So, this is the first in a new series of features about hearing great albums for the first time and the impact those albums had on us. To start the series, I’ve picked an album which will be thirty-five years old this year and it’s certainly wearing a lot better than I am. It’s the Dexys Midnight Runners debut album “Searching for the Young Soul Rebels”. It was released on July 11th 1980 and peaked in the UK album charts at Number Six, but that doesn’t tell you anything like the whole story. This is an album that is still revered by thousands of fans and regularly appears in best albums of all time charts. As far as I’m concerned, I’m still happy to pull out my vinyl copy of the album any time, stick it on the SL1200 and listen from start to finish; it’s still a great piece of work and, like all classics, people love it for different reasons, not all of them musical.
So, just let me give you a bit of context here. In October 1979, the final year of freedom before joining the real world was just beginning. The final year of university, a last chance for free gigs and as much DJing as I could wedge in before finally trying to justify four years of a local authority grant. We were just starting to read in the NME about some new bands and styles emerging in London and the West Midlands and coming to terms with the prospect of five years of Thatcher (if only we knew then…). A lot of the new music seemed to have a harder edge; punk had come and gone but it had left behind a feeling that anyone could be in a band. The university circuit was a great place to see bands and I was lucky enough to be at a university that was on the circuit (ok, Dundee, if you must know). It was going to be an interesting year.
During the usual beer and catch-up session with the Ents crew (the PC alternative to trying to seduce freshers) we would talk about music we’d bought between June and October (don’t those holidays seem incredibly long now?) and the bands we’d seen. There weren’t a lot of those if you lived in Mansfield. In October 1980, Phil Madvert (our Ents Committee cartoonist, poet and poster designer) came back from Birmingham all fired up about this new band called Dexys Midnight Runners that were going to be huge; yeah, of course mate, just like City Boy. But Phil was absolutely on the money and we were gracious enough to admit it when we heard “Dance Stance”; this was the real thing.
On February 3rd 1980 (less than a week before their first Top of the Pops appearance) Dexys played at Dundee University Students’ Association. They DJ on the night was incredible- yeah, ok, it was me and I was scared shitless because I’d read all about Kevin’s perfectionism. Anyway, I scraped through and Dexys were stunning; I was already converted before the album was even released. When the album finally came out, I was back in the real world, working for a living and realising how different (and how much harder) it was. Even though three songs from the album had been released as singles (and “Geno” had topped the charts) I couldn’t wait to hear how it had all been put together.
Now, please tell me I’m not the only person who did this; I got back home with album at about 11am on Monday morning, I put the album on the deck, dropped the stylus and heard the very quiet sound of a radio being tuned across the dial (if you’re younger than 45, ask your parents about that) so I turned up the volume until I could hear “Smoke on the Water”, “Holidays in the Sun” and “Rat Race” in succession through the static, and then the brass intro to “Burn It Down” nearly blew the bloody roof off. Wouldn’t have been so bad, but my dad was on nights; I don’t know who was less popular, me or Dexys.
So, “Burn it Down”; well it was the single “Dance Stance” with a different title, a title that made a lot more sense in the context of the album. There are some tracks that are perfect album openers (how about the Manics’ “Slash ‘n’ Burn” from “Generation Terrorists”?) and “Burn It Down” is one of those, from the radio sweeping the airwaves, through Kevin Rowland’s exhortation to Al (Kevin) Archer and Big Jim to ‘burn it down’, to the brass intro on steroids, it’s perfect. The lyrics were about the stupidity of Irish stereotypes, but you could apply to any of the other racial or gender stereotypes prevalent at the time, even in politically correct students’ unions. And into “Tell Me When My Light Turns Green” with its big opening brass riff, powerfully personal lyrics, Kevin Rowland’s falsetto and the soon-to-be characteristic swooping vocals and a nailed-on trombone solo from Jim Patterson. The line ‘I’ve been manic-depressive and I’ve spat a few tears’ seemed odd at the time, but it makes sense now with some historical context. Even now, “The Teams That Meet in Caffs” is one of the most evocative instrumentals in my collection; it’s note-perfect from the acoustic guitar and bass intro through the entry of the Hammond and then the brass section which takes the lead through the track. The brass is relatively simple, tight ensemble playing until the soaring alto sax solo which takes us up to the fade; it’s the perfect soul instrumental.
