Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I am so far behind with stuff that it is entirely possible that catch up will never be achieved but let’s try to at least address some of it.

Tav Falco will be doing a reading at Rough Trade East tomorrow afternoon at 3pm.

Eric and Amy kick off their return to these pallid shores tomorrow night (30th) at The Greystones in Sheffield, nice joint. Check here for the full itinerary and if you don’t have tickets for London then you better be quick. The dynamic duo is also headed for Germany. I’ll see you in Hull my friends...

Count on Susquehanna Industrial Tool & Die Co. to keep you in corn. This week at Otto's followed by a return to the home of "Sleep No More" and our last Rodeo Bar show until September!

*THURSDAY, MAY 31st / OTTO'S SHRUNKEN HEAD / 538 East 14th Street (just west of Avenue B) in ol' Manhattan / A pair of big & bawdy sets, from 8:00 sharp until 10:00 / No cover!

*TUESDAY, JUNE 5th / MANDERLEY BAR at THE McKITTRICK HOTEL / 532 West 27th Street (between 10th & 11th Avenues) in Manhattan / 10:30 'til 11:30, following the evening's performance of "Sleep No More" / Mention "SIT & Die" at the door after 10pm for *free* admission! /

*WEDNESDAY, JUNE 13th / RODEO BAR / 375 Third Avenue (on the corner of 27th Street) in Manhattan / Our last Rodeo residency show for the summer! / 9:00 sharp 'til midnight / No cover!

Yours in hardcore corn,
Susquehanna Industrial Tool & Die Co.
"Ballads, Boogies & Blues"

Sunday, May 27, 2012

So, let’s take the Foo(d) Fighters as a point of reference for comparison to Imperial State Electric. How nice a guy or how much of a fan he is of music, Dave Grohl and co have no songs. They throw all the right shapes and never fail to come up short. Two albums in to their existence, ISE burst in and kick the FF’s arse at every turn. In terms of outright “rock”, I’m not sure that there’s a better recent example than “Pop War”.

It’s so soulfully and beautifully constructed from shards of the past yet it’s no museum piece. Proof that, when done with this much love for the form, that it can be timeless. While audiences are queuing to hear albums being played live in order, the bastards are quite happy to shuffle play their lives away. Or make do with approximations. It’s no secret that I believe (and still do) that The Hellacopters should have ruled the earth. Nicke Andersson is a master craftsman. Tinkering away caring not a jot if the world catches up with him or not. His fellow passengers in the ‘copters are all doing other things too but if Dregen has stayed put and not joined Backyard Babies then the landscape of this story might be different.

Consisting of just 10 songs, this is over before you know it. Never outstaying any welcome and even countering ADD, it just rattles through offering quality over quantity, leaving the listener wanting more. It’s quite a tonic to these times in addition to being such a joyous noise. I wonder if there’s a tear in the timeslip that could connect these guys with the size of audience that they deserve. I’m afraid it might actually be too pure for mass consumption. But that would be any potential consumer’s loss. We don’t have time to concern ourselves with that.

Anybody with the chops to sound like they thought it would be a good idea to resuscitate memories of Montrose one minute and have the cheek to emulate Roy Wood-era ELO the next is entirely the type of person who should be in high rock office. “Enough To Break Your Heart” does just that and well, it is. And as the strings soar into the stratosphere, I can’t help but think that we should move lock stock and barrel to ISEland. For it seems like a far, far better place.

Which brings us to the Stockholm 'burb of “Solna”, also the title of the new Nomads album. Now I’ve written many acres about that band over the years and they’ve never ever let me down. I believe them to be like family. So it was pretty great to see such deserving folks as they crash the Swedish album charts lately. So I mention them here because they’ve made a really fine record. Perhaps their best, all this way down the road. Never resting on their laurels or diluting something that was never a good idea in the first instance just bashing out their primo gear as only they can.

And, had it not been for them, there would be no Imperial State Electric, or Hellacopters. Someone asked me recently if I thought “Miles Away”, the album opener was trite. And while I recognised what this person was getting at – having gone back and studies it to some degree – I’m pleased to report a resounding “no fucking way”. Rather it sets out the stall perfectly for what follows.

