Saturday, 1 December 2012


Welcome Brummies, Brummies Abroad, Ladies, Gentlemen,Teenagers and even the odd Jock!  My Christmas thoughts also offer a warm embrace to my friends in 'fringe areas of sexuality' too so Hooray!!  It´s Christmas and I love you all

Buying the right present is always a daunting affair and especially
if it involves buying a musical instrument.  You´ve probably been hinting to the missus what you´d like in your stocking but just in case you hadn´t thought about what you´d like here´s a hint or two:

If you´re a Tele person this guitar is the one for you, it is the only gold guitar ever made and is yours for One Million of your British pounds.  I bet it´s a real nightmare removing fingerprints from the body, my mate Oggie would love to own it just for the sake of cleaning it.

If you find that the Goldcaster doesn´t fit into your household budget, you could always suggest having an ASTON MARTIN VANTAGE

It looks like a PRS but when you flip the guitar over you will be astounded to see it´s constructed of Carbon Fibre and will only set you back 6000 pounds.
I have no idea if it sounds good but it can go from 0 to 120 notes an hour
in 8 seconds.   I can't imagine anyone seriously wanting one of these. 

This is the 'other side' of the Good guitar coin.  Last month I featured guitars that could be found in the music shops of GB during the early 60´s.

There was however one glaring omission because I forgot to include one of the ugliest and worst of guitar brands that were available to us musicians, it was a very short lived company, the guitar make being,  FENTON WEIL.   This was a London based guitar manufacturer/importer who had earlier had a short partnership as Burns-Weil.  I think it fair to say that there are a couple of similarities in
the small bodied Burns sonic range.  

Anyway there was a short range of guitars and they were all horrible beyond belief, I don´t know how I forgot to include these guitars designed probably by Mr Magoo.

If you happened to have owned one of these horrors and wish to re-visit your nightmare
take a trip to
who have some fine pictures of most of the FENTON WEIL range on their lovely website which is always a pleasure to visit.

The headstock on this is bigger than the body. Oh what a dreadful thing it is.   I knew a bassist who used one of these - well he was bass player after all.   

There are probably some folk who are possibly drooling over the thought of owning one of these early guitars but, before you drool your life and your savings away, let me say this, ''There were only a few solid body guitars in the shops for us to choose from and even then the majority of us musicians with only half a brain, gave this make a sharp swerve''.

I was given a few books last Christmas including one that I thought I'd pass on to you.  Without fear of being proven wrong let me tell you that this is definitely the WORST book ever writtten.  It is absolutely dreadful, so if you were thinking of buying something for someone you don't particularly like, but HAVE to buy a present for them, then get them this:

You won't regret it - BUT they will!!

It wouldn´t be Christmas here on the blog without Oggies card but this year he said he wanted to avoid naked women and wanted something to show what Christmas in the Black Country is like.  So here´s a picture of Tipton at Christmas, they know how to throw a party there alright.

Well Brian Nicholls has done it again.  He just sent me a nice story and here it is, we all like a winner.

A musician named Dave Carroll recently had difficulty with United Airlines.

United apparently damaged Daves treasured Taylor guitar worth 2500 pounds
during a flight and Dave spent 9 months trying to get United to pay for damages caused by baggage handlers to his custom Taylor guitar.  During his final exchange with the United customer services manager, he stated that he was left with no choice other than to create a music video for YouTube exposing their lack of co-operation.   The Manager replied ''Good luck with that one pal''.

So he posted a retaliatory video on YouTube.  The video has since received over six million hits.  United Airlines contacted the musician and attempted settlement in exchange for pulling the video.  Naturally his response was
''Good luck with that one pal''.

Taylor guitars sent the musician 2 new custom Taylors in appreciation for the product recognition from the video that has led to a sharp increase in orders.

Here's the video and it just goes to show that a great song speaks volumes:

The planned Blue Plaque for Mothers at Erdington seems to have been put on the back burner for a while but I shall try and bring you any news that may be forthcoming soon.

Myself and the Boogie Band shall be gigging this weekend so I may bump into one or two of you.  The day after I´m going up to Manchester to spend the festive season with my beautiful daughter.    So it only leaves me to wish all you folks a Merry Christmas from myself, Mrs Bob and the Gang at the boozer and to say thanks to those who have helped contribute to this blog during the past 12 months and lastly of course a big thankyou to all the readers.   

Take Care

copyright: Bullsheadbob

Thursday, 1 November 2012


How Do!! Brummies and Music Fans,

Last month the popular music world lost one of it's greatest assets, someone whose skill graced a million songs and influenced and affected guitarists such as Richie Blackmore, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton and me!!   Thankfully, I was the only one to successfully avoid guitar glory....."Well done Bob" you say, "Think nothing of it mate" would be my reply, just in case you were thinking of commenting on that fact at a later date.

