Thursday, May 22, 2014

Dog and Trumpet - Coventry Music Venue

Pete Clemons with yet another article in the Coventry Telegraph, this time looking at the former Coventry Bier Keller turned New Wave cellar bar pub / music venue The Dog and Trumpet.

There's life in the old Dog, yet.
by Pete Clemons

IT was great news when it was announced early last year that the Dog and Trumpet in Hertford Street, or the Dog as it now known, seems to be getting a new lease of life by way of regular quality gigs and music nights. This unique pub and music venue was a very popular place to go up until twenty years ago.

When I first heard about this news, and the same most likely happened to many other readers, the memories came flooding back of many tremendous evenings in this below ground level bar. Not strictly unique though, I guess, as the Lady Godiva had a downstairs below ground bar area although, as I remember, not as spacious as The Dog.

There was a time there were several pubs existing within Broadgate, the Precinct, and the pedestrianised city centre. Some that immediately spring to mind are the City Arms, The Climax, The Market Tavern, The Thistle, The Black Eagle and The Penny Black. I am sure that there may have been a few more as well but they are now long since gone.

The Bier Keller, as it was, opened in 1972 and carried that name for five years. Initially it was, as the name of the place suggests, German themed. Accordion playing musicians and oom-pah bands dressed in lederhosen would regularly entertain the punters as they drank the German beer that was on offer. The venue also hosted traditional jazz nights.

That all changed in 1977 when the pub became known as The Dog and Trumpet and a more varied live music scene began to take shape at the venue. For those without such long memories: The Dog and Trumpet was named as such because, directly above it, was situated the HMV shop that existed there at the time prior to it moving further down Hertford Street. Of course HMV has since moved on again to its current location in the Precinct.

With the new name came a new genre of live music and, initially, it was folk music that dominated the venue. With punk rock taking hold of the youth at the time this music style seemed to be the polar opposite as to what was happening up and down the country. However, undeterred, regular visitors included the likes of Black Parrott Seaside, Ninepenny Marl and local favourites The Armpit Jug Band.

The end of the 1970s saw the emphasis began to change with regard to live music. The folk bands were still appearing but now also were local bands such as The X-Certs and The Incredible Kidda Band. And this marked the beginning of a glorious period for the venue. For the next fifteen years the venue went on to stage an abundance of top quality gigs The Dog and Trumpet even played host to The Specials and King in their formative days and, under the leadership of Ken Brown, the venue became very much the place to be during Coventry's 1980s music boom as he introduced DJs as well as keeping the live music.

The early 1980s saw popular local bands such as The Ramrods and The Vetoes perform regularly. 1983 then saw the beginning of a club night that still exists today. The Pink Umbrellas, who themselves would play the venue regularly, began a night called The Groovy Garden. From memory, The Groovy Garden began its life on Sundays at the D+T. The club night later moved to the Tic Toc Club during the early 1990s. And until very recently I understand that a Groovy Garden night continued at the Kasbah.

Christmas Eves and New Years Eves were special, in particular New Years Eve, as the crowds flocked out of the Dog & Trumpet as well as other bars, and made their way to Broadgate. The revellers around, and on top of, Lady Godiva's statue must have numbered thousands at times. 

The mid 1980s saw the Dog and Trumpet continue with its incredible success story as visitors to Coventry included the calibre of The Wilco Johnson Band and The Photos but there was still room for the finest of local bands like The Furious Apples, Major 5, Crystal Amees who all appeared at the venue.

1985 even saw the pub selected as a venue for the Coventry Festival. This festival, held for several years, was an early pre-cursor to the ever popular Godiva Festival as we know it today.

As a new decade began brought upon us the 1990s the D+T played host to regular gigs by the ever popular rock 'n' roll revival outfit The Eager Beavers along with their continuing and ongoing policy to support the then current music scene by way of providing a decent stage for the fresh wave of local bands at that time like Kick FC and Eusebio. 

And after two successful years in Leamington the early 1990s also saw the well publicised relocation of the Worldbeat Club from Hinton's Wine Bar to the D+T. The Worldbeat Club, which was quite cutting edge back then, had a fortnightly residency and for a while alternative sounds from around the world could be heard at the venue on Monday evenings.

