Wednesday, 30 November 2016
Saturday Gigs - A Tribute to Dale 'Buffin' Griffin
At one time, and it may still be the case, Dale Griffin held the honour of having produced the most Peel sessions for Radio 1. Or did I make that up? Well, he certainly produced in excess of 2,000 sessions for that influential and must-listen-to show presented by John Peel. Acts, bands and artists whose sessions – many of which would’ve been their gateway to a wider audience – included the Pixies, Nirvana, the Smiths, Ride, Primal Scream, Jesus & Mary Chain, Pulp, OMD and so many, many more.
Sir Dale, as he surely should’ve become, produced a couple of hit records too: ‘Is Vic There’ by Department S probably the biggest and most famous-est (and included on this tribute mix).
But before all of that he was known to the world as the drummer of Mott the Hoople. After paying dues and learning his trade with the usual school bands and sixties beat groups, he was a founding member in 1969 of a band that would have several hit records, get rock music acts banned from the Royal Albert Hall, become the first band to play live on Broadway but, maybe more importantly once the final history of rock n roll is told, they became extremely influential.
That influence goes beyond the music as well. Their attitude, swagger, honesty and normal-ness just oozed and immersed so many of us listeners. A lot of whom would go on to become drummers, singers, guitarists and so on in bands around the world. Some would make it to the local pub scene, others would hit the big time. And in many ways, Buffin was responsible for so much of this.
Once the band folded it was he that cajoled record companies to part with tapes to be re-mixed and re-packaged, ensuring the music was preserved and that anecdotes and tales were told in the sleeve notes in such an entertaining, amusing and informative way. Amongst all this backward glancing and historical cataloguing was the bio from Campbell Devine and the 3 CD Box set from CBS., a project Dale was heavily involved with.
That cajoling started with the single ‘Saturday Gigs’. Legend has it Buffin was keen that, IF Mott the Hoople were going to fold, then they ought to sign off with something more appropriate than ‘Foxy, Foxy’. If all that is true I am so glad he did, as the bands last single was a fine finale. Although not a (big) hit, John Peel (him again) did name it ‘Record of the Week’ in Sounds (a music paper of the day) and it did well in the Capital Radio daily requests charts.
The version that ends this collection is taken from the re-mastered 3-CD box-set collection mentioned above, as are the other two MTH tracks provided. I hope you enjoy it and, if you’re not familar with the bands’ work beyond the hits, that it might encourage you to investigate them further.
Finally, although I didn’t know Dale personally, I did have the pleasure and privilege of some email correspondence with him. During which he revealed himself to be a warm, friendly, engaging, amusing, informative, honest and generous bloke.
And he’s still my most favourite-est drummer. Ever.
Track Listing and Details:
1. Shame, Shame, Shame by The Silence.
Taken from the album Shotgun Eyes.
Recorded in 1990, the sleeve notes reveal that Dale Griffin was the driving force behind getting this record made. Of course, he plays drums and is involved in production too!
Available from Angel Air Records.
Read a review here >
2. Rock and Roll Queen by Mott the Hoople.
From the album All The Young Dudes - The Anthology: Disc 1 The Twilight of Pain Through Doubt.
Originally found on the bands Island debut 'Mott the Hoople' in 1969, this track survived and appeared on the last live set-lists. It highlights the energetic, frantic yet melodic drumming of Buffin wonderfully I feel.
3. Lounge Lizard by Mott the Hoople.
From the album All The Young Dudes - The Anthology: Disc 3 Blistered Psalms.
This is a demo essentially. Luther Grosvenor (Ariel Bender) had just left Mott the Hoople and appeared to signal the end of the band. However, Mick Ronson was signed-up as a replacement, a tour was on the horizon and some tracks were recorded. This was one of them and originally slated as B-side to 'Saturday Gigs'. It just shows us how fantastic this line-up would have been and you can see the smile on Buffin's face as he smashes out the beats to this one. Of course, the tour didn't happen and this track eventually found its way onto Ian Hunters debut album the following year.
4. Is Vic There? by Department S.
A hit single from 1981 (although originally released in 1980). Produced by Dale Griffin and Pete Watts, this is included in this collection as a tribute to Dale's production achievements as this is a track that most people around at the time would still re-call if you jogged their memory. I have no proof but wouldn't be at all surprised if Dale also produced their 3rd December Peel Session too?
5. It Takes One To Know One by Mott.
From the album Drive On.
Following the departure of Hunter and Ronson, the remaining members of Mott the Hoople reformed as Mott and, to fulfil contracts and so on, recorded another couple of albums. Drive On was the first. This album features some great drumming from Buffin (particularly on The Great White Wail). This track is included as its from the pen of our hero. Some great, witty lyrics too (a pointer to those later sleeve notes)!
6. Saturday Gigs by Mott the Hoople.
From the album All The Young Dudes - The Anthology: Disc 2 Temptations of the Flash.
We have this wonderful track thanks to the prompting of Dale Griffin. He felt, rightly as it turns out, that 'Foxy Foxy' really shouldn't be seen by history as the final testament to Mott the Hoople. That whatever happened with the band as a unit, something better should be put out there. Hunter duly delivered this wonderful ode to the whole affair. Ronson delivers some marvellous guitar work too. Despite John Peel making it his Record of the Week in Sounds it didn't quite make THE Top 40 (reached 41 in fact!). Brilliant, brilliant song and recording and, as Dale Griffin wished, a fitting finale to a wonderful band.
"...thanks for the great trip..."