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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.

BUY NOW!

Scenester
18/1/17

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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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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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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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!

DISC ONE

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

Albums

  • 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
Compilations
  • A Retrospective (1977-81) (1985), Rough Trade
  • Twenty Odd Years – The Story of… (1999), Motion
  • Singles Anthology (2005), Motion

Singles

  • “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

Albums

  • 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

Singles

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

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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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February 4, 2014 By : Category : Eyeplugs Features Front page Heroes Indie Pop Post-punk Punk Reviews Tags:, , , , , , ,
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Super Plastic City by The Monochrome Set

Super Plastic City the brand new LP from The Monochrome Set is co-produced by BID and Jon Clayton at One Cat Studios and is published via Cherry Red Songs and sees BID in a post serious illness and recovering nicely, BID penning yet another insightful collection of tonal gems that sit wonderfully together in a moving, wry, witty, intelligent set of stylish songs like a mini novel. Themes of alienation, illness,  recovery, longing, confusion, lost hidden love, the search for peace and quiet, green pastures the great outdoors and the increasing claustrophobic shallow and  suffocating plastic-city-scapes full of  breaking news, mono thinking media, and chaos serve to blend into a snapshot that has the modern times perfectly measured according to The Monochrome Set. Back up Organs by Jon Claydon add tactile textures with Patrick Dawes keeping our toes tapping, hips hipstering and shoulders shrugging with persuasive Percussion tops off the toppings nicely.

‘Super Plastic City’ kicks off proceedings with an instantly familiar, classic TMS feel, with a nice chanted set up signature tune with a vibrant bright and catchy guitar hook-set by Lester Square sounder cleaner and sharper than ever, that leans gently against BIDs warm reedy tones that seem to have effortlessly embedded sincere eccentricity and good manners. Mood shifts are fast and subtle and are underpinned by the magical Andy Warren (Bass) and Steve Brummell (Drums) crisp skin-work  driving, rolling, framing and restraining at just the right moments. It all feels much less laboured and more organic. With couplets like ‘cracking the words like whips, listen to the past coming-out of my lips,’ BID continues to move with the times yet fondly references the passing of time.

‘The Time I’ve Spent Doing Nothing’ bemoans lost opportunities and has a Monkees style feel, that jauntily deals with frittering of time, half forgotten daydreams and missed love. The band interplay is simply awe inspiring with a clear, clean yet finely balanced production of sounds that blend seamlessly.

‘If I Could Be Woebegone’ keeps the springy pace as is as uplifting a song as I have heard for years, but in a really moving way, a desire for inner peace and a cast iron will seem to decorate this tale of potential gloom and doom that instead simply gets defeated. Such a positive ditty! This will wet your eyes and make you grin at the same time like a great British Black and White Comedy from the 40s. This one even had my 2 young sons dancing around the room like March Hares!

‘Lefty’ deals with recovery, conflicts of strange inner voices and staring at ceilings until familiar pastures win over in the end. Floating, fleeting, glimpses of un-certainty all conflict  and weave this tale together.

‘I Dream Of Spring’ slowly builds with scenes, sounds and sensations of re-discovery of the everyday, things that are often taken for granted have gained a new premium in BID’s springtime. Lovely combined melodies with the band stretching time and place.

‘Strange Young Alien’ seems to recall teenage type torment via ‘Cherry Soda Wonderlands’ and religious figures that hide in shadows with driving dreams of guitars and stardom that beckons yet seems to be submerged under deep blue waters, from colliding other worlds. The longest ditty on this collection it twists, stutters, trawls and twangs, it’s the longest song here but earns it’s place.

‘Handed-Down Memory’ recalls lost personal data of the most intimate kind, emotive, poetic and lush guitar work, re-learning from faded hues.

‘Isn’t It A Wonderful Life’ a rhythmically rolling would be sunshine-popper that mixes moods beautifully recalling hints of The Free Design, The Association, Scott Walker yet remains wonderfully Monochrome.

‘Dark Red Rose’ instills golden harmonies and expertly picked out notes from the get-go building to references of hidden love and dark secrets in a space-age-jazz setting. Stylish and deep.

‘Turn It Off ’ deals deftly with rolling non-stop media images, breaking news about breaking news, a claustrophobic tugging of the heart-strings and consciousness into all directions until the far away troubles deliver constant fatigue and the need to escape to the great outdoors, greener pastures, and much gentler more simple times. Once again the entire ensemble selflessly serve the needs of the songs. Something that newer bands should study in depth.

Rotten Ralph’s Custard Carnival’ has a slight proud Byrds’ 60’s influence, but is a jolly, jaunty refrain about growing old disgracefully, BID smirks ‘Oh you were like Jesus, now you look like Ghandi!’ Lester provides fetching fretwork, Andy walks his baselines in and out of Steve’s solid tempo and rounds off the LP of the year by a mile! We give this most recent TMS offering toppermost marks and doff our black berets.

Super Plastic City is released on November 5th and is available here.

admin

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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November 1, 2013 By : Category : Eyeplugs Front page Heroes Indie Music News Picks Post-punk Reviews Tags:, ,
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Kirk Brandon by Richard ‘Jock’ Watson

jockRichard ‘Jock’ Watson started the infamous Limited Conspiracy Fanzine in his hometown of Glasgow in the early 80s at the tender age of 16 or 17. All these years later he has kindly offered to share selected pieces from it with Eyeplug and it’s readers, so that folks can re-discover what would otherwise be a lost culture of pre-internet, pre PC, tablet or Smart Phone Fanzine Culture, that was present in every outpost all over the UK and beyond. All of it driven with passion, obsession and alientation on often borrowed pennies, on stolen typewriters and moody photocopiers and a ‘DIY not EMI’ love for the bands of that time. Limited Conspiracy interviewed some pivotal and influential Artists, some of them sadly no longer with us. We pay tribute to the pioneers, grafters and innocence of this Fanzine era that has been all but lost to history.

