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 I am a member of TOKO and last week, to my surprise discovered that this rule hadn't been superseded.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

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

BULLS HEAD BOB MARCH 2017. SPAGHETTI SPECIAL - MARINUCCI, GALANTI. EKO. BINSON ECOLETTE PA

Hello Maties, Muso's, blueso's, boozers and cruisers, Brummies, Brumettes and my overseas mates in Japan and Australia.

Its been some time since I featured a range of early guitars from the 60's so without further ado lets talk Italian.

MARINUCCI
During my plukey youth I would glue myself to guitar shop windows and be amazed at the bizarre shaped solid body guitars hanging on the wall, not only were they generally ugly as shit or looked as though they had been built from spare radio parts, even those ugly ducklings were few and far between. That would soon all change.   


However, twixt and between those weird guitars there were some guitars fabricated in Italy which at least had some nice style to them, as only the Italians could do and one of those incredibly rare brands was MARINUCCI.   Marinucci had been a music factory producing accordians since the 1920's but changed to making guitars during the 1950's and the upcoming guitar boom of Rock n Roll and Skiffle.

I remember seeing this guitar and saying to my pal that it looked like someone had taken a bite out of the body.  The model was the Gemelli 224 and came with either 2 or four pickups the four pick-up job being named the 224-4.

Italian styling made this different and especially the rather attractive scratch plate with more than a nod at art deco design. The stripey part resembling piano keys or of course accordions from where the instruments originated.

The controls were inset into the upper part giving pick-up selection and a couple of volume controls.




Gorgeous scratch plate, the badge was the the crest of the town where these were built.   This is a beautiful guitar I don't even care what it sounds like to be honest 

During the early 60's MARINUCCI sold the factory to EKO so if you are lucky enough to have a MARINUCCI badged model it is very collectible.

GALANTI


Another Italian designed guitar and also manufactured by another company that had previously made accordions.

This guitar is reported as being the best sounding guitar of its day and was quite potent.  It didn't have lumps chomped out of it either.   Like most of the Italian guitars it had a tremolo arm centred on the tailpiece.  It's looks are more "Atomic Age".  Quite a nice headstock, a bit Fender Jaguar-ish

Like Marinucci they were soon swallowed up by EKO who then fabricated all guitars with different badges for UK traders or for Department store "own brand".
This guitars neck gave access to the uppermost fret.

It has a kind of styling that today one might associate with heavy metal Jackson type guitars but the Albert Lee HH guitar has practically the same body style.

EKO
EKO were amongst the big names of guitar production in the early days and they bought out smaller Italian guitar makers by the handful whose styles and designs were incorporated into the Eko brand and one of those carrying on the "Bite mark" is one I haven't featured before on the blog and that was this very pretty EKO Melody triplecut.   

Being Italian though they had to move the bite to another part of the guitar? anyway, 4 pick ups, a shed load of Atomic Age rocker switches and two rotary controls.   Inlaid neck and black headstock, it's all very attractive in comparison to the Czech built rivals that were about.  

EKO 400-2/4

This was probably their finest moment, design wise.  This is a thing of spartan beauty and was available as a two and four pick up variant.  Style was certainly more of a consideration than practical use by the Italians with their habitual placing of the controls in front of the strings was not really well thought out in terms of practicability running the risk of changing your settings every time you started strumming.

The internet is full of sites where you can get a good look at the whole range of EKO guitars, the best probably being Vintage Guitars so look them up and drool over some lovely old examples of early guitars.

PRACTICAL COLLECTIBLES?
Emotion and guitar snobbery aside there is something to be said about collecting Italian guitars.  They are readily available and you stand a good chance of being able to pick a great condition, genuine 60's guitar, for less than the price of a new brand name guitar but now with a good potential for a profit a couple of years down the line whilst still being able to enjoy owning something so nice.    Whereas, the brand new guitar you may have just bought has already lost a third of its value as you walked out of the guitar shop door.

It isn't comparable to a Gibson or Fender for in terms of tonal quality, although with top end names being fabricated in Korea and China their quality is an issue these days.  It is worth a thought.  It's fun tracking guitars down on the internet, certainly mare fun than tracing your ancestry!!

BINSON ECOLETTE
If you have one of the above guitars it would for sure sound remarkable through a Binson echo for that old rock sound.  Made in Milan from 1961 onwards, Binson was THE echo chamber to have and was Hank Marvins choice and later David Gilmour.  Meazzi also featured as another Italian echo chamber of note.

I recently came across this though which is probably the creme de la creme of Italian amplification:
ECHOLETTE PA
  


This fantastic bit of kit is an Ecolette four input amplifier with an ecolette echo chamber built in, its so nice I can imagine a real nice surf sound through this baby.

