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Monday, 23 April 2018

Last Great Dreamers - Nice N Sleazy (Glasgow) 21/04/18

No matter how you engage with live music it is a fact that not every single show you attend will send you home with a jaw aching smile etched on your face, a ringing in your ears that is competing with the roaring beat of your heart, and a belief that rock and roll can change the world.
They come few and far between at the best of times, but when they do they serve to reaffirm your faith in all that is good about diving headlong into music.
If you do manage to be in the right place at the right time to experience one of these gigs then they serve to act as a solid adrenaline kick to the system, an amphetamine rush to the senses that makes the world sharper, brighter, and just that bit easier to deal with.
And that’s exactly what the Last Great Dreamers delivered when they rolled into Glasgow to dispense their own brand of elegantly wasted rock and roll.
It was one of those rare as rocking horse shit gigs that provided a huge dose of undiluted high octane salvation from the grind of life.

Yeah, okay, I’m a sucker for the style of music they play, but that being said I have seen plenty of bands do variations of it, and while I’ve had a blast at the time it’s fair to say few press down as hard on all my buttons as these guys do.
Hanoi Rocks did it. The New York Dolls too. It’s not that I’m claiming that the Last Great Dreamers are impersonators of these bands, but rather that they share the energy levels and attitude that they had. When you go and see the Last Great Dreamers it’s all one hundred percent Last Great Dreamers that you get. They aren't imposters to the throne, but rather they are the descendents just waiting to be told to take a seat.

That I was unaware of who they were mere months ago is something that I’m coming to terms with. I could have had years worshiping at their altar but with my attention diverted elsewhere I missed out. That’s the past now, and there’s no point spilling hot tears onto the keyboard dwelling on it because I’m here now.
And late to the party I might be, but I’m ready to spread the word like some gutter preacher with an evangelical hard on for this band.

Ask me to give them marks out of ten for their set and I will look you directly in the eye and say it was about a twenty. I dare you to even question the logic to that reply.

Unfortunately the tour is finished now. You missed it, and you are now going to have to take a long hard look at yourself in the mirror and accept that you let yourself down.
On the upside they will be back. There are some festival dates in the pipeline and hopefully I can persuade them to come back to Scotland at some point in the not too distant future. I want a piece of this pie.

It’s still early in the year, and we have already enjoyed some very special gigs, but this wasn't one of those very special ones. It was more than that. Much more.  

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Revisiting the ones that matter #2 with Indra Joyce.

Former American. Saw the light, now British.

A former rock radio promoter, and music researcher, who embarked on a career as a special education teacher before dividing her time between caring for her disabled son and maintaining a foothold in the music scene as a jack of all trades.
And if that wasn’t to be enough strings to her bow, she is currently an artist working in the medium of photo painting and glass.

A busy lady, but not busy too to give us ten(ish) albums that mean something to her.

#1 Nigel Kennedy’s Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.
Indra - I love classical music and a top 10 was always going to feature it.
 It came down to either The Peer Gynt Suite by Edvard Grieg or this. I’ve always loved this piece of work by Vivaldi. I think he captured the seasons beautifully. You really feel each one. If pushed I will say Winter is my favourite movement, but I really feel the whole symphony stands together.
When I first moved to the U.K, Nigel Kennedy was everyone’s darling. Never mind that he looked like celebrity chef Gary Rhodes. I saw him perform this at the Royal Albert Hall. Simply Sublime!

Res Droogs – Strangely enough Vivaldi’s Four Seasons was my introduction to classical music. That, and the 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky, were bought at the same time second hand from a local library. It wasn’t the Nigel Kennedy release, but to my untrained ears that wouldn’t matter.

#2 Heart - Little Queen
Heart are my all time favourite band. Their music got me through a dark time. Out of all their work, their 2nd album is my favourite. Kicking off with the hard rock Barracuda, the next three tracks of side one, are the tribeca of Heart tracks - Love Alive-Silvan Song-Dream of the Archer. I actually wrote a novella based on the three. Side 2 might be a bit uneven, but it doesn’t matter.

