Saturday, 31 August 2013

Spookys on the Radio

Would you trust these men with your delicate lugholes and your BBC Licence money?  Rest assured they are out there somewhere, up to no good, but hopefully at a safe distance, but imagine the excitement for the Spooky fraternity when these marvelous chaps appeared on national radio not once, but twice in the same week!

First was their ground breaking performance on Radio 2's Folk Show hosted by Mark Radcliffe on Wednesday 14 Aug 2013.  The show notes can be found on the programme's BBC website but the replay facility has now lapsed.  (But read on . . .)

Next up, the very next day, the blokes performed on the In Tune show on Radio 3 and were interviewed Suzy Klein who mentions the "beautifully named" Magnificent AK47, thanks to our friends Nigel and Katie Holt, and acknowledged that "men who need to sing, can find a space in the UK to do so" - heart warming stuff.

Sad to say that the iPlayer no longer has the programmes but maybe you might find something of interest here.  Listen out for mention of The Magnificents at around 17:30 on the In Tune recording.

Friday, 30 August 2013

A little more about "A Taste of The Magnificent AK47" CD

Who would have thought it would come to this at the 2008 Ashton Keynes Music Festival when a motley crew of mainly villagers or unfortunate visiting relatives were coerced along to that very first Sing Like a Bloke workshop?  Well, since then the motley crew has eventually gone on from strength to strength, sailing the high seas of silliness and ploughing a furrow of sheer exuberance of singing low whilst wearing many hats.

So, there it is, “A Taste of The Magnificent AK47” our first proper(ish) CD that makes us almost sound like proper singers!  We hope you enjoy it as much as we have making it.  And to help you enjoy it, here are some of the sleeve notes that were prepared but we couldn't use this time round*.

The Vly - Imagine our excitement when “The Turnip Hoer’s Song” was unearthed by DR Sweeney, a song about our very own Wiltshire homeland.  The man himself can be heard at the beginning of the track reading a scene setting piece by another hero of ours, local writer Alfred Williams, the “Hammerman Poet”, before being rudely interrupted by a hearty rendition from the blokes.

Shed – A piece that we first learnt at BlokeFest 2012, written especially for the event by the wonderful Roger Jackson who captured the Blokey vibe perfectly with plaintive lyrics about modern manfolk’s tribulations and deceptively clever music with many intentionally tricky harmonies.  A third verse was added by our very own Mr Willoughby to explore the theme of man’s inner sanctum at the bottom of the garden.

And I Love Her – A regular performance favourite with heartfelt dedications to the ladies in our lives, captured here in one pristine take.  The arrangement was lent to us by the marvellous Mr Taberner, the Spookmeister himself, and we have tried to take very good care of it, as you can hear.

Unsung Heroes No. 10 – This charming and witty ditty was concocted by our very own Choirmeister Mr Samuel.  Inspired by the combination of our links with Stroud Brewery, one of their finest ales, and a fantastic inventor from around those parts, he penned this entertaining and educative ode to one of many unsung heroes – listen and learn.

Delilah – The unofficial Welsh anthem via Western Australia and an arrangement from Ryan “Lightpole” Morrison of the Spooky Men’s Chorale.  First learnt at BlokeFest 2012 and one of our firm favourites ever since, especially as we get to wear beards to sing it!

Land Shanty – We have been known to enjoy the occasional Sea Shanty and the opportunity to dress up as Pirates, but Mr Samuel thought it strange, us being from a land locked county, so he was prompted to unleash his inner minstrel and write this humdinger of an ode, full tales of high jinks on the choppy waves of the local Cotswold Water Park.

BlokeScape – A highlight of BlokeFest 2013 was the Saturday Night Cabaret in which a bloke suggested doing a “soundscape” – later in the pub a certain gentleman was inspired by seeing a row of chaps proudly wearing their BlokeFest T-Shirts to start singing “Bloke, Bloke, Bloke” which then lead to 5 minutes of sonic mayhem where odd ideas and musical themes were spontaneously explored, all of which we attempted to reproduce in another single take capturing a unique moment in the canon of BlokeSong.

