Wishbone Ash. Vintage years 1970-1991.

I am sure all fans of Wishbone Ash music will know of the recent release of a limited number of the above 30 cd box set, containing existing recordings from the era plus many unreleased studio and live recordings. The price was an eyewatering £250.00, but buyers seem more than happy with the package.

I bought the recent Roadworks cd from the last US tour…no complaints at all @£10.00. But the recent announcement of a recording from Glasgow in 1977 being released is somewhat ‘puzzling’. I did not invest in the box set (I know someone who did), but if I had I would be a bit ‘disappointed’ at the new Glasgow release. My immediate reaction would be that surely there would have been room for one more cd in the box set, rather than asking people who have recently been relieved of £250.00 to shell out…again?

This is not necessarily a dig at Mr Powell, as all the Mk1 and 2 line-ups were involved in the box set. ( I doubt that they were all in the same room at the same time though!). But have all 5 approved this further release?  Hmmm…

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Dan Stuart. Northern Guitars. Leeds. 24.11.2018

After a couple of years since he was in The Library, His Danship featured in Leeds again, this time in the even smaller Northern Guitars. Promoter John Keenan told me there had only been 30 advance tickets sold so there was no danger of a long queue at the bar…especially at a tenner for two pints!!

Dan and his sidekick Tom Heyman turned up, travelling very light. It wouldn’t be the genuine article if his first words weren’t to moan, but, it WAS bloody cold! He and Tom loosened up with Lou Reed’s ‘Vicious’ and Tom was left to give us some of his own songs. And bloody good he was. He ended up with a tremendous take on Woody Guthrie’s ‘Vigilante Man’ and Mr S entered the fray. He has another lp in his Marlowe Billings series out, and there was plenty from it, including ‘Joke’s on Me’, ‘Day William Holden Died’, ‘Last Century Blues’ and ‘Tucson’. His previous lp got a representation via the likes of the lengthy ‘Gringo go Home’ and it wasn’t until the end of the set that his songs from the late-lamented Green on Red were featured. ‘Hair of the Dog’, ‘Cheap Wine’ and (acknowledging Her Ladyship’s beer-drenched pleas) ‘Keith Can’t Read’. It’s one of my favourites and well in the running for the best opening track ever to an lp (‘Here Come the Snakes).

A Tom H song to finish and we dashed off to catch the last bus. A memorable two hours, even without many of the GOR songs which have featured heavily over the solo years ( ’16 Ways’, ‘Zombie for Love’. ‘Morning Blue’. ‘Time Ain’t Nothing’, ‘You Couldn’t Get Arrested ‘ were all absent). But I had a bath the following day and listened to them on one of those new-fangled cassette thingies while singing along.

Dan has a great stage manner. He even LOOKS  like he has just been given a 100 hours community service sentence and has been told it is delivering newspapers in Hartlepool.  A cracking songwriter, it beggars belief that there were only a few dozen in the venue and there will be a thousand times that amount watching Ed Sheeran in a vast shed somewhere soon.

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The Prowlers. The Grove, Leeds. 10.11.2018

Spice Girls reform! Big Deal!  Westlife reform! Big Deal! The Prowlers reform! Now this IS a big f**kin deal!   Yes, five years after they last played, West Yorkshire’s finest are back, in the tiny Grove. We were there at 6.30pm and there were a dozen Prowlerphiles already waiting in anticipation.

Kick-off time and they are straight into the high octane ‘Crawlin’ up my Spine’. And it’s 1987 in The Eagle on North Street all over again. OK, so this is the post-2000 line-up featuring Andy Prowler and Andy Dawson, with John and Kevin as the rhythm section but there is no coasting along. A couple of Pirates songs reveal Andy D’s love of Mick Green and the first set ends with ‘Absolutely Sweet Marie’ a la Jason and the Scorchers. There is also their great take of the Screaming Blue Messiahs’  ‘I Want Up’.

The second set starts out with another SBM song ‘Sweet Water Pools’ and then it is back to their 1987 lp for ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’. Our favourite Prowlers track,’Absinthe’, was included  and the rest of the set was packed with stuff familiar to the audience…see set list courtesy of John. (NB There were some deviations from the intended set).

A couple of encores ‘I Can Tell’ and ‘Checkin’ on my Baby’ from the Dr Feelgood catalogue plus the brilliant ‘People Who Died’ (Jim Carroll) and they eventually managed to sit down.

