To celebrate their 40th anniversary, Canadian thrash/prog metallers Voivod have revisited and re-recorded earlier material from 1984 – 2003 and thrown it into a 2023 flavoured pot and called it Morgoth Tales. There is one brand new song, the album’s title track. The band have chosen some of their more obscure material to go back to and given the songs a new lease of life. I’m not really into bands re-recording/mixing old material, the reason we liked it in the first place is because of how it sounded back then. Voivod however, have done a great job here. Crystal clear production values and superb performances reminding us just how influential a band Voivod are.
The track listing is as follows:
Condemned To the Gallows (2023 Version) [Originally on Metal Massacre V Compilation, 1984]
Thrashing Rage (2023 Version) [Originally on “Rrröööaaarrr”, 1986]
Killing Technology (2023 Version) [Originally on “Killing Technology”, 1987]
Macrosolutions To Megaproblems (2023 Version) [Originally on“Dimension Hatröss”, 1988]
Pre-Ignition (2023 Version) [Originally on “Nothingface”, 1989]
Nuage Fractal (2023 Version) [Originally on “Angel Rat”, 1991]
Fix My Heart (2023 Version) [Originally on “The Outer Limits”, 1993]
Rise (2023 Version, feat. Eric Forrest) [Originally on “Phobos”, 1997]
Rebel Robot (2023 Version, feat. Jason Newsted) [Originally on “Voivod”, 2003]
Morgöth Tales [New Song]
It’s nice to hear ex band members Eric Forrest (E – Force) and Jason Newsted (Jasonic) on the tracks Rise and Rebel Robot respectively. This really is a quality album; the bands diversity is highlighted beautifully. Voivod can sound like Celtic Frost one minute and like Rush the next. The musicianship is other worldly at times, they really are masters of their craft.
Here’s what drummer Michel “Away” Langevin commented about Morgöth Tales: “’Morgöth Tales’ covers 40 years of space exploration. It was exciting for us to revisit a more obscure part of the Voïvod catalogue, from thrash-punk to prog-metal to…? The title track is a new song, which we started writing in the tour bus and hotels during the Opeth European tour in November/December 2022. It has the vibe of the experimental music we are doing nowadays, with a new twist, I think. We also had the great thrill of getting E-Force and Jasonic involved on this album. I hope you’ll dig it, Chewy, Rocky, Snake and I certainly had a blast recording it. All aboard and ready for take-off!“ Morgoth Tales is released via Century Media Records on July 21st on the following formats: Limited CD Jewel case in O-Card and Digital Album formats will also come with a cover version of the Public Image Ltd. track “Home” as bonus.
Hailing from the eclectic city of Bristol The Radio Makers deliver their debut album ‘Lucky Stars’ with its alluring mix of Glam Rock and guitar pop it opens with the retro stomp of ‘Edible Hearts’ that storms in like they’ve been on a steady diet of Early Japan, Roxy Music and some post punk. Its got a great production courtesy of Steve Evansson who’s work includes Siouxsie without her banshees, Goldfrapp and the Proclaimers none the less. As an introduction I like the bass wandering around the song whilst the confident vocal sound like a youthful Brian Ferry, impressive.
‘Echoes’ has a warbling synth not a million miles from Blondie and other 80s new wave. It has a chart-bothering melody and hook that will catch you and reel you in. ‘Jo Jo’ sounds like it’s born of a heavy diet of Steve Strange and post-Berlin Bowie which isn’t a bad place to set yourself. However much they use synths and punchy basslines there is always the chiming distorted guitar to anchor these songs.
One of the standout tracks is ‘Girl Who Looks Like You’ with its menacing verse building to a punchier chorus whilst the guitars swirl around the vocal melody. The lead single is the glam stomping ‘I’m A Poseur’ (of course it is) with its heavy on-the-floor tom stomp and quirky synth its a decent ear worm no doubt about it.
The albums title track is also a very decent slice of guitar driven pop music where they leave enough light and shade and the song sound big enough to be a hit if we were in the heyday of singles otherwise known as the early 80s.
