March Madness

If you thought February was a bit full on then welcome to March.  Whilst the UK did its usual shit the bed over some snowfall the rest of the planet got on with what it had to do without much fuss. Such was the panic, Fraser had to abort his trip to Londinium to see Turbonegro unless he hired a chopper then paraglided in, he was stuffed due to the Baltic conditions and an inefficient panic-stricken country. Anyway.

RPM scribes did manage to leave the house at some point because Ben caught Ryan Hamilton & the Traitors up North whilst Dom caught the tour in Cardiff. When Ben saw the tour party it was as advertised because on the night in Cardiff the Main Grains couldn’t attend due to…Um… snow on the roof of their car! No Car couldn’t find it under snow, leaves, it had blown away or they couldn’t make it because it was waaay too far when London was next on the schedule, ticket sales weren’t exactly great or some similar excuse, oh well, it wasn’t to be so Hamilton was left to break the news of the Main Grains transport issues cough, cough. Like the trooper he is he and the Traitors played an extended set to the few hardy souls who ventured out into the great wide open to fly their freak flags and a thoroughly enjoyable evening was had. It would have been nice to have both bands but there we go.

So with most people tucked up in their castles listening to punk rock praying that those hardy postal workers managed to get into work so they could deliver a veritable avalanche of new releases, some even made it onto the death decks of future RPM scribes such as Dirt Box Disco with their ‘Immortals’ album and joining them this month would be Eureka Machines with their brand new pledge endorsed campaign ‘Victories’, which went down well (to be fair) all Eureka pledges go well as Chris Catalyst seems like a guy with a plan and knows how to execute  a well-oiled campaign always full of little extras.

 

 

There were also some notable records released in March by the likes of Christmas with their most excellent ‘Scum As You Are’, Ryan Hamilton also got recording this time with Tony Wright and their ‘Grand Ole Otley’ and showing that we’re not all about the crash, bang, wallop! Boss Caine and his album ‘Loved By Trouble, Troubled By Love‘ was also released this month.

The most hotly anticipated release of the month has to go to those speed dealers Zeke and their brutal, frantic and breakneck take on rock n roll that made ‘Hellbender’ such a success. There was also tour dates announced for a few months that would have some of the scribes at RPM all hot and bothered. Last Great Dreamers released their latest offering also through Pledge it was the most excellent ’13th Floor Renegade’ it certainly got HQ rocking and rolling.

Hot Snakes released ‘Jericho sirens’ mid-March which also bothered turntables and speakers all over our gaff. Its no secret that we love a single here at RPM and seeing as we love the little things in life who could forget some epic 7″ releases in March most notably in the shape of Fireburn and their EP ‘Shine‘ a band that will feature later in the year under more tragic circumstances. Fireburn might not have had the sheer brutality of Todd Youths Bloodclot project it certainly was pretty damn good and along with their EP something we are delighted to champion.

Finally and thankfully people managed to stay out of jail or the morgue this month which is always a good thing. Again its quality over popularity for RPM scribes and the champions of March are plenty but I’d have an inkling if we had a vote it would have to be Zeke for the ‘Hellbender’ album. 1-2-3-4 woosh!

 

 

 

After seeing Sophie’s plea on Facebook RPM was happy to help spread the word and hope that our reader also do their bit or at the very least share the linked video and gofundme page.

 

Sophie said, “Please check out the video.to spread a little love and magic to those without a home this Christmas Day. Christabelle Moon Shine and Sophie K Powers will be holding an all-day event at ‘Rumi’s Cave’. A cosy space to offer warmth, food, entertainment, lashings of love and masses of merriment”

“As it is completely independent, a go fund me page Here has been set up  Any donation of any size would be massively appreciated, and have a huge impact on helping make a difference and give back to those less fortunate. they can also come collect, or provide a drop off address, if you’d like to donate any items mentioned in the description/video.”   Just PM either Sophie K Powers or Moon Shine.with help

