See The Heights!

I had heard about the infamous Glasgow Apollo stage and its height. Some people had accused others of making the stage sound higher than it was. I had always been intrigued to see it and get some idea with my own eyes. I had never seen a photo of it – until today!

OMG! I don’t think many people were exaggerating about its height! It has be be at least 10 feet tall. Maybe 12 feet. Geez Louis! I’d have NEVER seen Jim standing at the front there!

Even the first few rows of seats wouldn’t really see that much. I certainly wouldn’t have wanted a front row seat there! I can see why people stood on the chairs in there now!

Anyway, the photo was originally posted by the Glasgow Chronicles FB page. Just wanted to share the image here.

Quality Is Key

There’s been a recent newcomer on YouTube, uploading SM bootlegs. Some I really enjoyed as they were of a fairly decent quality – others …. not so great.

The most recent upload I was really excited to see was another from the tail end of 1982 – my all time favourite period for listening to them live.

I started to tune in last night but I quickly stopped, disappointed that the quality of the audio just WASN’T there.

They had shared the upload on one of the SM fan group pages with a cheeky “Art & Talk who???” comment. Lol

Well, if you’re going to be full of bravado about it, then honestly, A&T has nothing to fear because A&T uploads QUALITY!

I’ll even delve into periods of the band I am not so enamoured with because I know the sound quality of the bootleg will be “to a standard”. It is why I listened to the Glastonbury set a few nights ago. As much as I love the Good News From The Next World album, and as great as the band was live at the time, there is an element of Jim’s singing voice at that period that grates on me. I don’t really know what it is – I just don’t like the way he sounds at that point. It’s mostly to do with word annunciations and nuances in pronunciations of words – kind of “American mid-west crooner” kind of style. Or more … over-emphasised “blues man”. It just sounds false and kind of protracted and laboured. It wasn’t so pronounced at the Glastonbury gig so I did enjoy it but other gigs from the time, his voice just gets on my tits and I have to stop listening (sorry, Jim!).

So, yes, the quality of A&T’s uploads means I *will* listen to things I normally wouldn’t. Not always. Some I still haven’t dabbled in – but I’ll get around to it.

Of course there are some points in the history of the band’s bootlegs in which it will be nigh on impossible to have quality recordings. Unless they actually had made recordings for radio, etc, and they were professionally recorded, there is going to be little quality around.

And still, for my own level of interest in wanting to listen to bootlegs – quality is key. It is why I shied away from dabbling into bootlegs for so long. One) the general poor quality of recordings, and two) I wasn’t overly into live music when I first got into the band. That has changed massively since being a SM fan and now I really enjoy the live music experience. And I actually find the bootleg experience to be a much better (and truer) representation of what it is like being at a gig than a more professionally recorded thing with full production techniques and “in studio ‘enhancements’” and overdubs made to them.

I want to hear the crowd! Yes, I hate having some bloke being a pub singer right next to me and wailing over the top so I end up hearing much more of them than I do of Jim! But I’d prefer that than to no crowd noise at all and Jim’s voice sounding perfectly audible … almost as if he had gone and recorded his voice in a studio 🤨🤔🤔

If you’re going to give me a live album – make it LIVE. Don’t fiddle with it! Give me the imperfections and the crowd noise.

Still, one wonders exactly HOW MUCH is *live* at the gigs these days. Well, not much at the moment in good old Covid World.

But I digress.

Bootlegs – they need to be of a certain standard. They can still have the crowd and the punters talking and singing and you can hear the cheers and the screams and that makes you feel a part of it. And the band still sounds full and strong, and you can hear Jim’s patter between songs and he always sounds amazing and emotive, sometimes even breathless, and on the VERY ODD occasion, off key – but it all adds to the magic.

So, you provide the quality and I’ll keep on listening – capiche?!

Magazine Malcolm

“It isn’t creating art. It’s a job in the service of information.”

A great interview with Malcolm Garrett in the latest edition of Electronic Sound magazine. (And who knew he’d produced music?! I didn’t! You learn something new every day, folks!)

Click the “Assorted iMaGes” (you see what I did there? Lol) for a better view of the individual pages.

And GEEZ, I’M SLOW! I’ve only JUST taken in why the “iMaGes” part of the name is written that way. Duh!!! Lol

Bowie’s Friend Who’s A Girl

A short piece in the latest edition of Uncut Magazine about Dana Gillespie and her new book.

They spoke to her early on in the MainMan podcast series, in which she pretty much described herself as David Bowie’s f*** buddy – well, I guess a bit more than that – but she was emphatic that she was NOT his “girlfriend”. Merely more a friend who just happened to be a girl. “And, sometimes we got a bit…horizontal.” Needs must. Lol

It actually sounded like from her telling of it, that they felt quite kindred and enjoyed a very artistic tete-a-tete. Her relationship with him was certainly vastly different to that of Hermione Farthingale. And it endured for far longer. They remained life-long friends.