The 45 version on Universal has a stoating Tommy Ferdi Andersson song entitled “Something Good, Something New” on the flip. The Devils Jukebox release has “American Beat” on its reverse. And “Make Up My Mind” is just one of the greatest wee pop tunes that I’ve ever heard. Yes, ever. Maybe one day it’ll be a 45 too because it sure deserves to be. The vinyl edition or “Solna” includes “Fine Fine Line” that sounds like Mud taking a crack at “Jukebox Babe”. Glam-mungous!!

It may have taken a wee whiley to get this together but it was sure worth it, excellent work gents and gracias for continuing to deliver the goods.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Monday, May 21, 2012

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A new Joey Ramone album, 11 years after the big fella left the building, is finally coming out soon and of course the over-riding plus in all this is we get to hear his voice again. One song, “Party Line” is, in my opinion, up there with anything he ever did but how is the rest of it. Is it like the time Natalie and Nat King Cole got together or the colourisation of a classic black and white movie?

Actually it’s pretty good. Having been assembled from demos and rebuilt using friends/fans to lay down the firepower, “... ya know?” is a “relative” success being that Joe’s brother Mickey Leigh has coordinated it. It sounds big and powerful and Joe is singing great. As I understand it, it's culled from across quite some stretch of time. Haven’t clocked a finished copy so I don’t know if such information is annotated. I sure hope that it is.

The road to this has been twisty. It would have been nice if there could have been a “documentary” version that presented the songs as they were with what they became. Maybe a film to go with it but this ain’t the case so we should probably just savour the fact that it exists in any form. One big question that bugs me however and it’s this...

Would Joey have wanted this material out? I’m thinking perhaps not. But it’s the closest we’ll ever be to him being around and – in essence - anything that makes the memories of the guy burn has to be a good thing.

I can just about listen to “Party Line” now without feeling like I have something in my eye. The first time it outright made me cry. “Waiting For That Railroad” is practically roots rock of Del Lords variety. The Percy Faith(ful) rendition of “Merry Christmas” is cool. Wish they’d slapped “Duke of Earl” on here too – did you ever hear that? Blasting off with Joe’s voice soaked in funky cold medina on “Rock’n’Roll Is The Answer” would perhaps have gotten to radio if that medium still existed. Joey's predeliction for Bolan really comes across here and there.

He should have owned the airwaves when he was alive but unfortunately we are where we fucking are - missing the fact that the greatest singer of my generation ain’t still around making music and being a force for good. The star-studded cast brought together to nail this presumably did so out of a common goal to celebrate the subject. After all, Joey and his group made it possible for many of them to be where they are. The rock pantheon, like life, is an ill-divided platform. Sitting on a mushroom out in the woods throwing some WHO shapes seems like a fairly attractive proposition right about now.

So here we have Little Stevie Van Zandt playing train conductor (those are his dulcet tones at the end of “New York City” right?) and “I Couldn’t Sleep” seems to radiate a Jukebox Babe kind of mutant rockabilly. Maybe this should have been the single because it positively crackles. Kinda got chills when I heard “Wonderful World” blasting out as the music bed of a Thomas Cook ad in The Hippodrome recently.

The Ramones brand is ubiquitous but it saddens me that only Tommy remains to see it but CJ and Ritchie may yet enjoy some fruit from their association. I don’t count Mark and as I understand it, he’s on some of this scratching out further mileage.

With only Line Dahlmann coming close to delivering a more devastating woah-oh-oh these days, it’s a fine notion to be able to enjoy my old friend’s voice again. It was suggested to me lately that Mickey might have re-recorded some of the vocals but that’s a bridge too far for me to even contemplate. Such a conspiracy theory is surely up there with the notion that the twin towers was an inside job. Isn’t it? I often wonder what Joey would have thought about what happened down there and how it affected his “town”.

Anyway hear it for yourselves here, I’m curious as to what YOU think.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Friday, May 18, 2012

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

So I started off this morning thinking it was Wednesday. The psychological tsunami that overcame me when the penny dropped was a little fractious but by the time I get to tomorrow I’ll be back on track. It’s hard to keep stock and it seems like it’s even harder to find the time, or more importantly the will, to blog anything. This is problematic because there’s stuff that I want you to know but never get around to. Tonight is a night “off” so let’s try to address that after I knock my column for The OX into some kind of order.

Don’t fret. I’m sceptical that I’ll make it back too but you just never know.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Monday, May 07, 2012

The compatibility between the new blogger and my pedal powered PC is, well, let's just call it a strain. On top of everything else the futzing with the facaca formatting is doing my head in.

