Sleeve Note: "Live Libel"

SONG FOR RITA (Featuring Griff Gostuffyerself)

From England's famous Oxford College to the hay-strewn streets of Nashville the pointed boots of Griff Gostuffyerself have trodden the winding path to success. But for Griff the beginnings were hard. For ten years in Nashville none of the famous songwriters and guitar-pickers would so much as talk to him, on account of his fancy Oxford ways, such as eating with a knife and fork. In a dollar-a-week cold-water apartment above a Kentucky Fried Chicken parlor he wrote four million songs. It was the last of these, "I and Bobby McNye", which caught the attention of Lonny Nash (after whom Nashville was named) and was subsequently covered by every Country musician West of Karachi. The duo of Lonny Nash and Griff Gostuffyerself became inseparable. So did the duo of Griff Gostuffyerself and Rita Coldcut, beautiful half-Indian, half-inaudible singer of sweet songs. As Lonny and Rita grappled monosyllabically with the challenge of sharing the first place in the new star's life, Griff produced an unbroken stream of hits: "You and Billy McGrew", "We and Barry McFee", "They and Jay McVay". His album "Shakespeare Was A Shitkicker" went gold, then blue, then soft. Meanwhile Griff had become a movie star of the first magnitude, playing Billy the Kid in The Man Who Shot Sam Peckinpah, with Bob Dylan as Maid Marian. "People have said that all my songs are the same," Griff contends, "and they're right."

BLACK FUNK REX (Featuring Marc Boloc)

The teenybopper heavy-metal super-group of the Seventies, BLACK FUNK REX grew out of Tyrannosaurus Railroad, the pixillated psychedelic flower-band of the Sixties. It was an inevitable evolution, dictated as much by the economic structure of the music industry as by the altering pressure of the youth culture. But for the group's leader, Marc Boloc it was a crusade. For the curly-haired young man who had been described as Borstal's answer to Shirley Temple, cash was running out. It was time for a change of image, but in which direction? David Bowie had cornered the camp scene, Gladys Graveyard was already very deeply into horror, and if Boloc got stuck with the same old cabalistic doodling about elves he'd wind up going on in front of Judee Sill. It was at this tense moment, while T. Railroad were playing a one- nighter at Harwell, that their smashed roadie inadvertently plugged the amplifiers directly into the atomic power station. For one second before a paroxysm of blue flames creamed their equipment, Boloc heard the sound - the sound of Black Funk Rex. The secret? Kilowatts by the thousand amplifying guitars with one string! And so, although the face of Marc Boloc never changed from its original mean and pimply little self-regarding pout, the legend of Black Funk Rex took root and grew. For a whole generation of fans who were not only too young for the Beatles but too nasty for Labi Siffre, Black Funk Rex equals pop, and pop equals a blinding white earache between the eyes.

I'M CRAZY OVER YOU

A blast from the past, or a brilliant forecast of the shape of nostalgia to come? That is the question almost nobody is asking about the success of "I'm Crazy Over You", Pete Atkin's new hit vehicle - a song he dredged up dripping from the mists of antiquity. Written by AI Sherman (designer of the Sherman Tank) and Al Lewis (designer of the Lewis gun), "Crazy" was a radio hit for the Trix Sisters in the last wild flush of euphoria that preceded the Battle of Hastings. Now here it is again, evoking from BBC Light Entertainment chief Billy Cotton Jr (who danced to it when it first came out) the words: "Now there's what I call a song. Something you can hum. Ta-tum-ta-tum-ta-tum-ta-tum-ta-tum-ta ... Memo to all departments: more songs like that." So it was that Pete Atkin got a series with Lulu.

