Friday, 30 January 2009

A moment in history.

I write music reviews for a website called ‘Cross Rhythms’, which to be honest isn’t as exciting as it sounds. Sure I get sent loads of free CD’s, however the tendency is that if it is a good one I have to return it for the CR library.

The biggest drag with reviewing at this point in history is that Christian music on the whole tends to be going down the ‘Cold Play’, ‘Keane’ mellowed out, intellectual angst route. Whereas 20 years ago, if you were middle aged and middle class and wanting to show that you were ‘cool’ you listen to ‘Dire Straights’ (I know by which I speak, I used to run a Hi Fi shop and those persons that I described ALWAYS brought along their prized copy of ‘Brothers in Arms’ to demo their intended purchase.)

It got to the point that my staff began playing ‘The Wurzals’ over the shops music system as an act of rebellion.

Nowadays, it’s the day of the ‘Glastonbury’ headliners (stop me if you disagree).

The trouble is, the world and his wife are producing bands that sound just like they have finished having a full depressive breakdown. Hordes of corduroy wearing, unshaven, long haired college types, hammering away on their un distorted guitars and pub pianos about the bleakness of existence.

And I have to review it.

As somebody who absolutely refuses to slag off somebody else’s work, I try my very best to find something good and laudable to pen in each review. Believe you me I am getting very good at ‘creative’ writing. However, I am currently staring at two CD’s that without actually ‘lying’ could result in me hurting somebodies feelings.

So you can imagine my joy when a re-released classic fell on my doorstep and contained a bonus track recorded live at a gig I was actually at.

The album was ‘In another land’ and the artiste is ‘Larry Norman.

Now for those of you not in the know (which presumably are the majority of you) Larry Norman was the first Christian ‘Superstar’.

An American that started his career in the 60’s, Norman penned some classics that most church kids who owned a guitar in the 70’s cut their teeth on.

However, to that gig I mentioned.

Myself and my good friend ‘Bassbin’ travelled to a festival called Greenbelt in 1979 in Darren’s dark blue escort van (I only mention that van because I am sure it is going to feature in several other blogs in the future and so I thought I ought to take this opportunity to introduce it to you).

This was quite a moment for me as Bassbin has always declined to get involved in all things ‘God Bothering’ by nature and so to get him to come along with me to a ‘Christian Festival was a result.

Now it was a great festival and left a mark in history, and I promise I will give you a proper account of the weekend as there were some truly hilarious as well as revolting moments.

However, for this particular article there were two stand out moments. One was the realisation that when two blokes sleep in the back of a van, you need to keep the windows open just a tad….or you suffocate.

The other was the headline gig on the Saturday night.

The headliner was one Cliff Richard. Now I know that he has come in for a lot of stick over the years, but he is actually a very good performer and back in 1979 he was at his peak.

Half way through his set he introduced a singer from America and much to the delight of the 25,000 strong crowd, Larry Norman strolled onto stage, his long blond hair shining in the spot lights and blowing in the breeze.

They then launched into a song that Bassbin and I had been trying to perfect for years ‘The rock that doesn’t roll’…….pure rock & roll magic. The already over excited crowd went utterly bonkers, and it is a memory that stays with me today.

So as I said, I was delight at having to write a review for not only a classic album (his whole back catalogue is being re-released as Norman sadly died at an all too young age this time last year), but at finding that somebody had recorded that same song from 30 years ago, re-mastered it and here it was……..on my Hi fi.

Beats the heck out of ‘Dire Straights’ and ‘Cold Play’ I can tell you.

Altogether now!

“Well, it’s good for your body and it’s great for your soul, he’s the rock that doesn’t roll”.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

An ambition

This could be interesting.

One of the things that The Mudheads would like to do this year is go back into the studio and record something. This has been something I haven’t done since 1995 when Mudheads Monkey recorded Shout! an album that actually made money and sold surprisingly well in Norway.

