ELECTRIC SHOCK: From the Gramophone to the iPhone, 125 Years of Pop Music by Peter Doggett

On the front and back covers of this book are photographs of couples dancing, on their faces expressions of euphoric delight, rapture even, and any way you look at it, it’s the kind of thing that ought to be stamped out, made unlawful lest such displays taint the God-fearing society in which we live. Well, that’s what generation after generation of moralisers would have you believe. It didn’t happen, of course, and never will, the prudes and puritans forever as powerless to get their own way in these matters as King Canute’s futile attempts to turn back the tide.
         If there is a theme to Peter Doggett’s sprawling, ambitious and quite remarkable 700+ page book, it is simply that in this regard history repeats itself again and again. Each time new and more expressive forms of music are devised the moral guardians throw up their hands in horror and demand its prohibition, which doesn’t happen, even though the music industry often absorbs it, largely neutralising it in the process. From jazz to rap, with rock’n’roll occupying the lion’s share of the outrage in between, ‘hot’ music has been labelled the scourge of mankind, or so many suppose, not least plenty in the music industry who fear for their livelihoods. In 1955 Variety, the US entertainment trade paper, declared that rock’n’roll was “the most destructive force in the country… a lewd, lascivious and larcenous influence on youth”. A major issue, of course, was that rock’n’roll was and remains multi-racial and thus had the effect of bringing blacks and whites together. In the UK the Daily Mail, then and now a bastion of prurient moral values, was not slow to pick up on this point: “It is deplorable. It is tribal. It follows ragtime, blues, jazz, hot cha-cha and the boogie-woogie, which surely originated in the jungle. We sometimes wonder whether this is the negro’s revenge.”
         Beyond this recurrent motif, Electric Shock is Doggett’s bold attempt to tell the whole story of popular music, ‘from the gramophone to the iPhone’ as the sub-title reminds us, and this means that concurrent with developments in music, presented more or less chronologically from the late 19th Century to the present day, is a history of the technology, from tubes to discs made from shellac and vinyl to tapes to CDs and, finally, digital tools. The relationship between the two – music and the means whereby it can be heard – is paramount, each feeding the other, and very early on Doggett makes the important point that until the invention of recorded sound, all music was simply a performance that was immediately lost once it was over. As noted by the white terrier that recognised his master’s voice coming from the trumpet of an ancient record player, once a sound could be captured whoever made that sound would live forever.
         But it’s the music history that fascinates more. Once the earliest recordings are out of the way, Doggett claims with some justification that rock’n’roll actually began with Clarence ‘Pinetop’ Smith’s 1928 recording of ‘Pine Top’s Boogie Woogie’ and, being unfamiliar with this tune, I checked for myself and discovered he was right. Dynamics and presentation aside, it’s not that different from Fats Domino or even Jerry Lee Lewis. Thereafter my progress in reading the book was impeded by countless visits to my lap top to check out this or that piece of music I was reading about, at least until we reached Elvis, especially Bessie Smiths ‘I’m Wild About That Thing’ which Doggett brazenly cites as an example of a blues recording that “made a shameless declaration of how it felt to fuck, and want to be fucked”. This was clearly worth a listen regardless of how it might impact on my morals.
         Although Doggett nails his colours to the mast in the acknowledgements, conceding his lifetime affair with Crosby, Stills & Nash (and, knowing him as I do, their ancestral forebears, plus Bob Dylan and Neil Young), he leaves them at the door once his book reaches the rock era, especially when considering popular music that divides opinion, usually between combative critics and mainstream fans. Due attention is thus afforded to the soundtrack albums of musicals by Rodgers & Hammerstein that vied with Elvis in the 1950s and, more especially, to The Sound Of Music that occupied the upper reaches of the charts alongside The Beatles a decade later. Similarly, it may have been hard for a writer of his critical perception to devote equal space to the likes of Engelbert Humperdinck, Vince Hill and Ken Dodd (and even, in earlier chapters to the likes of Mantovani, Ray Coniff and James Last), as he does to groups like The Beatles, Stones and Who but he swallows his inclinations and manages it – no mean feat for someone who’s seen as many Dylan concerts as I have Who shows. Indeed, on a relative basis compared to their fame and achievements, very little space is devoted to either The Beatles or Dylan or, for that matter, David Bowie, all of whom Doggett has written about extensively in the past.
         The book is full of entertaining titbits like how the BBC’s first Director General John Reith, a man whose principles were carved in granite, refused to allow song titles to be mentioned on the radio lest it be interpreted as a form of advertising. And who knew that the expression Whiskey A Go Go, as in the name of numerous rock clubs, translates as Whiskey Galore, borrowed from the title of a novel by Compton Mackenzie that became a popular Ealing comedy?
         Also, anyone assuming that record companies reselling the same music again and again in different formats is a practice that came in with CDs in the 1980s is directed to a passage in which Doggett informs us that in the early 1950s “many early LPs were simply collections of previously released 78s, repackaged as a ‘gift’ to the artists’ fans… [and]… to explore the extended landscape of the 12-inch disc, they embarked on another round of creative marketing, by adding a handful of additional tracks to their existing ten-inch albums and presenting them as new product.”
         There can be no question that the amount of research Doggett undertook to produce this extensive history was gargantuan, especially as regards music from the pre-Elvis era. A read through the 14-page bibliography confirms as much, and heaven only knows how many hundreds of tracks he listened to along the way. As noted, I found myself checking out bits of music time and again, especially where Doggett finds antecedents of rock or simply eulogises. These included Artie Shaw’s ‘Begin The Beguine’ (1938) “which has often been proposed as one of the finest American records of the century” and which is indeed lovely, and Tommy Dorsey’s ‘Well Git It’ (1943) which after a meandering intro explodes into life, detonated by a drummer attacking his kit in the manner of Keith Moon, to be followed by raucous horns over pulsating rhythms. It was regarded as a novelty on release but it was rock’n’roll over 10 years before the arrival of Bill Hayley and Elvis.
         There is great attention to detail throughout, information overload almost, including many fascinating footnotes and the use of different fonts on chapter headings that reflect typography from the various eras. Nor does Doggett limit his investigations to the US and UK, visiting South America to discover how Latin rhythms influenced popular music everywhere and Europe to explore how French romanticism and German shlager made their presence felt.
         Neither is the influence of drugs overlooked, with the case for (creatively inspiring) and against (but deadly) left open, and I was fascinated to learn that as long ago as 1943 Time magazine declared that marijuana was no more harmful than alcohol and was “less habit forming than tobacco, alcohol or opium”, an opinion with which I concur. Nevertheless the police disagreed, and two years later raided jazz clubs on New York’s 52nd street to the extent that one club manager decided it was less trouble to re-open as a strip joint than to continue presenting jazz.
         Each and every genre is visited, every type of jazz dissected, preceded by ragtime and followed by the crooners and easy listening merchants, until we reach rock, heavy and soft, through glam and the American AOR boom in the mid-seventies, which has never really gone away, to the almost concurrent stirrings of hip hop and rap taking place in New York’s Bronx; from Northern Soul, reggae and disco to electro pop, punk and new wave; from house to thrash, acid and grunge to Britpop via the emergence of MTV, charity shows that emulate Live Aid and, finally, X-Factor and boybands. In truth, having spent the past 40 years immersed in rock and pop, I was more fascinated by the early chapters than those that dealt with the music and music industry with which I am very familiar, but Doggett is never less than illuminating, a largely unprejudiced observer with a keen eye for detail and the means by which music is turned into money.
         Now and then, however, I found myself shaking my head when Doggett’s resolutely objective stance slipped a little. Having brilliantly and succinctly summed up Michael Jackson’s post-Thriller career by stating that “he was unable to progress in any field apart from fame”, a page later he tears into Bruce Springsteen by implying in a roundabout way that he’s written nothing new since Born In The USA, completely ignoring the heart-stopping live shows he has continued to stage for the last 30 years. And while we’re at it I was disappointed that in a lengthy passage devoted to synthesisers in Chapter 25, he failed to identify Pete Townshend’s pioneering work in this field on Who’s Next. Similarly, I would take issue with his statement that after switching from the independent I.R.S. label to Warner Bros R.E.M.’s sales “went into steep decline” when in reality the two biggest selling albums of their career were Out Of Time (1991) and Automatic For The People (1992), both released on Warners.
         Reaching the end, I couldn’t help but feel I’d read a very long obituary, a rather sad and resigned tribute to 125 years of music that struggles in the modern era, much like shops in moribund city centres. This, of course, stems principally from the arrival of digital downloading and internet file sharing which blew aside hitherto unquestioned assumptions about copyright protection, in the process dealing the music industry a lethal blow. By this time the tone of the writing had taken on a sense of regret – the penultimate chapter, largely about X-Factor and the like, is titled The Murder Of Music – that contrasted sharply with the more upbeat mood of much of what came before, at least until the 1990s. In Doggett’s view this can also be attributed to too much music being available today – as opposed to the gradual growth of available music during the second half of the 20th Century – and what Doggett identifies as a consequent “loss of perspective” for today’s consumers. The upside of this is that “rock no longer divides generations – it unites them” as I have had cause to discover, to my immense pleasure, with my own son and daughter, 48 and 45 years my junior respectively.
         Of more import to me, however, is the creative concern: that popular music in the 21st Century, competing as it does with so many other attractions, doesn’t mean anywhere near as much to teens and twenties as it did for me in my youth, and it never will again. That the effect of this is to stifle imagination is, for someone like me who’s grown up with rock as a soundtrack to life, heart-breaking. I think it is for Peter Doggett too, horrified as he was one day to hear the music of Bob Dylan, music that once bestowed upon him an electric shock, piped into malls as meaningless background accompaniment to shopping.
         I share his disillusionment and commend his book.  


