October. Song. Poster.

Lea says:

I think this was done some time in 2008. It was course work from when I did an Audio Music Technology degree at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge. One of Geoff Batty’s* courses as I recall.  I had a flat for a while in St Matthew’s Gardens, with a very odd shape, and acoustic material recorded quite well in there. This was done with a pair of AKG 414’s in a ORTF setup, with nothing added. The concertina is a Lachenal Excelsior. I quite liked it but it went during the 2012 -2013 financial crisis (personal not global) – probably about the time that Naomi was putting Robin and Bina on at the Portland Arms.

Naomi says:

The gig was only a few days away when I learnt there was no poster for it. After the initial disappointment and realisation I would have no keepsake from a gig where I shared the stage with my hero I quickly knocked this poster up at work. I still consider this one of the best things I’ve ever drawn.

Poster for Robin Williamson, Portland Arms, 11 October 2012
Poster for Robin Williamson, Portland Arms, 11 October 2012

* here’s a pic of Geoff seated at the organ!

The Purple Gang: Granny Takes a Trip

Jo Beard contacted me a few months back to see if Naomi and I would be interested in contributing a couple of tracks to an album celebrating the life of the late great Trevor Crozier – one of the giants of the much maligned Scrumpy and Western genre. I spent a little while working with Trevor back in the nineteen sixties – the very last few months of 1969. They say if you can remember them then you weren’t there, but it’s the seventies I can’t recall! I’ve agreed to write some stuff for the sleeve notes. It was a long time ago, and a as I look back I’m not finding it easy to do. Better then to put something about Jo here for now 🙂

Jo, of course, is inextricably tied up in my mind with The Purple Gang and their classic “Granny Takes a Trip” single. One of those songs where I can remember to this day exactly where I was when I first heard it – the lounge of  The Langham Guest House, Charlotte Street, Brighton.

What I didn’t realise was that I had already seen the Purple Gang perform live at one of the Manchester Sports Guild’s Monday night shenanigans – what would now be called an open mic session. Then known as the Young Contemporaries Jug Band, they were a bundle of energy. So it was no big surprise that they were now off down to the Smoke with a record deal and on the old radio. Granny Takes a Trip is one of those classic songs that never quite made it. The legend is that it was banned by Radio 1 because of it’s drug references. I’m not so sure.

The thing was that while The Gang might be off down to London with a record deal, it was actually key to make sure that the deal was with the right label, and Transatlantic Records was not the right label! Tim Hart gave me two valuable pieces of advice – bizarrely during the period that I was hanging out with Trevor Crozier. One was don’t sign to Transatlantic Records, and the other was to always make sure when signing a record contract to get as much money in advance as you possibly can because none of them will ever pay royalties. I managed to follow the one piece of advice, but not the other when I signed to Transatlantic a couple of years later for what was then their largest advance ever. Much to the annoyance of Bob Pegg of Mr Fox who were also with the label.



Terry Southern & the History of Virgin Records

Virgin Records book sleeve
Cover of Terry Southern’s History of Virgin Records

I guess the story of Lea’s “Virgin Years” will be told elsewhere, but here’s a quirky little thing that turned up a few years ago. Richard Branson commissioned Terry Southern to do a History of Virgin Records. When, I’m not sure? But it was after he had flogged it all off.

Terry of course claimed he wrote the screenplay for Easy Rider. There seems to be some argument about this, but he certainly wrote the screenplay for Dr Strangelove and Barbarella.

Anyway, I got a whole page in the book and here it is:

Lea Nicholson
Lea Nicholson from Terry Southern’s History of Virgin Records

I must have really liked dressing up in those days!

Here’s some more info on Terry Southern