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Monday, 27 December 2010

Vice Squad - Free Download

Punk rock survivors Vice Squad have managed to give Santa's sack a squeeze and persuaded him to spread a little Vice Squad goodwill by way of providing a free mp3 of "Santa Claws is coming to town" for a bunch of lucky fans.
The deal is that you sign up to their newsletter and in exchange for going out of your way for a meagre minute and pledging allegiance to the cause of the VS they will send you a link for the song.
As a fan of the band I jumped at the chance and I'm here to tell you that while most festive tunes leave a lot to be desired this one is going to be a perennial favourite.
There's only 200 of these free bad boys available so get to http://www.vicesquad.co.uk/subscribe.html to get yours before it ends up costing you a bank breaking quid you tight bastards.
The season of goodwill doesn't end there though.
Signing up to the newsletter also gives you the chance to get into gigs for free, money off merch from the store and the offer of more free mp3s in the new year.
If anyone can find me one other band who treats their fans like this then I want to hear about them.
Vice Squad do not have a major label backing them who are subsidising these offers.
This is the real deal.
A band who stand shoulder to shoulder with their fans and walk the walk when required.
For myself I'm going to make another public pledge of support and say that in exchange for these freebies I am going to get myself down to their online store and make some purchases as soon as the man pays me what I'm owed for breaking my back for the fucker.
You should to.
Don't make this the start of a relationship built on taking, but a long and rewarding one built on mutual love and appreciation.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Merry Christmas fuckers

To all the fuckers out there I hope you have a fuckin' excellent fuckin day filled with magical fuckin' moments that you will remember for the rest of your fuckin' lives.
For all the cunts. Well you can just fuck off.
Nah. Only kidding.
You cunts fire in there and have a good fuckin' time as well.
Let's be honest. you have 364 days of being a real cunt leading up to this so go on and have a day off and be a good fucker instead.
Merry fuckin' chrimbo to everyone. Fuckers and cunts alike.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

..and now for something completely different.


Frock and cock promotions, run by CJ Monk of Tragic City Thieves, has been doing their damnedest to bring quality rock and roll to Glasgow for a while now.
With a recent foray into clubland things are definitely looking up.
Live acts, burlesque dancers, rock and roll debauchery and stylish mofos a go go.
If you want to keep up to date with events that are planned then jump along to http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/CJMonk.FrockandCock and check it out.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Ginger (Wildheart) & Friends/Baby Chaos - Glasgow Garage - 21/12/10

My head feels like it has been squeezed by a vice, my stomach is on a spin cycle and my mouth tastes like the inside of a tramps pocket.
Something could be seriously wrong with me. Maybe I should call a doctor, or then again I could just get a taxi to accident and emergency, or................wait a minute. I remember now.
I was at the Ginger Wildheart gig last night.
This is just a mega hangover.
Its the normal day after the night before feeling when Ginger is involved.
I should have known better.
From the moment I had a sip of my first pint I think the brakes were off and that was me careening downhill towards this cranium crushing nightmare.
I could say never again, but there's nothing worse than lying to yourself.
I guess I have no one to blame but myself.
I suppose I should start at the beginning though.
Last night The Sluts of Trust were a no show for the gig.
Hurrah.
While I'm sure some people were disappointed I wasn't one of them as they do nothing for me.
Instead, the reformed for one night only, Baby Chaos slipped on stage with little fanfare and did what seemed like a full set.
Another hurrah.
It's all thrashing guitars, frenzied drumming and Chris leading the way in fine voice. They may all be a little older, but that's about the only difference that I can see.
Everything clicked into place and they performed like a well oiled machine while the crowd lapped it up. You could feel the love in the room.
Many years ago Metal Hammer said that they were “one of the most underrated bands on the face of the planet” and it's as true now as it was then. While some bands grow out of the music they played in their youth others, like Baby Chaos, manage to make theirs timeless.
Infectious melodic rock never actually goes out of fashion and if you do it well then you will always be relevant.
For some people the highlight of their set would have been Ginger joining them, but for me it was their run through of “love your self abuse” the title track from their second, and last, album. A song that I think should have been a single, and one that may very well have provided them with the hit that would have jettisoned them into the premier league of rock bands.
Another highlight was the addition of “Confessions of a teenage pervert” in the set, but both, while being singled out here, were just two songs in a show that was brimming with excellence.
I hope that the band themselves now have an appreciation of how much they are missed and maybe, just maybe, reconsider their getting back together for just one show, and instead decide to do some more gigs with the icing on the cake being a proper full on reformation that includes new material seeing the light of day.
Ginger Wildheart and Friends are the band that virtually everyone is there to see though and when they burst onto the stage the crowd roars their approval.
The sing-a-long-a-Ginger show had definitely rolled into town.
He's up there on stage beaming like the proverbial cheshire cat and basking in the adulation that is on show and there's a great connection being forged between him, his band, and the crowd.
While he is undoubtedly the ringmaster the show is at times much more a communal affair and seems less like a gig and more like a full on drunken party.
Within ten minutes plastic pint glasses are flying, people are bouncing about, and a woman to my right repeatedly slurs “sing a fuckin' song” the very second the band finish one and before they can start the next. She also does it every single time that Ginger converses with the crowd.
She's enjoying herself, but it's debatable how many people in earshot of her are.
Give her ten years and she will be the drunken auntie at the family wedding hitting on the best man and probably ending the night by sitting in a pool of her own pish and sobbing about how no one likes her.
Thankfully Ginger and friends are more than a match when it comes to being a distraction though, and while she is a royal pain in the arse she isn't up to ruining the night.
By the time the band are ploughing through “my baby is a headfuck” I've managed to tune her out and I think everyone in the Garage would agree with me that this was the place to be on a cold Monday night in Glasgow.
It's pretty much a full on and in your face show.
Even when they get a young guy to join them on stage to play along it's done at breakneck speed, and it really has to be said that he more than keeps up, and even muscles his way in to do some backing vocals to.
Ballsy move young man.

The addition to the line up is a nice touch, and one that makes the Green Day pantomime of getting kids out of the crowd to play look staged and pathetically theatrical.
By the time the last strains of “caffeine bomb” are rung out I think I might of sweated all the alcohol out of my system and sung myself hoarse while doing so.
In fact “Suckerpunch” should have finished me off, but I managed to key into a second wind and keep roaring through “I wanna go where the people go” along with everyone else before Ginger finally gave us all a slight reprieve to catch our breaths while he did whatever he does backstage prior to coming back on for an encore.
It's not long however before he is back on stage and conducting the crowd through a rendition of “Geordie in Wonderland”. Wonderful stuff indeed and one of those moments where you have to tell people that they had to be there to really get it.
When the rest of the band return to join the lone Ginger we were then treated to a Ramones-esque mach speed blast of “just in lust, sonic shake, sick of drugs” and finally the show closer “29 x the pain.”
It was still early, but as the venue turns into some kind of student disco/rave type thing everyone was ushered to the door as soon as the lights came up.
Not many of us really wanted the night to end though. So on leaving the venue virtually everyone relocated to the bars on the opposite side of the street.
We found ourselves in “Nice and Sleazy” and in hindsight this was the beginning of my downfall.
Jagerbombs began to appear, and disappear as fast, and when they ran out of Red Bull then Bobby, of Baby Chaos, and myself started in on straight shots and I chased mine with pints of lager.
Crap was talked, drink was drunk, manly hugs were exchanged, a fella called Tam and myself were asked to leave the downstairs venue for talking too loudly while someone played a violin by candlelight, more drink was drunk, CJ of Tragic City Thieves and Billy Liar of...........well Billy Liar were threatened with ejection - not as much fun as ejaculation - for being too tall and blocking peoples view of the person playing the violin, and then even more drink was drunk.It was no surprise when Ginger and his friends arrived and guess what?
That's right.
Everyone kept drinking.
Sailors on shore leave would have had trouble keeping up. In fact by the very end of the evening I was having a bit of trouble simply keeping upright, never mind keeping up.
Then yesterday became today and that's where this review started.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Pretty Little Suicide – S/T

