Thursday, June 15, 2017

Welcome to Peter Clemon's Coventry Music Articles

This Post Remain's on top as an introduction to the site. Scroll below for the latest posts.

This Blogspot is part of the Hobo (Coventry Music and Arts Magazine) archive.

Hobo was a Coventry music magazine c 1973 - 75 and the archives of the magazine and Hobo workshop and the general music scene of the 70's was originally on Vox blogs c 2007 until recently. Vox closed and the site is being redeveloped and rearranged here - it's still in progress so bear with us.

This Blog
This Hobo blog spot in particular  is for Peter Clemon's Coventry music Scene articles for the Coventry Telegraph. Pete Clemons has a huge database of hundreds of gigs in Coventry from the 60's to the present. Both professional acts and local bands. He has had over 100 articles publish in the Coventry Telegraph which, on his request, we've collated here and  have linked them with further material from the Hobo magazine archives.

NEW

  • Early posts on here - if you scroll right down - are Pete's Rock of Ages Posts - gigs in Cov through the ages since the early 60's to present.
  • Later posts are about important music venues in the city and their history.
  • Other posts are about Coventry bands from the 60's onwards.

Pete Clemons and Trev Teasdel at  BBC Radio Coventry and Warwickshire January 2016

Links to the other Hobo Coventry Music Archive sites 
Coventry Music Scene from Hobo - This is the Hub to all the sites below

Hobo - Coventry Music Archives This is the main Blogspot for the Coventry Music Archives from Hobo Magazine with archive material from HoboMagazine and other Coventry music magazines, feature articles and other documentation. This site is still in development.

Coventry Arts Umbrella Club
The archives of the Coventry Arts Umbrella Club which was opened in 1955 by the Goons and where some of the Two Tone musicians started out and literary figures like Phillip Larkin and much more. many Coventry bands played the Umbrella in the late 60's and early 70's. It also housed Coventry's first Folk Club.

Coventry Folk Club Scene 1970's  
This is the Hobo site for Coventry's longstanding and thriving Folk and Acoustic scene. It covers both folk archives from the 70's and features on some of the contemporary singer songwriters out there now along with Pete Willow's history of Coventry Folk Scene and pdf versions of  his 70's Folks Magazine 1979 / 80. Top names like Rod Felton, Dave Bennett, Kristy Gallacher, Pauline (Vickers) Black, Roger Williamson, Sean Cannon and many more.

Coventry Gigs 1960 to Present (This blogspot in fact!).

Coventry Discos, Venues, Music shops and Agencies / Studios etc.
A steadily progressing blog for a variety of other aspects of Coventry's music scene - the DJ's, Discos, Venues, Arts fests, record shops, studios, music agencies etc etc..

Coventry Musicians Who's Who 
This blog has an A to Z of Coventry musicians. It's not yet complete (if ever!) but there are many names and their bands on already. I will come back to it when the A to Z of bands is complete and add in names not on. Meanwhile if you are not on it - and you should be - or your friends and their bands or if your info is incorrect - do let us know at hobozine@googlemail.com.

Hobo A to Z of Coventry Bands and Artists
Meanwhile a huge A to Z of Coventry bands and artists can be found (again in development) here https://sites.google.com/site/bandsfromcoventry/

Visit TWO TONE CENTRAL MUSEUM http://www.2tonecentral.co.uk/

The Stranglers

The Stranglers
by Pete Clemons


I have to say that I was personally delighted when I heard that The Stranglers were going to headline the Friday evening of the Godiva Festival 2017. Having seen them play live on many occasions I do admit that they really are a guilty pleasure of mine.

This band is one of the UK’s most popular and successful groups to have emerged from the punk rock era. For well over thirty years they have produced a host of studio and live albums. And, still today, they continue to sell out venues up and down the country.

Formed as The Guildford Stranglers in 1974 the band was, at first, a part of the London pub rock scene. However from 1976 they became more associated with the growing punk rock movement.

