Friday, April 27, 2012
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
That’s April on the way out, seems like I spent the whole month chasing my tail. When I come home at night and at weekends, I figure that it might be possible to put this thing back on track. However, then something happens and particularly after a hospital visit – my soul gets sucked right out of my skull. Generally leading to passing out for a couple of hours to the extent of crashing any logical sleep pattern. It’s wearing me down and despite half-arsed attempts to rectify this I still awaken at 2.18am or thereabouts and maybe one or two other times before the eventual 6am struggle.
I’m not complaining, just stating facts. Writing, or typing, anything right now is problematic. It’s all about being tense and nervous and you know what that leads to according to David Byrne. Christ, I haven’t even put together the skinny on the recent visit by Sir David Alvin during which I bunked off to Newcastle.
Have to say that record store day 2012 ripped my knitting. It was the year this previously community oriented, old school celebration well and truly jumped the shark. Individual horror stories notwithstanding – it’s cool that the shops benefit but the aspect of queues of greedy bastards loading up to reset on evil-bay (thanks to Tom Morton for that one) those with no proximity so such a joint get shaken down.
So from here on in I’m giving it the body swerve. It’s dead to me having become the latest in the long list of casualties that started out as a good idea only to be hijacked by greed. What should be something that casts the net wider has ended up being a bun fight for scumbags to get their sweaty mitts on a bunch of swag. 99% of which isn’t worth having anyway being that the arse has been cawed out of it due to continual format abuse. Life is too short and filled with way too much stuff as it is so thanks but no thanks you thieving bastards. I’ve woken up and smelled the coffee.
Shut-ins welcome. As always. It's a Susquehanna Industrial Tool & Die Co. Thursday this week at Otto's, with the sharpest hillbilly trio on five legs!
*THURSDAY, APRIL 26th / OTTO'S SHRUNKEN HEAD / 538 East 14th Street (just west of Avenue B) in ol' Manhattan / From 8:00 sharp until 10:00 -- with salty snacks and no cover! / Followed at 10:30 by our pals The Hudson Hornets / And, coming quite soon...
*WEDNESDAY, MAY 9th / RODEO BAR / 375 Third Avenue (on the corner of 27th Street) in Manhattan / Two big, hopping sets, from 9:00 sharp 'til midnight / No cover! /
Susquehanna Industrial Tool & Die Co.
"Ballads, Boogies & Blues"
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Saturday, April 21, 2012
I can’t really put my finger on exactly why Kim Edgar towers above the contemporaries in her genre, whatever that actually is. The musicians she works with would suggest “folk” but her songs are so much more than just stories sitting inside a tune.
Her accent provides an extra jag to the words. From that aspect, perhaps it is f*lk but played outside its common environment. It’s much more moody and multi-dimensional than seasoned singer songwriter fare and several leagues ahead of anything that yon emperor’s new clothes emporium that is “The Fence Collective”.
It strikes me that Ms Edgar has a good grasp on whatever the craft of writing a good song is. And when all is said and done and everything is stripped away, it’s down to the song. Irrespective of what is slathered upon it. I really do look forward to seeing her play this stuff live one of these days.
My one wee bugbear is that I can’t read the lyrics in the booklet. Yes that’s my problem being of advanced years but it’s not so often that you want to read lyrics these days. Even although they’re in an eye-test size font. “The Steamy Note” is practically Norlin-esque. “Ready” reminds me of those tones composed to connect with the aliens in Close Encounters. Perhaps they’ll nip down from Bonnybridge for a wee look-see.
"8, 9, 10" closes the 12 songs in just shy of 40 minutes evoking memories of Ivor Cutler. Forget all the corporate shenanigans that are being made available for Record Store Day. Let those who are out to make a fast buck on re-setting via ebay burn. Instead invest in a keeper, like “The Ornate Lie”.
Thursday, April 19, 2012
It's nearly "Record Store Day". If you're in Glasgow then here's what's going on. Forget the bullshit "on the day" shakedown and buy something from the regular stock. Leave the collectors items to the blighters that think they'll make a quick buck on ebag. Not a typo. May these individuals get fourth degree burned. Like everything else that starts off as well intentioned, this annual event has become everything that it set out not to be. Still, support your friendly neighbourhood dealer. That's the only message that matters. As I've said before, I find the home baking aspect a lot more interesting than most all of the instant collectables.
The Monorail/Mono roll call can be seen in the poster to your immediate right, the scene at Love Music is as follows...
Love Music in Glasgow will opening at 9:00 am with a free tea stall for customers.