Never had time to bitch and moan about the new postal rates either. I think the expression "fucking deplorable" might just about cover it. They're really taking the piss. So some consideration with regard to the use of the mail service will have to be considered. Apparently it's reasonable compared to other countries, but hey - they would say that.

Still have to write up the Dave Alvin shows and get to some of these records including The Nomads and Joey Ramone gear. I did manage to finish the Geator book during my latest train journey too so I need to hep you to that also. Eventually. Sometime.

It's the May Day holiday and while I should go out for a wander and grab some supplies, I have no desire to be soaked so maybe later.

Another tale of punk-rock-pounding down under, this one from David Swift in "The Melbourne". Note - it's not the Cavern Club...

THE SONICS at the Caravan Club
Oakleigh RSL, suburban SE Melbourne Australia

Friday April 27

So you spend 30 years listening to 'em, thinking you will never EVER get to see 'em, and then The Sonics turn up locally and smash you in the lugs twice in three days!

There is an inescapable law of diminishing returns about rock'n'roll reunions and they are (almost) always best avoided.'s The Sonics. How could you not go-see? Even ''older and wiser' at 50, I could not resist. And did not. And these guys are all pushing 70 now.

They package-toured Australia for two weeks this April as part of the Hoodoo Gurus' ''Dig It Up!'' travelling carnival of excellence also starring The Fleshtones, The's, Redd Kross, and some other home-grown luminaries. The Gurus flew in their best foreign friends to celebrate three decades in the biz. Their bill represented remarkable value and awesome good taste, and what a terrific day out it was at the Palace Theatre in Melbourne on April 25, Anzac Day (our veterans day).

Steve Wynn and Redd Kross were exceptional - but it took The Sonics to really outgun the hosts and the high-expectation reception they received led to the Gurus cutting their headline set short, believing the audience had been strafed and slaughtered Gallipoli-style by those old bastards from Tacoma, Washington to such an extent, that the crowd had zero energy or excitement left in them. Quite possibly true - the reception the hosts got was comparatively flat.

But then, two days later, attention turned - keeping it Anzac-esque - to a veterans' club in suburban southeast Melbourne which occasionally doubles as a gig venue. (As Returned Services League clubs, equivalent to British Legion bars, have done for several decades here.) The Caravan Club, a hipster co-op who regularly book the RSL's dance hall and occasionally land some great acts including the Celibate Rifles 3 months ago, somehow obtained the services of The Sonics for their only Australian side-show. The one time here they appeared solo separate from ''Dig It Up''.

Tickets went even faster than their Sub-Pop compilation CD of some years back and the ''sold out" sign was on the website within a matter of days. Capacity about 300, it's about the same size as King Tut's in Glasgow but doesn't hold as many people because there's a tables-and-chairs section for the older punters. Not that, on this night, there were many older than the band... The Sonics took to the stage to rapturous applause and it was clear by the air of excitement that a great many people had chosen this small event instead of the package-deal two days earlier to witness history being made. Age shall not weary them!

They tore it up with every selection you would expect, right down to filling the set with Little Richard covers. Just like they would have done nearly 50 years ago at sock-hops in greater Tacoma. Remember, these guys started out when American Graffiti was modern living. It is joyous to note that nearly five decades down the line, guitarist Lary Parypa can still wring maximum menace with minimal effort from his strings. He barely breaks a sweat while busting out the few chords of fame that frame ''Strychnine'', 'Have Love Will Travel'', ''Psycho'', etc.....

On the other hand, band leader Gerry Roslie - while still pumping the keyboards fiercely - has clearly lost his formidable growl at the microphone, and expecting to hear him wail and holler just like he did in those first sessions for Etiquette is just too much optimistic. Which is where new-era ring-in Freddie Dennis on bass really shows his worth - he might well be of a near-pensionable age himself but he screams just like Mr Roslie did in 1965 and when he takes over the lead vocals on several numbers, things get real primitive.

When drinking in the honk and squawk of Rob Lind's sax above the tumult on both sides of him, you do wonder how many other former Vietnam fighter pilots (yup) are still delivering a SONIC BOOM in 2012.....

The Sonics blasted through the set you would wish for with a couple of new additions and it has to be said that one fresh romp entitled ''Bad Attitude'' is a thunderbolt from the original DNA. Live at least, it stands right up there with their platinum punk and more than makes up for one or two inevitably weaker new offerings. It was a privilege and a blast to see and hear The Sonics in the flesh.

