Post-Punk

Covering the most diverse and nebulous of musical subgenres in a suitably eclectic manner, Eyeplug’s post punk paradise recognises no boundaries. Everything from the animalistic acapella of Furious Pig to the diaphanous dubscapes of dystopian rock can be found under this brutalist roof.

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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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Jeff Monk LP Reviews Dec 2017

Ruby Rose Fox: Domestic (Independent)

Most music fans would agree that sometimes you don’t find any true artistic jewels unless you spend time digging through and then past what is generally on offer from the mainstream musical mine. Take for example New England artiste Ruby Rose Fox. On her latest album, the enthralling “Domestic”, she delivers a diverse assortment of songs that effectively define a new genre. From the very first track (“Freedom Fighter”) Ms. Fox unfailingly grabs your attention. Her voice is a like a controlled lava flow of emotional highs and lows that bears practically no comparison to anything you have heard. Caught between a feral moan and orgasmic croon she owns an expansive operatic breadth. To harness this power is not what Fox does but within the context of her music instead wreaks a honeyed havoc. Her songwriting is thoughtful and her fabulous, multi-layered musical accompanists reach precipitous heights perfectly transporting her voice where it needs to be. The lush panoramic sweep of “O’Roy” reveals a tendency towards a kind of Phil Spector-ish construct, starting quietly and then gradually building energy throughout. The secluded funk of “Pain Killer” (“What if I slit my wrists and you were my last call and you found out on your Facebook wall?”) may not please your average Adele fan but delivers at least as much dark gravitas as anything being palmed off on the masses commercially. There are tidbits for the seekers here including mention of Rosemary Kennedy (“Rock Bottom”), Coco Chanel (“Dirty Dog”), and Dutch Reagan (“Ronald Reagan Killed The Radio”). There is even an abuse/revenge fantasy track (“Every Time I Tell”) that really needs to be heard by a wider audience in these times. Fox is not the kind of artist you can hear without being affected by what she does and her matchless voice and inventive songcraft make for a singularly engaging listening experience.

(14 Tracks/52 minutes)

GRAB A COPY HERE

Jeff Monk


The Inmates: The Albums 1979-1982 (Captain Oi!/Cherry Red Records)

During a recording career that is spanned in this 3CD box (1979-1982) U.K. quintet The Inmates managed to enjoy the succulent taste of chart success for a short but sweet moment. The band didn’t actually boast a unique sound for the time yet they successfully carved out a special place in the hearts of many post pub-rock music fans on both sides of the Atlantic. Considering the overt Dr. Feelgood/Rockpile vibe going on with this band they still had a lot going for them and that is what should get your money flowing in the direction of this set as soon as possible.

The box contains the first three albums in reproduction album jackets along with a 20-page booklet. Both “First Offence” and “Shot In The Dark” were commercially available at the time of their release but third album “Heatwave In Alaska” was only released in France due to a record company change at the time. As CDs the trio have only ever been available in Japan so to have them all together in one neat unit is a boon to fans, myself included. Each disc has bonus material.

“First Offence” contains their only (U.S.) hit single in the cover of The Standell’s 1966 garage rock stormer “Dirty Water”. The album was produced by the legendary Vic Maile (Motorhead, The Pirates, Dr. Feelgood, The Who) and there is no doubt that he felt the band under his guidance could become the new, younger Dr. Feelgood sans the personality and songwriting challenges that band presented. With guitarist/songwriter Peter “Gunn” Staines heavy on the pen “Mr. Unreliable” is a real standout here as it reaches back just enough to sound like old school garage rock yet has enough modern attitude to get high marks. The overt slow blues of “If Time Could Turn Backwards” finds the band in a distinctive mode yet one in which they sound completely comfortable and right. The album also features The Rumour horn section on a few tracks including the Feelgoods’ homage “Love Got Me”.

