Malcolm Holcombe TRICKS OF THE TRADE

Malcolm Holcombe
Tricks of The Trade
Need To Know Music

Warm, World Weary, Thoughtful and ….. as Dangerously Honest as Ever.

Q) When is a new release, not a new release?
A) If it’s been released before.

But, if; as in this case something was released as a Limited Edition LP; just before the artist took seriously ill, therefore delaying the CD/Downloads coming out; and an unrelated pandemic stopped any promotion and an accompanying tour can take place; would that mean we can count TRICKS OF THE TRADE as a new release?
YES is my answer.
Mercifully Malcolm has come through his operation uncommonly well and I can now breathe a sigh of relief and treat this as ‘just another’ of his releases.
Money Train which opens the album finds our hero in his trademarked ‘piss n vinegar’ angry at the moneymen who rule the world mode; and boy can he write and perform something like this without sounding ‘worthy’ or ‘earnest’ ….. he just ‘speaks for the common man and woman.’
God Bless Him.
I forget how many albums Malcolm Holcombe has previously released; but in recent years he’s had something of an epiphany; writing better than ever; and this album has some belters on it.
Crazy Man Blues and the title track Tricks of the Trade are as good and eminently as ‘listenable’ as anything I’ve heard from the singer in the last 15+ years; and when you finally get to hear Your Kin and Good Intentions you will think you are listening to someone who is evoking the ghost of Townes Van Zandt; and to some great extent he is.
Malcolm has been around long enough not to really need comparisons; but I can’t hear him now without thinking he’s carrying that very torch better and longer than anyone else.
Traditionally a Folk Singer at heart; the arrangements are very sympathetic to Malcolm’s voice of course; but on many songs he transcends Americana and goes seamlessly into Alt. Country with the greatest of ease; especially noticeable on Damn Rainy Day and the magnificent On Tennessee Land; which is the type of song Johnny Cash would have given his eye-teeth for during the American Album series.
The ‘Bonus Track’ here Windows of Amsterdam is one of ‘those songs’ along with Lenora Cynthia that I can only imagine Malcolm Holcombe writing and singing.
For a million reasons this is a very special album indeed; and there are two very special songs here too; and I can’t seperate them so my selection of Favourite Song is a tie between the punchy Higher Ground, which features the joint talents of Mary Gauthier and Jaimee Harris on the exceptional ‘Higher Ground’, bringing home its reckoning on the final chorus:
I got freedom to choose
I got freedom to lose
I got freedom to choose
higher ground.
T’other caught me unawares the first time I played the album; as Misery Loves Company was the perfect soundtrack to how I was feeling that day; but as the days have gone by it’s become a beautiful heartbreaker of a good old fashioned Country drinkin’ song worthy of Hank or more recently Kris Kristofferson …..
I’ve tasted and I’ve wasted
the good life that I had
my poor selfish drinking
made a rich ol man go mad…I passed out and I cried out
my God what have I done
she’s gone… I oughtta be on tv
with a guitar strummin’ smile
cause misery loves company when the neon’s burnin’ bright.
It’s far from a criticism; but the arrangement and backing band; as usual are quite exceptional here and throughout the album too; but I’ve only ever seen Malcolm perform solo; and these songs ain’t gonna sound anything like this when he goes off on one, attacking his acoustic guitar as if it has personally offended him and bringing it on home unlike just about anyone else I can think of these days .
That said; as an album that you will listen to in the comfort of your home …. and you will; the Production team of Brian BrinkerhoffDave Roe and Jared Tyler have managed to make Malcolm’s wheezy growl sound the way the Grand Old Man of Americana should; warm, world weary, thoughtful and above all else ……. dangerously honest.

Released August 20th 2021

Vinyl –

Markus Rill and Robert Hasleder NEW CROP

Markus Rill and Robert Hasleder
New Crop
Blue Rose

Sad and Simple Americana To Help You While Away The Long Cold Winter Evenings.

