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with Jonny Fun

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Bad Tie Band

Early gig


In their time, the band played just about every major venue in the UK, interviewed and performed on local and national radio and TV, from the Peel show to OGWT, from Radio 1 through Capital Radio to the World Service, and produced five albums and a number of singles. And then to Europe and the US.

The story starts in the '60s, in school bands like the one on the left, that became Wimbledon's White Unicorn, and supported Fairport Convention at Wimbledon Town Hall.

Elvis, the Everly Brothers, The Shadows, Chuck Berry, The Beatles, The Stones, Puff the Magic Dragon, Dylan, nights till dawn trying to impress some girl listening to Simon & Garfunkel. We are talking about guys who are 50+ now. The Suez Crisis was the end of Empire. My grandmother's birthday was Empire Day, then Commonwealth Day, then hardly a day at all.

'We've got a guitar player better than Eric Clapton'. Eric briefly was God. 'God uses Vox amplifiers. A poor recommendation: nobody hears him'. But brand names, the marque, mattered to those who had only a few bob and needed something to look forward to.

Vox was for daft bands like the Dave Clark V, and then retro Rory Gallagher. God used Marshall amplifiers with a warm valve sound. And you would play them at 8 or 9, for 10 was fuzzy. A 'fuzz box' designed for the job was bad form, though other pedals were made OK by Eric. The old Marshalls with black and gold were best. The green ones were tinny. (The BBC used warm valve Vortexion mixers, as The Movies found when they did late-night sessions for the World Service). Roadies were tested by their ability to shift Marshall stacks. A roadie who could carry a 4x12 cabinet under each arm would get the job.

Fender amp catalogues were seriously thumbed, but that kit was pricey, and didn't handle deliberate maltreatment. But the Fender guitar and Fender amp were the classic rhythm sound. Bands that used HiWatt, like the Who, were deeply suspect. Mods. Pah. Modern art-school junk, give me a Triumph and the Ace of Spades.

The best guitar in the world was a 1957 red sunburst Gibson Les Paul. Until Hendrix arrived with a Strat. Gibson necks varied, and the fingerboard had character, i.e. it was liable to wear. 'Humbucking' pickups were hard to beat, and if you were to offer me a choice today between the nice flat-fingerboard Fender and Gibson, I'd take the latter. Especially a L6. Anything else was negligible. Epiphone? Excuse me. For bass, Gibsons were silly, horny, plonky and pop-pop. Fender won on bass.

To follow in the footsteps of Eric, Peter Green, and the others of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers you had to learn the blues vocabulary and how to bend notes, then hold them with vibrato. We spent hours and hours doing this, till our fingers bled. You developed hard pads on the end of your fingers, eventually. Some people pickled their fingers in vinegar. Thin strings were a must, in the first place banjo strings, till the manufacturers latched onto the market. God, how many times did I hear that question from some even younger bloke - 'what strings do you use?'

And then Cambridge, where five future Movies played in two competing (in the best possible taste) bands, Public Foot The Roman - named after one half of a footpath sign - and Thunderbox. Then Wild Oats and the wonderful Iain Cameron and Steve Pheasant. This was a time of May Balls, of student bars, of climbing out of ladies' colleges, or climbing in given the chance.

One very daft event was the recording of Pokey Pokey. Jon set up a studio in the basement of his rented house at the back of Emmanuel College ('Little Pink' was its nickname, and it had hosted the very musical Henry Cow before). Late night, probably on a species of home brew, a reggae version of the Hokey Cokey was born. This was so funny people had to be carried out on stretchers. Yes, home brew. He and Jamie made a tape and got it somehow to one Pete Gage and John Sherry down in London. They fell about, and together Pete and two members of what would be the band made the record in London. (With King Crimson's drummer and Chas of Chas & Dave. Ludicrous). They also did something called the 'Christmas Calypso'. That was quite good - whatever happened to that?

Daft though it was, what happened was the first productive contact between members of the future band and the production and management team that would steer them to the first album.

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