Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Acoustic magazine is seeing the good in me!

One of the surprises of releasing a solo acoustic CD after a career of releasing punk rock albums, is to be included in AcousticMagazine’s first ever cover mounted CD to be released on January 15th 2015. The track of mine to be included is ‘If I Should Ever Let You Down’ from my kuJenga Society album. To be on a 'cover mounted' CD of a  national magazine devoted to acoustic guitars seems a strange thing to me and I am not sure how many new fans I will get from this, as anyone intrigued by my track will get a shock at the nature of my other material. However, to reach beyond my usual fan base, to appeal to the sensibilities of a national music taste that can be so much wider than it used to be, could produce further surprises, and it is that which intrigues so about this opportunity.


Looking to next year, the Newtown Neurotics will be back with a two thirds original line up as Simon Lomond is back in the drum stool.   Not that there was anything wrong with Dave Walsh’s contribution to the band, as that was considerable but Simon showed interest in playing in the band again for a while and this was an opportunity to play with my old comrade again and was not to be missed.

So solo and band gigs next year? Yes indeed, the biggest of which is the Rebellion Festival in August in which I get to play in the Neurotics and perform in a solo acoustic role as well.

Full details of up and coming gigs for either the Newtown Neurotics or Steve Drewett can be found here...


Finally, thanks for taking time to check this blog out and I would like to take a moment to thank you for your support through 2014 and to wish you a Happy Christmas and Best Wishes for the New Year.
I will leave you with my Christmas song 'It's Christmas Time! (Oh, yeah, NaNaNa), please play and hopefully enjoy and if you do, please share the video with others. Hope it gets you in the Christmas mood!


Friday, 5 December 2014

When my life flashes before my eyes, I have trouble keeping up!

It’s very strange but on the lead up to the release of my kuJenga Society album I undertook (as can be seen in this blog) to revisit my past work and write a little about each song.
Now that kuJenga Society has been released, I received in the post yesterday, a vinyl copy of the Neurotics first album ‘Beggars Can Be Choosers’ which is due to be released in Italy in the new year.
Albums were not generally shrink wrapped during the time when it was first released in the early Eighties, so this was the first time I held, what now seems like, a huge piece of artwork in my hands with the knowledge that because it was shrink wrapped, it was virgin and had never been played.

It felt lovely, it looked like a marvel in my hand and I didn't want to spoil that, however another part of me wanted to rip the wrapping off and stick it on my record deck and rack it up real loud.

And it was that part of me that won out, and as I listened in rapture, part of my life raced past me and memories and emotions swirled around my mind like a murmuration of starlings.

It doesn't get any better than that! 

No, really, it doesn’t.


A mother and child reunion - The little one is a CD release from Japan which has been out a while and the bigger one is the Italian release due to go on sale in Jan 20015

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

It's Christmas Time! (Oh yeah, NaNaNa)

I know I cannot compete with Chart Christmas pap, as I working outside the music business elite and do not have promotion and pluggers behind me but it is pleasing to see that my humble little video for It's Christmas Time! (Oh yeah, NaNaNa) has now had 1050 plays so far on YouTube and we are only just into December. That is a faster watch rate than any Newtown Neurotics videos on YouTube.
It has also produced interest for work for Scorpio productions who shot it, which is great too.

Very pleasing!

Hey, make that number bigger by watching it now...






If you find the tune is an earworm, you might just want to buy it too at The Drewett Store



Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Local Commercial Radio, in tune with nothing.

It is phenomenal! 

My new releases, 'kuJenga Society' and it's single 'It's Christmas Time! (Oh, yeah, NaNaNa') are available globally, the CD versions are stocked by Amazon and the MP3's are available through every major download vendor, they can can be streamed via Spotify and soon through YouTube Music Key. It's Christmas Time! (Oh, yeah, NaNaNa) is being played across the world via internet radio, and the hits are beginning to rack up on it's humble little   YouTube video (see below).

And yet there is virtually no chance of a single play on our local commercial radio station. That is because the thing that is local about it, are the targeted ads, traffic reports and the people they get ringing in for some facile quiz, or to give an opinion on some subject of the day, by the DJ of the moment. Not the music.


The lure to this honey pot, is a playlist reflecting the strangle hold the music industry has on your ears, that is, a series of current pop hits, played over and over again which reflect, not the nation's taste, but the success of a particular plugger from a particular major record label (of which I believe there are something like only 4 around now) National radio is dire, then local radio follows it, as it is a business model that is determining this and not the chance to offer something that is connected to the community it serves (or should be serving).

It sounds like common sense (forgive me for using myself as an example here, this is not a revelation to me as I have been here before, more on this later, but I think it is my experience that adds best to my point).

Yes, It sounds like perfect common sense to all of us, that a really catchy single, recently released by a local musician would be supported and played by his local radio station and, as it is a Christmas single, would be playlisted along with all their other Christmas fare broadcasted to the local community.

But that is the last thing that will ever happen. Because there is no opportunity to reflect the our community through it's music. It's not playlisted nationally, therefore it is not a part of the business model, therefore it does not exist! It will add no income to shareholders and the station is there to tap an existing market not try to influence it with local content. It is trying to provide just enough local connection,to lure a local audience to sell the national playlist and then to capitalise and monetise it.

