Tag Archives: drink

September 13th 1975

Went to work hungover. Got Alice Cooper posters for Niles. In the evening “wrapped” Nobby’s ‘present’

There was DRINKING at the school party?

Where all the students would have been under the age of 18?

How could this happen? I blame the teachers! I blame the Coffee Club committee!

I blame the pub round the corner from the college and its lackadaisical attitude to underage drinking.

No wonder I ‘got off with Holly C’ yesterday?!! I was full of dutch courage!

In other news it looks like I was able to snaffle some promo Alice Cooper posters for my friend Niles. If I was a betting man I’d say they were promos for Alice’s then-just-released “Welcome to my Nightmare” LP, his contribution to the whole “concept album” genre that was rife at the time. It dealt with the nightmares of a child named Steven (no relation), a grim tale which later turned into a stage show that was ahead of its time in terms of theatrics, lighting and special effects.

I never really cared that much for the album. It didn’t seem to have the same catchy punches that Alice’s previous albums had and felt a little too ‘macabre’ for my personal tastes. Yes, I felt there were levels of ‘macabre’ in Alice Cooper’s music. I was evidently a deeply troubled child.

Only two tracks really stood out to me and they were the very two that stood the test of time.

The title track “Welcome to my Nightmare” is a brooding masterpiece, the slow start leading to a funky rhythm even Steely Dan would be proud of. In one of TV’s weirdest moments Alice would later perform the track with The Muppets.

The other ‘killer cut’ is “Only Women Bleed” a song which really only came into its own a few years later. Whilst Alice’s own version of this ballad (about a woman in an abusive relationship) was indeed admirable, it took actress Julie Covington to really set the song alight in 1978.

Julie Covington was a minor National Theatre and Opera performer before she got her big break as one of “The Little Ladies” in TV’s 1976 bizarre musical drama “Rock Follies“… about which I know I will write much more later.

That led to her being invited to sing the lead role in Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd-Webber‘s extravagant musical “Evita“. She contributed to the soundtrack but refused to perform the role of  Eva Perón on stage, leaving assured stardom to beckon for her replacement Elaine Page.

Her performance on “Evita” led to a proper recording contract with Virgin Records and her titular debut album came out in 1978, preceded by her stellar version of Alice’s “Only Women Bleed”. I don’t think she ever had a finer recorded moment?!

I have no memory of what the present was I seem to be preparing for Nobby’s imminent 18th birthday. As I know he is a regular reader of, and comment contributor to, EFA70sTRO  I will leave him to reveal the secret… as I am sure his brain cells are somewhat less addled than mine?!

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July 18th 1975

“Break-up for summer hols. went down Cricks during day then for dinner with Lorna”

The Cricketer’s Arms – or “the Cricks” for short – was the pub closest to Barton Peveril. Back in the days when a ‘minimum drinking age’ seemed to be more of a suggestion than a mandatory legal requirement it was not uncommon for the place to packed with school pupils and college students at lunchtime.

It was also not uncommon for students to rub shoulders with their teachers at the bar, either vying for the barmaids attention and quick service so they could get their ‘drink on’ during the hour-long break.

I’m not saying that the Cricks’ staff failed to upkeep their legal requirements from time to time – usually for a few days after they had been warned by police to stop serving underage drinkers – but most of the time the proverbial blind-eye was turned as long as none of the 16 or 17 year-olds got too out of hand.

We rarely did. I knew how to drink, as did a few others, but rarely did we topple over into incoherency and/or mouthy stumbling. For the most part lunchtime consisted of 2 or 3 beers (or, in my case, the spirit equivalent of Bacardi rum or Whisky) a bag of pork scratchings, vibrant chatter and money pumped into the jukebox. (Diana Ross’ “Love Hangover” was – for whatever reason – a particular favourite, and the song ALWAYS reminds me of The Cricks whenever I hear it these days)

The end of a school year was a particularly busy time for the pub and today in 1975 was doubtless no exception.

I don’t know if it was on this occasion or another but I do remember bumping into a friend of my Dad’s one time and having to ask him not to “tell on me” next time they met up. Mr. S did make – and stuck to – that promise, even taking it one stage further by buying me and all my schoolchums a round of drinks! I can’t help thinking that in this day and age he would have been arrested and sent to prison for “contributing to the delinquency of minors” or some such ludicrous politically correct nonsense.

In other news I also went out for a meal with Lorna. I wish I’d stated the place we’d gone to because I continue to remain clueless where people went on ‘dinner dates’ in 1975. I can’t remember any restaurants that would have fitted the bill for teenagers – maybe it was one of those crappy steakhouse places that were all the vogue for a while? (Surely though, they would be outside the limits of my meagre finances?). Drat my ever-forgetful memory!

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May 24th 1975

“Work. Bort 6 classical albums for 95p & new Be-Bop album. Party at Hiltingbury – rubbish – but in pub before=great! Drunk again”

6 classical album for 95p?!! … boy, they must have been good….right?

I think the word most associated with Be Bop Deluxe’s frontman Bill Nelson is “underrated”. As I have stated before I feel he was at least – if not moreso – as accomplished an axeman as so-called greats such as Eric Clapton or Jimmy Page. But he was also a superb songwriter, the songs on “Futurama” – his band’s second studio album – testament to that.