The glam scene is a much maligned one.
Or to be more accurate the eighties and nineties mainstream glam scene is much maligned, and in my opinion deservedly so as it tainted everything that would follow.
Once the major labels stepped in, to absorb and then dilute it for the masses, to make a buck it was all pretty much over for me.
Everyone who was anyone grew their hair out and reached for the hairspray and eyeliner.
The guys with the punkier attitudes were squeezed out by their hair metal brethren and that as they say was that.
Who can forget the fat bloated Ozzy Osbourne of the time. He looked like an over the hill tranny with one foot in the grave and the term glam - image wise or music wise - really couldn't be tagged onto him.
He was simply playing heavy rock with an updated look that his label considered would allow him to extend his career into hearts of the next generation of metalheads.
That they were right isn't really the point.
All that carry on really fucked up what the trailblazers of the scene had set in motion. Isn't that always the way though?
The public view of what glam rock was, as promoted by mtv and such, really had nothing to do with the darker, wilder and more debauched foundations it rested on.
On saying all of that I don't really have a problem with hair metal, AOR or whatever you want to claim many of these bands were.
It's just that I would take issue with them being considered glam rockers. They are simply rockers and I fail to see where the overlap into what I consider sleazy glam rock is.
That's my own take on it and I don't have a problem with others disagreeing as opinions are like assholes. We all have them and they're full of shit.
That was then though, and this in now, and in recent years we seem to be seeing the hair metal bands slipping into the shadows and the punkier glam rock terrorists slipping out of them to reclaim what is rightfully theirs.
So where does that leave “Pretty Little Suicide” then? Well pretty much in no man's land trying to aim for something a bit harder and darker while keeping their eye on not alienating the hard rock fans.
On listening to their five track album I'm swinging from really liking some tracks to wondering what it is they really want to be, and then thinking that they really need to commit to either one sort of sound or another. That they have the talent to make the choice isn't something that can be disputed, but some soul searching seems to be needed and an identity settled on.
To my ears they are moving in the right direction, but just need to throw their hearts and souls into it
The opening tune “Working Man's Blues” has a swaggering roll to it that really pulls you in and hints at something rather special. Then they cement their rock and roll credentials with “Hollywood Moonlight” before faltering a bit with KMAG that leans too far into the heavy rock sound and eases away from the blue collar fuck you attitudes that were on display on the opening tracks.
That's not to say that it's a bad track. The guitar soloing and vocals are spot on and any light criticism I'm putting out there could well be something I will regret.
Maybe it just feels like too much of a homage to Motley Crue and GnR in places without ever hitting as hard.
Thankfully “Cope” sees them getting back behind the wheel and setting course for the gutter. While album closer “Pretty Little Suicide” once more slips and slides into heavy AOR territory and adds to my feeling that they need to tighten things up a bit. The guitar solos in this are well to the fore and instead of adding something to the song serves as a distraction.
Sometimes less is more and I would have preferred the same song to be played with a bit more aggression and belligerence.
There is more good about this band than bad though and I'll be keeping an eye out for their next studio release and keeping my fingers crossed that they can key into their internal bad boy and let him out a bit more.
Maybe they should have a week immersed in listening to the Ramones, Dead Boys, NY Dolls, Clash and Sex Pistols to see how that works for them.
http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/PrettyLittleSuicide

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Paul Weller - SECC - 4/12/10 (Glasgow)

The Modfather is a strange moniker to bestow on Paul Weller. Does it even really fit?
I ask because after discussing Weller's career with Kel and Kenny (Days Of Our Youth blog) I see this father of mod title being something that's at odds to the reality.
We could start off by claiming he wasn't even part of the mod scene, but more so someone who instead ushered in a post mod sub culture, but then again apart from the suits and the scooters The Jam were, and always will be, a punk band at heart.
The mod tag was always hanging on a loose peg wasn't it?
Then there was even less modish antics musically with his cappuccino kid years with The Style Council.
His leaning towards some jazzy arrangements, French student gap year attire and a penchant for wearing a sweater draped over his shoulders didn't really do much to cement in a modfather reputation in my opinion, but maybe it did for some.
By the time he slipped into his solo career there was more of a late sixties lets party with the Small Faces vibe going on and I can see how the mod thing could hang onto that, but maybe my memory is playing tricks with me as I think he already had the tag of modfather at that time.
So how the hell did Weller become this mod king? The artists that anyone with a parka would pay homage to?
Answers on a postcard please.
Anyway regardless of whatever anyone wants to call the fella I do have to say that last nights gig in the cavernous and soulless SECC was pretty impressive.
He seems to have four distinct careers. His time leading The Jam, his Style Council years, his solo career and now, while still just going under the name Paul Weller, a new psych rock direction.
This must make it a bit difficult to have a thread of appeal and while some people would say rubbish and point to the amount of people who profess to be his fans, I would argue that many of them are fans of certain distinct periods.
Proof of this is in how the crowd flows in and out of the auditorium depending on what part of his career he is focussing on.
What floats some peoples boats certainly doesn't do the same for everyone.
For myself I'm a Jam fan and love the direction of the new album. So I was more than covered as he was keen to promote the new stuff on this tour, and apparently no longer has an issue with embracing his Jam period.
The set itself is peppered with the old and new and a simple nod is given to what has come in between.
You could say he was playing everything that book ends his career I suppose.
Christ. He even did a run through of Art School, a real blast from the past that featured on In the City. I'm not sure that many people would have expected that.
Glaringly obvious by the lack of attention was the Style Council period. If that was the part of his career that someone most identified with then I suspect they would have been very disappointed as I don't recall him playing one song from that era.
I could however be wrong on that score and he might have slipped one in unnoticed like an opportunist burglar with a shot of Rohypnol, but I'm sure someone will correct me given half a chance.
Even what I would call his Wild Wood era, while visited, wasn't the focus of the show either.
So as I said earlier.
Fine by me.
If I could have picked the set list then it would have probably featured much of what he played.
All in we had a good time and while I had went with the intention of enjoying a freebie I ended up pretty much having to say that there is still life in the old dog yet.
Would I go and see him again is the question though.
The answer would be if it was for free, then of course. If it was say twenty to twenty five quid I would consider it, but anything above that then sorry.
While good, I'm getting to the point that I have to question how much is too much to ask for a ticket.

The Ramonas - ABC2 - 18/12/10 (Glasgow)

It's the Battle of the tribute bands tonight in Glasgow's ABC.
In the much larger ABC1 some guys are channelling Jim Morrison and the music of the Doors to a fairly large crowd while I'm tucked away in the smaller ABC2 to see The Ramonas - an all girl Ramones tribute act - doing their gabba gabba hey thang.
The road that led me to this night started about six months ago when I bought a Batusis ticket and scurried off home all a tremble about seeing Cheetah Chrome and Sylvain Sylvain in a small club.
My excitement was rather short lived though. as the news of the tour needing to be rescheduled, and then ultimately cancelled, came soon after.
So ticket in hand I returned to the venue for a refund, but instead found myself having to exchange it for another show.
I looked down the list of indie bands, disco divas, hardcore metal bands and virtually wept.
The Ramonas were the only band there that came close to tickling my fancy.
I'm not even overly keen on tribute bands as a rule, but I will occasionally make an exception if they are bringing something different to the mix, or the band they are emulating are all dead and I quite fancy hearing their music getting a live outing.
So I guess with The Ramonas I was already half way there and I reluctantly took a ticket for them in exchange for my Batusis one.
I've seen them before when Claire of AntiProduct, now Marky Ramones Blitzkrieg, fronted them. So I sort of knew what I was in for, but there is no escaping the fact that I had swapped a ticket for a show featuring a couple of living legends of punk for a band singing the songs of legends.
At the time it smacked of a “when life throws you lemons sometimes you end up with the juice rubbed into your eye” scenario.
Bit crap, Huh?
Unusually for me I'm giving the support bands a body-swerve tonight.
I'd given as many of them as I could a listen on myspace prior to the show, and to say I was underwhelmed would be an exaggeration. Some of them aspire to levels of shite but are a fair bit off achieving it.
Recently it would seem that the support bands at the ABC2 appear to have more to do with swelling the crowd by dint of bringing their mates, rather than any attempt to provide entertainment that would broadly appeal those who are there to see the top of the bill act.
Basically the hanging around bored to tears while paying over the odds for a pint to dull the pain just didn't rock my boat. So instead we went for something to eat across the road and tried to time it so that we managed to catch the Ramonas.
Unfortunately we misjudged the time and arrived as “Audio Driver” took to the stage.
Now think about that a minute. “Audio Driver”. Type that into a google search and where do you think the band will get a mention?
Probably around about the 1615245367237287 page of info on audio drivers for pcs.
It's the equivalent of hiding a needle in a pile of needles in a needle factory.
They weren't actually that bad musically and the front man can sing, but they had zero stage presence, and doing a cover of Southpark's “Chocolate Salty Balls” is really something that should be kept for a practice jam or an encore for a laugh. and not squeezed in mid-set.
There was more wrong with them than right and the annoying thing is it was all very basic stuff that can be fixed. There's a good band in there bursting to get out, but I'm not sure if they have the imagination to set the band free.
Thankfully the set is short and The Ramonas are more than up to the task of making us forget what has preceded them.

Starting with R.A.M.O.N.E.S. they hit the ground running and didn't let up over the course of twenty six Ramones classics.
It's not an exact replication of the Ramones live as the guitar playing is a bit more shaded than Johnny's ever was. More power thrashing Johnny with the added bonus of some Daniel Rey flourishes.
As a bit of a hardcore fan of the Ramones I can honestly say that these girls do their heroes justice.
The real deal aren't about now so this is the closest that anyone is going to get, and you will have to take my word for that.
It's all about the attitude and these girls have it in spades. When they play there's no messing about, and with a 1,2,3,4, they are as relentlessly bludgeoning as the Ramones were.
There's nothing thrown in from leftfield from them. No surprises. No taking of a modern pop song to sing in the style of “the brudders” or even the inclusion of a track that would be unfamiliar to anyone who only has a best of collection.
Instead it's a run through of all the big well known tracks that never disappoint.
Not bad at all.
I guess that now in the cold light of day and with the benefit of hindsight I'm glad I went. Not as happy as I would have been if it had been the Batusis, but happy enough none the less.
I mean, c'mon. There's always time for the Ramones, even if its the Ramones by the Ramonas.

