Various – Concerts for the People of Kampuchea Outtakes (Green Apple 011)
Recorded live at Hammersmith Odeon London, UK : 1979 December 26, 27, 28, 29
Queen – Crazy Little Thing Called Love / Paul McCartney & Wings – I’ve Had Enough / Paul McCartney & Wings – Twenty Flight Rock / The Clash – Bankrobber / The Clash – London Calling / Elvis Costello & The Attractions – You Belong To Me / The Pretenders – Brass In Pocket / The Pretenders – Private Life / Rockpile – Three Time Loser / The Specials – It Doesn’t Make It Alright / The Specials – Stupid Marriage / The Specials – Too Much, Too Young / Ian Dury & the Blockheads – Blackmail Man / Ian Dury & the Blockheads – Blockheads / Ian Dury & the Blockheads – Clever Trevor / Ian Dury & the Blockheads – My Ol’ Man
The concerts for Kampuchea were the first initiated awareness raising concerts curated by Paul McCartney in 1979 for the cause of the people of Kampuchea, (), the shows brought together a great roster of acts from the time mixed with the talents of the affable ex-Fab along with some other already established artists. The idea of the concerts, still a new invention in themselves rather than the one for every finger benefits that have appeared in years since were al selected to happen at the over 3,000 seater Hammersmith Odeon venue in London, itself.
The shows were recorded for prosperity and fund raising terms utilising space on a double LP and cassette but unlike, say, the concert for Bangladesh, it was obviously not deemed either for it to be a worthwhile event keeping all of these recordings licensed and the acts tied up and so the album was soon deleted and left to languish in collectors circles – So far it hasn’t appeared officially on CD.
A tape was passed to a collector by a record company exec who was having a clear out of his collection and this, the source for the torrent released to the internet in 2014 and consequently this pressing, is the finished result. A compilation of unused recordings at one point muted for the LP itself but never commercially used. Soundboard quality but with a little hiss detectable at the quiet points and with tiny little dips in the tape obviously due to age but refreshing clear to listen to, there is a little audience reaction mixed in but it’s almost too quiet making for a relatively sterile listen sometimes. The tapes that were passed to the uploader also featured tracks by long lost British Reggae band, Matumbi although for time restrictions or lack of interest, Green Apple have chosen not to include them.
The set starts with a version of Queen’s hit, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”, pared down and maybe a little muted at first – Freddie was warming up, obviously – it slowly comes alive a little more with Brian May’s guitar histrionics before we hit a lusty and reverential call and response between Freddie and the audience.
There are two Wings tracks that were played but snipped from the set, the recent, “I’ve Had Enough” from the album ‘London Town’, a spirited enough stomp with a wiggling guitar line underneath the broad boom of the melody and also a cover of the Eddie Cochran rocker, “Twenty Flight Rock”, a staple of the early Beatles stage tricks, a rarity from the ‘Choba B CCCP’ oldies album and a track that Macca has always had a fondness for knocking about at rehearsals. We’ve generally heard this from tapes of an unknown vintage so to hear it from a live soundboard tape, it’s rather delicious to hear.
Relative newbies at the time, the Clash perform two of their biggest hits (quite why they were left off of the LP of the concerts must be a matter for the bands albums and their respective sales themselves) – “Bankrobber” a reggaesque jumble with snakeish qualities, “London Calling” has a doomish vibe running through it’s bones but unfortunately, it begins to fall apart a little towards the end.
Sticking with the Punkers but with a little less of a snotty punk hint, Elvis Costello and his band The Attractions perform their encore, a rabid, tumultuous romp through “You Belong To Me” from the previous years album, “This Years Model”.
The Pretenders bring us one of their greatest hits, “Brass In Pocket” along with their own original and extended version of “Private Life” from their eponymous album. Rockpile, the Nick Lowe / Dave Edmunds silent attractions tonight, bring “Three Time Loser” to the table.
The Specials, at the time fierce favourites in the UK for their Thatcher baiting, political base of Ska / Punk, the amalgamation of their multi-race-formation perform two lesser known singles, “It Doesn’t Make It Alright”, introduced by Jeffery Dammer as “..For everyone here on New Years Eve, drinking your piss and eating your slops will be thinking back to this gig and wondering what the fuck you donated eight quid for” (Charming!) and “Stupid Marriage” before playing their ska romp ode-to-teenage-freedom, “Too Much Too Young”.
To finish, we have four tracks from Ian Dury and the Blockheads, an art school formed band and, like Macca, with ties to the artist Peter Blake (Dury’s tutor at art school was the artist himself) their dry prose, delivered scattergun sharp and with no less than a few rude words for earthy embellishment have a beautifully dirty turn of working class charm while retaining their brutally sharp and acerbic charm.
The first track, “Blackmail Man” is part Bonzo Dog screaming, squirlish sax instrumental, part nonsense rant is an invigorating bustle and vigorous tramp of a mess – the kind that sounds like the band has just found each other had has just been told to try find a key by themselves but the sound fits with the tone of the times following such ramshackle English comedians who on the rise such as Alexi Sayle but staying on message with more than a dollop of lunacy, there’s a rapturous applause when Ian first appears on stage, a people’s hero at this early stage. “Blockheads” rails against the undistinguished and unpractical before a volte face and revealing that, yes, we’re all blockheads under one name or another and what we’re doing is perfectly acceptable so we should carry on in our own madcap ways.
“Clever Trevor” begins after a stilted introduction for the band, like Ian really has just bumped in to his guests outside and with a sly, cursory wave of the hand, invites a greeting from his mates from the pub. The story of a character made from Ian’s own imagination and the folk and family friends who would have surrounded him in the London boroughs where he grew up.
Finally, “My Ol’ Man”, a languid, loud appreciation of Dury’s dad.
This is a great CD, part of it’s own time, part best-of-classic-rock in one place there are few bands who haven’t stood the test of time on this disk, invigorating the imagination of many a new young band or being at the cusp of their own movement, if you’ve never considered punk ska in your collection, if there are a few bands who you’ve spooled around on this collection, always havering over their albums in the racks, this CD makes a great little sampler, there’s nothing too mawkish as a multi-collective sing along in the style of which we’ve become accustomed to – It’s reasonably a cool collection of great and good bands who were hot at the time and haven’t lost any of their spark through out the years. Heavily Recommended.