TUNING IN AGAIN – Mark Lewisohn & The Beatles

Monday evening and to Kings Place near King’s Cross Station where Mark Lewisohn, the world’s foremost Beatle historian and biographer, is in conversation with music writer and editor David Hepworth, the occasion to mark the publication last month of the softback edition of Tune In, Volume 1 of All These Years, Mark’s monumental Beatles biography, which I reviewed at length here on March 4, 2014 (http://justbackdated.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/tune-in-overview.html). It was also no coincidence that 53 years ago on this day, October 5, ‘Love Me Do’, The Beatles’ first single, was released.
         Tune In was first published in the autumn of 2013 as a de-luxe two-volume cased edition as well as an abridged single edition which, at over 960 pages, suggests a generous interpretation of the abridging process. It is, in fact, the first of three such packages, this initial one covering The Beatles’ lives up to the end of 1962 when they were on the cusp of becoming the greatest entertainment phenomenon in popular music history. Volume 2, when it arrives, will probably take in the years 1963-1966, with Volume 3 taking The Beatles from 1967 to 1974 when the partnership was formally dissolved, though I think Mark is still a bit unsure quite where Volume 2 will stop and Volume 3 begin. He’s also playing it safe on when Volume 2 will be published, suggesting 2020 as the prospective year, let alone making predictions about Volume 3, though it’s likely the gap between these two will be shorter because he’s been able to research them both together, unlike the more detached research concerning The Beatles’ childhoods and early years that was required for Volume 1. 

Beneath this photograph of The Beatles on the rubble of Saltney Street, taken on September 28, 1962, Mark began the evening with a reading from the book; a passage about Pat Moran, the group’s first ever fan who in 1960 defied her strict Catholic father and befriended Paul, John and George, delivering much needed food to the disgustingly filthy flat where they lived in Gambier Terrace near Liverpool Cathedral. Pat had seen them play around Liverpool and in their demeanour, their cockiness and the music they performed recognised the qualities that three years later took them to the toppermost of the poppermost, as John put it. Paul wrote to Pat, thanking her, and Mark traced her through the auction house where, in the 1990s, she sold the letters. “She really was the first fan,” said Mark, “the first of millions.”
         Thereafter the evening settled into a conversation between Hepworth and Mark that centred largely on his research methods and the many strange coincidences that crop up in the Beatles’ story. As regards the former there is little doubt that Mark leaves no stone unturned in his quest for information and, occasionally, comes upon a goldmine, such as happened when he traced Brian Epstein’s Liverpool solicitor who had a huge box of hitherto unseen correspondence between them. Mark’s major regret, of course, has been the sad death of Neil Aspinall, the group’s original roadie, eventual manager and closest advisor for five decades. Aspinall, who never gave an interview while in the Beatles’ employ, was prepared to reveal all to Mark and had begun to do so shortly before he passed on. One issue that Aspinall impressed upon Mark was that the order in which the names of the four Beatles are traditionally rendered – John, Paul, George & Ringo – came about because of the order in which they joined the group, John inviting Paul to join, Paul suggesting George and George favouring Ringo. Another was how the need to keep evolving kept them together, even before they made their first record. “They never wanted to do the same thing twice,” said Mark. “If that was happening then they’d have split up at any time.”
         As regards the coincidences, those who’ve read Tune In will be familiar with the almost supernatural twists of fate that litter their career. Among a few that Mark spoke of was the occasion in late 1962 when Paul hitched to London with his girlfriend and, having spent an evening at Peter Cook’s Establishment Club, crashed out on the floor of a flat now occupied by their Liverpool friend Ivan Vaughan. Aware that this was the weekend when Paul began writing ‘I Saw Her Standing There’, Mark was determined to find out precisely where this flat was. This wasn’t easy but when he did – through an Electoral Roll – he discovered, bizarrely, that it was in the same block of flats in Great Portland Street where George Martin had received oboe lessons from Margaret Asher 15 years earlier. She and Dr Richard Asher raised their family there before moving to nearby Wimpole Street where Paul, of course, resided for two years after their daughter Jane became his girlfriend in 1963.
         After answering a few questions from the audience Mark finished the evening with another reading, this one from the closing passage in Tune In. Somehow or other the stars were aligned for The Beatles as 1962 drew to a close. “We were the best fucking group in the goddamned world,” said John later. “And believing that is what made us what were … We thought we were the best in Hamburg and Liverpool, and it was just a matter of time before everyone else caught on.” 


