Helpless Dancer

The Endless Note

Minstrels, Poets & Vagabonds

And so I bring to a close this series of postings based on the artists and groups which feature in Robert Fields great book.

I hope you have enjoyed this brief look back at the Glasgow rock scene over several decades.

Despite the posts to date i could carry on for a long time as there is so much more to remember and enjoy in the book which you buy HERE

There are many great artists covered by the book but not covered in this series, some of them have already appeared in this blog before therefore for your further enjoyment please follow the links below:-




ENJOY, Rock On and……………………….Be Lucky!

February 27, 2010 Posted by | Books, Video | , , , , | 1 Comment

Minstrels, Poets & Vagabonds – Jamie Barnes

Jamie Barnes is known to many as the “Godfather” of the Glasgow pub rock scene,  together with his band Cochise they exploded out the east end of the city in the early 70’s and still has a regular slot at Rockers nearly 40 years later.

Music wise his repertoire has always mixed rock, soul and blues both originals and covers.

His reputation grew throughout Scotland and his gigs were regularly dropped in on by a series of guests none more so than Frankie Miller.

Jamie and Frankie

Fame though avoided Jamie, partly due to fate and perhaps partly due to a desire to do what he wanted, where he wanted and when he wanted.

Jamie Barnes – vocals
Stevie Flynn – guitar
Gordon Campbell – guitar
Ped Kelly – bass
Nod Kerr – drums

For more information visit the brilliant or visit the Jamie Barnes & Cochise web site by clicking HERE

“Something’s Wrong” – Jamie Barnes

To buy the book click HERE

February 26, 2010 Posted by | Books, Old Music, Video | , | Leave a comment

Minstrels, Poets & Vagabonds – Northwind

Now this is one of the many gems I have discovered thanks to the above book.

“Northwind” developed in the early 70’s from the ashes of another Glasgow band “Power Of Music”.

Their well developed twin Les Paul guitar sound echoed the muse of “Wishbone Ash” in the new emerging melodic rock genre.

The band line-up for their only album “Sister, Brother Lover”  was – Brian Young (electric & acoustic guitars & vocals);  Colin Scott (drums); Hugh ‘Shug’ Barr (electric guitar); Tom ‘Tam’ Brannan (Bass and vocals); Colin Somerville (keyboards).

The album featured their “signature” song which you can enjoy below.

“Castanettes” – Northwind

For more information visit the great Rocking Scots website by clicking HERE

To buy the book click HERE

As a bonus here is some classic Wishbone Ash

February 19, 2010 Posted by | Blast from The Past, Books, Old Music, Video | , , | Leave a comment

Minstrels, Poets & Vagabonds – Big George & The Business

Here is the band’s biography from their own great website Big George & The Business

George Ross Watt (Big George) was born in Glasgow,Scotland in 1958 and brought up in the slums which housed the shipyard and engineering workers.

It was a beginning that gave him a lust for life and made him uncompromising on the music he loved and composed, and as the years have rolled on has shown that he has a god given talent to write and entertain.

After playing in the typical local band circuit for many years, he was hired by one of his all time heroes, James Dewar. James Dewar was another Scot with a god given talent of performance and musical ability and played with such bands as “Stone the Crows” and the “Robin Trower band”.

Unfortunately after four years the partnership came to an end, when James Dewar was forced to retire through ill health. When this situation arose Big George knew the time was ripe to form his own band and as a consequence of these events, we now have “Big George and the Business”.

In the initial stages Big George tried a number of different formats and local musicians until he found himself with a three piece band. He was joined by Greg Orr on Drums and Tam McLucas (Shifty) on Bass, Shifty also took over the management of the band and his organisational skills propelled the band onto the next level.

This version was rapidly acclaimed for their raw, gutsy, uncompromising style of Blues, and it was only a short time before they were nationally recognised. Releasing their first album ” The Alleged Album” only further enhanced their growing reputation for a rockin’ style of Blues, which no other UK band could match.

