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May News

First of all, a huge and heartfelt thank you to everyone who’s had a listen to or downloaded my releases from Bandcamp. I’ve had a lot of positive feedback about these collections of tunes. There will be more of them to follow throughout the year. Check out what I’ve done so far at http://andylewisuk.bandcamp.com/.

Secondly, there’s been a lot of love shown towards the remix I did of “Carry On” by Lisa Stansfield. It’s available on a limited-edition 7″ right now from Soul Brother, Soulstacks and a variety of other places on the Web. But hurry!

Thirdly, I’ll be DJing at The Boom Boom Room in Bideford, Devon on Saturday May 3rd. Info HERE . It’ll be something of a Locomotion reunion in the sense that I’ll be sharing DJing duties with Wendy May for the first time in ages. Also guesting will be Tom Crawford from those splendid scenes in Worthing that I’ve been lucky enough to take part in recently. On Sunday May 4th, I’ll be a guest DJ at the Stockholm Soul Party at Brixton’s Jamm club. Info from HERE and also HERE.

Fourthly, I’m sure you’re all by now aware that Paul Weller’s releasing “Modern Classics Volume 2” in a couple of months. What you might not have noticed is that if you pre-order the album from his website, you get put into a draw to win tickets to some very intimate London shows. You should investigate this link for further details. Also, if you haven’t seen it already, the video to “Brand New Toy” can be viewed in all it’s glory here. I’d no idea that you could have so much fun with a giant Toblerone made out of mirrors.

Finally for now, a bit more on the whole Britpop thing. I’m pretty sure that the journalists currently enjoying themselves finding ever more creative ways to express their displeasure at the events of twenty years ago are doing this less from the point of view of historical accuracy and more from the point of view of having had twenty years to get their stories straight. I broadly agree with them that our current troubled pop culture world is a desperate and benighted place. I can’t agree that it’s all the fault of people who chose The Bluetones over Orlando. The trouble with being a futurist is that sometimes the future arrives, and it’s not what you personally hoped for. Thus it was at the end of the Eighties. Lest we forget that some publications were excitedly anticipating a Nineties brimming with New Age mysticism. While not everything about what became known as Britpop was brilliant, it was at any rate better than that.

 

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“Bloimey! Modern Culture Don’t ‘Arf Like An Annivers’ry”

This week in 1994, Blur released “Parklife”. 20 years later, The Guardian newspaper published a couple of pieces on Britpop that made my blood boil. Here’s the first, by Michael Hann, and here’s the second, by Paul Lester.

There’s loads to hate about the times as portrayed in those articles. Yes, a life of drug-fuelled showing off in the public eye is never going to be a lot of fun in retrospect. And when you look at what has happened to popular culture since, it does look rather like everything that’s happened post 1997 has been a race to the bottom in pursuit of the lowest common denominator. Not to mention embarrassing photographs taken at a champagne reception with an alleged war criminal.

What is happening during “The 20th Anniversary of Britpop” is a wholesale flushing away of babies with bathwater. Back in 1994 nobody felt the hand of history upon their shoulders. Those of us that were writing songs, crate-digging for interesting records, writing think-pieces in obscure publications, drinking and dancing and screwing, were too busy to have an eye on a future legacy. We had no idea what was around the corner, though we hoped it would be better than the road we’d been travelling along hitherto. What became known as the Britpop era was home to both a very simple concept (pop music made by people in Britain) and a whole host of disparate, occasionally conflicting influences. The bands that rose to prominence during the mid-90’s didn’t come from nowhere, although some of them seem to have risen without trace. They arose from a generation who sought to fashion the elastic jumble of pop culture’s past into something new.

It didn’t always work, and it wasn’t always brilliant. But the intentions of that generation, my generation, our generation, were good. One day someone will tell our side of the story.

 

The “Bassetlaw” mini-album

Sometimes a change of scenery is the best inspiration. I never get tired of living in London, but there are occasions when you feel like you’ve seen and heard it all. All it takes to lose that cynical mindset is a short train journey up what I call the “Get Carter” line out of King’s Cross. Head north, past that amazing new windfarm near Arlesey;  through Peterborough and the RTV-31 on your left just before you reach the station; past RAF Alconbury’s Cold War ghosts, over the Trent at Newark to the old Powerhouse of England. Pasts, presents and futures blend into a different reality, all soundtracked by whatever is on my ipod at the time.

