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Age Fright

Article from Making Music, April 1986

Did you ever wish old people liked the same music as you? This will stop you.

Remember when you were a nipper and wished furiously that your grey haired parents only had the sense to appreciate the same sort of music as you. Supposing you grew up, and they did...

"Do you want", says Sheila, "the four pounder?"

Eric turns from the wall and gives her a look without many teeth in it.

"I only ask, y'see, because you don't really seem to be making much of an impression with the top of your head"

Eric removes his skull from the impressive dent he is introducing to the plaster, and screams. "Fer grise sake shut that berluddy noyse. I can't 'ear miself emmoraging." He pants quietly into his t-shirt. On the other side of the wall, elephants continue their dance in G, seemingly unaware of Eric's request.

"It's no good..." sudden panic grips his eyes like two pliers "er... SHEILA!... ha, sorry, it's no good, the noisy bugger's gonna be at it for hours. Wish I'd never let 'im near the record player. 'Rehearsing' he calls it. I'll put him in a hearse all right if he don't turn it down. SHUT THAT ROW."

Sheila rises with a well turned cloth and wipes the spit off the wallpaper. "Don't sit with your face so close to the sideboard Eric, it scares the goldfish."

"The goldfish can knob off I'm going in there to sort the bleeder out."

He leaps from the settee pausing only to thrust his hands deep into its groaning covers and tug out fistfulls of horsehair, ramming them into his ears for protection ("Horsehair makes a really brilliant y'know, sound insulator, 'cos, like, have you ever been able to hear any noise when horses fall over on westerns?" -Stoned Sound Engineer Magazine.)

Hurtling into the corridor, he throws back the door of the lounge and is instantly crushed against the banister rail by the blast of music vomiting forth.

Great gouts of sound spew from the portal - a digital drum machine with a snare like an icepick in the ear, screeching keyboard chords and a bass pedal which makes Concorde sound as if its voice hasn't broken.

Abruptly the din subsides, and with the windpower support removed, Eric slumps to the ground. A vicious and weasely mush pokes out from the doorway. It speaks, "Sorry, son, I've found this really good flute stop on the Lowrey. I've just got the last half of the Midge Ure songbook to do and you can have the room back for your homework."

"Look, vicars is dead clever, and he will suss this one straight off I'm telling you." Axe-rack Skullcrusher, otherwise known as Bob to his Mum, takes most of his left fist from the remnants of his right nostril and fondles his guitar in the funny sort of way that makes you think he was more interested in leaving something behind than picking something up. "I just don't fink he is going to go for the practising-for-the-school-play bit"

Gorad the Metal Nosegrinder casually flips over the sportsbag which says 'Derek', and pokes a finger in Axe-rack's skinny arm. "Yes he will, because the beauty of this scheme is, the gear will work for us. We are never going to get that church hall for rehearsal if the Jesus-janitor thinks we're playing music. So we say we want to practise for the school version of 'Joseph and His Amazing Wossname' and we'll only be singing."

"But I still don't see - where does the gear come in?"

"That's the clever bit" grins Metal, jumping down from the bench and drawing himself up to his full height. There is silence.

"Oi, Metal, why have you disappeared behind the table?"

"Shuttup." Two hands clasp the table ledge and appear to be making a muffled grunting sound. Metal heaves himself up into eyeline again. "What I was saying was we tell him we're doing a MODERN version of Amazing Wossname, set in a music shop, and that we have to have the amps and stuff to, like, 'dictate the atmosphere'. Once he swallows that, we'll get in the hall, sing a few bits until he's gone off to water the pews, or something, then we'll start the rehearsal S'brilliant!.."

"S'all right boys," whispers Metal, grinning round at the church hall, now full of Marshalls, winking effects LEDs and glittering six strings promising acoustic death, "he's gone." And as one, they crash into the first number as if the survival of the world depended on their ability to split the atom with the leading edge of a speaker cone. But their triumph is shortlived as the door to the hall splinters open beneath the well padded shoulder of a furious cleric.

