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Browsing Month May, 2017

Author – Mark Baxter

We recently caught up with the charming, Jazz loving, hard grafting man-a-bout-town, Author Mark ‘Bax’ Baxter, to talk about what it takes to become an author and his latest book project with Ian Snowball! This is what he had to say…

01. How did you get started in the world of words?

Sadly it was two sad events in my personal life, both within a few months of each other in the year 2000, that gave me the biggest kick up the arse imaginable, making me realise we aren’t on this planet for too long and that tomorrow is promised to no one. So if I was ever going do the things I always planned, like write a book, score a goal at Wembley, or get into studio 2 at Abbey Road. I had better get cracking at the age of 37 and that I did at the start of 2001. I had an idea of the clothing within the game of football. Not just what the players wore off duty, but also what the fans wore, from Mod, Skin to Casuals and then weave in the story of the brands that mattered to us all!

02. Where did you see the first piece you had written in print?

That idea above became The Fashion of Football – From Best To Beckham, published in 2004. As I said, I had the idea but absolutely no idea to get it published. As a result of some business I was involved in, I met writer Paolo Hewitt, who was someone I admire for his writing in his NME days and after some persuading, PH agreed to write the book, with me researching and providing the ideas and eventually a bit of writing.

03. Was it a struggle getting your first book published?

Not with this first one, as Paolo had an agent who did us a deal for the book and that came out on Mainstream and would go on to sell something like 3,000 copies.

04. Can you remember how you felt the first time you picked up your book fresh from the printers?

Very hard to describe. I just kept looking at it. Me, a writer of an actual book? Crazy really. But of course, I was bitten by the bug!

05. How do you deal with potential rejection from Publishers?

I had a lot of practice with that my second idea! It was called The Mumper, and it looked at the life of 7 guys in a pub in South East London. One of the sad events I mentioned above was the death of my Dad aged 65, just three months after he retired. I was very close to my Dad and spent a lot of time with him as a kid watching him sing in pubs and clubs of the local area. Going onto those trips, aged 12/13, I started to meet loads of characters, so who would have fitted in very nicely in ‘Minder’ or ‘Fools And Horses’. Funny people, who were constantly up to something, but who made me laugh my head off. Anyway, I told Paolo I was going to write a novel about them all and he agreed to have a look at the writing and advise me as I went along. And this he did. I managed to somehow get to 75, 000 words and as I was writing it, I could see it as a film. The only problem was I couldn’t get a publishing deal, and it was rejected by over 60 publishers. So, I decided to self publish in 2007 and it took all my life savings to get it into book form. Barry Pease @ Pip! Pip!, who you may know, did a marvellous job on the cover art and off we went. It sold nearly 1,000 copies before the industry caught up with the book and started to take it seriously. It later got a proper book deal with Orion, who are one of the biggest publishers in the UK and the film rights were optioned and became the 2012 film ‘Outside Bet’ starring Bob Hoskins (RIP).

06. What type of writers excite you?

At the minute, I’m well into Damon Runyon and SJ Perelman. Over the years, most of Nik Cohn’s work I have liked, as well as Frank Norman and Colin MacInnes. I grew up reading lot of the music journalists such as: Danny Baker, Paul Morley, Nick Kent and Paolo, so they would be influential at the start of it all.

07. As an author how do you feel about reviews and the Industry mechanics?

Reviews are very important, but hard to attain, unless you have a heavyweight publisher behind you and they are to get in to. My experience of the industry is that it is a little bit like a closed shop. But having said that, if you have strong enough idea and you are prepared to graft, you might get somewhere, sometimes despite people instead of them helping from the start.

08. What’s a typical working day like for you?

I’ve been writing now full time since New Years Day 2008 and currently have 12 books published in one form or the other. Sadly, making a decent living from publishing books at my level is nigh on impossible, so I also write websites, blogs, PR copy, social media text etc, every day to keep the self-employment going. A typical day starts at 6am. I write up all the latest entries for the 12 to 15 Facebook and Twitter pages I work on until 9am. Then I might work on a film script ( I have recently made a few documentaries with my film business partner Lee Cogswell) or I will head into Soho for a load of meetings, and to do a bit of networking. They tend to be long old days, but usually interesting and enjoyable

09. What would be the title of your autobiography?

‘What You?!?’ – That was said to me by a former 9-5 colleague who heard I had my first book coming out and he uttered that immortal phrase. I was really taken back that he thought that I couldn’t do it. If I ever struggle on a job and I have many times, I always think of the plum who said that, then I smile and crack on and think ‘yes, me mate…’

10. What do you do aside from writing, where do you seek inspiration yourself?

Inspiration comes from people in whatever industry it might be, who have made a success of it. Be it in film, sport, music, or normal 9-5 work . Being around those people, and I’m lucky to have worked with some very big names, you can’t help to learn from the best and I continue to do that , every single day

11. What book do you wish you had written?

I’ll give you a couple – ‘The Affectionate Punch’ By Justin de Villeneuve or ‘Absolute Beginners’ by Colin MacInnes.