DAVID GILMOUR – Rattle That Lock

It was probably a coincidence but on Friday night I watched David Gilmour on Later... With Jules Holland and on Saturday morning I dropped a few old shirts off at the charity shop in East Horsley, the same one where I’ve picked up the odd CD for £1 over the years. So after handing over the shirts I skimmed the shelf of CDs and found Echoes, the 26-track Pink Floyd ‘best of’ compilation for a very affordable £1.50. Reasoning that this investment was at least on a par with the £1.25 I’d just spent on a loaf of bread, I slapped down my money and listened to it as I drove around doing other bits of shopping, everything from ‘See Emily Play’ to post-Waters stuff, an absolute bargain even though I have most of the track spread across other Floyd CDs at home.
         The next day, inspired by Gilmour’s turn on Later…, I decided to invest in his new solo album Rattle That Lock, a snip at £10 in Sainsbury’s, and, with Floyd gems like ‘Shine On…’ and ‘Comfortably Numb’ still ringing in my ears from the previous day, was reassured by the very first note I heard after I’d slipped it into the CD player. That single note, played on an electric guitar, probably a black Strat, high pitched and sustained with absolute clarity for a few seconds, introduced an instrumental wash of elegant beauty and was sufficient to identify Gilmour as the man behind the album, his fourth from behind the cloak of Pink Floyd and certainly his most ambitious. The 10 songs on Rattle That Lock certainly have an echo of Pink Floyd about them, though they lack some of the majesty and occasional sense of doom that sprang from Roger Waters’ disillusionment, Rick Wright’s vast keyboard palette and Nick Mason’s fat dumpling drums. Nevertheless Gilmour’s songs have a beauty all of their own and have been recorded to the same high degree of technical perfection that informed the group that passed into history with the sad death of Rick Wright in 2008.
         About half the songs on the album feature lyrics written by Gilmour’s wife, the novelist Polly Sampson, who is photographed giving her husband a goodbye hug on a train station as he sets off with a guitar case for places unknown. One of them, ‘A Boat Lies Waiting’, features harmonies from David Crosby and Graham Nash, and is dedicated to Wright, while another, the atypical ‘The Girl In The Yellow Dress’, is top-end cocktail jazz introduced by a stand-up bass. Most of the songs, though, feature Gilmour’s breathy voice on sweeping songs about life’s passing uncertainties and, as is to be expected, highlight his eloquent guitar, those power-streaked rumbling solos that start low and end high, unmistakeably him, the same effortless, silky technique that graced so many Floyd tracks.
         The album is bookended by instrumental pieces, the opener seeping into aural consciousness from nowhere until that opening signature note rings out, the closer drifting away into silence. This, too, was a Floydian trait, and though that group may be no more, Rattle That Lock is the next best thing.



I think it’s safe to say that absolutely everyone in the music business, from the megastars and their managers to the roadies who carry their amps on stage, from the CEOs of record companies to messenger boys delivering promo CDs, from DJs and the editors of music mags down to humble bloggers like me, were fans first and music biz professionals second – at least they were when I was in the thick of it. Nevertheless, if it wasn’t for the genuine fans, the ones who didn’t find their way into the business, there wouldn’t have been a music business in the first place – no one would have gone to the Cavern to see The Beatles or the Goldhawk to see The Who and no one would have cheered Florence and the Machine at this year’s Glastonbury or bought whichever album tops the charts right now.
         I was therefore pleased to be asked this week to become involved with a BBC series called The People’s History of Pop which is due to air in 2016, and hopes to tell the story of British popular music from the point of view of the fans – as opposed to talking heads like the stars themselves, DJs and music writers.
         “We’re really keen to get memories of real music fans,” wrote Rebecca Stewart from the team producing the series. “This is a chance to tell the story of British music from the real fans’ point of view.
         Leaving aside for a moment the contradiction that I’ve been a professional music writer now since 1968 and dabbled in the business in all sorts of ways, I was happy to agree and promptly sent them a scan of my postcard from John Lennon, together with a note explaining how I came to receive it.
         Of course the real reason why Rebecca e-mailed me was to get me to use my FB page and Just Backdated blog to encourage others to send in their memories and memorabilia so that it might be used on the programme and, again, I’m happy to do so. This looks like a promising project and the link below tells you all about it, while the second link leads to material that has already been sent in – loads of it from fans.

I still am a fan, of course, and always will be, otherwise I wouldn’t have so many songs on my iPod that I listen to all the time and occasionally write about. Some of the happiest, most heart-warming moments of my life have been when I’ve been surrounded by genuine fans of rock musicians, most especially The Who, all of them wanting me to share my close-encounter experiences which I am always happy to do. Also, 30-odd years at Omnibus Press has taught me that fans – the really dedicated ones that is – almost always know more about an act than the act itself, let one those that toil on their behalf.
         Both the links above explain how to get involved. 



