It Suits Me Well – Dave Swarbrick

It Suits Me Well: Dave Swarbrick The Transatlantic Recordings 1976-1983 (Cherry Tree CRTREE017D)

Cherry Red’s value pack of four LPs by the late, great Dave Swarbrick, shoehorned onto two CDs, takes in his masterly recordings from the mid-seventies to the early eighties, and is sure to delight all folkies and fiddlers.

Taken from that ‘difficult’ period when punk ‘n’ funk ‘n’ electronic noodling were cutting a bloody swathe through the music industry, the folkie’s stock was as low as it could possibly get. The music industry’s money men may have underestimated Dave and his folk rebel brothers, however. Dave soldiered on with his fiddle and became a legend in music, a status which seems to have eluded the synth poppers and funkateers of this period.

The simply titled ‘Swarbrick’ opens, with the winding speed ride of ‘The Heilanman/Drowsey Maggie’, suddenly coming to a halt and into ‘Carthy’s March’, and if a violin could smile, it surely did here, in this jolly tune. ‘The White Cockade/Doc Boyd’s Jig/Durham Rangers’ once again shows off that mastery over the bow Dave had in spades, in a seamless medley of tunes that surely threaten to provoke a dance.

‘My Singing Bird’s sweet harp accompaniment beautifully sets off the plaintive fiddle figure, contrasting with the full speed wynd of ‘The Nightingale’. ‘Once I Loved a Maiden Fair’ practically takes the listener back to some Arcadian past, with its gentle picking and interplay with guitar. A trip across the Irish Sea is called for in ‘The Killarney Boys of Pleasure’, a typically winding, interweaving piece of Celtic whimsy.

‘Lady in the Boat/Roisin the Bow/Timor the Tartar’s jolly jig has you reaching for a flagon of ale as your feet start to feel itchy. ‘Byker Hill’, a little more pedestrian, still has life to it, and ‘The Ace and Deuce of Pipering’s apparently simple back-and-forth figure is a delight. ‘Hole in the Wall’s melancholic, even courtly styling provides a contrast to the manic bowing of the LP, neatly turning around with a harsh, contrasting note. ‘Ben Dorian’s sad fiddle bowing, playing over sweet picking, is simply beautiful, but no sooner spun, than the lively ‘Hullichans/Chorus Jig’ bursts in, gleefully disturbing the peace. ‘The 79ths Farewell to Gibraltar’ is appropriately upbeat and hearty, while ‘Arthur McBride/ Snug In The Blanket’ is a simple jig for a cold winter’s night.

‘Swarbrick 2’ opens up with the insistent, jumpy ‘The Athole Highlanders’, and sticking with the Celtic theme, ‘Shannon Bells/Fairy Dance/Miss McLeod’s Reel’, more tunes to test the legs-and stamina- of keen dancers.‘The King of the Fairies’ sawing, wistful fiddle figure leads you to who-knows-where, with ‘Chief O’Neill’s Favourite/Newcastle Hornpipe setting you back on dry land-at least temporarily.

‘Sheebeg and Sheemore’ has an easy, courtly, romantic air, perhaps in preparation for ‘The Rocky Road to Dublin/Sir Philip McHugh’s rougher and readier entertainment, a jig that reaches knuckle-breaking speed toward its end. ‘Planxty Morgan Mawgan’s gossipy, swinging tune with a hint of trickery is welcome here, and is followed by the full-on Gallic dance of ‘The Swallow’s Tail/Rakes of Kildare/Blackthorn Stick’, enlivened by zesty accordion.

‘Sheagh of Rye/The Friar’s Breeches’ is a typically ribald affair, the fiddle winding in and out of the vamping guitar. ‘Derwent Water’s Farewell/The Noble Esquire Dacre’ is the most melancholy offering here, Dave’s fiddle almost weeping its tale of longing out, but our first CD ends happily with the jolly reels of ‘Teribus/Farewell to Aberdeen’.

A packed first disc means the second disc 2 has to finish off the second LP, with the sliding reel, ‘Bonaparte’s Retreat’, followed by the rambunctious march, ‘Shepherd’s Hey’, the sweet, agreeable ‘Lord Inchiquin, and the heartfelt lament of ‘The Coulin’.

We pass on to the third LP, ‘Smiddyburn’, and its opening pair, ‘Wat ye Wha I Met the Streen/The Ribbons of the Redhead’, a slice of folk rock with the first appearance of electric guitar accompaniment on this swinging piece. ‘Sir Charles Coote/Smiths’ nimble picking will have some of us wondering if Dave had six fingers on each hand, such is the intensity of the work on this faintly nautical piece. ‘I Have a Wife of my Own/Lady Mary Haye’s Scotch Measure’s literal take and frantic bowing shows off the sort of skills that surely made Ashley Hutchings say that Dave was ‘the most influential British fiddle player bar none’.

‘Wishing/The Victor’s Return/The Gravel Walk’s reprise of the folk rock sound of Dave’s Alma Mater, Fairport Convention is more than welcome, rounded out by electric guitar and military drum. ‘When The Battle Is Over’s plaintive picked chords evoke, to a world-weary beat, the sadness and hopelessness of war. ‘Sword Dance/The Young Black Cow’ continues the folk-rock theme, Dave’s fiddle screeching out like the clashing blades of the former title, tempered by the sweet melody of the latter. ‘Sean O’Dwyer of the Glen/The Hag with the Money/Sleepy Maggie’s beautiful candlelight piano opening raises goose bumps, then into a characteristic, leaping reel. The collection’s only vocal performance is the final track, ‘It Suits Me Well’, a tale of the resignation many feel in their daily round.

‘Flittin’ opens with ‘The Bride’s March/The Kelman’s Pertition/Shew Me the Way to Wallingford/Sword Dance, the former an ironically funereal affair, contrasting with the lively ‘Pertition. ‘Parthenia/Pittengardener’s Rant’ begins with a light touch of piano and fiddle neatly complementing each other in this chamber piece, followed by the sort of rambunctious march that belongs to another world entirely. ‘Grey Daylight/The Hawk/The Ten Pound Fiddle’ brings together another finger-breaking reel and a slow march. ‘Jamaica/With All of my Heart’s courtly opening with piano accompaniment contrasts well with the rollicking tune it accompanies. ‘Nathaniel Gow’s Lament on the Occasion of the Death of his Brother/Rory of the Hills’ needs little in the way of explanation, and ‘The Rakes of Sollohad’s’ jaunty picking livens up the latter part of this LP. ‘Dr Isaac’s Maggot/Cupid’s Garden’ makes good use of piano, a braced tune with a wandering fiddle figure that resolves itself beautifully. Our closing track, ‘Boadicea’ is, by turns, dignified and comradely, a fitting closer to this masterly LP and this whole collection.

If you’re not so familiar with folk music, you’re missing out on the simple joys of tales well told and music played with a skill that borders on the devilish. Make room in your collection for this man and his many friends.




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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January 19, 2017 By : Category : Eyeplugs Folk Heroes Music Reviews Tags:, , , ,
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Jeff Monk LP Reviews October 2016

Elvis Presley

Way Down In The Jungle Room (RCA/Legacy)

This two disc compilation is comprised of a mix of tracks – original album versions and outtakes-culled from The King Of Rock’n’Roll’s 1976 outing “From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee” and the studio side of the final album recorded while he was alive, 1977’s “Moody Blue”. The obvious question fans will have is “Do I need to buy this?” and from this critics’ perspective the answer would be definitely be positive, with some warnings attached. These songs were recorded at the Memphis lair known as “Graceland” where The King was holing up on such a regular basis during these years (he died in 1977) that he thought it wise to bring the late night shenanigans, rampant prescription drug use and obsequious hangers’ on under one comfortable roof in his actual home.

The main floor den was labeled “The Jungle Room” due to its awkward use of faux fur cushions and rugs, period-cool wood paneling and endangered animal knick-knacks littering the room. The band at this time was basically The Kings’ stage band and included capable players like Ronnie Tutt, James Burton, Jerry Scheff, Tony Brown, David Briggs, Chip Young and John Wilkinson. Presley was, at this stage of his career, using his big tenor and warbled vibrato to utmost effect. This was his comfort zone and the songs he chose to sing were the kind of numbers that benefitted from this brand of heroic delivery. Tracks like “He’ll Have To Go”, “Hurt” and “She Thinks I Still Care” will have you reaching for that special moments Bic lighter to raise high and wave toward the disc player. Eventually the bold crescendo of these songs grows tiring, and it seems like Presley is a bit too comfortable in this exaggerated wheelhouse. Tracks like the disco-challenged “Moody Blue”, the country soul gem “Way Down” and the smooth “Solitaire” reconciles the vibe in a way that made Presley and his band unique.

The outtakes disc offers different versions of the songs on the first disc with scattered inclusions of Elvis’ TCB crew overheard off microphone laughing at their leaders’ inane jokes and weird commentaries about shooting both dogs and telephones that ruin recording takes.

The 24 page booklet puts some historical context into the mix and details session dates, songwriters and track participants well enough to add some meat to the bone as it were. Shortly after these recordings Presley’s health took it’s final nosedive and he fell from the throne to the floor. Too bad, as the best tracks here reveal an artist that had some kind of grasp of what he could sing well and not be completely embarrassed by the results.

