Paul McCartney in the Seventies

There’s not much more to learn about Paul McCartney, he’s probably the most famous musician on Terra Firma, So what can l learn in this book, about Macca in the seventies. Pretty much as it happens,I love a lot of what McCartney did in the seventies, stuff like Ram and McCartneys first solo album are wee gems, and lets not forget the stuff he did with Wings marvellous.

So one was was definitely interested in reading an indepth book, about his life during the seventies period.
After recording his debut solo album, he missed the camaraderie of a band, so he put together a band with his wife Linda and Denny Laine who would become the main stalwarts of Wings, the first line-up featured Henry McCullough and Denny Seiwell, and they started turning up unannounced at various colleges, and started making a melodic racket. This worked well at first, but soon the press caught on, and scuppered that plan. Might as well make some records then, which they did including a protest song Give Ireland back to the Irish, The songs kept coming out, as been in a band with McCartney you never had to worry about lack of songs. Talking of songs what about the epic Live and let Die after which the original line-up split, and off went the 3 stalwarts to Lagos to come up with Band on the Run.

Now growing up in the seventies as l did, you could surely be almost forgiven for thinking that Wings were verging on being classed as light entertainment, due to songs like Mary had a little lamb, the theme from Crossroads, and not forgetting Mull of Kintyre this of course is tosh, now enter into this, Scottish guitar player Jimmy McCulloch and have a listen to Juniors Farm that song is a wee cracker. Other great songs are Helen Wheels,Rockshow, Wino Junko and the Denny Laine penned Again and again and again to name a few of the top of my head.

Wings were a very troubled band, with many line-up changes due to all manner of things, like money issues to general not getting on, were the main concerns, but it must have been weird to be in a new band with Paul McCartney who is a giant amongst musicians, it could never be equal being in a band with an ex-Beatle. On Paul’s side he also found it difficult having grown-up in The Beatles and now finding himself with session men and yes men.

In the end Wings disbanded, this may be due to the japanese drug-bust and the tragic death of John Lennon,plus l think Denny Laine had enough, as he loved to tour and McCartney by this time had enough of the hassle that touring endured on him. Man on the run; Paul McCartney in the seventies by Tom Doyle is the book, if you want to check out the whole shebang, but like it says on the cover, it deals with a specific timeframe, this l have noticed is a current trend, in books l have recently read, where it deals with events over a certain period of time, so your not, for example going to read about McCartney chomping vegetables for The Super Furry Animals in the 21st century.

Chris McDougall

Nothin To Lose

Nothin’ To Lose, is the book about the making of the band Kiss, put together by band members Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons and helped by writer Ken Sharp.

It kicks- off with their formation, starting with the band Wicked Lester, which featured Gene and Paul who turned down their record deal, because they felt not ready for it, which it has to said is a really ballsy thing to do for a band starting out, and getting a major-label deal, it showed the determination and their vision for what lay ahead. So instead, they set up a new shop with Peter Criss, and later, when they found Ace Frehley and decided a name change, they were now called Kiss, and the foundation to what became now known, as the greatest most entertaining rock band ever was born.

So what do l know about Kiss, well not too much, when l think back to when l first discovered Kiss, l remember their image, but l struggle to remember their songs. thinking back, l was blind-sided, l hear explosions and visualise flash’s and remember stomping sounds and big guitar riffs, and their costumes were wow, one was a demon with bat wings, that could also spit fire, another a cat and here’s one as spaceman who had a guitar that was smoking, and then there was a guy with the star around his eye, by the way, this was in my childhood. What l do know is this, l had mates that were die- hard fans, that you could never win an argument with about music, l found this utterly fascinating, it was like, me “hey! l like the Who’ , Kiss fan would then say “well ok, but they aint as good as Kiss, me: l like Slade!, Kiss fan: ok but not as good as Kiss, or “What about Humble Pie, forget it chum there not as good as Kiss. These guys totally adored Kiss, respect.You almost felt like it was a cult, very dedicated to Kiss, it was like giving yourself over to God, and the church but loads more fun and different benefits. I succumbed, and went to see Kiss in concert, and l really loved it, and l’m glad l got to see them, l even read Ace Frehleys book and that was mighty fabulous too.

