Wednesday, 13 September 2023

The Courettes, Oh! Gunquit & DJ Scratchy at The 100 Club, September 10th 2023 - Photos and Videos

It doesn't seem like five minutes since we last saw The Courettes and Oh! Gunquit put on a blistering show together at the Wedgewood Rooms in Portsmouth - a perfect combination of two of Retro Man Blog's long-standing favourite bands - it was a match made in heaven. But not only are The Courettes now affectionately known as the 'fabulous' Courettes, they are also known as the hardest working band in showbusiness and for good reason, yes they are back in the U.K. once again and they picked Oh! Gunquit to join them at the legendary 100 Club on London's Oxford Street for the very last night of their latest tour. Tonight we are also treated to the added bonus of DJ Barry "Scratchy" Myers spinning some superb tunes to get everyone in the mood so we certainly got great value for our ticket money. Resident DJ at Dingwalls just as Punk Rock hit London, Scratchy did shows with Ramones and Flamin' Groovies before being spirited away by The Clash as their tour DJ from 1978-80. I love the fact that his eclectic choices of International roots music not only gets you dancing but also takes you on a whirlwind tour of the World's many and varied musical landscapes. I can see why he has struck up friendships with Joe Strummer in the past and with contemporary mixed-nationality bands such as Oh! Gunquit and King Salami & The Cumberland 3, as they, like Scratchy himself, sum up the best of multicultural London. 

It was one of the hottest days of the year but luckily the 100 Club now seems to have working air-con which was bloody good news as Oh! Gunquit and The Courettes certainly raised the temperature with their full-on, no holds barred Rock 'n' Roll assault, just what you expect from two of the most energetic and visually arresting live acts around. Gunquit were so good and everyone got so carried away that there was genuine surprise when the 100 Club turned off the lights and power due to them over-running their set. We wanted more, the band wanted more but the 100 Club said no. It's one of the downsides of Sunday night shows or at venues where they have night clubs after the live music - the curfews are so strict that there's not much chance of squeezing in extra songs or encores despite the crowd reaction. I've lost count of the amount times I've seen Oh! Gunquit play and they never disappoint. They have the originality, the songs, the look, the sound and the unpredictability to make each and every show a unique event that will leave you smiling for days after. 

There aren't many bands who would be able to follow Oh! Gunquit, it must be a daunting task - but of course The Courettes are one band who rise to any challenge, and its hard to believe the visual impact this Brazilian/Danish duo can have, especially as one of them is sitting behind a drum-kit for the duration! But Martin Couri is no typical drummer, first of all his kit is positioned at the front of the stage and he's a constant blur of energy, spitting water on his cymbals so that each hit sends a spray out over the audience. Then there's his call and response vocals with Flavia and his badgering of the crowd to join in the singing and chanting and to push themselves to match the band's energy. 

When Flavia is not singing she's zooming about the stage leaping on the speakers one minute and then down into the crowd the next, machine gunning us with blistering, instantly memorable riffs. She also sings "Daydream" in fluent Japanese and we are honoured to get a dedication for our help in the special 7" single released to coincide with their Japanese tour by Damaged Goods Records. Their last album "Back In Mono" and the companion "B-Sides and Outtakes" showed a band perfecting their own version of the Phil Spector layered "Wall of Sound" in the studio but live, stripped back to the raw elements of just drums, guitar and vocals, the quality of the song-writing still shines through loud and clear. Talking of quality song-writing, they played two excellent new numbers "Keep Dancing" and "Shake" which promise even better things are still to come from The Courettes - and knowing the 'hardest working band in show business' as I do, I can bet we won't have to wait too long for those good things to come!   

All photos copyright Retro Man Blog 2023. Here's the video to their latest single "Tough Like That"...

More of our live videos from the show can be found at our Retromanblog65 YouTube channel here, and don't forget our very special Retrosonic Podcast episode "Presenting the fabulous Courettes" is still available at Spotify, iTunes, Apple Podcasts or direct from our SoundCloud site below.

