Saturday, 26 July 2014

Things Worth Waiting For - SUMMER, 1979 Now News/Clips, Kevin Pearce's Book, a LOT of Latitude/Borodino, RIP James Garner, More Outtakes, Demos....& More .......


The garden is looking grand, the pots and plants doing particularly well were all embedded with Vic's (patent pending) 'Pandora's Box Compost' -  contains any and all food waste plus the secret ingredients that turn it in to wonder compost! When the chicken bones  first started popping up I initially thought were the clay pipes which do surface on a regular basis, discarded by the agricultural workers who toiled in the market gardens that covered the whole area. An easy mistake to make, although admittedly they don't usually surface in numbers or as frequently as the chicken bones have been!
1979 Now! well and truly on it's way! Test LPs arrived and cleared, CD/ LP art work and on line booklet by our web guru Andrew Paul Shaw looking absolutely fab. Release put back a tad to beginning of October but hoping to have copies for gigs in September. Couple of teasers -

A snatch of You Made Me -

AND a sneaky listen to a couple of demos of songs Vic wrote in 1979, recorded at Rehearsal Rehearsal by Mickey Foote which Vic found in the middle of old cassettes including two rediscovered songs - Fortunes Come and Dead Dreamy, currently being digitalised by Mike Coe, Doctor of Music.

A fond farewell to West Heath Studios London, twenty years of music making in NW6 with Grace, Edwyn, Seb, Susan and James and wishing Edwyn and Grace a smooth transfer to Scotland. Looking forward to a recording trip at the new studio! Aed have brought out this great sampler to celebrate the last two decades, 19 of Edwyn and Seb's favourite tracks (includes Caught In Midstream) to celebrate, illustrated by Edwyn.

It's been busy at gnu inc central sorting things for a bit of a mammoth run of 13 gigs starting with Keith Allen's Establishment Club at Latitude, the first on Vic and the Sect's eclectic festival circuit (of three) and all beside the sea, yippee.

I started the blog before we went and this is what I wrote: 'I think I mentioned in the last blog that the teenage gnu once went to a rural outdoor festival in the 70's, a field, barely organised and managed to endure three hours before escaping. To this day she can't understand why, for a start, anyone wants to put themselves through the purgatory of camping at all,  stand in a field for hours and hours on end surrounded by hordes of people, possibly and quite probably in the hissing rain or boiling sun. Then there's the toilets - rather as the gnu says there aren't toilets at festivals, there are retch inducing, putrid trenches/holes/buckets that poor, 'can't possibly be being paid enough' benighted souls have to empty from time to time into larger even more putrid mobile waste containers. Of course you can now stay in a yurt at a festival with all kinds of mod cons like the essential 'rainforest' shower if you're of a mind and are well britched but it's still camping, no privacy and you can't escape torrential rain or the ensuing mud if it comes your way. Despite all this gnu's got high hopes for her Latitude experience, although has said if options are car or tent she's sleeping in the car!'

It is now post Latitude and I'll pass over to the gnu. WARNING: If you don't want to read ALL about gnu's Latitude experiences you can skip down to the Rebellion bit.

'Subway Sect's Adventure in Latitude Land 19/20th July 2014'

 Setting the mood - I am usually a bit anal about gig preparations, you know, contact with the promoter, band info in advance, transport/accommodation/fee sorted, etc, etc, and I get a bit antsy if everything isn't sorted before departure BUT Vic and I knew from the get go that Keith Allen's Establishment Club at Latitude was going to be a tad different to the normal ( I use the word loosely) Subway Sect gig so we already knew it was going to have to be a 'go with the flow' situation and had already slipped into the required mindset (both the up and downside of this is if I  'let go' then I mentally drift off the planet). Details regarding everything other than Vic and Sect were playing at The Alcove and tickets were at Blue Gate 2 (they weren't) were thin on the ground, no idea what time Vic was on, no idea if there would be tents (I think Vic and I had already tacitly agreed anyway that tent v drive home was no contest) and yet we set off on our adventure uncharacteristically and surprisingly chilled and this zen like, almost 'out of body' feeling (luckily) prevailed pretty much throughout the day/night/following morning. Off we go to Latitude World.....

