Hello good people of the blogosphere. This is a somewhat gratuitous post from me as it involves my late, great father with whom I shared the same name; Bill Adamson if you were unaware.
Anyway here’s a little question for you. What did my Dad have in common with arch new romantics Spandau Ballet? Did he play in a band? No. Did he wear a kilt as a part of early new romantic fashion? No he didn’t, although as a Scot he was probably more entitled to than they were. Did he play in a band? No he didn’t, although after a couple of pints he could turn out a mean version of “I Left My Heart In San Francisco” or “Sailing”.
OK I’ll put you out of your misery. HMS Belfast is what they have in common. That was the ship that my Dad served on during the Korean war in the early 1950s and it was on the HMS Belfast that Spandau Ballet played one of their early gigs back in 1980. Incidentally it is an even more tenuous link but my Dad served in Korea at exactly the same time as first man on the moon Neil Armstrong. Have you got any tenuous links to share? Feel free to let me know what they are!
The boys from Spandau Ballet were delighted when they discovered that they were able to smuggle their budgies on the HMS Belfast
So the London 2012 Olympics is over, at least until the Paralympics anyway. I truly believe that this has been an amazing Olympics and for me usurps England winning the 1966 football world cup as our greatest sporting achievement. What do you think? OK I know the Scots won’t agree with that in the first place, but I would still like to hear your thoughts.
I realise that this post comes some 24 hours after the closing ceremony, but given the musical nature of that ceremony I felt I had to post something. The Olympic stadium was once again amazing; decked out to show a London skyline that included the London Eye, Big Ben and the Gherkin to name but a few. It all kicked off with the delicious voice of Emilie Sande accompanied only by a pianist, who was playing a piano covered in newspaper. After that the tempo really took off with forty members of the cast of Stomp dancing, drumming and percussing (is that a word?) on the recreated mini London Eye in the stadium. On top of all this there was a choir singing Beatles songs.
Next up was cellist and Churchill appearing out of the top of Big Ben and reciting words from Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ which was a great link back to the superb Opening ceremony. Obviously it wasn’t really Churchill, it was Timothy Spall. This was followed by newspaper clad crowds depicting the hubbub of London. The whole thing then slowed a little for the arrival of the VIPs; Jacques Rogge (President of the IOC) who seems to make even the dullest accountant I have ever met seem exciting and prince Harry representing the Royal family. Clearly he was never going to match his grandmother’s arrival at the opening ceremony! Obviously this was followed by our rather uninspiring, in my opinion, national anthem.
The whole show was a celebration of Britain and the next vignette was real class. It was the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 countdown by Michael Caine from the ‘Italian Job’ and then the iconic three-wheeled van of Trotter’s Independent Trading blew apart and out jumped, yes you guessed it, Del Boy and Rodney in their Batman and Robin costumes. A sublime moment and a nod to one of Britain’s greatest ever comedy shows; Only Fools And Horses.
The mood then turned very much to party as madness were driven around the arena playing “Our House” from the back of a truck. This tempo was kept up by the Massed Guards Bands with a wonderful rendition of Blur’s “Parklife”. Just when you thought it couldn’t get better the stadium was filled with cyclists wearing the most amazing geometric and fluorescent hats. Two of them on tricycles which had Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe as passengers. So we were treated to a fabulous version of “West Ends Girls” on bicycles and tricycles. Could this happen anywhere but the UK? I doubt it!
