Monday, 1 September 2014

Buy Specialized 3 - a brilliant Madness tribute album in aid of The Teenage Cancer Trust

It would be Madness not to spend a piffling £18.49 on the new Specialized Compilation C.D
"Specialized 3: Mad Not Cancer" is over 4 hours of great music spread over 4 CDs. All your money goes to help The Teenage Cancer Trust. There are more than 40 songs (either written or made famous by Madness) that have been re-interpreted by some great musicians and bands including: Dennis Bovell, Horace Panter, Big Jim Paterson, Neil Innes, Terry Edwards & Porky The Poet.
My 3 personal faves on this compilation are Sound Syndicate's take on "Return Of the Los Palmas 7", Erin Bardwell Collective charming version of "Wings of a Dove" and Ska Dogs soulful cover of "Uncle Sam" all of which are far superior to the original versions.
http://www.specializedproject.co.uk/

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Piper's Son Live at Charlie Wrights (25/7/15)

Last Friday Piper's Son played an amazing set at Charlie Wright's Music Lounge in Pitfield Street, Shoreditch. The venue (run by John Nash) has been going since 1992. The Thai food they serve there has been rave reviewed in magazines such as Time Out.
Above: Photo One
Above: Leigh Clarke warming up the crowd with a smile.
Above: The Lads
Above: The new hornplayer!
Above: Piper's Son front man: Thom Driver
Above: Hello
(Above: Susan & Jasper with the legendary Peter Harris)
Above: Clarkey
Above: Pye and Coombes
(Above: John Nash with Thom Driver)

