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.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Put On Your Dancing Shoes and Overthrow Capitalism

There can be no argument that the most important single contribution to revolutionary cinema in the 20th century was not 'Battleship Potemkin', 'Strike' , 'Oktober' or any of the Eisenstein classics, but 'Summer Holiday' featuring Cliff Richard. In this internationalist epic, (then not) 'Sir Cliff' and his freewheeling comrades cross Europes post war boundaries, only recently liberated from the Fascist jackboot,  in search of workers solidarity, class comradeship and girls -some dressed as young boys admitedly. And their mode of transport is the good old  red London double decker bus. What's not to like.

After 'Zulu', '20 Interesting Things About Fish' and 'Sharon's Overnight Visit to Goole', it;s undoubtedly the film I've watched more than any other, seeking, on each viewing, to gain a deeper insight into what exactly they're trying to say. Is it 'tear off the shackles of your oppression', 'you have nothing to lose but your chains', 'if the kids are united, they will never be divided' or is it 'if you go off on a European holiday with the lads you;ll definitely pull a bird like Una Stubbs'? I think I know what it is.

Telling it like it (probably) is

So for me the best song in the film is 'Dancing Shoes'. In a scene, which could otherwise be seen as terrifying, Cliff and a gang of 4 teenagers surround a Yugoslav peasant girl in a haystack, force her to dance and throw her around between them. With the volume turned off the images could be repulsive. The sheer horror on the girls face as she totally fails to understand what this gang of 'hands on' strangers even want of her. But whatever it is they're not letting her get away. in the end it transpires that what they want is 'bread'...but due to a hilarious misunderstanding they translate the next word in their 'Serbo-Croat Dictionary' which happens to be 'bride'. Suddenly everything's alright and the girl cheers up, rushes them back to her village where a bunch of Slavic tribesmen from a different century to the rather progressive 1960's of Yugoslav Communism, are waiting to throw a big party for their soon to be new relatives...until of course the young Balkanating Brits suddenly realise the horror of  their situation and try to escape. At which point the Slavic types attempt to stab them with pitchforks, batter them with chairs and shoot them.

What better allegory for the eventual dissolution and catastrophe that eventually was to befall Yugoslavia.

Tearing down the walls that surround us

But, for me, the failure of the writers was in the lyrical department. A wonderful swinging rock tune was spoilt by the totally meaningless juvenile lyrics inserting nursery rhymes rather than think fo actual lyrics. 'Do you remember little bo peep' 'let me tell you bout jack and jill, theyre the ones that went up the hill' etc.
So obfuscation no more....I politicised's what they would have wanted..or...deserved.
'Humpty Dumpty' no more, 'Bo Peep' no more, instead those working class martyrs Salvadore Allende, Joe Hill and Terry French.

Now, this version is from 2002 and done by the Red Smed band at the Monkton Heathfield Popodrome studios - although there's an even older version from 1986 done in a brickworks in Dunwear, Bridgwater, partially acoustically and totally fuelled by 2 bottles of Irish whiskey.....but I seem to have lost that one....

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Blue Remembered Armpits

"Now then, who lives in a film like this....?"
On December 19th 1975 I went to my first RAG DAY. It was cold and rainy and I was a first year student at Bridgwater College. Dressing myself up as Morrissey , years before even Morrissey had the idea to dress up as himself, and nicking a bottle of whiskymac from my parents drinks cupboard then hiding it in my raincoat pocket to take secret swigs out of during the course of the day. But rag days in 1975 were very different to what they are today. In them days students dressed up like twats and got shitfaced. Today....well, moving swiftly on.

Bridgwater looked very different in them days and yet, very similar. As did all my friends. Many of who appear in a film of the event made by lead vocalist of my band the Dangerous Brothers, Rod Jones, and which has lain dormant (well, in his cupboard) for more than 40 years. But now through the miracle of him agreeing to it, we can have a glimpse back to those blue remembered bastards we used to call students. We can see a Bridgwater with a Marks and Spencers and a Tescos in Fore street, the Admiral Blake statue in it's old place on the Cornhill side of the road and we can identify the total bastards who actually managed to get off with some  girls in the debauchery pit known as the Blake street Annex, as they emerge looking very pleased with themselves while some of us had to resort to getting, well very pissed, by , say,10 am.