Friday, 17 December 2010

RIP myspace

Bit of a clear out from myspace as it has went shit and looks like it is following the Dodo into extinction.
Loads of stuff to read if anyone can be bothered.

The Cute Lepers - Smart Accessories
They’re back, and firing on all cylinders.
Tired old clichés aside they are indeed back and this album is a real one hundred percent punk rock love affair. Stepping straight out of the late seventies into the modern world with a cocksure swagger the Cute Lepers have got it all.
This is the sound of all our favourite punk bands rolled into one. If you melted down all the classic punk albums and repressed them into a bright and shiny new platter then the finished product would sound like this.
Well that’s obviously a lie because if you really did melt down all your albums and attempted to repress them then I suspect you’d just be left with a cooker resembling an oil slick and a headache from toxic fumes.
Back to the album though. The Cute Lepers really have managed to capture something, a certain essence of a certain time, that most bands fall short of creating. Often enough all the right ingredients are there, but the end product fails to live up to expectations, but not this time.
If this had surfaced at the beginning of 2009 then I suspect that it would have been firmly ensconced in most punk fans top ten albums of the year.
These guys are straddling decades effortlessly. Some people might claim they are doing nothing new, but there’s a freshness there that I haven’t heard for a long time.
If for some reason or another you haven’t bought an album in years then you should make this the first one and instead of just dipping your toe into what’s out there just dive right in at the deep end with the Cute Lepers.
www.myspace.com/thecutelepers

Vic Ruggiero - Songs for clandestine lovers
For those who don’t know who Vic Ruggiero is then it is probably best to introduce him as the guy who plays keyboards on all of Rancids best tracks. He’s a bit of a jack of all trades popping up here there and everywhere, but it isn’t hard to hear why he is in such demand to add flourishes to other peoples material because the guy simply oozes class.
Mainly he fronts his own band The Slackers though. One of the very best ska bands to grace this planet. If you doubt me then check them out as I know I’ll never be accused of giving anyone a bum steer on the matter.
His solo work is however a whole different story.
On these releases he can more often than not be found stripping everything down and sticking to acoustic guitars, harmonicas and some percussion to quite stunning effect. Whether it’s an original song or a much loved classic that he is paying homage to he always manages to bring something extra to it. Listen to his take on the Clash track ‘Rudie can’t fail’ on this album and you will catch my drift.
For some strange reason this album only has a Japanese release, but it’s well worth tracking down if you are a fan of his, or even if you are wanting to check him out. This is proof that sometimes laid back music can still have an edge.
http://www.vicruggiero.com

The Flametrick Subs - In the lap of Lux
The first time I heard the Flametrick Subs was in a roundabout way. A mate told me that there was a rockabilly band I might like as firstly they would appeal to me on a musical level and secondly because the fella playing slap bass had one hand and he thought that would tickle my sense of the perversely absurd.
He was right. I loved them from day one.
It’s a long distance love affair though as these guys are from deep in the heart of Texas and…….well I’m not.
Never mind though as every couple of years something by them usually manages to make it over here to keep my interest in them piqued and once again I’ve not been disappointed.
I did harbour some misgivings when I initially seen that the album was made up of Cramps covers to honour the passing of Lux Interior, but the when I gave it a blast it occurred to me that in some ways this is the perfect Flametrick Subs album.
For years they have skirted around the Cramps sound and weaved it in and out of their own material so it’s no surprise that when then go for the fan boy covers that they do it with aplomb and it works.
I normally prefer that when a band does covers that they bring something new to it, but this could be described as the exception that proves the rule.
In not messing with the originals they have managed to grab a piece if the magic of the Cramps and the whole concept comes across as an honourable musical eulogy to Lux.
www.myspace.com/flametricksubs

Strawberry Blondes - Fight Back

Discounted as Rancid wannabes as often as they are lauded as the saviours of UK punk rock the Strawberry Blondes appear to split opinion right down the middle.
With ‘Fight Back’, a two fisted punk rock album if ever there was one, they will be hoping to tip the balance more in their favour. Unfortunately it’s going to prove to be a little harder than they might have expected.
Not that this is a bad album. In fact there isn’t a bad song on it. It could quite possibly be the most energetic, in yer face and passionate outing I’ve heard from a home-grown band this year.
There isn’t one song I would skip on this.
So why don’t I embrace it and shout its praises from the rooftops?
Well it’s because they’re still using far too much of the Rancid template. They’re at their best when they give this a light touch and beef it up with their UK street punk influences.
On certain songs they show that they can step out from the big boys shadow and go toe to toe with them on their own terms, but it’s not often enough so that you could say that they have conquered their influences.
Maybe I’m being a bit hard though. There is huge progression from their last outing and with the next I reckon the people championing them can say ‘I told you so’ with conviction.
I’ll have to freely admit that I’ve probably raised the bar on my expectations too high, and although the guys have matched it they didn’t surpass it as I wanted them to.
www.myspace.com/strawberryblondes

Avondale45 - Viva La Revolution

Who needs to reinvent the wheel? No one. That’s who. The wheel does the job it was invented for. The bloody thing works so there’s no need to fanny about with it.
Same goes for Avondale45. There is a style of punk rock that’s melodic and doesn’t take itself too seriously and it works. So to fuck about with it makes no sense and these guys know it.
Remember when Snuff were everyone favourite band and they could do no wrong. Remember when Boss Tuneage were one of the best labels kicking about.
If you don’t then you missed out, but Avondale45 are going to do their damnedest to remind you. Punkpoparamalamadingdong indeed. Slip it on and within a few minutes your toes are tapping and with a mile wide smile you’re back in dank subterranean clubs having the time of your life on cheap alcohol and illicit drugs.
(Disclaimer - Maybe it was just me with the drink and drugs, but nothing too heavy like.)
www.myspace.com/avondale45

Bring Back Her Head - Tied up tight ep

The Ipswich band Violent Playground return to the fray with a new name and another young lady to front them.
Previously the only thing I’d heard from them was a track on the Grand Theft Ippo CD, and while I remember enjoying it there wasn’t enough to get my teeth into at the time and they slipped from my memory.
Now Bring Back Her Head have reintroduced themselves and you could be forgiven in thinking same band different shoes, but in front woman Jen they have a capable singer and the range appears to have opened up a fair bit from what I dimly recall.
It could be said that they are peddling a refreshing angle on a recognizable path, but while there is a degree of familiarity there is still a few little surprises to be found by the listener.
Lazy commentators will tag them with the indie label, but in reality they’re a rock band with a fresh bag of tricks that enables them to shade their songs in whatever manner they so wish.
Worth keeping an eye on.
www.myspace.com/bringbackherhead

The Snipes - Promo CD

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When people talk about glam rock they usually think of Bowie, Bolan and their ilk. The first wave of the scene, but what really registered in the UK was the chart hits from bands like Slade. The harder edged glam tinged rockers for the bootboys.
Those bands provided songs that could feature on top of the pops but could be transferred over to the terraces without breaking their stride or raising an eyebrow. Truly egalitarian songs with mass appeal.
Later on when the scene started to falter other bands would pick up the baton and run with it, pub rockers with an ear for a melody who were just that bit too late to the party.
Some, like Cock Sparrer, would be championed by the blossoming Oi movement, but if you listen back to their early material they didn’t really fit in completely with the stereotypical Oi bands that were starting to make their mark. They existed in the no mans land between the end of one scene and the beginning of another.
Now with Oi being firmly re-branded as street punk it’s opening the scene up a bit and bands can congregate under the banner while avoiding the strict parameters of the past. There’s now room for bands to stretch and break out from the simple shouty, shouty, oi, oi, oi dead end.
The Snipes are one of those bands. A punk rock super-group with a firm grounding in the past, but with an eye on the future. A behemoth of a band straddling multiple scenes and scoring high wherever you want to pigeonhole them.
On their debut they’ve cobbled together twelve tracks that blend glam, oi and punk rock together to make an impressive noise that will get the sap rising in old and new punks alike.
In any scene there are bands that should float to the top and The Snipes are one of them.
There’s a rough and ready aspect to the recording quality, but that is no doubt down to time and financial restraints in the studio. If this is just the beginning then I have no doubt that in the future its just going to get better.

