Having recently reviewed the magnificent Scaramanga Six, I was sent a link to the new audio-visual project by Shatner main man, Jim Bower. As the Scara’s Paul Morricone has played with Shatner, it seemed a good idea to explore ‘Life Support’. Clearly, this has been a labour of love for Bower; ten tracks, each with an accompanying video, one released each month until December 2021. The loose concept is an environmental journey “from apathy to activism”. So, not Ramones, then? No, but we have room at RPM to embrace a variety of music, as long the quality is high.

Which it is. For fans of the Scaramanga Six, yes, and anyone with an ear for a tune and a story. Shatner often sounded, to these ears, like a relative of Chris Catalyst of Eureka Machines. And if Chris wrote a concept album, it could sound like this. ‘When David Bowie Died’ is a case in point, a subject Chris has written about. Things have, indeed, been unsettlingly weird since then.

‘Sun Will Rise’ seems written from the point of view of a conspiracy theorist; “I’ve got the right to believe what I like”. ‘Wrong’ is the reply to the keyboard warrior; “I’m sure you found a Facebook group who totally agree with you”.

‘All You Need Is Time’ laments the time wasted, while trying to provide for the future. The eternal conundrum of work/play balance? “We’ll skip through fields, sea air we’ll breathe, on statutory days of leave”.

‘Can Of Worms’ sees the protagonist using silence as a shield, rather than confronting the disturbed ideas of other people. ‘Life Support’ pleads with their partner to save them, to make life worthwhile; “You’re my life, so be there, be my health care, hold my hand”.

Lyrically, not easy listening, but it bears fruit if you’re ready for it. The music is lightly psychedelic in parts, which suits the hypnotic nature of the themes. Half-dreamed, half-remembered? For fans of the aforementioned Scaramanga Six, Chris Catalyst, Mansun/Paul Draper. A bold, but ultimately satisfying project.

Buy Here

Author: Martin Chamarette

A posthumous album is always going to be a double-edged thing. The artist’s death affects us, the listener, but the harsher reality is a wife without her husband, a daughter who will grow up without her dad. For that, I am truly sorry. Dan’s family wanted this album to be released, I believe it was already finished, with one video recorded for ‘People Throwing Stones In Glass Houses’. As such, it is a fitting tribute and document of a prodigiously talented songwriter.

Thirteen songs, starting with the ominously titled ‘You Can’t Go Home No More’, we’re in the guitar-led territory of ‘Join’ and ‘Dan Sartain Lives’. Simple, angular riffs with the trademark melody lines, somewhere between Link Wray and Poison Ivy. If that’s your bag, but you haven’t heard Dan before, this is your place to start.

‘I Heard Laughing’ could almost be Buddy Holly, both in rhythm and vocal tone. ‘Kisses In The Morning’ evokes Sun-era Elvis, simple but beautiful, ragged at the edges. As the sleeve notes state, it’s not a return to form, because Sartain never lost his form, merely tried a variety of styles, from pared-back rock n roll to electro. His songwriting always shone through.

‘True Love’ would be perfect for Ramones, complete with backing vocals. ‘My Best Fit’ is a love song to his hometown, Birmingham, Alabama. ‘Fires And Floods’ has that addictive, staccato way he had of playing. Even with a drum machine, it sounds more ‘organic’ than Jack White could ever hope to be.

‘Dumb Friends’ shares some DNA with The Urban Voodoo Machine, dripping reverb and a slinky menace. ‘Foreman Grill’ extols the virtues of the George Foreman grill. No, really. ‘Personal Injury Law’ adds some nicely wonky keyboards to the mix, while ‘Daddy’s Coming Home’ can’t help but bring a tear to the eye, regardless of the upbeat tune and handclaps.

With his roots in the 50s, yet remaining adventurous throughout his career, Dan Sartain was, for me, one of the best songwriters of his generation, a stylish dude, and a one-off. You are sorely missed.

