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Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Record Review - The Red Plastic Buddha

THE RED PLASTIC BUDDHA
All Out Revolution

In spite of a number of personnel upheavals in the past 18 months, this is the long awaited follow up to The Sunflower Sessions from these self-proclaimed “leading lights of the Chicago psychedelic underground”.

It’s a more rounded and tighter affair than its predecessor. Drawing on influences such as Revolver/Pepper period Beatles, the jingle-jangle exuberance of ‘Daisy Love’ is a bewitching concoction of Barrett-era Floyd and The Byrds. They even do a flamenco tinged version of The Electric Prunes’ classic ‘I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)’!

But, if songs like ‘Starfish’ appear a little contrived, elsewhere ‘Army Of The New Tomorrow’ and ‘King Of The Underground’ are suffused with the spirit of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and ‘Soldier’ belies an even harder, punkier edge. Overall an accomplished collection of songs that straddles a spectrum of psychedelia and American alt-rock that stretches all the way from the mid-1960s to the present day.

Rich Deakin

Record Review - Paradise 9

PARADISE 9
State Of The Nation EP

Dedicated to the memory of Inner City Unit founder member Judge Trev Thoms, who also contributed guitar on two of the tracks here, State Of The Nation is brimful of attitudinal acid-punk and ambient space-rock. The first two songs fall under the former category: the object of P9’s ire could easily be intended for the coalition government on the fast-paced title track. After maintaining the tempo on a jaunty ‘Is This The Time?’, P9 drop down a gear or two for the second half of the EP.

The atmospheric synth soundscape that is ‘Ocean Rise’ is given extra resonance by the timbre of Gregg McKella’s “psychedelic clarinet”. This gives way to ‘Distant Dreams’ – a spacey folkadelic number, reminiscent at times of mid-1970s Hawkwind. It’s also rendered particularly poignant thanks to Judge Trev’s haunting acoustic guitar – his swansong if you like. A worthy successor to their 2009 EP Nothing For Tomorrow.

Rich Deakin

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Live Review: My Cat Is An Alien

MY CAT IS AN ALIEN

Café Oto, London, November 24 2011

So, what exactly is “psychedelia”? Is it (a) any music which is designed to alter the mind, either with or without the assistance of hallucinogenic substances, and take the listener on a trip into stratospheres henceforth unknown? Or is it (b) wearing a flowery shirt, purple velvet flares and suede boots and having your hair cut like Brian Jones? If your answer is the former, then the chances are My Cat Is An Alien will hover in your orbit. If it’s the latter, you’ll hate them. To further clarify my point: what is “progressive music”? Is it (a) any music which attempts to experiment, do something original or creative, and take bold sonic steps beyond the ‘norm’, or is it (b) a bunch of blokes, sometimes accompanied by the obligatory hippychick vocalist, going widdly-widdly in an attempt to rehash the glory days of Yes, ELP and Gentle Giant? Again, if yours is the second choice, then you might as well stop reading now.

That’s not to say that the music they make is unbelievably original or brand new, but somewhere between the downtuned nebular voids of Saucerful-era Floyd and ‘In Search Of Space’ era Hawkwind’s sonic attacks, the Butthole Surfers or MBV’s pioneering ‘arsequakes’, the utter chaos of ID Company or John & Yoko, Nurse With Wound’s anarcho-surrealism, the minimalism of Sonic Youth (whose label they are signed to) and the whooshing sound continents of Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze, the brothers Maurizio and Roberto Opalio have found their own world, a playful tinkering bedroom of sound: hence the use of toy light sabres, instamatic cameras and all manner of primitive battery-powered ephemera as an integral part of their stagecraft.

Occasionally they also bring out acoustic guitars and trample on the free-folk territory of Sunburned Hand Of The Man, Voice Of The Seven Woods or Spires That In The Sunset Rise, with obvious tips to the atonal outsider strums of Skip Spence, Simon Finn and The Shaggs, but not tonight. Regardless of what mood they’re in, though, MCIA sound at all times like themselves - two brothers from downtown Torino who grew up collecting unusual music and in the end decided to start making it themselves, for no other reason than sheer enjoyment (which is evident on their faces tonight), on their own terms, releasing a quite amazingly varied, not to say prolific, series of limited edition albums in a variety of elaborate packages over the course of the last decade.

So why is this in Happening? Whilst they may be, with the possible exception of Psychic TV, Current 93 or Dharma Sun Collective, the most outré, extreme or uncompromising band ever to grace these pages, they play, quite clearly, with the attack of all great psychedelic rock n roll bands, guitars thrust and held aloft under strobe lighting and back projections, shapes thrown, hair and leather jackets flailing, and drums battered senseless. And besides, somebody has to not only remind people that the word “psych” is still occasionally suffixed by the word “edelic”, and write about avant-garde artists without stooping to the kind of po-faced erudition-flaunting so typical of other publications - and if that task falls to me, then so be it.