Kirk Brandon from The Pack/Theatre of Hate had a newly formed band called Spear of Destiny with a new LP and sound, Richard ‘Jock’ Watson spoke to him in the early 1980s. © LC.

RW: Could you tell us about the New LP?

KB: The new LP is very round and it’s got a hole in the middle and it plays at 33rpm (Spoken in a very bad Scottish accent, si I instantly knew Mr Brandon was a joker at heart). But on with the show – No seriously! Actually it’s a very jolly little Album, nothing too depressing on it!

RW: What’s the difference between this and ‘The Grapes of Wrath?’

KB: It‘s played very well and it’s more me that it’s ever been. I’ve finally got it together and it sounds like what I’ve always wanted to hear, it’s what Theatre of Hate should really have sounded like.

RW: Do you still listen to the old Theatre of Hate records?

KB: I don’t sit around thinking about what I used to do, I just sit around and write new songs!

RW: Do you care about having hits?

KB: No I don’t care, we get really good numbers at our Gigs now, the people are coming and we’re on the way up again, so I have no complaints!

RW: You seem to be constantly Touring?

No we’re not, well not really, that a fallacy put forward again by the NME, their excuse to have a dig. We’ve not toured in a long time, we done 15 dates a while ago and now we’re doing these 10 dates and that’s it for a long time. Most people tour England at least a couple of times, but you don]t listen to the Papers and what they say – they are irrelevant, they don’t bother me in the slightest!

RW: What do you listen to in your spare time?

KB: I listen to Ska Music, I love Ska and Blue Beat. I also like Church Music, Robert Johnson of the Delta Blues as they call him, I also like Prison Music!

RW: The Ska thing does that include Two-Tone?

KB: Well yes as well as the original Blue Beat, but Two-Tone I really like!

RW: What is your connection with Boy George?

KB: Well I helped put his band together for him, Jon Moss and another friend of mine – I gave them some time and the rest is history really!

RW: Are you not sad that Culture Club has had all of that chart success and that you haven’t?

KB: No, I see it this way, I told them they would be big, the biggest thing in the world as far as ‘Pop Music’ is concerned. They didn’t believe me! But they got a lot more bottle than most of these people and actually think a lot, they are not cabbages you know!

RW:  So who is?

KB: Well a lot of people allow themselves to be.

RW: Do you mix with other ‘Pop Stars’?

KB: Well I don’t, but I go to The Palace (Camden Nightspot) because I know the DJ, Rusty Egan, he is a friend of mine. I steer clear of most Clubs that I went to years ago, because I meet a lot of cranks, there’s a lot of potential aggro, I know the management of The Palace, I have done for years, I used to go when it was called the Music Machine!

RW: Do you like Scotland?

KB: Yes, Glasgow is the best gig in the world, so many people say it, but I am saying it’s true. Glasgow is always a wonderful atmosphere, the audience are nice people, which makes a change.

RW: The last time you played in Ayr, there was a guy in the audience giving you stick. What was that all about?

KB: Yes it was some ignorant bloke in the audience, he was sort of maintaining that I had ‘sold out’ or something? So I had to point out that to even be in Ayr that night had cost a lot of money. As ‘TOH’ side of things progressed the debts and costs got bigger and bigger, I’m not whinging, and in the end it became crippling. So I folded the whole thing up, I had to do a deal with the Record Company otherwise it was all over. It costs money to do these places. I had to start Spear of Destiny, you see ‘TOH’ were maybe sometimes slightly innocent, they didn’t want to just get on and play music, maybe even their heads got a little big and they couldn’t be told! I dunno? (shrugs).

RW:  What about the future?

KB: We’ll I would like to produce bands, because we’ve done a lot, started off bands, we’re quite responsible and i think we have done quite a lot. Most of it we don’t talk about. I’ll carry on for a few more years or until such times as i can take it no further, just like TOH and The Pack and other bands that I have been in. But this thing is going to get big, so I’m told, because people enjoy listening to it, it’s not commercial, but it’s good!

RW: What’s your strongest track, Liberator?

KB: Its’s a good song and there are others that are a s good as it, it’s all good. I can’t differentiate because I write it all, so it]s up to you to decide what is good and what isn’t!

RW: What about the next S.O.D single?

KB: The Record Company are trying for ‘Young Men’.

RW: Do you have no say?

KB: Yes, but it’s such an involved Business and so much lying goes on. It’s impossible sometimes! I gave up working with the A&R department, we just go and play to people and make records for their enjoyment. Thtat’s all I was ever in it for, to entertain. There are other things of course, but this is what it’s about! I like the Studio, but I love playing live. I used to Tour 235 days a year, we Tour Europe but not America, well not yet. There was some talk of it, but I don’t know!

RW: Are you bothered by what people in the Audience say?

KB: No I’m not bothered myself, but it is a bit sad that the guy in Ayr did not want to understand. I suppose he will keep his hardcore mentality or whatever they call it these days. In a few years he will fill bitter that he has missed the boat somewhere as far as his own life is concerned. You can’t dwell on the past, never!

* Kirk Brandon is currently Touring with various Spear of Destiny/Theatre of Hate/The Pack sets, check out www.kirkbrandon.com for all latest info.

admin

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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November 1, 2013 By : Category : Eyeplugs Features Front page Heroes Icons Interviews Music Post-punk Tags:, , , , , ,
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John Peel by Richard ‘Jock’ Watson

jockRichard ‘Jock’ Watson started the infamous Limited Conspiracy Fanzine in his hometown of Glasgow in the early 80s at the tender age of 16 or 17. All these years later he has kindly offered to share selected pieces from it with Eyeplug and it’s readers, so that folks can re-discover what would otherwise be a lost culture of pre-internet, pre PC, tablet or Smart Phone Fanzine Culture, that was present in every outpost all over the UK and beyond. All of it driven with passion, obsession and alientation on often borrowed pennies, on stolen typewriters and moody photocopiers and a ‘DIY not EMI’ love for the bands of that time. Limited Conspiracy interviewed some pivotal and influential Artists, some of them sadly no longer with us. We pay tribute to the pioneers, grafters and innocence of this Fanzine era that has been all but lost to history.

