Thursday, 26 March 2015

addressed by a sign speaker

acoustic routes at the brick homeless project sleep out fund raiser
pic j bradshaw

If Mister Spock had scanned the entire Earth in 1981 he would've stood straight, stepped back and uttered..."fascinating"...right after he scanned this album!...In the desert wasteland of post 70s music this record stands like a pyramid next to "Moving Pictures" and maybe no others as the last great albums in Earths evolution. Sadly the future of music seemingly died with Randy Rhoads...and if you want to know why, buy "Superchip" and study it like a college text-book!...A complete concept album in every way, paced, funny, scary, weird and fantastic musicianship...Broughton, Grant & Broughton are as classic as the three stooges! Arthur Grant is second to no one on bass guitar,...solid as a rock! And although Edgars' guitar work is not the feature that it was on the first five albums 69-73, there's so much going on, and so many fresh new sounds you wont miss it. Unless you only prefer the "Love In The Rain"..."I Got Mad"...trademark sound of this band. If so you may be disappointed,...there's a lot of keyboard to be sure. Also you need a good sound system and ears that function,...there are sound effects out the ying a vocal presentation an auctioneer would marvel at!...Fortunately the lyrics are included along with a brief word from Edgar. Young people if you want to know what is happening this is the best 38 minutes of clues there is. "The Virus" a 17 minute bonus track from 1996 uses samples of "Superchip" in a techno-ambient pastiche in an attempt to bring closure to the story...But "The Final Silicon Solution" continues!...Why do some think that mind-control is being the 50s when the Nazis had fully usurped our government, they started experiments with 149 task forces under the c.i.a. umbrella...implanting micro-chips in humans stems from those experiments!...But the technology may be older than Earths' human race!...Consider, what would a chimpanzee transform into after 200,000 years of behavioural modification implants? To me anyone who does not believe in mind control are like those who believed the world is flat even after Columbus proved otherwise. So how do you know how bad-off you are?...Well if your over 30, listen to top 40 radio for a length of time, the sooner you begin to feel your colon clinch the better off you are!...If your under 30, your job is to find a solution to 'their' solution!...Mine is a plant (mammals evolved by inhaling plant by-products)'s hard to brainwash the stoned!....This CD covers alot of music styles on the totally electric end,...and I could go on and lastly if you like the BEATS of modern'll find a pioneering track right here "Save Me Keep Me" is the song part of track 11 "Do You Wanna Be Immortal" reggae-rap that hasn't dated...indeed it seems like it was written about life you see Edgar Broughton is perhaps the clearest visionary recording artist in history!!!!!Do yourself a favour and give 'em a listen..."Oora" 1973 is probably their best...But get their DVD "At Rockpalast"'s their only release of new material since "Superchip"...Then you'll see why the party should be at Edgars...oh and don't forget brother Steve (what a cool drummer)! These guys deserve better than the R&R hall of lame!...How 'bout the underground house of cool...OXOz choice,
Reviewed by Steve Zubal   7 Feb 2010

I think he likes it!!

When the Ebb was recording Superchip, back in the day Steve came up with the song Outrageous Behaviour. The song depicts how, in Superchip world, the government of the time had installed what Steve called sign speakers in public places. They provided information but they also gave out instructions. Steve wrote the lyric in the first person. Below is the first verse

I was addressed by a sign speaker
Don’t walk on the grass please keep to the path
It was the first that I’d seen, yesterday there were non of them,
Now they would always be there.
I gave it a kick – what a feeling as I put my boot in its eye
But a park droid had seen me
My number remembered, location and size.

Last Friday I  played an open air set along with my mates Acoustic Routes at the all night sleep out in aid of The Brick Homeless Project in Wigan town centre. 
During the Acoustic Routes set a small gang of very drunk young men approached the scene shouting and singing. Hard to tell if they were trying to join in or it was some kind of mindless protest. They milled around the area and caused a little concern. Just when it looked like they were on their way they returned. After about fifteen minutes of this the relative calm was broken by the sound of a blaring loud speaker mounted on a nearby building. The sound was not the sound of some nasty and cheap tannoy system. It was very loud and clear. The remote voice informed the offending group of young men that they were in contravention of local bye laws, that they were on camera and must leave the area. It was announced that a police car was on the way. The speaker repeated the missive two or three times with a the sound of an approaching siren added to the re-mix. It was all very impressive and slightly disturbing. Big Brother was clearly watching. The threatened police car never showed but I would like to think that when the men moved away the police car was diverted to something more urgent. 

