still remember my drums set-up in the living room of this flat, us all crowded in there with amps and stuff, trying to learn every single song. And that (Godalming College) setlist is basically all the songs we had to learn, songs we inherited from the previous incarnation of the band.

“After that … well, Dave was writing songs regularly, so we were working out those ourselves, with some input into their creation. And of those originals, some songs were dropped. With some of them I’m not sure any of us can actually remember how they go now.”

Jim Bob Morrison proved again in 2021 there was still plenty of life in the ex-frontman of Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine, his Who Do We Hate Today LP impressing, its creator revealing how snappily-titled, infectious feelgood single, ‘Song For the Unsung (You’re So Modest You’ll Never Think This Song Is About You)’ came about.

“’Song for the Unsung’ was the last song I wrote for the album, when I realised all the others kind of painted a fairly pessimistic picture. I literally did think, let’s say something a bit positive for a change. I think most people in this country just want to get on with their lives. They don’t necessarily have strong opinions, yet that’s what we constantly tend to hear – strong opinions – just because they’re the loudest.

“And because I’m almost masochistic about the things I look at on (Twitter), I find myself telling someone else about it. Maybe I’ll say something about Laurence Fox, and they’ll say, ‘Who’s Laurence Fox?’. Then you realise it’s not necessarily troubling the majority of people at all.”

Multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter Newton Faulkner on how he coped during the first Covid-19 lockdowns, with the help of his family in his East London home studio, and what drove him on to complete Interference (of Light):

“I didn’t do anything in the first lockdown. I went in the studio, sat and stared out of the window – I was confused, and scared. I didn’t really feel like playing guitar. I wanted to understand what was going on. There were massive ups and downs, creatively and in terms of how you were feeling about life in general and yourself. Sometimes I was very focused and incredibly hard-working, working hours and hours and hours, other times I’d go in and …oh no. Everyone creatively seems to have been in the same boat.

“I dug myself a trap when I was promoting (2019’s) The Very Best Of – I went around telling everyone in all the interviews I did that the next thing I did would sound really different. But I completed a curve or thought process and that had come to a natural conclusion, then after that it was a different kind of time period. When you told a lot of people that, you really have to pull something out of the bag! One of the reasons I told anyone that would listen is because I really wanted to force myself to have to get out of my comfort zone and go down different paths, make different noises … and it really worked.”

September

Dutch indie bandleader Pip Blom looking forward to the band’s return to the UK this summer just gone, contemplating life back on the road with her bandmates:

“I’m very curious to see what’s going to happen when we play. I’m not sure that I’m going to be very nervous, but I do feel there’s going to be a lot of adrenaline – just the feeling of people being there. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. I hope I won’t get too nervous, but we’ll see.”

Saint Etienne singer Sarah Cracknell contemplating 2021’s impressive I’ve Been Trying to Tell You, an LP all about optimism, youth and the late ‘90s, at a time when we all needed some of that again.

“For the last 18 months to two years, there’s not been a lot of optimism, and there was around then … although slightly misguided optimism perhaps. It’s about exploring that, and how you can remember things not quite as they were – a bit blurry, through gauze. You don’t remember the intricacies. You just have a feeling about it.”

Public Service Broadcasting mastermind J. Willgoose Esq. talking about his surprise that Blixa Bargeld, veteran of The Bad Seeds and Einstürzende Neubauten, would even contemplate being involved with one of his records, having guested on the band’s love-letter to Berlin, Bright Magic.

“I think that’s the first time in all our collaborations it was suggested by the label rather than coming from me. Not because Blixa and Einstürzende Neubauten weren’t on my radar, but I just thought, ‘Why would he want anything to do with us?’. I didn’t have the audacity to ask him! But when someone asks if we’d thought about it and said, ‘I can put you in touch,’ it was, ‘Well, put me in touch, but he won’t be interested’. But then they came back, said he was interested, and I was saying, ‘Are you sure they’ve spoken to him? Is it just someone asking on his behalf?’. They assured me he was, and I said again, ‘Are you sure?’.