John Peel circa 1980s interview with Richard ‘Jock’ Watson. © LC

RW: Why have you recently been playing a lot of old Country and Western Music? (i.e. Girls of the Golden West)

JP: Well the reason for this is that, when I lived in Dallas from about 1960 till 1964, this was the sort of music that was going about. In the place I stayed which was Wako, and the guys I drove about with were mainly into Country and Western and that we used to do was to drive along singing Country and getting totally pissed and it was all good fun and the Girls of the Golden West were one such group, and I played their music because nobody has really heard it before. It’s better than playing records that everyone’s got.

RW: You mean Joy Division don’t you?

JP: Well yes, I don’t see the point, I mean I’m not knocking Joy Division or anything because they are a very good group, but everyone’s got the records. And also I get people writing into the Programme who say they don’t like Reggae and they want me to play tracks from the Clash and the Sex Pistols first albums, I mean come on, everybody knows them, I’d sooner play some new stuff.

RW: Do you like any of the music that’s in the Chart’s?

JP: Ah, you see people have this pre-conceived idea about me that all I like is records by Groups with stupid names and funny haircuts. I like quiet a few of the records which get into the charts.

RW: Like what, recently?

JP: Well apart from the obvious things like the Bunnymen and the Smiths and that, I Like that S.O.S Band record “Just be good to me”, that was truelly wonderful. And the Weather Girls “It’s Raining Men”, that was great.I played that ages ago. And the Womack & Womack record “Love Wars”, I really like that.

RW: Do you still like the Cure, the Banshees, The Bunnymen and New Order, the old faithfuls you know?

JP: It’s funny this, right the Cure, well until recently I’ve went right off them. Their last few singles were shit, but I quite like their new LP. The Banshees their most recent stuff is crap except the new single, their best in a long time. The Bunnymen, Ive liked from the start, and I still do. And who else, oh New Order, well sometimes they make quite good records, but live, they can’t play at all. Kid had a live recording of them and if I had been making a bootleg of that gig, after five minutes I would have switched the bloody tape off, it was that awful. The same with Simple Minds, I used to really like them and Jim Kerr is a really nice bloke but “Sparkle in the Rain”, to me was a progressive rock album.

RW: What about ‘pretty boy’ Pop Stars like Duran Duran?

JP: It’s funny you should ask that, because two of them were on the ‘Lairds’ Programme the other day, and they are two of the nicest people you could meet. You see when folk come to the BBC to do interviews, there are always loads of fans outside and John Taylor and Nick Rhodes stood outside for hours signing autographs, something which is rarely done. And I mean most of the girls were young about 13 or 14, and sweet and innocent. But they weren’t that naive as we at the BBC found out. As they had spray painted on the wall of Broadcasting House ‘Nick, Nick we want your dick!’, which I thought was quite good.

RW: Take us right back, who were your first musical heroes who did you like after that?

JP: Well my first ever Rock’n’Roll Idols were Gene Vincent, Duane Eddy and Little Richard. Then there was Little Feat and Captain Beefheart and the Faces, then the Undertones. And now my three favorite Groups are the Cocteau’s, the Fall and Misty In Roots.

RW: What about the Cocteau’s eh, Pop Stars?

JP: Yes I suppose its a good thing in a way, but I don’t know if Elizabeth will be able to handle success, we’ll have to wait and see.

RW: What is the greatest record ever made?

JP: Well my favorite is “Teenage Kicks” by the Undertones, I just don’t think there will be another record like it, it had everything.

RW: There were rumours about you leaving Radio One, is that right?

JP: Yes, the Bosses thought that my show wasn’t appealing to enough people and they wanted to play Kenny Rogers between 10.00 O’ Clock and midnight, the type of music that appeals to everyone.

RW: What would you do if you lost your job?

JP: Be a Bus Driver.

RW: Are you getting too old for this anyway?

JP: Well I’m 44 is that old? There’s this thing Walter’s says “we’ll be in trouble if Peel ever reaches Puberty!”.

RW: How does it feel to be the most influential Disc Jockey in the history of the world?

JP: I’m not, I just play music that you don’t usually hear on the radio, and don’t talk a lot of cliched DJ bullshit.

RW: Do you go out and see a lot of bands?

JP: No I never have the time to go and see bands. I mean what with getting 50,000 letters to open everyday, I don’t have the time and also I’ve got four young children, so I need to spend time with them.

RW: The Smiths, what do you think is so good about them?

JP: They are just an excellent band, things were boring when they came along. And I like the Sandie Shaw thing as well, my kids like that.

RW: Do you still like the Fall?

JP: I don’t know really, I think I probably prefer the old stuff to the new, but I do still like them.

RW: Why did you stop the Festive 50?

JP: It was the same records year in year out, so I still do it, only just the best of the year Top 50.

RW: Were you really crying when you heard the Cocteau’s Single “Pearly-Dewdrops’ Drops”?

JP: Yes, you see it came into the office, I just sat and looked at it, played it on the show, and I had to hit myself in the chest to stop me crying. I’m a very emotional person, I cry when Liverpool win, I cry for different reasons.

RW: I would cry if you left Radio One, and so would many other people I know?

JP: So would I.

RW: What do you think of the DJ’s who constantly play things from years gone by?

JP: I don’t see any point in it. It’s like me not playing Joy Division. I mean devoting your whole show to the Beatles and 1965, it’s silly.

RW: You didn’t like Blue Monday?

JP: Well at first I didn’t like it and then I grew to live with it. Then I loved it and then I got well fed up with it, but it is good.

