Friday, 22 February 2013

The Values in the studio with Neol Davies

2-Tone legend Neol Davies drove down to South London yesterday to help out with the recording of a cover version of All Out To Get You. The track will appear on the compilation C.D: "Specialized 2: Beat Teenage Cancer". Neol (whose name is pronounced "Neal") was the brains behind The Selecter and he wrote all their much loved hits - On My Radio, Theme From The Selecter, Celebrate The Bullet, Too Much Pressure, and Three Minute Hero. Other bands and projects Mr Davies has been involved with over the years include "The Radio Beats" and "Selecter Instrumental" - his solo album "Future Swamp" featured collaborations with Horace Panter of The Specials and Ronnie Wood of The Stones. In 2012 he was one of the headliners of The London International Ska Festival. Anyone who has heard Neol's recent recordings such as "Dolla Fe Dolla" will agree he's still more than able to deliver the goods. The Selecter and The Beat go back a long way. Neol picked The Beat as The Selecter's support act and both bands appear in the film Dance Craze. The Beat's original version of "All Out To Get You" was a hit in 1981 and featured on their "Wha'ppen" L.P. Neol seemed only too happy to help The Values record a decent cover for "Specialized 2" which will hopefully raise lots of much needed cash for Teenage Cancer Research. The Values version of A.O.T.G.Y also features some amazing sax from Paul Speare. (The keyboard player of Ranking Roger's version of The Beat is Micky Billingham. In the early 80s Micky and Paul were both in Dexys Midnight Runners together.) The track features singing from Mikey Georgeson (pictured below clutching a guitar.) The track's producer Julian Wakeling has come up with a fantastic new arrangement of the song. I'm looking forward to see what kind of reaction it gets from Beat fans. Neol recorded three great guitar parts to the track and was then persuaded to add a bit of slide guitar to a track called "Rio" which The Values began work on last Summer with Neil Innes and Horace Panter. Meeting Neol was a real pleasure. All of The Values are really delighted he agreed to help us out the way he has.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Q & A with Sean Flowerdew

