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Hong Kong Beat Celebrates St Andrew’s Day with some modern ditties by Scottish lads and lassies
Scottish music isn’t all about wailing bag pipes, reels and hairy folk singers, there’s also a great wealth of pop and rock music by many artists from the country.
Hong Kong Beat would like to help Scots men and women the World over celebrates St Andrews Day 2021 with an hour of contemporary songs from the past 40 years by some of the best artists the country has produced.
Arrr! Talk Like a Pirate! Hong Kong Beat shivers the timbers for International Talk Like a Pirate Day
Avast landlubbers! Gather’round n lissen ee t’tales n’ shanties o derrin do, treasure n mutiny, as ye swig yer ale n’ rum, dreamin’ o’ sailin’ t’riches with Cap’n Morgan or the dreaded Blackbeard.
Started as an in-joke back in 1995, Talk Like a Pirate Day has become an international parody celebration, one that hasn’t been shanghaid by Hallmark, where adherents growl arrr at people they call matey and threaten to keelhaul any scurvy dog who dares to cross them, like pinching their parking space.
There’s a curious romance and escapism about the days of piracy – though the reality of a pirate’s life, fortunes and comeuppance was very different to the dreams of treasure, grog and a wench in every port. It’s like wanting to run away to the circus, but for jack-the-lads (and lasses) with a more adventurous and maybe blacker heart.
One thing everybody knows about life at sea are the shanties that were devised by sailors to help them through their backbreaking work or escape the hardships of life for a while in the tavern, so it’s no surprise that from a wealth of traditional music about life at sea there’s a lot of contemporary music and, given the nature of pirates, much of it adopts the a rakish and rebellious strains of heavy metal and punk.
N be warrrnd. ‘Tis not an Arrr-rated set o’ shanties!
Hong Kong Beat tribute to Charlie Watts, The Rolling Stone who gathered no moss
While Ringo was the Swiss timepiece of the Beatles, always playing ‘in the moment’, for the Stones Charlie Watts was The Moment, the slave driver behind Jagger and Richards. As reported by Keith Richards about a time in Amsterdam when Jagger called Watts “his drummer”, Charlie picked him up by the lapels, floored him with a punch and pronounced that he was nobody’s drummer but Mick was his singer.
Always immaculately turned out – on that Amsterdam occasion he was said to be resplendent, spick and span, in a Saville Row suit at 4 am! – he represented the poise and grace of the Stones as the counter-balance to Mick and Keith’s anarchy, both off stage and on.
Although it was not him on cowbell on ‘Honky Tonk Women’, his crashing intro on the floor tom and snare made the quirky off tempo cowbell iconic as a percussion intro or a vital addition to any rock tune. Without this as the yardstick, maybe Walken would have never pronounced “needs more cowbell”.
As a person who shunned the rock and roll lifestyle after breaking his ankle fetching a bottle of wine and who proclaimed that he never really got ‘it’, and that rock and roll was just dance music, you can hear his early jazz drummer influence on ‘Little Red Rooster’, and with a little improv evident during ‘Suck On The Jugular’.
Whether it was rolling on those floor toms, like on ‘19th Nervous Breakdown’, riding the snare on ‘Beast of Burden’, or simply riding on the rim of the snare and what was (probably) just a wood block on ‘Shake Your Hips’, he was ineffably the sound of The Rolling Stones and they were his frontmen.
Hailed by everybody, including his peers as “a true gentleman of rock and roll” Charlie will be missed and The Stones, forever how long they keep performing will never again be the same without him.
RIP Charlie Watts, one of the greats.
Hong Kong Beat mobile disco Towel Day tribute to Douglas Adams
Douglas Adams was a genius as a writer and as an articulator of human absurdity.
His trilogy of 6 books in the HitchHikers Guide to the Galaxy series started out as a BBC radio show, and spawned TV series, stage plays, vinyl releases, a movie, games, comics, and a fan base of tens of millions around the World. His writing gave us catchphrases like ‘Don’t Panic’, popular culture memes and characters, as well as the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything… 42.