They were formed by drummer Jet Black, who was then well into his 30s. Joining Jet were bass player Jean-Jacques Burnel, guitarist Hugh Cornwell and, a short while later, keyboard player Dave Greenfield.

Looking back to those days though, and the gigs I attended, the band members were not averse to jumping off the stage and thumping the punk element of the audience who thought the idea of ‘gobbing’ at the band was a term of endearment.

Jean-Jacques Burnel has since been quoted as saying that in retrospect ‘he thought of himself as part of punk’ at the time, as they were inhabiting the same space, but he would like to think that the Stranglers ‘were more than punk’.

The punk rock movement spread like a wild fire up and down the country. New bands seemed to spring up from nowhere on a weekly basis. And the cities outside of London, particularly Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool, became engulfed by it all.

And there was no denying that this new musical genre had, quite early on, fired up the imaginations of Coventry’s youth as well as inspiring the minds of the more musically talented and creating a do it yourself ethic that covered everything from the music itself to the clothing.

Coventry’s branch of Virgin Records who, at that time were based in the city Arcade close to the birdcage, soon became the hub for buying these records and a magnet for all those who those who wanted to discuss the new bands with a very knowledgeable staff who included future Specials drummer John Bradbury and photographer extraordinaire John Coles. But punk rock brought with it a large amount of bad publicity.

For Coventry it had all started well with early visits by some of punk rock’s major names. However a country-wide ban on punk by the Tiffany’s empire, during the early part of 1977, brought the gigging scene, as far as punk bands were concerned, to a halt.

From then on, and for about nine months, things went relatively quiet in terms of ‘major’ punk bands visiting Coventry on a regular basis. A few of them, namely The Stranglers and Elvis Costello and the Attractions slipped into Coventry under the radar but it wasn’t until September 1977 that the onslaught really began.

Tiffany’s ban was eventually lifted during August 1977 and when asked how the venue was going to prepare for a punk invasion in Coventry, the then manager, ‘Aubrey Marsden’ said ‘the only thing the company now draws the line at are ‘striptease shows’.

But it was not just Tiffany’s that suddenly gave punk rock a warm reception. At almost the same time Mr Georges Club also found a mid-week slot for punk beginning with a three band night London, The Swords and The Victims. And, to a lesser degree La Chaumiere in The Burges, attracted local punk influenced bands like The Flys, and The Wild Boys. For the next 18 months or so it was an amazing and wonderful time for Coventry indeed.

Back to The Stranglers. Today they still have Jean-Jacques Burnel and Dave Greenfield in the ranks. They are also completed by guitarist and vocalist Baz Warne who has been associated with the band for almost 20 years.

As for the drum seat, it is my understanding that Jet Black is still an official member of the band. However, due to ill health and the fact that he is now 78 years old, he is no longer the touring drummer.

Jet was certainly not present on the last tour when I saw them at the Leamington Assembly. Instead his duties were taken by a guy called Jim MacAulay. And it appears that Jim is in-fact now the touring drummer for the band.







Steven Wilson to visit the Midlands



Steven Wilson to visit the Midlands
by Pete Clemons





At the time I last put digit to keyboard and put a few words together about Steven Wilson, his third studio album ‘The Raven That Refused to Sing’, was about to be released.

Without the backing of major promotion ‘The Raven’ reached the top 30 of the UK album charts and was also very popular in Europe.

A supporting tour across Europe and North America during the early part of 2013 was followed up by further European dates, including a sold out date at The Royal Albert Hall, along with gigs in Australia toward the end of the same year.

Steven’s fourth album ‘Hand.Cannot.Erase.’ was released during February 2015 and also crashed into the album charts. Critically acclaimed, The Guardian newspaper called it ‘a smart, soulful and immersive work of art’. Others called it ‘a masterpiece’. Once again, a major tour promoted the album that took into further territories that including South America.

Now Steven has his fifth album ‘To The Bone’ on the horizon and this time a date in Coventry, as well as the Symphony Hall Birmingham, has been included in the itinerary.

