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Tuesday 29 November 2011

Sam Christison - 3 Songs about you and 1 about me.

Sam Christison isn't the usual sort of artist that would feature here.
It's not that his style of music clashes and doesn't meet some woolly idea of what should and should not be reviewed, but more so that as an atheist my own tastes don't often gravitate towards music that delivers a religious message through their lyrics.
However that's not to say that I don't appreciate talent or a degree of spirituality, and here across the course of four songs there is plenty of both on offer.
There's a soft commitment to his faith that holds your attention without causing any offence.
No one is looking to push an agenda, but instead Sam is wanting to simply share his outlook on life, as most artists do.
That part of how he perceives the world around him is shaped through his faith just adds a little something to it.
Even when it's not blatantly on show.
I guess the point would be that I consider that it sounds grounded and that slightly different source has given him a maturity as a lyricist that you wouldn't normally expect from a fifteen year old.
The accomplished musicianship also lends itself to creating a layered but simplistic backdrop to his voice, and for a debut effort he's already streets ahead of much of musical peers, and that's not to say fifteen year old peers as I'm inclusively talking about everyone who is coming forth as a singer/songwriter in Ayrshire.
It s lovely and positive introduction to a young man who I'm sure will continue to throw up surprises as he continues to push forward in life.
Free download here -

The Plimptons - Christmas all over this town

The Plimptons are back, and the tykes have even had the audacity to release a Christmas single.
Bah Humbug. Don't they know it's only November.
I suppose I can forgive them though. Especially as they're giving it away for free.
As usual the band are steadfastly refusing to be nailed own.
The comedy punk ska pop tag that's normally cast about when they are mentioned doesn't really come close to describing them at all.
It never does.
Think more along the lines of the The Monkees, but from 'Head' rather than the television serious.
Then hold that thought for a second and consider that Vic Reeves has decided to re-boot it for a modern audience, and then think to yourself that maybe that covers about 10% of what The Plimptons are all about.
Yeah. I know. What does that even mean?
Anyway, as I've come to expect from the band there's a great deal more going on than you would initially expect from lending a casual ear .
The sometimes ramshackle approach often comes across like the intelligent kid acting like a bit of an arse as they are terrified that their peers will suss out that they are in fact as clever as fuck.
Take for instance the inclusion of a Kazoo solo in Christmas is over.
It's funny and works in the context of the song, but instead of it being a bit silly, which it is, it is also a bit of mad genius.
The opening track 'Christmas all over this town' similarly seems lightweight and a bit of a joke.
It's sort of casually cast out there, but it's also pretty much lyrically sussed and doesn't pander to having a swipe at Christmas, but instead casts a slightly nostalgic eye over how friendship need to be maintained.
A mates for life. Not just for Christmas. Remember that kids.
The whole concept of the song shows that the guys are actually working on quite a few levels.
The same can be said for Xmas in Motherwell.
There's always more than meets the eye when you get new material from the Plimptons.
They very well might be the Optimus Prime of the - sort of - Glasgow punk scene.
If this is the sort of thing that rings your bell then do yourself a favour and don't just download a free copy at but also jump over to and get 'Whats's Left'. With over 50 tracks it's the bargain of the year at £2.

Mondophonics - Last Band (In The World)

The death of rock and roll is has always been greatly exaggerated.
It's a statement that's more often than not uttered from the lips of those who have become too old and jaded to continue to make the effort to go out and look under the rocks to see what is lurking.
The truth is that rock and roll isn't just alive, but it's also still as dirty under the nails and ready to party as it has ever been.
If anyone needs proof of this then they need only go as far as the debut single from Bobby Durango's Mondophonics and they will hear that the boys from the wrong side of the tracks are still ripping it up and probably always will.
When Bobby sings that 'We are the band, the last band in the world' he knows that they aren't, but the sentiment that from looking about the mainstream it sure as hell can feel like it rings true.
Or maybe it's more a case that they are wanting to tell everyone that similar to the Clash they are now the only band that matters.
Regardless of the true meaning the songs simply got that balls to the wall attitude of a desperate man cornered.
They're shouting here we are so come and take your best shot as we aint going anywhere.
It's the aural equivalent of the closing scenes of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The soundtrack to going out with your guns blazing.
By the time they roll into 'Two More Hits' the party is in full swing and they must surely have won over anyone who considers that they still have some mojo cooking.
Forget yesterday and enjoy today as tomorrow might not come. That's what I'm getting from this.
The icing on the cake is that if you do buy the single then the band will throw in the songs on mp3, plus an additional bonus track called 'Nobody's There'.
It's a song that could be a single in it's own right. There's nothing weak at all about any of the three songs that the band have used to introduce themselves to the world.
This the real deal. The band you have been waiting for.
At the moment I might be the only person to have a copy of this in the UK. It's up to you to change that.
It's a limited run though so I would advice you to be quick, or a year from now you could be looking at paying some silly money for it on ebay or the like.
Contact and grab it.

