Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Bulls Head Bob Aug 2017. OH OH! EYES DOWN FOR A FULL REPLY. THE STRANGE CASE OF GEOFF TURTONS HEAD.

Watcha you guys,

Firstly I have to say "thanks very much ar' kid"
for the the many emails and a couple of nice comments I received regarding the July blog - Brummies Abroad.   Makes an old git like me feel it's worth the effort.

However, that old adage "You can't please all of the people all of the time" is true at all times, so naturally there was a person who disagreed about a part of that blog, one line of it in fact, a geographical statement thrown out by me in what could be regarded as uncaring manner, so in the spirit of openness or Glasnost as them Russians say I herewith print the email in full.

Hello Bob

Latest Blog


There was no "blandness" about Wolverhampton or surrounding Staffordshire during the sixties.  Speaking from experience, I know cos' I was there.


In Jun 67 myself and three other fellow Brummies culled from the D'Fenders, The Capitals and The Modernaires, joined forces and willingly signed with Wolverhampton's Astra-Allen Agency who had a rosta of 26 groups on their books all averaging around 30 well paid and promptly paid quality gigs per month.


We'd all had it with sleazy 'spiv' Brum agents and promoters (except of course Paula Bailey - bless her!!).


We did all do occasional cabaret, shared the billing with national and international artists and enjoyed it because the audience actually listened so, you had to be good!  The money was good and paid on the nail.


The aforementioned 26 groups could prop up the bar with anyone I'd care to think of in Brum.


I have withheld the readers name but its worth sharing.   I didn't mention Staffordshire or any other location outside of Wolverhampton in fairness?

I too was signed to Astra agency for a couple of years from 64 to 66, during the height of the beat group phase and they were a great agency indeed.  I and my band mates of the day played all of their class venues in the Potteries and in Wolverhampton itself, The Civic Hall, The Woolpack and also played at the Ship and Rainbow, small but a good gig, playing loud Rhythm and Blues to screaming girls.
During this time I lived in Brum. During the birth of our group we, like any other band of the day, would play anywhere and do anything to get on a stage but after that it was a matter of choice, either play the music I wanted to play, or play the top ten for guaranteed pocket money but with little self reward.
TWO FAT LADIES
There were many, many working men's clubs in the area that had bands on between bouts of bingo and the preferred style of music for these clubs was light pop interspersed with some comedy element.  
There was a ready market for this type of group so it's no surprise that groups from that area specialised in that type of act. 

Really I am a tad ambivalent about the whole cabaret thing, horses for courses, but certainly not this horse.

Sure there were sleazy agents in Brum.  It is the country's second largest city but there were and still are sleazy agents a plenty, there are still bland bands too.  Anyway, if you are interested in Wolverhampton and its environs during the 60's they do have their own site called In Between Times, or is it In Between Bingo??

THE STRANGE CASE OF
GEOFF TURTONS HEAD
The Rockin Berries were a BIG band during the 60's with chart hits and touring with the likes of Roy Orbison.  Before they gained national fame though they were a Birmingham band to be admired and looked up to if you were a little sproglet like me trying to climb the slippery ladder of music success.  Firstly they were a great group and had a really polished act and Geoffs plaintive vocal tones could melt the heart of even a Brummie spiv agent.  

With the advent of their massive No 3 chart hit "He's in Town", a brilliant song written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King you would think that they would have acted a little more superior to the other Brummie groups as they had reached those massive heights of success but the truth is completely opposite, they continued to be nice guys and none more so than Geoff Turton who I spent some happy moments with up to the end of the 60's.
CONTROVERSY CORNER
I think we all remember the "Paul McCartney is Dead and has been replaced with a look alike" nonsense that flew around after the release of Abbey Road with folk dissecting and interpreting anything they could about the LP cover, talking about him not wearing shoes etc etc.   

However, not many people know that this type of LP cover controversy had occurred before, in 1964, when the Rockin' Berries first gained chart success.   I don't want to jump on the bandwagon of outrageous conspiracy theories but I thought it best for you to see the photographic 'evidence' and dare to make up your own mind.

It had been reported at the Pie Stand, in the early hours of one vodka soaked morning, that there had been some friction in the band about Geoff taking the lead vocal for their biggest hit and reports were rife that Chuck Botfield had said that he had a big head that needed to be cut down to size.   Everyone was talking about it in between mouth fulls of meat and potato pie.

The "head replacement theory" iconography came hot on the heels of their Thank Your Lucky Stars TV show when the producer had placed Geoff apart from the others.
He was then a good 8 inches taller than Chuck even without false perspective influences. Later on the sharp eyed audience had also noticed that Chuck was pointing his guitar at Geoff's head and, furthermore there was a thick red line passing through Geoffs neck, that had to be pertinent.  

