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Friday, 30 November 2012

New Fanzine - Start!

This is the start of Start! We don't see that many printed magazines and fanzines arrive in this day and digital age, and we think anyone who launches one deserves our support.

The launch issue has just been released of the mod, soul, ska, and scootering-focused publication. This one has pieces on The Moons, The Questions, John Hellier and London International Ska Festival.

It's editor is one Emma Goodman. Cost of this first issue is just £1 plus postage of £1.40 via this PayPal email.

Start! on Facebook

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Record Review - Desert Ships

Control/We Write The Sound
self-released D/L

Londonʼs dream-pop three-piece Desert Ships have that 80s/90s psychedelic indie sound just right. I suspect this is partially achieved by their producer, one Mark Gardener (Ride). Decamping to record ʻControlʼ and the rest of a forthcoming debut album Doll Skin Flag in an Oxford farmhouse with him sounds like a hoot, and this confident-sounding single should win them even more deserved fans.

ʻControlʼ is all cinematic swirling guitars, equally light and heavy - a true sonic cathedral of noise allied within a three-minute pop song. The strings are tasteful enough to come in only towards the end. The drum sound is very much in the Ride vein, carrying the song forward without ever overwhelming. Everything just sounds right. Close your eyes and it’s 1991, the sun is out, and your new beau hasn’t yet deemed to dump you, but the signs are already there.

B-side ʻWe Write The Soundʼ is different. An angry bass riff is drowned out by star-sailing warm guitars and that immense drummer again and his life-affirming beats. It’s got that early Mercury Rev feeling, which I’m glad to hear back in my life. The hypnotic, repetitive vocal line is irrepressible and a tasty as a summer wine.

It will take you mere seconds to downloads this excellent single - go do it, now.

Phil Istine

Record Review - Le Kid & Les Marinellis

Les Jolies Filles

P Trash LP/DL

These Montréal, Canada super-rock indie-garage kids have released their sophomore effort. Singing in their native French is admirable, but my GCSE level understanding means I have no clue if they're singing about revolution, sex or their supermarche shopping list.

The songs are mostly a rather innocent take on the classic, infancy period of rock’n’roll. My favourite songs are the Elvis at Sun meets The Coral rumble of ‘Dis-Moi’ and the 60s harmony folk-punk of ‘Je Ne Grandirai Pas’. Elsewhere are touches of Bolan/Bowie (‘Personne Ne Dit’), rockabilly(‘Homme Soixante’), Ramones-style punk (‘Les Jolies Filles’), Libertines-y gypsy skiffle (‘20 Ans’), and Strokes-indebted new wave-garage (‘Gina’).

The playing from everybody is excellent, but the songs aren’t finished in a way I haven’t heard before. A lot. I like that they can be accomplished with many styles, but where you sit on the diversity versus lack-of-focus side of the fence will decide whether you want to delve into this fun-packed smorgasbord. In conclusion: you should go have a listen, for you’re likely to find something that tickles your fancy.

Phil Istine

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Live Review - Shuggie Otis

London Jazz Cafe
November 20 2012

So, another day, another one of "those" gigs then. Where would we be without the occasional reclusive legend to appear out of nowhere and jolt us to our senses by the very dint of their continued existence? Well, at home in the warm, for one thing. But I digress...

Shuggie Otis, for those not in the know, is the definition of a cult (stop sniggering, I said CULT!). Son of R'n'B peer Johnny Otis, he apprenticed with his dad's band, then made (between 1969 and 1974) three of the finest albums of funk-rock/psych soul ever released, wrote hits for a few other people, played with Zappa and the Mothers for a bit, and then promptly disappeared off the very face of the earth. 

When I worked at Flashback Records in the early 00s, and the tintraweb was still in its relative infancy, we were all convinced he was dead. How wrong we were. Not only that, but he's only 59. In today's terms, considering that the band I saw the previous night featured two septagenarians on lead vocals, that makes him a positive youngster. And, despite some greying strands and a slightly more sallow, drawn physiog, doesn't he look it too? Actually, more than that- with his jodphurs, frock coat, white blouse and frilled trousers, he's an utter dandy, resembling more than anything else a mixed-race Peter Wyngarde. Except with exemplary guitar playing talent and slightly less moustache.

That is, when he eventually appears. From my vantage point, I'd actually spotted him up in the balcony some time back, but I was beginning to think he'd never get onstage. Then again, a man who hasn't been out front live in almost 40 years is bound to require a little warming up before getting up there to do his 'thang', and, true to form, the first thing he does after striding down the stairs to rapt applause and plugging in his axe (itself suffering some amplification issues) is bump his head on the microphone and become entangled in his own backline. Todd Rundgren was right two years ago - this stage is too bloody small. As the Shugster (as he was never known by anyone until now) finally gets under way with 'Comin' Home Baby' and, cue another tumultuous roar of awe, 'Inspiration Information', there's a touch of hesitation not only from the audience (will he? won't he? Is that really him?) but the man himself - as is only to be expected given how much he's shied away for many years from public performance, and he does seem genuinely uncomfortable to be onstage and so close to so many adoring people.

Slowly but surely, and backed by the perfect polyrhythms of jazzmeister Marvin 'Smitty' Smith, he begins to find himself. The high notes beginning to rise with more confidence on 'Island Letter' and new number 'Trying To Get Close To You', a preview from the forthcoming album (third roar!) which, I can happily report, doesn't suck, does sound like proper vintage Shuggie, and hasn't 'gone all Mark Ronson' on us. Thank fuck for small mercies. Why, then, he chooses to follow this with a slow, plodding blues that causes the audience's attention to wander (except during the instrumental breaks) is beyond me, but by now I'm beginning to realise that part of the Otis enigma is this very deliberate awakwardness, and an unwillingness to pander to expectations. Which explains the lack of a followup to such a well-regarded album as Inspiration Information for almost 40 years. The misdemeanour is quickly forgotten - 'Sparkle City' brings us back up to speed, and 'Aht Uh Mi Hed', still possibly his most scintillating composition, shimmers in the way it should, eliciting several aaahs and oohs from those assembled. Timing is everything, and placing these two together is a masterstroke - theoretically speaking of course.

In truth, however, the latter lacks the motorised electronic beat or the chilling strings of the original, and he's still singing slightly flat. Yet, by the time we get to an almost Leonard Cohen-like acoustic section (which literally makes us feel we're atop some lofty peak in far off Texas watching the tumbleweed blow past the coyotes) and 'Wings Of Love', another track from the upcoming album, I've decided to overlook this and just remember that I like him very much. Not only is his guitar playing matchless in this sub-genre, but the woodwind and horn solos (from Albert Wing and Michael Turre in particular) are also outstanding, deploying the sort of wooded textures heard and loved everywhere from Neil Ardley's Kaleidoscope Of Rainbows to the incidental music from The Good Life. And now, at last, the Shug looks happy to be onstage.

