The Strokes, saviours of rock ‘n’ roll or affluent city kids at the right place at right time? Or perhaps a little from column A and B….. Like them or loathe them, they have stayed the course of their career, never flooding the market with an abundance of material and taking hiatus breaks just long enough to build up nostalgia and maintain headlining positions at international festivals.
Right let’s get this out of the way early door so I don’t have to mention it again. Yes JC Carroll is the lead singer behind the Members and yes they did have a smash hit with ‘Sound Of The Suburbs’. Right, We’re gathered here today to celebrate a whole generation of inspirational tunes that helped shape the musical landscape of the 20th century. The Members have gone down the covers route, in itself its no biggie lots of bands tip the hat so to speak and turn in exceptional interpretations of songs and bands that inspired them and some band spectacularly miss the point but, I guess it’s an individual thing. A classic song is exactly that to the individual so when a band takes on an iconic tune and flips it on its head sometimes it misses the point of that original. ‘Version’ has fourteen covers some more widely known than others and some done fairly straight whilst others are not just flipped on their heads but totally rebirthed as something so far removed I don’t know what to make of it at times.
First up is a Prince song taken to the charts by Cyndi Lauper Not afraid of taking a chance and opening with a big hitter then? To be fair it’s not a million miles from Prince with the synth hook its got a cars sort of power pop feel to the melody but JC doesn’t have the high falsetto that the former artist known as Prince had but its an intriguing introduction to say the least. Covered by many artists over the years and now the opening track for The Members.
Come out from behind the sofa folks its only a song by the Swedish phenomena better known as ABBA. Yup ‘Does Your Mother Know’ gets a roughing up and I don’t know whether to laugh or cry its one of those songs from your childhood that is burnt into your memory. Not sure ABBA ever translate into any sort of guitar-based music its a weird one and I’d like to accept the offer of a free pass on this one.
Ah, Bowie and a clear favourite on Carroll as he apes Bowie in the vocal department and to be fair does a good job as the band actually do ‘Boys Keep Swinging’ some justice and don’t try and be clever and just do a pretty straight take on it. Next up things get weird as they take on the classic Buzzcocks ‘What Do I Get’ and reggae-fy it using its superb melody to slow it right down and skank. Bells and whistles thrown in along with the natty keyboard stabs I don’t think I like it at all. Whilst I try to get the taste of the last one out of my mouth along comes another weird take on the classic ‘Sheena Is A Punk Rocker’ and it’s given a trip on an altogether different route than Joey and the boys took it originally and again I can’t work out if I’m listening to genius or a messed up piss take – help I’m confused.
More Ramones crop up with ‘Chinese Rocks’ and a suitably scuzzy riff is dutifully relayed and a fairly straight route is taken. The band then go down the reggae road covering the John Holt track ‘Police In Helicopters’ all about da herb brother. A fairly standard cover to be fair and fairly true to the original. Continuing the theme the band does ‘Soul Rebel’ from Bob Marley and what you hear is exactly what you get. laid back and chilled out. In for a penny and all that it’s no surprise to hear the band take on the Gregory Issacs iconic track ‘Night Nurse’ personalising the lyrics and doing a decent job on this chilled out five minutes.
Wow now, C’mon JC turning ‘Ever Fallen In Love’ into a trumpet tooting reggae song is just not on or is it? Maybe Shelley was a visionary and this was how it was intended to sound? It’ll take you a while to get your head around it and again I’m really not sure what to make of it, firstly with it being such an iconic punk rock song its hard to get your head around this departure. Brave or crazy who knows what’s done is done now and there is no going back maybe JC just hears it differently to some of us.
Grandmaster Flash anyone? This is more interesting and one I think would make more sense hearing it live with the horns and finishing with ‘Waiting for my Man’ JC and The Members certainly haven’t taken the easy route here and to some it’ll be red rag to a bull whilst others with be in love with old songs newly arranged.
Me I’m undecided. Maybe I’ll give it another go but give it a bit of distance as well. brave or crazy I can’t decide.
Buy ‘Version’ Here
Author: Dom Daley
Its no secret that we don’t always listen to Glam punk or Rock n Roll or straight up punk. Sometimes we love to indulge in a more challenging form of music. Besides, I find the whole scene of Black Metal absolutely fascinating so, on days like this, it’s only fair to tip the hat and show some respect for those who made the records and have since passed on. As a mark of respect, we’d like to spread a little love for Tomas Forsberg better known as Quorthorn, Multi-instrumentalist and frontrunner of the metal subgenre known as Black Metal. Frontman and songwriter of the blackest of black metal bands none other than – Bathory.