For the uninformed, there were simply brilliant guitarists around before Jimmy Page.............I am sick to the back teeth of reading that Jimmy Page played on this record or the other, or references to his 'Licks and phrases" which he got from all the blues greats and then I get even more pissed off because he never denies any of it.  Would it be too much to ask him to say "Actually that's not me", certainly in the case of solo's like the Kinks epic "You Really Got Me" which is Dave Davies for sure and which caused a real rift between the Kinks and young Page and his cohorts.   The fact is, the guitarist that you were more likely to have been impressed by on a lot of those records, thinking it was Page, would have been Big Jim Sullivan.   He was the real ace professional session guy and I'm not going to list all the records he appears on, I doubt if he ever knew the true quantity of sessions he did; suffice to say it was a massive catalogue and Jim was "BIG" not only physically but really was The Gaffer when it came to studio work.

He was the master of the guitar and gave tips and lessons to Mr Page and Richie Blackmore alike.  He was Tom Jones' guitarist for many, many years and you don't get a job like that if you're average!    My own preference of his session work would be the driving guitar solo on P J Proby's "Hold Me", this was the FIRST use of a Fuzz Box on record in the UK, not by Keith Richards on "Satisfaction" as is often claimed.  What a sad loss, I raise my glass to the King of the Session Guitarists BIG JIM SULLIVAN

Age Has it's Benefits
When it comes to a Smelly Bush!!
As you all know I'm a devotee of the soil.   My fingers have probed around many bushes in the past which have left their distinct aromas to remind me of where I've just been........I know a stinkwort from a fresh flowery hybrid alright!... it makes me think that, if I know bush aromas, so would anyone else my age and presumably with some of their own 'furtling' experience.   Well apparently older folks in Bedford are lacking in that area, or are they?

Recently the Bedfordshire Police knocked on an elderly couples door to ask why they were growing this smelly old bush:

Photo: bedford police
The Bedford Police said they'd never seen a Marijuana plant quite as large as this.   The elderly couple said they had innocently bought a cutting at a Car Boot sale and quite rightly planted it in a nice sheltered position on a South facing wall to catch all available sunlight, not forgetting of course to pinch out the growing tips when the plant had developed four sets of leaves, feeding it weekly with Nitrogen.  Naturally, they kept a large quantity of natural manure from the compost heap close at hand in a large planter, that's quite a wise decision for the older person, have your manure where you need it most, you don't want to be humping barrow loads of manure around all the time, it's not good for your back for a start.      

BOBS TIP.   From a gardeners point of view I would say that they gave it a little more Nitrogen feed than necessary, after all it only stimulates leaf growth which is all well and good in the early stages of a bush's life cycle.  However, a more caring and experienced gardener would definitely have eased up on heavy Nitrogen feeding and thought about replacing it with phosphate a little earlier, then they could have looked forward to far more healthy and abundant flowers, which can be cut and dried and arranged in a vase if you want to.   Our nephew Timothy seems to be fascinated by them and constantly takes snippings.   

After the discovery, the couple allegedly invited the Police indoors to have a "Nice cup of tea and a large Muffin" each, after which the Police emerged and pronounced that the couple had obviously made an innocent error in their purchase, in fact, they had all been laughing and laughing and laughing about the incident over tea; furthermore the constabulary congratulated them on their extensive Bob Marley and Willie Nelson record collection.  

The plant was rumoured to have been removed to the police allotment association for further investigation and the elderly couple were adjudged to have been unknowing victims.  No known photograph of the couple exists but I have it on good advice that this could be them: 

This photo might even be from that very car boot sale where this obviously innocent couple purchased their cutting.  

I have to say right now that they are not alone in this sort of experience at a car boot sale, me, Crazy Malc, Mick the Plumber, The Skiffle King and Nobber have all been innocent victims of buying a wrong cutting.  In Nobbers case he made a total of 132 bad purchases, "I thought I was buying Pansies, it was all just money going up in smoke" he slurred.   I'm pleased that the constabulary are treating this fad for selling illegal plants, by unscrupulous individuals to the elderly, with the maturity that these frail beings deserve. 

Now maybe it's because I was influenced by LP covers during the 60's, looking for hidden clues and messages in the photos, that made me return my gaze to the official Police plant photo further and I came up with a couple of observations that made me think that perhaps they weren't that innocent.  It looks like there is a small bong lying on the ground to the left of the bush and what is that little animal ornament I see lurking under the foliage??   An incinerator dustbin was wisely kept close to hand to destroy the evidence garden waste.  Protective netting had been positioned around the plant's front to presumably stop Mr Rizla, their pedigree Shitszu from "messing with the bush man'' after Rizla's earlier leaf eating experience when the dog was found to be tightrope walking on the washing line.  

