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Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Blondie - Panic of Girls

We're nearly halfway through the year and a common theme seems to be developing as I wrap my ears around the latest releases, and that common theme is that the old guard are the ones leading the way.
First it was The Cars returning after a very long hiatus with an album that was built to impress, and now here's Blondie back after eight years with an album that wipes the floor with the hit and miss previous studio outing that was 'The Curse of Blondie'.
'Panic of Girls' is the sound of Blondie back on track, and boy does it feel good.
It stuffed full of songs that have that classic Blondie sound, and it proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that there's still a great deal of life left in the band.
It's funky, it's punky and it's got it's groove on.
Opening track D-Day is a clash of electro pop and the decadence of the disco scene. It's a huge sultry wink and a middle fingered salute all at the same time. It's a come on and a brush off that leaves your head spinning.
Then there's the pop enhanced reggae of Girlie Girlie that will have you cracking a huge summer smile at it's tongue in cheek bravado.
The harder edged perfection of 'Mother' stands out as the track that would have been the perfect follow on from 'Maria' and then there is more, much more.
So much more that you could drown in the landslide of guitars, drums, keyboards and Deborah's voice.
If anyone needed an album that would serve to bury the bad memories of 'The Hunter' for good then here it is.
On No Exit and The Curse of Blondie the band showed that they still had it in them to release a classic album.
Certain songs hinted at it and now we have Panic of Girls as the fully rounded out sound of Blondie firing on all cylinders.
Vive le Blondie motherfuckers.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Bunch o' Bankers by Rabbie Burns

Oh ye cunts, ye durty bastards.
ye dipped ma pocket till I hadnay a penny.
Then you spent it oan wine wimmen and song a plenty
Brought the beggin' bowl oot and asked fer mair.
spent that and claimed it fair.
Oh ye cunts, ye durty bastards.

Interesting article here.
Madeleine Bunting
Madeleine Bunting
The Guardian, Monday 30 May 2011
Article history

The award-winning documentary film Inside Job does for banking what An Inconvenient Truth did for climate change. It's an hour and 20 minutes that quietly and clearly documents the appalling corruption that brought the global economy to the brink of collapse. Made by American Charles Ferguson, it is about to be released as a DVD in the UK. It needs to go viral, and kickstart public pressure on the faltering Vickers commission on banking reform. As the film points out, each banking crisis in the last 25 years of deregulation has been progressively bigger and costlier, culminating in the massive bailout of 2008. Yet effective reform has stalled, all the key players and institutions are still in place: business as usual.

This is the most disturbing aspect of the film – a political system in paralysis. Not one financial institution or individual has been prosecuted for the biggest bank theft ever; the executives who resigned from their collapsing banks in 2008 walked away with their vast fortunes intact. There has been no effective calling to account on either side of the Atlantic; both the UK and the US have repeatedly brought in bankers to run inquiries or act as advisers to sort out the bankers' mess, with predictable results – caution and status quo. Despite the biggest economic crisis for decades, the idea of a royal commission has got lost in long grass. It has been left to film and books to tell us what happened and why, and how to stop it ever happening again.

The paralysis doesn't mean there aren't plenty of angry people. Anger is everywhere – on the street, and among experts, regulators and economists, and even in political institutions; Ferguson's film showed incensed members of Congress asking the key questions of embarrassed bankers. In the UK the outspoken criticism of the banks has spread into the most powerful of positions, from the governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, to Adair Turner, chair of the Financial Services Authority.

Outrage against the banks is no longer a leftwing hobby; across the media there is an increasingly frantic desperation from commentators, even in such unlikely hotbeds of revolution as the Evening Standard, where the admirably infuriated Anthony Hilton declared recently: "Our problems were wholly caused by the greed and irresponsibility of some in the financial community. But the culture has not changed ... What more will it take?" He may well ask.

What indeed? Where are the riots? The mass protests? On Saturday, UK Uncut organised emergency events around the country in which activists took over their local banks and turned them into hospitals. It was a clever attempt to link NHS cuts with the banks, and it serves to underline how much easier it has been to engage the public in the equally technical issue of NHS reform, but it failed to catch the attention needed. Anger with the banks is widespread but diffuse, confused as to what to ask for. It doesn't have the political vehicle to get traction with the public.

Yet evidence emerges on a weekly basis of the banks' outrageous behaviour. Last week it was announced that they were failing to meet their own agreed levels of lending under Project Merlin, the one quid-pro-quo for their huge taxpayer-funded support. They are strangling the economy (as Polly Toynbee wrote on these pages at the weekend), while ripping off customers with insurance scams and poor service, and creaming off the profits. Just over 200 "core" staff at Barclays took home £554m last year, while thousands of shareholders, who had lent £51bn of equity capital, were left with £653m in dividends. This is an ongoing institutionalised bank raid.

The scale of the injustice is so blatant, the risks ahead of failing to reform now clearly defined by so many, that it beggars belief that our political system cannot generate the pressure to defy the banks and their implausible threats to relocate. (Frankly, what country would want the risk of taking them on, given how they have near-bankrupted their current hosts?) No one would ever have predicted this strange inertia, and I'm not sure many can fully explain it now.

There are some obvious important explanations. Firstly, finance has intertwined itself intimately into the political process in both the US and the UK. Lobbying has ensured some crucial reform initiatives hit the buffers. Between 1998 and 2008 the finance industry in the US spent $5bn on lobbying. Spinwatch monitors the close links between finance and politics, but repeated Freedom of Information requests on the dinners and meetings with senior politicians such as Boris Johnson reveal nothing of the content of discussions.

Secondly, there's been failure across the political establishment: while the coalition has diverted popular anger on to Labour and blamed bloated public spending for our financial woes, Labour has lamentably failed to put its head above the parapet.

The collective failure smells of fear: that the City could lose competitiveness if regulation steps out of line with the US; fear that Britain has few other competitive advantages and for all the talk of rebalancing the economy away from finance, no one is sure how you do it and everyone is worried that the short-term would be bumpy. Without political leadership, the public has got repeatedly distracted by comparatively trivial political issues – discussing duck ponds and moats while a tsunami threatens.

But the biggest puzzle is the public. The enormous advertising campaigns of the banks must play a role; some say the total spend last year was around £30m. The cutesy animation and friendly "real" bank staff must work at some level to delude the public, to calm and reassure that all is as normal. It's trading on some folk memory of banks as sober and reliable. Add to that the massive patronage – of the arts, sport and good works – in the last few decades designed to inspire shock and awe.

This public deference is also evident in how effectively the banks have used complexity and expertise to dodge accountability. "You wouldn't understand" was the mantra provided to regulators, politicians and the public, just as priests in a cult might tell devotees. The complexity required a superior intelligence and skill, insisted the "masters of the universe", as they recruited the sharpest minds. This is a version of the meritocracy against which Michael Young warned so presciently in 1958, using a phrase that has been stubbornly misunderstood ever since. He recognised that meritocracy was a form of elitism; it could be as ruthlessly exploitative as aristocracy and, in both, deference and patronage play integral roles. It's worth remembering that Young predicted revolution by the disfranchised against the meritocracy – but not until 2033.

Last week the New Economics Foundation and Compass brought together a diverse and passionate coalition to formulate an agenda for banking reform. Its determination and energy had something of the flavour of the early meetings of the debt relief campaign for the developing world in the 90s. That comparison is not exact but it is instructive: it's going to need a huge public education programme to convince people that the reality of banking is far crazier than anyone can imagine – which is where Inside Job can help – and furthermore, that leaving reform to the experts is a recipe for inaction. Of course what may pre-empt all of that is another crisis, another bailout, this time accompanied by the blind rage that emerges when the idea of reform no longer seems credible.

Swingin' Utters - Here, Under Protest.

Pretty sweet return from the Californian punksters Swingin' Utters.
Especially as they seem to have spread their wings a bit, and decided that the harder edged punk pop that they've always been known for is yesterdays news to an extent.
So instead of repackaging, or reheating, past glories here they are dipping their toes into a smorgasbord of punky aural delights.
Bloody good toe tapping stuff it is to.
There's a bit of Bad Religions sound in there, and a nod to the street punk of Rancid.
No surprise in any of that because they all spawn from the same west coast gene pool, but the main surprise is in how they are doing it.
This is shrink wrap fresh and along with the recent Face to Face release it's breathing fresh air into what everyone thought was a stagnant scene limping along on it's last legs.
When I was listening to it I was thinking that if they pulled a stunt like The Alarm did, and released it under a different name with some young emo styled punks playing the part of the band for a video then MTV would be jumping all over it claiming them to be the young guns who would be spearheading a US punk rock revival.
Much of the attraction is down to them delivering their most varied sound to date, and the praise for the added oomph shouldn't be held back.
This is a damn fine album, and the best that they have ever managed to pull out of the hat.
It's as if they have stripped everything down to basics and rebuilt it, trimmed anything superfluous to the sound from it all and bolstered it with a newly found sense of maturity.
In a sense you could say it's the rebirth of the band.

