The most pleasant and unexpected surprise of 2022 for me was being able to say “there’s a great new album from Dr Feelgood”. I admit that I’d not followed their recent releases closely, though I respected their decision to carry on flying the Feelgood flag. Quite by chance, I heard the first single from ‘Damn Right!’ and immediately my ears pricked up. ‘The guitar sounds familiar’, I thought to myself. And, sure enough, it was the return of Gordon Russell, one of my favourite guitarists. This was clearly a very good thing, as the tunes he wrote with Robert Kane are truly worthy of the Feelgood name and legacy.
And he seems to have given them a shot in the arm onstage as well. So, here we have 20 songs from stages around Europe, with the band sounding vital and sharp. From ‘Drives Me Wild’ onwards, it is a joy to hear them having a ball. The four new tunes fit in perfectly with the classics, ‘Mary Ann’ sounding particularly excellent next to ‘All Through The City’. Kane does his thing without sounding like Brilleaux, and I really like his style. It’s hard to believe that on joining the band, he didn’t play harmonica, because on ‘Going Back Home’ he’s obviously done his homework.
It’s no secret that The Big Figure and Sparko are my favourite rhythm section ever, but Phil and Kevin have been playing together for so long that they also have a special chemistry. ‘Damn Right I Do’ and ‘Keep It Undercover’ sound even better live, and with ‘Roxette’, ‘Milk And Alcohol’, ‘Down At The Doctors’ and ‘She Does It Right’, it’s one hell of a set list.
I’d love to hear them include ‘Dangerous’ one day, and keep my fingers crossed they’ll return to France this year. For all of you in the UK, make the most of a good thing and catch them on tour soon. Doctor’s orders!
Another day, another impressive album of psyche rock blues from France. Even though I live there, I’m not sure what they put in the water, but The Arrogants are convincing enough to have persuaded Pete Townshend to have them as support to The Who in Paris. “You really have captured the vibe of the very early ‘60s Mod scene and the UK R&B scene, this will work because you have reinvented it all so well. I wish you luck”. Pete Townshend.
The roots of the mod scene were quite varied, and these lads from Lille have an affinity with the scene, man. It’s by turns groovy, simple, spaced out and infectious. From the opening instrumental onwards, this could have been released in 1966-67. Not so much “reinvented”, Pete, but that’s not a criticism. ‘No Question’ and ‘Show Me How’ wouldn’t shame The Fuzztones, ‘Stoned Blues’ is perhaps a little too perfunctory, but pleasant.
‘Look At Your Body’ is more energetic, bonus points for the frenetic bass line which doesn’t let up. This should get you dancing. ‘Dark Flowers’ is equally catchy, the Hammond filling out the sound, while ‘I’m Tripping’ tips a nod to Roky Erickson. ‘Smokey Eyes’ and ‘6000 Years’ are quality garage rock, in a Morlocks style. They certainly tick all the boxes of the genre, and have worked hard at creating an authentic-era sound. This needs to be heard in a sweaty club, as you frug the night away.
‘She Smiles (She Comes)’ ends the album, drawing things out, starting off dreamy, then picking up pace like a youthful Stones. 14 songs, if you trimmed off the slower blues it’d be perfect, just my opinion. An impressive second album, I hope I get the chance to see them soon.
To celebrate the band’s 30th anniversary, the folks at Damaged Goods Records are releasing a double CD/vinyl compilation of dayglo, D.I.Y bubblegum punks, Helen Love. 30 years? I can’t remember where I first heard them, possibly Mark and Lard on the late shift. It’s like they’ve always been here.
From ‘Yeah, Yeah, We’re Helen Love’ onwards, it’s a reassuring trawl through their back catalogue. No one wants a drum n bass/free jazz Helen Love album. It was no wonder that Joey Ramone invited them to New York, they share similar DNA; instantly memorable tunes for sunny days, or when you need to pretend that the sun is shining. Most of them fly past in under three minutes, always guaranteed to raise a smile. Whether it’s ‘Beat Him Up’ or ‘King Of Kung Fu’, they put their Casio keyboard and Woolworths guitar to good use. Their hand made, primary colour record sleeves were designed by necessity, but perfectly suited the tunes.
