Saturday, 1 September 2018

Bulls Head Bob Sep 2018. Bobs Hols..Going for a Song under the Matala Moon. Jug O punch Campbells. UB40. Jimmy Cliff.

Hello Brummies, my worldwide family of Mates, Muso's and lovers of 60's Beat Music.

and.....I'm Back from me Hols.  

I went to Greece, Crete to be exact and spent so much money that on the day I left they country said they had now emerged from their world debt to Angela Merkel.    It wasn't the Ouzo, Greek food, smashing plates, Mikis Theodorakis, bouzoukis and sunshine that drew us there, it was to fulfil a distant fantasy borne of love for a wispy and willowy Canadian songstress that made me go there with Mrs Bob.  We went there to visit Matala, the location referred to in Joni Mitchells song "Carey".  Carey being Joni's nickname for the wonderful James Taylor and the song just a part of her most beautiful album "Blue".   "Carey get out your Cane, I'll put on some silver" she sang, not referring to walking sticks and jewellery but Cocaine and a silver spoon.   Matala was an old hippy playground where you could drink wine under the Matala Moon and sleep it off in the cave complex by the sea for free.

Waves Restaurant..The Bobs and wine.
We were hoping to go to The Mermaid Cafe where "I can buy you a bottle of wine" but the place has long since gone so we visited The Waves cafe where The Mermaid once stood and drunk sufficient wine till we thought we were at The Mermaid.

The place still has a lovely vibe and I could well imagine James and Joni being there, playing music in those halcyon days of longing for world peace and love, as hackneyed as it may seem these days, it was for a while, a time of change and a strong feeling of hope for the world.   

This wasn't the first time I had booked a holiday based upon a favourite song.  A few years back we went to Morocco and stayed in Essaouira, a favourite haunt for Joni, Graham Nash and Jimi Hendrix to name but a few.  "Marrakesh Express" was written there by Nash during his Hollies days but that band didn't think the song was good enough so Nash upped sticks, left The Hollies and the rest is history. 
 Anyway, we had a great time and reminisced about our youthful days.    I shall be looking for another Songoliday soon, try it for yourself if you have an urge to live in a song setting for a short while. One more thing,  If you don't own Joni Mitchells "Blue, buy it now and listen to how she sold her soul for that collection of songs, every part of it biographical and a true masterpiece of song writing.   Joni came to Birmingham in the early 60's.

Joni Mitchell once played at The Jug O' Punch folk club which was situated at Digbeth Institute which was then known as Digbeth Civic Hall, in Birmingham for the princely sum of 10 pounds.  Paul Simon also played there around the same time (1964) for the same amount and during that visitation to the UK wrote the classic Homeward Bound.

The venue was run then by the Ian Campbell Folk Group, Ian Campbell was a massive influence in the folk world and attracted quality musicians into his ranks including violin wizard Dave Swarbrick and bassist Dave Pegg.   Folk music was not in vogue and oft thought of as bearded men in cable knit sweaters, smoking pipes and singing about the cold North winds but with the arrival in 65 of Bob Dylan and Donovan in the UK the genre became much more popular and folkies became famous, as did poetry and soft stuff like that.  James Taylor referred to this period as "The Great Folk Scare".

Ian Campbells legacy to Birmingham didn't end with folk music because he was the father of Ali and Robin Campbell who were founder members of reggae outfit UB40 and carried forward the Campbell name into the modern era.

Nice old Black and White shot above of the Campbell folk group, Ian second right.   This line up recorded "Private Airman Harris" a song written by then Uglys member Dave Morgan.  Guaranteed novelty song flop.

Robin 2nd left back and Ali 2nd right front.

Ali Campbell left UB40 after 29 successful years and was replaced by the 3rd Campbell brother Duncan in 2008 or thereabouts.   There are now 2 versions of UB40, as is the way these days.

It was good to see this Brummie group was one of the first multi cultural bands and moreover, singing Reggae music which suited Ali's voice so much that you could have been forgiven for thinking that he was Jamaican.

The members of UB40 would have been on the small side during the late 60's but we had one of the most talented reggae stars ever living in the City and that person was the amazing Jimmy Cliff. 
 For those who didn't get the chance to see this man on stage, you missed one of the greatest performers of the era.
I did a gig at The Belfry supporting him and was blown away by his powerful vocal range and his energy on the stage, not what I was expecting from a reggae artist but he was much more than that.   When he sang you felt the vibe of his music and he wrote some amazing songs.  He was a nice, kind guy but  desperately sad at living in a large, impersonal, cold city away from Jamaica and his friends.