Lucky Dana.

Punk – A Dirty Word?

Over the past week, I feel the word “punk” has been sullied by a couple of people. One retrospectively. Let me explain:

In a previous post here on the blog, I talked about a letter that John Foxx had shared on his FB page. The letter was from David Bowie to Tony Visconti of a shopping list of new singles and albums DB was keen to get his hands on. Within it he talked about punk and flippantly used the words “pink, peak poak, pan” and then said “Oh, yes. PUNK” in brackets referring to the shop that Visconti may find the records that were on said shopping list. I felt DB’s flippancy was about the stupid labels and pigeonholes we place upon things – but I could be wrong? Perhaps by this time for Bowie “punk” was indeed a dirty word?

The other has been in recent days. A fan on SMOG talking about the influence punk had on early Simple Minds. He seemed to talk about it with much disdain. Saying stuff like “thank God you guys moved away from punk.” I didn’t get involved in it because, well…to each their own what they think about particular genres of music. I thought their ideas and opinions were rather misguided but…it’s not my place to educate anyone on anything. He ruffled enough feathers to even have Jim himself (? It’s a bone of contention, actually. I was led to believe by a certain source that this account *is* genuinely Jim but…I dunno. Who knows? I’m trying to get myself away from all this “hanging on his every word and feeling like my life isn’t worth living if he doesn’t speak to me” bullshit that I keep cycling through endlessly and doing my own fucking head in with!) reply to him.

The guy followed it up with a further post about the hypothesis of what/where/how things would have panned out for SM had they stuck with punk. This was when I came in on things.

For one, punk started much earlier than its deemed apex in 1977. I definitely hear and feel and get a sense of punk from Velvet Underground recordings. Listen to the album with Nico – the Warhol banana covered one. Where is the maestro musicianship on that? Tell me! No one plays THAT well on it. Lou Reed is not exactly the best singer in the world. Nico does that kind of – and there is an actual German word for this that eludes me right now – “speak singing” she does. The only one that sounds like he tries to hold a note when singing is John Cale. The Velvet Underground is DEFINITELY punk. In its truest context. That the music, the story, the telling of the tale is MORE important than the musicianship. Or that…it’s okay not to be perfect, if the message is conveyed right.

Because, Lou might not be the best singer in the world – but he’s a poet and a realist and an orator for the time. And, a damn incredible songwriter. A filter. A channel for the message to be projected through.

Likewise, Nico may not have the voice of an angel, as such – but she certainly conveys emotion and she makes you take notice.

The Stooges were formed in the late sixties. Iggy Pop by much touted definition is deemed the “Godfather of punk.”

The New York Dolls were punk. Well, perhaps straddled punk with aspects of glam. I mean, nobody ever sees Slade as glam in terms of their musical output compared to their wardrobe. Well, for me it’s the same with New York Dolls. To me they are 100% punk. They just didn’t dress punk.

The Ramones – punk all the way. But there is sssoooo much rockabilly in their sound too. Listen to Rock n’ Roll High School, FFS. It’s far more 50s throwback rockabilly to my ears than what the UK brings forward as punk.

And as I said to Philip – there is so much more to the word “punk” than a strict musical styling. It’s a culture. A mindset. An ethos. An attitude. A banner. A proclamation.

And there’s also one of its earlier exponents too! MC5 – Kick Out The Jams! Released in 1969, my friends. NINETEEN SIXTY NINE!

When I saw Alice Cooper last year, they were on the bill of support acts as (as they are called these days) MC50. They still have it.

Punk, as a word that became a touchstone, is ssooo much more than music. Look at all that it gave to a generation of the UK as a result! An attitude, a mindset that said “I have creativity inside of me. I don’t need a fine arts degree to be told I am good at this. I’ll get ahead and make my own way!” It gave the working classes freedom to believe they could express their creativity and pursue a future in the arts without – one: feeling they needed a financial foundation – because frankly – there was NOTHING to lose and two: that they should suppress what they feel they want to express due to their background.

Vivienne Westwood is punk.
John Cooper Clarke is punk.
Smash Hits magazine is punk.
Postcard Records is punk.
Factory Records is punk.
The Hacienda is (was) punk.

Anything that you can think of…not just in music…all if it that comes out from the late 1970s, it’s all rooted in that punk spirit.

As Jim said in his reply to Philip: “without the punk ethic we would never have begun and evolved into Simple Minds. That is a fact!”

Punk was a gateway to so much more.

Photo by the wonderful Laurie Evans

Is it a dirty word? It seems to be for Philip. Why? I’m not quite sure. I just don’t think he sees the fluidity in the word itself. To him, I am guessing “punk” is this awful style of music that he doesn’t like very much and that’s that.

