With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

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

“You wanted the best and you got the best” Blog Advent Calendar Day 21 December 21, 2014


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The 21st December you say? really? Blimey where did the time go? Anyway I just knew that something good was going to happen now that it is Day 21 in this years Advent calendar blog post series. regular readers will know that the theme this festive period is the ABC of British bands. Some of you may already have guessed who todays band is as I incorporated a clue earlier in this paragraph. Today is the turn of the Utah Saints who despite their name actually come from Leeds.

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The band played live often between 1991 and 2001 although their appearances since then are largely as DJs. Although they are still writing and recording and are supposedly working on their next album at the moment. Jez Willis and Tim Garbutt are the Utah Saints core and they really pioneered the use of sampling in pop music. they met when they were both music promoters and DJs for the Mix nightclub in Harrogate. In his inimitable style Bill Drummond off of the KLF described the Utah Saints as  “the first true stadium house band”. I’m not entirely sure what that means but it sounds good doesn’t it? They also built their own recording studio on the outskirts of Leeds which opened in 2008.

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The band’s first three singles all made the UK top ten from 1991 to 1993. Those releases were; “What Can You Do For Me” (1991), “Something Good” (1992) and “Believe In Me” (1993). Willis and Garbutt described these songs as their vocal sample trilogy. The songs sampled Gwen Guthrie, Eurythmics (“What Can You Do For Me”), Kate Bush (“Something Good”) and the Human League, Crown Heights Affair, Sylvester (“Believe In Me”). Despite persistent press stories these samples were all legally cleared. Kate Bush also let the band use clips from her video for “Cloudbusting” which is where the sample for “Something Good” comes from.

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“Something Good” is their biggest hit to date. It peaked at number 4 in the UK singles chart and made the top 10 in Australia and Ireland. Interestingly it also made it to number seven in both the US Dance Charts and the US Modern Rock charts. does this make them truly genre-defying? I’d like to think so. They have released two albums so far (not including a mix album). The first was ‘Utah Saints’ which reached number 10 in the UK album charts in 1992. The follow-up was rather unimaginatively called ‘Two’. Sadly that one failed to chart when it came out in 2000. Now you can enjoy some of the Utah Saints finest beats and I hope that you enjoy them.

 

 

Ian Hunter and the Rant Band – Sheffield City Hall Ballroom – Thursday 2nd October 2014 October 5, 2014


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On Thursday I went to see the magnificent Ian Hunter and the superb Rant Band play in Sheffield. This was my second Hunter show in two years, I previously saw him in Harrogate in 2012. The support band was the stunning blues rock outfit Federal Charm from Manchester. They are a very tight unit musically and their lead singer Nick Bowden has shades of a young Paul Rodgers in his singing. I bought their album at the gig and it is a great set for listening to when driving or probably many other activities too. You should check them out. Click here for their Facebook page.

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On to the main man though. Mr Hunter was on top form as expected and the Rant Band are just bloody good as always. It looked like Ian and the band were really enjoying themselves on stage too. It was an excellent set with the highlights for me being the old Mott songs “All The Way From Memphis” and “All The Young Dudes” both of which probably had everyone in the crowd singing along. I certainly was. But my favourite two songs of the evening were “When I’m President” which works better live than it does in it’s recorded form, probably because it is such a great song. The other was the poignant “Michael Picasso” which was originally released as a part of Hunter’s ‘Artful Dodger’ album in 1996. It is a heartfelt tribute to the late, great Mick Ronson. I must admit that the lyrics often bring tears to my eyes, as they did on Thursday.

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Sadly the UK part of the tour is over now, but I urge you to go and see Ian and the band the next time they tour. You will not be disappointed. There are still plenty of dates left rolling into January. These are in Scandinavia, Japan and the USA. His merchandise stand was selling a ‘Live In The UK 2010′ CD which showcases just how good the band are in live performance. So while you’re waiting for that next tour get your hands on a copy of that CD. I have one final question how can Mr Hunter look so fit and young into his 70s? I need that secret! For another great review of Ian Hunter on this tour go to the backseatmafia blog who was at the Holmfirth show. I should add that none of the videos or pictures or videos on this post were taken by me and in fact none are from the Sheffield gig.

 

Elton John – Great Yorkshire Showground, Harrogate Tuesday June 5th 2012 June 5, 2012


Some months ago when Elton John announced a UK tour of some places that never seem to get big rock stars performing the list included the Great Yorkshire Showground in Harrogate. So as I live just down the road and as Sir Elton is now 65 I thought I had to get tickets for me and my wonderful wife Catherine a.k.a Catwoman to regular readers. I love Elton’s music, especially the early stuff, but until today I had never seen him live. It was well worth the wait and the ticket price.

