Thursday, 1 January 2015

Bulls Head Bob Jan 2015 - BUMPER New Year Blog!!! Broad Street Walk of Stars. Mike Burney. Shane Fenton. Charlie Watkins. Freedom Field. The Magnificent Moody Blues.

Happy New Year Brummies and assorted friends from all over this Planet.
I'm very pleased to say this is the most globally popular I've been.

2015!!  Another year begins.  Mrs Bob and I had a wonderful bedlam of a Christmas and bathed in the warmth and togetherness of our family, who owing to work and living in various countries had not been together in the same room for Christmas for at least 10 years.   She clucked her way around the house bathing in the 'full brood experience' to such an extent that she even said she liked the headphones I had bought her, although I think I heard her refer to them as a saucepan set to one of the Bobettes?..   

BROAD STREET WALK OF STARS
A very happy new year from the Gang of Four at the boozer too .   We were discussing this recent picture on Tony Iommi's Facebook page of the Broad Street Walk of Stars Slab awardee, TREVOR FRANCIS, a football hero to some. Tony along with some previous "Slabees" was there as a reciprocal gesture as Francis had been to his own previous "Black Slabbing".  Tony looks particularly Black in this number and Sir Bev Bevan of Bevanville was also there with his hair.  
Jasper Carrot had a picture of his former self posted on the wall behind.
copyright Tony Iommi.

Reportedly, when it came time for Francis to be officially 
"Slabbed" by the Committee, he cleverly dummied 
Martin O'Neil, side-stepped Iommi and Bevan, easily 
outpacing the aged Carrot and got the slab in the back of it's 
crevice before you could say Billy Wright.......  
FAREWELLS
Time to say some farewells to four folk who were either a part of the Brumbeat history or had an effect on it.

CHARLIE WATKINS
The king of WEM amplifiers and Watkins Rapier budget guitars has wound up his final 'coil' (bit of an in joke for pick-up lovers) and departed to the great transistor in the sky.  

Charlie had enjoyed a long life and was 92 when he passed away, still working on new projects.  
A whole host, if not all, young musicians of the sixties owed him a great deal.  The first really good amplifier, The Watkins Dominator, the first echo chamber, a range of Watkins Rapier budget guitars that got the youth of the day, including me, playing music at an affordable price and, later as the real King of huge WEM amplifier stacks and PA systems used by many, many leading bands.  He did us all a real favour and he was a great unsung British hero and innovator.

Beautifully sexy names like Rudolf Valentino who was, in his day, the biggest star on the PLANET, get swallowed up and forgotten in the mists of time.   I sincerely hope Charlie's name isn't one of those that disappears too quickly because for a music legend he had the most British of British names that would not go amiss in Mary Poppins, "Thanks Charlie Watkins" you made this old man and a million other musicians lives very happy for a long while.

SHANE FENTON
Shane Fenton of Shane Fenton and The Fentones, also passed away in late October.   One of the first batch of British rock acts alongside Billy Fury and Cliff Richards, to name but a couple, who were launched onto the British public.  Dyed blond hair tight lurex trousers, suggestive moves, made him one of those, hated by Dads and loved by daughters.   He never really achieved the fame of Fury and Richards but was an influence on the youth music scene of the day for a while.  

It was quite funny when he re-emerged as Alvin Stardust because in reality he was still doing the same act, but this time in black clothes......the music goes round and round.  I gigged with quite a few rockers but never came across him, reportedly a really, really nice guy. 

The wonderful photo on the LP cover shows Shane and The Fentones, not being suggestive at all, I mean don't all guys stand with their hands positioned like that??.  The Fentones all raising their, new on the market, Fender guitar necks in those days of music and sexual suggestion when even the bass player stood a good chance of getting a shag.    Sleep well my friend.

MIKE BURNEY
We say farewell to the Brummie Master of the Saxophone, Mike Burney who passed away in November after a long illness.

I know we all have to go sometime, it's inevitable, but when it's a musician
of such class that you have been to watch, absorb and enjoy him at his peak it seems it should just go on forever.   Mikes musical prowess and history is common knowledge amongst Brummie musicians but moreover, his name was known and admired internationally on the jazz scene and he had worked with the worlds biggest acts. 
He was great fun in Wizzard and played the part well so "Thanks a lot for your life Mike".   I'm sure we're all better for your part in our lives.

JOE COCKER
A couple of days before the Xmas celebrations began we were stunned by the news of Joe Cockers death.   I remember all too well seeing him playing at The Belfry when Little Help had just come out, I was chatting with him afterwards and have to say what a nice guy he was as well as being an individual talent of enormous proportions.   His on-stage presence was electrifying.  The papers have been full of statements from famous stars and I really have nothing to add the panoply of compliments showered on someone so deserving of every one of them. 

So, we march on and although we are saying goodbye to some of our heroes and friends we can still celebrate those of us who are still playing live music on stage and one of these bands is: 

FREEDOM FIELD
Brummie Sixties musicians are still performing and around a year ago I featured the newly formed band Freedom Field whose line up includes two well known Brumbeat musicians, those being Bassist Danny Gallagher ex Frosty Moses and Traction and drummer Dave Hynds, The Cheetahs and Fairfield Ski. This bands line-up went through some initial personnel and name changes and now they seem to have found what they were looking for, here seen rehearsing recently:


   
The groups songs could be called politically confrontational in their stance and they have played at peace camps as well as some other Brummie haunts.   They have recently uploaded four tracks of original material, with the song DRONES featuring as their heaviest number so far.   If you would like to take a gander and listen to their material then please Click Here DRONES to see their Youtube clip.   

