Thursday 26 February 2009

19 Questions: Frank Sidebottom

This post marks the start of a new semi-regular feature here at 'Start the Revolution Without Me'. 19 questions, to be posed to various musicians, bands and people I like... It'll always be the same 19 questions, so it will be interesting to see how the answers vary over the months.

I'm delighted to say that Frank Sidebottom is my inaugural guest, and provider of the very first 19 answers! Yes, Frank Sidebottom, he of paper maché head, cult comedy hero and maker of genius records for some 25 years or more. Over to you Frank....


1. How are you?
very well boss...

2. Where are you at the moment?
at my mum's in timperley..

3. Who inspired you as a child?
scott, the tracy brothers..

4. What was the first record you ever bought?
one of paul mccartneys first band (the beatles)....

5. What's your all time favourite song(s) or album(s)?
i like all my songs and the mini album "introducing thunderbirds"

6. What was the first gig you ever attended?
i supported r.e.m. at the gallery in manchester in the early 80's (there were 35 people in)

7. What was your 'biggest break' or 'luckiest moment' in establishing your career?
supporting r.e.m. at the gallery in manchester in the early 80's .... their singer said i was "far out" !!!

8. How would you describe the music you make?
ace,.. fantastic ,... and top!

9. What's your most 'Rock n Roll' moment?
being chased by gary glitter's roadies at salford university... (you'll have to wait for the movie).

10. Worst moment of your career?
being chased by gary glitter's roadies at salford university.... (the movie is currently being cast,... but i don't know who will play me yet !).

11. What are you most proud of?
having a movie made about my life (by film 4)

12. One bit of advice you'd like to be able to give the 17 year old you?
"only a year to go till your 18 frank!"

13. If you could perform with any artist (dead or alive), who would it be?
paul mccartney (without wings)

14. Name one artist you really think I should check out?
my manderin greenhouse

15. What's currently on your iPod\CD player?
i've been listening to "tadpoles" - the bonzo's,.. "lil' beethoven" - sparks ,... and camera rolls a & b from the "get back" sessions this week.

16. What's the last album you bought?
"coco rosie" i think ?

17. Which song do you enjoy performing the most?
"mr. custard" at the mo,... and "this perfect day" - the saints.

18. What are you working on at the moment?
"frank sidebottom saves coney island" u.s. vinyl only release,... and two tribute tracks for a john cooper clarke album,... plus my own "e,f,g & h" album,.. and my next "franksworld" animation.

19. How can people find out more about you?

19 cracking answers there (" know they were... they really were...")!! Many thanks to Frank for being such a good sport. As well as his official site, you can also find out more about Frank at the following sites:

Franks entry on Wikipedia

Loads of info over at

Franks official MySpace Page.

Here's Franks' very own version of The Smiths' Panic:

Here's a clip from Franks' TV Show - The interview with Iain Lee is fab!


Sunday 22 February 2009

Piley in Cilla Black 'Surprise Surprise' Style Shocker!

Way back in 2007 I did a post about my first ever gig. It was in 1981, when a 'heavy metal' band called Cyrus played at my school. The postscript to this story was that 15 years later, a chance conversation with a work colleague (Martin) exposed the fact that he was IN Cyrus!! Well, I now have an even better postscript to my postscript!!!

I rarely look at my site stats these days, but as luck would have it I did have a glance a couple of weeks back. I was surprised to see that someone had hit my blog by typing in the following on a search engine "Pete Calvert Cyrus"... Blimey I thought, what's the chances of that?? But when I checked my e-mails later that evening, it all became clear. A certain Mr Pete Calvert was on-line, and couldn't help doing a bit of 'ego surfing', and stumbled onto my post.

The best bit about it though, is that Pete and Martin had lost touch with each other about ten years ago, and 'Start the Revolution Without Me' has been able to re-unite 'em!
I've been speaking to Martin in the last few days, he told me they became friends at Grays Comprehensive school in the early 70s, and Pete was responsible for teaching Martin to play guitar. They started their first band together at school, called 'Bad News' - which I'm reliably informed was years before the Comic Strip spoof heavy metal band! Pete later went on to start Cyrus, and in the early 80's recruited Martin into the band when their original lead guitarist threw in the towel.

