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Magazine Editions, dates of
Have you ever wondered why a lot of the magazines on the racks today (2nd September) are labelled as "October" issues. Now the lion-table logic, apparently, is that shelf "browsers" (us) will jump at the mag with the "newest" date. The problem is, of course, that all of the competitors will simply join in this silly game and where do they go next? Answer - today (September) I saw a November issue of a golf magazine! By November this year's golf season will have ended, so why are they (will they be) still previewing and predicting October competitions which had already taken place when the "new issue" was supposed to be issued. Oh dear, I'm getting confused, this is all a bit like Doctor Who. Use your browser "back" button or click here if you want to go back to the quiz
Malt Shovel, the
Spon End, Coventry CV1 3HF. The proprietors, Nigel & Yasmina Ashby, are absolute nutters who. amongst other insanity, have declared independence for Spon End and actually received a response from Buckingham Palace when they sent the Queen a bill for Army lodgings in their pub from about 500 years ago. It goes without saying that they didn't get the money! The pub now has a "tent", for live music, which is actually 4 brick walls with a canvas roof and hence no need for planning permission. A great pub with great beer and a lively crowd of the kind who used to inhabit the Dive Bar.
Manfred Mann
I first heard on Radio Luxemburg in 1963 playing their debut single, Why Should We Not, a bluesy instrumental with lovely Paul Jones harp and Mike Vickers alto sax ... which got nowhere! They finally became noticed after 5-4-3-2-1 became the theme music for Ready Steady Go. I first saw them live at the Coventry Theatre as backing band for visiting US "Phil Spector" girl-group, the Crystals. But on their own show (4 numbers) they opened up with the Howling Wolf song Smokestack Lightning, a superb, original arrangement which had power (rather than volume). Hearing this band made me want to play music.Their singles got progressively worse although on gigs the band still played superb, original jazz/blues. Their first album, The 5 Faces of Manfred Mann was classic, refer to the AMG Allmusic Guide, I think the album is still available ... and should not be missed!
Marquee, the
(alias the Whiskey-a-Gogo, alias the Crawdaddy and other names), Navigation Street, Central Birmingham (over the top of Chetwyns' Music Shop). The club had to change its name every time they needed a new liquor license. You would play about 3 one hour sets from midnight onwards as support act for the names of the day, such as Graham Bond, The Small Faces, Zoot Money etc. It was amazing to be walking the streets of Brum in broad daylight at 8 in the morning looking for an affordable breakfast ... before you went back to the club to play your last set.
The downstairs disco was remarkable in the quality and diversity of records played and permanently changed my perception and tastes in "popular" music. See my Desert Island discs for a few examples.
McCutcheon, Andy
a fellow pupil and School Captain who was not solely responsible, but nevertheless increased my appreciation of modern jazz. Introduced me to Miles Davis's album Kind of Blue, which still is one of  my favourite albums of all time. Andy became a solicitor working as a prosecutor in the Birmingham Courts, apparently a fine way to learn the profession of criminal defendant, which he has practised for some years at Varley Hibbs, solicitors, of which he must, by now, be the senior partner
McMorrow, Attracta
known as Trax, a delightful Dublin girl who I met on a wild holiday in Magaluf, Majorca, May,1977. Over the next year or so I went over there and she came over here, occasionally. Lived in a lovely redbrick terraced house in Ranelagh, Dublin and worked for the Northern (alias Midland, alias HSBC) Bank. For some reason we both knew that nothing could come of this relationship so we just enjoyed it while it lasted. Last I heard she moved North while trying to decide whether to get serious with some guy. Trax, if you're out there, I'd love to know how you got on ...
Monster Magnet [1972-1975ish]
comprised a variable number  (5-15) of musos from other bands who shared a love of early US rock,  soul & blues and would play with the band if other commitments allowed. Played "covers" by Johnny Winter, Stevie Wonder (early stuff), Steely Dan etc and played all over the country. I have a very blurred memory of this band but do remember Paul Hooper on drums, Ron Laurence on bass (sometimes), Roy Butterfield on bass (other times), Mick Smitham on guitar, Bill Jackson on piano and depressing songs (which we always found an excuse not to play), Bob Jackson on organ, Tony Fletcher on congas, Phil Street on congas, and anybody else that came along on the night.