Comic, juggler, broadcaster and Britain’s Got Talent finalist Steve Royle recalling his 2013 role as compere at a book launch show for his pal Michael Pennington, aka Johnny Vegas, on Steve’s adopted patch in Chorley, Lancashire:

“That was a mad night, wasn’t it? I think I left at three in the morning, and he still hadn’t finished signing all the books! Unbelievable. I’ve spoken about that night to so many people as an example of just how lovely he is. You didn’t just get your book signed, you got a personal 10-minute experience with Johnny Vegas and a personalised book. I think I was only hanging around to get my copy signed. He said, ‘I’ll do yours last’. Bloody hell! But it was a very elaborate copy when he finally did it.”

October

Virtuoso musician and singer Liam Ó Maonlaí on his earlier days touring with Dublin outfit Hothouse Flowers on the back of their initial chart success:

“Just having the gift of music … music did all the talking for us. It was the consummation of our friendship, really. We weren’t always the best at talking, but a good gig … there’s nothing like it, to share an experience like that. And three of us are still together … and we’re very rich for having those experiences shared.

Do you and your fellow Flowers tend to chat on the phone, or is it a case of turning up on the doorstep these days?

“Well, the friendship is on the stage actually, we don’t see much of each other bar significant life events these days. But when we do get to see each other, we’re really glad to. And that’s the way our friendship sort of works. There’ll be the odd phone call, alright, but …”

Does the conversation carry on where it last left off?

“Yeah, and there’s always great excitement when we get together. We’ve known each other for a long, long time now.”

To the point that you’re finishing each other’s sentences?

“Err, maybe … sometimes … or sometimes just stopping them dead in their tracks!”

Writer, poet, broadcaster and award-winning producer Henry Normal on helping pull together Mrs Merton and The Royle Family with Caroline Aherne and Craig Cash:

“The lovely thing is I was paid to sit in a room with funny people. Caroline, beyond the television, was a funny person anyway. When the bosses used to come up from London, we worked on the sixth floor at Granada, they’d have a chat with us, then when they left, Caroline would open the window and shout down to them, these big top brass, ‘Do a funny walk!’. And because she was so cheeky and charming, they would do a funny walk across the road. I love that she wasn’t over-awed by authority. She had that little devilment. If she didn’t feel like writing, we’d go on a Granada tour, go shopping, or go for a bite to eat. Most days we’d probably only write for a couple of hours.

“I was definitely the responsible one. I’d write it all down then type it all up. Even when we were doing Mrs Merton, when we had Dave Gorman writing with us. There’d be four of us, but I’d be the one writing it down. I got paid as a script editor as well as a writer, which was quite nice. I was the only one with a computer. But it was such good fun, and nobody ever worried if you told a bad joke. You’ve got to be able to fail in creativity as well and push the boundaries. And you don’t know where the boundaries are, until you’ve crossed them.”  

Dean Leggett, of late-‘80s and early ‘90s indie favourites BOB on the story behind the recording of their Berlin Independence Days LP, and how it somehow took 30 years to get its vinyl release:

“We had a very basic soundcheck, about three in the afternoon. There were other things happening around the city, all being recorded for German radio, and we had to be there at half four to go on at five or half five on the dot. We weren’t allowed to drink or swear or take too long talking between songs. Everything was mic’d up, it would go straight to a sound deck, mixed by our engineer, Chris, a cable going out the back of the building to a van with a huge dish on top, fired to the radio tower on the front of the record sleeve {Berliner Fernsehturm, aka Berlin TV Tower}.

“We were all on form and played really well, so Richard said to Chris, ‘I want you to go out there and get the tape, and I don’t want you to come back until you’ve got it’. Ha! Two hours later, he came back with the reel-to-reel tape. The radio guy said, ‘You can have these, but we want them back’. I don’t know how he persuaded him. Then, 29 years later, Richard gets the tape, bakes it in an oven – as you have to – put it in his computer and up pop the tracks, tweaked a bit where necessary, and I sent it to Ian (Allcock) at Optic Nerve, who initially wasn’t sure about putting out a live album, but then listened and said, ‘Let’s put it out – it’s great!’ The quality’s that good.”

Echo & the Bunnymen guitar legend Will Sergeant on his new-found love of writing, working on his life story, the first volume of which, Bunnyman: A Memoir, got its release in 2021:

“It’s nice, like having a time machine. With the first one, a lot of it was about being a kid, and that was great, going back to then and what we used to get up to, all those scallywag things we used to do.”

