With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

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

The Specials – Barbican, York – Thursday 9th May 2019 May 12, 2019


This was the third time I had seen the Specials, once back in the early days and more recently at this same venue back in November 2016. That 2016 gig was marred by the poor sound quality and a relatively short set from the band. Was it better this time? Well yes, it was, but before I tell you about that you need to know about the spectacularly talented support band the Tuts. Regular readers will know that I am a big fan of this all-girl punk powerhouse of a band from the area of west London that I hail from. They have rather skillfully rechristened themselves a three-tone band for this tour. A support slot like this doesn’t come along too often and it is perfect for the Tuts. I have previously seen them supporting Kate Nash and the Selecter and this is now the seventh time I have seen them play live since February 2014. They simply get better and better every time and I believe that they are still some way from reaching their peak. Nadia, Bev, and Harriet played a rabble-rousing selection of songs from the Tuts debut album ‘Update Your Brain’. Particular highlights were “Always Hear The Same Shit”, “1982” and “Dump Your Boyfriend”. But the song that really set the crowd alight like a Molotov cocktail in a firework factory was “Tut Tut Tut”. Bear in mind that when the Tuts were announced as the support for this tour almost all the shows had sold out so the girls had to win the audience over. They didn’t just win them over they thrashed them into submission to a point where they had no choice but become fans. The energy generated by this band could power a small city. We were given a choice of cover versions and the crowd chose the Clash classic “Rudie Can’t Fail” rather than the Spice Girls “Wannabe”. Personally, I would have been happy with either but the Clash tune won by a landslide and I am sure that the ghost of Joe Strummer was filled with pride by the Tuts version. The Tuts merch stand looked to be doing great business later in the evening with, hopefully, legions of Specials fans now also into the Tuts. I do know that my mate Simon Hernaman purchased the Tuts album on CD. If you have not yet seen or listened to the Tuts you really need to sort your life out and do it. I reckon they are probably one of the best, if not the best, bands in the UK right now. I do know that Nad Tut disagrees with me on that, she told me that they see themselves as the best band in the world and frankly who am I to argue with that! Go Tuts!

Finally, it was the turn of the Specials to take to the stage, they were preceded by a wonderfully exuberant and tasteful DJ set by Saffiyah Khan. The band opened at full pelt with “Man At C & A” with Lynval firing up the crowd from the opening salvo, although to be fair we didn’t need much firing up. There were some inspired selections from their critically acclaimed album ‘Encore’, notably “Vote For Me”, the Valentines cover “Blam Blam Fever” and an impassioned “Ten Commandments” which featured Saffiyah Khan. But the highpoint of the newer material was for me the reworked Fun Boy Three tune “The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum” which is still, sadly as highly relevant now as it was when it was originally released back in 1981. The three remaining original members of the band, Lynval Golding, Horace Panter (a.k.a. Sir Horace Gentleman) and Terry Hall were on top form. Hall’s laconic dry humour was on display on pretty much every occasion he chose to speak to the crowd. Special mention must be given to one of the UK’s greatest guitar players, Steve Cradock who added some intense rock sounds to every song. What I have always loved about the Specials is how when they do a cover version it really does become one of their own, particularly in the live arena. The crowd were full on skanking for “A Message To You Rudy” (originally by Dany Livingstone), “Do The Dog” (originally by Rufus Thomas) and it would be an understatement to say that the crowd went apeshit (no pun intended) for a riotously uncontained romp through the Maytals “Monkey Man”. It is the originals from the early days, though, that hit the highest heights for me. “Do Nothing”, “Rat Race”, “Nite Klub”, “Friday Night, Saturday Morning”, “Gangsters” and “Too Much Too Young” still retain nuclear levels of ska punk power. A nineteen song set took us to the inevitable encore and what a treat that encore was. It kicked off with a reggae instrumental jam, I have no idea what the title was. This was followed by another classic that is still as pertinent today as it was nearly forty years ago, “Ghost Town”. This mercurial performance from the Specials was closed with a Skatalites cover “You’re Wondering Now” which also featured Saffiyah Khan. This was a fitting end to a truly great show which proved beyond any reasonable doubt that the Specials have still got it!

