Thursday, November 28, 2013

Peppermint Kreem

The story of  Coventry band Peppermint Kreem is a little complicated, involving a number of bands and line up changes but Pete Clemons has managed to unravel the band's history for his latest article for the Coventry Telegraph - his 60th article not including the 24 Rock of Ages listings for the paper.

Peppermint Kreem has fan page on Facebook with lots of photos and such like https://www.facebook.com/pages/Peppermint-Kreem/136585376392428?fref=ts

The other Coventry bands include Makeshift / The Plague / Dr Slagg's Confessions and at least 3 versions of Peppermint Kreem and associated bands New City Sounds and The Motion / Revolution.
CLICK the Links to read more about these bands and view some of the photos etc.





Music with a Minty Flavour!

Pete Clemons 

OF all Coventry bands I have read about or researched none, for me at least, is more fascinating than that of Peppermint Kreem.

The story is actually a trilogy which takes the group from its beat band beginnings in 1968 through to their conclusion in 1987 but not before they had recorded a rock opera. Paul Kennelly has meticulously kept extensive notes over the years and it is these that I have plundered to pull this article together.

The roots of Peppermint Kreem can be traced right back to previous incarnations of the band beginning with Makeshift from around 1967 and then The Plague who existed between December 1967 and April 1968.

The Plague was formed when Paul Kennelly put an advert in the Coventry Telegraph. Arthur 'Modie' Albrighton was first to answer it. "We were hungry for work and would take anything." said Paul. "It was a great way of learning the business and the band performed from The Benn Hall in Rugby to Harlaxton Manor in Lincolnshire."

The line-up of The Plague was Paul Kennelly (vocals), 'Modie' Albrighton (bass guitar), Brian Griffiths (drums), Ray Haywood (lead guitar) and Bob Hopkins (keyboards) and they played their first gig at The General Wolfe on Friday, December 8, 1967.

Brian Griffiths left The Plague on January 25, 1968 to be replaced by Tom Ryan on drums. Bob Hopkins then left the band during April '68.

At that point it was agreed to give the band a fresh start and a new name. Ray Haywood suggested Peppermint Creams to which Paul responded with a slight variation to Ray's original idea. And so on April 26, 1968, they appeared as a four-piece at The Heart of England Club, Meriden, as Peppermint Kreem.

As covered by an article and various photographs for a Coventry Standard piece during May 1968 they bought a 15-seater bus from the Enterprise Club for the Disabled in Avon Street for PS24 and 10 shillings. This was used to carry their equipment.

1968 saw the band just 'out there playing'. They were, not at that time, in to doing their own music. What they would do though was to rearrange numbers, speed them up/ slow them down and fill in with drum solo links. The band toured extensively and regularly appeared locally in venues such as The Navigation on the Stoney Stanton Road and The Walsgrave.

On July 13 Peppermint Kreem added keyboard player Dave Fairclough to the line-up. His first gig for them was on Saturday July 13, 1968 at the Hobmore Hotel, Yardley.

By late 1968, the band had been signed by Don Fardon, his own solo career had taken off, and Vince Martin, of Friars Promotions, stepped in as manager. A tour of Scotland, for impresario Albert Bonici, was booked for December which would take them as far north as Lossiemouth, Nairn, Aberdeen, Elgin and Arbroath.

But sadly, due to other commitments, only Paul and Dave were available. In order that the tour could go ahead, Paul and Dave hooked up with Glass Forest, a Welsh band who were based in Birmingham, the lineup being Paul on vocals, Dave on keyboards, Andre on guitar, Karl on bass and Byron on drums and the band performed as Peppermint Kreem.

And that was the end for this phase of Peppermint Kreem. Paul and Arthur ("Modie") formed a band with Pete Davoile (Peppermint Kreem 2 and Seagull) on drums and Dec Wilson on guitar. Appearing as Dr. Slagg's Confessions, they polished off the last few dates left in the old Peppermint Kreem diary. After that, they all went their separate ways, with Arthur replacing the bass player in New City Sounds, and Paul replacing Allen ("Sabu") Parsons in The Motion.

Within days of Paul joining, the Motion changed their name to Revolution, and then eventually became Natural Gass. The line-up over this period was: Paul Kennelly (vocals), Dave Sutton (lead guitar), Reg Galland (bass), Granville Barber (drums), Bob Hopkins (keyboards), Pete Smith (ex-New City Sounds) on bass and Martin Lucas on lead guitar.

That wasn't the end though for Peppermint Kreem. 1972 saw the band reform and they went onto to achieve many good things. The previous version of the band never got to record but this would all change with Peppermint Kreem mark 2. Paul admitted: "I had never got to write and perform my own material and it just seemed the right time. It wasn't originally conceived as an opera. I just began to work up song ideas. What began as separate songs became a string of pieces, linked together. This was influenced by our standard set that was composed of varied material all tied together making a non-stop presentation."


This time around Modie had switched to guitar with the rest of the band being Paul (vocals), Keith Jaynes (bass), Bob Hopkins (keyboards) and Pete Davoil (drums). "We recorded the opera at Bird sounds studio near Stratford-on-Avon and it was called Revelation 2001. Regrettably it was never released and I have no idea what became of the master tapes. We did play the whole thing live on carnival day at the War Memorial Park during July 1973. It was a fine summer's day and we were set to go on stage at 9.30pm.

"For the first 20 minutes we played our versions of non-stop standards, then, after a short break we presented Revelation 2001. We held a respectable sized crowd for the standards show but I was not sure how they would react to the opera.

"You have to appreciate that the public were not directly paying for our performance, and could have drifted away at any time, but they didn't, the melody, some of it haunting, held them spellbound." That was last time that Peppermint Kreem played live together. However, in 1987 three of the band got back together yet again. Known as Peppermint Kreem 3, Paul Kennelly, 'Modie' Albrighton and Bob Hopkins, set about re-recording Revelation 2001 at Time Machine Studios in Earlsdon.

Sadly though it was never fully completed and although CD copies got 'out there' it remained unmixed. It is just made up of keyboards, guitar and Paul's vocal. There are no drums or bass. Also, at Time Machine, Peppermint Kreem laid down keyboard and vocal tracks for another project called 'Atlantis'. Again, this was never completed and remains unreleased.