ERRANT KNIGHT (by arrangement with Strongbow Spam)

Perhaps the richest energy-source in folk rock has been STRONGBOW SPAM, a music-making organisation which has gone on and on, surviving so many changes of personnel that some of its most famous alumni have left and rejoined without even realising it was the same band. Sandy Denny, Dave Swarbrick, Tim Hart, Maddy Prior, Richard Thompson, Otis Redding ... ordinary British names of ordinary British boys and girls, yet names which have acquired an Arthurian nimbus - a tinge of Camelot, Joyous Garde, Tintagel - because of the band's success in re-discovering our folk heritage. Bashing our pewter mugs of mead on the refectory table in noisy contentment, we owe it to Strongbow Spam that we are able to enjoy the full versions of such classic ballads as "Come Ye O'er From Slough" - a masterpiece of the oral tradition which took no more than an hour to sing before the Strongbows discovered the missing thousand verses stuffed behind a mangel-wurzel. It was by this tradition that Sandy Denny was inspired to begin her endless sequence of ditties about pirate captains, and Maddy Prior to take flying lessons on a broom. The full version of "Errant Knight", here sung by Pete Atkin while digesting an authentic meal of rotten grouse, was transcribed from the mouthings of a doddering old fool he met on Paddington Station.

READY FOR THE ROAD (Featuring Tesco Tex)

The culture of European Civilization is the culture of the USA. No clearer proof of this truism could be adduced than the way Country music has taken over in Britain, exerting its overwhelming influence on our listening habits, until housewives from Mumbles and Surbiton live for the annual pilgrimage to Wembley and a fleeting hour spent in the company of Conway Twitty. It was inevitable, given this enthusiasm, that Britain should begin producing Country stars of her own, and that George Hamilton IV - cheery host of Country get-togethers both on stage and television - should soon be smarmily introducing them to the British public. And so Doris Dreggs of Woking became Betty-Sue Saddlebag (whose "You Got Stuck Around The S-Bend Of My Heart" shot to the bottom of the best-seller lists within a day of release) and, most important, Ongar's own Kevin Thicknesse became TESCO TEX, whose signature tune "Ready for the Road" evolved into a symbol of what this type of music means to the British people - a branch of MacDonald's in every suburb, in which every member of the staff wears a hat marked "Manager".

WHY? (Featuring special guest artist Telly Savarsol)

Internationally famous as Television's loveable cop "Jakov", it was written in the stars that TELLY SAVARSOL should leap to further glory as a singer. And indeed so it proved, once the problem had been solved of what material best suited his unique talents. For example, he couldn't sing a note. What song, then, could best employ that deep-toned, candied-honey voice? The best tunesmiths in Los Angeles went to work, and after months of effort came up with "Why?" Telly heard the song played on the piano, tentative- ly shaped a few of its poignant phrases, and the rest is legend. The song has become a hit wherever in the world the Jakov series is seen and loved. (Wherever it isn't, they can't give the record away with free petrol.) Telly flew to London and made a short film to accompany the song on Top of the Pops - a film in which he lounged around seductively in a silk shirt making blood-shot eyes at the producer's girlfriend. What a coincidence that the BBC, which screens Jakov, should break its neck to make Telly's song a hit! Thus it was that Telly Savarsol sloped off to buy another ten grand's worth of suits at Vincci's in Jermyn St. And all on expenses, pussycat.

BALLAD OF AN UPSTAIRS WINDOW

As has been exhaustively revealed in many a badly transcribed interview, Pete Atkin wrote his own lyrics before he met Clive James. Deciding that these lyrics were disturbingly good, James threatened him with violence if he continued, so it was with little regret that Atkin gave up the verbal side of his activities and regressed happily into his true love - jig-saw puzzles, of which he owns hundreds, including one which is nothing but a square of solid yellow. (That you can't be sure you've got it right even when you've finished it is only one of the attractions of this particular toy.) In this manner, Atkin is able to while away the hours which would otherwise be wasted on lyric-writing, while James proceeds with the task of getting his rocks off into the typewriter. Nevertheless some of Atkin's lyrics have proved their staying-power. Of these, "Ballad Of An Upstairs Window" is a favourite with concert audiences, and is included here with the glad approval of James, who can recognise a Walther PPK 9mm automatic when he sees one.