Res Droogs – Okay. I’m going to admit it. I’m a sucker for the hair metal years. Street cred lying bleeding in the gutter. I care not a jot. However "Barracuda". Now that's a tune.  

#3 Concrete Blonde - Recollection
I knew this band before they were famous. They all used to live together in a house down the road from me and I used to watch them jam before they were signed to a label. I had to go for a best of compilation as they just have so many excellent tracks that span across their albums. Seen them many times live and they were always brilliant! If you’ve never heard of them, start with the track Still in Hollywood. It is exactly what they are all about.

Res Droogs. No need to add anything to that other than if you don’t know who they are then shame on you.

#4 Sweeney Todd Demon Barber of Fleet Street Original Broadway Cast
Outside from rock and classical music I am also a huge musical theatre fan! Love it! Even Andrew Lloyd Webber who rips everyone off has some merit. But my favourite has to be Stephen Sondheim. He is just so macabre! I mean really, who else could concoct successful musicals out of Shakespeare (West Side Story) famous killers (Assassins) and fairy tales (Into the Woods) so effortlessly? His best however is Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street! Please ignore the wretched Tim Burton film where Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter are woefully miscast. Mrs Lovett is always Angela Lansbury! I believe this was the first major production to break the third wall (Ballad of Sweeney Todd - “... what happens then, well that’s the play, and he wouldn’t want to give it away....” songs like Worst Pies In London, Pretty Women and A Little Priest are a masterclass in how to do musical theatre right.

Res Droogs – Not something I am overly familiar with.  Thought the movie was passable at best.

#5 Hazel O’Connor - Breaking Glass.
Trivia. This role was written for and meant for Toyah Wilcox. But she was just supposed to start a tour and backed out. Hazel stepped in and convinced Dodi Al-Fayed (yes, that one) who produced and financed the film to let her rewrite the music and songs. Definitely captured the London punk scene at the time. So many amazing tracks. I will frequently butcher Eighth Day and Will You at the karaoke. Amazing to think the album is nearly 40. I don’t think Hazel enjoyed the success she should have. Looking at the lyrics to Eighth Day it is eerie how prophetic is has been.

Res Droogs – Great film and plenty of little cameos for punk aficionados to look out for.

#6 Sorten Muld lll
Before my son arrived, I was a traveller. I would find a cheap flight and off I’d go. One thing I liked to do was to go into a local record store and buy a popular album by a band singing in their native language. This band came from Denmark. I really can’t offer much more than that, as well, they are a Danish band with little presence outside of Scandinavia, but that is a shame as these guys are fabulous. I actually taught myself a little Danish so I could understand the lyrics to some of the tracks. Stand out for me is Tor Af Hafsgaard
Res Droogs - Never heard of them, but that's not a  bad thing. 

#7 Tom Jones - Reload
Okay, I admit it, I am a closet Tom Jones fan. (And I butcher Delilah in the karaoke too). And I have been trying to see him live for the past 30 years but seem to be jinxed. But that is another story... this album revived his career. And he worked with everybody who is anybody on it. So many different styles. A bit uneven, but so much fun, and some real crackers. American reviewers panned the Iggy Pop track Lust for Life he did with the Pretenders but that is one of my favourites. Some fabulous tracks and collaborations Robbie Williams, The Cardigans, The Stereophonics, Barenaked Ladies, Cerys Matthews from Catatonia amongst others are all on here.
And Sexbomb. Sir Tom is the Voice.

Res Droogs – Don’t mind a bit of Tom. Hi recent output is along the style of Rubin and Cash. Seen him appearing at Glastonbury and sang myself hoarse to Green Green Grass of Home and Delilah. I have no shame.  

