With high profile tours and two well-received albums under their studded leather belts, Scottish rockers The Almighty found themselves at the pinnacle of the UK rock scene in the early ’90s. Not a week would go by without singer Ricky Warwick’s face peering moodily from the pages of Kerrang! or Metal Hammer. Leather jackets would be emblazoned with their skull & death wings logo at gigs, and hell, they even opened proceedings at Donington Monsters Of Rock ‘92. Their brand of dirty, biker rock n’ roll crossed rock genres and their shows would attract as many Poison t-shirts as it would Motorhead and Metallica.

But times they were a changin’ by the early ’90s, and the sound coming from Seattle was making waves across the world. An extensive tour with the up-and-coming Alice In Chains would inspire the band and take them in a heavier direction. Replacing original guitarist Tantrum with former Alice Cooper guitarist Pete Friesen would also mark a big change to the band’s sound and direction for album number 3.

 

With the onset of Grunge and having now found a new writing partner in Pete Friesen, Ricky Warwick and the boys relocated to a remote farm in Wales to write. Pete’s use of drop d tuning would inspire new ideas and a heavier sound that would take the band away from their punk roots.

 

‘The Almighty’s 3rd album ‘Powertrippin’ was released in April 1993 to rave reviews and would be their most successful release, reaching number 5 in the UK album charts. The first single ‘Addiction’ is the perfect example of where the band was heading. The one thing I remember from first hearing it is how heavy they sounded and how different the production values were compared to previous albums. Listening back now, to me those first two albums sound dated and ‘of their time’ (as many 80’s rock albums now do due to that drum sound). Whereas ‘Powertrippin’ sounds…. massive! This is due in part to producer Mark Dodson who obviously pushed the band hard in the studio and got the most out of them.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I love those first two albums, they had some great songs on there for sure, but to me, The Almighty had now come of age and morphed into the band I wanted them to be. ‘Powertrippin’ has a heavier, edgier sound that is more in tune with the times, yet still retains killer melodies and catchy anthemic choruses.

 

The following two singles continued the theme. ‘Over The Edge’ with its instantly familiar picked riff and gargantuan, anthemic chorus is pure The Almighty, a full-force, rock machine. Whereas ‘Out Of Season’ is a more subdued, moody affair that nods its head to what was coming out of Seattle, in particular Alice In Chains. ‘Sick and Wired’ could’ve been a single and the emotive ‘Jesus Loves You, But I Don’t’ surely should’ve been one. The title track is full of tribal beats and killer riffs, and that cool, effortless riff in ‘Instinct’ still gets me every time. Elsewhere, ‘Eye To Eye’ is a punchy closer, up there with the best. I can safely say there isn’t a bad track on ‘Powertrippin’ and it still sounds as fresh and vibrant today as it did in 1993.

Now of course, as this is a Cherry Red release, it’s been given the deluxe treatment. A bonus disc choc-a-bloc with rarities and curiosities from the era, makes this a worthwhile purchase for diehards and occasional fans alike. CD2 is a 16-track affair consisting of b sides, live tracks and demos. Most fans will probably have these tracks already, but it’s still great to have them collected in one pretty package.

 

Live tracks and covers versions from the ‘Liveblood’ EP are present and correct, including Neil Young’s ‘Fuckin Up’, The Sex Pistols ‘Bodies’ and their excellent version of ‘In A Rut’. Single b sides ‘Insomnia’ and ‘Blind’ are welcome additions and an acoustic version of ‘Hell To Pay’ sounds fantastic.

 

The demos are interesting as well, in that they show the progression of the songs from writing to finished product. ‘Out Of Season’ sounds like a completely different song in demo form, and is a great example of what a good producer can do for a band.

 

Also worth noting is the inclusion of ‘Soul Destruction’, the title track of the band’s second album, that was never actually recorded, so the inclusion of the previously unavailable demo is a nice throwback.

 

With extensive liner notes from the band and Malcome Dome, this 2-disc edition is a must have for fans of The Almighty and the perfect companion to the forthcoming ‘Welcome To Defiance (1994-2001)’ box set also available on Cherry Red records.

 

For me, ‘Powertrippin’ is the highlight of the band’s career, an album that came at a time when rock music was going through changes. Brit Rock was on the horizon, and with the likes of Terrorvision and The Wildhearts in the charts, the UK rock scene was very healthy and exciting. While The Almighty continued with a run of strong albums, I feel ‘Powertrippin’ remains a testament to how great and how powerful they were at the height of their career.

 

Buy Powertrippin’ Here

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Author: Ben Hughes

 

 

 

 

 

“We were on tour in Germany opening for Iron Maiden when Powertrippin’ crashed into the UK National Chart at #5. The Maiden boys held a party for us that night in their hotel to celebrate. We suddenly felt very validated, looking back I think we were “

Ricky Warwick

Although initially inspired by punk, when Scottish school friends Stump Monroe (drums), Floyd London (bass) and Ricky Warwick (guitar, vocals) joined forces with guitarist Tantrum in 1988, they chose a harder rocking, heavy metal sound. Snapped up by Polydor Records for 1989 debut “Blood, Fire & Love”, their more punk infused aggressive approach was a welcome relief from the glam orientated sounds imported from across the Atlantic. This was followed by “Soul Destruction” in 1991, and then “Powertrippin’” in 1993.