Buy Here

Author: Martin Chamarette

It’s simple, really. Do you like Ramones? The Flamin’ Groovies? ‘Exile On Main Street’? If you answered “yes” to all the above, then Brad Marino has the album for you. He’s already written two of my favourite power pop classics in ‘Wake Up, Baby’ and ‘C’mon..’, and knows how to craft a short, snappy tune with four chords.

 

And he wields his Telecaster in a decidedly Keef-like fashion on opener ‘Even The Score’, plenty of slide guitar and choppy rhythms, similar to the title track, which straddles Stones/Groovies camps to good effect.

 

‘Taillights Fade’ sees the protagonist chased out of town, complete with handclaps and a simple, effective solo. ‘Local Show’ will be a familiar tale for many musicians; “it’s a local show, which means nobody will go”. Including the inevitable list of excuses your “friends” use to avoid going/paying to see an amateur gig.

 

‘Tripwire’ is a classy instrumental, while ‘False Alarm’ and ‘What Do You Know’ remind me a little of The Speedways. High praise indeed! Yes, some of the songs here are similar, but that never hurt Ramones, who I feel would approve of ‘To Bleed’. And when the quality is this high, it’s not a criticism. ‘Take Your Time’ has a hint of the mighty Groovies, with some Rickenbacker twang.

 

In an ideal world, these would be big radio tunes, especially with summer just around the corner. And the cd has three extra cover versions, as if you needed another reason to order it. In these somewhat bleak times, this is a pleasant respite.

Beluga Records

Ghost Highway Records

Spaghetty Town Records

Buy Brad Marino Here

Bandcamp

Author: Martin Chamarette

Not the sort of one-man-band you saw outside Woolworths in the 70s, John Schooley is firmly in the blues-trash vein of Daddy Long Legs. Hailing from Austin, Texas, and with a love of Howlin’ Wolf and primal, dirty rhythm and blues, this is his second album for Voodoo Rhythm Records. A mixture of classics and originals.

 

The album is bookended with ‘Black Diamond Express Train To Hell’ parts 1 and 2, ‘Chicago Breakdown’ being the first full song, with the rhythm of an out of control train, in 1930s Chicago, obviously. ‘Factory Dog’ is an original, not that you’d know, as John is fully immersed in his chosen field. This is a compliment. He even throws in a third chord, just to show off. ‘Cat Squirrel’ is a foot-stomping tune, while ‘She Ain’t Comin’ Home’ is a slower, slide-infused song.

 

‘Drive You Faster’ does exactly that. John is almost beating Daddy Long Legs on his own here, he certainly doesn’t hold back. Live, he must be a sight to see. ‘Honest I Do’ pushes the distortion to the edge, ‘I Wish You Would’ takes it back to its original roots, ‘A Lover Not A Fighter’ is like a old, blues dude wrestling The Cramps. Howlin’ Wolf’s ‘Killing Floor’ wraps things up nicely, just as it should sound.

 

If Daddy Long Legs’ last album was too slick for your tastes, this will float your boat. Feral production values and plenty of rough edges. Real rhythm and blues.

Buy ‘John Schooley & His One Man Band’ Here

Bandcamp

Facebook / Website

Author: Martin Chamarette

I’d heard recently that a certain Mr. Scabies was providing the drums for ex-Ant/Wolfmen bassist and singer Chris Constantinou’s new project. Having played The Wolfmen’s albums to death previously, this was bound to be interesting.

 

It is a side-step in retro sounds, to these ears. Most musicians ape the 60s, but this is firmly in the “90s take on psychedelia” territory. Hang on! That’s not as bad as it sounds. While Chris didn’t play on Adam Ant’s ‘Wonderful’ album from 1995, tracks like ‘Beautiful Losers’ and ‘Definition’ wouldn’t sound out of place there. He’s learnt something from the backing vocals, for sure. ‘Rain’ is woozy, psyche-pop, with the effortless basslines we’d expect.

