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The Cramps – Longjohn Reviews

Magnificent – 62 Classics from The Cramps Insane Collection

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This compilation is another installment of oddball novelty records taken from The Cramps personal record collection. Those of you who are familiar with The Cramps trashy amped up rock n roll will adore this mad mish mash of music spread across two discs that include sleazy rock n roll, hillbilly head bangers, spoken word nonsense, howling RnB scorchers, surf and exotica.

The late Lux Interior and Poison Ivy were avid collectors of obscure kitsch 1950’s music and it was their respective record collections that provided the template for their own raw primal style, and the result was a brilliantly deranged take on 1950s and early 1960s rock n roll.

Cherry Red Records subsidiary Righteous Records have recently released a series of these albums, and it is difficult to think of a single band apart from The Cramps who could have inspired compilers to release albums full of unorthodox madness. If it was not for the crate digging of Lux Interior and Poison Ivy then most of these artists and songs may have just disappeared into obscurity.

The latest volume is a double disc with sixty-two (yes 62) sonic slabs of some of the rawest and wildest rock n roll ever committed to tape. These records are magical items if you happen to have them on 7’’ chunky vinyl, and if you don’t then this compilation is the next best thing.

Righteous Records have done a splendid job in getting this music out to a wider audience, however, if there is one small gripe to be made then this compilation is simply too long with musical tropes often repeated, and even the most rabid fan of leg shimmying rock n roll will be worn out after the first disc.

This is a minor quibble in what is otherwise an enormously fun compilation full of songs littered with sledge hammer riffs, hooks galore, odd ball charm and all sorts of other near craziness in between. If the listener can stay the distance then they will be duly rewarded with left field rock n roll that will make you wonder how some of these artists made this stuff up in the first place.

Rock n roll as Lux Interior beautifully explained in an MTV interview from 1984 is simply about sex and the celebration of earthly desires. However, earthly desires is not the only concern on this album as it launches into the stratosphere with a number of space oddities, including Jimmie Haskall’s Blast Off, followed by the wonderfully galactic instrumental Ghost Satellite by Bob and Jerry.

There are a few movie soundtracks on this compilation and the theme tune to the schlock horror film The Blob was scored by Burt Bacharach, and the film tells the story of a small American town that is terrorized by an outer space gelatinous monster, which slides and creeps across the floor and ‘will eat you ‘ if you are not careful teenyboppers.

There is even room on this compilation for actor Robert Mitchum who starred in the 1958 film Thunder Road. Not only did he play the lead in the film, he even wrote the script and composed and sang the theme tune ‘Ballad of Thunder Road’, which tells the story of a man who bootlegs moonshine that would even ‘quench the devils thirst’, and the story of this liquor runner is an unexpected and welcome inclusion on this album.

Prison life has been a long source of fascination for singers and songwriters in this period, and no compilation of this type would ever be complete without the inclusion of Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller’s prison lament, ‘’Riot in Cell Block No#9. Even better still is that Wanda Jackson covers this particular version and her unmistakable kittenish growl coupled with a rough edged rockabilly track is enough to make you wish you were in a calaboose with her.

Bo Diddley was never afraid to refer to himself or include his own name in his songs, and this infectious trick is repeated on ‘Bo Diddley is a Lover’. The irresistible rhythmic shuffle, humorous bravado, and the raw production that defined his records in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s is all present and correct on this particular tune culled from Bo’s sixth studio album.

The Clovers ‘Your cash ain’t nothing but trash’ released in 1954 on Atlantic Records is a scorching slice of horn and piano driven Doo Wop, and it is easy to see why this combo were snapped up by Ahmet Ertegun, who presided over these harmony kings as they notched up over 20 hit singles on the RnB charts in the early 1950s.

Paul Peek (who?) and Johnny Burnette and his Trio both grace this compilation with a couple of rockabilly strollers. Little information exists on Paul Peek but he did release over a dozen singles, including ‘Olds-Mo-William, which is a rockabilly floor filler.

Johnny Burnette can lay claim to being a rock n roll pioneer and released a handful of great singles, including ‘The Train Kept a Rollin’ (later reprised by The Yardbirds). However, the B-side ‘Honey Hush’ is no slouch either, and the same vaguely distorted guitar riff from side A is recycled and played by the sadly over looked rockabilly guitarist Paul Burlison.

It would be an understatement to say that having to listen and absorb 62 tracks spread across 2-CDs is an endurance test. However, we are never going to get the opportunity to hang out in The Cramps record lair so for a pair of fivers you get this crack-pot collection of wild, untamed rock n roll in it’s most primitive form. 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 7, 2016 By : Category : Front page Music Reviews Tags:, ,
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Andrew Matheson (The Hollywood Brats) Interview

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’.

GRAB YOUR COPY HERE


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.

