Did you know I am a dancer?

Sweet-Baboo-Lets-Go-Swimming-Wild-by-Casey-RaymondI’ll tell you something, the Prince Albert in Rodborough, just outside Stroud. is a cracking little pub. More than one of a happy band of four of us commented wistfully on what it would be like to have a place like this on your doorstep…

Sweet Baboo

We’d ventured out on a school night to see Welsh singer, songwriter and serial guest-spotter, Stephen Black aka Sweet Baboo doing his own thing, and promoting his new record, Ships. I’ve written about Sweet Baboo before, seen him do a couple of guest spots with Gruff Rhys and seen him play bass with both Cate le Bon and H Hawkline, but this is the first time I’ve seen him take centre stage himself.

He’s an unassuming chap, for sure, small, chubby and regrettably not wearing the shirt, face paint or cats ears from the cover of Ships. In fact, he looked a little nervous as he stepped onto the Prince Albert’s tiny stage to set up the equipment with his two band mates. Once on stage though, any awkwardness emerged only in his sharp, sometimes brittle, lyrics. Instead, the three of them were confident, friendly and occasionally boisterous and gave us a really enjoyable, likeable set.

I enjoy the way Baboo delivers his songs, all uncertainty and self-deprecating humour, whilst at the same time bouncing his way through a series of loping, exuberant rhythms. At one point, one of the bar staff got a message through to the band that the landlord and had agreed to stand them each a drink every time Baboo mentioned tequila in his songs. No second invitation needed.

He played a couple of songs from the I’m a Dancer release, but most of the evening was devoted to the new record. I bought it afterwards and have been playing it since in the car, and a feature of it is the brass arrangements that frame most of the songs. Obviously the three of them couldn’t replicate that sound, but to be honest I rather preferred the simpler arrangements of the evening to those of the record.

A lovely occasion all round – charming band, charming songs, charming venue.

Simple, really…

The Morse Code for Love

I’m a Dancer

Cate’s Song

Shelter Song – Temples

Been listening to this track from the Mojo Psych cd all week. Seems particularly apt, in the midst of the Freakbeat frenzy I Was experiencing a few weeks ago

Could be straight out of the Perfumed Garden records, but apparently not. Looking forward to hearing a bit from these chaps…



Won’t You Come Out To Play?

_DSC4249I’ll admit I hadn’t given a lot of thought to Friday night’s Pere Ubu gig in Bristol, and to be honest I’m not sure I would have had particularly high expectations if I had done.

The new record’s a good ‘un, for sure, although it’s one that’s an interesting listen rather than something I’m going to love for years to come. I’d also heard a bit of more recent stuff and can’t say I was particularly grabbed by it. (There was also an uncomfortable incident at Green Man a couple of years back when myself and Coleser had attempted to sneak out early from a book-reading David Thomas was giving and found ourselves berated by an angry, old man from the stage. (In truth, “off the wall” would be a generous description of his prose style – “crap” would be a less forgiving one. An abiding memory of the incident was the “take me with you” looks other audience members were giving us as we slunk off…)

Pere Ubu

But anyway, here I was again, sipping a Guinness, standing around considering the increasingly down-at-heel surrounds of Thekla, when the big feller traipsed on stage with a clipboard and a pint glass of red wine, with a dubious old-man chic about him, dressed as he was in dumpy trousers, a stained checked shirt, braces and for a while a bright red beret.

He introduced himself uncertainly and started off on an unpromising ramble about the real world and our dreamings. But as soon as his band kicked in, everything was different. I’m not sure who the personnel was (by the end of this piece I’ll go to the trouble to look them up – they deserve it), but I’m pretty sure there are no other original members of Pere Ubu still standing.

Tough, awkward and at times pleasantly aggressive, they trotted purposefully through most of “Lady from Shanghai”, enthusiastically supported by an earnest, if slightly irritating guy whose job it was to muddy the musical waters and wave his arms around a theremin – indeed I don’t think I’ve ever seen as much theremin action in one evening. Images of Blake’s Seven and Doctor Who spring to mind…

After a shaky start, Thomas himself came across as witty, self-deprecating and even amiable as he worked his new material around a few older songs that sounded as good as ever.

It was a great set, far outstripping the ill at ease, difficult evening I might’ve been expecting. To make the evening perfect, he would’ve had to include Chinese Radiation, which would’ve rolled the years back to a callow youth making his first purchase at Gloucester’s long gone (and little-lamented) Backstage Pass. But you can’t have everything, and an evening of tough, knowing post, post-punk was more than enough for this old soak…. First class.


Musicians Are Scum

Modern Dance

Oh, and the band…Keith Moline – guitar; Michele Temple – bass;  Robert Wheeler – keyboard; Steve Mehlman – drums, and Gagarin (effects)

Very good they were too…

¡Hey! ¡Tu! !Te puedes largar!

georgebestsombrero1966_275x155Just back from spending time in Spain. Had a fabulous stay (food, drink, trains, sights)  and have well and truly got the Spanish bug… I will no doubt be a bit of a Spain Bore over the next few weeks. I apologise in advance for any sentences that begin “When we were in Spain…” or “Of course, in Spain…” (and you have permission to thump me, if I stray…)

Against my expectations, I found a whole lot of really excellent record shops in Madrid and Seville, particularly, and spent a disproportionate amount of money on Spanish psychedelia and Freakbeat, which is where Sonia comes in…

Gotta love it…