Friday 31 October 2008

Gunfire Dance

In some ways I don't think Gunfire Dance did themselves any favours. I first saw them in the Shrapnel pages of Kerrang!, with tousled black hair and polka dot shirts; shortly after a live review in the same magazine referred to one of their early songs, 'Give Me Back My Heart' as 'sounding like Tyla had sold them it for a packet of fags'.

In truth Gunfire Dance didn't wholly belong on that scene. They were coming from the Iggy/Lords angle (and yes, soooooo many Shrapnel ads used to say that but most of these bands, to steal Paul Blitz's quote about bands claiming to be 'punk', tended to just be bad metal), with a touch of the US 60's psychedelic scene thrown in for good measure.

Gunfire Dance had talent in abundance. Every member of the band could genuinely play (or in Ant's case, sing). They didn't need a pointy pink guitar to get themselves noticed, but things just didn't go their way. They had a publishing deal with Island in the early 90s. Brian James and Rat Scabies took production duties on a cracking 5-track demo in 1992. Jeff Dahl then released a single from that demo on his Ultra label. But a full deal never materialised, they lost their guitarist and continued for a while as Steppin' Razors but eventually knocked it on the head.

Archway Of Thorns is a collection of their studio recordings and its release was in the pipeline when, after a couple of storming reunion shows in 2005, Ant took his own life.

If I could have been in any band in the 90s it would have been Gunfire Dance. That said, they would have laughed me out of the room (I'm not the most talented of guitarists ....).

NB: multiple copies on eBay at the moment for just £3.99: click - Archway Of Thorns.

Manic Street Preachers - Generation Terrorists

In 1992 the Manic Street Preachers said they would release one double album, shift millions of copies, headline Wembley and split up.

The first part they managed (Generation Terrorists). Sales-wise it did okay and spawned half-a-dozen hit singles ('Motorcycle Emptiness' finally catapulting them into the nation's consciousness) but certainly didn't top the 6-million target. Headlining Wembley was still some years off - in 1992 I saw first them at the Astoria (capacity: 1,600), The Town & Country Club (now the Forum, capacity: 2,100) and the Kilburn National (now defunct so no official capacity available, but probably 1,500 - 2,000).

And of course they didn't split up.

Generation Terrorists is a pretty messy album in places and, like the 'Use Your Illusion' albums, could have benefited from a little trimming down. But then the same could be said of the White Album (does anyone really listen to 'Revolution 9'?) or the Stone Roses debut (with its pointless backward track, 'Don't Stop' - it's not big and it's certainly not clever) and both turn up regardless in every 'Top 10 Albums Of All-Time' list that is needlessly compiled. 'Flawed genius' I believe is the phrase.

I'm not saying that Generation Terrorists deserves to take its place next to those albums in rock history, but its very existence says a great deal about the Manics. How many bands, without a notable hit to their name, have had the audacity to release a debut double album? It certainly couldn't happen now. But the Manics worked the press, built up their notoriety (peaking with the infamous 'For Real' incident) and polarised the masses as they went along. Love them or hate them, you couldn't get away from them. Not bad for a band that were dismissed as second-rate Clash (or worse, second-rate Birdland).

Thursday 30 October 2008

Swindon Music Forum joins the debate

Thanks to Dave from Green Man Music, Glamrock Aftershock is being discussed over at my hometown's music forum (or more accurately my former hometown).

Some interesting bands and albums have come up over the course of this thread. Some I never rated (eg Enuff Z'Nuff and Love/Hate - although I've been told before I should give the former another chance), and others that I have good intentions of scrawling about at some point (eg The Dead Boys, Jellyfish).

Feel free to drop by and pass comments!

Sunday 26 October 2008

Albums I still listen to 15/20 years on ...

This blog started off the back of a thread on Glitzinet, encouraging people to post their top-10 albums of all-time. I'm not that up on what's new on the scene, and any list I might have submitted is unlikely to have included anything post-1995.

I'm also incredibly bad at naming favourite bands/albums/songs, and when I finally tried to put a list together various memories came back to me that related to many of these albums. Hence, Glamrock Aftershock.