 

Public Service Announcement – all the pictures, apart from the tour poster, were taken on my cheap android phone. The videos were found on YouTube. If you would like to be credited or have them removed please let me know.

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The Specials – York Barbican – Tuesday 1st November 2016 November 3, 2016


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Once again I have attended a gig at the York Barbican where the sound was not great quality. Maybe that has something to do with relocating the sound desk to the side of the stage and therefore behind the main audience speakers. The support band for this gig were General Roots, an excellent reggae band from London. Initially I put the sound down to just not allowing sound check for a support band, but I doubt that was the case. They did come across as a very talented band even with the poor sound production. The biggest impact on them was not being able to hear their MC Mr Minister. I particularly liked their songs “Special” and “Walk Tall”. My beautiful wife Catherine (a.k.a. Catwoman) also loved the latter.

generalroots-8

Now i did have some misgivings about seeing the Specials with only three original members left (Terry, Lynval and Horace). I last saw them in around 1980 and I have always felt that Jerry Dammers was the real heart and drive behind the band and I was disappointed that he chose not to get involved in the reunion back in 2008. Dammers had a writing credit on the majority of Specials songs. Having seen them again for the first time in 36 years I don’t believe that this incarnation of the band is a patch on the original line up for the first two albums.

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As with the support band the sound was not of great quality and at times lacked clarity and was a little ‘muddy’. They kicked off their set with “Ghost Town” which was probably their biggest hit based on chart positions around the world. It was also their second UK number one. It remains a great song but as the set progressed I felt like they had played their set list in reverse and in my opinion peaked (if indeed they did peak) much too soon. Terry Hall was by his own admission in a shitty mood and for me this was reflected in his sullen and at times spoilt brat performance. In my opinion I felt like we were watching an average Specials tribute band. There were some highlights, notably Steve Cradock who played to his usual high standards. Lynval’s acoustic rendition of Bob Marley’sRedemption Song” was alright.

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I know that many people will not share my opinion given by the volume of people who sang and danced the night away. But in my opinion this is a band that should not have reformed I think they are a very pale imitation of what they were, more like The Averages than The Specials. Sorry boys but that really wasn’t a great gig in my opinion, I gave it an hour before leaving but I doubt that myself and Catwoman will be coming to see you anytime soon.

 

“Get your face off the Facebook and turn off your phone” May 4, 2010


Squeezing into that little box was easy, but Gordo, Dave and Nicky realised it was going to be bloody difficult to get out!

As I have said many times before this is ostensibly a music blog and therefore pretty much everything I write about gets taken in that direction. This post is no exception. Thursday 6th May sees another General Election in the UK, the 8th one that I have been eligible to vote at, having reached official voting age before the 1979 election.

If only it were true 🙂

I have never failed to cast my vote and I urge you to do the same. It is the apathetic voters that allow the extremists into power, we cannot let that happen with evil and deluded parties like the BNP. But this week those of us in the UK should also vote for change. I know that voting for change is somewhat of a cliché, however I believe that our first past the post system has now had its day. A system that would allow the party with fewer votes to win more seats in parliament is not right, is it?

Most of the fake posters for this election have been better than the real ones don't you think?

In many ways I don’t care who you vote for, but I do care that people actually get off their arse and use theirs. So don’t let the country down, let’s mobilise for a massive turnout!

While you consider who you vote for here are some alleged trivial facts about the leaders of the three main parties; Nick Clegg once set fire to a very rare cactus. Gordon Brown apparently eats nine bananas a day and David Cameron is a direct descendent of King William IV

As I said at the start this is not a vehicle to voice my political opinions, (well perhaps apart from my dislike of the BNP) it’s a music blog. So here are twenty political type songs for you to enjoy while watching the remaining election coverage this week. Enjoy! You can follow the election on the BBC or the Guardian(I will be). Oh and there is also a hidden track somewhere in this post, have you found it? The usual crap prize, subject to postage awaits the first person to tell me what it is and where it is!

