Wednesday, January 19, 2011

On the phone to Lobby Loyde

photo taken from his official site

Calling your heroes on the phone is a tricky one. You think that you somehow know more than they do, and all you want is clarification of your facts - or even some sort of assurance. Now the reason I called was for a music paper, and they wanted me to catch up with Lobby Loyde and Mick Hadley for the Purple Hearts show which happened at the Troubadour in Brisbane. This was in 2006. My review for that show and so on

I had a lot of questions I wanted to ask him. Too many, probably. He spoke at a million miles an hour; setting stories straight and using up the time to make sure that he got his message across to his fans regarding his heightened enthusiasm for the band. And too right, as the Purple Hearts are my favourite Australian band of the early-to-mid 60s. Not that there's a terrible lot to choose from then, but still they're not only important to me, but to many other fans of Australian music of that pre-psych era. In other words, there's not a lot coming from my mouth.

This is part one of my interview with the great man. I hope that you get something out of it.

LL: Hello?
DT: Is this Lobby?
LL: It is.
DT: Would you have some time to do a quick interview?
LL: Yeah, yeah - sure.
DT: Thanks.
LL: Yeah.
DT: How did the Purple Hearts reunion come about?
LL: This particular one?
DT: Yeah.
LL: Well the original one was before I got cancer. I went up and played that festival in Brisbane and halfway through that we said, "wouldn't it be nice to play some gigs?" And in the meantime I got lung cancer, so I'm kind of sick. But I'm looking forward to it. I just had finished Oncology last week - this is my second lot of Oncology - and I'm hoping to go up there and play as normal as hell. I'm flying in Friday, playing the gig, then I'm flying out again.
DT: So there's not a lot of room for practicing in between?
LL: There might be a little bit of practice, yeah. I would've thought that we've been so spontaneous together through the years of our lives that it's like the bicycle for us. The Purple Hearts is my first true love band. I know I've been in a few bands before then, but they were just precursors in learning how to play the guitar. Joining the Purple Hearts and playing with Bob Dames, Freddie Pickard, and Mr Hadley and Tony Cahill - that was the eye-opener of my life. Playing with people that loved the music, had all this lovely English blues and r&b. I was raised by a father that played saxophone, trumpet, chromatic harmonica who lived for the blues and jazz and a mother who played classical piano who lived for Wagner and Beethoven. And me, I lived for Elvis - and r&b and Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters. So we were a marriage made in heaven! I don't see how much brains there, brother!
DT: haha!
LL: All we need is a stage and an audience - and some amps. Feed us an audience and see how we go. I think we'll play spontaneously because we love it.
DT: So what you're saying is that you're more passionate about the Purple Hearts....
LL: Absolutely!
DT: Than the Wild Cherries or the Coloured Balls...
LL: The Wild Cherries were great, man - but that was something to do after the Purple Hearts broke up. Truly. My whole life is this: I joined the Purple Hearts; that was the love of my life the band broke up because Tony Cahill joined the Easybeats. So in a bit of pissed off, I joined the Wild Cherries. After the Wild Cherries I pissed off with that and so I joined the Aztecs. After that I got pissed off with that I formed the Coloured Balls. I played with the Coloured Balls but that seemed devious because everyone wanted to kill one another. Well fuck you guys, I'm going to England. And I pissed off to England for the 70s.
DT: Then you produced a lot of a whole bunch of albums...
LL: Yeah well when I came over from there, I thought "fuck this - I'm not gonna play any more." But when the Purple Hearts said, "hey let's go do a gig at Woodford" I went "yeah!" That's life.
DT: Haha!
LL: And the most exciting thing I've ever done - go to Woodford - what a festival. So much stuff to see - and the music! So many people. And rehearsal was shitty! We played like a bunch of maggots! And it was awful. And we went to the gig and someone said, "ladies and gentlemen - the Purple Hearts" and we played like mothers. So you've gotta say that's spontaneous. That's exciting.
DT: Yeah, absolutely.
LL: Yeah - that's the stuff you live for, man.
DT: That's right, and one I appreciate about Mick Hadley is that...
LL: He's fantastic...
DT: He's true to it. Even throughout the 80s...
LL: True to it? Holy shit man...
DT: And still doing it...
LL: True to it? He's been better than... true to it. In Brisbane, I mean really - Mick's has put his whole bloody life... single-heartedly and passionately into making this music always come to life and have vitality. I mean - Jesus Christ - every band he ever put together ...didn't they do something good? They were always interesting. I loved him. He's just a genius guy. And he's got that great personality. He just loves what he does - he's a good human being. I love the band, I think Bob James is a mighty bass player because he's right in the centre of the beat. Freddie was great when he pulls his finger out because Freddie always played those off-beat rhythms and he sort of kept it what it is, mate. He was the rhythm guitarist, I was the lead guitarist, Bob was the bass player, Mick was the singer and we had a drummer...