With a good management structure and the release of the Alleged album the band hit the touring circuit traveling extensively throughout the UK, Europe and Scandinavia. When time permitted the band eventually managed to return home long enough to write and record their second album, “All Fools’ Day”.

“Ain’t Nothing Left” – Big George & The Business

By this time their reputation had spread across the Atlantic and they were invited to appear in the Montreal Jazz festival, hard rock cafe, Theatre St Denis and other venues in Quebec and Ontario in 1992. Since those days the band have made frequent returns to Canada and America and have graced many a stage with the likes of Buddy Guy, Larry Davis, John Campbell, Bo Diddley, Mick Taylor, to drop only a few names.

While in Canada in the late 1990’s the band recorded half of their next album, “Home of the Wolf”, in Montreal. The title track of which was inspired by Big George being made an honourary member of the Mohawk nation following a gig at the Kahnawake reservation. While the first album was gutsy and raw and the second saw the band expanding with piano and other instruments, the Home of the Wolf album explodes with the potential shown in the first two.

“Gypsy Casts A Spell” – Big George & The Business

It has now shown George graduating from an accomplished guitarist to one of the finest guitarists, singers, writers and Producers that was ever to grace a stage in the world of the Blues. In addition to his work in the Blues world he has also worked widely in the world of television penning and performing for many highly acclaimed UK television programmes.

In recent years in between touring George also involves himself with the local community, in the teaching of many kids in music and in particular guitar tuition. He has also now produced and recorded a large number of young up and coming bands from all over Scotland in his custom built studio. His patience and diligence in this field has earned him great praise from the local community in which he lives.

With smokey tones that would make Joe Cocker jealous and a style of guitar playing that would have had Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan nodding in approval, Big George is an unforgettable performer who has thrilled crowds all over the world for several years. Wherever this band travel, they take no prisoners and leave no one in any doubt………….that they are………..The Business.

The Band members are:-

George Ross Watt (Big George) on Guitar and Vocals.
Tam McLucas (Shifty) on Bass.
Greg Orr (Orbit) on Drums.
Tommy McIntyre (Fingers) on Piano & Keyboards.




You can still buy some of Big George & The Business music by clicking HERE

You can download the above compilation of their work from iTunes HERE

To buy the book click HERE

February 13, 2010 Posted by | Blues, Books, Old Music, Video | , | 1 Comment

Minstrels, Poets & Vagabonds – The Rumbledown Band


The Rumbledown Band were never really a “band” but was really a “jam” of pals of Frankie Miller, primarily Andy Fraser from Free. The two of them worked up some songs together and would record demos.

The track below however also had the late great Paul Kossoff on it and as such was included in the Kossoff album “Blue Soul” which was a 1986 double album retrospective release of Kossoff’s career.

“I Know Why The Sun Don’t Shine” – The Rumbledown Band

You can buy “Blue Soul” by clicking HERE

As a bonus Frankie Miller also recorded the track below with the late great Rory Gallagher, the song was featured on the soundtrack to the movie “A Sense Of Freedom” which was the “true” story of Jimmy Boyle’s life on the tough streets of the Gorbals during the 1970’s.

Frankie & Rory

“A Sense Of Freedom” – Frankie Miller & Rory Gallagher

To buy the book click HERE

February 12, 2010 Posted by | Blast from The Past, Books, Old Music, Video | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Minstrels, Poets and Vagabonds – Glasgow

Of all the bands in the Glasgow rock scene in the 80’s it is the band “Glasgow” that I remember the best seeing them often playing at the Cutty Sark in Dumbarton with their “tour bus” parked at the rear.

“Glasgow”, the name being based on the theory that if there is Boston, Chicago etc then why not “Glasgow”, started like most bands by basing their set on a series of traditional classic rock cover versions gradually adding some originals of a similar style which lead to a record deal in 1983 with Neat Records and following a 12″ single release (“Under The Lights) they released the 7” “Stranded” which featured this track as the B-Side

“In The Heat Of The Night” – Glasgow

High profile support slots followed with the likes of Roberto’s fave The Heep and Nazareth and by 1987 they were given the opportunnity to release the album “Zero Four One” (041 the Glasgow dial code of the time) from which this track is taken.

