Tuesday, 1 July 2014

BULLS HEAD BOB July 2014. AT LAST!!!! THE FLEETWOODS. MISSED OPPORTUNITIES - CHRISTINE PERFECT AND MALCOLM PALMER. SHORTAGE OF BRITISH SPERM???? SURELY NOT.

Hiya Brummies, Brumettes and Other Friends around the globe,

THE FLEETWOODS
Here we have a 60's group from all around the Brum area, that is Perry Barr, Great Barr and Bordesley Green.   They are a group that never achieved any dizzy heights of recognition but they and a thousand bands like them were the essence and backbone of the Brumbeat scene and equally as important as any other band that was around then.   I can well imagine that they played with great fire and enthusiasm and would have gone down well at the places they played.  The line up of this band was from left to right, Brian Nicholls, Lead Guitar, Vic Jarvis, Bass and lead vocal, Ray Green, Drums and Dave Crewdson, Rhythm Guitar......
So  ladies and gents, a round of applause if you will for The Fleetwoods

I'm just guessing here but this photo was probably taken around 1962/3 as there doesn't appear to be any Beatles influenced hairstyles apart from the bass player, but naturally being a bassist meant he was the 'odd' one anyway. I have no idea what message was trying to be conveyed here but I do
think it's a great photo. 
The Fleetwoods
The introduction of the electric guitar created a freak of the times and spawned a group on every street in the West Midlands, it was quite extraordinary.   The Fleetwoods are the perfect example of how bands evolved then.  They were the musical youth of the day who spent their time at endless practise sessions, striving to get some 'better' gigs, or 'bookings' as they were known.  

I imagine their name came from the 'in vogue' collection of bands whose names were associated with cars, The Corvettes, The Vipers etc etc. 

I had a band that I named after my own car but for some reason The 1955 Side-Valve Hillman Huskys never really had that yankee ring to it.

With a band playing in practically every pub and dance hall three times a week, on average, it was a real 'industry' and record shops, clothes shops, guitar shops and van salesmen did a roaring trade off the back of these young men and this group of young men did the normal round of gigs.  If you were good enough there were plenty of places to play too,
albeit for about 10 pounds a night between four, it doesn't sound much but was certainly enough to equip yourself with some reasonably sounding budget kit similar to the three Hofners above.  In their day The Fleetwoods would have looked good on stage with their matching guitars, amps and stage outfits as was the norm for bands then. 

They played on the Ma Regan circuit and supported The Redcaps and also The Searchers during the height of their fame.  

What interested me, more than a little, is their old set list.


When I first saw it, it was like looking at a piece of my past also because, with a couple of exceptions, I must have learnt or played every one of those songs and probably every other Brummie band had practically the same sort of set.   Interestingly, they included 'World without Love' by Peter and Gordon?? this song appears to be the most modern, but bizarre amongst the other rockers, which
Crackin van in the background?
Brian Nicholls 2nd left
would date this list to 1964, right in the thick of the beat music phase, loads of Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis songs that would have had the girls dancing plus some Screaming Lord Sutch, Larry Williams and the wonderful John Lee Hooker's 'Dimples'.   


There is one song in the set that has always been a favourite of mine too and that is "Thats What I Want" by The Marauders, from Stoke on Trent and was written by Brums own Carter-Lewis songwriters

The list is also indicative of how the music scene was changing then.  It still contained some Shadows instrumentals, a bit of a musical throw back to when playing instrumentals was expected because The Shads had been such an influence but were now being considered yesterdays news.

I don't think I ever actually saw The Fleetwoods but I certainly saw hundreds of other bands, all with practically the same set list who were great little bands, enjoying their music and hoping for stardom.  You all worked hard trying to achieve the dream, proud of the band you were in.   The dance halls and pubs were generally full at that time too so you always had a reasonable sized audience to play to.   I'm pleased that I can feature them here. 
brian nicholls today!


The City of Birmingham and it's sprawling suburbs were full of live music and every Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday night a band, just like The Fleetwoods would be setting up their equipment to belt out that set list in some smoke filled, stale-beer smelling dance hall or bar.  I can tell you, it was just the greatest time of our young lives.  My thanks go to Brian Nicholls for sending me the above photos.   He is still active on the music scene with a couple of projects.

Competition was tough then and only the tough or the ruthless survived to make it. 

CHRISTINE PERFECT 
AND MALCOLM PALMER
Myself and the gang at the boozer were talking about the Gordon Jackson blog I did 2 months ago, specifically about missed chances of musical fame when Malcolm Palmers missed opportunity story reared it's head.

Although not born in Brum, Christine Perfect grew up in Birmingham, Bearwood to be precise.  Having musical parents it was inevitable that she too would be pulled in that direction.   She was in her teens when the music of the Blues first started to be heard.   It was an obvious magnet for her and her soulful bluesy voice.   She of course was also a very good pianist too.

When Stan Webb formed Chicken Shack she contacted him and asked if she could join the band.
Chicken Shack
Indeed you could see the group playing at various gigs around Brum, a very good band indeed.  At the same time Malcolm Palmer
a veteran of the Beat scene with The Yamps, was now playing Sax in a band called 'The Fashion', also a good Brummie band, who were playing good gigs all over the country and could have been a big act.
Malc had been at Moseley School of Art along with Christine and they would bump into each other occasionally in the City.   