RW: Well apart from Peely telling me that the Banshees last Single “Swimming Horses” was codswollop, and that people really do think the Chart and Football Correspondents are different people from him, that was about it. Goodnight, I think this one fades in…

See more info here & here.

admin

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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November 1, 2013 By : Category : DJs Eyeplugs Features Front page Heroes Icons Indie Interviews Music Punk Tags:, , , , ,
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The Monochrome Set speak to Eyeplug

The Monochrome Set are proud to announce the imminent release of their 11th studio album, Super Plastic City, on October 17th. Please note that all the online prices include postage to anywhere in the world. CDs & t-shirts will be cheaper at gigs. The CD will also be available at various outlets worldwide.

01 You formed circa 1978 from art-school punks The B-Sides, To quote the Asahi Evening News, 1993: ‘When B-Sides singer Adam Ant quit the band for an ill-fated solo career, The Monochrome Set was born.’

Wit and style were there from the get-go… I think they wrote that line… but I wished I’d said it.

02 Andy Warren and Lester Square helped shape the early Antz sound and were key to The Monochrome Set, yet the bands were both highly individual and unique?

That’s because Adam & I were/are the main artists, and we are different.

03 Your early live shows saw you working with film maker Tony Potts can you tell us about his role and the collaboration?

He lived in the same squat as JD Haney, and became a friend. In our second year, he came along to a gig with projectors and films. I can’t remember who’s idea it was. Anyway, we thought it made the live show more interesting, so we expanded the film show by buying more projectors and making screens, which we took on tour with us. However, much of this was stolen in the US tour of 1982.

04 Rough Trade found you and put out ‘He’s Frank’ your debut single, what were the Rough Trade years like?

Rough Trade were good and helpful, I liked the people there, but we felt like we never really fit in. Dindisc offered a deal, and we moved over. They didn’t offer much more money than Rough Trade. We did the same with Cherry Red and WEA in 1983/84. It’s difficult to know if these were the right decisions for us, but they happened.

05 The term ‘Indie’ back then was a genuine DIY arty mindset that seemed to generate 7 inch singles in droves, it became a ‘style genre’ eventually which housed clichés in abundance?

That term, when it was used, referred to small record companies, rather than bands or a musical style. There was a proliferation of bands, and singles still sold (in those days), so it made sense to revert to the 60s mode of releasing singles. Especially when a lot of bands only had one good song.

06 Major offshoots seemed to be the place to release LPs, was this to do with promotional budgets etc?

I think there was a fair amount of misunderstanding. Sales from Indie shops were not allowed in the charts. Major sales were massaged. Complications arose with bandwagon-jumpers. Money was waved. Wrong decision were taken by some.

07 What were the melodic, atmospheric and style influences on you LPs throughout the 1980s and 1990s? What shaped the sound references?

It was mainly a combo of late 60s & early 70s UK & US music. No point in me being more specific than that, as I don’t have a lot of control over what I write!

08 Your extensive back catalogue is diverse and bravely embraced many different approaches which we feel set you apart a little?

Well, we don’t play what is essentially the same song for 11 albums.

09 Where would you point a modern day newbie fan as a good place to start The Monochrome Set journey of discovery?

Hmm… the new album, ‘Super Plastic City’ is very well worked, and does represent a fair amount of our sound, I think.

10 Was the comings and goings of band members over the years (some coming and going several times) difficult to maintain focus and momentum?

Not really… adverse personal issues have a vastly greater negative impact. You can usually deal with a changing line-up, but it’s best if the band is stable and happy.

11 There is always a feeling of positive wit, style and artfulness in your writing and songcraft, has there been times when this simply vanishes or gets jaded?

Maybe, due to other reasons, reflecting one’s personal life.

12 There has been a certain vintage nostalgic warmth and charm that sort of lures the listener into tales of multiple double meanings and hidden taboo?

Well, I don’t know. There is depth in our music and lyrics, which is really the result of our continual but slight exploration into areas we don’t understand. If I could describe a typical TMS song, it would be: ‘a classic pop song, which contains elements that lightly tamper with the forces of nature’.

13 Do you think The Monochrome Set have been easily mis-understood over the years and harder to ‘pin down’?

Our music has always been impossible to describe, and I can see why – we regularly, but not calculatingly, incorporate other musical styles into the basic song pattern. Each song is written and treated as an individual. But they’re still mostly 3 minute pop songs, all done with a very similar lyrical style, and most following a very similar or same arrangement pattern.

14 You developed a loyal and in-the-know following from around the World over the years, what places stick out in particular?

Our 3 big sales areas are the UK, Japan, US. We have an old relationship with France, but it’s not an easy country to tour – but dates are in the pipeline. Currently exploring a return to Italy. Will try to… I’m not sure you meant the biz end! You just want me to tell you stories about midgets and alleys. *(the editor spat his coffee out at this point!)

15 Tell us about the formation of Scarlets Well?

TMS split up in 1985/6, and I then did a couple of productions. One of them, ‘Songs For The Jet Set Vol. 1’ featured 3 or 4 different girl singers, and I thought of the idea of having a band with a few lead singers in it. It wasn’t initially meant to be a live band. The musicians were mainly Orson Presence (the guitarist & keyboardist from TMS) and myself, with Toby Robinson (the producaer) also contributing. Aesthetically, it was very different to TMS, and a great deal of fun. I think the 2nd album, ‘The Isle Of The Blue Flowers’, may still be the best I’ve made, or been involved in.

16 You reformed the Monochrome Set in 2010, why there and then?

Tetsuya Nakatani of Vinyl Japan contacted me in Spring 2010 to enquire about TMS reforming for a short tour of Japan, and we said yes. SW had just released (what would be) their last album, and I didn’t at that time see TMS as more than just reforming to play the old stuff in Japan. I had my stroke at the end of July, and after the operation, I decided that I couldn’t continue with two bands. It seemed to me that SW had run its course, and I decided that I’d continue TMS as my only band, and the one I’d write new material for.

