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

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