30 October 2012

Legion Of Parasites: Album Review

Legion Of Parasites
'Another Disaster'

Slightly whimsical anarcho punk rantings

Legion Of Parasites began in 1983 when their members were aged between 14 and 17. They discovered the music of Crass, a band who promoted anarchy as a political ideology and advocated animal rights, direct action and challenging the system and its individuals, through their lyrics and artwork. Many bands seized upon this as an objective to make punk rock. Sadly many fell short, possessing neither the ethics nor ability to hang onto the coat tails of this movement. Instead they ended up an ambiguous noise which lacked direction.

Legion Of Parasites fall into this category – slightly. Their ethics may have been meritorious (donations to hunt saboteurs and anti vivisection organisations) but you can’t churn out any old guitar/drum hullabaloo and expect it to be overlooked in the name of your political leanings! This 26-track album seems to expect exactly that!

There are certainly 2 or 3 worthwhile tracks here but the majority are nothing but badly played protest songs. Bands like Crass, Conflict and even The Subhumans were good at what they did because their music was as acceptable as their conscience. Let’s leave it at that.

29 October 2012

The Damned: Tiki Nightmare: DVD Review

If time is transcendent then The Damned are equally as infinite

Despite being completely overshadowed by the efficient delivery of sneering nihilism and egotistical insolence which ensured maximum publicity via outpourings of public revulsion, hatred, objection and outrage for Malcolm McLaren’s cynical marketing tool – The Sex Pistols – who, quite brilliantly and effectively, ushered punk to the notorious levels reached and secured it‘s good health for ever – it was The Damned who are credited with a number of significant firsts from this early period. Their 1976 debut single ’New Rose’ was the first ever single released by a British punk band. Their debut album ’Damned Damned Damned’ was the first British punk album (beating Never Mind The Bollocks to the line by almost 8 months) and they were the first UK punk band to tour America. That said, they also became the first to split up after disastrous second album ‘Music For Pleasure’ ( mutually hated by the band) caused internal disillusion and failed to capitalise on the success of it’s celebrated predecessor. They’ve re-formed, broke up and re-formed many times since then and have fluctuated with dazzling versatility between 3 minute garage/punk, melodic synth rock, graveyard/film noir and commercially acceptable power pop songs. Whichever genre they happened to be mining from at any particular time The Damned have delivered some of the most memorable, iconic anthems in the history of punk.

Filmed at Shepherds Bush Empire on 12th July 2002 ‘Tiki Nightmare’( first released in 2003) is the full recording of their final gig of a 14 date UK tour. The personnel includes original members Dave Vanian and Capt Sensible alongside one time bassist Patricia Morrison (Sisters Of Mercy) and current members Pinch (drums) and keyboard player Monty Oxymoron. With a set list that borrows heavily from their 2001 album ‘Grave Disorder’ (Democracy, Amen, Would You Be So Hot, She and Song.Com) they possess enough respect for nostalgia to honour it with a number of salutes – opening with ‘Street Of Dreams’ from 1985’s ‘Phantasmagoria’ before finding room for an excellent rendition of ‘Plan 9 Channel 7’ and ‘Wait For The Blackout’. As Vanian croons the line ‘they don’t understand we make our own rules ‘ on next song’ I Just Cant Be Happy Today’ there is a depicted poignancy as you get your first reminder of just how much The Damned have grew up alongside you . With a further nod to their recent material they delve back into the past with a live favourite, ‘Disco Man’ and the atmospheric ‘Under The Floor Again’. Another gem is effortlessly unleashed with the fidgety ‘Neat Neat Neat’ before Capt Sensible publicly indulges himself with his solo Number 1 malarkey ‘Happy Talk’ (and does he REALLY replace the line ‘golly baby I’m a lucky cuss’ with the less commercially acceptable ‘lucky cunt’ as various reports across the years have proclaimed?’ The Capt finishes his ego fiddling and it’s straight into the song that began it all – ‘New Rose’ – blissfully chaotic and without any chastising – this is, again, why The Damned exist. Onwards through Vanian’s Goth take on ‘Eloise’ and the song a generation grew wings under – ‘Smash It Up’ before ending with double greatness on ‘Feel Alright’ and, the one that sent them to TOTP for the first time, a declaration of gritty teen emotion that still echoes down through the years like the galloping horse it still is, ‘Love Song’ – ‘and it makes me glad to say, it’s been a lovely day, and it’s ok…it’s ok…..it’s ok….IT’S OK!!!’ And there they leave it…for the next generation because they, just like us, will find it too.


Small Faces Deluxe Edition: Album Review

There is no other culture so deeply fixated with it’s own past than that of music. Wallowing in nostalgia and a shared appreciation for the ‘classic’ album is, thanks to advancing technology, a godsend for the narcissistic worshipping of our own rock archives. Modernity is slowly being edged out to make way for digitally re-mastered back catalogues – a cultural divide chiselled by re-released classics – which doesn’t fill you with confidence for the longevity of this decades musical contributions. But sometimes, when our digital technology conjures up albums of the quality we have here….then it’s fucking worth the journey backwards.

Up against superior competition like The Who, The Kinks and The Rolling Stones it was always going to be a challenging time with no room for anything but the very best of abilities if domination was to be wrestled from the others. The Small Faces managed to do just that – and went on to become one of the most distinctive bands of the 60’s. Their varied musical tastes and intuitive grasp of differing styles ensured originality and a freshness when changing direction from their early R&B mod sound to poppy psychedelia. Unfortunately America never quite gave them the recognition they deserved – but they were the darlings of British youth culture and London’s favourite wide boys – cocky, energetic, sometimes whimsical with a tongue in cheek swagger who, in their short lived 4year lifespan, laid down a legacy of music which remains an influential part of history and inspired people like Paul Weller, Blur and Oasis among others. The song-writing partnership of frontman Steve Marriott and bassist Ronnie Laine proved a formidable collaboration and between them wrote some of the greatest songs of Britain’s music fuelled 60’s era. Marriot’s unique, white soul voice alongside the gifted musicianship of Laine, Kenney Jones and Ian McLagan was collective brilliance. Their career spawned 4 albums and Universal Music Catalogue are to release deluxe editions of each one.

Debut album ‘Small Faces’ released on the Decca label in 1966 followed the singles ‘What’cha Gonna Do About It’ ‘I’ve Got Mine’ ‘Sha La La La Lee’ and ‘Hey Girl’. Without a doubt it’s the weakest of their 4 albums, at times a little directionless as they traipse through a jungle of pop song structures before becoming slightly disorientated on average sounding ballad ‘ One Night Stand’ or the cluttered up sounding ‘Come On Children’. It’s the sound of a band clearly still trying to find their niche and, compared to future releases, isn’t really a true representation of the Small Faces. There are good parts to it – it’s not all bland, colourless and one dimensional. Certainly the single ‘What’cha Gonna Do About It’ stands out from the crowd as does ‘Sorry She’s Mine’. It’s an average sounding album which at times seems a bit misguided and incomplete. But the signs of individual expression they displayed at later dates can be witnessed here in their embryonic state.

