Seeing us through to the end of the year we’ve reached out to a number of our favourite artists and cultural creatives to join us in celebrating good things. A bunch of five things that make their world go around, inspire them or just need celebrating for what they are. There’s no theme here. It’s no kind of "best of year" round-up. These are just five things of the many things identified as making the world a better place to be. We’re all about positivity. Almost all of the time. We promise…
Birmingham musician Dave Twist had a productive 2022, compiling the Un-Scene LP that documented his city’s early 80s post-punk music scene. Meanwhile Dave’s band, Black Bombers released "Last Bite" arguably one of the great punk protest records of the year. When Dave steps outside music, he is the man behind those iconic T-shirt designs for Rotunda Industries. Dave’s Bunch of Five things he delights in is coming right up. Take it from here Dave…
THE ROLLING STONES ARE FOR LIFE
Less my first two years on earth - of which I remember not a thing - the Rolling Stones, the band, and I are the same age. I'm not sure when they crept into my consciousness - as bogymen, hair-joke punchlines - filtered through from a black and white TV screen and my conservative - with a small 'c' - mum and dad. They fully arrived for me in 1972 or '73 with a secondhand 45 picked up from a jumble stall at the school fete. 'Street Fighting Man' was just freakish, warped, the speed seemed off - the slurring of the vocal and the blur of the toy drum kit and cassette-recorded acoustic guitar. I tried it at 78. Nope. I played it again. Then again. It was thrilling and I needed more. A kid I vaguely knew had an elder brother - they lived at the bottom of the Close. He had a copy of 'Beggar's Banquet' but was persuaded to trade it for the cricket bat that had hung in our garage since we'd moved in a year before. The black rubber grip around the handle was already starting to perish. Deal!
They've been the constant - 78, in 82, they seemed so old when they were more than twenty years younger than I am now. You can map your life out by them - maybe come to terms a little with what's coming down the line. - In 78, in 82, they seemed so old when they were more than twenty years younger than I am now. You can map your life out by them - maybe come to terms a little with what's coming down the line. They disappoint, they've done awful stuff. They fuss and tinker with their legacy - write and re-write their own history. But there will come a dreadful day when, like Charlie, they're not there anymore. Dave Kusworth understood all of this. Their essential place, their pull. We'd travelled with my other longest and best-est friend Gareth, the three of us, to see them the last time they passed through - in Coventry, the Stones have a mortal dread or complete contempt for the city of Birmingham, having not played here for fifty years. It was Charlie's Birthday. And then the pandemic swept in, and both friends were gone, leaving me as the last guy from that taxi back to Birmingham left alive.
Hardly a day goes by that I don't think about all of that.
THE LUDWIG SUPRAPHONIC
"The most recorded snare drum in history", yada yada... but there it is - the smacking drive on 'Get Off of My Cloud', Hal Blaine on everything, John Bonham. Art Deco 'Imperial' lugs, a little bit of early 60's creative hype and mystery around its material of manufacture - 'Ludalloy' - basically aluminum. Light and liable to detune throughout your opening number but easy to tweak back in and to maintain.
Took me the longest time to discover the things. I went years, stupidly, cranking and abusing wooden snare drums in search of the sound that was being telegraphed to me - you would think - in most every live photo of Charlie Watts I'd ever pored over. My teenage eyes trained totally on the Kings Road clobber rather than the hardware.
We're on the Costa Brava, mid '70s. Dad has been doing very well at the Triplex Glass factory and we're the first in the neighborhood to travel abroad. And it is - looking at the fading snapshots - a very Carry On abroad. It's hotter than I've ever experienced and everything seems wildly different and exotic. Franco is still in control - which explains why machine gun toting Police seem to be everywhere and why the New York Dolls debut album has a different, censored cover. As do 'Country Life', 'Sticky Fingers' and The Velvet Underground's live '1969'. Why do I find that so fascinating? Why must I find and own a copy of 'Berlin' with 'The Kids' edited out? 'Rock 'n Roll Animal' without 'Heroin'. Why do I still collect up all of those textured full-coloured picture sleeve singles that I found that afternoon while taking refuge in the record bar in the dark back room of a tourist gift shop? Picture sleeves were unheard of in the UK then. Some of them replicate the LP cover that the single was taken from. How cool is that? Still!
KISS: a confessional
In 1974 or '75 I saw the cover of that debut - 'With the Beatles' cast as four Alice Coopers. Genius! And there was I, on the rebound, still hurting - from the breakup of the original Alice Cooper Group. And it should have clicked with me there and then. But it was a dull lumbering thing inside that wrapper. Where the New York Dolls slashed, exploded, were clearly a gang - KISS didn't ring true. Of course they didn't - they were the cold-eyed construction of two out-of-luck studio hacks.
But they get to you - that simple black and silver symmetry. Changing in its details but always staying essentially exactly the same - the repetition numbs you into submission. A pop-art behemoth - Barnum and Bailey, Disney and Warhol - insanely collectible.
And then there's the soap opera. The band and its extended retinue harboured a whole plague of unforgivably monstrous gargoyles. Lunatic swindlers, hustlers, fakes, flakes, playground gangsters, pathological narcissists and worse - how could the laws of average upend themselves so totally? How did such utterly flawed company find each other? Their story unfolds daily and ever downward. I'm afraid I'm hooked.
They're the just the greatest. They train you into a kind of happy Gilbert and George existence. They like the same places, the same stuff, at the same times every day. Life has a rhythm.
Dave's band Black Bombers in Outsideleft here
Black Bombers on Facebook and at Easy Action their label
Rotunda Industries website
Jason Lewis is a Birmingham based music, movie and arts obsessive. Jason's encyclopedic knowledge of 80s/90s Arts films is a debt to his embedded status in the Triangle Arts Centre trenches back then.
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