Fans and Groupies

Paul looked at Andy and said, “I think it’s time, don’t you?”. Andy nodded, grinned and took off his jumper to reveal a black T-shirt emblazoned with white letters spelling the word “Ando” (his nickname among close friends). Paul, who was sat next to Andy on the sofa, then took off his jumper to show that he was also wearing a black T-shirt with white lettering. Paul’s shirt read “Ando’s Friend”. Next to Paul was Andy’s girlfriend. She also removed her jumper to reveal another black T-shirt. Hers said, proudly, “I cook for Ando”. And we all fell about laughing.

I was clearing out the junk room a week or two ago when I came across some old reel-to-reel tapes. With the tapes were some hand-written track listings. They were recordings of songs written and performed by Andy and Paul back in the mid-seventies, some 35 years ago. Now I’ve never owned a reel-to-reel tape player (my brother and I used to “borrow” our dad’s), but I’d kept those tapes in the hope that one day I would be able to listen to them again.

It was time to do something about those tape recordings. For all I knew the tapes might have deteriorated to the point where they would disintegrate in the player or the print-through would be so bad that the music would be unrecognisable. Keeping my fingers crossed I sent them to Gary Ankin in Bletchley to be converted to audio CDs.

The CDs came back a few days ago and, amazingly, they sound as good as I remember from the tapes. They were recorded on a domestic tape recorder in a bedroom. There was little opportunity for multiple takes and editing. The balance could have been better and the performance wasn’t perfect, either. But the songs (and the occasional instrumental) are every bit as good as my fading memory suggested.

What sort of music is it? Well, like most of my favourite tunes, it doesn’t fit neatly into any recognised genre. If you think of Genesis with a slightly jazzier slant you’ll get the idea. Mainly guitars and keyboards with snatches of flute, sax and double bass. It sounds like ELP in places and even, on one track with a female vocalist, like a high-class cabaret group.

It’s no good, words can’t do it justice – you’ll just have to listen for yourself. One thing I can say, though, is that their quirky sense of humour comes across loud and clear in the lyrics; it spills over into the track titles too. You can’t help but smile when you see “Spectacle Snatcher of Thornton Heath”,  “N Things To Do With A Dead Snail” and “A Little Night Muesli” on the album covers.

I’m a fan of Ando.

By stoneyfish

Humanist and retired software engineer with a love of music.

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