Midnight Voices          
The discussion forum for fans of Pete Atkin and Clive James,
their works and collaborators on stage, TV, disc and in print.
Pete Atkin Home | Discography | Julie Covington | Audio Clips | Visitors' Comments | Join Midnight Voices

Web Digest week 49 (02.08.98, MV1316-1328) begins | index | prev | next |
Date: Mon, 03 Aug 1998 15:20:48 +0100
From: Carole Birkill <email address>
Subject: MV1316: Reception Tickets

Buxton reception tickets are going out today (2nd class) so you should
receive them towards the end of the week. There are still a few left for
anyone who hasn't booked yet. Only 7 weeks to go!


From: Ian Chippett <email address>
Date: Tue, 4 Aug 1998 14:47:32 EDT
Subject: MV1317: Exiles

<< Pete will be
 playing the Eastbourne Folk Club on Wednesday this coming week, August 5th.

I thought I'd better point out on behalf of the unlucky sods among us who are
living in exile and who will be crying in their beer or whisky tomorrow
evening that we shall be requiring full details of all that happens in
Eastbourne - set list, fluffed lines, new patter between songs, (I'm dreaming
here) new songs etc. Not that it will be any real consolation but twisting the
knife can be fun in its way...

Ian C

From: Ian Chippett <email address>
Date: Tue, 4 Aug 1998 14:47:38 EDT
Subject: MV1318: You can't expect to be transcribed correctly

<< I will raise one quibble: there is audibly and necessarily an E or E7
 needed to lead into Am for the bridge of the song ("You'll be there....").
 G7 won't do for me. >>

I haven't had the opportunity to give this one a twirl yet as my guitar is not
at home right now but I agree with Dave that the correct chord should be E7

Ian C
               [Instant reply from Steve: I've checked it and yes, oh dear, 
you're both right of course. I seem to have made an error in transcribing 
Pete's chords to the Web page, and repeated the previous stanza without the 
leading chord. It should be E7, not G7. My humblest grovellings to Dave 
(again, MV1304), Ian and Pete. I think I need a holiday.......

Now corrected: http://www.rwt.co.uk/a11c.htm
                                                              -- Steve]

Date: Wed, 05 Aug 1998 13:01:21 +0100
From: Gerald Smith <email address>
Subject: MV1319: A heart-warming tale..

Hello Folks

	My eight year old step-daughter, a firm PA fan who can now sing along 
with most of the songs off BOTBS and DTMA, has just been helping me open the 

Charlotte paused as she looked at a small piece of card with a photo on it 
which she had just taken out of a plain envelope (the ticket for the MVs'
reception at Buxton).

"That doesn't look like Pete Atkin", she declared..
"and *who* is Clive James"?

How I laughed!!


Gerry Smith

PS Hope to see some of you at Eastbourne, tonight.

Gerald Smith's Homepage :

From: Dave Jones <email address>
Subject: MV1320: Picking up on a dropped name.
Date: Wed, 5 Aug 1998 09:27:40 -0400

I was trawling a local music store last night and
came across a book dedicated to Charlie Christian,
he who outplays the saxes in "Thief in the Night".

Now if I was dropping names in a song about
the guitar, I'd have gone for one of the usual
suspects: Django, Segovia, etc. etc.  Shows how
much I know.  For one thing, the juxtaposition of
the word 'saxes' keeps making me sing "Charlie
Parker out playing the saxes".  I am now more

As Brief Lives go, his was more than usually brief,
as he succumbed to TB at the age of 25 in 1942.
However he brought the music he learned in his
native Texas and fused it with the emerging 
possibilities of the electric guitar.  In doing so, he
seems to have invented the modern guitar style.
And I thought it was Bert Weedon...

Inevitably there is stuff on the Web about him.
You can start at

Dave Jones
Tapping a brittle rhythm in Rochester NY.

From: Dave Fisher <email address>
Date: Thu, 6 Aug 1998 10:41:23 GMT
Subject: MV1321 Re: MV1315: Eastbourne - a reminder

I came face to face with another MV for the first time last night 
at Eastbourne and our initial conversation was like the opening of a 
'Round the Horne' sketch.

" It's over twenty years since I did it"

"Well I've never done it and I can't wait"

I was talking to Richard Corfield regarding the prospect of seeing 
Pete play live. 

We were made very welcome by the members of the Folk Club.

