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Snippets of FEELIN' GOOD Issue 22/January 2001
Published with friendly permission of editor John Butterfield.
Well it sure is the year 2001, time just seems to be flying away. I remember when I was at school I couldn’t even imagine what I would be doing in 2001. Now I’ve reached it, I still haven’t got a clue but I blame that on years of listening to live R&B and an unhealthy lifestyle. Maybe we should start putting health warnings on future Grand Record releases and adverts for gigs!!!
Welcome to the latest issue a slimmed down version compared to the last one (maybe the New Year Resolutions are kicking in already). No seriously though, I can only produce articles I either receive from others or suggestions that get my thinking box working and my creative juices flowing so get writing to me at the above address. Articles and letters can even be sent electronically via the e mail address email@example.com.
One group of chaps who are just recovering from a hectic 2000 will be Dr Feelgood themselves having played in many countries. They started the year’s gigging in Finland and followed January with dates in the UK, Greece, Sweden, Holland, Switzerland, Italy, Norway, Germany, UK (again), Denmark, Sweden (again), France, Holland , Greece, Switzerland, Belgium, Holland, Sweden, Portugal, Norway. In summer there were trips to Norway, Switzerland, Germany, France, Holland and Sweden with a few UK dates thrown in along the way. One of those UK dates was the “Storming the Castle” festival at Witton Castle, County Durham. The last leg of the World tour was the most demanding as almost as if they were making amends for only playing a few UK dates earlier in the year they embarked on the “Naughty Rhythm 2000” tour which took in over 70 shows. Before one of these shows, Robert, Phil and I took advantage of being in Billingham, by visiting the home of the Feelgood Brewing Company at the Wok and Barrel, also the home of John & Cath Rigg. Beers on offer that night were Roxette and Brilleaux, which we enjoyed consuming following the ribbon cutting exercise by Phil.
Once again thanks to all who have sent in stuff for Feelin Good. Articles not appearing here will appear in a future issue but in this issue Ian Fawkes not only reviews “Chess Masters” but gives some cud to chew on the changing line up debate. I try not to speak in “Feelin’ Good” of my personal feelings about the loss of Lee but I will say I think there is a lot of truth in what Ian says.
There was also good news for Two Timer’s fans as they also hit the road in October - December with a vengeance. Gordon Russell and Sarah James were special guests on the Status Quo tour which meant their great show was able to be witnessed by people all around the country. They also supported The Pirates at one of their rare reunion gigs too. If you went to see them and think Two Timers are worthy of a smaller gig in your area, please hassle your local gigs or promoters to book them. Let’s see more of Two Timers on the UK gig circuit (Note by Gabi: Check out the Official TWO TIMERS WebSite for upcoming gigs). While I’m on about hassling one fan wrote in suggesting I ask Info Service members to plague radio stations with requests from Dr Feelgood’s last CD “Chess Masters”. There was even a suggestion that some tracks may make good single material but obviously the radio stations and EMI are the ones to pursue!!
A couple of special messages for the technological fans out there who communicate by e mail. Firstly I would like to say thanks to everyone who sent me birthday greetings thanks due to a surprise announcement on the web site. I got home to see lots of messages in my inbox. Gabi on the other hand receives lots of e mails EVERYDAY in her inbox and has asked me to print the following, “Gabi says 1000 thanks to anyone who e mails/emailed her in 2000 - you can be sure EVERYTHING has been read and is kept in an archive. The Feelgood material you send/have sent will see release at the web site and/or the CD-Rom sooner or later. Gabi’s sad at not being able to reply to everyone”. Both of us really value people taking the time to share stories with us, so please continue to do so, and (a plug for the newsletter) don’t forget I am always looking for contributions to each issue!!
“Never Mind The Buzzcocks” the BBC television programme featured John Martin (The Big Figure) in the episode shown on 13th of October. He appeared in the section where they show an archive clip, in this case Dr Feelgood doing “She Does It Right” and then showing 5 people in an identity parade with the panel having to guess who they had just seen in the clip, but now 25 years older. After much banter etc Sean Hughes said that number three had never drummed in his life, so went for another number. They were wrong as Big Figure was that number three.
If you haven’t booked your holidays then you could consider a trip to Butlins who are repeating the very successful “Festival of Rock‘n’Blues” and an “Alternative Music Weekender”. The packages begin at £37 per person for Friday to Monday includes accommodation and free entry to all the gigs. There are too many to list here but the “Rock ‘n’ Blues” ones feature Dr Feelgood (with Robert Kane), The Animals (without Robert Kane!!), The Yardbirds (with Gypie Mayo), Eric Bell’s Thin Lizzy, Eddie & the Hot Rods (External link to the Official Eddie & the Hot Rods WebSite) and many more. The “Alternative” weekender features Dr Feelgood, The Damned, Eddie, Vibrators, Bad Manners and more. Get the latest Butlins brochure for details. The weekends are Feb 2 - 5 @ Minehead (Dr Feelgood appearing on the 4th), March 9 - 12 @ Skegness (Feelgood on the 11th), and March 30th @ Minehead for the alternative. There will be loads of Feelgood fans there so a good old jolly up should occur. I will be attending the Skegness one, being in holiday mode for the whole weekend. (holiday mode means an excuse for a drink now and again). It would also be nice to meet up with other members of the Info Service so drop me a line either by e mail or post.