Regular readers of this blog will recognise the producer of Shout! As Jez Coad, a long term friend of mine and now a well respected producer of named bands (he has just finished recording his second collaboration with Simple Minds).

As I thoroughly enjoy working with Jez and I firmly believe that he gets the best out of me, I approached him again to see if he could help The Mudheads record an EP (that’s an old fashioned term for you under 25’s meaning ‘extended play’…in English a CD with about four tracks on it).

Jez said that he would be delighted to work with us again and gave me some advice and suggestions to take back to the band.

The most exciting advice was that we should record the tracks at the Rockfield studio’s in Monmouth.

Now I am betting none of you have heard of that name before, however I am pretty sure that you would have heard of at least one song that was historically recorded there.

Does the name Bohemian Rhapsody mean any thing to any of you?

So there we go, excited or what!!

However, this is a big boy’s studio that charge big boy fees. Even with nice guy Jez pulling a few favours and strings, it could still cost a packet. More that three struggling gigging musicians from Bristol can afford that’s for pretty darn sure.

Or maybe not.

I shall keep you all up to date with developments.

Oh, incidentally, we have several other ambitions for the band this year….mine is to get Bassbin along to a gig……I however, I think that recording in one of Britain’s nay the worlds, most famous studios is going to be easier to pull off.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Where was Jeremy Clarkson when I needed him?

Even Rock God’s get the odd ‘mid life’ crisis to deal with…providing they are of the age to have a mid life crisis of course.

This particular insult has been heaped upon me by the individuals I call my family over the incident of ‘a new car’.

I have always had a hankering for a two seater sports car that has the capacity to go from nought to death in about three and half seconds.

This longing was first brought about by a teenage friend who had a Triumph Spitfire, and then compounded by my musical colleague Matt from Mudheads Monkey who had a Toyota MR2.

Please don’t be mislead by this gentle (slightly rotund) persona that I portray. I was brought up on motor bikes and I like speed, especially when I am dry and warm and I can crank the radio RIGHT up.

The current Rock God mode of transport is now, like its owner, showing the wear and tear signs of age and has a boot that leaks so badly that I have my own re-enactment of the Servern Bore taking place in my boot (trunk) on a daily basis.

The car is now so damp that I have ice on the inside of the windows and not on the outside where it is supposed to be.

With this in mind, I and ‘Mrs Rock God’ went for a little ‘look’ at some of the vehicles that might be available in my price range. And spurred on by wide reports that in light of the current ‘credit crunch’ dealers are practically ‘giving’ them away I was optimistic and enthusiastic.

Can I say right from the outset that the expression ‘practically giving them away’ is a steaming pile of poo….unless of course you feel that fifteen thousand quid is a snip. I however, who work for this countries fine health service, do not.

‘Giving it away’ in my estimation would constitute a fine and shiny new motor car given in exchange for a signed copy of my latest album and a bag of wine gums.

This however is not the case. The salesman require ‘mucho mulla’ in order to keep them in sharp suits and jangling bling and this one descended on myself and my wife with as much enthusiasm as a vulture from the Disney film ‘The Jungle Book’ with genuine promises to ‘be my friend’.

I knew it was a dead cause as I sat longingly behind the wheel of a Mazda MX 5 dreaming of the open road ‘poop poop’ and my wife went and made a beeline for a dramatically and painfully sensible people carrier type thing that had a terrifying air of ‘conservative family man’ about it.

My protestations of “What do I need something that big for” fell upon deaf and unsympathetic ears and the reply “what are you going to do with something as small as that”.

Now ignoring the obvious double entente of this remark, and before anybody else states the obvious, I defended my choice that I know longer required a vehicle that could transport ‘children’.

My wife is definitely not slow off of the remark retorted “Go on then, open the boot, where are you going to put your guitars then?”

Fearing the worse I nodded to the salesman to open said boot to reveal a space that would have been inadequate to transport your average sized lunch box let alone a couple of Takamine acoustic guitars.

