Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Just Another Average White Christmas

A very happy Christmas and New Year to you all, after what has been something of an up-and-down year for most people it seems. Aren’t they all, though, when you look back on it over a 12-month period – who could honestly say that their year has been nothing but joy, success and gay abandon from end to end? Maybe when you were about ten you could probably think that way, especially since almost none of today’s complex and inexplicable customs, mores and distractions were a part of life then, unless, of course, you were born after 1972 in which case forget it – none of this applies!

What does apply, though, is the fact that we here in the Over-age White Band have seen it all, and what‘s evident is what we live through today and have to deal with on an hourly basis would have sent better men than us running for cover back then if they had so much bombardment in a week or a month, even. Never mind the televisual, radiophonic and multisensual blitzes that savage our consciousness incessantly, but just the schedules and expectations put on everyone in this infancy of the 21st century are enough to keep you permanently on a state of high alert (and anxiety) and off-balance a great deal of the time, which makes any reasoned attempt to qualify a totally great year difficult, to say the least.

Nevertheless, we’ve had some great moments to carry us through this year, from the great snowfall that trapped us in DC for three days last February (albeit with a fine Irish pub in the hotel, which ensured a recent-record weekend bar tab for AWB...nothing that would have challenged the old days, you understand) to the very opposite, a fine weekend’s reward in the Bahamas and Florida as some kind of payback. That one had its own little hiccup, though, as the US base-ball season seems to go on forever and it ended up with the Florida Marlins contending for the final game on our gig night, which somewhat dented the crowd we would have had otherwise. Come to think of it, that same extended season caught us in Boston (with the same results) a week or so before that with the final couple of games of THAT series. Our usual second house at Scullers was by then delirious, drunk or delusional, depending on their team colours, and certainly were not heading for a jazz club either of these final nights. So add these elements to my aforementioned life-complications and you get the yo-yo factor I mentioned.

We had a fairly triumphant return to Japan this year after an absence of some little time, and a reintroduction to the greater audience at the Mt. Fuji Jazz Festival, which was held on one of the hottest weekends of the year there. It’s a fantastic setting up in the mountains at the old Formula-One grand prix circuit at Gotemba (now held at Suzuka, as those who follow the sport will know) and the view was incredible till the late-day heat haze blocked out the world.

The music on offer was fantastic, too, and the Brecker Brothers (who used to play on our early albums) made an appearance, closing the first night’s show with some amazing (and amusing) moments both musically and comedically. Randy is still a fine dry wit on the mic. besides one of the few trumpet players I can actually listen to, let alone enjoy. Funny, Brian Dunne and I share the same view of trumpet – if it aint the best, it’s a friggin’ test. Marcus Miller and his two ‘projects’ were on display each of the two nights, and right after us on Sunday, Nile Rogers and Chic gave a spirited performance – the first time Onnie or I had ever seen them live. The Chic girls were stunning, and seeing Omar Hakim do that set on drums, then turn around into a deep jazz thing with Marcus right afterwards was pretty amazing stuff. Unfortunately our bus had to leave before the end as the return journey to Tokyo on Sunday night totally eclipses the Long Island/New Jersey to New York City extravaganza one encounters on summer weekends, by at least double...and then we all had early morning departures back to the States and UK respectively.

While there, though, we reacquainted ourselves with the British jazzy-soul group Incgnito, which led to a double bill at London’s Forum to end out our performing year in style. This came as the finale to our European/UK tour in November – our second tour of duty there this year, after our May success – and it seems to herald another revival of sorts for us in Greater Europe. We had some success through continental Europe in the mid nineties, but have pretty much been UK-bound in most recent years, so it’s always nice to find territories opening up again as a new generation of funksters discovers the roots, and the root-ers with them. We are already set for the UK leg of next year’s first visit at the end of May/beginning of June, so hopefully we’ll be able to continue this trend past that and get a fill of food, wine and other delights of the Continent.