According to Martin, the last he heard from Pete was a phone-call sometime in the 90's. Half way through, Pete said "can I phone you back in ten minutes..." Once the new millennium kicked in, I think Martin finally realised the return call may not be coming, and he later heard Pete had upped-sticks to Hong Kong! Pete is now back living in deepest, darkest Essex, and the lads have arranged a hook up. No doubt first on the agenda will be what the hell happened to that return phone call!

So there you have it, the internet works in mysterious ways! If you have a long lost buddy, or are looking for that perfect partner, why not drop me a line and I'll see what I can rustle up!

The below video is especially for Pete and Martin!

Oh and by the way, should this lead to a reform of Cyrus or Bad News, I'm putting in my stake now for 10%!


Friday 13 February 2009

Guilty Pleasures No.162

Every Christmas, the 'lads' get together for their seasonal drink, and every year a 'top 5' list is requested in advance. We've had top 5 films, albums, debut albums, tracks, disappointing albums etc etc, but Christmas 2008 was "all time worst records". Now in my book there's really only two types of bad record... things that can't be taken seriously (e.g. Barbie Girl, Mr Blobby, Timmy Mallett etc etc) and things that ARE supposed to be taken seriously (e.g. anything by Cliff Richard!). I can't get too worked up about the first lot, but I can about the second!

The thing is, everyone knew what my worst ever record was going to be before I even turned up, as it's been the same record for over 25 years, and I doubt it'll ever be beat... Uptown Girl by Billy Joel. I hate every possible thing there is hate about this record, I hate the cheesy sound, I hate those "wooo-ooooo-oooo-ooooh" bits, I hate that pathetic little drum roll towards the end, I hate the use of the word 'mine' like this.. my-yi-yine, and the word 'time' like this... tie-yi-yime', I hate that smug video, and I HATE when they play it at naff weddings or parties and people start linking arms and kicking their legs... why do they do that??!

But now here's the rub, and promise me you wont tell anyone... I like Billy Joel! And the REALLY surprising thing is that I got into him after Uptown Girl!

Between about 1984 and 1988 I ran a record shop (and it really was records in those days!). Around 1986 a guy opened up a shop opposite me selling sports shoes. He was a really nice guy, and turned out to be the brother of my hairdresser at that time. The only problem with him was his obsession with Billy Joel! From opening time to closing time he played Billy Joel, every single moment of every single day. Uptown Girl was still fairly fresh at that time (only 3 years old), and I made sure I let him know how much that record sucked! But over the months, the more I heard, the more I realised there was more to 'ol BJ than I thought. Eventually, the guy compiled me a tape of bits and pieces and I have to say it won me over. I'm pleased to say Uptown Girl was not on the tape! In fact, nothing much past the 70's was on there, and for me, that is the period where the mans genius lies.

I guess like many artists who keep going through the decades, Joel's career has been 'watered down' over the years, and is now no doubt seen as some kind of sub-Elton John non-entity. Yet believe it or not, in the 70's and very early 80's (i.e. pre Uptown Girl!) he was a musical force to be reckoned with, and his first 9 albums are all pretty much essential listening. I've picked them all up over the years, but have never dared venture any further. Yeah, there are the lovey dovey romantic ballads in there (Just the Way You Are, She's Always a Woman etc), but there are also some raw, angry songs in there too.

Lyrically the songs he wrote for these albums are incredibly clever and intelligent, they are Dylan-esque at times, sometimes Springsteen, sometimes McCartney\Beatles... but always Billy Joel, and he can tell a story through a song like no other. Take Piano Man for example, which tells of a young Joel, when he used to play in bars and clubs, highlighting the unfulfilled dreams of both himself and the clientele...

Now John at the bar is a friend of mine
He gets me my drinks for free
And he's quick with a joke and he'll light up your smoke
But there's some place that he'd rather be
He says, "Bill, I believe this is killing me"
As his smile ran away from his face
"Well I'm sure that I could be a movie star
If I could get out of this place"

Or how about Captain Jack, about the neighbourhood dealer he used to see selling heroin to the local kids when he was growing up in Long Island.