Vocally, we’re in the realm of wordless, swooping space whispers and wails - they could be in English, Italian, or an invented language, but to try and decipher it would be to solve the mystery, which would defeat the object. Guitars scrape, bass thumps and pounds in full, doom-laden chords, and cymbals are used as plectrums: if you’re wondering what separates such “art” from people merely arsing about, just trust me when I say that while there may be no immediately discernible melody (save for the manifold ones you can hear squalling in your own head), there’s definitely a structure, and it tells a story. The difference is no-one, not even the brothers themselves, knows quite where it will end.

The makers of licensing laws do, though, which means that sadly, just as it gets going, it’s all over. Never have 75 minutes passed quite so fleetingly, or been appreciated by so few: the warehouse-like environs of Oto are half-full tonight. I guess even within avant-garde progressive circles there are denominators….That, of course, is also true of our own scene, but some are still adventurous enough to entertain the idea of sheer unadulterated soundscapes for the sake of cosmic exploration alone, and while not all voyagers will be present for the duration of the journey, the terrain will be fascinating.

Darius Drewe Shimon

Record Review - Madam 'Gone Before Morning'

MADAM
Gone Before Morning

Madam, the London-based band led by the vaporous voice of Sukie Smith, return with their second album. Gone Before Morning’s icy minimalism slashes the atmosphere of the room as soon as the sound leaves the speakers.

Musically, it follows a nocturnal, bassy-y blues trail; To Bring You My Love-era PJ Harvey is perhaps the most obvious comparison (particularly on ‘Marine Boy’). There’s much shade, and very little light here: while the break-up song ‘If You’re Looking For A Way Out’ is obviously a bitter pill, the mood is even more unsettling on the lyrical feather ‘Weekend Love’ (“I woke up dreaming about you/I turned round/and there you were”). Any optimism is completely, and brilliantly, undercut by stark drums and uneasy vocals: a deft streak of black humour.

Somehow this reminds me of the soundtrack to a short film. It would play over shots of scarred skin sown up after botched surgery.

Jeanette Leech

Monday, 28 November 2011

Record Review - Jasmine Kara

JASMINE KARA
Blues Ain't Nothing But A Good Woman Gone Bad

There’s more to Jasmine Kara than the sexy publicity shots of her dressed in a gold-lamé bikini might suggest. This lady is no rapper’s video fantasy but a sassy, hard-hitting soul shouter.

Recorded at Cosmos studio in Stockholm, Kara’s debut album is a homage to Chess Records – well, her mentor is Marshall Chess after all. There are excellent covers of Willie Dixon’s ‘Fire’ with the singer sticking close to the blueprint laid down by Etta James at Muscle Shoals in 1968, a soul-blues workout of Jamo Thomas’ ‘Must I Holler’, The Kittens’ northern soul dancer ‘Ain’t No More Room’ and a wicked two-part version of ‘In The Basement’, initially cut as a duet by Etta James and Sugar Pie DeSanto. If it wasn’t for the three out-of-place slide-guitar instrumentals and the irritating tinny drums pushed to the fore on ‘Are You Doing Me Wrong’ and ‘Ordinary Joe’, this would have been the perfect calling card.

Alan Brown

Record Review - Henry's Funeral Shoe

HENRY’S FUNERAL SHOE
Donkey Jacket

The intriguingly named Henry’s Funeral Shoe are brothers Aled and Brennig Clifford from the Welsh valleys, although the grainy blues-charged gumbo they serve up sounds more deep South or Detroit when they’re whipping up the heat on tracks like ‘Love Is A Fever’. The White Stripes and Seasick Steve have shown how a two-man group can work if the energy and attitude is there and the brothers make a rampant racket (although joined by Van Morrison slide guitar/harmonica man John Edwards on the searing blues-strum of ‘Bottom To Top’, while Broken Vinyl Club’s Justin Beynon guests on piano).

The brothers straddle several musical styles, from Southern rock on ‘Anvil And Chains’ to late-Beatles whimsy on ‘Across The Sky’. Meanwhile ‘Dog Scratched Ear’ and ‘Gimme Back My Morphine’ [title of the year!] are the kind of screaming punk-blues assaults that must raise the roof at gigs.

Kris Needs

Friday, 25 November 2011

Record Review - Mike Badger

MIKE BADGER
Rogue State

Mike Badger is Liverpool’s answer to Billy Childish, albeit minus the flamboyant punk attitude and undying enthusiasm for three-chord thrash. Founding member of The La's and The Onset, visual artist, record label honcho and singer/songwriter, Badger, like the music he makes, is impossible to pigeonhole.

