Ladies And Gentlemen How Do?…On this very date in 1979 one of the finest punk rock records hit the shops.  Sure there was no Brian James genius to steer the band and it was now down to Sensible, Scabies, Vanian and the new bloke Ward to move to the next level and take the band on a more adventurous journey that’s for sure.

They still had the genius and mainstay tunes on the album that have been in the bands set ever since and it would seem strange not to see the band play and hear that killer Algy Ward grunt on ‘Love Song’ or the set closer and conductor of pandemonium over the years ‘Smash It Up’.

Its had the Anniversary treatment more times than the queen and had its fair share of reissues but one thing they’ve never done is fuck about with its exceptional sonic boom.  It might have been the Damned mark two dipping their collective toes into the songwriting pool and doing it exceptionally well and paving the way for the far more diverse ‘Black Album’ but it has never had the respect it should on a wide musical scale.  For me, you can keep your Pistols and your Clash (as much as I love both bands)  because my go to punk band from the class of the 70’s has always and will always be the Damned.  Never mentioned in the same breath as the other two but they were the first to this and first to that and first to the other and the only band that possibly could have come up with this record.  It might not have the might of the debut album but it’s not far behind that’s for sure.

 

What other groups could have called on the services of Lemmy, Strummer, Headon and Simonon to do backing vocals? Finally what better excuse to show how splended the band were than showing this TOTP footage of them performing ‘Love Song’  – Happy Birthday MGE the finest 39 in all the land.

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Dom Daley.

Originally recorded for radio broadcast this show has had the speed corrected and has been officially licensed from Iggy for release both on Vinyl and CD.  Now those of you familiar with the releases of Easy Action will be well aware of their catalogue and the fact they seem to have a Tony Robinson like leave no stone unturned pursuit of certain artists and amazing and interesting recordings and Iggy Pop is certainly one of those artists.  With an incredible history, The Ig has left scorch marks wherever he’s been and with whoever was playing in his band at that time.  Sure he had some forgetful shows but man did he have more than a fair share of memorable ones.

A week-long residency in one of Detroit rock city’s most famous venues saw Iggy and his band knock it right out of the park with a hypnotic, chaotic and utterly compelling set of classics that absolutely personified everything that is exciting and captivating in music.  From the opening howls of ‘Raw Power’ this performance sounds unhinged as Iggy tells his mom he’s on the radio before crashing into some of the most vital songs ever written by anyone, anywhere.

There is no let up in proceedings as the players who made the touring band also included Ivan Kral who played on the studio album (‘Soldier’) that preceded these tour dates. Iggy always demands every last drop of sweat from his bands and this lot really had the bit between their teeth as they hurtled along( as this show really testifies).  It’s not the classic Iggy that I love about this set (Even though I do) its the lesser known songs the ones like ‘Dog Food’, ‘Puppet World’ the brilliant ‘Knockin’ em Down (In The City)’ this actually sounds like the template used by the likes of Andy McCoy which makes sense as to why he later ended up in Iggy’s band. These are the songs that make this a must hear recording.

After the incredible thunderstorm of the first eight songs, it’s the ten-minute jam of ‘One For My Baby’ where Iggy pleads and begs the audience to shut up so he can croon but c’mon man what do you expect? these kids were hypnotized by the music and then, the audience is asked to move back and chill out. As the audience can be heard calling out during his “Soft Song” brilliant! He does make it to the end – eventually.

As he heads into the home straight all sense is thrown out the window as ‘Search And Destroy’ signals pandamonium no doubt.  ‘Funtime’ has a filthy bass line and then Iggy does his best Bono and gets a girl up to dance as ‘Nightclubbing’ plays out. The album is then closed off with the funky ‘I’m Alright’.  Again Easy Action delivers another compelling Iggy Pop live concert.

Easy Action

First 100 copies will include A4 Poster, Postcard and sticker set

Gatefold sleeve with printed inner bags

Unseen photos from the actual concert by Sue Rynski and audience members

Here at RPM we’ve been bouncing ideas around about getting our audience/writers all involved when the reissue of a classic LP comes through, then in the immortal words of Mr Benn “As if by magic” this baby was bought by just about everybody on pre-sale.

