With specific emphasis on the UK and European garage rock scenes, Eyeplug unearths a rich seem of fuzzy nuggets and shiny pebbles for your attention. We shine a light on trash, frat, grind and retro punk wth gusto!
With specific emphasis on the UK and European garage rock scenes, Eyeplug unearths a rich seem of fuzzy nuggets and shiny pebbles for your attention. We shine a light on trash, frat, grind and retro punk wth gusto!
THEE ONES – BACKYARD BOOGALOO
Thee Ones come from the five valley delta of Stroud. Raised on a diet of Dr John, The Meters and Captain Beefheart they’re all about the groove. With clever story telling lyrics their sound is infectious and will move your mind and body in equal measures. They can be dangerously wild live, whipping a crowd into a frothing frenzy, then soothe them with a delicate Latin-tinged vibe. If you catch them out-and-about we highly recommend you take your dancing shoes and a voodoo charm. Their new album, ‘Backyard Boogaloo’ is coming out in November 2016.
01 Tell us about Thee Ones in a short potted history?
Myself and Greame started the band around 2010. Writing material that crossed our interests in early rhythm & blues and 60’s latin music. But it’s not easy to blend Howin’ Wolf and Willie Bobo while not trying to make a pastiche of either, so we ended up just sounding a bit like Thee Ones.
02 How do you create or write new pieces, what’s your process?
I tend to walk about muttering to myself a lot. I tend not to write anything down as I hope that if I can remember it I can class it as ‘rememberable’. So a lot goes by the wayside. Most of the time I feel like a lazy collector of mumbo jumbo, or trapper of daydreams, hoping they make some kind of sense. But generally, I guess a lot is the mix of nostalgia and foreboding. Paint pictures of what was great to warn of what we are losing. And alway a bit of Rock n Roll nonsense stuff as I can’t be glum for long.
03 What are some of the influences that form your own sound?
With this last lot of songs, I sat with a cheap Spanish guitar playing along to lots of cheesy latin. And I guess it rubbed off with things like ‘The Moon’ and ‘77a’. There’s also a lot of Ska and Rock Steady going on. We have alway listened to a lot of Jamaican Music but not used it so much as an influence before.
04 What is your local music scene like?
Everyone around us, here in Stroud seems to be an Artist or a Musician and this corner of Gloucestershire seems to punch above its weight in terms of alternative culture. The likes of Low Chimes (who were Hotfeet unto a month ago), Pete Roe and Emily Barker have been shining brightly for a while now of the new Folk scene and there is some great Latin/Ska/Calypso stuff coming from Dave Andrews new band Solomento. We have also been loving some of our festival stablemates that we’ve been brushing shoulders with, especially Bristol band, Mama Jerk and The Lady Fingers. Not sure what they are but it’s good stuff.
05 Tell us about your latest LP?
With the first album, we recorded the whole lot with the most basic methods we could. This the help of Eve Studios fantastic knowledge and vintage kit. We did the lot all in one and no over-dubs, like something from the early fifties. But this time we planned to work a bit more conventionally and record in a modern studio and make the songs as luscious as we could, without losing our rough edges. Although ‘Dirty Stopout’ is the demo/live room version and was sneeked onto the final cut.
06 What were the ups and downs of this Studio visit?
I alway have a bit of trepidation before recording. I guess no-one likes looking in the mirror too long. But it was great. We had been playing the new songs out a lot and so were very gig fit, so getting everything down was pretty painless. Though I had a belter of a blocked nose to contend with.
07 What other current bands do you all dig?
We listen to a lot of Mod-Jazz and African music in the van on our way to gigs these days. Current ‘van hit’ is, Fela Kuti – ‘Coffin Head of State’.
08 What can folks expect from your live shows?
We alway give our all. Sweat, blood and full power ahead. And now with added Organ! (And maybe Baritone Sax in the near future, but keep it under your hat).
09 What types of themes run through your songs?
Well a lot of my songs are memories of growing up in London. ‘77a’ tells of the bus journey from Lavender Hill to Clapham Common and all the things that are no longer there. I don’t think the bus route even runs anymore.
10 What pieces of kit do you hold dear?
My Black Epiphone Sheraton from the easy 80’s. I got it re-fretted the other day so it has a bit of a chance of getting near tuned but I love it. It changed the way I played more than any other guitar. It was a right bitch.
11 What can we expect in the future?
We are still hoping of getting to Texas. Maybe next year.
12 Can you tell us a joke please?
Us playing Texas!
The Hollywood Brats: Probably the best band you never heard of…
I got a few questions about The Hollywood Brats and your new book but we do not have to follow the script, we can just see where the conversation leads us.
AM: ‘Scripts are rubbish, let’s just trot, let’s go crazy. I am at the Dorchester actually having a little bit of a bash for The Hollywood Brats as the album came out last week and a paperback version of the book came out yesterday, so we have been knocking them back so please forgive me if we go off base here.’
So it’s an album and a book launch?
AM: ‘Indeed and it’s sponsored by Grey Goose so we have had a few vodka’s here. Oh by the way if you want a nice Vodka go for Grey Goose.’
Firstly, I would just like to talk about your memoir ‘Sick On You’, which is your failed attempt to turn The Hollywood Brats into rock n roll stars. It is a hilarious read and it has been almost impossible to put the book down. Did you find writing the book difficult?
AM: ‘It was not difficult to write at all the whole story is insane it was completely bonkers. I mostly worked from diaries, Brady (Euan Brady, Brats guitarist) and yours truly kept meticulous diaries although I did have to amend them somewhat as they were a bit salacious.’
What was you inspiration for starting a band in the first place? In the book, you talk with great humour about your hatred for music that was around in the early 1970’s. It would be fair to assume that this was one of your inspirations for starting a band?