That leaves me, and other local bands and musicians out in the cold. This cultural isolation is compounded by local commercial radio refusing to carry any information about what is on at the Square, a local music venue, that practically defines our musical and cultural community here in Harlow. For thirty or more years, it has been influencing generations of the town's young people, to be involved, through the venue, to be creative and to be inspired. That experience, encourages them to grow as adults and to be community minded. And this legacy has continued to the present day via the hard work of a small group of people, who saved the venue from the dereliction that the building next to it, the YWCA, has been allowed to suffer, and by doing that, to keep music local and live year on year. It has been a real struggle for them, and local commercial radio has played little part, support or encouragement.

It is no wonder then, that people are turning to streaming services to personalise their music consumption, to what they want to hear, and not what the 
music industry want them to hear. You see someone play live or get recommended a band or musician through social media, and then you go and stream their album, who needs DJ's? (that's a real shame because DJ's can be great if they are allowed the freedom to turn you on to something they think is great).

I have been here before, in the Eighties, the Newtown Neurotics released a song called 'Never Thought', it was a bright, catchy (commercial even), thoughtful song (I have provided a link to it below, take a listen and see what you think). It was a perfectly radio friendly tune unlike most of the Neurotics usual material (Kick Out The Tories being an obvious example) but I could not get it played on local commercial radio, not at all, not once.

And after all these years nothing has changed, sadly. Yet is is infuriating to know that 'It's Christmas Time! (Oh, yeah, NaNaNa)' has a story within it that the listeners to commercial radio would identify with and enjoy, especially because of the nature of this fast approaching holiday period.

If only they could get to hear it.

Fighting to be heard,  is something we all struggle with at times and we all know what it feels like to be ignored.




                 Here is the song that failed to get any airplay from commercial radio in the                              Eighties




And here is the song It's Christmas Time! (Oh yeah, NaNaNa) that will suffer the same fate in 2014


                            

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

“For safety reasons can I ask you what is inside the parcel” Post mortem


Don’t get me going about the post office!  Have you noticed that since privatisation we are subjected to de-privatisation, a word I just made up which here means that you lose your privacy because everyone in the queue knows what you are sending through the post, because they make you declare it? 

I take in some packets each containing a CD,

“For safety reasons can I ask you what is inside the parcel”

“A CD”

“and that one?”

“A CD”

If this is meant to improve safety, then surely the humble postal clerk would need to know everything in the world? For example…

“For safety reasons can I ask you what is inside the parcel”

“A five port switch”

“Hmmm, network or HDMI?”

No, no, the reality is…

“For safety reasons can I ask you what is inside the parcel”

“A five port switch”

“Sorry?”

“A five port switch”

“Does it have batteries in it?”

“No”,

“Corrosive liquid?”

“No”

“Poison”,

“Explosives?”

“No”,

“A small person?”

“No”

“Ok, first or second class?”

But worse, is hearing other people declare what is in their parcels.

“For safety reasons can I ask you what is inside the parcel”

“Sexy underwear” or

“Incontinent pads” or

“Syringes” or

“Marijuana” or

“A small person” or 

I don’t know what people might say but once upon a time that was between you and the recipient. 

Anyway, at least they have put a stop to people posting themselves to nice places.

So then the woman says, oh, you haven’t left much room for the stamp!

“Well”, I replied, “I had no idea you were going to try to put on a stamp designed specifically for postal workers with visual disabilities”
.
A great whopping huge square of a stamp that was easily a quarter of the size of my CD mailer. She had plenty of ordinary stamps but didn’t try to use any of them.
It’s not even that these mega stamps have an interesting design on them like most stamps. They took the most boring British stamp there was, the one with our bored monarch on it and then blew it up until you can wrap your parcel in the stamp alone!

Incidentally, I got a DVD recently in a card for my 60th and it contained the highlights of the year I was born. It seemed that 1954 was filled mostly with the Queen and various hangers on visiting places and pointing.
I was much relieved that I didn’t miss much being so young that year.
I would have hated to be lying in a cot watching a mobile spin round whilst the Beatles were changing the world for example. That would have been unbearable.


Really pleased with the reviews that have been placed on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk for my new kuJenga Society album. I include them here to show you that it’s not all been hard work and grind for me with this release. Sometimes there are moments of pure pleasure.

Great Solo Album from the Newtown Neurotics front man.
By Kyle Giarratano on November 15, 2014

Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase

As a huge fan of The Newtown Neurotics I've been very excited for the release of Steve Drewett's KuJenga Society.

While musically it shares few similarities with The Newtown Neurotics sound, its spirit and message are very much rooted in the righteous indignation of punk music.

If you enjoy acoustic music, protest music, or the works of Billy Bragg then give Steve Drewett's KuJenga Society a shot, you won't be let down.

Sharp intelligent songwriting, hard melody and majestic guitar playing make this a truly brilliant LP; you wont be disappointed
By timothy james voss on 17 Nov 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Ku Jenga Society by Steve Drewett.

Ku Jenga Society by Steve Drewett.