BUY IT HERE VIA CHERRY RED

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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July 26, 2016 By : Category : Articles Features Front page Garage Glam Interviews Music Punk Rock Tags:, , , ,
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Kilburn and the High Roads – Longjohn Reviews

Handsome – Album

‘’I want to book some rooms. We’re a band. There are six of us – one’s a midget, two of us are cripples, and one of the cripples is black’’. This was Kilburn and the High Roads a set of bedraggled misfits led by Cockney legend and poet Laureate Ian Dury. The Kilburn’s were part of the 1970s London Pub Rock circuit that spawned Dr Feelgood, Ducks Deluxe, The 101ers and Eddie and the Hot Rods.

Pub Rock bands in this period had a unique British take on 1950s American Rock n Roll and RnB and it was delivered fast and sweaty in back rooms of pubs across London and beyond. However, the Kilburn’s were different and their sound incorporated elements of Vaudeville, Music Hall, Jazz, Funk and Reggae, ultimately laying the foundations for what Ian Dury and his subsequent band the Blockheads became famous for.

Not only that the Kilburn’s came in all shapes and sizes. Ian Dury a storytelling genius not only had a clever Cockney vocabulary with a savage wit, he also had a compelling and unnerving stage act, which was partly down to his physical appearance after contracting polio as a child, which clearly left him withered and disabled. The rest of the Kilburn’s looked like emaciated, destitute outcasts who had just wandered out of the Anchor House Hostel in Canning Town.

Kilburn and the High Roads one and only album Handsome was originally released in 1975 and was largely ignored by the record buying public at the time. However it is an important album as it provided the foundations for Ian Dury’s lyrical dexterity and later success as leader of the Blockheads. Handsome has finally been reissued as a two-CD set by Cherry Red Records and comes complete with a brilliant and in depth analysis of Ian Dury’s formative years in music and the oddity that was Kilburn and the High Roads.

The Kilburn’s strange and quirky stage act coupled with the disability of Dury and the drummer who came on stage in a calliper and crutches respectively would be unthinkable now in the sanitised world of Pop. However, Dury was aware of the effect that the Kilburn’s had on people, and they were a popular live draw and despite the commercial failure of Handsome, the album was influential on the burgeoning Punk scene and none other than The Sex Pistols and Johnny Rotten, whose confrontational and abrasive stage act owes something of a debt to Ian Dury’s larger than life stage persona.

The songs on Handsome have a lyrical theme that might seem tenuous on listening initially, but the songs are studies of dubious and unsavoury characters and this nascent observational style of song writing would come to full fruition on 1977’s New Boots and Panties. Album opener and single ‘’Rough Kids’’ is by far the most hit worthy track on the album and it is a rollicking song complete with Dury kicking a metal dustbin to emphasise the opening lyric, and it’s B-Side ‘’Billy Bentley (Promenades Himself in London)’’ ‘’about a young man’s adventures in the big city’’ is delivered by Dury in his famous playful Cockney
speak-singing style.

‘’The Roadette Song’’ and ‘’Pam’s Moods’’ are a pair of humorous songs about an on the road groupie girl whose salacious behaviour leaves little scope for ambiguity, and Pam who subjects her partner to mental and physical violence. Both of these songs are satirical studies of unseemly women and ‘’Pam’s Moods’’ in particular demonstrates that women can be as violent and vindictive as men with Dury left to ruminate ‘’the curse of fifty witches making Wormwood of
my soul’’.

‘’Upminster Kid’’ is clearly an autobiographical song about Dury’s teenage years in Upminster where he developed the Teddy Boy look complete with black crepe jacket, sideboards and a quiff. The song name checks Dury’s musical hero Gene Vincent who was equally as disabled and it is clear that Dury identified with his hero and fellow kindred spirit to such an extent that he later penned the stupendous and rollicking single ‘’Sweet Gene Vincent’’ for his next album New Boots and Panties.

Despite the obvious lyrical brilliance of some of the songs the album as a whole sounds muted and constrained by the studio and all the rough edges are removed and the band was clearly stymied as a result. However, the second disc on this reissue captures the Kilburn’s live and raw on Capital Radio in 1974, and the eleven tracks on this particular disc will appeal to rabid Ian Dury fans because it captures them at their most raucous, loose and dynamic.

One can’t help but think that if Chaz Jankel and Norman Watt-Roy had of got hold of these songs and fattened them up with a bit of Funk then the album might have stood up better than it does. However, Handsome is an interesting curiosity and it demonstrates the beginning of Ian Dury’s precocious talent for writing songs as poems that eloquently documented life as he saw it on the streets of London and Essex but to a back drop of Jazz, Funk, Reggae and Rock n Roll. 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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August 22, 2016 By : Category : Front page Music Reviews Tags:, , ,
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Goal! The World Cup 1966 – Longjohn Reviews

Goal! The World Cup 1966 was a documentary about the eighth World Cup and the first ever held in England.  This BAFTA winning documentary has become something of a rarity in recent years with no DVD release, and even in the age of the ubiquitous Internet searches for the film have only turned up a few snippets of footage on YouTube.  However, Cherry Red Records subsidiary El Records have transferred this documentary to CD and released this aural spectacular to celebrate the 50th anniversary of England’s (as if you didn’t know) one and only World Cup win.