This sadness was beautifully encapsulated by his song "Many Rivers to Cross" written about his UK stay.   He didn't do well in the UK because Island Records had tried to book him out to Rock audiences and it was never going to work, no matter how good he was.  He returned to Jamaica and became more famous for his film appearances until many years later.

UB 40 recorded Many Rivers to Cross in 1983, bringing the song back home where it was created.

BIRMINGHAM ..greatest little city on earth.  I'm so proud to come from this fantastic place.

Take Care you guys and be nice to each other.

Next month full review of a new CD from the late, great Roger Hill.


Copyright:  Bulls Head Bob

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Bulls Head Bob Aug 2018. Bobs Holiday

What Ho you guys.

As you read this I will be jetting across the blue yonder to dip my feet in the sea on the odd occasion whilst over indulging myself with booze and that order.

I shall be back in 2 weeks refreshed and will have the August blog published on my return.....

See you soon, wish you were here!

Bob, Mrs Bob, 3 Bobettes and their Bobbolinos.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Bulls Head Bob July 2018 - Bob's Dirty Weekend. Drum Corner..D J Fontana. Bulls Head Bob Out of Tune? Gibson GForce Tuning System.

Hello Brummies,

Sizzle sizzle, burn burn so to quote Stevie Wonder its as Hot as July.
It appears we have left the "Balls off a brass monkey", beast from the east,
winter and arrived in the middle of the Kalahari with soaring temperatures that makes our normal sickly white skin crisp up a treat.

Sales of Calamine lotion, to soothe the excesses of overdoing it in the sun, have gone through the roof.  It will probably become known as the Great Calamine Rush of 2018.  Me and Mrs Bob are not going to be caught out though so with one eye on the purse strings and being a bit canny, we make the journey to Weston-Super-Mare for the weekend, where you can liberally cover yourself in the free mud of the beach....I ask you, Who wouldn't want to be there?  

I've always found it strange that its mostly Brummies there and no overseas visitors but if it keeps the Belgians away it can only be a good thing.  If the EU people had got a whiff of "Le Mud" they'd defo want to tax it and then use it as a leverage point in Brexit Negotiations....Les Tosseurs.

I mean not only does it prevent sunburn but has an original aroma that will certainly make you the centre of curiosity and attention.  We even take some mud back to Brum as a gift for our close friends Nogger and Lucy, they use it as a salad dressing.  In the picture Mrs Bob can be seen in her element wallowing away and I'm on hand pushing her in a bit deeper whilst she stuffs some extra mud in her pockets for later on in the hotel, it really adds something to the concept of a dirty weekend?

I am not too proud to admit that once in a while I make a mistake....
and this is it:

Dear me,  I had so much hope and faith that this would work for me and I tested it thoroughly when I first bought my 2015 Double Cut, a couple of years ago when it arrived at my house, special courier.   The guitar is fab, I have no issues at all with that, its a pleasure to play and I love it's no nonsense approach.  When I first got it I thought the tuning system was fine and it is, if you are in your living room noodling about, thinking to yourself as I did "Wow this is great, what a time saver, press a button, strum once and your guitar will put itself into concert pitch tuning.  Couldn't be easier.

There must be something in the electronics though that says to itself "Just you wait till you get on stage!!".   In fact, I found that, in my case, the moment you leave the confines of your living room it becomes a wild child and does "what the fuck it wants to".   I always take 2 or 3 guitars to practise to refine the tones of one or the other and I kid you not, when I take this guitar it gives the band an immense amount of pleasure to see me struggle when, for no sane reason at all during the advertised  "Strum Once and play" my B string de-tunes a couple of octaves.  It's not only the B string but it does have a liking for this tonal area.  I used it on stage once and it was a nightmare because not only did I get the random de-tuning episode but also, I found out that if you haven't got a mini lighting system on the back of your guitar, you can't see the push buttons to operate the thing!!  