There's no doubt that I could be wrong in my assumptions.  However, could it possibly be that the Bedfordshire Police hadn't watched the episode of "CSI Bedford" that dealt with obvious clues??    

Some people scoff at Feminists saying that they over-react at the slightest
provocation.   Nonsense I say!!  Feminists actually like some of the things men like, beards and moustaches for example.    I'd best mention though, from personal experience, don't cross the road when you see one coming towards you, you will only make them angry; just let them barge you aside and, as they pass, you might even hear that telltale static 'crackle' discharge of their leg hairs rubbing against each other.   Anyway I digress, all the world including Feminists love cuddly animals and Scottish Jigs and Reels to name but two because really you can't do all this jigging about without a woman to hand now can you? and Feminists are sometimes women too.

As an homage to the 'chicks', this music blog and my new book 'Feminism - Let's make it legal', here are a couple of LP covers from the Brumbeat period of time to remind them that I, 'Bob of Bullshead' am at one with the Sisters.  Let's start with a nice cuddly animal.

Well thats the lovely cuddly animal taken care of, now for the Jigging.

The Pirates!! The Pirates!!
They were the first of the best bands to come out of the Rock and Roll era and rip the dance halls apart with their electric stage performances.   Brian Gregg, all round good guy, incredible bassist for The Pirates and co writer of 'Shakin' All Over', Britains greatest rock song, is going to Pontins for a weekend next July and whilst he's there taking a paddle and scoffing rock, he's going to join up with Pirate's drummer, Clem Cattini and 'do a Pirates gig' at the Festival of Rock n' Roll.   This is a real opportunity to see this iconic British Bass player in concert with his other iconic mate.  More info will be forthcoming nearer the date.

Just in case you need to be reminded what a select and respected musician Brian is, here is a photo from a gig he did a few years back with Rod Argent,  Clem Cattini, British Rock n Roller Terry Dene and great but unfortunately late Big Jim Sullivan.  I'd have given my right arm to have played with this line up.
The original brown VOX AC30 was the amp everyone wanted to own when it made it's first appearance.   It had a beautiful clean sound and of course had 30 watts, and had VOX in gold on the front!!   There was a drawback though because when we all started playing harder rock music, it was definitely lacking in biting treble, the sound of the time.  We were on a mission to pierce the eardums of anything that passed our vicinity, I sort of regarded myself as a public menace.....luckily for me I had chosen the economically enforced route of a second hand Selmer Twin Selectortone that did have some bite to it, so could randomly frighten old grannies who dared pass my house and when arriving for 'Bookings' I would raise an eyebrow and sort of sneer at the toothless Brown tolex freak belonging to the guitarist in the other band.
But not for long........................

Boost Set!! Max of course.
I was recently chatting with the very nice Brian Nicholls, the Black Country's 60's music expert, about old kit and he said he'd had a 'Brownie' and remembered going into Ringway Music in Birmingham and discussing the problem with Pete Oliver.   "You should definitely buy a Dallas Rangemaster then" said Pete "It will lift your amp and give it the treble boost that you need".  Brian, like the rest of us were his advice slaves and accordingly purchased one and was very impressed by it's increase in 'bite'.
I bet he was secretly thinking "If I see that f****n Bob, I'll blow him away".

A couple of Varsity Rag 'gigs' later, Brian re-visited Ringway Music and said "Hey Pete, there seems to be a bit of a problem with that Rangemaster because everytime I use it on stage it picks up Taxi and Police radio broadcasts as they go past"......

"Oh, yeah" said Pete with that broad smile on his face "They always do that".....

kinda cute, great story and very Pete Oliver. Very early electrics......Brian, I'm sure we all have fond memories of our wonderful old friend still.   There was an 'audience bonus' for attendees at Varsity Rag gigs in that, if you had ordered a taxi to go home, you would know when it had arrived. 

FINALLY....News Snippets

Just heard that the Pope has named 7 Saints, I can't wait to hear his choice for the back 4, cause Southampton have always had a dodgy defence.

I have to say a public Thank You to former Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi simply for many times can he be Prime Minister and how many times can he be sentenced to Prison or thrown out of office for some alledged sexual misdemeanour before becoming Prime Minister again??   I'm a real fan Silvio, drop me a line from your latest prison stint, which I imagine is "Incarceration at a Villa of your choice", (for a week or so whilst the heat dies down, when you will be released for medical reasons).  Just in time to run for Prime Minister again!!! go Silvio. 

Rumour at the boozer is that there's a new Brummie supergroup being formed called 'Bev Bevan's Bev Bevan'.   As yet there is no clue of who is in the line up but Mick the Plumber thinks 'The Sabs' Bill Ward will be the drummer.    