It was also nice to meet other 'Voices'. My journey (from S.E.London) 
paled into insignificance against the rest (Bristol, 
Oxford..........) There were two acts preceding Pete. I did not catch 
their names but both were very good.The resident group 
played  a John Gorka number ( an excellent New Jersey musician I 
first saw around four years ago at Croydon supporting Mary Chapin 
Carpenter). A guy played some blues  and then on to the Main 

Pete started with 'Thief in the Night'. The voice and playing 
although unmistakable seemed to have developed a richness that I do 
not recall. It's my lousy memory! 

I will not go through the rest of the set as those more qualified 
than me ( Richard  Corfield and Gerry Smith who actually understand 
how music works will be able to explain this to you to give a fuller 
picture). I felt like the guy in the Fast Show -'I'll get me coat' 
when they discussed chord changes and fingering techniques - whoops - 
slipping back to Kenneth Horne! 

Pete gave,despite the cramped surroundings, a superb mixture of old 
favourites and one or two of the great songs that must be on the 
mythical seventh album. 

He was wonderfully self-deprecating in his humour (which I did 
remember)he played beautifully and sang with a passion (that took me 
aback as I had forgotten this as well). 

This has been just a clumsy attempt to indicate to those who can make 
Buxton that it will be a night to remember. Those who cannot it will 
take more than whisky to drown your sorrows.   

Dave Fisher

Date: Thu, 06 Aug 1998 08:09:52 -0400
From: Frances Kemmish <email address>
Subject: MV1322: Buxton Ticets

I have had to cancel my trip to England in September, so I won't be able
to come to Buxton after all. I have two tickets that I need to dispose
of to a good home, so I am offering them to Midnight Voices members

The tickets are in Row B. (I forget the seat numbers, and I don't have
the actual ticets; they are being held at the Box Office). 

If anyone is interested, please email me at  <email address> and we
can discuss arrangements.

Fran Kemmish
Exile in Connecticut

From: Ian Chippett <email address>
Date: Thu, 6 Aug 1998 16:47:18 EDT
Subject: MV1323 Re : MV1320: Picking up on a dropped name.

<< I was trawling a local music store last night and
 came across a book dedicated to Charlie Christian,
 he who outplays the saxes in "Thief in the Night".>>

One of the problems of being a Pete and Clive fan is the vast amount of time
and money one has to spend following up on all the references. In recent
years I've forked out good money to buy Charlie Christian and  Charlie Parker
C.D.s, Charlie Chaplin videos, Rembrandt and Renoir reproductions, not to
mention the time spent reading Apollinaire, De Nerval, Verlaine, Shakespeare,
Petrarch and Ronsard. I sometimes regret ever having heard the title track of
Driving Through Mythical America and Screen Freak... Big Bill Broonzy, Lonnie
Johnson, Slapper Blackwell, Baby Dodds, Archie Shepp, Ornette Coleman, I can
handle but Garcia Lorca? Who did he play with, for God's sake?           8-)

BTW Dave J., Charlie Christian is worth a listen at the very least but Django
Reinhardt is superlative and must be heard. 


From: Ian Chippett <email address>
Date: Fri, 7 Aug 1998 08:53:58 EDT
Subject: MV1324: NME

In the NME Book of Rock from 1977, the entry for Pete Atkin ends with these

"As each successive album received good reviews, but made little commercial
impact, so the abiding impression is that the duo are finally clever, but dull
- that the humour is just too cerebral and contrived to be actually funny.

James is now well-known for his own appearances on television, and also his
vituperative comments on the appearances of others, as television critic of
The Observer."

I don't suppose that anyone reading this would agree for a minute but I submit
it for your consideration. If anyone wants the full text, I'll send it to them
but the rest is pretty much just the basic facts. 

While we're on the subject, I seem to remember that Pete and Clive once
reviewed the week's singles for NME at about this time. Does anyone have a
copy of what they said ?

Ian C

Date: Fri, 07 Aug 1998 17:18:52 +0100
From: S J Birkill <email address>
Subject: MV1325: Eastbourne - Gerry Smith's review

Gerry Smith and Richard Corfield have both sent in their reviews of Pete's
Eastbourne performance, which I shall place on the Web very soon. Meantime,
I thought you should all have the opportunity to read them, so here they
are. I've divided them across two posts to keep the length down. Gerry goes

-- Steve

Gerry Smith wrote:


So I climbed in my Peugeot 2 Litre, and motored away. Leaving the heat and
mediocrity of south east London behind me, I found myself driving through
(mythical?) Ashdown Forest and from there, between the headlands to the
sea, where the South Downs meet the coast. With the wallpaper music of the
radio in the background, I wondered what musical treats Pete would have in
store that evening. I was not to be disappointed! 

