Sunday, 23 March 2014

A Plethora of 'Tims'. Tim's 50th & Toronto Tim Says: Tom Hickox: War, Peace & Democracy

I hate Karaoke! 
I always resist the call at parties. 
I'm supposed to be a singer right?
I'm not really a 'singer' though am I?
I'm a songwriter who sings his own songs in the controlled environment of a studio... but...
"Come on Trev, show us how it's done!" comes the inevitable call.
You can't win, folk expect and, I suspect, secretly bate their breath in the hope of a car crash.
So, I always resist.
Except... last night it was my good mate Tim's 50th birthday.
He'd reformed his school punk band 'The X Men' especially for the occasion.
Tim, Tim, Stu and ringer, 'Plinky Plonky Paul'.
I somehow ended up playing keyboards on The Specials' 'Message to You Rudy' as 'Plinky Plonky ' needed to do that trombone bit. He did it very well, and I kind of bluffed my way through the song; there were only 3 chords and it was in the key of 'C'. No black notes to bother...
The X Men trundled splendidly through a zestful set with muscularity and no little affection for their beloved Sex Pistols, Damned, Vibrators et al. Great fun as these successful businessmen rolled up their sleeves, rolled back the years and rallied against Thatcher and 'the system'. Anarchy indeed! Tim sprayed out some fine riffs, gurning, grinning; garrulously shooting from the hip with his sunburst Les Paul. Drummer Tim (shipped in from Norway) thumped away with grey abandon, making an orgiastic, organic din with his rubber drums, whilst singer and bassist Stu came over like a holy union of Paul Simonon and Eric Morcambe as he spread his legs wide and formed a solid foundation in that bopping basement, playing all the right notes but not necessarily in the right order. The high spot was a gusty, gutsy encore of The Stranglers' 'No More Heroes', which they grabbed by the throat and dutifully... strangled; 'Plinky Plonky's' airy arpeggios adding an oddly lofty musicality to the dynamic dirge. 
It's lovely to glimpse old firm friends re-engaging with the folk and folly they'd forgotten they loved. 
I think we'll call it 'Joy!
I'd have them at The Hat Club but I fear that we'd have to sand bag the place to protect us from the neighbors....

Next up was the dreaded Karaoke.
Tim dragged his lovely wife Donna on stage and they sweetly mugged their way through 'You're the One that I Want'; charming as John and Olivia. 
Then came the call. 
I resisted as best I could but... Tim presented me with a lyric sheet for The Kinks' 'Lola' in an unfeasible font with tiny unreadable text and... we were off. 
I thought I knew the song. 
Do you? 
Go on, give us the lyric then? 
Not so easily rendered or remembered eh? 
"I met her in a club down in old Soho..." and then, nothing. 
A blank. 
So I let Tim lead and decided that I'd just 'guest star' and flesh out the chorus. 
But could I spell 'Lola'? 
Could I buggery! 
It's L  O  L  A
LOLA! right? 
I did 'lilo'. 'Loulou', 'lala'. 
Anything but 'Lola'. 
Tim then suggested 'Waterloo Sunset'.
'Dirty old river...' and then... nothing; a blank.
Tim avoided eye contact and pulled the plug.
I shuffled off stage to tumbleweed and bewildered whisperings from a nonplussed audience. 
Not for the first time, but definitely the last. 
Di took my hand and sympathetically whispered "you were rubbish!"
She did however profess the X Men as 'brilliant'.
Here are some clips of the band's performance. 
Something for you to rate her judgement of me by...

Meanwhile, this just in from our tertiary Tim; Toronto Tim who has just resurfaced from a 6 month sojourn in Florida.
Hi Trev, 

You're aware that I've been in the wasteland regarding new music for a few months. 
Trawling now and finding a few gems...
Your blog thing seems to be a bit sporadic these days... I'm sure you're exhausted after giving birth to another album; as well as dealing with neurotic Mom's...
Anyway, if you find the time or inclination I've cobbled together a minor entry for the blog if you deem it worthy. Please edit to your liking...


Only released last week, so I must confess that I've just ordered the actual CD. However, based on the couple of lovely tunes that I've been able to sample, Hickox's album appears more than worthy of purchase. 

First off, don't be led astray by the album title. It's not folkie political protest songs. No, this is mostly lush, piano-based orchestral music, wed to nuanced poetic imagery and sung in a husky North-London baritone in the vein of Nick Cave, Richard Hawley, Scott Walker & Leonard Cohen. There are a few modern touches added to the production... tasteful pedal steel and echoes of Brian Eno-style atmospherics. Hickox also bears a refined pedigree, son of the late Richard Hickox CBE, one of Britains most renowned conductors. He's also a very snappy dresser...

This is an ambitious, meticulous and imaginative debut, with smart storytelling that demands repeated listening. As Hickox himself says, “I am a great believer in the listener finding their own way. I have failed as a writer if there’s only one interpretation of the lyrics.” 
He's certainly a young artist to watch...

"Pretty Bride Of Russia" already rates as my favorite song of 2014 (thus far). Hickox sings from the perspective of a naive young girl looking to go to London: “I’ll learn to act and sing and make my father proud.”  Absolutely gorgeous...

"Angel Of The North" appears to be the "single" release, accompanied by an artsy video...
I don't expect to see it on MTV I'm afraid to say...

"Let Me Be Your Lover" is a "love song" featuring somber, moving lyrics very unlikely to make the pop charts: “Let us share a tombstone in a graveyard by the sea/ then let us hear the crushing in immortality/ let me be your lover, let me be your friend/ let me be beside you whenever it’s the… end.” 


Visit Tom Hickox's website here:


  1. Thanks for drawing my attention to this. Love it!
    Tel Aviv

  2. Yep, I've ordered this album. And Trevor, don't rule out live performance totally. There's always a place for a great singer songwriter and by God, you're a better singer the Bob Dylan will ever be. So it's time to dust off that acoustic and get some petrol in the car :)

    1. You never know Nick.
      I like the sound of Hickcox, although my idle eye told me that Boris Johnson had made an album. Ordered and awaiting... Thanks TT!

  3. C'mon kid, Ya got knocked down, but you gotta get up again; get back in that ring one more time. Song selection the key. Uptempo Kinks tough for a karaoke novice... I'm sure if they'd cued up a soppy ballad where you could show off your croon, you'd have 'em weeping. I know how much you love "Lady in Red"...

  4. Ha! It wasn't my singing Tim; I didn't get that far... it was my spelling!

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