As I desperately tried to find reasoned and acceptable ways to get around this problem, the salesman sadly shook his head as he witness the grumbling of yet another dream of the wide open road, top down, wind whipping through what is left of a greying head of hair.

I finally accepted my fate and that unlike Toad of Toad Hall, I would probably be better off with that flippin canary yellow cart and not the silver, slim line ego booster that I lusted after.

Does anybody know where I can buy horse feed… cheap!!

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Has anybody seen my spleen?

Well I survived the gig with most of my lungs intact…although I am suffering an almighty headache today…..and before you ask, no it was not self inflicted. They wheeled out a local cider at this place that bubbled…I thought it best to leave well alone and stick to that black sticky American soft drink that the police clean the blood off of the roads with.

We performed our best, although my singing voice wasn’t up to much (comments like “so what’s new” are not appreciated) and Aaron had to take over on several occasions when I doubled up with a hacking cough.

His concern really came from his experience of this particular virus with myself and his mother coughing so badly that we….well……without putting to fine a point on it…puked!

Now I know that the harder edge of Heavy Metal vomit on stage as part of the act. The keyboard player from ‘Cradle of Filth’ (a good Christian band much sought out for Sunday school parties) regularly vomited up a mixture of plum tomatoes and latex to particularly stunning effect.

However, the sight of a 40 something doubled up, cradling his acoustic guitar and hocking up his sticky toffee pudding and custard in a local public house would probably not be greatly appreciated by the management and punters alike and would probably guarantee a life time blockade on ever being asked to return.

Anyway, apart from having to recover my spleen from behind the bar where it had landed no great damage was done, apart from the irreparable beating my dignity took.

By the looks of it, 2009 will probably see the return of more acoustic style music to The Loader’s repertoire, especially as we do not have to cart about two and half tonne of equipment around with us. That is not to say that The Mudheads will in anyway slow down, but we are endeavouring to be more selective on the type of gigs we play.

On the journey home from the gig Aaron made an encouraging observation.

He works in a massive music store with lots of other musicians who apparently tend to give him a fair amount of stick for performing in a band with his old man.

His response to these ‘serious’ musicians is philosophical. He said that most of these guys spend most of their time ‘talking’ about music and dreaming of that big major record deal.

Aaron concedes that he does play in a band with his dad, but he is out there doing it and not just talking about it. He is also generally getting paid for it, which in his mind is a real bonus.

So on behalf of the ‘old farts’ in The Mudheads (which generally speaking means me)…and to quote The Who……”I hope that I die before I get (TOO) old”.

Rock & roll

Monday, 12 January 2009

Death of a folk singer

I really am not looking forward to this evening at all…..and considering it’s the very first gig of 2009 that’s a bit worrying.

The trouble is, my ‘man flu’ actually turned out to be the real McCoy…’proper flu’ and too be honest I feel like a great steaming pile of horse manure. (don’t worry a life time developing the art of grooming assures that I don’t have the perfume of said pile).

The gig in question is one of those ‘showcase’ thingys, which basically means that we perform for free in a venue that ‘might’ just book the artiste on a fee paying basis. Along with about five other acoustic wannabies.

This of course is spurious to say the least; however the promoter for the evening has become a good friend to The Mudheads and has been turning many a good paying gig our way. So it would seem churlish to refuse.

On this occasion Aaron & I will be performing as an acoustic duo (under the moniker, ‘The Loaders’) as this prevents CJ being dragged away from his family on yet another occasion for a half hour slot wedged between a gaggle of ‘Folkies’.

The quality of the average ‘folkie’ has dramatically improved over the past few years, and they no longer tend to sing about fairies and the bleakness of existence.

However, they still remain sensitive souls and generally refuse to go on to any stage after we have been on it.

The Mudheads as well as the Loaders have often been described as ‘A bunch of ruddy lunatics with more energy than sense’, a title we have become fiercely proud of. However, this honour has not been bestowed lightly and the reputation has been earned by screaming our heads off, thrashing around the stage, breaking things and for generally embarrassing ourselves.

