Grand Slam set to release debut studio album “Hit The Ground” Released 22ndNovember 2019

Following a critically acclaimed performance at Ramblin’Man Fair 2019, Grand Slam are thrilled to announce a series of UK shows to coincide with the album release, with more to be announced.

UK Tour Dates
Fri 22ndNov – Underworld, London
Wed 27thNov – Robin 2, Wolverhampton
Fri 29thNov – Winter Storm Festival
Tue 3rdDec – Trillians, Newcastle
Wed 4thDec – Eleven, Stoke-on-Trent
Thu 5thDec – Bannermans, Edinburgh

Tickets are available here – https://grandslamrocks.com/live/

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Steelhouse Festival is the annual Welsh Classic Rock Festival situated on top of a mountain in Ebbw Vale, which now in its ninth year, is a little gem of a festival which slowly grows year on year despite its reputation for being generally a bit on the damp side. 

After the particularly wet event last year I was half expecting to see a smaller attendance, but no, still people turned up in their thousands and that is down to the repeatedly great line ups and the sheer friendliness and affordability of this festival, I mean, what other festivals can you go to and get 4 pints for a mere £15! 

Those in attendance were not only rewarded with a whole weekend of glorious weather, but with some great performances across the weekend from both the old stagers and the up and coming bands.

Friday nights entertainment started off with solid sets from both Blackwater Conspiracy (6/10) and The Rising Souls (7/10), but it was local boys Those Damn Crowes (8/10), who despite not being my thing, were the first band to really win over the whole crowd and put in a great performance. 

However Massive Wagons (9/10) a band I have previously described as “sloppy pub rock” took the honours of the day in style. The energy from the stage took the crowd to the next level and sporadic Dad dancing was seen all over the top of the mountain especially as they kicked out the Rick Parfitt tribute ‘Back to the Stack’ and the fantastic set closer of Slade’s ‘Come Feel the Noise’, which saw all the other bands join them for a triumphant sing along. A great way to end day one.

Day two openers Liberty Lies (6/10) didn’t do much for me musically, but it has to said that frontman Shaun Richards is not only a great singer, but also knows how to keep the crowd engaged which some funny in between-song banter. Ryder’s Creed (8/10) however were on a completely different level and looked like 5 guys who had been force-fed Red Bull and Haribo all morning before being unleashed onto the stage. Great catchy tunes and the sheer enjoyment on the band’s faces was just contagious. 

Unfortunately, Hollowstar (5/10) couldn’t follow that, and despite being perfectly competent and getting a good reception from the rest of the crowd sent me to the bar, which is where I stayed for a while causing me to, unfortunately, miss The Wild who I did hear good things about. 

Crobot (9/10) were one of my must-watch bands of the weekend after picking up a copy of their Something Supernatural album 5 years ago and they didn’t disappoint. Kicking off with Legend of the Spaceborn Killer, frontman Brandon Yeagley took to the stage looking like some crazy merman and he didn’t let up for the whole gig, completely owning the stage and in fact the mountain. Tight, heavy, big riffs and catchy choruses, job done! 

After that, I found Gun (8/10) a bit strange. To watch they were a bit dull, but the sheer strength of their songs made their performance work and work well. Watching people drunker than I sing along joyously to the likes of ‘Steel your Fire’, ‘Better Days’ and ‘Taking on the World’ really made me want to go home and dig out those albums again. 

The Temperance Movement (9/10) were my band of the day and had me throwing some hideously drunken shapes from the minute they walked on until the minute they walked off. The standard of musicianship was second to none as they drifted from epic strutting singalongs like ‘Only Friend’ to the stunning Deeper Cut which completely sent shivers up my spine. After that performance, I wouldn’t expect it to be long to see them return as a headliner. 

Thunder (8/10) don’t do bad gigs, and though they didn’t deliver the best gig I have seen them play, still had the crowd eating out the palms of their hands and singing along word for word from the minute they kicked off with ‘Loser’ to the minute they finished with a song I can’t remember due to a long days drinking and enjoying myself! 

The final day was opened up by fellow Cornishmen Willie and the Bandits (8/10) who I felt sorry for as they didn’t get the crowd they deserved due to issues getting into the arena with bag searches. Their laid back Bluesy Rock was the perfect start to the day and was a performance worth far better than their lowly spot on the bill. Sadly the good start to the day came crashing down to earth with The Amorettes (3/10) who frankly looked and sounded like two average bands had been stuck together with cheap sellotape to make one below average band. 

Completely the opposite of that were Tax the Heat (8/10) who returned to the mountain with another great display of slick, stylish rock and roll. Scott Gorham loves this band for a reason, even if he had to berate them for driving too slowly up the mountain! 

The charismatic Mango Kid himself Mr Danko Jones (8/10) brings a blistering set of balls-out garage rock and certainly wins over a legion of new fans. As an old fan, my only complaint was that he missed the golden opportunity to play the track Mountain which would have been perfect for the occasion.

