Chas And Dave

I was extremely saddened to hear of the death of Chas Hodges, one half of “Cockney novelty act” Chas & Dave.  Of course, what lies behind all great success stories is the sheer hard work and preparation.  It’s rare to have success in one easy move.  In fact Chas & Dave were no novelty or a product of luck.  Chas Hodges worked with The Beatles, Bill Haley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Gene Vincent, Joe Meek, Richie Blackmore and Labi Siffre. He was also sampled by Eminem. This is testament to the importance of preparation and sheer hard work in success.

Chas’ death resonated strongly as I’d only just finished recording a song in honour of Chas & Dave last month.  I’m sure he would have loved its embedded non political correctness and cheeky allusions to Cockney rhyming slang.  Now we’ll never know 😦

In respect of his recent death, I have decided to donate proceeds from the sales of the song towards “Balls to Cancer“.  You can find the song at Chas & Dave Tribute.

I’d heard a round of criticism from people in social media that I’d dared record a Chas & Dave song.  These people of course are not musical, just musical snobs. A quick analysis of any one of their songs will tell you just why they are so popular. Great vocal syncopation, superb hooks, tight integration of the rhythm section to the words and a number of great earworms in every song.  Not a second wasted.  20 minute Genesis songs they are not, but that’s a different skill altogether.  There is a tremendous skill in writing a 3 minute pop song. It was a really hard job to bring these elements together in a respectful way in the song and I hope we gave a nod and a wink in the right direction.

I was extremely lucky as I saw Chas & Dave some 300 yards down the road from my house when they played a festival in my town. I could not believe that people of all ages knew all the words to their songs and the sheer euphoria of their performance and musicality. True professionals.

We finish with some of their great songs:

Chas Hodges R.I.P.

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Allo Andy

An exclusive interview with Andy Allo, a hugely talented singer, songwriter and collaborator with Prince at Pizza Express Jazz Club. Andy has the voice of an angel alongside well-honed songwriting and musical talents.  There is little else to be said, just enjoy the interview by clicking the link:

With Andy at Pizza Express Jazz Club, Soho – for the coolest gigs in London see http://www.pizzaexpresslive.co.uk

With another guitarist … 🙂

Andy released her first album, UnFresh in 2009 and two years later, joined Prince’s New Power Generation as a singer/guitarist and worked with the legend on her sophomore album, Superconductor. That album featured a funk/soul sound and made it to #4 on the Billboard Heatseekers Chart.  She has performed on Jimmy Kimmel, Guitar Center Sessions and showed her acoustic chops on Billboard Sessions Exclusive.

In 2015, she released an EP titled, Hello, featuring 4 songs where she explored her love for pop and rock. Now having released her next project, One Step Closer EP, Andy dives deeper in to her acoustic singer-songwriter roots. Of her new project, Andy explains, “I feel like this is just the beginning of my story. It’s a journey but with every record, I feel I’m get closer to who I am as an artist and songwriter. There’s still a lot I want to share with the world.”

Check Andy’s music and film work out at Andy Allo.  Special thanks to Anita Desai for filming the interview and Sepideh Cole for loaning us the office at Pizza Express Jazz Club, where we created a fiction of a cool interview location at short notice amidst in trays, lever arch files and keyboards !! 🙂

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Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock – Speaking and Conference facilitation and Human Dynamics – Business and Organisation Development. Check our books out on Amazon:

The Art of Listening

I met Dame Evelyn Glennie recently at an event I was invited to at The Bank of England. A remarkable dialogue took place about the gentle art and discipline of listening, expertly organised by Andy Haldane, Chief Economist at BoE.

Evelyn Glennie has been deaf since her teenage years, yet she developed as a percussionist and ‘feels’ sound through her body.  She opened the 2012 Olympics using the Aluphone:

Why then would The Bank of England have someone from such a different world come to address an invited audience?

Glennie talked passionately about the art of listening. All businesses could improve their abilities in this area, especially as the speed / rhythm of business continues to increase and that decreases the spaces for meaningful conversation. I have experienced this at first hand through my work with Dr Andrew Sentance, former Monetary Policy Committee member at the Bank of England, himself a musician, and via 25 years of consulting with a huge range of businesses and organisations.

