Alice Cooper must be one of a very rare breed in rock ‘n’ roll. Having now written and released music across seven different decades, I bet if you polled his fanbase for their favourite era or albums, the results would probably encompass most, if not all, of his many different career phases.

 

Me personally, I love the original Alice Cooper band albums (along with some of his mid and later era albums like ‘Special Forces’ and ‘Dirty Diamonds’) and of those records, it’s ‘Killer’ and ‘School’s Out’ that are my own go-to’s whenever I truly need to rekindle my love of Alice’s extensive back catalogue.

 

This rather conveniently brings me to ‘Detroit Stories’, an album that not only sees Alice return to his hometown and Alice Cooper band era roots, but also sees him fully reunited with producer Bob Ezrin, the man behind the desk for both of those old Alice Cooper band records I love so much.

 

Written and recorded using only Detroit based musicians (albeit with the exception of guest guitarists Joe Bonamassa and current AC band mainstay Tommy Henriksen) the fifteen songs that make up ‘Detroit Stories’ are what Alice himself refers to as being ‘Pure Detroit’. With the crack team of musicians assembled around him boasting the likes of Wayne Kramer (guitarist with the MC5), Johnny ‘Bee’ Badanjek (drummer with the legendary Detroit Wheels), Paul Randolph (legendary Detroit jazz and R&B bassist) as well as the Motor City Horns, they all help to build on the formula that Alice first tested out with his 2019 ‘Breadcrumbs EP, and in turn are all helping him create perhaps his most diverse set of (luney) tunes in quite some time.

 

As with ‘Breadcrumbs’ a few of these songs turn out to cover versions, like the excellent album opener – Alice’s version of Velvet Undergrounds’ ‘Rock And Roll’. However, what Alice does here (unlike with the covers that he does with Hollywood Vampires) is he really makes this song sound like one of his own. I mean you could be forgiven for thinking that ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll’ is actually an Alice song, or that it was at perhaps written just for him.

 

‘Go Man Go’ is the album’s first Cooper co-write and having been originally included on the aforementioned ‘Breadcrumbs’ EP the almost punk-like swagger of this tune might actually come as something of a surprise to some of Alice’s more hard rock biased fans who are yet to hear that EP, however knowing just how many punk rockers were originally influenced by Da Coop it’s great to hear him re-engaging with that rougher 70s spirit once again.

 

Likewise, ‘Our Love Will Change The World’ is also something of a surprise – not least because it’s a pretty faithful retelling of a 2008 penned Outrageous Cherry tune – and as such it sounds not much like Alice and much more like a latter day John Lennon song, one that bounces around on an optimistically youthful refrain. Some AC fans have already voiced their dislike of this song since it was first aired back in late 2020, but I like it as it fits perfectly within the jigsaw puzzle of songs that make up the complete ‘Detroit Stories’ picture.

 

‘Social Debris’ is up next and that finds us very much back on more familiar Alice Cooper band territory (featuring as it does Messrs Dunaway, Smith, and Bruce), albeit I just can’t get out of my head how much this could be a song written for an in his prime Ace Frehley. And talking of KISS on ‘$1000 High Heel Shoes’ AC once again proves that anything Starchild can do he can do better, as this delicious funky soul jam has seemingly already earned the moniker of one of the oddest songs Alice has ever recorded…well it is I suppose if all you have ever heard by AC is ‘Poison’ or ‘Trash’.

‘Hail Mary’ and the 2021 reboot of ‘Detroit City’ (originally on Alice’s 2003 ‘Eye’s Of…’ album and featured again on the ‘Breadcrumbs’ EP) return things to Alice’s more modern day upbeat hard rock territory before the sleazy blues jam of ‘Drunk And In Love’ and the high kicking ‘Independence Dave’ both once again usher in the anything goes attitude of those ‘70s Ezrin produced albums I mentioned earlier.

 

The Cooper, Dunaway, and Ezrin penned ‘I Hate You’ is another fantastic sonic curveball, as is the almost showtunes-y ‘Wonderful World’. Both tracks giving the mid-section of ‘Detroit Stories’ a couple more “WTF” moments (and I do mean that in the most positive sense too).

 

As ‘Detroit Stories’ enters its final four chapters the inclusion of MC5’s ‘Sister Anne’ and Bob Seger’s East Side Story’ are the only times when I’m left thinking that perhaps they were best just left on ‘Breadcrumbs’, largely because the original Cooper tunes that they bookend in ‘Don’t Give Up’ and ‘Shut Up And Rock’ just sounds so much more interesting. It’s the only tiny gripe that I have with ‘Detroit Stories’ though, as four years on from ‘Paranormal’ and with everything else going on across the world right now it’s just an absolute joy to get to grips with such an upbeat and positive sounding Alice Cooper record.

