Archive for the ‘Reading Festival’ Category


Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

Lightning Blue Eyes / Secret Machines

Listen: Lightning Blue Eyes / Secret Machines SecretMachinesLightningBlueEyes.mp3

Christmas 2004. I finally had a few weeks off and planned to catch up on a bunch of new records I’d been meaning to get to since November. For a few years, I made it a point of stopping at the original HMV store on Oxford Street every London visit. Luckily, I looked after a bunch of Columbia’s UK acts, and ended up there about four times a year. No one else would touch the English groups. Our chairman didn’t like the UK stuff, so they were hot potatoes. HMV really jumped on the vinyl resurgence curve early. Well before any of the other chains. Then and now, the purists put their nose in the air to the place but I say they’re wrong. HMV stocks all the indie and worthy major label 7″ singles at cheap prices, usually 99p week of release. And the vinyl portion of the floor is set up famously, just like a record shop in the day. The 45 wall is nirvana, with box lot size helpings of just about everything. I would grab tons of titles and listen later. So that Christmas break I allocated time. I’m pouring over the first two Secret Machines singles I’d gotten that month earlier but still hadn’t played, and notice Brandon and Ben Curtis were in the lineup. Hold on, these guys were in UFOFU, a band I had released on The Medicine Label. It had to be the same guys. So I listened. Wow, they’re great. I’d heard their name a lot, mostly from the junior A&R kids at Columbia. What a great bunch they were, especially Keller and later Christian Stavros. I had wrongly assumed Secret Machines were alternative radio fodder, formula hard rock. No. This was the real deal. I went out on Christmas Eve and got the full length. As if by magic, I had a new band to be crazy about. How fun.
Now it was countdown to an upcoming show and sure enough, they were awesome. I was so pleased to see Brandon and Ben getting their just rewards. I turned some friends on to them as well. Everyone was in. Brandon came by Columbia just before Christmas ’05 and played me the new album. A few songs really stood out, ‘Lightning Blue Eyes’ in particular. All of them were pretty long. I remember we talked about some singles edit, and he went off to try a few. This was one, and it’s a smash waiting to happen. Don’t think it got much play, but I could be wrong.

No matter, Secret Machines shredded the tent at Reading the following August. The place was rammed. The crowd went berserk.

I’m making an exception by posting ‘Lightning Blue Eyes’. You see, it’s only available as a blue see through glittery reeking of some marketing angle pressing. I hate colored vinyl. Should be illegal, a controlled substance. Records should be black, just like God created them. For this single though, an exception.

David Bowie / The Faces

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

London Boys / David Bowie

Listen: The London Boys / David Bowie
London Boys / David Bowie

What can anyone say about David Bowie ‘The London Boys’. It’s damp, cold, eery, but cryptically and wonderfully captures a lot of my London experiences as a kid in ’73: Wardour Street, pills, having no money, living on butter and bread, listen to the lyrics. If we come back in life after death, I would do it all over again, to a T. Read on.

So I decide, upon graduating high school, that instead of going to college, I’m moving to England. Can you believe this? I can’t.

My parents, ever understanding, desperately advised against it. But always supporting me in my ambitious dreams, finally said okay providing I do some college when I return.

My Mom was born in Great Britain, her sister lived in London, so I guess it didn’t seem all that risky at the time. I skipped a grade in high school and was therefore really a baby, boarding a Pan Am flight in early June ’73 with a huge $200 in my pocket. I would never let my kids do this today by the way. My aunt in London had me for a few weeks, then shipped me off to my cousin Diane, who lived, and shockingly still does, on Cleveland Street in London’s west end, Soho, This, as it turned out, was the place to be. Literally 4 blocks down from her council flat (Cleveland Street eventually turns into Wardour Street as it crosses Oxford Street), was the Marquee Club. Without shame or hesitation, I walked into the office midday and asked for a job. And they give me one, shockingly. I now was in charge of collecting the empty pint glasses left all around the club as the bands are playing, an endless cycle. I was a slave but deemed this as the opportunity of life.

I grew up outside of Syracuse, dreaming of the other worldly England, now here I am, working at The Marquee. Holy shit. Is this really happening? No one will believe me back home, or care for that matter.

I got paid one huge great big British pound a night, drank all the beer I could for free and got to see every band playing. All I need do is pick up the glasses. I’ll take it.

This was heaven. My days were spent trolling the used record stalls in Rupert Street, Cheapo Cheapo Records in particular, where Graham Stapleton, a good friend now, who I met decades later by shear crazy coincidence via Jim Lahat, sold all the promo/dj copies that the Radio 1 and Melody Maker staff would unload, for pennies, in an open air market stall. The stuff I got from him then…..forget about it. Crazy. We still exchange records and laugh about those days. Small world indeed.

Then there were the bands that played: Robin Trower, Thin Lizzy, Sparks UK debut with Queen opening (from whom Queen admittedly lifted many of their ideas – why Queen didn’t ask Russell Mael to join the reunion lineup instead of Paul Rodgers is preposterous), Andy Bown, Alex Harvey Band, Sutherland Brothers & Ouiver, Daryl Way’s Wolf, The Spencer Davis Group, Writing On The Wall, Climax Blues Band, Colin Blunstone, Chicken Shack, Bedlam, Wild Turkey, JSD Band, The Marmalade, Caravan, East Of Eden, Byzantium, String Driven Thing, Tempest, Colosseum, Keef Hartley Band – I could go on and on and on. Plus, I had the golden key, I could put people on the guest list.

With hormones raging and so many pretty girls trying to unsuccessfully get to the bands, they’d turn to the staff. I spent many a damp grass night in Soho Square on the green, juggling in hindsight, laughable relationships. And in the process, fell for a Scottish girl, Claire.

Bowie ticket Reading 73

Claire and I became an item and went to loads of shows together (Family, Wizzard, Fairport Convention, The Kinks, Slade, Curved Air) or, didn’t bother to go to some, like the biggest mistake of all times: David Bowie & The Spiders From Mars final show ever – for which I bought a ticket (see scan above) and didn’t use. I know, stupid.

Listen: Pool Hall Richard / The Faces
Pool Hall Richard / Faces

It wasn’t the only ticket I didn’t use. Claire & I went to Scotland the weekend of Reading Festival, for which I had a 3 day, all access pass. Only a few years ago I admitted to myself, I didn’t really like The Faces (who were playing – see scan) because Rod Stewart’s voice irritates me to no end, not to mention his fat bottom half in leopard pants.

Still, their ‘Pool Hall Richard’ single has a groove that’s unmatchable. A beautiful shambles.