Former Tiny Monroe and The Snakes guitar slinger Richard Davies takes centre stage for the first time as principal songwriter and singer with the Dissidents, a band who include Mega City Four/The Snakes drummer Chris Cannon and Last Great Dreamers bassist Tim Emery.

As well as playing guitar for indie band Tiny Monroe in the 90’s, and recording 3 albums with alt country collective The Snakes, Richard Davies has also worked with the likes of Glen Matlock and Peter Perritt as a hired gun, which sure ain’t a bad place to be.

An album that has been a long time coming, ‘Human Traffic’ was recorded last year and deals in retrospective songs of life, love and human nature.

 

If you like your rock ‘n’ roll from the shady side of town, where the nights are so long and starry-eyed girls have that certain shake appeal, then ‘Human Traffic’ will be right up your ally.

The title track gets things off to a power pop start. This is high energy rock ‘n’ roll, with guitars slung low and lyrics from the heart. A stripped-back, ramshackle sound can’t hide Davies’ knack for a catchy melody and ‘Human Traffic’ is first of several tunes to channel Ian Hunter in his prime.

The material is mostly originals from the heart and soul of the main man, with a few choice covers thrown in for good measure. ‘Lay Me Low’ is a traditional Shaker hymn re-worked with ‘Dissident’ style to sound like an outtake from Michael Monroe’s first solo offering. ‘Heartbeat Smile’ is a cover of an Alejandro Escovedo tune, and in the hands of The Dissidents, it’s a rollicking, Stonesy ride with solid beats, Keef style riffs and Mick-like hollerin’. Richard Davies also recalls his past with a new take on the Tiny Monroe song ‘Under The Skin’.

Of the originals on offer, it is hard to pick a favourite, as they are all pretty strong to be fair. Latest single ‘21st Century Man’ is power pop perfection to the max. With hooks you’ll swear you’ve heard before, the chorus is as catchy as the verses are cool. Think Elvis Costello meets The Replacements here, tinny guitars and cowbell give that added retro 80’s alternative feel. It’s a theme that reappears throughout the album. A tinkling of the ivories and spaghetti western guitar twang give ‘Way Of The Wild’ a certain anthemic feel, like The Alarm meets The Psychedelic Furs. A memorable, driving chorus only adds to the appeal for me. And is that Rick Richards jamming with Tom Petty on the ‘(Long Road) To Your Heart’? No, it’s only Richard Davies & The Dissidents jamming it out and putting their heart and soul into their rock ‘n’ roll music. What a tune! It has classic stamped all over it, as guitars riff loosely over a ramshackle beat that builds to a killer chorus.

 

In cool hat, dark shades and brandishing a guitar, Richard Davies emerges from the shadows with an accomplished debut album, choc-a-bloc with rootsy rock ‘n’ roll to soothe the soul.

Why it’s taken him so long to get an album out is anyone’s guess. But hopefully, this is the start of something long and productive, as Richard Davies & The Dissidents have released an album that harks back to simpler times, but still has the tunes and the staying power to match any of the other great rock records released so far this year.

 

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Author: Ben Hughes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It seems like forever when the pre-orders for the new Beach Slang album went up and even with the postage costing more than the record shipped from the States to the UK didn’t put me off ordering my copy but release day saw the download forwarded on whilst the record hit the post office.  A few things first. Beach Slang seems to now be just James Alex and with the elephant in the room being Replacement shaped it seemed like the perfect thing to do in getting Tommy Stinson on board to play bass on the album.  Perfect! I ain’t complaining one bit more power to you James – fill yer boots son and just hurry up. I’m not snobby when it comes to my Rock and Roll life’s too short for that shit and loving The Mats as I do having some upstart come along wanting to emulate his heroes is always a goer for me – good luck to him and the more success and publicity the better maybe that time in the ’80s can be regained in the roaring ’20s.

