With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

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

“The lights go out and I can’t be saved” March 14, 2019

Filed under: Trivia — justwilliam1959 @ 2:34 am
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William Willett

My beautiful wife Catherine a.k.a Catwoman is far more active than I am, so much so that she subscribes to Country Walking magazine and I subscribe to the sedentary Q and Mojo! Anyway which of those threw up the best and perhaps most musically related fact recently? You guessed it, none other than the December 2018 issue of Country Walking.  So last weekend our American friends across the pond slipped their clocks back an hour, well most states did, Then in a couple of weeks the UK clocks go back an hour to hit British summertime. Why did we do that? Was it Farmers? Was it the postal service? Was it World War 1? Was it School Children? Actually it was none of those. In reality it was the brainchild of William Willett. His steadfast belief was that money was wasted by not changing; less  productivity in the darker mornings and power for lighting in the evening. He also enjoyed playing golf in the evening so his campaign which hit pay-dirt in 1916, the year after his death was somewhat selfish.

Chris Martin

I can almost hear you asking what the hell has this got to do with music? Well that William Willett bloke is none other than the great-great- grandfather of Chris Martin off of Coldplay. Of course and so appropriately Coldplay had a hit with a song called “Clocks”, which made the UK top 10 for the band in 2003.

 

Mayhem’s Unsung Heroes – Betty the Tea Lady at Wessex Studios March 12, 2019


 

Betty the lady that made Big Tea with the Boyz That Made Big Noize

This is the first in what I hope will be a reasonably regular feature to give some airtime to those unsung folks that played an important part in music history. Back in July 2017 I posted an article about the recording of the Queen classic “We Will Rock You” after reading a piece in Classic Rock magazine. Click here to read that post. The band and Producer Roy Thomas Baker wanted to get a full and powerful stomp to back it up. Everyone in the studio was rounded up to provide that now familiar stomping and clapping refrain, essentially everyone stamped their feet twice and clapped their hands on the offbeat. Incidentally no drums were used on the track. Now not only was everyone in the studio involved but so was Betty the Tea Lady. No one remembers much about her other than her name was Betty, she made the tea at Wessex Sound Studios in North London and that she lived next door to the studio. Well after adding a plea for information about Betty I have heard from two of her five children. Sadly, Betty passed away eleven years ago. However, I had a long and delightful telephone conversation with Betty’s daughter Rosemary. It was Rosemary that drew the short straw and was nominated to do the interview on behalf of herself and her four siblings (a.k.a. “The Other Four”). She walked me through a wonderful potted history of her mother.

Mike Batt at Wessex Studios with the Kursaal Flyers

The studio itself used to be a Sunday School and one of the main recording areas used to be a classroom. It first became a studio in the 1960s and at various times it was owned by Bill Price, songwriter Les Reed, Chrysalis Records and George Martin was a director for a time. Betty worked at Wessex Studios for 27 years after replying to an advert that was posted on a tree. Many famous and successful bands and singers recorded at Wessex including the Sex Pistols, King Crimson, the Clash, Theatre of Hate, XTC, Slade, Queen, Talk Talk, the Rolling Stones, Pete Townshend and The Damned. Betty, who in addition to carrying out the tea lady duties, also covered the reception desk and met many of them. She got on particularly well with King Crimson. There was always a picture of Queen on the serving hatch. According to her daughter Betty was one of those sadly too rare people who have an innate ability to get on with anyone. Betty and her family, she had five kids including one set of triplets, lived in a flat very close to the studio.

Never Mind The Sex Pistols Here’s the Lapsang Souchong

Rosemary said that she sometimes went to the studio to help her Mum and on one occasion Betty asked her to take a tray of tea to the Sex Pistols. Apparently, Rosemary really wasn’t impressed by the band and told her Mum. Betty’s response was that in her experience the Sex Pistols were always very polite and always behaved respectfully towards her. Betty was invited to many award ceremonies as a part of the studio team and to all the studio parties. For one fancy dress party Betty dressed as a punk in bin liners and safety pins. British comedy legend Roy Kinnear filmed some film scenes in Betty’s flat. On another occasion Mike Batt could be found watching The Wombles on the TV in Betty’s flat. Mike, a big cricket fan, bought one of Betty’s sons a cricket bat. People who worked or recorded at the studio really loved Betty. The Singing Nun of “Dominique” fame sang at Rosemary’s wedding. Many of the acts who recorded at Wessex gave Betty a thank you credit on their albums. Slade even named their 1987 album ‘You Boyz Make Big Noize’ after Betty had heard them and uttered that very phrase, albeit probably not spelled the Slade way. Betty loved music and particularly loved to dance. In her younger days she would often visit the Palais. I am sure that Wessex Studios would not have been the same without Betty, she truly is an unsung music history hero!