(16 tracks CD1/17 tracks CD2)

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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October 20, 2016 By : Category : Cult Front page Heroes Music Reviews Tags:, ,
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Eyeplug talks to Freddie Valentine

01 Some folks may remember you from the golden daze of the Paisley Wheelchair Experience?

Yes, they were quite heady times and it could be a nightmare running a band that sometimes consisted of 15 people! Least of all getting them all in one place or indeed finding a venue that had a stage big enough to house us. We played a LOT of gigs in diverse and strange places including music venues, comedy clubs, art deco theatres and between the mediums at a psychic fayre! It was a fun time and thankfully the jovial events outweighed the stressful ones.

02 Tell us how PWE happened and why you were not detained in suitable secure units at the time?

It was a strange project that grew from humble beginnings. I had tried to get various bands together before that but in the area I lived it seemed that every local musician was into heavy metal, stuff like Metallica, and I’ve never been into that. I did try and put together some bands with these people and force music hall and psychedelic sensibilities upon them but they seemed to think every song should have that stuttured DUH-DA-DUM riff that those kind of groups are so fond of. I even tried to get them to do a version of Seasons In The Sun which just sounded like some godawful death metal dirge but with decent lyrics so I decided to do it all myself and recorded some songs on my home 4-track with a friend of mine called Garrie Baker. They generally contained a lot of in-jokes as we used to attend a spiritualist church and met some eccentric characters and we would put their quotes into song form. For some weird reason a few people liked it and we were offered a gig. We had never played live before but I met a chap called David Mitchell whose band was due to perform at a local music festival but they had left him high and dry so we were offered the slot. As I got on with him I asked him to join us and do a few of his songs too which worked well so we started writing and recording together. Garrie left and we got in a chap called Bart who couldn’t play a note but was funny. He was our ‘keyboard player’. Basically I used to program the songs into the keyboard before the gig and he pressed the appropriate button to start it. We got a reputation for songs like ‘Touched By The Hand of David Icke’ and “Knobby The Tramp” (about a local and much-loved vagrant) and headlined at venues such as the legendary Old Trout in Windsor and flogged quite a few C90 cassettes of home recorded nonsense of varying musical quality. We also caused two mini riots and are banned from a pub in Aylesbury for life! The band developed and became a six piece after we found a manager who seemed to think we might play by the rules and we organised two local music festivals which managed to raise enough money to buy a couple of minibuses for a local centre for disabled people. We also released a 7″ EP called “Sex, Drugs and Frank Bough” which has appeared on eBay and sold for more money than we made off the original release!

After traipsing around the music venues of te south, the band kind of fell apart, so I rebuilt it with a solid plan in place. Around the indie friendly Old Trout, I received a lot of ridicule for openly being into The Carpenters, Mrs Mills, Max Bygraves and 70s easy listening music. This was an era where the done thing was to be into stuff like Ned’s Atomic Dustbin and aspire to be a new age traveller. Being into the yodelling exotica of Frank Ifield was sorely frowned upon. The new Paisleys got bigger and bigger until we had percussionists, a brass section, backing singers and the whole shebang. It was around this time that our song “The Return of Jason King”, came to the attention of the Peter Wyngarde Appreciation Society and of Peter himself. It was released as a limited edition CD through the society with every copied numbered and signed by the man himself. Peter himself owns number 001 and again, it has turned up eBay but I feel the silly amount it went for is more for the autograph of the man who was Jason King rather than the funsome tunes themselves. We latter added an adult size Bubbles the Chimp to the show played by my good friend Barry Maher. More of him later! The band exploded in 2004 and after years of being a parent figure resolving dramas, dealing with tantrums and reassuring people I’d had enough.

03 Before PWE what were you doing and why?

I had a Casio Anarchist band called The Pantwashers and also satantic surrealists called The Neighbourhood Threat. Neither did any gigs and were essentially recording projects we would give to our friends on cassette to see if they were as amused as us.

04 Rolling along to 1996 you develop some of your first Entertainment projects describe that period and process please?

We wanted to put on our own show and I was very much inspired by the music hall and 1970s variety shows. I wanted to put on something that had that element of surprise which was sorely lacking. I found the 90s to be a boring decade where everything became generic, band night, comedy night etc, whole evenings of the same thing. I wanted novelty acts like breakdancing chimps.

05 You developed Cabaret 2000, then The Pina Colada Variety Club which saw us stumble into the 21st Century?

They were both fun shows to do. The band played the part of the “house” act and we would introduce an array of turns who would often join us for a song or two at the end. There’s some footage of these shows somewhere. My favourite guests were the incredibly superb Lenny Beige, one of the best entertainers ever. Steve Furst who plays Lenny is one of the nicest chaps in showbiz and wildly talented. The other act I adored working with was Frank Sidebottom who is a legend. I’d known Chris since the 80s when he was in a band called The Freshies and I called him when we did our first show in Charing Cross Road and asked if he’d like to perform. He was very keen and I was over the moon. He was a joy to work with and incredibly disorganised in and endearing way. He missed his coach on the day and rang me asking if we could pay his train fare down. Of course we did, it’s Frank Sidebottom! On arrival his keyboard wasn’t working so our trombone player, Duncan, popped over the road and got his some batteries and it just about worked. During his set, whilst performing a version of ‘I Should Be So Lucky’ in his inimitable style, the keyboard conked out so he threw it across the stage and booted Little Frank’s head into the audience as if it were a football and carried on regardless. He delivers an amazing show and duetted with me and the band with a version of The Candy Man. One of the best moments of my life! Our roadie, Jerry, has the Little Frank head from this show!

06 You then reveal the The Freddie Valentine Variety Show which had a nice warm run?

We ran this show at the Battersea Barge and then a venue called The Inn On The Green in Ladbroke Grove. We had more structure to this show and had slots for comedians, burlesque acts, magicians etc just like you would see in a 70s tv variety show. This was the time that I was performing the outrageous musical comedy act with Barry Maher and much of the content in these shows derived from that. For the Inn On The Green shows we had The Silhouettes and The Adventures of Parsley as our house/backing band. We partially did our own shows because we were outcasts on the traditional comedy circuit. Much of that scene is derivative with many acts being interchangeable. We used to shock and offend a lot of people with our Benny Hill/Stanley Baxter antics which was a world away from the Bill Hicks wannabes and wry tales about themselves. On our own show we could do what we want, which is a dangerous thing when it’s given to people like myself and Barry Maher who liked to see what we could get away with. I remember a burlesque promoter saying to me that there wasn’t many male burlesque acts and would I consider doing one for a laugh. Now, my “for a laugh” is a lot different to most people’s and we devised a burlesque act which was designed to see what reaction it would get. Barry would perform it in our show with his wife, Pauline – great friend of ours, singing ‘Murder On The Dancefloor’. Barry provided some funky moves with a beard, Afro and Ill-fitting 1970s suit as ‘Peter Sutcliffe – The Yorkshire Stripper’ which managed to achieve the 50/50 ratio of laughter and revulsion. Job done!

07 What types themes do you embrace within your music, art, comedy and performance?

What I do is non-political and I never try and make any social point. Silliness and surrealism are lacking these days and I often do things to amuse myself or produce the sort I things I would enjoy watching or listening to. If other people like it then it’s a bonus but I could never do anything just for the money or if my heart isn’t it. I remember going to a lot of cabaret shows in the 70s and they always left you with a glowing feeling of escapism and upliftment. That’s what I’m aiming for.

08 There is a healthy interest in the darker side of life?

I’ve always been interested in things like ghosts and witchcraft. I co present a podcast called The Mystic Menagerie which focuses on some spooky subjects. On one show, we had occult author S Rob conduct a live summoning of shadow people which I think is a first and we’ve had supernatural chats with guests such as Reece Shearsmith and Right Said Fred. Doing this along with the cabaret keeps my ying and yang in check.

09 You are a keen Tarot Reader and arrange ghost walks and even Seances, isn’t that rather dangerous?

We take precautions and everything is done safely though people can become very scared so we warn they attend at their own risk! We have had some hair raising things happen on these nights including a daylight apparition on the ghost walk! I also exhibit a museum of oddities including a shrunken head and a Victorian vampire hunting kit which has been featured on Japanese TV and in Fate & Fortune magazine (Take A Break’s paranormal spin off).

10 Tell us out here in bland-land all about The Karnival of Kitsch and why we should all be there in support?

The Karnival of Kitsch is show Holly and I run a few times a year at the Vauxhall Tavern. It’s like the Donny & Marie show with yodelling. We book acts that we personally like and try it make it as escapist as possible. It’s a spangly, retro night out which is completely without irony. Someone described it as being like Butlins ballroom in 1976. Though I’d say it’s a bit Pontins in its heyday! We’ve had some great acts on – Lenny Beige, Lorraine Bowen, Phillip Jeays – and love doing it. We also put on shows at the RVT’s fringe. The first was a musical chat show and we interviewed Jonathan Kydd from Pipkins abs the lovely Francoise Pascal from Mind Your Language. We’ve also put on Disney and Bacharach & David themed shows but inexplicably our James Bond cabaret night – From Vauxhall With Love – was the most successful!