 

‘Kings X Guru’ has Rat providing the groovy, Beatles rhythms. ‘Andy’s Wonder World’, musically at least, reminds me of The Dowling Poole’s more laid back moments. ‘Kill Me If You Love Me’ is more chorus friendly, while ‘2% Out’ could see you frugging round the sofa with your maracas, man.

 

It certainly has a character, as an album, and Chris obviously knows what he wants. I’d have liked a few more uptempo songs, but that isn’t really what this is about. ‘I Like Sex In The Suburbs’ is what Liam G should be singing, and ‘Gerry’s Ashes’ is reminiscent of ‘Floodland’ era Sisters. So, an interesting set of songs, if you’re in a mellower mood.

Buy 2% Out Of Sync’ Here

Author: Martin Chamarette

Seemingly untouched by the global crisis as much as any passing trend, Billy Childish continues to swell his catalogue at an amazing rate. After CTMF’s ‘Last Punk Standing’, comes the first of four albums by his latest project, The William Loveday Intention. Yes; four albums, already in the can. Joined by James Taylor and Dave Tattersall, “People Think…” has the flavour of a western-themed record. The Medway Delta is augmented by tales from the saddle, while Billy’s voice remains firmly in the Kent marshlands.

 

The production is lush, as befits the ‘widescreen’ feel of most of the songs here. Violins and mariachi trumpets enhance songs like ‘My Love For You’, which has the richness of The Urban Voodoo Machine, while ‘Again And Again’ and ‘This Wondrous Day’ reminds me of Dan Sartain’s recent ‘Blue Prairie’ album, though I imagine that Billy has cast an influence on them already.

 

The richer sound suits the songs and the cinematic feel throughout, but there are still the Lo-Fi elements you’d expect; the insistent, monotone keyboard riff of the title track, which manages to name check Kylie Minogue, and the fiddle led lament of ‘The Bitter Cup’.

 

I’m guessing that it’s Julie singing on ‘You’re The One I Idolise’, though I don’t have all the details to hand. A sweet song that echoes some slower T Rex tunes. Then there’s the skeletal blues riff of ‘My Father Was A Railroad Man’, one of the oldest riffs, that John Lee Hooker must have heard as a child.

 

This is an interesting side-step from Billy, and bears repeated listens. What the next three albums will bring, only he knows, but this is very promising.

Damaged Goods Records

Buy ‘People Think They Know Me’ Here

Author: Martin Chamarette

The world needs stars. Real stars, self-made weirdos, who are forced to make their art because it’s a part of them. The downside is that the world at large ignores them nowadays. The gems glitter in the dark corners, hidden from view. David Ryder Prangley has always known this. Regardless, he helmed Rachel Stamp, and now Sister Witch. With this, his debut solo album, he is spoiling us.

 

While there are only seven songs, the quality demands your attention and cash. Yes, you can listen for free on Bandcamp, but if you love what you hear, grab a cd. Give me seven great songs over 30 minutes rather than another dull, drawn out album any time.

 

Yes, there is the anticipated, crunching glam sound, but also a broad palette of tunes. ‘They Came From The Stars To Capture Our Hearts’ opens the album, ethereal piano and vocals. I’m reminded of the stupendous Jonny Cola And The A-Grades, who, no doubt, owe a debt to Mr R.P. It’s beautiful.

 

‘Space Station Number Nine’ cranks up the riffs and drums, with some slinky, dual guitars. Music to pout to. ‘Trouble Every Day’, quite reasonably, sounds like Rachel Stamp. The production is great, proving that you don’t need a big budget if you know what you’re doing. ‘Forever In Starlight’ was the first track released with an accompanying video, plaintive and simple. I like to think that  Bolan would be making music like this. Love the guitar tone.

‘The Apple’ is an instrumental interlude, which brings us to the hip-shaking title track. Unashamedly glam, guitar and sax vying for attention. Prepare to strut your stuff. ‘Captain Sugar’ reminds me of Roxy Music and Prince, which takes some doing. It starts like something from ‘For Your Pleasure’, before the vocals get all fruity and the solo kicks off.

