The Folk: an Edinburgh-based collective who gather to play and record music.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Hairy Banjo Player
I thought that this banjo pop lark had been done before. The Hollies, Stop Stop Stop recorded in front of what I can only assume were a strongly sedated ageing BBC audience - look at them happily clapping away instead of tutting the group for the length of their hair. Prior to seeing clips of this I always assumed that the lead on this song used a freaky guitar sound. Instead it's a freaky sounding banjo. It has a eastern feel to it. A great pop song about a man obsessed by a lap dancer. It happens I have heard. This week the Folk have been, in no particular order, breathing, eating, drinking, shitting and pissing. I may archive this blog and set up my own one on the off chance that anyone reads this pish. Basically the Folk are no more. It was fun while it lasted.
Well not really, but I am not well disposed towards their HR people tapping away on their keyboards and asking inane but psychometrically relevant questions. They killed a dream of driving trains that I have harboured for oh, what must be well over a week after seeing a recruitment ad offering 32k year.
Still, when it comes to songs about trains this is one of my favourites. Edinburgh based Swamptrash toured the North of Scotland in the 80s and were a tremendous live act. So much so my mate and I drove up to Dingwall to see them once. Before the gig they were milling around and I got talking to Harry Horse. A very nice guy who seemed to be genuinely surprised that we made such an effort to see them. When on stage he was in Billy Joe mode with the fake American drawl. He dedicated a song (Foggy Mountain Breakdown) to my mate Brian and I, thanking us for our efforts. It was a great gig. An old church with a sizable crowd of over two hundred. Much manic dancing was done. The next I came across Harry Horse was one of his cartoons that appeared in an Economics textbook at University. That was what he moved on to - a cartoonist for the Scottish broadsheets amongst many other related pursuits. I had been searching for this TV appearance (from BBC Scotlands 1987 one series wonder FSD) on You Tube for a while. Unfortunately I only found it earlier this year after hearing of his death. He killed himself in a suicide pact with his wife (she was 39 and deteriorating with MS).The guy only made a fleeting 15 minute appearance in my life, but the decency shown towards a 17 year old teuchter music fanatic over 20 years ago seems to tie in with the jist of the heartfelt tributes from his friends that filled the pages on the Sunday after his death. Very sad. Like on this T.V. clip, they always started off with Reubens Train - a reworking of the Holy Modal Rounders tune of the same name. A statement of intent that filled the floor early on.
Not only was the late Les Gray someone who went out of his way to build the confidence of ladies with feline feet, he was a public spirited chap who helped to teach kids in the 70s how to cross the road safely.
His indignation is evident at first. He quickly gets over the anger caused by the reckless attempt at crossing the road he has just witnessed and proceeds to deliver his message. Alvin Stardust was similarly serious about his Green Cross Code. He chose a stern face and some serious pointing.
This however was in the Seventies in the days before Paedophiles were invented. There was only "funny mannys" back then. Sadly such selfless road safety work would not wash these days. With Les Gray looking like a bizarre mating experiment between Showaddywaddy and a Northern Club comic, coupled with Alvin looking like a half arsed S & M version of Engelbert Humperdink, it just wouldn't work. With the sight of these two wandering the streets, kids nowadays would be safely strapped in the back of the 4 by 4s before their parents could say "media frenzy fuelled paranoia". Shame really as I am sure Les and Alvin were perfectly nice straight up guys. Indeed, Alvin made the front pages of my local paper in seventies with his frequent trips up to stables 5 minutes from my house to go pony trekking. Despite all his pointing, scowling and attempts at looking hard, these were not big horses. No, it was the kind of pony trekking that girls in my primary class went on. Kids were safe in the seventies with Alvin and Les. Gary Glitter on the other hand.....