Indeed, weep away into your beer and whisky, all you unlucky people (in
exile, or otherwise indisposed) who missed Pete's appearance at Eastbourne
Folk Club last night!  (see MV1317). To a packed room above 'The Crown'
(and coincidentally, on the 25th anniversary to the day of his appearance
at Worthing Pavillion) Pete once again entertained and enthralled with a
two hour set of 18 numbers old and new combined with his sharp and
characteristically self-deprecating sense of humour. 

Pete kicked off with 'Thief In The Night'. Now typical of his solo
performances, the song was delivered with a strict rhythm whilst a strongly
contrasting middle section ("long fingernails that tap a brittle rhythm on
a glass...") gave the rendition an instant lift. An excellent rendition
with both the subtlety and humour of the song coming out to the full. 

And at this gig the guitar really *was* the thief of the night, for it
seems that Pete wasn't entirely happy with the sound balance he was getting
from his keyboard and it was perhaps for this reason that the gig was
heavily guitar oriented. (cf MV passim, 'Payday Evenings', played on piano
in the original recording worked fine on acoustic guitar. It gave the song
a new angle and in some ways added emphasis to the already poignant lyric).
I was particularly impressed with the way Pete managed to transcribe much
of the piano arrangement to guitar. 

Included  in the set were three unreleased numbers. Veteran PA fans would
have recognised the intro to 'Sudden Arrivals', basically a choppy 12 bar
riff that was used as the theme music to the 70's TV show 'The Party's
Moving On', and taken from the seventh album demos. Pete commented that
many of his songs can be construed in the context of an (unwritten) musical
and thus introduced a song called 'Cottonmouth', both a particularly
vicious and uncompromising species of snake, and the character song of the
notional musical's bad guy (with the recurring line "...what a
brain,..absoLUTEly insane"). Towards the end of the first set came the epic
'Eye of the Universe' making its first public outing and widely tipped as
the title track to the long-awaited seventh album. 

I think in general, the evening was a case of 'Pete in
Mellow/humorous/contemplative Mood'. 'Care Charmer Sleep', 'Screen Freak',
'Between Us There Is Nothing', 'Payday Evening', 'Tongue Tied', and (as an
encore) 'The Pearl Driller' were all delivered sensitively to an attentive
audience, whilst 'Practical Man' ,'Errant Knight' and 'Beware of the
Beautiful Stranger' raised the usual laughs with strains of fans singing
along in the background. (Introducing 'Practical Man' Pete said "this is an
entirely true story; only the facts have been changed!").

Breaking the predominantly laid-back tone of the evening Pete made a medley
of 'Luck of the Draw' and 'Where Have they all Gone' beautifully dovetailed
and getting progressively heavier.  The ever popular 'Wristwatch For A
Drummer' again injected some Atkin-style energy into the show, played with
a rhythmic percussiveness which hinted at the tightness of Barry Morgan's
drumming on the RCA recording. Also in heavier vein, and for me one of the
highlights of the evening, was 'Sunlight Gate'. Delivered boldly and
purposefully and with quite a rocky feel, with just an acoustic guitar Pete
delivered a superb rendition of one of my favourite songs. I would not have
thought it possible to deliver this song so evocatively without a brass and
rhythm section, and yet Pete effortlessly matched (and perhaps even
surpassed) the quality of the recorded version. 

I agree wholly with Voice Dave Fisher's comments about Pete's voice. Seeing
Pete live for the first time in over 20 years, Dave commented "the voice
and playing, although unmistakeable, seemed to have developed a richness
that I do not recall." I know Dave will not be alone in thinking this; if a
voice is like a fine wine, it gains body and depth over time, and so it is
with Pete's voice. Dave also comments on the 'passion' with which the songs
were delivered.  Again, I agree.  Perhaps it's just a question of what
comes over in a live performance, as opposed to a recording, but for me
too, there is far more feeling/emotion/humour and overall solidity in
Pete's live performances, than break forth from the turntable or CD. 

I had the pleasure of meeting several MVs at the show, amongst them Dave
Fisher, Richard Corfield, Mark Roberts and Leslie Moss, most of us
recognising each other thanks to Richard's home-made MV badges. It's always
nice to be able to compare notes with other people who you know are 'in the

So thanks to Pete for another memorable evening of superb songs and good
company.  More please....

