Festival of the 60s, Butlins (Skegness), 9-11 Dec 2011

So, after coming home from Skeggy totally folked up from last weekend, it was an early return for our first visit to the 60s festival. Having been really irritated by the saddofolkysingalong experience, I found myself being prepared to totally accept the crowd participation this time. Maybe it is because the songs are almost in the public domain.

So, who ? The groups were almost interchangeable. Similar shows, ie play their ‘hits’, Beatles/60s medley. bit of rock n roll, 45 minutes then off. I reckon they can almost be ‘categorised’ namely

1. 60s groups featuring all and only original members? I don’t know of any, and indeed there weren’t! (Maybe ZZ Top and Crosby, Stills and Nash?)

2. 60s acts featuring at least one original. We had The Merseybeats, Herman’s Hermits, Marty Wilde (with Wildcats), Dave Berry (with Cruisers) and arguably Brian Poole (Tremelo-less) plus Mike Pender’s Searchers (he broke away from The Searchers to form his own version). I don’t have much of  a problem with these groups. One of the members has maintained the ‘brand’ over some 50 years and good luck to him. (After all, if it hadn’t have been for the Beatles boom, they would have probably been tyre-fitters at Kwik-Fit.)  Rock fans, see eg Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Eddie and the Hot Rods.

3. 60s acts with no original members BUT have carried on with members who joined when there WAS an original member. (Sorry if it is getting complicated!!). The Dreamers, The Fortunes and Union Gap (?. Not sure, I have a feelin they may come into category 7.).  Again, no real problem but don’t say a hit WE had in 1965.They at least have a connection with the originals. Rock fans, see eg Dr Feelgood

4. We now get to the artists who are ‘economical with the truth’. The (supposed) rock ‘n’ roll legend Ray Lewis. He has ‘had 9 Top Ten hits with The Drifters’. A lie. He replaced lead singer Johnny Moore (who was to return) in 1978, long after their run of hits. And the hyped up intro about his chest cold? The internet reveals he manfully struggled through the same chest cold in May 2009…it must be a belter! OK , so Butlins probably only print what publicists tell them, and Ray Lewis has , in fact, done a lot for children’s charity but it is still ‘sharp practice’

5. Copy groups. The Temple Brothers (Everly Bros) and The Stones (no clues!). Some bloke next to us told us how great these ‘Stones’ are  and he’s seen them many times. Hmm! They were basically just like watching a Christmas panto. We had ‘Mick Jagger’, who had obviously spent ages perfecting his ‘Ya-Yas’ era patter (a la  ‘You wouldn’t want mah trahsers to fall dahn..) , but he made a critical mistake by thinking that Jagger actually SINGS with his London accent. Listen to eg ‘Love in Vain’ or ‘You can’t always get what you want’ , old son, he has a cod-American singing voice. So ‘Mick’s’ on-stage banter at Skeggy, which at times fell somewhere between Michael Crawford and Kenneth Williams, meant that ‘Honky Tonk Woman’ sounded like Frank Spencer!  Still, having seen The Stones (sorry, The ROLLING Stones), in the 70s, 80s and 90s, the plus point was to actually listen to a 5-piece version rather than the expanded line-up but it was very cheesy.

6. 70s groups! Edison Lighthouse, who were only put together to tour after ‘Love Grows’. Not even going to waste my breath. Never bothered to see if they turned up.

7. Final, and loathsome, category features groups who feature a complete line-up who never played in the original line-up and  are perpetrators of identity fraud. The lowest of the low. Step forward, The Easybeats.(And if it applies to Union Gap too, step up too!). I spent my early teens listening to all the afore-mentioned, and was intrigued to learn of the Easybeats billing. We were presented with 3 journeymen club performers plus some blonde bird who slaughtered Tina Turner (and by the way it isn’t called ‘Simply the Best’).  What if some old fans had flown in from Oz or Holland?! An absolute disgrace to the legacy of arguably Australia’s first rock n roll band, who featured AC/DC’s Young brothers’ elder sibling George).  Come on, Angus, use just one of your £millions to hire a lawyer and sue them . You wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for The Easybeats!  Better still, hire a private jet, tell this lot of burglars they are going to a sun-soaked holiday destination and when they en route say they can chose which resort…Syria or Zimbabwe, and show them where their parachutes are.*

I know the big majority of people there didn’t know, or care, who was who. Our friends didn’t!  And the ‘lapses of memory’ from Brian Poole (yes, he had A no.1 but the other supposed no.1s ?. And does Cat Stevens know Poole’s alleged mate Chip Hawkes wrote ‘Here comes my baby’? Were you on ‘Silence is Golden’ , Bri, or had you left for a dismal solo career, leaving The Tremeloes to go onto greater success?. And sorry Mr Berry, the excellent Mickey Jupp didn’t write ‘I knew the bride’, it was Nick Lowe.

But, for all what some may term ‘being pedantic’  ( to me, just lies!), it was a good weekend. Queues not quite as bad as last week, silly fancy dresses, drunken women who drank more in a weekend than they probably do all year! But, in general, fair play to the artists. They have gone from the ‘chicken in a basket’ nightclub circuit to the 60s package tours, hope it bolsters their pension funds.

* FAO ‘Easybeats’. If you have actually played in the original line-up, please accept my humble apologies. Meanwhile me, my wife and the little girl’s hamster from next door are going out as The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Even better, as the originals are all dead and can’t complain.

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