Saturday, 1 December 2018

Bulls Head Bob Dec2018. Happy Christmas

Hello Brummies

Christmas is upon us and the shopping is getting serious.  I've got all my gifts sorted out for those I love, Christmas cards written for those
I know and as a present to myself, I have decided to completely disregard those from my past that I used to know, from this day forward, you know, those who come to you for help when they need it but deaf you out when they don't.    So that's my early resolution and one that I am loving already.

Is that mean spirited given that we are in  the season of goodwill to men and all that stuff?, no of course not, you only have to please yourself and not throw yourself under the self inflated egos of others.   I shall be 70 years old tomorrow so think I deserve a little peace, tranquillity and happiness.   I am happy, playing music with a great band, doing lots of song writing and recording and I have genuine mates and the blessing of having Mrs Bob by my side so have no need of the devious ones in my life any longer.   That being said I wish them no harm so Happy Christmas to them too.

50 YEARS AGO The White Album
Lots of things happened 50 years ago in 1968 it was the hippy revolution, peace and love and stuff. It was also the year of the release of the Beatles White Album.   I heard this for the first time at John Pantneys, or Pank and he was known and like all things Beatles around that time I was in love with it from the first hearing and would play it over and over again. I was quite amazed at its rawness given the lushness and recording marvel that had been its predecessor, Sgt Pepper.   I play it a lot still.   The world had no knowledge of the inner turmoil of the Beatles at that time so just saw it as another Beatles marvel.  

It has been re-released as a 50th anniversary deluxe package.  Once again
George Martins son Giles has remixed it into a 5.1 surround sound package, goodness knows why?   I was horrified at his production of the "Beatles 1"
I threw it in the bin after the first hearing. 
Anyway this set comes with 3 Cd's, one of which is out-takes....done to death with the anthology releases already.  It costs between 22 and 25 pounds or you can get the even more deluxe version on vinyl for 165 quid!!!!

Just because you might be the son of someone who was instrumental in forging and encouraging the greatest band in living history doesn't mean that you have the Midas touch too.  For me the only way to listen to this fantastic collection of music is by buying it in its original mix so please, by all means buy Beatles music for gifts for those who may have never heard of them, who thought that day would come?   I wont be buying this.

Id like to wish John Woodhouse, Editor of Brumbeat a merry christmas, he will be under three feet of snow in Canada as we speak.   John has done an outstanding job of continuing the Brumbeat story of west midlands bands of the 60's for many years now.   With the massive rise in social media sites of Facebook and the like, everyone has the chance to open their own page on whatever they wish but John started when none of that was available and put in many hours of his time writing biographies of bands and also writing many interesting and varied articles on the times of the 60's.   Please take the time to support the site.
Every year I mention the Sally Anne.   This organisation is fantastic and does more than you know to help the homeless or any part of society that suffers whilst we, at home, get stuck into the luxuries of good food and presents for Christmas.  It is especially warming to hear Christmas carols played by a great SA brass band during the season and fills me with joy.   Please donate a little something, 50p would be a good starter so when you are sat down with your loved ones in the warmth and safety of your surroundings you can do so in the knowledge that at least someone will be benefitting from your act of generosity at the same time, in some kind of way.  The smallest donation can help.

I would like to wish a merry christmas to those readers who have helped or contributed in some way to the continued success of the blog.   There were so many bands about in the 60's that formed and broke up without ever playing a gig, there were many that played a few youth clubs and pubs and there were those who had greater successes nationally and internationally.   Every single person who was in a band at every level is a part of the story of Brumbeat and it is to you that I raise my glass to say "A Happy Christmas to you All", thanks for being in the story.

Take Care and be nice to each other.


Copyright: Bullsheadbob

Thursday, 1 November 2018


Watcha Brummies. assorted Mates, dedicated readers and of course Plooky, my Japanese "Loft Boy" friend.

It is mind boggling to read about some stores no longer stocking CD players and therefore, CD's and you can't buy a car with one installed nowadays. I am still firmly in that generation of enjoying having some "music in your hands".  Remembering the demise of the early thick and brittle shellac 78's played on a wind-up record player.  Hisses, crackles, clicks then.... Little Richard!! or Bill Haley or Elvis coming through some kind of speaker.  

youtube image.
If you dropped one on the floor it would shatter and wouldn't take too many plays before it was useless.  These were heavy things and oh how we cheered when Vinyl became available, 78's were being dumped en masse because we had the smaller 45 rpm single.  I recall watching Blue Peter as a child and seeing how to make an ashtray or fruit bowl from a 78 rpm record and for a period of time, every kids house would have one. When you would stub out your cigarette in your trendy 78 it would sometimes burn the shellac and smelled awful.