It came as a confirmatory shock when the following album cover appeared to confirm the head transplant controversy, appeared in the press with Geoff's head now balanced precariously on Chuck Botfields shoulder, AND shorter than he by 4 inches with his eyes rolled back in his head. 

The Rockin Berries were suddenly nowhere to be seen and hadn't been at the pie stand for a while?



Now, the exhibit 2 photo was the real clincher that ratcheted up the rumour mill to fever pitch.  It can be clearly seen that Geoff is actually holding his head away from his body and the others appear to be laughing? How spooky is that??    
EXHIBIT 2
How is he keeping that head in  place?

The whole of the Brummie band network were aghast three weeks later when the Rockin Berries came back off tour and the press announced that Geoff suddenly 'left' the band?  Then a photo appeared some time later under the nom de plume of Jefferson but looked nothing like he did before and now spelled his name with a 'J' and it was only a head-shot....   

I bumped into this Jefferson character at The Cedar Club and he kept
saying "Hello Bob, how you doing?" and then started assuring me that he was really Geoff Turton but with sideburns.   He said the whole headless thing had been a big mix up in the press when a reporter had said he'd seen him "Legless and off his head" and one muso had spoken to another etc

I spent the whole of the night though sneaking peaks at his neck to see if there were any join marks.

Geoff or Jeff or both of them can be found doing the rounds of the theatres alongside Jasper Carrott and some other Brummies in a night of Stand Up and Rock.  So if you should go and see him check out his neck for marks, you never know?
He still has one of the finest and individual voices in pop history and I'm glad you're still around Jeff or Geoff. 

OK Guys me and Mrs Bob are packing our cases for our imminent holidays.  
So until next month, be nice to each other.

I must stop taking these pills?

Bob

Copyright:  Bullsheadbob
Contact:     Bobsbullocks@Gmail.com



Saturday, 1 July 2017

BULLS HEAD BOB - JULY 2017. BRUMMIES ABROAD. JOHN FINCHAM IS A TOSSER - FACT!! JON WASHINGTON TAKES A NOVEL APPROACH. GRAHAM ASHFORD. KEITH SMART. WILL HAMMOND. JOHN SINGER. JEFF LYNNE. IDLE RACE.

Hi Guys, Brummies and Musical friends around the globe.

Goodness me, the title of this blog is long, so it should be! it's a feature packed musical smorgasbord of love, hate, egoism, treachery, despair, glorious success or inglorious failure.....let's get on with it then. 

There are some people from my musical past who I normally prefer not to discuss but I'm making an exception this month and am going to say this now in big letters about someone I knew and that is:
JOHN FINCHAM IS A TOSSER!! 
"Whoa, come on on now Bob, that's not like you" I hear you say.
"Oh Yeah?" Well,  
HIS MATES ARE TOSSERS TOO!
"Hold hard Bob, have you lost your mind?"
The short answer to that is "No" on two accounts, the first being that John is a Brummie Abroad and lives in California so he can't get his hands on me and secondly he definitely is a Tosser, but and an old friend too.

John was one of those who I admired and thought had real potential in every part of his 'trade craft' as a Brummie musician of the sixties.  I emphasise 'Brummie musician' rather than musician because in those 60's days Birmingham had the grittiest bands and musicians not like those Southern Jessies and John had paid his dues with The Chantelles and other bands doing that sort of music, including a short spell with The Uglys during the hospitalisation of Steve Gibbons.   
The Chantelles  (copyright J Fincham)
Far Right......the great John Fincham and his kit
Beatle boots, Burns Bass, Big voice, Big Bass speaker and Bad attitude..everything beginning with B!   It's co-incidental but I played with all of these guys in this picture but at different times, such was the movement between bands in those days.
An ex "Biz" manager friend of some repute from London told me they always went to Brum to look for RandB bands, hence The Moody Blues, Spencer Davis Group etc two of the greatest exponents of sixties RandB on the planet during their day and that's what Brummie bands played in spadefulls and competition was fierce.

If you wanted to play a bit of cabaret music you could always go to Wolverhampton for a fix of blandness.  

John possessed everything you would want in a band-mate.
A great bass player, a beautiful voice and a really good stage presence and one other important thing, he was a fun guy to be with.    We were from the same part of Birmingham and were schooled yards apart although he, unlike myself, actually attended.   

At one stage we played together in a group for a short while and had some fun and shared some great harmonies and gigs.
After that brief musical encounter we only bumped into each other at The Cedar Club or one of those other nightclubs where all the musicians would go but it was always fun when we met. 