11 How does Holly re-act to your traditional Yodelling skills? Does she partake also?

Holly is a very fine jazz singer and doesn’t share my passion for alpine expression. My nan was friends with the legendary 1960s singer, Frank Ifield, and her spare room had a plaque on the wall saying “Frank Ifield stayed here”. Which he did! When he came to the uk she put him up. That’s where I think the yodelling obsession stemmed from.

12 Tell us about your LP from 2004, can folks still but a copy?

It was called “An Intimate Evening With” and was the catalyst for my most outrageous shows so far. The band split in 2004 with a lot of drama going on but I was still very friendly with the sax player, Henry Crud who a multi instrumentalist. He asked me if I wanted to do an album with him and I came up with some lyrical ideas and he wrote music to match. They were cheesy, poppy songs with offensive lyrics. We recorded loads around that time, much of which never saw the light of day including a five volume project of comedy characters talking over odd music called ‘Jazz Juice’. Barry Chester, who you may recall played Bubbles the Chimp in the PWE, loved the album and said we should do it live with him playing the characters in the songs so Henry prepared backing tracks and off we went to comedy clubs to shock and repulse politically correct folk on a night out.

Two songs that caused the strongest reaction (both with laughter and shock) were Sheila and our tribute to Gilbert & George. Sheila was a love song about a young man who is in love with an octogenarian and we tried to find as many things that rhymed with Sheila such as ‘she was no wheeler dealer/ looked better than Christine Keeler/She stole my potato peeler/ but that’s fine’. For the live version, Barry played a randy old lady that was reminiscent of Les Dawson and Monty Python’s drag characters and as the song started, Sheila would walk through the back of the audience and start dusting tables as if she was a cleaner and would subtly flirt with men seated there and get raunchier until it was a personal space invading lap dance. As we liked to throw in the unexpected, Sheila had a few trump cards. Pauline had a fake… ahem… lady’s part, the type that is used by transvestites and looks incredibly realistic. The audience were astonished when Sheila removed her knickers as this was not they expected. For the finale, Sheila had finally made it to the stage and pretends to fellate me whilst I’m singing. Barry would conceal one of those small sachets of mayonnaise that you get in chip shops, in his hand and smear it over his face. The song ended with him turning to face to the audience which got quite a reaction!

Gilbert & George are amongst my favourite artists and they’re known for using bodily fluids (and solids) in their work and the song was about going to visit them at home and, despite them being in the middle of one of their more extreme pieces of art, serve up a nice cup of tea. The live version actually made a man vomit. Barry would play an amalgamation of both Gilbert and George and the stage would be set up with an easel and Pauline posing on a stool as a nude model. Barry would then produce a fake phallus from his trousers filled with Apple Tango (it looks the most like urine) and pretend to pee in a tea cup which he offered to the audience who always refused so he drank it himself. By now, you’re getting the drift that this is American style “gross out” humour mixed with good old British lavatorial japes. Barry would then pull down his trousers and pants and pretend to defecate into a babies potty which was filled with chocolate angel delight. He’d try a bit, nod in approval and then again offer it to the audience. This is all happening whilst I’m singing a three minute song. Barry would then get a brush and do a “poo painting” which was handed to a lucky audience member at the songs conclusion.

One gig was a party at an art gallery and there was no stage as such so we used a bucket rather than a potty which was filled with the ever faithful Apple tango and some Picnic bars which, after extensive research, turned out to be the most realistic when trying to portray freshly produced human excitement. When Barry showed an audience member the bucket, after eating one of the Picnic bars, this chap too one look into, went pale and vomited and then screamed ‘these weirdos are using real shit!!!’.

13 You have found a spiritual cave in the Vauxhall Tavern somewhat? What other Venues do you love and hate?

The RVT is a wonderful place. Very rarely do you find somewhere that is focused on the arts rather than selling drinks. The people that run it and work there are very helpful and lovely people and it has a vibe unlike anywhere else. I used to enjoy playing at Madame Jojos when it was still active. I have played some awful places which is usually the fault of those running it rather than the building itself.

14 What are your thoughts on the modern Comedy circuit and Industry?

I find it incredibly dull and little interests me these days. Rather than it being a hotbed or creativity, it’s become a standard career option filled with people who have been on comedy courses and have the same delivery. There are no Mavericks as people don’t want to offend, want to make some kind of point or political statement and see it all as a career move. It’s all become very cliched and there’s little room for lunatics. Not many are prepared to make a fool of themselves and think they’re rock stars.

15 Who are your heroes and zeroes?

Music: my taste is very diverse and I tend to like most stuff but a few heroes are Frank Zappa, Adam Ant, Frank Ifield, Mrs Mills, Brian Wilson, Sparks, Bowie, Queen, The Cheeky Girls, Scott Walker. I also love yodelling music, pop reggae and 1970s library music. And a lot more besides. My zeroes are the insipid people producing music with no imagination or artistry of whom there are too many to mention these days.

Actors: my favourite actor of all time is Charles Hawtrey. I can’t stand the modern Hollywood ‘mumbling or shouting’ types.

Comedy: my comedic heroes are Benny Hill, Stanley Baxter, Kenneth Williams and the Two Ronnies. I detest Noel Fielding,Mrs Brown’s Boys, Russell Brand and studenty types who harp on about politics.

16 What have you got planned for 2016 and beyond?

I’m planning more Karnival of Kitsch shows, podcasts and paranormal events and there is something planned for 2017 which i can’t reveal too much about at the moment but will be amazing if we can get the funding!

17 What have been the challenges and triumps over the years of tireless creativity and craft?

It’s hard being a square peg in a round hole and if you do something completely different it’s hard to get people to understand it at first. Not the audience, people in the industry. You have to decide – shall I do something bland and unmemorable and treat it as a job or something true to myself and struggle?

18 Who do you rate in the current Entertainment world?

A few great entertainers of today: Bob Downe, Simon Day, Citizen Khan, Reece Shearsmith. Lenny Beige, Steve Coogan, and The Lovely Eggs.

19 Who would you most like to work with?

I’d love to write a progressive-surf opera with Brian Wilson.

20 With your Retro influences, do ‘generation text’ sorta get it?

They don’t get some of the references but find the look and my dance moves funny. It think they’re used to overly serious comedy and having been exposed to silliness or someone who’s prepared to make a complete buffoon of themselves. When I was younger I used to win disco dancing competitions. I learnt all my moves from an LP which had a fold out floor mat showing you where to put your feet. It was called something like ‘Dance Like John Travolta’. I later went to disco dancing lessons and the teacher was a medallion man much like the Kirk St Moritz character from the sitcom ‘Dear John’. His sage like advice was ‘if you want the ladies to look at you, you can move your arms as much as you like but you MUST keep them below your shoulders. If your hands go above your shoulders then you’re suddenly Marc Almond.’ It’s advice that’s served me well.


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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February 17, 2016 By : Category : Cult Culture Eyeplugs Front page Humour Interviews Kitsch Music Tags:, ,
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Event – The John Steed Ball

Count Indigo is a versatile pop singer, performer lyricist and compere of surprising vocal and aesthetic range. His music encompasses smooth baritone soul grooves, dark falsetto dance rhythms and exhilarating orchestral arrangements. The uniqueness of his approach to music – making comes out of combining mature themes of joy and betrayal and with a beguiling soulful accessibility. A decade of acclaimed nightclub & festival performances all over Europe and honed an intimate, humorous showmanship personified in his album, Homme Fatale.

He also is a well known Events designer, host and promoter, we spoke to him recently about his John Steed Ball Event.

01. Please tell us how your Year has been so far?

I really enjoyed performing on NYE at Vintage at Southbank. Its my third year there running and the balcony view to the Thames firework display is a fabulous way to see in the New Year. 2016 will be very exciting for Count Indigo!

02. Tell us about your current outlook with Song Creation and Writing?

I wake up with morning sickness these days! I have so many new songs written during 2015 ready to go! Impossible Dream and Bruton Street will certainly make people sit up and take notice in 2016!

03. The John Steed Ball… what’s the big idea here then?

The Avengers duality of conservatism and subversion has been an inspiration to me and millions of others. When Patrick Macnee died last Summer I just felt it would be great to mark his passing with a dinner-discotheque extravaganza that would celebrate his continuing international cultural impact. He’s the most famous British adventurer after James Bond and Sherlock Holmes. And definitely the one who’d be the best company!

04. What Entertainment can we expect to frame this very special evening?

There is a fantastic three course dinner a la carte. They’ll also be performances from yours truly, Catsuit-A-G0-G0! and The Jet Set International.

05. What is the setting and Venue like?

It’s all in the penthouse lounge bar and restaurant of Eight Club Moorgate. It’s the usual venue for my club Mrs Peels with the addition of an international standard restaurant and the usual heated balcony views across the City of London. All in all, pretty spectacular.

06. Do you have any special guests planned?

The highlight will be musical performances and speeches from Avengers co-stars Peter Wyngarde, Aimi Macdonald and Fenella Fielding. They’ll also being doing a lively Q & A session with the dinner guests.