The Almighty demonstrated that British hard rock had plenty to offer at the beginning of the decade, and in 1991 The Almighty were special guests of Megadeth, a tour where Alice In Chains were the opening act. This tour highlighted which way the wind was blowing, away from hairspray bands in favour of something grungier from the Pacific Northwest of America. “Powertrippin’” was also the first album to feature guitarist Pete Friesen, replacing original member, Tantrum.

As well as the singles ‘Addiction’, ‘Over The Edge’ and ‘Out Of Season’, this expanded, deluxe reissue of “Powertrippin’” includes the B-Sides ‘Blind’, ‘Bodies’ (originally by the Sex Pistols), ‘Insomnia’, ‘In A Rut’ (originally by The Ruts) and ‘Fuckin’ Up’ (originally by Neil Young and Crazy Horse). Live versions of ‘Takin’ Hold’, ‘Jesus Loves You…But I Don’t’ and “Powertrippin’” illustrate what a powerful band The Almighty have always been on stage. The bonus disc also includes demo versions of ‘Free ‘N’ Easy’ and the title track from Soul Destruction: which was never officially recorded or appeared on the final album. Plus there’s even time for an acoustic take of Neil Young’s ‘Rockin’ In The Free World’!

This release features a fully illustrated booklet, complete with detailed liner notes from Malcolm Dome based on interviews with the band.

Disc One: Original Album

1. Addiction
2. Possession
3. Over The Edge
4. Jesus Loves You…But I Don’t
5. Sick & Wired
6. Powertrippin’
7. Takin’ Hold
8. Out Of Season
9. Life Blood
10. Instinct
11. Meathook
12. Eye To Eye

Disc Two: Bonus Tracks

1. Takin’ Hold (Live)
2. Jesus Loves You…But I Don’t (Live)
3. Powertrippin’ (Live)
4. Blind (B-Side)
5. Soul Destruction (Demo)
6. Addiction (Radio Edit)
7. Insomnia (B-Side)
8. Wild And Wonderful (Demo Version)
9. Fuckin’ Up (B-Side)
10. Out Of Season (Demo Version)
11. Bodies (B-Side)
12. Free ‘N’ Easy (Demo Version)
13. Rockin’ In The Free World (Acoustic Version)
14. Hell To Pay (Acoustic Version)
15. In A Rut (B-Side)
16. Out Of Season (Radio Edit)

Buzzcocks are a band that needs no introduction but in case you’ve been living under a rock let me enlighten you a bit.  Buzzcocks have been around for over 40 years and have written tunes that have inspired many a generation to pick up guitars as well as advertising execs looking to sell their products.

They were there in the original explosion of the 70s punk scene and the famous Manchester Free Trade Hall Pistols show. Their music has proved to be timeless as well as being too diverse to just put them in one category or genre they were more than just another punk band.

There have been a few lineup changes over the years but the core of the band has always been the two singer-songwriter mavericks that are Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle.

When Cherry Red announced that they were releasing the Buzzcocks “Late for the train” box set which consists of 6 live CDs it had this reviewer salivating as being under 40 I wasn’t even born when this great band started out and sadly as the great Pete Shelley tragically passed away in 2018 and still to my great shame had not got around to seeing them live.

So this 6 cd live set that takes in the reformation years of 1989 – 2016 was something I desperately wanted to hear and I was not disappointed with the sets and quality offered in the set.

CD 1 is taken from a live show in Birmingham 1989 and is a great set with such classics as ‘I Don’t Mind’, ‘Promises’ and ‘What Do I Get?’ and is just a fantastic show full of the energy the band oozes live.

CD2 is a live show from Worcester in ’93 and the gig starts off with Pete saying we have a new album out and the band launch into  ‘TTT’ which is taken from the ‘Trade Test Transmissions’ album and this is a belter of a track. Elsewhere we are treated to high octane versions of other tracks off the new album and it shows that for a band that hadn’t released anything in over 20 years these songs are instant classics and sound great next to old favourites like ‘I Don’t Mind’ (again) and ‘Fast Cars’.

Moving on to CD3 and we see the band head over the channel to perform live in Paris with tapes from 1995 and captures the band in rip-roaring form and has some nice deep cuts such as ‘Libertine Angel’ and ‘Strange Thing’ that sit comfortably with the usual fan favourites such as ‘Orgasm Addict’ and ‘Ever Fallen In Love (with someone you shouldn’t)’.

CD4 is the historic show from Finsbury park in 1996 where history repeated itself as the Buzzers supported the Sex Pistols and also a live BBC session from the same time period.

Oh, how I wish I had a time machine to see what must have been a phenomenal event. The Sex Pistols and Buzzcocks on one bill it’s just a gig that dreams are made of and judging by the live performance on this cd the Buzzcocks are on top energetic form as soon as ‘You Say You Don’t Love Me’ comes blasting out it just sounds so raw and you can really imagine being there.