I still don't have a definitive list, and am unlikely ever to have one. However as a starting point here are 10 albums that I first heard between 1987 and 1992 that I still listen to today (and in many cases have re-bought on CD to replace well-worn or lost LPs). Don't read anything into the order (which is roughly speaking the order in which I first came across them). Some albums I've already blogged about, some are yet to feature.

Guns & Roses: Appetite For Destruction
The album that saved me from a descent into thrash before it got too serious (liking Metallica & Anthrax is one thing, but I've even found an Onslaught record in my collection - it could have got so much worse ...).

Hanoi Rocks: Back to Mystery City
The album where Razzle came on board and the final piece of the jigsaw fell into place. I know a lot of diehard fans favour the band's debut but this is the standout album for me (exception as below!).

The New York Dolls: self-titled
From the opening crash of cymbals and Thunders' ploughing the riff to 'Personality Crisis', right through to the finale of 'Jetboy' the Dolls' debut is a lesson in pure trash.

The Dogs D'Amour: In the Dynamite Jet Saloon
It may have taken them five years (and several line-ups) to reach the public eye but it was well worth the wait! Strange to find this is out-of-print - if there's a market for Soho Roses and Gunfire Dance collections (see below) then surely the Dogs D'Amour's back catalogue should still be available?

Hollywood Brats: self-titled
Had no idea who they were but trusted the guy at the record fair (Tony McCrory - responsible for many discoveries I could have missed).

The Jacobites: Robespierre's Velvet Basement
Another record fair purchase, and again I had no idea what to expect. Lo-fi production and the occasional Casio keyboard do not detract from the rest of the music.

Letters From London - Uncle Sam
Again, why on earth has this never been reissued? Rock's most famous milkmen deserve more!

Flies on Fire: self-titled
(Revival of) Creedence Clearwater Revival. Despite being on a major label, having Ric Browde at the helm and even bringing in Jo Dog, Flies on Fire remain obscure but their two albums are well worth the pittance they trade for.

Redd Kross: Third Eye
KISS meets the Beatles. 'Nuff said.

Motorcycle Boy: Popsicle
Dragged kicking & screaming into the studio by Sylvain Sylvain, arguably the forgotten hero of the Dolls gets his name onto another great rock & roll album.

Honorary mentions (as they're not strictly 'albums'):

Soho Roses: Whatever Happened To... The Complete Works
Collection of their 2 EPs and album. A fine band who I managed to see once (an MTV Xmas show at the Astoria along with Last of The Teenage Idols and Tigertailz). My band at the time desperately wanted to be a mix of Soho Roses and Hollywood Brats. We didn't quite pull it off but we had fun trying.

Gunfire Dance: Archway of Thorns
Another post-career collection. Taking their cues from Iggy, Brian James and Stiv Bators Gunfire Dance always seemed on the verge of something - and then went no further. RIP Ant.

Hanoi Rocks: Self Destruction Blues
The best Hanoi album, but as it's a collection of b-sides and out-takes I thought it only right it should be down here!

Wednesday 22 October 2008

Hanoi Rocks to split

It's fair to say that I was a lot less moved by this news than I might have been 15-20 years ago (had they not already have been and gone by then)!

I got into them around '87 off the back of Appetite For Destruction - G&R citing them in various interviews before reissuing the original Hanoi albums on their Uzi Suicide label - and admittedly their 80s output hasn't stood the test of time that well (certainly not as much as Appetite say, or first New York Dolls album). But one of best gigs I've seen was the Camden Palace show on their first comeback tour. Much better than the night before at Bristol Bierkeller, I can only assume they'd had more luck buying whatever drugs it was they needed in London.

Yes, pretty much everything about them is derivative (McCoy plundered London Calling for all its worth, and various Dead Boys and Dictators riffs are easily detectable - I'll go into more detail there another time), but there's no disputing that he's one hell of a guitarist and Monroe, although not the greatest singer, is a frontman that we would all want to be in a band with.

On the one hand I won't miss them as I haven't bought any of their recent albums (but heard the first two without getting too excited) and haven't been to see them for about four years. But after what happened to them in 1984 - and considering how much I dearly loved this band in my youth - it's a sad day as they never achieved the worldwide commercial success that so many lesser bands took for granted in their wake.

