Glastonbury is the only festival that, no matter what happens, at the end you feel like a survivor. Which is a whole lot better than feeling like Survivor. Which, in turn, has got to be better than feeling Survivor.
Those outside have a whole load of misperceptions. The only time it reaches public consciousness is when there's a big problem, usually a mudbath. The photos in the papers are always of some pair of eyes staring out from a two metre mudball. People must think it's like that every year, and that everyone who goes gets in that state.
If it were like that, hardly anyone would go. As opposed to it selling out all its 177,000 tickets in an hour, with an even bigger number failing to get one, and all before anyone knows what bands are playing. Can you imagine anyone buying a ticket for fuckin Reading or V without knowing who was on?
And even if it is muddy, it's utterly brilliant. I don't care what the weather's like or what happens to your stuff, if you don't have a good time at Glastonbury it's your own fault and I've no sympathy for you.
It's a measure of the weirdness of the festival that this year I managed not to see the Stooges or The Who but I did see Chas and Dave. Still, it was a smaller crowd than for the Who, which means I got a good view of the band. Which, with Chas and Dave, only makes it worse.
There were good reasons for missing those two class acts. I missed The Who to do my all-time dream DJ set, in the Lost Vagueness Diner on Sunday night, spinning rock n roll and Northern Soul to a massive and utterly having-it crowd.
The Stooges' blinder was me-less cos I was, again, over in Lost Vagueness. Madness played a secret set in the Ballroom. Oh to send a postcard back to 13 year old me telling him about it. Night Boat To Cairo! Baggy Trousers! Embarrassment! It Must Be Love! House of Fun! Shut Up! Our House!
Very few bands have such an all killer no filler repertoire; every song a total belter, such exuberance, but always with that nice snarly bite that makes all ska grip you; you have to go as far out as John Holt before you could put any cheese or schmaltz into the genre.
They opened with One Step Beyond (brilliantly put together video of it on Youtube) and closed with Madness. These are both covers of Prince Buster songs, the man they paid tribute to in their debut single The Prince.
Buster - still alive, kicking and self-proclaiming as the Sexiest Man in Jamaica - originally released One Step Beyond as a double A-side with Al Capone, which The Specials lifted for Gangsters. What a 45 that was.
Coming hard on its heels was this, a cover of Otis Redding's Respect. Slightly marred by a too-loud maraca overdub, it's got a fabulous flinchy groove and, common to Jamaican 45s of the time, a sense of a loose party going on in the studio, of it all being a joyous jam. Check out my favourite bit, the backing vocals near the end behind Buster ad-libbing. there's such a sense of music being how these people live, of it just moving through them and pouring out of them.
[MP3 deleted to make room for new ones. Sorry!]
Kinnell, a quick bit of googling finds a copy of this single in mediocre condition going for 45 quid! And a few seconds more googling finds something much much more alarming. Survivor are still going!