The BBC session is a nice added bonus and as it’s from 2003 we get great versions of ‘Jerk’ and ‘Driving You Insane’ from the self titled album that was released that year rather than just duplicating the old classics.

CD5 is an outing from London in 2006 and for this reviewer, this my favourite disc from the boxset as with a whopping 28 tracks it really is a stunning gig from start to finish and the tracklist is a fan dream with everything covered from hits to deep cuts with high energy versions of ‘Autonomy’,  ‘Promises’, ‘Operator’s Manual’ and we even have ‘Soul On A Rock’ off ‘Modern’ making an appearance this is an essential live document of a band firing on all cylinders and covering all corners of the bands repertoire.

Finally CD6 is live sessions recorded for the BBC during the period of 1993 – 2016 and has great versions of ‘Do It’ and ‘Libertine Angel’ and as this covers recordings up to 2016 we are treated to live versions of ‘The Way’ and ‘People Are Strange Machines’ taken off what sadly would be the last Buzzcocks release to feature the late great Pete Shelley ‘The Way’.

I can’t really put into words how great this box set is not just the quality of the live recordings but the booklet has great sleeve notes from Steve Diggle and even has a section dedicated to fans recollections of their Buzzcocks concert memories.

Cherry Red have done it again with a stunning box set that is an essential purchase to any Buzzcocks fans collection. All for less than a round of drinks as well.

Buy ‘Late For The Train’ Here

Author: Gareth ‘Hotshot’ Hooper

Nothing more heartening than on a cold dark Saturday night during a lockdown I sit down and begin typing my review of this rather sparse yet majestic J Mascis box set being released by Cherry Red Records.  In fairness over the last few months, it seems a lot of bands are holding back on new material seeing as they aren’t able to trawl the towns and cities of the world promoting their new wares so its ripe pickings recently for the box set after box set of unreleased material or previously released material and hard to find stuff getting a new lick of paint and packaging and being re-released.

 

Now some companies just knock out reissues on heavyweight vinyl for the audiophiles out there and then there are some labels who actually excel in this field and release some rather nice box sets full of material both previously and not previously released and right at the top of that list has to be Cherry Red.  To be fair they also have knocked out some really decent sets this year coving several genres.

Dinosaur Jr had their classic albums re-packaged a while ago with a plethora of bonus material that added up to some pretty impressive reissues and now it seems the turn of the creator in general J Mascis to release some of his live recordings. Starting with 3 CDs of solo acoustic musings.  93s live at the iconic CBGBs. Martin & Me’ that came out in 95. Then finally a live in Copenhagen recorded in 98.

CBGBs is where Mascis tugs on the heartstrings with a spine-tingling set of acoustic renditions of classic Dinosaur JR tunes with the likes of ‘Thumb’, ‘Keeblin’ and covers of ‘On The Run’ as he strums and picks his way through the set even remembering to talk in between songs it’s a glorious mishmash of songs stripped bare.

‘Martin & Me’ is a much clearer set with some of the same songs but a longer set that includes some rather interesting covers like who knew he’d cover ‘The Boy With The Thorn In His Side’ but its the emotional renditions of songs like ‘Goin Home’ that steals the show and makes the hair on my arms stand up as I type and listen. Ending the set this time with ‘Grab It’.

The third disc is of varying quality and probably my favourite of the three with awesome renditions of ‘Sure Not Over You’, ‘Little Fury Things’, ‘Drawerings’ and ‘Keep The Glove’.  Fans will be all over this (sorry) and if you want to hear rough acoustic alternative rock at its finest drawing from the likes of Neil Young and churning out stripped back picking styles from a genuine guitar hero and songwriter.

Don’t think about it go pick up a copy and like I say if you’re already sold on his solo work or Dinosaur Jr then this is a no brainer.

Buy ‘Fed Up’ Here

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Author: Dom Daley

Love them or loathe them, Wayne/Jayne County has been challenging musical and gender boundaries for decades. Before the dawn of punk, with the band Queen Elisabeth and giving Jools Holland his first studio job providing the ivories on ‘Fuck Off’, it’s been quite a ride. That this 4 CD collection spans a mere 3 year period is an eye opener.

 

It’s pretty much an exhaustive collection; the three Electric Chairs studio albums; a live set from Toronto 1979, plus a John Peel set and various singles. ‘The Electric Chairs’ debut includes 10 extra tracks, and holds together better than I remember. The quality of both songs and musicians is surprisingly good, from the ballad of ‘Eddie And Sheena’ onwards. There’s a hefty nod to the Dolls on the likes of ‘Bad In Bed’ and ‘Rock N Roll Resurrection’, but Wayne’s personality was always centre stage.

 

‘Storm The Gates Of Heaven’ is, for me, their strongest set of songs, though the band weren’t keen on the rushed production of Martin Birch. It doesn’t detract from the likes of ‘Trying To Get On The Radio’ or the bold ‘Man Enough To Be A Woman’. The title track is like Alice Cooper with better lyrics, while ‘Speed Demon’ is perilously close to the Count Bishops’ version of The Kinks’ ‘I Need You’. Extras include the ‘Toilet Love’ EP.