07. What is the John Steed Ball in aid of?

The beneficiaries will be Patrick Macnee’s favoured charity The Actors Fund who look after those in need throughout the entertainment business and Medicinema who organise film screenings for patients in UK hospitals.

08. Would you say this is a good place for Local Businesses to network and hob-nob?

Eight Club is actually a private club for business people so its built for hob-nobbing! 5*Hotel levels of service and comfort in a lounge nightclub setting. Luxurious armchairs combined with a pulsating dancefloor – come along and join us for something special and unique!

09. What is the Soundtrack & Themes for the dancefloor and tell us about the special guest DJs?

The varied musical template is 60s international Jet Set sounds. Music to transport you to a glam dancefloor in St Tropez , Macao or Rio with a vibrant Swinging London beat. All set to a groovy soundtrack from the brilliant DJ Martin Green. A man with over a dozen extraordinary compilations of incredible pop, soundtracks and library music.

10. Where can folks buy their Tickets from?

Early bird tickets from £40 – £140 are now available here: GET TICKETS HERE

11. I hear that you have a rather clever Contest wherein folks can win a nice Prize? Is that ready to enter?

Yes, winners get free entry to the night and runners=up modernist art prints of The Avengers stars. ENTER THE CONTEST HERE

12. What did John Steed, Mrs Peel and The Avengers mean to you and why did it leave such a lasting Impression?

Its the combination of the surreal and the everyday that does it for me. Rodney Marshall who is making the keynote dinner speech describes it simply as the joy of Subversive Champagne. A combination of cool, ironic derring-do and with a gender equality that was incredibly progressive for 50 years ago! The smart dialogue, martial arts, kinkiness and catsuits might help too!

13. Do you think many programmes in Modern Media compare in any way?

There’s a very direct line to say Buffy The Vampire and even David Lynch. Whilst in the U.K. the knowing re-inventions of Doctor Who and Sherlock definitely owe The Avengers a lot.

14. What have you in mind for Count Indigo in 2016?

To release my excellent new music. Take Mrs Peels Club from strength to strength. Perform with Count Indigo Revue.

15. Can you tell us a post-festive Joke please?

What do you call a man who claps at Christmas? Santapplause! I’m opening a Gym for 2016 recreating Victorian techniques for dispatching ruffians with a walking stick. It will turn into Cocktail Yacht Club by the Spring!


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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January 4, 2016 By : Category : Culture Events Eyeplugs Interviews Nightlife Picks Vintage Tags:, , , , ,
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Casino Classics – Longjohn Reviews

Casino Classics – Complete Collection Album review

Cherry Red Records have seen fit to extend their musical family to incorporate a new label that is devoted exclusively to the release of Northern and Rare Soul. The newly created Soul Time has launched their new venture with the release of Casino Classics – The Complete Collection. This 3CD box set comprises everything ever released by Wigan Casino founder Russ Winstanley and club manager Mike Walker on the Casino Classics label.

The box set comprises the 3 best selling Casino Classics albums in chronological order plus a number of bonus tracks, which include all the singles spread across 3 CDs. Included in this box set is a 32-page booklet with a foreword by Russ Winstanley. The liner notes are impressive and they help to make the music come alive, as they are detailed and concise and provide the listener with important background information on the artists and their recordings.

The Casino Classics label was launched in 1978 to coincide with the enormous success of the Wigan Casino club and to reissue popular Northern Soul gems to a devoted following. The story regarding England’s fascination with Afro American music is long and has been told and debated as some might argue to the point of exhaustion. However, the British public absolutely adored this up-tempo, brass driven, string-laden music with passionate vocals of heartache, love and loss, and the Northern Soul scene is still thriving well into the 21st century.

The Casino Classics label’s three-year existence saw the release of a string of 45rpms and 2 albums with the third album being released posthumously after the closure of the Wigan Casino in 1981. The first thing that will strike the listener especially those familiar with Northern Soul is the absolute lack of snobbery in terms of songs chosen for the albums. The set comprises a combination of Northern and Modern Soul with the latter much more prevalent on discs two and three. The compilations are a curious mix of obscure songs with big selling hits and far away misses.

With hindsight this open minded music policy is to be applauded as the Northern scene in more recent years has succumbed to churlish elitism, by puritanical DJs and collectors, who will sneer at those whose own tastes in music are not obscure and exclusive enough to be allowed into the clique. This must seem baffling to outsiders considering that without exception all of these artists wanted to be popular and wanted their music to be heard by as many people as possible. However, for many reasons including lack of commercial appeal these artists were ignored in the 1960s, but here in the U.K these records were devoured by music obsessed working class English with the apogee of Northern Soul popularity arguably reaching its peak in the mid 1970s.

The selections on this box set may not appeal to everyone but compilations play a vital role in introducing the uninitiated to new types of music. However, there is a playful nature to some of the selections on these albums, for example, the inclusion of a cover version of the Doris Troy Classis “I’ll do anything’’ by Lenny Gamble (AKA Tony Blackburn) is somewhat baffling considering that Doris Troy’s version is vastly superior. However, there is an amusing story behind the discovery of this record. Long-term soul fanatic, legendary DJ and head of A&R at Ace Records Ady Croasdell discovered this song not long after it’s 1969 release and subsequently cut an acetate, which he covered with a white label and sent to Wigan Casino DJ Keith Marshall, who then proceeded to play it to unsuspecting club goers.

The Ron Grainer Orchestra also appear on chapter one and the inclusion of a “a touch of velvet’’ & “Joe 90’’ seems rather odd with hindsight. Grainer was a composer of film and television scores and was arguably without equal in this department. His iconic theme tunes include Steptoe and Son, The Prisoner, Doctor Who and Tales of the Unexpected. However, a soul icon he is not but you have to admire Russ Winstanley for including these tracks, as it is unlikely that these tunes will grace many Northern Soul compilations these days. However, one has to question the inclusion of Mods 79 who recorded ‘’Green Onions’’ and ‘‘high on your love’’. For some the ‘Mod Revival’ that occurred on the back of The Jam’s success in 1979 spawned a barrage of sometimes turgid identikit groups that used corny band names and eschewed Mod imagery and are probably best forgotten in the main.

This compilation has several classics on it that are so well known that they hardly need any introduction here. However, Gloria Jones, “tainted love’’ (1965) (covered by Soft Cell), The Ramsey Lewis Trio, “Wade in the water’’ (1966) and the finger clicking soul of The Tams, “Hey girl don’t bother me’’ (1964) are simply great tunes and should not be ignored. It would be fair to say that very few Northern or Rare Soul DJs would even touch these records now because of their mainstream popularity, and let it be said that casual listeners should never let a soul elitist spoil your listening pleasure.

Some other absolutely great songs grace this compilation, including a pair of gems recorded by London born Lorraine Silver in 1965. “Lost summer love’’ and ‘‘I know that you’ll be there’’ were recorded by Silver at the tender age of 13 and her assured and mature delivery makes these songs even more remarkable. Reparata and the Delrons were an American girl group in the 1960s, and although they did not quite attain the commercial success of The Ronettes and the Shangri-Las, they did record a number of great singles including “panic’’ in 1968. Even more impressive is that this particular song was a B-side and it is no surprise that this song with its insistent shuffling beat was so popular on the Northern Soul scene in the 1970s. More recently the song was recorded by those jingle jangle sunshine pop maestros The Primitives for their 2012 album “Echoes and Rhymes’’.

Jackie Trent has a pair of songs on this compilation, including “Send her away” and a stupendous cover of The Ronettes classic “You Baby’’, which were both recorded in 1966. Jackie Trent died in March of this year and along with her husband Tony Hatch wrote songs for Shirley Bassey and Petula Clark in the 1960s. Other highlights include the Just Brothers, “Sliced Tomatoes’’ (1965), (which was heavily sampled by Fat Boy Slim for his 1998 hit single ‘“Rockafeller Skank’’), Jimmy Radcliffe’s evergreen classic “Long after tonight is all over” (1965) and The toys’ “A lover’s concerto’’ (1965).

Without being accused of favourtism a special mention should go to The Flirtations. They released a string of great singles for Deram in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They became stars on the Northern Soul scene in the U.K but success largely evaded them in their native U.S.A. It could be argued that they were not distinctive enough and were just another 1960s girl group that had the talent but just not the right material to make them stand out. This observation may be slightly unjust because their best-known release ‘’nothing but a heartache’’ has been a classic on the Northern Soul scene for years. They also then recorded the Holland, Dozier, Holland penned “Little Darling (I need you)” in 1972, and sadly it never was to be the hit that it perhaps should have been. Luckily Russ Winstaley re-issued it in 1978 for avid Wigan Casino club goers and it is also included on this extensive compilation.

This box set will probably not appeal to rabid rare souls fans as everything on this compilation will already be in their collections or dismissed because they are now too popular for their exclusive tastes. However, this compilation is a great introduction for a relative beginner, and without sounding biased the only possible argument one can make against the song selections is that it is rather a little light on classic 1960s soul. Whether your preference is for Northern or Modern Soul or even both this box set will serve a newcomer well, and let the voyage of discovery into rare soul begin in earnest.