AM: ‘Exactly, hatred is one of the purest emotions and I still have banks of it I really do. I absolutely detested music at that time, it was denim, it was old, bald guys, it was drum solos, guitar solos that went on forever and played by people who could barely play and it was bloody gongs, do you remember gongs? That music drove me nuts and still drives me nuts to this day and something had to be done and I thought I was the man to do it’.
Speaking of ‘gongs’, a man who did occasionally play one was Keith Moon and apparently he delivered a tray of drinks to you and the band after a gig at the Speakeasy?
AM: ‘Yes he did and he was a really lovely man and also a bit of a champion for us in the ensuing weeks until he forgot who we were, (laughs) but he was very nice to us and what a gentleman too and he was one of my heroes – and what a brilliant drummer.’
The Brats were originally called The Queen and you hit Freddie Mercury at The Marquee over band naming rights.
AM: ‘You hit Freddie Mercury you are going to have your knuckles scarred by those teeth right? Actually, I just gave him a backhand and I was just trying to swat him away as one would with a Middle Eastern fly. It wasn’t anything you can consider a fight let me tell you.
I want to talk a little about the debut album, which was recorded at Olympic Studios.
AM: ‘What a fabulous studio that was probably the best studio ever and probably is to this day, the types of characters that were there when we were recording was astounding too, The Eagles, David Bowie, The Bee Gees, Donovan.
Didn’t David Bowie walk in during one of your recording sessions and said he loved one of your songs. I think the song was ‘Nightmare’?
AM: ‘Yeah, Bowie did come in and he also let us listen to what he was doing at the time and it was the brilliant ‘Rebel Rebel’, (Hums the guitar riff) brilliant riff and then he came in and heard what we were doing, because that was the norm at Olympic, you know you could just wander around and listen to what each other were doing etc. Bowie liked what we were doing, he nodded his head like mad and tapped his stack-heeled toes and said ‘luv it! luv it!’. He was a lovely man and a low-key gentleman as well.’
The album did not get released at the time. How did you feel about that?
AM: ‘I immediately looked for a razor blade to slit my wrists (laughs) and not finding one. It was heartbreaking because I knew we had delivered something. But alas timing is everything and to quote from the Bible (not that I read one) is that ‘to everything, there is a season’.
It has been argued that the album is a Proto-Punk classic and listening to it now it has not aged a day.
AM: We delivered what we wanted to deliver and that is a good thing but nobody at the time wanted it at all. Everybody hated us and the closest we came to a deal was with Bell Records or some such idiotic label like that, who had people like David Cassidy on it and then they heard the Brats and told us they did not want anybody who sounds like that on their label. That was just the prevailing attitude at the time.’
Well the album was delivered with attitude and it is a dirty gritty in your face record and it could be argued that it was an influence on Punk Rock.
AM: ‘There was no Punk Rock when we actually made it and we recorded it in a vacuum. Everything was so vacuous at the time and all we knew was that everything needed to be shaken-up, grabbed by the lapels and driven mad. I mean you did not want your parents or your older brothers liking what you were into too. Rock n Roll had gone off the beam at that time, so we were trying to address that core problem’.
I would just like to return to the book, which has been critically acclaimed. Are you flattered by the positive response to your memoir?
AM: ‘I am very happy about it and people have said such nice things about it. It is a bit difficult for me to answer this question but yes I am very pleased at the way it has been received. It has warmed the cockles of my soul let’s put it that way.’
Well it is an incredibly funny book and it has the humour of Spinal Tap except The Hollywood Brats were so much poorer.
AM: ‘(Laughs) so you have a sense of humour? I like that’.
I hate to mention this but I would argue that too many comparisons have been made between yourselves and the New York Dolls. It is clear from the book that any musical or aesthetic comparison was a coincidence only.
AM: ‘It makes good sense to mention it and it is just one of those bloody weird things that happens in this world. When we first saw their picture in the NME, we were aghast as they were doing a similar thing to what we were doing. I respect the New York Dolls, but we wiped the floor with them musically’.
You were given a copy of the Dolls debut album and you were not that impressed by what you heard.
AM: ‘No, not at all because we had built them up in our minds so much and we were like, oh my God how can there be another one of us? When we heard their music we wiped our brows and went phew. We didn’t dislike the Dolls or anything like that, but we thought this was serious competition until we dropped the needle on the record.’
Cherry Red Records have recently reissued the album with a bonus disc of previously unreleased material, and after four decades since the album was recorded do you think The Hollywood Brats are finally getting their dues?
AM: ‘Well I don’t think there are any dues. You do what you do and you just put it out there and the devil takes the high most. You put something out in the marketplace and let the marketplace decide and if they were not ready then but ready now, so be it. I am not bothered in the slightest by the way, I am having fun and what is happening now has engendered loads of new opportunities for me. I am having a blast. For God’s sake I am at the Dorchester having a party and if you want Vodka then make it Grey Goose.’
I have heard a rumour that the BBC is making a documentary?
AM: ‘They are and I am being filmed right now as we speak’.
Really? Are you involved behind the scenes? What part are you playing in its production?
AM: ‘I am the boss of everything that is being recorded by the BBC except your show. You’re the boss of that.’
You recently appeared at Glastonbury. How did that go?
AM: ‘Glastonbury was absolutely amazing. I had never been before and it was utterly amazing, the people were fantastic and it was as muddy as I had been told it would be.’
How did a dapper man like yourself deal with all that mud?
AM: ‘They told me I would have to wear wellies. Can you imagine me wearing willies? I told them no chance and I managed to get to the stage looking immaculate.’
So you were there to promote the book?
AM: ‘Yes I was applauded on and applauded and cheered off and they gave me drinks throughout the talk, and that is how I judge the standard of how things are going (laughs).’