‘I’m A Tribute (To Me)’ rocks out towards the albums close and wipes some snot across its face along with the smudged guyliner with its glam stomp in full effect. To close the album they have an outragiously epic ballad in the shape of ‘Talk About You’ although totally unoriginal its an epic cliche to end such an album on a tear jerker which isn’t a bad thing and the reason its such a cliche is because it works if the band deliver the goods and to be fair The Radio Makers have just about pulled it off.
In summery this is a very decent offering with some really good songs that grab your attention and are really well arranged. Mixing up several genres that have clearly influenced the writers with a bold vision of guitar driven indie pop.
There are many people who still think that the 1984 rockumentary This Is Spinal Tap was the originator of spoof hard rock bands. These people are wrong. In 1983, the Comic Strip Presents team unleashed the self-professed ‘Four Horsemen of the Rock Apocalypse’ Bad News onto an unsuspecting world.
The short film ‘Bad News Tour’ followed vocalist and lead guitarist and lead everything Vim Fuego/Alan Metcalfe (Adrian Edmonson) and his band of fuck ups, bass player Colin Grigson (Rik Mayall), rhythm guitarist and top sausage muncher Den Dennis (Nigel Planer), and (crap) drummer Spider Webb (Peter Richardson) for a day in the life of a spoof metal band. We witnessed just how useless they were, and a cult ‘band’ was formed. The fly on the wall style of the rockumentary was brilliantly done, culminating with the band’s gig in Grantham where they entertained the audience of the journalist Sally Friedman (Jennifer Saunders), a schoolgirl they had picked up on the way (Dawn French) … they would never get away with that now… a man and his dog, and a few other bewildered looking punters.
They soon became ingrained in every metal fans psyche! The band made their live debut at the 1986 Monsters of Rock festival in Castle Donington. This was filmed for the follow up TV show More Bad News which aired on Channel 4 in 1988. In-between this, the band holed themselves up in a studio with none other than Brian May of Queen to record their debut self-titled album.
I played the album nonstop as a fourteen-year-old and loved every bit of it. From the extremely heavy metal intro to the songs themselves. Warriors of Ghengis Khan is an out and out metal classic, Masturbike has some of the best lyrics ever written… ‘See the cat on the mat, see the cat it has shat’...pure poetry. The title track is as catchy as anything you’ve ever heard. Even their version of Bohemian Rhapsody is brilliant. Badly played…obviously but still brilliant with Vim professing at the end of the song that they would ‘Blow Queen off the fucking stage’. Drink ‘Til I Die gives us an insight into the band’s liver abuse, ‘Give me another drink a Mr bartender… if you don’t, I’ll stick your dick in a blender’.
The highlights of the album are by far the hilarious arguments and constant fucking about that fills the gaps between songs. Apparently, Brian May just left the mics on in the studio and the guys would improvise on the spot. The album is a source of quotes for my friends and I to this day.
It’s great news (not Bad News) that those lovely people at Cherry Red records are re-releasing the album on a remastered CD with their second album ‘Bootleg’ on a bonus disc. The self-titled debut had songs and arguing, Bootleg is just mostly arguing.
If you’ve never heard Bad News before, now is your chance to revel in heavy metal folklore. Bow down to the Four Horsemen of the Rock Apocalypse. There will be plenty of ‘Burning, Looting, Raping and a Shooting’.
When it comes to hardcore, my tastes skew to the NYHC of the 80’s and early 90’s as well as the likes of Black Flag from California. Over the past year, I have run across some hardcore bands that have really grabbed me, like the brilliant GEL, and made me dig deeper into the genre to see who else will grab me. Diced immediately clicked with me with bursts of rage and sneaky hooks across these 14 action packed minutes. Formed as a side band for some of the members in Tulsa, Oklahoma, they have struck gold, and we can debate if this is a demo or a ‘proper’ release. Either way, Diced has firmly planted themselves on my radar.
