Thursday, 1 October 2020

BULLS HEAD BOB - OCT 2020. Lilly Winwood. HAGSTROM Guitars. The Day the Music Died.

Hello chums, Brummies, my friends around the world with a special mention this month for Sweden, thanks for dropping in and supporting the blog.  We all find ourselves in various stages of lockdown around the world and lately, moreso in good old Brum but us Brummies are made of sterner stuff and "we ain't gonna tek it lying down", although, to be honest, I've enjoyed the lying down bit a little too much and am yearning to be back up on my feet.

LILLY WINWOOD

I have made no reservations about my respect and admiration for the incredible talents of Steve Winwood from the first time I met him in 63/64 to right now.     I dont believe he has any areas of weakness at all in his field of music and has been instrumental in influencing many aspirants to the cause of music as a fluid, ever changing form, by not being a rigid bluesman for example, he has dipped freely into the cauldron of change and endeared himself to many.  It will come as no surprise that some of his creative genes must have been passed on to his children.   If nothing else, this virus lockdown has made me listen to the radio more and just last week I found myself listening to a lady singing a slowed down version of Steve Winwoods "Higher Love".  "She sounds good" I thought, then in the chorus I recognised Steve's voice doing the harmony.   

When I looked at the play list I saw that the lovely voice belonged to none other than LILLY WINWOOD and this is the first time I have heard her.  It would appear that back in 2016 this recording was used in the USA as the background music for a HERSHEY bar advert and bought her to the publics attention.  She has since released an EP "Silver Stage" and a new Album release is planned for 2021.   There can be a disadvantage to being an offspring of a famous musician and particularly if the offspring too wishes to make their mark in the music field.    I dont believe Lilley will have any difficulty in establishing herself as a solo force in her own right after having paid her dues with local bands in bars for some years and does not need the recording paraphanelia, predominantly Autotune, that other daughters of Brummie rock stars need.   So spend some time on the lookout for her new year release "Time Well Spent".    It shall be gracing my collection. Good one Lilly!

HAGSTROM GUITARS

As a result of this months Swedish support, it is timely to remind you that Sweden played it's part in the early beginnings of 60's Rock music courtesy of HAGSTROM guitars.  They made some pretty awful guitars at first, as did most of the post WW2 firms and traded under the Goya badge in the USA.  Hagstrom as a Brand started with three consecutive models from 1958, the first being the hideous sparkly Standard 80, followed by the absolutely terrible plastic monstrosity that was the Kent or Futurama 2 as it was known and the third being their first foray into something that was more of a serious instrument than a toy, the Hagstrom standard 1, 11 and 111 loosely based on the Les Paul. As per photo below.


The company then made some serious guitars and made one of the nicest 335 style guitars in the form of the excellent Super Swede.   They are worth a look at if you ignore the wall hangar rubbish they made to start with.

I take this opportunity to remind you that not all old guitars are collectible, some are best deposited into a skip. 

RUSSIAN CRAP

Here is a prime example of crap Russian stuff on sale currently on EBay, they are all awful but this one is probably the worst of them all.  Manufactured from aluminium, absolutely no expense or effort has been made to produce this shitpile.  It was probably made out of an old MIG fighter fuselage, although to be fair, there are no rivets showing, absolutely dreadful.  I think someone's asking 600 quid for it.  Hahahahahaha!!!! come on, let's grow up.


 The Day the Music Died 

I think we all know the Don McLean song American Pie and one of its hooks "the day the music died".  This was a reference to the death of Buddy Holly.  However I got a call from old mate Oggie the other day and we were discussing the lack of gigs or any kind of live performance owing to the Covid restrictions and we both thought that this could be the death knell for a lot of artists who have been going forever and whose names are known only to their age generation.

There are some who have been trading themselves as stars but in reality only had a small hit with a cover of someone else's song and are well past their sell by date with nothing new to offer.  Everything changes and music and style transcend the standard norms that have been around for far too long  and have become too predictable and boring.  We could be at that point now, during lockdown where, like me, people have started to listen to new artists and have started to forget some of those self appointed "stars" of old. In truth there are some I'd gladly see the back of.  It will be interesting to see what happens when the entertainment industry gets back into action.  Maybe its not the day the music died but the Day we forgot to remember.

FINALLY

Above all remember that our frustrations and bad moods at being trapped inside or in constant close quarters can lead to a bad day for all those around us.  We have an obligation to support our families and it is better to find ways of keeping our relationships safe, secure and loving.   So before you go complaining about little irritations, take a breath and think "do I really need to react badly to a trifling annoyance".  It could be the difference to a good day turning bad.

Love the ones you're with and keep safe.

Bob

Copyright: Bullsheadbob

Contact: Bobsbullocks@Gmail.com 











Monday, 31 August 2020

Bulls Head Bob - Sep 2020. BEAT group days in Birmingham. Electrify your Acoustic Guitar

 Watcha you Brummies, 

Another month bites the dust and what a month it was!! Hot as anything followed by the lightning storms that filled the heavens for a couple of days.  Followed by more storms and fierce wind.  I've had fierce wind more than a few times mind you and recommend a bowl of  stewed plums for a couple of days...... The live gig situation is terrible and the forecast doesn't look too good either,  nonetheless we need to keep our spirit alive and what better way than a touch of reminiscing back to the early 60's when there was live music in the form of pop groups in every pub in the City of "Brummagem by the Cole". What a fantastic era.


As some of you will know, we lost the great Chuck Botfield, lead guitarist and founder member of The Rockin Berries on the last day of June.  Due to a commitment I only had time to make a passing comment so please read the article by John Woodhouse at Brumbeat.Net by clicking HHERE.   Chuck was a lovely guy and inspired a whole generation of Brummy guitarists including me.  As a passionate learner I would go and see him occasionally and take my little pocket note book to jot down things I could work on or chord runs and things.  He played Chuck Berry songs just like his hero!!  He had fire in his belly in those days. 

As can plainly be identified The Rockin Berries were formed at the height of Chuck Berry mania when BRUMBEAT was at its zenith for Beat Groups and in Birmingham, Chuck Botfield was one of its leaders. 

