MAR 99] THE BLACKROOM
Hi and welcome to the blackroom. My name
is Pauline Black, lead vocalist with The Selecter.
My week started with a surprise last Sunday 28 February. Early in the morning I had a
phone call from a very good friend of mine, Pick Withers, who was the
original drummer in Dire Straits. He left Dire Straits back in the late
eighties and is currently drumming with Dr Hook. He invited me over to
the gig they were playing that night at the Bedworth Civic Hall.
Now Dr Hook were always one of my favourite bands since I first discovered them in the
early 80s, so I couldnt possibly pass up the chance to see the great Denis
Locorriere sing hits like Sylvias Mothers Said
and The Ballad of Lucy Jordan.
But as luck would have it, Denis Locorriere is also a very, very nice man and when
asked if he would do a short interview for the blackroom, after they had
finished soundchecking, he immediately said yes and next thing I knew, I was whisked off
for tea and sandwiches in his dressing room. Find out what he had to say in The
Story So Far and a review of the gig in Bands 2C.
Bands2C : Dr Hook
@ Bedworth Civic Hall, 28 February
Dr Hook was an American country rock band, originally named Dr
Hook and The Medicine Show.
Formed in New Jersey in 1968, the original members included Roy Sawyer,
Dennis Locorriere, Bill Francis, John David
and George Cummings.
They came to prominence with material written by Shel Silverstein and
the craziness of their stage show transferred to records well, reaching its peak
with the mega-hit The Cover Of The Rolling Stone in 1972.
Then they mellowed in style and their main chart hits tended to be ballads as the decade
By 1985, Sawyer and Locorriere went their separate ways and Dr Hook
was no more. Sawyer revived the band later, but apparently has trouble
singing the songs as well as Locorriere. Now Locorriere wants to re-dress the balance and
is trying to revive the tarnished reputation that Sawyer has established
for Dr Hook.
This present incarnation of Dr Hook is basically a mini super-group.
The line-up includes Pick Withers (ex-Dire Straits, Bob Dylan) drums, Benny
Gallagher (Gallagher & Lyle) bass, Mike Bell (Albert Lee
band) keyboards, Rod Smarr (Dr Hook and Dolly Parton) guitar and the
brilliant other half of the Dr Hook partnership (ie the man without the eye-patch!) Denis
The show kicked off promptly at 8pm. Benny Gallagher did a solo spot
on guitar for 20 minutes as a warm-up to the main event. Looking splendid in a jet-black
suit, with only an acoustic guitar, his voice and self-penned songs for company,
he entertained with an easy style and grace; finally giving the audience what they wanted
with a lovely rendition of an old Gallagher and Lyle hit, Heart
on Your Sleeve.
Next up was the voice of Dr Hook as Denis Locorierre was
billed. As soon as he opened his mouth to sing, he had the audience eating out of his
hand. The band was rock solid; smoothly taking us on the journey of Dr Hooks major
hits, like Ballad Of Lucy Jordan, Sexy
Eyes, When Youre In Love With A Beautiful Woman
and Queen Of The Silver Dollar. Some of the new material from
his current Love Songs album was lyrically not up to the
standard of the old stuff, but nonetheless, it was patiently listened to by the audience
Few singers can take a song and make it live for the few minutes that it lasts, but
Denis Locorierre must surely be ranked among those few. By the time he had sung Sylvias
Mother Said, alone with just his acoustic guitar, you knew that you were in
the presence of a great performer. The sweetness of his high notes laced with the whisky
rasp of his lower register allowed him to inhabit even the most banal of lyrics.
This coupled with the fact that he knows how to talk to an audience made for a great
evening, even if it was largely nostalgia.
Heres what Denis Locorierre had to say to me before the show:
The Story So
Q What is that makes Dr Hook so successful after nearly 30
years in the business?
A Do you know that I like to think that we just pick good songs,
whether we wrote them or we found them or somebody wrote them for us. You know, we just
may have done the right thing, because it comes back around so many times. And I see the
audience out here now, its people bringing their children and its like we have
a whole new audience and its like it just keeps going on. Its unbelievable. I
mean Im so surprised. I wasnt sure who would be here this time. Its
everybody and their kids.
you think that the current favourite boy-band 911, having a No.1 hit with A Little
Bit More has introduced a whole new audience to your material?
I dont know, because I
dont know whether the people who like 911 would come and see me. But I think that
certainly they called attention to the song and if nothing else theyve kinda woke my
old audience up, because people are coming to hear the original now. Theyve turned
it into something original, when it was just a song. And I think that they did a good job
of it too, because they kept it pretty much the same in terms of melody and nuance,
perhaps its a little quicker, so you can dance to it, but I think its great to
have a no.1 record these days. When I first got here, people were saying you have a no.1,
but I thought like, well, it isnt me. Its like betting on a horse and 30 years
later it runs by again. Its just nice to know that youve done something right.
not the first time one of Dr Hooks songs has been covered. Marianne Faithfull did a
stunning version of Ballad Of Lucy Jordan on her Broken English album in the
eighties. Did you ever meet her?
I met Marianne Faithful on Top Of The Pops and I asked her
where shed heard the song and she said, I bought your record, silly and
I thought of course. You just dont end up thinking like that. She told me about the
night that Mick and her came to The Rainbow in London to see us, and I thought yeah, you
just never know whos going to be out there. You live in a nice little isolated
world, when youre on the road and you just dont know whats going on
this tour part of a world-wide tour?