He even wrote for Doctor Who and Monty Python, as well as appearing in a Python sketch.
A lover of progressive rock, especially Pink Floyd, he was also an accomplished guitarist and on his 42nd birthday, his friend David Gilmour got him to perform on stage with them, perhaps the only known performance of HHGG band Disaster Area! Adams did release a single in the name of the band as a B side to the HitchHiker’s Guide to the Galaxy TV theme. Adams said that Pink Floyd’s lavish stage productions were the inspiration for Disaster Area – “claimed to be the loudest band in the universe, and in fact the loudest sound of any kind, anywhere. So loud is this band that the audience usually listens from the safe distance of thirty seven miles away in a well-built concrete bunker. Disaster Area’s lavish performances went so far as to crash a space ship into the sun to create a solar flare.“
Disaster Area star and keyboardist – Hotblack Desiato – was spending a year dead for tax reasons in the book, no doubt a spoof on many tax exile musicians and actors in UK at the time, including members of Pink Floyd.
Sadly, Adams died from a heart attack aged 49 in 2001, but his legacy has inspired many bands in name and music style,just as he was inspired by bands of his time.
Finally, always know where your towel is.
The First Swing of the Axe – Hong Kong Beat selects favourite iconic rock songs
A single spotlight… A lone guitarist… The opening chord of a classic rock song… The crowd is instantly on its feet in recognition…
So many of the great rock songs start with an iconic guitar opening with nothing else except perhaps a lone cowbell or muted snare to accompany the guitarist, hunched in concentration over his guitar, lit by a sole spotlight… Perhaps it’s a driving riff or maybe just a sustained single note, maybe a big crashing sweep or an intricate pick, or an accident like Lennon’s feedback on I Feel Fine…
We all know our favourites. Instant recognition of the art of the lone axe man… and pure inspiration for the air-guitar heroes 😀
Hong Kong Beat presents just a few of our favourites in this 2 hour salute to the First Swing of the Axe.
Hong Kong Beat ends the year with a Retro Swing party!
Ever since people began going to Prohibition-era speakeasies and dance halls, a tune with a swinging beat has never failed to get the feet moving and the fingers snapping.
Since the revival of swing in the 1980s by big bands like Royal Crown Revue, Brian Setzer Orchestra, Cherry-Poppin’ Daddies, and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, younger musicians, DJs and producers have been inspired to dive into the vast catalogue of music from the past 90 years, combining it with hip hop, house and EDM, even Eastern European folk and klezmer music as electro-swing.
Tunes as diverse as charlsteson and ragtime classics, Latin mambos and tangoes, jazz staples, lindy hop, boogie woogie, and even 60s gogo, have been reworked, remixed, refreshed, and had electronic tricks and ballsy bass tracks added, to excite new generations of discos and nightclubs goers.
Hong Kong Beat presents an hour of electro-swing from a recent retro swing party.
50 years on, at the closing of Woodstock, Hong Kong Beat offers ‘Woodstock 69 – Missing In Action’
It’s said that Woodstock was remarkable, not for what happened but for what didn’t happen, the expected mayhem. As the festival closed to Hendrix’s never- to-be-equalled free jam of the ‘Star Spangled Banner’, nobody was thinking of what else didn’t happen, such as the huge bands that didn’t make it.
So, for your pleasure, Hong Kong Beat offers the Woodstock 69 MIA Festival of bands who were invited (or might or might not have been invited, some of the memories of organizers are a little fuzzy from back then) but either turned it down or didn’t make it. The song choices are of course mine, but as these were all songs in their catalogues from before Woodstock, it’s a good bet they would have been played, if they had been there. Continue reading to the end and click on Max Yasgur’s farm to go to the mix-tape.
The Young Rascals – They were big at the time and ‘Grooving’ was a summer of love anthem, but turned it down to work on their new album.