I’ve loved their ramshackle live performances I’ve been lucky enough to see them twice and both whilst not being anywhere near a religious experience they were excellent shows. The lineup changes could derail any band but with it more or less resembling the work of one man it doesn’t really matter Alex is the CEO, Head Honcho, and the chief bottle washer so that’s fine.  Over the last five years, the world has turned and people have come and gone but Beach Slang has kinda just got on with it.  There has been no great leap forward nor has there been a big sea change in the style it is what it is and that sometimes is exactly what you want. Right now I want Rock and Roll and I want it loud, chaotic, a little sloppy and in your face. open the faders and let ‘All The Kids In LA’ introduce itself before ‘Let It Ride’ takes over “Rock ‘n’ roll’s my favorite sin/Man, I don’t know if I’m good at it/But I’m too in love or dumb to quit” alleluia praise the Lord Lets get it on.

‘Bam Rang Rang’ rocks out. Unashamed and full of bluster I’ve got the horns in the air and one foot on my imaginary monitor Tonight my friends I’m playing second tennis racket to James Alex and riffing off the one and only Tommy Stinson and I’m loving it. Critics come one come all fill yer boots on calling out whats inspired Beach Slang I care not a jot I just want to get my fix and this is doing nicely. ‘Tommy In The ’80s’ is the first time full throttle has been relaxed.  However its not about Stinson but Alex did explain himself here, “I figured if Westerberg could write about Alex Chilton, for all those right reasons, I could write something about Tommy Keene for all the same ones,” sooo there you go it is what it is and I’m cool with it even if Alex goes full hog on his minimalist lyrics (something of a theme on the album) I’m really enjoying what I’m hearing. When the acoustic guitars are out with those lush strings for ‘Nobody Say Nothing’ its time to take stock and a few deep breaths.

I would say that some of the finesse of previous albums has been sacrificed for volume and dare I say it a more meaty assault on the senses like on ‘Stiff’ which lacks any finer points and is going for bludgeoning the listener over the head with guitars rather than stroking your ear.

 

Maybe James Alex has reached the crossroads and it’s here where he draws a line in the sand and its time for people to decide which side they want to be on. Always attracting the haters it’s something of an occupational Hazzard. Fuck ’em, do what makes you happy James and if it’s good enough (and this certainly is) people will jump on board.  I’m saying bring on the haters I’ll just twist the dial a little more and drown them out with the riff-a-rama of ‘Born To Raise Hell’ and if that doesn’t work ‘Sticky Thumbs’ will.

C’mon, if you love Rock ‘n’ Roll, how can you not smile during ‘Kicking Over Bottles’ and tell yourself “Hell Yeah!”.  We all rise for ‘Bar No One’ as Alex signs off with a bleak and dark ode to death. It might not be their best work but it is a head and shoulders above most of what will come out in 2020 and we’ve barely opened the doors on this decade and already a marker has been laid down.

I’m hoping this one will grow and grow as the year unfolds and I keep coming back to it, (I’m loving it already).  James, you just keep being you and keep making records whether it be Quiet or Beach Slang I’ll take it over and over again.

My advice – Listen to it at volume and on a good pair of headphones it’ll be the gift that keeps giving and a maverick like James Alex should be cherished and encouraged to keep on keeping on because Rock and Roll need bands like Beach Slang and songwriters like James Alex.

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Author: Dom Daley

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Joan Marie Larkin better known as Joan Jett was born on this day in.1958. Parents James and Dorothy had their daughter in Pensylvania at Lankenau Hospital  Joan is the eldest of three children. Joan was fourteen when she got her first guitar then her family relocated to California and soon after moving her parents split when Joan took her mothers maiden name Jett and the legend was born after taking in Rodney Birgenheimers Disco where she was exposed to glam rock and nothing would ever be the same again.

Jett teamed up with drummer Sandy West. Jackie Fox, Lita Ford and Cherie Currie and The Runaways were born. Jett was originally the rhythm guitarist and occasional singer but took on songwriting credits the girl group got support slots with the likes of Cheap Trick, Van Halen and Tom Petty and also toured the UK and Japan where they became massive stars. The band managed to fit in five albums in their four-year reign at the second half of the ’70s.

Jett also got into punk rock in the late ’70s producing the Germs one and only album before singer Darby Crash lost his life.  the band also had one Pat Smear playing guitars who later went on to play with Nirvana and the Foo Fighters. Jett managed to team up with Cook and Jones when the Sex Pistols fell apart and managed to get them in the studio to record some classic tracks when in London with the most famous being the version of The Arrows classic ‘I Love Rock And Roll’ which would go on to become the one song Jett would be known for more than any other. after shooting an iconic video to accompany the tune.