Full details at:

See also:
Hanoi Rocks - The Nottingham Tapes

Thursday 16 October 2008

Motorcycle Boy - Popsicle

A former housemate of mine once told me about a band he saw when on a pilgrimage to LA. They came on (at, I think, the Whiskey-a-Go-Go), played one song (‘I Hate The Sunset Strip’), trashed their gear and walked off again.

That band was Motorcycle Boy.

Eschewing the usual LA clich├ęs, Motorcycle Boy looked towards Iggy Pop and classic garage rock for inspiration, and when they finally committed themselves to vinyl they had Sylvain Sylvain on production duties (and their not-too distorted guitar sound owed a certain debt to that favoured by the New York Dolls).

Sylvain is in fact the first voice you hear on Popsicle (he contributes some French mutterings over the album’s intro) before the opener proper (‘I Get Around’, the first of several gloriously misogynistic tracks to grace Popsicle) makes its appearance. Even though side one (to those of us who still stuck in the realms of vinyl terminology) is chock-full of corkers ('Supersonic' and 'Cool You and Me' in particular) the band don't shoot their bolt before the second half of the album with 'She Says' and closer 'What I Want' battling it out for the right to be considered the album's highlight.

Popsicle is another example of an album that missed the glam boat, and in some ways this has maybe served the band well as it's an album that is fondly recalled by many rather than one that was swallowed up and forgotten about.

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

Saturday 11 October 2008

Guns 'N Roses - Appetite For Destruction

To be fair this should have been the opening blog. After all, without this album I might never have heard (or at least paid any attention to) many of the bands I've written/will write about, and I'm sure I'm not alone there.

In 1987, aged 16, my favourite band was Metallica. Donington 1987 (Metallica and Anthrax on the same bill) was one very happy day. By this time of course Poison had released Look What The Cat Dragged In but they were never going to be the band to change the face of rock music.

Notably Appetite For Destruction was released on the same day as Faster Pussycat's debut album, and the two bands arrived in the UK on a joint-headline tour. I turned down a ticket - after all, what did these bands have over James, Kirk, Lars and Jason (Cliff RIP)? Having heard 'It's So Easy' and 'Mr Brownstone' I wasn't exactly bowled over. The first seeds of regret were sown when I heard 'Night Train' on the Friday Rock Show - and for a moment there was a possibility that the spare ticket was still up for grabs. It was not to be.

The rest is of course history. Slowly, the world (myself included) woke up to what was arguably the rock album of the 1980s. I bleached my hair for the first time; bought some crimpers; gave make-up a go (quickly concluding that eye-liner and mascara would do; lipstick and rouge was just daft) and plans for a band of my own took a significant change of direction.

I finally did get to see them at the ill-feted Donington Monsters of Rock show in 1988. Between the annoucement of the bill (with G'n'R fifth on the bill, second on between Helloween and Megadeth) and the show itself Axl and Co were the most talked about band in the world and could easily have headlined. Even though we were a fair way from the stage the sheer force of the crowd meant we were dragged twenty yards one way and then twenty yards back again in a matter of seconds - wash, rinse, repeat. We got out as quickly as we could but some weren't so fortunate.

See also:
Izzy Stradlin and the Ju Ju Hounds

Wednesday 8 October 2008

Soho Roses - Whatever Happened To ....

As a rural teenager, my eyes were very much focused on London and its seemingly burgeoning glam scene. At the time Kerrang! was a fine source of information (largely via the Shrapnel page that accepted contributions from anyone and everyone) and bands that probably only ever played about three gigs seemed like the next generation of rock stars.

The next level up (but one down from the Dogs D'Amour and the Quireboys) were bands such as Soho Roses. Regulars at the Marquee, they even managed to get the occasional live review and feature in Kerrang! and Metal Hammer. On tracking down their debut EP in Shades (those people of a certain age will know the shop in question), we thought it ever so impressive that the record was mastered at Abbey Road studios. Abbey Road! Okay, so it was on the band's own label but surely someone significant must have been bankrolling them to get into such a famous studio!*

However, the first Soho Roses record I got hold off was actually their second single, So Alone, as fine example of trashy glam punk you're ever likely to hear. My band at the time was desperate to sound like Soho Roses, and kind-of succeeded in that we were compared to the Buzzcocks (a cover of What Do I Get turned up on the Third & Final Insult, the album Soho Roses recorded to clear their debts once they'd decided to call it a day).