Starting with a track called ‘Intro’ does give an initial indication that this could be a rough sounding recording, but that is not the case at all. A spoken word sample gives way to a quickly building minute long track that immediately makes an impression. The mix is awesome and allows the instruments to clearly shine. Taylor’s vocals are filled with emotion and sit perfectly in the mix to give the track a live feel. The marching rhythm providing a seamless segway into second track ‘What Will You Do?’ where Brian’s guitar slices through the soul. The album was apparently recorded as a 4 piece with a second guitarist joining after the recording was finished. This song serves up everything I could want in a hardcore song with the guitar providing part of the hook and is complimented with the rhythm section of Ryan (bass) and Nick (drums) providing another. The band tops this off with some vocal hooks as well, which come down to Taylor screaming them perfectly. The breakdown at the end finishes this perfect monster of a song. ‘Cut Your Teeth’ blasts through the speakers next and has a subtle switch over the back 40 seconds or so of the song that take it to another level.
‘Blank Stare’ essentially starts us on the flipside of the release and is another of my favorite songs here. The band give the song time to build and do not rush blindly into bludgeoning the listener. With three of the songs around three minutes in length, this allows them to build some dynamics within the song and separate them from many of their peers where a 14-minute runtime would equate to a full-length album. They manage it in five songs and an intro. ‘Drowning” is another of the longer tracks with a scream near the beginning recalling Sami from GEL. The lead guitar work here provides a lot of power to the song as it balances moshing, a full speed assault, and then a return to a moshfest portion to end the song. Final song ‘Disconnection’ allows Nick to get a spotlight on his drum work at the beginning of the song, and he adds some great pieces throughout the song as well which give it additional teeth. Taylor’s vocals remain harsh throughout the album with no super melodic choruses or hooks to be found. Her vocals work perfectly within the music and serve notice that ticking her off would not be in your best interest.
Many years ago (the 90’s), there was a band from Oklahoma called For Love Not Lisa who released an album I have always enjoyed called ‘Merge’ which borrowed from many genres including hardcore, and I cannot name too many other Oklahoma bands off the top of my head who fall into the hardcore genre. Diced have come together and delivered a memorable debut release that you likely could have already played through instead of reading what I have wrote here. Check this one out on Bandcamp and then help spread the word to get Diced on tour and playing near all of us in the future.
From their underground post punk/goth rock early years, to the classic rock inspired late 80’s stadium filling years, onto the poorly received 90’s albums, the disbanding, reforming and recent slew of albums and touring, The Cult’s journey has been a rocky one for Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy, but they are still here releasing quality music and touring The Cult back catalogue to their hearts content. While The Cult peaked commercially in 1989, they remain a big draw on both sides of the pond. Last year they completed a co-headline tour with Alice Cooper in the UK and across North America with BRMC.
Riding on the release of last year’s moody and ethereal ‘Under The Midnight Sun’ the Cult play a trio of outdoor theatre shows bringing their old touring buddies The Mission on board, culminating in a night by the seaside at Scarborough Open Air Theatre.
The Mission have done the success/hiatus/resurgence thing as much as any other 80’s band, and with original members Craig Adams and Simon Hinkler back in the line up with frontman Wayne Hussey, they remain a solid live draw who gain critical acclaim wherever they go.
Tonight’s support set on a big stage is a stark contrast to my last encounter with this band. A sold out, epic 2 set marathon at a 300-capacity club at The Crescent Working Man’s Club in York last summer. It was probably the hottest gig I have ever been to. Tonight, as I stand watching the band crank out ‘Tower Of Strength’ to a backdrop of looming grey Yorkshire skies, I am thinking it was a bad decision to not bring a jacket!
The band are suitably attired in black. Led by a fully suited and booted Wayne Hussey, a bone white 12 string dangling at his hips, shades ever present, his dulcet tones filling the early evening air. Two fans are already atop shoulders making shapes at the singer, as he leads his band through a set of sublime goth rock hits. Yet, if you are oblivious to the band’s discography it probably seems a bit lost in the cold air of this theatre to be honest. While there is no denying the power of the likes of ‘Severina’, ‘Beyond The Pale’ and ‘Garden Of Delight’, the ethereal beauty of ‘Butterfly On A Wheel’ seems to lose something in the vast expanse of this open-air theatre. Even the obligatory confetti throw during ‘Wastelands’ seems a tad lackluster in daylight hours. Maybe Goth rock really does work better when the sun goes down.
