Last weekend had long been reserved in Not Unloved's calendar for The Big Stramash so it was a real disappointment when it was postponed, no doubt due to a waterlogged pitch (this being Scotland after all!). The Wee Stramash that took its place on Friday night, however, still featured at least one band worth zipping along the M8 for: The Higher State. Any group featuring former members of The Embrooks and The Mystreated had to be worth a peek and so it proved. With the young Ray Davies on bass (or was it Richard or Thomas Frost?) and a Carnaby St. croupier on drums (former Embrook, Mole) they chimed and jangled their way through a dozen or so 60s rooted pop winners that got the winklepickers tapping and cheered the soul. Their friend and label-mate Paul Messis stood to their left manning the merchandising boutique, swaying and looking for all the world like a young Chris Montez at his most dapper. I left with 3 of his singles as well as The Higher State's most recent cd. It's particularly pleasing to finally have this perky slice of period perfect jangle on 7" vinyl after having enjoyed the YouTube clip for so long:
Inexplicably, the two local groups who supported, Uncle Dad and the even worse named Dick Dangerous and The Love Bastards, seemed to find more favour with the local audience. Both were less easy on the eye than The Higher State - a bearded saxophonist in black three quarter length cargo pants is never acceptable - and considerably rawer. Still, the singer from Dick D did sport eyebrows like little orbit quiffs and Uncle Dad did serviceable rawhide renditions of songs by The Cramps and The Honeycombs and it's always a treat to see people actually dancing while groups are playing. The only real down-side of the evening was spotting on a discarded setlist that The Higher State had been planning to end on Southwest F.O.B.'s timeless "The Smell of Incense" but couldn't due to the organisers calling time. I'm sure that would've been quite something.