 

Nev – Now I’ve followed Primal Scream religiously since Sonic Flower Groove, own the whole back catalogue and as a fan boy was aware that George Drakoulis (producer of the Black Crowes) had been drafted in to re-do Give Out but Don’t Give Up, with the record company reportedly at the time not happy with the original version. That’s the Tom Dowd, responsible for producing amongst many others Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin as well as engineering on work by Ray Charles, Charlie Parker and John Coltrane version.

Now throw in The Memphis Horns and the Muscle Shoals rhythm section of Roger Hood and David Hawkins and you wonder what could have possibly gone wrong? Remember this a Primal Scream that had just had their biggest breakthrough with Screamadelica and that Creation had just signed a huge deal with Sony with the follow up hugely anticipated.

Now to get one up on the new versions arrival I reacquainted myself with the original?  I still at this point really got the Southern rock strut/glamtastic “Rocks “and “Jailbird” and still thoroughly enjoyed what else it had to offer. So my thoughts began to drift to so why release these Muscle Shoals versions? It couldn’t possibly better what Drakoulis had done, could it?

Now I’m a bit of a vinyl fan and wanted to put it against my vinyl version of the Drakoulis LP, so stayed away from the double cd, even tho’ there was a bonus disc of unreleased stuff. (I later found I had received a download code for the bonus material)

Dropping the needle the first thing that hits you is a sense of wonder, the tracks ooze, quality and style, rather than shouting at you from a rock standpoint, the soul and gospel lifts itself up and forward, everything’s understated, but it all commands attention, and you realize how powerful that rhythm section is but breathing, moving with the music, feeling what the rest of the band are doing, picking up on the organ, guitar, vocal embellishments and caressing it. Fuck this is/was a grown-up LP, truth be told too grown up for a Primal Scream holding on to their Rock/Punk leanings at the time.

You really get what musicianship is all about, a group bouncing off each other ebbing and flowing taking the spotlight in turn. Being brutally honest after one play I put the Drakoulis version back on and didn’t last a playthrough, it doesn’t even come close to the version that had been shelved.

So back to the original premise, do re-release/re-mastered LP’s have a place, this baby to me blows what came after out of the water, but it does make you wonder where primal scream would be if this had come out? Would they have gone down the same path, would they have given us Exterminator? Maybe it’s with hindsight we truly appreciate what we did before? Over to you Ben.

 

Primal Scream – Memphis Recordings

 

Ben – I wasn’t even a fan of Primal Scream back in ’94. That changed the day I heard ‘Rocks’ for the very first time blasting from my friend’s car stereo through the suburbs of Cardiff. Who the fuck was this glam stomper by? Primal Scream… but they’re an indie band, right? At the time I was surviving on a diet of The Wildhearts, The Manics, Redd Kross and Jellyfish.  The likes of ‘Screamadelica’ I would not discover until a few years later.

Yet, I remember being disappointed with ‘Give Out But Don’t Give Up’ when I first heard it. Even though it had a contemporary sound for the times, I was expecting a full album of ‘Jailbird’ and ‘Rocks’ style tunes and for me, it felt overlong and fleshed out with funky dub elements and jams which just weren’t my thing at the time. Yet, it grew on me in the months to come and became a constant on my stereo through the 90’s and beyond.

I went for the CD version of ‘The Original Memphis Recordings’ simply as it had a second disc of outtakes. For me, these are as essential as the album itself, as it shows the development of certain songs, especially in the case of ‘Free’. While the stunning Denise Johnson version on this album is surely the definitive recording, the bonus disc contains 2 full band rehearsal versions with Bobby Gillespie on lead vocals. Amongst early rehearsals and jams, there are also covers of ‘To Love Somebody’ and a live acoustic ‘All I Have To Do Is Dream’ as well as the original recording of ‘Funky Jam’. The monitor mix of ‘Call On Me’ sends shivers down the spine and a barebones ‘Cry Myself Blind’, stripped of all the backing harmonies is heartfelt, it segues into a jam of ‘Big Jet Plane’ with Gillespie seemingly trying out harmony ideas over the main chord progression. These outtakes are a great fly on the wall insight and essential listening for fans of this album.

This release sheds a whole new light on ‘Give Out But Don’t Give Up’. And while I will always like the Drakoulis version, the Memphis recordings are definitive.

It sounds more organic, more soulful. The prominence of the Memphis Horns and the soulful backing vocals of Denise Johnson, Jackie Johnson and Susan Marshall are just sublime. The live in the studio feel perfectly captured by Tom Dowd.