The first time I did one of these posts, on June 2 last year, there were 14,896 songs on my iPod. Today there are 16,421, signifying that in 485 days I’ve acquired 1,525 songs, or 3.14 songs a day, coincidentally the value of Pi. Seems my addiction to music is as strong as ever, fed now by iTunes as well as traditional outlets like Fop at Cambridge Circus and Sister Ray on Broadwick Street, the odd charity shop near where we live in Surrey and, shamefully I know, mail order through Amazon. All of which makes the shuffle selection on the train between Guildford and Waterloo more and more varied, so it was a bit of a surprise that this morning’s assortment was almost all Grade A and, what's more, immediately recognisable.
         First up was Elvis Presley singing ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’, as sincere and lovely a ballad as he ever recorded, even though 1961’s Blue Hawaii, the film and album for which it was recorded, signalled the beginning of an artistic decline that would not be arrested until 1968. In 1985 I saw Springsteen sing this song at Wembley Stadium, prefacing it with a story about how he once climbed over the Graceland wall in a futile attempt to see Elvis, only to be turned away by a security guard. “Elvis,” he said, “showed us the promise of life,” or words to that effect, adding, “It’s easy to let the best of yourself slip away.” 80,000 of us then joined in the chorus.
         Then came The Who, Roger introducing Keith who in his best toff accent introduces ‘Squeeze Box’, cheery and lascivious but not one of my favourite Who songs. This version, recorded live at Swansea Football Ground on June 12, 1976, is one of the bonus tracks on the reissued Who By Numbers from 1996, and sees The Who on good form, with Pete improvising a slightly untidy ‘wonder-what-I’ll-play-next’ solo and, at the end, telling his Welsh fans how nice it is to be playing while the sun goes down.
         Next up is Bill Haley and his Comets singing that old chestnut ‘Rock Around The Clock’. It’s difficult nowadays to imagine the impact that this well-worn and rather cheesy song had on the world when it was a UK hit in 1955, but history tells us that it inspired Teddy Boys to slash cinema seats, thus causing what may well have been the first of far too many backlashes against rock’n’roll music. “Ban it,” screamed the uptight self-appointed guardians of our morality. King Canute tried to do the same thing with the tide. I saw Bill once, late in his career, at the Venue in Victoria, early 1980s, and he was struggling. A bit sad really.
         He is followed by Anita Bryant singing ‘Till There Was You’ from a Mojo cover-mount CD called The Roots Of Paul McCartney. This song, of course, comes from the 1957 musical The Music Man and was covered by The Beatles on their second album, a bit of an oddity really and probably not to John’s liking. As it happens the same song appears on the cover-mount CD on this month’s Mojo too, this one entitled Songs The Beatles Taught Us, so our premier music magazine isn’t above selling us the same music twice just as record labels do, though I suppose they could defend themselves by claiming they are giving it away.
         The distinctive sound of Jeff Beck’s guitar followed, ‘Morning Dew’ from the JB Group era with Rod on vocals. A much covered song that I always admired, the JBG’s version is quite restrained, with Beck contributing a typically mid-sixties wah-wah solo and a tasteful, lyrical sign off on guitar that reminded me a bit of the way Jimmy Page closes Zep’s ‘Rain Song’. Heaven forbid that Jimmy should take a cue from his old mate Jeff!
         Equally restrained were the Manic Street Preachers on ‘This Sullen Welsh Heart’ which sounds like it should be one of their righteously angry songs about poverty in the valleys but instead sees James Dean Bradfield crooning along to his acoustic guitar, joined by Lucy Rose on the chorus. For many years I felt deeply hostile towards the Manics, the direct result of Nicky Wire’s offensive comments about John Lennon and Michael Stipe, but eventually I put that down to immaturity and the need to create a headline, so I’ve softened and nowadays enjoy their music a lot. I enjoyed this too.
         There follows what can only be described as an interlude, ‘Harmonic Necklace’ by The Penguin Cafe Orchestra, a brief series of chords played either on a harmonium or an electric guitar on which a chord is strummed while the volume is adjusted, very soothing, unlike U2 who followed, a song called ‘Tomorrow’ from their second LP October, released back in 1981, and for which I will turn to Bill Graham, the Irish writer who sadly passed on in 1996, who in his U2 Music Guide that I commissioned wrote that this track… “most encapsulates what was bad and good about U2 at this point. For the first time in their career, U2 fly the flag for Irish music as Vinnie Kilduff’s uilleann pipes cast off for the skies. Scenic, cinematic and Bono’s singing is appropriately soulful but then at mid-point the mood is killed and the spell is lost as the rest of the band crudely clatter in and the tempo changes to a sprint. Bono justified this change through the lyric which moved from haunted memories of his mother’s funeral to the theme of fear and violence in Northern Ireland. But, typically for a young band, U2 were still prone to mistakenly and automatically equate passion with rock’n’roll velocity.” Bill Graham introduced U2 to their manager Paul McGuinness and, although always a fan, maintained a distance that was admired by everyone. I was certainly pleased when he wrote this objective book for Omnibus about the band that meant so much to him. There is a wonderful report on his funeral, at which Bono was a pallbearer, from the Irish Times on Gavin Friday’s website: http://gavinfriday.com/1996/05/11/bill-graham-dies-howth/
         We moved on to Martha & The Vandellas giving it their all on ‘Come And Get These Memories’, unmistakably Motown with its fab dance beat, followed by Bruce singing ‘When You Need Me’ from his Tracks box set. This was a Tunnel Of Love outtake recorded in early 1987, a power ballad with predictable changes but Bruce has a way with this kind of song that lends it a profundity that others would be unable to impart. I’ll be there for you, sings Bruce with a good deal more understating than the theme from Friends, steadfast and true as the song rolls along.
         This is followed by ‘So Far Away’ by Carole King from her mega-selling Tapestry album, a sturdy piano ballad that closes on what sounds like a flute solo, and ‘Wooly Bully’ by Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs, a novelty record certainly but a great one all the same, a number two US hit in 1965. Lots of fun, with a nice leap into the reedy sax solo. “It’s the thing to do. Watch it watch it!”
         Heading through Clapham Junction Sam’s 12-bar romp gives way to country picking maestro Albert Lee who, backed by his band Hogan’s Heroes, offers up ‘Till I Gain Control Again’, a country-style ballad by Rodney Crowell, first recorded by Emmylou Harris in 1975, when Albert shared guitar duties with the great James Burton in her Hot Band. This is simply lovely, from a live double CD recorded in Paris that I cannot recommend highly enough, impeccable guitar playing as you might expect, not just from Albert but also from pedal steel player Gerry Hogan. A few years ago I attended an Albert Lee Guitar Master Class in Guildford and watched spellbound as he ran through his favourite licks for an audience of musicians. First he’d played one slow, nice and easy, then do it in real time. Magic – and a lovely, humble man too.
         The train was heading through Vauxhall and approaching Waterloo as ‘Till I Gain Control Again’ was followed by ‘She Belongs To Me’, Dylan, from Bringing It All Back Home. Fabulous, and needs no comment from me, other than I paused it at 0.37 and look forward to the rest when I head home tonight.