Long John

Charming Chap and a new sharp force for Eyeplug, being a toppermost writer with a keen appreciation for things of quality and distinction. A well known face on the London ‘Mod’ Scene but with an open mind and heart. Got a strange interest in Pirates? One to watch out for!

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September 29, 2015 By : Category : Cult Eyeplugs Front page Reviews Soul Tags:, , ,
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The Incredibly Strange Music Box: LP Review

The Incredibly Strange Music Box: 60 Songs from The Cramps’ Crazy Collection (Righteous Psalm 23 85D)


Anyone picking up this monster compilation has probably already guessed that legendary schlock horror rockers The Cramps didn’t get their chops from listening to Eagles LPs. Come to think of it, they probably didn’t learn their licks here either, but the inspiration behind their scuzzy 60’s rock ‘n’ roll formula lurks in the bit stream of this double CD.

First up, one of the more familiar names of Rock n Roll history, Mickey & Sylvia treat us to their jittery, battle of the sexes washboard shuffle, ‘No Good Lover’. The Collins Kids’ innocent-sounding name leads us into a false sense of security, ready for their licentious ‘Whistlebait’, with a strangulated boy (or is it a girl?) vocal. Skip Manning’s basic Elvis grunt is enriched with fine distorted guitar on ‘Ham ‘n‘ Eggs’, a slightly comical take on the ‘We go together like…’ simile beloved of songwriters.

Smokey Joe’s Fats Waller-like croak provides a suitable voice for the crazy jungle rhythm of   ‘Signifying Monkey’, a ditty that’s less than the sum of its parts, although easily the best song title here. In our more sensitive age, we would probably baulk at ‘Stutterin’ Cindy’s mockery, but it’s easy to guess why Lux Interior would have liked this Charlie Feathers song.  The familiar scrape of plectrum on steel guitar string signals the appearance of the great Bo Diddley, in a steady rocker, ‘Congo’, with a heady infusion of exotic jungle atmosphere.

The hurtling comedy of The Aladdins’ harmony piece, ‘Munch’ comes on like an even dumber ‘Give Me Back My Bubble-gum’, and with a crazy sax break cranking it higher. The sax is downright salacious on Joe Dodo’s ‘Groovy’,  but we get a chance to cool our heels and our ardour in Jim Backus & Friend’s ‘Delicious!’, a sort of guffawing, Stateside take on Champagne Charlie furnished with an equally bibulous female companion. Sticking with the inebriate theme, we get a fairly standard country whine, ‘Here I Am Drunk Again’, from Clyde Beavers.

Sparkle Moore’s ‘Skull and Crossbones’ has our tough gal giving her man a good ticking off, and how easy it is to imagine the young Poison Ivy Rorschach hearing this little gem and filing it away under ‘Personal Style’. Rusty Draper’s stammering vocal on the banjo-driven country stomp ‘Tongue Tied over You’ might have been a little too much for the age it was minted in, but has its moments. Charlie Ryan & The Timberline Riders’ ‘Hot Rod Guitar’ is a steady roller with nimble fretwork, but there’s not much here to elevate it above the usual fare.

The Sheiks’ ‘Baghdad Rock’ instro is an obvious Cramps favourite, with its ‘The Walk’ style beat and weird, haunting horn. The Duals’ stormy ‘Lovers Satellite’ has a crystal clear guitar solo to clean the eardrums out, and The Invaders ‘Shock Treatment’ comes on like a lost Jo Meek track, all ghostly calls over a standard surf backing. Freddie & The Hitch Hikers’ ‘Sinners’ makes good use of a not-so-heavenly chorus, in this sermon-infused chugger. It would be nothing but a low swindle to leave out ‘Tequila’, and it’s ‘The Three Suns’ take which does the honours here.

A solid hint of menace and some icy-cool guitar work in The Ventures’ ‘Green Onions’, followed by a Billy Fury-like moody vocal performance from Gary Warren, in ‘Midnight Rain’, a memory song with a whispering chorus that provides two high spots in a row on this first disc. A genuine, murmuring blues with brooding guitar, in the form of Kenyon Hopkins’ ‘Let Me Out’, takes us deftly into a crazy rocker with heavily distorted guitar and primitive lyrics in ‘Hot and Cold’ by Marvin Rainwater.

Hank and the Electras’ ‘Get Lost Baby’ is a tepid little number, in spite of its great title, but redemption is on the way with The Bikinis’ ‘Crazy Vibrations’ a rattlesnake-like sound, with tinkling piano behind and a snaky, pumping sax with deep twangy bass fattening up the beat. Those of you with a taste for low-end comedy will love Jerry Neal’s ‘I Hates Rabbits’, but we’re soon into the truly inspired ‘Twistin’ In The Jungle’, Buddy Bow’s near-horror movie soundtrack with its bonkers bongos and brass.

James and Septette’s ’‘Congo Elegy’ comes on like a perverse Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett out-take, with a mambo struggling to get out of the piece, and desperate, salacious lyrics. A standard Bill Haley-o-like beat for ‘Tarzan’ from Glen Reeves & His Rock-Billys, and to end this disc, two songs entitled ‘Voodoo Doll’. The Interiors (dig that name…) piece is an R ‘n’ B chugger and Glenda and Glen’s has an unnerving female vocal and random raindrop sound in the bass that does the job the more effectively of the two. (Heard that name before somewhere, too.)

The innocent sounding Buddy Holly-ish performance of ‘Straight Skirt’ by Gene Summers that opens the second CD belies the rather lecherous subject matter. The Ventures are in fine form in ‘Bumble Bee Twist’, picking their way precisely through a ‘Man of Mystery’ style riff. The Romans’ ‘Uh Huh’ is every bit as primitive as the title suggests a crazy piece of exotica, chugging guitars and exclaiming sax. Art Wood’s hillbilly hiccupping on ‘My Jib’ is a little too stereotypical to satisfy. The fast, jazzy rock ‘n’ roll and sax craziness of Sil Austin in ‘Fallout’ is far more pleasing to the ear.

Charlie Feathers’ ‘Wild Wild Party’ shuffle has its moments, as does Gene Simmons and the Rebels’ ‘Twixteen’, an Eddie Cochrane-a-like treatment of a tale of perilously young sexual allure. Martin Denny’s ‘Misirlou’ uses creepy woodwind and drum brushes hissing their snakeish rhythm in a very different take on the classic tune.

The Forbidden Five show us why they’re called so, with their bongos, animal noises and weird Eastern/Western rhythms in ‘RFD Rangoon’,  and continuing with the Eastern stylings, Preston Love and Orchestra serve up a tasty slice of exotica in ‘Ali Baba’s Boogie’. The Bambinos’ ‘Algiers’ is another entry in the downright disturbing category, and Marvin Rainwater’s distorted echo sounds like it was produced with some species of elastic band, on his bizarre ‘Boo Hoo’. Dick Penner’s ‘Cindy Lou’s slightly mocking guitar notes and sinister twang perfectly suit this borderline suggestive song. Skip Manning’s ‘Devil Blues’ is more big band than bottleneck, with its ‘behave or face the consequences’ message.

The Red Callender Sextet offer up more exotica in ‘Voodoo’, and Garry and Larry’s hard driven ‘Garlic Bread’ is by way of total contrast.

Moving into the Red Zone, The Blenders’ ‘Don’t F*ck Around With Love deliver the doo-wop  song sweetly, making the profanity all the more of a surprise, but The Empallos’ ‘Hi Cups’ mighty sax creep is true instro-salaciousness.  The Midnighters’ rock ‘n’ roller ‘Sexy Ways’ fully lives up to its name.

‘Gumbo’ by Shades of Rhythm has a loose, crazy feel, and The Voxpoppers ‘The Last Drag’ has a screechy-voiced treatment with the faint air of Fats Domino about it. Roland Janes’ ‘Guitarville’ has the fabulous spacey twangy bass and subtle, tapping drums of a surf classic. The Ventures’ ‘Ginchy’s faintly Neo-Classical high-note guitar workout pleases, and Spot Barnett’s loud, brash, Rock ‘n’ Blues ‘Sweetmeats’ is enlivened by a wavering sax. For my money, the standout track here is ‘Young William & The Jamaicans’ urgent, echoed ‘Limbo Drum Part 1’. Ike Turner Orchestra’s ‘Cuban Get Away’ seems a little too far removed from Ike to be all his work. Our CD selection closes with Bobby Rhines and the Rogues’ call-and-response  festival, ‘Port Zibee Part II’ and Tommy Mercer and the McBrides’ ‘Volcano Rock’, a left-field rock ‘n’ roller with enough sound effects to make even Joe Meek blush.

What’d’ya mean, you’ve got ‘em all?




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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July 20, 2015 By : Category : Cult Front page Music Picks Punk Reviews RnB Rockabilly Tags:, , ,
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Patrick Macnee – Obituary

Mrs Peel We’re Needed!

The sad passing of Patrick Macnee, the star of the legendary cult TV show The Avengers has no doubt left fans of the show in mourning. According to reports Patrick Macnee died peacefully on Thursday at his home in Rancho Mirage, California with his family by his bedside.