Morecambe, Lancs
used to be described as the place where people went out on Sundays to watch the town's single set of traffic lights changing. I doubt if I would ever have spent any time there were it not  for my relationship with local girl Hilary Shorrocks who was forever quoting the above line! In fact it is a splendid place with fine people, fine beer, fine ice cream, and the Lake District half an hour up the road. However, I must confess that the "purple pier", slot machine parlours and influx of "grockles" in summer did make it a place to avoid for a couple of months. After my affair with Hilary ended I only went back once, with Smackee who performed there at Pontins in 1980. I could not believe the holiday camp, which was sandwiched between mud flats, Heysham Docks, a chemical works (with yellow smoke) and a power station. But I had a tremendous week ... without looking at the traffic lights.
Morganfield, McKinley
alias Muddy Waters, epitomised the Chicago blues and spent his life writing and playing great songs. I had the good fortune to see him at the Hammersmith Odeon, before his death, in a great show along with the McCoy Tyner band and Sonny Rollins, the kind of catholic mixture of music that I applaud. Every house should have a Muddy Waters album and every blues-band should play his music, that's my opinion anyway! Checkout AMG and the official website for more of this legend
Morris, Mick
I first met as a friend of my brother Pete at Warwick Road Church Youth Club in about 1962. We then were part of a crowd of about 20 youths that partied on for the next few years before going their own ways into marriage, bands, jail  ... whatever. So I was amazed to bump into him at Purley Chase Golf Club 30 years later to find that he hadn't changed a bit, either visibly or in his personality. He had no grey hairs either ... until he took on the role of golf club captain, a position in which nobody that criticizes you would be prepared to do the job themselves, ask Wagger
Murphy's Law
National Health Service, the  
was created in 1948, the year of my birth, by Labour politician Aneurin Bevan and, for working-class people, brought great improvements over the years before. Bevan thought that, after it cost a packet to set up, it would then get cheaper as the nation's appalling state of health improved. The trouble was that he didn't foresee how the drug companies would take advantage of a huge nationalised industry with overpaid, inept managers - nor that the NHS would finish up more accountants and managers than doctors and nurses, the people who were really necessary. OK, call me naive and old fashioned but it is a fact that drugs in the UK, like cars and petrol, are the most expensive in Europe. It is a sad fact that nearly all other nationalised industries have been abandoned by Governments as financial disasters. Is "financial" important? - well, like it or not, no organisation can function without money - which soon disappears if it is squandered.
The present Labour govenment blame their predecessors for the NHS's ills but it is a fact that when I first got seriously involved with it in 1977 it had exactly the same ills as it has now.
the National Institute of Clinical Idiots Excellence, a body of "experts" who basically make the decisions on who can get what treatment under the NHS. Anyone who has ever been the subject of their deliberations will tell the same story as me, that they decisions are made on accountancy rather that clinical factors.
So why can't doctors make these decisions? - ah, because they're "too close to their patients" - which I always thought was the whole idea.
It is a fact that without this, and the many other similar highly-paid "committees" in the NHS, there would be a phenomenal amount of money to spend on the patients
Newbiggin Town Fayre, the
a splendid annual summer event, which features a lot of good entertainment, good food, great beer and is a great day out if thenbintro.jpg (19293 bytes) weather is kind. These modern day events are common in the North East and much better than the old-style town carnivals which featured processions and all that stuff. When I played this event there were no less than 4 stages of which I played the "lifeboat" stage which was, unbelievably, right next to the lifeboat station ... thankfully not needed on the day. Newbiggin itself is a quiet seaside town and it is always hard to believe, the night before, that some 30,000 people will descend on the place the next day for this mammoth event. I played the Fayre in 1996, when Paul Hooper took a great part in organising it, although he was playing in Yarmouth with the Fortunes on the day and never witnessed the results of his hard work. I have subsequently played gigs at the town golf course, Top Ship and Bankhouse Club which are always great, due to the Geordies' love of the blues and good music in general. Special mention must go to the Hillbillies from Outer Space who, to me, were the "stars" of the festival, rather than Showaddywaddy, who topped the bill. Don't get me wrong, I love '50s rock & roll - but not the "poppy" way they play it.