Ball Of Confusion – Temptations. This song reminds me so much of my youth and for me is one of the greatest songs Norman Whitfield produced for the Temptations. There was also a pretty good cover produced for Tina Turner by Glenn Gregory and Martyn Ware off of the British Electric Foundation (BEF), also off of Heaven 17 and also once off of the Human League! Click here to listen to Tina’s version.

Elected – Alice Cooper. Probably one of my favourite Alice Cooper songs. Did you know he actually ran for the US Presidency in 1972? With a hook line of “They’re changing guards at President Palace, out goes Nixon and in comes Alice” Why I remember that line I don’t know, but it has been stuck in my head now for nearly 40 years! There was a cover of this song a few years ago in aid of Comic Relief which I believe was credited to Mr Bean and Bruce Dickinson off of Iron Maiden. Click here for that one!

Electioneering – Radiohead. Taken from the classic ‘OK Computer’ album and seen by many as one of the greatest political songs. It also takes a nice dig at the IMF too

Election Day – Arcadia. The Duran Duran offshoot that wasn’t the Power Station, well that’s my view. I would always prefer a band with Robert Palmer as vocalist rather than Simon Le Bon. Which one did you prefer?

The Politics Of Dancing – Re-Flex. In this list purely for the title! You know how low my opinion of most 80s stuff is! ‘Nuff said!

You Haven’t Done Nothing – Stevie Wonder. Now this is a superb song and so true of today’s politicians. If you listen carefully you can hear Stevie bringing the backing vocalists in when he says “Jackson Five come sing along” Yes, it was the Jackson clan providing the ‘doo do wops’ on this song

Abraham, Martin And John – Marvin Gaye. Motown really started to get politics in the late 60’s and early 70’s didn’t it, this was in advance of Marvin’s classic ‘What’s Going On’ album, more of which later. I believe that Dion off of Dion and the Belmonts also had a hit with this

Stand Down Margaret – The Beat. In the event her own party stood her down. Whilst I was really pleased that it happened it was pretty disloyal wasn’t it?

A Design For Life – Manic Street Preachers. For me the opening line says everything about when the working class really moved forward. “Libraries gave us power”

Police And Thieves – Clash. I will never tire of hearing this excellent cover of Junior Murvin’s brilliant song, oh and did I tell you that I consider the Clash to be the best band there has ever been? I did? I thought so

So Much Trouble In The World – Bob Marley And The Wailers. No political song list would be complete without Mr Marley in my opinion and there are so many good ones to choose from.

The President Wore Pearls – Lisa Simpson. What can I say about this? Lisa is trying to get elected but doesn’t think she will be cool enough

Anarchy For The UK – Sex Pistols. Well we may not have anarchy by Friday but we will probably have a hung parliament as opposed to some parliamentarians who should be hung. Duck islands and moats indeed!

Rocking In The Free World – Neil Young and Pearl Jam. Great combination which gives Mr Young extra added rock power, also a bloody good song too

Vote Baby Vote – Lady Kier off of Deee Lite. This was put together for an MTV special ‘Rock The Vote’ show, so it’s perhaps more a jingle than a song, but the message is very clear

I Wanna Grow Up To Be A Politician – Roger McGuinn off of the Byrds. I wonder if this is when politics became a career? I don’t know about you but the term career politician seems to be an oxymoron, with the emphasis on the moron bit for many of them!

Wake Up The Nation – Paul Weller. Is there no stopping this bloke? His last album ’22 Dreams’ was fantastic and the new one ‘Wake Up the Nation’ is even better in my opinion. Nice to hear him getting a tad angry too. How weird is it that Old Etonian David Cameron claims ‘Eton Rifles’ by the Jam as one of his favourite songs? Surely he can’t have listened to the lyrics can he?

Ghost Town – Specials. Reached number one at the height of Thatcher’s early years and amidst all the inner city rioting across the UK. It really summed up the nation at the time I think. It was the night the band performed this on Top Of The Pops that Terry Hall, Lynval Golding and Neville Staple told Jerry Dammers that they were leaving the band to form the Fun Boy Three. Whose first hit was, and still is, appropriate for politicians; “The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum

What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye. Taken from one of my favourite albums of all time and the lyrics and message are still sadly relevant today, nearly 40 years after it’s release

Arrogance, Ignorance And Greed – Show Of Hands. One of Catwoman’s favourite bands and she has got me into them too. The message on this one fits pretty well all modern politicians and perhaps bankers too. Most of them are arrogant, ignorant greedy bastards aren’t they?