Finally, I have heard that the Brats have reformed. Can we expect a tour soon?
AM: ‘You know what? I read that in Mojo recently and I thought is that right? I better get singing or something. We have had offers from all around the globe and who knows. We are all alive and well and we all have our own hair, which is essential for me and if you’re going to reform and one of us were bald I wouldn’t allow it. To answer your question yes I think it might happen and you will be the first to know.’ ‘Oh and by the way, if your’re thinking of having a Vodka then try Grey Goose’.
Longjohns recent Hollywood Brats LP review is below
In 1971 an 18-year-old Andrew Matheson arrived in London with just a guitar, a few quid and a head full of ideas about forming the perfect Rock n Roll band. Matheson drew up a five-point list that these band members would have to adhere to and the rules were simple. You had to “think like a star’’, have great hair (preferably straight hair), must be slender, young, and absolutely no facial hair and above all no girlfriends.
Matheson found his kindred spirits in the shape of Norwegian Stein Groven (Casino Steel), Euan Brady, Wayne Manor and Lou Sparks. These members would form the nucleus of The Hollywood Brats and Matheson’s attempts to turn these disparate bunch of Brats into bone-fide rock stars failed abysmally, and this glorious failure is told in hilarious detail in his recent memoir, Sick On You: The Disastrous Story of Britain’s Great Lost Punk Band.
The Hollywood Brats also recorded what might be considered one of the first British Proto-Punk albums of the 1970s, and it has been re-mastered and re-packaged by Cherry Red Records as a vital 2-CD set, which includes their one and only long player, plus a bonus disc of “Brats Miscellany’’, featuring, rarities, a few cover versions and a number of tracks that were muted for a second album. The set also includes detailed liner notes with written contributions from Matheson and Casino Steel.
As this album suggests The Hollywood Brats should have carved out a niche for themselves, but the tale of the Brats really is a tale of starvation, struggle, comedic bad timing and bad luck. Whatever momentum The Brats were starting to build-up was then quickly thwarted, when Matheson opened up the NME one morning in 1972 and what looked back at him was a band that were the total mirror image of themselves.
The New York Dolls were another tough Rock n Roll band with an equal amount of androgynous glamour, but they had the added bonus of having a record deal, a publicity machine and (sadly for the Brats) a tour booked for the U.K. The comparisons visually and musically are obvious, and although both bands ploughed a similar musical furrow it is a mere coincidence only as Matheson explained that he had never heard of the Dolls until he picked up the NME on that fateful day in 1972.
The Hollywood Brats debut album is played fast and loud and has the swaggering attitude of the Rolling Stones and T-Rex thrown in for good measure. However, the Brats were amplified just that little bit louder, and took the gender-bending pretensions of Glam that little bit further by smearing themselves in “Cleopatra Eye Liner’’ and “Cherry Blaze Outdoor Girl Lipstick’’. One can only imagine Matheson preening on stage in his glam rags, puckering up his ruby red lips to sing The Crystals classic “Then He Kissed Me’’ (featured here) to the baying violent mobs that frequently attended their live shows.
It would be too easy to get side-tracked by the doomed failure of The Hollywood Brats but two things should be remembered. Firstly they looked great and steered well clear of food encrusted facial hair, “upper lip fringes’’ and the dirty denim, which was so prevalent in the 1970s. Secondly, they recorded a lean, mean, muscular album that had songs that were full of bravado, wit and spades full of nihilism.
The album never saw the light of day in the U.K but was subsequently released in Norway before Cherry Red Records happened across a copy of this ultra rare album in 1978. It is largely thanks to them and Matheson’s brilliant memoir that The Hollywood Brats have not been confined to the dustbin of musical history. Although the album may not be an out and out classic there are still a handful of great songs on it, plus it has the added bonus of being played by glamorous lady boys draped in feather boas and dripping in lipstick, mascara and red nail varnish.
The album has attitude and it sounds lean, raw, and dirty and as Matheson explains in his memoir he was “driven by the purest of all emotions, which was hatred’’. Matheson made no attempt to hide his complete disdain for music that he considered was full of it’s own self-importance and he argued that “music needed to be grabbed by the lapels and shaken up’’.
Matheson steered these London ‘belles’ away from standard boring guitar noodling and dull drum solos and the ubiquitous Prog Rock pretensions that were so prevalent at the time. Instead The Brats aimed for something much more visceral, efficient, tough and above all sexy and provocative, but sadly for the Brats no one at the time was listening.
Listening to the album will probably draw the listener to the conclusion that The Hollywood Brats sound like a hybrid of the Stones and the New York Dolls. However, the album should be taken on it’s own merit, and there are a handful of great tracks, including album opener, Chez Maximes, Nightmare, Courtesan, Zurich 17, and Tumble With Me, which are all Glam rockers, have tough guitar riffs and sound equally trashy and vicious.
However, the album has the one stone cold classic and it is the hate-filled closing song Sick On You. The vitriol poured out by Matheson towards a girl he no longer loves is delivered with such snarling venom and when he spits the opening words “you wanna know what it’s like condemned to live with you, it’s some kind of suicide, some phase that I went through’’, the moniker “Proto Punks’’ may indeed be fully justified.
There is definitely a correlation between The Hollywood Brats debut album and Matheson’s memoir that they are almost mutually dependent on each other, and should be enjoyed together. This album has the swagger and attitude you would associate with the Brats Glam Rock peers but, has the added impetus of rage and frustration thrown in for good measure. The Hollywood Brats were condemned to failure and obscurity but their combustible anger filled music would inadvertently manifest itself in Punk Rock, so perhaps we should be thankful for small mercies.
