FLAT OUT


In the mid 70’s, I played acoustic guitar (badly) and sang (enthusiastically) in a wee four-piece combo called Flat Out, alongside Eddy Cavin, Alan MacMaster, and Keith Shirlaw; and the occasional addition of Jim(my) Jazz (Alexander)
We had a good laugh doing sorta folk/blues/rock, with just a wee touch of The Bonzos too, and even released an EP – FLAT UOT – An Accident Looking For Somewhere To Happen.
Keith did the cover artwork, and although I can’t seem to locate the original B&W cover, I did find this version that Keith and one of my kids coloured in – the cover was intended for that very purpose, at my suggestion, as was the deliberate typo.

I was doing posters for the band and organising gigs too, and produced a poster for a night down at Cumbernauld Theatre, still called The Cottage at this point, and decided on a whim to call the event “An Evening Without Bing Crosby”.  I’d completed the pen and ink drawing that was the poster, given the artwork to someone to print them off, and received the finished posters, which were then distributed around Cumbernauld.
A copy of the poster was sitting on my drawing-board when a mate arrived, looked at it, and giggled furiously: “Wow, that was fast” he exclaimed.
”What was fast?” I asked.
”Being that topical, that quick”
Turned out that the famous crooner and child-beater, Bing Crosby, had died that very day, just as the posters were being put up in shop windows and bus-shelters
In a simpler, less shock-weary time this was considered to be in rather bad taste
I was so chuffed, and well-pleasedwith the synchronicity … and began a long tradition of introducing a wee shock element into the band posters I produced from there onwards

Shortly afterwards I produced a poster for the band using the  monkey graphic featured below, with the very fine slogan

FLAT OUT
BETTER BAD THAN BORED

CHOU PAHROT

Back in the mid 70’s, when the progressive rock scene was slowly disappearing up it’s own drug-addled arse, and the fledgling punk scene had still to fully take flight, a truly strange hybrid of prog & punk appeared on the Glasgow music scene in the form of the mighty Chou Pahrot ( pronounced Chow Parrot), a four-piece hailing from the small town of Paisley, just outside Glasgow.

At that time, Chou Pahrot were nothing less than an amazing burst of vitality, musicality, and deafening vibrancy. Their humour, originality and bizarre antics were a welcome change from the po-faced seriousness of their hip contemporaries


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MONICA ZARB – (Bob Donaldson)

Everything about them was unique

The band, Monica Zarb (bass & vocals), Fish Feathers McTeeth ( drums & hitting things), Mama Voot ( guitar, vocals and saxophone), and Eggy Beard (violin), and,  eventually, The Amphibian,  were a Zappaesque conglomerate of Beefhartian elements &  influenced by the US band The Residents, whose stage-presence was truly shocking to the uninitiated at that time. Uncompromising, deafeningly loud, agressive, and whimsical in equal measures, with Mama Voots trademark appearance in wedding dress and aged crone face-mask leering through the smoke and flashing lights.

I was a FAN … big style

I helped promote their gigs, here in Cumbernauld, and the band I played with, Flat Out, filled various support slots with them

I also designed posters, badges, their record sleeve … and even made the odd apearance with the band, playing the doppelganger clone of Mama Voot, in dress & mask, at a couple of their more memorable gigs … even resulting in me being hit with a bottle at their final Kelvingrove Bandstand appearance!

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FISH FEATHERS McTEETH (Dave Lewis) / EGGY BEARD (Martin McKenna) / MAMA VOOT (Tony O’Neill )

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Their impact at that time is indescribable, as they truly were a LIVE phenomenon, and that experience was never even remotely captured on tape.

The recordings of Chou Pahrot, good as they might be, come nowhere even close to the monsterous tsunami of cacophonic noise and the sheer tornado of sound they could create … a sound which could change, in a heartbeat, to the most melodic of riffs … the contrast and relief creating a dynamic tension of beauty that few musicians have ever achieved, in my experience

Chou Pahrot were a child of their time, and a bratty, self-indulgent, nursery-rhyme screaming wee demon he was … but oh how I loved him, and remember fondly those blisteringly sublime moments his tantrums could create!!

Here’s some of the stuff I helped produce, including unseen artwork from the time

This poster was for a gig at the Glasgow Film Theatre – an unlikely double-bill – The Pahrots & The Beatles film, “Yellow Submarine” …. Oh there were a lotta stoners present THAT night, as I remember!! … and as Monica’s demonic form loomed through the dark, and  jumped from the stage in his manic splendour, I sprang from behind him, identically dressed & scared the crap outta the stoned front row!
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Here’s a design for a Chou Pahrot badge that never actually materialised … badges were very popular at this time, as badge-making machines were on the go, and soon became standard memorabilia for every fan of every band

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