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  • Here's what Brick has to say about 'XIXIIXIII' by Gaffa

    John Stuart Clark, known as Brick, is as qualified as anyone to have an opinion on Gaffa. So here it is:

    'XIXIIXIII'

    Gaffa  - 2014 – ‘N’ Product

     

     

    The great thing about rockers who didn’t die before they got old is that they improve like peat-infused Islay malts. They become earthier, expressing the confidence of knowing who they are and why they’re still gigging, but now blissfully disinterested in making their mark atop the midden heap that is the music business. They might not be down with the kids, as far as the kids are concerned but, man, can they play and have they got something to say.

     

    This is the 21st Century Gaffa, with Simon Bowhill more than deftly replacing Mick Barratt on drums, and augmented by Richard Kensington (from Mas Y Mas) on percussion, and XIXIIXIII is Gaffa in melancholic mood, taking a swipe at the mediocrity currently seeping into our bones like rogue nuclear waste. It is bitter and twisted, but self-deprecating and strangely uplifting in nailing the perennial whinges. Jeysus, who in long trousers isn’t tired of everything!?

     

    ‘Rocking Science’ takes a pop at technology driven perceptions of creativity as defined by the ADHD FaceAche generation that defines itself through the accumulation of apps, corporate gizmos and being out there in virtual La-la Land, harvesting ‘friends’. For those in the know, there’s a nice lyrical put-down of the singer songwriter by the man himself on bass, but it’s the scything lead guitar that puts the boot into the sour grapes and elevates the number high above a sanctimonious dirge.

     

    Sounding a tad like something a white Bob Marley might pen then hand over to Carlos Santana to orchestrate, ‘Dark Town’ is the underbelly of ‘Hollow City’ off the album Neither Use Nor Ornament. Laced with vocal harmonies and featuring a beautifully understated layering of six-string guitars from Maslen and Smith, the song is Gaffa’s journey into the dark heart of every townie’s urban nightmare.

     

    Track three begins in the vein of a C&W sob at being on the road too long then mutates into the metaphor made real. ‘When You Get Tired Of Everything’ is the sort of social reality lament that maybe only Gaffa in their mature years could pull off without sounding finger-in-the-ear corny. It’s a beautiful piece, finely poised metres short of slush, more Beethoven’s 7th than Tchaikovsky’s 6th, if that means owt to y’all.

     

    With ‘New Love For Old’ we are back to pedigree Gaffa of yesteryear. Quirky, uncomfortable and lyrically witty with some magnificent yet subdued guitar strains working away in the engine room before climbing up to the bridge and, four minutes in, turning Sun Ra on us. Manfully held on the leash by Bowhill and Kingston, Gaffa goes post Be Bop with a free-form coda that kinda says, “Fuck it, we’re having fun even if you a’n’t”, which pretty much sums up the EP.

     

    You’re not going to break into a sweat bopping to this latest release from the men who refused to die, but you’ll definite stroke your chin and mutter, “Know where y’coming from, lads.” Unlike the re-released album, this isn’t raw and rebellious. It’s mature and full of tonal flavours that slowly emerge the longer you let it roll it round your sound box, much like the taste of that cask-aged malt in your mouth.

    John Stuart Clark

  • Review of Neither Use Nor Ornament remaster

    This was given to us by the politcal cartoonist and writer John Stuart Clark aka Brick. He used to help Gaffa in the old days with driving and shifting gear so he's heard it all... 

    Neither Use Nor Ornament

    Gaffa – 1978/2014 – ‘N’ Product

     In 1978, I slipped out of a sleeve crackling with static the most eagerly awaited seven inches of vinyl ever to cross the threshold of my collection. Every now and again since, I’ve repeated the ritual and wished the music into my ears, the music I knew so well from years of following the band round the country and genuflecting every Thursday night at the Imperial Hotel, Nottingham. I dunno, maybe I hoped some kind of osmosis had occurred during its intervening sojourn on my shelves sandwiched between Peter Gabriel and Marvin Gaye. Each time I heard what I heard when the tracks first dribbled from my speakers. My disappointment then was crushing, but my expectation was for a contract and many more releases that would promote the travesty to a valuable collector’s item. It didn’t happen, which made each subsequent play heartbreaking.