BEAT GROUP DAYS

Johnny B Goode was the first thing we all had learned and the Chuck Berry rhythm suited the guitar like no other for Rock music, pulsating staccato half notes stabbing away over, four to the bar, bass runs in line with a four on the floor bass drum  BEAT music.  It opened the flood gates for groups to take any song and "Berrify it" by playing it faster and adding the rhythm.   A famous example would be "My Bonnie"  by Tony Sheridan and The Beatles.   The singer would be equipped with marracas and tambourine as extra percussion for those Bo Diddley moments!  With the arrival of the guitar solo the hi-hats would be opened to crash away, increasing the madness and during the "Screaming Times" the girls would go crazy, the whole band encouraged by the response would be elevated to greater heights and I, for one, would be dripping with sweat, head down, really really, playing my heart out.   

All those hours of constant practice were paying off and the excitement generated by the music filled me like nothing else could, I hadn't even heard of adrenalin but I was swimming in it and the group were always so enthusiastic it almost took your breath away.  There were stages we, the first wave of electric guitar groups, wanted to achieve, first paid gig, getting suits, getting a van and then getting it covered with lipstick messages from the fans then more gigs supporting bigger bands, getting a fan base, being top of the bill,  improving all the time, better equipment, getting a record contract and then being "Screamed at" and.....getting pulled off stage by eager females.   We had seen other bands like the Stones and Beatles etc being mobbed by hordes of teenage girls and wanted to experience the thrill of it all....adoration!!    

It was a crazy, exciting time for groups and although I'm glad I experienced the thrill of live performances from basic Rock, through the psychedelic phase and up until the end of that wonderful decade the BEAT phase was by far the most enjoyable.  

Through it all, the Chuck Berry riff, intros and solos appeared in differing forms and have done ever since although, these days, it lacks the excitement and emotion of having been through its creation and played it first 

Electrify your Acoustic.

I have a Tanglewood Electro acoustic which I have owned for 22 years, it has a beautiful warm tone and anyone who plays it loves it.  Its pre-installed Fishman pre-amp passed away peacefully recently and no amount of battery changing, swearing at or tapping it with a screwdriver would revive it.    I contacted Tanglewood asking if there was any replacement available, sadly no, not for old guitars.  I love the guitar and use it with a Marshall acoustic amp.  Now, I live in a remote neck of the woods so, owing to this lock down malarkey,  the normal supplier wasn't available so I looked on Ebay to see what I could do to "solucion-ize the problem" and saw a Fishman that was about the same dimensions as the one that needed changing.

I purchased a Fishman Presys blend Preamp, I was impressed by it having a microphone inside the guitar body as well as the normal bridge piezo pick-up strip which you can blend together to get a greater range of sensitivity and tone.   


There is always a danger of forgeries on sale and indeed there were a deal of suppliers advertising the same preamp all at different prices starting at around £12.  Buying the most expensive doesn't guarantee you are getting the genuine article either,  so how much of a risk did I want to take?   


I went for £25 plus post thinking if it blows up I will have to suck it up and say I'll never do that again.   So, anyway within a week of paying it was at my door.  No luxury packaging, ziplock bag with Fishman tag inside a padded envelope.   The contents were all there minus the 9v battery.  

The build is good, everything clips together nicely, there are some pictorial fitting instructions but I found some better installation videos on Youtube.   Taking out the broken one was easy.  The refitting process was just a question of sanding the opening to accommodate the slightly wider Presys and from then on it went smoothly enough for someone who is used to doing fiddly things, it would have gone a lot smoother had I purchased a new set of strings to replace the ones I had removed!!    3 days later with new strings attached, I slipped in the battery, attached a guitar lead and turned it on, there was a bit of a squeal from my bedside mini Laney amp that sounded "mistake like" but was resolved by me tightening the newly installed Jack plug connection, then it came to life.   It sounded a whole lot better when I connected the guitar to the Marshall however I will have to get accustomed to regulating the balance between mic and piezo till I find the "sweet spot".


I would have to say that this system, whether a knock-off or not, does the job fine, of course I don't have another example to judge it by.    It is a comparatively easy job to do and well within the grasp of someone with a bit of common sense and pacience, so if you have an old acoustic that you would like to use in your stage act or for recording without taking the expensive route of buying a new electro acoustic guitar you may find this a much cheaper option.   A Stanley knife, a drill and drill bit, Phillip's head screw driver and some masking tape is all you need, plus of course the pre-amp.    It's the cheapest way to electrify your acoustic guitar for stage or recording use and you get the satisfaction of having done it yourself.    Good luck!!!!  I should add that you might want to think twice about doing this to some rare or expensive instrument!!!  

FINALLY

Please be careful out there, do wear a mask, do use sanitizer, we have to live with this awful virus so please try not to pass it on.  That aside, be as happy as you can and love the ones you're with.


Bob

Copyright: Bullsheadbob

Contact:  bobsbullocks@gmail.com






 

Saturday, 1 August 2020

Bulls Head Bob Aug 2020. BULLS HEAD BOB...HOW TO WRITE A SONG. The Incomparable PETER GREEN. WATKINS RAPIER. CHUCK BOTFIELD RIP.

Hello Brummies, lockdown compatriots, Musos, Rockers and Rockettes,
you Loft Boys of Japan, psychedelic funksters and drifters. 

A special hello to my new freinds in Romania and the UAE!! Welcome.

1964, 15 years of age but looked 12, Hall Green, Birmingham.  Left school, worked for the CO-OP at Tysley and had my first Pint of Brown and Mild, I had a couple more and was as sick as a dog all the way home from Moseley.   

Later that same week, ........having listened to a Huddy Leadbetter LP we, our group, decided that we could do better than that and prepared ourselves to write our soon-to-be hit.  We sat around a dining table and looked at each other for a few minutes.  I, as the lead guitarist took the mantle and commenced a chugging blues rythmn with an added 7th every 4th beat.   The Bass player looked at me in a knowing manner and added a one note plod-a-long, the guaranteed escape route for the 4 stringers in the world.  Although the rhythm guitarist was there we left him to his own devices as he lived in his own space-time-continuum, never playing the same thing twice and spending more time cavorting around on the stage floor during gigs than actually adding a musical element " It's all about art man" he would be writhing about the base of the mic stand screaming at me when I was doing a solo.     So apart from him,  we were solid, in the groove, to use the music parlance of the 80's.    Kerchunk, kerchunk, kerchunk, we could have gone on forever, looking at each other that is! 