“I’m Just Looking”, pulls you in with a whispered vocal and Hammond intro, before settling into a slow, impassioned, vocal backed by more subtle and delicate brass arrangements with lovely use of dynamics to enhance the power of the song. As for “Geno”, well it had already been a hit when the album came out; it was a rabble-rousing, stomping anthem which acknowledged the influence on Kevin Rowlands of Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band, but with the sting in the tail ‘now you’re all over your song is so tame’. It was about the impact that music can have on a purely visceral level (‘Academic inspiration you gave me none’) and it was spot on for its era.
Side Two (force of habit, I’ve got this on CD as well but I always think of it as vinyl) opens with a cover of Chuck Wood’s Northern Soul classic “Seven Days Too Long”, which is faster than the original and uses the brass section more emphatically to punch out the fills. It’s another acknowledgement of the roots of Dexys music and a great cover. “I Couldn’t Help It If I Tried” is slow and powerful, featuring Kevin Rowland’s full range of vocal tricks and the brass section playing chords and arpeggios to build the mood. There’s even a nice trombone solo from Jim. “Thankfully Not Living in Yorkshire it Doesn’t Apply” is a bit of an interesting one; it’s taken at almost breakneck speed, and the vocal in the verses is entirely falsetto. It just about works but I suspect it isn’t most people’s favourite song on the album.
And then we’re into the home straight with “Keep It”. It’s medium-paced and pushed along by the pulse of the Hammond and brass in the choruses. In common with the final song, the lyrics are about an unwillingness to commit, but I’ll come back to that. And just before the climactic closer, there’s a poem, a bloody poem backed with a sax solo. Listening to it now, it seems less odd than it did then; it’s a love poem about the concept of love and the lies it makes people tell each other and themselves and it works really well apart from the pause after ‘won’t’ which disrupts the flow of ‘We all feel something I won’t pretend just for you’. Poetry critics, feel free to disagree with me.
The final track, “There There My Dear” was released as the taster single for the album in July 1980 and, for me, it summed up Dexys. It roared in on a wave of Hammond and horns before the General Johnson vocal trill pulled us in to the first verse; now that’s how to start a song. Lyrically, it’s in the form of a letter to a character who’s trying hard to be fashionable by not making any mistakes but won’t commit to anything worthwhile. At times the words are shoehorned in, but it really doesn’t matter because it’s a majestic noise. When the breakdown comes at just after two minutes, we’re left with bass, drums and quiet brass and Hammond which gradually build up (after finally bringing in the title of the album) to the album’s message – ‘Maybe you should welcome the new soul vision’ before ripping into the final verse and brass fade. You can probably guess what I did next; yep, flip it over and back to the start again.
So, why did this album have such a big impact on me (and thousands of others) at this time? Well, how about the musical reasons? I grew up listening to a lot of different music in the early 70s, but the soundtrack for the shared musical experiences was basically Stax, Atlantic, Motown and Northern Soul, so the Dexys sound was tapping into a vein of nostalgia, but it was much more than that. This wasn’t just some limp tribute band; they had taken the aggression that punk had spawned and combined it with those old soul stylings. The guitar wasn’t the dominant instrument in the line-up (the only time you really hear a guitar stand out on the album is on “The Teams That Meet in Caffs”, and then it’s an acoustic); it’s all about the horns and the Hammond and Kevin’s tortured vocal. And the thing about the horns is that they are LOUD; it was a deliberate production decision which gives a punchier, punkier sound to the songs. The album isn’t one-paced, there’s a lot of dynamic variation and the horns play punchy fills, tight ensembles, counterpoint and even the occasional solo (but not too many of those).
But we all knew it wasn’t just about the music, there was an attitude (the attitude that had terrified me when I had to DJ just before they played), there was a commitment, there was even a bloody manifesto. There was an insistence on dealing with the press and the public on their own terms; the one-page essays in the press to replace interviews and the communiques that arrived as inserts with the singles. They even kidnapped their own master tapes from EMI to secure a better deal. Attitude? And the rest, mate.
And then there’s the image. The Marlon Brando longshoreman look that supposedly came from the way Big Jim was dressed at a really cold rehearsal (Dexys fans please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong on that). It wasn’t a look that was designed to sell clothes from your boutique (yes, you, Mr McLaren), it was a look that working class kids could understand and copy without paying a fortune and it made them look unified and menacing; it was the group as a gang. They were portrayed as a group of outsiders, united by a common look and a musical vision; you were never quite sure which side of the law they were on (they talked about bunking the train to London in interviews, while they still did them) and anyone could join their gang.