Hopefully. You know I want this tour to be a means to an end.
I dont want to come back and get back into the 70s thing and please remember
me; although I am doing a lot of old songs tonight. Last time I toured I did a lot of new
things, because I like to find out what the people think of the new material. Obviously I
know they like the old ones, because they keep buying them. Im hoping that this will
re-introduce to me to a lot of people who know me already.
Ive had a strange career, because Ive sung a lot of
songs that people know, but we had the guy in the band who had the eye-patch and a lot of
people close their eyes and see him while Im singing. And hes been touring,
because Ive been out of the picture for the last 10 or 15 years and people see him
and expect when they go to see him that its going to be the original band, or
Im going to be there. So I just wanted everybody to know that Im still alive
and still have a pulse, plus all my hair and teeth and Ive come back to reclaim a
I wasnt sure who was going to be here, but the audiences
have been sell-outs or damn near close to sell-outs, so Im just thrilled. And they
dont seem like theyre just coming back to recapture the past. I have a theory
and I might be wrong, but a lot of the audiences we had in the 70s went on and had
children, lives and families and devoted all their time to that. Now some of the children
are a little older and less of responsibility to them, so theyre looking around
saying okay whats entertaining to me. And theyre back and theyre
bringing those kids and you know I really think thats why Paul McCartney had a good
year last year and James Taylor, because I think that baby boom generation
just want to be entertained and we are still here to entertain them.
had a long songwriting partnership with Shel Silverstein. What makes that relationship so
Silverstein is such a wonderful writer. He actually made that phone call featured in the
song Sylvias Mother Said and he was told that Im sorry
shes getting married and you cant speak to her, because it will upset
Shel is just such a great story teller and
when I was just a young guy of 19, 20 years old and was given his songs to sing, he gave
me stories to tell, not just a song that will go by later on, but a story that you could
always tell, so he gave me things that are timeless - stories that dont seem to date.
In particular he gave me The Ballad
of Lucy Jordan. And Marianne Faithfulls version, well my God she sounded like
Lucy Jordan. When I sang it, I was just telling the story of this woman, but when she sang
it, with that voice, she sounded as though she was up there on the roof. It was a nice
match I thought.
you ever get your picture on the cover of the Rolling Stone?
Yeah! But it was a cartoon,
because I dont think we had any photos of us back then and it said "Whats their names make the cover" - they didnt even bother putting the name of the band on it.
I think their plan was just to get us famous and over with. But it was another great Shel
He called us and said "How would you
like to get on the cover of the Rolling Stone?" and we thought "what do we have
to do" and he said write this down and we wrote down the lyrics and sang it that
night. It was just a great song for the time, because it poked fun at so many of things
that other people were taking seriously.
We always said that we like to take a
sacred cow and turn it into hamburger. So many people were taking themselves so seriously.
We took what we did seriously, but not ourselves. God we were a bar band who were lucky
enough to have international success, but we never thought that we were any more than an
internationally successful bar band.
So to sing things like, "Ive got
my poor old grey haired daddy driving my limousine" and things like that, well we
thought that was funny. We had one big rock star come up to us and say, "Thats
about me isnt it?" really seriously. Just like Spinal Tap, but that was a film.
A lot of people thought that was a real documentary. People thought that we were really
living that life, but we were just poking fun at those who were.
are you planning after this series of dates?
After 54 shows in a little over
two months, Ill be lying down for a little while! Im hoping this tour will be
a means to an end. I dont have to teach a new audience anything, I just have to
remind them that weve known each other for a long time. The good thing about the Dr
Hook Love Songs album is that as well as the 17 old songs Im singing,
theyve let me put three new songs on it as Dennis Lacorriere, the voice of Dr Hook.
Somebody reviewed it and said a tad
emphatic The voice of Dr Hook, but Im having to say that now, because
Im not the face or eye-patch of Dr Hook.
But with the three new songs on there, one
of them is now becoming a single, Im hoping that I can come back with a solo album,
because weve recorded a lot of things in the last year or two. Id like to get
that out there again. Id like this to be the beginning of something, not necessarily
me, milking the end of my career for as long as it will run, cos Ill stay home
before Ill be on the super seventies tour.
I love it when people come up to me and
really reminded me of my childhood", but I really do hope that theres a future to
it and its not just reminding us of who we were, because were all okay now
too. You know I think Id like to convey that as much as anything, because you dont
just have to pine for the past. We can still all roll on from here.
Dr Hook Interview @ Bedworth Civic Hall, Sunday 28 February 1999
Behind The Scenes
Last week I promised you a sneak behind the scenes of The Selecters
life on the road, during our gig in Paris scheduled for Saturday 6 March.
Well, unfortunately our keyboard player fell over (no he wasnt drunk at the
time!!) and chipped a bone in his foot, so he cant gig for a few
weeks. So youll have to wait for the next instalment. Still it gives me plenty of
time to get out and see new local bands!
The Selecter are playing The Foundry in Birmingham on
Thats it for this week. My thanks to Martin Nike for emailing me
with info about a new band Endless Knot, that he thought I might enjoy.
Bands 2C this coming week are Boiling Peter Bread,
Prole Position and Endless Knot; plus an interview with
ex-Specials, ex Fun Boy Three, Coventry star Neville Staples for The Story So Far
See you out and about somewhere!
E-mail me on firstname.lastname@example.org with your
opinions and questions, which will be answered on these pages.
ALSO THIS WEEK: EMPIRE MAYDE