“Another Splash of Colour (New Psychedelia in Britain 1980-85)’’ is arguably the first comprehensive overview of the British psychedelic revival of the early 1980’s. Cherry Red Records have put together a 3-CD set featuring 64 neo psychedelic tracks that span the first five years of the 1980’s. This compilation expands on the original ‘‘A Splash of Colour’’ LP, which was released in 1981 and this new edition comes housed in a clamshell box with a 34-page booklet containing exclusive pictures, and a mammoth 9,000-word essay written by former NME journalist Neil Taylor.
The artists who featured on the original album are included here, and The Mood Six, The Times, Miles Over Matter, Icicle Works, The High Tide, The Barracudas, The Earwigs and The Marble Staircase, were all heavily influenced by 1960’s British psychedelia. What is rather nice about this new expanded version is that it now includes some big hitters who are rubbing shoulders with some lesser-known artists, including The Soft Boys, The Television Personalities, The Dream Factory, The Legendary Pink Dots, Robyn Hitchcock, Julian Cope, Playn Jayn, The Attractions (minus Elvis Costello) and The Prisoners.
The expanded box set is a timely reminder that psychedelia was a broad church musically, and Cherry Red Records have used the original “A Splash of Colour’’ LP to form the basis of this new collection. The envelope has been pushed even further by the inclusion of post punk and new wave acts that were influenced by 1960’s pop and psychedelia but without being slavishly devoted to a 1960’s sartorial and musical aesthetic. It is clear that psychedelia was a much looser musical concept in this period, than the original ‘A Splash Of Colour’’ LP suggests, and this collection is a nicely rounded overview of bands and artists that were not quite carrying the psychedelic freak flag but obviously owed a small debt of gratitude to the pioneers of psychedelic rock music in the late 1960’s.
A special mention should be given to some of the artists that graced the original “A Splash Of Colour’’ LP as without them this box set would not have materialized. The High Tide, The Marble Staircase and The Mood Six have two songs apiece on this collection and these artists in particular were not afraid to doff their velvet fedoras to Syd Barrett Era Pink Floyd, Tomorrow and Traffic, and the result is pleasing but the studious approach to recreating the past leaves these artists sounding somewhat derivative. The Barracudas also appeared on the original album and were ironically an English band that was clearly indebted to the USA’s surf music scene of the 1960’s. “Watching The World Go By’’, and ‘’Inside Mind’’ feature on this collection, and clearly demonstrated their bias for 1960’s sunshine pop. However, these days The Barracudas might only be remembered for their top 40 novelty surf song called “Summer Fun’’ which was released in 1980.
Robyn Hitchcock features on Disc 1 with a solo effort “It’s a Mystic Trip’’, which came out as a flexi disc 7’ in 1981, but it is the scorching “Only The Stones Remain’’ with his group The Soft Boys that almost steals the show on the first CD of this box set. It is no secret that Hitchcock was a big admirer of his Cambridge compatriot Syd Barrett, and The Soft Boys did a remarkably brilliant version of Barrett’s “Vegetable Man’’, which can be found on the expanded edition of their second album “Underwater Moonlight’’. The two songs included here showcase Hitchcock’s surreal lyrics as well as his knack for making brilliant hook laden tunes, and as these two songs demonstrate Hitchcock and The Soft Boys are criminally underrated.
The Monochrome Set have one song included on this collection, and “On The Thirteenth Day’’ taken from their third album “Eligible Bachelor’s’’ demonstrates that they could combine a macabre sense of humour, hooky melodies and bristling edgy energy to make effortless pop songs and it is baffling that The Monochrome Set remain nothing more than a well kept secret. “On The Thirteenth Day’s’’ surreal and grotesque lyrics about corrugated horse flesh and venus fly traps hint at an acid trip going awry, and the Kafkaesque imagery is possibly the only explanation for the inclusion of this brilliantly quirky song’s inclusion on this collection.
It would be doubtful if no more than a handful of discerning souls have heard of Nick Nicely, and if that is the scenario then this artist thoroughly deserves to be rediscovered on the basis of the two tracks included here. “Hilly Fields’’ and “49 Cigars’’ take the experimental nature of psychedelia and electronic synth pop and combined these two elements together to almost breathtaking effect. “49 Cigars’’ in particular, is eerily psychedelic and sounds like it owes something of a debt to those late 1960’s psychedelic pioneers The Factory, and it is about time that both of these acts in their respective time period were given the recognition they richly deserve.
No collection like this would ever be complete without acknowledging the influential Medway garage scene that sprouted up from around the pubs and clubs of Rochester and Chatham in Kent in the first half of the 1980’s. The Dentists first single from 1985 the effortlessly catchy and jangly “Strawberries Are Growing In My Garden’’, has an obvious 1960’s dreamy West Coast pop influence with harmonies and tambourines galore, and this little known gem of a song is a welcome inclusion on this box set.
However, it is the roughly hewn music made by The Prisoners and The Milkshakes that have overshadowed other Medway acts like The Dentists and both of these bands are arguably the most celebrated and influential acts that came out of the Medway scene. The sheer effortless power of The Prisoners, which is demonstrated by the inclusion of ‘’Reaching My Head’’, that ably demonstrates what a popular live draw they must have been around the Medway and London in the 1980’s. Graham Day’s crunching, spiky guitar riffs, soulful vocals, and James Taylor’s masterful swirling organ, combined to create a somewhat rough garage sound that was also dripping in obvious pop melodies, which make it baffling why The Prisoners never broke out from their status as a critically acclaimed cult act to wider recognition.
There is not too much that can be said about legendary punk band The Damned, however, a little mention should go to their alto ego’s Naz Nomad and the Nightmares, who covered the Electric Prunes psychedelic classic “I Had Too Much Too Dream Last Night’’. Legend has it that it was originally thought that Naz Nomad and the Nightmares were a lost 1960s Garage band, and it is easy to see why fans of Nuggets era garage were salivating over the thought of uncovering some obscure 7’ records by a long lost 1960s act. Naz Nomad and the Nightmares covered a number of garage classics to such stunning effect that they were genuinely seen as the real thing, and one can only assume that The Damned adopted this pseudonym so they could completely immerse themselves in the garage and psychedelic records that they so clearly adored.