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Q & A with John Bentley

John Bentley is best known for being a member of Squeeze. John played bass on all the classic Squeeze albums (ArgyBargy, East Side Story, and Sweets From A Stranger) then left the band for a bit and then came back in 2007 to play sell out shows around the world. He has just released a splendid new record. Find out more by visiting here: http://www.planegroovy.com/planegroovystore.html and here: www.johnbentley.tv but before that why not read this funsize interview...
The Rebel Magazine: Based on a True Story is your 3rd solo album. Are you proud of it, do you think it's your best record yet? John Bentley: "As you can imagine - its a quite a challenge to put out an album of songs that has to stand alongside people like Difford & Tilbrook.(not Difford & Tilbrook but people like them)Now I know how Bill Wyman and Ringo must have felt! ...Based on a True Story is a labor of love, and I am very proud of it."
The Rebel: A lot of the lyrics seem dark - you talk about sinking into quicksand, hangmen wanting to be free, nurses telling you it's going to get worse etc. Are these dark times for John Bentley - or is it that when you're feeling happy you tend not to want to write a song about it? "Yes - some of the lyrics are bitter-sweet. The track 'Things could only get worse' attempts to expose the fragility of the human condition (pretentious moi?) - but it's all tongue in cheek. But I must admit - I always look at the darker side for inspiration. I recently went on holiday with my daughter, and our chosen destination was Transylvania! It was a lot of fun in a creepy kinda way!"
The Rebel: Chris Difford writes sleeve notes for the record. Do you go to his songwriter group sessions, does he ever suggest changes to your lyrics? "I've been on a couple of Chris Diffords song-writer workshops. One was in Italy which was an emotional rolla-coaster and would've made a riveting Reality TV Show. The other was on the Queen Mary II where I managed to get arrested and then interrogated by an armed security guard on suspicion of terrorism. CD's workshops are never boring - I dont think Chris would suggest a lyric change to anyone - but he does inspire and encourage song writers to step out of their comfort zones."
What's the story behind your song Elvis & Me? Do you remember when Elvis Presley died? "I'm talking about the other Elvis! And (more significantly) I do remember where I was when John Lennon was tragically shot in 1980 - in the studio recording East Side Story which was produced by Elvis Costello. Later that same year Squeeze were touring America with the Attractions, and Glenn Me Elvis and his bodyguard all went on a break to Las Vegas. No, I'm not making this up. So the song Elvis & Me is about that 'nefarious crew'."
The Rebel: Bill Wyman has said there are a few Stones songs like Satisfaction where he felt his contribution was such that he felt he deserved a share of the royalties. Did that ever happen with Squeeze? Were there songs like Someone Else's Heart where you felt your contribution deserved a writing credit? "Wow! Nobody's ever asked me that one before. The details are a secret between Me / Chris / Glenn and my accountant. But I will tell you that Glenn & Chris acknowledge my creative contribution to Squeeze and reward me very generously. My situation as far as I am aware, is totally unique - just like Glenn and Chris I suppose! Bill Wyman keeps cropping up then!"
The Rebel: Elvis Costello co produced East Side Story. What are your memories of him and do you think it would work if he produced a Squeeze album in the future? "I appear to be answering your questions before you're asking them. It's a bit like The Two Ronnies on Mastermind Sketch. Well assuming you've read my answer to question 5, then you already know that I was inspired to write a song called Elvis & Me - I will continue... There are lots of 'East Side' Stories - here's another one of them: One day I marched into the studio with some newly purchased singles (those were the days!) and Elvis Costello who is continuously and hugely interested in records wanted to see what I had bought. Amongst the 45's was a cover version of Billie Holidays Strange Fruit recorded by Robert Wyatt. EC was intrigued - surprisingly he had never heard of Robert Wyatt. We played the record through the studio speakers. It's a great great record - so emotional. I could see that EC was really impressed with the record. I thought no more about it until a few months later I heard 'Ship Building' on the radio, which EC had written especially for Robert Wyatt. Imagine my surprise!! Well... thats Showbusiness!"
The Rebel: I've interviewed a few bass players for The Rebel (Horace Panter, Bruce Thomas, Fernando Saunders) do you have many bass player chums? When you meet one do you talk about guitars and techniques? "I hope not. When Bass-players collide there's bound to be a bit of banter - but that doesn't include: "do you boil your own strings?" As Nick Lowe famously said " a Bass is just a piece of wood with some bits of wire attached" ...and I'm sure that's as true then as it was now."
The Rebel: When you're playing live with Squeeze are there many songs like Hourglass where you play differently to how Keith Wilkinson did on the record. Do you rate his style of playing? "I never thought anybody would have the balls to ask me that! But its an insightful question... And here's the answer... Glenn Tilbrook has very sharp ears. He hears EVERYTHING every musician in Squeeze plays ALL the time. - and during rehearsals in 2007 he turned to me saying that he noticed I had changed the Bass line to Hourglass. I replied that this was true but my bass line was in fact much better than the original. There was some eye contact, then he just turned away and didn't say another word about it. I've been playing it my way ever since. In the battle of the Squeeze Bass Players Harry Kakoulli comes out on top in my book. 'nuff said..."
The Rebel: Glenn and Chris both say in interviews that Some Fantastic Place is their best song. Do you have a favourite Squeeze song or a top 5? "My Squeeze top 5 in reverse order... No.5 the apocalyptic - There's No Tomorrow No.4 with Biblical proportions - Tempted No.3 the adolescent pubescent - Touching Me Touching You No.2 it's Non-PC - it's sexist - it's got the best guitar solo ever! - It's So Dirty No.1 Earth Shattering - The Knack (please note that this list goes down to zero) No.0 from the album 'Live at the Filmore' - Hope Fell Down."
The Rebel: I've always been a fan of Steve Nieve - what's he like to go on the road with? Is he a decent fellow? "I once had the honour of interviewing Mr. Nieve for Bentleys Blog. Here's a section from that exclusive/intrusive interview:
JB "Hi Steve .. and welcome to Bentleys Blog! Now I'm sure there are lots of things Squeeze fans will want to know about you... so I hope you dont mind if I ask you some rather personal questions about your childhood?"
SN "No no no .... fire away!" (Bang Bang - Bang Bang) JB "It must have been very difficult for you growing up with the name 'Nieve' .... how did you cope with all the cruel jibes you must have had at school?" SN ("?") JB "As a young boy - was your mother very strict with you?" SN "Let me make one thing very clear to you John - my mother was NEVER a young boy!" JB "It must have been amazing working with Elvis .... what was it really like playing in the Jordanaires?" SN "You mean the Attractions?" JB "I vill ask ze qvestions" hmmm? an interview within an interview! Is that a first?"
The Rebel: You offer your services as an engineer, producer and arranger to other bands and singers. Where is your studio based and who have you had in there recently? "I had my wife in there the other night.. Well most recently Tony Smith came over from France to record in my studio. He is the Singer/Composer/Frontman from French based group - Gone Dead Train www.gonedeadtrain.bandcamp.com Together we recorded 6 backing-tracks for their 2nd album. I played a bit of bass and drums on the tracks - or should I say Drum & Bass Innit And we wrote a song together called 'Running Outa Beatles' - which is FAB! Inde Band the Picardy popped in the other day in to record a few tracks - then they had to get back to work at Currys. Lord Craig Dacey is omni present in my studio recording music for his new musical 'TOWBAR'. The studio is located at the top of my house in East Preston which is on the South Coast of West Sussex. For more details go to: http://www.johnbentley.tv/production.html
The Rebel: What are your hopes for "True Story"? What next? "Putting out my record ...based on a true story on Vinyl is a dream come true. Having a record deal with Plane Groovy is just ... plane groovy. Anything else that happens with this record will be a bonus. We'd like to hear it played on the radio wouldn't we? And we'd like to play some of the songs from the album live with our beat combo - Officer Bentley. What's Next? I would love to get Bentleys Blog published... as a semi-autobiographical surreal coffee table graphic novel http://www.johnbentley.tv/bentleys%2Dblog%2D46.html