17 You suffered a serious health issue in mid 2010 with a SAH (a form of stroke), would you mind telling us about how this came about and it’s affects on your life and work?

It was due to a ruptured cerebral aneurysm, and aneurysms are really a mechanical fault which develops and may burst. I was told that this is not due to lifestyle reasons; it’s just bad luck. In my case, it was good luck, as the mortality rate is approx. 45%. Quite soon after leaving hospital, I started writing songs about being in hospital! I was initially not keen on this, but decided not to stop the flow. It has since become much easier to write songs, as my central consciousness is now slightly weaker, and less able to stop the artistic side.

18 After your health issue and reformation, you have certainly got back to a busy and hectic schedule, tell us about getting back into the swing of things?

It’s not really busy as such, I think. I had some difficulties on tour and on stage, with temporary aphasia, but it passed. My brain has now seemingly rewired itself to that my lexicon functions are kept operational, at the cost of my walking co-ordination – this is called ‘neuroplasticity’, and is the subject of the title track of the new album.

19 You have a new record called ‘Super Plastic City’, can you tell us about the recording and songs?

We recorded the album at One Cat, which is the same studio (well not quite exactly, as they’ve moved into larger premises) that SW used for Black Tulip Wings and Gatekeeper.

20 Does the collection of songs on ‘Super Plastic City’ echo the sound of other past LPs and if so how?

Maybe… I don’t know how, exactly, but it does seem to encapsulate a TMS sound in many ways.

21 What themes and feelings shaped the songcraft on this latest offering? The sound is very warm and clear from what we have heard so far in preview?

The album doesn’t have a tight lyrical theme in the same way as Platinum Coils, but I suppose many of the songs are personal. The sound differs in that, apart from some organ and percussion, it is a 4-piece band now. Many parts were worked in some detail, so in that, the approach (if not necessarily the sound) is quite similar to Strange Boutique.

22 You have a set of live shows to end 2013, does your energy level have to be considered these days or are you liable to extend the list of dates across Europe?

Currently, plans for 2014 are for a 2nd UK tour, Italy, Germany, Paris, Japan… it won’t be a shed-load, as the band aren’t collectively available for more than about 3 weeks (of weekdays) per year. First come, first served.

23 Whats in store for The Monochrome Set down the line? A movie or book perhaps?

I don’t know… at the moment, we just keep going.

24 Are there any modern bands that you would namecheck that you feel are ‘chopping the onions’ as it were?

There are probably many, but I don’t pay attention.

Weblinks

themonochromeset.co.uk/

Forthcoming gigs & sessions:
19/10/13 – The Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh, UK (tickets here)
20/10/13 – The Georgian Theatre, Stockton, UK (tickets here)
21/10/13 – Mono, Glasgow, UK (tickets here)
22/10/13 – The Continental, Preston, UK (ticket links from site)
23/10/13 – Eric’s, Liverpool, UK (tickets here)
24/10/13 – Hare & Hounds, Birmingham, UK (tickets hereherehere)
25/10/13 – The Jericho Tavern, Oxford, UK (tickets here)
26/10/13 – Thunderbolt, Bristol, UK (tickets here, search “The Monochrome Set” if you can’t find)
23/11/13 – 229 the venue, London, UK (tickets here)
30/11/13 – MJC / Espace Hélios, Lambres-Lez-Douai, France (tickets tba)

*All images courtesy of B.I.D and the TMS website (thanks folks), extra special thanks to Steve Brummell!

admin

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.

More Posts - Website

October 14, 2013 By : Category : Art Cult Eyeplugs Features Front page Heroes Icons Indie Interviews Music Picks Post-punk Tags:, , , ,
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Kaleidoscope’s Peter Daltrey speaks to Eyeplug.net

Peter Daltrey of UK Psyche Icons Kaleidoscope, took some time out of his busy creative day to answer some of our questions prior to the Band’s first London show in 40 odd years in Isington in November 2013 (get your tickets fast folks they are flying)…

01 Tell us about your early Mod years in the early 1960s?

After a short spell as a rocker with full leather gear and slicked-back hair I became a Mod. Some guys went for chubby Vespas, but I always preferred the sleek Italian lines of the Lambretta. Fashions changed monthly, weekly: one minute everyone had chrome bars and carriers front and back, then just on the front, then the back, then no bars, but with chromed side panels. I had my panels sprayed racing green with a big white number on. We wore USA Army parkas and Pork Pie hats, loafers and short, dyed slacks. Then Fred Perry shirts with close-cropped hair. It was a nightmare trying to keep up.

02 You were known as The Sidekicks, then The Key before eventually forming as Kaleidoscope?

We had played our first gig at a nurses’ party at Fulham Hospital on the 26th June 1960 something, but the next day we had our first public booking playing for kids at the Cinema: Saturday Morning Pictures; a British institution. I remembered it fondly myself: off to the cinema via De La Mura’s to watch cartoons and space serials and the Lone Ranger, yelling and chewing and punching. We got a gig playing in the interval. We set up in front of the stage at the ABC cinema in Edgware, north of London. The kids didn’t shut up for a minute. But we got a taste of what it was like playing in front of an audience.

By August we had gained enough confidence to book ourselves into Central Sound Studios, 6 Denmark Street in London. We recorded ‘House of the rising sun,’ ‘Mona,’ ‘Hi Heel Sneakers’ and our very first self-penned composition, ‘Drivin’ around.’ We wanted some songs of our own; we wanted to rise above being just a covers band. Ed and I just fell into writing without anyone ever discussing it: Ed wrote the music and I wrote the words. Terrible bloody songs to begin with! But we had all gradually become ambitious, driven on by the encouragement of friends and family. Around this time we had a name change to The Key.