When Jett was a solo artist she also added the band The Blackhearts who managed to recruit some class players in the line up over the years but the original included, Gary Ryan (Bass), Ricky Byrd on Lead Guitar, and Lee Crystal on drums. One Track from the early years that has seen itself pop up over the years in loads of films is ‘Bad Reputation’ which appeared on that debut solo album along with the classic ‘You Don’t Own Me’ that also features the Pistols Cook & Jones. It was a record that showed many sides to Jett and what she was capable of performing. the album missed out on entering the Billboard top 50 by one place but it was indeed a start.

 

hot on the heels was the album ‘I Love Rock And Roll’ whilst it never managed to reach the number one spot on the Billboard Charts it has managed an impressive ten million copies sold in its life. it did however spawn the singles ‘Crimson And Clover’ that hit the top ten and Jett had her first number one with the Arrows track that carried the same title as the album.  Jett is known for being happy to put a cover song on her records but this album was 50/50 original songs. Later Jett would pen and produce a lot of her records.

Jett still makes records and released ‘unvarnished’ in 2013 that was co-produced by Foo Fighter Dave Grohl who also co-wrote.  Also, it’s notable that Jett wrote and co-wrote nine of the ten tracks on the record. this time sneaking in the top 50 as well is no mean feat for a rock record. It was also Jetts first album since 2006s ‘Sinner’ and prior to that was the Japanese only album ‘Naked’ which also featured RPM favourite Sami Yaffa on Bass guitar.  Of the sixteen tracks Jett penned thirteen – one was a cover of the Replacements ‘Androgynous’ from their ‘Let It Be’ album.

Jett’s has her own model guitar which is a white Gibson Melody Maker, which she has played on everything since 1977. In 2008 Gibson released the “Joan Jett Signature Melody Maker”. which is some reward for being such an icon, not something Gibson hands out to just anyone. Jett is also happy to talk about animal welfares and is a big supporter of PETA, as she has been a vegetarian for over twenty years and is a supporter of environmental issues.  Still making music and touring Jett continues to play with a biography and an excellent documentary being released last year (entitled ‘Bad Reputation’), as well as continued interest in The Runaways her legacy, will forever be passed down through time as a real pioneer for women in Rock and judged for her music and not who or what she is Joan Jettalong with Debbie Harry are rightfully regarded as legends and all Joan Jett needs now is one of those flunko statues and my work here is done.  Put another (Joan Jett) record on the jukebox baby and raise a glass as we wish Joan Jett a happy birthday and here’s to another year and who knows maybe another album? That would be good.

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Canada does it again I don’t know what they’re putting in the water up there but fuck me sideways they’ve got the rock and roll happening all over the country at the moment no doubt about it and Isolation Party join the, Um, Party!

Post punk power pop with melody and enough Buzzcock vibe going on to reel you in Isolation Party are more than that. Songs like the happy go lucky ‘Fine Lines’ remind me of the trashy elements of The Replacements.  there isn’t much polish going around but the tunes are really hitting the spot.

 

They keep up the trashy power pop noise going on ‘Mr Telephone’ as it hurtles along sounding like when Dando recorded ‘Lick’ but with more melody. The songs are short and oh so sweet with plenty of snot mixing it with New Yorkers Wyldlife and Baltimore’s  Ravagers Isolation Party are the real deal.  The Briefs and The Stitches must have a bearing on Isolation Party’s record collection because they dance to the same beats on tracks like the frantic ‘Pointing fingers’ and how can you not love ‘Sleeves’? for all its trashy drug talk and bittersweet melodies.

Throughout the ten tracks, the band weaves a really enjoyable tapestry of twisted melodies and its very listenable and fairly instant as well. I guess if you have even a mild interest in any of the bands that I’ve referenced then you really should check out Isolation Party because they’ve definitely got the chops and this album is really consistent and most definitely doesn’t fade away and right up to the last chorus of ‘These Things’ I know I’m going to hit repeat and go right back to the beginning and play it all over again.  Great album!

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Author: Dom Daley

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.

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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.

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