Tuesday 30 December 2008

Primal Scream - self-titled

Glam? Not exactly - but nestling inbetween their jangly, Birds-esque debut Sonic Flower Groove (pleasant enough but far from outstanding) and the Mercury award winning Screamadelica (the classic indie/dance crossover album), Bobby Gillespie and co. put out Primal Scream .

Split roughly 50/50 between trashy rock & roll featuring the best riffs that Johnny Thunders failed to use, and what could almost be out-takes from Big Star's Third album, this was Primal Scream's first attempt at dorning low-slung Les Pauls, later explored in greater depth (and with longer guitar straps) on the more Stones-esque Give Out But Don't Give Up.

Gillespie's voice occasionally lets him down, a feature that has affected much of Primal Scream's output. Oddly on perhaps the album's most challenging track, I'm Losing More Than I'll Ever Have, he more than holds his own. It is this track that gave the band their breakthrough when remixed and released as 'Loaded' (the title surely taken from the Velvet Underground album of the same name, as the track's main refrain is very similar to Oh! Sweet Nuthin').

Monday 22 December 2008

Iron Maiden - Oxford Apollo 3/10/86

The first of an occasional series, and where better to start than that classic music chat staple - 'my first gig'.

Naturally I'd like to claim that it was something prodigious. Hanoi Rocks did make it to within a few miles of my hometown, but in June 1983 I was 12 and completely unaware of their existence.

I did, though, see a gig at my local youth club circa 1984 that featured a band called Glamour Eyes who, I was told many years later, covered 'Don't You Ever Leave Me' (again, I wouldn't have known the song at the time). The guitarist in Glamour Eyes, one Richard Davies, later achieved a certain degree of fame in Tiny Monroe and was even touted as a possible replacement when Bernard Butler left Suede.

Local gigs aside though the privilege falls to the mighty Iron Maiden, out on the road to promote Somewhere in Time in 1986. Support act Paul Samson's Empire therefore became the first 'proper' band I saw live, and to be honest I can remember precisely nothing about them - we weren't there for them and as proficient as I'm sure they were, they simply weren't Maiden. 2,000 people effectively saying "Move on, there's nothing to see here" - a scene repeated down the years at pretty much every gig I've been to.

Although not on a par with the Long Beach Arena (as pored over on Live After Death), Maiden are a band that treat every show as though they're playing in a stadium and so I didn't feel short-changed even though one prop (a robotic alien Eddie) had to be pulled as the Apollo couldn't accomodate it. And 'scream for me Oxford' doesn't have quite the same ring as the famous 'scream for me Long Beach'. As far as first gigs go though there was a very real chance that it could only be downhill from then on ....

Two years later Maiden were headlining at the Monsters of Rock in Donington Park. A lot had changed in that time, and with Appetite For Destruction having been released the year before - and Guns N' Roses taking a lowly spot on the bill - we all trooped up in our glam finery (or rather our very bad interpretation of it). Along with my friend Mark we made it very clear that we had no interest in watching Iron Maiden .... until approximately five seconds after they took the stage, sufficient time for Bruce and the boys to make it clear just how bloody good they were and we found ourselves desperately clawing through the crowd to get as close to the stage as possible. A reminder to one and all that you should never restrict yourself to one form, genre or sub-genre of music. If it's good, it's good.

Friday 19 December 2008

Twisted Sister - Twisted Christmas

Good lord. I forgot I had this lurking on my PC.

It's hardly Phil Spector - in fact it's pure Twisted Sister. 'O Come All Ye Faithful' is so close to 'We're Not Gonna Take It' it's frightening.

Happy Christmas one and all.

PS - alternatively check out the star-studded We Wish You a Metal Christmas and a Headbanging New Year.

Thursday 18 December 2008

Under Neath What? - What Is It

One for Dave/Lazarus.

Under Neath What? were the slightly odd choice of support for the Dogs D'Amour in 1989, a tour I caught at the Hammersmith Odeon (this was before it became the 'Labbats Apollo' and all the other daft names - it's the Hammy O, let's just leave it at that). Less than 6 months earlier I'd seen the Dogs at the much smaller Bristol Bierkeller, and it looked as though they hadn't upgraded their equipment in that time as their small, 50w amps were simply on chairs on the Odeon stage and miked up - not quite the wall of Marshalls that you might see lined-up behind The Cult.