Now, if the whole band had pooled our lifes experiences there wouldn't have been enough to cover a Cream Cracker.   Being drunk and told off by your Mum, Truancy, Three fumbles, 12 love bites and being sick in someone's record player at a party hardly constituted a joint life of pain and suffering that we could translate in the form of a biting lyric.   I stared at the singer, waiting for him to put sense to all our experiences but even he, at the ripe old age of 16, with a grammar school education, hadn't been allowed to parties where there had been girls, "Unnecessary distractions from algebra"  his Mother said.   Three hours later he had written,  " I went down to the station"  ....we stopped right there, not even making it to the platform, because he had to go home for his Sunday dinner.  

We never talked about writing a song again because I think we all subconsciously agreed that it was a far too difficult thing to do and we maybe better off revisiting that particular scenario anew once one of us had had a shag at least!  We further discovered that nearly everybody had already been "Down to the Station", had "Woken Up this Mornin" and found "My Woman Done Gone".   

BULLS HEAD BOB
HOW TO WRITE A SONG
There is a truth and that is you have to write a hundred crappy songs before you learn to discern what it good and what is poo.   However, you have to start somewhere and writing a basic melody for you to put your words to is as good a way to start as any other, anyone can do it, its guaranteed to work so you have halved the difficulty straight away and you dont need to know how to write music notation!! 

EQUIPMENT
An exercise book with lined pages, a blue pen and a red one. 

1.   Write down the numbers 1 to 5 horizontally on a page of lined paper with a blue pen.  
These numbers represent the five BLACK notes of a piano keyboard starting from the left as Number 1 through to 5 as the last black key on the right, in the group of 3.  Only the black keys are played.

  
2.  Now, with the red pen, write on the next line down, a selection of the numbers 1 to 5, in any order, even repeating some of them.   Let's say you chose to write down 12 numbers as below but it could be any amount or back to front.  These numbers are totally random I assure you.

143522134321

We now need to decide if the tune is going to be slow or fast and set our tempo speed.  
Congratulations you have just written your first tune.  That's it.........and you havent played a note
Yet......

MAKING THE BASIC MUSIC
If you have a keyboard of any type available, but preferably with a metronome, start from the middle of the keyboard using the 5 black keys only, play the first four numbers of your own random choice, one note for each beat in this case 1 4 3 5.    It's just four notes but will be a short melody, try repeating this four note group for the next four beats or......play the next four notes of your random number selection, 2 2 1 3 to have an eight note melody. 

PUTTING WORDS TO MUSIC 
If you have written words already you can apply this same formula to the verses, words and syllables.  Using syllables as note changes as well as the words if you wish "Re-mem-ber" for example.

Use tricks to form melodies.   John Lennons melody for  the opening lines of "I am the walrus"
Is made up of two notes, in fact the two notes he heard from a police siren passing by....Dee dah Dee dah Dee dah Dee dah = I am/ he as/ you are /he as...etc   and remember too that you can use one note for several words

Other melodies have been formed using Morse code. The music for the popular comedy show "Some Mothers Do Ave Em" was written by converting the individual letters of the title into Morse code so S = dot dot dot, O = dash dash dash, M = dash E = dot and so on.  All these groups of dots and dashes can then be manipulated into our 5 black note conversion melody maker above.

This is really nothing new and was a trick of the trade in the great songwriting days of the Brill Building and Tin Pan Alley here in the UK but is something you may not have come across before to aid you to achieve your wishes to write a song.  This is straw for you to build bricks with.   I would love to be the claimant of this method but learned this trick through chatting with the great Alex Wharton one of the pioneers of Rock and Roll (The Most Brothers, creative element of the musical "Oliver", film star and producer of "Go Now" to name just a few of the million things he has been involved with, so if like me, you find this useful he's the guy to thank.   

It is interesting to note that during world war 2, musicians were used for code and cypher breaking work at Bletchley Park and for the Battle of Midway because we work in mysterious ways with 5 number groups which is the way codes are generally transmitted.



PETER GREEN........RIP
I first saw Peter Green at the Carlton Club, Erdington after he stepped into the breach with John Mayalls Bluesbreakers after EC had split the scene to form Cream.  I wasn't impressed one bit, I listened to Mayalls LP 'A Hard Road' with P Green and wasn't impressed and it wasn't because of any wrongdoing on his part either.  There are moments in Rock History that cant be bettered, the moments that encapsulate a feeling of greatness and that moment had occurred with The Bluesbreakers Beano LP with Eric at his thundering best, every note in every solo was the right one, there was more effort on Mayalls part too.   It was predictable that any sort of follow up to that would be incredibly hard to judge either as an LP or especially as the new featured guitarist in the J Mayall group.    
 
Within the year Peter Green left Mayall and with Mick Fleetwood persuaded John McVie, a staunch Mayall bassist to join with them and call themselves Fleetwood Mac after Mick and John's surnames respectively.   Released from Mayalls business-like grip on his musicians was like a blessing and now Peter Green bloomed with a hard rocking blues band aided on slide guitar by Jeremy Spencer.   Although he and Spencer "Went down to the Station" in the bands formative months, Green developed his own melodic approach to his song writing and wrote the first of his 'world beating' songs "Black Magic Woman", it was, his 'moment', his awakening of blues in another form, his songs were now the perfect platform to display his unique guitar style and sound which was mature and oozed emotion.   If I had written Black Magic Woman I would have been happy for the rest of my life, this song though was just the first of his incredible catalogue including The Green Manalishi, Man of the World and Oh Well.   Every single one of those songs is a genuine world classic, two rockers and the beautifully written Man of the World with its soul touching lyrics, guitar fills and a solo that didnt just come along, he dug every note of that from his very being, superb!!
 