Retrosonic Podcast · Presenting the fabulous Courettes

Wednesday, 30 August 2023

The Soundtrack of Our Lives - Second Life Reunion: The long awaited return of the Swedish legends, Way Out West Festival, Gothenburg - Photos by Daniel Eriksson

It feels pretty surreal to find myself here at the Way Out West Festival in the middle of the huge Slottsskogen Park in Gothenburg, eagerly awaiting the return of The Soundtrack of Our Lives, some eleven long years since they bowed out with a six-night stand at Stockholm’s prestigious Södra Teatern. By coincidence, twenty years ago I was in this very same park visiting the Natural History Museum for some TSOOL related sightseeing with friends that I’d met through the band. We were hunting down the ‘pickled’ babies and stuffed lion that featured on the cover of their debut album “Welcome To The Infant Freebase” – yes, I’d already been lured into that kind of obsession by this unpredictable, non-conformist Swedish Psychedelic Rock outfit comprising six individual yet equally vital characters who, it’s no understatement to say, would put my life on an unexpected course. It’s understandable to be obsessed by a band when you’re a teenager - but as an adult, well that's not what I was expecting. As a kid I was heavily inspired by The Clash and Joe Strummer’s positive message, The Jam and Paul Weller’s socially aware lyrics, The Beat, The Specials and 2-Tone Records multi-cultural outlook, The Undertones and Buzzcocks for their unashamed melodic Pop Punk classics and The Stranglers - or most importantly, JJ Burnel’s snarling bass sound - that made me pick up a bass and start my very first band.
Then you go on a voyage of discovery – delving into the past and the music that inspired your heroes, in my case it was checking out The Stooges, The Doors, Love, Sixties Garage Rock nuggets and much more. Over the years, there were of course contemporary bands that I was blown away by, the best were often those that I saw by chance – Pixies supporting Throwing Muses, Discharge at the 100 Club, Black Flag with The Damned at The Lyceum, not forgetting bands such as The Prisoners and The Playn Jayn at the much-missed Clarendon. But none would have quite the same impact that my first experience of The Soundtrack of Our Lives had on me. I was an adult about to become as obsessed by a band again as if I was a teenager. After all, seeing The Soundtrack of Our Lives play for the first time they absolutely blew my mind as they seemed to channel all of the best parts of all of my favourite bands into their own explosive live show and sound. I don’t seem to be alone in this, as guitarist Andy Ruff had a similar story as he shares here along with his impressions of the Way Out West reunion show…

“I feel like a fan and not a fellow musician around TSOOL, ever since I first saw them at the original Concorde in Brighton in early ’97 when they were one of the support bands, that was my ‘Eureka’ moment. I was hooked. I must admit the song that did it that night was “Firmament Vacation” and when they played it at Way Out West, it was quite emotional. Helen dragged me to the front (which I never usually do) and when they played it, I immediately thought ‘I’ve made it’ as at one time, health wise I didn’t think I would be there. It was a great set but not long enough, and as Ebbot said, the guys should have headlined the show on one of the days. What a trip, it was great meeting up with the band (well 50%) again after all this time, I had an emotional meet up with Mattias, Ian and Ebbot. Although I keep in touch on and off with them via messages, it really meant so much seeing them all again, the band has been a big part of my life for 26 years, from the early days when I saw them support Kula Shaker, Gene and a few others before they started to get their own shows. We are all getting older, but the love is still there. Amazing band and people, even seeing people like Chicago, who I recognised, not forgetting all the Soundtrack followers in the VIP bar, what a great bunch of people” - Andy Ruff (Andy’s band Psychobabble supported TSOOL during their 2005 UK tour)

The Soundtrack of Our Lives appearance at Way Out West was the second of three highly anticipated official reunion shows, sandwiched between Spain’s Azkena Festival and the Øyafestivalen in Oslo. They did play a couple of warm-up shows – a ‘secret’ friends and family show at Pustervik in Gothenburg and then a low-key appearance at the arts venue Garageprojektet Hammenhög, in Skåne, Southern Sweden. Both of these were ecstatically received, and the set-lists were out of this world. Albert Lorenz, who played with Ebbot in The Indigo Children was at The Pustervik show and he compares this with the Way Out West appearance here…

“About TSOOL, I honestly have no idea! I think they were probably great, but this gig was so unique in the way I personally experienced it. The (secret warm-up) show at Pustervik in June I enjoyed for myself, and greatly so. It was mega, a hell of a show, and it felt like everything had finally come together in the most perfect way, an "I can die happy now" feeling. But this time at Way Out West, I was just so happy for them to get such a homecoming, and also for all the fans to have the opportunity again. A friend from Barcelona came to see them just like you, other friends I'd got into the band tagged along, many acquaintances were looking forward to it... I was just hoping everything went well and everyone, band and audience, would thoroughly enjoy it. Which I'd like to think is what happened. Musically, yeah of course I can't not be biased, and I was ecstatic, but nothing compared to seeing Ebbot put his arm around Ian as I had my arm around friends in the crowd. The experience overshadowed the music, in my case” – Albert Lorenz

