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Written on March 25, 2005, and categorized as Secret and Invisible.
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Jesus on the cross asked of God, “Why Have You Forsaken Me?” This surely is the most truly awful moment in the Passion, true evidence that Jesus was indeed human.

I suffered. I made funky sense, but more by luck than judgement. I died several times, and yet I survived. Sometimes I was close to burning my D-50 keyboard, Jimi-style. The helpful cries from the band of of “B FLAT” and “E MINOR” were no use. Keys? Chords? What use musical notes to man on the very edge of perceptual revelation? I am almost 100% certain the soundman turned me not just down, but off, muted, several times, just to lessen the atonal chaos.

London, 1992. I’m lucky enough to have played some gigs with Ashley Slater. He played on my first single in 1987, then stole my guitarist Perry 5 years later. I wasn’t too arsed about that. My band was doing OK at the time, but I was getting bored with the kind of gigs I was doing, colleges and pubs and not many clubs. While I was gigging well-arranged soulful rock with nice basslines, I was getting into dance music, that was where my head and heart and feet were at, and my band, good though they were, just didn’t have the sound I wanted.

My songs were great though; I was a much better writer and singer than band leader. So Ashley and I collaborated on some songs, as a result of which I joined the best line up I’ve played in – Microgroove. The only band I have ever heard match Microgroove’s groove was the Average White Band, who I saw last year at the Jazz Cafe, Camden. Almost as good in parts, I thought, but Ashley was balder.

Ashley worked hard to keep Microgroove in the running. Apart from booking the gigs, driving everywhere, writing, recording, making records, and coping with his own peculiar and several other people’s madness, Ashley was also one third of an extremely tight brass section, who got regular session work elsewhere. Ashley carried lead vocal and trombone, The Rhyme Minister, who may also have had a writing hand in the song Walking elegantly and educatedly rapped, Angie Why Waste Your Time? Brown soul-wailed. On drums, Shane Meehan, and bass, Dale Davies, my favourite ever bass player. Dale had miracle fingers, and that clear deep Fender sound. To complete the line up, add a guitarist and a keyboard player, and an audience who wanted to be entertained.

Ashley was mad then. Not always, but often. A delightful man, and still a friend I care for and respect. But I can say with some degree of authority that he had issues. Still has. It’s just he loves them now. Ashley called me up late one afternoon and said, “We are short of a keyboard player tonight. Want to do a gig? It’s local.”

I had done lots of gigs, some really good ones, but I had little knowledge of the Microgroove set. I knew my set. I knew 4 songs of his, maybe. Not what key they were in, or anything like that. I could sing them, was all. Plus, I was a writer, not a musical technician like all these guys. Jesus, it was practically a super-group of funk. And they wanted me? To do WHAT? Can’t possibly, I sputtered, but I did not let him down. I played the esteemed Jazz Cafe venue on his behest.

I duly turned up in Camden, D-50 under my arm. Ash sent me on stage 5 minutes before the band appeared, and I was bemusing the audience with some wierd electro noises forming an art landscape. It was pretty far out, which meant it could only add to the funk. Forming a line and playing their way, funky New Orleans style, around the balcony, down the stairs, and on stage, came the band, to packed house, on a Friday night.

As they walked on stage I gave a silent prayer to the God of Music. “Jimi” I said, “Send Me Your Inspiration Now That I Need It”. Ashley to my right was on mic and already talking to the audience. Shit. I didn’t even know what song we were about to perform. Reassuring smiles from musicians near me. One, two, three, four…

It was fabulous, wildly expressive, a triumph of misplaced confidence over technique, of front over style, of insouciance over humiliation. The audience loved it, and were queueing for sex with the band afterwards. It took days to work through them. I can only say I gave my best.

Ladies and Gentlemen, please take each other’s hands… that’s right, everyone hold hands… now lift up your arms, and lick the armpit of the person in front of you.

