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Friday, 29 April 2011

The Urban Voodoo Machine update re Glasgow

As posted on the blog previously The Urban Voodoo Machine were booked to play Glasgow on the 11th of May in the Cathouse.
Some people only appeared to know about the show through reading it here or on posts I made on Facebook.
The promotion work seems to be limited to a very small mention on a flyer that mainly featured bands not of UVMs ilk.
To be completely frank I doubt many of the supporters of the rock bands featured on the flyer would have much time for the Urban Voodoo Machine.
It seemed a strange set up.
So it was no real surprise when the promoters pulled the gig.
It was stated that it was down to a lack of ticket sales.
(I'm going to rant about that and other things very soon)
Now the lack of ticket sales can be down to three things.
One is that no one generally gives a toss about the band in question.
Second is that the gig may be overpriced and in times of hardship people just can't afford what is a luxury expenditure.
and thirdly the lack of ticket sales could be down to no one knowing feck all about the gig.
In this case everything would indicate the third reason.
The band have had rave reviews for their live show, their debut album, and now with the imminent release of another album the mainstream press seem to be getting into a bit of a froth about that to.
The gig itself was priced at a tenner to. So not a bank breaking figure in my opinion.
Anyway, instead of taking this lying down a friend - Kyle of the band Filthy Little Secret, and myself got in touch with the band and offered to find them an alternative venue.
Easier said than done.
Kyle has worn his fingers to the bone emailing venues and yesterday I walked miles and miles hassling people face to face.
Thankfully the manager of the band was also hitting contacts in Glasgow and today could announce that the gig is now going ahead in a venue called 'The Bay'.
I sincerely hope our collective never say die attitude will be rewarded by a good turn out and personally my faith in the live music scene is somewhat restored.
So do me a favour. Please tell anyone and everyone who is within travelling distance of this gig to get down there.
For the effort all we can offer them is the time of their lives.

and on this day

......this footage comes to light from an arrest made yesterday.

What you are seeing is the reaction from the state to an absurdest theatre group participating in some street entertainment in protest about the Royal wedding.
Now the first thing you have to ask yourself is this.
Do they have the right to protest?
The answer is of course they do.
Then it would be fair to consider if the manner they were doing so could cause offence?
Apparently it didn't though?
It would seem - from other reports that I have read - that no member of the public complained about them at all.
It was simply a whimsical piece of satire performed in a leafy street that would fall far short of anything we would see on 'Mock the week', 'Have I got news for you' or any other television show that featured a satirical element to it.
So were the causing an obstruction?
That would be a fair question to ask wouldn't it?
Maybe they were, but so do many groups of drunken young men and women on a weekend and the response by the police is rather different isn't it?
I think in this case we really do have to ask ourselves what is going on here.
Without getting hysterical about it what we are seeing is state suppression.
It is on a small scale, but that is what it is.
Of course there are certain incidents that have grey areas that people can argue over when it comes to the thorny subject of protest.
Rioting for instance.
Some will say it is justified, others will say it is occasionally justified, while there will be those who say it is never required nor justified.
Everyone is entitled to their view.
Vandalism is another issue that is often raised.
The destruction of property by protesters divides public opinion. As it should. It's healthy to address these issues publicly.
Is it or is it not justifiable? You will once again have your own opinion on the matter.
Yet here we have a small group of people inoffensively making their feelings known regarding the public wedding and being arrested for doing so.
Is this really acceptable behaviour from the state?
There are no placards, angry youths in black masks or even raised voices in anger.
There is no destruction of property, no violence threatened and certainly no vandalism.
Instead we are seeing a ridiculous amount of police responding to a a non incident and then carrying out orders that make no sense.
Arresting these individuals was not in the interest of the public.
It certainly wasn't to ensure our safety either.
Are any of us really concerned about an elderly man and woman lampooning the royals?
So please ask yourself what is really going on here.
Is this the sort of society that we want?
Do we really want the the tales of Kafka and Orwell to increasingly become more of a reality?
This behaviour from the state concerns me, but more so the behaviour of the police.
Where was one officer willing to step forward and state that this was not really their job?
That it wasn't what he or she had signed up for.
This is simply police officers acting like drones and carrying out the wishes of the state without question.
Now that's a slippery slope.
Where does it end?
The psychological impact of an authority figure telling someone that they must do something as it is their job is frighteningly powerful.
Now I can appreciate that the officers in this footage will have mortgages, bills to pay, and family to look after, and few people would be willing to stand up and risk their job when they consider the personal impact it could have on them, but history has shown us the end result of blindly following orders.
The officers involved in this have brought shame on themselves, and to a degree their colleagues to.
If they said nothing on this day, then what will they do when asked to use force against what they personally perceive to be a peaceful protest.
Now think what I just said there.
They perceive it to be a peaceful protest, but the orders from on high are to use force.
Now will they?
Will they consider that it is more than their job is worth to excuse themselves and refuse to participate?
How much of a leap is it from that participating in the detention of innocents?
Or worse.
I'm not comfortable with what I have seen in this footage, and neither should you be.
This is not about being for or against the Royal Wedding. This is about freedom of speech.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

”People think little girls should be seen and not heard

....and by extention little boys, big girls and big boys.
Thankfully Poly Styrene didn't subscribe to this view and has left us with some songs that many would argue defined punk rock.
They certainly did for me.
With her passing at the young age of 53 from breast cancer many of us have lost yet another who walked beside us as we navigated our way through life in our formative years.
Along with others Poly provided the soundtrack to those years.
She will be sadly missed.
Up and down the country there doesn't seem to be a week that goes past that there isn't a gig being held with the proceeds going to a cancer charity.
Maybe it would be a good idea to mourn our loss in a proactive manner befitting her memory.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Eddy & The T-Bolts/Buzzbomb/Southpaw - Nice and Sleazy - 24/4/11 (Glasgow)