Just as well too, showtime's nearly over. 'Doin It Right', followed by the inevitable 'Strawberry Letter 23' (still a classic, but again, maybe galling to a man who has to take stock of the fact that after all these years, his best known tune is by somebody else) and 'Ice Cold Daydream' bring a troubled but eventually triumphant set to a close, with everybody who was once afraid of moving now firmly grooving: if Otis can keep up this particular impetus (I hear UK dates are already being pencilled in, for 2013, in larger venues) and marshall his strengths, this comeback could effectively, like that of Bill Fay, run, run and run. Plus, we need a new name in the soul frame now Terry Callier has bitten the dust, so why not one that just happens to be a god among guitarists? Shuggie Otis, despite his inevitable feet of clay as a cult idol, and with his earlier indulgences behind him, is still an inspiration and a source of information to many.

Surveying his victory (or should that be triumph over adversity?) he nods, shakes hands (including mine) and dashes back upstairs, leaving us to ponder what, where or when next: but at the end of the day, only he can make that decision. Oh, and what is it with McEnery brothers lookalikes this week? First a Peter at Gong, and now, in this audience, a John- bellowing away to his heart's content. Stop following me already!!!

Darius Drewe Shimon

Live Review - Gong

London Shepherds Bush Empire
November 19 2012

Sometimes, after a while in this job, you realise how much emphasis on "industry" and "business" the music industry really places - as opposed to the creation of something beautiful and altruistic for the sake of beautiful altruism itself. There I go, sounding like a hippie. But then again, I am at a Gong concert. And if you can't be a hippie here, where can you? Other progressive and psychedelic rock giants may attract increasingly "Clive"-like audiences these days, computer programmers to a man, but the Gong gang is much more esoteric in nature, with dreadlocks, strange tribal outfits and what would have once been called "bizarre garb" aplenty, right down to the bloke in the dishevelled white dinner-jacket who looked the spitting image of Peter McEnery and asked me if I'd got any mushrooms. Like, maaan.

The other immediately noticeable difference is that the audience is now sadly smaller than it was, even a couple of years ago. And this is what I'm on about. Three years ago, at the time of the superb 2032 album, Daevid Allen and Gilli Smyth were rejoined ably by Steve Hillage, Miquette Giraudy and Mike Howlett, with Soft Machine man Theo Travis on reeds, thus revitalising a six-strong frontline which drew audiences en masse to some of their most high profile shows in over a decade. Sadly, as with all such concepts, the need for financial remonstration seems to have outweighed the desire to work together, possibly due to promoters refusing to pay the large fees required, and one by one, all the above named have drifted off, leaving founders Allen (aged 74) and Smyth (aged 79) once more as the solitary keepers of the flame, backed by a 'new generation' lineup (including Allen's son Orlando on drums) who, whilst they bring fresh enthusiasm and power to the table, don't pull in the punters. For this reason, several fans have voted with their feet by staying away in droves, which means that the venues again lose money, and next year, the tour will be on an even smaller scale, meaning...oh, you get the picture. The volatile nature of business...

None of the above, though, will EVER stop me from loving Gong's music on a very fundamental level indeed. Quite the opposite; the smaller, more intimate gathering actually makes us feel like a band of renegade brothers, inspiring much camaraderie in the process. But that's irrelevant anyway, as the sound made by the new line-up is nothing short of stupendous. Or at least it would be, if the sound wasn't, as per usual for the Empire, woefully toppy and muffled at the same time. However do they manage it? Various knock on effects of this oversight include Smyth's delicate space whisper (already at half power due to a recent cold, I'm told, and nothing to do with her age whatsoever) being drowned out on practically everything, bar 'I Am Your Pussy' (nice impromptu meowing from the audience though) and 'Dynamite/I Am Your Animal', and totally inaudible during the mid-section of 'Tropical Fish/Selene', while far too much bass drum during 'Escape Control Delete' robs the song of its inherent Kraut-mongous thrust. But any such letdowns are more than made up for by the heightened commitment of the band members themselves.

Guitarist Fabio Golfetti and bassist Dave Sturt are a tight yet freeform, locked-in yet always on-the-out rhythm section, as metal-inflected as they are jazz-tinged, and they handle the thrust and parry of 'Master Builder', 'Can't Kill Me' and the mesmeric, 11-minute thrash of 'Opium For The People' as easily as the more intricate, multi-layered, time-signature-challenging mode of 'Zero The Hero And The Witch's Spell'. Ian East, introduced as "the East Wind", is easily the most charismatic of the new bloods, even if he does look like a Trustafarian stereotype in that hat and robe combo, and makes suitable mincemeat of 'Flute Salad', which, rather than just being an intro, is now a show-stopping number in its own right. It still segues, undeniably, into 'Oily Way', with complete audience participation vocal, but the identities are no longer completely merged: ditto the following mantric tantric double-shot of 'Inner Temple' and 'Outer Temple', now just as much of a highlight as its chronological predecessor. If Richard Attenborough in 10 Rillington Place imbued the idea of being offered a cup of dried leaves in boiling water with a terrible, sinister, sickly overtone, then Gong achieved the opposite, the repeated chant of "have a cuppa tea, luvverly cuppa tea" (improvised lyrics this time include ruminations on whether certain mushroom brands are better than Twinings) almost an anthem for the turned on, tuned in, dropped-out free-festival generation. And in case you're wondering just how turned on and genuinely psychotropic Gong 2012 are, can I just point out that I hadn't imbibed anything stronger than 3 pints of bitter that night, and I was still tripping, amply aided and abetted by the cascade of swirling, twisting visuals.

Yet, unquestionably and indefatigably, the star of the show remains Daevid Allen, the Divided Alien, aka Bert Camembert, Zero The Hero, or whatever name he chooses to be known by this week. Slim, dapper (OK, maybe not when dressed as a wizard or a giant pixie, and NO, I'm not making this up- he really still does both those things), recently chopped of several inches of barnet, eloquent, theatrical, and full of boundless energy at 74 which puts me and my generation to shame, he is never so joyful as when onstage, championing the band he truly loves, and the "planet", which has been his home on and off since 1969. To this seminal, important, yet humble Aussie man - a pioneer whose contribution to the very existence of psychedelia stretches far beyond music and is as essential as that of Leary, Gysin, Owsley or Burroughs - Gong is not just a band anyway, it's a crusade, a never-ending quest to bring beauty into sharper focus and destroy the drab greyness which infects everyday existence.