Although there are no plans to complete these works it is still something that at least some kind of legacy of this wonderful story exists.
........................................

PEPPERMINT KREEM
circa 1967 - 1969 1972 - 1974 Source Broadgate Gnome / Rex Brough / Pete Chambers

Rock group - Roye Albrighton's site is worth a visit http://www.royealbrighton.com/ns/home.asp

Peppermint Kreem on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Peppermint-Kreem/136585376392428

Great Photos on the Facebook site.
Line up: Paul Kennelly (vocals), Arthur (Mode) Albrighton (bass), Tom Ryan (drums), Ray Haywood (guitar), Dave Fairclough (Keyboard). (According to Broadgate Gnome) but instruments differ in Rex Brough account below - also two lines up mentioned.!


Lineup 1

Paul Kennelly - Vocals
Modie Albrighton - Guitar
Tom Ryan - Drums
Ray Haywood - Bass
Dave Faircloth - Keyboards

Line up 2
Paul Kennelly - Vocals
Pete Davoil - Drums
Keith James - Bass
Modie Albrighton - Guitar
Bob "Spindler" Hopkins - Keyboards


Recorded at Montybird recording studio in Snitterfield and possibly at Midland Sound Recorders around July 1968. They
were a great live attraction, using spectacular light shows and were extremely popular. they recorded a rock musical, Revelations 2001, which along with 4 other PK CDs is available now!

Pete Chambers writes "Modie was a top class guitarist and Blues harpist who began with

the Makeshift before moving on to Peppermint Kreem and New City Sounds. Peppermint Kreem headlines the Memorial Park gig in the mid 60's. They recorded their own Rock Opera - Revelations 2001 at Time Machine Studios in Earlsdon. Modie was also in Nuts and Bolts, Crossfire and Heaven Sent - a club band that would include Rodney Byers (Radiation) in its ranks.Modie now lives in Germany where he is well known for his music and runs a recording studio)."

Pete Chambers writes in Godiva Rocked to a Backbeat


" The Albrighton brothers - Arthur (Modie) and his brother Roye (website http://www.royealbrighton.com/ns/home.asp) are
both now located in German where Modie runs a recording studio and both have found some fame. However their roots are entrenched in Coventry and its music scene. Modie -a top class guitar and blues harp player began with the local band Makeshift before moving to the 5 piece Peppermint Kreem that headlined the Memorial Park concert in the mid sixties.They even recorded their own rock Opera - Revelations 2001 (at the Time Machine Studios - Earlsdon).Members included Paul Kennelly, Tom Ryan, Dave Fairclough and Ray Haywood. Modie went on to join Nuts and Bolts, Crossfire and Heaven Sent - a club band that would include Roddy Byres (Radiation) in its ranks. Roye joined the German based prog rockers Nektar. (See his website). Modie and Paul played in Plague, Makeshift. Modie later played in new City Sounds too. Modie went to Germany in 1976. Modie remembered going to Coventry Theatre when he was 8 to see Larry Adler in Jack and the Beanstalk. Adler threw harmonicas out and asked if anyone that had one wanted to come on stage and join him. When Modie got on stage he told him he had his own and did a duet with him."


From Pete Chambers - Backbeat - Coventry Telegraph
" Nostalgia: Peppermint Kreem lads had some fresh ideas


IT'S amazing the number of bands I come across who, for one reason or another, have nothing to show for their musical journey but precious memories.

No cuttings, photos or recorded music.

No such problem with one Coventry-based band, Peppermint Kreem.

These guys have kept a veritable museum of their band history from the 1960s, just the kind of thing we love here
at Backbeat. I caught up with founder members Paul Kennelly, Pete Davoile and Arthur (Modie) Albrighton and asked them about the life and times of one of Coventry's more interesting bands.

Arthur (Modie) Albrighton was born in Coventry in 1941, and could play the harmonica by the age of four. "My dad would take me around the working men's clubs," Modie said. "I would perform pops and classics.

My most treasured memory from my from my early days, is doing a duet with Larry Adler, live on stage at the Hippodrome (Coventry Theatre). 





"My first love was the blues. I was working as a radio and television engineer and playing in The Ricky Thompson Band at the time. I guess I wanted to try something different and this led to Peppermint Kreem."


Peppermint Kreem were formed when Paul Kennelly put an ad in the Telegraph. Arthur Albrighton answered the ad: "We were hungry for work and would take anything," said Paul. "It was a great way of learning the business, from The Benn Hall in Rugby to Harlaxton Manor in Lincolnshire."

Modie said: "We formed a makeshift band and we used the name The Plague. We had heard there was another Plague on the road, so we chose the name Peppermint Kreem. We thought no one else would have that one!

"The line-up was Paul Kennelly on vocals, Modie on bass, Ray Haywood on lead guitar, Dave Fairclough on keyboards and Tom Ryan on drums."

Things looked good for the band, that was until they were lined up for a tour of Scotland in 1968, with the help of Vince Martin. Sadly some of the members were not prepared to commit. It was left to Paul and Dave Fairclough to join up with a Birmingham-based band Glass Forest to complete the tour.

"Considering we were a puttogether band, we did very well," said Modie. "I'm so glad that I made it up there though."

That wasn't the end of the band, however, because in 1972 Peppermint Kreem 2 were formed. 



The line-up was Modie on lead guitar with Paul on vocals, Pete (the feet) Davoile on drums, Bob 'Spindler' Hopkins on keyboards and Keith Jaynes on bass.

The mark one band Peppermint Kreem never got to record, the mark two version would put the record straight, in more ways than one.


"It was my baby," reveals Paul. "I had never got to write and perform my own material and it just seemed the right
time. It wasn't originally conceived as an opera. I just began to work up song ideas. What began as separate songs became a string of pieces, linked together. This was influenced by our standard set that was composed of varied material all tied together making a non-stop presentation.

"We recorded it at Birdsounds studio and it was called Revelation 2001. Regrettably it was never released and I have no idea what became of the master tapes. We did play the whole thing live on carnival day at War Memorial Park in July 1973. It was a fine summer day and we were to go on at 9.30pm.