The support act was the amazing 2Cellos, which does exactly what it says on the tin. The act consists of two cellists from Croatia; Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser. If you had said to me before today that two guys playing cello could be really exciting and create an amazing rock sound I may well have laughed at you. But frankly these guys are outstanding. They played three covers; Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal”, U2’s “With Or Without You” and an electrifying version of “Purple Haze” the Jimi Hendrix classic.

Just as we all thought they were about to start another song Elton and his band took the stage and raced right into “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting“. 2Cellos remained with the band for that and many other songs during Elton’s incredible two and a half hour set. He seemed to show no sign whatsoever of his recent illness and really seemed to be enjoying himself. The band who included long time Elton stalwarts Nigel Olsson on drums and Davey Johnstone on guitar. These guys have played together for more than 40 years now and I think that trust and knowledge of each other really shows.

The backing vocalists could undoubtedly be an act in their own right including; Rose Stone a founding member of Sly and the Family Stone and the sister of Sly and Freddie Stone and also Tata Vega who produced some terrific albums for Motown in the 70s. Having started the set with a superb rocker the band followed up with “Bennie And The Jets” and “Levon”. I was really pleased with the eclectic set list Elton had chosen. It included many of his biggest hits along with some of those that are not heard as often. Those included two fantastic selections from the ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road‘ album; “Funeral For A Friend/ Love Lies Bleeding” and “Grey Seal” and the gorgeous “Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters” from ‘Madman Across The Water‘. I was disappointed to see so many people head for the bar and the toilets when Elton played “Hey Ahab” from his recent collaboration with the supremely talented Leon Russell.

Most of the crowd were out to have a good time and the rain didn’t seem to dampen anyone’s spirits. Although it was quite ironic to be listening to “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” when the weather had created the effect that the sun had never really come up! There was an element in the crowd that seemed to fit with the stereotypical breed of Harrogate snob. They seemed to be there more for the social occasion, to drink Pimms and most importantly to be seen. One bloke and his wife/ partner asked us to swap seats with him so that he could sit near his friends. We refused largely because they had been getting up and going in and out of the grandstand during the whole show (well the part they stayed for anyway). But it was interesting that five minutes after our refusal all his ‘friends’ left without telling him! I named him Mr Yo Yo Bollocks.

There were two ladies who spent most of the show dancing around and trying to get everyone else up, including the security guards. They were draped in a ‘we love Elton’ Union Jack and seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely, but I suspect that their hangovers may be huge. It took “I’m Still Standing” to get everyone up, most of whom stayed up for the rest of the show. When Elton and the band left the stage it was hard to figure out what the encore would be as they had played some many classics, but of course it was the beautiful “Your Song”. Preceded by Elton signing a whole bunch of autographs for those at the front.

Elton John is a talented musician, a gifted songwriter, a real showman and a consummate performer. There are not many people around that can match him I believe. It is nearly 39 years since I saw my first ever gig (Jackson 5 at the Wembley Empire Pool in 1973 if you’re interested!) and todays show is easily in my top 5 ever. If you are going to one of the shows on this tour I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. If you’re not then do whatever it takes to get a ticket; sell your grannie, send your kits out to clean chimneys or get your dog to wine ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ (OK probably too late on the last one). And finally thank you for a great gig Elton!

I have no film from tonights show (I was enjoying myself too much to get my phone out) so here is a clip of Elton playing “Your Song” from a couple of years back, followed by 2Cellos with their version of “Smooth Criminal”

 

“I need excitement oh i need it bad” May 2, 2012


At last work has started on cataloging the music collection of the late, great John Peel. A project called The Space at the John Peel Centre in Stowmarket is aiming to recreate his library and home studio. Details of his 25,000 strong vinyl album collection is being put on-line at the rate of 100 per week in alphabetical order. This has already begun and includes Adam and the Ants and Abba. The website does not allow you play the music but it will give links to places where you will be able to listen to it.

Along with the album covers even Peel’s index cards have been digitized for the project which benefits from Arts Council funding. I am looking forward to watching it grow on-line, although one worrying point is that Arts Council funding only runs until October. By this time it is hoped to have at least 2,600 album details on-line. Click here to check out the rather excellent site.

A few years ago I considered the idea of contacting John Peel and possibly Elton John (who also has a very large music collection) with a view to offering my services as organiser and curator of their music collections. I had a vision that this would also include building a database for the collection. So if you’re reading this Elton please feel free to get in touch. I will be in the crowd when you play the Royal Harrogate Showground next month!

what song should I choose to celebrate such a momentous piece of Peel news? Surely there is only one option right? yes John Peel’s favourite song ever; “Teenage Kicks” by the Undertones.

 

 
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