You’re not so far from that patch now, around 10 miles from your Melling, Lancashire, roots, right?

“Yeah, if that. I just like it round here. When we were bigger, in our heyday – I was going to say massive, but we were never massive – loads of bands moved to London, and it was like, ‘Why move to London?’. It was full of fakers.

“To me, London seemed to be too many people scrambling around. We were trying not to do that. We turned down more things than we did. Even if there was some band on down there we didn’t like the look of, or they had the wrong trousers on or something. ‘We’re not going on with them,’ y’know. ‘They’re shit!’. London felt a bit like that, everyone too desperately trying to impress the local A&R man and all that stuff.”

Linda Jennings and Nick Davidson, whose late ‘80s ‘criminally-unheard Manchester noisemakers’ Magic Roundabout finally saw the release of their cult debut, 30-plus years on thanks to a label set up by Jack White, reflected on the band’s short spell together:

“We played in Leeds in this upstairs room at the Three Legs pub, one of the roughest then. It was around April/May ’87. We supported Loop that night. They lost their licence the next day, because it was so loud! There were only about 20 or so there, but Ian {Masters, his band Pale Saints hailing from Leeds} liked us, approached us after, and we swapped addresses. We’ve been friends since. He’s been a great supporter of the band.

“We were together for around two years, but for around nine or so months it was really intense. For some mad reason we decided we’d live in a band house, moving to Nottingham. We just thought that was what bands did … like The Monkees! We left Manchester, because we didn’t like the Happy Mondays and all that shite! But it was the death of us really.”

Linda: “Yeah. It was all, ‘Your turn to wash up!’, ‘No, you do it! I’m making tea!’. It was like The Young Ones.”

Nick: “We were 18 or 19. We had no social skills. We had rehearsals in the house, brought dustbins in and played them.”

Linda: “I missed all my friends as well. I was homesick for them … not my parents.”

November

Devonian multi-instrumentalist Seth Lakeman on how his second solo album, released 15 years ago, truly marked his arrival on the established crossover indie folk scene:

“I think that was the first time I really understood the process of making a whole album, where each song is like a chapter of a book. The full concept of an album also struck me, that’s where the Dartmoor legends and stories came from, and that’s the arrival of Kitty Jay.

“Lots of things were coming into play there, such as learning to sing with a violin, learning about the tenor guitar, things like that … experimenting with sound, really.

“Sharing stories about real people and their efforts, and celebrating them in song, that’s something I’ve always loved. Singing about where you come from, making sure people are aware of that – you don’t want to lose sight of your roots. So many times we step over into Americana, which I have, and we love to do that, but it’s always good to find those stories right here, back at home.”

Wolfhounds frontman David Callahan, who played shows with his band as well as dates of his own in 2021, while releasing his acclaimed English Primitive I solo record, talking about the inspiration for that record’s opener, ‘Born of the Welfare State Was I’, and his continuing appreciation of the NHS and state provision:

“Yeah, there’s a lot of that, and about how I literally do think – like it says in the first line of the song – it’s the very peak of civilisation, the Welfare State, we’re one of the richest countries in the Western world there’s ever been, and can afford to support the people who are falling behind or who aren’t as able as others. The danger is, as heard in the song and the accompanying video, that under the surface we’re taking it too much for granted, and gradually – ever since Tony Blair got in – the Governments have been chipping away at the NHS and other parts of the Welfare State, farming them out to private companies, who certainly won’t be considering their clients with too much empathy.

“But as I discovered this morning, because I’ve got a friend who’s a doctor, it says in the song about – half-jokingly – how we don’t have scurvy and rickets anymore. But we do! They’re back. So we need it more than ever, at a time when the whole thing is being eroded by vested interests.”

South Wales-based singer Hue Williams, of Swansea Sound, who released their debut LP, Live at the Rum Puncheon, and played their first live shows in 2021, reminiscing about his Pooh Sticks past:

“There was also this thing of, you know, ‘the ironic Pooh Sticks’, but we liked that C86 scene as much as we were sneering about it. It was a slight love/hate thing, but we liked a lot of it. And without sounding pompous, the positive thing is that it was inclusive enough to let a pair of oiks like us kind of enter the territory. And it’s completely true that the whole idea at the beginning was that we never ever thought all these years later we’d still be talking about it.

