Back in the New York Groove!

Hello!
Remember them?
They were a fresh faced gaggle of British glam-rockers from the 1970’s who were on the cusp of Sweet-y campness and Status Quo denim laddishness, completely forgettable apart from one thing, their only major hit single. That was ‘New York Groove’, a Bo Diddley-ish vamp crossed with some vicious powerchords in the chorus that was goshdarn infectious, so infectious that it was even picked up across the broad Atlantic by those purveyors of comic book rock outrageousness, Kiss, and turned into a hit for them.
Ah, Kiss… during my tenure with Scottish band Close Action, who mutated (or should that be evolved? No, I’ll stick with mutated…) into Z-Rox and thence into The Cuban Heels, we had a roadie, Willie (The Worm) who loved Kiss. In fact, he was completely and utterly obsessed by them. Probably still is, for all I know. We even covered one of their tunes, ‘Do You Love Me’, in our live set. It was a dumb rock’n’roll song, but I actually kind of enjoyed performing it. There is nothing wrong with being dumb occasionally, especially in rock’n’roll. I also had a soft spot for the tune that went on about wanting to rock’n’roll all night and party every day, as of course that was a particular ambition of all of us cramped into our yellow Transit as we criss-crossed the country, and hang on, what about that other seminal classic ‘Crazy, Crazy Nights’.
What about it?
It sounded a little like a lobotomized Slade, that’s what. 
Back in the 70’s, I had a problem with Slade. That problem was that to the followers of the former Ambrose Slade I was one of ‘them’. You know, one of ‘those’ guys. The love that dare not speak its name… yes, a T.Rex fan! I envied someone like Steven Beaton who appeared able to like both Slade and T.Rex and get away with it, but then again he was built like a brick sh*thouse, so who was going to argue with him? As I matured (hah!) realization gradually dawned that actually yes, Slade were pretty good, and away from the hothouse of factional teenage angst that was Thurso High School you could actually celebrate diversity and individuality in equal measures – dammit yes, I’ll have a lager tops with a shot of blackcurrant and a dash of lime if you don’t mind please Sybil. Yes Billy, I will assist you in cleaning up my own vomit later… (those last two references will carry deep meaning for those frequenters of the legendary Sheiling Bar, Thurso, in the 70’s and 80’s…). Don’t get me started on vomit, or I may start dredging up memories of famous technicolour yawns of my Thurso past, such as the Marine Inn (‘no worries, it was only a mouthful.’ the classic comment from owner Roddy), the Central Bar (all over the bar… but it was a smaller bar in those days) and Jimmy Riddell’s Triumph TR7 (performed at approximately 100mph on Castlegreen Road both inside and outside the vehicle…sorry again Jimmy)…
Now that was a bit of a digression, wasn’t it? I guess what I really meant to say was ‘Hello’.
Again.
After a two year break (and a sideways step into another blog that didn’t last very long), I’ve come back to ‘Lost In Space’, and I will try to post more regularly about life here in Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia, and about the many things past and present, home and away, including (surprise!) a hefty dash of music, that make me smile, frown, get up and get down etc etc…
It’s nice to be back, and If I do wander off the subject from time to time, you will forgive me, won’t you…?
Won’t you?

(This post is dedicated to Mr. Ray Harryhausen, 1920-2013, a genius of his craft.)

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vege-tables

Smiley Smile! Today Otis ate his first solid food (pureed carrot) and learned to ‘swing his pants’ in a Trevor and Simon stylee, to the accompaniment of some of that ‘dang hippety-hoppity music’ that gets played ’round these parts. Big thanks to our friend Ben, who departed these shores on Sunday to return to the USA, but before he did he donated his ENTIRE music collection to my hard drive… over 100 Gigabytes (whatever that means… how many LP’s is that?). Ben has amazingly eclectic taste (regular readers will know how cool he is) and I am very excited at the musical delights that lie ahead… Kiss greatest hits in particular. I’ve been known to ‘play Kiss covers on the jetty in the summer’ as Wilco sang, amongst the many crimes against music I’ve commited (and continue to commit). Perhaps we can incorporate something like ‘I wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll All Nite’ into the next (and last, for the time being) Scary Uncle gig. Scary Uncle have developed into a minor legend in Phnom Penh, despite having played much less than a handful of gigs. We were (are) a two-piece, myself on guitar (and to tell the truth, it probably would sound better if I actually did climb onto the guitar and jump about on it rather than try to play those things that Ulf Goran calls ‘chords’) and ‘singing’, and yet another Ben, the wonderful Ben R, on bass and enthusiasm. Ben is one of the world’s leading monkey anthropologists and a damn fine fellow to boot, although I sometimes suspect he views my more enthusiastic fret mangling as some kind of throwback to my simian past… his son, Tane, is also Otis’ hero, as he is at the ‘running around and causing havoc’ stage of babyhood – Otis gazes awestruck at Tane’s ability to run rings around pursuing adults as he attempts to redistribute the contents of a potato chip bowl to needy ant colonies. Tane and Otis are also Voodoo brothers, but that, my friends, is a story for another time…At our first gig in the truly wonderful Zeppelin Rock Cafe (supporting the even more wonderful Betty Ford and the GT Falcons) we even managed one of those transcendental rock ‘n’ roll moments, when, just about to start our last number, a chap leapt out of the audience and enquired if we needed a drummer.. ‘what do you know?’ I said ‘what d’you wanna play?’ he said’do you know any Violent Femmes”yep!”Blister in the Sun?’ ‘Yep!’…. and he did… he was a fantastic drummer… then he faded back into the darkness from whence he came… it was one of those nights that has passed into folklore, so much so that even Asia Life magazine, the SE Asia equivalent of Time Out reported us as being an Irish/English version of the White Stripes- not bad for a mostly drummerless Scottish/Australian outfit… Take a look at the photos in my media for the sad evidence… Ben R and family are off to Vietnam soon, so who knows what will happen, maybe some long distance rehearsing by Skype, or maybe I will finally take the plunge and perform solo – if you’re out there Michael (and I think you are…), I really wish I’d listened more carefully to  Bert Jansch and Leo Kottke and all those other guitar toters albums you used to have instead of sneering at them… now where are my Ulf Goran and Bert Weedon chord books….

‘she started dancin’ to that fine, fine music, her life was saved by rock ‘n’ roll’ (Lou Reed)