Friday, 28 April 2017

Martin Carthy & The Folk Roots Of Rock'n'Roll in #London

Adam writes…

Along the route of the Rock'n'Roll London Walk, we delve into what I like to call the "parent musics" as we go – blues, a little bit of jazz, some skiffle of course and also folk.

I picked up a copy of Spin magazine in the Muswell Hill books and records branch of Oxfam recently…


It's not, as you can see, the U.S Spin magazine founded in the mid 80s, which ceased printing in 2012 but continues as a website here:

Spin was a magazine for folk musicians and fans. This issue was published and printed in Cheshire in 1966 and featured articles on the history of folk, as well as music and lyrics…

… and ads for record shops such as the famous, long-gone Dobell's on the Charing Cross Road…

The 1964 edition featuring Bob Dylan on the cover can change hands online for daft amounts of money…

Which is why I was delighted to grab mine for £1.50. Dylan does not feature on the cover.

But Bob Dylan's mate Martin does.

The fellow on the right, in the cover photo at the top of this post, playing the guitar, is Martin Carthy.

There are periods in the narrative of popular music when even the mighty New York City bows before our own London. The early-to-mid 1960s is one such era, and I'm always reminded of Bob Dylan's line on English folkie Martin Carthy (from a Rolling Stone interview in 1984):

"I ran into some people in England who really knew those [traditional English] songs. Martin Carthy, another guy named [Bob] Davenport. Martin Carthy's incredible. I learned a lot of stuff from Martin."

The aforementioned Carthy – brought up in Hampstead North London – influenced both Dylan and Paul Simon. Just one example of his influence can be heard in the short playlist below, which begins with Carthy's arrangement of the 17th century ballad Scarborough Fair. As you can hear, Paul Simon (track 3) lifted Carthy's arrangement wholesale. Track two is Dylan's reinterpretation of the melody with track four ending up in Nashville with Dylan and Johnny Cash on their lovingly ramshackle cut from 1969's Nashville Skyline album.

Carthy, I'm delighted to say, is still up on his hind legs and performing. His next London gig is at the Leytonstone Ex-Servicemens Club on Sunday 9th July. Catch up with Carthy on tour near you here:

The fellow on the fiddle on the cover of Spin is, of course, Dave Swarbrick, later famed for his work with Fairport Convention - I'll be returning to him in a later blog post. In the meantime, you can spend 40 minutes in the company of both men on Martin Carthy's 1965 debut album…

Here's the trailer for the Rock'n'Roll London Walk which meets at 2pm Tottenham Court Road station every Friday.

The Rock'n'Roll London walk is the ONLY London Walk with its own dedicated comic book! Written by Rock'n'Roll London guide (and Daily Constitutional editor Adam) you can buy a print copy on this afternoon's Rock'n'Roll London walk or download at the London Bookstore online:

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Syd Barrett in London

Ahead of tomorrow's Rock'n'Roll London Walk, Adam writes…

Recently I took the time to dawdle with my camera through Belgravia and Chelsea on the way to lead my Old Kensington Walk and I happened upon Chelsea Cloisters

… the last known London address of Syd Barrett.

As is often the case with Pink Floyd's original songsmith, the tales of his life at Chelsea Cloisters paint a troubled picture. Legend has it that he sat in his flat for days-on-end with seven TV sets all going at once; some say he rented two apartments, one in which to live, the other to keep scores of expensive guitars, none of which he ever touched. It is said when he did touch them, it was to give them away for free. 

This reclusive denouement to his London years – his life played out in his native Cambridge from about 1982 – is punctuated by sightings of a shaven-headed Syd, an overweight Syd, even Syd in drag.

He was living at Chelsea Cloisters when he turned up, bald and unrecognisable even to his former colleagues in Pink Floyd, while they worked on the Wish You Were Here album at Abbey Road. Legend has it that the track that the Floyd were working on at the time was Roger Waters' tribute to his erstwhile band mate Shine On You Crazy Diamond.

