“THAT JEWEL ONE CONSTANTLY SEEKS…….AN ACT OF GREAT QUALITY” – London at Night review
CAROL LESLIE has been a professional singer for many years, mainly singing with bands, in clubs and bars and theatres throughout the south east. Her father was a professional musician.
BILLY RITCHIE is a well-known face on the music scene, and a recognised pioneer of keyboards as well a recording artiste with EMI, Chrysalis, Deram, Universal, Warner, and Island Records. He has appeared in concert at the Royal Albert Hall, and has toured the USA and Europe several times. He has recorded and appeared onstage with famous names such as David Bowie and Jona Lewie, and produced one of Jona’s record releases. Jona is still a personal friend, and Billy also remained friends with David Bowie until his recent untimely death. According to David Bowie (Mojo Magazine Nov 1994), Billy Ritchie is “a genius”. There are not many musical situations and experiences that Billy has not seen before. He recently appeared in two episodes of the SKY ARTS TV series “Trailblazers”.
The variation and range of two very different voices and personalities combined in harmony and in solo, bring a contrast of colour and sound to the stage.
The music is lively, Rock-orientated, intended to keep up the pace and promote involvement/enjoyment.
The main thrust would be Rock songs from the late sixties,seventies, eighties, nineties, but not exclusively so; the main thing is to recapture some of the atmosphere experienced at the time, and bring it to the present. Songs from more recent times are also included, but this isn’t disco or tribute band-work, this is Music in Action. Using Self-Produced High Quality Audio/Video Tracks, creating lively, danceable and entertaining music intended to involve and surprise an audience looking for a good time rather than just listening.
The equipment is state-of-the-art – Peavey speakers and monitor, 1300 watt amp; stereo mixer; Shure radio mics and EV handhelds; Sound via MP3/AV1 video/audio via IpodTouch4; superior H-tone reverb/echo/vocal effects.
At the risk of sounding pretentious and somewhat smug, as a former music journalist and critic, I am someone well used to hearing performances covering the whole spectrum of ability, from very talented, to no talent whatsoever; mainly on the working circuit, encountering much from the bottom end of the scale, the flaws of which seemingly pass by, or go over the heads of the audience, mediocre musical acts often gaining acceptance despite (or because of) their lack of any talent whatsoever.
So, on a random and chance visit to The Old Crown, Hayes, I was pleasantly surprised to come across that jewel one constantly seeks: a light hidden in the bushel, an act of great quality.
Don’t get me wrong, on the surface, B&C are basically just another covers band, with certainly not much more to offer in terms of choice of material than others treading the same circuit. The difference though, is in the depth of thought in the vocal arrangements, and the attention to detail in the performance of the songs.
Someone in the band, namely Billy Ritchie, has true musical knowledge. The way the vocals are arranged and used is no accident, and the backing tracks, constructed and played by Ritchie himself, have a depth and surety that is pure class. Carol Leslie’s voice is unique, and at many points conveys rare emotion for those who can hear. The two voices are a happy accident of coincidence; Carol’s rather treble voice, Billy’s gruff baritone, both interesting voices taken in isolation, but together producing a sound that is perhaps greater than the sum of its parts. The quality of both singers shows itself also in the faultlessly correct intonation, the thrilling blend and invention of the harmonies, the search for expression in the vocals, the subtle use of the arrangements to produce surprise.
Most of these subtleties are of course lost on the general public, but the band still have enough battle-hardened experience and know-how to ride out any waves of indifference, and overcome the hardest heart with a friendly approach to their clientele, patiently trying out various styles and eras, constantly striving to reach their listeners, despite a kind of yearning in the music for serious recognition.
Personally, I found it somewhat sad that a talented duo like this has to resort to some popular (and bland) material, but one must bow to reality, and work is work. Still, the two vocalists didn’t just accept the status quo of this material; they always had a few surprises in store in the way they approached any song, however scraped from the bottom of the barrel.
Carol’s voice sounded at its best on songs like “Put Your Head On My Shoulder” and “A Million Love Songs”, but she shone through on harder songs too, like “Rock around the Clock” and “Reet Petite”. Billy Wilson didn’t sing quite as many lead lines, but when he did, it was with a power and confidence that knew just how best to carry the melody, and the strength of his harmony singing was in a different league from the average duo one would expect to hear in a situation like this.
