With what seems like a couple of hour’s kip we’re up and at ‘em in the RPM Camp. Breakfast looked like it was on the critical list and had been out in the rain all night but we eat it all the same.  We have the dilemma over breakfast of who we won’t be able to catch due to the number of quality bands on today’s bill.

We wanted to catch so many bands today it looked nuts however we looked at it. It came down to the flip of a coin on what will forever be known as Fandabi-Friday (Don’t ask but our sides almost split).  If you need an explanation I’m sorry but it’s locked in a chest and buried at the bottom of the ocean off the North Pier.

TFG and Riskee & The Ridicule were on early so we had to take a pass on as it was our annual Ratboy Magic show but we got sidetracked on the way so missed the lot before we paid an early doors visit to the Empress to catch a bit of brass courtesy of The Popes Of Chillitown  (that our esteemed fellow writer Nev recommended) they kicked up a fair old racket with their ska /punk hybrid and nailed it.

Everywhere we looked there was someone we wanted to watch – Miss Fragile in the Almost Acoustic – The Snivelling Shits in the Opera House but it was Knock Off  who got the nod as they knock out their street punk which they claim is fuelled by the state of the country and play like it with added anger and disillusionment and on this evidence its hard not to disagree even with their technical difficulties the band deal with it and get on with business and turn in a solid performance. We hang around to catch Dragster in Club Casbah who have a great new(ish) ‘Anti Everything’ album under their belts.  Fi and the boys were cutting a fine jib upon their return to the festival and they sounded ferocious. They attacked songs like ‘Anti Everything’ and ‘Vultures Circle’ and the epic ‘Death By 1000 Cuts’. It’s always good to hear ‘Dead Punks’ the band play like their lives depended on it and it would seem that the punters were out early enjoying the audio assault. With Fi spending a lot of the set on the barrier getting amongst it and the band dog deep by dragging up ‘Eat The Dirt’ from their debut back in 2006. A tonne of energy and a raft of tunes that are getting better and better.

We quickly realised we haven’t yet been to the Opera house and it’s already Friday evening.  but it has to wait a little as were back in the Casbah to catch some of Disciplines set (whilst over in Empress TV Smith was playing ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ so we’re reliably informed).  Discipline did a split some years ago with Argy Bargy so to have a one-two jab from the Dutch boot boy rockers followed by Argy Bargy’s return in Casbah at Teatime for the RPM bootboys was a real treat. Discipline were good To be fair and their love of all things PSV came across loud and clear.

  It was a most welcome sight as Watford John rustled up a tea time treat with some choice cuts from the most excellent album ‘Hopes Dreams Lies & Schemes’ as ‘Looking For Glory’  sounded fresh as the first time they played it. We were also treated with songs off ‘Drink Drugs & Football Thugs’ call it Oi! Or Thug Rock but I’ll just call it quality Rock and Roll and a most welcome return it’s been today in the Casbah.

To have a break we wander through the labyrinth of backstage corridors to navigate our way quickly around the venue and find ourselves in the surreal surroundings of the Arena.  Nothing different with the venue it’s just Brazils action figured self-proclaimed Billy Idol Of the Amazon Supla S&V along with his trusty accomplice for the evening is Victoria Wells as the due knock out what can only be described as house meets dance meets punk sampled mash up whilst wearing a nice blazer and skin-tight shorts.  I kid you not – Supla is out there on his own when it comes to entertainment and vision but the good people of The Winter Gardens didn’t get the memo and the dynamic duo of dance were left playing to a few clued up disciples.  As for what the songs were? Fuck knows. Your guess is as good as mine. Anyway, we too had to cut and run as Spunk Volcano and The Eruptions were about to take the stage back in our haven that was Casbah.  The temperature must be about 120 degrees plus (it certainly seems like it) and the most sensible person in the room seems to be the guy in the pants…oh hang on he’s wearing a woolen balaclava with just one eye!

There’s no fucking about here and the bodies start being flung around in an impressive pit as the band doesn’t have time to fuck about and it’s straight into ‘Death Or Glory’ from the impressive ‘Double Bastard’. sure the classic SV tracks are present and accounted for like ‘Hanging Round The Shops’, ‘Shit Generation’, ‘Ram Raid’, ‘Xr3’ and ‘Sellotape’ and ‘CrossFire’ as the Rebellion audience sing along in all the right places  and by the end of the set the Casbah is full to bursting and for the next few hours at least I can’t get ‘Knobhead’ out of my noggin’ I even think he dedicated to us as well, how rude but bloody entertaining.

