The Fog On The Tyne Is All Mine

September 24, 2011

Newcastle United soccer fans are one of most loyal football fans in the world, week in week out the Toon Army turn up to support their team no matter what division they are in and the people of Newcastle feel the same way about their home town group called Lindisfarne. This British rock group from the 70’s took their name from the little tidal island off the north~eastern coast of England known as Holy Island.                                                                

Signing to the great Charisma record label in 1970 run by the legendary Tony Stratton Smith, their label mates included Genesis, Peter Gabriel and The Nice featuring Keith Emerson.

1970 saw the release of their debut album ‘ Nicely Out Of Tune ‘ a classic folk / rock album which features the song ‘ Lady Eleanor ‘ which became a hit nine months after its initial release date. The album is great , full of great songs and harmonies and has a football sing ~ along atmosphere on some tracks. There is not a bad track on the entire album.

Next album for the band was ‘ Fog on the Tyne ‘ and sometimes the second album can be a let down after the success of the first one as the band is usually on the road touring and have less time to write new songs. Produced by Bob Dylan producer Bob Johnston this is another classic folk rock album from the band and features the top ten single ‘ Meet Me On The Corner ‘  and with the title track both songs became highlights of their live shows.                     

A heavily reworked version of the title track with vocals by footballer  Paul Gascoigne another Newcastle legend was released under the title ‘ Fog On The Tyne ( Revisited ) credited to Gazza and Lindisfarne. It reached No. 2 in the UK charts in 1990.

Lindisfarne were blessed with great singers in Alan Hull, Rod Clements and Ray Jackson. In fact Ray Jackson played mandolin on Rod Stewart’s mega hit ” Maggie May ‘ but Rod forgot his name on the credit on the album. John Peel was used miming on the TV show Top of the Pops playing mandolin, so Ray missed out twice !

Alan Hull was the main songwriter and was a huge talent. On the release of their 3rd album the excellent ‘ Dingly Dell ‘ which was sightly savaged in the UK music press, Hull decided to leave to leave the group and pursue a solo career. In 1973 Alan Hull released ‘ Pipedream ‘ which was like a new Lindisfarne album as three of the band are playing and singing on it! This album is worth finding and features a brilliant distinctive artwork sleeve on the cover as is the album, also ‘ Back To Basics ‘ where Alan Hull plays acoustic  versions of his songs from 1970 onwards is worth finding.                                           

After a brief hiatus, Lindisfarne decided to reform again with the same line up. They hit the charts again in 1978 with the catchy ‘ Run From Home ‘ , but the momentum had been lost and the spirit was not the same.

While working on a new album in 1995, Alan Hull died suddenly from a heart thrombosis. A sad loss, but at least Lindisfarne and Alan Hull left behind a great selection of songs for us to listen too.

We Can All Swing Together !

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The Faces ~ Had Me A Real Good Time !

September 8, 2011

After the demise of the Small Faces in 1969 with Stevie Marriott leaving to form Humble Pie, the three surviving members Kenny Jones ( Drums ) Ian McLagan ( keyboards ) and Ronnie Lane ( Bass ) hooked up with Ron Wood and Rod Stewart fresh evacuees from the Jeff Beck Group, and named their new band The Faces.                      

Jeff Beck is quoted as saying that “Wood and Stewart were like a couple of little schoolgirls always giggling and laughing together” and that he was pleased to get rid of them.

The initial Faces albumFirst Step ‘ was released in 1970 and had the name the Small Faces on the front cover. The album features lots of  great charm but is slightly untogether with songs such as ‘ Three Button Hand Me Down ‘  and Dylan’sWicked Messenger ‘ pointing the direction the band would take in the future, but it was really the folky Ronnie Lane song ‘ Stone’ that captured my ear!

I saw the Faces play on the release of their second album ‘ Long Player ‘ at London’s Chalk Farm Roundhouse and what a show it was with Rod and the boys kicking soccer balls out into the audience and all of them drinking wine and brandy on stage. It was a real party atmosphere with the audience joining in for a sing~a~long at every opportunity.                

The second LP ‘ Long Player ‘ once again is a bit messy but with the Faces becoming a great rock n roll live act at this time. Two tracks on the album are live ‘ I Feel So Good ‘ and a brilliant cover of Paul McCartney’sMaybe I’m Amazed ‘ and the party theme of ‘ Had Me A Real Good Time ‘ is great, but once again it is the folk songs supplied by Ronnie Lane that also stand out!

