Saturday, December 31, 2016

Midge Ure (Slik,Rich Kids,Visage, Ultravox, Band Aid)




James Ure was born in Cambuslang, in Lanarkshire in 1953. He attended Rutherglen Academy and left school at 15 to study engineering at college. James learned to play guitar and joined Stumble (c. 1969 – c. 1971) . He later became a guitarist for cover band Salvation in 1972 and performed at Clouds a Glasgow discothèque. There were too many Jimmys in the band and to avoid confusion band leader, Jim McGinlay christened James Ure's, ‘”Mij,” as in Jim backwards. The name stuck and in 1974 when Kevin McGinlay left to pursue a solo career, Midge Ure took lead vocalist as well as playing guitar. The band changed their name to Slik later that year and song writers Bill Martin and Phil Coulter provided the songs. They had a Number One single with "Forever and Ever" in 1976.



The band were keen to embrace Punk and went through lineup changes including renaming themselves PVC2. “Put You in the Picture” was released but the band quickly faded.



Ure then joined Glen Matlock (former Sex Pistol) in Rich Kids and moved to London. The lineup of the new wave band was Glen Matlock (vocals and bass), Rusty Egan (drums), Bill Smyth (vocals/guitars/keyboards), Steve New (vocals/guitars), and Midge Ure. During 1977 to 1978 the band released one album, Ghosts of Princes in Towers (produced by Mick Ronson), and three singles but commercial success eluded them. The band broke up in 1979.



Midge now playing synthesizer formed Visage with lead vocalist Steve Strange and signed briefly to Radar Records for the release of their first single "Tar". It failed to attract airplay and the band singed to Polydor Records in 1980, and released second single, "Fade to Grey.” It became a massive hit. Meantime in 1979, after Gary Moore left Thin Lizzy while the band was touring the US Midge briefly joined the lineup. He continued with the band to Japan and at the end of the tour left to pursue other projects. Ure continued to collaborate with Phil Lynott and co-wrote his biggest solo hit, "Yellow Pearl". The song became the theme to Top of the Pops (TOTPs). Midge left Visage in 1982.





Around this time Midge Ure, Billy Currie (keyboards, violin), Chris Cross (bass) and Warren Cann (electronic drums) resurrected a synthpop band called Ultavox. The title track of their first album Vienna was an instant hit in 1981. The album too became a best seller. The second album Rage in Eden also sold well. Despite the success of Ultravox Midge was also keen to reconvened Visage and recorded the band's second album, The Anvil. The third Ultravox album, Quartet, was produced by George Martin and featured four Top 20 singles. In 1987 Midge left Ultravox to establish his own solo career.



Midge’s first solo single was Tom Rush’s “No regrets” in 1982 and made the UK Top 10.



Two years later he co-wrote and helped produce the Band Aid single "Do They Know It's Christmas?" which has sold 3.7 million copies in the UK . Ure co-organised Band Aid, Live Aid and Live 8 with Bob Geldof. Ure acts as trustee for the charity, and serves as ambassador for Save the Children.



In 1985 he had a No. 1 solo hit with "If I Was" and his solo album The Gift reached No. 2 in the UK.



In 2009, Midge Ure and the other members reformed Ultravox for the Return to Eden tour to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Vienna album, followed up the next year with a second round of the tour. In late 2010 Ultravox started working on their sixth album Brilliant, fronted by Midge Ure. In November 2013, Ultravox was special guests on a four date arena tour with Simple Minds.


Please think about making a contribution Band Aid Thirty

Friday, December 16, 2016

Clyde Valley Stompers



The Clyde Valley Stompers were formed in 1952 in Glasgow, Scotland. The amateur trad jazz group quickly found a following at the Astra Ballroom in Glasgow and when band leader Jim McHarg (bass) immigrated to Canada two years later he was replaced by trombone player, Ian Menzies (1932 - 2001). Soon after the band became a full-time professional group. During the 50s the moldy figs like Chris Barber, Humphrey Lyttleton, Acker Bilk and Kenny Ball became popular and the Clyde Valley Stompers extended their popularity beyond Scotland and released several records on the Beltona label.



Essentially they were a live act and the recordings never quite caught their energy subsequently their records did not sell especially well beyond their loyal following. The band members included, successively, Charlie Gall and Malcolm Higgins (trumpet), Jimmy Doherty, Forrie Cairns and Peter Kerr (clarinet). The rhythm section included pianists John Doherty, John Cairns and Ronnie Duff, banjo players Norrie Brown and Jim Douglas, bass players Louis Reddie, Andrew Bennie and Bill Bain, and drummers Bobby Shannon, Robbie Winter, Sandy Malcolm and Billy Law; and vocalists Mary McGowan, Jeannie Lamb and Fionna "Fiona" Duncan.