With Paul Hemmings (The La’s), Martyn Campbell (The Lightning Seeds) and Tommy Scott (Space) returning once more to give an old friend a hand, Badger’s third solo album, Rogue State, is an excellent blend of stripped-down garage-beat (‘Big Boots’), rockabilly (‘The Tupelo Hardware Store’), dreamy pop (‘Don’t Leave Me Standing’) and touches of folk (‘They’re Animals’) – all with a reverberating country twang. Other highlights include Badger riding the country rails with Hell bent relish on ‘Platform 9’ and his duet with local songwriter Lizzie Nunnery on their self-penned, downbeat ballad ‘Rising Tide’. A perfect pick and mix for the ears.

Alan Brown

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Record Review - The Amazing 'Gentle Stream'

THE AMAZING
Gentle Stream

When a band take a name like The Amazing, they’d better have the chops to back it up. Happily, this Swedish outfit – a collective headed by Reine Fiske and Johan Holmegard of neo-psych juggernauts Dungen, singer-songwriter Christoffer Gunrup and highly rated jazz drummer Moussa Fadera – are masterful enough to take that mantle on.

The band’s second album proper, Gentle Stream is widescreen, panoramic, horizon-reaching stuff. An elegantly constructed record of moody psychedelic majesty, it comes with a greater dose of CSNY-style Laurel Canyon bliss than previous recordings. Album highlight ‘Flashlight’ sounds at times like Nick Drake being backed by Radiohead at their jazziest, whilst suffering from a bad case of The Fairports.

It’s eight songs clocking in at a luxurious 45 minutes long, during which astral guitars intertwine in serpentine solos, horns blast rainbow melodies and Gunrup’s flute-like voice floats soothingly over the sunset sounds.

Luke Smyth

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Record Review - Trolley 'Things That Shine & Glow'

TROLLEY
Things That Shine & Glow
CD / Download

Remember when Teenage Fanclub had the bit between their teeth and produced brilliant song after brilliant song? Listening to this album reminds me of those times. The Milwaukee quartet’s third full-lengther is a modern-day classic. Never repetitive, every song either gets you with melody, or guitar riff, or harmony, and always with great musicianship.

Where they sound most assured is on the Beatles-meet-Zombies numbers like ‘In The End’ and ‘Out Of Love’. The arrangements are so strong it's as if they are working parts of a fine Swiss watch. The vulnerable, halting singing of Paul J. Wall can really tug the heartstrings on ‘I Can’t Hide’ and the title track, the latter also demonstrating some breath-taking harmonies. And as for closer ‘Love The Way You Look’...it’s like Big Star and R.E.M. personally dropped by and gave you an early Christmas present. Yes, that good.

‘She’s The Kind Of Girl’ displays Kinksian fuzz guitar to make you feel right there in ‘65, and during it I imagined them sharing an IPO stage with The Len Price 3 and Muck & The Mires somewhere in America’s backwaters. Of course I’m contractually obliged at this point to mention the understated psychedelic tinges scattered throughout the LP, and the influence of their Paisley Underground forefathers. I love this album. Power-pop and Mop-Top fans will certainly cream themselves when they hear it. Why aren’t these guys megastars?

Phil Istine

Live Review – The Damned


THE DAMNED
35th Anniversary Tour
The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London
12th November

Who’d have thought it, 34 years after they last stomped all over the stage of The Roundhouse that The Damned would be back there to celebrate their 35th anniversary by giving us not one but two classic albums back to back over the course of an evening.

It was a sell out and deservedly so, for The Damned are on sparkling form from the off. "Hello. I’m Captain Sensible, you may remember me from Top Of The Pops," announces the good Captain to plenty of playful abuse from the audience. "Let me take you back to 1977,"as the band launch into ‘Neat Neat Neat’ the opening track from their debut Damned Damned Damned. This is the best the band have sounded in years, so tight with Captain handling the guitar duties originally performed by Brian James perfectly. They were all there, ‘New Rose’, Born To Kill’, ‘I Fall’, ‘So Messed Up’ and a stunning rendition of ‘Feel The Pain’. Disappointingly though, no ‘Stab Yor Back’ and at only 58 seconds long it seemed weird to omit this from the set, a minor quibble though. Finishing with a ferocious version of The Stooges' ‘1970 (I Feel Alright)’ the band retire for a few moments before returning for the second set.

Next up the reason why most people were there, to witness The Black Album in its entirety. For a band like The Damned it was a very brave record to release way back in ’80, a far cry from the messed up Detroit drenched sound of the debut album. Here the band delve deeper and darker than ever before mixing elements of psychedelia, punk and proto goth spread out over four sides on the original double vinyl release.