Julian Cope is another artist who really needs little introduction as the lynchpin and creative force of The Teardrop Explodes. However, Cope also released two overlooked solo albums straight after the demise of The Teardrop Explodes and included on this box set is “Sunspots’’, which is taken from Cope’s second album “Fried’’. “Sunspots’’ was released as a single in 1984 and it is easy to see why this particular song has ended up on this box set as the “Arch-Druid’’ is a unique pop star, who easily churned out great Psychedelically pop inflected tunes with consummate ease. Cope ploughed his own artistic furrow to such an extent as to pose naked under a turtle shell for the front cover of “Fried’’, and this eccentric pop star’s inclusion on this collection makes it an even greater well rounded listening experience.
Three bands from Creation Records feature on the third disc, and co founder of the label Alan McGee has never denied his utter devotion to 1960’s psychedelia. His fascination with 1960’s pop was such that he even named his fledgling label after cult British psych pop art band The Creation and named his own band Biff, Bang, Pow after one of their songs. The inclusion of Biff, Bang Pow, The Jasmine Minks and The Revolving Paint Dream demonstrate that a new musical beginning was just around the corner that was introspective, self-deprecating, amateurish and sonically ragged. This new musical movement it could be argued was a natural evolution from the music included on this box set, and it would eventually become christened as “Indie Pop’’ and this fleeting moment was crystallized on the NME’s C86 cassette tape.
“Another Splash Of Colour’’ is such a brilliantly diverse and varied collection of somewhat obscure neo-psychedelia that it could be a contender for one of the compilations of the year. The collection ably demonstrates that their was an alternative listening experience in the early 1980’s that was to some extent lysergic, and was the absolute antithesis to the ubiquitous and slickly produced synthesizer pop that was polluting the FM airwaves with alarming regularity in this period. If you are a discerning soul whose preference is for obscure psychedelic tinged music that has slipped under the radar then there is simply no excuse for not buying this box set. BUY HERE!
The Runaways (Cherry Red Records CDMRED 237)
Girl groups are nothing new, and this was also true back in the mid-70’s, when a gang of teenagers kicked their way through the walls of the male-dominated music industry and staked their claim to rock immortality. Managed by the notorious Kim Fowley, equal parts Svengali, hustler and guide, Cherie Currie, Lita Ford, Jackie Fox, Joan Jett and Sandy West strapped on their guitars and took the boys on at their own game. Numerous line-up changes followed in their brief career, but it’s the first US LP our friends at Cherry Red have reissued here, and it’s this CD reissue I’ll confine my comments to.
The girls hit the ground running with ‘Cherry Bomb’, a lurking, threatening rocker that refuses to take ‘no’ for an answer, turning from a slow tease in the first three verse lines, to the haggard screech of a crone in the last. Ecstatic moans punctuate the song, ending on a glorious, Sweet-style metallic echo.
The hard, aggressive blues opening to ‘You Drive Me Wild’ leads into a straight ahead rock ‘n’ roller penned by Joan Jett, full of one-on-one sexual promise, an alternating riff and spiced up with plenty of yelping vocals and more and more ecstatic moans.
The glam racket of ‘Is It Day or Night?’ is another winner, from the pen of Kim Fowley, portraying the low-life ennui in the aftermath of a night – or a lifetime – spent pursuing life’s more hazardous pleasures. With lyrics like ‘Novocaine Lips’ and some great, crashing false endings, what other decade could this song have come from?
Proving that the basic rock riff always holds good, ‘Thunder’ takes us on a classic journey through love, drawing on age-old imagery of natures’ indomitable powers, held together with an insistent bass riff and Cherie’s voice handling the melody well.
Mention 70’s sleaze and the blue mask of Lou Reed makes its spectral appearance on the studio wall. The Runaways’ fine take on Lou’s eternal ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll’ has some surprisingly funky elements thrown in for good measure, nice bass runs, cowbells and some dry-throated screams to take it far enough away from the original to make it a true cover version, and not the usual obligatory tribute.
Cherie’s voice is loaded with suggestion in ‘Lovers’, a demanding, teasing song from Jett and Fowley, with a kiss-off that demands a reply.
Lou seems to have been implanted into the band’s DNA, if ‘American Nights’ is anything to go by. A distant relative of ‘Sweet Jane’, with fuzzy guitars proving a nice touch, in a characteristic song of youthful, dangerous adventure.
The basic two-note riff and Joplin-style shriek which opens ‘Blackmail’ gets your attention without any effort. A hard and nasty fuzz guitar solo in a song as literal as it is effective, Cherie’s voice ranges from a rough growl to a hacking cough as she spells out the terrible fate her former lover will face.
The Rolling Stones’ style opening riff of ‘Secrets’ sets the scene well, a tale of deceit and double lives with a whiff of the forbidden about the relationship. The feedback lead out is subtly handled, and a first on the LP.
A great, chugging bass line and a nasty/sexy voice opens The Runaways’ ‘Dead End Justice’. Basically a 1950’s style female juvenile delinquent film script, set to high-octane 1970’s rock music, with lyrics as hard as cheap nails; it’s the perfect (getaway) vehicle. Even the imaginary film title hides in the lyrics, ’Dead End Kids In The Danger Zone’ as our teen protagonists go from teasing the boys in their skin tight jeans and provoking fights, all in one brew and pharma-fuelled night. The inevitable come-uppance lands the pair in jail, at the tender mercies of police, wardens and other prisoners. Our girls plot their escape their voices a low whisper, but… Well, I’ll let you guess the rest if you’re too mean, or too snobbish, or just too plain dull to buy the LP. It’s a magnificent way to end, full of the 70’s ambitious stage-stylings, youthful swagger and later, the desperate nostalgia for an era they were too young to remember, and the girls bring it off brilliantly for the age it was minted in.