Tommy James & The Shondells – Another big summer of love band with ‘Crystal Blue Persuasion’, but turned it down when they were told “Yeah, listen, there’s this pig farmer in upstate New York that wants you to play in his field.”
Chicago Transit Authority – Were billed to play but their promoter pulled them out for a gig at Filmore West the same weekend, and substituted new act Santana instead. I loved CTA in those days, but thank you Bill Graham for pushing Santana’s breakout that weekend. I’ve seen Chicago twice, and Santana three times since then 😀
Blues Image – Another big band of the summer of love, but their manager convinced them not to play because of the rain and chaotic roads.
Jeff Beck Group – Booked but broke up week before apparently because he didn’t want Woodstock to be a memorial for the band.
The Byrds – Felt burned out by festivals already that summer and didn’t think it was going to be a big issue, together with concerns over payment. Later said they regretted their decision.
Jethro Tull – Ian Anderson had an aversion to “drugged out hippies” and was “put off by naked women, unless the time is right”, also saying he didn’t want to “spend the weekend in a field full of unwashed hippies.” Played Isle of Wight two weeks later though…
The Moody Blues – Were originally billed to play but had a clash with a gig in Paris.
James Taylor – Was considered but was under contract to the Beatles label, Apple, and his appearance didn’t pan out when the Beatles hoped for appearance fell through.
Joni Mitchell – Wanted to be there and was originally planned to play but her manager advised against it in case she missed the Dick Cavett TV show a few days after.
Simon & Garfunkel – Were invited but turned it down as they were too busy. Art was in the middle of filming Catch-22 and the duo were busy getting songs together for Bridge Over Trouble Water. They can be forgiven for missing Woodstock on both counts.
The Doors – Jim Morrison was reported to have agoraphobia and a fear of being shot. Later the band said that it was because they thought it would be a second class Monterey Pop Festival.
Spirit – They were an influential West Coast band of the 60s, who were headlining supported by Led Zep just a few months before (and who may have been the “inspiration” for ‘Stairway to Heaven’). Were invited but declined to instead launch a promotional tour.
Rolling Stones – Some reports say they weren’t invited because, when first approached, Mick said he was too busy filming ‘Ned Kelly’ in Australia. A huge mistake, on both counts.
Iron Butterfly – Billed and were on the way, but got stranded at the airport because of the roads to Woodstock being closed. Asked for a helicopter but the organizers didn’t want to pay for it, probably in case every other band wanted one (and by day one, they reportedly already knew they were in the hole for about US$1m!)
Frank Zappa – “A lot of mud at Woodstock…We were invited to play there, we turned it down.” Zappa later said he never regretted it as he loathed hippies. My selection of ‘Willie The Pimp’ was only recorded some time in July or August of 69 and wasn’t released until October that year, but it’s my bet that a raw free jam of the 9+ minutes song would have been one of the highlights of the festival, if Frank had taken the Mothers there.
Free – Turned it down for no known reason, but played Isle of Wight two weeks later instead. My theory is it might have been because they almost needed parental permission, as bass player Andy Fraser had only just turned 17 at the time!
Procul Harem – Were invited but were tired out after their own long tour, plus the impending birth of Robin Trower’s first child.
Pink Floyd – A bit of a mystery, were they invited or were they not? Accounts differ, even from reliable sources. Several reasons for not being there, first they weren’t invited (as they weren’t yet known in the USA); they were invited but were touring Europe at the time (true); they were invited but turned it down because as a band they were suffering issues, like Syd Barrett’s mental condition (also true); not invited because their kind of music didn’t seem to fit the billing, but I reckon 9+ minutes of ‘Interstellar Overdrive’ would have made some of the “bad brown acid” pretty unnecessary.
Led Zeppelin – Were invited but were also headlining at a nearby festival that same weekend, and it’s said that their manager didn’t want them to share the line up with other bands. Rock stars? Egos? Nah…
Bob Dylan – Lots of reasons given, sick son, hated the chaos near his home near the actual Woodstock, originally intended festival site, but actually he set sail for UK on Aug 15th to play the Isle of Wight festival two weeks later.