While you are planning a weekend away don’t forget NOW is the time to book your place at the Lee Brilleaux Birthday memorial once again at the Oyster Fleet Hotel on that hotbed of R&B known as Canvey Island. The provisional date is May 10th and tickets once more cost £12.50 with all proceeds going to charity. Tickets are available from Grand Records (please make cheques payable to SCENT and enclose stamped addressed envelope).There are no confirmed acts as yet apart from the obvious Dr Feelgood plus guests. I can confirm however there is no truth whatsoever in the rumour that there will be no live bands just a karaoke machine and fans can only choose Dr Feelgood tracks!! On the morning of the memorial there are plans to repeat “the Walk”, a stroll around Canvey Island sea wall. Unlike last years “private walk”, this year Chris Fenwick has issued an open invitation to Dr Feelgood fans to join him. The walk will start at Benfleet station at 8.30am (or meet at the Oyster Fleet for 8.00am) and will have refreshment stops at Feelgood related places. Please let me know in advance if you’d like to take part. If there are any people from the continent who’ll be travelling home on the day after the show (11th), why don’t you go on the Portsmouth to Cherbourg ferry where Dr Feelgood will be “doing a gig” on the ferry itself.
The next issue will be out early April so get your saes in if you want a copy hot off the press. (Detailed Subscribing Info)
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No Thanks Old Boy
Looking at Gabi’s excellent web site and also reading between the lines of John’s “Feelin’ Good” it seems there has been somewhat of a hot and cold response to Chess Masters and more importantly Robert Kane the new Feelgood frontman. I suppose this is understandable as Robert is nothing like Lee or Pete Gage. He’s a total sea change, dresses different and sings in a different style, higher. So who’s to say he can’t be a Feelgood? Cast your eyes back to Wilko’s departure from the band, I remember Gypie coming in for some right stick when he joined and yes some people did go off the band when Mr Johnson left because of course he was a great but eventually Gypie was accepted and chart success etc followed. And what of the Johnny Guitar line up? I for one was not knocked out by that at all and yet it was fronted by the great Lee Brilleaux.
Of course these days the Feelgoods have settled into a workmanlike routine, those were heady days back then. I’ve only seen Robert with them once so can’t make a full opinion, some of the set I liked and some I thought Robert was a little uncomfortable with, like “Sneakin Suspicion” and “Mad Man Blues”, you see he sings higher up than the previous men, but it ain’t easy taking over the frontman role. There ain’t nowhere to hide or ease off the gas for a while. Looking at the general reaction though I really think the Feelgood fan base have not got over the loss of Lee and who is to say they ever will. I don’t think I will, you see, he was and always will be the best, say no more. Maybe people feel they’ve got to get something off their chest and Gabi, John and now Robert are there to have it.
So what have we here in Chess Masters? Well as the title suggests, it’s a covers album so no point in dissecting every song, but I think it’s fine, the guitar is cranked up, the bass and drums kick and Mr Kane puts in a good performance. I must admit I was a little nervous about it but no it’s OK. Yes it plays safe a bit being a covers album and so it’s not the greatest the band has recorded but it’s got balls! I remember when Let it Roll came out, I was a little disappointed in that in it’s laid back style but over the years it has fitted in nicely to the collection and I think this will as well, I short it’s got the Feelgood Factor.
And what do I think of Robert Kane? Well with a seventy odd date tour coming up, I will reserve judgement until after that. You see there’s nothing like a long stint on the road for properly breaking a new member in. You know many years ago I once, very naively asked Lee if he would like a copy of an old recording of the band that I had and he said “No thanks, old boy, I’m not interested in what we sounded like ten years ago. I live for today!” That’s what we have to do, you know.
JB As you can tell that piece was composed in the summer of 2000 but Robert Kane has now been with the band for 16 months now and played over 200 gigs so let’s all accept him as a Feelgood and live for today and tomorrow.
