Saturday, March 31, 2012

Saturday Night, Rock’n’Roll delivers exactly what the title suggests. Nailing a big ol’ neon chunk of glam to their more rock-oriented debut, this plays out like an off broadway – original cast recording to an imaginary show celebrating the last great wave of teenage music.

The songs shadow the big stomping blueprint that became de rigeur in the early seventies. Guys that looked like brickies would dress up as women and pick up guitars, make drum sounds like big ol’ biscuit tins and rev up a 50’s rock’n’roll spirit to create a sound that never dates and will never go out of off kilter fashion.

Morten Henriksen knows his onions, inside out, upside down and every which way. He’s taking the Mike Leander, Nicky Chinn, Mike Chapman, Bill Martin and Phil Coulter hymnsheet and wearing his heart on them riffs. Familiarity doesn’t always have to breed contempt and there’s a playful devotion to stupidity here that’s not easy to pull off. Invigorating a sound that ruled the earth before most of the band was born, even Morten.

Caroline and the Treats will not be winning any awards for subtlety or restraint anytime soon. Originality might not be their strong suit either but in terms of energy and an outright mainline to a good time then they’re packing a welcome diversion in these barren times. This stuff delivers a loud crunch in the direction of introducing this sound to a whole new generation.

No lesser authority in the dispensing of R+R thrills than Doctor BB Quatro of the Barcelona Centre for Powerchordology has intimated that the last time this crew hit Spain, major hilarity ensued on a nightly basis. I only ever seen them play in the daylight but imagine that things get a whole lot crazier after dark.

Cags and co have captured a very analog sound. “Bad Boyfriend” is a head on collision between The Glitter Band and The Ramones while “Knockout Wood” is like Wilko Johnson moonlighting in The Arrows. CATT hark back to a time when Saturday morning TV shows ruled the minds of record buyers. The title track recalls the pace of “Heart of the City” and takes it up a notch and maybe singlehandedly jump start the RAK label. “Can’t Stop” will make you grin with it's “Some just get it and some just don’t” message. Ain’t that the truth.

This pneumatic amalgam will be bringing their vaudeville glam to your town and you will party down. Or suffer the consequences.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Friday, March 23, 2012

Thank F it’s Friday and indeed the weekend. Even if we do get diddled out of an hour over the course of the blighter. Sleep deprivation as a pastime is not recommended. Spring allegedly sprung this week too and the weather has been freakishly good. I'm sure it'll all go pear-shaped soon enough.

Right now it seems as though some progress could be made around here, not a lot but some because my cable TV feed is gubbed.

Of course I’d rather be tearing up the TK to the sound of The Yum Yums in Moss but as you know I never get what I want. And anyway, you never want to come back from that kind of experience.

Moss Rock City is the place to be this weekend!

If I wasn't going to see The Queers on Sunday then I would be attending this...

After nearly a decade as American Vogues most subversive fashion photographer, William Klein made Qui ├ętes-vous Polly Maggoo?, a scathing and outlandish laugh at 60s fashionista France. It centres on buck-toothed American beauty Polly, who comes to Paris to model and winds up the subject of a vapid TV documentary, attracting the romantic attentions of both a TV exec and the Prince of Borodine.

A surreal, decadent deconstruction of the glamour scene, impeccably dressed in gorgeous high contrast black-and-white.

Selected and introduced by Marie Galipienso, a friend of the Monorail Film Club.

This Sunday, 7.30pm at the GFT.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Saturday, March 17, 2012

You know how it is when you go to see an act you always liked and they pull the "new material" trick. Often it ends in tears but sometimes, rarely but now and again, the new gear is up to snuff. It cuts the mustard. So I'm happy to report that the spanking new Nomads platter "Solna" is wall to wall with songs that stand shoulder to shoulder with their already choice catalogue.