Sunday night pre bank holiday Monday and all across Glasgow it's party time.
The weather is nice, the pubs are busy and people want to have fun.
It would be hard to tell in the bowels of Nice and Sleazy though.
Hardly anyone is there.
For some reason the turn out for the Eddy and the T-Bolts gig is aspiring to be lacklustre and failing miserably.
Maybe the bands playing had decided the date and time should be considered a secret, and then successfully managed to hoodwink the fans of live music that nothing much was happening this weekend.
Nope. Couldn't be that though. I found out about the show without too much difficulty and I don't even live in Glasgow.
Maybe its down to no one liking Southpaw, Buzzbomb and Eddy and the T-Bolts.
Nope. Can't be that either.
All of them are far better than the average indie rock kids who play week in and week out and have proved this in front of audiences often enough.
So why the poor turnout?
Well don't look at me. I was there.
It's a question you should be asking yourself.
It's not even a question that the people who didn't turn up to Sleazy's should be asking themselves, but one that everyone should.
Just swap the names of these bands for your local heroes and ask yourself when was the last time you seen them.
While you are at it you may want to stop and think about why your local venue - you know the one. That one you haven't visited in the last six months – is closing.
Then when you have come to an answer try putting yourself in the shoes of a band, promoter or venue owner and consider if your answer sounds like a reason or an excuse.
Consider that a mild rant, or a wake up call. It's really up to you.
Meanwhile back in Sleazy's Southpaw are playing post grunge era rock music, and playing it well.
There's more of a blues influence in the guitar than I heard when listening to some of their studio tracks, and the vocals are a good bit more powerful to.
While I couldn't describe them as a band that tick all my boxes. they are none the less good at what they do, and if that modern day rock style rings your bell then I could assure you that they will provide a fine nights entertainment for you. So go and see them. (or don't as going to see live bands doesn't appear to be fashionable any more unless the band graces the cover of a magazine, or they're your brothers mates band and they say you can get in for nothing.)
Buzzbomb on the other hand do tick my boxes.
Nothing much stops them putting on a good show.
The bassist has got a brand new nippy tattoo and a cold, the drummer a double hernia and the guitarist admits freely that he's fat, and collectively they might be a bit past it.
The performance wouldn't lead you to believe that any of that is going to stop them from giving it 100% though.
Bands a fraction of their age couldn't manage to keep up with Buzzbomb when they are in full flow.
Between the three of them all the vocal bases are covered to, with none of the band being unwilling to step forward and assume the lead.
It makes for an interesting gig and allows them to tackle pretty much anything they want to.
Apart from the original tracks of dam impressive melodic punk rock we get a great run through of Knowledge and Sonic Reducer that would bring a smile to punk fans young and old.
Bit of something for everyone really.
In fact most of the young punk bands that I see on my travels could do with checking out Buzzbomb as it would give then a real time example of how it should be done.
Eddy & The T-Bolts who step up next are taking the lack of a crowd on the chin and rising above the disappointment.
The guitarist does mention that this is probably the most expensive practise session the band has ever had, but apart from that they just roll their sleeves up and get on with the job at had, and that job is to RAWK.
While I've seen the band quite a few times in the past it has always been as a support act and never headlining.
So I was impressed to see them carry a full performance on their own.
There's no slacking and they easily have enough solid material to take that step up to top of the bill status.
The three new songs on display are as catchy as anything they have released before and fit in well with the older more familiar material.
It all flows well and if you liked them before then you will love them now.
The whole band deserve huge kudos for what they do.
It all falls into place pretty much perfectly,
Eddy himself is his usual exuberant self.
So exuberant that there's no photographs from the gig that I can up as he's a blur of motion in them all. (That one up there is Buzzbomb.)
The guitarist deserves a review of his own, but I'm not a muso so all I can really say is that it sounds shit hot to my ears.
As someone who is rather laissez faire about who is in and out in the guitar world you can take my highlighting of how good he is as high praise indeed.
Needless to say this doesn't mean that the rhythm section aren't deserving of some praise to.
The guys are the solid skeleton that everything else hangs off of.
The band are fuckin' tip top.
Over all I've got to give all the acts ten out of ten each.
A great nights entertainment for four quid.
The people who turned up deserve a ten out of ten for effort to.
While the ones who didn't as they were too busy scratching their balls, or fud, in front of the latest Cowell-esque talent show deserve nothing more than a fuck you very much though.
You guys are ruining the scene for us who do appreciate and love it.
Anyone who does attend shows regularly, but didn't make this one can exclude themselves from the fuck you very much, but they know that already.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

My Chemical Romance - Live Acoustic @ 98.7FM Penthouse

Nice little curio here.
It's My Chemical Romance doing an acoustic set for a radio station and I'm pleased to say that from my perspective if provides more evidence to support my opinion that this is a good, maybe even great, band that couldn't be described as a mere flash in the emo pan.
I particularly like this recording as it isn't that polished.
It's not like the unplugged MTV recordings that were recorded in the best possible manner in the best possible circumstances, but instead a more relaxed affair that actually provides a bit more credibility to the performance.
At some points Gerard doesn't sound vocally that powerful at all.
Especially on “Sing”, but the guitar work on this version, and the Doors sounding burst of keyboards, more than makes up for his reticence to belt it.
I suspect that this subdued vocal is rooted in trying to find a balance for the song within the restraints of doing it acoustically.
Cancer finds him hitting the nail on the head though, and that's more than likely down to the fact that the song has been done acoustically by them so often.
It's common ground for them.
Give it another six months and I suspect that 'Sing' would sound like 'Cancer'.
More assured, firmed up and ready to impress.
Pulp's 'Common people' From Radio 1's Live Lounge is included just to stretch the album out a bit, but it's a worthy inclusion and fits well enough into the flow of the tracks.
It all finishes on a low though with the Lags Gallows remix of 'Planetary (Go)'.
I could have done without this.
It's not that it is terrible, but misplaced and breaks the acoustic style that the rest of the tracks are coached in.
A mistake by whoever compiled this. A minor one, but noticeable.
In future I think I'll just be giving the first seven tracks a spin and quickly hitting the eject button before the remix ruins the vibe

Duff McKagans's Loaded - The Taking

Duff was always the guy in Guns and Roses who embodied the punk spirit.
In a band that was in danger of overdosing on attitude his cup runneth over with the damn stuff.
It was the same deal in Velvet Revolver.
So it's no surprise that when he does step forward into the spotlight that he carries that attitude over into his take on how rock music should be played.
Whether it's a track that is drenched in the sweat and abandon of the pit, or one that reaches out to fill stadiums there's a common thread that runs through it all, and that common thread is Duff himself.
Not a bad thing for an artist to be able to do. To stamp that personal seal of recognition on whatever they create.
The glory days of rock music may well be in the past, but music is cyclical, and if Duff continues to release albums of this standard then he will be in a prime position to reap the rewards when it comes back around again.
Nothing shady about this at all.
Good solid rockin' for the masses and well worth investing in if your tastes lean towards harder edged party time rock and roll.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Creepersin - Has risen from the grave

I've got a confession to make.
I'm quite partial to Horrorpunk.
Yep, that cliched subgenre rings my bell.
I don't just occasionally wear a Misfits t-shirt.
I've actually got their albums to.
In fact give me the Misfits, a box set of Universal horror films, and a bottle of wine to drink from a skull shaped goblet and it's Happy Halloween all year round in my dungeon.
I love it for a number of reasons.
One is that unlike death metal no one who likes horror punk lacks a sense of humour.
When the singer howls that he wants to fuck a corpse under a blood red moon he doesn't actually mean it, and a play date to burn a church down is definitely not pencilled into his diary for a week on Tuesday.
It's all b-movie shlock horror taken to the max, and that tickles me.
So when Marcus Carcass of the rather splendid 13 Tombs gave me the heads up that US band Creepersin had an ep available to download for free I was all over it, and I wasn't disappointed.
There's no getting away from the Misfits influence on the band, but they cast such a large shadow that no one gets to creep completely out from under it.
The good thing for Creepersin though is that as the Misfits don't really do too much any more, and even when they do it could be argued that the bands who emulate them do it better, and that's the case here with 'Has risen from the grave'.
What you get here is five slices of Halloween pumpkin pie laced with some Ed Wood flavouring, and who wouldn't want a portion of that?
I've already heard the criticism that we have heard all this before, and we have, but just like the Ramones I don't get tired of it, and judging by the ongoing survival of the scene I suspect that plenty of people would agree.
You can get it here.

Friday, 22 April 2011


I hate getting my picture taken, but sometimes, just sometimes, you just have to go with the flow and give into the fanboy urge.
So as a long time fan of Michael Monroe, and individually the rest of the band, Ginger, Steve Conte, Sami Yaffa and Karl Rockfist, I wasn't going to pass up on this.
As Ginger would say.
Fookin' great.
and as I would say.

