It’s about time…
Yes, it certainly is. Regular Blue Bishops watchers must be getting bored with the rather stagnant look of our site. The excuse, if it’s any consolation, is we’ve been so busy gigging, promoting the album and generally dealing with holidays, bouts of sickness and very sadly, the loss of a friend and helper Clive Searle, it’s all been a matter of priorities and life getting in the way.
So at last we’re in the process of getting round to dealing with it. I have vast archives of photos, unrepeatable anecdotes and general tittle tattle to liven things up a bit, and am now, with lots of help, in the process of getting it together to revamp and repopulate the site.
It’s been funny going through the old stuff – Geoff playing with Bill Wyman and Ronnie Wood for example, in a photo where even Ronnie looks like a youngster. Martin Turner in his Quasimodo pose – not a sight for the squeamish. And a young selection of Blue Bishops on the second ever tour of Holland, sunbathing in the beachside house the promoters rented for us! Full heads of hair and empty stomachs. That’s going back a bit!
On the current news front we’ve had airplay on Paul Jones’ Show and are picking up plays in all sorts of corners, as far away as Israel even, but we still need more mainstream exposure on the airwaves. So if any fans have an idle moment, a request to your favourite jock or radio station will be hugely appreciated. And any comments you want to leave on youtube, myspace, wherever, all add up.
We recently had some great reviews, including one in Classic Rock from Henry Yates. It’s great to have that kind of coverage and he said some really nice things about the musicianship. One of the things you do when you send something for review is put yourself totally in the hands of the reviewer. You fully accept what they say and don’t act childishly if it doesn’t come out the way you want. It wouldn’t be a review otherwise. But there’s a ‘but’ coming…It’s just a factual thing to set the record straight, not a sour grapes moan. In fact I’ve been trying to get in touch with him though can’t find a contact. The reason is the review read as if the latest album was a one off project with John Leckie and Stu Epps and we’d got together for a laugh as friends. And it was fun while it lasted. Blue Bishops fans will know that the band has been together for over 16 years and that this was no vanity project or one off item. It also made it sound as if we were all mates together with John and while that’s true now, after working so well together, only Geoff had known him before. He’s a fantastic bloke and great producer and historically, it’s an important first – the very first time he and Stu Epps have worked together. Despite knowing John for so long Geoff had never contemplated asking him to get involved. You can imagine how many times he gets asked by far better known folks than us and Geoff’s the last person to impose like that and take advantage of a friendship. What’s more, John has established a reputation built on his own very clear integrity. If he doesn’t like it, he won’t do it.
Anyway, lacking the subtleties and sensitivities of Geoff, after John had come to about 7 gigs to see us live [during the whole number of those occasions I doubt if he and I talked for more than 10 minutes] and now fortified by several pints of Stella, on the last time he showed up I asked him straight out is he’d produce our new album. He said ‘yes’ and that was it. And boy, am I glad I did.
Stu Epps has to come in for similar appreciation. When it comes to guitar sounds, I suppose working with Jimmy Page and the Firm, Twisted Sister, Chris Rea, with guitars all over the place makes it easy to record with him. Especially when he can get a sound so we can record live in the studio without monstrous amounts of overdubs on the songs that really need that live drive.
And while I go through the plaudits, having Rod Argent make such an original and effective contribution on keyboards was very special for me. Being young enough, and ignorant enough then to have no real grasp of my limitations, I went down to Good Earth when Russ Ballard left Argent to say I’d like to join on guitar. I’d been doing pop rock singles with an old buddy from University, Vaughan Rees, who had been a session man for Blue Horizon and had played in Mike Vernon’s original band, The Shifting Sands. What we had was OK stuff but a million miles away from Argent. Anyway, after posting him a single I got the nicest, hand written refusal from Rod himself who had taken the trouble to listen, comment and encourage. Funny eh? That was 1971 or 2. Now I have an album where not only he is playing, but Jim Rodford, Argent’s bass player, is in The Blue Bishops.
It’s a bit like the Martin Turner story in a way. When I was at university Wishbone Ash were about to do their first German tour, and I had a student friend, Brenda Jenns, who worked for the John Sherry agency in the vacations. She asked if my university band would like to go and support WA on that tour. After imagining ourselves to be rock and roll rebels we came face to face with the fact that we were actually trying to get degrees. Foolishly [I got chucked out and hated the course I was on anyway] we got sensible. However – the world turns round and after a chance meeting though a mutual friend Keith Chapman [he of Bob the Builder creation fame] Martin joined the Blue Bishops. It was after nearly nine years with us that he fulfilled his dream to get his Wishbone Ash together.
Anyway, I’m writing this in bed, with a very, very painful torn muscle in my pelvis – the result of lifting gear, and if I don’t put this laptop down soon I think I may get stuck in this position! So I’m taking steps, literally, to be fit for the next batch of gigs.
Keep listening, keep looking, and keep in touch with us.