“Again without sounding pompous, it was a project in the sense that we were never trying to fool anyone. We were never a band in that we wanted to do a few demo tapes and send them out to labels. We thought it would be fun and funny to make a record, which we did, then created quite quickly this fucking monster we couldn’t control!”

December

Former Catatonia singer turned solo artist, radio and television broadcaster Cerys Matthews, on the back of guesting on the Guy Chambers-penned soundtrack of new Sky Cinema release A Christmas No.1, recalling her late-‘90s invite to record with Tom Jones on a festive cover of ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’, on the back of her duet with Tommy Scott on Space’s ‘The Ballad of Tom Jones’:

“In my memory, I’d done that with Space, it was riding pretty high in the charts, and it was kind of set up live on television. Was it a Welsh programme, The Pop Factory? Or CD-UK? I can’t remember. But in my memory, it was a TV show, we phoned Tom Jones, and that conversation was the first time I’d probably come into contact with him. Somebody said, ‘Would you do a duet?’ Or maybe I asked Tom, ‘Would you do a duet with me?’. Something like that. 

“I was like, ‘Absolutely. I’d love to do a duet with you’, and he said the same. It was only a few weeks following that conversation where his son and manager Mark, got in touch, said, ‘Listen, we’re gonna do this album of duets. We want you to be involved, have a think about what you want to sing, here are some choices we were thinking of. What do you reckon?’. I was like, ‘Oh my God, I want the Frank Loesser song!’. My voice kind of goes with that sort of character song.”

Was your ‘bloody freezin’, innit’ line a spur of the moment ad lib?

“Oh God, yeah, absolutely! The whole setup was recorded as if it was in the 1940s, with Ian Thomas on drums, a big band set-up, and I was sharing the same vocal booth as Tom, which is quite extraordinary because we’ve both got such different voices. Don’t know how the engineers managed that. And he kind of nudged me, elbowed me in the middle of the song, and you hear me go, ‘whoop!’. We had so much fun, and it was just three takes.”

California-born, London-based Jetstream Pony – their latest LP Misplaced Words released this year – singer/Micky Dolenz-esque tambourine shaker Beth Arzy on her continuing love for The Monkees, in an interview shortly before Mike Nesmith died, Beth also featuring this year with Mary Wyer and Julian Knowles of Even as we Speak under the name Tapioca Tundra (from a classic Nesmith track) on a Spinout Nuggets double A-side, covering ‘Sometime In The Morning’:

“Oh God, I love The Monkees, they were my first favourite band ever. It’s my comfort blanket. It’s everything. My cousins were like my sisters, they gave me their hand-me-down records when I was little. So I thought they were children’s records. I had my little Dansette, and when I was like three years old, I started listening to The Monkees. It was probably the first lyrics other than ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ type stuff that I knew.

“We were meant to play with Even as we Speak at The Lexington during lockdown, and it got cancelled. So I was talking to Mary and it came up one day, because we were going to do that cover. She was also a big fan, and we were talking about our favourite Monkees song, like, ‘Oh, that’s mine, too!’ and ‘Who’s your favourite?’. We really bonded over many things, one of them a love of The Monkees.

“She said, ‘It sucks that we can’t do the gig, but we can still do the song’. I was like, ‘I can’t do anything, I can’t play anything, what can we do?’. So we roped in Julian, and he created this amazing, beautiful composition of everything that needed to be there. Then Mary and I dropped in our bits, Tony from The Pop Guns made a video for us, then Lee from Spinout Nuggets … I was hinting one day, ‘Holy fuck, this song – it’s really nice, d’you want to hear it?’ and he was like, ‘Oh, I’d love to release that!’.

“And it just so happens that Sounds Incarcerated, who are Alan {Crockford} – from The Prisoners – together with Viv {Bonsels}, both from The Galileo 7, had been doing lockdown songs as well, and did a version of ‘The Porpoise Song’. So I said, ‘I’ve an idea for the other side! It’s not really like an A and B-side, it’s a joint effort. So that happened, then Micky Dolenz retweeted it on Twitter!”.

