Billie Joe Armstrong does the best cover of his lockdown by tipping his hat to the one and only legend that was Stiv Bators by taking on the excellent ‘Not That Way Anymore’.  already having 100,000 plays on youtube how cool would it be if only 10% of the kids watching looked up Stiv and liked what they heard.  Originally released on Bomp Records back in ’79  its classic power-pop from the Master Bator.

 

After the demise of D Generation at the turn of the century, New York troubadour Jesse Malin traded electric for acoustic and has toured hard ever since. Traveling black tar rivers wherever they flow, plying his trade to all who will take the time to sip a beer and nod their heads. Along the way, he has written and recorded with the likes of Ryan Adams, Billy Joe Armstrong and Bruce Springsteen.

Last year saw him collaborate with Lucinda Williams on his 7th (or is it 8th?) studio album. The critically acclaimed ‘Sunset Kids’ is an introspective set of songs exploring death, departure and a host of character observation. It was one of my favourite albums last year and possibly his finest work. Jesse and his band have been touring hard since the release and this is the first of 3 separate visits he will make to our side of the pond this year.

 

Situated in Leeds city centre just a few doors from Crash Records, Headrow House is a new venue to me. With a 150 capacity, it’s a cool sized room on the first floor of a building that also houses a restaurant and a drinking establishment. As I catch the band soundchecking prior to an arranged interview with the frontman, I already get the feeling this could be a great show. It feels like a good space and the fact that it has recently sold out makes it even more exciting.

As the room fills up nicely, fellow New Yorker Don Dilego tales to the stage and warms us up with a fine set of pop-laced Americana. Cut from the same cloth as Jesse Malin, his between-song stories are engaging and his melodies memorable. Joined by keyboard player Michael Hesslein, Don channels alt country sensibilities with pop suss coming on like Joseph Arthur meets Talking Heads to the casual listener, which ain’t a bad place to be in my book.

His passion for collecting old, turn of the century photographs from thrift shops, which he uses to adorn his studio in NY is interesting and leads into the best song of his half hour slot, which for the life of me I can’t recall the title of. Guess I’ll have to check out his discography to find it, eh!

 

Sometimes the stars align at just the right moment and it all comes together. Sometimes the sound guy gets it just right, the band are tight and play the songs you really wanted to hear. Sometimes the room is dark and crackling with just the right atmosphere, the vocals cut through the instruments and you catch every last word the singer sings. Tonight is one of those nights.

A Jesse Malin show is always an immersive experience, full of stories and crowd interaction. I remember a show back in 2008, at Fibbers in York, where he had the whole crowd sat on the floor enraptured by his every word. That was a more intimate, acoustic based show, tonight is a rock ‘n’ roll show with a tight 5 piece band who bring the NY groove to Leeds.

It’s evident from the strummed chords of opener ‘Shining Down’ that tonight is going to be one of those great nights. With a smart, dark shirt and waistcoat adorning his slight frame, his black corkscrew hair in his eyes from beneath an oversized flat cap, Jesse looks the essence of New York rock ‘n’ roll cool. His vocals sound spot on, just the right amount of echo and reverb accentuate his voice, and the accompanying licks from long time collaborator Derek Cruz have the most marvelous tone to my ears.

Recent single ‘Chemical Heart’ follows, the jangly, upbeat melody inciting crowd movement and Rob Clores cool keyboard refrain giving it that kooky feel. The Pogues classic ‘If I Should Fall With Grace From God’ follows and fits the upbeat party vibe of the set just right. A perfect opening trio of songs.

Jesse tells stories about the album between songs and announces they are going to play lots of new material and a few surprises are in store. ‘Black Haired Girl’ is an early highlight, yet it’s the groovier, funky stuff such as ‘She Don’t Love Me’ and ‘Dead On’ that really shine tonight. When Jesse loses the guitar and takes to the mic, he becomes edgy and the old D Generation punk rock attitude shines through. You can take the punk outta Queens, but he’ll always have some of that fire in his belly. He stands on the bass drum, stalks the stage and he’s off in the crowd. Jesse has the ability to make every person in the room feel like they are involved.

‘Russian Roulette’ is my favourite Lords Of The New Church song and I was not expecting it tonight. The singer’s cinematic introduction reels off his tongue like poetry, referencing Deer Hunter and Apocalypse Now like some punk rock Gil Scott Heron, before he’s off in the crows yet again. This is one of those rock ‘n’ roll moments I will remember for a long time to come.

The main set ends with the song that opens ‘Sunset Kids’. It’s no nonchalant decision that ‘Meet Me At The End Of The World’ was re-recorded to open the album. Personally, I feel it is one of Jesse’s finest moments. It has that New York groove, that Lou Reed feel to it, it’s a modern rock ‘n’ roll anthem for these trying times.

That was a killer set! The old, the new and the obscure rub shoulders. How could you not dig the likes of ‘Hotel Columbia’, ‘Turn Up The Mains’ and ‘Cigarettes & Violets’?

