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.
HRH Punk II, Anarchy in Sheffield 2020 just went live with the first 18 bands and a 30 quid killer deal!
This is just the first bang – there are plenty more bands to come very shortly!
HRH PUNK I sold out in record time and looks to be an absolute belter, next years will go up a gear and to make it all work we have some incredible early bird deals for the next 4 days.
The first tranche of bands next year include UK Subs – one of the pioneers of UK punk – formed in London in 1976 as UK Subversives. They had hit singles such as “Stranglehold” including a classic performance on Top of the Pops featuring the ever-present frontman Charlie Harper.
Also confirmed for HRH Punk II are Ruts DC – perhaps best known for their 1979 hit “Babylon’s Burning”, they bring their reggae-infused punk to Sheffield’s O2 Academy next September. Since their reformation in 2007 Ruts DC have kept busy with gigs alongside Alabama 3, Rancid, Buzzcocks, Public Image Ltd and many more.
Another alumn of the original UK punk scene, The Boys bring us their power-pop-punk which has influenced the likes of Die Toten Hosen and The Exploding Hearts. The Boys also enjoyed a new-found spike in popularity in Japan thanks to Japanese garage rock band Thee Michelle Gun Elephant covering their song Soda Pressing.
Here’s the deal : For 4 days only, all standard weekend passes will be 30 GBP no booking fee and Royalty passes 50 GBP no booking fee as they last.
Now listen up because this is really Killer… The HRH Hotels (gotta love ’em) have provided a real Killer Early Bird Incentive too. There are only 50 rooms per hotel that never last long, but for 4 days only (or until they sell out – as this will fly) this is how it rolls…
Standard HRH Hotel with breakfast & standard weekend ticket will be 95 GBP a person & Royalty HRH Hotel with breakfast & weekend Royalty ticket will 120 GBP per person.
Remember 2 minimum sharing, but what a friggin’ deal! This is only available until the end of the event, but please remember there are only 50 rooms per hotel which won’t last long, especially at this price!
HRH PUNK 2 goes on sale Thursday 3rd October @ 11.00am UK time, but only lasts until the end of the event 4 days later (midnight Sunday 6th October to be exact). Link to the online store here: http://www.hrhpunk.com/product-category/punk-ii/
Everything is subject to availability and as you’ve seen HRH PUNK is one of the hottest, fastest-selling city events HRH put on. It will be a scream as usual, so get on board. Attendees have early picking until Friday 4th October then it’s on general sale over the weekend.
Book online @ www.hrhpunk.com – if you need any assistance, grab the Live Chat service on the website.
One of Norway’s most legendary bands, (that you might be forgiven for never having heard of them, Right? Right) anyway Norway has a good history of knocking out some fantastic bands and a lot of them have been mentioned here on RPM. Backstreet Girls, Turbonegro, Gluecifer, Good Bad the Zugly, Razorbats, and of course Mayhem.
Well, these punk/hardcore veterans are fronted by Billy Cockroach, one of the first vocalists of Mayhem he performed on the 1987 album “Deathcrush” under the moniker of Messiah and they offer us well-aged vintage punk rock full of cheerful aggression and infectious tunes. throwing in Mayhem is a bit of a red herring because its nothing like Deathcrush this is polished positively glistening in the production stakes compared to that Black Metal demo.
‘Songs about Blunt Knives and Deep Love’, has only taken 22 bloody long years to reach our ears kinda puts Axel to shame with his Chinese Democracy. They’re being heralded as one of Norway’s most legendary bands, it basically consists of new recordings of old hits as well as a handful of new tracks and a cover of Mountain Goat’s “Going to Georgia”. It started out as an idea from producer Hugo Alvarstein (The Good the Bad and the Zugly, Raga Rockers, etc…) Who suggested the band go rehearse their best songs from the 1990s then call him up and he’d take em into his studio and get them recorded and give the songs the justice they deserve. To be fair he’s clearly a man of his word and has recorded one hell of an album..
The band started out as far back as 1994, building a loyal fan base and a reputation of being a riotous live band along the way. Compared to the bands two previous offerings this one is the dog’s bollocks and one that should rightly exalt them to the top table of punk rock.
Having honed the tunes by sharing the stage with acts like The Toy Dolls, Discharge, UK Subs, The Exploited, Cock Sparrer, Anti-Nowhere League, Vice Squad and GBH through the years, now it’s about time they put their hat in the ring with a bunch of songs that justified their boast of being up there with the best of them.
