I Luv Wight

NME: A group called I Luv Wight has recorded, `Let the world wash in,` which has been adopted as the official Isle of Wight Festival disc. It is set for 21st August release by Philips. The record will be played non-stop between acts at the event. I Luv Wight hides the identity of one of the groups taking part in the festival.



Record Retailer: The song will be played non-stop during intervals. I Luv Wight`s true identity will be revealed at the festival.

Philips ad text: I Luv Wight/Festival Song -- A single you`ll want to keep... In a souvenir IOW bag!

Oh, dear, oh, dear... The best laid plans of mice, men and multi-national record companies. Let`s sort this out once and for all. Once the IOW single was in the can and delivered to Philips -- once `Just Another Day` was released (and ignored by the radio stations) -- once `From home to home` was released to good reviews -- we set about planning for our festival appearance.

From the 16th to the 20th of August we rehearsed at a pig farm in Woking. Yes, that is right. In the height of a sultry summer we were in a narrow tin-roofed pig hut strutting our stuff. (All right it was a new building that had yet to see a poor porker.) We`d discussed our set, arriving at a list of songs that reflected our more pastoral side, as some of the critics liked to call it. We would play more of our recorded songs, the ones we often left out of college gigs. We realised from the outset that we were likely to be dwarfed by the physical dimensions of the gig and the stage itself. We would look ridiculous if we went out there in the middle of the day with our heavier material. We all agreed we would be grass- chewing-folk-loving-bucolic-gentle-rockers for the day. But the pre-gig excitement had already permeated the pig hut. This was going to be enormous.

The day after we left Woking, `Let the world wash in` was released. I Luv Wight? Don`t ask me. Where the idea came from for this stupid subterfuge I`ll never know. What was the point? Surely any band asked to write the theme song for Britain`s biggest festival would have capitalized mightily on the beneficial publicity, not skulked behind a twee pseudonym. Weird. Ed and I were even given cover names as the writers on the disc: Newnes and Baker. Why? `It will be revealed at the festival who the band is...` So bloody what? Who would be bothered? T`would have been better to have promoted it as the new Fairfield Parlour single -- and kept `Just Another Day` back for later release, probably on an album as it was not good enough for a single. But more of this later. Let`s look at the reviews to get an idea of the critics` view.



NME: The official IOW festival song, which I`m told will be plugged to death at the event. The lyric is descriptive and, as you might expect, there`s a repetitive chorus in which the masses can join. Rippling guitars and tambourine are outstanding in the backing and the beat is intensified by handclaps as the routine nears its climax.

Melody Maker: I can`t really see the lads and lasses singing along as it proves to be rather a gentle ballad without much of a hook. Now why didn`t they get good old Ralph Reeader to come up with something? This is an appalling dirge.

Music Business Weekly: For reasons best known to themselves they have adopted a pseudonym -- though the song is published by Fairfield Parlour`s Our Songs Ltd. A gentle, melodic harmony song, with a strong repetitive chorus -- in keeping with their last single -- and attractive instrumental work. If, through the festival, it gets the exposure they are hoping for, it could well make the charts.

Music Now: Echoing the gentleness of Woodstock, but with something more tangible, it would be nice to hear countless billions on the island singing the chorus to this. If everyone there buys a copy as a momento of a memorable weekend, this should hold the charts for the next ten years at least. Not sure who I Luv Wight are, but they seem to be onto a good thing with this folky number with its repetitive tune and everybody-join-in feel. Admittedly it`s not a very intricate song, but that would defeat the purpose. We`ll see what happens to this after the weekend.

We travelled to the island on 25th August. Lungfuls of fresh air. The deep blue briney. The quaint old ferry ploughing its merry way through the surfy spume. The splenetic seagulls suggesting we might like to go back to where we come from. The green-breasted island rising like a dream on the horizon. The holiday-makers oblivious to our ecstasy, hurrying like happy ants to strips of welcoming sand, their children crying and screaming not knowing that they would remember these moments for ever: family holidays at the seaside when the sun never dipped its face behind the fat black cumuli. Actually, they got on our nerves. They swarmed all over the island in their sight-seeing-twenty-miles-an-hour motors. They clogged the roads and beaches and looked down their red-raw noses at the hairier festival contingent. We, in turn, looked on them as the plebeians. They would never know what it was like to step out onto a vast stage and be transported to heaven on a tidal wave of sound. They also wouldn`t know what it was like to be scared to death at just the thought of that one-small-step...