After perhaps too many years of cover Steve Drewett broke back out into the open firstly with a renewed Newtown Neurotics, proving the longevity of their songs combined with energy of their live shows is still very very relevant today and now with his first solo LP Ku Jenga Society.

Ku Jenga Society hits all of the buttons that are lacking in so much music today. Steve Drewett crafts his songs with true passion and care, carefully picking words and phrases that set the mood or hit nail with bloody savagery when its needed. Stripped down to largely vocals and acoustic guitar Steve’s energy and emotion creeps through into the songs as the guitar holds both rhythm and melody.

The song ‘Jenga Society’ kicks the LP off, A lone guitar weaving both delicacy and power as lyrically it deals with society that is built upon nothing but tills ringing ‘I shop therefore I am’ which like a Jenga tower will eventually fall.

‘Inch Away’, ‘Mindless Violence’ and ‘If Only’ are former Newtown Neurotics songs reworked acoustically, whether you’re new to them or you loved them as Neurotics songs you will understand their timeless quality here. Mindless Violence holds its anthemic status with stripped down clarity.

The ‘Killing Of You’ is story of death in a relationship leaving the survivor living with a crippling guilt; it pulls the pace back with a beautifully picked guitar that shows SD’s skills off to their full.

‘Sweet Jesus’ is driven by a simple pacey strummed guitar that has echoes of Woody Guthrie. The chorus a simple refrain asking ‘sweet Jesus are you listening to me’, as the litany of wrongs committed by the government is told through the ballad of a striking miner who sees his friends break the picket lines and his community ripped part by the after effects.

The other songs on the LP examine relationships, racking through their fragility and how strength comes from experience, bitter, loving and otherwise, ‘if this is love where are the violins?’ asks Steve on You Break My Heart.
Steve Drewett’s songwriting references sex, love, money, being a father observing the everyday strains and joys of family life, and makes sense of these observations in the narrative of the song.

Drewett’s turn of phrase in ‘Around Love’ is sometimes bitter, ’broken hearts like broken glass can cut you to the bone’ sometimes full of optimism, ‘your young and your beautiful wide eyed and na├»ve’ but the unfolding of the brilliantly catchy melody subtly backed with a band not so much leads as carries you on the shoulders through the song.

Its Christmas Time, the LP’s closing song, sports a ridiculously catchy earworm of a chorus which, if there is any justice will hit the Christmas number one spot and piss all over the X-Factor-Britains-not-got-Talent singles.

With wry observations, wit, intelligence and damn fine melody driven songs Steve Drewett delivers an LP that fills the holes that are missing in so much of todays music.

If you like The Neurotics, Tooth and Nail era Billy Bragg, Woody Guthrie or just good music that has something to say then buy this CD, give 2 fingers to the re hash of Band-Aid and say Its Christmas Time! (Oh Yeah, NaNaNa).

PS this a 4.5 star LP. (5 stars is reserved for revolver, bollocks, setting sons, repurcussions and his and hers).



Friday, 14 November 2014

The Winds of Change

It’s so nice to not be in such a frantic state, I was intensely focused on the album for five solid months and now, although I still have work to do, it is not so much and not so stress filled. I feel like I have turned a corner and things are slowly coming back to normal. In that five months I wrote a lot of the songs, recorded them, got them mastered, designed the single sleeve, designed the album sleeve with a bit of help from Lyn Nimtz in Brazil, sorted out digital and physical distribution, designed and created a new website steve-drewett.com, created a record company, come up with the Cruel Binary name and then designed a logo for it. Then there was sending our review copies, arranging publicity, and Social Media. This blog too of-course and dealing with real life completes this busy picture.

During those five months, I have had more things go wrong in the creation of one album than I have never known; I have had a death in the family and organising a 60th birthday party all to deal with, all to stay on top of.

It was all too much.

The ‘new’ release date for kuJenga Society is 24th Nov by which time I hope only to be dealing with posting out orders and tweeking steve-drewett.com and revamping the Newtown Neurotics website.

The Winds of Change (Is Your Washroom Breeding Bolsheviks)

This was written about how the radicalism of the sixties had dissipated into the middle age spread of jadedness and pessimism of the left, leaving the field wide open for the right.
Of-course political movements must renew themselves from the ground up, with younger people getting involved to challenge the status quo but the disillusionment of older former activists is not a very edifying sight and not setting an example to inspire the next generation. 
I am saying in this song, carry on the fight, you may have to do it differently, as the world is always changing, but carry on and get active again, if not nationally then locally, but encourage and inspire others with youth and vigour on their side to take up the cause and continue.

Keep the Faith!



Monday, 10 November 2014

Pop industry carrion and meat for the grinder

My single “It’s Christmas Time! (Oh yeah, NaNaNa) is an attempt to offer a new song about Christmas that people will enjoy, and hopefully identify with, but I must say that the majority of what is supposed to be Christmas records is always just damn depressing.

This year is no exception, the ‘TV buy in’ releases of Children in Need or the Band Aid 30th anniversary is not what I consider as Christmas records, these are charity projects that latch on to Christmas to maximise profits for their respective campaigns. As worthy as they may be, the music is just tired no matter how much they dress it up.
The worst thing though, is the age of the songs, they were big in the day but now here comes the ‘pop industry carrion’ pecking and tearing at the leftover meat of a feast long ago consumed, whilst still insisting on all the trimmings. God only knows but do you know it’s Christmas time at all?  Yeah, will they let us forget it? 
My song is about redemption, it’s about turning your life around, it is good for any time of year but it makes just that little bit more sense within the season it describes.