The album begins with a cover, ‘Going To Georgia’ and it drops its music bombs right square in the middle of the speakers with it’s spoken/sung verses holding up rather well over a musical backdrop that just crackles along with a joy and sound of a band just killing it doing something they love for the love. ‘You Have A Bun’ is a breath of fresh air as it has plenty of bounce and whilst the vocals are aggressive (often quite shouty) what did you think he was going to sound like? Ian Gillan? that’s the thing its aggressive as fuck but it sounds content and dare I say it – Happy at the same time, oh and the production is great and really lifts the songs.
‘Fantasyland’ has a little bit of Thin Lizzy in those dueling guitars on the intro. I did a little momentary gasp on the intro of the piraty ‘Three Wishes’ as I thought we were getting some h ho ho shanty music but worry not me hearties it was only a false intro. Still, it’s quite piraty its the good end of piraty.
‘On An Island’ is just a banger with its head down its one foot in the Motorhead camp and the other, say, Argy Bargy – Imagine that? To be fair the middle part of the album isn’t fucking about and gets stuck in like The Adicts on a good day. ‘Facts On The Wall’ is Ramones rapid with a dumb yet happy melody and ripping solo this is shaping up to be an excellent record. ‘Necktie Party’ has a bit of a Crass vibe about it. These boys and these songs would go down a storm at somewhere like Rebellion Festival.
A lot of the pace and tempo of the songs remind me of a Norweigan Sham 69 and none more so that ‘Do It Again’ which is one of the highlights of the record on the breakdown it’s like vintage high jinx Damned who always threw in some cool off the wall melodies in fact there are plenty of influences I am feeling here more than ripping off a band they dance to their own tunes and just let their influences just bleed through..
With twelve songs on offer, I would highly recommend you at least give these cats the benefit of doubt and check em out and once you do that I’m sure you’ll be convinced. Great album I’m glad has seen the light of day and hope it’s given the band the energy and drive to do it all again except to say next time don’t leave it so fucking long. – Buy it!
With what seems like a couple of hour’s kip we’re up and at ‘em in the RPM Camp. Breakfast looked like it was on the critical list and had been out in the rain all night but we eat it all the same. We have the dilemma over breakfast of who we won’t be able to catch due to the number of quality bands on today’s bill.
We wanted to catch so many bands today it looked nuts however we looked at it. It came down to the flip of a coin on what will forever be known as Fandabi-Friday (Don’t ask but our sides almost split). If you need an explanation I’m sorry but it’s locked in a chest and buried at the bottom of the ocean off the North Pier.
TFG and Riskee & The Ridicule were on early so we had to take a pass on as it was our annual Ratboy Magic show but we got sidetracked on the way so missed the lot before we paid an early doors visit to the Empress to catch a bit of brass courtesy of The Popes Of Chillitown (that our esteemed fellow writer Nev recommended) they kicked up a fair old racket with their ska /punk hybrid and nailed it.
Everywhere we looked there was someone we wanted to watch – Miss Fragile in the Almost Acoustic – The Snivelling Shits in the Opera House but it was Knock Off who got the nod as they knock out their street punk which they claim is fuelled by the state of the country and play like it with added anger and disillusionment and on this evidence its hard not to disagree even with their technical difficulties the band deal with it and get on with business and turn in a solid performance. We hang around to catch Dragster in Club Casbah who have a great new(ish) ‘Anti Everything’ album under their belts. Fi and the boys were cutting a fine jib upon their return to the festival and they sounded ferocious. They attacked songs like ‘Anti Everything’ and ‘Vultures Circle’ and the epic ‘Death By 1000 Cuts’. It’s always good to hear ‘Dead Punks’ the band play like their lives depended on it and it would seem that the punters were out early enjoying the audio assault. With Fi spending a lot of the set on the barrier getting amongst it and the band dog deep by dragging up ‘Eat The Dirt’ from their debut back in 2006. A tonne of energy and a raft of tunes that are getting better and better.
We quickly realised we haven’t yet been to the Opera house and it’s already Friday evening. but it has to wait a little as were back in the Casbah to catch some of Disciplines set (whilst over in Empress TV Smith was playing ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ so we’re reliably informed). Discipline did a split some years ago with Argy Bargy so to have a one-two jab from the Dutch boot boy rockers followed by Argy Bargy’s return in Casbah at Teatime for the RPM bootboys was a real treat. Discipline were good To be fair and their love of all things PSV came across loud and clear.