 

‘Things Your Mother Never Told You’, divided into Side Us and Side Them, is part Lou Reed observationals like ‘Wonder Woman’ and ‘Midnight Pal’, and a side step into more experimental songs such as ‘C3’ and ‘Berlin’. The title track would certainly have suited Iggy at the time. And ‘The Boy With The Stolen Face’ may have influenced pre-fame Ants. Have a listen.

 

‘Rock N Roll Resurrection’, live in Toronto 1979, is tighter than you might imagine, though, unfortunately, there’s not enough between-song berating from Wayne.

 

If it’s to your (bad) taste, and you don’t own these already, it’s a great package at a reasonable price.

Buy The Safari Years Here

author: Martin Charmarette

 

 

 

Always an absolute pleasure to get an earful off The Boys and this much-anticipated box set has come at just the right time in what has been or rather what is a bonkers year.
In a nutshell (or should that be clamshell), what we have here is Safari Records five-disc set of Boys material beginning with the fantastic ‘To Hell With The Boys’ followed by ‘Boys Only’ then the ones that will have fanboys salivating. One CD of Rarities (Granted many of which have already seen the light of day, here and there, like when Captain Oi! released the ‘To Hell’ they included five bonus cuts which are all present in one form or another.
These discs have been lovingly remastered by Matt and James Bragg and are a cornucopia of loud guitars and cheeky chaps doing what they do best… play exceptional Rock and Roll.  The five discs are all accompanied by a really smart  booklet with excellent notes from Matt Dangerfield which gives you a feel for where the band was at the time and corresponding pictures that help paint what the band were up to at the time.
From Cas’ swirling keyboards that sit on top of the mix of ‘Rue Morgue’ these songs could have been mastered underwater and they’d still sound sharp as a tack.  The fact that a lot of these songs still sit prominently in the live set would show how highly the band still regards the ‘To Hell’ album. Tunes such as ‘Terminal Love’, ‘You Can’t Hurt A Memory’ & ‘See You Later’ shows how versatile and creative the band was.
Man, they don’t make Rock and Roll bands like this anymore The Boys had everything, more than the one songwriter, a pair of great guitar players who had their own styles and a whole extra dynamic with more than one vocalist helps with some fantastic backing vocals.  They were never afraid to put a rocker like ‘See You Later’ next to such a mellow laid back and sweet song as ‘You Can’t Hurt A Memory’ with one of Matt’s finest vocal deliveries hitting the spot perfectly, a fantastic arrangement and getting John Mayall to hoot along on this was inspired and all for the price of a bottle of Vodka! Brilliant.  I love ‘Kamikaze’ for those honkin’ Sax breaks and I didn’t realise it was Johns first foray into lead vocals.
To be fair having this all pulled together in one place long after most of this is hard to get hold of unless you have deep pockets is an achievement in itself and the booklet with all the fantastic memorabilia is a great addition and well worth checking out even for the casual its the perfect gateway into the band and their music.
The BBC live album is a corker but then if you’ve ever seen the band live you’ll know they don’t do bad shows and this foray into the BBC and the heart of the establishment, mixes up their output thus far with old and new songs and spot-on delivery.
As the blurb says 71 tracks in all, 22 rare and previously unreleased songs, the X Rated Yobs Crimbo album just in time to play around the table as your nan tucks into her Christmas dinner round your house. Of course, I highly recommend you buy this box set, its a keeper and for those who are looking to tie up loose ends, this is perfect maybe 2020 hasn’t been a total bust after all its not every year you get a Boys box set.  Buy it!
“Anyone buying the Box Set directly from The Boys this month (September 2020) will be given a PDF document of Matt Dangerfield’s full Safari notes along with an unreleased 1979 demo of “New Guitar In Town”. For more information email The Boys at info@theboys.co.uk
Buy it from Cherry Red Here
Author: Dom Daley

Rumour has it that that well-worn adage of “if you know, you know” was actually written especially for Wythenshawe’s finest Slaughter And The Dogs.

Having played the legendary 1976 Manchester Lesser Free Trade Hall show with the Sex Pistols and Buzzcocks they were actually one of the first UK punk bands to sign to a major label (Decca), and in 1978 (along with their then labelmates Cock Sparrer) they released their debut album ‘Do It Dog Style’. To this day though it’s hardly ever Slaughter & The Dogs (or for that matter Sparrer) who get name-checked in any punk nostalgia pieces run by the mainstream media, and always the likes of The Clash, The Damned, and of course the compulsory Sex Pistols.  I wonder why? As ‘Do It Dog Style’ really is something of a stone-cold “classic” album from that first wave of UK punk.

Formed in 1976 around the creative axis of school mates (singer) Wayne Barrett and (guitarist) Mick Rossi, Slaughter And The Dogs actually took their name from two of Barrett’s favourite albums Mick Ronson’s ‘Slaughter on 10th Avenue’ and ‘David Bowie’s ‘Diamond Dogs’ and after adding bassist Howard ‘Zip’ Bates and drummer Brian ‘Mad Muffet’ Grantham to their line up it wasn’t long before they were playing shows like the aforementioned Free Trade Hall gamechanger along with the likes of The Hope & Anchor and the Roxy in London.