Second album ‘From The Beginning’ was released by Decca (unofficially, according to the band) when they ditched the label and their manager Don Arden for up and coming Immediate Records. Though it was predominantly a greatest hits compilation of their Decca days it also contained some true gems like Marriot’s dazzling cover of the Del Shannon song ‘Runaway’, and a forceful version of Smokey Robinson’s ‘You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me’. The psychedelia drenched ‘Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow’ distinguishes a particular character of excellency. It’s on this album the Marriot/Laine song writing team really begin to flourish.

The next album was, confusingly, titled ‘Small Faces’, the same name they’d christened their debut with just over a year ago. The reasons for this, I wouldn’t know, but maybe it was some sort of esoteric disconnection (psychologically reversed of course) from their miserable Decca days. Their reasoning is likely documented somewhere I’m sure. What becomes very quickly obvious is the glaring musical differences between this record and it’s disowned namesake. The core nexus of metaphorical power was, thanks in part to Immediate Records engineer Glyn Johns and the fast maturing skills of the Small Faces both musically and lyrically, hugely psychedelic. This arty, liberating matrix of their former selves set them on the road to critical acclaim – and they did it brilliantly with new single ‘Here Comes The Nice’, their cheeky ode to drug dealers. The new concept and experimental edginess continued triumphantly onwards to next single ‘Itchycoo Park’, considered by many to be their most defining moment as a band. The summer hazed psychedelic pop song unearthed further richness in the voice of Steve Marriot, flawless and precise in its narration, showed the world just how magical his voice was. The song reached the American charts ( the only real success they ever achieved there) and won them a further army of fans. The album went on to become a huge UK best seller.

Small Faces fourth and final album, the one brimming with unambiguous confidence, humorous anecdotes and whistling whimsical joy, the album that would go on to ensure they’d always be remembered…the Cockney draped, hard rock, soft soul and drug dipped ‘Ogdens Nut Gone Flake’. The album was a resounding commercial success. The record spawned two singles, catchy cockney sing-along ‘Lazy Sunday’ and ‘Afterglow Of Your Love’.

In 1968 Steve Marriot quit the band and formed Humble Pie with Peter Frampton enjoying considerable success before splitting and going solo. He died in 1991 when a fire caused by a cigarette swept through his home as he slept. Ronnie Laine died of MS in 1997.

All four re-released albums will be 2 disc editions in both mono and stereo formats. Rare photographs and memorabilia, unreleased material, alternative USA mixes and early session versions are also included. Everything any Small Faces fan will ever want to own is right here.

Songs That Caused Outrage (Part 1)

Body Count
'Cop Killer'

The outraged protest against police brutality written by Body Count vocalist Ice-T was immediately flagged up by various law enforcers and provoked authoritarians of society demanding its immediate withdrawal from sale and, most likely, from the spotlight of public curiosity forever. Concerns were raised about the lyrical content and many felt the song glaringly promoted calculated anti-police philosophies. As the furore raged longer, the publicity grew bigger, but as the publicity grew bigger the objectors became mightier -President Bush publicly denounced any record company lacking the moral fibre to release such a product on the good folks of…etc etc. Freedom of speech, it would seem, is only a democratic right when suiting the requirements of those powerful enough to take it away again when it doesn’t. Further incidents and public distaste for the song resulted in death threats to the record company executives and some of the labels major stockholders made it clear they were considering pulling out of the company. Although the censorship body had decided the song (and album) to be displaying ‘honest purpose’ and found Body Count to be ‘not indecent’ Ice-T removed it from the original album. Warner Brothers re-released the album with Cop Killer offered as a free single.

This next record is dedicated to some personal friends of mine, the LAPD.
For every cop that has ever taken advantage of somebody, beat em down or hurt em
cause they have long hair, listen to the wrong kind of music, wrong colour, whatever they thought was the reason to do it. For everyone of those fucking police I'd like to take a pig out here in this parking lot and shoot em in their motherfucking face.

Cop Killer! 

I got my black shirt on, 

I got my black gloves on, 
I got my ski mask on. 
This shit's been too long. 
I got my twelve guage sawed off, 
I got my headlights turned off, 
I'm 'bout to bust some shots off, 
I'm 'bout to dust some COPS off. 
I'M A ......
Cop Killer, it's better you than me!
Cop Killer, fuck police brutality!
Cop Killer, I know your family' s grievin' ....... FUCK' EM!
Cop Killer, but tonight we get even!

I got my brain on hype, 
tonight'll be your night, 
I got this long- assed knife 
and your neck looks just right. 
My adrenaline' s pumpin' , 
I got my stereo bumpin' ,
I'm 'bout to kill me somethin' , 
a pig stopped me for nothin' !
Cop Killer, it's better you than me!
Cop Killer, fuck police brutality!
Cop Killer, I know your family' s grievin' ....... FUCK' EM!
Cop Killer, but tonight we get even!









Cop Killer, it's better you than me!

Cop Killer, fuck police brutality!
Cop Killer, I know your family' s grievin' ....... FUCK' EM!
Cop Killer, but tonight we get even!
FUCK THE POLICE, for Daryl Gates!
FUCK THE POLICE, for Rodney King!
FUCK THE POLICE, for my dead homies!
FUCK THE POLICE, for your freedom!
FUCK THE POLICE, don't be a pussy!
FUCK THE POLICE, sing along!

Cop Killer, it's better you than me!
Cop Killer, fuck police brutality!
Cop Killer, I know your family' s grievin' ....... FUCK' EM!
Cop Killer, but tonight we get even!

28 October 2012

Levellers: Interview

Published in Subba Cultcha. March 2009

Brighton’s steel edged political sentients the Levellers have never been constrained by a reluctance to employ their statutory prerogative should something stir their conscience. For twenty one years they’ve progressed, within a genre so distinctively them it’s almost exclusive. Their sound, crossing punk with a dominant underpinning of folky narratives, and procreated by that Celtic infrastructure they employ so well to further reinforce their manifesto, has enticed a formidable host of appreciative enthusiasts in their general direction. Considered by many to be the ultimate festival band ( a 1994 Glastonbury slot attracted the festival’s biggest ever stage front crowd) their live shows have a reputation of being frenzied and celebratory. In August last year they released the acclaimed “Letters From The Underground” album on their own label. Viewed as a return to form, with the written word once again employed as the weapon in their battles with injustice, the Levellers appear intent on continuing their crusade for a long time yet. They’ve gathered new strength and are using it with a revitalised spring in the step! Frontman Mark Chadwick put his busy schedule to one side for a few hours to sit down and be questioned by me.

Mark, how are you? I was told by your manager that you’re all on a pretty tight schedule right now so thanks for sparing me a bit of that time.

No problem. Today we’re all deep in new music and fighting the forces of the lazy and the indolent within ourselves! We’ve been holed up at The Metway for a couple of weeks with Sean Lakeman who produced our last album. Hopefully you’ll be hearing some new tracks this year.

Excellent. And does this current studio activity also signify the beginnings of a follow up to last years“Letters From The Underground”?

We’re just trying to not let the grass grow under our feet. This is the fastest turnaround to getting back into the studio in our history. If the music and lyrics are flowing then we have to act fast! If we leave it we'll lose it and god knows if we'd ever find it again.