And they do their legend full justice.

Photos by David Swift

Es muy grande! Susquehanna Industrial Tool & Die Co. returns to the ol' Rodeo Bar this week, following a month off from its residency there. As always, with free peanuts and no cover!

*WEDNESDAY, MAY 9th / RODEO BAR / 375 Third Avenue (on the corner of 27th Street) in Manhattan / Starting at 9:00 sharp and carrying on 'til midnight / No cover! / 

Plus, in the far off future...

*THURSDAY, MAY 31st / OTTO'S SHRUNKEN HEAD / 538 East 14th Street (just west of Avenue B) in ol' Manhattan / A pair of big & bawdy sets, from 8:00 sharp until 10:00 / No cover! /

*TUESDAY, JUNE 5th / MANDERLEY BAR at THE McKITTRICK HOTEL / 532 West 27th Street (between 10th & 11th Avenues) in Manhattan / 10:30 'til 11:30, following the evening's performance of "Sleep No More" / Mention "SIT & Die" at the door after 10pm for *free* admission! /

Yours in orthopedic recovery (still),
Susquehanna Industrial Tool & Die Co.
"Ballads, Boogies & Blues"

Brother Ross Nelson's DIG IT UP!
Hoodoo Gurus 30th Anniversary Invitational – Sydney, Sunday 22 April 2012

The Hoodoo Gurus 30th anniversary invitational, Dig It Up, landed Sydney with what may well have been the best line-up of rock n roll action that many could recall – ever! A 10 hour feast that didn’t let up. Hats off to Tim Pittman and his Feel Presents cohorts and the Gurus for pulling together such a stellar line up.

Spread across four venues within spitting distance of each other, with the main course being served up at the Enmore (capacity around 2000),with supports in much smaller rooms at Notes, The Sly Fox Hotel and The Green Room. While there was no possible way to see every act, we were safe in knowing no matter where we ventured, there’d be something worth a look. My strategy revolved around the Enmore and darting across the road for whatever I could catch during breaks.

The Hard Ons got things underway but I missed most of their set queuing for my ticket. The three songs I saw conjured up recall of the many nights I saw them during the 80’s. Always masters of sonic overload, barely restrained and that’s what I witnessed again albeit too briefly. I should get out to see ‘em more often. The first dash gets me the tail end of The Straight Arrows – contemporary local garage rock that seemed on the money with plenty of movement on stage and a tight, rockin’ sound. They wrapped their set with a cover of “The World Aint Round, Its Square” hit the spot quite nicely.

Next up on the main stage were The Fleshtones. They’d been out here twenty or so years back that I’d somehow missed but their reputation precedes them and there was a big audience ready for fun and they didn’t disappoint. Sure, I’d have loved to hear them play a set full of stuff from way back but what we got was all good. High kicks, cheesy grins and numerous crowd incursions from Keith and Ken. I recognised a couple of songs from their more recent records, a song about the Ramones and even an instrumental “Day Tripper”. A fun set that set the mood for the day.

I caught a chunk of The Lovetones set at Notes. Matt Tow has been a mainstay of the Sydney scene for years, he knows his craft and these Tones albeit without the antics of the previous 'Tones, pleased me and the crowd with an impressive selection of tunes. Next up was the “surprise” (not) band Kids In Dust, aka Sunnyboys. The last time the original line-up played together was back in 84. The last I saw of a band under the name was sometime late 80’s when Jeremy Oxley played out with a different line up and I recall that occasion as being somewhat chaotic due largely to Jeremy’s unhealthy mental state. But this was the real deal – he was obviously well enough to perform and looking excited to be back. The crowd was with them immediately and the band responded.

I didn’t recognise the first song but from the second, “Love To Rule” through the rest of the set, it was spine-tingling stuff. Memories of so many killer nites back in the day flooded back and here they were reeling their best off right here, right now. It was a hit and lovefest with much of their first and best album covered. “The Seeker”, “Tunnel of Love”, “Liar” and the closing “Alone With You” amongst highlights. While the songs were a tad more measured in their delivery than at their peak, everything was played with precision and gusto, a perfect comeback and the emotional highlight of the day without a doubt.

Managed to catch a few songs of Belles Will Ring next – another local band whom I’d not seen before. They featured one of the guitar players from The Lovetones as lead singer displaying enough over three songs to make me want to hear more of their beautiful and effervescent pop.