 

Oh, and talking of ‘Paranormal’ if you are fortunate enough to get one of the expanded formats of ‘Detroit Stories’ you will also find a DVD or Blu-ray copy of Alice’s A Paranormal Evening at the Olympia Paris’ concert film included as part of your package, as the great man wants us to experience this show in the safety of our homes. A truly wonderful gesture from an artist who with ‘Detroit Stories’ is proving he is still one of the greatest storytellers the rock world has ever had.

 

Long live Alice Cooper!

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Author: Johnny Hayward

It might’ve taken 20 years but here it is: the original line-up of The Flaming Sideburns unleashes a brand new album “Silver Flames”. It can be seen as a follow-up to their now legendary debut “Hallelujah Rock’n’Rollah”, which was released two decades prior in 2001.

“Silver Flames” is an album nobody expected to happen. Most certainly it’s out of time and out of place in 2021 but that has never stopped the Flaming Sideburns on their mission. Instead, they launch a rock’n’roll assault at full throttle.

It’s all there from straight-ahead rockers (“Silver Flame”, “Searching Like a Hyena”) to deep psychedelia (“Niburu”, “Reverberation”) and from classic rock (“A Song for Robert”) to pop-tinged choruses (“Perfect Storm”, “Cast out my Demons”). The album is wrapped up by “Trance-Noché” and its unusual combination of Latin American madness and Arctic hysteria — topped with the lyrics en Español.

 

 

Pre-orders have started. Digipak CDs, regular black vinyl, and limited crystal clear vinyl edition available HERE

Racism and homophobia, homelessness and job loss, fear-mongery, anxiety, and suicide. These are not new words, but along with ‘Pandemic’, are these the keywords that we will look back on to describe the year 2020? One thing’s for sure, there’s been a lot of relevant music released so far this year that seems to fit the lockdown vibe, but you need look no further than Bob Vylan for the ultimate reaction and the perfect soundtrack to the new normal.

‘We Live Here’ was actually recorded in 2019 and is self-released because the music industry won’t touch them with a barge pole. Even radio and magazines cite them too extreme, and fair play, this 8 track EP from the London duo Bobby Vylan and Bobb13 Vylan is 18 minutes of uneasy listening, but it is also essential listening.

 

A mash up of grime and punk rock, ‘We Live Here’ pulls no punches from the very first pulsating beats until a cheerful girl signs off at the end of the last track, telling us not to forget that “the Queen killed Diana”!

My first introduction to Bob Vylan was the single ‘We Live Here’. It is one of the most brutal, hard-hitting tunes I have heard in a long time. A sloppy Slaves-esque guitar riff, frantic rhythms and a diatribe of childhood racial abuse, delivered with the rage of a lion and power of a ten-ton hammer coming down on a balsa wood Houses of Parliament. It’s no coincidence that Bobby is sporting a Crass t-shirt in the video, this is politically-charged punk rock 2020, and utterly essential listening.

Police brutality is covered in the hardcore ‘Pulled Pork’. A song that channels Rage Against The Machine and Body Count to great effect. You want edgy? Well, this is teetering on the edge of the fuckin precipice, bruthas and sistas! And the skulking beast that is ‘Lynch Your Leaders’ could very well incite you to do just that with its hypnotic beats and deep, thought-provoking lyricism.

You just can’t ignore Bob Vylan. This is life through the eyes of black working-class youth, an angry mouthpiece for generations of black minorities that have suffered prejudice in the same country they were born in.

“I can’t breathe, just leave me alone” screams Bobby on the fear and anxiety induced trip through the London underground that is ‘Northern Line’. Scarily, it mirrors recent events more than the writer could have ever imagined.  Then ‘Save Yourself’ offers retribution before blasting into a 2 minute brutal assault on the senses. It’s the last song proper before ‘Moment Of Silence’ literally gives you breathing space to digest the Bob Vylan experience.

 

This is an album that needs to be heard, a wakeup call that is loud and clear. It crosses genres and it crosses classes. Like the musical equivalent of LiveLeak, it’s what the ‘powers that be’ don’t want you to hear, what they don’t want you to feel or act on. This is the sound of the streets, the true punk rock and the most relevant collection of songs you will hear all year.

You won’t hear it on the radio, you won’t be able to stream it on Spotify, but you can buy it directly from the band on their own Bandcamp page. I strongly suggest you get clicking right away!