AC/DC - Hampden

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I was lucky enough to be at Hampden Stadium in Glasgow last night to witness AC/DC on the last night of their hugely successful Black Ice tour. The tour that’s rumoured to be the last that they will do.
If this is the case then I’m struggling to wrap my head around it.
Did I just see the last show that AC/DC will ever do?
What would the world be like without AC/DC in it? Whether you are a fan or not it’s still difficult to imagine that. They’re the last of a dying breed. The last of the great balls to the wall rock behemoths.
In the cold light of day I’m struggling to think of another rock band of their stature in the world today.
It’s just hit me why. It’s simply because there aren’t any.
No one does it like AC/DC.
Of course there are big rock bands, but none of them come close to what these guys do.
Is there really another band of their ilk that could tour country after country playing to sold out stadiums that hold anything upwards of 50,000 fans nightly?
I don’t think so.
So what is the attraction?
Why do the band hold such sway over so many people from all walks of life.
I guess the answer is you had to be there.
I’m not even sure myself what I was expecting yesterday, but when I arrived in Glasgow it seemed that every third person was wearing an AC/DC t-shirt. The band had quite literally taken over the city.
You could hear them playing from shops as you wandered by. People were walking about with little red devil horns on and I lost count of kids dressed in the classic Angus Young schoolboy outfit.
It was like an alternative reality where AC/DC are the leaders of a religion and people are encouraged to publicly worship them.
I suppose that could sound sinister, but with the sun out and the inoffensively joyous way that the fans conducted themselves it really just engendered a wonderful carnival atmosphere.
I was hours away from seeing the band and the buzz was already well in evidence.
Catching the train from Glasgow Central to Mount Florida was an experience in itself.
A section of the train station was actually sectioned off with barriers for the AC/DC crowd. A line snaked all the way out with literally hundreds of fans arriving every minute.
Inside the train itself it was wall to wall fans and the heat was terrific. In any other circumstances, like a football match, it would have been a powder keg waiting for the spark to set it off, but there was no negativity in that train at all. Instead it was bonhomie* all the way.
Outside Hampden itself it was a reflection Glasgow’s city centre, but multiplied by ten.
If aliens landed then they would be forgiven for thinking that a take me to your leader request would have resulted in a meeting with a 53 year old man dressed as a schoolboy.
None of this should make any sense at all, but once you are in the stadium and the Rock and Roll train footage starts on the large screens and the excitements mounts resistance is futile and it’s best to just let yourself get swept away on a wave of collective euphoria.
When Angus Young resplendent in crushed velvet shorts and blazer puts a foot on the stage the place erupts and if there was a roof it would have been jettisoned from the venue.
There is no let up from that moment on.
This is the third time I’ve seen Brian Johnson lead AC/DC into the fray and it was by far the best.
I’ve been critical in the past and always considered him more of a shouter than a singer, but not tonight.
His throaty bluesy voice was powerful and even soulful in places. It was a faultless performance that would effortlessly silence his detractors if they had been there to see it.
The rest of the band are like a machine. They always have been, but there is something solid and reliable in what they do. Malcolm, Phil and Cliff are the engine that drives AC/DC and while it would be easy to gloss over their contribution it has to be said that AC/DC wouldn’t be the band they are without them.
The night was however always going to be Angus Young’s.
He commands the audiences attention. He struts, he skips, he gurns and sweats buckets for the crowd. He literally gives it his all. Nothing is held back and maybe this is where the magic lies.
How can an audience not respond when a person gives them their heart and soul?
It’s inconceivable how he can do this night after night. It verges on suicidal. His body is being punished and it is all for us.
Remember that this guy is 53. Fuck Iggy Pop. Bending over backwards and kicking your legs out just doesn’t cut it anymore. Get in the ring with Angus and he will run rings round you. He will wear you out. He’s the roadrunner while we are the Coyote stooges.
You would expect that there would be something ludicrous about his antics, but there’s not. There isn’t even a hint of it. He knows it’s a joke. We know it’s a joke, but the serious side is it looks like he will willingly drop dead on the stage to give us what we want.
By the time they steamrolled into my favourite track ‘The Jack’ I was transported back to when going to see bands made me ill with excitement. I still love going, but it is rare that I can touch with that younger self. Yet here I was, heart in mouth, roaring the words and pumping my fist in the air.
There isn’t even a highlight I could point to as it was all a highlight.
The band were immense. Rock colossi honouring us with their presence. The stage show was as over the top as you would expect. For those about to Rock had the cannons, Hells bells had the bell with Brian Johnson swinging from it., Rosie had……….well a huge inflatable tart. What would you expect? and the CGI footage that would put a smile on a bells palsy victim.
Even the fireworks were perfect. Maybe the Olympic committee could hire the AC/DC team to do the opening ceremony in London.
Last night I was thinking that this must be up there in my top ten gigs of all time, but this morning I’m thinking it could be right up there at the top.
I’ll have to wait till I’ve come down a bit and take into consideration that I’m writing this in the afterglow.
By Christ that was a bloody fantastic gig.


* and that’s the only Bon I’ll mention.

Elliot Brown and the Candy Caps

I don’t know how I first got to hear of Elliot Brown and the Candy Caps.
It could have been a friend forwarding a link on myspace, or maybe Elliot Brown was trawling for people.
You know how that goes. You log on and there are twenty-seven friends requests from bands who consider that you may just be their latest uber-fan in waiting. I’m not a trekkie - no honest I’m not - but all these requests remind me of the Borg sweeping in to assimilate people. One of us. One of us. Gooble gabble.
They want to absorb you onto their myspace page as a simple digit in the ever rising list of friends they have. You mean nothing more than that. You become one of the collective whole. Scary stuff. Especially when you give them a listen……..and I do.
I must reject about 95% of requests I get from bands. Maybe more.
It’s only every once in a while an addition is considered and Elliot Brown was one of those exceptions.
I started off listening to him (there is no Candy Caps) and thinking ‘yeah. That’s pretty good’ then after a reassessment I edged towards ‘that‘s some damn good stuff‘ before settling on ‘he’s a bloody unsung hero.’
Once I reached this point I really had to ask myself why I appeared to be the only person out of everyone I knew that had heard of him.
The answer is an obvious one.
He’s from New Zealand.
Yeah. I know. Sheep, lord of the rings, sheep, flight of the conchords, sheep and sheep.
That’s NZ isn’t it?
Well maybe it is and maybe it isn’t. No matter. The list really isn’t that accurate anymore anyway as it doesn’t have Elliot Brown on it.
(Remember though, for every extra jewel in New Zealand’ crown you highlight you must add in a sheep or two to balance it out.
So New Zealand is now sheep, lord of the rings, sheep, flight of the conchords, sheep, Elliot Brown, sheep and sheep.)
Anyway. What am I rambling on about Elliot Brown for? Well to answer myself it’s because he is so good that you should check his myspace page out.
I’m not going to give any sort of description as that just allows preconceived ideas to get in the way. Just go here.
www.myspace.com/elijahbrownmusic
or here
www.myspace.com/elliotulyssesbrown
And have a listen.
Then get in touch and buy the album. Elliot is selling it for the bargain price of whatever you can afford. I’d urge people not to be an arse though and cover the postage and give another couple of quid, dollars, yen, euros marks or whatever as the guy does have to eat.
Support independent artists folks

Ginger Wildheart - Free Download

Ginger Wildheart has been called many things over the years.
Most of them post watershed terms of affection that sailors on shore leave would be familiar with.
Another thing he has been called is prolific.
The proof is there in his back catalogue. Apart from his material with The Wildhearts and his solo releases he has played a key roll in Super$hit 666, Clam Abuse, Silver Ginger 5, Brides of Destruction and let's not not forget Ginger and the Sonic Circus.
His itchy feet has also seen him playing with everyone from The Throbs to The Scorchers and now dueling guitars with Steve Conte in the glam punk super group that is The Michael Monroe Band.
Generous is now another descriptive term that we can add to.
Generous because when he was asked to select fourteen tracks for a retrospective release of solo material he came up with twenty four and decided that ten of them could be made available for free as a companion piece to “10”.
Imaginately titled “10 (Two)” it is available to download here
http://gingerwildheart.bandcamp.com/album/10-two

The tracks are :
Can’t Drink You Pretty
10 Flaws Down
Drunken Lord Of Everything
Holiday
The Monkey Zoo
This Bed Is On Fire
Inside Out
Why Can’t You Just Be Normal All The Time
(Whatever Happened To) Rock ‘n’ Roll Girls
GTT

Now as it is as rare as hens teeth to get something for nothing I think it is only right that at the very least those grabbing “10 (two)” could maybe shell out the cash and buy “10”, or if not, then turn up at one of his dates on the current UK tour and say thank you personally by raising the roof.




December
18th - Corporation, Sheffield
19th - Moho Live, Manchester
20th - Garage, Glasgow
21st - Newcastle, Legends
22nd - Wolverhampton, Wulfrun Hall
23rd - Southampton, Talking Heads
There's a London date, but you are shit outta luck if you want to go to that as it's sold out.

There is also a review of "10" in the rather excellent soundcheck Magazine.
Well worth a perusal.
http://www.soundcheck-magazine.net/

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Gig going

I will have attended over 52 gigs as the year closes, more than I have ever attended in any previous year, and a few times people have asked me how I can afford it.
I get the impression that what they are really saying is "How the fuck can you have that sort of social life when I can't?"
Well here's how I do it.
1) I don't smoke and never have. So when someone is paying virtually £5 for a packet of twenty that will last them a day or two they should maybe consider that this is how much I pay to see say four bands on a bill in a club.
2) I barely drink now. I don't buy a box of twelve cans of lager as part of the weekly shopping and have a couple every night like so many other people do.
Now I'm not judging. If that's what floats your boat then fine. Fire into it.
Sometimes I will buy a bottle of wine to knock back on the way to a gig and only buy a pint or two when I'm at it. I'm doing everything on the cheap.
The thing is I just drink socially now, and even then it is rare for me to get pissed. I've got a tight lid on it, except for the times I don't :)
I'm prioritizing what I do and then budgeting accordingly.
A couple of boxes of cans/bottles is the cost of a ticket to a well known band in a major venue. Think about it.
3) Never pay a booking fee when you don't have to. That's another tip
Why anyone wants to add another fiver, or more, for a ticket when they don't have to is beyond me.
Also see if the supports are offering tickets. The forthcoming Glen Matlock gig is a tenner, maybe more on the door on the night, but Gerry of Fire Exit has some at six or seven quid if you are fast.
4) Just generally think about what you are spending. Are you paying a tenner for a book you could get from the library? Are you buying a jacket at £50 that you want, but don't need?
Now once again I'm not judging. If that's what you want to do then I do not have one single problem with it.......except when you piss and moan about not being able to afford to go out.
5) Another thing is that I am very lucky that due to writing some bits and bobs for people I can occassionally be put on a guest list. Personally I never ask and wait until I'm offered, but others I know simply will not go to anything unless they aren't paying.
So there you go. If you want it you have to make it happen. Cut the cloth accordingly and do what makes you happy.