So this book was a particular must for me, as l had much still to learn about Kiss, so Nothin to lose, gave me good insider information, about the early days of Kiss, it deals with the period from their beginnings and ends when, they finally won over the hearts of the youth of America with the Kiss Alive album.

This book is written in a vox-pop type approach, you know, where you just get quotes of the people who witnessed their rise to the top. l like this style and you get the sense your travelling along with them,you get all sorts of great quotes from The Ramones, The New York Dolls and even Iggy Pop and Alice Cooper.

Kiss were way ahead of the game, and got on with it, first Gene got them great management, with Bill Aucoin and Joyce Biawitz, and not forgetting Sean Delaney, who was a bit of a jack of all trades. The band would sign to Neil Bogarts Casablanca label, they recorded their debut album and got their shit together, They went on the road, which was a nightmare for the bands that headlined over them, and soon they had to do their own headline dates as their stageshow was so awesome. But with hardly any help from the radio, who would not play their songs (unless, the Casablanca record promo guys, handcuffed the DJs to their seats at Kiss shows, so they could not escape), even though they had done TV, and the fanbase was growing, recording albums and endlessly touring, they got their breakthrough. What l really learned about Kiss was how the fans, the Kiss army got behind the band, and how Kiss really appreciate their fans, l also learned how Kiss also really respected other artists to like, The Who, Slade and Humble Pie. I have to say this is a smashing read,and l now know how the songs go.

Chris McDougall

KISS larking about in New York 1974

The Temptations Aint Too Proud To Beg

Ain’t too proud to beg is the definitive book about the band The Temptations, from their troubled beginnings, and the troubling times, during their rise, and the tragic things that lay in their path. A highly detailed opus by Mark Ribowsky, its attention to detail over the rocky road to stardom, and the bringing together of the Primes, Siberians and The Distants, all bands that would eventually merge into The Temptations, who I’m sure everyone has heard of. Of course you must of heard My Girl, that song is everywhere, well l know it well and l don’t even own a copy of it.

The book’s main focus is on the line-up that recorded My Girl, and that was Otis Williams, Melvyn Franklin, Paul Williams, Eddie Kendricks and David Ruffin, and boy did they have tough upringings, really tragic and scary in the case of Ruffin. As much as this is a telling of the tale of The Temptations, it is equally about the rise of Motown, and Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson, and other key fiqures such as Mickey Stevenson and the musical genius of The Funk Brothers, all held the cards to the making of the Temptations and what great singers they were, blending beautiful harmonies and great dance moves.

It took a wee while, before finally the temps hit the number one spot with My Girl, followed by more greatness in songs like Ain’t too proud to beg which remains the fans favourite. Then came the departure of Ruffin who kept coming back and making unannounced appearances, employing guerilla style tactics to get onstage. His replacement Dennis Edwards, signaled a change in direction, and they entered a new era of musical stylings that owed a lot to flower power and the emerging funk scene with bands like Sly And The Family Stone. To me this was my favourite period, and there is a great compilation album out there called Psychedelic Soul which has all the hits and funky stuff to, look at numbers like Cloud Nine, l can’t get next to you, Ball of Confusion all classics.

Afterwards the hits kept coming, Papa was a Rolling stone, Just my lmagination pure gold right. Sadly many of the Tempts died in dire circumstances, and only Otis stll remains from the classic line-up,Paul Williams apparent suicide,Melvyn from a coma, and one time, he had even being shot while trying to to stop a car jacker he was not killed cause the jacker recognised his voice from the Temptations and choose to kick him out of his car instead of killing him outright, Ruffin took far too much cocaine and blew up his heart, and Eddie died of lung cancer. Its a heavy book that’s for sure, but what a superb band of brothers they were.

Chris McDougall

Darrell Bath Band

Right l’m off to Ardrossan, Scotland which l know is near Glasgow It’s close to the sea , lt’s the sort of place that when there’s a storm coming to Britain, the news stations send out reporters to experience strong gales and the plan is, they try not to get blown away while delivering the state of the weather. Lucky for us the weather is behaving, in fact at times it’s rather splendid.

The reason l’m here, is to play with Darrell Bath who has arranged with Davey for us to play at the Ardrossan Bowling club. I’ve been to Ardrossan before, with Darrell, we came up by national express last time and we brought Pumpy a drummer with us, to be honest the journey was a bit grim travelling by bus for up to 12 hours each way, this time its just Darrell and l and we got smart and took the train up, which was most pleasing, we’re gonna use a local drummer who as it turns out is fantastic.