Kicking off with ‘Wait For The Blackout’ we’re off for what promises to be a truly amazing performance. Songs rarely or never played before in the live arena really are a joy to behold. Gems like ‘Therapy’ and ‘Silly Kids Games’, the latter an attack on cheesy game shows, crackle with an energy and enthusiasm which was absent from Damned shows for such a long time back in the ‘90s only to be replaced here tonight with a group of musicians clearly enjoying every minute. The goth leanings of ‘Twisted Nerve’ and ‘13th Floor Vendetta’ sit alongside ‘Lively Arts’ and the ’77 sounding ‘Sick Of This And That’ which could quite easily have nestled into the first set. We get the hit single that never was ‘The History Of The World Part 1’ and to close the show we’re treated to Dave Vanian’s tour de force ‘Curtain Call’, all 18 magnificent minutes of it.

With a four song encore of ‘Disco Man’, ‘Eloise’, ‘Love Song’ and ‘Anti – Pope’ the band troop off clearly moved by the reception they receive. For tonight once again The Damned are our heroes.

God bless ‘em.

Tony Clarke

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Record Review: The Bloody Hollies

THE BLOODY HOLLIES

Yours Until The Bitter End

CD/ Digital Download / Colored Vinyl

Alive Records


Onto the fifth album of The Bloody Hollies career and they still mean it as they ever did. Here is a band whose rock doesn’t fit into any easy categorisation: not garage, not punk, not alternative, and yet somehow all these things still. The AC/DC-style bluster of opener ‘So Grey So Green’ sets out the stall of what to expect, and pretty soon you find you have rifled through the rails, looked in the boxes under the table and come away pleasantly exhausted from all the rock presented to you. Remember when Jack stopped Stripe-ing and became a Raconteur? If you went ‘great career choice!’ then you’re probably a classic rock lover and will love the songs and passion displayed within. Singer Wesley Doyle even resembles his Whiteness vocally, which always helps.

The moments of slide guitar and Hammond organ are welcome they hover into earshot, and frankly I would have preferred more of them for add some flavour to my meat. By the way, have I mentioned this album rocks? Hard rock is music for sweaty gig venues, and is hard to keep fresh across a whole album. Yet they give it a damn good stab anyway and succeed mostly, reminding me along the way of The Oblivians (RIP) and The Eviltones (stars of tomorrow).
They also treat us all to a country blues ditty with closer 'John Wayne Brown', a brave yet assured move. More please chaps, you have the talents and the chops. Also worthy of mention is the real Shindig! moment that comes at the end of ‘Dead Letter’, when the guitar fireworks finish exploding and the low-key ending of Love’s ‘7 & 7 Is’ is recreated. Thanks for that moment guys, it shows your warmth within your seriously wild rocking.

Phil Istine

Event: Happening the clubnight, London, Saturday December 3rd

Happening is a clubnight too! On December 3 it's the final edition of the year. It's been a great year, and we thank all those that came, and those that graced the stage. As always it is a busy night so get yourself there nice and early...

Playing live:

THE VALKARYS
London six-piece The Valkarys have only just come onto our radar after a few years of playing shows, and they are brilliant! Psychedelic beat music that takes from The Bunnymen as much as The Elevators.

THE HALL OF MIRRORS
Once of Portsmouth but recently relocated to The Smoke, The Hall Of Mirrrors are a classic Shindig!-style band. Mixing classic psychedelic-pop sounds with orchestral flourishes and layers of guitar, the magazine said “You could say they resemble a doped-up Saint Etienne on ‘Love Obscure’, Galaxie 500 on ‘Round and Round’ and Nico-period Velvets on ‘Silver Stream’”.

MILKY ONIONS
New weird band alert! Locals to this part of London but musically its coming partly from the mid-60s west coast - plenty of echo, great lyrics, strange rhythms...you need to see and hear to properly appreciate! So get down early doors so you don’t miss.

Then resident DJ PHIL ISTINE and guest ANDY EDWARDS (Harvest, Cardiff) will spin your world via ’60s/’70s dancefloor psychedelia, garage, beat, and general rock’n’roll wondermints!

@ The Drop, below The Three Crowns, 175 Stoke Newington High Street London N16 0LH
8pm-4am, £6 entry. Buses: many. Train: Stoke Newington (from Liverpool St)

Monday, 21 November 2011

Event: The Poets live in Glasgow

Glasgow club Eyes Wide Open is happily celebrating it's seventh birthday on Friday December 2nd, and have quite a scoop on their hands, having bagged the reformed Poets.

The Poets were one of Scotland's top live attractions back in the day, had Andrew 'Loog' Oldham as their manager, and released a selection of brilliant singles between 1964-67,all of which are revered amongst freakbeat and psychedelic fans.

The band reconvened last year for rehearsals and a couple of small, tentative shows. The passing of bassist John Dawson, drummer Alan Weir, and lead guitarist Hume Paton is of course sad. However original singer George Gallacher and guitarist Fraser Watson have teamed up with Edinburgh beat-garage stalwarts The Thanes (featuring regular Shindig! scribe Lenny Helsing) to complete a great line-up of musical talent.