Billy Liar - It Starts Here

Honesty is in short supply these days
It's an attribute that has apparently went out of fashion.
Of course people say that they want it, but try and give them the undiluted truth and watch the reaction.
It's rarely a pretty sight.
From adults swallowing political spin to school kids claiming they genuinely like Justin Beiber - so as not to offend their peers - the lies that oil the wheels of society are everywhere.
One place you wont find them though is on Billy Liar's 'It Starts here'.
Soul bearing rawness are the three little words that probably crop up often enough in critiques, but that's the immediate surface impression of it.
Dig a little deeper and there's far more going on.
The first thing is that he is keying into a long tradition of musical expression.
Woody Guthrie, Billy Bragg, Joe Strummer and TV Smith have all forged ahead with this style of folk punk social commentary to great effect, and now Billy Liar has set forth to carry the torch to yet another generation.
The thing about those highlighted is that many try to emulate them by singing protest songs, but that seems to miss the point to an extent because they had the ability to raise awareness through highlighting social issues on a personal level.
They pushed forward the meat of a story and not the banner headline with their success being rooted in the familiarity of what they wrote.
Billy Liar has this ability to communicate to.
Whether he is passing comment on the the state of the music industry or the use of drugs he is filtering it through his perception of the issue and in doing so isn't providing an abstract commentary, but instead one that we can feel a kinship with.
Secondly he provides a barrier between the listener and his lyrics.
His guitar and voice provides a distraction to what he is singing about and that's not a bad thing as it makes it more palatable.
Remember what I said about honesty being out of fashion. To purely rant is counterproductive as the truth is too much for most people to comprehend.
Was it Jack Nicholson who said “You can't handle the truth” in A Few Good Men?
There's probably a great deal of worth and honesty in that statement.
If Billy Liar was just to stand on speakers corner and shout the lyrics out then most people would tuck their heads down and keep walking because they don't really want to address what is being said, but wrap the words up in a song and deliver it with passion and the message filters through with less resistance being placed in its path.
That is really the key to getting the story across, and that Billy Liar at a young age can comprehend that stands him in good stead for the future.
And lastly..........Well he writes good songs.
That may sound simplistic, but unless the performer has an ear for his craft then it doesn't work.
Billy Liar does though. His ear is finely tuned.
It may be that he is the angry young man of punk touring relentlessly up and down this country with his guitar gripped white knuckled in has hand, but he is also much more than this and It Starts Here provides ample proof of that.
Now go and buy it. Go and see Billy, Post about him on your blogs or even just visit his myspace and make your own mind up.
You might not like what you hear, but it's difficult to ignore.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Colin Hunter - Do Re Me

Music is the food of the gods.
It replenishes the soul when we think that we can't go on.
Offers us respite from the grind of life just when we need it the most.
It also accompanies us on all our adventures.
Offers the soundtrack to the best nights out, and provides us with aural bookmarks to the chapters of our lives that we never want to forget.
It will hold our hand in the dark, whisper everything will be all right, and conversely make us dance with tears of joy in our eyes.
It's omnipresent.
The ground beneath our feet and the sky above our heads resonates with music and Colin Hunter understands this.
I don't know if he realizes it himself though.
Maybe he is aware that he is a conduit for these sounds and rhythms, the heartfelt tales of kitchen sink romance, but maybe he's an idiot savant and these songs simply flow through him unchecked.
It doesn't matter where they come from though, because here they are.
They exist, and it is to our benefit that they do so, because each and everyone will step up and be your personal soundtrack to some moment in your life.
They will paint a picture in your head and that picture, like a little jigsaw piece, will fit in somewhere in your life.
The album is akin to a box full of these little pictures, and they will be different for everyone.
Join them all together and they can be the story of your day.
Break them up and start again and they collectively become the story of your last break up.
Start again and its the glorious moment when you catch your breath at the beginning of a relationship.
This album is brimming with life.
His life, my life, and yours to.
Colin Hunter has managed to create that rare beast. An album that will speak to virtually everyone.
It encompasses all things for all people.
All the highs and all the lows.
There's only one problem.
Where does he go from here?


and here's a cover version that isn't featured on the album.

AC/DC - Hampden - 30/6/09 (Glasgow)

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 that exists in the world today.
It’s just hit me why I'm struggling though. 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 in you having to be there to experience it.
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 of the station 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 of 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.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

AC/DC - River Plate movie premier competition

Not a bad comp from AC/DC for their new rock gig movie

'The World Première of AC/DC Live At River Plate is taking place at HMV Hammersmith Apollo on 6th May. ALL FIVE BAND MEMBERS WILL BE IN ATTENDANCE!'

'To be entered into the draw for one of 150 pairs of tickets for this once in a lifetime event, simply answer the question below correctly.' and here's the link to the competition page with the question.
The answer is Brazil by the way.

Motherfucker at bandcamp

Nice title for a blog update huh? Can you imagine getting a letter from the summercamp that your kid is at.......and that's all it said.
Okay here's the score though. It's actually a new tune from Eddy & the T-Bolts.
You can listen to it here amongst other little rocking gems.

They're one of the elite (in my opinion) few bands out of Glasgow who I'm quite partial to going to see as regularly as I can.
In fact I hope to be at Nice and Sleazy's this Sunday and would recommend others to pop along to.
They have a nice sense of humour matched by quality musicianship, and they also have a singer who can play to a room and doesn't think that staring at his shoes – although I'm sure they are very nice shoes – constitutes entertainment.

Meanwhile you can lend an ear to three new Plimptons demos here to.

Punk rock parenting corner.

Nothing to do with music this, or even politics, but instead a parenting issue that I am looking for opinions about.
So feel free to skip this if it has zero interest to you.
The thing is I know what I think about the subject, but I would love to hear other peoples views.
It's about kids sharing beds with their parents.
My stance is that I don't think there is anything wrong with it.
A close female friend says that it is wrong.
So far I have explained why I think that it's acceptable, and for her part she has simply stated that it is wrong for a child to share a bed with an adult.
No expanding on her view, and no reasons given for holding it.
Now I have a few problems with her stance.
One is with the phrasing she used.
To my ears it sounds as if there is a weight put on child and adult.
It sounds sort of wrong.
An ADULT shouldn't share a bed with a CHILD. I don't often advocate reading between the lines and think accepting what people say, rather than what you think they mean is always the best way forward, but in this case there is a lot of emphasis used that can't be ignored.
Of course a dirty pervert shouldn't share a bed with a child.
When I say that there is nothing wrong with a parent sharing a bed with their child - depending on the circumstances - I'm not making a case for abuse.
Adults shouldn't even share beds with other peoples kids. I'm not saying that they should, but should this stretch to a parent, male or female, sharing a bed with their own child?
I'll add that sharing a bed with your own child on a nightly basis with no particular reason is a bit strange, but is there really anything wrong with a persons child crawling into a parents bed because they are unwell, scared or emotionally upset?
The way I see it is that as a parents it is our responsibility to offer the comfort they seek.
This leads me to the second thing that bothers me about this.
It's a natural reaction to take your child in your arms and hold him or her to your breast or chest when they are very young.
Scientists say that a child feels comforted by the sound of your heartbeat. It reminds them of the womb. A safe place for them.
It seems to work to. How often have parents experienced the crying baby who immediately stops when held to them?
By extension of this I think that they get the same comfort from getting a cuddle as they get older, and then just being in close proximity as they get older still.
When my son came to live with me at age ten there was the odd occasion when he was very upset at the breakdown of his relationship with his mother and he came into my bed.
It was just a handful of times, but I didn't have an issue with it at all.
Sometimes he would sleep on the couch and I would sleep on the floor. Throughout the night he would wake and become restless and then ask if I was there.
He would soon go back to sleep when I said I was.
At that time he needed this.
Apart from that there was lots of hugs and telling him that I loved him.
This was a transitional period and by providing support to my son I feel that it helped him move forward from a time that was very emotionally trying and upsetting for him.
More recently my daughter has come to live with us after a similar breakdown in the relationship with her mother.
This has been particularly traumatic for her and especially more so when last October as their mother took her own life.
Since then my daughter who is eleven has on occasion slipped into my bed with me.
I give her a cuddle, tell her I love her and will always look after her, and then roll over and go to sleep.
Days can go by when this doesn't happen, even weeks, but then depending on different things that range from how often I've done night shifts and she hasn't seen me, or her being in pain due to a bowel issue she has or even just a very low period. (Mothers day was especially difficult for her) she will seek comfort by being in close proximity.
This could be from being snuggled up on the couch watching television or if it's 2 am climbing into my bed.
I don't see anything wrong with this at all and find it strange why anyone else would.
I can understand someone saying that she seems to be a bit old for sharing a bed with their father, but with the specific circumstances taken into consideration I think it would be rather churlish of them to maintain a strict unbending stance against it.
I can also accept to an extent a sexist view where there is a degree of discomfort as I'm a male single parent as opposed to a female one.
(I wonder how many people wouldn't bat an eye if it was a mother comforting their child)
That pisses me off, but it's an opinion that is socially entrenched and there's not a lot I can do about it.
Regardless of that though there is no one else to provide the care and emotional support.
That's the bottom line. I'm on my own here. So the choice for me is a simple one. Give the support to my kids or withold it.
So opinions expressed would be welcome.
I'll be honest enough to say that I'm hoping for the majority to side with me on this, but of not then I would love some enlightenment as to why I'm wrong in my opinion.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Urban Voodoo Machine are coming to town.