Anyway, back to Under Neath What? and their only album, What Is It?. Difficult to describe (and that's not me being lazy; even the band's posthumous My Space page sidesteps any attempt at naming influences or describing their own sound), I did like Dave's description on the thread that refuses to die: "the musical version of taking Ketamin...warped, heavy and oppressive".

Yet again Sleazegrinder comes through with another great piece (in fact I mention that site so often that I'm wondering whether I should make this blog a permanent link to it and forgot about writing anything of my own ...).

Tuesday 16 December 2008

Barracudas - Drop Out With The Barracudas

Making it onto Glamrock Aftershock via drummer Nick Turner's later role in the Lords Of The New Church (and if you're reading this in Australia and enjoying the sunshine, this is a great summer listen btw), Drop Out With the Barracudas is a fine album of two halves.

Side one leans towards a darker, brooding garage sound while side two (kicking off with the top 40 hit 'Summer Fun') sees the Barracudas 1980 take on the Beach Boys, but within a year of its release the rhythm section moved on (according to a piece on Noise For Heroes bassist David Buckley was pushed while Turner jumped ship). The subsequent Barracudas that emerged concentrated more on the garage sound (The Garbage Dump Tapes are also well worth a spin).

So if the ubiquitous Christmas music is getting to you, check out the Ba-ba-ra-ra-cu-cu-da-das - they'll soon put a smile back on your face.

Monday 15 December 2008

The Joneses

If only a fraction of what I've read about the Joneses is an accurate reflection of the band then I should love them:

'A hot-blooded mix of the New York Dolls, Johnny Thunders, and Eddie Cochran, too glam for punk and too punk for rock. If the term “trashy rock ‘n’ roll” could only apply to one band, The Joneses would take the label in spades' (Full Breach records)

'One of the last of the great "loud and snotty" REAL trashy glam rock'n'roll bands who WERE 100% authentic were Hollywood's Joneses. The Joneses really did have that raunchy, fifties rhythm and blues stilletto appeal that always informed the REAL Johnny Thunders. Whiney, brattish, sneering vocals, yearning high-lonesome for another fix, scuzzy dueling guitars shades of the greats, horny piano pounding worthy of Jerry Lee or Little Richard, catchy choruses that you could never be certain about-was he singin' about dope or chicks? Either/both/probably dope, mostly.' (Sleazegrinder)

I've recently read on Glitzinet that a new collection is being issued - Criminal History- but having listened to a few online samples I've not been grabbed. This may be down to the fact that I've only tried listening to them at work and haven't been able to crank it up - but as a fan of the New York Dolls, Soho Roses, Gunfire Dance, Stiv etc (i.e. not Warrant, Winger or Slaughter) should I persevere? Answers on a postcard please (or just via the comments box if you prefer ...).

Thursday 4 December 2008

Crazyhead - Desert Orchid

Thanks to Mark E Moon I'm again able to revel in the delight that is Crazyhead's Desert Orchid.

Lumped in to the 'grebo' scene of the late 80s (along with Gaye Bykers on Acid and PWEI), Crazyhead had deeper roots than the tag might have suggested and - like Gunfire Dance - had a penchant for obscure 60s garage music. Quickly signed to Food records, the band found themselves on some good tours (The Cult, Iggy Pop) and made headway in the Indie charts with singles such as the fantastically titled 'What Gives You The Idea That You're So Amazing Baby?'.
It seems that Food records being bought out by EMI (ostensibly to get hold of label mates Jesus Jones) was the beginning of the end for Crazyhead, and two minor hit singles from the album weren't enough to stop them being dropped.

Desert Orchid is another one for the growing list of long-deleted (but highly sought-after)albums. However, the band are planning to tour next year and so maybe that could change. If anyone out there has a record label and wants to pick it up (along with Uncle Sam's Letters From London, the Four Horsemen's Nobody Said It Was Easy and the Beasts of Bourbon's back catalogue) then you'll find some grateful purchasers out there ....