Live music kicks aff at 1:30pm with a set from DOLALAY from Hollywood California, Dolalay have a Scottish singer, Rebecca Connelly and a new EP called "Days Like This". At 2pm Edinburgh group the CATHODE RAY will play songs from their brand new self-titled album that is BBC Radio Scotland's Janice Forsyth Show's Album of the Month for April. Late 70s New York angular meets post-punk Manchester. At 2:30pm there's WHITE HEATH, the Edinburgh group that released an album on Stow College's Electric Honey record label last year. Famous for having a trombonist instead of a bass player, they'll be playing their new 8-minute-long epic single "In A Glasshouse". At 3pm, FRENCH WIVES will perform songs from their forthcoming debut "Dream of the Inbetween" to be released May 7th on the Electric Honey label. They're just back from a North American tour that included SXSW and Canadian Music Week. 4pm for the return of WOODENBOX having dropped the Fistful of Fivers handle but gained a second album-full of great tunes coming later in the year. 4:30pm is Punk Rock Busker Time: a semi-acoustic set from Scots punks THE MURDERBURGERS whose new album "How To Ruin Your Life" will be available on the day. 5pm to close the festivities we're pleased to welcome back ADMIRAL FALLOW. We'll be selling freshly-pressed vinyl copies of their debut album "Boots Met My Face" an Official UK Record Store Day release, and they'll also be treating us to some songs from their forthcoming "Tree Bursts in Snow".
Good luck with grabbing whatever it is you feel the need to get your mitts on.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
It was a shock to hear that the Lakeside Lounge is to close at the end of this month.
Got the word from Amy (Allison) at the weekend while I was in Newcastle. Talk about the end of an era, this leaves Manitoba’s as the sole beacon down in that slowly vanishing part of NYC. I’m glad that I managed to visit this unique hostelry one last time back in November and wish nothing but good and cool things for the proprietors and bartenders as they bid farewell to this unique space.
For anyone who never got the chance to go there, it was an ideal spot. About as far from fancy as you could hope to get, a sanctuary of sorts with whatever aperitif you felt like and a truly monumental jukebox. Purveyors of spiritual enlightenment in the rock’n’roll sense of such a state. Wish I had some photos from our get together there to share but they’re burned onto my cerebellum and I don’t have a USB to get ‘em from there on to here.
So a huge THANK YOU to Eric and Jim for making such a place possible. We shall never see it’s like again (other than 99 Ave B) in NYC.
However, The Lakeside vibe lives on in Espana however. Let’s all go there and never come back.
Arrived Friday teatime and bumped into The Pretty Things' lead singer Phil May who informed me that they had planned to bring along the Ronnie Lane Mobile recording unit but were told they couldn't due to some bureaucratic something or other. I then spent a very enjoyable dinner in the canteen with the mighty July on their lead singer, acoustic guitarist, and home-made sitar-guitarist Tom Newman's meal voucher as he had to speed off to get a replacement amp for the fast-approaching show. It should be said that the reason I was able to breeze smoothly into their company to begin with is that my good friend Alisdair Mitchell, former four-string swinger with Bangtwister, currently with the highly-rated Glasgow-based Hidden Masters group is the band's new bassist. Then followed a great sound check that gave a taste of what was to come; where Tom played his home-made July logo-shaped "guisitar". The Horrors' Rhys Webb, a good July friend, was on board to make sure the out front mix desk could punch in echo to approximate the tremelo fx the group used across the record.
As they took to the stage for the gig itself spacey music filled the air and a strange apparition resplendent in ancient weird head mask - the original design as seen on their lone '68 Major Minor LP "July". Said apparition carried with her a wooden staff hung with bells which was intermittently banged down on the stage floor as her ritual slowly and deliberately commenced.
July Photo by Holly Calder
Stunning doesn't really cover how the group executed the whole of that fabulous collection; complete in all its searing and disquieting majesty. Pete Cook, their original pre-LP sessions lead guitarist and chief songwriter is easily one of the very best psych-era git players around! Those heavy, searing fuzz notes and incandescent lead runs were, quite simply put, astonishing. Pete also supplied all the little keyboard touches that helped the set ebb and flow throughout. They even dressed up a little too. Tom as the "gentle king" a sort of pre-raphaelite shamanic pop storyteller. Pete in white top strung with hippie beads, and it didn't look at all contrived. Tom's son Jim is the group's second lead guitarist, a truly gifted partnership, keeping chunky yet deft rhythmic moves on the go. And he too can also let fly with an abundance of super-screech upper register solos as required. And the bass work of AM just slots in so perfectly you would've easily thought he'd been a July man long before just the last month or two that he's been rehearsing with them. A very young, fellow Glaswegian called Danny (who joined at the same auditions as Alisdair) produced some spot on, and thoroughly great drumming too.