“Shot In The Dark” (1980) continues the themes of balancing Staines originals with fittingly cool cover songs. Obviously “Talk Talk” (origin. 1966 The Music Machine) was geared to replicate the success of the previous album hit “Dirty Water”. While the song is wonderfully done here it couldn’t duplicate the path cleared by the previous work and when the band was touring behind the album in the U.S. the murder of John Lennon found “SITD” pulled from playlists due to its unintentionally insensitive title. With their momentum stalled The Inmates returned to the U.K. to find that their label Radar Records had been folded into the monolithic WEA brand. There are a lot of great songs on this album including this writer’s personal favorites “Tell Me What’s Wrong”, “Why When Love Is Gone” and the memorably charming “Crime Don’t Pay”.

1982’s “Heatwave In Alaska” was only released in France likely due to the aforementioned label change leaving the band absorbed into a sea of talent that kept them at a tier below new label mates and heavy-hitters Rockpile, Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe. It’s a solid album nevertheless. The songwriting expanded to include drummer Jim Russell (“Three Little Sisters”) and bass man Ben Donnelly for the album opener “She’s Gone Rockin’”. Gunn/Staines again offers the albums’ best tracks: “Broken Hearted” a soul blues blend that singer Bill Hurley nails perfectly and the similar tough/tender “Unhappy Boy”. There are signs of the band extending their reach just a little here and new producer Stuart Colman (Shakin’ Stevens, Jeff Beck) did a good job attempting to modernize The Inmates.

In the end, as always, it comes down to being in the right place at the right time and The Inmates, sadly, missed those occasions by a hair’s breadth. For fans this box is a pleasant reminder of what could have been and a testament to the solid songwriting and sound of this band.

(Disc 1 – First Offence: 44 minutes/15 tracks, Disc Two – Shot In The Dark: 50 minutes/17 tracks, Disc Three – Heatwave In Alaska: 44 minutes/14 tracks)

GRAB A COPY HERE

Jeff Monk


V/A: Night Comes Down – 60s British Mod, R&B, Freakbeat & Swinging London Nuggets (Cherry Red Recordings/RPM)

This expansive three CD collectors’ set aims to connect the dots between artists that may already be in your collection and the bands that they may have been members in the so-called “time before”. With pop music becoming hugely popular during the 1960s’ there were enormous quantities of young (and older) people working hard trying to get their songs recorded, pinning hope against hope that they could perhaps become stars in their own right. For a lot of the bands on this compilation the gold ring of wider success would be forever beyond their grasp yet when you cherry pick the best songs, as the seemingly untiring and wise John Reed has done on “NCD”, it feels as though the times were perhaps just a little unfair. The box set is so utterly extensive and wonderful that it’s rather difficult to drill any deeper than Reed and crew have done. The liner notes are detailed and include dates, places, times and players practically perfectly. Some of the names contained herein will be recognizable to even the most casual fans: Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated, The Moody Blues, Chad & Jeremy, The Deviants, Spencer Davis Group, Twiggy(!) and The Crazy World of Arthur Brown all made some waves beyond the U.K. scene. On balance though “NCD” digs deep into the vaults of long forgotten independent labels like Ember and President Records while the greats and near-greats like Decca, Track, Polydor, Parlophone and Columbia are here in full force as well.

While it is difficult to pick favorites when faced with a set that contains 87 tracks repeated listenings would have you loving some of these songs instantly while others will move quickly into the grower category. Obviously, those songs that feature players that moved on to bigger and better opportunities after these releases get the highest relevance rating for deep collectors. Look for names like future-state Deep Purple dude Ritchie Blackmore (Heinz and The Wild Boys), Motorhead man Lemmy Kilmister (The Rocking Vicars), early Manfred Mann-er Mike D’Abo (A Band Of Angels), Yes guitar god Steve Howe (The In Crowd) and Mott The Hoople and Bad Co. axeman Mick Ralphs (Doc Thomas Group). Having said that anyone that has any more than a cursory interest in collecting obscure freakbeat, R’n’B and instrumental music will be happy to find the specific nuggets they need here to further their awareness and perhaps even springboard off into more exclusive vistas of musical discovery. You too could become the next collector of rare The Gnomes of Zurich, Oliver Bone, Rusty Harness, The Brothers Grimm or The Clockwork Oranges singles and elpees!

