Not everything in life is simple. Red Smed, however, is. And to prove it this blog has been set up to take you deep into his deranged socialist utopia where Lenin was quite a nice bloke, , Bridgwater has been renamed Parretgrad , every home has to display a portrait of Jake Thackray and Leeds United are at the top of the premier league.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Where's Mac?

The late (well he's not arrived yet) Mac McCausland
The question I get asked most often that I can't answer is 'have you really been out with ALL of the Spice girls and how is that even possible?'. No it's not in fact. The question is 'Where's Mac?'. The people who write me fan mail (by which I include geneal enquiries and parking tickets) always first remember the great and talented frontman of the Spanners Mac 'Lawrence' McCausland who was everywhere and then suddenly nowhere for about 10 years. And nobody knows where he is. Probably including himself.

In this clip- 'Stalin was a really nice bloke', sang by Mac, I've unearthed some rare footage of him moving. I mean, some rare moving footage of him. Nostalgia , isn't what it used to be.

It comes from a gig at the Bridgwater Arts Centre which was recorded and released as the Spanners album 'I like a glass of beer now and then'. Which was true of Mac. But who was-and maybe still is -Mac McCausland. It's a question thats confounded men, women and paleontologists alike for the last 15 years.

Quaint

The Skacats playing on Luhacovice, Czechoslovakia
From the quaint Kentish town of Minster, very close to the second world war Manston air field and the seaside postcard town of Ramsgate, Mac move to Combwich. A village situated on the widest part of the river Parret and within exploding distance of Hinkley Point nuclear power station. His main employment was as a barman - usually in the Labour club but also in the Art Centre. And in 1991 he was elected the Labour councillor for Eastover, which lasted 4 years. Throughout this time he was the lead singer with any band I was in and lead actor in numerous stage shows of the Sheep Worrying Theatre company including his starring role as pantomime villain 'Bad sir Bastard' in the 1990 show 'Jack and the Poll Tax' with his false black moustache sitting uneasily over his famous red beard. (see photo).

Mac also wrote several songs with me, including 'New Age Boogie Man', which we recently aired at the 'Come back (and don't come back) gig' at the Art Centre in April 2016, 'We'll be in love forever' sang by co-Spanner Alexia Vernon and Anne 'Stevie' Fraser -now working as a redcoat at Butlins Caerphilly, and several from the musical 'Czechomania' which celebrated his love for the Czech Republic-a place he helped us link up with.

Interminable

Mac with some other 'Sheep Worriers'. Red Smed at the piano
In fact Mac was never happier, or more popular, than singing interminable Irish songs to visiting Czech students in those pioneering days of the first British-Czech twinning. Whether it was sat around a campfire in Moravia drinking slivovice or sat around Crowcombe Youth hostel drinking slivovice or sat arund the Labour club drinking slivovice, Mac was always part of the furniture. Which might explain the incident with the chisel and the sanding tool.

Mac was on the first pioneering bus trip with us to what was then Czechoslovakia in 1992. The band we took over was the 'Skacats' - a bunch of musicians we'd basically thrown together in the mistaken hope that the Czechs would like Cliff Richard and the Shadows and fondly remember the film Summer Holiday. Sadly they had shot people for less during the early 60s.

The Skacats is a story for another time. Which I'll tell. But can somebody..ANYBODY..tell me..Where's Mac??????


Saturday, 12 March 2016

The People's Commissar of Rock'n'Roll

"It was 30 years ago today"
'They say 'a hard rain's a gonna fall'. So presumably some kind of 'hat' is advisable. But of course if you look at the idiom deeper - as I always do - then there's presumably something big and impending on the rock n roll horizon. Without a doubt it's the first Red Smed gig in 5 years.

"People have said to me 'why don't you do another gig?" explained the People's Commissar of Rock'n'Roll himself "Although admitedly more people have said 'Don't...are you listening...DON'T do another gig'. I think I'm getting the real message of what they;re trying to say. So I'm going to do another gig."