Mystical, deafening, disquieting, top ho joyous, and truly UFO descendingly psychedelic. July are all that and more in this real-life 2012 "Eight Hour Technicolour Dream" bill, a group very much alive on stage in this smokey pokey world thrilling all in attendance with mad glad sad and exquisite songs like 'Hallo To Me', 'A Bird Lived', 'Move On Sweet Flower', 'Jolly Mary' and of course the rather legendary pair, 'Dandelion Seeds' and 'My Clown'. Two of the major triumphs that serve to illuminate the creative strength of pop's UK '67-'68 era. Group of the night for me without a shadow of doubt and a definite high water-mark of the whole weekend.
Next on was The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown and I must admit I didn't catch all of the set but what I did see and hear was by turns quite enjoyable,but also for me and a few others - a little bit boring and plodding. I have the original album, and like it a lot, although I've not played it in quite some time now. But I thought some of this staged show of the LP played in its entirety had too much of a "revue" kind of atmosphere to it.
Not spontaneous enough? But maybe I just wasn't paying it enough attention after the magnificent July. Organist Lucie was especially enthusiastic though and gave them a bit of drive. You couldn't fault the effort put into all the weird and lavishly colourful costumes on display and the make-up and trippy visuals...and of course - Arthur's soaring vocal histrionics that are still as strong as ever.
Led by the true legends that are lead vocalist Phil May and lead guitarist Dick Taylor, The Pretty Things were here again (they played 'S.F. Sorrow' two or three years back) to play all the material they recorded under their mad '67-'68 'Electric Banana' alter-ego. Annoyingly I missed the opening song which is among the group's best creations from that time, 'Alexander'. One of the highlights of the set was hearing them do the never-before heard live, unissued at the time except for a BBC session rendition, decades-long absolute blistering fave-rave 'Turn My Head'.
Not part of any of the de Wolfe label samplers the EB material appeared on, but nevertheless critical to them and that era. Outrageous! It looked like they really enjoyed doing this one too, and it sounded brilliant; the psych-style visuals were just right too. 'Blow Your Mind' was a bit weird, and with both 'Eagle's Son' and the psych-crown 45 flipside 'Walking Through My Dreams' a bit more practise is needed to extract extra nuance, and get the missing vocal parts, but hey, I'm not sure anyone could name a band that are as far down their particular lifespan avenue that are still as full-on as the magnificent 'Things still are.
With Frank Holland aiding and abetting Taylor in the six-string zone, and George Perez's thumping bass pronunciations and upfront visual presence they flew victoriously through the likes of 'It'll Never Be Me', 'Danger Signs', 'Street Girl', the kooky film-theme that shouldn't-work-but-does 'What's Good For The Goose' and the EB/'S.F.Sorrow' LP crossover 'I See You'. Fans of their earlier period were not left out either as they furnished us with a great 'Get The Picture' and 'LSD' before bowing out with another Sorrow wonder 'Old Man Going'.
Many hours of dancing to garage favourites and some freakbeat winners too, followed in the adjoining room; including a great Poets spot specially spun by the Rhys, which us fans, as it happened some of us having made the trip down from Scotland were particularly chuffed to hear. Rhys you see has recently bought a real original copy of that super-rare Poets Decca 45 'Wooden Spoon' / 'In Your Tower' and he played both sides. Sounded thoroughly superb I must say!
Saturday afternoon’s proceedings was a Dirty Water event in the smaller of the two halls. First up were Thee Vicars, England's smartly-attired young champions of basic r'n'beat-punk but here with a few new add-ons to their palette that even includes a nod or two to a slightly more bluesy, indeed almost soul-struttin' style.
With their new, third album about to come out, 'I Wanna Be Your Vicar' and a couple of new 45s already out, 'Everyday' that was even flipped with a cover of The Sorrows' 'Don't Wanna Be Free'. Another on the US decades-spanning Get Hip label featuring the great 'Can't You See' and 'I'll Do You Wrong', two new blasts of Telecaster-buzzin' beat action, alongside hoof-hoppin'ly wild instro 'The Dirty Dog', the group have much to be pleased about.
