Saturday, December 10, 2011

Just for the record

It was one of those questions which are what you might call perennial. So I guess the answer therefore, would have to be one of the most avidly anticipated, but I’m not sure why, maybe it’s some indication of the early beginnings of one’s musical journey, or maybe people just want to compare notes, who knows? It was that one about ‘the first record you ever bought’.

If you were there that weekend, you will recall that my colleagues had a better idea than I did. If I recall correctly, I blurted out something about records not having been invented during my childhood years.

Well it was in jest of course, the pleasurable platter has been around longer then I have, and cylindrical ones before that, though if you wanted to check that one out, you might need to visit a museum.

Nonetheless, there was at least a grain of truth in my impetuous retort. In a more considered moment, I should perhaps say, that the ‘record’ as we know it ‘to-day’ (or very recently at least) hadn’t been invented.

It was during my early life, that the black diskette of delight underwent a complete revolution, if not an actual metamorphosis. The format, known to all as the 78 by the time of my teen years, was a delicate and low-tech idea, although I believe it did improve slightly towards the end of it’s life.

Dropping one, was almost certain to result in a breaking or shattering of the piece, they really were quite brittle. The way they were intended to be played atop the musical counterpart record player, or ‘Gramophone’ as they were then called, necessitated the attachment of a stubby needle to a mechanical ‘sound’ arm, which were supposed to be replaced (the needles that is) with new ones every, or every other, play. The resulting sound reproduced, although probably the wonder of it’s day - was abysmal by later standards of the 20th century, never mind the 21st.

The whole purpose of the exercise, to deliver the recorded ‘event’ to the listener (for that was what it was, there was no ‘production’ in those days), again, would perhaps have been a wondrous event at the time, but quite sad in the light of our modern standards.

Suddenly, during the 50's, a number of truly major developments were to unfold within a historically short period of time:

* The coming of age and beginnings of a youth culture.

* The emergence of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

* The change from the rigid 78 to the more flexible ‘vinyl’, the new 45, extended play (EP) and 33⅓ rpm type long playing (LP) records.

* The establishment of pirate radio.

* The forward evolution of music recording and playback technologies.

Astonishingly, these ground breaking events were to begin during an epoch of roughly a decade and both youth culture and Rock ‘n’ Roll were to become joint bedfellows and the catalyst for a unique revolution.

Although there was obvious excitement at the time, and actual hysteria would not be an overstatement, I don’t think that many people even so, fully comprehended the enormity of it all. We were unwittingly witnessing the birth of an entirely new popular music culture and industry, the like of which had never previously existed.

It all happened during those formative and impressionable years of my life, and so will always remain an important and very significant influence on my contemporaries, as of myself.

By the end of the calamity that was WWII during 1939-1945, Britain was a broken country, deeply scarred and bankrupt. Indeed, so deeply, that the UK didn’t complete it’s final war loan repayments arrangement with the United States until the end of 2006 and so, very, very recently. (A staggering 61 years since the war, if you haven’t worked it out already).

That first post war decade was quite grim but at least everyone was cheered by the knowledge that it was all finally over. Times were tough for most people but somehow the nation just got on with it and made the most of what they had, which perhaps makes it easier to understand how the small mercies offered by the humble ‘record’ were so much appreciated. Records had played a big part in popularising many artists over the war years and had played a major role in boosting national morale.

Dismal in terms of sound quality, as they were, they sold in what today would be considered huge and enviable quantities. This in part, because there wasn’t an awful lot else to do by way of recreation. TV had begun it’s life by then but didn’t immediately have any meaningful presence because of the austerity following the war years, and then it took time to catch on as things tend to do.

A youth culture as we understand it to-day, didn’t really exist either prior to WWII. The buying of records, or indeed just music, wasn’t what you could really call a ‘youth’ activity. Youth by and large, were unpossessed of a disposable income. From my own memories, many were far more preoccupied with a sport which was known as ‘knocking on doors and running away’ or simply breaking windows, than engaging in such sissy-like activities as listening to music. Even less available, was anything of a musical nature to which the juvenile could be irresistibly attracted.

By way of a guess, I think perhaps people purchased records and the means to play them, more because they could afford to, rather than an actual zealous desire to play music, although the latter cannot be entirely discounted.

The kind of musical phenomenon which was eventually to turn the tables and transform the youth of the day, into the crazed teenagers, that so alarmed their superiors, arrived suddenly, in the 50's and with a very big bang indeed. It was of course the aforementioned Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Now people had something to get excited about, and they had the money to buy it, although I’ve never fully understood the mechanics of how that came about.

The musical focal point of many peoples’ lives during and up to the 50's was radio. Radio in the UK, was a BBC monopoly, and there was no British commercial radio and certainly no internet at the time. Perhaps the biggest draw would have been the cinema where both music and drama were a major attraction.

The BBC’s stranglehold on broadcasting was a comparatively new and expanding phenomenon. However, being a monopoly, they proceeded to do what all monopolies do. They please themselves first, everything else comes after that. Whereas in a competitive market, you need to offer a widely attractive service or product, in order to secure the most desirable level of success.

That the Beeb were always good at what they did, is beyond dispute, but it was ‘good’ within their terms of reference, or by their own standards.

Now I’m not anti BBC, I think they are a wonderful British institution, and some of the things they do, both then and now, they do better than anyone else. But back in the day, the corporation’s attitude towards music was painfully Dickensian. They had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 20th century.

I still recall their drab, politically correct, and downright pompous approach to music and there was of course a place for that, but there was never any excitement from the other end of the spectrum. The truly radical and dangerous.

Jazz was quite widely regarded as an undesirable musical element, but attitudes were to change albeit ever so slowly. This was more a case of jazz - on the other side of the Atlantic - being seen as something that just could not be ignored, than being an art form that could be easily recognised for what it was, and so legitimised. For a long time though, jazz, in the eyes of stuffy British society, still had to be performed in evening dress to be respected by many. But in the end, it got there, even though by that time, it was R ‘n’ R that people wanted, rather than the then dated jazz formula.

There was in fact plenty of music to be found within the schedules of the ‘Radio Times’ but it was as though it had to be either stuffy or stupid to qualify for radio.

Not unlike the attitudes towards jazz, the Beeb’s foray into the area of the “pop” song, was often limited to the less attractive, safe, and at times embarrassingly ridiculous. I can only surmise that they thought it was all, ‘jolly good fun, what, what, what’.