I have heard people say this album sounds like a long-lost Stones album and I would have to agree that ‘The Original Memphis Recordings’ is Primal Scream’s ‘Exile On Main Street’.  A timeless classic!

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and now listening to this stunning album I may find it hard to imagine why the band and their management felt underwhelmed by these recordings back in 1993, but it was a different time and the band were in a different mindset. As Andrew Innes states in the informative booklet “we were trying to fix a record that didn’t need fixing”.  So for a final view on the Memphis Sessions, the last word over to you Dom

 

 

Primal Scream-The Memphis Recordings

 

Dom -Maybe its time playing tricks and it didn’t really matter back in the 90’s because the Scream were better than most of what else was on offer anyway, but the original album to me sounded bang on the money.  I also was a big fan of the band and loved What Gillespie had grown into having been a big fan of The Jesus And Mary Chain back in school how could I not dip into Primal Scream (great name as well).  I did like the early stuff but ‘Screamadelica’ went viral and everybody wanted a piece of the band and then in the explosion that was Britpop and the phoney wars of Blur V’s Oasis, all the while the Scream were over there, outside it all doing their own thing and seemingly oblivious (looking back and reading about their excesses such as the tour with Depeche Mode maybe they were oblivious as to what was going on anywhere else) Going to America and recording with Tom Dowd seemed strange circa 94 and where the Scream were musically.

 

Sure resulting recordings from those classic sessions showcase the band cutting loose and exploring their Faces side and really going for it. It’s Primal Scream as you’ve never heard them before. What you have on this new recording is the Tom Dowd mix as well as a whole heap of outtakes and jams that show what was going on – it wasn’t all hard drugs and booze (well it might have been but they did actually do some work too) and the resulting newly found in a basement (yeah right) tapes sound so good I’m delighted they’ve seen the light of day.

 

There will be a BBC 4 documentary behind the ‘Give Out But Don’t Give Up’ story broadcasting later this year which should be a must see for all music fans because there is certainly some magic captured in these newly released recordings none more evident that the album’s highlight ‘Cry Myself Blind’. Sure it’s not as “produced” but the emotion captured in this take is stunning and Gillespie’s raspy vocals are beautiful.  Surely the point of heading to Memphis to record was all about overdoing the choir and the loose rhythm and just as the likes of the Stones and Faces before them isn’t Rock n Roll about excess?  Isn’t it about getting out of the humdrum and living it large?  Jailbird and Rocks were and still are bombastic cock rock and whilst many want to shy away from that I love the fact that they sang about booze, Cadillacs and drugs they did it so we didn’t have to, we should be thanking them. I love the horns honkin’ on ‘the album opener and wish I’d been able to hear that from 94 but like one of the main inspirations on this once said ‘You can’t always get what you want’ but now it seems we can and if Bobby wants to go rummaging through any lofts or wardrobes then feel free I’d love to hear what else they can uncover.

 

Sure it wasn’t ‘Screamadelica’ version 2 –  they’d already been there and done that this was a band moving forwards (always were and always will be) and despite what some might suggest I loved the likes of ‘Cry Myself Blind’ and still do and with the added swing and laid-back versions I can have a choice of what to play and so what if the lyrics are a bit cheesy on times I couldn’t care any less. There are some albums and moments in time where cheesy cliché driven lyrics and riffs are bang on the money and this boys and girls is one of them.  You can keep your Britpop because Primal Scream were global and continent sweeping not insular and inward-looking and to this day they’re innovative and risk-taking rock n rollers unlike the other headline grabbers of their day who sit on their piles of dosh self-plagiarising and growing fat and old.  ‘Give out but don’t give up’ still holds true. and the accompaniment of these Memphis sessions are most welcome I for one can’t wait for this BBC 4 documentary on these sessions to be aired later this year,  Awesome.

 

Now if Bobby (Gillespie) or Alan (McGee) read this maybe you can go rummage through a cellar or attic and see what else you might have that we can immerse ourselves in and keep a note to self don’t lose tapes like these again 😉 Lost tapes my arse. haha!

 

But what do you think?

Buy Here

 

Nev Brooks.

Speaking to Pity my Brain Head Honcho Jamie Richards when he first announced this gig, we talked about the problems running a smaller promotions company. How difficult it is to promote live music within the current Tribute/cover band fixation, and how great local artists and groups are getting missed and just not surviving, never fulfilling their potential.