Bathory was, for the most part, a studio band releasing four albums and often cited as the fathers of Black Metal or at least Scandinavian Black Metal. (of course, Venom were the first we know that) Thomas Börje Forsberg was born on the 17th of February 1966 and sadly passed away at home on this very day in 2004 as a result of a congenital heart defect. In his short life, he managed to release 16 Bathory albums and three solo albums under the name Quorthon. He was known as ‘Ace’ early on after Ace Frehley from Kiss maybe he wasn’t so dark after all and only when he turned to the dark side did he change his name to something altogether eviler.
Managing to remain in the underground Bathroy were more in keeping with the origins of Black Metal and Venoms more NWOBHM than the breakneck blast beats and throat gargling abominations that followed from the bands that took the scene to the extremes. Bathory will always be known as one of the forefathers and groundbreakers. So RPM would like to say Rest In Peace Thomas and shine on you crazy diamond.
Also on this very day in 1993 the artist formerly known as Prince Rogers Nelson changed his name to Symbol! Now had he been a black metal artist he could have come up with some unreadable abomination for a symbol – lucky for us it was like a squiggle with a circle and an anchor like line. These pop stars eh? Nutters one and all
Also on this very day, The Sex Pistols reached a level of notoriety when they played a live show on a boat travelling up the Thames as part of the Queen’s silver jubilee celebrations.
Day 2 (A Trip To Paisley Park)
This is where the whole idea of our road trip began and why we have travelled to the much cooler climate of Minneapolis before heading over to sunny California. Sorry residents of Minneapolis, but if it wasn’t for Prince we would not have even thought to come to see your city on this trip. We have come on a musical pilgrimage to connect, to gain some sort of higher understanding. To see and to draw in the energy of the space where Prince created his whole musical world, this seemingly unreachable place (to us UK residents anyway), this Mecca, where he lived and where he ultimately died.
We don’t really know what to expect. During the 30-minute car journey, we both agree that we are expecting it to be an unprofessional setup. Very probably a badly organised and rushed exhibition, with a tour guide who probably isn’t even a fan. This is what we were prepared for and that was fine the experience, we were hoping, was going to be enough to satisfy our needs.
Paisley Park is situated on what looks to be nothing more than an industrial estate, so much so I expect to see a Screwfix around every bend. You can see the building as you approach from the highway. The large, angular and quite plain looking white building, built back in 1986, is not hidden away as you would expect the reclusive singer to have it.
No phones or cameras are allowed inside the Paisley Park complex. No filming or touching of the items on display is allowed. And that is the way it should be, it keeps the experience intimate and very personal, just the way I imagine he would have wanted it.
We booked a VIP tour, it was expensive, but fuck it, how often will I get to do something like this? This is what this trip is all about, all or nothing, when in Rome and all that! There are 12 people in our group and our tour guide is way more knowledgeable than we could have imagined. Straight from the off you can tell this is the real deal, informative and interesting, the guides know their shit, and the people at Paisley Park know how to put together a tour.
We are led to The Atrium, the entrance hall to Paisley Park. There is an ornate marble floor, in the centre, the iconic Love symbol, where our guide informs us is the spot where he recorded famous interviews with Oprah and Mel B (YouTube it). Above to our right is a balcony where his pet doves are housed in cages. Directly above us, a miniature replica of Paisley Park which contains Prince’s remains. We are given a minute of silence to pay our respects, deep in our own thoughts. And if that experience doesn’t move you emotionally and spiritually, then nothing will. It’s already the trippiest day of my life and we haven’t even got going yet.
We are then given some time to explore the various rooms that lead off from The Atrium. From here there are several rooms themed to different eras of Prince’s career. From ‘Dirty Mind’ and ‘Controversy’ with his original Madcat Telecaster, lyric sheets and demo cassettes on display, onto stage costumes from ‘Lovesexy’ and ‘Sign O The Times’ Tours. Although some rooms have been themed, many have been left just as they were the day he died. In his office, papers and lyric sheets are scattered on the desks and a suitcase sits by his desk, as if awaiting their owners return, this just seems to bring home how real this all is.