Monday 28 November 2011

Michael Monroe - Glasgow Garage - 27/11/11

I'm standing watching Crash Diet and all I can think is that this must be what Steel Panther must be like if you removed the punchline from their jokes.
I can barely make out a word the singer is squealing at us and when I can it sounds like he is saying something about the children of the night.
It seems that originality is not on the menu this evening.
The singer has all of Billy Idol's moves choreographed to perfection and he also sports a rather magnificent mohican that looks as if it was stolen from the set of the Mad Max movie Beyond the Thunderdome, but while that may sound rather promising there's something about the performance that's more pantomime dame than glam punk.
In fact do you remember Wrathchild?
Well Crash Diet could be the result of a gang bang that they were involved in way back in the early eighties.
Unfortunately the talent, no matter how meagre it was, that Wrathchild had wasn't passed down to their bastard offspring.
I personally don't get what they are doing.
It's like an inside joke that no one is letting me in on.
Some will say that's my loss, but if this is the shape of things to come in the world of glam rock then I doubt I'll be dipping my toe in to check the temperature.
Thankfully it wasn't long until Michael Monroe and his band took to the stage and showed why they have just been awarded album of the year from 'Classic Rock' magazine with a set that most would call a master class in how to promote rock and roll to an audience.
With Steve Conte, Dregen, Sami Yaffa and Karl Rockfist backing him up Michael has quite possibly the fiercest rocknroll band on the planet as his brothers in arms.
They're simply on fire.
Michael moves like Iggy Pop on amphetamine laced steroids. He's a blur who spit out the lyrics with a passion that men a fraction of his age couldn't manage, and he does it every night.
It's all sort of mind blowing to me.
Meanwhile his band are all smiles and clearly enjoying feeding off each others beats, riffs and solos. Everything they do sounds organic and the power that is being expelled from them could probably light up a city if it was captured.
This is the real lightning in a bottle deal, and it's as loud as a thunder to.
It's the Rolling Stones, MC5, Little Richard, The Stooges, The Who, The Sex Pistols and the Ramones all rolled into one and channelled through sheer force of will and personality out into the audience.
The performance is a force of nature.
The set itself features more material from Sensory Overdrive than it did when they steam rolled through town before, but still manages to find space to fit in a smattering of Hanoi Rocks, Demolition 23 and Michael Monroe songs that the hardcore fans would consider unforgivable if dropped.
The surprise addition of an impromptu funked up jam on Aerosmith's Walk This Way during the introduction of the band members was one of those 'you had to be there' moments.
It sounded more like the Chilli Peppers than anything that Tyler and Perry could come up with and provided an ample example to anyone who doubted it that this is a band with the chops to do just about anything they wanted to.
Is anyone getting what I am saying here.
I'm saying that right at this moment in time I don't think there's another band that come close to touching these guys .
Okay. While I'll freely admit that my heart sank a little when Ginger Wildheart left the band I've got to say that Dregen is just as perfect a foil for Steve Conte to play with, and Sami seems to have found an onstage partner in crime as Dregen duck walks around him and throws his guitar all over the place.
All is well and everything is still on track.
This is the third time I've seen Michael Monroe in this year alone and it just keeps getting better and better, and once the left the stage the night was over for me.
For me it's simply a case that no one can follow these guys and as I've seen Wednesday 13 a few times before I knew that I would find his performance to be an anticlimactic end to the evening.
So after a quick hello and goodbye to Steve and Sami, who were proving themselves to be more than willing to get down and meet the fans, it was time to head across the road to Nice and Sleazys for some liquid refreshments and make plans for the Steve Conte and the Crazy Truth gig that will be coming to the Soundhaus in Glasgow on the 6th of December.
With some luck I might even squeeze in the Quireboys before that.
I think that two days will allow me enough time to come down from the high and the buzzing in my ears to abate.
Then I'll be ready to do it all again.
See ya down the front.

Sunday 27 November 2011

Sycophantic praise kills art.

Well it's been another strange week with yet another review acting as a catalyst for personal threats to be made.
In my opinion that part is now in the past, but it does throw up the usual questions.
When is a bad review damaging? Should ego's be taken into consideration? Is making a subjective comment really the end of the world?
Well I would say that a bad review isn't damaging at all.
Of course I would (sic).
If someone reading a review decides to check out the artist in question then they will obviously make their own mind up about the talent, or lack of talent, that is being displayed.
The end result is that one more person has listened to the artist(s), and isn't that what they all want?
As for personal ego's....well that's not something I have any control over.
If an individual is that thin skinned that they can't handle a negative review then the performing acts maybe isn't where they should be looking to settle.
Isn't criticism of anything that is put out to the public something that comes with the territory?
Those who have the confidence in what they do will consider a critique and take what they feel is relevant from it and move on.
….and obviously a bad review is never the end of the word, but it can be the end of a dream.
In this way it's a bit Darwinian with his theories about the survival of the fittest being writ large for all to see.
Consider x-factor for a moment.
Think about the opening rounds where those who seriously lack talent are cast like the Christians to the lions to be publicly mauled.
When we feel pity for then and they proclaim, 'but my family and friends think I'm great' then who do we think has dealt them the cruellest hand?
The panel of judges, or the family and friends who weren't honest enough with them?
I know who I think made them look like fools in public.
There's nothing wrong with pursuing a dream, but if anyone wants to realize it then they must accept that there can be limitations.
For instance if you're a tone deaf gentleman of seventy five then you're never going to play Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz on the biggest stages that the world can provide.
You can put your own production on in a local community hall and I'll admit that I'd pay top dollar to see that, but in all honesty real fame and fortune is going to be just out of your grasp by about a million miles.
That's the reality kicking in that some people fail to consider.
In my opinion criticism is a good thing.
Whenever someone makes a critical point (and simply calling someone a cunt isn't one) then it's at that point that the future can be viewed like a flow chart.
Is there a point to the critique?
Yes? No?
If no then that's it. Discount it and keep doing what you do.
If yes then another two choices are available.
You either consider that the best that you can do isn't enough and stop doing it, or address the issues raised and continue onwards and hopefully upwards.
I guess the whole point is that although the criticism is out there it is really down to the individual in how they take it.
They can have a healthy and honest approach or throw their toys out of the pram.
This takes me to another little problem that I have with the people who can't take criticism.
In lambasting the reviewer with threats and abuse what they are really doing is attempting to stop the person exercising the right to freedom of speech while exercising theirs at the top of their lungs.
How hypocritical is that?
You can't say you you don't like my music in public, but I can pass comment on your parentage, sexuality, looks, gender, height and threaten you as I see fit in public.
There's a lovely sense of karmic balance in that isn't there?
I've had it all over many years and the well is nearly dry.
I'm sure that every once in a while an original abusive comment will come along and amuse me, but without that originality I'd have to say that I'm a bit bored with it all.
Something to ponder as a last point.
If we all refused to criticize then there would be no quality control and all the good stuff would struggle to get attention amongst the drab and amateurish crap that would pile up looking to grab our attention.

Friday 18 November 2011

Melisa Kelly - Something to shout about

I filmed this last night in Su Casa in Ayr and I thought it deserved a blog mention of its own.
Not because of the camera work as it was a basic digital camera I used, and not because of the sound quality, because that isn't amazing either, but simply because in some way it captured the rawness of the performance from Melisa Kelly.
Keep in mind that this is her with a stinking cold to. Fantastic huh?