Aerosmith - Tough Love (Best of the Ballads)

For fucks sake please leave this horse alone.
It's been flogged, resuscitated and flogged again.
It's had paddles strapped to its chest and been shocked back to life only to be flogged to death yet again, and if Romero could reanimate it then I reckon the Aerosmith guys would flog its zombie corpse from here to hell and back again.
Does the world really need another Aerosmith compilation?
It's not even full of ballads as the title would lead you to believe.
It's just another best of.
A very obvious one at that.
The trades description people should be told about this.
I've not been keeping score, but surely they must be creeping ever closer to having more compilation releases than proper studio albums.
Is there anyone out there who doesn't have every song on this?
I mean who is this really going to appeal to?
Are there any bored housewives left out there that need this, any Clarkson wannabes who want to blast out Angel with the windows down as they travel the hard worn road to a mid life crisis?
It's only saving grace is it's better than Steven Tylers latest solo release.
A pointless money grabber.

Don't rain on the parade MF!

Interesting things going on tonight.
All round nice guy Ginger Wildheart had put his guitar up for auction on ebay with all the proceeds raised going to the British Red Cross.
A laudable thing to do in anyone's book I'd presume.
Well anyone's book bar an admin of the Michael Monroe Facebook page. An individual who took it upon themselves to remove a link to the auction.
Now Ginger has been very clear in explaining to his fans, and the fans of Michael Monroe, that Michael himself doesn't deal with the facebook page, and it's run by his management, but regardless of this it would seem to be a very silly move that could have an impact on how someone perceives themselves as a member of the band.
Anyone would be forgiven to thinking that they were little more than a hired gun.
There's been enough rumours flying about as it is of Ginger feeling unhappy with his role in the band, and while he hasn't publicly made these claims himself, we, as fans, know that he has a wandering spirit and playing guitar in Michaels band is only ever going to work as long as he has the opportunity to work on other projects, and devote time to following his own musical lead.
So way to go in fucking up a band dynamic you faceless twat.
That the auction raised £17,000 for a worthy cause is a fantastic upside to this, but I'm hoping with fingers crossed that the ridiculous behaviour of one person doesn't act as a catalyst for Ginger to say sayonara to Michael and the boys.
Sensory Overdrive is the best thing that Michael has done in years and that is down to the mix of writers on board. Five individuals who can walk the walk and talk the talk, a real rock and roll super group that has delivered on all the promise that we had expected.
All this may now hang in the balance because some Grinch like tosser couldn't bring themselves to allow a link to a charity auction remain on their employers facebook page.
I'm going to be interested in how all this plays out.
It's cast a shadow over what should have been an undiluted by negativity celebration of kindness.
Just as an aside. Congratulations to whoever it was that won the guitar. I hope the guitar and the contribution you made to charity makes you feel like a double winner.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Ginger Wildheart - Potatoes and You (Free download)

To celebrate the forthcoming second leg of his acoustic tour Ginger Wildheart has made available the acoustic album 'Potatoes and You'.

Recorded at TJ's in Newport, Wales during an acoustic tour in 2005, this album was released as a tour only CD, and was sold on subsequent acoustic tours, but never in shops or Itunes.

For a limited time you can download for FREE. Just enter 'zero' as the amount here

The tour dates are as follows.

Ginger Acoustic Tour August 2011

16th Aug Wrexham, Central Station
17th Aug Stoke, Sugarmill
18th Aug Bolton, Dog & Partridge
19th Aug Newcastle, Academy 2
20th Aug Huddersfield, Parish
21st Aug Bedford, Esquires
22nd Aug Oxford, Academy 2
23rd Aug Brighton, Hydrant
24th Aug Exeter, Cavern
25th Aug Plymouth, White Rabbit

March of the machines

Readers of the blog will know that I'm no fan of the automated self service tills in stores, but for those who thought my 'the end is nigh' forewarnings were unwarranted then check this out.

McDonald's restaurants in Europe will soon be swapping the chain's legendary "service with a smile" with "service with a beep." European McDonald's restaurants are preparing to replace cashiers with touch screen computers at terminals where customers will be able to order up their hamburgers and fries and pay with credit cards.

About 7,000 of the fast food franchise's locations in the United Kingdom will be fitted with the touch screen technology, which aims to make the McDonald's experience more convenient and accommodating.

The touch screen method of ordering will improve efficiency and make the average transaction three to four seconds faster for each customer, Steve Easterbrook, president of the European branch of McDonald's, told the Financial Times. Easterbrook didn't provide a date for when the touch screens, which were inspired by a trip to Japan, will be introduced to UK McDonald's restaurants.

The new terminals will also phase out cash as an accepted payment method, as the machines will only take credit and debit cards. No word yet on whether McDonald's in the United States will be next in line to replace cashiers with computers, but the addition doesn't seem to be part of the ongoing $1-billion makeover of the company's U.S. restaurants.

Now obviously there are still those who will say 'so what' and dance along on their merry way using these tools of the devil, and if they can be bothered maybe they will ask what has it to do with them, but I'll tell you what it has to do with them, and by extension you.
Do you work in a bar or restaurant?
If so then who do you think will be popping in for a pint or a meal when all the supermarkets and fast food outlets downsize their staff?
Do you think that it is just possibly this downsizing could have a knock on effect, and with less people going out to socialize that it may be possible that the bar or restaurant that you work in will then becomes non viable as a business concern due to the downturn in custom?
Maybe you could then find yourself unemployed to.
That's okay though.
You can join the ranks of the checkout staff and fast food workers in unemployed solidarity.
Do you work in retail?
Well if the opportunity of placing a self service machine is available to your employer do you think that they will think twice about cutting the wage bill while increasing the companies profits by implementing their use?
Of course they wont.
They can't even get it into their thick fuckin' skulls that the less people working means the less cash there is floating about and ultimately that means their profits will dip.
Oh wait a minute. If I can see that then surely they can to. So that means they simply don't give a shit, and they don't give a shit because the future doesn't concern them.
They want to increase the profits now and will happily ride that wave till it crashes on the beach leaving everyone else in the shit up to their necks while they forge ahead to the high ground cushioned from austerity from the cash they are making in the present.
This is the sort of people that we are dealing with, but then again when I go to the supermarket I see plenty of people using these self service tills without considering the long term effects.
It's like watching turkeys voting for Christmas.
Are you one of the turkeys?
You probably are, and if so then you might be taking a bit of offence at my describing you as such.
If you are then maybe you are getting a bit pissed off at your moronic attitude being shoved in your face.
Fuckin' tough.
Lets be honest here. Is there anybody who will not be affected by the introduction of these machines?
I don't think there is.
So maybe you could do yourself a favour and take your head out of your arse and think about how you are part of the problem here.
Is there a solution though?
Of course there is.
Don't bloody use them.
Look at what McDonalds is saying here. You could save up to 3 to 4 seconds in getting served.
Is that additional 3 to 4 seconds worth someone losing their job over?
It's the same with the supermarkets. They claim they will pass any saving they make onto the customer.
That's spin.
The truth is they are making savings by downsizing their staff and your tin of beans will be a penny cheaper.
That's it.
How much do you think you will save from your shopping from the introduction of these tills.
Maybe a quid a week, but for you to save that quid someone else could lose their job, drop well below the poverty line, maybe lose their home.
Get a grip people.
You are corroborating in this. They need you to use them for this to work to their benefit.
There is so much that people feel we have no say in. So many issues that we feel we are being ignored on, but it is in our power to stem this tide of profiteering at societies expense.
Can I make it any clearer than that?

If this has pushed you towards actually doing something then please feel free to spread it about, or at the very least raise the point with others.