Detail from The Rock'n'Roll London Comic Book issue 1 starring Pink Floyd

Legend has it… Some say… It is said…The story of Syd Barrett is littered with such qualifiers and we may never now separate the myth from the real story.

Syd is the cover star of the Rock'n'Roll London Comic Book Issue 1 – my comic book and self-guided Pink Floyd tour of London (see also frame above). 

You can download a free 6-page sample HERE. You can download the full version for 99p HERE. A limited edition print version is also available HERE and from Orbital Comics in Great Newport Street WC2.

I'll be leading The Pink Floyd London Walk – in which Syd will play a major role – on Saturday June 17th at 10.45a.m. Advance booking is available via EventBrite HERE

Here's the trailer for the Rock'n'Roll London Walk which meets at 2pm Tottenham Court Road station every Friday.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

#London Record Stores: Alan's Records East Finchley #N2

Adam writes… My local record shop in North London

Alan's Records, East Finchley

Support your local record shop. Support MY local record shop too! Alan's Records in East Finchley

My last purchase there was this Motown gem…

Alan's Records also features in T.J Bird's lovely comic book Rock & Pop…

Rock and Pop by Tim Bird is about the how the commonplace is rendered elegiac by the presence of music.

It has my very favourite things in it: cartoonsmusicLondon and, best of all, daughters.

For anyone who has ever loved a song, this lovely musical autobiography will strike a chord.

Here's Alan's cameo appearance…


You can buy Rock & Pop and all of Tim Bird's other comic creations at his website

The Rock'n'Roll London Pub walk meets on Wednesday nights at 7pm Tottenham Court Road tube

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Sunday, 23 April 2017

Jeff Beck, Julie Andrews & Me

Ahead of Wednesday's Rock'n'Roll London Pub walk With LIVE Music, tonight's guide Adam writes…

When I was a teenager, I fell in love with this picture from The History of Rock magazine…


It's Jeff Beck. In the 60s he played with The Yardbirds, employed Rod Stewart as vocalist in The Jeff Beck Group and had a big hit with the world's most annoying earworm Hi Ho Silver Lining.

As a 15-year-old the two things I loved best about the pic were the sneakers and the guitar case. I resolved to acquire similar footwear for myself at the earliest opportunity. Perhaps they'd make me play like Jeff Beck?

But most of all I wanted a guitar case just like his. A hard case. A flight case. A grown-up guitar case. All I had at the time was a flimsy, el cheapo vinyl "gig bag". It was a nasty piece of kit.

The years went by and, for some reason, I just never seemed to get around to buying a proper guitar case. In the interim, the sneakers resolutely failed to make me play like Jeff Beck.

Eventually, my wife bought a case for me. Here it is, waiting to catch a train to the Rock'n'Roll London Pub Walk (With LIVE Music) last week…


I always thought that when I finally had a guitar case like Jeff Beck's, then I'd at least feel as cool as he looked when toting it around town.

Instead, the guitar case awoke an entirely different musical memory. 

The first guitar case that I was ever aware of featured on the sleeve of one of the biggest selling albums of all time. An album that was very popular in my family home when I was growing up. Only it's NOT very rock'n'roll.

So there's the answer. When I'm carrying my guitar case on the Rock'n'Roll London Pub Walk I'm trying desperately to channel Jeff Beck… but inside I feel like Maria out of The Sound of Music


I'll be carrying the case (with a guitar in it) on tonight's Rock'n'Roll London Pub Walk - there will be live music at the first pub stop, the Alley Cat Bar in Denmark Street. 

I will, however, be leaving my copy of The Sound of Music at home. Maybe I'll put together a Musical Theatre London Walk one of these days. Any takers?

The Rock'n'Roll London Pub Walk With LIVE Music meets at 7pm at Tottenham Court Road tube (exit 1)