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

Available now from Bandcamp (name your price)

By kevinhewick, Jul 22 2016 08:18AM

Exciting news from the Sorted Records facebook page:

"Helpline" by Kevin Hewick is the latest in our expanded re-issues of classic Sorted albums. Originally released in 1999, it now features 5 bonus tracks, one previously unreleased. Available now to download or stream on iTunes, other digital platforms will follow shortly.

This has come together very quickly, Dave Dixey said to me about doing this as part of his digital reissue of the Sorted Records catalogue at my The Criterion show less than 2 weeks ago and now here it is..

Hitting 40 and as the decade and century was ebbing away I made another doomed bid to 'come back' and recapture my 80s 'heights' with 'Helpline'. Dixey gave me a HQ, The Durham Ox and being a part of the hip and happening Sorted roster.

The album we ended up releasing demanded the formidable studio production skills of the late great Paul Allatson, Kevin Bayliss AKA Reverb, Gaz Birtles and Steve Baker and guest appearances by Gaz, Paul and son Lee and Jock and Matt Kerry.

It took an unanticipated long time to record, 15 months, a gap of 5 months between sessions at one point. I felt it slipping away from me, I was just too desperate to try to get something back that I never quite had. I have perspective now and I can listen to this like it was someone else, some erratic cult figure from long ago. I can hear how hard he was trying to be.. something.. A lot of the people close to me then have died or refuse to speak to me these days and I can hear the unease about that in the lyrics.. Project normal family man was soon over and then I had no appetite to promote this beast. It got just one national review, a highly sympathetic one by Joe Cushley in Mojo magazine but within a couple of months of it coming out life events had totally swamped me and it was like it never happened, I was just a phantom night after night stood at the bar of The Royal Mail, a wonderful lost Leicester pub that's as gone with the wind as a lot of the emotional landscape of 'Helpline' has gone..

..but however much I cringe at certain aspects of my performances they are very unique songs, inventive and weirdly beautiful. They do reach out to you dear listener if you let them.

I had even forgotten about some of them, maybe purged their memory even, but I was very touched to hear them again, like an out of body experience.

Dave Dixey and I have also looked at the vast amounts of out-takes alternate versions and mixes and one truly remarkable desk recording Paul Allatson did of a 1998 live set I did at an unlikely venue, The Loaded Dog.

I think a lot of this will also emerge in some digital form quite soon.

The bonus tracks here are my contributions to Sorted Records compilations Tour-Ars-Fit, Suction Prints and Havock Junction and an amazing unreleased dance trance mix from 2005 of 'The Loneliest Kind Of Lonely' by the enigmatic Soul Sonic Sauce, a man said to somewhat resemble Ed Bryning so I am told..

17 years on I still feel nervous about all this stuff. Stripping yourself so bare can turn you into a skeleton and often nobody thanks you for it.

And older but no wiser I'm off stripping again with my new new album 'Touching Stones, Tasting Rain' which is next up later this month - hey, I figured I might as well flood the market..

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