Support for The Poets at Eyes Wide Open will come from The Store Keys, featuring Stevie Jackson of Belle & Sebastian fame. Tickets for the show are £6 in advance from Tickets Scotland Glasgow.

Record Review: The Cult Of Dom Keller

THE CULT OF DOM KELLER
EP3
self-released CD/ download

It was three years ago that I discovered these Nottingham freaks, and they happily haven't imploded yet. In fact they've gone from strength to strength with their warped psychedelia, as their third EP now admirably displays. Without doubt these guys are the closest thing the UK has to a Black Angels, so it was no surprise to see them invited over for the bands' Austin Psych Fest earlier this year.

Some of you may know I used to run a club named 'The Acid Gallery', after the Pebbles compilation. That had a track on it by Dom Kellar Os Mods. You've Got Good Taste, as someone once sang. The band name suggests the occult, and so do the sounds on this EP. This isn't music which could ever be described as commercial, coming as it seemingly does from the bowels of a very dark place. Neil Marsden's deeply intoned vocals on the wonderfully-named 'This Is How It Feels To Live Your Life Dead' made me feel at first as if listening to an Ian Curtis-fronted Spacemen 3. The stoner fuzz of 'Dead Seas' is a droneful intonation to 'bring life' and...something more sinister no doubt, though I mostly cannot fathom was is being sung. 'Heavy and Dead' repeats the same trick, but with less effect. 'Ghost Bones' has some great tremelo vocals and impenetrable fuzz guitar squalls, whilst EP closer 'Black Pullet Blues' is a mysterious mutant blues recorded with too-much-even-for-Joe-Meek levels of reverb.

If the band were to write a chorus or two they may find more people joining the cult, but then again they would probably lose what is most magical about them. For now we have this: intense, fantastic sounding, occasionally transcendental lysergic noise.

Phil Istine

Thursday, 17 November 2011

The Magic Band UK tour

There's not been enough coverage of this for our liking, so we are taking it upon ourselves to let you know about the upcoming UK tour of The Magic Band.

Captain Beefheart passed away almost a year ago, but nothing it seems will stop The Magic Band - comprising of Mark Boston, John French, Craig Bunch, Eric Klerks and Denny Walley - playing their skewed blues show. Seven dates in total, so no excuses for not catching them.

Dates

November 30 - The Scala, London

December 2 -The Button Factory, Dublin

December 3 - Kazamir, Liverpool (with Shindig! favourites The Wicked Whispers)

December 4 - All Tomorrow's Parties Festival, Minehead

December 5 - The Pavillion, Falmouth

December 7 - The Rescue Rooms, Nottingham

December 8 - The Irish Centre, Leeds

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Record Review: Bubblegum Screw

BUBBLEGUM SCREW
Screwphoria!
self-released download
Amazon, Bandcamp, iTunes etc.

I must say I’ve had a very good year with punk gigs: New York Dolls (twice), Billy Rath, Walter Lure...and yet the band that I love watching the most is London’s own Bubblegum Screw. After tearing it up onstage these past few years the debut album has landed, and it’s a monstrous seventeen tracks wide. Let us not kid ourselves: if it wasn’t for the Dolls and The Dead Boys and The Stooges and The Heartbreakers this music would never have been made. Yet I can’t get enough of their glam garage punk roar: singer Mark Thorn sounds as rough as a badgers back passage, but this just adds an authenticity to the sheet metal guitars that onslaught every way you turn. He also has a simple-but-clever way with words: to make you laugh, to make you angry, to make you want to drink more cheap lager than is probably advisable.

The song ‘I Was A Teenage Fuck-Up’ pretty much sums up their appeal: searing riffs and a great chorus. ‘Rock’n’Roll Loser’ would make Joan Jett proud if she ever heard it. You can almost feel the spittle hit your face from within your computer on these songs. I’m a stickler and will say the five men called Screw work best when on stage, but as a souvenir of those great gigs you saw this does not disappoint. If you want fun you’ve come to the right place: all fans of classic rock and New York punk should check out with further delay.

Phil Istine

New Vintage Rock magazine hits shelves

Shindig! covers psych, prog, garage, beat, soul, folk...but we rarely touch on 50s rock'n'roll and rockabilly. Clearly a gap in the market you may surmise, and it looks like one that's just been filled by new quarterly Vintage Rock.

It's brought to you from the same people who recently launched the Burlesque Bible quarterly. Issue one has all you would expect from a glossy magazine: news section, features on the early days of Elvis, an interesting piece on the beginnings of rock'n'roll in the UK, 50 Best Rockabilly Tracks, lovely pieces on Jet Harris, Duane Eddy and Alexis Korner, some indifferent 'guide to' pieces for the beginners, a review of the Hemsby weekender, and much much more within its 116 pages. The only thing we seem to be missing is a music reviews section.