The Dog has now been refurbished and is up and running again. I am sure that the venue continues to remain in the hearts and minds of many who grew up during the period that encompassed its glory days. And, given the right support, I am also sure that those days will return.

The music being put on at the venue nowadays reflects the current scene with a mix of acoustic acts in midweek and DJs dominating the weekends. But it is fair to say that the place covers most genres and will appeal to many. After many years in the doldrums the city centre deserves a new lease of life.

Is it purely coincidence that since the city centre lost the abundance of pubs and music venues it once boasted the shopping area has also taken a downturn in fortunes? Who knows. But you only need to look at other towns and cities in the region where pubs, theatres and shops mix well together and you get an idea of what might have been. Either way, let's hope that this is the start of things finally being turned around.

Thankfully the revival of The Dog, along with other established pub music venues such as The Shakespeare in Spon Street and The Town Crier, things will hopefully begin to pick things up again and breathe new life into the city centre again.

Some of the bands that played the Dog and Trumpet

Machine / Hot Snacks - Coventry Ska band.

21 Guns


This is a promo for the Leeds Bier Keller to give a flavour of the former Coventry one before the venue changed.

Bad Manners Roger Lomas tells us " Bad Manners played at the Dog & Trumpet to absolutely jam packed audiences on two occasions in 1980. Both times, they were 'warm up' gigs for their first two album promotional tours. Both of Bad Manners first two albums were recorded at Horizon Studios in Coventry.  I produced all four of Bad Manners 'hit' albums. The first two ('Ska'n'B' & 'Loonee Tunes') at Horizon Studios in Coventry, and the second two ('Gosh It's....' and 'Forging Ahead') at Rockfield Studios in Monmouth" 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Rog and Pip - New 'Heavy' Album

Pete Clemons takes a look at an old but new Roger Lomas album with material recorded with another Ex member of The Sorrows, Pip Whitcher. Rog and Pip's new album on Rise Above Records, run by Lee Dorian is the subject of Pete's latest article for the Coventry Telegraph.

Rog & Pip Rarities Get New Release.

by Pete Clemons

RISE Above Records is a London based independent record label owned by Coventry born Lee Dorrian. Lee, of course, is probably best known for his involvement in bands such as Napalm Death and, in more recent years, Cathedral. The record label itself is named after a Napalm Death song, titled 'Rise Above' which came from their 1988 EP release 'Mentally Murdered'. Lee has been running Rise Above since 1988. The label itself was created, initially, as an outlet in order to sell releases by his band Napalm Death. It was a mail order business which operated out of Hillfield's House. And, for all correspondence, he would use a PO Box number in Bishop Street sorting office.

Over time the label grew and it began to release the music of groups that were similar to that of his own band. And over time Rise Above Records has built up a considerable back catalogue. A few years ago Rise Above expanded by announcing a sub label called Rise Above Relics which would cater for rare and vintage 1960s and 1970s releases. Several albums have so far been released on the 'Relics' label.

Rise Above Relics has, just recently, announced a series of new releases for 2014 and among them is an amazing collection of never before, and rarely heard, material by a Coventry partnership who created music together under the name of Rog and Pip.

For music lovers in Coventry, Warwickshire and beyond Rog and Pip (aka Roger Lomas and Philip 'Pip' Whitcher) should need little or no introduction. Both had been members of legendary 1960s Coventry band The Sorrows and, clearly, the pair was more than just band mates together. They had actually struck up a strong creative relationship during that period when they were together in The Sorrows.

Sometime after returning home, and settling down again, from The Sorrows infamous tours of Italy, during the late 1960s, Rog and Pip realised those dreams and ideas by creating a very productive song writing team. And over the next few years Rog and Pip recorded a treasure trove of songs.

Their partnership lasting well into the 1970s and during that period they apparently recorded a vast amount of material, mainly, at the state of the art AIR studios in London. Fortunately, Roger made sure he kept hold of copies of tapes of everything the pair recorded together. His instincts told him that, should they not be used, the contents of those tapes may well have been lost forever.