Brian James: The Guitar That Dripped Blood (Easy Action)
Brian James’ distinctive guitar tone, riff-craft and sonic song-writing style is on full alert here on this new one from Easy Action. Ten top tracks that echo the Damned, Stooges and James’ own previous solo classics (Tanz Der Youth, Brains etc) and that push this one hard. James doesn’t handle all the lead vocals here though – it makes little or no sense to me that James would have anyone other than himself sing. His charismatic drawl is everything that these songs need. Guest vocalist Adam Becvar (4 tunes) sounds similar enough to be unnecessary and but different enough to want to hear James back taking the lead. This is a rough and ready release and guest guitarist Cheetah Chrome grinds it out with James on ‘Becoming a Nuisance’ just to add that little bit more Stoogey-grind so beloved by both guitarists. (10 tracks.)
The Montecristos: Born to Rock‘n’Roll (Easy Action)
Its rock‘n’roll fetish time! Big ‘ol guitars! A blazing (all gal) horn section with a stand-up bass pumping the bottom of that primitive rockin’ rhythm to get ‘em out on the floor. Add a pile of peroxide and pomade, a little bit of leopard on your strides and some suggestive late-night ideas from vocalist/guitarist and front man Neal X and you’ll have a pretty good idea where London’s Montecristos are coming from. Fronted by former Sigue Sigue Sputnick and Marc Almond guitarist Neal X this six piece outfit has got the show going. Plenty of 50s glitz and gonzo with the occasional nod to the swingin’ 60s (the Rascal’s “Good Lovin’”) and with Marc Almond as featured guest vocalist on Vince Taylor’s well-known classic “Brand New Cadillac”. Like “Good Lovin’” it could probably have been swapped out for one of the band’s originals or something a little more uncommon but they may very well help with getting some friendly radio play. I was very pleased to see the great rock writer Nina Antonia listed as co-writer on the title track “Born to Rock’n’Roll”. No doubts here – the Montecristos are rockin’ it. (14 tracks.)
The Dub Rifles were a mixture of modernist power pop, ska, punk-funk and garage soul band, formed in 1980, in Winnipeg Canada. The original members were lead singer/guitarist Colin Bryce, drummer Eloi Bertholet, saxophonist Matthew Challenger and bassist Clint Bowman. A year following their onslaught, a second saxophonist, Dave Brown, was also added. After completing three EPs, the Dub Rifles reached the end of their line in 1984.
Colin Bryce (a.k.a Mohair Sweets and Eyeplug key writer) has lovingly re-visited the original mster tapes (wherever possible) old vinyl (where impossible) and some vibrant sounding live shows mainly from Montreal cicra 1984 to glue together this rather astonishing until now hidden treasure trove of songs that provide a sterling snapshot of the rampant widespread influences that mashed together to re-surface in these fine forms herein. BUY A COPY HERE
Track One – NO TOWN NO COUNTRY
The Dub Rifles kick off this collection of rare as hens teeth recordings taken from 1981-1984 with an upbeat corker that displays curt interplay between brass, guitar, bass journeys and solid-as-you like drums, this version being lifted straight form the master tapes which helps set the tone.
Track Two – STAND
A choppy, catchy brass riff with slow chanted vocals of ‘are you ready’ and moody booming backing grind and drive this one along and no wonder or real surprise that it was quickly snapped up for a Trouserpress/ROIR ‘Best of American Underground collection at that time – not bad for a Canadian outfit!
Track Three – DELICATE ACTION
Another moddy-powerpop classic in the making, jaunty arrangement, with Bowmans’ bass and Bertholets’ drums squeezing in more explosions among that solid Bryce guitar sound and the dual brass glory from Challenger and Brown. Just teeters on the edge of collapse yet strangley makes sense at the same time.
Track Four – MINE
One of several live recordings taken from Montreal circa 1984, ‘The sun sets in my street and I just choose to get on home’ saw the Dub Rifles venture further into modernist pop perfection with thoughts of even bringing in names such as Georgie Fame to assist on production duties during a studio trip to Toronto. We can only guess at how that would have played out!
Track Five – X
Really cannot get enough of this our fave standout track from this wonderful bunch! A seeming Motown/garage post-punk that is more catchy than a wicket keeper and lingers like a hot n spicey meal. A dark yet uplifting ode to those testing times in life in all of the ups and downs. Deep, personal and yet universal. Well crafted, well played and as we say here: toppermost. Artful, heartfelt and sincere, this really is a lost classic.
Track Six – PRODUCTION OF FUNDS
Free and scratchy funky-soul motion with a no-wave twist that digs at one of the big creative issue that won’t ever change, art versus cash! Remixed deftly by Colin Bryce from the master tapes and serves as a sublime snapshot form this entire era in terms of sonics with that James Brown meets MC5 glow.
Track Seven – TESTIFY
Taken from the BOOM E.P. A no nonsense, what you see is what you get, garage soul blaster. You can almost still smell the fish soup, weed and patties from the room above the reggae record store that was HQ at the time.
Track Eight – CAFE OF THE FOR
The Two Tone influence is evident here, that mixes with a big punky guitar sound that somehow works against the lyrics of alienation, tedium and the like. Nifty brass stabs build and drift against the wall of sound from the guitar, bass and beat. Live and direct from Montreal 1984!