Cancer support charity night

Well last night was the gig that I'd arranged to raise funds for Cancer Support, and I'm very pleased to say that the grand sum of £253 will now be added to the over all amount that will have been donated through a weeks worth of events.
It goes without saying that all the help from everyone involved was very much appreciated, but I reckon that they all need to be publicly thanked.
So here goes.
First the bands, Junkman's Choir, Kev Borracho (who turned up as a punter and ended up playing a couple of songs), Roscoe Vacant, The Paraffins, Ross Gilchrist, and Cal Murray.
None of this would have been possible without them.
Next, well huge kudos has to go to the venue itself. Jolly's Sports Bar/Dirty Martinis once again showed why it is the best local venue by far.
Apart from providing a venue for the gig, they also sorted out the pa and sound engineering for free. So a huge thanks has to go out to Dudge, Chris and Faither for all their help in making the night a success.
There's also certain individuals who deserve a mention to.
Budge for donating CDs to sell. Bobby Durnin for a more than generous donation, and last but not least my girlfriend Kelly who shook a bucket in face of everyone there throughout the night.
Now on with a review of sorts.
It was a casual and relaxed affair as everyone turned up to sound check. No one minded what the running order would be, and I left it to them to decide who wanted to play when and for how long.
First to take to the stage was Cal Murray.
I was suitably impressed with his solo work previously, but in a short space of time he has gained far more confidence in his own material, and I would argue that it's now time for him to get out there and start pushing hard at audiences.
I've seen others taking a similar approach to playing what could be described as acoustic folk punk, but they don't come close to the passion and talent that Cal has.
A stand out song for me was one about David Kato. The Ugandan gay rights activist who was murdered earlier this year.
Cals sentiments that love is universal rang very true and was delivered with heart on his sleeve honesty, and I guess it is this unpolished and honest approach to his song writing that will always separate him from the pack.
Quite simply a great set that showcased all his for communicating with an audience through his music.
I've already shouted from the rooftops about how good Ross Gilchrist is, and once again here he was living up to all the high praise that I've heaped on him.
Plucking at his guitar, slapping and knocking on the body of it while losing himself in the music is mesmerising to watch.
He's like Ayrshire's very own Brian Wilson, but without the sandpit, drug problems and mental health issues. A force of nature brimming with ideas and the talent to realize them.
The Paraffins for the uninitiated are actually a one man band and Billy Samson is the man, the myth, and the legend, behind the concept of what the 'band' does.
He's a singularly unique artist whose main intention seems to be to engage and bewilder the audience. As someone said to me 'this is what punk is all about', and it is.
The boundaries are pushed at, and pushed hard.
I genuinely can't put into words what it is he does.
There's howling going on, the playing of what looks like a novelty guitar sold to children, maracas being shook and some pretty disjointed dancing being done.
Some would describe it as avant guard, but I've always found anything described as such as being perversely impenetrable to an extent.
Yet with The Paraffins there's an accessibility there that leads you to think 'hey, I like this, but I don't know why.'
Next up was Roscoe Vacant, who due to suffering from a mild sore throat played a more sedate set than I've previously seen him do, and I enjoyed it. It's not a case of preferring one over the other, more so just appreciating the shading of the material.
The cover of the Ramones song 'I believe in miracles' was an apt inclusion for the night considering that it was all in aid of a cancer charity. Once again I would have to say that I don't think I've ever seen Roscoe Vacant play a less than great set.
All in, apart from raising cash for charity, the main thing that was highlighted from the nights entertainment is once again just how much raw talent there is in Ayrshire.
This is where the night deviated from what was advertised as a young man called Kev Borracho had turned up with his guitar in hand in in the spirit of punk fellowship took to the stage to rattle out a couple of tracks.
For a last minute addition he did the business with some raw acoustic folk punk songs.
It was just the two, but he fitted in well with the line up and I would personally have him back to play a longer set in the future.
The night belonged to Junkman's Choir's though.
With years of playing in bands that have led the way in promoting vibrant live music locally Junkman's Choir are the distilled essence of of what a Scottish band should be.
Their roots are on display and act like the bones that everything else is grafted onto, and what fleshes the skeleton out is everything from every corner of the globe.
With nothing more than an electric accordion, that can have a programmed drum track added to it, and an acoustic guitar, they can take you on a road trip that will stop off in Mexico, New Orleans, Jamaica or just about any other musical destination you care to choose.
There's sea shanties wresting with reggae, Rabbie Burns out on the lash with Joe Strummer and a great deal of howling at the moon going on.
If a tourist wondered into the bar and caught a load of this then they would probably think that they had mistakenly took a wrong turning and found themselves stuck in a twilight zone episode that was about hillbilly punks celebrating the anniversary of the birth of Sawney Bean and his inbred cannibal clan.
Especially if Junkman's Choir where in fact singing about him, as they did do.
Fuckin' amazing stuff.
The only complaint I would have is that I could have watched them all night, but there was a midnight curfew to be adhered to. Or to be more accurate, loosely adhered to, as I reckon we went by that by a good fifteen minutes as Cal Murray joined the band to cover Toots and the Maytals '54-46 was my number.
I doubt anyone would disagree if I said that a great time was had by all.
Maybe some pictures could be donated and added later. I'm sure everyone wants to see our squints, extra fingers and humps.

Friday, 27 May 2011

The Bucky Rage interview

Eld - How you doing Alan? I suppose to kick things off we should accept that out with the West Coast of Scotland the The Bucky Rage will be largely unknown. So do you want to fill us in on how the band started?
What was the catalyst for you guys getting together and the story behind the masks?

Handsome Al - The band started 6 years ago, I'd bought a guitar and started teaching myself a couple of chords, a couple of weeks later I realised it would be more fun making a racket with some other people and so roped in 3 mates and we started from there.
To balance out my inabilities we decided to have the other guys play instruments that they didn't usually play, our drummer/singer wasn't a drummer, our bass player was a guitarist and the other guitarist was a keyboard and sax player!
Leading up to that I had been running quite a lot of gig nights with another mate, and I'd come to the realisation it would be much more fun to be on the stage than off it.
There was loads of bands that I liked bits of. Some had great tunes, but no presence, others were great to watch but sounded terrible. So essentially I wanted the band to be the sort of band that I would want to see on stage.
Simple raw rock n roll presented in an interesting way.
As for the masks? Well that started as a way for the other band members who were playing in much more sensible, and some would say credible, bands to hide their identities, and as I'm a massive wrestling fan I was more than happy to get a mask on and rip it up!

Eld - How were you initially received though? Four guys playing garage punk in luchagor masks in the corner of a Scottish bar I'd presume would jar the senses of some.
Did it take a while for audiences to get what you were doing?

Handsome Al - The very first show, half the audience left by the end of the first song, the other half got totally into it. Halfway through the set the security tried to throw us off stage, but was strongly persuaded that we would be finishing our set!
Folk seem to love it or hate it, and that suits us just fine.

Eld - This 'take it or leave it' attitude seems to be something that could be construed negatively, but it's an approach that seems to be shared by all the bands who are playing in and around Glasgow who could be described as the most entertaining.
CJ Monk of Tragic City Thieves once said that he would rather get a reaction, good or bad, than no reaction at all.
For me that attitude, along with the talent to back it up, has created a very loose grouping of bands that while they couldn't be described as belonging to a scene with a specific sound, could all be grouped together due to sharing this attitude.
The bands I mean are Tragic City Thieves, Filthy Little Secret, Jackie Onassis, Eddy and the T-Bolts and yourselves to name just a few.
Do you feel any sense of kinship with these bands, or is my take on it an outsiders view?

Handsome Al - I think the take it or leave it attitude is a positive thing. Having that belief in what your doing and not changing it to suit more people shows conviction. CJ is spot on, its better to get any reaction than no reaction.
Obviously it's much more fun getting a positive reaction, but there's a real thrill in winning over an audience when you are up against it.
All the bands you mention are actually friends of ours through gigging. We've played with them all, and we share a like minded DIY approach in how we operate as bands.
Individually we've all run club/gig nights, booked bands we like and want to play with/see live, and we all record and release our own own material.
There also is a great deal of diversity in sound amongst us from band to band, but it would be boring if it was otherwise.
If pushed to comment I can personally see similarities with the early CBGB's NY punk scene.
All those different bands that were grouped together under the banner of punk rock,. They shared an attitude more than setting a template for a sound.
Punk is an odd thing though, or the perception of it.
To my mind there is nothing punk about recycling tracks from a handful of '77 English bands, it's far more rooted in an attitude to doing it yourself and having fun.
The kinship with these other bands comes from sharing that attitude, and from playing gigs together.
It's then that you realise that you all like a lot of the same stuff, like playing loud music and listening to the same good shit.
What's most interesting to me is the different ways all of these bands have taken what they like, same stuff we like, yet we all sound quite different. All branches of the one tree tree really.

Eld - How has the Bucky Rage developed over the years. I sort of see you as two separate bands. There's the live one that plays garage psych punk at 100 mph, and then there's the studio band who are far more shaded and cover more ground musically?

Handsome Al - We've developed in various ways. Technically we're a bit better, though thankfully not too much! I even managed to learn a 4th chord last year.
Seriously though we work hard at rehearsals and at gigs. We're constantly trying to improve what we do and keep it interesting to ourselves and the audience.
The live show is quite different from the recorded stuff because you get one shot at playing it live on any given night. It's a real pleasure and we just dive straight into it.
In the studio, because we record ourselves, we have plenty of time to redo stuff and add ideas that make the tracks better, stuff we can't do when playing them live.
I don't have a problem with the difference between live and studio. I love t working at bringing the studio material over to the live side. As long as the tunes are good it should always work.
You can see some big bands, like the Pixies and they sound identical to their records and I just think great, you can stay home and listen to the record. I want to see something different every time I see them, and by extension I want an audience to be given something different every time they see us.

Eld - You guys have already released a handful of ep's and compiled them into an album release, but you're currently working on your first full length stand alone release just now. How's that coming along?

Handsome Al - It's going well, we've decided to do another EP with half of the tracks on Eruption Records and are looking to doing either another EP or an album later in the year on Kovorox Sounds with the remaining tracks and some other stuff we have yet to record.
The tracks for the first one are finished, and sounding great. We got our mate and one of our many ex-bass players to assist with the recordings, which freed us up to concentrate more on the playing than the recording, and we're really happy with the results. It'll be great having something out on vinyl this time rather than CD, something we always wanted to do.
The second EP we have kept it a lot closer to the live sound of the band, all tracks recorded live playing together in our dungeon, we got a bit of work still to do on the mixing of them and a couple of additional tracks to record, but its all coming along well.

Eld - So are you planning on touring more of the UK once the releases are available, and are there going to be any mainland European dates to look out for?

Handsome Al - We've got plans to get out of Scotland a bit more, with dates in Newcastle, Leeds and Liverpool on the cards.
We are also in talks about arranging some mainland European dates too.
We love playing in Scotland though, we've made some great mates in loads of places here and the only time we catch up is when we're destroying their local venues!

Eld - How far in advance are you trying to plan ahead or is it more just a case of keep pushing and see what transpires?

