Great Boxers From Wales # 6 Tommy Farr

Tommy Farr
The Tonypandy Terror
(1913- 1986)
Clydach Vale
Total fights 126 Won 81 (24) Lost 30 Drawn 13 No contests 2
 In the 94 years that separated the reigns of Bob Fitzsimmons and Lennox Lewis no one came closer to bringing the World Heavyweight Championship to Britain than Tommy Farr.
 On August 30th 1937 at New York's Yankee stadium Farr took Joe Louis the distance but lost on points.
It was an unpopular decision, roundly booed by the crowd of 50,000 at the stadium, and still hotly disputed seventy years on.
One  wet Saturday night shortly after Mr Farr died I was watching a re run of the fight on a TV through the window of a chip shop .  An old man in a colourless raincoat and flat cap, doubtless one of the thousands of my countrymen who had listened to the fight on the 'wireless' nearly half a century before, paused to  give the screen a cursory glance, and hurrying on, to save me the bother of having to watch, said, still smarting from disappointment,  'he loses, you know...'


Eye for a bargain!

 Reeling from the news that  poor numeracy skills have a devastating effect on many people's lives I headed off to my local M&S naturally concerned that my repeated unsuccessful efforts at CSE maths back in 1981 and 1982 really were holding me back in some way. Not so! I was able to appreciate that by buying 2 tins of the veg curry I could save MINUS 82 pence.


Jake Thackray

Jake Thackray, often to be seen on TV back in the 60's , was the closest that England had to a chansonnier. Described as a wit to rival Noel Coward and influencing artists as diverse as Morrissey, Victoria Wood and The Arctic Monkeys, he was Yorkshire's very own Georges Brassens.

Here is the the tracklisting for  Ideal and here is the the tracklisting for The Very Best of...

A tribute by Momus can be read here.
Thanks to Jimmie for steering me towards this.


Great Boxers From Wales # 5 Gipsy Daniels

Daniels (right) with Schmeling.
Gipsy Daniels
(William Daniel)
Light Heavyweight
Total fights 141 Won 86 (33) Losses 43 Draws 12

When Billy Daniels allowed himself to be promoted in the USA as 'Gipsy' he aroused the disapproval of his father (a former Welsh rugby international) , who felt that the family reputation was being tarnished.
Daniel, who briefly held the British and Empire Light- heavyweight title in 1927, did not achieve the heights that the other boxers in this selection did, but his record does include one remarkable victory. In February 1928 he achieved a first round ko of Max Schmeling in Frankfurt.


Help- A Charity Project for the Children of Bosnia (1995)

The nineties passed me by in a haze. I have vague memories of drunkenly watching the nightmare of the wars in the former Yugoslavia on Newsnight . I knew I was living through a period of significant change, but it just wasn't sinking in. For example I have no recollection whatsoever of the collapse of the Soviet Union. The moon could have gone out and I wouldn't have noticed.
This record stirs some memories of watching Trainspotting on video and taking increasing amounts of alcohol fuelled sick leave.
I think that the original had no tracklisting because it was hurriedly  recorded and  released?
Anyway, I found this in a charity shop this week. No idea what happened to my original copy. I probably left it in that strange and inhospitable country- the past.


Conductors- new album out soon!

Thanks to Aled for letting us know that Conductors will be bringing out a new album in late March. It's called Dim Problem and will be released by Death Monkey Records.
 A new song, Death From Above  is available on the Myspace page now.


Great Boxers From Wales # 4- Jimmy Wilde

Jimmy Wilde
The Ghost With A Hammer In His Hand
(1892- 1969)
Pentwyn Deintyr (Quakers Yard)
Total fights 152 Won 137 (100) Lost 4 Drawn 2 No contests 8
World Flyweight Champion 1916- 1917

The tiny Jimmy Wilde didn't even have to take off his overcoat for weigh ins. At 5'2" and  84lbs he was one of the greatest pound for pound punchers  in the history of the prize ring. His ratio of wins by knock out was extremely high, and in 2003 he was placed at 3 on the Ring Magazine's 100 Greatest Punchers list.
Wilde was hardened by work in the pit and  the fairground boxing booths. He estimated that if these early fairground bouts were taken into account he had fought over 800 times in his career.


La chanson de Jacky

Brel, Walker, Shuman, Momus (Currie), Almond

Etre une heure, une heure seulement
Etre une heure, une heure quelquefois
Etre une heure, rien qu'une heure durant
Beau, beau, beau et con à la fois
Jacques Brel (1929-1978)

If I could be for only an hour
If I could be for an hour every day
If I could be for just one little hour
Cute in a stupid ass way
Mort Shuman (1936-1991)

If I could be him! For only an hour
If I could be him! Before his grand finale
If I could be me, if I could only be cute, cute, cute, absolutely banal!
Nick Currie (b.1960)

five versions here:

Jacques Brel -La chanson de Jacky (1965)
Mort Shuman &Wolfgang Knittel- Jackie-from Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris
Scott Walker-Jackie-1967 (appears on Scott 2 LP, 1968)
Momus- Nicky (1986) 
Marc Almond -Jacky (appears on The Tenement Symphony LP,1991)

Bumper Burning Aquarium trivia points to anyone who can give me the connection between this song and our previous post, which was on Jules Bonnot.


Jules Bonnot

We'll burn off our last round against the cops, and if they don't care to come, we'll certainly know how to find them...

Jules Bonnot made this statement in an interview he gave to
Le Petit Parisien. At the time he was one of France's most wanted men, but he had the audacity to walk into the offices of the newspaper and place his pistol on the desk as he registered his complaint about the way in which the exploits of his gang were being covered in the press. His act of bravado led to a moral panic and also to his being identified as the 'leader' of the Auto Bandits .