There’s a video editing suite with a sofa, where he would sit with dancers and watch hours upon hours of concert footage, improving the routines and the shows, ironing out the errors. A kitchen area with a TV where he would sit and watch basketball matches.
We are then led through a rabbit warren of various studios and soundspaces, every one ‘wired for sound’. This guided tour includes a photo opportunity next to the piano from his final ‘Piano & a Microphone’ Tour, next to it, one of his blue cloud guitars. Even cooler, while we wait for everyone to take their turn doing photos, we get to play table tennis on the actual table Prince used in his own precious down time. Even the ping pong balls have the Love symbol logo on.
In this large, wooden floored main recording studio, behind glass we peer at the mixing desk, all equipment just as he left it, down to the iconic Lynn drum machine that he used to get that signature sound from ‘1999’ until ‘Sign O’ The Times’. In this very room he recorded ‘Diamonds & Pearls’ and ‘Lovesexy’. The songs that have been recorded in this room, the legends that have joined him here, if only these walls could talk…
We learn he was recording a jazz album at the time of his death to be released on Blue Note Records. We then get the opportunity to hear one of the unreleased tracks from it, an instrumental. While listening through massive studio speakers, we get to take it the reality that the last thing he did before he died was to play and record in this very room.
The Purple Rain room is situated in what used to be the dance rehearsal studio, where he would choreograph and perfect the dance routines for hours and hours before each tour. The wall of mirrors is still there and the rails where the curtains once hung still visible. Here is housed the iconic artifacts from the 1984 film. The purple Honda motorbike, the white cloud guitar and the purple jacket from the film’s finale. We stare, we process and try and capture these images in our memories for eternity.
The corridors leading off are adorned with murals and paintings commissioned by the man himself, all left exactly as they were when Paisley Park was a working studio. We walk past his awards, there’s the Grammys, the MTV Music Awards and the Brit awards, all housed behind glass and all out on display. Through a window can be seen his beloved tour bus from the 90’s, parked up and covered in leaves. Probably not moved for years, forgotten like some ancient relic that has not yet been assigned to the rock ‘n’ roll graveyard.
We are then led into what is the grand finale, so to speak. The main soundstage, the room where Prince held many gigs and events. The ‘Rave Unto The Year 2000’ concert DVD was filmed here, as well as many of his promo videos. In this room, on several raised stages are more stage costumes and guitars from the last 10 years of his life. The matching suits and Stratocasters from the ‘Musicology’ period, including the red suit and strat he played at the Monterey Jazz Festival, it’s all here. Even two of the cars he could regularly be seen driving around town are parked in here, a purple Plymouth Prowler and a sky blue Bentley Continental, it truly is a fanboys wet dream and I freakin’ love it all!
Leading from this is the nightclub where Prince hosted parties well into the night. We are led to one of the private seating areas and our host tells us stories of how he would sometimes appear from the stairs behind and how he would get up and DJ and sometimes he would invite people to go watch a movie with him at the local cinema.
You could spend a small fortune in the merch shop, I went for a mug and a set of plectrums, Sedd bought a baseball shirt and an NPG pin. We learn from our guide that there is an underpass across the road where fans have adorned the walls with messages and tributes in graffiti. We have enough time to go in search. This Mecca, seemingly hidden from the world, is a secret place to go and think, contemplate or grieve, take photos or simply just read the messages of love from fans. Someone has even left a marker so you can add to the tributes…we do.
It’s the perfect end to an experience that exceeded all expectations, and even if the plane goes down on our flight to San Francisco later today, I will raise a smile and think to myself “yeah, it was all worth it”. Although it’s goodbye to Paisley Park and Minneapolis, there will always be a piece of it in my heart now. Our brothers would have loved this, goodbye Minneapolis…hello San Francisco!
Author: Ben Hughes
Day 1 (Best laid plans become reality)
Here I sit on a transatlantic flight bound for Minneapolis with my best mate Matt Seddon. Last night we saw Living Colour play at the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds, tomorrow we visit Paisley Park, then fly to San Francisco. The start of a carefully planned 10 day road trip that will ram in all the sights, sounds and experiences that Southern California can offer.