"For the first 20 minutes we played our versions of non-stop standards, then, after a short break we presented Revelation 2001. We held a respectable-sized crowd for
the standards show but I was not sure how they would react to the opera. You have to appreciate that the public were not directly paying for our performance, and could have drifted away at any time, but they didn't, the melody, some of it haunting, held them spellbound."


Modie said: "When we re-formed in 1972/73 we achieved great things, but the band didn't hang together and I emigrated to Germany, met my wonderful wife, Eva and continued to play guitar and harps with various bands. I was also employed by the US army at the time and made friends with serving personnel, teaching guitar and recording.

"We are still living in Germany.

Eva and I have a wonderful country house, part of which is given over to my business Falcon-Studios. Here I record up-and-coming artists, encourage them and publish original material."

This year is the 40th anniversary of the band, and there is talk of a new album with a Nordic theme, plus a website with images, history and news, there may even be some merchandise. 





I'll leave the final words to former drummer Peter Davoile: "The most rewarding thing for me was being part of a professional band and playing something new and very creative!"

Pop Trivia - PEPPERMINT KREEM

SOME of the places the band played were Sibree Hall, Barker Butts School, Navigation Inn,

Leofric Hotel,
Nicholas Chamberlaine School, Newdigate Club, Chase Inn, Holyhead Hotel, Woolpack, Coventry City ground, Walsgrave Hotel, Bell Inn, Sportsmans Arms, Elite Club, Blue Boar (Watford Gap), Heath Hotel, General Wolf and others.

THE band recorded a second rock opera in 1987, entitled Atlantis.

PAUL is now living in Wales and runs the West Wales Museum of Childhood as a way of displaying his lifelong collection. Visit www.toymuseumwales.co.uk

Look out for three top guns off the local scene playing together at the Beer Engine, Gosford Street, on June 21 at 9pm. That's Neol Davies and Aitch (both former Selecter) and John 'Johny Slide' Alderson, former Traveling Riverside Blues.


...................................................

Paul Kennelly says " We regularly used Monty Birds studio to rehearse and record. I believe that it was an

old R.A.F. tracking station...or similar. I do have photos taken inside Bird Sound studios " http://www.snitterfield.com/forum.asp?forumID=344&subject=Bygone-Snitterfield


his is Peppermint Kreem at the old crossing gates on Heath Road, Bedworth in November 1968. L to R : Ray Haywood ( guitar) Tom Ryan ( drums) Arthur Modie Albrighton ( bass guitar) Dave Fairclough ( keyboards) and Paul Kennelly ( vocals).


Paul Kennelly has a Facebook page dedicated to the history of Peppermint Kreem and many previous bands he was in - here https://www.facebook.com/pages/Peppermint-Kreem/136585376392428

ARTHUR " MODIE " ALBRIGHTON.......... By Paul Kennelly.

"A complicated , multi talented instrumentalist and sound engineer of the highest standard.

He played Bass guitar with the 1968 band, Lead guitar with the 1973 band and guitar/keyboards in the 1987 sessions. Modie is the brother that I never had and I love him very much and hold him in high esteem. He is also one of funniest people that I have ever met.... just look at these great photographs."

Paul kennelly's outfit.The thinking behind the white outfits was, we had a huge , white fabric screen that hung on a scaffold, set behind the band , on stage. Modie developed a bizarre light show, using epidiasopes, cine projectors, light wheels and strobes. When this was in " full flight " , the projections fell on us as well as the screen ( well, that was the general idea ) ! Paul.

One of my most memorable gigs with Peppermint Kreem 2 was the Memorial Park. We played the Rock Opera ( Revelation 2001 ) but because we were on in the daylight, we could not use the light show. This was not good because we were as hot on visual effect as we were on getting our sound right. Paul.
Coventry Evening Telegraph 1973


L to R Bob Hopkins ( Rhythm Guitar) Ken Davenport ( Drums ) Tony Tallis ( Guitar ) Paul Kennelly ( Bass Guitar ) Grahame Fox ( Lead Guitar ).

Photo Shoot at the Cedars Pub in Coundon, Coventry. 1968.

Paul at The Navigation Inn, Coventry. 1968. Tom Ryan on drums.


Paul kennelly's outfit.The thinking behind the white outfits was, we had a huge , white fabric screen that hung on a scaffold, set behind the band , on stage. Modie developed a bizarre light show, using epidiasopes, cine projectors, light wheels and strobes. When this was in " full flight " , the projections fell on us as well as the screen ( well, that was the general idea ) ! Paul.


Coventry Evening Telegraph 1973

One of my most memorable gigs with Peppermint Kreem 2 was the Memorial Park. We played the Rock Opera ( Revelation 2001 ) but because we were on in the daylight, we could not use the light show. This was not good because we were as hot on visual effect as we were on getting our sound right. Paul.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Matadors

Pete Clemons looks at 60's Coventry band - The Matadors for his latest article for the Coventry Telegraph.
(Now includes new update from Sound Off.)



NEW ADDITION TO THIS ON DECEMBER 2017 BELOW THIS FIRST ARTICLE.

700 gigs but no LP from The Matadors

Pete Clemons


THE expression 'they were a hard working band' has been used many times before in numerous articles and not least of all within the subjects that I write about. But if the number of gigs played during a career equates to how hard working a band is seen to be then 'The Matadors' can rightly claim to be up there with the very best of them.

The Matadors were made up of Neil Tyson vocals, guitar, harmonica, Dave Finlay organ, vocals, Dave Colkin bass, vocals, Harry Heppingstall drums and were formed in 1962. Actually early dates had them down as Larry Spain and the Matadors but for whatever the reasons Larry left the band after a few gigs fairly early on in the bands career.

During almost six years in existence from when they first got together through to their eventual demise in 1967 The Matadors had played well in excess of an astonishing 700 gigs in the region. And this amount of live work did not include other dates and bookings away from Warwickshire.

Admittedly the earliest of those gigs were played at venues like St Georges Ballroom in their home town of Hinckley but nevertheless the 600, or so, gigs that this band played within the Coventry area is still an incredible and highly impressive number.