The money will go directly towards serving a hot breakfast, lunch and dinner, refreshments, hostels & accommodation, sound healing therapy, recovery workshops, folk music performers and dance organizers, toiletries and gift bags containing daily essentials. Thank you in advance for any donations/contributions

***Please don’t hesitate to share***

Go Fund Me Link 

“THE MAN WITH STARS ON HIS KNEES”

SPECIAL EDITION RELEASED 22ND FEBRUARY 2019
FEATURING FIVE BONUS TRACKS

British rock band Aaron Buchanan And The Cult Classics are pleased to announce that they have signed to LISTENABLE Records. To celebrate, the band and the label are releasing a Special Edition of the album ‘The Man With Stars On His Knees’ on Friday 22nd February featuring five brand new bonus tracks, consisting two brand-new studio tracks ‘Undertow’ and ‘Fire In The Fields Of Mayhem’ and of three live tracks on the CD version.

Says front man Aaron Buchanan: “This signing feels right. It’s the best way for us as unified musicians and friends to give you bigger, better, more extravagant shows. 10,000 of you have already become fans of our Facebook page, what we can do now with support from LISTENABLE is astronomical. Collective belief in this project is the thing that has made it a success and we now wish to share it with you. We will be bringing to you a mammoth re-release of ‘The Man With Stars On His Knees’ in early 2019 with the addition of new live tracks alongside ‘Fire In The Fields Of Mayhem’ and exclusive brand new track ‘Undertow’.”

In 2015, having toured the globe for four years fronting Heaven’s BasementAaron Buchanan walked out of one band and immediately into a studio just out of London with producer James Curtis-Thomas, guitarist Ryan Woods and sister & guitarist Laurie Buchanan. In the years prior, Curtis-Thomas and Buchanan had spoken many times about producing a record with deep, mature, and colourful content; just a few months later and a stint for Buchanan in Australia where many of the vocals were tracked in a shed just outside Brisbane, the now critically acclaimed and award winning record ‘The Man With Stars On His Knees’ was born out of a tiny studio just outside London with no hot water or central heating. A true testament to the belief in the music and vision Buchanan had bought to the table.

Continues Aaron:” Since we formed the CULT CLASSICS in 2016 and with the release of ‘The Man With Stars On His Knees’ it has been a rollercoaster ride of tours, shows and festivals; to name just a few; Buck CherryLife Of AgonyRoyal RepublicSkindredSkid RowDownload FestivalRamblin’ Man FairWildfire FestivalCamden Rocks and SteelhouseTom McCarthy (guitar) and my sibling Laurie (guitar) have been constants in the CULT CLASSICSfrom day one, forever supporters of my eclectic, eccentric, and left hook vision, but in mid-2017 we re-shuffled the line-up and bought in Paul Whiteon drums and Mart Trail on bass. “We” needed to grow, as did our show. Paul, having come from both a metal (The Defiled) and a theatre (STOMP) background could not have been a better fit, and Mart Trail came alongside Paul as the best addition a band could ask for to complete the fundamentals of any rock show: Kick, Snare, Bass.”

February 2018

Foulmouthed Filthy February or something like that.

February began with a road trip to see a band who for me has been my go-to pilgrimage in North Wales for The Gathering weekend for the last quarter of a century (almost). A weekend celebrating the music of Mike Peters & The Alarm reached a high point on the Saturday night as a Four-hour performance rounded off an impressive weekend. I’ve enjoyed going for almost quarter of a century where special guests have included Billy Duffy, Craig Adams, Steve Diggle, Pete Wylie, Dave sharp, Ian McNabb, Eddie McDonald and a whole bunch of other musicians I’ve forgotten and I’ve managed to attend without missing a single year.

I must admit the thought of such a marathon performance on a Saturday night filled me with dread can any fans watch for four hours? The answer is a resounding yes! It flew by and was one of the best Saturday night shows I’ve ever seen Peters perform especially when he was joined on stage by Craig Adams for the final hour (that still doesn’t sound right – the final hour). Roll on February 2019 when I can do it all again.

