Thursday, 21 January 2010
1967: I'm happily vari-speeding my vocal on "The Laughing Gnome" - well, I was fine with the gnome voices, but the only way I could cope with the lower register was by deploying a little bit of studio trickery...own up, you'd never have guessed if I hadn't told you! - when Ken Pitt drops by with a piece of plastic that would change my life.
"Get your lugholes 'round this young Robert - it's a fabulous new disc by those up and coming hit paraders the Velvet Exploding Inevitable - featuring Zico. It's a sure fire smash, young fellow-me-lad, so get your best plagiarising hat on, throw the whimsical music hall routine and gor-blimey trousers on the scrap heap and get with it Daddio!!" (Don't worry, he wasn't really a mental - we all spoke like that in the Sixties.)
So, I slapped it straight on the dansette and was blown away by the dark realism of Lou's writing - not to mention his husky, teutonic vocals. "Just wait 'til he starts up on the harmonium!" added an enthusiastic Kenneth - and sure enough, I was soon propelled into an almost comatose state by a rambling, monotonal solo effort from the group's keyboardist - the former Brazilian model and actress, Zico:
Venus in Furs, shiny, shiny boots of leather - well, there were enough fashion tips in here to keep me going until 1976. And my exposure to the seedy side of New York Street life, white boys braving the journey up to Lexington to swap sexual favours for a whiff of burned banana skin (yep, they were that brazen about their drug references that they even stuck one on the cover - kept me high 'til Hunky Dory came out did that little beauty...) would have a lasting, if not always positive influence on my career. They say that only a hundred or so people bought the album when it came out, but most of those who did went on to form a band. So, really, it's a good job that most people did what I did and pinched a copy from a mate.
A year or so later, I finally got to meet my idols whilst on a brief solo tour to promote The Man Who Sold the World. I spent a good hour or so chatting to Lou after the show, only to discover that I'd actually been having a chinwag with the band's roadie. To compound matters further, I got the band's second guitarist Sterling Morrison confused with Primal Scream star Bobby Gilliespie, spending several hours berating him about the paucity of originality in his band's output - an error compounded somewhat by the fact that the Scream's first release was, in any case, still some three decades away. In a rare moment of clarity, I decided it best to give drummer Mo Tucker a *very* wide berth...
L.U.V. on ya,