The band received an early break in 1964 when they were signed by Harold Davison who was also the manager of the Dave Clark Five and the Applejacks. He managed to get the band down to Decca Studios in London where they recorded six of their own songs along with another that Decca Records themselves had selected. 1964 also saw The Matadors tour Scotland where, according to their personal manager Mike James, they went like a bomb. The same year they also appeared with Billy J Kramer on a package tour down the south of the country.

The Matadors used to also go down a storm at the Coventry Flying and Country Club out at Baginton. So much so that, along with bands like Johnny B Great and Goodmen and The Echo Four they would be given pleasure flights out of the nearby airport.

Such was the band's popularity that during 1965 The Matadors won a poll organised through the Coventry Express newspaper. Thousands of music fans had filled in their printed forms and posted them off and the group found themselves as the clear winners. Runners-up being The Little Darlin's while actually the biggest surprise of that poll, which had been for beat groups, was that Coventry's own Irish show band had made it into third place - The Pat Gissane Show Band.

This is how The Matadors' victory was reported at the time: 'The winners of the Express poll, The Matadors, have themselves undergone a definite change. An organ has been added and much of their earlier material has been dropped. The Matadors now put a great deal of emphasis on stage work and their material ranges from hit-parade gear to ballads and modern arrangements of older "pop" hits. One of their most popular numbers is a rendition of the old Buddy Holly flipside "Everyday" - one of the rock numbers to have stood the test of time. The "Mats" do some of their own material and hope to have a record released which is mid-tempo and sung in falsetto harmony - on an Ivy League kick'.

1965 then saw the band sign up with top independent record producer Joe Meek, the man who had produced several million selling hit singles including 'Telstar' made world famous by The Tornadoes. All the signs were good as a clutch of songs were recorded. Enough in fact to make three singles. However, a year later not one record had been released.

The Matadors moved on after their personal manager, Mike James announced 'we can't wait around for ever'. The whole experience made the band and their management unhappy and totally disillusioned with the music industry.

After the well publicised delay and the band's response The Matadors first single was leased by Meek to the Columbia Records label and was at long last released during January 1966.

The 'A' side was titled 'A Man's Gotta Stand Tall' with the 'B' side titled 'Fast Cars and Money'. Its matrix number was Columbia DB7806 and the lead song can still be found even today. It is on a CD called Joe Meek - RGM Rarities Vol. 2: The Beat Group Era. 


The Matadors called it a day in 1967 and soon after Neil Tyson and Dave Colkin formed a band called Magazine along with lead guitarist Nick Mayne and drummer Steve Talbot.

In keeping with the blues and soul fashion of the late 1960s the band adventurously incorporated a brass section.

Magazine seemed to pick up where The Matadors had left off by way of many visits to venues such as The Walsgrave and The Red House pubs. Despite always being on the verge of recording I don't think it ever happened. Magazine remained active until the mid 1970s.

Meanwhile drummer Harry Heppingstall joined groups like A Band Called George and jazz rock band Wave who had a residency at the Earlsdon Cottage from 1972 through to 1973. Wave then evolved into Khayyam, another jazz rock/progressive band, who featured lead guitarist Chris Jones and appeared a number of times at The Golden Cross.

It has always been my understanding that Khayyam did go as far as recording an album, although I have never heard it and therefore cannot verify this story.

However it seems that, if the tale is true, then the band never got the right deal in order to release it offi-cially. Which seems to be a never ending trend for the band, and all those involved with them. Bad luck and wrong deals was the story of The Matadors' career really.


NEW ADDITION TO THIS POST DECEMBER 2017


The Matadors update

It was an absolute joy to attend a recent ‘Sounding Off’ event at the Coventry Music Museum. The talk, hosted by Pete Chambers, was with the remaining members of 1960s beat band The Matadors. And it really was fascinating to hear, at first hand, the memories of these guys.

The passage of time had clearly eroded away some of the detail, but it was like seeing the formation of a jigsaw puzzle, as each of the band members each had their own individual memory and by bouncing those pieces around themselves the more complete the story became.

Originating from Hinckley, The Matadors spoke initially of their influences such as Elvis Presley and The Shadows. Although drummer, Harry Heppingstall, emphasised that his background had been in jazz. After a short spell as being known as The Rapiers, by 1962, they had settled on The Matadors, namely Dave Colkin bass guitar and vocals, Dave Findley rhythm guitars and vocals, Harry Heppingstall on drums and the late Neil Tyson on lead guitar and vocals initially lined up in a similar fashion to that which The Beatles also adopted.

The band clearly remembered the night at the Orchid Ballroom when they were top of the bill to The Kinks. The Kinks, at that time were a fledgling band who had recently come to the attention of the then ballroom manager Larry Page. But The Matadors mentioned that they still felt uncomfortable at heading up a show that included a band from London and offered to reverse the rolls and let The Kinks headline.

Inevitably the Joe Meek story came into conversation. The band recalled how things appeared to be fine when they initially signed for the independent record producer. But a year later they found themselves still waiting for a single to be released. It got to the point where a spokesman for the band had threatened to ignore their contract with Joe and set about joining a major company direct. The band had cut three discs with Joe and as yet none had been released.

Talking about the experience ‘We went down to his flat come studio in London. Joe was very arrogant and not at all willing for suggestions. He had Dan Findley’s piano keys fixed a certain way in order to get a sound he wanted’. The Matadors even received one of Meek’s infamous a tongue lashings.

After much delay the single was leased by Meek to Columbia in 1966 and local sales were strong. The ‘A’ side was titled ‘A Man's Gotta Stand Tall’ with the ‘B’ side titled ‘Fast Cars and Money’ on the ‘B’ side. The Matadors themselves much preferred the ‘B’ side though. Soon after producers Tony Hatch and Andrew Loog Oldham both became interested in the band.