12. How has the internet changed what you do?

It has helped a lot with self publishing and then selling the book too, through the social media. With all these things, it has great sides and it has its terrible sides. If you use it right, it can only help

13. Do you have any advice for wannabe authors?

I do get asked a lot about helping with books, that people have had an idea to write. I always say just start writing and don’t worry about editing as you go along. Get to the end of the story and then read it back and then edit. After the fifth draft, if you still want to write the book, you will make a great job of it. Sadly, I rarely hear of anyone finishing the book, as it is a very tough process to do it right and most seem to give up

14. What projects are you planning for the future and please plug your latest book?

Really busy at the minute as we are finishing a documentary on legendary Ivy League retailer John Simons for release on DVD in Sept/Oct and we have three other films in various stages and we’re constantly juggling from one to the other. I have just had my 12th book – ‘A Hard Days Month’ co written with Ian Snowball – published through New Haven. It is mainly set in 1964 and follows two suburban 16 year old school girls as they stalk The Beatles at gigs and public appearances around the UK in the summer the album and film ‘A Hard Days Night’ came out. They are trying to get their copies of the album signed by the fabs and along the way they discover boys, drink, drugs, family death and all the stops in between. It is the final summer of their childhood and time to grow up.

*Well done to Millwall Football Club on their recent promotion!

Feedback so far has been great and you can order the book at Waterstones, Amazon or Barnes and Noble in the States among many other places: GRAB A COPY HERE. or at WATERSTONES HERE.


A Hard Day’s Month
www.barnesandnoble.com
‘A Hard Day’s Month’ by Ian Snowball and Mark Baxter follows two surburban Beatles obsessed teenage girls, ( Sandra and Cynthia) as they go on an adventure attempting to get their copies of their A Hard Day’s Night LP’s autographed by the Fabs. As they trail the band all over the UK, they slowly leave their innocent world of Fabdom behind and begin to discover a world of boys, drink, drugs, family bereavement and the ‘normal’ life which seems mapped out for them. ‘A Hard Days Month ‘ is a funny, exciting and heartwarming story with music of The Beatles as it’s the soundtrackIt is the story of one last summer to be truly themselves, before they have to grow up and leave it all behind…

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Boo Eyeplug acts as webmaster/designer for the Eyeplug site. Not the most social of creatures and with several personality issues, and rather exotic, eccentric tastes for obscure ‘cultish’ stuff which makes his ramblings seem even more sweetly abstract and often annoying.

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May 25, 2017 By : Category : Culture DozenQ Eyeplugs Features Front page Literature Tags:, , , ,
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Jeff Monk Reviews – May 2017


Patto: Roll ‘em Smoke ‘em Put Another Line Out (Esoteric Recordings)

For their 1972 third album progressive rockers Patto pulled out all the so-called stops to try and get heard beyond their base, which in all honesty was thin on the ground. “Roll ‘em…” is a problematic album to say the least and a set that may not necessarily pull you onto the Patto bandwagon immediately. The album opens with a patently weird intro that tries very hard to be Zappa-esque but really only makes you wonder why they bothered when the song that follows is the splendid “Flat Footed Woman”. Here the band revels in their distinct sound pitched somewhere between Little Feat, The Band and early Elton John and his band. Of course vocalist Mike Patto and guitarist Ollie Halsall were always the centres of the action in this quartet with equal measure given to the raging, roll-filled kit work of drummer John Halsey. “Singing The Blues On Reds” is an ode of sorts to soul/funksters like James Brown with full debt paid to a stretched tight beat and interesting rhythm breaks showing Patto’s dynamic musical range perfectly. “Mummy” is an exasperating bit of spoken word nonsense that, if the band had any kind of direction back in the day, would have been left off the album completely. “Loud Green Song” stands as the best track here and if the band had leaned more in this almost punk rock/Social Deviants like direction one wonders how events may have turned out for them. On balance Patto on “Roll ‘Em…” is a talented band at lost tether as to a direction as they can’t settle on whether they are more about looning, lyrics or licks and in the end, this nullifies the record’s impact as a whole. Includes three 1973 vintage Peel Session bonus tracks not on the original album with 16-page full colour liner booklet.