What’s also great about coming up here, is the guy we are staying with, Davey is his mantle, he his very hospitable, he’s also got impeccable music tastes, this trip we get an eclectic choice we have Frances Beby, then Alan Vega and Gemma Ray, and Marriot and Lane, and Panda Bear so its a good mix.

Darrell Bath and l have been playing for a few years now, l first got together with him when l joined the Dave Kusworth Band, although we did meet many years previously, well Darrell’s a major talent and a nice geezer which is always a plus. Another plus is, he’s a walking crawling musical encyclopedia he could earn millions on the pub quiz circuit, but would rather pass on his knowledge through his musical abilities. He writes his own songs, sings well and can throw in covers of the cuff. Me l find myself thrown into this melee, the songs he covers are a pastiche of well known stuff like Debris by the Faces maybe get a bit of The Stones Honky Tonk Woman to flight 505 we even get the Themes from Minder and Auf weidersehen Pet, blimey.

In the band tonight we have Gordon another major talent, not only on the drums for us but he’s even made it in the support band which he fronts, playing guitar and singing. Darrell tells Davey and l later that Gordons the kind of guy you want in your trench we all agree. Gordons band Sonny Daze and The Restless Knights are great and lovely peops as well.

The gig goes well, and we get em up on the dance floor, many generations have turned up from grandparents, parents, and offspring, so its a varied crowd and we are well received, So we are all happy it’s been such a blast. The next day l get to see my cousins, Carolyne and Julia, I don’t get to see them enough, l have seen them twice in the last 400 years, so its great to meet and catch-up, we go to the local pub and hang out there with big Ian and later on after my cousins have left, we end the evening with a meal and going to some bars and having a top night. The next day, we go and see Sonny Daze and Darrell has a go, and jams well, with the gang of Gordon McNeil on vocals and mouth organ and guitar, and Will Harvey on guitar or is it bass, Louis Kolodziej on bass or is that guitar, John Blair on guitar and Gordons daughter Ash McNeil on drums and they are all fantastic musicians and they play lovely music, fantastic.

Of course l drink far to much Gin and the next day l don’t enjoy the train ride back but l have to say we had a brilliant time and l hope we can return very soon.

Chris McDougall

Photo by Big Ian

Viv Albertine The Slits

Viv Albertine’s excellent and confessional book has bookmarked events, that are short chapters or snapshots about her early life, growing up in Muswell hill North London, the music that transpired before her, the way she got into politics and fashion, and how they all came to inspire her.This book is called Clothes Clothes Clothes, Music Music Music, Boys Boys Boys.

Originally from Australia, she arrived in London when she was four years of age, and would remain there till eventually many years later, moving away to Hastings for a bit, all is explained here in the book. I found this book to be really honest, enlightening and very gritty, and what a journey through life Viv took on, at times this book is quite heavy, and to me she is such a warrior a real fighter and an heroic character, oh and she was also in The Slits, a brilliant original and challenging band that came out during the punk scene in the seventies.

When l first heard The Slits, I had never heard anything like it. l really wondered where that kind of music would get its influences. l could hear in other bands, where they got their inspiration from, but The Slits really had me guessing. This book gave me a better insight into where they got their unique sound.

It would have been in the early eighties, when The Slits had the most impact on me, l remember getting the Return of The Giant Slits album, and l can say this album is a tester. l was around 15/16 years of age, around 1981, and in a strange place, so this album and me really connected. l can remember ,that nobody l knew liked this, but l didnt care, this record was like a warning, telling me its a fucked up world out there and indeed it is. However, it also gave me guidance into another world of diverse musical stuff, like Jazz, Dub Reggae and Avantgarde/experimental stuff. Listening back to this album today it’s interesting as it’s still very ahead, though it still seems to fit in with what’s currently out there, if you take a band like Tune-yards, l can hear sort of similar stuff going on. l often wonder if The Slits had an influence on Riot grrrl, the female music/art movement that came out in the early nineties from The USA, where bands like Bikini Kill came from. l read they were inspired by bands like The Raincoats who were also around the same time as The Slits.