#8 Almost Famous Soundtrack Deluxe (Vinyl Edition.)
Yes, it has to be vinyl. Because the film is set in 1973. There was no digital music. Only vinyl, and vinyl just sounds so much better. Plus, this edition comes with a bonus CD that has all five tracks from the band Stillwater that are featured in the film. The normal soundtrack only has Fever Dog. The tracks were written by ex-Humble Pie Peter Frampton, and Heart’s Nancy Wilson who at the time was married to Film writer and director Cameron Crowe. It is an autobiographical account of Crowe’s life as a young rock reporter for Rolling Stone. Many excellent off album tracks. Everyone from Led Zep, (Robert Plant inspired the I am a Golden God rooftop scene) to the Beach Boys to Thunderclap Newton is on here. Superb!

Res Droogs - Quite possible the best semi autobiographical music movie made. Although The Rose gives it a run for its money. Only the names have been changed.   

#9 The Best of Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac
So, growing up in the 70’s... Rumours... I was a Fleetwood Mac fan, even had a wee schoolgirl crush on Lindsey Buckingham for a short while. And when I get into a band, I REALLY got into them. So I bought their entire back catalogue and found out they had two completely different histories. Prior to Buck-Nicks was a jazzy-bluesy pop lead by Bob Welsh. His big solo hit, Sentimental Lady was a Fleetwood Mac track from Bare Trees. Hypnotised from Mystery To Me is an amazing song.... but, Fleetwood Mac started out as British Blues band. Both Mick Fleetwood and John McVie played with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. Peter Green is a sublime blues guitarist. Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana and Jimmy Page count him amongst their influences. BB King and Muddy Waters were fans and invited Green and the Mac to jam with them in Chicago.
And shame on you If you didn’t know that Black Magic Woman was their song. They were the 1st band to top the U.K. charts twice with the same instrumental in different years (Albatross) Rattlesnake Shake, Green Manalishi with the Two Pronged Crown, Oh Well, Man of the World. It really doesn’t get much better.

Res Droogs – Peter Green era for me and very little else.

#10 Alice in Chains - Facelift      
Closing with another band I knew before they were famous. Mike Starr’s (original bassist) girlfriend Amy was a good friend of mine and I heard demos in his flat. Jerry Cantrell is probably the nicest and most down to earth rock star you’ll ever meet. Facelift was their first album. Although major label, it was still raw. Layne deservedly had a reputation. There are very valid reasons he lay dead in his flat for about two weeks before authorities broke the door and found him dead of a heroin overdose, but he had a unique voice and style that is now often imitated. Rooster, off their 2nd full length album (they had a five track EP called SAP featuring Heart’s Ann Wilson on two tracks out after) is arguably their best song (about Cantrell’s military father’s time in Vietnam) but Facelift is their best album

Res Droogs – A band I liked at the time, but grew to appreciate more over the intervening years.

#10+1 Marlo Thomas and Friends – Free to be You and Me.
A cheeky addition, but if you are counting you are missing the point.
This one reminds me of childhood. It was my favourite album while growing up. I wore out two discs of this one. It’s all about positivity and, well being who you want to be!

Listen to Boy Meets Girl which in some ways addresses gender fluidity (early 70s sexual revolution in full force) other tracks address feminism, positive parenting, bullying, and showing emotion. It features a venerable who’s who of talent from the time. Way ahead of the game. If you get a chance... look out the video they made of it... a young and still black Michael Jackson features. It wouldn’t hurt to show it today actually. Makes me glad I grew up when I did.

Res Droogs - Another I had no idea existed. Very much of it's time in the song writing, but years in front in the lyrical content. 

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Tony Wright & Ryan Hamilton - Grand Ole Otley

Country music, while popular, often has a disdainful eye cast in its direction by modern day music fans.
Strangely enough this lack of respect for the genre doesn't apply as long as you call it Americana, but that's a discussion for another day because right here, right now, we are all about wrapping our ears around "Grand Ol Otley", the glorious side project of country covers released by Tony Wright of Terrorvision and Texan troubadour Ryan Hamilton.

