Voltarol - related music

Friday, 24 April 2009


Photo taken at Uxbridge Folk Club, The Load of Hay around 1968. From The Hayes Gazette

The continuing saga of the Jugular Vein story. (New readers start here)

Just when I thought I’d finished with this topic I received another contribution from Venlafaxine, AKA Griff. As promised, he has contributed an audience-eye view of the JV, so I guess I’ll have to keep my part of the bargain and post the lyrics to the songs he requested. Given that I haven’t performed some of them for forty years this means I shall have to transcribe them from the recordings. I lost the original manuscripts during a house move years ago. Unfortunately one of those songs was never recorded. Griff refers to it as ‘Hayes’ but in fact its proper title was ‘Purple Hayes’ (a pun that I have no intention of apologising for). The chorus is the only part that I can properly recall and it goes like this:-

Hayes! That’s where the lovely people’s homes are
Hayes! That’s where ten thousand garden gnomes are
Hayes! That’ where everyone’s a saint
And I’ll kick yer bleedin’ ‘ead in if yer tell me that they ain’t

And if that leaves you wishing that the rest of the song survived then you’ve no one to blame but yourself…

By Venlafaxine AKA Griff

Trying to put your finger on what makes one form of music appealing and another not so really taxes the old grey matter. The psychologists would pin it all down to some ruthlessly logical outcome of the individual psyche and life experience, but musicians would be more likely to have little idea as to what constitutes ‘IT’. And how do you assess the impact of a band forty years down the line?

John Peel once said that he was attracted by outrageous sounding vocals. With me it didn’t matter if ‘it’ came from voice, lyrics or the sound of the instruments, just as long as it felt honest and had elements of the outrageous. This was something of an alchemical mix required if the music was to resonate with my alienated and often angst-ridden psyche.

The late 1960’s, with all that hippydom and radical politics offered plenty for the alienated and angst-ridden folkies. It was a time for ‘letting it all hang out’: Al Stewart rambled on about impotence. Roy Harper sang – no – raved about mental illness, head rocking in time, but also reminiscent of the severely ill. I loved it all.

The JV didn’t fit in with this lot but I loved them too. They had their idiosyncrasies, but in a clean and wholesome way: they had no preoccupations with the tragic and the sordid. And there was no whining on about mining disasters, the IRA, nor getting your balls frozen off on a trawler in the North Sea, nor was there any flowers and fairies stuff.

Pete and Richard looked a bit scruffy, but that of course was de rigueur. Pete had his Kalamazoo jazz guitar, not too many of them around. Max affected a 1920s dress sense, and his was the only cornet I ever heard on the folk circuit. That whopping great jug took so much attention that it was possible not to take in the (outrageously?) restrained character that whoomped into it with such aplomb. Muff could have gone to school in the clothes he wore.

The JV came with guitars, mandolin, harmonicas and kazoo, but it was the jug, cornet, swanee whistle, washboard, cymbal etc which were indispensible to that wonderfully WILD jug band sound. It was uniquely appealing and refreshing, good time music belted out by versatile musicians intent on having a good time.

Jug Band music has its origins in American folk, blues and probably jazz, but the JV also produced original material that couldn’t be more English. Topical, satirical and above all FUNNY, they brought to mind The Bonzo Dog Band, Leon Rosselson and Jeremy Taylor. And what could be more authentic than ‘Hayes’, played at the Hayes Folk Club, by musicians that came from that benighted place? I don’t think that it was ever ‘collected’ by the E.F.D.S.S. however; they weren’t interested in ‘Bovver an’ Agro’ either, but it was the Freeman Syndicate, not the JV that penned that one.

To sum-up, the JV produced good, honest, shit-kicking music which ENTERTAINED. Thanks lads, you hit the spot.

I thank you Griff, for those few kind words. I also thank you for sending me a copy of the newspaper photo that graces the top of this page. Now all I have to do is keep my side of the bargain and transcribe the rest of those lyrics. I’ll post them before the month is out – honest! Incidentally, Griff has also sent me another piece about the Hayes guitar-building fraternity and I shall be posting that soon as part of an entry about the Hayes and Southall music clubs and their various spin-offs.