Monday, November 02, 2015

Four Lads Who Changed* the World.

“Still playing?” is a question I get asked more often than not whenever I bump into fellow veterans of the Heavy Big Pop wars, and I am happy to say that - with a few qualifications - I can truthfully answer that yes, I am. Obviously the actual playing element is fairly constant, albeit with the slight qualification that in a public space where anyone can see us doing so is a little more on the recherché side, if truth be told. The hen’s teeth element of my public appearances was one of the drivers behind making our final pre-gig rehearsal this month a public event in a pub just so that we could remind ourselves how to interact with an audience in real time without tripping over the monitors and banging on endlessly about how various instruments were “…in tune when we bought them”.
We’ve also been offered another engagement – Bank Holiday Monday, Easter 2016 since you ask – which gives us another goal to aim at, and also enough time to bulk out the set slightly more with the aim of achieving the two hour obligation we have accepted. Since we're currently up to about forty, forty five minutes, that should give us just about enough wiggle room. It was as a result of a throwaway remark from The Fragrant and Charming Helen Mulley (“I’ll try anything once”) during a conversation about the gig that I went back to a bunch of songs that hadn’t seen the light of day for a while in order to see if there was anything that fitted in with our Folk Popera concept regarding the themes of deception, betrayal and fairly poor eyesight** that we could dig out, freshen up and include in the set - the phrase "I'll try almost anything once" being one of the hooks in a long-dormant chorus.

I dug out my big book of lyrics, painstakingly hand-written in black ink on good grade paper in bound notebooks*** and started looking for thematically linked opportunities. Fortunately I seemed to have been going through quite a phase of that sort of malarkey at the time and so among the eighty five or so finished songs committed to the page for posterity's benefit a good few seemed fit for purpose. I dug out one of the CDs we’d compiled and got to work trying to work out the chords, riffs and hooks , a few of which I had completely forgotten were in some of these songs in the first place, a couple of which had been subsequently rehomed and many that I was still quietly proud of. At times I could remember exactly where and when we’d come up with some of the parts and they flooded back in to my mind like old friends, James's tightly-compressed out of phase guitar sigils as fresh as the day they were minted. Another of the things that came to mind was how brilliantly presciently our de-facto Benevolent Dictator had come up with song titles which would shortly to be appropriated by platinum-selling acts on major labels. By the time I joined the band he’d already written ‘Big Love’ (not by Fleetwood Mac) and ‘Faith’ (not by George Michael) and during our time together we would go on to curate ‘I Feel for You’ (not by Chaka Khan) and ‘Better than the Rest’ (not by Bruce Springsteen) among others.               

In case you think I’m veering toward the vainglorious with reference to my formerly glittering career, by the way, I should mention that only this week someone came up to me at the bus stop and asked when The Star Club were getting back together again, and that’s a band who haven’t really fired a shot in anger since 2011. Yesterday I was at a kids’ birthday party when one of the other parents started reminiscing about As Is. “Still playing?” he asked. 


**There are too many examples of sailor boys disappearing for a couple of years off along the Spanish Main or some suchlike only to return all in disguise and not being recognised by their true loves for this to be anything less than coincidental and actually down to ongoing ophthalmic issues.
***You may laugh, but at least three electronic storing formats have become obsolete in the time since I wrote some of those down.



1 comment:

John Medd said...

I think there's a lucrative market out there in borrowing other people's song titles and putting your own tune and words to them. I like to do such things myself, as it goes. Whilst simultaneously chucking in things like brackets and colons.