CD/EX

Musical differences are a bitch. There are always going to be frictions at play within a band regarding the direction the music is going, and sometimes that friction is a good thing, but when the balance tips too much one way or the other, then more often than not it can lead to the band fracturing and losing members.
It's not a new story, it's as old as time itself, and more often than not it gets filed away in the “shit happens” box.
This was the situation with Glasgow's great white rock hopes “The Elvis Suicide.”
In a very short space of time they went from having four members to one.
The last man standing was the founding member, a Chris Devotion.
It wasn't the final nail in the coffin though, as very quickly Chris managed to fill the vacant slots and get back on stage, but something was lost in the process.
From the outside looking in it appeared that the band were in a period of flux and the ongoing momentum had been derailed to a certain extent.
It's unsurprising though.
Replacing one member can be difficult enough, but finding three people to do so at short notice and then getting them to promote a mini album live that they had no input in was always going to be a virtually impossible task.
It just seemed to be that bridging the gap between the past and the future looked to be too problematic, maybe too problematic
So in a brave move Chris just scrapped it all to go back to square one with a new name and a new approach.
Chris Devotion and The Expectations were born.
Or CD/EX if you want to keep it short.
It's certainly been a while, but Chris and his band are back.
I was very lucky to get a wee sneak preview of their forthcoming début single that will be released on Armellodie Records and it has to be said that it has been worth the wait.
The leading track “I need your touch” is a prime slice of garage rifferama. The sort of thing that Jack White used to dip his toe in. The sound of Detroit garage, but with a twist by dint of being whipped into shape by a band who have never stepped foot in the motor city. The b-side of the vinyl single “Pinhole Suit” is another garage stomper. A tale of a dirty dog who can't change his seed sowing ways.
Released Feb 2011 I expect it to garner a shitload of positive reviews.
However if you want to go for the CD release then you will get a couple more tracks by the name of “Come so far” and “Dead Scene.”
Both take the foot off the pedal a bit and provide some contrast to the tracks featured on the vinyl release and show that CD/EX aren't simply a band who would struggle to get out of the garage.
“Come so far” has the feel of late seventies melodic punk rock that is slipping into the post punk sound. There's a hint of Buzzcocks in there somewhere.
Meanwhile “Dead Scene” fantastically grinds proceedings to an end, all chugging rock par excellence.
While others would steer clear from covering kiddy fiddler Gary Glitter I don't think I would hold it against Chris if he decided to break into “It's good to be back. It's good to be back” because it surely is.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Steve Conte & The Crazy Truth - Classic Grande - 13/12/10 (Glasgow)

I've seen Steve Conte a few times over the years playing with the New York Dolls, and then again more recently with the Michael Monroe band, and the one thing that every gig has had in common is that it has been glaringly obvious that Steve could never be considered a hired hand.
When he is within the ranks of a band you get a full on strutting rock god filled with the confidence, the talent and the swagger to take a performance to a whole new level.
To paraphrase Dirty Dancing “No one puts Steve in the corner” and what I mean by that is his star shines as bright as the brightest.
No one has the ability to place him in a position of playing second fiddle. Steve takes command of every stage he sets foot on, and that's a fact.
It's like a rock and roll truism that can be carved in stone. Steve Conte + Guitar + Stage = Good Times.
So with this in mind I wasn't going to miss out on seeing him fronting his “Crazy Truth”.
A band whose album has barely left my stereo since I picked up a copy the last time Steve rolled into town with the New York Dolls.
I just knew that seeing him take centre stage was going to be a full throttle affair, but I'm getting ahead of myself here
The night actually started with half a bottle of red wine consumed on the journey to Glasgow to ward off the cold and take the edge off.
We had the album pounding out on the stereo the whole way there and like the wine it was hitting the spot. The combination of the buzz from the wine and the rock and roll was ideally setting me up for the night to come.
Once we managed to get into the city centre and find a parking space there was just time for another quick drink and then it was time to meet Steve for an interview. So of course that's what we did.
The Crystal Palace, the bar we were in, is only a few yards away from the Classic Grande were Steve is playing so it is easy to make yourself available from there just in case the arranged times aren't running as smoothly as they should.
No worries tonight though, because at 6 on the dot we are in the venue watching The Melodramas running through an impressive soundcheck and chatting to Steve.
Steve himself is a nice guy, generous with his time and open to answering whatever is thrown at him.
He comes across as being pretty focussed and knows what he wants to. I got the impression that he has one eye on the present and the other on the future at all times.
I actually liked his straight talking style. Even when he does play with an answer he lets you know exactly what he means with an arched eye, a smile on his lips or a dismissive shrug.
Let's just say that he is a confident communicator and it would be difficult to misconstrue what he is saying.
Once the interview was finished we shuffled off to the Crystal Palace again to take advantage of their mucho cheapness alcohol offers.
By the time we did return to the venue Eddy and the T-Bolts were midway through their pop-punk, rock heavy set and I was a bit annoyed with myself for allowing the lure of a drink to distract me from catching them from start to finish.
They're one of the better bands treading the boards in Glasgow. I'd rank them up there in my own personal top five.
Very tight songs, a bit of humour and an excellent frontman. A band who really shouldn't be missed, even if I partially did do just that this time.
Next was perennial favourites of mine. The guys who have been rocking all of my 2010. The mighty “Tragic City Thieves”.
What more can I say about these guys that I haven't already. They are an eight legged sleaze machine and no one, that's right, no one, in Glasgow comes close to doing what they do.
There's a whole fistful of new songs in the set and over the next couple of months they are back in the studio to lay down their second album.
That will be two in less than a year.
This band are literally firing on all cylinders and laying the groundwork for a bigger and brighter future for themselves with blood, sweat and glitter.
All that is going to be required is for them to be in the right place at the right time and they will be jettisoned to the fore of the UK's rock scene.
Next up is The Melodramas. A band who are having a second run at the UK in support of Steve, and it is obvious within the first couple of minutes of them taking to the stage that they are a worthy addition to the bill.
All around me I was hearing who people thought they sounded like and no two people were saying the same. For me I thought they were like the Coral stealing some of the Cures bass lines and then reassembling the sound to have a faster and punkier edge to it.
The band as whole fit well together and give the impression of being well road tested. It's a solid and impressive outing for them and I'll definitely be buying their début when they finish it and if they come back to this neck of the woods I am in no doubt that I would venture out to see them again.
The night was always going to be Steve Conte and the Crazy Truth's though.
From the first slash at the guitar it was full on rock and roll.
Virtually the whole album gets a run through and sounds physically more aggressive.
Steve's guitar playing is fluid throughout. It's as if his instrument is an extension of him and the guys in the Crazy Truth are cemented into the groove right alongside him.
It really is electric.
I've seen plenty of guitar heroes over the years and a few of them can carry a tune, and likewise I've seen some singers who are pretty hot playing the guitar, but it's rare to get someone who isn't a jack of all trades but a master of them all and Steve Conte is one of that rare breed.
LA Woman is woven into a track seamlessly and if Jim Morrison could have been there then I bet he would have had a smile creasing his face.
At the end of the show Steve tells us that Ginger has been opening his eyes to some new bands and the Rezillos are one of them. It's his cue to then rattle through a cover of their cover of Fleetwood Mac's “Somebody is going to get their head kicked in tonight.”
For a Scottish crowd it is the ideal finisher to a set that was full of high points.
Thankfully it will not be long before Steve is back in Glasgow as the dates for the Michael Monroe tour have been announced, and if we are lucky then maybe some time in the future he will be back to once again show us what he can do in his own right.

APRIL 2011
The Michael Monroe Band.