Whatever, we will have all our usual commitments in the States, beginning in April with a Nor’Easter lasting about three weeks or so, and taking in some of our favourites such as The Birchmere for a couple of nights at Easter, and The Keswick near Philly for a couple the following weekend, as well as other perennials like Turning Stone and Harrisburg, to mention but a few. If I miss anything, it’s because I’m a lousy ‘lister’ and it will all be available on the website, placed by our professional and fully-qualified ‘lister-of-events’ and master-of-web, himself. I’m in the wrong union for that sort of thing. 

I will stick to the matter-at-hand instead, and reiterate our holiday greetings to all of you, whichever continent you’re reading this on, and whatever particular festive proclivities you have, be it Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa or Buddha’s Big Bash, and we look forward to seeing you in the year absences accepted or excuses tolerated. 


Monday, April 14, 2003


..and not a moment too soon. The sun has reappeared from its gray cocoon, the temperature has risen above chilling, the war in Iraq is over, the despotic rule dispelled and disbanded, and now the looting, rioting and arson can begin in earnest. How wonderful to know that the Iraqis are just the same as the denizens of South Central LA, the only difference being the Iraqis don’t appear to have any weapons of mass destruction. It was all a ruse – I can see the headlines revisited in twenty years by the History Channel...”Saddam was a ‘Sweety’- Was only planning grand firework parade for Iraqi children”, along with the classics from yesteryear “Archduke Ferdinand still alive – World War One a mistake”; shipping news: “Marie Celeste arrives at Liverpool” and “Ghenghis Khan named Turkish ambassador to U.N.” If truth is the first victim of war, then read on – I’ve got some great lies for you this month.

Average White Band Gives Up On Album – Can’t Be Bothered !

Well, let me dispel that ugly falsehood at once...I was there when they finished it, and I saw it being hauled away in the big truck to the manufacturers – and I have a piece of paper that says “deW no pish”, I’m sorry it’s upside down, it’s “Ship on Wed.” which means THIS WEEK. The brand new, never before seen or heard, first studio record in seven years from those darlings of the Twilight Home and pension fund, the Overage white Band, have a new release
“Living In Colour” (that’s color in English) ready for YOU at their first concerts of the spring beginning next week.
A platinum moment in a plutonium-seeking year, folks, and all coming to a theatre near you – if you live in the nippy Northeast that is, for now anyway.

We are going to subject you to an initial ‘private’ release on our own label for this upcoming tour where you will only be able to get your copy at the gigs, or online via our website sales department; it won’t be available in stores right away – that will come nearer summer time when people can brave the trip to Tower, Borders or Sam Goody in shorts and t-shirt (AWB, of course) without fear of frostbite or the need for kapok clothing and foot-warmers en route.
Hopefully, it’ll turn out to be one of those great summer records that we measure our lives by – or used to before we had things like mortgages, tuition fees and tax-days to serve that purpose.

AWB’s Album “Living In Colour” A Ripoff Of D’Angelo, Maxwell And The Whole Neo-Soul Patrol”

Another filthy lie, I tell you. Not once did the pair of them cross my mind while writing these songs, let alone either of them call me up to see how it was coming along. I was actually listening to old Mamas & Papas tapes and the odd Cowsills record, deliberately to avoid such malignant critique at this delicate stage so soon after birth. (it weighs 8lbs.6oz by the way, and it’s a girl) The only things we ripped off were bits of old Average White Band – who doesn’t? – some Temptations, Stylistics, Spinners, Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Stevie Wonder, Memphis Horns, Les McCann, Eddie Harris, The Crusaders, and all the usual suspects that have sat on our shoulders through every album we’ve ever made. So eat that one, you swine!

