Take it Easy by Mr More

take it easy

Mr More takes the reins again…

We may lose and we may win, though we will never be here again

By the age of sixteen I’d been playing guitar every day for four years. I had an excellent electric guitar and a top-notch amplifier. I’d already played a dozen pub gigs with my own three-piece band, doing covers of hit singles. Audiences had clapped, shouted, and when drunk enough, danced. We got paid to play. I didn’t need a panel of judges to tell me I could hack it as pub musician.

The Preamble

It was the summer of 1974 and the doors to freedom were opening fast. I was working weekends, drinking in public, groping girls and shouting back at my dad. The end of school was less than a year away. I was examining maps and planning my escape from Glasgow.

I was, however, temporarily bandless. My drummer was recovering from a knee operation; he wouldn’t be kicking a bass-drum pedal any time soon.

I took the bus into town and went to Biggars, the music shop where I bought all my gear and spent most Saturday afternoons, hanging around.

Biggars was the muso hub of Glasgow. They sold everything: picks, strings, amps, speakers, drums, microphones, stands. Like giant Christmas decorations, two hundred guitars hung in rows from racks that went up to the the ceiling, shapes and colours, glittering under the spotlights.

It was a busy, buzzing shop where you might bump into Alex Harvey or Frankie Miller. Biggars, like Glasgow, was crawling with talent in the seventies. One guitar whizz-kid – Brian Robertson – only two years older than me, had been recruited to join Thin Lizzy through an advert on the noticeboard at Biggars’ entrance.

Naturally, I joined the queue at the door to read the board. It turned out neither Bowie nor the Stones were hiring that week. On the other hand, Jack and the Lads – a local covers band- were looking for a guitar player. Jack and the Lads played two of my own regular gigs. I’d seen their set several times.

They were a typical five-piece: bass, drums, vocals and two guitarists. Everybody bar the drummer sang on the choruses. They were tight and had a habit of bringing new hit songs into their repertoire while they were still charting. Probably rehearsing at least twice a week, every week, and I liked that. They excelled at Eagles songs.

The Rehearsing

I scribbled down Jack’s phone number and scuttled back home to rehearse. By seven p.m. I had worked out Witchy Woman, Already Gone, Peaceful Easy Feeling and Take It Easy. There were five or six guitar parts on the records, but I’d seen with my own eyes how Jack and the Lads got over that hurdle.

I cycled the same songs till dad rolled in from work at eleven and shut me down. Sunday morning I put in an hour of refreshers, then phoned Jack to arrange an audition.

They were seeing five of us, one after another on Tuesday night. Sound Advice rehearsal studios, starting at six thirty, half an hour allowed for each of us. I was booked for eight o’clock.

For two days I divided my time between endless practice and audition fantasies. I’d never done an audition. The more I thought about it, the likelier it seemed they would judge you on the very first thing you did.

I debated this with my brother Al. Four years older than me, he too was a guitar-player, but too lazy to practise. He lacked the basic technique to get paid. He had seen Jack’s band and reckoned I was plenty good enough for them. Al was always a hyper-critical bastard where I was concerned, so I took his opinion seriousl. Depressingly, he agreed that I would probably stand or fall on the first thing I performed.

“They’ll know right away if they want you. Or not.”

“But what will that song be? I mean, will I get to choose?”

“Of course you will,” said Al, with all the wisdom of twenty whole years.

I asked him which song he thought I should pick.

“Take It Easy.”

“Why?”

He shrugged.

“It’s in exactly the right key for your voice and there’s loads of backing vocals on Take It Easy. The verses are easy and you’ve got the guitar solo note perfect.”

This was high praise.

“You think so?”

“I’ve only heard you play it two hundred fucking times since Saturday.”

The Audition

We took a cab to the studio – I couldn’t carry my amplifier on the bus. We arrived early and sat in reception listening to one of my rivals doing his thing, muffled through the soundproofed door. At five to eight he shuffled out with his guitar-case looking pissed off. I walked in to take my turn, Al wheeling the amp behind me. Four bored-looking guys stood on the small stage, smoking cigarettes.

“Uh, Jack?” I asked.

“That’s me. You must be…uh, Brian?”

“Inigo.”

Jack was a round, hairy guy who smelled of beer. He checked the scrap of paper in his hand.

“Oh yeah – Inigo.”

He didn’t want to shake hands or anything.

“Where can I plug in my amp?”

Jack laughed and coughed at the same time.

“You brought your own amp?”

I nodded.

“You brought your own roadie?” He grinned at Al.

“He’s my brother.”

“You can plug in over there.”

Al hauled my Carlsbro 200- watt combo to the multi-plug by the drumkit. The drummer nodded as I dug my guitar out of its case. I took about 30 seconds to get my carefully-researched Eagles sound together. Setting the microphone stand to my height, I twanged and whooped to get the measure of things. Eventually, Jack’s lads put out their fags and returned to their instruments. Jack gave me a thin smile and asked what I might like to attempt by way of demonstrating my musical expertise. Out the corner of my eye I saw Al grinning.

“Take It Easy?”

Jack nodded like I’d suggested The Wheels on the Bus.

“In C,” I added, knowing damn well they played it in C.

“And could we knock out a quick three-chords first so I can hear how loud we are?”

“Three, four”, said the drummer, and they swung into a simple R&B groove. I joined in, reset my volumes and waved a halt.

