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Secret Drinker
MV Fixture

Paul Gunningham, MoM

Posts: 207
Re: Sussex gig on 24 July
« Reply #20: 27.07.06 at 16:39 »

on 26.07.06 at 01:55, Richard Bleksley wrote:
So I was going to say that it was AKAN that was played, until I checked back to Paul Gunningham's review and found that The King Is Dead is in the setlist too. Trouble is, I don't actually remember it. I would have thought I'd have noticed a song I'd never heard before - except that, by the second set, I was suffering severe fatigue from the long day of unaccustomed responsibility and was running on nervous energy. I nearly fell asleep during Senior Citizens!  

My ears were burning just then - along with the rest of me in this heatwave.
Any road up, according to the PoD setlist published with the review, Pete sang both AKAN and The King Is Dead. What I wrote about the latter in the PoD review was: "Another song on that favourite Clive James theme of lost love and regret is the unissued The King Is Dead - this was much more of an MV collectors' item, receiving its first airing in recent history."
I'm sorry to admit that now, I can't remember the song in detail, but I believe Pete did sing it - I don't think I would have made the above up if it wasn't true (would I?). Well, I did make it up of course, as I didn't copy it from anybody else, but you know what I mean Grin
So I assume Pete did indeed sing it at PoD. I remember there was some confusion about the PoD setlist when I wrote the review, because it seemed that unusually, no-one had written it down at the time (Janice, where were you?). ISTR Pete kindly sent me the setlist afterwards but warned me it might not be in exactly the right order. I think I rearranged it here and there where I could positively remember any differences, but I don't recall deleting anything. I might be able to check when I get home, if I still have the emails.
Pete - can you please confirm whether you sang The King Is Dead at PoD?
Tell me you did! (Ooerr, I feel a bit like that theatre critic who skipped the show, made up the review and submitted it to the editor, only to discover the next day that the theatre had burnt down and the show had never taken place)   Embarassed
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Staving off the pressure... by drinking real ale
Leslie Moss
MV Fixture

Marmite Soldier

Posts: 161
Re: Sussex gig on 24 July
« Reply #21: 27.07.06 at 22:26 »

on 26.07.06 at 10:00, snodin wrote:
Hi folks
I fist saw Pete when I was 17, at Nottingham University - I lived locally then and it was our regular music venue (saw Sandy Denny, Stackridge, Vinegar Joe, Captain Beefheart, etc... ahh, those were the days).  
Martin, Acoustic Sussex(www.acousticsussex.org.uk)

Strange but true - I visited Nottingham Uni yesterday and found it to have a great vibe even out of term. (Well all right, not that strange, but certainly true!). Them's were great days - do students get to see the same range and quality of bands/singers nowadays? I guess not - student unions don't do that kind of thing any more. I too saw Sandy Denny live - one of my most treasured student memories - but never got to see Elkie Brooks with or without band, a great shame.
Martin. so sorry to have missed this gig, but my father had been in hospital and I'd been going to see him each night. He came out on Tuesday - why couldn't it have been Monday?!
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Richard Bleksley
MV Fixture

My time has come to find a better way

Posts: 164
Re: Sussex gig on 24 July
« Reply #22: 27.07.06 at 22:46 »

Paul says he doesn't remember The King Is Dead in detail. Well, as I said, I don't either from PoD; but I certainly do from the Ravenswood, and in my opinion it's a bit of a cracker.
Interesting that there's been so much comment since Winter Spring about Clive's new "stripped down" writing style. If you go right back beyond what you might call his "baroque period" (Pete calls it "Clive's show-off period") to the early stuff, a lot of that is relatively straightforward too.  
If you follow Steve's link in his post above to the lyrics you'll find that The King Is Dead is pretty simple (Pete called it "just a pop song, really"), but that doesn't stop it being good. Another comment Pete made was that, when he showed it to Clive (who'd forgotten it), Clive said something like: "I've never written better than that."
I agree. If you can hit the spot, as I believe this song does, with simple language then you're a really good writer.
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Ian Ashleigh
MV Fixture

Carnations on the Roof

Posts: 155
Re: Sussex gig on 24 July
« Reply #23: 28.07.06 at 22:38 »