Some of it is, unfortunately, misguided- while a longstanding Ozrics lover, I've never espoused travelling or communal lifestyles myself, seeing both as problematic as the very urban existence they negate- and obviously, even in the artists' utopia which they envisage, there will always be quibbles and squabbles about money, but as long as "Radio Gnome" continues to transmit, invisibly or otherwise, across the astral airwaves, the essential message will beam into the eyes and ears of all who are there to hear it. And, if all that wasn't enough to convince you in itself, how many other bands can you name who actually bibble themselves onstage? (Er, Caravan - Ed). Surely, that says everything you'll ever need to know about why Gong are still essential in your life.

Darius Drewe Shimon

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Record Review - Little Annie & Baby Dee

‘State of Grace’

Tin Angel Records

Singer, painter and actress Little Annie (Annie Bandez) is cult stardom personified. Nearly 32 years after releasing her first single on Crass Records, the New Yorker is still, ahem, a well kept secret. Yet her fans and ‘celeb’ collaborators such as Kid Congo Powers and Marc Almond regard her as a legend who’s always pushing boundaries.

As various times the New Yorker has dabbled in punk, reggae, electronic, industrial – and other experimental musical forms. Now, though, Little Annie has teamed with composer Baby Dee, a transsexual who’s also a classically trained harpist and circus sideshow veteran, to create this collection of songs which sound as though they were nicked from a weird fringe show. Guests include Bonnie ’Prince’ Billy who duets with Annie on the title track, his singing providing welcome contrast to her theatrical EarthKitt-ish vocal style. It shouldn'’t come as any surprise that the pair are mutual admirers: they’re kindred spirits intent on finding back routes that will keep them well away from the big crowds hovering just around the corner.

Chris Twomey

Live Review - Sonny Rollins

Barbican, London, November 16 2012

Screw genres, a legend is a legend. My own personal campaign for more jazz on here notwithstanding, there are very few recording artists who command the same respect as Sonny Rollins. And at 82, I should bloody well think so too. With the exception of Wayne Shorter and Yusef Lateef (the latter of whom is 92 and largely retired from public performance) he remains possibly the ONLY great tenorman left from the pre-freeform era (please get in touch if you can think of any others). With only Phil Woods and Lee Konitz remaining on alto, and Charlie Davis on baritone: whispers have also been going round about this being his last ever London or UK show, so the incentive was upon me to get down there. I had to view the first 40 minutes or so in the hall on the screen until I was gifted a ticket, mind you- during which time I witnessed possibly the most sublime 20 minute take on Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn's "It's You Or No One" I've heard since Monroe sang it in Some Like It Hot- but it sure was blummin' 'ell worth it, guvnor. 

At least I think that's what he was playing - you never really can tell with a bebopper, especially one who's lived through the freedom revolution and come out the other side, and, as the bloke from the Fast Show said, (come on, it had to be crowbarred in somewhere) "Tune? This is jaaaaazzzz!". But that would actually be a little unfair, as Sonny is still very bit the lyrical, songbird-like architect of sound he was as far back as Saxophone Colossus and Way Out West, with sly little smears referencing tunes from both creeping in and out as the night goes on. Backed by guitar, double bass (a flawless Bob Cranshaw), trombone, drums and congas, with fascinating exploratory interplay woven in and around him by the players of each, and with his lurching, twisting stage-walking manner providing the necessary theatrics (to say nothing of his red silk blouse and his billowing, rug-like flame of white hair- can this really be the same man that once inspired me to sport a mohican?) he defines the word 'charisma'.

In musical terms, his journey now appears in his latter years to have arrived at a place where all his previous incarnations, as hard-bopper, avant-gardist, R'n'B man, fusioneer and that 'uncredited' sabbatical with the Rolling Stones at the behest of Charlie Watts have all come to rest and enjoy each other's company. He takes you on that journey again several times throughout the evening, from the booming tone of his early Coleman Hawkins-inflected work to his latter-day appreciation of Coltrane, Shepp and Sanders, forays into funk hawking, and back- with the ever-present spirit of calypso, his very own Proustian Madeleine cake, at both ends. Starting with 'St Thomas' and ending with 'Don't Stop The Carnival' was more than just a case of a well-structured set list: from the Caribbean folksongs sung to him by his mother at an early age, all the way to Birdland, Newport and the Williamsburg Bridge via Riker's Island and back again, Mr Theodore Walter Rollins has sure been around, and he wants to show you the map. Perhaps that's why his sax still coils and unwinds in a serpentine fashion. He's also still as passionate about jazz as he was in the mid 40s when a Sinatra concert changed his life, and he still wants to change yours. I think he managed it several times over tonight alone...

You can't escape the truth of mortality though, and his hunched, arthritic posture (particularly evident for one who once stood so erect) is a consistent reminder of just how long ago this all started, and sadly how soon it could all be over. There are times when the horn slips out of his mouth, although he makes light of it ("wait!! stop now!! Woh, woh, where you goin? Come BACK here!!") his humour again reminding us why he is so respected, before quickly moving on to another burst of tenor magic. If there's one complaint, it has to be that often, just when things look set to explode fully into the realms of beautiful warm noise, he fights shy by returning time and again to the melody at the end of each phrase: maybe this again reflects that we are witnessing an older, mellower Sonny, maybe he just doesn't play like that anymore. Or maybe it's because he's Sonny Rollins, he can do whatever he wants, and although he thanks us all sincerely for coming, he's long past the point where he has to pander to ANY of our expectations.

As he descends those stairs to the backstage (there is no encore) by a respectable 9.45pm, a tinge of poignancy can't be avoided at the thought that he may never pass our way again, and this may be the last time he takes that walk: not because he's in any more immediate danger of passing than any other octaganerian, but because finally, after the upcoming European dates, the man they once called 'Newk' is finally taking the rest he deserves. Happy retirement.

Darius Drewe Shimon

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Live Review - Joan Armatrading

New Theatre, Oxford

November 18 2012

Baby, it's cold outside....so what could be a more welcome relief than an evening spent in a beautiful theatre in one of Britain's quaintest, cosiest cities, in the company of one of its best-loved (if not accordingly respected) singer-songwriters?

"Very little" is the answer, yet, because of its inherent cosiness and quaintness (some would even dare say 'twee'), Oxford on a Saturday night isn't exactly known for its rocking, party atmosphere. Some might also say this is a factor which befits Joan's subtle, reflective and still unclassifiable music perfectly: nevertheless, there was an overwhelming air of politeness about tonight's proceedings that was undoubtedly not her doing, and seemed to emanate far more from the audience, which was actually slightly smaller than one would have expected. I guess playing several dates very geographically near to each other (Cambridge, Aylesbury, Stevenage, Reading and London all featuring on the itinerary in close succession) in this day and age is more of a risk than it would have been even ten years ago: on the flipside, the fact that Joan still wants to take it speaks several volumes. 