Releasing their blistering debut single ‘Cranked Up Really High’ through indie label Rabid Records in May 1977 it was this important stepping stone that saw Dogs snapped up by Decca and almost immediately they had ‘Where Have All The Boot Boys Gone’ released as a single and were sent out on tour with fellow Manchurians The Drones offering up the prospect of Slaughter On The Streets for those lucky enough to snap up a ticket.

Two singles later ‘Dame To Blame’ and ‘Quick Joey Small (Run Joey Run)’ (the latter featuring their hero Mick Ronson) and an early 1978 tour of the UK with the also criminally underrated Eater in support it was finally in June of that year that ‘Do It Dog Style’ hit the shelves….a week after (well, if legend is to be believed) the band split up.

And herein is the reason why I think Slaughter And The Dogs are not looked upon with the same sense of reverence as many of their punk rock peers. With the guys never achieving any of the sales figures or tabloid infamy of their former gig mates the UK music press always seemed to stop well short of affording them the rightful respect they deserved. Hence this 3CD set (from the always reliable Captain Oi!/Cherry Red joint venture) which finally fully celebrates the ‘Do It Dog Style’ album in all its expanded glory should be an immediate addition to any music fan’s collection. I’ve had it on vinyl for years – but here with an additional 29 tracks added in the shape of early singles, demos and live performances I don’t think it’s ever been afforded such an in-depth or (in fact) loving tribute.

Disc one is ‘Do It Dog Style’ in full, kicking off with the frantic bass driven ‘Where Have All The Boot Boys Gone’ which for me is still right up there with ‘Neat Neat Neat’ as a true anthem of 1977 and along with tracks like ‘Boston Babies’, ‘’I’m Mad’ and ‘We Don’t Care’ the glam meets punk riffing and lyrics of Rossi and Barrett truly shine…and again if I’m totally honest it has more than a little in common with the early days of their then label mates Cock Sparrer.  For the uninitiated it’s perhaps the band’s choice of covers that best exemplify their sound and influences with Velvet Underground’s ‘I’m Waiting For The Man’ and New York Dolls’ ‘Who Are The Mystery Girls’ (once again complete with Ronno on guitar) both given a “Dog Style” makeover, the latter being perhaps one of the best Dolls cover versions of all time. I kid you not.

Disc two brings together 19 non-album tracks which includes the ‘Cranked Up Really High’ debut single, plus their two song contribution (‘Run Away’ and a truly savage Boston Babies’) to the seminal ‘Live At The Roxy WC2’ LP. Plus, there’s a whole host of non-LP B-sides, the scarce ‘It’s Alright’ EP and studio demos to keep even the diehards happy.

If this wasn’t enough there’s also the raw sounding third disc ‘Live Slaughter Rabid Dogs’ to help round things off. This ten song, 38 minute blast of live energy was recorded in Manchester in 1977 and originally released the following year by Rabid Records and sound wise it is streets ahead of most live recordings from that period – I swear you can almost hear the whistle of the pint glasses flying at the band prior to ‘Victims Of The Vampire’.  It’s brutal stuff that’s for sure and also a fitting way to bring this most handsome of deluxe CD sets to a close, as during a reprise of ‘We Don’t Care’ the gig appears to end in total chaos, not unlike the band themselves would seemed to make a habit of it in the decades that followed.

‘Do It Dog Style’ – if you know, you know.

Buy it Here

Author: Johnny Hayward

 

 

 

Captain Oi will release a 5 CD Clamshell “The Boys on Safari” Box Set on 25 September 2020. It will comprise:

 71 track 5 CD clamshell box set covering legendary Punk band The Boys’ period with Safari Records between 1979-81.

• Disc 1 is the band’s third studio album “To Hell With The Boys” which reached No.4 in the Independent Chart in early 1980 and features the Indie Chart hit singles ‘Kamikaze’ (No.9) and ‘Terminal Love’ (No.32).

• The second disc is 1981’s “Boys Only” album which features the singles ‘You’d Better Move On’ and ‘Weekend’.

• Disc 3 is a 22 track “Rarities” round-up containing eight previously unreleased studio demos alongside non LP B-sides and rare mixes.

• The fourth disc is the X rated “Christmas Album” issued under the name The Yobs, which now has three added bonus tracks. Long out of print on vinyl or CD and currently an expensive collector’s item.

• The final disc is an “In Concert” recording for the BBC in 1980.

• The 28 page booklet contains detailed track notes by original vocalist Matt Dangerfield and lots of clippings, memorabilia and pictures of all the relevant record sleeves.

• Matt has also supervised the mastering of all the tracks.

· The band are still going to this day, 44 years on! And they will be playing again… just as soon as pandemic conditions allow!