With thanks to . . .
. . . Nick Beere of Mooncalf Studios for having so many blokes in his studio all together and coping with our special needs
. . . Chris (“Call me picky”) Samuel, our beloved Choirmeister, for being brilliant and inspiring and finally whipping us into a half decent sounding shape, and for helping create such a brilliant ethos to the group
. . . Stephen Taberner for the arrangement of And I Love her and Ryan Morrison for the arrangement of Delilah
. . . Roger Jackson for writing Shed, which gives us the metaphysical glue to put ourselves back together, and John Willoughby, for the extra verse to help us avoid life’s temptations
. . . Talking of which, a massive thank you to all our significant others for indulging us and allowing us to be weekend Pirates and for sparing us from chores to release us for all our hours of fun
. . . And finally, to all the Blokes who have built up such a rapport during our many adventures and many hats – here’s to many more (adventures and hats!).
Neil B
Chief Instigator
The Inner Circle of The Magnificent AK47

* in order to get the CD ready in time for the visit of The Spooky Men's Chorale gig it was decided to use a service called Making Music Mix who handle all the Performing Rights issues and actually produce the physical CD.  Unfortunately there are a few restrictions this imposes, such as the amount of information you put on the packaging, hence why these sleeve notes did not make it all on.

If you would like to hear a sampler of our Taster then have a listen at and if you would like your very own copy then on to our special website page at and add to your basket and follow the usual sort of instructions from there.

If you do have a listen, we would love to hear from you - contact us via

Sunday, 18 August 2013

More about "A Taste of The Magnificent AK47"

Disappearing fast!
The previous post made claim that we would tell more about the genesis of "A Taste of The Magnificent AK47" and being honourable blokes, here we are, true to our word, with some more info on how things came about and how they happened.

Hopefully we can explain a little more about why this is technically our first "proper(ish)" CD but not necessarily our first proper album. This is not just to create nerdy Pub Quiz Questions but to split a couple of hairs and explain why things are as they are.

Everyone who has ever been in a band or musical performing group of any kind will probably have fantasized about recording their first album, and, despite appearances, we in The Magnificent AK47 are no different.  However, we do pride ourselves on doing things a little differently, so we have.  

The idea of going into a proper recording studio was hatched back in 2012 and formally ratified as an approved objective by The Inner Circle.  All this might make it sound very organized, but don't be misled by this outward appearance of competence and foresight.  Having said that, a date was set many months hence and used as a target / reward for the first half of 2013.

May passed with many tremendous and Magnificent activities, such as our inaugural Wold Tour and returning to the Chippenham Folk Festival, then June loomed into view with more gigs and finished off with the recording session.  Safe to say, it was the first time most of the blokes had been in a recording studio and it proved to be a very interesting experience all round.

Attuned as we are to performing live, in the raw in front of an unsuspecting audience, it was unfamiliar to be in a room full of microphones and not much else, and no one to appreciate our range of hats - not that we had any on. Despite being highly honed vocal athletes we found it decidedly hard work actually getting all the words right, with all the right notes, without too much coughing and grunting in the wrong moments. 

Keeping us all in line was our beloved ChoirMeister, Monseigneur Chris Samuel, who gallantly managed to coax out the best performance possible on the day.  The material was then given an initial "rush" mix that was reviewed by a few knowledgeable members of the group and a number of comments made to tweak things.  These amendments were duly made to include pastoral sounds of England at the very beginning of the CD which just precedes the spoken word before being rudely interrupted by "The Vly".  This words are taken from the writing of Alfred Williams, The Hammerman Poet (more in later posts) and beautifully read by our very own DR Sweeney.

Further tweaks were suggested and reverb added or taken away, vocals panned one way or the other and the whole thing was glued back together in double quick time.  This was primarily because we wanted to get the CD ready for the Spooky Men's Chorale gig in the middle of July, which did not leave a lot of time to produce artwork, press CDs and other things that go on behind the scenes. Hence this is one of the reasons that we decided to go with the MixPixie service to produce the actual CDs and covers.

So, it was decided that as there was only around 24 minutes of material on the CD that we would consider this very much a taster of the group singing in the studio and build on the experience and come back later in the year to polish off a few tracks that we didn't have time to record.  Also, given this initial foray into the world of high tech recording we will be forearmed for the next time and look forward to adding favourites such as our version of "Tsmidao" and the much requested "Duct Tape Madrigal".

More next time, but if you would like to hear a sampler of our Taster then have a listen at and if you would like your very own copy then on to our special website page at and add to your basket and follow the usual sort of instructions from there.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

"A Taste of The Magnificent AK47"

At last, it is here, announcing the semi-official, mini-launch of our first proper(ish) CD, "A Taste of The Magnificent AK47".  A true shining example of undaunted enthusiasm triumphing over inadequate talent and preparation.

This master-piece of digital Magnificence escaped out into the wild when it was unleashed on an unsuspecting world at our recent gig supporting The Spooky Men's Chorale back in July.  In fact, nearly two dozen copies were bought that night, mostly by confused Spooky fans who thought they were buying the rare "Spooky White Album", but we very much hope they will enjoy it all the same.

