VOTP VOCD 921
Can this be entered for the Turner Prize?

 Frame and canvas has not been the only objective of many nominated in the past. They have used installation, film, still photography and indeed sound - albeit as an adjunct. So the First Aural Art Exhibition is indeed a valid contender. 
On the 10th anniversary of its release, the Webzine gives an overview and gets BJ to offer a few comments on some of the contents. 

Plastic mini-skirt
Two syllables
Rubbing up and down

If there is one piece of VOGC music which might truly be deemed 'ironic' - this is it. Superlative adjectives suck.

 This piece is intentionally not a million miles from 'On Broadway' - but unlike George Benson, Billy does not wear a Rolex (or any wrist watch come to that). 

BJ felt he could handle young 2 y.o. James Matthewman for his role on the original studio recording for 'UNCOMMERCIALITY Vol.1.' Dad Tim Matthewman had trained him well. True he could say "Brilliant," but only after Dad had cued him with a '1,2,3,4...'
Undaunted, from the safety of the control room BJ  gave the youngster fifteen minutes to settle  into the main studio surroundings then advanced cautiously, cunningly and kindly. James did his bit. Alas off mike. BJ crept back in. "There there, James. Very nice. What a good boy etc., etc. Now we just need to adjust the microphone..." Wham! The boomstand unstuck itself and a Shure SM58 whacked little James right in the chops. WAAAAHHH!!!

Twenty five minutes later BJ was still nursing his bruised shin and Dad  still consoling a little lad with a sore mouth and reflex utilised foot. It was an accident, damn you. Bastard.

Expensive Equipment Veneer covered chipboard displayed around the floor,
    Painted vivid colours to make you want it more;
Along comes Ramsden to huff an' puff an' blow,
    To keep the People's Flag flying - over trivia below.

 "Nice One Herbie (Hancock)!

I enjoyed so much your promotion of the Fender Rhodes, captured on a floppy 7" disc (a medium I used to collect. Hilarious. Selling sound with scratchy shite. See The Blues below). Power chord Bb root keeps dropping to G Minor. A barometer of expenditure, weight of equipment or heart instinct?  Your choice.

I think those who contributed to this track - Mark Ramsden (alto saxophone), Davo Cooke (who takes the heavy metal guitar solo), Robin Aspland (piano), Stuart Hall (violin), Winston Blissett (bass guitar) and Martin France (quite a big drumkit) are ALL priceless." The VOGC. A musical Love In.


 Fat People

Big fat whole tone scales meets stab from '60s TV's 'Mission Impossible'. Originally composed with  Trimmer as 'Greenacres Health Resort', which was recorded in Helsinki during sessions for the 1977 'Burlesque' album (on Arista). The lyric was removed and these musical motifs distilled into what you hear now. From 'Jazz Café Concerts Vol.2' - released only on cassette and available from Other versions are also on 'Sounds Like Bromley', a vinyl released in 1982 with Billy's first eight piece VOGC and 'Wiesen '87' - the same band and concert that also has 'Donkey Droppings' (see below).


 The Blues

"Not REALLY. Metaphorically. The four styles portrayed on the 1986 LP 'Beyond E Major' (The Blues, Heavy Metal, Country & Western, Rock & Roll) were aural sketches of the movement the four styles invoke when dancing. Aural art impressions capturing momentum. Banging one's head in 12/8, with a slow two and four back beat chastisement.

 Sourced from a floppy disc 'aural advert' for an ARP synthesiser with Proportional Pitch Control which fell out of a musical equipment magazine BJ found at Wing Music (as immortalised on 'Still Sounds Like Bromley'). What a crappy concept. Using a known poor quality (but cheap) sound carrier to sell a supposed quality sounding instrument (or so the cacky American salesman on the disc would have us believe). Nonetheless, behind this cheese there was a quite acceptable 12/8 groove going on and that was the inspiration. Placing the piece in C#minor put a special emphasis on the nuances of that key and its relationship with the guitar fretboard, especially the tension of the C# on the fourth fret, fifth string. It is the ideal key and feel to work oneself into the nature of blues guitar playing and therefore perfect for 'BEYOND E MAJOR.'