Personally, I feel that the word “underrated” can also be applied to this album. OK, so it gave Nelson his first taste of chart success – the perfectly crafted pop song “Maid in Heaven” – but, in my mind, it’s a much bigger album than that, chock full of wonderful material…

… which kicks off with “Stage Whispers” which (much like the title track on the band’s debut “Axe Victim”) featuring more of Nelson’s musings about being in the music industry…
This guitar does not lie
The great deception is not my achievement
Well I’m waiting in the wings with all the strings
And things that help me make the music

Hardly revelatory lyrics, but they’re wrapped inside a driving rhythm that immediately showcases Nelson’s skillful fretwork. IMHO, one of THE best album openers ever.

Then we get to “Love with the Madman” a chunky slow-paced ballad washed (again) in guitar licks and, proving that Nelson has been listening to a lot of Steve Harley whilst they toured together,  with Rebel-esque lyrics such as “you’ll go crazy with the wonder of it all

Maid in Heaven” – as already mentioned – was the hit single reaching a heady (hey, it was heady in those days!) #23 on the charts. As perfect a pop song constructed around a guitar riff as there’s ever been.

Sister Seagull” – also the b-side of “Maid…” – follows. I’ve never stopped feeling that it should have been a single in its own right. Nelson’s voice is to the fore whilst his guitar work is more subdued than on other cuts, but the whole song simply oozes drama from start to finish. It’s a whole Shakespearean play in one song.

Sound Track” was a cut I wasn’t mad about at the time, but the prevailing years have made me appreciate it more and more. The opening lyric “Tin aeroplanes trace the time, past our fading window’s eyes” is a theme Nelson would return to over and over again in his subsequent work, but here he takes a back seat to some fabulous (again, “underrated”) drumming from his new band mate, sticksmith Simon Fox. (Nelson had originally stole members of Cockney Rebel, but abandoned them in favour of Fox and bassist Charlie Tumahai, later adding keyboardist Andrew Clark)

Side 2 kicks off with “Music in Dreamland” – “maybe we’ll make music in dreamland tonight?” – yet another cut that could so easily have been a single success. Not often you hear heavy guitar licks married to what almost sounds like a Northern Brass Band section!

(As an aside “Music in Dreamland” is the title of a biography of Bill Nelson & Be Bop Deluxe by Paul Sutton Reeves that may – or may not – actually exist. The hardback version is already out of print, and I have had the paperback on pre-order from Amazon for… let’s have a look now… over nine months now, and every few months I get an update saying its release date has been pushed back again. Weird.)

Jean Cocteau” is a laid-back almost acoustic ballad infused with jazz guitar. It could sit quite easily with much of Bill’s later solo work. Just lovely in feel and execution.

Between the Worlds” takes us on a rock’nroll rollercoaster of a ride, mixing modern guitar riffs with classic 50’s “la-la-la-la” chorusing. For best effect, it must be played LOUD!

Swansong” closes the album down and returns Nelson to the feel of the debut album, simple phrasing with guitar flourishes to die for. (I have, however, always worried about the lyric “We were Siamese twins in ecstasy” because… well, if you think about it, it’s just a little bit incestuous and/or creepy isn’t it?)

This is the Be Bop Deluxe album which, for me, represents their best and most fluid work. Many people cite their third album “Sunburst Finish” as Nelson’s best Be Bop output but I’m of a mind to disagree. The debut album contained the seed of what Bill was trying to achieve and this, the follow-up, is the full germination.

Ironic then, that in an underrated career the best album is also the one underrated.

In other news…

Party at Hiltingbury” refers to a semi-regular event that took place at the Hiltingbury Pavilion in Chandler’s Ford. A dingy airless ‘event’ room above the accompanying sports field’s changing facilities, it was rented out to individuals for discos and parties. Parties which invariably descended into physical violence after the local ‘youth’, denied entry, would pick fights with whomever was willing to take them on. My review of ‘rubbish’ would therefore have been based on either “no fights to watch” or “I didn’t get off with anyone”

Yes “Drunk again” is a bit worrying, isn’t it? It was about this time that I discovered a love for alcohol in quantity, invariably spirits rather than beer. Bloody Mary’s (with added Worcestershire Sauce), Bacardi & Coke, Vodka & Blackcurrant and whiskies were my 17-year-old tipples of choice. It was easy when you owned a liver that could take the abuse. Now, not so much.

I am sure there will be more about my drinking in future posts.

Sadly.

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November 28th 1972

“toda eye staied ome agane, eye cannot wark strate… or rite in a strate line, it mite be becos I am drunk or I ave gone round the bend!”

Man, this a bad flu isn’t it?

I appear to have become somewhat delusional and disconnected from reality (Hey, what do you mean “no change there?”).

This entry was written in a scribbly flourish right round the page, circling the other days/dates, ending up back on November 28th. Hence the “rite in a strate line” comment.

It cracks me up to think that at 14 I would imagine myself as being “drunk”.  My fascination for “the booze” didn’t happen for, ooh, at least another couple of years!

Even during my worst alcoholic episodes though I would certainly hope I could spell better than I did in 1972!

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