So Steve, like much of Superchip, your dark vision in the song has become a reality. I wonder if this is being employed elsewhere. 

Meanwhile, some good news, we are planning a download of Superchip including bonus tracks later this year.

After the gig in Wigan town centre it was a off to Wigan Athletic's ground to watch Wigan play Bolton. It was good to see Emile Heskey playing and to see Ojo, one the LFC kids on loan to Wigan. It was a good game with a 1-1 score so a point that Wigan might well consider to have been invaluable by the time it's all over for another year. I like the ground a lot and the vibe. Friendly people and no bad vibes. We had the privilege of visiting the players bar and sitting in what John Bradshaw described as the posh seats with padding. It is also the area where the scouts from other clubs sit making copious notes about players on the field. My friend and road Manager John is a Latics fan and so is his friend, also John, who came with us. So who would have thought it? There I was at the match with one ex Police dog handler and a retired Chief Inspector. All good.

Staying with John and Val Bradshaw is always a delight for me. Without the genuine support of good people who get it, I would be lost. John and Val are folk who are part of the small number of people who not only support me in very practical ways but give me all of the encouragement and sense of purpose that makes it all possible. I have few close friends, none on facebook, but I am very blessed by each and all of my true friends. By the way Val your butties are still top and the lemon drizzle cake was to die for.

Next up is the gig at The Robin 2 in Wolverhampton on April 8th. Luke is also playing a set so that will be special. I will be playing some new songs and golden oldies with a twist and it will be great to be back at The Robin. So it is time to rehearse and plan the set. Any realistic suggestions will be taken into consideration.


Latest - The number of people in London visiting food banks has increased by 394% in the last two years.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

let them eat cake

Lisa Eva Nandy

Yesterday Lisa Eva Nandy, Labour member of parliament for Wigan asked a question of the prime minister during Prime minister's questions. She asked if Cameron knew that in the past twelve months The Brick Homeless Project in Wigan has given out 6000 food parcels. The point was if the Tory recovery plan is real why are there so many in desperate need of charitable support. I was particularly interested in this question because as many of you will know I helped organise and played a benefit with Luke, Steve and Art, plus local musicians at St Thomas the martyr church, in Upholland last November. Later this month I will be entertaining folks undertaking a fundraising sleep out in Wigan for The Brick.

Today it was announced that a recent survey has established that many working people in the lowest paid twenty percent endure poor working conditions. The survey indicates that the health and fitness of this group is no better than the poorest unemployed. Major independent organisations continue to highlight the gap between rich and poor and that the poor are still paying the highest price as a result of ConDem policy cuts around the deficit and recovery from it. There are still huge cuts still to be made and if Cameron wins the next election we can be reasonably sure that public service cuts will become increasingly punitive.

Everywhere I go I hear the same story from professionals working with people. They tell me that it is increasingly difficult to provide the service that was available comparatively recently and the possibilities are diminishing steadily as the cuts to public services continue to bite. There is a steady drift of people leaving their work and we are losing a highly skilled workforce because they feel they are no longer able to provide effective service. Some middle managers hang on for the redundancy package or pension , trying to get blood out of a stone and building the paper mountain ever higher. As someone said to me recently, " Many people hanging in there are doing so out of greed or fear".

Meanwhile the best social workers, paramedics and others are leaving the work in droves. Stress levels produce burn out and depression. I personally know three or four quality people who are aware that if they continue to try to hold the fort there will be a high personal cost. They don't want to abandon their clients or give up a profession they have been dedicated to but, they feel they are no longer able to do the job we expect them to do. This is a very serious situation. In the wake of this migration of skilled workers comes the newbies. Many of them are young and enthusiastic but many couldn't write a letter without support. They have degrees which seem to have overlooked some of the important bits. Then there are the lovely young ones who will work their socks off and will stay the course because they care. Bless them and let us hope they are not discarded or burned out by an unseeing, unthinking government that still favours the demands of the wealthy over the needs of a growing number of disenfranchised people at the bottom of the pyramid. On the other hand a very bright trainee social worker from Eastern Europe recently asked a lecturer, " Do you think it is even worthwhile trying to be a social worker in the UK today"? After the lecturer replied the bright young one said that she would finish her degree and stay here to work but wait until the UK was once more engaged with those in the most need and then she would apply to be a social worker in the field. How sad is that?