We shouldn't be surprised though. And it's coming out on Universal in Scandinavia and Devil's Jukebox in the remainder of Europe. Green Mist will handle the UD indoctrination, later in the year. Details of how to score your copies will be available in due course but prepare to body swerve all that other Record Store Day gubbins and vote for a living, breathing combo that still has that beat intact.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Not sure where my storyline or plot arc is headed. The writers are coming up with some twisty, turny stuff. Last week at this time, I was sitting in the CAU having been dispatched there by ambulance as a precaution to my described symptoms. This wasn't a Google self diagosis I hasten to add. The first night off visiting for a long time and I end up almost in hospital myself. I left "against advice" and returned the next day for the treadmill test.

All pretty far fetched but life has been like that lately. That pish about what doesn't kill you makes you stronger for inst. I don't feel like donning a super hero cozzie any time soon and exactly what the season finale entails is anyone's guess but it's coming.

As I trochled back to the car after The Ladykillers on Sunday night I was fumbling with my phone while a fox - the four-legged variety sadly - just stood and looked at me. As if to say, "what's that one's story?". If I looked like how I felt then it was quite within it's furry rghts. It glowered at me as I backed out of the parking space mere yeards away. Not spooked in the slightest. Perhaps it thought I had a buckshee slice of Hippodrome Centenary cake to bestow? I didn't by the way.

Reality is way stranger than fiction. Bordering on farce. Which of course rhymes with...

Saddle up with Susquehanna Industrial Tool & Die Co. this week for another visit to the rootin'est, tootin'est joint in town, the ol' Rodeo Bar! Okay, pardner?

*WEDNESDAY, MARCH 14th / RODEO BAR /375 Third Avenue (on the corner of 27th Street) in Manhattan /Two bronco bustin' sets, from 9:00 sharp 'til midnight / No cover! / And, further down the trail...

*THURSDAY, MARCH 29th / OTTO'S SHRUNKEN HEAD /538 East 14th Street (just west of Avenue B) in ol' Manhattan /A pair of ranch style shows, from 8:00 sharp until 10:00 / No cover!

*SATURDAY, MARCH 31st / THE COLONEL'S CAVALCADE OF STARS /It's a hillbilly hoedown at the North Penn Gun Club in Quakertown, PA!

Yours in sage brush, Michael
Susquehanna Industrial Tool & Die Co.
"Ballads, Boogies & Blues"

Friday, March 09, 2012

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

I started to put that thing below on Sunday but mislaid a couple of items so couldn't make it "live" until now. In between times, I've been having a bit of an adventure meself that I'm not really up for relaying at the minute.

It's a typically bizarre example of the weirdness that has beset this parish of late though. Being at sevens and eights, one louder than the other type of stamash, there’s some stuff you might care to follow up such as Michael Shelley’s hotly-curated comp of 70’s cover versions put together to show the love for WFMU.

"Superhits" includes The Dahlmanns, Eric and Amy and Yo La Tengo plus a ton of other great stuff in aid of a super worthy cause.

Talking of Amy Rigby, did I tell you her blog had moved? Or that you can get a “Dancing With Joey Ramone” 45 from her while stocks last? Load up on all the other gear you don't have too.

Amy Allison and David Scott’s fantoosh “Turn Like The World Does” is out in download format. Watch this space for good old fashioned CD type release in due course. Maybe even vinyl?? This link is for UK Amazon but it's also available from iTunes and all the other cybermerchants.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Hardly seems possible that it’s been more than a month since dad died.

I don’t have a heck of a lot of stories about my father. He led a crammed life of doing good for people and organisations and one sort of understanding – perhaps never actually uttered – was that we knew we were always there for one another. There were the typical disagreements too but that’s when there was a proper generation gap war to be waged. If one does actually gain any iota of wisdom as they get older then it’s surely that actually, we’re all in this together. Respect is a two way street that needs to be earned. It can’t be expected irrespective of status, family or otherwise.