Jesse returns solo, with his acoustic for a chilled run through of The Clash classic ‘Stay Free’, before inviting the band back for an emotive ‘Broken Radio’. And while The Boss was a no show tonight, it’s still a classic Malin tune that deserves more recognition than the minimal Radio 2 playlisting it got on release.  A high energy ‘Do You Remember Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio’ sees the singer ditch the guitar for good to give the Ramones classic anthem the full on treatment it deserves, before sending us off with his chilled ode to The Pogues frontman that is ‘Shane’.

 

Tonight Jesse and his band set the bar very high indeed. He’s been at this game for a long time now, and has honed his storytelling and performance to perfection. He has the songs and he has the players and they delivered the kind of show I feel every rock ‘n’ roll band worth their salt wish they could deliver.

Author: Ben Hughes

 

Having played the last couple of Rebellion Festivals and turning the Opera House into the DeRellaDome we thought it was time to fire some questions at founder and Bass player Timmy DeRella. When we spoke at the last Rebellion last August with one thing or another we never quite got together to have that chat.
As we leap into a brand new decade we finally catch up and all isn’t as it seems in camp DeRella with the ever-revolving Revolving door turning and another two new faces emerge with big changes in the band.  I’ll let Timmy fill you in…”As you know, I’m now fronting The DeRellas – which is probably something I should have done when Robbie left the band.  It’s a pity things didn’t work out with Joe, he’s a good guy, he has great style and we did some brilliant gigs together, but we had different ideas.  The new lineup is fab – we have Luca on lead guitar of course and a new rhythm guitarist – Marky T, formerly in London glam band The Bad Girls and more recently starring as Steve Jones in The Sex Pistols Experience  (he looks very fetching with a knotted hanky on his head, how could we say no..?!).  And I’m pleased to say that Steve Grainger (Chelsea) will be playing drums on the new album and hopefully playing a few gigs with us – true rock n roll.  So I might fall on my arse with the singing but it’ll be 100% the band I want it to be.”
So there you have it folks that’s where we are as of February 2020. Soooo, onto the questions, I originally had seeing as a whole bunch are now irrelevant.
Tell us when did you first pick up the bass and why the bass?
Not until I was 21 – I had tried to play drums and keyboards first, I just wanted to get a band started as quickly as possible.
You’ve put out a couple of albums on cd and vinyl and a few singles you always kept it real and never bowed down to going digital and kept true to releasing records.  Is it important for you to keep making records? And 7″ singles?
Vinyl rules but you have to be realistic about the future and about costs.   Our new single ‘Soho Hotel’ is currently on download only (check it out on CDBaby), but it will defo be on the shiny new vinyl album.  
Yourself and Luca have been the mainstays in the band how does the writing process go?
Luca and I just get together – I will have some lyrics or even just a title, he’ll have a guitar riff and we come up with songs.  We’ve always worked well together.  Sometimes some lines or a riff will be sitting around for a while until something clicks into place.  
The latest line up of the band is really strong and the last Rebellion Festival performance was by far the best I’ve ever seen you guys or any line ups that have performed under the band name. How do you see that performance?
Obviously the line up has changed since you asked me that question!   Billy’s joined The Godfathers and I’m now fronting the band.   Last year’s Rebellion was brilliant, but we can only get better.   
It’s a big old stage in the “DeRella Dome” that is the opera house but you guys made it feel intimate what other venues have you loved playing?
We’ve played some legendary venues – although one of our most mental nights was in an old garage in Liege!   Favourite places – Freakshow in Essen, 100 Club in London of course, Bannermans in Edinburgh, Wild at Heart in Berlin, Mondo Bizzaro in Rennes, the Wurlitzer in Madrid.. and I have to mention Rockaway Beach at the Hope & Anchor, Islington (the club night I run with my missis).  But it’s down to the people – the punters of course, and the owners and promoters who put their heart and their wallets on the line to keep a venue alive.  It’s tough and good places are closing all the time because of developers, local noise laws, etc..   Support your local venue, kids!
 
What’s next for the band? A new album?
Yep, the new album is well underway — hopefully out this summer.   The new songs sound brilliant.   We have a video out any day now for Soho Hotel, and we’ll be promoting the album in the second half of the year, but before that, we are booked for Scotland Calling in April and we’ll do a few dates around that.  And we’ll be back at Rebellion again of course.
Who would you say are your biggest influences musically and bass playing-wise?
Clash, Manics, Hanoi, Bauhaus, Banshees, Heartbreakers, Adam and the Ants, Lords of the New Church…  
You guys always look as if you’re having the best time onstage is it as much fun as it looks?
It has to be fun.   Like Viv Savage (Spinal Tap) says “have a good time all the time”
The last ep was your strongest work and ‘high rise’ is a great track are there many new tracks demo’d?
The new album is going to have more of a High Rise Supersize feel.   We got a little bit of stick for being political when High Rise came out, but it’s a tough world out there.  We just want people to have a voice, not take things lying down, to ‘stick it to the man’.  
That’s all for now from The DeRellas but rest assured we’ll be back for more when the record is ready for release until then check out the most excellent ‘Soho Hotel’ and we wish the band all the success and extend that to Billy and Joe.
Currently only available on download through CD Baby
Pic of Timmy courtesy of ‘David Newbold’