I’m all for supporting the underground, I’ve vowed never to watch a tribute band and will always champion the underdog, something we here at RPM espouse passionately, fuck the mainstream or musicians that make their living from other peoples music, write your own fucking material, then tour, then learn what being a musician really means.

Enough, rant over tonight was all about new music and we had three acts on, First up Matt Richards put together a cracking little acoustic set, leaning towards the indie rock vein, it would be nice to see him with a band, maybe up front with a second guitar player? But a great start to the evening and do you know what we bemoan the size of crowds for support bands/acts but the Priory was rammed from the off, with a very different audience than I’m used to.

Next up Jules Gardner I’d seen prior to tonight supporting Ginger Wildheart on his last acoustic Americana round of gigs, tonight an appreciative crowd took the music to heart and the applause was great to hear from a more than happy crowd.

So on to the main act Zervas and Pepper who I have to hold my hands up to not having heard anything by before tonight’s performance. While doing some digging around I discovered they had actually formed back in 2007 hailed from Cardiff, and that they have actually released four LP’s (Somewhere in the city, Lifebringer, Abstract Heart and 2017’s Wilderland which you can pick up at the link at the tail end of the review.

They’ve picked up critical acclaim, played Green man, Glastonbury and any number of big UK festivals, and drawn serious interest across the globe, Wilderbeast was produced by James Raymond (Crosby, Stills, Nash).

Opening with I believe “Buffalo Crow” the band really nailed that late 60’s early 70’s Laurel Canyon feel, grounded in counter-culture history. Tracks like “Living in a small town” really hit home and the dual male/female vocals and harmonies really shone throughout the set.

As the band grew into the set the music really began to flow and you could gauge the band’s visible enjoyment coming right back at them from the crowd. How would I describe them having gone in blind, definitely psychedelic, leaning towards 70’s rock, hints of both folk and country.  but ultimately having a sound purely their own. I think the choice of “Ohio” to end the set from Crosby, Stills Nash and Young really nailed the band’s allegiances to the mast.

At a time when local or underground bands struggle to make ends meet tonight’s sell-out crowd shows that with The Priory Sessions Pity my Brain might well have found a new home venue!! Good luck guys.

Website

Gatherers of the World, Killing Joke are delighted to announce their 40th anniversary World tour, Laugh At Your Peril.
Forty years ago this summer I met Big Paul, one year later we released our first EP. Our fortieth anniversary celebrations will therefore be stretched over 2 years and begins with a world tour, parties and talks by Youth and myself, a new magnum opus by KJ, who is ,after all this time, recognised as one of the most innovative and influential bands of all time. Love is the law let the festivities begin!!! “ Jaz.
“Forty years in the wilderness …Thought that was supposed to be 40 days.
As Jaz reminds me “Survival is success” and although the band have never been fiscally fat commercially, it has allowed us to have incredible lives, both individually and collectively and we have created a very rich wealth of uncompromising music. It’s a  legacy, that spans 4 decades ….40 years of spine tingling, uncompromising beautiful noise.
The band continue to inspire and bludgeon down the bullshit in the world into a white hot, blast furnace Dub of unrelenting passion, a rollercoaster, white knuckle punch in the face of beautiful agony/reality and timeless cosmic joy and soul. 
To commit to the creative beauty and vision you have as an artist, is an almost perverse way to live a life and the cost and consequences are immense…yet this is how we inform ourselves as a society,  of what is real and important In a world of fake news and fake emotions …Like Shiva dancing the world into existence,  we are all simultaneously destroying and creating every moment of our reality . It is not though politics that the world is changed but through Art. Art alone can tell us who we really are, emotionally, intellectually and physically, far better than anything else. That is why we have committed so much, for so long to this one idea …Killing Joke 
Thanks to all the fans and gatherers that have supported and joined us in this endless quest.” Youth.
Killing Joke the tour started in the United States at the Studio Seven in Seattle on Saturday, 1st September before heading into mainland Europe. This run of 45 shows concludes at the Roundhouse in London on Saturday, 17th November.
 