Once again, through the wonder of the internet, I have been able to locate a few examples of the kind of torture that my generation were subjected to from time to time.

I must warn you that you won’t be able to stand more then a few seconds of this, but from these links you can find some examples of the sounds the listener had to endure during the age about which I write. From 1952......(you may need to skip the ad), (if not the song itself!).

and it gets 1955.........

Even making allowances for the idea that this may have been fashionable at the time, implausible though that seems, it is difficult to comprehend how the corporation could have justified some of these choices and yet ignored real musical excitement for as long as they did, when so much else was available.

I’m sure you’re not going to need much more of that, but there was plenty more. On the whole though, it wasn’t quite so stupid as that, it was very often infantile but also stuffy and pompous and ever so British.

That one Dates from the 30's, but they were still playing it in the 40's & 50's. Then we had the Beeb’s retinue of regulars. One of the prime examples was the great Victor Silvester, the ‘Strictly’ star of his day. A dance champion and band leader.

Victor had the distinction and trademark of sameness. Every song was almost identical save for the actual melody line. He maintained a long career on the back of this, he was regularly on, and rarely off the radio.

Another BBC stalwart was the great Edmundo Ross. He was a mega star of his era and enjoyed a long life until his death in 2011. But Edmundo occupied the more sensible side of the Beeb’s regular output and possessed great charm. His style was much more than the token Latin presence in the UK, he was THE Latin exponent par excellence.

But apart from music of this type and there was plenty of it, it’s not too difficult to see that it was never orientated towards a youth audience. Perhaps I should say, why would they? The kids had no money. However, at pretty much the same time as the music abruptly and dramatically, shifted from dour and staid, to pounding and provocative, the kids had suddenly, somehow, acquired spending money. Were that not so, who knows what would have happened.

So is it any wonder that the youth of the western world went apeshit - en masse - when R ‘n’ R finally arrived!

and from the movie....those famous balls.....!!

and again the great man himself............

Music is such a fascinating subject. It is also a very personal thing. No matter how many people there are that love any one piece, there is always someone who hates it.

There are comparatively few notes available to the aural spectrum of the human ear and yet there seems to be no limit to the number of combinations that can be assembled with these musical building blocks.

I often wonder if anyone has yet set about the task of running this through a computer to see if there is actually a limit to the number of possible combinations. Surely there must be, it can’t be infinite?

There are certainly combinations of notes that just don’t work together, for pertinent musical reasons, that’s why you need to have some idea about how you might want to combine a series of notes. And there must be millions of such combinations. Yet in spite of all that, there still appear to be millions and millions of possible combinations left that do work. I find that quite fascinating.

Perhaps it’s just that the number of possible songs or compositions, is so incredibly vast, that by the time we get around to where it all started, so-to-speak, the next generation have forgotten all about those previous ones, and wouldn’t want to listen to them anyway because of their un-fashionable credentials.

By now, the number of identifiable genre within the spectrum of music must also be quite vast. Hundreds? Thousands? Who can answer that one?

To-day, we are free to explore and enjoy whatever genre we like, but there was a time within my own life, when one was limited by the choices of others. That also, I believe, is why such furore was occasioned when the musical floodgates were finally thrown open in the 50's, and thank god for that.

The next milestone of note, was perhaps the change in the type of music that pervaded the airwaves, and it was famously, the radio pirates who started the move away from the deeply entrenched and dull broadcasting format of the Beeb. There was now a new and exciting style of music and by and large, the BBC weren’t playing it. The pirates, seized the moment and seemed to just appear out of nowhere. The word went around like wildfire.

Until around this time, music was largely a serious business. To secure a career in music, usually required a ‘proper’ musical training. Holding down a music job would have required the ability to play anything placed in front of you, and with supreme confidence and ability. Anyone playing music below those sorts of standards were not widely considered ‘proper’ musicians. But then came the day when people who couldn’t read or write musical notation were demonstrating that it could be done without the constraints of musical academia.

The internal mentality at the Beeb meant in turn, that a large part of it’s output was of an ‘orchestral’ nature, both classical, semi-classical and indeed contemporary, such as it was.

So, when Britain’s airwaves were suddenly invaded by a new breed of music enthusiasts and entrepreneurs, from off-shore locations atop various ships, ex-maritime sea forts, and foreign shores, the chips were well and truly down. Auntie Beeb was dealt a massive and well aimed boot to her posterior. Listeners deserted the Beeb in droves as the new illegitimate radio stations forced her to succumb to, and rethink, her position within the new commercial world of music. This was yet another revolution and an instant one at that.

And it’s not as though the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis had suddenly torn up the rule book, it’s more likely he/they never saw it in the first place. The new music offered a new kind of freedom, freedom to play whatever you liked and without any rules.

What this new breed understood, so very clearly, and so also did it’s audiences, was excitement. Any such excitement within the hallowed walls of the BBC at the time, would doubtless have induced a corporate heart attack.

Eventually, in defence of the Beeb’s inability to reform itself and compete within a free market, (albeit illegal at the time on the commercial side of it), the government was moved to devise a method of preventing these pirates from enjoying the financial rewards of their newly developed commercial radio stations, from business resources within these shores. The BBC couldn’t beat them, so they joined them. They employed many of the once pirate DJ’s, many of whom went on to become household names. This brief period was a major milestone in the history of British entertainment, and ought perhaps to be known as the British Radio Renaissance.

Whereas the initial push towards the mass commercialisation and expansion of pop music culture was largely American driven, by the 60's it had become focussed around the English port city of Liverpool as most people know.

The business of ‘records’ had come of age too and the record business had moved from an obscure genesis amongst a handful of enthusiastic small-time pioneers, into mega-rich multi-national corporations.

The record, was now challenging every other form of entertainment for the enviable position of being, the most popular.

No-one new it at the time, but by the 80's/90's the ‘record’ was moribund. I remember around that stage, I was sitting in the New York offices of the CBS giant, on the umpteenth floor of the massive black clad edifice of the building known locally as ‘The Rock’. One of the top brass was eager to play me his new copy of the latest wonder product of the musical age. It was - so they said - indestructible, would literally last forever, and possessed sound qualities unsurpassed in the entire history of music. Little did he know it, nor did I, that it was also going to completely wipe-out his balance sheet within a few short years. This was the arrival of the CD.

To-day, all three, vinyl, CD and now DVD are widely considered obsolete technologies. Indeed the very idea of placing music on a disk seems positively ancient when all you need is a bit of digital memory space. Job done!