Track Nine – BOMB SHAKES THE DANCHALL
‘Bomb’ being a hand-drawn character from the sleeve of the first EP, etched into the Bryce imagination dancing on the death of Politics as we know it. Wild sax from Dave Brown ply against Clint Bowmans’ throbbing bass lines with Eloi Bertholet holding it all together with his fine skin-work and proves time and again on this collection that some drummers can also sing! Nice controlled feedback and flourishes from Colin Bryce on guitar and for some odd reason this somehow reminds me of a certain Boris the Spider???
Track Ten – FACE UP!
Another live treat form Montreal ‘84, tight and vibrant sounding, a band really at their peak with everything falling into place yet not sounding over-played and bland. The powerpop punky-funk spirit is alive and kicking here for sure! The balance is just prefect!
Track Eleven – TESTIFY (Live)
Another live alternative workout form Montreal ‘84, with nice high energy !
Track Twelve – PUNCH
Rolling tom toms and floating and whooping sax lines underpin this steady mid-tempo affair then at 2:20 all hell seems to let loose, nice!
Track Thirteen – PRODUCTION OF FUNDS (Live)
Another live alternative workout form Montreal ‘84, with nice call and response and a bit of muttered swearing thrown in!
Track Fouteen – NUMBER ONE
The virgin tune with refreshed remix, bright and poppy and likeable and illustrates the bands ability to sometimes push to the boundary of chaotic implosion yet veer nicely into complete control. A dancey ska infested beat, this track was much loved by CFRW and top DJ Lee Marshal in particular who even took in the odd live show. Has the familar sound of a lost classic. Some bright arsed advertising guru should grab this as a soundtrack pronto.
Track Fifteen – RELUCTANT HOST
A tight locked in type of groove with a roots rocker vibe that bounces nicely along recalling youthful summer daze, partying with unwanted annoying guests that turn hosted fun parties into latent doss houses, with a superb guitar break and we really love that effective door slam at the end of the piece! Mighty! The art of gate-crashing is a fine thing!
Track Sixteen – OVER THE TOP
Another live take with a light anti-war guilding via Trenchtown with natty bugle calls in response to a bouncey backdrop.
Track Seventeen – X (Live)
More live mayhem from Montreal with this one comparing nicely alongside the tighter and cleaner studio version.
Track Seventeen – SEE YOU!
And so ‘bye, bye!’ it is to this interesting and diverse assortment of tracks, sounds and styles that collide and smash but always cut a dash! This final track points what could have been the way ahead for this fine outfit, a more ‘feelgood’ raw rnb seemd to be looming with a subtle hint on display here.
My final thoughts are that this is a well thought out and well packaged VFM product that is an honest and warm snapshot to an underground era that chucked up an almost earnest, innocent way of making music that proudly wore its influences yet steered clear of simply copying them without filter. It therefore shows that the sound clashed to provide new and inspiring versions that assimilated and embraced the traditional forms without being servants or slaves. That slight tension, twisting and distortion is what made bands like The Dub Rifles so much less bland that much of todays clone-like masses thats simply did not have the day to day struggles to draw from in the same way. Maybe thats a little over generalised but being original and hard to fathom is something to via for. Do yourself a favour and grab a copy of this one!
Formed in Brighton in November 2012, I Like The GoGo have pushed their way, kicking and screaming into the front of UK Garage scene. Their release of self titled E.P “I Like The GoGo” in the winter of 2012 saw them firmly establishing themselves amongst their peers, with fans such as Billy Childish and Nick Cave singing their praises. Recorded on to tape at the Rat Rooms in London, producer Tim Garratt realised the importance of the “raw sound” the boys were creating and produced each track in such a way as to capture that energy. Along with collaboration from friend and poet “The Freewheelin Troubadour” I Like The GoGo’s E.P was hailed as one of the stand out British garage E.P’s of 2013 with numerous plays on Radio 6, Cutters Choice Radio and BBC South.
These “two shouty fellas” (Benn and Ross) then went on to do a series of gigs including numerous support slots with friends and fellow punk two piece “Slaves” and the ”Fat White Family” as well as supporting “Shannon and the Clams” in the summer of 2013. These live shows are what have given Benn and Ross their reputation as pure raw sound makers. Well timed drums, screeching guitars whilst matched with shouty vocals and tight harmonies make this sharp looking two-piece a powerhouse when it comes to their live shows.
Now with the release of their video for single “Crystal Rock” in tow as well as a short summer tour with band “Weak Nerves”, Benn and Ross are looking forward to bringing what they do to the rest of the UK. “Crystal Rock” infuses all the energy the band has including those tight shouty harmonies. Showing the bands influences, including British Punk and 60’s Garage, Crystal Rock’s four chord structure is catchy and immediately recognisable. Shot on Super 8 film the videos director, Chris Hugall, was keen to shoot a video that really captured the spirit and nature of song as well as the boys. Chris’s unique style of shooting (made popular through recent Slaves video “Where’s Your Car Debbie”) really complemented the visual aspects that the boys were trying to produce in their music proving “Crystal Rock” to be the perfect video to be released in conjunction with their May tour.
01. How did your band get together?
I Like The GoGo were founded in the summer of 2012. Friends, (Benn and Ross) after both playing in various bands decided that it was time to do something a bit different and so started up a two piece. After a few practices and a fair amount of alcohol, I Like The GoGo was formed.
02. Where did your name come from?
The name came from a random drunk night at one of the boy’s friend’s houses. An obscure Vietnamese Rhythm and Blues track was being played which had the lyrics “I like the gogo”. It was immediately snapped up! Also they are a fan of the female The Go Go’s (happy coincidence).
03. Who were your major influences and inspirations?
Benn and Ross both came to the band with very different influences and was complete pot luck that they worked. Benn’s background in punk music lead him to listen to bands such as The Clash, The Gories ect.