     

    Quite simply, somebody in a sound booth somewhere in Berwick Street had forgotten to wheel the band into the studio. They were banging it out in an oil drum two streets away, accidentally picked up by a spare mic that happened to be pointing at a chink in the studio’s soundproofing. There was nothing wrong with the material or running order, but the producer, engineer, cleaner, somebody had totally failed to understand the second most important selling point of Gaffa. After the inspired and witty songs, the sheer power and intelligence of the music was what made this combo a compelling listen.

     

    Thirty-six years later, I approached the digital re-release with trepidation but commitment. I dug out my CD Walkman, traipsed up to Dorket Head (from where most of Nottingham can be seen), and pressed play. It is possible my whoops of joy registered in Mansfield, but I’m certain I saw little speech balloons of ‘Wow!’ pop up and burst above flats and houses across the city. I have no idea what re-mastering does. I know the master tapes were not remix for this re-release, simply because the band of the Seventies didn’t have the readies to buy them from the studio. Whatever magic the lads and KJAMM have worked, the fireball from their wand hit me like a dum-dum from a sonic carbine.

     

    The rebel yell of ‘Throw Me to the Christians’ was the prayer answered but it was the driving bass and subsequent six-string interplay of Maslen and Smith on ‘Hollow City’ that confirmed I was now in possession of the album we all wanted of Neither Use Nor Ornament. At a time when you needed to play a bit of this band and a bit of that to achieve an evening’s aural satisfaction, Gaffa were the whole deal. Wry, incisive lyrics, melodies that could be sweet as sour, tight arrangements that revelled in throwing curve balls, ebb and flow and cross rhythms, faultless musicianship - lose any one of those components and you have the vinyl version of this now pulsating album.

     

    Music press critics of yesteryear criticised lyricist Evans for over-burdening the songs with tongue-twisting wordplay. This new pressing confirms that every syllable rings clear as a bell and that the scullery stories he weaves in numbers like ‘I Wish I was A Cartoon’, ‘Go On Then Jump’ and the pathos-drenched ‘OAP Sightings’ suck the listener into compelling narratives about characters we can all recognise, empathise with and embellish upon. What lassie hasn’t been where ‘Baby Sitting’ takes gals, for example, and what lad hasn’t felt the stingingly staccato rejection of ‘X Marks the Spot’?

     

    Possible most surprising about this rejuvenated opus is what’s revealed about the band’s liberal purloining of styles and phrasings. As eclectic as The Clash in their choice of genres, the obvious parodies of ‘Lucky Lighter’ and ‘The First Teenager On The Moon’ are good fun, but try playing ‘Rotten Role Doormat’ on repeat, logging the guitar homages. Time and again on Ornament you can hear musical brains whirling through pop, blues and jazz back catalogues, searching for and finding just the right one-bar fillip or bull’s eye riff that lifts that verse another notch higher.

     

    Which isn’t to say Gaffa are derivative. If anything, at the time, they were a tad too original for ears listening out for punk rants. Yup, you could beat y’head against a wall to them, but they were always a band that demanded listening to. They were uncomfortable, unsettling, and the selection of songs on this album illustrates how challenging their work could be. Familiarity of course breeds warm delight and, as with their live show, they know just when to shepherd in something from Jollity Farm. If only ‘Hot Doggin’’ had made it into the pens.

     

    Oddly enough, highlights for me this time around are the two guest spots where Maslen and Barratt take lead vocals on, respectively, the Jerry Lee Lewis-inspired ‘Trackless’ (check the guitar on the final verse!) and the sweet talking blues of ‘Some Are In Suits’. Having played vinyl and CD concurrently, switching between the two inputs through these tracks, it is astonishing how their voices have been animated on the new pressing. Suddenly they are forthright and character-laden additions to the vocal breadth of the band.