The magazine hits the shelves of WHSmiths today, costing £5.99. You can subscribe here. Their website isn't up and running quite yet, but there is Facebook page here nonetheless.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Event: Rhythm & Blue Beat, London, Saturday November 19

London and south-east mods rejoice, there's a new night in town! Rhythm & Blue Beat takes place this Saturday November 19 in Camden, and promises "dancing fare from the vintage vinyl, all in our own private abode above the steamy wild streets of Camden".

Expect to hear fine 45s of the R&B, rhythm’n’soul, mod jazz, popcorn, Hammond grooves, & latin boogaloo persuasion from the resident DJs Smart Phil & Southern Sam as well as from the guests Joel Maslin (Va Va Voom) & Marcus Hjoberg. Make sure you dress to impress and be ready to shout and shimmy for a whole 6 hours of top quality music bought to you by Sweet but Deadly.

Upstairs @ The Camden Head. 100 Camden High Street, Camden, London, NW1 0LU. Nearest tube: Mornington Crescent/Camden Town. 9pm-3am. £5 entry

Black Sabbath reunite for album and shows


At a press conference in Los Angeles on Friday (at 11:11am on 11/11/11, time fans) Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Bill Ward, & Ozzy Osbourne announce that 70s rock goliaths Black Sabbath (in other words, the first edition of the band, the 'proper' one!) have reformed and will be releasing their first new album of material since 1978's Never Say Die!. Yes we know they have reformed before, but it this line-up have not released an album in so long it really does feel like a special moment.

The "four hard men from Birmingham" pronounced two crucial facts: they will be releasing a full new studio album in the autumn of 2012, to be be produced by Rick Rubin and released on Vertigo, and they will hit the road next summer too. Though only one live date has so far been confirmed, that being the Download festival on June 10 next year. No doubt they will be immense shows, and in demand.

Watch the press conference from Friday on Youtube HERE.

Record Review - Cherry Choke

CHERRY CHOKE
A Night in the Arms of Venus
Elektrohasch CD/LP

According to the band this concept album concerns, “the journey of a hard living Victorian gent with an eye for the syphilitic ladies of the night through to his final Mercury-ridden twisted end.” Mercury was often used to treat syphilis in Victorian times though had the rather unfortunate effect of making patients more ill due to its massive toxicity.

History lessons asides, the band feature Mat Bethancourt, who may be familiar to some from his stoner-psych outings with The Kings of Frog Island and retro ’70s rock outfit Josiah. This band take a similar retro tack, playing late ’60s style powerful psychedelia with clear influences from Hendrix, Cream and particularly SF Sorrow-era Pretty Things.

The acid rock guitar and Who style powerplay all sound fairly derivative but still add up to an enjoyable listen, even though it’s hard to follow the rock opera story. The songwriting sags towards the middle but there are still plenty of memorable tracks and lots to enjoy. Recommended to acid rock fans.

Austin Matthews

Monday, 14 November 2011

Style – Art Gallery Clothing

London Clothing Label Art Gallery's new online shop goes live

Stylish Modernism For The 21st Century



ART GALLERY'S ONLINE SHOP GOES LIVE
News story for style and music magazines, websites and blogs
Art Gallery Clothing's Alex Banks is pleased to announce the launch of online shop www.artgalleryclothing.co.uk. "It's looking great," he smiles, "and really sums up what the new line of clothes are all about. The early ’60s / late ’50s feel of Soho and Absolute Beginners is most certainly apparent in the Winter Collection, but that's not to say all of our lines will purely represent modernism. Who knows, the spring or summer ranges may have elements of sharp punk attire, or something else entirely. We look to the future with elements of the past. We're not stuck in it!"

The Italiente lines and patterns of the 2012 knitwear range indeed recall a pre-Swinging London, when American GIs rubbed shoulders with young Stylists, well versed in R&B music. This period marked the first wave of a rapidly changing, consumerist society stoked on fashion. The time when a brand new, clean cut look – that mirrored both European cinema and the impeccable cool of Blue Note jazz – was starting to take hold on the hippest members of London night life.

          


Friday, 11 November 2011

Quadrophenia day this Monday

Its the mod cultural icon that always entertains new generations, a testament to the power of post-war teenage subculture and to the majesty of early 60s London. Yes we are talking about Quadrophenia, arguably The Who's finest hour on both record and on celluloid. This Monday November 14th the UK gets it's chance to hold the Director's Cut of the 1973 album, and a Blu-Ray high defintion version of the 1979 film.

