Archives for September 2007

The Wild, the Innocent & The Queen St. Shuffle

Stuart Bailie | 14:23 UK time, Thursday, 27 September 2007

Stuart Bailie.jpgAnother facinating part of the Toronto experience has been the Red Bull Music Academy, a place where DJs, composers and progressive heads have gathered to learn more. The Academy is a moveable feast, an annual event that has previously visited London, Sao Paolo, Berlin and Melbourne. Students are hauled in from around the world, names acts are brought in to lecture and the studio spaces are loaded with new kit and gleaming, beta versions of technology that has yet to go public.

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In the middle of this throbbing potential, there's a guy from Ballyclare called Connor Dougan. He's clearly inspired by the scheme, and will doubtless aim much of this knowledge into his own musical plan, Defcon. This bold idea was previewed a week ago at The Pavillion in Belfast, when Connor got busy with the record decks, the laptop, the digital sampler, the electric guitar, the bass and the harmonica. he even sang a bit. He's a creative millionaire.

So every day, Connor goes down to the Academy on Queen St, where he'll take in a lecture from the likes of DJ Premier, or Sheffield's Martin Ware. Ulrich Schnausse is on the schedules, along with hip hop innovator Arthur Baker and Jamaican legend King Jammy. It's a royal education.

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Yesterday, Georgia Anne Muldrow was wondering if soundwaves could one day stop a speeding bullet. The day before, Martin Ware had talking about his days with the Human League and Heaven 17 and previewed his new experiments with 3D soundscapes.

There's also an exhibition by photographer Jamel Shabazz, who documented the early days of hip hop in a maginificent book, Back In The Days. His work is edgy, compassionate and cool. It's a school of the heart, and it's definitely in the right place, right time.


Stu Bailie presents The Late show on Radio Ulster, every Friday from 10pm until midnight. See his playlist here.

Polaris Strike

Stuart Bailie | 22:31 UK time, Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Stuart Bailie.jpgLast night we charmed our way into the Polaris Music Prize Awards at the Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto. It was a chance for Canada to show off some of its best alternative music, and it made a handy job of it.

patrickwatson.jpgThe Arcade Fire and Feist were on the shortlist, but sadly they were engaged elsewhere. But we did see live performances from The Besnard Lakes, Joel Plaskett Emergency and the most excellent Miracle Fortress. We copped a bunch of interviews in the media area, and shared eliptical thoughts with Murray from The Dears. Patrick Watson was smiling and telling us amusing stories about his recent Irish tour. Ultimately it was he who won the award, judged by an academy of media people. He gamboled around the stage and revealed that the $20 000 cheque would cover the cost of a Budget rental truck they totalled earlier in the year.

We took in the fine hospitality and mingled at the after-show, swapping stories of Irish and Canadian music on the rise. Heads were rather sore today, but the spirit is undiminished.

Stu Bailie presents The Late show on Radio Ulster, every Friday from 10pm until midnight. See his playlist here.

Toronto Calling

Stuart Bailie | 16:35 UK time, Monday, 24 September 2007

Stuart Bailie.jpgI haven't been to Toronto for a few years, but happily, it's still looking good. The people are civil, the second hand bookshops are stacked high and the bohemian strip around Queens St West is tremendously cultured.

Last night I saw Akron / Family at the inappropriately named Lee's Palace. It was in fact a dingey joint, but the music was remarkable. The A/F posse look like vagabonds and unabombers and they play loads of instruments in a style that's designed to hypnotise and to trip the consciousness. They were also the backing band for a recent Hal Wilner CD of sea shanties, but I wouldn't hold that against them.

Anyway, myself and some pals took as much of this as jet lag would allow. They were harmonising like the mice from Bagpuss. They had whistles and hand drums. They played 'Turn On Your Love Light' like Them on extra gospel juice. And the Canadians seemed to like it a great deal.

Polaris_Rogers_logo.gifTonight we're on the door for the Polaris Awards - the Canadian version of the Mercurys. The nominees include the Arcade Fire, Stars, The Dears and the Besnard Lakes. All proof that the artist from these parts are currently giving it socks. Catch you presently...


Stu Bailie presents The Late show on Radio Ulster, every Friday from 10pm until midnight. See his playlist here.