DAVE RAWLINGS MACHINE – Nashville Obsolete

Starved of new music from the delightful but stingy pen of Gillian Welch, the new album by musical partner Dave Rawlings and his Machine seems like the next best thing – but it’s not exactly a barrel of laughs. Nashville Obsolete offers just seven songs, all bar two of which creep along at snail’s pace, by and large echoing the mood of the dour quartet on the cover who look like they’ve just seen a ghost, especially Welch in her ankle-length antique white dress and an expression of sheer terror on her face.
         While 2009’s A Friend Of A Friend, Rawling’s first offering beyond the shadow of Welch, was a relatively sprightly affair, Nashville Obsolete is rambling and oblique, troubled and less easy to befriend. The songs are long and loquacious, most extending beyond the five minute mark with ‘The Trip’ more than twice that, its verses sung-spoken as a weary lament that is only allayed by a gorgeous lilting chorus to which Welch adds impeccable harmony. I particularly liked the line: ‘There’s a picture of an old black man in a beaver hat. He wears a hidden smile and a pair of white spats.’
         The tenor of opener ‘Weekend’, too, is lightened by its chorus, but don’t expect Rawlings and Welch to be anticipating the end of the week like, say, Eddie Cochran. Their Saturdays and Sundays aren’t much fun really, and neither are women with short hair, whom Rawlings advises against falling for in the slightly spooky ‘Short Haired Woman Blues’.
         The sense of doom is relieved only by ‘The Last Pharoah’, at 3.30 the shortest song on offer, which at least skips along with a rhythmic pulse, and the throwaway, somewhat silly, romp, ‘Candy’, with its ambiguous insinuation that Rawlings and Welch might be singing about a sweet or a girl or, indeed, a sweet girl. A jig of the kind that this pair can rattle off in their sleep, it’s a companion piece to ‘Sweet Tooth’ from Rawlings’ earlier album which I actually played for my bemused dentist a year or two ago.
         The record closes on another atmospherically unhappy saga, ‘Pilgrim’, and while there’s a chance that Rawlings is being tongue-in-cheek in his desolation, the mood throughout does seem to echo the pair’s disenchantment with both relationships and the world in which we live. Welch, of course, co-wrote all the material and is adept at conjuring up a similar ambience, usually suggestive of struggles borne by dirt-poor Americans in the Great Depression. Hereabouts, although a keening old fiddle often adds to the gloom, the despair seems a tad more current.
         Fortunately, that unique Rawlings signature guitar sound remains intact. To my ears his flatpicking on frets high up the scale sounds at times like a mandolin with single strings or, on the lower notes, like a fretted cello. I am hard pressed to think of any other acoustic player whose tone is so immediately recognisable, as it was here from the very first notes of ‘The Weekend’. I would guess, too, that he has a few John Fahey albums in his collection.
         Rawlings and his Machine are touring the US right now, with Welch as part of the band alongside Paul Kowert on bass, Brittnay Hass on fiddle, Willie Watson on guitar and Jordan Tice on mandolin, though mandolin duties are occasionally shared with John Paul Jones. Welch plays the drums, as she does – sparingly – on the new album. For the sake of any manic depressives in the audience, I can only hope the shows offer a broader range of material, or that the live renditions of these new songs are spruced up a bit.
         It is now four year’s since Welch’s The Harrow And The Harvest, so we’re overdue another from her which I anticipate eagerly. On the pictures in Nashville Obsolete’s booklet, some of which were taken by the noted photographer Henry Diltz, it looks like she’s dyed a few strands at the front of her hair blonde. I doubt she’ll cut it short though. 


THE WHO - The Track Singles

Regular readers of my Who posts on Just Backdated, and there must be a few of you, will be aware that I have contributed the liner notes to the box set of 7-inch vinyl Track singles that is being released at the end of October. It is the third in the series, with similar boxes of Brunswick (eight discs) and Reaction (five, including the Ready Steady Who EP) singles already released and a fourth, the Polydor singles, yet to be scheduled. Mark Blake wrote the notes in the Brunswick and Reaction boxes and Matt Kent is lined up for the slightly more difficult task of writing about the later singles, of which there are 15, the same as the Track box. I think I had the pick of the bunch by writing about the Track records, though I’m probably not alone in believing that The Who rarely put a foot wrong in the sixties.         
Anyone assuming that record companies reselling the same music again and again in different formats is a practice that came in with CDs in the eighties is directed to page 210 of Electric Shock, Peter Doggett’s new and first-rate history of popular music, which I will be reviewing on Just Backdated in due course. At the start of the fifties, writes Peter, “many early LPs were simply collections of previously released 78s, repackaged as a ‘gift’ to the artists’ fans… [and]… to explore the extended landscape of the 12-inch disc, they embarked on another round of creative marketing, by adding a handful of additional tracks to their existing ten-inch albums and presenting them as new product.”
So reselling the same music again and again has been ongoing since the introduction of the 12-inch album and everyone is guilty, of course, not least The Who. Nowadays, however, the practise has been upgraded to a degree, insofar as the music of heritage acts is being repackaged in limited edition collectable sets, in many cases facsimiles of earlier vinyl releases, hence the presentation boxes of Who singles. They are, quite simply, nice things to own.
Well, my copy arrived last Thursday and very nice it is too, a sturdy box in the same shade of navy blue as the picture sleeve for ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’, slightly lighter than the sleeve for the Tommy EP. All the singles from ‘Pictures Of Lily’ to ‘5.15’ are present and correct, including (to my surprise) the ‘See Me Feel Me’/’Overture’ single that was released and withdrawn in October 1970 in favour of the EP that came out two months later. Designer Richard Evans has paid scrupulous attention to detail, even down to spelling John’s name wrongly (as Entwhistle) in the composer credit for ‘Doctor Doctor’ on the B-side of ‘Lily’, as it was on the original single. They all have black Track labels barring ‘5.15’ which is silver, again like the original, and have plain white sleeves except for the Tommy EP and ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ which had a picture sleeve with a shot of the four lads from the same David Montgomery photo session as the well known pic that appears here on the front of the booklet.
And they sound fantastic! Even on my budget record player, the sound of The Who at their very best comes zinging out of the tiny speakers at either side and, of course, seriously rattles the brain on cans. I played most of them yesterday afternoon, hoping that the far-from-new needle wouldn’t harm them, and – perhaps inevitably – pride of place goes to ‘I Can See For Miles’, with ‘Pinball’ and ‘Fooled Again’ running The Who’s 1967 masterpiece a close second and third. In a note at the back of the booklet, our attention is drawn to the fact that Jon Astley remastered the tracks from the original mixes at half-speed “in the way that early Motown records were cut”. This evidently gives a better finish because the cutting head is moving about more slowly so it has more time to give a more detailed, less distorted, record with a much smoother top end.
As for the booklet, modesty precludes me from commenting on the notes but the design features contemporaneous adverts for the singles as well as a few facsimiles of interesting memorabilia, including the form on the back of the IBC Studio tape box for ‘Moon Blues Song’, on which someone has helpfully written ‘became known as Dogs 2’. Keith is actually the only member of The Who whose photograph appears inside the booklet, twice actually – once atop his ‘Lily’ kit and looking very fetching in his blonde wig and corset promoting ‘WGFA’.
So just to round off this report on the Track Singles Box Set, here’s what I had to say about the final single in the collection, ‘5.15’, with a scan below of the actual single in the box.

