Steve Brookstein has given yet another interview this time to the Star. I mentioned  Steve’s habit of giving the wrong kind of interviews in my blog a while back but he obviously does not read it…….It ( the Star article) is  a short and badly edited thing which serves no purpose other than to  remind everyone yet again that Steve is an X Factor has-been. Personally I don’t think he is a has-been or anything like it but interviews like this just make Brookstein come across as some kind of celebrity freak. It’s bad enough that he keeps giving these interviews but the only reason I heard about it in the first place  is that he’s tweeting about it  on  his Twitter page.

    And just in case you didn’t know it…..Rowetta has been sending him nasty messages..!!!!! Of course the only reason I know this is that he also mentions this on his Twitter page. I don’t understand all this….Brookstein seems intent  on perpetuating this image of himself  as some kind of odd ball or malcontent…..or something.  The man is incorrigible ….I think his fans may have to take a contract out on him to save him from himself. Just a few weeks ago he was in trouble for something he said about the Jedward twins on his Twitter page. Now that a new season of the X Factor is due to hit our screens there will be no stopping the man….

     Mind you , he seems happy enough – and none of us are perfect……But happiness is a transitory thing.  A man might smile today and cry tomorrow. He’s married to the jazz singer Eileen Hunter and has a son ……but one of these days he’ll mention the name Simon Cowell once too often and  she’ll  stand up , give him a venomous glare and say , ” Right ! , Right I have enough……” . She’ll kick the dog , grab the child , slam the door and go to her sisters …… Steve will be left , on his own looking at the walls wondering where it all went wrong – asking himself over and over , ” Was it something I said “?  He’ll sit there all alone wondering what to do. He’ll wear the carpet out and give himself a headache going over and over those  last few  fateful  moments  — …….he may even shed a tear or two. He’s not made of stone after all. He might  take to the drink ! But whatever happens he will cope after a fashion as we all do. Life will go on as it does……He will , in the fullness of time , pull himself together ……

       ………..and taking the bull by the horns he will do what he does best . He’ll go out and give another  interview. Oh yes I can see it all. But God help us it might even be worse than that. She may not leave him at all , instead she might be driven to murder…….She might end up standing  in the dock , throwing  herself at the mercy of the court while child services drag the poor child to the orphanage….I can see it all….. The papers of course will have a field day and Steve ( good old Steve) will give a few more interviews. Like I said I can see it all.

    Life is funny. One thing follows another and before we know where we are we’re lying on our backs wondering  where it all went wrong. We all lose in the end. Happiness comes and happiness goes. Time passes. Sometimes we learn from life and sometimes we don’t and sometimes it doesn’t matter either way. Some take the high road and some take the low road…..and others get lost along the way. ( I should have been a philosopher).  Little is constant in this life. There are no guarantees. We can be sure of nothing. We cannot tell the future but the future will happen and somewhere in that future there there will be many more Steve Brookstein interviews. He’ll probably  give an interview on his death-bed.

      Steve is being air brushed out of X Factor history though they claim it’s just a technical issue. No doubt he will explain it all to us in some forthcoming interview ( he he he). HIs activity on Twitter is causing quite a stir but to be honest I find it very hard to figure out the whole twitter thing. All those private/public conversations where everyone seems to know what’s going on except me……But by all accounts there’s great fights going on over there. ‘Better than East Enders so they say. Beer bottles and curses flying all over the place.  Great fodder for the tabloids. A bitter old man , that’s what some are calling him. But Steve knows how to handle such people……and we can all follow the drama on Twitter. It’s great , isn’t it. Where would you get it ? – there are  people out there who would pay good money for a ringside seat to all this but they’re getting it all for  free on Twitter……”You tell ‘em Steve , tell them all to go and have a good f***…..we’ll shout support from the cheap seats. ” Kick their heads in Steve” , “Rip their hearts out” , “yeah , you show ‘em Steve”.