So, I’m at the Way Out West festival but it’s so difficult to concentrate, it’s like I’m having an out of body experience looking down on myself as I wonder what the hell it will be like to see the band again after all these years. It’s difficult not to be distracted even though I’m meeting people who I’ve known for over twenty years – some of whom have become very close friends, people who I’ve shared many TSOOL related adventures with. There are acquaintances I’ve met at Soundtrack of Our Lives or other related shows and there are people I’m meeting for the first time that I only know through the website. Of course, it’s great to be with my fellow TSOOL Admins, Daniel and Hasse – it’s so much like old times that the surreal feeling gets even stronger as the time approaches for the band to take the stage and I see myself talking to Adam Wladis and Henrik Rylander from Union Carbide Productions, singer songwriter Martin McFaul and Wallander actor and theatre director Lars Melin. There are brief hellos to photographer, former member of Psychotic Youth and curator of the excellent Kållereds Ramones museum, Roine Lundström, who’s with Troublemakers singer Christer Blomgren and there’s Elias Jungqvist, once in Ebbot’s Indigo Children, now in the brilliant Viagra Boys. It reminds me when Soundtrack played in London at their peak and their shows were always well attended by other admiring musicians from bands such as Oasis, Doves, Primal Scream and Razorlight among others. There are also fans from Stockholm and other parts of Sweden, not forgetting those that travelled from America, the U.K. and Italy such as Gianluca Torelli…

“So, let’s start, this was my third time in Gothenburg after 10 years, after the COVID restrictions and so on and this was my second TSOOL concert in total, the first time was in Bern in 2011. Then I had a couple of meetings with Ebbot in Gothenburg, thanks to Marcel Tuores and then a couple of Ebbot solo gigs with Indigo Children, first at Liseberg and then in a small and (sadly) almost empty club in Frankfurt. And in between, there was a Free Fall gig also at Liseberg during my first Swedish trip. I’ve never been to Way Out West before, this was my first time ever, and I experienced a good mood in general, a huge space and a really good festival. The band seemed in very good shape, especially Mattias, and he rocked like no other, just like in the good old days, he even threw a guitar in mid-air like a real rocker. It was such an emotional journey to listen to them live and be there in the front row, to hear songs like “Instant Repeater ‘99” and I got tears in my eyes and became emotional during “Second Life Replay”, a song that really means something to me. Hoping this was not the only gig after this unexpected and surprising reunion” - Gianluca Torelli, Abruzzo region of Italy

I feel a palpable sense of excitement fizz through the crowd as the band take the stage to the exotic strains of “Mantra Slider” and charismatic frontman Ebbot Lundberg appears, resplendent in a black and gold kaftan emblazoned with the mystical OEOC “as above, so below” symbol. The first thing that hits me is that the band all look great, and with the song’s snaking Arabic atmosphere it’s like a magic carpet ride back in time as it’s soon clear they’ve lost none of their trademark onstage energy. Guitarists Ian Person and Mattias Bärjed leap and pirouette, spitting out those familiar killer riffs to a psyched-out “Galaxy Gramophone” and a blistering “Big Time”. Martin Hederos plays his keyboards like a lead guitarist, long fringe swiping across his keys as he gets totally lost in the music. Not to be outdone, the brilliant Fredrik Sandsten twirls his drumsticks and on “Grand Canaria” in particular, proves why he is one of the best contemporary drummers around while bassist Kalle Gustafsson Jerneholm anchors it all together with consummate coolness. What we get is a perfect festival greatest hits set concentrating on their debut “Welcome To The Infant Freebase” and breakthrough third album “Behind The Music” including of course, the timeless “Sister Surround”. But of course, us diehard fans always want more as Andreas Åhs and Andreas Hedberg both admit…

“It was good to finally see TSOOL again after all these years of abstinence. They had great energy and sounded really good throughout a greatest hits set that didn’t leave anyone disappointed. As a huge fan since the ‘90’s I would have loved to have heard one or two unexpected gems, but I guess a large festival as Way out West isn’t the time and place for that. Hopefully, they’ll return soon to bring that sweat soaked, guitar throwing Rock ’n’ Roll goodness to smaller venues!” - Andreas Åhs