Very much music as ritual – raw, uncompromising and precisely-targeted lyrically; Jaz ColemanGeordieYouth & Big Paul, the original Killing Joke personnel, are currently delivering the best and most relevant material of their career, with no mellowing or softening of the edges getting in the way.
With collective nostrils flared and righteous anger carried torch-high, Killing Joke continue to take their music of resistance to fresh levels, both in the studio and out on the road…

Armitage Smith.

On Saturday 20th October, I popped along to The Lounge in Camden for the final date of the “There’s Still Room To Rock ‘n’ Roll” UK tour that featured The Dirty Strangers and The Brutalists. When I say “UK” in actual fact only two dates were outside the confines of the M25. Opening proceedings were Rich Ragany and the Digressions’ first full-on live gig. Joining “Rags”, in no particular order were formerly of the UK Subs Ricky McGuire on Bass, Simon Maxwell, (The Role Models, 20 Professional Youths) on drums, Kit Swing rhythm guitar and vocals (Seven Days and Doesn’t Die), Andy Brook (Shush) on keys and Gaff lead guitar (from the Dedwardians). With a half hour, time slot Rags uncharacteristically was more subdued than he is when he’s playing with his “Day Job” band Role Models with the between song banter. Pretty much letting the music do the talking, which it did in volumes. The Role Models arguably are the perfect soundtrack to a Friday, Saturday night out. With The Digressions though, instead of a sweaty packed dive bar, you’re treated to a slap-up three-course meal. Naturally, their just-released album “Like We’ll Never Make It” was aired in I think its entirety and if you thought the album was good, live it really does all fall into place. This might’ve been the band’s debut gig, but they seem supremely comfortable in each other’s presence.  I had only one criticism and that was that Kit seemed to be using her guitar as a comforter more than an instrument. Now don’t get me wrong as she has an amazing voice, but I would’ve preferred her to ditch the guitar and literally be more vocal, taking over some of Rich’s vocal lines. Funnily enough, just before the gig, Simon asked if I was going to review their set because if I was they’d better not be shit. I’ve never given much thought to what the polar opposite to shit is, but whatever it is, Rich Ragany & the Digressions were it.

The Brutalists feature a non-bass playing Nigel Mogg on vocal duties with brothers Mick and Robert Cripps, Kent Holmes and Charlie Nice making up the rest of the band. Part Thames Delta, part Westway, part Brixton, part Bash Street Kids, it’s hard to think that the band reside in the sunnier climes of LA. Like The Digressions the band are even better live than on record and that not an insult to the producers of both records. It’s just a willing, appreciative audience, will fire up any band with both feeding off each other. After the Brutalists set; my belly was full. Also, like the Digressions The Brutalists plundered their debut album but managed to slip in a cover of the Rolling Stones “When The Whip Comes Down” which to the ill-informed, could be their own. The stage at the Lounge is rather small, just enough for a drum kit with a stack either side, which meant Mick, Nigel and Kent were playing in the audience. Not that this seemed to bother anyone as the band were able to request and quickly receive drinks from the bar.

The Dirty Strangers have been led by Alan Clayton since the band’s inception in the mid-80’s. The Dirties have a strong Rolling Stones connection with both Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards chipping in the odd guitar track here and there over the course of the Dirty Strangers recorded output and sometimes turning up to play live. With that in mind, image if Keith Richards hadn’t bumped into Mick Jagger on Dartford train Station in October 1961, instead of becoming the Stones lead vocalist, keeping Ian Stewart on piano and striking up a writing partnership with Brain Jones. For me, that’s The Dirty Strangers. Guest musician for this tour was former Quireboy and current Thirsty guitarist Guy Bailey who fitted in perfectly with the Dirties modern take of Rhythm and Blues when R ‘n’ B actually meant something worthwhile.

For “Gold Cortina” taken from the “West 12 to Wittering” album that the aforementioned Ronnie Wood plays the guitar on, Mick Cripps relieved Al of his guitar with Nigel and Al embracing, looking like Rock ‘n’ Roll Siamese Twins to share the vocals. After their set, I said to Al that if only every single gig that I went to could be that good as what I had just seen.