Chance of a new Christmas song getting some attention?

Don’t hold your breath! I am facing Goliath without a single stone in reach.





You Must Be Mad (From ‘Is Your Washroom Breeding Bolsheviks’)

This song is about young people, experiencing subsistence level wages or worse, as in long term or under unemployment, find joining the armed forces to earn money and to travel and see the world, an exciting and promising thing to do. The catch is, your life is the deposit in this bank of human resources and like all deposits, it can quite easily be lost.

The worst thing of all is how the human race cannot help getting involved in major acts of barbarity and that there is always a large pool of impoverished people that will willingly be meat for the military grinder.

‘You Must Be Mad’ is as fitting for the beginning of the First World War, the Second World and then on to Afganistan, Iraq etc etc etc. but these lyrics referred to the utterly pointless and costly Falkland War.

Things are worse now, more so than at any other time, western forces have become an extension of global business, no longer around to protect the nation, but around to protect the profits of the mega corporations and the military industrial machine.
Worse of all, young men and women lose their lives on orders to rob other people of their resources.

People often say how relevant the Neurotics lyrics are all these years later.

It’ll be a cold day in hell when these ones aren’t




Saturday, 8 November 2014

The effect of unemployment on our lives


Things have come down a peg or two on the stress level today, most of the work needed to get the ‘kujenga Society’ album out is now behind me and two things occupy me the most at this moment. One is getting review copies out and the other is the feedback from people on the album. After the months of work, it’s only now that I begin to find out how it is going to be received.

I am aware that people who love the punk material I wrote and still love playing, have been aching for a new Neurotics album for years and now they get something at long last from Steve Drewett, it is acoustic/acoustically driven and is a long cry from ‘Kick Out The Tories’. On that basis, I have to build into the expectation that some people will loath it. So far the response has been fantastic, but it is early days and I am expecting a backlash of sorts.

I think that “It’s Christmas Time! (Oh yeah, (NaNaNa)” will be seen as a betrayal by many of my fans but that is a silly reaction.
As a songwriter, I feel I need to stretch myself, to do something different, just like I did with the Indestructible Beat. I made an album with this outfit which never really came out and I am so proud of it, even though I have barely sold a copy (it was available briefly as a download, but I intent to release it again at some point).

The Indestructible Beat was, to me, a creative and critical success and yet it failed in success and sales, which has a lot to me pulling the plug on it after three years because of the amount of work it took to keep a big band running.
Maybe some people think that writing for acoustic guitar will stop me from writing more raucous stuff with the Neurotics, that is not so, it may actually be my first step back into the world of writing new material, which may in turn lead me back to writing for the Neurotics again, who knows?

Anyway, other news is that I hope to have the CD’s available to buy via Amazon by next week, we shall see.

Angela (Is Your Washroom Breeding Bolsheviks)

Struggling to make a living over the years through cycles of recession and austerity of one sort or another, made me acutely aware of all my friends who were unemployed and how that impacted on the way they led their lives.

Angela was an attempt to touch on the difficulties that unemployment brought to peoples relationships when one of the couple is employed and the other not. Love is not always enough to win through; sometimes cold hard economics can wreck what could have been a perfect relationship if only the hand of global economics had not strangled their lives.

All these years on, the theme is touched on again in my new single “it’s Christmas Time! (Oh yeah, NaNaNa)

“Times are hard and so cruel, they changed the father that you once knew, when I was at home, happiness left the room and now you, don’t want me around, no you don’t want me around. But it’s Christmas time.”

Thursday, 6 November 2014

It's Christmas Time! Well not quite but it won't be long! Yikes!

Well, I spent all day yesterday, from 8am to 8pm exclusively sitting at my PC putting the finishing touches to my new website, which on top of everything else I have done in a week. Strange experience selling myself but I am now long in the tooth, and as a previously (and still very much) shy person, I have put that aside to be shameless for once in my life, please allow me that indulgence and forgive.

The new website can be found at steve-drewett.com (if you have visited this address before you will need to refresh the page to see the new site) and pulls all the strings together of my creativity over the years. The website as it stands now is the first draft, and I intend to develop it in the future adding more content and more music available to buy of both the Neurotics and Indestructible Beat.

On the site you are able to buy downloads of the Jenga Society album which contains the new single of mine ‘It’s Christmas Time! (Oh, yeah, NaNaNa)’ too, and if the single is the only thing you like or want, then that can be downloaded separately.

Also on the site is the YouTube video to go with It’s Christmas Time! (Oh, yeah, NaNaNa)’

This single is an attempt to talk about the stress that austerity has on relationships and how, if you ignore the religious and commercialisation of Christmas, it still an important time to take stock of your life and forgive and make up. The song has to do this and still be uplifting and catchy. Not an easy job but take a look at it below and see if you think I have achieved it or not.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Keep The Faith and get up and fight

At long last, I finally have my consignment of both my Christmas single “It’s Christmas Time! (Oh yeah, NaNaNa)” and my album kuJenga Society, only six days late.
Now I have to open shop and start selling them, not to mention sending out review copies and trying to get some publicity generally.
There will be a YouTube video going up very soon too.
After the relaxing time of the launch/sixtieth birthday bash I am now working flat out again, as today I must finish my website and remember to eat at some point. My PC is wearing out and my hard drives are busting at the seams.