"I need your love so bad" which, although not written by him (Little Willie John 1955) contains some of his finest "touch" guitar work ever but even above that his vocal interpretation was incredible and one that ranks with the highest of any blues singer in my humble opinion.

"Albatross", their only instrumental hit was nothing more than a stocking filler, for me.  Middle of the road slush.

In 1968 Fleetwwod Mac swelled their ranks by the addition of third guitarist Danny Kerwan because Green thought they could go further and also said he didn't want to be responsible for everything, this was a bit of a chink in his emotional make up.   At their height they did a gig in Berlin and upon arrival at the airport Peter and Danny got whisked off to a commune in a forest where they were given too much/took too much or were fed some hyper-LSD that had a devastating effect on them and Green came out of it a lot worse off than Kirwan.  His mind had been fried.

He left the band shortly after and made two dreadful LPs, I bought them both and played them once, it appeared that his time was up.   He lived in a small house and was getting robbed by a variety of ne'er do wells and could be seen wandering around Twickenham looking like a tramp, dreadfully unkempt, carrying around a couple of plastic bags with nicotine stained fingernails that had overgrown and were curled.   He had sold his Les Paul guitar to Gary Moore for a song.   

By a stroke of luck, a girl got the feeling the tramp was following her, then thought that she knew him and went and asked "Is that you Peter?"    She was the person who saved his life and got him some help and got him cleaned up.  After a lot of time and care by his friends and some persuasion he made a comeback with The Splinter Group including Cozy Powell.    Eric Clapton showed up for the gig too giving Peter some encouragement.  Whispering Bob Harris was the compere of the festival where the band were performing, he walked onto the stage and said   "How many years have we all waited for this moment??" the crowd were up for it.

Greeny took to the stage to the roars of the eager and opened with "I'm going Down", nice classic blues.  It was evident from the off that the great Peter Green was no longer available and we were left with just a bit of his echo.   Both his voice and guitar playing were weak,  nonetheless the crowd knew he was damaged goods and although they probably hoped for more, all got behind him in the knowledge of just how difficult it must have been for him to do that. 
A rush of love for him was overwhelming and it would be fair to say that that love has been undying by his many who knew him "back then".  

That initial concert was a long time ago and The band have been on the circuit a lot.
I think we have all lived in hope that maybe, just for a moment, we could have seen a true touch of his previous genius come sneaking through. His past greatness has been recorded for all to hear.  There is some marvellous footage of the original Fleetwood Mac on Youtube playing live in France and at The Playboy Mansion that pays testament to what a fantastic live band they were with their leader at the top of his game.
The Fleetwood Mac that emerged from that band are a completely different animal and although a bigger band on the world stage, have no relation to their brilliant, dynamic, beginings.   
We British have a knack of producing the worlds best guitarists but none of them had or have  the "touch" of Peter Green.

God Bless you Peter Green guitar hero and lovely man.

WATKINS RAPIER
This may come as a bit of a shock but when Danny Kirwan joined Fleetwood Mac in 1968 he was still playing his Watkins Rapier 33.


Now I haven't played one since around 62 but it struck me that if Kirwan was making music that impressed P Green he must have sounded really good as there were no foot pedals available then.    Why then are people not using them for years and years?  Its a bit of a mystery, there must be thousand in attics and wardrobes all eager to be played.   Perhaps you should dust it off and put it through a Watkins Dominator.

I mean why would people buy shit Russian Jolana crap when there is a British guitar of some repute, just a wardrobe away? Just a thought.  Dont get fooled into paying too much on EBay though.   It ain't that good.




STOP PRESS
CHUCK BOTFIELD RIP
News has just come in of the passing of Rockin Berries lead guitarist Chuck Botfield.
He has been in my life as someone to look up to from when I was learning not to write songs.
My condolences go out to his family and friends

FINALLY 
Summer is here and though people may have thought that COVID has stopped everything, it hasnt.   Life and fun is what you make for yourself.



Take Care my Friends
till next time

Bob

Copyright:  BullsHeadBob
Contact:   Bobsbullocks@GMail.com



Wednesday, 1 July 2020

BULLS HEAD BOB JULY 2020. Mrs Bobs back. SHOCK NEWS! BOB buys his first pedal!! Marshall Bluesbreaker2 Overdrive.

Hello World, Turkmenistan, Chums, Brummies, Story tellers and incence smellers.  
Gather round whilst I regale you with things you never knew you needed to know but before that HELLO Hong Kong, Vietnam and Cambodia, a couple more countries with regular readers who I have forgotten to mention.  Have a great day you guys!!!

Mrs Bob is back in the house, hooray! It was nice to see her pass me  in the hallway as she went up to her bedroom to self isolate for 14 days.   I can tell she's happy to see me because shes started to chant "I cant wait to get my hands on you" and lately it's become  'mantra like' so I've passed her some incense sticks under the door to enhance her spirit.  I cant wait for her to be free......no more ready meals eh?

Joking apart, I sincerely hope that all of you of "the Brumbeat age" are well and have been unaffected by the horrid virus.   My condolences go out to those who may have suffered.   It certainly makes you more aware of how fragile we are and just how quickly someone can be taken from you so please be extra thoughtful to do something special for the someone you love whenever you can.   Time is fragile. 

TURKMENISTAN.  
Following Turkmenistans continued large readership, I've been doing a bit of research with a view to playing to a sell out crowd there.   
I'm pleased to announce that I have discovered that the President of the country is also it's best selling Rock star, Rapper and DJ.     Just say the word Mr President and I'll get the band pumped up and ready for action to come and lay down some serious hard blues rock to get the crowd leaping Turkmen Style.  Normal Rider applies,  Hotel Suite overlooking the city, lashings of good food, heady perfumes being wafted around by veiled Turkmen beauties and a bit of dosh!

Thats just how easy it is to get  Me and the Boogie Band.   I love to Rock, Relax and be heady in a place I've never been to, and I have travelled the world my friends.