"Why, if it isn't horror writer Kim Newman..."
Look out for  Sheep Worrying legends Kim Newman - first seen selling bottled water and hot cakes on the Cornhill to see which would sell like, er, hot cakes, and Eugene Byrne, wearing a forage cap bought from the Army Navy shop in St Mary Street, and roaming around with a michrophone interviewing people. Plus rare appearances from early Dangerous Brothers stalwarts Fat Bald Dave (when he was Thin Long Haired Dave) and Cold Buffet Bill when he was, well, a bit on the barmy side.

The song I've put to it is 'Clever Students', which seemed appropriate. I wrote this after spending just a month at University, but it could equally apply to us all at College. The song was recorded in 1978 in the White Hart, Eastover and the musicians featured include film maker Rod Jones on lead vocal, backed by Kev 'Nervo' Freeman on drums and chorus vocal plus Simon 'Supermeat' Gibbs on guitar and chorus vocal. I'm playing the rather simple Floydesque bass line on my old Hofner violin bass, which was held together by araldite and which I twattishly sold to Shrunken Duncan for £20, while the clever bit of keyboard/synth work featured is played by Neal Heckford in his mid period Bowie role of  Cosmo DG Glissandoz.

"And here's Eugene Byrne and our schoolmate Liz Lee-
incidentally the first person to nominate me for Council in 1990.."
I was convinced that the Police were on to me that day and my best memory of the day is when they jumped out of a car in Blake street and Cold Buffet Bill said 'run' so I did. Bill, a mountaineer, leapt over the Blake street wall into Blake Gardens, which was twice as high on the opposite side. Agile fucker that he was, I managed to get my Morrissey coat caught on the brickwork at the top and found myself dangling over a rose bed until it ripped and I dropped into it....before escaping Steve McQueen-like into the Bridge café. Now who remembers the Bridge café....?

Monday, 1 May 2017

Remembering The Funbunnies

I'm sat in Tescos at St Ives. Somewhere below me a dozen Czech students have been sent for a walk around Cape Cornwall in gale force winds and a near horizontal rainstorm and are doubtless at this very moment being swept out to sea, buffeted  from rock to rock and dashed to pieces on the cruel headlands of what would otherwise be quite nice surfing country. What better setting to contemplate top Bridgwater all girl(and 3 men) band The Funbunnies.

The Funbunnies formed in around 1998 and basically consisted of 3 singers - Elaine, Julia and Lorraine or Elaine, Julia and Heidi, and a backing line up of Red Smed (guitar) Big Barry 'Fowler' (bass) and Kevin 'Nervo' Freeman (drums). Gigs were frequent and always popular. Material was usually well known crowd pleasers. 'Brown Eyed Girl' featuring Julia, 'Shoop Shoop song' featuring Lorraine or 'Talking bout a Revolution' featuring Elaine or 'Happy Hour' featuring Heidi. But now and then they did a few originals...

The Funbunnies (Elaine, Julia, Lorraine)
I Hope You Die'
was written by Kim Newman and Brian Smedley for the 1987 rock epic 'Rock rock rock rock rock rock rock' and was devised as a torch song for the character of Kathy Kardiff, an alcoholic weather beaten old hag, and sung in the original production originally by Sam Terry, an alcoholic  weather b..etc. (She wasn't really)

Red Smed (who wrote the music and plays guitar on this track) wasn't available for comment this morning as he was busy soaping down the Cornish cliffs around Zennor before driving his minibus as fast as he could away from the bobbing and waving Czech students, now some yards off the headland. 

Lead vocals on 'I Hope You Die'
were by Heidi Powell
However, in a previous statement on the subject he said "I Hope You Die is one of the best songs I've ever written clearly, apart from most of the others. And several that I didn't write. For me however, making a film of the song has always been a problem as I don't really want anyone to die. Apart from Donald Trump, Nigel Farage and the whole Norwich City Team. So I could never find the right imagery for the video. Then suddenly after a particularly memorable week driving French students around I managed to grab a well earned rest at Chesil Beach and during a brief 'out of body' experience, involving a fish cake, I thought hey, this could be about me..."

The actual lyricist of the song , Kim Newman, is not a particularly bitter and twisted individual and his many books and film reviews can be found here.

The Funbunnies lasted maybe 2 years. At one point the mums (that they all were) let their daughters take their place and a 'Mini-Funbunnies with  Cathy, Beth and Alice took the stage at the art centre and did a version of Edy Reeders 'Perfect'.