After The Slits, Viv went on to become a film-maker, and directed and made videos for bands like The Butthole Surfers, She even settled down, got married and eventually had a daughter, then she became very ill and after a series of problems recovered, and somehow, managed to get the music bug again, and is now doing brilliant music again, this book is so open and honest you would be foolish not to read this. It’s not just about Punk it’s about life.

Chris McDougall

Just For One Day

Brit-pop made me a wee bit nervous, l think l was too old to get fully immersed in it. l was around in Camden Town when Brit-pop seemed to be everywhere l ventured, and l felt lt was a cool scene and it felt you know happening, but l still felt slightly awkward, not that this was a problem as l embraced it all the same. It reminded me a little bit of when there was a mod revival at the end of the seventies, l know there not linked or maybe they were, but somehow, this remained set in my mind, but never the less l got through it, and enjoyed the good night-life and goodtimes with lovely people it was all good fun what else could you want.

Louise Wener was in the band Sleeper who were definitely a part of Brit-pop or was it New- wave of New- wave, its funny having names for musical genres l guess it’s to do with marketing, anyway im digressing here, back to Louise and Sleeper l mention her because l’ve just read her magnificent book called Just for one day.

It starts with a nostalgic trip back to Redbridge Northeast of London, at the end of the seventies, and its very familiar aspects, about being young and doing things, like taping the top forty songs on your cassette player hoping your relatives wont interupt you, while you are taping your favourite hit that week, and hanging around and just coming to terms with being teenage. It’s actually refreshing to read a book that dedicates itself to the growing up aspect, and you know what, l find out that Louise is not that much younger than me and l totally relate to her surroundings and enviroment. l found myself identifying with many scenarios that emerged in the early chapters.

Sleeper may not have formed with it’s well known line-up of Louise, Jon Stewart, Diid Osman and Andy Maclure, had the bandmembers not been fooled by a glorious fake review, that Louise knocked up, hoodwinking her band into thinking they were a happening up and coming outfit, a genius move and one that would be used to entail record company interest, and yes this again worked in her/there favour.

Louise gives great tips, on what happens when you tour, and theres plenty to watch out for like when touring with Blur don’t steal their cheese, and keep away from Irish bars when on the road with The Boo Radleys. You could say that Louise takes a cynical view but this makes her writing much more awesome and witty, as we plow through both the ups and downs of Sleeper’s journey through what is known as Brit-pop they also had many hit songs like lnbetweener, What do l do now, Sale of the century and Nice guy Eddie.

Nowadays Louise writes books and spends her time making sure her children never find the music stuff that stays hidden in the attic.

Chris McDougall

Joe Perry Rocks

Bright light fright, by Aerosmith, is a song from the album Draw the line, to me it was the song that got me hooked to the band, funnily enough it was a song sung by guitarist Joe Perry, unusual considering how powerful a vocalist Steven Tyler is, and what an amazing frontman and icon he is, so what on earth was l thinking getting into Aerosmith by way of a Joe Perry song, Another Joe Perry song l dug, was ‘Let the music do the talking, by the Joe Perry Project which later appeared on Aerosmith’s Done with Mirrors album. Ok l know Aerosmith have tonnes of great songs featuring Steven Tyler but right next to him you will find his arm wrapped around Joe Perry.

So l’ve finally got the Joe Perry biography Rocks, and i’m finding out stuff l never knew, like Joe Perry wanting to be a deep sea diver before getting the music bug, which paved his way into mine and millions of others lives. l totally get Joe Perry’s love for guitars, l still can’t walk past a guitar shop, and not pause, and drink in the lovely display of guitars in the shop front, daring me to come in and try them out, l’m kinda geeky this way and proud of it too.

Fashion was just as important as music was to Joe, always searching for the right clothes to fit the sound they were producing, as much as Joe and Steve were tight as songwriters and image overlords, they had a very firey relationship and would often fall-out, throughout their time together you cant have perfection in the rock n roll world thats for sure.

The thing is, it was falling apart in the 70s for these guys due to management issues, that seemed to keep occurring into the 80s, Joe actually left the band at the tail end of the 70s because of concerns he had, he formed the Joe Perry Project and just carried on playing, but temptation was too much and l’m sure the financial situation needed to change, and so he returned to the fold, with a new manager who would be a nightmare later on, and cause all manners of chaos for the lads, that they would feel they were in a cult.