You've recently returned from a nine gig European tour and, in April, begin a series of UK dates. How important, as a band, is it to get out there and play to your fans? I mean, I don’t think the Levellers could ever be content releasing album after album and only playing live for the purpose of having a new record to promote. You do seem to schedule tours when you have nothing to sell us’? I could name so many bands who don’t work in that way..and should be ashamed of themselves for managing to sleep at night.

It’s never been about the money, honey. It’s all about the people, steeple! Sorry that's the only rhyme I could think of..ha-ha! We all enjoy the buzz of playing live and that’s what’s kept us going. Obviously when you have a record coming out there’s all the PR and stuff that goes along with it but we carry on playing live regardless of our recordings. 

Staying with the live thing. It’s been said that you’ve never truly heard the Levellers until you’ve saw them play live. You’re also considered, by many, to be the ultimate festival band. Does that sort of opinion, as stunning an accolade as it may be, bring its fair share of pressure if you’re playing in a situation you know contains a crowd unfamiliar with the band yet have this huge expectation of how they assume you’ll be? It’s a wee bit of a ‘reputation going before you’ thing, aye?

Tell THAT to the cautious festival promoters who are scared to book us! We know we never fail! Well, nine out of ten times we get it right haha. Anyway we usually play our more familiar songs in festival sets so there’s going to be something the broader festival crowd will recognise. 

The one thing about you as a band is your honesty and your unpretentious approach to the songs. You’ve always worn the political heart firmly upon the sleeve and have never hid how you feel. I recently read an article that described you as ‘Celtic politicians of rock & roll’. Personally I think that’s a bit of a lazy description from someone who can't even be arsed to think of something more constructive ”‘ making it all seem a bit tedious and generic. But there is a greater depth and a more important point to be found in the lyrics you write. Do you still stand up for the same causes that inspired the band to form? 

We mean it, man, but we are busy meaning it. So, not to be confused with politicians which we definitely are not!!! It’s your planet you save it. The lyrics in the songs say how we feel. If you read the words to songs from ‘Letters From The Underground’ you get a clear picture of where our heads are at..and what defines us.

The album ‘Hello Pig’ took a bit of a slating from many angles. Did you find the criticism frustrating, especially as you were showing just how versatile you can be? Does it make you feel a bit ‘genre trapped’ and forever expected to deliver what people expect from you? 

Yes to a point we do feel a bit pigeon-holed but we accept that as a consequence of our popularity and are happy to accomodate that...we just keep doing what we do with honesty and a hope to never disappoint.

Metway Studios, and in particular the Metway Sessions is a great concept. Tell me more about that? 

Send us a demo and if you’re any good and you're local then you can come into the studio and get on local radio. We have recorded several albums here and it feels like one big happy home to us. There are all sorts of professional people working in the offices at the metway ”‘silversmiths, video editors, PR companies, promoters. You can check out the studios and get all the info you need at the website..www.metwaystudios.co.uk 

You’ve said on many occasions that “most music festivals are shit”which I do have to agree with, especially now that Glastonbury seems to have misplaced its ethos and gone a bit ‘Glastonbury Ltd’ on us (sorry Michael) To be blunt, it’s a direction more and more seem to be heading in. Nothing better than rock & roll for the purposes of cynical money chasing marketing strategies. Of all the UK festivals you’ve played at which ones do you feel still maintain that originality and true festival spirit?

Beautiful Days..obviously and without any doubt. And the rest you never get to really hear about like the Green Gathering ”‘ there are good ones under the radar which are largely ignored by the music press...though by that I dont include yourself, Alan, you legend hahaha! Seriously though..its a tragic overlooking of the future. 

The Beautiful Days festival..which is very much a festival organised by yourselves has always had brilliant line-ups. Is it just a case of getting your famous mates to play? 

Hands on fun man .. 24 hours, 7 days... and wot famous mates? This year is the seventh year and we all still love it as much as the first. It’s a massive buzz. A big party. You can check out the line up at www.beautifuldays.org

Does it sometimes surprise you that after more than 20 years of albums, singles, festivals and touring that you’re still considered as being outside the mainstream? You have had your share of mainstream success though. Which album and single would you consider had the biggest appeal?

'Just the One', which is a novelty, must be! “Zeitgeist” got to Number 1 in 1995 so I ‘spose that must have had a wide appeal. 

Here’s possibly the most common question you’re ever asked…why Levellers and not The Levellers? My god, how often must you see your name written with ‘The’ at the beginning? That would irritate my pedantic side relentlessly. Does it not bother you? Surely you knew that would happen?
Yes but we are pedants to a man. but.. based on the logo Levellers not ‘the’. You dig? Haa!

If Norman ‘Fatboy Slim’ Cook invited you to his place for a party would you agree to go on the condition he stayed away from the decks all night and allowed you to play the music of your choice, or would you be quite happy to let him ‘mess about’ with his software even if it probably meant he’d play the same one all night, but in many d.d.d.d different fffformats...with the ill behaviour with the ill behaviour with the..slash dot dash dot slash dot com dot com dot com, the funk soul brother kind of thing?

Ahhahahaha! I have no problem with the record thing but we’ve asked him to do something with one of ours..and he wont! 

Apart from the UK dates, and the studio work, what’s on the agenda for the Levellers after that?

World domination! Hahaha! Sorry..I know.

Excellent ambition you display. Thanks, man, for taking the time out. Hopefully catch up with you at your Edinburgh gig in April. Take it easy!

We love the Scottish crowds. They seem up for it there so it should be a good gig! Yeah, thanks – see you there for sure, Alan. Contact our press officer and they'll put your name on the guest list. Until then...

Thanks to Mark Chadwick, Jack Thunder at Excess Press.... and Amanda M (just because)

Morrissey Greatest Hits: Album Review

Published In Subba Cultcha Feb 2008

Greatest Hits
(Polydor Records)

Last of the famous unconventional playboys

Fascination and intrigue have surrounded Morrissey so intensely that he has now spent almost half his life being showered with fervent admiration and global monomania. His transcendent lyrics that languished in gritty realism struck the hearts of the more conventional inhabitants who found no connection with the more pretentious offerings from bands circling the periphery of what they assumed to be cool. It was glaringly conclusive that Morrissey was much more than some perceptive transient displaying random instances of Ardency in the UK but would suddenly vanish like steam, cast off by the vagaries and fashions of popular music. 

Considered by many to be the greatest living Mancunian the significance of The Smiths, and him, remains unparagoned. He’s been a solo artist 15 years longer than his time as a front man, which makes this year his twentieth of cutting it alone. Such an occasion has inspired a delve into his meaty back catalogue. But with typical Morrissey heretics it’s a bit of a mixed bag and notable omissions are conspicuous.

What you notice immediately isn’t the 15 tracks it contains but ones that it doesn’t. No room at the inn for the dynamic November Spawned A Monster’ and neither is stunningly gorgeous ‘Now My Heart Is Full’ anywhere to be seen. To relinquish the chance of illuminating a Greatest Hits package with what was undoubtedly his two strongest singles to date is incredulous. More puzzling is the cover of Patti Smiths ‘Redondo Beach’ surviving the final cut.  Moving on you need only go back as far as ‘Ringleader Of The Tormentors’ his exceptional album from 2006 to find four of the tracks included here. Another short step backwards into ‘You Are The Quarry’, the record that signalled his return from 7 year exile in 2004, and you’ll find another four tracks. So far, of the 15 tracks , more than half are pulled from the last two albums.