John's story is enveloped in the ELO saga with his band Trickster so you can read all about that stuff at an ELO site should you want to.  During this time John moved out to the USA permanently and continued to be a quality player with all the B's on bigger stages.

Anyway I don't want to dwell on the past, I want to get right down to today's Nitty Gritty and that is to say that John Fincham, the man with "Everything begining with B" is alive and well, living in the mountain air of Wrightwood California and still playing gigs with his Brit Rock band of mates,
THE TOSSERS!
It couldn't be a better name for a trio playing good ol' fashioned, in your face, Brit Rock and there's no-one in those parts who would be more at home with this music than John, thuddin' out those great bass lines and singing the songs that are second nature to him and almost printed on his psyche.   

If you're on vacation from Birmingham or indeed if you now live in that part of the States.  Get yourself down to AMIGO'S in Ventura California for a perfect Sunday afternoon of booze with some Hot Rock n'blues Brummie style.   
When you get there, you can't mistake him, with his Rickenbacker slung down low, John 'B' Fincham and the other Tossers, Jerry Breiner and Pete Gallagher he will be giving it some!!  Say Hello, he's a Brummie and a Villa supporter so you'll "always be welcome Bab".


THE TOSSERS l-r Jerry Breiner, John Fincham, Pete Gallagher
THE TOSSERS
AMIGO'S
Ventura, California 
FIRST SUNDAY
EVERY MONTH

another couple of Brummies live in the States too...

JON WASHINGTON



Ex Applejacks vocalist Jon lives and still performs in the Glitz capital of the world, Las Vegas.  

It's been a couple of years since I had some news from him I think but I said last time that he was a workaholic and he hasn't let me down. 

As well as being in the completion stages of his
new solo CD and single release he has just published his first Novel, based on the life of four guys from Coventry, The Fabulous Brit Brothers....a Rock n Roll tragedy!   

I'm already hooked.  It must be about me? I'm tragic, oh no it can't be I'm not from Coventry but then again I played there more than several times so it could be me, or maybe it could be FAKE NEWS! the Russians call it Maskirova and Jon could be covering up the real hero/loser character The Fabulous Bob and it's really about me.   I've got to read it quickly, fame at last!!  ....Mmmm? best get back to reality.

Jon had already written and published three factual books about the 60's days so this novel will surely be based on facts from his experiences which always makes a better read for musicians.  Getting the facts right is essential.  Good Luck with this Jon.

Also for those who might know Jon from the past.   He is now on Facebook so why not take the opportunity to get in touch with him through that medium and don't forget to like the page too.  If you're not on Facebook then contact me and I will put you in touch.

GRAHAM ASHFORD 
Graham, ex Brumbeats vocalist continues living in either Hawaii or Washington State depending on the season but either way both locations are in beautiful parts of America.  He is still playing gigs with his Hawaiian band and when not can be found painting pictures of the local scenes.  Is there no end to his talent?
Graham 3rd left or 2nd right!!


When I get sent a photo I don't just put it on the page here willy-nilly, everything deserves a little more investigation.   Now when me and my Boogie band have a practise it can happen that some feelings get hurt with some cutting remark about something or other you know, wrong shade of nail varnish.  Grahams band have an Hawaiian remedy for Practise Banter and it can be seen in the hand of the guitarist on the right.  It's known as the 'encourager' or in Hawaiian the "Ooee Ooee OOOee", I'm not versed in this language so you must excuse my dreadful pronunciation.  I don't believe I need to go into minute detail about how it works but the rule is...You say anything offensive, it could be up to the third OOOee.
As you can see, not only do they all look pretty pleased that it's a part of their practise regimen but they've all come attired in shorts should the need arise for a quick insertion.   Mmm, not a trace of nail varnish to be seen.

THE BREXITEERS
Moving now to Spain where our Brummie European contingent has been swelled by the arrival of  drummer
KEITH SMART
I knew all the great drummers in Brum and played with several of them but for me Keith Smart was probably the best drummer around to be honest.   Apart from Carl Palmer and Mac Poole, Keith was one of the few I knew who read drum music well, a real rarity for those days.  

That trained music thing was mixed in with his tremendous natural talent and his ability at holding a band together was formidable, it was very easy to get into a groove with him.  He could play any kind of music and brought a real tightness and force to any band he was with. 


I guess that Keith is best known as being one of the two drummers in Wizzard but he featured heavily in the Golden Years of Birmingham and played with many bands like The Lemon Tree, Danny King and The Uglys of whom Keith said "Probably the best group I ever played with and certainly the best memories".   



