About two weeks after The Damned played a sell-out gig at the 2,286 capacity London Palladium the man who gave birth to The Damned and arguably British Punk is playing 3 ½ miles South West in the considerably smaller basement of the Troubadour Club in Earl’s Court. That man, of course, is Brian JamesBrian isn’t renowned for reeling off gig after gig in the same year. Normally, it’s just the one up at the 100 Club in July to mark the anniversary of The Damned’s first appearance there, but as John Wombat has just published his authorised biography of Brian, the subject matter is making an exception, with both before the gig signing the book and Brian putting his name to a veritable smorgasbord of memorabilia. Is it fair that Brian is consigned to such small club whereas The Damned can play the likes of The Royal Albert Hall, Madison Square Gardens and The Palladium? The simple answer is no, but having been at the Palladium gig I have to say in all honesty Brian’s gig was what I want a Punk gig to be all about; people standing on tables, hands pressed against the low ceiling to keep balance and to get a half-decent view, with the line between band and audience blurred because everybody is on top of everybody else. 

 

From where I was, if I’d had the devil in me, I could’ve put my hand out and detuned Brian’s Telecaster. Seeing Brian’s fingers almost drunkenly stagger across his fretboard with the strings vibrating unnaturally but still producing the most wonderful sound ever I caught myself muttering, as my jaw swung open, “Far. King. Ell”. Towards the end of the set when the opening chords of “I Feel Alright” rang out I had to look to see if the Ghost of Ron Asheton hadn’t descended onto the stage. The gig starts off with Brian playing a slow stripped-down drawn-out version of “Alone” that he tells us afterwards originally was written when he was in Bastard, his pre-Damned outfit. It’s not the first time Brian has reworked Damned songs in this manner as “Neat, Neat, Neat” got that treatment when played live in Tanz Der Youth. After “Walking About Naked” from his “Guitar That Dripped Blood” album and a blistering version of “Born To Kill” Alan Clayton, frontman with The Dirty Strangers, took to the stage to relieve Brian of vocal duties launching into Bo Diddley’s “Mamma Keep Your Big Mouth Shut”.

 

In the frontman stakes, Brain struck gold twice with Vanian and then Bator. Doing it for the third time I think is highly unlikely unless either Adam Becvare or Jake Hout wish to leave North America but Al, who pretty much is on home turf, knows how to work the crowd, welcoming everybody and then telling them to “Fuck off” with a huge grin on his face. His R’n’B vibe, when R’n’B actually stood for something good, is perfect for Brian’s live cross-section of a back catalogue that covers nearly all aspects of it; Damned, Solo, Lords of The New Church (Dave Tregunna was in attendance) and even The Stones get a look in, sadly no Mad For The Racket. Oh, to hear ‘Chewed Down To The Bone’ live and with his onetime London SS bandmates of Tony James and Brady in the crowd I wondered if they would join him for their version of “Fish”. Again this was not to be. However, author John Wombat donned a guitar for the set and show-closing song, “New Rose”. It was a perfect end to a perfect night. 

Brian is in the throes of writing his autobiography that he hopes will be out in 2021. In conjunction with the publication, Brain told me he hopes to have his own anthology released that will collate his non-Damned and Lords works together, with some surprising additions. For me, neither can come soon enough.    

Author: Armitage Smith

 

The official book launch of ‘Bastard, The Damned, The Lords Of The New Church & More: The Authorised Biography Of Brian James’ will be taking place on the 8th of November 2019 at The Troubadour in London.

Complete with support from Kult 45, there will be a very special performance from Brian James and his Gang, and the opportunity to meet and greet with Brian and John Wombat, in addition to being able to purchase signed copies of the book.

Ticket details for the event will be announced shortly. For all fans and followers of Brian James, this will be an event not to be missed.

 

 

This book includes exclusive interviews and content from dozens of contributors and many rare, previously unpublished, photographs.