A couple of minor musical blips plus the occasional sound problem but the crowd didn’t give a Donald Duck. (Can there ever be a ‘crowd’ in the Grove, it is so small? You couldn’t have fitted in anybody’s pet hamster if it had turned up late though). The Prowlers confirmed their status as a Yorkshire National Treasure (sorry Kaiser Chiefs, Arctic Monkeys, you will have to wait a while. So will The Grumbleweeds!). They have a charity gig lined up on the 24th at The Library, so anybody who missed tonight has another chance to see them (if Andy P has got his breath back!). Pass it on!

(See also review from the Duck and Drake, December 2012)

 

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Wishbone Ash. The Arc, Stockton-on-Tees, 30.10.2018

It has been some years since we last saw Wishbone Ash. We both thought at the time that they seemed to be ‘coasting’, but recent unanimous approval to the introduction of Mark Abrahams on guitar made us think again.

First up for a 45 minute set of bluesy rock is Felix Rabin. The young French guitarist has a bass and drums in tow and includes ‘Crossroads’ and ‘Voodoo Chile’ in a mainly originals set. A decent reception from an attentive audience. Apart from, unfortunately, three blokes who talked all the way through. They got so ridiculously loud during the main attraction that we had to move. Why do these people f**king come? Why don’t they go outside to talk? Why weren’t they f**king strangled at birth?

So Mr Powell and Co come on and are straight in to ‘Blind Eye’, with Martin Turner’s composition ‘Come in from the Rain’ in hot pursuit. The more recent ‘Deep Blues’ was a good example of how they are up a couple of notches from last time. No, a LOT of notches. ‘Way down South’ featured Mark on a great and economical solo, perfectly illustrating the ‘fewer is bluer, more is a bore’ ethos re the number of notes per second on the fretboard.

Mr Powell introduces Mark as the one who ‘kicks my ass every night’. And as David Crosby sings ‘It’s been a long time coming…’!! ‘Lifeline’ from ‘Just Testing’ is a fans’ favourite and it precedes a healthy chunk of ‘Argus’, namely ‘The King Will Come’, ‘Warrior’, ‘Throw down the Sword’ and the only acoustic number ‘Leaf and Stream’.

‘F.U.B.B.’ has been in the set for a long time and a heavy blast on Mark’s Strat heralds the arrival of ‘Standing in the Rain’. ‘Jailbait’, ‘Sometime World’ and ‘Blowin’ Free’ bring the main set to a close and the crowd bring them back for one of their best post-Ted songs ‘Persephone’. But not before some sound problems which AP doesn’t get fased by.

So, a very good night. They have changed the set around from the pre-UK gigs and seem keen to change at least one song every night. No ‘Phoenix’,no ‘Living Proof’ and not a lot from their last studio lp.

Mr Powell certainly seems to have refound his mojo, due in no small part to the change to a much more animated guitar partner.  Tomorrow’s gig in Mark’s home town should be a stormer.

Re Mark’s joining, does anybody out there know why Mr Manninen seemed to ‘leave’, almost without warning? According to his web-site ‘he became the main songwriter’. Is this true and, if so, was it a factor in his departure? Mmmm…

The latest in the live ‘Roadworks’ series is selling in bucketloads at the gigs. The first to feature Mark, it’s pretty good.

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Glenn Tilbrook. Brudenell Social Club. 26.10.2018

The clock strikes eight and on comes Stephen Wilson. Starting out with ‘Dead of the Night’, the singer/songwriter gives us a selection of his compositions. The second song reminded me a bit of Quicksilver Messenger Service. He finished with a Roy Harper song and got a good round of applause. A brief break before Mr T walks on.

There is a great GT 2014 NYC solo gig available for download on http://www.nyctaper.com and his opening number (co-written with 9BZ’s Dennis Greaves} is the same. There are quite a few unfamiliar songs for openers and ‘Is That Love’ is the first Squeeze singalong. And, yes, that tw*t is behind us…again. You know, the bloke who has a ‘Best of…’compilation in his 4×4 {with the badly-spelt customised number plate) which he has parked across two parking spaces. He knows all the words and thinks we have paid £18 to come and listen to HIM singing! F**kin tw*t! And when we came in earler to the bar next door there was some bleached blonde bird who rattled on non-stop to her companions before going to queue up for GT. Once in she just carried on…for the next two hours. Next to Mr Tw*tty!