4th – Brighton, Concorde 2
5th – Bristol, Academy 2
6th – Exeter, Phoenix
7th – Portsmouth, Wedgewood Rooms
8th – London, O2 Academy
9th – Leeds, T.J.’s
11th – Norwich, Waterfront
12th – Newcastle, Academy 2
13th – Sheffield, Corporation
14th – Manchester, Academy 3
15th – Glasgow, Garage
16th – Nottingham, Rock City
17th – Birmingham, HMV Institute

Steve Conte on Facebook
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Steve-Conte/342874415037

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Funny week

Similar to everyone else with kids the run up to x-mas has been a financial nightmare. Work has been an intellectual black hole as usual and the weather - while not as extreme as some would claim - has been a bit of a hassle.
Yet this week has jumped up and applied for the post of most bizarre of the year.
To say it's been a bit of a roller-coaster would be an understatement.
Monday morning I was up and battling the elements to get to Glasgow and score a wristband for my daughter to attend a meet and greet with her fave band JLS.
Mental as.
I stood in arctic condition from 7.30 am with loads of kids and cougars and actually managed to get one for her though.
So whose the Daddy?
Tuesday was taken up with meeting the four lads who shook the world circa 2010.
To be honest they were very nice and meeting them blew my daughter away.
Little things like this I find to be emotionally hard going.
It's been a terrible year with the kids losing their mother and other hassles that pale into insignificance next to that, but none the less can't be ignored and need dealt with.
So something like this that transported my daughter from the hurt for a single afternoon is something that I treasure, and although the guys in JLS don't know it I will always owe them one for taking the time out to chat to her and autograph a book and her hoodie.
All in all apart from that it has been a pretty much forgettable week though.
Work, sleep, work, pay bills, work, sleep, work, but then there was a glimmer of hope on Thursday night that the week could be snatched from the jaws of boredom when my brother called to ask if I wanted a couple of free Paul Weller tickets.
His mate in Inverness was holding out for the weather to clear a bit, but finally bit the bullet and accepted that a trip to Glasgow was out of the question due to the road conditions.
Obviously I accepted the offer, but to get them I would have to rely on him posting them registered mail on the Friday morning and that they would arrive on the Saturday to allow us to go to the gig.
If you knew my brother then you would collectively refuse to hold your breath and simultaneously cross your fingers as reliability is a foreign nation that he has rarely visited.
The other problem was that Royal Mail had withdrawn their next day guaranteed delivery service due to the weather conditions.
Now normally, and as others would attest, I've got shit luck.
In fact shit luck is the only luck I have.
So if I was to say to anyone that I was waiting on tickets being sent one day to arrive the next for a concert that night then the normal response would be that they would drop and roll on the floor laughing.
The chances of a favourable outcome would be considered slim to fuck all of it happening.
..................but they just arrived.
So tonight...weather condition permitting, Kel and me will be seeing Mr Weller.
You might think from my excitement that I'm a huge fan, but I'm not really.
However I do think that his latest album is the dogs bollocks and it's rare for me to get a freebie like this. So bring it on.
Then this morning we were offered a place to crash if we wanted to head down to Newcastle next May for the Evolution festival headlined by The Stooges.
Oh yes please.
That will do nicely kind sir.
Lets just say I could get used to this sort of thing.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Spear of Destiny - Ivory Blacks 27/11/10 (Glasgow)

Glasgow is busy tonight. Madness, Biffy Clyro, nomeansno, Saw Doctors and Frankie Boyle are all filling the larger and more well known venues, while every pub and club also appears to have something to offer.
For me there is only one attraction though, and that's Kirk Brandons Spear of Destiny who have slipped in a late show in Ivory Blacks to promote the new album and give us a run through of some classic tracks.
Unfortunately while Glasgow is busy Ivory Blacks is not.
Similar to the last Spear of Destiny show in the ABC2 attendance is rather uninspiring and it is something that is starting to piss me off because I know why it is happening.
It's all down to lack of local promotion. That's it in a nutshell.
Instead of putting some posters up and distributing flyers there seems to be a reliance on word of mouth amongst fans to pass on that the band are playing, and to be frank the SOD grapevine isn't working.
My fear is that if this lack of promotional work continues then an artist fronting a band that I admire, and enjoy watching play live, will think that there is little point in returning.
How crap will that be?
So before I move onto the actual review I'm going to paraphrase Kennedy and ask Kirk Brandon fans to think not what Kirk can do for them and instead what they can do for Kirk.
The next time he, or his band are up north, I want to see facebook, twitter and myspace ablaze with the news.
Don't be content with picking a ticket up for yourself, but instead ask some mates along for a night out.
Remind people how good Spear of Destiny are by posting up youtube videos online with a link to the date they are playing.
Just get involved because anyone who was at the Ivory Blacks show knows that he, and the band, deserve to be playing in front of larger and more enthusiastic crowds.
Right. Rant over and onto the gig.

New album “Omega Point” is being touted as a real return to form, but I would take issue with that as a return to form hints that a band had lost their mojo and that's not an accusation that could be levelled at Kirk Brandon and his Spear of Destiny.
Proof of this is prevalent throughout any live show that anyone is lucky to attend.
New and old material sit shoulder to shoulder in solidarity showing that they are a band who have never lost their form.
As the opening chords, keyboard flourishes and pounding drums confidently charge out of the starting gate Kirks voice soars and takes charge.
This is why over the years I keep coming back to see Kirk Brandon.
He doesn't do lacklustre gigs. He puts vein popping effort into every single show.
The man can raise the hair on the back of your neck with his powerhouse vocals and the current line up of SOD are the tightest band that I have ever seen playing with him. I was impressed last time they played, but even more so this time.
It's down to the balance.
While I stand there stage front I don't get a nudge towards the past, but instead find myself watching a band who don't do nostalgia, but instead weave old and new together and create a moment that is immersed in the present.
It's simply fantastic.
If I was offered the chance to see anyone else who was playing in Glasgow this night I would have politely told them no thanks.
By the time they are midway through Kalashnikov I'm blown away.
If I had my way then this gig would have been in the Barrowlands in front of a sold out crowd, but as it's not my call I guess I will just have to live with Kirk playing more intimate shows.
Last song of the set Young Men was a sublime effort in maintaining control on the edge of losing it, while for the encore they ran through a rousing Liberator that had a few bodies who should know better thrashing about a bit.
It was the perfecting ending to pretty much a perfect night.
If I was to be picky I could say that the set wasn't long enough, but to be honest Spear could play for a few hours solid and I would still say that.

I suppose it's here that I should practice what I was preaching earlier and tell everyone reading that Kirk will be back in February to do a solo acoustic show in Kilmarnock.
Tickets will be on sale in the next week or so. Here's a wee flyer for it if you want to punt it about this internet webby thing.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Thursday, 25 November 2010

The riot that wasn't a riot.

My heart swelled with pride yesterday when I watched the students march on Whitehall.
Why shouldn't it?
According to the coalition trolls who were frantically out in force across social networking sites - most mirroring the behaviour of the foul mouthed and less than intelligent guests of the Jeremy Kyle show that they loathe - I should be loudly condemning the violence, the disorder and the civil disobedience.
Without any sense of humour involved the very same trolls are happy to advocate the "cracking of student oiks heads" by the police though.
There is also a partially hypocritical statement from Camerons spokesman who appears to have a rather one sided view of any violence and intimidation displayed on the day.
Well I'm sorry, but I don't condemn their actions at all.
I will not condemn anyone for exercising their right to protest.
Especially when their reasons for doing so are altruistic.
One point the media, and those who support the coalition, are happy not to raise is that those young men and women who were out protesting are actually doing so for those who will follow them into further education.
It's not all about them.

They also don't want anyone to consider that this was simply the cause and effect reaction to the ideologically driven, and draconian, policies that their coalition are attempting to bully through parliament.
Without them there wouldn't be anyone protesting on the streets at all.

So while they wilfully point the finger at anyone who doesn't agree with them, they should maybe be taking a step back and considering what the real catalyst for this action was.
That they refuse to do so hints that they want nothing more than a deferential society.
One that is willing to accept the widening gap between those who have and those who have not, and guess what side of the fence they will be on?
Let us not lose sight of what is actually happening here though. This is not about a police van being vandalized*, a bus shelter being trashed or some windows being smashed.
This is people publicly opposing the dismantling of the welfare state, the moving of education out of reach of a whole segment of society, the draconian cuts to the public sector, the attack on the NHS, the tax avoidance of the wealthy and the bail outs of the banks (while the bankers continue business as usual) to name just the tip of an iceberg that is floating in public view.
History is littered with similar actions and they all have a common thread, and that thread is that any government who fails to listen to the people will regret stepping down that totalitarian path.
In fact above every door of every building that houses politicians they should carve the words “Without the support of the people we are nothing.”
It would be nice if they didn't need to be reminded of that, but are we in any doubt that they do?

We have had decades of acting like apathetic turkeys voting for x-mas and now due to this government relentlessly pushing us all into a corner, over what feels like a very long six month period, we have started to push back.
Make no mistake. This is the start and I applaud it.
We have still to see the disabled, the unemployed, the carers and more taking to the streets.
Unless this government start listening then their actions will do nothing more that swell the ranks of the dissenters, and there is no evidence that they will listen. So bring it on.
As it is Clegg and his Lib Dem cronies don't appear to be able to differentiate between a pledge and a promise. Say one thing and do another is their mantra it would seem. Yesterday he even stated for the record that regardless of the amount of protest and dissent that Cameron and himself would not be considering any changes to the tuition fees policies.
A rough translation could be “Say what you want because we don't care.”
Hopefully this attitude that they are displaying is starting to sink in with the general public and they will receive the reaction that they deserve.

*eye witness report from Whitehall.