 

11th March, you can witness this for yourself at Nambucca, London. Sadly, I’m the wrong side of the channel now, but what’s your excuse? You won’t regret it.

 

Buy Black Magic And True Love Here

 

Author: Martin Chamarette

 

It’s been nine long years since Fabienne Delsol’s third solo album, ‘On My Mind’, and I had become resigned to the idea that she had left music behind her. Which, considering she had seemed carved from my francophone dreams, was hard to accept. She has graced us with three albums of 60s inspired beat and psyche pop, as if visiting us briefly to improve our dull world.

 

Mais, non! Monsieur Daley m’a dit qu’elle va sortir un nouveau album. And ‘Four’ is all I could have dreamed of. While maintaining the influence of a young Françoise Hardy, Fabienne’s sound is maturing to slightly darker places. Back again at Toerag Studios, but now co-producing with Luke Oldfield, this is the sound of Fabienne in control of her muse.

 

‘See How They Run’, with fuzz-guitar melody, brings us back to where she left off. Like a lost, ephemeral classic. ‘Ladder’s acoustic intro gives way to an organ-fuelled groove, which also gives ‘Door Knob’ a more sinister tone, though it still swings. I think Rudi Protrudi would approve.

 

Another catchy original ‘So Many Could Not’ is followed by the first choice of cover version, ‘When I Awake’. Yes, the Quo tune is pared back but retains its quirky charm. ‘The Face’ by the Human Beinz is an inspired choice, but the standout cover is Françoise Hardy’s ‘J’ai Fait De Lui Un Rêve’. If I still had hairs on the back of my neck, they’d be standing up.

 

‘I’ll Never Be Lonely Again’ takes a Beatley, meandering path, while ‘Hurtin’ Kind’ ends the album on a groovy note. If, like me, you feel like you were born in the wrong time, and beat-pop-psyche nuggets are your thing, I can’t recommend this album enough. The world is a better place with Fabienne Delsol in it. Merci, Fabienne, mille fois.

Author: Martin Chamarette

Facebook

 

In support of their fourth album, Giuda returned to rock London. Having seen them twice before, I knew that this was going to be an unmissable gig. Last time around, they had White Trash and Cyanide Pills on the bill; one of the best line ups I’ve ever seen. Tonight, it’s the turn of Suicide Generation to open proceedings. You can’t fault their energy, though their set seems blighted by guitar/amp issues, and they are a little light on tunes, but they reminded me of the great Ray Zell’s Marionette, so I warmed to them.

 

Thee Dagger Debs were more to my tastes. Indeed, so fine was their performance that I bought their vinyl album at the end of the night, and risked it on a packed tube train. To some, ‘pub rock’ may be faint praise, but they recognise its value; there’s a whiff of good, old Canvey about them. More rhythm than solos, punchy bass lines, and tunes to get the feet moving, I hope to see them again soon.

 

So, what can be said about Giuda that hasn’t been said before? After tonight’s show, I’m running out of superlatives. You are guaranteed a great night out at a Giuda gig. While their records are fabulous, they are even better live. From the first chord, they are in control. Tenderer embodies the joy of their music, a frontman immersed in every song, urging the crowd on. And the choruses keep on coming, new songs like ‘Space Walk’ and ‘Overdrive’ fitting seamlessly into older classics.

 

As ever, they keep the gaps between songs to a minimum. If like me, you’re singing along, you barely have time to catch your breath before the next chorus hits. And, most of us were singing; it’s a celebratory atmosphere. We’re all here to forget the world and have a good time, and Giuda are built to deliver. I can’t give you a set list, as my feet were moving all night. This is music to lose yourself in. We danced, we sang, we smiled. Some of the most important things in life. What more do you want? Tonight belongs to Giuda. They were glorious. Thank you.

Author: Martin Chamarette

Giuda Facebook

Thee Dagger Debs Facebook

Review Of Giuda album ‘E.V.A’ Here