The  original horn arrangements were inspired by Oliver Nelson.  It was this piece  that on 27th May 1995 began the long  (and still) running 'debate' twixt BJ and Dave Ramm. Don't even ask.....

('Beyond E Major' was a monthly guitar tuition column BJ was writing for a magazine called 'One Two Testing', which was published for a few years in the '80s).



Sade's Lips

"Another aural portrait. But instead of a whole body overview, here we focus on the thing I personally found the most appealing about helen Folasade Adu aka Sade - whose sultry distance offered a Shake 'N' Vac freshness to the music charts in the mid '80s. An indepth study in lippery."
Available online at


Johnny Cash

"Heh heh.
Johnny Johnny - Ooooo - Johnny Johnny.
This man is Sexy.
This man is a Man.

This man ran on amphetamines, cigarettes and coffee from one night stand to County fair to radio show to recording studio. An American Icon. Approached study of his work with slight (indian?) reservations. Ended up a fan.

I really do hope I've captured how Mr Cash is perceived. An artist who wasn't afraid to confront a microphone with just his voice, guitar and sixty two years of living as he did on 'American Recordings' - a recording actually made a couple of years after this aural portrait was 'painted'. Yup - I feel I got it right. But my portrait is nothing. compared to the music he has produced. Thank you, Mr Alluring Darkness".


 Discoboats At Two o'Clock

 Written whilst resident Thameside at Wood Wharf Studios.

"Every night they'd come, wafting in through the skylight on the summer breeze. Drifting out of sleep into 'Love Ter Love Ya Bay-beee,' bass pumping and bouncing off the far shore, then off our side, then back over... Boom Boom Doom. The slow approaching crescendo, whirling louder, softer, even louder till one feared the children might disco in their dreams and one wished that the party shouters might just lean that bit further over the side and plunge blissful quietly to a silent death.

 One day we found a bass guitar washed up on the foreshore. I pondered for a moment where it's owner was and prayed that next time it'll be a disc jockey's turntable..."


 Cooking Oil

A very, very serious piece. Ruminations on the so called 'Cooking Oil' tragedy that shook Spain in the early 80's. Billy has recorded pieces that are so sad he is in no hurry to release them. This one was released as it was essential for the whole 'half smelt half seen' overview on 'Scratches of Spain'. The fear of the food chain gorn wonky. Frightening.

Amazingly, in 1993 choreographer Nikky Smedley used this music to create a piece for the Blueprint Dance Company and turned it into one of the funniest dance pieces BJ has ever witnessed. Fully understanding every minutiae of the music, it left BJ in tears - of joy. "And when  music tires me and I want to become a park keeper, it is that paradox which drives me on. I cannot bestow enough plaudits on the head of Nikky Smedley. Thank you, thank you, thank you" -  says BJ.


 Donkey Droppings

A stupidly childish title. But consider the influences. Thelonius Monk themes wedded to 'Mouldy Old Dough' by Lieutenant Pigeon. BJ still likes the former and the latter is STILL played before the start of  Banger races at Wimbledon Stadium. How perfect. A double twelve bar theme, it was actually a transcription of an improvised blues recorded during the 'Piano Sketches 1973-84' album. So named as 'that's what it sounds like'.
  Released on cassette only (Wiesen '87 VOTP VOCA 901).

It took BJ two years to fully appreciate the noise from this gig. The cassette is well worth investigating, if not for the 2,000 strong crowd shouting 'Bastard!'.  Nuts.


 Elvis Presley

 The King.
The Burger King.
No reply to the Official Elvis Presley U.K. Fan Club,
who wrote to BJ asking to have a copy of his 'tribute.'
But it is sincere.
Just how good could he have continued to be
had not monetary excess guided him from the path of righteousness?
And that's not in a religious sense, just common sense.

Here was was a White Blues Man poisoned by consumerism and demand.
A pure simple soul stretched aound the electrified world.
Strung so thin he had to snap.
Became so fat he had to Pop.

And who is the voice of 'Elvis,' ripped off from the Dansette Major before things get really good?
Why, what a surprise. It's producer Tony Messenger once more displaying his talent for forgery!


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