Sunday, 8 November 2015

Betcha by golly wow: a trip down memory lane

The Stylistics were never my favourite band, although I liked them. They were just there, always there. Part of a soundtrack to a life.

Who can forget this?
They seemed to be on top of that skyscraper roof for weeks in the summer of 1975. I was coming up to fourteen and probably blackcurrant picking at the time, the sun on my back and fingers weary and stained purple, just to earn thirty five pence a bucket.

There was a radio playing in the next row of bushes and Rod Stewart's Sailing was poised to take over the top spot in the Top Ten with Roger Whittaker and The Last Farewell not far behind. The high seas were a popular subject back then, with The Onedin Line a weekly treat on the telly.

I can't say I was struck with either of those songs. There was a load of rubbish in the charts, including The Bay City Rollers. I shudder at the thought of how I made my mother sew tartan inserts into my half-mast trousers.

Still, there were some corkers in the UK top ten of 24 August 1975. Remember these?
Fast forward a few years and I was still crazy about music, of all genres, dipping into Punk, New Wave and Electronica along the way.

I remember seeing my favourite band of all time, The Four Tops, at the late-lamented Cornwall Coliseum in the early 1980s when acquaintances were into Bauhaus, Japan and other pretentious tosh.
I was a trainee journalist at Plymouth with my own pop page (I'm flinching, thinking it might have been called something naff like Teen Scene. Ugh). In my review of the Four Tops I said something along the lines that this was a band which would be remembered long after the latest crop of fashion victims were forgotten.

It wasn't my smartest move but at least my flatmate stood by me.

"Darling, just look over your shoulder. Reach out, I'll be there."
Anyway, I digress. Back to The Stylistics. About seventeen years ago, Mr Grigg and I went on a soul weekender at Butlins. It was epic. I've been trying to organise a Lush Places trip there ever since, but I've yet to convince my friends and neighbours that they'll enjoy it, they really will.

In amongst a star-studded line up which included The Real Thing and Heatwave, topping the bill were The Stylistics. I remember watching them from the back of a vast room, three white suits shining like beacons of soul-tastic joy in a room full of strangers.

They belted out hit after hit. I'd forgotten The Stylistics had had so many brilliant singles.

So when I saw they were coming to Weymouth Pavilion, I wasn't slow in booking tickets, which is just as well because last night's gig was a sell-out. I told my friends on Facebook that I didn't care if the band members were sitting in wing-backed chairs and being administered multiple drips by a nurse, as long as they could sing while they were receiving their medication.

They're a four-piece these days, with only two original members of the group strutting their stuff, although one of them, Airrion Love, had a stool to rest on every now and then because he'd just discovered the chronic pain he's suffering is the result of a kidney stone.

There were ladies on girls' nights out, retired police inspectors, HR managers, the lot. All had one thing in common, they were out for a good time. And a good time they had too, with all the old favourites on the set list. And of course, they left the best until last, sadly without the presence of Love who failed to come back for the encore, the pain probably too much.

I can't give you anything but this grainy photo from my phone. In this picture, Love is singing Only You but struggling to hit the notes.
Despite this, it was £25 well spent for a wonderful, nostalgic and magical night out. Let's hope Love makes a full recovery.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

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