SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Beggars’ Gate Where Once Giants Trod cd

WHERE ONCE GIANTS TROD     Beggars’ Gate

Firstly thank you to Cliff Wootton for providing me with this album for review at last Fridays SMART meet.

Beggars’ Gate are Pete Cornford (vocals/guitar), John Farebrother (guitar/guitar vibesware/Ebow/ambient sound), Steve Harland (keyboards, synth, vocals), Cliff Wootton (bass guitars) and Jules Blake (sound engineer) and the band are based around Tunbridge Wells. I’m sure some of you will know these guys, for those of you who don’t then I urge you to make their acquaintance through this album. I have no wish to try and place the music they make into any particular genre, they have been described as prog/folk/rock, which is I suppose fair, however there are so many other elements at work here, classical, tribal, celtic, ambient are just some of the additional adjectives I would choose to use. The 10 tracks take you on a journey where all the aforementioned elements appear and samples and Gregorian chants also make well placed appearances. The liner notes written by Pete (who I assume wrote all the lyrics) start thus ‘At risk of sounding old fashioned, this recording was always going to be a concept album’. Which sounds slightly apologetic, well let me say there’s nothing wrong with a ‘concept album’ in my book whether it be from the early 70’s or the uneasy world of 2017 we all inhabit. Clearly this is a deeply personal and heartfelt expression for us to take a look at our past and where we might be heading. The crashing waves, chants and tribal drumbeats that kick off the opening title track immediately evoke a feel of ancestry and transport you to a Tolkienesque world of open wild landscapes and create a cinematic image in your head, well they did in this head, then sliding perfectly into the gentler ‘Orkney Stone’ a paen to ancient stones, with some excellent guitar (surely some Floyd influences here) and some damn fine piano. The first of two ‘instrumental’ tracks follow ‘Insolitude’ with a simple haunting piano over natural birdsounds works beautifully as a lead in to the celtic vibe of ‘Banks of Lindisfarne’. ‘Now The Road Is Calling’ has some, for me, of the best lyrics on the whole album and a fine vocal. However lyrically ‘The Walls Of Separation’ essentially a anti war protest song takes first place. ‘Protest’ songs can often come across as shallow and trite (not intentionally), this is far from the case here where the words ring chillingly true and certainly hit their mark and had me returning to this track more than once, a very fine song indeed. The magnum opus of the album I think goes to the final track ‘Sanctuary Gates’ which closes the album in epic form building as it does to a crescendo that fully delivers, and I suspect the band themselves know that.

As I spend the vast majority of my time reviewing national and international artists its a pleasure to have something ‘local’. I wish Beggars’ Gate all the luck with this release  and getting it out there to the widest possible audience to enjoy.

Til next time………..Colin

Alan Esdaile… Sounds GREAT. I’m playing it at the moment and also heard Sarah Harvey play it on her show last night.

Tramps Disco Club Warrior Square. 1976/1977

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Pete Fairless…..I’m in shock! These belong in the museum, anyway. What a great bit of social history. Not one over eighteen, I’ll bet!

Joe Knight…..looking good Alan!!!!

Eve Neuke….How many nights did I spend there as a foreign 16-year-old student!

Jim Breeds….Whatever happened to Go-Go girls? 🙁 Gosh, Tramps. I didn’t go there very often but that’s another memory bank nudged.

Mick O’Dowd….They went! Always remember you playing Van McCoy’s The Hustle and I have never heard it sound better than at Tramps!

Jeanette Jones……Great memories:)

Peter Pursglove…..That was my last Venue with Paul Casson RIP , we used to pack them in there

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Andre Palfrey-martin collection

Andre Martin…..Just look what you could get for 40p – great value eh Alan ! from Hastings Observer Autumn 1977

Dawn Leaney… Loved Tramps! The 2 girls nearest the camera in the photo in the middle are Karen and Lynn and they were in my class at school at the time this was taken! We were about 15/ 16 ! 🙂 good times!

Leigh Wieland-Boys…  Completely forgotten about Tramps! Great photos, thanks for sharing .

Chris Giles… I used to go and I’d forgotten about Tramps.

Steph Drayton… Looks fab – wish they’d reopen it for us newbies – didn’t know there was even a hotel on Warrior square!

Robert Searle… Played there with Dave Easton in our group Easy Street.

Kevin Burchett… It was where the burnt out drs surgery was before they knocked it down and built the new building.

Julie Morris… Fab – and Steve Maxted was there too sometimes. I wonder if Steve still stabs his cheeks and drinks raw eggs! Maybe we should have a Tramps reunion with you both there Alan?!! Great venue.

Dawn Leaney… Used to talk about what we were wearing all week at school. . A new top from Chelsea Girl maybe? .. and then boogie all eve.. sometimes even walk home to Ore afterwards! 🙂

Jackie Hutt… Loved it…!