It was a most welcome sight as Watford John rustled up a tea time treat with some choice cuts from the most excellent album ‘Hopes Dreams Lies & Schemes’ as ‘Looking For Glory’ sounded fresh as the first time they played it. We were also treated with songs off ‘Drink Drugs & Football Thugs’ call it Oi! Or Thug Rock but I’ll just call it quality Rock and Roll and a most welcome return it’s been today in the Casbah.
To have a break we wander through the labyrinth of backstage corridors to navigate our way quickly around the venue and find ourselves in the surreal surroundings of the Arena. Nothing different with the venue it’s just Brazils action figured self-proclaimed Billy Idol Of the Amazon Supla S&V along with his trusty accomplice for the evening is Victoria Wells as the due knock out what can only be described as house meets dance meets punk sampled mash up whilst wearing a nice blazer and skin-tight shorts. I kid you not – Supla is out there on his own when it comes to entertainment and vision but the good people of The Winter Gardens didn’t get the memo and the dynamic duo of dance were left playing to a few clued up disciples. As for what the songs were? Fuck knows. Your guess is as good as mine. Anyway, we too had to cut and run as Spunk Volcano and The Eruptions were about to take the stage back in our haven that was Casbah. The temperature must be about 120 degrees plus (it certainly seems like it) and the most sensible person in the room seems to be the guy in the pants…oh hang on he’s wearing a woolen balaclava with just one eye!
There’s no fucking about here and the bodies start being flung around in an impressive pit as the band doesn’t have time to fuck about and it’s straight into ‘Death Or Glory’ from the impressive ‘Double Bastard’. sure the classic SV tracks are present and accounted for like ‘Hanging Round The Shops’, ‘Shit Generation’, ‘Ram Raid’, ‘Xr3’ and ‘Sellotape’ and ‘CrossFire’ as the Rebellion audience sing along in all the right places and by the end of the set the Casbah is full to bursting and for the next few hours at least I can’t get ‘Knobhead’ out of my noggin’ I even think he dedicated to us as well, how rude but bloody entertaining.
Right it’s just gone 8 pm and we’ve not stopped for any food yet so whilst my colleague is on the blower to his union to see if it’s lawful to have this much fun and no breaks I’m off to the chippy before Duncan Reid goes Acoustic. Right, That was a quick hour and without delay, we’re back in Almost Acoustic to catch the full set from Duncan Reid & The Big Heads and after a few of those dreaded technical difficulties were off and running and Mr. Power Pop is showing exactly how to write great pop tunes that can be played both electric and acoustic as the pub like venue joins in the sing-a-long and we all have a jolly good time. ‘Kellys Gone Insane’ from the debut solo record sounds fantastic as does ‘The One’ also from the re-released debut record. ‘Cèst La Vie’ is aired from that difficult second album along with ‘Long Long Gone’. Duncan shares some very nice words for his former bandmates in The Boys before cracking open a take on ‘Brickfield Nights’ where Nick Hughes did a very commendable job on Matts vocals. It only leaves ‘First Time’ and a standing ovation seems about right – Always smiling – always looking like they’re having the best of times -its infectious.
We head out the door for a wander knowing we can catch the end of the UK Subs set over in the Empress after a cheeky dark fruit we head upstairs to see the subs do what the do best and thats kicks out the jams in what felt like watching a band inside an oven on 180. The band show no sign of relenting as they justify their prime spot on the bill once again.
We head outside to wring off the t-shirt again before catching some of the Stranglers set luckily for us we caught a portion of the set where they played a few classic Stranglers ‘Peaches’, ‘Nice N Sleazy’ and ‘Duchess’ we go for a walk around the balcony and by the time ‘Something Better Change’ erupts I’m done. the heat has got the better of me and I bow out. After what has once again been a full-on Fandabidozy Friday in The Winter Gardens wandering from room to room catching band after band all offering something different but mostly offering exceptional quality. Now if I could be in two places at once then now would have been a good time to give that ago. Luckily for us, Mr. Darrel Sutton was on hand at the same festival but watching totally different bands to us so without further waffle over to Mr. Sutton…
Friday sees an extended pub lunchtime forcibly ended by a raging (ouch) set from Ohio’s Raging Nathans. I’ve wanted to catch these lot for ages, having actually booked them for a date on an aborted tour a few years ago, and they do not disappoint. Between song banter is kept to a minimum and Josh Goldman and crew literally rip the arena a new one with a fast and frantic set that Zeke would have struggled to match.
