Keep Your Flipped Wigs On.
Song by Song by Kevin. Feb 2008.
As Paul Morley and Stuart Maconie ain't gonna do it for me here is my 'Southbank Show' style track by track commentary of 'Keep Your Flipped Wigs On':
After a gap of nearly 30 years I bumped into my old Countresthorpe College friend playwright Jez Simons of Hathi Productions at BBC Radio Leicester in December 2006.
He there and then suggested that we work together on a 'rock musical' no less but this proposed project made little progress until August 2007.
Between those 8 months all that we'd done had been to meet a couple of times in Blaby's Bakers Arms and Leicester Starbucks and we'd spent a day in May viewing a possible band who turned out to not fit the bill for the show.(We had originally thought there would be a real performing unit writing their own material and me there more as an advisor than a writer.)
There's quite a bit about this 'grey area' period in my 2007 blogs on www.kevinhewick.co.uk
Otherwise I had just written songs 'blind', unsure of how they'd fit in, if at all. As it was only one song and a bit of another that had exsisted before August got used for SOHRs.
Everything else then came together at great speed between late August and mid September and was then recorded at great speed too at with the evercalm Alan Jenkins at his Cordelia Studios with just Flash of ist on the drums and myself doing all the guitars and basses and vocals.
This was concurrent with Jez and the cast making the play appear from virtually nothing - in less than three weeks!
My daughter deciding at 12 to be a drummer in the show, making her the youngest member of the cast, added to my own sense of personal involvement in it.
My mother / Bethan's grandma had passed away in July and I think we both poured ourselves into SOHRs as a reaction to that. Frivolous as much of it may seem our emotions over the summers events ARE there within the songs..
This is a deliberate throwback to the stark solo electric guitar/vocal appoach of my Factory Records/Cherry Red era of the early 80s.It's as much me talking about my sense of failure over "what I could have been" as it is 'Richard's' on a track that wouldn't sound out of place on my 'Such Hunger For Love' album of 1983.
This old man dirge very much wrong foots the listener as to what the rest of the album is like.
The 'real' school of hard rocks arrives with a mass of feedback that surges into demented Thin Lizzy guitars with a would be Hooky bassline.Singingwise I tried to phrase it like Larry Cassidy of Section 25 who is one of the great attitudenal rock vocalists on a par with Johnny Rotten/John Lydon, Shaun Ryder and Liam Gallagher.
Having seen the OTT new version of 'St.Trinians' at the cinema recently I reckon this and the next song would be perfect for the proposed follow up they're going to do -does anybody know how to get these songs over to them for consideration?
ROCKSTARS DON'T NEED TO PASS EXAMS
A phrase I scribbled down at one of our Starbucks pre-production meetings.
Amazingly the monsterous bump n' grind riff is all on one unoverdubbed guitar, my 1978 Gibson Les Paul Custom I used throughout all the sessions.Alan Jenkins had a Marshall 4x12 stack but as well as that beween the instrument and the amp I put my 1991 Marshall Shredmaster pedal.The result was the most awesome electric sound I've ever got, an orgasmic beast that howled and screamed and wept - but enough of me back to the guitar playing lol..
It's all over in 1.20 which is a second longer than Elvis doing 'Let's have a Party', an old 45 of which I used to repeatedly spin on the Dansette as a kid.I love the idea of a short, wordy song that you can play again and again, it's the same with Eddie Cochran doing 'Twenty Flight Rock' innit?
ANY CRAP WILL DO
So in my running order Richard has had his moment of self pitying contemplation before the new intake of rockskool kidz all burst in full of attitude and rebellion.
However mention of a 'Battle of the Bands' get's them all to work on trying to find a winning formula of sound and style.
With one exception to be seen later our would be rockstars soon find that 'it's all been done before' and end up realising that 'Any Crap Will Do' to get on in the contest.
I told Flash that this was meant to be like Bowie's 'Hunky Dory' era and between us I think we captured that feel spot on.