Patrick Macnee died at the age of 93 and was arguably most famous for his brilliant portrayal of the quintessential English eccentric secret agent John Steed in the ‘’Spy-Fi’’ television series in the 1960s. However, Macnee made over 150 appearances in television and film, which spanned across 5 decades and he also had a distinguished military career as a seaman in the Royal Navy during World War II.

Patrick Macnee became indelibly linked with the character John Steed as Macnee came across as a well-spoken, witty, and charming old school English gentlemen much like his alter ego in The Avengers. For fans of the series Macnee and John Steed were almost inseparable, and he acknowledged this in 1967 when he said in an interview that ‘’I know the part of Steed was created for me, and it was developed from my own background and personality, but I am still a long way from being typecast’’.

However, fact and fiction often get blurred in these scenarios, and need to be separated in order to get a clearer picture of Patrick Macnee’s life prior to his most famous role.  Macnee was born in London in 1922 and was raised in Berkshire by a wealthy and somewhat aristocratic family. Despite this seemingly privileged lifestyle there lay family dysfunctionality, which came in the form of his eccentric father and lesbian mother. His father Daniel Macnee trained and bred horses, but his extra-curricular activities included heavy drinking and gambling, which saw him whittle away the family fortune. The young Macnee was then raised by his newly divorced mother Dorothea Mary and her lover.  Macnee would later attend Summer Fields School in Oxford followed by a stint at Eton College, and it was at Eton that he developed a burgeoning taste for life in the performing arts.

It appeared that Macnee’s acting career took the traditional route of theatre, television and films. However, it seems that Macnee’s early foray into television did not run smoothly and he landed peripheral and unsatisfying roles in films such as Pygmalion in 1938. His role as an extra in this film set the immediate template for his acting career, which stagnated to some extent and was cut short altogether with the onset of World War II.

Macnee was enlisted into the Royal Navy in 1942 and the carnage that he witnessed in WWII, including the death of close friends prompted him to famously resist using a gun in The Avengers, despite protestations from the producers of the show. Once he completed his military service he won a scholarship to study at the Webber Douglas School of Dramatic Art. He subsequently resumed his acting career and appeared in minor roles in films such as The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943), and as young Jacob Marley in A Christmas Carol (1951), and the musical comedy Les Girls (1957).

Perhaps it was these more minor roles, which led Macnee to try his acting luck in the United States and then Canada with the Old Vic Troupe. However Macnee landed only small and somewhat inconsequential roles in television and films. When Macnee returned to the UK he landed a role as a producer on the Winston Churchill themed documentary The Valiant Years in 1960 and within a year his acting career would be relaunched in spectacular fashion when he was cast as John Steed in The Avengers.

When Macnee was cast as Steed in The Avengers in 1961 he was in a supporting role as the show initially focused on Dr David Keel played by Ian Hendry. It would be fair to say that The Avengers in 1961 bared little resemblance to what the show eventually became famous and much loved for. As a viewing spectacle these early episodes of The Avengers were plodding, staid and devoid of any sense of  real irony or subtle humour. It was the irony, innuendo and wit that characterised the series in the mid to late 1960s so splendidly. But what sent The Avengers into a whole new spear of popularity in 1962 was Macnee assuming the lead role after the departure of Ian Hendry, and pairing his alter ego Steed with a succession of assertive, independent and intelligent female assistants.

It was a stroke of genius on the part of the producers to team Steed up on an equal footing with a female, who more often than not came to his rescue when he was in trouble. The succession of actresses to assume the joint lead role included Honor Blackman, Dame Diana Rigg, and Linda Thorson. The Avengers became very popular when Steed was paired with Cathy Gale played by Blackman; however the show became a runaway success when Steed was paired with the delectable Mrs Emma Peel (Dame Diana Rigg) in 1965.

John Steed and Emma Peel became arguably one of the most identifiable and charismatic double acts ever seen on television. Both characters had chemistry between them that was magical and utterly irresistable to watch. The witty dialogue and innuendo, which was playful, light hearted and often flirtatious was part of the appeal for viewers as more often than not there was the suggestion of romance between the two characters

They were indeed a match made in television heaven as viewers were treated to fantastical story lines and surreal visuals that were stunningly brought to life when colour episodes were introduced in 1967. Macnee was also a style icon in his own right and his alter ego Steed was always impeccably dressed in Saville Row and Pierre Cardin designed 3-piece suits, beautifully tailored shirts and a cravat or tie. Part of the allure for fans of The Avengers was the stunning clothes worn by Steed and his female assistants. His immaculately tailored suits and his legendary bowler hats and umbrellas set this dandy far apart from everyone else in the sartorial stakes.

Macnee and Rigg became so famous in their roles that they must have been in danger of being type cast. It must have been almost impossible for viewers at the time to digest the news that Rigg was standing down from her role as Emma Peel in October 1967. Her final appearance in Forget-Me-Not coincided with the introduction of Steed’s latest sidekick Tara King played by Linda Thorson.

The tear jerking final episode sees Emma Peel say an emotional goodbye to Steed with the quip ‘’always keep your bowler hat on in times of stress’’, which added a comic and poignant finale to one of television’s greatest ever double acts. Emma then gets into her car with her bowler hatted husband Peter (who bears a remarkable resemblance to the on looking and bemused Steed) and glances back at Steed with a wry smile on her face, and it is this final knowing glance at Steed and then her husband, which confirms that her ideal man all along was someone who was the mirror image of Steed.

The Avengers would continue until 1969 and Linda Thorson as Tara King had the unenviable task of trying to fill the massive void left by Diana Rigg. The relationship between Steed and his new cohort was even more flirtatious, suggestive and innuendo laden than ever before, but sadly for Linda Thorson her character was a little subservient and often came across as vulnerable and silly, which undermined the character and was the antithesis of her predecessor. However, by 1969 the show ran into financial difficulty when it lost the backing from ABC in America. The producers reluctantly decided that The Avengers could not continue and the so called last ever episode Bizarre was screened in May 1969.

Macnee would eventually reprise his role as the much loved John Steed in The New Avengers in 1976, and this time he was assisted by Purdey (Joanna Lumley) and Mike Gambit (Gareth Hunt). Although the show was very popular with viewers it failed to recapture the magic and humour of the original series. Although there was chemistry between the three characters it rather felt like the show should never have been resurrected as The Avengers was a quintessentially 1960s show, and all the avant-garde ideas of the original Avengers was sadly never repeated in the latter carnation of the show, and the series came to an end in 1977 after a run of 26 episodes.

Macnee’s other significant acting roles included parts in Battlestar Galactica (1979), This is Spinal Tap (1984), A View to a Kill (1985) and Around the World in 80 Days (1989). However, Patrick Macnee will forever be remembered for his brilliant portrayal of the bowler hatted and umbrella wielding eccentric British secret agent John Steed, in one of the most influential television series ever made in the UK. The Avengers enduring popularity ultimately lay in the casting of a pair of fabulous characters in John Steed and Emma Peel. The brilliant portrayal of the eccentric, stylish, witty and lovable spy John Steed will keep the memory of Patrick Macnee alive in the hearts and minds of fans of The Avengers for many more years to come.

Long John

Charming Chap and a new sharp force for Eyeplug, being a toppermost writer with a keen appreciation for things of quality and distinction. A well known face on the London ‘Mod’ Scene but with an open mind and heart. Got a strange interest in Pirates? One to watch out for!

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June 29, 2015 By : Category : Articles Cult Culture Eyeplugs Front page Heroes Media Picks TV Tags:, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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The Only Ones (Peter Perret): Book Review by Colin Bryce

A brief Eyeplug Interview with Nina Antonia

Eyeplug: Congratulations on having the One and Only book back out again. I was wondering how many times a month you got asked where someone could get a copy of the One and Only before it finally came to being re-released?

Nina: I was getting at least two requests a month which might not sound much but people have been asking where they could get reasonably priced copies from for at least a decade. One of the issues was that ‘The One & Only’ was being sold through specialist dealers at ridiculous prices and it didn’t seem right that people were paying £50 upwards for a copy, one guy on ABE books had it listed for £190! It’s outrageous, I heard from a woman on Facebook who told me she’d been working two jobs so she could afford a copy. I love books but they really shouldn’t just be the province of the wealthy or the specialist collector.

Eyeplug: I’ve noticed a couple of very recent photos of you with Peter. He looks so much healthier than when the Only Ones got back together a few years back.

Nina: If you’ve read the last chapter of the newly revised book then you will understand why, as Peter is now totally drug free, a huge achievement after so many years. His creative energy has returned and it shows. He’s been back in the studio and there are some UK gigs lined up as well for this year. We are also going to be doing an ‘In Conversation’ as part of the Louder Than Words literary and music festival on July 15th, in the Elgar Room of the Albert Hall, after which Peter will also be performing some songs.

Eyeplug: Anything coming up you feel free to talk about?

Nina: It’s been a pretty busy year so far but one of the highlights was co-writing a song with Neal X, formerly of Sigue Sigue Sputnik. I originally met Neal via Johnny Thunders and Tony James many years ago. Neal’s got a great new band together called The Montecristos and he asked me if I’d like to help with the lyrics on one particular track, ‘Born to Rock n’ Roll’ which is the title of the album (available through Easy Action) the song has had some radio play and hopefully we’ll be doing some more stuff together. I’m also permanently on call for the proposed Johnny Thunders bio-pic based on the authorized biography ‘In Cold Blood’ which is in the pre-production phase. These things take a while – but progress is being made!!