Auto bandits? When Jules Bonnot and his accomplices stole 5,000 F from
a messenger of the Société Générale bank in Paris on 21st December 1911 they used a getaway car- the first recorded instance of this ruse being employed.
The police , having no cars at their disposal, were at a serious disadvantage. The public, in the grip of an Anarchist Scare, were alarmed by the audacity of the criminals.

On the morning of April 28th 1912, police tracked Bonnot (now France's "most wanted"; he had killed a senior police officer a few days before) to the Paris suburb of Choisy-le-Roi. With a force of 500 armed men (police officers, soldiers of the Republican Guard, and bourgeois volunteers) they besieged the house in which the sick and wounded Bonnot was holed up, and called up the artillery and a machine gun detachment. Armed with three Brownings and a Bayard pistol, Bonnot held out, shooting three officers during the morning.
By noon the exasperated Police Chief, struggling to coordinate the efforts of the diverse forces at his disposal ordered that military engineers should use dynamite to demolish the front of the house . Bonnot survived the blast and was found lying underneath a mattress. The cops shot him about a dozen times, but he was still alive when they carried him out of the building. He died in hospital that afternoon.
 By the time the siege reached its dénouement a crowd of thousands of spectators had gathered . Where their sympathies lay can be judged from the way in which the corpse of Jean Dubois, who had given Bonnot a hiding place and was killed at the outset of the siege, was later mistreated by the crowd.

Italian writer Pino Cacucci (b 1955) in his fictionalised account of Bonnot's life, Without A Glimmer Of Remorse, has Bonnot employed as a chauffeur by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  In this page turner Bonnot speaks fluent English, and  drinks cognac and smokes cigars with Conan Doyle in the author's study. Later he demonstrates his marksmanship to his employer at a private gun club.
So, was Jules Bonnot ever employed as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's chauffeur?
The unlikely story is often accepted as fact.
If, as Bonnot's earlier biographer Richard Parry holds, this episode  is no more than  an apocryphal tale , what are it's origins? It appears to be based entirely on a story recalled by Edmond Locard ,the criminologist who was known as The French Sherlock Holmes. He related a story of Conan Doyle viewing Forensic archives at Lyon in the 1920's and, on seeing a picture of Bonnot, exclaiming Mais c'est Jules, mon ancien chauffeur !

 Here are some links to online texts relating to Bonnot :
Richard Parry

Richard Parry

Ezra Brett Mell

French Sherlock Holmes Society


Kevin Rowland - My Beauty (1999)

Kevin Rowland's second solo Album followed an 11 year hiatus during which he experienced drug problems.

1. Greatest Love of All
2. Rag Doll
3. Concrete and Clay
4. Daydream Believer
5. This Guy's in Love with You
6. The Long and Winding Road
7. It's Getting Better
8. I Can't Tell the Bottom from the Top
9. Labelled With Love (I'll Stay With My Dreams)
10. Reflections of My Life
11. You'll Never Walk Alone

Rowland - as singer and songwriter with Dexys Midnight Runners - gave us some of the great pop moments. From the bolshy vision of Searching for the Young Soul Rebels through the celtic-gumbo of Too-Rye-Ay and '85's neglected masterpiece, Don't Stand Me Down, his is a towering contribution to British music, both visually and musically.
Paul Moody Uncut, March 2007

I said to Alan McGee ... I'd really like to do this record of cover versions of songs that I really like that mean a lot to me at this time. And he said "Yeah, great idea" so we did that and that took I think two years and it came out. And then three months later Creation went down and that was the end of that one. Good record...
 Kevin Rowland, 2010. Full interview here.

It's GENIUS! Rowland is a genius! I've always said I liked that record. Look, the record should have been a million-seller. It's just people's problem with a guy in stockings on the cover that stopped them buying it. But if you just put it on your iPod it's a work of genius.
 Alan McGee, The Guardian, 21. 09.10


A 12th number, a reworking of Thunder Road, was excluded from the album following objections from Bruce Springsteen- thanks to Bubba for providing a link to this 'missing' track- see comments.


Great Boxers From Wales # 3- Freddie Welsh

Freddie Welsh
(Frederick Hall Thomas)
(1886- 1927)
Total fights 166 Won 78 (32) Lost 5 Drawn 7 No Contest 81
World Lightweight Champion 1914-1917
When I think of the size of our little country, and then think again how small that portion of it is that we call South Wales, I am lost in wonderment and filled with pride at the recollection of the things that have been done by the men of our race.

Freddie Welsh's fascinating life story is well worth a browse. Being middle-class and privately educated he didn't conform to the stereotypes of the boxing world, and was one of the few vegetarian world boxing champions. He began his career in the USA.


Dexys Midnight Runners-Searching for the Young Soul Rebels (1980) Dance Stance (1979)


We didn't want to become part of anyone else's movement. We'd rather be our own movement.

Kevin Rowland
Kevin "Al" Archer - guitar, vocals,
Kevin Rowland - bass, guitar, piano, vocals
Geoffrey Blythe- horn. saxophone
Andy Leek - organ
"Big" Jim Paterson - trombone
Peter Saunders -organ
Steve Spooner - horn, alto saxophone
Mick Talbot - keyboards
Pete Williams - bass
Andy Growcott - drums

Before they came up with the singalong Celtic Gypsy style Dexys had a hard edged, Northern Soul influenced sound with a fantastic brass section and a no-nonsense proletarian image.

Their first single, Dance Stance, reappeared on the LP as Burn It Down, lengthened by a radio collage intro.
Here's the original 7" single mix.