There have been several tasters for the album released to the internet, but being an old fashioned kind of listener I would personally prefer to wait until the album has been released, during August 2017, and hear it in its full glory. But they are out there to be viewed.

Having not being tempted by the tasters I cannot comment on the album at all. However I can relay some of the comments I have read about what is to come:

A gloriously dynamic modernistic pop record. Fusing futuristic rock and spectoral elecronics with elegant atmospheres and wild guitars. To The Bone references the hugely ambitious Progressive Pop records that inspired Wilson in his teens. Lyrically, the album’s eleven tracks encompass the paranoid chaos of the post-truth era and the creeping self-loathing of the technology age, as well as steely fly on the wall observations of the everyday lives of religious fundamentalists and a welcome shot or two of wide eyed escapism. To The Bone is a high definition snapshot of the disconcerting times we live in.

Another major piece of news is that Steven recently signed for Caroline Records. For those with long memories, you may remember Caroline as a subsidiary of Richard Branson’s Virgin Records label. At the time it specialised in progressive rock and jazz influenced artists.



Nowadays Caroline is fully American owned and appears to have widened its horizons and releases records by a whole range of artists.

On his signing for Caroline Steven said ‘I’m absolutely delighted to be entering into partnership with Michael roe and his team at Caroline for my next album. Although Caroline exist within the Universal Music Group, their philosophy allows me to remain creatively independent, while at the same time providing the ‘muscle’ that being with a major organisation brings. This makes it a perfect home for me, and I’m happy to now be label mates with some of the most respected musicians in the industry’.

So back to the tour planned to begin during March 2018. The Warwick Arts Centre gig will be held on Thursday 15th with the visit to the Symphony Hall being a week after on the 22nd. And tickets appear to be selling very well.








Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Stone Foundation

Stone Foundation
By Pete Clemons

Nowadays, the music business is a very strange and fickle place. At one end of the spectrum you have the artists who gain instant, but relatively, short lived success that comes via the TV reality programs. And at the other end of the scale you have bands that plod on for many years, ploughing a furrow of their own, slowly growing and building a solid fan base.


And although this band has received little radio play or mainstream exposure, a Warwickshire based band have followed the latter path. And it was a path that the band was brave enough to take as they always believed it was the right one for them to take.

And now it seems that the courage of their convictions is beginning to bear fruit. After great dedication and a lot of hard work, Stone Foundation have, at long last, are crossing the brow of that hill. And the music world is beginning to take notice.

2017 has so far proved to be an incredible year for Stone Foundation. Their latest album, the critically acclaimed ‘Street Rituals’, was released during March. It comes two years on from the equally impressive ‘A Life Unlimited’.

Since the release of ‘Street Rituals’ the band have a sold out gig at the Islington Assembly. Their single, ‘Back in the Game’ has topped the UK vinyl singles chart. The band has paid a return visit performed concerts in Japan. They are due to tour for the first time in Ireland. And a date at Glastonbury awaits them.

There is a song on the ‘Street Rituals’ album titled ‘Love Revisited’. And when I first heard that track I distinctly remember thinking, how fitting a title it was. For me it kind of summed up the album as a whole. It was as if a whole style of music, that you rarely hear nowadays, was being completely revisited. And the music listening public at large seem to be enjoying it also.

Despite the song writing revolving around social issues it still manages to remain an optimistic listen.

The production talents of Paul Weller are indelibly stamped all over this album. He even performs on a track. However, and with all due respect to Paul, the success of this record is down to some strong song writing. It is this that has elevated Stone Foundation to the next level.

The album incorporates a diversity of musical styles. As with past Stone Foundation albums there is definitely a soulful direction with this music. But, to these ears at least, it also emphasizes more funk and R ‘n’ B influences than previously heard.
The band, formed at least a dozen years ago, comprises founder members Neil Jones (vocals, guitar, harmonica), Neil Sheasby (bass). In addition, and performing on the latest album, you have (deep breath) Phillip K. Ford (drums), Ian Arnold (Hammond organ, piano), Rob Newton (percussion), Paul Speare (baritone sax, tenor sax and flute), Gary Rollins (tenor saxophone, flute), Dave Boraston (trumpet and flugelhorn), Gareth John (trumpet), Anthony Gaylard (alto sax), Adam Stevens (baritone sax) and many others.