A few hours in the RPM inner circle sees me catch Discipline, Argy Bargy and Spunk Volcano in an exhausting triple-header before an enforced break sees me return to catch Leftover Crack in the same venue. A band that have never grabbed my attention for any prolonged period on record, their live show is positively intense. The subtleties of their ska-infused records are pretty much abandoned in a total rager of a set. A quick venture into the Stranglers set in the Empress is curtailed by the unbearable heat of the utterly packed room and a very wise decision to grab a pew for what is billed as Alex Wonk’s acoustic set. However, it soon becomes apparent this isn’t going to be a solo set as the full Wonk Unit line-up (Ok so Kenny only gets up for one song as Alex is back on six-strings) are crammed onto the stage. And that’s also where the normal acoustic rules also go out of the window with chairs being discarded, a pit being formed for most songs and even two human pyramids and numerous crowd surfers popping up along the way. The likes of ‘My Nagging Wife’, ‘Awful Jeans’ and ‘Lewisham’ lose none of their charm through being unplugged and alternate versions of songs like ‘Go Easy’ in an acoustic form further add to the charm. A total master stroke to round the day off.
Popes of Chillitown, Argy Bargy, Discipline, UK Subs pictures courtesy of Dod Morrison Photography.
With ‘Your Disobedient Servant’ being, in my humble opinion, one of the very best albums released in 2019 thus far the prospect of catching Alvin Gibbs and his band of Disobedient Servants live on a short run around the UK was just too much of a “one of kind” opportunity to be overlooked, plus the gig is in one of the best venues Bristol has to offer, so a ticket for this must-attend event was duly purchased.
For those of you who might never have been to The Louisiana it’s got that fantastic upstairs above a pub vibe going for it and over the years it has seen everyone from Airbourne to Fleet Foxes treading its – oh so low it could be a step – stage. Views in this place are of a premium when it’s packed out so that’s why even before local street punks Criminal Mind takes to the stage the place is a tippy toe view only kind of full.
I’m actually embarrassed to say I’ve never seen or heard Criminal Mind before tonight, I’m embarrassed because with over 10 years together as a band, playing hundreds of shows around the UK, I’m not entirely sure how they have evaded me. Their set tonight is packed full of great tunes (which I’m of course hearing for the first time) all loaded up with chant-along choruses and delivered with the kind of enthusiasm and attitude that first made me fall in love with the ‘Total 13’ era Backyard Babies. There’s a hint of The Living End to be heard during the anthemic ‘Blood On The Cobbles’ plus a dash of Rancid on show when bassist Ben Dowling takes over the vocals mid-set but what Criminal Mind do have in spades is their own identity – something which is not lost on the diehards who holler back every word. We always love it when a new (?) band falls into our laps here at RPM towers and with their third album due to be released very soon you can bet your bottom dollar we’ll be catching up with Criminal Minds very soon indeed.
Promising tracks from the ‘Your Disobedient Servant’ album along with some choice Gibbs voiced Subs tunes plus maybe a few surprises (and guests) along the way reports online that the aptly named Disobedient Tour has been doing brisk business ticket wise is reassuring to hear given the apathy a lot of venues (not the Louisiana I might add) across the UK seemingly has towards original music right now. The army of West Country UK Subs fans makes sure that tonight is no exception and the Cheshire Cat grins on the faces of Alvin Gibbs, Leigh Heggarty and Jamie Oliver as they fight their way through the crowd to the stage does indeed speak volumes. This promises to be everything I thought it might be…even if we don’t actually get any special guests here tonight.
Kicking off with the opening 1-2 from the ‘Servants’ album, ‘Arterial Pressure’ and ‘Ghost Train’ is simply stunning in the live setting, the latter still the best Iggy song Iggy never wrote with Alvin commanding the dual role of bassist and lead singer with consummate ease. ‘Bordeaux Red’ is the first of the UK Subs songs to be aired tonight and it’s here that Gibbs truly shines in his day job, twisting his body and the strings on his Fender Precision into places other bassists can only dream of going. Elsewhere there’s a ferocious two-song tribute (‘Down On The Streets’ and ‘1969’) to Alvin’s stint with Iggy all complete with a hilarious Iggy V’s Charlie anecdote that I won’t spoil here, and then there’s Leigh Heggarty taking over the mic for a fantastic version of ‘In A Rut’ that perfectly segues into ‘Warhead’ mid-song. Of the other Subs tunes aired ‘Stare At The Sun’ from ‘XXIV’ is the wildcard Gibbs has personally chosen whilst ‘Dragging Me Down’ from ‘Killing Time’ sounds reborn devoid of the awful late-80s production that drowned that LP.