North, Steve
in Acme drove the group van, a beat-up faded yellow Thames for a change. Also looked after the home-made lighting, projectors, smoke machines, props and costumes, which was no mean feat. The unreliability of some of these devices kept him on his toes. Later on Steve and I contended for the title of "best thrower of outrageous parties", his were fancy-dress, mine were fancy-booze-and-talent. Now lives on a Greek Island
Nyro, Laura (1947-1997)
a child of the 60s, Laura hit the big time with a classy vocal group called the 5th Dimension, who sang superb songs and harmonies. She left to become a solo singer/songwriter and by the end of the 60s was second only to the Beatles in the number of her songs that had been recorded by other artists. You read her life by listening to her songs, the joy and sometimes darkness (especially when she became a heroin addict). But, typical of all great blues singers, the pain is not depressing when you listen to the performance. I had the pleasure of seeing her live at the Festival Hall where just she and a grand piano captivated the audience. You have to listen to understand, buy any album - you will not be disappointed. Try the official site , none of the others seem to work for very long. Her songs speak for themselves but her talent as a singer is shown on her superb rendition of the Carole King song, Up on the Roof , one of my desert island disks 
had a different meaning in the 60s when the country was divided in two, those who lived through the war (including those who were conscripted into the forces until about 1960) and those who didn't ... the young and the old. This is no intended offence against "the old", without whom this country might have been in a big mess ... but it is a fact that they thought, dressed, acted and generally looked different to "us". By the time I started playing music, Elvis Presley was considered geriatric ... at the age of 30
One Hit Wonders
what it says, performers who had a single mega-big hit record before disappearing into obscurity. The Guinness Book of Hit Singles shows some absolute gems under this heading ... and some utter crap
Optical Illusion, the
I played with them once, on Xmas Eve 1968. A gig not to be forgotten. The band was run by guitarist Johnny Duggan, whose brother Ted played drums. Now Ted was young, with a squeaky voice, and reminded me of Kev Dempsey in both his mannerisms and out-and-out skill as a drummer. Ted is now a renowned music teacher and, I believe, a commercial airline pilot.
Orchid Ballroom, the
started life in the 30s as the Crown Cinema, Hillfields, Coventry. It was  taken over by Mecca Dancing in the 60s and became a sort of younger brother of the Locarno. But it was the best in town being smaller and with great atmosphere - more like a big club than a ballroom. When performing you had to remember that the bar was directly over the stage, and if some of the punters didn't like you (or were just generally out of their skulls) they poured beer on you. No sweat for the drummer at the back, but for the singer ...!  Hence you always put a tape marker on the stage floor to mark the end of the "safety zone". After 20 years as a bingo hall it was tarted up in the early 90s and re-opened as the Tic Toc.
Orpheus and the Underworlds
was Steve Bentham (guitar, vocals), Joe Craner (drums), Bas Smale (bass) and Andy Williams (vocals and rythym guitar). Played their first gig in 1964 at the Holy Family Youth Club, Holbrooks, Coventry and later appeared on the Odd Fellows Society float at Coventry Carnival. Andy Williams (son of the provost of Coventry, no less) then went off in his direction and Steve Bentham led the others towards the blues and the Boll Weevils.