Wednesday 3 December 2008

Jane's Addiction - Nothings Shocking

First off, big thanks to the Swindon Music forum spin-off thread (5 weeks, 2,145 views and 172 posts down the line and still going strong) for reuniting me with this album. 99p well spent ....

I did have the LP (with rubber sleeve) from its first release, when someone told me that they were a mix of Guns 'n Roses and the Rolling Stones. I'm thinking they'd either never heard Nothing's Shocking, or had read a very strange review.

One thing you have to say for Perry Farrell - he has the decency to be a rock star. At Reading a few years ago we toiled through the likes of the Dandy Warhols and the White Stripes, bands I do like but they just looked like blokes (with a couple of girls thrown in). However, the second Jane's Addiction came on it was clear that you were dealing with something else altogether. The get-up (a flamboyant white suit, with matching feather-topped hat), the presence and, of course, that voice.

I'm pondering giving Porno For Pyros another chance. Comments and recommendations welcome.

Tuesday 2 December 2008

Punk Knits

When looking online for a picture of Jo Almeida for my previous post, I was surprised to find that he is a model in a knitting book called Punk Knits.

Imagine my further surprise in discovering that the two people behind the book are Share (ex-Vixen) and partner and former Dogs D'Amour/Wildhearts drummer Bam Bam!

Bam's very proud of his hobby :

"Photographer, Director, Video Editor, Musician - Bam also knits!"

Whatever turns you on I suppose ....

Monday 1 December 2008

Lookalikes part one: the rock & roll years

I seem to get told a lot that I look like different people. On some occasions I've actually been mistaken for someone famous. I guess most of the following conform to a type, but if I look like them all shouldn't they also look like one another?

CC Deville

While I was playing a gig in 1990 an American girl shouted out 'I want to f**k you CC Deville'. Now this may have just been an annoucement she felt the urge to make, or she was talking about me with my then bleached hair.

(I can't vouch for CC, but just for the record - I didn't.)

Mick Cripps (far right)

Never understood this one.

Jo Almeida (far right)

I did tend to dress in a slightly raffish, Dogs D'Amour way and that might have influenced this comparison.

I shared a house for a while with a Tyla-lookalike and we were once supposed to go on a night out with Bam which could have proved amusing. Didn't happen though.

Izzy Stradlin

Now this I liked. My choice of hat would have helped. As previously reported I was once mistaken for the man himself.

Bill Wyman

This one has haunted me to this day.

I wish I could say I can't see it, but there are certain photos where I can't deny it ....

Johnny Colt (far right)

Possibly missed a trick here, as one friend used to look like Chris Robinson and another like his brother Rich, so we were three-fifths of the way towards forming a tribute band ...

To follow:
Lookalikes part two: when the crimping stopped

Saturday 29 November 2008

Richey Edwards

With appropriately little fanfare, Richard James Edwards has officially been declared "presumed dead" almost 14 years since he disappeared in February 1995. Although there is still no confirmation as to whether he's alive or dead (and various possible sightings have been reported over the years) obituaries have been published regarding the guitarist and lyricist from the Manic Street Preachers, who if alive would turn 41 later this month.

A few weeks ago it was announced that the next Manic Street Preachers album, tentatively titled Journal For Plague Lovers would feature lyrics written solely by Edwards, and Nicky Wire told the NME that 'it's a follow-up to The Holy Bible in a lot of ways'.

The band have always behaved respectfully towards their missing member, in a manner reminiscent of Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett, and if the forthcoming album is anything like Floyd's Wish You Were Here then it will be well worth hearing.

See also:
Manic Street Preachers - Generation Terrorists

Friday 28 November 2008

London Metro club to shut

It's been announced that the Metro Club on Oxford Street is shutting down in January to make way for Crossrail. Some readers will remember the club when it was called Oxfords and was the venue for The Hellfire Club on a Saturday night.