Love this photo, visually the band look right, great style, great kit well played. Michelle's striking looks are perfect to front a band.  Love the packet of biscuits holding up the words too, if I was there I'd have scoffed the lot!
THE MAGNIFICENT MOODY BLUES
For me there was only one Moody Blues line-up I loved and that was the original R&B band that graced the stages of Birmingham in the early sixties. They were the first Brummie band to experience a Number 1 in the charts with GO NOW a beautiful song driven by emotion and is one of the greatest pieces of music production.  This record deserves it's place in pop history alongside other eternal classic British greats like "Whiter Shade of Pale" or "She's Not There" by the Zombies.  
Well it's been fifty years since the recording of that track and in November Cherry Red Records re-released The Magnificent Moodies album in a deluxe package with re-mastered tapes, a host of bonus tracks and live BBC recordings that chart the bands beginnings as an out and out R&B act. 

Mrs Bob bought me the CD for Christmas and it makes interesting listening.   I have the original LP.  Click here  MAGNIFICENT MOODIES to visit Cherry Red records page which gives you all the details and track lists.   

What is clear is how much of the success and sound of 'Go Now' was down to it's producer Alex Wharton (who worked under the name of Alex Murray in those days) and who initially signed the band and provided them with the song.   There is one short track of control room chat between Wharton and Denny Laine where the producer is getting Denny to work on the opening line, it is here that we hear for the first time this original Moody Blues arrangement of the Bessie Banks song.   This Olympic recording session track was a bit of mish-mash of musical errors and bum notes, some unnecessary guitar riffs and a vocal that was a little on the weak side, the harmonies though were really developing.  It was a song in the making.   

The finished article on the other hand, which was re-recorded in a converted garage at the back of The Marquee Club is a simply brilliant piece of music.

The production was controversial in the recording industry in that it was considered not 'clean' enough. However, Alex Wharton had slaved at it to give it a thick sound which was clearly ahead of its time and copied by others later on.

I saw the band play Go Now at The Ritz in Birmingham, their No1 
homecoming gig, and it was an impressive performance of a live
R and B group whose set was just knock out with songs like James Browns 'I'll Go Crazy' and the Rufus Thomas classic 'Jump Back'...luckily for you guys these tracks are just a sample of whats on board this CD.   

I'm tired of reading that Denny Cordell produced Go Now, a rumour started by those who know very little.   Cordell at this time however was Alex Whartons office boy and shortly after went on to become a producer.

There are some fine R&B tracks on the CD and, in fact, I perform one of them today with the Boogie Band.  If you want a taste of how the Moody Blues sounded when they were a proper group buy this CD.   Also why not read the rare Interview between Alex Wharton and myself covering, in detail, the recording of Go Now....click here. THE RECORDING OF GO NOW.

So in short, go and buy 'The Magnificent Moodies Re-Mastered' if, like me, you were a fan of this early Brummie RandB band or even if you were a fan their later stages this is still a great recording and nice a piece of Birmingham's musical heritage and history.

FINALLY
By error Mrs Bob also bought me the DVD of The Moody Blues at The Isle of Wight festival because she didn't know better.  The band by that time were without Denny Laine and Clint Warwick.  They had recruited Justin Hayward and John Lodge as replacements and had gone off on their Orchestral Joss Stick Poetry phase or OJSPP, as it's known in The 'One Voice Feminist Sisters do Poetry Club' of Sparkhill, or TOVFS d PC Sisters.

The dvd starts with John Lodge flying in
for sale on ebay right now
a helicopter and landing in the middle of a large farmers field where, by chance, it appears he had left his Fender Bass. John, a tip here for you.  

Make sure the neck hasn't warped, all that rain and stuff would have played havoc with it stuck out there in the open air, what happened, did you accidentally leave it there??  I'm surprised it didn't get nicked during the past 44 years.    Anyway that was the exciting bit over.

The video lasts 1 hour and 19minutes and I only managed about 6 minutes 32 seconds 'give or take', including the helicopter landing/Bass guitar part, which was just up to the end of the poetry line "On the Threshold of a Dream" before I found myself heading towards slumberville.  

A PHENOMENON
Included in the 6 Minutes 32 seconds was an interesting camera shot, panning across the sea of faces who were staring ahead listening to The Moodies starting up and the band certainly didn't mess about.

It was straight into the poetry and they had them in the palm of their hands then, like sheep, you can see everyone start to recline a little and their heads begin to get all loose and start to loll about a bit, looking at each other as if in a daze and then they all begin to lie back.  Which, co-incidentally is where I found myself dozing off too. On the Threshold of a Dream.

I am going to keep the DVD though, it'll be good for when Crazy Malc and Nobber come around and find myself running short of beer.  I can slip this on and they'll start looking for the car keys, "Oh my goodness, is it that time already?".   

DON'T BELIEVE WHAT YOU HEAR
Now this may not be true but I have heard through one my Chem Trail
and Lizard Conspiracy theory friends that on that very day there was an 'UMSE' or Unexplained Mass Sleep Event in scientific parlance, and apparently the huge snoring exhalation wave caused heavy turbulence in the skies.

FANTASTIC ACHIEVEMENT
There were 700,000 people there, can you imagine that? the largest audience EVER and The Moody Blues, a group from Birmingham were on the stage, that's really something and I'm really pleased that they experienced it, they were a huge band.  Their beginnings though were far more interesting and exciting for me during the heady days of The Beatles and Rhythm and Blues.

Well that's the year off to a flying start, blogwise.  Do have a peaceful and prosperous New Year and remember, it's the small things in life that give us the most pleasure.

