With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

Music reviews, gig reviews, fun trivia and extra added random stuff!

‘My Life In Dire Straits’ – John Illsley – Book review November 14, 2021

Filed under: Book,Review — justwilliam1959 @ 1:02 am
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I don’t often get the chance to review books, but when this one was sent to me a few weeks ago I thought it was worth giving it a spin. I read a lot of books, including many rock autobiographies and biographies. This is a compelling autobiography from Dire Straits’ ace bass player John Illsley. Along with Mark Knopfler, Illsley was one of the founding members of Dire Straits, who became one of the most successful British bands ever. Apparently, Geldof had asked them to headline Live Aid as in 1984/ 85 they were probably the biggest band on the planet. However, as they were booked to play Wembley Arena that night they went on a little earlier. Illsley sums that day up superbly in saying that he is glad they didn’t have to follow Queen. John describes his early years and how he came to find a career in music, which like many of his peers and successors was frowned upon by his parents, at least initially. The band came together in Deptford, South London and were so broke in the early days that they were living hand to mouth and picking up any gigs they could. They were finally able to record a demo tape which they managed to get to DJ Charlie Gillett who played “Sultans Of Swing” incessantly on his show, the rest, as they say, is history. Aside from his time in Dire Straits Illsley speaks in a brutally honest way about how that level of fame, success and the intensive recording and touring cycles destroyed some of his relationships. I really enjoyed this book and it definitely ranks among the best rock autobiographies that I have ever read. It is well written, open, honest, uplifting and incredibly interesting. It will be a great read for any music fans and not just fans of Dire Straits. It is out now, published by Diversion Books.

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Catherine Rocks The Cleveland Way! May 26, 2018

Many of you who know me will by now know that my wonderful wife Catherine will very soon be embarking on a mammoth 109 mile charity walk on the Cleveland Way in the North East of England. A map of the Cleveland Way is shown at the very end of this post. Why is she doing this? Well four years ago Catherine and I were totally devastated by the loss of two children as a result of an adoption disruption. It was clear to us that the support needed by vulnerable children was just not available. There was no money and no urgency to the long term support that was needed. It is incredibly important to both of us that the children and young people in our community have access to the support they need to thrive and to grow into happy and resilient adults. We know that we are unable to do anything now for the children we lost, but we want to try and make a difference to the lives of other children and young people. We want to do whatever we can to try and prevent what happened to our children from happening again. Please feel free to contribute toward Catherine’s target of £10,000. Her efforts so far means that she is already at 46% of that total. Click here for the link to donate.

Anything you can add to that will be invaluable to the two charities we are supporting. Those charities are The Island (Enhancing the quality of life for vulnerable children and young people in York) and SASH (Working to prevent homelessness in young people aged 16-25 in York, North Yorkshire & East Yorkshire).

The Island offers support to vulnerable 8-13 years olds in York who are struggling to cope at home, at school, or in the wider community, or who are experiencing difficult transitions in their lives. The Island links these young people with volunteer mentors with whom they meet on a weekly basis over the course of a year (or longer if required). This allows them to develop supportive, ongoing relationships, whilst also providing them with the undivided attention and the ‘islands of space and time’ they need to increase their confidence and self-esteem, participate in worthwhile recreational activities, and move forward in their lives.

SASH run supported lodgings schemes which help young people develop the skills they need to live on their own. They provide an emergency nightstop service that makes a difference to young people’s lives when most needed.

Both charities need your support. They only exist because people in our community care enough to help them do what they do. Please click here to find Catherine’s Virgin Money Giving page. Now obviously this blog is essentially a music blog so I have picked ten walking themed songs (ok the first one loosely links to Catherine’s walking route) I hope that you enjoy them. In fact feel free to listen while you donate 🙂