Nina Antonia: The One and Only – Peter Perrett, Homme Fatale
(Thin Man Press)

The 2015 updated and revised version of Nina Antonia’s extraordinary The One and Only is finally here! Of all the great rock’n’roll biographies this is indeed one of the very best. It is both wonderfully written and diligently researched by Ms. Antonia. Nina’s close ties with the Perrett family, the Only Ones band themselves and various members of their camp, enables her to closely and most eloquently define the important relationships, health struggles and old-fashioned rock’n’roll debauchery of Mr. Perrett and those closest to him. Not only has Perrett spent some considerable time in the drug wilderness and crafted some of the greatest rock’n’roll that is still cherished the world over but he has been able to finally emerge from the mists and shadows of his addictions-led lifestyle. Damaged a bit to be sure, but determined to enjoy his creativity, his family and to be able to provide us fans again some memorable musical times courtesy his unique lyrical vision and sound. This fresh off the press edition features a 2015 Epilogue, a brand new interview with Peter Perrett dated February 2015, and some re-named and revised chapters.

The One and Only has been out of print for well over a decade now with used copies in high demand Thin Man Press wisely saw to get it back on the street and into the hands of the fans of the legendary Only Ones front man Peter Perrett and the Only Ones band themselves. Many thanks for that!

Antonia’s previous works include; the definitive Johnny Thunders bio In Cold Blood, Too Much Too Soon which chronicles the rise and fall of the New York Dolls, The Prettiest Star which focuses on the glam-era coulda/shoulda been artist Brett Smiley and Nina’s own thoughts and feelings during those glittering days. All of which are well worth investigating further. (ISBN-10: 0993014119)

Web Links


Nina Antonia Info



Colin -Mohair Sweets- Bryce

One of Canada’s late 70’s “punk” rock crowd and from 1997 to 2007 the fellow behind Mohair Sweets print and webzine. Currently passes the time by playing the odd gig or two, shaking his head, wringing his hands and pondering whether or not the tape vaults of the legendary Pirates are really exhausted.

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June 5, 2015 By : Category : Cult Culture Eyeplugs Front page Interviews Literature Punk Reviews Tags:, , , , , , ,
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Joe Byrd and the Field Hippies – LP Review

Joe Byrd and the Field Hippies – The American Metaphysical Circus – Album review

The American Metaphysical Circus by Joe Byrd & The Field Hippies is a Psychedelic/Experimental album, which has been re-mastered and re-released by Cherry Red Records subsidiary Esoteric Recordings.  The album was originally released in 1969 and is something of a minor cult classic, owing in part to the fact that Joe Byrd was a member of the equally experimental and influential United States of America, whose one and only long player proceeded the aforementioned album by a year.

The initial intrigue in The American Metaphysical Circus it could be argued is that it bears something of a passing resemblance to the cult classic by the United States of America.  Joe Byrd and the Field Hippies were equally as experimental as The United States of America, and for many Byrd’s work with the Field Hippies might seem a logical progression to his previous work with TUSOA.

The American Metaphysical Circus album title was also used as the song title on the opening track of TUSOA, and the album is also conspicuous by the absence of any meandering guitar solos, which were prevalent in the late 1960s. Of the 12 songs on the album only a couple of tracks have electric guitars on them, instead the classically trained Joe Boyd opted for the pioneering use of the synthesizer and a myriad of other instruments including the harpsichord, electric violin, piano, organ and the obligatory bass and drums.

However, it would be too simplistic to compare Joe Boyd’s work with TUSOA and subsequently with the Field Hippies as similarly experimental and avant-garde.  Once the listener becomes immersed in the American Metaphysical Circus they will discover a very intellectual and much more ambitious project in the form of a somewhat oblique narrative.

The American Metaphysical Circus is a conceptual piece, which is not immediately obvious on first or even a second listen. The album does not initially seem linear or thematic and there are 12 songs split unevenly into 4 suites with long and bizarre titles. The idea of collating songs into a suite may seem an unusual concept in itself, except that Jefferson Airplane pulled of a similar trick in 1967 with their After Bathing at Baxter’s album, in which they also split the songs of the album into 5 suites.

The interesting thing about The American Metaphysical Circus, however, is that it eschews the perceived notion of what constitutes Acid Rock in the late 1960s, and this as Joe Boyd suggests in the liner notes was a need to defy Rock n Roll convention and instead the album is a broad canvas and encompasses a myriad of musical styles, including Vaudeville, Rag Time, Jazz, electronic noises, and some conventional Rock n Roll.

Again this was not necessarily an avant-garde or novel idea as most of these musical influences could be heard in a slew of late 1960s Psychedelic records, which does make Joe Boyd sound like he is contradicting himself somewhat. However, what sets this album apart is that Joe Boyd was a classically trained musician, and the partial result of this was that he sought to avoid the traditional 4-piece band set up and opted instead for a loose musical collective, which included members from Jazz Rock group Blood, Sweat and Tears.

Repeated listens of The American Metaphysical Circus reveals some disturbingly dark subject matter. The liner notes help to unlock the enigma to some extent, and thankfully the lyrics to all the songs are also included, so the listener can bear closer scrutiny over the subject matter. What makes the album even more challenging as a conceptual piece is that Joe Byrd is tackling three separate issues, which makes the album less cohesive and somewhat fragmented as a result.

What does help the listener is the fact that the album is divided into suites, and three of these suites deal with LSD, politics and the ageing process.

The album opens with three tracks under the sub heading The Sub Sylvian Litanies, which apparently is about a bad acid trip. It begins with an atmospheric swirl of ambient noise courtesy of the synthesizer, and a few minutes in a disturbing mantra sung by Victoria Bond ‘waiting to die’ is repeatedly sung, which then blends seamlessly into ‘You Can’t Ever Come Down’. This song has disturbing lyrics like ‘thousands of eyes but there’s no place to hide’, which is basically about a bad acid trip and set to rock music, which is reminiscent of Jefferson Airplane.

The next suite of songs under the sub heading of American Bedmusic 1: Four Dreams for a Departing President needs no explanation at all considering the release date of this album and the political climate in America in 1969. The clues are all in the title, however, listening to the four tracks in this particular suite reveal a complex list of grievances and ironic digs at the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson including his domestic programs, which included ‘A Great Society’ for all Americans. However, this was amid growing political and public unrest at the escalating Vietnam War, which eventually led to the demise of Johnson and a fractious Democratic Party. Boyd tackled these subjects with plenty of gusto and irony and in a myriad of musical styles, including a scratchy and lo fi ragtime song titled ‘Mister 4th of July’.

The final twist in this dark saga is the plight of old folks who once they have outlived their usefulness are removed from society’s view and sent off to old people’s homes to await their death. The 4 songs under the sub heading The Southwestern Geriatrics arts and Crafts Festival is a thoroughly disturbing tale about Leisure World, which was a retirement development in California where the needs of those over 65 were taken care of in a supposedly idyllic landscape, which included a series of diarized events and activities to entertain the elderly. The full horrific tale is about a community that is supposedly living in a utopian society but really what the songs and spoken word dialogue is telling the listener is that it is dystopia disguised as utopia.

The American Metaphysical Circus is a very dark and complex piece. However, it takes repeated listens for the full narratives to reveal themselves. The reason for this is because the stories are couched in irony and the complex music and genre hopping on the album can distract from the narrative, which is at times oblique. However, this album serves as a worthy companion piece to The United States of America, and for those familiar with Joe Byrd’s first foray into Psych tinged experimentalism should definitely add The American Metaphysical Circus to their collection.

Long John

Charming Chap and a new sharp force for Eyeplug, being a toppermost writer with a keen appreciation for things of quality and distinction. A well known face on the London ‘Mod’ Scene but with an open mind and heart. Got a strange interest in Pirates? One to watch out for!

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March 17, 2015 By : Category : Cult Eyeplugs Front page Music Psychedelic Tags:, , , ,
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Vic Godard – 30 Odd Years (Part 1)

Vic Godard has been called ‘The Greatest Living Englishman’ by  6 Musics’ Marc Riley (amongst others) and this motley, angular and diverse collection of ‘30 Odd Years’ via Vic’s newish imprint GNU inc mastered by Mike Coe is a worthy collection for lovers and indeed new comers to the world of Vic Godard and Subway Sect and testifies to the sheer depth of talent and songcraft from this ‘Bard of Barnes’ and ‘Maestro of Mortlake’. This double CD covers 23 tracks from the early punk years through the multiple influences and soundscapes (some often hard to decipher) and seemingly out of step with the times in which each set of songs were born. Vic is a true original, unaffected by the more vulgar and shallow, vain, loud, brash and distorted rock ‘n’ roll trappings, always spurred on by his inspirational references of Tom Verlaine, Lou Reed, Richard Hell, The ‘Rat’ Pack and even a hint of Bowie. Vic Godard charms, entertains, makes us click our fingers and refuses to step the instep. The real English eccentric gentleman art-punk kitchen sink poet cometh and delivers a template of honest integerity of sorts for all of the indie lables, scenes, and sounds that happily followed in his wake. Credit, merit and respect due and Vic still happily does the rounds and delivers in a first class of his own mode today!