1965 saw the band expand itself musically and this is how it was reported in the Coventry Express ‘The winners of the Express poll, the Matadors, have themselves undergone a definite change. An organ has been added and much of their earlier material has been dropped. The Matadors now put a great deal of emphasis on stage work and their material ranges from hit-parade gear to ballads and modern arrangements of older ‘pop’ hits. One of their most popular numbers is a rendition of the old Buddy Holly flipside ‘Everyday’ - one of the rock numbers to have stood the test of time. The ‘Mats’ do some of their own material and hope to have a record released which is mid-tempo and sung in falsetto harmony- on an Ivy League kick’

Another memory the band touched on was playing The Walsgrave Pub one Christmas day evening. They hardly saw a soul on the journey between Hinckley and Coventry and had visions of an empty venue. That was until they arrived at The Walsgrave and saw the huge queue of people waiting to get in.

As the bands reputation grew, so did the travelling, and so did their connections. As such The Matadors were able to drop the names of some very famous performers who they had crossed paths with. Eric Burdon, for example, cited the band during a tour of Scotland with The Animals as being one of his favorites. They mentioned the genius of Stevie Wonders whose use of diminished notes and the black keys on a piano was something they had not seen or heard before. Along with Georgie Fame they even had an impromptu jam with him. Mike Pinder of Moody Blues fame however was a bit standoff ish.



It was a wonderful hour or so that had clearly been much enjoyed by both band and audience.
.........................................





















The MATADORS
circa 1962 - 1967 - Sources Broadgate Gnome / Rex Brough / Pete Chambers / Tim James

Beat group

Line up: Neil Tyson (vocals, guitar, harmonica), Dave Finlay (organ, vocals), Dave Colkin (bass, vocals), Harry


Heppingstall (drums).

Formed 1962 , they were a hard gigging and well respected band who were based in Coventry, but who actually came from Hinkley.

In 1964 they signed with Joe Meek as their recording manager and cut a number of sides with him.

"Joe twisted our sound up, he speeded us up so we sounded like chipmunks" said Dave Colkin recently.

After a delay Their first single was leased by Meek to Columbia in 1965 and local sales proved healthy. They released a second single, but dissaffection was setting in with Meek's techniques and they shopped around for another recording manager, and both Tony Hatch and Andrew Loog Oldham both showed interest around May 1966.

By 1967 they were being courted by Polydor, but as the label had a low profile in the UK then,but they never released any singles.

They became Magazine in 1967 with the addition of a brass section, a reflection of the tastes of the time.

Single:

As 'The Four Matadors'

A: A Man's Gotta Stand Tall/ B:Fast Cars And Money (Columbia DB7806 1966)

Their single A Man's Gotta Stand Tall can be found on the album Joe Meek - RGM Rarities Vol. 2: The Beat Group Era

Mentioned in NME 1966 as The Four Matadors http://www.skidmore.edu/~gthompso/britrock/NME/nme6601.html



" The winners of the Express poll, the Matadors, have themselves undergone a definite change. An organ has been added and much of their earlier material has been dropped. The Matadors now put a great deal of emphasis on stagework and their material ranges from hit-parade gear to ballads and modern arrangements of older "pop" hits. One of their most popular numbers is a rendition of the old Buddy Holly flipside "Everyday" - one of the rock numbers to have stood the test of time. The "Mats" do some of their own material and hope to have a record released which is mid-tempo and sung in falsetto harmony- on an Ivy League kick." Via Tim James Site From Coventry Express, Friday May 28th 1965

Citybeat by Paul Connew


From Rex Brough

"Stuart Colman tells me they were from Hinckley. from an article that Tim James posted up , Matadors had an organ player. The Matadors put a great deal of emphasis on stagework and their material ranged from hit-parade gear to ballads and modern arrangements of older "pop" hits. One of their most popular numbers was a rendition of the old Buddy Holly flipside "Everyday". The "Mats" did some of their own material and hoped to have a record released which is mid-tempo and sung in falsetto harmony- on an Ivy League kick.


Stuart also tells me The Matadors cut one single for Columbia entitled "A Man's Gotta Stand Tall". The record was issued in January 1966 and had an excellent band original on the flip called "Fast Cars & Money". The single was issued as being by The Four Matadors and is now highly collectable as it was produced independently by Joe Meek. He remembers another of their own songs they performed on stage called - "The Sun, The Sand & The Sea".


Memories from Tim James


"I always thought they were an ace band in the early 60s, they looked good and played hard biting rock & roll of the day at the youth club dances where I first saw them. But but by '64 they were old hat, hadn't changed with the times, and went on to look more like a cabaret act before they folded."

From Pete Chambers - Backbeat - Coventry Telegraph

" This fine "Coventry" band had a secret, they weren't from Coventry at all. They in fact hailed from Hinckley in
Leicestershire, formed out of the enter-level band the Rapiers in 1961, one of the first bands in the area.

Original drummer Graham Baker had the misfortune of working shifts, so missed various bookings. His temporary fill-in was Harry Heppingstall and after some soul searching Graham was asked to leave and Harry took over the "skins" on a permanent basis. By early 1962 they had re-branded themselves The Matadors.

"The Beatles came and changed everything," confesses Dave Colkin. "We had a vocalist Larry Spain, but he was asked to leave and we found ourselves as a four piece band. The line-up was that of The Beatles, bass (Dave Colkin), lead (Neil Tyson) and rhythm Dave Findlay (guitars) and a drummer (Harry Heppingstall). We also shared the vocals like the Beatles and would often indulge in three-part harmony again like the Fab-Four. "We even got called the Midlands Beatles. We were playing the same songs as them, but up to that point we hadn't heard them so it wasn't like we were copying them. Larry Spain's brother worked on the American Army bases and got hold of the latest stuff coming Stateside, records like Twist and Shout and Chains, so we used them in our act, as did the Beatles. We went to see them when they played at The Co-op Hall in Nuneaton October 1962 and we all turned to each other and declared that they were doing our act!"

Indeed, their choice of songs was of interest to some of the big acts they got to support. "We used to play Do You Wanna Dance," Harry Heppingstall told me. "We supported Brian Poole and The Tremeloes one night and they expressed an interest in it, next thing we know they had a number one with the song. To make matters worse we had thought about releasing it ourselves."