Of course tonight is really all about the ‘Your Disobedient Servant’ album and the trio certainly do not disappoint delivering the likes of ‘Dumb’ (dedicated to Trump, Farage and Bojo), ‘Clumsy Fingers’, ‘Polemic’, ‘Camden Town Gigolo’, ‘I’m Not Crying Now’ and a frantic ‘Back To Mayhem’ like the band have been on the road for months…not days. Credit also that the guys effortlessly pull off the epic soundscape that is ‘Heaven And Angels’ even with Alvin complaining his throat was a bit sore after 6 consecutive shows this really is a faultless performance.
Encoring with a run through of Ian Hunter’s ‘Once Bitten, Twice Shy’ and Urban Dogs’ ‘A Bridge Too Far’ the Servants eventually have the venue lights turned on as a subtle reminder they have broken all the Sunday night curfew rules and probably should know better than that by now…but what the hell this is punk rock, right?
Make sure you catch Alvin Gibbs & The Disobedient Servants live at Rebellion Festival this August it’s one set you really do not want to be missing.
On this very date David Bowie unveiled his landmark album, ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars’. His breakthrough LP, it sells over 7 million copies and is hailed as one of the greatest albums of all time. As genius as it was it has to be said that without his Spiders Ziggy would have been nothing (or at least not a fraction of the success) Ronnos guitar playing was exceptional throughout as were the bass lines. Of course, the image was mind blowing even for the early ’70s.
The concept album serves as the introduction to Bowie’s most iconic of reincarnations: Ziggy Stardust, a flame-haired Martian messiah who visits Earth in an attempt to bring a message of hope to humanity in their final five years of existence. Flamboyantly dressed and dazzlingly androgynous, Stardust helps revolutionize ideas about gender and sexuality like never before.
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars is recorded over a two-week period in November 1971 at London’s Trident Studios – the same place where The Beatles made “Hey Jude” in 1968. The legendary album cover depicts a resplendent Bowie posing outside of a Mayfair furriers named K. West.
The album peaks at #5 in the UK, and remains on that chart for two years, bolstered by a groundbreaking performance of “Starman” on Top of the Pops in July 1972.
Although “Ziggy played guitar” for the final time in July 1973, his blazing legacy lives on. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars is about Bowie’s alter ego Ziggy Stardust, an androgynous bisexual rock star who acts as a messenger for extraterrestrial beings (drugs who mentioned drugs). Bowie took Ziggy on tour through the United Kingdom, Japan, and North America. The album and the character of Ziggy Stardust explored themes of sexual exploration and social taboos and it wasn’t until that fateful night in The Hammersmith Odean that Ziggy made his last appearance as Bowie ruthlessly ended the characters existence. this after shipping over seven million copies worldwide – still to this day an incredible decision from a man at the peak of his powers. Amazingly the album only made it to number five in the UK charts whilst barely denting the US top 75!
Its no question one of the most influential albums for many reasons would there have been the huge new Romantic explosion of the post-punk 80s had it not been for Ziggy? Also, it was a big influence on the UK punk scene with many of its detractors since citing this particular tour as being very influential fashionably and musically.
Track from the album has been covered many times over by many different artists including Bauhaus who did ‘Ziggy Stardust’ as did Def Leppard and RPM favourite Jeff Dahl. ‘Moonage Daydream has also been covered by varied artists such as LA Guns, Mike Scott and Tim Wheeler of Ash. whereas ‘Suffragette City’ has been covered by such polar acts as Boy George, Steve Jones, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Turbonegro and god forbid Poison! As well as recently on volume 1 of The UK Subs covers album.
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!
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.
Not Just your regular summer, no sir, this one is hot! and its only getting hotter!
Whilst May was relatively quiet (slang) June was positively bristling with releases and live shows for the RPM crew and the beginning of the festival season was open. But we couldn’t mention June 2018 without a few tributes to fallen comrades in Rock and Roll.