“We Will Rock” – Glasgow

The name “Glasgow” has now been adopted by a band from New Orleans see HERE

To buy the book click HERE

January 30, 2010 Posted by | Books, Old Music | , | Leave a comment

Minstrels, Poets & Vagabonds – Bilnd Allez & Gun

Blind Allez (previously Alley) formed in the early 1980s by guitarist Jools Gizzi, singer Peter Scallan and bass player Cami Morlotti, they started rehearsing and writing while still looking for additional members to complete their line up, eventually Chris Bowes was brought in on guitar with Alan Thornton on drums.

The band started to play gigs for a while with this line up but for family commitment reasons Chris left and Ian Murray came in on guitar to complete the line up.

They played gigs all over central Scotland in places such as “The Venue” (Glasgow) “The Heathery bar” (Wishaw) “The Preservation Halls” (Edinburgh) and in May 1985 they secured a spot at the Kelvingrove Rock Festival playing along side the cream of the local rock scene such as Zero Zero, Abel Ganz, Glasgow and Lyon Rampant.

Sadly this was the last time Blind Allez were to play together for 21 years as both Peter Scallan and Ian Murray moved on to other projects.
Ian went on to form the band “Five Past Midnight” and Peter joined “Chasar” before going on to work on a couple of projects with heavy rock monsters “Samson”

This was of course not the end of the band, they went on to recruit Mark Rankin and David Aitken, they changed their name to “Phobia” and continued to play live and write new material.

Eventually a management contract was secured in 1986 and they signed to A&M Records in 1987 under their new name “GUN”………The rest is history.

But now the boys are back, back to basics and planning to start gigging on a regular basis so watch this space!

Jools Gizzi …Worked with “Texas”, co founder and main songwriter of  “El Presidente” (along with his brother Dante).

Peter Scallan …Worked with “Chasar” and “Samson” moved to work in Saudi
For a few years but is now back in Glasgow and back on
Vocals again.

Ian Murray …Never stopped playing, has worked with various local acts, still
Plays with his own rock covers band “Five Past Midnight”.

Cami Morlotti …Has also stayed active in the local music scene and has
Played with a number of outfits such as “Glass Houses”
And “Usual Suspects” he happily sessions with bands on a
Regular basis and has worked with such bands as “The

Alan Thornton After leaving “GUN” went on to session with “Slide”, Cliff
Moore and “Dr Chocolate” amongst others he also
Contributed to
El Presidente’s debut album appearing
On nine of the tracks

Info from:-



“In My Heart” – Blind Allez

……………………..and now here are GUN

Visit their website HERE

As we know from the above originally called Blind Allez then for a short time, ‘Phobia’, GUN were formed in 1987 by Giuliano Gizzi (guitar) and Cami Morlotti (bass), with Mark Rankin (vocals), Alan Thornton (drums) and David Aitken (guitar).

Signed in 1989 by A&M Records the band line-up changed after Alan, Cami and David parted company with them and new recruits Dante Gizzi, Scott Shields and Baby Stafford joined. In the studio, Jim McDermott (Kevin McDermott Orchestra, Simple Minds and The Silencers), provided drums on the albums ‘Taking on the World’ and ‘Gallus’).

Debut album Taking on the World was also released this year. Mark Rankin’s cousin Sharleen Spiteri, of fellow Scottish band Texas and ex drummer Alan Thornton contributed backing vocals to several songs on the album.

The single “Better Days” from the album made the top 40 in the UK. Gun toured the US and supported The Rolling Stones on their European Urban Jungle Tour of 1990. Tours with Bon Jovi and Def leppard followed shortly after.