During their existence, Stone Foundation has regularly performed under their own steam, in small clubs. They have also being invited to support major bands, on the larger arena tours.

It has been in those smaller venues where I have seen the band several times. Always immaculately turned out they never fail to create a buzz. These foundations are well on the rise.


Monday, May 15, 2017

Badfinger - musical legacy

Badfinger - Musical Legacy

By Pete Clemons




To view the history of Badfinger and conclude it as just complicated is a massive understatement. Even when you attempt to delve into it all you quickly discover that it is a labyrinth of awful luck, bad blood and the absolute worst case of deceit within the music industry, that you are ever likely to read about.

Yet all of that aside, Badfinger have a musical legacy that other bands could only wish for. And as a legitimate member of the band, joining them in during 1974, Bob Jackson is aiming to concentrate on exactly what Badfinger were all about. And that was by creating some of the finest pop songs from the 1970s.


The original Badfinger line up


In 2015, former member Bob assembled his own version of Badfinger along with guitarist Andy Nixon, bass player Michael Healey and Ted Duggan on drums to honour the memory of original members Pete Ham, Tom Evans, and Mike Gibbins.


Badfinger now - current line up


During that same year they undertook a 23 date UK Theatre tour and 2016 saw the band continue to play UK shows.

2017 see’s Badfinger playing further selected dates once more with two very special dates being earmarked for Coventry during July.

The first will be on the main stage of the Godiva Festival on Sunday the 9th. The following Sunday, the 16th sees the band perform at The Empire on Far Gosford Street (the old Paris Cinema for those with long memories), along with Hazel O’Connor and the Subterraneans and a host of others, as part of the Mercia Music Festival.

The second date is particularly important as it is in aid of Myton Hospice and Motor Neurone Disease.

And it seems that Badfinger’s legacy has recently taken on a new lease of life. When the final episode of popular TV series ‘Breaking Bad’ was aired on TV in September 2013, it was viewed by an audience of ten million viewers. The farewell scene was set to Badfinger’s 1972 single release ‘Baby Blue’. That song suddenly found it-self subjected to thousands of downloads.

Baby Blue came from Badfinger’s third album called ‘Straight Up’ that also gave us the classic Day After Day. Its predecessor, ‘No Dice’ also contained classic songs such as No Matter What and the timeless Without You. Badfingers first album ‘Magic Christian Music’ contained Paul McCartney’s anthemically penned tune Come and Get it. The album also ended with a track called Maybe Tomorrow which was penned while Badfinger were known under their previous name of The Iveys. But all that has only touched on Badfinger’s career. They, along with The Iveys, were so much more.

Bob Jackson’s contribution to the Badfinger legacy can be found on an album titled ‘Head First’. It was recorded toward the end of 1974 but remained unreleased till 2000.

Bob was also instrumental, in 2013, of organising and performing, with Badfinger and friends, at the unveiling of the Pete Ham Blue Plaque for Swansea Council. The plaque designed to mark for years to come the achievements of Peter Ham and the work of the band.

So sit back, let the misfortunes of the band and all that went with it wash over you, and enjoy the music as it was meant for. And, most of all, celebrate what this wonderful band have left us with.

Follow the activities of the current version of Badfinger via the link below where you can also find details for the ‘Head First’ album.



http://www.badfingeruk.com/index/





Godiva Rocks - The Coventry Musical

Godiva Rocks 
The Coventry Musical.

Saturday 7 October through to Saturday 21 October 2017 at the Belgrade Theatre.

By Pete Clemons





During a year that has seen Coventry submit a bid in an attempt to become a city of culture for the year 2021, the team who created the gripping play ‘One night in November’ have reunited once again to produce another love story unique to our home.