     

    From the ginnel brawl of ‘Back to Villany’, it is a logical move to press replay and find y’sen being thrown to the Christians once again, such is the cyclical design of Ornament. Between those brackets, Gaffa has finally provided us oldies with the album we always wanted, while at the same time injecting the juice of youth into 13 tracks that seem as pertinent today as when first released, so many birthdays ago. And thankfully, in digitalising the opus, the lads haven’t sanitised the sound. Ornament remains excitingly raw, vibrant and expressive of everything that was vital about down-home garage bands of the late Seventies.

     

    John Stuart Clark

     

     

  • The Trent Navigation 16th November 2013

    The Trent Navigation 16th November 2013

    Can you spot what/ who is missing from the picture above? The lack of a double bass and the soaring backing vocals of Wayne D. Evans didn't peturb The Last Pedestrians as they played at the Trent Navigation on Meadow Lane in Nottingham last night. Despite being a man down the lads put on a great show with a slightly more skeletal sound than normal. Harry, Phil, Beano and Rich each had to work exactly 5% harder to compensate for the lack of a big fat cushion of bass and Wayne's energy and drive. The result was that everyone got stuck in and new sounds bubbled up in the gaps and spaces. The audience all enjoyed themselves and it was heard said that '...the truth is that Harry's songs are so good that even if he'd turned up on his own with a guitar the night would still have been electrifying...'

    Thanks to Hugh Miller for coming down with his cameras and taking some fantastic shots of the band. Check out Hugh's web site and see some awesome pictures! 

    Don't worry... Wayne will be back at his station very soon. Everyone deserves a holiday once in a while!

    The full band will be appearing again at The Navigation on Wilford Street, Nottingham at 7.30pm on 1st December 2013.

  • The Last Pedestrians Shoot - 'Not Dead Yet'

    The Last Pedestrians Shoot - 'Not Dead Yet'

    On Sunday 9th November 2013 we shot a video for 'Not Dead Yet'. Directed by Sarah Doyle, the video tells the story of Harry's decent into hell, lured and cajoled by the 7 deadly sins... Greed, Pride, Lust, Envy, Gluttony, Wrath and Sloth. Find out if the devil got him in the end by keeping your eye on the Yeti Boy Records web site...

    In the photo above Wayne can be seen communicating with Harry on the other side through a genuine "two-worlds" aluminium trumpet made by Two Worlds Publishing. Originally priced at 7/6. 

    Beano, Wayne and The Rev. Phil Jackson

  • An interview with Harry Stephenson

    Sue Roberts regulalry comes to watch The Last Pedestrians. Sue is currently engaged in researching how moving home regulalry as a child impacts on us as adults. Below is a copy of an interview that Sue did with Harry Stephenson from The Last Pedestrians that sheds a light on the genesis of Harry's career as a songwriter. 


    Why did you move around as a child?

    My Dad was in the army in Burma in the 2nd World War. He was based in India which he loved. After the war when he was demobbed, he got a job with Lipton’s Tea, at first in Calcutta, then Madras and finally Bombay- hence the family moves.

    Where were you born?

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    I was born in Ripon, Yorkshire in 1948.

    What is your earliest memory and where were you?

    When I was three my Mum and I were travelling by ship from England to rejoin my Dad in India. I remember going through the Suez canal. (Camels!!)

    How many times did you move?

    3 times. From England to Calcutta. Calcutta to Madras. India back to England. ( This last was to attend school.)

    How old were you when your family stopped moving around?

    8

    If you close your eyes to picture your family home, which one comes to mind first?

    I can remember the first place we lived in Calcutta. It was a flat in an apartment block.

    Where did you spend your most memorable Christmas?

    At my mother’s parents in Meanwood Leeds. we were on leave from India. I lost control of my trike and ran down hill and crashed into a lampost. It was outside some shops. I remember the grocer putting some butter (!) on a huge lump on my forehead. I think this was 1954.

    Did you or any other family member ever say they were unhappy about the moves at the time?

    No, I was never unhappy about moving. In fact I loved it, it was always exciting. I think Mum used to grumble at Dad but not very convincingly. She loved being in India, servants and parties!!

    What are the advantages of regularly moving houses and schools ?

    As the above answer. New situations were vivid and exciting.

    What are the disadvantages?

    For me there were no disadvantages. I think Mum missed her family and friends back home. She was always writing letters and receiving them.