Dr Feelgood Done Great

Stuart Bailie | 09:56 UK time, Friday, 21 September 2007

Stuart Bailie.jpgIt’s been 30 years since I saw my first proper gig. It was the Ulster Hall, and the band that took my cherry was a rude little rhythm and blues combo from Canvey Island called Dr Feelgood.

drfeelgood.jpgIn their time, they were an important act. They were playing intense, three chord songs in an era when Rick Wakeman and progressive rock ruled. Their first album, ‘Down By The Jetty’ was even recorded in mono as a defiant statement. Many people have argued that the Feelgoods and their rivals, Eddie And The Hot Rods, opened the door for punk rock and for opportunists like Bob Geldof and The Boomtown Rats. They might be correct.

I remember the expectation of having that concert ticket at home, weeks ahead of the date. Myself and my mates learnt as many of the words as possible, and even planned out what we’d be wearing. There were a couple of veterans in our gang, who’d seen them before and who promised an amazing ritual.

Sure enough, it was a joy. In the queues outside, I saw my first punk rockers. In the venue itself, we were actually seated behind the band. But this was no terrible thing as we could witness the singer Lee Brilleaux working that crowd, more primal than anything we’d seen. Presently we were standing up, lost in the fever of it all, as John B Sparks hammered the bass and The Big Figure manhandled the drums. Sadly, their premier guitarist, Wilko Johnson had quit by this stage, but John Mayo was a decent replacement. Hey, what did we know, we weren’t feeling critical.

I wouldn’t try to calculate how many live bands I’ve seen since then, but The Feelgoods were my first, and for that I will always be grateful. So on tonight’s radio show, I will play one of their majestic old songs for memory’s sake and for the dear, departed Lee Brilleaux.


Stu Bailie presents The Late show on Radio Ulster, every Friday from 10pm until midnight. See his playlist here.

Peter's Friends

Stuart Bailie | 15:57 UK time, Thursday, 20 September 2007

Stuart Bailie.jpgThe increasingly bold Duke Special team is pushing for a chart placing this Sunday, and so they should. Their mailing list now extends to 11 000 enthusiastic souls, and they hope this if a good percentage of those people make an online purchase, then our friend Peter will be catapulted into the top end of the UK chart.

dukecover190.jpgEven better, the song deserves it. ‘Our Love Goes Deeper Than This’ is breezy and insistent – a tag team recording that finds Peter and Neil Hannon from The Divine Comedy swapping vocals and vying to outbid each other in their declarations of love. Somewhere in the mix there’s the sound of Romeo from the Magic Numbers, while the song itself was co-written by Paul Wilkinson from The Amazing Pilots. That’s another part of the Duke Special method – to cement friendships in music and to continually widen the frame.

I think this modest little blog page can also do its part. So let’s all make that online purchase before Sunday. We can add some critical units to the placing, pushing the Duke above James Blunt, silly old Fergie, Rihanna and Phil Collins with his comedy gorilla.

You know, it’s practically a civic duty.

Stu Bailie presents The Late show on Radio Ulster, every Friday from 10pm until midnight. See his playlist here.

Causeway To Heaven

Stuart Bailie | 10:09 UK time, Monday, 17 September 2007

Stuart Bailie.jpgWhile the controversy rages over the Causeway Visitors’ Centre, I’d like to put in a rogue bid. Why not give the concession over to Led Zeppelin? They are, after all, exponents of majestic rock. They can certainly draw a crowd, with 20 million ticket applications to their upcoming London gig. And the band really does have a vested interested in Ireland’s most awesome piece of coastline.

zep1.jpgTheir 1973 album, ‘Houses Of The Holy’ featured The Giant’s Causeway in a rather fanciful light - orange and solarised and occupied by some strange elfin creatures. Since then, a series of rock acts have visited the scene of this iconic shoot. Those Bristol loons The Moonflowers even posed on the very same rocks, utterly naked as a homage.

byebye_orig.jpgMeantime, The Stone Roses made a call in 1988, taking a detour from a University Of Ulster date. Guitarist John Squire was so taken by the colour of the sea around the causeway that he used the same tone for his painting ‘Bye Bye Badman’. This in turn became the cover image of their legendary self-titled album a year later.

Led Zeppelin have impinged on our rock history several times. When they played the Ulster Hall on March 5, 1971, they used the opportunity to unveil their latest song, ‘Stairway To Heaven’. It was also the first time that Jimmy Page played his double necked Gibson guitar in public, fact fans.