Band of the weekend? Well, that goes to Uriah Heep (10/10) who provided a set of absolute perfection. The sound, the musicianship, Bernie Shaw’s timeless vocals, and Mick Box’s huge smile completely stole the show. How a band soon to be moving into their 50th year can still play gigs sounding this fresh and exciting is beyond me. Happy Daze indeed! 

At one point Corey Glover of Living Colour (8/10) said “who’s idea was it for us to follow Uriah Heep?” and that was the only problem with their set. While perhaps a band that didn’t quite fit in and draw the crowd that the Heep did, Living Colour came on and played superbly for those prepared to listen to them, and bringing out the festival legend Bernie Marsden for a cover of Cream’s ‘Sunshine Of Your Love’ was a masterstroke. 

Closing the whole weekend was then left for Thin Lizzy (9/10) who were celebrating the 40th anniversary of the legendary ‘Black Rose’ album by playing it in its entirety. I was a little sceptical in advance but I have to say Thin Lizzy absolutely smashed it. This was in no small part to a rhythm section made up Mastodon’s Troy Sanders and Judas Priests Scott Travis, who were one of the most impressive I have heard in many years, but for me the star of the show was Mr. Ricky Warwick, who has gone and proved himself time and again to be someone who not only sings the songs of the late great Phil Lynott with style but who almost makes you think that perhaps he was the man who wrote and sang them first time around. No disrespect is meant it that comment, but Ricky Warwick does the job perfectly with the utmost respect and deserves that respect right back. 

With a closing ‘Whiskey in the Jar’ finished off with a great fireworks display Thin Lizzy were the perfect end to an amazing weekend, the only problem now is how are Steelhouse going to top that for their 10th Anniversary?! 

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Author: Nigel Taylor

Founding THIN LIZZY guitarist ERIC BELL will release his new autobiography ‘Remembering – The Autobiography Before During And After THIN LIZZY‘ as Hardback and Audiobook, narrated by ERIC BELL in September via his exclusive Production team of the Edge productions and can pre-ordered here: www.oftheedgeproductions.com

Many years in the writing, this astonishing book, penned by Eric Bell himself, charts the life of one of the most iconic and influential guitarists in contemporary music.

Starting with his early life, details of which few people have ever had access to, this moving autobiography reveals Eric’s discovery of music and chronicles the influences that were responsible for his enduring love of the guitar. His journey culminated in the creation of one of the most loved and successful rock bands in history.

The book details landmark relationships with Van Morrison and Rory Gallagher along with many other legendary musicians. Eric talks about his life-long friendship with Gary Moore and takes you through a moment by moment account of the night that Thin Lizzy was born. Eric remembers a whole world of experiences with Philip and Brian as they planned to take over the world!

Eric shines a light on the chaotic yet meteoric rise of Thin Lizzy with sensational previously unheard stories of life on the road and in the studio. This autobiography uncovers the triumphs and the tragedies that accompanied Eric along the way, and the personal toll that they took, resulting in his dramatic and climactic exit from the band on New Years Eve 1973.

For the first time Eric discloses the struggles in the years that followed and recounts more staggering stories of life on the road in the USA with Jimi Hendrix‘s bassist Noel Redding.
Eric pulls no punches on telling the truth about the good and the bad times.

This emotionally charged and absorbing autobiography is a true and moving testimony of a giant amongst guitarists.

NOW AVAILABLE TO PRE-ORDER A SIGNED COPY FOR SEPTEMBER DELIVERY ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD – Available in Hardback and Audiobook, narrated by Eric Bell: www.oftheedgeproductions.com

What’s that musty smell? Ah yes, it’s emanating from the veritable feast of vintage collectables housed in the Pop Culture Schlock archive. For your delectation today I take you back to the Christmas of 1979; a seminal decade of music about to come to an end and give way to the dawn of a more brash, more brazen ten year period…

 

If you were a good, music-loving boy or girl in 1979 and had a.) done well in school, and; b.) not scratched your big brother’s vinyl, then there was a good chance that you’d find the Rock On! Annual 1980 nestled under the Christmas tree in your modest living room.

 

“The Rock What Annual?” I hear you exclaim, and you shouldn’t be embarrassed at your lack of knowledge on this subject because, truth be told, Rock On! magazine was a short-lived, oft-forgotten publication… if you’d ever heard of it at all.

 

Rock On! magazine debuted with an issue cover-dated May 1978. Debbie Harry featured on its cover and the mag – costing a whole 25p – promised a healthy mix of punk, new wave, heavy metal, and prog rock. It kept its promise too as, over the course of seven eclectic issues, Rock On! dished out features and photo spreads on a dizzying cadre of top musical combos; from Status Quo to Sham 69, The Clash to KISS, Rush to The Rezillos. Meat Loaf graced a cover, Ozzy, too, until Issue 7, with Jimmy Pursey as its cover star, and cover-dated November 1978, when Rock On! disappeared from newsagent shelves. The editorial in that final issue wrote of the outrage of cutting off such a desirable publication in its prime but, if anything, Rock On! was a victim of its own blurring of genre lines: readers seemingly wanting specialist publications dedicated to singular strands of the rock ‘n’ roll world rather than this ambitious crossover style.