‘So In Love With You’ would sit nicely in John Shuttleworth’s set, a real compliment in my book! Oof!
They even had the nerve to nick the title ‘Leader Of The Pack’ for one of their songs. ‘So Hot’ should be the theme to your summer holiday. This is ear worms a-go-go. There’s ‘Joey Ramoney’, of course, the perfect fan response song. I can even forgive their cut-up of ‘Wig Wam Bam’, and Joey himself appears on ‘Punk Boy’, a joyous duet.
As it’s looking like we’ll have a ‘Golden Summer’, this is the place to acquaint yourself with Helen Love. Over 30 songs. Tune into their own ‘Summer Pop Radio’, break out the ice pops and stop being so serious. Let’s go!
A mere 23 years after its release, the debut album by Rachel Stamp gets a souped-up reissue. Given their “should have been huge” status, and the current, prolific solo career of main man David Ryder Prangley, it’s about time. Released on CD and pink vinyl, there’s 17 tracks to please both ardent fans and newcomers. I’m somewhere in the middle, owning all but this album, so it’s a treat to hear the songs that don’t feature on the ‘Now I’m Nailed To Your Bedroom Wall…’ compilation.
Such as ‘Brand New Toy’, which has all the requisite sleaze you’d expect, as well as hiding an Alice Cooper album title in it’s lyrics. Both ‘Ladies And Gents’ and ‘Spank’ tip a slight nod of the head towards Mr Stuart Goddard, while ‘Pink Skab’ is a more in-yer-face tribute. I remember the live review of him joining the band onstage for ‘Beat My Guest’ and kicking myself for not being there. So, it’s no wonder that David and Will have both been part of the Ant family, and rightly so.
However, Rachel Stamp were impossible to categorise, which I imagine gave the record labels a headache, as they do like an easy time. After being dropped by WEA in 1997, it took the band a while to find their footing. Originally recorded in two weeks, this sounds surprisingly fresh, partly from the mix and partly because they’re great songs. Because they never fitted into a neat box, they haven’t aged.
In spite of the ‘glam’ tag, there are some monster riffs here, from ‘Girl, You’re Just A Slave To Your Man’ to the downright filthy ‘Dirty Bone’, which dares to rhyme ‘sinner’ with ‘Pinner’. Thankfully, they have no shame. But there’s also the acoustic, Hispanic-tinged ‘Carmelita’ and ‘Take A Hold Of Yourself’ could almost be the Manics at their most appealing. Add to that the classics ‘Monsters Of The New Wave’, ‘Black Tambourine’ and ‘My Sweet Rose’, plus two savage live versions of ‘I Got The Worm’ and ‘Please Don’t Touch’, and what you have is a fine example of their unique sound.
Living in France meant that it was always unlikely that I would make the London gig, but at least this album is available now for all of us strange children.
Well, this is timely. Having just finished reading Sami Yaffa’s excellent autobiography, and whilst waiting for his upcoming second solo album, Svart Records have reissued Mad Juana’s debut album. Originally released in 1997, this project by Sami and Karmen Guy is perhaps better suited to today’s more tolerant musical climate. It certainly had people puzzled on release, as Sami mixed influences from around the world, having spent most of his life on the road.
From ‘6 Inch Ditch’ onwards, with its sparse, Bo Diddley rhythm and percussion, it is a hypnotic ride. If you like The Urban Voodoo Machine, you’ll want hear this. ‘Festival Of Dreams’ introduces fretless bass to the sound, another left-turn; Sami was keen to make music without the boundaries of his past, and this remains one of his proudest moments. With hindsight, you can understand why. Recorded on a shoestring budget between Mallorca and Finland, ably assisted by percussionist Affe Forsman, they successfully merged Hispanic, European and Arabic chords and scales; ‘Stronghand Mo’ creating a mantra-like riff.