 

Further to this, for those that cannot make the event, pre-orders of signed copies (signed by Brian and John) can be placed now, simply drop John Wombat a message on Facebook. The price is £25.00 + P & P, for the UK which is £2.95. Payments are being taken via PayPal to fmcmoreira@hotmail.com

 

One of the albums of the year gets a re-press on Blood Red vinyl for those who missed out on the initial press.  RPM  reviewed it Here and we urge you not to sit on your hands a second time as this will sell out as the first run did.  Go Go Go!
Alvin says, “For all you vinyl junkies that missed out on obtaining my solo album ‘Your Disobedient Servant’ on 12 inch vinyl earlier this year due the initial 300 being sold out in short order, Time & Matter Records have manufactured a new batch of 300, this time on blood-red vinyl and minus the accompanying CD and download code. This release will, therefore, be sold at the lesser price of £17 (the first pressing was priced at £22) and can be ordered from this Here”

It features twelve songs written by yours truly and an array of very talented guest musicians that reads like this: Brian James – The Damned / Lords Of The New Church; Leigh Heggarty – Ruts DC; Mick Rossi – Slaughter & The Dogs; James Stevenson – Generation X / Chelsea / The Cult / The Alarm; Barry ‘Barrington’ Francis – The Saints; Timo Kaltio – Johnny Thunders band/Hanoi Rocks / Cheap ‘N’ Nasty; Mel Wesson – Keyboard player & Ambient music designer – TV Smith’s Explorers/The Verve ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ / U.K. Subs ‘Diminished Responsibility’ LP / Films Mission Impossible 2, Batman Begins, Hannibal etc; Steve Crittall – The Godfathers; Jamie Oliver – U.K. Subs.

“I would advise interested parties to get their orders in sharp to avoid what occurred last time, which was a lot of people missing out due to the speed that the original batch sold at. In fact it was due to so many people voicing their disappointment at not being able to get a vinyl copy in time that persuaded T & M Records to go with this colour-altered second run. For those of you that are not so disposed to a bit of vinyl, there is also a CD version of the album available from the same link. Ta! A x”

Birmingham proto-punks BLACK BOMBERS have announced a new mini-album and a handful of dates to go with it.

The six-track 10” vinyl Vol 4 is due for release on Easy Action Records on 29th March and follows on from their three previous releases, their self-titled full-length debut and two 7”singles, ‘Crazy’ and ‘Rush’.

Black Bombers comprise guitarist and singer Alan Byron, bassist Darren ‘Birchy’ Birch and drummer Dave Twist. Between them, they have done time with the likes of The Prefects, Gunfire Dance, Brian James, Walter Lure, The Godfathers and seminal Birmingham garage band, TV Eye, and been compared to The Stooges, Third World War, Pink Fairies and early Motörhead

The trio laid down the tracks in the band’s lock up with engineer Simon Bishop and his Dragon Electric mobile studio. Vol 4 serves up five band originals, plus a striking cover of Paisley Underground band Green On Red’s ‘Hair Of The Dog’ from their classic 1985 album Gas Food Lodging.

“Al and I are fans of Green on Red and thought that ‘Hair of the Dog’ would sound great with a heavier treatment,” says Birch. “We imagined a cross between Crazy Horse and Blue Cheer…”

Vol 4 is preceded by the single/video ‘Relentless’…

“We’d had ‘Relentless for a while and recorded it for the debut album,” explains Twist. “But it didn’t feel right somehow, so we left it off. We got it right this time – cutting out anything that didn’t propel the thing forward.”

The band has a handful of shows lined up in April. Catch them live at…

4 April – Hare & Hounds, Birmingham (w/ The Folk Devils)

7 April – Westgarth Social Club, Middlesbrough (w/ Eight Rounds Rapid)

14 April – Hare & Hounds, Birmingham (w/ Jim Jones & The Righteous Mind)

18 April – Hope & Anchor, London (w/ Last Great Dreamers)

Pre-order Vol 4 from iTunes at Here

Black Bombers are on Facebook

Happy Birthday Brian James the guy who kickstarted punk in London –  Hell he Invented UK Punk for God’s sake even The Captain says as much. Brian was the force behind The Damned who were the first to do this first to do that – The FIRST! remember that.

It didn’t end there for Brian Who when he left The Damned (the band he started) he went on to play for Iggy Pop then put together his own supergroup – The Lords Of The New Church. Before heading out under his own name.