Some of the tunes they recorded were formally released but many never saw the day of light. And, now for the first time, this Rise Above Relics release titled 'Our Revolution' pulls together a dozen of those songs of which some are being aired for the very first time.

As the CD title suggests the songs themselves, all involve Roger Lomas and Pip Whitcher and of those which were formally released, had been, under various different group names. So the CD includes releases by Rog & Pip from the early 1970s along with other bands they were both involved with such as Renegade and The Zips.

The band Renegade came about after Roger had spent several months down in London doing session work for Southern Music. He made many contacts while in the capital including the estranged wife of Danny Williams. Her name was Virginia Williams and she recorded and released one of Roger's songs, 'Loving and Forgiving.' .' Rather than the song being released using her own name the single came out under the moniker of Renegade and was issued on the Parlophone label during 1973.

When he returned to Coventry Roger set about the creation of Renegade the band. For this he returned to his partnership with Pip Whitcher. Rog and Pip each played guitar and, together, they added the talents of bass player Mick Eastbury and Roger's brother Nigel Lomas on the drum seat. A second Renegade single 'A Little Rock 'n' Roll' complete with B side 'My Revolution' followed in 1974 and this was released on the Dawn label.

The Zips were a three-piece band who featured Rog and Pip and also ex-Indian Summer drummer Paul Hooper. The Zips were signed to Mickie Most's Rak Record label. For a short while, during studio work only, the band also included bass player Tom Evans from Badfinger. This band existed, approximately, between 1974 and 1976.

The Zips recorded two singles for Rak Records. One was a cover of The Everly Brothers 'Bye Bye Love' and the other covered The Beach Boys 'You're So Good To Me.' .' In both cases Mickie Most was at the helm for production duties. Mickie Most, you may remember, produced a host of bands and artists from the 1960s and 70s and was also on the judging panel for the 'New Faces' talent show.

Although the A sides of those RAK releases are not included on the CD, it is the B sides that do feature on 'Our Revolution'. Despite both singles getting plenty of airplay at the time they failed to dent the charts and so Zips disbanded, which was a shame, as the singles were both really good records.

Listening to the songs today after so many years Roger says 'these tracks were long forgotten about and the fond memories I had of recording the tracks, came flooding back. It was a very nostalgic and enjoyable experience.'.

Pip continues, 'When we first played the tapes again in Roger's house, for me it was quite an emotional experience. I was amazed how good some of the stuff was. Some of the tracks I don't even remember recording but it was wonderful hearing them again. I don't think either Rog or I realised just how good we were.' It is important to note that the sounds you will hear on the CD are not re-recordings. They are the actual songs created at that time maintaining a raw, gritty and slightly edgy tone. This is the genuine article and it is a tremendous slab of history.

Many of the tapes were not in the best of condition as they are over 40 years old. So Roger had to bake the tapes and mastered them himself. 'Some of the tracks turned out better than others, but considering that they are the only copies in existence, we had to accept that,' said Roger.

Roger's response to a question on would he and Pip ever perform or make more music again was 'As much as I would love to be able to turn back the clock I can't see it happening unfortunately. We had a phenomenal energy in our music. Could we achieve that again? Could we take the risk, and maybe fail? Better to let bygones be bygones. However, never say never, as they say.' To the same question Pip says, 'Oh if only. I loved all the stuff I did with Roger as Renegade, Zips and Rog & Pip. Musically, it was the best time in my life but unfortunately the years have moved on and, as Rog says, could we ever have the power and energy that we had then? It is great to listen to it now and wonderful to think that I was part of it. But in saying that I think the chemistry we had between us will always be there and I suppose stranger things have happened.' So the full track listing of 'Our Revolution, as arranged by Lee Dorrian, is as follows: 1. Why Won't You Do What I Want, 2. My Revolution, 3. Rock With Me, 4. Evil Hearted Woman, 5. Gold, 6. Doin Alright Tonight, 7. A Little Rock N Roll, 8. Hot Rodder, 9. Its A Lonely World, 10. Why Do You Treat Me Like That, 11. From a Window, 12. War Lord.