Huge thanks to Keith Allen, a generous and friendly human being, for the invite, it's unlikely I would ever have experienced a rural mega festival otherwise. Ian arrived on site the day before us with his family and had set up in 'Artists Camping' (had their own tents), we had a surprisingly easy journey across London and up the A12 with a short delay at a Little Chef (after waiting 30 mins for two sandwiches Mark and Yusuf were advised that someone would check on how close to delivery they were, explains the delay!).
After arriving at the ginormous (and very hilly) site it took about an hour of trial and error to find the right gate to pick up the tickets , driving round and round both inside and outside the perimeter hoping to spot the signs in the foliage before we'd gone past them and had to go round again, ended up crawling at 15 mph on the A12 (yes there were maps of the site but you weren't allowed to take one away with you!), we kept going past one Latitude sign with a (rather appropriate I thought) arrow opposite to 'Landfill'. We missed the two music acts I wanted to see (apart from the VG&SS of course!), Booker T and Hall and Oates (although Vic and I did catch a snatch of Maneater, not a favourite, at the first gate we got out at to make ticket inquiries).

The Latitude team were very friendly and as helpful as they could be given the fairly chaotic circumstances, particularly the head office team and the poor souls wom/manning gates, that is except for one officious twit, obviously thought having a walkie talkie imbues the possessor with a license to be a prat. When we finally got through the right gate without impediment, this twerp pulled us over to point out it was one way and I honestly thought for a second he was going to suggest we turn round and go out again but perhaps realised his actual power was non existent and how foolish he sounded. Anyway no further impediment to our progress at this point. 
Wristbands finally firmly attached (if lost/removed you will be ejected or charged for another, fairly reasonable I suppose) we had to go out again to find the artists camping car park, the very first gate we went through, so another full circuit. The car park sits at the highest point on the site with artists' camping beneath and is the furthest from the arena, about one and a half miles, a fact we were blissfully unaware of at the time. Relieved to have arrived and with the sun shining and not a hint of a cloud we unloaded, taking everything down to the artist camping gate below, no tents for the group there but did find out about the trek to the arena, swiftly reassured that buggies would be ordered to take the equipment down, audible relief all round....but short lived. Not knowing stage times and with time itself eerily flying, after a half hour '10 minute' wait Kev, Mark and Yusuf set off with some of the gear.

Vic and I waited a further 20 minutes and then decided we had to make a move so took what we couldn't carry back up to the car and set off on Mau's Long March with two guitars, the keyboard, keyboard stand, tambourine and merch suitcase. After about half a mile we were knackered,  it was boiling and we had to stop and it was impossible not to dwell on what it would be like on the way back up. Thankfully I managed to grab the attention of a passing buggy (stood in his path), a very 'Smiley' driver who we fortuitously happened across again later. The ordeal wasn't over yet though, once dropped off at the arena gate, buggies not allowed inside, we had to load up again for the further schlep to The Alcove,  our final destination, if you wonder why we didn't call for help - the lack of reception, apparently texts would get through 'eventually'. 

We passed these dyed sheep on the way, also very thick coats for boiling heat. I wonder who came up with that, wrong on so many levels and adding to the general weird ambiguity and 'Alice in Latitudeland' nature of the place, Greenpeace cafe run by volunteers one side of the path juxtaposed against tortured sheep on the other.
At the Alcove got warm welcome from Keith, and introduced to Ade Latitude who offered us a ray of hope - he said we could bring the car down to unload the remaining gear and park in a small car park, a comparatively mere stone's throw away at 'Bailiff's Cottage'. Of course this still meant getting back to the car and then going out again and coming in another gate. No sign of the Sect so we divested ourselves of the gear and set out on the trek back to the car. Incredibly lucky then that when we got out of the arena our 'Smiley' driver from earlier happened to be there about to leave for the car park, untold joy! (This was the same entrance/exit we came in by, delightful area for tents/camper vans, aromas of fried food mingling with the raw sewage that was being sucked from the ' flushing loos' as we passed by, had to use one later, unpleasant experience and I'm not sqeaumish about loos, have been en plein air and used mens' at Chelsea, I'm no wuss!)