Making a sour face, tasting deodorant, sweat and my own fear, I give you: WALKING

Walking

one nation under a shoe

you can ride a bus
not us
you could drive a car – not very far
hope on the tube – don’t be a boob
go out into the desert and ride on a tank no thank you – uh uh!

you gotta go walking
everybody walking, yeah
c’mon go walking
everybody walking along
you got to walk in the street
move your butt to the funky funky drum beat
walking walking
walking along everybody
come walking

you can hail a cab – get flabby
ride a bicycle – it’s nicycle
try rollerskates – no brakes
hope on the back of a big fat cow – not now
try a plane – ear-pain
cram in the back of a van – be a man
try a surfboard – no teeth
ride on a train – financial drain, financial drain

everybody come walking
go on, come walking
come on-n walking along
c’mon come walking
you can walk in the street
move my butt to the funky funky drum beat
walking, mm walking
you got to go walking
c’mon everybody walking
OK

Damn… Take a walk…
Can I walk it? (Yes you can!)
Can I walk it? (Yes you can!)
Can I walk it? (Yes you can!)
Can I walk it? (Yes you can!)
Can I walk it? (Yes you can!)
Then I’m gone…

(Yes you can!)(repeats under rap)

Walking – an interesting concept
I’m taking the rhythm and it’s playing with my dansette
This new situation in this funky nation, we need some means of perambulation
or should I say transport of the cheapest sort, it’s a non-contact sport
just lift one leg and place in front of the other
yeah, you got it my brother
W – A – L – K – I – N – G spells WALKING!

(Walk in the street)(repeats under chorus)

walking – c’mon gimme walking
let me hear you say walking people!
c’mon, i need walking
you gotta go walk-ing yeah
it’s the only way to move
c’mon everybody walking ‘long with Microgroove – you gotta move
Move your body to the left, move your body to the right
Move your feet around the floor, you’re doing just right

(Yelps, Applause)

(Walk in the street)(repeats)

There are various ways of walking
You can swagger, you can bounce
You can gently sway from side to side
But at the end of the day, we are all walking
One nation under a shoe… walking…

Ashley Slater / Microgroove © 1992

Listen to the song here. I’m sure Ash won’t mind.

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This thing has 6 Comments

  1. Blog ho
    Posted 25 March, 2005 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    Travelling…so i’ll make it quick. very fucking impressive, my friend. Wish I were there.

  2. Cat-007
    Posted 26 March, 2005 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    *Easter Sunday…Jesus says the WorD before he is driven up to heaven…I have learnt this…You can’t survive on wizbangs in real life…After the Last Supper, Jesus and his disciples went up to the Mount of Olives….The Bible says, he withdrew to the Garden of Gethsemane. It was here that he prayed, “Father, if it is your will, take this cup away from me; Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.”…

  3. Cat-007
    Posted 26 March, 2005 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    *Easter Sunday…Jesus says the WorD before he is driven up to heaven…I have learnt this…You can’t survive on wizbangs in real life…After the Last Supper, Jesus and his disciples went up to the Mount of Olives….The Bible says, he withdrew to the Garden of Gethsemane. It was here that he prayed, “Father, if it is your will, take this cup away from me; Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.”…

  4. Cat-007
    Posted 26 March, 2005 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    *Easter Sunday…Jesus says the WorD before he is driven up to heaven…I have learnt this…You can’t survive on wizbangs in real life…After the Last Supper, Jesus and his disciples went up to the Mount of Olives….The Bible says, he withdrew to the Garden of Gethsemane. It was here that he prayed, “Father, if it is your will, take this cup away from me; Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.”…

  5. Cat-007
    Posted 26 March, 2005 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    *Easter Sunday…Jesus says the WorD before he is driven up to heaven…I have learnt this…You can’t survive on wizbangs in real life…After the Last Supper, Jesus and his disciples went up to the Mount of Olives….The Bible says, he withdrew to the Garden of Gethsemane. It was here that he prayed, “Father, if it is your will, take this cup away from me; Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.”…

  6. Dean Harvey
    Posted 18 February, 2006 at 2:02 am | Permalink

    I saw microgroove in Birmingham – man they were funky – I was playing keys with a funk outfit called the Dance Stance in the Midlands at the time – I just could not beleieve Ashley’s front!

    I’ve seen him in Brighton a few times – I heard he lives down here.

    KNow where I can buy any Microgroove stuff?

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