Tara a bit......UTV

copyright: Bullsheadbob

Monday, 1 October 2012


Howdee doodee!

Well here's a sight for sore eyes.   Johnny Neal sent me this recent picture taken at Yardley Wood shopping centre with himself and ex Birmingham band manager and promoter, John Singer, who was on a flying visit to the UK from his home in Spain.  "It was the only place we could both get to for a quick coffee together" said Johnny.

John Singer was manager to both Johnny Neal and, co-incidentally, myself and I have to say that he looks to be in good health and really hasn't changed much, it must be all that frantic 'busying around' he does.  Johnny has always said he was the best manager he had.  John Singer certainly managed a lot of the best musicians in Birmingham for many a year as well as promoting the famous Birmingham Town Hall concerts, The Carlton and Mothers at Erdington, The Adelphi and other venues, he also promoted gigs at the shrine of Brumbeat music The Bulls Head on the Coventry Road.  He drove a variety of Jaguars, we musicians had a variety of bicycles.    It transpires that there will be a Mother's reunion later in the year and John, as a former Director of Carlton/Johns Ents will be an honoured guest.   I bet he didn't pay for Noga's coffee....

John Singer By Bob
When Bob met John
When I was somewhat younger, 15
I think, I was the guitarist for a reasonably good little R&B band and one day we went trawling around the agencies, as you did, saying "Hi" and hoping we'd arrived just as there was a need to fill some gig.

It was a great thing to pop in just as the agency needed someone because then you had a chance of getting some future work through them.  We all stomped up the many stairs of "The Munsters House", on Wake Green Road, entered the secretary's very small outer office, and through her open door saw John Singer at his desk in the "inner sanctum", he looked very dour and I got the impression from the way he looked at our appointed leader, Crazy Malc, resplendant in his  leather jacket and French beret pulled 'just below one eye" that he couldn't see a future for us at all!   It was at this very moment that Crazy Malc took it upon himself to say "Hello Mister Singer" and advanced into the inner sanctum with an outstretched hand, John Singer went berserk......."You can't just come in here, who the fuck are you???" " We're The Bollocky Bills of Bearwood"...."Fuck Off!! You can't see me without an appointment.......Now get out of here!!".

We all sort of stumbled rapidly out of the tiny outer office, in fact I don't think all the band members actually made it in to the outer office before we were ejected.    We all hovered about on the landing, whispering and sniggering but not daring to laugh out loud in case he heard us through the wall.   Just then, Crazy Malc took it upon himself to re-enter the outer office......."I just Fuckin' told you to get out of here!!" was heard at a decibel level equal to Conchord on re-heat!!

"Mister Singer", said our leader meekly, "Can I make an appointment to see you please??"..........."Fuck Off!!".

A couple of years later, when John was my manager I was working 7 nights a week, I reminded him of the 'office' incident and he said he remembered it and thought it was very funny.   I don't think he ever gave us a gig though. He said he thought we were far too risky which I always took as a bit of a compliment.    I'm glad to see he's looking fit and thanks Noga for sending this in and it's great to see you looking so good too mate.   One of the best voices to come out of Birmingham with one of the most important managers.  One for the scrapbooks.


There are two 'BRUMBEAT' LP's in existence and the first of those is on the DIAL label.  In essence all the groups on this LP were Ma Regan's groups and were lucky enough to be able to get themselves recorded, albeit for one track and the LP was marketed as the sound of Brumbeat.

The recording itself was done at Hollick and Taylor on a kind of 'shuttle' basis.
Right.... "Next"  plink plonk plink plonk.........."Next".............etc and it no way represents the Brumbeat sound at all, dreadful, lifeless low volume recording levels that were all too prevalent in those days and the choice of music was hardly what you would call exciting (The Lady is a Tramp for example).  It was a good showcase for those groups though, most of whom, were excellent live bands.  Those appearing on this LP are as follows:

1. The Senators - She's A Mod
2. The Crescendos - Gandy Dancer
3. The Shakes - Silvery Moon
4. The Sinners - Sleepwalk
5. Frankie Williams And The Highcards - The Lady Is A Tramp
6. The Fortunes - Cygnet Twitch
7. Mark Stuart And The Crestas - St. Louis Blues
8. The Grasshoppers - In Love
9. The Two Corvettes - Runaway Guitar
10. The Solitaires - Over You
11. The Congressmen - The Shuck
12. Roy Everett And The Climbers - I Believe
13. The Renegades - Hungarian Mod
14. Cal Denning And The Cimarrons - Pretend

The Renegades, in their US cavalry outfits, would go on to have great success in Finland.  Perhaps that was because, on closer inspection of this photo, one of them appears to be slightly ahead of his time and was going for the gay vote.