The percussion on ‘Flesh’ is reminiscent of ‘Tin Drum’ era Japan, and Karmen has a vocal not unlike P J Harvey on ‘1000 x More’ and ‘No End’, the latter turning up the volume. It demands your attention. ‘Red Sea’ has a more traditional acoustic rhythm that could be The Waterboys, while closer ‘Spell’ is atmospheric enough to be a film soundtrack starring Harry Dean Stanton. If you understand what I’m blathering on about, search this out now. Remastered, and with 5 previously unreleased demos, this showed the world that Sami Yaffa was much more than “just a bassist”. We’re only just catching up with him now.
Taking a break from his recent Bob Dylan obsession (phew), Billy Childish returns to bring us more raucous garage rock in his inimitable style with CTMF. Seeing this upcoming release, I realised that I’d missed a CTMF album in 2021, ‘Where The Wild Purple Iris Grows’, so that was a double bonus for me!
This takes up where that previous album left off, with a hectic version of Richard Hell’s ‘Love Comes In Spurts’, the second time that Billy has covered the song, but it fits well here. As does the band’s take on Hendrix’s ‘Fire’, with Nurse Julie’s backing vocals adding something extra.
That aside, we have ten new songs, three of which are instrumentals. Normally, that might ring alarm bells, but with Billy and company, it’s a treat. ‘Walk Of The Sasquatch’ is particularly fine, with the publicity spiel of Billy quoting “the North Kent Sasquatch program has gone a little quiet of late, but I believe they are still trying to get Cobham Woods – nearby across the river – to be designated as a reserve, though of course this poses some danger to the public during the spring breeding season”. I think some people haven’t noticed his sense of humour.
The title track and ‘The Old, Long Bar’ are as good as any ‘Medway garage rock’ songs he’s ever written, with ‘Failure Not Success’ there is an autobiographical lyric, similar to those on the previous album; “at twelve years old, I walked the streets in my mother’s dress”.
There are some quieter moments, such as ‘Beneath The Flowers’ and ‘Becoming Unbecoming Me’, with its Velvets-like appeal. And even the reappearance of Mr Zimmerman with ‘Bob Dylan’s Got A Lot To Answer For’ can’t spoil proceedings; a list of potential pros and cons of Dylan’s influence on music, set to a ‘Stepping Stone’ riff. Masterful.
For us fans of Billy’s more abrasive tunes, this, like the previous ‘Where The Wild Purple Iris Grows’, is an essential purchase. An eccentric, a one-off, sometimes frustrating, always entertaining. We’re lucky to have him.
After releasing two albums in two years, 2023 promises to be another busy year for David Ryder Prangley. “The man who put the glam in Mid-Glamorgan” (as said Simon Price) will be releasing his third solo album this spring, alongside a reissue of Rachel Stamp’s debut ‘Hymns For Strange Children’. Just after this interview took place, Rachel Stamp announced a date to coincide with the album release on 14th April at Islington Academy. For all the details and more, read on…
‘Vampire Deluxe’ was my favourite album of 2021. There seems to be a strong lyrical link between it and ‘Black Magic And True Love’; were they written at the same time, or did you already have the idea to release two albums in quick succession?
Thank you Martin! I had most of the songs written for both albums before I recorded ‘Black Magic & True Love’ and I always had in my mind to release two albums in very quick succession, that sounded like companion albums. Kind of like The Police’s first two LPs where they sound the same and have a running lyrical theme. It was just a case of picking which songs went together and making two albums out of that. I did write ‘Sweet Heartbreaker’ and ‘Hey Stargazer’ after the first album was recorded. I actually had the guitar riff to ‘Sweet Heartbreaker’ kicking around for a few years and finally put lyrics to it. In general, over the two albums, and in fact on my next album too, I wanted the lyrics to all have a similar stylistic tone and I was conscious to not veer too far from the central themes of magic and space and other stuff that I’m too polite to talk about, but if you’ve heard the albums then you’ll know what I’m saying… The songs can be interpreted differently by different people and I did that on purpose. There’s no one meaning behind any of the songs and that’s why I didn’t print the lyrics on the albums. I want people to hear whatever they hear, even if it’s not what I actually sang.