Hi All (and especially Pete)
We thoroughly enjoyed Monday's gig at Ravenswood, having made the epic journey from East Grinstead (all of a 15 minute drive!!).  We took my 14 year old stepson (who has minor learning difficulties) to his fisrt ever gig and he was enthralled.  His evening was made when Pete sang Beware of the Beautiful Stranger, which is his favourite PA/CJ song - we have all the SFM CDs and the 3 new ones.  
The venue was wonderful and Liz Simcock was also very good and worth seeing again, clever, witty and funny.
I look forard to Pete visiting Sussex again soon
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Though he had no great gifts of personality or mind, he was quite well respected.
Steve Brown
MV Fresher

Look back ... the dreams were always true

Posts: 2
Re: Sussex gig on 24 July
« Reply #24: 30.07.06 at 18:13 »

Hi everyone
I'd just like to say thanks to Pete for the brilliant evening at the Ravenswood on the 24th. It was great hearing 'Driving through Mythical America' and several other favourites live. But 'Ice Cream Man' also reminded me that the 'Lakeside Sessions' CDs reward repeated listening and contain a number of gems that stand alongside Pete and Clive's older classics.
I drove up from Devon for the gig with my 12 year old boy who also thoroughly enjoyed the evening. Any chance of some more gigs in the West Country, Pete? The Yeovil gig was pretty well attended last year and it is almost on your doorstep!
PS: I'd also like to thank Martin Snodin for his helpfulness and friendliness ...
A great evening - thanks
Steve & Rob
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Pete Atkin
MV Deity

Posts: 508
Re: Sussex gig on 24 July
« Reply #25: 31.07.06 at 12:09 »

And it's a big thank from me - to all who came, whether reading this or not, who each contributed significantly to creating such a good atmosphere, and especially to Martin and Paul and Peter for organisation that didn't leave any base uncovered, as far as I could tell.   Acoustic Sussex is an admirable, enviable enterprise.  Maybe it has equivalents elsewhere around the country, I don't know.  Ideally there should be a kind of national network of them, bridging the considerable gap between folk clubs and larger, more formal concert venues.  If you should happen to know of one, do please let us know; I for one would get in touch prontissimo.
Thanks too for all the kind comments above.   Just a couple of matters arise.   Richard, it pains me to draw attention to this, but I know that detail matters to the readers of these postings:  my handkerchief was bright yellow, not red.   And while I'm as grateful as could be for Martin's patently -- and practically -- sincere endorsement, I confess I winced a little at the word "important".  There are a few arguably important songs -- the Battle Hymn of the Republic, the Marseillaise, Brother Can You Spare A Dime?, Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep, maybe -- but I don't think any of ours has approached any of those.  I suppose I fear the danger of the tiny trip-up between "important" and "self-important".  I've always been utterly sincere in saying that we've only ever tried to write pop songs, however odd they've sometimes turned out to be.
I'm sorry about the confusion over [The King Is Dead].  Sorry, Paul, I have no recollection of whether or not I played it at PoD.  But if I included it in the list I gave you (assuming there's no ambiguity between it and AKAN), then I'm sure I must have.  It was on last year's tour that I played it during a soundcheck, when Clive heard it for the first time since 1968 or whenever.  What he said on hearing it again was "I can't write any better than that."  I have a feeling that that's perhaps a slightly mystifying statement to a lot of MVs.  I won't myself expand here and now on what I think he meant, not least because, hey, I'd rather hear what other people have to say.
Eyes beginning to focus on that Lantern in the distance.
With many another thank to all
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Richard Bleksley
MV Fixture

My time has come to find a better way

Posts: 164
Re: Sussex gig on 24 July
« Reply #26: 11.08.06 at 17:47 »

Just returned from the delights (scenic, gastronomic and alcoholic) of the Dordogne to find Pete's posting. OK, Pete, so the handkerchief wasn't bright red, but my face certainly is!
And if Clive's comment on The King is Dead mystifies some MVs, I still stand by what I wrote in my last post.  
Here's looking forward to Sheffield - though perhaps I should leave the report on the gig to someone with a better memory for colours....
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S J Birkill
MV Administrator

just a sensible reserve

Posts: 848
Archive items [Re: Sussex gig]
« Reply #27: 15.08.06 at 10:05 »

on 26.07.06 at 00:49, Gerry Smith wrote:
Hmmm, curious.  I'm sure that show 5 is one of the old recordings made by my brother Chas, that I sent many years ago and whihc you put onto CD.