The 16 year gap between debut ‘Viva Hate’ and ‘Quarry’ is represented by his first three singles. The jangly canter of ‘Suedehead’ with the dramatic coastal bleakness of ‘Every Day Is Like Sunday’ and ‘Last Of The Famous International Playboys’. The dominating ‘The More You Ignore Me The Closer I Get’ from the 1994 album ‘Vauxhall And I’ is in residence and quite possibly the most powerful on the album. New single ‘That’s How People Grow Up’ has the furnishings of his sharpness and holds respectable charm Another new song ‘All You Need Is Me’ with energetic drums , essential Morrissey utterances designated in what may promise to be a future of some quality compositions.

As a compilation, and keeping in mind the quite extensive body of work he has produced , I think he just may have got it wrong a couple of times. I’m not saying he could have done better , I’m saying he could have included better. The two I mentioned  earlier certainly, and an excessive sprinkling of the last two albums could have been slightly more moderate which would have freed up the territory for something that hails from way back like maybe ‘We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful’?
I’m being a bit pedantic. It’s a very valuable reference that , in the main, will not affect his frenzied fan base and definitely encourage passing inquisitiveness to come in and linger awhile.

27 October 2012

Madness: Album Review

One Step Beyond (Re-issue)
(Union Square Music)

Their classic 1979 debut album re-issued with a host of bonus tracks chucked in is the greatest step back in time you’ll ever have

If there’s anything to say about Madness which hasn’t already been said then it’ll probably not even be relevant! To date they’ve released 9 studio albums, 12 compilation albums, 3 live albums, 35 singles and 4 compilation videos. What else is left for them to do? Absolutely nothing! Madness have become a cultural representation of themselves and of good old ska/pop nostalgia’s whimsical embrace pre 1984 - for that is when they were good at what they did - and when everybody loved their nutty ways and cloaked themselves in it, if only to forget how horrible reality was for a while. When the band split after 1984’s “Keep Moving” they left a stunning legacy which remains solid to this day. Sadly the “commercially unsuccessful” performance of comeback album “Wonderful” and everything after it failed to match the vibe they whipped up 15 years previously and there, it seems, is where a line has been drawn by old skool Madness devotees and history does indeed record the band’s glory years being 1979-1984 with no recent evidence to suggest otherwise.

It’s a no-brainer then to reissue their 1979 debut “One Step Beyond” because that is where it all began and where the genius of them can be truly heard, in all it’s fresh originality. The brilliance of “Night Boat To Cairo”, “Madness” and “Bed & Breakfast Man” are still as utterly catchy and exciting as they were 30 years ago and makes you ever so grateful to have been a musically aware youth at that point in time. Everything about it which you thought was brilliant in 1979 remains brilliant in 2010. Bonus tracks include a John Peel Session, original versions of singles, b-sides of key tracks and live tracks from the “Dance Craze” film. It’s the greatest step back in time you’ll ever have.

SXPP Punk All Dayer: Live Review


Edinburgh promoters SXPP, responsible for bringing many notable punk bands to the capital at weekends, further enhanced that service today with a formidable line-up that brimmed with unquestionable strengths and individuality. For over 12 hours the crowd at Studio 24 basked in the searing climate of visceral kindredship and celebration.

I was fashionably late, as always, which, regrettably, resulted in me missing CRITIKILL and HAPPY SPASTICS, the two bands I really did want to see! I did however manage to catch the last 3 songs from the enthusiastically energetic THE MURDERBURGERS and I couldn’t have probably found a better band to start my day with. Their furious pop/punk proficiency was delivered with a tight composure and distinctive style.

Supervened by ACID TONGUE, the hardcore Fife outfit who never fail to disappoint in any situation - and today was no exception. Their hard-hitting, sometimes political brand of punk is much favoured on the live scene. They have a unique identity and concentrated belief in what they sing about. LOWLIFE UK were glorious and, in my opinion, the band of the day! They were charismatic and posses that working class intellect which defines punk rock. Their songs are frantic and the energy levels they conjure are delirious. They also showed an ability to not take themselves too seriously. This band are capable of creating a good night out. 

DOGSFLESH were a heaving vehicle of hardcore mayhem. What you got is what you saw and they deliver it the way they create it - without instruction or compliance. Tonight they exploded on stage and never reduced their vehement onslaught once! Following them 3CR,  the Manchester rebel rousing proscribers who posses some of the hookiest offensive songs in existence. But it’s jagged and raw and intelligently entwined with 3 chord mastery and they made everyone here tonight very fuckin happy. It’s conclusive that INSTANT AGONY are very good. Again they delivered a wealth of songs that can lift the corners from roofs until the sky bleeds and showers those below in the congealed sonance inflicted plasma. I somehow ended up next to their speakers for the whole set - and could hear nobody but them until Tuesday lunchtime!! French band ANTI CLOCKWISE were a manifestation of prodigious instinct and  presence tonight. It’s almost like they cherry-picked their greatest moments and threw the whole lot at us. Faultless and lavish to the extent of rakish libertines. They are an undoubtedly ferocious live band.  THE FIEND and KEYSIDE STRIKE were both as incendiary and thrilling as is expected from any band at this stage of an alldayer. Tragically, or stupidly, I missed DEMOB by about 15 minutes, and I’ve no idea how or why! I have no good reason to offer and nobody else to blame - I don’t think!

Entrusted with bringing proceedings to a majestic end were today’s headliners UK SUBS. Though today wasn’t the original line up that began over 30 years ago - Charlie Harper still leads from the front. Should you ever need examples of a value for money punk band then UK SUBS will always tick the boxes! I’ve saw them many times and again tonight they were indefectible and outstanding! They done it so powerfully they surely moved Studio 24 in its foundations enough to create it a new map reference. If Carlsberg made fitting ends………

Although today’s crowd was disappointingly low - which was hopefully less to do with apathy and more to do with it being Sunday - there was no lack of spirit and delectation among those who were here. Should this event become an annual affair it’s probably an odds on certainty that there won’t be as much room at the inn next time!

Photographs: Larry at SXPP

Isa & The Filthy Tongues: Interview

Almost phoenix-like, Isa & The Filthy Tongues rose from the ashes of Goodbye Mr McKenzie and Angelfish (their former singer Shirley Manson is now best known as the vocalist with Garbage) With their gritty, trashed up rock and punk sound they immediately secured a strong following on the live circuit and, as a result, their singles and debut album have been popular releases. Last single “New Town Killers” seemed to catapult them further into the awareness of the nation. Along the way they picked up “admirers” such as Janice Long, Steve Lamacq and NME magazine. New single “Big Star” is set to enhance their existence further. I recently spent 3 hours talking to the band at their secret Edinburgh rehearsal room.

You’re constantly described as a “dark, moody, underground indie band” Is that a tag you’re happy to wear or is there a bit more depth and innovation to your songwriting that maybe a lot of people seem to miss the true architecture of?

Fin - Well the first LP was pretty dark and moody, which we personally like. More than that though it had anger and a kind of warped sex about it. People may change their feelings about what we do on the next LP as it is more thoughtful, more melodic and has a bit more of a feeling of the tragic to it. Stacey’s mum died just as the last LP was released so it was a hard time. And maybe it’s a bit more of a hopeful collection of songs, through necessity. The song-writing is definitely stronger.

