J.H. How did the whole thing
J.L. Steve had just returned from the USA and he had hooked up with Ronnie
again. A one off gig at the Bridge house in Canning Town was planned with
the infamous ‘Blind Drunk’ line-up which included myself, Dave Hynes, Zoot
Money, Mel Collins and a very young Sam Brown, who made her debut that
night. It was great fun, I remember we changed all the song titles that
night. ‘Five Long Years’ became ‘Five Long Beers’, ;Don’t Fight It’ became
‘Don’t Spill It’ and so on. We were rightly called ‘Blind Drunk’ that
evening as we all had our own bottle, not glass, of brandy on stage with
us. The complete gig was recorded on Ronnies mobile studio. Oh yeah! I
remember Steve had his own hand written flyers designed for the evening,
It read "HURRY HURRY HURRY TO THE B.D. CLINIC, PERFORMING WITHOUT A NET",
very good eh! Then the idea of the album, Laney had some tunes and
Marriott had some tunes, none of them were co-written. The way the album
was intended was that you’d get a Ronnie song followed by a Steve song
followed by a Ronnie song and so on throughout. An old business friend of
Steves, Laurie O’Leary financed the album. He paid the musicians, the hire
of Ronnies mobile ‘The LMS’ and the recording of the thing. He used to
come down and check to see if we were all working. I think Steve was
staying with his mother at the time.
J.H. What was the intended title of the album?
J.L. It was always gonna be called ‘Majic Mijits’, oh there was a time
when they considered ‘Mijits Strike Back’ but I think ‘Majic Mijits’ was
always preferred. I mean none of us were tall but those two were extremely
small. Our drummer Dave Hynes painted a lovely picture of the pair of them
sitting in long grass which was gonna be used for the album sleeve. Dave
is a superb artist and the whole effect was quite stunning.
J.H. Tell me about the recording sessions?
J.L. It was done at the Corbett Drama Theatre in Loughton, Essex. Ronnie
parked the LMS outside and we spent a couple of weeks doing the album. It
was great fun. The track ‘Toe Rag’ was recorded in the students bar and it
was packed with students at the time. They were all drinking and we did
this virtually live recording of the song in front of them.. We done that
purposely to get the atmosphere. We were all screened off with bits of
cardboard, it was hardly Hi-tech. I remember Mick Weaver, our keyboard
player, went missing for a couple of days to record with Frankie Miller.
It was right in the middle of the sessions and Steve took over on
keyboards. Steve was fantastic but when Mick found out he was quite
offended by it. The whole of the fortnight was really pretty much a
drinking situation and I also remember daily pilgrimages to the local pie
and mash shop in Loughton. Ronnie loved the stewed eels and Steve just had
to have his daily intake of pie and mash. Then, of course, there would be
mercy dashes into Notting Hill to get certain substances!
With regards to the recordings what really sticks in my mind is the way
Ronnie and I used to work out the bass lines between us. Poignant really
because he was a fantastic bass player, so although he came out with great
ideas it was me that actually played bass on all the tracks. He’d hum a
line and I’d play it. I was adding ideas as well so it was a
collaboration. I suppose it was a bit sad because of Ronnies condition
(M.S.) at the time that we had to do it like that, but it was also nice in
It was great to work with Mick Green, he’s a bit of a leg end! (Legend).
He was very rock and roll and his guitar playing always had a bite to it,
he’d just plug in and go for it. He was everyone’s hero really, being a
little bit older than everyone else. Mick was someone we all looked up to
when we were 14 or whatever, it was a big buzz in that respect working
with one of your childhood heroes. (Mick had played previously with Johnny
Kidd and the Pirates). I remember Laney had nicknames for everybody. He
used to call Mick Green ‘Greener’ and he’d call Mick Weaver ‘Fletcher’,
don’t know why really. I was ‘Tossalini’. I was living in Wembley and I
remember getting an electric bill and they has mispelt the surname
‘Levertos’ and I showed this bill to Steve and Ronnie and ‘Toss’ became my
name. I’d got a Greek electric bill so I became ‘Toss’ or ‘Tossalini’. All
because of an electricity bill that I couldn’t pay!
J.H. What are your favourite tracks?
J.L. I’ve always liked ‘Lonely No More’ and ‘Bombers Moon’ but the one
everyone seemed to pick up on was ‘Two Black Eyes And A Broken Nose’. A
typical Marriott/Lane cockney carry on with the accent accentuated. Also
‘Toe Rag’ that’s a nice track. I don’t think the tracks were ever mixed. I
think that’s what they’re trying to do at Chris Frances place at the
Yeah, looking back on it now it was tremendous fun. We’d arrive about 11
in the morning and get started about 3, when the pubs closed! At the end
of the two weeks we had a big party at a pub called ‘The Grapes’ in
Islington. Everyone that played on the album and there other halves were
at the party. It was quite a flash restaurant and they had a grand piano
there. Marriott got on the piano and with Ronnie sat on a stall beside him
they knocked out a few songs, that was nice. I remember carrying Ronnie
out at the end of the evening. He wasn’t in the best of health anyway,
what with that and the drink he’d had it. Me and Steve carried him most
places anyway. Ronnie was an exceptionally funny guy, although he had M.S.
he was always very brave and constantly took the mickey out of himself. I
remember helping him up a step and he’d say to me "Hang on Levertoss, I’ve
just had my application to join the SAS turned down, I can’t think why!".
He was a great character.
J.H. Why wasn’t the album released at the time?
J.L. Steve and Ronnie went to America to see Clive Davis of Arista
Records. They played him the tape. Clive Davis was tapping his foot and
tapping his very expensive pen on his very expensive desk. He said "Yeah,
that’s great man". Steve said "So you like the tape, Clive". Steve then
stopped the tape, ejected it and said "WELL YOU CAN’T FUCKING HAVE IT!"
The story that Steve told me was that it would have meant touring and
Ronnie just wasn’t up to it. It would have meant pretty much carrying him
everywhere, no tour, no album. That’s why the Mijits never came out at
that point in time. Its been gathering dust for ages.
J.H. Well Jim, thanks for your time. The album is scheduled for release
this year some 19 years after it was recorded. Its the final chapter in
the dynamic Marriott/Lane story. We’ve been waiting all this time for some
enlightened sole to release it…………………..Enter New Millenium!