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Patto: Monkey’s Bum (Esoteric Recordings)

While Patto’s direly titled 1973 album “Monkey’s Bum” was never officially released at the time it perhaps should have been. The awkward humour of the band has been dialed back here and what remains is an excellent set of tracks that deliver Mike Patto’s voice in a tonal range that he sounds comfortable in. The songs are less complicated and actually provide an improved sense of the bands’ strengths and don’t lose impact due to overly complicated musical arrangements. Opener “My Days Are Numbered” is a jazzy driver that leads into the solid trio of Randy Newman’s “Last Night I Had A Dream”, the radio-ready “Sugar Cube 1967” and the energetic “I Need You”. “Good Friend”, with its Elton John-like atmosphere is another track that would have suited radio well at the time and the Halsall penned and sung “Sausages” is further proof that this guy could have been at least a firm pub rock contender if the era had only been a little different for him. Three sonically dismal live 1973 Peel Session bonus tracks round out this hidden gem of an album. It made perfect sense that Patto broke up at the time of “Monkey’s…” non-release. Each of these sets shows a diverse crew ready and able to succeed yet without a method to distil what they did best into a tangible vision on vinyl.

(Roll ‘Em…:11 tracks – 60 minutes, Monkey’s Bum: 13 tracks, 52 minutes. Both remastered and expanded)

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Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow: Stranger In Us All – Expanded Edition (Cherry Red Recordings/HNE Recordings)

For this particular 1995 slice of the enormously convoluted Rainbow pie leader, Ritchie Blackmore again formed a new band and singer around himself to see what would come of it. Indeed “Stranger…” is pretty solid album when you actually disentangle it from the times that it was created and take a discerning look at its’ remaining pluses and minuses as a melodic, hard rock set. The band (Paul Morris/keyboards, Greg Smith/bass, John O’Reilly/drums and over-emotive singer Doogie White along with Blackmore squeeze Candice Night on BVs) are to be commended for working hard on these tracks and although for the entire album it does sound like the old Man In Black – U.K. Version is rather phoning in his contributions a great deal does work. Opening track “Wolf To The Moon” features plenty of fiery licks and a few informal whammy bar dive bombs by Blackmore while White sets the tone as Ronnie James Dio Mk. IV. With so-called “grunge” music floating everyone’s commercial musical boats as it were at this time there is a sense that “Cold Hearted Woman”, the Zeppelin-esque “Hunting Humans (Insatiable)” and the opening of the Kashmir-like “Ariel” could have been contenders for radio play if the band had not been under Blackmore’s complete and some would say worn-out musical vision. “Too Late For Tears” sounds like any fluffy American metal from the mid-nineties but as a polar opposite “Black Masquerade” has all the pure Rainbow elements fans would expect. Replete with economical keyboard strings effects and Blackmore’s gothic solo at the outro adding gravitas to this burner this track should be a stand-out for fans. Electric Light Orchestra and The Yardbirds recorded versions of Grieg’s “Hall Of The Mountain King” and “Still I’m Sad” better respectively but since Blackmore was inches away from going full Renaissance Fayre with his music (see: Blackmore’s Night) these songs foreshadow what was to come. The three bonus tracks are rarities for and include an originally Japan only take of “Emotional Crime”. Nicely packaged with interesting liner notes including a personal account essay by Doogie White.

(13 tracks CD – 66 minutes)

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Jeff Monk

Long serving music writer and hermit from the frozen center of Canada JM spends his days creating a pleasant environment for world class ballet dancers while a looping soundtrack of loud rock and roll music boils continuously in his head. This is something that can't be fixed. At your service. Now buy him a cigar and exit.

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May 22, 2017 By : Category : Eyeplugs Music Picks Reviews Rock Tags:, , , ,
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Low Cut Connie: Dirty Pictures (Part 1)

Low Cut Connie: Dirty Pictures (Part 1) (Contender Records)

Philadelphia quintet Low Cut Connie is pretty much the brainchild of singer/songwriter/piano pounder Adam Weiner and if its’ latest album is any indication of their future musical trajectory then this is a band to watch. “DPP1” is bursting with irreverent rock‘n’roll and cannily introspective tunes that most bands just can’t seem to wrap themselves around effectively for a full album anymore. Opening track “Revolution Rock‘n’Roll” sets the scene with flair using Weiner’s languid boogie-woogie piano figure and solid vocals as an underlay for a story of night club rebellion where he chides “Come on children rip it up, let the jerk offs clean it up, touch my body touch my soul, revolution rock and roll”. When these guys are firing on all cylinders they sound like a less drunken Replacements if led by Jerry Lee Lewis in his prime. Covering Prince’s “Controversy” is one thing but they get even funkier on the buzzing soul/rock of “Love Life” and the tough “Death and Destruction”. Weiner speaks to his romantic inadequacies and admits them in “Angela” where he proclaims “You’re just to hot to date me… you should move to L.A…. you should be with a gorgeous guy, I know I’m a real far cry”.