Anyway heres a brilliant photograph for you of all the bands on that LP together in a kind of "school Photo" shot.   I have taken the opportunity to enlarge different areas of the photo for closer inspection by you eager beavers and hope you find yourself or some of your old mates in their.   Many thanks to the honourable Daniel O'Gallagher of The Solitaires (4th left, front row) for this truly great picture.  I see your hair was still in 'swept back' mode then Danny.   Some nice vintage guitars there too.

The Gay Renegade

Get all the scruffy ones at the end and put Keith Smart with them!!


Well it was last year but only seems like last week that I announced the death of Flick Colby, the leader and choreographer of Pans People.   It comes as a real blow to see that Louise Clarke, founding member of the dance group, died at the end of August.

She was a stylish, vivacious, sassy and very sexy dancer.  I have no doubt that had she met me, she would have pursued me till I was all her's - I don't believe I would have put up much of a fight.  She was smokin'.

Ah, how time passes without you really noticing.

Take it easy, keep rockin' on and most of all keep in touch.
Great music isn't only for the young, if it's in your blood take every opportunity to reward yourself with the greatest pleasure ever....

Don't take the time to make excuses for why you can't play, it's not a kids game, just get yourself back to the reason why you started playing in the first place, the love of Live Music.  Well, all excepting my old mate Oggie who had more of a deluge of females in mind that I can't really fault.  He certainly cashed in.

OK that's about it for this month my old couch potatoes.   I'm off to watch Mrs Bob's 'Gymnastics for Youth Group'  good grief, I never knew you could squeeze so much into a leotard!!


copyright:  Bullsheadbob

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

Wednesday, 1 August 2012


Hi Brummies, Brummie Musicians and Brummies Abroad,

Dear Mr Mayor and Co,
On 27 June 11.30 a.m. a plaque commemorating one of the greatest Brumbeat gigs/dance halls, The Ritz, Kings Heath in Birmingham was unveiled.   I applaud anything that is done to preserve the history of those great places in Birmingham that we all loved to play at as musicians and, of course, it's significance to the millions who attended as members of the audience too. Throughout the 60's The Ritz along with other Birmingham and midlands dance halls were temples of live music, packed to the gills with swarms of girls dancing around piles of handbags. Maybe three of four bands on a Friday,Saturday or Sunday night played there and if you had any musical ambition at all, your objective was to appear on that stage.  Aspiring young musicians would huddle at the edge of the stage watching more experienced guitarists, making mental notes of chord changes or jotting them down in a note book like a train spotter.

I was quite excited when I first heard the news about the Ritz Plaque, thinking that the City Council would be honouring this hallowed Brumbeat venue.  It wasn't long though before I started to have my doubts after hearing about the "Walk of Fame" being associated with it.   

It was a fairly nice day weather-wise and a couple of hundred familiar, but older, Brummie musicians faces gathered around the former entrance to the Ritz and a quick look around showed that all but one or two were from members of the Brumbeat groups of the 60's plus a couple of UB40 members.   There they were addressed by a chain of shopkeepers and a man with a chain but not one of those speakers had a clue about how important this venue was to the assembled muso's.  Someone mentioned to me that it should have been those in the audience making the speeches.  It is a shame to think that the very same crowd of people who made that history at this venue and who took the time to come and remember have been all but forgotten and ignored by the City Council and organisers of this Plaque business.

Here was a unique opportunity for Birmingham City Council and the Kings Heath Planners to acknowledge the great Birmingham bands that played there and were heroes in the City.  Some of these bands packed out The Ritz and the other large venues in the Birmingham area week after week . The Councils answer though to their walk of fame is to put down pavement stars of the more famous acts that played there such as The Beatles and Stones.  That's all very well but where is their display of pride for the Birmingham music and musicians that appeared there?   They are either completely devoid of interest, have been badly advised or have a blinkered commercial view of what is important.   They only had to look at that assembled crowd to see who it was that important to but come to think of it, they wouldn't have a clue who the crowd were. It's tragic really that at other venues in the City these identical paving stones will be appearing like some kind of franchised fast-food chain anywhere there was a venue.  

Uninspired, uninformed and combined with a lack of respect or pride in the City's own musicians, this venture has left a gaping hole in the musical history of Birmingham with the Mayor leading the shabby parade of commercialism.  That local history is as important to Brummies of that era as that of the touring acts like The Beatles. I think that they have missed a great opportunity to highlight some of the greatest Brummie bands of the 60's, the music generation. They announced the first star on the Walk of Fame will be Toyah Wilcox - a huge talking point in the boozer after the event.  There's no reason why she shouldn't have a Star there but her start was at The Hare and Hounds not The Ritz.  The obvious choice for the First star on the walk of fame should have gone to The Modernaires rather than just a mention on the wall plaque as being the resident band. They weren't the greatest band in the world, they didn't have any chart success but they were the kings of The Ritz and played every style of music every week.  It is fitting to remember, from a social history aspect, that these places were dance halls, not places like today where you go just to watch a band perform.   The Modernaires, along with other great Brummie bands, supplied the music for the girls to dance to and at the end of the night provided the background music to a million Brummie romances formed at The Ritz.  

