Reminiscences 1991-2000

How to end a century without style

The nineties were as bland as the 80s had been confrontational. The general public had, finally, had enough of the Thatcher primacy and her buddies shovelled her out the door as soon as they could indecently muster. Even that slimy rag, the Sun, had it in for the old girl. In retrospect, she was, probably, showing signs of the dementia that was to prove her undoing, although she managed to struggle on living in the outrageous squalor that was the Ritz Hotel.

On a more personal note, Janet became more and more important to me and I promised her a ring in the next century. By that I meant the 2000s, not the 2100s, although a bit of time-travel has always been a wish of mine.

Back to the book! Jim Miller gave me a call one day, and, for much of the nineties, we worked on songs that were to become my G2 CD. Using the rudimentary expertise that I had gleaned with an Atari 1040 computer, I experimented with getting the Notator sequencer to trigger sounds from various outboard devices, such as Akai samplers, Korg M1s and Roland drum machines. There is a problem with the Roland R5 (and, probably, all MIDI drum machines of that era), viz. it didn't do hi-hat open and close sounds. This meant that realistic drum patterns were unachievable. That's why the music of that era is redolent of wooden rhythms - probably the fans of Newman, Yazoo and Depeche didn't give a toss, but it always seemed such a cop out. Later in the decade, as samplers were being ditched in favour of soft synths run on next-generation computers, Notator mutated into Logic and onboard sample libraries allowed programmable drums that were much more realistic.

I didn't do much live work at all for the remainder of the nineties, with the exception of a few London gigs with Jim Miller and Ben Waters in the Engineers. This didn't exactly set the scene alight, although it was enjoyable enough.

One event for lovers of Thames Delta music was the sad news that Lee Brilleaux had succumbed to lymphoma. Over the following years, memorial concerts in his memory have been held. On quite a few occasions, the Ks managed to crank old the old songs as part of a fund-raising gig for the hospice that cared for him during his final time.

Personally speaking, I managed to finish the CD G2 and released it to the inordinately-enthusiastic public, who took no notice. You can hear the tracks by clicking on the link above.

An exciting event was an invitation to a trip to Japan in 1998, funded by the mega-rich Masahito Otsuka to celebrate the opening of the Otsuka Museum of Art. I'm ashamed to admit that the prospect of an all-expenses paid trip out to Japan in 1st Class, to be a guest at the opening of an art establishment, specialising in ceramic reproductions of classic art from Europe and America, was too good to refuse. It beats me, though, why they would want to reproduce western art when they have so much stunning art from their own heritage to enjoy. Never mind, it was an exhilarating trip, taking in Tokushima, Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo.

Travelling on the bullet train from Osaka to Tokyo only led to speculation about the slovenliness and squalour of British Rail. To all intents and purposes, the privately-owned rail companies have managed to cause the services to deteriorate much further since the mad idea of privatisation of state assets became part of economic thinking for politicians, both Tory and social Tory (also known as New Labour). Send them all to the salt mines!