Almost twenty years on their complete recordings (which in their vinyl forms had been going for large sums on Ebay) have been committed to CD: Whatever Happened To... The Complete Works. And do they stand the test of time? OK, so Ric Browde and Mike Clink might have something to say about the production but there are enough great songs to here to overlook that: Why D'ya Break My Heart, 'Cos of You, Just A Girl, Crazy 'Bout Me and the afore-mentioned So Alone (in particular the original single version) prove that Soho Roses had more to offer than most, but this was London and not LA and it wasn't just a simple case of showing up at a record company with backcombed hair to be instantly signed as the next G'n'R.

*Many years later when releasing a self-financed record of my own we too found ourselves in the mastering room at Abbey Road. It clearly wasn't such a big deal after all ......

Sunday 5 October 2008

The Pursuit of Happiness - Love Junk

Unless you happened to be one of a small number of people that had access to MTV in the 1980s (which from what I recall at the time seemed to show the same programmes every four hours or so) then like me you were restricted to watching The Chart Show to have any hope of seeing any decent videos.

The Chart Show had three guest charts on a weekly rotation - Rock, Indie and Dance. Indie was okay (and bear in mind Music For Nations was an indie label), but the Dance chart was an annoyance (at least two 'songs' in their top 10 wouldn't even have an accompanying video and would be shown in the rundown with psychedelic graphics).

But the Rock chart was always the one, and was the only show on terrestial TV that you were ever likely to see, say, videos of the Dogs D'Amour.

It was during a new release section on the Chart Show that I first saw/heard 'I'm An Adult Now' (initially thinking it was 'I'm On The Dole Now') by the Pursuit of Happiness. OK, so they're categorically not a glam band, but that song (and the album, Love Junk) were big faves of mine at the time.

It's in the lyrics where they stand out - 'I'm An Adult Now' on the difficulty of entering the adult world (when DJ-ing at a friend's wedding a few years ago the groom requested this be played), while the almost-hit 'She's So Young' first comes across as a lazy love song but there are hints of something darker beneath.

I used to play the album regularly when working in a record shop and would get a sale pretty much every time. Sadly my one-man sales drive didn't make a great deal of difference, but they did survive to release a handful of albums, have been given a best-of and, more recently, Love Junk appeared in Classic Rock as a must-have-album that you might have missed (Motorcycle Boy's Popsicle made it into the same column - more on that anon).

Thursday 2 October 2008

Hanoi Rocks - The Nottingham Tapes

For many years I've always viewed The Nottingham Tapes as the poor relation to All Those Wasted Years. After all it was poorly filmed and, if I'm honest, I was never that keen on Two Steps from the Move, and songs from that album that feature heavily.

However, someone recently pointed out something that had never really occurred to me. With The Nottingham Tapes what you see is what you get - this was the show on that night. No frills, no overdubs (unlike All Those Wasted Years). Thankfully it's not as rough as the painful Rock & Roll Divorce ...

See also:
Hanoi Rocks to split

Wednesday 1 October 2008

Flies On Fire - self-titled

This album seemed to be released without any promotion despite being on a major label (Atlantic), produced by Ric Browde (Faster Pussycat, Dogs D'Amour) and, most importantly, actually being rather good.

I only stumbled across it as I was working in a record shop at the time and was processing the new releases on Monday morning. In amongst them was Flies on Fire and what I noticed at first was, quite simply, a picture of some blokes with long hair. Looking closer I clocked the name of the producer and so figured it was worth a listen, and as one of the priviliges with processing stock meant working in a backroom and being able to play whatever music you wanted I stuck it on.

The more folk-based fan I was working with seemed to think it sounded like INXS. In fact Flies On Fire are clearly indebted to Creedence Clearwater Revival (Baptize Me Over Elvis Presley's Grave is a deadringer for CCR's Lodi) and the band briefly recruited Jo Almeida (aka Jo Dog).

Perhaps it was the less-obviousness of the album that meant Atlantic overlooked it; after all this was 1989, G'n'R were at the top of their game and there was a huge market for the harder 'hair' metal. However within a year The Black Crowes hit the scene and showed that there was demand for a band coming more from a laid-back bar-room rock & roll background.