Su Casa - 17/11/11

I've always felt that the adage 'if you haven't got anything nice to say then don't say anything' seems to be more about individuals attempting to avoid criticism than them trying to promote positivity.
Then again I could be wrong. It has been known to happen.
So for a couple of weeks I'm going to give it a try in the reviews on the blog and see how that works out.
So here goes.
Last night in Su Casa I seen Martin McLaughlan. I have nothing else to say about that.
Next was Matt Scott who I have plenty to say about.
Matt is a star in the making.
If you had a tick list made up that covered every single attribute that would lead to success then there's already a little tick in every box.
He's an accomplished musician.
He can write songs that have a depth to them that most young men of his age couldn't match.
He has the ability to convey the emotion in the lyrics, and I'm sure the ladies would say that he aint too bad on the eye either.
Like I said he ticks all the boxes.
Imagine a young man who knows the importance of Dylan and Springsteen as songwriters, understands how the blues work and similar to a band like the Kings of Leon is able to make it all sound fresh.
That's what Matt does, and all that he needs to take it to the next level is to be in the right place at the right time.
After Matt we were treated to a couple playing guitar and violin.
Unfortunately I only caught the name of the violinist. The lovely Francesca Masucci.
I got the impression that it was more of a jam than anything else, but when two people can follow the nuanced moves of each other in the manner that they could it becomes something that bit special.
It all sounded very evocative, and with your eyes closed you could have imagined that you were fireside in a gypsy encampment in Spain, or somewhere similar.
It was a fantastic - if short - set, and one that Su Casa should be rightly proud of giving a platform to.
Jamie Uchima was to play next and I enjoyed his poetic style and delivery.
Another nice gear change in the music for the audience
There sounded like there was a great deal of a Goo Goo Dolls influence in the guitar playing, but vocally and lyrically there's not a hint of it.
Three songs into his set and it was all positivity. However I have nothing to say about the last song of his set.
See what I did there?
Anyway onwards to the more positive comments again.
Little Fire was to follow Jamie, and along with one of Melisa Kelly's Harmless Thieves on cajon and Francesca Masucci making her second appearance of the night, he ran through a few of his songs that I'm already familiar with.
Yet it has to be said that in the context of a small band, rather than solo, the material is given wings. Little Fire is great on his own, but with others it just takes it all into another direction that is equally as impressive.
The violin in particular goes hand in hand with the material and gives his voice a solid foundation to layer itself over.
Very lovely, and maybe a small hint of what is to come from Little Fire in the future.
I've seen the next band Fole, and front man James Foley, a couple of times now and I've always been impressed with them, but this time they seemed sharper, faster and more urgent than they have been previously, and it was all good.
There song 'Tightrope' sounded especially muscular and the it's good to see that the original music that they are playing can be shaded in different ways.
If I was to list a top ten of favourite Ayrshire acts then Fole would definitely be on it.
The last act to entertain us was the irrepressible Melisa Kelly.
I say irrepressible as she is down with a cold and while some singers would use that as a reason to pull a performance Melisa doesn't, and apart from a short apology it's all business.
Similar to Matt Scott, Melisa is a talent waiting to be discovered.
She has the whole package going on to.............and that voice. What a voice.
Every once in a while female vocalists come along and through the sheer force of the passion in their voices manage to draw attention to themselves.
Billie Holiday did it in the field of jazz and Janis Joplin rocked the world. Both had that raw attention to the detail of the vocal and Melisa has it to.
You believe every single utterance. She's one hundred percent authentic in her delivery, she doesn't just sing the songs, but emotes them.
You really had to be there, but as some weren't I'm hoping to get Fole and Melisa down to play a Sunday Session in 2012 and I can't wait to see them blow everyone away.
Thanks to Robert Gemmell here's some footage shot on a phone from the night.

Wednesday 16 November 2011

The sliding scales of perception

'People are strange' isn't just a Doors song. It's a fact of life.
We are indeed strange, and one of the strangest things about us is how we can rationalize behaviour to the point where two people can do the same thing, and we can then claim that one persons actions are unacceptable, while the other persons are not just fine, but maybe even admirable.
Probably the best example of this is how we consider one individual to be a heinous criminal for taking another persons life in an act of violence, but it's a heroic act if it is state sanctioned.
Similarly this sort of excusing poor behaviour extends to the world of entertainment and that's also where the sometimes admirable angle comes in.
For instance the alcoholic who while drunkenly driving home manages to hit every other vehicle in his street is a complete and utter pain in the rectum, and without a doubt a danger to the public.
However when a rock start does it then his, or her, actions are an amusing anecdote to be repeated across the dinner table.
This must be human nature though as we see it every day in how we promote this strange attitude in the defence of family and friends.
If a neighbours kid tramples through your garden managing to destroy the flower bed that you have cultivated over a six month period, then they are classed as the offspring of Genghis Khan and nothing short of a public flogging will suffice as a punishment, but if the shoe is on the other foot and it's your kid that did it then it's a different story.
The livid neighbour is painted as someone who takes life too seriously. The curmudgeon that should get a grip.
I'm sure anyone reading could give more examples, and many - if they are honest - could admit to acting in this way to.
Personally I've never really understood this sliding scale of what is, and isn't acceptable, depending on who is displaying the poor behaviour, and I admit that I'm in the minority with my inability to rationalize it.
I don't do it with friend or family and consider that everyone without exception should accept responsibility for their actions, and the backlash – if it is fair - that they receive.
Very often we see people who would offer no second chances to a stranger magically finding compassion and empathy for a friend, and then throwing forth chance after chance after chance until the antisocial actions of their compadre can be described in amused terms such as 'Ach, you know what they are like?'
Yes. I do know what they are like actually.
They're an arse, and if it was anyone else you would be advocating that they got a slap.
Maybe even a high five, to the face, with a chair.
Is this attitude actually helpful?
Not the high five with the chair obviously, but this sliding scale being applied.
I don't think it is.
Why is one person a character and another a cunt when they do exactly the same thing?
I've asked this of people that I like and respect recently, and while the logic is accepted the rationalizing continues.
There's a distinct lack of equality to it all and it twists my melons.
Loyalty is an admirable trait, but misguided loyalty..........well, you know.

Tuesday 15 November 2011

Jackie Leven.

This afternoon I was informed that Jackie Leven had lost his fight with cancer, and now I feel a bit lost.
Sadness has descended on my mood and it's difficult to convey why I feel this sense of loss.
I'm not sure, but tears might not be far off.
It's not like me. Not like me at all.
I mean I didn't know the man, and although I'd shared a few conversations with him over the years, and a pint on one occasion, that doesn't mean that there was any real kinship between us.
I am simply a fan. No more and no less.
The only connection we had was his music.
He wrote and performed his songs and I loved them.
I loved the brutal honesty and the soft voice that promoted it.
I can honestly say that I have never heard a song that he wrote that I didn't like.
Initially when I was told that he had slipped away in the night I passed the sad news on, and I think that by doing this I sort of avoided addressing it myself, but now in this quiet moment with his voice slipping out of the speakers I feel a great sense of mortality.
All things come to an end.
The last time I seen Jackie play was on the twelfth of August in a bar called Jollys in Kilmarnock.
The gig had been arranged by a guy called Jimmy Logan and I will now be forever in his debt for providing us with a performer of Jackie's talent to entertain us in such intimate surroundings.
Jackie himself was as usual a star.
That voice was clear, distinctly beautiful, and ill health never came close to touching it.
I'm thankful for that and I'm very pleased I have this memory of him.
I wish I could share it with the world.