Right it’s just gone 8 pm and we’ve not stopped for any food yet so whilst my colleague is on the blower to his union to see if it’s lawful to have this much fun and no breaks I’m off to the chippy before Duncan Reid goes Acoustic.  Right, That was a quick hour and without delay, we’re back in Almost Acoustic to catch the full set from Duncan Reid & The Big Heads and after a few of those dreaded technical difficulties were off and running and Mr. Power Pop is showing exactly how to write great pop tunes that can be played both electric and acoustic as the pub like venue joins in the sing-a-long and we all have a jolly good time. ‘Kellys Gone Insane’ from the debut solo record sounds fantastic as does ‘The One’ also from the re-released debut record. ‘Cèst La Vie’ is aired from that difficult second album along with ‘Long Long Gone’. Duncan shares some very nice words for his former bandmates in The Boys before cracking open a take on ‘Brickfield Nights’ where Nick Hughes did a very commendable job on Matts vocals.  It only leaves ‘First Time’ and a standing ovation seems about right – Always smiling – always looking like they’re having the best of times -its infectious. 

We head out the door for a wander knowing we can catch the end of the UK Subs set over in the Empress after a cheeky dark fruit we head upstairs to see the subs do what the do best and thats kicks out the jams in what felt like watching a band inside an oven on 180.  The band show no sign of relenting as they justify their prime spot on the bill once again.

We head outside to wring off the t-shirt again before catching some of the Stranglers set luckily for us we caught a portion of the set where they played a few classic Stranglers ‘Peaches’, ‘Nice N Sleazy’ and ‘Duchess’ we go for a walk around the balcony and by the time ‘Something Better Change’ erupts I’m done.  the heat has got the better of me and I bow out.  After what has once again been a full-on Fandabidozy Friday in The Winter Gardens wandering from room to room catching band after band all offering something different but mostly offering exceptional quality. Now if I could be in two places at once then now would have been a good time to give that ago.  Luckily for us, Mr. Darrel Sutton was on hand at the same festival but watching totally different bands to us so without further waffle over to Mr. Sutton…

 

Friday sees an extended pub lunchtime forcibly ended by a raging (ouch) set from Ohio’s Raging Nathans.  I’ve wanted to catch these lot for ages, having actually booked them for a date on an aborted tour a few years ago, and they do not disappoint. Between song banter is kept to a minimum and Josh Goldman and crew literally rip the arena a new one with a fast and frantic set that Zeke would have struggled to match.

A few hours in the RPM inner circle sees me catch Discipline, Argy Bargy and Spunk Volcano in an exhausting triple-header before an enforced break sees me return to catch Leftover Crack in the same venue.  A band that have never grabbed my attention for any prolonged period on record, their live show is positively intense.  The subtleties of their ska-infused records are pretty much abandoned in a total rager of a set.  A quick venture into the Stranglers set in the Empress is curtailed by the unbearable heat of the utterly packed room and a very wise decision to grab a pew for what is billed as Alex Wonk’s acoustic set.  However, it soon becomes apparent this isn’t going to be a solo set as the full Wonk Unit line-up (Ok so Kenny only gets up for one song as Alex is back on six-strings) are crammed onto the stage.  And that’s also where the normal acoustic rules also go out of the window with chairs being discarded, a pit being formed for most songs and even two human pyramids and numerous crowd surfers popping up along the way.  The likes of ‘My Nagging Wife’, ‘Awful Jeans’ and ‘Lewisham’ lose none of their charm through being unplugged and alternate versions of songs like ‘Go Easy’ in an acoustic form further add to the charm.  A total master stroke to round the day off.

Popes of Chillitown, Argy Bargy, Discipline, UK Subs pictures courtesy of Dod Morrison Photography.

All other pics courtesy of Johhny And Dom.

