Saturday, 1 September 2012


Hi Brummies, Brumettes, Brummies Abroad,

Well after the blast of the sensational Olympic games it's back to business as usual in the Bob household.   Mrs Bob has now stopped her "jogging for life"
activity after straining her mouth talking to her running mate, big Glenda,   she now has her head in a sling.  

I was thinking about some of the more regular bands who played at The Ritz alongside the Modernaires when the following YouTube clip was brought to my attention in the boozer.  It's a feature on The Cheetahs by the Cheetahs who I saw many times there and is nicely put together too, worth a little watch.

The BOAT today. (copyright Chris Selby)
Following the blog about the Walsall pub the "Three Men in a Boat", the Mouse e-mailed me a couple of recent photos of the 3 Men in a Boat at Walsall to "ooh" and "aah" about.  This was the home of some great R&B bands and today is the Beechdale Housing Association offices.   Recently the original pub sign was located and mounted on the wall of the rest area.  There was a rumour that this was done as a memorial to the great midlands bands who played there, unlike the commercial Walk of Fame crap that the Birmingham City Council have fobbed off on us, absolute disgrace if you ask me.  That aside, I have to say that unfortunately a rumour was all it turned out to be.   

(copyright Chris Selby)
There now seems to be a feeling that perhaps that would'nt be a bad idea!  Walsall was a great R&B town, as anyone who played there will tell you and I speak as someone who wasn't raised there but looked forward to playing there everytime.   Let's hope the Mayor of Walsall and of course, the Housing Association, are the sort who would like to 'keep it real', a bit more canny and proud of the great musicians of the town than the Mayor of Birmingham.

Hank.and Biff Pilchards "Movin it'
Back in 1961/2, my mate Higgi and I were 'wagging it' from school and as usual we bussed into the City of Birmingham and began our rounds of 'nose sliding' the windows of the music shops. The shops weren't packed with guitars and the choice of makes was about 2 or 3 and they all looked crap.  Some were absolutely bizarre with big holes in the body, one of those makes was Guyatone.   It looked like a bed pan and was just part of the range of ugly guitars produced in the early sixties, so, if you wanted to own a solid body guitar you took what was available.  It is no surprise then that this guitar was used by one Hank B Marvin and also the choice of Alan Caddy, guitarist for The Pirates until he had a copy of a Stratocaster made for him.   Did this mean it was a good guitar?   For me it was nothing more than an ugly piece of wood.  The headstock looked heavier than the body and the body looked as though it had been designed by a blacksmith.   I can't even say how good the electrics were.  Nonetheless it was used a lot and would have been part of that electric sound of those early days.

Guyatone was one of many factories in Japan who made 'badged' guitars for the european and US markets.  There were some very curious looking things being made out of what was left from previous models etc...   For those of you who would like to know about your old Japanese 'thingy' try visiting here very useful resource.

These days the preoccupation with believing that all guitars from the 60's are worth buying and sound great is quite staggering and equally wrong.  I watched recently on Youtube a clip of a guy who had submitted his 61 guyatone model.  "Well", I thought "Here's a chance to hear just how good or otherwise, it sounds."
As it came on the screen, so did this information, "Stripped out the Resistors, changed the wiring, changed the pick ups, sounds great now"...........question is? "why bother buying it in the first place?" it could have been any guitar which only goes to reinforce my belief that there are some crazy people out there. 

So as well as the grotty Guyatones there was the equally horrible Antoria,
yet another guitar manufactured at a factory in Japan.   This was a monstrosity but there were a lot worse to come from the land of the rising sun.   Not too many years later, junk shops used to be full of these things and it was for a legitimate reason, they sounded awful.  I can see people buying one if it happened to have been their first guitar and wanted to re-visit their youth but apart from that, not for me.   I do have to say here that I have played a couple of Antoria acoustic archtop guitars of the same period and they have sounded really warm. 

