Now my on-off love affair with Brian Fallon has been going on ever since I heard him with The Gaslight Anthem back in ’08 – So to see a new album from Brian Fallon in 2020 is a joyous sight and sound.

Brian has said that this new record is about life right now, and when you are presented with gloriously melancholy little ditties such as When You’re Ready, you are transported to another time and place – and one can not help but feel nostalgic. ‘When You’re Ready’ and ’21 Days’ are perfect examples of what Brian does best – the narrative that runs through each song is beautifully crafted and while they are not connected, the stories somehow get under your skin and is infectious to the point that you want to hit the replay button but after a few listens you know there are other great plots ahead told by a master and held together with extraordinary music. ‘I Don’t Mind (If I’m With You)’ is a song that on first listen could be seen as depressing but after the second or third listen I found it to be quite uplifting. So say what you will about his music but Mr. Fallon has recorded some of his best work in these intimate songs. For example ‘Lonely For You Only’ is upbeat song that comes just at just the right time to add a bit of jolly swing to proceedings, which is then followed by ‘Horses’. This song is a tale of forgiveness and redemption that for me is life-affirming.

One thing that I found while listening to this album is that now we are left in a Tom Petty-less world, I am thankful for having songwriters like Brian Fallon and Ryan Hamilton still here writing life stories in 2-3 minutes song bursts. The eight songs presented here are soft songs for hard people, or at those who get touched by tales of hope in the face of adversity.

Buy ‘Local Honey’ Here

Facebook

Author: Dave Tetley Prince

The newie from the Southern US songwriter, storyteller and actor is a concept record broadly inspired by the horrors of the Vietnam war and its ongoing impact. Vintage rock’n’roll sound that nods to Tom Petty, The Rolling Stones, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. 

Like the soundtrack to a movie that doesn’t yet exist, Rod Melancon’s ‘Pinkville; whips up a world filled with shellshocked war veterans, gun-wielding rock & rollers, and other down-on-their-luck characters, mixing cinematic details and electric guitars into its own version of greasy, gothic Americana – Well, that’s what the PR blurb wanted us to believe and to be fair Gothic Americana is a new genre on me.
His songs are indeed dark and his voice which swings from a spoken-word to a croon to a rough-edged howl.  It’s every bit as diverse as the material it delivers. ‘Pinkville’, is his fourth album. You’ve got something approaching psychedelic soul, Traditional Rolling Stones good-time rockers and tributes to the likes of  Tom Petty, and if that’s not enough there is even time for a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s ’57 Channels (And Nothin’ On)’.
‘Pinkville’ draws on personal memories from back home in Louisiana. It was there, that Melancon grew up. During these visits, he’d see this guy who is the central theme for the opening spoken words track that clearly left a mark on Melancon. then to follow it up with a dark bruising number that’s part Alice Cooper part voodoo swamp rocker is a real toe-tapper.
Melancon, uses  Will Walden, as the album’s lead guitarist and co-producer. The son of Emmy-winning composer Snuffy Walden,  In ‘Pinkville’ his tremolo guitar rustles up images of a platoon on patrol, while the Keith Richards-inspired playing of “Westgate” draws on his teenage memories of getting stoned and just being a teen. Its got a similar feel to a lot of the work of John Cougar where he draws on his memories for his subject and sways from Americana to rock and roll and its a really well-constructed song that you just want to nestle near the speaker and let the story wash over you.  The solo is pretty cool on this one as well like he’s riding the volume and trying to soothe the savage feedback and to be fair he succeeds.  ‘Corpus Christi Carwash’ tells the true story of Freddy Fender’s former gig at a car wash, is all 1950s pop ballad with a great traditional progression on the muted chords, while ‘Lord Knows’ gets a groove on like it was still the 1970s.
‘Heartbreakers’ celebrates the influence of Tom Petty — a songwriter who, like Melancon, who came from the South before moving to the city of Angels. He turns his own struggles into a roadhouse rocker with ‘Manic Depression’ a little understated when up against some of the other tracks on the record but all good albums have light and shade. Then to end the record Melancon turns it up during the loud, ‘Cobra’ whilst it’s not racing away more purposeful with the part sung part spoken lyrics again its got light and shade and a decent closing number on an altogether impressive album. A real melting pot of an album to be fair and one I found myself getting lost in and enjoying revisiting it time after time.  If this is Gothic Americana then I’m on board and highly recommend it.  Fill yer boots, my friends,  ‘Pinkville’ was a very pleasant surprise.
Author: Dom Daley

 

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

I’ll put my cards on the table here and admit that when I heard there was a new Subs album coming out I got excited then when I heard it was more covers I wasn’t too bothered. Subversions was a pretty decent effort and there were some great takes on there but, when I saw the tracklist for this I think I was half way through reading and I found I was reading through my fingers and gasping at some of the suggestions.  However, I have a varied taste and it would be boring if they happened to take on songs you would, or could, associate with the band. So I waited for my copy to arrive and would make my mind up yay or Nay after I’d heard the interpretations.