The Uglys, Keith bottom Right


When people talk about John Bonham in such glowing terms I think they should have listened to Keith a bit more because I knew them both and couldn't tell them apart, he could be as heavy as any of them.  He played sessions with lots of diverse folk including the brilliant and very underrated Clifford T Ward. Keith then joined the Rockin Berries and remained there for more years than I'd care to remember.    Always shrewd, he got on a good horse that ran and ran. From a pure music point of view I think that he could have been one of the real music greats had he taken a more adventurous musical challenge and I don't think we ever saw the best of Keith.  Sadly he has given up playing but believes it was the right move on his part.

and I agree with that because whatever keeps you happy does you good and that's a fact.

Anyway these days Keith is living on the Spanish coast running his own business which is far removed from the drastic ups and downs of the music biz whilst, no doubt, honing his golf game.   

He has a wonderful family life and from a Brumbeat point of view it's great that he's still with us but a shame that we won't be getting anymore performances from this fantastic drummer.




WILL HAMMOND
300 miles North from Keith we find his ex Uglys bandmate Will Hammond who lives in the deepest darkest depths of Extremadura, Spain and continues his round of Festivals and gigs including the prestigious Bejar, playing up-front R and B music. 
Will Hammond and his Band
and to quote him from last year, "It's such a gas to be playing vibrant music like this, to enthusiastic audiences, I'm quite lucky".


Ugly Days - Will Hammond  (Photo Copyright FCummins/A Lines)
His new CD "Ugly Days" will be coming out at the end of this month.  

JOHN SINGER
John Singer was one of the group of promoters who shared Carlton Johns Entertainment Agency who ran the majority of the best venues in Brum including Mothers at Erdington, previously known as The Carlton and even in those days it was a great venue and hosted some of the best bands of the day like John Mayalls Bluesbreakers and The Nice and Zoot Money etc etc.  Mothers was voted by musicians as the best gig in the world at one stage.    

John lives on the Spanish coast but no longer participates in the world of music apart from his annual trek back to the UK for the Mothers anniversary
John Singer (right) with ex Carlton Johns partner Gary Surman
FINALLY
JEFF LYNNE
Who's had to come back to the UK to get a gig then?!  
Back in the UK for a round of shows with his version of ELO.  Jeff, never one for denying he wanted to be a Beatle, must have felt he was re-living The Beatles famous flying arrival at Shea Stadium moment when he flew in by helicopter over his recent show at Wembley Stadium with its 70,000 strong crowd.

Living the dream is a phrase that comes to mind.

It was a time too for another of Brums greatest bands, The Idle Race to be reunited after the event, and I believe a reunion gig was discussed but Jeff said he wanted a bigger share of the normal 25 quid for a night at The Carlton. Sharp eyed sleuth, Mandy Scott-Morgan kindly captured the moment of the negotiations.
The Idle Race 2017 (copyright:  Mandy Scott Morgan)
The Idle Race 1969
Sadly the other ELO Brummie, Richard Tandy wasn't playing that night, so get well soon Richard.

The majority of people on this page are linked to each other in some way but more of course by being a part of the Birmingham 60's music scene. On any given night of the week they all graced the stages of Birmingham or some other gig across the length and breadth of the UK together playing great music.  They drank together, had fun together and in some cases suffered at the hands of each other.  Such is the way of life in the world of music, the hardest job on the planet, but whether they are musically living the dream or perhaps regretting what greater stardom could have been, it is all consigned to the history vaults once it has occurred and in these days of rabid social media - by the minute. 
I'm glad that my memories are much longer and more deeply rooted.

Long may they all Live because we shared a unique time together. 

Onwards and upwards you Brummies.

Take Care you guys 
Bob

Copyright: Bullsheadbob
Contact:    Bobsbullocks@Gmail.com



Thursday, 1 June 2017

Bulls Head Bob - Jun 2017. STRAPPED? STIRCHLEY MUSIC EXCHANGE. KING OF THE SIXTIES BRIAN MATTHEWS RIP. SGT PEPPER 50TH BIRTHDAY.

Hi Brummies, Chummies, Mummies with Pregnant Tummies and Baby Brummies with Dummies.

It's Flaming June!!  get out the cossie.

Well you could knock me down with a feather,  last month I ranted about  a Gibson guitar strap costing 89 pounds and even at that exorbitant price it was nowhere near the most expensive I had seen.     I was trying to point out how ridiculous prices surrounding music are and especially anything that carries a brand name.  It costs enough to equip yourself with reasonable kit let alone the travelling, accommodation, food, petrol, the weekly practice session etc and I am yet to be convinced that this outrageous cost represents any real value. What a rip off!