Is she Shindig! material? Well, of course. Rooted in folk and gospel, filtered through soul, funk and blues, occasionally leaning towards hard rock, and with a new album dripping with jazz overtones (which also inflected much of her early work), she's no less than the UK's very own Joni Mitchell - except still actively recording and touring. There will also always be inevitable comparisons to the doyenne of confrontational female lyricists Janis Ian, but those are rooted more in a shared sexuality and ethnicity than the music itself. Tracy Chapman? She was shit. Tasmin who? At least Joan's songs aren't played by every shit busker from Hove to Holmfirth - probably because, even at their most deceptively simple, they're still too complicated. 'Show Some Emotion' may soundlike a perfect slice of late 70s Yacht Rock with Southern Soul overtones, but there are already so many layers going on within the opening two minutes that it's hard to take it all in.

You have to admire any artist so devoted to their music that they care literally nothing for image, but maybe the woolly bunnyrabbit jumper, grey slacks and sandals (it's safe to say that really, only she could get away with it) might have resulted in the 'Single Life' she satirises so perfectly in the new song of the same name. What a song it is, though: with a time signature Zappa would have been proud of, a melody that recalls Kenny Dorham's 'Blue Bossa', and guitar playing as good as either Beck or Santana but without the overwrought flash of either, it highlights a continued creativity that many nowadays seem content to lose as early as their 40s. 'Close To Me', on the other hand, isn't quite as interesting, but, like David Gates' or Daryl Hall's lesser material, still retains an indefinable something which elevates it above MOR blandola. So far so good, leading back into soulful pianistic classics with 'All The Way From America'- and then she blows it. If I wanted to wave my arms in the air inanely, I'd have gone to see Barry Manilow- well, no, actually, I wouldn't, which is half the point. And you'd have thought she'd take the fact that nobody except the first 3 rows did it the first time as some kind of hint, but, no, here we go again: "if you all do it at once", quoth the lady in her best Brummie brogue, "it looks really cool". Er, no, Joan, it doesn't.

What the hell though, I can forgive her- I can forgive anybody responsible for writing tunes as undeniably perfect as 'Tall In The Saddle', 'Starlight' (the title track of the superb newie) and 'Kissin And A Huggin', the latter of which features some of the most ferocious thrashing of an acoustic guitar I've seen since the last time I came face to face with Lindsey Buckingham, with suitably robust vocals to match. In fact, Joan's vocal prowess overall is every bit as powerful as during her '74-'82 heyday: she remains one of only a handful of artists whose talent in that respect has been untouched by time and age. And accordingly, she's assembled a band to match, with John Giblin (the man whose talents have stretched across the spectrum from John Martyn's Grace And Danger to Scott Walker's Tilt), outstanding on both bowed and plucked bass, again without ever stooping to the superslick virtuoso flash so redolent of today's "backing" musicians, and a wonderfully loose, intuitive drummer.

The keyboard player, on the other hand, HAS to go: despite a dizzying display of tinklatory prowess, his choice of MIDI sounds is responsible for covering everything from 'Me Myself I' (one of the essential songs of the New Wave era) to the hard-rocking 'Call Me Names' and the still-essential 'Love And Affection' in an unwelcome coating of what we used to call 'Mantovarnish'. I understand that it's a budgetary issue, as it is with many acts still touring at this level (the cash simply isn't there to hump real Mellotrons, Fender Rhodes' and Hammonds around the UK), and on a song like "Drop The Pilot", which always erred a little on the cheesy side, it's less noticeable- but I could do without it being there at all. Also, If I had my druthers, as "they" used to say, I'd have given anything to hear 'My Family', 'Head Of The Table' or anything from that seminal debut rather than the shoutalong faux-AOR of 'Best Dress On'- but then again, I'm a courduroy-clad, folksy, proggy old git (allegedly), so I'm always going to say that, aren't I?

Exterior shortcomings aside, Joan is, and always will be, a superior talent- but as it stands now, she suffers, like Al Stewart and several other contemporaries, from being unable to satisfactorily replicate her recorded sound onstage. Hopefully one day, somebody will grease the industry bods' palms enough to make the congnoscenti "reappraise" her genius, which will in turn allow her to display it to greater effect.

Darius Drewe Shimon

Friday, 23 November 2012

Live Review - Hawklords

Islington Assembly Hall, London

November 9 2012

"Never trust a hippy", sayeth the old adage: alternatively, "Hawklords onstage 9pm", quoth the stickers posted everywhere round the venue. Which means, lo and verily, that in the honoured traditions of people to whom time is merely an abstract concept to write about flying through upon an astral conveyor belt, the band actually take to the stage at 8.50, at which point I'm still ensconced downstairs. Ironically, the last time I saw them, at Chislehurst BeaverwoodClub, they finished ten minutes early: eventually, one day, they'll get it right.

Dashing back to the main auditorium I can see Ron Tree belting it out, mike-stand-a-shaking and vocals commanding in the best traditions of his mentor Bob Calvert. Adrian Shaw, surprisingly chipper for a man who in the last ten years spent some time at death's door, pummelling his bass with cheerful chutzpah: Harvey Bainbridge, ever the Grande Aulde Wizard of the keys, even with just one low-budget synth at his disposal: Jerry Richards, still looking for all the world like the LA sleaze metaller who got lost in a space rock band by mistake, and, in place of Martin Griffin (who seems to have been edged away from the band at the advice of you-know-who), "some bald bloke I don't recognise" on drums. Sadly no Steve Swindells this time (although he's very much present on new album We Are One, he's currently undergoing treatment for emphysema- but I'm assured by the friendly merch bloke that he'll be back soon) and no Nik Turner or Alan Davey either, having both re-decamped to Space Ritual and Gunslinger respectively. With this in mind, the link betwixt the band we're seeing and the classic 1978 lineup (essentially Hawkwind under another name at that point) is a lot more tentative than it was 2 years ago, but maybe on reflection, that's a good thing.

After all, right from the start, they've always made it clear that this isn't a nostalgia trip, more of a continuation of the groundwork laid down by the departed Calvert: dispensing with 'Master Of The Universe' early on in the set seems to lend this theory extra credence, and, lest we forget, they have a new album out. However, that doesn't mean they have to play practically all of it- which, tonight, is sadly what they do. Maybe if I was more familiar with the tunes contained therein, I'd be going apeshit for the likes of 'Digital Age' 'Sun Child' and even the trite eco-posturing of 'Global Warning' - melodically, they're all worthy of both the late 70s and mid 90s incarnations of the band from which this line up has been assembled. They swoop, twirl, pound and pummel beautifully in a live setting, and I can spot several fans rushing to the stall to buy the CD - but after a while, the continued onslaught starts to wear thin, so much so that when, finally, familiar faces poke their head out in the form of 'Uncle Sam's On Mars' and the definitive Lords anthem 'Psi Power', massive sighs of relief are breathed.

