I’ve been poorly, this sore throat and bunged up nose has really kicked in now, I’m suffering in a sort of way that only a man can suffer from a cold, you women don’t know what its like to have a proper man-cold, its awful.
And there’s a reason for the beautifully evocative Hammond organ Bach-inspired Whiter Shade of Pale, nothing speaks to me more of 1967 than this track and like old wine it improves with age, or becomes corked, one or the other, whatever, I can listen to this a hundred times and not get bored.
I found my Yamaha keyboard in the garage this weekend when I was looking for the propane gas cylinder for the patio heater for Saturday nights bonfire party – only in our garage could you go looking for Propane gas and find your old Yamaha keyboard instead and only in our garage could you hide a big cylinder of propane gas and a Yamaha keyboard so that you don’t see them instantly but have to move other stuff to discover them again.
It was Kismet, the world in equilibrium, for only three days earlier had our Ned asked if I still had the keyboard and if it still worked and I replied in the affirmative although at that point I wasn’t totally sure whether it was in the garage, in the loft, or had been left out in the garden a few years ago – he asked and then dropped a heavy hint that The House Band were looking for a keyboard player again.
The House Band, his band, he being the drummer and sometime vocalist, think Animal off The Muppets, he and three or sometimes four or five others rent out a studio once a week to mess about with chords and suchlike and sometimes they manage to get all the way through one song without someone stopping and waving their hands in the air to tell Tank that he’s turned his amp up too loud again.
They have one ex-professional guitar player in their ranks, he bought a Rickenbacker from our Ned once, in fact our Ned used my eBay account to advertise it and still owes me over £50 in sellers fees for the transaction, a fact that he acknowledges with a solemn nod of the head whenever I mention it, just the nod of a head, no offer to pay it back.
So they practise every week and two or three times a year someone has too much to drink and books them a gig and then they all shit themselves and realise that they have to string two, maybe three or even five songs together, “I said we’d do half an hour” the drunk will say and the others will berate him for his stupidness for most audiences will notice and start to throw things if “The Jean Genie” goes on for more than twenty minutes, but they practice hard for a few weeks and find all sorts of excuses on the night of the gig to cut short their performance to just the three songs – “My guitar strings are a bit frayed” or “We want to give the other band a chance, they’re younger than us, look, we are all bald” or the imaginative “I have to go shopping to Asda for some J-Cloths before it shuts, can we go on first”.
And they play their three songs and The Jean Genie lasts for twenty minutes and no-one throws anything and they even get to pop into Asda on the way home – and they want a keyboard player.
More to the point, they want a Hammond organ player and I agree with them for every band worth its salt should contain a Hammond organ, The Faces made use of Ian McLagans Hammond, Emerson Lake and Palmer would be nothing without their Hammond, and neither would Procul Harem – and my Yamaha has a “Hammond” setting.
OK so its not the real thing, but its close and if you play it really zippy you get to sound like a Working Mens Club organist, the sort of player who can play anything if you hum it first although everything he plays will end up sounding like “Fly Me To The Moon”.
All I have to do now is learn the chords all over again, I once knew three chords on my Yamaha keyboard, thats enough to tour with Status Quo for a start, I was ready back then but then I was sensationally sacked from The House Band, it made all the music papers, you may have read about it, it was as sensational as The Gallagher Brothers from Oasis famous split, I was sacked by our Ned from The House Band for not turning up to any of their rehearsal Thursdays, none of them, I did send my keyboard along to one of the rehearsals though and someone else played it.
“I’ve Got You Under My Skin” would probably be a good place to start – anyone know the chords ?