If I had to spend the rest of my life in an Ikea returns waiting area, what eight gramophone records would I choose to take? Assuming that I had a copy of the complete works of Shakespeare that would play 78,s and a faulty Goebbels computer station .Would there be a Charlie Kunz compilation: Abba Gold or Robert Johnson? Isle of Man TT sounds of 1959 , or Aero Engines of the Second World War? Possibly, because all of these would be far more listenable than most of the British "Folk Rock" artistes who have appeared since the genre was invented by some hapless music journalist who couldn,t use an adjective,and considerably more of a treat than the majority of "Progressive Rock " combos of the same era and more earsplitingly topping than any number of equally appalling British acts of the last 30 years. Which might seem strange coming from a member of (an albeit)defunct" Folk Rock"(as once described ) band of the last 30years. But then what does the term "Folk Rock" mean. Does anybody care? Certainly not Mr. Lionel Billet of Marshfield , Wilts, because when played a whimsical piece of whimsy from yesteryear he said "Whats that shit?"And thats it really, there are only two types of music,Shit and Shit hot Tortoise are Shit hot.So areWinton Marsalis,Philip Glass, Igor Stravinsky and Wild man Fischer........ Jim Reeves ,John Lennon,JoniMitchell,Steely Dan and Hayesfield School Senior Choir. "Folk Rock" or "Progressive Roots" or whatever you want to call it, is mainly shit. Played mostly by friendly,more than competent, dedicated musicians,who don,t usually upset anybody, work hard and who enjoy themselves on stage. They attract an acceptable following of middle aged, middle class devotees, who usually want to be reminded of their youth, and who don,t get too pissed ,and take different drugs to their children .Mainly HRT and Ibroprufen.This is the generation who Tuned in, Dropped out Became Vegetarian, Bought "OZ" Wrote Radical poetry, had sex with each others Afghan hounds and now listens to innofensive mandolin plavers noodling around in fucking folk rock bands!!!!!
And as for thatWestCountrFolk/Roots/Progressive/Trance/HardcorePolkaDot,Level Luffing anti-coagulating outfit "Stackridge Lemon", well.........they would be off my list of waiting room favourites, just pipped by Four High Level Flush Noises and the diving Rat, by Arthur Warren.
I bring this up because of two,yes two! thoughts I had recently.
It occurred to me that if you were bored rigid one wet Sunday pm, and a cruise missile came through the window and landed on your Hammerfest coffee table, with a note attached saying:-"This device will be disabled and worth at least £7.50 in scrap if you are prepared to listen to the "The Man in The Bowler Hat",like now!!........You might,on hearing it, notice that one could not really file it under your "Folk Rock " section of decaying L.P.s However, should you have attended one or more of the live performances of the group responsible for the record, and came in late ,then you might have entertained the opinion that you were indeed on the receiving end of some "FR", in all its pomp.
So one can,t really blame those confused Music journalists, record company people, passing Stackridge debutantes and the like for saying to themselves, " I don,t know what the fuck is going on here!" And its still true today! I,ve forgotten what the other thing was, but probably had something to with the Inland Revenue and a sharp stick.
Incidentally, I remember that the best turn at the 2000 Cropredy Festival, the one we played at ,was Bob Fox. Good songs, delivered like he meant them. Two guitars,no shit. There we are then.
2nd April 1971. Lansdown Road, Bath.. Three people are proceeding not very cautiously down the hill on a cast iron bed.
One is sat on a pile of junk, a guitar case and a bewildered mouse in a birdcage.The other two are standing to the front and back steering, trying to stop it, and cursing . Encountered aquaintences of a sensible nature suddenly find Building Society windows interesting , whilst motorists and others impress the intrepid bedfolk with their knowledge of profanity.