OK here goes, nothing ventured nothing gained I guess. First up is ‘Diversion’ and a jolly uptempo ditty it is too they give it a right good seeing to so I guess I can sit back and relax – for the time being.  Once again Pat Collier has done a sterling job on capturing the band and pulling out a fantastic live feel where everything is crystal clear and super vibrant.   I guess ‘White Light White Heat’ isn’t too much of a stretch and then that riff chimes in as they take on Led Zepplin and ‘Immigrants Song’ and if for hearing Alvin’s bass playing alone this is a resounding success.  Now I obviously know who Led Zepplin are and I have heard them many times before but I can’t say I’ve heard them covered by a punk rock band and sounding so good.  I often joke that Zepplin had a great drummer and a few tidy riffs I might be joking I might not but quite why they get so many column inches is baffling to me but this is one of their better tunes and this version is very well delivered and has exceptional qualities.

Joe Jacksons snappy ‘One More Time’ is afforded similar respect as the Subs do justice with a decent interpretation but it’s not as much of a stretch from the original. Vanilla Fudge ‘Season Of The Witch’ is up next and again kudos to Charlie’s vocals as the band really turn up a few stones to find songs to cover and take ownership of.  Put this one down as one I didn’t see coming but quite enjoyed, in fact, its the ones I was having the sweats over are turning out to be the ones I’m most impressed with.

OK so Alvin toured with Iggy and not the stooges so one of the more predictable covers and an absolute stone-cold classic and one you just knew they would slay and could never fuck up – obviously they don’t disappoint and knock it right out of the park.

Side two kicks off in style with a thunderous take on ‘This Is Rock And Roll’ originally from The Kids closely followed by a suitably sloppy ‘My Generation’ that gives the rhythm section of the Subs a chance to stretch their legs with some awesome solo breaks.  Take a bow Alvin and Jamie – sensational work. I bet nobody saw the Subs tip the hat to Tom Petty and the other Heartbreakers on ‘You Wreck Me’ and what a ball this one is.  As a band the Subs show just how versatile they can be and taking on a song like this and take ownership of the track is a real testament to just how good these boys are.

As we head into the home straight there are three big uns starting with the Neil Young anthem that is ‘Rockin In The Free World’ and rolling it round in the dirt and giving it some right yob treatment on the chorus is a joy to hear.  We know what the Subs are good at and this is them purring like an illite sports car – sure its easy to cover a song like this but you still have to do the right job on it and Straughan owns the solo by leaving it understated rather than running riot over it.  and the Riff is meaty which is nice. Great song great cover.  Now the song I feared most but to be fair the rest of the album is so bloody good I’m not bothered how ‘We Will Rock You Sounds’ but once the band stretch their legs and rock the shit out of it I’m chuffed to report that Charlie might not be Freddie he gives it a right seeing to. what was I worried about  The subs fuckin’ smash it so by the time ‘The Last Time’ chimes in I knew they’d do the Stones justice so finishing on a real high.  I can safely say that when anyone askes what does the Subs sound like doing Queen I can say without any irony or piss taking they do it very well and treat a cover with respect and a challenge check it out.  All thats left to say is I hope it’s not the Last time and there are more more more to come.  Long live the UK Subs. Buy it!

Buy subversions 2 Here

Author: Dom Daley

Day 3 – San Francisco: seafood and drinking with the locals

The ride from the airport to Fisherman’s Wharf takes maybe 40 minutes. Packed like sardines, our taxi is full, there is no air con and it’s what you might call uncomfortable. We travel through some pretty rough looking areas, as we spy hammered bums staggering through the streets clutching their worldly belongings in one hand and a brown paper bag with god only knows what in the other. Groups of Hispanics and Africans hang on street corners, pimps, drug dealers or maybe even worse. Holy crap! Is this San Francisco? I don’t want to be staying here.