Dubbed ''the most travelled jazz band in Europe,'' they appeared in village halls and big venues alike and even topped the bill at Liverpool’s Cavern. As their popularity grew internationally the band moved to London, and signed for Pye Records.



There they were managed by Lonnie Donegan and toured with him as well as other top names including Louis Armstrong, Shirley Bassey, Petula Clark and blues legend Big Bill Broonzy.



Sometimes the band were billed at the Clyde Valley Stompers and others as Ian Menzies and the Clyde Valley Stompers.



In 1962 they had a UK Top 30 success with ‘Peter And The Wolf.’



“Stompermania” predated the Mersey Sound but had all the same intensity. The Clyde Valley Stompers were the first trad jazz band to appear on the Royal Variety Performance, when it was held in Glasgow Empire. Their popularity in the UK was enhanced with guest appearances on television's Morecambe & Wise, Russ Conway, and Thank Your Lucky Stars shows. In 1963 the band appeared in a British musical called It's All Happening (The Dream Maker) and starring Tommy Steele..



As the fad for Trad Jazz passed the group disbanded in 1963. Over the decades the band has occasionally re-formed to perform as The Clyde Valley Stompers Reunion Band which included Jim McHarg.



Worth a listen
Lonnie Donegan Presents Ian Menzies and Clyde Valley Stompers
The Swingin' Seamus (EP) (1959)
Roses of Picardy/Beale Street Blues/
Gettysburg March/Swingin’ Seamus

Ian Menzies and Clyde Valley Stompers
Big Man (1961)
Play the gypsy (1961)
The fish man (1966)

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Lord Rockingham’s XI : Harry Robinson (1932 – 1996)




Henry MacLeod Robertson was born in Elgin, Moray, Scotland in 1932. His professional music career began in 1957 as composer and conductor for TV shows such as Six-Five Special (BBC) [1957] and Oh Boy! (ITV) [1958].



He also worked for record labels EMI and Decca, and was musical director for many artists including Craig Douglas. When Jack Good wanted a backing band to segue together the guest stars on Oh Boy! He asked Harry to put the band together.



Robinson gathered ten session musicians including Red Price and Rex Morris on tenor sax, Benny Greene and Cyril Reubens on baritone sax, Ronnie Black on double bass, Cherry Wainer on organ, Bernie Taylor and Eric Ford on guitars, and Don Storer and Reg Weller on percussion. Kenny Packwood (guitar) and Ian Frazer (piano) joined the group later. Good decided to call the house band Lord Rockingham's XI i.e. on a play on the words "rocking 'em” and they were billed as Good Presents Lord Rockingham's XI. This would later become a bone of contention but meantime the house band proved very successful playing a wall of sound with a stomping beat. They recorded "Fried Onions" b/w "The Squelch “but it failed to chart.



A second single "Hoots Mon" (based on the traditional ‘A Hundred Pipers’) was however an instant hit and became UK #1 in 1958. The first instrumental to do so and the hook line 'Hoots Mon! there's a moose loose aboot this hoose’ proved an international success. The record was one of the first rock and roll songs to feature the Hammond organ.



At the end of Oh Boy! problems arose concerning the rights to the name Lord Rockingham XI. The legal case that followed was settled out of court and the group began recording and touring. They made several records including “Wee Tom," (1959) “Ra-Ra Rockingham," (1959)"Long John ," (1959) and "Newcastle Twist" (1962), but they would never repeat the same chart success.















The group eventually disbanded to pursue their own solo careers.

Harry Robinson went on to become a very successful film composer writing dozens of UK film scores including, ‘It’s Trad, Dad! ‘(US title: Ring-A-Ding Rhythm) released in 1962.



He was also involved with many Hammer Horror film scores. He continued to work in television as an arranger, songwriter, and composer and is also credited with the string arrangement on Nick Drake's track "River Man" (1969).



On the West End stage Robinson arranged and conducted the Lionel Bart musicals Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'be (1960) and Maggie May (1964).







EMI did attempt to resurrect Lord Rockingham's XI in 1968 and released an album of contemporary covers directed by Harry Robinson called The Return of Lord Rockingham, but it failed to chart. Harry Robinson continued to work until his death in 1996.

Footnote
In rather an unusual twist Harry Robinson married model and photographer Myrtle (Ziki) Arbuthnot who inherited the Wharton Barony in 1990. She became Lady Wharton, 11th Baroness Wharton and sat in the House of Lords.