So what are the consequences of all this? The record, which played such a big part of my, and indeed most peoples lives, has gone. It’s not completely extinct yet, we are ourselves about to launch yet another one upon you, being one of the few remaining entities who are still able to, but the proverbial end is looking very, very nigh indeed.

This is all rather sad;........nay;........very, very sad. It’s always sad when something has to die. Is this the day the music died too?

If I can try and be positive about this, my feeling is that sooner or later, music, as we used to know it, and loved it, will eventually - one way or another - resurface and reinvigorate the enjoyment of our lives. It is just too uplifting and emotive within the human experience to remain eternally damned. Fete, will surely find a way?

But why is this happening at all? It’s difficult to face up to, but it’s also a fact of life that nothing lasts forever. Nothing.
The plain fact of the matter, is that the listener, not all of them, but enough, at some point, discovered that it had suddenly become possible to copy music - without any loss of quality - through the facility of digital music, and copy it, and copy it, and copy it, they did.

That that had become possible in the first place, was simply a result of the path that the evolution of music and it’s associated technologies had taken.

Many music lovers are still wondering when their favourite bands are going to release their next record. Well, in all probability, they ain’t going to. Who in their right mind is going to spend a fortune making a record, and then giving it away? Well, some have done so, but they’re not going to repeat that too often, if at all and that’s just the way it is now.

So, what’s next? Well, in my opinion we have already got the ‘what’s next’, it’s the Cowell empire!

Now, I’m not going to jump on the ‘I hate Simon Cowell’ bandwagon. Love him or hate him, he is just a businessman, doing what businessmen do. They make money. That’s their job. The real problem as I see it, is not Mr Cowell per se, businessmen will always grab as much as they are able. It’s that he has been allowed to create yet another virtual monopoly, and that shouldn’t be allowed and there is no meaningful alternative to it. Anyone with wall to wall TV coverage, could sell sand to Arabs and you wouldn’t need any talent to achieve it. How can anyone compete against that kind of dissemination.

So we as a nation, are no longer able to enjoy the wide and varied creations of the worlds finest artists, because their work would simply be stolen, but we are able to be battered and brainwashed with an avalanche of repetitive mediocrity for weeks if not months on end, created, not by artists of extraordinary vision and ability, but by businessmen who’s abilities are not derived from the creative music processes, but rather, the manipulation of the balance sheet. That just cannot be right.

It should not be so surprising, that programmes emanating from the newly constituted music industry format, bespoken by a new breed of muso-magnates, have succeeded in supplanting a thriving and vibrant musical industry, with a chain of mindless repetition, reliant on endless overstatement of it’s participating stars’ abilities and alleged sales achievements and aspirations, rather than any self evident and/or stunning display of inherent creative ability, has succeeded in it’s quest so to do, by way of it’s unchallenged monopoly of the supreme marketing podia of television, whilst it’s defeated former music industry would-be competitors’ resources, have been stolen, thereby rendering them impotent. Nice one Simon!

At the very least, there ought to be a level playing field upon which those that choose to buy into the creations of the businessman, can do so, but alongside those who would choose that of the artist.

The tool that facilitates this biassed marketplace against fair competition, is of course the talent show. The talent show is nothing new, it’s been around as long as I’ve been watching TV. The basic principles remain the same. You watch a series of competitors vying to be chosen as the ‘best’ of the entrants.

In other words, it’s all about watching people learning how to do something. Become professional singers, in the case of the largest of the genre.

Then there’s another show about learning how to become a variety act, or a novelty act. Then there’s a show about learning how to survive in a jungle.

Followed by another about learning how to become a dancer. And yet another about how to become a cook.

It’s all so ridiculous. What’s actually happened, is that we have gone from watching the craftsman, to watching the apprentice! And as if you needed any confirmation about that, we even have one CALLED ‘The Apprentice’, which is about watching people who want to learn how to become business people!

Now we are no longer watching great performers, we are reduced to watching learners. In any event, the majority of contestants are failures by definition since there can only be one winner! So we are in effect, watching a bunch of no-hopers showing us how bad they are. Admittedly, some are actually so bad they inadvertently become quite funny, but that’s not the point.

Have we all gone completely mad to stand for this nonsense? This surely, if nothing else is, is something up with which, we most vehemently should not have to put! Where are the crusaders when you need them? Why is no-one shouting from the rooftops?

Of course Mr Cowell’s end product is still exposed to the worst wild-west like activities of the internet, like everyone else, but he has the overwhelming advantage of massive and biassed broadcasted marketing facilities whilst the rest of the industry can go to hell, and has largely done so.

Are we all now, those of us still surviving within the industry of music, actually occupying the position once experienced by our beloved Beeb? Do we need to become as radical as did they back in the 60's and face the music of the 10's by joining those in the vanguard, if it can be so described, even if we were able?

But perhaps I’ve got this all wrong. Is it a question of that lexicon of notes about which I previously speculated, having finally reached the end of the road? Is it just that we have now used-up all the possible combinations of notes and genre within the pantheon of music? Has the last song now been written? Is that the reason that music has plummeted down to where it now is? Are we now back at the proverbial square one?

Do we now have to regress to the point where it all started scores of, maybe even hundreds of, years ago, and start all over again? If that is so, then we had all better find something else to do until we get back to where we were in the 50's/60's and once again marvel at the excitement of music.

Of course if that is the case, it won’t in fact be us enjoying it, but rather some distant relatives of ours, if they in turn succeed in surviving through the dangerous world we now inhabit. Oh dear, it all now looks rather depressing, but I needed to get it off my chest................................just for the record.

jb/10th December 2011
© Jet Black 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011


Well, that was a memorable weekend! 4 sets featuring band members (5 if you include JJ & Polyphonic Size), a huge cast of guest supports and some amazing other events. And a venue packed with the best fans in the world!!!

We had: JJ cooking, Dave remembering (!), Baz singing his heart out, Jet thundering away, Sparky bongoing, John Robb enthusing, 6 new tracks and lots of old ones, a £3350 bass in auction, a guy in a black & white suit, Chiswick Charlie and a Finchley Boy recalling and the world's hardest pub quiz... All packed into one weekend.

We got: Bitching, Lowlands, The Raven, Unbroken, Swine, In The Shadows, Don't Bring Harry, Freedom Is Insane, Rise Of The Robots, Bless You, Genetix, Boom Boom, Mean To Me, Do The European, Giants and Shut Up...

