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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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June 16, 2015 By : Category : Post-punk 0 Comment

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.

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July 12, 2017 By : Category : Blues Eyeplugs Front page Modernist Post-punk Reviews Tags:, , , ,
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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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November 14, 2015 By : Category : Features Front page Indie Post-punk Reviews Tags:, , ,
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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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November 5, 2015 By : Category : Features Front page Indie Post-punk Reviews Tags:, , ,
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Artifact, Part 2 – Longjohn Reviews

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Creation -Artifact

Artifact – The Dawn Of Creation Records

Cherry Red CRCDBOX19

The second disc on Artifact – The Dawn of Creation Records 1983 – 85 contains the rest of the singles from this period, and a fitting way to kick off this disc is to unleash the full throttle ear bleeding assault of crude noise makers The Jesus & Mary Chain. The East Kilbride upstarts released just the one single on Creation Records, and what an explosive debut this record was. Upside Down and its B-side, Syd Barrett’s darkly satirical Vegetable Man was the blue print for the industrial white noise fest of J&MC seminal Pyschocandy album.

The Jesus & Mary Chain became one of the most divisive and controversial bands of the 1980s. Their live appearances were notoriously shambolic, and the band played with wrecked instruments, including a bass with just 2 strings and a drum kit that contained only 2 snare drums. This minimalist approach and seemingly total disregard for their craft was deceiving as brothers Jim and William Reid were music obsessives and were enthralled to 1960s pop in the shape of Phil Spector’s girl groups and The Beach Boys.

The Jesus & Mary Chain seemed to blend the cacophonous noise of the Velvet Underground’s White Light, White Heat and Sister Ray with songs that appeared to be influenced by 1960s Brill Building pop. Upside Down is a scary, brooding, violent mess of a song and it could be argued that this record was single-handedly one of the biggest influence on the nascent Shoe Gaze scene.

Their cover of Vegetable Man is incredible and it would be fair to say that Syd Barrett’s songs were too precious, disturbingly beautiful and uniquely him that no one should go anywhere near them. However, The Jesus & Mary Chain capture the essence of Vegetable Man and convincingly put their own musically chaotic stamp on this track, without making it appear like a pale imitation of
the original.

The absurdly named Meat Whiplash also came from East Kilbride and they released only one single on Creation Records in September 1985. They can claim some notoriety for being the opening act at the infamous North London Polytechnic gig headlined by The Jesus & Mary Chain, in which Meat Whiplash guitarist Stephen McLean threw a glass bottle in to the crowd, which proved to be the catalyst for a riot. The single Don’t Slip Up and its B-side Here It Comes are both fuzz guitar wig outs, with vocals seemingly recorded in the far distance to the point of being inaudible. Although this single owes something of an obvious debt to the Jesus & Mary Chain, it was still distinctive enough to earn a number 3 place on the indie charts, where it spent an incredible 13 weeks.

Taking their name from an Enid Blyton children’s novel, Five Go Down To The Sea recorded a 12” single at the tail end of 1985 featuring Singing In Braille, Aunt Nelly and Silk Brain Worm Women. These three tracks are unique in that they sound like nothing else on disc 2 of Artifact, and Five Go Down To The Sea obviously did not care about commercial success and seemed happy to make a discordant induced noise with crunching guitar riffs, pounding drums and nonsensical lyrics, which suggest that Captain Beefheart may have been an influence on this group.

Derbyshire four piece The Bodines recorded just three singles for Creation Records and featured here is the 1985 single God Bless/Paradise. This particular single has an Echo and the Bunnymen feel with its choppy guitar sound and high tempo, which was almost typical of that 1980s indie guitar sound and this particular single it could be argued was a direct influence on the nascent jangle pop scene, in which The Bodines were an integral part of as their subsequent single Therese featured on the NME’s influential C86 cassette.

Melbourne band The Moodists only made a fleeting appearance on Creation, and included here is the 12” EP Justice and Money Too; You’ve Got Your Story and Take Us All Home. The Moodists already had 2 albums under their belt prior to cutting this EP with Creation, and apparently the EP was recorded in a day and it is perhaps this haste, which makes this record a little unremarkable and hard to distinguish from other more well-known Creation acts on this disc like the The Bodines and The Jasmine Minks.