Worth a listen
What The Butler Saw EP (1958)
Lord Rockingham's Lament/ Fried Onions
Blue Train/ Lord Rockingham Meets The Monster
Wee Tom/ Lady Rockingham, I Presume? <1958)
Ra-Ra Rockingham/Farewell To Rockingham (1959)
Newcastle Twist/ Rockingham Twist (1962)

Nick Drake
River Man (1969).

Monday, December 12, 2016

Scottish origins of the AF1 deubré




If you are a certain age, Thingummyjig (1976–83) was a Scottish Television program showcasing the best in haggis, heather and tartan talent. The program was hosted by the acerbic, Jack McLaughlin (aka “The Laird o’ Coocaddens”). The origins of the term ‘thingamajig’ (n), in its many spellings, remain unclear but may stem from Middle English ‘thing’, derived from Old English þing, from Proto-Germanic *þingą. The word originally meant "assembly", then came to mean a specific issue discussed at such an assembly, and ultimately came to mean most broadly "an object". Thingamajig appears in the English language around 1824, but is predated by thingumbob (1751), and thingummy (1796). Synonyms include: dohickey, doohickey, doodad, doover (Australia), doomaflatchy, gizwiz, kadigan, thingamabob, thingumabob, thingummybob, thingo (Australia), thingummy, whatchamahoozie, whatnot, whatsit, and whatchamacallit. Something whose name has been forgotten or is not known.. The earliest recorded variant of ‘whatchamacallit’ is what-calle-ye-hym, attested from late 15c. A modern equivalent, origin unknown, is the Scottish term ‘doobrie,’ meaning something unspecified whose name is either forgotten or not known; a thingy or whatsit. < br>


The collective name for given to these words is placeholders which typically function grammatically as nouns and can be used for people, objects, locations, or places. Most are documented in at least 19th century literature.



In 1994, Damon Clegg, a Nike footwear designer, when presenting features of his design for a Nike ACG boot, and when he came to describe the ornamental shoelace tag, (which lacked a name). he instinctively used the term ‘doobrie.’ Clegg had heard his college roommate use the placename when he was unable to remember a specific name. His college friend was from Glasgow. The audience took the term ‘doobrie’ for a technical term, and the word caught on. Over time, the pronunciation evolved to doo-bray with various spellings. Eventually with the publication of a catalogue for the Nike Air Force 1 in 2006, Nike introduced the "deubré".



The deubré has two holes through which the shoelace is threaded, like a bead on string. When the shoe is laced, the deubré is centered between the first two eyelets (closest to the toe), with the shoelace passing through and behind the deubré. A deubré is typically made of metal, plastic, or leather, and may be decorated with a logo or text. Sometimes the deubré acts as a lace lock, eliminating the need for tying. A deubré may be used on a dress shoe or an athletic shoe.



Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The (above) Average White Band (AWB)




Alan Edward Gorrie was born in 1946, in Perth, Scotland. He went to Dundee Art School and played bass guitar. Alan loved the blues and in 1966 co-founded the Blue Workshop in Perth as a place where musicians could interchange line-ups and explore the free form side of jazz, blues and soul. The Blue Workshop was held at The County Hotel, in County Place, Perth in their upstairs function suite. It was also the home of Perth Folk Club.



There was limited opportunity for like-minded musicians to play together outside paid gigs, which were mostly mainstream. The Blue Workshop allowed them to jam and listen to new albums, not commonly available in the UK or played on the radio. Regulars included Alan’s college mates, Malcolm ‘Molly’ Duncan and Roger Ball, (later dubbed the Dundee Horns by Maggie Bell); Jim Mullen (double bass); and a 17 year old Robbie McIntosh (1950 - 1974) on drums. Sixty miles away in Glasgow, Onnie McIntyre and Hamish Stuart played at the late night, blues /soul venue, the Picasso Club, Glasgow.



By 1967, Alan Gorrie and Onnie McIntyre had joined forces in the Scots of St James, and worked mainly as backing for visiting American soul artists. They also toured Germany playing clubs and US military bases but failed to catch attention with their vinyl releases.



In 1970, Roger Ball and Molly Duncan joined a jazz rock band called Mogul Thrash and released and album and single, "Sleeping in the Kitchen.” Neither attracted much attention in the UK but sold respectably well in Europe. Mogul Thrash disband shortly after the record's release.



Robbie McIntosh had joined the white soul band, the Senate, and backed touring acts like Ben E. King, Solomon Burke, Big Maybelle, and Garnet Mimms. He left to join The Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express with Jim Mullen, The initial Brian Auger's Oblivion Express album was released in 1971, listening to it you can begin to hear the genesis of the AWB.