Many, many people to thank but here's just a few of them: the band, the crew, the management, Neil Sparkes, the legendary John Robb, Goldblade, Mike Peters, Gus & Fin, Polyphonc Size, the Wilko Johnson band, Al Hillier, Garry Coward-Williams, Chris Twomey, Ava Rave, the Butts Brewery crowd, the Mamstore girls, the Music Glue girls, the Maidman sisters, Phil Johnson, Rab & Tracy for trophies, the venue & security staff and last and most importantly the fans... Thanks to everyone!

We'd like to throw this open to comments and feedback from you. Please let us know what you think-you never know, there may be a next time...

21st November 2011

Friday, October 14, 2011

2011 so far...

As seems to be customary when doing a retrospective of a given period of time, and looking back on the events that have happened in past months, it never fails to amaze you at what you’ve actually achieved...when you put your mind to it.
This year started for me on January 2nd when I travelled down to Bath to continue the writing for the forthcoming album, and to start rehearsals for the Black and Blue tour in March. We’d had our Christmas and new year break and were raring to go...I got there, just, when the weather closed in and I spent the first week of the new year alone and snowbound before anyone else could get to me...which was actually very nice after the hustle and bustle of a typical Warne family Christmas I have to say.
We spent a month or more writing more material and honing what we had before we headed out in March on tour for what was one of our best in recent years. We’d toiled long and hard to pick a set that would please everybody (yeah right) and were very satisfied with the reactions and reviews we received. It could have all gone so wrong at the third gig in Edinburgh when I lacerated my hand after breaking a shower door at our hotel an hour before stage time, but with luck, and a trained medic on the team, we prevailed and the rest of the tour went off without a hitch...I think.
It was then back to Bath for more song writing sessions during late spring and into early summer, interrupted only by the odd jaunt out to play festivals, including the legendary Benicassim , Spain’s biggest music festival, in July...where we really enjoyed Elbow, but were bemused by the attention lavished on the Strokes...who struck us as a not very good Television...horses for courses...
As I write this now we’re just about to reconvene after a short break to resume work on the record and, with 5 tracks down, works well and truly in progress, it’s looking good for next year...
We’re all looking forward to the convention in November very much too, and it’ll be nice to do something different and see some old and new friends. There’ll be surprises aplenty and it’ll be good to play with our mate Neil Sparkes again for the acoustic show, as well as Mike Peters, Glen Matlock and our old pals Goldblade, led as always by John Robb, who’s also compere for the whole event.
Then of course the touring starts again in March next year,and runs through into April in Europe, followed by more festivals during the summer...and beyond, as always, a mystery...
Hope to see you all there...

Baz/14th October 2011

Thursday, September 1, 2011

When a friend calls you up and asks a favour, you step up...

When Roger Marc Vandervoorde reformed Polyphonic Size a couple of years ago he saw it as a fun way of bonding with his two teenage daughters, one of whom is a very talented musician and is a student at the Brussels conservatory. The occasional gig allows him to mobilise old friends and re-jig old tunes.

After they supported the Stranglers at two acoustic gigs this year in Belgium I suggested that they might be able to improve their sound if they got a professional sound mixer. I found their sound not altogether great. They were then offered the Brussels Summer Festival if I would join them. Of course, I agreed although this year has been seriously busy and I've had a few distractions of the personal kind to contend with.

Louie Nicastro, the Stranglers outfront sound man and also our studio engineer/co-producer agreed to come along to help. He came by Eurostar.

This was a good opportunity to ride the 'Tiger' to Brussels (the Tiger is 1050cc Triumph kicking 118 horses and is all black). No rain predicted for the day I set off to have one evening's rehearsals with the current line-up. I was to sing five songs, Do the European (from Euroman Cometh), European Female, Winston and Julia, Je t'ai toujours aime and Walking Everywhere. From London it took me four and a half hours to get to Roger's front door. This included 35 minutes on the Shuttle. I got up to 137mph on the bike. Should have got much more, however traffic kept getting in the way.

Next day there was a warm up gig in the same rehearsal studio (Studio DaDa) in front of about 130 people invited through social media.

Day of the main gig and the weather had changed. In fact it was catastrophic for an open air concert. The Polyphonics were supporting Karl Bartos, a former member of Kraftwerk who I've previously met when he came to a Stranglers gig in Hamburg. It rained and it rained. Freak weather, even by Belgian standards. Down the road at a festival only 40 minutes from Brussels, in Hasselt, at Pukkelpop the weather had a disastrous effect when a stage collapsed killing five people. We heard about this just before going on stage.Nevertheless the gig went on in front of a damp but enthusiastic crowd of several hundred and not the eight thousand expected.

Polyphonic Size will be appearing at the Stranglers' Convention in November with Louie on the mixing desk and featuring an old friend on vocals.

Next day the sun shone and I rode back to London. With a hangover.

Do The European at Studio DaDa on Youtube

Slideshow of photos from the Brussels gig

Photos courtesy of Fabienne Cresens

JJB/1st September 2011

Friday, July 22, 2011

Jet gets technical...

One of the most frequent questions I get asked by drummo’s, is how do you play ‘Genetix’? Without being behind a drum kit, it’s not very easy to explain. However, in an attempt to do just that, many years ago, I came up with the following piece. It was featured in an early edition of ‘Strangled’ magazine in 1982, an astonishing 29 years ago! God, how time flies.

Anyway, at that time, I had been asked to explain the drum track on ‘Genetix’. For those who are interested, here with notation, is the piece from that feature.

'It took me some considerable time to devise a drum pattern to accompany the technically strange ‘Genetix’. No conventional rhythm seemed appropriate, and after much trial and error, I eventually arrived at the arrangement you are questioning. As you will see from the following notation, there are three fundamentally distinctive patterns. The first revolves around the triplet. What makes the rhythm unusual, is not the rhythm per se, but more the way it is deployed around the drums. You may have experienced some difficulty in deciphering the rhythm from listening to the record, for it sounds simple and actually it is, but the comparatively rapid execution of the rhythm tends to conceal it’s chemistry. Pattern 1, calls for polished independent co-ordination. No two drums are ever played at any one moment. So, unless the technique of playing say, a triplet, or paradiddle or ruff, each note on different drums has been mastered, then the accurate execution of the 'Genetix’ rhythm will be impossible. Pattern 2, is a slight variation on pattern 1, and is simply triplets played on drums only. The final pattern, is an easily decipherable rock lilt of conventional nature with the occasional cymbal fill.