The fate of some ‘sensitive soul’ lamenting ‘The Streets of London’ after we have stormed off following our much requested ‘heavy metal medley on acoustic guitars’ is not something many are prepared to tolerate.

With this in mind we normally get shoved on at the end of the night.

It is for ‘the big finish’ we are told.

Normally what it does mean is that the lights are going out and last orders are being called and two thirds of the audience has bogged off as they have to get up for work in the morning.

I put on my most pathetic ‘sick note’ voice to the promoter this afternoon and he has vowed to stick us on first.

We shall see, we shall see.

Either way… head pounding and my throat feeling like I have been gargling with light bulbs and chilli peppers as well has having the Chinese elephant of good fortune encamped on my chest….I think I am going to try and remember the words to ‘The Streets of London’

“Have you seen the old girl, who walks the streets of London, carrying her home, in two carrier bags.”

Friday, 2 January 2009

In the begining...there was rock!

My apologies for the lack of anything for a few weeks. As predicted, the minute all the gigs stopped I went down with a dose of man flu, that included a chest infection.

Anyway, in order to keep your interest I have included an article that I penned for Cross Rhythms about my first (and only) professional band, Amaziah.

It is a long read so peruse with coffee

Also, please be aware that it was written with a Christian readership in mind so there are a few references to 'God Bothering' included....but nothing too heavy so don't worry.

To those that have already this.....more will be submitted soon.


It was 1975, I was at the Hartcliffe School West Building school hall and I, a 14 year old boy, was about to witness my very first live concert. The band playing were Amaziah and they blew my mind! I can still vividly recall the shiver that ran down my spine as they hit that very first power chord. It was as if all at once they would lose control of the power that reverberated around the hall and chaos would sweep in. You must understand that I was a good Christian boy, brought up in the church, whose only experience of live music came from folk-gospel trios like The Outreach - nice young men with big acoustic guitars and even bigger moustaches. Amaziah were something different - a rock band, meaning electric everything and with a HUGE rock and roll drum kit. Add to that lights like you would not believe and loads and loads of volume and I was completely entranced. It ignited a spark in me that not only refused to go out but grew brighter and brighter. I wanted to play music like Amaziah, I wanted to be in a rock band. And so it came to pass that four years later I was the lead singer of that very same band. And we got one heck of a lot louder I can tell you!

The origins of Amaziah go back to the early 1970s. Astonishingly, in the light of the heavy metal band Amaziah were to become, they were originally a 13-piece choir with a seven-piece backing band. The original aggregation were originally formed to perform a musical penned by America's Jimmy and Carol Owens called 'Come Together' that was being performed at Bristol's Colston Hall and had originally featured as its narrator American Pat Boone (he had the whitest teeth I had ever seen up until the Osmonds'). Here in the UK, the Bristol 'Come Together' organisers had pulled in musicians and singers from all over the West Country. They put on quite an event. My own father, Graham Loader, took on Pat Boone's roll when the show went on a smaller West Country tour and many Christians were blessed and encouraged by a musical which though sounding rather quaint today was cutting edge for '70s church culture.

The musicians who performed at the Colston Hall had such a good time that they felt that they would like to carry on when 'Come Together' left town. With the name Amaziah they began to play occasional concerts. It must have been one heck of an entourage what with 13 singers, seven musicians (presumably dragging along other halves) and a full road crew, lighting engineers and sound guys! Even a non-mathematician could calculate that if each person connected to the band managed to bring just one other person to a gig, the venue would in all probability be full. Amaziah became well known in West Country church circles. With the size of the entourage it has hardly surprising that relationships developed beyond the musical ones. There was soon an Amaziah marriage (one of the choir married the rhythm guitarist) followed by the first Amaziah baby. The band even brought on board the services of Eric Cribb as band pastor to oversee the spiritual needs of this small community. However, Eric always had an eye for an opportunity and quickly took on the role of band manager and featured largely in the latter end of the band's history. Amaziah performed big production numbers, often written by keyboard player Andy Marshall, and because of the physical size of the ensemble, every gig was a major undertaking. The band's frontman and singer Derek Elliot had a very distinctive vocal that blended in beautifully with the other singers and gave an almost operatic quality to the shows.

