Went to London yesterday for a gig organised by friend Adrian. It was a warm Spring day and on a whim I went to see an exhibition of Breughel and other Flemish painting at the Queen's Gallery in Buck House. The security made airport security look like Tesco's. On my third going over with the metal detector I even had to remove a chewing gum packet from my pocket; my decision to avoid body piercings was vindicated. it was worth it, though, as the colours on these old masters never quite come over in reproduction. After a pleasant afternoon catching up with an old university friend, I went to the gig – Dr Strangely Strange.
The Strangelies were regarded in late 60's as the Incredble String Band's little brother; they shared the technique of episodic song structures – genre-hopping in one song – and, let's say, a casual approach to rehearsal and recording; in retrospect they didn't have the Celtic mystery, the pantheism or the ambition of the ISB, but they did have a characteristically Irish blend of humour and poetry, elements that tended to be separate in the ISB, but come together in every non-sequitur verse of the Strangelies. Adrian has remastered their first album Kip of the Serenes from the original studio tapes and the band, now in their 60s but not looking it at all, assembled for two nights to perform the entire album in sequence.
(It's the only time I've seen a new album with the blurb sticker including 'Correct Speed' on it: the album was reissued in the 80s but fans comparing it with the vinyl album found it had been mastered at the wrong speed – apparently the result of a technician forgetting to knock the varispeed knob on the old tape machine!)
The venue, a small bar called the Gaffe, was packed with fans, the spirit between the band members was friendly and not over-serious, and a good time was had by all. (There was supposed to be a mystery guest, a very famous Irish rock guitarist, but he couldn't get a babysitter arranged!) It'll be up on YouTube very soon, but for now, here's my pick of the day from the album – Roy Rogers. There's more about the Strangelies in this YouTube documentary.
Free to download - Stories My Killer Told Me: Five surreal story-songs from my Edinburgh Fringe show.
- I Am Not The One For You
- The Ever Open Door
- New Eyes
- A Forest Trail in Autumn
- The Portobello Slam
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