The Americans and Japanese didn't have it all their own way.  I love Italian kit and am considering an investment myself in the not too distant future.  Get looking and grab yourself a piece of history for a few pounds.

Take Care
Bob

Copyright Bullsheadbob
Contact:  Bobsbullocks @gmail.com







Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Bulls Head Bob Feb 2017 - MIKE KELLIE, PETE OVEREND WATTS RIP. BRIAN MATHEWS SOUND OF THE 60'S.

Hello you Musos, Brummies and chummies,

Well here we are in February, freezing our nuts off and all feeling depressed after the Winter celebrations.   Towards the end of last year we saw a cluster of deaths in the music field, it was almost like a flurry of grief that blew in but found itself eclipsed by other events.   I thought all that was behind me for a while but it came as a real shock then to hear of the passing of Spooky Tooth drummer Mike Kellie in January.

Mike Kellie Left (standing). Luther Grosvenor Right.
Mike was a lovely man, and I really mean that, a lovely guy.  I can almost picture myself meeting up with him at The Elbow Room back in the day as the bands would cruise back into town after gigging somewhere to have a beer and talk about music.

Mike's music pedigree is fantastic and the coolest of the cool dudes would search him out to give their music some nice rythmns.  

I know for sure that there will be many Brummie tears shed for this guy.

Why not visit the Mike Kellie website by clicking below.
MIKE KELLY

We also said goodbye to:
PETE OVEREND-WATTS
A couple of days after I heard about Mike another musicians death was reported.  Bassist for Mott the Hoople, Pete Overend Watts died of cancer. Although regarded as a London band, Watts was born in Yardley then moved out into the Herefordshire area before moving to 'the smoke' and making it after David Bowie gave 'All the young Dudes' to them to record.

Overend Watts second from right.
The rest was history as they say.  Shortly after this Guitarist Mick Ralphs left Hoople to form Bad Company with Paul Rogers.  Luther Grosvenor, guitarist for Spooky Tooth, pictured on the Spooky Two LP cover with Mike Kellie joined Mott so I guess there was some old connectivity there.

BRIAN MATTHEW
SOUNDS OF THE 60'S
I'm sure that, like me you have tuned into Radio 2's Sounds of the Sixties with legendary presenter Brian Mathews.   Brian has presented this show for the past 26 years and I have enjoyed hearing some old rarities on the show from time to time, even my own!  The great thing about the programme is that it answers the call to the many listeners who requested significant tracks from the 60's alongside those rarer recordings that had been made by regional British bands.   
Brian had been the host on  ATV's Thank Your Lucky Stars which was one of the first TV shows dedicated to youth music and was the voice of Saturday Morning Saturday Club on the Radio which was the radio show that ALL teenagers of the day listened to and where we were treated to bands playing live sessions in the studio, it was the best show on the Radio.

Well Brian has decided at 88 years old he has had enough of this malarkey and is stepping down from broadcasting, although a little bit of ill health has been the prime mover I'm sure.   

He has done a stirling job for British music of the 60's and I would like to thank him for his dedication.

FINALLY
I wish there was a bit more riveting news to throw your way but there's not a lot of anything going on, to go on about.   However it is the month for lovers so give her indoors a nice present, you might actually get one back yourself, although in my case that's never been the case.  Am I disappointed? am I bollocks!  Why should I expect something..."You're so difficult to buy for" is the excuse that us blokes have heard a million times, or perhaps it's just me? 

My mate bought his wife a really nice gift for Christmas, I remember him going on about it in the pub and "How chuffed and surprised she'll be when she opens the box".
That isn't always the case my friend.   This advert appeared two weeks after Christmas.

HOW CAN YOU NOT LOVE THIS FACE?


This is lulu, she is an 8 week old labrador

I bought Lulu as a surprise for my wife but it turns out she doesn't like dogs and is allergic to them.

We are now looking to find her a new home.

She is 64 years old, an attractive and caring woman who drives, is a great cook and keeps a clean house.

That's it from me maties, see you next month and hopefully with some news that is a little more 'warming'.

Love the one your with.

Bob

Copyright Bullsheadbob
Contact:  Bobsbullocks@Gmail.com





Sunday, 1 January 2017

Bulls Head Bob. Jan 2017. The BULLS HEAD BOB 10th Year Limited Edition Anniversary Special.

Hello Brummies, Muso's, Brummies Abroad, The Brummettes Foundation for the Preservation of the Bigger Girl and all aquaintances. including you Plooki!