Oh, but it is ssssooomuch more than that! It is all of the above! And – it is Simple Minds! Even their name is rooted in punk. Yes, it may have come from a David Bowie song but…just listen to it. Really take in what the name sounds like.

I’m not sure I have put this post across as I wanted to. SOMEONE came along throwing a spanner in the works this morning – distracting me with a post just as I was getting my brain cogs in motion and piecing together this post – making bullet points to it and giving myself a bit of dictation on my phone so I would stick with how I wanted this post to go.

Oh, well. He can disturb and distract me whenever he likes! I shouldn’t be bloody complaining that he distracted me now, should I? Geez! Lol. Cry out for the man’s attention and then when I got something from him, I’m there saying “Fuck off, Jim! I’m busy. Do you mind, pal?!” Lol. Hilarious!

And hey, I just remembered – I’M “Punk”! Lol. This silly nickname my brother David gave me many moons ago. When he wanted to antagonise me. Wind me up. He’d call me “punk”. With a kind of spit of disdain he’d say it to me. “Go away, punk”, when I was annoying him. Lol. Oh, god I loved him! ❤️

Wam Bam Thank You, MainMan!

Ramoana, who is out on the interwebbings hosting a weekly Bowie show on a Canadian Internet radio station pointed me towards THIS! What MAY just be the BEST podcast series I am about to listen to.

I bloody LOVE the MainMan period….mostly because it’s just well…several things – Defries is a fucking MANIAC money hungry megalomaniac….but the people who worked around the office and with David at the time, Tony Zanetta, Leee Black Childers, Warren Peace, Freddie Burretti, Dana Gillespie, Ava Cherry, etc, etc – they all have such amazing stories. It just sounds like such an amazing kind of chaos to be involved in!

Anyway…I will definitely be sinking my teeth into this tonight. And living vicariously through one of the most incredible periods of David Bowie’s career.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUtdULBfwHJ4MvpmXL1H2aw

You can also get more info and further info by visiting the site mainmanlabel.com

Strange Days … Indeed!

And, well…just in case Sir disnae see it on the SM visitor wall (as it now behaves rather oddly these days and can’t be viewed via the FB app – at least I can’t view it – maybe I have been blocked from it? Dunno!) Anyways, I did post this to the SM FB wall but on the silly notion that Jim comes and peruses this utterly sycophantic, lovesick blog then…

So I open the (digital version) latest edition of Uncut magazine and there’s a piece about Richard Strange in it. Simple Minds even get a namecheck as being a Doctors Of Madness support act back in the day. The short piece discusses Strange’s … memoir? I guess it would be. Also in an audio form on his website it says. But I am sure you are already up on all of this, Sir? If not then, you’re welcome. 👍🏻😊

The Lowe Benchmark

The latest Record Collector looking into the best of Nick Lowe.

The bit about The Pretenders’ Stop Your Sobbing. I had NO IDEA that Nick and Chrissie had been an item! You learn something new every day, peeps!

Show Me What You Can Do

Much like with Simple Minds, I had been aware of Talking Heads for the longest time. My brother had copies of More Songs About Buildings And Food and Fear Of Music. At least in my head these are the TH album covers I remember seeing in his collection.

I don’t remember him listening to them much…but he must have. And I certainly never listened to them (I would sneak into his bedroom when he was out with friends and play his albums on his full stack sound system). I remember being a little scared of the cover of MSABAF – it looked rather strange to my young eyes for some reason.

As I got older, I naturally became more aware of them. Knew things like Psycho Killer, Once In A Lifetime, Burning Down The House – in the age of MTV such groundbreaking videos made in impact. Then of course Stop Making Sense was a HUGE thing in the cinemas upon its release. It was EVERYWHERE!

As I got more exposed to their music over the past few years, I have a favourite in amongst the songs I know of theirs – This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody).

Over the past couple of months, I have started to immerse myself in the music of Talking Heads. It’s been a progression.

First I gave Fear Of Music the odd listen. Cities started to grow on me as a track. I then started to listen to MSABAF and recently that has really, really grown on me. It is the album I currently play most. Thank You For Sending Me An Angel is currently the constant earwarm. But a lot of the album is really getting under the skin.

This is how music from particular artists would seep in and finally make an impact with me. It was rarely an instantaneous thing. It’s always been like true love is…a growth. A measured process.

I feel a little silly for being retrograde with this stuff…but that is the shining legacy of the music I grew up with – that there was SSOOO much great stuff around one worried they would spread themselves too thin trying to explore it all.

I feel I should try and give new bands and new music my time too. I try – but it certainly doesn’t come from the charts. That stuff really does not interest me at all. That may be some inverted snobbery there. But I can’t help but feel snobbish when chart “music” feels much more about marketability than being an artistic endeavour.

I think the exploration of Talking Heads will continue…and I’m sure lots of other retrograde and retrospective explorations of late 70s/early 80s post-punk/new wave outfits will continue.

Vive la music!