Handsome Al - Gig wise, we try and make sure we are playing at least a couple of times a month, and have stuff organised for a few months ahead. setting up tours is difficult just now, 2 of us have new babies and 1 of us has a young son, so it's a bit tricky organising being away for more than an overnight.
We are at the stage that we've got some good contacts around the country, and can call on any of them to put us on and they will.
We have a play anywhere policy, as long as our costs are covered and we get a good night out we're open to offers, the more ridiculous the better!
With the releases, you got to do it all months in advance.
Everything takes twice as long as you think.
How many album launches have you been to where the albums are not actually there?
As a band, we genuinely love what we are doing and will keep doing it as long as it stays fun.
I don't expect that Lady Gaga is sitting at home worrying about our next move, or vice versa!

Contact info -

The Alarm - ABC - Glasgow (25/5/11)

Kerrang awarded 'The Last Republic' four stars, but I'm not getting it.
They can play, but it doesn't do anything for me.
I don't feel the blood pumping through my veins, and there's nary a hair standing up on the back of my neck in excitement.
It's all bombastic indie rock with a bit of an eighties homage going on in the guitar work.......and it bores me to distraction.
Think of Keane covering Echo and the Bunnymen and weep at the thought.
Once again I'll probably be marching out of step with the opinion of others, but I'd rather toddle off on my own than have to pretend that this sort of thing provides me with any real sense of enjoyment.
I wasn't going to have a drink, but they've driven me to it.
Thankfully The Alarm, a real bombastic band from the eighties - yeah I know it's only Mike from the original line up - who do understand how to play with a huge dollop of passion, are here to save the day.
Mike Peters is, in my opinion, a seriously underrated singer and songwriter.
He may have a rock solid fan base who will follow him to the ends of the earth, or even Wales, but without any hint of sarcasm I would put him up their with someone like Springsteen as a performer.
He writes material that can touch anyone from any background because it sounds honest, and unlike others he can deliver them.
That's the secret of his longevity as an artist I suppose.
He's the full package, but if I had my way it wouldn't be treated like a secret and I'd prefer that everyone clicked onto just how good he, and his band, are.
Here they are in Glasgow dropping in to play a date for their Sound and the Fury anniversary tour and the atmosphere is electric.
It could be said that the Alarm simply don't play mediocre shows.
It's as if they've made a verbal contract with the fans that anything less than giving their all wont be enough.
The guitars, drums and keyboard ring out like a battle cry and into the breach they go, and we're right there with them every step of the way.
The communal anthems fill the air and we stretch our throats to accompany the band on every word.

The uninitiated probably wouldn't get it. You have to be there. You have to be swept back and forth by the crowd and witness the effort that is being put into playing and the part that the audience play in it.
What the Alarm understand is that they are a part of what is going on.
An integral part, but just a part none the less. Without the crowd, without the lives that have been lived by each an every person there the show isn't what it is.
This point in time has been thirty years in the making. From pubs and clubs to stadiums to the clubs again until it can be said that they have indeed been here. there and everywhere. This band have paid their dues and they have carried their fans along with them while doing so.
You can't put a price on that, and as the show closed I personally felt that I had been part of something, and that's a feeling that I always have when I've witnessed the Alarm in full flow.
If you want to go and see a band that means something then the name of the band you need to see is The Alarm.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Jinx Lennon - Hungry Bastard Hibernia - FREE DOWNLOAD LINK

A nice little collection of what others would call out takes from between 2007 and 2010 by the inimitable Jinx Lennon.
What I would call them is diamonds in the mud.
All free and legal from the man himself. Just follow the link.

and here's his facebook page, because I'm sure that once downloaded, and listened t,o that you good people will want to extend a hand of friendship.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

I feel a bit sick today.
It's the usual problem of reading about something else that the coalition are doing that results in my stomach hitting the spin cycle, and it happens at least three times a week.
Maybe the solution to my little tummy upset is to join the sheep and tuck my head in the sand.
I could just ignore what is going on and hope that given time this ill wind will pass through our country and allow rationality and compassion to return to our shores.
Then again when did ignoring anything work out positively?
This time I'm upset about the abortion issue.
Personally I'm not pro or anti abortion. I'm simply pro choice.
Circumstances are everything when it comes to a termination.
There are health needs of the mother and child to be considered. Then there is the horrible issues that surround rape and incest that need to be addressed.
Life is difficult and for every reason put forward from the pro life groups there are just as many relevant points raised by the pro choice side.
To help people who have a very difficult choice to make it would seem to me that clear and calm heads are required.
Rational and unbiased assistance should be provided to allow an individual to reach an informed decision.
That may be a termination, or it may be an adoption, or the person could have a change of heart and decide that they wanted to have the child, but the bottom line must be that the individual should have the options to choose, and be provided with all the information they require to make that choice.
So why has a group who are self proclaimed anti abortionists and pro abstinence supporters just been given a role as government advisers regarding sexual health matters?
They even take the stance that there is never a need for abortion.
While they may claim, quite rightly, that an incestuous rape of a twelve year old that leads to a pregnancy is an extreme, the fact of the matter is that it does happen.
Yet these people are unwilling to bend their self imposed views to accommodate the needs of a child who finds themselves in such a horrific situation.
I don't know what the figures are, but how many women are raped and end up with an unwanted pregnancy?
They have the mental scars to carry with them, but that's not enough, they should carry the child of their abuser to?
How bloody ridiculous is that?
Yet here we have these people acting as advisers on our behalf.
They're called the Life Organisation if anyone wants to check them out, and they have replaced the Independent Advisory Group on Sexual Health and HIV.
A group whose independence was exactly what was required.
The British Pregnancy Advisory Service were originally invited along to be part of the steering group, but they've had the invite retracted for some reason that I can't fathom.
They've provided advice for the last forty years to the women of this country, but that's not an attractive enough track record it would seem in comparison to a bunch of fundamentalists with a very firm agenda to push.
Some people will comment that this Life Organization are just one voice amongst a forum that will be advising the government and while they are indeed right I would still consider that anyone providing this advise should hold a position of neutrality on the subject.
For me their involvement is just wrong.
This sort of thing is nothing new though.
'In Richmond, south-west London, the Catholic Children's Society has taken over the £89,000 contract to provide advice to schoolchildren on matters including contraception and pregnancies. Another Christian-run charity, Care Confidential, is involved in providing crisis pregnancy advice under the auspices of Newham PCT in east London.
Care's education arm, Evaluate, was one of the founding members, alongside Life, of the Sex and Relationships Council.'
In this country we have separated church and state and this, in my opinion, is how it should be. Yet here we have certain ideals, often religious, easing in through the back door.
I know I'm not the only one concerned about this, but seriously this government has a Victorian era template that they wish to impose on us.
The gap between the rich and poor is widening, education and health are under the shadow of privatization.
What's next?
Back street abortions, unlicensed drugs being sold for ailments and classed as free enterprise. Working for the company store, workhouses?
No wonder my stomach is churning. When is this madness going to stop.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Flogging Molly - Speed of Darkness

A few years ago I found myself actively starting to dislike the crop of Oirish punk bands doing the rounds.
Even the bands that I had previously liked started to sound slightly different to me.
In hindsight I think that to my ears they had went from playing celtic tinged punk rock to looking to see how they could profit from edging in on the Pogues fan base.
It was a very slight move, and one that others would vehemently disagree actually exists at all.
There was also the problem of sectarianism that is prevalent where I live and I guess that also had an impact on how I viewed the bands.
These Oirish bands are treated differently on the west coast of Scotland and unless you come from here then it probably doesn't make much sense.
Hell, even if you come from here it doesn't make much sense.
The Dropkick Murphys are a good example.
I used to go and see them on all their early tours, and the crowds were made up of a good cross section of punks and skins.
Then the tricolours and republicanism angle started to slip in and the balance tipped and the gigs were no longer the drunkenly ramshackle events that I used to love. The became less celebratory and more darker.
I guess I just don't like to shell out hard earned cash to have some drunken idiot slaver ill educated shite in my ear about the famine and the glory of the 'Ra all night.
It's not even that I feel that the Irish have nothing to complain about, and if push came to shove I would even say that I support the original premise of Irish Independence, but regardless of that I'm not interested in listening to people whose opinions aren't based in historical facts, but instead are steeped in the support of a football team.
Or worse based on three generations ago having an uncle who once holidayed in Limerick.
Add on the tenuous link of bands for the US singing about the 'Ol' Country' and it just came across as a bit of a US celebration of an Irish version of Brigadoon.
Utter bollocks in other words.
Unfortunately Flogging Molly are a band that suffered from my change of views, and in the last five or six years I've just skimmed past what they have done.
I've made no effort to see them or even buy anything that they have released.
So here I am now listening to 'Speed of Darkness' and trying to wrap my head around it.
Do I like it, or has my less than positive experiences of this genre going to shade my view?
The honest answer is that I'm not sure.
They were always a band that had the chops to carry whatever sound the wanted to the audience, and the multiple vocals give them a broader ability to deliver whatever it was they wanted to do.
Musically it's pretty much faultless.
So as it plays in the background I find myself tapping my toe along with the new songs, but I'm still not digging too deep into it.
The lyrical content is still eluding me, and that's important for me.
I want to hear what the message is, if there even is one, before I commit myself.
Right at this moment the message isn't becoming apparent just now, and without my getting a sense of where they are coming from I'm finding myself questioning my enjoyment.
It's a shame.
I'm a product of my environment and instead of falling to one, or the other side of the sectarian divide I instead find myself shying away from it all because in my opinion it is all rank pish rooted in a great deal of ignorance.
Hateful ignorance that has an effect on virtually everyone that lives on this coast, and because of this I struggle with bands who seem to promote one view or another, or even romanticize historical events while claiming they are carrying on a folk tradition.
I view it all with suspicion.
So there you go.
Less of a review and more of a non review and my reasons for struggling in not providing anything that could be construed as one.
Maybe I'll keep spinning this album and come back to it.. Then again maybe I'll not.