Keep The Faith

This song was a designed to lift the listener and refresh their will to carry on the fight. It is saying it is always better to fight together than to fight alone and music has always played an important part in stirring the imagination and reinforcing the convictions that, through weariness, sometimes we can lose track of. 

It can be a bleak world but the future is there to be seized, and it should be done so for the good of all. If we do not shape our future someone will do it for us. 
The song was originally written with the fight against Apartheid as the backdrop and the collapse of that ideology was a definite win for us all. Remember that!

Today, there are other challenges, particularly as democracy is in threat and could end up as just a word used as a fig leaf by capital and corporations as they control our lives.
Check out this George Monbiot article (link here) to see how close we are to losing everything, it is truly unbelievable and proves that some of our nightmares unfold during the day.
Get up and fight, and before you do, listen to ‘Keep The Faith’ for a bit of encouragement.

Now there’s a plan.


Tuesday, 4 November 2014

An Inch away from kuJenga Society

2 days 14 hours 0 mins is how late the delivery of my Jenga Society album is.

Still waiting, do they actually exist?

I continue to work on the new website so there is still plenty to do in the meantime (great word that, very appropriate for me at the moment, meantime hmmm, apart from Saturday night of course!).
Just dying to get the website launched, upload the video to YouTube and get the thing on sale.

Inch Away

This song is very current now because although the Neurotics originally did it on the ‘Is Your Bathroom Breeding Bolsheviks’ album, I have recorded an acoustic version which can be found on the long lost' kuJenga Society' solo album that I am supposed to have possession of at this moment.

The new album has a couple of Neurotic songs on there, because they adapted well to an acoustic arrangement and I felt that they didn't get a fair shout on the original album.
The song is quite grim though as it deals with domestic violence but I believe that the melody has a quality that lifts it away from despair, because the woman and children whose lives we are following are on the cusp of changing their lives for the better. 

Follow this link to Inch Away played live for the first time acoustically

Monday, 3 November 2014

My big party!

I had a fantastic 60th party/Jenga Society launch, on Saturday night, it was perfect, I couldn't have wished anything more from it and it was good for me to be able to relax. I don’t think I have relaxed for three months solid and my trials and tribulations went on right up to the sound check for the gig. Earlier, I was on the phone, enraged and despairing as I was told that the CD’s of my new album, that were meant to be delivered on Thursday still hadn't arrived and were presumably lost somewhere in Poland.

They weren't going to make it, I was not going to have them for the launch night of the album. The CD manufacturers scrabbled around to soften the blow by duplicating 90 labelled copies in clear plastic pouches, which helped on the night but are hardly the same thing.
So some people are now enjoying the album even though I have not received the real things yet.

I was so wound up and angry, that I thought it had permanently ruined my mood for the evening, Luckily, that wasn't the case and I had an absolute ball.

Especially because Paul Howard and Sod’s frontman Kevin Jones, did a fantastic version of Mindless Violence. I was very proud to hear Kevin, from the very band that inspired me to form the Neurotics, singing one of the songs we first started out with.
After that Howard and Clack did the most awe inspiring version of ‘No Respect’, I will repeat what I wrote on Facebook because I cannot sum it up better re-writing it.

 Then Paul did a version of No Respect and it was so beautiful that it made me cry, I could not believe that I had written that song, he made it something else, and i have no words to adequately describe what it did to me. To hear myself reflected back from a great artist like Paul was like being given the most priceless birthday present ever, a glittering jewel of a moment. Thanks Paul and thanks for great performances from Murray Attila, ‘Sumishta and Keith’ aka 13 Frightened Girls and everyone else who shared last night with me, I love you all.

So… while I wait for long awaited delivery of my album, ho hum, I now have to get on with designing a new website for me and the release, so that I can get it ready to go live once I have the physical discs.

On we go!

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Today is the day! The release of kuJenga Society my first solo album!

8 hours and 5mins

Today is the day I have been planning for, every day for three solid months. It was meant to be the release date of my new album and single but just to add to all the ups and downs I have had with this venture, I didn’t get the CD’s yesterday as I was supposed to, because they were stuck in Poland.
The update on this is that they are meant to be in Dagenham this morning and the guy from the CD manufacturing firm is going to collect them and get them to me by 2pm this afternoon. Hmmm, we shall see.
Anyway looking forward to a big party tonight, gotta go and prepare.

Later…

Friday, 31 October 2014

Someone's hanging on my telephone, call the Bored Policemen!

1 day 6 hours 57 mins to go…

Bit pissed off today, as I lost my phone on my birthday. It got pulled out of my pocket when it snagged on the sleeve of my coat, and hit the ground just as I pulled open the door of a taxi, the sound of it hitting the concrete was covered up by the sound of the taxi door opening. Someone later found it and the phone now resides with them in Sawbridgeworth, findmyphone tells me. Hmmmmph.