STIRCHLEY MUSIC EXCHANGE

It's very warming to report that I had more than one offer of a vintage style strap from people within a couple of days of the Blog being published which made me smile.  The first was from my Ol' mate the Skiffle King who then wisely pondered on the issue for twenty or thirty seconds then annouced that he had completely lost his memory, wise sage that he is.  The second was from the evergreen and super friendly and ex-Brumbeat musician Bob Styler of Stirchley Music Exchange, Pershore Road, one of the last independent music shops in Birmingham who sent me an old vintage strap, which I gladly accepted and which is now firmly attached to my Gibson and looks a treat.    

The huge 89 pound price that Gibson has put on their strap can't be justified
and I urge all you guys NOT to buy anything that carries a price which is so obviously inflated.   Not unless you work for the royal mint.  

Now, I count myself fortunate to get reasonable money for my gigs but there are many who may not even get to play at a venue for their entire time as a would-be musician and just end up with a pile of misery and unnecessary expense for their efforts.  I doubt you would get a reasonable second hand return for your strap?   Anyway, us Brummies are lucky though because whilst there is still a small customer friendly music shop like Stirchley Music Exchange with helpful people like Bob Styler around you don't have to spend a fortune, if you don't want to.   

The shop really targets the "beginner to Stage 2" guitarists and bassists, economically speaking, with some good models and GREAT ADVICE always on offer.   Always a good selection of strings and accessories too.  Mention my name and you might get a coffee.

Thanks again Bob.

BRIAN MATTHEWS

Of all the DJ's and presenters who have graced the airwaves of the BBC I can think of no other who was more of an influence in the early sixties than Brian Matthews.    From 1957 he was the presenter of Saturday Club on the BBC and it was a must with teenage listeners, with the latest records, interviews, fun and live bands playing in the studio it was the ONLY radio programme directed at the teenage population in the UK at that time that was any good.
Brian was perfect for the job, he possessed a great music knowledge, was loved by all the groups of the day and especially The Beatles who made frequent visits to Saturday Club and the CD "The Beatles at the BBC" is largely made up of these Saturday Club appearances with Brian.

On the Beatles Anthology there is some footage of them soeaking to him on the phone during their first tour of America, heady days indeed.  Brian also famously presented,
(Brian with The Brumbeats)
at the same time, Thank Your Lucky Stars for TV, which was recorded at the ATV studios in Aston, Birmingham and on which appeared several Brummie bands.


EASY BEAT
With the changes to music trends the name Saturday Club was replaced by Easy Beat which Brian presented until the arrival of Radio 1 in 1967.

For the next few years he was involved with other projects and I was really pleased to have him back on Radio 2 presenting "Sounds of the 60's" on Saturday morning which was very reminiscent of the old days.  He had a faithful audience of "avids", as he called them who shared their musical memories of venues and bands who had escaped the clutches of stardom but had made a single or two and these rarities would make a welcome addition to my listening now and again.


Brian presented this programme up until the age of 88 and was the oldest DJ on the box.  He was treated extremely badly by the BBC and was replaced without any discussion.  Not only that, on May 5 the BBC announced his death.....except he hadn't died.   I think one can imagine just how he might have felt not only by the shameful betrayal by the BBC but to have their false announcement too, which you would think they might have confirmed.  I imagine his family were distraught....he died 3 days later!

The Press are quick to latch on to the deaths of celebrities piling praise on them for what they did for music, pretty bad that he didn't get much of that for 67 years of broadcasting eh?   Out of time I guess?

From me, the AVIDS and all those 60's teenagers who spent their Saturday mornings listening to 60's music presented in a nice familiar sort of way, I wish you a fond farewell Brian and I thank my lucky stars that I had the pleasure of your company.  

50TH ANNIVERSARY SGT PEPPER
"It was fifty years ago today, Sgt Pepper Taught the band to play"

It's simply amazing that this anniversary is here, 50 years since the release of Sgt Pepper.

I recall hearing it for the first time en route with the band for a gig at The Flamingo, Redruth 1967 (Since burned to the ground), we were all thrilled by its inventiveness for the time, great melodic content and George Harrisons eastern influences.   Once in a while I sit myself down with a drink and a bit of herbal jazz and listen to it from start to finish without interruption and I am still held in awe by the sound of it's production, it's subtle nuances and ambient harmonies and naturally the songs and no matter how many times you listen to the climax of Day in the Life it still lifts the top of your head off. 

I have the album on vinyl and CD including the
re-mastered stripped down CD

and every one sounds brilliant but with subtle differences and every song was  
recorded on a 4 track tape machine which is the most astounding achievement.   

To celebrate this Anniversary there is of course a music release and apart from the people who have never heard this before, I'm afraid I really am beginning to think it's wearing a bit thin, flogging the album to death in every conceivable form and I definitely won't be taken in by the line "At last The Beatles have authorised a Super De-Luxe Edition"....
"Bollocks".  