The Council couldn't have sought any specialist advice about this significant part of Birminghams' own music history because even a dope would have known how important it was to include those local acts, some of whom became members of much more internationally famous bands and whose early roots are sought out, by many, to visit. 

A whole string of homogeneous Walks of Fame is projected for the City,
It's already been used to entice even more people to the bars of Broad Street and now a cheaper version is heading for somewhere near you.  

Anyway Mr Mayor and Kings Heath, thanks for absolutely nothing.   What a wasted opportunity, I shall probably never Pawn my watch at Cash Converters again.


(If you missed the article about The Modernaires in The Sunday Mercury in April click here:

BRUMBEATS on Thank Your Lucky Stars 1964
Graham Ashford, Brummie abroad and ex-vocalist of The Brumbeats had informed me two or three months ago that he was now the sole survivor of that group.   You can imagine his surprise then to find that saxophonist Paul Carter is still alive and kicking!!   Not only that but Paul is still blowing his sax and is yet another Brummie abroad as he is based on the Cape in South Africa but also works in the UK for spells.   He probably didn't know that Johnny Neal also has a place on the Cape too!   Anyway Paul, welcome back to the land of the almost living!! 

Some of you who follow this blog will know that I bought for myself a Squier Telecaster Classic Vibe two years ago as a spare guitar.   The guitar itself is well constructed and is a joy to play because of it's nice neck and also it's pine body is really light. 

There is always a bit of a given thing with this type of budget guitar though and that is the electrics are generally inferior and mine was no exception to that rule.   On my recommendation, a friend, Mick the Plumber, bought the same model of Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster that I did and, unsurprisingly, suffered exactly the same sort of electrics problems as I experienced.   The pick up selector switch on mine stopped functioning correctly after a week or so and I was left with only the neck pick-up working, his lasted another couple of months before doing the same thing.  I am realistic though and really didn't expect too much from a cheap guitar so had the switch re-soldered which fixed the glitch.  It came as a disappointment to Mick though, who was on a tighter budget, to find that his guitar had stopped working after such a short time.  

He said to me that he was going to upgrade his guitar and buy a Gibson 335, he had seen advertised locally, as his first serious guitar, but at 1300 pounds he soon started to have second thoughts.  He liked the feel of his current guitar and was keen to retain the Tele sound but also liked the dirtier sound of a Gibson too.   After a couple of weeks of checking out other guitar models and getting nowhere fast, I suggested that he could simply update the electrics.  His face came over all scary looking, "You're joking" he said "I can't do soldering and stuff and it would cost a lot to have someone fit them for me".   I said why not get a set of DiMarzio Area Telecaster pick ups and control panel because it comes as a 'solderless' set at around 200 pounds.   A pretty pricey update? well for a guitar that cost about the same as the DiMarzios themselves to buy, not really, when you consider that to buy a standard USA Telecaster would still cost you more than the total cost of Squier Classic Vibe guitar plus DiMarzio update.   I said that I'd fit them for him and he duly ordered them from a guitar shop on-line.  

The fitting was pretty simple and the pick ups were installed in a trice.
However, the outside diameter size of the supplied guitar input is larger than the standard Fender input and unfortunately there was no 'input jack securing nut' included in this particular kit which meant we had to abandon listening to the guitar till the next day after cobbling something together.   I have to say how disappointing that was.   An e mail to the DiMarzio customer support got a reply the day after though and the missing part was in the mail straight away. So full marks to them for their excellent customer relations,
quite a rarity these days, ever tried to contact Fender??!!!

With the input jack nut mounted we plugged in and I have to say that immediately, the sound that came out of the amp was, quite frankly, mind blowing compared to how it sounded before.  The warmth of the neck pick-up, individually, made me smile. Not only was it immediately 300 per cent better than before, but I swear that the sound of the DiMarzios are far better than Fender Custom Shop pick ups.  Also a great plus was that there was no discernible pick up noise. 

The bridge pick up is amazingly good and ripped through the clean air creating a bluesy, dirty noise more associated with a Gibson.  This pick up is highly sensitive though and will require some fiddling about with height adjustment to get the perfect sound you want, dropping the height to mid-way up the bridge plate will give you a punchy and authentic Telecaster treble sound but the more you raise it the dirtier the sound becomes.   It was also delightful to now have a tone control that actually made some difference when rotated!!  Mick was sat beside me as I readjusted the bridge and intonation, beaming from ear to ear, and after having blasted away for a few minutes I felt a little reticent about handing over the guitar to him because for the first time it was delivering some real heat and I wanted to continue playing it myself.