This isn't one of Jackies self penned songs, but it feels apt.

Monday 14 November 2011

Sunday Sessions

In early September of this year I decided that it was maybe time for me to dip my toe into promoting some gigs again.
Something on a smaller scale than I'd previously done as I was keen to avoid taking the financial bath that I've found myself splashing about in more times than I care to recall.
I suppose in hindsight the urge to get involved again was down to Kelly and myself visiting Su Casa and being impressed with the set up that they have.
Getting the cream of the local crop from the west coast of Scotland to perform once a month on a Sunday afternoon seemed appealing, and easily do-able.
So after checking if there was enough people interested in it that's just what we did.
The first one was in October and we managed to secure Matt Scott, Little Fire and Emma Forman to perform for us.
Sadly Emma had to drop out of the line up due to feeling ill, but at very short notice Colin Hunter stepped in and saved the day.
It was a fair success for a first stab at it.
Instead of charging the audience a set price we billed it as a 'pay what you want' afternoon with the audience deciding themselves how much the entertainment was worth by donating to a bucket being passed around.
Colin performed first and played a set that set the bar high for Little Fire and Matt Scott.
Refreshingly, and bravely, he didn't rely on material that we were familiar with and instead decided to run with brand new songs that he has been working on for a band project he is trying to get off the ground.
Based on what we heard that afternoon this is going to be an exciting prospect to look forward to.
Colin really is exceptionally talented and I'd love it of people started to let what he does sink in and gain some appreciation for it.
Next Little Fire ran through some material that cemented his reputation as an artist who is going places.
Previously I'd heard him to a song or two at Su Casa, but this was my first experience of a longer set of his songs, and the performance certainly lived up to expectations.
Currently I'm aware of a few opportunities that could push his career forward to another level so fingers crossed that come 2012 Little Fire will be the name on the lips of everyone as the next Scottish act to break through nationally.
Matt Scott finished the first Sunday Session with a solid performance in front of a home town crowd that had them baying for more. So successful was his set that he ran out of material, and for a couple of seconds it looked like the audience were going to insist that he ran through them again.
Over all I would have preferred it to be a bit busier, but that's not a complaint.
Those who had made the effort to attend were enthusiastically appreciative of the artists who were playing, and they certainly had no problem with dipping into their pockets to contribute towards paying Colin, Matt and Jamie aka Little Fire who all got an even split of the money raised.
Oh, Did I say this was a non profit venture with all proceeds going to the artists?
Well there you go.
With the success of this under our belts I immediately went home and started work on Novembers line up.
This was to be Emma Forman, who was over her little bout of ill health, Ari Pournaras IV who is better known for fronting the excellent Rose Parade, Ross Gilchrist and Anna Sweeney.
Anna kick started the afternoon off with some lovely country tinged songs that managed to beguile the audience and from the comments expressed definitely garnered her more fans.
Emma arrived just in time from Dumfries to basically walk in, do her set and then rush off for the second and last train of the day home.
The effort she made was greatly appreciated and similar to the last time that I'd seen her play she effortlessly impressed.
First of the men to play was Ari whose stripped down take on his bands material was as good as the versions played with his band mates.
This was his first gig off the back of a very successful appearance at King Tuts Wah Wah Hut so it was an honour to have him play and once again those who had made the effort to pop along were richly rewarded for doing so.
Lastly to play was Ross Gilchrist and I've waxed lyrical often enough about his talents for everyone to know that I'm a fan.
His performance was what I'd been waiting to see for a while.
Normally Ross has played a supporting role on bills, and has had to tailor his material to fit the context of that, but with this he had the freedom to just go for it, and that what he did to great effect.
I'm very pleased with myself that I played a small part in getting people to listen to Ross and hopefully he is another artist that will get the recognition that he deserves.
This second Sunday Session wasn't as well attended as the first, not by much though, and those who did come along dug deep and all the acts got roughly the same as those who had played in October.
So, so far so good.
December is a busy month for people so I've decided that I'll shelve the Sunday Sessions for one month and return in January with more artists who deserve a platform to entertain an audience from.
I hope you can come along.
If you are unsure about it then ask about and see what those who have come along say about it, and I'm sure they will tell you that you should get your behind down to Jollys on a Sunday afternoon.
Big thanks, as always, must go to the venue management and staff in Jollys Sports Bar who continue to punch above their weight in both supporting and providing live music to Ayrshire.
If they were to be marked out of ten then they get an eleven.

Steel Panther - Balls Out

Many years ago, way back in the mists of time for some, Motley Crue stormed onto the Sunset Strip with a fuck you attitude and proceeded to mix attitude laden rock, punk and glam together into something that captured the imagination of a global audience.
It wasn't to last long though, and by the time their third album was released they - and bands of their ilk - had mainly lost the hunger and succumbed to revisiting the polished rock that they had initially set out to distance themselves from.......... and with that the dreaded hair metal years would be ushered in.
Thankfully an antidote for that limp wrist cock rock was quickly found in the grunge scene that came along and slapped the shit out of the hair metal acts.
Time has however been kind to some of them, and although the chances of a new wave of bands emulating those who pioneered this wave of rock are slim there is a niche where people playing this style can flourish, and that's in the angle of ripping the piss out of it while maintaining the quality of the musicianship.
It's all basically the same thing, but done with a great deal of self deprecating humour.
The best of the limited bunch are of course Steel Panther.
In 2009 they dug deep into the past and released their down and dirty sexually explicit tongue in cheek masterpiece 'Feel the Steel' that paid homage to those days where tricked out Harleys, hairspray, lip gloss and sex, drugs and rock and roll ruled the strip.
It was a release that perfectly captured the times with a wink and a smile. Not so much a nostalgia trip, but more an affectionate arse slap of a homage that was rolled out on a carpet of hilarious profanities.
Now here they are again with 'Balls Out' and similar to the debut they have remained true to the chronological history of the original movement by lampooning the more sterile and polished hair metal that came after the initial fresher blast.
Only once again they are doing it better.
The difference between Steel Panther and the bands whose music they are very obviously using as a foundation is that with the added 'fuck you if you can't take a joke' attitude has actually made the music far more relevant than the original acts were.
This isn't a shadowy copy of what has come before, a diluted attempt at capturing something and falling short, but instead a joke writ large and screaming for some well deserved attention as it doesn't just surpass what has come before, but instead dances on the graves of the originators with devilish glee.
Christ knows what Motley Crue and Def Leppard were thinking when they added Steel Panther to the bill of their UK dates as it looks like they are going to get their arses handed to them, and the only way that they can compete with the boys is if they accept that they are a joke themselves and indulge in extracting the urine from themselves, but how likely is that?
Anyway. I'm off to slip into some spandex, snort a line and jack off to some old footage of Poison.
I suppose I should add that I'll not be doing this due to any sexually explicit nudges in that direction from Steel Panther. It's just my usual Monday morning routine.