One night The Fashion were playing at a gig in Moseley Village when he saw her and the rest of Chicken Shack in the audience.   Their record "I would rather go Blind" had been released, had charted and they were now enjoying the fruits of their labours. 
Malcolm Palmer

After the gig Christine came over to talk to Malc and said that the band were very interested in him joining them, and that they were shortly embarking on a tour of the USA,  Malc said "Sorry, I can't do it, I'm playing with my friends". He was confident that with his own bands current tie-up with an important Agent in Birmingham, their future was on the rise.  

It was just a week or so later that the guitarist with The Fashion, always one for the women, decided it would be a great idea to shag the daughter of the bands agent.....!! Mr Agent found out and he dropped the band in an instant saying "You'll never work in this City again".    Malc, along with the rest of the band was devastated, then remembering the offer from Christine, he discovered which aeroplane they were leaving on for the States and turned up at Birmingham Airport with his Saxophone and his bags packed and when they arrived at the terminal he talked to them trying to convince them to take him with them. 

They said no. 

It's a sad story of missed fortune but is one that has been, and will continue to be, repeated over and over again with of course different personalities in differing situations.  The real message to musicians is that you have to take these golden opportunities by the horn and sometimes though you feel like you're letting your band mates down these 'windows to fame' are few and far between.   The same sort of thing had happened to me twice and I still find myself thinking, "I should have" but by then, it's history.....that boat has sailed.

HIGH CLASS WANKERS WANTED
It has recently been reported in the British Press that there is a drastic shortage of good quality sperm in the UK and UK clinics are importing Sperm from the USA and Denmark....DENMARK!!!!  of all places? Don't they know that those arseholes have banned Marmite??  

Anyway, I'm absolutely amazed there's a supposed shortage because I know of thousands of Wankers in Birmingham alone???.  I know one who could supply the national bank on his own.  

However, there are some excluded from donating and those are bankers, solicitors and politicians.  They can only donate their sperm to aquariums and ponds where they can produce even more bottom feeders and leeches.

Have a nice holiday you guys, it's July and I'm looking forward to some lazy afternoons. 

Toodle Pip

Bob
copyright:  Bullsheadbob
contact:  Bobsbullocks@gmail.com 

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Bulls Head Bob Jun 2014 - MRS BOB INJURED, RANDY LERNER PUTS VILLA UP FOR SALE. UPGRADING YOUR CHEAPO TELECASTER INTO SOMETHING GREAT FOR UNDER 50 POUNDS!!

Owdoo Brummies and Mates Across the World,

NEWS FROM THE HOMEFRONT
Here in 'Blog Villas' life has been turned on it's head.   Mrs Bob
is injured, she fell over and has broken her wrist and dislocated her knee,
she was in ample amounts of pain that would have made even Jeff Astle cry and she has been a real hero throughout.  I have now been promoted to taking care of the house and the cooking...............piece of piss this housekeeping lark Lucy keeps going on about, what does worry me though is, I just don't know how long it will be before she can use that new wheelbarrow I bought for her anniversary present??

I can see it out of the window from here, it's still full of water from when it rained  a fortnight ago and I think she's out of action for another five weeks so I hope it doesn't rust by then!!   Needless to say, everything, including this here blog has suffered so I am here in the early hours of 31 May rattling this thing off just so I have something to offer.
My apologies.....normal service will be resumed following my current nursing duties.

FROM CHEAPO TELECASTER TO A DREAM FOR AROUND 50 POUNDS!!
IRONSTONE PICK UPS

"It just can't be done!" you're thinking, and up to now I would have been there agreeing with you.  Can 50 quid make such a difference? the answer is yes, I'm quite amazed and because of that I want to pass this on to you lucky
Bobs Blog readers.  

It was not long ago that I talked about the financial plight of updating the piss poor electrics inside a Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster.  They are a disaster, with both my and my mates CV Tele's electrics breaking down at the same time.  He replaced his with the DiMarzio Solderless tele set, which I fitted, and it certainly did make a world of difference but at 200 quid a pop, it's a lot to spend in addition to the cost of buying the guitar in the first place.   

One day whilst roaming about on some random internet pages I came across a comment that had been left on some Telecaster forum or other talking about pick up replacements and the name 'Ironstone' came to my attention and it said that the brand was a British guy from Rutland, marketing telecaster pick ups that he'd designed himself that had varying heights of the poles in the bridge pick up which particularly interested me.   What delighted me the most though was the price.....24.95 for the bridge pick up, a snippet.   I thought,
"This simply can't be true and even if it was, the quality must be very bad?"  However, at that price it was definitely worth a gamble so I ordered one through EBay.

CONTROL PLATE
Well I'd found a new, bargain priced, pick up but what about the control plate?  The one that came fitted to the guitar was thin metal, badly assembled and as the three-way switch had ceased to function after only two weeks and the tone control was practically no more than a decoration so there seemed little point in trying to repair the defective components.   I went looking for a complete replacement.

Now I am sodding useless at soldering so I always look for the easiest option to lessen the misery of working with electrics....off to EBay I went looking for an affordable pre-wired control plate.  It wasn't long before I came across this model advertised at 13.99, I sent off for it the same day as the pick up.

Both items arrived in short time which was nice.   The control plate had been well packed for postage which I applaud and on inspection it is a nice solid piece of hardware and the control knobs feel sturdy.  


A lot of folk feel daunted at the thought of doing these jobs but it really is quite easy and will save you a lot of dosh.  