The timing was right; punk had self-imploded and John Lydon had admitted it over two years before with his “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?” question at his final Pistols gig. The Clash had moved on, The Damned had always been a joke, and the rump of the movement was flirting with Nazi iconography and straight-baiting make-up. The epicentre of rebellion had shifted to the West Midlands and it felt more authentic and less stage-managed by the likes of Malcolm McLaren and Bernie Rhodes (although he did feature at the start); it was being led by musicians and it felt so much better because of that.
For me personally, it was a bridge between my teenage years, my student years and the real world that I’d finally dropped into. It was music I loved being made by people that cared and it was intended to be played loud; it’s still a touchstone for judging new albums. That’s how “Searching for the Young Soul Rebels” felt and still feels to me.
10pm Friday is always a tough gig on a Butlin’s Music Weekend; most folks cover some distance to get there, and most folks come from work earlier in the day; so your Friday night crowd is normally enormous (here we are now – entertain us!) but are a bit stunned either due to the aforementioned circumstances (or they’ve been heavily pre-loading, or both).
So in the Centre Stage venue, The Damned. No, I can’t pretend I’m a diehard fan but they will always be the band who arguably got the first punk single to the pressing plant in ‘New Rose’ – and I will always remember the thrill / shock of hearing those over-amplified and some might say ham-fisted chords hammered out on a limited edition Stiff 45 with a groove so thick it virtually ate any stylus you dared to wave at it. We are talking real pioneers here and whereas it would take someone with serious recall problems to describe them as the best of the class of ‘76, they did plant the flag. Respect Due.
Enormous crowd, thousands strong, but somehow not quite up for it yet. On troop The Damned. Dave Vanian and Captain Sensible – originals, of course – shared the pre – song raps and crowd orchestration ( ‘And now it’s time for Singalongasensible!’) and they burst through two well- chosen set openers; “Love Song” (etc) and “I Just Can’t be Happy Today”.
The mix is muddy, and whereas Dave Vanian has rarely been described as the strongest voice of his generation (more sort of Tony Hadley meets that bloke from The Cure via Max Bygraves) he can barely be picked out. Fortunately about three songs in, the sounds starts to come around and the Sensible guitar starts to chime with a bit more conviction. The true believers down the front are loving it but to be fair they aren’t reaching the far flung recesses of the room particularly effectively.
They do “Eloise” with a sort of embarrassed aplomb – but later in the set comes an absolutely blistering “New Rose” and a spirited dash through “Neat Neat Neat”. But the sound and histrionics are very, very rock’n’roll; and the emerging theme of the weekend seems to crop up. This is a very successful touring rock band, with an established repertoire and fan base. Nowt wrong with that of course – but it’s all a few squillion miles from the ‘Alternative Music’ ethos of yore. And I don’t blame them at all. They got their break, as hundreds did before and since, when your jib had to have a particular cut, or you’d spend the rest of your life playing for fifty quid in your local. And they grabbed it with both hands and never looked back. So yes, they were fine, the people who turned up to see them enjoyed them; what more do you want? It’s only rock’n’roll. And I have to say it was a hoot seeing hundreds of middle – aged Captain Sensible lookalikes in the bars around the venue all signing fake autographs etc, etc. And ‘middle aged’ assumes everybody’s going to live till they’re 110 or so.
Quick dash across to Main Stage 2, Reds, to catch UK Subs but Charlie and Co had already done thangugudnite and disappeared. So the choice you now have is the Anti-Nowhere League’s orchestra and chorus, or Bad Manners.
Bad Manners it is then. Oh come on, don’t be like that. Peter Powell once said to me when he was presenting Top Of The Pops, whilst I was watching a fat bloke in a dress and Doc Martins, dancing and miming and sticking his tongue out to a hundred or so year old French music hall tune, that ‘this what the British pop music scene is all about’. And who am I to argue.