Biff, Bang, Pow, The Jasmine Minks, The Loft and The Pastels all make a reappearance on disc 2, and normal service is resumed as the jangle maestros all pitch in with shambling melodic pop that is almost typical of what you would except from bands signed to Creation Records in this period. Love & Hate by Biff, Bang, Pow yet again doffs its jingle jangle cap to 1960s British Psychedelia and What’s Happening/Black & Blue by The Jasmine Minks are both sung with plenty of soul, and this particular single has a harder edge and a sense of post punk urgency that still sounds fresh as a daisy 30 years after it was
originally recorded.

It is still quite unfathomable why The Loft were not more well-known and why they remain nothing more than a cult phenomenon to rabid Indie music fans. Their final recordings for Creation include Up The Hill & Down The Slope, Your Door Shines Like Gold and Lonely Street. The sublime Up The Hill & Down The Slope climbed to the top of the Indie charts in 1985; and it is this particular song that should have been the catalyst for The Loft to go on to greater commercial success. But this never happened and the band imploded in spectacular fashion onstage at the Hammersmith Palais in 1985, and front man Pete Astor eventually went on to form The Weather Prophets.

Yet again it is The Pastels who taste the sweetest as their final single on Creation demonstrates. I’m Alright With You, Couldn’t Care Less and What It’s Worth are delivered in that deceptively lazy manner, with hushed vocals and wry humorous lyrics. The Pastels lacked any kind of clichéd rock n roll machismo and their influence is subtle but far-reaching. They quietly blazed a trail throughout the 1980s Indie guitar scene and they are remarkably into their 34th year and despite only five album releases in this period they are still a relevant force to be reckoned with. One listen to I’m Alright With You, (this version being superior to the latter album version) will hopefully show the listener why the band are still revered by many, including their more celebrated Glaswegian counterparts Belle & Sebastian and Camera Obscura.

There is probably nothing more to say about post 1990 Primal Scream, and their success has rendered them part of the rock n roll aristocracy whether they like it or not. Their emphatic fusion of dance and rock n roll from Screamadelica to their latest album More Light has put them in a rare position of still being somewhat relevant when virtually all of their 1980s peers have either disappeared or are happy to continue rolling out the yawn inducing but lucrative greatest hits tours.

It would be fair to say that pre 1990 Primal Scream output is virtually unknown, however, they did create such lovely, gentle dreamy jangle pop that deserves more consideration. All Fall Down/It Happens was issued in 1985 and these tracks show the first incarnation of Primal Scream in thrall to 1960s West Coast pop and psych. Bobby Gillespie’s vocals sound sweet and fragile and the hazy sunshine pop of these tracks serves as a more than welcome antidote to the rumbustious shenanigans of some of the other artists on disc two of Artifact.

Keep your eyes peeled Indie boppers for part three of the Artifact story coming your way soon. 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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October 29, 2015 By : Category : Features Front page Indie Post-punk Reviews Tags:, , ,
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Artifact, Part 1 – Longjohn Reviews

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Creation -Artifact

Artifact – The Dawn Of Creation Records

Cherry Red CRCDBOX19

Artifact – The Dawn of Creation Records 1983-85 is a 5 CD box set containing 124 songs devoted to the early years of Alan McGee’s Creation Records. The collection pulls together singles, album tracks, rarities, demos and BBC sessions by a diverse range of bands including The Pastels, The Bodines, The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Loft, Primal Scream, The X Men, The Legend, The Jasmine Minks and The Membranes.  Also included is a 12,000-word essay by journalist Neil Taylor plus a detailed biography off all the bands signed to Creation Records in this seminal period.

When Alan McGee set off from Glasgow to London in 1982 to pursue his dream of being a musician and forming a band, it would be fair to assume that he could never have envisioned that within 15 years he would form arguably one of the most influential indie labels in the UK, sign some of the most iconic bands of the 1980s and 90s, sell half of Creation Records to the monolithic and corporate Sony Records, and end up in No 10 Downing Street quaffing champagne with Tony Blair.