MEANWHILE BACK IN BIRMINGHAM
TOP TECH OF THE 60'S.
In the days before Venue Sound Rigs and large PA band systems we turned up for gigs with our 30 watt amplifiers, 50 watt, 4 input PA, solely for the vocals which we would normally balance on chairs and a drummer who could keep time well, if you were lucky, if they couldn't you could try  turning up and drowning him out until he catches up again.
There were no such things as "guitar rigs" but at the time mine consisted of instrument plus lead, strap and case and an obligatory EL34 valve.  As I gained in expertise and experience I played in a better band with a back line of Park amplification provided and as I was earning more dosh I made a major upgrade to my " Rig" by buying a second guitar and more than one set of strings.  That was it, there was nothing else gimmicky until the Watkins copycat came along, the first one being purchased by Johnny Kidd and The Pirates from Charlie Watkins shop.   

Some of us heavier guitar players learned early, the importance of playing close to your amp and thereby balance your Pick-up to amp sound, on the edge of "feedback" to get the rough edge and sustain that soon became 'the' sound of rock especially with the introduction, to the public ear, of "Satisfaction" with
Keith Richard's early distortion pedal.    
In no time at all, distortion devices became cheaply available and, indeed I bought one myself but found its use to be limited in that, you couldn't use much volume with it.  For the Stones live gigs Keith Richards overcame that by being able to switch between two separate amplifiers during the performance, its sound change is recognisable by its clunky, early tech during early shows.  There are some Youtube clips available.
Anyway I gave up using mine straight away and, apart from trying out a wah wah in 67, by which time I was playing through a load more speakers and greater volume.   I hated its gimmicky duck sound, Roy Wood used the wah-wah a lot during The Move's time.    I have never used a pedal on stage.   

In my band, effect pedals are banned.  If you have reverb and or Tremelo as part of your basic amp build they are perfectly ok to use, just not something you need to "engage", that costs more than your instrument, or needs a degree to set it up.   We are loud and I still embrace the close amp proximity style if I can which is fine for medium sized gigs but you lose that close relationship with your guitar once you hit the bigger stages and you look stupid standing next to a 30 watt amp in the middle of a big stage, or more importantly, the intimate venues where you can't use that volume without blasting your audience to pieces.  I don't like intimate venues by choice but sometimes the best gigs happens in small places!

BOBS FIRST PEDAL AFTER 
FIFTY FIVE YEARS!!
I said to a mate that perhaps I should now drop the volume a tad and venture into the purchase of an Overdrive pedal to be more audience-friendly after playing at The Duck and Crumpet where the local rag, The Bilston Free Ads, Entertainments Review section stated we were "Rocks answer to an enema (I think they meant to say "enemy") and that we emptied the capacity 16 seater of The Dumpet faster than Weasel Poo.   

MARSHALL BLUESBREAKER2 
GUITAR PEDAL.
That conversation with my mate spread like wildfire amongst the local musos "Bob has Come Out! and is going to buy a pedal". That was in February. Assisted by the lockdown, and a stubborn streak that has lasted for 55 years I have gradually overcome my shame and moreover, my fear of actually owning one for several months but I have now bought, through EBay.co.uk , a cheap and battered Marshall Bluesbreaker2 foot pedal and its coming to me through the post as I write.  Nothing in life is guaranteed so if it's bad Karma it won't arrive.     I have a friend of a friend who said that it was the best pedal he had bought for a little money.  Well that was good enough for me but unfortunately they stopped production so new models weren't an option.  I thought they would be cheap but was shocked to find some people selling them for silly money, totally inflated.    I won the auction, paying 22 pounds.  Not bad.






















Ha!  Karma indeed, it has just arrived 30 Jun.   It is used, has obvious signs of use which is what I expected and was described perfectly by the seller, highlighting a missing rubber mat underneath which is easily repaired with a bit of old car mat.  I popped in a 9v battery and off we went.   It does what it does well, its foolproof technically, its build is superb,  almost tank-like which is highly impressive for this old soldier.

I still sound like I sound, only quieter.   It has its place in the world and I am happy with the purchase and with the obvious quality of the pedal.    I can see its attraction to those who havent been through the old fashioned method of feedback control.  There is sustain aplenty for those who want it, I used just enough effect to make it dirty and it worked well.   So thanks to my mate and his mate too for advising me.  I have no desire for other things to make me sound different, this is what I class as a Consideration for others Pedal and I'm pleased I took the plunge....eventually.

FINALLY
Well the worlds going through a rough patch at the moment in every direction
I dont want to be another Joe with another opinion so I'm giving it all a slip in the hope that Common Sense will prevail and we will rid the world of traitors, racists, corporate greed and warmongers.     I bet none of the above have a Marshal Foot Pedal, wankers........

Take Care of Each Other

Bob

Copyright:  Bullsheadbob@gmail.com
Contact   Bobsbullocks@Gmail.com








Monday, 1 June 2020

BULLS HEAD BOB Jun 2020. Hello Turkmenistan!! THE FABULOUS LITTLE RICHARD. Danny Gallagher - Frosty Moses interview. WORLD EXCLUSIVE Mrs Bob lock-down Photos.



Hi Brummies, Brumbeat survivors, Musos, Blues freaks and, Ladies and Gentlemen.. the nation of Turkmenistan!!

"Hello Turkmenistan ...Bloguma hos geldiniz".   It's nice to add another country to the BHBob readership.  Fantastic, spreading the word about old Brummies and the greatest music adventures ever during the days of Brumbeat, the 60's.  I've been "Big in Japan", having entered the charts there in 2004 so maybe I could be "Terrific in Turkmenistan" next?  it could be a future gig for me and The Boogie Band?  Dramatic backdrop or what?

THE FABULOUS LITTLE RICHARD.
Well, he's Gone man, Real Gone.   
The incredible, rockinest human on the planet, larger than life and physically larger than his Stage name implied.    I was a 7 year old when I first heard him on our wind-up 78 rpm record player and was hooked from that moment on, I'd never heard those falsetto Ooohs sung in such a full throated manner before in music, words came out of his mouth like bazooka rounds, blatting against your ear drums.   Not a bit like the clean country sound of "Rock Around Clock" for example, Little Richards harshness, shouting out the lyrics was accentuating the rebelliousness of the day.   