The "Director’s Cut" of the album has been authorised and overseen by Pete Townshend. Based around the story of Jimmy, Quadrophenia tells the tale of a young mod and his struggle to come of age in the mid-1960s.The story also takes its influence from the band’s early fans from the original mod era. The project was intended to reflect the four characters of The Who. There is a super-deluxe limited edition box set available that features (deep breath) the original double album remastered, 25 unreleased demo tracks from Townshend’s studio archive, a 5.1 EP eight track DVD (re-mixed for surround sound), a 100-page hard-back book featuring a brand new 13,000 word essay 'by Townshend, a replica 7" vinyl single featuring '5.15' b/w 'Water', six facsimile memorabilia ‘inserts’ housed in a card envelope, and a 20" x 30" poster. If you love this album no doubt this will be on your Christmas wish list!

Plus Quadrophenia on Blu-ray has finally been confirmed. The extras will be a commentary, a documentary 'A Way Of Life: Making Quadrophenia', plus a featurette called 'On Location With Franc Roddam' and the original trailer.

Get your zoot suit on and down to your usual retailers. Chanting 'We Are The Mods! We Are The Mods! We Are We We Are The Mods!' is optional.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Record Review: The Vinyl Stitches

THE VINYL STITCHES
All Strapped Up
Death Pop LP / ITunes download
www.thevinylstitches.com

At last I finally get to hear the primal outpourings of London’s threesome fuzz heroes The Vinyl Stitches, four years after I first saw them. I’m happy to report that you’re gonna have a real good time kicking back with this black slab on the stereo. It kicks off with a guttural instro guitar workout that Link Wray would’ve been proud to call his own. Then the title track introduces mainman Claude Pelletier’s deep voice, and man he sounds pissed off! These songs don’t hang around: they come with a message of hate. Some woman (women?) have definitely got his goat, and now he’s kicking back. The formula here is pretty straight-forward (some may say repetitive) but this sort of rock’n’roll sneers ‘primitive, yeah that’s how we live’. The guitar sound captured here is fabulous, a good guitar band always sound better with the right fuzz tones. The chugging soars majestically above the rhythm bashing, heading into riff heaven on every track..

“Do you feel the ache in my bones”? Ask Pelletier on ‘I Know Why’, and of course I think ‘yes I do! You sound like the most pissed off man to ever emerge from the garage!’ Side one is rounded off with Back From The Grave classic ‘Can’t Tame Me’ by The Benders. It’s done with enough healthy disrespect for the original for the band to call it their own song almost. The second side is more of the same, a highlight being ‘Nothing To Lose’, a song sounding even more heavy than it's compadres (and I didn’t think that was possible here). The whole caboodle finishes with a low-down punk version of early Doors number ‘Been Down So Long’ - and it just encapsulates everything that is so-wrong-its-right with the Stitches. This album is over far too soon: I’m immediately left wanting more grade-A desperate rock’n’roll. Let’s hope album number two comes along soon! In the meantime garage-punk fans all over the world will lap this album up, and deservedly so.

PHIL ISTINE

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Live Review: July

Pic: Valentina Vaughan

JULY

229 The Venue, London, Saturday 23 October 2011

Bugger me, I made it. I knew they wouldn’t be on at 10 prompt. Granted, the Standells had started well early the previous year, but that was in the bigger of this venue’s two rooms. Tonight, Tom Newman, Pete Cook and the rest of West London’s greatest veteran psychedelic collective are in the considerably smaller ‘psych room’ so that Rob Bailey’s ensuing Crossfire allnighter will follow directly on from them, and in organisational terms, it works perfectly.

Yet somehow, whilst their first reunion show at the Lexington earlier this year had been an absolute blinder, there’s something about the overall atmosphere tonight that doesn’t quite come off. OK, sure, the vocal reverb/chorus pedal effect that is so essential to most of their 1968 album is either missing or just extremely inaudible, and that might have a lot to do with it. It also sure as hell doesn’t help that the audience tonight seem disinterested by comparison (maybe precisely because it isn’t the first reunion show anymore) and that the sound quality in the venue is passable at best.

It isn’t as if the band isn’t on form either. If anything, the intermittent five months of rehearsal, during which most performers learn to ‘wear’ their songs like a second skin, have gelled and tightened the band into a unit, with younger members Jim ‘son of Tom’ Newman and Charlie Salvidge (Toy) now fully worked in and functioning as part of a 60-fingered machine. There are less fluffs and misrememberings than at the previous show: the harmonies are perfectly in tune, and they all seem to be able to hear each other. On the other hand, though, there are longer gaps and more meanderings in between tunes, Newman’s introductions are barely audible to us (again, not his fault) and the whole affair seems somehow quite - how best to put it- laboured by comparison. And conversations with several fellow attendees of my acquaintance would seem to confirm it isn’t only me that thinks this.