"I thought so, you little toe-rags. Joseph and His You-Know-What indeed, did you really think I was so daft? Every church in the neighbourhood knows your game. We've been after you for months..." Metal cowers from the Biblical rage, and feels the stiff prickle of a speaker cloth against the back of his neck.

"And now we've got you... the whole Ecumenical Council will celebrate this one... we finally nailed the blasphemous little swine who are playing 'Stairway To Heaven' with an E instead of an A minor 7. You'll suffer for this..."

"Or would sir perhaps wish to see something in an Ibanez? The Ibanez is a personal favourite of mine, sir, a very snug fit to the inside of the thigh. I do believe it will suit sir vair well"

"Er.. well, really I just came in to look around."

"Look around, certainly sir, certainly, please feel free to try on anything that catches the old yeux. We at Simone's Bespoke Instrument Boutique are here to help you choose the instrument that plays right, wears tight and stays bright. It is our fondest wish to put you on the proper path to a musical career and we will be glad to assist you towards the purchase of any of our splendid items... but not sunburst"


"Not sunburst. Not with your colouring, sir, if you don't mind me saying. Sunburst I see for the taller figure, and dark hair, and no moustache of course. But not you sir, no. If I might be so daring as to suggest that sir is a rhythm guitarist? Yes? I knew it. Maurice...!!! Didn't I say when he came in, rhythm guitarist I said... black then is your shade sir. And if I might be ever so slightly naughty, black does help just a bijou bit when sir is made in the, how shall we say, substantial mould."


"Heavens NO sir."

"You're saying I'm fat. Listen, I only came in here to look around and you're calling me a porker, a bloody barn-bummed gutso."

"Well, if sir does not require our expert advice and no obligation to buy fitting rooms..."

"I do not require an expert to tell me about my waistline, or how I dress, or what guitar I should wear, I require an expert to sell me a bloody DRUM KIT!" "At once. Peter. See to this gentleman, please."

Peter arrives. "Now sir.. .something with a pinstripe, perhaps?"

"Mr Morris, take a seat I have a few additional questions to ask you before you can leave the DHSS offices today. This won't take long... unfortunately.

"I understand you answered in the negative this morning when our claimant officer enquired if you had been gainfully employed within the last seven days. Now I have here a list of venues... Mr Morris are you feeling all right - no in the bucket provided to your left if you must... a list of venues, Mr Morris, which in the last week have acted host to a rock band by the name of Maggie Thatcher's Suicide Guffers.

"Ah, I detect from your reaction that you are acquainted with the organisation in question, perhaps even, by the vehemence of your reaction, the, ah, founder.

"It has come to the attention of this office that the Guffers have played for remunerative benefit on four occasions in the past week. Now I'll come straight to the point Mr Morris, we have had representatives in the audience on each of those evenings and it is quite clear to our officers that you are not, in fact, a synth-based heavy funk trio but are... a Country and Western Band.

"Yes, Country and Western. Now Mr Morris, do you remember signing a document when you first visited this office; sub-clause B4: "Ways to make a few bob without the miserable grumpies at the social getting to hear about it". Under this heading you wrote, and I quote: "Playing in a funk band five or six times a week and getting at least a 50 in me pocket, minus ten for the van and PA". That was a lie, wasn't it Mr Morris, because all along you were actually engaged in: "Wearing silly hats and cowboy boots and turning out turgid old Country and Western rubbish but at least you cop a straight ton and a look up the landlady's poncho".

"We do not appreciate deceit at the DHSS, Mr Morris, especially not from anyone who's better at it than us. You are depriving good honest soul-hearted street funksters from doing a decent day's fiddling."

"Right, we'll have your benefit off you, thanks very much, and I can only suggest that you see our concerned and well meaning social worker on the way out She will listen sympathetically to your problem and help in the best way possible. She'll break your fingers. Good day."

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The Buyer's Bible

Publisher: Making Music - Track Record Publishing Ltd, Nexus Media Ltd.

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Making Music - Apr 1986



Feature by Paul Colbert

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