Meantime, Alan Gorrie (bass guitar, piano, vocals), Onnie McIntyre (guitar and vocals) and Stuart Francis (drums) formed Hopscotch and the line-up was completed with Hamish Stuart (vocals) and Graham Maitland (piano/vocalist). Hopscotch released two singles but neither would chart. Hamish Stuart left to form Dream Police in Glasgow.



Dream Police quickly became one of Scotland's bigger crowd pullers along with Chris McClure Section, the Poets, the Stoics, Tear Gas and the Bay City Rollers. Despite their obvious appeal the band had little or no commercial success with their singles and gradually began to break up. Hamish quit to form Berserk Crocodiles with Matt Irvine (keyboard and vocals), drummer, Wullie Munro (Tear Gas) and Frazer Watson (Trash) in late 1970/1971.



After Hopscotch disbanded, Gorrie, McIntyre and Francis formed Forever More, with Mick Strode (aka Mick Travis) on guitar. The progressive rock band was based in London, under the management of managed by International Artists. They toured extensively both UK and Europe. When not on tour, their contracts allowed them to work at pubs, clubs, concert halls, and festivals; and as session musicians in various studios in London. In 1972, McIntyre and McIntosh record live with Chuck Berry at The Lanchester Arts Festival and it was released as The London Sessions featuring Chuck’s fist and only UK No.1 single 'My Ding-A-Ling'.



The group appeared as a band pursued by groupies in Lindsay Shonteff's cult hippie movie. Permissive (1970) and produced two RCA albums: "Yours" (1970) and "Words on Black Plastic" (1971). The former made the lower end of the American Billboard Charts.







The band briefly became Glencoe, but Alan Gorrie started working in the studio with the Dundee Horns, McIntyre and McIntosh had become almost a permanent fixture at Island Studios working individually and/or together on various sessions, including Johnny Nash's 'I Can See Clearly Now' (1972). They Scots lads earned the nickname “the Team,.”



Gorrie and co were so happy with the results they decided to form a band. The new line was : Alan Gorrie (singer and bass), Onnie McIntyre (rhythm guitar, backing vocals), Roger Ball (sax, horn arrangements, keyboards), Malcolm “Molly” Duncan (tenor sax) and Mike Rosen (trumpet), and Robbie McIntosh (drums). Michael Rosen was quickly replaced by Hamish (Black Throat) Stuart. Robert Stigwood suggested Robin Turner as their manager and actor (Sir) Stanley Baker financed the project. It was Alan’s idea to bring the band together but unmistakably Robbie drove their sound and they were soon catching attention with a tight, soulful sound. The band literally introduced The Metropolis to white soul music but were lacking a name. The band appeared at The Great Western Express Festival. Bardney. Lincolnshire in 1972, as the Average White Band. The name had started as an ‘in joke’ but just stuck.



Bruce McCaskill (Eric Clapton’s tour manager) acquired a recording of the band rehearsing and played it to Bonnie Bramlett, who was looking for funky band to back her on her debut solo album, Sweet Bonnie Bramlett. She had the band fly out to out to Los Angeles for six weeks in the summer of 1972. Once in LA, the band indulged themselves in the music culture and made some very influential friends. They arrived back in London full of ideas and armloads of potential new material.



In 1973, AWB were invited to be the support for Eric Clapton's comeback concert at the Rainbow Theatre in Finsbury Park, London. The band earned rave reviews and were immediately signed to MCA records. Bruce McCaskill, agreed to become their manager and their first album, Show Your Hand was released later the same year.



After the album failed to catch much attention, Bruce McCaskill borrowed money and took the group to the LA, where they started to record their follow up album. When MCA turned it down, Jerry Wexler heard the tapes, and signed them to Atlantic Records. He allocated producer, Arif Mardin to oversee them in Miami's Criteria Studios. The album was finished at Atlantic Studios in N.Y., where Gene Paul was assigned as the engineer best equipped to capture their sound. They adopted the abbreviated moniker AWB and The White Album (AWB) was released in October, 1974. The single, “Pick up the Pieces,” an instrumental, went to #1 on the Billboard Pop chart, but this would be a bittersweet moment for the band, for just prior to its release, on the last night of a triumphant week at The Troubadour, Robbie McIntosh died of a drug related incident at a celebratory Hollywood party in September 1974. The single had been released in the UK in July 1974, but failed to charted, when if was re-released a year later, it climbed to number six.