The Beatles – Were supposedly asked (through John Lennon it seems), but as they had all but broken up and hadn’t performed in concert together for 3 years, it’s unlikely in the acrimony between them, that they would have reformed just for this. Other suggestions say Lennon was invited but thought his drug convictions would get in the way, whereas another theory suggests it was because his request for Yoko Ono’s Plastic Ono Band to perform was turned down. As Lennon might have said “Imagine nearly half a million people singing ‘Give Peace a Chance’” What a missed opportunity.
Hong Kong Beat tripping with the Summer of Love at Woodstock 50 years on!
1969, The Summer of Love and Woodstock, 50 years on. Wow!
In this blogcast, Hong Kong Beat brings you a selection of tracks from the band set lists, in appearance order, from the three days of music and a dawning of a new age that, even though it wasn’t the biggest, best, or even the first music festival of its kind, it set down a marker in modern history of music and human culture.
At 14, it marked something in my life too, when on 15 August 1969 in UK, a friend of mine said he wanted to hitchhike there and I asked him how he hoped to get there in time and over the ocean. “Don’t be daft” he said, or something similar, “it’s at Woodstock, over near Oxford” (about 20 miles away from where we lived) – so, I learned that some people are dimmer than a burned out light bulb!
While it was all a bit mysterious to me at the time, it sent messages about music and its power to move people, something that struck a note with me as I had just had my first DJing experience a few months before, which led to my first kiss!
Peace out ✌️
To the Moon and Back – Hong Kong Beat’s musical tribute to the Apollo 11 moon landing
Whether you believe what was broadcast around the World to billions of people fifty years ago today, or believe it was just a huge hoax, what can not be disagreed upon, mankind changed this day, July 20th 1969.
The human race had stepped away from its home and planted feet on an extraterrestrial body (okay, I’m with the it happened crowd, but even if we didn’t, mankind has the belief that we did, a belief that has forever changed us).
In selecting music to mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, it was tempting to do what many others are no doubt doing, going for catchy tunes about space and the moon, but which owe nothing to the extraordinary exploits of the men, Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins, who went there. So while it hurts to leave out ‘Space Oddity’ (it was inspired by Kubrick’s 2001 Space Odyssey, not Apollo), ‘Rocket Man’ (inspired by a 1950s science fiction story), Police ‘Walking on the Moon’ (a drunken night in a room in Munich), and REM’s ‘Man on the Moon’ (about comedian Andy Kaufman, not Armstrong), I’ve selected some of the actual songs that they suggested to a music producer friend to put together for a small pre-Walkman type cassette player, intended for them to make spoken notes, and which they played while on the journey, or on the moon itself.
Okay, I’ve allowed myself some artistic license with the opening selection, Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight Sonata’, because there is no evidence that I’m aware of that they took it on their playlist, nor that it was actually written about the moon, but instead to me, the song has all the right gravitas one might expect of the situation in those final moments before launch. Also, The Byrds selection and John Stewart’s tribute ‘Armstrong’ were released after the epic journey, but have direct relevance; and Zager & Evans apocalyptic song spent most of July and beyond, at the top of the charts, no doubt receiving considerable boost from the events being relayed from Houston.
All of the other songs were choices made by the three astronauts, as suggestions to their friend for what else to include. They reflect emotions of the time such as patriotism, equality, and war; thoughts of humbleness, as well as a good deal of romance and fun, including the oddest of all, Armstrong’s personal choice of the 1940s jazz-exotica piece ‘Music Out Of The Moon’ that, if some accounts are to be believed, he played over the radio as they returned to Earth, eliciting an ironic ‘thanks for ending that’ comment from Houston. His sense of humour, or really his taste in music? We don’t know, but it was just an example of how these men undertook the greatest leap of exploratory faith that man has made since the development of the sail, with a dash of flair, a touch of humour, and a huge helping of humility.