Friday 20 April 2012

Bert Weedon 1920 -2012

If you play Guitar in a Pop or Rock band, it was Bert Weedon who taught you. Maybe not directly, but all the Guitarists you loved (Clapton, Townsend, May etc etc) bought that 'Play In A Day' book, read about how the Guitar works, learned E, A and D and then changed the world. 

Up until 'Play In A Day', music tuition books had been as dry as dust, but Bert made the learning relevant to the new generation of Guitarists - inspired by Skiffle and eager to form Beat Combos across the land. Romanced by the allure of the Electric Guitar, thousands of people bought the book and enriched their lives with music.

He was a self-effacing guy, never smug and genuinely amazed and righly proud that he had inspired people to learn an instrument. It's only a little bit of a hyperbole that he probably influenced as many people as musicians like Mark Knopfler, Steve Hillage, Sting and the countless others who picked up that book.

Without him, the landscape of music would be very different.

Mudskipper: "Eggshells"

Sometimes you find beauty in unexpected places...

It was July '98 (I think) that I ventured to The Flapper and Firkin in downtown Birmingham to see my current faves The Mutton Birds plug the 'Envy of Angels' album. I purchased my customary Diet Cola beverage (60% water, 35% nobrand cola drink, 5% sweat) and settled in to watch the support band. As we all know, this can be a bit of a lottery and often we can be treated to:
A terrible local band showing off in front of masses of their mates who vanish the moment they have finished
Some terrible labelmates of the main band who should have 'Tax Loss' stencilled over all their gear
A terrible solo acoustic guitar toting Nick Drake wannabe who really should have stayed in the back bedroom
A well meaning but mis-matched and terrible band booked by the promoter who are completely inappropriate for the main band, venue, audience or indeed, each other
A terrible band who are mates with the terrible sound man who should have all their equipment seized by the government

Cynical? Me?

But tonight was different. Shambling onstage were a band from Wolverhampton, just a few miles down the road. Not the most auspicious of introductions as Wolverhampton hasn't got the greatest history of producing Kick-ass Rock and Roll. Slade are from the outskirts of Wolvo and Scott Matthews (awesome contemporary singer songwriter) was born just downwind, but it's not a rich heritage. So, these four plain looking blokes picked up their guitars and were quietly incredible. None of the songs got past mid tempo. There were no howls of anguish from a dark place. No face melting uber-shreding solos were performed. Just fantastic music. A sort of delicious hybrid of Neil Young and The Blue Nile. In fact they did a beautiful version of Uncle Neil's 'Helpless' that night. And then they shuffled off again. Don McGlashan was moved to say during the MBs set 'I don't know about you, but I thought Mudskipper were bloody beautiful'. And he was right. They were. 

But like so many Midlands bands, their low key approach was to be their downfall. They issued a stunning, self released CD and then got a deal with Pomona who released another CD featuring tracks they'd already issued on their 'first' CD. They were that kind of band. They were massive in Willenhall, but sadly, nowhere else. After a fairly intensive trawl of the Interweb, I came up with nothing, apart from one lovely quote where they were described by a local paper as 'Wolverhampton's quietest band'. What an accolade!

So low key were the band, that I didn’t even know they made an album until about three months ago when an offhand comment by a member of my band resulted in a halted rehearsal and a frantic scramble for the CD. No viral marketing for these boys, then.

Posted here for your delectation is the 'self produced' CD with a couple of tracks from the rerecorded ‘second’ album which didn’t appear on the first. The Pomona (8 track) version is still easily available second hand on Fleabay or Amazon. Expect to pay no more than three quid. Both are called ‘Eggshells’, rather confusingly.

I know you've never heard of these guys, but check out the sample above. It's a stunning album and well worth a download. If you like it, let me know. I've found out that the Guitarist is still active as a promoter on the local music scene, so I'm sure he'd love to hear any comments, however belated.

Seriously...this is a quiet masterpiece of an album

Thursday 19 April 2012

Levon Helm 1940 -2012

Without a doubt one of the coolest dudes in Rock and Roll.

Have a safe journey Levon

Wednesday 18 April 2012

The Record Producers: UltraMegaSuperPost

Hi chums,

As a bit of a public service (and seeing how the original posts were bundled into files too big for me to upload to Mediafire) here are all the fantastic, BBC 'Record Producers' shows I have posted as individual files. Fill those gaps in your collection! Trade 'em with your mates! Stick them into this amazing presentation folder! - well maybe not the last one, but you get the idea. I've also snuck in a new one - Trevor Horn. Fascinating stuff. If you haven't heard these before, I really urge you to try one - the Roy Wood and 10CC shows are especially great - but I am biased...

Thanks again to Isaac Bonnell for finding the 'missing' Nile Rodgers show.

A little Nerdishness won't hurt ya! Go on...nourish your inner geek!