 Back in the car and in a jiffy we were out of a blue gate, round the perimeter, in a yellow gate, up the road past Bailiffs Cottage, round the barn, down the mud track, pull up on the grass and hey presto we're adjacent to the Alcove. Rest of the stuff unloaded (except Kev's new wellies and Vic's and my pacamacs!!), car removed to Bailiffs Cottage, a relative stroll away. The Sect all gathered and enjoying Keith's liberal hospitality (about 8.30pm, on stage 11.30pm) so Vic and I took to the fray of Babel, sorry the main part of the arena, in search of sustenance. It is a shock to the senses.

"Battle of Moscow, 7th September 1812", 1822 by Louis Lejeune
 Vic likened his own feelings to those of Pierre on the battlefield of Borodino (ref:War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy) without the gore. Set out like battle encampments with the overpriced ( £2.50 for tea) stalls/bars (surprised to see so many ciggie stalls), arranged in a huge undulating circle filled with noise coming at you from all directions, thousands of people, the cloying smell of steamed and fried food assailing the nostrils and surrounded by tiers of marquees, tents and a plethora of small venues and 'right on' areas filtering outwards in to woodland.

Food wise there was a lot of choice, all expensive for what you were getting but very little that smelled appetising. Ian said the restaurant by the lake was good but you needed to have booked and cash only so we settled on toasties. Now, I cannot explain why (mixture of exhaustion, hunger and culture shock perhaps) but when I read 'BBQ chicken, tomato and onion toastie what I envisaged receiving was a toasted club sandwich so you can imagine my disappointment, it was pretty vile, should have stuck to cheese. I saw a sign saying milkshakes and I do like a good milkshake so headed over only to find they were only doing one flavour....Oreo. Saw another sign saying milkshakes so headed over, had higher hopes as could see from a distance that they had a list with loads of flavours but they turned out to be things like Rolo, Crunchie, Oreo(!), Galaxy Caramel, chocolate brownie, which all have their place in the chocolate hierarchy but have no business being in a milkshake - anyway settled on Galaxy, nearest to chocolate I thought.... but I was wrong, £4.50 of yuuch. Call me cynical but I wonder if it is a deliberate ploy that it is such a trek back to the camp sites for most  people (and where would you store four days of food anyway) to encourage on site spending. You can easily see how a family (or couple eating/imbibing) could end up spending £100+ a day on site.

 On our way back to the Alcove Vic and I did catch a bit of Bombay Bicycle Club, enjoyed that, I didn't really know what they were about before. I say saw but we were at the back with zillions in front of us so were actually watching them on one of the big screens. Back at base various members of Subway Sect were  still enjoying Keith's hospitality including receptacles of rum.
Courtesy of Kevin Younger

Vic and I were still quietly (very) pleased that there had been no further mention of tents meaning we would have to drive back but then Keith offered to sort tents/blow up beds for Mark, Kev and Yusuf and a pod for me and Vic, well what could we say but thank you?....... However, circumstances can change......for some reason we'd all been ignoring the weather forecast and at about 10pm 
the skies opened, lightening, thunder and while 23 Skidoo were on  (liked their first funk number but then got a bit ambient and trancy for me) the area backstage became a quagmire, what am I saying, everywhere was becoming a quagmire and the consensus quickly turned to 'drive home after'.
Courtesy of Kevin Jackman

Vic and his very merry men took to the stage just as the marquee roof started bulging alarmingly under the weight of the water, threatening to call a halt to proceedings (that and the thunder/lightening!),  Keith did a shout out asking people to push the water off and the Sect set took off, sometimes raucous, always entertaining (apart from the banter!). The ground was becoming increasingly bog like and spongy and although I took merch it wasn't possible to set up and didn't take camera out to film either, not water/mud proof. We didn't hang around after, a bit worried about the car getting stuck in the mud. So in the teeming rain it was a swift march uphill along muddy, puddle filled tracks to bring the car down to load up, with just the one iffy moment when the car did temporarily get stuck in the mud leaving the car park but still, loaded and on the road by 1.30am. drop off in East London just before 4am, stopped off at a garage to get sandwiches, we were starving, home just before 5am, sodden shoes removed, legs and feet washed then bed.