 

Staying on the live front, Other RPM scribes went to some far-flung countries to catch their Rock n Roll with Craggy taking in an excellent show from Fertile Hump live at Kabinet Muz, in Brno. but a large gathering of writers took in a show or two when the Damned went around the UK this time with the added excitement of Paul Gray back in the fold for the first time in decades which was rather nice.  Seeing the Damned with a new album in tow and playing sold out shows all across the UK in decent sized venues was awesome and it has to be said so were the band.  Gray seemed to give them a right shot in the arm just in time for this stint of dates was easily the highlight of February. But with the recent news of our Brother Scott Sorry battling a serious illness the Rock and Roll community rallied and a series of benefit shows were arranged to raise funds for Scott at such a difficult time what with the American Health system being what it is  The likes of Role Models, Main Grains and  The Empty Page rocked out at The Parish to rave reviews whilst Wakefield Warehouse saw the Professionals, the Wildhearts, Massive Wagons and Sonic Boom Six take care of business and send Positive vibes across the ocean as well as money raised at these spectacular shows.

Before Feb was done The UK also saw the return of Bullets And Octane and Ben attended a memorable show in York that proved that Gene Louis had lost none of the fire he had inside his beating heart when he first toured the UK.

 

As for recordings to hit the shelves, historically early in the year, things open slowly in the music business and January being about new resolutions before finally seeing new releases hit the shelves, so, Feb saw an avalanche of really big hitters for RPM writers.  We had the release of Imperial State Electric’s Live album ‘Anywhere Loud’ as well as some garage awesomeness from the likes of the Cavemen and The Bellrays getting round to release records. 

Several writers were also impressed by the latest Buffalo Tom long player ‘Quiet And Peace’ with Craggy picking it as one of his albums of the year. February belonged to a few foul-mouthed releases, the first came in the shape of Jonesey with their self titled long player with its down n dirty sleazy punk rock n roll and song titles and lyrics that would make a sailor blush no doubt about that. But one of the years highlights hit us like a sledgehammer between the eyes has to be Motherfuckin’ Motherfuckers with ‘MFFFMF’ (I think that’s the correct amount of F’s) inspired by Supershit 666 and the idea of some friends from the most splendid Bitch Queens and Oz and Lee from the mighty Hip Priests recording a mini album packed full of songs that were written in the shortest of times. I’ll let Lee Love tell you, good people, what happened, ” Ah the dumb Lee Love story. Well, me ‘n’ Oz went To Basel for a few days to hang out with our mates from Bitch Queens and we ended up getting pissed (as you do) and I was winding them up saying I could write and get em to record a mini album in a day. So we went into the Queens studio the next day and played through everything once maybe twice and hey presto it was done”.  Creating that Copters supershit 666 vibe.

To be fair this pack of loons rose to the occasion and absolutely knocked it out of the park in fact they didn’t just knock it out of the park they followed out tied it to the back of their pick up truck dragged it around the wood then kicked any life left in it out then did it all again for shits and giggles.  An absolute giant of punk rock n fuckin roll – make no mistake about that! Motherfuckin’ Motherfucker should and one day will rightfully be seen as a classic of its genre.

 

Also, The motherfuckin’ Dwarves were taking back the night in February as well and a jolly fine record that was.  Maybe it should be renamed Fuckin’ foulmouthed February from now on.  What a month. Outstanding stuff.

 

It’s a staggering 32 years since Cheap Trick last played the capitol city of Wales, and whilst I’ve seen the band a good few times since that Motley Crue support slot it was their return to Cardiff that meant for the first time in many a year I not only snapped up a ticket for this show in double quick time but I’m also queuing early doors in the pouring rain outside one of my least favourite venues just to make sure I don’t miss a note. Ever the fan boy eh!