Tell us about your songwriting process. Do you demo songs at home once you have a solid idea, in order to choose which ones to put on an album? Does the finished song differ much from the demo? I noticed that old Ants demos were practically identical to the finished song, which I thought showed how strong Adam’s vision was for his songs. You seem to be similar, in having an image that is as important as the music.
I don’t have one process for writing, though I often make the songs up in my head and then have to work them out on guitar or piano. The songs on ‘Black Magic & True Love’ and ‘Vampire Deluxe’ are very simple in terms of structure, and I arrange all the basic parts for the different instruments but leave room for the players to bring their own personalities to the songs. The solos are left up to whoever plays them. It’s really important for me to work with people whose playing I like and it’s important that the band have a connection to the music. I’ve been really lucky to have great musicians with me on these albums – Rob Emms and Belle Star on drums, Laurie Black and Grog Lisee on piano, Anna-Christina on bass guitar, Liza Bec on recorder and saxophone and Drew Richards on guitar, who also co-produced ‘Vampire Deluxe’ with me. Adie Hardy co-produced ‘Black Magic & True Love’ with Marc Olivier co-producing the song ‘They Came From The Stars To Capture Our Hearts’. I started producing other bands whilst I was still in my band Rachel Stamp and I really enjoy it. A lot of what makes a good producer is being organised – which sounds a bit dull, but it’s vital to have a plan and rehearse stuff before you get to the studio so you know what you’re doing when you get there and don’t get freaked out when the red light turns on!
In terms of the connection between the image and the music – that’s vital for me. I want people to look at the cover of the record and when they play it, the songs fit perfectly with the cover image. It’s funny that you mention Adam Ant because I played bass with him for a short while. He’s a brilliant musician and a great arranger, especially with vocals. He’s certainly a musical and visual inspiration for me.
What can you tell us about your upcoming solo album and the Rachel Stamp reissue? Any gigs lined up? My next album is on the way! I have the title and cover image already and I’ve demo’d three songs and have about four more written and I have some songs leftover from the first two albums. This album will continue the themes of the first two but have a few twists. I’ve been singing in a lower register lately so I’m going to explore that side of my voice as well as what people know me for already. I’m hoping to release the first track from the next album in April, around the time of the Rachel Stamp re-issue. That came about when we were approached by the label Easy Action to contribute the Rachel Stamp cover of T Rex’s ‘Calling All Destroyers’ to a compilation LP they’re putting out. We got on well with the label and they suggested re-issuing ‘Hymns For Strange Children’ so here we are, and the release is set for Friday 14th April and we’re playing a show at the O2 Academy Islington in London to celebrate the release on the same day.
To be honest, it was quite odd going back and working on ‘Hymns For Strange Children’ again. I never listen to that album, but it was a surprisingly enjoyable experience. I had to go back and tweak some of the songs for the vinyl version so ended up spending several hours with headphones on immersed in Stampworld! I think when we originally made that album I wasn’t thrilled with the sonics but in retrospect I love it. It’s a really unusual album that doesn’t sound at all dated and doesn’t sound like anything else. I always described Rachel Stamp as ‘Prince meets Black Sabbath’ with the heavy riffs, tri-tones and then the synths on top of it all. We never used programming or sequencers – it was all played live and has a very different feel to, say, the industrial bands or indie guitar bands of the time. Everyone in Rachel Stamp has very eclectic tastes and generally were into more off the wall bands like Devo, The Nymphs, Big Star, Parliament, Sabbath, Bodycount… bands that were doing their own thing. It was important for us to do our own thing too and people had a weird reaction to us because they couldn’t easily catagorise us. The press tried to dismiss us some kind of glam revival which we never were. I mean, we loved Marc Bolan and David Bowie and Sweet, and me and Robin were certainly into some of the 80s LA glam metal bands like Ratt and Poison but we weren’t trying to revive anything, we were all about the moment. I would say that visually we were more influenced by English punk and by bands like We’ve Got A Fuzzbox and We’re Gonna Use It and Prince and by movies like Blade Runner, Near Dark and The Abominable Dr Phibes.