As The Key we played many of our own songs in a set. We were quite creative on stage. We used to have a cute girl in a mini skirt sitting on stage with us. She sat there reading a book of poetry throughout our set. Ed and I would eat an apple during one number. Probably meant to be very symbolic and mysterious but just made it difficult to sing with a mouthful of apple mush. And then during our finale number – the explosive and now long lost ‘Face’ – I bit on a plastic blood capsule and collapsed on stage just as the last chords were fading. It caused a right old riot and we were chased out of the building by the gig organizers who had called an ambulance, completely fooled by my Oscar-wiining on-stage death and they felt pretty silly having to explain their donkey-brained mistake. We were pushing at invisible boundaries.

03 What other bands did you admire and how did you hear them and their music?

We were Beatle nuts, simple as that. The Beatles were our musical gods. It’s been said so many times but the Sixties really was a magical time in many areas, music and fashion in particular, but also film and photography.

We measured everything we did against the Beatles. We had our own style but we were attempting to always achieve their standards. They set the bar for so many bands. I also liked Donovan, Leonard Cohen – Dylan, of course. He was my ultimate hero at the time along with the man who invented great pop music, Buddy Holly.

04 What was the nightlife and live circuit like in those heady days?

We were so focused on our own band on our own quest that we didn’t go to gigs or clubs. We were obsessed with only one band, Kaleidoscope.

06 What shaped your song-craft?

The Beatles’ ‘Revolver’ changed everything. ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ was the catalyst. I was never entirely happy as the lyricist writing endless soppy love songs. The Beatles showed us all the way, followed closely at the time by the Bee Gees who wrote amazingly weird songs like ‘Lemons Never Forget’ and the flawless ‘New York Mining Disaster 1941.’ It didn’t kick start me into writing songs like ‘The Murder of Lewis Tollani’ and ‘Dive into Yesterday,’ as I used to assume; I have since found out that ‘Horizontal’ came out after we were writing such songs – but it did show we were heading in the same direction. But don’t forget that Psychedelia was very short-lived. It lasted not much more that eighteen months. It was that truly magical period between late ’66 to early ’68. Fortunately for us this was the time we hit gold, securing our first recording contract with a major label, Philips/Fontana, and getting all the time we needed in a professional studio.

07 What were your thoughts on the emerging UK psych scene at that time, the girls, cars, fashion, clubs and drugs?

By now Carnaby Street had properly erupted in a florid flush of boutiques with loud music and mini skirts and Mary Quant rippoffs and lace shirts and high-heeled boots for men and see-through dresses and it was spend spend spend! Teenagers had money and they were going to spend it. Records. Clothes. Alcohol. Cigarettes. Drugs. Holidays in Spain. Hairdos. Cheap food. Magazines. The tide was turning. The old school grey drab Fifties establishment was drowning. We were going to change the world. And we had our own leaders, thank you very much: John, Paul, George and Ringo.

08 What kind of pressures, challenges and expectations did signing for Fontana and the music industry at large provide for young bands like yourselves?

On the 24th February 1967 we had our first recording session as Kaleidoscope at Philips’ Stanhope Place Studio just a giant leap for mankind from Marble Arch. Although nervous, entering this mysterious, subterranean dimly-lit cavern, we knew that we could not allow anything to go wrong. We recorded ‘Holiday Maker’ and ‘Kaleidoscope.’ Unlike every recording session we’d ever had before – in egg-box dives – we were not disappointed with the results. In fact we were stunned by the clarity of the results, fascinated by the recording process and pleased to find that the engineers were friendly and co-operative. The actual recording process was taken out of our hands and was something of a mystery: we did what we were told in terms of levels and retakes. The arrangements were down to us, although Dick did have some input via carefully phrased suggestions. We were always willing to listen and incorporate inventive ideas. But all the songs went into the studio fully-formed. We never wrote in the studio like some bands. Our songs were very carefully written, rewritten, arranged and polished long before recording sessions. Dick produced, obviously aware of the beating of our novice hearts, allowing us time to settle down, to accustom ourselves to the cathedral studio. In fact, the studio was so enormous that when we set up our equipment we only occupied a small area, but this was how we preferred it – reminiscent, perhaps, of our nights rehearsing at the school hall in Acton not so long before.

09 You released 6 singles for Fontana in a short period of time, were you happy with them as a collection or set of work?

We always approached singles in a different frame of mind to writing for albums. In fact most of our singles never appeared on our albums. I’m very happy with the singles – but still frustrated that we came so close to chart success but never close enough. The songs were finely honed to be radio-friendly. Both ‘Jenny Artichoke’ and ‘Bordeaux Rose’ came so close to providing us a hit record. Both were what we referred to in those radio-dominated times as ‘turntable hits’.

Our career was scuppered by our own record company whose distribution was so lousy it was legendary in the business – a fact unbeknown to us upon signing our contract with them.

10 You also released 2 seminal LPs around this time, what was that studio experience like and the entire writing and production process?

They were magical days in the huge Number One studio at Stanhope Place. Our second home. Dick was always willing to open his door to Ed and I. He was always asking us for new songs. In the studio itself he took subtle control but always allowed our creativity to rule the sessions from the studio floor. We often recorded all afternoon and long into the evening.

The entire writing and production process…?! I’ll have to bow out of that one. There’s only twenty-four hours in the day and I ain’t getting any younger. Suffice to say it was exciting, exhilarating and rewarding.

11 This set you on the way to being well known in the ‘Swinging London’ period, how had the clubs, culture and scene evolved in this short period?

No idea. We never went to clubs. We were far too busy gigging and writing. The ‘scene’ in any era is often vacuous – and then and now holds no attraction for me. Sorry – were you hoping for ultra-colourful anecdotes of swinging London….? * (Editor – yes but the truth is more rewarding by far!)

12 Jagger and McCartney were big fans, your lyrics were evocative and painted pretty and vivid milestones?

Jagger and Pauly… Were they really? I doubt it. Probably something an interviewer said to heighten interest in his piece.