 

“Cos we hate what you do and we hate your whole crew, so please don’t stay in touch” June 1, 2009


Hello again peeps. Apologies but work has kept me away from blogging recently, but having read yesterdays Observer (it’s a UK Sunday newspaper for those of you outside the UK) I felt I had to say something. I guess this post may be deemed political, but I’ll certainly sweeten it with some music! OK many of you are aware of the recent issues with British MPs expenses, so I won’t bore you with more details about moat clearing and duck islands. Among other things this whole expenses debacle has served to considerably undermine the image and confidence in the three main parties. With a set of European elections coming up and a large number of local elections this may present the ideal opportunity for extreme right wing parties like the BNP to gain a foothold. Like many other UK voters I am very disappointed with the recent behaviour of all the major parties although (and I can’t believe I would ever say much in praise of the Tories) I have been quite impressed with how Cameron has handled it.

Anyway back to the BNP, they are desperate to present themselves as a proper political party when in my opinion they are nothing much more than racist scum. Like many people I will be voting next Thursday and most likely not for one of the three majors. However I would urge all of you with the vote to use it, but please if you have any sense and decency do not use it on the BNP. They are on the same level as Hitler and should not be allowed to fool people into thinking they are respectable. If you are thinking of voting for the BNP please, please read the article from yesterdays Observer and reconsider your views. The European elections are based on proportional representation and these people only need 8% of the vote. So vote for anyone except the BNP but do not take the not voting option as that is both what they want and what they need. Click here to read that article.

OK I promised some music as this is ostensibly a music blog so let’s kick off with the rather excellent “Guess Who Batman” from the rather splendid Lily Allen. You may have heard this track before, perhaps you even know it as the “Fuck You Song” but this time take the time to read and listen to the lyrics. Let’s all sing this at the BNP on Thursday!

Secondly I’ve chosen a song by the Specials (I guess you’d say Mark 2 as it was recorded after Terry Hall, Neville Staple and Lynval Golding left. It is the rather hard hitting “Racist Friend” I guess you’ve noticed now that these are all on an anti racism trip!

Let’s finish with perhaps one of the greatest anti racism songs ever. “Strange Fruit” by the late great Billie Holliday

OK that’s your lot for today from this Guardian Reading C*nt (read the article in the Observer to understand that one) I’ve left out any pictures today as perhaps that would be too frivolous. I have just one more thing to say please use your vote on Thursday and vote for whoever you want, except for the racist scum that is the BNP. I know I can count on you. Thank you for listening!

 

“Bernie Rhodes knows, don’t argue” March 19, 2009


OK let’s get back to normal (bloody hell I’m not really normal am I?) service for this post. Before the birthday and ‘onthisday’ stuff let me start by saying that I’ve really been hammering the Soft Toy Emergency CD that I picked up for free at the Fibbers gig the other night. It’s bloody brilliant! You MUST check these guys out.

Whilst I’m on the MUST check out vibe, here is yet another shameless plug for my son Luke’s rather excellent band, Steal The Smile. Click on the name to head to their MySpace page.

As a follow up to celebrities some of the readers may know or indeed have met and following the piece on Justin Hawkins in a recent post, check out this picture of Simon P with Mr Hawkins. Feel free to send in your own starstruck pics and I’ll be happy to include them here.

Simon picks up some nail varnish tips from Justin

Simon picks up some nail varnish tips from Justin

Thank you to the wonderful people at Popbitch for this info but if you’re a Boy George fan and you’d like to write to him while he is banged up (oooo errrrr missus!) here is his new addresss; George O’Dowd, HMP – Edmunds Hill, Stradishall, Newmarket, Suffolk, CB8 9YN.