The story of how Creation Records came into existence is fascinating as it is improbable. The label itself was started in 1983 in conjunction with McGee’s influential club night The Living Room. This seminal early club night was set up to showcase bands that McGee liked, and the success of the club allowed McGee to use what profits there were to start releasing singles by the bands that were a regular feature at The Living Room, and thus Creation Records was born and the rest as they say is history.

This article will focus on disc 1 of the Artifact box set and the bands featured here became the blueprint for what might be considered the definitive indie sound, while embodying the DIY ethos of punk. However, there are a few exceptions on this particular disc that do not necessarily fit this indie stereotype. With hindsight you would have to question McGee for giving any recording time to The Legend, aka Jerry Thackray. Both singles are feature here, including the ridiculous 73 in 83, as well as You (Chunk Chunka) Were Glamorous, The Legend! Destroys The Blues and Arrogant Bastards. These songs are spoken word, rambling and nonsensical but good fun nonetheless.

Glaswegian cult band The Pastels teamed up with Creation Records to record a number of singles in 1984, including Something Going On, Stay With Me Till Morning, Million Tears, Surprise Me and Baby Honey. The core members of the band were Stephen McRobbie and Katrina Mitchell, and the songs included on this particular disc clearly display their talent for recording joyously catchy shambling pop songs with nonchalant ease.

The problem for The Pastels was that they were never very prolific and only sporadically recorded when they seemingly felt like it. This might explain why they remain nothing more than a cult phenomenon. The highlights here are Something Going On and the beautifully ragged and dreamy pop of a Million Tears. These melancholic and angst ridden tracks are joyously uplifting, despite the sombre nature of the lyrics. Both songs are addictively catchy and they feel immediately familiar after only a couple of listens.

Revolving Paint Dream and Biff, Bang, Pow, owe something of an obvious debt to 1960s pop, beat and psychedelia. Revolving Paint Dream cut 2 singles and 2 albums with Creation, and featured here is the first single Flowers In The Sky. The band featured former Primal Scream guitarist Andrew Innes and on occasions Alan McGee.  Flowers In The Sky has a continuous Byrds like guitar chime, and despite its slightly pastiche nature it is nonetheless still a great and catchy tune. However, it is the B-side In The Afternoon that may attract the listener’s attention. This particular track was written by McGee and has a dreamy swirling organ sound coinciding with a chiming guitar melody. The song is completed by Christina Wanless’ breathy, fragile vocals, which blend in beautifully to create a song that should have been a stand alone A-side in its very own right.

Biff, Bang, Pow took their name from a song recorded by 1960s freak beat band The Creation. Their early singles featured Alan McGee on guitar and vocals and included on this disc are the singles, Fifty Years Of Fun, Then When I Scream, There Must Be A Better Life and The Chocolate Elephant Man. All these tunes have clear British psychedelic influences, and a swirling organ sound (Then When I Scream) and jingle jangle guitar wig outs on the other 3 songs. There is also a cheeky bit of riff pilfering on Fifty Years Of Fun, and the opening guitar chords sound suspiciously like the opening riff to The Who’s So Sad about Us.

The Jasmine Minks have several songs included here including, Think, Work For Nothing and Where The Traffic Goes, which were all recorded in 1984. These singles are fast up-tempo numbers, featuring the almost customary jangly Rickenbacker sound, and sit somewhere between 1960s pop and post punk. Not much is known about the X Men, but they did record some great records for Creation in 1984. Bad Girl, Talk and Do The Ghost all have a demented psychobilly thrash and these tracks would not sound out of place on the Nuggets and Pebbles compilation albums. Do The Ghost in particular is a fantastic single and on first listen there is a somewhat obvious comparison to the deranged sound of The Cramps. However, according to the notes in Artifact the song was inspired by The Novas stupendous 1964 single The Crusher.