“Thanks.”

“Okay,” said Jack, “Take It Easy,” he paused, “in C by the way. One, two, three, four -“

The Let Down

I shuffled out the door with my guitar-case feeling pissed off. Al was rolling the amp behind me.

“What the fuck was their problem?”

“You,” said my brother, stopping at the taxi rank.

“Me? I never missed a note.”

“I know. It wasn’t that. They were old.”

“Old? They were…I donno, late-twenties.”

“That’s old. You’re sixteen.”

“So what?” I wasn’t a bloody kid.

“Nobody likes being challenged by a smartass juvenile who doesn’t know squit but comes on like he knows everything.”

That hurt. That really hurt.

“You can fuck off as well,” I snapped.

He rolled his eyes like your big brother does.

Take it easy,” he muttered.




Mr More has written for my blog before.

Header image taken in Glasgow of My man and his brother…

And here his brother with a little song that inspired my series BARS

 

take it easy
Take it Easy – Eagles
Take it Easy
#383

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18 thoughts on “Take it Easy by Mr More

  1. I’m not a musician, but I did my share of mooning over musos in my younger years, and this really conjured up some fabulous memories! Great post, Mr More?

    1. Thankyou for commenting – I’m glad the memories evoked were fabulous. I’ll admit that recalling the event while writing it up had me cringing at my own juvenile arrogance -but I suspect that juvenile arrogance is what makes musos attractive.

    1. Thanks Elliott – it seems my lot in life is to entertain others with tales of my youthful blundering…

  2. Amazing! I saw that like a film! The details had me so immersed, a fabulous balance of thoughts and feelings with the trappings of yesteryear. I was convinced you’d ace the audition, but looking at it through your older brother’s eyes, I can see how you didn’t. There are some very fragile egos in the music industry – at every level – and you were clearly going to be competition they couldn’t stomach.

    My OH was a wannabe guitarist excited by the punk era and I’ve been to several gigs he played at once he eventually took lessons – Hotel California is branded on this family’s consciousness, as is Free Bird. I shall be purchasing a copy of your book for us both to read when it’s hot off the press because this little taster was not enough!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it Posy. You never forget your first audition, your first anything I guess. Rejection can be a wonderful thing – I never again assumed I was being judged fairly (in any context) and spent the rest of my life shooting for the best while resigned to the worst. As a result, I was often pleasantly surprised, and never again crushed by circumstance.

      1. Absolutely right about firsts – i’m quite sentimental so I store it all for reference. It seems you took something far more valuable away from that audition then – glad you could recognise the tough lesson & utilise it. x

    1. Thanks for that – it has the merit of being a true story, and was not , I feel, one of my finest moments.

  3. My husband is a musician (as am I) so I am well familiar with the environs and equipment. You lay out the process and capture the attitudes quite well. 🙂

    (And I’m pretty sure those old amps weigh 47 tons. We got rid of an oldie last summer, and I was like, “Who needs weight sets at a gym when they’re hauling this beast around?”)

    1. So right. Nobody tells you when you’re a kid that power-lifting is part of the rock god skill-set. I suspect you could always calculate the relative success of any band by the tonnage they were schlepping around with. Now that am wise, ancient and feeble, I have downsized to a lightweight accoustic guitar. The real smart musos play harmonica…

  4. Oh gosh you should really write more about this, as I am hanging on every word of you. I love love love reading this history of yours and am so thankful May allows you to share it here 😉

    Rebel xox

    1. Glad you’re enjoying my tales from the personal crypt. You may have a treat in store in the near future, as I am close to completing a book which tells the unexpurgated true story of the punk band which I fronted in London between 77 and 79. It’s taken a year and a half to write -almost as long as took to live – but it was something I always promised myself I would get round to. Soon come!

  5. You have a habit of evoking gritty memories with your style of writing.

    I’m no musician but I love observing the skill of a guitarist, especially real close up. From my time in New York, I went to a number of blues bars and marvelled from a few feet away. The absolute highlight was being sat 10 feet away from an 80 year old Les Paul doing his weekly spot at the Iridium.

    But I first got up close to marvel when barely out of school. An older colleague who I knocked around with had a 2nd job as a roving DJ, but more importantly he had a 3rd job as a barman. The main pub he worked in was known for the best pint of Tetley’s in Bradford. What wasn’t so well known was that it was owned by Chris Norman of Smokie fame. He was somewhat hampered with arthritis, yet once in a while he would come in, close the front door, hook up his guitar to the amp, jump on a table and play.

    As the Bill Hicks routine about integrity in rock goes – “Play from your f*****g heart” and Chris sure did that. It’s what I always sought to hear ever afterwards.

    Bradford isn’t Glasgow, but the grit of living and growing up in those places would have been mutually recognisable.

    Thanks for stirring that memory.

    1. Your memories are very much of the same ilk as my own. Every industrial town had its own thriving music scene -we were luckier kids than we knew. I remain quite bitter about the ease with which the music-biz corporations destroyed the live music scene by bribing Parliament to legislate musicians out of the market with ridiculous requirements for live performance. In the late seventies my punk band could play seven nights a week without travelling twenty miles – live music was everywhere. Naturally, the idea was to replace performers with the corporate-sponsored piped music which now infests every public space in Britain. Grrrrrrrrr

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