Popbitch also provided a link to this excellent clip of Ricky Gervais meeting Elmo, you have to watch it’s bloody funny

I also stole this musical related joke from Popbitch (and you’ll find the link to the Popbitch site in my favourite websites on the blog)
Q: What do you get when you cross Feargal Sharkey with Bernard Manning?
A: Racist undertones.

So onto just the one birthday for today, 19th March. It is the 50th birthday of Terry Hall off of the Specials (now reformed), Fun Boy Three, the Colourfield, Vegas and indeed solo. The Specials were originally known as the Coventry Automatics, Coventry being where the band originated from. As with so many excellent bands it was the late and very very great (very big l’s & g’s here) Mr John Peel who first played them on the radio. He played the rather excellent “Gangsters” on his show in early 1979. Hall left the Specials with Lynval Golding and Neville Staples to form the Fun Boy Three just after the massive success of “Ghost Town”. The Fun Boy Three also had two separate collaborations with Bananarama; “It Ain’t What You Do (It’s The Way That You Do It)” and “(He Was) Really Saying Something” It was of course the Specials, thanks to Jerry Dammers setting up Two Tone Records, that helped drive the late 70’s early 80’s ska revival forward. This was a great launch pad for many bands; Madness, the Beat (the English Beat in the US), the Selecter and many more. The Specials were invited to open for the Clash on the ‘On Parole’ Tour after Joe Strummer saw one of their gigs in 78/79. Here’s one for you fact fans, do you know who produced the first Specials album in 1979? No? well it was none other than Declan McManus better known as Elvis Costello. One of my favourite Specials songs is “Do Nothing” click the title to hear it and see it.

The Specials during their pole dancing period. The boys hadn't realised that it was supposed to be just one person at a time on the pole!

The Specials during their pole dancing period. The boys hadn't realised that it was supposed to be just one person at a time on the pole!

Sticking with the Specials for a moment or in fact I think it was the Special AKA, after Terry Hall had left. You may recall they released a song called “Free Nelson Mandela”. The week after the song was released there was an excellent letter in the NME. It was something like “I loved the Special AKA single so much that I bought it on the day of release. However I was extremely disappointed not to receive my free Nelson Mandela like it said on the cover” I wish that I had written that! Anyway here is the wonderful Amy Winehouse and a cast of thousands with an excellent version of “Free Nelson Mandela” from the Mandela Birthday Concert in Hyde Park last year.

A Pizza To You Rudy perhaps? I wonder if they received a free Nelson Mandela with that?

A Pizza To You Rudy perhaps? I wonder if they received a free Nelson Mandela with that?

On this day in 1965 the ‘Tailor And Cutter’ magazine published an article asking the Rolling Stones to wear ties to save tie makers from financial ruin. What the bloody hell is that all about then. I’ve had to wear a tie for most of my working life and indeed at school too, which started before many of you readers were born. I’ve never enjoyed wearing a tie, I’ve never seen the point. let’s face it they don’t keep you warm or keep your shirt buttoned up. OK maybe they act as a bib or napkin for messy eaters. But seriously what is the point of tying a coloured piece of cloth around your neck. You may well wonder why I still do it, I have two words in my flimsy defence; peer pressure! Yeah it’s feeble isn’t it. OK then let’s have your tie comments please.

Clearly no one had told new boy Ronnie Wood about the no ties rule

Clearly no one had told new boy Ronnie Wood about the no ties rule

On this day in 1976 the death of late great (here are those lovable l’s & g’s again) Paul Kossoff off of (now say that fast!) Free and Back Street Crawler and also the son of the excellent actor David Kossoff. He died of heart failure whilst on a flight from LA to New York aged just 25. He had a long history of drug abuse. Kossoff was with Free from 1968 to 1973, appearing on their final album and also one of my favourite albums of all time ‘Heartbreaker’ Although the band actually broke up for a few months during 71/72. When the band formed in 1968 their ages ranged from just 15 to a rather ancient 18. Kossoff was 17 at the time. Here are Free with the title track from the “Heartbreaker” album

That was either an enormous amp or Paul was very small

That was either an enormous amp or Paul was very small

 

 
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