Back in the late nineties, I had a cassette in my car with all the best songs from the cover-mounted CDs that Kerrang! Magazine gave away. The first song on side 1 of that TDK C90 was ‘Every Little Thing Counts’ by Janus Stark, possibly the most pedal to the metal, anthemic opener anyone driving a Vauxhall Nova could desire back in the day!

Formed by former English Dogs/UK Subs guitarist Gizz Butt, Janus Stark released their mighty fine album ‘Great Adventure Cigar’ in 1997 on Earache records, at that time Gizz was also playing guitar for The Prodigy while they were touring on the back of ‘Fat Of The Land’.

Of course, all good things must come to an end and even something as great as an adventure cigar is not made to last, and Janus Stark sadly split in 2002. Fast forward to 2018 and Gizz decided to reform the band, roping in Richard Gombault of 90’s pop-punk band Midget and friends Fozzy Dixon and Simon Martin. A recent tour with The Wildhearts and The Professionals followed and this leads nicely up to the highly anticipated release of their first album in way too many years entitled ‘Angel In The Flames’.

 

The thing that sets Janus Stark apart from their contemporaries is the fact that Gizz is a shredder. While ‘Angel In The Flames’ is littered with turn of the Century pop punk sensibilities, buzzsaw guitars and full band harmonies, there is a more technical and aggressive element in place thanks to Gizz’s guitar histrionics. Yet, while the lyrics are socially and politically aware, and the riffs crunchy, it’s the melodies that always shine through, they are pure sugar for the soul.

The topical opener ‘Crucify All The Leaders’ sets the scene nicely with harmonies and melodies straight out of the Eureka Machines songbook and sweet picking to match the likes of Vai and Satriani. ‘Last Exit To Change Your Mind’ builds nicely with a cool melody to a signature Gizz Butt chorus that embeds straight into the brain. A power punk chorus that reminds me of Brit Rock contenders Compulsion.

These comparisons continue through the album. Punchy, anthemic choruses abound in the likes of ‘Dead Dead’, and while the 80’s metal riffage that opens ‘Karmageddon’ could easily be mistaken for Quiet Riot or Ratt, that is where any Sunset Strip comparisons end. The melodic hardcore and post-punk roots of the songwriters here shine through and save the day.

‘Some Stars Never Fade’ has great songwriting and sentimentality that bring to mind another long lost nineties favourite of mine Mega City 4. There’s great song dynamics as the chilled verse builds beautifully over picked chords to a rousing, yet passionately delivered chorus that sends shivers down the spine. A killer solo is over in a flash and we return to the anthemic chorus hook. It’s beautifully delivered and a lasting album highlight.

 

2020 is shaping up nicely for the band with a return to live-action that will see Janus Stark travel the length and breadth of the UK through February, March and April for a headline tour of their own. They will surely come within spitting distance of your comfortable abode, so my advice to you is buy this album, dig its glorious sonic sounds then buy a gig ticket… you can thank me later.

Author: Ben Hughes

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One of the albums of the year gets a re-press on Blood Red vinyl for those who missed out on the initial press.  RPM  reviewed it Here and we urge you not to sit on your hands a second time as this will sell out as the first run did.  Go Go Go!
Alvin says, “For all you vinyl junkies that missed out on obtaining my solo album ‘Your Disobedient Servant’ on 12 inch vinyl earlier this year due the initial 300 being sold out in short order, Time & Matter Records have manufactured a new batch of 300, this time on blood-red vinyl and minus the accompanying CD and download code. This release will, therefore, be sold at the lesser price of £17 (the first pressing was priced at £22) and can be ordered from this Here”

It features twelve songs written by yours truly and an array of very talented guest musicians that reads like this: Brian James – The Damned / Lords Of The New Church; Leigh Heggarty – Ruts DC; Mick Rossi – Slaughter & The Dogs; James Stevenson – Generation X / Chelsea / The Cult / The Alarm; Barry ‘Barrington’ Francis – The Saints; Timo Kaltio – Johnny Thunders band/Hanoi Rocks / Cheap ‘N’ Nasty; Mel Wesson – Keyboard player & Ambient music designer – TV Smith’s Explorers/The Verve ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ / U.K. Subs ‘Diminished Responsibility’ LP / Films Mission Impossible 2, Batman Begins, Hannibal etc; Steve Crittall – The Godfathers; Jamie Oliver – U.K. Subs.