“Seeing the band take the stage again after eleven years was magical, suddenly I was going back in time. Just witnessing “Mantra Slider” and the characteristic intro as these unique band members entered the stage was worth the ticket. It's very crowded, seagulls hover in the air, expectations vibrate, it feels like a very special evening. Ebbot opens his arms to welcome us to the special atmosphere that this genius band can create. I thought the setlist was great but too short of course although I could watch them for hours. I missed ”Dow Jones Syndrome”, “Black Star” and “Jehovah Sunrise” but which songs would they substitute? I loved that they played “Broken Imaginary Time” and jumped my legs off to “Confrontation Camp”. It was a top concert in my opinion, the first time I saw them was on ZTV live from Hultsfred in early 2000, it was really cool, so I bought the “Behind the Music” record and I was sold. My first live experience with the band was in Lund at Mejeriet in 2002/03 something. I remember watching them perform “Sister Surround” on Letterman on YouTube and Mattias was dressed in the Union Jack jacket, doing cool moves with the guitar. “Ebbot the Movie” recorded live at Slussens Pensionat really got me, I loved it, I had it on VHS tape and saw it many times. I’m so glad I took the train to Gothenburg to watch my favourite band of all time, it was a fantastic evening. Ebbot says thanks to the audience for existing in Way Out West but thank you TSOOL for existing, you’ll always be my safe point to return to!” - Andreas Hedberg

There’s an undeniable chemistry back in the band, “Nevermore” and “Broken Imaginary Time” sounding as fresh as ever and there are smiles all round from band and audience alike, the frustrations and issues that led to them splitting up in December 2012 seem to have been buried. I think the first signs a reunion could be on the cards actually came from the terribly sad news of Bruce Emms passing in 2022. Bruce was the hugely popular and likeable owner of Musik Utan Gränser (MUG) music store in Gothenburg, a loss that was felt not just by all in the City’s music community but I’m sure from all touring musicians and visitors to the shop too. There was a tribute show arranged at Pustervik which featured Soundtrack of Our Lives (Ebbot, Ian, Kalle and Fredrik) making their very first live appearance since the split and at the end Ebbot and Ian hugged, which many saw as a kind of public reconciliation. I’d like to think it could have been this moment that paved the way for the reunion. I interviewed Bruce for Retrosonic Podcast some time ago, like me he was also British, a bass player and was hugely enthusiastic about the Gothenburg scene, in particular praising one of my favourite singer songwriters Mattias Hellberg like only a true fan could. I once popped into MUG to say hello after TSOOL split up and he lamented the fact that the band had called it a day and it’s very sad he couldn’t be around to see the band’s triumphant return in the city he called his home. Musik Utan Gränser means ‘music without borders’ – a sentiment that I certainly promote with Retro Man Blog, and it can be applied to the far reaching international appeal of The Soundtrack of Our Lives too – as can be seen from the U.K. based Helen Ruff’s experiences…

“I’d waited so long to see the guys back again… and on their home turf was spectacular. The Soundtrack of Our Lives were the first band I was ever ‘into’ as an adult… the lyrics and the melodies resonate so deeply it gives me goosebumps whenever I hear them. Seeing them live after such a long hiatus was amazing. They don’t sound like they have aged at all! Ebbot’s voice was on point! And Ian’s guitar work was sublime. I just hope they will tour…. Their sound, their lyrics, their vibe needs to be heard. I hope the band will give us more. Meeting TSOOL stalwart fans was epic! The band need to know that their faithful are with them. Always” – Helen Ruff

During Sweden’s alternative national anthem, “Instant Repeater ‘99”, the crowd are going wild all around me, arms aloft and this fervour only increases with the incendiary Glam Rock stomp of “Confrontation Camp”. The set draws to a close sadly all too quickly with the emotional singalong “The Passover” and feel a lump in my throat as I look around and see the crowd joining in – there are all ages too, families, couples, friends all caught in the moment. Liselott Selander also felt the same…

“They delivered exactly as I expected, and it was fun to see that many who were probably not even born when the band were at their peak knew the lyrics" - Liselott Selander

Long-time fan Per Kristiansson, who I first encountered at one of Soundtrack’s now legendary shows at the stunning Slussens Pensionat waterside venue on the beautiful island of Orust, explains just what the Way Out West reunion show meant to him.