A: 5.15
(Townshend) © 1973 Fabulous Music Ltd.
Produced by The Who.

B: Water
Written by Pete Townshend. © 1970 Fabulous Music Ltd.
Produced by The Who, associate producer Glyn Johns.

Track 2094 115. Released 5 October 1973 it reached Number 20.

Produced by The Who at The Kitchen, Battersea, June 27, 1973, ‘5.15’ is the best-known song on Quadrophenia, Pete’s second major rock opera and The Who’s sixth original album. Quadrophenia is the story of the journey of a Mod by the name of Jimmy, whose restlessness, frustration and ultimate disillusionment drive him almost to suicide. It takes in many Mod concerns – clothes, style, Brighton trips, pills and even a Who concert – and ends on a note of triumph when Jimmy somehow manages to free himself from the shackles of the cult. It is now probably best known for the 1979 cult film starring Phil Daniels.
         As a unified piece of music it was always going to be tricky slicing off a single from Quadrophenia but ‘5.15’ – which describes Jimmy’s extra-sensual experiences on a train from London to Brighton sandwiched between two city gents – was the best choice. “He goes through a not entirely pleasant series of ups and downs as he thinks about the gaudier side of life as a teenager that we see in newspapers like the News Of The World,” said Pete. 
         Opening with a brief ethereal meander, ‘5.15’ soon settles into a memorable riff, emphasised by a horn section, before returning to its dreamlike state. With lyrics about “girls of fifteen sexually knowing” and being “out of my brain on a train” it invited the attention of social activist Mary Whitehouse, the permissive society’s worst enemy, but she was evidently looking the other way at the time. However, ‘5.15’ was probably too raw to be a serious chart contender, but listen out for Keith imitating the sound of train wheels decelerating, an effect he repeated when The Who performed ‘5.15’ live, which they often did.
         Invited to promote the song on the 500th edition of Top Of The Pops on October 3, The Who disgraced or – depending on your point of view – distinguished themselves by smashing their equipment (Pete wrecked a lovely orange Gretsch Tennessean, a gift from Joe Walsh), abusing the producer Robin Nash and misbehaving in the Green Room, thus earning a ban from the BBC staff club that was lifted after Track sent a letter of apology.
         In later years, a spectacular bass solo from John was incorporated into ‘5.15’, and this continued whenever it was performed live right up to John’s death in 2002. Thereafter, using film and audio footage (from a charity show at London’s Royal Albert Hall on November 27, 2000) of John synchronised with the live group, it was retained for Who concerts dedicated to Quadrophenia and for some shows on the ‘Who Hits 50’ tour in 2014/5.
         Produced by Pete at Eel Pie Studios during the spring of 1970, ‘Water’ is an overlong, rather heavy-handed rocker; another Lifehouse reject that mixes a rather lascivious hook line (‘water’ rhymes with ‘daughter’ throughout) with an allegory suggesting water as the cure to quench spiritual thirst. Often played on stage in 1970 and ’71, it seemed destined for inclusion on whatever album would follow Tommy. Eventually Pete came up with several far better songs, and despite several stage comments at various shows during 1970/71 announcing it as an imminent Who single, ‘Water’ was abandoned, only to resurface as the B-side of ‘5.15’.



Cardross Street

Nasmyth Street in Hammersmith, where I lived in the eighties, runs parallel to Cardross Street, a lovely little narrow backstreet with two-up-two-down terraced cottages that once housed working families. It is in the heart of what estate agents now call Brackenbury Village and these tiny houses, probably bought for less than £2,000 in the 1950s, now sell for a million, give or take a hundred grand either way depending on their condition. I used to walk down Cardross Street fairly regularly in those days on my way to the Andover Arms and I took note of their condition: invariably the ones that looked a bit shabby were those occupied by elderly people and sooner or later they’d come up for sale; the hearse followed by a skip and scaffolding. In rock’n’roll terms ‘the hearse followed by the skip’ can sometimes, regrettably, be translated as ‘the obit followed by the sale’. 
         This week I received from Sothebys the catalogue for a Rock & Pop sale to be held on September 29, and pride of place is given to the Jack Bruce Collection, so less than a year after Jack passed away (on October 25, 2014) his heirs have been obliged to unburden themselves of his gear, which isn’t surprising as Jack always struck me as being the kind of bloke who was more interested in making music than making money.
         Pride of place in a large collection of guitars, basses, keyboards, handwritten lyrics, clothes and jewellery is given to his favourite bass guitar, a 1993 fretless Warwick that was made especially for him, a bespoke one-off that he played at the Cream reunion shows in 1995 and when he was on tour with Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band. In the catalogue Jack is quoted as saying: “If anything ever happened to my old Warwick Fretless Thumb Bass, then I might as well hang it up [playing bass] entirely, because it is irreplaceable. I love it above all else.”