Album No. 3 ‘ A Nod’s As Good As A Wink To A Blind Horse ‘ with it’s great sleeve artwork would be the break~through album for the band . Outstanding songs on this album include ‘ Miss Judy’s Farm ‘ and the funny ‘ Your So Rude ‘ and ‘ Stay With Me ‘ .Every song is a winner and  the band really gel and the songwriting had reached a high point.

Finally the band made the UK chart with the 45 ‘ Stay With Me ‘ which exploded out of the radio helping to propel the album and 45 into the Top Ten. However this was followed closely by the solo success of Rod Stewart with the 45 ‘ Maggie May ‘ and the LP  ‘ Every Picture Tells A Story ‘ with the rest of the Faces feeling like they where his backing band. That wasn’t what the Faces was about with their motto being ‘ All For One and One For All ‘ but the damage had been done within the group, most critically with Ronnie Lane who was very unhappy with the situation as some shows were billed as Rod Stewart & The Faces.                                             

By the time the final album ‘ Ooh La La’ hit the streets it was clearly all over but this LP had some high points with ‘ Cindy Incidentally’ making the pop charts and the title track becoming a fitting finale to a great group and with Ronnie Lane leaving the Faces to join the circus with his new ‘ The Passing Show ‘ band of musicians, big top, clowns and all!

Ronnie Lane was the heart of the band and things were never the same after he left and today Ronnie is sadly no longer with us. Kenny Jones joined the Who for a short while as replacement for Keith Moon. Ian McLagan would tour with Bob Dylan and the Stones and fronts his own Bump band,while Ronnie Wood joined the Stones as Mick Taylor’s replacement.

Rod Stewart would do his Atlantic Crossing to the USA and his many blondes girlfriends, but never had another band to match the Faces. Blessed with a great voice maybe he sometimes reflects on the time when he had major solo and group success all in the space of one year with ‘ Maggie May and ‘ Stay With Me ‘ in the singles chart and ‘ Every Picture Tells A Story ‘ and ‘ A Nod’s As Good As A Wink ‘ in the album charts.                        

So far Rod has resisted calls from Ronnie to sing with the band again ~ so the three remaining Faces ~ Ron, Kenny and Ian have played some live shows with Glen Matlock on bass and Mick Hucknell on vocals. Very good indeed !

Last Orders Please !


Beatlemania ~ November ’63

August 28, 2011

The Beatles kicked off November 1963 with their Royal Variety performance in the presence of the Queen Mother and  Princess Margaret. This night John Lennon was to announced to the crowd “For those of you in the cheap seats clap your hands to this one:  the rest of you can rattle your jewelry” and then launched into ‘ Twist & Shout ‘ and Beatlemania had arrived in Britain!                           

The Beatles went off on a tour of England and was met by large crowds of female girls screaming and fainting at the very glimpse of the mop tops and most of these shows on this tour were held in cinemas as the boys criss crossed the country for the month getting 300 pounds a night and not being able to hear a thing they were playing!

The single ‘ She Loves You ‘ had been No 1 in the UK charts and would be followed by ‘ I Wanna Hold Your Hand ‘ in late November ’63 selling a million copies before release.

On November 22nd the Beatles second album ‘ With the Beatles ‘ was released with its distinctive black and white half shadow cover and haircuts and I remember the girl who lived across the road Linda coming over to my house with the record and hearing it for the first time. It sounds so fresh and tight,  full of atmosphere and the band deliver a masterpiece with Ringo supplying the back beat for the boys to supply their chunky rhythm and sing their hearts out!. No songs were released as singles in England off this LP but all of the songs are well crafted and are super good !

With the Beatles ‘ was the follow~up to the ‘ Please Please Me ‘ LP which was recorded in one day and this LP had more time spent on it and is well recorded by George Martin and the Beatles sparkle and rock with great playing and harmonies from beginning to end with a few covers, lots of original Lennon and McCartney songs and the first George Harrison composition.      