I love it when people mix things up about a bit. Bust out from the neat little boxes that others would prefer that they remain in.
One of the bands who do that are The Urban Voodoo Machine.
I first heard of them over on a psychobilly blog although they're not a psychobilly band and since then I've been waiting patiently for them to play live in a dive near me.
Now that time is here. May the 11th in the Cathouse in Glasgow.
So if you like a bit of Tom Waits, some New Orlean jazz. some Johnny Cash. some Rhythm and blues and even horror b-movies then this band are for you. I expect you to be there.
I also will not accept any excuses about missing being told about it as I'm going to put a wee poster for the gig up on the right of the blog until the day of the show.
Apart from Glasgow the band are also playing Brighton on the 5th, Belfast on the 6th, Birmingham on the 12th. York on the 13th, Leamington Spa on the 14th and then a homecoming gig in London on the 17th. So get your arses down the front.
Click on the pic to enlarge and see details.

I'm very pleased to announce that an interview with this fantastic band has just been arranged.

Who spilt the ice cream?

1 - Do you want a mint ice cream mate?
2 - No thanks
1 - Why not?
2 – Eh? I don't like mint ice cream. In fact I'm not too keen on ice cream as a whole.
1 - How do you know?
2 – Well I've tried mint ice cream, and ice cream in a variety of flavours, and I just don't like it. I don't really get how anyone could like mint ice cream.
1 - Try it again.
2 - No thanks.
1 - Did you just have a cone or a whole tub?
2 - Just a cone.
1 - Well try a tub?
2 - Why would I want to try a tub when I didn't enjoy a single cone?
1 - Because I like mint ice cream.
2 - That makes no sense. You can like mint ice cream all you want mate, but that doesn't mean that I have to.
1 - You do. Try it.
2 - Are you saying I have no right to dislike mint ice cream based on me having one cone?
1 - Yes.
2 - and that because you like mint ice cream that everyone should?
1 - That about sums it up.
2 - You're mental.
1 - No. I'm not mental. Your a moron, twat, prick, cunt, saddo for not liking mint ice cream. You've probably said that you don't like it publicly and now other people might not like mint ice cream to. In fact do you know what?
2 - What?
1 - I'm going to get all my mates who like mint ice cream and we're going to hassle you like fuck for not liking it 'cause you're a dick.

Doesn't make much sense does it. Although if you change mint ice cream to Voodoo Six it does.
Oh wait a minute. It still doesn't.

Right hands up who watched the first instalment of a film and thought it was shit so gave the sequels a body swerve?
Or has anyone ever read a book by a certain author and was left unimpressed. So unimpressed that they have never bothered reading anything else they had written?
Well how dare you make a judgement call.
Unless you have watched all the movies or read all the books your opinion is worthless. YOU HEAR ME.....WORTHLESS!

Quick. Someone tell all the critics in the world that they can longer express an opinion unless they have immersed themselves in every song by a band, every film by a director and every book by an author.

So what's the point of this ludicrous update? Well read the comments from the Voodoo Six fans in the Michael Monroe Garage review, or take a gander at their facebook page and it will all become as clear as mud.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Lords of Altamont - Midnight to 666

Be afraid.
Be very afraid.
Because in dark corners of the world bands like The Lords of Altamont exist.
They want to get fucked up, they want you to get fucked up, and if they could press a button that would set the world alight and bring on a rock and roll apocalypse then don't even delude yourself for a second that they wouldn't press it, and press it hard.
From the sixties onwards there has always been bands like this.
The mighty MC5 out of Detroit and Iggy with his Stooges are just the tip of an impressive iceberg of debauched delinquency.
They took some rock and roll, they took some drugs, they took exception to just about everything, and then they took their angst and threw it in your face while insisting that you danced to it to.
So be warned. All this and more is trapped in the grooves of Midnight to 666.
It's a Pandoras box of illicit delights. One that needs to be opened as within it is a historical mystery tour that needs to be unleashed into the world.
From the Motor City to the Bowery the bands just kept coming and Lords of Altamont are the dark princes of the current scene that keep pumping black blood through its arteries.
If what MTV is spewing out is matter then this is the anti matter. The opposing force. The yang to the yin.
It's what serves to provide balance and without it we would succumb to the endless onslaught of mediocrity that threatens to relentlessly engulf us.
Buy this album and be part of the solution and not the problem.

Glastonbury 2011

I can't remember what year it was, but I can clearly remember the closing day of my first trip to Glastonbury.
I woke up in my tent and the sun was shining through and filling it with light.
I stumbled bleary eyed into the day ahead and from where my compadres and myself were camped looked down a hill to the actual festival site itself.
There was pockets of mist lying in the hollows and it looked like a shanty town brought into a more modern existence.
A rural bladerunner community. All canvas, corrugated iron and sleeping neon signs rising from the befogged walkways.
Spreading out from it there were the army of tents haphazardly pitched anywhere and everywhere.
It was as silent as the festival gets and I had a contemplative moment when it dawned on me that I didn't want to leave. I really didn't want to leave. This wasn't a nagging thought, but a firm mental nudge telling me not to leave this place.
I searched my mind as to why and came to the conclusion that maybe for the first time ever I had felt comfortable in my own skin.
The festival had provided me with a place were I could be the 100% unadulterated me.
My life of being boredom, pushing at the boundaries of living a village life, being confused and out of step with my so called peers and feeling like a cuckoo in the nest of my own family had been left behind.
For just under a week I had existed in a state of constant freedom with what appeared to be a majority of like minded people.
I'd gotten high, drank too much, danced till my legs gave way, lay in the sun and yes these are all things that virtually everyone was doing, but I also wandered around on my own, spoke to strangers, hung out with hippies, rastas and punks for short bursts of time and just drifted from one happy encounter to the next.
Everywhere I went was a phantasmagorical journey to new delights.
Glastonbury at that time had a magical quality to it. It was a place where anything could happen, and did.
People talk about the rise of the internet and how no matter how random a thought is that you can type it in and find a reference to it somewhere, and pre internet that's what I felt about Glastonbury.
Whatever you wanted it was there. You just had to look.
In this canvas city the world had been condensed and stored and I was allowed entry to it and I ate it all up.
I did go home though.
Then I returned the next year, and the year after that, and after a few more years it lost its appeal for me.
I had changed. We all do, but Glastonbury had changed quicker than me.
We had grown apart.
The bands and artists booked to appear had become increasingly mass friendly and the little curiosities that you would find in the little glades, the corners and the tents within the site seemed to become less and less anarchic and more structured.
Then there was what felt like a tipping point and for me the consumerist aspect outweighed the bohemian vibe that the festival had always prided itself on.
It no longer felt like home.
I'm sure people still derive a great deal of fun from attending it, of course they do, but it's a music festival now.
One that it is hard to differentiate from all the other music festivals. When at one time it was my annual pilgrimage to counter culture nirvana.
So today I looked at a little update about the line up and I see U2, Beyonce and Coldplay are headlining this year.
Nothing wrong with any of them if that's your thing, but for me they are bands that people with no real musical appreciation like.
The big hitters that peer at you from the shelves of the supermarket and get snapped up to be played in the car by people of a certain age who became dislocated from the excitement that music can provide.
They're safe options, popular options for a certain demographic and they are also the antithesis of what Glastonbury was and a shining example of what it has now become.
Once we flocked to it to sip at the fountain of a classless alternative culture.
Now it's the one stop event of the year for dad rock fans and the twenty somethings who live in the city, and whose stamping ground is the exclusive wine bars and nightclubs where the hoi poloi are excluded from
I mourn the passing of what once was. I sincerely do.
Top Left - Then. Bottom right - Now.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

