Thursday, February 16, 2006


Some lighthearted frivolity to start with. Harmless fun. Now we move to a brief story to illustrate the other part of the double entry style ups and downs of this Ugly Man.

Bryan was a friend of mine who was loaded with talent, loved by millions, not far off, and died at the end of January 2006 without fulfilling his commercial and artistic dreams. I cried for a week because I was unable to to do what I had hoped to do with him and would never be able to have a laugh with him again. It was a long 6 years in which we connected and aimed to bring out a record. It really didn't work out for reasons of personal problems hitting in crucial moments. 11 songs recorded mixed and spat out, that will hopefully form some kind of posthumous salute to a great artist and an extraordinary bloke.

Read what his nearest and dearest say about him on his tribute blog and click on the tracks that are posted on the site, you will see his artistry. You will see the man

During this blog I will refer back to our times together as they illustrate some of the emotional low points I encountered as well as explaining the painful responsibilities there are in trying expose unrecognised talent. It is a lottery of horrendous preparations with so much investment by artists and often very painful the bystanders in that process.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Ugly Man v Multi-National Corporate Greed

In all my working life I have worked for wealth creating capitalist organisations. Growing through studenthood I fancied the idea of being a Psychiatric Nurse - mixed with the wrong sort - but that would have been strange after 4 years on a deeply vocational business studies course at Manchester Polytechnic.

Bare with me it's context. So Ugly Man records was not a vehicle for furthering the capitalist ideal, it was more wrought by a sixth form political sensitivity. Help people, get them onto the next level. Not a very viable model for progression in the corporate world that is the music business.

Two years into the project there I was, working with the anarchy that was The Man from Delmonte. As the blog develops you will see a fleshing out of what The Man from Delmonte was, what it sounded like, acted like, felt like. But this snippet of my life revolved around a letter that arrived in my Longsight home on 27/10/1987. The envelope promised much.

On opening it There was a letter from the Del Monte food corporation asking if we could get in touch and whether we fancied getting together for a chat in "That London" The delmontes had been gaining momentum from their first release and had obviously come to the notice of some hard working PR executive who felt the need to "touch base" - that's what they say in those circles.

I spoke to the band and got in touch with the letter writer setting up a meeting, under the illusion that the meeting would be a chance to talk about potential topics of mutual benefit.

I drove Martin and Mike from Manchester to the swanky offices of Del Monte's PR company in the Knightsbridge area of West London. There are posh offices and posh offices, these were swish and exuded a sense professionalism that I have never encountered since.

Mike and Martin dressed in the oxfam chic and me in my day job suit, we cut a sharp contrast to the surroundings and personnel sent to greet and accommodate us. We were swiftly invited to a beautiful boardroom environment. I can remember even at this point feeling a real sense of well being and potential advantage.

Bam the door shut. "Right let's give it to you straight we don't like what you're doing to our brand so stop it!!!" Having dragged us down at our expense to a cosy chat, so hard knock - well as hard as they come in PR - grabs us by the vitals and says rename your band coz it's causing us a problem.

Stunned for a second or two, we recoil. But quick as flash Mike tells them that their company is completely unconnected with his band and that they can't do anything about it. Adding to the sense of counter claim the point is raised that what they are doing in South Africa is in no way helping the band in the music press. Anxious journalists felt the band in some way glamorised the activities of the Del Monte corporation. The confusion to the consumer must have been immense.

Lasting less then 20 minutes we were treated to the levels of brand investment that Del Monte feel necessary to keep the cans stacked up in our cupboards and the zealous fervour with which they protect that investment. We left, crossing through tour support budget on our meeting agenda and headed back to the North.

We never got a follow up from the legal eagles and shortly after The Man from Delmonte - the band started to get on the telly and radio - blips in quarter 3 pineapple ring inventory may have resulted but fortunately Delmonte food corporation took it manfully on the chin.

Let's get this party started

One of my favourite books is Brilliant Orange a cultural exposition of the Dutch and their football. A cracking read if you like that kind of thing. One of the joys of the book was that the author had chosen to order it in an anarchic random style starting with chapter 7 then chapter 21 and so on. His homage to the Total Football of the 70's brilliantly executed by Cruyff Neeskens and Krol. No formal structure but if you wanted to you could read it sequentially or in the random order. Nice idea.

So never one for an original thought, I have decided to dip in and out of this fractured history of mine and allow you to pick your way through the chaos and action. I used to be a stickler for dates and details. Now I stuggle to put things in the right order, so apologies if it has the feel and continuity of a series of the Simpsons. Just read it and enjoy or undertand.

I'll start with an interesting curio, because it sprang to mind recently and we'll take it from there.