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17 Jul 2012

Nothin' will ever change me

"I was tossed out by the roadside,
I recovered myself;
Hope reached to grab me
But I needed no help."

Not my words, but a source of inspiration, nonetheless.

It's the opening stanza from a little-known Mod band from the '80s outside of the scene, Makin' Time.  This was the 'b' side to the first ever single Here is my Number.  Vocals from the silky-smooth Fay Hallam - was I ever in love with her as an impressionable adolescent, or what!? - it was as good a song as the four-piece ever penned or played, simply entitled Nothin' Else.

Makin' Time - Rhythm! Compilation
I was lucky - I got to see a helluva lot of Makin' Time as Blunty only used live around the corner from us in Portobello.  The Long Acres on Dilloways Lane was our local, which happened to be Makin' Time's home pub, if ever they had one.

For three summers Higgsy and I would patiently await their return.  We were 13, 14 and 15 at the time but with buffonts, eyeliner, cravats and macs as per Style Council's CafĂ© Bleu cover, we tended to get in everywhere. Our first pub-crawl around Portobello and Willenhall, we hit five pubs and were only asked our age in The [recently demolished] Shakespeare - we were 12 [Higgsy] and 13 [me] at the time.

We were gutted in the months in between, especially when Aggy didn't put on the disco only for a spate - it was like our whole world had collapsed, with only The Outrigger and Reddington Rare Records to sustain us on Saturday afternoons.  Then we turned euphoric - it was the talk of the town - when those discos started running again, which was indeed a precursor to the arrival of Makin' Time. We caught the band at The Sandwell in West Brom once (now The Goose) and, although it was a bigger stage, it hadn't got the atmosphere of the low-ceiling back room of The Acres.

My claim to fame is that Blunty touched my bollocks when they came off for a break once at The Acres, purely by accident, but hey-ho. They were great gigs, ably supported by Aggy on the decks.

The Darrell/Higgs macs, circa '85
Ever-presents were Neil from Stafford, Danny Gleison and my cousin, Rachel Evans, who later went on to get wed, and a whole load of Bradley and Coseley mods and scooter boys, the latter far outnumbering the soul scene in Bilston than us Mods - apart from the odd fracas, we got on well enough, to be sure.

The track that always sticks out in my mind from those gigs is Only Time Will Tell - at the 'bar-ba-dap-ard-ar, bar-ba-dapar-dar' bit, we all used to bend forward at the hips - like the dancers of 'Shake your tailfeather' in The Blues Brothers - but with arms wide like the Stevie Bull hat-trick aeroplane swoop and wriggling our hands instead of our hands behind our back - ace.  Pretty apt as Blunty - well, all of us, really - were huge Wolves fans at a time when they were plummeting from division one right down to division four before Messrs. Bull and Mutch, as headliners, scored a torrent of goals that heralded a rise back to the second tier of English football as swift as the original demise.
Bully dancing to Only Time Will Tell

When Makin' Time passed and the Gift Horses sprung up and The Charlatans arrived (who used to write their songs in The Royal Oak in Portobello - I served them several times in my days in later years as a bartender there), it pretty much signalled the end of The Mod Revival in Bilston until more recent times.

Makin' Time were instrumental in prolonging Mod, Rhythm and Soul through the mid-80s and those nights at The Acres during our formative years will stick with me forever - I sound like Stephen King reminiscing about his childhood in Castle Rock, innit? - the balmy nights, the brilliant friends, row upon row of Vespa and Lambretta glinting in the arc-sodium streetlight on the car park out front and behind but most of all, having one of the most soulful bands of the revolution on our doorstep - there is a God, after all.

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