Since my parents moved from Watford to North Nottinghamshire in 2012, I’ve had more occasions than ever before to travel up that railway line. In the garden of the house they’ve moved into there’s a small outbuilding. A shed by any other name. They very generously allow me to store in it some of my belongings  that are too big for my home in London. This inevitably includes various pieces of recording equipment and musical instruments. There is a theorem about music making today that states “wherever a laptop and a kettle can be plugged in, there you can make records”. As this shed has both mains electricity and a cold water tap, it has everything necessary for use as a makeshift  studio. Last year I spent a very happy week exploring the quirks and qualities of shed-based recording, and found it was a very viable option. The songs I wrote and recorded there form part of the catalogue of material that’s going to be on an album by -well, I can’t say at the moment but it’s nearly ready and it’s sounding excellent.

A couple of weeks ago I had occasion to spend a few nights at my parents’ home, and spent some of the time fooling around in the shed. I had a lot of fun playing my junkshop drum kit and tinny cymbals, a battered Squier Stratocaster through an old practice amp, an ancient Yamaha organ, an Indonesian acoustic six-string, a lovely but fantastically heavy Waterstone bass guitar and a noisy miscellany of percussion.

Sharing shed space with my bits and bobs is a selection of my father’s redundant tape recording equipment from the days when he was one of the leading lights of the Watford & District Talking Newspaper. A collection of reel-to-reel machines by makers such as Uher, Vortexion, Revox and Ferrograph and a small but useful selection of quirky old microphones from Shure, Adastra, Beyer, Radio Shack and AKG form part of this treasure trove of audio-geek joy. There is also a pile of boxes containing unmarked and un-cared for reels of old tape. I spent an evening fortified with red wine coaxing some of this machinery back to life and exploring the boxes of tape reels, discovering that I still knew how to make tape loops and create echo effects the way my dad had shown me nearly 40 years ago.

With the change of scenery and surrounded by myriad sources of inspiration, songs seemed to write themselves- an unusual situation for me. Before I knew where I was I’d recorded a dozen new ideas. When I returned to London at the end of a most enjoyable few days, I had a listen to what I’d recorded and thought I’d polish up the most promising ideas into another Bandcamp release. So here it is, the “Bassetlaw” mini-album.

It’s the eve of Record Store Day. Up and down the land, physical format enthusiasts like myself are girding themselves for the now annual scramble to acquire the latest big-ticket Exclusive Record Store Day releases by their favourite artists. While I’m broadly in favour of Record Store Day (although can we please call it Record SHOP Day in the UK), I really don’t like the way that most of the “Exclusives” end up on eBay a couple of days later for vastly inflated prices that benefit neither the shop, the artist nor the label. At least with this Bandcamp release, there’s no danger of that happening!

What would be lovely is if the major labels who now seem to call all the RSD shots staggered their “Exclusive” release schedule throughout the year. Limited edition physical releases could then be made available every week or so to the few remaining independent record retailers. That way, every Saturday could potentially be Record Store (SHOP!) Day. You know, like it used to be.

A better brain than mine discusses this very subject at length in The Quietus.

To show your support for record shops, you should order what’s left of my physical stock from your nearest independent record retailer as a matter of course. If you don’t live near one, you can always order for delivery. Norman Records for example carries quite a lot of my stock. If all else fails, order direct from Acid Jazz or through their eBay shop.

In other record news Streetsoul will apparently be selling vinyl copies of my Lisa Stansfied remix from Tuesday.

Maybe see you at Paper Dress tomorrow night or at Chocolate in Watford on Easter Sunday for some Northern Soul.

Bassetlaw Cover Art smaller

 

 

Easter DJing / “A Brand New Toy”

On Saturday April 19th I’ll be back behind the decks at Paper Dress in Curtain Road, Shoreditch, London. It’s going to be another night of live music with me providing a soundtrack of all things bright and beautiful before, between and after from around 8pm until it finishes. It’s free to get in.

On Easter Sunday, April 20th, I’m paying a visit to Watford to DJ at a Northern Soul night at Chocolate, opposite the pond in the High Street. This is the building that was The Oliver pub in the 70’s, then The Artichoke in the 80’s. It’s going to be a lot of fun trying to recreate the “South Herts Symphony” Sunday Club vibe. Expect some fabulous Northern Soul sounds; some you’ll know, some you might not, all will be on vinyl.

Some of you might be aware that Paul Weller has a new single out on Record Store Day. Apparently the a-side is already available to listen to and download on iTunes, as part of the package for his new album “More Modern Classics”. Investigate “A Brand New Toy”  here; you’ll be able to hear that we had a lot of fun recording this particular tune. More details on the limited Record Store Day vinyl release can be found here.