One Direction were next, like Madness they were on the back of a truck, which sadly wasn’t headed to the tip. OK I have to begrudgingly admit they were at least in tune, but I still don’t like them. Interestingly they were one of just a few acts whose name was flashed onto the screen when they appeared. After that it was back to another great number from the cast of Stomp. That percussion sounded like “Spice Up Your Life” to me. was that deliberate? Who knows? An incredibly talented dance troupe who I think were called Spelbound were next to take the stage. They performed a great routine to the Beatles Sergeant Pepper classic “A Day In The Life”
To keep up the 60s vibe Kinksmeister Ray Davies came on to sing his timeless and classic love song to London; “Waterloo Sunset”. eliciting some great ‘sha la la-ing’ from the audience in the process. Emilie Sande made a return next, minus the newspaper piano and sang over a film montage of some of London 2012’s most tearful moments. The three hundred or so flag bearers entered the arena after that, including super sailor Ben Ainslie fo Britain. Elbow soundtracked this whole piece with a great little set that included the beautiful “Open Arms”. The athletes followed the arrival of the flag bearers and they were corralled into the sections of the union jack which formed the floor of the stadium. Apparently this version of the flag was designed by Damien Hirst. Indian drummers then accompanied the construction of a large structure made up of more than three hundred white boxes. One to represent each Olympic event. The backing track to this was Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill”. I had momentary butterflies while wishing and hoping that Kate might actually appear herself. But alas she didn’t.
Apparently one of the traditions of the closing ceremony is that it contains the last medal presentation. It is for the Mens Marathon which took place earlier in the day and was won by Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda. This was followed by a thank you and recognition for all the volunteers, or Games makers as they were known from all the athletes. This was followed by a spectacular light show to the unmistakable sound of Queen’s mighty “Bohemian Rhapsody” followed by a children’s signing choir singing John Lennon’s “Imagine”. This segued into a film clip of Lennon singing the song himself. Apparently Yoko Ono commissioned a special remaster of the song for the ceremony. At the same time a 3D image of John Lennon’s face was built on stage. This was a prelude to the main musical events.
George Michael took to the stage for his first live performance since his life threatening illness he sang “Freedom 90” his new single “White Light” which is in fact all about his brush with death. He seemed fit and well and on really good form. I’m not sure I like the new facial hair style though, perhaps it will grow on me! Ricky off of the Kaiser Chiefs was driven to the stage as a scooter pillion passenger singing “Pinball Wizard”. I have gone off the Kaisers of late, by I must admit they did a storming version of the Who’s classic. The next part had me positively tingling with anticipation; A series of short film and audio clips of David Bowie. Would he actually appear? Surely not? And surely he didn’t. But his 1980 hit “Fashion” was used as a backdrop to a showcase of British fashion which included a weird march around the stadium from a series of models including Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss.
George couldn’t master Mo Farah’s Mobot so he invented the Georgebot
A huge skeleton of what might have been a viking boat was pulled on stage and the hidden figurehead was none other than Annie Lennox. She performed “Little Bird” which was used on the soundtrack of Coppola’s film version of Bram Stoker’s classic story Dracula. The much rumoured Pink Floyd appearance turned out to be nothing more than Ed Sheerhan, Nick Mason and Mike Rutherford doing the Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” accompanied by a tightrope walker who recreated the Floyd album cover with the flaming man.
Russell Brand arrived on stage in what looked like the Scooby Doo van and he was singing, he’s not a bad singer either. He got out of the van to perform the Beatles’ “I Am The Walrus”. The van begat a giant inflatable octopus from which Fatboy Slim did a brief DJ set featuring his own hits “Right Here Right Now” and “Rockerfeller Skank”. Jessie J then sang “Price Tag” in an open top car she was joined by Tinie Tempah then Taio Cruz with “Dynamite”. All in open top cars. Then all three of them took the stage for a creditable performance of the Bee Gees disco classic “You Should Be Dancing”. As they were performing in front of a drum kit marked up with the name of Beady Eye it was obvious who was going to be on later!
A group of London Black cabs entered stadium and performed a kind of synchronised dance. Then five of them moved to the centre of the arena and were lit up with some spectacular lighting arrays. This wasn’t the best kept secret of the show, but guess who the passengers in these five cabs were? Yes it was Scary, Sporty, Baby, Ginger and Pouty…. oops sorry I mean Posh. It was the return of the Spice Girl. They kicked off with possibly one of the greatest pop singles of the 90s (OK that doesn’t mean you have to like it); “Wannabe”. They followed this with the samba rhythmed “Spice Up Your Life” which they performed while being driven around the stadium atop the cabs that brought them in. As expected after seeing their drum kit earlier Beady Eye were next. Thankfully they didn’t play any of their own stuff, just a cover of “Wonderwall” which seemed to go down really well as a sing along with the crowd. Liam seemed quite nervous to me and is his voice a little rough these days?