Take Care
Bob

copyright Bullsheadbob
Contact Bobsbullocks@Gmail.com
  







    


Monday, 1 December 2014

Bulls Head Bob Dec 2014. BULLS HEAD BOB'S CHRISTMAS SPECIAL.....THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS

Happy Christmas you Brummies, Brumettes, My cute and sexy Feminist Fans and my special Non-gender Homeosomethings in Japan.



Well it's Christmas and I'm awash with L.O.V.E for the whole human race so
Happy Christmas you lovers of mirth and emotion, here we are honeydripping our way through the Yuletide fol-de-rol.   All dusting off our list of corny Christmas cliches ready to launch them on the same people you see all year but during this season, with a hope of well being and enduring peace.


Isn't it good to have survived another year?   I look at the back of my wrinkled hands which, in turn, flashes me back to looking at my Mothers hands when I was younger, and thinking to myself then, how fragile they looked but above all, how beautifully artistic they were.  

I've just finished putting in a new fire, so my bastards are covered in scratches and bruises and look like the skin's been scraped off with a blunt knife, but I saved a few bob so my Mum would have approved. 

Mrs Bob is ecstatic about the new fire, "Just in time for Christmas" she said, thereby providing the first cliche of the season, adding "Oooh Mr Bob, look at your rough builders hands" with that "evening of Ann Summers" look in her eyes.    Yeah! that means I can ask for Meat and Potato Pie with lashings of gravy and Treacle Sponge and Custard for tea, I'll probably wear this builders belt for the rest of the day.    

Birmingham City Centre is dressed up to thrill and the lights are beautiful as ever.   
I have been caught up in the shopping mania again and 
the family have been dropping hints about what they would like me to buy them.   For our Wedding Anniversary earlier this year
I bought Mrs Bob a beautiful new wheel barrow after her saying she wanted something to do with gardening .   

It was great fun, just like those Youtube clips when you see people being taken outside to see their brand new car on the drive.  I can truly say that she was amazed when I took off her blindfold and she saw the barrow standing there, she was absolutely lost for words.  In fact, she was so overcome she didn't say another word all day!!

I haven't  been so generous for Christmas though, we are living under the lovely Mr Camerons budget restraints so she asked me to get her some new headphones for her iPod thingy, well the ones from the iThingy store  were really tiny things and cost over 200 quid!!! that's a soddin fortune which only politicians and bankers can afford so a quick trip to the army and navy stores sorted out this little problem and with plenty of eye-catching style too, here they are:


I can't wait to see her face when she opens this gift!!

US GOLDEN FEW
Just wanted to say many thanks to all you guys out there who correspond with me and send me things to jabber on about.  Being a part of the BRUMBEAT sixties music scene was something that only we Golden Few experienced and they were the halcyon days of 'electric music'.    We were the first generation of young kids to experience the new fangled Electric Guitars and us Brits soon ruled the world and produced all the greatest bands and guitarists.   It was all such a wonderful adventure of discovery and everything after that was a just copy of what we did.   That is still true today, so although it seems a little hackneyed to say "In my day......blah blah", it was the truth and I'm so glad to have experienced the time.    There are a few of us who, luckily, are still playing regularly and I shall be playing until my tired limbs can no longer function, it's all in the head you see!!    Thank heavens for music, the best gift of all, just add determination and love for a great result.

I still have the same mates that I started out playing with, we forged those friendships through countless hours of rehearsals, we were a true group, one band, not a band made up of people who, like today, play in 3 or 4 bands at a time.  We lived in each others pockets and enjoyed the experiences, good and bad.   So a very Happy Christmas to you guys particularly.
OGGIES GIFT

Every Christmas I normally display Oggies Card but since I've gone all feminist, the days when I showed women in skimpy, or no clothing at all just to satisfy Oggies cravings are a thing of the past.    I know this may seem pretty mundane compared to the risque pictures that have adorned this blog every christmas for the past few years but I thought you'd like to see the new car shampooer I've got him, hope he likes it.



I hope you ALL enjoy this Christmas.


Take Care and "Love the One You're With"
do do do-do do-do doo doo!

Bob

Copyright: Bullsheadbob
Contact:  Bobsbullocks@mail.com


   














      











"Deck the halls with boughs of holly" are you kidding me?, have you seen the price of a sprig!!! 
















MOODY BLUES FOR CHRISTMAS
Live at the Isle of Wight
1 Hour 18 Minutes 54 seconds
I LASTED 6.25.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Bulls Head Bob NOV 2014 - ELECTRIC 12 STRING GUITARS. NASHVILLE TUNING. DID YOU PLAY IN GERMANY DURING THE 60'S? HOLLICK AND TAYLOR RECORDINGS.

Watcha Brummies, Brumettes, Brumbeaters and Mates around the world,

It's yer man again, the computers coal box is stoked and full of words so  I thought I'd yak on about the electric 12 String guitars rise to popularity in the mid sixties, riveting I know!  However, to spice things up a little more there's "How to tune yer Geetar, Nashville Style",  a chance to share your Germany memories and to conclude, a touch of the Hollick and Taylors.  So there you have it, a Right Rollicking Read for the Rumbuncious, Rotund and Rum amongst us few Brumbeat survivors.  Including, naturally, you myriad readers from all parts of the world who welcome me into your own bit of cyber space.  I love you and so does Mrs Bob and the dogs, well except for Charlie, he needs persuading with a chocolate digestive and then he could be yours for life. 
CHIMING IN BRUM
In 1965, us Brummies and the rest of the western world, all went crazy for The Byrds 'Mr Tambourine Man' with it's chiming 12 string guitar intro.   Some Brummie groups adopted the Byrds sound along with a lot of The Byrds material included in their repertoires.    Hartley Cain, guitarist of The Monopoly who included Raymond Frogatt in their line up, went absolutely barking mad and made his own eighteen string guitar, I seem to remember something like chess pieces being used for tuners.   Hartley is still playing with Froggy .   The Move too played quite a bit of Byrds stuff and would finish their act with 'Eight Miles High'.  Flashing lights, strobes, fireworks, explosions, with Charlie Wayne destroying a TV with an axe as Roy Wood Wah Wah'd his way way to the end end, the sign of effects to come from the 'bearded one'.