Looking back it’s easy for new generations to ridicule the style and lyrical content of music from way back then. It was a colourful burst of fashion in music. And as we all know fashion comes and goes swiftly. Fortunately for us it is also true that there is nothing new in this world and fashion styles always return. Psychedelia is again enjoying a substantial revival — and it is great to have caught that wave.

We were certainly not writing to appeal to the druggy crowd. At this point we had very little experience of drugs having dabbled frighteningly in the early Sixties’ purple heart period and being put off pills for life. Younger people look back and think there were drugs and free love available on every street corner. Nope. We weren’t particularly interested in the former and the latter didn’t come up and offer itself to us. Besides, we had total tunnel vision: we lived for our music. Nothing was going to make us waver from our righteous path.

13 Your sense of harmony and melody and ability to create memorable tunes meant that your horizons were moving constantly?

‘Faintly Blowing’ showed our maturing as writers and musicians. It also showed that the record company were still fully in support, willing to invest a lot of money in studio time and orchestral arrangements. Yes, of course, we were looking for a hit record. Dick Leahy wanted to release ‘If you so wish’ as a single — possibly as a double A-side with ‘Black Fjord’ but he lost his sense of direction and went for the more immediately commercial ‘Jenny Artichoke.’ Although ‘Jenny’ was a massive radio hit being played constantly on our one radio station at the BBC, it failed to sell for the same old reason: poor distribution. With hindsight that single should have been followed by the ‘If you so wish’/‘Black Fjord’ single. If Philips/Fontana had then got there act together properly with better distribution and promotion, we would have had a hit that would have really stood the test of time, more likely to endure than ‘Jenny.’

As writers Ed and I were always seeking the perfect song and this inevitably lead to us improving over time. We were always pushing ourselves further.

14 What was the final straw for Kaleidoscope and how did you evolve into Fairfield Parlour?

We then changed our name to Fairfield Parlour after we shrugged off our Psychedelic colours and embraced the progressive folk sound that was fast approaching. We didn’t feel the name Kaleidoscope was appropriate for our new sound and image. In retrospect I guess it was maybe a bit of a mistake. We should have stuck to our guns, proud of our name. But at the time it still seemed the right thing to do.

We had fallen out with the suits at Fontana/Philips because we had failed to produce a hit single. These were executives that thought, at first, they had the new Beatles. They gave us an ultimatum: record the songs of some hit writers -Tin Pan Alley hacks – or your days with us are numbered. We went into the studio under protest and attempted to record two songs that had been scraped from the bottom of a bucket that a publisher was chucking out. The sessions – fortunately – were a disaster!

The Radio 1 DJ, David Symonds had noticed our slightly rudderless ship passing through his studio on numerous occasions and now approached us with a proposition: Let me manage you and get you away from this blindfolded record company. We jumped at the chance to try something new. Ed and I were writing differently. Gone were the battalions in baby blue and in came the lonely old spinsters cutting up pictures of wedding dresses and photos of Marlon Brando. A name change was therefore suggested.

As Fairfield Parlour Farm – yep, we dropped the ‘Farm’ bit in the cold light of the next morning – we, or rather our shiny new manager, approached Fontana and demanded a new contract where we would record independently of the studio and simply lease the tapes to the company, retaining copyright. They agreed, but suggested we climb aboard their new label, Vertigo. Which would best suit our more progressive music, that being the way musical fashion was heading after the short-lived Psychedelic flower withered and died.

15 This period saw you invited to enter into the world of film with the ‘Eye Witness’ soundtrack which housed the new bright young thing Mark Lester?

An up and coming Director offered us the job of writing and recording the theme song and incidental music for a feature film, ‘Eye Witness.’ From the depression and dejection of just six months previous, we were now on a high, rising phoenix-like from the ashes of our former selves. 1970 was clearly going to be an outstanding year!

16 Eventually you were invited to play one of the key events of this entire period, The 1970 IOW Festival?

This really was going to be ‘the big one.’ Not only had we secured ourselves a place on the billing for the 1970 Isle of Wight festival – our manager had persuaded the organisers to let us write and record a ‘theme song’ for the festival. We cut a demo of the song, ‘Let the world wash in,’ at the Livingstone Studios in East Barnet. The Foulk Brothers loved it and so we spent two nights at Sound Techniques in Chelsea recording the song. Lennon’s classic, ‘Across the universe’ is a little too obviously the influence for the song, but nonetheless, the resulting track is warm and sincere. It is one of my favourite recordings of the band, featuring a full, well-produced sound, focusing quite correctly on the chorus.

From the 16th to the 20th of August we rehearsed at a pig farm in Woking. Yes, that is right. In the height of a sultry summer we were in a narrow tin-roofed pig hut strutting our stuff. (All right it was a new building that had yet to see a poor porker.) We’d discussed our set, arriving at a list of songs that reflected our more pastoral side, as some of the critics liked to call it. We would play more of our acoustic songs, the ones we often left out of college gigs. We realised from the outset that we were likely to be dwarfed by the physical dimensions of the gig and the stage itself. We would look ridiculous if we went out there in the middle of the day with our heavier material. We all agreed we would be grass- chewing-folk-loving-bucolic-gentle-rockers for the day. But the pre-gig excitement had already permeated the pig hut. This was going to be enormous.

The day after we left Woking, ‘Let the world wash in’ was released. The rest is history as they say – well our nadir, perhaps. You will have to buy a copy of my book, ‘I Luv Wight’ to read the whole sorry saga. Suffice to say the single bombed and our experience of the festival was tainted by the raging politics behind the scenes concerning the fate of the record at the festival itself.

17 What was the come down like post IOW Festival, what happened next?

‘White-Faced Lady’ shelved for two decades. Disillusion, despair, heartbreak – and rebirth…

18 As a Solo Artist you have been very productive indeed, releasing 19 or so LPs on various labels?

I can’t stop writing and recording. A creative person can`t simply turn off the tap – although having said that the bloody tap occasionally turns itself off. Yes, plenty of albums to choose from for those fans of the band who might be tempted to dig into my own body of work.