That said, a killer cover of the Stooges ‘1969’ and the closer ‘Deliverance’ sound as powerful as I could have hoped, but overall The Mission were nowhere near as epic as the band I saw this time last year in a hot and sweaty club.
The skies are darkening, the rain has held off and the air is filled with the scent of dry ice and incense as The Cult take to the stage to great cheers. Grungy opener ‘Rise’ from 2001 album ‘Beyond Good And Evil’ is a welcome surprise. Dressed like a gothic-tinged eastern Shamen, Ian Astbury looks fitter than his years would suggest, and his voice is still as powerful as it ever was. To his left Billy Duffy, his hair and beard grown out, looks every inch the LA biker he has become, and with his Les Paul dangling from his knees and that killer tone, well… how could The Cult fail to excite tonight?
As they are promoting a new record, I wasn’t sure what sort of set we were to get, but with only 2 off the new record covered (‘Vendetta X’ & ‘Mirror’), a deep dive into ‘Electric’ and pretty much skipping anything post 1989 it was a dream set as far as I was concerned. The band were certainly on it tonight. ‘Sun King’ and ‘Sweet Soul Sister’ are played early and sound great. An extended and jammed out version of ‘The Witch’ sounds sublime and is a welcome highlight for me, but as ‘Electric’ remains not just my favourite Cult album but one of my favourite albums of all time, it is those songs that excite me the most tonight.
It has been said that Ian Astbury is a wild card frontman, like Bobby Gillespie or even Van Morrison, you never know what mood he’s going to be in or how he will react. He teases and goads the crowd throughout, calling the defiant chants of ‘Yorkshire, Yorkshire!” unoriginal, criticizing the Stella Artois drinking antics and generally being a moody sod, but he’s animated, pulls all the rock star poses and his voice is on it all night.
‘King Contrary Man’, ‘Aphrodisiac Jacket’ and ‘Lil Devil’ sound amazing. C’mon, those riffs left my jaw on the floor when I first heard them as an excited teen and tonight takes me right back to those same feelings. Astbury, Duffy and the band deliver a full force rock machine and those songs sound sublime.
The crowd go mental for the obligatory one-two-three set closer of ‘Spiritwalker’, ‘Rain’ and ‘She Sells Sanctuary’. How could you not lose your shit to that sonic assault on the senses?
There’s an encore to be had, but what the hell haven’t they played? An Electric double dose of ‘Peace Dog’ and ‘Love Removal Machine’ gives the drunk and excited down the front one last chance to brave the mosh pit before the band disappear into the night and we head to the car park to beat the rush for the A64 home.
The Cult sealed their place in rock history many moons ago with a string of hits to match any of their contemporaries. Tonight, Astbury and Duffy led their band through a killer set of classics that energised the night sky across Yorkshire. With a recently released strong album and a killer band behind them, The Cult sound as vital and fresh in 2023 as they did back in 1989.
The Cult were truly on fire tonight, they’ll be back before the year is out, miss them and you’re missing out.
The Arrogants deliver the sounds of ´60s Mod, Garage Rock, Psychedelic, Blues, and R&B.
“Brainwash” is their 2nd full-length album, after extensively touring England, Spain, Germany, France…not to mention major gigs in Paris at the Bus Palladium (invited by Patrick Eudeline Rock & Folk, Best), at the Main Square Festival Arras, and many venues such as the Cavern Club in Liverpool, the Beat Bespoke Festival in London, and the Bassy Club in Berlin The Arrogants have emersed themselves in the sounds they play and deliver an authentic sound.
With a change of line-up around the leader singer-guitarist Thomas Babczynski, The band have pretty impressive endorsements from the likes of Pete Townsend so they’re heading in the right direction. The album opens with a dreamy effect laden guitar before the rhythm section enter the frey with a groovy vibe being the MO of ‘Show Me How’ with th ebass walking all over the track its time to light up and drop out baby. It’s easy to see how Townsend is on board and why he personally invited them to play with The Who in Paris later this month. I’m sure the Parisians will dig this big time. From the gang vocals on ‘No Plan’.
The plan is a simple one, head back to the sixties and get digging all the groovers and shakers and start writing with those influences in mind. The record is groove-heavy and has everything from the wandering bass lines to the shimmering guitars and big phat grooving rhythms. The fact they have tracks entitled ‘Stoned Blues’ and ‘I’m Tripping’ tells you what you need to know about their influnences.