Author: Dom Daley & Darrel Sutton

Remastered/Re-issued/Expanded…

The first wave rightly gets the recognition but hot on the heels by a matter of days, or weeks bands like Generation X and Buzzcocks took things to new levels.  So the Clash had the slogans and Politics, The Pistols the nihilism and snot and The Damned were the first for everything it was bands like Buzzcocks who brought the poetry and teen love and With Idol and James Generation X brought the Legacy and homage to who passed before them from the silver screen and music clubs they openly embraced Elvis, The Beatles and The Who to name a few. It was their thrift store chic and boyish good looks and that swagger that they put to maximum use with Idol and his lip curl these magpies soaked it all up like a sponge punk, pop, rock and a dash of glamour.

This Deluxe Edition house in a solid slipcase is expanded to three LP’s.  LP one is the debut album complete with lyric inner bag and the first thing that grabbed me was how fresh the songs sound. I still love ‘One Hundred Punks’ and the energy from the frantic drumming and the edge on Derwood-Andrews guitar playing. so Idols lyrics were a bit shit at times such as ‘Kleenex’ but it certainly doesn’t detract from his sneer as he spills the lyrics left right and center. But don’t forget these were just a bunch of snotty kids to be fair why shouldn’t their lyrics be a bit juvenile because at the end of the day that’s exactly what they were.

Musically they weren’t some kids picking up their instruments for the first time and a bit wet behind the ears as songs like ‘Listen’ might have been a bit sloppy but they used echo and time changes really well and it all weaved an awesome tapestry. ‘Kiss Me Deadly’ being the platform that Idol broke away and used throughout his career wasn’t the sound of a bunch of kids making a racket with volume and adrenalin it was and still is an exceptional song.

Be honest who doesn’t like shouting the refrain of ‘Youth Youth Youth’? A great way to end a great record fuck the detractors and the purists Generation X made a few exceptional albums and this was the first.  Don’t even get me started on ‘Valley Of The Dolls’ which I trust will also get the same treatment as this?

The second LP features the singles and their B Sides now who doesn’t really think those couple of singles weren’t fantastic?  ‘Ready Steady Go’, ‘Wild Youth’ and the slew of B Sides are a welcome addition to this collection housed as part of a double album.  The Remaster has taken away all my clicks and pops and has me thinking how good would that album have been had these two been included on that as well? “Wild Wild Wild Youth!” Hearing the Dub version was probably the first time this young kid had ever heard any Dub – trailblazers for sure. Not sure how or why the B Side of ‘Fridays Angels’ is included here but I’m not complaining  ‘Trying For Kicks’ is decent.as is ‘This Heat’ it has cowbell for Gawds sake!

Probably the main reason a lot will have picked up this set is the third LP (it certainly swayed it for me) with twelve previously unreleased tracks which include a couple of Phil Wainman recordings such as ‘Ready Steady Go’ and ‘No No No’ and the Us versions cover of Lennon’s ‘Gimme Some Truth’.  the kind of material I’d expect to have on a set like this. The big revelation is still to come with the Alan Winstanley mixes.  Alan Engineered the first album and also mixed these versions and to be honest Maybe its time playing tricks with me but boy these songs really do come to life on these versions.

 

There are seven songs in total and they take on a fresh and even more raw sound which is excellent. If I was to have a complaint about this set its the lack of little extras that aren’t essential but do tend to make this anniversary box sets a bit special.  I wasn’t looking for silver rings or signed art reproductions (although that would have been nice) for £500 but maybe a 12″ book with essay from people who were there and pictures maybe a DVD with live footage who knows it must all exist maybe have gotten the band to do a short piece each because all that’s contained here is one side of the innerbag has an essay from Adrian Thrills which is nice to read but sort of a little lite. That something of a minor gripe because for less than 40 sheets this is a must-own for punk rockers and anyone who ever had a soft spot for these four scamps and their Rock and Roll sound because it really was a boss sound and I loved it then and still love it now.  If anyone from the James, Idol, Chrysalis camp happen to read this I look forward to the ‘Valley Of The Dolls’ set it needs to happen for continuity and because I’d love it. Never mind a hundred punks I know four who ruled. Tony, Billy, Mark and Bob.

Buy Generation X Here

Running With The Boss Sound –  Today is January 26th and for me, one of my favourite and most cherished albums was released into the world way back in 1979.  I still play it regularly as it had a big influence on an impressionable young lad.  From the attractive lady on the cover to the pills never mind four gangly lads with leather trousers and scruffy died hair. It was everything I wanted it to be and I can still remember twisting my mothers arm to let me go home from Woolworths with my very own copy tucked under my arm and when I got home it might as well have been welded to the house stereo because it only left the turntable to get turned over for what must have been weeks or months even.

