Sunday, 4 November 2012

The Clive Continuum

“Respect”   (see also: "Side Projects"  "Lyrics" & "Touring")

I’m furious. I’m absolutely bloody apoplectic. I’ve had to put Homes Under The Hammer on mute and delay putting out the bins to get this written down, that’s how maddened I am.

Cut straight to the chase? Bands these days have no respect. R.E.S.P.E.C.T, as was sung by someone they don’t even know because all they listen to is gangster rap and guitars. As someone who has been there and seen it all, it saddens me deeply to see these promising young musicians turn their precious little cheeks the other way when offered advice by someone who has been there and seen it all, which is me. It wasn’t like this in the old days. I say ‘old’, it’s not like the ‘70s was that long ago pal! Not that much has changed since then. But back in them days, you didn’t see The Rolling Stones or Billy Idol disrespecting their predecessors. And what a better place music was for it.

If you want to make it in the music world, if you want to make it to retirement age with a garden shed, a full head of silky grey slicked back hair AND a back catalogue that is the envy of your neighbours, you need many things. But if you want people to respect your achievements, you yourself need to respect the achievements, beliefs and career decisions of others.

I bring this up as I feel, of late, that Clive Smith is not being respected. All the advice I have given over the course of this series has been timeless. It will always work. It always worked for me. But this one is different. Because the meaning of ‘respect’ has changed.

In my day (which was a better day), people respected their elders. Musicians respected those who came before them. I proudly learnt my trade in the clubs. Watching the masters at work I learnt a magical ‘something’, some kind of charisma, a charm that means heads turn, chatter hushes and ladies blush ever so slightly when you enter the room. You can’t learn that at university or off the telly. It’s like an Eskimo teaching his only son to fish. It is exactly like that.

I’ve noticed it more since I joined Twitter. Like many people I saw this new invention as a needless intrusion into my peaceful life of getting angry at the TV and writing endless, annoyed letters. But on the advice of Rhubarb Bomb’s editor, I joined. At first, it was really interesting. So many people on there! But then reality slowly dawns. No one is listening to you. I’m there tweeting goodwill across the globe but people are just ignoring me, like some mad man shouting at the TV or a lunatic writing letters that end up being read out in court.

Runaround Kids were the first ones. I had a really great tour of some clubs in the North East lined up. Bongo Bongo Club, Kaleidoscope Lounge, Boogie Heaven: real quality places. Thought it’d be great to take em along, teach em some humility y’know? Didn’t even respond. It’s a shame because Clubland has changed a lot. It’s not all cover bands and variety. Sure, for a good night and to get a steady string of bookings you need some classics in your set, but only about 75%. Then you work in your own material and win ‘em over. Don’t you see? You don’t do you?!

It’s tried and tested and the examples are endless. Look at Billy Bustop and The Macarenas. What about Buff Charington and the Marlborough Teasers? What about Clive Bloody Smith?!

Oh yeah, and Gary Barlow too. I have tweeted him on three occasions asking for the chords to Back For Good so I can incorporate it into my set. Has he replied? Has he balls. No respect these young uns.

Instead, the people they ‘respect’ are these gangster trippers and celebrity makeovers on the satellite. People without an idea inside their shiny plastic skulls. Try a bit of reality kid. No-one keeps it more real than Clive Smith. I played in South Africa before Apartheid ended. I snorted the drugs from a dwarf’s boobs before it was fashionable. I never avoided paying taxes. Not once. Am I making myself clear?

But this isn’t about me, obviously. I am worried about the state of Wakefield and Yorkshire and Britain and The World. That’s my specific concern. But these young musicians have too lofty ambitions. They think they are The Beatles. Everyone knows those Scouse chancers lost it around ’64. Did they ever better Twist and Shout? That’s why you hear people playing it in the pubs, see? Because PEOPLE LIKE IT. These kids sit in circles blowing smoke up their arses trying to spin a ZERO on the roulette wheel. It aint gonna happen. You’re not going to be successful. Take the hints: no-one is coming to your show. No-one is buying your records. Lower the odds. Aim for an even number. Aim for Black. Throw in some songs people actually like, a tune they can actually whistle along to…

Why has this got me riled all of a sudden? Because last month I released a Best Of Collection called The Colossal. It was beautiful. You should have seen it. You never will now because it sold out (imagine that, eh?). But I got a snidey comment from one of my fans. It read:

Dear Clive,

I will start by saying I am a huge fan of yours. The way you combine genres into brand new forms almost at the drop of a hat is ‘awesome’. For me, no-one comes close to you in Wakefield or further places for sheer consistency and magnetism.

However, I must say I am slightly disappointed with your recent collection. As one of your tracks states, you have always been ‘a futures man’. Yet here you are, recycling your greatest moments for a quick buck. I find it a little upsetting and disheartening. If only the music wasn’t so good, I’d happily put my copy in a cupboard and only play it on special occasions.


This person is clearly insane. How can they claim to be my fan yet disagree with me? I tell you why – a lack of respect. I can tell from that poncey name alone that they are young. Well, maybe when you’ve had forty years at the top you can go around telling people how to do things.

In fact, read that last sentence again. That’s how the world should run. Because then things wouldn’t change. We’d still be living the dream in clubland with the songs and jokes of yesteryear. Wanting to smash up the status quo (not the Status Quo!) is just pathetic. If you youngsters want to make it in showbiz then you need to a) lower your expectations b) understand showbiz has a rite of passage and your elders hold the keys c) cut the arty crap d) subscribe to the holy motto of ‘The public wants what the public gets” and e) learn some respect. Us lot, these people with 20 plus years experience you so openly scorn; we’ve been there and done that. The fact we are still here, living in the same houses and drinking in the same pubs and listening to the same music proves that our way is the ONLY way to achieve any kind of staying power.

So remember, Clive is here for you. Respect me and you shall receive my respect. Together we can make the world a better place.

Clive Smith

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