Alan Gorrie walks out on AWB Project

Well, yeah,.. but I’d left my wallet at home – and I came back an hour later, but they’d finished without me, so it’s not strictly true. Look, I was only given a year or two to come up with tunes for this record, and when all but eight of them were thrown out for riotous behaviour, I got a bit ticked off; wouldn’t you? Anyway, we worked it out in the end, thanks to immeasurable contributions from Klyde and Fred and Matt Noble, our co-producer with whom I used to write many years ago (Sticky Situation, and I’ll Get Over You, from the Aftershock album), and when they found I had rolls of quarters for the parking meters, they more or less begged me to come back. How could I refuse those sad, pleading faces?

Average White Band guilty of murdering classic songs

Not Guilty!! First of all, the evidence is purely circumstantial – no-one has heard anything yet, your honor, and even then the headline betrays a callously subjective viewpoint from those who might consider any rendering of original hits to be sacrilegious and blasphemous, unless slavishly copied and unmodified.

True, we have delved into two songs that have long been favorites – in the case of “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me,” one that has been around AWB since the very first days of the band with Robbie McIntosh at the helm, and with “Love Won’t Let Me Wait” a tune we had fantastic reaction to when we performed it in Europe a couple of years back, as an encore, and which Onnie & I did last year on a BBC unplugged session for a Scottish morning talk show. It’s also the only damn song I can sing just as easily at eight in the morning as I can late at night, so if any of you radio & TV casting directors need early am. promo slots featuring somewhat live music…’s your chance.

And so, if that’s all the innuendo and prevarication you can muster as a measure of misplaced pique in the face of our admittedly-oft-postponed album offering, let me assure you that it should be well worth the wait; those of you who have heard snippets live, such as “Down To The River”, “Think Small”, “Check Your Groove”, and “I Can’t Help It”
(these last two premiered at the Birchmere this year) will have an idea of the overall picture. I won’t bore you with meaningless previews of the other new songs on the record, suffice to say that the title track, “Living In Colour” is one of those rare cases where you absolutely KNOW you can bet on your own horse to finish well – and it
showcases Klyde’s vocal to great and sensitive effect.

The rest you will hear any day now, if you can tear yourself away from the endless, wall-to-wall coverage of the remains of the war in Iraq and hot foot it to one of the upcoming concerts at the end of this month into the beginning of May where we’ll be treating each concert as a virtual album-release party. Just bring your best friends, a valid credit card or wad of cash for the bar, and a fresh pair of ears for the evening. We’ll do the rest – supply the music, break out the new CDs, dress up in outrageous costumes, and perform acrobatic feats and conjuring tricks by request, until all have been thoroughly satisfied.
As for these last three, well, I did promise a few lies, didn’t I?


Wednesday, January 29, 2003


Welcome to the wonderful world of the year 2003. This is a year of unprecedented promise, of rare prescience, and of
a likely pretty ugly war, too. Many will triumph this year and even more will prosper. Trouble is many will triumph and prosper at the expense of others’ demise; but luckily these irksome victims and statistics are but a necessary hiccup in the grand scheme to rid the world of anyone we don’t like a lot at any given moment. For the rest of us, this will be a year of avoidance, a year of shrugging, of wavering, of tutting and toeing the line complacently and docilely. Speech is no longer free of course and will come to be taxed at an even higher rate as things develop, I’m sure, but for the moment I await my hoped-for rebate and continue typing unabashed and unashamed of my vulnerable position in the debate. Do we smell burning martyr?

It occurs to me on a daily basis that we’re without John Lennon when we most need him. It’s hard to find a strong voice for peace and reason anymore, although it was mildly reassuring to see a few thousand Americans join the world march-for-peace day a couple of weeks ago, and to introduce the notion to their youth that this demonstration, hitherto unneeded in their life so far, is now a vital presence to show the Jolly Rancher and his gang that they will not all toady to warmongering. All you are saying, I believe, is give peace a chance. (such a simple but timeless message, John)

As you know, it always falls to artists and musicians to be activists and protesters, or at least to illustrate the idiosyncrasies of the world we live in and to point out to our deaf and blind leaders that there is another point of view and another way to proceed. We’re living in a time of “hardball” where aggression is to be admired, and in-your-face is the place! Anything else is regarded as wimpy, liberal, lily-livered, socially inept and politically naïve. I dunno where it all went horribly wrong, but I can reliably tell you that a great many of those who espouse this manic push for intolerance and warlike zeal are driven by an incredible amount of self-interest and determination to wipe out free speech unless it trumpets their own agenda and makes their pals rich as hell. Think about that the next time you are tempted to shout “Bomb the Motherpluckers ...whoever they are”
All we are saying...