Tessa Howard/Leila…. had so much fun at Tramps

 

Curved Air – Pavilion Hailsham – Sat 4th November 2017

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Subject to contract exchange
Founding members Sonja Kristina and Florian Pilkington-Miksa are joined by Kit Morgan, Yehudi Menhuin-schooled violinist Paul Sax, Chris Harris and Robert Norton.
Curved Air was originally formed in 1969, a ground-breaking progressive art-rock band known for a unique and powerful combination of a remarkable female vocalist and virtuoso musicians.
Reformed in 2008 after a sabbatical of 18 years, Curved Air’s concert and festival appearances in the UK, Japan, Italy, Malta, Germany, Portugal, Holland and Belgium continue to thrill a steadily increasing mass of new and old fans. Their experimental blends of classical themes, electronic sounds and pop/rock energy and beautiful, timeless songs are performed with fire and passion.
The band is still fronted by Sonja Kristina, who topped the British Music Female Vocalist polls throughout the 1970s…..she has been the constant flame, leading Curved Air through the decades.  more information...http://www.spyboy.co.uk

Jan Warren… Back Street Luv!!

Pete Fisher… never got to see Police live, but saw Stewart Copeland in Curved Air in 1974…

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supplied by Pete Fisher

Jeanette Jones… Jones still talks about seeing Sonja performing in a cat suit 😉 He enjoyed the singing too! Sadly time passes, wish we could all do it again, mistakes & all 🙂 Cat suit days are sadly behind most of us now!

John Coleman… Wasn’t Sting in the original line up ?

Chris van Rock… Sting Don’t think so …. Sonja looks the same …

The Dekorators – around 1982

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supplied by Nastassja Kaschevsky

Chris Kimber, Nastassja Kaschevsky, Jeanette Saxby, Doug DuggyFresh Smith, Geoff Saxby.

Tony Ham….They used to play Ma Beeton’s in Rye, the only song I remember them doing though is Jilted John.

Hastings Local Band Photos….Yeah, many a gig in there….think it’s the Ghandi restaurant now!

Geoff Saxby…..The Dekorators broke the world record for non stop playing in January 1985 at Becketts Bar in Bexhill, Devonshire Road. 147 hours…

Tony Ham…..Does it still stand and did they play Jilted John?

Nastassja Kaschevsky….Dave Blackman stood in for me on drums……can’t find anything on the internet about it anywhere!

John Bownas… In reply to Richard Peet, Richard – did you ever reach Geoff? I have his e-mail address in Australia if you want it still. drop me a line john@hastingsflyer.com … by the way… they were all right handed (even the drummer despite the kit looking like it is set up for a left-hooker) … the photos have been reversed 🙂 The record still may stand as Geoff tells me it was dropped out of the Guinness categories while they held it…

 

The Midnight Shift 1973 – 1976 by Glynn Brown

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all photos and cuttings supplied by Glynn Brown

(1) Al Ryder, Glynn Brown, Chris Clayton, Gordon Turner at the Sun Lounge,  (4) Kevin & Glynn at the Bill Haley Concert, (6) Mark Brown playing the drums.

It was in 1973 that Ernie Townsend the Warden of Ore Community Centre introduced me to Alan Ryder, who liked to be called “Big Al”, as we both had similar interests in music. Together with Chris Clayton, a work mate of mine, we got to discussing how we could form a band to play the sort of music that we liked instead of that terrible 1970’s stuff. We practised with several other musicians before deciding on Gordon Turner who had once played with a local group called “The Chicago Boys”. Gordon was versatile in that he could play Lead, Rhythm or Bass guitar. Alan Ryder was born in Hastings, but his family moved to Birmingham before Alan came back to Hastings. Before the Midnight Shift he had played guitar with a group called “The Downbeats” and most recently with a Gospel Group. Chris Clayton had cousins in a local group and was destined to be our drummer having picked up the basics from his cousins. I was pretty hopeless as a musician but had a long history as a singer, even spending many years in Emmanuel Church Choir. Right up to our first public appearance we were still practicing with a number of musicians, which happened to be a Talent Contest at the Sun Lounge on Hastings seafront. It was Alan who decided that our final line-up was to be just us four. We came second in the Talent Contest losing out to some guy who sang the Paul Anka song “My Way” which had been made popular by Frank Sinatra.