My eyesight is shit without my glasses so I felt like Mister Magoo holding the headstock two inches from my nose so I could see what to push as it went into "Random mode".
The others in the band were all looking over at me and I could see their shoulders moving up and down with internal laughter as my Joe Cool image melted through the floor and I turned into Napoleon Dynamite, in the end I gave up and put it back in the case...some members of the audience clapped with relief as my machine heads whirled around hither and thither doing nothing constructive.
I think they were those who too, had bought a guitar with this system and felt sorry for me.

selector buttons on right.
It's said the beauty of this system is that you can use the setting to change tunings between conventional and Drop D for instance with the push of a button and back again.   I haven't made any journeys into other tunings because I have no need of this function with rock and roll guitar, so it intrigues me why it should want to whizz my B string up and down like a whores drawers? but I guessed it was because no-one really likes 'B' do they?

Blog mate, Tony Russell bought the same Gibson as I and like me, likes it apart from the tuning system.   

I shall be removing it when I have saved up enough to buy some decent and appropriate manual tuners.  It has occurred to me to use it on one of my acoustics where it wont be subject to lots of string bending which I imagine is a contributor to the frailty of this system or I might sell it on but whatever choice I make I know that I wont be buying another of these.   I was dead wrong in my initial assessment.
With a tear in either eye we say farewell to the great D J Fontana, drummer for Elvis Presley at the beginning of all this rock and stuff.

This groovy picture says a lot about how music was recorded and a lot about what you did with a limited supply of played it well.
Fontana was invited to join The Blue Moon Boys which was Elvis, Scotty Moore and Bill Black and when Elvis took off, this band played on all the early hits eventually winding up in 1958 with Moore and Black leaving over their salary. However, Fontana continued to work with Elvis for another 15 years in some shape or form.  

Some of the sharp eyed will notice that, in this picture Elvis is holding a "singers support rail" it must have been some ancient recording device 
designed to keep his swivelling hips in check.
He is also a long way back from the Microphone, so he must have been really giving it some.

D J Fontana IS an iconic drummer and he fuelled the dreams of up and coming drummers of my generation.  The reason for his success was his simplicity and his syncopation he had formulated as the resident drummer for the American show 'Hayride' and to quote DJ "It was so simple and effective no-one could mess with it" and he was right.  Ringo Starr who obviously would have listened and copied the Elvis songs and therefore, the drumming style of Fontana's on classics such as Heartbreak Hotel and Jailhouse Rock famously became the chosen drummer for The Beatles for that very same reason.   He did a lot with a little and made it count.

I listened to some early Elvis records whilst doing this and it whisked me back to the front room of our house as a sproglet in Brum gathered around the record player and jiving and then again years later around the record player learning those same songs on guitar and playing them in the sixties.  As soon as the music started my head started bobbing along to DJ Fontanas snare drum so simple, so effective, no effects apart from some filters or compression or shit like that just real music that would have sounded the same when it was live..... hauntingly beautiful in a rock sense.  It kind of reminded me that he along with those other early pioneers standing behind Elvis were too, my biggest influences on music style without really knowing it.

DJ has left the planet but will always be in our musical memories.  The beat goes on.

A tit-bit to cheer you up.  Morrisey has cancelled his July tour of the UK!  I can't believe my luck.   A sad day for wimpy men though who want to be "miserable now".

I'm not being suckered in to all the world cup mania malarkey.  I've still got a wardrobe full of England kits we bought for all the other world cups we didn't do well in.   However, it would appear that my physique has altered in shape a tad since then so instead of actually wearing it, I tie it onto the dog.

Holiday times are upon us so try not to get too stressed with all these traffic and travel restrictions involved in getting to your destination.  Because once you arrive you can get your feet up, become a wine expert on your Bodega visit, eat as many all day breakfasts as you like and forget your worries for a short while.

"I can smell the sea"

Tara a bit,

Copyright:  Bulls head bob


Friday, 1 June 2018


Hello Brummies, Brummie Muso's, Knackered Old Sods from the 60's and fresh faced youths from around the globe hungry for snippets of how it was in olde Birminghame when you could pay cash for a bus ticket or go to the heart of the Irish community in Sparkhill.

Well not a great month for Villa supporters like me and now I will have to put myself through yet another year of torment.   Is it all worth it I ask myself?
probably not is the answer.   So lets get onto my:-
Some folk might accuse me of using this months title as nothing more than
sensationalist innuendo, appealing to the dark, crude people of the night, lusting after various and sundry delights.   In fact I can hear one certain person right now tutting at my use of "Carry On" style gutter smut as an enticement to read this monthly delivery of assorted fiddle-faddle.  