(CD One: 30 tracks – 79 minutes, CD Two: 30 tracks – 79 minutes, CD Three: 27 tracks – 79 minutes).

Each CD comes in full colour cardboard sleeve with track listings plus 36 page full colour booklet featuring detailed notes on each track.

BUY A COPY HERE

Jeff Monk

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.

More Posts - Website

Jeff Monk LP Reviews July 2017

The Inmates: The Albums 1979-1982 (Captain Oi!/Cherry Red Records)

During a recording career that is spanned in this 3CD box (1979-1982) U.K. quintet The Inmates managed to enjoy the succulent taste of chart success for a short but sweet moment. The band didn’t actually boast a unique sound for the time yet they successfully carved out a special place in the hearts of many post pub-rock music fans on both sides of the Atlantic. Considering the overt Dr. Feelgood/Rockpile vibe going on with this band they still had a lot going for them and that is what should get your money flowing in the direction of this set as soon as possible.

The box contains the first three albums in reproduction album jackets along with a 20-page booklet. Both “First Offence” and “Shot In The Dark” were commercially available at the time of their release but third album “Heatwave In Alaska” was only released in France due to a record company change at the time. As CDs the trio have only ever been available in Japan so to have them all together in one neat unit is a boon to fans, myself included. Each disc has bonus material.

“First Offence” contains their only (U.S.) hit single in the cover of The Standell’s 1966 garage rock stormer “Dirty Water”. The album was produced by the legendary Vic Maile (Motorhead, The Pirates, Dr. Feelgood, The Who) and there is no doubt that he felt the band under his guidance could become the new, younger Dr. Feelgood sans the personality and songwriting challenges that band presented. With guitarist/songwriter Peter “Gunn” Staines heavy on the pen “Mr. Unreliable” is a real standout here as it reaches back just enough to sound like old school garage rock yet has enough modern attitude to get high marks. The overt slow blues of “If Time Could Turn Backwards” finds the band in a distinctive mode yet one in which they sound completely comfortable and right. The album also features The Rumour horn section on a few tracks including the Feelgoods’ homage “Love Got Me”.

“Shot In The Dark” (1980) continues the themes of balancing Staines originals with fittingly cool cover songs. Obviously “Talk Talk” (origin. 1966 The Music Machine) was geared to replicate the success of the previous album hit “Dirty Water”. While the song is wonderfully done here it couldn’t duplicate the path cleared by the previous work and when the band was touring behind the album in the U.S. the murder of John Lennon found “SITD” pulled from playlists due to its unintentionally insensitive title. With their momentum stalled The Inmates returned to the U.K. to find that their label Radar Records had been folded into the monolithic WEA brand. There are a lot of great songs on this album including this writer’s personal favorites “Tell Me What’s Wrong”, “Why When Love Is Gone” and the memorably charming “Crime Don’t Pay”.

1982’s “Heatwave In Alaska” was only released in France likely due to the aforementioned label change leaving the band absorbed into a sea of talent that kept them at a tier below new label mates and heavy-hitters Rockpile, Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe. It’s a solid album nevertheless. The songwriting expanded to include drummer Jim Russell (“Three Little Sisters”) and bass man Ben Donnelly for the album opener “She’s Gone Rockin’”. Gunn/Staines again offers the albums’ best tracks: “Broken Hearted” a soul blues blend that singer Bill Hurley nails perfectly and the similar tough/tender “Unhappy Boy”. There are signs of the band extending their reach just a little here and new producer Stuart Colman (Shakin’ Stevens, Jeff Beck) did a good job attempting to modernize The Inmates.

In the end, as always, it comes down to being in the right place at the right time and The Inmates, sadly, missed those occasions by a hair’s breadth. For fans this box is a pleasant reminder of what could have been and a testament to the solid songwriting and sound of this band.