Public Service Announcement: If Any of the pictures are yours and you would like a credit or would like them removed please let me know

 

Faux Pas – Fulford Arms, York 28th February 2019 March 8, 2019

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 9:49 pm
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Does anyone not love the Fulford Arms? You don’t well come and see me and let me educate you. This place is an awesome small, intimate venue where a fabulous range of great acts play. On top of all that the staff are a fab bunch too! Tonight the headliners in a show promoted by Under The Influence were the rather fabulous Faux Pas. But more about them later, first to take the stage were Pura Vida (my research tells me that this means pure life or simple life in Costa Rica) a northern powerhouse of a band from Yorkshire. It is just over a year since I last saw them play live and they are still incredibly difficult to pin down to a single genre. Tonight I had a great post punk vibe from them sprinkled with some Factory Records fairy dust. Some of the guitar work was reminiscent of John Squire at his Stone Roses peak they also performed an excellent cover of the Cure’s “Love Song” and they have some great self penned songs too. If you set out to not like this band you would fail, so don’t even try immerse yourself in a pure and simple life with the music of Pura Vida.

Next were the staggeringly talented Lost Trends from York. Why the hell are this band not absolutely huge? They had a few months sabbatical but they are back with a bang that could be measured in megatons or on the Richter Scale. Their new EP ‘Time’ is a finely honed gem. Not many bands are able to combine the indie style with hard-hitting funky dance floor anthems while maintaining a punky attitude. One of the many things that I love about Lost Trends is that wherever they are on the bill and whoever else is playing they rock the stage as though they are the headliners, they never hold back. They treated the crowd to a towering version of “Time” which is a tune you have to move to, Peter Knaggs guitar on this track alone would run the Edge close. The highlight of their set for me was a floor shaking attack of one of their slightly older songs “DJ”. This is perhaps the fifth time I have seen them live and I hope it won’t be long before that runs in to double figures.

Now for the electrifying headliners Faux Pas, I first saw them late last year when their single “Shame” had just been released. They have a never-ending supply of power and energy. Ru Cowl is perhaps one of the finest front men around at the moment. While his image may draw on a punk ethos he is a complete original. The summer dress, badly applied lipstick and the word RUNT scrawled across his chest can only be pulled off by someone with courage and of course talent. Without talent it would be all image, but FauxPas have talent in abundance. Apparently the literal translation of Faux Pas from French to English is ‘false step’, as for Faux Pas the band there is nothing false about them, they are most definitely ‘4 Real’. This show is part of a tour to promote their current single “TV Made Me Paranoid”. The song builds from a slow almost menacing start into something akin to Placebo on steroids. If they are playing your town make sure you’re there, that’s an order!

 

“Road On Which We Travel” – Reatha Pitman March 2, 2019

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 4:15 pm
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When I was a kid and into my teenage years I really couldn’t bring myself to like country and western music, largely because my parents were fans and frankly liking what your parents liked really wasn’t cool. However as I have grown older I find myself becoming much more of a country and western fan, just to add another genre to my already eclectic taste. Largely this came about through what Rick Rubin did with Johnny Cash and rediscovering Willie Nelson, Billie Jo Spears (my Dad loved “Blanket On The Ground”) and particularly Roseanne Cash. Well now there’s a new country singer on the block, her name is Reatha Pitman and she released a fabulous debut country driven EP late last year called “Road On Which We Travel”. 

It keeps very close to traditional country and western in both stylistic delivery and indeed subject matter. These songs are directly from Reatha’s life and her heart. She writes her own songs and you can sense the sometimes delicate balance between happiness and hurt. The EP kicks off with “Hittin’ The Road” which I think is about leaving a cheating partner. It suggests someone who is confident in her decision to leave the ‘love rat’ protagonist.  “Daddy’s Little Girl” for me shows a woman who loves her Daddy with the unconditional love that often exists in a relationship between a child and their father or mother. I understand that feeling because I had that strong bond with my father and I still do with my mother. I love the flow and lyrics of “Darlin’ He’s Yours” which on first listen seems like a mild put down of a previous lover who has left, but it packs a mighty horseshoe encased in its velvet glove delivery. This is a classy début and it bodes incredibly well for the album that Reatha is working on which will hopefully see release later this year.