I can't tell you how many experienced and good people workers have recently told me they would consider almost any employment with a pay cut if things get any worse. The work is hard but becomes traumatic if it cannot be achieved. Seeing people suffer because of a lack of resources is so stressful it becomes impossible to carry on. There will be a huge cost if this trend continues.

As the election looms friends have been asking me who I will vote for. It is a good question. I have never been so disillusioned with politics. Many years ago the established church in the UK began to lose its flock and they still struggle to connect with us. More recently the political leaders began to lose their audience almost entirely hence the rise of UKIP and other odious pretenders. We don't trust those who rule and we don't think they understand the world most of us inhabit. It isn't just the Eton gang that disappoints. Anti Christ candidate, in the new order hierarchy, Tony Blair said he thought Miliband could not win an election because Labour had moved too far to the left. What????

Blair was a massive disappointment to me and I see little change in his successors. In a recent documentary about Gaddafi we saw Blair cosying up to the self appointed Golden King of Africa because it suited us? Did it? We are still in bed with some of the worst despots on the planet and selling them arms for vast sums of cash. The hypocrisy of western governments who espouse the merits of democracy and justice cannot fail to assist in the radicalisation of young Muslims and Blair played his part in that along with Mr Denial, the weasel Jack Straw and others. Some years ago I was at a reception for Phillip Lawrence award winners at the Bafta Theatre. The group of young people I was with had won the award through crime prevention initiatives while working on the first youth radio station in the UK Fundamental F.M. Jack Straw was there and he remarked to me that I looked like an ageing rock star. I replied that he looked like a fading socialist. He laughed uneasily and moved away from me. Later I remember his clear and repeated denials that the UK had ever been involved with so called "rendering" and torture.

We often hear the cry " all politicians are the same" and they are very similar right now and we can be fairly sure that until we get a new perspective on fairness and justice from our leaders nothing will change. Who to vote for? For me the jury is still out. I think how ever poor they might be in the bigger picture, we have to vote for those who we believe who will genuinely try to care for all and marginalise no one through the devastating effects of austerity politics. Sadly it might be, yet again, about choosing the lesser of three or four evils. Having said that I fantasise about a no vote election where there are so few voters that a new political order is established based on what we the voters want in order to avoid constitutional crisis. Ah! It won't happen but it would be exciting wouldn't it?

Meanwhile I had reason to be encouraged and thoroughly cheered by a letter from one of the guys I met on my recent visit to Elmley Prison. It is the kind of thing that informs and shapes what I try to do. There is always something to be done towards a better way and I hope I might be invited back to H.M.P. Elmley to continue this venture. I have inserted a section of the letter below.

"I am writing to thank you for spending time to come out and talk to us. The feedback was great and you have helped inspire some of us to start writing, in fact a week on and the lyrics and tune are nearly done".

OH YES!!!!!!


Thursday, 5 March 2015

the real music club

pic Dave Randell

I had a great evening out on Saturday last at the Real Music Club at The Brunswick Pub in Hove. The pub is cosy with pleasant and helpful staff and they do good food. The Real Music Club is an Oasis for great music of a most diverse nature that is run with real love for performers, the music and the audience. It reminds me of Berlin just after the wall came down when there were little cafe clubs everywhere presenting a huge range of music, poetry and performance art with seemingly unlikely fusions of instruments and genres that produced a very vibrant and healthy scene.

Ramblin' drove us down from London and we arrived in perfect time for sound checking. Fortunately I don't need much time for this and so I waited until the two supporting bands had done their sound check. Outside the wind howled off the sea and the rain came down in sheets. The sound check went well though I was disappointed to find my new Tanglewood guitar had dropped the action of the strings and so I couldn't use it. Still the old faithful Tanglewood Evolution did the job and I was ready.
The day in the prison on Tuesday had left me in a slightly dark torpid state and I was looking forward to outing the demons with an intimate performance at Brunswick. I was a little concerned about the walk up given that a gale was blowing outside and the rain still poured down. I needn't have worried though. The place filled up nicely and the first band took to the stage. 

