~ ~ So what’s this, you may well ask? A music review from the “mad cabbie”!!!! Am I seeing right? Well, believe it or believe it not, the only reason I have never written in this category before is because no matter how hard I try to attempt to get across what I want to convey, it all seems to come out all cock-eyed. But listening to one of my favourite singers on the CD-Rom last night while I surfed around dooyoo, I realised that I couldn’t put off the evil day any longer. ~ ~ A lot of you will probably remember a song from the late 1970’s called “Baker Street”, by a Scot’s singer called Gerry Rafferty. If you listen to the radio at all you can hardly have missed it, as even now there is hardly a day passes that it is not played at some point. I believe there was even a cover version released in the 1990’s (although I can’t remember by who) that also made it into the charts. This is unquestionably the song for which Gerry Rafferty will be best remembered, but this 54-year-old Scotsman has been around the music scene since the late sixties, and has produced many fine albums. ~ ~ Gerry Rafferty was born in Paisley in Scotland in 1947, and after cutting his musical teeth with various bands in the local working men’s clubs, pubs, and dance halls, hooked up with two other Scot’s “jimmys”, one of who you will know very well. Billy Connolly, (the “Big Yin”) the comedian and actor, has since gone on to international stardom, and is a household name the world over, but at that time was a little known artist playing the bango in a folk group called the “Humblebums” with a fellow called Tam Harvey. It was while Rafferty was playing the pub scene with the Humblebums that I first came across him, in a well-known student bar in Edinburgh called “Ma Bells”, in the University area of the city. I immediately liked
both the band and the lads in it, and sank many a pint with them when I was still in my drinking heyday. Tam Harvey left the band shortly after Gerry joined, but they were to produce a total of three albums, one as a trio, and two with only Billy Connolly and Gerry, before finally going their separate ways in 1970. ALBUMS First Collection of Merry Melodies The New Humblebums Open Up The Door These albums, a mixture of traditional folk music, pop, rock, and Irish rebel songs (Gerry’s dad was Irish) achieved some measure of popular success, and for a while the contrasting musical styles and tastes of Rafferty and Connolly worked well. But it was never a marriage made in heaven, and when as Gerry later commented, "Billy's jokes were getting longer and longer, the songs shorter and shorter", the break-up was almost inevitable. To this day though, the two remain firm friends. ~ ~ Gerry’s first solo album was called “Can I Have My Money Back?”. Released in 1971, it wasn’t a huge seller, but received good reviews from the music press, and brought him to the attention of some of the big names in the music world. In 1972 he hooked up with an old mate called Joe Egan, and they formed a group called “Stealers Wheel”. Between 1972 and 1975 this band released three albums, and produced yet another classic song for which they will always be remembered called “Stuck In The Middle With You”, which went to No. 1 in the USA charts. ALBUMS Stealers Wheel Ferguslie Park Right Or Wrong But the band suffered from many changes in line up, and ongoing contractual difficulties with their management, who wanted them to take on a coast-to-coast tour of America, a task that Gerry had little taste for. Many in the music business believe that Stealer’s Wheel could have gone on to achieve greatness, but it was not to be, and from 1975
to 1978, Gerry was hardly heard from, until in 1978 he released his solo album “City To City”, that included the famous “Baker Street”. On a personal level, I will always remember this song, as at that particular time in my life I was in the last throes of my alcoholic drinking days, (I was to finally stop drinking in 1979) and the lyrics spoke volumes to my mental state at that time. See if you can spot why! ~~~~~~~~~~~ BAKER STREET LYRICS Light in your head and dead on your feet Well another crazy day, you’ll drink the night away And forget about everything. This city desert makes you feel so cold It’s got so many people but it’s got no soul And it’s taken you so long to find out you were wrong When you thought it held everything. You used to think that it was so easy, You used to say that it was so easy But you’re tryin’, you’re tryin’ now. Another year and then you’d be happy Just one more year and then you’d be happy But you’re cryin’, you’re cryin’ now. Way down the street there’s a light in his place He opens the door, he’s got that look on his face And he asks you where you’ve been, you tell him who you’ve seen And you talk about anything. He’s got this dream about buyin’ some land He’s gonna give up the booze and the one night stands And then he’ll settle down, it’s a quiet little town And forget about everything. But you know he’ll always keep movin’ You know he’s never gonna stop movin’ Cause he’s rollin’, he’s the rollin’ stone. And when you wake up it’s a new morning The sun is shining, it’s a new morning But you’re going, you’re going home. ~~~~~~~