With the Super de Luxe at roughly 100 quids it doesn't have anything that I want to hear and I can't see the benefit of listening to it in 5.1 thanks because I have the recordings I like. 

However, if you are recently into The Beatles or you're looking for a nice birthday present for someone it might be a nice gift

It comes with 6 CD's and a few buttons and bells for you or a loved one to indulge themselves in, so enjoy!   It's better to give than to receive.

FINALLY
It would appear callous if I don't mention the recent Manchester tragedy but I don't wish to give credence to these bastards.  Birmingham suffered it's own share of terrorist acts with the Bombings and the loss of 21 innocent lives.  I am pleased to say that finally after all this time by the campaigners and brilliant work of Brummie muso's Phil Hatton and Dave Morgan to highlight the injustice for the 21, there has been some legal movement giving them the right to legal aid to pursue some kind of resolution.

OK you guys I'm in a Cliff Richard "Summer Holiday" vibe and Mrs Bob is waiting in the garden dressed as Una Stubbs?  Anything could happen...

Next month Brummies Abroad et al.....


Bobeekins.  

"Doo doo-do-doo do doo-doo"

Copyright:  BullsHeadBob
Contact:    Bobsbullocks@GMail.com





















Monday, 1 May 2017

Bulls Head Bob May 2017 - CHESS RECORDS best label ever? SHOCK AND AWE - Are you fully Accesorised? Keep fit for Brexit, Mrs Bob's Fat Behind.

Hello Brummies,

Happy May Day to all you guys, You're probably packing the kids in the car and hitting the road to spend a day on the beach so have a nice time.

BACK TO THE BEGINNING OF IT ALL
When thinking back about the first days of Rock and Roll recording studios we automatically think about Sun Records and Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash, latterly known as the "Million Dollar Quartet" because of this photo taken in Memphis at the Sun Records Studio, indeed they were the rebels of their day and the youth of the free world knew them all.   They were the purveyors of the music of the Now generation and most parents hated them with a passion.
They were all exciting, the music was intense and of course Elvis had wiggly hips which caused chaos wherever he went.   Of those four and despite Elvis' looks, demeanour and obvious talent, Jerry Lee was the real rebel and stage showman.    Great as they were, there was one obvious point about them, they were all white!  Sun Records was founded in 1952 and America was still steeped in racial exclusion. 

CHESS RECORDS
533 miles away lay Chicago a busy industrial city on the Mississippi, a trade hub with a massive population and a large black community.   In 1947 a Polish immigrant called Leonard Chess bought a stake in Aristocrat records and later on took over the company and brought in his brother Phil, changing the name to CHESS.   Aristocrat Records had already recorded Muddy Waters in 1947 and his second recording on the label "I cant be Satisfied" was a minor hit but naturally only in the black community.     The Chess Brothers started recruiting mainly black artists and in 1950 the first CHESS release was Gene Ammons with "My Foolish Heart" which produced a good hit for the label.  The same year Alan Freed had passed on a doo-wap group called the Moonglows who went on to have several hits too.


In 1951 CHESS formed an association with Sam Phillips who passed onto them the first Rock and Roll release with "Rocket 88", Sam Phillips was yet to form the Sun label.  Although history states that Rock Around the Clock was the first hit it should be said that it was the first hit for a white audience.

The label built up such a great stable of artists including Etta James, Little Walter, Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, Willie Dixon, Buddy Guy, John Lee Hooker, Memphis Slim, Elmore James and of course the incredible stalwart of Rock, the fantabulous Chuck Berry. 


With the advent of Beat Groups of the 60's there was a constant search for new material to play and the CHESS catalogue of songs fitted the bill perfectly and the old white Rock and Roll was neatly tucked away and forgotten about.  Chuck Berry was king and we all played Johnny B Goode.  In the later blues boom of 62 nearly every band was hungry for material and life was good for CHESS as musicians scoured the record shops for old blues recordings.   For me it was the high point of British rock with everyone trying out their own interpretations of these classic Black songs.    I love the recordings too, full of excitement, atmosphere and feeling.


I would go so far as to say that this was probably the most influential record label, more so than SUN.   I love practically everything that was recorded there and I really recommend getting your hands on some old CHESS vinyl recordings sit yourself down and revisit those days of great basic music. 
The Founder Phil Chess died last year, one of the most important men in rock music ever so don't forget his name. 

There  is a film "Cadillac Records" with Beyonce Knowles as Etta James which is worth a look at too if you have the inclination.