Anyway, this isn’t one of those “Living Years” scenarios. I spent more time with my father in his final few months than I did in my entire existence. The realisation that this might be equal measures lost between the two of us can only be describes as unscrambled eggs. I do wish that there had been time to hear about his jaunts with the pipe band(s) all over the world. About Russia and the USA in particular but we ran out of time. The fact that we managed to actually have the time we did is something I’m told that is of great value and it feels like there’s at least some truth in that.

There are images here of the badges he brought from the USSR and also the voice phonograph records he sent to me from Australia when he was in the Merchant Navy. They don’t play but it would be cool right now if they did. In these recent days, he told me that he would always have liked to visit the fjords of Norway and Scandinavia in general. I can certainly help him with that in the spiritual context.

Something else that became apparent was the semblance of some of my foibles in his behaviour. This worked as being something of an explanation and a worry, the curse of turning into one or the other of your parents. Yike, both? In our case that might not be such a bad thing in real terms but it’s a scary prospect. I did enjoy hearing him curse this past wee while and considered that very much a positive. I think my favourite swearer, Sir Eric of Goulden might have been impressed also.

Perhaps I had a bagpipe phobia caused by being dragged to competitions as a youngster. My one abiding memory of these jaunts was being in either Dunoon or Oban. A really amazing old school character by the name of Charlie Stewart pretended to have one leg and begged for money in the street. He gave me some of it. Maybe I was 7 or 8.

So never really one for the pipes unless they sound like guitars and vice versa but of course I came to appreciate the playing. So for me it was a big deal, heck it is a big deal, that he was in Casino Royale with what could only be described as one hell of an all star cast. I often wonder what happened to Peter Sellers autograph, maybe we’ll find it but I have a hunch it was thrown out. There was also the time when a plan to go and appear on The Sensational Alex Harvey Band’s album “The Impossible Dream”. Can’t recall why that didn’t happen. The image here is of a Russian 7” that Muirhead & Sons Pipe Band made out in cold war country. I imagine that it’s pretty rare in that neither Kevin Patrick nor Stewart Cruickshank possess a copy to my knowledge.

On those stateside trips, dad would venture into record stores with my list of wants and try to score those titles. I got “Easy Action” by Alice Cooper, “Back In The USA” by the MC5 and a debut, the week of release by an ensemble known as the New York Dolls. Last time he was in Canada – he got my brother Iain, a Handsome Ned cassette. Wish I had those Sam Goody bags these goodies came in. Can you imagine the reaction by the store clerk when this wee Scottish guy walks up to the counter and asked for the Dolls record? Must have been priceless. My folks and grandparents were horrified by the sight and I vividly remember them calling them “he-she’s”. Which I guess was the term for cross dressers then. They would have never used the term “poofs”. Or "pooves".

Life as some kind of highway has a way of just carrying you along. You never think that one day someone simply won’t be there. That’s how we got here. In the past few years it was fun to see my parents become fans of Amy Allison and Laura Cantrell. Dad thought that Jon Graboff was the best musician he’d ever seen and was genuinely thrilled when he and Carissa visited at Christmas one year.

And just recently his bagpipes can be heard on a bona fide punk rock classic, “Going Down” by The Dahlmanns. The CD that he made, entitled “Tunes From The Glen” with Davie Scott was something else he was thrilled with. It’s glaringly obvious that he could have exploited his ability to greater ends but preferred to remain grounded for whatever reason.

It was in early January that he got outside the house for any other reason than to go into hospital, the Sunday morning that I took him up to see his brother’s headstone. It was crisp and cold, early enough for there to be hardly anyone about. It seemed like we should extend the excursion so we made for Bo’ness harbour and a short daunder around there. He told me that he’d never been down there and seemed to be digging being able to take the air. We talked about coming back down to maybe hit up the railway preservation museum but the weather and his illness conspired that this would never come to pass. It’s at that juncture you think you have time for all that when indeed you bloody well don’t. This was the last photo, taken with my crappy phone

It’s just plain odd to consider that he’s no longer with us and now with our mother in serious disrepair also, these are peculiar times. There’s no real time to process the enormity of what has or what is happening. We have to deal with the here and now and return to that when things settle, if such a condition is possible.