I’m glad I did too because tonight really does belong to the boys from Rockford. Playing a tight and sadly shorter set than I’ve come to expect from the band they still manage to change things around set list wise from the previous two nights (I just couldn’t resist a sneaky peak online beforehand) slotting in the sublime ‘Big Eyes’ and a crowd pleasing ‘The Flame’ as tonight’s curveballs around the rest of the set – which effectively plays out like a greatest hits of Cheap Trick.

The addition of Robin Zander’s son Robin Zander Jnr on second guitar and backing vocals certainly adds a new dimension to the band, one which allows his father to make full use of the ego ramp and concentrate on hitting all the right notes, something the 65 year old still does with the utmost of ease. Whilst behind the kit Daxx Nielsen has become as much a feature of Cheap Trick these past seventeen or so years as the legendary Bun E Carlos. And whilst legendary is a term bandied around all to easily these days when it comes to songs like ‘ If You Want My Love’, ‘I Want You To Want Me’, ‘Dream Police’ and ‘Surrender’ right here in these four songs you have perhaps the very cornerstones of many a subsequent musical genres. Without this band there would certainly be no power pop, there would be no hair metal and perhaps maybe even no alt-rock or grunge so when Kliph Scurlock takes to the drums for a song tonight everything comes kinda full circle and I feel honoured to witness such a magical one-off event.

Ending their ten song set with ‘Goodnight Now’ Rick Nielsen’s ludicrous multi neck guitar once again makes a long overdue appearance on a Welsh stage before it’s all over in the blink of an eye. Short and sweet this might have been but I adored every single sugar coated second of it, long may the Trick shine on.

Having witnessed the tail end of Def Leppard’s 25th anniversary tour for the ‘Hysteria’ album at Hellfest five years ago I was certainly interested in seeing what the band might do to top that stealing performance this time around.

Okay there’s a few small changes – there’s no Def Leppard supporting themselves “deep dive” archive set to start things off, plus (and this bit does seem strange) there’s no repeat of the intro film that they used to set the scene for what was about to follow, but what we do get tonight is the twelve song, bazillion copy selling, album played out in sequence in meticulous detail and boy does it sound good. How can you critique arena rock perfection? You can’t, you just have to simply accept that songs like ‘Animal’, ‘Armageddon It’ and ‘Gods Of War’ (noticeably now devoid of the Mrs T outro speech) were written for “Sold Out” nights like tonight and whatever you think of Def Leppard you cannot deny these guys have achieved a phenomenal amount in their time together as a band and tonight they have simply never looked happier – especially with the ecstatic crowd response.

Moving the “deep dive” section to the encores (ah! I see what you did their guys) and noting that on previous nights classics like ‘Wasted’ and ‘Let It Go’ have been given an airing I have to admit that tonight’s opening selection of ‘Make Love Like A Man’ ‘When Love And Hate Collide’ and ‘Let’s Get Rocked’ kind of leave me feeling like I’d been dealt a bum hand, I mean am I the only one who’d have preferred to hear ‘When Saturday Comes’ at this point? Ha! Look, I’ve still got the game changing ‘Rock Of Ages’ and the always awesome ‘Photograph’ so I’m always going to leave here tonight with a smile on my face, just like pretty much everyone else, it’s just that deep down inside I wish Da Lepps would have done a 35th year anniversary of the album those classics came from instead.

Ah well, you can always dream…

Author:Johnny Hayward

With 2018 in its last throws RPM thought it would be a good idea to have a quick glance over its collective shoulder at a blur that was 2018.  It was choc full of albums – singles – concerts and the odd loss and break up. We spent the end of November telling each other no that was never this year or wasn’t that out in 2017  or in some cases the wrong decade 😉

 

We’ve only been in existence a short number of months and already we’ve racked up a heap of albums reviewed and there are plenty from earlier this year that we’d covered elsewhere on the web so cast your minds back eleven months and January as we look at the early movers and shakers in a notoriously slow month as the year finds its feet.