Brilliantly described in Seb Hunter's Hell Bent for Leather: Confessions of a Heavy Metal Addict, The Hellfire Club was part of a Saturday night ritual that would typically take in the Intrepid Fox, the Royal George, the Hellfire, and if you still wanted more, Slimelight. More recently it was also the venue for High Voltage, in a more low-key Thursday night slot but with the addition of girls dancing in cages (one of whom we eventually realised was a former regular at the Hellfire; maybe she had never managed to leave the venue ...).

See also:
Seb Hunter - Hell Bent For Leather

Hanoi Rocks - This One's for Rock N Roll

Available for pre-order now: This One's for Rock N Roll

Press release:

Following Hanoi Rocks' recent announcement that they will break up by the end of this year, they are announcing the release of a brand new 2-CD retrospective compilation This One's for Rock N Roll on December 9th 2008.

This superb package includes 31 songs, encompassing both distinctive parts of their career, the 80's and the new millennium.

CD 1 covers the years 1980 - 1985 and the first incarnation of Hanoi Rocks, tragically cut short by drummer Razzle's death.CD 2 brings the legend up-to-date with music from the reborn band from 2001 onwards.

Track listing:

1) Lost In The City 2) Tragedy 3) 11th Street Kids 4) Oriental Beat 5) No Law Or Order 6) Motorvatin’ 7) Taxidriver 8) Cafe Avenue 9) Love’s An Injection 10)Back To Mystery City 11)Until I Get You 12)Malibu Beach 13)Up Around The Bend 14)Don’t You Ever Leave Me 15)High School 16)Boulevard Of Broken Dreams 17)Million Miles Away

1) People Like Me 2) A Day Late, A Dollar Short 3) Obscured 4) In My Darkest Moment 5) Back In Yer Face 6) Better High 7) You Make The Earth Move 8) Eternal Optimist 9) Center Of My Universe 10)Hypermobile 11)Fashion 12)This One’s For Rock’n’Roll 13)Teenage Revolution 14)Grin And Bear It

Wednesday 26 November 2008

The Four Horsemen - Nobody Said It Was Easy

Released on Def American and with Rick Rubin's backing, the Four Horsemen's Nobody Said It Was Easy was initially lumped in with the Black Crowes debut album. However what they actually managed to do was to out-do the Cult by producing one of the best AC/DC albums not to involve anyone with the surname Young.

Having recently listened to this for the first time in about 10 years I regret not including it on the old albums I still listen to thread. It's fantastic. If the Black Crowes, AC/DC or Circus of Power are your thing then it would be a welcome addition to your collection - if you can find it. Unfortunately it's another album that's never been reissued, but you can hear samples at http://www.myspace.com/fourhorsemenband and a DVD/live CD can be obtained via http://www.thefourhorsemen.com/.

Once again Sleazegrinder has the definitive lowdown.

See also:
Albums I still listen to 15-20 years on.

Wednesday 19 November 2008

Faster Pussycat - self-titled

At some point in the late 90s an argument developed between myself and a friend on the crucial subject of: Who was better, Faster Pussycat or LA Guns? Unable to use the Harry Hill method (I appreciate this will be lost on anyone outside the UK), we were given the opportunity to settle matters once and for all when they announced a joint tour in September 2001.

History has noted what took place that month, and Faster Pussycat actually pulled out of the tour as a result. We were amused to discover on arrival at the Camden Underworld that we were entitled to a partial refund - £2 against a £13 ticket. Personally I took this to mean even the promoters felt Pussycat were the weaker band and the argument won ...

It's not that I don't rate them -
Faster Pussycat is a fantastic record. Side one is virtually dud-free and even though standards drop on the second-half of the album it's all good rock & roll.

See also:
LA Guns - self-titled

Monday 17 November 2008

New York Dolls give Todd Rundgren another chance

I've just picked this up from Glitzinet - 35 years on the New York Dolls have brought in Todd Rundgren to produce their next album. As noted on Glitzinet, Rundgren's work on their debut album is the subject of much debate. Regardless, it's great to see that another album is in the pipeline.