Found it!
Had a sort-out of a filing cabinet full of Atkinabilia yesterday, inside which I found a stack of unedited CD transfers of vintage TV, concert and club recordings sent in by members. Among them, sure enough, was Gerry's audio recording of that particular TPMO broadcast. So here is the song in question, The King Is Dead (also known as 'King For A Day') as sung by Julie Covington in 1970: go to the members-only area (hit the Forum's archive button -- you need to be logged in to see this) and find "king.mp3" about half-way down the index page.
Also long overdue for posting, the remaining lyrics and images from Andy Love's 2000 MV gathering, SoD2k, when Carole and I were fêted with champagne, gifts, songs and festive dishes. These are in the public area:
Roy Brown's They Were Robbed
Jeremy Pymer's Thrice-Beamed Man (to the tune of 'Ice-Cream Man').
What a day that was!
« Last Edit: 15.08.06 at 11:09 by S J Birkill »     https://peteatkin.com/forum?board=App&action=display&num=1148160328&start=27#27   copy 

Stephen J Birkill
S J Birkill
MV Administrator

just a sensible reserve

Posts: 848
Re: Archive items (was Sussex gig)
« Reply #28: 16.08.06 at 08:34 »

Apologies to anyone who tried and failed to hear 'The King Is Dead' yesterday. The server in Seattle which I use for some overflowed binaries (peteatkin.com is full) went down in flames Monday evening. It's back up now on a new machine.
For the same reason, anyone emailing Carole in response to her Marriott message (this thread) may have had their mail bounced. Best to try again -- note only email was affected, not IM.
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Stephen J Birkill
David Morgan
MV Feature

Posts: 53
Re: Sussex gig on 24 July
« Reply #29: 24.08.06 at 13:20 »