Thursday 10 November 2011

In conversation with Stars of the Silverscreen

El Diablo - How you doing KJ? I've been doing a little bit of research since receiving your debut album and according to your website you've all been paying their dues in different bands prior to the formation of Stars of the Silverscreen.
So do you want to fill us in on what everyone was doing and how you all finally got to the point of forming the band?
Kj - Yeah, We've all played in different bands before Stars of the Silverscreen with varying successes. Our original bass guitarist, Manny, and myself were in an Irish influenced punk band and our former drummer, now guitar player played in Refused & Abhinanda.
Originally we got together when Eppy, the band Manny and myself were in split.
I called an old friend Matt and asked if he wanted to start another project, and as we had a lot of musical common ground he agreed and brought Fret from Abhinanda along.
I wrote a few songs and we started rehearsing.
That was the real beginning, but shortly after that Matt had to move to Stockhom and we had to find another guitarist.
We quickly picked up a mutual friend, Peter, who Manny had previously played with in several bands and as he's the greatest guitarist we know it all fell into place quite easily. Especially as he was moving to Umea at the time.
It was a sort of right place right time opportunity.
In hindsight it was a match made in heaven. Like the missing piece of a puzzle had been found.
Peters licks and guitar solos gave us a whole new dimension in sound and that inspired me to write even more and we ended up recording two demos.
Sadly, shortly after that, Manny decided to put his bass on the shelf and we were left looking for another member and we asked Freddy to join, and he jumped right in and got down to learning all the material for our debut album.

ElD - There's been a few people that have come and gone for different reasons then. Is the line up settled now and ready to take the band to the next stage?
Kj - Well yeah that's true, it'has been a bumpy ride, and it didn't stop there with the line up changes. When we got back from supporting the US Bombs in Germany Peter dropped the bomb that he wanted to focus on his career as a metal guitarists and we were all in shock, but luckily Fret is a great guitarist and always missed playing guitar so he stepped up to the plate with flying colours.
He has a more shitty garage feel to his playing which in a way suits the sound of the band better
And after finding Joey Nova on drums we're now ready for world domination.

ElD - You've had a couple of higher profile supports in Europe. US Bombs and The Bones to name a couple. How did that help the band?
Kj - It's always good to get out there and play. Apart from being fun it does raise the profile of the band. I've known The Bones for many years now and have gotten great support from them. They're great guys. The tour we did with them were amazing. It's really cool that we picked up new fans, and even had both promoters & fans came up to us after the shows saying how rare it is that the support act gets such a welcome as we did. It's cool when people say that our set was the show of the century. You really feel that you are connecting with an audience when that's the reaction. I Can't wait to get back on the road. It's been too long!

ElD - Now that you have the promoters onside and these supports tucked under your belt are you hoping for a label to come along? Or do you think the way ahead is to go independent and do it all yourself?
Artists like Ginger Wildheart and bands from Fishbone to The Dollyrots seem to be doing well cutting out the labels as middle men and dealing directly with their fan base.
Kj - The thought has cross my mind from time to time. The new demo songs are really really good and I have complete faith in them, and if I had the time and finances to support a independent release I would, but I don't have the time or finances. So we are at the point where we feel that any help froma fully supportive label that would put in as much effort as we would is what we need to act as the catalyst to push us forward. It would be great to hit the studio for real and concentrate on making music without distractions I work 24/7 for this band all ready, and releasing the album ourselves,,,,,,hmm well I just don't think I have enough time to do it right. We could also do with some contacts for a good promotion job, but yes, I think the releasing of material directly to the fans can be the right way to go once you established. It makes sense.
At the moment though we need a label to get behind us. So is there anyone out there that wants to come along for the ride then get in touch as we are seriously ready to work our asses off.

ElD - It's been a couple of years since you released your debut album.
How is the follow up coming along?
Kj - We're writing new songs at the moment.
The ideas are coming fast and I'm hoping that the rest of the guys will get involved in the song-writing process with me and maybe even present me with some kick ass songs.
The plan is to record it during the winter, and if that works out we will get Boner from The Bones as producer this time as well.

ElD - Here in the UK rock music has to an extent faded into the background, but in Mainland Europe the fire still appears to burn bright. Why do you think this is?
Kj - Yeah it's a shame. I watch MTV2 from time to time trying to see what's happening over there. Some cool stuff, but it seem the UK pop thing is still the most you'll see on that channel.
Bands like The Yo Yo's etc just seem gone? Disappeared into the mists of time.
We'd love to come to the UK to try and restore the brits with some kick ass punk r'n'r. We always have a great time in Germany & Spain. But even there it's starting to be more of a struggle getting gigs. So maybe we are just a few years behind you on the same downward slide. I don't know. Right now the economy sucks so everything is turned upside down...I notice a big change just in the past two years. It's sad really.

ElD - What do you think the answer is? Some people I know have been pushing for bands to become a bit more organized and creative. Advocating working out-with the boundaries of the music business by releasing their own albums and booking their own tours with like minded people. It's not a new idea, but it does seem to be gathering a bit of momentum. Do you think that maybe we all have to go back to square one and build up something different rather than trying to breathe some live into a system that seems to be failing?
I think new ways to reach out is a must. I also think it's a bit of a catch22 at the moment. You can't get a tour if you don't have an album, you won't get signed unless you tour 250 days a year, you know...a little bit exaggerated...but you know what I mean?
Something needs to be done...just not sure what. Being organized is a must. Having the attitude to go into it for the long haul.
Maybe it's time for a new punk movement to shake things up?
I mean, we're not doing this for the money...if that was the case then we'd have given up a long time ago. But that doesn't mean a band can keep doing stuff for free either.
The reality is that a tour costs, making an album cost. And the money received mostly cover expenses if you're lucky.
So it's hard touring all year around without some money left over. 'Cause it's nice to have a home to come home to after a tour you know haha...
Also the fact that bands keep playing in front of their own crew more or less doesn't help. You can become over exposed without gaining ground.
Why people stopped showing up for gigs? I don't know. Maybe it's because bands doesn't sell albums any more so they have to be on tour all the time, and then after a few years people have seen so many bands of the same bands playing again and again that they just don't bother showing up any more. Or do they think it's easier watching the show on Youtube instead?
I have no idea?
Don't get me wrong, I´m not against online media...Just wondering where it all went wrong?
I sometimes think it shouldn't be that complicated. I just wanna play R'n'R!

