Helpless Dancer

The Endless Note

Cover Story – Rab Noakes

Rab Noakes has been a contemporary songwriter for over 30 years.

From his first album in 1970 “Did You See The Lights” he  firmly established himself at the forefront of Scottish pop music as both a prolific and gifted writer of hook-laden songs and an original and affectionate interpreter of the American popular music back-catalogue.

With material ranging from blues to country, from early Motown to Beck, from Sam Cooke to Radiohead, and from Felice Bryant to the inimitable Rab himself, it is easy to see why his repertoire has been described as “a roots festival in itself” (The Herald).

With a career spanning over fifteen albums and major collaborations with Lindisfarne, Gerry Rafferty, Stealers Wheel and early Dylan producer Bob Johnston, Rab displays “the expertise of someone who’s done it all” (Living Tradition).

In the 1990’s Rab formed the Varaflames, whose members have included such luminaries as Rod Clements (Lindisfarne), guitar wizard Jerry Donahue, Ewen Vernal (Deacon Blue), Pick Withers (Dire Straits) and harmonica ace, Fraser Speirs, with whom Rab still occasionally performs. 

It was a performance with Fraser at Backstage at The Green, in Kinross which I was to attend, though ultimately didn’t, that had me searching my archives recently for some lost tunes.

On doing so and despite him being a recognised songwriter, I came across a few interesting cover version two of which I bring you now from the album “Standing Up” released in 1995.

First up is an interesting take on a talkinh Heads song.

“Psycho Killer” – Rab Noakes

Next one of my favourite Blue Nile songs, but without the voice what is the point?

“The Downtown Lights” – Rab Noakes

To buy the music of Rab Noakes click HERE

February 21, 2011 Posted by | Blast from The Past, Cover Stories | , , , , | Leave a comment

Gerry Rafferty


Fears are growing for famous singer Gerry Rafferty who has not made contact with his family for over seven months.

Rafferty’s family and loved ones are concerned about the health of the singer, who left St Thomas’s Hospital in London on August 1st 2008. Before this Rafferty was asked to leave London’s Westbury Hotel after leaving his room in an unusable state. The musician had been battling severe liver problems caused by years of alcohol abuse.

Rafferty began his musical career busking in London. The Scottish born singer worked with a nascent Billy Connolly in The Humblebums, before having a hit with Stealer’s Wheel.

Resurrected for ‘Reservoir Dogs’ the song was followed by the massive solo hit ‘Baker Street’ – about Rafferty’s origins as a busker.

Since he went missing there have been several blog ‘sightings’ each claiming he is safe and well. However, these remain unsubstantiated.

A former bandmate told the Daily Mail “it’s absolutely tragic,” Tony Williams said. “If he has liver failure he obviously needs someone to look after him. If he is still alive, somebody must be caring for him.”

Gerry Rafferty has a history of alcohol abuse.


Hopefully this article from The Guardian is the real latest scenario

Gerry Rafferty, the singer who wrote the 1978 hit Baker Street, is living in hiding in the south of England, being cared for by a friend, after his disappearance from St Thomas’ hospital in London last summer.

The Guardian understands that the musician, who has battled alcoholism for years, was taken under the wing of the friend after he rampaged through his London hotel room following a bender, then checked himself out of the hospital where he was being treated for liver problems, leaving behind his belongings.

The Paisley-born singer, who had formed the Humblebums with Billy Connolly before going on to front Stealers Wheel and writing Stuck in the Middle With You, hit the headlines in August when he trashed his room at the Westbury hotel, where he had been staying for four days.

The hotel director told a Scottish newspaper that after Rafferty checked out, the carpets, curtains and bed frame had to be ripped out and incinerated. Alex Huggan said: “He has damaged quite a lot of his room, because he has been incontinent for four days. There was blood and urine everywhere.”

This month the Word magazine reported that the singer had been missing for six months. The website reported that Rafferty might have been kidnapped, but one of its readers posted: “Don’t worry. He’s fine. I served him in a restaurant just off Piccadilly Circus tonight, then helped him to his hotel. Thought he looked familiar, so I went back and asked the porter his name.

“Googled him, saw all the reports, and called the cops. Cops came and said he’s fine and all this internet rumour is just internet rumour. Gerry Rafferty is fine.”

A month later, another reader wrote: “He is still fine. He is at a hotel in Bournemouth, Dorset, for a few days … ”

Two sources have told the Guardian that 61-year-old Rafferty is “alive and sounding comparatively well”. It is estimated that he makes a reasonable income each year from royalties received from his most famous track, Baker Street, which came from his solo album, City to City. Stuck in the Middle With You also made Rafferty and co-writer Joe Egan a fortune when it was used on the soundtrack to Quentin Tarantino’s film Reservoir Dogs.

Tony Williams, a former member of Stealers Wheel and now a councillor in Blackpool, said: “I was extremely worried when I heard that he had walked out of hospital in the middle of the night and that he left clothes and belongings behind. As a councillor I am the chair of BSafe Blackpool and through police contacts tried to see if there were any reports of him – but there weren’t.”

By 1983, Rafferty had turned his back on music to “watch my family grow”. In 2005, he collapsed at his home in Hampstead, London, issuing denials that he had overdosed on prescription drugs.

Despite hating “Baker Street” I do enjoy much of his earlier output either via The Humblebums, Stealers Wheel or early solo releases.

Here is Shoeshine Boy from The Humblebums 1970 album Open Up The Door


Now Stealers Wheel with a 1972 Old Grey Whistle Test performance of I Get By

Finally as if the original wasn’t bad enough here is a Foo Fighters cover of Baker Street

Hope he is okay wherever he is.

February 17, 2009 Posted by | New News, Video | , , , | 5 Comments


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