STRAPPING STUFF
I think that probably, musicians are clinically bonkers, hibernating in a bedroom or garage all night practising, spending everything they have to improve their sound and their equipment with little chance of any success especially these days.   Nothing changes with time either, you have to pay your dues, make your mistakes, get shafted a few times by unscrupulous managers and stabbed in the back by your musician "mates" who you believe are in it with you but the reality is that they would eat their own faeces to get success so crapping all over you is no problem at all for them.

Well when I say that nothing changes with time I am wrong in one sense and that is, there isn't anything cheap any longer and if it is cheap then you can almost guarantee that you will be paying for constant repairs or upgrades. Quality comes at a price.   I have just bought a Gibson Les Paul Double cut and thought I would get myself a comfy strap to go with it, I don't like the nylon straps you get these days.   OK Bob, off we go to EBay which I use as a virtual shop window to see what the going rate is for new items.

SHOCK AND AWE!  
In the old days when you bought a guitar the shop would generally throw in a strap or even a guitar case, such was the service in music shops of old.  
I'll get a branded one I thought with Gibson printed on it..............like this

Looks comfy, I don't like the plastic clips which remind me of a back pack but it is what it is, a guitar strap.

F**K me!!   88 Pounds!!!! and this is not the most expensive either!

Half an hour later I had found two old leather belts in my wardrobe, measured the distance over my shoulder, then I took them to the Cobblers and had them sewn together with eyelets at either end for 3 quid.   I wrote Bob on one of them as a trade mark.   

KEEP FIT FOR BREXIT
Me and Mrs Bob are making plans for the country's eventual exit from the EU in 2 years time.   We have been reading all the doom and gloom reports that food prices will skyrocket for us merry Brexiteers and that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is mulling over shagging up our pensions too so we have decided to slim down in preparation.  Mrs Bobs group of leotard wielding ladies are hard at it and can be seen below at a recent press launch of their new slimming method called  "DRIPPING FAT BEHIND"?  
Mrs Bob centre and the FAT BEHIND group
You can just spot me at the back with a shovel ready to scrape up the residue fat off the road and make it into candles or "Merkelbusters" as we like to call them.

Right you guys off I go for a day of merriment.

FINALLY
Isn't it strange that of the 396 people who have been a member of ELO only two were at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame awards, Jeff Lynne and for some reason Hagrid?

Take Care
Bob

STOP PRESS...UPDATE...

RECENTLY REFORMED BANARAMA when asked if they were going to at least try to do some 2 part harmonies said "It's impossible, there's 3 of us you see!!". Glory days



Saturday, 1 April 2017

BULLS HEAD BOB APR 2017. Hang the guilty bastard. The Gibson Les Paul Special doublecut 2015. BRUM BANDS UNITE STEVE GIBBONS GIG.

Howdooooo!!

Well, here we are again 1st of the month and as usual people will be logging onto the blog to see what wonders await them.  It is April 1st but I'm not going to try and pull the wool over your eyes although you could forgive yourself for thinking so last month. 
HANG THE GUILTY BASTARD!
There's always a way to see if your blog is being read and that is to make an error and think you can get away with it, you soon find out from emails that you definitely can't pull the wool etc. 
In the old days of membership of The Old Kit Observers club, " TOKO" an error could be punished by having an aubergine forcibly inserted in yer back passage. I am a member of TOKO and last week, to my surprise discovered that this rule hadn't been superseded.

I can tell you now that, it was painful at first, but the vegetable softened up over a week or so and life got a bit more bearable.  Luckily for me the TOKO Enforcer "Eric the Inserter" turned out to be an Uncle so it was "thin end first" with a light coating of Brylcreme.   He sung "Love me Tender" during the Insertion which I have to say did have a soothing effect............. I thought to myself, he would sound so much better with a Binson Echorec.

In my Italian flavoured blog, last month, I included a picture of an Echo unit saying it was a Binson but in fact it was a Klemt clone.   I did know that but, as usual I was stuck for time and hoped I'd get away with it??

So to all of those who adore Binson Echorec here's a picture to warm your hearts.  It is a thing of beauty that I have never owned but I did know several people of note who used them to good effect and others who used the effects to make them appear better.  The superior and Italian Binson Echorec 1 and 2 are the ones to get if you can, great for small venue vocals too. It looks so groovy and as a result of it's looks and sound this machine became a well known as a style statement so it was not suprising that other look alikes would follow.  The Klempt I showed was a clone Ecolette and was tape operated as opposed to a hard drive Binson.

I apologise to, nay I applaud you eagle eyed guys for pointing this out so now and in an SAS like operation in the dead of night, when even Plooki, my Japanese Loft Boy fan, will be asleep I shall do a quick replacement. 

Oh yes, as a token of my gratitude you are cordially invited to a slap up aubergine meal at Brumbeat Towers.

