The Story Behind the Song: April Fool

Some time in 2017 I was searching through the folders on my computer looking for a particular photograph, when I came across 5 mastered tracks. “What the hell are those?” ran through my head as I clicked to listen. They were 5 songs recorded for Little Big Head I’d promptly thrown away when putting the running order together.

“What was I doing?”, I thought. “These are amazing”.

As previously explained, 2 of the tracks ended up on the b side of our “Kelly’s Gone Insane” single (https://duncanreidandthebigheads.com/2019/06/17/the-story-behind-the-song-kellys-gone-insane/). The other 3 are on the “Little Big Head: 2019 Reissue” as bonus tracks. One of those is “April Fool”.

Unusually for these posts you probably haven’t heard April Fool (unless you already have the reissue of Little Big Head) and usually I wait till the end, having explained the song, to show where you can hear it.

But since you probably don’t know it, here’s a funny video by my good friend Stuart Diggle of the band Litterbug (https://litterbug.bandcamp.com/music) with the song as sound track.

April Fool

So, a simple song about a guy who takes his girlfriend for granted and then doesn’t understand why she’s gone off “with the other guy”. A lot of fun to write, especially the middle 8.

I’d just seen the musical “Jersey Boys” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jersey_Boys) about Franki Valli and the Four Seasons which I really enjoyed. So hints of “Rag Doll” with “Ooh Ahh Oohs”. Compare and contrast with the original for yourself here: It’s a great song:

Rag Doll

Lyrically there’s an interesting story as well. Back when I was in The Boys Honest John Plain (https://www.discogs.com/artist/342569-Honest-John-Plain) was working on a solo album but needed some songs. So he asked me to contribute and play on the record. It was a major moment in my life because, for the first time ever, I found writing easy and enjoyable. I’d written a few songs for The Boys before but it was always a struggle. This time, and who knows why, the songs just flowed. So I played on the record as did Casino Steel and Vom Ritchie (drummer for The Boys at the time). As all the Boys except Matt Dangerfield were there, John had the idea of calling it “The Mattless Boys” which gave us both hours of giggles in the studio. I think the idea was later attributed to me but I can’t take any of the credit for it.

The album turned out to be great, especially due to some stunning guitar playing by Petter Baarli (https://www.facebook.com/petterbaarli/) as you can hear now if you have Spotify:

One of the Songs I contributed is called “Any Old Time” which John loved. And he had written “Romanian Girl” which I, in turn, adored. So we shared writing credits on both as a gift to each other though John had nothing to do with the writing of Any Old Time and I had no hand in Romanian Girl apart from playing bass and harmony vocals.

Romanian Girl is about a time, according to John, when he tried to pick up a girl in a bar who was way more interested in a road digger also vying for her attention. John has always been great at self deprecation.

And so the lines “Never thought I’d be the one to end up, moaning like John Plain ………….writing songs about the girl who’s gone off with the other guy, getting drunk in the pub and wondering why”. It’s a direct reference to the song I love: Romanian Girl by The Mattless Boys.

So here it is: “April Fool”, a song which was nearly confined to the dustbin of history, never to be heard, but which was rescued by a stroke of luck when I opened the wrong computer file eight years later to find it sitting there. Hope you enjoy it as much as me.

“April Fool” appears on “Little Big Head: 2019 Reissue” by Duncan Reid and the Big Heads:

It’s released by those fine people at Cherry Red Records and can be best found here: https://www.cherryred.co.uk/artist/duncan-reid-and-the-big-heads/ as well as Amazon and other locations.

The Story Behind the Song: All Fall Down

I don’t know whether you saw recently but there was a post on Facebook by the singer of Slaughter and the Dogs (https://www.satd.band/) berating his band members for being greedy and unthinking, saying that he was sacking the lot of them and threatening legal action if they used the name.

Now Wayne clearly feels hurt and wronged (I can’t say if that’s reasonable, I wasn’t there) but do you feel that Slaughter and the Dogs fans want to know about this?

It reminded me of the documentary “Don’t You Wish We Were Dead” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Damned:_Don%27t_You_Wish_That_We_Were_Dead) about the Damned. It shows what a fine band they are but, oh, the bickering looks sad and silly.

You see, bands tend to be made up of selfish, egotistical people who live in each others pockets for way too long. Those people are called musicians and to be one you have to have a bit of an ego. Normal, sensible people wouldn’t put themselves through the stress of getting up on stage, especially in the early days when you aren’t any good and the whole exercise is a bit degrading. It takes a bit of thick skinned determination to carry on after a bunch of overweight men in Middlesbrough have just told you “you’re shit”, as happened to me in The Boys after our second gig (mind you, we were shit at that early time, so they were only telling the truth).

In my experience fights within bands are commonplace and always about something stupid. It’s summed up by the best definition I have ever heard of a band manager: “Someone who looks after a bunch of children until they sack him/her”.

And so, with no desire to join the ranks of the immature (but I’m going to anyway), I have never spoken about the circumstances of my leaving The Boys (http://www.theboys.co.uk/). It was a result of the usual mixture of petty stupidity, with blame on all sides and who needs to know about that? I remember sitting with Charlie Harper just afterwards who asked why I’d left. As I was mid explanation, I could see the look of incredulity on his face and felt pretty daft. It really was all nonsense.