‘Valley Of The Dolls by Generation X might not be as revered as ‘Never Mind the Bollocks’ or ‘The Clash’ it doesn’t get talked about as much as The first Joy Division album or the first few classic Buzzcocks records but to me it might only be outclassed from the 70’s releases by ‘Damned Damned Damned’, ‘LAMF’ and ‘Machine Gun Etiquette’.  It was the Dogs danglies as far as I’m concerned and still is and much like the previously mentioned favourites it still gets played quite frequently by myself. 

‘January that year was the first glimpse of these four pirates as ‘King Rocker’ is released as a single and one of those seminal moments in time as Idol sneered his way through their performance on TOTP.  Reaching a very respectable number 11 in the UK charts at the time was quite an achievement although their label wasn’t so happy.  It came out with a picture of each band member on specific colour pressings something that bands have copied since to increase sales – me I only ever got the tony James cover but it was on red vinyl (still got it)

The album came out on this very day forty years ago and took a right panning in the written press , with reviewers slateing it as “overblown and artistically hollow” and only managing to reach number 51 in the UK album charts the next single being the albums title track only managing number 23 in the singles charts things weren’t looking good for the band amidst trouble at their live shows the summer saw the third and final single being released off the record and ‘Fridays Angels only managing number 62 which must have been a killer for the band and their management not even hitting the top 40. the band began to fragment with Andrews leaving before the year was out and Laff following suit soon after via a harsh sacking from James and Idol due to the classic musical differences.

I was also gutted to find out many years later about the internal squabbling involved in the making of this album and when the band got Ian Hunter in to produce he wasn’t impressed with LAff and his drumming and got Clive Bunker from Jethro Tull in to play the drums as hunter didn’t feel Laff was up to the job in the studio.  Now had I been in the band and as much as I love Ian Hunter I think I’d have told him to fark off over there and then fark off a little bit further as being in a band was all about a gang you know four lads who shook the world riding in to the valley of the dolls and all that comrade but it seems not every band is like that and Bunker was indeed drafted in.

There was an interview with Andrews in 2013 where he stated “The style changed in as much as we had a famous ‘rock-star’ producer in Ian Hunter, a bigger budget, more time and a wider gap between the two older guys and me and Laff. It was actually heartbreaking for Mark Laff to be told by Ian, Billy and Tony that he was not going to play on this album and for him to choose a replacement drummer. He chose Clive Bunker from Jethro Tull and whilst teaching him the parts with two kits set up it was decided it sounded great with two drummers. If I took too long tuning up for an overdub I could see Tony James through the studio glass calling Chris Spedding! It wasn’t the same camaraderie as the first album”

that’s a real shame because in my eyes VOTD has stood the test of time and in 2019 it deserves to be championed as a bit of a classic and for all the rock star buzzkill that was happening at the time they did manage to write and record some fantastic songs.  I think its more in line with the style and sound of Hanoi Rocks than they get credit for and maybe this record was a little bit ahead of the game and would have gone down much better had it been released maybe five years later who knows?

 

Buy Valley Of The Dolls Here

Day 9 – Desert….more desert and Viva Las Vegas baby!

The drive across the Nevada desert to Las Vegas is about 4 hours and we have booked tickets to see Billy Idol at The House Of Blues tonight. So we hit the highway as soon as breakfast is done.

The thought of driving a left-hand drive car on the wrong side of the road through the middle of LA did not appeal to me at all and sent my anxiety levels through the roof, luckily Sedd has done it before, so I took the easy option and left him to it. But driving across the desert is one of the things I have been looking forward to the most, so I take my turn for a few hours.

I don’t know what I was worried about, driving US style is easier than I imagined and I wish I had done it sooner.

The scenery is stunning, yeah its miles and miles of desert and straight highways with mountainous terrain either side, but it’s great. If we had the time we would have veered off and explored for sure, but we had a schedule to keep. We stop at Peggy Sue’s Diner in Yermo. A proper 50s diner and it’s just as you would imagine. The place is stuffed full of 50’s memorabilia even down to the period menus and the waitress uniforms.