It all started way back in the 90's when a bloke who lived around the corner called me in and asked me what I thought about his small red knob, followed by an invitation to pay him 120 quid for it!  It didn't look very much to me but after I'd played with it I knew I wanted to play with it again.
I was a bit broke at the time and thought I could offer him a hundred.  Although it was tiny, I soon found out that, after some manipulation, it grew and filled quite a large space.  When I got home I went straight into my room and played with it on my own at every opportunity.  Others I knew had sneered at it and my band actually laughed when I pulled it out at the practise room.   

However, a couple of years later, in 1995, Radiohead recorded The Bends, surely one of the finest pieces of music ever, haunting quirky lyrics from Thom Yorke and vicious, snarling guitars from Johnny Greenwood. Nobody knew at the time but Johnny had a small red knob too!! 
Once it became common knowledge that me and Johnny had little ones life suddenly changed and I found myself being hailed as Mr Joe Cool with my previous detractors now filled with jealousy at my little red knob.

Johnny Greenwood had recorded The Bends using a little Fender Red Knob Studio 85,
just the same as mine seen here in the picture underneath his VOX AC30.

All the Fender amp purists will be gagging and spluttering as they battle to get their heads around it being a solid state amp, that is, transistorised!
There is just so much elitist bullshit that I can take about it being necessary to have an amp full of valves.   I have a valve amp thank you very much, a Laney VC30, nice little number that cranks out a good volume and has some bite to it that I bought on a whim as it was a Brummie amp.
It is the amp I use least though.

So, I too have a Red Knob Studio 85 which I love and have used for gigs in smaller venues and principally, recording.  Here it is:

I love this amp and thought about looking for another that I could link together so I could use it for bigger venues.   It is equipped with one 12 incher and is really around 65 than 85 watts. 

It is fortunate then, that whilst perusing the web I came across a bigger solid state red knob amp that would fit the bill perfectly.  

The model is the Fender Power Chorus with 2 x 12 inch speakers and 130 watt output. It can be a real risk buying a second hand amp off the net without trying it out first, something I don't really recommend under normal circumstances.    However, the amp was advertised as having the same owner from new and had been used in the house only.   Normally a statement like that has to be taken with a large pinch of salt but upon examining the photos that were available I could see that there was not a single blemish on it.  It came with the user manual, and still had the Fender check tag attached to the mains cable.   

Here we have it, apart from a tiny snag on the speaker grille, it is in mint condition.

I had previously investigated several sources about this amp and found that it is built with 2 separate amplifiers, both the same as the one in the Little Red Knob!!  One clean channel which can be used for electro acoustic and one with overdrive.  It was built to challenge the Roland Chorus amp which was a great favourite of the time.   It was the last range of amps designed and manufactured in the USA at Lake Oswego, Oregon, in 1998, thereafter fabrication was moved to China.  The best of all it was 160 pounds!!

It is a true stereo amp with a clean and driven channel that can be mixed together to give you a massive range of tones and is equipped with a Chorus application too if you have a fancy for some wobble to your music!.  
The USA models have LO before the serial number.

It is very LOUD and easily usable for gigging.  It came with the original four-way foot switch which is a most sought after piece of kit in its own right and, if you can find one, you will have to pay around 50 or 60 pounds for one in a shabby state.  

Furthermore being solid state makes it a whole lot lighter than the standard Fender Twin which weighs in at 100 pounds.

My old friend Roger Hill had a Red Knob and he knew a thing or two.

I can't tell you the amount of times I have come off stage and received comments about the sound I get.  I never mention valves but I do smile a lot.  

I am extremely delighted with this amplifier and know how lucky I was to find one in such a beautiful condition, there isn't even a scratch on the foot switch!!
Now all I need to do, apart from enjoying playing through this, is to wait for some other well known guitarist to record some classic piece of music with his Big Red Knob and I'll be quids in. 

So "Stop being a snob, Be like Bob and get yer hands on a little red knob"

Sorry for the Smut.  Now for some guitar Porn!

Well here's a stonker for you, as you know I lurve Italian style and this time its style in a box.

Currently on sale on EBay for a couple of thousand pounds is this gorgeous 1963 Meazzi Continental offered in "Collectors Condition" and not only is it a great looking thing but it comes in a guitar case with built-in Meazzi Metropolitan amplifier (not working).   

I imagine that it would sound pretty poor but back in the day this would have been a great thing to own.  I love it to death but not Two grands worth of love but someone out there might want it that much.   Lucky shopping!!