Born in In Hammersmith in 1955.  Brian Robertson as he was christened first came to prominence when he picked up the guitar alongside fellow punk icons Mick Jones (the Clash) and Brady (Hollywood Brats) under the banner SS London, he then formed The Damned and the rest, as they say, is history.  I don’t think Brian or The Damned ever got the props they truly deserved and history has ushered The Pistols and The Clash to the top of the pile yet it was The Damned led by Brian that reached all the firsts and has remained punk to the core until this day where he still writes and occasionally plays.

 

If you don’t know Brians style then you’ve not really heard real punk rock from the first chords of ‘New Rose’ to his unique style on ‘Grand Cru’ or ‘The Guitar That Dripped Blood’ Brian has always done things on his own terms and stayed true to himself.  He has an impeccable CV and a list of albums he’s played on that can go toe to toe with any of his peers no question about it.

Buy Brian James: Here

Brian switched from his Les Paul to the Telecaster and that drag as seen on the Lords footage is what sets the great from the good.

Ten years after Brian James popped into the world Ray and Dave Davies as The Kinks were at No.1 on the UK singles chart with ‘Tired Of Waiting For You’, the group’s second UK No.1. According to Ray Davies, the music for ‘Tired of Waiting for You’ was written on the train to the recording studio and the words were written at a coffee shop during a break in the session. So let that be a lesson pop pickers last minute changes can work.

On a sadder note on this day in 1995 Replacements guitarist, Bob Stinson passed away. Stinson was found in his apartment in Uptown Minneapolis. Bob was only 35. He founded The Replacements with Chris Mars and His Brother Tommy and later roped in Westerberg. He lasted up until the sessions for ‘Pleased To Meet Me’ before leaving due to creative differences Now this stacks up more than for his drug or alcohol use C’mon this was the Replacements.

The band headed down a more commercial route after Bob left but he hadn’t finished with music quite yet as he Went on to form Model Prisoner with Sonny Vincent, Static Taxi who recorded two albums.  In a rather amusing anecdote, Vincent remembered a time when former Dead Boy Cheetah Chrome relocated to Minneapolis to play in shotgun rationale “quite insane for a while… You have to imagine a band consisting of both Bob Stinson and Cheetah Chrome playing and working together.. then add to that I was no angel and you start to get a glimpse of the mercurial energy and intense chaos that we lived in, it didn’t last long but it was like living in a constant lightning storm and the sound was the same, tight and concentrated but always exploding over the edge”. Stinson didn’t die of a drug overdose but the frequent drug use caused his overall health to diminish, resulting in organ failure. So if you get the chance put on one of those early Mats records or Model Prisoner and toast a life most certainly lived. Rest In Peace Bob Stinson.

Buy Bob Stinson Here

As it Brian James Birthday we thought we’d do things a little differently today and pay tribute to the guitar Legend by playing three videos from his immense career starting with his genius riff that was ‘Methods To My Madness’

The Brian James Gang tear New Rose a new one

Finally, we thought we’d delve deeper sadly there isn’t a video we could find so we brought you this hidden gem as we all say, Happy Birthday Brian James!

Forty years into his career as the number one 4-string plank spanker on the UK punk rock scene you can perhaps forgive Alvin Gibbs the “self indulgence” (his words, not mine) of a solo record. I mean he’s worked with some of the biggest names on the scene during that time, plus he’s also penned some absolutely amazing songs along the way too… and the musician’s modesty aside, I for one was straight out the blocks to order my copy when the pre-order for ‘Your Disobedient Servant’ went live on the T&M Records website just after Xmas. So, why all the rush of anticipation I hear you ask?

Well, the best place to start is with the guest list of musicians that Alvin has assembled to help him make this record. It reads like a veritable who’s who drawn from his expansive career and boasts the likes of Brian James, Mick Rossi, Timo Kaltio and James Stevenson amongst the names eager to offer up their services as Disobedient Servants. It was only the name of Iggy Pop that for me was the real glaring omission, but then when I first got to hear ‘Ghost Train’ the lead single from the album, I had to double-take. Could my jug-likes be deceiving me? That is surely Iggy crooning his way through this belting ‘Instinct’ like rocker, but no…it’s actually Alvin Gibbs, and what a great voice he has too. ‘Clumsy Fingers’ the flipside of that mega limited and long since sold out 7” also proved to be a fun time piece of Iggy influenced garage punk, and these two tracks alone were enough to convince me that this was certainly no vanity project and Alvin Gibbs was possibly about to do a Keef and release a solo album fans of his day job band would be clambering to hear too.