(Disc 1 – First Offence: 44 minutes/15 tracks, Disc Two – Shot In The Dark: 50 minutes/17 tracks, Disc Three – Heatwave In Alaska: 44 minutes/14 tracks)

GRAB A COPY HERE

Jeff Monk


V/A: Night Comes Down – 60s British Mod, R&B, Freakbeat & Swinging London Nuggets (Cherry Red Recordings/RPM)

This expansive three CD collectors’ set aims to connect the dots between artists that may already be in your collection and the bands that they may have been members in the so-called “time before”. With pop music becoming hugely popular during the 1960s’ there were enormous quantities of young (and older) people working hard trying to get their songs recorded, pinning hope against hope that they could perhaps become stars in their own right. For a lot of the bands on this compilation the gold ring of wider success would be forever beyond their grasp yet when you cherry pick the best songs, as the seemingly untiring and wise John Reed has done on “NCD”, it feels as though the times were perhaps just a little unfair. The box set is so utterly extensive and wonderful that it’s rather difficult to drill any deeper than Reed and crew have done. The liner notes are detailed and include dates, places, times and players practically perfectly. Some of the names contained herein will be recognizable to even the most casual fans: Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated, The Moody Blues, Chad & Jeremy, The Deviants, Spencer Davis Group, Twiggy(!) and The Crazy World of Arthur Brown all made some waves beyond the U.K. scene. On balance though “NCD” digs deep into the vaults of long forgotten independent labels like Ember and President Records while the greats and near-greats like Decca, Track, Polydor, Parlophone and Columbia are here in full force as well.

While it is difficult to pick favorites when faced with a set that contains 87 tracks repeated listenings would have you loving some of these songs instantly while others will move quickly into the grower category. Obviously, those songs that feature players that moved on to bigger and better opportunities after these releases get the highest relevance rating for deep collectors. Look for names like future-state Deep Purple dude Ritchie Blackmore (Heinz and The Wild Boys), Motorhead man Lemmy Kilmister (The Rocking Vicars), early Manfred Mann-er Mike D’Abo (A Band Of Angels), Yes guitar god Steve Howe (The In Crowd) and Mott The Hoople and Bad Co. axeman Mick Ralphs (Doc Thomas Group). Having said that anyone that has any more than a cursory interest in collecting obscure freakbeat, R’n’B and instrumental music will be happy to find the specific nuggets they need here to further their awareness and perhaps even springboard off into more exclusive vistas of musical discovery. You too could become the next collector of rare The Gnomes of Zurich, Oliver Bone, Rusty Harness, The Brothers Grimm or The Clockwork Oranges singles and elpees!

(CD One: 30 tracks – 79 minutes, CD Two: 30 tracks – 79 minutes, CD Three: 27 tracks – 79 minutes).

Each CD comes in full colour cardboard sleeve with track listings plus 36 page full colour booklet featuring detailed notes on each track.

BUY A COPY HERE

Jeff Monk

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.

More Posts - Website

Artifact, Part 4 – Longjohn Reviews

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Creation -Artifact

Artifact – The Dawn Of Creation Records

Cherry Red CRCDBOX19

The final two discs (4 & 5) on Creation Artifact – The Dawn of Creation Records 1983-85, are devoted to demo recordings and BBC Sessions which were hosted by Janice Long and the late John Peel. It is to some extent generally agreed that demos and BBC sessions are a hard sell for casual music fans, and the question that might be asked is do we really need a pile of old scrappy recordings and demos from bands that were not exactly household names? On the other hand if you are a rabid fan of obscure Indie bands and share the same obsession for music as the late John Peel then these discs will be a welcome inclusion on the Artifact box set.

Listening to demos is a good way for the listener to see how a song develops into the finished article. However, it is rather difficult to get a feel for the entire recording process here, as the tracks on disc 4 have to a large extent been completed. Some of the recordings have variable sound quality and some of the bands and in particular Biff Bang Pow! have an amateurish lo-fi quality, which would not have sounded out of place on the Pebbles and Back From The Grave compilation albums.

