Into Music: The Greatest Band You’ve Never Heard – Chapter 8
EVERYBODY WANTS TO RULE THE WORLD
The true story of the greatest band you’ve never heard
Episoide 8 – The Gospel According to Robert Powell, Mad Alco and the Seven-fingered Jesus of Garnethill
After the dirty deed was done, the logical place to head to was the closest we heathen few, we band of buggers had to a confessional; Nico’s. It was Tuesday evening so it wasn’t hoaching, just Murdo MacLeod, a handful of minor league celebrities and Molly fucking Weir, cursing and cackling, tanning pints of heavy. Really. It was definitely her. Anyway, Devon was keen to celebrate the birth of our brave new unit but no one else appeared in the mood to wet the ‘baby’s head’. Instead, we concentrated on the incidentals.
“The Falcons?”, offered Devon. “No? What about The Vultures? Or the Crows?”
“How about the Eagles?” said Gordon with more than a slice of sarcasm.
“Aye, that’ll….no wait.”
“The name will come.”, said Billy, as ever, zen as fuck. “We have time.”
Devon interjected, “What we don’t have is a keyboard player.”
Gordon raised his tumbler. “Goodbye sweet Mel, it was special”.
“At least Mondo’s in. For now.” said Devon.
“He’s been spending more time running his clubs than rehearsing recently.” said Billy
I’d kept my counsel ‘til now, the pain of my treachery still fresh. “We need something new. A clean slate.”
“There you go!” said Devon, “What about Clean Slate?”
Just then, the door opened and in walked Jamesey and Donny. They paused for a second before deciding against leaving. Of all the gin joints, eh?
“Can I get you boys a drink?”, offered a conciliatory Devon.
Jamesey pretended to be upset. “No. I’ll get my own.”
Donny, who genuinely was upset, growled at Devon before speaking. “A bottle of Furstenberg…”
“Right, coming up”
“…and a Pernod and blackcurrant.”
They couldn’t, wouldn’t look at me. “Boys…”
Jamesey broke ranks. “What do you want? Fucking Judas.”, he said, before winking.
Donny was different. His hurt was quiet and real.
“I can’t speak to you Geo…”
They took a table as far as they could from our party.
“Well, an early start tomorrow.”, said Gordon, reminding me of our plan to blow out the Tax Office for our first day of recording as a new band. “Let’s see if you’ve been worth all this trouble.”
“Rest that voice of yours. You’ll be needing it in the morning”, added Billy.
I looked over to the table where Jamesey and Donny were nursing their drinks, and their grievances.
“Yeah, I think I’ll head off too.”
We supped up and headed towards the door. I would speak to the lads but things were far too raw, particularly with Donny. I put my head down and headed out onto Sauchiehall Street, with the minimum of fuss.
I’d barely taken ten steps when, “Hawl!” came the voice from behind me, gruff and unmistakable.
Donny had followed me out of the bar and onto the street.
“I want a word with you”, he said, with purpose.
I turned towards my former bass player, my friend, and prepared for the worst, which in Donny’s case could have been anything from a literal bag of shite lobbed my way or a BB pellet in the nut.
He faced up to me and grabbed the back of my head. Pulling my head to his, he growled again. I tensed, awaiting something. Just not this.
“You should’ve talked to us first.”, he said. “And as pissed off as I am, I understand why you did it, Geo. Gordon, Billy and you. Hate to admit it but it’s a good fit.”
I was choked. “Thanks Skull.”, was as much as I could manage without getting all fucking weepy and shit. As he’d said many times, the Skull don’t do Streisand.
“You’re still my brother.” he said. And he meant it.
“And don’t forget, I still want the first dibs at splattering your new bedsheets.” It didn’t feel appropriate to divulge that Brido had not only beaten him to that honour but had made an impressive attempt at artexing my ceiling too.
The following day, we worked like bastards. Ideas expanded, tangents followed. It was precisely what I’d hoped it would be.
We turned the TEAC off and listened back to a cassette bounce of our inaugural handiwork.
“What do you think?”, I asked, aware now that this ‘audience’ was more discerning than my previous one.