         The estimate for the instrument is £80-100,000.
         I sympathise with families of rock icons who are obliged to sell their loved ones’ most prized possessions. It happened with another great bass player, John Entwistle – a big sale that I attended – and possessions belonging to his colleague Keith Moon have also been sold. But it didn’t happen with the two Beatles who are no longer with us and it didn’t happen with Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham or Queen’s Freddie Mercury either. The reason, of course, is that unlike John and Keith these much-missed musicians had sufficient cash in the bank to preclude the need for their heirs to dispose of valuable instruments and the like.
         In the words of the great Hunter S. Thompson: The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side.

There are some other interesting items in this catalogue that I will post about later. 



THE BEATLES, LOOKING THROUGH YOU – Dear sir or madam will you read my book!

I have spent today addressing the nation on the virtues of our Beatles photo book Looking Through You (see blog: http://justbackdated.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/the-beatles-looking-through-you.html), that is to say that, as its editor, I have done eight interviews with local BBC Radio stations, in Jersey, Northampton, Bristol, Cambridge, Oxford, Berkshire, the West Midlands and Wales. The interviews lasted between ten minutes and half an hour, two were live (which meant I had to watch my language) and all the interviewers seemed to have read or seen the book which meant I was never placed in a position where I had to explain what it was all about.
              Where once I did the interviewing, two or three a week on MM, I now find myself being interviewed, which is gratifying and rather fun, well most of the time anyway. Having prattled on about the book and the fab pictures inside, two or three DJs asked me to name my favourite Beatles song and, perverse as ever, I opted for ‘Long Tall Sally’ and ‘Don’t Let Me Down’, both eulogised about elsewhere on this blog, and I also found myself explaining why The Beatles are still held in such high esteem. The simple answer to this was to cite how prolific they were, 11 studio albums (one a double) between 1963 and 1970, plus sufficient non-album singles (A and B-sides) and odd tracks like those from the ‘LTS’ EP, Magical Mystery Tour and Yellow Submarine to sequence another three at least. Meanwhile, between 1963 and 1966, they toured the UK five times, America three, Europe twice and made it to the Far East and Australia too. They also made two full length feature films, recorded scores of tracks on BBC radio shows, appeared on TV everywhere and gave more interviews in a day than most of today’s rock stars are inclined to give in a year. All this was accomplished in an atmosphere of great commotion since, as the most famous men on the planet, whether they liked it or not they were adopted by the media as the world’s ‘turn-to’ spokesmen on matters relating to the counter culture.
              All this became a bit of a running theme as I did my interviews today and, of course, made even the DJs at these regional radio stations stop and think. Just to put it all into perspective I mentioned that Coldplay, as an example, have now been together for 19 years and released six albums with a seventh evidently in the works. Contrast and compare – and we haven’t even mentioned the quality of the work.
              Those DJs who knew a bit about my past asked about the changes that had taken place in the music industry from a journalists’ point of point which led me to discuss the catastrophic decline in circulation of the weekly music press which has led to only one man, NME, left standing. I mentioned that the Beatles Book Monthly, from whose archive the pictures in Looking Through You were selected, sold 300,000 a month at its peak. I also mentioned access: the reason why the pictures in this book are as evocative as they are is because Leslie Bryce, the BBM’s photographer, was allowed virtually unlimited access to The Beatles, at least until 1968. The slick PRs that control today’s superstars, spinning positive stories and choosing only those pictures they consider sufficiently flattering, would do well to study Looking Through You and consider how spontaneous shots, instinctive and natural, can be 1,000 times more flattering in the long term than the posed shots, touched up and photo-shopped, that are the norm today.
              Finally, I found myself explaining Beatlemania, or trying to. How do you put into words the impact that The Beatles made in the UK in 1963 and 1964? It’s hard to explain to those who weren’t there, so I opted to describe the scenes at Heathrow Airport when The Beatles were flying in or out, and the newspaper headlines that inevitably followed. Yes, it really was like the photos below that I found on the internet. 



BEATLEMANIA! - A second helping.

Another extract from Beatlemania!: The Real story of The Beatles UK Tours 1963-1965 by Martin Creasy, published by Omnibus Press in April 2011, this one taken from the chapter about their fifth tour that took place between October 9 – John’s 24th birthday – and November 10, 1964, opening at the Gaumont in Bradford.