The fans totally got it, but other bands were kind of scared of us. They couldn’t understand how we could walk around the streets looking like we did and then get on stage and play super loud high energy heavy music. So many musicians jump on trends and it blows their minds to see someone just using their imagination. It’s actually not that hard.
Are there any more plans for Sister Witch? I was so pleased to see them play once! I love the Sister Witch album and I love writing and working with Lux Lyall. We still write together and we co-wrote a lot of her first solo album and I played guitar on it too. In fact, we just wrote a song for my next album called ‘Let’s Fall Apart Together Tonight’.
I don’t think there will be another Sister Witch album as such but there will definitely be more DRP/Lux Lyall music out there.
As an amateur musician, currently swapping between guitar and bass, I’ve been learning a lot of your bass lines. Nerdy question; what’s your favourite guitar and bass, live and in the studio?
My favourite bass guitar is my BC Rich Eagle and Anna-Christina actually played that bass on the ‘Black Magic & True Love’ and ‘Vampire Deluxe’ albums and at my live shows. It has a really great mid-range and doesn’t just take over the low frequencies like a Fender Precision might do. I bought that guitar way back when Rachel Stamp got signed to WEA and I used it on the ‘Bring Me The Head Of Rachel Stamp’ EP but it got stolen a couple of years later. Fast forward about 17 years and I was looking on ebay and someone had it for sale! I recognised it because there was big chunk out of the headstock where I’d thrown it across the stage at a gig, so I knew it was mine. The seller was a young guitar dealer in Bristol who had no idea of its history – he’d just innocently bought it from a company that had found it in a skip! I told him the story and sent him some photos of me playing it and I luckily still had a copy of the police report from when it was originally stolen, and he was really cool about it all and we made an arrangement for me to get it back. I was so grateful. Since then, I’ve had the headstock repaired and I wrote ‘Suzi Q’ on the back in gold in tribute to Suzi Quatro who was the first musician I ever wanted to be when I was a kid. She played BC Rich basses in the late 70s.
As far as six string guitar goes, my favourite for recording is my old 1972 Gibson SG Special with mini humbuckers that I bought about ten years ago. It has a very unique sound, kind of halfway between a Gibson and a Fender tone. The previous owner had refinished it in Cardinal Red, a non-regulation colour for that guitar so I got it for not much money at all because it wasn’t ‘vintage correct’. I don’t really care about ‘vintage’ or ‘all-original’, I just play something and if I like how it sounds and feels then I’m happy to use it. That guitar was all I used on ‘Black Magic & True Love’, plugged into a Marshall JCM 900 through a 4×12 speaker cabinet. I had the amp quite overdriven and I’d turn the volume knob of the guitar up or down depending on how much overdrive I wanted. On ‘Forever In Starlight’ I might have plugged it into a Roland Jazz Chorus or a Fender combo, I can’t remember exactly, but something with a cleaner sound than the Marshall. I did the solo on that song through a Mesa Boogie Mark 3 to get a kind of Santana sound. If you listen to that album my guitar is panned to the left and the guitar panned to the right is Drew Richards playing a Washburn Idol Goldtop. We did the same for 95% of ‘Vampire Deluxe’, except I also used a couple of different guitars to overdub some solos on that album, and there’s the acoustic guitars too which were my old Encore plastic back Ovation copy and Drew’s Washburn acoustic. Those two albums were, for the most part, recorded live in the studio with the band playing all at once. We then overdubbed percussion, vocals and a few solos. It’s a very simple approach but it’s amazing how effective and fast it is. I wish I had recorded all the Rachel Stamp albums this way. I plan to do the same for my next album.
When I play gigs, I use a different set up which is my Fender Stratocaster through a Marshall combo and I use a Suhr Riot distortion pedal that I leave on all the time. With that set up I can go from clean to fully distorted just using the volume control on the Stratocaster. Some people find that an odd set up but it’s pretty old school actually. It’s kind of how Brian may does it, except he uses a wall of Vox AC30s all on full volume!