Ryan, for those of you who are unfamiliar, is a gentleman whose star is most definitely ascending with his power pop/rock band Ryan Hamilton and the Traitors, a band that I would urge you to familiarise yourself with and then thank me later.

It's clear from the first track, a plaintive and haunting cover of Jolene with Tony taking vocal lead, that both men are bringing a great deal of passion for the material to the table for this release. This is a far cry form a vanity project. 
The term pastiche doesn't reside comfortably in the mouth, but homage certainly does.
Song after song you are left in no doubt that they are both happily immersing themselves in the performance. 
Tag teaming the material they pass the baton back and forth on the vocals and there's no hint that either will drop it.

Anyone with a passing interest in country music, or just good music in general, should consider this a must have addition to their collection. 
Tony Wrights take of In the Pines sees him adding his name to a very long list of artists who have done this traditional song justice, while Ryan Hamilton tackling of the Rolling Stones song Wild Horses is a sublime masterpiece. On an album that features many glittering jewels it is this that shines the brightest.
In so many ways this touches on being the perfect crossover album. Neither artist feel the need to grandstand and both appear to intimately understand that playing to their strengths as a team is what will provide rich dividends.
Weak links you ask? They don’t exist on this album. It starts of strong and remains strong throughout.
It's a release that they both should be extremely proud of, and one that fans of both artists should be equally enthused about lending an ear to.
The only thing left to say, and it's a question, is "when is the next one coming out?"

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Massive Wagons - Cathouse (Glasgow) 8/4/18

Guest reviewer for this one folks, and it is the début of my daughter hammering home that she’s a chip off the old block.

Take it away Sophie.

A bit of background first.

Everything is a bit rock and roll in my family. 
When friends talk about their planned family holidays abroad we are checking out festivals and arranging road trips to see bands. When they talk about some Vlogger on YouTube that they seen at the weekend I bite my tongue and don't say anything about how I was helping doing the door, or selling merchandise, for a show that my parents were promoting, or how my saturday night was spent hanging out with musicians who are touring the UK.
I am the kid that danced in muddy fields and jumped around to bands playing in tents. I've been sneaked into clubs and venues to see the weird and the wonderful. I've been on the legendary Barrowlands stage dancing with Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5 looking out at a sold out audience, I've been backstage at festivals, and camped in the artists fields with main stage acts, and I've loved it all.

Once I turn eighteen it can only get better.

This is my life; this and baking cakes. This is my normal and I love it. This apple hasn't fallen far from the tree. If I could go to a gig every week I would. Make that two a week and call me greedy.
It's all seems very different from what everyone else my age does, but I wouldn't swap a minute of it for the lives that they share on facebook where only the names and locations appear to change.
I'm a gig addict, and I'm happy with that.
I mean given the choice between a Sunday night watching television, or going to see Massive Wagons in the Cathouse, what would you do?

Well that is ultimately up to you, but I'm in the Massive Wagons rock and roll camp so it's a no brainer for me.

It was only a few weeks ago that I was introduced to them when my dad did his usual of saying "if you like that you will like this" and sent me links to Welcome to the World and Fight the System, and he was right.
So it was a very nice quirk of fate to find out that they were playing so soon, and I decided that I couldn't miss them.
Jumping in with both feet I certainly wasn't disappointed, but I was very surprised.