It’s that time of year when I’m meant to be winding down; generally ignoring the Christmas Albums and Compilations that are destined for unwrapping on the 25th December; but two new and fairly exciting albums, that I can’t ignore arrived last week for December releases!
The first is the latest album from our friend Markus Rill and his ‘real’ friend Robert Hasleder.
Like so many of his contempories around the globe Markus passed the early ‘lockdown’ days scribbling down note for new songs that could be filled out next month when it was all over.
Then that month passed and the next and …… well, you know the story; and still with time on his hands he actually finished the songs and decided to record themselves in the ‘old fashioned’ way, acoustically and very, very simply.
The ‘simple’ production is perfect from start to finish; most especially for opener Full Grown Love, which sounds like some picking the scab off a decaying affair and questioning everything; including the singer’s own weaknesses.
If you ask him; I think Markus Rill will call himself a Country singer; which he is; but perhaps it’s the acoustic treatment to these songs, but methinks his honesty and romanticism are more suited to Americana.
Rill has always had the ability to find beauty in the mundane and ordinary; but rarely have his songs sounded as haunted as You & My Youth, Two Girls and the crisply cool Siren Song (That Kind of Fool), which daringly and probably unwittingly, enters John Prine territory.
There’s an uptempo belter tucked away in the middle too; and I certainly expect to hear a louder and more raucous version of That’s How I Roll on the next album he records with a band; but until then this sparkling duet will certainly suffice.
And, a duo it most certainly is; as Robert Hasleder’s presence is an integral part of the album as he plays a multitude of instruments: guitar, mandolin, banjo, accordion, bouzouki, with Markus Rill providing his distinctive vocals,guitar and a little bit of harmonica. 
Whether it’s Country or Americana nothing beats a ‘lost love’ song to close an album, does it? Perhaps not absolutely every one of us; but a lot will take a deep breath when they hear The One That Got Away; because there is ‘one’ in all of our lives; isn’t there?
Rill’s raspy vocals and soft, almost whispered delivery alongside a gently strummed guitar and wheezing accordion add up to become an absolutely stunning song.
But, why is that not the RMHQ Favourite Track, if it’s so good?
Well; there’s another that’s even better!
Maybe it was a challenge he set himself; but The Man In The Long Black is so unlike anything I’ve heard Markus record before, in fact it’s a little bit scary.
Albeit a Bob Dylan song; the title initially made me think of Johnny Cash; and his spectre is all over the words and even melody here; with more than a hint of Leonard Cohen in there too, if he’d ever tried to sing a Noirish Country song.
Necessity is the Mother of Invention; or so they say; and in this instance the ‘necessity’ forced on Markus and Robert, has proved to have a silver lining with this rather cracking collection of songs.
As I’m prone to say with Markus Rill releases; in a ‘blind tasting’ 99.99% of listeners would presume that he was American; but he’s not ……. he’s German born and bred; although did spend a good few succesful years in and around Nashville a few years ago.

Released 11th December 2020


Dion ft. Amy Grant HELLO CHRISTMAS

Dion and Amy Grant
Hello Christmas
KTBA Records

The legendary Dion releases a new Christmas single ‘Hello Christmas’ featuring backing vocals by six-time GRAMMY® winner Amy Grant. The song was written by Dion along with Mike Aquilina who co-wrote many of songs that are heard on the recent Blues With Friends album.

Dion says about the song: “I was talking with a friend about how the world this year can use a little life-giving love and harmony. I told him that Christmas was the grace that changed my life and that I was looking forward to a shot of that this year. The next day I got together with Mike and I picked up the guitar, started singing and words started to flow. Later I was walking with my buddy [and co-writer] Steve Bottari and he started singing along – with some new words. The song just seemed to write itself, a gift to finish off this challenging year. From the start I heard Amy Grant’s voice on it; she just sounds like Christmas to me. I sent the track to her and she fell in love with it and added a beautiful counter-melody which makes it really sublime.”



Johnny Lloyd
Cheap Medication
Xtra Mile

Love Is The Drug Or Is It The Other Way Around?