CD/EX and Johnny Reb - Bar Bloc - Glasgow (15/4/11)

Post Michael Monroe in the Garage and I'm heading to BarBloc. This will be the third gig in the one night and I'm drunk.
I'm just getting that out there so people know the score.
In fact I was drunk an hour ago.
So more accurately I'm beyond drunk. Probably too drunk to contemplate another gig, but I'm greedy and want more. More drink, more music.
Some band is already playing when we arrive and it's confusing me because I was told it was Steven Milne and I was expecting one person, but maybe like Glasgow's Annie Stevenson, Steven Milne is a band.
Anyway he, or they, are all right.
Indie kid stuff and not something that I usually gravitate towards, but it's inoffensive enough, but that's like damning it with faint praise.
Who wants to be all right? Everyone should be aspiring to be much more.
Next is the much better Johnny Reb.
They've been building up a bit of a buzz. Especially as the managed to get Boz Boorer on board to record their album.
Someone mentioned that they are like a band paying homage to the postcard scene, and while I can get on board with that there's a lot more going on.
These are young guys who have years and years of different bands to soak up influences from and then they've tried to wrestle the sounds into something that they can call their own.
To a certain extent they done it.
There's echoes of The Smiths, Joy Division, Orange Juice, The Libertines and so much more in what they do, but all the influences just flavour the music and fail to overpower what they are attempting to achieve.
I've mentioned this before about certain bands.
About the fine balance, the tightrope they walk, that allows them to either traverse their influences or stumble and fall into them.
Johnny Reb are a band I'm going to keep an eye on as they just might provide a few surprises in the coming year.
They were the first of the two bands that were were there to see, but the main players for us were Chris Devotion and the Expectations or CD/EX for short.
The opened up with a burst of Ramones-eque power chords and although the sound wasn't doing them many favours they managed to keep on top of it.
Second track in and I decided it was time for a drunken dance.
I managed to press gang Kel into being pulled about in something that may, or may not, have resembled actual dancing.
No one else was cool enough to join us.
The loose translation of that is no one else was up for making a fool of themselves at this point.
The band are furiously urgent in the deliver of their brand of rock and punk and they deserve to be playing in front of a more demonstratively appreciative audience.
That might sound like I'm highlighting a lack of response due to a possible disinterest, but that's not the case at all.
The problem seems to be in how people show their appreciation.
I don't mind clapping, whooping and a hollering or even bustin' a move as da kids would say.
Sadly most people seem to think that polite applause conveys enough appreciation.
Well I'll tell you that some of the best shows I've seen is when people let themselves go and the band feed off the excitement.
It becomes more of a symbiotic experience with band and audience feeding off of each other.
This is what I keep going and seeing bands to experience. That communal feeling of excitement.
So the deal in BarBloc was a lot of polite applause and smiling faces.
A real sense of enjoying the band, but a reluctance to let loose.
Now that's a shame as I want to see CD/EX riding a wave of excitement. They already push at it hard, but I think that with a crowd pushing them onwards they could really let rip and provide them with a gig that they could talk about for months to come.
It's all over too soon for me.
Kel is flagging and as she is driving I accept that we aren't going to hang around for Helsinki Seven.
Maybe someone else reading this can fill us in on how they went.
Excuse the shaky pictures. Blame the drink and the DT's.
Next time I hope I can do the band more justice with a more coherent review.

Wigsville Spliffs - Fat 41

It was all going swimmingly well there for a while with the latest releases from Drunkabilly Records, but then Wigsville Spliffs had to come along and derail the party train.
It's a shame because Fat 41 isn't a horrendously bad album. It's just not a very good one and suffers in comparison next to the others currently on the labels roster.
If I had listened to it on it's own instead of as part of a rotation of other albums then I guess I would have been more impressed and that's slightly unfair to them, or then again maybe it's not.
Maybe I'm being too kind and rationalising not being impressed.
Telling myself that if I had a bit of a drought of new musical adventures to go on then these guys could have been a welcome release from the tedium, but unfortunately in reality I'm just struggling to be positive about an album that is going to get lost in the shuffle.
The thing is I like the Wigsville Spliffs and feel that for old times sake I should be more positive, but I want something a bit fresher, maybe something unexpected from them.
Just a slight twist that would have shaken things up a bit.
Apart from the title track nothing much is grabbing me and one track out of twelve isn't what I would describe as a good batting average.
Forever Young, a supposed album highlight, has as much life in it as a three day old used condom lying in the gutter.
The album as a whole is bland, bland, bland.
I sincerely doubt that it will get another spin.

Moonshine Reunion - Tired of Drivin'

Tired of Drivin' is the sound I hear in my head when the term Americana is rolled out.
The twang of the guitar, the wide open roads, the top down, the wind in your hair as the desert slips past to your left and right. Stopping off at a juke joint bar where the beer is cold and the ladies all want to dance the night away.
It's evocative of a time and place that probably doesn't exist except in the minds of us Europeans who hanker after this mythical star spangled shangri-la.
That it doesn't exist isn't important though because you can just slip this album on, sit back and let the boys of Moonshine Reunion paint the pictures for you.
A couple of songs in and you are there. With your eyes closed it feels real.
To do this takes a great deal of talent.
For me it's like a form of alchemy. Taking some instruments and spinning aural gold from them.
This is yet another magical album from Drunkabilly records that proves that are at the top of the game in seeking out talent that exists off the beaten track.
More power to them, and of course Moonshine Revival.
You can grab a listen here
Try Dirty old town and see what you think.

The Baboons - Back Scratch

The Baboons are back.
Not the Swedish female fronted punk rockers, although they're pretty damn good to, but instead the Belgian purveyors of rockin' rhythm and blues.
It's good to hear from them to.
If you ask me everyone could do with The Baboons in their life.
Previously I suggested that to people, but now I'm insisting.
While their debut was a firm favourite around these here parts this has just jumped forward and given it a clean KO.
Boogie Curse is on the canvas and Back Scratch is doing a victory dance with it's arms aloft in a champion salute.
This is not the album I expected at all.
I was looking forward to just more of the same, not this down and dirty beast.
Take some garage sounds, add a bit of soulful blues and imagine a “Copy Cat” era Johnny Thunders getting down and dirty with Imelda May on the dance floor while the guys from Jim Jones Revue sip on whiskey and nod in appreciation to the cool tunes getting played and you will get the vibe that these guys have managed to nail down.
This is the sort of party that Back Scratch is.
It's cool, it's hot. It's outta sight daddio.
Between the previous album and this these guys have laid down some pretty solid foundations for an interesting career. So get in on the ground floor cool cats.
Don't make me tell you twice.
(Drunkabilly Records.)