“I would advise interested parties to get their orders in sharp to avoid what occurred last time, which was a lot of people missing out due to the speed that the original batch sold at. In fact it was due to so many people voicing their disappointment at not being able to get a vinyl copy in time that persuaded T & M Records to go with this colour-altered second run. For those of you that are not so disposed to a bit of vinyl, there is also a CD version of the album available from the same link. Ta! A x”

Forty years into his career as the number one 4-string plank spanker on the UK punk rock scene you can perhaps forgive Alvin Gibbs the “self indulgence” (his words, not mine) of a solo record. I mean he’s worked with some of the biggest names on the scene during that time, plus he’s also penned some absolutely amazing songs along the way too… and the musician’s modesty aside, I for one was straight out the blocks to order my copy when the pre-order for ‘Your Disobedient Servant’ went live on the T&M Records website just after Xmas. So, why all the rush of anticipation I hear you ask?

Well, the best place to start is with the guest list of musicians that Alvin has assembled to help him make this record. It reads like a veritable who’s who drawn from his expansive career and boasts the likes of Brian James, Mick Rossi, Timo Kaltio and James Stevenson amongst the names eager to offer up their services as Disobedient Servants. It was only the name of Iggy Pop that for me was the real glaring omission, but then when I first got to hear ‘Ghost Train’ the lead single from the album, I had to double-take. Could my jug-likes be deceiving me? That is surely Iggy crooning his way through this belting ‘Instinct’ like rocker, but no…it’s actually Alvin Gibbs, and what a great voice he has too. ‘Clumsy Fingers’ the flipside of that mega limited and long since sold out 7” also proved to be a fun time piece of Iggy influenced garage punk, and these two tracks alone were enough to convince me that this was certainly no vanity project and Alvin Gibbs was possibly about to do a Keef and release a solo album fans of his day job band would be clambering to hear too.

With Alvin having also released one of the best books about being in a rock ‘n’ roll band, the awesome ‘Neighbourhood Threat’ (recently re-released as ‘Some Weird Sin’) written about his time spent playing bass for Iggy Pop. It kinda feels eu natural for ‘Your Disobedient Servant’ to kick off with ‘Arterial Pressure’ a (just shy of 2 minutes long) barnstormer of a track written about how Alvin got to know Joey Ramone through Mr Osterberg.

Next up is the aforementioned ‘Ghost Train’ which here perfectly segues into the equally Iggy -like strut of ‘Dumb’, and right here we have as near a perfect opening 1-2-3 to any album I’ve heard in many a long year. Seriously folks if these tracks were on a new Iggy record the mainstream music media would be spunking their chinos over them.

‘Camden Gigolo’ takes things down an anthemic gear or two before ‘Clumsy Fingers’ speeds off in a frenzy of glam tinged punk rock guitar complete with few week’s road dirt under those nails.

Not unlike Glen Matlock’s excellent ‘Good To Go’ album from the tail end of 2018, where ‘Your Disobedient Servant’ really excels is when it throws you a curveball and in side one closer ‘Heaven And The Angels’ Alvin delivers a menacing slice of southern fried psycho-drama that challenges the listener with each new listen twisting and turning itself into your very soul.

Flipping the record over and side two kicks off with perhaps the most UK Subs like track on ‘Your Disobedient Servant’, the riotous ‘Back To Mayhem’ a track that simply fizzes with raw energy, that’s before the more subtle slide driven ‘Polemic’ takes you on a fascinating trip through what influenced Alvin to get into the music business in the first place.

It’s here that for me the LP flips from the overarching influences of Iggy and garage punk to that of one drawn from the likes of Mott and Bowie with ‘No!’ hinting at latter day Hunter and ‘Desperate Dave Is Dead’ doffing its baker boy cap to one of the young dudes passed all to soon. ‘I’m Not Crying Now’ too has more than just a little bit of cracked acting going on within its grooves, whilst album closer ‘Deep As Our Skin’ hints at just how great Cheap And Nasty might have been if Alvin had been given more a role in front of the microphone.

Having been lucky enough to get a good few preview listens of ‘Your Disobedient Servant’ the immediate thing that leapt out at me was just how much this sounds like a band, not a solo record. So kudos indeed to the real heartbeat of The Disobedient Servants; guitarist Steve Crittall, drummer Jamie Oliver and of course Alvin himself for making this one hell of a riotous rock ‘n’ roll record….and one I just can’t wait to get my finished vinyl copy of.

As I mentioned in the intro to this review ‘Your Disobedient Servant’ is available to pre-order right now via T&M Records on LP/CD and via Bandcamp for the download (the links are below). If you are after the LP/CD combo you best make sure you snap one up sharpish as when those red and white splatter babies are gone they really will be gone. So, trust me when I say, ‘Your Disobedient Servant’ is one record you really do not want to be without.

 

Buy It Here

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Author:Johnny Hayward