“All the men come in these places and the men are all the same” a.k.a. 9 ladies dancing December 21, 2012

il_fullxfull.389633769_mw6o Day 9 in my 12 days of Christmas series of posts has arrived and frankly I am running out of room to keep all these diverse and wonderful gifts I keep receiving from my true love. Any suggestions as to what I can do with 9 ladies dancing. OK perhaps you’d better not answer that because undoubtedly most of you will add the word lap somewhere in there won’t you? It would seem likely that the interest in ballroom dancing has surged recently, perhaps due to TV shows like Strictly Come Dancing (is that the correct title? Personally I have never watched it). Dance was one of the most popular art forms according to the Arts Council in England and applications for grants for dance projects had increased from 373 to 437 from 2011 to 2012. Tina+Charles+TC So today is quite special because you’ll get three songs for the price of two. Firstly it’s a classic slice of what I would call disco bubble pop. It’s Tina Charles with “Dance Little Lady Dance”. Tina was born Tina Hoskins in March 1954 and later changed her name to avoid possible confusion with Mary Hopkin. She chose Charles as that was her father’s first name. She started out as a session and backing vocalist. She provided backing vocals along with Linda Lewis on the Steve Harley and Cockney rebel classic “Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)” a UK number one from 1975. She was also the uncredited vocalist on the 5000 Volts hit “I’m On Fire”. This was due to contractual reasons. That song made it to number 4 in the UK and number 1 in Germany and Sweden. It only managed number 26 in the US but it was competing against a version of the same song by Jim Gilstrap. 307066 Tina’s big break came when she met record producer Biddu who had a massive success with “Kung Fu Fighting” from Carl Douglas in 1974. he produced a few songs for her including the biggest hit of her career, “I Love To Love (But My Baby Loves To Dance)” this was at number one for 3 weeks in the UK in 1976. The song I have chosen for this post was also a UK hit for Tina but only managed a peak of number 6. That song is “Dance Little Lady Dance”. A remix of the song was issued in 1987 and made the top 20 in Germany and the Netherlands. her touring band in the mid 70s featured two future members of Buggles and Yes; Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes. tt002 The second song I have chosen for you today is “Private Dancer” from another Tina, this time Tina Turner. The song was written by Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits and was originally considered for inclusion on the band’s album ‘Love Over Gold‘. However Knopfler didn’t think it was right for a male vocalist. John Illsley from the band featured on Tina Turner’s version of the song. Guitar was provided by Jeff Beck and not Mark Knopfler on Turner’s version of the song. The song only reached number 26 in the UK but managed a number 7 position in both France and the USA. The choreography for the promotional video for the song was provided by former Strictly Come Dancing judge, Arlene Phillips. tturner_gl_4jul12_pa_b_426x639_1 As I mentioned earlier, you will get three songs for the price of two today and the third is a special Billy Bonus for Christmas. as I alluded to lap Dancing earlier in this post, which is something I have never experienced (ok so maybe I have just the once……. or maybe twice) I thought I would take the opportunity to add some Kate Bush. No I know she isn’t a lap dancer, but I would be very tempted if she was, but she did have a song called “Sat In Your Lap” didn’t she. It reached number 11 in the UK in 1981 and was the first single to come from Kate’s album ‘The Dreaming’, albeit some 15 months before the album appeared. The B Side was a cover of Donovan’s “Lord Of The Reedy River”. Kate_bush_leotard


“You made me feel alive, but something died I fear” October 1, 2012

Curses! Tin foiled again!

The Official Charts Company have released details of the biggest selling CDs in the UK since the format was included in album sales. The list probably holds no real surprises, but clearly has a few disappointing entries in my opinion. The fact that James Blunt, Dido, Leona Lewis and David Gray are in the top 10 shows how bland the UK’s music tastes have become in my opinion. Is this a result of many people buying their CDs from large supermarkets these days? Who knows, but surely that plays a part. Anyway here is the top 10;

1- Gold Greatest Hits – Abba: 4m

2 – 21 – Adele: 3.5m

3 – What’s the Story Morning Glory – Oasis: 3.4m

4 – Back to Black – Amy Winehouse: 3.225m

5 – Back to Bedlam – James Blunt: 3.209m

6 – No Angel – Dido: 3.031m

7 – Come on Over – Shania Twain: 3.02m

8 – Spirit – Leona Lewis:2.95m

9 – Urban Hymns – The Verve: 2.9m

10 – White Ladder – David Gray 2.8m

There are clearly some classic albums in the list from Oasis, the Verve and Amy Winehouse. But the current top-selling UK CD is Abba Gold, probably soon to be overtaken by Adele’s ’21’. One thing that surprised me was that Dire Straits’ ‘Brothers In Arms’ , the first million selling CD was not in the top 10 or even the top 30. Dido has one more album in the list at number 11. Robbie Williams and Coldplay have three albums each in the top 30. The Beatles’ compilation ‘1’ is at number 12 and there is no entry for Queen in the top 30 either.