Much business conversation is really discussion, based on the root form of percussion or “to beat around”.  Whereas physicist David Bohm talks of the need for dialogue, where there is a genuine enquiry.  Complex business issues demand dialogue more than discussion and yet most businesses are time limited so issues tend to be beaten around rather than relying on more skilful inquiry.  I call such issues “wicked problems” and they require high level listening, collaboration and complex problem solving skills.

Music, simply stated, is applied physics. Banks run on mathematics and science but the gap between music and mathematics is mostly an imaginary one, installed at an early age when we are judged to be more arty or scientific. At the highest levels art and science are often indistinguishable. Our job as leaders is to “improve the signal : noise ratio” in business.  This of course can be done badly by shutting down conversation or improving our abilities to hear … this, itself opens up a much wider dialogue …

Thus business could learn a thing or two from music and vice versa.  Hats off to The Bank of England for hosting such an engaging event as part of their outreach series.  Here’s a TED talk from Evelyn Glennie, where she elucidates further on the gentle art of listening:

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Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock – Speaking and Conference facilitation and Human Dynamics – Business and Organisation Development. Check his books out on Amazon:

Transferable lessons for business from music

I fall – Mark E.Smith – a memory

A mini memory of Mark E. Smith and The Fall.

My band supported The Fall at Canterbury University – The lead singer of our band was a fan of Mr Smith and we had planned to do a few Fall songs at the gig in his honour …

We had finished our soundcheck (hardly worth it given the quality of the musicians I was working with in “Akker and The Nice Boys”) and we were walking down the corridor to the dressing room and by chance Mark E Smith was coming the other way. It was a narrow corridor and my friend was gripped by the possibility of shaking Mark E. Smith’s hand. He held his hand out in anticipation and uttered some words. Mr Smith walked on by ….

An uncompromising lyrical genius who could be very difficult to work with judging by this mini memory and the “HR turnover” of his band members which saw 60 people pass through The Fall.

Here’s a selection of Mr Smith’s work which helped define The Factory and the sound that became Britpop:

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Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock and Human Dynamics. Author of 8 books on leadership acclaimed by Tom Peters, Charles Handy, Harvey Goldsmith and Adrian Furnham. Featuring an interview exclusive with Virgin CEO Sir Richard Branson.

Damn EU

Tomorrow marks the release of our 7th single in the Rage Against The Brexit Machine series.  Fiscal Cliff charts the story that led to the last major recession and which sewed the seeds for our decision to self harm by leaving the EU:

Click the links to pre-order the song:

Here is the video to whet your appetite:

And the lyric …. written in bus shelters, banks, bath, beds and bars :

The story behind the song – Illustrations by Simon Heath @SimonHeath1

As with many things in modern life, the ideas for the song started on Facebook – with big thanks to Andee Price for finding me within an hour of asking for a professional bass player on Facebook and Christopher Gamble for his “online oral stimulation”:

I placed an ad for a female bass player on Facebook and within an hour I had three recommendations for Andee Price – she read the advertisement accurately and responded. A true professional.

 

A Song for Europe

We have a Eurovision … no, we have not written a Bucks Fizz record … we see the prospect for a better Britain in a united Europe and have written a heartfelt song to capture that vision.

Will you help us chart the song this week?  It needs just 79 pence to buy a copy, preferably on multiple platforms … see below for links.

“Don’t Throw It All Away” is Madeleina Kay’s “Song for Europe”.  The song speaks to our hearts of all the things we stand to lose if we leave the EU.

“Don’t Throw It All Away” has moved several people to tears with its perfect storm of Madeleina’s poetry set to music.

The song was written in a stairwell at the European Union by Madeleina in an emotional outpouring after she was removed from the EU Chamber for daring to wear a Supergirl costume to a Brexit Briefing by our “Brexit Bulldog” David Davis.