These days we are blessed to have YouTube where you can source any advice you could ever think of and there are several clips relating to soldering pick ups to telecaster control plates which I used because Black Dog neither supply you with fitting instructions or have anything available on their website for you to consult, we are not all Bass players who know what a soldering iron is you know??? it wouldn't hurt their customer relations to feature something this simple as a part of their after sales service.

Nonetheless, armed with a soldering iron,
This is a soldering Iron
some wire clippers and a screwdriver 
I set about replacing the bridge pick up, which is the most difficult of the two.

I burnt myself twice with the soldering iron but in a short time I had successfully attached the new bridge pick up and control plate - patience is the key to success, check everything twice before soldering and don't forget that soldering irons have bloody hot ends!!!

I connected a Gibson guitar to my amp and played with that for a while to get accustomed to the potency level of those powerful pick ups, I then plugged in
the Ironstone fitted Tele.........Wow!! what a great surprise, gutsy
and loud, with a bluesy driven sound!!   I had purposely only ordered the bridge pick up so I could test it against the fitted neck pick up and the difference in sensitivity was staggering,  I immediately ordered the neck pick up.
It arrived three days ago and I immediately fitted to my Squier CVibe and I wasn't disappointed with the sound.   I would say though, from a consumer viewpoint, that the chrome on the pick up cover wasn't that good compared to the fitted one but it's a small price to pay for a massive improvement in sound.   I did this upgrade for around 50 quid nwhich is brilliant these days.

There are also a broad range of Stratocaster pick ups
and fitted scratchplate assemblies, so if your Squier Strat or any budget copy for that matter sounds like its being played through a rice pudding, you could invest a little dosh and give your guitar a little Ironstone Viagra!!!!!

I don't often endorse any kind of product but these are great pick ups at a great price so I can only say that it could be an affordable option. 

You can visit the Ironstone website at.... www.ironstone-pickups.co.uk

I sourced both these items from EBay.

FOOTBALL
It was a nail biting end to the season for the City's football teams and although I am a Villa supporter and therefore still recovering from the usual
end of season panics about Premier League survival I would like to say that I am pleased that the OTHER team didn't get relegated to League One.

Well I really have to get some sleep.

See ya next month.

Bob
Copyright.  Bullsheadbob
Contact      Bobsbullocks@gmail.com

Thursday, 1 May 2014

BULLS HEAD BOB - MAY 2014 - GORDON JACKSON, DEEP FEELING, ROBERT PLANT, STEVE WINWOOD, STEVE GIBBONS. FENDER STRATOCASTER ANNIVERSARY MODELS

Howdoo Brummies,

Well here we are, back again.  It's May already and flowers are flowering
bees are a buzzin' and occasionally so am I, in a non-audio way that is.
I'm full of the joys of music and feeling pleased to have some nice friends,
all I need now is to have all of them in one place, with a BBQ, give them loads of ale and when the time's right later on, toss in the line "Thank heavens for that lovely George Osborne" and leave em' all to it, there'll be blood before midnight.

GORDON JACKSON
Once upon a time there was a group of teenagers from the Worcester area who formed a group called The Hellions
oft appearing in Brum's usual round of 60's gigs.   In the line up of that band was one Gordon Jackson who along with his band mates hammered their way through the usual type of 60's set
during the 'Beat Group' days.  Like most groups they had their ups and downs and despite recording three singles without a sniff of real success, they realised that the rapidly changing music scene required a name change so the Hellions became 'Deep Feeling', which was a musically adjusted version of The Hellions minus Dave Mason but now included Luther Grosvenor and Poli Palmer.

DEEP FEELING CHANGED MY LIFE
I was in the support band when Deep Feeling played at Hall Green Technical College during the 60's and they were ace, tremendous!!. We thought we were a good band, we were confident and always put on a good act, but after seeing and hearing them we had a serious re-think, I think we felt a bit intimidated. 

It was a great performance and they were appropriately named because they had a killer sound.  It was a bit like getting a lesson from the bigger boys. I thought they were going to be a real big band, but history is history.  Click here for the DEEP FEELING Bio by Brumbeats Editor, John Woodhouse. 
     DEEP FEELING.  
Look at that line up of dream guitars, Selmer PA cabinet at the side too for you kit freaks.
Anyway, belatedly, I'd like to say thanks to the band for the lesson!!
You did me the world of good, that was one of the experiences that made me want to be a musician even more than before.   So here I am, admittedly with a break in between but, all these years later, eternally broke, striving away still, my fingers are corrugated from all these years of practice but luckily for me I'm still playing.  

LIFE IN THE FAST LANE? In the 60's, life in a professional, hard working group wasn't all that rosy really.  I had been through thousands of band arguments, fights, disappointments, rejections, treachery, more disappointments, savage criticism's, chinese whispers, tears, heartache and more arguments however, after the second day I found myself getting into the swing of things....!   
Years later, my life in the field of music made walking through a jungle of snipers with a target tattooed on my bald head, a piece of piss.

I have an old mate who phones me out of the blue, now and again, we'll call him Crazy Malc, because that's his name - Crazy Malc, it was a mix up on his Birth Certificate.   Anyway, he phones me every time he feels a tinge of guilt, just to salve his conscience of anyone whose life he may have shagged up during his time on this planet.   I love him.  
  
You did get to play to large audiences across the country though and also in sweaty, smelly bars thick with smoke, where the heat and enthusiasm would always generate the best nights.  The 200 mile drive back to Brum wasn't always a drag because it was great for drying your sweaty clothes as you all huddled together in your Transit afterwards, smoking, absorbing the smell of the meat pie's and take-away's and dripping oil from the chips on your trousers.  We had it all didn't we?...by the time you got to the Elbow Room and met up with the other musicians there, you miraculously seemed to smell great again?  good enough anyway to put the same clothes straight back on the next day.