               Mind you , I’ve got no interest in such venial stuff …..I’m just remarking on the state of the world , Steve Brookstein’s  world that is. Personally I find it all a little uncouth. I have to practically force myself to check his Twitter page. And all this is taking its toll - I’m an emotional wreck ……I might end up back on the Valium. But does Steve care about any of this ? Not on your proverbial Nelly. Is he worried about me and my palpitations ? Not a bit of it. Meanwhile here I am sitting in my gloomy little flat listening to , “40,000 things’  —” It’s all turned out nice again just the way we planned  / it’s all  good / it worked out in the end” — Indeed !  But who am I to decide what’s  the right and wrong in all of this. I am , as they say, a person of no consequence. Some regard me as no better than a common fool but most are indifferent to any opinion I might have about anything. Oh yes , it’s a hard life. I would give a few interviews myself if anyone asked …..but no one is asking. Oh dear , oh dear. Where did I go wrong ?

 

    Just a few hours ago I put up a post about Steve Brookstein  of X Factor fame/infamy.  Having nothing to do I then decided to check if there was anything on his Twitter page. Just killing time ….’you know. Anyway , what did I see but a tweet from Simon Cowell. Well , it was from SimonPCowell and it looked real enought. It was  actually on Steve Brookstein’s page , I think , I’m not very literate when it comes to the new communications stuff. What the tweet said was that Brookstein wanted the 5000,000 that Cowell owed him or it might have been that  Simon Cowell  wanted the 500,000 sterling that Brookstein ‘owed’ him – I’m not sure. Is this stuff real ?

     I don’t use Twitter. I leave a tweet most times I post something on my blog but apart from that I just don’t GET the whole thing and don’t quite see the point. But I do wonder if all these people are who they say they are. I try now and again to follow some of the conversations but the text like short hand gets me quite confused – mind you , I’m easily confused. Now , let me think – is there anyone out there who ‘owes’ me a few quid….

 

     Steve Brookstein is now officially a failure. But Brookstein is no common failure , he is a total failure. He’s famous for it. He’s turned failure into an art form. Brookstein ( better know as , “Steve who?)  has failed at just about everything he has put his hand to. Long before we knew there was an X Factor Brookstein was failing. If they gave PHD’s in failure  he’d be the best educated man in Britain. Brookstein , who has been described by Louis Walsh as , ‘ looking like a serial killer’ must , at some time in the past , have committed some terrible crime for which God is now punishing him.”” Mr Slick Vegas” , that’s what Sharon Osbourne called him. He’s made enemies , and who needs enemies ?. – not Brookstein for sure , he’s got enough troubles.

     Brookstein’s  long journey towards failure started well before 2004 when he won first place in the X Factor. It’s a long  convoluted story half shrouded in myth and bordering on the absurd. At one point a producer friend of his decided to make a Northern Soul record – and why ? Well he did it just to prove it could still be done. Most people do it for the money but not this guy , HE was just  trying to make a point. …..’getting confused ? Don’t let it bother you , I think Steve himself is still trying to figure it out. Let me explain……

     The guy , this producer guy ( I can’t remember his name and I’m too lazy to start googling it just now) was, it seems ,a great Northern Soul fan. N.S. fan’s are  for the most part sad little people who think that it all began and ended with  the golden age of Northern Soul. That age is ended , they will tell you. Elvis is Dead and all that. It’s not that they don’t make records like that any more – they CAN’T make records like that any more. The book is closed , the seals have been sealed …..end of story. So far so good  untill that is Steve’s producer friend  comes along. He was a genuine lover of Northern Soul , a democratic sort of man who just loved the music and was not intimidated by the legend. He had been arguing for years that yes , yes you could have a NS record today and that it would be just  as ‘real’ as ‘valid’ as anything from the golden age , provided the music was good. Like I say , a true democrat. So one day he’s sitting at home watching TV and who’s on the box but our Steve. He hears Steve singing and thinks , “This guy would make a great Norther Soul singer”. To make a long story short he  gets Steve into the studio with a few backing singers , records a few track and calls the four man group The Four Vandals. They cut a 45 record and just to make it really ‘authentic’ they dated it 1971 and then aged the few copies (3)  that were pressed so that the whole thing looked like a genuine old 70′s record. Part of the ageing process was to drop the disc in a bucket of water…….

