Sunday, September 25, 2005

Count Bishops, Eddie & the Hot Rods. 100 Club, London, Friday Sept 23.
Thirty years ago this line-up would have probably been the hottest ticket in town, while hardly a year later both of these bands lost their place in the limelight thanks to the arrival of the Sex Pistols, Clash and their ilk. Not that they didn't soldier on without any success, but they never became as big they once seemed destined to be. So was it worth flying off to London to catch 'm in action once again all these years down the line you ask?. The answer is a resoundin' "YEAH!". The Hot Rods had only been added to the bill as special guests after I booked a flight to see the Bishops so that was a nice extra, and they certainly didn't disappoint. Even with Barrie Masters bein' the only original member, his current Rods are thus relatively young and still very energetic. Three new songs and a drumsolo stop me from givin' 'em both thumbs up, but with a setlist that included solid renditions of Telephone Love, Teenage Depression, Quit This Town, Life On The Line, and of course Do Anything You Wanna Do there's hardly any reason to argue against 'em. While Barrie & Co. are still somewhat of a going concern, The Count Bishops re-united especially for Ace Records' thirtieth anniversary party. For whatever reason I've been somewhat obsessed by this band for ages, but sadly never caught 'm live in their heyday. So when news of this on/off get together reached these shores all was set aside to make sure I'd be there this go 'round. Up on stage this Friday were Johnny Guitar, Dave Tice, Pat McMullen and a Australian drummer who's name I failed to catch (apparently both Mike Spencer and Steve Lewins were in attendance as well but neither went up on stage. Original rhythm guitar player Zenon de Fleur, who passed away in 1979, was represented by a large photo on top of on of the amps). Any doubts about dropping some serious coin to see these guys were quickly wiped out as soon as Tice opened his gravel throated yapper (Kenny Loggins hairdo or no). And when Johnny Guitar finally shifted into third gear a couple of songs into the set things couldn't have been better. The sound was perfect and there were thankfully no attempts to "update" their sound/looks with lengthy solo's, flying v's and ponytails. Just pure rockin' sounds with Johnny's razorsharp guitar attack bein' the absolute highlight for me. He also took over vocal duties for Train, Train (originally Zenon's tour-de-force), a brave attempt that brought on mucho goosebumps. Other highlights included a poundin' I Want Candy and a powerhouse take on Taste 'n Try. All 'n all this was a perfect night (and let's not forget Dave 'Boss' Goodman spinnin' many a Nugget for the rest of the evening). What with the Bishops spreaded all over the globe these days I don't think they'll repeat these kind o' thing anytime soon, but if so; do make sure you'll be there. In the meantime, be on the lookout for Ace Records upcomin' CD re-issues of the Bishops 2nd and 3rd LPs for some hi-octane Brit R&B.
I have to admit it. I'm no Dylan afficianado. However, I'll be tuned into the Scorsese doc on Monday and Tuesday like everybody else. I recognise his place in the musical firmament and am prepared to be blown away by this event. It's funny, with all the furore around it, this is a real happening. There'll be a huge TV audience all watching the same thing at the same time. That almost never happens anymore and that in itself is something tangibly reassuring. I know some hipsters have viewed the thing already and that the dvd is actually available but simply the notion of folks all tuning into the same item at the same time is huge. Well as huge as anything gets these days. Anyways, re Bob - what I like most about him is that he recognises Dave Alvin as the ace guitar player he is. I like Mary Lee's "Blood On The Tracks" more than I like the real thing. I'm hoping I can be swayed into discovering the secret that the man's rabid followers riff over. There's a piece in the Sunday Herald here today where "important figures" pick their favourite Dylan song. Jim Sclavunos is in there alongside Scotland's first minister Jack McConnell. Odd is perhaps the best word to describe such an undertaking. Have a look for yourselves... I have to split, more Status Quo coming up on Corry.
Last night’s Laura Cantrell show at The Queens’ Hall in Edinburgh was a real triumph, even by her own high standards. Packing the “acoustic” format, the bulk of the set came from the most recent album but there were plenty of chestnuts from the previous two also. The version of “Whiskey” where she had the crowd sing along was positively spine-tingling.

For the extended encore, Frank Macdonald joined his friends onstage to deliver several tunes from the albums he released that put the lassie on the map in the first place. There was a review in the Times on Friday that gave a tepid line on the performance in London but I don’t think I’ve ever seen the show appear so tight whilst retaining that element of loose that let’s things breathe. This wasn’t just a note-perfect run through the material, it was practically countryphonic soul.

Opener, Holly Williams came out to join them for a rousing version of Gillian Welch’s “Orphan Girl”. I was pretty underwhelmed by her own set but this showed off her sizeable vocal talent in no uncertain manner. Laura and Mark Spencer will be back in the UK briefly in a fortnight to appear at the Keeping It Peel Celebration at The Queen Elizabeth Hall on October 12th.

These are busy times for Ms C alright but she’s hitting all the right buttons and like previously intimated, last night took that craft to a whole ‘nother level.

FTC Bars Export of the New MX-80 Release - How American is "American"?

San Francisco -- The Federal Trade Commission has announced its preliminary ruling barring export of the new MX-80 album, "We're an American Band." The ruling, one of the first under the recently enacted "Made in America" Act will remain in place unless the band, or its record label, Family Vineyard, can provide "demonstrative evidence as to the national origin" of band members. So far, the band and its label have refused to participate in the FTC proceedings. Under the legislation, effective June 1, 2005, companies advertising products with the term "America" or "American" must file certification documentation with the FTC and U.S. Customs demonstrating that "all or virtually all" of the product-including processing and labor that go into the product-must be of U.S. origin. In this case, since the band is claiming "We're an American Band," as its album title, the FTC is requiring proof of national origin of each band member. "This is so incredibly surreal," said lead singer Rich Stim, "that I can't even classify it as surreal." Problems developed for MX-80-the eclectic avant rock band based in the Bay Area-when the Family Vineyard label sought a UPC bar code for the new album, scheduled for November, 2005 release. Under the new law, the organization managing bar codes (the Associated Code Council) must report any product names using the words "America," "American," "US," or "USA." Companies then have 90 days to provide certification to the FTC. "Did Grand Funk Railroad have to send in their passports?" asked Stim, referring to the Michigan rock band that popularized the song used as title track of the MX-80 album. "What about Scientific American, American Airlines or American Idol? I find it disingenuous that the U.S. government needs proof of my citizenship in order for me to sell records in Holland. My guess is that they're only going after so-called subversive artists."

The FTC has denied that the agency is targeting artists and claims that enforcement of the new law is mandatory.