Lots of 12 string action since then, Jeff Lynne's acoustic sound trademark, Tom Petty, The Eagles and Jimmy Page to name but a few.  If you want to hear the real possibilities of it though, then listen to Leo Kottkes classic CD. 6 and 12 String Guitar
   
THE 12 STRING GUITAR 
THE BLUES
Ledbetter
The 12 String has been around since the 1930's and was an instrument favoured mostly by Blues singers, notably the fabulous Huddy Ledbetter, Rev Gary Davis, Blind Boy Fuller and also Folkies like Pete Seeger.   It's advantage was added volume and presence as an acoustic instrument but the disadvantage being that you were limited by its playability as a single note instrument. It was regarded as something of a novelty for many years and owing of its limited playability there was never a large amount of those guitars available in the early days.
Pete Seeger

The first commercial 12 string 'hit' was 'Walk Right In', released in 1962 by a trio called The Rooftop Singers, the song itself, was a cover of a 1921 blues song.   The two guitarists decided to use two 12 strings to get a bigger sound but, such was their rarity, they had to have Gibson make two acoustic models for them before they could record the track.   
THE ELECTRIC AGE .
It's often said that The Byrds copied the Beatles sound but David Crosby is quoted as saying that they had been impressed by the sound of Liverpool's, The Searchers.  They had a big 1964 hit with a Jackie de Shannon song 'When You Walk in the Room' and should you listen to the opening riff of that song it is not a million miles away from the feel and notation of Mr
Mike Pender The Searchers
Tambourine Man. The Searchers were heavily into that 12 String sound from then on, following up with Malvina Reynolds, 'What Have they Done to the Rain' which was in the current 'protest song' vogue.  The Byrds were of course influenced, like every musician of the day, by the sounds and innovations of The Beatles but the comparison stops there.


RICKENBACKER, made the first electric guitar so it was only right that they would make the first prototype Electric 12 string in 1963 and by the time the Beatles toured America in 1964, that prototype had just evolved into the famous 360/12.   Rickenbacker seized the opportunity of gifting one to George Harrison, supposedly the second ever made by them.  On his 21st birthday that guitars' sound was first recorded by way of The Beatles 'You Can´t Do That', which was the 'B' side of 'Can't Buy Me Love' and from then on they used it liberally and as a foil to the sound of the sitar on Norwegian Wood and others.  

Harrison's 12 string riffed, 'If I needed someone' was recorded by The Hollies as a single so that fuller, melodic 'Sound' was really popular then and the R&B Beat  Phase coming to a close.


The Who's Pete Townshend bought a harder and grittier aspect to the guitar as he thrashed it around a few stages and when I saw The Who, live at Midnight City in Birmingham its effect on the opening of "Anywhere, Anyhow, Anyway" was brilliant and full bodied.  It chimed it's way right through the Summer of Love with all those, trippy solo's man'.   

I have to say, this early 360/12 was, and still is, a beautiful guitar, the neck was unbelievably light and the sunburst, lustrous.  The famous, art-deco like, F Holes made it very attractive and the sculpting for the tail piece beautifully echoed the same design line across the scratch plate. The later models had more rounded edges that gave the guitar a 'toy like' look , I've never liked them since.  To me that design difference is like comparing the first E Type jaguar with later models, they got it right the first time.  I can tell you that the sound of this guitar is luscious and warm and if I could, this would me mine right now. 


FENDER ELECTRIC 12
Fender, not wanting to be outdone, made their 
own model, The Fender XII, and they obviously took this guitar seriously as it was a brand new design, not just a Stratocaster adjustment.    Wow!, we had been living with those fab Fender guitar names so what a shocker then, when they gave it such a bland obvious name, albeit in roman numerals? and if the product name of the guitar wasn't that inspirational, this 'thing' was the best they could come up with.  It must have been the result of a bar room brawl by the design team, with the dopiest one winning. They somehow managed to combine total blandness with a hideous disregard for style and I particularly hate the headstock.   It was a very playable guitar though and was used extensively by a whole host of folk and interestingly also by The Beatles.  In later years some people took off the thinner set of strings, raised the action and used it as a slide guitar.   This was the type of 12 string used by The Move.

BURNS.  Not to be excluded from the musical fun, Cliff and The Shadows had a 1964, 12 string, hit on their hands with 'On the Beach' and for which Burns had designed a 'One of a kind' Double 6 for
Hank Marvin, the only one fitted with a Rezo tube tremelo.   This was a popular 12 String and even Elvis used one. I think it looked great in Green, great playability and much prettier than the Fender. Burns still make this guitar and it now comes with a Trem system like Hanks.

VOX  bought out their Teardrop and Phantom 12 strings, and the teardrop was certainly used a lot by The Rolling Stones' Brian Jones and acoustically, was to the fore, for songs like Ruby Tuesday, Angie and As tears go By.



I was never a fan of VOX guitars so can't really comment on its playability, I can't seem to remember anyone else playing this model of 12 string either.