  By the way , I’m not making this up as I go along , you can check it all out yourself on the WWW. So , here’s this genuine fake and it’s put in the way of a few DJ’s and next thing it becomes a hit on the Norther Soul circuit. Everyone is raving about it. Urban legends start to form around the lead singer (Brookstein).  The 45 meanwhile is taking on cult status and starts making it on to the collectors list and before you can say , ‘Life  is a bitch’ it’s selling for big bucks.  Really BIG bucks. Steve is becoming famous in record circles but nobody knows it’s Steve. Norther Soul fanatics are mortgaging their homes to get their hands on a copy. This is record collector history in the making. But like I said , nobody knows it’s Steve and he’s not making a penny……His producer friend is happy , he’s proved everyone wrong but he can’t tell anyone. Meanwhile ……back on planet earth Steve makes a decision…….

     He decided to audition for the X Factor. Unfortunately he wins so the whole story of the Four Vandals comes out and there are a lots of angry people who feel they have been had/conned and generally made to look like fools. Steve becomes famous as a fraud or worse still a dupe. While the vinyl experts of the world are trying to figure out what’s going on Steve decides he’s not going to sell his soul with another covers album for  Simon Cowell so he becomes famous all over again as the man who walked away or was sacked by Cowell. He becomes , for all practical purposes , blacklisted. There’s no actual conspiracy , Cowell doesn’t start calling people and saying , “Don’t deal with Brookstein” he doesn’t have to. Nobody wants to rock Cowells boat and the rest of the gang don’t trust Brookstein …they’re  not sure if he’s a fool or a bad guy and they don’t want to find out either.

   Long , long before any of this happened Brookstein had actually made a  record which got good reviews but the record was never released. (he’s actually made several record )  He also promoted/managed or produced two acts and even got them record contracts with , I think , Virgin and some other major label. There was a trip to the USA and a 1 million pound/dollar contract for one of the acts but after spending a fortune the  acts were dropped. It goes on an on. There’s no end to it. I’ve only scratched the surface here but take it from me , when it come to Steve Brookstein , the truth is far weirder than the strangest of strange  fiction. Brookstein is in a lose , lose situation. He’s become famous for being a failure – his last gig  was a pub gig with a cover charge that wouldn’t buy a diet coke. In between songs he apparently spent  much of the time rambling on about Simon Cowell….punters were wondering if they were witnessing a nervous breakdown live on stage. As one girl put it , ‘It was all very sad’. Like  I’ve said , he’s in a lose  ,lose situation. He’s so famous now as a failure that  even a hint of  success would ruin him. The whole thing is a joke. Brookstein is a joke. It’s all hysterically funny……

   But the funniest bit of all is that Steve Brookstein is actually a very fine soul singer. He has a distinctive voice that many singers would be quite  envious of. He’s good-looking in a ,’ I used to drink but now I’m sober ‘, kind of way and has a cheeky chap grin that you love or hate but that you can’t really ignore. He has the good grace and intelligence to be able to laugh at some of the insanity of what he calls his life. He thinks/ knows that he’s good at what he does but understands that others might have a different point of view and is philosophical about it. He’s a good entertainer. He probably has more charisma and raw talent in his little finger than will ever emerge from the X Factor Hall of Fame. Above all Steve Brookstein is an interesting man. While some get paid to bawl out , “I did it my way” Steve has been busy actually doing it his way. He has recorded his own independent album , ’40,000 Things’ , which , while not THE  great classic soul album does suggests that the classic album might not be too far down the line. He’s recorded bit’s and pieces in an anarchic fashion over the years and all of it is good , some very good indeed. He’s written/co written what I for one consider to be classic tracks ( a couple of which are on 40.000 Things). All things considered , in spite of all the failures , Brookstein might just be the best soul singer to come out of England. He’ll probably never sell  the mega / platinum numbers that  are obligatory today for anyone who want’s to be a star but what he does produce will certainly last a lot  longer. Ironically , he is a legend and a failure at the same time.

          Sometimes , just sometimes when I’m on YouTube and come across Steve Brookstein I find myself wondering what is it that keeps drawing me back to these video clips ….even the X Factor one’s. There’s  something about Brookstein , no matter how much I read of flops and failures, in spite of a paucity of albums or anything tangible  by the man. In spite of it all I just keep feeling that this man might just be special. But I can’t figure him out……He bloggs , nothing wrong with that , he twitters/tweets  too (quite a lot in fact) but no harm in that either. When he’s not on the internet he’s giving interviews , most of which reinforce the failure image…..he’s a busy man and seems easily distracted. He recently completed work on his wife’s album.  He has a fixation with Cowell and the X Factor , even his tweets are dominated by it. He seems to spend his life having public conversations that all end up with the big X. He’s obviously has never heard the old adage about holes and diggingIf news is slow and your short of copy don’t worry , old Brookstein is always good for a few column inches…He has some  sort of amnesia where the word NO is concerned. Maybe it’s a religious thing.   He needs a minder – as Simon said , ‘Your going to need a lot of work Steve’. He had no idea just how right he was but neither did Steve. Steve Brookstein would be doing just fine if it wasn’t for Steve Brookstein. And all the time time is moving on. He’s now 40  and according to himself he may have wasted 20 years of that. The butt end of jokes (Steve who?) ha ha ha he just smiles that cheeky smile and then gives another interview. But the joke is wearing thin. He’s turning into a parody of  the failed reality star.