BACK TO DEEP FEELING.......

The band recorded an Lp that was never released and then they broke up, well when I say broke up it was more like a transfer and transmogrification of Jim Capaldi and ex Hellions Dave Mason into the best band ever to have come out of Birmingham and that band was of course TRAFFIC.   

Sadly there are always some casualties left on the battlefield of pop music and Gordon was one of those, as he saw all of his ex band members soaring up the charts with various successful groups.

Gordon, undaunted however, continued as a songwriter and made some recordings in his own right, aided and abetted by all the members of TRAFFIC with the LP itself being produced by Dave Mason.   There is a time and a place for everything in the world of music though, an immediacy, and that immediacy had slipped by leaving Jackson's really good recording practically ignored.
Thinking Back.  Great CD!!!
I call it the 'wounded soldier' effect.  I have never been able to understand it, there is something in the mental psyche that makes people think of some artists as a 'second' or as someone who cannot 'cut the mustard' because of not being included in a new project, such a strange phenomenon of us frail humans.  We have lost a load of great musicians to this effect.


Make some time to listen to Gordons CD, THINKING BACK
better still, buy it, but first click HERE to read John Woodhouse's review of this great CD.

All of the above aside, Gordon Jackson was a force and featured heavily in the 60's music scene, playing with the one of best bands around and competition was very tight then!!.   

CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME
Latterly he had turned his talented hands to the world of gardening, there is such creativity there with the blessed addition of more peace but less 'fringe benefits' of the music world.   Nonetheless, he has remained close friends with all his music mates and has recently pulled off a great coup in staging a small charity event which featured the three greatest and definitely the three coolest Brummie singers of all time whose vocal identities are recognised from the moment they open their mouths, no pictures or videos required, on one stage.

THE KINGS OF COOL
BIRMINGHAMS GREATEST VOCALISTS
ROBERT PLANT.
STEVE WINWOOD.
STEVE GIBBONS.

Robert Plant, Steve Winwood and Steve Gibbons were those three brilliant Brummie vocalists. 

Interestingly but glaringly incorrect was a piece by the Birmingham's own Evening Mail which described Winwood and Plant as vocalists and Steve Gibbons as a guitarist?, come on now??... got their finger on the pulse there, at the Evening Mail offices?  Stone me!!

However, these three amazing vocal legends, along with a panoply of Brummie muso's
and family members as a backing band, played three songs each at a small gathering at a Church in the Cotswolds where their efforts raised 5000 pounds for The Children's Society.  I just loved the fact that Steve Winwood chose to play bass, so cool and understated.  

The entrance charge was
ONE POUND!!!!!

There was something special about that line up too.......
not a Broad Street paving stone in sight, Hooray!!!!! that says something about the class of these guys.

All this however, would never have occurred if not for the great Gordon Jackson so, thanks mate. (round of applause sounding here in the bloggery).  
There is a snippet of a phone clip on Youtube somewhere.

In the shabby world of Southern Jessies, it doesn't take long for some twat to say "Birmingham!, who the fuck's from Birmingham??.......Enough said I think.  There's grit up here mate!!

FENDER STRATOCASTER 
ANNIVERSARY MODELS
1954 - 2014
I remember quite distinctly seeing my first Stratocaster and being blown away by its looks, it was like something from outer space, something futuristic about its design and there was one sure thing.....we all wanted one and those of us with parents who had a bit of dosh managed to get one, sadly that didn't include me.  History has shown that this guitar as a real icon, up there with all of the greatest designs of all time. 

If you wanted to buy one of those early Strats in 2014 you would have to fork out an incredible amount of money.   Today with all the acclaimed leaps forward in technology and electronics why it is impossible to buy a consistently well made Stratocaster like we could in the 60's?? I say the 60's because Fenders were not available in the British shops until 1962 because of post war import embargo's.   However once all that stuff was sorted out, if you were lucky you went to the music shop of your choice and bought a Fender Stratocaster and the one you bought was just the same as any other, great quality, beautiful paint job and was an instrument purchased for a lifetime of playing.  You didn't have to be a guitar nerd then, the only decision you had to make, if a Fender person was Stratocaster or Telecaster.

FENDER QUALITY 
Japanese...a thing of beauty
Thanks goodness for that, I think to myself. Today we are faced with a mind boggling complexity of trying to buy a Strat model that you could be happy with.   'Made in Mexico' China or Korea Stratocasters are sneered upon by the owners of those Made in Japan or the USA and quite rightly so, because the difference between the reliability of the electrics, on their own, is poles apart and even if you get a 'Made in the USA Strat' does that mean you are getting the top of the range instrument?   I'm sure Fender would say "of course you are".   A lot of folk I know would say that the Japanese one is superior.
My question is, should there be a difference between those made in differing countries?  the answer of course is "No", this simply shows Fenders marketing strategies and about generating corporate income.

There is no doubt that they could make a seriously great guitar as standard
but then who would want to buy another??

ANNIVERSARY MODELS
This year of course, Fender have released their
60TH ANNIVERSARY 1954 Special with a RRP price tag of 2,278 pounds but that is not the only 60th anniversary model they are selling, there is also the 'classic player' 60th anniversary model which retails at 998 pounds and even Squier have released one selling at 350 quid, they also did a 50th too. Just one glance at this 50th Squier shows it being assembled from offcuts with the tell tale striping down the length of the body.  This was advertised on Ebay for 90 pounds and didn't sell. 