January 2018.

One of the first engagements I had in 2018 was a date at the 100 club for the Resolution Festival appearance of the mighty Boys who would be supported that memorable night by four should know better upstarts from North of the border  Heavy Drapes with their enigmatic frontman Garry. To say I was blown away that night would be something of an understatement as the band knocked out a whole set of memorable tunes and The Vulz. 

 

Elsewhere RPM scribes caught their first sighting of The Hip Priests as a five-piece when they visited Le Pub in Newport but that wasn’t before they caught former Misfit Michael Graves doing his thang in Cardiff on the live front.

As far as a slow-burning month goes it would appear that that is a load of old bollocks as this January looks like its kicking off with a few right bangers as Amyl & The Sniffers released their EP’s on one glorious longish player in the shape of ‘Big Attraction/Giddy UP’ who despite being bigged up by the media were determined to warrant the tag and deliver the goods on record.  This Australian mullet sporting punk rock group certainly set the pace.

Other recommendations from the opening month were Doll Hazard with their Transatlantic Meltdown. Which Ben recommended after hearing the Dirtbag Republic and Suicide Bomber players join forces to pen a sleazy bag of Rock and Roll tunes

 

Also in January, we had some dirty filthy treats from a couple of garage punk rock n roll bands that like nothing more than making a rather splendid racket first up the awesome The Good The Bad And The Zugly with their Misanthropic House album that got Fraser all hot and bothered and rightly so. We love TGTBATZ around here and they are to feature later in the year with their fantastic video to their new single but more of that laters. Don’t think its all about Scandinavianian punk either as London town delivers the goods with the new kids on the block (who said new kids?) Flash House who’ve been kicking around for a while actually settled down to release their mighty fine album full of noise in the shape of ‘Brown Sauce’  as it came barking out of the traps rattling speakers cones all over the shop. I’m not sure about Brown Sauce but played loud enough I think it might be what scientists call Brown Noise such is the bass rumble involved in this bad boy. Even though it came out at the final knockings of 2017  I didn’t get my mitts on it until January.

Sadly January saw the passing of a real enigma in British Rock N Roll as Mark E Smith lost his battle with lung cancer and the alternative scene lost one of its most prolific writers and performers. Releasing 32 studio albums and many singles during his time on earth. As leader of the Fall he probably went through twice as many bandmates as records released with him being the only constant in what was a turbulent and often antagonistic life Smith was certainly unique.  But January passed and it took the third and final member of Motorhead on January 10th. Edward Allan Clarke – or as we all know and love him “Fast” Eddie Clarke – passed away peacefully after contracting Pneumonia. Clarke left Motorhead in ’82 but he will forever be associated with the band and the classic riff that was ‘Ace Of Spades’  RIP both and take it easy.

 

 

 

 

January album of the month would probably have to go to The Good The Bad And The Zugly which is a pretty decent way to kick off any year I’m sure you’ll agree.  Roll on Foulmouthed February…

Nevermind Bob Harris infamously declaring the New York Dolls as “mock rock”, in the run-up to tonight when asking Mrs H if she wanted to come along with me she took one listen to ‘Pocket Venus’ by tonight’s headliners and promptly declared the music to be too “plinky plonk” for her taste.

I mean c’mon, Bobby cunting Crush this most certainly is not. So, let me expand a little to avoid any possible further confusion.

Henri Herbert & The Fury is the three-piece outfit that the piano playing phenomenon (whose name forms the basis of the band) put together after the Jim Jones Revue disbanded in 2014, and since then he’s been channelling his influences of Jerry Lee Lewis, Hank Williams, Tom Waits and Otis Spann into an infectious mix of all the genres these guys specialised in. Got it? Good, now perhaps we can begin properly.

