A last minute decision can often lead to surprising consequences. A pleasant, if not mildly overcast day (31/5/16) had turned to light rain and the attraction of a lazy evening endlessly flicking through deadbeat channels seemed to be on the cards when the mobile phone rings, it’s my bud Derek with an offer of a ticket for a BC Camplight gig at The Louisiana, Bristol. There is an acceptance that neither of us is fluent in the work of BC Camplight and as Derek puts it, “it’s worth a punt.” Derek had sought, unsuccessfully to see BC Camplight last year, but circumstances had conspired to have the gig cancelled. BC Camplight is the moniker of American songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Brian Christinzio. Originally from New Jersey, Christinzio allegedly relocated to Manchester, following the advice of a fan on social media. In early 2015 Christinzio overstayed his visa permissions due to a leg injury and was made to leave the UK, resulting in the cancellation of his band’s summer tour which was to include performances at the Green Man and End of the Road festivals and an appearance on Later… with Jools Holland.
Tonight’s venue the Louis is one of those endearing venues with a knack of promoting bands on their ascendancy or providing the platform for artists who are quite content to remain below the radar appealing to a network of diehard fans who are equally content to hold onto their secret. Old gig posters are evidence of past glories, Amy Whitehouse, Florance and the Machine, Coldplay, Kasabian, Muse, The Strokes, The White Stripes, The Black Keys, Kings of Leon to name a few have trod the boards of its 140 capacity. The audience is literally standing in your face with private conversations between songs easily being picked by the performing artists and turned into amusing rounds of audience participation.
Drinks in hand we make our way up the creaking wooden staircase. Tonight’s support is provided by Grace Lightman whose performance, band, and overall delivery is solid. An intriguing mixture of low-tempo soul and jazz with a hint (and I’m sure I’m not the first to this point out) of Kate Bush lingering in the air. The set is well received and with each song Lightman grows in confidence and seems to shake off the nerves. BC Lamplight takes to the stage in rather a shambolic method. Christinzio immediately informs the audience that he is receiving electric shocks from the keyboard, which is confirmed by the sound engineer that this is due to the “cheap gear” the group is using. It is also easy to detect that most, if not all the band, are the less for wear from their London gig, which turned into an extended birthday party for Christinzio at a student’s flat. The first song is interrupted by individual band members seeking alterations to instruments and sound. Even Christinzio is seen to be crawling under his keyboards adjusting wire, with shouts emerging, along with the occasional electric shock. The sound is not brilliant, but the character of a gifted artist and band is ingrained in the ability to manoeuvre around obstacles, even if most are self-made obstacles. BC Camplight does this with ease given the depth of talent on the stage, along with the rich material at their disposal. A fair chunk of the songs tonight I later learn are harvested from the band’s latest album ‘How to Die in the North.’
Performance wise I can hear an array of influences from Springsteen, The Beatles, The Beach Boys. Derek identifies Harry Nilsson influences. They are all there mashed up in chaotic beauty. Whilst an assortment of booze is exchanged between band members Christinzio announces to the audience that he is staying in the local Travel Lodge. Room 26, “if some young adventurer is interested in a little post sordid birthday celebration.” A male member of the audience shouts out, “what if my wife finds out.” Christinzio replies without missing a beat, “Did I say room 30.” Overall a gem of a gig and if you get the opportunity to witness BC Camplight live I suggest you take it.
Not many people know that Nat King Cole recorded five versions of the track L-O-V-E, English, Japanise, Italian, German and French. The English language version recorded at Capitol Studios in Hollywood on June 3, 1964. Bert Kaempfert, the songwriter for L-O-V-E, also wrote the music for many well-known songs, including Strangers in the Night (Frank Sinatra) and Wooden Heart (Elvis Presley). Kaempfert was born in Hamburg, Germany and in 1961, he hired The Beatles to back Tony Sheridan for an album called My Bonnie. The album and its singles, released by Polydor Records, were the Beatles’ first commercially released recordings. During October 1961, a man walked into the music store owned by Brian Epstein to ask for a copy of “My Bonnie.” The store did not have it, but Epstein noted the request and was so intrigued by the idea of a Liverpool band getting a record of its own released that he followed up on it. This event led to his discovery of the Beatles and ultimately their signing by George Martin to Parlophone Records. The rest is history.
In a career spanning five decades, George Martin not only signed the Beatles but produced more than 700 records. Often referred to as “the Fifth Beatle” because of his extensive involvement on each of the Beatles’ original albums. Martin was considered to be one of the greatest record producers of all time, particularly in Britain with 30 number-one hit singles in the United Kingdom and 23 number-one hits in the United States. Martin, directly and indirectly, contributed to the themes of three films in the James Bond series. Although Martin did not produce the score for the second Bond film, From Russia with Love, he was responsible for the signing of Matt Monro to EMI just months before his recording of the song of the same title. In his autobiography All You Need Is Ears, George Martin wrote of having visited the Capitol Tower during the recording sessions for the Frank Sinatra album Come Fly with Me.
John Lennon famously said, “that without Elvis Presley there would have been no Beatles.” 25 years after Lennon’s death Presley would still be impacting on the Beatles. Paul McCartney had made a connection between popular Elvis Presley remixes and the Beatles back catalogue. A few years later, he was approached about doing a Fab Four-themed Cirque du Soleil production, which eventually became 2006’s Love. McCartney, says he jumped at the chance to oversee a series of remixes. Hand picking Beatles producer George Martin’s son Giles to do the work.
Whilst all-female rock bands during the 1960s were generally being ignored Goldie & The Gingerbreads were signed to Decca Records in 1963. The band consisted of Genya Ravan (vocals, percussion and sax), Ginger Bianco, (drums, percussion), Margo Lewis, (organ, keyboards) and Carol MacDonald, (guitar, background vocals). In the UK the band went on to tour with The Rolling Stones, The Animals, The Beatles, Manfred Mann, The Yardbirds, The Hollies and The Kinks. The band became resident in the UK for a 2 year period and through their hard work and determination managed to secure a minor hit in 1965 “Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat” that reached No. 25 on the singles charts. Although extensively touring North America the band failed to achieve similar success in the U.S. where they were generally viewed as a novelty. When “Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat” was released in the U.S. a recording of the same song by Herman’s Hermits was also released with great fanfare the impact of which fatally undermined the chances of them achieving a hit single in their native U.S. A lesser known fact is that Goldie of Goldie & The Gingerbreads (Genya Ravan) was the first person to record the song “Going Back” which was written in 1966 by Gerry Goffin and Carole King. Over the years “Going Back” has been recorded by many artists, although it’s the Dusty Springfield version most people take as the authentic benchmark.
The Goldie version, which was produced by Andrew Loog Oldham (manager and producer of the Rolling Stones 1963-1967) was withdrawn a week after its release following disagreements between Gerry Goffin and Carole King over lyrical content. To give the lyrics of the song more potency lead singer Genya Ravan, born Genyusha Zelkovicz April 19th, 1940 in Poland, arrived in the U.S. during 1947, accompanied by her parents and one sister. They were the only family members to survive the onslaught of Hitler’s Holocaust.