I reported last month a sterling effort to raise money for a couple of charities by Rob Oliver and a couple of his pals.  They undertook a gruelling bike ride from Lands end to John O groats and have, so far, raised over 12000 pounds.  

This is not a one-off, Rob and his mates have done a yearly challenge to raise money for and increase awareness of those who maybe suffering from some disadvantage.   Great result you guys and I know just how proud Pete Oliver would have been with Robs dedication, a lesson to us all.    I'm sure that you could probably donate a little more if you wanted to through the Deadlegz web site.   

"Didn't it rain Hallelujah, didn't it rain".   By the cringe, Birmingham has never seen rain like that before.  I could have gone swimming in the River Cole and it was over 60 years since I'd been able to do that.  It was good for my enormous Hollyhocks though!!   Oops matron!!! 

Take Care of each other you people,


Copyright:  Bulls Head Bob

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Bulls Head Bob May 2018 - Rising up the Gig Ladder.

 Howdoo you Brummies and Mates across the world.

I promised you the Brummies Abroad this month, unfortunately, due to excessive demand for me to play gigs and things, it all went South.    Nonetheless I will be bringing you that annual event a little later on in the calendar but for now.

The Gig Ladder
The first time I played for anyone was at school, probably like everyone else
who fancied themselves as a budding rock star, my mate and I played "I'm a Hog For You Baby" by Screamin Lord Sutch, during music class.   The teacher provided us with the classroom type amplifier that all education establishments had in those days, around 3 watts I think.  As I recall my guitar unplugged, was louder than the amplified signal!    Naturally we got the applause of our classmates which I think gave us some confidence for future events.  I think we even did an encore!!

Confidence is key and, in Birmingham in the early sixties, there were youth clubs and coffee bars that you could "cut your teeth"on as a group then.  It started as a mix of Shadows stuff with a few Everly Brothers songs.  I can't even begin to remember all the different places I played at as a 14 year old, but for sure I did a lot with our band, often for nothing as auditions.   Sometimes we would go down really well and get ourselves a return, paid gig.  Then it was up to you how you approached the next time, sharpened up a couple of songs during practise and the inclusion of the current number 1 song in your act was sure to get the crowd to like you.  Once you had proved yourself at a bigger youth club you found yourself getting a lot of other Youth Club work all around the west midlands.   It was good steady bookings but by now, with your confidence on the rise and comparing yourself to groups who you once admired, you felt armed to get yourself a booking at a better known place where adults went!!  

So we started to turn down Youth club bookings, started playing RandB and decided to move up the ladder to Pubs and Clubs.  There were hundreds if not thousands of pubs in those days and on a Friday and Saturday Night they would each have a band in them and we got our first proper pub gigs under our belts, we learnt a lot about stage craft and had a fantastic time, our lipstick smeared van would announce us to all we passed.   OK we had done the pubs but there were Dance Halls to conquer now, with audience capacity of a thousand at some venues.
There was always a good route to getting proper bookings at Dance Halls and that was via The Reagans, an Irish family who booked a couple of the top venues in the city.  Probably every good band that came out of the 60's would have played at one of those venues The Ritz and The Plaza, Handsworth.   They would hold competitions for bands where you would have your "ordeal by fire" by playing to an audience for 15 minutes, at some of these there would be judges, or at others it was based on the audience reaction.  If you won, you got a couple of gigs.   My Reagan experience was through this medium and as I recall there were four or five groups, maybe more.    We all played our slot, we all played "Heart full of Soul" by the Yardbirds and we thought we had it in the bag, note perfect, bags of energy and the latest song.    We didn't win, ironically, losing it to a current Youth Club band who had bussed in their supporters for lung power and when they announced their name, Shitty Little Band ( I think that was their name?) they got the most prolonged cheer and we got our coats.... we did however pick up a manager that night.  

From then on, with this group and others, I played at all the Seaside Piers, Town Halls, City Halls and Assembly Rooms you could think of and including RAF bases and Universities.  Really large crowds, screaming girls at some.

From 17 I was playing with a bigger band and gigged at all the entertainment venues I had read about in the NME.  It was an achievement.  There was only one "Festival" and that was Reading Jazz Festival.  Not even Glastonbury yet.
I had reached the peak.  There was no more to strive for.    The Beatles played Shey Stadium to 56,000 and from then on things went mega huge

Festivals really arrived with the advent of flower power.  Woodstock, Isle of Wight and Glastonbury and they were getting bigger and bigger.   