It's worth pointing out at this point that the Matadors (or the Mats), were not your average beat band. They were very professional unit that knew how to work an audience, they had a great stage presence and an exciting set-list that included Can I Get A Witness, Well Alright, Walk Like A Man, Fun, Fun, Fun, Mr Pitiful and Everything's Gonna Be Alright. As you can see an emphasis on good old R'n'B - but not so for their one and only single, A Man's Gotta Stand Tall.

By 1966 The Matadors had got a chance to record a single with the legendary Joe Meek, thanks to their manager Mick Tiernan. Meek was a loose cannon, a changeling producer who had an original approach to sound techniques. He had produced the first US number one by a British pop group - Telstar by The Tornadoes. He liked to experiment with sound' the easiest and most simple way was never an option for Meek.

We went down to his recording studio in London. I found him arrogant and not over-friendly," said Dave. "Instead of a normal mixing desk Meek had his in a stack and worked standing up, and he looked like a teddy boy. "He fixed Dan Findley piano keys with paper and drawing pins to get the sound he wanted, everything was very experimental."

I recall," injects Harry. "How very bossy he was, I put my drumsticks down at the end of a take, and he shouted at me to
pick my sticks up again, 'I'll tell you when you can stop'!"

The Matadors (or the Four Matadors as they were known at the time of this single), were not happy with Meek, the way he had delayed releasing the record and what he had done to it.

He had speeded up the whole thing, and the vocals just sounded far too high. That's a shame because at the correct pitch, the song has a great keyboard phrase, and is a fine sounding song.

After internal wranglings with Joe Meek, the single was finally released by Columbia, and sold tremendously well locally, selling out in Jill Hansons, Coventry, in a matter of hours.

Sadly Columbia never promoted it enough and the lads left to seek another recording contract. One was with the Walker Brothers' recording manager who wanted them to sound like The Walker Brothers, and even puppet master Gerry Anderson of Thunderbirds fame demoed the band in Birmingham, but never got back to them.

The lads continued doing what they did best, working as a jobbing band seven nights a week, supporting the likes of Matt Monro. They eventually split up, sadly Neil Tyson passed away. The two Daves formed the band Magazine for a time. Harry joined soul band Natural Gas and now drums in Lonnie Donegan tribute act Paul Leegan and The Legends. Dave Colkin still sings, and does a wicked Elvis impersonation in countries as diverse as Thailand and Tenerife. While Dave Findlay went on to play in the band The Old G's (The Old Gits).

PopTrivia - MATADORS

IN 1964 The Matadors played on ATV's TV show, For Teenagers Only alongside The Swinging Blue Jeans.

THEIR Colombia single A Man's Gotta Stand Tall/Fast Cars and Money is now worth around pounds 80 in mint condition, thanks mainly for its Joe Meek connection.

JOE MEEK lived a troubled life, particularly towards the end of it. Joe had a crush on Heinz, a member of The Tornadoes, and consequently he built a solo career for him where one was not obviously beckoning. When Heinz formed a close relationship with a woman Meek was livid and shot his housekeeper then turned the gun on himself. The gun belonged to Heinz but a verdict of suicide was later proved beyond doubt."

See Pete Chambers Pop into the Past article too http://www.bbc.co.uk/coventry/content/articles/2006/05/26/pop_into_the_past_28_matadors.shtml


From Pete Chambers - Godiva Rocked to a Backbeat

" The Matadors played so much in Coventry that most people thought they were from the town -( they were from Hinckley). They won the Best Coventry Band Contest. Dave Colkin - " We went down to Holloway Rd, London to the house Joe Meek used as his recording studio. I found him arrogant and not over friendly. Instead of a normal mixing desk, Meek had his in a stack and worked standing up. He looked like a Teddy boy. He fixed Dan Findlay's piano keys with paper and drawing pins to get the sound he wanted. Everything was very experimental."

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Not Strictly Folk- The New Acoustic / Open Mic Nights

In this article, Pete Clemons takes a look at the new acoustic sessions in Coventry for the Coventry Telegraph. Names like Kristy Gallacher, Cliff Hands and Emma McGann are mentioned along with others.




It might not be folk but I like it,
Pete Clemons 

FOLK music is a very wide ranging and generic term. This style of music has been around since medieval times. What it normally refers to, though, is a traditional music delivered in a traditional and simple way. Folk has, over time, combined to great effect with other music styles like pop, rock and even punk and this has, at times, given the artists great difficulty in pigeon holing themselves.

One thing is for sure though is that Coventry, over the last 50 years, has been blessed by the amount of incredibly talented singer songwriters who have passed through our city walls. And over the last few years this particular style has shifted to suit the times.

Even the gigs have evolved from those smoky old folk clubs of old, although I acknowledge that they do continue to exist (less the smoke of course), to a more modern phenomena called the open mic or acoustic sessions.

Regulars to these events in recent years include the likes of Kristy Gallacher, Stylusboy, Wes Finch, Cliff Hands, Al Britten, Emma McGann, Lloyd McGrath, Si Hayden, Sarah Bennett, David Sanders, The Pickard brothers, Andy Mort and so the list goes on.

Even Dave Pepper, that one time leading light of the local punk rock scene has returned from America and brought back with him a style of country crossover music that he believes in with a passion. And all of these troubadours are quietly going about their craft, gaining exposure, releasing albums and EPs and generally getting very positive reviews across a wide range of music websites.

As with all aspects of life nowadays music also needs to find new ways to get itself heard during these challenging times. In order to get the music out there and into the public psyche CDs are to be found for sale at most open mic gigs. In fact some have them available on a unique 'pay what you want' basis.

One such release is 'The Whole Picture' by Stylusboy. It is a wonderful collection of songs that deal with issues like family problems, forgiveness, and the kind of crisis about the home that anybody can have. A far cry from the anti-war rhetoric that folk musicians of years gone by would have sung about. Yet, at the same time, these new pieces do not lack that jolt to the consciousness that such songs quite often deliver.

Stylusboy has been very busy so far during 2013 recording new songs and preparing for the release of his debut album 'Hospitality for Hope' which will see day of light this month on Wild Sound Recordings. This has been preceded with the release of his latest EP offering, Lantern EP which is, as always, really delightful and includes a couple of familiar tunes recorded live.