Or are they? Maybe I'm the only one who thinks like this. And make no mistake about it, the new material is strong, far more cohesive than anything released in recent years by the 'other lot'. Am I, then, merely displaying my encroaching middle age by longing for displays of greatest hits, or are albums like Quark Strangeness And Charm, PXR5 and 25 Years On simply so perfect that the desire to hear that material played live by at least two of the people involved is too hard to resist? Perhaps also, a little of it stems from the fact those records, under-appreciated for so long, are now finally being acknowledged. Yet inevitably this leads to the need for new material to continue the growing concern, the downside being its gradual encroachment on the old favourites.

Many bands who reform after a long absence find themselves in such a predicament: for Hawklords, the situation is even stranger as they are essentially a reformed version of one line-up of another band still in existence under a slightly different name, attempting to continue on from where one single album left off, but at the same time, they are also a separate entity. A new band with an ancient history? Maybe, but it's one to be respected, and one I hope they don't divorce themselves from entirely - the worst they could do would be to turn into just "a bunch of blokes playing songs nobody knows". If they did, I'm sure the attendances will drop off accordingly: conversely, by continuing to combine new material as strong as 'Spark In The Dark' (sadly, not an 80s Alice Cooper cover!!) and the title track with stone (r) gems like 'Brainstorm' and 'Robot' - the latter of which tonight is simply staggering in its immenseness- they'll always reflect the best of both worlds.

Welcome, then, indeed, to the future. One minor caveat, though, lads- if you're going to encore with a song as brilliant as '25 Years', could you maybe try to remember the lyrics and the chord changes, rather than just singing the first verse and then repeating the title endlessly over the riff while the rhythm section becomes increasingly confused? Trust me, it would elevate an average ending into a truly great one...

Darius Drewe Shimon

Live Review - Jefferson Starship

(this one slipped down the online cracks... apologies for tardiness!)

London Borderline, October 19 2012

Bugger me, it's cramped in here. Not surprising really, considering the venue only holds 275 people and JS, even at this late and unheralded stage in their career, are still something of a draw. Well, at this level anyway.

The departure in the early 00s of Marty Balin left head honcho Paul Kantner holding the baby, dragging a talented yet credibility-lacking troupe around the world to slowly diminishing audiences: since the return of David Freiberg in 2004, however, things have been once more on the up, and the arrival of Kathy Richardson in the 'Slick role' vacated by Diana Mangano has added extra boost to the 'Ship's once floundering cruise control. I've never, admittedly, seen a show of theirs I didn't enjoy, but there's a renewed zest and, above all, crunch to the proceedings these days that was starting to disappear seven or eight years ago, from the bouncing paws of opener 'Ride The Tiger' to the janglier, dreamier classic late Haight sound of 'Miracles' and 'Count On Me'.

For the first time in years, Kantner looks happy to actually be onstage, his back problems appear to have dissipated, he's almost as trim as he was in his 40s, and more than anything else, dapper in his neat black threads in a manner that belies his 71 years, with a renewed vocal power on 'Crown Of Creation' and a 17- minute full-on-freakout 'Ballad Of You Me And Pooneil' that, were it not for the overlong drum solo, could have transported the Borderline crowd telepathically back to the Fillmore. Freiberg, now 74, is even more of a revelation, although with his rotund frame and glasses he does bear a resemblance to a psychedelic Margaret Rutherford. His vocals on the little aired 'Harp Tree Lament', from 1971's much-underappreciated Baron Von Tollbooth And The Chrome Nun album, are astounding, but the greatest surprises come in the form of later, harder rock material such as 'Jane' and 'Find Your Way Back' - tunes which were outlawed from even the promotional material when I worked with them, so ashamed were they of their later AOR leanings until, presumably, the recent reappraisal of the genre forced them to take stock.

That said, I wouldn't in any way wish them to go down the post-ironic path blazed by the irksome, abhorrent likes of Glee, a road of ignominy which would inevitably result in them performing certain songs we have no desire to see again - yes, you know the ones- but it's nice to see other tunes most Shindiggers would have once run screaming in the opposite direction from suddenly fitting so snugly alongside their older counterparts. And it's on the vintage numbers- not just the predictable 'Somebody To Love' but a strident run through Quicksilver's 'Fresh Air', that Richardson comes into her own, becoming a great rock frontwoman rather than just a slick Slick imitator. By the time we get to 'White Rabbit', she's leaning into the first two rows (which, as anyone who's been to the Borderline will tell you, are pretty damn close to the stage) intimidating the poor hapless souls who dare to get too close. Personally, considering the remarkable resemblance she bears to Linda Hayden circa 1975, I wouldn't mind - especially with that voice. I could have done without the Sheryl Crow-esque solo material in the middle though- and with Kantner absent from the stage at the time presumably taking a quick widdle, it's the one moment where it bears too much uncomfortable resemblance to a tribute show. Although to whom I'm not sure...

It's been a long time since the Airplane crashed and the Starship took off, and its subsequent trajectory has veered into many strange universes: it may never again scale the stratospheric heights of exploration reached in the early to mid 70s, when several new worlds were discovered over the course of seven new albums, and it probably never set its sights on ending up on a grand tour of intimate UK clubs, but somewhere along the way, they discovered a distant satellite, colonised it and built a fortress- and, if you're lucky, they'll invite you in sporadically for a burn round the corridors. Decline at your peril, the offers won't keep coming forever.

Darius Drewe Shimon

Thursday, 22 November 2012

New Hendrix album in 2013

Exciting Jimi news to share.

Experience Hendrix have announced via Rollingstone.com that they are releasing a 'new' Jimi Hendrix album in the new year.

On March 5th, a collection of 12 previously unreleased recordings by Jimi Hendrix will see the light. People, Hell and Angels follows Hendrix in 1968 and 1969 as he works on material apart from the Jimi Hendrix Experience.

Hendrix was considering these new sounds for First Rays of the New Rising Sun, the planned double-album follow-up to Electric Ladyland. Hendrix experiments with horns, keyboards, and percussion, "exploring fresh diversions from his legendary guitarwork".

More news when we have it.

Event Preview - Hipsville weekender, UK

Hipsville is upon us in 2013!

The first edition of the 60s garage Go-Go party brought to you by the folk behind You Got Good Taste takes place on the weekend of May 10-12 at Bisley Pavilion, in Brookwood, Surrey.

Lots of bands (King Salami and the Cumberland 3, Wild Evel and the Trashbones, The Mentalettes, The Hi Class-Joes, Les Bof!, etc.), DJs (Traxel, Lutz, Kitty B Shake, Andy Roseaman, Neil Sick, Johnny Alpha, Craig Steptoe) Go-Go Girls (Linda, Lisa Kyle, Tia-Marie), Tiki Bar party, films, motorcycles and scooters...and much more! Hipsville takes place in a ballroom, with accommodation onsite and camping available.