GOING BACK TO BASICS
In 1963/4 as a young sproglet and armed with my Wilson Rapier and my RSC 8 watt amp I ruled the world of The Shadows, there was not one tune I couldn't play.   I had so impressed my lovely Mum that she said that I deserved a better guitar now that I was playing with a group at youth club level and albeit very amateurishly.    I naturally wanted a Fender Stratocaster like Hank and started looking about for a quality item knowing that the Strat was way out of my economic zone, the natural progression from a Wilson would have been to get a Hofner V3 like my mate Oggie but I decided to take 'one step beyond' and go for something really good.

I was in Ringway Music one day, in the early days when it was small shop, and a Gibson Les Paul Junior was un-packed and hung on the wall.  No tremelo, one pick-up but there was something brutally basic about it that really appealed to me, plus the fact I had seen Mick Walker of The Redcaps playing his Gibson bass and I loved the body shape and it's blood red colour.   On taking it down and feeling it in my hands I knew she was the girl for me 

I spoke to Pete Oliver about it and he recommended a different guitar, something that could be more of an all-rounder but I was hooked on getting this guitar and my Mum got it on the newly available Hire Purchase, the price was 48 guineas or thereabouts plus a bit more for a case.   I loved that guitar and having already bought a second hand Selmer 30 watt Bluey Twin we blasted our way through You Really Got Me and all those rasping classics of the early to mid 60's. 
It was a great instrument to play. 

As the years progressed I purchased other Gibsons including SG Standards and finishing with a 1956 Gibson TV.   I traded in my original Les Paul Junior back to Ringway Music in 1968 for an electric piano to enable a pianist who had no money to join the band I was in.  I like to think he just forgot to give me the money for it but he did quite well as a result.

Anyway, in the last blog I suggested that it would be a good idea to invest in an early Italian guitar if only for the sake of style I thought that a budget of 500 pounds should get me something good, if I looked hard enough.   I started looking but on the way tripped over an advert for another stripped down guitar, one volume, one tone, one pick-up selector switch and my Italian dreams bade me "Ciao" and I once more fell in love with this Gibson guitar and after doing my homework bought it straight away.  Didn't even try it out at the shop so sure was I.

The Les Paul Special Double Cut 2015.   This guitar was around 700 quid when released but I managed to get this one brand new for 518 pounds, including hard case and postal charges.   It comes equipped with the G Force tuning system and its hot!!   

GUITARISTS GUITAR?
This guitar is not without it's detractors who lament the
tuning system and the "Les Paul 100" logo, one even complained that it has a holographic sticker on the back of the headstock depicting Les Paul, what difference does that make to the sound of the guitar??? what a dork. Honestly lets get real!

WIDE NECK
What some others mention though is that, this is a brilliant guitar but does take some mastering to get all the tones.  I can see why some people have had a difficulty getting around this guitar.  It takes a while to get accustomed to the much wider neck profile but I found after a day or two its just fine, you have to persevere to get the best results.  It was stated by Gibson that it was to help with bending, personally it doesn't make any difference to me but may aid others.  I like the neck though, great if you play slide too.   More controversy is about:  
G FORCE TUNING
The G Force tuning system has come in for a fair amount of criticism and I will say here and now that when I first tried it I was disappointed that it didn't appear to do what it said.   I was all over the place trying to make the soddin thing work properly, however, if you disregard the pretty-near useless instruction sheet supplied by Gibson which is pitiful and go immediately to You Tube where some folks have uploaded it's functions you will save yourself  a considerable amount of heartache and will learn to embrace this great tool in a guitarists armoury and once you've mastered the basic operations of tuning and restringing, you're away.  A push of a button plus a couple or three strums of the guitar and its back in tune.  It can be as easy as that and for me a treasure for on-stage work. 

I will leave those bemoaning these features sat staring at their Les Paul in its protective case thinking to themselves how lucky they are to have a Gibson with the right amount of screws on the scratchplate.  I on the other hand, will be thrashing the shit out of this thing getting it to scream like its basic predecessors.  In fact I would like to thank the detractors profusely for giving this guitar and its add-on's a bad name allowing me to buy a GREAT brand new guitar that I predict will become of those guitars you wished you had bought yourself.

It's no longer in production and is not available at most guitar stores.

THANKS!!  

BIRMINGHAM BANDS UNITE
STEVE GIBBONS
To let you guys know that there will a concert this month at Birmingham Town Hall in support of the Justice for the 21 who sadly lost their lives in the city bombings.  The gig will feature the great Steve Gibbons, Quill and Dave Morgans Morganisation along with others and should be a treat for the ears as well as supporting a worthy cause.




OK, here comes Spring so get your motors running.  I'm off for some Gibson finger blistering.

Hope you get an Easter Egg.

Bob