and Now Columns- October 13th, 1980
of the most memorable columns - not for its content but for the fact that
I received threats for my review of a concert by the Dooleys. The review
is re-printed below.
Dooleys came to Norwich Theatre Royal bringing their own style of
disposable pop - songs that make the charts today, but are
The family outfit provided over and hour of entertainment and
it is entertainment that is the key word rather than the quality
of musicianship or songs.
The appearance had both pluses and minuses.
On the plus side they provided a surprisingly varied concert.
mixing their hits with an attractive set of film music which used
visual aids to good effect. They sprinkled this with some
surprises including Bach's Tocatta which is done considerably
better by Sky.
On the minus side, the group's movements on stage are all
carefully manufactured and the twin voices of Ann and Kathy at
times screech alarmingly. Helen Dooley's lack of ability on the
keyboards was often too apparent and brother Jim could benefit
from a weight loss.
The group came on to stage to the strains of Supertramp's
"Fool's Overture," which rather suggested that we were
to hear more meaningful songs than were served up.
regularly reviewed concerts at Norwich Theatre Royal both for the
Here and Now column and the general section of the newspaper. At that time
the general manager was the legendary Irishman Dick Condon - who was one
of the top theatre impressarios in the country. Even now when I make a
rare visit to the theatre I still feel Dick's ghost about the place.
was certainly a Norwich legend and a total workaholic. He was also
one of life's great characters. Before every show he was front of house
welcoming people (often by name). As a host he was second to none -
looking after guests and the Press in an inimitable style that usually
featured plenty of alcohol.
never worried about criticism of the artists he put on. His adage was
"no publicity is bad publicity" and he realised not everything
at the theatre could be given glowing reviews.
concerts is a difficult art anyway. There is a tendency to be either too
familiar with a band or artist or to be completely unfamiliar. If say for
instance I was reviewing two of my favourite artists - Barclay James
Harvest and David Bowie - I would have a tendency to compare a concert
with previous times I had seen them - i.e comparing them against
themselves. This led to my being very critical of concerts by Don MacLean
and Glen Campbell. The problem is of course that most of the audience are
diehard fans and for them the act can do no wrong.
on this evening the theatre was full of fans of the Dooleys who would lap
up every note and every word. I on the other hand was trying to be more
subjective. The result was a call later in the week from Dick Condon to
say that he had received threats following my review. Apparently a caller
to the theatre had threatened "to kill the bastard if I ever get my
hands on them." To me it simply meant I had done a good job!!!! It is
something that has lived long in my memory, however.
following album reviews by me appeared in this column:
Trance and Dance - Martha and the Muffins
After just two albums Martha and
the Muffins are already at a crossroads. The tremendously catchy
single "Echo Beach" brought them instant success. Since
then they have been unable to live up to their promise and one of
the Marthas (Ladly) recently announced her departure from the
group. "Echo Beach" picked them out as a particularly
promising pop band. On this LP they seem desperate to get away
from this image with a number of raunchy songs featuring the
rampant sax of Andy Haas. There is little change of pace and
consequently the songs tend to merge into semi nothingness,
without being entities in their own right. Nevertheless
"About Insomnia" is a slower, more potent number and the
title track has an hypnotic rhythm about it, just as one of the
lines suggest. The album consists of 11 original numbers written
by the band and Chris Spedding's "Motorbiking." Added to
that there's a four track live EP, so the package provides good
value for money, but I fear it will fail to rouse any new
Harry - Harry Nilsson (**)
This one gets the award for the
most obvious title of the year and I still don't quite know how
seriously to take Nilsson. I found this LP more interesting for
the list of personnel involved than the fact it is a Nilsson
album. The singer is a modern enigma, capable of producing the
most enjoyable songs, but all too often guilty of flooding us with
interminable rubbish. Thus it is with this one. Some of the songs
stand up well to examination with contrasting styles. "Cheek
to Cheek" and "Best Move" were partly written and
moulded by the eccentric but considerable talents of Van Dyke
Parks. "Best Move" is a typical Nilsson offering with
soft, whistful twenties style lyrics. "Old Dirt Road"
was written by Nilsson and John Lennon and is an interesting
offering and the punchy ballad "I Don't Need You" is
fairly enjoyable. Elsewhere there isn't too much to offer with the
failing attempt at clever lyrics, particularly apparent in the
Nilsson/Ringo Starr offering "How Long Can Disco On"
which is outrageously corny.
the main story in this column was about a coming concert by Slade and
another varied week of gigs at the UEA. There was also a short review of
an Echo and the Bunnymen concert and reviews of a New Wave night at
Cromwells and the Skids at the UEA (slightly more cutting edge than the
UEA Syudents Union were advertising a number of coming gigs. Most of the
bands were charging between £2 and £3 admission. For some reason the
Teardrop Explodes were going cheap at just 50p.
of the Norwich singles chart was the Police's Don't Stand So Close to
Me," top of the Norwich alternative chart was Atmosphere/She's Lost
Control by Joy Division and Zenyatta Mondatta by Police was top of the