On last single “New Town Killers” Richard Jobson was assigned vocal duties. Is that because he sang with The Skids and you knew the man had a voice on him? Or, was it because, as director of the movie the song appears in, the decision was purely his because he was le’ boss?

Martin - All of those reasons I think. Richard wanted us to come up with a tune and he said he wanted to write the lyrics so he was the boss there! Then we though he should sing it. Me  & Derek were big Skids fans as kids so we nagged him to sing on it, which he refused (I think he was having a modest day then). So then we persuaded him to do a bit of yelling and shouting in it which he was happy about. It’s during the guitar solo he yells a bit then at the end of the LP version he does a bit more ranting. It’s brilliant for us to have him on there. His rants are classic. One great thing that came out of this was that Richard composed a few more ‘rants’ for us, one of which has it’s own space on our new LP. A track called ‘Bus Shelter’, a ditty about waiting for a bus in the rain surrounded by social misfits. It’s a scream.

  Do you think it’s netted itself a more pronounced location in the public’s awareness than any of your previous releases may have? Certainly it seems to have introduced Isa and the Filthy Tongues to a wider network?

Fin - I think it's hard to say. Obviously exposure by the likes of BBC 6 music and Radio 2 plays 
and NME will have introduced us to a wider audience than previously which can only be good as far as we're concerned. As for public awareness, that to me suggests mainstream success of a sustained nature which is not something we've ever really experienced, or in fact particularly sought. And of course we're in a very fickle business - you're only as good as your current or next release. On that front though we're pretty happy with what we've got lined up and are in rude health, filthy health in fact.

Would it be true to say your success now has led to a renewed interest in Goodbye Mr McKenzie from people possibly unaware the band existed at the time? 

Martin - I would say not very much. More that it’s awakened some of the Mackenzies fans to Isa
We don’t get many new Isa fans demanding that we play old Mackenzies material. This is good for us, we want to move forward. 

In this current musical climate would Goodbye MrMcKenzie find things suited them better now than back then?

Derek - Its very difficult to say. I think as a band all you can do is work hard, write your songs and play live, everything else that happens around that is very hard to control. I think bands have more options now and can get their stuff out easier than when we started but then you have the problem that there's so much great stuff out there - getting attention isn't easy. We're much happier with how things are at the moment as to how things were then. Getting a record deal of some kind then was practically the only way you could progress as a band...now that's not the case and that sits much easier with us.

The new Isa and the Filthy Tongues single “Big Star”is released June 29th.  Can you tell us a wee bit about that?

Stacey - I wrote it on a long bus journey in my head. I came to rehearsal and sang the melody to Martin. He put chords to it and there it was!! It’s for all the girls out there who are having a hard time. You’ve got to think big and hold on to your dreams!

Martin - It’s going to be released as a download single on 6th July. We’re giving away some free tracks with it. Anyone who buys it can send us the receipt and we’ll send them 2 or 3 free songs (we haven’t decided which ones yet) Then it’s going to be included on a re-issued first LP ‘Addiction’. Some unreleased material is going on that along with the whole first LP.

 I’ve heard there are plans to release another album this year at some point?

Derek - We've got a few things on the go at the moment but there will be a new album DARK PASSENGER out in September this year. 

You possibly have one of the best band names on the planet. What inspired its creation?

Martin - When Stacey finally joined the band didn’t want the band to be named Stacey Chavis & the Filthy Tongues. Though we did think about calling the group that for a whileStacey was so new to singing that she didn’t want to have her real name on there in case things didn't work out. So we started searching for a name in books and movies and on the net. She’d been in a Wiccan spiritual group in the US (trying to 'sort her head out' ) and I’d been reading up on the history of Scottish witches so I thought I’d look up some of their names on the net. The only records up there were of witches who’d been tried and or executed. I made a text file of those and sent it round the rest of the band. Derek Kelly noticed something strange. A very large amount of the witches had the name Isobel or Isabel. He said ‘I wouldn’t like to have been called Isabel in those days!!’  The Filthy Tongues part of the name came from a lyric in a Mackenzies song called 'Good deeds are like filthy rags' which is a quote from the bible..It's in the book of Isaiah (commonly shortened to ISA weirdly enough).
Also in the Koran Jesus is called 'Isa' pronounced eesah. Jesus is highly regarded in the Koran. So our name could be taken as Jesus and the Filthy Tongues....It's all coming together!!!!

Of all the brilliant bands coming out of Scotland right now are there any that invigorate you personally?

Martin - I enjoy Glasvegas somewhat. I haven’t bought there LP though. I love the way he sings ’Geraldine’. If anyone round the planet wants to know how to say ‘Geraldine’ in Weedgie language then  that’s it exactly.
The Fratellis are Fun. The View are fun too but none of those bands totally fit my needs. I prefer the last generation Scots bands, Mogwai or Arab Strap for instance. I like a band called Saint Deluxe who are kind of along that line.

You’re playing The Wickerman Festival this year – in my opinion Scotland’s greatest festival. Looking forward to that?

StaceyWe’ll take your word for it. We’ve never been so we’re hopeful it’ll be a good experience. We’re in the Scoter tent around 5pm on July 24th.. See you there?

Definitely! Looking forward to seeing you play live and hopefully we can catch up after your slot and chat a bit more. Thank you for allowing me to waste your valuable time this afternoon I appreciate it very much. Good luck with the new album and everything you do in the future. Thank you again.

Thanks to Tony at Manila PR

Photographer for the day: Emma

Happy Spastics: Album Review

Happy Spastics
Happy Spastics

Brace yourself for almost 29 minutes of punk rock in its most potent form

The frantic intensity, deranged lyrical fury and corrosive sound sits somewhere between Discharge and Extreme Noise Terror. Certainly the politics are the same, and the vocal delivery - unmelodious and growling - is just as conclusive. Happy Spastics are a direct and genuine punk band who don’t mess about with half measured rants set to some guarded bastardisation of punk rock - they are the genuine article, a ‘what you get is what you see’ band with their music perfect enough to soundtrack clips of furious riots and the destruction of governments - should the revolution ever come. Songs like the cleverly titled USA (Unlimited Supply of Arseholes), ‘Hee Haw’ ‘G8’ and ‘Fascist State’, all delivered at double-time speed, are the radical standard bearers of hardcore street punk’s  largely underground status, defying convention and standing up with touching honesty for all it is and all it will never stop being. Forget the admirable vocal ranges and cute angst ridden lyrics of mainstreams punk splinter groups steeped in sugar-coated bile to enchant the masses and generate the cash. When front-man Bones sneers the line ‘what’s there left for me…fuck all, what’s there left for me…hee haw’ it’s as direct and as real as the word ‘CUNT’ that’s tattooed across his stomach in bold, five inch high lettering. The lyrics are hyper-specific, just as genuine observations should be and the punk is ragged and hardcore from beginning to end. A throbbing heaviness with little time for your bullshit, Happy Spastics will never be popular outside  their own boundaries and that’s proof they’re doing their beliefs justice. This is punk rock for punks with not a sell-out merchant in sight. Long may they reign.