ElD - ….and that's it KJ. In one little sentence you've echoed what virtually everyone in a band at one time says. You just want to play Rock'n'Roll, and with that I would like to say thanks for taking the time out to jaw a while, and for those reading you gotta check out the band, and if someone somewhere who is looking to invest in a band, whether that be releasing something or offering gigs or promotions then here's one right under your nose that I will highly recommend.


The larger than life legend that was Hunter S Thompson never actually said "The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side."
Never the less it is very easy to excuse people for their misguided use of it as it simply rings true.
It's a comment that encapsulates perfectly the sort of people who gravitate towards music and see it - and those who make it - as the cash cow waiting to be slaughtered.
I'm well aware of this sort as over the years I have come across my fair share of the fuckin' chancers.
The capitalist whores who have no affinity for music as an art form and simply see those who create it as the host that they can parasitically bleed dry.
These cocksuckers don't even take advantage of situations that arise, but instead go hell for leather to engineer them.
Part of the problem is that they have created a symbiotic relationship with anyone who wishes to be an artist in their own right.
Bands and solo artists alike misguidedly consider these middlemen to be essential to their survival, or at the very least people who can promote their career in one way or another.
It's bullshit.
Complete and utter crap being swallowed by individuals who really should know better.
Recently I've seen yet another battle of the bands contest popping up with the first prize being the support slot to a nationally touring artist.
It's not even for the tour, but for one night only.
At £6 all the friends and family - and there are many - of the bands and artists can trundle along and line the pockets of the promoters and the venue while the people who make and play the actual music sit with bated breath waiting for a crumb to fall off the table for them.
It's shit, and don't get me started on all the underhanded dealings that goes on with this sort of set up as well.
How many times does the best band really win?
More often than not this is just an event created so that the parasites can ascertain who can sell the most tickets so that they can then exploit them and swell the crowd on the night of the headline acts gig.
It has nothing to do with talent. It's about bums on seats and creating something that allows them to have two bites at the financial cherry.
...and that the best case scenario.
The worst - and I've seen it - is when a band who has the second cousin of one of the judges on bass win by performing a mediocre rip off of what's in vogue and a cover song played badly.
On the night I witnessed that I sat behind the judges and watched them chat inanely through all the sets played and then start to clap the winners as they took to the stage.
There was no doubt what the end result of that night was going to be and I'm pleased to say that the judging panel got a verbal mauling from the crowd for their less than honest appraisal of the acts, but then again I'm sure they didn't give a fuck as they profited from the mugs, including myself, who were baying for their blood.
When is this going to stop? When are the people who make the music going to grow a pair and stop colluding with those who would fuck them over?
I'm pissed off with it, and in saying so I'm probably limiting my options of enjoying a night of live music as I've already ruffled the feathers of one of the big players
I also seem to be making more enemies on a weekly basis from the pond life at the bottom of the pool to.
They know who I'm talking about and to use a second quote, and one this time that isn't a misquote 'Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn.'
So what can be done here? Well to answer my own question what can be done is that YOU. The artist and punter alike can simply stop supporting this system.
Look for the venues and promoters who offer the good deals. The ones who want to work with people in a more ethical manner and understand that a fair distribution of any money accrued benefits everyone involved.
Ask about and the names of those who work in this way will come to you. Word of mouth is an excellent resource.
It really is that simple, and the upside is that the people and venues who are genuinely supportive of what you do will prosper, and therefore in time will be in a better position to help artists.
Lets all stop the shit floating to the top.
Why the fuck is anyone wanting to give a leg up and line the pockets of those who would exploit them I'll never know.
You're a bunch of fuckin' dafties laughing at the turkeys voting for x-mas while blindly ignoring that you do similar, and I say that with exasperated love.

Monday 7 November 2011

The Seven Billionth Child

Some words of wisdom from Stu Who. Please share the footage.

The Dark Shadows - The Garage - Glasgow - 7/11/11

Another gig, and another low turn out.
This time it is the turn of The Dark Shadows to be playing to a crowd that could be counted using two hands and half of one foot. Or just two hands of you come from the land of the six fingered banjo players as I do.
It's not the usual apathy that's at the root of the problem though, but instead its second cousin zero promotion.
Both seem to be equally at home hammering nails into the live music scenes coffin though.
So let's be brutally honest about this show.
There's something far wrong when a mate in Australia can tell you about a gig taking place in Glasgow but no one knows anything about it locally. (Thanks Al)
No posters, unless you count the photocopied ones in the stairwell of the venue on the night, no flyers, no mention on the venues own website and nothing in the press.
Fuckin' useless.
The only way my mate in Oz knew about it was because he was following the bands tour on facebook. So unless you were checking daily on their updates you would be completely in the dark about certain dates that had been added.
Now I've said this before, but maybe it's worth repeating that if a gig is treated like a state secret with details only being made available to the public after a request is made under the freedom of information act then you can be sure of one thing, and that's that it will bomb.
This gig may as well been part of some witness relocation scheme with everything about it wrapped up in a file with 'on a need to know' basis stamped on it's buff sleeve
None of this is the fault of the band though.
As they're based in Australia the tour is booked on a sight unseen basis.
They don't know the venues, the local acts that would complement them as a support, or if there is even a fan base for what they do that they can tap into.
It's all done on trust, and when it all goes wrong, as it did in Glasgow, then it provides the band with a skewed impression of the UK music scene with the worst case scenario being that they don't come back.
I could be wrong, but the four friends that I dragged along and myself may well have been the only members of the audience who paid to get into this show with the remainder of the audience being made up of members of the support bands.
That's how bad this was.
It really is to the bands credit that they didn't let the low turn out phase them and still played a fantastic gig.
In still giving it their all they displayed a professional attitude that should shame the people who promoted the gig on their behalf.
From opening the set with Alien Movies they moved swiftly into Invisible and followed that with Sleeping with a Vampyre, and in the space of those three songs they went from being a band that my friends were taking a chance on to one who they were thankful of getting the opportunity to see.
Requiem and Denial came next, both from the Invisible ep, and kept the pace going before the band ran into airing four tracks from the forthcoming 11.11 mini album.
The new songs, Dark Shadow, Blame, Eisbar and Written in the Snow all highlighted that on a musical level the band are still moving forward and refusing to let themselves be pinned down.
The set had a real chronological flow to it with those in attendance being able to see where the band came from, and where they are going.
It would be fair to say that there's no real feeling of their rockabilly and punk roots in the new material but instead a real sense of the grandeur of certain goth bands like the Sisters of Mercy being dragged into the present coupled with an unmistakable nod to the isolationist oeuvre ploughed by Joy Division.
The ghost of the eighties is certainly there in what they are doing, but instead of overshadowing everything it instead adds a frisson of familiarity that works as a reference point to leap forward from. A very nice touch that provides a great live experience.
All things considered I would have to say that regardless of finding out about this at the last minute, the scrambling about to get people to go, the hassle of trying to sort out travelling arrangements to get there and back and all the other obstacles that sometimes felt insurmountable the Dark Shadows made it a very enjoyable experience.
For those who missed out.......well don't blame yourself, or The Dark Shadows.
Blame the lack of promotion and get on their facebook page to say that if they come back you will endeavour to attend.
Big shout out and mucho respect to Cass, Sandie Noone, John Milligan and Abi Sociopath for making the effort to go and see the band on my recommendation.