Total combined losses: one pair of prescription sunglasses and a few 30 Odd Years (wet box gave way), Kevin  thought his phone was lost but 
amazingly Keith found it. Gains: muscles a navvy would be proud of and amongst the miscellany of bruises, bites, scratches and stings I came back with was this whopper of a bite, glad I didn't catch sight of what it was that bit me! Despite everything, I'm glad, in a masochistic kind of way, that I got the chance to experience a festival like this,  I can understand the attraction for some (mostly those under 20 and families), I wasn't bored, very pleased to have met Keith and meet up again with Viv, Ian's other half but my views about outdoor mega festivals haven't altered a jot, in fact they are now entrenched. The VG&SS general consensus was never, ever, again. For a more balanced view of Latitude try The Quietus:
Gnu out and handing back to Gert - Blime, glad I wasn't there!!

Rebellion - A Big INDOOR Festival

Friday August 8th we're piling in to the  charabanc for a trip to good old fun packed Blackpool for Rebellion, Vic and the Sect are not on Bizarre Bazaar as previously reported but The Pavilion at 10.25pm. Gnu should have merch stand from about 9.30-11.45pm in The Pavilion. They are very organised and in advance, 250 groups and it's all inside, going to love it I know despite not being a 'punk' music fan.
Video below of great version of Blackpool at The Rigger Newcastle-Under-Lyme 03/05/2014 courtesy of Darren Green. 

Directors: Keith Rodway and Garth Twa

Patron: TV Smith

Very pleased that lovely Ben Browton aka Ben Shape (lots been happening at Shape central, info at link below) invited Subway Sect to round off their festival season at Trash Cannes Festival, Hastings, a three day event in September, Vic and Subway Sect playing on Saturday 6th at The Brass Monkey with special guests the New York Dollies, a female ukelele punk band. Tickets are now available for Trash'd 2014, including a three-day festival pass, which admits you to all four events, with a free fanzine/programme and other goodies for the first 10 passes sold. The price is £16.00,  a saving of  30% off on-the-door prices.  Please click on the online store button at link below to buy your tickets and find out more!online-store/cx9x
Catch up with what the 'reformed' Shapes have been up to at:

November: Vic back in Scotland with Subway Sect.
It's been two years since the Sect went north of the border, going to be a storming return with the added bonus of having The Sexual Objects on board at two gigs for Sounds in the Suburbs Presents at Stereo Glasgow on 14th November and The Voodoo Rooms Edinburgh on the 15th. For all gig info and tickets:

Recommendation Of The Year (apart from 1979 Now and 30 Odd Years of course!)
'A Moment Worth Waiting For' by Kevin Pearce 
Cover by Per-Christian Hille

Generally speaking I don’t like books about music/musicians, often only of interest to the dedicated music aficionado or fan but of no general appeal, however I have to make an exception for Kevin Pearce’s  ‘A Moment Worth Waiting For’ and I am frankly in awe at the breadth and depth of Mr Pearce’s research. You will not be surprised that this book is so engagingly written if like me you are a follower of Mr Pearce’s seminal series of essays ‘Your Heart Out’ which in his own words is
 ‘‘Dedicated to all those who take the time and trouble to share their enthusiasms and obsessions, for whatever reason, for little return, yet in so doing enlighten and illuminate, making the world a better place, leading us to sounds and people we never dared dream exist.’’
and Mr Pearce has himself done this for us in spades. The ‘Your Heart Out’ series ended earlier this year, leaving many wondering what further enlightenment and illumination we could expect from Mr Pearce and now we know, ‘A Moment Worth Waiting For’ has been worth waiting for and more than satisfies expectations.