“Better Days” – Gun

Alex Dickson replaced Baby Stafford before the release of their second album Gallus, of which the single “Steal Your Fire” was a minor hit. Spiteri and Thornton again contributed backing vocals to the album.

“Steal Your Fire” – Gun

Both Alex and Scott left before the release of Swagger, Giuliano taking over all guitar duties. Mark Kerr (brother of Simple Minds singer Jim Kerr) replaced Scott Shields on drums. Swagger was easily their most successful album, propelled by the success of their version of Word Up!, the single of which was a top 10 UK hit, charted well in many other territories and won an MTV award for best cover version.

The band took a break and returned three years later with yet another new drummer, Stuart Kerr (formerly of Texas), a keyboard player, Irvin Duguid, a new name (G.U.N. – the reason given at the time, was to distance the bands name from the Dunblane shooting incident and to show some sensitivety to those involved, as Mark Rankin explained in an interview for the website and a new album 0141 632 6326 produced by INXS keyboard player Andrew Farriss, which was characterised by a much lighter, poppier sound than the more rock-driven sound of their earlier works. However, the album managed to simultaneously alienate existing fans of the band and fail to gain a new audience, and sold poorly in comparison to Swagger.

The band split in 1997 and aside from a few one-off reunion gigs in 1998 (Paradise garage, Lisbon, Portugal) and 1999 (Scotland rocks for Kosovo charity event), had not been active as a unit before reforming, with Toby Jepson as guest vocalist, for a Rockradio charity gig in January 2008. Two new Gun CDs were released (The Collection and The River Sessions – a double live CD) during their hiatus, and all the previous individual members went on to other projects within the music industry. An official fan site  was set up, in agreement with the band, with previous and current members of the band participating in live web chats and contributing to the forums from time to time.

In January 2008 Joolz and Dante Gizzi played a set of GUN songs, with Toby Jepson of Little Angels guesting on vocals and Alan Thornton on drums at the ‘Garage’ in Glasgow, Scotland. The gig was organised by 96.3 Rock Radio in aid of the Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy charity.

In April 2008, GUN announced on Rockradio that they were to reform and confirmed that Jepson will join the band on a permanent basis, replacing Mark Rankin as vocalist, who gave his blessing to the reformation and new lineup. Thornton also returned to his original position as drummer until being replaced by Gordon McNeil in October 2008. They played several festival dates before launching their own headline tour. New material has also been recorded, with a release to coincide with the 20th anniversary of their first album, Taking on the world.

In May 2008 GUN played the Rockradio Manchester launch festival. This was followed by an appearance at Rockers, Midland Street, Glasgow, Scotland on the 11th of July 2008 as a warm up for their appearance on the main stage at the 2008 T in the Park music festival, the following day, Saturday 12 July. The band have also been back into the studio to record some new material and will embark on a headlining tour.

After playing a couple of warmup gigs in 2008 at Vivas, Scarbourgh and Tackeroo, Cannock, GUN played two ‘one night only’ concerts at Shepherds Bush empire, London and The Academy, Glasgow in December. The set list for both performances consisted of their debut album ‘Taking on the world’ in its entirety plus a couple of songs from their other albums. At the Glasgow gig, original members Jools and Dante Gizzi were reunited on stage with early GUN drummer, Scott Shields. Scott replacing Gordon McNeil for one song, Better days. Scott also played drums, along with Gordon, at the aftershow warm down at Rockers, Glasgow.

2009 would have seen GUN play the Castle rock festival in Caldicot, Wales and the Indie guitar festival, Oxfordshire but both events were cancelled due to the ongoing economic downturn. They are currently on tour and have previously played venues in Inverness, Aberdeen and Edinburgh in May. The Inverness gig saw the debut of new song ‘Let your hair down’ which the band then went on to play at both subsequent venues in Aberdeen and Edinburgh. York and Wolverhampton dates were completed in June. The band then played the Derrame Rock Festival in Asturias, Northern Spain on Saturday 11 July 2009. This was their first gig in Spain for more than ten years and was well received by the Asturian audience. In September, they also played the Two Days a Week Festival, Wiesen, Austria followed in October by a return to Spain with 5 dates in Valencia, Madrid, Gijon, Bilbao and Barcelona, respectively and three consecutive dates at Club pacific rock  in Paris, France on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th of the month. November sees the band play Lisbon, Portugal. The band then plays the Hard Rock Hell festival  Prestatyn, North Wales on Friday the 4th of December 2009. The Prestatyn Festival being preceded in November by an extensive UK tour.