     I like the old stuff , the good stuff. Charlie Parket , Ellington , Ella Fitzgerald – the classics. They don’t make artists like that any more with the possible exception of Amy Winehouse and Steve Brookstein but both of those seem hell bent on messing things up.  He is seen by many as ‘a pub singer who got lucky’ but anyone who thinks that is a musical illiterate. He is his own worst enemy but I can think of a few of the greats who were much the same. A complex man , an insecure man who seems forever to be trying explain himself. Yesterday’s man who somewhere deep down knows he’s better than that but isn’t quite sure what to do about it. You could write a book about this man and some day someone probably will…..

               A failure ? Yes , and let’s not get side tracked by empty politeness …..this is not what  the man was  aiming for when he first wrapped his fist around a microphone. He looks startled , uncertain when under the spotlite. He seems a little surprise to be there in the first place. An innocent abroad.  He always wanted to be on the stage , “Look at me Ma , I’m top of the world“.  – Ladies and gentleman , put you hands together. Ladies and gentlemen , let’s give him a warm welcome. Ladies and gentlemen , it’s …….MRRRR STEEEEEEVE BROOKSTEEEEEENNNNN.

   If you want to see just how charming this man can be check out this interview he did with Paul Morley. If you should happen to meet him in the street give him a good clip around the ear and tell him to get back in the studio. He’s made a bit of money (more than I’ve ever made) and he’s done some interesting things ( far more than I’ve done).  He’s had his 5 minutes of fame (several times). He’s has achieved more than many of his critics will ever achieve. He’s lived his dream which is something most of us just don’t have the wit , courage or ability to do. Let’s face it , the guy has been on the X Factor……!  He is probably the best soul singer since Otis Redding and might be even better. But I can’t go into HMV and order his new cd because he hasn’t got around to recording it yet. Yesterday I bought an Amy Winehouse Blu Ray disc and would have bought the Steve Brookstein one but there IS no Brookstein Blu Ray disc. I would kill to get a copy of his Collected Songs but that  doesn’t exist either.  I’d crawl over dead bodies to lay my hands on a copy of his Unreleased Outtakes but there’s no such album.  Meanwhile he’s off giving another interview about his life as a ( failed) reality star. As we say in Ireland , ” Your a terrible man Steve  “. If it wasn’t for the fact that he’s bigger than me and living in another country I would give him a good wallop around the ear myself.

       This LP was originally released on the Tempo Label. This then is a reissue on the Ember Label. There is no date on this reissue but it would have been pressed within a few years of the original probably in the late sixties. I picked this up on Ebay just a few weeks ago but I have forgotten what I paid for it (I buy a lot of LP’s) but I’m sure I handed out a little over 100 euros.
      The music is not quite typical of Hayes. It’s not driving heavy jazz or anything like that.  It’s the sort of music you might have heard on the soundtrack of many British kitchen sink movies of the sixties. If you were not a fan you might brush it aside as library music. All the tracks are arranged by Tony Crombie and as far as I can remember about half are written by him also. The line up is….Tony Crombie , Tubby Hayes , Alan Branscombe and Jack Fallon.
     The music is ‘tight’ and very sixties and distinctly British and as I’ve said it’s not unlike British film music of the period….but it’s quality stuff and if you like classic ‘modern’ jazz you will love this. It’s the sort of album that will grow on you. You might feel it’s rather conservative for sixties jazz and that it’s not particularly exciting but you will find yourself putting it on the turntable more and more…..just to try to make up you mind if you like it or not…and it will grow on you in spite of it not being ‘progressive’……

Check out my other posts on Vinyl HERE.