I do like the rapid paced ‘Look At Your Baby’ that sounds like it was written in a heartbeat and recorded on the move. great energy and thunderous bassline. Retro Rock is alive and well and these cats are tapping their cuban heels whilst kicking out th ejams motherfuckers and doing it really well. You certainly get value for money with fourteen tunes on offer. ‘So Blue’ is a snotty rumble that’ll get your floorboards bouncing.
‘Frankie Says’ is a sting in the tail where the band shake their shit before signing off with the gentle ‘She Smiles’. Job one – top recordwith a lot of music crammed onto one album and several shades of groovy to suit every taste. Check it out!
I do love it when a confident band rocks up claiming to sound somewhere between Exile era Stones and The Afghan Whigs thats some goal to live up to right there and why not.
SLIP~ons are an aggressive punchy power-pop band from Vancouver, BC. for sure I get the Afghan Whigs tag and Husker du no question, and for me thats good enough right there whilst I’d also add some earlyish Goo Goo Dools is in there. This four-piece was formed in 2012 by Brian Minato (Sarah Maclachlan) and Brock Pytel, “half of the singing/songwriting force behind Montreal’s Doughboys”, they also include Rob “Shockk” Matharu (Spitfires) on guitar, and Shane Wilson on drums.
This here EP is packed with wild solos and plenty of punch in the rhythm and big dreams and big sound. It starts with a jangly intro on the title track as the drums roll in on some early 90s alt-rock riffing on a more rocky Springsteen if I’m looking for a tag to hang this sound on. Sure alt rock Husker Du is prominent in the melody and some J Mascis on the riffs that always going to peak my attention. there are six tracks on offer and the songwriting and performance are of a high standard and with enough grit and sonic fuzz in there to get any kid off their backside and at least swaying to the beat especially ‘Soldier, Don’t Say Goodbye’ a song with a whole heap of energy rattling down the line.
‘Nothing Is Good Enough’ has shades of early Foo Fighters doing punk rock and possibly the EP’s best riff. ‘Mosquito’ is up next and curiously it features twice back to back with an explicit version and then followed by a clean take on the same track, not something I was expecting, and would have preferred another track if I’m being honest but I do like the solo when it catches fire and collides with the main lick – good stuff.
Finishing off the EP with ‘Undivided’ clocking in at over five and a half minutes its got a lengthy intro before breaking out the song ebbs and flows nicely and is a decent closer showing another side of the bands songwriting. If you ever wanted to know who was listening properly when Bob Mould was kicking up a shit storm heres your chance and these guys were clearly taking note and using their influences well. Nice tunes.
Twenty Years of Hell, Speed & Sleaze Fuck Yeah! I’ll have some of that. As we gather in the live room of The Exchange it looks like the green room of the walking dead as old-school Thrashers congregate with full corpse-painted kids waiting for some Black Thrash punk courtesy of Devastatoooooooor and the mighty Midnight.
First up are four guys from Oop Norf called Devastator who ply their satanic Black Thrash from I believe the East Midlands. Sounding like proper early Slayer ‘Live Undead’ meets Kill em All with a healthy dose of Mantas licks, they do a sterling job of warming up tonight’s audience with songs such as ‘Worship The Goat’ and ‘Night Of The Witches’ simply because every Black Thrash combo should have either a challenge, fire, tombstones or of course a fuckin Goat! these mofos have the latter stuck to the mic stand as it goes. They also had time to throw out a splendid cover of the Motorhead classic ‘Iron Fist’ as the solos falling from Mr. R Batemans fretboard were mesmerising as his Alien-like fingers became a blur of fretboard fuckery (which I think if I’m not mistaken did burst into flames at one point such was the speed at which he maneuvered across the neck of his instrument) songs like ‘Baptised In Blasphemy’ and ‘Death Slut’ or ‘Hail Death’ went down a treat and before you know it their work was done. The audience was suitably warmed up and sweat began to fall down the collective brow. The live room was now a steaming heaving mass waiting for what was to follow, as if this shit couldn’t get any more bonkers – Hold onto your camo shorts kids this might get a little rough.