Because at the time me and my brother were working six nights a week as party DJs and as the very 80’s conclusion to the evening’s entertainment we’d let off pyrotechnics which these days would get you Health and Safety’d out of existence whilst totally pissed audiences leapt all over each other to this slab of vinyl, which had itself been liberally pock-marked with blast marks due to same. We’d spend a happy three minutes with our fingers crammed under the turntable mountings till they bled, yelling at each other to grab that Frankie 12 inch or whatever. So I’ve got a soft spot for Bad Manners. Bear with me.
As show time approached, the audience raised the endearing chant of ‘You Fat Bastard’ until the band rumbled onto the stage. I very much doubt any of the other original Manners are present with us this evening, but Mr Buster Bloodvessel very definitely is. The band blasts its way through “This is Ska”, which, well, it is and it isn’t, and the Large One then launches into a melange of greatest hits; and he’s had loads. “Lorraine” gets an airing, as does”My Girl Lollipop”, “Just A Feeling”, “Special Brew” etc, etc. He wisely takes a two song breather – the guy must be about 60, and has lost A LOT of weight since the glory days – but with intelligent timing, a classy enough bunch of musicians and an audience prepared to sing the bits when he wants a few gulps of air – he makes it through to a deserved encore of “Lip Up Fatty” and “The Can-Can”. Band were perhaps a bit more individually talented than the sum of their parts, but hey, they more than did the job. There is something about his voice as well – it is ludicrously well suited to the angular Ska sound and phrasing. And actually to paraphrase another of Peter Powell’s favourites, ‘Just for fun – it’s too much!’ Served up between a couple of intelligently chosen 2 Tone / Trojan / Ska / Mod DJ sets, this was a whole bunch of that Fun stuff. Also – where else could you find yourself dancing on a sticky carpet to Toots and The Maytals at two in the morning and the bar is still open north of the Watford Gap?
Saturday is all about The Boomtown Rats. You could hang about all night and listen to The Chords UK, The Rezillos and a Jimmy Pursey-less Sham 69 if you felt the need, or indeed cop a bit Ed Tudor-Pole around half eight if that floats your boat. Or you could take your pick of first sitting Rats at 4pm, or second sitting Rats at 10pm. 4pm Rats meant a leisurely evening and a rather nice Italian meal, so that won hands down. 4pm in Reds it was on Main Stage 1 for The Boomtown Rats.
Bob Geldof spent about 3 years as one of the most famous people in the world. He probably will grace the history books in a few years as one of the most influential people of the previous century. That really does not seem to be an outrageous statement having written it.
So you’re kind of a bit surprised to see The Man Himself bound onstage of a Saturday tea-time at Butlins. And to be fair, they absolutely rip into the audience with a real intensity, which goes up a gear when the band kicks into “Like Clockwork” as third song of the set. Geldof prowls around the stage in a circular motion and the Rats go through the kind of slick, polished set you only get when a band has worked hard rehearsing up front of a tour – and has resolved to tour itself silly, which they are doing. At one point Geldof laughingly accuses the audience of ‘Alternative Music’ supporters of using it as an excuse for a weekend piss-up at Butlin’s – quickly adding ‘and we have no problem with that!’
The hits come thick and fast. Given a life – and by anyone’s standards not always a happy one – lived largely in the full glare of an unforgiving media, “There’s Always Someone Looking at You” sounded a difficult song to sing. “She’s So Modern” hasn’t aged well but at some point during the set they were going to have to launch into “Mondays”. And they did and from spooky piano intro to theatrical hand claps to eyes – closed power vocal, they nailed it and the audience loved it. But that’s not what The Rats were there for – they wanted to rock and whilst wild applause was still hanging in the air Bob is declaring his intent to ‘play some rock n roll’……l refer you to my previous comments regarding The Damned.
And rock’n’roll they did, and extremely effectively. They did a great – and I mean great – version of “Mary Of The Fourth Form”, where the band used the structure of the song to allow ‘Mary’ to chuck a few shillings into the jukebox and say rude things about Mud and The Bay City Rollers, but selecting a few rock n blues classics which enabled the band to noodle along on a very entertaining blues groove, until she finally hit on something by The Boomtown Rats……
“Looking After Number One” is probably the only out and out ‘punk rock’ song in the set. The first hit single, it concludes with ‘I wanna be like me….’ which is very Bob Geldof. Must have been very disappointing for him to hear the crowd sing ‘I wanna be like you!’ More Jungle Book than determined personal statement but hey, that’s not his fault. And so on to a show stopping “Rat Trap”, which is a truly great song, and a real grandstanding anthem in anybody’s language, and a richly deserved encore which featured “Diamond Smiles”. And off they went to get ready for second sitting. By the sounds of it plenty of folks were considering coming back for another helping of the same.
