Monday 5 August 2013

Summer rolls on

We went to the place where Catskill Creek joins the river Hudson. There's a park with a bandstand on the river bank with a hamburger concession and picnic tables. Every Thursday during the summer they have a concert. This week it was a faux Beatle group. As we arrived they were knocking out You Can't Do That and it actually sounded quite good except that the instrumental section went by without an audible guitar solo, lots of You Can't Do Thats but no solo. 

Thank you George and now Mister Paul McCartney all the way from Liverpool England...

There was too much chat between songs while guitars were changed extra something for our most avid fans, we like to do them exactly as we recorded them back in the day... Are there any Rubber Soul fans here tonight? This ones a request for a lovely lady – I think her name was Rita but it might be Martha my dear or Lucy in the sky, something like that, hey up!...'
OK, are you ready mates?
Thank you Paul
Thank you John
Thank you one and all. The Beatles from the Yellow Submarine film, all sacherine and no acidity.

You Can't Do That was a high point. We left during the Hey Jude singalong. A two man Mexican wave broke out – actually it was two woman having a really great time. A large beery man slumped in a Walmart garden chair shouted boozilly along. The whole family were there – it was a family occasion. The wife, her sister and a cousin or two all piled up in Walmart garden chairs. The chairs still had their tags on, the garden chair aisle must be empty tonight but they'll all be back tomorrow with grass stained feet and sagging seats.

I dread to think what next weeks attraction might be. Last week it was The Ponytails and that was a washout apparently because the PA was under-powered and then it broke down and the concert had to be abandoned because The Ponytails do the sixties to a backing track and you couldn't hear either it or them.

Not that we could anyway because we were rocking out in Wilmington, Delaware with Ian Hunter. The Queen is a large refurbished movie theatre with two venues – a small one upstairs where NRBQ were playing and a bowels to rooftop rock auditorium with every mdern rock convenience and a lot of dining tables. And that's where we were. It put me in mind of a land-locked liner, especially when the audience came in – we could have been on a Saga cruise
And please don't think I mean any disrespect to either our audience or Ian's, it's just a sharp reminder that we're all getting older. A few years ago when my daughter, Luci, was working as a care assistant in a home for the elderly she called me one day with the news: Dad! We've got our first senile hippie!

Anyway, apart from the weirdness of being in a place where you basically get a better seat if you eat dinner – I've never got on with that idea, I'm the man who told the audience at Joe's Pub in New York City that it would have been better if they'd eaten before they came out – the show was pretty fabulous. We got a standing ovation which sort of surprised me because I thought we were playing quite well but I wasn't sure if we were connecting. Ian and his band were really great – pretty fabulous...really great – I should be writing for Record Mirror in the early seventies: the bass guitarist and drummer laid down a mighty beat, the two lead guitarists knocked 'em dead and the singer had a terrific image. I see no reason why they shouldn't make number one by Christmas!

Ian asked us to come on and sing the backing vocals on All The Young Dudes – that was if we didn't mind hanging around until the end. He's the nicest person. I'm in awe of him (hope he doesn't read this) but he's just so nice to us. I couldn't help thinking back to summer 1972 when that record first came out – it was relevant in a line with My Generation and Friday On My Mind, it spoke to me then and I still think of it as one of the most important pop singles of all time. I never would have imagined that one day I'd be standing on a stage with Ian Hunter, singing the chorus with the wife! I hoped I sounded a bit like David Bowie but I don't know because the monitor was turned off so we couldn't hear any of what we were singing. There's always something.

Maxwell's the week before was one of the highlights of the year. I'm glad we got a chance to play there one last time before it closes down. It doesn't do to get too sentimental about these places – they have their day and when it's over it's ridiculous to pretend it isn't. I never subscribed to keep CBGBs open at all cost, it was a dump, it served its purpose, it was falling to bits. And punk is long dead. Likewise The Marquee Club, The Nashville Rooms, The Hope & Anchor and Dingwalls Dancehall. I miss them all but I'm glad they aren't around any longer. Though in fact the Hope & Anchor still is and it's a travesty – it bears no relation or resemblance to the place it was when it was somewhere everybody used to play. Admittedly it's a lot cleaner and you probably won't get rotgut from drinking the draught beer or wade through piss to get to the toilet, but what's the point? It hasn't even got the jukebox – it was widely acknowledged as the best jukebox in London, and I'm proud to say it had several of my forty-fives on it at one time or another.

So what is the point here? Yes, I know – I'm going to miss Maxwell's but the scene is changing along with the neighbourhood. It's how it has to be. I miss the Lakeside Lounge too but that neighbourhood might as well be a different planet now. 

But life carries on - somewhere else.

And now I find that Mick Farren has died. I first met him back in the seventies when he had an EP out on Stiff Records called Screwed Up – it was actually Mick Farren & The Deviants. My copy has long gone which makes me sad because I loved that record – Outrageous Contageous, Let's Loot The Supermarket, Screwed Up – I'm addicted to myself...
He was a lovely, funny man.

While I was making my first album Stiff Records decided I needed a fan club and charged me and Larry Wallis with thinking up a name for it – they probably thought it'd keep us out of trouble for a while. I came up with The Girls In The Nude Club, Larry changed it to Fun Club and Mick Farren came up with the killer strap line – Remember, there's one under every dress. The Stiff drones, Paul Conroy and Alan Cowderoy were appalled, this wasn't what they'd had in mind for the shiny new all-wholesome Stiff Records Mk 2. Mick made sure it got used by writing about it in the NME. The record company office was inundated with requests to join, sadly all from boys, which wasn't quite what we'd had in mind.

I loved all that lot – The Pink Fairies, The Deviants, The Pretty Things, Hawkwind... the Notting Hill Gate scene I suppose it was. They were kind and understanding, they got it, Stiff Records, the early punk thing. If it flew in the face of what was considered to be normal, decent and acceptable they were all for it.

The way it's going puts me in mind of the coastal erosion at Happisburg in Norfolk. I considered buying a house there about ten years ago. Last time I went there the street the house had been on wasn't there anymore – it had all fallen off the cliff onto the beach which is now larger than it used to be and strewn with construction debris to which vestiges of patterned wallpapers still cling. JJ Cale died the same day as Mick Farren – you look away for a couple of seconds and there's another one gone. Trevor Bolder died in May without me noticing – I found out about that last week. Still, there's no sense in getting depressed, it's all part of life's great adventure and we really don't have any choice (in spite of what some might say).


  1. What i like about you Eric is that you might have a bath in nostalgia,but you always get out before it gets cold and scummy :)cheers Bernie

  2. I agree with Bernie's comment. Excellent post. Curtis Roberts

  3. Nostalgia, perhaps, but it's good to get this stuff from the horse's mouth rather than what we usually get from the other end.

  4. Mick Farren, JJ Cale - and now Elmore Leonard maybe not technically a rock'n'roller - but actually, in terms of the creative spirit of the thing, yes he was..been a sad month