 

 

April News

Many thanks to everyone who came to The Smugglers Return in Worthing on Friday April 5th. A splendid time was had by all, and the experiment of streaming the event live on the Web was a great success with over 400 people listening in. I’m sure I’ll be back there again soon, along with the excellent Tom Crawford who along with his partner Heather were fabulously entertaining and accommodating hosts.

I’m next DJing in London on April 19th at Paper Dress in Curtain Road, Shoreditch, and on April 20th I’ll be in Watford DJing at a Northern Soul night at Chocolate on the High Street, opposite the great big hole in the ground that might once again be a pond by the time the event happens. 

On the subject of thanking people, I’m very grateful for the amount of positive feedback shown so far for my releases on Bandcamp. The “4-14-44” EP and “Songs For A South Herts Symphony” mini-LP have regularly featured in Bandcamp’s chart of best-selling pop releases. If you haven’t investigated these recordings, you can find them here . There’ll be more material exclusively on Bandcamp throughout the year.

Physical releases of my back catalogue are slipping out of stock fast. There are no plans at the moment to re-issue any of them so once they’re gone, they’re gone! You can find them on the Acid Jazz eBay store or direct from the Acid Jazz website . 

In other news, May, June and July see me back on the road with the Paul Weller band. I’m really looking forward to being reunited with Paul, the Steves, Crofty and Ben, and the shows promise to be excellent. For news of where we’ll be playing, follow @paulwellerHQ on Twitter, or check out www.paulweller.com .

Talking of Crofty and Ben, check out the latest release from The Moons… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBZK2q8AtUg 

An email to Sajid Javid MP

I just received an email from Sajid Javid MP about the new Conservative notion that liberalizing the pensions market is just what this country needs to further inflate the property bubble and get older people spending money, as they’re the only people who seem to have any. He wanted me to sign a petition seemingly to get the government to do something that they’re going to do anyway, which seems to me a total waste of bandwidth.

Recently I’ve been getting a lot of these emails from Tory MPs. I’m utterly at a loss as to why they choose to write to me. After all, I’m not Conservative supporter. Then I remembered I took part in a survey a little while ago, where I was given the opportunity of expressing my opinion on a range of Conservative policies. This is the survey that has recently been exposed as nothing more than an attempt to compile a database.

Usually such communications would get a stiff ignoring. As anyone who knows me will probably tell you, I’d sooner piss blood than vote Conservative (and having recently had kidney stones, I know what I’m talking about). Anyway, I chose on this occasion to reply, and this is what I wrote

Dear Mr Javid,

Thank you for your email.

As I am the kind of entrepreneurial self-employed striver you identify as being key to the economic security of the country, maybe you’d like to take a look at my “pension plan”, to wit; the songs that I release as part of my career as a freelance songwriter, musician and music consultant. You will find my latest material here- http://andylewisuk.bandcamp.com/ and my back catalogue can be obtained via iTunes- https://itunes.apple.com/gb/artist/andy-lewis/id79038214

Whilst incredibly grateful for the increase in the personal income tax allowance in the last budget, I can’t help feeling that a much more useful tax cut to people on low incomes would be a reduction in VAT. I also feel, by way of an aside, that since the only years I qualified to pay the higher rate of income tax were under a Labour government and that since the coming to power of the Coalition my actual income (as opposed to turnover) has plummeted year on year, I can’t associate your party or its policies with feeling personally better off. Still, at least I’m not on benefits so I suppose it can be said “there’s always someone worse off than yourself”- and in the words of the great Peter Cook (in the voice of Harold Macmillan) “it is the policy of the Conservative party to see that this position is maintained”.

Wishing you a pleasant evening- andy lewis

PS Did you get my email address through that survey from a few weeks’ back?

PPS Tell Grant Shapps that I STILL don’t remember him from WBGS.

Songs For A South Herts Symphony

I have released another collection of tunes on Bandcamp. Called “Songs For A South Herts Symphony”, it’s eight pieces of music that were destined for my third album for Acid Jazz, which was sidelined in 2011. 

The full story of the album and why it was shelved I’ll save for another day. For now, have a listen to the music and if you like it, tell your friends. If you really like it, you can buy a download which you can put in your iTunes playlist or burn to a CD and enjoy anytime, anywhere.

http://andylewisuk.bandcamp.com/

 

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