Statues of Elvis and The Blues Brothers look over as I tuck into a proper American burger and fries with endless coffee top ups. Opposite the diner is a road train that is just full of military tanks. Seems pretty random, just sat there in the middle of nowhere, seemingly waiting for a conflict to break out.

Just up the road is Calico ghost town. We can’t resist, gotta be some good photo opportunities there we reckon.

While it is a genuine old mining town, it’s geared to the tourists and not as cool as we were hoping. But it is interesting and there is some cool photo opportunities to be had.

 

Stop over, we head back on the road to Vegas. You see it in the distance as you approach over the long straight highway, the towering structures far off down in the valley. As you get closer, the lights and then the scale hits you as the buildings tower above you…and we are in it! The craziness that is Las Vegas.

We are staying at The Venetian, it’s the most over the top luxury hotel I have ever stayed in. The scale is just unbelievable, there is a river with gondolas that flows through it, the corridors to our room seems endless, like something out of The Shining, I expect to see twin girls at every turn.

We take to the streets and explore, and the only way I can describe it is like a festival. It’s like one big endless party, you end up with a sore neck as you spend the whole time looking up at stuff. There is so much to see, everyone is either drinking or eating or gambling and everyone is spending money, it’s all about money.

There are no homeless people in Vegas, or if there are they are well hidden. We dodge Mexican ‘flickers’ with their stacks of ‘tittie cards’, the streets are littered with discarded cards, during the night they will all be swept up and probably handed out again the next day. Chinese women collect discarded plastic bottles in massive black bags over their shoulders, they get paid out per bag I believe. Neon signs flash endlessly; horns beep endlessly and money changes hands endlessly. We get chatting to a suited guy outside our hotel, he’s half our age, he gives us his business card and tells us if we need anything to give him a ring. I’m sure he could hook us up with anything we wanted whether that be drugs, guns or women.

 

Did we eat an evening meal? I don’t think we did, all I remember next is getting a taxi to The Mandalay Bay hotel.

The House Of Blues is situated in The Mandalay Bay hotel where just 5 days earlier Stephen Paddock opened fire on concert goers and killed 58 people. As horrifying as that is, life in Vegas goes on as normal it seems. There seems to be no lasting atmosphere, the only constant reminder ‘#VEGASSTRONG’ that is emblazoned everywhere you turn.

Billy Idol is coming to the end of a 2-year residency at the House Of Blues and he has been mixing up the set nightly with his band. Tonight, he pays tribute to those that lost their lives just a few days ago during an emotionally charged set.

A white screen is lowered and a film of vintage interviews and performances plays out as an introduction before the curtains open and the band takes to the stage. Two choice covers bookend a greatest hits set from a finely tuned band.  ‘Viva Las Vegas’ seems the perfect opener and it’s a song that fits the Billy Idol set like a (leather studded) glove and ‘Money Money’ the perfect closer.

Fan favourite ‘Dancing With Myself’ is played early and newer tracks such as ‘Scream’ and ‘Can’t Break Me Down’ sit nicely up against the likes of ‘Blue Highway’ and ‘Eyes Without A Face’.

Billy Idol has aged gracefully, now in his early 60’s he still has the moves and the voice to wow his fans and still has the ability to work a crowd.

Back in the 80’s Steve Stevens was just the guitar player, 30 years later, the sidekick with the explosion of black hair, has his own t-shirts for sale on the merch stand and he very nearly stole the show.

Idol and Stevens have always been a great rock ‘n’ roll partnership. They have that certain chemistry. The frontman watches enthusiastically as the guitarist peels off lick after lick. Stevens has not one but two solo spots in the set, the first a very impressive acoustic solo that is flamenco-based yet aggressive as well. Guitar solos can be yawn-inducing at times, this is not one of those times. Both creative and impressive in equal measures.

‘Worlds Forgotten Boy’ the opening song from ‘Whiplash Smile’ is a highlight, as is the ever cool ‘Rebel Yell’. ‘White Wedding’ is played acoustic with the duo on their own for a verse before the rest of the band join them.

I never dreamed I would see Billy Idol play a gig in America, let alone in Las Vegas, This is a great end to our first night here.

Gig over, we head next door to the House Of Blues restaurant and eat amazing shrimps as a bar band play alternative 90’s covers by the likes of Sugar Ray and Weezer.