Heiko Khoo – Police planted an old police van in Whitehall in the middle of 4000 demonstrators, we asked the police to remove it, they refused. Police only 20 yards from the van refused to protect it. They wanted it to be attacked. The 'attack' on the van was an excuse to kettle 4000 people for 8 hours, some 11 years old. We had no water or toilets for 5 hours.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Wedding Bell (ends)

Doff your cap and have a tug on your forelock you dirty prole for we be about to have a royal wedding.
Well that's the advice that Simon Heffer – he of the Telegraph – appears to be dishing out.
Apart from the offensively lofty attitude he has on display it is also a rather outdated mindset isn't it?
If you were wanting to find a common consensus with his views then I suspect that HG Wells would have to lend you his time machine.
Either that or visit your local Conservative party offices on a Friday afternoon after they have had a liquid working lunch.
(That's when they let their hair down and drunkenly advocate that fox hunting doesn't go far enough, and instead it should be used as a population control measure on council housing estates - allegedly)
Old Simon very nearly avoids addressing the fact that as we are picking up the tab for this wedding that it just might be a justifiable reason for some of us daring to express a view, but he covers this by holding the opinion that similar to Victorian children we should be seen and not heard.
I mean how dare we even consider that we should have an opinion on the matter, never mind voice a concern about its costs.
That we are going to pay for it isn't an irrelevance.
Its simply our duty it would seem.
I suspect if he had his way then those of us who are working would be forced to do an extra shift a week and the unemployed would be taking a cut in their benefits to pay for it.
The whole tone of his article harkens back to the days of pomp and circumstance, god save the queen and an unquestioning attitude to those that we should consider to be our betters.
The class divide is everything.
The elite will decide the path we walk on and those of us who have nothing will carry the load down it for them.
What a crock.
It's 2010. Not 1910.
This isn't the great rock and roll swindle. We have our very own “not so great royal wedding swindle” going on and people like this oaf are blatantly telling us that we should be basking in the reflective glory of a couple of toffs getting hitched at our expense.
Did this fool not expect that there would be a backlash.
Against a backdrop of “we are all in this together, we all need to economise and tighten our belts, we can only guide this country through a recession by cutting public services, we will all have to pay more and expect less, and cuts, cuts and more cuts” headlines, the “oooh lets have a royal party and you can pay” from those who have bags of cash themselves was never going to fly past unopposed.
Next they will be telling us that while they said that there was no money in the national pot they have just found a few billion down the back of the couch that they are going to lend to a mate - who might not ever be able to pay us back - rather than use it to pay the bills that they keep telling us need to be paid.
Nah. That would be just one step too far though. I'm being silly.
They couldn't cut front line public services and then do something like that could they?
WHAT? They are?
No way.
Seriously?
The mind boggles.
I'd doff my cap at the audacity of that if I hadn't sold it on ebay along with my forelock.

Friday, 19 November 2010

No Elvis, Beatles or the Rolling Stones

Well you can drop Elvis out and add in The Who and the Kinks instead and lets start a discusssion.
Mr Kenny Helwig, he of the days of our youth blog, started the ball rolling on this through a facebook post and I've picked it up.

So here's what Kenny posted.

Okay, here is the question

The Who
The Beatles
The Kinks
...The Rolling Stones

Who is your fave????????????

Me? The Beatles, followed closely by The Rolling Stones

and my response.

In order of preference.
The Rolling Stones
The Kinks
The Who
The Beatles.
...
The Stones grabbed me as a kid and never let go. There was something wild and subversive about them that in hindsight probably geared me up to delve into punk.
Of course as I got older and immersed myself further into music and its history I could see their influences and even took on board that much of their bad boy image was a media invention, but none the less they had the biggest impact on me.
The Kinks are sublime. Rays lyrics are beyond reproach and are what drew me in. Take there biggest tune Lola as an example. An international hit whose subject matter is shagging a tranny.
Get in there. Subvert, subvert, subvert. Fantastic.
The Who are simply the template for a rock and roll band brought to life. They balanced between sanity and insanity and delivered classics while doing so.
That I haven't placed them higher is just down to personal taste.
Listen to Live at Leeds and be blown away. I love them because I feel that they walked the walk rather than just talked the talk.
The Beatles. Love them to, but in my mind - probably because I live in the UK and grew up listening to them - I can't help but see them as a mainstream band.
They were a hit making machine and regardless of their counter culture credentials that came later I just can't see them in any other way than being chartbusters.
Similar to the Stones their media image stuck with me.
Maybe that's not fair, but it's just the way it is.
They were too white bread for me in so many ways.
I can sit back and look at the depth of their career and appreciate that in a short length of time they set the benchmark for excellence.
How can anyone really argue against that
I do in fact like them, appreciate them and will sing along when I have a Beatles day, but purely down to personal choice the other guys come in before them.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Borland by John Grant


Local fiddle player - or should that be alt-fiddle player as he has always lived both in the past, present and future when it comes to playing his instrument of choice - John Grant has recently added author to his list of accomplishments with the release of his début "Borland".
I got a sneak preview of it before it went to press and was suitably impressed.
We on the west coast of Scotland much prefer to keep praise to a minimum when it comes to friends and are loathe to admit that anything they have been involved in is any good.
To be frank telling someone that their efforts aren't completely shit is about the highest compliment a man could receive.
So in the spirit of that I have to say that "Borland" isn't completely shit at all.

Here's the selling blurb and if you wish to purchase a hard copy or even an online one then the contacts are at the bottom of the page.

"A personal account of growing up in late twentieth century Kilmarnock, Scotland. Love, life and honouring friendship through traditional music.

At the age of nineteen, Scottish traditional fiddler John Grant embarked on a journey to immortalise all who inspire him in life through traditional music. This book describes the journey - sometimes hilarious, sometimes painfully sad, never dull or predictable.

Taking the reader on a journey as diverse as the "Save Johnnie Walker" campaign through to touring Europe with psychobilly band The Termites, this is a must read for everyone interested in traditional music and Scottish life with 51 pieces of sheet music enclosed within the book"

http://www.scruffyred.com/
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/seonaidhgrannd

Kid Congo & the Pink Monkey Birds - Soundhaus (26/11/09)

My name is Kid….and I am from Mars……

It sometimes felt that this was the gig that was never to be.
It’s a tale of double bookings, incompetent local promoters and a hero who rode in to snatch victory from the jaws of ineptitude.
It all started as these things often do as a random run of events.
I slipped on Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds latest platter and midway through giving it a spin thought ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if the band were to play Glasgow’.
That thought rattled about inside my head for a while. An itch that I couldn‘t scratch.
So I let my fingers do the walking across the keyboard only to find serendipitously that the band were indeed playing.
Coincidence? Kismet? Does it really matter?
Then when I read on my initial excitement was cruelly dashed.
Kid Congo was explaining that due to a double booking at the Captains Rest the band were without a venue for the gig and the show was in the lap of the gods.
I rushed off a message to the band throwing a Glasgow promoters name forward in the hope that a last minute salvage job could be worked out.
CJ of ’The Tragic City Thieves’ jumped aboard and frantically called around looking for a venue to host the band. Unfortunately, just like Joseph and Mary in the lead up to little baby Jesus being born, there were no doors open to him and he came up empty.
It wasn’t looking good.
Then out of the blue a bulletin appeared on myspace. A new venue was secured and it was happening.
Details were sketchy.
All I knew was that the show was going ahead in the Soundhaus and the doors would open at 10pm.
That was enough. The bare bones is all you need. Everything else is just meat.
On arriving KelC and myself were the first in the door and my paranoid self jumped forward laughing and whispering that no one was going to turn up and the gig would be cancelled.
Then the hero of the hour stepped forward, a guy name Alan, and introduced himself.
This was the fella who sorted everything out last minute. Not a promoter, or a chancer looking to make a quick buck, but a simple fan.
The whole night was his baby from start to finish and everyone who was there owes this guy a drink. Fuck it. I’d buy him two simply for reaffirming my faith in the goodness of people.
There is a small feeder bar/chill out room adjacent to where the bands play and it is in here we are ushered for a pre gig DJ set.
The sounds hit the spot.
From classic 60s R and B to the some proto punk rock with a bit of Bo Diddley telling us he’s a gunslinger, it was all good, and as the time drew closer to Kid Congo and The Pink Monkey Birds playing we were treated to a plundering of tracks from ’Songs the Cramps taught us’.
By now my negative outlook on the attendance figures was slipping away as people started to crowd the bar.
Two acquaintances arrived from my home town. Christ knows how Gav and Billy found out about it, but including ourselves that was four brave souls from deepest darkest Ayrshire that had made it.
Not bad for a place that thinks jungle drums are at the cutting edge of communication technology.
The crowd swelled some more and this was a testament to Kid Congos pulling powers as there was barely any time to promote this show. A good portion must have been there through word of mouth alone.
We finish our drinks and head in for showtime.
It’s only a couple of minutes before The Pink Monkey Birds wander through the crowd and take to the stage resplendent in their mariachi suits. A sense of anticipation ripples through the crowd and Kid Congo joins them.
I had a preconceived idea that as a front man he may have been workmanlike, possibly even a tad uncomfortable assuming the role of focal point for a band, but I was so wrong.
Kid Congo controls the stage. Up front is where he should be. He has the mojo going on.
Psychedelic garage is pumped out and we are lapping it up.
By the time they reach ‘I found a Peanut’ from ‘Dracula Boots’ everyone is singing along.
The band are weaving magic up there on the stage and the audience are spellbound. Events become blurred. Kid Congo tells us that they already have a new album finished.
It’s coming out early next year and we should watch out for it being released as five seven inch singles. They give us a taster by playing a song that may or may not have been called ’When I was a punk’. A track that is blisteringly good.
As would be expected there was a strong contingent of Cramps fans in the audience and they were in a lather when Kid dedicated ’I’m Cramped' to the memory of Lux before following that on with the Gun Clubs ‘For the love of Ivy’.
Someone leaned in and said that it doesn’t get any better than this. I think he was being specific, but when I agreed I was meaning the gig in its totality. The covers, or audience pleasers if you want to call them that didn’t overshadow the bands own material at all. The quality of the show started on a high and refused to dip throughout regardless of where the songs played came from.
For me this year has been one of the best ever for gigs and this one has just rocketed into the top five.
The cover of Ronnie Cook and the Gaylads Goo Goo Muck finished me off.
In hindsight the Captains Rest couldn’t have handled this and the larger Soundhaus was a far better option.
I’m tired now. I’m emotional. I’ve waited a long time to see this guy and his band and my high expectations were more than matched.
There are more UK dates and then they are crawling through mainland Europe. So don’t be square daddio and make it your mission in life to catch one of the gigs. You will not be disappointed.