I reckon the main riff would be great for the backing music an advert on the telly - would be good to 'sell out' and be subversive at the same time with them using a song called 'Any Crap Will Do'..
..oh and yes, the title is a send up of Rice/Lloyd Webber's 'Any Dream Will Do' - of course!
And: I was glad to give the man, Shaggy, a mention in this number, he is one cool dude alright..
SAVE THE GANNETS
This is Hew 2 with their planet saving eco anthem.
I can appreciate Bono's no win situation - rich rockstar does nothing and gets slagged out.Rich rockstar does something and gets slagged off even more than if he did nothing - however calling Blair and Bush the Lennon and McCartney of third world aid was a major yuck gaffe on his part.
The bit in the song that says 'I can even get the Pope to wear shades' is from a true incident where Pope John Paul tried Bono's ''fly' sunglasses on.
The gannets really are an endangered species so I actually feel a bit guilty about this song.
I have to say Vikash Patel as the deluded Bono wannabe Trupac has made it his own, all shades and dancing with the lucky ladies he picks from the audience.We also include a version by him after the main album with The Gannet Girls on backing vocals - Bethan and her mum Claire - a real Partridge Family moment for us..
ROCK 'N' ROLL TANTRUM
This was the only complete song I had before late August 2007.I'd written it and been playing it live since the spring.My friend and NHS workmate Julie G recalls me repeatedly singing "OLD FOOLS KEEP YOUR FLIPPED WIGS ON" as she did the ironing on a nightshift we shared at a now closed care home called Oadby Bungalow.Hence it seemed apt to call the album by one of the first lines of lyric I made up for it.
I have to confess hands up this is a blatent attempt to sound like my beloved Neil Young and Crazy Horse, the masters of slow, angsty, overdriven plod rock.
In the opening words: "Lord let me scream over dirty power chords" I was thinking of Kurt Cobain.In fact I don't scream at all, it's sung softly.
The sense of paranoia - refusing the 'offer' of THEIR 'screwed up world', the credit cards, the whole defient stance of the song, it's all very me really except I DID enter into the screwed up world of their credit cards and got into a surreal mess, pure waking nightmare stuff.
This theme of our 21st century modern life of malfunctioning systems and gadgets and material things is returned to in other songs on the album.
The earlier version had a line about "binge drinking like Oliver Reed" but I updated it to "binge drinking/binge drugging/like Amy (Winehouse) 'n' Pete (Docherty)" to show I'm 'in touch' with the 'modern scene'.
This became angsty sincere rock rebel Vixens 'keepin' it real' song in competition with Trupac's 'Gannets'.
He invites everyone to sing along.. but Vixen tells everyone to LISTEN..
CHANCES ARE FOR CHANCERS
I thought Hathi might have left this one out of the show, it's a reflective piece on the price of fame, just me and an acoustic, but it turned out to that it fitted in a very good scene between Richard and his protege Trupac, a moment of doubt on the road to their (supposed) triumph, a post victory comedown.
I had a notion that this half of the album might be about after their winning the contest, where the charecters would find their new found 'stardom' came at a price, that they were on a 'conveyor belt' like the X Factor.. but I was just speculating about where the plot might have gone, Jez and I didn't create things together and he did changes to the script that I couldn't have second guessed right up to just before the first performances at Phoenix Arts in mid September.
i POD TRASH
Just as 'Gannets' and 'Tantrum' interconnect so do 'i Pod Trash' and 'Will get fooled again'
Here one modern toy is breaking down - by 'Fooled' the whole system has gone to pot.
I always saw this as a dumbass bubblegummy number with no great meaning, just a techno kiddie tantrum as opposed to a full blown head on rock'n' roll tantrum.
The only pre-2007 bit I used on KYFWO I had the riff from a throwaway song I did in 2004, '47 Crash'.I always wanted to come up with a classic, wicked hook like Lou Reed's 'Sweet Jane' so I guess I did here.