However, the bonus of having these demos included on the Artifact box set is that some of these tracks are finally seeing the light of day for the first time. There are three songs included from Meat Whiplash, and their only other known recording was the Jim Reid produced single Don’t Slip Up, (which is included on disc 1). It is a shame that these tracks were never officially released as Meat Whiplash have been unfairly tagged as a Jesus & Mary Chain clone, and what the fuzz guitar drenched Losing Your Grip, Always Sunday and Walk Away demonstrate was that Meat Whiplash had promise that was never
quite fulfilled.

The other highlights on disc 4 are The Jasmine Minks, who have five songs included here, but superior versions of these songs can be found on discs one and two of the Artifact box set, and the Cut Me Deep (The Anthology 1984 – 2014) compilation. The inclusion of the X Men also boosts this disc considerably and A Tryst For Liszt, Stone Cold One Note Mind, Home and Planet Of The X all have that exuberant and infectiously poppier take on the Pyschobilly genre.

The final disc in the Artifact box set comprises BBC Sessions, and it would be fair to say that for most musicians a spot on the John Peel show was a coveted slot indeed. These sessions gave the artists a chance to reach a national audience, and even though many of the bands did not necessarily have any notion to be famous, a John Peel session did their chances of some success no harm at all.

The Loft, The Bodines, The Jasmine Minks, The Moodists, The X Men and Meat Whiplash are all included here, and almost without exception John Peel was one of the very few people to give these bands valuable airplay, and it is thanks to Peel that many of the releases by these bands ended up in our record collections.

The BBC Sessions on this disc do not really reveal anything that has not been heard already on the previous 4 discs, and in hindsight it might have been more beneficial to include (if available) on this disc some dialogue between John Peel and the artists who appeared on his show, and ultimately including two discs of demos and BBC Sessions does feel a bit repetitious as superior versions of some of these songs already appear on the first three discs, which makes discs four and five for rabid music fans and completists only.

Many of the bands included on Artifact are to some extent long forgotten, which makes this box set such a timely welcome. The success of Creation Records was built on the foundations of these pioneers, and although the quality of the output is variable there is still more than enough to keep listeners happy for many hours, and for better or worse this is where the story of Creation Records begun and the rest as they say is history. BUY HERE!

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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Artifact, Part 3 – Longjohn Reviews

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Creation -Artifact

Artifact – The Dawn Of Creation Records

Cherry Red CRCDBOX19

The third disc on the Creation Artifact – The Dawn of Creation Records 1983-85 is a mixed bag of assorted tracks, which cover a few singles, demos, album tracks and live performances, which were recorded at Alan McGee’s weekly club night The Living Room. This event was held in a tiny room above a pub in central London and it served an important purpose in that it gave a lot of unknown bands some much needed live exposure, and it provided McGee with the income to start Creation Records.

The money Alan McGee made from The Living Room was used to produce records by the bands that played at this weekly event. The studio time afforded to these bands in the fledgling years of Creation was pivotal as it gave them the time to hone and perfect their sound. Even more importantly these bands had a passionate music fan in McGee, who respected them as artists and always made sure that what profits were available was distributed evenly among the bands, and more importantly any surplus income was used to fund the release of
their records.

Alan McGee’s first band The Laughing Apple also featured Primal Scream guitarist Andrew Innes, and they recorded three singles for their own Autonomy label, including Participate/Wouldn’t You this single is featured here with McGee on bass. Participate in particular is a bruising slice of minimal post-punk, and you can’t help disagreeing with the self deprecating McGee, who felt prompted to start his own record label because he came to the conclusion that as a musician he was not particularly good.

Biff Bang Pow! reappear on disc three with an alternative version of Fifty Years of Fun and Waterbomb. The aforementioned is almost identical to the single version featured on disc 1 while Waterbomb is an unremarkable instrumental, which featured on their 1985 debut album Pass the Paintbrush Honey.