Another album release from a few years ago is 'Crawling from the Woodwork' by Cliff Hands. An incredible record packed full of tales and observations of modern day life. In fact I cannot recommend that particular album highly enough.

Cliff, one of Coventry's finest singer songwriters has followed up that release during 2012 with a second, and equally stunning, album entitled 'Street Shanties'. A particular favourite of mine from that album, 'Hard Times', makes you realise just what qualities Cliff possesses and how the power of a song can still deal relevantly with today's issues.

Wes Finch's recent Mayflower album project has been widely publicised n the Coventry Telegraph. He has already recorded the album and it is available on download but if, like me, you prefer the physical release then you pay up front for it. Not an unfair way of doing things and a very innovative way of producing music. I am glad to report that Wes has now hit his target and the CDs are now in full production.

Kristy Gallacher's releases cover, among other things, the age old issues such as love and relationships. Her music really is on a roll at the moment. Her debut album 'Emotional Gun' was picked up by the British library as an entrant for their 'significant new music' section.

And all of this exposure has resulted in her being picked up on the national scene. Prestigious support slots to the likes of Eric Clapton, Fleetwood Mac, and Paul Weller have since followed.

And Kristy, of course, had her second album called 'Spinning Plates' released during March 2012. From that album came the single 'Quicksand' which not only received high praise from the people of Coventry but was also recognised nationally as it topped an independent folk chart recently. House shows are also on the rise. The idea is that the host provides the food and refreshments and, what is effectively an open mic set, takes place in your living room. This is wonderful yet relatively in-expensive entertainment during these lean times.

And this explosion of all things acoustic can only benefit Coventry as a whole as word spreads of our incredibly eclectic array of talent.

So, as you can see, with the advent of the new century folk music has continued to flourish in these parts although I do think that the subject matter of the songs deal with more current and more up to date issues. Is it still considered as folk music? I guess that that is one for another day but maybe 'loosely acoustic' would be a more apt description.

And if you fancy a night out then why not visit an open mic event? The Tin Music and Arts (formerly Taylor Johns House) at the Canal Basin regularly holds them. A new Sunday teatime venture begins at The Open Arms in Cheylesmore on a monthly basis. There really are plenty of them around at the moment.

However, if you want to see some of the above names perform around these parts then I must warn you, be quick, their reputations are spreading and they may not be in town as regular as they have been for much longer.


Find out more about these artists and the acoustic and folk scene in Coventry from the 60's to present on the Hobo Magazine site Coventry Folk Club Scene http://coventryfolkclubs.blogspot.co.uk/

Dave Bennett
One of the long standing champions of contemporary folk and singer songwriters was ragtime guitarist Dave Bennett, whose daughter, Sarah Bennett and son Stephen Bennett have been active and very competent players on the Coventry acoustic circuit. Dave was a mainstay of the Rude Bare Folk Club and the Old Dyers Arms Folk clubs in the 70's and was the first to encourage Pauline Black (then known as Pauline Vickers) as a performer in his club before she joined The Selecter. Latterly he was one of Kristy Gallacher's guitar tutors. Dave was active both as an organiser and performer right up until he passed away (actually in a folk club!). You can read more about him on the Hobo Folk Club Scene blog here and listed to some of his music.  http://coventryfolkclubs.blogspot.co.uk/2011/07/dave-bennett-coventry-ragtime-guitarist.html

Justine Watson has been one of the main organisers of acoustic venues in Coventry, starting at the Golden Cross, the Escape bar and the Tin Angel and is a fine performer and singer songwriter herself.



















Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Barnabus

This time around Pete Clemons delves back the very early 70's and catches up with a band called Barnabus, who have recently reformed, for the Coventry Telegraph.




Back on the Same Barnabus.
Pete Clemons 

THE last few years have seen a low key but welcome return to the live music scene of local rock band Barnabus.

Despite a hiatus of almost 40 years this three-piece retain the exact same line-up that once graced venues such as The Walsgrave and The Plough on the London Road.

Barnabus, originally formed in Leamington, were and still are John Storer on lead guitar, Keith Hancock on bass guitar and Tony Cox on drums. They initially came together in 1970 when John and Keith, who had recently split from covers group The Jay Bee Kay Pees aka The JBKP's, joined forces with Tony who himself had just left The Rockin' Chair Blues Band.

The Rockin' Chair Blues Band who last performed during the late 1960s, were themselves a popular act back then, and regularly seen at venues such as the Drumbeat Club at the Globe Hotel in Warwick. They were also on the bill for the 1969 weekend music marathon staged at the Umbrella Club in Queen Victoria Road alongside bands such as The Chris Jones Aggression, Wandering John, Dando Shaft and many others. The Rockin' Chair Blues Band lineup was completed by Martin Johnson on bass, lead guitarist Stuart 'Digger' Davies and Jim Gault on rhythm guitar and they played a mix original material and covers by the likes of Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf.

When Barnabus started out with live dates there was confusion over the band's name. It seems as though the band's booking agents, for whatever reason, tried to get the band to change their name to Barnabas Legge and actually heavily advertised them as such. But despite the confusion the band members insisted they remained as Barnabus. Initially Barnabus played rock and blues covers. But the band soon began to develop a guitar led heavy rock style that was quite prevalent at the time. They also wrote some very good original material and began to build up their own repertoire. This was done with the help of a young lyricist and poet named Les Bates whose work was once described as being articulate, and, a lot better than a lot of 'name' bands around at the time.

During 1971 Barnabus recorded an album at Monty Bird's studios, in Snitterfield near Stratford upon Avon (aka Bird Sound Studios). These studios later became better known locally as Tank Studios. Monty himself was joined by Bob Young, a local entrepreneur who had formed the Sunshine Music agency and also ran a folk club/venue. He then formed an outfit named 'A Band Called George' (Bell label recording artistes). Tank Studios also ran their own independent record label and produced several releases in the mid to late seventies.