Monday, 23 June 2014

Art Below's Summer Show at Notting Hill's West Bank Gallery

My "The Warmth of The Sun" Beach Boys painting is included in a show curated by Ben Moore in Notting Hill and there's also a poster of the painting being displayed in Westbourne Park Tube Station. Here are some photos from the private view.
(Above: Outside)
(Above Mr Duggie Fields)
(Above: Mini Warhol Statue)
(Above: Pretty In Pink)
(Above: )
(Above: Faces)
(Above: Me and my masterpiece)
(Above: )
(Above:)

Ritchie Lamy Live at Tate Britain

Kind hearted Richard Lamy treated staff at Tate Britain to a free concert last week.
Highlights of his set included a fantastic cover version of "Take Another Little Piece of My Heart". Lamby was joined on stage by several guests including the lovely Adrian R. Shaw (who sang a very sweet and tender "Leaving On A Jet Plane")
Other numbers in the set included a frantic version of "Big Mouth Strikes Again", "Lola", and "Tequila". I had a great time.
Gary the warm up man deserves a special mention for his highly entertaining Tommy Cooper tribute.
And Important Tate Person Piers Warner gave a nice speech thanking Ritchie for being a splendid chap.
Hooray for Ritchie Lamy A man you don't meet everyday !

Friday, 20 June 2014

Jolie Laide

Plans are afoot to stage a 3 day exhibition at the start of October. The venue will hopefully be "Hotel Elephant" which is (opposite the Law Courts), 40 Newington Causeway SE1 6DR. The title of the show "Jolie Laide" is a compliment of sorts. It roughly translates as "Ugly Beautiful". The idea is to exhibit works that are unconventionally appealing or, work that walks that thin line between beautiful and ugly. The image above is a sculpture called La Grosse made by Craig Crosbie. Other artists penciled in for this show are Mac Honeyman, Kyle Hawkins Gordon Beswick, Sir Peter Blake, Mel Cole, Marcus Cope with Ross Walker, Rose Gibbs, Gavin Nolan, Peter Harris & Ray Davies, Edward Todd, Sandra Turnbull, Zac T Lee, Caroline Gervay, Neal Tait, and Julian Wakeling. The Jolie Laide exhibition will be part of Elefest. Rob Wray, the founder and director of Elefest, says: "the festival celebrates one of the most maligned and misunderstood areas of London". More news soon...
(Above: "Homer" by Marcus Cope & Ross Walker)

