Updated: Dec 18, 2019
The Reel to Reel launch concert was a secret gig on the date of the album's release - Saturday 30th November. It took place at 44 Music Studios in Cheltenham in front of a few good friends and was filmed by my old school pal Richard Kilbey:
I was joined by my bandmates Paul Kench on lead guitar, Joe Brown on bass and Hugh Lyford on drums. Hugh and I played in the first group I was in, that we formed when I was in my fifth year at school. We were called 'Embryo'; the name suggested by my biology teacher, Mrs Carruthers. I say band but it was really just a duo - me on bass and vocals and Hugh on drums. The next year Richard and another school friend, Andrew Herod, joined on guitar but we never managed to play any shows. This is a recording of us covering 'That's Entertainment' by The Jam in my parents' lounge in 1989:
The previous time I had performed with Hugh, in fact, was at our first gig with the band, which didn't take place until 1998; by which time we were called 'Black Toad '78'. I cannot believe twenty-one years have passed since then!
I was invited to perform at the Red Swindon event at The Beehive pub in the town the following week by my friend Steve Cox from Mr Love & Justice and I performed a new song I had written called 'Solidarity'. I backed myself on this on acoustic guitar and harmonica and also performed 'Dignity' from my LP Jubilee. Paul and Joe then joined me for some band songs, together with talented Swindon musician James Moss on drums, who had helped to organise the event. James and I had never met before but because Hugh was unable to join us he generously offered to sit in on the kit. He did a wonderful job considering we didn't have time for any rehearsing and we played 'We'll Be Champions', 'Vinyl Junkie', 'Know', 'Stay Human #1', 'Town Called Malice' and 'Oh! Yoko'. I decided to perform the latter because it was December 8th and the anniversary of Lennon's death. I don't have a recording of the gig, but I do have this live performance of 'Oh! Yoko' from a few years ago at Stroud Subscription Rooms at the John Lennon Celebration Concert I organised:
Obviously, I was more than a little gutted by the General Election result. I had been out on the doorsteps of Swindon on the day and was full of confidence after being surrounded by so many like-minded activists, young and old. I won't say any more on here because if you want to engage me in conversation about that you can follow me on Twitter: @BlakeTweets I'll just leave you with the wise words of Tony Benn:
“There is no final victory, as there is no final defeat. There is just the same battle. To be fought, over and over again. So toughen up, bloody toughen up.”
Reel to Reel is available to buy on cassette, CD and high quality digital download here.