First gig in 5 years


The gig in question is the Bridgwater Twinning Party at the Art Centre on Saturday 23rd April supporting the Italian rockabilly band After Dark and Maltese karaoke king Dom Spenser. Tickets are £10 although it is emphasised that "This is to help pay to get the Italian band over here, absolutely none of this will go to Red Smed" explained one very sincere organiser as he repeatedly tugged this reporters sleeve with an increasing look of desperation in his eye. He just had the one. Which of course was a story in itself. Possibly involving cuttlefish.

Red Smed first got together a 'Hot Trot Smash the System Boogie Band' in 1986 and the line up changed with every gig and every purge. Some people came back more than once. Some people 'went missing'. Original tea chest bass player Dave 'a bit of a communist' Hanna, was 'shot trying to escape' after a Benefit gig for striking miners in Taunton, replacement bass player Matthew 'Matthew' Bartlett was found to be in wilfull possession of a Fez with the clear intention of wearing it on stage and shortly afterwards 'disappeared'.

Songs what they have done

Red Smed's first album 'Songs for Swinging Communists' was released on cassette in 1987 and featured the song 'The Day we met the Fascists in Bridgwater', voted the 'worst song of 1987' by Red Smed's own 'Sheep Worrying' Magazine.

Two CD albums were later released  to widespread acclaim, within some sections of the band, 'Parretgrad UK' (2000) and 'Do the Washing Up' (2002).

Smed explained his reasons for coming out of retirement "In 2011 I played Pat Morley's 70th birthday party. I thought that was the pinnacle of my career. Now, 5 years later, she's 93. Some things just can't be explained. So I thought if I don't do another gig soon I'LL be 93."

Twats


So of course there's one question on everyones lips. However, we won't be getting a satisfactory answer to that one. So the second question is 'what twats have agreed to be in the band this time then?'
Red Smed- described by many as
a 'Fat Twat'
Smed explained. "Well, on the positive side we've got Cat and Jo on vocals. So that means there'll be 2 singers on stage. I'll be on lead vocals. Then we're fortunate to have Nick Tuckwell, ex Bikeshed bassist in the line up and of course not so fortunate to have Fat Bald Dave on Flying-V Mandolin. The good news is that neither of them have played for 5 years either. We've always had a problem with drummers since Nervo died a few years back and has failed to turn up to gigs ever since. Although he does always send apologies. This time we've really dug back in the past and we have the legendary Dean Skilton with us on drums. Fortunately he's a regular gigging drummer-sadly, in the Exmouth area, but he was in a very early band I formed in 1972 where he played pottery drums and we sang songs about brain surgery  in a made up East European language. I'd like to reassure people that at no time did we even leave the rehearsal room."

**************************

So clearly, nothing can go wrong and everyone's now desperately looking forward to the 23rd of April. Not least because a new series of Paddy McGuinnesses 'Take Me Out' starts the same night.

However, to get a taste of what the band is all about here's some ancient videos from the primordial heritage that is Red Smed and the Hot Trot Smash the System Boogie band.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Sin and Sodomy at the Bridgwater Arts Centre

Kim Newman as sex pervert  'Prince' surrounded by
'actresses  from the 
Sheep Worrying Theatre Group

In 1980 the Bridgwater Arts Centre was labelled a 'jive joint for wierdies' by Tory councillor Margaret Rees who moved in next door and then complained that there was an Art Centre next door to her. So appropriately it was the venue for the launch of Sheep Worrying Theatre Company in September 1980-with the play 'Another England' -written by Kim Newman and about a Fascist takeover of Britain. 

The show was a success and the Theatre company's next production was agreed to be the play previously banned by College Principle JC Miles when the Youth theatre had planned to do it 'The Scandalous History of the Reverend Henry James Prince and his Abode of Love'.

The story of Prince - basically a religious nutjob who lived in Spaxton and set up an 'abode of love' where he saved sexy young women by shagging them whilst proclaiming himself to be the Messiah - is told on the Westover web here.

http://westoverward.co.uk/day-history-january-10th-1899-death-reverend-henry-james-prince/

Smedley & Byrne as Victorian tabloid
journalists in the Prince play
The Sheep Worrying show was written by local  playwright Charles Mander with music by Brian Smedley and starred Kim Newman as Prince and premiered on the anniversary of the night of the Son of God's surprise death.