ELO’s “Mr Blue Sky” was played as a backdrop for a section pioneering flight. This included flying bikes and a failed human cannonball who just happened to be Monty Python star Eric Idle who led the audience in a marvellous sing-alonga-python version of “Always look On The Bright Side Of Life”. he even made a great comedic attempt to join in with some Bollywood style dancing. This whole piece was perhaps the equivalent of the Mr Bean set in the opening ceremony. It ended with the real and successful firing of a human cannonball.
Matt Bellamy and the boys from Muse were the next to appear and they performed their song “Survival” which was commissioned for the Olympics. It’s good and their performance was excellent as usual but this is a long way from being my favourite Muse song. Interestingly, as some have likened Muse to Queen they were followed by a film clip of Freddie Mercury performing some improv jazz scat and despite being dead for more than twenty years the audience were enraptured and joined in the whole Freddie call and response thing. This proved to be the overture to Brian May’s appearance and it’s fair to say that he’s quite a good guitarist isn’t he? 😉 As the unmistakable riff to “We Will Rock You” began and Brian was joined by Roger Taylor I was briefly worried that Adam Lambert or someone similar might step onto the stage. Thankfully it was Jessie J, and inspired choice in my opinion. She did a great vocal on the song which never tried to emulate the late, great Mr Mercury.
It was then time to return to the formal activities which meant the Greek national anthem followed by a Welsh Male Choir version of the Olympic Anthem. This was sealed with the Brazilian national anthem and a formal handing over of the Olympic flag from London’s Mayor Boris Johnson to the Mayor of Rio De Janeiro via Jacques Rogge. The Brazilians then put on a samba fuelled show to let the world know what to expect in 2016. This culminated in an appearance by one of their greatest sports ambassadors; Pele. Then we had more formal stuff with speeches from Seb Coe and Jacques Rogge. Seb was quite inspiring Jacque was once again the definition of dull in my opinion. The remaining action was the extinguishing of the flame. This began with Take That (thankfully without Robbie) performing the appropriate “Rule The World”. It continued with Darcy Bussell flying in as a Phoenix to join two hundred other ballet dances for an exciting modern ballet.
The petals of the cauldron where the Olympic flame burned were then lowered and were slowly extinguished and at this point I thought that was the end. However there was more to come in the shape of the Who. They were on top form and for a pensioner Roger Daltrey’s vocal power is still damned good. They closed with a rousing version of “My Generation” accompanied by yet another magnificent firework display.
I fell a little deflated after such a brilliant two weeks but so very proud to be British. I truly believe that we really showed the world what we are capable of as a country. Not just in the Olympic events but by how we put on such a brilliant event in itself. In spite of the little hiccups before the start (G4S etc) we really delivered this in style and won a whole treasure box of medals too. So let me take this opportunity to congratulate and thank everyone in Team GB, the organisers, all the other competitors, the BBC, the volunteers/ Games Makers and anyone else who was involved in this remarkable event.
Was this the best Olympics ever? I believe it as. Rio follow that!
Most of the film clips from the ceremony are IOC copyright and therefore difficult to show. So here are two songs that sum things up in a simple way.
Getting closer to the big day by the hour now and behind one of the few remaining perforated cardboard door flaps on my UK Christmas Number Ones Advent Calendar today, December 23rd, is a song that has been the Christmas number one on three separate occasions and technically by different acts each time. It was number one firstly in the Christmas of 1984, then in 1989 and most recently in 2004. It was the last UK Christmas number one before the X Factor winners had four years in a row, finally broken last year by Rage Against The Machine. You have probably guessed that the song is “Do They Know It’s Christmas” originally by Band Aid in 1984, then Band Aid II (1989) followed by Band Aid 20 (2004). Maybe it’ll be top again for the 30th anniversary in 2014.