“As hard as you try no I will never be knocked down” February 29, 2012

Filed under: News — justwilliam1959 @ 11:24 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

It would seem that the talented Miss Adkins aka Adele continues to break records. This time it’s a sales record, her album ’21’ has now sold more in the UK than Michael Jackson’s ‘Bad’ making her album the 8th best-selling UK album ever in the UK, according to the Official UK Chart Company. At the current rate ’21’ is being shipped I reckon she’ll soon overtake Dire Straits‘ ‘Brothers In Arms’ and Pink Floyd’s classic ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’. I wonder if anyone will try to claim that ’21’ is in fact an alternative soundtrack to ‘The Wizard Of Oz’? Somehow I doubt it. Anyway big congratulations go to Adele for yet another chart feat! Check out the top ten best selling UK albums below.

01 GREATEST HITS – QUEEN (5,863,000 sales)
03 GOLD: GREATEST HITS – ABBA (4,989,000)
08 21 – ADELE (4,020,000)
09 BAD – MICHAEL JACKSON (3,959,000)
10 GREATEST HITS II – QUEEN (3,887,000)


“There’s a world outside your window and it’s a world of dread and fear” July 13, 2010

To paraphrase the words of the Beatles, “it was 25 years ago today that Mr Geldof got the bands to play!” Yes folks 25 years ago this very day (July 13th 2010) the event that was Live Aid took place featuring most of the great and good in music at that time. Looking back on it now it was a fantastic achievement engineered by Bob Geldof. I watched the whole of the live broadcast on the BBC which kicked off at midday with Status Quo performing “Rocking All Over The World”. It really launched a couple of acts into the stratosphere for me, notably U2 and Queen, although Freddie and the boys were close to it anyway. In my opinion there were some obvious disappointments as well; Bob Dylan’s performance, no Jacko appearance, no Prince appearance, Simon Le Bon’s vocals and Spandau Ballet’s suits.

Phil Collins played on both sides of the Atlantic having flown to the USA in Concorde. Sting performed with Dire Straits. Mick Jagger performed with Tina Turner. Paul McCartney’s microphone failed to work and David Bowie gave up one his songs to allow a short documentary to be shown, which helped raise even more money. The total raised was around £150 million toward famine relief in Africa, especially Ethiopia. The Wembley leg of the concert was attended by 72,000 people and the Philadelphia leg by 99,000 people. Click on Wembley or Philadelphia in the previous sentence for the set lists at each show. But more than 2 billion people watched it around the world! In a strange little incident at the Wembley gig the helicopters carrying the artists were allowed to land at a London Transport Bowling Club near the stadium. The interesting thing here is that there was a wedding reception being held there at the time. So the happy couple might have been inconvenienced but they did have a string of music superstars appearing in their wedding pictures!

Will anything like this ever happen again? Well there was Live 8, but that was small by comparison. Live Aid was a tremendous event that was very much of its time and to me it seems like a lifetime ago. Will it need to happen again? I think it will for the sake of Africa and other parts of the Third World. But for now enjoy some of the finest Live Aid moments below, including the heartbreaking CBC video introduced by David Bowie and soundtracked by the Cars “Drive”



“I told you ’bout the swans, that they live in the park” March 30, 2009

Hello once again dear blog readers. My blog has been going for around 7 weeks now so I thought I’d check some of the stats available on WordPress. Firstly here is the top 10 search items (and number of searches) that people have used and found their way here;

1 pink floyd 431
2 kate bush 157
3 johnny cash 123
4 johnny winter 88
5 george harrison 73
6 smokey robinson 69
7 the smiths 62
8 dire straits 43
9 the byrds 39
10 tim buckley 23

I’m really pleased to see that Kate Bush is doing so well, I’m also quite amazed by the sheer volume of Pink Floyd searches. If you found your way here from searching I’d love to hear from you! As she did so well here is a picture of the delectable Ms Bush

"Oh England My Leotard" perhaps?

"Oh England My Leotard" perhaps?