It seems incredible that The Loft only released 2 singles with Creation Records, before disbanding in 1985. The 3 songs included on this disc demonstrate a promise that was never quite fulfilled. Why Does The Rain, Like and Winter all have the customary jangly guitar work delivered by guitarist Andy Strikland, and ruminative lyrics delivered in a somewhat languid tone by singer Pete Astor. These tracks ably demonstrate that The Loft could have been a creative success, but they never stuck around long enough to find out. Why Does The Rain in particular is an outstanding single and was one of the first releases on Creation Records, and it is arguably the most accomplished single that was released by the label in 1984.

This early period for Creation Records yielded nothing by way of commercial success but as the songs on this disc demonstrate it was a creatively fertile period for the bands on this fledgling label that always seemed on the verge of bankruptcy. McGee’s dedication and love of music somehow kept the label afloat and gradually the hit records and commercial success arrived, but that is another story. Stay tuned pop pickers as we delve even further into the Artifact box set in part two, which will be coming your way soon! 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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October 21, 2015 By : Category : Features Front page Indie Post-punk Reviews Tags:, , ,
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DozenQ – Gavin Chappell-Bates

This entry is part 17 of 19 in the series DozenQ 4

Gavin Chappell-Bates is a singer, guitarist, songwriter and live looper from Cambridgeshire, England performing effervescent emotive yin/yang indie pop. His music shape shifts from acoustic balladry to punk to Britpop to anthemic alternative rock. He sings songs about growing up, politics, suicide, love, hope and determination.

Gavin features regularly on BBC Introducing, and other radio stations worldwide, and has been played nationally by Tom Robinson on BBC 6 Music and XFM and Amazing Radio DJ Jim Gellatly. He was nominated for Best Male Solo Artist in the 2015 NMG Awards.

After playing in various local bands, Gavin decided in 2014 to embark on a solo career. He released his first EP – ‘Black Holes’ – in February 2015, followed by second single – ’95’ – in July. His third release – ‘We Are The Ones’ – was released on 5 October 2015. His debut album, recorded by James Coppolaro at Mix 66, will be out early 2016. Friends, family and fans voted for their favourite songs to appear on the album.

We caught up with Gavin recently on his travels…

01. How did you get started in music?

I picked up the guitar around the age of eleven inspired by some of my friends who were playing and from being introduced to The Beatles. I had a couple of lessons from Ezio’s Booga to begin with but then I began to teach myself, both to play the guitar and to sing.

02 .Where did your direction come from?

I think a lot of my early musical direction came from trying to prove people wrong. My family didn’t think I’d stick with the guitar and then, once I’d been playing a while, I was a figure of fun at school for my ability and passion. I suffered with depression and anxiety and would often just lock myself away in my bedroom with my guitar. It, therefore, became my way of getting through dark times. It was my solace and my only real friend so my playing and song writing stemmed from that.

03. Who were your major influences and inspirations?

The Beatles were my first major influence, and that followed into some other rock ‘n’ roll artists such as Buddy Holly. I then discovered rock music and became a big Aerosmith fan. My ambition was to be able to play the guitar like Joe Perry (I’m still working on that!). I was then lucky enough to be growing up in the 90s so I was surrounded by Britpop, alternative and grunge music. I was, and still am, heavily influenced by bands like Placebo, Suede and The Smashing Pumpkins. My biggest influence, however, has been Manic Street Preachers. When I was a teenager and I first discovered their music so much opened up for me. I heavily related to their music, lyrics and style. I knew from the first seconds of listening to ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’ that they would be my most important influence now and forever. That is still the case.

04. What inspires you to make your current type of songs and sound?

All of my influences and experiences go into the music I make but I am very determined to write songs that are uplifting, positive and emotionally resonant. Whilst there are darker elements to my forthcoming debut album, I hope people can find some kind of cathartic experience in them. It is all about letting go, moving forward and turning things into something positive. My current single ‘We Are The Ones’ is a good example of that.

05. What can someone who has never seen you live before expect from your shows?

Because my songs are written and recorded as full band arrangements and I am a solo artist, I live loop on stage. I transform my songs and play variations of what people will hear on the recordings. I layer things up to create a big sound and so I can covey that same feeling of euphoria that is on the recordings.