You might think that you are buying a piece of history and even if you don't bother playing it, which in my opinion is a criminal act, you may think that it might be a great purchase for investment purposes but would you benefit?
I think it's a real gamble on the part of the purchaser but a win-win, clever marketing ploy by Fender releasing so many 'high end' anniversary variants of this guitar along with the Custom Shop models which are even more expensive than these.

There have already been the 40th and 50th Anniversary models and there has been a difference between the two with regard to investment.
Beautiful 60th Anniversary Stratocaster
The 50th has seen more of a consistent improvement in value whilst the 40th, which was not too well liked by nerdy Strat fans is not quite so highly valued and you could buy one off ebay for about 700 quid on a good day or I have recently seen a 'Made in Mexico' 40th anniversary go for as little as 450 pounds. The 40th has fallen in value from it's purchase price, although there are those who think it's worth a punt to advertise theirs for a couple of thousand.

All these re-issues are based on the 1954 model.    

The 40th has serial numbers on the rear of the headstock from 0001 to 1954.  You can buy a 1954 re-issue Strat at any time you like though, you don't have to wait for anniversary models to be introduced.   I read that the only difference between the two models was that the 40th came with TWO cases......WTF!!! it's just crazy stuff. 


I have watched, on EBay, a lovely looking 'Made in Japan' 1954 re-issue this week with a Buy it Now price of 530 pounds along with a multitude of 40th,50th and 60th anniversary models to see how the market forces are.   One 50th anniversary model (unplayed) sold for less than it's purchase price.  All the rest were either unsold or re-listed, but this Japanese guitar still has 4 days left so you could pick up a great bargain..

CHINESE FAKES
With price tags in the thousands it is no surprise that these models are being copied and there are plenty of great looking Chinese copies floating about that are being sold as the genuine article so you should exercise good judgement if you are thinking of getting one, especially second hand or even new on-line, take care especially if you are buying from a private source.  

These copies are convincing but valueless in real terms.  

I'VE GOT THE SHEETS!!
Here is an immediate guide what to look for when buying an advertised 50th De luxe Anniversary model.  Should you wish to read some more detailed information about what to look for when buying this guitar, then just drop me a line at Bobsbullocks@GMail.com and I'll send you
a more comprehensive sheet of 'what to look for' details, although of course this is advice only.

1.  The guitar was only produced in sunburst, no other colour variants.
2.  The wood is Maple, showing a rich pattern of grain under the cellulose.
3.  Etched 50th anniversary neck plate.
4.  Produced in 2004 only.  However, ALL 'USA made' Stratocasters during 2004 had the 50th anniversary neck plate as standard, so some people who own a Strat might be deluded into believing they have the 50th anniversary special for sale but that is not the case!  They simply have the neck plate.
  

It's minefield out there, a minefield!!!

You have been warned.    

I'd love one of these guitars I have to say,
brings back so many beautiful memories.
Mmmm Pie and chips tonight then.

If one of these is for you then good hunting, never buy in haste, be smart and help yourself not to get ripped off.

FINALLY
Two Blues supporters went fishing, when they had got settled down one of them took out a Thermos flask, the first one said. 
"What's that?"
"A Thermos, it keep hot things hot and cold things cold"
"What you got in it then?"
"Coffee and two choc ices"

Anyway you lovely people, tune in next Month......June will be busting out all over!!!

Take Care
Bob

copyright: BullsHeadBob
contact:    Bobsbullocks@GMail.com






Tuesday, 1 April 2014

BULLS HEAD BOB APR 2014 - THE ANNUAL BRUMBEAT BRUMMIES ABROAD - BUMPER EDITION

Ow Doooo...

I know this may sound a bit old hat but I really can't believe that it's been a whole year since the last Brumbeat Brummies Abroad blog, it creeps up on you doesn't it?, time, and before you know it you're another year older.   Scary stuff, I best get on with the blog before I pass away.

I can't include information on all our Brummies Abroad but will pass on what I can from those that I'm in touch with and a little info on some of those I'm not.   There's loads of them I guess, including my ukulele playing Auntie Doreen, last heard of canoeing up the Orinoco.  

BRUMMIES ABROAD

GRAHAM ASHFORD - BRUMBEATS
It's been a miserable winter so let's get ourselves warmed up a bit and jet off to the shores of Hawaii to call on Graham Ashford aka Bobby Ash or Buddy Ash but most of all known as the front man of The Brumbeats.  
(copyright Graham Ashford)
Look at this brilliant photo!  Graham in his Buddy Ash days looking very Gene Vincent with his drape jacket, white socks and turn ups. Couple of nice old Burns sonic guitars and an early Stratocaster and although the photo is in black and white we all know that it was red.


This year sees the 50th Anniversary of the Beatles first LP.   It is also the 50th Anniversary of The Brumbeats, who Graham was the vocalist for, recording an LP of Beatles songs and having it released under the name of The Merseyboys, not a group to miss opportunities of timely name changes.

"There is a load of coverage going on in the USA about The Merseyboys LP even though we were Brummies simply because it was about at the same time."  Those vinyl collectors out there will note that it is also on the VJ label which adds to its collectability

It is pertinent to note that Graham spends half of the year in Hawaii and
Graham Ashford
the other in
 California.  Graham is currently in California and has recently put on his Hawaiian concert in his home town,Temecula.   

