Guy Steven’s is seen by many as some kind of rock evangelist. he had an incredibly broad R& B record collection and he was also the man who ran Chuck Berry’s UK fan club. He was also a bit of a bad boy who served eight months in Wormwood Scrubs for drug possession. It was during his incarceration that he formed the idea for his next master-plan. He had a vision of a band who could mix the Rolling Stones raunchiness with Bob Dylan’s electric folk take on life with a hint of the wild path taken by Jerry Lee Lewis. While he was in the infamous ‘The Scrubs’ he even thought of a name for this up to now mythical band. It would be called Mott The Hoople after the Willard Manus novel about a ‘Hoople’ (effectively an eccentric loser) called Norman Mott. On his release he met various future Mott members and the rest my friends is history!
It’s great news that David Cameron and his dreadful Conservative government have at least postponed the vote on the repeal of the fox-hunting band. Having been out foxed Nicola Sturgeon of the SNP he is now a little like a fox on the run himself. Some UK newspapers are even referring to this as a humiliation for him. I’d like to think that he does feel humiliated but somehow I doubt that he does.
Well if you won’t let us posh arseholes hunt and kill foxes we’ll bloody well hunt vicious lambs instead!
For me the idea of chasing after a fox with a baying group of red jacketed toffs on horseback and a pack of dogs is not vermin control. It’s sadism. Anyway we and the foxes, live to fight another day. But don’t let the subject drop! This is but a small victory.
As I have said before this is a music blog so let’s celebrate with some fox related songs.
Cameron as the fox in a fox hunt? I’d pay to see that!
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.
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.
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.
I have just read the news that British singer songwriter Lynsey De Paul has died aged just 64. Whilst I am very open about my eclectic tastes now back in the 70s it wasn’t seen as cool among my circle of friends to like Lynsey’s music. However I must confess that I actually did like quite a few of her songs. Perhaps these are some of my true guilty pleasures. She had quite a few hits in her own right; “Sugar Me”, “Getting A Drag”, “No Honestly”, “Ooh I Do” and “Won’t Somebody Dance With Me”. The latter won her an Ivor Novello award. In 1977 she represented the UK at the Eurovision Song contest with a song that perhaps predicted future UK performances in the contest. It was called “Rock Bottom” which she sang with Mike Moran and it performed really well finishing in second place.
as a co writer perhaps one of her most memorable hits was “Dancing (On A saturday Night)” which she wrote with singer Barry Blue. He took that to number two in the UK charts in 1973. One of my favourite De Paul songs was “Central Park Arrest”. It was written for Thunderthighs who had been backing vocalists to Mott The Hoople. Lynsey’s own version of the song was on the B-Side to “No Honestly”. She has a further link to Thunderthighs and Mott the Hoople. Lynsey De Paul recorded the female vocal part on the album version of Mott The Hoople’s “Roll Away The Stone”. However when the song was released as a single her contribution had been replaced by that of Thunderthighs. In yet another Mott link Lynsey was also responsible for a name change of one of the band. In 1973 when Mick Ralphs left he was replaced by Luther Grosvenor. Mister Grosvenor was for some reason contractually obliged to change his name, so Lynsey suggested Ariel Bender, which stuck.
Lynsey had five UK top twenty hits. “Sugar Me” was her highest UK chart success as a singer reaching number five in 1972. She also had number one singles in Switzerland, Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium. My thoughts go to her family, friends and fans. Lynsey De Paul RIP.
I recently read an article on Mott The Hoople in Classic Rock magazine which was written by the extremely knowledgeable and very talented music writer Kris Needs. back in the early 70s Kris ran the Mott fan club for all the Seadivers (if you were one you will know what that means). I assume from the article that the fan club address was also Kris’ home address. On one occasion a young Asian girl turned up with some mates. She was studying at Lady Margaret Hall in Oxford which is relatively close to where Kris lived in Aylesbury. This young woman had written to the fan club on many occasions and was mostly known to Kris as Member 262.
It turns out though that she was none other than Benazir Bhutto who went on to become Pakistan‘s Prime Minister before she was cruelly assassinated in 2007. I never knew that Benazir was a Mott The Hoople fan so I’d like to dedicate this post to her memory and I hope you now all enjoy “The Ballad Of Mott” and the excellent “Saturday Gigs“. finally if you ever come across something written by Kris Needs I recommend that you read it, he is bloody good! Especially his autobiography ‘Needs Must: A Very Rock ‘n’ Roll Story’. My good mate John Williams has a signed copy of it too; lucky git!