Surprised because I was expecting a good rock band running through good songs, and what I got was Massive Wagons taking it all to another level.
I wasn’t aware that Massive Wagons were so energetic in their performance. In particular Baz Mills, who might just be my newest favourite front-man.
They only have two gears live. Fast, and faster. Even when they play what they think is a more sedate song it's still a white knuckle rollercoaster ride with Baz in the driving seat.
Song after song they hammer home that they are very deserving of the praise that they often get from rock media and fans.
I was once told that you can tell when a band are hungry to succeed, and that this drive can make a good show a great one, and this is what Massive Wagons have. That hunger. It's clear that they will not tolerate going through the motions, and every show is approached with a determination to meet the expectations of the fans, and to win over anyone sitting on the fence.
Both outcomes were certainly managed in Glasgow. I don't think anyone could claim to be disappointed.

A lot of what I have been listening to was part of the set, but the songs from the forthcoming album Full Nelson fitted neatly in, and were so good on first listen that they helped me go from thinking about pre-ordering it, to shouting take my money at the merch monkey.
A signed one, and with a free lanyard from the merch stand with every order too. At £10 for the CD, and £20 for the album that’s not too shabby at all, and yes I will take a t-shirt too.
Highlights were Tokyo, Nails, Fee Fi Fo Fum and Fight the System.
Punching a fist in the air to them all is less of a suggestion, and more of an order, at this sort of show. So that's just what I did.

Now it's time to hassle the folks into buying, or subsidising the cost of a ticket so that I can see them again.

Sophie Conway.


Monday, 26 March 2018

Jericho Hill (Bellfield Tavern - Kilmarnock - 24/03/18)

JerichoHill neatly side step the usual criticisms that are aimed at the majority of tribute bands by not playing strictly by the rule book. Their punk attitude approach to the music of Johnny Cash has seen them grace the stages of the world famous Rebellion festival in Blackpool to that of Belladrum near Inverness. And regardless of the stage they are playing the accolades just keep coming in. Punk crowds, indie rock crowds. They get it.

Not easily pigeon-holed you get the impression that they like it that way, and in fact prefer to live up to the Chaos for Cash play on McLaren's words.
It's certainly the case when they playfully run through a cover of Atomic by Blondie as a well deserved encore to their set in the Bellfield Tavern, but you never really know what you will get from them and therein lies the appeal.

Missing their first set I arrived in time to enjoy all of the second which started with Delias Gone, and then rattled through other Cash highlights such as Cry Cry Cry, Ring of Fire, a rousing rendition of Jackson and more.
My late appearance was unavoidable, but given the slightest window of opportunity I would have been there from the start because sometimes you have to be good to yourself, and giving yourself a night with Jericho Hill is always thoroughly recommended.

To quote Johnny himself "the beast in me is caged by frail and fragile bars" and that sums up a Jericho Hill performance far better than I could.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Crooked Little Sons - Fick (Video)

How is this for a bangin’ tune?

The always excellent Crooked Little Sons are back, and they’re not messing.
It’s a Sunday morning and the cobwebs have been well and truly blown away.
Watch out for tour dates and an interview appearing soon.

Friday, 23 March 2018

Last Great Dreamers - 13th Floor Renegades

Imagine if Hanoi Rocks took their cue from The Small Faces and The Who rather than from The New York Dolls, The Rolling Stones, and other such rockers.
Well imagine no more because Last Great Dreamers are writing the music you can hear in your head.
There's something quintessentially English about them. Like Gary Holton with The Heavy Metal Kids they have that cheeky chappy a nods as good as a wink shtick sorted out, but there's far more going on than a punk rock Oliver Twist story.
It's as if someone has thrown a handful of the mod revival bands into the Hydron Collider and seen what happens when you smash them into the UK's trashy glam rock acts that spawned from punk.
And the fusion ultimately works too.
It's rock and roll dark matter created that will suck us all in and turn us inside out.
Now how good does that sound?
Well now consider that these words just aren't covering it. They don't come close. It's actually better than that.
The terrace stomp of the seventies, the summer of love, the sunset strip, Camden Market and a soupçon of Soho. It's all there. From the sixties through to now, and even a taste of Britpop to flavour it further.
It's a heady mix of a trip of an album, and you can even dance to the fucker.
I bladdy love it.