Adam Ant/Jesse Rae/Dressing for Pleasure - O2 Academy (Glasgow) 23/5/11

It's a bit of a surprise to hear that Dressing for Pleasure are a new band who are only a few gigs into playing live, as you would never have guessed it from their performance.
It was a pretty self assured affair and they had more than enough enough good songs to hint at why they were given the opportunity to open for Adam Ant on their own merit rather than knowing someone who knows someone as some may have thought.
What they play is pretty much just stripped down rock and roll with minimal drums, bass and guitar, but it works just fine for me, although to be honest anything with a primal drum beat and some fuzzy guitars works just fine for me as I'm just about as sick of listening to formulaic crap wherever I go as one could be.
I was particularly impressed with the addition of the Clash's 'Should I stay or should I go' to the set.
A finely done take on it with a bit of a twist to keep it interesting and elevate it above a simple cover.
It's always a good idea at these types of shows to throw in something like this.
Adam Ant is the sort of artist that pulls people out of the woodwork when they play.
People who probably haven't been to a gig in a decade or more and they want to hear something familiar.
It's a sad truism that playing a set of originals that are unfamiliar to people who grew up in the eighties is the equivalent of asking if they want to throw rotten fruit and veg at you.
Hopefully it wont be too long before the band get something out and head back north for some more live shows.
Jesse Rae, our very own kilted celtic warrior of funk, was a surprise addition to the bill, and not a good surprise judging by the reaction he got.
It was a brave move to try and get the audience to re evaluate what he does, but one that didn't work.
Very few people seemed interested at all and much of the crowd didn't appear to even know who he was. It became grindingly embarrassing to watch the lack of appreciation that was emanating from the crowd.
Boos were most definitely the the least of Jesse's worries and it may just be possible that his broadsword stuck stage centre was the only thing that stopped a stage invasion that would have ended with his head on a pole.
This lack of respect from the audience for something that wasn't bad, but more so just different, didn't lead me to believe that Adam Ant was going to be that well received.
I was well aware that he is keen to promote his whole career and even to an extent focus on some of his punk origins and if he wasn't going to slavishly worship at the alter of Prince Charming then things could have gotten rather ugly.
I'm pleased to say that I was wrong though.
From the moment he crashed on stage with Plastic Surgery the cliché of getting a crowd to eat from the palm of the hand became a reality that lends the cliché credence.
In the cold light of day I'm actually a bit speechless about just how good this gig was.
This tour isn't a cash for the retirement home outing by a star of yesteryear, but instead a full on 'this is how fuckin' rock and roll should be played' roller-coaster ride by an artist who has been there bought the t-shirt ripped it up and stitched it into something entirely new time and time and again.
Adam Ant is a star. I don't really know how to convey exactly what I mean by that though.
In my mind he's a real bonafide star of epic proportions.
It's probably because there's nothing drab about him.
He's is the real deal. A big burst of neon personality in a drab black and white world.
A larger than life character who could never be described as the guy next door, but more like a someone who carried the torch from the seventies into the eighties that Bowie or a Bolan held before him.
He's the glam pirate space cowboy who didn't so much fit into a pre-designed package of pop stardom, but instead redefined what being a pop star was all about, and in the here and now he is still doing it.
The proof of this current relevance is all about me.
Take a cross section of the crowd and you will find the queens of the eighties school disco rubbing shoulders with teen fashionistas and this is exactly how it should be.
None of it actually makes any sense though as Adam Ants music doesn't sound like it should have mass appeal that bridges generations, but that it does is an inarguable fact and this tour is highlighting this.
For every fan who has practised the Prince Charming moves in front of the mirror there is another who is drawn to the leather gimp mask sexual deviance that underlays so much of what he has done.
It's a whole mish mash of sounds, styles and attitudes.
In fact lets just get it out there.
Anything that has Burundi drumming, the clash of angular guitar coupled with rock riffs, yelps and screams, sexual innuendo and hot and sweaty grooves should have a niche appeal, but this is where the indescribable appeal of Adam Ant comes into it because for some unknown reason it has mass appeal.
It's dirty pop music.
Maybe it's the antidote to the bland and that's the appeal.
Then again maybe it's the force of his personality that keeps it all together.
He's the sort of star that drives it all home with more style, panache and sexual energy than a gaggle of GaGa's ever could.
By the half way point of the set and we have been treated to a pit stop tour of his whole career and instead of the energy starting to dip it just keeps being built on.
There is more in the tank and there's no need to take the foot off the pedal.
Instead of playing for two hours he could have played for four and I doubt anyone would have been rushing for the door screaming that it was too much..
I got the impression that no one was going to be allowed to go home harbouring any misguided idea that they have seen anything less than spectacular anyway.
Adam and his band. The Good, The Bad and The Lovely Posse were going to make sure of that.
Most Adam Ant fans would stick A.N.T.S at the top of the list of songs that they would hope that he would leave behind in a revisionist purge, but in perverse style it get pumped out and no one can feel churlish about its tongue in cheek addition to the set.
Especially when we also get in no particular order Beat my Guest, Cleopatra, Xerox Machine, Car Trouble, Christion D'or and Never trust a man with egg on his face amongst others.
By the time the lights come up to indicate that we should all bugger off it was easy to see that Adam Ant had came, seen and conquered.
Outstanding. Just bloody outstanding.

You can hear some Dressing For Pleasure demos, including the Clash cover, here.

The Urban Voodoo Machine - The Bay 11/5/11 (Glasgow)

Everyone wants to run away and join the circus at some point in their life.
The allure of the nomadic gypsy lifestyle pulls at the sense of adventure that all children have.
The big top, the greasepaint, the exotic ladies, the screams, the thrills, the spills and the chills all serve to entice us towards the unknown.
Then we get older and leave it behind us, but every once in a while the tug is still there.
Never more so than at an Urban Voodoo Machine show it would seem.
This multi legged group of musical rapscallions are the circus, the freak show, the Weimar cabaret, le cage aux folles and the down and dirty juke joints of the Mississippi all rolled into one.
When they play they're reaching out to whisper into our ear that packing a case to jump aboard the crazy train with a ticket to an unknown future is a perfectly sensible option to consider.
There's magic in the air at one of their shows
Magic and anarchy.
Anything could happen.
There is only one rule and that is that there are no rules.
Don't even try and put your finger on what it is that makes what they do so enticing, because you can't.
There isn't one specific thing that could be singled out and highlighted as the source of entertainment.
Instead it's a communal party, a melting pot of characters and persona's that all provide something different to the mix.
This throw it at the wall and see what sticks attitude provides us with an orgy of sound that is hot, sexy, bold, brash and most importantly makes you want to dance and throw caution to the wind all at the same time.
They should make shows like this one illegal, because if they did, then we could use The Urban Voodoo machine as an excuse to rise up and overthrow the government while enjoying the best fuckin' soundtrack to a revolution that anyone could imagine.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Feeding Egon - Between you and the view

I've been trying to wrap my head around Feeding Egon's début for over a week now and I'm still no closer to settling on a definitive opinion about them.
On a good day I can hear a young band adventurously setting forth on a path that they are forging ahead on alone.
There's some prog, funk, jazz and indie rock all muscling forward to catch some attention and while the restrictions of self releasing an album - on what I presume would be a limited budget - rears its ugly head there is still plenty of promise shown.
It's refreshing to hear anyone push out from the narrow confines of what is considered 'in' and try and create something that challenges.
Unfortunately on a bad day all I can hear is a band thrashing about and stretching their musical muscles while still looking to formulate a sound that they can call their own.
The main critique across the breadth of the album is that maybe sometimes too much is simply too much.
Being young I would presume that they want to explore every little corner and push the walls out a bit, create some space that they can fit all their ideas into, and there's nothing wrong with that.
It's just that I find myself losing the string that should hold it all together.
There's a track called “The First Waltz” that could be used to explore the whole concept of the album.
It swoops high and plummets low, flows around you and picks at the snatches of familiarity while dancing just out of reach of being pinned down.
The thing is that within its seven odd minutes it manages to hold all its parts together but over the course of a whole album all the influences start to serve to unravel the clear picture that the band are wanting to paint for the listener.
I would think that they guys in the band could do with sitting down and working out how they can manage to keep all the influences in, but at the same time have a distinct vibe/sound that people can hear and think 'hey, that's Feeding Egon' regardless of if it's a track than leans heavily towards a funk bassline, or one that has an ethereal acoustic angle to it.
You can file it under P for promising.

The Cars - Move Like This

The Cars are back.
They don't sound old, nor do they sound new. They aint even pre or post anything.
What they are is The Cars.
As Popeye would say 'they is what they is'.
A band who without a shadow of a doubt are, and always will be, one of the glittering jewels in the power pop rock and roll crown.
They created a singularly recognizable sound that is all their own and it doesn't matter if it's 1976 or 2056, the Cars will always be the all American band that will be considered the touchstone for anyone with an interest in contemporary new wave.
It would have been a nightmare to have thought that they could have stumbled after taking such a long break off, nigh on twenty five years since the last studio album, but there's not one stumble on show and no evidence on display to make anyone consider that there ever will.
I doubt anyone will find a Cars fan who is going to be disappointed with this release, and off the back of it I would think their back catalogue will take a bit of a pounding as new fans discover them to.
Skinny ties have never been so cool.