More info to be announced as the time approaches of course, but suffice to say now if you fancy a weekend in an eccentric and secluded part of the English countryside you'll be well catered for at Hipsville.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Record Review – The Rolling Stones


Fucking brilliant! It's the Stones. 'Doom & Gloom' is still edgy, and people like me can now even actually listen to shite like 'Harlem Shuffle' in context and get their way through three (or more on the expanded editions) CDs charting 50 blimin' years of Mick & Keef. It's the Stones innit? Grrr sounds great and the selections work wonders – from 'Little Red Rooster' to 'Angie' to 'Start Me Up'! Buy it, make these poor old fellas richer and knock some awful shite off the top of the charts this Xmas. Now that's an order!

Jon 'Mojo' Mills

Record Review – The November Five

If You Are Satisfied You Are Dead
Montauk Industries CD/DL

This London-based combo have been getting some good press and a fair amount of airplay over the last year or so are. Like many new UK groups that are striving to be seen and heard, The November Five look also to past rock ’n' roll noisemakers for a lot of their inspiration. This is evident on this, their debut long-play offering where their sonic palette takes in a whole assortment of influences. However, I can't say I'm overly enamoured with the resultant noise they make. Vocally, it's the same ghosts that the majority of yesteryear's indie-types professed allegiance to that are heavily in evidence. So the likes of Lou Reed-style tones and that particular ilk are quite prevalent here and certainly inform the more reflective pieces. 

With such as 'Picking Up The Pieces' (with its lyrical "echo" references) and 'Breathe', what really springs to mind more than anything else is, rather conveniently, the style of Echo & The Bunnyman's Ian McCullough. The guitars seem to be all well-effected by heavy use of reverb etc on most of the selections, but, unfortunately, I don't really hear anything here that's wild, great or special, or that makes me think this is anything to get one's self hopped-up about. I was also a bit disappointed to learn that there isn't much in evidence here that suggests that any kind of garage, psych or ’60s rock-style records have infiltrated their thinking or playing style any, which is a shame as that is what I thought I was going to be hearing, but of course that's my, and not their fault. However, for what it's worth, the overall sound and feel of the drums and bass are, for this writer anyway, just quite lifeless and rhythmically plodding really, rendering their efforts dull and ordinary. Mostly everything here has that horrible modern samey sounding flat-ness to it.

Whatever it is, I can categorically say that this is not for any of the fuzz-loving, or discerning garage / psych nuts out there.

Lenny Helsing

Live Review - Laetitia Sadier

Laetitia Sadier
Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff
November 12 2012

Commanding the small Ifor Bach stage with a casual chanteuse grace, Miss Sadier launches proceeding's tonight with 'Rules of the Game'. Immediately lulling all present into the sweet and prescient beauty of the new Silencio album. The last time she graced a stage in Wales...And indeed my last encounter with her, was when in 1999 Stereolab sent the legendary TJ's venue in Newport town into an ecstatic trance when they performed to a full house. Heady day's that seem a lifetime away now. Tonight thing's flow with an equally engaging but more eloquently displayed flow.

Even though Stereolab always approached all of their art with a stylish, artful attention to detail, within Miss Sadier's work there seems to be an even greater attention to sophistication and space. The lyrical concern's continue the exploration of Socialist ideology, only now they are wrapped in a more Spiritual landscape. Filling the intimate venue with a luscious expanse of symphonic warmth 'There Is A Price To Pay for Freedom And It Isn't Security' is a prime example of this. It is a major pointer to why Silencio has made my Album Of The Year slot. Flowing majestically over the audience it is followed by engaging renditions of 'Auscultation To The Nation' and 'Lightening Thunderbolt' which a hit a more Motorik groove before lulling us into the beautiful exotica of 'Find Me The Pulse Of The Universe'.

The latent continental charm that underlines the performance tonight it's apotheosis with a riveting rendition of 'Silent Spot', before Miss Sadier is enthusiastically brought back for a spirited run through 'Statues' and a finale of 'Etoile'. An evening of assured but quiet dignity and engagement that assures us that from tentative beginnings, here is an artist now fully flourishing in her own kingdom, a place that can only point too more glorious heights that await.

Andi Edwards

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Record Review - The Dancers

The Box EP
VID Records 7"/CD

Heads up! Italian bubblegum power-punk-garage trio The Dancers should probably be called The Pogoers, for that is what you feel like doing whilst listening to their fast-lane assault on the senses.

This white vinyl four-track EP has a lead song less than a minute long. How's that for confidence? 'The Box' is 80s/90s power punk classicism condensed to its purest form. 'Heaven Is Ok' follows the same path, with some cliched stop-start riffing. 'It's Because of You' has no hook to speak of. The gabbling 'Dance When You're Dead' rounds off a thoroughly monochrome effort. The singer doesn't sound too comfortable singing in English at any point. The drumming isn't without merit though, and indeed is a powerful force throughout.

You like Green Day? Go fill your boots here. As many of our readers probably hate them, you're best off trying before buying.

Phil Istine

Monday, 19 November 2012

Record Review - Liquid Sound Company

Acid Music for Acid People 
Rockadrome CD 
The mainman in Liquid Sound Company, John Perez, is also the guitarist in epic doom act Solitude Aeturnus, whose 1990 album Into the Depths of Sorrow is highly recommended if you like that sort of thing. Here, however, he turns his hand to a sort of psychedelic eastern-influenced jam music, a formula that has served the band well on two previous albums in ‘96 and ‘02. 

The tracks presented here are a compilation of songs of varying provenance – jams recorded with the full band, an instrumental recorded by Perez solo and two live tracks recorded in 2000. This leads to an obvious lack of cohesion, though the material is generally excellent, ranging from the heavy oriental psych of ‘Liquid Sound Freedom’, to the bell-clear ambience of ‘Morning Sun’ and the crazy live bombastica of ‘Preparation for the Psychedelic Eucharist inside the Acid Temple’. Some of the recordings are more lo-fi than others but all retain the deep mind-blown spark that makes this album so enjoyable.

One of the tracks here is called ‘Agitation Free’ and that band’s Malesch album is a good signpost to Liquid Sound Company’s sound. While there’s some unevenness here and the recording quality variable there’s always enlightening psychedelia abounding across every track. That’s real psychedelia rather than ephemeral pop music with a few silly noises on top. Outstanding stuff.

Austin Matthews

Friday, 16 November 2012

Record Review - The Cubical

Arise Conglomerate

Halfpenny CD

Despite this being their third outing, I'm somewhat ashamed to say that The Cubical is a completely new name to me. But on the evidence of this it is also one which I'll be taking note of in future.

They're a group who are taking particularly engaging strides within their chosen medium, and bring with them a whole, if not new, then it's certainly a quite different slant to what most of us think we know already; for all intents and purposes, it's the blues really. But not for The Cubical the relatively safe road of the trusty twelve-bar turnaround, or the White Stripes and for that matter Black Keys minimalism, or the overly polished style of a 'Later with Jools' rootsy ensemble that the blues is much associated with today; vis a vis also what R&B now represents.