Trim Tab Jim is a kind of political rock operatic outfit or at least that is what they presented for us on Saturday. Slightly understated vocal delivery around contemporary politics but quite interesting with some very nice piano playing and appropriate levels in the rocking band that allowed the message through. Early days for Trim Tab Jim but I suspect they will find a niche audience that will grow to love them very much over time. Refreshing and positive.

Dead Whiskey are a melodic raucous outfit with a slide bass guitar player. Never seen that before. They have a dirty bluesy grunt which is a really cool feature and they understand dynamics. Ramblin' found the howling feedback section a bit silly but hey, noise is noise and the throb through the floor was a good indicator to me that they had some deep and powerful bass noise going on that was a bit special. I wondered if it was always like that or just a magic property of the gig space that night. Just needed a snaking dub step line and I'd be right. Cool stuff from young guys setting out to make something else other than fall in with the destructive X Factor normalisation that pervades the UK charts.
Having found one of my guitars to be useless for the evening I was a little concerned that I did not have a spare guitar. I have never broken a string playing acoustically but having said that I realise I am tempting fate without a spare guitar.
                                                      pic Dave Randell

Soon it was time to play and the sound on stage was superb. I can really revel in my own noise when I get a sound like that and I launched into Red Star with little by way of introduction. I eased through my set in comfort while trying different vocal characterisations for the first time. I can't say it was effortless but it was easy. The crowd at The Real Music Club is warm and appreciative and I felt a strong connection with them. I had been toying with the idea of playing my song Ice On Fire for this gig and had rehearsed it. I think the song sums up aspects of the confrontation in war torn  Ukraine. There is one line in the song that I had forgotten on a couple of gigs. This is in a passage where the words are most important and I always feel bad if I have to improvise through failing to remember words. I think it is a rare occurrence but it annoys the hell out of me every time I do it. So I sang the song and remembered all of the words. I got lost in it as always do when it works and judging by the audience reaction most of them came on the journey with me.

Time passed and soon it was all over before I realised I hadn't played any old EBB songs. That is a first. After the gig a guy said he wanted to shout for Poppy, a favourite of his, but thought it might be out of context with what I was doing. He had really enjoyed the show and so I found his comment especially interesting. After six years playing on my own it seems I have developed a set of new songs which stand up alongside old favourites for some older fans and some new fans. This is satisfying and motivating. I love playing The Real Music Club it has a special vibe and the organisers and audience are very cool.

The drive home with Ramblin' was fun. It always is. What with his dialogues with Doris the Sat Navigator and the endless streams of Ramblin' DAVE consciousness the miles flew by. We stopped off for a coffee and then flew down a motorway with little or no traffic, towards South London and home. A job well done I think.

Solo I am in the happy position of not needing to fill a date sheet with shows nor do I need to play crappy gigs to cover the expenses of touring or be involved with fools. People ask me if I will play somewhere and I tell them what I need and they get back to me or they don't and I don't care either way until an agreement is made and then I make every effort to deliver my best  performance on the night.  As I write an email arrives from Norway asking if I will play in what I know to be a really cool venue and so it goes. I never know what is coming next and these days I get some really fun collaborations going on. I am currently working with my writer friend Walter Kohl on his book which I call the book of lyrics. We are also planning a collaboration with Walter's friend Octavia Shreiner who is an installation artist among other things. She is working towards a video interview installation with a twist. We are planning to meet up in the Spring to progress things further. I enjoy the variety of projects I can undertake these days.

On the 20th of this month I will be playing a set with my friends Acoustic Routes at an overnight sleep out benefit in Wigan town centre organised by The Brick Homeless Project. Acoustic Routes are one of the acts who played at the Upholland Brick benefit with us so it will be very nice to hook up again. Meanwhile I am writing all the time and playing with new technology. I have big plans for new things and given all that life can throw up as time goes by, I seem to be more or less on target with my own time lines. All is good right now.