With Alvin having also released one of the best books about being in a rock ‘n’ roll band, the awesome ‘Neighbourhood Threat’ (recently re-released as ‘Some Weird Sin’) written about his time spent playing bass for Iggy Pop. It kinda feels eu natural for ‘Your Disobedient Servant’ to kick off with ‘Arterial Pressure’ a (just shy of 2 minutes long) barnstormer of a track written about how Alvin got to know Joey Ramone through Mr Osterberg.

Next up is the aforementioned ‘Ghost Train’ which here perfectly segues into the equally Iggy -like strut of ‘Dumb’, and right here we have as near a perfect opening 1-2-3 to any album I’ve heard in many a long year. Seriously folks if these tracks were on a new Iggy record the mainstream music media would be spunking their chinos over them.

‘Camden Gigolo’ takes things down an anthemic gear or two before ‘Clumsy Fingers’ speeds off in a frenzy of glam tinged punk rock guitar complete with few week’s road dirt under those nails.

Not unlike Glen Matlock’s excellent ‘Good To Go’ album from the tail end of 2018, where ‘Your Disobedient Servant’ really excels is when it throws you a curveball and in side one closer ‘Heaven And The Angels’ Alvin delivers a menacing slice of southern fried psycho-drama that challenges the listener with each new listen twisting and turning itself into your very soul.

Flipping the record over and side two kicks off with perhaps the most UK Subs like track on ‘Your Disobedient Servant’, the riotous ‘Back To Mayhem’ a track that simply fizzes with raw energy, that’s before the more subtle slide driven ‘Polemic’ takes you on a fascinating trip through what influenced Alvin to get into the music business in the first place.

It’s here that for me the LP flips from the overarching influences of Iggy and garage punk to that of one drawn from the likes of Mott and Bowie with ‘No!’ hinting at latter day Hunter and ‘Desperate Dave Is Dead’ doffing its baker boy cap to one of the young dudes passed all to soon. ‘I’m Not Crying Now’ too has more than just a little bit of cracked acting going on within its grooves, whilst album closer ‘Deep As Our Skin’ hints at just how great Cheap And Nasty might have been if Alvin had been given more a role in front of the microphone.

Having been lucky enough to get a good few preview listens of ‘Your Disobedient Servant’ the immediate thing that leapt out at me was just how much this sounds like a band, not a solo record. So kudos indeed to the real heartbeat of The Disobedient Servants; guitarist Steve Crittall, drummer Jamie Oliver and of course Alvin himself for making this one hell of a riotous rock ‘n’ roll record….and one I just can’t wait to get my finished vinyl copy of.

As I mentioned in the intro to this review ‘Your Disobedient Servant’ is available to pre-order right now via T&M Records on LP/CD and via Bandcamp for the download (the links are below). If you are after the LP/CD combo you best make sure you snap one up sharpish as when those red and white splatter babies are gone they really will be gone. So, trust me when I say, ‘Your Disobedient Servant’ is one record you really do not want to be without.

 

Buy It Here

Bandcamp

Author:Johnny Hayward

Punk legend BRIAN JAMES has announced a special one-off London show in December, to be recorded for a prospective live album.

James made his name as the founder and principal songwriter in The Damned, going on to find further success with The Lords Of The New Church during the 80s, later teaming up with Wayne Kramer, Duff McKagan and Clem Burke for the Mad For The Racket project.

In the year that The Damned returned with a new album and a newfound appetite for touring, James’ long out-of-print self-titled debut solo album was reissued in deluxe vinyl form by Easy Action Records.

Brian and his band will play a special seasonal show on Friday 7 December at Nell’s Jazz & Blues in West Kensington.

Says Brian, “Well, I figure it’s about time to host an Xmas party and where better to make a whole lotta noise than Nell’s Jazz and Blues Club in West Kensington. It’s looking like the Brian James Gang are going to record the gig on 7 December for a future live album, so be prepared to scream your bleeding heads off.”

Tickets for the gig are on sale from https://nellsjazzandblues.com/gig/brian-james/

Buy Brian James Music Here

Brian James on Facebook