Having formulated the plan to issue an (ideally) annual album release, Johnny has taken time out from his soundtrack score writing to follow ‘Next Episode Starts In 15 Seconds’ with ‘Cheap Medication’, an album finally completed in the legendary Abbey Road Studios.

Lloyd was part of a trio that wrote the score for the successful ‘I Hate Suzie’ series on Sky Atlantic – his fellow collaborators being his partner Billie Piper and playwright Lucy Prebble at the same time as he re-connected with his former outfit, Tribes.

The title comes from the effect that music has on him, a type of drug or ‘cheap/free medication’ to get him through the day – something that probably resonates with a lot of music lovers and listeners, like you and I, especially through the last 6 months of lockdown, Covid and gig cancellations or postponements.

It’s always nice to have friends to rely on and Johnny has pulled in friends from The Kooks, Mystery Jets and a backing band of Tom Odell to put together an album of tracks with which he feels has ‘something for everyone’.

I always try to get the feel for an artist by listening to previous stuff before finally reviewing a new album so I knew (after digging deep into my memory) that the term Indie Rock’ would not be a good fit to describe his work. His voice feels far more suitable to albums like those of Elvy.

The various arrangements are all very gentle and very melodic and the opener ‘Suze’ has a shoe gaze feel, before ‘Real Thing’ is the first chance to hear the almost Americana drawl in his voice
it feels just like the real thing when I am with you’ –
the harmonica hitting just the right note to complement this track.

The guitar picks out the start to the title track, the best on the album for me, as he is accompanied by Shelby Bennet and this is the track that is the first to really hit the listener with the range of Lloyd’s voice. It isn’t clear how much the fine tuning of the album and some individual parts owed to the assistance of the trio mentioned above but I suspect it was the perfect ending to an already good set of songs.

I particularly liked his solo section on ‘Based On Real Life’ a track that wouldn’t have been out of place on a National album and this was definitely the ‘it grows on you’ one in the first part of the album. He follows this with an equally pleasant ‘In This World’, delivered like a sort of soft Johnny Burrell!.

‘Better Weather’ is the sort of a track that the lead singer would knock out on his own as the rest of the band drift into the shadows, a great little number where the voice and the lyrics just come together perfectly on a delightful song.

The longer I listened, the better I liked not only the individual tracks but also the overall sound and it is probably a set of songs about the various aspect of love, but not necessarily being love songs – there is a big difference in my mind.

This is very much a ‘HIS’ album where Lloyd uses his full range to bring out the best in the various songs that he has penned and he brings things to a conclusion with ‘Don’t Take My Word For It’ (hang on as there is a mid track silence) but it doesn’t drag at all and is a cracking song that Johnny Cash would have loved -‘ three men go away but only one goes back’.

The verdict – a total change of both emphasis and direction from his 2019 release and yet again, it may well be the effects of lockdown etc that have probably brought about some changes that would not have been envisaged or contemplated when the release was nearly ready a few months ago.

The result – a much more commercial album than last year and definitely one that grew on me each time I have listened to it. This will certainly get valuable play time on the more discerning music shows.

There isn’t really a dud track in the 12 as they all have something worthwhile to offer but I still feel the title track is the ‘fave’!

Review by Bill Redhead.
Released October 30th 2020

Andrew Cushin Where’s My Family Gone?

Andrew Cushin

Where’s My Family Gone?

As I’m away for a few days COVID-Busting, or something I can’t post this in the normal manner ….. but as Andrew is such a new and exciting talent I’m going to post his new single via my iPhone 🤞

Andrew Cushin is a talent that’s organically earning him a grassroots following: initially at home in Newcastle, where he sold-out The Cluny before officially releasing any music, and more recently with a huge socially distanced outdoor show as guest to Two Door Cinema Club. Andrew Cushin now adds to his rising profile by sharing his new single ‘Where’s My Family Gone’.

‘Where’s My Family Gone’ is the product of a mutual respect between Andrew Cushin and Noel Gallagher. The Oasis icon first discovered Andrew after he hearing an early demo of his single ‘Waiting For The Rain’, which prompted Noel to praise his “great natural voice.” Their friendship grew, which resulted in Noel offering to produce, play guitar and singing backing vocals on the new single.