Both “To Hell With The Boys” and “Boys Only” have been remastered directly from the original Safari master tapes so sound far superior to any previous CD releases of the albums.
Full Track Listings:
DISC ONE – TO HELL WITH THE BOYS
1. SABRE DANCE (Trad Arr The Boys)
2. RUE MORGUE (Dangerfield)
3. TERMINAL LOVE (Plain)
4. SEE YA LATER (Steel/Dangerfield)
5. YOU CAN’T HURT A MEMORY (Steel/Dangerfield)
6. KAMIKAZE (Plain)
7. LONELY COWBOY (Dangerfield)
8. WAITING FOR THE LADY (Penfold/Reid)
9. BAD DAY (Steel/Dangerfield)
10. INDEPENDENT GIRL (Steel/Dangerfield)
DISC TWO – BOYS ONLY
1. WEEKEND (Dangerfield)
2. WRONG ARM OF THE LAW (Dangerfield)
3. POOR LITTLE RICH GIRL (Plain/Black)
4. MONOTONY (Plain)
5. NOTHING VENTURED (Dangerfield)
6. WONDERFUL WORLD (Campbell/Adler/Albert)
7. SCRUBBER (Plain)
8. SATISFACTION GUARANTEED (Black)
9. GABRIELLE (Dangerfield)
10. MISS YOU (Plain)
11. LITTLE WHITE LIFELINE (Dangerfield)
12. LET IT RAIN (Steel/Dangerfield)
DISC THREE – RARITIES
1. SCHOOLGIRLS (Steel/Dangerfield/Plain)
2. JAP JUNK [1979 Demo] (Plain)
3. SEE YOU LATER [1978 Demo] (Steel/Dangerfield)
4. CRY TOMORROW [1979 Demo] (Plain)
5. LOVE IN PAIN [1979 Demo] (Steel/Dangerfield)
6. SCHOOLDAYS [1979 Demo] (Steel/Dangerfield)
7. YOU CAN GIVE IT [1979 Demo] (Walker)
8. TERMINAL LOVE [Original Mix] (Plain)
9. RUE MORGUE [Original Mix] (Dangerfield)
10. KAMIKAZE [Single version] (Plain)
11. TERMINAL LOVE [Single version] (Plain)
12. I LOVE ME [Single version] (Steel/Dangerfield)
13. YOU BETTER MOVE ON (Alexander)
14. WALK MY DOG (Dangerfield)
15. JIMMY BROWN (Steel)
16. LITTLE RUNAROUND [1980 Demo] (Dangerfield)
17. WEEKEND [1980 Demo] (Dangerfield)
18. LET IT RAIN [1980 Demo] (Steel/Dangerfield)
19. NOTHING VENTURED [1980 Demo] (Dangerfield)
20. WRONG ARM OF THE LAW [1980 Demo] (Dangerfield)
21. COOL (Dangerfield)
22. LUCY (Steel/Dangerfield)
DISC FOUR – THE YOBS CHRISTMAS ALBUM
1. RUB A DUM DUM (Davis)
2. THE BALLAD OF THE WARRINGTON (Dangerfield/Plain)
3. ANOTHER CHRISTMAS (Dangerfield)
4. DOGGY (Merrill)
5. JINGLE BELLS (Trad Arr The Yobs)
6. AULD LANG SYNE (Trad Arr The Yobs)
7. SILENT NIGHT (Trad Arr The Yobs)
8. SILVER BELLS (Livingston/Evans)
9. C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S (Trad Arr The Yobs)
10. GLORIA (Trad Arr The Yobs)
11. TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS (Trad Arr The Yobs)
12. WHITE CHRISTMAS (Berlin)
13. WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS (Trad Arr The Yobs)
14. MAY THE GOOD LORD BLESS & KEEP YOU (Wilson)
BONUS TRACKS :
15. RUB A DUM DUM [Single version] (Davis)
16. ANOTHER CHRISTMAS [Single version] (Dangerfield)
17. YOBS ON 45 (Trad Arr The Yobs)
DISC FIVE – BBC IN CONCERT 1980
1. FIRST TIME (Plain)
2. RUE MORGUE (Dangerfield)
3. YOU BETTER MOVE ON (Alexander)
4. KAMIKAZE (Plain)
5. COP CARS (Steel/Dangerfield)
6. NEW GUITAR IN TOWN (Plain/Stride)
7. BRICKFIELD NIGHTS (Steel/Dangerfield)
8. WORM SONG (Trad Arr The Boys)
9. TERMINAL LOVE (Plain) 
10. LIVIN’ IN THE CITY (Steel/Dangerfield)

The not so difficult fourth album is upon us it would seem. He might have been in this game for several decades but as a solo artist, Duncan is a mere pup, a fresh-faced newbie of sorts (he’s still playing the introducing stages). With a line-up that’s been in situ for some time – well, more time than any other line up he’s assembled since going his own way and on ‘Don’t Blame Yourself’ they’ve really spread their collective wings and are soaring, trust me on this.

My criticism (not really a criticism I love this guys music) of previous efforts was that (as great as they were) they didn’t really reflect the band live and how bloody good they are and how much punch they give to the most excellent melodies and tunes they were playing.  Well, pop pickers that has been put to bed as ‘Don’t Blame Yourself’ has plenty of grunt under the hood and Rock out with the big boys on record as they do live. Result then?  Hell Yeah!