Buy ‘We Live Here’ Here

Author: Ben Hughes

 

 

 

It’s all gone a bit Bob Mould bonkers this last month what with the post Husker Du reissues and Box set bonanza and this here new album. Solo album number fourteen if I’m not mistaken has seen him go from the darkness of ‘Black Sheets Of Rain’ to his last offering ‘Sunshine Rock’ covering just about everything in between the polar opposites.

‘Blue Hearts’ see that sunshine hidden behind some pretty dark clouds from the crackle of the opening acoustic Mould certainly does wear his heart on his sleeve as he pulls no punches.  Government, Climate change its a sad portrait he paints but one that can’t be denied or refuted. From there on the guitars are turned up to eleven and the ‘Next Generation’ crashes in.

Sure it’s familiar territory but I kinda like it when Bob Mould is raging against the machine.  Like being hit on the temple by a wrecking ball, Mould gives his guitar one hell of a seeing to as he doesn’t go gently into the night.  But wait it gets darker, ‘American Crisis’ is as angry as I can remember him Husker Du and Sugar included. Regan Bush and now Trump there seems to be an ever lasting conveyor belt of shit rolling through the white house doors and Sub two and a half minutes punk rock with a dark melodic chorus is the only thing that can save us. It’s crushing.  Pausing momentarily in the middle for breath (Not).

Fourteen songs mean its not anywhere near prog lengths for each number as one crashes into the other like a stormy sea its wave after wave as your senses get pummeled with each track devouring the last but there is respite with acoustic guitars being abused on ‘Forcast Of Rain’  even with its church organ sarcastically filing ever corner of darkness with more darkness its bleak and depressing but it isn’t if you know what I mean.

I don’t know if I should admit to being pleased that Mould is pissed off or disappointed with the wider world because it brings out the beast in his songwriting and this has been the case here.  He voices his disappointment at the state of the US at religion at the fact that man in the western world doesn’t seem to learn from its mistakes and as he roars “never thought I’d see this bullshit again” yet here he is. It’s fair to say Trump won’t ever see Mould wearing one of his trucker caps nor waving a patriotic flag at a rally any day soon.

‘When You Left’ sounds like a one-take number as Bob tries to break his voice it does mellow (did I just say mellow) I mean ease up a little on the next couple of tracks maybe Bob thought we needed to catch out breath and he’d be right.

I bet Bob’s guitar amps all go to eleven, it sounds like they do and it must be exhilarating to listen to the playback in a good studio as he wrestles to control the feedback on ‘Baby Needs A Cookie’.

The fact that this came out the same day Idles released their new album I think it’s safe to say that alternative guitar music is in safe hands.  Men who give a shit are standing on a mountain raging against the pricks and I like it.

It might be brand new but I already love it.  Don’t ask me in a month I love it here and now and it’s just what I need to hear every time I turn on the news I’m disappointed and I find myself shouting at the interviewers to hold the politician’s feet a little closer to the fire and I wish one day the powers that be will tell the truth or be a little honest or humble but until then I’m getting behind people like Bob Mould because they can turn that rage into something quite beautiful.  ‘Blue Hearts’ is Bob Mould doing what he excels at just at the right time. Anger is an energy and energy is something Bob Mould has in spades – come to think of it anger is something he’s pretty bloody good at as well – Exquisite record.

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Author: Dom Daley

Let’s not hang about here ‘War’ is the sound of bombs dropping from the sky and panic on the streets. Idles are on it and as a unit won’t be stopped by conventional weapons or pandemics it would seem.  Taking it to the next level after the joy of the Glasto performance and it would seem being taken into the bosoms of the press beast and being hailed as the saviours of alternative post-punk rock and roll all by themselves. Idles have taken it in their stride and just gotten on with it, seemingly oblivious as to the outpouring of adulation currently being heaped upon them.

I liked ‘Brutalism’ and I liked what they offered as the next step on ‘Joy As An Act’ so it was with an intake of breath I pressed play on this their third long-player as the band lock-in and pour out what is inside them onto the black grooves.

 

Frontman Joe Talbot says of “Grounds”: “We wanted to write a song that embodied self-belief, and gave us self-belief – a counter-punch to all the doubt we build up from all the noise we so easily let in. We wanted to make the sound of our own hearts’ marching band, armed with a jackhammer and a smile. We wanted to make the sound of our engine starting. So we did. Thank you.”  Talbot sounds like he knows the score. top tune and instantly recognisable and more honed in, more finely tuned.  Sounds like they know exactly where they’re going with this lark.