Update on my Jenga Society CD consignment… apparently, it’s stuck somewhere in Poland? Typical, they come over here, without my CD’s and go back again.

Talking of which, after I lost my phone and got into the taxi, a few minutes later the driver was cut up by a Mercedes, and he then turned to me and said “It’s probably a bunch of Romanians who have made a fortune but are still on benefits and claim they’re poverty stricken.  
In my head…”Aaaaahhhhhh, get me out of this seething mass of ignorance, it’s my birthday, I don’t want to hear your irrational poison”. I didn’t know what to say, how you argue with that without getting extremely angry, I don’t want to be angry, this is my birthday, I am not getting angry today!

So is this where it ends, after all my hard work? I don’t have a new album to launch on November 1st?

Bored Policemen.

This was also an early attempt at fusing rock with reggae and was inspired by the amount of time I spent walking back and forth across the town at night, mostly at weekends, coming back from parties in the early hours, smashed out of my head. Or occasionally,coming back from a gig. I was young and out late and therefore ‘up to no good’. It happened so many times, they’d asked a load of stupid questions (I once had to name the use for every key I had on my key ring.) and I would answer politely as my mum advised me, and then they’d let me go. In the end it was obvious that they had nothing to do and to relieve their boredom they would pull people aside not because they had any suspicion of wrong doing but we were fair game being out late.

So Bored Policemen it was then, not so much a Police and Thieves but a Police and suburban kids, not a big thing, but to us it was. If you were young and black and lived in a big city you were talking SUS and that was another ball game altogether. 



Thursday, 30 October 2014

Where does all the Thyme go?

1 Day 13 hour 31 mins 

Well, my sixtieth turned out to be a damp squib of a day, as I expected. It was a Wednesday, it was grey, it was raining, the bowling alley I wanted to go to was shut, there were no shows on in nearby theatres, there were no films on of any merit too see and there was nothing that I had a burning desire to do or see. On top of all that I lost my phone too. That is why I am celebrating my birthday properly on Sat 1st Nov instead, Wednesday was always a non-starter.
What was good though, was all the greetings I got via Facebook and my birthday cards, they were some of a few bright spots in my grey day, thank you.
I was hoping by now to be surprised by the early delivery of my freshly minted kuJenga Society CD, but no, not so far. See, this does show that underneath it all, I am an optimist. 

The Mind Of Valerie.

In this song, I attempted to depict the stresses and strains that striking has on a family and I wanted to highlight the importance of the support from the wives (in this case in the Miners’ Strike) that was essential for the men to stay out.
The essential thing here is solidarity, it is a powerful thing and there will be many times that this concept may be needed to protect what you believe in in life. It is this solidarity which is the target of the right as they recognise that, it is the tool of working people to protect themselves. Solidarity is often found in the public sector and it is no-wonder then that we are seeing the dismantling of the Local Government and the NHS by the Tories, so that those services can be handed over to the ‘individualism’ of the non-unionised private sector. They then help their friends and the boards of companies they eventually join, to make maximum profits without paying a decent wage. GOLD RUSH BABY!

Striking is a grim and desperate thing to do, but the awful industrial relations in this country means that working people need more than ever to protect themselves and I think it is an essential and noble thing to do, to stand by your fellow worker and fight for what is right, even though you may be losing much needed money in the process.
It is this nobility and struggle that I tried to capture in ‘The Mind Of Valerie’


Take a listen, 30 mins and 30 seconds in.


Wednesday, 29 October 2014

These are birthday times!

2 days 20 hours 38 mins to go...

I am 60 today, I can’t believe I am here, I am very grateful to be, I have a lot to be grateful for. I am taking time out from planning the kuJenga Society release today, to go and do something, I don’t know what but I have to make a decision very quickly before the day grows old.


I am having a big do on Saturday so today has been left to be somewhat random.

Fighting Times.

Staring Thatcherism in the face is an ugly thing to behold; to confront Thatcherism took a strong stomach and a lot of energy. But if you took enough time to examine her political philosophy, the future became clear and it was terrifying. One of the biggest things was the loosening of the regulations regarding media ownership. 30 years ago, Margaret Thatcher's government allowed Mr Murdoch's company to take over The Times and Sunday Times without referring it to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission (MMC), even though he already owned the Sun and the News of the World. 
We then became a nation unable to see it’s self as a collection of communities but with the prism of Murdoch’s world view, we came to see ourselves as a collection of self-interested, self-centred individuals.
If you see yourself shed in that light long enough, you will begin to believe it.
Language is what we use to make the world, but who hold the reins to delivery of language and ideas through the media, how did they get it, who’s purpose does it really satisfy and are they accountable?

'Fighting Times 'was a rallying cry which described what we would lose if we did not stand up and be counted. Not enough people did stand up to be counted and so we came to loose so much that had been fought for over the years.
But it is never too late to fight back!

The quote below from ‘Fighting Times’ was written about the apartheid regime but is still relevant, I think, as a truism for what we are experiencing today. 

“cos, it’s greed that creates the scum that rules a land, and imprisons it’s people as slaves” 





Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Excuse me sir, this is a courtesy call, If you could replace any of your windows in your home, which ones would you choose. Eh, Windows 8, I can't get on with it!