I especially love all the individual sounds that have been created here: the vibrancy of the guitar tracks, the drums too are just how I like to hear them, open, rolling and with great natural resonance, their driver capable of coaxing the best from the kit.

In Dan Wilson, The Cubical also have a very strong vocal presence, and some (most even?) will immediately begin to compare him with such names as the late great Don Van Vliet, alias legendary weird-oh Captain Beefheart. Others may suggest a very young Tom Waits, or perhaps even Nick Cave? While that's maybe not too far off the mark at times, given the lead growl Wilson has been gifted with, there's also a little of the early Magic Band (Cptn B's musical compatriots) style beat-blues approach on certain numbers. Examples of may include the bouncy soul-fired opener 'On The Weekend', the more garagey pop sounding '123 Girl' and also the excellently placed, thoroughly cutting 'Moron Culture'. However, there's also enough of the group's own merit, grit and glue - in the above-mentioned titles and elsewhere - so as not to tie them down too much to what would be an all-too obvious source of inspiration.

Here and there they offer the odd, more melodious sentiment, and slow, mournful, almost dirge-like passages too that at times can almost lull the listener into a kind of false sense of security. But you have to beware as this Liverpool lot can just as quickly turn on a sixpence and their sharp teeth noise can bite pretty hard.

Lenny Helsing

Tour News - Matthews Southern Comfort

Original lead singer with the seminal FAIRPORT CONVENTION Iain Matthews returns to the stage playing material with his following band, the UK country-rockers MATTHEWS SOUTHERN COMFORT.

Moving to London from his native Scunthorpe in the mid-60s and fronting the short lived UK surf/harmony outfit The Pyramid, releasing 'The Summer Of Last Year' on Deram, Iain McDonald dropped the second I from his name and soon found himself in Fairport Convention after being spotted by Ashley Hutchings. He left during the sessions of third album Unhalfbricking (having fronted the band first with Judy Dyble and then Sandy Denny). In 1969 supported by most of his old band mates Iain issued a solo album under the name Matthews Southern Comfort, which harked back to his recent past, before forming a solid band around the same name and releasing Second Spring and Later That Same Year in 1970 and 1971. Further embracing American folk-rock and country-rock in the mould of Crosby, Stills & Nash, Neil Young, The Youngbloods and other notable West Coast hippies Matthews Southern Comfort gained a surprise #1 hit with a cover of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Woodstock’.

Band friction saw Matthews quit to record solo material in a similar vein prior to signing to Elektra with Plainsong, finishing what his previous group had started, whilst as Southern Comfort the remaining guys soldiered on for another two albums. Moving to America Matthews enjoyed a long and varied career that saw him veer off into all kinds of styles and genres from pop and jazz to electro-pop and new wave. Now he returns to the source material that allowed him to spread his wings.

Tour dates...
Wed 21st November, Kinross - Backstage @ Green Hotel
Thu 22nd, Scunthorpe - Plowright Theatre
Fri 23rd, Liverpool - Leaf On Bold Street
Sun 25th, Exeter - Phoenix
Mon 26th, Birmingham - Kitchen Garden Cafe
Tue 27th, Hebden Bridge - The Trades Club
Thu 29th, Whitstable - Royal Native Oyster Stores
Fri 30th, Tonbridge - West Kent College
Sat 1st December, London - The Borderline
Sun 2nd, York - The Duchess

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Interview - Gulp

by Andi Edwards

Swathed in a gauze of Dream Pop ethereality, Gulp are the precious creation of Super Furry Animals bassist Guto Pryce and former Leven Siren Lindsey Leven. To date they have released the graceful floating lilt of 7" single 'Game Love'/'Diamonds In The Sky' and played a number of dates including a recent support with Scottish angular Psychsters Django Django. Through a misty haze of sensuous voices and bubbling electronics, Gulp are a gift to be treasured, caressing the senses and hypnotising the soul.

Leven explains "The creation of Gulp came about very easily. Myself and Guto were both working on some solo stuff and it quickly became obvious that we should join forces. We have a shared love for the same kind of sounds so the tunes we've been creating for Gulp have come around really naturally". And the influences that inspire their exquisite vision? "Travel and landscapes. We’ve been writing in the deserts of California, the highlands of Scotland and the west coast of Wales – these places definitely have an influence on our sounds. We both have a love for old psych and folk records, Californian pop, synths and film soundtracks too". Within her previous work with Leven,  I had always detected a strong folk influence at work and wondered if this was still a particular concern within the world of Gulp. "My musical loves are really varied. Maybe because I was a solo female vocalist with a guitar it was easy to brand what I was doing as folk music, but now I’m collaborating I’m really enjoying exploring my other influences more too. I grew up listening to the likes of Incredible String Band, Sandy Denny and Silly Wizard so I reckon folk music will always influence what I write for sure but I’m influenced by many different sounds".

Considering his vast pedigree within the mighty SFA, I was interested how much of Pryce's influence informed everything? "We pretty much write 50/50. It's very much a collaborative thing, one will write a song and the other will take it apart and reconstruct until we're both happy and we both get involved with bleeps and thuds" And the lyrical inspirations? "Landscapes, people and animals, places, life."

Within the magical sway of single 'Game Love', the distinct ethereal pop quality was something I found uniquely singular on it's release. Was this a concious thing I ask? "'Game Love' was very much the start of Gulp exploring our sound and so really there was no vision so to speak, it just kind of came out that way". How has the response been to the release? "It’s been really great thanks. We couldn't have hoped for a better response really, considering we've self released and had no press agent etc. We've done a lot off the back of the 'Game Love' release too, including the recent tour with Django Django. Looking forward to our next single now!" The future seems to be suitably harmonious... "We’re currently working on an album that we hope will be released in the Spring, and there will be hopefully a pile of more gigs around that time too".

Record Review - Thee Dang Dangs

Stone Coast EP
self-released DL

First release from this 4 piece, female led outfit from Denver, Colorado that revels in loud guitar, reverb, fucked up surfer blues
and more reverb. Coming across like a banshee led surf/rockabilly band being recorded from the back of the hall Stone Coast's opening track 'Midnight Come Rolling' might steal its riff from The Easybeats but that's where the similarity ends as the vocals, smothered in reverb,take over and the sound gets progressively heavier and uglier. From there it's the rockabilly riffs of 'Cowboy' as the 60s are dragged out of the back room and put on display in a big empty beer barn with the sounds bouncing back and forth off the walls.