Several of the songs went on to become features of  Smedley and Newman's band Club Whoopee along with other songs from the future Sheep Worrying musicals that loomed over the horizon.

'Sin and Sodomy' was what the villagers of Spaxton drinking their ears off in the Lamb inn next door to the Abode of Love ,undoubtedly  assumed was going on next door to them and probably exactly what Mrs Rees assumed was going on next door to her.

Smedley overacting like a twat
'Sin and Sodomy' was recorded on 22 February 1982 at Milborne Port studios along with a pile of other tracks thrown together one take style including 'He could save me anyday' sang by future screen actress Liz Hickling and also from the Prince Play. The whole session was released on an album 'Sheep Worrying at the Club Whoopee'.

The musicians included Kim Newman on lead vocals, Smedley on bass, Andrew Napthine on guitar, Neal Heckford on piano, Robin Tucker on drums plus Lynne Cramer, Liz Hickling and Sarah Marks on backing vocals. Peter Grieve was also doing some vocals  - but not on 'Sin and Sodomy'. If anyone wants to play along it's in the key of C Minor . Well, most of us.....

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Yet again PARTISAN SONG tops Red Smed Christmas Playlist

It remains absolutely no surprise that for the 6th year running, in fact that's every year since it was released, the PARTISAN SONG has topped the Red Smed  'You Tube' playlist, now reaching an unassailable 323,867 plays, which is more than Gary Barlow put together.

Red Smed explains. "I keep saying , it's because people think they've found the Red Army choir version. "

This certainly explains the next song on the list too. 'Katyusha' is also big with communists scouring the net for songs with a big anti fascist history so it must be an extra special pleasure when they accidentally stumble across Red Smed playing it in the style of Hank Marvin.

Red Smed continued "It probably isn't 'that' welcome a surprise. Theyre probably angry as fuck."

However, with 5,739 plays it's a long way behind the dizzy heights of the Partisan Song. But, oddly not so far behind 'Leon Trotsky', currently on 4,118. Finally a self penned song ! So to what does Red Smed attribute this?

"Well, people probably trying to find a website about Leon Trotsky is my guess" He hazards a guess.

But how could this be the case with the next song on the list, the celebrated  1980 Dangerous Brothers hit "Secret Seven" . Actually, by this stage it was pointless asking as it was all becoming pretty obvious......

Here...notwithstanding...is the full list...which...if you want to influence the running order...you can click on and listen to.....

SongArtisteComposerDec-14
Partisan songRed SmedTrad323,867
KatyushaRed SmedTrad5,739
Leon TrotskyRed SmedSmedley4,118
Secret SevenDangerous BrothersSmedley1,762
Route 666Club WhoopeeTrad1,177
BridgwaterRed SmedSmedley1,015
Me and My CloneRed SmedSmedley/Newman929
Fat Bald DaveRed SmedSmedley683
Drop Dead DarlingRed SmedSmedley/Kane586
I'm Too Fat to RockRed SmedSmedley/Newman570
Ello Ello ElloDangerous BrothersSmedley/Newton534
County CouncillorDangerous BrothersSmedley505
Bohemia SektThe VisitorsBartlett423
Buddy can you spare a DimeClub WhoopeeTrad375
False NoseDangerous BrothersSmedley356
Party at BriansRed SmedSmedley/Beasley/Fraser/Bruce353
The InternationaleRed Smedtrad300
Swedish Language yeh yeh yehRed SmedSmedley292
Rock n Roll LizardClub WhoopeeSmedley/Newman276
Do the Washing upRed SmedSmedley280
When Teddy’s GoneThe SpannersSmedley/Vernon268
The Magnificent SeveralRed SmedTrad262
Don’t be so bloody MiserableRed SmedSmedley253
Rock n Roll is Pretty ExcitingRed SmedSmedley/Beasley/Fraser/Bruce230
GreedThe SedgemoronsSmedley212
We’re all going ShoppingRed SmedSmedley/Kane173
MultifreightRed SmedSmedley159
I Need a GirlfriendThe SedgemoronsSmedley/Beasley 155
Stogumber Cajun GumboRed SmedSmedley119
Bonny Van DriverRed SmedSmedley107

Sunday, 13 April 2014

THE SEDGEMORONS- Who,What and Why.......