Mick is now a very happy man but the problem is that I now want to do the same upgrade myself, I best start saving up my pennies. 

Small glitch apart, I strongly recommend the Di Marzio AREA Telecaster solderless pick-up set to anyone wanting to upgrade a cheaper model Telecaster.  They make the world of difference!!

Burton by Bob
Maybe they're going to start putting pavement stars outside Brummie peoples houses next? Blimey, that could cause problems, one that springs to mind is The Move's Trevor "Embarrassed to be a Brummie" Burton.  He used to live in a back to back house so perhaps they would have to insert a star up his passage?  That'd take the sneer off his face.

They could suspend Roy Wood's paving stone in mid-air at a level with his parents fourth storey flat and re-name the flats 'Plaqueberry Way'.

Enough of all this,

Copyright: Bulls Head Bob

Sunday, 1 July 2012


Hello You Guys,

Well, down at the boozer the air has been hot with indignation and bitter vitriol about the state of British music after what can only be described as a show where modern British music was disgraced in front of the whole world.

I don't think I really need to go on about the bollocks commonly known as the Eurovision Thong Contest.....a hall full of gay men in cowboy hats and luminous lycra. The usual "Boom Bang a Puppet on a String Box" gathering and E Humperdink was just the man for the job.  Normal embarrassing useless crap.

It became pretty evident that some of the Jubilee Concert was really the corporate arm of the 'X Factor' franchise, on a day out, which meant we had to suffer some poo, and didn't we just?  But wait a minute.....there were some great people on too weren't there?  Well everybody who was a star in the 60's was still a star of that concert and performed like the REAL performers they are.  But as for today's pop heroes?
It has to be said that Cheryl Cole (nee Tweedy) was in a class of her own for this concert and in some ways it was her re-launch onto the world scene, having been dumped by the Americans a year ago, so she had something to prove.  Her publicity machine had conveniently brushed aside the recent controversy about her miming when appearing on the hit TV Show, 'The Voice", which is a show for singers apparently?

Some people said "She can't sing" and you know what, they're absolutely spot on!! but surely, she must be more than just a pretty little geordie ...... hang on, she was definitely taller than the Queen!!....that's something?

It's a good job the Queen didn't ask her about her dress either, a calculated publicity grabbing headline would surely have filled the Daily Rags to say she was wearing a dress designed by EWA MINGE...
I thought that was a Saturday night game for consenting adults and as for little Gary Barlow, now this might be a tad critical but "Gary I'd get another tailor" - I mean he must have been pissed out of his head when he went for a fitting cos his jacket had to be held together with a chain!! It didn't even cover his stomach, he was probably thinking "Well I'll slim down into it" and didn't quite make it.

Anyway, when Cheryl Cole (nee Tweedy's) duet with Gary started, she opened her mouth, and out came the sort of discordant noise that I have only heard once before from a sick Himalayan Yak, I was moved to comment to Mrs Bob that it could be another one of those Bananarama 'harmonies' but was proved wrong as she continued her 'avoidance of melody' technique.  She wasn't a million miles away from the Bananas but was definitely worse than the sick Yak.  

My mate Crazy Malc said he'd tried to emulate her sound but had run out of cats to strangle.

Gary Barlow's face was magic, there was this fleeting moment of horror as he heard those first notes. He looked in her direction, (probably expecting to see a Yak?) and I bet he was thinking "What the ****?, I was hoping for a Knighthood for this?".  Sir Gazza of Boybandland.

I could clearly hear the sound techie, who by the way was shit all through the concert, piling on the effects board to try and salvage what could only be described as a vocal Kamikaze dive into a sea of useless crap.  As I watched this dire performance I was reminded of the mantra given to me by my old Indian cave-dwelling guru - "You can't polish a turd".

This is the face of music in our times my friends, concocted, orchestrated, publicity machine and AUTOTUNE.  It was the only time I can think of being envious of the deaf, she probably sounded OK on sub titles.  Her manager, Will-i-am came to her rescue though with a host of flatties himself during his performance and then pathetically struggling to sing with the incredible Stevie Wonder.

I take no pleasure in saying that the country's identity for musical greatness was saved by the artists from the 60's - Shirley Bassey (85), Tom Jones (73)...yes siree!, Elton John (a girl doesn't give her age away) and Macca (70) as the high quality talent, Macca's and Elton's croaky voice apart, they were all really amazing.....go Shirl' what a gob.  I would bet money that the bewildering choice of "Ob-La-Di" as Macca's set closer was because it was the only song the Queen knew as she thought it was about posh people swearing- unsurprisingly, the VIP box was rockin along to that piece of throw away pap, except for the Queen herself who wore ear plugs throughout the concert - "Is it over yet?, right then, Mmmm, particularly loved the Yak impersonation, how novel, time for tea and Knighthoods" - "Not you Barlow!". 