Not much is known about J.C Brouchard only that he is French and he is a fanatical fan of the brilliant Indie band Felt. His fanaticism is such that he even penned a (rather hard to find) book about the band called Felt, Ballad of the Fan in 2011. However, Brouchard did a bit of moonlighting as a recording artist in the 1980s, cut a single with Biff Bang Pow! in 1985. The swirling dreamy psychedelic inspired Someone Stole My Wheels/Sunny Days has all the jangly psych pop hallmarks that were associated with Creation acts at the time, and this somewhat melancholic single is a real hidden jangle pop gem and a welcome inclusion on this disc.

The Revolving Paint Dream also pops up again with an early version of the single In The Afternoon. This single is possibly sung by Andrew Innes, and although this is a pleasantly surreal recording it has the feel of a demo and does not capture the essence of the official single (on disc one of Artifact), which featured the beautifully breathy and fragile vocals of Christina Wanless.

The Bodines have an alternative version of God Bless featured here, which is identical to the original on disc two and you could question the merits of its inclusion here. Two tracks by The Jasmine Minks The Thirty Second Set Up and Somers Town, are taken from their 1984 debut One Two Three Four Five Six Seven, All Good Preachers Go To Heaven album. Both of these tracks blend the energy of post-punk and 1960s melodic pop, and The Jasmine Minks deliver these songs with their usual soulful verve and energy.

The Jesus & Mary Chain have a couple of demos included here and the first is an early version of their debut single Upside Down, which is a fuzz driven garage monster that almost captures the drenched in violence ear bleeding assault of the original single, which is featured on disc two of Artifact. However, the real surprise here is the demo of Just Like Honey, which is arguably better than the original version of the song that opens their 1985 debut album Pyschocandy. This version of Just Like Honey is a tambourine and acoustically driven track, with just a hint of electric guitar coming in at the midway point of the song. To describe a song by The Jesus & Mary Chain in their 1984-85 period as fragile and gentle is a bit of an anomaly, but that is exactly what this song is, and it is quite brilliant and could have been released as a single in its own right.

The Membranes formed in 1977 and have released a slew of singles and albums spanning an almost 40-year career. They recorded one album The Gift of Life on Creation in 1985 and two tracks from this album are included here. I Am Fish Eye and Gift of Life are delivered with sledgehammer abandon and are a discordant blend of experimental noise and distortion. How many people can claim to have heard of The Membranes? It seems remarkable that this band are not more well-known, but as these two tracks demonstrate The Membranes were very influential and this influence surely must have rubbed off on Sonic Youth, and one listen to their albums Goo and Daydream Nation may just clarify
that influence.

The very first album release on Creation Records was Alive In The Living Room. This album consisted of live recordings between 1983 and 1984 and these tracks, including a few bonus live tracks are also included on this disc. The first thing that will strike the listener is the poor sound quality of the recordings. Apparently members of the audience were roped in to help with these live recordings, and they were given hand-held recorders to capture the whole live experience of the bands who played at The Living Room.

The poor sound quality also highlights another problem and that is with the bands themselves. Many of them seem to be willfully incompetent live and the shambolic mess of these live gigs is epitomized by The Legend (AKA Jerry Thackray) in particular, who seems to take a delightful glee in his own incompetence as a musician, when he ironically announces to the audience that he will play Arrogant Bastards slow because he does not know any chords.

However, a shambolic live performance can still be an absolutely powerful and defining moment for the band and audience. So the live tracks featured here are not total disasters, and the stand out moments are The Jasmine Minks cover of the Love Garage-Punk classic 7 & 7 is, and The Television Personalities A Picture of Dorian Gray. There is a charm in the amateurish so-called musicianship to some of these live recordings, and if you are a fan of shambolic pop then you will appreciate these recordings, but will no doubt be put off by the poor sound quality, which make them sound nothing more than unofficial bootleg releases.

Stayed tuned for the final installment of the Creation Artifact series as we take a closer look at discs 4 and 5. BUY HERE!

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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