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Q & A with Simon Love

Simon Love is great. I saw his band play live in Shoreditch a few months back and was really impressed.
REBEL: Do you think there are any good new bands out there? Have all the good songs been sung? LOVE: "There are a few bands around that I like such as The Fireworks, Cosines & I Like The Go-Go. As to whether all the good songs have been sung? I think it all depends on the conviction of the person singing them."
REBEL: How many instruments can you play, which ones are you best at? LOVE:"I can get by on any of the main ones, but I'm probably best at the guitar. In a fashion."
REBEL: Is Mike Love your fave member of The Beach Boys? LOVE: "He seems like an egotistical, back-stabbing, no good, money-grabbing shit. So yes, of course he is."
REBEL: I love the Heroine song by Mikey Georgeson & Civilized Scene - what's it like collaborating and touring with Mikey? Is it difficult being in two bands? LOVE: "It's amazing being in a band with Mikey. His songs are always interesting & it's inspiring to be around such creativity. I loved the 1st David Devant & His Spirit Wife LP & used to watch them on Asylum in the mid-90s & marvel at their theatricality. The 1st time I met him he wasn't wearing the Vessel's wig so I didn't recognise him. It was only after the show I put 2 & 2 together & then a few months later he contacted me to join his new group."
REBEL: Are you proud of your Cardiff roots? Who are your fave Welsh people? LOVE: "I'm sort of proud. I've been living in London for 5 years now & there's something about this place that gets into you & dislodges your past. Whenever I go back to Cardiff it does feel a bit like you're doing everything in slow-motion. Which can sometimes be good of course. Amongst my favourite Welsh people are Shakin' Stevens (a childhood hero), Gruff Rhys & my Grampy- Eloy Rodrigues (not the most Welsh sounding name I know)."
REBEL: How important are record labels and managers in this day and age - can everyone do everything themselves these days? LOVE: "I'd say it depends on what you want to achieve. I've got an LP coming out later this year on Fortuna Pop who are an independent label who've had some success over the past couple of years with bands like Allo Darlin, Joanna Gruesome & September Girls but they're still a one-man operation. I think to have a manager is to announce that you're taking everything seriously which for me at my age seems a bit stupid. I treat music as a very expensive hobby that I can't give up. I've tried a few times but then get all itchy & realise there's a reason I've wasted the past 15 years of my life & probably thousands of pounds doing this."
REBEL: Where do you buy your clothes? LOVE: "Mostly from charity shops. I'm attempting to lose some weight at the moment though so I'm trying to not shell out on anything to swish until I'm slimmed down a bit."
REBEL: What's the best song you've released so far? LOVE: "I think I've got 3 songs that I can stand by & say "These are the best" "Xs & Os", "My Sweet Drunken Blues (For You)" & "Motherfuckers" The 1st 2 were released on an EP in 2006 by The Loves & the 3rd I've recorded 2 versions of that. The 1st was for a Xmas single my friend needed another song for & the other will be on my new LP. An early mix can be found on my bandcamp page- http://simonlove.bandcamp.com There's a song I've got called "Elton John" that'll be a single later this year that is quite good too. It's written from the perspective of Renate, the woman who married Elton John."
REBEL: Can you quote a line from a favourite poem? LOVE: "But she didn't do it & now it's too late" from "Too Many Daves" by Dr Seuss. It's such a funny & gently sad poem.
REBEL: Who was your fave member of The Velvets, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles? LOVE: a) The Velvet Underground- Sterling Morrison b) The Stones- Charlie Watts c) The Beatles- George Harrison "All 3 of them have a mysterious quiet dignity that I would love to be able to have."
REBEL: What is your idea of beauty in nature? LOVE: "I never really cared for nature til I moved to London. Someone introduced me to just going for a walk in the park which is something I'd never done til then. For me walking was a means of getting somewhere not just something to do (that's what telly's for)."
REBEL: What is your motto? LOVE: "Wanna be a gun-slinger, don't be a rock singer"
REBEL: What is your present state of mind? LOVE: "A bit miserable, a bit hopeful. Same old, same old..."