To be booked to play a Festival is a sign that you are on the up.  
Groups sell their souls to get on a proper Festival stage these days.   Being booked to play a Festival gives you enormous bragging rights in the music community when you say "We're doing Glasto" or some other known musical event.    You see yourself being watched by a crowd of cider soaked hippies and students all "Giving it some" at the front of the stage "This is what I've strived for all my life, now is MY moment" adrenalin is pumping round your veins and you find yourself not eating   

Such was that feeling and state of mind of a mate of mine who I've known for a long time when he said they were doing a known festival with The Prodigy.  On the main stage, fantastic sound rig, lasers and lights up the ying-yang.   He's a drummer, he practised day and night leading up to this, he lost pounds in weight, there was no way he was NOT going to enjoy every minute of it, this his virgin BIG festival.

He prepared his phone to take a picture of the audience as he got on and off the stage.    

He didn't bother with the going off photo as there was no visible change.  He now had to face those who would inevitably ask how they went down at the festival!  

I bet they would have got a better audience in a youth club.   Its guaranteed as a musician that you will always get the stuffing knocked out of you at every step of the way, it's how you take the knocks that counts.   

So here we are, at the top of the gig ladder, major festival.  For most of the emerging groups of the 60's none of them got to stage 3, the Dance Hall.  

Nonetheless they probably had just as much fun as most of the others but maybe got a serious girlfriend or steady job which became more of a priority leaving those who had more drive to be a musician to continue up through the upper echelons of venues of the 60's.  Dance Halls are now really popular again because of Strictly Come Dancing.    

There are thousands of Festivals but Youth clubs are largely a thing of the past.  I feel sorry for Groups these days who are hard pushed to get on the roundabout of gigs, pubs are thin on the ground and the "Pay to Play" practises of unscrupulous promoters and fake agents deprive them of their ambitions.
I'm glad I played when I did, it was the most glorious of times.

First gig on the moon will be next.  It would be the only time I would want to go on first!!

I wish you all a joyous Bank Holiday and may the sunshine on you and yours eternally.   

Take Care

copyright:  Bullsheadbob

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Bulls Head Bob April 2018 - BOBS BACK!! NME bows out. STOP PRESS CHARITY UPDATE!!

Watcha Brummies,

I have been late with the blog before but never so late that I have had to arise and start doing it on the morning of publishing day. 
Bob and his Back
 I had sat down to start it last week but as I was standing up to make a cup of tea my back went out!!  Stuff my old boots, only days before I had been grafting away outside watching Mrs Bobs progress on the new garden pergola and I never felt a twinge.

That being said, this will be a short blog as I can only sit in one position for a short time before I have to lie down again.   However, the Pony Express always gets through.

Everyone involved in the music biz in the 60's and beyond in Brum knew and loved the wonderful Pete Oliver.   I have, in the past, highlighted some great charitable work that has been undertaken by Rob Oliver, Pete's son.    I'm really pleased to announce another one of his fund raising efforts.    I have to say now that he doesn't do things by half, last year he tackled the Three Peaks Challenge and raised a considerable amount of money.  

This year he has taken on a most daunting task and that is to cycle from Lands End to John O'Groats....1000 miles over a period of 10 days, and that is some distance on a bike.   The ride commences on 28 April 2018 and Rob will be accompanied by his Deadlegz mates Matt Wheeler and John Dicks.   I would have joined in of course if it weren't for my back!!

Maybe you have a bad back too or a dodgy knee or wobbly ankle that stops you from participating in this great personal challenge but one thing is for can donate a little of your hard earned dosh to help those with Motor Neurone Disease AND Parkinsons disease too. 

HOW CAN I HELP BOB?  Well first thing you need to do is visit the DEADLEGZ website and then simply consider how much you think you could help.  Although times are tough, one pound goes a long way when handled by a responsible Charity.  So please click on the link below to visit the site and give a little eh??


When I was young and dreaming of a rocking future I, like everyone else, was deprived of information about music.  Two radio programmes only a week that covered new music.  Easy Beat which became Saturday Club and the chart show on Sunday afternoon.    In Brum we had our own music paper Midland Beat which gave us local group information but  the New Musical Express was the music paper of choice.  There were a few others who were the NME's competitors but there were, in my opinion, second rate compared to this paper that had been published since 1952. 