Many of you will recognise the two iconic 70s album covers pictured below. First Roxy Music‘s eponymously titled first album from 1972 and ‘The Hoople‘ from 1974 by Mott The Hoople. However did you know that the model on the cover of both albums is the same person? It is Kari-Ann Muller and she has yet another music link in that she went on to marry Mick Jagger‘s brother Chris.
In a strange twist of fate the model on another Roxy Music cover was Jerry Hall. She met Bryan Ferry at the photo shoot and began a relationship with him and then ultimately left him for Mick Jagger. So it is clear I think that the Jagger boys certainly like Roxy Music album covers! Incidentally Keri-Ann was paid just 20 pounds for the Roxy cover shoot. She also appeared in a James Bond film and is now a Yoga Teacher.
With all the recent celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Beatles first album, ‘Please Please Me’ back in 1963 it got me thinking again about the impact the fab four had on popular culture. I know much has been written about the Beatles from a social history point of view so I won’t be getting deep and heavy about that. But my thoughts are more around mentions of the mop tops in popular music.
There have been some great songs that mention John, Paul, George and Ringo and to celebrate 50 years since the recording and release of ‘Please Please Me’ I thought I would mention some of those songs. Apologies in advance to Dora Bryan though as I won’t be including her ode to the band; “All I Want For Christmas Is A Beatle”. The chosen songs are;
“All The Young Dudes” – Mott The Hoople – for the line ‘My brother’s back at home with his Beatles and Stones, I never got it off on that revolution stuff’ I believe that this is probably the best song Bowie ever wrote.
“1977” – The Clash – a summation of life in the UK in 1977. The line ‘No Elvis, Beatles or Rolling Stones in 1977′ sums up the punk new boys.
“London Calling” – The Clash – a brilliant song that includes the line ‘Phony Beatlemania has bitten the dust”
“(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?” – Oasis – whilst this song doesn’t mention the Beatles it does mention a Beatles song from the ‘Revolver’ album; ‘Walking to the sound of my favorite tune tomorrow never knows what it doesn’t know too soon’. It’s no surprise that the Burnage Boys songs contain many references to their musical heroes from Liverpool.
There are plenty more songs that reference the Beatles, including solo Beatle songs that mention or reference the band. I’d love to hear what your favourites are too.
I had the good fortune to accompany my good buddy John Williams to a gig in Harrogate on Thursday. Not just any gig, but an Ian Hunter gig. Someone who I have always liked but up until now had never seen play live. So I was anticipating great things. Did we get great things? Well let me talk about the support act first and then I will tell you!
Otis Gibbs all the way from Wanamaker, Missouri provided a very entertaining support set. He has some great songs, many of them well written story songs. He also engages really well with the audience between songs. Otis Gibbs; talented, humorous, good bloke and frankly bloody good at what he does!
As I said earlier I was expecting great things from Mr Hunter and I can say that categorically he didn’t let us down. He was, and I use this word sparingly these days, awesome. He started the show with two great rockers “Comfortable” from his new album and the classic “Once Bitten Twice Shy“. He played a lot of songs from the new album including the superb title track “When I’m President”, the wonderful “Black Tears” and a song that grows on me every time I hear it “Ta Shunka Witco (Crazy Horse)”
Obviously he played some classic Mott The Hoople tracks including “All The Way From Memphis” and “Roll Away The Stone“. Then there was the obligatory (well Mott played it often) cover of the Velvet Underground‘s “Sweet Jane“. But that wasn’t the end of the Mott songs. During the encore they played my two favourite Mott The Hoople songs; the sublime “Saturday Gigs” and the best song Bowie wrote and never released himself “All The Young Dudes“. A stupendous end to a great set from a brilliant artist and indeed an excellent band; the Rant Band. Ian is 73 now but he rocks better than many younger rock stars.
Mr Hunter thank you for an excellent night and keep on rockin’ dude! Let me finish with a short clip of “Saturday Gigs” from tonight which was filmed on my positively ancient Nokia as were the photographs in this post.
