Monday, October 18, 2010

No Thanks, I'm Waiting for My Boyfriend

First person I bumped into in the street was Al, who had been the sound engineer for so many of those early Brighton gigs. Immediately, he offered to pay for my bass guitar, whose neck had got broken in the Piranha's van on the way back from a gig. Bless him! I told him it had gone to Jimi Hendrix's guitar mender in Worthing, and had had a lot of adventures since then. It lives near Invergordon with Martin now.
Al didn't have a ticket but luckily Bruv had spares so we got him in. Mufti and Sara were just down the road, and Sara lent me some propolis to squirt down my throat. I went to check in with the Punkdaddy himself; Phil was working away, pleased to see everyone as they arrived.
The first set of the afternoon was actually two songs by the Lillettes; Barb was looking incredibly glamorous and they launched into Air Conditioning (?) and Nervous Wreck. They sounded well-rehearsed- I'm sure they'd swear they weren't- but they were actually better than before and suddenly I had that weird feeling of the past catching up with the present that was to be a feature of the whole afternoon. Everybody (almost) was there: Darris from The Golinski Brothers, recovering from being very ill but still looking incredibly dapper; Johnny from Johnny and the Lubes, once a huge Joby and the Hooligans fan; Mark and Sue from The Reward System; Julie Blair, former partner of Rick, who started Attrix Records; Pete Chrisp and Lisa, Pete with his original badges decorating his t-shirt; and of course the bands. Fortuitously, Zoot was over from New York and the Piranhas were well-represented for their later set.
After the Lillettes, the Mockingbirds played a set of two songs; |(the name of the next band escapes me but I will find out and put it in).
 The came the Parrots, ably assisted by Nick Greenwood on bass (brother of The Chefs' Russ Greenwood, who very sadly, died a few years ago) and featuring Rick's eldest son on vocals. They sounded absolutely brilliant and it was exceedingly weird to see how  Rick's son looked and sounded so like him, and even stood with his head slightly tipped to one side the way Rick used to when he sang. It was very sad, very eerie: my hair stood on end.
Afterwards, Phil, who was buzzing by now as the atmosphere was amazing, went off to buy 30 cans of cider for Peter and the Test-Tube Babies who were playing in the evening. He asked me to wait till he came back before playing, so I headed to the bar for a pint of cold water and met a chap who told me that at Hurstpierpoint Boarding School when he was fourteeen, he'd played The Chefs track Thrush constantly and him and his pals found it very exciting! Ha ha! I do think that's funny! He was a nice bloke and he bought one of the new CDs off me.
Meanwhile, a bearded fellow came up and said 'You don't remember me. do you?'
'SMELLY!' bellowed Bruv, and verily, it was Smelly, formerly shop assistant in Attrix Records Shop in Sydney Street. He had a box of Vaultage 79s to give away and asked me to announce it from the stage when I'd finished playing.
Phil was back and it was time to get up and go for it. The audience was lovely and it felt fine; I did four Chefs songs and three 'now songs'. Phil had said to play anything, but while I have been ill over the last month I have just sat there and played my guitar, so I worked out Let's Make Up (I was thrilled when Offsprog One told me later that she thought it sounded like Link Wray), Records and Tea (which sounds like a folk song when you play it on guitar), Northbound Train ( a combination of The Chefs' bass line and the Helen and the Horns version), and 24 Hours (just the bass line). Did I miss having the rest of the band? Yes, of course.
It was fun though to have a go at the songs and nobody seemed to mind the occasional hiccups, though I am sorry, Peter, for missing out the punchline of Records and Tea!
At the end, there was Smelly with his box of records, handing them out to everyone who wanted one. He had found them in the bathroom when the shop closed down and just wanted to share them.
At the bar, Johnny Piranha was getting nervous. His son was guarding him in case he ran away and he told me that his wife had forbidden him to go to the cashpoint in case he escaped! He needn't have worried: the Piranha's set was amazing, right from the start. What good songs they had! Jilly (yes, I remember her, she was a real girlfriend), T-t-tension, I Don't Want My Body, Saxophone, Peter has listed them in his Facebook album and he took much better photos of them than mine, above.
They played a loud, exciting set. Bob was his old, wry self... 'Getting beaten up is part of growing up' and Zoot did some fantastic tootling, all the more so since he told me he'd only picked up his sax again two weeks ago. And Johnny launched into it as though no years had lapsed between this and the last gig they played. Wonderful.
A lot of us were having problems recognising each other. 'Just imagine them all with hair', someone said to me. That was not what I found difficult: it was when people had grown a beard that threw me. But some people just looked exactly the same. Heather from The Objekts, and Sue from the Reward System, hardly seem to have changed at all.
Anyway- who cares? We packed the afternoon out. I couldn't stay for the evening but it looked like that was going to be just as much fun.
Hats off to you Phil for organising a really, really good day that was at once cathartic and rejuvenating.
The Brighton punk scene was unique and quirky; everyone was involved, whether in a band or watching  in the audience, and Sunday recaptured that feeling of all being part of something extraordinary and creative and unique in quite an unexpectedly emotional way
Rick would have been proud to see it, and I was definitely proud to be part of it.


Phil said...

A lovely day. I was really glad to see Julie again. And everyone else. Even Smelly, which he still is...
I hadn't touched the sax for 20 years, till two weeks ago, after I said let's play. I should have checked whether I could play it before saying that, but it went pretty well. I figured if Helen can take 20 years off and then start again, so can I.
All the bands were great, as were all the people there, and for anyone who wasn't there, you would never have known Helen had a sore throat from her singing.

Anonymous said...

Smelly still works in the old Attrix shop - now David's books - which is how he got hold of the old Vaultage 79s, stored upstairs.

I'm amazed at how good Zoot's sax playing was without playing for so long.

Loved your versions of the Chefs songs, Helen, especially Make-Up, which was better than the original!

Pete Chrisp

Jay Derrick said...

It was lovely to see you again Helen, performing and to say hello to, and thanks to you and Bruv for your comments on the Parrots. Your voice was absolutely fine! The event really took me back to the sweaty, crowded places we used to cram into in the Attrix days. Sam Blair was terrific, a better performer than any of the rest of us! He produce wonderful little guitar licks that he never played in the rehearsals! I think both Rick and Russ would have been very pleased.

It was funny you played at the Palatine the day before - is that the Stoke Newington venue? - very near where I live nowadays.

If either you or Bruv fancy it, we're playing in Hackney next month, under the name Parsec (Parrots/Vol Sec you see) at a cancer research benefit with another pub band called King Toadfish - at the Princess of Wales, Lea Bridge Road, on Dec 4th.

Hope to see you again soon, all the best