Writer Alan Pollock and director by Hamish Glen created the compelling and thought provoking work ‘One night in November’. And, in similar respects to now, it was released during a very poignant period for the city.

‘One night in November’ was set during the war years. Those familiar with the play will need no reminding but it was a love story with a dramatic twist. A twist that ended with Coventry history was re-shaped forever.

Alan and Hamish’s latest creation is also based around a fictitious story line. But what sets this apart, for me at least, is its musical soundtrack. 20 songs created by Coventry related artists who were either born in the city or, at least raised here, will be performed.

Just imagine if you can, these will be unique interpretations of songs that may not have seen light of day for a very long time and may never be heard live again. This really is, I think, a golden opportunity to experience the immense talent of Coventry’s glorious bygone age.

The songs to be featured will be wide ranging and were originally by a variety of artists from Frank Ifield and Vince hill through to the Hazel O’Connor, The Specials and The Enemy.

As mentioned, ‘Godiva Rocks’ is a love story. The storyline is centered on The Orchid Ballroom. Today of course, we know The Orchid as The Colly or more recently the Kasbah.

The magnificent building that the Kasbah resides in is more than 100 years old. It is one of the oldest and most enduring entertainment rooms in the city.

Situated at 51 Primrose Hill Street this incredibly proud looking building first opened as the Globe Picture Theatre in 1914. Quite incredible when you think about it now but at the time it was one of four cinemas in the Hillfields area alone. Movies were shown within it for more than 40 years until it closed in 1956. The venue was then re-opened in 1957 as the Majestic Ballroom.

Music and dance sessions continued at the Majestic until July 1961. The venue was then taken over by the Mecca organisation that spent the rest of the year rebuilding and redecorating. During early 1962 announcements began to appear that bookings were now being taken at the renovated building with its luxurious decor and modern amenities. March of that year the venue opened again as The Orchid Ballroom.

To quote Alan Pollock, Godiva Rocks is "a celebration about the greatness of this city, who we are and what we're proud of". "No-one has ever done a musical about a town...a love story, the music, the essence of the town"

If the music does not disrupt your concentration on the story line, ‘Godiva Rocks’ I am sure, will be as equally gripping as its critically acclaimed predecessor.










Thursday, May 4, 2017

Pete Shelley / Howard Devoto

Pete Shelley / Howard Devoto

By Pete Clemons




Continuing a theme, I set myself during 2016, of attempting to celebrate the new wave of bands, and their music, that had shook up the whole scene some forty years previous, I think it must be worth mentioning the revolution that Pete Shelley and Howard Devoto brought to the music industry.

Both Pete and Howard, who were then both members of The Buzzcocks, are themselves very modest about it all. And, quite possibly, they never gave it a second thought or stopped to consider the impact that their approach to getting The Buzzcocks music ‘out there’ would forever leave on popular music.


Pete Shelley

Going back to the mid-1970s and the music business was in a vastly different place to that which it is in today. And without a record company deal both Pete Shelley and Howard Devoto really wanted to hear how this band that they had formed would actually sound like in a professional environment. So they came up with the idea of making and distributing their own records. Forty years ago this really was out of the box thinking. 

Howard Devoto

Shelley and Devoto had already created a small piece of musical history for themselves by putting on the now legendary gig at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester that featured their own band along with The Sex Pistols and Slaughter and the Dogs. It is now written into folklore how the pair had been to London and High Wycombe to see the Pistols, after reading about them in NME, and realising that there was actually another band trying to achieve the same musical vision as their own.

Shelley and Devoto set about their quest and discovered that they could get a thousand records printed for five hundred pounds including a picture sleeve. Five hundred pounds was an awful lot of money back then (getting on for three grand in today’s money using an online comparison). So after help with the finances from friends and family they went for it and actually began the process of making their own records.

After earlier attempts at the recording process themselves Pete and Howard met up with Martin Hannett, who had been described to the pair as a ‘hippy and wanna be producer and recording engineer’. Martin booked the band into a studio. And he produced the band’s first organised recording sessions held during December 1976. After these early efforts Martin Hannett would, himself, go on to become a very successful producer.

