Friday, 18 April 2014

A new companion site to this blog

I have for sometime been considering if a blog is the right way to proceed with what I had intended for this aspect of my on-line writing.

In the beginning, it was to be about my songwriting and songs, perhaps with a nod towards my other interests in music. As it turns out it has become more of a reminiscence of the groups I loved when I was growing up, especially The Shadows of course.

As it has become clear that I now think in terms of poetry and other forms of creative writing rather than lyric/songwriting, I think the time is right to think about a static web-site to cover the early part of my life and my musical interests. This will not I think change dramatically in the near future, so it seems more appropriate than a blog. I have today published such a website, which will allow me to develop this blog as a way of remembering the sixties music which I remember with more than a little fondness.

You can see the new web-site now. Although it will expand a little as I record more of my older material (and perhaps even new material) or change as I make better recordings than I have available at present, It will stay essentially as a record of where I am now.

As for the songwriting, there are two articles on Squidoo which contain the essential information that I have to offer. There are many more song-writing blogs which can be accessed which are kept up to date in a way which I now find difficult. The two articles are:-

I hope you will find these article useful sources of information.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Do You Remember The Searchers?

!963 saw The Searchers burst on to the UK pop scene with their first single, "Sweets For My Sweet". By the end of 1964 I had more albums by them than by The Beatles, a group some of you may remember hailed from Liverpool, UK. Which by coincidence was also the home town of The Searchers. They also played in Hamburg and gave the Beatles a run for their money.

Hear that first single on a live TV show from 1963

You can read more about this great group on their official web site, the line-up, like alll groups has changed from the original but the John Mcnally (lead guitar and vocals) is still showing how its done. If you want an unbiased run down of their history then you can always use the Wikipedia article on the band which contains largely the same information but perhaps more clearly displayed.

Another more modern version of one of their 1964 hits, When You Walk In The Room, it always was a favourite of mine:


Unfortunately, the sound tends to fade irregularly thru' the video but the music is there. From either of these videos you can of course  find many others on You tube.

I still feel the sixties was the most innovative decade for pop music, what do you think?

Friday, 21 March 2014

Bruce Welch - Vocalist

I write often and with feeling about The Shadows; usually with Hank Marvin in the lead position because they were a guitar instrumental group and Hank was their lead guitarist. However, they did record and perform many vocal numbers. At these times Bruce often came into his own. Although both he and Hank sang some great harmonies reminiscent of The Everly Brothers in the early years; and later on in the MW&F days they were much more performing in a US West Coast Style.

In this post I want to feature Bruce and his vocal performances. I don't think this song from a live performance circa 2000 was ever recorded, but I know I love the song.

This next clip is Bruce's only solo single. Another brilliant song and performance:


Mind you, I always preferred this number which was the "B" side to the single:


 Well I will leave it there for now, but if you are curious, try searching for Bruce Welch on You Tube; you may be surprised.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

50 years ago, The Shadows singles

At the start of 1964, The Shadows released "Theme For Young Lovers" written by Bruce Welsh. Around this time the effect of the rise in the new beat groups and the Liverpool sound was being felt and unfortunately as a single it only reached #12 in the UK charts. A good spot, but not quite up to the heights which The Shadows were accustomed to.

This is a live version from The Shads on their final Tour before packing their guitars away, metaphorocally speaking of course.

In order to try and raise their game their next single was a more up-tempo, slightly jazzy piece; The Rise And Fall Of Flingle Bunt. It reached #5 in the UK. Here, again from the Final Tour.

There followed two more singles in 1964, Rythm and Greens (highest spot #22) from the short feature film of the same name, and Genie with the light brown lamp from thie palladium pantomine (also starring their vocalist, Cliff Richard) (highest position #17.

Read more about the Shadows and Hank Marvin on my article, Hank Marvin, The Shadows and Beyond

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Four Useful Ukelele Strums

So here we are again talking Ukele's.

I seem to have hit a hiatus with my learning to play this fine instrument, but then I have not had a great deal of time for music or anything else. Where does the time go? But one thing I have noticed is that I am using strumming patterns and finger picking almmost as if I was playing my guitar. I have not put much emphasis on this aspect. I have been learning chord shapes and practicing different positions and changing from one shape to another but ba d me, not giving much though to those patterns.

Of course most strum patterns will work for any instrument, I guess, but I still feel that I need to get down to the nitty-gritty here and have started looking for ways of taking this forward. Now I am not very good at counting. When I play I feel a beat and let myself get lost in it. So how do I learn new patterns. The easiest way is via Youtube of course! This is one which very simply and succinctly shows four simple 4/4 patterns. You just play along.

I will be looking at some of the stuff I have been posting on YouTube and SoundCloud to see if I can get it to sound better with a more strict pattern. Maybe not but if I ever want to play with another uke player we might well need to agree on what we are going to play.

In the meantime, check out my uke tracks on SoundCloud vis my previous post.

Thanks for visiting see y'all soon!

Saturday, 15 February 2014

The Savage from The Shadows - Pop Guitar History

I was idly listening to my record collection, most of it on MP3 these days so I get to hear the classical oldies quite frequently, and I was struck by how good the early Shadows guitar instumental really were. Now I have not mentiuoned them for a while so thought it was time that I did a post on my all-time favourite guitar band again.

For starters, here is a classic rendition of Man Of Mystery, boy that tuneful yet masterly rocking guitar work by Hank makes my spine tingle. Of course, you musr remember this is a live performance from 1980 and so sounds just a little aged.


The difference between this and the much later version of the Stranger is so marked and says a lot about the development of the rigs and sound systems over the years. 


If you want more by this great combo, why not browse over to my tribute article to Hank Marvin, or alternatively a similar article for Bruce Welch. Lots to read, see and listen to.

Even if you think you know The Shadow's story, you could find something to surprise you.

More Shadow's stuff next time, I probably wouldn't have learnt to play if it hadn't been for them. Even now Apache still knocks me out, what about you.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Billy Fury and Tribute Acts

The tribute acts for Billy Fury always seem to do well, he has many great songs and is fondly remembered by people of a certain age.

I will be going to see one of these acts in May, The Billy Fury Years, and of course this brings back many happy memories, so I listened to a few videos whilst working on the PC this morning, perhaps you would like to share a couple.

Ah me, such happy times. the world seemed to be a Wondrous Place - and that seems like a cue for another song. But you will have to find that one yourselves.