Girl drummer Alex has been with them eighteen months or so now, and takes a basic no-nonsense approach to the kit that fits really well with the group's already stripped-down beat template. Although now happening perhaps fewer times than before, the group can still evoke moments of early Who meeting The Milkshakes for a scrap in Hamburg's Star Club. Mike and Chris as always share lead vocals, the former with great projection, especially on the newer material. Chris’s lead guitar is definitely becoming more prominent; ear-shredding too with the overall song structures and general playing seeing a more proficient sounding group than ever.
Nonetheless they can still end in a pile-up of flailing limbs and feedback-drenched, mic-stand scraping sounds and optimum energy is for sure being expended. The crowd could've been more up for it but maybe it was still too early in the day, given that most folks had a pretty hectic, not to mention, a pretty late night.
Madrid's Hollywood Sinners followed this with a fine display of amped-up rock'n'roll sounds. They play in a teenage-spirited Sonics-style zone; only heavier with less fundamental melody to impart. They then throw in some MC5-styled shapes but, significantly, without any of the protracted lead soloing, or mutated avant-jazzisms. Edu "Gone Sinner Gone" on Burns guitar leads his cohorts thru' a tasty barrage of numbers from past singles and debut LP plus a few more recently-penned items propelled by wild sing-a-longs and plenty garage riff-a-rama.
This paved the way nicely for a group whose name is a serious contender for one of the best beat-era groups of all time, Coventry's The Sorrows. Fronted by the 60s giant, figuratively and literally, who is also equally legendary singer, Don Fardon. The group also includes original bassist Phil Packham, who wore a very wide smile almost the whole time they were playing. This recently re-constituted combo seriously ripped and tore their way thru almost all of their astounding 1965 'Take A Heart' LP and also some of their incredible single sides. Included in the set were rollicking, gasp out loud-inducing interpretations of 'Baby', 'Let Me In', 'Don't Sing No Sad Songs For Me', 'Let The Live Live' and 'Come With Me'. They really made the audience jump and shout! Later, as if we hadn't had enough, they also gave us 'Gonna Find A Cave' plus the wildest versions of 'Lucille' and 'Teenage Letter'.
Sorrows photo by Lenny Helsing
Drummer was Nigel Lomas who's been a Sorrow off and on since 1970; and who also played with The Eggy (the superb 'You're Still Mine'/'Hookey' 45 from '69 on Spark that foretold the sound of The Sweet and Queen). The rhythm guitar/occasional vocalist ('No No No No' and 'You've Got What I Want') was another smiler called Brian Wilkins and blasting out on coruscatingly brilliant lead guitar was seventeen year old prodigy Marcus Webb. There's not much more to say, except that not many groups coming back from the 60s have ever sounded as good as these guys did.
Along with July, The Sorrows were the real stars of le Beat Bespoke 8.
OK, just who are The Screamin' Vendettas? Does anyone really know, well whoever this surreal nun-styled be-masked, smartly dressed-in-black combo are - they have themselves a great grooving sound with live-wire lead playing and a mean bass pummel. Not to mention a good line in some dry humour. They came across as very English too which was quite refreshing and they really did the beat business on a brace of cool teen-garage swingers. Some of their choice covers included the likes of Texas faves Larry and the Blue Notes' 'Night Of The Sadist' and Joe Meek-groomed Heinz's killer chicken-scratch git beater 'Movin' In'.
I had been swithering whether to traipse across town to watch pals Les Bof! at the Drop in Stoke Newington or to stay put and give The Trashmen another chance. I'd seen them once before when the group I drum for, The Wildebeests, played on the same bill in Las Vegas in 1999. I didn't think too much of them at that gig but decided I wanted to catch them again. They were pre-figured by a Spanish film about their importance and influence on groups like The Neanderthals and Waaarrgghh & Los Aaaarggghhh's that was shown on the onstage screen. Once over, it was onto the real deal, live in person.
It was almost all the original line-up with Dal Winslow on rhythm, Bob Reed on bass, his son Rob(?) on drums, introduced as "the first Trash-kid", and of course there was lead vocalist and lead-guitar tingler Tony Andreason. Tony handled most of the lead vocals, and Rob did stuff like 'Bird Bath' and other assorted aviaryations when required. I'm sure everybody then thought Rob would be the one doing 'Surfin' Bird' but it was actually Tony doing the main vocal there and pretty neat neat neat it was too.