To buy the music of Gun click HERE

To buy the book click HERE

January 29, 2010 Posted by | Old Music, Video | , , | Leave a comment

Minstrels, Poets & Vagabonds – First Priority

Moving away from traditional rock this latest post in the ongoing series looking at the Glasgow music scene of the last five decades drifts into what we now call “alternative”.

First Priority were part of The Mars Bar scene which helped produce what became Simple Minds from the acorn that was Johnny & The Self Abusers.

Formed late in 1979 the group were nurtured on the sounds of that era and got off to a flying start with a support slot with The Clash on the 21st and 22nd January 1980 at a packed Glasgow Apollo

The bright lights of London attracted them and by 1984 they finally landed a deal with MCA.

This was their first single which featured the production touch of Mike Hedges who had twiddled the knobs for one of their influences Siouxsie and the Banshees.

“Lady Christabelle” – First Priority

Promotion of the single was via a support slot on a PIL’s  tour, however, despite a second single “Pillow Talk” and further tours the elusive “hit” of commercial breakthrough eluded them resulting in their demise in 1986.

Buy the book HERE

January 23, 2010 Posted by | Old Music | , | Leave a comment

Minstrels, Poets & Vagabonds – Sneeky Pete

Sneeky Pete were a band, born in 1971 with a groove but with an element which proved to be harder than say AWB.

The band originally featured Wally Cameron (v), Johnny Cameron (gtr), Duncan Cameron(gtr), but by 1977 they had been joined by Donny Finlay (b), Rab McQuillan (d) and Sandy Brown (k) after a stint with John McGinlay (k) and John Ward (d).

Early days they developed a loyal live following based on their mixed set of originals, and well-chosen covers (incl Pinball Wizard) They were particularly favourites at The Dial Inn and  Saints and Sinners where by this time their all original setlist set them apart from many others, this resulted in a few support slots for visiting bands.

Finally in early 1979 they earned an opportunity to record their debut single (see above) which was promoted via an opening slot at the Loch Lomond Festival where they shared the bill with Dr Feelgood with whom they had built up a good working relationship from earlier gigs.

At the end of the December they released a cassette only “Live and Kicking” live album which sadly proved to be their final release.

They were without doubt a key band in the emerging Glasgow rock scene of the 70’s which they tried to graphically document in the packaging for their single.

For those of you who fell over in more than one of these venues………

“…….this one is for you”

“One Of The Boys” – Sneeky Pete

Buy the book HERE

……………..this is why

January 22, 2010 Posted by | Old Music, Video | , | Leave a comment

Minstrels, Poets & Vagabonds – The Haze

For Part Two of this series we head off to 2008 and The Haze who are no strangers to my iPod as their album “Spirits Are Rising” was one of my favourites of 2008 and not just because they covered “The Seeker”.

This is from their own biography:-

If the 21st century has seen music transformed – perhaps even overwhelmed – by technology, then it’s a relief to know that, for lovers of rock, the old values have become…well, invaluable. And no band better presents this truism than THE HAZE. A five-piece from Glasgow, they’ve spent the past few years learning their craft on the road, touring anywhere and everywhere they can across Britain.

“I’d say that we’ve played almost every major city, and most of the bigger venues,” says singer James Cairns. Through supporting the likes of Idlewild, Eagles Of Death Metal, The Cult, The Hold Steady, The Haze have developed their chops and curves, in the process becoming a sharp, focused, articulate, hard rocking crew who deliver dirty rhythms locked into garage melodies, amid choruses so towering they are in danger of being a hazard to low-flying aircraft.