If you thought the band had hit the peak on ‘Joy’ and the worm might turn from here on in, well, think again this album is more vibrant, focussed and raging than the previous offerings.  Across all twelve songs, there is a brutality as the band continues the social commentary of their past work, with themes of class, gender inequality, nationalism, community, and toxic masculinity and empowerment and ultimately fighting back.  Its not preachy it poignant and informative that there are people who think just like you!

 

Produced by Nick Launay (Nick Cave, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Arcade Fire) and Adam ‘Atom’ Greenspan (Anna Calvi, Cut Copy), ‘Ultra Mono’ sounds huge. The album also features guest vocals from Jehnny Beth (Savages), and additional guest contributions from Warren Ellis (Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds), David Yow, and Jamie Cullum like it needed any.

The constant touring sounds like it has galvanised the band and they’re locked in as one and the twists and turns of the opening few tracks are epic and brutal but quite beautiful as well.

Safe it isn’t but I’m sure there will be a hipster backlash along anytime soon saying something along the lines of them selling out or commercial this and that and not being the same anymore (not with these lyrics).  Tosh, I say this is where they’ve been striving to get for the last two albums and this is excellent.  Even after a few plays I’m easily enjoying it as much as the previous offerings if not more due to the production and songs being a lot tighter.

I’ve not read any of the reviews yet but I’ve seen the comments to the videos released so far and I like it and it would seem so do the punters (those that matter anyway).  Hopefully when all this pandemic strife is sorted and we can get back to live music being a thing I’m sure these songs will take on a new life as they get performed and dissected more by the public as we break them in.

 

Its a pummeling album and songs like ‘Mr. Motivator’ has taken things to the next level without a doubt.  I’m sure reviews will champion them as the soundtrack to the revolution, Well, the likes of the Guardian and Mirror will and The Mail will hate it. Fuck em!  This album is demanding another spin and I’m already liking it a lot “How D’you like them cliches?”.  To be honest,  Idles have managed to create music that is pretty much universally recognisable which is always a bonus and something bands strive to achieve – sure they borrow bits here and there who doesn’t but the magic when they are in full flight is awesome.

Ultimately ‘Ultra Mono’ is a document of its time and a bloody good one at that.  They look destined to get bigger and bigger.  From their Rebellion Festival appearance to their Glasto triumph and now this release and the raft of enormadomes they will play once it’s safe to do so is proof that alternative music is alive and kicking and screaming.

Crack on Idles I love it.  Some will love join me – some just won’t get it and others will shy away because they’re too popular. fuck that if you can’t love ‘Anxiety’ then why not? Talbot hits the nail on the head lyrically and when he states our government does hate the poor he means it but not to be cool or trendy but because it matters and people need to wake up maybe this is the sound of the fightback.

It’s not all crash, bang, wallop mind.  Well, I say that ‘Kill Them With Kindness’ has a polite intro before Talbot barks his best Iggy Pop. ‘Carcinogenic’ has a lovely throbbing bassline as does ‘Reigns’ as they push the envelope a little further again. A dozen songs later and I’m thinking that Idles have penned a classic of its kind it’s easily their best twelve songs thus far (no seriously) Check it out.  Stream it (if you have to) buy it on tape if you’re hip but turn the volume up for others to hear and sing along. ‘Ultra Mono’ might only have just been born but it sounds like a band has grown in stature and become a real force to be reckoned with – alternative music always needs bands like Idles so let’s enjoy them here and now – Buy it!

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Author: Dom Daley

Strange… when I was assigned this album to review, I was vaguely familiar with the band and went to check out a couple of the early songs released from the album. I wasn’t blown away by them at the time. With that said, I approached the album with some apprehension, even knowing the members of the band have a wealth of greatness among them. It turns out I was either in the wrong frame of mind to hear the early songs, or they did not necessarily immediately translate in the video format to me. At the end of the day, this has become a very enjoyable album for me, which sounds fresh, even if it channels its sound from the glorious nuggets of the past.

Perhaps the difference in how this album came to life for me is the brilliance of opening song ‘Coat-Tailer,’ which I had missed on YouTube. The tasteful group vocals that open it with the classic feeling rock n roll guitar that is buoyed by the piano perfectly set the table for the album. The harmonies are outstanding, and there are multiple lines in the song that will get stuck in the listener’s brain. The guitar solo by Elliot Easton is right on the spot. Second song ‘Remember Days Like These’ features Ringo Starr and is a song that I have a feeling I will like more down the line. It has been a slow grower so far and really reminds me more of something Phil Spector would have produced. The band gets right back into the classic rock n roll vibe with ‘Well, Look at You’ featuring some great horns and a killer chorus. Wally Palmar’s smooth vocals are perfect for this music. They continue to mix things up with the bluesy ‘Jonathan Harker’s Journal.’ The sound effect laden intro suits the opening guitar perfectly. The rhythm work of Clem Burke (drums) and Andy Babiuk (bass) is razor tight and establishes an awesome groove. The vocal work here is awesome as well, especially throughout the chorus.