You sister's gone out, she's on a date
And you just sit at home and masturbate
Your phone is gonna ring soon,
but you just can't wait
For that call

But Captain Jack will get you high tonight
And take you to your special island
Captain Jack will get you by tonight
Just a little push 'n' you'll be smilin'

Then there is Tomorrow Is Today from his debut album in 1971. The lyrics to this one come from the note Joel had written when he tried to commit suicide the previous year.

People tell me life is sweeter
But I don't hear what they say
Nothing comes to change my life
So tomorrow is today

Though I'm living and I'm singing
And although my hands still play
Soon enough it will all be over
'Cause tomorrow is today

Scenes from an Italian Restaurant is a masterpiece. An incredibly complex track, which at times sounds like McCartney at his tip top 70's best. This almost 8 minute track is 3 songs fused together (much like Macca used to dabble with), and tells the story of a restaurant called Fontana di Trevi that Joel used to frequent. In the song he recalls some of the diners and the conversations he overheard.

For me, my favourite will always be The Entertainer. At first listen it sounds like a nice jolly affair, but listen to the lyrics and find a barbed song highlighting his frustrations during the early years of his career, when he was being generally ripped off by the music business. When Piano Man was released as a single, the record label decided it was much too long (almost 6 minutes), so drastically cut it to make it radio friendly (and cutting half the story it tells in the process). Joel was incensed by this, and there is a reference it in The Entertainer:

I am the entertainer,
I come to do my show.
You've heard my latest record,
It's been on the radio.
Ah, it took me years to write it,
They were the best years of my life.
It was a beautiful song
But it ran too long
If you're gonna have a hit
You gotta make it fit
So they cut it down to 3:05

The other thing I love about this track is how it builds up momentum as the song progresses. It starts with a simple acoustic guitar riff, then adds more and more instruments with each verse. Have a listen here:



PIANO MAN - Live on the OGWT


CAPTAIN JACK (audio only)

If you asked me for one essential Billy Joel album to pick up, it would have to be 1977's The Stranger. More than 30 years on, it is still a stunning piece of work.


Thursday 5 February 2009

I Name This Shop...

Back in the late 70's/early 80's, a near legendary punk outfitters called 'NASTY' was the place go in Southend for all your alternative clobber. It eventually closed, but the shop has re-opened (and subsequently closed again) dozens of times over the years under many different names, but never recapturing the glory of its heyday.

The shop has been empty for some time, but in December 2008 it re-opened its doors to once again offer the 'yoof' of Southend some alternative clothing (all be it in a more 'emo-friendly' kinda way). The name above the door is now 'Threads Atomic Dustbin', and I bet the new owners musta worked on that one for days! Mind you, I'm reckoning that the only people who will get the 'joke' will be in their 40's (Neds never really were a household name were they??!), the same people who will have little interest in shopping there!! (I mean, do they even make those massive black flared jeans in 40+ waist size??!).

On discussing the name change with another former 80's goth-type in the office, we were sure we could come up with something even better. Since then, the text messages have been flying backwards and forwards, with the puns getting worse and worse as the days go by. Here are just some (the least worst!) of the rubbish we came up with....

We started off trying to think of more emo-friendly bands, like:

  • Bonnet for my Valentine
  • System of a Gown
  • Mink 182

Then, being old buggers, we had to widen the criteria a bit...

  • All About Eve-ningwear
  • Anti-Nightware League

Then, in desperation, it was just ANY type of shop!!

  • punk delicatessen - Ham 69
  • Mad-chester baby clothes - Nappy Mondays
  • goth dog kennels - Bow-Wow Haus
  • goth Mexican restaurant - Alien 'Tex-Mex' Fiend
  • shop specialising in toilet rolls and tissues for Metal lovers - Bums & Noses
  • Electronic shoe shop - Baltic Feet
  • a shop split down the middle selling fruit preserves on one side, and hob-nobs, digestives etc in the other, or to put it another way - Half Jam, Half Biscuit (look, I was pretty desperate by this time OK??!)

Oh you get the idea, and yes, these were some of the better ones!!! I therefore hand it over to you dear reader, to provide me with more (better??) band related shop names, come on, don't be shy!