All in all I'd say they treated us to a mostly superb collection culled from their recordings from almost half-a-century ago. Let's see, we got 'Kuk', 'My Woodie', Buddy Holly's 'It's So Easy', 'Malaguena', a nicely put together medley for their old pal Link Wray, 'A-Bone', 'King Of The Surf', and of course the one everybody and their parrot knows...pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-oo-mow-mow-pa-pa-oo-mow-mow. One or two little confusing moments of timing and rhythm, but they were probably invisible to the majority of the capacity crowd, and the amp of Dal "the master of disaster" Winslow sputtered a bit early on, but, alas, didn't die.
So, hey yeah baby, it's The Trashmen in excellent concert delivery.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Further to my last message, I found two VHF cassettes and my recall was way off. The sound they had was kinda Spectres-era BÖC butting heads with The Raspberries. The centre piece being Rich's incredible voice.
A wee pinch of latterday Groovies evident also. Anyway I'm glad I found these things and "Kerry Please" is just as incredible as I remembered it to be. These inlays in the man's own hand, figured you might like to see them. Check out the wind-out on the live stuff card... "NO NOISE REDUCTION - It would be a contradiction!". Amen to that brother.
To set the scene for this we have to travel back quite a time, to my 20th birthday and The Roundhouse in London. The Dictators opened for a troupe of stinking hippie opportunists and Jake Seath and I made the pilgrimage. A previous altercation here up north prevented us meeting our heroes that night. The dick (actually his name - nothing to do with Sir Richard Manitoba I hasten to add) that managed said faux-prog act wouldn’t let us through and that smarted a bit.
Not completely thwarted, I forwarded a package of fanzines to the band via Elektra who had just issued “Manifest Destiny” not really expecting anything. In those days though we’d already made connections and just a few months before, we’d met The Ramones.
I was a persistent wee blighter, even then.
So a few weeks later, a letter arrives from one Richie Teeter – drummist with le Dictators at that point, it felt like maybe there was a god. From that point on the hook up was made. Not just with the band but with Ms Miriam Linna, one half of that supreme tag team – The Millers. Rich had given Miriam a copy of NBT and she wrote me enclosing a whole when of cool NY gear and issues of her Flamin’ Groovies zine. That was the beginning of a beautiful friendship that will last for all time. And keeping up the string, she worked for Marty Thau at Red Star. So I sent her a tape of Simple Minds demo and she passed it on to Howard Thompson, who I’ll be seeing “dahn the London” in just a couple of weeks, quite a few George Bailey points to be going on with there.
I also remember coming in one night and finding a demo cassette for Bloodbrothers that I played over and over. Rich also supplied the means for me to introduce “16 Forever” to The Nomads. This would ultimately set the scene for the "Three Generations of Master Race Rock"summit in Sweden.
But anyway, this is just a long winded tribute to Ritchie. He was instrumental in setting out my stall in so many ways. Later today, I’m going to seek out our correspondence and reminisce. Hell, he and his wife almost attended my wedding way back longer ago than it’s safe to think about. You’ve heard him sing – if there was ever a voice that deserved to be on radio then it was his. After The Dictators, he formed VHF, an AOR-ish power pop combo that never got a break. They had one song in particular called “Kerry Please” that I recall being a smash in waiting. I need to retrieve that today too along with the "press kit".
I only ever met him once for a short period of time but I’m glad I did. Of course I wish it’d been more but as you well know, we seldom get what we want. So when I saw JP’s notice on fb yesterday my heart sank. How could this be? Hasn’t 2012 been bad enough that my friends are being picked off now in addition to family?
So I just want to publicly thank Rich for supplying the big beat that propelled me on this long, peculiar journey. My thoughts are with his friends and family. The only contact info I had for him was via the Sam Ash store, if anyone has an e-mail contact for his family, I’d sure appreciate you sending it on.
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Sunday, April 08, 2012
Sunday, April 01, 2012
NBT is 35 today. I don't really have the energy to regurgitate the story again. Actually there's not much of a story because I have no clue as to how I got here or WTF I'm talking about most of the time. This has intensified lately.
The last thing I feel like doing of an evening right now is blogging but I need to fight the urge to ice it altogether.
It was a surprise to see that two issues (2 + 5) made it to Mick Jones' Rock'n'Roll Public Library exhibit that just closed yesterday down in "the London". See Martin Percival's photographic evidence here.
So yeah, this entity has followed me over the hill. Like a faithful dog or horse or whatever. No amount of shoo'ing seems to work so it seems like you're stuck with me Would be nice to have Jeroen and Steve drop by but they actually seem to have lives so good on 'em.
Roll on them Easter holidays. Just under two weeks until Dave Alvin gets here, a faint glimmer on the horizon.