Back in 1984 the Sheep Worrying organisation had run up a £1,000 debt trying to keep it's alternative listings magazine going. To save the project the editorial team formed a band. The idea was to do cabaret songs for money and give all the money to Sheep Worrying to pay off the debt and thereby keep the magazine going.

The Sedgemorons played a few cabaret gigs , quickly got bored of that and then started writing their own songs sending up bands that were playing cabaret gigs - especially themselves, brought out an album "We're Bonkers" (September 84) and a single "Drop Dead Darling"b/w "I Need a Girlfriend" (april 85) and while they were at it wrote a stage musical "Rock n Roll is Pretty Exciting".

The premise of the Musical was that Rockin Brian, an intensely tedious brummie car park attendant (Brian Smedley) was going to have his car park re-developed into a 'disco' and so needed, in true Cliff Richard fashion, to get 'the kids' led by the sickly sweet and naively hopeless Bobbie Bland (Lianne Bruce)  on board to help him save it. In true Yul Brynner style they rounded up a possee of gunmen to help them save the car park. Ghenghiz 2-Stroke (Stuart Croskell) a pretentiously abstract poet with a  penchant for Johnny Cash songs, Bing Beasley (Gareth Beasley) an over exuberantly anarchic nutjob and Betty Bonkers (Anne Dixey) a rebellious feminist housewife .

The single -Drop Dead Darling (Kane/Smedley) was backed up by 'I
Need A Girlfriend'(Beasley/Smedley) and featured Bing on lead vocals and improvised scat singing with Bobbie and Betty on backing vocals, Ghenghiz on bass and Smed on twangy lead guitar.
Also featured were Nervo on drums and Barry 'Bazza' Thompson on whistled intro and outro and sax solo.

The record was played on John Peel and reviewed in Sounds by punk poet Seething Wells and the band went on to tour extensively before knocking it firmly on the head in January 1986.

A freshly unearthed video forms the backing for the remastered (not really) song and is taken from a BBC2 documentary about the Bridgwater Arts Centre which featured the Morons rehearsing in an upstairs room.


Wednesday, 29 January 2014

"UKIP are a Bit Daft" : Red Smed the man not afraid to tell it like it is

It might just be the prospect of celebrity right winger Jim Davidson winning Celebrity Big Brother that makes me think the whole countries going to hell in a reactionary handcart, but why is this happening, why do more people vote for un-reality shows than in a general election, why do people vote for UKIP, a party with no policies just knee jerk midnight internet chatroom ranting and most importantly why aren't Hope Not Hate outside the Big Brother House with their placards instead of picking on some Hungarian Nazi whose got every right to stand on the streets of Britain  spouting bigotry. How else is he going to blend in!!

So it's high time for an in depth look at whether UKIP are a decent normal party contributing democratically to the ongoing debate on Britain today, or if in fact they're a bunch of nutters. Research over, they're clearly all bonkers.

Bonkers

UKIP had a candidate in the last election (yes, here in Somerset) who was filmed apparently doing a Nazi salute. His defence was  that he was impersonating a pot plant. So that's alright then.

One UKIP Councillor thought that MPs voting for same sex marriage has caused the floods. Presumably God has now smote down with a mighty wave the Moorland gay communes engaging in their debauched green wellied multitudes. Oddly, in their own heartland...we have 2 out of 6 UKIP MEPS in the South West and 3 UKIP County councillors in Somerset. Presumably God doesn't have his sat nav set to 'Gay Finder General' at the moment.

But no sooner has Farage suspended one UKIP foot in mouth job than another appears. So now its UKIP financial backer Demetri Marchessini buying an advert in the Telegraph to tell people that Homosexuality is an 'abomination' and there are '12 mentions in the Bible to prove this'. This is the same 'expert in gender politics' that a year back advocated giving unwed mothers 'a good slap' and that date rape allegations 'cannot be taken seriously'. At least they've got their best men on the job.