As soon as you pick up a 12 string you would instinctively play Mr Tambourine Man and Beatle songs and in later years Hotel California then you would run out of suitable songs for it.  I never bought one  because it's expense was wasteful, considering it's usefulness.  Once again, in 1967, Rickenbacker came up with an ingenious idea to solve that problem..

THE RICKENBACKER CONVERTIBLE
This Ricky 620/12 has a comb device which, when levered into position, hooked onto the high set of strings and pulled them down, leaving you to play it as a normal six string guitar.  I can't say it's attractive in any sense and it's mechanics seem to be a bit Heath Robinson but apparently it worked effectively.  This would be a good guitar to have in a collection.
Ricky 12 string  Convertible with Damping Lever
This comb fitting was available on the the 360/12 too between 67 and 1970.
So if you see one, snap it up, it's only going to become rarer and rarer, a real keeper.
NASHVILLE TUNING
These days I do have a 12 string acoustic with a pick up fitted, just to have that sound available if something suitable ever comes along when I'm writing, or maybe to use in company with friends.  I have to say that it is my least used guitar of all.

If you had a mind to want to record a twelve string sound but don't have the dosh to get one then you could try using a spare guitar and change all the strings to use what is known as Nashville Tuning.  After removing all your strings, replace them, starting from the high E with the following strings

010 Plain
014 Plain
009 Plain
012 Plain
018 Plain
027 Wound
nashville strung guitar

Then tune your guitar as follows:
First two strings E and B as normal
then the remainder of the strings are tuned as normal (GDAE) only ONE OCTAVE higher so you'll really have to wind up the tuners and use an electronic tuner if you have one.   The result is very pretty and if, when recording, you overdub a normally tuned guitar with the nashville tuned one, you will have the 12 string sound.  It also sounds nicely different played on it's own.


SPRECHEN SIE DEUTSCHE?
Tanya Day, Raucous Brummie singer during the early 60's was backed by The Beatles at the Star Club, now that's living the dream eh?.   Several Brummie bands sought their fame and fortune in Germany, probably in the hope of emulating The Beatles success.

So here's a call to all you people who went to Germany during the 60?s, playing those interminably long hours for little money but improving as a band and experiencing life outside of Birmingham for the first time.    Brian Nicholls,
Brumbeat guitarist and music historian is writing an e book about the 60's and is looking for contributions and stories from those of you who went on the overnight ferry to Hamburg or one of the many other German destinations that Brummie bands played at.  If you have photos that would be even better!!

Here's a great chance to get your fifteen minutes of fame and keep your history alive.  

You can contact Brian at: Briannicholls846@BTInternet.com

HOLLICK AND TAYLOR FINDS
Had a comment from Jeff King saying that he has got two private Hollick and Taylor 78 rpm recordings (Goodness gracious that's going back some!!).   They have the H and T yellow label with two hand written titles on one of them, 'Home Sweet Home' and the other, a strange title here
 ' Just a Wearing For You'.   

The second 78 has nothing written on it at all and there are no marks in the dead wax either.    So if you were the person or band and recorded either of these pressings, although I can't imagine anyone saying
"Yes, I was on the second??"
I know Jeff would love to hear from you on 0121 3730394.


FINALLY.
JACK BRUCE
A fond farewell to Jack Bruce, I'm glad I was alive to enjoy him.
...............
Special Christmas Blog next Month and only 54 shopping days till Christmas.

OK you guys, I'm off to continue knocking out the living room fireplace, I left Mrs Bob barrowing out the rubble whilst I came in to 'touch the blog up a little'.   
I know she's had a recent injury but really, if I don't keep an eye on her she slows down to a dead stop.    She's made up her own work chant though, I can hear her singing it now....."Oomebak....Oomebak....oomebak!".   How inventive she is.  Where's my guitar? I'll see if I can come up with some music to go with her lyrics.

Toodle Ooooo!
Bob

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Contact  Bobsbullocks@GMail.com


Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Bulls Head Bob Oct 2014. RINGWAY MUSIC, THE BEGINNING. BRUMMIES ABROAD REUNITED, DEAR JOHN. THE SATELLITES AND THE YAMPS.

Watcha Brummies,

Well the old 'cyber box thing' has been repaired and although I lost a load of stuff I am now able to re-enter my man cave and dive, delve and rummage about once more into the grubby little world of the Brumbeat days when men were men, women hadn't burned their bras' and thousands of spotty youths congregated in garages and front rooms to get together with their new-fangled electric guitars, guaranteed to annoy the neighbours.    Those were the days when there were thousands of jobs available and only a few people had a car, most of which were manufactured in Birmingham, but now we seem to have gone from one extreme to another.  No jobs, millions of cars, and only a handful made in Brum.    

Electric guitars still exist but fewer spotty youths are playing them, probably because the garages are full of cars.

Longbridge, the home of Brminghams automotive industry has now
disappeared and has been replaced with some more attractive buildings and restaurants and the area is being landscaped to include a large leisure park.   I was there the other night and I have to say that although I bemoan the loss of all Birminghams industry and jobs, the Longbridge plant that echoed to the sounds of Red Rob encouraging everyone to strike was a real eyesore.