This man was a vocal giant.  This man was a piano great.  This man wrote outrageous songs that, had the censors of the day realised just what he was singing about, would have had him banned everywhere around the world, such were the social standards of those days.   He did all that and he was Black and Gay!!!!!!  Never was there such a thing, he couldn't get a hit himself in America but the pretty, cissy,  all American white pop stars of the day like Pat Boone sang, devoid of soul, or knowledge that"Tutti Frutti" was a song about oral sex.  Even now the thought of it makes me smile.  Early on in the 50's Little Richard was better known and appreciated in the UK where a black person didn't get treated like they did in the USA, there was no segregation. So his records sold well here.  From the moment I got my hands on a guitar I learned his songs first.

He was one of the acts featured in the film "The Girl Cant Help It" and there wasn't a better sight than him rocking out with his band.

The Beatles played some gigs with him too, in the UK and Germany with Paul McCartney saying that he was taught how to do those high Oooooo's by him.  John Lennon has always said 
that he was the greatest of the Rock and Roll singers.

In 1964, as The Beatles were ascending to Mega stardom
and Rock and Roll music was in its decline, the BBC put on a "Special" show "Its Little Richard" backed by The Shirelles and British band, Sounds Incorporated.   Little Richard walked onto the stage and put on a show that has become legend in the Rock world.   I was now 15 and I saw what it could be like if I upped my game and performed with the same enthusiasm and rocket powered energy that he displayed that night, it wasn't just about the music, it was showmanship and I didn't know a man could sweat that much and not collapse, he was unstoppable and the crowd were HIS!.
He shone brightly for years and then, as with everything, music style changed and he became one of the "old rockers" but once upon a time he was the innovator, the inspiration, the grandest professor of stage performance with a plethora of hungry students trying to follow in his footsteps.      You know, I could quite confidently say that probably every band from the 50's right through to at least 65, played at least one of his songs.
In 1968 there was a short Rock and Roll Revival going on in the charts and he shone again!! He has always been around though, playing and telling everyone HOW GREAT I AM!!   I taught The Beatles everything they know!

  
I was chatting recently to old friend Brian Gregg, Bassist and British Rock and Roll Icon ( Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, Eden Kane, Terry Dene, Billy Fury, The Tornadoes and many more and if that wasn't enough, the co writer of Shakin All Over).   He told me the following story about his meeting with Little Richard.


" I went to the Apollo to see my mate Mickie Most, I was standing in the wings of the stage watching The Everly Brothers when Little Richard came and stood beside me and asked me if Buckingham Palace was close to the theatre, I told him it was about a mile away and he said he was going to see it after the show.  There was a young kid sat outside Mickie's dressing room with a shiny new guitar "That's nice" I said, "Yes, I've just got it" he replied, "Are you learning how to play then?" He replied "No" and said that he was in Little Richard's Band.   I read some years later that the guitarist in Little Richard's band that year was Jimi Hendrix. 
In 2004, I was taking part in the 10th Anniversary Eddie Cochrane Show in Chippenham which also featured Little Richard in the line up.   I spoke to him and told him we had met in 1963 and said that I'd talked to his young guitarist at the time and asked him if it was Jimi.  Little Richard said "Yes it was Hendrix.....everything he knows he got from me!!".  I remember thinking to myself "Well I dont know about that??"  Brian G.

It doesn't really mean anything significant, Hendrix was a jobbing musician at the time playing with many different people, however, I imagine that plenty of Little Richards showmanship rubbed off on him later on, as did Otis Rush with his stage moves and guitaristry.    There couldn't have been 2 better teachers to learn from.
DANNY GALLAGHER
FROSTY MOSES INTERVIEW.
One of the great joys of writing this blog is getting people together and such was the case when I put Heavy Metal writer Rob Horrocks in touch with Frosty Moses bass player Danny Gallagher 11 years ago. Rob interviewed him for an article.
Danny sadly passed away a couple of years ago  Rob contacted me to say he still had the audio interview on CD and offered to pass it on, courtesy of the internet, into the hands of Danny's son Leon last month.   I knew Danny in our early youth and boy we had some fun, beautiful Irish warmth to the man!!   I learned from him everything that was bad for me too.
For those of you Brummies who like your music delivered by steam roller
Rob Horrocks can be found at his new website.  Click on the Link  WWW.HEAVYTOURISM.COM

RIP. PHIL MAY - THE PRETTY THINGS
Phil May (75), frontman for the Pretty Things has sadly passed away following complications after hip surgery.    In Birmingham in 1965/6 one of the best gigs of the day was in the cellars of the Siver Beat Club which is now where The Ramp is.   The gig was packed out to see the promoters inventive line up of The Pretty Things Vs The Uglys.   



A nice little competitive night not only musically but also London Vs Birmingham.   Everyone won that night, two great bands and an enthusiastic audience.   


WORLD EXCLUSIVE  PHOTOS!!
MRS BOB'S LOCK-DOWN 
I have received more than a couple of emails enquiring about Mrs Bob's unfortunate lock-out I mentioned in last month's blog.    Mrs Bob is managing well but alas, she's still stuck out in the garden shed.  It's amazing how she has coped since not making it into the house on 'lock down' day.  I had received a letter from Boris saying I had to stay indoors and not have any visitors...even family!     By day I've been watching her pottering about in the flower borders, well when I say pottering I think she's been thinning-out some of the flowers and do you know?  I never knew a person could eat such a variety of blooms, she appears to be doing well on it though, apart from a slight yellowing of her skin after the Nasturtiums disappeared one day.    

She has been keeping herself active though and has recently become interested in sprinting and isn't doing bad for a 69 year old.
I became aware of her new love of running everytime I opened the door to let the cat out.  Half running, half stumbling at first, she would set off from wherever she was in the garden towards me, arms outstretched, but it was clear she was out of practice.   She mastered jumping over the cat after taking some real falls, one of them being the sort that makes you say Ohhh! out loud.  I gave her a round of applause through the window as she pulled some gravel out of her chin after that one, I'm sure I must have kept her spirits up.
I think her wellies were proving to be a bit of an impediment to her straight line speed
and that was an issue I could help with!  Being a "new man" I like to support her new found sporting hobby so firstly, to give her a hint about time improvement without being condescending, I sellotaped the four principles of aerodynamics to the cat and as a further aid to stamina training and as a bit of an encouragement for her, I wait until she is at the very bottom of the garden then I step out of the back door to take a well deserved breath of fresh air and at the same time, give her a wave and a brief opportunity to actually see me in the flesh, happy, and eating a bacon sandwich.  