What 'Our Revolution' does is to give you a glimpse into the world of Rog and Pip's activities during the 1970s and, this release will be sure to be of interest to those keen on the Coventry music scene and vintage rock music in general.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Ecko Four and The Pickwicks

Pete Clemons visitation to the Coventry music scene once again - this time with a Coventry Telegraph article on the The Ecko Four and The Pickwicks - managed by Larry Page c 1963 / 64.

Pickwicks were frock and roll.
By Pete Clemons

ONE of the earliest of the Coventry beat bands was Tony Martin and the Echo Four. They formed during the early part of 1963 and the original line-up doing the circuit back then was Tony Lucas (AKA Tony Martin) on vocals, Mac Watts lead guitar, Alan Gee rhythm guitar, Rod Simpson bass guitar and Malcolm Jenkins on drums.

They were a relatively short-lived band but during 1963 Tony Martin and the Echo Four played well over 100 gigs in our region alone. The earliest dates I can find being at The Binley Oak in Paynes Lane which was one of the earliest venues to regularly put on 'rock and twist' nights. The band soon found their popularity growing and quickly got themselves on the circuit that included venues such as The Baginton Oak, The Craftsman, The Heath Hotel, Coventry Flying Club and many others.

Tony Martin and the Echo Four were highly rated for their musical ability and, after around a year or so, came to the attention of Larry Page who, at that time, was in control of entertainment at The Orchid Ballroom. I am guessing though that he had his own ideas about them and in what direction they should take.

One mystery that I do have concerns the discovery of a few dates I have made by a spin-off band called The Bandits who apparently featured Tony Martin. These gigs occurred toward the end of 1963 at the Flying Club and The Parkstone Club. Apart from those dates I know very little about this group and I am curious to know a bit more about The Bandits along with the other musicians who made up this group.

By March 1964 and, under his guidance, Larry Page reshaped The Echo Four and re-launched them as The Pickwicks. Firstly Mac Watts, who left the band, had been replaced by Johnny Miles and Tony (Martin) Lucas took on bass guitar duties as well as doubling up on vocals because Rod Simpson had also left the band.

The overhaul was completed with a final line-up of John Miles (vocals and lead guitar), Alan Gee (rhythm guitar), Tony Martin (bass) and Malcolm Jenkins (drums).

The Pickwicks, through Larry Page, obtained a residency at The Orchid Ballroom and they also gained a recording contract with Decca Records. Their first single was released during May 1964. It was a "beat" version of a song made some forty years previous which they called 'Apple Blossom Time.'.

* The original, '(I'll Be With You) In Apple Blossom Tim',' was a popular song in its day written by Albert Von Tilzer and lyricist Neville Fleeson, and first copyrighted in 1920. The song has been recorded by numerous artists including Artie Shaw, Nat King Cole, Jo Stafford, Anne Shelton and many others.

In keeping with the Charles Dick-k ens theme the band had a photo shoot where they were dressed in Dickensian attire complete with top hats. But with dry cleaning and the pressing of this gear, in particular the frilled shirts, taking up to a week and a half it proved to be totally impractical.

Johnny Miles sang lead vocal on The Pickwicks version of 'Apple Blossom Time' and it and was given a B-side titled 'I Don't Wanna Tell You Again'. The matrix number for the single was Decca 1964 - F11901 but, despite the publicity, it failed to hit the charts.

So by the time the second single, 'Your Old Enough',' was released the band had reverted back to a more orthodox stage dress. On its release it was described in the local press as 'a throbbing rhythm and blues sound led by vocalist John Miles who also comes over well on the flipside 'Hello Lady'.

Incidentally 'Your Old Enough',' Decca 1964 - F11957, was released during August '64 and was specially written for the band by songwriter Michael Julian who had also written Cliff Richard's hit 'Constantly'.

The Pickwicks, although playing a lot of dates in and around Coventry, seemed to spend a lot of their time on the road playing many dates around the country. There are plenty of tales to tell that involved incidents with their van overheating, breaking down on the M1 and such like.

The band's third and final single was released in January 1965. This one was titled 'Little by Little' and was released on the Warner Brothers label. Its matrix number was WB151 and produced by Larry Page himself. Its B-side 'I Took My Baby Home' is an early Ray Davies song and the original version can be found on the B-side of The Kinks' first single 'Long Tall Sally'. It was widely reported that future Led Zeppelin guitarist, Jimmy Page, played lead guitar on the single but some reports I have read deny it.