PA (or public address) systems
my first, 36 years ago, was 50 watts power, I now use a 600 watt system. In the 60s The Beatles played Shea Stadium using 100 watts, the loudest system ever. Most bands I know now have systems that run into tens of kilowatts. Have we all gone deaf over the last 30 years or what? No, like a lot of things it is all a con. The "watts" are not measured sound, they are the measured voltage on a component inside the amplifier circuitry, only nobody is quite sure which component to measure. The sound system for this computer is "75 watts" ... bull****! Go and get a Vox AC30 combo amplifier (30 watts) or equivalent, plug in a guitar and turn it up as loud as it will go before feedback ...  it will deafen you. Equal PA bull comes from most of the sound engineers that run them. Why, with all this mega-technology (and money) do most of them sound bad? Answer, anyone with musical talent would be playing music, not twiddling knobs. I write this paragraph with a bit of venom having, last night, been forced to use a "house" PA and engineer who was determined to make me sound like all other "backing track" performers ... loud voice and twinkling inaudible "backing band". It must be some singers' ego thing but what sounds fine for a Demis Roussos  impersonator does not sound fine to me. See James' Law of PA systems. In soberer hindsight I must say that I have worked with some excellent sound engineers, who know who they are because I have told them so ... in fact sound engineers are a bit like drummers
PA, my first, (1964)
A complete 50 watt Public Address System  for £85 (£1700 in today's money) which I spent the next 70 odd gigs paying for. Thanks to my brother Pete for helping me raise the money to start my musical career. The only musical instrument, a Hohner Echo Super Vamper blues harp, cost 55p (£20 present day value) ... although these instruments then (and today) lasted a few weeks until you "bent" the reeds, blues-style, into oblivion. And to play in different keys you really need a set of 6, plus spares, which is to say £240 worth of very disposable instruments
Parker, Dr
I can remember as a shy young man when he first started at my Coventry Doctors' surgery. He is now the senior partner (boss) and very much older and wiser, but aren't we all. I had very little to do with doctors until diabetes struck at which point I liked Parker after he told me, quite openly, that he knew nothing about it but would send me to someone who did. A lot of pratish doctors could gain a lot by that approach but they are generally too pompous to even consider it. Parker does know a lot about skin complaints, and has helped me a lot with the psoriasis that came along
Pennycook, Dave
I can't remember when I first met Dave, I seem to have known him for so long. I first performed with him in the Acme Patent Electric Band in about 1968 when he played a lovely old stratocaster. Like many I knew at the time, he bought a Hammond L102  (for about 500 quid) and became an organist in later bands. Now, and for some considerable number of years,  he has run the family business, Pennycook Jewelers, in Earlsdon Street, Coventry. An ace photographer
Perfumed Garden, the [1966-1967]
a band formed and run by guitarist Malc Harker with Pete Wright on Bird organ, Rod Grant on co-vocals, Des Kendrick on drums and a sax player and a bassist whose names escape me. Played everything from the 4 Tops to Jimi Hendrix but with a spark of originality and free thinking that made me forget my own obsession with the Blues and move onwards and upwards. Inevitably folded due to half the band going off to university and was superceded by the Acme Patent Electric Band.
Perfumery, the perflogo2.jpg (44132 bytes)
the trade name and website of Rex Brough, radio producer, musician and generally "man of my own heart". Rex's site contains a wealth of information about the Coventry music scene, including the Dodgers, Sorrows, Indian Summer, and many others. Rex is clearly a man of talent and sensitivity, with a wicked sense of humour which has created, amongst other lunacy, "gargoyles", an incredibly detailed list of the world's worst records. But the great thing is, after browsing his site, you really feel as if you know a lot more about the man, having become involved with all aspects of his personality without realising it. I say all of this having known Rex for 48 hours, totally through the Internet. Click the thumbnail on the right to visit his superb site
Perry, Terry
a sax teacher who originally started playing in the army, where he actually wanted to drive tanks. His only car was a derelict rusting mobo-toy in the back garden. When I came to pay him for each lesson he would find the change from obscure but remembered places all around the house and garden. I always made sure I needed change so as to hear the immortal " ... a shilling, yes, there's one under the lawnmower ..." .  Terry almost taught me to sight-read although I am, by nature, an "ear" musician. He would write wonderful 2-part exercises while watching Coronation St on TV the night before, these exercises often being used for full Ra Ho Tep productions. He also taught me to think, arrange and not be afraid to experiment. A great bloke, even if utterly mad
Planning Permission
one of the great legal absurdities of our time whereby you have to pay a fortune to the local council and wade through a stack of legalese to, in some circumstances, put a satellite dish on the side of your house. The stated purpose of this legislation is to prevent the public being confronted by eyesores in the streets. But this is all a matter of the opinion of public officials who, over the years, have been noted, after various scandals, to have lined their pockets with payola. How else do you explain the Millenium Dome, Birmingham Bull Ring and new M100 motorway, which can go right through your back garden if it suits them.
