2020 has been a year that we all would rather forget due to the pandemic live shows have been sorely missed so any new music we must grab with two hands so that brings me to the latest EP release by The Damned titled ‘The Rockfield Files’.
The Damned has recorded some of their classic material at Rockfield and the welsh studio was where the band decided to record their last album Evil Spirits.
‘Keep em’ alive’ is the first track on Rockfield files and it doesn’t disappoint with a chanting intro the track then bursts into life with guitars and drums crashing in and with Dave Vanian’s glorious vocals over the top the tune is a sure-fire winner.
‘Manipulator’ is next up and is a melodic punk ripper with sneering vocals from Dave and some great slashing chords on the guitar courtesy of the Captain. This track also contains some powerhouse drumming from Pinch who sadly said goodbye to the band and with the Palladium and now this EP as his swansong he is leaving on an extreme high.
The spider & the fly’ is an interesting track as the beginning sounds like something off ‘Phantasmagoria’ but quickly morphs into the psychedelia of “The Black Album” and shows what a diverse band The Damned are.
The last track ‘Black is the Night’ is a song most Damned fans will know as it was the bonus track on the anthology of the same name released last year albeit this is an extended version and a welcome edition here for any fan who has not picked it up.
Overall this EP is top quality with some more great songs from such a great band.
Do yourself a favour and go and buy it and cheer yourself up cause after the last couple of months we all need some happiness in our lives and what better way to do that than with music.
A lot has happened in the rock ‘n’ roll world in the four years since ‘Blackout States’, the last album from Michael Monroe, hit the shelves. Slash and Duff rejoined Guns n’ Roses and are currently touring the world, The Wildhearts reformed and released their first (and arguably most important) album in ten years. Hell, even former Hanoi Rocks guitar-slinging legend Andy McCoy has beaten his former bandmate to releasing an album in 2019!
But while the wait for ‘One Man Gang’ has been a long one, the delay has been for good reason. Deals were struck and dotted lines signed to secure a record deal, management and build a promotion team to help get this album out where it needs to be heard. A band has to do what a band has to do in these trying times.
I refer to this band as The Monroes, as it has become way more than Michael Monroe the solo artist. Since the addition of former Black Halos man Rich Jones five years ago, this is the most stable line-up Michael Monroe has ever had. With Steve Conte, Karl Rockfist and of course former Hanoi Rocks bandmate Sami Yaffa backing the livewire frontman for 9 years, they have become a world-class live unit to be reckoned with. They have a certain chemistry, whether in the studio or on the stage, that cannot be faked. A gang mentality if you like, and this band possesses it in spades.
Recorded in Finland over a 3 week period in March last year, ‘One Man Gang’ was self-produced by Michael, Steve, and Rich, with the assistance of long-time engineer Petri Majuri, and all of the band members contribute to the writing process. As with the previous 3 albums, it has a punchy sound and a crystal clear production that captures and accentuates their killer live delivery.
Preaching his PMA (positive mental attitude), Monroe leads his cohorts through an incendiary, punk fuelled opener. The title track blasts from the speakers with a statement of intent. A tongue twister of a verse delivered with the fury and enthusiasm of a snotty, punk-ass kid. “I was front of the line when they gave out atti-chood!” he drawls in that unmistakable tone. You gotta love him, and the fact that The Damned legend Captain Sensible guests here with some cool guitar, well you just gotta love this song.
Recent single ‘Last Train To Tokyo’ is Monroe’s love letter to a city that he has had a special relationship with since the Hanoi Rocks days. Musically, its familiar territory as Steve Conte’s cool lead guitar refrain stabs over Rich Jones’ ’78 styled, punky riffage. An overly catchy chorus follows a well trodden, glitter-pathed road, recalling old haunts and memories. It’s a good place to be.
‘One Man Gang’ is an album choc-a-bloc with punchy rockers, loaded with Yaffa’s pumping bass and the low slung guitars of the formidable duo Conte and Jones. The likes of ‘Junk Planet’ and ‘The Pitfalls Of Being An Outsider’ are sure to be future live favourites.
Former Hanoi Rocks guitarist Nasty Suicide lends his six string prowess to the sonically seductive ‘Wasted Years’. It’s a song that has ‘single’ stamped all over it. There are hints of their former band as Monroe’s bursts of harmonica introduce the verses before another overly catchy chorus takes hold. Elsewhere, ‘Hollywood Paranoia’ walks the boulevard of broken dreams for sure. With its prominent mariachi horn section and Hanoi-style ‘nearly out of tune’ backing vocals and a chorus that could’ve been pilfered straight from the ‘Not Fakin’ It sessions, ‘Heaven Is A Free State’ a surprise highlight that sees the band explore unchartered territory with great success.
