Friday, June 3, 2011
Down At The Crescent
Great Chalkie Davies picture here of Doctor Feelgood at the Crescent Bar in Sandy Row in the late Seventies - the Wee Wullie Younger's Tartan Ale sign complementing the breeze block and steel cage composition beautifully.
Sandy Row is the second most famous Loyalist area in Belfast – King William III travelled down the nearby Lisburn Road in 1690 on the way to fight the Pope at the Battle of the Boyne while in the other direction the first intercommunal rioting took place in 1857 between the Protestant locals and the Catholics of The Pound district. Van Morrison references a trip from Dublin to Sandy Row – by way of the soon-to-be frequently bombed Great Victoria Street station – in Madame George. The nearby Donegall Road district gave the world Ruby Murray, Alex “Hurricane” Higgins and the setting for Graham Reid's magnificent "Billy" television plays of the Eighties while ten minutes away in turn is Windsor Park football stadium where George Best played 18 times for Northern Ireland between 1964 and 1977.
The tower in the background is the rear of the City Hospital where the author was born on the same day The Who played at the New Barn Club in Brighton in December 1965. The Who would perform three times in Ulster - the Top Hat Ballroom in Lisburn on 6th May 1966 and in 1967 at the Ulster Hall in Belfast and Magilligan's Golden Slipper Ballroom on the 8th and 9th June. The 1966 Irish dates included the National Stadium in Dublin and the Arcadia Ballroom in Cork. The following year's visit to Northern Ireland was without Keith Moon who was recovering from a hernia operation. His replacement on drums was Chris Townson from Surrey group John's Children for both concerts and a third at the Palace Ballroom in Douglas on the Isle of Man - home town of Happy Jack.
This 1978 Doctor Feelgood lineup we see here are not the original members I believe. The early footage of the group performing All Through The City at the Southend Kursaal in Julien Temple’s 2009 Oil City Confidential documentary is absolutely jawdropping. Vocalist Lee Brilleaux, guitarist Wilko Johnson and bassist John B Sparks look like the kind of guys you would see drinking schnapps by the bucketload at a wedding disco in Northern Finland in 1975. And then stabbing you to death in the forest afterwards. Or worse. It would take a literal battalion of stylists to replicate this kind of effortless cool again in modern times.
Likewise for the mighty Small Faces and the point during the run through of the Ogdens Nut Gun Flake album on the June 1968 Colour Me Pop TV special when they are performing Son of the Baker and Steve Marriott violently wipes the spit from his mouth with the back of his hand. A later mimed performance on the French Surprise Partie has three of them arriving late for the start and Marriott stopping to fix his hair in the middle of the guitar solo.
Sure beats having pop stars who model their body language on Norman Wisdom and need testosterone shots - something that Norman himself certainly didn't need for the extraordinary love scenes with an ultra-nubile Sally Geeson in his final What's Good For The Goose movie.
The sheer brilliance of our British and Irish rock and pop heritage of the Sixties and Seventies is utterly monumental in scale and orginality.