Spellbound - Stir it up

Twenty five years have past since Spellbound got together as lads in Ireland looking to stir it up. Twenty five long hard years of playing pubs, clubs and festivals that has stood them in good stead as they are now at a point where they can make real the musical ideas that they have in their heads.
I don't mean that they couldn't previously, but instead this hard won experience has allowed them to avoid the pitfalls that so many of their peers fall into, and along with their label “Drunkabilly Records” they have managed to record a finely tuned slab of 'billy music.
It would be unfair to simply call them a psychobilly, rockabilly or even neo rockabilly band as they encompass all the sub genres and in doing so provide a melting pot sound of all that is good about the quiff laden, bass slappin' scenes that they are defining here.
Album opener “Ballad of Bobby Kane” provides a good example of this. A cinematic sounding country styled acoustic track that sounds like it could have came straight out of a revamped Sun studio.
It would have been easy for them to then continue in this vein throughout the rest of the album, but instead they flesh out the 'billy skeleton of “Soulcatcher” with some ska toned muscle that strikes a balance that should manage to attract a crossover audiences from fans of both styles, and then they slip into fan favourite “Old School Boogie”. A track that could put a smile on the face of anyone who has been mired in supporting all that hangs onto a rock and roll vibe.
I suppose it would be fair to say that the first three tracks provide an excellent example of what the band are all about.
They aren't going to be pushed into a neat little scenester box, and instead of fitting in with what the perceived sound should be by those lurking in an unimaginative cul-de-sac they are instead opening up themselves to explore anything that takes their fancy.
Have a listen to their version of The Doors classic “People Are Strange for a reference point of their magpie tendencies.
While adding an out of left field cover now seems to be de rigeur for 'billy bands on virtually every album released it's refreshing to hear a band that get it, and therefore make the song a worthwhile addition rather than one that sounds like the black sheep of the family when lined up with the other songs.
What we have here is an a well rounded album that older fans will key into and newer ones will use as a jumping off point to explore their past from.
Not bad for some old timers from the emerald isle. I think I'll have to buy it myself as the promo version doesn't feature the bonus DVD.

Michael Monroe / Voodoo Six - Glasgow Garage (15/4/11)

Due to partaking of the late afternoon acoustic show we rolled into the Garage just in time to catch the last song of Voodoo Six.
Now the rock press have been very complimentary about this band, but people I know who have seen them far less so.
Truth be told I've not heard a good word about them as a live band from anyone.
I gave them a listen prior to the show and thought that the heavy metal tag was a bit unfair as to me they sounded like a classic Brit rock band.
So I was happy to go against the flow of common opinion if they did manage to push some of my buttons.
Strange days though as the metal tag obviously derives from them playing as a live band and not from their studio work.
It's all Iron Maiden posturing and the worst stereotypical behaviour of when the NWOBHM was riding the crest of a wave of spandex.
No wonder Steve Harris likes them. It must be like a visual reminder of his glory days.
To say I was underwhelmed would be an overstatement.
Over the course of one single solitary song they managed to confirm all the worst criticisms that I had heard about them.
I've had to file them away as a band that I will try my damnedest never to see live again.
One song was more than enough.

Michael Monroe with his band are a whole different story.
It's been a career of highs and lows for all of them.
At times some of them would maybe be happy to accept that they have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory a couple of times each.
They have all experienced that moment when everything was just about to click into place, but didn't for a multitude of reasons.
Michael himself seen Hanoi Rocks implode after the death of Razzle, then spearheaded a reunion that while it impressed the fans never managed to capitalize on their previous promise.
Less a lack of quality, but more so being out of place and out of time.
A sad indication of how good music can fall to the wayside if it doesn't tick the “what is currently fashionable” boxes.
Sami Yaffa shares his experiences with Michael as part of the original Hanoi Rocks, and then again as someone who along with Steve Conte injected life into the reformed New York Dolls.
If anyone wishes to disagree with that then a little listen to their latest album will provide enough evidence to show that Steve and Sami were the beating rock and roll heart of the band, as without them the latest album and gigs have been rather.....well lets just tell it as it is and throw in the word bollocks.
Ginger Wildheart could be described as a songwriters songwriter. He can walk the talk effortlessly, but while he has had a good level of exposure here in the UK, he is still a much loved cult hero that deserves oh so much more recognition.
Steve Conte has a reputation for being a gun for hire. The upside of that is the big players like Paul Simon or the New York Dolls obviously don't pick anyone to play with them who can't deliver, but the downside is that working with these acts, and others, overshadows his own material.
Basically I'm of the opinion that if Steve is singing and playing guitar in a band then it can be classed as a stamp of excellence. The man has soul. Something that appears to be lacking in the increasingly sterile world of popular music.
Karl Rockfist probably carries more of the burden of striving to claim recognition for his talents.
Drummers always do. He's played with Danzig and then with the fantastic Chelsea Smiles. A band that should have adorned the cover of every rock magazine in the world, but didn't.
So here they all are together.
Hungry for what they are due and with a studio album under their belts that shows that they can deliver collectively on all the promise they show individually.....and is Glasgow up for it?
Hell yeah.
From the moment they hit the stage with Trick of the Wrist, and I mean hit it like a heat seeking missile, the crowd goes nuts.
This is what people are wanting.
There's no airs or graces, no false posturing, just real solid rock and roll played with passion.
Michael covers every inch of the stage and has enough energy to run a city off of.
Ginger is all heads down taking care of business and if Steve grins any wider there a danger that his top lip may slip over his forehead.
Sami is pounding the beat out and Karl has sweat flying from his hair within seconds of attacking the skins.
This attitude to playing relentlessly never slows for one second throughout the show.
There's little time to speak to the audience as one song jumps at hyperspeed into the next.
It's telling that about four songs in, when the first of the Hanoi tracks is played, what much of the love in the room is reserved for.
Motorvatin' with it's bass line intro pushed the crowd to the limit, but there's no letting up at all.
Hammersmith Palais sounds as fresh as the day I first heard it and is book ended with 78.
These songs are both peas from the same pod.
Nothin's Alright is a sweat drenched party of awesomeness. It just goes on and on.
A marathon of rock and roll excess.
By the time the Damned songs come along some people are flagging, but not the band.
Dysfunctional sounds tougher than I have ever heard it played, while the brace of Hanoi Rocks songs “Back to Mystery City” and “Malibu Beach Nightmare” prove that with the right people playing them that they are bonafide classics.
The set finishes with an exhaustive run through of Dead Jail, or Rock'n'Roll, but the Glasgow crowd aren't sated yet and vocally make their point known.
Johnny Thunders “I wanna be loved” is kicked about the stage to rapturous applause and roars of approval while “Life gets you dirty” allows everyone time to search for a second wind before Ginger assumes vocal duties and Michael takes to the drums for Blitzkrieg Bop.
It's a bit of a fuck up as the mic cuts out, but Glasgow are up for carrying the vocal duties until it kicks back in and it is obvious that no one sees this as a blip in an otherwise perfect execution of how rock and roll should be played, but instead a serendipitous opportunity to participate and pull our weight along with the band in communal appreciation of what they have just given us.
So far these guys have delivered the best album of the year and now the best gig.
If you think I'm wrong.
Then you weren't there.
It's as simple as that.