The up tempo ‘Sometimes Shit Happens for a Reason’ once again takes us back to a classic rock feel with a song that should feature on a cool indie romantic comedy. This song reminds me of everyone from John Cafferty to the rocking side of the Texas Tornados to the light hearted side of Bruce Springsteen such as ‘Glory Days.’ At this stage, this is probably my favorite song on the album. Follow up song ‘The Best That I Can’ keeps the rocking going but suffers in the shadow of the previous song for my tastes. Each member gets a chance to show off their musical chops here. Much like ‘Remember Days Like These,’ I think this one will benefit as the album gets more and more plays in the time to come. ‘If I Could Change Your Mind’ roars in as another nuggets style rocker that features more brilliant vocals by Palmar. This is another brilliant slice of poptopia that should receive a ton of plays on Little Steven’s Underground Garage.

‘Come On and Try It’ was one of the songs I heard before listening to the album, and it still really does not grab me. I think part of it is that refrain of ‘nah nah nah nah’ just feels repetitive in this rocker.  In the context of the album, I like it better, but this is not likely to be a song that I seek out to play on its own.  The ballad ‘The World as we Know It, Moves on’ definitely works better for me as a great change of pace song with some tasteful backing vocals in the chorus. It is also one that does not overstay its welcome either. ‘The Haunting of the Tin Soldier’ settles into a midtempo feel which features some great drum work by Burke but still one of the ones that doesn’t fully grab my soul.

The closing group of the album starts with the attitude filled ‘Death by Insomnia.’ The harmonica work here adds a great feel to the song with the slow bluesy groove designed to get the body moving. This is another one of my early favorites from the album. ‘The World’s Gone Insane’ was another song I heard on YouTube prior to the album, and I like it much more here. The rocking tempo serves to get the album in full rock n roll mode again with a classic feeling riff. The chorus is simple but hooky. I cannot see it ever being my favorite on the album, but it is one I look forward to hearing when I play the album. The closer ‘Indigo Dusk of the Night’ is also the longest song on the album with its acoustic introduction immediately different from everything else on the album. The lyrics paint a picture that you can experience throughout all of your senses. Musically, this one could sit on the Beatles ‘White Album’ and really makes a great finale to the album. The added instrumentation as the song moves forward is terrific, and I imagine it will sound even better on headphones. The closing of a door then ends the record.

This album really provided me with a nice surprise and hit that nuggets sweet spot while still sounding current and fresh. I am very glad that I did not let the first song or two I heard ahead of the full album form my impression of the whole record. This album will be receiving a lot of plays, and I anticipate several songs from the album will make their way onto monthly playlists of mine in the future.

‘The Second Album’ is available now. Buy Here

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Author: Gerald Stansbury

It’s been over a decade since I first discovered that even when Mommy Sez No you can still get your musical kicks from a trashy, crypt-cool beat combo souring airwaves with its self-soiled brand of “Spook ‘n’ Roll.”

 

 

From debut splatter platter, ‘Hotwaterburnbaby’, via the putrid poetry of follow-up, ‘Eeeeeeeeep!!!’, to the 2-4-5 Trioxin-addled new album, ‘The Dwellers Below’, the Saint Paul, Minnesota ghouls Mommy Sez No have traversed the gutters and gateways of the punk rock underground for so long that you’d probably be excused for thinking that this was a band destined to be stumbled across when lovingly fingering your wholly unfashionable physical media collection; the cobwebs blown from a disc or two decaying in the creepy corner labelled ‘Where Are They Now?’ But, no – this six-legged monstrosity (Jeff Arndt on guitar and vocals; Alex Smith on drums; Thomas White on bass) is back in the hunt; better, stronger, faster than it was before.

 

 

Okay, the enhancement might not be bionic, but it’s by some other ungodly advancement that finds the horror punk veterans kicking lumps out of the opposition with a thirteen-track (what else?!) long player that, actually, doesn’t play for that long given its frenetic pace, but oozes with a gooey, unexpected slap of, dare I say it, maturity.