Maybe lots of people knew about the drugs, those guys consumed, it almost messed em up in the 70’s, as it did with most giant rock acts of the time, so when they got back together to restart their careers they got cleaned up, but the new manager used this as a way to control them, and that was almost another disaster for them hence, why they felt they were in a weird cult, where they all suffered for the mistakes from their previous drug use.

This book is written like an adventure story, with little cliffhangers at the end of each chapter, as things just keep getting worse, even though they were great highlights for the Aerosmith clan, with great breakthroughs such as the collaboration with Run Dmc and having that huge hit from the movie Armageddon.

Joe was lucky, he had a great relationship with his family and especially with his wife Billie, who new the score and how to deal with it, and Joe is very grateful for having her in his life. At the end of the book we get a chapter on Joe’s guitars, and the set-ups of his sounds, so my nerd alert was in overdrive, this guy owns about 600 guitars good job he lives in a big place. Amazing book, the last l heard about Perry, was that he’s got this band with Alice Cooper called The Hollywood Vampires, and Johnny Depps involved on guitar duties, and l heard that Macca was involved in it as well, smells like another supergroup is on the horizon.

Chris McDougall

Joy Division Bernard Sumner

There’s quite a few books out there, that have been written about the band Joy Division. l’m sure the best ones, are the ones written by the people that were actually in the band itself. first we had Peter Hooks Unknown pleasures book, and now we have Bernard Sumner’s Chapter and verse, which tells his side of the story and also what happened after Joy Division, with the mega- success of New Order and beyond, and lets not forget The Hacienda, a very big thorn that tore through the royalties of Joy Division and New Order everything is explained in these very pages.

Bernard Sumner had by all accounts a very tough upbringing in Salford, up Manchester way, even so he remained very optimistic, and credits this to his influences which gave him his edge in his playing style, but it was seeing the Sex Pistols play, that got him to actually start playing his guitar. For him though, his influences were more about his enviroment, rather than actual music heroes, probably because he did not come from a musical family, not that this was in anyway a handicap, as with all the changing landscapes of modern industry this seemed the perfect fodder in which to indulge, when he formed Joy Division.

During the heady ascent of Joy Division, Barney would move from guitar and start building Synthesizers, from kits to add textures to the sound of Joy Division. I remember the first time l saw Joy Division on TV, it was so mindblowing. The next day at school we were forming bands, and soon after, l would get a guitar, and join the ranks of figuring out how to get an identity. lt took a while, and l have still got a while to go. I reckon loads of people my age, and younger must have done the same thing, as even nowadays, l seem to still be playing with musicians, who are heavily influenced by the body of work they left behind, even though they only done a couple of albums, the damage so to speak was done.

New Order, who are also influential on musicians around the globe, and it’s amazing to think how it came to be successful, according to whats written here, with all the mishaps explained, to such comical effects, these guys knew how to have fun, and many lessons were learned, such as never get in cars driven by Bez from the Happy Mondays.

During New Orders time, Bernard also got together with guitar supremo Johnny Marr and formed Electronic another great band, who also got success, and the funny stories continue on, such as going on a press tour and missing vital radio interviews because you end up partying with Seal, and catching flights and bringing a bag of sick through the security gate, oh dear how bad does it get, before your in that kind of situation.

All in all, this is a mighty fine read, he is very honest and even addresses what happened with Hooky and brings the saga of New Order up to date and we also get a bit about Bad Lieutenant too. All in all you get a good insight of what it’s like to be in New Order and he’s totally open, with what went down.

Chris McDougall


Every Nights A Saturday Night By Bobby Keys

Oh the shame of things that happen with me. l have had this book in my possession for well over a year, and l have only now got around to reading this, it’s not like l was avoiding reading this l just misplaced it amongst my book collection, it was not buried, in fact l could see it from my chair, its just other distractions would get in the way.