It had been hoped that he might make it the Silent Film Festival too so he could have a look inside The Hippodrome but the harbour car par was as close as he got. Perhaps he’ll join us in spirit if he hasn’t got a better offer during that weekend.

Having had no close experience with death up until now, that day when he lay in the room, I asked him to get the heck up and go “Boo!” because we were heading out. You might consider that to be disrespectful but the shell lying there was just what was left of our father. He was already checking in for the next chapter someplace, if there is indeed such a thing.

It was good to fulfil at least one of his last requests for the funeral and have Andrea Boyd play the pipes for him. You see, he was a fan too and it was very cool to hear Andrea call it like that. He went out with an extended family all across this hairy old world. A phenomenon that I enjoy also and I'm telling you, when the chips are down – nothing feels quite like it. So maybe there’s something in this destiny palaver, it’s something that he never took for granted and neither will I.

So that's it. This has been quite difficult to piece together but hopefully I got there. Gracias to those that have sent and continue to send good vibrations as the rollercoaster trip continues.

RIP - Ronnie Montrose

(Thanks to Sandy McLean for the link)

Saturday, March 03, 2012

I caught the first of two screenings at the Hippodrome of "Electric Man" on Friday night.

It’s a low-budget flick that describes itself as a cross between “The Maltese Falcon and Clerks” so that’s not such a bad tease. Shot in Edinburgh, it’s a good natured piece full of familiar surroundings including Deadhead Comics where a lot of it takes place. Spotted (Tall) Paul Robinson of The Go Go as one of the shop customers.

The cast includes Derek Dick (aka Fish) – onetime Marillion front man looking a lot like my good friend Lou Whitney of Springfield, Mo. and a female lead that reminded me of Laura Cantrell. It’s a kind of Bill Forsyth take on Kevin Smith. If ever there’s a live action Desperate Dan flick then this DD is a shoe-in. The director and writer both confessed to be fans of the Genesis tribute band that Fish once fronted. Their man couldn’t attend because he was in Poland.

Setting out on a small tour of Scottish picture palaces, the film had its UK debut at the Glasgow Film Festival a week or so ago. It’s really quite charming and possibly exotic to folks watching it overseas. The makers notion that it could actually take place anywhere but it just happens to be Auld Reekie is a fairly wise one but the city has rarely looked so good at the pictures.

"Electric Man" is worth a watch. It does a lot with a little and should resonate with anyone who ever took comic book collecting seriously. It holds together pretty well as a yarn too. Check their website for information on where it might show up.

I can just about remember when I updated this every day, sometimes several times. It would be very nice to report that the reason for not doing so was because I had found a life below the piles of stuff that are accumulating around me but it simply isn’t so. Dealing with what has to be done when someone pegs it is one thing but doing that in tandem with the ailing health of another parent is simply something we didn’t bargain for. There’s all that to consider whilst everything else goes on.

The urge to just hibernate and come out on the other end having found it was all just a rather unpleasant dream is strong but I have a feeling that it’s not. Tis the bitter chill of reality that bites when you get to my age or “our” age if your folks are exceeding in years and are still around.

Saw First Aid Kit on Monday. Really didn’t feel like going anyplace but they’re really good and a definitive exercise in the pacing of a set/live dynamic. The offset of the percussion/drums really adds an extra dimension and those three can redefine power trio in both a quiet and loud sense. The off mic “Ghost Town” (still their best song in my opinion) was really something. The opener, Samantha Crane, didn’t outstay her welcome and joined FAK onstage for the encore. It was a really good show and I never even mention the Redd Kross style hair tossing here and there.

Today, I might get something done. It’s early though and there’s always a frisson of hope before it all goes splat.