‘Up the Junction’and ‘Labelled with Love’ come around, followed by a number from ‘The Knowledge’ and ‘Cradle to the Grave’. A switch to Telecaster from acoustic ramps up proceedings, via classics from Dave Edmunds, Fleetwood Mac and The Kinks. GT invites some ‘guest singers’ up which leads nicely into ‘Some Fantastic Place’ and ‘Third Rail’. The packed club is in full singalong mode now, along to ‘Annie…’, ‘Coffee…’, Slap…’, ‘Mussels…’ and ‘Nail…’.

Encores are the wonderful ‘Tempted’ (not keen on the heavy guitar though), ‘Take me…’ and finally ‘Goodbye Girl’.

The man is a top pro, he was straight out to the merch desk too.

Sorry no photos, they were very poor.

Whitwell Festival of Music. 7-9 Sept 2018

Our second visit to this tiny festival, we came for the first time last year. It is the 10th event…but not the 10th anniversary or birthday!! They are not the first to fall into the trap though. Remember, the first birthday or anniversary of an event is actually the second event, so the tenth event falls on its ninth birthday. Sorry to nitpick. Only a handful on the campsite, again with friendly volunteers as oppposed to minimum wage ‘stewards’ at all-for-profit festivals.

Friday. Went into, for our starters for ten , the Social Club and caught a bit of  Morris and Watson. The club has an open mic session, and Her Ladyship reckoned she could remember their ‘Northern Mining Town’ song from last year.                      Pete Drake. I remember he was really good on the small third stage last year, just doing spoken word. Her Ladyship was sure he had a guitar then , but our friend Mike from SAGA (Salford Anti-Greenchair Association) sided with yours truly.  And, I have to say, the numbers came across much better as a poetry medium last year rather than accompanied by basic guitar strumming . IMHO is , I believe, the social media addendum nowadays.                                              Time to go into the festival proper, first up were Sheffield’s The Rosadocs. In fact, three-quarters of them as the drummer couldn’t make it.  Wouldn’t class them as a ‘rock and roll band’, but maybe they would have been with a drum kit.  Quite reminiscent of nineties Britpop and full marks to them for not taking the easy way out and cry off.                          Bleeding Hearts. 4-piece,  they started out in a quite heavy way, with ‘Devil’s Mosh’ and ‘Caravan Song’. Her Ladyship’s attention was definitely got. One of the guitarists was sporting a bijou Telecaster which Her Ladyship must have washed for him at the same time as she did my white woollen cricket jumper many years ago…namely at 90 degrees C.  They tended to revert to pirate-punk mode after that, which the crowd seemed to like.                                TV Smith. Former lead singer with The Adverts, he is still treading the boards at 61 years of age.   ‘Expensive Being Poor’ and ‘Immortal Rich’ pretty much sum up his ethos.   He almost could be classed as a protest singer for today, a title which Bob Dylan has long discarded.   He was joined by local lads W.O.R.M. for a blast of old Adverts stuff  and the audience duly joined in with ‘Gary Gilmore’s Eyes’.  The lads did a good job at such short notice, and I  have to mention bassist Don. The reason is that I am expecting a large bulky brown envelope in the post, very similar in size to the ones that (allegedly) used to regularly go to a high-ranking FIFA official, stuffed with Swiss Francs and initialled appropriately. No, not to Sevvy Ballasteros, not to Steve Buscemi and definitely not Sandra Bullock. Don’t be silly!   Great to see TV still showing some passion. Pitiful that one of his peers, a certain Mr Lydon, is now wallowing in filthy lucre and advertising butter.                   Didn’t stop for Karl Phillips and the Rejects. We are not ska fans. but plenty are and they went down well again, according to the lad in the tent next to us. A good start to the weekend.