3 days 21 hours and 0 min

I feel much better today. There is no doubt that I have been over-doing it, but I had a health check yesterday and the results were A1 on everything, which was a great relief as I felt exhausted and flat at the time of it taking place.
I have had a good night’s sleep and feel somewhat revived ,although I do think I have a bit of a chest infection. Never mind, I still have so much to do.
The good news is, I have implemented the download service for both the single and the album but it appears to take a fair while for the songs to show online so I do not know if anything will be available to be bought on Nov 1st. We shall see.
Once they are available, I will need to put the connection into my website so that you can easily click through to make a purchase. Once that is in place, it will be the first time that I will be able to sell my music without someone else taking a cut.

Sects

This is a song about the religion industry. It has always been a bizarre concept to me that spiritualism could be packaged up and sold; it’s like fighting for peace.
However the way that religion is often sold, not only undermines the message but is damn ugly.

I will not buy goods or services of any kind from cold callers knocking on my door. The idea of getting you to purchase or agree to something on your doorstep is a pressure tactic and it preys on the old and vulnerable. 

When I answer the door to someone who asks me if I have seen the light, I am incensed. Can you imagine what it would be like if every company or organisation that had something to sell, came knocking on your door? You would never get any peace. I just say, “Did I ask you to engage me on this?” “No, I know where your church is, if I want enlightenment I will come to you!” Door stop selling is so old fashion and so not the way to do things these days but it still happens. 

Much as I love the Beatles and George Harrisons part in their music, his involvement in the Rada Krishna Temple, although culturally interesting, meant for a while we were stopped in the street, given the hard sell by these colourful salesmen of Eastern philosophy.  

Of-course what they used to do was a complete con. They would have some albums with them which were recorded by a bunch of no-bodies and then in the sleeve design, they would put a bunch of rock star names making it look they were playing on the album, George Harrison, Carlos Santana etc. These were people who were in some way interested in eastern religion and were listed to imply they were playing on the record.

Their tactic was to hand a copy of this album over to you, saying that it was free and had these big rock stars on it, but they didn't let go of it. Once you held it in your hand, you had committed to accepting a free album and the next thought that goes though your head was, oh well, it’s free, I’ll accept it, I've got nothing to lose. But they haven’t let go of it! 

Before they do, they then say, could you make a donation. Now you've committed to taking the album but are concerned about what sort of donation would be acceptable for it. They soon help you with that and then you walk away having bought an album of unmitigated rubbish. This happens in the street, a cold calling away from the home. 

Fortunately, I can tell you I never succumbed to this con, but I have often come across this album in the collections of my friends.

I rib them rotten over it!  

Footnote: In cities we have played with big Red light districts like Amsterdam and Hamburg, I have been known to announce this song thus... Ladies and Gentlemen, the Neurotics are now about to perform Sects live on stage. That always broke the ice.






Monday, 27 October 2014

Exausted and Screaming

4 days 18 hours and 27 mins

Not feeling too good today, I’m getting a bit worried that I am overdoing it in the lead up to my big day, Nov 1st. This is when I celebrate my 60th Birthday and it is supposedly the local release date for my kuJenga Society album and Christmas single. But whether I will have either in time, remains to be seen.
I have started on the download service and I have just received the mp3’s from my mastering engineer Nick, who continues to recover from pancreatitis, having given himself and everyone else, a fright when falling ill recently. I shall upload them today as apparently, they take ages to appear in the well-known download vendors like ITunes, Google Play and Spotify etc…

As I say, not feeling too good today and the thought of falling ill just before my 60th is too awful to contemplate. Completely unrelated, I have a check-up at the Doctors set for today, a product of coming to the age I will soon be. My birthday is 29th Oct (which is a crap Wednesday) so I am celebrating on Sat 1st Nov. 

I must be careful with myself.


Screaming

I feel so fortunate that I grew up while the Beatles were releasing records. I got to hear them when those songs were brand new, and not experiencing them as rock’s grand history as we all do now.
I can still remember listening to these tunes unfolding second by second, sparking things off in my head as my mind tried to anticipate where the melody would go next, and it never did, it went somewhere even better! None of us had the musical maps in our heads that we all have now. This was untrodden ground and I was a blank canvas they were painting on. They changed me forever, this is where my musical journey began and it would have been where it ended too, were it not for the fact that I have made my own music now, and it will be my songs that will play me out of this world at my funeral.

I feel so fortunate, some people grew up with the likes of Alvin Stardust or (substitute any name you like here) I didn't, I grew up with the real deal!

When John Lennon fell in love with Yoko, I didn't have a problem with her, I was intrigued, she dealt with ideas, I like ideas, I was comfortable with leftfield music too so, what was there not to like?

I consider the Plastic Ono Band’s ‘Don’t Worry Kyoko (Mummy’s only looking for her hand in the snow) to be one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll records ever and was a pre-cursor for punk.

It was so IN YOUR FACE!