Thursday 3 November 2011

Bang Tango - Pistol Whipped in the Bible Belt.

Bang Tango have disbanded and reformed more times than most, and the revolving door aspect with musicians must have them up there as the funky glam punk version of Mark E Smiths The Fall.
At one point there was even two versions doing the rounds, and it's around then that very often the reputation of a band can nose dive with all respect for them vanishing as acrimonious bitching takes over from the job at hand of making music.
Thankfully there are the occasional exceptions to the rule, and with Joe Leste back with yet another line up of Bang Tango, and an album that has taken five years to reach us, he has proved himself, and the band, to be one of those exceptions and bucked the trend to deliver something rather special.
'Pistol Whipped in the Bible Belt' simply sounds incredible.
Listen to it and what you will hear is a band who are as hungry as any of the young guns hanging out on the street corners, and far more relevant that the majority of their peers from the past.
The loosely funky and trashy sound is still functionally intact and sounds as good as it did way back when they released Live Injection, and quite possibly even better.
In fact I'll take that back. It does sound better. A top of their game release.
Unfortunately right at this very moment in time trashy rock and roll isn't grabbing the attention of the public like it used to and I fear that this outstanding release will end up lost in the shuffle simply for coming out at the wrong time.
We currently live in an era where we are seeing bands like Motley Crue and Guns'n'Roses playing large venues based on yesteryears glories with the audiences happy to jump aboard the nostalgia train for a night out rather than take a chance on Bang Tango, and while it is easy to say it's their loss it also has an impact on bands as without the attention of the fans they can wither and die on the vine.
If that happened then it would be a great loss as anyone who can make an album like this deserves to be rewarded and given the chance to continue to entertain us.
So go and buy it and get your grubby little mits off that reissue, that greatest hits, or the bollocks that the hipsters are telling you is the one album you need to have this year.
This is the album you would really rather have. Take my word on that.

Leningrad Cowboys - Buena Vodka Social Club

If the world didn't have the Leningrad Cowboys we would have to invent something that would allow us to travel to parallel universes and go and kidnap them from whatever vodka drenched dimension they lived in.
Fuck the trillions spent on NASA. Fuck the crumbling economies. Fuck the greedy global war machine.
Every single penny spent on all that crap would be better used in introducing them to this world in my opinion, because quite frankly I don't want to exist in a world that doesn't have mad Fins with gravity defying bequiffed mullets and exaggerated winkle picker boots that clowns enviously harbour a shoe fetish over in it.
They are the undiluted 100% twenty six legged entertainment machine that keeps giving, and on Buena Vodka Social Club they are back doing what they do best, and that's to put a smile on your face as you tap your toes to their bombastic take on Russian folk music with a very large side order of rock and roll added to it.
There's no covers this time, but who cares because the original material that they can come up with is still imbued with the humour and sheer 'what the fuck is that' attitude that they have displayed throughout their career.
I bloody love this band. Can't you tell?

Orianthi - Fire

I've never been a muso. Never been the type to swoon at a guitar solo.
The thing for me is the full package. The whole shebang as it were.
I want to be able to hear a band play with all the pieces falling into place to create something that hits you in the gut on an emotional level. That's my thing.
So that being the case it's unusual for me to gravitate towards picking up anything from guitar heroes, or even heroines.
Occasionally I will however make an exception, and after seeing Orianthi Panagaris rip it up as part of Alice Coopers band I thought I should delve into her own material and picked up the latest mini album she has released, called 'Fire', to see how that matched up to her hired gun status.
I'm glad I did because any preconceived ideas that I had that it was going to be a fret fingering orgasm of guitar masturbation were dashed within minutes of listening to the first song.
Instead what we get is an accomplished mini album of timeless rock ballads that would easily turn the heads of those who are hooked on the softer side of rock music.
They guitar work is exemplary, but it's not so in your face that it overshadows the songs. Instead it solidly accompanies the phrasing and emotional peaks and troughs of the material. Nicely balanced is what it is.
The vocals are what really grabbed me though. They caught me completely off guard as within the framework of Alice Coopers band they don't really get an airing, but maybe they should.
The surprising thing - to me - is that Orianthi isn't just a guitarist that can carry a tune, but a fully fledged rock and roll vocalist to.
It's as if all the best bits of the eighties female fronted rock acts have been dragged into the present and given a bit of a make over.......and it works.
It would be fair to say that the future for Orianthi is wide open as she very obviously has the ability and talent to make whatever dreams she has a reality.