“The first time I saw TSOOL live was, I believe, in 1997, about a year after I’d been listening to their knockout debut album over and over again. Since then, I must have enjoyed around 30-40 gigs, perhaps ten were at Slussens Pensionat and others at various venues. Most of the time, the band were amazing and beyond, so with this history and a true love for the band, I had quite mixed emotions as I walked through the entrance to Way Out West. How would it be to see them back together once again? Do they still have the mojo...? Well, T-minus 30 minutes, standing in the front row and just watching them do the soundcheck, I knew this was going to be an unforgettable and awesome evening. And so, they went on stage… Fredrik started the drumstick intro of "Mantra Slider," and I just screamed out loud! They opened with one of my absolute favourites and totally nailed it, just like back in the day! Next up was "Firmament Vacation", followed by "Galaxy Gramophone" and I felt like I had been sent back in time. The rest is history. The lucky souls who attended got to witness the best band in the world back on stage! Looking forward to the next 30-40 gigs!” - Per Kristiansson

I can only hope that the heartfelt reaction and huge smiles on the band’s faces as they take a well-deserved curtain call, paves the way for more of their stunning live shows in the future and of course, being greedy now, the hope of new material too. Now that really would be something special. Well, I guess it’s fitting that I leave the final words to Daniel Eriksson, after all, Daniel ran the original Soundtrack of Our Lives web-site, forum and Mega Society fan-club and was the catalyst for introducing me to many other TSOOL fans around the world from not only the U.K. and Sweden but as far afield as Peru, Italy, Scotland, Norway, Finland, America and more… Daniel had the vision of taking the band’s music out into the International stratosphere, truly a case of music without borders.  

“A present from the past… Everyone was there... The whole of Soundtrack of course, but also families, friends, stage workers and hang-arounds from the past. The fans that were there from the beginning, but also a whole new generation... It was like they’re bigger than they’ve ever been before?! The desire for this Rock and Roll machine is a fact. They sound at least as good as they always did. 11 years have passed, but it’s as if time has stood still. Everyone just got a little bit older. With all dignity intact, they delivered eleven explosions, a ballad and finished with a sing-along. In hindsight it feels a bit surreal, did all this happen? They came, they won... But what happens now? Everyone wonders, not least themselves. At least one thing is certain, if there is more, there is a great embrace of love from the outside world that wants to embrace the magic that these six gentlemen can create together. We hope for more because this is Second Life Replay ‘Yeah, I feel alive. Cause I came back stronger than I’ve ever been before…’ " – Daniel Eriksson

Daniel Eriksson is also the official Way Out West photographer so I have him to thank for contributing the superb photos you can see in this feature. With sincere thanks to Hasse and Liselott, Mattias Bärjed, Georgios at Livenation and of course all the fans who kindly contributed their experiences and words to this feature. The offcial TSOOL Facebook page is here. For news on all the band member’s solo music, collaborations, other bands and side projects, TV and soundtrack scores, upcoming gigs and record releases please follow, like, subscribe to Retro Man Blog here or at Facebook and Instagram. Subscribe to Retrosonic Podcast for free at Spotify, Soundcloud or iTunes/Apple Podcasts as we have lots of interview specials with various TSOOL band members and other Swedish bands and musicians that may be of interest, all still available in the archives. We also have a YouTube channel with loads of related live videos. You can also join the TSOOL fan’s Facebook group here to communicate with other fans around the world, to share your own memories, experiences, photos and videos and to be kept up to date with all that is happening with the various band members music. Plus, you never know, one day there might well be news of more Soundtrack of Our Lives activities… we can but hope!

All photos copyright Daniel Eriksson at Rock My Lens.

Friday, 28 July 2023

Retrosonic Podcast with Music Photographer Paul Slattery - Part 2 with Link Wray, The Yardbirds, The Byrds, Stevie Wonder, The Grateful Dead, The Others, Tim Staffell and Paul Stewart

In part 2 of our chat with legendary music photographer Paul Slattery we cover what it was like growing up in West London in the mid-60's during the heyday of the British Beat and R'n'B scenes of Twickenham, Richmond and Ealing. We talk about the Eel Pie Island museum, the much-missed local venues and of seeing a young Stevie Wonder in concert in nearby Sudbury in 1966. There's the impact of his schoolmates The Others and their one and only single released by Fontana "Oh Yeah!" and he updates us on their reunion shows and current musical projects. Paul pays tribute to Jeff Beck and David Crosby and discusses the first stirrings of Psychedelia. Then we get to hear about how he got to know and photograph his musical hero Link Wray and finally, he discusses the use of his photos in the impressive new Grammy award winning box-set from the Grateful Dead. You can subscribe to Retrosonic Podcast for free at Spotify, Amazon Music, iTunes, Apple Podcasts or direct from our SoundCloud site below:


The Yardbirds "Shapes of Things" 

Paul's original 1966 US copy of "Shapes of Things"

The Byrds "Eight Miles High"

The Others "Oh Yeah!"