Firstly, Heavy Drapes frontman Garry Alexander Borland passed away the first week after returning from Holland after a really successful show at Rebellion over there. Garry’s passing was a huge shock to people close to him obviously but his passing was also felt in the wider alternative community with his band on the verge of much bigger and better things what with the up and coming decent billing at Rebellion UK and their debut album ready to go so its only right we record this moment and pay tribute to Garry. May he rest in peace.
Another sad passing was that of DJ Fontana who was Elvis Presley’s drummer for many a year, Dominic Joseph Fontana was responsible for laying down the backbeat on almost 500 songs with the king which is no mean feat and a really impressive CV by any standard also it’s only right we recognise his contribution to music. Rest in Peace DJ.
Sadly a third influential musician passed away in June this year, none other than Nick Knox the second but longest-serving Cramps drummer. Nick joined the band from the Electric Eels and occupied the drum stool from 1977-1991, Knox toured with the band and appeared on some of the Cramps’ best recordings, ‘Songs The Lord Taught Us‘, ‘Psychedelic Jungle’ and ‘A Date With Elvis’. Rest In Peace Nick Knox the man behind Lux and the man behind the shades.
Sadly the fourth person to pass away in June was none other than West coast punk rock legend Steve Soto of The Adolescents. Steve was originally the bass player in Agent Orange back in ’79 he then served as bass player in the Adolescents until passing. the most recent album ‘Cropduster‘ being his final piece of work and easily one of 2018 finest albums. The band went on to tour the summer around Europe with stand-in player and dedicated the set each night to Steve where they had a backdrop replacing the band’s logo and replacing it with SOTO at Rebellion in August Tony Reflex dedicated the show to his bandmate in a touching speech and subsequent performance that was electric and memorable, Rest In Peace Steve 54 is way too young.
Right hopefully onto much happier matters for the month of June 2018. With Festival season in full swing Fraser headed to Download and watched The Bronx, The Hives and Turbonegro show the festivals other acts how Rock and Roll was meant to be delivered to the people. elsewhere it seemed like the world and his Mrs were off to see the Rolling Stones play some enormadome or should that be a field?
IT might have cost the GDP of some countries to get close enough to see the band measure up to the size of a subbutteo player but it has to be said nobody was disappointed in either the performance or the setlist the band was knocking out on this leg of the tour. Jagger was ever his peter pan like self careering from one side of the huge stage to the other like he was a child with more energy than most performers more than half his age and some.
Nev decided he’d bowl darn London way and take in what Camden Rocks had to offer. Basically, all the pubs of any note and the dive bars, as well as the more famous landmarks such as Dingwalls, Electric Ballroom etc throw, open their doors to live Rock and Roll for the day and if you have a wristband and there’s room at the inn then uh, you’re in! Just wear some comfortable shoes and a stage planner. You might just happen across your favourite new band or someone you’ve been meaning to catch and hey presto there they are. (Deep Breath time) This year Nev caught The Ramonas at the Dublin Castle – Dirty Thrills at The Underworld Talia Dean in Brew Dog then back to the underworld for Sonic Boom Six and some knees up skanking ska which went down rather well with Nev. It wouldn’t have been right had our roving scribe not caught Urban Voodoo Machine down at the lock where the place to be was indeed Dingwalls then to finish off a marathon of live entertainment it was Camden Assembly for some Ryan Hamilton & The Traitors before the Rifles was a curtain call for Mr Brooks but he wasn’t banking on bumping into Paul-Ronny Angel either so his night wasn’t quite over!
Ben went to Rambling Man Fair and enjoyed the performances of such heavyweight rockers as The Cult and also managed to catch RPM favourites Jim Jones and The Righteous Mind as well as the real mock rockers Steel Panth..Nah I can’t type it sorry folks I’d be doing RPM a disservice even mentioning them. anyway, Ben also managed to take in the large club gig of the month that was the triple-headed Britrock Must Be Destroyed touring carnival that featured a rotating line up of Reef, The Wildhearts, and Terrorvision. there were multiple dates to be fair and it was decided on the day how the running order would play out. I reckon each band made new fans on the night as reports were coming in of all three raising each others game and an excellent way to tour. The night Ben had in Leeds also saw Dodgy added to the lineup.
Our intrepid European correspondent or one of them Craggy got to see Repetitor live at Kabinet Muz, Brno I said Craggy got to see Repetitor in Brno…oh forget it he enjoyed it anyway said it was one of his highlights of the year to be fair.