Luckily, our hotel is situated just off the much nicer Fisherman’s Wharf and we waste no time exploring the tourist areas. Bars, shacks and shops offer everything from the exotic to the less so exotic. Shops sell high class art, others sell tacky tat, some a combination of both. If you love seafood this is the place to be, its everywhere and it all looks and smells amazing. From fresh lobster and crab to bread bowls of clam chowder, it’s a seafood lover’s dream.

After eating, we stray from the tourist area and find an Irish bar for beer, whiskey and local company. We get talking to a regular; Phil, a self-confessed alcoholic  who loves to talk, oh how he loves to talk! He repeats himself with stories of hunting, his kids and the local area. I get stuck with him and Sedd a couple of locals, one with a strong NY accent. The alcohol and the conversation flows and by the end of the evening Paisley Park now seems a long, long’ time ago.

 

Day 4 – Bikes, bums and glorious sea views

 

As this is a rock ‘n’ roll road trip the plan was to catch as many bands as we could on our travels. After weeks of searching listings, it seems that anyone we wanted to see either had just played or were playing after we left, so we decided San Fransico would be the full-on tourist trip.

Today, as part of our holiday package we have electric bikes hired for a day of exploration. This I would highly recommend if you are coming to San Francisco for the first time. We plan a route that took us through Haight-Ashbury, the centre of the 60’s hippie movement, down through lush green parks, over sandy beaches and through dense forestry and over a coastal path to the Golden Gate Bridge.

 

Thank god for electric bikes! The steep roads are unforgiving and the journey up and over to Haights-Ashbury is a long one that takes in the sights and sounds of the city in a way you just cannot experience by taxi or tram.

What we didn’t take into account was that it was Sunday morning and most of the shops in Haights-Ashbury are shut! The thrift stores, tattoo shops and even the world famous Ben & Jerry’s ice cream parlour are not open yet. But the bohemian vibe is omnipresent. Bums and aging hippies still shuffle about minding their own business, as the morning Californian sun rises above the buildings. At the street junctions, you can get great views down over the vast city and take in the magnitude of the bustling city that seems to be in a time warp. I don’t think much has changed here since the 60’s. Not much development, take away the modern cars and many areas could still be a scene from ‘Bullitt’

The homeless here are seemingly invisible to passers-by. As we stop at a park entrance to take pictures, one guy in his twenties with a massive beard and his entire belongings (including an ancient skateboard) in a bag over his shoulder, shuffles past. Sedd greets him with a “Hey!, how ya Doing?”, he walks past us with no reply. As we walk across the road he turns and asks us what we wanted, seemingly puzzled, maybe even fearful that someone actually interacted with him.

Further along the street, another guy in a massive parker (bearing in mind its probably 25 degrees by now) has his filthy jeans half-mast, the legs of the jeans flapping around on the floor. A weird fashion statement maybe, I then realised these jeans were actually acting as his shoes!

 

We rode through Golden Gate park, a 1000 acre public park that stretches from Haights- Ashbury down to the coast. If museums and Japanese tea gardens are your thing, spend time here. It’s a massive relief that it’s all downhill from here and freewheeling not only cools us down but gives a break from the peddling. We check out the Dutch windmills before heading along the coast with stunning views of the pacific to our left, before reaching the Camera Obscura, it’s not even open yet as its still only 10.40am and we have already done so much.

The chain has come off my bike and become jammed. With no tools and my hands now covered in oil, a passer-by cyclist offers some help. Our new elderly friend Bob is a local, who cycles this coastal road every weekend. He offers to cycle with us and basically, he becomes a free tour guide as he takes the best route through the various coastal paths towards the Golden Gate Bridge, giving us information and facts as we go.

Cycling across Golden Gate Bridge is an experience in itself. It’s a free for all as tourists with various cycling ability wobble about trying to check out the views, take pictures and not crash into each other or the irate professional local cyclists who zoom past, shouting at Japanese tourists to get out of the way. We cycle onto Sausalito for lunch and ice cream. We check out the rock balancing guy Bill Dan before catching the ferry back to San Francisco.

After a well-needed chill at the hotel, we head out to explore China Town for the evening. After walking for seemingly miles and not really finding anywhere to eat, a quick look on Trip Advisor, we find a cool little restaurant right on the edge of China Town where I have the best Chinese meal I have ever had.

We walk back through the streets of sleazy clubs and topless bars. We find a tiny Blues club, like a sort of Speakeasy, where older guys who never made it play endless jams of the same song, probably on a daily basis. One beer is quite enough and after a full day cycling, we are ready to drop.

