Wednesday 18 September 2013
I didn't feel well at all. It was the time of 'already left School' and 'hadn't started my first job yet' and I really should have been out doing things, after all. But, no. I was stuck in bed with the Flu from hell. On one of these sneezy days, my Dad nipped home from work at lunchtime and came in to ask how I was. I grunted and spluttered an answer, to which he replied ''hey, anything you want to make you feel better'' ? There was a long pause. I thought about this. Any normal reply would surely have involved hot water bottles, vile tasting lemon drinks, or aspirin. Or all of those. I had other ideas.
Being as I was in one of those 'I want Records' frames of mind (a frame of mind which began well over 40 years ago and occasionally persists to this day), I thought the best cure would be to have a couple more Records for my collection, preferably 7" Singles. I had been listening to the radio for days, drifting in and out of sleep, and hearing Records all the time. By this point, I was hankering for 'music I'd missed', as it were, either because I was too young to think about Records, or they weren't 'cool' at the time, or that I wasn't born yet when they first came out.
But, I had two in mind, which I decided would make me feel better. And I knew, just knew, that the wonderful 'Gloria's Record Bar' would have them. This was back in the days when old Records could be ordered, and any shop worth it's salt (or Vinyl, in this case) would have a decent stock of old classics as well as the current chart.
So, I announced (or, spluttered between coughs and sneezes) that 'Heartbreak Hotel' by Elvis Presley, and 'Where Do You Go To My Lovely' by Peter Sarstedt, would surely make me feel better.
It was less than an hour or two later, that my Dad marched in and handed me these two gems.
I was better within days.
As I said, I discovered the cure for Flu in 1974.
Friday 3 April 2009
So, have you ever heard of 'Galanti' keyboards ?
Ah, I thought not. Well, I had some when I was 17, and, surely, it was only a matter of time until rockstardom would beckon.
It wasn't my first foray into keyboards. Luckily, I had a friend who worked for Wm. Thompson & Sons, in Glasgow - a huge music shop at the time. He sneakily, ermm, 'borrowed' a few items on Saturday nights, and returned them early Monday mornings (the Shop didn't open on Sundays). On a few occasions, he even got me a Mini Korg synthesiser out for a weekend, so I would play around with this thing late into a Saturday night. I thought I was Brian Eno. The whole thing was brilliant.
Back to the plot - Galanti keyboards. I bought them around this time. First of all, I had to learn how to play them, how to read music, things like that. Thing was, it seemed a dreadfully tedious waste of time, doing all that. Why couldn't I just play ?
The obvious thing to do, was form a Band. So, me and Kutchy - a great friend of mine who was a former schoolmate, set about doing this. After all, he had a guitar. He couldn't really play it, but who cares ? We were a Band. We needed a drummer, and who better than our mate Raymy, who had dabbled in playing Drums for the school a few years earlier.
One drawback though - Raymy didn't actually own any drums, but he became our drummer anyway. Such small matters didn't bother us.
Next up, came the decision about a Band name. For some reason, I liked the name 'Tarantula' (it sounded a very heavy metal type name - though I hated metal) but the others seemed to like it too. I stole the name. I saw a book on the windowsill at home that my brother owned, by Bob Dylan, called 'Tarantula'. I hadn't read the book or anything, but we liked the name. So, we were all set. Sort of.
One thing that no Band wants to occur, especially in an embryonic stage, is 'musical differences'.
This could have reared it's ugly head very early on, as I naturally thought I would be the singer. Thing was, it seemed Kutchy thought he was too. We quite maturely left this aside for the moment, for the sake of the Band, and sat down together to write some lyrics.
Not music (we couldn't do that), just lyrics. We wrote a few songs in an hour or two, and I distinctly remember one, called 'Jive Drive'. It was all 'take me down to the Jive Drive baby' type of action - this is what happens when the two main protagonists are T.Rex fans, of course.
Tragically, the song was never completed. Ahem.
Nevertheless, I set out one sunny Sunday afternoon, keyboards in tow, to our recording studio.
Well, Kutchy's Dad's garage.
We had electricity, and a microphone. So, we decided to 'jam', and tape the proceedings.
Unfortunately, our drummer Raymy was not at our debut recording session.
He had no drums, remember ?, so he doesn't appear on the Album.
Some would say this was a trifle unfair, or unlucky. Or unfortunate. Or something.
After a few minutes, we claimed we had some sort of tune going, so we switched on the tape recorder. The track, I thought, should be called 'Insight'.
As this was a great word, we decided this should be the title track of the Album. I can only describe, in hazy memory, of it being a cross somewhere between Tangerine Dream and T.Rex. With no lyrics. And a few bum notes.
It was about 10 minutes long.
This was inspiring, so we set about recording a second track immediately.
This was a slightly more frenzied affair, which Kutchy called 'Anno Domini 75'.
It was a cross between Tangerine Dream and T.Rex, with no lyrics. And maybe the odd bum note. It was 8 minutes long.
We were on a roll, frankly.
Finally, we set about our most avante-garde piece, complete freeform, which I decided would be called 'Stagecrazed'. This would cover the entire second side of the Album.