    Were you the first generation of your family to be so mobile?

    I think we were. Both sides of the family had always lived in the Leeds- Bradford area.

    Have your work or life choices been influenced in any way by your mobile upbringing?

    Absolutely huge influence on me being the person I am, I think. I was 8 when I left to go to school in Ripon, England, so a lot of my personality was formed by things I saw and did in India. We lived a privileged life, but Dad used to take me on his trips to visit tea plantations in the hills and I saw a lot of the grim realities of life for the poor and dispossessed. I think the exotic lifestyle in a basically impoverished country and all the images that contrasted this for me, helped me use my imagination from quite an early age, so that I could say that I wouldn’t have written any songs if I hadn’t lived in India!

    What did you leave behind?

    My childhood. Because Dad decided I was to be educated in England I returned to boarding school. I didn’t see my Mum, Dad and sister for about 18months. I lived with my Auntie Molly and her family, but it wasn’t the same.

    What advice would you give your young self if you could?

    No advice to my younger self. The future isn’t what it used to be! —————————————————–

    And....if you haven’t come across Harry’s music before; try soulful Rolling Train from the CD Near Life Experience and the subversive Nightingale Square and Holy Grail; Harry’s funny/poignant song about communist leaders from Life Begins on Wednesday


  • Rich and Famous make the video for 'Land of Plenty'...

    Having played regularly at The Nottingham Contemporary for years with Mas Y Mas Rikki, Rich and Wayne have ended up driving down Popham Street off Cliff Road in Nottingham loads of times. There is an old engineering building down there with an awesome door that was the inspiration for the location of this video. Popham Street is not the Land of Plenty and with the way that things are going less and less places are any more. 

    In actual fact people still work in this building and they put up with us singing and playing outside their front door for a couple of hours without a word of complaint. We even got a round of applause from a guy in the garage across the street! 

    The video shoot actually took place as an after thought. Phil Jackson volunteered to take some photos of the duo and while that was happening Rich set up his cameras and got to it. Many thanks to Phil Jackson who took a load of photos and did a lot of starting and stopping of video cameras! 

  • Beginner's Luck soon to be available

    Beginner's Luck soon to be available

    I've spent all morning sorting out distribution for 'Beginner's Luck' by Rich & Famous. This is actually the first album that  Wayne and I recorded together and the first album that I completely engineered myself. It was recorded back in 2007 in a little studio that we built for Mas Y Mas in Daybrook, Nottingham. There was a shop that sold alloy wheel rims on the corner of the street called 'Wheel World' so the studio was named 'Wheel World Studios'. Apparently there is another studio with a similar name! 

    This album features a whole load of acoustic instruments. Wayne played his parlour guitar for most of the rhythm takes and then over dubbed slide parts and banjo lines. I played bodhran and then overdubbed some shakers, a cowbell, triangle and a few other bits. I got into playing the bodhran on my first tour of Ireland with Mas Y Mas back in 1998. I knew it'd come in handy!  This is an album of Wayne's songs stripped back. The words really come through and tell the story of the lunacy, injustice and weirdness of modern life. There is a lot of humor in the album too. 

    Although it was recorded in 2007 I never got any copies professionally manufactured as I'd never properly mastered the album. I'd made up some home made copies and these had all been sold so there was only one left. I decided to ask Robin from KJAMM.com to master it after the fantastic job he did on 'Songs of Price'. Sometimes things happen at the right time. I was really heartened by Robin's reaction to the tracks. He put in loads of time and made some key decisions to get it sounding as good as it does now. You can't teach that kind of thing - the man has got good ears. He christened Wayne 'A modern day prophet'!

    "Your car and your DVD make you feel tough but you're buried alive under too much stuff!"

    "The French have got a word for people like you but I'm not French so Twat'll 'ave to do."

    "Too many suffer at the hands of a few... we might have to swallow it but do we have to chew?"

  • The Axis Bata Round Britain Series Continues

    The Axis Bata Round Britain Series Continues

    The Axis Percussion Trio continue to take the music of The Orishas to various locations around the UK that have a connection to the Orishas. Orishas are the personifcations of the natural forces and energies that impact on our lives.