Flash was often told to play like John Bonham on Led Zeppelins 'Physical Graffeti' and that of course made me Jimmy Page so the intro is our nod to 'The Rover', one of my fave under-rated Zep tracks.
In January 2008 Rakhee Thakrar and Meera Pathak did a new vocal version of this over the original backing - they sound like the new Shampoo to me, it could be the hit we need..
Pink Floyd's 'The Wall' in three minutes.
Recorded the day after I'd written it, I was very excited by having this viking raid of a solo acoustic rant of a song that I now love to do live.
It explores the almost fascist power of a band on a worshipping crowd, Joni Mitchell's 'Tax Free' also does this to great effect, contrasting Christian heavy metallers with TV 'right wing hawk militant' evangelists - "..hold a screaming guitar / or a bible in your hand.."
I also meant that Trupac and co have now swallowed the myth so much it can only come crashing down on them from hereon..
WILL GET FOOLED AGAIN
As well as Led Zeppelin another huge passion of mine is The Who, and I pay an obvious tribute to them in this title.The revolution of their song has indeed fooled us again - under a mountain of not only i Pod but also Nokia/ Nintendo/ KFC/ McDonalds/ Subway/ X Factor trash..
The riff is avant-garde rockabilly, it's lineage includes The Fall 'Fiery Jack' , Lene Lovich 'Say When' , PJ Harvey '50 ft Queenie'.
Jay 'Burzootie' Burnett mastered the whole album into the red, crank it up and this one'll blow your speakers, it's heavier than heavy metal.
ANSWERS ON A POSTCARD
I have called this the most personal and revealing song of the collection but in many ways it's protagonist is the opposite of me.He has totally broken down then given up, I broke down and then came back a stronger artist and human being - he has a conventional job / lifestyle and a wife and kids who don't want him to remember who he was and what he did in case it threatens their stability / normality.
But he is constantly reminded, he has 'freaky flashbacks' and is recognised in the bank where he now works.He tries to settle for a pipe and slippers life but he's sat in an electric armchair smoking his slippers.. a session of this DIY ECT and he's showing off with his trolley (off his trolley?) at the local 'funky supermarket', which is also a nod to the good folk who work in such venues - my mum was once one of them at the Co-op.
And that's it really, last overdub on the main album was the bassline on 'Postcard' and then there's a tense lone reprise of 'Rock 'n' Roll Tantrum', again in the spirit of Neil Young and his contrasting solo acoustic and electric band versions of 'Hey Hey My My' on 'Rust Never Sleeps' and 'Rocking in the Free World' on 'Freedom'.
Then for a bumper bonus we have Vix and The Gannet Girls in October and some 'Hairbrush Karaoke' backing tracks for people to sing their own versions over and 'Anorak 12" mixes" for 12 inch single versions that don't actually exsist.
Cover art wise we worked at Flash's abode, listening to bootlegs of The Beatles Sgt Pepper sessions, Buddy Miles 'Them Changes', Dusty Springfield and the brilliant Radiodread who do reggae versions of Radiohead.
When Flash hit on the idea of combining two dissolving pictures of the band for the front of the CD I exclaimed out loud that it reminded me of The Doors 'Absolutely Live' which is also a very enigmatic cover with them with THEIR BACKS to the camera, likewise here for 'Flipped Wigs'.Flash being a true rock buff he had a copy of The Doors album ,of course, and he then saw what I meant.
The players having their backs to the audience was perfect - they are internalised, facing the beat of the drums not the roar of the crowd.
Whatever THAT means.. ?
Hey, not a bad song by song really then eh, better than Morley and Maconie could have done as it turns out lol..
Kevin Hewick Monday February 4th 2008.. birthday of Natalie Imbruglia.. and me.. and Alice Cooper..
..and 25th anniversary of the passing of Karen Carpenter..