The set list was as follows :

Set One					Set Two

 1) Thief in the night      		11) Payday Evening	
 2) Care Charmer Sleep      		12) Tongue Tied
 3) Sudden Arrivals         		13) Sunlight Gate
 4) Screen Freak            		14) Perfect Moments
 5) Between Us              		15) Practical Man	
 6) Cotton Mouth		    		16) Wristwatch For A Drummer
 7) Luck of the Draw        		17) BOTBS
 8) Where Have They All Gone		18) Pearl Driller (encore)
 9) Eye of the Universe
10) Errant Knight

Gerry Smith

Date: Fri, 07 Aug 1998 17:18:58 +0100
From: S J Birkill <email address>
Subject: MV1326: Eastbourne - Richard Corfield's review

Now it's Richard's turn.

-- Steve

Richard Corfield wrote:

     At the Crown last night some anorak from Oxford was wandering around
with a badge which read 'Midnight Voices'. He told anybody who'd listen
that he knocked ten up on the work's computer.  
     Jeez, how sad can you get?  
     This ultra-limited edition was the unofficial precursor of the Buxton
Reception Badges that coincidentally arrived even as we were all heading
for Eastbourne. However, this bootleg identification had the desired effect
of precipitating recognition and introduction, and that was how Dave and I
met up. 
     As Dave mentioned, we were deep into anecdotes about when, if ever, we
had last done this (what exactly, Dave?), when a dark-haired
thirty-something walked in with a purposeful air and headed upstairs.  This
precipitated some consternation in the duo of dedicated bar-proppers who
had wanted the best seats for themselves. The dark thirty-something
returned to the bar, and identified himself as Gerry Smith.  
     The three of us sat, drank and talked for a half hour before the music
started. Upstairs in the rather small and crowded venue (extra chairs
having been moved in at the organiser's request) Pete had set up his
keyboard on the tiny stage ('with no wings to escape into' as he was to
wryly observe somewhat later in the evening), and with his acoustic guitar. 
     The first song was Thief in the Night, played on the acoustic. What a
wonderful sound! As the Oxford Anorak had told Dave earlier, he'd never
heard Pete play and this admission to the bard himself, together with the
confidence that 'he'd waited 25 years for this ...' precipitated some
nervousness in the evening's star performer ('Don't say that!'). But the
music and the lyrics came through loud and clear, showing that there is
nothing like hearing it live to make it live (Err, if you see what I
     The evening was peppered with droll gags and one-liners, showing that
the inimitable CJ is not the only one who does the funnys (something they
put in the Cambridge water in the late sixties perhaps?), Pete introduced
Thief with the 'Happy to let you think I wrote them, but in fact many of
them were written by somebody else' line, then, still on the acoustic he
segued straight into Care Charmer Sleep. 
     He followed with Sudden Arrivals, 'the theme tune from an obscure
little TV program in the early seventies' which, incidentally, is also one
of the numbers demo'd on the fabled Seventh Album, and then moved on to a
number which Pete felt he'd handled poorly the last time he sang it. But
this time there were no problems and Screen-Freak generated tears behind at
least one member of the audience's closed eyelids. In this number his voice
came across particularly strongly. It was like listening to it as it was in
the mid-seventies; you remember, when the stereo's valves cranked out the
wattage and your still crystal-mint copy of AKAN had no scratches or
modulation noise? I wonder if this song isn't one of Pete's favourites? To
accompany SF Pete related that it was written while he and CJ both had
rooms in a house in Islington. While Pete was out gigging, Clive had taken
a job as a projectionist as a way of cultivating his growing interest in
films. [As an aside, many of you who have read the third volume of his
Unreliable Memoirs (May  Week was in June) will know that Clive's initial
interest in films was sparked by the western movie 3-10 to Yuma which he
watched, while studying (in the true Oxbridge sense of the word), in
     Next came Between Us There Is Nothing (apparently 'two semitones
higher than I meant it to be...') finishing at 9.26 pm and then it was time
for the evening's second offering from the 7th album demos ('concerning a
very nasty person indeed but to be perverse I'd occasionally write a
bright, cheerful, tune for one of Clive's grimmer lyrics...') Thus the
world premier of Cottonmouth was introduced to a waiting, well, Eastbourne,
with the line 'I don't know how we'd describe our songs except that they've
been strangely unsuccessful...').    
     By this time your two reviewers were racing each other to identify
each song from the opening bar. Somehow the man in front seemed to sense
this and started introducing each number with a melody reminiscent of
something, not just from a different song, but often a different album. A
comparison of Gerry's and my own notes show that number 7 in the set which
we initially identified as Wristwatch was in fact the Luck Of The Draw!
Pete had another surprise here and ran this number directly into Where Have
They All Gone, a song that was strangely unsuccessful in the MV poll but
whose live performance showed clearly that we could all so easily modify
our rankings in the light of forthcoming gigs...  
     Next was the world premier of a hoped-for and very welcome surprise -
a song which was for me the highlight of the evening - 'This is a song that
we never really discussed but I think came out of Clive's developing
interest in TV. It's about information overload...' - and so the Eye Of The
Universe opened, impaling us instantly with its baleful stare. Unlike the
web-site version this one was played on the keyboard and worked well there
     The final piece before the interval 'reflects our interest in history'
For the first time since the mid-seventies the Errant Knight cantered into
view, his MOT now a record 25 years overdue. The number was received by
rapturous applause by all in the audience.   
     After the interval, proceedings restarted with 'a number that I
normally do on piano but for sheer devilment will do tonight on guitar'. It
was Payday Evening, another number that initially sounded like something
else, and which again threw a spanner amongst this reviewer's toiling
mental hard-(soft?)ware. 