Pete Shelley had been bought a Polaroid camera for Christmas 1976 and it was this that he used to create a shot of the band. And that very photograph was used for the 4 track EP’s sleeve. A copy of the EP, titled ‘Spiral Scratch’ and which was released during January 1977 on the bands own newly created New Hormones label, was sent out to John Peel. And not long after John had given the record a spin on his very popular radio programme, the initial run of one thousand copies sold out.

As news of the EP’s success spread it was as though, all of a sudden, any aspirant musicians suddenly felt empowered to be able to make their own records. A new dawn had certainly broken through.




Soon after the release of ‘Spiral Scratch’, and after performing just 11 gigs for The Buzzcocks, Howard Devoto left the band. He returned to college but would resurface a year or so later with a new group called Magazine.

Magazine were a totally different proposition altogether. They used the energy of punk but added more complexity and emotion to their music. Magazine was a quite superb band who released a succession of excellent albums.

My own personal introduction to The Buzzcocks happened around September 1977 and it came, as most things did, via the above mentioned John Peel show. The band played a session for John and the tune I immediately picked up on was ‘What Do I Get’. I clearly remember that it seemed like an eternity to wait for ‘What Do I Get’ to be released as a single as it wasn’t due for issue until February 1978.

However enthused by my knowledge of this new band I headed for Virgin Records in the arcade in search of back catalogue vinyl. Of course the lads who worked in there at the time, namely future Specials drummer John Bradbury and photographer John Coles were unsurprisingly I guess, already aware of The Buzzcocks.

My enthusiasm for the band must have struck a chord with John Bradbury as on my next visit to Virgin he handed me a homemade cassette of Buzzcocks live sessions recorded even earlier to those in December 1976 which produced ‘Spiral Scratch’. These particular sessions, recorded during October 1976, would surface as a semi-official release titled ‘Time’s Up’.

‘Time’ Up’ re-appeared on vinyl during the 1990s. And although purchased a copy of it, I still, to this day, hold on to the cassette John Bradbury gave me.

Shortly after the John Peel session in September 1977, The Buzzcocks happened to appear at Coventry’s Mr Georges club. By now the band had signed up with United Artists records. With Howard Devoto gone the band at this point was Pete Shelley on guitar, Steve Diggle guitar, John Maher on drums and Garth Smith on bass.

And this visit to Coventry became significant for two reasons. One was the fact that this gig would be Garths last for the band (legend has it that he was sacked immediately after) and the other was that The Buzzcocks had been supported by Coventry band The Flys fronted by Neil O’Connor – Hazel’s brother.

With Steve Garvey now on bass guitar the band made two return visits to Coventry, in fairly quick succession. On both occasions they appeared at the theatre. These gigs took place in 1978 and the early part of 1979 and would have been in support of their debut album ‘Another Music in a Different Kitchen’ and its follow up ‘Love Bites’.

The Buzzcocks tour for their third album ‘A Different Kind of Tension’ never passed through Coventry as far as I remember. Instead you needed to get to Birmingham Odeon or Leicester De Montfort to see the band. But, if you got to either venue in time to see the support band you were treated to fellow Mancunian’s Joy Division. Apparently, though, the tour did very little for Joy Division’s lead singer and lyricist Ian Curtis. Apparently he found playing these larger sized venues totally soul destroying.

2016 saw The Buzzcocks celebrate their achievements with a fortieth anniversary tour. Once again Coventry was on the schedule where this time they were to be seen at The Copper Rooms located on the Warwick University campus. They performed a great selection of songs, which spanned their entire career, played in that now familiar fast and furious style.

And to mark the fact that their first recordings were also released forty years ago, January 2017 saw ‘those ‘Spiral Scratch’ utterings being lovingly re-released through the Domino Record Company, along with the nascent ‘Time’s Up’ demo recordings’. And very well in the charts they did too.