Anyway, the Newtown Neurotics were on stage at the Music Machine, London on the night Lennon was shot. We didn't know, we had no mobile internet and the grapevine only extended so far when you were out for the night. When I got home, I went straight to bed exhausted and inebriated.
In the morning, I got a call from my friend Martin Brown who brought me the news (he recently was the first to bring me the news of the sad death of Shane Rowe ex of the The Sods and for a moment, it felt that he had become the de facto messenger of the grim reaper, until I reminded myself that thirty four years had passed between the two incidences so that was hardly fair).

I was devastated, I felt the loss so keenly and yet I had never met him. This was a new feeling, it was almost like he was a family member but unlike that type of loss, you cannot ask for counselling for losing your favourite popstar. Get over it idiot, and get real.

And that’s what I tried to do, but he came to me in a dream that night, I was in Central Park and I saw John and Yoko so I went up to them and told them how sad I was about the news.Then John said to me, it was ok, he was fine, he had just moved on to the next stage of existence. He told me not to worry and I felt mightily relieved.

When I woke up, that relief melted away as I realised that it was not a vision, he had told me nothing, I was just reassuring myself via my sub-conscience. 

What could I do, how could I mourn?

I handled it in the only way I knew how,

I wrote a song, Screaming.




Sunday, 26 October 2014

Fragile Do Not Bend, This Fragile Life

5 Days 20 hours and 16 mins

This morning I have plunged into the world of mailers, there are a lot things to contemplate when you start your own music label and mailers are one of them. This is pretty mundane stuff, but it is necessary to be able to get physical product to customers and for those who choose physical and not go for a download, you need the thing to arrive without a single blemish, so it is very important. I am just disappointed with myself for waking up early today and the first thing that came into my head was, mailers! Sad. 

Having finished the background stories to the songs on the ‘Beggars Can Be Choosers’ album, I now feel inclined to tell the stories behind the tracks on our second album Repercussions.

Our first release on Jungle Records and we start off the next part of our career with a name change, well a name shortening. As I have said before, this was done to reflect the growing maturity of the band and to differentiate us from this idea that we may be an Oi band. So we became ‘The Neurotics’, which was what most people called us anyway.
And with that we lost a whole chunk of our potential audience globally, as people didn't realise we were one and the same band, believing that the Newtown Neurotics to have only released one album. There was no Google or Amazon to help make the connection in those days.

This Fragile Life.

We opened the album, with a very important song for us, in-fact the sleeve design for the LP reflected this, showing a group of elderly people in a sort of woodblock print design.
The Eighties was a tale of two worlds in which a small section of the population became increasingly richer, and a larger part falling into poverty. The most venerable, being the old and the sick. I wrote this song to make sure people did not forget the growing disparity between these two worlds, and the people who got discarded to enable the wealthy to get wealthier. 

It is often said that you can tell the level of civilisation by how much we care and look after our most venerable people. Now, in the world of global capitalism, you only have worth as a unit of production (or a trained killer in the armed forces, which have for the most part become an arm of globalisation). Once you do not work, or cannot work or are too old or sick to work, you are deemed next to worthless.

Capitalism will squeeze the profit out of a person’s lifetime and then discard them when they are no longer able to be commercially productive.
If you are not one of the wealthy elite, this is the dustbin you will end up in.

Bottom line, poverty is disgusting and a moral outrage. We do not so much need to protect ourselves from each other, rather, we need to protect ourselves from the effects the wealthy have our morals and society.








Saturday, 25 October 2014

Living With Underemployment

6 days 16 hours 49 mins

The sun is shining and I feel fine. Just completed a collage image that is to be the main visual for the homepage of steve-drewett.com. From there you will be able to choose from my solo work, Newtown Neurotics or Indestructible Beat. This is a big thing for me, because for the first time I am pulling the threads together of my creativity over the years. Approaching my sixtieth seems like a very good time to do this and it is bringing things into sharp focus for me. The Indestructible Beat stuff has not seen the light of day so far, but I am going to make this material available in the near future as I am very proud of it. There will be some Neurotics material that is currently lying in the Drewett vaults, that is excellent quality and will be released too.
Next up for me, is to integrate the new image into the website and connect up the parts of it to various areas within steve-drewett.com. Then I need to integrate the shop area where all things Drewett can be purchased.  

Yes folks, for the first time I am opening for business! Proper!

Living With Unemployment.

This is an adaptation of the Members song ’Solitary Confinement’ whose subject matter was about moving from the suburbs to London and the loneliness of working in a mundane job and knowing no-one, having left family and friends behind.
My version, pitched moving from the suburbs to London and then into long term unemployment.
We extended our version into a bit of a tour de force and it has continued to be a great set finisher over the years.
Pretty early on, Jean Marie Carroll of the Members and co-writer of Solitary Confinement, came along to see the Neurotics play at the Fulham Greyhound, and then he told me afterwards that I had made an ‘old man very happy’ with our adaptation and the same very much applied to me too, with that endorsement. I have since supported the Members playing solo and we have continued our friendship. They told me that they sometimes, get people requesting that they play Living With Unemployment and then suggested that we should do it together one day. Now that would be special!
The sad thing about this song, is the subject matter is still very relevant, thirteen or more years’ later, unemployment is still a blight but now we also have underemployment and Zero hour contracts. So this is caring capitalism? 

This feels like tyranny to me.