Photographs used with kind permission from Eric Duvet Photography 

 

Buy Dirty Strangers

Buy The Brutalists

Rich Ragany Pledge

Eric Duvet Photography

Dom Daley

I love me some Replacements,The Get Up Kids and Gaslight Anthem certainly had their moments as did Downtown Struts well you can add New Junk City to that list maybe not at the pinnacle with The Replacements but up there with The struts and Gaslight anthem this Atlanta quartet has gone and made an album about aging and how to stay young at heart and they’ve gone and managed to capture that spirit within the tracks on this album.  ‘Losing Side’ has a great tempo and I love the rage in the guitar that kicks in on top of that thumping bass line.  There is certainly a hint of Minor threat and the alt-punk scene in this bands DNA and equal amounts of Americana or roots folk if you like not Guthrie folk but inner city folk.

The band certainly has a lot of energy to burn and from the opening salvo of ‘Useless Friends’ that energy is apparent.  I remember a time when the likes of Buffalo Tom had some of this spirit and there are touches of that scene here too. Take  ‘Come Tomorrow’ for instance with its melodic vocals and jangling guitars playing over the solid rhythm.  It’s stirring stuff.

I guess what I’m trying to say is they draw their inspiration from many places but manage to mold it into a very listenable and coherent record that had some real high points and to be fair no particular low points. Even the obvious slow song ‘In Our Blood’ is good with its puffed out chest it’s almost got one foot in the Goo Goo Dolls camp (not modern Dolls but when they still had great tunes).

Good effort all round me thinks I’ll have to go and give that debut album a listen now.

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Martin Chamarette.

For the sixth year running, The Urban Voodoo Machine bring their unique brand of ‘bourbon-soaked, gypsy blues bop n stroll’ to Bedford town. While their full, 12th annual ‘Gypsy Hotel’ extravaganza takes place in London the following evening, they have brought as much variety and colour as possible tonight. We are in the more intimate Holy Molys room in the venue, which, while surprising, actually suits the band better. Yes, all eight of them, plus guests.

And warming up the audience tonight is the local, honey-throated Adrian Stranik, of The Broadway Twisters, with an acoustic set, ably assisted by Long John Laundry on harmonica. A fitting start to proceedings.

If you’re even vaguely aware of The Urban Voodoo Machine, you’ll know that they don’t do half-measures. So saying, the delightful Trixie Tassels brings her burlesque show to, shall we say, increase the temperature somewhat. More of that later.

Taking to the stage in their customary, somber procession, The Urban Voodoo Machine are the definition of entertainment, for the more discerning, primal palette. Their ‘Theme’ is followed by ‘High Jeopardy Thing’ and the pounding ‘Cheers For The Tears’, but their setlists are always up for improvisation. It is clear from early on that these more intimate surroundings work to the band’s advantage. Hence, their no.1 rule, ‘Shut the fuck up’, is more or less adhered to by the audience. Certainly more so than in previous years, which helps no end during the quieter songs.

‘Fallen Brothers’ feels more celebratory tonight than in the last couple of years. Rob Skipper and Nick Marsh could never be forgotten, naturally, but this line up is certainly establishing itself and carrying on their fine work. There is a sense of fun and mischief tonight. Paul-Ronney Angel picks someone from the crowd as “drinks roadie” for the evening, climbs the speakers and, falling forward, is carried to the bar and back, mic in hand. It was that kind of night.

Between all that, there was ‘Crazy Maria’, ‘Pipe And Slippers Man’, ‘Train Wreck’, ‘While We Were All Asleep’ and ‘Help Me, Jesus’. A two-hour set which seemed to fly by. And Ms. Tassels returned to provide a suitable finale, leading the band through the crowd whilst fire-eating. Seriously, what more could you want? It is always an unforgettable night with The Urban Voodoo Machine, which is why we keep coming back. See you next time. Cheers!