They take things down momentarily. The balladic ‘Midsummer Nights’ is this album’s ‘Stained Glass Heart’, it’s pretty generic truth be told, and probably the only track that doesn’t really do it for me at this early stage. But the retrospective and contemplative ‘In The Tall Grass’ is much more interesting. The band creates atmosphere with great use of space, as our illustrious singer croons over a silky bass line. The guitars accentuating the vibe nicely in the background before breaking out into a guitar driven chorus, played out over urgent Rockfist beats. Another of many highlights.
If you are hoping for something groundbreaking from ‘One Man Gang’ you will be disappointed, but if you desire a high octane, rock ‘n’ roll rollercoaster of a ride, then sit back and buckle down. The Monroes deliver just what the doctor ordered. As the man himself says in the PR bumph “I do what I do and I’ll never change”.
Rock ‘n’ Roll legends are a dying breed. Michael Monroe is a living, breathing example to all aspiring musicians, and at 57 years old shows no sign of slowing down just yet. ‘One Man Gang’ is surely a testament to how having a full dose of PMA can do wonders for a rock ‘n’ roll soul.
Today sees the release of the new Michael Monroe single “One Man Gang” from the brand new album out Oct 18th.
The track also features the punk rock legend, Captain Sensible ( The Damned ) as a special guest playing the lead guitar on this one. If you’re into authentic, high-energy Rock’n’Roll you’re gonna dig this one!
Written by Rich Jones. The track features Michael Monroe – lead vocal, Rich Jones & Steve Conte – guitars & vocals, Sami Yaffa -bass, Karl Rockfist – drums, The Captain – guitar solo. ‘One Man Gang’ was also produced by the band.
If you thought fans of Guns ‘n’ Roses had a hard time waiting for a follow up to the “Lose Your Illusions” albums, 17 years, spare a thought for disciples of Croydon’s (2nd) finest band Johnny Moped; 13 years between their 1978 debut “Cycledelic” and it’s follow up “The Search For Xerxes” and then a further 25 years until the band’s next album,“It’s A Real Cool Baby”, hit the real and virtual Record Shops in 2016. Splitting the difference Johnny Moped weren’t expected to be releasing anything new until at least 2038. That was until the band unleashed a new single in the shape and form of “Catatonic” in 2017. Part of the band’s renewed activity was the passing of Johnny’s legendary wife Brenda, who back in the day ruled his Social and Band Calendar with a Rolling Pin of iron and then in later years, due to her failing health, Johnny became her full-time, main carer, pretty much sidelining his quest to regain his poster boy crown for the disenfranchised “80% disabled” (his words not mine) Rock Star. Until now!
Earlier this the band decamped to Panther Studio in Reigate to hone their craft that would see Marty Love, formally of Case and currently of the Weird Things and The Sensible Gray Cells, making his full-length studio debut, taking over drum duties from the down stepping Dave Berk, joining Slimy Toad, Rock ‘n’ Roll Robot and JackoPistorious and of course the man himself Johnny Moped.The result of which is the 14 track “Lurrigate Your Mind” album. Unlike it’s predecessor all the songs on offer are new, none are from “back in the day” demos that have re-recorded, apart from the b-sides to “Catatonic” and “Livin’ In A Dream World” which were “Hard Lovin’ Man” and “Save The Baby Seals” respectively. Although the final track, that features the guitaring skills of original member Captain Sensible,lists all the pre-Moped band names “Black Witch Climax Blues Band Generic Breakdown” (what no ‘Assault & Buggery’?!) is an obvious nod to the past with its autobiographical lyrics and with the subject matter of “Where’s Shergar?” rather on the old side maybe the seeds to some of the songs had actually been sown earlier in Johnny’s career. With a cry of “Okay Tomcats, let’s do this” on the alternate album version of “Catatonic”at the start of the recordwe know that Johnny means business and business is going to be good. It’s been known from past Bootleg tapes that Johnny’s colleagues will on the sly record him in conversation and then put his missive to music. This is what seems to have happened with “The Little Shop”. Johnny is either reading a shopping or a price list from his local convenience store. “Beers, two for five quid” all accompanied by a piano. The ultimate music for a ride in a lift that’s never going to stop at your floor. As well as Captain Sensible, former member Xerxes makes an appearance adding Saxonette on “I Feel Like I’m Falling Away” and on “Oh Baby” it suspiciously sounds like Johnny has phoned in his vocals, which is fortunate as he sings about wanting to swim naked with some unsuspecting Boiler in a Swimming Pool. Hardcore Moped fans will lap this up, casual Punk Rock fans might need to see Fred Burns’ “Basically…Johnny Moped” documentary before fully appreciating why grown men will get all teary-eyed over the Moped mega-dross sound.
“Lurrigate Your Mind” is available on either Blue or Red vinyl, a limited mega bundle that includes split coloured vinyl, a scarf, a slipmat, and a Badge.