Most of our equipment was second hand as we were all cash strapped in those days; our Bass guitar had been purchased from the local group “Town Council” with the amplifier being an old valve type one coupled to a speaker that we had purchased from a local Auction. Al Ryder had his own guitar and amplifier and speaker, Chris Clayton purchased some second hand drums which we did up to make them look smarter and our PA (Public Address) system was some speakers that I took out a loan for and an amplifier purchased from the local group “Grundy”. To pay for all this equipment we decided to make “Bootlace Ties” that we sold wherever we performed. The ties were made in plaster of paris moulds at my house using white-metal sourced from old car handles from Harry Eldridge’s car yard in Old Top Road. Harry often payed us money for taking cars from Old Top Road to his other yard in Three Oaks. All of the cars were destined to be wrecked and many were un-road-worthy which gave a few hair-raising moments when brakes failed etc. But we would do almost anything to raise money to pay for the equipment. Very soon we had regular bookings at the “New Broom” pub on the Broomsgrove Estate, the “Kings Head” pub in The Bourne and Shearbarn Farm Caravan Park, as well as a few bookings at the “Manor” pub in Manor Road and other pubs around the area. Early on we tried a piano in our line up but it proved too difficult to get to venues. The speaker for our Bass soon gave up the ghost and I managed to get a good replacement from Ernie Townsend of Ore Community Centre. Of course it had to be payed for, so we did a couple of gigs at the Round Table Youth Centre in Priory Road for Ernie, as well he asked me to teach Home Brewing at the Ore Community Centre. Well on the first week we had about forty people turn up to learn how to make home brewed beer, after they learnt that it takes five to six weeks to make a decent beer we only had four or five turn up the following weeks. All the beer went to support the Ore Centre’s Bar Billiards team that played in a local pub competition. One time when we were playing at the “Wishing Tree” pub in Hollington, Al Ryder had to replace a couple of strings on his guitar and to keep the audience happy, Jack “Soapy” Hudson, well into his late sixties who I worked with, got up and told jokes until we were ready to resume. It wasn’t long before we appeared in a local free newspaper “The Hastings News” which led to more bookings. As part of our act we included a Skiffle segment which went down well with audiences and included a washboard and tea chest bass.

When Bill Haley came to England we got together two carloads to travel to Margate where he was performing. I led the way in my car and arrived at the venue with plenty of time to spare and even had time to speak to the Comets as they arrived. Of the second car there wasn’t any sign, we even telephoned the Police in case they had had an accident on the way. We enjoyed the concert and Kevin, one of our roadies and I had our photo taken by the Margate “Isle of Thanet Gazette” and appeared with comments in their next edition. When we got back home we found out that the second car had broken down before Winchelsea, they limped back home and I found people sleeping all over my lounge room floor.

Little were we to know that storm clouds were on the horizon when Al Ryder left the group due to personal reasons.  We were joined by Gordon’s brother Chris Turner to keep the group going and then we became a five piece group with the addition of Brian Baker a lead guitarist who had played in other local groups. Chris Clayton broke his leg badly in a motorcycle accident and we had a replacement drummer called Tony to fill in whilst Chris was unable to play. We went along quite well for some time, even travelling to London to audition for a TV show, that was unsuccessful and I was fined for speeding in the hired van. We had a low spot when we played at the “Ponderosa” on the Isle of Wight. Unfortunately I had a severe cold and was croaking more than singing, also the stage curtains didn’t open too well and our PA speakers were hidden behind them muffling the sound.  Within a few weeks Brian wanted to go his own way and the Midnight Shift broke up. As we had a few gigs booked and not wanting to let anybody down, I had to pay local group “The Odd Socks” to fill in for us. Soon afterwards Al Ryder turned up on my doorstep wanting to reform the band, but I was severely out of pocket and I resisted at that time. However when Gordon and Chris came to see me, we did reform the band with a new member Dave from South Africa. We had about one hours practice before performing our first gig at Rock-A-Nore. The Midnight Shift then continued happily until I migrated with my family to Australia in April 1976

Paul Kilford… stuff like this is goldust. love it.

Alan Esdaile… Agree Paul. Glynn has done a great job of remembering the 70’s. Even if you do not know the band its well worth reading as lots of places and people in this that you might remember like Harry Eldridges car parts, Sun Lounge, Manor Pub, New Broom and loads more. Excellent.

Paul Kilford… That’s the thing , I am pretty much Worthing born and bred but being a musician , I am obsessed with the history and origins of the not so famous right along the south coast. I have the honour of playing in Hastings from time to time and have an affinity for the town.

Rusty Butler – publicity photo December 1973

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supplied by Colin Norton

Back row l to r – Eddie Renouf – Lead Guitar, Colin Norton – Drums, Dave Greenfield – Keyboards, Front l to r – Tony Savva – Vocals, Dave Poxon – Bass Guitar.

Alan Esdaile… How did you come up with the name of the band Colin?

Colin Norton… Hi Alan, I’m not really sure… Eddie Renouf and myself were the last two to join the band and they already had the name 🙂