Amaziah's huge personnel was never going to be viable for too long and by 1978 the choir had gone and Amaziah had become a six-piece. By the time I auditioned for the band as the bass player, only two of the original members remained; Derek Elliot on lead vocals and Richard Grinter on rhythm guitar. The other members had become decidedly younger! Jez Coad was a dynamic 18 year old guitarist with a love for classic rock. Dave Steel was an extremely talented and versatile keyboard player and Phil Williams a 16 year old drummer who was a real metal head despite his love for reggae. I had been invited to audition for the bass player's role despite having never played a bass guitar in my life although I insisted that I was a virtuoso. My first foray into Christian music was based on a blatant lie, I'm embarrassed to admit.

Unbeknown to me Dave Steel had heard of the name Loader before. More exactly he had heard that my father was a well known evangelist linked with the Brethren. So although he had never met me he assumed that I must be a straight haircut, corduroy trousered, sandal wearing preacher's kid and that I would in no way join a band that he was in. In fact he was so adamant that he threatened to quit if I got anywhere near his beloved band. Of course I turn up with long blond hair, torn jeans and a scruffy denim jacket and as far as Dave was concerned I was in, it didn't matter what my playing was like. Just as well really as I couldn't play to save my life. Jez, committed to having younger, scruffier members, volunteered to take me on and teach me what to play. Incidentally, Dave and I quickly became firm and loyal friends and remain so today. I had approximately one month to get up to speed, but what a fun month that was. We didn't do a fantastic number of gigs as that lineup, probably about half a dozen, but they were happy times. The four younger members lived almost permanently at Jez's parents' place as we practiced long into the night honing our craft.

In the summer of 1979 the decision was taken to record Amaziah's first (and only) album.

To produce it we got Keith Loring, a popular Christian singer/songwriter of the time. The band went into the studio in Bristol and recorded 'Straight Talker'. From my point of view the recording process wasn't the most interesting thing I had ever done. I wasn't the most dynamic of bass players in those days and I was the only member of the band who wasn't allowed to sing backing vocals (a strange decision considering I was the band's lead singer in a matter of months). This experience proved the quality of the band's musicians and that I was never going to be a recording artist. I got bored far too easily and I missed the buzz of the audience.

We did get a hint of the kudos a record can bring you when Phil Williams and I were sat in the huge crowd of the now iconic 1979 Greenbelt Festival, waiting for Sir Cliff of Richard to take to the stage. We were chatting to two guys from Manchester radio about the band that we played in and they quite clearly didn't believe a word we were saying. Then, what did they play over the stage PA, the last song before Cliff took to the stage? "He Is Lord, Pass It On", the final and my favourite track off 'Straight Talker'. We were beside ourselves with excitement. We were well on our way and we lay back and day dreamed that soon we would be playing that very same stage to THAT audience.

With the release of the self-financed 'Straight Talker' the younger members of the band began to get itchy feet and wanted to take
Amaziah to a new level. We wanted to go professional. This of course was always going to be impossible with the two older members of the band as they had families to support. Eric Cribb was by now in complete control of the band and was as ambitious as us kids, and with our support he took what I feel now (that I am older and wiser) was a rather harsh decision. We asked Richard and Derek to leave. The fact that they were two of the founding members was immaterial to us as we had mountains to climb and they would hold us back.

Thankfully, both these guys are gracious and wise men of God and today neither appear to hold a grudge towards us and I have performed with Richard on several occasions in the years since.
Anyway, the four of us were set to take on the Christian music scene by storm when a bitter blow was dealt us from which, in truth, the band never really recovered. Jez's parents had scrimped and saved in order to give their youngest son a decent education with the hope that he would go on to be a doctor. He had been offered a place in the London Hospital medical school, but had already taken a gap year. When he asked the college if he could have another year out they refused. He would have to start in September or lose his place. Jez was (and is) a dutiful son and was mindful of his parents wishes and decided that he ought to go to college as planned. I was devastated. Not only was Jez the musical backbone of
Amaziah and my mentor musically, he had also become one of my closest friends who I'd grown to love like a brother. Even before we had begun, our musical ambitions crumpled.