Long having been a Redd Kross true believer, their set was a definite highlight amongst highlights. Tight as a very tight thing and armed with a choice set list, they brought it well and truly as they romped through “Annette’s Got the Hits”, “Lady in the Front Row”, “Switchblade Sister”, “Frosted Flake”, “Blow You a Kiss In the Wind” and an absolutely poptastic “Pretty Please Me”. Bless the McDonald brothers for they know rock’n'roll only too well. As does the next guy up on the Notes stage.
Steve Wynn last played Sydney in 87 with the last version of Dream Syndicate – the one with Cutler on guitar in place of Precoda. That show was pretty awesome and nothing much had changed. With a band comprising Steve’s wife, Linda Pitmon on drums, Keith Streng and Ken Fox, we got a choice selection of DS tunes including “Tell Me When It’s Over”, “Halloween” and “That’s What They Always Say” plus a host of equally wonderful songs from Steve’s extensive back catalogue. An almighty set.

Meanwhile, back at the Enmore – Rob, Deniz and Jim from Radio Birdman (we can surely call Jim a Birdman with so many years of solid service) with Dave Kettley from New Christs also on guitar and a drummer who I was unfamiliar with but who nailed it impressively. They were on form and on target with a set built around Birdman songs with a few covers (including a spot-on “Hindu Gods of Love”) and some Visitors tunes also. Super charged, right on the money. I missed Royal Headache, a new-ish local band doing good things and one that I was hoping to see and also Kim Salmon and Spencer Jones. But hell, I needed to stop and grab some sustenance for a half hour before the final run.

Died Pretty was next. I last saw them sometime around 1992. Another band I’d seen perform some heroic shows and others being an absolute shambles. They built themselves into something truly special by the late 80’s. Tonight they picked up right from around that time in full flight and sounding quite amazing. For me Godbless, Winterland and Sweetheart were top of the deck.

Made a dash back to Notes to catch some of The 5678s and kinda regret missing the last piece of Died Pretty’s set. In fact, it was the only small regret of the day. Moments of cool but an over-riding sense of what could have or should have been is what lingered after their set. Funnily enough, I’d seen them in New York in November and they’d left me with the exact same impression. Maybe it’s me… But the next band I’d also seen in NY and so I knew what I had the right to expect.

To think I’d be seeing The Sonics again so soon seemed ridiculous – but it was true! In 2012! In Sydney! Incredible but true. I’d done my best to keep my enthusiasm in check with friends cos I didn’t want to set expectations too high. But any sense of them falling short on what I’d already witnessed were right out the window from the get go. They claimed the stage and ripped into “He’s Waitin’” and then it was manna from heaven all over again. With Gerry’s vocals more than ably supported by those of the new kid on bass, Freddie Dennis, they set about delivering the goods or the greats. “Louie, Louie”, “Have Love Will Travel”, “Money” (all the covers which the Sonics did are still the best covers ever!) plus “Boss Hog”, “Strychnine”, “Psycho”, “The Witch”, the whole shebang. Larry extracts the perfect tone from his guitar and effortlessly peels off the riffs, Rob Lind is focussed and his sax is integral to the whole thing, The perfect frat-rock foil to Larry’s guitar. Ricky Johnson on drums was an ace replacement for Bob Bennett. Being a 45 minute set, it seemed like Gerry was able to pace himself vocally early on but a few songs from the finish he must have decided he still had plenty in reserve and really brought it. Amazing and glorious, the set of the day.

Forever embedding their status of kings of whatever you want to call it with their Sydney audience. Incredible! Which left our hosts, the Gurus, to send us home. Being the 30th anniversary of “Leilani”, their run through the debut album is a sentimental touch-point for many. “Stoneage Romeos” still holds up as an incredible jukebox of styles and sounds. Picks for me were “Tojo”, “I Want You Back” and “My Girl” though it all went down a treat. We got a bunch of other songs in the second half of the set to ram home the combo’s well-established credentials in popsongdom. It’s a well honed live show of flash, bash and still a bit of trash to crown an absolutely fantastic day.

As we spilled outside and started to take stock, some were calling to do it all again next year. For me that’s too early and I’ll be happy to hang onto this one for a bit longer.

Photos by Ross Nelson

Coming soon - The Melbourne leg...

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Friday, May 04, 2012

RIP - Adam (MCA) Yauch

(link courtesy of Doctor H.)

(Thanks to Morten Henriksen for the link)