Tag Archives: The Dentists

Bob Collins and the Full Bob Collins

A couple of weeks back I popped round to Bob Collins’ house for what turned out to be a very long chat.

We started off talking about his top ten favourite Medway albums and then moved on to talk about his musical life and times, first with The Dentists, then Ascoyne D’Ascoynes, Fortune West right through to his own band, Bob Collins and the Full Nelson and, most recently, playing with Stuart Turner and the Flat Earth Society.

All the chat is available to view for the princely sum of absolutely nothing right here.

Bonus points to Bob for (a) referencing Half Man Half Biscuit (b) being very patient during some minor technical difficulties involving my camera.

A Medway Christmas Alphabet: The Full Story

A-Z

You can blame a chap called Philip Kane for this. Back on 1 December, he posted on Facebook the social media version of the old chain letter thing that went as follows:

“So the idea is to fill facebook with music, breaking the monotony of nasty, divisive headlines and images on our news feeds.

If you ‘like’ this post, you will be assigned a letter for a musician, band, artist, song, track or dj to post to your time line with this text”.

I liked it. He came back to me with the letter R. I came up with Rodrigo y Gabriela & C.U.B.A.’s ‘Santa Domingo’ – as you do – and before you know it I’d committed myself to the idea of stealing the whole concept and coming up with some music of Medway origin (or, if you will, MOMO) for each letter of the alphabet.

26 blogs later and I can finally move on with my life.

It has actually been fun – not least because there’s been the opportunity to focus on individual songs in a way you might not otherwise. Being an alphabetical list, there’s been less need to focus on continuity and history.

One day we’ve had a song by Balance Lost (a current band), the next we’ve had a song that’s had two outings: once in the early 1990s and then just a couple of years ago. Then, the day after that, we’ve had a song from 2010 which expresses its boredom with Medway bands from the 1980s.

It’s meant there’s been a wide variety of styles and sounds which all goes to show what an amazing melting pot of ideas this small collection of towns in the north of Kent is.

If you missed any of the blogs, not to worry: here they all are listed for your convenience – in alphabetical order, obviously.

A – The Singing Loins – ‘Alien’

B – Funke and the Two Tone Baby – ‘Bella’s Kiss’

C – Stuart Turner and the Flat Earth Society – ‘Call Me Dave’

D – Brigadier Ambrose – ‘Decembered’

E – Thee Headcoats – ‘Every Bit of Me’

F – Wheels – ‘Forget It’

G – The Dentists – ‘Gas’

H – Bob Collins and the Full Nelson – ‘Holy Man’

I -Theatre Royal – ‘I Believe in Father Christmas (Don’t Get Me Socks)’

J – Wolf’s Head and Vixen Morris – ‘Jump at the Sun’

K – Frau Pouch – ‘Krakthulu’

L – The Claim – ‘Losers Corner’

M – Broken Banjo – ‘Might As Well Be Hell’

N – Hand of Stabs – ‘The Night Had No Terror For Us’

O – The Daggermen – ‘One More Letter’

P – The Prisoners – ‘Pop Star Party’

Q – Wild Billy Childish and the Musicians of the British Empire – ‘A Quick One – Pete Townsend’s Christmas’

R – The Ambience – ‘Rome’

S – Balance Lost – ‘Shield Against the World’

T – The Kravin’ “A”s/Suzi Chunk – ‘Tripwire’

U – The Love Family – ‘Up in the Air’

V – The Flowing – ‘The Voyage’

W – Lupen Crook – ‘World’s End’

X – CTMF – ‘X-Craft on Tirpitz’

Y – Bear vs. Manero – ‘YRANYRBYM’

Z – KILL RPNZL – ‘Zombie Midwife Afterbirth Squad’

Find out more about many of these bands and artists – and many, many more, in my book: Do it Yourself: a History of Music in Medway.

A Medway Christmas Alphabet – the story so far

A-M
Tradition dictates that the lead up to Christmas comes with some form of countdown – or, strictly speaking, a countup – often involving chocolate.

Here at Reviewage Heights we don’t have any chocolate on offer (as I’ve eaten it all myself), but I can point you towards a song for every letter of the alphabet – with two to come of Christmas Day.

As we’ve reached the half way point – and you might have missed some on the way – here’s the songs that have featured from A to M.

These songs are in no way meant to represent a “best of” – although I would maintain they’re all pretty darned good. But hopefully they do give a broad overview of the wide range of music Medway has had to offer over the last few decades.

So, here we go:

A – The Singing Loins – ‘Alien’

B – Funke and Two Tone Baby – ‘Bella’s Kiss’

C – Stuart Turner and the Flat Earth Society – ‘Call Me Dave’

D – Brigadier Ambrose – ‘Decembered’

E – Thee Headcoats – ‘Every Bit of Me’

F – Wheels – ‘Forget It’

G – The Dentists – ‘Gas’

H – Bob Collins and the Full Nelson – ‘Holy Man’

I -Theatre Royal – ‘I Believe in Father Christmas (Don’t Get Me Socks)’

J – Wolf’s Head and Vixen Morris – ‘Jump at the Sun’

K – Frau Pouch – ‘Krakthulu’

L – The Claim – ‘Losers Corner’

M – Broken Banjo – ‘Might As Well Be Hell’

A Medway Christmas Alphabet: H is for ‘Holy Man’

‘Tis the festive season of advent calendars and countdowns to Christmas. To mark the occasion, what better way than to have a completely non-festive A-Z of Medway songs.