And now for something completely different:

I’d like to pass on a wonderful joke from Scotland that will appeal to all who like their humour on the scatological side, and who appreciate the great fun to be found in all matters relating to the human condition of breaking wind.
A married couple are lying in bed when the husband lets rip the most staggering thunderous fart. “What in the world was that all about?” asks the incredulous wife. “Fart Football” replies the husband, “and I just scored the first goal. One-nil to me” The wife considers for a minute, then she, too rolls over and lets fly with her own effort. “One-all” she says smugly. Well it wasn’t long before the inevitable second goal came from the husband, and another stunning equalizer from the wife, but I doubt any of us expected her to pull out number three with such gusto and élan. “Three-two to ME,” she cries. Now the husband is really pissed off and in an attempt to redeem himself tries as hard as he can for an answer, but only succeeds in shitting the bed, at which point he gets up and stomps round to his wife’s side.

“What’s going on, John” she says, noting the sudden change in his demeanour.
“Half time” says the husband – “Change sides”

For those of you who might find such stuff a tad on the ‘rich’ side, I would suggest you are probably reading the wrong web page, and certainly following the wrong band for starters. All of the prose I have dished up in the past on this page has been but a thin cultural veneer hiding a steaming vein of filth running below. Though with what’s available on the web nowadays and with the variety of so-called respectable people who are nabbed for nefarious internet ‘fouls’, I should think you’re all pretty much unshockable by now. It’s getting difficult to open up e-mail these days without first having to sift through innumerable offers for something rhyming with “Niagara” and its immediate availability by the truckload, or to download “Filthy Farm Sluts frolicking with fulsome foals & frothing Friars” – not to mention Naughty nuns and their Hot habits - part two.

I actually feel a bit sorry for old Pete Townshend, however, and am willing to believe (until proven otherwise) that he is a wee bit unlucky in that a) none of the supposedly high-ranking police or members of parliament who were arrested were named, b) he was researching a book for some time and had probable justification for investigating a facet of his abused past that is today flagrantly flaunted at all of us, and c) he had tried to tell the authorities about this ahead of the ‘roundup’ where he became the poster boy for the whole sting. I have absolutely no sympathy for any of these cretins who were repeat users of this website – I was solicited once by an e-mail that said “this can be OUR little secret” and when clicked on, there was a drawing of a child, and a banner that said “Father-Daughter Love” I tell you that my blood ran cold, and I couldn’t shut the thing down fast enough – I was trembling and felt assaulted and violated and, though I knew it was deleted, trashed - GONE, somehow I kept expecting it to reappear as if it had polluted my computer and was lurking in there waiting to shock and degrade me at some unexpected moment. Now I realize that all it would have taken for my identity to have joined the FBI’s list of scoundrels would have been to go one more step into the abyss - to log on - as Brother Pete seems to have done. I hope to Hell he’s innocent.

These days, it’s BBC world Service news, football results (fart and otherwise), new cars to drool over and the odd Daily Telegraph crossword that keeps me amused for the little time that I ever get to spend online and onscreen.
I can see how many become addicted to the box, however, and I’m sure that most of you who read this claptrap are already spending waaaay too much time on the internet when there are cathedrals to be demolished, rivers to be drained, mountains to be levelled and trees to be felled for more newspapers to provide advertising space for the multi-national corporate megaliths who need to pry us free from what little is left of our money now that the tide has turned in favour of bare-faced theft and licensed larceny at the highest level. Benevolent capitalism my arse!