Graham is planning a trip back to Birmingham to celebrate his 70th birthday in April.  So if you're an old mate of Grahams he's gonna be buying the drinks.  If you want to make contact with Graham to see whilst he's back in the City simply email me and I'll try and get you in touch.     



BILL BONHAM - OBS TWEEDLE 
Great organist, well great all round musician, Bill Bonham continues to live a nice life in the sunny hills of California and as usual Bill sent me some fotos of his latest visit to NAMM, probably the best music exhibition there is and just like last year, Bill bumped into old Black Country mate Glen Hughes ex Finders Keepers and Trapeze.  
Glen Hughes with Bill Bonham
For those of you who have a Deep Purple interest, Glen will be performing at the Jon Lord memorial concert at the Albert Hall on Friday 4 April so if you wanna get a ticket best get on the phone now!!

Bill also had the undeniable pleasure of meeting up with the amazing Rachel Flowers, simply a phenomenal keyboard player.
Bill Bonham and Rachel Flowers

For those of you who know Bill it won't have gone un-noticed that he is a shadow of his former self and over the year has lost an amazing 67 pounds!!
I haven't shown this photo to Mrs Bob as she'll be on my back to get me jogging again.  Can't deny that Bill is looking good though.  

ROBERT PLANT
This year also saw the release of a book on Robert Plant where Bill and few other Brumbeat personalities added some interviews about the man.   If that wasn't enough this year also saw the CD release of Bills ex band, Fairfield Ski which met with some good reviews.   
NORM CRANDLES - LEE STEVENS AND THE SATELLITES
The cold and windy country of Canada is home to Norm Crandles, formerly
Lee Stevens, vocalist for one of Brums early bands The Satelites.
Norm isn't active on the music scene anymore but has sent me some nice photos that should bring back some memories for some of you guys.

Here we have a nice early photo , it's plain to see that this band got plenty of work, you only have to look at the quality of their kit to know that.   A fairly rare Guild on the left, never the most popular of guitars.


Lee Stevens and The Satelites copyright Norm Crandles
Now here's a rarity, a photo inside a gig.  This shot was obviously taken before the first one above as they had lesser guitars, Hofner V2 and a Burns sonic bass and there's a drum kit for you!!!  Personnel of this variant of Lee Stevens and The Satellites comprises, from front to back, Roger Gauntlett, Barrie Gray, Tony Green and Mal Priddy.

I had no idea from the backdrop where it was taken but Norm tells me it was taken inside Alex Hoopers on the Stratford Road.  I remotely remember it, it was situated in between The Star Ballroom and The Mermaid.  To my knowledge there were definitely 2 more venues close by as well, so there were 5 gigs in less than 200 yards of one road, during the Brumbeat heyday...incredible!!
Lee Stevens and his 'Smokin' Jacket

Norm.  "When I first saw Carl Wayne wearing a white jacket I had to have one and this was the night I wore it.  During the show I took it off and our manager folded it and laid it across the edge of the stage, unfortunately he also laid it over a stage light too and a few minutes later it caught fire".   I also bought a Shure microphone which was very trebley, to try to make me sound like Danny King, sadly it didn't work".

Lee Stevens and The Satellites were a group that played the whole circuit in Brum and shared the stage with a host of famous faces
during the day.

Norm made his escape to Canada back in 1966.  Although it sounds great to live overseas we tend to forget that it doesn't mean you are showered with the suns rays all day long whilst sipping a
long iced drink on your porch.   This is what Norm woke up to this morning:



and you thought it was cold in Stirchley??

WILL HAMMOND - 
THE UGLY´S
Will Hammond
Back to Europe and over to Spain to visit The Ugly's great guitarist, Will Hammond.  The Uglys were a 'benchmark band' and like most of the other members of this memorable Brummie band, Will is still very active and popular on the music scene with The Will Hammond Band in Spain, performing regularly at a large variety of venues including a huge benefit concert to raise money for the Philippines tragedy.

On top of his concert commitments Will and
(copyright Woody Amores)
his band have been and still are, busy recording a new CD of Wills material, he has made several TV and radio performances through the year including a type of "Desert Island Discs" talk show where he 
talked about his favourite selection of music, films and books.

"It was incredibly daunting because I had to speak for an hour and a half totally in Spanish which isn't easy even when you're relaxed, let alone having the pressure of a live radio show". 

"As well as playing large gigs we also play some of the smallest I've experienced but with some of the greatest atmosphere's too.
It's just so nice to play some good concerts to appreciative audiences".  
(The Will Hammond Band at Oveja Negra...copyright Will Hammond)
HIS ROYAL JEFFNESS - JEFF LYNNE
Jeff Lynne breezed into Brum the other night to collect a decorated paving slab to go with the one he was awarded in Hollywood, California.  When I say he breezed into town I meant he was dropped off at the Birmingham Library to collect his paving slab for the Broad Street Walk of Fame.  He's no fool is he?, you wouldn't want to go walking down Broad Street at night to pick up a paving slab unless you were equipped with full riot gear.    I have to say here and now that Jeff was years ahead of the game with his songwriting and producing even with The Idle Race and I was a little disappointed that his excellent 1990 solo CD Armchair Theatre didn't do better.  I listened to it a lot.  