We checked into the Claredon Hotel at Shanklin. It was run by Herbie Snowball, a salty sea dog, Captain Pugwash sort of a guy. We hit it off immediately. It would be a lasting friendship. For two days we roamed the island enjoying the sun and the atmosphere; something was in the air itself. The breeze seemed already to carry the sound of distant music and soft applause.

And then we were sat watching the news one evening when it was announced that the IRA, in a continuing protest at British troops on the streets of Belfast, had threatened to shoot the first group on stage at the weekend`s Isle of Wight festival. "Dave -- who are the first group on stage on Friday?" Dave draws deep on a simmering ciggie. He is bathed in an eerie silver light from the flickering monochrome TV. "You are," he replies managerially.

On the Friday morning we drove up to a hill that over-looked the festival site. Already people were camped in their thousands on the hillside. Free camping, free view of the festival -- albeit from a great distance. Perhaps a little sound would reach this far on a favourable breeze. You could certainly feel the growing excitement even at this remove. All of the benefits, none of the hassle: sweaty crowds of weekend-hippies; officious security; over-priced artery-coating fast food; ear-damaging decibels; `oh,-look-it`s-just-a-hole-in-the-ground lavatories. Down below the huge site was filling with people, the stage to the left, beyond that the crowded official camp sites. We went down.



It all looked different at ground zero. The dusty, rutted roads, the narrow alleys of the market stalls, the heady aroma of head aromas, the tough-guy security, the chaos back stage.



We climbed the stairs and had a peek out across the wide stage at the spreading tide of the audience. My god! We hurried back down. The `changing room` was a tent, its shaded interior aglow with suffused sunlight, welcoming, an oasis where we could live forever -- we`re never coming out. Please don`t make us do this! Mum!

We were due to play around 1 o`clock, but obviously this got pushed back for various reasons. We had a 45 minute set carefully planned, timed almost to the second. We emerged from the tent, our throats dry , our brows wet, our legs like the jelly mum used to make for us when we were kids -- Mum, get me outta here! We approached the steps to the stage. Suddenly, from nowhere, a French film crew pounced, gabbling questions and thrusting their all-seeing cameras in our startled faces -- and then Ricky Farr -- over-weight compere -- yelled at us from the high stage; `You`re on! Get up here now. Oh, and by the way -- you`ve only got twenty minutes. Now get on with it!`

We had ten seconds to scythe the set in two. Up the stairs. Don`t look at the audience -- you`ll die. Plug in. Up to the microphone, listen for the music, open mouth -- and sing! We were playing -- we were still alive -- no-one had shot us! The applause wafted to us on a friendly breeze: it was a warm wave, comforting. Next song -- next... It was over. Applause -- a glance up to the distant, tented hill. Must burn this once-in-a-lifetime image onto my eyes, into my brain. `Thankyou -- we`re Fairfield Parlour. Goodbye...!` We left the stage, just as we`d come on, unannounced. It was over.

Now -- the very first interval between acts! `Let the world wash in!` Wait for it! Nothing... Fat Farr played it later and then famously skimmed it into the audience like a lethal frisbee with a disparaging remark to send it on its way. It was over. Not quite.



Dave kicked up a bull-in-a-china-shop sort of fuss. He was furious. What about the agreement? This went on the rest of the Friday, through the Saturday and into the Sunday. Bands came and went on stage; I don`t remember a single one, so focused were we on our quest for justice. Dave would not admit defeat. Apoplectic with rage, he finally got the organizers to agree to let us play an acoustic version of the song on the Sunday evening. We were happy -- and terrified -- at the thought. The song would get a good airing in front of the maximum audience.

We were led to the foot of the stage on the dusky Sunday evening. The site now looked shabby and worn. As did most of the people milling about front and back stage. The atmosphere, although still very much electric, was more tense, less welcoming. Ed clutched his guitar and crouched down with Dave and I in front of the stage, waiting for the nod. I can`t even recall who played that night, so nervous was I at the prospect of what was just moments away.

We waited -- and waited... And, of course, the nod never did come. They were playing with us for their own amusement. Around midnight Dave led us away. It was over -- and over...

We went home to Fairfield Parlour part two.



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`ISLE OF WIGHT FESTIVAL 1970: SIX DAYS THAT ROCKED THE WORLD`



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