Until recently you’d have thought punk rock was invented by Malcolm McLaren and Bernie Rhodes and that’s about it nobody else was involved and the history books also tend to gloss over the real nuts and bolts and the details that really matter but those who know really do know.  Punk wasn’t invented by chancers or clothes shop owners it was invented by kids on both sides of the Atlantic who felt forgotten and lost and had something to rally against and one of the biggest magnets of the scene happens to have been one Brian James.  From the gushing introduction from Henry Rollins something of a punk rock fact nurd who actually puts things into perspective.  James deserves respect and with respect has carved one hell of a catalogue of work and reinvented himself several times and was a success every time.  I’m delighted to have this book in my hands and feast on the details and exquisite picture catalogue Wombat has amassed.

Brian was a visionary and someone people wanted to be around as this book will testify sure he borrowed heavily from the likes of Richards and Ashton and those Mc5s but he didn’t just copy them he went away and created a new sound and style that exploded for a brief second in time and the ripples are still being felt in and around our little corner of the world where music matters and not just being the first to this or that Brian made records that mattered and was above all life-changing and life-affirming.  This biography tells Brian’s story from dingy basements to where he is today still creating and everything in between.

I don’t want to tell Brians story (He’ll do that when he finally releases his autobiography) in the interim Wombat (who also has some excellent books on Johnny Thunders and Bryan Gregory & The Cramps) has gathered painstakingly some fantastic anecdotal memories and pictures to open up Brians world in music to the reader who if your a fan of all or many of Brians works you’ll find this a real treat. If you’re looking for the true embodiment of punk rock then you’ve found the holy grail Brian James is punk rock and as he said himself he didn’t do this for fame or fortune he did it because its the only thing he ever wanted to do and still is!  That warms the cockles of my heart and confirms what I’ve always known.  Brian James is a legend.

The book starts off right at the beginning and with a classic cowboy picture of James as a nipper and takes you through the various periods of his life – It’s not overly indulgent and keeps things brief but you do get a good picture of where he comes from and the man himself his first meeting with Johnny Thunders, Breaking up the Damned, the Pistols, Anarchy tour its all covered but just giving a brief outline and not reaching into minute details unlike many books on the subject of say the Anarchy Tour it was only a few weeks of one year move on people, please.

The book flows well and some of the pictures are fantastic as are a lot of the clips of tickets and bill posters that are reproduced which is really nice for us anoraks. The stuff around the Brains and Tanz Der Youth period then into Brians thoughts on touring with Iggy on ‘Soldiers’ and ‘New Values’ is great stuff but I wanted to get to the Lords stuff and it doesn’t disappoint with some fantastic pictures spread out over many pages then chapter seven and the Lords with some great insight from Dave (Treganna) and roadie and friend Ivor who knocked out one of the best quotes in the book when he is explaining that the band were forever on tour and they were indeed heady wild times and he’d tuned Brians guitars more times than Brian ever had Dave summary of recording ‘Like A Virgin’ is succinct and the picture taken from the photoshoot is hilarious. I could read about the Lords all day and night to me they were one of the magical bands in my lifetime and along with Hanoi Rocks will always hold a special place.

If you’re a fan then what’s not to like its an easy read and the pictures are great. John wombat has done a sterling job and pulled together a very readable book of one of my musical Heroes and on finishing this it’s only cemented my initial fanboy thoughts go to the link and click and pick up a copy you won’t regret it at all.  Now Mr. James get on with the autobiography this has only whet my appetite for more ramblings and pictures. buy it!

 

Buy ‘The authorised Biography Of Brian James’ Here

John Wombat

 

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

 

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”

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

A new documentary on legendary DEAD BOYS frontman STIV BATORS is to get its UK premiere next month.

Born 70 years ago, the charismatic singer was the original embodiment of the self-destructive punk frontman with Cleveland, Ohio’s DEAD BOYS before embarking on a solo career. He went on to team up with members of SHAM 69 in THE WANDERERS. His greatest success came in the mid-80s with THE LORDS OF THE NEW CHURCH alongside The Damned founder Brian James, Dave Tregunna from Sham 69 and ex-Barracudas drummer Nicky Turner.

The succinctly-titled Stiv, which features heaps of rare and unseen footage, as well as new interviews with all the major players in the singer’s life, is to receive its UK premiere on 24 March at the Regent Street Cinema, London as part of the Soundscreen Festival, presented in conjunction with Vive Le Rock! The screening will be followed by a Q&A with the film’s director Danny Garcia.

Tickets are available here.

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