Richard Houghton, author/editor of Queen – A People’s History, on seeing Mercury, May, Deacon and Taylor live at Hyde Park, London in the summer of ’76:  

“That was the first gig I went to on my own. Previously, my mum had taken me to see The Beatles, Sacha Distel, Cliff Richard and various others at the London Palladium in the ‘60s. I was with my friend, Roger, it was September 18, we’d been to a football match that afternoon, Arsenal against Everton. We arrived early enough to see the infamous appearance by Kiki Dee. She’d just had a No.1 with Elton John with ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart’. The rumour was that Elton was going to appear on stage with her, but she actually appeared with a cardboard cut-out of Elton. The urban myth is that they had an argument backstage and that’s why he didn’t go on. But that would suggest they manufactured a cardboard cut-out of him rather quickly!

“We were quite a way away for Queen, but it was a free concert, like the (Rolling) Stones and Pink Floyd and others had done in Hyde Park in the late ‘60s, the sort of gig that now you would easily pay upwards of £100 for. I remember the lights particularly, because of the marquee-style tent they used. It was getting dark, with the effects quite spectacular, a lot of dry ice and smoke bombs. It was a real sense of occasion, a real coming together, Queen saying to their British fans, ‘thanks very much’. ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ had already been a big hit around the world, and they didn’t play many gigs in ’76.

“It was a fantastic day out, and on the back of the fact that Queen weren’t fashionable with music critics. There was that famous NME headline, ‘Is this man a prat?’. The music press at the time didn’t seem to like Freddie and Brian and Roger and John because they were college boys, and college boys weren’t supposed to be down and dirty rock’n’rollers. And there was tension between what Queen were and what they represented, Brian doing his astrophysics degree at Imperial College, London. They were all a bit too posh for the papers, which they knew and didn’t care, and the fans didn’t care either. There were 100,000 people in Hyde Park, but it was almost like a secret gathering. You know, ‘we can’t tell anybody else we’re here, but we’re proud to be here because we’re Queen fans’.

Journalist turned music writer Richard Balls, author of A Furious Devotion – The Authorised Story of Shane MacGowan, on how he caught The Pogues supporting Elvis Costello at the University of East Anglia in his home city, Norwich in 1984:

“I was 17, a massive fan of Elvis Costello. That was the first time I’d ever seen him, and I was really excited to see him in Norwich, this sell-out gig. I got there and this band were on stage, and I could hear this clattering going on, thinking what on earth is this? I literally had no reference point for what I was looking at.

“These guys, and Cait was obviously there as well, wearing old-fashioned suits, with the exception of Dexys, I suppose, on Too Rye Ay, playing instruments that were not seen in mainstream pop. And this was in the hedonistic times of Wham! singing about ‘Club Tropicana’ and Duran Duran singing on yachts, this band right at the other end of the spectrum, playing this kind of roots music.

“I remember them playing ‘Boys from the County Hell’ at that gig, ‘Streams of Whiskey’ and those kind of songs, so it was probably the faster songs and the fact you had Spider (Stacy) smashing a beer tray off his head pretty much throughout the set, while Shane was wandering about quite drunk, and Cait (O’Riordan) looked quite aggressive.

“The whole thing was very visual, in keeping with a lot of other Stiff Records acts. That’s probably the one thing they had in common with other people on Stiff down the years. There were a lot of them, and they were like a band of brothers.”

So there you have it. Another year over, a new one just begun (almost). Peace and love, as John’s old pal Ringo would put it.

With less than two days to go in 2021 (and for those who hate stats, look away now), it seems we’re on for another record-breaking year, with 5,500-plus reads this month taking us to more than 95,000 annual views for a second successive year, and more than 400,000 in the last five years. That means more than 570,000 total views since my first tentative web post on here in late March 2012, a big anniversary on its way.

So thanks for all your support and input this year and every other, and cheers to all those who answered their phones, swapped messages or picked up those video calls in 2021. All very much appreciated. Plenty of plans for 2022, so stay tuned. And here’s to a happy new year and a far healthier one all round. Over and out, ye discerning folk.

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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2 Responses to WriteWyattUK’s year in quotes, 2021 – part two (July to December)

  1. Well clearly you didn’t spend the year on the couch, Malcolm! Well done on another amazing year of interviews and features. All the best for ’22.

  2. writewyattuk says:

    Ah, thanks, with love to all at Vinyl Connection HQ. Yes, tough times, and still no financial incentive to add all these posts, but … well, we’ve just got to do it, right? Congratulations on another successful year on your site too. Happy new year!

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