“I wrote Where’s My Family Gone when I was in a dark place” explains Andrew. “I hadn’t been speaking to my family, or friends. I felt as though I had no outlet for the way I was feeling, and I wrote it in a little hotel room in Leeds before a gig. It started out as a darker track but the production that Noel has added to the song has pushed the track in a way that it’s now so much bigger and more uplifting. I can’t wait to play it live and see everyone’s faces when that colossal chorus hits”.

Robert Vincent (with Robbie Taylor), BIDDULPH, Staff’s

Robert Vincent (with Robbie Taylor), Supported by Emily Lockett
St Lawrence’s Church, Biddulph, Staffordshire.
‘Biddulph Up In Arms’
9th October 2020

Rob Vincent; “I can’t remember how many gigs I’ve done in my life, but this feels like I’ve never done it before.”

This gig – like many others – was supposed to happen back in March – and with a full band; but we all know what happened to things like that.
Credit to Biddulph Up In Arms promoter Craig Pickering for having the tenacity to find a way to make this gig happen.
The venue – a church with Saxon origins, burnt down by the Vikings and with mysterious Templar grave slabs outside, is a wonderful space, both visually and acoustically – keeping the flame of live music burning.
Normal capacity is around 180 but that was down to exactly 60, following a day spent arranging chairs with Tetris like precision to ensure sight lines and appropriate distancing, movement routes, bar location for table service, sourcing temperature checking equipment etc. etc.
The gig was declared sold out on its re-scheduling which meant that early ticket purchasers were going to be rewarded with some very rare and high quality live entertainment.

Local support act Emily Lockett has played a couple of support slots for Biddulph Up In Arms and her growth as a songwriter, musician and performer is clear – she’s only in her first year at university and has been playing live since her mid-teens.
Her guitar playing is confident and expressive – lyrically she’s in the Maisie Peters/Taylor Swift camp of angsty relationship experiences’ but she’s growing into her own style and voice too, with songs like “I Wanna Go Out” about the acknowledged teenage frustration of lockdown.
She’s recorded recently with tonight’s soundman, Matt Bishop (Of Honey Ryder) and has more music ‘nearly ready to release.’
While her main target audience might eventually be a teenage crowd, but tonight’s significantly older audience warmly received her self-effacing humour and strong performance.
One to watch.

Just before the gig,Robert Vincent had posted on social media that he’d forgotten that ‘pre-gig adrenaline rush’ – and that rush eventually flowed fully in a one and three quarter hour set of absolute delight.
Superbly aided and abetted by multi-instrumentalist Robbie Taylor the time just flew by.
Opener “So In Love” created a cathartic release for all present, so strong that the waves could probably felt back in Liverpool.
Newer songs that haven’t had the opportunity to be presented live like “In This Town You’re Owned” took on a new life – one of the advantages of the lockdown is the delayed gratification of being able to hear these songs played and sung live; after being familiar with the recorded versions for perhaps a while longer than normal.
Early in the set, “Burns (Like Cotton in the Fields)” set the emotional standard very high indeed; self-effacingly introduced as a “sad country song” there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
The quality and performance didn’t drop through songs like “Blue,” “Life in Easy Steps” and I’m Still Here,” before a powerfully understated and perfectly symbolic cover – in the light of the evening’s event – of “Come Together” for John Lennon’s 80th birthday.
A selection from the new album followed with “Conundrum” sounding spectacular – and in its duo delivery very much having the recognisable but ineffable qualities of classic music from Merseyside.
The Biddulph crowd is a discerning listening crowd and the millisecond of reverential awed silence that was being observed, leading in and out of each song spoke volumes about the genuine reverence that Rob’s performance created.
Before “The Bomb” Vincent stated that “I can’t remember how many gigs I’ve done in my life, but this feels like I’ve never done it before” – from my side of stage viewpoint, that was a mixture of the freshness of a return to playing, the communion with a crowd/people and the revelation of music that’s been hidden away behind a digital fourth wall.
“Demons” ended the set and there was time for an encore of “I’ll Make the Most of My Sins,” and by this stage, the sense of passionate warmth in the room was palpable.
In trying to make some overall critical sense of this, I found that I couldn’t separate the music from the event.
Tonight was exactly what live music is all about – a shared communal emotional interaction; needing all the ingredients being amplified in abundance by their unfortunate recent absence.
I’m not a religious man by any stretch, but Robert Vincent & Co ‘took us to Church’ in more ways than one tonight; long may that continue.