~~~~~~~ ~ ~ Three years of legal battles between Rafferty and his management kept him silent until 1978, when he released “City To City”. The album was an enormous success, thanks in large part to the hit single “Baker Street”, and might have been even more successful had Rafferty chosen to tour the USA in support of it. As it was, it went to number one in the American album charts, selling over 5.5 million copies, and Baker Street duly followed suit when it was later released as a single. ~ ~ His next album, called “Night Owl” was released in 1979, but for some reason didn’t have the same impact as City to City, despite the fact that it was equally as good. (IMHO) It contained a single called “Get It Right Next Time”, that again spoke volumes to me personally, as this was the year that I was finally to turn my back on the bottle, and embark on my new adventure into sobriety. I played this song so much that I eventually wore out the cassette, and had to go out and buy another copy. I found the lyrics and the beat both catchy and inspirational, and to this day it is one of my favourite tracks. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ GET IT RIGHT NEXT TIME LYRICS Out on the street I was talkin’ to a man He said "there’s so much of this life of mine that I don’t understand" You shouldn’t worry yes that ain’t no crime Cause if you get it wrong you’ll get it right next time (next time). You need direction, yeah you need a name When you’re standing in the crossroads every highway looks the same After a while you can recognize the signs So if you get it wrong you’ll get it right next time (next time). Life is a liar yeah life is a cheat It’ll lead you on and pull the ground from underneath your feet No use complainin’, don’t you worry, don’t you whine Cau
se if you get it wrong you’ll get it right next time (next time). You gotta grow, you gotta learn by your mistakes You gotta die a little everyday just to try to stay awake When you believe, there’s no mountain you can’t climb And if you get it wrong you’ll get it right next time (next time). ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~ ~ Rafferty’s next two albums were almost non-events. “Snakes and Ladders” came out in 1980, and “Sleepwalking”, (1982) showed a darker and broodier side to Gerry’s character. Gerry went quiet after this, and wasn’t to release another album of his own until 1988, when he released an album with strong Celtic overtones, called “North and South”. The influence for this probably came from the work he had been doing with Mark Knopler (of Dire Straits fame) on the soundtrack for the 1983 film set in the Scottish Highlands called “Local Hero”, and also from producing the acclaimed and highly successful album “Letter From America” by the Scottish group “The Proclaimers” in 1987. ~ ~ His worst album (in this writer’s opinion) was probably “On A Wing And A Prayer”, released in 1992. It featured contributions from his old mate Joe Egan from his Stealer’s Wheel days, and also from his own brother Jim Rafferty. It was heavily influenced by the break up of his marriage, (amidst rumours of his own drinking problems) and I found the songs to sentimental and sloppy, and with too many self-pitying lyrics for my own personal taste. In 1994, he released “Over My Head”, which was basically a reworking of many of the old Stealer’s Wheel tracks. ~ ~ From 1994 to the present Gerry went once more into a quiet spell musically, but is now on the verge of releasing his first new album in seven years, called “Another World”. In releasing this album Ger
ry has truly entered the Internet age, as he is producing and marketing the album on his own, and selling it direct to the public only through his website “www.gerryrafferty.com”, at a price of £11.99 plus £1.95 Post and packing charge. Here you can also preview the tracks, and one in particular has taken my fancy. One is called “Sweet Surrender”, and by looking at the lyrics, I would be inclined to reach the conclusion that Gerry has been influenced in writing this song by his own experiences with the bottle. Here’s just a verse from the lyrics. “I try to keep it simple Take it one day at a time When I’m losing my direction Well I know that ain’t no crime” Again he has surprised me with the diversity of his talent, and the songs on this album vary from pop to rock, from country to folk, and with a bit of Dylan type lyrics thrown in for good measure. So far I’ve only listened to the previews at the website, and am still awaiting delivery. So I might give you another opinion once I get a chance to listen to it in full. ~ ~ Gerry Rafferty has come a long way for a wee Scot’s Jimmy that used to play the working men’s pubs and clubs in his home town of Paisley, and the path has not always been smooth. But he’s nothing if not a survivor, and remains to this day one of my favourite artists.
Gerry Rafferty comes from the town of Paisley in Scotland and his musical roots owed much to the West of Scotland folk circuit in the late 1960s. It was here that he met Billy Connolly and improbable though it may seem they formed a duo called the Humblebums and released an album of the same name. It contained a nice little number called Shoeshine Boy which David Hamilton played to death on the BBC. Rafferty and Connolly split up quite quickly because basically Connolly couldn't sing and Rafferty went on to form Stealers Wheel with Joe Egan. They had a number of albums and a few top ten hits including the catchy and memorable "Stuck in the middle with you" When Stealers Wheel split up Rafferty went solo, releasing some of his old stuff in compilations etc. However, he did go on to record two great albums called "City to City" and "Night Owl". Out of these came the highly acclaimed "Baker Street" with its instantly recognised Saxophone. Rafferty has got an easy-on the-ear voice which he never raises. It has subtle tones and makes for very smooth listening. The man is an excellent writer but now regrettably seems to have retired.