06. How do you begin writing your songs? What types of themes and subjects do you deal with?

Sometimes I just sit down with my guitar and play around until something happens. Mostly this is completely unintentional (i.e. I am not trying to write a song). With lyrics, I have a pad that I keep close by and I am constantly jotting down ideas, themes and lyrics that come into my head. I am already starting to write my second album which will have a clear theme running all the way through so I am constantly adding bits to that musically and lyrically.

In terms of themes; as mentioned earlier, I want my songs to be positive mainly, but I am looking at the whole cycle of life. Birth, death, love, loss, our place in the universe, society, politics, etc. I studied philosophy at university and am therefore heavily interested in politics so that comes out in some of my music. I am, however, more interested in the ability of human’s to achieve greatness and push ourselves on to better things.

07. How has your music evolved since you first began playing?

I hope it has evolved quite a lot. When I read back through my early lyrics they were very adolescent and highly influenced from the pain and anguish I was feeling at the time. My lyrics are a lot brighter now and (hopefully) more mature. Musically, I understand a lot more now about the structure of songs and melody. I have also stopped trying to rip off my favourite artists and instead am just writing songs that come naturally. I am sure their influence can still be heard in my music but in a non-deliberate way.

08. What has been your biggest challenge? How were you able to overcome this?

Anxiety and depression. That is not the friend of a performer. It meant for many years that I didn’t get on stage. When I did it was almost physically unbearable. It also meant that I didn’t engage with the audience and I probably came across as quite rude. Whilst I still get nervous I understand that the most important people in the room are the audience and I am there to make them feel good. Engaging them is such an important part of being a musician, and that includes talking with them after the show and finding out what they thought. I faced up to my mental health issues a few years ago and since then it has become a lot easier to perform. Not only that but I was holding myself back musically. When I finally released myself was when I started my solo career and planning my debut album, something I’d always dreamed of doing.

09. If you could pick any song, what would you like to cover most and why?

The one song I often cover at gigs is ‘Stand By Me’ by Ben E King. It is such a beautiful song, lyrically and melodically. I have put my spin on it though and I am hoping to record that in the near future.

10. Where do you envisage being in five years time?

I currently work part-time to pay the bills so I hope that in five years’ time I won’t have to. I’m no longer a 12 year old boy looking for fame and adulation, I just want to be playing music to people that enjoy what I do. I hope to have a core fan base and be touring and recording regularly.

11. Who would you most like to record with?

I don’t think I’d cope in the studio with many of my major idols, the pressure of recording is hard enough as it is. I am thinking about quite a few collaborations for my second album however. There are so many talented musicians in the Cambridge scene who I would love to work with. So that may include people like Bouquet of Dead Crows, as well as some Taiko drumming, choirs, orchestras and possibly even some rapping (not from me)!

12. What should we be expecting from you in the near future?

My debut album will be out in spring 2016. This will be accompanied by a full UK tour. I’ll then be hitting the festival circuit before looking to tour Europe later in the year. I’ll see where that all takes me but then I’ll be looking to record album number 2 as I have lots of ideas and demos bubbling away for that!

Web links:

Facebook:
Twitter: 
Soundcloud: 
YouTube:
Website: 

Tour dates:

My next tour will be in Spring 2016 to support the release of my debut album but I have a few local gigs dates before Christmas:

31 October – Norwich Arts Centre
6 November – The Portland Arms, Cambridge
7 November – The George, Huntingdon
26 November – The Oliver Cromwell, St. Ives
19 December – The Pembroke Arms, Biggleswade

All gig info can be found here:

*Link to buy the current single: ‘We Are The Ones’

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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October 19, 2015 By : Category : DozenQ Folk Front page Interviews Music Post-punk Rock Tags:, , ,
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DozenQ – Empire of Gold

This entry is part 15 of 19 in the series DozenQ 4

Born in San Diego, California in 1987 and raised in Tecate, Mexico until the age of 8 when he then moved to the United States – producer/singer/songwriter, Michael Jack Dole, lived somewhat of a nomadic childhood. His vast array of early life experiences laid the foundation for Dole’s lyrical creativity which he vividly captures and illustrates in his somber, yet beautifully raw crafted lyrics.