This is a record-breaking but sad kind of story. One of the largest foxes ever found in the UK was shot on a farm in Aberdeen. It wasn’t killed because it was large, but simply because it was allegedly attacking lambs on a farm. At least it was killed by a working farmer and not some bunch of red jacketed toff twats supported by a cast of hundreds and packs of vicious dogs. Click here to read the story on the BBC site.
Anyway what is this story doing on my music blog? Well it gives me a chance to share some of my favourite fox related songs 🙂 Feel free to submit your own fox songs.
Sorry bunnies, my aim is better now, next time the farmer gets it
Fox On The Run – Manfred Mann – A UK number 5 hit from 1968. The lyrics were from English writer Tony Hazzard who wrote quite a few hits, including another smash from the Manfreds in “Ha Ha Said The Clown”
Fox On The Run – The Sweet – The same title as the Manfred Mann song, but definitely not the same song. This reached number 2 in the UK chart in 1974. It also hit number 5 in the US and was an Australian number one. The song is about groupies as in the women were foxy ladies.
Foxy Lady – Jimi Hendrix – Talking of foxy ladies, this is taken from the Jimi Hendrix Experience album ‘Are You Experienced’ which was released in 1967. The US and Canadian version of the album had the titled incorrectly spelled as “Foxey Lady”
Foxy Foxy – Mott The Hoople – This is one of my favourite songs from this fabulous British band. It reached number 33 in the UK charts in 1974 and never featured on a Mott The Hoople album, other than compilations. It ended a run of 5 top 20 hits in the UK for the band. The group took their name from a Willard Manus novel about someone who worked in a circus freak show.
Reynard The Fox – Julian Cope – This was the opening track from Julian’s 1984 album ‘Fried’. It is apparently a mix of an English folk tale and an incident where Cope had slashed his stomach on stage back in 1983.
It’s January 8th 2012 which means that David Robert Jones is now a pensioner; yes, Mr Bowie is officially an old bloke aged 65. I have made many posts about David Bowie since I started this blog and indeed I have posted on his birthday before as well. So what can I say that I haven’t said before about the Dame? Well how about some trivia about him that you may or may not have heard?
He left school with just one GCE O Level, which means that I left school with twice as many O Levels as he did. The lack of even minor academic qualifications hasn’t held him back though has it?
It is widely known that he shares a birthday with Elvis Presley who was born 12 years before Bowie in 1935. But did you know that he shares that birthday with a number of other music stars as well?
On top of that it is also the same date that the new North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un was born in either 1983 or 1984 and Stephen Hawking in 1942.
I am in the middle of reading Peter Doggett’s book ‘The Man Who Sold The World – David Bowie And The 1970s’ which is a journey through the 70s song by song of everything Mr Bowie recorded. Parts of it are a little too muso for me, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an excellent book. I have learnt some new things about Bowie, which is really something for a moderately obsessive fan! Did you know that Bowie had wanted Phil Spector to produce the ‘Aladdin Sane‘ album? I certainly didn’t, but it would have been a fascinating mix of styles. That album sold less than half of the nearly 11 million sales achieved by the ‘Lets Dance’ album in 1983.
It would be fair to say that “Rebel Rebel” from the ‘Diamond Dogs’ album is a brilliant pastiche of the Rolling Stones. Did you know that Bowie also provided backing vocals and hand-claps on the Stones hit “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll” from 1974? Live Aid in 1985 prompted Bowie and Mick Jagger to record together again with a cover of Martha and the Vandellas “Dancing In The Street”. Not the best cover version in the world in my opinion. In a survey by the PRS last year it was voted as the song that most people would play at street parties to celebrate last years Will and Kate Royal nuptials.
As well as being a musician David has always been a music fan as well and has often championed some of his favourite acts. Back in the early 70s he heard that Mott The Hoople were about to break up so he got in touch and offered them a song to persuade them to stay together. The band went on to have a massive hit with Bowie’s “All The Young Dudes” but did you know that the first song he offered them was “Suffragette City”? They turned it down saying that it didn’t really suit them. Bowie went on to produce Mott’s ‘All The Young Dudes’ album with Mick Ronson. In 1975 Ronson became a member of the band for a short while and recorded what became their farewell single “Saturday Gigs” with them.
So that’s enough of my drivel and it just remains for me to wish David Bowie a fantastic 65th birthday and to share with you the most played Bowie tracks on Spotify in descending order;