Long time, since we had a nice time, do you think about that?

The Damned were kind of fun, but the evening was more about seeing mates and meeting up with old friends. Thoroughly enjoyed it. The week before though, was all about the music.

The Skatalites

Got the train down to Bath to see my friend Tom, and go to the new Komedia there, where it was a real privilege to see genuine ska / rocksteady / reggae / jazz legends, the Skatalites. Regrettably, Don Drummond, Tommy McCook, Jackie Mittoo and Roland Alphonso have all passed on and as such are unlikely to be coming down to the west country in the near future, but Lester Stirling, Lloyd Knibb and Doreen Schaffer still remain…

I’ve looked up the biographies of some of the other musicians also currently in the Skatalites, and they’re pretty impressive as well. Look at the Wikipedia entries for sax player Cedric Brooks and trombonist Vin Gordon, for example… and then browse through some of the recording credits of bassist Val Douglas.

Yeah, it was a real thrill to see these old fellers – can I say “cats”? – walk onstage, which was given a bizarre but gratifying twist by the emergence of Lester Sterling apparently wearing an old-style Gloucester shirt… (Honestly, hoops and everything. In Bath, as well…).

Clearly not spring chickens, they tore through a set at least as energetic as the Damned’s, lovingly tossing away ska classics such as “007”, “Guns of Navarone” and “Lucky Seven”, all as tight as a drum and loose as hell. Great stuff.

I’d never been quite clear about the difference between Ska and Rock Steady but after about six or seven numbers, another original member vocalist Doreen Shaffer came onstage and the tempo changed completely. Still possessing a fine voice and a real warmth about her, she led the band through a series of beautifully light rock steady numbers, such as “You’re Wondering Now”, “Nice Time”, “Sugar, Sugar” and a version of “Simmer Down”. It was wonderful stuff.

And from there, the set changed again into a series of reggae and dub tracks, featuring Douglas’ thundering bass lines. It was breath-taking, and then not a little poignant to see Douglas walking off with the aid of stick at the end.

True to form, I left my microphone in the car, so I’m kicking myself that I have no recordings to share, but The Skatalites have a pretty active website and there are a number of freebies there, including these tracks with the wonderful Doreen Shaffer

Nice Time

Adorable

A great evening in all, (topped off when I got to shake Cedric Brooks’ hand as he showed up at the bar half way through the set!)

Is she really going out with him?

Busy, busy time for everyone, I guess, but definitely for teachers – carol concerts, plays, assessments and the feverish dash to knock up … stuff … from card, tinsel and glittery bits. Predictably, this has meant the already meagre trickle of posts on here has recently dried up almost completely. I can only apologise.

What’s actually quite unlikely about the whole period is that somehow I’ve managed to squeeze two gigs into the last fortnight or so – I’m not quite sure how this has happened. This week I went to see punk legends, the Damned, at the Guild Hall. I quite like these old punk gigs – always bump into a few people I’ve not seen for a while, and it’s always kinda fun to see what shape these bands are in.

And it’s heart-warming to report that, despite being a little thicker around the waist and fuller around the face, Vanian and Sensible (regrettably no Scabies) aren’t doing too badly really. I was a little apprehensive to be honest, not just by the prospect of a new Damned album being out (not often a good sign) but also having suffered the humiliation of a perforated ear drum at the wretched Buzzcocks gig last year. To be fair, though, the sound this time was great, and the set not half bad. They galloped through a routine that included a few too many new songs, but was also dotted with a lot of rousing old favourites, including Love Song, Neat, Neat, Neat, Smash It Up and this….

(OK, not quite like that…)

Ear drum happily in tact, the only indignity suffered was courtesy of a friend’s pint, when an aging punk careened wildly out of the mosh pit and into our group. A modest sort of battle scar to be sure…

I’ll soon be with you, and we’ll know how it feels

Time for another one of these methinks…

Lucky Seven 10

I put this together a week ago and I seem to remember having to scratch around a bit. Though listening to it now, I can’t for the life of me think why. If I say so myself, there’s some belters here.

Particularly enjoying listening to Parachutes again – I was a big Pretty Things fan at one stage, although this record passed me by…

Lucky Seven 10

Brighter Day – Pinch ft. Juakali
Microcastle – Deerhunter
Having a Party – Lee Perry
Novocaine – Richmond Fontaine
Who do you love – Ted Leo & the Pharmacists
Summer Time – The Pretty Things
Tokyo – The Books