How was it to play again with Adam Ant recently? You and Will obviously played with him some years ago. I’m guessing you fitted in pretty easily. Was he an influence on Rachel Stamp?
That recent chance to play with Adam again came out of the blue when Joe Holweger, Adam’s bass player, got covid and Adam was due to headline a big festival. I got a call from Will asking if I could step in and I was more than happy to. I knew most of the songs to play because, as you mention, I had played with him previously. I had to learn a few more songs and we did one rehearsal and then it was the gig in front of 10,000 people so no pressure, right?! A funny thing happened at that show – people probably don’t realise but when bands do those festival shows with so many other bands on the bill, you don’t get a soundcheck, you just go on and during the first song the band is usually frantically signalling the monitor engineer to turn things up or down so they can get their sound balance on the stage. The audience is hearing something else entirely that’s mixed by another engineer who is in the sound booth in the middle of the field. Well, at that show we walked on and kicked into ‘Dog Eat Dog’ which has a very prominent bass line and I just couldn’t hear my bass at all. I turned around and went to the bass amp and turned it up and still couldn’t hear it and then realised the amp wasn’t working! Luckily the bass guitar is fed directly to the front of house PA system as well as the amp so the audience could hear my bass fine, but I couldn’t hear it on stage. I had to rely on just knowing I was putting my fingers in the right place, but it was pretty nerve wracking. We got it all fixed after that though… Then during ‘Kings Of The Wild Frontier’ the entire stage power cut out and all the amps and guitars and everything just went silent! The audience started singing the song and it became this quite magical moment of us standing on the stage waiting for the power to come back on whilst the crowd serenaded us.
Adam was definitely a huge influence on Rachel Stamp. I even stole some of the lyrics from ‘Vive le Rock’ in our song ‘Ladies & Gents’ and we named a song ‘Pink Skab’ because when Will came up with that riff I thought he was playing an Ants b-side! We used to cover ‘It Doesn’t Matter’ and ‘Fall In’ too. Will had been a huge fan as a kid but I got into Adam a bit later, when a friend at school played me the b-sides to the singles. That’s what really got me, songs like ‘Christian Dior’ and ‘Physical’. When we first played with Adam, I think he was impressed that we knew all the ‘obscure’ songs and we could play most of them already. There’s a great video of us playing at the Scala and we open with ‘Plastic Surgery’ and go straight into ‘Lady’ and then segue into ‘The Day I Met God’ and the audience goes fucking nuts. They never expected in a million years to hear those songs and all that was basically Will’s idea. Adam would just say ‘what do you want to play?’ and we would play it and he would sing it. It was a pretty incredible thing to be a part of.
Would you consider playing in Europe, or post-B****t is it just too complicated/ expensive? It’s a selfish question, as I’m based in France now.
I would love to play in Europe! I’m doing more shows now with just an acoustic guitar and I really enjoy playing that way. My solo music lends itself to being performed in a stripped-down way. I’m not sure if that answers your question? I guess what I’m saying is that I’m very open to offers if someone wants to book me!
Music? It’s a shit business, as someone nearly famous once said. Were there any justice, the likes of Jonny Cola and Jez Leather would be household names. After the demise of the A-Grades, you’d forgive them for giving in. But, regardless of the grind of holding down day jobs, they continue to make glorious music. Which, without a record label, is nigh on impossible to release in a physical format. It’s a shame, because this album of 20 songs is, at turns, beautiful, catchy, melancholy and joyous.
With the average song length of 3 minutes, there’s no time to get bored, or stuck in a rut. There’s echoes of the A-Grades, obviously, but also Pulp, Cockney Rebel, Erasure, Pet Shop Boys and ABBA.
And with ‘A Song For Europe’, they have perhaps unwittingly written a potential Eurovision winner, complete with castanets. Once heard, never forgotten.
‘My Couchette’, with its bouncing bass line, is 2 minutes of salacious pop, ‘Breakfast In Trieste’ manages to be Ken Bruce friendly and sad in equal measure; “don’t be the last chip in the casino”.
