“Cities are full of history, and now they want it back.
Find it on an outside wall, framed in a blue plaque.
A name, date and achievement, written in three lines,
A long-lost bereavement, which just came back in style” (“Blue Plaque,” lyrics by Pete Feenstra)
It’s always interesting when you walk past a little house that seems innocuous and there is this little blue badge on it that catches the eye! It was fascinating the other day when I was in the North-East recently and I suddenly found myself outside the house of Stan Laurel! It does provide that little moment of “Wow.”
This is the new single by the wonderful Feenstra & Simpson. Their sixth single is called ‘Blue Plaque’, and it celebrates the 160th anniversary of the National Heritage Blue Plaque scheme. For those reading this unsure of what this refers to, the blue plaque serves as a historical marker of the achievements of people in the past with buildings of the present.
Lyricist Pete Feenstra explains, “I first had the idea of writing an article about the symbolic historical lineage in London after the 1997 unveiling of the Jimi Hendrix blue plaque. I thought about the significance of what has been called London’s “invisible history,” which much later became the basis of a song.Then I learned that William Ewart, MP, first proposed the idea for a commemorative plaque to the House of Commons in 1863, and 2023 will mark the 160th anniversary of that event. This, in turn, gave me the first line of the song. Some of the names fit the second verse perfectly, but I struggled with music for the bridge until John applied his musical vision. “
Over to John Simpson:
“Pete’s lyrics put me in mind of a Ray Davies or Ian Dury-style narrative with some original subject matter. I initially came up with what I thought was a Norman Watt Roy bass line and a Wilko Johnson-style stuttering guitar part, all brought together by a Chaz Jankel and Blockheads-type rhythm. I refined it as I went along, but once I hit the chorus and the bridge, I was once again in “Beatles-esque” territory.”
It’s funny because I try to hold back from reading the artist’s comments on songs until I hear the track myself. In my notes, I wrote that it was a whimsical track lyrically with a terrific musical beat driving the car along. I enjoyed the upbeat feel of the track and the easy groove with the guitar. For me, it was perfect Radio 2 territory—good listening and that sing-along beat. Then, reading the comment by John, I heard the Ian Dury and the Blockheads influence, and it gave it a different feel for me. Anyway, it’s always great to hear from these guys. The single has been out a week or so now, so I’m slow off the mark with the review. There is also the final piece in the jigsaw: Stuart Ridgard’s video, which seals a creative triumvirate of words, music and images.
By Stevie Ritson
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