On “Living La Vida Loca” the dual vocals were outstanding, perhaps the most equal blend of the day, with other such highlights for me being “Don’t Bring Me Down” and “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted”.
The locals however enjoyed some of the lighter material more, such as “Achy Breaky Heart” and “Rockabilly Rebel”, square dancing their way through the afternoon with great whoops and hollers, playing their part in a very pleasant day in a very pleasant pub. There was a humorous moment when the lads at the bar joined in with “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” all pointing and dancing in the manner of Tom Cruise in “Top Gun”! A vivid sight to behold, for sure!
The day ended with a raucous rendition of “Rockin’ All Over The World”, the two singers showing that they could rock it with the best of them when the chips are down.
Can’t wait to see this band again.
The Sibthorpe is a lovely country pub and on a day like Sunday, when the weather was so wonderful, it was a real pleasure to sit in the front garden and listen to the music. Being outside as opposed to listening in a space more acoustically sympathetic to performers meant that you could clearly hear everything, whether good, bad or even slightly ‘off’ and although I and the group I was with all belong to a classical choir (inclined to be a bit snooty about pop music at the best of times and more so in a pub environment!) we were all surprised by the quality of B&C.
Their perfect singing was very complex, with some appreciatively clever harmony work. The volume was well controlled too and not too loud, helping the clarity of the music while the self-created backing tracks demonstrated some fine musicianship at work.
Highlights for me were a cover of Cutting Crew’s “I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight”, performed as a second encore with the vocals switching lead roles throughout the song, which I noticed wasn’t sung in the natural key of either singer, but somewhere in the middle and shared line by line giving the song an intonation and inflection it wouldn’t otherwise have had.
This kind of approach infused a lot of the band’s work and One Republic’s “Something I Need” rendered just about the best applause of the day. That said, each and every song was performed with the same precision in approach.
Many of us were just enjoying a day in the sun, and although the applause wasn’t always overwhelming, everyone was smiling in mutual enjoyment of the good-feel atmosphere created by the combination of decent weather and pleasant surroundings all appropriately complemented by good music.
The pub itself is a real joy,
I live in the East end of London, fancied a night out so went to the Carpenters Arms in Cambridge Heath Road. This is a pub I’ve been to quite a few times on a Saturday night where they have a resident band who are extremely good by the way, with a compere, who sings for a while and then members of the audience get up to sing with the band. The band can play a multitude of songs which includes swing, rock, jazz, and varies from Frank Sinatra to Elton John. Anyway, just for a change I went the Carpenters on a Sunday night to see a male/female rock/pop covers duo called B&C perform. I was gobsmacked, and so was the rest of the audience. Either singing separately or together their voices were great, although I’ve got to say that their harmonies were really clever, I loved it! They seemed to do everything from Suspicious Minds to Summer of 69, Valerie, to UB40’s Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For. Everyone was cheering and dancing or singing along, a really great night. People were still shouting for more and asking when they would be back when the band were packing up. Anyway, to cut it short, went in this Saturday and was told by Tony the Landlord, that he’s given them more Friday dates as well as Sundays. I was really pleased, they deserve it, me and my mates will be there, for hopefully, another Great night. They do covers of rock songs
- East Ridings Of Yorkshire
- Isle Of Man
- Isle of Wight
- North Yorkshire
- South Yorkshire
- Tyne and Wear
- West Midlands
- West Yorkshire
- Mid Glamorgan
- West Glamorgan
- South Glamorgan
Videos coming soon!
B&C BORN TO RUN
B&C CROCODILE ROCK
B&C DON’T STOP
B&C DON’T STOP ME NOW
B&C HEAVEN IS A PLACE ON EARTH
B&C I DON’T WANNA TALK ABOUT IT
B&C I JUST DIED IN YOUR ARMS TONIGHT
B&C LIVING LA VIDA LOCA
B&C LIVING ON A PRAYER
B&C ROCKIN’ ALL OVER THE WORLD
B&C SUMMER OF 69
B&C SUSPICIOUS MINDS