'Talk Talk' continues the vibe, a punk surf tune with a guitar riff that hooks you pretty damn quick before the wail and repetitive blues of 'Aldous Huxley' drags you down into the mud. 'Hourglass' finishes the set with what could have been a beautiful sixties pop tune if it weren't for the distance between Ray Koren's sweet guitar riff and the echo of Rebecca Williams vocals but it's still a sweet way to finish and to show that there's more to this band than just the power and raunch of the earlier tracks. Thee Dang Dangs are like a bunch of kids brought up on those 'Born Bad'/'The Songs The Cramps Taught You' albums being let loose in the local club with their dad's musical equipment and no boundaries and that has to be a good thing.

Kami McInnes

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Exhibition - Stamford Hill mods

Photo by Stephen Hughes
Exhibition - Stamford Hill mods: the genesis of Marc Bolan
Hackney Museum, 7 November 2012 - January 2013

50 years ago the photographer Don McCullin took pictures of the 15 year old Mark Feld and his mod friends in Stamford Hill for Town Magazine. In 1965 Mark changed his name to Marc Bolan and went on to be the pop icon of T-Rex fame.

This exhibition looks at early mod culture, fashion and music in Stamford Hill in the 1960s. There are memories from people who grew up there and remembered the clothes they wore, the places they went to, the scooters they rode and their friendship, or not, with the young Mark Feld. Ths display includes a 1962 two tone Vespa scooter personalised by Eddie Grimstead, the scooter dealer to all the mods in East London as well original clothing, magazines and records of the time.

Opening Times:

Tues, Weds, Fri 9.30am - 5.30pm, Thurs 9.30am - 8pm, Sat 10am - 5pm. Closed Sun, Mon And Bank Holidays

Book News - Demons, Fairies & Wailing Guitars

Demons, Fairies & Wailing Guitars - The Best 100 Obscure Rock Acts 1968-1976

Demons…is a new book by Ra'anan Chelled covering 100 lesser known names from the worlds of prog, psych, hard rock, blues rock, folk, singer-songwriter and krautrock. Covering all the ground from Aguaturbia to Zerfas, some of the bands in between may not appear to be too obscure (MC5 and Hawkwind to name two) though have been chosen for their relative lower international profile than the major acts of the day. 

Happening caught up with Ra’anan for a few words on his book. “The whole thing started in 2003 or 2004 when I wrote a piece for the my university weekly titled ‘The Best Bands You've Never Heard About’, which got some good feedback. So from then on I occasionally wrote about another obscure band for the paper, never coming short with a new one, till finally it hit me that it's a pretty rad idea for a book”. Originally published in Hebrew it is has taken Ra’anan around a year to translate it himself into English.

Asked to name his favourite band in the book, Ra’anan comments, “I have a soft spot for Leaf Hound. Their album Growers of Mushroom propelled me to the world of obscure Rock. I remember hearing it for the first time and thinking "Holy shit! If something this good escaped the ears of the masses, what else is out there?" And there is plenty.”

Featuring exclusive photos and interviews, you can either pick up an electronic copy from Amazon or order a physical copy from Ra'anan.

Austin Matthews

Record Review - The Prisoner Of Mars

Self-released DL

Cambridge based one man band POM has put together an album that makes me thank the (dark) lord for eccentric English bedroom philosophers. What we have here are eight tracks of bizarro psych pop, new wave experiments and fey tunes that remind me of the glory days of the 45. Not the a-sides but the b-sides when bands would experiment and have some fun in the studio. Opening with the delightfully poppy 'One Day They'll Get You', the album soon moves onto the Gary Numan rehearsal riff married to a bedroom 80s new wave band of 'I Only Need Just You', the jamming pub rock of 'Dignified Dancer' and the new wave top of the pops of 'Super Duper'. There's more though, like the faux industrial tune 'Leaving Us All Behind' and the bizarro parallel world of 'Broken Record' and 'Just Can't Work It', which are the sounds of David Bowie if he'd never had another hit after 'The Laughing Gnome'.

This is an album for those bored with the lack of surprise in modern 
pop, this is an album of the b-sides, the experiments, the fun: short, sharp, fresh and always entertaining. Best of all this is an album that stands up to repeated listening. And he has plenty more where this came from, including his take on the Stones classic Their Satanic Majesties Request! Do yourself a favour, have some fun, you won't be sorry.

Kami McInnes

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

The Jam - Classic Album Selection

Six albums in one box - released December 3rd on Universal.

On November 19th Universal release a set of all The Jam’s classic albums in one nifty little box. Packaged in individual vinyl-replica CDs with rigid slipcases, and would fit nicely into any music fan’s Christmas stocking.

This complete studio album collection is released to mark the 30th anniversary of the band’s startling split in 1982 – at the height of their success and fame, and when principal singer and songwriter Paul Weller was juts a mere 24 years old! This set of albums is released on the same day as the super-deluxe box set of the Jam’s final album The Gift. The Jam were one of the most popular bands to emerge from the British punk rock scene in 1977 (although not technically a ‘punk’ band); along with The Sex Pistols, Clash, Buzzcocks. They had the most impact on pop music in their short career with18 consecutive Top 40 singles in the UK (including four number one
s). The Jam had a fanatical following and their gigs would sell out within minutes. Still beloved of original fans and new supporters through Weller’s solo career – he still plays many of the Jam songs in his live sets today.

1. In The City

· Debut LP from May 1977. Influenced by The Who and Dr Feelgood..

· Includes hit single – 'In The City' and Weller’s most ambitious early song – 'Away From The Numbers'.

2. This Is The Modern World

· Follow-up, released a few months after debut in late 1977.

· Includes hit single 'The Modern World'.

3. All Mod Cons

· Landmark album from 1978 that marked a turning point in The Jam's career, Weller's more melodic, complex, and lyrically incisive song-writing heavily influenced by The Kinks.

· Includes the classic hit singles 'Down In The Tube Station At Midnight' and double A-side 'David Watts' /' 'A' Bomb in Wardour Street'.

4. Setting Sons

· Released at the end of 1979, number four in the U.K. and their first charting album in the U.S.

· Loosely conceived as a ‘concept’ album, with a distinct link between key songs - 'Thick As Thieves', 'Little Boy Soldiers', 'Wasteland' and 'Burning Sky'.

· Includes hit single – 'The Eton Rifles'.

5. Sound Affects

· The ambitious, experimental Sound Affects followed in 1980, moving away from the classic Jam sound it made number two in the U.K. At the time Weller considered the album a cross between Off The Wall and Revolver and cites it as his favourite Jam album.

· Includes no. 1 single 'Start!' and one of the band’s most cherished songs – 'That’s Entertainment'.

6. The Gift

· The band’s final studio album from 1982 and first number 1 album – a departure from the harder Jam sound, including more soul and funk influences that would preface Weller’s next project - The Style Council.

· Includes the double A-side number 1 single 'Town Called Malice' / 'Precious'. The band became the first group since The Beatles to play two songs on BBC's Top Of The Pops.