Drink Up Thee Zyder

The Wurzels – Walkabout, Bristol Thursday July 5th

It was a good time to be fourteen in the long, hot summer of 1976.

I was living in London and just discovering that not only were these things called “girls” actually quite interesting, some of them seemed to be interested in me, too…

The soundtrack to that summer was provided by such quality acts as John Miles (“music was my first hit – and it will be my last”), Showaddywaddy (“Under The Moon Of Love”) and Abba.

All very safe, and very dull. It was time for a change, a new sound. A sound from the streets that would make people sit up and take notice. A sound that would define a generation. Once you heard this song, nothing would ever be quite the same again.



The Wurzels had been going since 1967 as Adge Cutler And The Wurzels. Adge sadly died in a car crash in 1974 but just as Joy Division were later to morph into New Order and create a more commercial sound, so too did The Wurzels carry on.

They began to mess around with the lyrics of old hits and scored massively with the above Combine Harvester, which went to No. 1, I Am A Cider Drinker and Farmer Bill’s Cowman.

I found out years later that the actual immediate follow-up single to Harvester was “One For The Morning Glory”, the subject matter of which meant it was pretty unlikely to garner any airplay. It DID get on “The Arrows” teatime pop show on ITV though.

As a snotty kid from Sarf Lunnon watching Top Of The Pops, they seemed to come from another planet – far more so than the Sex Pistols.

The Wurzels enjoyed something of a renaissance in the noughties with their covers album which mocked their former rivals with its clever play on words in the title and cover.

West Cuntry Music at its finest

This included the likes of “Chelsea Dagger” and “Oo Ah Just A Little Bit” (Yes it works. Sing it in a West Country accent . See?) as well as possibly their finest hour – a cover of Oasis’s “Don’t Look Back In Anger” which is every bit as great as it sounds in your head.

They also did a split single (on good old vinyl) with the mighty British Sea Power on which they covered BSP’s “Remember Me” while BSP did a scuzzed out take on “I Am A Cider Drinker”

Incredibly, the Wurzels are still going strong today with two of the classic ’76 line up

I managed to get two tickets cheap from Sally at work for their gig at the Walkabout in Bristol. I have no idea where she gets these things from. Its best not to ask.

After a couple of rejections for the second ticket I eventually twisted the arm of old rocker Dave – ten thousand CDs and two ex-wives, an encyclopediac knowledge of rock music up to about 1985.

They were fantastic. Really tight band, as you’d expect from the time they’ve spent together. They did the hits, and a LOT of the old songs, which are mainly either about (i) drinking cider, (ii) shagging or (iii) both.

Except one about the Pill ferry, a fantastic take on all those folk songs about waving your loved one away on a ship – except that this one just goes to the other side of the river and back 8=)

I was expecting the audience to consist of fat old men like me and Dave but no! They were mainly twenty-somethings and teenage girls.

The band, undeterred by the age gap, engage in a good deal of lewd flirting with the girls, who seem to love it.

Fair play to them.

The drummer was introduced as “79 years old – the oldest drummer in captivity” and I can well believe it.

One of them did a striptease towards the end of the set, and for the first time in a while, I wished I still took a drink. Then I may have a fighting chance of forgetting the image one day …

They encore with the disco remix of “Harvester” and their version of the Kaiser Chiefs “Ruby”. No “Oo Ar Just A Little Bit”, unfortunately but you can’t have everything. Glad I finally saw them, but from the vim and vigour of the performance, I’m guessing they’ll be around for a while and there will be a few more chances yet.

Drink up thee zyder me babbers …

This is a clip from the gig courtesy of that internet. You can see Dave on the left in the Feist T-shirt. Don’t the band sound great?

Pink Floyd Wish You Were Here Far Too Dear

“And did we tell you the name of the game, boy?  We call it ‘riding the gravy train’”

That line is from “Have A Cigar”, the track that opens Side Two of Pink Floyd’s 1975 masterpiece “Wish You Were Here”.

Welcome to the machine. The nostalgia machine. In time for the Christmas market, Pink Floyd are releasing re-mastered versions of all their albums, including five-disc “Immersion Editions” of the two best, and best-loved, “Dark Side Of The Moon” and “Wish You Were Here”

There’s some great music here, but I’d hazard a guess that ninety percent of the people who are going to buy these overpriced reissues already have the albums.

You do not, emphatically  not need the new remixed, remastered editions. You especially do not need the new Immersion edition of Wish You Were Here.

You’ve already GOT Wish You Were Here.