Being in a band you set yourself targets and my little band was no exception.
I was really proud the first time our band name appeared on the back pages of the Evening Mail ad's, then the next step was to see your name in Big Letters and naturally the next was you topping the bill with the name of some other band as openers.  From then I was over the moon when we appeared in the Midland Beat and I had the final accolade of seeing my name in the NME itself!!
It didn't get better than that in music press terms as far as I was concerned.

It was informative, light hearted and full of pictures of the bands and singers of the day with some great reports like Keith Altham and Ian McDougal.

In 1967 Tony Secunda, The manager of The Move got the NME cartoonist, Ray Lowry I believe, to draw a postcard depicting Harold Wilson in a compromising situation with his secretary as publicity for their forthcoming record Flowers in the Rain.  He didn't inform the band of his actions but knew it would bring a shed full of publicity, and it did!!

He posted one through the front door of No 10 Downing Street and Wilson in his furore took the band to court the band got much TV coverage of them arriving at court, this propelled them into the depths of parental hate, which in itself was enough to make them stars in the eyes of the youth. 
The Move and Secunda
 The Prime Minister naturally won the case with The Move or more singularly Roy Wood, being found guilty and it was decreed that the royalties for the upcoming release would henceforth be paid to a children's charity in perpetuity.

I went off the paper during the Prog Rock days with twits like Charles Shaar Murray pontificating about how important social statements were related to ponderous, noodling guitar solos from bands like Yes....

Sadly the paper has now closed, no-one reads papers in these days of electronic, cyber press and that's a shame.  With the likes of Facebook and Youtube everyone can pretend to be a rock star and post their own videos too.
So thanks NME it was the Best of the Best during its high days.

My question is, what happens when the lights go out and you are left staring at your lifeless plastic screen?

OK folks that's all the pain I can take.   Back next month with the annual trip across the seas to Our Brummies Abroad.

Oooh, aargh, ouch!!

Take Care

Copyright Bullsheadebob

Thursday, 1 March 2018


Hello Brummies,

Well here we are the beginning of March and its soddin snowing!  The only thing that's keeping my spirits up are the Mighty Villa and Mrs Bob, always fun to be with.    Ok off we go!!


Well for my younger American friends out there in cyber land there has never been anyone who has come out of Brum who is better than the mighty Steve Winwood, not a vocalist, organist, or guitarist, in his field.  He is the Master of All He surveys and is currently touring the USA and selling out rapidly.
I first met him at Ringway Music in 1963 and we chatted for a while about guitars and things then I saw him play with the Spencer Davis Group at the Silver Beat Club, an old dark cellar under what is known today as "The Ramp". on Stephenson Place, in the heart of the City.  I was 14 years and 6 months old, and he had just reached the dizzy heights of 15, fifteen was a real step up on the teenage mental plane. That aside we were both too young to be allowed into the club under normal circumstances and even though we were both of a tender age he seemed to be from another place where they kept the best of everything, just like a Stephen King book you know?, he walks into a mist and comes out the other side with all those amazing gifts.  I felt knocked back on my heels, not just by the power of his amazing voice but the amount of soul and maturity within it.   His confidence and 
musicianship was astounding too and I felt shattered by comparison, I resolved to improve and changed my approach to music from that day forward, upping my practise rate to at least three hours a night.  

I was clever but never was I going to be a scholarly type, my evening practise sessions soon became full day and evening sessions I got absorbed by all the subleties and tones and ways of injecting feeling into my playing.  I was the champion of wagging off from school for months at a time, sometimes I would relent and go for a day or so but since seeing Steve play and contracting "Winwooditis" it seemed a lot more important to learn something by Muddy Waters than put myself through boring classes.   In those days there was no future for Comprehensive school students other than leaving school at 15 and working on a production line at a factory for the rest of your life.  There had to be something better.

We had a visiting Careers Officer come to the school and a mate in my class, who was equally sure of no great future, wrote on his "What Job do you want to Do" Form as his First Choice "Making Swarf" and as a secondary choice
"cuckoo clock shit shoveller".    

I got a massive 2 percent on my final French school exam and straight D's for everything else apart from art and music.  The only thing they could say about me on my school leaving certificate was that "having been a milk monitor might help me secure future employment".   So there I was out of school 15 years of age with but my guitar playing had advanced in leaps and bounds and I was playing in a great little band 3 or 4 nights a week sometimes making much more money than by working, although you couldn't guarantee on 3 nights a week or getting paid either!