 

 

Looking cooler-than-thou wearing its wraparound artwork skin courtesy of fellow Minnesota mayhem maker, artist Bill Hauser (creator of many a striking punk rock album cover), ‘The Dwellers Below’ takes the lowbrow splatter punk of Mommy Sez No out of the garage and into, well, at least the garage forecourt. With better production, better artwork, better just about everything to be honest, this is the band’s most accomplished work to date… but fear not horror punk purists, this record is still a wretched hive of scum and villainy.

 

 

From opening cut, ‘Take Me To The Hospital’, to the power ballad, ‘Maggots In Yer Guts’, via the chaos of ‘Hahahahahahaha’, Mommy Sez No is still as subtle as a killing spree and as manic as a final girl chase scene. The big difference is that the band doesn’t stumble at all throughout the entirety of this album.

 

 

Even when introducing more straight-ahead rock ‘n’ roll strut to the tracklisting with the likes of ‘Lil Bit Of Voodoo’, ‘Rock And Roll Death Patrol’ and the alternate reality KISS riff-led ‘Uh Oh… I Think…’ the band still has that unnerving way of making the listener feel like they need a good wash after partaking in an auditory exercise; the songs to die for (possibly literally) rather than a diversion.

 

 

The aforementioned artwork may give off a sense of the post-apocalyptic (doesn’t everything these days?!) but the album still has a hoof or two in the band’s tried, tested, and tortured peculiar amalgam of straight-to-video horror and no-budget punk rock… except there is a budget these days, but that shouldn’t put you off; think the upgrade from The Evil Dead to Dead By Dawn – better everything, but with that same, fierce independent spirit. ‘The Dwellers Below’ is a crazed, ass-kicker of an album that will easily force its way into my Top Ten albums list of a crazy, asshole of a year. Recommended.

 

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Author: Gaz Tidey

Seemingly untouched by the global crisis as much as any passing trend, Billy Childish continues to swell his catalogue at an amazing rate. After CTMF’s ‘Last Punk Standing’, comes the first of four albums by his latest project, The William Loveday Intention. Yes; four albums, already in the can. Joined by James Taylor and Dave Tattersall, “People Think…” has the flavour of a western-themed record. The Medway Delta is augmented by tales from the saddle, while Billy’s voice remains firmly in the Kent marshlands.

 

The production is lush, as befits the ‘widescreen’ feel of most of the songs here. Violins and mariachi trumpets enhance songs like ‘My Love For You’, which has the richness of The Urban Voodoo Machine, while ‘Again And Again’ and ‘This Wondrous Day’ reminds me of Dan Sartain’s recent ‘Blue Prairie’ album, though I imagine that Billy has cast an influence on them already.

 

The richer sound suits the songs and the cinematic feel throughout, but there are still the Lo-Fi elements you’d expect; the insistent, monotone keyboard riff of the title track, which manages to name check Kylie Minogue, and the fiddle led lament of ‘The Bitter Cup’.

 

I’m guessing that it’s Julie singing on ‘You’re The One I Idolise’, though I don’t have all the details to hand. A sweet song that echoes some slower T Rex tunes. Then there’s the skeletal blues riff of ‘My Father Was A Railroad Man’, one of the oldest riffs, that John Lee Hooker must have heard as a child.

 

This is an interesting side-step from Billy, and bears repeated listens. What the next three albums will bring, only he knows, but this is very promising.

Damaged Goods Records

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Author: Martin Chamarette

If you were looking for a touring buddy or reference comparison for Dirty Fences I’d have to go for Los Pepes because both write upbeat, melodic, punk rock n roll songs that are full to bursting with catchy tunes and they churn them out with consummate ease or at least that’s how they make it appear.

 

This the third release from the NY combo is thirteen tunes from the recess of the Fences minds and something of a compilation of what they sum up as fondest memories and strange melodies and they’re not far wrong but the one abiding feeling I have after I play a Dirty Fences record or it crops up on a playlist is – Damn, what a tune and this is no exception from the runaway grinfest of the opening track and absolute Banger ‘Sid’ I’m lost in the music. But wait it’s not all bish bash bosh! as the laid back and a more dreamy affair that is ‘Kings Cross’ is nestled in neatly on side one. But wait the more ’80s inspired ‘Judy (Don’t Go)’ reminds me of an XTC melody even if XTC never sounded this daring or punchy.

