Volunteering when you are 4 double Jameson’s into a double-figure session down the Pub to review an album is probably not the way to do things. However, yours truly did just that with regards to Stiff Richards’ “State of Mind” album. Two days after my drunken endeavours the WeTransfer file arrived. “Please be good” I hoped. Have you ever, from the opening notes of a record from a band you have absolutely no knowledge of, known instinctively that you’re gonna love every single one of the songs? Again, that’s what happened to yours truly. “Point of You” kicks in with top quality jangly guitar before the rest of the band cotton on and let rip. Almost immediately, I was singing along, all right shouting along, at the idiot box with “What’s the point of you?!” For those of you wondering why I had the Television on whilst listening to music, I have the subtitles on whilst using the home Gym, gotta burn those Jameson Calories off somehow and being annoyed at the News helps. It’s almost like the guitarist came into the rehearsal studio with a whole bunch of riffs, started playing them and the rest of the band automatically knew what was expected of them, with the bassist on “Glass” Peter Hooking things up in the manner of Joy Division’s “Dance To The Radio” but not. “Got It To Go” sounds like Rod Stewart and the Faces have rediscovered their swing or gin. The songs are loose, tight and explosive all at the same.  

The nine tracks on offer come and go in less than 30 minutes leaving me gasping for more, the fast pace does easy up towards the tail end of the album allowing me to catch my breath but not enough that I need to lie down. 

I resisted the temptation to discover more about Stiff Richards whilst writing this as I didn’t want to be influenced or swayed by anyone or anything else. I did get it into my mind that they must be Australasia as the singer sometimes hinted at Rob Younger, either that or he was a fan of Radio Birdman and The New Christs. Turns out that the band are Australian residing in Rye which is just outside of Melbourne and consist of Wolfgang Buckley on vocals with Arron Mawson and Tim Garrard on guitars, Raf Heale on Bass and finally Lochie Cavigan on drums.  

“State of Mind” from Stiff Richards is available right now from the aptly titled Legless Records. UK label Drunken Sailor Records will also have copies available in December/January.

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Author: Armitage Smith
 

 

In the mid to late 90’s it seemed that bands in Scandinavia had sold their collective souls at the Cross Roads found at the Three-Country Cairn, where each member was given the complete discography of the Nomads, The Stooges and the MC5 and told to go away and learn them.

Paving the road were the three horsemen of the apocalypse; The Hellacopters, Gluecifer and the Flaming Sideburns. Following on in their wake were the just as important and influential second wave, never quite making it to the Arenas but packing out clubs across their home Countries, Europe and even as far afield as North America. One such band was the “DEMONS”. Strangely enough, the States, notably the Pacific Northwest, embraced the Scandinavian Invasion and for a while, “DEMONS” were the uncrowned Kings of it.

To celebrate the band’s 25th Anniversary a live album called “No Loitering” that was recorded between their second album “Stockholm Slump” and third “Demonology” on the 5th March 2004 at The Crocodile Cafe in Seattle is being released via Vitriola Recordings

The press release says that “It by no means is pretty”, I’m not even sure if this is off the Soundboard or a very well recorded audience recording but it’s what we want, no scrub that, it’s what we need; fast, sweaty and furious without any compromises. The original classic four piece line-up kicking an eleven song set off with “Undertaker’s Lament” from the aforementioned “Stockholm Slump” but before you have time to register that fact the band are already ripping through “Devil In Me” but it’s not all past glories as the band road test the as yet unreleased “Lost Dog” and “What’s This Shit Called Love”, that both sit perfectly well in the set. The gig is the perfect length for us old school TDK 90 merchants coming in at just under 40 minutes.

Back in the day if I did have this on a cassette on the other side would be the Ramones “It’s Alive”. The only gripe I have is no “Electrocute”. Over here in Dear olde Blighty gigs still seem a long way off. This is why “No Loitering” is so important; not only is it a band firing on all cylinders but it is a reminder of how good live gigs are.    

Buy it Here

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Author: Armitage Smith

*This album is a Bandcamp exclusive. It will not be found on Spotify or any of the other streaming services.
A limited-edition digipack cd with a bonus poster will be released by Vitriola Records and will be available at a later date*

   

Cards on the table, full disclosure but The Damned were the second of my three life-changing first was The Beatles and the third was The Hellacopters. Growing up in Croydon during the 70’s and 80’s you couldn’t really avoid bumping into Captain Sensible either down The Dog & Bull or walking through the demilitarised zone in the Whitgift Centre. The same can be said for Johnny Moped, during their Big Band phase I was one of their Roadies, with original Moped drummer, Dave Berk, coming to my Wedding. So yes, you can call me a fan. At this point, you are probably thinking “If you’re such a fan how you can be impartial when it comes to reviewing them?” Fair point, but hard-core fans can be the most critical of a band that they love and over the years spent a small fortune on. Between the end of The Damned’s “Not of this Earth/I’m Alright Jack and the Beanstalk” and the “Grave Disorder” line-up, admitting to still being a fan was fraught with derision and plausible deniability and with the best intentions at heart; technology nixed The Mopeds “The Search for Xerxes” album.