Whereas Ross’s 60’s Soul/Garage influences help to compliment the driving guitar sound, with influences such as Shocking Blue, The Blue Comets and various 60’s Garage Punk bands.
04. What drove you to make music together?
They started making music just out of a general necessity to make noise and make good raucous music.
05. What can someone who has never seen you live before expect from your shows?
The live shows are where I Like The GoGo come into their own. As one reviewer put it “I was hit in the face by the big bulgy sounds of I Like The GoGo). It’s the boys aim to get everyone dancing and if you’re not, you’ll get pulled up on stage and made to sing a solo.
06. Who writes your songs? What types of themes and subjects do you deal with?
Ben will normally have the melody for the song, bring it too rehearsal and Ross will pick up on the drum beat. Words come later as for the boys, its all about the driving energy of the tunes. The song’s subjects are fairly common with tunes about girls and booze being at the forefront. Their latest video release for single “Crystal Rock” is all about love, but proving that a love song doesn’t’ have to be mushy and will get you dancing.
07. How has your music evolved since you first began playing together?
When they started playing the boys had a very clear idea as to what they wanted to achieve. Most of the songs that they started writing at the start they are still performing live today.
08. What has been your biggest challenge as a band? How were you able to overcome this?
The biggest challenge the boys have is yet to come. Their summer tour starts on May the 16th so we are yet to see if they will sink or swim.
09. Does the band play covers? If so, do you argue over the choice of songs? Who usually gets his own way?
I Like The GoGo try not to play covers but during a few recent gigs they have taken to covering “Geno” by Dexy’s Midnight Runners. Proving to be a popular favourite amongst fans and peers alike.
10. What do you love and hate outside of music?
They love sitting on a beach and drinking… that’s about it. They hate when a bartender calls last orders.
11. Who would you most like to record with?
They would love to record with anyone! But have been approached by Billy Childish who offered the boys to record at his studio so who knows what will happen there.
12. What should we be expecting from the band in the near future?
In the near future you will expect to see the band hopefully live somewhere near you! With the release of their Video for single Crystal Rock and a new E.P on the way the future is looking bright for these two fuzzy fellas from Brighton.
16th May, Tubman, Hastings
17th May, Mothers Ruin, Bristol
18th May, Old Blue Last, London
19th May, Jacks Basement, Manchester
20th May, Sanctuary, Basingstoke
Leadfoot Tea is a one man trash ‘n’ roll band. In the style of the late great rockabilly madman Leadfoot Tea uses just a bass drum, high hat and a guitar to rock up a storm of sound! Eyeplug joined the fast lane to try and flag down this speedy main driver recently…
It started a year or so ago by messing around in my studio, trying out different mics and experimenting with recording techniques, after a few recordings I started writing more songs and decided to try it out live.
02 Where did your name come from?
The name came from firstly my love of american cars with large V8 engines and I like driving ‘em fast with a ‘leadfoot’ using lots of gas! And secondly because of my heavy leadfoot on the bass drum pedal, the Tea is well… I dunno I’ve always been Lee Tea
03 Who were your major influences and inspirations and who do you despise?
I guess my main influence would be the late great Hasil Adkins, mostly his raw sound and unhinged lyrics. Also a whole host of 40’s blues, trashy country and wierd rockabilly, anything on the trashy lo-fi side of rock‘n’roll. I dont despise anything, if I dont like it I dont listen to it!
04 What drove you to make music?
I guess getting my first electric guitar around 16 years old, I bought a cheap distortion pedal and never really looked back.
05 What can someone who has never seen you live before expect from your live shows then & possibly even now?
Well… expect a very noisy trashy sound with barely audible vocals. I’m a one man band so I try to make as much noise as I possibly can, sometimes at the expense of the music, but it makes me happy and if I’m having fun the audience usually has a good laugh at least 🙂 I guess in the future the sound will calm down a bit as I add more blues stuff to the set, or maybe not…..
06 Who writes your songs? What types of themes and subjects do you deal with?
I write all my own stuff, although most of the songs come out from jams and are sometimes a bit improvised, as I change each song from gig to gig depending on my mood. My themes are mostly cars, driving too fast, drinking to much, partying to hard, pin-ups and underpants!
07 How did your music evolved since you first began playing?
Well interestingly it started off fairly refined and laid back, in a country blues style, then it it just got wilder and crazier, I’m not really sure where it’s gonna go from here!
08 What has been your biggest challenge as a one man band? Were you been able to overcome this? If so, how?
The biggest challenge is keeping it all together on stage, it does takes a huge amount of energy just to play even a half hour set, add in a couple of pints to the equation and it all too easily goes pear shaped. Yes, I overcame it by lots of rehearsing to build up the stamina, and by not drinking before the gig, although that is the part I’m finding the hardest!
09 Do you play covers? If you could pick any song, which would you like to cover most and why?
Yes I always do at least one Hasil Adkins cover in my set, sometimes two or three! I also cover some Gravemen songs now and then. I would love to a cover of Hasil’s ‘We got a date, I need your head’ mostly cause its Haze, but also because its one of the wierdest of all his songs, just really creepy, I love it!
10 Where did you envisage the band being in five years time?
Not sure, I’m hopefully going to record and release a couple of 45’s within the year and sometime within the next five years would like to get an album out, got plenty of songs just need to get ’em down on vinyl.
11 Who would you most like to record with?
Not sure, difficult, as I’m a one man band I would be happy to record with anyone who can stand my racket.
12 What should we be expecting from Leadfoot Tea in the near future?
I got a few gigs lined up, the Gutterball Festival in Oslo in mid September, plus a couple festivals booked for next year. Once I got some records released I will do a tour or two around Europe, maybe next summer I reckon, so look out for the guy with the mask, the red shirt and real lo-fi sound, that’ll be me!