Saturday, 18 February 2012

Part 2 - From Little Things Big Things Grow

  For the next six months Brian, Ali and Pots ate, slept and breathed gardening and music, the boys missed so many meeting of their regular various gardening club meeting that they were eventually stricken from the roll and were considered outcasts even by usually welcoming cactus fanciers. Garden by day, rehearse by night the guys were becoming like a small cult or commando unit, finally totally frustrated by their sons antisocial behaviour their respective parents urged the band to move down to London and ''Get this crazy music idea out of their systems before Spring vegetable harvest began''  Ali's Father found them a squalid one bedroom basement flat in London'd East end with just enough space for their music and potting equipment but it had a rundown glasshouse that they could work on as a project outside of songwriting.

  The lads now began putting the final touches to the first ten songs that would form their first performance and debut album 'Enough Parsnips for the Whole Class?' released in February 1985. Tensions in the flat would often reach boiling point when Brian, a perfectionist with his music would make the band run over the same few bars dozens of times but Pots would also drive the crew crazy with his insistence on correct spacing of tomato seedlings in the greenhouse,and one evening the mood got ugly. ''God Brian! We've been over this song fourteen times today, are we ever going to book gig?'' screamed Ali ''These things take time you can't rush great music, it's like a ripening melon…..''  Brian said calmly ''Yes Brian but we need more space like the space between a tender young tomato plant…'' interrupted Pots '' Time! Space?…I'll give you a ripened melon in your face!'' Ali grabbed a small watermelon Ali's Mother had posted down as a housewarming present from the kitchen counter and hurled right at Brian's head, he just managed to duck in time and all the boys helplessly watched their desert go sailing through the front window and landing in the gnome band that the boys had set up the day before, shattered gnome, watermelon and tiny garden tools flew in all directions.    

  As the boys silently looked at each then the broken window then at each other again Brian proudly piped up with ''Well, I think finally, we are ready'', ''About time!'' Ali exasperatingly quipped ''You don't get much more ready to rock than smashing a gnome village'' Pots said laughing then added ''But what's for desert now?''   

Friday, 10 February 2012

Part 1 - The Sprouting of a Legend

  The year is 1984 and awesome synth pop bands like Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran and Barbra Streisand rule the airwaves but in Bingley a Northern suburb Bradford England a 19 year old Brian Beaverbrook is ready to make his own assault on the hit parade, with gardening as his muse.

  For several years a young Brian had been writing songs in the backyard greenhouse secretly, where not even his parents or his chums from the 'Bingley Boy's Gardeners Squad'  had any idea of his musical talent. Then quite suddenly and spurred on by the prize of a new wheelbarrow, Brian entered Bradford's  'Annual Asparagus Parade & Talent Quest' and swept the judges off their feet with three of his original songs most notably the tune that was set to be his first hit 'You Can Prune Me Back (But I'll just keep loving you)'. Brian not only won the wheelbarrow but won over the hearts of the crowd but watching at the rear of the hall enviously was pumpkin growing enthusiast and bassist Phil (Pots) Hodges and guitarist come landscaper Ali Akkbar, they had been playing music for a short while on their own but realised they needed a strong lead singer to complete the band as well as someone who shared their ideals of fresh home grown produce.

  The two 20 year olds decided to approach Brian and see if he had the right stuff to be of of their gang, band and seed swapping group. ''Hope you're better with a pitchfork than you are with that keyboard!'' Phil said tauntingly as the boys approached Brian after the show, Brian shot the boys a look that meant business and replied '' The amount of fertiliser your face spurts it's no surprise your pumpkins are some of the best in the county'' as he squared up for what he thought was going to be a fist fight, ''What do you mean SOME of?'' Ali said slowly and getting right in Brian's face, after a pause Brian half whispered ''Well, they ain't as good as Mister Webster's on Dobson Street is they?'', brian was now chest to chest with Ali, ''Back off Ali'' said Phil ''This guy really knows his local produce'', Phil and Ali stepped back and started to smile as Brian relaxed a little, ''Look, we saw your act and like your style, want to join a band?''    

Friday, 3 February 2012

Neil's Diamond Years.

  I've just popped in for a quick chat about Neil Diamond. I've been an admirer of some of this songs for a long time but lately a few events in my life have brought him back into my thoughts. Firstly, I've never seen a more effortless performer, that's not to say he isn't putting in effort but the effort applied is totally hidden from the audience. For thirty years it seems neil has paced back and forth, front of stage warbling out his top 20 enormous hits as though it could go on forever. Maybe that's his m.o? Pace yourself is his motto, and could Mr Diamond be the first rock star to have his 100th birthday onstage? I might be hard to find to find the right spot for him to sing happy birthday to himself but he could slip it in between 'September Morn' and 'I Am, I Said' and lose none of the atmosphere he's well known for.

 I think with Neil's longevity and easy lifestyle he does run the risk of outliving his entire audience/band/management/children unless he releases tracks with Kanye West  or the Scissor Sisters really soon which will give birth to a new wave of Neil freak out types and extending his career until his retirement in 2050. I often wonder if Neil strained and struggled angsting over every word and note when writing his songs? Therefore when performing them felt he was very much ''off the hook'' with regards to performance, I hope so. 

  Anyway, it was nice to see him hang up his Elvis impersonator outfits a few years ago, he was starting to get a lot of overflow from The King's fans at his concerts, especially in Las Vegas, which fills auditoriums but doesn't sell merch!