‘Don’t Blame Yourself’ offers up fourteen slices of powerpoppin’ Rock and Roll of all shades and sounds and has pushed Duncan and his songwriting talents to the max and on multiple plays its paid dividends each and every time. It’s reflective, humorous and on the odd occasion, it’s on political point and always insightful, damn educational even who’d have thought it? Rock and Roll teaching the masses. Above all I think Duncan has penned his best record since taking the plunge and with no better example than the opener ‘Future Ex Wife’ as it comes roaring out of the traps.

Some of the record has been road-tested live and worked, I know that because I’ve seen and heard ’em played and it looks and sounds like a great choice to do that. theres always a heap of charm with Duncan’s solo records either with wicked melodies or vocal arrangments and harmonies pretty much all over the place.

I particularly like that Duncan has sat on the fence with ‘Motherfucker’ and can’t wait for his next political observation,  Hell yeah! Brother. The flow of the record is great as you get picked up and a lyric jumps out and makes you smile only to have your thought taken somewhere else due to a killer hook or vocal arrangement, thrown together it certainly wasn’t and if it was..well, the guys clearly a genius. To make it a trio of opening cuts ‘Welcome To My World’ is a slice of power pop where the guitars weave towards the chorus where you get the layered vocals cap off another top tune.

He still throws a curveball and a change of pace. The hypnotic ‘Tea & Sympathy’ has a larger slice of pop than the previous songs as it heads down a new wave maybe XTC sort of avenue. ‘To Live Or Live Not’ is classic Reid  But wait, ‘The Grim Reaper’ sounds like ’70s New York pop or Supertramp but it doesn’t sound out of place with all its trumpet tooting grandeur.

The first time I heard ‘For All We Know’ it was instantly imprinted on my brain and its still a winner on record capturing the backstory of the song perfectly. If you were to hear it being told this is how it would sound in your head. A top tune to end side one. Side two begins with the dreamy qualities of ‘Oh What A Lovely Day’  If the keyboards of classic Damned ‘Strawberries’ and ‘Black Album’ era possibly Sensibles style and touch are your things then songs like this are right up your street.  Layers of vocals and keyboards with the hint of some guitars to take it home. After the Big Heads get their tune. The title track is like the band has channeled Bolans boogie and chosen the medium of Les Paul riffs to express themselves. Stripped it back with a sparse arrangement, unfussy riff-a-rama, and no big layered harmonies and it really works well even the guitar solo is minimal and that fits perfectly.

I could waffle here all day (some might say I do anyway),  that only gives them ‘Big Heads’ bigger heads but it would be a dereliction of duty if I didn’t big up the Big Heads and this most excellent LP. Rockin’, Rollin’, thoughtful, insightful, soothing, amusing to name a few of its qualities, as far as albums released this year goes this will unquestionably be up there as the best released in what is unfolding as the strangest years ever but ‘Don’t Blame Yourself’ is a bonafide Banger!

If you are familiar with Duncan and his music you’re going to love it and there is so much on offer you could pick out a new favourite track each time. If you’re still reading and still curious and have no idea about Duncan Reid & The Big Heads then don’t be shy – jump in they don’t bite, my advice –  just buy it! sit in the garden open all your windows and your lockdown has just got 87% more bearable. Hell, shout over the fence to your neighborhood, “Enjoy the tunes – They’re Fuckin’ Great” then tell ’em they can pick up a copy from the link.my work here is done.

Buy ‘Don’t Blame Yourself’ Here

Author: Dom Daley

 

Buzzcocks should require no introduction. Forever embedded in pop culture of the late ’70s and to the punk and post-punk DIY movements, the group, led by frontman Pete Shelley and co-frontman Steve Diggle, brought an essential pop sensibility and sartorial style to the late last epic youth movement but are also tied to the last big youth explosion that was Grunge and Nirvana in particular.

Having disbanded in 1981, the band re-grouped in 1989 and continue to write, record and perform to this day, despite the saddening and untimely loss of Pete Shelley in 2018. This box set captures the eight albums and numerous singles the band produced with Shelley during a thirty-three year period, alongside previously unheard rarities, demos, outtakes & veritable treasures that lie under the lid.  Dismiss at your peril ‘Sell You Everything’ is an essential purchase as you should make all year.

We’ll start at the beginning of these eight discs and number one sees the band present their 1991 demos of the album some of which made it onto ‘Trade Test Transmission a couple of years later.  Thirteen demos of exceptional quality expanded to make a twenty-one song disc.  Sure there is a small amount of repetition with songs like ‘Alive Tonight’ and ‘Succesful Street’ cropping up a couple of times but very different versions to be fair and different enough to deserve duplicating. Of course, this demo album isn’t up there with the first four albums lets not pretend anything other than what it is but to fans (of which I would consider myself one) it’s fantastic to have all these songs in this format together on the one disc.  right, One down seven to go! Oh before we move on the demo version of ‘Succesful Street’ is far superior to the one on the EP!

Disc two is ‘Trade Test Transmission’ plus a few of Diggle’s home demos songs like ‘Energy’ which gives you a good idea of how the song came together even if this is much more like home recording territory god bless those Tascam4 tracks eh?

