Organ Thing of The Day: Abbey Road? GUM? I must admit I had almost forgotten about GUM, A lot of what we’ve done over the last 35 years of Organ (actually it will be 35 years ago tomorrw since the very first handmade hand painted photocopied edition Organ went on sale), a lot of Organ came out of things that happened in Bangor and gigs at the Curved Lounge and tapes bough in that little cafe in upper Bangor that had such a good used record section. Bangor was all about people getting together, people showing you what could be done. art shows, gigs,, records, tapes, Everything was DIY in Bangor, artist-led, musician-led, we put our own gigs on, we put our own records out, not many big bands came to North Wales, and yes, even the football was DIY. Most of the time it was gigs on Colwyn Bay Pier for me but I did get invovled in putting gigs on in Bangor and that is where a lot of the early Organ ideas came from. Actually I grew up in Holyhead, going to art collage in Bangor felt like the big city on the mainland to me, loads going on in back rooms of pubs and such (who was the ominous Doctor Clip Clop? Taht tape is still in he box here). I left North Wales to go to London and art school in 1985 and in all honesty I haven’t been back since, but I did always have a bit of Bangor and the DIY attitude with me, I like to think I still do, that and the words of Peter Prendergast and the tapes, the tapes and the fact that you could really do it yourself were the thing, I still treasure the cassettes and this is being shared here this Friday because there’s a rather fine compilation album come out today via Bandcamp, do have a listen, there’s some good things on there, there’s always been good things happening in Bangor…. (sw)
We’ll hand over this page to John Dexter Jones, he can explain things (the album he’s talking about is down there at the foot of the page (actually we’ve stolen his words from socila media but I;m sure he doesn’t mind)
“Comradiation – Abbey Road (With a little help from our friends…)
Like so many of these things, it started with a beer and a quiet chat. It’s what happens when comrades, associate artists, real-life community football, and real-life musicians put their collective minds to something worthwhile; something good; something that counts. I can already hear you saying “what the feck is an ‘associate artist’?”…never mind that, it’s not important – in fact not a single contribution to this project is more or less important than another. That’s the whole point. It’s what those contributions can achieve that matters.
What if we asked a load of bands and singers and songwriters from Bangor to (literally) give us a song? What if they said yes, and sent us their recordings for nothing, and we put them together as a download album? What if people bought the download and we gave all the money to one of the most valuable resources our city possesses for the well-being of anyone struggling with mental-health problems? Somewhere where people can talk about it, take their time, look for reassurance or advice, feel that they can find a way to handle the difficulties – that they’re not on their own…
It’s called the Abbey Road Centre. It sits on the hill a stone’s throw from Farrar Road – that was where we all came together in the first place, where there was joy in spades around the perimeter of that tilted paradise. In a week where we were reminded that it has been ten years since the desperately sad and untimely passing of the great Gary Speed (and great is the right word), football fans across Wales have doubtless reflected on what ‘mental health’ means to them and their friends and family. No-one has all the answers, but anywhere that can offer a safe space to escape the isolation, to address the desperation, is deserving of every penny we can muster to sustain its work.
In 1982, the band I was in, White Summer, was invited to submit a track for a compilation cassette tape produced by the Gwynedd Union of Musicians (GUM). It was the days of ‘Upstairs at The Glan’, Jock running The Jazz Room, the days of Plas Coch, of The Vic and the Padarn Lake. Ghostriders, Offspring, Third Spain, The Pumps, Fay Ray (of course), Cut Tunes and so many more homegrown artists were our heroes, mentors and examples. We achieved what we considered to be immortality by rubbing shoulders with some of them on that cassette. We had arrived. Forty years ago, give or take.
Who on earth were GUM? Well, on reflection, it turns out they were people who gave a shit. Who cared about something. Much like CPD Bangor 1876 FC, they were invested in their community; in promoting the things that made (and make) a difference. The joy of music and its capacity to connect people is matched at our club by sport’s power to do the same.
In 1982, it never crossed my mind that one day I’d be a grey-haired old fella asking musicians to submit a track for a compilation album. Even more bizarre is that I’m still enough of a big kid and a dreamer to want to be on it. And I am. Somewhere on Comradiation, I’m there with the greatest musical influence on my career bar none – what a joy! But there’s another personal twist that makes me even more happy and proud. Me and Alan Holmes and Pete Jones are Craith, but the track that precedes ‘Sugar and Slate’ is by Tal Jones (or Charlie, as I know him). It’s called ‘All the Time’. What must it be like to have forty years of music ahead of you, instead of behind? He’s my youngest, you see. After we take our turn, you can hear the brilliance of Steve Eaves followed by Lleuwen Steffan…another parent and child succession. Imagine?
This Abbey Road is a compelling listen. It’s something to explore and take time to take in. This has been my story of it, but that’s just a bit-part of something much, much bigger. Each of the bands and artists may tell their own tale in time. Go and look for them. See what they’re doing, what they’ve done, where they came from and where they’re going. As you’d expect in our corner of North West Wales, there are songs in Welsh and English, songs that defy genre, songs that will make you smile and songs that will make you think.
For ten quid, you’re getting something very special, and you’re helping someone. Our aim is to spread the word and as The Skrits might say, we want sales to “MULTIPLY!” And one last thing. When you buy Abbey Road, make sure you listen to the very end…because that’s where Yr Anrhefn take it home”.