STRANGER IN TOWN (Featuring Ricky Fablon)

A teen-hero of the Fifties whose career could seemingly go no further, RICKY FABLON confounded his critics by breaking big as a Hollywood movie star. They said he couldn't sing, and they were correct. They said he couldn't act, and they were correct again - but he filled his trousers tightly and eventually learned how to walk into a saloon without getting his spurs tangled together. So it was that Ricky Fablon won the hearts of movie-goers in a series of great Westerns directed by the immortal Howard Hawks. In Rio Poncho he played The Frenchman, a young gunslinger who helped John Wayne save a town from crooked cattle- barons. (Dean Martin played the drunken sheriff and Angie Dickinson played Wayne's girl.) In Rio Honcho he played The Dutchman, a young gunslinger who helped John Wayne save another town from some more crooked cattle-barons. (Angie Dickinson played the drunken sheriff and Dean Martin played Wayne's girl.) But it was in Rio Luncho, playing a young gunslinger called The Chinaman who helped John Wayne save a cattle-baron from some crooked townspeople (Robert Mitchum made a brilliant double appearance as the drunken sheriff and Wayne's girl) that Ricky Fablon really made his mark, singing the song which has been his trademark ever since - "Stranger in Town." Even now, as Rick Fablon, doyen of sophisticated rock, he closes his act with it. Because in so many ways this song is the story of Rick himself.

RATTLESNAKE ROCK (Featuring Gladys Graveyard)

Into the complacent atmosphere of the rock world in the early Seventies the name of GLADYS GRAVEYARD burst like a meteor with dandruff - shocking, violent, funky, unhinged. Ribald, daemonic, avaricious, putrescent. Why was he called Gladys? peopled wondered, and for an answer got hit in the face with a bucket of bat-pee. Because Gladys Graveyard took off from where Frank Zappa crashed out - he was an incubus rebounding from the cockroach-ridden orchestra- pit of Existence. Over a deliberately boring riff Gladys would lay down a barrage of deliberately boring words, while visually bombarding the mesmerised audience with one tedious tableau after another. It wasn't new and it wasn't different. Things looked black for Gladys Graveyard, mainly because the Mafia had sewn his eyelids to his cheek with cat- gut. But then a beautiful young woman called Anne Warhol changed his career. At Anne's behest and under her ice-cool glance, Gladys Graveyard added the missing ingredient that took his act to the top: necrophilia. Performing cunnilingus on a corpse while dipping his rig in a sink full of ravening piranha, Gladys convinced his growing audience that if they weren't getting music, they were at least getting their money's worth. But the outrageous radicalism of Gladys Graveyard conceals a profound concern with conditions in contem- porary America. That is why he lives in Switzerland, and is a member of the Nazi party. That is why he has told inter- viewers: "Your lip goes one inch outa line and my boys'll hang leeches on your tit."

DOOM FROM A ROOM (Featuring Leonard Conman)

A solitary lighted window high above a dark city in Canada frames a hanging head. On a dusty stage in England's London flows a stream of bitter tears. From cheap radio- grams in women's dormitories on campuses throughout the world croaks a desolate voice. This is the phenomenon of LEONARD CONMAN, Poet, novelist and above all musician. For in the songs of Leonard Conman we hear an idiom pared to its essentials. The music drained of all melody, the lyric of all coherence, there is nothing left except abstract intensity - a Comnan song is a Polo Mint from which the candy has been sucked off. It is the logical extension of a decaying doughnut. But minimal though it may be, it allows the listener no easy respite. Always Conman's voice clutches, probes, demands to be tolerated. So much love and so much heartbreak - is it any wonder that young girl college students repelled by the formalistic élitism of Donne, Marvell, Shelley and Yeats should see in Conman the true subject of their adoration? "There's a dump-truck in the mirror," Conman has written, "and it's stopping at your nose." Far in the distance weeps a sad guitar, trying without hope for that third chord.

I'VE GOT BETTER THINGS TO DO

Gracing our television screens like some dew-drenched crocus, lovely LINSEY D'OYLE is Britain's petite new princess of song. She comes up to Russell Harty's crotch. She has been called the top half of joni Mitchell. Her voice has been likened to that of a nightingale strangling. But two things are certain. First, that her blond-haired, black-lashed, cream-skinned beauty bedazzles the lens, making In Concert a treat for the eye and The Old Grey Whistle Test a challenge to Bob Harris's equilibrium. (Even then Bob might have got away with it, but when he asked her all those questions about Liszt she couldn't help realising he'd mixed her up with Roger Daltry.) Second, that her writings are a significant contribution to the powerful heritage of songs-by-women stretching from Carole King, Dory Previn and Nico through to Linda Lewis and Janis Ian. In the work of Linsey D'Oyle there is a special touch of vulnerability which the singing voice of Pete Atkin brings out in all its tenderness. It is a sobering thought that the girl who lived these intense experiences and wrote them down for posterity is only one third the height of Helen Reddy and one tenth the weight of Aretha Franklin.