The Pickwicks eventually split up in March 1965. Maybe The Kinks and his latest find, The Troggs, were now uppermost in manager Larry Page's thoughts. But it seems that the group had not been getting the amount of work they expected.

Tony Martin, as well as working as a driver, went on to join a band called The Clouds alongside both Roger and Nigel Lomas. Alan Gee worked for Alfred Herberts. John Miles and drummer Malcolm Jenkins had hoped to form another group. I am not sure if this ever happened but Malcolm did have continued success when he resurfaced with The Ray King Soul Band appearing on their Live at the Playboy Club album.

The story of The Pickwicks did not end there though. Even after the band called it a day their legacy continued for a little while longer... well at least the band's name did.

It seems that after Coventry's Pick-k wicks disbanded a group of musicians based up in Manchester bought the rights to the band's name. Back in the 1960s you could easily register a name. The Manchester version of the band toured Germany and other parts of Europe. One of those band members would go on to become an agent and promoter.

Cutting via Broadgate Gnome A to Z 

The Pickwicks (R&B/Beat group)  made three singles under Larry Page in 1964 -

Apple Blossom Time - 1964 b/w I Don't Wanna Tell You  (Decca 1964 - F11901)

You're Old Enough b/w Hello Lady  (Decca 1964 - F11957)

Little by Little b/w I Took my Baby Home  (Warner Bros. 1965 - WB151)

The Pickwicks made three singles under Larry Page in 1964
This one, a B side from c1965,  was written by Ray Davies of the Kinks with - allegedly Jimmy Page on guitar.

From Broadgate Gnome 2003 
"The Pickwicks line up consisted of - John Miles (lead guitar), Alan Gee (rhythm guitar), Tony Martin (bass), Malcolm Jenkins (drums).

Started life as Tony Martin And The Echo Four, before Larry Page signed them in March 1964 and changed
their name. Initially their stage gear was top hats and tails a' la 'Pickwick Papers' , but when they couldn't find anyone to clean them, they quickly gave the image up!

They cut 3 fine singles of tough Beat/R&B, with Jimmy Page playing lead guitar on at least the first 2 of them. 'Apple Blossom Time' is a cover of the old standard with a tough backing but fairly weak vocals, whilst the B-side has a great Page guitar solo. The A-side of the second single was a ballad, but the B-side was described as '...throbbing R&B...' 'I Took My Baby Home' is an early Ray Davies song, originally released as the B-side of 'Long Tall Sally', The Kinks first single. 

They eventually split up in April 1965 with drummer Jenkins going on to join The Ray King Soul Pact / Band."

NOTE - " On Youtube Darcylee writes " Darcylee96
"Singles: Why is it on all of these i have to put Tony Martin and the Echo Four did NOT originate from the Pickwicks ... The Pickwicks had John Miles and he wasnt it the echo four ... he told me that himself ... Johnny miles is my grandad"


From Pete Chambers - Backbeat - Coventry Telegraph

" DID fabulous Coventry beat group The Pickwicks lose out on chart success because their B-sides were better
than their A-sides? PETE CHAMBERS investigates.
TONY MARTIN and His Echo Four had been playing the local and national circuits, including a prime show at Coventry Theatre supporting Brian Poole and The Tremeloes. Local impresario Larry Page spotted them and so began the image building.
Out went the black suits and ties. In came the "Mr Pickwick" frock coats, breeches, top hats and even stick-on whiskers!
It was March 1964 and The Pickwicks had completed the transformation with the line-up of John Miles (vocals and lead guitar), Alan Gee (rhythm guitar), Tony Martin (bass) and Malcolm Jenkins (drums).

With a residency at the city's Orchid Ballroom and a diary full of bookings, Larry Page secured a Decca recording contract for his boys.

Johnny Miles insisted their first single was a remake of the old classic Apple Blossom Time (the 1920s Fleeson &
Tilzer song that had been recorded by The Andrews Sisters among others).

But this was no ballad, instead it was given the big beat treatment.