Clearly The Bruddas are a big influence on bands all over the globe but the great bands that have some Ramones running through their DNA rather than ape Joey and co and you can add The Fences to the list of those who have some of that skill and craft in their DNA and touch on the melodies that Dee Dee might have penned and their influences are deeper like the acoustic-driven ‘Tommy & CC’.  There’s a great guitar lick workout going on via the down n dirty ‘High School RIP’  but I must admit to really liking the mellow Dirty Fences like ‘I’m Here’ just as much as the punk rock ‘n’ bop of ‘Teen Angel’ which just goes to make for a varied melting pot of Rock and Roll and yet another excellent release from a really really good band.  I know its only rock and roll but I love it! When the USPS sort themselves out I’m having myself one of those Mint Green Blob and neon purple splatter records they look awesome. That is if there are any left once the world catches on to some Dirty Fences.

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Author: Dom Daley

With a brand new box set ready for release we thought we’d catch up with Boys legend Matt Dangerfield and ask him about his time on Safari Records as we look back on the time the Boys went down to a four-piece and all things Safari. I also ask what’s next for one of the finest bands ever to come out of the United Kingdom.

 

How was it revisiting the Safari catalogue of releases?  Did it bring back fond memories?

Yes it did. Best of all was listening to the “Hell” tracks because this is the first time that it’s sounded good on CD. CDs didn’t exist when the album was released, and later when the first CD version came out it sounded like over-compressed shit. All subsequent CD releases of “Hell” were copied from that CD so I feel sorry for anyone who bought any CD copies of “Hell” prior to this release.

 

Were there any songs from the ‘To Hell’ record that you have since revisited during remastering changed how you feel about them? I’ll admit I’ve not played the records for a while and when the news came through about the box set I have since given them a good listening to and there are parts of songs that jumped out at me that I feel I previously missed or had forgotten.  Was this the same for you?

Very much so. For the reason I just mentioned, I couldn’t bring myself to listen to “Hell” on CD since the last century! So listening to it now for me is almost like hearing it for the first time and it all sounds fantastic from start to finish! We still usually include four of the songs in our live set: “Can’t Hurt a Memory”, “Terminal Love”, “See Ya Later” – and we use “Sabre Dance” as our intro music.

 

I loved reading your notes along with the specific song playing and was surprised to see you wrote lyrics on the way to the studio, and I chuckled at the thought of it happening due to studio time and schedules, etc did you not ever get worried you wouldn’t come up with anything?  Out of this process what would you say were your best lyrics?

Well, that was mainly in the early days when we weren’t given much studio time and I was working on two or three songs at a time. But generally speaking, I’ve always responded well to deadlines and would often leave things until they really need to be done and then work like Hell. There’s nothing like a deadline to focus the mind.

 

Your notes for ‘Waiting For The Lady’ and the Beatles reference I hadn’t really put it together previously but ‘Independent Girl’ has a real Lennon feel to it. Some of the harmonies throughout ‘To Hell’ have a certain Lennon and McCartney feel is that fair? They were obviously an influence but more so that album (Not that The Beatles would have sounded like you guys they weren’t that good) 😉

Flattery will get you nowhere, but thanks anyway! The backing vocals on “Waiting for The Lady” in particular, were Beatles inspired. But we were inspired by lots of bands and all the music that we grew up within the 60s which was a great era for musical creativity and innovation.

 

Who Owns The ‘Junk’ tapes now? How complete was the ‘Junk’ album? How does the process go with masters? If you didn’t own them the label did but they didn’t own the songs did they? If they weren’t finished,  Could you have gone away – changed a lyric here or a title there and released it anyway?  How involved were you with the day to day business of the band and management and label?

The ‘Junk’ tapes are just the rough monitor mixes on cassette from Rockfield Studios that I took away with me to work on ideas, lyrics etc. with the intention that we would come back and complete the album there. But after NEMS didn’t pay the studio and Rockfield wouldn’t release the two-inch tapes, we finally lost our patience with NEMS and went on strike for a few months until they eventually let us go. Our manager, Ken Mewis, generally dealt with the label, promotion and tour bookings, but we took care of the creative and recording side of things.

 

How do you look back on the time spent On Safari!?

We had a great relationship with Safari, which was basically John Craig and Tony Edwards. Two great guys who did all the right things for us in terms of albums, tours etc and generally looked after us and gave us the freedom to be creative. What more can you ask for as a band?

 

I always loved the cover of ‘Boys Only’  whose idea was that?

The designer was John Gordon (I fished out the original vinyl copy to get that detail) who was responsible for the concept. All I remember that it was our longest and most tiring photo session ever and took a whole day to get all the necessary pics.

 

Going out as a four-piece was it ever not going to happen?  Did you think around that time that the band was done? What about the recording process, how different was it?

