I seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time watching prog rock bands when I was a reviewer at Music Week. Jethro Tull, The Nice, King Crimson, Yes, Emerson Lake & Palmer.
People stabbing Hammond Organs, men wearing long flowing dresses, drum solos that went on for days. You’d have to pay me to go.
Unfortunately, Music Week did pay me, so I went.
One review in particular got me into terrible trouble. I described Greenslade as “music to throw yourself off the balcony to”. The press officer at their record company had specifically leaned on me to see the band. But she hadn’t told me she was carrying on a torrid love affair with one of them.
She cried real tears when she read my review. I know she did, because she marched down to the Music Week offices and cried, right in front of me.
Her bosses weren’t best pleased either. Nor was her lover. Ah well.
The thing was, still is, I’m about songs, and prog was never about the songs. It was about young music students showing off their cleverness in tattered jeans and flowery scarves.
(A propos of nothing, Ian Anderson, flautist and singer of Tull, was reputed to wear his jeans 24 hours a day until they just fell off. That raises a lot of hygiene-related questions. Bathing? Sex? Toilet? Sleep? I do hope it was just a rumour.)
I did, though, discover something quite interesting during this period. The sheer volume of a band you’re not enjoying will put you to sleep. So that was handy.
There is no chance of going to sleep watching Wojtek Godzisz.
Oh, did I not say? I went to a gig recently.
I know! Still going out at my age.
It was local, and the pop star who lives in my house was performing. So no gold star for me.
There were three other acts on the bill and one of them was wearing a Jethro Tull t-shirt. My friend Alison pointed it out and said, “Do you think we should be worried about that?”
Unequivocally, with hindsight, the answer is a resounding, “No!”
The minute Wojtek Godzisz (I don’t know; probably as it reads?) opened his mouth I was hooked. Which is surprising. I was never much of a Tull fan. But then Wojtek Godzisz is not Jethro Tull.
At one point, as he held a glass-shattering note for about 20 seconds, Alison turned around and said, “That boy’s got no fillings”. And indeed you could – such is his full-bodied commitment to performance – see the entire inside of Wojtek’s mouth. At times like that a lack of fillings is a definite plus.
Alison’s husband Arnaldo is from Cuba. Given my devotion to The Buena Vista Social Club and its various offshoots, it’s a bit of a surprise to meet an actual Cuban who dismisses them as “old music”.
Arnaldo, in fact, grew up with Led Zeppelin and heavy metal. Of course, this was decadent western culture, and therefore not really allowed. But that’s what happens when you ban stuff. People want it.
It’s always funny to see the look on grownup faces when Arnaldo gets down with the fourteen year olds on Spotify, rocking out to AC/DC or Metallica.
And he was definitely rocking out to Wojtek Godzisz. Wojtek is some sort of cross between Led Zeppelin, Fairport Convention and any combination of heavy metal bands you could think of. Not my usual cuppa at all.
But the guy is such a consummate performer, accomplished musician and take-no-prisoners singer, it would be rude not to enjoy him as he so obviously enjoys himself.
In case you’ve ever heard of them, he was previously in a band called Symposium, referred to as ‘punk pop’. I think I get that.
But Wojtek’s solo stuff seems to be rooted in Olde England paganism.
Honestly, if you asked me to go and see a heavy metal folkie singing about wassailing and magic, I’d probably tell you I was busy that night. Got to wash my hair; or lard the cat’s boils.
But I’m telling you, if you see the name Wojtek Godzisz (forget the pronunciation, just remember the letters) at a music venue near you, go. Just go. All your prejudices will fall away as mine did, and you will almost certainly hand over a tenner at the end of the night to take home a cd.
I did. And I bought one for Arnaldo as well. Rock on, Arnaldo!