The London Intl Ska Festival celebrates it's 25th anniversary with 50 acts across 12 events, all happening at famed and iconic London venues. Events planned include a free launch party at the Victoria & Albert museum (Friday 22 March), Rico Rodriguez & Jerry Dammers (DJ set) at the Jazz Cafe (Thurs 28 March), Studio One Thames Cruise, Ken Boothe, Trojan Explosion starring Freedie Notes (Montego Bay) and much more. Tickets available now from The organsier of the festival: Sean Flowerdew answered a few questions for me.
The Rebel: How many instruments can you play? Who taught you or encouraged you most? "I learnt classical piano when I was young. I think the biggest encouragement was having two parents who supported me and bought me my first keyboards, came to gigs and drove us to rehearsals. Them and having a bunch of friends that had the same passion of wanting to be in a band from about the age of 12. We made our first album by the time we were 15/16. Keyboards is the only instrument I play, though I write for every instrument."
The Rebel: What was your introduction to Ska? "I had a few introductions. My older brother Kev (Do The Dog skazine) had some singles by The Beat and Madness' One Step Beyond album. Fellow member of The Loafers Nasser Bouzida (now of Big Boss Man and The Bongolian) and his older brother had a load of 2 Tone releases as well. We were a little young for 2 Tone and only got to start going to shows around 84/85. By that time it was only Madness still going. So we'd go to see them and the likes of UB40. I remember seeing the Ghost Town video and thinking it was the coolest thing ever. Like many other from 2 Tone I discovered Prince Buster, Toots, The Pioneers and the world of Jamaican music."
The Rebel: Is running a festival stressful - how do you relax? "It can be if you let it. It's an incredible amount of work, which takes up far to much time. Spending time with my kids and writing music help me to remember what's important though and nothing is worth stressing over. There's always a way to make things work."
The Rebel: Who is the nicest person you've become friends with? Sean: "Lynval Golding has been a long time close friend. More recently Freddie Notes. I've been lucky to meet lots of nice people like Laurel Aitken, Horace Panter, Chrissy Boy and my old Loafers muckers who I'm very happy to say I still have friendships with that have lasted 35 years!"
The Rebel: What was the last great new band you heard? "I'm listening to tons of soul at the moment but mainly old stuff. I really like Michael Kiwanuka and the Hold On single by Alabama Shakes is pretty cool. I mostly listen to old music and always try to discover something new to my ears. My favourite songs of the moment is You & Me by Penny & the Quarters from the 60s. Raw as hell, but beautiful. And Aretha Franklin's version of The Weight with Duane Allman. As far as new ska and reggae acts go... well you just got to look at who I've booked for the ska festival.. Razika from Norway. Great to see them go in their national album charts at number 4 this week. The Sidewalk Doctors are working on a very cool sounding new record. The Upsessions from Holland. And really like Mr.T Bone & the Young Lions new single Then I Saw You. I also like what J.Bonner is doing in California with his Jani Disc label and productions. He used to be in The Aggrolites and plays sometimes now with Tim Armstrong from Rancid. Some of Tim's solo stuff I'm diggin as well."
The Rebel: Are you excited/nervous about the International ska festival, is it all going to plan? "It's without doubt been the hardest year to put together. Lots of people moving the goal posts on me, but finally I think I've programmed the best festival yet. So I'm very excited. When Ken Boothe agreed to come back to the fest I was like a kid again."
The Rebel: Which acts are you most looking forward to hearing? "All 50 of them!! It's going to be incredible. The opening night with Rico playing Man From Wareika is going to be historic. I've just confirmed Jerry Dammers to DJ the club night aftershow. Ken Boothe is one of the best singers I've ever heard and was sensational at 2011's festival, so can't wait to see him again. Our Studio One thames cruise is going to be totally unique, with BB Seaton from The Gaylads, Owen Gray and Vin Gordon. The boat is beautiful. A New Orleans style paddle steamer. They even open up Tower Bridge for us! Freddie Notes backed by The Upsessions will be something special at the 100 Club. The return of 100 Men with Mik Whitnall. He's been busy over the last few years working with Amy Whinehouse, Finlay Quaye and Babyshambles. Great to have him back with promise of new material. And of course Pama International's first London show in 2 years... with our new line up! There's so much going on... 12 events in all. Going to be an unforgettable event to celebrate our 25th anniversary!"
The Rebel: Horace Panter and Jerry Dammers have both said Rico is the best musician they have ever worked with. What is it about his playing that people respond to and respect? "Rico is an incredible person and musician and richly deserves any and all praise. I think because he played on so many fantastic JA recordings, then came to UK and started working with the likes of Georgie Fame and then of course The Specials and now Jools Holland he's transcended the generations more then any other artist."
The Rebel:What's the state of play with your band Pama International? Are they back for good? "From the start Pama International really was just a vehicle for my writing. We've had so many players over the first 10 years of the band come and go. It was a big collective style thing. It only stopped because I stopped. I needed a break and to work out where I was. So in the last couple of years I've relaunched the festival and written a bunch of songs. The first round of Pama always touched on a little bit of soul but this next album I wanted to be an out an out soul record and I'm very pleased to say I'm very happy with what's been done so far. The songs I was writing need a killer female voice, with undeniable soul power. After 2 years of searching and 2000+ auditioned I found her! Can't wait to release the first material!
The Rebel:Who would be the fantasy Ska line-up at a dream festival? Night one: The original line up of the Skatalites (Jackie Mittoo, Don Drummond, Lloyd Knibbs and Brevett, Roland Alphonso, Tommy McCook, Lester Sterling, Cedric Brooks, Dizzy Moore, etc) backing Jackie Opel, Alton Ellis, Ken Boothe, The Wailing Wailers, Phyllis Dillon, Hugh Godfrey, Marcia Griffiths, Prince Buster, Toots & The Maytals and Ken Parker. Followed a Sound System sound clash with Coxsonne Dodd vs Duke Reid with King Stitt, URoy and IRoy. Night two: A 2 Tone night with the original line ups of The Specials, Madness, The Beat, The Selecter and The Bodysnatchers. Night three: I'd have a 80s night with Potato 5, Hotknives, The Deltones, The Loafers, Forest Hillbillies, The Untouchables, The Ska Flames and Bim Skala Bim. Night four maybe bands that have done it for me in more recent years like Dead 60s, The Aggrolites, Hepcat, Stubborn All-stars...