All in all it is a considerable landmark for the blokes to have got this far and had the temerity to think they were worthy of doing a proper recording.  In fact, it has been described by our harshest (dearly beloved) critic as "not too bad" - faint praise indeed but gratefully accepted none the less.

Suffice to say, it was quite an experience to go through and most blokes would agree it was surprisingly hard work hanging around for the best part of 7 hours trying to sound like a proper choir and managing to get through a take without someone stuffing up at some point or other.

True, this is only very much a taster of things to come and there are dark mutterings about new recordings at some point, "overdubs", "re-mixes" but overall, we have been modestly pleased with the results and the kind comments of appreciation from many people who have heard the material.  When pressed about a fuller CD release, a spokesbloke replied "Soon(ish)".

Everyone who was involved would like to thank everyone who helped make it possible, especially our nearest and dearest who spared us from Sunday jobs for a whole day, and in particular thanks to Chris Samuel for tipping us off about the studio we used, thanks to Nick Beere at Mooncalf Studios for allowing quite so many blokes to cram into his studio and breathe all over his mics, to Neil B for nagging everybody along and being quite bossy on the day, to Chris A for his wonderful artwork and putting it all together under considerable time pressures, and to all the blokes for taking part.

Ordering your very own copy to cherish could not be much simpler (unless you are a complete techno-phobe, or don't have a computer), you just click on toour special website page at and add to your basket and follow the usual sort of instructions from there.

For more info on the recording process, why it is just a taster and in depth details about the tracks, stay tuned as we will publish another blog posting or two in coming weeks, after some more "interesting news".  But just to whet your appetite a little, the track listings are

The Vly
And I Love Her
Unsung Heroes No. 10
The Ashton Keynes Land Shanty

and a sample of which can be found at

More soon.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Cranking things back into action with a vengeance!

Listen up!  Lots to let you know about, so we will be brief, if not a little terse.

This Thursday 15th August 2013 we will be holding a special gathering in The White Hart, Ashton Keynes, from 19:30 which will cover:

- a welcome back to our Choirmeister Chris Samuel from the land of the Spooky Men's Chorale

- a mini workshop to try to remember a few old pieces and start re-learning the new ones from BlokeFest

- a mini launch of our CD "A Taste of The Magnificent AK47"

- an interview and photo shoot with a French journalist!

All part of the (ir)regular goings on in the the wonderful world of The Magnificent AK47 . . .

Info about Practice pieces can be found on our Links page.

If you want to order some food then contact The White Hart directly to book. Click here to visit their website for details

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Yet more excitement on the Radio

And in another exciting moment, this week's wonderful BBC Radio 2 Folk show also featured another group to which The Magnificent AK47 have a link, namely The Ballina Whalers.

Our major link is that the dearly departed and much lamented Ken Brookes is the dear old dad of one of their number, the exceptionally talented and hard working songster Sam Brookes.

The second link that only those of us in the know know (!) is that they were very close to being lured along to BlokeFest 2013 to run a workshop but calendars did not quite coincide, more's the pity.  

So, shuffle your browser along to their website and enjoy their music and catch them on the BBC iPlayer recording of the show whilst you can.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Exciting Spooky News

Exciting news on the Spooky Men's Chorale front with the announcement on tonight's Mark Radcliffe Folk Show that our big mates would be performing on next week's show, then he actually played their weird and wonderful "Baron of Beef" off the quite superlative "Spook Men of History" album.

What with a couple of other tracks he played from people with a Magnificent AK47 connection (more very soon) it has been quite a night.

If you haven't seen the Spookys in action this year, then more fool you!  Get on with it or you will regret it.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Summer Holiday Homework

It maybe holiday season for many but it is also the "Spooky Summer of Love", full of singing low and high jinks to inspire the most laggard of blokes into thinking that perhaps they should stir from their deck-chair and rouse themselves to a bit of singing, especially some new stuff!

To this end a batch of new "Help-you-Rehearse-in-the comfort-of-your-own-home/car/shed/etc" has been released.  After the wild successes of BlokeFest 2013 we have THREE new pieces ready in the usual easy to digest formats:  Low + Mid + Top + All and various other combinations.  

The pieces are
  • A Gringo Like Me by Roger Jackson
    (opening plenty of cowboy / Indian hat opportunities)
  • Myfanwy arranged by Dave Stewart
    (no hat opportunities immediately spring to mind but there will be something!)
  • Norwegian Sailors Song arranged by sadly missed new Spooky Daddy, aka Ryan
Anyway, they can now be found on a newly updated Soundcloud at

Have a listen and familiarize yourself with them and we will see what develops post the Summer recess.