We took the decision to audition for a replacement guitarist and the advertisements were placed. We only auditioned one guitarist, a lovable Liverpudlian called Alan Tye. It was obvious right from the off that although he was an extremely good guitarist Alan's style (which by his own admission was from more of a jazz background) was incompatible with the kind of music that Amaziah was getting into (rrrooccckk!). However, Eric was now totally in control and we all did what we were told. We couldn't hang about any longer, so Alan was hired. It was a hard six months or so. Firstly we had to say goodbye to Jez having only played two gigs as a four piece, creating a quality of music that we were never able to reproduce again. Then we got into an endless round of touring around the country.

Our problem was, without Jez we had no idea how to produce ourselves and so it became more a matter of the strongest personality holding court musically. The end result was that you had four musicians almost playing as individuals. You also had to bear in mind that we were all teenagers and behaved that way. After about six months the tension within the band became tangible and it was decided that it would be better for all if Alan (who unfairly got the blame for the band's incoherence) left the band. This was quite a painful time as I know this must have hurt Alan badly, and it was never really his fault. At this point a "very" young guitarist was standing in the wings ready to step into the breach. He was Dave Steel's younger brother (one of twins) Kevin and he quite happily chucked his A-levels and ran off to join a rock and roll band. Musically we began to connect again and we really went for it. Kev was (and is) a consummate practical joker and no toilet seat was left unchecked before use and no bed thoroughly examined before climbing into it. Eric went totally up the wall on the eve of a major North UK tour when Kev arrived with his arm in plaster right up to his shoulder. It was of course a fake, but I think he must have taken several years off Eric's life at that point.

I think at this point I need to get back to the fact that Amaziah were from the beginning first and foremost a Christian band. Our raison d'ĂȘtre was to tell others about the Lord. Although I may look back over that year of professional touring and sometimes wince, I cannot deny that God can use even the most chipped and cracked of pots for his service. Over the years I have met people who were blessed, encouraged and even "saved" through the ministry of Amaziah. As the frontman I was called on at gigs to do "the preach". For me that was not a problem, I was the son of a superb preacher after all and preaching was something that came naturally to me. However, as a teenager I was still very much living in the benefit of my parent's faith and did not fully discover the full wonder of God's grace and love until my mid 20s. In truth, the same could very much be said for the other members of the band. All from Christian homes, all Christians, but all very much drawing on the resources of others.

Having said that, a few years back I met a vicar whilst preaching in a church service. He told me that as a young man he had responded to the message at an Amaziah gig, under "my" preaching, and now many years later was leading others to faith in Jesus Christ. Such an event helps combat some of the embarrassing memories of teenage boys in a rock band who were out to have fun and to rock and roll. I remember nearly being sent home from Ireland when we were more badly behaved that the Hells Angels that we had been booked to minister to. Muggins here ended up getting alcohol poisoning in Holland when I discovered the joys of brandy. What a complete twit!

As we did a heap of gigs we met many wonderful people who did their best to take us under their wings and help us achieve the job that the Lord had sent us out to do. These people included Ishmael, Steve Goddard, Writz, Mike Hook and The Foundation Family, Mike Wood (he wrote "Jesus Is The Saviour Whom I Love To Know"), Garth Hewitt, Rodney Cordner, Gary Gibb and many others. Sadly, even with the loving support and guidance of such people by the end of 1980 we had completely lost our direction. The power struggle between Eric and the band members was getting more difficult to handle, especially with even members of his own family telling us not to trust him. I was struggling with depression and panic attacks. And the four of us were tired of the gruelling rigours of life on the road and were just not enjoying each other's company any more.