Green Day/Prima Donna - Glasgow SECC

The SECC is predominately awash with children.
I would love to be able to claim altruistically that I’m pleased that so many young people are excited about live music, but the reality is that if the tweenie in front of me makes one more squeaky assertion about one more band that she has gleaned the name of from Kerrang then I might wring her scrawny little neck.
According to the font of all tweenie knowledge Prima Donna are shit, although she glibly admits she hasn’t seen, nor heard them.
I mean c’mon. Aaaaaaaaaaargh.
This sort of inane chatter that’s grounded in bullshit is all around me.
Twenty minutes standing in the line behind her is enough for me to entertain fantasies of the child catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang arriving and decimating the crowd in one fell swoop.
maybe he could lure about 60% of them away with the offer of meeting Billie Joe Armstrong and then lock the little fuckers up in cages for everyone over twenty five to throw bananas at.
Thankfully Prima Donna provide an excellent distraction form the prepubescent throng. .
Neatly sidestepping the glam sleaze cock rock hair metal LA scene of the eighties they prefer to root themselves in the classic stomping glam of the seventies, while giving a cocky wink to the early NY scene of the Dolls and Ramones.
It’s a heady mix that completely by passes the majority of the Green Day acolytes who appear to be mainly unaware that a band are actually playing before their gods arrive.
The lack of appreciation from the majority there doesn’t phase me in the slightest though.
Fuck them.
It’s their loss.
If they can’t hear and see that this band are special, regardless of the fact that they’re not neatly keying into the modern day demographic of what they should be listening to, then I reiterate, fuck them.
This band have actually existed in my head since I was a kid.
They're my dream band.
f I imagined a look, a sound and an attitude and then conjured a band into existence for my own entertainment then this is that band.
They've made my fantasy a reality.
There’s the swagger of the Dolls, there’s some T-Rex, the sax reminds me of Hanoi Rocks and then there's more and more and more.
Live they sound like a melting pot of all the very best albums that I own.
Opening with Soul Stripper they hit the stage with high octane glee and keep the pace up throughout a short, but very urgent, set.
Chinese Rocks is sublimely ripped from the past and transported to the here and now.
When played right this is a tune that still sends shivers up and down my spine, and tonight the fire is there.
Shit. I wish this was in a small sweaty club as this is how Prima Donna should be seen.
A bit of Gary Glitter is thrown in, but I doubt anyone under thirty even notices.
It’s only about three quarters of the way through their show and I had to slip off to the merch stall and grab a t-shirt and CD.
There’s a pile of CDs there and no one seems too interested, but I’ll happily step out of time to the drumbeat everyone else is marching to.
The t-shirt's an impulse buy, but if in some small way the buying of it extends the life of this band to another album, tour, or whatever, then its worth every penny.
When I get back into the auditorium I catch the end of the show, and just in time to hear them promise that they will return to Scotland soon.
I hope that’s not a glib promise as I’m setting aside the cash for a ticket right now.
What a gig.
Time to go home.
Oh wait. There’s still Green Day to go.
What can I say.
Green Day are like tectonic plates now.
They have moved on so slowly from American Idiot that you can barely see the change.
There’s a new stage show and a few new songs but apart from that this is the American Idiot show all over again.
The audience participation angle is starting to wear thin due to over exposure and their lauded two and a half hour set could be whittled down to an hour and a half without it.
Of course they'ree pretty much faultless in the execution of the gig, but personally I’m thinking that the rock behemoth stadium show takes from the performance as much as it gives.
The balance is off.
For every highlight there’s equally a point where it drags.
The splitting of the crowd for some call and response shenanigans can be fun, but by the second and third time its failing to impress and I'm stifling a yawn.
I’ve seen Green Day on virtually every UK tour and the romance seems to be over.
Have they outgrown me, or is it the other way around?
I don’t know, maybe we just want different things now.
No matter. Unless they can re-engage with something less superficial then I can’t see me coming back.

The World/Inferno Friendship Society - Glasgow Stereo 10/8/09

The World/Inferno Friendship Society’s Glasgow gig was most definitely in American football parlance a game four quarters.
Dave Hughes and his band were a monumental disappointment. I thought that a bit of familiarity with his material would have notched up my enjoyment a bit, but after starting on a high with their opening song it was all downhill after that. Dave has a weak voice and his band are shambolic.
Take it from me. I’m being kind here.
Talented individuals they may be, but apart from the guy playing the mandolin they may have well all been playing in different bands. Highlight of the set was when Dave snapped a string as it allowed for a couple of minutes respite for me.
It wasn’t really an auspicious start to the night but The Dirty Demographic rode in next to provide a standard of quality that had so far been sadly lacking. How can you describe them though. Remember a band called Do me bad things? They were a fantastic live band that threw everything into the mix. A bit of a rock, a bit of soul, a bit of disco and anything else that came to hand. I personally think it was a bit too much for most people. A case of aural overload that people couldn’t wrap their heads around.
Well the Dirty Demographic are a bit like that. Quirky keyboard pop, dual vocals, with a bit of jazz, some horns, some rap and although it shouldn’t work, it does. Imagine the kids from fame as disillusioned adults having a mid life crisis and getting back together to play in a garage band. That’s the Dirty Demographic.
If an audience can just accept the fact that this band will not be neatly pigeon holed then they could actually be your next favourite band.
I would definitely go and see them again, and maybe even again and again and again. So should you.
After having my spirits raised by the Dirty Demographic Joey Terrifying came on and my enjoyment of the night plummeted to the depths of despair.
The deal in bland shouty testosterone heavy punk that I have seen a million times before. The bassist was the best bit about them. He had it locked down. Great bass runs through every song and when he took to the mike he showed himself to be a better singer than the front man. It still wasn’t enough to salvage the set though. This sort of thing appeals to a certain demographic of punk fan and I’m quite happy not being one of them. I’d have the band taped off in a corner and encourage security to usher people along saying ‘move on, nothing original to see here.’
Nothing to do with their performance, but after their set it looked like they all fucked off and left the guitarist to manhandle all his equipment off the stage. So much for punk rock unity. Poor guy looked like he was cultivating a hernia.
Nah. I’ll be remembering their name, but only to give them a miss in the future.
Last band on was of course the World/Inferno Friendship Society.
I’ve been waiting a while to see these guys, and my expectations were pretty high, but truth be told it wouldn’t have mattered how high my expectations were as they would still have surpassed them.
The cabaret punk tag gets bandied about often enough, but it’s apt. So who am I to swim against the tide. A performance is just that, a PERFORMANCE. Equally as theatrical as they are punk rock they know how to engage with an audience. What they do goes beyond just playing a gig, hosting a party, or putting on a show. It’s a communal experience where everyone get’s to participate if they so wish.
Someone once said that punk grew out of white kids being unable to dance. What a crock. If they had been at this gig then they would have seen how far off the mark they are. I, and a good chunk of the small crowd danced from start to finish. Not just jumped up and down, but really danced. We gyrated, twisted, shook our thangs and even waltzed throughout the show. At points I would have to stop to catch my breath and try and drag some oxygen in from the overheated air, but regardless of occasionally seeing spots in front of my eyes I would jump back in there to join in again.
Bodies over forty aren’t really equipped for this sort of exertion, but no one appears to have informed TWIFS and they are hell-bent on whipping everyone up into a frenzy regardless of age or gender.
The politics are kept to a bare minimum with anarchism only being mentioned a couple of times and a bit of a ‘Do they owe us a living (of course they fucking do)’ is wheeled out. The band don’t deal in pushing a political agenda. They want to sing, dance, stretch their imagination and dream of a better place for us all and if you want to come along for the ride then you are more than welcome.
I actually wish that they played here at least once a month as it is just the sort of pick me up that I could do with on a regular basis. This was one of the top gigs of the year.