22 October 2012

Dropkick: Live Review

The Ark

A genuinely compelling and accomplished performance from a band who really do mean something to people now

They sound a lot better than some of the bands I’ve heard in here lately’ are the words of the doorman as Dropkick’s style of floaty musical carpentry  sinuates through an open window and fills the street below. This phonetic nod of approval seems to be inclusively mutual upstairs too. Tonight they are officially launching new album ‘Dot The i’ upon the people gathered.  Other parts of Scotland, and The Cavern in Liverpool are waiting in line. 

Dropkick keep things nice and simple. They don’t rely on flamboyantly narcissistic backdrops or obscenely vulgar lighting dramatics, and they don’t need to.  The assured faith they have in their music is justified and glaringly correct. Opener ‘Dot The i’ is a stunning song  to launch anything with and in this setting it’s muscular enough to embrace every corner of the room. It’s an immense  memorial that the majority of this crowd seem to know the words of every song and ‘Figure It Out’ further enhances that point fully and everything becomes awash with niceness. ‘Back Door Key’, the anthemic but intimate powerhouse loses nothing of the quality it displays on the album. It’s no less spectacular, confirmation that this band really can do it without the aid of any recording studio mastery. There are moments here tonight when everything seems perfect.

Easier to digest than some bands twice their size, Dropkick seem to pull things from hats effortlessly and without arrogance. If they know how good they are live it never becomes immodest. They play beautiful songs beautifully. To be the authors of  ‘Give It Back’ or ‘If You Can’t Be Mine’ and perform them, quite impeccably, in this intimate setting, to people who quite obviously admire it is an acknowledgement of their ability as musicians. There is no doubt Dropkick have bigger things yet to come. But for tonight Edinburgh will do nicely.

Photography: Sarah Moffat

Boris & Ian Astbury: EP Review

Boris & Ian Astbury
(Southern Lord Records)

A credible joining of forces

Possibly not the unlikeliest collaboration since the David Bowie/ Bing Crosby sashay on 1977’s ‘Little Drummer Boy’ but certainly a collaboration you wouldn’t have guessed at. Ian Astbury, the large voiced front man of 80’s post punk champions The Cult teams up with Japan’s doom-laden sludge rockers Boris on this 4 track EP featuring 3 original compositions, sung by Astbury, and a cover of The Cult’s ‘Rain’ sung by Boris guitarist Wata. The results, you’ll find, are surprisingly decent.

Chunky, to the point rock and roll with some heavy stomping at its edges, this is far from ever being the cynical marketing ploy you may consider it, neither is it a bizarre karaoke-esque shindig for the sake of it. Opening track ‘Teeth And Claws’  is a solid bonding of genres with expansive chord structures and a melodic underpinning so unexpected it’s almost unnoticed. Astbury’s vocal, though less obvious than anticipated, holds the perfect emotional scale, almost soaring in fact, to secure everything together nicely. On ‘We Are Witches’ is where Boris reveal what they do best, a crunching, bone-grinder of a song with a sterling lead vocal that more than stands up to the challenge, a growl and a snarl and a shift up-gear by the former Cult man again brings it all in tightly. Intrigue will lead you to pore over the next song as naturally as intrigue does - ‘Rain’ sung not by its author this time , but Japanese guitarist Wata - her vocal much noticeably softer than Astbury’s original hollering floods the song with something close to sensuality, even through the gritty backdrop of guitar, her voice still the ghost that haunts things and takes the 80’s anthem to places you’d never assume it might go.  Last track ‘Magikal Child’ an atmospheric laden stomp and grind guitar waltz with chords dipping and changing back and forth, falling before rising further and stronger in the distance.  It may not be a record to suit the vagaries of everyone but that’s not the point anyway. Ian Astbury can still talk the talk and Boris are a strikingly clever band.

Good Charlotte: Album Review

Good Charlotte

In 2002 the post grunge/pop punk album ‘The Young And The Hopeless’ nailed the name of its authors Good Charlotte upon the surface of the world thanks to the hook-laden sugar rush of it’s biggest hitters ‘Girls & Boys’ ‘Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous’ ‘The Anthem’, and the title track itself. Sure, some of it lacked any real depth or the means to be remotely challenging but I don’t think the intention was to resemble a particular kind of seriousness at this point anyway. What they did do though was to write an album that entered the mainstream with ferocious conviction and earned them the right to scribble their identity across the spine of popular music. The 2004 follow up ‘The Chronicles Of Life And Death’ veered from the poppy formula of it’s predecessor as they set out on their first effort, post-fame, to enhance the momentum and show a maturing versatility employing keyboards and moody string sections for their new-tech style of song writing. Three years later came fourth album ‘Good Morning Revival’,  yet again a dramatic shift of pace and style from previous form nesting itself within the surreal environment of the synth/dance/club-punk movement.

So then new album ‘Cardiology’, their fifth studio recorded long player which, according to Joel Madden, is a return to ‘the punk roots of our past’ and implies yet another shift in musical direction - though this time the change is a backwards one - to the formula which brought them here in the first place. . Completion of the album had been significantly delayed after the band’s decision to completely scrap what they’d recorded with producer Howard Benson and start again this time with Don Gilmore at the helm. Love them or loathe them Good Charlotte know how to pack a song with large scale amounts of fuck-off catchiness and with Gilmore’s intuitive grasp spurring every half note on to be glorious it’s a confident stride of a record throughout. Pop punk is this band’s natural symmetry and it’s  that precise context driving the new songs forwards, just as Joel Madden promised, and it’s once again the choppy power chord driven anthems they‘re known for. The sing-along compositions are present and correct - ‘Silver Screen Romance’ ‘Counting The Days’ and ‘Let The Music Play’ are standouts - new single ‘Like It’s Her Birthday’ mixes guitar with subtle bursts of electronica and ‘hey hey hey, oh oh oh’ harmonies.  The Blink 182/ Sum 41/ Green Day influences can be heard but only in snatches, not right across the breadth of the album as some might have you believe - the intro to the very brilliant ‘Alive’ , as an example, with it’s immediate drum opening and heavy guitar, or the shimmering chord structures of ‘Sex On The Radio’ that sound a lot like Green Day’s ‘Boulevard Of Broken Dreams‘, but then what else can you expect from such a heavily populated musical genre? At times everything is going to resemble something that’s been done before - that’s just basic mathematics - but, and this is possibly where their least obvious strengths lie, they still make everything sound exclusively ‘them’. This is the sound of a band enjoying themselves again, enjoying making the music they make and enjoying writing the songs they write. Good Charlotte aren’t half as bad as you might consider them and this is a  decent album - you just gotta give them a chance and this  is that chance. You’ll probably like it enough to convince yourself that you don’t - but aint that just musical snobbery for ya - as if you ever needed reminding.