Wednesday 2 November 2011

Alice Cooper - Glasgow Armadillo - 31/10/11

Every once in a while a gig comes along that towers over every other show in quality, passion and sheer rock and roll exuberance.
A performances that shoots straight into your personal top ten list of all time.
A show that will forever be classed as never to be forgotten, and Alice Coopers Halloween show in Glasgow was without a shred of doubt one of those rare beasts.
A colossus standing on the shoulder of giants in gig history.
If I was to spew every single superlative that came to mind onto the page, then they still wouldn't come close to describing how good a show this was.
Alice Cooper is the font from where much of modern day rock and roll derives from. He's the shock rocker who delivered the goods time after time. The man who has rode out every single 'latest thing' that the world of music has had to offer since the seventies.
From the moment that the the band confidently strode onto the stage - with Alice towering over them in his Black Widow get up - they grabbed everyone and held them in the palm of their hands from start to finish.
The classic tracks, old favourites, some surprises and material from 'Welcome 2 my Nightmare' came hard and fast.
There was barely room in the set to catch a breath.
Even through the extended drum and bass solo, that's eased in to allow Alice a moment to get a second wind and snatch a costume change, the levels of excitement didn't diminish.
There's some sort of misconception that Alice Cooper is simply a rock god, but while that may seem like high praise in itself it actually defines him in a little box that he doesn't fit into at all because he is much more than that.
There's the public perception, the singer songwriter and this guy in front of us. The performer.
The show that has come to Glasgow isn't months in the panning. It's decades.
Years and years of striding across stages and honing his ability to engage with a crowd.
It flows so freely now that he can command attention from the flick of a wrist, the slash of a rapier through the air, or a cock of his top hat bedecked head.
His legend may well have been partially been built on theatrics, but it is also held together by solid songwriting and musicianship of the highest standard.
Even so over the last few years the theatrics have started to take more and more of a back-seat and I doubt anyone has even noticed as the actual show still rocks.
Black Widow gave everyone the blast of classic Cooper that was needed to get the ball rolling, and while people were still reeling from that Brutal Planet delivered a coup de grace before giving way to the quadruple attack of I'm Eighteen, Under My Wheels, Billion Dollar Babies and No More Mr Nice Guy.
Four songs that nail the crowd.
Alice looks as if he is enjoying himself, as are the band. He's at the lip of the stage gesturing in contempt as the songs demand, acting out the phrasing and making real eye contact with the sick things who are happy to worship at his feet.
Hey Stoopid is rolled out for the fans of the hair metal years, but like much of what this line up do it
marches to a slightly different beat. It's less shiny and polished, more grimy with a serving of fuck you on the side.
Is It My Body perfectly follows it and sets the scene for the rhythm section to stretch there muscles and show off a bit during Halo Of Flies.
Once Alice is back they storm into I'll Bite Your Face off, the only song they play from Welcome 2 My Nightmare.
It's well received and maybe they should consider rolling out some more from the album in future gigs.
It's obvious that for every more recent song that they play Alice knows that he will have to give out some more golden oldies to appease the crowd so it was no surprise that he followed it with Muscle of Love, Only Women Bleed (That had a spectacular guitar solo from Orianthi) and Cold Ethyl.
Every one of those perfectly executed.
Feed My Frankenstein had the obligatory theatrics that everyone has come to expect, but Clones (We're all) that followed it was the one song that blind-sided me. Sans keyboards and laden with chunky guitars it takes on a whole new, and better, persona.
From it being a song that very few Alice Cooper fans would feature on a mix tape it became somewhat of a bonafide classic with this bolshier approach to it.
Similarly Poison, my least favourite Coop hit, has a lot more to offer live, or maybe by this point I had capitulated and lost all critical capabilities.
Another song from Brutal Planet, 'Wicked Young Man' kept the already frantic pace up with Alice marching about playing the authoritarian leathern encased commandant to the hilt.
A partial snippet of I Love the Dead had the crowd slavering at the bit for more and Schools Out, with the addition of some of Pink Floyd's 'Another Brick In The Wall' was the perfect response to the baying audience, and that was it, but it wasn't.
No one was going to let Alice go that easily and within minutes he was back to finish the night on a rousing run through of Elected that included the obligatory oversized balloons full of confetti and a shower of ticker tape.
In hindsight I think it would be a safe bet to lay claim that this was the best Halloween celebration that I have ever participated in.
No one does Halloween like Alice Cooper and his band and it was a real privilege to be involved with it.
Here's looking forward to the next tour.
So bring it on Coop 'cause we're already waiting.

Tuesday 1 November 2011

New York Dolls – Glasgow Armadillo - 31/10/11

When the New York Dolls reformed there was without a doubt a sharp intake of breath from critics and fans alike.
Here was a band whose members were getting on a bit and the chances of them recreating a fraction of the halcyon days of debauched fun seemed to be just too much of a tall order.
Then they delivered, and delivered hard.
It was a real slap in the face for the naysayers and I loved every single second of every gig that I attended.
Then I guess it was all just too much of a good thing and something had to give.
In hindsight the moment that it stopped being one thing and became another was when Steve Conte and Sami Yaffa were sidelined and the 'Dancing Backward in High Heels' album was recorded.
The fire seemed to be dampened down quite a bit, and what we got was a great David Johansen album, but a rather poor New York Dolls one.
Then reports trickled in of shambolic - but not in a good way - live outings.
The performance at Blackpool, as part of the Rebellion festival, being a particularly slated one as everyone and their dog lined up to air their less than favourable views.
So when I heard that the band were going to be supporting Alice Cooper I really didn't know what to expect.
The unsettled line up issues seemed to have been addressed, and the uber-talented Earl Slick on guitar was something to look forward to, but was his inclusion in the band going to be enough to gather in the unravelling threads?
Well the truthful answer is no.
It's not even as if the band have lost their appeal. It's more that they are just showing their age now.
All the concerns that were aired when they originally reformed have come home to roost.
Technically you can't fault them, but the New York Dolls were never about technical ability.
This is a band who are a larger than life legend, and anything that they do that falls short of being drenched in the excesses of rock and roll just isn't good enough, and unfortunately right at this very moment in time they are a mere shadow facsimile of not just the original Dolls, but even the magnificently decadent reformed version.
Going through the motions, and a pedestrian performance are two phrases that should never be used in the same sentence as the New York Dolls, but that day has now arrived as they managed to do both.
However none of this is to say that what they do isn't to an extent still enjoyable, because it is.
All the best of the shouldabeen hits were rolled out with Trash and Pills managing to lift the show up by the bootstraps to a rather acceptable level, and of course Earl Slick is the fuckin' man.
Similar to how Steve Conte stamped his own authority on the Dolls rather than emulating Thunders. Earl Slick has come along and is doing it differently again.
It's pointless to get into the subjective argument of who is best.
It's just a case of preference.
For myself I'd rather have Steve Conte and Sami Yaffa in the line up, but who is seriously going to complain about Earl Slick being the latest six stringer in the band?
The bottom line is that even a lacklustre New York Dolls are still better than most bands and that's to their credit, but the point is that they set the benchmark themselves and now they're struggling to reach it with any real conviction.
So not the car crash in slow motion I was expecting/dreading, but neither was it the salvage job I was crossing my fingers for either.
Hopefully this isn't the beginning of a slow and unstoppable decline as a band like the Dolls deserve to go out with a bang rather than a whimper.