Digging up King Dick

Which brings us to Godfrey Bloom another 'voice of UKIP, now suspended'. Bit's of Africa he can't bring himself to identify are called 'Bongo Bongo' land, women he can't find a place for in his hierarchy of morality are called 'sluts' and a journalist who points out racial inequality in UKIP publicity material is called 'racist' and then physically hit with the UKIP manifesto. You'd have thought at least Godfrey would shut up. But no, now he's guest speaker at a Oxford Union debate (..er..why??) and likening a disabled student to Richard III. Fortunately, his victim David Browne turned the tables on his taunter by saying "he was flattered by personal attacks from his opponents as it just demonstrates they have run out of arguments."

Nutters

Which is of course the whole point of this. UKIP don't have any arguments, any policies or any points to make. They just have votes. They have nutters. Yes. So they have votes for Nutters. That should be their campaign slogan. But people vote for them. Not for their policies - they don't know what they are. "DO something about immigration". They don't vote for their candidates. They're nutters. But they get millions of votes. Basically they're the angry, bitter, midnight chatroom crusaders who finally have a voice. It's not a sensible voice and like the level of their arguments in the chatrooms of smalltown papers all over the land, they fit whatever they're thinking it might be all about into their own version of reality. It's a kind of engaging with the democratic process of sorts....so long as you include wrapping a turd up in newspaper and posting it to someone you don't like in that.

One day to go....HOPE NOT HATE, get your act together and stop Jim Davidson winning Celebrity Big Brother...this could be a Cable Street moment!!!


If Trotsky was alive today we know exactly what he'd be saying (apart from 'oww my fucking head!!) it'd be UNITED FRONT NOW.


Thursday, 19 September 2013

RUFTY TUFTY WORK SONGS OF LIFE ON THE ROAD

Being a horny handed son of toil and a muscle bound donkey strangling hunk of a district councillor, Red Smed has dug deep into his archives and come up with a couple of modern day work songs recollecting his hi-octane life on the roads , pavements and soft grass verges  that IS van driving.

In the depths of Thatcherite repression, Smed worked for the evil Multinational parcel delivering mega-corporation 'Multifreight'. For 13 weeks then was sacked. Ostensibly for wearing IRA badges while delivering to a nuclear power station. Since blown up. 

Smed recalls "I was delivering to Oldbury in Gloucestershire and my mate Dave had bought me a James Connolly badge for my birthday but this eagle eyed security guard spotted it and imediatly realised that my plan was to occupy Stroud Post Office and declare independence for Wessex launching our new fledgling Socialist Republic   in the blood of her martyrs."

Dave, a bastard, remembers it differently. "I just wanted to get him sacked".

Ignoring plain facts, Smed continues, "With 'Multifreight' the tune is lifted from an IWW song about hauling timber somewhere in America that I read about on my mothers knee. She used to write political history on her knees with a felt pen. It may seem odd now , but most of the family did that. But this was in the days before computers, books and television. Lyrically the people are real but I've kept their names instead of making them up so that they can track me down and beat me up".

Having been sacked from Multifreight, Smed couldn't get work for 2 years in the Haulage industry as he was blacklisted by the 'Economic League' who had him down as a 'raving communist' and 'a bit of a twat', however, after changing his CV hobbies and interests to 'Liking Margaret  Thatcher' and 'Thinking of ways to maximise the profits of hard working bosses' he got a job at NJ Singletons where he was the sole workforce under 2 bosses. "This seemed an odd arrangement" Smed ponders    " as their day seemed to finish at 9am and then I did all the work for the rest of the day. But I was just glad to have a job, especially one so important to the health and well being of the Nation as delivering plastic plumbing pipes , vanity units and toilet seats. Without me what would the arseholes of the Nation do!!"

The song 'Bonny Van Driver' tells of Smed's near death driving escapades working for Singletons, and the transport cafes he was compelled to use several times a day. The song is based on a Scottish coalmining song  and is naturally sung in a ridiculous Scottish accent "..to emphasise the horror Dick Gaughan would feel if he ever heard it."

"One of the features of this song is the authentic bagpipe playing in it. The entire Highbridge Bagpipe and Communism Collective  managed to fit into Monkton Heathfield studio, but I was so appalled by the averageness of their performance that I overdubbed them on my melodica. So that's another thing that Sooty can stick up his arse."