Here is the notation, and if you play it absurdly slow until it sinks in, you will soon get it sussed - and that goes for the other patterns too'.

Jet Black/July 2011

Monday, June 27, 2011

Back into the studio...

We finally felt ready to start the recording process.

Quite a few ideas had been rejected, others had been kept on the back boiler not quite complete but not totally disposable.

Are these lyrics naff or are they saying something? Is this just a fourth form rant or is it meaningful? Does this melody remind you of anything or anyone? What rhythm can we hang this melody on? Is this song at the right tempo? Does this piece sound like prog rock? Is there enough space in this one?

Well, the first four pieces are underway. Their titles are Freedom is Insane (which many of you wll have heard during the tour earlier this year), Giants , Time Was Once On My Side and Boom Boom (not the John Lee Hooker song).

Watch this space...

JJB/27th June 2011

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Tucker's Grave RIP

And so it goes...the legendary Somerset cider house that is/was Tuckers Grave finally closed it’s doors for the last time on Tuesday 31st May. A barbecue was held the Sunday before in the lovely back garden where I’ve/we’ve spent many an idyllic summers evening drinking the rough and shooting the breeze, and I volunteered my services to go down there and play to whoever turned up...which turned out to be around 300 people...word had got around ...

I first went there about 6 months after joining the Stranglers in summer 2000 with Sil Willcox and probably Bruce Gooding. Immediately I was drawn to the place, the people, the history, the vibe...and my fate was sealed a couple of weeks later when I got into an impromptu game of skittles with some of the locals one Sunday evening whilst waiting for my flight home a couple of days later...and drank 7 pints of ‘farmyard fanta’...We only discovered it was 7 pints when Sil went down to pay the bill and Glenda, the famous landlady said she’d been marking off who was drinking what, and I’d had 7...I was ill for 2 days, missed my flight, and have never done it again...although I did have 5 at the gig...doesn’t really sound much does it? But you try’s done for a lot of better men than me...

Since then we’ve become honourary members of a very exclusive little slice of west country life, and made many friends over the years. I remember one very memorable afternoon when the whole band was there crowded around a little table in the garden, Jet declaring his love for the place after every mouthful of cider and Paul Roberts acting the goat for some kids that were there with their parents...being indoctrinated at a very early age...The sessions for Norfolk Coast were fuelled there, as JJ, Dave and I lived at Sils’ farm up the road for 8 months...and inevitably we immortalised it in song...much to the delight of it’s punters and management... For years after the albums’ release we’d go there for a pint and Glenda would tell us of another pilgrimage of Stranglers' fans who’d visited, hoping to see us there, or just simply soak up the very unique atmosphere and read the history which was there for all to see on the old mantelpiece in the living room.

I’m actually writing this in the very room where Edward Tucker hanged himself on June 5th 1747 which is at Sil's Farm about a mile up the track. Suicides were not permitted to be buried on hallowed ground, and so , after an open inquest with the Kings Coroner, Tucker was buried in an unmarked grave at the crossroads where the pub stands. In 1827 the pub first opened it’s doors to the public, although it’s almost certain than communal drinking had been taking place there for many years before that...

If you never visited Tuckers Grave you missed out on a truly amazing little place, where mobile phones didn’t work, there was no jukebox, not even a bar for that matter...and if you didn’t enjoy striking up very interesting and sometimes very surreal conversations with complete strangers, who would in time become very dear friends, Tuckers was never going to be your kind of place. I lived in the West country for 4 years and visited at least twice a week and after 10 years of drinking there i’m going to miss it immeasurably...and I know I’m far from the only one...

Videos from Baz's farewell to Tuckers are here

Baz/4th June 2011

Thanks to Roger Bonsall for additional information and to Dave Edwards and Corrine Laver for the photographs...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

For all the wrong reasons...

From a gig in the past near a ship with a mast to a barn and the troubles I knew.

There were crimes at the time in a town near mine and a trip to the calaboose too.


I often wondered why it is, that you remember some things, and not others. Perhaps - to put it into a modern context - it’s something like the bad sectors that develop on a hard drive. Maybe it’s a physical thing, maybe it’s about space, limited space. My gut feeling though, is that it’s more about priorities, significance, importance of the event or statistic. On the other hand, there have certainly been times when I have forgotten important stuff while remembering the trivial minutiae. It’s a bit of a puzzle that one.

Perhaps one of you brainier types will write in, with the benefit of your academic knowledge on matters of the mind, and put that one to rest for me. Meanwhile, there seems to be some appetite amongst you for matters related to, and stored within my cerebral hard drive.

While this isn’t - the much anticipated by some - jb autobiography, and I’m not sure it ever will be, it is going to be autobiographical in nature.

I thought this time I’d write about memory, stored memory, at least insofar as it revolves around the event we are ALL interested in, the gig, and the memories some of them hold for me personally.

Now I couldn’t put an exact number on it - I couldn’t find that in the memory bank - but I must by now have clocked-up gigs numbered in the low thousands since the dawn of my giglife in the distant 50's.

When I look back over the decades, I see that a few are firmly lodged at the front of the archive, as being especially memorable, historic, unforgettable, even notorious, while others, have left no trace or recollection whatsoever. Why is that? It’s as if some had been erased from the record.

I guess that in itself, isn’t so significant, I’m sure we all know that happens, it just seems to be the way we were designed.

However, whilst I can’t ascribe an exact chronology to the first three gigs I ever did, that detail does seem to be lost, I can remember all of them, almost as if they were yesterday. That’s 100%, and that surely is significant!

There is almost certainly no other set of three consecutive gigs in my lifetime, which - for whatever reason - could be considered especially memorable or outstandingly significant and permanently carved into my memory, and, as it turns out, mostly for all the wrong reasons!


Way, way, way back in the late fifties, I suddenly moved from being a amateur gigist, into semi-professionalism. The first gig in that category was above a pub in Stratford Broadway in east London. It was a Cockney wedding bash, very close to where the new Olympics of 2012 are to be held.

I remember it well. It was just me and my piano player pal Bernard Dessoy, just piano and drums. We were real novices.

{{I fondly recall in subsequent times how Bernie used to boast to his ‘day job’ workmates, and he told me about it, that the reason he was the top salesman for his then employer - an oil company - was because he had "esso" in the middle of his name!}}

I went on to do scores of gigs with Bernie over the years and this first one, was primarily memorable by dint of it’s early position in the litany that had then just begun. But perhaps it was also memorable because of our uncertainty, inexperience, and perhaps a bit of trepidation too.