Fuck me, she can run!!!.  

She hasn't quite made it to the rapidly closing back door yet but I have faith that she'll do it pretty soon.   She tries to encourage me to join in by carrying a baton even though she knows my running days are over. 
She also keeps shouting something about me coming from Kent but all those years stood in front of a Park 100watt stack means I can't hear her too well through the double glazing. 

Sadly, we don't have outdoor lighting either so it can a bit scary at night for me when she suddenly feels appears out of the gloom, scratching at the window like Danny Glick but Rules is Rules.   

EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS.
I managed to take some photos of one of her runs in stages so you can see how she's doing.  In Pic 1 she spots me and goes for the standing start, she hasn't caught the cat yet so aerodynamics are still her main problem as can be clearly seen in Pic 2 by the way her wellies are flexing and in Pic 3 she suffers total loss of downforce.

2 metres from the door.


Ok, Take Care all you folks in Covidville.
and Look after the One you Love

Bob

Copyright:  BullsheadBob
Contact:     Bobsbullocks@Gmail.com

Thursday, 30 April 2020

BULLS HEAD BOB May 2020. Rare Guitar Solo!!! The Band..documentary. Robert Plant...what a good man.


Howdoo you Brummies,

I won't bother going into whys' and wherefores of the virus thingy, suffice to say that Mrs Bob and I have been secluded in our humble abode thanking our lucky stars for what we have had and have enjoyed throughout our life together, being locked down does nothing to dent that because we have been joined at the hip for 48 years and dont need anyone else, and I dont need to go out to make me happy.    When the lockdown was announced, I being one who takes notice of Goverment Orders shut the doors straight away "I WILL OBEY AND SO SHOULD EVERYONE ELSE, NO EXCEPTIONS".   
If only Mrs Bob had heard that same radio announcement whilst she was in the backyard!   She was up to her armpits in raw sewage following a blockage occasioned by too much Guiness over a 3 day period.  She had to choose that precise moment of the broadcast to pop her head into the drain cover for a closer look, how could she be expected to have heard it?  She couldn't have possibly made it indoors by the time I'd locked up. 

After I'd given her a good telling off for not being alert in times of emergencies I passed her my best sleeping bag and a gorilla mask I'd been given by one of The Bobettes for Christmas, out of the window, just in time for her to get out of the cold rain and into the shed.  That was 3 weeks ago, I see her now and then, particularly in the dark, creeping around the garden looking for food and hiding from the Police.  What really pisses me off though is that the drain is still blocked!!  Still,  dont worry about me, I've found a large bucket.
 THE RAREST GUITAR SOLO?
As I have some time on my hands, gig wise, I started writing out a new set list of songs from my past that I hadn't played before with the band, or in some cases, ever!    When I was a sprog I knew all the Shadows tunes mainly because, in those early days I didn't sing and had no desire to either.   However, I soon realised that if you sang a romantic song you became more popular with the girls, it spurred me on to open me gob hole more often, so bollocks to guitar solos I thought.

I mastered the art of harmonising and always sang the top harmony on our string of Everly Brothers songs like "Let it be Me".  A guaranteed tear jerker for the young girls at The Mermaid, Sparkhill or some youth club in Gornal, my name would be written in lipstick on the van with hearts and kisses.....Let it be ME!!!   

I guess the top song for me then, that included some vocals and a guitar solo was the 1958 song "Move it" by Cliff Richards, the best Rock song by a British artist pre "Shakin All Over" a couple of years later   So I wrote Move It down on the set list which made think of other Cliff songs, during his early years till I got to1962,
"It'll be Me", a Jerry Lee Lewis cover but with a much more fiery arrangement.   I'd forgotten all about that one, a fine song although the lyrics are a bit stupid at times I crossed Move It off the list.    I then read a bit more about the song and discovered to my amazement that the guitar solo had been played by Bruce Welch!!    What?? Bruce Welch?  The rhythm king.    

The solo is not really worth mentioning in the context of Rock musicality but I was amazed why not Hank?  I still don't know why, perhaps one of you guys could help with he answer to that?

I spent time scouring social media looking for a clip of them playing the song and the only one I found had Hank doing the duties.   It's not a world changing event but it is one for the pop quizzers amongst you.

THE BAND documentary.
From the earliest rock and pop to the latter end of the 60's and we arrive at probably the best band of that decade The Band.   From Bob Dylans backing group to massive stardom in their own right,  "Music from the Big Pink" being idolised by a host of musicians including Eric Clapton who flew to Woodstock with the intention of trying to join the group.

Their second album "The Band Played On" is and was the best release they had and would have been hard to better.  It was probably the first themed album based on the
difficult days of rural America and particularly the Southern states.    The Bands main songwriter Robbie Robertson was Canadian and had no knowledge of those days but having a sidekick like drummer and main vocalist Levon Helm who had lived through those difficult times, was like an awakening and he shared events that gave ideas, truth and inspiration to the music with which they scored such a massive success.   The archetypical Classic Album.   There wasn't, in truth, much more to come from the group and their later Albums didn't set the world on fire.  They were just individual songs lacking reality.

Well The Band broke up with a farewell concert and documentary "The Last Waltz" where Robertson stated that they couldn't continue because "they were a casualty of being on the road".   

Robertson released a solo album and went back out on the road on his own.   

Many years of hurt then followed with Levon protesting that all the royalties for that classic album, largely inspired and narrated by Helm, went to Robertson and he got
nothing.    Something he had an artistic right to complain about but was never recompensed, sadly Levon, the brightest star of that group passed away a few years ago,
So, now there is another documentary about The Band except it is now called "Once were Brothers" - Robbie Robertson AND The Band.   I imagine that Robertson timed this  to make his excuses without the worry of being contradicted from the former members that have now passed on with the exception of Garth Hudson.    I have no intention of seeing it..  