It was number one fora total of 12 weeks; 5 weeks in 1984, 3 weeks in 1989 and 4 weeks in 2004. The song was written by Bob Geldof off of the Boomtown Rats and Midge Ure off of Ultravox after they had seen the news coverage of the 1984 famine in Ethiopia. They had aimed to raise money for famine relief and the single and subsequent Live Aid concert probably went way beyond their initial expectations. It sold more than a million copies in its first week alone and went on to sell 3.5 million copies. It remained the fastest and highest selling UK single until Elton John’s rerecording of “Candle In The Wind” following the death of Princess Diana in August 1997. The song was recorded on November 29th 1984 at SARM Studios in London after Geldof gathered the great and good of pop music at the time. The opening line was originally written for David Bowie, who was unfortunately unable to make it, so it was done by Paul Young. The single was released just 4 days after the recording on December 3rd 1984 and remember this was way before the days of downloads.
Midge Ure produced the original version, it was offered to Trevor Horn but he was not in the UK at the time. Stock, Aitken and Waterman produced the 1989 version. Some artists such as David Bowie and Paul McCartney were unable to be at the recording of the original so provided messages that appeared on the B-Side. Members of Bananarama appeared on the 1984 and 1989 version whilst Bono sang the same line in 1984 as he did in 2004; ‘Well, tonight, thank God it’s them, instead of you’. On the 2004 version Dizzee Rascal also added some new lyrics.
The artists that appeared on each version are listed below;
BAND AID (1984)
Bono, U2, Phil Collins, Bob Geldof, Boomtown Rats, Tony Hadley, Spandau Ballet, Midge Ure, Ultravox, Simon Le Bon, Duran Duran, Paul Young, Heaven 17, Marilyn, Bananarama, Jody Watley, Paul Weller, Kool & The Gang, George Michael , Status Quo, Boy George, Culture Club, Sting, Holly Johnson, Big Country
BAND AID II (1989)
Bananarama, Big Fun, Bros, Cathy Dennis, D Mob, Jason Donovan, Kevin Godley, Glen Goldsmith, Kylie Minogue, Pasadenas, Chris Rea, Cliff Richard, Jimmy Somerville, Sonia, Lisa Stansfield, Technotronic, Wet Wet Wet
BAND AID 20 (2004)
Bono, Daniel Bedingfield, Natasha Bedingfield, Vishal Das, Busted, Chris Martin, Dido, Dizzee Rascal, Ms Dynamite, Skye Edwards, Estelle, Neil Hannon, Justin Hawkins, Jamelia, Tom Chaplin, Tim Rice-Oxley, Beverley Knight, Lemar, Shaznay Lewis, Katie Melua, Róisín Murphy, Feeder, Snow Patrol, Rachel Stevens, Joss Stone, Sugababes, Thrills, Turin Brakes, Robbie Williams, Will Young, Francis Healy, Danny Goffey, Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, Paul McCartney, Francis Healy, Andy Dunlop, Dougie Payne
If you would like to donate to Oxfam then click here
Earlier this week I finished reading the two volumes of Julian Cope‘s autobiography; ‘Head-On‘ and ‘Reposessed’ and I enjoyed them both immensely. I was no more than a casual fan of the Teardrop Explodes, although the fact that their name originated from a Marvel comic certainly sparked some interest in me. I always felt they were far better than some of the over-produced cack that the early 80s pumped out (Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran etc)
Julian cope struggles to find his guitar which opted for the hide in plain sight option
I got into Julian’s solo output in the early 90s, which is after the period that the two books cover. ‘Head-On’ runs up to 1982 and ‘Repossessed’ from 1983 to 1989. Both books are incredibly open and honest and Julian bares both his soul and his feelings regularly. I think he comes across as a great bloke, who stays loyal to his friends, know’s his enemies and is very, very much in love with his wife Dorian. Incidentally a friend of mine (thank you Mr Hayhurst) once met Dorian at a Black Crowes gig, he said she was lovely.