I struck me that Jeff could be missing a marketing opportunity with his latest paving slab so here's what I was thinking.  "Jeff you should bring out your own jewellery line and call it 'Blynng'  I've thought it all out so you would obviously want to take me on board as your 'Blynng' Chief Adviser.   It's my idea to target the DIY brigade too.  Here's a drawing of how the new 'Blynng Slab for Men who Build Patios' medallion will look":
The downside is that you really do have to have a bit of a strong neck.
Anyway Jeff, It was my intention to pitch it to you face to face but my invitation must have got delayed in the post? and anyway the library had been lit in colours that meant I couldn't approach it any closer than 500 yards, kind of blue and white Kryptonite.  

So anyway let me know your Lordship and I'll get onto B&Q who are in on the deal.   BLYNNG ....Slabs for Real Men......not 'Horace Wimps', heavens above Jeff this is a sharp advertising mind in action, I'd best stop before I set the page on fire.

PAUL CARTER - Grasshoppers, Brumbeats, Starliners

The Cape of South Africa is a long way away.   Imagine if you had to commute to London to work from there?, not a soddin' chance in hell, unless you are Paul Carter that is.   

Paul works for two weeks in London then flys back to SA for two weeks off where he has been a member of a sixties band and also blowin some jazz when he can.  Paul is another ex-member of The Brumbeats and also The Grasshoppers and Johnny Neal and The Starliners

Co-incidentally, Johnny Neal also has a holiday home on the Cape so hopefully we can get them reunited when Johhny visits there this month.



So there we are, as well as the lovely guys above, there are of course others living throughout the far reaches of the world who were amongst those playing music for the Golden Days of Brumbeat at The Ritz, The Silver Beat Club, The Crown and Cushion, The Rainbow Suite, The Carlton etc etc etc....good on you all, so pleased to see so many of you still playing too.

Tara a Bit
Bob

Copyright Bullsheadbob
Contact BobsbullocksGmail.com

Saturday, 1 March 2014

BULLS HEAD BOB MARCH 2014 - I ONLY HAD A SMALL ONE AND REALLY WANTED A BIG ONE, NOW SMALL ONES ARE BACK AGAIN. CAGE AMPS. BEST OF THE MIDLANDS - LANEY VC30 210. ROY WOOD OUTSMARTED BY STUFFED TOY.

Watcha Maties,

Well what a sad tale......I actually started out not having one at all!! and only after a full year of wishing and praying did I manage to get one and even then it was very tiny and didn't do much.   I showed it to my Mum, she said it very nice and sufficient for my needs and if I had a bigger one, the neighbours wouldn't like it.    

I imagine that in using the title of this blog I may have opened the flood gates from the world of 'Amazing Penile Enlargement' Spammers but I am of course referring to guitar amplifiers and I got my first one from the Radio Supplies Company shop (RSC),
in Birmingham City Centre, it was the first shop on the right just inside the Great Western Arcade and next door to the Kardomah coffee house.   It was a shop that sold electrical spares and things for geeky radio hams.   It was cheaper than, for instance, the very pretty Selmer Little Giant but had more output and also had a tremolo effect built in.  
I think it was rated at 8 watts but can't be sure, I can't find much literature or photos of these amps at all.   I seem to remember it costing around 8 or 9 pounds.

I had that amp for years and years and it ended up being used as an extension speaker for the radio in one of my bands Ford Transit. I had foolishly taken a razor blade to the speaker cone so it would distort but of course all I did was wreck it.   Our roadie bunged some non descript speaker in it and lashed it onto the vans ribs. It could even be this actual amplifier, as the speaker has been changed and an entry point for a twin flex cable has been drilled in the bottom of the cabinet. Wouldn't it be strange if this was my first amp? 

The speaker certainly isn't original, RSC used Fane speakers.
It is incredibly difficult to find out any information about RSC amplifiers but
there is a link between them and the next Amplifier I used, the Linear Conchord which came as a 30 watt and 50 watt model and was a stripped down thing that came in a cage.   It was indeed a powerful amp for its day and they were very popular with bands at the time.  It did mean however that you had to source some kind of speaker cabinet which, I assure you was no easy thing then.  I got someone to make me one but really can't remember a thing about it or even who it was who made it for me.  
Caged Tiger

The one small niggle about Linear Amps was that they used co-axial inputs, the same as a TV aerial plug, not the standard quarter inch jack plug that was fitted to all guitar leads
It was enormously popular because of it's cheap price and featured in the majority of early 60's groups equipment.  Of course all of these were valve driven.  I recall seeing loads of these caged amps in second hand shops once better amplifiers started becoming available.

Although the Linears were a great little workhorse they lacked something......appeal.  Everyone wanted a VOX AC30 or a Selmer Twin,
I opted for the latter.

A Selmer 'Bluey', a great amp which I loved and treated shamefully, it really did the job and looked a lot better than the Linear for sure.

From hereon I got recruited into a much bigger band and we were supplied our amplification by Park from Jones and Crossland.  
I had the luxury of a mountain of speakers and 2 x 100watt amp heads to deafen people with, but mostly myself.   Along came the modern PA systems with a mixing desk and these big stacks started to become redundant and today's modern tech has developed small to medium sized combo amps belting out over 100 watts from one speaker. 

We now seem to have gone full circle and everyone is producing tiny little valve amps again, or is it just that the amplifier producers are upping the hype to convince you that you need one?   I suspect a lot of the latter, or it may be that the live music scene has been so decimated that more guitarists are just bedroom players and want a nice sound at home from a small amp.