Steve had already recorded "Dimples" and within the same year was in the Charts with "Keep on Running".  I was playing at The Silver Beat and other Brummie venues at night and for a while, because of the early finishing time, I was a milkman!! Those teachers were uncannily correct.

My encounter with Steve had indeed ruined my education prospects
but had greatly increased my passion for music despite all the crap that came along with it and, as a bonus, had also perfected my milk delivery techniques, three bottles each hand or four each hand if it was sterilised milk.  I was like the Tom Cruise of Fox Hollies Road and its environs, my rapid delivery style was almost legendary.  The long haired, Gold Top Kid however, like most things, my milk delivery stardom only blazed bright for a short while before I luckily got to turn Pro.    Steve was a star by then whisking up and down the British charts.

So anyway, fast forward 54 years.......Ringway Music and The Silver Beat has gone, along with all the other beautiful architecture in the city centre, and bizarrely so have milkmen!!  I am still a few months younger than Steve Winwood, still playing but not in need of a job and so is Steve but he is on a Tour around the world playing His Greatest hits, a kind of Winwood Candy Reserve, all the best bits in one box, and that's gotta be good for everyone.  

Any Brummie band would have been a success with young Steve Winwood in it as any band, anywhere, would have been.  Any band in the world today would love to have Steve Winwood in it, such is his status.

He simply is a "must see" and if it wasn't enough for him to have all those amazing attributes, he is the coolest of the cool.  A true one-off... you have the opportunity get yourself a ticket now!! on the Link below for more ticket and date info.......Gimme Some Lovin.

My first proper' guitar was a Gibson Les Paul Junior 1964 which I loved. The last guitar I bought was a Gibson 2015 Double Cut, kind of completed the circle if you will.   At the back end of January came the dreadful news that Gibson, the guitar giant could be facing closure in the very near term with staggering debts of half a billion dollars.  They had sold their factories already and were leasing the premises back, it would appear that massive loans they acquired and bond re-financing are coming up for payment and the well is dry.

In the early years you could guarantee that every instrument with that brand name was going to be a quality item worth paying for. There were only a few models available.   Sadly that is no longer the case unless you aimed at the higher end custom shop models.

Corporate greed in all music companies has flooded the market with cheap end instruments or the incredible quantity of "Signature" models from people I've never heard of.  Gibson also manufactures all Epiphone, Kramer, Steinberger, Dobro and Baldwin and included in those makes are their ubiquitous signature models too.   I remember back when Epiphone was a great guitar, I played one of the first "Casinos" and it was beautiful. 
They were hard to come by and anyone who was anyone bought one. Not so today with the brand regarded as a beginners cheapy.

I looked on Ebay yesterday and on the site alone there were 13,482 electric guitars for sale.  Staggering.  To add to Gibson woes are the Chinese copies which people buy because they cant afford the 4000 thousand pounds for a good Les Paul but can look like they've got one.   The Chinese copies are shit and I strongly advise anyone thinking of getting one to save your money, they are not cheap for no good reason and they don't give refunds if you're not happy and then no-one wants to buy them off you after you are pissed with it falling to bits.

It's a sad day to hear the news but in today's corporate, money grabbing businesses Pride and Quality are brushed aside for the easy buck and bollocks to the Trade Mark.  It was all so predictable.

If you have a nice early Gibson don't sell it. If the firm goes under you will at least have a quality item that will only attract increasing value.  The guitars that are available for sale now will decrease in price as mega stores try and dump them.

What a shame.

SHORT AND CURLIES Right I'd best get outside and do some path clearing.  We are being visited by the Ladies of Sparkhill Curling Team, we're such slaves to fashion and Mrs Bob has been out the back with the hosepipe spraying it constantly onto next doors large patio area, they're currently away on a cruise so they'll never know. They very thoughtfully installed some outdoor lighting too which we will be taking advantage of if we fancy a Night Slide. 

  It took a while for the water to freeze because it kept seeping in under their conservatory door but we soon found a way round that by drilling holes in their front door to allow the water straight through the house, they'll thank us for our quick thinking when they get back!  The ice will soon be frozen enough for us to have a "Slide or two" Don't you love being "On trend"?  Wrap up warm and keep yourself well during this cold snap my friends.

I hope I don't get banned for doping?

Take Care

copyright Bullsheadbob