Clearly too much acid can leave your eyes fried!
I got a real sense from his writing that he really knows who he is, although perhaps he didn’t in the early days, and where he wants to go. I was also very pleasantly surprised to read about his interest in toy collecting, in particular toy cars. They say that all of us men revert to childhood as we get older and perhaps that’s why my comic collection appears to be growing at the same rate as Julian’s toy collection did!
The book includes some great pieces on many of the people involved in the Liverpool scene of the late 70s/ early 80s; Echo and the Bunnymen‘s Ian McCulloch and Pete DeFrietas, Pete Burns (eventually off of Dead Or Alive), Holly Johnson and Paul Rutherford (eventually off of Frankie Goes To Hollywood), Pete Wylie (off of various incarnations of Wah) and Bill Drummond (eventually off of one of my favourite 90s acts; the KLF)
When times were hard Julian would play anywhere with anyone!
The stories of touring America are on a par with Ian Hunter’s fabulous ‘Diary Of A Rock N Roll Star’ which is probably my favourite biographical rock book ever! As for the stories of Mr Cope’s solo tours in Japan, well they are just bloody hilarious. So if you like a good rock music book check these out! I am an even bigger fan after reading these books and finally in the words of Julian himself ‘Awlright!’
So before you take a look at the videos and sounds below check out Julian’s excellent Head Heritage site.
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”
Todays very brief post (well by my usual standards anyway) is a small collection of recent music news, just in case you missed it.
A number of Liverpool musicians and former players have recorded a charity single in memory of the 96 people who lost their lives at the Hillsborough disaster in 1989. The 20th anniversary of that tragic event is next month, it remains the UKs biggest sporting disaster. The song is a terrace anthem of the Kop at Liverpool FC, called “The Fields Of Anfield Road”. Peter Hooton of the Farm has written a new verse for the song. he is joined by John Power, formerly of the La’s and Cast on the song which was produced by Ken Nelson who has also produced Coldplay. A number of former Liverpool players, including Bruce Grobbelar and John Aldridge also provide a vocal contribution. Click here to see the BBC news piece on the song.
Puerto Rican Merengue singer Elvis Crespo (now that is one superb name if you ask me!) has been accused of exposing himself during a flight in the US. Maybe it was a Ryanair flight and he didn’t have enough change for the toilet! As it was in US airspace the incident was reported to the FBI. He was questioned by airport authorities in Miami but has not been arrested. Check out his Myspace page here
Elvis tries to cover up his in flight...........errrr.......'wardrobe malfunction' (thank you Janet J) with some colourful letters.......which are not from France!
And a final piece of news for today, Spandau Ballet are reforming. I can’t imagine there is any other reason than money. The Sex Pistols were quite honest about reforming for money in 1996 even going so far as naming the tour “The Filthy Lucre Tour”. Where do you stand on bands reforming? Overall I am really not keen on it, it leads to all kinds of crap bands getting back together. I mean even Shed Seven reformed a year or two back……..wtf? There was a fabulous quote from Morrissey once when questioned yet again about a Smiths reunion. His response was something like “I would rather eat my own testicles than see the Smiths reform” Now I can honestly say he was talking bollocks! Anyway take the Spandau Ballet reformation poll below!
The Spandau boys had once again raided their Mum's wardrobes for stage clothes
To end this particular post here is yet another in a series of shameless plugs for my son Luke’s band, ‘Steal The Smile‘. If you haven’t checked them out before do it now, they’re bloody good. If you like good pop punk type stuff a la Blink 182 you’re gonna love ’em! Click the band name to be safely delivered to their MySpace page!
Steal The Smile an excellent band from the Reading area - pay to go and see them or buy them a shirt