Some of you may recall that we also ran an experiment some weeks ago to see if it was possible to drive people to the blog by including a particular phrase, that phrase being ‘Lily Allen Naked’. Well I can report some success, ‘Lily Allen Naked’ is in fact the 18th most popular search item ,with 13 searches , to arrive here. Although clearly all those 13 people (although it could be one person 13 times) will have been disappointed as there are no naked pics of Lily here. So apologies to you folks. I’d love to hear from you too, although obviously I’ll understand if you wish to remain anonymous 😉

Of all the many links I include in my posts I can also confirm that the two most clicked items have been the Myspace pages for ‘Soft Toy Emergency‘ (7 clicks) and my son Luke’s band ‘Steal The Smile‘ (9 clicks). click on their names to increase their total clicks.

OK enough of the stats, numbers excite me but perhaps not everyone! On to the tried and tested format and kicking off with a birthday. Mr Eric Clapton is 64 today. Did he ever cover the Beatles “When I’m 64”? Perhaps he should now! He has been a part of many bands in his time; the Roosters, Casey Jones and the Engineers, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, the Yardbirds, Cream, Blind Faith and Derek and the Dominoes. Indeed he was also one of the few non Beatles to play on a Beatles song. He played guitar on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. George Harrison returned the favour by guesting on the fantastic “Badge” by Cream. Click on the song title to see Eric with a live version of the song from the 80’s, watch out for Phil Collins on drums!

Eric discusses matrimonial time share plans with George

Eric discusses matrimonial time share plans with George

There are quite a few ‘onthisdays’ for March 30th starting with on this day in 1967 the photo session for the cover of the Beatles ‘Sergeant Pepper’ album took place at Chelsea Manor Studios

Just in case there is anyone on the planet that hasn't seen this album cover here it is again :-)

Just in case there is anyone on the planet that hasn't seen this album cover here it is again 🙂

Also on this day in 1976 the Sex Pistols played at the 100 Club in London for the first time. They began a weekly residency there in June 1976. One of my biggest musical regrets is that I turned down the opportunity to see the Pistols live in late 1976. They were playing at Brunel University near where I grew up. I’m sorry to say that I chose to stay in the pub!

The other guys always thought it was hilarious to set Glen's microphone stand too high for him

The other guys always thought it was hilarious to set Glen's microphone stand too high for him

On this day in 1978 Paul Simonon and Nicky ‘Topper’ Headon off of the Clash were arrested in Camden Town, London after shooting pigeons with air guns from the roof of Chalk Farm Studios. It was later discovered that these were prize winning and very expensive racing pigeons. It required four police cars and a helicopter to make the arrest. The pairs fines totaled £800

Once they had established exactly where the Clash were they would avenge the death of their brothers by dropping pigeon shit bombs

Once they had established exactly where the Clash were they would avenge the death of their brothers by dropping pigeon shit bombs

Also in 1978 on this day U2 won £500 and a chance to audition for CBS Ireland in a talent contest which was held in Dublin and sponsored by Guinness. Strange fact of the day, Guinness, which I really enjoy, began life 200 years before I did!

Bono puts his hand up to attract the teachers attention as he desperately needs to pee

Bono puts his hand up to attract the teachers attention as he desperately needs to pee

And finally on this day in 2000 Sir Michael Jagger off of the Rolling Stones paid a visit to his old school, Dartford Grammar. He was there to open a new arts centre bearing his name. He was quoted as saying that he spent the worst years of his life at school!

Mick's old school uniform clearly didn't fit him anymore

Mick's old school uniform clearly didn't fit him anymore


“She could kill you with a wink of her eye” February 23, 2009

Well here we are again on a Monday morning, what the hell happened to the damned weekend? Why is it only two days? Three or four would be better wouldn’t it?

Anyway in yet another forlorn attempt to keep this post short, I think I know I’ll fail in that aim, let’s kick off with some birthdays. Firstly 23rd February 2009 is the 65th birthday of talented guitarist Johnny Winter. He was one of the numerous acts to play the Woodstock Festival in 1969, playing a nine song set which included his brother Edgar on two songs. Here is a clip of him from that very set at Woodstock. The rather splendid US band the Smashing Pumpkins recorded an instrumental homage to Johnny called “Tribute to Johnny”, in which they tried to emulate Winter’s unique guitar sound. The song was originally intended for their excellent 1995 album ‘Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness’ but was rejected and eventually turned as b-side on theirZero” single. Ill health means that Johnny is only able to play whilst seated. Both he and his brother Edgar are albino, to find out a little more about this go check out Wikipedia here.