The new immersion edition of Wish You Were Here costs £84.99. Let’s just put that out there. Thats fifteen notes short of a hundred pounds. For this you get three versions of the album – the original stereo mix, the Quadraphonic Mix, and the 5.1 Surround Mix.

No extra tracks, jams or outtakes from the sessions…

Plus you get two versions of a 1975 concert performance of the album, plus a selection of tacky collectibles that bear listing in full.

Two photo books. A scarf. Some marbles. Postcards. A replica gig ticket and backstage pass. And some cardboard drinks coasters.

Look, I know you love Pink Floyd.

You’re fifty, male and middle class. You were at school in the mid-seventies, when it was compulsory for middle-class boys to be into Pink Floyd.  And Yes. And King Crimson. And Genesis. Soul and reggae music was for the rough boys. Glam rock was for girls.

You love Pink Floyd, of course you do.

So do I. Wish You Were Here in particular. Its a lovely, warm, wistful album.

But you already have this music.

You  bought Wish You Were Here on the day it came out in 1975, in that black shrink-wrapped bag.

You had of course heard the album on Alan Freeman’s Radio One show the week before, and recorded it onto a C-60 cassette, which you played a lot

Later, when you got your first CD player, the first four CDs you bought (at sixteen pounds each) purchased in 1985 were – Dark Side Of The Moon, Wish you Were Here, Dare by the Human League (the wife likes them) and Brothers In Arms by Dire Straits.


If you have eighty-five quid to spare and you love Pink Floyd, there is a lot of music out there, in the same genre as Pink Floyd, that you may learn to love just as much:

Download Trojan Horse’s excellent album:

Trojan Horse are an up-and-coming band who describe their sound as “Prog Nouveau”. You can download their debut album here for £6.00:

Take your pick from the many records by The Pineapple Thief.

Basically the brainchild and project of Bruce Soord, these guys have been making prog-indie albums since 1999, building up a devoted following. Their latest album is “Someone Here Is Missing” and you can listen to bits of it  here.  In particular, check out the Storm Thorgerson album artwork. Admit it, Floydians, you’re interested!

Buy A Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble Exploding In Your Mind

Amorphous Androgynous – formerly called the Future Sound Of London – these guys do killer mixes and compilations of old psychedelic gems mixed with some current stuff. This is the latest volume

“X And Y” – Coldplay

Yeah, I know you know all about Coldplay. But plenty of tracks on this album sound more like Pink Floyd than Pink Floyd did, at least after Roger Waters left. Its currently yours for less than four quid on Amazon.

Pink Floyd’s Soundtracks

The rest of Pink Floyd’s back catalogue. If you don’t already have all of this then why not fill in the gaps – for instance, the soundtrack albums. More? Obscured By Clouds? Roger Waters’ “Music From The Body”? Tonite Lets All Make Love In London? All worth your time. Except the last one, mind.

British Sea Power

British Sea Power’s “Man Of Aran” – British Sea Power are primarily an indie band. You may not like everything they do, but they wrote this new soundtrack to a 1934 film about islanders on Aran ekeing out a pre-modern lifestyle from the unforgiving land. Some of the long pieces in particular are very Floydian.

Go see a Pink Floyd Tribute Band

With half the original band no longer with us, and two of the three survivors no longer on speaking terms, a Floyd live reunion ain’t gonna happen – and if it does, it isn’t going to be any good. I mean, I watched the Live 8 performance on the telly and it was a bit ropey.

Think Floyd were one of the earliest and best Floyd tribute bands. Fourteen quid will get you in to see them playing at St Pauls Church in West London next week:

There are others, notably The Australian Pink Floyd. My personal favourite is a band called Interstellar Overdrive who I saw in Germany many years ago. They limit their selection to the Barrett / Waters led period – nothing after “Animals” except “Comfortably Numb”, which is just fine by me! You have to respect a semi-pro band who include a massive gong in their stage rig solely for “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun”.

Just say “Yes” !

And finally, Floyd’s seventies prog contemporaries Yes are playing at Hammersmith Apollo next week, The difference is that Yes have been a working, breathing band ever since they began, barring the odd hiatus and many personnel changes, and they continue to produce new music to this day.

Tickets are £37.50 plus booking fee. Don’t even get me started on booking fees…

Now you may say that’s an outrageous price for a gig by a bunch of ageing prog-rockers. And you’d be right.

But it compares well with paying £84.99 for five versions of an album you already own several times over.

And… breathe. Breathe in the air.