The action got started with two houses at The Gaumont Cinema in Bradford on Friday, October 9. Friday was a great night to start a tour with the weekend beginning and fans in good spirits, though it hardly made much difference to the touring party. Heavy traffic meant the Fabs arrived at the Gaumont later than planned and they made their way in through the crowds, John in his dark glasses, but they got down to some important work that evening. Anyone around the Bradford cinema on that opening evening may have heard a nice bonus… four Beatles playing a song they would soon be recording. ‘I Feel Fine’ was to hit the shops six weeks later, and they worked on it in what privacy they could, with all doors and entrances firmly locked!
         Covering the show for NME was Gordon Sampson, and he was quickly able to dispel any rumours that The Beatles were losing their touch. Just to underline the point his review was headed Beatles Still Tops and he wrote of fantastic scenes, of banner-waving fans trying to break through police barriers and all sorts of objects being lobbed towards the stage, including a giant teddy for John, who was celebrating his 24th birthday.
         The Beatles, in their smart, black suits, opened with a short burst of ‘Twist And Shout’ and then launched straight into ‘Money’. Paul then somehow managed to make himself heard over the screams as he gave his traditional audience welcome of: “Ta. Thank you very much and good evening. How are you, all right?” before launching into ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’, the first of five songs from A Hard Day’s Night. He slowed the pace with ‘Things We Said Today’ and then George fans had a treat as he took the spotlight for ‘I’m Happy Just To Dance With You’. Then John belted out ‘I Should Have Known Better’. He accompanied himself on harmonica as well as guitar, and George was on his 12-string Rickenbacker. Then John was joined by Paul for their duet ‘If I Fell’.
         Ringo, as ever, was given his number. He didn’t have a song on A Hard Day’s Night so it was back to 1963 as he launched into ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’ with gusto, supported by the others on the chorus. According to Disc, Ringo’s song earned the biggest screams. The paper also complimented John on his harmonica work. John introduced ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ to send the screams even higher and then Paul hit them with ‘Long Tall Sally’ for a full-tilt finale. The curtains came down while an instrumental version of ‘Twist And Shout’ was played over the speakers. These 10 songs were the group’s basic setlist for the tour. The opening night, as you might expect, was to set a pattern for the rest.
         Sampson had covered the Helen show at the Gaumont for the NME in February, 1963. Looking back, he considered the difference between the two: “The screaming of course. And the fact that you couldn’t get a seat this night. I was covering the show for the NME and the best the manager could do for me was standing up under an alcove to the side, near the front.
         “It was where you were put if all the seats had gone. It was one of the best views in the house, but it was difficult to make out many of the words. It was a complete madhouse, but it was just exuberance. It wasn’t like the early rock’n’roll tours when they were ripping the seats up. This was just kids getting excited. The atmosphere was electric. It was unprecedented really.”
         Russell Manning, who at seven had seen The Beatles in Leeds on the Orbison tour, was in the front row of the circle this night with five or six relatives and he enjoyed the experience much more this time around. “We had such a great view and you could see everything on the stage. I remember the whole thing being not quite as manic or as intimidating this time. We went to see my aunt in Pudsey first and seeing The Beatles on television in her house in an early evening news programme before leaving for the concert. It was exciting to watch them on television and know I was going off to see them.”
         Even an artist as talented as Mary Wells struggled with an audience that had really only come to see The Beatles. She closed the first half, wearing a pink dress for the first house and a black for the second, but the reception was the same… lukewarm. ‘My Guy’ went down well, but ‘What’s So Easy For Two Is So Hard For One’, ‘Time After Time’ and ‘Two Lovers’ went over quite a few teeny heads. Sounds Incorporated, who had backed Mary, tried hard in their own slot, with ‘Spanish Harlem’ followed by ‘Maria’ from West Side Story.
         Tommy Quickly had the slot before The Beatles and he fared a bit better. He looked quite a sight decked out in a bowler hat, with an umbrella in one hand and a toy dog in the other for ‘Walkin’ The Dog’. The knockabout theme continued with ‘Humpty Dumpty’ and he got his biggest cheer for his single, and the nearest he ever came to a hit, ‘Wild Side Of Life’.
         He was backed by The Remo Four, but it had proved tough going for them, The Rustiks and Michael Haslam. They performed well enough but fans weren’t there to see them, and reporters weren’t there to write about them. The two houses done, it was time for the quick getaway. Fans waiting outside Bradford’s swankiest hotels after the show hoping for a glimpse of The Beatles were to be sadly disappointed. The Fabs had kept one step ahead by finding somewhere nice to stay… in Halifax.
         It was wrongly presumed that The Beatles stayed at The Raggalds Inn in Queensbury this night (the confusion may have come about because the police set up a road block just before Raggalds), but they carried on along the same road to where they were booked – an imposing Jacobean mansion called The Cavalier Country Club which in reality was a private dining club and not a hotel. This meant that owners Freddie and Rita Pearson relinquished their comfortable beds for the night so that Beatles George and Paul could get their heads down, while their daughters Gail (14) and Kim (8) gave up their shared bedroom for John and Ringo. Brian Epstein was also present, but he was obliged to bed down on a put-me-up bed in the room where they dined.
         The stay was so top secret that Freddie and Rita didn’t even tell their daughters. Gail, all grown up in 2010, says: “I can’t believe that they would conspire to keep the news from us and there was never a chance they would let me go to the concert either. In the end my father relented and told me about a week before, but I was sworn to secrecy. In fact, I told one friend but luckily she could be trusted - she went on to be head girl at school. I had made a wise choice. My mother had been terrified that our home and gardens would be trampled so they weren’t particularly looking forward to it and certainly didn’t want the news to get out.”
         Gail was in bed by the time The Beatles arrived that night but she made it her business to find out every juicy detail. “I wasn’t allowed anywhere near them. I didn’t see them at all that night. But the (club) members were amazed of course when The Beatles strolled into the bar. They stayed up late and John was very funny, putting on a Yorkshire accent. It was said that they had visited a wool mill in the past few days. They went upstairs to have their dinner in a private room. It was brought up to them by our chef, Pepe Palomar.”
         Pepe originated from northern Spain, near Barcelona, but there ends the comparison with Manuel from Fawlty Towers. The Beatles’ meals that night were by no means typical of the general diet in 1964. Pepe said: “I remember what they ate, of course I do. They had prawn cocktail, melon, turtle soup, fillet steak, monkey gland steak (a flattened fillet steak), and cold duckling,” he recalls. “And I remember specifically what Paul McCartney ate because he wanted to eat it his in room. We sent in smoked trout and steak Diane on a tray.”
         After dinner it was back down to the bar, and surprisingly it was birthday boy Lennon who was first to retire. “John had toothache, apparently, and so went to bed before the others,” says Gail.
         Having missed out that night Gail was hoping The Beatles would at least have their breakfast in the dining room the next morning. She was inconsolable when they didn’t appear but instead ordered a meal in their rooms for 10.30am. “I was crying my eyes out and my mum finally said this is ridiculous and she went up to Paul and George’s room knocked on the door and when they answered said that I’d been waiting all that time to see them and thrust me into the room. Of course I was struck dumb but they were very nice and chatted to me. Paul said what a wonderful place we had. He had been reading this book we had about Ibiza and said that it looked great and he fancied going there. He even offered me a ciggie, but I refused of course.
         “Then my sister, who was very shy, was brought in and John and Ringo came in. Dad took two pictures of us with them. They had to be taken by the window because his camera didn’t have flash. Mine never came out, but Kim’s did. As for my parents, they thought The Beatles were terrific. They were probably a bit wary of how pop stars could be, but The Beatles were so well behaved.”
         Some more precious photos were taken outside before The Beatles headed out of Yorkshire to Leicester and their two Saturday night shows at the de Montfort Hall. The Beatles’ hotel bill was settled a few days later - with a cheque for £42 13s 6d, courtesy of The Beatles Ltd.
         “My father asked the bank manager if we could have a copy of it - you could do that back then - and he was duly given a photocopy,” said Gail. “It’s not worth as much as the Bayeux Tapestry, but it means a lot to us.” The Cavalier Country Club still stands proudly, although it has long since been called Holdsworth House and is now a popular hotel, very proud of its link with The Beatles and a few other high profile guests down the years. Gail (now Gail Moss) and sister Kim are joint owners.
         Gail says: “The room where The Beatles dined that night is just as it was back then, right down to the beautiful Edwardian chairs they sat in.”