So, how did we get to this point you may ask? Well, in the summer of 2016 Sedd and I both lost our brothers within 6 weeks of each other. My brother Dan after a short battle with cancer and Sedd’s brother Andy to a heart attack. Obviously, these events changed our lives forever, it made us both re-evaluate our lives and what we take out of it in the future. Life is short and sometimes it takes a tragic life experience to give reality a jolt and make you question life, the universe and everything.
We are both music lovers and musicians, as were our brothers. Sedd and I spend our Saturday nights together drinking, putting the world to rights, talking music and planning things we may never actually do. This trip is about doing some of those things before it’s too late.
Call it a voyage of discovery, a pilgrimage or simply a tribute to our brothers, but what started as a chat about how cool it would be to visit Paisley Park quickly snowballed into a rock ‘n’ roll roadtrip. We are both Prince fans as were our brothers, Minneapolis seemed the perfect place to start. Then catch a plane over to San Francisco for a few days, hire a Ford Mustang and drive the Pacific coast road down to Monterey, onto LA for a few days and end our trip in Las Vegas. Take in the sights, the sounds, the history and maybe catch a few bands too, who knows.
As it worked out, the trip is bookended by two bucket list gigs at my favourite North Yorkshire venue The Brudenell Social Club. The day after we return from Las Vegas Redd Kross support The Melvins and the night before we fly out, we witness Living Colour play a sold out show there.
Dan would’ve been so jealous. Living Colour were one of his favourite bands. I remember when he got their third album ‘Stain’, he would play it over and over to me. Being a drummer he would bang on passionately about Will Calhoun and his playing, the tempo changes they use in the likes of ‘Mind Your Own Business’ and so on. He had been a fan since their first album, but he never got the chance to see them live and now I had the chance to do it for him.
The new album ‘Shade’ is a great return to form and this UK tour of smaller venues the perfect opportunity to catch a bucket list band who rarely visit our shores.
They open with Robert Johnson’s ‘Preachin’ Blues’ and follow with the classic ‘Wall’, a fiery political statement, it’s an early highlight. Yet it’s a slow burner of a gig to be honest, although they sound great the band do seem to be holding back. Where’s the energy, have they still got it?
Bassist Doug Wimbish is mesmerising to watch, what a player. He does this mad, dramatic pull off thing on the strings that looks and sounds smart. Singer Corey Glover, dressed in baggy gear, an over-sized brown leather jacket, cloth cap and specs, looks like an extra from Starsky & Hutch. He seems subdued for the first few songs, maybe jet lag or maybe it’s just his style, I can’t quite figure it out. In complete contrast the ever smiling Vernon Reid pulls off staggering leads at the speed of light to his side.
It takes a few songs to get going tonight, but damn me if Living Colour don’t pull off one of the gigs of the year. Tonight they play a few songs that they have not played so far on this tour. So, as well as the usual suspects we get a raw and undiluted ‘Elvis Is Dead’, extended and jammed out with crowd participation, even breaking into a few bars of ‘Hound Dog’ with added Corey hip thrusting. “I’m gonna regret that in the morning” he jokes.
A surprise calypso tinged ‘Glamour Boys’ is an amazing highlight with full band backing harmonies that sound frankly amazing, it takes the song to another level. The extended bass and drum solos, although impressive, I could live without. While Doug’s soloing to his own looped bass line was highly inventive and impressive for all the musos in attendance, they could’ve fitted three more songs in the set.
The new songs mix well in the set. The angst ridden ‘Gunfight’ continues to show that this band always had something to say and they deliver their diatribe with passion. ‘Cult Of Personality’ ends a pretty much dream set from a band I never thought I would get to see.
As they leave the stage Doug announces they will be at the merch stand to sign anything that is put in front of them. If we weren’t getting up at 5 am to catch a plane to America we would’ve stayed for a chat, but tonight was about seeing Living Colour play live…job done.
A delayed flight from Manchester is soundtracked by Junkyard, Prince and The Foo Fighters along with the highly enjoyable new Alien film and the quirky Colossus starring Anne Hathaway, a film that is much better than it sounds in the plot.
We change flights at Atlanta and miss our connection. As we fly over diminutive estates of identical houses that look like monopoly pieces scattered between the miles of lush, green trees, I realise I forgot to load the phone with music, so the soundtrack to Minneapolis comes courtesy of a Ryan Hamilton & The Traitors live album and a Juliette Lewis EP on shuffle.
We have been up since 5am UK time, that’s 19 hours and counting, I wonder if we’ve flown over Butch Walker’s house?