Showing posts with label Magazine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Magazine. Show all posts

Friday, 9 January 2009

Shameless name-dropping

I fell off the Manchester book award today. And after all my recent reminiscing about Manchester too! I had been on the longlist, but did not make the shortlist. Ah well. It was nice while it lasted.

Manchester has indeed been on my mind in the last few days. My email conversation with Helen Chase prompted me to Google a couple of people and I found my old friend Jim Parris. Jim was the bass player and musical heart of the band I was in - the one that never played. It was called Theramin. My old friend, former house-mate, studio-mate and fellow illustrator, Alan Adler, was on drums.

And what a fantastic name Jim Parris is, by the way. It sounds like someone Jack Kerouac would have hung out with.

Jim was - and is - a hugely talented musician. He was (and I'm sure still is) very good-looking and cool: everything I was not (and why am I saying 'was' there?). It must have been very frustrating to be in a band with people like me who could barely play a chord without help, though he never showed it if it was. Jim went on to form another band, called Bee Vamp in 1978. John Peel liked them I think. I was very jealous.

Alan also played drums in a band called The Thunderboys when he and the effervescent Carmel McCourt and I all shared a house. Most of the people in the house were in the band (not me though). Carmel was a painting student who, if memory serves, did spot paintings years before Damien Hirst. Carmel McCourt's not a bad name either is it?

Carmel guested on vocals for Bee Vamp and later the band Carmel emerged, with the lovely Carmel on vocals, Jim on bass and Jim's cousin Gerry on percussion. They had a couple of proper hit singles. They were on TV. I was very, very jealous.

After a couple of emails to Jim, Carmel herself got in touch. It was great to hear from her and to hear her news. She is appearing in a play called Song of Songs. I hope I get to see it. I'll give you the dates and venues when I've looked at the email again.

My link with music went in another direction. The other founder of Theramin was Paul Ablett who sang and played sax - or would have had we ever performed. He auditioned me by asking me to play along with James White and the Black's Contort Yourself.

Paul also used to write music reviews for the Student Union newspaper - Pulp. He asked me to illustrate them and those drawings were my first real illustration commissions.

I left Manchester in 1980 and went to London, sharing a house in Palmer's Green and a studio opposite the British Museum with Alan Adler (who was still playing the drums). The Pulp pictures and some paintings of rock stars I did in my final year - Howard Devoto of Magazine among them - got me a job at Record Mirror drawing caricatures of pop stars for the letters page. A job that lasted for five long years. I don't think I ever drew Carmel, but I certainly drew Mick Hucknall of Simply Red who was in her year (the one below mine) at the art college in Manchester.

I had very little interest in the 80s pop scene and I probably did not put my all into those drawings of Bananarama and Haircut 100, looking back. And Boy George stills owes me £200 for a drawing I did for his fan club. My guess is that I'm probably not going to get that back now, am I Mr O'Dowd?

Thursday, 8 January 2009

We are on. . .

Apologies to anyone who took my advice and downloaded I Love You You Big Dummy and whacked up the volume and was in any way appalled by Howard Devoto blurting out the f word. I'd forgotten about that. Hey - that was the seventies! But it's great though, isn't it? And while you are downloading things download The Stooges No Fun to hear Iggy Pop before he was an insurance salesman.

Peter Kirkham got in contact to say that he had heard John Lydon aka Johnny Rotten was now a property developer. After a little Googling I have to say that however unlikely this seemed it does appear to be the case. He also appears to want to break into TV. Presenting Property Ladder would be perfect wouldn't it? Altogether now - Property in the UK. . . it's coming sometime - maybe. . .

My laptop went off to Dell for some tough love, as predicted.

Monday, 5 January 2009

I guess it's just a wave of nostalgia

For an age yet to come.

An old Buzzcocks song, if you're wondering. Actually, I rather like the Penetration version as well.

But there we are. Having said I dislike nostalgia a couple of posts back, I have been indulging in some in the last few days. It started with a reminiscing session with Paul Grunfeld and the resulting post brought contact from Helen Chase who is writing a book about one of my favourite bands of the late seventies - Magazine.

So if any of the old Manchester crowd reads this and happens to have any photos or memorabilia from that time, then get in touch and I'll pass it on to Helen - or go directly to her (her email is in her comment posted a few posts back). And if you don't know Magazine's music, then go and download I Love You You Big Dummy or The Light Pours Out of Me or Give Me Everything and whack the volume up.

Helen was asking me what my impression of Manchester was in those pre-New Order days and it brought back a lot of memories, good and bad - but that has as much to do with my age and my character as the place or the music scene. Having said that, one of my great regrets is not performing in a band. I was in a band for a short time (and had a white Les Paul copy guitar with perspex knobs on) but we never actually played (and sadly that is a vital part of the definition of a band). Ah - how different the world might have been if we had.

Or not.

But I always hated people older than me banging on about the sixties and how fantastic it was, and I was always determined that I would not be the same about the seventies, however much I enjoyed myself at the time.

And as for people who are nostalgic about the eighties - well, words fail me.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

I wanna destroy passers by. . .

We went to a party at Joad Raymond's house yesterday. I have never really got the knack of parties. I always mean to mingle, but I rarely do. I seem to end up with someone I already know and talk to them over the surrounding noise until I am hoarse. So it was, pretty much, this time.

I had a long chat to my friend Paul Grunfeld who at one point told me how he used to be a punk, the image of which I have struggled to get out of my head ever since. Paul must have been the most charming, well-spoken and polite punk in the land! But it did get me thinking about my time at college in the late seventies. . .

I was at Manchester between 1976 and 1980. Punk took off as I arrived, but I struggle to think of many 'punks' at the art college apart from maybe the artist and musician Linder who was a couple of years ahead of me doing Graphic Design and going out with Howard Devoto of the Buzzocks and then Magazine (a favourite band of mine).

I suppose the problem is that punk has come to mean something different. If you say 'punk' to someone now, they see one of those sad King's Road types with their spiked crest and piercings, but punk was never that clear a style. Being a punk was not like being a skinhead or a teddy boy: there was no dress code. It was supposed to anarchic for goodness sake. If you look at a photograph of a punk gig from the time, you will struggle to find anyone who looks like a 'punk'. Punk was as much an attitude as anything else.

Punk was also, to my mind, a very young and suburban kind of a thing. I already felt too old at 19/20. In any case I remember finding the music faintly ridiculous on first hearing, though that changed quite quickly. But I think I was always more interested in American bands like Television and Patti Smith and Richard Hell than I was with The Vibrators or The Adverts (though I saw the Clash and the Buzzcocks and many, many others, many, many times). I still get a buzz out of hearing the odd blast from that era but I hate nostalgia. It's lazy and dishonest.

Punk was too visceral and raw to ever be widely popular and even those who took part got tired of its limitations. I can remember watching Magazine walk off twice because people were spitting at them - a shower of spittle being the equivalent to a standing ovation in 1978). As far as they were concerned punk was over and they wanted to move on. And so did we all, really. Spitting is not a very accurate form of applause and I liked to be near the front.

The punks I knew that used to hang out at the Student's Union bar in Manchester and come to the gigs there and at the other small venues like Rafters or the Russell Club, were not art students at all. Most art students I knew were very, very straight and conservative, whatever the caricature of them being wild and crazy might be. Soul and disco, reggae and funk music were a much bigger deal to most art students I knew in the late seventies and you were much more likely to hear Bob Marley or Funkadelic on someone's record player (you may need to Google this term if you are under 40) than the Clash.