Buy  Urban Voodoo Machine Here

Hey, pop pickers!
let me present Ginge Knievil’s Top of the Pops 2018. Here, we have the cream of underground punk, glam, garage, power pop and rock ‘n’ roll. In the name of charity, bands have come together from Wales, England, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Norway, Sweden, USA and Japan.
Mental Health Matters Wales is a charity that’s very close to his heart. They’ve helped him in times of crisis and were imperative to his recovery. 100% of the proceeds of the 2 disc set with go directly to Mental Health Matters Wales.
Presales: 1st November 2018.
Release: 1st December 2018.
We decided here at RPM to catch u with our favourite bipolar rock and rolla and have a quick impromptu chat about the CD and his own band here’s what words were said –
Where did you get the idea to do these comps?
There were two key factors that spurred the decision to make it happen. I received some support from Mental Health Matters Wales after hitting a crisis point with my Bipolar Disorder in July this year. It left me thinking “how on earth can I repay those guys?” They were essential in my recovery and they do it all for free. I’d reviewed a load of bands in 2018 and so the idea of merging the two seemed like an awesome idea. I guess the idea was born through the love of a good mixtape too. You must have been blown away when the calibre of bands started offering songs to you to get on these comps? Definitely. I sent out blanket emails, not expecting a response at all, and then I was suddenly inundated with offers! I had to keep things based on my last 12 months worth of reviews due to the amount of interest. Any particular favourites? I genuinely love all 42 bands that have donated a track so picking a favourite would be impossible. I was totally over the moon with the Ten Benson track. Chris Teckkam went over and above and delved into the archive and pulled out an exclusive version of “Tits” that was recorded live at The Garage in London. He got the track mastered especially for the comp and everything. I’m just totally thrilled that all the bands were willing to put their name to this little project. I sat back the other day and looked at the tracklisting and went “whoa!” – there are bands from Wales, England, Norway, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Japan and the USA. The fact that they’ve all come together to support a little charity in my community is pretty special.
Who would you hope gets their shit together with a new record that you can then include? Are The Hellacopters recording any time soon?! Hahahahaha. Maybe down the line you and Sal can get together and have a “fistful of top of the pops transatlantic comp” tours? Hahaha.
It was great news when Sal announced the return of his comps. I discovered a load of great bands from the first time around. Whilst the TOTP comp is for charity, hopefully, people will discover their new favourite band in the process. Double bubble, if you like. It’s funny you should say about a tour because more than one person has said what an awesome festival it would be. I don’t think I’m the man to make that happen though! There seems to be a lot of love at the moment for Rock and Roll with loud guitars. Is it about time for a resurgence? Me and you know that there’s always been great rock ‘n’ roll if you scratch the surface. Part of me wants to keep them all to ourselves, mind! Hahaha. I guess it’s kind of baffling how bands like The Hip Priests haven’t been picked up a larger label with some clout behind them. The amount they’ve achieved on their own terms is staggering. I say this without meaning disrespect to the smaller labels; their input is integral for getting good quality rock ‘n’ roll out there. I think it only takes one label to take a punt. It’s a no-brainer in my eyes. All the hard work has already been done.
What next is in the pipeline?
I’ll see how this one sells and then maybe have a look at future releases. I quite like the idea of “Top of the Power Pops.” I’ll ask the postmistress for her take on things when I turn up at the Post Office with a shed load of CDs just before Christmas! She’ll know the answer!! Hahahaha.
As for Nicotine Pretty you’ve had a decent response for the new EP and a few shows lined up. What have you got planned over the coming months?
The response was not something we expected. Nothing is taken for granted, but when good review after good review started pouring in, we were obviously more than happy. There are shows with The Quireboys and Eddie and the Hot Rods up next and then we’ll have a little look at things in the New Year.
Have you enough material for the debut long player ready to go?
All of these songs have been floating around for two years so yeah, there’s more than enough for a long player in reserve. I quite like the EP route though. It’s short, sharp and in your face. The idea was for a series of EP’s on CD and then a vinyl compilation at the end. That still may be achievable… if we don’t self-destruct! Hahaha.
There must have been a time when you thought this band was over before it begun? Without a doubt. People who know the history, know the history. There’s no need for me to repeat things. The band has been stop/start but somehow we’ve kept things going. There were several points where I thought that this bunch of tracks wouldn’t get a physical release. I still call it “The EP That Should Never Have Been.” Things are a bit hazy as we lived and breathed the recording process for a few months to get things the best we could. We did it though and we’re so, so proud of it.
Does being in a band improve your playing and songwriting? Or did the downtime give you a focus on writing the best songs you could and improve your playing / songwriting?
I only really picked up a six string with some purpose when Nicotine Pretty started so I guess my playing must’ve improved. I used to play a bit in ‘95 or something but always used Richey Edwards volume levels. I’ve had a few bass gigs over the years but never writing, playing and singing. Things started off really sedate when I hooked up with Lew to start Nicotine Pretty. We few essentially a poor man’s Dogs D’Amour on Valium. Things have since evolved and I like to think my playing has too. My aim is to be Grade 8 Johnny Thunders!
How do you prefer to write? Alone or bouncing off someone else? When you write and take it to the band do the songs change a great deal?
I’m more of a loner at this point in time. When I take things to the band, bits change and arrangements alter but things don’t deviate too much. Lew has a hand in songwriting too but we’ve yet to write together. It’s probably for the best as I value our friendship!!