This album documentary is a timely reminder that England once did have a team that could complete with the best in the world, and it might just provide some respite to long-suffering fans who had to endure England’s latest embarrassing performance as they were humiliated by Iceland in Euro 2016. This aural documentary is a nostalgic trip down Wembley Way, which begins with the competing teams arriving at London Airport (Heathrow) through to the dramatic World Cup Final and that controversial goal scored by Geoff Hurst.

If you haven’t seen this rarity of a film before then the soundtrack of this momentous occasion is the next best thing, and a special mention must be given to the script writer, sports journalist and fanatical Arsenal fan the late Brian Glanville and multi-instrumentalist John Hawksworth who composed and conducted the Jazz flavoured and atmospheric score for this film.  It is these two characters and the narrator Nigel Patrick, which make this album documentary so much more than a nostalgic curiosity.

Nigel Patrick was an actor and star of at least forty feature films and he provides the listener with a witty and wry synopsis of all the competing nations as they arrive at London Airport.  Patrick’s plummy monotone voice does not lend itself well to football commentary; however, his wry observations and gentle and measured delivery still somehow manages to convey the excitement of the World Cup in an authoritative and stylish manner.

It will come as no great surprise that Queen Elizabeth, (not ‘Er Indoors’) Britain’s longest self-serving monarch is at the opening ceremony of the World Cup and she has probably never sounded so bored and listless as she delivers her speech, but this brief interlude does not detract from the compelling excitement and for the next 50 nostalgia laden minutes the listener is taken on a football journey by narrator Nigel Patrick, whose droll delivery conveys absolutely no emotion as he handles Brian Glanville’s expertly written script with compelling ease.

The documentary covers some pivotal and controversial moments in the tournament as the World’s greatest footballer Pele was kicked and fouled off the pitch against Bulgaria and Portugal.  England’s Quarter Final against Argentina is featured and it is famous not just for Geoff Hurst’s controversial offside goal but the Argentines dirty tactics, which included spitting and kicking. Bobby Moore’s response to this provocation was to go ahead and ‘beat the bastards’.

England’s World Cup win is almost over shadowed by the appearance of the North Koreans who turned up at Middlesborough’s Ayresome Park to play against the overwhelming match favourites Italy.  The North Koreans caused one of football’s biggest ever upsets as they turned Italy over one nil thanks to Pak Do-ik. Nigel Patrick’s hilarious quip ‘so Italy go home to their tomatoes’ brought proceedings to an end in hilarious and understated fashion, and underdogs North Korea nearly repeat the trick again against Portugal when they stormed into a three goal lead before Eusebio sprang into life in spectacular fashion by scoring four and sending the North Koreans home.

The story of England’s 4-2 win over Germany to win the World Cup has gone down in history as the country’s greatest ever football achievement, and it does provide a fitting conclusion to this album documentary. However, Nigel Patrick reveals one footballing fact that may surprise even the most rabid England fan is that Germany had never beaten England in 65 years prior to the World Cup and could only muster one draw in all that time, which is an incredible statistic considering England’s struggles and underachievement’s in the big tournaments ever since that momentous occasion.

This aural documentary is an impressive and nostalgic production of a bygone era in football and one can only hope that the film itself will see the light of day once again. England on this one and only occasion could claim to be the best and the World Cup was won by players who lived on the same back streets as the fans, and Alan Ball one of the heroes of 1966 commented that ‘we were just ordinary lads who walked through the streets, shoulder to shoulder with the fans because we were representing them’. This album documentary is an enchanting and immersive historical artifact that will undoubtedly inflict the listener with a sense of nostalgia, and it is a brilliant snapshot of a glorious moment in sporting 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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July 11, 2016 By : Category : Front page Music Reviews Tags:, , , , ,
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The Hollywood Brats – Longjohn Reviews

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.

BUY IT HERE VIA CHERRY RED

Long John

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

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June 29, 2016 By : Category : Features Front page Glam Music Tags:, , , ,
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Haircut 100 – Longjohn Reviews

Haircut 100

haircut100

Pelican West (Deluxe Edition)

Brit-Funk 6-piece Haircut 100 ‘s near chart topper ‘’Pelican West’’ has been given a new lease of life thanks to Cherry Red Records. The album has been given the full deluxe treatment and it now comes as a 2-cd set with disc one comprising the full studio album, plus B sides and the non-album top ten single ‘’Nobody’s Fool’’, while the second disc comprises a total of thirteen songs, including 12” versions of their singles, previously unreleased tracks and a live version of the top ten hit single ‘’Fantastic Day’’.