Opening up tonight’s show is Red Light Syndrome a guitar based four piece formed around the songwriting talents of ex-This System Kills guitarist Craigy (Two Tins) Rees. Playing their second show to date the most immediate thing that hits me when the band kicks off with ‘Still Nothing Yet’ is just how much they have gelled as a unit since their slightly nervous debut (which I also caught) just a few weeks earlier. Craigy appears much more at ease with his still new dual role as frontman and guitarist and proudly sporting a Husker Du baseball hat he wears his influences, well, on his head actually. To sum up, the band’s sound though you have to look a little wider than Minnesota’s finest to the likes of The Lemonheads and perhaps even Midway Still and Leatherface, as they are certainly on the more melodic side of the fence when it comes to the songwriting.

Its when Craigy feels at ease enough to joke with the audience that the true protentional of the band fully shines through though and in their self-dubbed ”emo” song ‘Train Wreck’ they have a song just waiting to become a scene favourite. Closing out proceedings with the seemingly apt ‘Heartburn’ (an earlier consumed fishcake was also playing havoc with my digestive system) this was a performance that stuck in my head for all the right reasons.

Returning to The Dollshouse after playing “the gig of the tour” last time around, Henri Herbert & The Fury are in no mood for messing around tonight demanding the already bustling crowd to enjoy the night as a rock ‘n’ roll show should be and not as a spectator sport, and I must admit I’m immediately swept up in the furore generated by the band. In fact, it isn’t until they hit the slightly slower and broodier strut of ‘Bad Blood’ midway into their set that I suddenly remember I’m actually supposed to be reviewing tonight and haven’t noted a single song. Oops, but I guess you understand this is exciting stuff you can’t stand still to, right?

Back in the review zone then and the covers of ‘Milkshake Mademoiselle’ and (the main set ending) ‘Fire’ are perhaps two of the most defining moments from tonight’s set as it takes a real special talent to make songs by Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimi Hendrix sound like your own, something the hugely talented Herbert and his Furies do with every bead of sweat they generate here tonight.

Returning for no less than five (or maybe it was six) encores it’s simply impossible to stand still when Henri Herbert & The Fury are in town, and at times tonight it’s like the BBC have brought ‘Strictly’ all the to the Valleys for a one-off rock ‘n’ roll dance off, all I’m missing is my regular dancing partner.

“Plinky plonk” … I ask you.

Author: Johnny Hayward

Originally announced for the Fleece this sold out in the blink of an eye so was moved to the much bigger SWX which also sold out in the blink of the other eye.  Tonight The Californians are joined in the Westcountry by opening band of punks and four siblings from Hastings that make up Made Of Ace.  Its remarkable that four siblings actually like the same music for a start because my brothers hate punk rock and I’ve got six of them and whilst the band sound like they really know what they’re doing and play well. Whether they are suffering a poor mix or what but I’m just not feeling it and they seem to lack a standout song – something to really remember them by which was a shame.

Next up was the three piece; Grade 2. Hailing from the Isle Of wight and breaking with the order of the day as none of these are related (as far as I know) anyway, again, a bit of a muddy mix for their Oi! punk rock.  Grade 2 like openers Made Of Ace had energy but didn’t have a stand out track that I would find myself humming on the way home or enough to entice me to the merch stall.  I don’t want to be negative but tonight’s headliners could never be accused of not owning a catchy tune that sticks in your head for ages something the openers don’t quite have yet anyway. 

Right, Tin hat on. The Interrupters seem to be riding the crest of a wave currently and receiving all sorts of accolades from all quarters for their most excellent new album and their live shows. Tonight a bulging – expectant crowd waited to see what these four likable Californians had to offer and over the next hour and fifteen. They duly obliged to entertain albeit in a scripted razz-matazz sort of way with the wacky encore not encore and bursts of Motley Crue, Rancid and Green Day tunes but let’s not get ahead of ourselves quite yet.

