Some time ago we published The End staff's collective memories of those crazy 80's and 90's nights when, by pure word of mouth the cities youth clambered and fought (literally) to see Liverpool's folky hippy good time band Groundpig (you can read that here http://the-end-fanzine.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/groundpig-memories-tribute-to-groundpig.html if you haven't already done so). At the time Mr Potter refused to add his account and demanded we either set him up on a date with Viv Albertine or pay him in buckets of bourbon. We did both and we can now release Micks Groundpig memories in all their glory................
Mr Johnnie O'Connell's well deserved nationwide theatre "Simply Dylan" tour got me thinking ( admittedly months after master Jones asked me to do "something,anything about Groundpig ) Playing the ultimate snob i can do better than that ,yes I can pre-date Groundpig . If Mr O'Connell doesn't mind I can go back even further into the mists of time ,a bit like that drunken loon Alan Williams ex Beatles manager used to do in the Post Office friday afternoons.....that, as I often say, is another story.
The venue, The Throstles Nest, Scotland Road, Liverpool. The exact date I,am unsure of. (maybe 79 XTC,S making plans for Nigel? a subliminal crystal ball homage to Birkonian rock gods Half Man Half Biscuit perhaps ? ) My top tune on the Throstles Juke box at the time, pop pickers.! Well I think so.... (the mind can play tricks when you try to recollect, dear ENDLINGS) Yep XTC, back to back with one hit wonders Thunderclap Newmans Something In The Air Dylans Lay Lady Lay and bizarrely The Worzels I,ve Got A Brand New Combine Harvester a truly ecletric mix,and I have'nt even started on the punters yet !
Trading under the banner of "Riley", Johnnie and a collection of free spirited musical hobos from the Great Homer Street /Soho Street diaspora nervously shuffled onto the cramped stage.The crampness of said stage was,not helped by the fact Riley seemed to possess more musicians than your average symphony orchestra (perhaps encourged by eccentric Licencee, the fearsome Joe O Driscolls act of folly in promising all the band free ale)
Johnnie remembers the Throstles in true understated Johnnie fashion as a bit rough.
In truth i feel this does the ol' place a great disservice. The cavenous back (back) room with stage and obligatory pool table was a wacky hub of Cammel Laird ship workers, pick pockets, merchant sea men, Tate and Lyle glamorous gals and an Errol Flynn lookalike glass collector called Charlie who was one of the brainest fellas I've ever met in my life. A hapless alcoholic, he would embroil you in some conversation about the Cuban missile crisis or the artificial price of South African diamonds (obviously while you got him a drink ) only to then walk away loudly ridiculing you much to the amusement of fellow victims...I loved him! I always came back for more .
The Riley set, I'm sure, included The Devil went down to Gorgia with its insane Hemanesque violin played with perfection by the multi talented Graeme, sadly no longer with us. Duelling Banjos from the film Deliverence an everyday song about folks from the Wirral. A couple of Genesis (,remember them numbers?) and of course tunes by Robert Zimmerman. Fog On The Tyne by Lindersfarne may well have got a blast but the plumes of purple haze drifting over the band had nothing to do with any Mersey inclement weather and more to, it seemed, the compulsory smoking of illegal..stuff. I remember an old ex docker (Frank) who wouldn't have looked out of place on Sinatras infamous mob snap, joint in hand grinning away as Johnnie and the boys strutted their stuff. Mein host Mr O Driscoll tolerated the Lebanese (I'm no historian but red Leb sounds about right...... or was it Kyber pass black ?) on his premises simply because i think he wasn't quite sure what the fuck it was. He was an old school publican who would mutter profanities to himself if a lone black sailor, on his way to nearby Great Homer Street market, strayed in looking for " C : EAD MILE FAILTE, forgetting perhaps that he was an immigrant himself. Riley went down a treat! Those grinning youthful faces have stayed with me. I still watch Johnnie play now whenever I get the chance,. Sometimes I think he's saying to himsef "jesus Mick are you stalking me ?" But then I look around and I'm reminded of the classic line outside the headmasters office in KES.....Same ol faces same ol faces ! C EAD MILE FAILTE ? A HUNDRED THOUSAND WELCOMES . In true End fashion I aint checked it for grammatical or spelling errors. Fuck it... J. KEROUAC.
Photo from John O'Connell's FB page