“I like it. Needs a bit more guitar…”
Get used to this, George.
“…but I do like it.”
“Same here”, said a beaming Bold Yin. “Sounds…fresh. You guys going into the tax office tomorrow or…”
Gordon and I looked at each other.
Billy got the message. Same time, same bat channel. Ka-fucking-pow! Holy Sick leave. We’re in.
Gordon checked his watch.
“ What time are you supposed to be meeting Brido?”
I checked mine.
At the corner of Queen Street station, on the North Side of George Square, sat one of Glasgow’s oddest bars, even by the warped standards of the day. A place filled with middle-aged men ogling at the barmaids. Nothing unusual about that, you may think. It’s been happening for centuries, since buxom wenches served mead to mud-splattered, gumsy muck spreaders. No, this bar was unique. It was called Knockers and not for no reason. Every single barmaid employed (presumably by Mr Knocker, buoyed by the success of his colonial cousin, Mr Hooter) was scantily clad and blessed of chest.
I appreciate that it was a less enlightened time, and I can offer no defence but if you were having a bad day in the wastelands of Thatcher’s Britain, and many were, I guess that a dozen pairs of heaving, unshackled diddies might make life seem just a tad more tolerable.
I arrived around half past seven and instantly slashed the average age of the clientele by thirty years. Brido was already seated.
“Alright mate?” he asked without looking up.
“Sorry I’m late.”, I replied. “Have you been waiting long?”
“Not really.”, replied Brido “I got here at lunchtime.”
We had a brief and tasteless argument about who should get the next round. I won.
Now to the real business.
“Listen mate, I’m sorry it had to be like this.”, I said.
“I can’t say I’m not pissed off..but…”
“I do get it. You need to do this. Don’t get me wrong, I love it …all of it….but if you’re asking me to leave my apprenticeship and take the gamble on the off chance that we somehow manage to scrape a brief living from this, I’m sorry mate. I just can’t. I’ll still play when I can but it’s not the be all and end all for me. But it is for you. And Gordon and Billy. You need to do this.”
“You’re right.”, I said, relieved. “So we’re cool?”
“Of course we’re fucking cool. We will always be cool.”
And do you know what? He was right.
“Now shut the fuck up and let me look at some quality chestage.”
And ogle he did. I just hung around to keep his prime viewing spot secured. And to return to the bar at least eight times. By half past ten, we’d had seen enough. We were both steaming and worse, our bladders were as full as the Pontiff’s ball sack. So, we made our way to the sleazy boozer’s less than fragrant bogs. Normally after a skinful, we’d be pishing like a pair of horny young Seabiscuits though for different but similar reasons, the deluge wasn’t coming easy.
“What’s up with you?” asked Brido, one hand against the smoke stained tiles ahead.
“What’s up with me? What’s up with you, ya sex pest? Mind your business. You’re not trying to knock out a sly one, are you?” I tried to laugh but the pressure made me wince.
“No. My nut sack has been killing me since the Viva.”
Oh yeah…New York, New York!.
“Start spreading the news, Brido’s ballsack is blue…
“Fuck up boton! What about you?”
“Remember that Melissa lassie?” I asked.
“Good looking chick from Aberdeen?”
“Aye. Ever since that night I…you know…, my cock’s been pure killing me.”
Though snot flew from Brido’s nostrils, his own tubes remained blocked. “And she looked like such a nice girl too!”, he said, chuckling through the pain.
“She was a nice girl. Well she was until she told me to take her up the Rangers end. Now my balloon knot is shaped like a glazed yum yum and is permaglued to my Levis.”
“Look at my balls. Please, look at my balls. Tell me they’re alright.” begged Brido
“ Fuck off. Bender.”
“Seriously mate. Do me a favour? I need a second opinion”
“Only if you look at mine.”, I said.
“Fuck off ya super bender!”
“Listen Bri, we know we’re both not gay. Not even curious. This is for scientific purposes only.”
“Comfortable with my sexuality…yes.” said Brido
“OK, on the count of three…
On three, we looked over the divide at each other’s …you know….