It Won’t Be Long ‘ starts things off with John on lead vocal and plenty of harmonies then slows with ‘ All I’ve Got To Do ‘ followed by Paul singing ‘ All My Loving ‘ brilliantly. Next up is George with his own song  singing ‘ Don’t Bother Me’ . Then we have the rocker ‘ Little Child ‘  with Paul on piano and Lennon with a great vocal performance. Paul takes the lead on the sweet  ballad ‘ Till There Was You ‘ . ‘Please Mr Postman ‘ ends the side with John delivering again a great vocal performance on this Motown classic by the Marvelettes.

George takes the mike on Side Two with a steamrolling version of  Chuck Berry’s ‘ Roll Over Beethoven ‘ and ‘ Hold Me Tight ‘ rocks along with Paul’s vocal and the boys full of energy. Smokey Robinson’s ‘ You Really Got A Hold On Me ‘ is my personal fave and features George Martin on piano. Next along is ‘ I Wanna Be Your Man ‘ with Ringo taking vocals and this song would give the Rolling Stones their first big hit in the UK! Next is a great song  ‘ Devil In Her Heart ‘ which is a Beatle cover of a group called The Donays which would have probably been forgotten if not recorded by the Beatles. the last Lennon and McCartney song on the album is ‘ Not A Second Time’ with John on vocal and to finish the album another Motown hit ‘ Money ‘ which gave John a chance to show us his raw vocal power one more time.                                    

The world would soon change as the Beatles went on to conquer the globe and like the two world wars the Yanks were late to the party!  Will we ever see the likes again!


Georgie, Georgie ~ They call him the Belfast Boy!

February 1, 2011

Georgie Best was born on May 22nd 1946 with a football at his feet!

At the  teen age of 15 George Best was discovered by scout Bob Bishop in Belfast and was brought over to Manchester United’s Old Trafford ground for a trail, but it turned out that he didn’t like it too much, feeling homesick he caught the boat back to Belfast without telling anyone.

Luckily father figure Matt Busby, United’s manager knew that George was a diamond in the rough and eventually got him back to Old Trafford.

Making his debut in a United shirt in 1963 at the age of 17 he looked too skinny and fragile for the Football League like a puff of wind would knock him over, but nobody on the opposite side West Bromwich Albion could get near him that day.

Playing on the wing alongside the likes of Denis Law and Bobby Charlton this was the start of a new era at United after the tragic air crash at Munich in  1958 that claimed the lives of so many of the Busby Babes. If the club had sold one of these players in the 60’s the crowd would have torn the ground down, that’s how high in esteem these players were held.

The day United went to play Benfica in the European Cup quarter final in 1966 in Lisbon was when Best’s star exploded. After scoring two goals and playing out of his socks he was dubbed with the name’ El Beatle ‘ by the media because of his great natural talent, good~looks and Beatle hair cut, but this boy was more than a pretty face, he could play a bit as well! Following that night the woman, bright lights and media were never far behind the Belfast boy with the cheeky smile! On the field he was all business, off the field unlike David Beckham he was another story and always made the headlines, drinking just like his mother before him began to take its toll in later life but he left us some fine moments to remember!

When on international  duty for Northern Ireland he sometimes single~handedly demolished the opponents~ especially England,  Scotland, and Wales.                                                                                      

Two occasions stand out for me watching him play~ firstly against Chelsea at Old Trafford with Peter Bonetti in-goal for Chelsea. The keeper threw the ball out to full back Eddie McCreadie who couldn’t quite control it properly and George whips in and with superb balance lobs it over McCreadie’s head and runs round the side of him, collecting the ball and neatly lobbing it over Bonetti’s head and into the back of the net.

The second occasion was against poor old Northampton Town at their small ground in the FA Cup. George had been banned for six games and this is his comeback game and he scores six goals in that cup game, you had to feel sorry for the Northampton keeper but George was in blistering form that day. He graciously received the match ball signed by the Northampton team.

Also who could forget the classic days at Fulham with Rodney Marsh both having fun!
What would George be worth today! I wonder! He was European Player of the Year 1968. He could beat two defenders at once, ride their tackles wait for them to catch him up and beat them again! Eat your heart of Chopper Harris.  
 

 

Poetry in Motion.

In 1974 at the ripe old age of 27, Best quit United for the last time, his final game being on 1st January 1974 against Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road.

As one of the first celebrity footballers , George Best led a rather wild lifestyle, unfortunately this led to progressively serious problems with alcoholism which finally led to his death in November 2005 at the age of 59.

We all still miss him!


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