Wanda Jackson - The Party Aint Over.

Have you ever been to a hole in the wall pub in Glasgow?
I'll tell you about them.
They're the sort of place that used to have white walls but the nicotine has stained everything the colour of sepia.
Framed pictures adorn the walls, but there's no theme.
You could be sitting under a picture of a famous football player while looking across the bar at another featuring a chimpanzee drinking a cup of tea.
Then you might realize that it's not a chimp at all, but the barmaid staring at you from the hatch that leads to god knows where.
They have brass tack hanging about for some reason to.
There's no link to a history of it being a coach house, but that never matters.
The good thing about them is that the drink is usually cheap.
A pint is never watered down and there is rarely any hassle.
The down side is that pensionable aged women go out on the pull to them, and with a couple of shandy's in them think that anyone that has a pulse is fair game.
The only thing worse than them trying to pick you up is when they have a karaoke night.
It's on those nights that these ladies of a certain age get up and shake themselves into a frenzy while belting out songs old and new.
By some strange coincidence no matter what the song is they all end up sounding like something that was classed as country music in the seventies though.
They drink too much, they cry on stage, they yodel, they point the finger at you and beckon you closer while licking their shark thin lips.
Uuuuurgh. It's horrible
You haven't lived until a seventy year old woman has spat the words of 'The Old Rugged Cross' into your face with whiskey stale breath, and then whispered 'You're mine sonny-boy. What do you prefer. I keep my teeth in or take them out?'
I suppose you might be wondering what any of that has to do with Wanda Jackson's new album.
Well it sounds like a bootleg recording of one of those nights.
Fuckin' aweful.
The party is certainly over.

This service has been interrupted.

Due to ill health I havn't been able to update the blog at all.
On the Thursday morning after the Urban Voodoo Machine gig I was pretty much out of service and I put it down to a hangover from hell, but when it trickled into the Friday, Saturday and Sunday I realized that something was up.
I managed to make it to work and complete two twelve hour shifts, but I was in no state to do so and the only reason I did was to avoid the hassle it would have caused if I hadn't turned up.
Apart from that all I've done is throw up, and throw up, and throw up.
In one three day period the only thing I ate was two slices of toast.
On Wednesday I took the kids to see The Pirates of the Carribean and in hindsight I should have just stayed tucked up in bed.
It's now about ten days since the lurgy descended and I'm still not back to being fighting fit.
The Urban Voodoo Machine live review will be coming, as will album reviews of releases by Feeding Egon, Wanda Jackson, The Cars and Rezurex.
Hopefully by Monday evening I will be able to manage to attend the Adam Ant gig, but it looks like my trip to Manchester to see The Pyratz isn't going to happen.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

AC/DC - Live at River Plate

Some French guy playing an immortal Scotsman once said "there can be only one". I reckon that if he was talking about rock bands it would have to have been AC/DC he was referring to.
If anyone wants to hear what testosterone sounds like, then just slip on any AC/DC track with Bon or Brian howling over it, and that's the sound nailed.
If you gave cavemen guitars then this is what you would get. A noise that harkens back to a period when men who were in touch with their feminine sides were called poofs*.
It's the aural equivalent of clubbing a prospective partner over the head and dragging her home to look at your cave paintings while you take her from behind.
It's sex with no empathy for a partners needs.
It's all about pleasing yourself and then hitting the road to hunt down another conquest.
Yeah it's most definitely an outdated attitude, and it's certainly selfish, but who cares?
It's a damn sight more honest an attitude than hiding behind the empathy mask. (yes, your needs are important to me darling)
If we are really honest you could de-construct a metro sexual male, peel back his sensitive nature, drag his inner being to the surface, and what you will find is a beer monster that wants to corrupt every woman to the accompaniment of "If you want blood, you got it".
Guys might lie about it, but that's just denial.
A bastard is lurking deep within us all.
There are two types of men I suppose.
The ones that know who they are and hide the fact, and the ones that are so pussy whipped that they think their dicks are for pissing out of.
So this is where AC/DC come in. The perfect band for all men.
You can put the needle on the vinyl and let the mask slip and get comfy, or you can get your pussy whipped buddy around and use it to regress him to a more natural state of existence.
If you've a mate that has been taken over by a feminist cult, then just kidnap the sad sack and lock him in a room with AC/DC blasting at his ass 24/7.
No need for someone to sit there and slowly remind him that his family love him and everyone misses him day in day out.
Just let AC/DC rip and after a couple of days he'll step out of the room, ask for a beer, and then grope the first women walking past.
Even if it's your mother.
Problem solved.
That's what AC/DC are all about.
It's all unapologetic balls to the wall stuff. A mans band. The living it large and to hell with the consequences attitude to the fore. Masters of their own destiny and their destiny is to party hard.
Fuck yeah. Bloody attractive aint it?
That's because they appeal to something deep in men.
They are the kings of cock rock.
I will not be ashamed. I will stand tall and proud and shout "AC/DC, HELL YEAH", and guess what?
All of this rock and roll fuck the world and party hard with a beer in your hand attitude is right in your face on their latest live opus 'Live at River Plate'.
So go and buy the bloody thing.

*No disrespect to the gay community here. You can listen to AC/DC as well.

Disclaimer. This review does not promote rape, hitting women over the head with clubs or groping other peoples mothers...............unless it is role play sexual shenanigans.

Memory lane. Where angels fear to tread

I only went out for a packet of crisps.
Reminiscent of that scene in one of the Lethal Weapon movies where Mel Gibson compares battle scars, I had a similar conversation with a mate recently.
One of the things that it threw up, apart from us both being hard bastards, was that my own son has had a relatively unscathed life. Hopefully that continues, but it would appear that the days are gone when young boys picked up broken bones, stitches and lumps and bumps on a regular basis.

Initially I wasn't sure why this is. Maybe they're not as adventurous as we were, or as parents we coddle them too much. Or as I finally realized……….our parents didn't bloody care what we were up to.
You've all heard it. "It's not long ago that the kids could go out in the morning and we wouldn't see them until after tea-time" or " I never knew where he was, but I knew he was safe".


We were swinging across rivers, jumping off garage roofs, falling out of trees, shooting at each other with Diana air pistols and trying to jump rivers on Choppers that weighed close on a tonne. 
They were also about as aerodynamic as the proverbial brick.
We weren't safe. We weren't safe at all.
We were totally unsupervised and when you leave young boys unsupervised there are casualties.
It's a fact of life.
Out of sight, out of mind.

Before I was a teenager I'd picked up loads of injuries.
Stabbed. A guy called Lugsy was carving a stick and without looking stuck the knife into the log we were sitting on.
Unfortunately my hand was in the way and knife went right through it between my thumb and finger.
Shot. Some wanker stepped out on a woodland path and shot me with an air rifle in the shin and ran away. I picked the pellet out days later with tweezers when it became infected.
Nearly drowned. We had a raft race, well two bits of wood and an oil drum race.
I couldn't swim and the oil drum couldn't float.
A guy called Douglas, who was older, dragged me out of the river and tried to give me mouth to mouth. 
I was having none of that though. My first sexual experience wasn't going to be a mates big brother tonguing me.
Asphyxiated. We would take one hundred deep breaths as fast as we could and then someone would give you a bear hug until you passed out.
Once the guy doing it with me let go when I passed out and I hit my face off a kerb breaking my nose.
We knocked that game on the head when a guys cousin who was visiting had a seizure when we did it to him.
Obviously we ran away and left him when it happened.
As I got older I worked out that you lose consciousness due to a lack of oxygen going to your brain. I wonder how many brain cells that game took from me.
I've been the victim of a hit and run.
Or to be more accurate the car hit me and I ran.
Electrocuted. We played a game where we kicked the covers off of street lamps and pulled the fuses out, or if we were lucky we would get one with a timer in it and we would set the street lights to come on during the day and off at night.
That is until they day I was thrown across the street with a shock.
Singed my fingers, pissed myself and had a hairstyle like the hair bear bunch, but apart from that I was alright.
I've broken my arm, ankle, cracked my skull twice, broke and dislocated fingers as well, and I wasn't unusual in any of this.

We picked up more injuries on a weekly basis than a guest at a Barrymore pool party would.

I've come to the conclusion that the cast of Jackass are a bunch of pussies.
A guy I went to school with fell into a threshing machine on a farm. He survived, but I'm sure he gave Mel Gibson some pointers for the flogging scene in that Passion of Christ film. 
There's Mel popping up again.
I remember that boy Lugsy (That's right. The one who stabbed me) swinging into the side of a cow and breaking his legs.
Cows are pretty solid by the way.
Think of what a car looks like when it runs into a cow and then imagine a nine year old travelling about 40mph on a rope swing into the side of one. It wasn't pretty. We dragged him home after that. Must have been about two miles.

Things only got worse when we were teenagers, but I'm not going to go into that.
The thing is that with all these injuries no one seemed to care.
Social workers would have a SWAT team abseiling through a kids bedroom window to save them now.
Parents would be on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
Teachers never asked where you got the black eye from back then. 
The doctors in A+E accepted what was said without blinking an eye.
NO ONE CARED, and neither did we.