As this picture proves Johnny had a very laid back playing style

As this picture proves Johnny had a very laid back playing style

Today is also the day to wish Steve Priest, the Sweet’s guitarist a happy 59th birthday. He was born in Hayes, Middlesex in the UK just a few miles away from where I was born and grew up. I now live 200 miles away in York while Steve lives a little further away in California. Who do you think got the better deal weatherwise? An early incarnation of the Sweet was called the Sweetshop, whilst they released a few singles they all failed to hit the chart. The classic line up of the band (Steve Priest, Brian Connolly, Mick Tucker and Andy Scott) came together in 1970. “Funny Funny” written by Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman became the bands first hit in 1971. Despite the fact that the band were all competent musicians and thanks to Messrs Chinn and Chapman they were not allowed to play on any of their RCA singles until “Wig Wam Bam”. They were seen by many as just another bubblegum pop band, although many of their B Sides and live gigs belied this and showed their love of and skill at playing harder rock. Steve Priest and Andy Scott are now the only surviving members of that classic line up and both still tour with their own versions of the band. Imaginatively called Steve Priest’s Sweet and Andy Scott’s Sweet! Here are the boys with “Ballroom Blitz” from 1973, Steve is the guy who does the rather camp speaking part in the song!

The Sweet like brickies in drag! Mr Priest is the one on the bottom left

The Sweet like brickies in drag! Mr Priest is the one on the bottom left

The last birthday today is Rob Collins keyboard player with the Charlatans. He would have been 46 today but sadly he was killed in a car crash on 23rd July 1996 in Rockfield, Wales during the recording sessions for the band’s 5th album. The Charlatans first gig was at Vic’s Club in Northwich, Cheshire in the UK. Following that gig their manager was able to secure them five support slots with the then new cult heroes the Stone Roses played between November 1988 and April 1989. It was Rob Collins distinctive Hammond Organ sound that underpinned many of the bands songs. Apparently he bought the organ from a local church. Here are the boys with the rather splendid “Weirdo” which Catwoman swears is about me!

Rob Collins RIP

Rob Collins RIP

On this day in 1974 Suzi Quatro was number one in the UK charts with “Devil Gate Drive” her second number one. From quite a young age Suzi (born Susan Kay Quatro) had aspired to a career in music. She left school in 1964 and immediately formed a band called the ‘Pleasure Seekers’ with her three sisters Arlene, Patti and Nancy. As with the Sweet earlier in this post and Mud from a previous post, many of her early hits were written by Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman. Fans of the US sitcom ‘Happy Days’ may also remember Suzi’s appearances on that show as Leather Tuscadero in 1977

Suzi had failed to notice the small ladder in her tights as shen went on stage

Suzi had failed to notice the small ladder in her tights as she went on stage

It was on this day in 1979 that Dire Straits played their first ever US show when they appeared at the Paradise Club in Boston. The single of the title track from 1985’s “Brothers In Arms” album was the first commercially available CD single. 400 copies were pressed for release in November 1985. The album went to number one in both the UK and the US. Here is my favourite Dire Straits song which was also their first UK hit, “Sultans Of Swing

Though they were excellent guitarists those Dire Straits boys never really mastered the Hank Marvin/ Shadows dance steps

Though they were excellent guitarists those Dire Straits boys never really mastered the Hank Marvin/ Shadows dance steps

And finally on this day in 2003 the UK tabloid ‘The News Of The World’ reported that Michael Jackson had undergone scores of painful operations to strip his body of black skin until he appeared white. They also reported that surgeons at a Santa Monica clinic eventually refused him any further treatment. An ‘insider’ told the paper that Jacson had been anesthetized on a weekly basis to have his skin peeled and bleached. Is this a true story? Maybe, but bear in mind the track record of the UK tabloid press in making up stories before making up your mind. Here is Michael with “Black Or White

looking at the man in the mirror Michael finally realised that he may have overdone the plastic surgery

looking at the man in the mirror Michael finally realised that he may have overdone the plastic surgery

Well that’s another day nearly over folks, enjoy the rest of it and I’ll be back tomorrow


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