It was for me, the beginnings of a very long journey, at the time, my having no idea that it had actually started, never mind where it might eventually end up. It was certainly memorable, for those reasons alone.

I had been booked through channels I had by then become aware of, which in those days amounted to a telephone network through which information was disseminated and exchanged between available musicians and vacant gig opportunities.

For the most part, the band’s with which I found this semi-pro work, weren’t usually a band as we would know it today. In other words 3/4/5 guys working together most of the time. Very often, you had never met some or all of the other band members. You would just turn-up and play pretty much the same stuff as the next band. Churning out what used to be called ‘standards’.

Being involved in music was perhaps even more precarious in those days than it is today, if that’s at all possible. It was more difficult to maintain an entity you could call a band, and hold it together for very long.
But of the gig, I recall the room that day, which was on a first floor and roughly what it looked like. I also remember the upright piano and a certain feeling of satisfaction in what I was doing. I can remember feeling appreciated. Yes, it was all so new and memorable, and jovial, not in any way sensational, at least not that one.


The next one, was a different kettle of fish altogether.

The pub was called ‘The Pride of the Isle’. The isle in question, being the Isle of Dogs. These days, that, for the benefit of those who don’t already know, is the loop shape which forms part of the river Thames that you can see on your tv screens, as the opening sequence to the ‘EastEnders’ soap opera begins to roll.

Back in my day, that area was usually referred to as Limehouse/Poplar, or just "the isle", whereas today it’s more usually known as Tower Hamlets/Docklands. I think the authorities would rather forget it’s past associations.

Now totally transformed, it’s currently the site of the huge Canary Wharf complex, one of London’s newest prestige business locations.

Just across the river today stands the o2 Arena, formerly known as the Millennium Dome, close to the magnificent tri-masted clipper the ‘Cutty Sark’ and in fact, the centre of the world, the Prime Meridian, zero degrees at the Greeenwich Observatory. Yes, the Isle has always been a major landmark but today, a very different one from the days of my youth.

I didn’t know it back in the day, least not at first, but the ‘Pride’, was notorious. Situated in what was at that time, one of the most seedy areas in the whole of Britain, if not downright dangerous. The word sleazy, is probably an understatement. I believe you could then get or do, anything you wanted there, at a price. At the heart of London’s docks, it was a truly sordid gateway to the world. The pub was featured in the film 'Sparrows can't sing' and can be seen in the link below:

Today of course, the docks have long gone in an easterly direction and it’s barely recognisable from the days of my youth.

You could find almost every nationality in ‘The Pride’. Dockers, sailors, mariners, seafarers, engineers, stevedores, everything to do with the sea, and some locals too, but few were entirely unconnected with the maritime world.

I have played in many pubs, many times, but I think I only did the ‘Pride’ a couple of times. Anyway, this one was a revelation. The other band members were new to me and I went on to work with all of them again many times subsequently. It was exceptionally packed out on the night I describe. It was ‘heaving’ in fact. It was also obvious that vast quantities of grog had been consumed by the time we hit the stage.

I soon learned that there was going to be a cabaret act, although I don’t think I quite knew what a cabaret was. I was still a teenager, and very green.

The cabaret act was a fan dancer. Today of course, a fan dancer would scarcely impress anyone, such is the nature of modern sexuality. But in the 50's it was a very different thing. A fan dancer basically being a naked lady dancing around a stage whilst covering the naughty bits with fans covered with huge ostrich feathers. The ‘bits’ only visible to anyone behind her, like a drummer!

The scene soon descended into a maelstrom of riotous and lecherous debauchery. I imagine anyone not suitably imbibed, may have viewed the events as quite disgraceful. It was as if I was in a 1920's speakeasy, but worse.

The raucous behaviour escalated into a crescendo which caused the - until that moment - plain clothed police officers who were present and unidentified, to leap into action and bring the hilarity to a sudden conclusion. It was a raid. Just as you all will have seen in Billy Wilder’s 1959 classic, ‘Some Like It Hot’.

Those were the days! I think the landlord was hauled before his local court to account for his house of ill repute, and the police did a sterling job of crushing the exuberance of the severely inebriated clientele. As I recall, there was no comeback for myself and the rest of the band, and I don’t know what happened to the dancer. But within a few months, the word was out that the ‘Pride’ was being closed down, and it finally met it’s end when it was demolished in the 60's.

So I could hardly forget that one!!


As for the third gig in this tale, it’s not so much that it was a sensational gig, certainly not in the ‘Pride’ sense. No, this was to be very tame, extremely so, but it remains memorable nonetheless and for entirely different reasons.

Even so, it’s not actually the gig itself which was so memorable, although I would probably have remembered it anyway as it was certainly unique, but as you will see, it has become memorable for associated subsequent events which have ensured it remains permanently anchored, not just in my personal mnemonic, but in historical infamy.

Those of you who return to these pages from time to time will know by now that I was born and brought up in and around Ilford, Essex, on the east side of London.

The ‘Ranch House Club’ was situated no more than about a mile from home. It was strangely, even incongruously located in the midst of a middle class housing area. How planning permission was ever granted for this is a mystery. Today I’m sure, it would have no chance. But, I’m talking about the end of the 50's here, and less than 15 years after the end of the second world war. I guess everything was much more relaxed, if not completely chaotic at the time.

The club was the brainchild of one Bob Patience. I don’t know where Bob came from or much about him really, but he was apparently an ex RAF pilot and I think at some stage, a timber merchant. The story goes that he had returned from a tour of the USA and Canada, with a burning desire to create a ‘club’ in the western ‘log cabin’ style.

In this Bob was successful. He seems to have been a successful man all round, but you couldn’t say he was lucky. He must have been a man of some resource too, to have accomplished his tour of north America and brought his log cabin dream to fruition, but his luck ran out, more than once.

I can’t remember how I got to hear about it, but I was of course very close by, and perhaps word of mouth had arrived.

Physically, the club was actually very well put together. Countless tons of timber had been shipped from north America if I recall correctly, along with further tonnage of wrinkly bark to finish off the impressive interior. It was virtually all timber.

I remember arriving to talk to the proprietor about a ‘band’ requirement at the club as the final nails were being hammered into the interior ‘logs’. Bob didn’t have a particularly clear idea about what he wanted musically, I guess he wasn’t particularly musical but he knew he wanted a band to play in his ‘calaboose’ (jail) located on what today might be called a mezzanine floor.