The title in itself is sufficient to show what a cowardly, ego soaked tit, Robertson is.

ROBERT PLANT.
I want to give Robert a thankyou for his personal help in his neighbourhood
during this lockdown.   Heros dont need publicity.
As if by magic I just saw that Planty and Co did a version of "It'll be Me".  How the wheels turn.....

FINALLY
We will be back on the streets soon enough if we all pull together.  Keep Safe
Especially you Brumbeat musicians.

Cheers
Bob

Copyright BullsHeadBob
Contact  Bobsbullocks@Gmail.com




Friday, 3 April 2020

Bulls Head Bob Apr 2020. BILLY FURY. BOB DYLAN. THE MARAUDERS.

Hello Playmates, Brummies, Mates Abroad especially in Spain right now,

"The blog's late","Where are you Bob?" "What no blog?"..... thankyou for your emails!!  Yes the blog is late.  It has nothing to do with the virus, I'm glad to say.   I would like to say that it's late because I've been busy recording with McCartney on a new project called 'I Wish I was Bob".   Mmmm, no that's a lie.   It's very boring but I'm afraid to say that 4 days ago whilst getting up out of my chair my back went wonky, just like that.   " "Ah young Bob, you have Wonky back" said the Dr.     So, since then I have been flat on my wonky back waiting for it to get better.  I am still in that position today and right now I am typing this on a tablet suspended above me.  Not the best thing but I always try to get the blog done no matter what!

BILLY FURY
Billy Fury was probably the most exciting of the 50's Rock Stars, he must have been the greatest because my Dad used to say he was "filthy" and "scum". Probably like the parents attitude to the Sex Pistols during the punk days.  Anything that pushed against the staid moral principles and attitudes of those early days of R and R, bearing in mind that in those days too it was considered unlady-like for a female to whistle in public, how funny.    I bought his LP The Sound of Fury which I still have and like a lot.  It never occurred to me then what a ground breaking achievement he had made by getting an LP made full of his own material, something that never happened back then.   Quite incredible.    I met Billy Fury on a couple of occasions when we were on the same bill  and he was a really nice guy, sexy, charismatic and good looking.  

I have mentioned this before but wanted to bring to your attention the book 'Halfway to Paradise' by the great partnership of Brummies David and Caroline Stafford who give us the fine detail of this great Rockers life.   Highly recommended read to pass some time away these days.

BOB DYLAN
So, Mr Dylan has released a new single "Murder Most Foul" as a way of thanking his loyal Fans who have followed him for all these years, its 17 minutes long about the death of JFK or should I say his thoughts on the death of JFK.   Bob Dylan has written wondrous songs crafted and considered, forged out of torment and disappointment with society or soul searching to explain his lost love for the various women who have passed through his life which, in turn, we have adopted as unwritten diary entries in our own existence, our special song that we play endlessly in our times of melancholy.   "North Country Fair"  or "Just Like a Woman" for example.      

I am somewhat perplexed at Murder Most Foul in many ways.  The Press announced it as his first original song in 8 years, but read on a little and you find it's something he wrote 'some time ago' and it sounds like it too.   To me it sounds like he recorded an idea for a song that he might return to another day when he would either consider its potential merits of just dump it.  The backing is demo quality, no melody line to speak of and the lyrics are dolloped out like cold porridge.   

I think its mediocre at best, no I don't,  I think its rubbish.  How this can be considered as a gift to his fans escapes me? perhaps he doesn't like his fans too much and is fed up with the constant questions about what a certain line "really means". There is no ambiguity here, it's simple text.  A mate said that it's full of code and needs interpretation.  I think it's full of shit and with all that's wrong with the world today I simply don't want to waste my precious time on it.......  it will probably feature in Steve Gibbons set list which will give you time to take a nap.

THE MARAUDERS
There are songs that disappear into the past then, all of a sudden, pop into your head and you think how good it was and one of those for me is "That's What I want" by The Marauders.

The Marauders hailed from Stoke on Trent and were lucky to get this early Carter/Lewis song to record which was a minor hit, reaching 43 on the charts of 1963.
It was really perfect for the times and its production by Peter Attwood and arranger Mike Leander was superb, even now it sounds good especially the bass and drum sound.  A medium paced rocker, this would gave been a massive hit had it been recorded by The Searchers for example.   It is probably one of the first records to feature a 12 string guitar albeit an acoustic and the hook line of the chorus Thats What I Want is punchy and memorable.

There were great groups around the Midlands but at that time everyone was focussed on the bands coming out of Liverpool courtesy of the Fabs which unfortunately had a diminishing effect for the midlanders.  They had three more releases and called it a day in 65.  There were so many bands then that you had to be very lucky, have a brilliant agent or exceptional talent to get recognised and unfortunately it just wasnt their time.  Give it a listen.

THE CURRENT SITUATION
We old brumbeaters are in the danger zone, age wise, from this terrible virus and no doubt some aren't going to make it through this thing, including me   However we can all do things to lessen that possibility by being sensible, you all know about the distancing and particularly remaining indoors etc so I wont harp on about it but I think constantly about the musicians that I knew and loved back in the 60s in Birmingham and I hope that I have been able to highlight some of those bands who otherwise might not have not got a mention at all.    I wish you all well for the future.

FINALLY
I received a phone call, late at night, a couple of days ago from a dear friend who had been on the same musical adventures with me right from our school days.  We had both struggled, coming from financially poor families.   He phoned to say he was now getting short of breath and was close to death and wanted to take the opportunity to thank me for being a friend and for doing some things for him in the past.  He didn't sound breathless though so the next day I asked another mate to check on him.
It turned out he had suffered an attack of Jamesons disease, the whole bottle in fact, this had been aided by that rarest of infections, Boddingtonsitis.    Luckily for us both he has made a total recovery, I'm glad he's still alive and treasure the fact that he had called me to say goodbye, a true friend indeed.

Sorry there are no images in this blog, just too difficult to do on yer back!!

Take Care out there, I promise I shall be doing my best to stay alive too!

Hugs

Bob

Copyright: BullsheadBob
Contact: bobsbullocks@Gmail.com