The last time Midnight played the Exchange it was a fantastic set of memorable black thrash punk but tonight there was a packed room expectant for the trio of noise bringers and boy did they bring the noise. I might be forgiven for thinking this was one of if not the loudest show I’ve seen for many many years not since Saxon on the Crusader tour back in the day, Biff would have been proud of the volume Athenar and his boys were playing at. This wasn’t just loud this was loosening the screws on your pacemaker volume. Every beat of the bass drum was like a gots hoof kicking you in the bollock’s two-footed, real nosebleed volume. Once you get the picture we shall begin. With Sisters of Mercy volumes of dry ice billowing across the dimly lit stage it was time for Midnight to spend the next hour kicking the living shit out of a sweaty heaving mess of metalhead who quite simply couldn’t get enough of this ridiculous Black Thrash assault.
It’s been twenty years of Hell, Speed, Sleaze, Goats, Fire, Dogs, Tombstones, Whips, Chains, Violators, Masks, and loud as fuck Black n’ Roll music. It’s a fact that you won’t this Metal/Punk hybrid beast done better anywhere else on the planet or in the firey pits of Hell. With only a degree of separation from the likes of Zeke or prime-time DKs, this metal take on Punk Thrash is an absolute joy to behold when it’s done as well as this. Athenar and Commandor Vanik cross the stage from mic to mic like a pair of demonic Hell hounds guarding the opening of Hades, throwing out shapes and headbutting their instruments with enough force to wake the dead. Did I mention that the volume they were playing at was filling rattling and could probably be heard in Helldom. No not probably, it absolutely could be, it was that loud. The frenzied pit was also exceptional considering how fuckin hot and busy it was in The Exchange bodies bouncing off eachother like oiled up battle tops it was a joy to behold.
‘Funeral Bell’, ‘All Hail Hell’, ‘Szex Witchery’, and ‘Fucking Speed And Darkness’ are all despatched early doors and with such aplomb Midnight are a well oiled machine and Much like other speed metal bands or the likes of The Dwarves and Zeke they absolutely go for it no holds barred. As the pace and ferocity in which these tunes are delivered is breathtakingly exceptional (as well as incredibly loud) By the time we reach ‘Satanic Royalty’ there isn’t even time to vomit due to the heat and volume inside The Exchange (did I mention it was loud?), ‘Lust Filth And Sleaze’ and ‘Evil Like A Knife’ are dished up with a ferocity that no other bands I’ve witnessed in a long long time could keep pace with. Midnight isn’t taking any prisoners tonight, I find my mind drifting, wondering how they are celebrating twenty years of Hell, Speed, And Sleaze in the back room of a Bristol club and not selling out huge venues all over this spinning rock. Is the metal and punk communities too afraid of Midnight? Are kids worried they wouldn’t handle the intensity of a live show like this? There aren’t enough bands willing to take it to the next level.
Athenar asks if the crowd are getting tired after about fifty minutes of unrelenting power and ferocity and then says he doesn’t care because he could go on for hours, something I don’t doubt for a second. Even the wall behind me is perspiring it’s that hot in here, and at any moment the floor could rip open and Satan himself could appear and beg the band to turn it down a few thousand decibels before his head explodes.
Before the band is done they take requests from the floor and proceed to play ‘Endless Slut’ before ‘Can’t Stop The Steel’ is brutally executed. Quite simply Midnight are the real deal, and taking the spirit of prime Venom and the likes of Motorhead and the speed punks ethos on board they are in a league of their own as well as being in league with Satan (obviously). If they ever make it to a venue near you – quite simply you have to make it to a show, you will not be disappointed or leave unimpressed. When they ask ‘Who Gives A Fuck?’ you will be compelled to reply – I do. Midnight rule and that my friends is a fact – no it’s the law! Now where is the merch table I want one of those well-priced T-Shirts with the flames, goats, nuns, and Chains on, please. What a wonderful night in the company of the kings of Blackened Rock and Fuckin’ Roll! Hail Midnight.