Saturday. The Storm Trees. They started with a hybrid of the Eurythmics ‘Sweet Dreams’ and The White Stripes ‘7 Nation Army’.  Most of the songs were originals but there were songs by Fleetwood Mac, Iggy and Wild Cherry to get the occasional audience participation. BUT…and it, sadly, is an important ‘BUT’, the lady was not too adjacent with her ‘pitch’ for a lot of the time. Yes, that may seem harsh, hopefully it was a one-off .                                    Kid Conventional. Singer-songwriter from Sheffield. Mainly original songs. eg ‘Samantha’ and ‘Wuthering Heights’ (obviously not THAT ONE).   He is a self-confessed Conor Oberst nut and covered his ‘First Day of my Life’ released by Bright Eyes in 2005.   He also threw in ‘That’s Alright Mama’ towards the end. Good voice , decent songs.                                   Broken Flowers. Seemingly based in String o’ Beads but we hadn’t heard of them. Classed as ‘Alt Rock Country’. Not sure what that means, but if it actually means two of the members wear baseball hats then all is clear.  And…they were absolutely great! Self-penned songs such as ‘Nobody knows it but me’, ‘These are the things’ and ‘I saw the light’ would have been well- received in Layla’s and all the other bars in Downtown Nashville . They finished with Petty and Nicks’ ‘Stop dragging my heart around’.  Anna has a great voice and great songs and we will be checking out their gig list as soon as we get back home. An absolute must for any country-rock fans, Full marks to the committee for a 100% thumbs up for this lot when deciding on the weekend’s line-up.                         Chris Reardon.  With a bass and drummer, and the occasional computerised ‘help’.  Bluesy rock stuff, which had a fairly tepid response to start with, but the Clapometer increased as the set progressed. Did he really need the ‘extra’ instrumentation? Jack, Ginger and Eric seemed to managed ok half a century ago.                        Foreign Accent. Nottingham based folkies of Hungarian descent , playing the music of their heritage. A definite first for us, but only saw a few minutes as we needed to go outside to prepare for                          The Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican. Their profile has taken a sharp climb since their festival-stealing show at Cropredy, and all the favourites (old and new) are on show today. ‘Devil’, ‘Paint’, BISTO’, ‘Glove’, ‘Greggs’, ‘Dodworth’, ‘Cockwomble’ and a mass ‘Jump’.    It does what it says on the tank-top, basically.                                Department S. Like most of the audience, we only know one of their songs. But that is sadly remiss of Her Ladyship and me. They were really good, and have plenty of songs such as ‘Sonic Reducer’, ‘Age Concern’ and ‘Wonderful Day’ as well as ‘Is Vic There?’  Original frontman Vaughan Toulouse died in 1991, but this line-up seemed pretty good to our relatively ‘green’ ears.                        Went inside for Addictive Philosophy. No, we don’t like ska-punk stuff but the weather was not great outside so went in for a seat.  This lot from Derby were the Indoor Stage headliners. A three piece with ‘virtual’ drums and bass. Don’t they sell drum kits or bass guitars in Derby? Maybe the music shops refused to sell either to this lot, using the reason that  they are complete dross.  Two women and a bloke, who after a while started to swear to maybe get some attention. It is a shame they didn’t just say ‘We are (insert name) and are f**kin sh*te’ at the beginning.  And gone home.   To use a well-worn epithet ‘From the sublime (Broken Hearts) to the ridiculous (I have already forgotten their name).  IMHO, of course!                        Having missed 3 Daft Monkeys outside , we went out for Doctor and the Medics. Big, bad and as camp as a field of tents, the good doctor comes bouncing on and into Blondie’s ‘Call Me’.  Now maybe it’s me, but the sight of hundreds of hairy-arsed blokes from Derbyshire dancing about and singing along to ”Tainted Love’ was more than a little unnerving!  I concluded that our friend Neil must have slipped some of the Brown Acid left over from Woodstock into our pint pots (and, yes. still technically £2.99 a pint folks)…or everybody else’s but ours!   So we ‘decamped’ across to the Boot and Shoe for  a night cap ( or three).  A good day though, all in all.