Well I'm flippin' flabbergasted at the amount of people who died during December, some real icons that had been a part of all our lives musically or artistically and in particularl, I was choked to hear the news that Henry Heimlich had died. (exit stage left).

There's a line in the media and politics about certain times "Being a good day to bury things", normally in relation to bad announcements, tax rises, pension cuts and the like.   I'm sure that some of that bad news was quietly slipped in behind the various masks of tragedy and we will, no doubt, be paying for it sooner or later. 

Mrs Bob and I, without any of the Bobettes had a lovely warm and cosy Christmas and it was sublime and I thank you for your Christmas messages too so, on with the motley!!

At this juncture I should say that for reasons beyond my control certain passages of this blog have decided to appear in differing colours! 

THE BEST OF BOB - 
THE FIRST TEN YEARS ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL.  
I don't believe that even Old Moores Almanac could have predicted that I would still be doing this blog after 10 years but its a fact...I'm now officially an anniversarial statistic.  Ten years of talking bollocks, bringing the news about anything to do with that time frame of the musical innards of Birmingham and it's environs during the most active and exciting music times of the century, the 60's.   The greatest days of art, fashion, literature and live music ever!!  

When I turned up for my first day at Brumbeat Towers, John Woodhouse allocated me a small cupboard space in the far corner of his palacial office and said "Bob, say what you like but don't upset anyone" followed by "There'll be no 'goings-on', going on or off, not on or off my watch!".   I forgave him his poor 
grammar and got stuck in.

Now it may not have gone un-noticed that I don't say much about Carl Wayne and The Vikings, The Move or ELO and thats because every fibre of their story is well covered by the ELO fraternity.    It did however, give me a chance to highlight some of the lesser known but still great bands that careered around the West Midlands in their vans night after night and doing that has been a real pleasure.  Many of those bands deserved greater fame than they got and if not for a twist of fate here or a touch of bad luck there, they would have 'made it' plus of course, if you were'nt in London your chances were slim.  Music is a tough business to be in no matter what era.  

Anyway in the time honoured tradition of anniversarial bodies I thought it appropriate to reminisce a little and re-visit a couple or three of my favourite blogs in no particular order, because they were just fun to write.  Click on the title links:

1.  HAS A MIRACLE HAPPENED?

2.  JUBILEE CONCERT 2012

3.  THE BASS PLAYER SPECIAL

4.  POP GEAR VANS OF THE 60's

ICONS IN THE HISTORY OF ROCK N ROLL.
I had the great pleasure of interviewing two icons of British Rock history, namely Alex Wharton and Brian Gregg about the recording of two of the best British recordings of the early days which, even now, stand the test of time, both of them raw and soulful in their own way.  Alex for his tenacious production of one of the best Brummie R&B Bands of the day, the awesome Moody Blues with their massive hit 'Go Now' and Brian for his part in the writing and recording of Shakin All Over.  Both of these  'In the Snug'interviews are available to read by clicking below:
In the Snug Interviews.
It is pertinent to note that both of these brilliant guys were among the first founding fathers of the British Rock scene and both emanated from the legendary 2i's coffee bar in Soho London.

Alex along with Mickie Most were known as The Most Brothers and Brian Gregg with Les Hobeaux and later the first power trio band Johnny Kidd and the Pirates. 

Guys like this were my inspiration at the birth of rock and roll.  It all started there and I was a goggle eyed disciple. It may have been musically simplistic but any kid with a cheap guitar could stand in front of a mirror and become their 6.5 Special heroes, or at least try.   



Les Hobeaux with Brian rear left.

I thank them both from the bottom of my heart for being so accommodating.

One of the best things about writing the blog has been that I have managed to reconnect some people with each other who started off as young lads playing together in groups that emerged from the introduction of the electric guitar, which started the age later to be called Brumbeat.  They were the happiest days of my young life and of many others too.  I'm equally pleased to say that I am still in contact with those who I forged my early musical alliances with and played all those fantastic gig's during our heady Group days.  Driving from Birmingham through thick smog and driving snow to get to some Black country gig was all part of that journey we went through, in all manner of vans and buses, no heaters, probably no windscreen wipers, doors that fell off, engines dropping out, dodgy managers.

I'm happy to say I'm still playing and enjoying the fruits of my musical labours over the many years

I don't know how much longer I can carry on trawling through stuff to write on a monthly basis but am glad I started it.

Many thanks to John Woodhouse and all you guys who have contacted me over the past 10 years.

Have a brilliant 2017 and don't make resolutions you can't keep.

Bob

Copyright:  Bullsheadbob
contact:  Bobsbullocks@Gmail.com