Those lovely people at Pale Wizard records have added another fantastic album to their ’50 Years Later’ collection. After the success of the tributes to Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and Alice Cooper’s Killer that featured some of the best underground heavy rock bands putting their spin on them, the latest release is a tribute to Welsh wizards Budgie, with a reimagining of their seminal 1973 album ‘Never Turn Your Back On A Friend’.
Budgie were one of those bands that can easily be put into the ‘they should have been huge’ bracket. At one stage in the early Seventies, they were on par with their luminaries Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, and Uriah Heep. They even shared the same producer as Sabbath; Rodger Bain was responsible for those early Sabbath and Budgie records and inadvertently, they invented a genre of music. Unfortunately, even though Budgie achieved a certain level of success, they never reached the dizzy heights of the other bands.
‘Never Turn Your Back On A Friend’ was a turning point for Budgie, this would be the last album featuring the original line up of Burke Shelly, Tony Bourge and Ray Phillips. It would also be their most successful in terms of record sales, this was undoubtedly helped by Metallica recording a cover of Breadfan in 1989. The amazing artwork by Roger Dean was also a highlight. Other bands such as Van Halen and Iron Maiden have covered Budgie tunes and Budgie are often cited by people such as Dave Mustaine from Megadeth and of course Lars Ulrich from Metallica as being huge influences. Budgie are one of my favourite bands, and I’m lucky enough to live near to two of their former drummers: Ray Phillips and Steve Williams. I have to say that the debut album is my favourite, but NTYBOAF is a very close second.
This tribute is just that, it has been meticulously put together. Each band has put love and attention into every track. The album is wonderfully recorded and put together in a lovely package with beautiful artwork from Sara – Jane Swettenham.
First up we have Alunah’s take on possibly the hardest track to cover on the album, the opener Breadfan. They have given us a different slant on the song, obviously moving away from the brutality of the world-famous Metallica version. Alunah have gone for a more proggy/bluesy approach while still retaining the heaviness. Fantastic vocals and use of the flute (yes it works!) by Sian Greenaway make it an interesting listen.
Firegarden give us a true to the Budgie version of the cover of the Them classic ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’. Wonderful musicianship and solid production give this a modern edge to a great tune.
Next up we have a typically wild and wonderful performance from Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell with their version of one of the albums more reflective and quiet moments ‘You Know I’ll Always Love You’. There’s not much of the original here but it’s a fantastic version, brilliant!
Budgie are renowned for their strange songs titles, and here we have Regulus bashing out a great version of ‘You’re The Biggest Thing Since Powdered Milk’. The riffs are big and meaty, and Regulus have a ball with the with the solo sections, jamming but not moving too far away from the original parts.
More song title ridiculousness with ‘In the Grip Of A Tyre Fitter’s Hand’. This is given the full treatment by Syncolima who blast through it with ease. They have really put their stamp on the track while retaining their identity.
‘Riding My Nightmare’ is another highlight here. Brilliantly done by Great Electric Quest, you can tell they had great fun recording this, it shines through every note.
My favourite track from NTYBOAF has always been the epic ‘Parents’. I was very pleased to see that the superb Sergeant Thunderhoof had stepped up to put their stamp on it. What can I say? I had goosebumps while listening. The soaring vocals of Dan Flitcroft are just otherworldly. I really couldn’t believe how good this is. Mark Sayer’s guitar work highlights how good Tony Bourge’s wonderful playing is on the original track. Superb production values too. Sublime.
The CD version also gets a few bonus tracks, we have ‘Guts’ from the debut album done superbly by La Chinga, possibly Budgie’s heaviest tune sounds brilliant with a modern twist. We also get a barnstorming version of ‘Forearm Smash’ from the ‘Power Supply’ album done by Low Voltage in a balls out headbanging fury. Finally, we get ‘Melt the Ice Away’ from the ‘Impeckable’ album given the Solar Sons treatment.
A superb tribute to a superb album. As I said earlier, all the bands involved have put their love and dedication into replicating this classic album. It really is a wonderful package. It’s available on Bandcamp on vinyl, CD, and digitally. What are you waiting for? Get it NOW!!