"I was always influenced by the drums and bass sound that Johnny Kidd and the Pirates achieved," reveals John Miles.

"Our drummer Malc was a big guy so he could hit the skins with a lot of power."

Indeed such was the style of Malcolm Jenkins that when John heard a band long after The Pickwick days playing live, without seeing their drummer he recognised Malc just by his drumming style.

Apple Blossom Time was completed in just three takes and I Don't Want to Tell You Again was picked for the B-side.

Apple Blossom was a good song, but the B-side was a great song - a product of that time and akin to the multi-part harmonies The Beatles were doing on the likes of She Loves You and I Want to Hold Your Hand.

Johnny's fabulous pop-beat voice was more than good enough to be heard on the charts, but Apple Blossom Time was the chosen single and I Don't Want to Tell You Again never got a look-in.

Towards the end of 1964 the Pickwick Papers image had been dropped, mainly due to the fact that they couldn't get the costumes cleaned quickly enough.

John says: "It was so hard to find a cleaner who knew how to clean and press all the ruffs and frills, and when we eventually did find one, it took about a week to get them back, so it was easier to just give them up."

But The Pickwicks were more than just an image. Anyone who has ever witnessed them will know what a top-flight
freakbeat unit they were.

This was much in evidence on their second single You're Old Enough with Hello Lady on the flip.

On hearing these two tracks you start looking yet again for which is the A-side and which the B.

You're Old Enough is a good enough song, but the B-side - that's what The Pickwicks were all about.

Hello Lady (recorded in just one take) positively rocks along in a 12- bar boogie style and John's lead vocals are spot on.

I talked to him about the way the single was released, saying I couldn't understand why Hello Lady was consigned to a B-side. I felt that had it been an A-side then Coventry may well have had another hit band.

"You are right of course", explains John. "We pleaded with the management at Decca to flip the whole thing, but they were adamant and look what happened."

What happened was, like its predecessor, it failed to chart.

Despite the lack of hit-parade success, the band continued to play up and down the country. One such concert at
Bradford's Fat Black Pussycat Club was more memorable than most.

John says: "We were on stage at this smallish club, when suddenly Tony Martin started going wild. He was leaping about with his bass still playing. I was knocked out. I thought Tony's well into it tonight, this was pre- Hendrix but he was doing all his kind of stuff, going mental.

"It turned out that he had leant against some heating pipes at the back of the stage and burnt the skin off his neck, but like a good trooper he had continued to play."

In 1965 they switched labels to Warner Brothers releasing the now highly collectable single Little by Little with I Took my Baby Home (a Ray Davies/Kinks song) on the B-side. Yet again, in my opinion, a mistake.

Both songs were good but I Took my Baby Home was by far the catchier of the two.

As I said, this single is highly collectable, because all over the internet it is claimed a certain Jimmy Page played guitar on the track.

Although a great session man, the future axe-person for Led Zeppelin never played on this or any other Pickwicks
record, it was a guy called Harry Friar.

So that's just lopped pounds 50 off my copy of Little by Little!

Before 1966 The Pickwicks had split up, with Malcolm Jenkins joining The Ray King Band and Tony Martin joining Roger Lomas in The Clouds. John went on to work with The Kinks and with his idol Johnny Kidd: "He was a lovely man, I never heard him criticise anyone. Such a talent."

And then in 1988, while visiting a relation in Myton Hospice, John saw a face he barely recognised. It was Tony Martin.

"We sat and talked about the old days, it was so good to see him again. I went back a few days later with Alan Gee. We took our guitars along and sang Apple Blossom Time with Tony one last time, it was magical but so very sad.

"A month later Tony was gone, but he will never be forgotten."


HELLO LADY was written by former Harley Street specialist Michael Julien in just five minutes. He had previously
written Kiss Me, Honey Honey, Kiss Me for Shirley Bassey and Constantly for Cliff Richard.

LARRY PAGE got The Pickwicks a prime place on the bill at the Royal Albert Hall. Others playing that night included The Applejacks and Adam Faith.

Little by Little was also released on Warner Brothers in America.

Malcolm Jenkins started his drumming career with The Coventry School of Drums. ";+BACKBEAT:+BECAUSE...-a0132909874