If I had the chance to revisit a rock and roll moment, that gig would be near the top of the list. Belfast, in the throes of sectarian carnage, random explosions and butchery akimbo. But in the sanctuary of this lovely old building, a bunch of hairy rockers were raving about May Queens, spring cleans and there being a bustle in your hedgerow. It makes me wonder, indeed.

Stu Bailie presents The Late show on Radio Ulster, every Friday from 10pm until midnight. See his playlist here.

The Springsteen Alphabet

Stuart Bailie | 13:47 UK time, Friday, 14 September 2007

Stuart Bailie.jpgThanks for all the top suggestions for my ‘Numbers Racket’ radio programme. This is going out on Friday, September 28.

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I’ve got another interesting show on the schedules, an A-Z of Bruce Springsteen. From Asbury Park to Robert Zimmerman. Two hours worth, on December 14. Here are some early ideas, put together with the help of my pal, Mark Keown. Any other suggestions?

A for Asbury Park, New Jersey
A for Adam Raised A Cain

B for Born To Run and Born In The USA
B for Gary US Bonds

C for Courtney Cox who danced with him in the vid for "Dancing in the Dark".
C for Clarence Clemons, sax player.

D for Darkness At TheEdge Of Town

E for E Street Band
F for Freehold, New Jersey, place of birth
F for Future of rock 'n' roll - famous John Landau article

G for Woody Guthrie

H for Hungtry Heart
H for John Hammond

I for 'Independence Day'.'

J for Julianne Phillips, the first Mrs S
J for Tom Joad
J for 'Jungleland'

K for John Kerry

L for legal battles with Mike Appel; ‘The Promise’ is considered an oblique response to that period
L for John Landau

M for Magic

N for "No Nukes" - great "Detroit Medley" on soundtrack
N for Nebraska and New Jersey

O for Roy Orbison

P for Patti Smith and Patti Scialfa
P for Philadelphia
P for 'Paradise'

Q for Mary, Queen Of Arkansas

R for Rosalita
R for Ronald Regan
R for The River
R for The Rising

S for Pete Seeger
S for Sept 11
S for Stone Pony

T for Tunnel Of Love
T for Fender Telecaster

U for U2

V for Viva Las Vegas
V for Van Morrison
V for Vote For Change

W for The Wild The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle
w for 'We Shall Overcome'

X

Y

Z for ‘Zero and Blind Terry’, recorded between the first two albums and released much later on Tracks
Z for Robert Zimmerman, aka Bob Dylan.
Z for Steve Van Zandt

Any more suggestions?

Stu Bailie presents The Late show on Radio Ulster, every Friday from 10pm until midnight. See his playlist here.

Gotta Hear This, #2

Stuart Bailie | 18:29 UK time, Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Stuart Bailie.jpgIt's the early weeks of 1984 and I have a compilation tape on endless rotation on the car stereo. My friend Stephen McKenna has put loads of magnificent music together for me, including Quando Quango, Shriekback, Talking Heads and some other arcane gems. As an added bonus, there's a snippet of some amazing tune at the end of side one. It's a left-over from some previous compilation that was on the cassette and I'm transfixed by the sound.

I hear a cello, a wistful, European voice, some piano and a ringing bell. It sounds a bit like Nico and the Velvet Underground, but Stephen eventually tells me that it's a Belgian act called Bernthøler and the song is 'My Suitor'. I listen some more as the vocalist murmers, "he's a fighter, with no dagger" . What does she mean, exactly?

berntholer.jpgI get a tip-off that the record is in the remnants section of the cheapo record shop on Gresham Street, Belfast. So I buy 'My Suitor' on 12 inch and marvel at the extended mix that dissolves into 'Pardon Up Here'. The latter has been scored by a fella called Wim Mertins, who is apparently big in Brussels, while the singer is an Albanian, Drita Kotaji.

I play it compulsively and gaze at the sleeve illustrations and the photo of the beatnik girl with the entrancing lament. The record label is Blanco y Negro, run by indie heavyweights Geoff Travis, Mike Alway and Michel Duval and a few years later, when I make the acquaintance of Mike, I commend him on this glorious release. He agrees, but the inference is that there were some grave difficulties and so the act was passed over.

