Setting up took all day. She loved it. But she wasn`t the one lugging the cabinets in and out of the van. Up and down stairs. She wasn`t the one doing the last minute dash for the hot pre-releases. Or queuing at *21 Nassau Road for the specials. She wasn’t the one doing the driving. Or dealing with the Old Bill, who would always take an interest. Attempt to move us on as we unloaded into the venue. Tried to coerce our names and addresses. We`d hit them with out right to refuse and they`d explain the SUS laws. Again. Instead she`d be smoking a spliff inside. Checking the guest list and grooving to the soundcheck. Charming Rastas and Ball Heads alike. For her the party had started. I wouldn`t get a cold can of Red Stripe until mid-way through the night. She`d move from beside the selector. Out onto the floor. She`d be off in the crowd. Looking over to see if I was watching. Looking over, smiling to let me know it was cool. Reassure me. Sometimes guys would come and ask, “That your gal? S`OK if we dance?” Get my approval before using her arse to wear the flock off the dancehall wall. Like I had a choice. If I got jealous or territorial I`d likely take a beating. Even if I was part of the sound. I`d also get that “no one owns me” lecture, that she`d given me too many times. Cowboy boots and cut-downs. Confident and free. It was clear that I wasn`t going to hold on to her for long.
It had made me proud. Having the prettiest princess on my arm, but, what`s the line? He who loves a rose…She was so rarely on my arm, that it actually made me feel weak. And look weak. She was super smart. She knew, and she`d cuddle close back at mine. But she`d laugh, recounting highlights of the session, and I`d begin to feel more and more like a just her ride home. Eventually the thing was up and she`d be off to a Blues with a car load of geezers and a “I`ll call you later”. While I`d be left to help reload the gear. The crew could see me getting vexed. Those more distant would look down and away. Shake their heads. Sigh and tut. True spar would pass me a joint and try to convince me to let her go. And as we worked Joe Higgs would sing sweetly about suffering, sore hearts, and rewards. I`d take a start. Inhale, exhale, relax. And realise that I`d probably already had mine.
Joe Higgs` “There`s A Reward” was released somewhere around 1975 on his own Elevation label. It`s been put back out there by the mighty Pressure Sounds.
PS / If anybody wants to put that Doctor Bird / Smoking tune back out. I`ll have one.