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OOTB 191 – 24 Nov 2005

Chris Brown, Jill Hepburn, Airfix, Emily Scott, Davy Watson, Danny Gyle, Cosmic Stu

SURVIVING the threat of a life-time ban from The Waverley intrepid reporter Jill Hepburn (that’s me) got on with the job of upholding the values of a free press to bring to you, the people, news of exactly what is going on behind the edge of the wee red square.

First to bravely venture into dingy red carpet territory was Regimental Sergeant Major Chris Brown, who had thoroughly inspected the line-up beforehand and assured us that, to a man, they were all up to the job.

Presenting a trio of songs (Juniper Green, Dragon and Shop) which were all new to me, he displayed his talent for mixing social observation with catchy/infectious melody. Although he often chooses quite serious! subjects he avoids sounding overly earnest, managing to hook the listener into his viewpoint. His stuff is always tight, to the point, and perfectly melodic – a great song craftsman with a great sense of discipline – and that can save lives out here.

Next your correspondent went over the line, to find out, first hand, just what is like in that murky territory. It was hell in there, but thankfully, Sgt Brown had these words of encouragement which I managed to decipher from a code he had managed to transmit.

Why Stop At The Moon
Jill starts by taking us into the solar system, taking a trip past stars and planets. Great lyrics in this song set to a fab dream-like tune, beckoning us to dream again.
The Silver Casket
This song had some great story-telling, a more melancholic tune and certainly one to draw us in.
Groovy Enough For Two
Changing gears int the groovy tune which is Jill’s best know song, it’s a great one to sing, or even whistle, along to, really catchy with loads of hooks.

AIRFIX were next to move into the zone and the trio worked well as a team, of course out here your survival depends on it. They always have just the right degree of poppiness, and their first song Just For Me had the great line: “I know the day you’ve had and I know your heels hurt bad.” A sign perhaps that despite the current conflict these very important women’s’ issues haven’t been forgotten. Great vocal harmonies too which are always used sparingly but effectively. In fact everything is very understated and cool about AIRFIX, and there’s a touch of Aztec Camera/Prefab Sprout about them. And that can’t be bad. Keep up to date with their operations at www.air-fix.co.uk

Next I was very nearly blown away (though, for the second time in my ill-fated quest for the truth I managed to avoid serious wounding) by Captain Emily who led the naval contribution to the maneuver – although she insisted: “This is not a sea shanty.” No doubt her reticence was a move to protect national intelligence. Loose lips sink ships after all. I’d only seen Emily perform once before and once again I was struck, not just by her classy voice and sharp lyrics, but her very arresting delivery. She is so matter of fact I don’t think I’ve seen anyone who puts across a song in quite the same way. An outstanding performance and I was green with envy – especially when, chatting to her later, she told me she’d only been writing for about a year.

Well, there was tension in the air and the troops who had thus far been kept away from the action were eager to get out there and do battle. It was at this point that young maverick Davy Watson was called to the front line and arrived promising “a bit of improvisation.” Always a bit if a risk in these kinds of situations but, lucky for him, his opportunism paid off. Starting off by putting a new spin on one of his 12-year-old songs, Davy gave a very animated performance, and both his singing and guitar style were loud, passionate and solid. There was more intensity with My Heart Is Burning and the third was a “work in progress”, a brilliant, innovative and thought-provoking number which asserts that “hell is in your head,” but works itself to a great, and much more uplifting resolution.

The mood among the men was high, so thank God the morale-boosting visit from Geri Halliwell was cancelled and the order came that it was time for Lieutenant Danny Gyle to advance.  Danny launched a furious attack on the guitar creating what I can only describe as a weird and fascinating sort of tumbling noise. He certainly has a style all of his own and the song was very suitably called Different Dimensions. I’d wondered why he was changing from his boots into sandals beforehand – a tactic to divert the enemy perhaps? But then it all became clear when he carefully placed an egg shaker between his toes. I kid you not. His next one Whiskey Blues was a great feel good number. “I drink tequila, vodka and gin, I drink just about any damn thing.”  But of course it’s always the whiskey that gets him. In Rhythms of The World I was amazed to see Danny plucking with his left, or fretting hand, while keeping a steady strum with his right. A mesmerizing number greeted with howls of appreciation.

Victory was in sight as Cosmic Stu went beyond the call of duty to bring us a clutch of rather hippy dippy songs (though in a good way) reminding me a wee bit of Cat Stevens. My Morning Rainbow had a simple feel which created a nice warm atmosphere. “Per chance I could fly into the rainbow,” and “With the wind at my back spiriting me,” were just two of the dreamy lines which gave me a lift. The Holly Tree had some great lyrics and Stu certainly has a great gift for storytelling, reminding us that a lot of the “hassles” of modern life are pretty irrelevant and that it’s the simple things that matter.

It seemed that peace was within reach when frustratingly the call came to tell me I was being taken off the job. So, robbed of my moment of glory, I handed on reporting duties and wondered what hell lay in store for me next.

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