Now as I’ve alluded to before, given his personal circumstances Bob Geldof is unlikely to ever be ‘happy’ in conventional terms. But he did seem very much at ease with his current role as enigmatic front man and talented lead singer with a very, very successful and powerful rock band with an established following and the sort of song book most of their contemporaries would sell granny for. And maybe in musical terms that was all he ever wanted. And if so, relax Bob, you and your mates finally cracked it. You can repeat that whenever necessary and there aren’t many who can say that. And that’s me for the day and I’ll have extra parmesan on that, thanks.
Sunday, on the other hand looked like a bit of a marathon. The Blockheads were due on main stage 1 at around 4pm, followed by The Lambrettas at 8 and From The Jam at 10. Unfortunately this clashed with John Otway and Wild Willy Barrett on Main stage 2 and later, Big Country. I was never not going to see The Blockheads – having seen them a few years back in London, I’m having some of that – but what do you do? Big Country without the late lamented Stuart Adamson, or From The Jam without The Modfather?
It’s a big decision in a town called Skegness. I’ve seen John Otway twice in recent years and he’s great fun but I hadn’t clocked The Lambrettas before and, well, I had heard pretty damn good reports of Bruce Foxton’s return to treading the boards and well, I’d somehow contrived to miss the Jam live first time around so…..
The Blockheads were awesome. They were a great night out in London last time we saw them and they’re actually a lot better now. Sunday afternoon virtually anyone who is about piles into the venue but it takes some performance to have people staggering out claiming they’re the best musicians they’ve seen for years. Chas Jankel, looking very much the elder statesman these days, sort of cajoles a range of great performances out of this outrageously talented bunch of players with “Wake Up and Make Love” and “I Wanna be Straight” from the kick-off; followed by a trip down memory lane with a variety of supple and funky versions of “”What a Waste”, “Reasons to be Cheerful” with, I seem to recall, a smattering of “Jack Shit George” hurled into the mix, “Sweet Gene Vincent”, dedicated to Wilko Johnson, “There Ain’t Half Been Some Clever Bastards” and a couple of what appeared to be new tracks to my ears, all rounded off by a triumphant blast through “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick” and an encore of “Blockheads”. You could spend ages waxing lyrical about the individual virtuosity on display from all areas of the band; indeed, you’d have all on trying to marshal all that talent into the discipline needed to play such a tight, targeted set; but if one band member deserved a gold star in his exercise book it was Norman Watt-Roy. If a funkier, more fluid, and downright filthier bass player exists anywhere else on this planet I have yet to hear them. I doubt I’ve ever heard an audience sing the praises of a band so genuinely on the grounds of pure musical ability whilst filing out at tea time.
And thence to Mod Night. Queuing up outside I could hear Big Country tuning up and they sounded positively majestic and I started to have second thoughts about From The Jam. However. You’ve made your bed, you better lie in it. The Lambrettas are an interesting one on paper. Vanguards of the ‘Plastic Mod’ mini-movement in about 1980 or so, they had it mercilessly ripped out of them by the music press at the time. They signed to Elton John’s Rocket Records and recorded two albums, the rather dated but quite tidy ‘Beat Boys in the Jet Age’ and another one, and had two full-fat UK hit singles, an outrageously catchy cover of “Poison Ivy” and an original in “D-D-Dance”.
Both of these were staples of the school disco circuit of the time along with the 2-tone / ska revival stuff;dozens of kids discovering parkas again, and then by the back way, rediscovering great Atlantic soul and Motown tracks which would stay with them for life. So they might not be musical heavyweights in their own right but pretty much like the Merton Parkas, Secret Affair and to an extent and but briefly, The Jam, they put their handprints in the concrete mix marked Great British Popular Music under the sub-section ‘mod revival’.