Michael Monroe - Rock Radio Secret Acoustic Session (15/4/11)

It's all a bit of a last minute scramble.
Phone calls, text messages, a bit of a hike and then a jump on the tube to get to the secret (or not so secret if you actually live in Glasgow) location for the Rock Radio acoustic session that Michael Monroe is doing with his band.
My heart is in my mouth with excitement, but there's a bit of a surreal ambience about the proceedings.
I'm used to seeing Michael Monroe playing to adoring fans in sweaty clubs with everything cranked up to eleven, but this session is in an old church in front of a smattering of excited fans, competition winners and industry insiders out for an afternoons free entertainment.
The latter unfortunately seem to outnumber the former about three to one.
I suspect that they would turn up to the opening of an envelope if there was a drink in it and the chance to get their photograph taken with a celebrity.
Thankfully Michael, Sami, Steve, Ginger, Karl, and the fans who do get in carry enough attitude with them to create the sort of buzz that is normally associated with a rock and roll gig.
There's a cool introduction from Tom Russell to kick it all off.
For those who don't know he's Scotland's master of ceremonies when it comes to rock music.
Our answer to Tommy Vance or the US's Rodney Bingenheimer.
The epitome of grizzled rock and roll cool.
The band themselves are of course the main attraction and soon take to their stools and with a very short chat eased into Lightning Bar Blues, and it's a very fine rendition of the Arlo Guthrie tune.
Done acoustically it sounds far closer to the original version that's on Hobo's Lullaby than the Hanoi take of it.
A perfect start in fact, and I honestly can't think of another song that they could have played that would have set the tone so clearly for the concept of playing an acoustic slot like this.
Superpowered Superfly fits like a glove as a follow up to.
The influence of Ginger is stamped throughout the song. If it was a stick of Blackpool rock and you broke it in half it would say Ginger inside it.
The Wildhearts fans who were there would not be disappointed with the twist that Michael gives it with his unique vocal approach either. Within the space of two songs it is very apparent that the newer material is just as strong as anything that anyone would claim to be a classic from Michaels illustrious back catalogue.
The Demolition 23 song “You Crucified Me” gets a timely brushing off next and serves to link the present to the past as Sensory Overdrive is an album that reeks of Michael and Sami's previous band.
The understated drumming from Karl underpins everything and adds another dimension to how the songs can be presented.
He seems to be a bit of an unsung hero in the band, but without him I sincerely believe they may not sound like they do.
All hail Karl.
78 from the new album also works well as an acoustic workout. As impressive as it was I was even more impressed in hindsight when Tom Russell told everyone that it was a last minute addition to the set that had never been tried up until that afternoon.
Blitzkrieg Bop, with its countrified feel, is a joy to behold being played, and by the end of it I'm sure that many of the liggers there who didn't know who the band were would have been starting to consider how they were going to get into the Garage for the full electric experience later on.
Hopefully the band can see the worth in this sort of take on the material and the next official release we see from them is an acoustic ep.
Hell. They could do a whole album. They have enough material between them all to pick from
That would be something to treasure and I'd certainly put my cash down for a copy.

Footage of the whole show is below in yesterdays post.
Photograph is from the Garage show later in the evening.

Big thank you to Tara and CJ for all their help on the day. Mucho stars.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Michael Monroe - Secret Acoustic Session - Glasgow (15/4/11)

The review is still to follow, but here's all five songs from a secret acoustic session that Michael Monroe and his band played yesterday in a church in Glasgow.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

El Diablo in conversation with Steve Conte

Steve Conte has a rock and roll CV that most people would need a couple of lifetimes at the coal face of rock to match.
From working with Paul Simon and Willy DeVille to The New York Dolls and Michael Monroe he has been there and bought the t-shirt.
Along with his brother he also brought us the criminally under rated Company of Wolves, Contes and Crown Jewels and then more recently on his own The Crazy Truth.
It would seem fair to say that he has supped from the fountain of prodigious talent and it was a great pleasure for me to meet up with him last December and shoot the breeze.
So without further ado. I give you Mr Steve Conte.

ElD - An extraordinary amount of stuff has happened over the last few years.
SC - Yeah. My record “Steve Conte and the Crazy Truth came out in 2009 and I'm on my second tour of the UK right now. It's going great but very, very cold, and next time I'll tour in the spring or early fall. Not December. Never December again.

ElD - Are you finding it difficult fitting in doing your own thing while doing so much for other people?
SC - Well it's a constant back and forth. I do love to do both. I love to do my own thing. I love to sing, write songs and be the guy, but I also like to play behind other people and let someone else drive and do the worrying, and yeah, just play my guitar.

ElD - I took in one of the shows on the Motorhead tour and I've got to be honest, Motorhead just didn't do it for me this time but the Michael Monroe performance was a definite highlight and it looked like you picked up quite a few new fans.
SC - I think so. I wondered you know. Motorhead fans are so hardcore, like a bunch of heavy dudes with their leathers and black t-shirts...
ElD - and cultivated beer belly's.
SC - Ha, yeah exactly, I thought how's it going to go down with this pretty blonde singer, but Michael is an animal,. An absolute maniac and then I think that when people see him perform they go “ okay, now I know why he's with Motorhead” because he's just a nut.

ElD - Michael's band has just clicked into place. It's like a real super-group.
It actually reminds me of the bands in the seventies when some big names would all get together and form a new group that would blow everyone away, although they rarely did. Yet in this case, with yourself, Sami, Ginger and Karl it works doesn't it.
SC - Yeah. I think so. Wait until you hear the record though. That's going to open some eyes.

ElD - Well I've seen Hanoi Rocks a number of times over the years and I don't think I've heard Hanoi's material being played with the amount of passion or energy that was shown on the Motorhead tour. That's not to belittle ex members as I'm a committed fan. It's just it felt to me that everything was taken to another level when you all approached the material
SC - Well I'd never seen Hanoi play, but the Dolls were on a festival with them once and you hear the stories and I sort of knew where Andy McCoy's head was at and that would have gave Hanoi a certain feel while we have a different dynamic in the band. I've met Andy and he's definitely what you would call a character, and you know I can see how that could get in the way of you really wanting to fuckin' deliver.
A lot of people get like that, a little complacent, and maybe lazy and “oh I'm a legend and people should be lucky to come and see me fart on stage”, but I've never been like that.
Maybe there's something in that.

ElD - Well now that you have mentioned the Dolls I know someone in Newcastle who had told me prior to anyone setting foot in a studio that Sami and yourself weren't going to be involved in the recording of their latest album. Were you disappointed in this?
SC – Were you disappointed?
ElD – Truth be told. Yes I was. Very much so.
SC - Well the way it happened was, and I haven't said this in print, and a lot of people do ask me “did I quit the Dolls” and I say no because it's true, I didn't quit them and they didn't let me go either. The way it was is that I just got busy with Michael.
When the Dolls wasn't so busy Sami and I just needed something to do.
We have this energy and need to keep working. We want to get out there and play music and there was a time when there really wasn't much going on with the Dolls and we told them that we were going to work with Michael and then when things picked up again with the Dolls we....
ElD – weren't in a position to be available?
SC - Yeah. That's it. I had already booked myself for the next few months
I was always asking “hey guys I'm going to do this. Is anything happening” and they would say no.
So when they finally called I had already booked myself up and just couldn't do it.
I mean we started our album on the same exact day as the Dolls. The manager called and said we start September 6th in Newcastle and I said “that aint going to work. We start September 6th in Los Angeles”. So it was clearly just a case of not being able to do it.
There was no hard feeling.
I spoke to Sylvain and played phone tag with David, but Sylvain and I had a good conversation. It wasn't even like....well it was left vague you know. The way I take it is if they need me then they can call me. I love the guys.
ElD – I'll ask you one more question about the Dolls and then we can move on. It's not something you seem to be asked, but did you ever get tired of being asked about stepping into Johnny Thunders boots because you are two very different guitarists. Different eras even. As a fan I would personally read interviews and see the same tired old question rolled out and think to myself that maybe they should be asking you about “Steve Conte” and not a predecessor?
SC – (Laughing) Oh sorry. Did I yawn? You know I think you just said it all.
ElD – Well the first couple of times it's fine, but after that.....?
SC - Yeah. After the first album.
I mean I had a lot of really nice compliments from a lot of really fuckin' high up people that I respect like Chrissie Hynde and Mick Jones.
Even after we did the Royal Festival Hall I wasn't quite sure what to expect and when these people came up and told me what a great job they thought I did I was like “Okay. I guess this is all right.”
ElD – I remember the first time that you came to Glasgow and I interviewed Sami and he was just so excited about playing and then when I seen the show I could see why. It was a band. Not hired guns, but a real band all working together. For me it drew a line under the Dolls of the past and opened the door for a Dolls mark II.
SC – Well me and Sami are just guys who are excited about playing and we brought that to the Dolls and we bring it to Michaels band to and we are a good team.