Louise Distras: EP Review

Louise Distras
Heart Strings On A Hand Grenade

A rogue-folk hybrid somewhere between Bikini Kill and Martha Wainwright

Just because you haven’t heard of her don’t go believing she’s a new arrival with nothing to offer. That is the arrogant assumption I made (and I should know better) when Louise Distras first came to my attention. Further investigation revealed her to be much hyped and knee deep in so much critical acclaim it probably makes her bleed from the inside out. Any appreciation for something you create is the greatest feeling - but appreciation via the huge amounts being flung at her and at such a fledgling time in her existence - can only be wondrous! The 3 track EP ‘Heartstrings On A Hand Grenade’ is as good an account of oneself as any singer/songwriter might hope to bring for your consideration of their art. Her singing voice spits out mini-dramas and oscillates from raw to tender,  - her guitar playing - powerfully commanding to consequential nostalgia. Lyrically she is a critical essayist, the mouthy narrators perspective laced with vitriol and heartfelt emotion the same. The opening track ‘This Is Your Life’ begins with a bouncy acoustic guitar and lightly sweetened vocal delivery before scratching away the veneer to unfurl the first glimpse of what seems a naturally stabbing voraciousness - the spat-out words, gravely voice and tormented guitar work conveying the nature of her mood clearly enough. ‘Bullets’ is a guitar/tambourine paroxysm of rage-fuelled bitterness and frustration executed with perplexing greatness and lucidity via the enterprising voice/six string combination - an effective employment of the two things she’s clearly proficient in. Her final song ‘Blue On Black’ is the jauntier of the three - a multi-chorusing, whistling, feel-good tune disguising the jabbing lyrics lurking behind the fake whimsy of her chosen demeanour. Comparisons to Frank Turner/ Billy Bragg/Beki Bondage and every other British protest folk/punk singer wielding a guitar are to be expected, it’s the nihilistic manner that encourages the formation of such opinions, but although she isn’t about to become a genre differentiating guru on the strength of what’s here she will gain serious respect wherever she lays her proverbial hat. And who the fuck’s Brody Dalle anyway?

(photograph courtesy of louisedistras.co.uk)

21 October 2012

Live Review: Pete Doherty.

Pete Doherty
Liquid Room

the man with the soul of a busking poet returns 

Wearing a black suit but no trademark trilby hat Pete Doherty strolls onstage, picks up his acoustic guitar and, beneath stark unfussy violet lights begins his solo set as casually as if he’d just stopped for a 15 minute break before coming back out to pick up from where he’d previously finished. Only the reaction of the crowd - all screams and cheers - suggest his time away from this city has been so much longer than that - and tonight they were happy to see him back. He’s stirred up more hysterical media hype throughout his career than anyone else and split public opinion as fervently as any insincere politician might. His recent jail sentence for cocaine possession only chucked up another fresh source of nourishment for the frenzied to feast on. His intelligence, natural gifts and poetic intuition have endured long spells subdued by his addictions while his ego took off with Kate Moss for a while. Tonight all we can do is wait to see just how much of him has come back from the wreckage.

Swaying as he sings his way through ‘The Bowery Song’ his eyes barely lifting upwards he wheels away from the mic to face the wall before quickly strumming a chord change into gear and spinning back round to head straight into ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’ from his Libertines legacy and suddenly the Liquid Room has joined him - a full voiced choir - ‘cornered, the boy kicked out at the world, the world kicked back a lot fucking harder’ as he paces and steps the stage, singing with them, then dropping away again as they sing and he plays - a guitarist in a band of several hundred frontmen. He refrains from speaking between songs but still charms without trying , strumming out random chords before quickly changing the structure and breaking into another song. He’s aimlessly cool,  it catches them by surprise and they roar approval every time. He continues the journey through his Libertines, Babyshambles and solo work effortlessly and his volleying vocal on ‘Don’t Look Back Into The Sun’ drops and yelps and soars with perfection. The surreal bohemia of two ballet dancers gliding across the stage during ‘For Lovers’ reminds you just how creative the mind of Pete Doherty is. Bringing the song to its end all three bow theatrically to their audience before he fires onwards with a frenetic ‘Killamangiro’ followed by ‘Beg Steal Or Borrow’.

He stays with the older songs, ‘Music When The Lights Go Out’ and the biggest cheer of the night is kept for  Libertines catchy chant-along favourite ‘What A Waster’ the audience feverishly singing along with him as the line ‘get back inside you’ve got nothing on, oh mind yer bleeding own you 2 bob cunt’  fills the room. He continues, repeating the lyric ’2 bob’  over and over just so everyone can sing ‘cunt’ repeatedly. He’s spent the whole gig swaying and prowling the stage, spinning around and walking away, strumming random half tunes and changing the pace of songs midway. Wheeling his acoustic guitar up from his waist to his chest, playing one handed, jabbing it forwards or stopping completely. The last few songs are again pulled from his Libertines era and include ‘What Katie Did Next’ with its catchy ’shoop shoop shoop de lang de lang’ harmonies  and ‘Time For Heroes’. His debut solo single, the harmonica laden ‘Last Of The English Roses’ is next up before he finishes back in the past again with ‘I Get Along’ A fight breaks out at the side of the stage just as he brings the gig to an end. Security mop up the mouthy ones in less than 2 minutes, a perfectly timed operation indeed as Pete Doherty returns to the stage. He grabs the mic and announces ‘That’s your lot, it’s time to go, there will be no encore’. He smiles, picks up his guitar and kicks straight into ‘Fuck Forever’ As some of the crowd appear onstage beside him security quickly pull them down only for another lot to appear in their place, and again a third time.  It was all very jubilant and celebratory as they bounced and sang along with him, this man that they’d all came to watch, this man who hadn’t let them down once tonight, this man who had played a blinder here and was a joy to witness. He brings the song to an end, unstraps his guitar and holds it above his head for a few seconds as if celebrating a victory,  quickly smiles and throws it into the crowd. By the time they look back up he’s gone.

Photographs by Suzanne Hancock

Motorhead: The Complete Early Years Boxset

The greatest contribution Hawkwind made to rock music was firing bass player Ian Fraser ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister in 1975 following his arrest at the Canadian border on charges of drug possession. Lemmy, as we now all know, formed new band BASTARD before heeding the advice of his manager that any band with such a name would be completely overlooked by the music industry - so the band was renamed after the last song he ever wrote for Hawkwind - that song was, of course, called MOTORHEAD -and the rest, as the stereotyped expression loves to tell us….is history! Their loud, raucous, fast punk tinged heavy rock & roll biker chic was a revolutionary explosion of graceless rebellion explicitly employing conflicting genres of music with ceaseless audacity, and such smug nihilism has served them gloriously well - the years have not diminished the power. 
To mark a career which, to date, spans more than 3 decades, Sanctuary/Universal are to release Motorhead: The Complete Early Years Box Set. Housed within a unique Motorhead skull case are the first 8 albums, seven early singles, a limited edition print, concert programmes, badges and a collectors guide to the band. In fairness the band have completely distanced themselves from the whole thing and a recent statement from Lemmy urged fans not to buy it, claiming they have ‘no control over what’s done with their early songs’ and ‘wouldn’t want our fans to think we’d ever be involved in putting out such a costly product’. As endearing as his sincerity may be it’s a product possibly far too appealing for the hardcore collector to disregard based only on the disgruntled front-man. The first 8 albums are, without doubt, the most potent and concise of the Motorhead heritage. Among them…

MOTORHEAD (1977): The stripped back heavy rock with tinges of raw punk - this is the embryotic stages of their development - including the brutal, grit edged wall of noise title track as album opener - the hard rocking ‘Vibrator’ and a stand-out version of the Johnny Burnette song ‘Train Kept A Rollin’ 

OVERKILL (1979) Everything fell into pieces here as Motorhead unleash the sound and style they’re known for. Everything about this album is literally groundbreaking. The title track’s unrelenting holocaust of drums and hefty rock & roll paves the way for a collection of awesome compositions including ‘Stay Clean’ a snarling ‘No Class’ and ‘I’ll Be Your Sister’

BOMBER (1979) Surprisingly average record that failed completely to live up to the expectation OVERKILL churned up. Probably their weakest release ever - but it still contains a couple of classics like ‘Dead Men Tell No Tales’ and ‘Stone Dead Forever’ The majority of it is all a bit uninteresting and lacks the muscular drive of previous songs.