tubby-hayes.jpg

       I got this Tubby Hayes vinyl album from Ebay today. It cost me a little over 100 euros but when I took it out of the sleeve to check it I felt like killing the guy who sold it to me. Like many of the LPs that I get from Ebay it was in pretty bad condition. Apart from a liberal sprinkling of scratches it also had the track-marks of several bad needles on it.
     I suppose that 3 out of every 4 LPs that I get on Ebay go straight into the bin , which means that in real terms those albums that I actually keep are costing me about three times what I paid for them…if you get my drift. If , like me your buying 5 or 6 albums a week this can involved throwing a hell of a lot of money into the bin…..
……..so let the buyer beware…..

      The album shown above is quite rare so it’s nice to have a copy in any condition. In fact if someone were to offer me twice what I paid for it I would turn them down , but still ….it’s in dreadful condition….The other side of the coin however is that without Ebay the chances are that I would never have come across a copy in the first place. British jazz of the Hayes period is a specialised maket and a small one at that and the print run for these LPs would have been very small.

  One small point while I’m here….This LP would have a catalogue price of something in the region of 25 euros but to buy a mint copy on Ebay you would have to bid up to 500 euros or even more so don’t put too much reliance on the Record Collector Price Guide. It is , as the title says a guide only…..

The Couriers of Jazz London LTZ -L 15188

PS: If anyone out there has LPs like this to sell please let me know.

Today a copy of Wynton Kelly’s album “Great” arrived in the post. I got it on Ebay and it’s yet another wonderful piece of jazz vinyl for my collection. For some reason or other his name is misspelled as “Kelley”. This is a UK pressing on the Top Rank label. It features , among others , Lee Morgan and Wayne Shorter. It’s a good but rather bland album which does not stand out from the crowd in any way. Morgan is his usual self here and what little merit the album has is due to his presence.

I also picked up a copy of Charlie Parker , “….’plays Cole Porter”(Colombia Clef Series 33cx 10090) which reminded my of his Dial recordings. More MOR than hard bop it’s nevertheless an excellent record.

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Noel Kelehan , self taught as a composer and arranger, received a classical training in piano theory and harmony. In 1962 he worked with Louis Stewart and bassist Jimmy Mckay. He has a special affection for the great Miles Davis quintet of the fifties. Mike Nolan (trumpet and flugelhorn) has worked in Canada and the continent where he has the opportunity to play with Albert Mangelsdorff. Among his idols are Lee Morgan and Clifford Brown. Keith Donald (soprano sax and Yamaha tenor sax) was involved with ‘Jump’, with Mike Nolan in the early seventies. Frank Hess plays bass. John Wadham plays drums. He has performed with Zoot Sims and Gerry Mulligan.

There is no date on the album but I’m guessing it’s late seventies or early eighties. It’s on the Cargo Label , a very small Irish record label. It’s quite possible that this is the only LP record on that label as I’ve never heard of it before but I’m not sure (anyone with info please let me know). The album is on blue vinyl. The music is marvelous with a quite beautiful version of Castle of Dromore as the first track on side one. If you like Stewart and Wadham then you will just love this LP. If that is you can get your hands on a copy of it. Along with “Louis the First” by Louis Stewart this must be one of the rarest Irish jazz albums ever.
Ozone Noel Kelehan Quartet.

   UPDATE January 2010 Mike Nolan died this month . You may read about HERE.

 

Louis Stewart is probably the greatest jazz guitarist of all time. This album is the first he recorded and is on the Hawk Label and it’s quite collectible. I have had this LP on many different occasions , I have a habit of cleaning out my vinyl collection every so often and starting again from scratch. I have been collecting for almost fifty years and had in my day most of the Irish collectible rare records such as Early One Morning by Mushroom and Swaddling Songs by Mellow Candle but I took a turn against collectors recently as it’s now all to do with the cash value of vinyl and nothing else.

For instance , how many record collectors do you know who would just give away a rare record just for the pleasure of seeing it go to someone who would really love it but perhaps can’t afford to buy it.? People used to do that once upon a time but not any more. The days of record collectors passing along vinyl like that are truly in the past. And of course most don’t even play such records but put them away in a glass case. And when it comes to vinyl that is the ultimate sin.
If you are seeking more information on Louis Stewart try this dedicated site.

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