ElD – I'd like to move onto the Crazy Truth now.
Is the name from the Bukowski poem?
SC - It is. I was looking through some Bukowski poems and I seen one called The Crazy Truth and while its not a really unique Bukowski title it jumped out at me. Steve Conte and the Crazy Truth sort of fitted the songs that are all about shit that really happened in New York and it all just worked well.
ElD – I bought the album from you the last time you were in Glasgow and it has sort of came full circle for me. At first I thought that it was like a real New York sounding album, and then as time went on I started thinking that here was something else thrown into the mix and it sounded less like a New York sound, but then it sort of dawned on me that the city is a huge melting pot of influences and so it does reflect it as a whole.
You listen to one song and Willy DeVille is in there......
SC - The Spanish thing. A latin sound. I didn't necessarily...well. I don't know where I picked that up. As I kid I would hear it and in the last few years I've hung out with Spanish guys and flamenco artists so Indie Girl and Busload of hope have that Latino feel and while I'm not Spanish, I'm Italian and that's close enough.
ElD – Are you proud of it?
SC – Yeah. I am. Especially since my goal was not to polish it up. It took a long time to do the album in between touring with the Dolls, not because I was labouring over it and trying different parts and erasing, layering things. It was because I wouldn't be home for six months and then I would be home for a week and do two vocals and then be back on the road again.
So I was determined not to polish it up too much and leave the performances as they were. I did some editing, but kept it raw. Maybe overdubbed one or two things on a track. Nothing tricky.

ElD – In your own career you have moved about a bit. Side steps even. So is The Crazy truth just one step, a one off or is there going to be a second album.
SC. Interesting. I've been doing an acoustic album over the last few years when I've been on the road with the Dolls. I started two years ago.
It takes me so long to get anything out because I don't go okay I need to go and write an album, record an album and then put it out.
ElD – Three weeks in the studio, everyone there and that's it?
SC – Yeah. Like that would be a luxury to do it like that. It been like steal a few hours hear and another few the next week. I'm definitely not the most disciplined person although I have thousands of songs to choose from. It's just that it's overwhelming sometimes to. When you get home from touring you just want to chill out with your family and friends. So that takes precedence.
ElD – Well that leads me on nicely to what I wanted to ask next. You put up regular posts on facebook and mention your family. As a father how difficult is it to be away for so long on tour. How difficult is it to sort of reconnect?
SC – Well I have never been away for so long, but even three weeks is difficult. The longest I have been away from my son is five week and that was.... well it's long.
I can imagine these guys like Springsteen who tour for six months, a year and then they are gone, but I suppose if you make that sort of money you can fly them out for a week.
ElD. Kel and myself went to see Springsteen and he had his son on tour with him. He came on and done a couple of songs at the end of the show, but he's an adult now so it is different.
SC – Huh. I'm always waiting for that moment when I can say “My family needs to come. We want our own bus” (Laughing)
ElD – Did the birth of your son reshape your life?
SC – Oh yeah. Huge. It makes you put your priorities in different places as it's not just about me any more. It's about my wife and our little guy.
ElD – Going back to the messages on facebook. Do you feel it is breaking down barriers between artists and fans by posting directly to them. A good example is that a few weeks ago you mentioned you had some plans, but ended up working on the patio with your father in law. I mean we don't hear what Mick Jagger is doing to that extent.
SC – The jury is out on it really. Does it make you too familiar to your public, or does it add another dimension? All the young bands are doing it to so you feel that it's just the way of the world. I'm on the road and I've got my laptop and it something else to do when you're bored to. Connect with people.
ElD- It good self promotion though.
SC - Yeah. It shows a human side to. There are certain people who would never twitter, but I'm surprised at how many people who do. Even people I admire and you can engage with them and I think about that as people are fans of what I do, and I'm a fan of what other people do. You know?
ElD – So what's the score with Ginger and you? You both seem to be getting on like a house on fire. A Jagger and Richards deal. A down market Glimmer twins.
SC - (Laughing) Whose Jagger and whose Richards?
ElD – Is he your new heterosexual soul mate.
SC -. Fuck. Ha. Well we definitely relate to each other and we have already talked about doing an album together. We have a name, a title, a producer in mind.
Eld – Give us an exclusive.
SC. No. No. Ha. Can't yet. We need to have a press conference for that.
Lets just say that it is based on a lot of the music we have in common and I've also discovered a lot of great bands through him. Last week it was the Rezillos. Incredible band, and he has been going on and on about Sparks recently and yeah. I knew Sparks, but as a kid I never went out to the store and put down my bucks.
ElD – Sometimes things just by pass you.
SC – Yeah. When the Dolls did the festival Hall it was Nancy Sinatra and Sparks playing on the bill, but I was so busy getting the Dolls stuff down that I never really payed attention to what was going on, but I've just reignited a love affair with them.
ElD - There's just so much out there. You can't explore it all can you?
SC - That's it, and Gingers such a music guy he throws something different up all the time.
He's a great marketer and does what he has to do to. He knows how to take care of business, but first and foremost he's a music lover and that's why we get on so well.

By this point things had warmed up rather well and I suppose we could have put the world to rights, but it was time for Steve to go and play.
In reflection, going over it in your head in hindsight, he comes across as a nice guy. An honest and decent well grounded guy.
Maybe a bit reticent at first to open up, but that goes with the territory, and then that disappears as his enthusiasm for what he does takes over and he can't really hide his love of performing, playing with people and even on a personal level his love for his family and admiration for his friends.
Sometimes interviewing people is like a job, but occasionally it's a pleasurable experience and this was one of them.

Thanks Steve.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Iggy Pop - American Idol

Of course he's an American idol. He's Iggy Pop, but c'mon.
We can forgive much. Butter ads from the punk glitterati, insurance ads from Mr Pop himself, but is this a step too far?
As self promotion goes an appearance on a show like this can push record sales for someone with a new album out, or even revitalize the career of a pop star of yesteryear whose popularity is slipping, but what would Iggy get out of it?
He's not got an album to sell, and even with his legendary status he is, and always will be, an outsider to the mainstream.
There's nothing wrong with the performance as it's Iggy by numbers.
It's just that while I would personally love everyone to get into Iggy, and through him The Stooges, I don't think this show is really the vehicle for that.
Even the addition of Tyler as a very obvious lure to the rockier demographic is pathetically staged.
I'm all for self expression and even giving the run of the mill drones a bloody nose with a punktastic performance that catches them out from leftfield, but I'm not feeling it here. This doesn't comes across as subversive or even as a tongue in cheek fuck you performance.
It's confused me why the fuck he would want to do it.