RINGWAY MUSIC The Beginning
One highlight of my 'spotty youth' days was the opening of a small music shop on Colmore Circus called Ringway Music.   The shop had been opened by a group of musicians who were the 'trio' accompanying organist, Jerry Allen. They were drummer Lionel Rubin, bassist Ken Ingarfield and Vibraphone player, Alan Grahame and they were the resident band on ATV's daily show 'Lunch Box' and were the first TV celebrities I had met, there was also a flautist named George, whose surname I can't remember,who had a natural sense of pitch and you could ask him to give you an E for example and he would simply hum it, quite a trick .   They were all real nice guys and were very generous towards us all, not only with advice.   With this kind of attitude the shop soon became  the focus of attention and it wasn't too long before they moved to much larger premises further down the road.       
LtoR Jerry Allen, Alan Grahame, Lionel Rubin, Ken Ingarfield
The above picture taken at the ATV studio on Broad Street portrayed them like old fashioned, regimented cabaret musos to us young budding musicians who were just beginning to listen to the Blues and thinking we had it all and the music we played was radical, how naive we were.   However, during my very early youth I had listened to all the great 'Big Bands' on the radio, one of my favourites and certainly one of my Mothers, was Nat Gonella and his Georgians who had first been formed way back in 1937 but had been through many transformations by the time I got to hear them as
The Nat Gonella Band and subconciously, this band influenced my musical direction performing songs like Hesitation Blues.  

The outstanding song though that, above all others, made me like them was 'Georgia on My Mind', still one of my favourites and I was blown away to discover that Lionel Rubin had been Gonellas drummer.  I held him in high esteem, he was truly brilliant.

At the time of the opening I was in a group that was playing all the well known venues and everyone who came into the shop on the opening day signed the ceiling and we were one of those, quite an honour back then, I thought.

Of course the 'Godfather of  Brummie 60's Guitarists' the
Pete Oliver (second from left)
brilliant Pete Oliver worked there also.   I had a great relationship with Pete over the ensuing years and, although no longer with us, I think of him often.
I'm glad he turned Jeff Lynne down when asked to join ELO, it would have been a waste of his considerable talent.   
DEAR JOHN - WHAY AYE PET!
Last month I mentioned my small part in the getting together of Johnny Neal and Paul Carter but John Woodhouse, Editor of BRUMBEAT, has also helped to cybernetically reunite Norm Crandles, a regular on this blogs 'Brummies Abroad' slot and a friend he met from Newcastle many moons ago.

In the early 60's Norm, was better known as Lee Stevens
Lee and Satellites
with his band The Satellites and he received a letter simply addressed to The Satellites, Birmingham. In those days the post office would actually get letters to people with such a sparse address as this.   There was only one thing wrong, this letter was from the girlfriend of a guy called Peter Johnson who was the bass guitarist with The Satelites, with one 'L' from Newcastle and happened to be on tour in Birmingham at the same time!

Geordie Satelites Peter Johnson far right

Norm opened the letter to get a return address which started a chain of correspondence, he then sent Peter and Pat  a copy of Midland Beat which featured his version of The Satellites. 
Pat with Maggie Crandles at The Elbow Room
This resulted in Norm inviting Peter and his girlfriend Pat down to Brum for a week and he took them out to see the sights and also to see some of the many bands 
at places such as Chateau Impney including Danny King and the Mayfair Set.
So impressed was Peter with the Brummie scene that he considered moving to Brum permanently and when he married his girlfriend Pat they ended up having their honeymoon at Norms place!!

Norm and Peter last saw each other in 1966 at New Street Railway Station, (co-incidentally the place where J Neal and P Carter recently met up)
New Street Farewell 1966
when he waved them off back to Newcastle and later that same year Norm and his wife Maggie moved out to Canada. 


Fast forward to 2013, Peter who now lives in Portugal found himself in the company of some old Brummie musicians who got around to talking about some of the early Brummie bands i.e Danny King and The Mayfair Set, Chris Kefford etc etc.   A day on the internet brought up BRUMBEAT.Net and with a Dear John email to John Woodhouse he managed to get hold of Norm and sent him a surprise New Years Greeting EMail on 1 Jan 2014. 

They are now in contact and, although they are much farther apart than when they first made contact, they are looking forward to meeting up one day to reminisce about their good old days.... it really does show what a brilliant thing the Internet is and also what a valued service John Woodhouse provides for us 'old and bold' Brumbeat musos and music aficionados.  So thanks John.  

Norm Crandles "It was a great start to 2014 for me, getting back in touch with Geordie Pete has really squared the circle for me, if only by EMail" 

THE YAMPS REUNION
A brilliant little R&B band of the 60's, The Yamps featured heavily on the circuits of Birmingham, The Black Country and The Potteries and had a great following.

The last 'Brummie Abroad', Will Hammond, recently made a flying visit to Brum to re-unite with his old Yamps and Traction cohorts Bob Styler and Malcolm Palmer.    "I hadn't seen these guys for around 50 years and although it was just an overnight stop we met up for dinner and managed to cram in many happy stories of our beginnings and the various gigs we did" said Will.
THE YAMPS CIRCA 1964  L to R Leigh Higgnson, Tony Walters, Bob Styler, Will Hammond, Malcolm Palmer


The Yamps  2014.  L to R Malcolm Palmer, Bob Styler, Will Hammond

"In fact, it was such a nice experience, we met up again the day after for lunch out at The Bluebell at Earlswood before I had to leave, we had some great food and got to relate a few more war stories. To be back in each others company was a fabulous experience for us all, it was so successful that Bob bought all the beers!!  I was last in the UK in 2004 for The Uglys re-union and never managed to get to see these two marvellous guys at that time, I'm really happy I got to see them this time around."   Bob and Malcolm are still active on the Birmingham music scene and Will is playing out in Spain.

FINALLY
So there we are, full of coal and with a good head of steam now pouring out of the Cyber Box Thing, the Bulls Head Bob Blog is back on the rails.  