LONESOME LEVIS LANE

To the famous C&W names like Tammy Wynette, Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, Glen Campbell, Loretta Lynn, Lonny Nash and Griff Gostuffyerself, the millions who enjoy Country music have been delighted to add, over the past decade, the name of LONESOME LEVIS LANE. Never at the Grand Ole Opry are the lights lower, never is the reverent feeling more hushed, than when the solitary figure of Lonesome Levis Lane crouches over his guitar and sings humbly of his early sufrerings on the road-gang where he spent thirty years for raping an eight-year old child. Lawyers appealing to higher and higher courts spent decades attempting to bring the case to a re-trial, but were unable to get the verdict set aside perhaps because of prejudice against the colour of Lonesome's skin (bright green, owing to a steady diet of ampthetamines), but more probably because the charges were true. Nevertheless Lonesome Levis Lane has paid his debt. The proof of his agony lies in his music, and the proof of his unswerving loyalty to America ("Whar in hayle else could a convicted chahld-murderer earn a hunnerd million dollars? Ah'm grateful,") lies in his continued attempts to expose the John Birch Society as a network of Russian agents. Lonesome Levis Lane is a hand-tooled, silver-studded.testament to the Western Ethic. He owns a B-52 customised by the famous Nudie and bombs Laos to relax.

SHEER QUIVERING GENIUS (Featuring James Paler)

What emotion can one express about the excruciatingly sensitive JAMES PALER, except gratitude - gratitude and awe? Before James Paler rock was brash (Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Frankie Lymon), it was sentimental (Beach Boys, Everly Brothers), it was sometimes arch (Spoonful, Mamas & Papas, CSN&Y, Rimsky-Korsakov) but even at its most sophisticated it was seldom truly spiritual. Then came James Paler, bare-footed, reeling from shock-treatment: a redeemer. Brushing his hair out of his eyes with a hand as delicate as Aubrey Beardsley's on its death-bed, James sang his way into the innermost souls of a generation, especially Joni Mitchell. From there he went on to further triumphs, especially Carole King. He proved to emerging millions of insecure kids that you didn't have to be Sly Stone or Alvin Lee or Paul McCartney to touch the human heart. He proved that you could have acne and still get chicks. In that message lay salvation, especially Carly Simon. It was no surprise,then, that James Paler was chosen to play Jesus Christ in The Gospel According to Pasolini, or that he should have composed, while waiting to be crucified, this typically self-effacing song.

UNCLE SEA-BIRD (in memoriam Ralph J. Gleason)

Back at the real beginnings of rock and roll - back beyond Elvis, back beyond Bill Haley, back beyond Leadbelly, Lester Young, Scott Joplin, Mozart - there were a few men in California who had the vision of the future. One of these men was Uncle Sea-Bird. Was it not Uncle Sea-Bird who wrote of Kenneth Patchen: "I have seen the love-juice of my generation frozen into Hershey bars. It is consumed by dancing children who have forgotten our names"? (It was not: it was Jack Kerouac.) But Uncle Sea-Bird was there at the magic moment when Ralph Gleason realised it was time to get out of jazz and back the new Beat. When Beat still meant a generation, Uncle Sea-Bird could tell it portended a whole new way of life - a life in which anybody could get a free bed for the night, and everybody's money would belong to everybody else, and a burned-out old untalented four-flusher like himself could get all the fresh young poon-tang he wanted. So Uncle Sea-Bird became the new pied piper, wooing straight young girls away from their homes with visionary candy. And what he once was to the Haight Ashbury, he now is to Nepal, or is it Tanzania? Yes, Uncle Sea-Bird is always on the move. He will be with us always. For it does not say in the Baghavad-Gita "He is among you many-tongued at each moment / Alertly listening at your every orifice"? It says nothing of the kind. Surely there could not be a deliberate mistake in the song?


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