The name ‘Empire of Gold’ was inspired by a homeless man Dole met on Venice Beach who, after listening to him play a few songs, told him “keep doing what you’re doing kid – it’s like you’re building an empire of gold!” Even though the man seemed to be poking fun at the idea of such a grand dream, Dole found encouragement and challenge in the man’s words and decided to do just that. Some of his many early inspirations include Kurt Cobain, Elliott Smith, Green Day, John Lennon and specifically Conor Oberst – mostly for his lyrics and his ability to ‘make poems come to life!’ Eyeplug shot some Questions his way recently…

01 How did you get started in music?

I got my first guitar as a present when I was 14 and took lessons at a local music store for a year. After a year I felt I wasn’t learning anything worth spending money on, so I stopped and just started playing by ear. I didn’t get serious about writing music until I was a freshman in college. I had moved from Chicago to California all by myself and I would play and write music when I felt depressed or lonely. That is when I really started accumulating a huge catalogue of songs – from summer of 2005 till 2014; when I started recording and taking music much more seriously.

02 Where did your direction come from?

My direction came from a dark, depressing time in my life. I had a rough childhood in which I lost both my parents and moved to America from Mexico at the age of 8. I was then raised by my aunt and uncle until I was emancipated at 18 and made the decision to move to California. This was initially my starting point of all my creative writing.

03 Who were your major influences and inspirations and who do you despise?

At first my major influences ranged from metal (Slipknot, Mudvayne) to punk acts of the 90’s (Green Day, Offspring). But at the heart of it all, it was musicians like John Lennon, Elliott Smith and Conor Oberst that really inspired me to get creative with my writing. I started off completely as an acoustic artist, with 90% of my songs written in this form. The musicians and bands that I would consider my major influences today had completely slipped under my radar when I was growing up; those being Nirvana, Melvins, Mudhoney, Alice in Chains and just the grunge movement in general. When I finally came into contact with these types of acts, they sparked something deep within me and just catapulted me into a whole new level from then on.

I don’t really despise any artist. Even the genres that I don’t enjoy listening to (Pop, Country, anything having a commercial or heavily processed mainstream sound), I still have respect for as artists.

04 What inspires you to make your current type of songs and sound?

It really boils down to the changes we have seen in the music business in recent times. I’m just a guy that feels he was born too late and missed the great explosion of early 90’s rock; that being the musical revolution that took over and made MTV a channel full of greatness instead of the crap is showcases now. If I can just somehow, some way, bring a little piece of that back, I will have succeeded as a musician in my own eyes.

05 What can someone who has never seen you live before expect from your live shows then & possibly even now?

As of right now, I am a one man band. I don’t necessarily like doing acoustic sets, so I don’t perform live. I want to keep Empire of Gold as a solo project so I don’t expect to be doing any live sets until I can acquire some session players. Which costs some pretty Dollars of course!

06 How do you begin your songs? What types of themes and subjects do you deal with?

I grew up listening to melody instead of lyrics. As a kid I didn’t think lyrics were important. It was all about the melody and movement of the song. So when I started writing music, that’s what I would focus on first and still do to this day. When I can get a song to “move” me and make me feel emotion with no lyrics, then I know I have a song and then begin to write lyrics. While I’m in the process of writing the melody, I always get a sense of what type of a story or emotion would fit the song and that is what I base the subject matter on.

I will say it’s usually a depressing tone. I don’t like, or I guess am just not good at, writing happy go-lucky songs.

07 How did your music evolve since you first began playing?

Lyrically and emotionally it hasn’t. What has evolved immensely is the style. It has evolved from acoustic singer-songwriter to a stripped down, raw grunge act.

08 What has been your biggest challenge? Were you able to overcome this? If so, how?

My biggest challenge has by far been producing and engineering my own music. I had to buckle down at my job and save a lot of money to finance my “studio”, which is in a closet… but also learning the skill and art form that music engineers have had to hone in on. It’s been a LONG two-year process of learning how to record the best sound, which microphones, best mic pre amps, which interface, how to EQ, compress, different types of compressors, automate, limit, how to pan instruments, which reverb, how to use reverb, what levels, digital or analogue, summing, blah, blah, blah the list goes on!