The band took to the stage and in the first five numbers, they pretty much blew away most of the audience judging by the number of bouncing souls wedged into the club tonight. The sound was no longer muddy and in fact was crisp and crystal clear (hell, maybe too crisp and clear) and Aimee has a voice as good live as on the records. ‘A Friend Like Me’, ‘By My Side’, ‘She’s Kerosene’, ‘Take Back The Power’ and ‘She Got Arrested’ were energetic but were they about to peak early blowing a stack of their finest too early? There’s no way a band can maintain this high – can they?

To be fair much like Green Day the band are very slick and rehearsed and seemingly without spontaneity as Kevin’s banter sounds like he’s said it every night of the tour just changed the town or am I being a bit unfair?  I don’t have a problem with their happy smiling faces God knows we need something to make us smile these days and The Interrupters have got a lot to smile about.  I might well be being a tad over critical because the music was excellent and you can’t help being swept along with the happiness and humbleness of the band’s approach. I guess not every band wings it and isn’t gnarly burnt out punks with a chip on their shoulder because none of those could ever be tagged on The Interrupters that’s for sure they seem to be heading to the same place as Green Day and I’m happy with that because the more bands shifting records and selling out concert halls can only be a good thing for the scene as a whole no doubt about that. (Thats not the first time No Doubt has been mentioned either tonight)

I did enjoy the Operation Ivy cover midset and ending with ‘Family’ seems genuine (Hell 3/4 of this band are related) they seem like such good, warm people; I wish them every success and having Tim Armstrongs influence and guiding hand is a masterstroke because the guy oozes talent and someone who knows how to pen a hook and chorus.

Now, if their next album has as many good tunes and an upbeat catchy feeling they will go overground and we won’t be seeing the likes of them in a venue under 2000 capacity that’s for sure. I do hope that happens because The Interrupters are onto something and about 1800 people leave SWX beaming and mumbling along to one or other of their many songs it’s why they are blowing up right now and also why they’re bossing decent size venues everywhere. They may be slick, polished and just so up and happy in times as weird as these I’ll bet on these four cracking this crazy business right open on this evidence and they’ll have worked hard and put the miles in to deserve it. Maybe its time for this cranky old hack to suck it up and just enjoy the moment and not worry about anything other than the seventy minutes the band are on stage because as far as entertainment goes The Interrupters have got it and as we look for younger bands to break through maybe these guys are going to start a fire under a scene desperate for young blood to give everyone a lift. Mr. Grumpy over and out

Buy The Interrupters Here

Author: Dom Daley

Rock City Angels released one of my favorite albums ever in ‘Young Man’s Blues’ back in 1988. It is 15 songs of rocking bliss that real favourite apart from their contemporaries by mixing so many different influences from southern rock to the blues to some danceable rhythms with Bobby Durango’s (RIP) unmistakable vocals laid over the top. Geffen Records even indulged the band by letting them put 15 songs on their debut album instead of the industry standard 10 at the time. Possible reasons for this vary, but I subscribe to the theory that Geffen did not want this band out there competing with Guns ‘N Roses moving forward at the time. If you do some googling, you can find this theory discussed out on the internet. The band made one video for ‘Deep Inside Your Heart’ and was then put on tour for about the next 4 years even though you would struggle to find the album in the stores at that point. ‘Young Man’s Blues’ received a ton of plays back when it was released by me and continues to add more to that total every year. ‘Southern Vision’ presents the second collection (‘Midnight Confessions’ being the first) of demos the band was working on for Geffen Records for their second album that never got to be recorded for them.