What exactly, then, is the problem? I mean, all the requisite ingredients are there. Legendary band? Check. Most of original lineup? Check. New material a bit more gothy and metally than one would expect from a group of such lineage, but still enjoyable, promising and with its heart in the right place? Check. Swirling mist and swathes of long grey hair? Present and correct. Killer 1968 vintage tunes? Well, obviously. My Clown, A Bird Lived, Friendly Man, the eternal proto-prog jam epic Dandelion Seeds, You Missed It All….every single one a definitive stone psych classic, and they wouldn’t have reformed to such an audience in the first place if they weren’t aware of that. Yet somehow, July miss the mark. I’m going to play the wild card and state that if everyone wasn’t continuously talking over them, and I could actually see them (seriously, the sightlines in here have never been great, but tonight they seem even worse) without having to squeeze myself to the front-left-hand-side of the stage, I might have been able to immerse myself in the atmosphere. But so many of us didn’t, and tonight felt as if the band struggled admirably against the odds but still ended up sounding as if they were playing a gig somewhere else down the road while 200 or so of us stood here, some attempting to harken and the rest quite clearly preoccupied by fringe concerns.

No-one should be put off seeing July play by this review- - I certainly haven’t been. No-one should be put off coming to Crossfire either: it’s still undoubtedly one of the best of, if not the very best, of London’s manifold and numerous nights. But sometimes, things just don’t get started, and spend the rest of the night cruising in second gear, and tonight July were indeed stuck in this rut. As Tom Newman says when I tell him this later, every gig is different. Sometimes they just don’t happen, and other times, just as inexplicably, they do, and they’re unbelievable. They were outstanding back in the Spring, and they will no doubt be outstanding again soon. I am also very much looking forward to the new album. After all, if the New York Dolls, Leaf Hound and the likes can pull it off, so can they.

DARIUS DREWE SHIMON

Live Review: Glen Campbell

GLEN CAMPBELL

Royal Festival Hall, Saturday October 23 2011

So this is it then. The very last time. The man whose music appeals to more generations than most people would ever even meet and converse with in a lifetime- sadly, now, after a life of hellraising and being the archetypal wild country boy, forced into retirement by encroaching Alzheimer’s. I suppose, though, that 75 is quite a good age in rock’n’roll, or country, or easy listening. Sadly this also happens to be the very first time I’ve ever seen him, but from the evidence on offer tonight, it doesn’t seem like tonight is any different from what others have seen before. Except, of course, a little more emotional.

It’s a short set but in no way are the audience short-changed, and in that time, the only man who can claim to have worked with Frank Sinatra, the Beach Boys and John Wayne in one career provides us with ample reminders of just why he is so revered. And for a man struck down by a debilitating disease, his smooth vocals and fleet-fingered guitar playing, which launches into overdrive during opener Gentle On My Mind and never lets up, seem as sharp as ever. In fact, the matter of his health is only ever raised once (“I’m getting’ to be forgettin’”) and is only apparent when asking his beautiful daughter Ashley (keyboards and banjo) what key a song is in, or when repeatedly mentioning how he managed to amuse Wayne during the shooting of True Grit with his Donald Duck impressions.

It’s also important to remember that while he may be known primarily for interpreting the songs of others such as Jimmy Webb (By The Time I Get To Phoenix, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress and the evergreen Wichita Lineman) Allen Toussaint (Southern Nights) and Larry Weiss (Rhinestone Cowboy), and all of those are performed with style and gusto tonight, he occasionally writes his own tunes too: both Your Amazing Grace and A Better Place, from his latest and final album Ghost On The Canvas, the Paul-Westerberg-penned title track of which is also played, demonstrating his overlooked skills in that department.

And while the chills run, naturally, down my spine and everyone else’s during Lineman- that arrangement, those strings, that guitar solo, those lyrics, the very picture painted- it’s A Better Place that ends the evening on an unbelievably poignant note, as he remarks “the world’s been good to me”, but ruminates that after four marriages, eight kids (three of which are onstage tonight) and innumerable records sold worldwide, there might still be somewhere else to go where one engenders a little less suffering and a little more serenity, and that he’ll get there sooner rather than later. There are extra seats around the rear of the stage at the RFH tonight, and as the eternal Rhinestone Cowboy takes his bow for the last time, in the UK at any rate, no single one in the house is left unoccupied, the entire audience (in which I spotted friends from across the diverse range of musical subcultures) rising in simultaneous admiration of a man who quite literally did it all and more.

Befittingly, the mood is definitely one of celebration: if there has indeed been a load of compromisin’ on the road to his horizon, Campbell got there eventually on his own terms, helping to co-invent or at least popularise a whole new subgenre – ‘countrypolitan’ - along the way, one which filled my own childhood with distant promises of a strange, adult world called America. What the genre will be like without him is a more worrying prospect, but all things must pass, and I’m honoured to say I was here tonight to witness it.

DARIUS DREWE SHIMON