Led by the distinctive lead vocals of James Cairns, The Haze combine the classic feel of artists such as The Cult and The Doors with a tension last seen in Oasis early years. Live, the recipe is one part brooding menace and one part soaring guitars – add a pinch of backline-heavy rhythms and you have a new, pulse-racing sound combining strong melody with heart-driven riffs. Tracks such as Ghostdancer (as featured on a Zero magazine covermount CD), Lord, Preacher and Just To Hear Them Say are solid proof of that.

“When we started out, our main influence was Oasis,” reveals Cairns. “But now, we’re much more into the classic giants: Zeppelin, the Doors, the Stones, the Who, Dylan…it means that we’ve managed to get interest from older fans, as well as pick up a large young following. It’s a great mixture.”

Cairns himself nearly joined the band as a guitarist. “I was invited down by John Paul Hunter (guitarist, who co-founded The Haze). I knew his cousin, and so got asked to come along for a bevy & a sing song, because they were looking for more band members. I went along, and actually just started to sing along to some of the tunes; that was it, I got the job…as the vocalist!”

Having never sung before in public, Cairns needed some severe anaesthetic intake to calm his nerves before doing his first ever Haze show. Consequently, his recollections are well…hazy. “Don’t ask me to tell you anything about that. I was so out of it; I can’t recall that gig at all, ha! But I’ve learnt my lessons. These days, we all party hard – but only after doing the show.”

The current line-up – Cairns, Hunter, bassist Ross Duffy and drummer Robert Mitchell – have been together since 2004 with the most recent addition Leahy only joining in the summer of 2009 , and the aim is to spread the word far and wide.

“We want to go to America, Japan, Europe…in fact, anywhere they love their rock music.” In preparation for such global plans, The Haze have just recorded their debut album, with famed producer Chris Tsangarides. “Man, that was amazing. He’s worked with Sabbath, Thin Lizzy, Judas Priest as well as tons of new acts …he has so many stories that it could keep us in lyrics for the next six records!”

The record itself will be called ‘Spirits Will Rise’, a title that comes from… “well, it’s inspired by spiritualism. But it also has another meaning, of course. One that’s more alcoholic! So, whichever way you look at it, this is the perfect title for our debut.”

The Haze aren’t a passing phase. They are the natural successors to so many great names who’ve graced the British scene over the past 40 years – from Lizzy to Zeppelin, Nazareth to the Pink Fairies. But they’re also very much part of the modern era as recently witnessed on their recent shows at King Tuts, Rock Ness and as support to The Enemy.

As long as we have bands like this, the future of rock ’n’ roll is a sure bet. “We’ve got festival commitments like T In The Park coming up, and it seems we’re currently in demand. But the five of us are also very much aware that to live up to the high standards we’ve set ourselves, there’s a lot of hard graft left to do.”

A band with talent, application and vision…that is refreshing.

“Capella” – The Haze

They have just finished a tour with The Complete Stone Roses and are now working on demos for the new album.

Keep up to date with them HERE

Here is the single “Streetfighter” released in Feb 2009 Kasabian beware!!

It’s a strange world when great new bands are supporting “tribute” bands Bjorn Again have a lot to answer for!

They are said to be from Glasgow but we folks from Dumbarton and The Vale consider them ours, second famous (for now) behind James Allan of Glasvegas who only played for the Sons of the Rock, then of course there is David Byrne of Talking Heads who is a real Son of the Rock.

Finally here is their take on The Who’s “The Seeker” my Fiona’s favourite Who song.

“The Seeker” – The Haze

To buy the music of The Haze click HERE

As Roberto rightly states in the book below “as long as we have bands like this plugging away, the future of rock ‘n’ roll is in safe hands”

To buy Roberto’s book click HERE

January 16, 2010 Posted by | Books, Fiona, Old Music, Uncategorized, Video | , , , , , | Leave a comment


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