See also:
The New York Dolls - One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This
Nina Antonia - The New York Dolls: Too Much Too Soon
Johnny Thunders - So Alone
Motorcycle Boy - Popsicle

Sloppy seconds and filthy thirds

A quick scan through the albums featured so far shows a pretty high number of debuts. In some cases these have been sole-releases. There is of course the well-known concept of second album syndrome. Bear in mind that a newly-signed band will have a well-established set of songs that will usually become their debut album, with a few b-sides thrown in for good measure. They are then sent out on tour - at the end of which the record label will demand a follow-up (unless the first album completely bombed or the band imploded). Only they haven't had time to write any new songs. There might be a few old tunes knocking around, but if they weren't used on the first album they're likely to be - at best - second-rate.

The Black Crowes were famously derisive of the Quireboys after the US rockers turned around The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion in eight days, while Spike at al spent a year on Bitter Sweet and Twisted. It must be noted however that neither album was as good as its predecessor.

But not every band has fallen after the first hurdle. Here's a wholly personal and non-exhaustive selection of superior non-debuts:

The Stooges: Fun House
Taking its title from the nickname given to their living quarters (essentially a shooting gallery), 'Loose', 'T,V. Eye' and '1970' form the backbone of an album that manages to be dirtier even than their 1969 debut.

The Only Ones: Even Serpents Shine
The debut may have had 'Another Girl, Another Planet' but its follow-up is the more consistent.

Jacobites: Robespierre's Velvet Basement
The self-titled debut is largely unlistenable. The ambitious follow-up (originally planned as a double-album but trimmed down on initial release) sees ex-Dogs D'Amour guitarist Dave Kusworth take his place as equal alongside Nikki Sudden to better effect.

Hanoi Rocks: Back to Mystery City
The debut was great, but Oriental Beat was patchy. By their third album Razzle had replaced Gyp Casino and Back to Mystery City gave them their big - and ultimately ill-feted - break.

Redd Kross: Third Eye
Previously discussed here, this was the Macdonald brothers fourth album. Although that's perhaps being a bit generous towards 1982's Born Innocent.

Rolling Stones: Exile on Main Street
Perhaps the best exception to the rule. This was their 10th album, and was the fourth in a series of excellent releases going back to Beggars Banquet.

See also:
Albums I still listen to 15/20 years on ....

Wednesday 12 November 2008

The Nymphs - self-titled

Before the world was given Courtney Love and Hole we had Inger Lorre and The Nymphs. The story of Lorre and her band is pretty screwed-up, and although loaded with many of the usual tales of excess (such as the infamous story where, after constant frustration with their label, Geffen, Lorre urinated over A&R man Tom Zutaut's desk), it has more than its fair share of personal disasters, such as the death of Lorre's boyfriend Chris Schlosshardt, bassist in the Sea Hags, her subsequent time spent in rehab and the ill-feted friendship and musical dabblings with Jeff Buckley. Even now the problems continue - Inger Lorre was planning to perform live on November 13th but that's been cancelled due to hospitalisation.

There's an excellent write-up on the Nymphs over on Sleazegrinder.

For anyone who missed them (and I feel fortunate to have caught them at the Marquee on their 1992 tour), they were for a short while one of the most talked about bands on the circuit. Their one album, The Nymphs, eventually came out after much wrangling and, most significantly, their record label taking away the producer, Mike Clink, to work on GnR's 'Use Your Illusion' albums (hence the desk incident). At times very dark, almost gothic, its mix of glam, punk and grunge makes it one of the more interesting albums of the early 90s. Samples can be heard at http://www.myspace.com/thenymphsrock.

Sunday 9 November 2008

Uncle Sam - Letters From London

Every Christmas in Kerrang! all the writers would be asked to supply a list of their top 20 albums of the year. Ray Zell would rarely manage more than 10, and so discerning were his tastes that you could pretty much guarantee that the 7 or 8 albums he felt worth mentioning were ones that should be in your own collection.

One band he always raved about were Uncle Sam. Led by a milkman (seriously), Uncle Sam were very much the definition of a cult band, and Letters From London is the album everyone should hear, if not own (their second of three, all out of print but they can be picked on Ebay without breaking the bank). It's odd that it's never been reissued - after all if there's enough of a market for Soho Roses and Gunfire Dance to reissue their past recordings on CD then there must be one for Uncle Sam.