I have two albums (one with Damien Youth) currently available on GRA Records in America: and a third due for release soon…

And another on Rocketgirl Records, a double CD with Damien Youth: 

And a fab collaboration with US Psyche-Masters Asteroid#4 called ‘The Journey’:

If all goes to plan I will be joining Asteroid#4 on stage on the 20th of October to premier a few of these songs:

19 What about your various books and work as an Artist?

I have six books out at the moment – available here, – with a seventh on the writing & recording of ‘The Journey’ album coming shortly. And my continuing passion is photography which currently takes up more of my time than music – although that is about to change…

20 You have a much eagerly anticipated London show coming soon (17th Nov in Islington), that must be a real buzz?

Indeed. I have done a couple of tours of America over the last couple of years but this will be my first show in the UK for over forty years!!! Blimey! Yes, I am really looking forward to playing our back catalogue for those fans who have followed the band for decades and for the new fans who have only just stumbled across us. Faintly Blowing, Lewis Tollani, Snapdragon, The Sky Children etc etc… I have a feeling it will me a memorable evening! Get your tickets here folks!

21 What have you got planned for the future?

A great deal. No time like the present. Strike while the iron is hot. Best foot forward. Nothing ventured etc etc. You get the secret picture.

22 Can you tell us a joke please?

A guy walks into a Bar and takes himself a quiet seat. Before he can even order a beer, the bowl of pretzels in front of him says ‘Hey, you’re a handsome fellow!’  The man tries to ignore the bowl of pretzels, and orders a fine Pilsner beer. The bowl of pretzels then says ‘Ooooh, a Pilsner, great choice. You’re a smart man!’  Starting to freak out, the guy says to the bartender ‘Hey what the hell, this bowl of pretzels keeps saying nice things to me!’ Bartender says ‘Don’t worry about it, the pretzels are complimentary!!!’

Weblinks & Credits
For all things Peter Daltrey go to:  www.chelsearecords.co.uk
Thank you To: Anna Pumer Photography: www.annapumerphotography.com

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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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October 14, 2013 By : Category : Eyeplugs Features Folk Front page Heroes Icons Interviews Modernist Music Tags:, , , , , ,
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The Action: In the Lap of the Mods by Scenester

by Ian Hebditch & Jane Shepherd with Mike Evans & Roger Powell

Fame’s lottery has no caller, no bran tub and obeys no known physical laws. The fickle finger flexes, flicks its nail at a nondescript bunch of talented youngsters, and leaves the other thousand hopefuls awaiting their turn, sometimes forever. Today, even the small talents who are prepared to work themselves to death for fame and fortune have a chance at the big prize. It’s not the present day which interests us, however. It’s the untrammelled electric storm of 1960’s Britain, and just one of its young bands, The Action.

The indicators all seemed to be there. A tough, tight-knit unit which learned its chops by ear, from original imported USA recordings. They honed their R n B/Soul covers, poured their hearts into their performances, attracting a dedicated and loyal following in the clubs that were the stamping ground of the young and the stylish. They weren’t alone in their love for this taut, irresistible music, and they played alongside many of the bands who would find the success that The Action was sadly to be denied.

Perhaps it was the paucity of original songs that held them back, or that their apparent fan base was a little too localised to admit a wider audience. Whatever the reason, it seems a cruel irony that The Action’s destiny was to be thwarted, and it’s taken nearly fifty years from the first single release to see a worthy tribute to them.

‘In the Lap of the Mods’ is a surprisingly dense, wordy volume, illustrated with as many publicity photos, candid shots, promo labels, gig posters and record covers as could be mustered. The early life, professional career, changes within the band both in membership and material, and disappointing aftermath, are detailed with impressive thoroughness. Their reformation in the 90’s under the auspices of the New Untouchables organisation proved welcome to old fans and young alike. The many reminisces of the old fans do sometimes begin to read like the entire history of Portsmouth’s Birdcage Club, but happily disprove the old adage that ‘If you remember the 60’s, you weren’t really there.’ How people can give a blow-by-blow account of individual gigs at over forty years’ remove, when most of us have difficulty remembering a gig we attended six months ago, is a still, and remains mystery to this writer!

Publicity photos are always a joy to look through, set firmly in place and time, their desperate attempts to sell their subjects as one thing, with their true nature lurking below the surface gloss. The awkward, besuited and bow-tied poses of ‘Barry and the Boys’, from their days backing the mercurial Sandra Barry, have a school boyish quality to them that may have been intentional. Their later transformation into a waist coated, cow licked beat combo, with a bonfire of guitars, is about as convincing as the Rolling Stones’ attempt in the same period. No harm done though, as their Mod threads were on the way, and it’s in this crazed, urgent time that image and music were as one. There’s still a reluctance to love the camera, but with a confidence born of playing to a discerning audience to buoy them up. The rare splashes of colour in the photos are very welcome to those of us who feel that monochrome is cool, but colour far more revealing, in an age when British life was literally stepping out of the black and white and into a new found glorious multichrome.

The Action may never have another book written about them, but this bright, affectionately written tome would make future projects a little superfluous. Tributes from such luminaries as Sir George Martin C B E, Phil Collins and Pete Townsend are good reading, even if they leave you even more puzzled as to why The Action ended up a footnote when others became household names. If you’re already a fan, you’ll shrug at the hefty price tag at the thought of what you’re getting in exchange. I’ll leave you with just one thought; if you know a great band, don’t keep them to yourself.

Scenester1964 – 26/11/12

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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June 5, 2015 By : Category : Cult Culture Eyeplugs Front page Heroes Icons Literature Modernist Newsplug Picks Reviews Tags:, , , , , ,
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