Sunday. We missed Sunday last year, having had alternative appointments with both Roger Waters and Poco in New York City.                       Crag Rats. Local rockabilly outfit with a mixture of own songs and covers such as ‘Shake Rattle and Roll’ and ‘Say Mama’. Their rendition of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Rock and Roll’ was good and they cunningly followed it with a number that LZ used to open their early shows with, namely ‘Train kept a -r0llin’ which was a number from their ‘New Yardbirds’ days.                                              Sneakin’ Stupidity. Billed as a tribute to Wilko Johnson and Dr Feelgood. Set list follows to give you an idea. Lookin Back/No Mo Do Yakamo/She does it right/Cell Block no 9/Hog for you baby/Barbed wire blues/The more I give/Down at the Doctors/Roxette/Milk and Alcohol/Going back home.  (I think they did Back in the Night too).  So what were they like! If you think that a tribute act is good if they sing all the right words then ok.  But this lot sounded nothing like Dr Feelgood or Wilko. Seemingly the guitarist saw them in 75, which is when my first of about 50 of Feelgoods gigs was .  So couldn’t he have tried to play like Wilko rather than strum along!? All of Wilko’s successors have at least tried to play the likes of Roxette and She Does it Right in his style and usually done a decent job. This bloke said ‘I hope we have done justice to Dr Feelgood’. If he had said ‘Sorry, we can’t sound like Dr Feelgood but here are some songs’ it would have been better. I can’t remember Lee Brilleaux bashing a tambourine or singing like a Club singer.  They might just have well given the Dr Feelgood songbook to the Wurzels and let them play it. Oh, he had a Telecaster, so all ok then. And pointed it at the audience and occasionally looked wide-eyed.                                Ar Faroued. Folkies from Nottingham. Mixture of covers from likes of Coldplay, Elbow, Jethro Tull  and original songs. Main singer had a good voice and U2’s ‘Still haven’t found…’ got a good treatment at the end.  Their name means ‘Beechwood’ we gather.  Enjoyed their laid-back set.                                   Silver Darlings. Not quite sure about the Leonard Cohen comparison.  Not easy to pigeon-hole (not a bad thing!), they had some good original songs. One song had a ‘Matty Groves’ -ish snatch.  Anybody hoping for ‘All Right Now’ or ‘Highway to Hell’ would have been disappointed.                                     And then it is John Otway. Not sure if he has officially been designated a national treasure yet but it can’t be too far away.  Like all Otway fans know, the set pretty well remains the same. ‘Her eyes were the lasers of love’ and ‘Poetry and Jazz’ provided a rest from the absolute carnage before and after.  Impossible to do justice to the phenomenon that is Otway by writing about him, you need to go and see him.

An early finish, so we went with the two SAGA directors, plus a couple of their mates, to the Royal Oak for Quiz Night. Theoretically a good idea but the afore-mentioned SAGA people had been drinking all day and their reading on the M.O.S. (Marginally Overserved Scale) was 87.5%. There was also, of course, a proportionate effect on their combined larynxes. They were seriously challenging The Who’s 126dB level from Charlton Athletic’s football ground show in 1976, with considerable assistance from Her Ladyship.  The team managed to win some beer vouchers and the meat raffle! (Yes, the meat raffle is not extinct!). We also had a woman nearby who said that Otway had been ‘rabbish’. I was tempted to tell her that if Otway had been here he would have given her the thumbs up and grinned, saying ‘Thanks, job done then!’ But it would have been wasted.   A good end to very good weekend.

Value for money? Excellent. A great advert for the village and its residents, although I gather there are a few NIMBYs to placate. No individual pockets to line, most of the artists doing it for basic expenses.

Music. Not all of the music was to our taste, but I don’t expect it to be. But I can’t not say that something is …er…’not good on my ears’. The Doonicans, Department S, Broken Flowers, TV Smith, Otway, Ar Faroued …I would gladly watch them all again. But if someone is singing flat or a tribute act sounds nothing like the original or some socio-political-anarcho outfit is just plain rubbish I have to say so.

Beer. Not rip-off festival prices. Indoor bar did get really ‘busy’ on Saturday though.

Sound. Foreign Accent had some problems but overall it was fine all round.

Food. Seemed ok to me but I don’t eat much. Her Ladyship managed to eat all of her noodles without leaving the customary 10% down the front of a white top so must have been decent.

Camp site. Fine. A bit surprised to find the portaloos had gone on Monday morning, but it makes sense financially. I know how much they cost in 2007 and given the few people on the campsite, the price per plop is plenty!

Thanks to Neil, Val and all the committee and volunteers for a great weekend. Long may it continue.

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Sunshine Festival. Upton-on-Severn. 24-26. 08.2018

It has grown from a few thousand back in 2010 to 20,000 plus now. Musically, there is a lot of dross. but have a look at the photo of the middle of the programme! Cher! Boy George! Bruno Mars! And that is just Friday! If you can make it to Sunday you can see, amazingly, Dusty Springfield and Amy Winehouse!  Plus there are tributes such as Bootleg Abba and Soul Stripper. The latter are billed as UK’s No 1 AC/DC tribute act. I would hate to see the No 2, as this lot neither looked nor sounded remotely like AC/DC.

Security? Dog Patrols? No sign of them when all the drunken, foul-mouthed mayhem was happening in the early hours of Sunday morning.

And the organisers are advertising next year as being their 10th birthday. It is in fact the tenth EVENT, the tenth birthday is 2020. Use your fingers, starting with the first birthday is 2011 and go from there. Hope you haven’t had loads of t-shirts printed.

 

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