The weather may be a bit of let down this Friday afternoon in Mayfair, but I can’t help but feel how unusually pleasant these surroundings are for once. Normally on the streets down this way you’re surrounded by flag shaggers, Northfacers and the Cliff Richard brigade brandishing their royal crockery at every corner. Right now if you cast your gaze in any direction you’ll see some variation of an Appetite for Destruction t shirt, and that suits me fine.
I arrive in the Park just in time to witness the Darkness. I feel like I may have to make a witness statement of sorts. They’re a mixture of grateful to be here and their classic 2004 arrogance rolled up into a generally unappealing package. Treading through the hits, making pleasantries with the festival crowd(when not bickering the odd punter), but as always frontman Justin has a jumbo jet sized chip on his shoulder and will never change. Talent moat? Fuck off! Happy Friday everyone.
Branching out to one of the smaller stages at British Summer Time, all present are treated to rock gods in waiting, Bad Nerves. These Replacements tinged power poppers absolutely slay all those lucky enough to be in the locale. Stand out tracks have to be ‘punk radio’ and ‘can’t be mine’. This young band are flawless, effortless and explosive all rolled into one. The shot in arm that was most certainly needed to propel me through the evening.
Bit of a plodding set from Chrissie and the boys. Accomplished but never quite getting out of third gear. I was hoping today would be the day things finally click with me and the Pretenders but alas I think I will be staying in my groove of being respectful but never quite admiring them. A crowd pleasing set littered with hits such as ‘don’t get me wrong’, ‘I’ll stand by you’ and ‘tattooed love boys’. Special note though has to go to the guitar work of James Walbourne. Check out his own project His Lordship and sonically submerge yourself into the Garage Rock depths.
Prompt and ready to go as scheduled but much like Rock’n’Roll, the Axl Rose time keeping jokes will never die. He kept me waiting two hours once when I was 17, worth the wait though. Kicking off with ‘it’s so easy’, it’s like witnessing a force of nature. Still managing to hit all those teenage memories that pang with blissful nostalgia. Still prefer the Izzy Stradlin vocal though.
The band keeps this party going with Illusion era deep cut, ‘bad obsession’. Not even a tumble off the floor monitors could halt his stride. Sadly this is where we hit more of a metaphorical bump in the road. Next up we are delivered the package deal of album title track ‘Chinese democracy’ and Velvet Revolver single ‘slither’. It’s nice in a way that Axl, Duff and Slash have come so far that this is standard fare since the reunion began, but it has all the Rock’n’Roll gravitas of letting step parents sit on the top table at a wedding to “make everyone happy”. I digress.
The set rolls on with nice Illusion era additions (‘pretty tied up’, ‘double talkin’ jive’, ‘coma’), some of which might not be everyone’s first choice, but definitely a great reminder to revisit those diamonds in the double album rough. We’re even treated to nobody’s favourite Appetite song, ‘anything goes’ which is definitely a turnup for the books for this reviewer.
You can’t help but wonder if apart from the songs that are integral to their set, are they picking bits from their back catalog that are more manageable for the vocal range Axl posses these days. Which is definitely not a negative thing, he’s in his sixties, he can’t hit all the high notes all the time. Going forward though, the band need to have a good long think about what they can provide as a touring act and if it’s worth £100 a ticket.
We’re treated good and proper to all the bells and whistles for the remainder of the evening. Gratuitous guitar solos? Check. Power ballads? Check. Riotous punk classics from Duff McKagan? Check. 8 minute plus opuses? Check. Dylan and Bond epic covers? Check. Night train? Motha fuckin’ check.
It has to be said that British Summer Time use Hyde Park very well and put on a cracking show with excellent facilities. I actually can’t remember a better event I have been to in last twenty years for bars, toilets etc. The only critism would be food queues, the non veggie/vegan stalls took a pounding. Also it was nice to be at a big event in London and not be surrounded by junior PR staff on comp’d tickets, chatting away throughout the performance that don’t give a shit. Yowza.
All in all after initial trepidation from having a bad time seeing them in 2017 and some of the online trolling Axl has received in the lead up, I’m very much glad I made the journey down. Thankfully the PA at Hyde Park is much better than the inadequate ones that get carted out for stadium tours and I was able to enjoy myself. Take that one to heart!