Now with a sharp intake of breath June was positively overflowing with album releases that would bother top tens come the end of the year. Just a few of those contenders has to be The Interrupters with their ‘Fight The Good Fight’ that saw them leap up the rankings with a fantastic collection of tunes that was shaking up not just fans of the bands previous two albums but new music fans who heard one of the many potential hits on the radio or tv with the album set to just keep on selling and selling we are looking at the next big thing as they won’t be playing clubs for much longer.
Getting Tim Armstrong in to produce the record is a great move as the guy oozes class and knows his way around a ska-punk record and if he had a hand in any of the songwriting or arranging then boy pat yourselves on the back because the infectious ‘A Friend Like Me’, ‘Shes Kerosene’ and the awesome ‘Got Each Other’ are three reasons why this record will deservedly be in many ends of year top 3’s and rightly so..
Elsewhere June saw the release of London Towns Portuguese legends The Parkinson’s return with the LP ‘The Shape Of Nothing To Come’ that confirmed that these gentlemen still had it and it was a fine return to the fold in every way. Now expanded to a five piece you can take the boys out of punk rock but you can’t ever take the punk rock out of the boys and that boys and girls is a fact. the Parkinsons still have the chops.
Another couple of worthy mentions in the albums released in June has to be Smash Fashion and their ‘Rompus Pompous’. Which has gone down a right storm at RPM as they’ve really hit their stride on this one and joioning them would have to be Nottingham’s The Speedways with the fantastic slice of power pop that is ‘Just Another Regular Summer’ the brains behind the idea to write an album was Matt former guitarist of The Breakdowns he’s since formed a band after the success of the record and has played a number of shows and next year they’ve already planned some shows in Spain and London. It really is power pop perfection and a record we highly recommend.
The old school shouldn’t be forgotten either because June was also the month when the phrase you can’t teach an old dog new tricks was debunked because The Uk Subs once again released a new album ‘Subversions’ of some of their favourite songs by other people – sure a cover album. there might well be some you could see coming but there are others on the album that you would never have seen coming.
Over in NYC the birthplace of hardcore and home to some of the best bands around Madball made a new record they put out in June 2018 and the brutal ‘For The Cause’ was unleashed on the world and immediately felt at home with the RPM crew.
Finally a mention of records released in June this time for the magnificent London power poppin’ punk rockin’ Los Pepe who released their long playing Greatest Hits on Snap Records! it came with a CD of the album and they also got to knock out a single this month as well which was nice. Don’t get me started on singles that appeared this month because ther were plenty with my pick of the pack coming from the Randy Savages who were ‘Guilty Of Nuthin’ .
Hot on the heels of another kinda UK Tour the Subs have been into the studio to record some brand new tracks. Not content with completing the A-Z compendium of records and releasing a pair of amazing box sets as well as a solo album from Alvin the Subs headed back into the studio and let the tapes roll to capture some more of that irrepressible magic.
‘Screaming Senile’ is five songs four new ones and one rework of an old but classic. opening up with the Gibbs penned ‘Crank It Up’ which as you can probably imagine from the title is a hard-hitting rocker. Complete with Alvin’s vocal leading the way this mid-paced tune has your usual sparkling performances from Alvin’s huge glugging bass line to Stevens great off-kilter solo that totally rules another great song for a band that keeps on delivering.
‘Geordie Ray’ is a ferocious humdinger as the Subs hammer out a real banger with a wonderful huge riff handled by drummer Jamie Oliver before heading back into the verses. Superb stuff, really. From the backing vocals to Charlie spitting out the lyrics to that killer riff over the chorus. what a tune! Geordie Ray is the ultimate superfan tribute.
Not a band to let the grass grow under their feet nor do they stay still and bask in their achievements ‘Hounds At The Door’ is another high tempo tune that would show most new bands a clean pair of heels. This is how to do punk rock in the 21 st century – always something to say and always delivering, brilliant.
‘Keep On Running’ gets a freshen up. Apparently, this is closer to the original written by Alvin in ’81 as it was Garret who insisted on the picked guitar part rather than Alvin’s Thunders styling that he originally intended and it’s only ever been released on 7″ so a good chance to own it again on vinyl I guess. Great songs are great songs no matter how they’re recorded and this is certainly a great song.
To finish off this EP we have ‘2000 years’ which is a slower more measured tempo with a Stonesy like riff and has some honking Charlie harmonica all over it another reason to pick up a copy of this EP. Again the Subs release a must own EP that shows their exceptional talent and ability to pen great songs. Snooze you loose on this one folks.