Sunday, September 08, 2013

Balls: Fight for my Country

A couple of Saturdays ago I saw Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings at Market Harborough Leisure Centre. The opening act was Steve Gibbons, a legend of the Birmingham music scene.

Back in 1977, when the Steve Gibbons Band had a hit with Tulane, he was a leather-jacketed rocker - a sort of Brummie Fonz. Today he looks like a Southern gentleman, albeit one you would be wise not to play cards with for money.

Reading about his career, I discovered the Birmingham Music Heritage site. This has a four part video interview with Steve Gibbons.

One of the stories he tells involves the short-lived supergroup Balls, which involved Denny Laine from the Moody Blues and Trevor Burton from the Move (who is playing bass on the video of Tulaine) as well as Gibbons.

Trevor Burton takes up the story in an interview with Ugly Things magazine:
TB: I joined up with Steve Gibbons and the Uglys. We'd been friends for a long time, since I was with Danny King. Richard Tandy (ELO) was in the band, we were good friends, I didn't become an Ugly, we sort of merged together. And then it became Balls. 
UT: You came up with the name , right? 
TB: Yeah, Tony Secunda was managing us. But the Balls thing, one by one people got the sack or left the band. It ended up with Steve, me and Richard Tandy for a while. Then it finished with just me and Steve, and then we split up.. Then Denny Laine appeared on the scene, and it was me and Denny Laine and Alan White. And then the three of us became Balls for a brief period. Basically we got an advance from Chess records. We spent all that, and then it broke up. And that was the end of Balls! (laughs) We were in the studio for almost a year and nothing came out of that at all. It was a waste of time, really. One single came out. "Fight for My Country." I played everything except the drums.
According to Gibbons, Denny Laine did not take kindly to the fact that Trevor Burton proved to be a better bass player and a better guitarist than he was.

After finding all this out, I watched a repeat of a BBC Rock Family Trees programme about The Birmingham Beat. This mentioned Balls and its genesis too, but for some reason is not available on the iPlayer.

But you can hear Trevor Burton talking about the Birmingham music scene in the 1960s in English Soul, the BBC's documentary about the career of Steve Winwood.

Anyway, here is Fight for My Country by Balls. It's best enjoyed on headphones with the volume at 11 so you can appreciate the wonderful rumbling base.


Simon Titley said...

Your headline led me to expect a blog post about a speech on defence by Ed Balls. Imagine my disappointment to read this instead.

Otis Hush said...