If you love country music then you must check this lady out. Even if you don’t consider yourself a country fan give it a listen, you might be very, pleasantly surprised! Click here to find the EP on Spotify. Reatha lives in Long Beach, MS on the beach and performs locally along the Mississippi Gulf Coast and into Alabama and Louisiana. I recently interviewed Reatha via Skype, look out for that on this blog very soon. I can tell you that she is delightful, eloquent and in possession of a great sense of humour. She is clearly very passionate about her music too. Bob Harris if you’re reading this you need to check out Reatha for your BBC Radio 2 show!

 

“Unrealities” – Dying Habit February 20, 2019

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 1:42 pm
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Dying Habit are a hidden gem of a band from Bangor in North Wales. They are very new to me but they have been around since 2014. On the strength of their current single “Unrealities” they have the talent to go on to much bigger things. Vocalist Nathan Jones has a unique style which perfectly suits the emotion and passion bared in the song. Guitarist Alan Hart sounds very much on the top of his game mixing softer sweeping tones with some much harder riffs. the rhythm section of bassist Steve Allen and drummer Mark Jones complete a band that really seem to have their shit together. Dying Habit are very much an easy habit to get into. Like some of their influences; Therapy? and the Smashing Pumpkins they tackle many of the issues that  face society today, notably mental health. “Unrealities” I believe is about controlling your inner demons and not letting them impact on others. Dying Habit are a powerful band with an even more powerful message, trust me you NEED this band in your life!

 

“Dissident” – Black Lakes February 19, 2019


Black Lakes are a very, very heavy band hailing from South Wales and South West England. If you like your riffs heavy and your rock hard this band is definitely for you. Their new single “Dissident” envelopes you in a magnificent cocoon of sublime melodic metal music with a menacing undertone. Vocalist Will S Preston is among the best rock vocalists that I have heard in recent years. The Panzer like sonic attack of guitarists Scott Bradshaw and James Rowlands climbs through your skull to bounce round in your brain for hours after listening. Meanwhile Lee Harris and Dafydd Fuller drive the tune so hard that their instruments might have been forged in Mordor.

“Dissident” originally saw the light of day last year as part of a powerful three track EP ‘The Divide’ along with the title track, “The Divide” and “Ghosts (Of Our Memories)”. The latter is much softer and, excuse the pun, almost haunting in the way the voices wash over you. Black Lakes write some great tunes, but they are more than just a typical metal band, their music has passion and emotion in abundance. I understand that these tracks were produced by Romesh Dodangoda  who has worked with Bring Me The Horizon, Motorhead and Bullet for my Valentine to name just a few. Trust me it just takes one listen and you will be hooked. I need to see this band live and I want to hear much more from them. Black Lakes prove that British Rock is very much alive and kicking!

 

“Time” EP – Lost Trends February 18, 2019


Those cheeky Lost Trends chappies are back after a bit of a sabbatical. They were definitely missed, but oh boy are they back with a bang in the shape of their new EP “Time”. Click here to check it out on Spotify. It features four exciting slabs of dance infused rock; “Time”, “Everything”, “Things You Could Be” and “Stay The Same”. Back in those heady days of the late 80s and early 90s when Clubs were king and illegal raves were prolific these tracks would have been mammoth hits and probably each the subject of a 12 inch single with extended dance remixes by the likes of Paul Oakenfold, Underworld, the Chemical Brothers and Andrew Weatherall to name just a few! The title track is for me the finest tune from a great selection. It has a powerful funk vibe and uses uplifting jangly guitars to the max. I would challenge even the most sedentary of people not to dance to this, you will fail! In a parallel universe this would be hogging the airwaves and it should be in this universe too. Rusty’s vocals are on top form in “Everything” which makes me think of what Radiohead or Muse might sound like if they went full on disco. There is no let up on the wonderful sonic attack from a band totally on top of their game. “Things You Could Be” reminds me of the best U2 remixes with some guitar work that I believe the Edge would be proud of. “Stay The Same” rounds this EP off perfectly and these tracks showcase a band that I reckon are now fully equipped to take on a Festival set. Can we at least get them on the BBC Introducing Stage at Reading/ Leeds? They have the ability to bring the house down. It is so good to have Lost Trends back!

 

 
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