Thursday, 30 April 2009

The Lassitude Festival

Last week's Susan Boyle blog proved the simple Internet logic that if you write about a topic that is hot you get more readers. I'm not sure how many of you reading this only discovered A&Rmchair last week but I can promise you I won't be covering her this week. In fact it will be a very short this week. Why? Because I am devoting my time into staring into space like a person in an Edward Hopper painting. My doctor assures me that this lassitude has been brought on not by the swine flu but by a simple virus. Let's hope that's true. My friend Russell, who's a bigger hypochondriac then I am told me that he wants to contract the swine flu now so he can get maximum medical care and attention. He reckons there won't be the beds and drugs in two or three weeks. Apocalypse dot com.

Anyway there you go, I got another topical reference in this week - my stats are going to go THROUGH THE ROOF.

Frankly, I think I'd be better if I'd spent more time at home with the family last week. Instead I went out to see a play through glass, interview a fashion model and check out Bob Dylan's arse. The latter - which let's face it, is probably not in as pulchritudinous a condition as his re-blossoming career - was most of what we saw of him at the Roundhouse last Sunday. We actually had great seats, really near the stage, but Mr D, now no longer playing the guitar, had positioned his Vox Continental organ sideways on and was facing his two Costello-alikey guitarists. With his back to us. There were moments of greatness: Tangled Up In Blue three songs in, was lovely - a different arrangement which made the song darker and suited Bob's new 'old' voice.

But I was just not very well; coughing and sweating and wondering if I could reasonably lie down on the venue floor. It's not really not fair of me to pass judgement on a 67 year-old who is on a Never Ending Tour while I am struggling to just watch him for one evening but it would have been nice to get a bit of a clue as to who was on stage! The clue is in the name of course, it's the Roundhouse - he was circled by people. But turn around, he did not. In his Guardian review of 2001's Love And Theft album, Alexis Petrides refers to Dylan's grizzled voice as sounding like Papa Lazarou from The League Of Gentlemen. I made the mistake of mentioning this to my friends sitting next to me, which they found amusing, so subsequently the entire show was punctuated by crowings in my ear, "It ain't me, Dave!"

Anyway, I'm still in the land of the unwell so I'm going to stop here but in order that you have something to read - and sticking to last week's A&R decision theme, I will reproduce part of a blog which removed last year for reasons I won't repeat. Older readers may remember it and for that I apologise, others may find it as fresh and amusing as if I had written it yesterday.

See you next week.

I'm aware that you have to sell sell sell in order to get any 21st century attention but I still stand by the psychology of any talent search - a scout wants to hunt and gather; if something lands on his desk in a nice Jiffy with a glossy photograph, a DVD, a 10 track demo and a three page biography complete with accolades from the bass player of a well-known Danish metal act, he will pour the lot into the bin. Believe me, I'm not making it up. If you go into the Atlantic Records offices in The Electric Lighting Station and head for the basement, go to the office in the far corner and look above your head. If you push the central ceiling tiles up, underneath you will find a handful of particularly annoying biographies, unlistened-to demo tapes and other detritus from the early 90s - there is one, as far as I remember, from a would-be Motely Crue from the home counties called Tygertailz. Ah, happy days.

Actually, to be honest, I was a fairly responsible talent scout. I tried to give everyone and everything a fair hearing. Not for me the casual flinging of demo tapes out of the car window at 80mph on the M1. One example of my diligence is that I once received a letter from a certain Richey Edwards asking how he could become an A&R man. The Manics' manager once told me this several years later, I had completely forgotten about it. Apparently, I had written him a very encouraging letter which he'd never forgotten, outlining the best way of becoming a talent scout. He clearly didn't listen to a bloody word I said.

Talking of legends, I also remember getting regular calls from a promoter at the University of London Students' Union, who continually took on the management of terrible no-hoper bands. The reason I took his calls was that he was hilarious - a pleasure to talk to, genuinely nice, with a distinctive, infectious laugh. I still have a covering letter that came with one of his demos; written on headed ULU notepaper, it reads:

Dear Cunts in charge of the record industry,

Your label, or whatever the fuck it is you call it, doesn't half give me the horn.

Yours faithfully,

Ricky Gervais


  1. Dave-id Phillips (who worked for the Mean Fiddler) has a great Dylan story. He was doing the backstage for the Van Morrison headline slot at the Fleadh many years ago. Dylan was the suprise guest waiting in the wings for his cue from Van the Man. Dave-id was primed to open the curtains to reveal Zim to an ecstatic crowd. Unfortunately in his enthusiasm to open the curtains quickly, he managed to imprison Dylan within the folds, causing a two minute panic to release him. Dylan finally stumbled on stage but couldn't walk in a straight line because he was too dizzy. All Dave-id managed to blurt out was "Er, sorry, Bob".

  2. What a fantastic image - pure Morecombe and Wise. I love all non-apporved Dylan stories because his brand is so unerring that you kind of want to hear him going off message, like turning up at someone's house in Crouch End by mistake (true) or blowing off continually during the making of Blonde on Blonde. Nice to hear from you, Mr C by the way - did you know there is a Facebook Wubble U appreciation soc?

  3. Hey Wardle, what do I have to do to get as link up on your blog to my blog, loe ya?

  4. hang on a minute, that Dylan / curtain story is slightly wrong and I should know because I am Daveid Phillips. It was at a festival in Ireland (Waterford) not the Fleadh in London, and Dylan was trying to leave the stage not step out on to it. We were given very strict instructions not to even look in his general direction. I was operating the left side of the huge black wool surge curtain that I had to gather in by the armful and bungie tie it off to the rigging. Dylan and his band was supposed to leave stage right, so when I started to realize some prat had got caught up in the curtain I just barked "stage right mate, stage right!", imagine my surprise when I unfurled a really hot and bothered Bob complete with his guitar over his back, my mate who was operating the curtain on the other side had already fallen to
    his knees in uncontrollable laughter, as I did indeed just utter, the immortal..."sorry Bob"....

    I got some cracking stories from my 12 years working for the fucking loony that is Vince Power and the mean fiddler, including a really good John Martin one, but might be a bit too soon since his passing for that one...

    Big Love


  5. Daveid - you must tell us the John Martyn one immediately! B

  6. Boy Wonder - where do I find your blog? Send me a link!!

  7. can't believe I spelt Martyn wrong...promise to tell the story soon, it's a killer...


  8. OK, I think this must have been around 1991. It was a Sunday night and things were running late. The band had already sound checked and everyone was just waiting for John Martyn to show up. I had already been out on stage and made a couple of announcements to an already edgy sold out crowd. It was now something like 11.00pm on a Sunday and the place should of been closed but we were still waiting. I creeped outside for a spliff and a think. Some geezers were walking up the alley way holding up this really drunk bloke, and I said not tonight lads, we already got a load of grief, one of them answered with the immortal, "your problems have just started mate this is John Martyn" John Martyn by this point was sliding to the ground.
    "It's Ok just go out on stage and tell them he will be with them in 10 mins, and get some hot salt water to the dressing room"
    I duly went out and announced that John Martyn had arrived cue huge cheer and John takes to the stage. I'm watching from the side and he just about makes it through the first song before he takes a couple of unsteady steps and then projectile vomits this odd white liquid all over the first couple of rows.....

    I then made my way to the front door and handed back tenners to all who went out the door, on the upside, the bar did really well!, and he came back a couple of weeks later sober and played a wicked gig for free. God bless him and RIP.

  9. Daevid, truly I am not worthy of these stories. It's a shame that people like Johnny Borrell or the fella out of Keane don't go for the projectile vomit approach more often.

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