This orchestral version of “Don’t Throw It All Away” was recorded and produced by Peter Cook in his studio “The Basement of Cognition” with vocals recorded at Rock God Bernie Torme’s Barnroom Studios in darkest Kent.

Recording session for “No Jeremy Corbyn” with Rock God Bernie Torme and Rage Founder members Gareth Dylan Smith and Doug Grannell

Sony Records’ associate Mark Christopher Lee said of the song:

“Don’t Throw It All Away compares favourably with Sinead O’Connor’s version of “Vienna”.  There is also a little bit of Nico in Madeleina Kay’s voice”.

The original acoustic version is here for comparison:

Place your order for the song on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play now: Just click the images to find the song online. We are aiming for Top 40 success, not so much for the fame, but to “take back control of the media from Murdoch’s Murderous Media Machine”.

Did you stop to think
what you would sacrifice?
When on a whim
you took their advice.
 
What did you think you’d gain?
Why did you leave?
Which broken promises
did you believe?
 
Don’t throw it all away.
There’s just so many reasons to stay.
And if you let me have my way
We’ll make a better tomorrow, today.
 
It’s easy to cast the blame
when you’re hurt
Unaware of all the falsehoods
that you assert.
 
Don’t be reckless now,
just think before you act,
There’s still time to apply
the knowledge that we lacked.
 
Don’t throw it all away.
There’s just so many reasons to stay.
And if you let me have my way
We’ll make a better tomorrow, today.
Don’t you live your life
of regret
But on your fateful fortune
I will place my bet.
Soon your unsubstantiated
optimism
Will dissolve amidst its
criticisms.
Don’t throw it all away.
There’s just so many reasons to stay.
And if you let me have my way
We’ll make a better tomorrow, today.

 

Born in the USA

American rocker DownTown Mystic has contributed the song Way To Know to the Rage Against The Brexit Machine project. Way To Know will be the 4th single released by RATBM on UK label Nub Music. Nub plans to release a full Rage Against The Brexit Machine album featuring a Christmas single based on the starting point of the Band Aid song “Do They Know It’s Brexit?” but redeveloped for a basket of charities.

Way To Know features the RnR Hall of Fame rhythm section of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band – Max Weinberg & Garry Tallent. DownTown Mystic writer/producer, Robert Allen, explains

“I just happened to see a tweet that Nub was looking for songs and artists for the RATBM project. I contacted Nub head Mark Lee about it and Mark, with A&R man Guy Thompson, got the song to Peter and put me in touch with him. Peter called me to tell me how much he liked the song and thought it was a good fit with RATBM.”

Rage Against The Brexit Machine is part of a Stop Brexit Movement using pop music to bring attention to the disaster that Brexit will cause in the UK if it is not abandoned and overturned before it’s too late.

“Naked populism brought us the Brexit referendum result. We will lay Brexit to rest via a populist approach that will expose the naked truth about Brexit and the compelling benefits of a Better Britain in a United Europe. The USA is having much the same problem with Trump so we have joined forces to wake the world up to what’s going on”

Robert adds:

“Brexit should have forewarned us about the possibility of Trump winning in the USA. The one good thing to come out of it is the Resistance Movement against Trump. Maybe the people for Brexit should take a good look at the USA now and see what happens when lies and fake news are believed and you don’t get what you were hoping for.”

Robert Allen – DownTown Mystic

DownTown Mystic’s next release will be the DownTown On E Street EP featuring four exclusive tracks with Max & Garry. This should pave the way for the release of the Rock’n’Roll Romantic album in 2018. Robert comments, “Nub’s recent Distribution Deal with ADA/Warner Music should be of great benefit to releasing DownTown Mystic’s music in the UK and the rest of Europe. It’s an exciting development.”

Don’t just watch the video, buy the songs and let’s lay Brexit and Trumptation to rest – Same Horse, Different Jockey …

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Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock and Human Dynamics. Author of 8 books on leadership acclaimed by Tom Peters, Charles Handy, Harvey Goldsmith and Adrian Furnham. Featuring an interview exclusive with Sir Richard Branson.