Around 1996, I do a computer search on the band and it takes me to Simon Rigot from Bernthøler, who sends me a CD compilation of the band's fine career. I also learn that the record has a proper cult following, while a radio show on Studio-Brussel even ran a programme of 'My Suitor' cover versions. And just recently, the converging fun of MySpace and YouTube have taken me to a specialist Bernthøler site, where I can see Drita in performance and sample a strange Japanese tribute.

Ain't music the greatest thing?

Stu Bailie presents The Late show on Radio Ulster, every Friday from 10pm until midnight. See his playlist here.

Almost Famous (Slight Return)

Stuart Bailie | 16:20 UK time, Monday, 10 September 2007

Stuart Bailie.jpgHere’s an old photo of me almost meeting Bob Geldof. I was digging through my archives and it made me laugh. It was taken at the launch party for World Party’s ‘Bang’ album, in George Martin’s newly renovated Air Studios. There are many reasons for the amusement.


geldof220.jpg1. I have my eyes resolutely closed.
2. My Radiohead T-shirt looks completely silly. The rubber print on the front also made my chest perspire.
3. I never actually met Bob on this occasion. Karl Walinger from World Party (centre) didn’t make the introduction.
4. The bloke giving me the rabbit ears is Bill Prince, former production staff at NME. He is now Deputy Editor of GQ, and could probably advise me about my ill-advised T-shirt choices.
5. The lady grinning over my shoulder is Suzanne Parkes, who was PR for Sinead O’Connor during the maddest of times, 1990-93.
6. Karl Walinger was terribly nervous as his new album wasn’t the greatest and we were gossiping rudely during much of the playback. His manager, the late Steve Fargnoli (who also handled Prince) kept scowling at us.
7. Look at Bob Geldof and thon luscious black hair.

Would anyone like to provide an entertaining caption for this non-event?

Stu Bailie presents The Late show on Radio Ulster, every Friday from 10pm until midnight. See his playlist here.

The Abominable Snow Patrol Man

Stuart Bailie | 11:36 UK time, Friday, 7 September 2007

Stuart Bailie.jpgAccording to one preacher from Northern Ireland, I’m taking part in “an abominable and blasphemous enterprise”. The comment comes from the Rev Ivan Foster from the Free Presbyterians and the cause of his wrath is a dedicated music centre for Belfast called Oh Yeah.

gary180.jpgHe feels that we’re promoting "filthy 'music' in which the name of the Lord Jesus is desecrated and intermingled with obscenities". And he condemns the Stormont Minister Edwin Poots for taking an interest in the project. Apparently this makes him unfit for office in his own church.

The story broke in the Belfast Telegraph yesterday. You can read it here. In response there was an editorial in the same paper, defending the idea of a music centre in the city and supposing that the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland are also supportive of popular music, performed well. The editorial is here.

Back in 1993, Ballymena Council banned the arrival of the Electric Light Orchestra, citing the three D’s – drunkenness, drugs and debauchery. Part of me would have banned the act on the grounds that they’re a dreary pastiche of The Beatles with offensive haircuts and beards, but that’s hardly the point. There is great music and bad, just as there are genuinely spiritual preachers and some despicable examples. It is unwise to make a generalisation.

I feel that bands such as Snow Patrol and Ash have made a positive impact on our culture and have been worthy ambassadors abroad. They have shown a side of Northern Ireland that is tolerant and forward-looking, that isn’t obsessed with the past and is not literal or dogmatic. It has taken a long time for our political leaders to approximate this position.

Also, as I wrote on this blog on August 8, I feel that many of the musicians from here actually have a spiritual charge in their music, certainly Foy Vance, Duke Special and Iain Archer. They may not fit into the Rev Ivan Foster’s idea of permissible music, but many others would beg to differ.

Anyone got a DVD of Footloose? I’m inexplicably in the mood for it.


Stu Bailie presents The Late show on Radio Ulster, every Friday from 10pm until midnight. See his playlist here.

What's In A Name?

Stuart Bailie | 19:04 UK time, Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Stuart Bailie.jpgSome kids are named after great saints, literary heavyweights or much-loved family members. Me, I'm named after a Private Dick.