On Monday, following this embarrassing show the headlines in the papers were "Cheryl Shoots to her Third No 1" - well there you go.  What was that song again "There's a sucker, born every minute......"  Gary got an OBE.

It didn't go un-noticed by us that there were no Brummies on the bill and only the other day I heard Duran Duran on the radio saying "We've been let down" "We had been waiting for the call to pack the things into the van".   It's even been said that the Black Country's own, The Strollers, were actually thinking of reforming specially for the Queen.  "The Strollers?" you ask in open mouthed amazement? yes, even them.  
Click here - The STROLLERS.  

At her last Jubilee gig The Queen had Black Sabbath (well not literally!!!) but it's rumoured that she's a bit pissed off with Prince Philip who keeps going on about the, "Is Bill Ward going to drum for Sabbath again?" controversy, so she didn't have them back.  He walked past me one day and I swear he was humming War Pig. 
We at the pub have written into our code of conduct that there will never be a mention of Cheryl Cole (nee Tweedy), Simon Cowell, X Factor, Dancing shows, in any form whatsoever, and none of those girl groups who know Simon Cowell or, their parents. 

Those points of order having been agreed, we adjourned to the Snug to bemoan the fate of our football clubs, the state of the economy, the state of the world, brutal war and religion.   The Skiffle King told me that he had been chatting to his offspring, Rossington Hoyer, (named after his first guitar) about the dreadful state of this planet and said "Well cheer up, Rossington I've heard a rumour that Jesus is returning anytime soon".  

Rossington replied "What, to pick up his things?"   Kinda sums things up I think??  

Right then, back in the days of the 60's there were only a couple of girl singers worth a mention in Birmingham and one of then was the great Tanya Day.  
Tanya was the only girl in the Reg Calvert stable of would be popsters and had a very sexy act for the times, she was very 'ballsy' and was a raucous and energetic live performer.  She would appear on stage wrapped in a towel and a pair of high heels gyrating her way through her set. "Hello Boys".
Being one of Reg's stable she toured extensively in the UK and also appeared at The Star Club along with The Beatles.   Whilst there she was approached to make a single, a cover of The Shirelles bizarrely titled "His Lips Get in the Way" where she was backed by the Nu Notes which included one Richie Blackmore during his session guitarist days.  I've read somewhere that the Nu Notes played on both sides but...........  

A couple of years back I had an hour's telephone conversation with Tanya and she said that when she had been offered the recording deal for "His Lips.." she told her backing group 'The Somebodys' that she would be recording a single but with  session men as her backing group.  She said their response was "Oh you can't do that Tanya you'll get ripped off, it won't be good for your image etc etc...", she then said to them "And they want you to back me for the B side ,"I Get So Lonely", at which point they all thought it was a great idea!!.

Well 'His Lips Get in the Way' did nothing for her chart-wise but at least "Recording Star" would adorn the Dance Hall posters and she would get a bit more dough.  Tanya and The Somebodys gained some rather unwelcome notoriety for that 'B' side, "I Get so Lonely".  It was positioned at No 10 in the list of the Top 30 worlds worst records by Kenny Everett.   I haven't heard it myself but have to say that I've never heard a good 'A' side recording made in Germany from back then let alone a 'B' side that they would have been given 10 minutes to knock off. 
I would have liked to have done more of an in-depth article about her and indeed Tanya had agreed to do an interview but unfortunately I never heard from her again.  She and her husband Paul run a Hotel in Brum these days. 

Phil Savage in Action with Frosty Moses (copyright Frosty Moses)
A sad farewell to the great Phil Savage, former vocalist of the very promising Frosty Moses who were tipped for bigger things only to have the rug firmly pulled from beneath their feet by an unscrupulous financier.   Phil sadly passed away recently following a year long fight against cancer.   My sincere condolences go to Phil's family and friends.  This brilliant photograph shows
Phil in his finest hour, pure energy.   I know he will be missed by everyone.

OLYMPICS UPDATE!!! Lord Snooty and his pals have shown support for the 80 British unsigned bands and various other musical invitees who are playing at the games by NOT Paying them anything.   I bet they discover that they will have to pay their own electricity and admin bill at the end of it.   Why are musicians are treated so badly by this and every other Goverment? 

Buy a gun and run for the hills!!  The Stratocaster Kid, Tony Blair says he wants to be Prime Minister again.....

Until next time our cyber paths cross,

copyright: Bulls Head Bob