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Looking back at David Devant & His Spirit Wife

David Devant & His Spirit Wife were one of the best live acts of the 1990s. If you come across their albums I advise you to snap them up immediately. What follows is a few old press clippings that came to light recently plus an old Rebel magazine interview with Devant front man Mikey Georgeson (who was also known as The Vessel).
Part One: Reviews of "Work, Lovelife, Miscellaneous" (the band's debut album released in July 1997 on Rhythm King/Arista Records) VOX Magazine: "This wonderful album distils the essence of British art college pop, nicking bits of everything from vintage Bowie to Blur, without forgetting to squeeze at least two or three melodies into each song. If they didn't look so odd to the producers of daytime and children's television, they'd be arm-in-arm with Suede and Pulp in a month or two, strolling through the Top Ten" David Kelly (7/10)
Q Magazine: "Taking their name from a long forgotten Victorian magician and his most illustrious piece of visual trickery, David Devant & His Spirit Wife are currently conducting a six man rearguard action on behalf of English eccentricity. Whether they're in it for the duration or just a quick laugh remains to be seen... both musically and lyrically the ideas flow freely, making for a relentless quirky entertainment. Ginger, the redheads' manifesto, has already proved its worth as a single. There's obviously more to them than first meets the eye".Peter Kane(3/5) Part Two: Reviews of concerts.
Melody Maker Magazine: "Tonight Glasgow witnesses art terrorism/glam/(subtly)political theatre gone MAD. Taking turns behind a guitar or a wurlitzer and in the eye of sturm, frontman The Vessel models Ferry's Bogart impression in the frame of Ziggy Stardust while wearing Ron Mael's moustache. It would be impossible to take your eyes off him if there wasn't so much to look at." - Dave Simpson
Loaded Magazine: "They're somewhere between The Kinks and early Bowie with a smattering of 96 mod pop and Trevor and Simon's World of Strange from early 90s Saturday morning TV" - David Plunkett
The Independent: "In an era where most Britpop stars have as much stage presence as a sack of wet compost DD&HSW's vaudevillean extravaganza is a rare delight. Utilising film, slides and a steady stream of DIY props, this sextet house their wry, glam-influenced pop in a multimedia assault on the senses. Think Ziggy Stardust via Vic Reeves' Big Night Out and you're halfway there." James McNair.
Part Three: Extracts from interviews The Rebel Magazine (2006) Harry Pye: Why fools fall in love? Mikey Georgeson: "Because they believe in the dream and they are pure of heart." Harry: Percy Sledge once sang: If a man loves a woman he'll sleep out in the rain and turn his back on his best friend if he puts her down. What say you? Mikey: "She will probably be his best friend... eventually. A lot of men would happily do both these things however because we all have innate Hamlet syndrome (discuss)." Harry: What single thing would improve your life? Mikey: "Having the number one song in heaven."
Select Magazine: "David Devant & His Spirit Wife, you may guess, aren't your average indie band. They've taken Warhol and The Velvet Underground's multi-media performance idea and added a pair of silver platforms, a massive wig and lots of magic. Live, they're an experience." - Gina Morris. Select Magazine: What's the biggest misconception about the band? Mikey Georgeson: "People think we're trying to be clever or ironic, but really we're far too infantile for that. We're honest - there's no irony whatsoever in our music. It's just that we're not honest in a 'shirt and jeans' way like Oasis." (July 99)
The Sunday Times: "DD&HSW may have a daft name and an off-the-wall-act. They may also be the future of rock'n'roll" Robin Eggar reports... "They are being noticed by all the right people. "Initially, I was intrigued by the look of them, by the name, by the image. Then I heard some really good songs," says Mark Radcliffe, the Radio 1 breakfast show presenter, who made Ginger his single of the week in March. "They are quirky, very different", says Jason Carter, a live music producer at LWT, in what might be the understatement of the year. "Six months ago I thought they might founder, but the music stands by itself and the signs are very good that their next record will go Top 40. Then, if they get picked up by Chris Evans' TFI Friday... who knows where it will end."

Liam Scully's Liquidation Art Sale

Legendary artist Liam Scully will soon be off to Iceland to undertake a 2 month residency at Skaftfell. Before he leaves London, kind hearted Liam is selling off some of his masterpieces to fans at rock bottom prices! Last night I went on the DLR to Bow to visit Liam's "Neverland ranch" and managed to get my hands on some superb drawings. Liam lives at 32 Warren House, (in the Bow Arts Trust area) - there is still time for you to visit him and buy some bargains. For more details phone: 07981005993
Above: (Harry Pye is stunned by the quality of Liam Scully's work) Photos by Jasper Joffe and Lizzie Homersham. Below image: "Chuck Norris" (2013)painted by Liam Scully
Drawing below: "Custard" by Liam Scully (2004)
With drawings available from as little as £50 this is an opportunity that can't be missed. Why not buy a Liam Scully painting for the art lover in your life as a Valentine's Day gift?