Then, in 1972, the band had a major breakthrough. Barnabus went on to win the Midlands heat of the Melody Maker Rock & Folk contest. The judges at the competition included Ozzy Osbourne and Tony Iommi, both of Black Sabbath fame. This success led to the band furthering their growing reputation resulting in them breaking away from the gigging circuit around Coventry and Warwickshire. Barnabus also gained several notable support slots for bands such as Man, Trapeze and the Edgar Broughton Band. This led to the band gaining further work as far away as London. They even supported Hawkwind at the Coventry Locarno in Coventry during April 1972. But, despite being so close to making it into the big league, it was all short lived and Barnabus split up a year or so later during 1973.

Wind forward 35 years to 2008 and Tony, who had become disillusioned with the whole music scene, suddenly rediscovered his old mojo again. And this meant the purchase of a new drum kit after selling his old one when Barnabus disbanded.

However, the need to play live again had already returned to John Storer and Keith Hancock who, during 2002, had already reformed The Jay Bee Kay Pees. And incredibly during 2007 the original line-up of the band that also included guitarist Bob Chimes and drummer Pat Branagan performed together for the first time in almost 40 years. The Jay Bee Kay Pees (JBKP's) continue today to be very popular around Leamington and district performing at many pub gigs and charity functions.

Tony resumed drumming duties for a Bob Dylan tribute band called The Bob Phillips Dylan Rhythm Band. This band also included Keith Hancock on bass. So the natural progression then was for Tony, John and Keith to reform Barnabus. This happened in 2009 and if you search youtube you will find some really excellent clips from that reunion gig at the Kingswood Tavern in Nuneaton.

Tony's main musical outlet nowadays though is blues rock band The Hoochmongers where he was reacquainted with old college friend and Rockin' Chair Blues Band bass player Martin Johnson. The Hoochmongers are essentially a rock band who play a varied blues based set. A typical set ranges from classic rock to blues standards to rock 'n' roll. They have a well maintained website and the gigs page is kept right up to date.

Barnabus have also been featured on a recent compilation release. 'Casting The Runes - The Recorded British Abyss 1969-1976' contains several Barnabus tracks such as Apocalypse and Resolute. This release though is on vinyl only and not on CD. It has been compiled from reel to reel tapes and acetates and was limited to 200 copies.

The LP includes some incredibly obscure and hard to find heavy rock tracks and, incidentally, also included is a track by another local outfit 'The Edgar Broughton Band'.

A more recent Barnabus reunion took place at The Zephyr Lounge' adjacent to The Assembly in Spencer Street, Leamington, during August 2013 with hopefully more gigs in the future.

..............................................................
Drums - Tony Cox
Lyricist - Les Bates
bass - Keith Hancock
Guitar - John Storer

"The rock band Barnabus formed in 1970, in Leamington Spa, when pop covers band the Jay Bee Kay Pees split. Lead guitarist John Storer and bass guitarist Keith Hancock, enrolled drummer Tony Cox from the also recently defunct Rockin' Chair Blues Band. Barnabus started out playing covers from bands such as Black Sabbath, Trapeze, Deep Purple, to name but a few, but before long they progressed to writing their own numbers, with the help of a young lyricist/poet called Les Bates. They played all over the local area and in London. They were the support act for several "name" bands of the time - Man, Edgar Broughton, Trapeze. They even supported Hawkwind at the Coventry Locarno, and in 1971 recorded an album at Monty Bird's studios, in Snitterfield near Stratford Upon Avon. Barnabus won the Midlands heat of the Melody Maker Rock & Folk contest, in 1972, where the judges were Ozzy Osbourne and Tony Iommi. The band eventually split up a year later, but reformed for a few charity gigs in 2009. All the members now play in other bands, but still play the occasional gig together. The band were promoted by their booking agents as Barnabas Legge although the band stuck with Barnabus themselves."

Some Text from the Hobo A to Z of Coventry bands


"Band Name Tony Cox has cleared up the confusion about the name of the band. The band's name was Barnabus but
" Barnabas (sic) Legge was the name our booking agents tried to persuade us to use, unsuccessfully!" Says Tony.
On the Broadgate Gnome site and originally on here there was an entry for both bands names as it wasn't clear if they were two bands with similar names. The spelling of the name was different too. Thanks for that clarification Tony.

Tony Cox explained
" Keith, John & I formed the band in 1970 following the demise of our previous bands, The JBKP's(K&J) and The Rockin' Chair Blues Band (me).

We started out as a rock covers band but soon started writing original material, aided by lyricist Les Bates. We had a bit of success, as well as the Melody Maker thing, we supported a several "Name" bands of the time, such as Man, The Edgar Broughton Band, Trapeze and Hawkwind.
The band split up in 1973 but got together again 3 years ago to play a few reunion gigs, mainly for charity."

Gigs
Leamington based rock outfit. Played the Walsgrave 31st Dec 1970 and Tuesday 26th Jan 1971 (Silk Disco). Won Melody Maker 'National Folk/Rock Contest' early 1972. In 1970, as can be seen from the above advert in Broadgate Gnome, they played Henry's Blues House at the Mercers Arms. Just a few of their many gigs.


Tony Cox adds " The demand for 60s/70s original prog rock is not great and so we don't gig that often!! However John & Keith play in a 60s "pop" band called the JKPs and are always busy in the Leamington area. Keith and I also play in a Bob Dylan tribute band called The Bob Phillips Dylan Rhythm Band which gigs occasionally, but Dylan music is also a bit of a niche market. So to keep busy, I also play with a blues rock outfit called Hoochmongers, and our bass player is the very same Martin Johnson from The Rocking Chair BB days!! so we've gone full circle"











An early version of America by Barnabus




More tracks on Youtube by Barnabus - click through
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qC1h4fuTc10 Apoclypse 1971

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XwDrScZ-W5E Resolute 1971


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ra1Qb_20WI War Drags 1971


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BSirixSFig Don't Cry for me Lady


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvdeDkX3P5o Perdita


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=saCKDzG7fJg Clasped Hands


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jA8JuwCcc4 Gas Rise


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvPPfC1OEoY Mortal Flight


And you know, there maybe even more - versions from 1971 and recently on youtube.

Look up the Hoochmongers and the individual muscians too.