So, see you next month.

Cheers
Bob

Copyright:  Bulls Head Bob
Contact:  Bobsbullocks@GMail.com







Saturday, 6 September 2014

Bulls Head Bob Sep 2014. Dear Auntie Bob, Park Les Paul Guitar, UK National Drum Fair

What Ho Brummies,

I'm in Manchester at the moment on my travels and was informed by Mrs Bob that the computer had crashed and burned the day before publishing date.
It appears to have taken most of my stuff with it but is under scrutiny by cheapo computer fixers, Bodgit and Scarper to see if they can get it all back together.  The main story, as advertised last month will now unfortunately be re-scheduled as I try to find the pictures to go with it.   

In the meantime 

Dear Auntie Bob
One of the benefits of writing this blog is to put old friends in contact with one another it was a delight for me to try to organise a meeting between Johnny Neal and ex Brumbeats and Starliners saxophonist Paul Carter, old mates from various musical encounters in Brum.  They both have houses on the Cape of South Africa but neither knew that.  Paul flits between London and SA on a regular basis and Johnny, although once a permanent SA resident, just holidays there from his home in Birmingham. 

I had been a kind of go-between informing each of them when the other party would be present either in SA or in the UK but there was always a clash between their whereabouts.  I'm pleased to have received the picture below, just yesterday in fact, of the two of them meeting up at, of all places, Birmingham Railway Station!





UK National Drum Fair
Just to let you 'skin bashers' know that the annual drum fair will be held on 27 and 28 September in Kings Heath.   I won't be there, my ears can't take it.


I've just noticed at the bottom of the programme 'EXTREME SPORT DRUMMING'.....mind boggling to say the least.


PARK
Park amplification is as Brummie as it gets, manufactured specially for Jones and Crossland music shop and in essence, Park was Marshall in different clothes and was just as good in my humble opinion.   I used this kit every night for years and only suffered the occasional break down.  I hope to do a more in depth story in the future but here's something of an oddity that I can't even remember

PARK LES PAUL
I guess this was introduced by Jones and Crossland during the British Blues phase and despite being a regular J and C visitor when I would play most of the guitars they had on the wall, as was the case then, I can't recall ever seeing one of them.   There were an awful lot of Les Paul type guitars going around at that time though.

At 126 guineas this wasn't a cheap guitar for it's day.

If you have one of these they must have a hefty price tag attached to them as Park is now very, very collectible!!

FINALLY
Once again, sorry for the delay but technology isn't always our best friend.

Take Care
Bob
copyright Bullsheadbob
Contact:  Bobsbullocks@gmail.com

Friday, 1 August 2014

BULLS HEAD BOB AUG 2014. 'POP GEAR' - GROUP VANS OF THE 60'S... BURNS BALDWIN BABY BISON. MIKE BURNEY

Howdoo, you Lucky People,

An habitual truant, on balmy summer days I would laze under the shade of a tree in the nearby park, with my Bells of Surbiton Guitar Catalogue or any of the other advertising blurb I had on electric guitars and dream away the days. The naivete of youth, combined with absolute self belief was predominant in those who thought about 'leaving the garage' to become a music star.

Success didn't arrive for most but there was one thing for sure, it was still a great thrill and experience to play with other people in a group situation, learning all those classic songs and instrumentals.  The first night my group learned 'You really Got Me' was brilliant, we played it all night, time after time just enjoying the pure magic of that song with it's simplistic riff.  We were laughing with excitement and I was certain that music could be an escape from the factories of Tyseley, that grind of 8 till 5 and the smell of cooking from the Golden Wonder crisp factory didn't hold much of a future for me.   
'POP' GEAR
It was all such great fun, getting together to make music and earning a bit of money too, you were sure that you were better than the group you saw last week at the Youth Club!!    A little later on you discover that being in a group means a lot more than just playing the music, if you want to play anywhere, you immediately have transport problems and a search would have to begin to find someone with a van who would take you to the gig and hopefully come back and pick you up at the end of the night for a couple of quid!   We had our share of 'one night' drivers with assorted vans.

A point, arrives though when you have to get your own van.....which of course is just more expense to be deducted from your gig money.

The reality of it all was though, those group vans were absolutely great and we had some incredible fun.   I think I must have driven the entire length and breadth of the UK several times over, in various vehicles back when we played every night, so here's a very brief trip down memory lane.

THAMES TRADER
The most popular van of the early sixties by far was the 15 hundredweight 12, seater, Thames Trader

a real stunner this, built by Ford, really spacious inside with 12 seats.  The Beatles and Brummie band The Conchords had one just like this I recall.  The majority of the vans though, were the enclosed type like this one below   
and some bands had their names painted down the sides.

I came across this great Ford promotional Youtube clip called BAND WAGON and it's worth a watch if you want to get a taste of yesteryear.... and particularly this vehicle.
Click the picture below to play

COMMER
The Move's first van, I seem to recall was a white Commer similar to this one below, The Uglys too had one but with a built-up roof:

Exceptionally comfortable, great all round vision and a bench seat across the front.  I think it used to 'roll' around a bit though when fully loaded.

There was a similar looking van from the Morris group (British Leyland) that also enjoyed some of those features and that was the great 

MORRIS J2


J2
The J2 was a great van and it could hold all your kit, the band
plus 'guests'.  We had a regular van owner/driver who had a large family and would make up his wages carting us around, poor sod had to keep washing off the lipstick after every gig, during the 'screaming phase', deep down though I think he quite liked the attention he got. 
It was also another van used by The Conchords. 