But there I was travelling down from East Croydon, both The Damned’s and Moped’s former unofficial spiritual home, to Brighton their new one, for the first date of the “Evil Spirits” Pre Christmas Tour.

The Brighton Dome is like a scaled down Royal Albert Hall, also scaled down were the prices at the Bar, which pleased my wallet. Now for those of you Tom Cats that don’t know anything about Johnny Moped he would be the first to tell you he is 80% disabled. There is a Spectrum dedicated solely to Johnny, Chrissie Hynde was sacked from the band, twice, Dee Dee Ramone loved them and Michael Stripe cited them as influential, I kid you not.  At the appointed time of 8’o clock Johnny Moped, the band, wondered on stage with guitarist Rock ‘n’ Roll Robot asking where their esteemed leader was, before Johnny Moped, the man, appeared from the wings like some papal figure. With a quick “One, two, cut yer hair” the band were off with “Incendiary Device” which led into another “Cycledelic” classic “Panic Button” that features probably the greatest line of all time “Picking off my acne ‘cause I haven’t had a meal”. The band didn’t rest on past glories with a healthy dose of material culled from 2016’s “A Real Cool Baby” album fitting in perfectly. Talking of culling; “Save The Baby Seals” from the “Xerxes” album made a welcome appearance. For “Darling Let’s Have Another Baby” brief keyboard playing member Francesca joined Johnny on vocals to replicate the Kirsty McCall and Billy Bragg version of it. Unlike Francesca, Kirsty had not discovered both the Moped’s and Damned’s alcohol quota for the whole tour and drunk the lot. Over a very short period of time. On an empty stomach. This was not lost on Johnny as he dedicated the next track “Catatonic” to her. Johnny Moped are very much a Marmite/Brussel Sprout band. You either get them and get them big time or you wonder what the heck just happened. With the band finishing with the Roxy Album classic “Hard Lovin’ Man” I think the partisan Damned crowd got them big time.

For a 9 year period, The Damned were happy to rest on their laurels, to gig and tour without a new product to promote, knowing that their fans, like me, were all to easily appeased, happy to hear live material that was mainly recorded during the chaos years of 1976 – 1986. All that changed with the Fan Funded album “Evil Spirits”, which raised enough money to be recorded in NYC with Tony Visconti on production duties. Cited as being what “Phantasmagoria” would’ve sounded like had Captain not left and with “Black Album”/”Strawberries” era bassist Paul Gray returning it was a win, win situation. An album fans bought and an album fans wanted to hear played live. However, it was “Born to Kill” from the band’s debut album that kicked things off with the somewhat apt “Democracy?”, from the band’s 2001 album “Grave Disorder” following on. “Standing on the Edge of Tomorrow” was the first of 4 songs taken from “Evil Spirits”, but nothing from “Music for Pleasure”, not even “Stretcher Case”, nothing from “Phantasmagoria”, “Anything”, “I’m Alright Jack” (as if, but please) or even “So, Who’s Paranoid?”. Early fans might’ve bulked at “Grimily Fiendish” and “Eloise” but these tracks introduced a whole swath of new fans to the Damned and their back catalogue, in the same manner as “Love Song” enticed fans of the NWOBHM back in 1979, so their omission was puzzling. (“Alone Again Or” from “Anything” was added to later dates).  Much has been made over recent years over the maturity of David Vanian’s vocals, but the surprise for me were Captain’s vocals on “Silly Kids Games”; like Vanian’s they have become much more measured, warming and fuller sounding. I only wish that the demo lyrics of “Balls to Monkhouse, fuck off Forsyth, piss off  Parsons” would be reinstated and I’m sure, talking of original lyrics, during “Smash it Up” Dave sang “I don’t wanna end up like Rudolf Hess” but I could be wrong. Original Damned guitarist Brian James lives in Brighton, with Captain, just before playing the James penned tune “One of the Two” asking if he was in the audience and if he was “to get up on stage where he belongs” Sadly he wasn’t. The Damned 2018 come across much more professional, I, thankfully, can’t remember the last-time I saw Captain strip off, even if for “There Ain’t No Sanity Clause” the whole band sported Father Christmas hats procured from the local Pound shop. Travelling back to East Croydon Train Station the next day I spotted around the Haywards Heath area some fantastically wealthy looking houses that backed onto a lake with their own wood. Slap bang in the middle of this private arboretum, with no noticeable access, was a 1970’s caravan that looked like it was missing its Robin Reliant. The caravan, with its burst corners, looked like some invisible giant foot had exerted just enough pressure to “pop” it rendering it this way. For some strange reason, this totally summed up The Damned and Johnny Moped the previous day.

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Pictures by kind permission from Jamie Macmillan Photos

Author : Armitage Smith