     Next, almost exactly at 10.30 pm came 'a very small song, but no less
miserable for that', Tongue Tied. 
     Following hard on its heels (by special request from the more
musically talented of your reviewers i.e. Gerry) was Sunlight Gate.        

     Perfect Moments started and was immediately stalled by a mental
stammer (inflicted by the Eye perhaps?) But Pete caught himself (with only
a little audience prompting) and the song was none the worse although I
think we were all quietly reminded of the effort it takes to sing and play
literate, quality songs for two hours straight.   
     Pete took requests then and Leslie Moss asked for (and got, to my
eternal gratification) Practical Man. Pete took this unexpected request on
the chin and reminded us that there were a hell of lot of verses in it. In
the event he missed only one (Verse 3 - I fixed one chap a show on
telly...), and despite the fact that 'this song is perfectly accurate, only
the facts have been changed,' the song's message got through undimmed.
Agent, know thyself!   
     Then came 'a song that is typically Clive, composed during 1973 while
listening to the Buddy Rich band, if that watch is self-winding it must be
constantly overwound'. But here the tempo was different from the Monyash
version and much closer to the original Morgan studios version (where Barry
Morgan also played the drums), consequently - and remarkably for a guitar
solo - it sounded very similar to the AKAN version. Pete stuttered
marginally on the velvet drapes line but the audience carried him along and
he recovered instantly.   

     To complete the set Pete chose Beware of the Beautiful Stranger
('Canoe's too sad to end on') and for the encore 'like Nanci Griffith,
there's one song on an album that is never played, never asked for, and it
is usually the singer's favourite...' This is a song 'based on the Scottish
pearl-industry' - The Pearl Driller. The set completed at 1105 pm.  
     Pete had sung with one ten minute break for two hours. 
Richard Corfield

Date: Sat, 08 Aug 1998 16:12:56 +0100
From: S J Birkill <email address>
Subject: MV1327: Ian Chippett's Monyash sleeve notes (re MV1294)

Ian doesn't seem to have had much success in persuading any of us to help
him out with his sleeve notes for the Monyash CD.

He's recently sent me notes to three more songs, and these, together with
his first, I've now published on the Web. See:


Anyone else's offerings are still welcome!

-- Steve

Date: Sat, 08 Aug 1998 16:13:00 +0100
From: S J Birkill <email address>
Subject: MV1328 Re: MV1325, 1326 -- Eastbourne Reviews

Gerry's and Richard's reviews are now available on the Web, with links, at:


I will add Richard's photos of the event when they arrive.

-- Steve

Web Digest week 49 (02.08.98, MV1316-1328) ends   | index | prev | next |
Pete Atkin Home | Discography | Julie Covington | Audio Clips | Visitors' Comments | Join Midnight Voices
The discussion forum for fans of Pete Atkin and Clive James,
their works and collaborators on stage, TV, disc and in print.
Midnight Voices          

Midnight Voices, the Pete Atkin and Julie Covington Websites are operated and maintained by Steve Birkill