77sunset.gifLet me explain. Back in 1961, when my parents were looking for something to call their first-born, they thought about Trevor. Thankfully, they reconsidered. Instead, they settled on the name of a detective from an American TV show. It was based on a fictional agency in Hollywood, Los Angeles, called 77 Sunset Strip, situated on a salubrious part of the man drag, between La Cienega Boulevard and Alta Loma Road. And the king of the Strip was Stuart "Stu" Bailey, who solved the toughest cases, brandished his snub-nosed 38 and single-handedly won the Cold War in 206 episodes.

And so I became Stu Bailie. And when I made my first trip to Los Angeles it was a matter of some personal importance to locate this famous joint. Sadly, there isn't a number 77 on the road, as all of the addresses have four digits, but hey, there's a large brass plaque where the action was supposed to have happened. So I stood there and toasted my crime-fighting namesake.

Mind you, I wasn't the first to have made the pilgrimage. In 1975, Thin Lizzy travelled to America for the first time, and Phil Lynott wanted to find the very same location. He was disappointed to learn that the office had never actually existed. However, one part of the story was actually true. In the TV series, Stu's office was next door to a pizza restaurant called Dino's. And this did exist when Phil visited, part-owned by Dean Martin and by then in some need of repair. Typically, the unglamorous truth didn't bother the ever-romantic Phil, who incorporated Dino's into the lyric of his greatest song, 'The Boys Are Back In Town'. And thus, in the popular imagination, every Friday night they'll be dressed to kill, down at Dino's Bar & Grill.

There's a weird circularity in this story as I later became the authorised biographer of Thin Lizzy, and I had to piece this complicated story together by myself. But it was a fascinating and oddly emotional journey to make.

Incidentally, the actor who played Stu was really called Effrem Zimbalist Jr. By way of a bonus, there is a real-life Stuart Bailey in the entertainments business. He's the brother of singer Axl Rose. I wonder what his parents watched on TV, back in the day?

Stu Bailie presents The Late show on Radio Ulster, every Friday from 10pm until midnight. See his playlist here.

Ward Up

Stuart Bailie | 14:30 UK time, Monday, 3 September 2007

Stuart Bailie.jpgWell, Snow Patrol delivered the big anthems at Ward Park, and promised to bring it all home to Bangor every year or so. Apparently, you could hear the guitars all the way to Donaghadee, so I imagine some killjoys are already busy with the blotting paper and the Basildon Bond, demanding an end to this juvenile nonsense.

SnowPatrol180.jpgWhen the audience wasn’t shouting for Ash and Snow Patrol, the cheers were given over to the goal scoring power of David Healey. It reminds me of Dublin in the late ’80s, when U2 was rising, scores of other acts were getting ambitious and Jack Charlton was leading the soccer team to glory. When the synergy is flowing, you’ve got to savour the time.

I’ve written a gig review on the ATL website. My entire family was at Ward Park, and it was a tonic to see them all loving the event in different ways. No one even minded the traffic jam on the way home. There would be other chances to go chasing cars.


Stu Bailie presents The Late show on Radio Ulster, every Friday from 10pm until midnight. See his playlist here.

Bangor Bound

Stuart Bailie | 15:01 UK time, Saturday, 1 September 2007

Stuart Bailie.jpgIn a few minutes I’ll be jumping on a train to Bangor, destination Ward Park and the Snow Patrol gig. I’m not sure what to expect or how the town will deal with the influx of 30 000 people, but my guess it that it will be royally mad.

A couple of American girls have just rang from outside the site, asking if I have any tickets for sale. Sorry, all gone. It wasn’t so long ago that Yoshi, a Japanese tourist arrived in Belfast wanting to know where Gary Lightbody had recently been. Then a German publishing house sends a message, to see if the Oh Yeah music centre might be included in a guide to the world’s rock and roll landmarks. Unbelievably, we’re all on the cultural map.

Meantime, Hill Street has been a scene of sustained fervour as Foy Vance took up his residency at the Black Box. Many of those same music fans will have witnessed Duke Special and his clatter of August events at The Empire Music Hall. In the bars, people are whispering of a film project, Belfast’s answer to ‘24 Hour Party People’. Where will this feverish stuff end?

Tim Wheeler from Ash and Gary Lightbody were in town yesterday, urging the politicians to support our music industry. They were given a decent hearing, and the story made the cover of the Irish News. Nothing seems too ambitious at the moment.

And so a day trip to Bangor has become a stellar adventure.


Stu Bailie presents The Late show on Radio Ulster, every Friday from 10pm until midnight. See his playlist here.

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