Disc Three is ‘All Set’ which was more in keeping with Buzzcocks from the sprightly opener ‘Totally From The Heart’ and I always loved ‘Without You’ it was the return of classic Shelley. As always when Diggle got behind the mic he always dished up a classic or two and his contribution here is the wonderful ‘What Am I Supposed To Do’. I always had a soft spot when Diggle got out the old acoustic as well and his contribution here was the albums closing number ‘Back With You’ but again its the demos at the end that hold the intrigue and a whole bunch of energy especially ‘Your Love’.  Laying fresh ears on this album has been a joy and a bit of guilt for not picking it up sooner over the last decade or so I feel shame for the neglect and won’t let it be another decade before it gets played.

 

Disc Four sees the band hit the tail end of the ’90s and having been back at it for almost a decade by this point and ‘Modern’ hit the shelves.  I loved how about this point the band were being referred to indie rockers and not punk pioneers or post-punk power-pop legends but they still had plenty of fizz on songs like ‘Rendezvous’.  They did test my patience as well I won’t lie.  ‘Don’t Let The Car Crash’ was a weird one as was ‘Doesn’t mean Anything’ and ‘Phone’ as well whilst we’re at it.  I always thought it was better suited to the solo material with all the samples but now looking back maybe I appreciate the band experimenting more. I always loved the more straight aproach of ‘turn Of The Screw’ and ‘Sneaky’.  Probably the lowest point of the band catalogue to be fair although adding the Townsend strum of ‘Autumn Stone’ Steves Buzz is very interesting as Diggle manages to sound hauntingly like Steve Marriott here.

 

The self-titled album of 2003 was a right return to form with fast songs that cut the crap from opener ‘Jerk’ and the thunderous ‘Keep On’ someone or something really lit a fire under the band who also were turning in some fantastic live shows around this time as well.  ‘Sick City Sometimes’ is a blinding track courtesy of Mr. Diggle.  ‘Buzzcocks’ was a stripped back bullshit-free bolt of thunder and lightning from the slashing hack of those guitars to the super-tight rhythm section a real beast of an album.  With only three bonus tracks here one being the demo of ‘Never Believe It’ and the final two cuts being a live rendition of ‘Paradise’ and a haunting bootleg out of the desk take of ‘Oh Shit’ that’ll strip paint if you play it loud enough.

‘Flat Pack Philosophy’ I remember having mixed press around the time and having pledged on a copy I remember it ticking a lot of boxes around the time of its release and listening back here it still stands up with songs like the title track and ‘wish I Never Loved You’ being a pair of belters to open any album never mind the bazillionth album of an illustrious career.  ‘Sell You Everything’ is another slice of Diggle gold but once again fans will be intrigued with the bonus cuts on offer sees ‘See Through You’ and ‘Darker By The Hour’ and its pop beauty before a filthy, raucous ‘Love Battery’ and ‘Sixteen’ – Job done another epic Buxxcocks album made even better by an abundance of additional material.

Now disc seven.  Probably the disc I’ve played over and over again since getting my mitts on this treasure trove of Buzzcocks goodies twenty-Four reworks of classic songs from right across the existence of one of the most exciting innovative and downright brilliant bands ever. I absolutely love it some songs have matured and improved with age and some of the later ones like ‘Turn Of The Screw’ fit in like peas in a pod – bloody brilliant. HAving Shelley bark out the words and melodies on ‘Boredom’ is exciting and don’t get me started on the bass line of ‘Fast Cars’ or the mesmeric qualities of ‘Why Can’t I Touch It’.  Anyone who witnessed the band performing over the last decade would have pretty much witnessed these songs played by this line up in this way and I can’t imagine one single person not bowing down to the majesty power, beauty and downright quality of what was on offer and hearing them rerecorded here gives nothing away as to the age of the songs in large nor is any quarter given by the band.

‘You Say You Don’t Love Me’ nestled next to ‘Turn Of The Screw’ or the bluster of ‘Breakdown’ preceding ‘Promises’ brings a tear to my eye. ‘Love You More’?  I don’t think I could right now and the sadness that washed over me hearing an enthusiastic ‘What do I Get’ knowing I’ll never get that live again but I do have this blistering set to fall back on.  ‘I Believe’ and then finally ‘Love Is Lies’ wraps up the disc that makes all this worth it.  If you had any doubt about picking this up then take a butchers at this running order and tell me its not worth it?  Absolutely bittersweet but sheer brilliance. and there’s still one more to go.

The box set of the year is wrapped up nicely with ‘The Way’ plus seven bonus cuts and the best box set to get released is done.  A real joy to behold from the audio to the packaging its a winner and a must-have not just for the die-hard fans but for anyone whos has ever sung along to a Buzzcocks track at a disco, pub, wedding whatever this is a must-have lovingly compiled and expanded and everything you want from a box set that sells you everything and not just goes through the motions. 160 tracks – 29 previously unreleased, what’s not to want?  Essential, simple as

Buy ‘Sell You Everything’ Here

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Author: Dom Daley