Christmas and New Year holidays were good, though, and I hope many of you had as relaxed and refreshing a time as I did this year; I escaped the blitz of commercialism and conscience-twisting that goes along with the Northern
Hemisphere holiday psyche, and ran away to a desert island where I checked the news about once a week just to make sure civilization was still intact and that nobody had yet started firing shots at Iraq / North Korea / Zimbabwe / and/or enter the name of your favored foe here. It was blissful to be able to ignore the hurly-burly of the Messiah’s birthday celebrations, and instead concentrate on the construction of the perfect rum punch, learning how to correctly open a coconut, and knowing how to discern the difference between a barracuda and a needle-fish, so that at the sight of the latter I’m no longer shooting out of the water like a popped champagne cork and landing all over the surface like a madwoman’s shit. I was able to develop a bit of serenity (if not sobriety - these tropical types are not shrinking violets, after all) and for someone who logs more miles in a year than some flight crews and many truck-drivers, it is very cool to be constrained to a bit of land a few miles long and only a couple wide. Well, two and a half if the tide’s out. I saw a wonderful T-shirt down there that I think summed up their attitude to the season: it said “My Liver has been BAD – it must be PUNISHED”, and another, a replica of the shirt worn by agents of the D.E.A. In tiny letters underneath the initials it had

drunk every afternoon

But back to reality I had to come, and to withering cold and things called driving-conditions and wind-chill and
minus degrees of the kind to try the will of the most intrepid arctic explorer. There is work to be done here in the cradle of AWB, and an album to finish now that we have our vocal first mate Klyde Jones on the ship’s bridge; some pretty handy tunes are coming together as I write, and we finally seem to have the time, the space, the will, the songs, and if someone will just give us loads of money ...

Seriously, though, this is our current mission, and apart from a few select dates in February we will keep our shoulders to the pump until this is complete. I was checking racks of CDs the other day in Barnes N’ Borders or some such, and I couldn’t help but notice how irrelevant cover-art seems to be nowadays – not that there’s much space on one of these four-inch squares to begin with. However it does appear that it has little to do with the selling point of records in the modern domain, when you consider the agonizing, double-guessing, debating and redesigning that used to be part of the LP cover process, and without which you couldn’t hope to attract anyone into buying your newest offering. Now, it might as well be a silhouette of the group, some surreal symbol or ‘swoosh’ or, if a solo artist, then a photo that would give Helmut Newton, Richard Avedon or David Bailey indigestion, and would certainly have Herb Ritts turning in his grave. There certainly seems to be a vogue for what I term ‘amateur-chic’ as a design ethic, or maybe it’s just cheaper and easier not to give a shit since all the standards have slipped anyway, and let’s face it, you’re dead lucky if there’s more than one or two good tracks on a CD in the first place. So we will buck the trend, be our anachronistic selves, and we will TRY to come up with the old-fashioned goods inside and out for your delight and

We might fail, but we will TRY!

I will leave you temporarily with the above brief news and views update, and will go and secure my fifth layer of clothing before venturing into the arctic wastes near New York. My people are hungry and I must try to hunt a wooly mammoth or sabre-toothed attorney for dinner, or there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth. There always is anyway – it’s what Fred does best!

Apologies to all who clamored for and were disappointed by lack of a Season’s Greeting on this page before Christmas, but I literally just had time to finish our last gig, fly back to base, quickly dig out a pair of sandals and a loin-cloth, and head back to the airport in the middle of the night for the ‘Desert-Island Special’ at dawn the next morning. I was however pained by my negligence; but my conscience cleared around the time they had brought me my second Bloody Mary, you’ll be relieved to know.

As for the perfect rum punch – one generous slice of lime, fresh from the tree if possible, some crushed ice, a jigger of Pusser’s rum (Mount Gay if unavailable), the juice of a fresh orange, and a good dash of sweet cranberry juice to top off. Shake or stir minimally, find a nearby sunset, and enjoy. Can be taken more than once a day without too much trouble, and should be! Happy New Year.