It was different without Cas but we took it in our stride, I knew that the band wasn’t finished and it didn’t feel that much different playing live. Recording was as easy going as ever and John and myself were writing enough songs but we did have to work harder on the backing vocals and harmonies without Cas being there.

 

Would you say that John recording with Pete Stride made him a more confident writer and bandmember?  He brings quite a bit to the table for Boys only and sings on quite a few.  How did you decide who sang what?  are there versions recorded say of ‘Monotony’ with you delivering a vocal and Duncan or was that never done? because you say he (Duncan) sang it live.

Yes, John had become more confident and also had become a better singer. As regards who sang what, I usually only sang the songs that I’d written or written with Cas, and Duncan usually sang John’s and a few Steel/Dangerfield songs that we thought would suit his voice. I think “Monotony” was only ever likely to be sung by John on record.

 

You got to record in some iconic studios such as Rockfield, Pye and Olympic were you aware of your surroundings at the time?  Was there a favourite? or a particular song you look back on that you really nailed because of where you were.  Rockfield had the toilet at the end of the hallway with a mic in the hall did you ever apply such techniques?

Yes, I was definitely chuffed to be using the same studios where some of my favourite tracks had been made. Rockfield/Dave Edmonds/Sabre Dance; Pye/The Kinks etc; Olympic/lots of Stones stuff etc. Rockfield was probably my favourite for its vibe because you also lived there and could totally concentrate on the recording. “Brickfield Nights” was definitely ‘nailed’ there.

 

When the band gets back to playing live is there a chance some of the more obscure tracks might creep into the set?  You mention songs like ‘Little White Lifeline’ and its solo would sound great live.

We sometimes slip in a lesser known track. We do “Lifeline” at acoustic gigs sometimes but without the solo, because even straight after recording that solo, I was never able to play it again.

 

When you have writing credits say like on ‘Schoolgirls’ Cas yourself and John how do you decide who gets on the credits?

It’s usually decided on the spot – if anyone added anything of substance to the song they’d get credit.

 

Changing up songs like ‘Kamakaze’ in the style of VU for ‘Jap Junk’ whose idea was that and was this done on any other songs because it’s quite a departure the saxophone is great on the single mix

The minimalist drums were my idea of a tribute to the Velvets, who first opened my eyed to punk, and I think we’d always had it in mind to get a sax on the song.

 

How many more tapes might there be with the likes of ‘Cry Tomorrow’ on them? Fantastic stuff, maybe another acoustic album is on the cards with some of the rare tunes mixed with the more popular ones you did on the acoustic album. a live acoustic album recorded at Rebellion because a couple of acoustic sets were fantastic from the pubs almost acoustic stage and then the opera house were real highlights?

Well those tapes turned up out of the blue, so who knows what else might turn up. We may consider another acoustic album – it’s a lot easier to make than a full studio album, as is a live album.

 

The band always did great covers are there any you think would have really suited you guys?  Any you worked on that never got recorded?  The other side of it is other people covering The Boys.  Who have you particularly admired any jump out as doing a great job or really getting what the song was about?  Michael Monroe did jimmy Brown and it must always be great when Die Toten Hosen release a covers album and include a Boys Song.

I love Michael’s version of “Jimmy Brown”. I also like the Hosen’s versions of “First Time” and “Brickfield Nights”, and Nicky Sudden’s cover of “Independent Girl”.

 

The live album sounds fantastic,  I’ve always liked the BBC sessions, from some of my favourite bands possibly, because the BBC always had great engineers and their sound recording was top notch and the live ones always sounded so good what are your thoughts on the live album?

Yes, it’s true those Beeb producers and sound engineers were very good and worked very quickly, which really suited us as we generally record fast. I remember that the BBC sound people always seemed to have beards, maybe it was a job requirement.

You illude to it not being your usual audience.  The applause sounds great even after the ‘worm song’ their faces must have been a picture.

They were very polite.

I’ve mentioned it to Steve but it would be great to have these ‘Safari’ recordings as a vinyl set I wouldn’t need my glasses then for the booklet which is great to read your memories of each song.  Did you ever keep diaries or is it just a sharp knack for remembering.  What next for the Boys?  Is there anything left in the archive or what about new material.  ‘Punk Rock Menopause’ was such a great album is there going to be a follow-up?

We’d love to get them out on vinyl and a lot of our fans would love it so who knows?

 

 

“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

Special thanks to Steve Metcalfe for always having The Boys corner and doing a sterling job keeping their flame alive and making running features on them such a pleasure.