Ben Hughes.

The sophomore album from Derby glam rockers The Struts has been a long time coming. It’s 4 years since their debut ‘Everybody Wants’ hit the shelves and the last few years has seen the band come a long way. They took the sharp move of relocating to the US in 2015 and have toured hard there ever since, building a fan base opening for the likes of Gn’R, The Stones, The Who and then touring with The Foo Fighters, winning over a hoard of new, young fans along the way.

With the imminent release of the Queen biopic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, it seems the perfect time to release an album that draws on the flamboyancy, the theatrics and the drama of that classic band. Love em or loathe em, The Struts are a band full of ambition, emotion and killer choruses that cannot be ignored.

 

First up, it appears someone had the bright idea to bookend the album with two versions of ‘Body Talks’ which seems slightly odd, especially as the more popular version with Kesha on vocals is tagged on at the end, yet the epic ‘Ashes (part 2)’ seems like a more natural album closer. Why not just go all out and put the Kesha version as the album opener and bin the original version? They are pretty similar anyway and the two singers voices work well together. Don’t just slip it on the end hoping hardcore Struts fans won’t notice, but Kesha fans will be drawn in by its inclusion. Embrace the pop collaboration record company bigwigs, you normally do!

“Hey you, don’t you know who I think I am?’ Shouts singer Luke Spiller in the opening line of recent single ‘Primadonna Like Me’. You want your rock ‘n’ roll stars confident and cocksure, with attitude to match? Spiller has it all in spades. It rides on an overly familiar Stones riff that has been used more times than I’ve had hot dinners, but if Primal Scream and The Dandy Warhols can get away with it, then why not The Struts too? It’s a proper glam stomper that struts (sorry) like all big hits should. Delivered from the crotch, Spiller’s trademark rolling of the r’s, and the “do ya wanna” refrain make it a winner, a song that has ‘big hit’ stamped all over it.

 

Describing The Struts without referencing Queen is like eating a doughnut without licking your lips, nigh on impossible to do! Yet they don’t actually sound like a carbon copy, it’s more in the vocals and the delivery, rather than the songwriting. I mean, the falsetto vocals and glam stomp of ‘In Love with a Camera’ puts them somewhere between The Darkness and Foxy Shazam which ain’t a bad place to be. But the likes of ‘Fire (part 1)’ and ‘Tatler Magazine’ are as Queen as you can get. The former, produced by Butch Walker, builds to an epic, euphoric chorus, accentuated with layers of vocal harmonies. The latter contains all the pomp and circumstance you would expect from a band that cites Queen as a major influence and a band who want fame, fortune and the whole shebang.

Obligatory ballad ‘Somebody New’ is designed to make the girls swoon and shed a tear. Ironically, it was written by the singer while he was taking a dump! Not so much lighters in the air, as Febreeze methinks, I could live without this tune, to be honest.

Elsewhere, and in complete contrast, they take a chance and get all ‘Hot Space’ on ‘Who I Am’ and they actually pull it off in effortless fashion. The 70’s Rod Stewart meets Scissor Sisters pumping disco vibes are perfect for Spiller’s Freddie-esque delivery. It’s an album highlight.

I must admit I rolled my eyes at the balladic intro of ‘Ashes (Part 2)’, but it actually builds to an epic Queen style stomper with a classy harmonised solo to boot and even a nod to The Who as it reaches its climax. As I said earlier, it feels like the natural album closer.

‘Young & Dangerous’ is an album that’s rich in rock ‘n’ roll nostalgia, harking back to a time when rock music WAS pop music. Yet, it has a glossy, contemporary feel. Their glam-tinged, pop rock anthems resonate with the youth of today and now they have made waves in the US, I’m sure they will set their sights on the UK and the rest of the world.

There’s a lot of talk recently about where all the rock stars are, where are the new GnR, the AC/DC for the next generation, where are the future stadium headliners? Well, like them or not The Struts are leading the pack as contenders, they are the poster boys for a new generation of rock music lovers who need larger than life characters to look up to. And Luke Spiller is a man who was born to do this, will you deny him his place amongst the stars?

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