And so, with that in mind, let’s all listen to a song that takes a pop at men of the cloth…

Bob Collins and the Full Nelson - Telescopic Victory Kiss

It seems like only yesterday I was writing about Bob Collins’ contributions to a song about distancing yourself from someone else and moving on. And it seems like only yesterday that I was talking about how that particular guitarist had been part of a band – the Dentists – that celebrated living life in all its fullness.

Oh, wait…

Twenty – that’s twenty – years after the demise of The Dentists, the desire to move forward and an absolute repulsion at being held back remain massive themes for Bob Collins, now fronting Bob Collins and the Full Nelson. See, for a brilliant example, ‘Holy Man’, fresh from his newly released album, Telescopic Victory Kiss.

Collins may be a guitarist first and foremost – it’s no surprise that a guitar takes pride of place on the album cover – and the obvious standout moments on Telescopic…: ‘Sunshine of Your Soul’, ‘Emily’ or ‘Your Star is Fading’, for example, see the ex-Dentist on barnstorming form with his weapon of choice.

But his abilities as a lyricist and vocalist should never be underestimated – as can be proved with the album’s final song which strips everything back to its barest basics.

Just as ‘Beautiful Day’ from The Dentists’ album Heads and How to Read Them, documented exasperation with the imaginatively challenged (‘Only you will ever understand/only things that you can hold in both your hands’) , so too ‘Holy Man’ exposes the fraud of someone who claims to know better: ‘You don’t get just why I feel alive’ runs the song’s opening gambit.

Line by line, the song’s villain is taken down: a man who claims to represent something so big is shown to be staggeringly small: ‘no sign of joy, no trace of menace/paraphernalia – that’s all there is’ goes one particularly telling lyric.

Instead, our hero would prefer to go it alone – feeling alive and making decisions for himself.

It’s a beautiful song – a perfect album closer – and fantastic when performed live; it’ proved to be a highlight (for this writer at least) at the recent launch of Telescopic Victory Kiss.

Despite its sombre mood, despite the accusations and vilifications, ‘Holy Man’ is a fantastically optimistic song, celebrating the possibilities just being alive can present; a humanist’s hymn to human endeavour.

 

A Medway Christmas Alphabet: G is for ‘Gas’

‘Tis the festive season of advent calendars and countdowns to Christmas. To mark the occasion, what better way than to have a completely non-festive A-Z of Medway songs.

The Dentists - Behind the Door

In 1994, four shadowy looking figures gathered beside Kingsnorth Power Station wearing protective clothing and gas masks.

The Dentists were recording their only music video, ‘Gas’ from their album Behind the Door I Keep the Universe.

The director’s idea for the video ‘wasn’t amazingly brilliant,’ says the band’s bass player, Mark Matthews:

‘His main this was about people wandering around in their hometown in gas masks.’

Gas masks! ‘Gas’! Geddit?!

The song itself is absolutely nothing to do with an outbreak of chemical warfare in the north of Kent – which probably made Matthews’ task of ‘hanging upside down at bloody Kingsnorth Power Station at half seven in the morning [in the] freezing cold’ even more annoying.

‘This cannot be rock ‘n’ roll!’ he remembers thinking at the time.

Instead, what ‘Gas’ is about is the end of love. A couple have had a good time (“Hey, what a gas that was”), but there’s no future for the pair of them (“Things just seem so wrong/and that can never change” and “When you turn around/I can see such pain”).

Most other tracks on Behind the Door… are relentlessly upbeat and optimistic. Apart from their final album, Deep Six, where the cracks were beginning show, that was the way with much of The Dentists’ songs: a celebration of limitlessness, often using the vastness of space as an entirely appropriate metaphor.

Nevertheless, even on a song about the end of a relationship, The Dentists manage to put a positive spin on things in ‘Gas’. Mick Murphy may be singing about putting an end to a doomed relationship, but why should that stop the ex-couple from taking a step back and “harbour the thoughts as you go”, remembering all the good things they had: “stop and look/it’s out of this world” he sings at regular intervals.

And while the future is doomed for the couple, that doesn’t have to be the case for the individual components of the former pairing: “They world keeps spinning every day” so let’s just make the most of it is the clear message.

Just how much solace the dumpee can actually take from this remains an interesting, unanswered question – but it remains a particularly Dentist-y way of ending a relationship, complete with jangly guitars, driving drum beats and smooth, indie-pop vocals.

Marvellous stuff.

Find out more about The Dentists and plenty of other Medway bands and artists in my book, Do It Yourself: a History of Music in Medway.