It was bloody great. Shaped us as people to.
I think I'll send my lad out with something sharp tomorrow and tell him not to come home until he's had an accident.
He'll thank me for it later in life.

Night of the Cougars with McFly

Yep. More fools gold from the vaults, and proof that when it comes to the kids i'll go to anything.

McFly - Reemer - Avenue (Glasgow SECC) 25/11/08

So I'm wondering what I'm doing here. It seemed like a good idea when I bought the tickets, but now I'm the rudderless ship set adrift in uncharted waters. So far out of my comfort zone that I have a sneaky feeling that I may never find my way back.
I thought I knew what I was getting into. On hindsight I realize that I was seriously deluding myself and this is now becoming frighteningly apparent. It's not as if I hadn't had niggling doubts, but if there's one thing I'm good at, it's ignoring that little voice that whispers things I don't want to hear.
I've been here often over the years, and this should be recognizable territory for me, but it's not. There's a name for it. It's jamais vu. The familiar is now unfamiliar. I can't put my finger on what is different, but it is.

The show tonight is advertised as a rock and roll one, and I would be fine and dandy if it was, but it's a replicants version that's really on the menu. Wild abandon certainly is not going to be on the cards tonight.
I'm at a McFly gig.
I am that proverbial fish out of water, and I'm gasping for air. When I look around and I don't feel any kinship with the people surrounding me. I rarely do, but my feelings of alienation are magnified tenfold this evening.
So really. Why the fuck am I here?

Okay. I know why I'm here. That was a rhetorical question. It's a treat for my daughter, but who would have thought that that it would dredge up such mixed emotions.
My equilibrium is off. If two magnets that were repelling each other could have feelings then this is what it would be like. They want to get together, but it's not going to happen. I want to enjoy myself. Share my daughters excitement, but it's not going to happen.
Impulse buys are now something that I used to do.
After a quick glance about I'm starting to think that I could stand in for Wally from the 'Where's Wally' books. I can imagine that someone will release a full scale panoramic image of this crowd, and all over the world kids with autistic tendencies will pore over it to try and find me, the one sole male over forty, within a sea of young girls and their mothers. I knew I should have worn my red and white-hooped hat. At the very least they could use it to identify my body if I'm crushed under a tsunami sized wave of nine year old girls as the surge towards their heroes.

Apart from the kids there's a huge contingent of cougars here. There's an army of middle aged women sporting glazed pre-coital looks. They're all anxiously staring at the stage while half heartedly clutching the hand of a kid that doesn't really want to be there. I wonder if it's a psychological medical condition that these woman have. At least the cougars that trawl bars may realize their dream of getting some young hard muscle between the sheets. The ones here who are on a lustful odyssey to bag a McFly are frankly just delusional.
The sight of so many mature women clutching for unreachable straws saddens me. I thought the internet was created to give us all a fix of cheap thrills. This would seem to be just an expensive alternative.

The first band of the evening are called Avenue. It's five interchangeable guys who have been cloned in a boy band lab somewhere. They're the new kids on the block occupying a boyzone with a take that attitude. There not even a real a band per se. No one plays an instrument and they have refined dancing and singing to a backing track to it's lowest common denominator. I expect they will be huge by x-mas.
They mentioned that they had a number one single in Scotland. I wouldn't presume that would be too difficult though. If you sell about twenty then that should be enough to ensure a top spot position. In the download charts they were probably in with a bullet at chart position 1108. One of the band is Scottish. I know that he's Scottish as he unashamedly used this information to elicit a Pavlov's dog response from the crowd in the style of 'Hey. I'm from Scotland and I've told the guys in the band that you guys will go crazy. Are you going to go crazy?' Everyone under fourteen goes crazy on cue.
I'm not sure what purpose Avenue serve. Foreplay for the cougars possibly. Maybe it's just to give a home to the people who failed the auditions for reality television shows. Or it could just be a vehicle for them to extends their dreams of stardom for a little longer before they decide that they will have to get a real job. If this is the case then it actually does have a purpose.
It's only a couple of minutes after they finish their set that they're forgotten about. Goldfish would like them. They allegedly have the attention span that would suit watching Avenue. They're the equivalent of a happy meal for the voracious appetites of the young crowd. It hits the spot in the short term, but now they're gone it's out of sight, out of mind and the kids want something more substantial.

It's not going to happen anytime soon though as Reemer, who are up next, peddle a more mature indie pop-punk, and they all look like they are on the wrong side of eighteen for this crowd. A heinous sin if there ever was one in this cutthroat world of edgy boy bands. I could guess that they don't really know how they got this support slot, and are still unsure if it was a good idea to take it. The question at the forefront of their minds might be whether playing to a hundred people who want to see you is a better option than playing to thousands that don't give a fuck. They'd be right to ponder this as the McFly crowd are going to be an uphill struggle for any band to win over. The set is tailored to the audience, albeit the choreographed moves are clunky and haphazard. This is something that may indicate that Reemer are a 'real' band, and this sort of dancing bear act is really rather alien to them. The singer throws out the obligatory comments about the crowd being crazy, beautiful, sexy, or even sexy, crazy and beautiful, or possibly beautifully crazy and sexy. I'm guessing that good looking horny chicks with mental health problems might be what gets these guys motors running. There is a short interlude that is filled by the front man explaining how he wants to take pictures of the crowd as it's 'only fair because all you sexy, beautiful and crazy people keep taking pictures of us.' The sexy, beautiful and crazy people all pose, scream, shout and throw their arms in the air like the just don't care for their photo-shoot. Even the non-sexy, ugly and sane join in. They will now be immortalised forever on Reemers myspace page. Although immortalised forever could mean anything from a week to three months.
The biggest fish on a bicycle moment for me happened near the end of the set. Danny of McFly joins the band on stage to sing something about clouds. At this the crowd roar and it looks like someone had just passed an electrical current through the seating, but that isn't why is has me stroking my chin in bemusement. It's the young emo looking guy two rows in front of me waving his black nail varnished hands in the air in some sort of ecstasy that does it. He's wearing of a Crass tee-shirt. It's like Crass and McFly are the musical equivalents of oil and water. Never the twain should meet. So what the fuck? At the very least I hope his nail varnish wasn't tested on animals. It crosses my mind that it may be an ironic statement, but no. This guy is probably lengthening and thickening at the presence of Danny on stage. It would be ironic if a Crass fan was wearing a McFly tee-shirt I suppose. Stupid, but ironic.
However, this guy is into Danny's appearance big time. It must be that a Crass tee-shirt is the latest fashionable accoutrement that the cool kids need to have to display their bought from the store rebelliousness. He sits back down as soon as Danny leaves the stage. Nothing from him all through Avenue, and then nothing through the majority of Reemer either. It's possible that he's just some new 4-D CGI effect that McFly has commissioned, and the Crass tee-shirt is the CGI effects experts clandestine middle finger salute to his paymasters.
This emo looking kid might only be programmed to react when McFly appear, and its remit is to emulate the behaviour of someone who is being swept away with euphoria at the sight of their heroes. The reasoning being that it kicks off a domino effect, and within minutes the crowd would be writhing in idolatrous ecstasy. There could be one positioned in every row. It would explain the mass hysteria that bands like McFly can draw from a crowd. I'm tempted to walk down and see if there is any substance to him, but it would freak me out too much if my hand went through him and my suspicions were confirmed.

After Reemer leave the atmosphere changes dramatically. An internal barometer swings crazily from side to side and I can sense the imminent arrival of the headliners. The anticipation of the crowd is physically tangible. The second coming of a messiah could draw out an indifferent shrug from a teenager, but McFly are far more important than that it would seem. There is excited chattering going on, squeals and yelp, faces swollen with a turmoil of emotions all around me. Some of the kids appear to be holding their breath and if the band don't appear soon then some people are going to pass out.
McFly stream a video onto a screen with a countdown and this just encourages the audience to hold onto till the 00.00.00 point when they can ejaculate all their pent up emotions that have been bubbling to the surface. They hit the stage at a run and the place erupts. It's deafening. Screaming becomes squealing and tears start to fall as some kids are emotionally ill equipped to deal with the feeling that are overloading their systems. I can't hear what they are playing for the first quarter of the song. There is nothing that will penetrate the noise that's threatening to burst my eardrums. Motorhead were loud, but this is altogether different. I never thought it would ever cross my mind that earplugs would be necessary for a gig, but they sound like a good idea right now.
My daughter is bouncing along with everyone else and the seating we are in must be at it's maximum strain. Hundreds of people are pounding on it. If they all jump at the same time we're fucked.
The stage set is surreally heavily lifted from Duran Duran's Wild boys video with a smidgeon of the 'Waterworld' movie thrown in for good measure. I wouldn't be surprised if Kevin Costner swung in from stage left with gills a gaping. As the noise is abating I can tell that it's 'One for the radio' they are playing. Then it's just full pelt song after song mainly lifted from their latest album. It's all slick until Danny breaks a string and has to borrow an acoustic from Tom, but this might all be kidology. A bit of 'look at us all in this together' camaraderie. If it's not genuine then it's close enough to the real thing that it would be hard to tell fact from fiction. There isn't a lull. No real down time at all. It goes on and on and on. McFly are relentless it has to be said. Between songs there's some banter, but I'm only catching some of it.
Danny and Tom have a bit of clarity at times, but it's coming in and out like a radio station. The guy on bass sounds like a chipmunk yelping in tongues. I haven't a clue what he is saying. He could be quoting Shakespeare in Swahili for all I know. He's grinning like a lunatic though so as long as he's happy that's fine.
I'm realizing that I'm a pretty jaded fella when they are lifted on a moving platform to perform above the crowd. It is doing nothing for me. I've seen it all before. The platform settles closer to us for a special part of the night. The only reason I know it's special is because McFly tell me it is. It's got something to do with the Children in need charity and downloading tracks. Apart from that they are really just playing in a different part of the hall.
The Michael Jackson song 'Black or White' surprisingly enough gets a rock overhaul and sounds a fair bit better for it. It must be good, as I reckon this will be the part of the night that will remain in my memory longer than a week. After they leave the stage the noise is building up to a horrific level and if they don't come back on then a lynching is in the offing. Thankfully McFly can probably sense this and do the Five colours in her hair crowd pleaser as their last song.
I'm mystified at why this band can enjoy this amount of support. There good at what they do, but it's all so choreographed that it lacks the fire that makes live music something that can knock the breath from you. This is the safe alternative and the kids can barely handle it
For many of the people there this must be akin to a religious experience. They are worshiping at the feet of their living, breathing gods. It's crazy. Dawkins should write 'The McFly Delusion' and make it a pop up version. It would slay the x-mas market, or should that be sleigh?