 

That final editorial, though, did offer some hope for the future; stating that it was the last Rock On! “in its present form”. Fast forward to around a year later and, in the Autumn of 1979, the true final piece of the Rock On! jigsaw arrived in shops and catalogues to complete the punk ‘n’ prog rocking picture.

With a scorching hot live photo of Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott on the cover, Rock On! Annual 1980 (price – £2.00) may well have been jostling for attention on the shelves alongside big-hitting television and film spin-off annuals, but it certainly looked the most badass. It was, the cover screamed, packed with pictures, facts, and quizzes on your favourite rock bands. It did not disappoint.

 

The heady mix of photo spreads and more in-depth features on select bands really did make Rock On! stand out from its competitors, and this annual amps that angle right up to eleven. The first photo spread was a “Tribute to Vocal Power!!!” (yes, with three exclamation marks) and featured cool live action shots of Joe Strummer, Johnny Rotten, Cherie Currie, Pete Townsend, Willy DeVille, Graham Parker, Joan Jett, and Mick Jagger. A good start, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Next up, a photo diary detailing a “hard band” going “soft” as The Stranglers met their devoted fans, followed by a quartet of stinging live shots of “the band the critics love to hate”, Status Quo. Rock On!’s attitude to those Quo critics could be “summed up in two fingers” readers were informed.

 

With barely a pause for breath, a six-page A-Z of Heavy Metal feature detailed the prime acts in the genre, from AC/DC to, erm, Wishbone Ash. A-W, then. A few curious names in this run-down, too: Prism, Quartz, and Mahogany Rush rubbing shoulders with the expected likes of Whitesnake, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and, a firm favourite on the turntable at RPM HQ, Uriah Heep. A “Heads Down Heavy Metal Quiz” followed: a select question being “On Your Feet Or On Your Knees was a double live album for which heavy metal superstars?”

 

A Ten Years of Genesis feature followed, the first in a series of in-depth essays by John Tobler. His similar two-page spread on the history of Queen followed, as did those dedicated to Thin Lizzy, Blue Öyster Cult, Rush, and KISS. The latter, subtitled “Kings of Shock Rock”, wrote of “the forty foot columns of fire that emit from Gene Simmons’ mouth” and, c’mon, if you were eight years old at Xmas 1979 you had every excuse for then falling head over platform heels in love with the idea of the hottest band in the world.

There was a Rock On! reggae report, a fashion guide of sorts where the Quo’s Rick Parfitt spoke of his love of jeans and Hugh Cornwell of The Stranglers of his love of raincoats (!), a Hi-Fi buying guide, a feature on sound engineers, a top DJ article covering John Peel and Anne Nightingale, plus one-page specials on Peter Gabriel and Ken Hensley of the Heep.

 

A photo spread of Ian Dury swimming (just your seven shots) padded out the pages, but not before an impressive photo set of live Black Sabbath shots appeared, a Star Cars article featuring Steve Jones, Meat Loaf, Midge Ure, and, ominously, Cozy Powell, a “Cult Heroes” feature detailing the likes of Iggy Pop, Nils Lofgren, Todd Rundgren, Tom Petty, and Bruce Spingsteen, and a “Sex ‘n’ Girls ‘n’ Rock ‘n’ Roll” spread featuring Debbie Harry, Joan Jett, Siouxsie Sioux, Linda Ronstadt, Annie Golden, Poly Styrene, Stevie Nicks, and Rachel Sweet.

 

A “That Was The Year That Was” feature dedicated to 1978 was an obvious leftover from the previous year’s magazine and makes for entertaining if a little sombre reading amongst the other genuinely funny articles. Rock On! was a cool magazine, with its tongue firmly in its cheek and its love of a broad range of music at the forefront of any thinking. Your Uber Rocks, your RPMs are all subconscious descendants of Rock On! magazine.

No annual is complete, however, without a pull-out poster section (even if no kid ever dared pull a poster out of an annual!), and Rock On! Annual 1980 does not disappoint in that department. There are pin-ups of the aforementioned Pursey, Rezillos, Dury, Harry, Clash, and Lynott, plus Bob Geldof, Paul Weller, Freddie Mercury, David Lee Roth, Jon Anderson, Elvis Costello, Paul Stanley, and the Buzzcocks. Great photos too.

 

The Rock On! Annual 1980 may well be an uncommon piece in the average music memorabilia collection, but it is certainly a worthy one. Copies turn up on the secondary market relatively cheaply and, yeah, you should pick one up if you get the chance. The Rock On! staff were most certainly music journalist mavericks, and we’ve all tried to go there, right? Search for this precious, rockin’ tome… or you might never know how Rick Parfitt’s aunt ironed his double denim.

 

Thanks for reading, and for the feedback on my first column on the debut Alice Cooper comic. I’ll be back next month with something suitably archaic that the rock ‘n’ roll world tried to forget. Search for Pop Culture Schlock 365 on Instagram, Twitter & Facebook