In due course,after stopping briefly for lunch, and finding the pile of junk had grown, the assemblage arrived at what would become the headquarters of Walter/ Cutting UK.--7, Chatham Row,Bath.The streets only claim to recent fame was that it was due to be demolished, and that the fire brigade had set fire to one of the empty properties, " to see what happened when a house caught fire". It also happened to be,and still is, one of the finest examples of a row of early Georgian town houses in Bath.In the certain knowledge of this, and with acceptable pragmatism, we stripped all the timber we could find out of the remaining dwellings and burnt it in our big Georgian fire-place.Not as famous as 32,West Mall, and not as many famous people in it, but it was soon to have an ouside toilet and its very own Mad Axeman. Now,Leonard, as we shall call Him,was only mad sometimes. And he didn,t have an axe. He just borrowed one, when he needed it. And, to be perfectly honest I only ever saw him chopping wood, doors, drums and rats with it. He might very well have hotly pursued several extremely disorientated vagrants the length of Walcot Street, flourishing a large woodmans axe, clad in a pink painters suit and using language not suitable in a quality milliners.And then ,when arrested claimed to have been "out for a walk". To be fair, he usually relieved himself copiously over univited guests -he had a room on the top floor- the preffered mode of entry for itinerants being the window of the room below, via a balcony. These were obviously very persistant individuals, and must have thought that a sour drenching of three hour old Natural Dry was a small price to pay for a night of hedonism and unbridled luxury at such a prestigious address.But as I say,this was now 1972, and I was probably in Yorkshire, helping to distribute whimsy.
Geoffrey Chaucer,on the other hand, died some 600 years ago, and couldn,t possibly have heard any Stackridge songs, or eaten a large box of bananas in Exeter in the April of the year 2000.The threat of legal action prevents me from elaborating on this.But it did involve certain members of a progressive rock band and a deaf whippet.
The song "Pinafore Days" was named after a shop in Bath ,which sold gingham dresses and straw hats and the like. My associate Leonard used to buy his outfits from there . Sadly , it is long gone, ,like Mutters hair. Leonard was the bass player in the seminal band the "Burr-Jets ", fluid exponents of an exquisite sub-genre of acid rock known locally as "alkaline rock " The group also featured the incredibly clever Colonel Knowledge on drums , and the effervescent "Dimmy Dave on cough mixture and twin lead guitars .
Back in the seventies , returning from a gig where the rider was virtually what a Threshers would look like now, a certain band member , who had availed himself most liberally of the said alcholia, stuck his head out of a rear window With the intention of providing the hard shoulder with an example of German Abstact Impression ism. Unfortunately he became optically challenged as a result of this little foray into the world of noctunal pavement art . Ten miles down the road he had recovered sufficiently to make a request of the driver one, A.Burkin ,to return to the "ashphalt gallery " and retrieve his glasses. Miracul ously , this came to pass and the lenses were retrieved, repaired with sellotape , and worn on stage at the "Rainbow " the following night.
After the extraordinarily anti-climactic gig at Glaston bury in 1999, the band , along with our personal assistant and driver for the day Henry Lawrence , repaired to the excellent backstage bar for a little R&R. Henry is an accomplished and witty songwriter and multi - instrumentalist , who is very partisan about live music , and hates loud background wash, such as that which was playing to the assembled clientle (sans Marianne Faithfull ) of the Acoustic Stage hospitalitySuite . Henry jumps on the bar , Demands in Russian that the "Disco " (sic) be banished (which it was) and entertains the throng of astonished and bewildered piss-artists with a brace of cheerful and life-enhancing Leonard Cohen numbers, assited by John Miller and self.
Of course this went totally over the heads of what remained of the heads of the motley assemblage of has-beens, might bes and general camp followers, and recieved a barrage of cat calls and tame abuse ,but Henry seemed well pleased , as were John and I . He then drove me and the gear home through a sea of tents and cursing scousers. Is this the true spirit of Glastonbury?
NEXT MONTH:- Jamesí slippers, The Mad Axeman of Chathan Row , and the Bananas of Exeter.Also Geoffrey Chaucer`s all-time favourite Stackridge songs.