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For Richard Havers and Helpless Dancer.

How They Are Related

Two regular correspondents here at TBLFP. Richard recommends his friend Bill Wyman’s band The Rhythm Kings’ version of I Put a Spell On You (featuring Beverley Skeete). Although this isn’t as good as Nina Simone’s recorded version, it stands up well against any live version I’ve heard.

Richard will also recognise this from Bill Wyman’s Blues Odyssey which he co-produced. Helpless Dancer will also recognise it as he was the one who supplied me with it and first recommended Bill W’s band. The track is by Bo Carter (from the disc entitled ‘Rude Dudes’) and I’m sure he would have had no problem with the toilet signs in an earlier posting today!


Moderation – Robert Service


When pious people label vice
I reckon mainly pleasure;
I dream that women, wine and dice
Are good in modest measure;
Though sanctity and truth receive
My hearty approbation,
Of all the virtues, I believe
The best is Moderation.

Be moderate in love and hate,
Soft pedal on emotion;
And never let your passion get
The better of your caution.
Should Right or Leftist seek to goad
You from the course that’s level,
Stick to the middle of the road
And send them to the devil.

Though rich the feast be moderate
In eating and in drinking;
An appetite insatiate
Is evil to my thinking.
Though ladies languidly await
Your kisses, on your way shun
Their wiles, but – well, be moderate
Even in moderation.

Avoid extremes: be moderate
In saving and in spending;
An equable and easy gait
Will win an easy sending. . . .
So here’s to him of open mind,
Of sense and toleration,
That hope of headlong human-kind,
The Man of Moderation.

I Think I Could Take a Wild Guess!

From Ananova

Banana and peach surprise on menu

A pizza restaurant in China has confused customers by using banana and peach signs on the gents and ladies toilet doors. The fruity markings were spotted by officials in Zhengzhou city conducting research on the city’s public signs who concluded that more than 60% are unclear. Researchers said that during the 10 minutes they spent outside the pizza restaurant toilets all 12 customers were confused and hesitated before going inside. “We were not sure which one stands for men. Does the banana represent a slim woman?” said a male customer. Other strange toilets signs were discovered, including ones that used pictures of a waterfall on the gents toilet door and rain on the ladies. Research director, Zhang Liang, has recommended that the local government issue regulations to standardise public signs.

I Put A Spell On You

Helpless Dancer featured this track in his mini Rhythm and Blues feature. The song was written by Screaming Jay Hawkins but I feel that Nina Simone made it her own with this magnificent version.


Going Out West

The Waits obsession continues.

Things Can Only Get Worse

Very sad news this week about Gerry Rafferty apparently drinking himself to oblivion. The Scots singer/songwriter is an alcoholic but in recent times his consumption has gone into overdrive. A couple of weeks ago his old sidekick (they performed together as the Humblebums) Billy Connolly is believed to have arranged rehab for him in the Republic of Ireland only for Rafferty to check himself out after only a few hours and fly to London where he booked into a Mayfair Hotel. After a few days of intensive boozing, he left the room in need of complete redecoration. The hotel refused to let him stay any longer and he was admitted to St Thomas Hospital with liver failure. He has since disappeared from the hospital and is the subject of a missing persons search.


The Humblebums, Rafferty and Connolly

I became aware of Gerry Rafferty through the single Stuck in the Middle With You the eponymous Stealers Wheel album and its Leiber/Stoller produced follow up Ferguslie Park. Also around this time a friend gave me the solo album ‘Can I Have My Money Back?’ The two Wheel albums stand the test of time even now (the third and last ‘Right or Wrong was a rather lacklustre affair) and had it not been for Rafferty’s stubborn refusal to tour the USA and then leaving the band for a while, there really is no telling how far they could have gone given the high quality of their output.

His solo album City to City was almost certainly his finest hour. Whilst popular music was being revolutionised via punk and new wave, Rafferty’s album along with Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours flew the flag for what was labelled AOR or Adult Orientated Rock. The worldwide hit single Baker Street established Rafferty as a star but not for the first time he shunned the limelight, was uncomfortable with fame and refused to capitalise on the success of the album by touring the US. The follow up album Night Owl was another impressive selection of songs but perhaps because of the reasons just mentioned it didn’t hit the heights of its predecesor. When 1980’s Snakes and Ladders attracted relatively poor sales, it seemed that Rafferty’s period in the limelight was over. Over the next 20 years his output was patchy to say the least. At best he could be bracketed with Paul McCartney or fellow Scot and alcoholic John Martyn in terms of songwriting, lyrics and arrangement, at worst a sentimental MOR balladeer. The track below was from his last album ‘Another World’ and is a rework of the old Humblebums song ‘Keep It To Yourself’


Rafferty has a reputation in the music business for being difficult, uncommunicative and stubborn. Even his own friends family members have shared in this frustration, a situation made no easier by his increasingly severe drink binges and apparent refusal to confront them. Perhaps the performer (and if he is to be believed writer) of one of rock’s most famous riffs (the intro to Baker Street) Raphael Ravenscroft gives insight into Gerry’s modus operandi.

“In fact, most of what I played was an old blues riff,” says the sax musician. “If you’re asking me: ‘Did Gerry hand me a piece of music to play?’ then no, he didn’t.” Ravenscroft’s fee was a cheque for £27, which he says bounced anyway and is now framed and hangs on his solicitor’s wall. Rafferty has not attempted to make further payment, and Ravenscroft has chosen not to pursue the matter of a song that guarantees Rafferty a yearly income of £80,000. Since the song thrust Rafferty into a spotlight that has made him deeply uncomfortable ever since, maybe Ravenscroft is right to regard the riches of ‘Baker Street’ as tainted money: “If I had received pots of money, I wouldn’t have known what to do,” he remarked recently. “It might have destroyed me.”

(source – The Scotsman)

Baker Street contains the line ‘he’s gonna give up the booze and the one night stands’. Sadly for Gerry Rafferty he never did give up the booze. One fears it is now too late.

Footnote: A member of the Rafferty family who I know, has told me that the claims made by Ravenscroft are not true and that there are other errors in the Scotsman article such as the timing of Gerry’s brother’s death.