The deal was done and I and my ‘band’ (Bernie again, and his guitar player brother Ernie) got the gig. I remember playing maybe a handful of evenings. The series didn’t last too long and I don’t recall why or how it all ended as far as we were concerned.

Actually, it all seemed rather daft really because we were practically invisible to the clientele below who could only just get a glimpse of us if they bothered to strain their necks and looked upwards. The ‘calaboose’ was ridiculously small for the job also and ill conceived from a musical perspective, but what did we know? Bugger all.

It’s at this point, that I pause to divert to, and extol one of the great virtues of the internet, which at the best of times is both sinner and saint in all our lives. I want to refer you to my ‘Viking’ discovery of last year.

As in that case, I have again discovered footage of this actual club about which I speak, filmed just around the time of the events I describe. I think this is really quite astonishing. It certainly goes a long way towards dispelling the beliefs of the few remaining nay sayers who still believe I make all this stuff up! I never thought I would ever see the club again, not in my wildest dreams. [Link below]


The film presumably forms the basis of Bob’s launching publicity campaign. In those days of course, there was no Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. No Internet either, not even commercial radio or television as I recall. This then must have been shown at cinemas to promote the new business venture.

Today, it all looks a bit puerile and faintly amusing though I suspect it will in fact bring the hint of a smile to your lips. However, it probably wasn’t so bad back then and if you consider; that most of the country was still bathing in a pool of adulation and envy of America and it’s wealth and culture, long before any signs of antipathy towards our American cousins ever emerged; it is easier to comprehend.

As I recall, there was hardly a week that went by when a new western wasn’t screened at the local flea pit. The ‘cowboy’ for the most part, was still a much loved movie genre.

The movie, or should I say advert, clearly shows the club, Bob Patience, his brother, the calaboose and even sight of the middle class housing in some of the background shots. I’m truly amazed. It’s part of my youth, it was probably shot over fifty years ago, it carries the issue date 16/06/1958.

Well, all this adds up to quite a memorable gig. But this is not the real issue. There was a murder!

It all happened some time after we had been and gone from our engagement at the club. Not that same night, it was many weeks later. One night a fight had broken out in the car park outside.

It was the 23rd December 1960. The 50's had just ended. This was the era of the Teddy Boy, and the pedular fashion accessory which became known as the ‘winklepicker’ was widely popular with the Edwardites.

Although initially mis-reported by many as a kicking to death by winklepickers - a sure fire headline grabber if ever I heard one - it later emerged that the poor unfortunate Ronald Coomber had been stamped upon his throat by the said footwear as he lay injured on the ground. This was a major and shocking scandal in a mildly affluent and normally placid neighbourhood.

At this period, I wasn’t actually involved at the club any longer, but it is the reason the gig will probably remain at the front of my gig memories, and yes, for all the wrong reasons.

This wasn’t just fatal for Ronald Coomber, it spelt the end for the club too. I don’t remember precisely what happened thereafter, I had moved on, but the occurrence of such a grizzly crime in the neighbourhood was not going to be tolerated by the locals, and it wasn’t too long after, that the Ranch House bit the dust, as had the ‘Pride’ just before it. It was soon wiped from history and replaced with new housing on it’s foundations at the end of Ashurst Road. Someone today, is probably and unknowingly, dining or relaxing on the very spot where a man was done to death by winklepicker.

And there, might have ended a memorable, if grizzly story, were it not for a second murder!

Of course by that time, it could be argued that it was unrelated to my gig at the start of the Ranch House Club story, and so it was.

However, there is continuity, in that by then, the unfortunate Bob Patience, had to face a new drama, thereby re-establishing a tenuous link with my gig experience and so nevertheless, a contributory factor - and the principal one as it turned out - in the reasons why the Ranch House was and will sadly remain so memorable.

At the time, I had no idea what had subsequently happened to Bob Patience. It was soon all forgotten. But one day I had the tv news on, and the words "Bob Patience" leapt to my ears.

In a second, it was all rushing back to me. The hard drive was in overload.

Bob had moved on too. He was now in Braintree, further to the east of Ilford and the proprietor of a new and by then well established venture, The Barn Restaurant.

Events at The Barn, were to become known as ‘The Barn Murder’. Now famously lodged in the annals of British criminal history.

It started in the early hours of 5th November 1972. After lying in wait in fields adjacent to the restaurant for the moment to pounce, two miscreants broke through a window of Bob’s house - just yards from the restaurant. No-one was home. They awaited the return of the Patience family from their day’s work at the restaurant.

Eventually they did, and to cut a long story to a minimum, Bob’s wife Muriel sustained a fatal gunshot wound while he and his daughter Beverley were also shot but survived. The attackers had resolved that they would relieve Bob of the thousands of pounds they believed must be on the premises.

As it turned out, they escaped with just £900, hardly a fair price for a life, to be dispassionate for a moment. (It should also be mentioned that some reports put this figure at just £90, which if true, would make the crime even more appalling). Curiously though, the inept felons failed to make any attempt at disguise and so police were initially hopeful of a quick i.d. and arrest.

After some considerable confusion, the prime suspect was identified as one George Ince. For awhile, Ince was nowhere to be found, but soon made the decision to give himself up as he knew he was entirely unconnected with the crime.

The police didn’t see it the same way. Ince claimed to have had the perfect alibi in that he had spent the critical moments with his then mistress a Mrs Doris Grey. It later transpired that she was in fact the wife of the - at the time - jailed, Charlie Kray, also familiar to many by way of his better known twin siblings, Ronnie and Reggie.

There were lengthy proceedings and Ince had to endure no less than two trials, before he was proved beyond doubt to have been entirely innocent of the crime. However, he was not what you could easily describe as an innocent man. He was well known to the police and suspected of involvement in many events from riotous behaviour to bullion robbery. This knowledge, you could understand, would hardly have failed to cloud the judgement of some officials.

But the case of Ince’s innocence of the Barn murder was conclusively proved in due course and he was freed. The real villains turned out to be John Brook and Nicholas Johnson.

Police came upon Brook by a stroke of luck after he had apparently boasted of his involvement in the shooting to someone and his undoing was the possession of what was proved to be the fatal weapon. However, although he had the gun, it was not proven that it was he who had pulled the trigger. Then, in the end, a court found Brook was guilty of the murder and he was sentenced to three life terms in prison. Johnson was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to ten years in jail.