“Aaaaaarrggh!!!!” we yelped in unison.
“Fuck mate”, I said, “you need to see a doctor.”
“And you need to see a baker…”
There was the sound of a cough behind us. We turned around to see an old boy standing behind us, Jockey’s around his knees.
“If youse show me yours, I’ll show you mine”
And on that bombshell…
The cool night air, and the sight of a saggy septuagenarian scrotum satchel, had started to sober us up.
“You can crash at mine tonight, if you want”, I offered.
“Nah,”, replied Brido, “got to be in East Kilbride for 7 in the morning for a living room, staircase and two bedrooms. I might nick your bed again at the weekend. I’m meeting the voluptuous Kim.”
Now that I’d cleared the air with Brido, I staggered back home with a still heavy bladder but a much lighter heart. As I turned the corner onto Buccleuch Street, I noticed a familiar face, sitting on the steps to my block, tucking into a bucket of fried chicken.
“Are you a leg or a breast man?”
After Melissa, I thought, I’m glad there wasn’t a third option.
“Checking up on your investment?”
I gave Donny the grand tour and twenty seconds later, we were sat round a makeshift table at my bay window, ripping into the remains of the Colonel’s finest.
“Nice pad Geo.”
“Glad you approve”
“I do. And to welcome you in, I thought I’d bring you a wee housewarming gift.”
Donny reached into his coat and pulled out a ziplock bag filled to the brim with mushrooms.
“Courtesy of Mad Alco.” said Donny
Mad Alco? Wow. You’ve probably not heard of him but in Eighties Pollok, what Findus was to fish, Alco was to the fantastical fungus.
We each took a handful, washing them down with its most perfect compliment; ice cold Bru, straight from the bottle. As I was suitably softened up, an emboldened Donny popped the question.
“So Geo, when do I get my own key?”
That night, I had a dream. It was the most vivid vision of my short life. Donny was spread out on the floor, marvelling at the complexity of the artwork for The Bluebells’ ‘Sisters’ record sleeve. Each individually textured micro panel, captivated his expanded mind, providing him with hours of enthralling entertainment. I stopped scribbling, put down my notepad and pulled my mattress from under the fireplace, laying it by the window. Towards the indigo heavens I gazed, travelling atop clouds of cosmic contemplation.
In this flight, I was Jesus and I was a rock star. No, seriously. If you’ve read this far, you’ll have probably gathered that I had/have a bit of an imagination, mixed with four parts delusions of grandeur. I don’t think that there’s anything unusual about having a slight messiah complex but hear me out…as I was saying, as I scoped the realms of possibility, I dreamt that I was Jesus. Not the saviour, the mild, middle England, Robert Powell version of our Lord but Jesus as a corkscrew haired, hip shaking, gun slinging rock star extra terrestrial, with not only a jewel encrusted belt buckle shaped like a pair of empyrean titties, but with seven fingers on each hand. And as I looked out onto the infinite horizon, my perfectly muscular form covered by a tastefully pristine robe, all I could see were my people, bedecked in their robes too. The electric bolts of light and joy shooting out from under my donut shaped foreskin told me one thing; that we were one consciousness working together…for rock. And on the celestial drum riser, there was a name … and that name was WHITE!
Thankfully, before I returned to the quadrant of the galaxy known as Garnethill, I had the presence of mind to pick up the notepad and scribble much of this down. So let it be written, so let it be done. Billy and Gordon still insist that since the impression of white is obtained by three summations of light intensity across the visible spectrum, that’s a more viable and scientifically correct story but I think mine carries a bit more of the dramatic, don’t you?
In case you missed the first six chapters…
Socrates,Tony Bennett and Toblerone
Wendy, Penelope, Felicity and the First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of Scheme Scum
Talking with the Taxman about Duran Duran, Monster Munch and the Nitshill Ball Lickers
Bella Bella, Billy Bremner
Going Down in a Blaze of Pale Custard
Freddie, Edwyn and the Unbearable Lightness of a B&Q Wardrobe
Penthouse and Payment