Review by Nick Barber

Photos –

Ian Dury HIT ME! (The Best Of)

Ian Dury
Hit Me! (The Best Of)

Declaring An Absolute Musical Genius.

My trusty iPhone appears to have a Serendipity button; or should that be a Foresight button?
About 6 weeks ago I was driving to work at the crack of dawn with the ‘shuffle’ mode on and out of absolutely nowhere Dury’s Spasticus Autisticus came seething of of the speakers. To be honest I didn’t even know that album was even on there. My first reaction to to press ‘next’ but some manoeuvre necessitated both hands on the wheel; and before I knew where I was, I found myself howling out the chorus alongside one of our nations finest; if quietly forgotten musical geniuses.

Later that day on checking my e-mails there was one offering me this triple album Best Of/retrospective!!
Come on …… that really is spooky; isn’t it?

A week later the CD duly arrived and ……. wow………. WOW.
First of all, a triple album of Ian Dury’s work is always going to be hard work to get through; especially for the casual listener who vaguely remembers his Pop hits 40 years ago …… and I guess there will be a few spoilt Christmas Days when this is given as a present and subsequently put on the family stereo 🙂

Obviously Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll is track #1; and I can still remember the day I bought the 7″ single from FW Woolworth’s; and the two or three times I ever heard it on radio and the sheer thrill of excitement that caused …… and actually still does.
Bizarrely the song never officially appeared on the debut LP New Boots and Panties (my copy had it; but it was not on the track list) and what a debut that was. I think if pressed I can still name every song there; and of course it is well represented here; with Wake Up and Make Love To Me, I’m Partial to Your Abracadabra and of course; Plaistow Patricia still having the capacity to shock 40 years later.
But couple them with the beautiful My Old Man, Billericay Dickie and the greatest love song of that generation; Sweet Gene Vincent and my personal soundtrack was cast in vinyl.
It was an absolute joy beyond comparison whenever the raggle taggle Blockheads appeared on TV, especially TOTP in the next couple of years.

His singles Reasons to be Cheerful Pt III, Rhythm Stick and What a Waste transcended what we knew as Pop Music; and still sound as sharp as a tack today; plus there were other songs that never made it to radio; I Want to Be Straight and There Aren’t Half Been Some Clever Bastards; which had the first outing for what would become Ian’s trademark judicial use of swearing in song! (Not counting Plaistow Patricia).

I clung in there through Do It Yourself and Laughter, but by Lord Upminster Dury’s new and dynamic progressive songs were lost on me; so I bailed out; but today …….. perhaps it’s my age; hearing Superman’s Big Sister and Billy Bentley or Pam’s Moods again now; it’s fair to say that the man wasn’t just ahead of the game; he made up his own rules and it was our job to keep up with him.
As you delve into album #2, the reggae riffs of You’re More Than Fair and Quiet mask some razor sharp lyrics, that while ‘of their time’ still sound relevent in 2020 …… and sadly, that’s true of a few other songs here too ….. what a songwriter Ian Dury was.

Let’s not forget that Ian was never a solo turn; The Blockheads were each amazing musicians in their own rite; and as the newer songs (to me) creep up on you; and the more they delve into Avant Garde territory, the more I’ve been thinking Ian Dury and the Blockheads were Britain’s very own Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention or Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band!
Listen to the later material like Dance of The Screamers, Itinerant Child or The Mumble Rumble and the Cocktail Rock (which pre-dates the Blockheads as it’s a Kilburn’s song) to hear what I’m talking about …. or just cut out all of the Hit Singles.