ACE OF SPADES (1980) This is Motorhead at their fast-paced, unstoppable best. Fiercely delivered arrogant rock & roll with depth and cleverness rooted at the foundation of every moment. Some of their best songs appeared on this album - (We Are) The Road Crew, ‘Live To Win’ ‘Jailbait’ ‘Ace Of Spades’ and ‘Love Me Like A Reptile’ A solid monument of pure brilliance.

Making up the rest of this extensive collection are…
Beer Drinkers And Hell Raisers (1977)
Louie Louie (1978)
Golden Years EP (1980)
St Valentines Day Massacre EP (1980)

Iron Fist (1982)
Another Perfect Day (1983)
Stand By Your Man EP (1982)
No Remorse (1984)
Shine (1983)
Killed By Death (1984)

Make no mistake, this IS the perfect collection for any serious Motorhead follower. Every second of their greatness is right here - and the collectors shall welcome it with frenzied joy.

Billy Liar: Interview (from my archives)

Interview with Billy Liar in August 2010 for Subba Cultcha. Article published Aug 30th 2010.

The acoustic punk rocker Billy Liar sits down and answers my questions

The natural poetics capture normal life’s balance and tension while the clever idiosyncratic fusion of punk rock and acoustic guitar is each observations fanfare. He’s a town centre wordsmith and back street philosopher combination, engaging your weary minds with songs you can relate to without ever feeling patronised or wrongly represented. Already a veteran of his craft, and aged just 23, he’s possibly played more venues than someone from his generation would expect and recently added a shed-load of air miles clocked up during a recent series of gigs… in New Zealand, something most of his peers can only gawp at. Ever since 2007’s debut EP ‘Come Back To Edinburgh’ enchanted both public and media alike it’s been more swings than it has roundabouts for the Glasgow based musician. The recently released second EP ‘It Starts Here’ was produced by Acey Slade of Murderdolls and Amen notoriety and it continues to spearhead the march of Billy Liar across our planet. Fresh from his  slot at this year’s Rebellion Festival in Blackpool I tracked down the itinerant punk and demanded he answer my specially prepared questions. Like a true champ he obliged most kindly.

From Billy Liar the band to Billy Liar the solo performer is a transition you made some time ago now. Was there specific reasons for wanting to go it alone?
It’s a one man mission! How else can I say it?! I will keep playing with friends of mine but it will never be a band again.

You can never be accused of not putting in the spadework when it comes to playing live. You’ve pretty much graced every punk rock/live music venue in Scotland plus as many beyond that. It’s obviously something you are passionate about doing, and I know it definitely wont be about the cash. Is it more about playing live for you than it is is anything else or is it a means to raising the profile for your future development as an artist?

It's just purely about trying to play my songs to as many people as possible. The more times I play, the more I learn how to make them better and also I just love meeting new people. Touring non stop gives me the opportunity!

Staying with the live thing, you played some gigs in New Zealand recently. How did that come about? How did they take to the music of Billy Liar?
I supported The Rabble when they played in Scotland and became really good friends with their drummer Rupe. He put me in touch with Andrew who runs a company called Act-Up Promotions and has been The Rabble's booking agent in NZ for years and has also been involved in the making of lots of their music videos. Andrew sorted the whole tour and I had a blast while I was out there. A lot of people came to the shows and Andrew shot a video for me while I was there which is getting edited just now. I will put it online as soon as it's ready! Also, check out 5th Threat, a great New Zealand punk band, and great friends of mine.

Last year you released the ‘It Starts Here’ EP. It was produced by the legendary Acey Slade ( Trashlight Vision, Murderdolls) which isn’t something many solo acoustic punk singers can add to their c.v.  Tell us a bit about that?
Acey is a really good friend. We met years ago at a Trashlight Vision gig in Edinburgh. I grew up listening to his music in Murderdolls and Amen, and loved what he was doing with Trashlight, and so I gave him a copy of my first EP. About two weeks later, I got an email from him saying we needed to work together. Voila!

Are there any plans or offers to head into the studio again for the follow up?
We're talking just now about that. I've been writing a lot of new songs and getting them ready to record my debut album. I recorded my first EP in Scotland, and my second in London. I think this time I will do the album half and half. I really want to get as many of my friends on it as possible, so I will see how it will work out! I can't wait to get the new songs recorded!

Your lyrics are very ordinary observations of the world around you. A believable world that most of us frequent. You have a sharp poetic insight though which makes for interesting narration. What is the most vital part of the whole process for you. Writing the lyrics or writing music good enough to bring out the lyrics?
Thank you. A bit of both really. The lyrics and the story are definitely where the song stems from but then it has to have a strong melody to carry those lyrics throughout the song. The best songs are the ones that come from nowhere. Those are the ones I try and hang on to. I can wake up with an entire song in my head or be sitting on a bus and suddenly frantically scribbling on the back of my bus ticket, with a complete song spilling out of me; lyrics and music.

What bands and artists influence you?
At the moment, I've been listening to Jesse Malin a lot, and his new band, Jesse Malin and The St. Marks Social. I saw him play recently at a sold out show at King Tuts in Glasgow, and it absolutely blew me away. The sheer energy of the band and the relentless smashing out of songs and passion with which they were executed was something I hadn't seen in some time. They played nonstop until they were literally dragged off stage by the promoter. Their album is incredible too. Also, been listening to Kings Of The Delmar, The Dead Class, I.C.H, Pascal Briggs, Sorry And The Sinatras, Bomb The Music Industry!, The Hold Steady and Andrew Jackson Jihad.

What does the immediate future hold for you?
Just got back from Rebellion Festival and that was one of the funnest gigs I've ever played - made so many new friends, saw so many amazing bands, and caught up with so many old friends. My friend Wayne from Kings Of The Delmar described Rebellion as a place where bands who normally pass each other in motorway service stations like ships in the night, get a chance every year to catch up properly and have a laugh. I think he's right! As for right now, I'm taking a bit of time off touring at the moment (for the first time in a long time!) to get the tracks ready for my album and decide which label I want to put it out on. I may sneak in a UK tour with Wayne before the year is out, and there's talk of a tour of Finland with Deek from Oi Polloi's new band, Kansalaistottelemattomuus, AND a tour of Australia, but we'll see how this year and next pan out!

Finally, who’d win in a fight between yourself and pint-sized Communards terrier Jimmy Somerville? 
Hahahaa why? Is he wanting a fight like? I'll box the cunt!

And on that note I thank you, sir!

For all Billy Liar gig listings and further info click the link at the bottom of this page

For press queries including requests for interview, guest listings, photographs, bookings and material for review contact Iain McDonald at  booking@billyliarmusic.com