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Arrived at the temple of R&B the Oyster Fleet Hotel (external link: Oysterfleet Hotel WebSite) and after checking in made my customary preamble in search of liquid refreshment and decided the first place to visit should be the bar. On entering, found Frankie Blair who had made the long trip from Hartlepool. We sat and shared a drink talking over events since we last met. At 3pm Wilko and The Big Figure entered the scene and propped up the bar awaiting the arrival of their bass player for tonight a certain Phil H Mitchell. We retired upstairs to the function room to witness the soundcheck of this trio. Even at this late stage they had not decided on which songs they were going to inflict on the fans visiting this years Memorial. Wilko took charge and suggested “20 Yards Behind” but Phil was forced to admit he had never played it before. They tried a few standards and even for a bit of fun Wilko threw in a Shadows tune (Apache I think) along with the Hank Marvin walk. Then it was back downstairs to meet more fans who as usual had travelled from all over this globe of ours we affectionately call Mother Earth. No room here to mention everyone plus it gets too difficult to remember everyone’s names after many months has passed and I don’t want to upset anybody so no more name checks… okay!
7pm Local Time and a local band L.T.B took the stage, well got on the stage anyway (they didn't actually move it anywhere). A short set of 9 numbers with no fewer than 5 songs associated with the good doctors namely, “20 Yards Behind”, (but Phil wasn’t watching so he couldn’t learn this one here), “Dust My Broom” and the 3 closing numbers all classics “Route 66”, “Great Balls of Fire” and “Johnny B.Goode”.
Old or rather ex Feelgood road manager who served the Feelgoods for many a year or two reformed his old band “Deano’s Marvels” and blistered their way through songs that they used to play when they first started in the early 1970’s.
More Feelgood connections with Gordon Russell and Sara James (Two Timers) played tracks from both of their CDs and some unrecorded stuff. They opened with “Larry’s song” and my notes at the time noted “best looking harmonica player ever!” As anyone who has seen this duo before will know they play as many diverse instruments as they can manage to hold. Snaredrums, cymbals, tambourine, spoons, mandolin and even a guitar or two - all made their appearance. My favourite tracks were “Everybody Else”, “Good Glasses” and “My Big Mistake”. They even did a Wilko song “I Don’t Mind”.
For the second year running and by popular demand The Oyster Fleet welcomed soul mates of the Feelgoods the Kursaal Flyers, no longer an active band, but it is always great to see and hear them perform their classic tunes such as “Pocket Money”, “Speedway” and that hit single of theirs whose name escapes me for a moment. It’s a shame that they don’t play together on a regular basis.
The finale of the night was simply billed as Dr Feelgood and guests. The current Dr Feelgood of Robert, Steve, Kevin and Phil came up with “If my baby quit me”, “The Walk” which Robert kindly dedicated to Chris Fenwick (see Issue 21 for details why), “Instinct to survive”, “Don’t start me talking” where Robert prowled around the stage during the solos as if he was looking for a victim. During “Nadine” Robert totally lost it and if there had been any men in white coats there he could well have been carried offstage in the jacket without any bends. They closed with “Down by the Jetty Blues”. Everyone left the stage apart from Phil who was joined by Wilko Johnson and Big Figure. “I Can Tell” opened the proceedings and was going smoothly until just as Wilko started the guitar solo, the PA system failed. The road crew speedily rectified the fault and before you could say “Glad I didn’t join Procul Harum”, the music began and Wilko immediately scooted across the stage in the dalekic manner we all expect from him. Eyes staring like a mad man waiting for the keys to escape. More oldies “The More I Give”, “She Does It Right” and possibly the longest intro to Wilko’s classic “Roxette” I have heard a Feelgood line up perform. Wilko showing his wit and charm as he told the audience a narrative about his favourite girl who “even though she had a silly name, I loved her just the same” before launching into the tune as we know it. It helps to have a partner in crime when madness sneaks in and earlier in the day Wilko had asked Kevin if the “Geordie wanted to sing” with him. Regular Readers of this Good newsletter will know that Robert was a Wilko fan in the early Dr Feelgood days so he got up for “Going Back Home”. Wish I was on the left side of the stage though as during the solo Robert and Wilko struck a pose which looked great but I couldn’t take a photo. (anyone out there got one they would like to send me?). The Manic Two certainly looked a force to be wary of. It was great and then Steve Walwyn joined them for “Back in The Night”. Steve is always on top form every gig but tonight there was just one word I scribbled on the beermat (us authors need aids to jog our memories, you know). The word I feel described The Whirlwind at this point - SUPERCHARGED. At the end the other Feelgoods rejoined the stage for “Milk & Alcohol” then it was changing of the bass player with Dave Bronze for “Tanqueray” and John B Sparks for “She’s a Windup” and “Down at the Drs”. No more music unless the crowd wanted more and believe it or not they did so after a little bit of screaming and a touch of yelling it was Dr Feelgood again with “Mad Man Blues” and “Route 66”. Yet another guest guitarist in the shape of Gordon Russell who looked like he was enjoying it but appeared a trifle bewildered at Mr Kane’s antics! The night had to end but it did so in style and I for one will be back in 2001 to witness who knows what. Get yourselves there too. It may save me writing about it (lol). The Memorial always sells out and accommodation is limited so send off to book tickets NOW!
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