Looping back a few posts, I'd like to take issue with the modest Mr Atkin’s rejection of Martin Snodin's 'Important' descriptor for his songs (post of 31 July). Pete's modesty is genuine - I saw him wince when Martin used the I-word, and at the time I was also a little surprised to hear it. But the theme has kept rattling around my head over the past month, and I’ve arrived at thinking that 'important' may be quite right. So in the interest of a good controversy I’ll try to explain why: apologies for the length of what follows!
My view is of course deeply subjective, but then importance, like beauty, must at least begin in the eye (or ear) of the beholder. I'm one of those for whom songs are the most potent art form, because great magic happens when a good lyric and melody blend to produce a result that's worth more than the sum of the parts. This heady brew can engage mind and emotions and force them to spark off each other like almost nothing else that I've found on this planet. This is a large claim, of course, but I suspect that MVs will know what I'm talking about.
So clearly I think that songs are important - my life and many others would be immeasurably poorer without them. But of course some are more important than others, and at the objective level Pete's probably right that only those individual songs which somehow contribute to historical change can truly justify the description. It’s hard for songs to become important: after all, many people have cloth ears, and even those who appreciate songs have widely varying tastes and speak different languages. Another obstacle is that any one song is a small thing: this is a disadvantage for any art form.
But let's give this some context. Let's think about songs written in English during the last half-century, and about people who care about those songs. I think that in this frame we can talk meaningfully about what’s important, and that I can support an at least semi-objective argument, so - slings and arrows be damned! - here goes.
By now I think it’s widely accepted that the songs of Bob Dylan, as a body, are important. After all, several of them probably even qualify on the basis of the 'contribution to historical change' criterion. Dylan of course also showed the way to the range of themes that could validly be explored in popular song, and brought a perhaps unprecedented poetic quality of language to his songwriting. I’m quite sure that many of the results will long outlive the wizened old grump himself.  
I would argue that you can count virtually on one hand the writers who have been capable of carrying on Dylan’s baton over (necessary test - one song is small) a sizeable body of quality work, where the lyrics consistently have something significant to say, say it in original and arresting ways, and are given full force by strong and memorable melodies. Leading candidates in my semi-objective book - no room for the justifications* here, I’m afraid - would be Joni Mitchell, Randy Newman, Leonard Cohen (yes, the Conman himself: I said there’d be controversy!), Bruce Springsteen and…of course, James & Atkin.
I imagine that many people would suggest adding Lennon & McCartney, but I can’t get excited about L&M’s lyrics in most cases. The Beatles were great performers, and their recordings are carried primarily by those performances and their fine pop tunes. Performance is also a major prop for numerous others, such as Neil Young, Van Morrison, Richard Thompson….genius performers all, whose work I love dearly, but I would argue that they’ve not produced large written bodies of words and music in the class of Mitchell’s, Newman’s etc.
The writers in my premier league are generally fine performers themselves, and this has probably acted to limit the number of alternative performances and recordings of their songs to date. Bob Dylan is of course the exception – whether because he’s the best writer or the worst singer I’ve never been sure! But the key point about all these writers is that many of their songs can stand alone, independent of the original arrangements and performances, on sheer quality of lyrics and melodies. Strip any number of songs down, look at them and judge for yourself which ones from the last 50 years are worth preserving for future generations of performers to reinterpret. I think you’ll see that these premier league writers score over and over again.
The fact that all my chosen songwriters (except young Springsteen) started out in the 1960s may have a lot to do with my age – but I wonder how much. I’ve kept in touch with what’s happened since: on the basis of pure songwriting track record, which newer arrivals would be candidates for the list? Elvis Costello? Well, if Clive James invented show-off lyric writing, Costello certainly took it to new levels! Morrissey and Marr? Very talented, but not quite premier league, in my view. Damon Albarn? Ray Davies did it better in the 60s, I would say. But of course I’ll be delighted to hear that I’ve completely missed someone wonderful.
So, given all of this, what about that word ‘important’? We’re still only in 2006, and I think that more time is needed to reveal the real importance of the premier league writers’ songs. Maybe they’ll all soon be forgotten, though I genuinely doubt it. These people have discovered a new range of potential for literate songwriting in or around the despised pop idiom, and I believe they’ll get their due in future reviews of artistic achievement from the late 20th century onwards. Enlightened critical opinion these days acknowledges that ‘pop’ does not have to mean disposable ephemera, so Pete and Clive’s ambition ‘only’ to write pop songs (I guess Bob Dylan would make the same claim) no longer implies an automatic ticket to the garbage bin of history. Rather, the writers of the best pop songs since the 1950s should be seen as having provided the most vital channels of expression for the hopes, fears, loves, hates and yearnings of a generation or two, and the best and most timeless of their songs can potentially do the same for younger generations.
This, in my book, makes these writers’ songs important, or at least in with a chance of getting there. That Atkin and James have so far been relatively overlooked commercially is irrelevant to the fact, which I believe should be clear to informed critics, that their writing stands in this top-quality group and has its own set of unique nuances that are every bit as exciting, satisfying and, yes, important(!) as those of the other premier leaguers’ work. Patriotic Brits & Australians should also note that without A&J we’ll have handed the game entirely to the North Americans (and no, I don’t think that E John/B Taupin are a good substitute, no matter how many records they’ve sold!).
So there, Pete – I hope you’re blushing once again. But even if the semi-objective argument above turns out to be garbage, the subjective one holds – many of your songs have been very important to me for over 30 years now. And thanks for the newer ones as well!
*Note about the absent ‘justifications’:
I’m sure that most readers will disagree with at least some of my ‘semi-objective’ assessments: this post is already too long, so the justification arguments are missing. It’s certainly hard to be even half-objective about something as emotive and personal as the impact of songs, but I can argue (at length!) the case for rating, for example, Randy Newman above Neil Young as a songwriter, even though I listen to Young’s recordings more often. Don’t encourage me, would be my advice! Rather, we can perhaps agree that, whoever the top 5 or 6 writers are, A&J are up there with them.  
If this is the case, and the Atkin/James songs are potentially important but in danger of being widely ignored and forgotten despite Steve B’s best efforts, is there something more that MVs as a group can or should do about this? Or maybe Pete and Clive are happy with obscurity for their joint endeavours: if so, I’ll shut up at this point!
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David Morgan
MV Feature

Posts: 53
Re: Important songs? (Was Sussex gig on 24 July)
« Reply #30: 24.08.06 at 13:51 »

Just giving a pointer to subject of previous post via the header....
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Ian Chippett
MV Fellow

In the clear at over fifty-five

Posts: 332
Re: Sussex gig on 24 July
« Reply #31: 24.08.06 at 14:09 »

Kingsley Amis once said (quite rightly IMO) "Importance isn't important: good writing is." When I see the sord "important" in a record review or article, I usually find it can be replaced by "boring" or "unlistenable." THus, I don't think we can really consider Pete and Clive's stuff to be "important" as it hasn't influenced any other writers as far as I know whereas Dylan's stuff is "important" from this point of view (but did it infuence anybody any good?) Personally, I bought all Dylan's songbooks in the early days (as I did with Elton John's songbooks) as I couldn't believe how he could get away with it. Surely, I thought, I must be missing something. Alas, I wasn't.  
Just my HO of course.
Ian C
A complete unknown in Pantin France
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