With so much to choose from it’s been nigh on impossible to select a Favourite Track.
Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll has to be in the offing as it’s one of my Favourite songs of all time; (and may even be played at my funeral), and Reasons To Be Cheerful Pt III has certainly stood the test of time too; but I’d totally forgot what a total joy Dance Little Rude Boy was; and that it featured some pretty amazing piano playing; but there’s another song from that period that has flitted in and out of my head over the years; so must mean something special and that is Lullaby For Franci/es which is the funkiest lullaby you will ever hear and showed back then that Ian Dury wasn’t no One Trick Pony; and was the forerunner to one of several changes of direction in a tragically all too short career.

But, starting with the obligatory Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll single from 1977 and ending 3 hours or so later with a demo of England’s Glory it’s all here; warts and all …….. but as you sit basking in the afterglow, there’s absolutely no denying that this man was an absolute Musical Genius, and hopefully this release will bring that to a whole new generation.

PS If anyone still has a full set of Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll badges, I’m in the market at a reasonable price.

Released 16th October 2020


Jaime Wyatt NEON CROSS

Jaime Wyatt
Neon Cross
New West Records

An Emotional and Honest Journey Between Heaven and Hell – and Everywhere In-between.

There is a spiritual and emotional fire burning throughout this album, Jaime Wyatt’s latest release “Neon Cross”- and even the title itself presages the fiery and turbulent life of the songs therein.
Starting with “Sweet Mess”, where Jaime’s soulful lived-in vocals soar against keyboard and strings in an oxymoronic emotional homage to a relationship that’s doomed to fail – but she will enjoy it for what it is anyway.
The title track which follows adopts an equally pragmatic yet frustrating world view set to a Peggy Sue ‘type’ beat –
“They say life is here to teach me
But it kills me slow and easy  
And I know you got my number
But the check still reads my name
The darkness continues with a fine addition to the tradition of spelled-out words-songs (Think Tammy’s “D.I.V.O.R.C.E.” or Jonathan Richman’s “Girlfriend”) “L I V I N” where “I ain’t afraid of dying, honey I’m a so scared of this L I V I N” – our heroine is stuck in depression for so long that she longs for a slice of (sic) “H E V I N” – she remarks that “Can you let me in? I won’t break nothin’”
Emotional frustration continues on the southern boogie of “Make Something Outta Me” where there’s a wonder if life will ever turn out like the movies…but Jaime knows it won’t – but she’s still hoping, caught in purgatory.
This embracing of imperfection is further developed on “By Your Side” where some Country Soul pedal steel frames a tale of imperfect love being (slightly) better than nothing at all.
A personal favourite is mid-album “Just a Woman” (Featuring Jessi Coulter) which is a biting critique of a male perception of a woman’s role, musically framed as if someone had parachuted Patsy Cline into the 21st century  – and she’d brought her no-bull attitude with her too!
“Goodbye Queen” on the surface is a tale of a serial leaver, but look a little closer and it’s also a plea to be accepted for what we are – if you’re expecting a leaver – you’ll get one – but don’t try to change me as our heroine says that she’d “have to swing too wide to turn this thing around”. Oh, the joys and difficulties of relationships…
“Mercy” which follows is another tale of no compromise, of not being able to be changed – only saved by Mercy. Sometimes this toughness is too much for the world at large though and for some it needs to be tucked away – talking of her friends, the voice in the following track says that “They keep their secrets all covered in sequins” but not for this “Rattlesnake Girl” who found her “Childhood under the pinewood”.  
Penultimate track “Hurt so bad” featuring Shooter Jennings and lead guitar from the late Neal Casal is a rumination on the frustration of missed opportunity.
Final track, the wonderfully titled “Demon Tied to a Chair in my Brain” collects a series of ominous images to create a picture of emotions barely controlled, ready to wreak havoc at any moment – Aubrey Richmond’s fiddle screeches and tears around, symbolising both beauty and pain in this troubled soul – a fitting summation of an album torn and laced with pain and purgatory.
Jaime Wyatt has not only lived this album, but she’s done the tough thing – she’s created a world that many of us, if we were equally as honest – will recognise too.