01 Intro With Paul Reekie

The intro sees a short Paul Reekie talkover which is a noble, apt and moving way to start proceedings as this Scottish poet, writer, musician and counter culture legend, left us prematurely aged only 48 in 2010. He lived on the margins and was a true classic literary outsider.

‘I fell totally into that thing Vic Godard said ‘We oppose All Rock N Roll’, Avoid all these cliches’ – Lawrence, Felt (Mojo Magazine, May 2012)
‘Whenever Godard adopted a style it became a genre and when it became a genre… he did something else’ – The Daily Telegraph, London

02 Don’t Split It

Up goes the pace and a dry, tense riff, thundering echoing drums, pivotal bass wrestle yearning vocals that warn of ‘not knowing about tomorrow’ with a bluesy harmonica and stabbing keyboards polish the claustrophobia.

03 Nobodies Scared

60s undergound legends LOVE are revisited in this riffy garagey punk fuzz force with thumping bass, dead-beat drums and snarls of ‘nobody cares and nobodies scared’, the future seems bleak!

04 Parrallel Lines

Echoing vocals with crashing cymbals, choppy guitars underpin ‘class war will never change history’ blurred lines and the fear of being lied too seem to frame the song. Simmering frustration threatens to explode.

05 Different Story (B side to Ambition 7 inch)

Vic’s vocal lines bobs and weaves through a bouncing piano phrase and already the songcraft here sees more space and texture with some pretty nifty whistling! *(my old man R.I.P was also a Postie for a while in South London and told me with a straight face that they put chemicals in emulsion paint to make you whistle).

06 Double Negative

‘The only thing I’ve got to say is Double Negative’ retorts Vic as he struggles with seeking the positives of life.

07 Vetical Integration

Acoustic strumming in the vein of The Who or the Kinks sets up a snakes and ladders of wilderness woes with a blues harp making an appearance in this toe tapper of a tune.

08 Empty Shell

Chimes and chops and interplay into empty spaces, logs on the fire of lonliness, a soulful cry not unlike a lost Velvets classic with a sensitive and wonderfully honest atmosphere with the emotion restrained but able to raise a forlorn lump in anyones throat.

09 Make Me Sad

Pretty picked guitars, charming smart bass runs, jazzy swinging licks entomb these feelings of being let down again with ‘money only being good when it’s all been spent’ with soaring harmonies, well thought out piano melodies, this really is an over-looked radio friendly classic in the making. One day future generations well learn to discover, cherish and embrace tracks like these if there is any justice. It really merits a wider audience as this is what ‘pop’ music can really achieve.

10 Stop That Girl

Are we in a French New Wave Movie? Accordians tickle a fabulous bass line that builds with smooth cool backing vocals that layer fab textures entwined into this offbeat tale of a love triangle like no other! A twist and a meander and another instant pop classic!

11 Stamp of A Vamp

Smokey 40s style swinging jazz in an effortless nod to sophistication and suave ‘rat pack’ leanings, trawling through boho, London streets with a glorious lead vocal perofrmance from the man himself and bold brass, perky piano, haughty harmonies that sit perfectly in the mix in this darkly upbeat ‘blind to reflection’ tale of romance that is not what it seems.

12 Hey What’s Your Name?

Love is a mystery, rumours abound, swinging romantic hearts are broken, tears are shed, strangers pass like ships in the fog ready to collide in a quirky jazz-bop kitchen sink frenzy.

13 Crazy Crazy

Another fine jazzy hip rave-up that make fingers pop, hips move to the brass volleys, this dancer bounces and bops and breaks into killer licks and is a real solid good time charlie of a track, well stroked drums and rolling piano motives stack up too a flapper of a frenzy!

14 Spring is Grey

Cinematic soundscape for an alternative James Bond will a Scott Walker type balad with on-the-continent easy style female backing vocals that hint at French Pop with a killer keyboard hook superb production values that never lose that loving feeling! Warm, emotive and stunning stuff!

15 Crazy Crazy

Another fine jazzy rave up that make fingers pop, hips move to the brass volleys, this dancer bounces and bops and breaks into killer licks and is a real solid good time charlie of a track, well stroked drums and rolling piano motives stack up too a flapper of a frenzy!

15 T.R.O.U.B.L.E

Troubled romance is in the air, daydreams escape to pastures anew, being kept on your toes spelt out clearly a la title! Curls of brass and vibes pinpoint the hooks with a perfect rhythm section that builds the atmosphere wherein danger lurks! Another cracker!

16 Stayin’ Outta View

Intrumental surf like twanging, brooding bass and drums with flute pops, brass loops with a lost spy TV movie theme springing to mind. Clandestine meetings in dark corners? Simply splendid! One for the DJs turntables methinks!

17 Ice On A Volcano

What’s not to like? Big band dynamics give way to a clinging to vanity and image story, of keeping up appearances, fuelled with frustration and dispair in a hot/cold world, a clever mesh of styles play out here, with a 60s swing meeting modern poptones head on with added soulful inflections, the beefy brass swells add an off-kilter angular cherry on the cake! Toppermost!

18 Malicious Love

A spikey end of romance snarl with a twisted backdrop, posike anger darting into the menacing throbbing rolling bass yet with a craftily blended Northern Soul type uplift, metrocentric hisses through slightly grinding teeth set this stomp heading to the dark river’s edge.

19 Same Mistakes

The Piano shuffles inside a few Country slides into circular matra of repetition and dismay at being stuck in the endless rut! Steep learning curves unleash deep drifting backing vocals that hide the breakdowns and changes. Vic manages to stand firm and win out the day! This could easily have been the final whistle?

20 Won’t Turn back

Sheer Northern Soul Style with a stirring string section lift offset with a clever fuzzy guitar and a nod to Motown with whoops and builds, this is a peachy classic of a tune, a triumph of will power and biting back!

21 No Love Now

An explosive shuffling almost Cajun tinted whirlwind, with a 60s freakbeat trick of a track that melds to the poetic words that speak of feeling shut out, over-looked,  and out of step – a strangely fitting way to round off and end Disc One’s buried treasures that knit together a mighty journey of songcraft and style from one of England’s true underground giants.

Vile Evils are Vile Evils…

So that’s Disc One – Part One of our 2 part review and we give this and the Monochrome Set LP a full score draw as our recent favourite releases. This band in all its forms and with all of its incarnations have been central and key in so many other peoples lives. Also in the pipeline, is Vic and producer-buddy Edwyn Collins will be putting out a collection of Northern Soul tracks called 1979 to delight us even more! Yes, Vic really is there… Part Two – Disc Two will follow very shortly!

Credits (where they are due)

Subway Sect: Bob Ward, Paul Myers, Rob Symmons, Colin Scott, Steve Spartan Atkinson, Johnny Britton, Chris Bostock, Dave Collard, Rob Marche,
Sean McCluskey, Becca Gillieron, Sophie Politowicz, Leigh Curtis, Paul Trigger Williams, Mark Laff, Gary Ainge, Kevin Younger, Mark Braby & Paul Cook
The Black Arabs & Paul and Terry Chimes, Pete Thomas & Jumping Jive, Working Week
The Bitter Springs: Simon Rivers, Dan Ashkenazy, Nick Brown, Paul Wizard Baker, Paul McGrath & Phil Martin
Mates Mates: Andrew Ribas Escandon, Andriu Luc Ma, Luca Ferran Font, Fim Jorbel Errapicas, Erra & Pau Orri Comerma, Pau
The Sexual Objects: Davy Henderson, Douglas Macintyre, Graham Wann, Ian Holford & Simon Smeeton

Vic Godard & Subway Sect


  • What’s the Matter Boy? (1980), Oddball/MCA
  • Songs For Sale (1982), London
  • Long Term Side-Effect (1998), Tugboat
  • We Come As Aliens (2010), Overground
  • A Retrospective (1977-81) (1985), Rough Trade
  • Twenty Odd Years – The Story of… (1999), Motion
  • Singles Anthology (2005), Motion


  • “Split Up the Money” (1980), Oddball/MCA
  • ‘Stop That Girl’ (1981), Rough Trade
  • ‘Hey Now (I’m in Love)’ (1982), London
  • ‘Johnny Thunders’ (1992), Rough Trade
  • ‘Won’t Turn Back’ (1993), Postcard
  • ‘No Love Now’ (1996), Garcia
  • ‘Place We Used to Love’ (1999), Creeping Bent

Vic Godard


  • T.R.O.U.B.L.E. (1986), Rough Trade
  • End of the Surrey People (1993), Postcard
  • In T.R.O.U.B.L.E. Again (2002), Tugboat


  • ‘Stamp On a Vamp’ (1981), Club Left
  • ‘Holiday Hymn’ (1985), El


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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February 4, 2014 By : Category : Eyeplugs Features Front page Heroes Indie Pop Post-punk Punk Reviews Tags:, , , , , , ,
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