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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Night of Memories by Kevin Miller

Brian Miller was a friend,  artist, writer, designer and director who lived and worked in the town of Cumbernauld for nearly 50 years.

Sadly he passed away last August, but in his honour the Cumbernauld Theatre presented an evening of his work on January 28 2012.

This is a wee film tribute, beautifull put together by his son, Kevin

BEAT YOURSELF UP – SAVE THE POLICE TIME

Beat Yourself Up – Save The Police Time

For most of my adult life, maybe the past 45 years or more, I’ve been hearing the same phrases repeated endlessly
Things have never been as bad as they are now
Things are getting worse … there’s no hope for the future
This is the worst government we’ve ever had to deal with
The last government created the problems
The next government will solve the problems
We’re heading for economic collapse
We’re heading for a nuclear war
The apocalypse is predicted to be imminent
The majority of people in this country are selfish, greedy, and stupid.
The majority of people in other countries are selfish, greedy, and stupid.
The majority of people in the World we live in are selfish, greedy, and stupid.
YOU have never met and have no real knowledge of the majority of people in this country. 
YOU have never met and have no real knowledge of the entire population of seven billion people who comprise the Earth’s population, so you must be basing this negative deduction on your knowledge of yourself, and on your knowledge of your immediate friends and associates … therefore, YOU and everyone you know must be selfish, greedy, and stupid.
Right?
Wrong.
Armageddon, in one form or another, has been predicted, on a yearly basis, for almost every single one of the sixty-two years of my life.
Like the boy who cried wolf, or the chicken who predicted that the sky was falling, eventually anyone with sense eventually stops listening to such fear-ridden blather.  I stopped worrying that the sky was falling many years back, and have noticed that the downfall of civilisation, the rise of fascism, the erosion of all our civil liberties, the creation of new concentration-camps, the round-up of liberals hasn’t happened as expected and foretold …  and the runaway train that is civilisation hasn’t crashed yet either.
On the other hand, over the past 40 years I’ve witnessed an astonishing change in the levels of social responsibility and political awareness around me, the rise of a highly effective and powerful environmental movement, the liberation of women both in politics and everyday life, the decriminalisation of homosexuality and a level of social acceptance of gay lifestyle that I never expected to see in my lifetime, the denunciation of everyday racism, sexism and homophobia in the media, in government, the workplace, and on the street, a level of social interaction and communication on a global level that wasn’t predicted in even the most prescient of science fiction, and a potential for positive change within the Global Village that I never even dreamed possible when I went on my first ever street-demos back in the 60’s & 70’s.
In many ways, as far as I can see, things have never been better, as the potential for change has never more eminently possible, and the tools of change ie. Mass communication, and education as a product thereof, have never been more readily available and accessible.
So stop succumbing to the fear, the hype, the bullshit, the propaganda, the fairy-tales and horror stories designed to make you fear the worst, expect the worst, and give up trying because there ain’t no point … because resistance is futile.
In my early days as a political activist, our mass communications were limited to Roneo and Xerox leaflets, screen-printed posters, underground magazines and newspapers, and cheaply produced button badges … simple, but effective forms of spreading our doctrines, and a far-cry from the easy access of emails, Youtube, Facebook and Twitter.
One very popular button badge wryly proclaimed the slogan:
BEAT YOURSELF UP – SAVE THE POLICE TIME
That, my friends, is what you and your negativity are doing.  You’re doing The Power’s job for them.   That is the tactic that seems to be working highly successfully at present with the wave of rampant negativity I see on so many articles, and blogs, and vids and Facebook postings: …..

“The Future is Hopeless”

No, my friends … Your attitude is what is Hopeless … The Future is just fine.

Fight The Power … Free The Future

Thanx to my Facebook buddy Brian Spencer for the motivation to write this … one of the many Good Americans I know

A Ripple In A Pond

A facebook conversation can be quite illuminating
It started with a mention of Grodin guitars
http://www.godinguitars.com/godinxtsap.htm

Kenny Caird, a fine musician and regular FB mate of mine seemingly plays one … and rather beautiful it is too

So, I remarked that I’d been ignoring one of my own prize possessions, a Bond Electragilde guitar

http://www.elderly.com/vintage/items/30U-14509.htm
The Bond was a limited edition and rather unusual guitar in that it features a rather unique “step-neck” (ie. no frets, just a sort of saw-tooth effect) and built in carbon fibre construction with lotsa onboard electronics.
They were built by Andrew Bond (d. 1999) in Muir of Ord, Scotland, in 1984. The company went bankrupt & ceased trading in 1986.
British guitarist Mick Jones ( of The Clash & Big Audio Dynamite)  used a Bond Electraglide. U2’s  The Edge used his extensively on The Joshua Tree, and Will Sergeant of Echo & The Bunnymen, and Dave Stewart of The Eurhythmics were also Electraglide users.
Another FB mate, Alex Frackleton, then remarked:
“I really do not understand this homo-erotic guitar worship you lot do … I mean basically it’s a hammer.”
I had to counter that with:
“In the hands of a fool, a hammer is a tool of brute force and even violence
 In the hands of a man of passion, a hammer creates homes and knocks down prison walls, carves sculptures of the greatest beauty, has the delicacy to crack a walnut… without damaging the sweet fruit, and combined with the cutting edge of a sickle has the power to change the world for the better, for ever
 And if Thor had had a guitar, instead of a hammer, he’d have been a lot more fun”

Then Kenny Caird added this wee gem of a poem, by – Clive James :
A guitar is a thief in the night
That robs you of sleep through the wall
A guitar is a thin box of light
Throwing reflections that rise and fall
It reminds you of Memphis or maybe Majorca
… Big Bill Broonzy or Garcia Lorca
A truck going north or a cab to the Festival Hall
And the man who plays the guitar for life
Tests his thumbs on a slender knife
Forever caresses a frigid wife
His fingers travel on strings and frets
Like a gambler’s moving to cover bets
Remembering what his brain forgets
While his brain remembers the fears and debts
Long fingernails that tap a brittle rhythm on a glass
Around his neck a ribbon with a little silver hook
Like some military order second class
You can read him like an open book
From the hands that spend their lives creating tension
From the wrists that have a lean and hungry
Eyes that have a mean and angry look
A guitar is a thief in the night
That robs you of sleep through the wall
A guitar is a thin box of light
Throwing reflections that rise and fall
A guitar reminds you of death and taxes
Charlie Christian outplaying the saxes
The beginners’ call and the very last call of all
With further annotations from Pete Atkins:
http://www.peteatkin.com/b7a.htm
And, the actual song based on the poem:

And all of that is why I do like Facebook … for all its faults and annoyances, it’s a constant source of new information, entertainment, and the delight of meeting people who share my love of new music, new information, and the sharing of it all