As the album progresses it reveals deeper layers of this bands’ ability to sound like they only want to party yet are keen to deliver another side to the bar tab. “Montreal” is a lovely and heart warming story of the gentle passing of social diseases amongst friends while the sweet “Forever” and album closer “What Size Shoe” are romantic enablers that will bring a tear to even the hardest, beer addled heart. While ostensibly sounding like they don’t want to prove anything-here Low Cut Connie actually do. Their talent lies is being able to raise the roof while giving you songs that actually grab your attention for more than the length of their running time. That in itself is a colossal achievement. Bring on Part 2!

(10 tracks – 33 minutes)

Jeff Monk
-30-

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Jeff Monk

Long serving music writer and hermit from the frozen center of Canada JM spends his days creating a pleasant environment for world class ballet dancers while a looping soundtrack of loud rock and roll music boils continuously in his head. This is something that can't be fixed. At your service. Now buy him a cigar and exit.

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May 8, 2017 By : Category : Blues Cult Dark Eyeplugs Garage Reviews Tags:,
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Perfect Past: The Complete Doctors of Madness

This entry is part 8 of 8 in the series Cherry Red Icons

Perfect Past: The Complete Doctors of Madness (RPM 3-CD set, RPMBX534)

The long-overdue repackaging of the Doctors of Madness’ three seminal LPs arrives, and for once, the smart clamshell box and photo-packed booklet are worth the trouble.

Their formation in 1974 in a Brixton cellar seems completely appropriate, given lead guitarist and singer Richard (Kid) Strange’s predilection for drama and Burroughsian poetry possessing a strong whiff of subterranean menace. Joining him were the magnificently monikered violinist Urban Blitz, bassist Stoner and drummer Peter di Lemma, all contributing to something far greater than the sum of their talents.

Signed to the street savvy Polydor label, ‘Late Night Movies, All Night Brainstorms’ arrived in 1976, fully formed and ready to take on all comers. The opener, ‘Waiting’ hits the ground running, with all the urgency and bluster of punk. ‘Afterglow’s mournful violin, Eastern stylings and slow, reflective lyric throws the listener, expecting perhaps more of the flash and clatter of ‘Waiting’. Instead, something more akin to psychedelic rock takes over, continuing the Eastern stylings in the melancholic ‘Mitzi’s Cure’. ‘I Think we’re Alone’ lacks the lyrical majesty that the instrumentation has in spades, but it’s hard not to get caught up in its romantic mood. ‘The Noises of The Evening’s scratchy, sawing violin intro is backed up well by a spiky guitar solo, leading into an epic, shambolic, piece that is worth the price of the LP alone.

Over on side 2 of the original LP, ‘Billy Watch Out’ begins with a gentle acoustic guitar figure and edgy violin, as Richard unrolls his kitchen sink tale, ironically soaring with the violin’s sound. ‘B-Movie Bedtime’s lively, punky sound has all the speedball excitement of the era, set off by suitably aggressive lyrics. Ending with the epic 15 minute ‘Mainlines’, a heady stew of Burroughsian lyrics, hypersensitive delivery, and camply melancholic backing, it should have made their reputation, and perhaps in some parallel universe, it did.