    The toque that the trio has most recently filmed is for Babaluaye, the orisha syncretised with San Lazaro. Babaluaye is the orisha that is venerated in the hope of being cured from disease. The trio journeyed to Burton Lazars in Leicestershire where there exists the earth work remains of an old leper hospital dedicated to Saint Lazarus. Two toques for Babaluaye were filmed here. These should be available to view before Christmas. 

  • The Axis Percussion Workshop Series

    The Axis Percussion Workshop Series

    The Axis Percussion Trio have started a monthly Cuban Percussion workshop. On the first Sunday of each month a group of percussionists get together at Rubber Biscuit Studios in Nottingham to study aspects of the percussion traditions from Cuba with Rich, Simon and Dave from The Axis.

    The sessions started in October with a look at Iyesa arranged for congas and then moved onto Cuban carnival rhythms from Guantanamo in Oriente (Eastern Cuba). Any percussionists interested in getting involved in learning congas and their associated music should contact The Axis on Facebook.

  • Get your kit up! Gaffa - 16th June 2012

    Get your kit up! Gaffa - 16th June 2012

    Simon Bowhill and Richard Kensington joined Clive, Wayne and John for the third Gaffa gig since the early 80's on Saturday night. Simon's solid groove was added to by Richard's rapidly expanding percussion set up. It was a great gig and word from the audience was that it was "a solid and well balanced sound with a hell of a groove". 

    Watch this space for some video of the gig. 

  • First of the monthly resident Last Pedestrian's gigs at The Navigation on Wilford Street, Nottingham

    First of the monthly resident Last Pedestrian's gigs at The Navigation on Wilford Street, Nottingham

    Last night was the first of the monthly residencency gigs that the Last Pedestrians will be playing at The Navigation . The gigs will be on the first Sunday of every month and will start at 7.30 pm. 

    There was a great crowd down last night so the residency got off to a really good start! Thanks to everyone who came down and we look forward to seeing you all at the next one! 

  • The Last Pedestrians Playing at The Organ Grinder on Alfreton Road

    The Last Pedestrians Playing at The Organ Grinder on Alfreton Road

    On Saturday 5th May 2012 The Last Pedestrians squashed into the Organ Grinder on Alfreton Road and played their hearts out for the assembled throng of beer swilling festival goers. The band went down really well and were mobbed at the end by people wanting business cards. We will get some business cards printed asap! 

    Thanks to everyone who came and supported The Last Pedestrians! 

  • Rich and Famous Duo live at The Hand and Heart

    Rich and Famous Duo live at The Hand and Heart

    On the 3rd of May 2012 Rich and Famous played their first duo gig in over two years. They were supporting Kidnap Alice who had come up to Nottingham on a UK tour. 

    Using only quiet acoustic instruments the pair got stuck in and made a good job of it! 

  • Harry Stephenson from The Last Pedestrians proudly accepts the award for Best Live Band at The Lion

    Harry Stephenson from The Last Pedestrians proudly accepts the award for Best Live Band at The Lion

    Tonight The Last Pedestrians received the award for Best Live Band at The Lion Oscars at The Lion on Mosley Street in Basford, Nottingham. There were some great bands nominated but The Last Pedestrians brought home the bacon beating off competition from the likes of Shades of Blue, Scotch Chocolate, Blue Yonder, Seven Little Sisters and many more. 

    Harry Stephenson (pictured above) received the award on behalf of the band remarking in his acceptance speech how grateful he was to all three people who had voted for the band and that he was glad that his time spent filling in multiple voting forms in different pens with different hand writing hadn't been wasted. He promised to throw the award at someone in the audience tomorrow night if people wanted to come to see The Last Pedestrians at The Lion to find out just why the band had won. 

    The award is well deserved as Harry and The Last Pedestrians have been playing drawing big crowds at the Lion for many years now. They had a Sunday night residency up until the end of 2011 when austerity measures were implemented and live music on a Sunday was replaced by a quiz about music. Cheaper but not as good! 

    The Last Pedestrians can be seen at The Lion, Mosley Street, Basford, Nottingham from 9.30 pm tomorrow Friday 24th February. 

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