Plant, Robert
played, with the Band of Joy, all-nighters(12 till 8am) every other Saturday night (or Sunday morning) at the Marquee as support act. My band, the Bo(ll) Weevils played the alternate weeks. I remember once, on our week, he slept in the back of our van because of trouble with his Mum over his day job. I also remember the Bo-Weevils' first recording test for Mercury records, where Rob, with a band called Listen, sang the Harlem Shuffle - magnificently! I didn't later recognize him as singer with Led Zeppelin because his of his new image and vocal style which had, in my opinion, lost the subtlety of the early days. On the road, we would always sit in with each other's bands and I do believe he still owes me a few harmonicas. Check out Rob, Zeppelin and all the local connections in AMG All Music Guide.
Polyglot Dance Group, the (1972-73)
the idea of Phil Porter after talking to some (female) dance students who wanted to break out of the "old routine" and perform to live improvised, instead of taped, music. My initial reaction was of skepticism, especially when learning that the girls' college was in Surrey and we would be rehearsing in Cockfosters, North London, a "half-way house" for all concerned. We spent 9 months getting the totally original show together for 2 gigs at the Cockpit Theatre and the Lanchester Arts Festival, grossing a grand or so and netting about £3.50 each after mammoth expenses. I must say that having to use your eyes to look at young ladies for your inspiration instead of your ears to listen to old farts, was off-putting at first - but I soon got to like it. Soon after the gigs the girls had exam commitments, then finished college and went their separate ways, except for their make-up specialist, Hilary Shorrocks, who was also a fine dancer. A few years later we reformed Polyglot  for another one-off performance at the Wimbledon Arts Festival
Pop goes the Beatlesbbc.jpg (8551 bytes)
broadcast daily in the early 60s by Aunty BBC at 5 pm , hosted by the lads themselves, and featuring them and their guests playing live. I used to rush to finish my paper round so as not to miss the show. The title is, I know, grammatically incorrect, but a play on the childrens' song "pop goes the weasel".
It took Aunty about 20 years to find and release the superb Jimi Hendrix Saturday Club tapes, and the Beatles' BBC performances were finally released in 1994 on the album "Live at the BBC". I can't yet find this still on release but I'll keep looking.
Porter, Philporter.jpg (11942 bytes)
another old schoolfriend who, as well as a musician, was a good rugger player. He got me interested in playing for the school old boys until some big slob broke my nose and I discovered that no rugger players could breathe through their noses, hence my rugger career ended because I preferred playing saxophone. Phil played superb, soaring, original electric bass while Stanley Clarke was still thinking about it . He also played lovely string bass and was the prime mover of  Ra Ho Tep for the life of the band. I finally, after about 17 years, met him again in Bangkok in January 2002 to discover that he now travels the world as personnel director for the mighty Orange. Phil still lives in Wimbledon but his kids are now taller than him and the youngest is at university. Photos here ...
Presley, Elvis
a giant among rock artistes although, sadly, one of the first examples of a genuine performer whose simple wishes were stifled by his manager (Colonel Tom Parker), whose only ambition was to make pots of money. Many people do not realise what a classic collection of  blues/R&B was recorded during Presley's days at Sun Records. Even in the early days at RCA some of the B-sides were written by Arthur "Big-Boy" Cruddup. To me, Presley's remarkable quality had sadly deteriorated by the start of the 60s and it was a decade upon which he had little artistic effect. They say that everyone , if they were born at the time, can remember where they were when:
Propeller, Graham Walker's [1997-1998 my membership]prop1.jpg (24514 bytes)
myself on harp and saxes, Graham Walker on guitar & vocals, Julian Ward on guitar, Jim Pryal on drums, Howard ? on bass. Jim Pryal was later replaced by Spencer Walker on drums
Pryal, Jim
in my opinion a fine drummer who, like Joe Craner , was always criticized for having a dubious sense of rythym, but they both played with soul !! If you want good rythym get a drum machine! I remember Jim playing in the 60s with Wandering John, the late 70s with Stilletto, the late 80s with the Bonediggers , and the late 90s with Graham Walker. Jim co-formed Inferno in 1999, a soul band who are going down a storm playing parties and functions ... so Jim tells me.