Review by Nick Barber
Released AUGUST 21st 2020

PITCH INVASION (Book) Adidas, Puma and The Making of Modern Sport.

Adidas, Puma and The Making of Modern Sport.
Barbara Smit.
Penguin Books

This will be a surprise for regular readers, as RMHQ doesn’t normally ‘do sport’, but being an Adidas ‘fanboy’ for nigh on half a century, I was asked to write this book review for a magazine a couple of years ago and thought I’d make an exception and share it with you.

What starts out as a lovely story, which sounds like something Catherine Cookson may have written; about an extended family in a quaint German town as the 19th Century turned into the 20th.
What could possibly go wrong?
WW1 actually.
Facts from this period are a bit sketchy; but when the elder brothers come back from the Front Line to join the youngest, Adolph who was too young to join the Army; the story soon revolves around two of the brothers; Adolph who quickly became a genius Artisan shoe maker and the other, Rudolph, a flamboyant salesman; who together not only built up two very successful business’s, making and selling running shoes, but changing in history and fashion in the process.
Although times were tough between the wars in Germany, sports and particularly running became very popular and Adi Dassler’s ever improving and ever lighter shoes meant the family business kept growing, and growing with Rudi taking over sales in 1923, leaving Adi in his factory office constantly experimenting and designing, using whatever materials came to hand.
The first of the twists occurs as the story moves into the 1930’s and Hitler arrives on the political scene.
Like everyone else in the country Adi and Rudy joined the National Socialist Party; with the younger sibling not appearing to have been an active member but Rudy, on the other hand embraced The Party and all it stood for.
Adolph’s first Marketing Masterstroke came when he talked his way into supplying footwear for the burgeoning Hitler Youth movement which swept the country.
Then, the first of the truly fascinating facts that you will discover, happens around the infamous 1936 Olympic Games themselves. It was no real surprise that Adi Dassler’s footwear were the shoes of choice for the German National Squad; as the Master Shoemaker’s many contacts finally came to fruition; but Adi was also made aware of a young American sprinter called Jesse Owens, who was winning races all over Europe and made it his business to make his acquaintance; and………Jesse Owens actually wore ‘Adidas’ shoes when he made history setting world records and winning four Gold medals.
You can’t tell from the photos; because the iconic Three Stripes hadn’t been thought of at that time; but ‘Adidas’ trainers they most definitely were.
As WWII beckoned Rudolph Dassler’s role in the National Socialist Party backfired as he was conscripted into a division of the Gestapo, while Adi was quickly returned home to run the family business, which was now manufacturing boots and rucksacks for the army!
Thankfully both brothers and their other siblings all survived; but the infamous ‘fall out’ slowly came to fruition over the next few years.
As the Dassler footwear business flourished, predominantly because they were in the American Quarter of Germany and Adi spotted that the GI’s played baseball and basketball in tatty canvas Converse sneakers…..he began making stronger and more supple leather versions; and when they discovered Adi had made the shoes worn by Jesse Owens; production went through the roof!
It’s not clear; but it’s surmised that the ‘Fall Out’ was brought on by everyone living in the same house and both men’s pushy wives believing that their respective husband deserved more accolades than the other with the rift finally coming to a conclusion in April 1948 when the brothers agreed to split the business. Adi, as he now preferred to be called originally named his new company Addas, which was also the name of a German children’s brand, so he added the extra ‘i’ and the Adidas legend was created.
Rudolph attempted something similar calling his company Ruda; but finally settled on the more aggressive sounding and sporty Puma.
At this stage, and when you take another look at the Jesse Owen photos; none of their shoes actually had anything distinctive on the side. Strips of leather did adorn their athletic shoes; but were normally self-coloured or dark scraps that were used to strengthen the pressure points.
Adi though, knew he needed something to make his shoes stand-out on both the track and shop shelves, experimenting with anything between two and six white stripes on each side; but eventually deciding on three white stripes; while the Puma ones just used one thick stripe.