It was a cross between Tangerine Dream and T.Rex, with no lyrics. It may have contained the odd bum note, and it was 21 minutes long.
I was especially proud of the ending of the track, as it seemed to swish and swirl suddenly into nothing, as if disappearing into space.
This was because I unplugged the keyboards. It sounded great.
I vaguely remember Kutchy being unsure of ending it at that point, as he was preparing 'another solo', but you can't have everything. All in all, we were very proud.
We had just completed our first Album.
Well, our only Album.
A concept Album, though we never actually discussed what the concept was.
One solitary cassette tape existed of this masterpiece of non-musicianship.
I have no idea what happened to it.
I often think about it, and wonder if I'd really like to hear it now.
Probably not, but it would certainly bring back a few memories.
I don't know what happened after that. There was no second Album, and, as far as I know, Raymy never actually got any drums anyway.
Kutchy went off to work in the fisheries in the Shetland Islands, and I didn't.
I sold my keyboards some time later.
Insight, by Tarantula.
The great lost Album.
I think I must have been about 15.
Returning from a friends house after hanging around, listening to music, playing footie or whatever, I strolled the quiet streets back home. I lived in a relatively rural part of Glasgow, to be honest. Parkland was just about everywhere close by. However, just occasionally, it wasn't averse to the odd gangland rivalries at this point, which seeped in, or invaded from other territories sometimes. I turned into Elmore Avenue, just one street away and no more than about five minutes from home. I was the only one on the street, as I walked up the hill. Then I saw them. Perhaps, about 40 of them.
Ahead of me, stretching right across the road, and both pavements, a line right across my vision.
Single file, right across. There really wasn't an escape. Sure, I could have turned tail and ran back the way I came, but what chance of one, or more, of the 40 catching up with me anyway ? Time to brazen it out, and keep going towards them. Usually, in this case, the gangland custom was to give you no space to pass, so you literally bumped into one of them. They'd accuse you of doing this deliberately, and... blah blah. You were mincemeat. It wasn't something you could escape from or avoid.
I'm not sure why I remember this so distinctly.
Maybe because it has a musical memory to it - although you'd be forgiven for asking why, the way the story has started so far.
80 eyes staring at me, now about 10 yards away. I'd never felt so uncomfortable, or, frankly, so scared. How on earth would I get out of this ?
Suddenly, I noticed I knew one of them. Just one. A corkscrew haired lad a year or so younger than me, who I vaguely knew from School. His name was Russ. Well, his nickname anyway.
I had nothing to lose by saying 'Hey Russ, how's it going' ? .
Then the reprieve. He did seem to be the gangleader after all. The man in the middle.
'Alright', he said, and looked around at his fellow sneering blood baying friends.
'It's ok, I know him, he's a Bolan fan too'. said Russ, gesturing at me.
Russ clearly wasn't going to be responsible for having a fellow Bolan fan beaten up.
We chatted briefly about the merits of 'The Slider', and on I went, homeward.
I knew it was a good idea to love T.Rex.
I'm not sure exactly when it started. Maybe I was 8 or 9. At the end of the back garden, was a wire fence (great for climbing over !) and then a steep grass verge, up onto the red gravel ('red blaze') football pitches, with the Secondary School behind. The School which I was going to go to, in a few years time, once I'd gone through the rest of Primary School. On one of the occasions where friends and I were playing 'footie' during the summer holidays, we got talking to Davie the Grasscutter. I can only assume he worked for the council or something, employed to keep the lawns, verges etc neat and tidy for the School authorities. But Davie wasn't any old Grasscutter. We'd listen to his stories, the people he'd known, the Bands he'd been to see, the Football players he'd met, the places he'd seen, strange fascinating foreign climes.
Davie was a bit of a hero. He'd regale us impressionable lads with his stories while he scoffed on his sandwiches, with this dangerous looking monolithic green scary machine by his side, the tools of his trade.
Years passed, until I was one of those Secondary School kids.
I was about 13, and coming back home from another footie session of '11 Byes' (long story), I made my way down the verge to head homeward. And there was Davie. I greeted him like a heroic old friend, having not seen him for so long. I was a grown up now of course (well, I thought so, naturally). He had more stories. I even had some of my own.
I told him about my new love (slight exaggeration, but it seemed cool) who was Heather, who lived a few doors along from me. I was 13, and she was 12. She was the object of my affections, and I told Davie that Heather would indeed be mine, and he pretended to believe me.
It was brilliant.
At this point, we caught up on what everyone had been up to in the years that had passed since we all had seen Davie last. I vaguely remember him telling me about being at his Daughter's wedding, and of course, some more exotic trips abroad. As I said before, Davie was cool.
At this point, he asked me Heathers full name, as he wanted to know her initals, and asked me to point out her house to him, which I did. We were yards away from it anyway. "Ok, follow me", he said. So, I did, and we went up the verge, crossed over the footie pitch to where the Tennis courts began, to the line of trees that ran alongside the back. He took out a knife, and carved, rather fantastically, mine and Heather's initials deep into the bark, with a heart motif around it.
'Now, you bring her up here and show her that" he challenged.
Sadly, I don't think I ever did. But I wish I had.
As I said, Davie was cool.