Thursday, November 30, 2006
TRIBUTE TO A TROUBADOUR
For those of you who don't recognise the face in the picture - it's the supremely talented, wonderful and entertaining Martin Stephenson.
Martin Stephenson & The Daintees were one of my favourite bands in the 80s. I must have saw them live maybe 15 times or so, mostly in Glasgow or Edinburgh. Signed to Kitchenware Records, they, along with Prefab Sprout, The Kane Gang and Hurrah! were at the vanguard of what was a bit of a Geordie musical scene.
All of the other three had some sort of chart success with Prefab Sprout easily being the most popular. I still have no idea why The Daintees came up short.
My introduction to the man and the band was via television. I was watching 'Whistle Test' one evening when Martin was introduced and he played a short blues instrumental. For the second song, to be played with the band, he had to change guitar. The guitar strap broke and for what seemed like an eternity he had to mess around and sort himself out as the band looked on. Martin just turned to the camera, winked and said, 'God Bless.' And launched into what remains one of my favourite songs of all time.
Between 1986 and 1992, the band released four fantastic albums which sold in ever decreasing numbers. While they were good on record, they were simply amazing live. Every single time - whether it was a cramped small and sweaty venue or a 2,000+ capacity theatre.
When the band broke up, I kind of moved on, and while I bought some of the solo stuff that Martin went on to release, I didn't make any special efforts to go see him live. I kind of regret that.
Nowadays, he plays solo gigs and pubs and clubs in villages, towns and cities all across the UK. There's even the occasional Daintees reunion such as on the 14 & 15th December down in Newcastle. All you need to know can be found at Martin's official website here.
All of The Daintees records have been re-mastered and re-released via 'Voiceprint' a wonderful independent label, radio station and all things audio/visual. I recently bought a Martin Stephenson DVD from them - 'Live At The Roscoe' - a small and intimate venue in Leeds. It won't be the last time I order from them.
And here's the song that I heard on The Whistle Test all those years ago.
mp3 : Martin Stephenson & The Daintees : Crocodile Cryer*
*song no longer available to download
Please, Please, Please. Buy Martin Stephenson material if you don't already own it.
Here's the link in full - http://www.voiceprint.co.uk/web/Catalogue/Search/martin%20stephenson/