Interview with George Brallisford
The following partial interview, recorded on 1/4" tape, was apparently intended for publication in UK monthly music magazine Beat International, although no interview with Brallisford can be found in the magazine's archives. The interview was conducted on Monday 9th November 1964, shortly after Harold Wilson's Labour Party won the UK General Election, and some time before the death of Fred Foster.
Whoever labelled the tape has incorrectly included an apostrophe in The Peoples Mass, and dubbed the town "Seaton's Nook". The inaccuracies in the labelling and the quality of the recording may be an indication of the interviewer's competence - or lack of - which may also explain why the interview never appeared in print.
The interviewer is unknown.
… bands who don’t, er, who're not true to where they're from. Right? It's fun, like, to be like an actor an play a character an tha, and pretend you're a cowboy and do a country and western song, or like, do an old blues song and pretend you're like a blackie(1) from Chicago... but sometimes you've got to be true to where you're from, otherwise what's the point? Eh?
Look at Gerry an the Pacemakers, right - Marsden's singing about "Ferry Across (sic) the Mersey", which is like where he's from, it's a part of who he is, where he was brung up, it’s a part of his soul, and he's singin about it in this horrible American accent! Why doesn’t he sing in his own? It sounds like some [?yank’s] coming over and is singin about it, and that's taking the Mersey away from the people of Liverpool.
And they're all at it. Like, the Rolling Stones, they're a bunch of bloody posh bloody posers from London, an that prat's singing like he's from bloody Texas. Even Burdon - he's from bloody Walker!(2) I mean, don't get me wrong, [he’s] brilliant - ten times the singer Jagger could ever dream of being. But I don't know. [Inaudible] gone down to London they've gone a bit ponsey, yeh knah? And Price is bloody doylem(3) anyway. Crackin piano player, mind you, but...
Now I used to think that about the Beatles, an all, but like, the last one - is it For Sale? There's a song on it called, er, (sings) Every Little Thing She Does - that's not too obnoxious, accent-wise. I mean, it's not like how they talk normally, but they're not puttin on a bloody crooner voice like they used to when they first started. And it's a [?funny] song. I'd love to do harmonies like theirs but no other bugger in the band can sing!
Ah well you're always going to have limitations, aren't you? I mean, like I said... I'm not as good a singer as Burdon, I'll hold my hands up to that. But I wish we could do more harmonies, yeah. Eddie can sing a bit but he can't sing and play at the same time. Fred. He can't sing. He's like me brother and he's got that beautiful Telecaster, but he can't sing for shite. Jumbo, well... I mean... Frank's a lovely player, though. I mean, really lovely. We had a bloke come through, played at the Fifth Buoy Light(4) - Pete Chilver, jazz player(5). Beautiful sound. Frank was proper [inaudible], he played. Anyroad, he disappeared. Just, eh, stopped playin. And Frank, he found out he'd holed up in Berwick - not Berwick upon Tweed, but another one up by Edinburgh. And he went up there fer, ooh, close to six months. Got Chilver to give him some lessons. That's how dedicated he is to his guitar - we couldn't afford shoes in them days. We had to have a bath in rain water! But Frank, got in the back of a wagon up to Edinburgh, found this poor bugger trying to enjoy his [?retirement], an pestered him, an narked him, made a proper nuisance of himself. and finally, somehow, persuaded, persuaded him to give him a few lessons. And when he come back, he'd lost his job at Storer's(6), and he had even less money than he went up there with, which was nowt. But what a player he come back as. There's no-one around who can touch him as far as I'm concerned. No-one in the north; no-one from Liverpool; no-one from London.
Going back to what you were saying about bands staying true to their roots - how do you see Peoples Mass going about such a thing?
Well... we've got so much wonderful music here in the North East. Hornpipes and Ballads an tha. There's the Blaydon Races and Bobby Shaftoe, and Ma Canny Hinny... [indechipherable] before, but what I'd like to do...
I want to tell people the stories of where I'm from. An I want to tell them in my way. In my voice. An in my bloody accent! I'll tell yer summat else, an all. I got hold of this massive book of songs, ballads, poems an tha. Rhymes of of the Northern Bards(7) it's called. Says it's all the songs of Newcastle, Northumbria, County Durham. So I looked through these songs, ballads poems an tha. You kna what a found? Nowt. Nowt from Seaton Snook. Nowt from Greatham. Nowt even from Hartlepool, and yeh kna they've got more songs about that bloody monkey than Soft Mick! All the stories we've got here. All the people. Timon o the Tees. Kitty Bell's Gate. Look Where Yer Shootin, Jimmy Walls. Not a mention.
[?we’re] gettin' rolled over.
We're always gettin' rolled over. Me mam telt us when she were a lass they was kicked out the house for tuberculosis patients (8). They weren't even asked. Because it's just the Snooks innit. An Wilson's(9) promisin' all this industry and development and housin... Ah mean... I mean, I'm happy it's him an not Baillie Vass (10), like. But I don't see it. Not in Seaton Snook. Them houseboats'll burn before there's a penny spent on us. An' Leadbitter (11) don't care. He'll do his best for the Pools, but nobody cares about the Snooks.
They get all spooked. Spooked by the Snook. The sea. Always. The fret comes in. And yeh hear Jacob Cox's horse skrikin. You know summat's comin'. Yer just wanna get away. Yer can't.
(1) A North East dialect word for a person of colour - especially of African descent. While clearly inappropriate today, it would not have been meant with any malice in 1964
(2) Eric Burdon, singer of The Animals, who formed in Newcastle upon Tyne in the early 1960s. Walker is a suburb of Newcastle.
(3) Alan Price, keyboard player of The Animals. "Doylem", meaning "Idiot", can still be heard in Seaton Carew and Hartlepool today, although almost always shortened to "Doyle".
(4) Fifth Buoy Light was the main popular music venue in Seaton Snook.
(5) Pete Chilver (1924-2008) was a British jazz guitarist, who along with Trinidadian guitarist Lauderic Caton, helped establish the electric guitar in the UK
(6) Ambrose Storer was a popular shopkeeper, serving the folks of Seaton Snook and Seaton Carew.
(7) Rhymes of Northern Bards: being a curious collection of old and new Songs and Poems, Peculiar to the Counties of Newcastle, Northumberland and Durham, was a collection of North Eastern songs edited by John Bell and published by M Angus & Son in 1812. Brallisford's anger might be slightly misplaced here, as in 1812 Seaton Snook was far from being a destination of note, and it is not unreasonable for Bell to have concentrated his efforts on the larger towns further up the coast.
(8) In 1892, residents of Seaton Snook were removed from their homes, which were converted into makeshift hospitals to cope with an outbreak of cholera, rather than tuberculosis.
(9) Harold Wilson, whose Labour Party won the 1964 UK General Election
(10) This is a reference to the losing Conservative leader Sir Alec Douglas-Home, who was given the nickname "Baillie Vass" by the satirical magazine Private Eye. In 1964, the magazine unearthed an article from the Aberdeen Evening Express where, in place of the intended photo of a man mentioned in the article, one Baillie Vass (a baillie being a type of municipal officer in Scotland), was accidentally printed a photo of the Prime Minister, but still with the "Baillie Vass" caption. After that, the Eye insisted on referring to the PM by that name and created a joke conspiracy theory about "Alec Douglas-Home" being an impostor and Baillie Vass his true identity, which they kept up until after his death (Source: TVTropes.org)
(11) Ted Leadbitter, MP for the Hartlepools from 1964-1974, and following the unification of the town, MP for Hartlepool from 1974-1992). As well as being a popular MP, Leadbitter was the person responsible for exposing Anthony Blunt.