The split wasn’t as simple as the brothers hoped; with Adi keeping one factory and it’s workforce on one side of the local river and Rudy a smaller factory and the company offices on the other with his sales team.
The next couple of years were difficult for both company’s, but as expected Adi’s new Adidas brand kept innovating and inventing; coupled with the shoemaker’s hard nosed approach to ‘product placement’ they quickly expanded into the burgeoning football market across Europe; culminating with the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland, when unknown to anyone outside the company; he had *invented ‘screw in’ and interchangeable studs; which helped West Germany win the World Cup on a rain soaked and muddy pitch.
*there were already screw -in studs in England, but Adi never mentioned that!
All of this left Puma trailing in their wake; and to some extent they drift out of the main story as a whole new rival to Adi Dassler is soon to make an appearance.
With our hero Adi tucked away in his design room his devoted wife Kathe evolved into head of sales; and even began exporting product to Canada when International Sales of sports goods was virtually unheard of.
Still a family business at heart, Adi’s eldest son Horst enters the story in 1956 when the Olympics were held in Melbourne Australia.
The shenanigans began before the first race had been run; with Horst somehow managing to ‘convince’ some Customs men to impound a shipment of Puma shoes that were destined as giveaways to athletes; leaving the door well and truly wide open for the 20 year old to give away their exciting and light weight Adidas running spikes……which many victorious and ‘Amateur’ athletes took with glee.
Young Dassler made contacts left right and centre during these games; and several would eventually go onto high positions within the Olympic movement, as well as the seeds being planted for the Company’s ultimate world wide domination.
Flushed with what he saw as his own success, Horst felt restrained under his Mother’s watchful eye so following some volatile disagreements was eventually dispatched across the border in 1959 to run the family’s new French operation.
Over the next few years Horst does deals within deals, unknown to his parents only 40 miles away; making friends and influencing people in not just the Olympic movement but EUFA and FIFA too, alongside numerous individual International Committees; and growing his own division until it was soon bigger and more profitable than his parent’s German operation.
Your jaw will drop when you read how much cash swilled around in endorsements, both over and (mostly) under the counter in the next 40 years and the names that littered the newspaper columns a couple of years ago when the FIFA offices were raided; are all here too.
By the 1970’s Adidas was less about manufacturing the finest product, as it was Horst Dassler’s quest for supreme power in the sports industry; regardless of who got caught and hurt in his slipstream.
When the story arrives in the 80’s Horst is so arrogant and power mad he totally dismisses new brands Reebok and Nike; as he thinks he has every corner of the market covered; not realising fashions change on a whim.
This story is so fast moving, engrossing and convoluted; that by the time the Russians gave one Adidas executive a dog as a gift, everyone presumed it must be bugged and treated it as a spy!

Author Barbara Smit has done a remarkable job piecing together the 100 year story of Adidas, making it not just a history lesson but a roller coaster thriller too and will make an excellent TV Series.

Alan Harrison

Jessica Lynn RUN TO (Single)

Jessica Lynn
Run To
Daydreamer Records

Dubbed “Shania’s natural successor” and described as “America’s new Country Music Sensation”, Jessica Lynn has a style and range that certainly appeals to fans of Country and Country Rock  but reaches out and beyond to wider Rock-loving audiences, as it did when she played Ramblin’ Man’s Outlaw Country stage  in 2017 – her first performance at a Rock festival, where her cover of AC/DC’s ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’ had the whole tent rocking, as did her own songs and stagecraft!

‘Run To’ is Jessica’s first single release of the year. Jessica wrote the song and explains its roots and significance for her: ‘Run To’ is about longing for someone or something no longer in your life, and it details the desperation of wanting to truly FEEL again after love and loss.  I wrote this song from deep in my heart and am very excited that it is my debut single of 2020.”

Perhaps in these strange, locked-down and socially-isolated times, the lyrics may take on extra significance and poignancy, as we find out how much we miss those we love when separated from them, or even – sad to say – lose them, and find out just how much we yearn to run to them?

Released May 22 2020