 

Day 5 – Escape from Alcatraz to Lost Boys territory, Monterey and beyond

 

Our last half day in San Francisco starts with a visit to the world famous windy road of Lombard Street before catching the ferry to Alcatraz. The audio tour is great, with the headphones on a heavily accented gentleman leads you through the gloomy penitentiary step by step. Real accounts from past inmates and wardens as well as background noise and effects really take you back to those times, as they recount stories and breakout attempts, the murders and the rigours of daily life in the once escape-proof prison on a rock in San Francisco Bay.

I love San Francisco and am sad to leave so soon to be honest. The roads are busy and parking is ridiculous, the best way to explore is definitely by bike. But you should also take a tram grab a bowl of clam chowder and take a pocket full of quarters to spend in the Mechanical Museum. I think I could live here.

 

We get an Uber to the airport to pick up a silver convertible Ford Mustang that will be our transport for the rest of the trip! We say our goodbyes to San Francisco as we take the Pacific Highway down towards Monterey for the next part of our adventure.

The stunning scenery and coastal views as we drive, just put in mind the game Grand Theft Auto, if you have ever played San Andreas then you will know why. As we reach Santa Cruz, we head to Santa Cruz Boardwalk where they filmed the classic opening scenes from The Lost Boys. With it being out of season, the amusement park and roller coaster are closed, which at first is disappointing, but we are still able to walk through it and take photos. The desolate nature seems quite fitting as the sun sets in the sky behind the seemingly abandoned roller coaster.

Remember the scene where they hang from the bridge and taunt Michael to join them?  That railroad bridge is right there, behind the amusement park! We go and stand on it for photos like a real couple of fanboys. Is the car park to the left where they did that first kill on the security guard? it sure looks like it.

As we head back to the car, I see something moving in the bushes, I get closer to check out what I presume is a butterfly, to see a real live hummingbird! No one told me they were here in the wild for all to see, that was unexpected.

As the sun sets over the coastal views on the Pacific Highway drive to Monterey, again GTA flashbacks fill my mind as they will time and again on this trip. Every now and again, I get the urge to grab the wheel, veer off the highway and drive across the acres of farmland looking for hidden adventures. But I don’t, this is real life, not a game, this is the larger than life reality of California and we are finally living it.

We reach the hotel, drop our bags and find a local seafood restaurant where we dine on crab curry and exotic tasting cocktails.

 

Day 6 – Trippy jellyfish, the white sands of Carmel and LA baby!

 

There’s not much rock ‘n’ rolling to be done in Monterey, so it’s another tourist morning before heading down towards LA. After tucking into the biggest omelette I have ever seen while watching cormorants dive for their own breakfast in the crystal clear waters of Monterey Bay, we head over to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Although expensive, it’s well worth a visit. Massive tanks take you to the underwater world in the largest Aquarium in the world. The jellyfish room is out of this world as crazy-colored, alien looking creatures you never knew existed bob about in front of your eyes. Hypnotising and quite trippy, it’s better than TV!

We find a second-hand record store to grab a bunch of random CDs for the road trip down to LA and onto Vegas. Our soundtrack will now be a mix of The Eagles, The Byrds, Tom Petty, Sheryl Crowe and Prince & The NPG.

We do the 17-mile drive which goes through the famous Pebble Beach golf course, with windy roads, through dense forestry with plenty of vista points to take in the stunning, picturesque views that no camera can truly capture.

The next stop is Carmel, where the sun beats down on amazing white, sandy beaches that stretch for miles. Duran Duran probably filmed a video here back in the 80’s no doubt. This small, coastal town has a completely different vibe to San Francisco. Chilled and relaxed, the cars, the building and the people tell me there is a lot of money in Carmel. Ye Olde English style shops are hidden amongst the coffee shops and restaurants and overpriced boutiques.

We grab a bite to eat and head back on the highway for LA.

 

It’s close to midnight by the time we drive up Sunset Boulevard towards the hotel. The strip is teaming with life, does it ever sleep I wonder? Too late and too tired to explore, the most we manage is a beer at a western themed bar across the road, where a dude dressed as a cowboy asks us for ID. Inside, drunken middle-aged men perform karaoke to a room packed with students and middle-aged couples, served by the beautiful people behind the round bar in the center. In the corner, a bucking bronco is in full swing, a group watch and laugh as a guy tries his best to hang on time and again. Welcome to LA!

Author : Ben Hughes