Psoriasis (with a silent P)
a nasty skin ailment that, in my case, started at the same time as diabetes. There is no cure, but sunshine and lack of stress can help a lot (no kidding). Learn to spell the word before you try the web or try the Canadian Foundation, which has a nice site and good links, including the UK association
 Ra Ho Tep [1969-1977ish]
the name of an Egyptian sun god and an appropriate name for a band in the 60s/70s. Featured myself on alto-sax, tenor-sax, clarinet, electric-piano, harp and vocals, Phil Porter on bass-guitar, string-bass and acoustic-guitar and Joe Craner on drums, trumpet and vibes.  We very often played one piece of totally improvised music per set, although the pieces developed strong formats as we played them, due to our almost telepathic understanding of each other. People would ask us how long it took to put these complicated arrangements together. I didn't have the heart to tell them that we "made it up as we went along".  We also played "covers" by as diverse a collection as Marvin Gaye, Laura Nyro, James Taylor, and many more  who would never have recognised their songs after we'd finished with them. Our finale was nearly always Concierto de Aranjuez, a moody piece by Spanish classical composer Joquin Rodriguez. We played all over the country ... people tended to love us or hate us, the latter if we were mistakenly booked to play college discos - where our style of music didn't fit in with "Brown Sugar" and the like.
I think we peaked in 1973 with the Polyglot Dance Group. when we teamed up with some student dancers from a college in Surrey and incorporated modern dance into the improvisational routine. After a few years Joe got other commitments and we did recruit temporary drummers. The band eventually folded due to our own other commitments and geographical difficulties 
Ready Steady Go
"the weekend starts here" was the cry of Keith Fordyce and Cathy McGowan at about 6.30 pm on Fridays in 1964. It was a truly great show of  mostly live music by the best blues/R&B bands of the time. But it wasn't just the music. Although not politically so, it was a mod thing about fashion and the new way of life in general. The show was axed while it was still winning after what seemed like forever, but was in fact about 2 years
Record Companies, today
will spend millions  trying to enforce antiquated laws to ensure that their mega profits aren't dented. The technology was available years ago to enable recordable "made-to-measure" CDs from shops or over the internet. But the RC chiefs are too stupid to realise that if instead of fighting new technology they exploited it, they could make even more billions ... so we're all forced to live in the past. Have a look at their websites, it's all teletubby music. 
Revolving Stages
were a must for major venues in the 60s. What looked like a huge area from the dancefloor was tiny at the back, making Hammond organs a nightmare to get in through the inadequate doors. In theory you would set up your gear, the stage would revolve and Bingo, there you were in front of a few hundred people. But if they ever started up they very often wouldn't stop, so that for the grand intro the punters were treated to watching a bunch of confused musos on an unstoppable  roundabout. Not to mention the fact that nobody ever told you when they were going to switch the thing on, so that the tremendous jerk made by the huge electric motor could put you flat on your back for the "grand intro". Stage curtains were a much better idea
Reynolds, Dave & Jackie
took over the Dive Bar from Brian Stafford in 1987 amid fears that the pub would never be the same again. In fact Dave & Jackie made it even better, and although absentee landlords a lot of the time the pub had an even better atmosphere under a succession of good managers. After nearly 10 years they sold the pub and moved to Freshwater Bay, Isle of Wight to become hoteliers. It was predicted that after about 3 years they would sell the Brookside Forge Hotel to Nat (my wife) and I. Unfortunately, for this to happen I had to escape from the accountancy profession and, to cut a long story short, problems on my side sadly stopped this happening. They sold the hotel for a song in 1998 and now officially live in Swindon, although they seem to spend most of the year touring Spain in a large Mercedes caravanette
Rocket, Reggie
alias Reg Sparkes, a legend in his own lunchtime. Hands up any local muso of my age(ish) who hasn't, over the years, played in a Rocket Band, and couldn't spend a few hours telling stories about it. Still plays in a very good rock & roll band with Nigel Lomas

1mbb website by Tim James