It might have been embarrassing foolishness but that didn’t stop it being almightily painful at the same time, and the proof, I believe, can be heard in the song “All Fall Down” from Little Big Head.

Tensions had been building up for a while but in typical Boys fashion we laughed them off. We called a tour of South America the “We All Love Each Other” tour which cracked us up in between the bickering, and helped paper over the cracks. But not for long. During the next tour, in Spain, things boiled over and went past the point of no return.

And so “We all came running home again, to go our separate ways. All left losers in the game, with those who loved and gave us praise”, I.e. you the fans lost out, as well as us in the band.

And “Nothing really lasts forever” although I had previously thought it would. The sense of loss in the song was heightened in the recording by my losing my voice, a result of overwork from singing all lead and backing vocals in too short a time. The fragility of the vocals brings out the hurt, I believe.

But I did get a damn fine song out of it and another on the 2nd album “Not the Kind of Guy Girls Hug” which is also in part about the same subject.

So the pain/hurt/loss lasted a few years, but at about the time of the release of “Bombs Away” I suddenly woke up and thought: “Wow. Look at this! Look at the reaction at these gigs, look at what people are saying about the records, look at the promoters who are ringing me up!”

And for the new (fourth) record (due out later this year or early next for those of you quite reasonably asking where the record is you have already paid for!), we have a song in contention called “Can We Stop Having Fun”. This has the line “I don’t know where I’d be today, without some fisticuffs along the way”.

And that sums it up really. A painful episode leading to a song which is just one of the building blocks behind the most fulfilling part of my career.

Sometimes the worst things just turn out to be for the best.

“All Fall Down” can be heard on the “Little Big Head 2019 Reissue” which is being distributed by those fine people at Cherry Red Records (https://www.cherryred.co.uk/). You can buy it through their Website here: Link to Cherry Red and also on Amazon and all good record stores.

For those of you with Spotify you can hear “All Fall Down ” from the original release here:

And if you don’t have Spotify the song can be heard on our Bandcamp site here: https://duncanreidandthebigheads.bandcamp.com/track/all-fall-down

Quite unexpectedly “All Fall Down” became a cracker of a live song as I believe is evidenced from a performnce at The Lexington (http://www.thelexington.co.uk/) some years ago.

Little Big Head: a Splatterfull 2019 Reissue

So after seven years and 3 repressings we had once again sold out of Little Big Head vinyls and I was scrambling around reclaiming CDs to sell from distributors in Germany and Scandinavia. That is when I came across five tracks on my computer which were recorded at the same sessions back in 2012, discarded and promptly erased from my memory.

I was stunned at what I was hearing. You may think me big headed for saying so but …….. they sounded great!

“I have to get these out”, I thought, “but how?”.

After talking to friends who know about these things I learned that three could be added to the original LP without diminishing the sound quality. But what about the other two? Well that was solved by a chat whith our friends at Crocodile Records. “Kelly’s Gone Insane” has always been one of our most popular tracks and deserved to be a vinyl single.  This was duly organised with unreleased tracks “Pretty Little Rachel” and “Baby Baby” on the b side, making what is now an EP .

I’ve written about the Kelly vinyl here HERE which includes details of where to get it. (The piece also includes the following stunning photograph which the subject of the song, a volatile but funny woman from San Francisco is thoroughly embarrased by. (Oh well. It is annoying to know me):

Kelly 4

And with the other three unreleased tracks the team at Green Square, who did such a fine job with Bombs Away, were commissioned to make a new cover incorporating gig posters from the time which has flown since the Big Heads started, and showing “They’re Dreaming About Me”, “April Fool”, and “They’ve Got it All” as bonus tracks.

My good friend Peter Jones, an Englishman who masquerades as Irish, with an accent thicker than Ed Byrne, Dara O’Briain, and Dave Allen having a very fast conversation together, who plays with Irish chart toppers Paranoid Visions as well as Steve Ignorant, who has the concession for Rebellion tickets in Ireland, promotes shows there and follows the same guilty pleasure as I (not saying what it is), who has almost kept up with Sophie K Powers in a Jaeger drinking race, and who still has time to manufacture vinyls and CDs, was charged with coming up with the most revolting looking vinyl in the history of vinyl.

He didn’t let us down.

So here it is. An improved version of the record which started it. The result of my tutelage at the knee of the master of the shed, Tony Barber, and a testament to great friends who helped me on my journey at a time of great uncertainty, like Vom RitchieJames Stevenson and David Apps

What strikes me now, listening all these years later is, while we have moved on and our sound become much harder edged, it is a record of great charm. Both visually and aurally I tried to get away from the ubiquitous black leather jacket/hoodie/Les Paul and Marshall amp look and sound (though all of those are popular because they look and sound so good).

The result is a collection of melodic songs with thoughtful lyrics allied to interesting arrangements, provoked and enhanced by Tony Barber. As I say: charming.

I’ll be writing about individual tracks in the weeks and months to come and we have a video to share of “April Fool”.

In the meantime our friends at that excellent establishment, Cherry Red are once more distributing the record and the best place to buy it is through their website here: https://www.cherryred.co.uk/artist/duncan-reid-and-the-big-heads/ (though you’ll also find it on Amazon etc).