DT: and you all had your room...
LL: Yeah mate and we all had our little areas. And we did our job as well as we could from inside those rooms and because of that it was an exciting band. And I think we... You know, for our day we were recording in mono. Not stereo. We weren't in glorious stereo, mate. Every time we put a vocal or a solo or something we had to bounce it across on the run - because you know there was one track and we were bouncing from track to track. I thought we made pretty bloody good records for the days of chaotically bad shit. If we woulda had a TEAC four-track, we coulda made God's own records. But we never had anything that good. We had a bloody mono Ampex valve recorder. And I thought what we pulled was exciting because the music was played by people who loved it. It was passionate. And let's hope any audience that coming along will hear that passion because the passion's everything. And I always know Mick is going to be passionate about it, and I always know Bob's going to be passionate about it because I know these two guys live for this crap. I mean we had so many arguments! People don't have arguments like that - that get so intense; spitty and hissy like a bunch of girls if they don't really dig what they're doin'. If it's just a band, you go "oh well, who gives a fuck?" I've never heard one of those guys say, "who cares?" They went, "no, it's gonna be great!" And Mick's always been "it's gonna be great." And Bob's always been "it's gonna rock!" And Freddie was always there because he wants to be there. Tony Cahill was a king-hit drummer but unfortunately he's hurt himself. But you know Mick's got a great drummer sittin' in there anywhere and he plays great. And that's how it is...
DT: Do you regret that...
LL: ...Mick's always got people around him that can play r&b fantastically. [pause] Do I regret it?
DT: No, I mean do you regret the fact that the Purple Hearts never wrote their own songs?
LL: Oh no I just regret the fact that we didn't make the records we should've made! Because we weren't together long enough to do an album. We went down and made half the singles one weekend, then in Melbourne got another session and we made the rest of the singles that weekend and that was our recording career. And maybe we got into a studio just before the end to say goodbye. But I mean two sessions in just three years of being in a band... Pretty grim. Yet down in Melbourne... The Loved Ones, who were kind of similar... they were kinda influenced by the Purple Hearts... there was no Loved Ones prior to the Purple Hearts believe me. People in Australia don't record this part of history but this is actually the truth: they were in the Red Onions Jazz Band. Gerry Humphreys and the boys used to come along and see us. They loved us! And they loved the way Mick sang. That way he used to stair up to into those high notes. And so we were a big influence on those guys. But they immediately made the Magic Box album - and we were walking around with our same single, a year later. Do you know what I mean?
DT: Yeah.
LL: And we felt like the poor country cousins that went to yobbo school. Never got to go to the real studio. We gotta go down the back, record it in mono; these boys recorded a full-on album with overdubs, vocals, ten tracks and it's an album and it's a hit. Do you know what I mean?
DT: And they take all the credit for it.
LL: Well of course they're taking all the credit for it because they luckily got in first. They don't remember who's really first, they just remember who's first on the records. But the Purple Hearts, they were just such an exciting band. I believe that if we coulda got to make an album it would've been fantastic. And we woulda written songs - bloody oath! Because Mick can invent a blues song in three seconds onstage. You know, I mean he doesn't necessarily remember the lyrics to anything anyone else wrote, he just uses the name. be continued

Halit Gashi - Bill Klintonit

1. Bill Klintoni 8:13
2. Isa Gashi 10:10
3. Hasan Prishtina 4:40
4. Vujatjet e Shqiptarisë 3:34
5. Një Valle 3:12
6. Kënga e Gjermanit 5:19
7. Kënga e Hashanit 7:54
8. Kënga e Zogut 11:25
9. UQK-së 3:28

A set of patriotic songs utilising a sharki and violin duet from Kosovo.

At 320kps here

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Rexhë Gashi & Ibish Broja - Bec Sinani

A Cassette from the late 1990s or early 2000s of epic songs from Drenica's Rexhë Gashi, one of very prim players around in Kosovo's folk music scheme of things. A prim is a small stringed instrument tuned in GGEAD, more commonly played in Croatia and known there as the tamburica. In essence, it's a more primitive version of the Greek bouzouki.

