I’ve mentioned more than once before in these blogs about how my past keeps coming back to delight me lately. Well, it can bloody well scare you too.
But in a good way.
My dear friend Gray Ettrick, who stood shoulder to shoulder with me for 6 desperate years in Shotgun Wedding dreamimg of rock stardom that never materialised, was the one member of the band who kept everything relating to what we got up to. And I mean EVERYTHING.
Not just photos from the entire history of the band from 87-94, but flyers from pretty much every gig we ever advertised, or ones that were advertised by venues on our behalf; then there’s reviews of us, both national & local, about live gigs and recordings…and then there’s the recordings themselves.
Oh but good grief, the recordings!!! I mention these in particular as Gray sent me a CD this week of stuff he’s found whilst trawling through boxes and boxes he has kept in some bedroom or other at his place. They are truly the audio equivalent of those naked baby photos of you that your Mum shows to new girlfriends on their 1st visit for Sunday lunch. These tunes, you think to yourself, are not for public consumption!! Ever!
Not that there’s been an outcry for Shotgun Wedding’s ‘vault’ to be prised open with a crowbar and for umpteen demos and live nuggets to be released on iTunes to a rabid audience. Ricky Gervais’ podcast download records are safe I think. No, these are not selections you’ll see available for streaming on this site anytime soon. Well, maybe not…
The weird thing is this – I pride myself (and always have) on being in possession of an excellent musical memory. My wife berates me regularly for forgetting the spring onions I was meant to buy from Tescos, but ask me how the riff went in a Shotgun Wedding song that only ever got played a few times before being jettisoned and I’d have instant recall. Even now.
Or so I thought. The CD Gray’s sent only has about 12 tracks on it (he’s threatening with no small amount of menace to send a shedload more) and at least 3 songs have sections and riffs on there I simply cannot remember writing or being part of, even having listened a few times to try and transport myself in spirit back to the rehearsal room where said songs took shape. And I can still smell that rehearsal room now somewhere in my nostrils
Is this a sign that I’m going senile, or is it just the riffs concerned were that godawful I’d have blocked them from my mind 5 minutes after they were consigned to the great set-list in the sky, never mind 20 years on? I’m banking on the latter, naturally.
Once I got over that aspect of it all and listened intently to the recordings Gray sent (some live, some studio) it both fascinates and frightens in equal measure. On one hand I don’t know why I thought I was such a good drummer in my early 20’s when, on this evidence, I clearly wasn’t. Not dreadful by any means – just nowhere near the standards I believed I was setting. Only when I listen to later tunes from the band’s last couple of years together (’92 – ’94) can I not squirm in my seat, either at my playing or the quality of the material we were coming up with. That said, we did hit the mark on occasions in our early days, just not as consistently as we (or record companies watching us) would have liked
On the other hand, we must have been imbued with the spirit of The Ramones without realising it when we played live, as the songs Gray found from a gig at The Barrel Organ in late ’89 are played at a scandalously fast pace compared to the speed I THOUGHT we played them at. Well, that’s testosterone and adrenaline for you I guess. Or perhaps a desire to get to the bar afterwards quick smart and find out whether the A&R guy from Frilly Pink Records had indeed showed up as promised? He usually hadn’t.
Whatever it was that affected the pace of the shows, it made us make early Metallica sound like Leonard Cohen. I have that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach (combined with a sort of nervous excitement) that the next instalment of Shotgun Wedding ‘classics’ will torment and delight me once more. Bring ‘em on Gray!!!