‘He Bled’ would make Vince Clark proud, while ‘Split Personality’ has those backing vocals that Mauro was/is so good at.
‘Bristol’ is an ear worm with dark undertones; “I tried to talk to God last night, but it went to answer phone”, ‘Statues’ reminds me a little of when Blur were actually good, with a chorus from 1974, and ‘Night Train To Istanbul’ brings a bit of funk to the proceedings. Jonny continues to make seemingly innocent phrases sound ominous and seedy, thankfully.
‘Delta Blues’ is a slice of wonderful pop, a duet with Caz from Desperate Journalist, the Christmas song you didn’t know you needed. Check out the video. ‘Goodnight Vienna’ made me laugh out loud, while ‘Dunroamin’ is the perfect end to what should be a double album on vinyl/CD, bleak but beautiful. There’s much more here, obviously, but just trust me. Go over to Bandcamp, listen and then click ‘buy’. All musicians should aim this high, and I’m equally delighted that they’ve created this album and disappointed that so few people will hear it. Be one of the few.
Damaged Goods reissue this debut recording by Medway legends The Daggermen. If amphetamine paced, mod styled tunes is your thing, walk this way…
With links to The Prisoners, and having seen The Milkshakes whilst still at school, our heroic trio decided that this music was their destiny. Nascent drummer Wolf Howard invited Billy Childish to see their fledgling band, and the rest is Medway history, long before these two musicians joined forces in several of Billy’s groups.
Togged-up in Carnaby Street’s finest mod threads, and armed with a set of blistering Who and Kinks influenced tunes, all at under three minutes long, The Daggermen should have been bigger. But, maybe that would have spoiled it. With 18 tracks on the CD and 12 on the LP, now’s the time to explore their legacy. Primal, but with the likes of ‘What Do I Do For You’ showing their talent for vocal harmonies, this is a strong set of songs, including instrumentals like the Link Wray influenced ‘Bundle’ and the title track.
18 tunes rattle by in no time. If you’re not shaking your thing, there’s no hope for you. It’s definitely the Medway Sound, full of youthful energy. While I wait for Billy Childish to return to the faster stuff, this is a treat. Get on it!
After the gig drought of the last couple of years, it’s important to take every opportunity to get out there and support your favourite artists. Here in the southwest of France, it’s no different. There haven’t been many gigs of late, so I was pleasantly surprised to hear that UK Subs legend Alvin Gibbs was playing at a bar just a few miles from chez Moi. Yes, it’s Thursday evening, yes, I’m working tomorrow, but let’s go!
I’ve stopped off at Pub Gabariers before, on an afternoon ride, so I knew it was a nice spot, next to the canal. Hearing that he was due to be joined on guitar by Steve Crittall (Black Bombers, ex-Godfathers, all-round nice chap) was the icing on the cake.
It’s a relaxed atmosphere at the pub/bistro, with just enough room inside for the band and a small audience, but Alvin is on home turf, having moved near Bordeaux some years ago. So, we get a variety of classics from the Subs, Iggy Pop/The Stooges, Alice Cooper, as well as some tunes from Alvin’s fine solo album, ‘Your Disobedient Servant’.
While the vocals could be a little louder, the bass is unsurprisingly upfront, and Steve’s guitar is suitably savage during the likes of ‘Down On The Street’ and ‘I Got A Right’, hitting just the right tone on ‘1969’. It was particularly good to hear ‘Ghost Train’ and ‘Clumsy Fingers’, and the Jonesy riff of ‘Tuff Baby’, with the surprise inclusion of ‘Children Of The Revolution’ and ‘Brand New Cadillac’. Something for everyone, including the handful of ragged Subs t-shirts; ‘Tomorrow’s Girl’ and ‘Warhead’ to end, complete with audience participation.
An unexpected treat on a Thursday evening. I hope to see the Subs again, probably in the UK, their recent album ‘Reverse Engineering’ is excellent, and tonight showed that Alvin’s songs merit a second solo album…