1. Zenel Begu/Fetah Pasha/Valle Populore 28:40
2. Bec Sinani 28:49

Rexhë Gashi - prim
Ibish Mulaku - sharki
Hasan Ibica - sharki
Habib Shala - violinë

Download at 320kps here

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Qamili i Vogël - Kënge Popullore Shqiptare EP 1968

Among the many EPs of Albanian music released via Jugoton in the 1960s by Qamili i Vogël. This dates from 1968 and this pllakë is split between himself and Tahir Drenica singing both cuts on the B side. Though not credited on the front cover, he is pictured second from the left with Qamili to his right.

What I found interesting about this EP was More, e Kam Nji Jaran Si Bylbyl uses the melody of the song popularised by Salih and Feriz Krasniqi from the region of Malisheva who are regarded as perhaps the most revered exponents of Albanian folksongs from the 1940s to the 1980s.

The song in question is Lulzoj Fusha, Lulzoj Mali which vaguely translates as Flowers of the Field, Flowers of the Mountain. Sidetracking slightly here, the interviewer asks Salih Krasniqi about the sources of the songs and their repertoire.

They go on to say that they have played 500 different songs. Songs they've written. Songs they've learned. Songs they heard from their fathers. Songs of history. They'd travel far from village to village by horse and cart, finding songs from locals.

With the rapid westernisation of Kosovo post the 1998 war, such songs and insights will slowly fade away if not preserved properly. It's a great pity that with the advent of the internet in the past decade we have not seen a great deal of discussion or insight on Kosovo's rich Albanian musical heritage in English, let alone in its mother tongue. Hopefully with such postings, such musical treasures will spread past poorly annotated postings on Youtube and in a place where it's far more easily accessible by those who are interested in this peculiar type of Balkan music.

download this EP at 320kps.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Këngë Popullore Shqiptare 1

I remember buying this cassette at Belgrade international airport in 1987. It seemed like a curiosity at the time, considering where the kiosk was. And what it was and remains to be is a sampler of mostly rural Albanian music from Kosovo, recorded during the 1960s and the following decade. It features none other than Qamili i Vogël, the folklorist and ethnomusicologist who typifies the very beauty of Kosovar country-blues.

This cassette (like many at the time before they were made locally in Kosovo's capital Prishtina) was released on the Zagreb-based and state-owned Jugoton, who released many 45rpm EPs, LPs and cassettes of Kosovar-Albanian music. Naturally, this has been long out of print and has sadly yet to garner a CD reissue though the vast number of independent labels scattered throughout Kosovo.

With various world music compilations permeating record stores featuring Albanian music being relatively sub-par, Këngë Popullore Shqiptare (Albanian Folk Songs) represents true scope of Kosovo's traditional music as sung and performed by men and women from all the land's regions.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Ugly Ugly Ugly EP

Released by Rim of Hell Records in 1988, this 4 track 7" EP contains Birthday Party/Laughing Clowns moments of poorly recorded (side a) and above average (side b) inspired(?) Australian post, post-punk.

1. Living in a Sponge
2. Bye

3. The Princess and the Bicycle Thief
4. Pride

Chris Spencer's oft-inaccurate, yet essential Who's Who of Australian Rock describes them as "New Wave pop, Cabaret, Jazz Funk" - and in that order. Ugly Ugly Ugly existed between 1986 and 1990.

Regardless of who they are or are not - because no-one seems to know anyway, this is essential listening and a nice curve-ball for your mixtape, portable playing device or similar.

Friday, January 7, 2011

C'mon Aussie C'mon: World Series Cricket Themes from 1978 and 1979

These are songs from when cricket was played by men who wielded willows for the love of the game. Men who smoked, drank pints, grew moustaches, shagged birds and didn't cry. And look at that fucking team (see photo)! Lillee, Marsh, Walker and the Chappell brothers immortalised in 2:18 of virgin vinyl for all and sundry. This is by far the armchair pisshead's choice of song, and dare I say the definitive version.

The Mojo Singers - C'Mon Aussie C'Mon 1978 by Licorice Lounge

Trying to mooch from the success of the 1978 record, they try again with alternate lyrics and some call-and-response vibes from some fake Carribean accent. Not as arse-wiping as the Shannon Noll version from a few years ago, but close. At least there's a nice reference to Rodney Hogg.

The Mojo Singers - C'Mon Aussie C'Mon (The New Era) by Licorice Lounge

The Mojo Singers - World Series Cup by Licorice Lounge