If you are already a fan of the band, it goes without saying that this album is recommended as we get to hear more from Durango and crew, but these songs are also clearly some rough and ready demos as opposed to studio quality recordings. What immediately stands out in the recordings though is the passion this band had for the music, and it is criminal that we will never get the finished versions of these songs. ‘Going Fast Slow’ gets this started with a solid straight ahead hard rocking beat with Durango’s drawl in full effect. The guitar riff is catchy with the solo begging for air guitar participation. Drums welcome us to the boogie of the title track with its bluesy guitar riff finding the band taking elements from ‘Young Man’s Blues’ and pushing the sounds even further. The smooth sounding chorus fits perfectly with a great Durango ad lib kick starting the killer guitar solo. A huge guitar riff rings in ‘Lower East Side’ and features the band at their “heaviest” really with the song recalling an assertive hair band song, but this still drips with passion even if the sonic quality drops a little bit here. Some love and tenderness clearly went into making the quality of these recordings as good as they are, but this one shows its rough edges more than some of the others. ‘I Confess’ doesn’t connect with me as much and could have been one of the tracks that would have missed the second album if I was choosing from the demo collections.

‘All Our Tomorrows’ features a nice guitar riff and provides a catchy midtempo anthem that could have ultimately been pushed as a 3rd or 4th single from the album back in the day. I could have seen them adding some additional instrumentation in the studio to the album version, but this would have been terrific as a live song as is. Acoustic guitar introduces rocker ‘Lost Generation’ where the band indulge their hard rock side on the verses and contrast it with an excellent chorus that sticks long after the album is done playing. This would have likely been a live staple and an album favorite. My favorite part is actually how they use the bridge to transition over to the guitar solo. Changing gears completely, the band slows down with ‘Dark End of the Street’ capturing the spirit of Lynyrd Skynyrd at Muscle Shoals Studio. This track is simply magical in its feel. A finished version could have included some gospel style backing vocals, piano, and/ or horns, but that might actually have caused it to lose this spirit. ‘Saving Grace’ moves back into some rocking blues with some catchy guitar picking and Durango sounding excellent.

Our stretch run begins with ‘Halfway to Heaven’ where the band show they had quality catchy hard rock songs spilling out of the speakers at this point. Give this one a real studio recording and it would have been another standout on the second album. Where a lot of the hair bands of the day lost their footing with the emergence of grunge and alternative, the Rock City Angels might have actually been able to carve out a whole other identity that would have carried them through because of their roots. The quick tempo of ‘Take Me’ sounds better and better with repeated listens, and it definitely would have benefitted from a proper recording. It would have been a deep album track that I would have loved which excels due to its simplicity and fun. ‘The World of Today’ is a slow rocker that has some ballad qualities but carries more musical weight and power. The guitar work is awesome with this one capturing a 70’s rock feeling. Closer ‘New Hope for the Dead’ is ironically titled given the passing of Durango several years ago. This sleazy rocker highlight showcases what a special band this was, and the final shout by Durango at the end causes me to both smile and feel sad as it is the perfect last thing to hear.

Let’s be honest, these types of releases can be obvious cash-ins by people who have the tapes and take advantage of the circumstances. ‘Southern Vision’ sounds excellent given the time period and what was likely available to the band. The label has clearly taken measures to make this a worthwhile release for the fans of the band. Geffen Records did some phenomenal work with artists around this time, but that clearly didn’t happen with these guys for whatever the reason was. The passing of time has only continued to heighten my love for the ‘Young Man’s Blues’ album, and ‘Southern Vision’ provides evidence that the band was writing excellent songs that deserved to be properly done. If you are a fan of the band, this cannot be recommended enough. The world lost a star when Durango left us.

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Author: Gerald Stansbury

It’s getting closer to Christmas, you’ve done zero shopping and you’ve got zero money. Don’t worry if you got the pre-Christmas’s blues, RPM is here to wash away those troubles and make you forget all about Saint Nick and his pesky elves, bah humbug, let’s have some outlaw country!
First up Reno’s finest outlaw Leroy Vergil will take his Christmas stash and blow it all up his nose if this video from Hellbound Glory is to be believed.
Hellbound Glory – ‘Hellbound Blues’

Next up Sarah Shook will drink any man under the table this festive season, or any day of the week come to think of it.

Finally, ok it’s not really country but Laura Jane Grace is every inch an outlaw and we LUV this song anyways.