I have been quite a fan of EKO guitars based on them being of italian design and the fact that I have owned an EKO acoustic for over 40 years and it sounds fab and always has, it's extremely light and has the greatest recorded sound of all my acoustics. 
I also loved the EKOMaster 400 range of guitars which were a real design classic.  However, the EKO Florentine was abysmal..........goodness me what a bloody awful looking thing this is, butterscotch in colour with swirls of chocolate daubed on the scratchplate.  The tremelo arm was so long that you could use it as a tyre lever in extenuating cirumstances and you would have to be more than a little suspect about that bridge. I do like the knobs though and the headstock is just like a Hofner Violin bass.  Looking at both the Antoria and this EKO they must have been designed by the same bloke who presumably had once been a cake decorator.  I do believe that one of the Mothers of Invention used either one of these guitars (maybe the bass variant) on an "Old Grey Whistle Test" show.

Quite a rarity in early guitar brand names, Egmond were a Dutch company from Eindhoven who made some horrible early guitars like the Elektra 2 model shown here.
They, like the Japanese and Italian guitar makers also had sub-badges of their mark, one of which was Rosetti, strangely the Rosetti brand is probably better known than Egmond.  Paul McCartney owned a Rosetti Lucky 7 for a while which he disliked.

Do I need to say more??

The sparkly Hagstrom, or Goya as it was badged, was the guitar equivalent of the 60's "Metropolitan" car, a little 'Noddy" type vehicle that I once had the pleasure of being driven into the city in by Bob Styler of The Yamps many years back.  It will therefore come as no surprise to learn that brumbeat guitarist Ken Reeves had spent a short while as The Yamps bassist so must have been inspired by Mr Styler in his guitar choice.  

I really have very little to say about this guitar, in fact I have nothing to say about it at all. Ken Reeves blurted it out to me in an e mail that he'd owned one and I've been saving the story for a day like today, when it's raining outside, "you should know better Ken, fancy telling me that?" Although it's plastic crap, it was superior to the Hagstrom Futurama, Hagstrom's biggest disaster.  So looking on the positive side of things you could count yourself lucky Ken, wait a mo', you didn't trade in your sparkly plastic thing for a Hagstrom Futurama 2 did you mate?

Hagstrom looked to have borrowed the controls from old juke boxes for this 'thing'.  I will say that it is nostalgically 'cute' and probably the kind of thing that would be collected by a Japanese loft-boy.  

Once tuned, the Metropolitan car actually sounded better than the Goya and the Futurama 2, it used less plastic and it had one really big volume control mounted on the boot which, itself, surrounded the key hole for the car's clockwork motor.

Problem is you can't hang it on the wall unlike the Goya, which is probably where it should be consigned to for life.   In a small girl's bedroom.   I really can't imagine what it must feel like to meet some great guitarist one day and when he say's "And what guitar do you play".
Do you stay true to your conviction and say "Goya" whilst looking him in the eye and wait for the Guffaw of laughter closely followed by the line "Ah Piss Off, really, what guitar do you play?", or, do you sheepishly lie that you have a Les Paul or ancient Stratocaster?  I'm guessing the latter. 

It's September again so that means it's time for the National Drum Fair in Birmingham.  The fair will be held from 29 to 30 September 2012 at Cocks Moors Woods Leisure Centre, Alcester Road South, Kings Heath, Birmingham, B14 6ER .   So come on all you skin bashers get yourself down there and STOP ANNOYING THE NEIGHBOURS!!

Finally.......Bobs Facts: As a bonus this month I'm gonna include four facts that should help you at pub quizzes

Fact......All Chinese men named Dong have the same size penis.
Fact......The term 'Road Manager' comes from the Polish word Tekzzumzhit.
Fact......Garden Centres don't actually sell whole gardens to take away!! 
Fact......Jeff Lynne once bit the head off an ice cream, that's Rock and Roll
            ELO Style.

It's a crazy mixed up world.

Tara' a bit

Copyright: Bulls Head Bob