Of course that led to the 33 rpm Long Playing Record which anyone reading this would be familiar with and always made a good present for someone at Christmas time.  There was really nothing better than having a nice picture cover and then reading, on the reverse, the track list with "sleeve notes", whilst listening to the LP itself.    I had around 4000 lp's before I succumbed to the Cassette then CD convenience.  I still have around half that amount and enjoy a Vinyl day often.  What I discovered though is that making ashtrays and fruit bowls out of Vinyl is still happening all these years later.  It isn't anything I would recommend but here's a link if you're interested?   ASHTRAYS FROM VINYL

The real reason I liked digital technology was that it enabled musicians to record at home with good quality on a Portastudio machine that would sit on a
small table instead of a mixing desk that would have to fill a room along with a couple of tape machines being operated by someone you didn't know, it put the power of production at the fingertips of the songwriters and musicians.  You could be the master of everything you do, Independent Record labels sprung up at a massive rate, no longer did you have to be signed up, you could do it yourself and sell copies of the CD at gigs.   It was a liberating thing and I loved it.    You could now have as many tracks as you liked and work out multi instrumental, complicated arrangements.  Sheer bliss.  I recorded some nice memories when friends visited and we'd play something and record it together in an instant. 

Although now a lot smaller, you could still give someone a Cassette or CD for Christmas and they could still read the information whilst listening, so you got a lot for your money both as a visual treat and the pleasure of reading.   I was talking to one of the Bobettes the other day about buying gifts and I said "What about a CD for Christmas" she just burst out laughing "No-one buys CDs anymore Dad!" and gave me that kind of look that I am now "of an age".
It was my plan to buy one for her boyfriend who is a muso for a Christmas present so I said "So do we leave a space under the tree where his CD gift might have been then? a tangible object that he could have unwrapped excitedly, anticipating what may lie under the festive paper?  No, we wait for a Ping on his phone announcing the arrival of nothing! and we all know that the only person who wants nothing at Christmas would be the Dali Llama.

The whole personal element has gone out of gifting music any longer and that's a sad day folks. That being said I imagine that there will be music web pages and sites where you might be lucky enough to buy a piece of physical music and also at gigs, good hunting.  There is one benefit to the Ping generation and that is you cant make an ashtray out of nothing.

The portastudio as a stand alone entity was replaced with computer tech and Aerosmith actually recorded one of their albums on a lap top.  You can spend as much money as you like buying expensive recording software but If you wanted something a little less ambitious as a home guitarist though, here's a little bit of kit from VOX that can have you recording in a blink and its TINY.  Its called the Amplug I/O and is a small interface direct from your guitar jack plug socket to the computer or phone.  It has its own software and is a snip of a gift of music for around 35 to 40 pounds.  It is also a guitar tuner.

I bring these things to the notice of you lovely readers who maybe were in a group way back and not as advertising.   There will be those who may have thought that their ambition of making their own record was never achieved back in the day because of circumstances.  Those thoughts of "if we could have recorded that song, it would have been a hit for sure" can now be realised, you can now record it and satisfy that "if only" regret.

The whole beauty of making music is it's moment of creation by your own hand.  Those pipe dreams are only a step away these days, who cares if no one else hears it?, you can fulfil that ambition and catch YOUR moment for the price of a trip to a burger bar.  You may get the recording bug and want to go further, its a great hobby if nothing else.

Hoping to bring you some International Christmas fayre from the Brummies Abroad next month.   

Take Care Brothers and Sisters


Copyright Bullsheadbob

Monday, 1 October 2018

Bulls Head Bob Oct 2018. ROGER HILL CD - SORCERY LIVE! MINI Amplifiers. Chas Hodges RIP.

Watcha Brummies,

Summer is gone, rain and miserable cold on the way for us all but what a glorious summer we had.  The world is in turmoil again and it saddens me to think about it all so I've put on some music to listen to whilst I retreat here to the bloggery where I feel safe in my past memories.   Seeking solace from the thoughts of pounds shillings and pence, Wimpy Burgers, walking through Birmingham when there were proper shops not just high priced coffee franchises.  You know, things like that and now its Autumn I can get absorbed by things to get for Christmas, that will cheer me up.   

So this month I shall be giving you lovers of all things Brummie a couple of suggestions for gifts and here is the first, it's Brummie and it's the CD I am listening to right now!


In 2011 we sadly said goodbye to Roger Hill, one of the very first guitar players on the Birmingham Group scene from The Grasshoppers, The Brumbeats, Uglys and Exception.    I knew Roger throughout the sixties in his various guises and bands, he was a great guitarist who played with more of a jazz feel than all out rock, his style was quite individual on the scene and he was much respected for his musicality by all guitarists.  In the early days when there were no guitar books available, he was the guy to show me how to play a ninth chord, which up until that time had been a mystery of the universe in my three or four chord head.   The outstanding thing about Roger though was his humility and also his humanity when helping younger guitarists including me.   Such a nice guy.

