Friday, May 18, 2012

Back to the 60's - Lola and the Beatles

It will come as no surprise to those who know me that I am old.

I was born a mere 12 years after the end of WW2 and the world was a different place then.

My parents were youths of the of the 50's in England. Imitating American clothing styles while still riding their bicycles to work because a weekly bus ticket would consume half their wages. Both sexes teasing their hair and teasing each other but not yet protected by the pill, or the sense or cents to buy condoms. But enough about my parents, my conception and their teenage marriage.

My early youth was firmly in the 60's. A strange forward looking time when the world changed. Repeatedly.

I can recall the Beatles. Not as some semi-mythical figures from folklore but as an actual band who appeared on "top of the pops"

I won half a crown (or two and sixpence) at a local dance hall one Saturday morning singing to "Ticket to Ride" at the top of my voice when it was still in the charts. (c 1965) Much later I recall hearing "All You Need Is Love" and then seeing it on TV in one of the world first satellite broadcasts in a resolution that would embarrass most 6 year old filmmakers today.

In all of this history, somehow my parents (well by this time Mother and Step-Father, who would have thought?) were managers of a pub and by a further twist of fate I found myself for one year (Sept 1967 - July 1968) a border at the Licensed Victuallers' School

For those not familiar with the language or the school, this was at the time a school for the children of owners or managers of English pubs situated in Slough.

As such the school houses are named after breweries (I recall being in Whitbread House) and everybody who boarded (there were also some day students from local showbiz families) lived in a pub.

So when the English Public School tradition of "Half-Term" (one of the six times a year parents might see their children) rolled around I would find myself off with a friend from school staying at a pub for the 3 or 4 day holiday.

One Half-Term I ended up staying with a friend from London in a small pub run by his Mother. The Abbey Tavern. I'm pretty sure this is not the current pub of that name. In 1968 it was a small pub around the corner from the Abbey Road recording studios.

So one weekend, probably early in 1968, I ended up in the pool room of a small English Public House playing 8 ball with a friend from school and a super group of the time. My memory is now fading and I can't tell you for sure if it was the Hollies or the Kinks that I played pool with that day. More recently I have tended to go with the Kinks as they have retained their cachet but I would still be happy with the Hollies.

So from 1968 (or thereabouts) here are the two groups:-

Just as an aside, (without going into the whole "Tom Brown's School Days" culture shock of English Public Schools)

If you check out the Wikipedia Entry for the Licenced Victullaers School you may end up at the entry for "(Famous) People educated at Licensed Victuallers' School" which lists four people. I have never heard of two of them. (I thought I had heard of Paula Hamilton but it turned out she was a Model, Not exactly my circle)

So that leaves Tracy Ullman who has long been a favourite of mine (except for her last series) Most famous recently for attempting to prise some of the ill-gotten gains from "the Simpsons" from Rupert Murdoch's not quite dead but still cold hands.

And lastly Simon Cowell (who would have thunk!) who also attended the School for only one year. (as did I) If I would have stayed at the school till Upper Sixth I may have had the opportunity to bully the world famous bully.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Cinco de Mayo

To celebrate Cinco do Mayo (A celebration of Mexican Culture held in the U.S.) I bring you a Mexican duo who met playing in a thrash metal band and later gained fame playing in the pubs of Dublin.

Rodrigo y Gabriela - Amazing musicians who don't like to limit their music to a single genre. They have an energy an intensity that translates into the musical experience. They also do a great version of "Stairway to Heaven"


  Before I had seen any of this I was watching something on SBS last week when they flashed up a promo of four world music albums. "Time for some new music I thought" so yesterday I went into JB-Hi-Fi to look for the albums. mentioned. I could only see one of them and it was also listed as a staff recommendation with the comment "Rodrigo Y Gabriela as you have never heard them before"
As I hadn't heard any of their music before I was pretty sure they would be right so "Area 52" joined my collection.

The sticker on my copy of the album goes on to describe how they are backed by a 13 piece Cuban Orchestra and special guests. From track 1, it's a masterpiece! I have yet to listen to the whole album but it is my currently my favourite album and my neighbors will be hearing it most of the day. The musicianship and artistry of the duo is now backed by all the power they need from a Latin brass section. The full orchestration adds so much to the songs while still allowing the two guitars to shine through. So I'm off to fill the esky with Mexican beer and have a blast for Cinco de Mayo.

If things do need to slow down later in the afternoon I can always listen to one of Linda Ronstadt's Spanish albums...I'm sure the neighbours will approve.