Not every band was as fortunate to have a man with a van and there were many strange and sundry vehicles transporting would be musical heroes around the UK. There were also the novelty type vehicles, The Undertakers who travelled in a hearse and Brums The Yamps with their ambulance which soon got adopted by several other bands. 

I think our first van was from an auction and cost 12 quid!
12 quid special!
It was an ex bakers van and  I remember getting in it for the first time and still smelling bread.  It only lasted about two weeks before the smell of bread was replaced by burning oil!! it gave up the ghost but at least we had bought our first transport.  

Of course we were all awaiting the arrival of the best group van ever made, the immaculate
FORD TRANSIT

What a brilliant van this was! and it was very stylish too, for it's day.   With the advent of much, much bigger amplifiers, the old Thames Trader sized vehicle was too small and Ford introduced the most iconic of band transport, it was a real gift from the Gods and it ran and ran and ran with hardly any work done on it.  I say that from the point of view of being the guitar player rather than the roadie, for all I know he was perpetually under the damned thing.   I miss those days of travelling around
in a Transit though.  That will never happen again, I'm sure that, in the 60's after 11 o'clock at night the only traffic on the M1 going between Brum and London was vans full of groups.  We had ours fitted out with a comfy 3 seater settee in the back and a nice 12 inch speaker to listen to the radio with and we also discovered that you could reach under the dashboard and use the windscreen heater hose to dry your hair with too. 

The Transit also came in a long wheel base, 30cwt variant, which is what most of the more successful bands ended up with. 
THE NOT SO POPULAR


Bedford CA
The smaller Bedford van of the day was this model, the Bedford CA.  It was used by Brummie blues band The Blueshounds
An ugly, pug nosed contraption with sliding doors.  Only two could sit in front and it was incredibly cramped in the back, not really the ideal sized group van. We would generally sit on the amps, rather than a cold floor.  If you owned your own van you would have put in a small sofa or made a bench seat to put behind the driver.  The one good thing about this van was the engine cover was in between the two front seats so it was always warm!

I was prompted to do this bit on vans because of a picture I'd included in last months blog featuring The Fleetwoods  who had taken their name from the beautifully elegant Cadillac Fleetwood

I remarked on what appeared to be the rear part of their van in the background and Brian Nicholls sent another picture showing it in all it's glory.   It's clearly a 1950's Bedford Light commercial and it probably had HM Prison Service painted on the side of it in a previous life. 

Brian told me it cost 20 quid.  And as you can see, it's as streamlined as a brick.  It is the very antithesis of the Fleetwood that the group named themselves after.    What must the punters have thought when they saw this rolling up? 
  
THE FLEETWOODS  copyright B Nicholls


The photo is great too, obviously not from the photographic aspect but, just whose idea was it to park on a random patch of mud for a photo op? "Ar, we'll look bostin' standin in mud and let's get the van in too,  it's sleek beauty says who we are".   I've just noticed that it had 'suicide doors' so it's similarity to a hearse is spooky.
For the keen eyed musicians, you will see that the bassist is playing in C, Brian in E and the rhythm guitarist in F7.  This must have been taken by the bass players Dad cause he's the only one in focus.  

If you think that this Bedford was dreadful, I've saved the best for last and I make no apologies for featuring The Inca's van again.

MORRIS J



Yes, here it is, The Incas with their Morris J.  This vehicle was designed in 1939 and produced up to 1951.   As mentioned earlier, some bands painted their name on the side, The Incas painted their van with a yellow man balancing on a little yellow boys head whilst throwing a hoop over a hedgehog on a log and it appears to read The Oincas.  I think it's only the paint that's holding the van together.   

So there you are, a little taster of those old wagons, goodness me those were the days.

BALDWIN (BURNS) BABY BISON

With the world being filled to capacity with cheap Chinese 'knock offs'
anyone can own their dream guitar, visually at least, for a couple of hundred pounds or dollars and it's not a lie that some of these guitars really look the biz.  But should you wish to own a genuine classic guitar as an investment, can you trust sales of advertised original Stratocaster or Les Paul dinosaur classics any longer, I think it's risky business.

If you are clever though, you would go about your business looking for those classic guitars slightly down the price category and one that I would consider buying is this little beauty!

   What a cracker of a guitar, 1965, the height of the beat generation, brilliant condition.  A scaled down version of the grotesque lavatory pan that was the Black Bison, this is a stylish guitar and looks beautiful front and back.  Red and Black and fitted with their own REZO-TUBE tremolo and beautiful V shaped headstock it just looks so well put together, very nice indeed.

What's more significant in showing the collectible value of this guitar is is that some guy in the States is selling the small plastic name badge from the headstock of a Baby Bison and the asking price is 100 bucks simply for that!!



It appears to be in beautiful nick, so you could always ask some questions and then you could stick it in a glass case if you just wanted to admire it's beautiful space age looks.  This is the type and make of guitar that will become a real collectors item.

It's for sale on Ebay, with a buy-it-now price of 999 pounds.  These, my friends are few and far between.  The sale finishes on 12 August.   Better than money in the bank.  If I had a grand to spare and I was satisfied with some answers, this would be mine.
MIKE BURNEY
Disappointed to report that ex-Wizzard ace sax player Mike Burney is very poorly at the moment. A note to his friends......Knowing that people care enough about you is a tonic for the soul and it doesn't cost anything more than a little of your time.

FINALLY...
Next month.  'Dear John' a letter to BRUMBEAT'S John Woodhouse reunites mates from 1962 with a great background story.

Take care,
Bob

Copyright:  Bullsheadbob
Contact:  Bobsbullocks@Gmail.com