At the same time in the pre punk Seventies, Britain was escaping to the otherwordliness of Glam rock. In the U.S. long hair, beards and mellowness were de riguer in California. There was of course the bubbling undercurrent started by the likes of the MC5 and the Stooges that was getting picked up by the formative Ramones. Mainstream however was long hair and escapism. An undercurrent was picking up in the UK in the shape of pub rock. At the forefront were Dr Feelgood. A couple of songs here from 1975 : All Through the City and Roxette. The context is set perfectly by the slightly effeminate presenter in the powder blue jump suit talking about stotty cake and apparently modelling himself on Jimmy Savile. The picture of Rick Wakeman in the background adds to the period piece feel about the setting. The footage is a bit grainy, so it's hard to appreciate the intense performance from the brilliant short haired black clad guitarist Wilko Johnson. Singer Lee Brilleaux (apparently a bit of a nasty bastard)looking like he is on the verge of violence tops it off. Short, energetic, a bit skuzzy and to the point. No escapism, only perhaps, a more honest representation of what a shithole, on the verge of economic and social breakdown, that the UK was at the time. Don't believe the nostalgia. What does it matter, the songs and the performance still stand up in the much more comfortable present.
That's Right That's Right That's Right That's Right More Shit Songs About Tigers
"I really love your Tiger Feet" ? What ? Are Tigers renowned dancers or was Les Gray's girlfriend just hideously deformed.
Mind you, quality dancing by the guys at the side. What did the choreographers say ? "Right Lads, pretend you are wanking off a pair of giraffes" As for the other part of the routine with the hands on the hips - I once saw footage about twenty years ago of some bikers in the 70s doing the same dance to Roadrunner by Jonathan Richman. Will maybe debut that at the Go Go sometime if a willing accomplice can be found.
Le Tigre are alright though. I like this song.
Did he who make the Lulu make thee ? (apologies to Wullie Blake).
No you're not. You are in fact an annoying Bee Gee shagging weegie with an annoying anglicised accent. Rarr rarr rarr. Although, when I did see a tiger in India, like many of our friends in the West of Scotland, it looked like it had nailed quite a few vallies. It was about as ferocious looking as Bagpuss.
This on the other hand is a much better song about a tiger. Well, it's not one of their best but it's better than Lulu.
We played Tigerfest in Edinburgh last month. It was okay.
What have we been up to ? Not much on the Folk front since the gig in August. A lot of that has to do with me spending about two months out of the country in the latter half of the year. LJR has also been busy with Red Button. Hoping to amend that now. Have a couple of rehearsals lined up and maybe a gig before the end of January. The Gadgee has played a couple of sets here and there - see his blog - and has many new songs on the go. Hopefully the recording can get nailed soon too. The only consolation is that we all have fairly active lives getting in the way of stuff. Since I last posted there is now a version of Tradesman's Love Song up on myspace. hopefully more to come.
Have dug up this Shocking Blue video of Send me a Postcard from 1968. Well it is not actually for that song. Somebody has just pasted the song on top of the video for their more well known hit Venus. The excuse ? Well can't remember where I heard but singer Mariska Veres died the other week. RIP.
The next public outing of the Folk takes place on Saturday 9th September at Pop Theory, Cafe Royal Edinburgh. Also playing are the excellent Lucky Luke . LJR and the Gadgee, with the help of Verity from Delta Mainline have been moving the recordings forward - enhanced versions of The Fable and People Steal Things available on myspace.
Over twenty years ago I was a completist for the first and only time in my life with regards the vinyl output of The Fun Boy Three. Their last single, a version of the Go Gos single Our Lips are Sealed that Terry Hall had co written with Jane Weidlin a couple of years before offered a remix on the B side. At the time I found this to be a rip off. Not really getting the point of making tunes a bit more dance friendly, and not speaking a word of Urdu, I assumed they were taking the piss. I listened to it a couple of times and that was it. Upon chancing upon it a few days ago (some person who I am grateful to, has just stuck the Urdu remix over the original video on Youtube) I now realise that they were ahead of their time in some small way. What I didn't appreciate then, I do now. It sounds quite fresh really. So much so, that upon my return to the UK I will be digging out the extended 12 inch remix...