After his Brumbeat days Roger spent a fair number of years as the guitarist for Chris Barber where he indulged himself in his love for playing jazz before once again getting a 3 piece band together and playing small venues in the city. 

He loved to perform live and I saw one of his last gigs at The Roadhouse and it was a brilliant show, in fact he recorded the show live and I got a copy of the recording he made that night plus a couple more CDs of other live shows he had done, including one with Charlie Gracie which I play occasionally. 

So I was very pleased to get an e mail a few months ago from John Benbow of SAM RECORDS UK, saying that he had
John Benbow.
been given copies of the same recordings from Rogers brothers son and was going to take them into a studio and clean them up a bit for release as a CD!

So now,  the hot news is that his work is complete and a new CD by THE ROGER HILL BAND. "SORCERY - LIVE"  is now available to buy from the SAM Records website.  John kindly sent me a promo of the CD to hear.

Now it isn't an easy chore to clean up a live performance for a CD release and still retain some the live atmosphere but a great job has been done with this CD, its crisp and light and will take some volume.  
The CD is an 11 track selection from those CDs of his live performances
I had given to me all those years ago and the choice of tracks is great, almost like a chronology of rock.   Rogers playing style and his liking of music with a jazz tinge is to the fore, intermingled with some classic blues lines.

A nice selection of standards here that I and probably every other guitarist on the scene in the early to mid sixties would have learnt or played as part of the set and that's what I like about this from a Brumbeat point of view, familiar tracks that you would have heard back in the day at any local gig.   Its nice too that Roger still played the old instrumental 3.30 Blues, not challenging at all but obviously stuck in his heart as one of those instrumentals he loved.  As an aside, it was this Instrumental that Ringo used to request The Beatles to play in Hamburg shortly before he joined the band.  The inclusion of "Brand New Cadillac" and "Evenin" please me muchly, on any night Roger would play them all slightly different.  Good track to finish with too, "Hey Joe", a a real crowd pleaser and perfect for a finale, not only to close a live performance but also this excellent CD.  He is ably supported by some great drummers and bassists of notoriety.

I'd like to say how grateful I am to John Benbow for taking this task on because, if not, you wouldn't have had the chance to hear Roger Hill doing his bit of live Sorcery....its there for history now and its available for yourself or to buy for a loved one at Christmas.   For more info or to make a purchase you can contact John at this link : SAM RECORDS UK .  The CD is only available to purchase at the website for now.

Brilliant  xmas present.

I have to say how pleased I am that we can now buy 'teeny weeny' amplifiers for home use that dont make you fall out with the neighbours and dont cost a fortune like those boutique type amps that techno freaks seem drawn to.  Mini Amp Ranges are now available at a differing price range so I thought I'd just show a couple of the cheaper models.  Cheaper doesn't always mean worse  particularly with the first mini amp I turn to,These are fun.

Nice binding and colour.
I like this, it has a really nice look to it and I particularly like the covering and white piping.  It has two 3 inch speakers handling 3 watts, it can be battery operated or you can purchase a transfomer.   The great thing is that it has a smartphone input so you can download backing track apps and tones and play along with an aux input too.
Around 60 pounds for this little beauty, I love it when a firm makes the effort to make something well.  Love it.  There are other models in the Laney range so shop around guys.

This is a little cheaper, around 50 quids, not as well equipped as the Laney, no telephone input, but what a cracker!  I love this.  2 x 2 inch speakers delivering an earth shattering ONE WATT.

These are perfect for when you buy a starter their first electric guitar or for keeping in your gig bag or if you are travelling on the road.  Perfect for the dressing room.  A perfect gift for your guitar playing needs.

Chas Hodges left the planet the other day after having been on the scene for nearly a MILLION YEARS, well thats about how long it felt.   I guess the majority of folk will think of him with Chas and Dave doing all the cockney rock sort of thing but he started for me when he was with The Outlaws and would go out on the road with people like Gene Vincent or any other artist who came through Joe Meeks way.  The Outlaws were the resident band at Joe Meeks Studio during those bizarre years, Ritchie Blackmore had been an Outlaw too!    You could see Chas Hodges every week backing someone else.   Multi talented,multi instrumentalist and songwriter.

HE WAS ONE OF THE FIRST and Im glad I heard him right from the beginning of my love of music and musicians, well not all musicians!.   He wrote one of the finest songs ever in "There Aint no Pleasing You" and he left his mark and his music on the planet and I will remember him fondly, thanks Mr Boogie Woogie.

Take Care you people!!


copyright Bullsheadbob

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