We knew it was coming to an end when we bumped into a band called Liquid Gold in a Dutch railway station. They were at number one in Britain at that point in time with a single called "Dance Yourself Dizzy". They were tired, hungry, fed up and wanting to call it a day. and they were number one in the charts! We were about to spend weeks in Holland, and were tired, hungry, fed up and, despite our faith, at each other's throats. We knew the end was in sight. We threw a particularly arrogant adolescent strop and refused to play Greenbelt that year, despite being offered the headline spot in the Big Top, as we had not been given Mainstage. By October we had all had enough and the decision was taken to call it a day. We played one final gig in Bristol to a packed audience and that was it. The irony at the end was that they held an
Amaziah finishing party to mark the end of an era. and the four surviving band members weren't invited.
Looking back, was it all a disaster? Proof to those who insist that rock is the Devil's music and nothing good will ever come out of it? Not a bit of it. As I said, many people were introduced to Jesus Christ for the first time through Amaziah, despite our obvious failings. I thank the Lord for that. The Bible shows that he loves to use the unlikeliest of people for his glory and purposes.
For posterity we left behind one album. The Encyclopedia Of Christian Rock described us as "a hard rock British band featuring aggressive guitars and powerful synthesizers" while Jesus Music magazine called 'Straight Talker' "homemade, heavy, monster rock" though with the qualification that Derek Elliot's vocals were "an acquired taste." 'Straight Talker' was later remixed and reissued on red vinyl by a Canadian label, Tunesmith. It had a different lineup
Amaziah on the cover pic from the guys who played on the record. But that hasn't stopped collectors seeking it out. I last saw it going for £475 on eBay.

So where are the band members today? I can report that Derek Elliot has been involved in a variety of outreach ministries including managing Sal Solo and Bushbaby. He continues to be involved in the local churches in Somerset. Richard Grinter formed Alias who were an excellent Christian band. He now heads the Youth Alive worship band (part of the Audacious ministry in Bristol) and is regularly seen leading hundreds of Christian young people in worship. Jez Coad gave up medical school after a year of hard work realising that medicine was not for him. He is now a successful record producer and has co-written and produced albums for artists such as Simple Minds and Andrew Strong (The Commitments) as well as producing music for a string of TV shows and films, including Only Fools And Horses, Boon and Gone To The Dogs. We sadly lost touch with Alan Tye as well as Phil Williams (who was last seen touring the Middle East with former members of the '70s glam band Mud).

After Amaziah, Kev and Dave Steel and myself formed a band called Atak to continue our assault on the musical world. However, the inability to promote ourselves still dogged us and we split having only performed one short gig. Kev now is a leading light working for Roland. Dave and I continued to perform together in local churches for years afterwards, until I went off to Bible College and Dave started playing for the girl that was to become his wife. He is also one of the main worship musicians for Christchurch Clifton in Bristol.

Eric Cribb had the most memorable ending to it all. Having had his trustworthiness questioned by several people over our time together he went and did a Reggie Perrin and staged his own supposed suicide (made Crime Watch and everything). He had dumped his car, glasses, clothes, everything by the side of a busy river in Bristol and simply disappeared, leaving his wife and bankrupting his business partner. We all thought Eric was dead until he made contact with his mother many months later. Only the Lord knows where he is now. maybe even reading this article!
Me? Well, God gave me another chance and I formed Mudheads Monkey, a band I adored playing in and one that gave me the opportunity to share the love of a God that I had discovered in a very real and life changing way. Mudheads Monkey made one album that was produced by Jez, and I have to say that although it could have been better I am still very proud of it and it was reviewed very kindly on this very website.

I now lead worship in my local church and the Lord has really blessed me in that I reformed MHM about four years ago under the name The Mudheads (meaning village idiots) and the talented and dynamic lead guitarist is my own son, Aaron. How good is that? And in case you were thinking of emailing me, I DON'T have an attic full of mint copies of 'Straight Talker'!