    Kevin Pearce invites us to join him on his musical and cultural odyssey, centred around and emanating outwards from a couple of years in the early in 1980’s. It’s 1980,Vic Godard has just released ‘What’s The Matter Boy’ and right from the start Mr Pearce offers up a veritable feast to the reader, leading us down one musical pathway after another, many ending up in totally unexpected territory, but fear not, this is the author’s story and he is the guiding light throughout the book, joining the dots to give us a pretty extensive musical and cultural overview of the times. Quotes from a number of sources are ingeniously inserted in to the narrative, always apposite, in context, always credited and some very funny, eg the ones by people who have interviewed Vic Godard, I particularly enjoyed Dave McCulloch’s ‘Baarnaard’ swipes. 
 As well as Vic Godard & Subway Sect popping up here and there these are just a few more of the zones that personally resonated with me: Creeping Bent/Davy Henderson/The Fire Engines/Edwyn Collins/Orange Juice/The Pastels/Alan Horne/ Françoise Hardy/Marc Bolan/Jonathan Richman, so many more!Then there are the pathways to reggae, soul, punk, jazz, blues, radio and so much more to explore, you’ll have to delve in yourselves to find out what is in there for you and there is sure to be something that will pique the interest, illuminate and enlighten you.  Gertie Grocott
P.S. You'll find this favourite of mine in A.M.W.W.F. - Althea and Donna 'Uptown Top Ranking' -
P.P.S. Would love to see this in print so let’s hope there is an erudite publisher out there who recognises a good read when they see one.
P.P.P.S.Another favourite I've just rediscovered in A.M.W.W.F.- Robert Knight 'Love On A Mountain Top (no there isn't a section about songs with 'Top' in the title, just coincidence!)

Highly Recommended No 2

If you are planning a visit to Norfolk then The Control Tower on the former RAF North Creake Airfield, Walsingham, a couple of miles from Wells-next-the-Sea, is a unique vegetarian B&B you may want to consider. The exterior has been returned to its iconic modernist look and the interior is furnished with beautiful art deco fixtures and furniture.

James Garner
Vic and the gnu happened to be talking about the Rockford Files and the very talented James Garner on Sunday after their return from Suffolk when they heard he had died, rest in peace.
Here's Episode 1 Part 1 Series 1 of The Rockford Files:

 Odds and Sods

Train tickets for gigs booked so far - London - Blackpool, had to book coach for Blackpool - London on way back due to line works; London - Leicester; Leicester - Newcastle; Newcastle - Middlesbrough, Middlesbrough - London. London - Birmingham return. Hotels booked so far: Blackpool, Leicester, Newcastle, Middlesbrough, Birmingham, Wigan, Glasgow & Edinburgh.    Look out for reviews in upcoming blogs.                                                                                                             

Two sides of Dorset - the expanse of Weymouth Beach on the right and a place called Windspit on the Isle of Purbeck, a couple of miles outside Swanage, big caves are old stone quarries.

More outtakes from 'The Irvine Welsh Question' (see previous blog - Primera Persona)

Ambition number 12 in Mojo's Top 50 Independent records-


Dear Mr Khaled Mashaal (why are you hiding in Doha while your people die?) and Mr Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu, please just stop this killing of innocents, there is no justification on either side for aggression that results in the terrorising, maiming and killing of children. Yours, Gert

Dear Mr Putin, enough is enough, you can end the torment of the families of those murdered in the rebel held region of the Ukraine, be a real hero, close the border and send escorts to retrieve the remaining bodies and for the accident investigators and bring the murderers to account. Yours, Gert

Dear Mr Cameron and Mr Johnson, stop being hypocrites, stop supporting arms trading with murderers, stop Russian oligarchs, and their ilk, treating the UK (sorry London) as a tax haven. There have been claims that many of these uber wealthy Russians (and their ilk) are contributing significantly to the economy of the UK, I don't count contributing to tory coffers as contributing to the economy so I'd be interested to know what they are doing for Hartlepool for example. How about a punitive tax rate for starters?
Yours, Gert

Epitaphs: Common Form by Rudyard Kipling
'If any question why we died
Tell them, because our fathers lied.'