By kevinhewick, Nov 20 2016 02:49PM
Not a ever normal port of call on the Leicester gig circuit this show only happened to be because the `Loaded Dog landlord then (whose name sadly evades me, sorry..) was a fan of my Factory Records output...
...and this release 18 years later only happens to be because my dearly missed friend Paul Allatson slipped a C90 into a tape deck that was wired to his mixing desk that night.
All these years later Dave Dixey of Sorted Records fame has kindly made a digital transfer from the original TDK cassette and Jim Tetlow has mastered it and given it some great artwork using photographs taken by me of that actual tape, the venue today, the Ovation guitar I played then and 'Billion Pebble Beach' legend Smokey as 'The Loaded Dog'.
There are plenty of popped "P's" and my trusty Ovation guitar goes rather astray tuning-wise at some points - and my fascination with my then new Roger Meyer Voodoo vibe pedal (based on the Univibe Roger made for Jimi Hendrix) leads to some overtly swooshy sounds at times and I blow doing a complete take of 'The Loneliest Kind Of Lonely' altogether but we've kept it on.
It's raw and it's real.
As 'Helpline' had just been completed the 13 song set features 8 numbers from that album - though it was still 6 months away from being released.
There are also a couple of things from the Factory era, a really good take on 'Morphia' and 'No Miracle', the 1993 revamping of 'A Piece Of Fate'.
The three other songs have never been released before at all - the wistful 'My Minstrel Girl, Wandering', the angry 'Firepower' and, for me the find of this whole collection, 'Paperwork', a lovely and charming piece that got it's debut on this evening and was inexplicably dropped thereafter though I think it just got lost in the chaos to come in my life soon afterwards. I've even relearned it since hearing this version and I think I will feature it live again, it's a true lost gem.
There was no stage there then, I had people sat all around me as I performed on floor level. It was mostly a good natured atmosphere though it turned a bit sour at the end. The recording doesn't pick it up but two guys started arguing because one began to play on rather loud wooden skittles and the other fellow objected threatened to "glass" him saying he was listening to me - I remember pleading with them both to cool it and the would-be 'glasser' said he didn't care, he was on bail for manslaughter anyway! Thankfully the situation was defused.
A lady whose name evades me now came for this show all the way from Manchester. She was part of an early pioneering online project that was gathering stories and information for a book on Martin Hannett that indeed come to fruition a few years later by the late Colin Sharp. I remember she sent me a copy of the official CD of Bob Dylan's 1966 Manchester 'Judas' concert as a thank you for my contributions.
I think this gig was a bit of 'comeback' from a mostly quiet time of having been a family man since the birth of Bethan in 1995, although there had been all the work we all did for the ambitious Braunstone Town arts festival in 1996, occasional treks to play at The Mean Fiddler in London and The Guildhall in Leicester, various Sorted Records related antics and the 15 month process of making 'Helpline'.
Paul Allatson did most of my live sound in the 90s be it solo or band. He and I were non-drivers so my then partner Claire would transport us. She was a good sport about that and we had some nice times with Paul. Our little team had a time of being expanded with Paul's son Lee on drums and Tom Westmoreland on bass.
The Loaded Dog marks the end of that era.. Claire and I were to part in 1999 and Paul passed away in 2001 and Tom in 2008. I'm pleased to say Lee and I have still worked together the odd time and you'll hear him with me on the next Unfolk album out in early 2017.
I can hear the stars I was reaching for, my songs were good and my guitar playing here quite impresses me. I was convinced I was heading towards something significant.. I retain that conviction to this very day but it seems a bit of a longer time coming than I expected it would be in my 1998 incarnation.
And the longer you live the more lost worlds you lose.
I quietly returned to The Loaded Dog for the first time in 18 years the other afternoon. I sat with a coffee as a big screen showed the aptly 90sfied 'Friends' with the sound turned down. (You can see that on the photos I took that appear as you play each track on Bandcamp.) Not only has 'The Dog' kept going it still looks fairly like it did though there is a low little stage area now but I reckon they'd want the Ed Sheeran covers I cannot ever give them, I can only offer a ghost of my younger self...
Kevin Hewick November 19th 2016