Every night is a saturday night and every day is a Sunday, is a an old Texas saying, it’s also the title of Bobbys memoirs, not to be confused, as l was slightly with, Every night is saturday night a song by Jesse Ed Davis who was also a good buddy with Bobby so thats all good. Anyway Booby Keys was born in Slaton which is in Texas he moved to Lubbock where Buddy Holly is from, this is where he got his taste for the saxophone thanks to, in a way by picking up top sax royalty King Curtis in his car, and well he got the bug. It was kinda fast paced from then onwards, he even played on the session of Return To Sender by Elvis Presley, after touring with Buddy Knox, he tried unsuccessfully to join the Army lucky for him, as at the time Vietnam was looming.

He was soon in Los Angeles and ended up playing with Delany and Bonnie who were very influential on Eric Clapton and countless others, so after a bit of playing with them, he ended up in England, and hes on All things must pass, the fantastic George Harrison album, he even moves in with John Lennon and after a while gets approval from Yoko Ono for imitating the sound of a frog. Bobby and John have a great friendship and spend much time trying to outdo each other for example Bobby would say ‘Oh man l have to get up so early and John would outdo him by saying thats nothing l have to get up so early l have to get up an hour before l go to bed, all good fun. After that he lives with Mick Jagger and soon enough hes playing on Rolling Stones albums and on his way to becoming a fixture in The Stones which is where most people know him from.

Now before l read this book, l heard some moaning from the ranks, that this book was a serious piece, about a serious musician which it has elements off, I was told there are not many stones stories in here, but maybe its because we have perhaps heard lots of Bobby stories, that have been regaled in the countless Rolling Stones books that are out there, so maybe he thought ,hey maybe people wanna hear the other stuff l’ve done and yes this is what we get, so wahey to that.

After a while Bobby left the Stones which was a sin of the highest degree in the stones camp, he had his reasons which he explains, and he sure sorted his life out a bit, and played with Joe Cocker and here we get some great tales of the sitiations that these guys got up to, all very funny.

I was very lucky, to have seen Bobby play a few times but my favourite was when he played with the band The Dirty Strangers, over a year ago at the Borderline in London a small cool venue, and it was fantastic night. Sadly Bobby Keys passed away, last year in early December, but through this book and the legacy of great songs he played on, he will always be in the hearts of true rock n rollers in the known universe.

Chris McDougall


The Bells

It is so unreal where l live, don’t get me wrong, in fact it’s a nice peaceful part of London, that l dwell in, and it would be just picture perfect, if only one thing would suddenly disappear, and its the sound of Clang.

Why? must we have the sound of bells everyday, l just can’t get my ears around this, it’s torture, l wake up usually before the bells start, at 8-am every week day and at 9- am on the weekend, so ok, its only in the morning but no, the ones in my street go off at 11am and then at 6 pm in the evening.The only good thing is, that it curbs my drinking in excessive amounts, to the extent, that its best not to bother, and avoid the toll of bells, mixing it up with the bong of a hangover, so you could argue that church chimes are a healthy option.

Now, l am not against the church at all, or the people that attend these events, in fact, l respect people that have a faith, whatever gets you through life, can only be a thing of good. l am though wondering, why, we have this tradition of bell ringing, in this age of technolgy, with all sorts of media devices that are available, could replace the sound of bells, with you know stuff, like emails and texts and such like, to inform the congregation of forthcoming church events, such as services, but then, what would Sundays for example be like, without the familiar ringing tones, l really think it would be strange if there was no more bells. l wonder also, if the sound of bells gets performance royalties from the PRS, everytime they make a sound, if so somebody is very rich indeed hmmm.

I also sometimes, get a bit confused by the sound of bells, they remind me of the start, of distant Heavy Rock albums you know Dong, pause, Dong, pause, Dong and perhaps a bit more donging, then i’m waiting for either, Black Sabbath to start rocking out, or an AC/DC riff to be unleashed, but no, its just a bunch of Dongs then silence. If you stand in a certain spot in my neighbourhood, at a certain time,you can hear a whole chorus of bells from various churches in the immediate area, ringing in the tone of the day, and its funny and also fabulous. To be honest, its not that bad if truth be told.

One day perhaps, there will be no more, ding-donging of bells who knows, business may well decide, to continue with its war, against culture and the arts, and that all churches, will make great homes for the rich and greedy, and what l mean by that is, with the mowing down of our society, to make way for living spaces and shopping centres in London. one day, even churches, may be the next in line. At the moment, l should feel blessed with the ringing in of the new days. And now, let that be the end of the matter for now.

Chris McDougall