Scotland’s blue eyed soul boys had arrived in America and as both a tribute to their knowledge of funk and a tongue-in-cheek play on the Scottish band's name, The J.B.'s, (James Brown’s backup band), released "Pick Up the Pieces, One by One", under the name AABB (Above Average Black Band). What a tribute.



For their third album, ‘Cut the Cake’, Steve Ferrone (Bloodstone and Brian Auger's Oblivion Express) replaced Robbie McIntosh. It was never going to be an easy job to complete this album as naturally feelings were high and progress was plagued by creative and artistic differences. After several members of the band walked out of the studio Arif Mardin considered pulling the plug on the project, but presevered and the final album was dedicated to Robbie’s memory. ‘Cut the Cake,’ topped the Billboard R&B Chart and reached Number 4 in the US Album charts. The title track reached #10 on the Billboard pop singles chart and “Schoolboy Crush,” and “If I Ever Lose This Heaven,” also charted. Until they appeared on Soul Train many people thought they were an African American soul band.











The record company issued’ ‘Put It Where You Want It’ in 1975 , but this was a repackaged Show Your Hand . "How Can You Go Home" replaced Jugglers in the reissue and the album peaked at #39 on the Billboard Top 200.



“Soul Searching” was released in 1976 and went to Number 9 in the US album charts as well as going platinum. The singles did less well, with "Queen of My Soul," reaching number 21, and the other stand out track "A Love of Your Own," failed to make the Top 100.











In 1976, the group released a live album entitled “Person to Person” to showcase their live abilities. The following year, they were invited to join the Atlantic All-Stars at the highly-regarded Montreaux Jazz festival in Switzerland. Benny & Us, was a collaboration with soul legend Ben E. King, in 1977. They met while the band were on vocation in Miami and decided to combine their talents. The album is both soulful and funky and became Ben E King’s best selling album, rising to number 33 in the US charts. The double A side, "A Star in the Ghetto"/"Keepin' It to Myself" made respectable showings on the R&B singles charts, Unfortunately the joint tour which had been tentatively planned fell through but Ben E King and The AWB did appear at some live performances.







“Warmer Communications” was released in 1978 and reached 28 in the US album charts. The title was wordplay on Warner Communications, the parent company of AWB's Atlantic Records label. It is considered by many fans, to be the last great album the group produced. “Your Love’s a Miracle,” was the single from the album and made a respectable 33 in the Billboard's R&B singles chart.



By the time “Feel No Fret,” was released in 1979 AWB were beginning to loose their poularity in the US, as musical tastes changed. None the less the album reached 32 in the US charts and peaked at No. 15 in the UK charts. Singles, “Walk on by,” and “"When Will You Be Mine, " made it to the lower end of the Top 50 singles and “Atlantic Avenue” (sic. my personal favourite) failed to chart, Stateside.











When Shine (1980) then Cupid’s in fashion (1982), failed to recapture the full energy of their previous work, it looked as if the group had peaked. Shine saw the band in jazz mood but this had less appeal to their funk/soul fans. "Let's Go Round Again, " was released as a disco single and reached #12 in the UK charts (US Pop #53, US R&B #33). The album only gets better with age and contains several memorable tracks. Cupid’s in fashion is a well-crafted album appealing more to disco than soul , but came at a time when trends times in music were changing,















The group dissolved in 1982 and band members went onto pursue solo careers. Steve Ferrone joined Duran Duran, Hamish Stuart joind Paul McCartney and Alan Gorrie released a solo album, Sleepless Nights in 1985.











Alan Gorrie, Roger Ball, and Onnie McIntyre, did reform the AWB in 1989 and the line up was completed with Alex Ligertwood (Santana , Jeff Beck Group and Brian Auger's Oblivion Express) who replaced Hamish Stuart on vocals, and Eliot Lewis (keyboards, drums and programming). Together with invited guests, Chaka Khan and the Ohio Players, they recorded Aftershock. Ligertwood left after the album's recording and drummer Tiger McNeil (1989–1994) joined the reunited band for their live shows. Average White Band continued to tour and record: Soul Tattoo (1997), and Face to Face (1999) without rekindling their earlier successes. Alan Gorrie and Onnie McIntyre are the only remaining original members of the band, but as of 2016, forty years after their formation, they continue to perform.











AWB became arguably the most successful Scottish band of the 20th century. Not only did they master the soul sound of contemporary North American music they developed their own blend of funk and soul which made them one of the few white groups to credibly cross the colour line. In achieving this spectacular goal they have influenced countless others, and have been sampled by many musicians in the late 80’s and early 90s, making them the fifteenth most sampled act in history. ‘The Team,’ from their humble beginnings in Scotland, were well above, the Average White Band.