From Top of The Pops to Tour Bus

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For many of us growing up during the Eighties, Top of The Pops was eagerly awaited Thursday night viewing. Some performances remain as fresh in our minds as the day we first saw them. Who can forget Culture Club’s debut on the show, and the subsequent discussions about Boy George’s gender the following day at school? Then there was Adam Ant’s performance of Goody Two Shoes, when he danced across the studio from stage to stage wearing those red leather trousers. For me, The Beat’s appearance in May 1983, when they first performed Can’t Get Used To Losing You on the programme, has always held a special place in my heart. As a 12-year-old girl watching Dave Wakeling perched on a stool, looking down the camera with a cheeky glint in his eye, I was left with an indelible imprint on my memory. You can imagine then how I was feeling when I stepped onto The English Beat’s tour bus to interview him for my next book.

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On  board the tour bus with Dave Wakeling

Any nerves I may have had soon disappeared as we got chatting … and chat we did, covering everything from politics, racism and Greenpeace to his Vox teardrop guitar, musical influences and songwriting. In fact, there wasn’t much we didn’t cover in our hour and a half interview, all of which you will be able to read about next year when More Eighties is published. Having finished our interview, I was delighted when Dave invited me to the band’s gig that evening.

Based in California, The English Beat were in Folkestone, Kent to headline the Skabour festival, as part of their current UK tour. Fronted by the Brummie singer, the band comprises Matt Morrish on saxophone, Kevin Lum and Minh Quan on keyboards, Nucci Cantrell on drums, Brad Engstrom on bass and, with apparently limitless energy, King Schascha toasting.

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After The English Beat’s gig at Skabour, Folkestone

Bringing us all The Beat’s favourites, such as Mirror In The Bathroom, Stand Down Margaret, Too Nice To Talk To and Save It For Later (or Save It, Fellator according to Dave’s schoolboy humour!), the band delivered a top notch set that had everyone singing and dancing along. So much so, that I didn’t hesitate to accept an invitation to the band’s gig the next night at The Forum in Tunbridge Wells.

A more intimate venue than the previous evening, it was the perfect setting to perform new material Never Die. One of the tracks from a forthcoming album to be released next year (I’ve heard a preview of a few of the tracks and they are A-Ma-Zing!), Dave wrote the song in memory of his late father. Beautiful both lyrically and melodically, the song demonstrates not only a huge songwriting talent but a rare insight into love and life. It’s already a firm favourite with me.

The English Beat still have a week left of their UK Tour, so try to catch them before they head back over the Atlantic. The music is first class, the vibe is great and Dave Wakeling still has that twinkle in his eye.

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Too Nice To Talk To

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With the second Friday the 13th of the year looming just hours away, some of us may be feeling a little nervous. Touch wood, I’ve never been that superstitious! I have also been far too busy preparing for a rather special interview I have lined up for then, to worry about the date. Here’s a little clue as to who it will be too nice to talk to tomorrow (hint: it’s not Dave Wakeling). Wish me luck!

 

 

When Buster Bloodvessel Bust A Gonad!

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Seconds before I entered Bad Manners’ dressing room to interview their front man, the band’s manager warned me Buster Bloodvessel was not well, following that evening’s performance at The Britannia Theatre, Chatham. Concerned he was too ill to be interviewed, my first question to Buster, as we shook hands and I sat down next to him, was if he was well enough to answer a few questions. “Yeah, I’m in a lot of pain though.” He certainly looked to be in some discomfort, but before I could suggest postponing the interview, he continued “I’ve got a swollen, painful b*llock.” Seeing the look of shock on my face, he grinned “The right one’s got a lot bigger!”

An unconventional start to any interview, but then Buster Bloodvessel (real name Douglas Trendle) has never been one to hold with convention. With appearances on Top of The Pops in the Eighties, during which he dressed up as Henry VIII to sing “Lorraine” to a blow up doll – “That girl got it,” he states in mock seriousness, “It was a long tour!” – and in a yellow and black satin saloon girl dress to perform the Can Can, Buster is no stranger to using humour and fun in his act. “I actually think I was put on this earth just for that reason, to make people happy,” he muses. At the age of 56, and under normal circumstances, Buster still dances the Can Can. “I do like to do the Can Can…[I’m] really sorry I didn’t do the Can Can tonight,” he looks at me apologetically, before laughing “Twisted a b*llock, I think!” He then suggests that the title for this article should be “My Twisted B*llock”.

I tell Buster that all this talk of testicles has made me lose my threOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAad. “You’re the one who’s got to keep control,” he challenges, before turning to the camera and sticking out his trademark tongue. I do manage to get the interview back on track, and find Mr. Trendle to be not only entertaining, but totally engaging and charming. We covered a wide range of topics, including his musical influences, ska in the Eighties, and Buster’s long term love affair with Margate, all of which will feature in my next book. I also learnt what a true professional lies behind the unabashed facade. The flippant remarks about his anatomy belied the real pain Buster was suffering but, ever the showman, he refused to give in to it. “It was hurting me when I started to sing “Just A Feeling,” he explains. Only a few songs into his set, it meant he spent most of the evening’s performance in agony. “I had to fight it ’cause I ain’t letting that crowd down.” Anyone who was in that crowd would agree that he did not let us down, but gave a performance with such an energy no one would have guessed his injury. The evening was the first date of a 30 gig tour for Bad Manners, so there is still plenty of time for you to see Buster Bloodvessel and his extremely talented entourage for yourself. I can’t wait to see them again next week, when they play The Quarterhouse in Folkestone. To find a gig near you Click Here