HEARTBREAK BOULEVARD The job of being a musician is a hard life, scarred with disappointments and broken promises so a lot of folk are more than happy to sit at home, enjoying owning some nice kit, instead of putting themselves through the mill.  There is no substitute though for 'giving it some' at a live gig with a good crowd and although it's true to say that gigging has become harder and harder, you learn a lot more about playing during one live performance than you ever will in a month of 'noodling about' on the guitar to backing tracks. 


I have a harmonica player who sometimes features in the Bulls Head Bob Boogie Band and his current amplifier is rated at a quarter of one watt!!
It almost fits in his pocket....He goes on about it all the soddin' time. 

Here are a selection of the many new small models now flooding the shops. Cages are Back!!!!


YAMAHA TR10
VOX AC4
ORANGE MICRO TERROR

JET CITY 5 WATT
FENDER 'ec' VIBRO CHAMP 5 WATT

VALVE POWER 18 WATT


IF YOU ARE A COMPULSIVE EQUIPMENT BUYER, LIKE SOMEBODY CALLED TONY, LOOK AWAY NOW,
THIS COULD BE COSTLY........

This is just a small sample of what's available, without even going into the 'high end' Boutique Amplifier market, with the Valve Power Amp being the most potent with its 18 watts and the rest between 4 and 10 watts.  Very cute but do you NEED one?  These amps are very expensive, with the aesthetically beautiful creamy white VOX AC 4 being available in 2 models,
the standard AC4 retailing at a cool 233 pounds and the hand wired at a sizzling 598 pounds.   You will need to take out a mortgage to buy the  5 watt 'ec' Fender Vibro Champ which retails at the volcanic price of 875 pounds!!!   This is just crazy money.....So if you're not a pro or don't do a load of recording it's an awful lot of dosh to lay out.   

The 30 watt authentic, Linear Conchord Cage Amp pictured above was on ebay for 175 quid.  It's very similar design copy, the Valve Power amp, comes available as 'factory built' or in Kit form too, with the kit at 250 and the 'made' amp at 350 of your British Pounds.

AMPLIFIER TESTS
I couldn't tell you anything about the sonic difference between any of them because I haven't tested any of these I have to say, I am simply doing a comparison of history repeating itself. Although I have seen plenty of amp tests on Youtube and viewed some of the amps in music shops.

I have seen 4x12 cabs going for silly prices these days, I mean who wants to lug those soddin' things about any more?  I was lucky enough to have a road manager to carry my large ones about for me so didn't really have to experience the back breaking task, although we did sympathetically muck in with him though when we did a 'triple gig' on one New Years Eve, even with my delicate and artistic fingers.  However, if you have a warehouse, you could buy a few of these speaker cabs and wait for the market to come around again

LANEY VC30 210
Being a dyed in the wool Brummie
Bob's LANEY VC30 210
I use the best amplifier to have come out of the Black Country, the beautifully built, impeccably styled and designed Laney VC30 210 
valve combo amp, it really is a cracker with beautiful clean deep tones and even though it is rated at 30 watts, it takes your head off when you want it to.   For larger venues you could add the Laney 12 inch Speaker extension cab to give the sound more depth. This is a really great amp and retails for just under 500 quid.  I know my place in life and I'm happy to have a good quality 'medium sizer', with plenty of balls!! 

Laney is also used by another Brummie, the ol' left hander Tony Iommi, doctor of music, except his is bigger and probably blacker!!!

Highly recommended.  

I certainly have no desire to own one of these new small valve amps but maybe you do? it's all horses for courses.   

I saw the featured RSC amplifier on an internet forum page dealing with electronics and have been told that it is going to be offered for sale very shortly so if anyone out there has a yearning to get some real vintage sounds drop me a line and I will put you in contact with the owner.  I'm not the type to want to buy it but it still does look like my old amp I have to say.   Maybe out of pure sentiment, Crazy Malc at the boozer might get it for me?, he's got some dosh......."Malc??" 

ROY WOOD THRASHED BY GREEN DUCK
Pointless
I'm not a great watcher of television, it's all full of homogenised crap and shallow tossers.  I did enter the living room though as Mrs Bob was watching  some re-runs of Pointless, the TV quiz that challenges people to come up with obscure answers to easy questions.  It was the Christmas celebrity edition.

You could have knocked me down with a feather as I saw Roy Wood being dumped out of the show on the first round by a green duck with someones hand up it's arse. Roy was as smart as I thought he always was but I believe the duck was a little under par and could have done so much better than it did. 

There's a real celebrity Rock n Roll line-up for you, Roy Wood, the Chuckle Brothers and a Green Duck. That's as wise a publicity move as The Move choosing to play the cabaret clubs all those years ago.

Roy has aledgedly demanded a re-appearance so they've teamed him up with Rick Wakeman or, as he was called in the NME once, Dick Wankman, for his next appearance.   I think it's due for broadcast sometime this month, I'm going to be glued to the set.   

Perhaps he did so badly by announcing that he's from Derbyshire where the phrase "Ay up, me Duck" may now have a different meaning for him.
   
Serves him right for abandoning his Brummie roots.

FINALLY...NEWS NEWS NEWS....
Look out for some very interesting and exciting news coming very soon from BRUMBEAT.Net, the historic home of Birmingham's Bands of the 60's.

On the Blog Next month, It's the annual pond-hopping pilgrimage to see how the 'Brummies Abroad' are faring........

Take Care
Bob

Copyright: Bullsheadbob
Contact:  Bobsbullocks@GMail.com