 

Author : Ben Hughes

Seven days in Rock and Roll can be a long time or if you like us then it’ll fly by.  With some exclusive interviews and a whole lot of records reviewed we hope we’ve at least shone a little light into a corner of the entertainment world we think houses the best of the best and having the likes of Rich Jones give an interview with some snippets about the new Michael Monroe album revealed ‘One Man Gang’ is now out of the bag and having the likes of Nasty Suicide and Captain Sensible playing on the record 2019 is shaping up nicely or as someone here at HQ said “that’s album of the year sorted for 2019”.

We also brought you Paul Collins interview who is the self declared king of power pop although I did get a call in to HQ saying that wasn’t quite true as Rags now holds that title but I’m not getting involved in that debate but we did announce that Rich Ragany is holding an album launch in London Town in January and the line up is a very impressive set of bands that shouldn’t be missed details can be found on RPM online News section.

There were live reviews from Japanese Garage legends King Brothers as well as acoustic platinum seller Eric Martin and on Friday we brought you a review of The Feelgood Band playing in London which rounded up a pretty diverse bunch from around the globe I’m sure you’ll agree?

For our bread and butter album reviews, we had some old new um very old and one turkey so a festive collection of records were covered by a crack team of scribes.  We previewed Black Friday RSD must own – Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers ‘DTK’ as well as newcomers Estrons that went down extremely well here.  We took a trip to New York for Palmyra Delran and her doppelgangers and whilst we were there Beechwood were heading out the door to Europe for a tour but left us their new long player which is also an impressive second album this year from the three-piece.  The Turkey well we couldn’t sit Idol let Billy off without mentioning his revisited best-of collection that has been given the dance remix treatment which could have worked but cutting edge it isn’t.  90’s dated Ibiza dance off it might have been but disappointing is what it is and we can only bring you the truth here at RPM even though we love William Broad we’re excited for Generation Sex but not his new collection of remixes. There were the likes of the excellent Bitterlicks and Dave Kusworth records reviewed before they hit the shops as well as Thomas Silvers much anticipated solo album.

 

Not wanting to finish on a downer we look forward to the coming week where you have to keep it RPM online because we’re bringing you The Hip Priests and He Who Cannot Be Named live and where else are you getting that and Junkyard bookending Cowboy Junkies?  Nowhere that’s where. Also, we have albums from Honest John Plain, Australians Civic, New York Sick OF It All and Europeans like Youth Avoiders and Fertile Hump.  So remember to keep it RPM online and as Lux would say Stay Sick.

 

 

Leigh Fuge.

We all know Billy Idol, he’s the peroxide hair, curled lip punk rocker who made a successful transition to 80s mega-stardom. Idol brings the attitude and snarl of his punk background and combines it with some pop sensibilities to give us the arsenal of anthems we all know and love. I’ve always had a soft spot for Billy Idol.

Vital Idol was a best of album, putting all his best-known bangers into one place. Here we have the “Revitalized” version of the best of. This time, the tracks are framed in a new way. Remixed by some of the world’s top electronic music producers.

So, what happens when you take the punk rock stomp and 80s pomp of Billy Idol, chop it up and make it more electronic-focused? Well…

White Wedding kicks off proceedings, but initially, I can only think of one word to describe this new take on the track. It rhymes with white but starts with a different letter.

Straight into ‘Dancing with Myself’ we’re welcomed with a pulsing synth line over Idol’s trademark snarl. This feels more Ibiza 1998 than LA 1987 to me.

Eyes Without a Face made me wish I was a head without ears.

Rebel Yell with its new dubstep style leanings is about as revitalized and exciting as an Osmond’s reunion tour.

There are so many great songs on this album, but the new treatment has certainly made them as thunderous as a damp rag. From the strange 90s style ambient house leanings of Flesh for Fantasy to a modern EDM pop style take on Hot In The City, this album is making no great impact.

While I am not a fan of electronic music in general, I can appreciate a good remix when I hear one. It all feels a bit dated and contrived and even with some big hitters like Moby and Paul Oakenfold in the frame, it still does not revitalize this track listing.

Revitalized? I think not. This is more a case of the vital signs fading. Come on Billy, let’s get those guitars turned back up to 10 and get the place rocking again.

Buy Here