Doris, the former wife of Charlie Kray, and lover to the once suspected George Ince, won a divorce from her husband after his release from prison in 1974 and then went on to marry George Ince in 1977, just as The Stranglers were releasing ‘Rattus Norvegicus’. I don’t know what became of Bob.

Jet Black/14th May 2011

Friday, April 1, 2011

A little bit of magic, a whole lotta noise

Not a huge tour, for sure, but a very different one. I've not seen anything like it since the heady days of the late seventies. Yes, I was there! It's as though our boys have stepped back into history by a factor of some three decades or more. The energy coming off that stage each night was breathtaking to behold. And yet the band are regularly criticized for being over the hill. Don't you believe a word of it.

I was asked if I could put a few words together if I was able to find anything 'special' or different on this one. Well, for one thing, there were a lot of young new faces. I can't help but feeling this is not entirely unrelated to the growing multitude of 'clone' pretty boy bands and their like, that aren't really bands at all but manufactured, coached and packaged products created by corporate interests possessed of mass production skills as opposed to uniquely talented individuals. But that's the world we now live in. Give me the old wrinklies any day, old enough to know what the hell they're doing.

Mike Marlin was a breath of fresh air. Here was a new face delivering something new and interesting. Then the irrepressible Wilko Johnson with Norman Watt Roy and Dylan Howe, what a powerhouse! And the MIB, what a package!! Wow!!!

As for special or different, well, there was that special moment on the last night in Manchester when a rather well known duo of bass and guitar talents bared ALL in their, end-of-tour prank, before the highly amused Mancunian audience. Well, I don't think I will have to go into too much detail about that one as I'm sure it will soon, or more probably already has, appeared all over the internet by now!

But the one 'special' I have chosen, is someone known to thousands of you. Not in all probability, his face or his name, but the sheer sound of him. He is known to all the band and crew as 'Big Voice'. He is, Dave 'Big Voice' Horton. He hails from Tenby and by day he's a mild mannered Estate Manager. By night, he slips into a telephone booth and transforms himself into the persona of the man we have all grown to love and cherish. He is a veteran of over 50-60 gigs, 4 of which were on this most recent outing. Big Voice is well known to you by his trademark sounding...........


.............yelp he emits regularly prior to the band taking to the stage.

Big Voice, can be heard back in the dressing rooms as clear as if he was in the room himself. The minute he is heard, everyone says, "HE'S HERE". In fact, band sound boss Nick Astro said, "if he gets any louder, we are going to have to tape up all the windows to stop them shattering"! Asked if he had any thoughts about Big Voice, Jet said, "I think his gift is wasted, someone, maybe NATO, should sign him up and ship him off to somewhere like Tripoli, where he could be used to scare the shit out of that nasty man with the silly hats!"  

Ava Rave/ 1st April 2011

Photo credit Ava Rave

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lyrical controversy

We recently received an email from someone concerned that the band had chosen to play a seemingly racist song 'I feel like a wog' on the Black and Blue tour.

We asked Jet to respond to this accusation and to set the record straight about the song's lyrics.

Here is his reply:

'I feel like a Wog' is an anti-racist song.

It is written in the first person from the perspective of a repressed racial minority figure, who, from his point of view, is put upon, and put down, by the white majority.

It was always intended as a lament to the privations of the racial minorities. A sympathy with their interminable adversity.

There have been a few criticisms of the song over the past quarter of a century, but usually as a result of a misunderstanding of it's message. We feel that that message is as valid today as it ever was. There is a need for someone, who can, to speak up for those concomitant with their fortuity of birth.

I feel like a wog people giving me the eye
But I was born here just like you
I feel like a wog
Got all the dirty shitty jobs
But everybody's got to have something to do with their time

I feel like a wog I don't wanna go home
I've got a lot of life to run through
I feel like a wog
I don't mean you no harm
Just don't ask me to shine your shoes

Golly gee Golly gosh
Don't call me your Golly Wog
Golly gee Golly gosh
Don't call me your Golly Wog

Let me tell you about Pimpo
We met him down at the After Eight
He wanted to sell us some limbo
But we said mister
You've just got to wait
You've got to wait
You've got to wait
You've got to wait

He wanted to take us down to St Pauli
But we said mister
We ain't got no bread
I tried to make him laugh
But he didn't get the joke
And then he said I wasn't right in the head
And then he made me
And then he made me
And then he made me feel
And then he made me feel like
And then he made me feel like
And then he made me feel like
You know I feel like
You know I feel like
You know I feel like
You know I feel like a wog

Jet Black/17th March 2011

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Working in the West Country

The whole thing started for me on Jan 2nd when I travelled down to Bath. I've been here ever since, only managing one trip home in mid-Jan. We have a house here that we rent and live and work in and it's fabulous...very isolated but also within easy reach of the city and of course the ubiquitous local pub where we've eaten our way around the menu and have become mates with the landlord and lady...they seem to like the collection of reprobates who drop in from time to time and who get animated in the corner about the music they're writing...

Bath is a great place to drink and eat...some of the old pubs that only the locals know are superb and hark back to simpler times where you just sit and strike up a conversation in a real bar with whoever happens to be there, without crap music or annoying children with names like Cassius and Amelia running around...and of course our beloved Tuckers Grave is only few miles away too...I even went to the rugby too...not my thing but a great day out...oh man... The view of the city from the top of the hill where we are is breathtaking and the local wildlife make their presence felt with owls,foxes and deer paying visits from time to time...I even heard a Nightjar the other night..(anyone know what one of them is?)

It's a lovely place and very conducive to work, which is just as well because we have masses to do... We're currently writing for a new album which will be released next year...we're also rehearsing for the Black and Blue tour in March...and next week our old mate Neil Sparkes from The Temple of Sound is coming to stay with us for a week to rehearse for some acoustic dates we have in Holland and Belgium in April...busy times...

The original stuff we're coming up with is,in our opinion,some of the best ever and there's a chance some of it will be aired live in's an oft forgotten process of playing new songs before they're recorded,and we're keen to develop some of the stuff in the good old fashioned way if we road testing it...keeps you on your toes too...As always things can change so don't quote me on it,but if we feel like it we'll do it...

The set for the March tour is proving to be a total joy and we'll hopefully moisten a few eyes (and maybe other things too...)with our choice of songs...we've had a blast rehearsing it all and as ever expect the unexpected...saying no more about it except I'm really looking forward to meeting Wilko and just being on the road again...see you all very soon...

Baz/9th February '11