Haircut 100 became an overnight pop sensation after being signed by Arista Records in 1981. Within a matter of weeks of being signed to the label they scored a top 5 hit with their debut single ‘’Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl)’’. Within a year they had a prolific run of three top ten singles ‘’Love Plus One’’, ‘’Fantastic Day’’ and ‘’Nobody’s Fool’’ and a platinum selling album. Their debut long player ‘’Pelican West’’ hit number two in the album charts and stayed there for 34 weeks and could boast 300,000 album sales by the close of 1982.

Sadly Haircut 100 would never repeat this success and when the band decided to record their follow-up ‘’Paint and Paint’’ in 1984, they did so without Nick Heyward, who went on to pursue a solo career. To record an album without the singer and songwriter may seem foolhardy and so it proved as the album was ignored by their fans and by the fickle music press of the day.

However, 1982 was Haircut 100’s year and their uplifting and infectiously breezy toe tapping funk pop sound frequented the FM airwaves with almost annoying regularity. Their singles in particular were almost perfectly formed and all came in at around the three-minute mark and were effortlessly catchy, with hummable melodies, sing a long choruses, exuberant stabs of brass, and elements of danceable jazz funk, which made Haircut 100’s songs (whether you like them or not) easily accessible, and instantly recognisable to the point of being indelibly etched in the listeners head.

Often dismissed as a pop band that you parents or little brother and sister would like, it is fair to say that Haircut 100 lacked the kudos and credibility of uber cool outfits like Orange Juice and The Smiths. Haircut 100 may have lacked the wry humour and morose observations of the aforementioned but is it not fair to say that music is essentially a hedonistic pleasure? And Haircut 100 did what all-great pop bands do and that was make maddeningly hook laden pop songs with catchy lyrics and melodies.

Haircut 100 had a clean-cut musical and sartorial aesthete that made them an attractive proposition to a young audience, and having a number of songs already written it was not surprising that they were attracting the interest of numerous record companies before signing to Arista Records. Having a foppish and boyishly pretty front man also did the band’s cause no harm at all, and it would be fair to assume that Nick Heyward must have adorned the front cover of Smash Hits with alarming regularity in the early 1980s.

So how does ‘’Pelican West’’ stand up thirty-four years after it’s initial release? It is an album that is most definitely rooted in 1982 and it is difficult to imagine this record existing in any other time period. However, what is striking for a group often dismissed, as just another boy band is that they were musically knowledgeable, and the album demonstrated a diverse range of musical influences that were woven together seamlessly to create a sound that was uniquely their own and without a single whiff of pastiche.

Haircut 100 cleverly meshed disco, post punk, funk and classic pop to produce an (at the time) ultra modern slickly produced album. The album’s clever song sequence sees it open with the straight right, left combination of two of their best-known songs, ‘’Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl)’’ and ‘’Love Plus One’’. It was a shrewd gamble to open the album up with two singles in a row, and the result as Haircut 100 surely knew was that ‘’Pelican West’’ was a pop album that could not be ignored.

The comparison with their contemporaries Orange Juice is not difficult to hear on white boy funk workouts like ‘’Lemon Firebrigade’’ and ‘’Marine Boy’’. The production is glossy and slick but not to the point where the songs are thinned out and tinny sounding. There is an almost Tropicana flavour to these two particular tracks because of the exuberant sounding brass section and percussion, but the songs still sound defiantly pop.

If there is one other candidate for a single on this album then it is surely ‘’Milk Film’’, which segues seamlessly into ‘’Kingsize (You’re My Little Steam Whistle)’’, and then ‘’Fantastic Day’’ which presumably everybody knows even sub consciously. At this stage of the album it would be fair to say that ‘’Pelican West’’ has just enough depth to make it a little bit more than a throwaway pop record with novelty appeal.

Nick Heyward’s lyrics often verge on the nonsensical and do not bear up too much scrutiny when read in isolation. ‘’Snow Girl’’, ‘’Love’s Got Me In Triangles’’ and album closer ‘’Calling Captain Autumn’’ all demonstrate that Nick Heyward must have written these songs at random, and despite the utter nonsense of the lyrics they absolutely work in the context of the album.

It is difficult to see ‘’Pelican West’’ connecting with casual listeners or the snooty so-called rock n roll elite, because it is an album that is defiantly and unashamedly a 1980s pop record. If you were a fan of Haircut 100 back in 1982 then this is a worthy purchase especially for all the bonus material that is included on disc 2. However, if you are an uninhibited pop music fan then ‘’Pelican West’’ is worth the price of admission just for the four sparkling pop singles alone. 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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April 10, 2016 By : Category : Front page Music Pop 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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