There has been many times in my walk with music that I’ve wanted to just give up, but I always told myself that I would be that guy that looked back and could tell others, “It’s hard.. very hard at first, but just keep going and with trial and error, you will learn the craft and be able to look back and smile at all your hard work.” I know I took the road less traveled, instead of just hiring a professional, but in the end I think it’s what sets me apart even more. From concept to production to distribution, it’s all me, and it feels damn good.

09 Do you play covers? If you could pick any song, which would you like to cover most and why?

I don’t know if there is one song in particular, but there is an album. I want, and will, cover Nirvana’s “Nevermind” album raw and straight from the heart just like Kurt wanted to.

10 Where did you envisage being in five years time?

I envisage being backed by a label. I kind of prefer a small label in which we can grow together. But within five years, I see being well-known and being a musician as a full-time job.

11 Who would you most like to record with?

Dead: Kurt Cobain Alive: Paul McCartney (At least meet!)

12 What should we be expecting from you in the near future?

I will be releasing my debut LP “Crass” with a couple of singles with music videos to appear before it’s release.

Web Links:

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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August 3, 2015 By : Category : DozenQ Features Front page Interviews Music Post-punk Rock Tags:, ,
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Jeff Monk LP Reviews June 2015 (Part 1)

Lost Dawn: Lost Dawn (Easy Action)

lost-dawn
Falmouth’s Lost Dawn has the kind of fearless attitude that makes some bands great and others not so much. Their self-titled premier full-lengther is the kind of album that will grow on even the most jaded fan of this kind of music – a cross between overt pop inclinations with a slight psychedelic twist, and loose nut, rave-up experimentalism. The first two-thirds of “LD” lo-fi’s its’ way into your brain cells wonderfully. There is a distinct Marc Bolan vibrato to the effects-driven vocals that meshes well with the reverb boogie of “Breaking Bad” and “Count On Me”. Drums splash and attention spans expand and it all makes perfect contrary logic until “Manchild” when, for over six minutes the band builds from a fairly typical rhythmic pattern and heads for the very outside edges of their sound. Call it a rave-up or simply a progression to the limits in the confines of the song-it works to create a new sense of what this band is capable of when they stretch. Closing with hippie dream ballad “Kennedy”, Lost Dawn turns the tables again and all told this pleasing set builds a strong case for watching what this band does to follow this.
(11 tracks) GRAB A COPY HERE

Honey: Weekend Millionaire (Easy Action)

HONEY
Blame grunge. Blame Courtney Love. Blame anything else but poor Cornwall, U.K. trio Honey for their immediately identifiable retrograde sound. Sure, every band has roots and most bands can’t shake a sound-a-like framework at the outset of their careers. We’ll give the three in Honey their first fault. Originality is a difficult and delicate thing to grab and shape into something a band can stand behind proudly. It needs to come from within the group rather from their record collections… eventually. Singer/guitarist Sarah Marie Tyrrell has guts to spare yet mewls and roars like you’ve heard it before. Points given for a guitar-centric roar that chop chops at chords defiantly while drummer Sammy and bass guitarist Ele complement heroically. That part works. Sometimes the deck requires a quick re-shuffle before the players can get down to a serious game. Honey is at the table and ready to deal except the cards are marked and the dealer already knows exactly what will be played next. Next?
(10 tracks) GRAB A COPY HERE

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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June 22, 2015 By : Category : Dark Eyeplugs Features Front page Indie Music Post-punk Psychedelic Reviews Rock Tags:, , ,
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Brian James: LP Review by Colin Bryce

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.)

GRAB A COPY HERE!

Web Links
easyaction.co.uk

 
 

 

Colin -Mohair Sweets- Bryce

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

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June 5, 2015 By : Category : Eyeplugs Front page Garage Music Picks Post-punk Punk Reviews Tags:, , , ,
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