On they bounced, kitted out in a selection of shiny suits, skinny ties and Fred Perry. The first two songs were ritually murdered by the mixing desk guy, a recurring theme this weekend, but things were turned around by a very sporting version of the Small Faces “All or Nothing”, largely led by the enormously enthusiastic guitarist / second voice guy. Wherein lies part one of a two-part problem. The main man who fronts the band is an original Lambretta (great name, by the way, I honestly wish I’d thought of that one) but he is also of indeterminate age and struggling a bit – at one point he asked to borrow an inhaler from a member of the audience. He is also clearly quite worn down with the constant battle required to stretch two hits out over a whole set – having made the decision to bung them in right at the end – and spent most of the evening pleading with the audience to show a bit of patience as he will Definitely Be Playing That One Later. Consequently he introduced the songs almost apologetically and without conviction. Come on, if you want me to believe what I’m going to listen to for the next few minutes is worth the time then please sound like YOU think it is.
Part two of the problem this band has is accepting what it is. The cover of the Small Faces song – and the later Sam The Sham cover – went down well enough. If you want to go down as well as some of the acts this weekend – have a look at the set. By all means do Beat Boys etc. Title track from the album, which is about to be pushed out again, by all means play the two hits, keep the two killer covers and by all means play a new song especially if you have or are thinking of recording again. Rest of it, mod / 60’s cover versions. Why not try a Motown / Soul Medley. Didn’t hurt The Jam any as a live feature back in the day. The Jam also did a killer version of the original 60’s Batman Theme……get the idea? As it turned out, despite a lot of huffing and puffing, they did OK but not great, got a predictably cheerful response to The Hits and the cover at the end, and earned a deserved encore for effort and sticking to the task. But it could be shed loads better for the same amount of effort, lads.
Main feature of the evening – From The Jam. Bruce Foxton must have reached the point where being introduced as …..’From The Jam’ to the point of cliché, decided that inevitability is well, inevitable. Now there’s two ways of doing this; he could either trot out and ‘be’ Bruce Foxton, From The Jam, with the best bits of a competent The Jam tribute band, possibly called Jamnation or some such thing, take everybody’s fivers and laugh all the way to the bank. Or he could, out of respect for, the music, the people who love the music, and The Jam’s legacy, do it seriously. And from the opening bars of ‘Going Underground’, it is pretty much apparent which it is going to be, played with attack, verve and total conviction, followed by a vicious ‘David Watts’. Foxton looks in great nick, completely unfairly denying the passing of so many years, and his other two Jammy Dodgers are more than up to the task; The drummer has the metronomic accuracy of Rick Buckler replete with that 100 ton thwack which some of the songs require, whilst Russell Hastings is a revelation; got the phrasing, is a phenomenal guitar player – hasn’t quite got the angry snarl of Weller but then again who has? “Start”, “The Butterfly Collector”, “Strange Town” and “Eton Rifles” all whizz past and, if you shut your eyes, please complete the sentence. A new tune which fits in well in context with the hits, “Beat Surrender” and an electric arrangement of “That’s Entertainment” cause near-pandemonium and then – “A Town Called Malice”, complete with the squeaky ice-stadium-stylee keyboard figure. Off they go, absolutely spent, and come back after a short recovery time for a killer version of Martha and the Vandellas “Heatwave” and “Down in the Tube Station at Midnight” complete with backing vocals from a few thousand of the assembled.
Mr Foxton, not seemingly one given to overt displays of emotion whilst onstage, admits at the point of exit that they’ve really enjoyed the evening and find such events ‘very worthwhile’. I’m not surprised. It seemed to me he’d spent the entire evening barely able to suppress his glee at the way in which hard work and a sound plan had come together. Again. They’re off to Australia but are back to tour next year. Go and see them, I implore you. Just because the esteemed Mr Weller seems to have no further use for these songs doesn’t mean you should be debarred from hearing them played live again – especially played by a bloke who has every right to play them.
And that was about it. And what have we learned, if anything? Well, from the stadium-sound drums virtually all the bands adopted as the default position down to the rock n roll theatricals, to describe this as ‘Alternative’ is having a bit of a laugh. I heard around fifty hit singles and classic album tracks which had shifted millions over the weekend. Most of these bands have long since joined rock’n’roll’s merry mainstream, and most at least had the decency to own up to it, whilst at the same time saying ‘fuck’ quite a lot. But then again, that was always going to happen. And from the point that single hit the charts at 18 with a bullet and Top Of The Pops came to call, you were always going to be playing Butlins one day. Ask Robbie Williams. He knows this and has publically admitted as much. But as Hunter S Thompson once observed, ‘when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro….’ Not trying to cause a big sensation. Just talking about my generation.