The Jonas Brothers seem to be the next show that my girl wants to see. So with reservations I suppose I'll have to keep an eye out for tickets for that. I better get some quality gigs under my belt for me to be able to handle that one.
The journey home is uneventful and when I slip into bed I can still hear the buzz that I usually associate with a good time. It's still confusing.

Mott the Hoople - Hammersmith

Something else that I found elsewhere that I wrote and I thought was gone.
A blast from the more recent past.

Part one

Kel twitches and repositions herself under the swollen and unblinking moon that‘s been tracking us since we left Glasgow on the red eye express.
Riding high in the sky it’s occasionally blanketed by cloud cover but in the main its there relentlessly catching my attention.
When I look away it fills the periphery of my vision.
Its reflection is hanging everywhere.
I can pick it up on metallic surfaces and the far side windows. It’s even lurking on the face of a guys watch sitting across from me.
If I focussed I could probably catch a flash of it lurking in the drool at the corner of his mouth.
It's impossible to break eye contact with it, and there isn’t a hope in hell that it will blink first.
It’s a contributing factor to me not sleeping.
Not that I ever can when travelling.
There’s something about moving and sleeping that just doesn’t fit together.
I might be in a static position but the countryside around me isn’t. It’s unnatural.
No one else seems bothered.
Everyone is sleeping.
Soundly or fitfully it doesn’t matter. They’re still sleeping.
Maybe I’m just a mixed up kidult. (sic)
Another factor to my insomnia is that I can feel London tugging at me.
There’s a gravitational pull at work.
It’s not the city itself, but the gig that’s pulling at me.
It’s Mott.
The band I never thought I would see.
My dreams are encroaching on reality it seems.
They are taking shape……..forming……..becoming solid.
Kel sits straighter, opens her eyes and surveys the somnambulant scene, closes them and settles. I doubt she would even remember.
It’s reality encroaching on her dreams for a couple of seconds. Nothing more.

Part two

The sun is out and we’re Thames side. An elephant on stilts stands behind me. Time could be elastic, but we don’t dilly Dali as there is more to see. Too much to see. Too little time.
The whistle stop tour commences. I slip on the guise of the tour guide and show Kel the sites that I have never seen myself.
The London Eye, some Cathedrals, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.
The London of the postcards pass by in a blur.
We take to the underground and travel in subterranean tunnels to where the real London reveals itself in the form of Fulham Broadway.
Libations commence as we kill time and local characters come to the fore as we people watch.
A cross dressing woman passes and in an age when male attire has been co-opted by women everywhere this is a mean feet to pull off. It was all in the trousers. Or not, pedantically speaking.
Sleep deprivation and the small amount of alcohol consumed gives the hotel bed opiate like properties and I slip deep into its embrace.

Part three

A Floridian exudes the aura of the stranger in a strange land. He shares an expression with those who have woken only to find themselves lying in a bathtub sans kidney.
Hammersmith will do that to a septic tank.
He has tickets for three of the gigs and still hasn’t accepted that it is real.
It’s not what he says.
It’s in his expression.
It’s in his eyes and the tremble in his hand when he shakes mine.
He’s in the Apollo foyer with its delusions of granduer and he’s buying into it.
I bet he didn’t even see the flyover.
Fuck it though. Its his dream. The red MOTT THE HOOPLE lettering over the door is everything.
Nothing else matters.
He’s here. It’s happening and he is here. He has made it. HE IS HERE.

Part four

Joe Gideon and the Shark are Hunter S Thompson picking up a guitar, striking chords and ejaculating acid laced clarity as prose.
They have the answer for a question you didn’t ask.
Hardly anyone gets it.
I don’t care. It’s got me. I don’t hear them. I feel them. Everything about this road trip is emotionally tactile.
There’s a scarcity of interest never mind adulation so the name of Mott is raised to elicit a cheer.
It’s a tongue in cheek game of call and response.
They know that the connection isn’t there.
The glint in the eye gives it away.
You know the story of 'you had to be there'?
That’s the story.
Bemusement is the key word for the audience.
Somewhere along the line the ability to remain open to something different got lost. Reiteration of the past is the name of the game.
Confirmation of cemented ideas is all that is required post fifty. Don’t rock the boat daddio is the key.
No one appears to have filled Joe Gideon and the Shark in on it though and they are all the better for playing in the dark for their own amusement.

Part five.

Anticipation tastes like blood.
The sharks are bound to be circling.
For everyone who wants a fairy tale ending there’s those looking for a fall, a stumble, an opportunity to claim the band are mutton dressed as lamb, an old whore turning old tricks who claims class (like a toothless blowjob) never goes out of fashion.
The detractors are fucked though.
Rock and roll is evergreen. The proof is before us.
The stage, the Apollo, Hammersmith and by extension London itself belongs to Mott the Hoople tonight.
Hymn for the Dudes provides the naysayers with a cup of shut the fuck up, Rock and roll queen cranks it up a notch just to show that there‘s life in the old dog yet, the ramalama of Motts Sweet Jane hits the spot effortlessly.
It’s a mere three songs in and we KNOW this IS special.
The muscular swagger of One of the Boys gives the Rolling Stones a run for their money before Hunter unleashes Sucker on us. If there is another song that holds the undiluted essence of rock like Sucker does then I want to hear it
The Moon Upstairs maintains the momentum and with each song played the band have raised the stakes, building on the power of the performance and lifting us higher and higher.
The pace can’t go on like this forever though. So keeping in mind that too much too soon is never a good thing the old dogs dip into their bag of tricks and change the pace a bit with the original mixed up kid being ushered out.
The live version of I wish I was your mother manages to sidestep much of the Faces covering Dylan accusations and assumes a welcomed harder edge.
The detractors must be weeping now.
Mick Ralphs career out-with Mott deserves a nod, and it gets one when the spotlight picks him out and Ready for love gets an airing. It’s not all about Ian Hunter or even Mick Ralph though as Overend Watts steps up to get us back on track with some more Mott material and rips through Born in 58.
The Ballad of Mott the Hoople serves as a bitter sweet reminder that being in the band wasn’t always riding high and touching the stars. These guys have experienced every high and low of the music business and lived to tell the tale.
It’s that sort of been there, done that life that gives Sweet Angeline a certain something that young guys couldn’t bring to it.
Walkin’ with a mountain sees Hunter play his Iron Cross guitar. The only hint of their glam past. There’s no stack heals or flairs on show tonight. Tonight’s show is about the music. The spectacle of the band playing together makes the over the top theatre of the seventies surplus to requirements.
Dylan’s like a Rolling stone is slipped on like an old coat. It’s maybe threadbare in a few places but its comfortable and no one is going to complain. It fits and isn’t that all that matters?
The piano intro to the Golden age of rock and roll acts as a shot of adrenaline to some of the flagging audience. Mott aint flagging, but some of the crowd are exerting more energy in a few hours tonight than they have in over a decade. It could be touch and go if some of them make it to the end.
Honaloochie Boogie features original singer Stan Tippins on backing vocals. A real blast from the past.
Mick Ralphs guitar work on All the way from Memphis howls and plays tag with Hunters vocals and Verden Allen’s sweeping keyboards.
In years to come when technology gives us dictionaries with moving visual aids to words then footage of this will be used to explain what sublime means.
…..and that’s your lot as Hunter says.
Although it isn’t as no one wants to go home. So roll away the stone gets punted forward before the mega hit All the young Dudes is finally unveiled.
The pace is starting to take its toll on the band. You keep on knockin’ struggles to get out of the starting gates and is the first point in the night when there is a stumble, but show closer Saturday gigs manages to real it back in and finish on a high note.
The Mott fire may be dampened due to their collective ages, but its far from extinguished.
They brought it on home and proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that experience is an able replacement for the balls out hunger of youth.
Would I do it again? Spend the cash, the hours traveling for this?
I would have done it every night for the rest of the dates is the answer.