The CD is extended to include a wild, screeching outtake, ‘Doctors of Madness’ and The Doctors’ shambolic take on ‘Ballad of a Thin Man’, a basement level punk thrash that could not have done the band’s reputation any favours. The ‘We Don’t Get Back’ demo has an interesting feel, but although lacking an engaging vocal performance, nevertheless suggests something that could be built on. The ‘B-Movie Bedtime’ demo is punkier than its final form, and may well have been left alone, rather than over-polished. ‘Out’ is the best demo here, its horror-movie siren sound and snidely delivery working well here. ‘Figments of Emancipation’, also released in 1976, opens with the melodic, slightly folksy intro of ‘Brothers’, but quickly descends into a hellish rock maelstrom, a style that continues in ‘Suicide City’s skyscraper guitars and Bowiesque sci-fi lyrics. The languorous, melancholic feel of ‘Perfect Past’ is proof that the Doctors were not all strum und drang; they had a sensitivity that could have been worth further exploration. Metaphorically flipping over to side 2, ‘Marie and Joe’ sees up back in kitchen sink drama territory, but who can complain about those rises and falls? The instant, up and at ‘em feel of ‘In Camera’ should perhaps have been the opening track, Richard’s slap-down delivery and Urban Blitz’s violin screeches shaking the listener by the neck, then soaring into a glorious, rising Olympian riff that couldn’t have been bettered by any of the rag-tag of rival bands of that mid-seventies period.

If ‘Doctors of Madness’ galloping riff doesn’t get you up, I suspect you may be clinically dead. ‘Out’ appears to have received the same injection untrammeledled excitement that the previous track’s early demo did, and represents a winning closer to an assured second LP. Extended further by ‘Frustration’s standard punk with added sheen, ‘I Make Plans’ sounds more final than the demo it is credited to be, and could easily have worked as a contrasting track on the original LP. ‘Triple Vision’s demo shows the Doctors could also be a little behind the times, and throw in a truly comical rhyme into the midst of a promising delivery.

‘Sons of Survival’ would prove to be the Doctors’ final LP, and perhaps their best, as they found themselves in an increasingly hostile musical world. ‘50’s Kids’ starts off in familiar violin-torturing style, quickly leaping into a punky riff and sneering delivery of rather forgettable lyrics. ‘Into The Strange’ has the Stooges-like slow crawl that was such a template for the punk generation, and the wailing violin once again sets off the song beautifully. Richard’s dry-throat, angry delivery is text book punk, and the song is easily the best on offer here. ‘No Limits’ plodding riff and mockney voice do the worried piece no favours. The single ‘Bulletin’ has the feel of a punk Fairport Convention piece, unlikely to appeal to the legion of spikies and snotties who were taking over the reins of rock by then. ‘Network’s phased guitar sound, crashing drums and bass and herald of doom vocals would work well today, and closes side 1 creditably.

Over on our imagined Side 2, title track, ‘Sons of Survival’ lays down a great, chopping riff enriched with strong guitars, while the sawing violin serves as a warning, as Richard spits out his tale of disappointment and distress. ‘Back from the Dead’ thunders along like crazy, shooting guitars and slicing violin challenging the listener to last the course. ‘Triple Vision’ reappears, fully infused with bile and energy, barely recognisable from its own, folky demo. ‘Kiss Goodbye Tomorrow’ returns us to the kind of romantic melancholy the Doctors obviously still thought had some mileage left in it. Our original closer, ‘Cool’ (live in the Satin Subway) is standard gob along punk, riding on a hell for leather violin screech, enriched with ‘Oi’s from the audience. Added bonuses include ‘Don’t Panic England’, recorded with short-lived member Dave Vanian, whose distinctive voice adds a little, but not enough to matter. The William Burroughs intro tape to the last Doctors of Madness gig (Camden’s Music Machine 26/10/1978) is atmospheric enough, and their version of ‘Trouble’ from this momentous occasion is an appropriately fuzzy, nasty and nothing to lose treatment that would pass muster today. ‘Making Machines’ robotic beat and wailing guitars is another highlight from this epitaph concert, the desperate vocals provided by TV Smith. Finally, ‘Who Cries For Me? a lament with a lullaby-like delivery, is a good place to leave this particular party.

The Doctors of Madness had a lot going for them; great musicianship, imaginative lyrics, grandiose backing and a striking image that set them apart from the rest of the late-period prog rockers they initially shared airspace with. What they didn’t have was luck. They were the missing strand of DNA between glam and punk, with the latter’s more mutant strain of bands quickly grabbing all the attention that should have been theirs. Too weird for the jaded musical conservatism that prog was turning into and too melodic and disciplined for the young punks who viewed everyone older than themselves with suspicion. Initially playing to their strengths and then adjusting to the prevailing mood, the Doctors of Madness imploded before they got the fair hearing they deserved. They’re back on tour this month, so you can decide for yourself.

BUY YOUR COPY HERE!

Scenester
8/5/17

Scenester

Scenester lives in London and Brighton, as time allows. Enjoys music, film, television, books, design and anything else which won’t leave well alone. Old enough to know better.

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May 8, 2017 By : Category : Articles Eyeplugs Music Psychedelic Reviews Tags:,
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