 "The Others, Geoff Coxon, Paul Stewart and Tim Staffell playing at the Crawdaddy Club, Richmond  March 2022." Click here for Paul's report and feature on The Others reunion shows.

Tim Staffell & Paul Stewart "Wrong Place Wrong Time"

Stevie Wonder "Uptight"

"Stevie Wonder playing a few songs during our photo session at his Hotel Room in London 1991"

"My original 1965 US copy of "Uptight" thumbprinted by Stevie at the same photo session. he just sang the song right there in front of me there and then and I was transported back to '65".

Link Wray "Rumble"

Link Wray "Beans & Fatback/I'm So Glad"

"The great Link Wray, Soho, London, Spring of 1979."

The Grateful Dead "Cream Puff War"

"My photo of Bob Weir of The Grateful Dead in the booklet accompanying the Grammy award winning CD box set "In and Out of the Garden" with amazing surrealistic artwork by Dave Van Patten."

For more information on Tim Staffell please check out his web-site here. Tim and Paul Stewart also have a Facebook page here. You can also listen/download Part 1 of our special episode with Paul where he talks about his work with Penetration, Sharpers, Subhumans, Joy Division, Empire, The Smiths and Kas Product.

Thanks to Paul, all photos copyright Paul Slattery.

Wednesday, 19 July 2023

Retrosonic Podcast Episode 52 "It's Clappin' Time" with The Courettes, Sensation Seekers, Jack Cades, Vannas Kasino, Jim Jones All Stars, Ian Person, The Priscillas, The Masonics and much more...

Cover Star: Elsa of The Jack Cades. Photo by Jeff Pitcher
Welcome to Episode 52 of Retrosonic Podcast, a Brexit-busting selection of 22 superb new International releases from as far afield as America, Denmark, Scotland, Sweden, Canada, England, France and Japan - strictly minimum chat and maximum Rock 'n' Roll! Please support the bands, musicians and artists by clicking on the highlighted links in the tracklisting below for further information and details on how to buy the music featured in this show. So pour yourself a drink, crank up the volume, sit back and be prepared to be blown away! Subscribe for free at Spotify, iTunes, Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts or listen/download direct from our SoundCloud site below.

Tracklisting & Links

The Sensation Seekers "It's Clappin' Time"

Ian Kay "Love Wasn't Built In A Year"

The Jack Cades "Chasing You"

Jim Jones All Stars "I Want You (Anyway I Can)"

The Jukeez "Too Late"

Vännäs Kasino "Savage" 

Gatuplan "Kidsen Från Provinsen"

Per Svensson Psychedelic Sounds "Born To Go"

Ian Person "Waltz of Love & War"

Stupidity "Fortune Teller"

Råttanson "My Head Is A Troubled Region"

The Priscillas "Angela"

The Routes "No Good"

French Boutik "Devant Moi"

Popincourt "Love On The Barricades"

Chris Casey "A Bit Better"

The Courettes "Night Time (The Boy of Mine)"

The Jackal IV "Live It"

The Voo-Dooms "Don't Drag Me Down"

The Sleazoids "VHS Death"

The Masonics "Somebody Stole The Heat From My Fire"

The Guy Hamper Trio "All The Poisons In The Mud"

Featured Record Labels

Spinout Nuggets

Damaged Goods


Static Wax

Clouds Hill


Discos Antifaz

Sound Pollution

 Sounds of The Suburbs Record Store, Ruislip

Thanks to all featured bands and record labels. This episode's cover star is Elsa from The Jack Cades, photo by Jeff Pitcher, please check out more of Jeff's excellent photos here. Please subscribe to Retrosonic Podcast at SoundCloud, iTunes/Apple Podcasts or Spotify - all for free - so you don't miss an episode.


Saturday, 8 July 2023

Retrosonic Podcast with Music Photographer Paul Slattery on The Smiths, Joy Division, Thee Headcoats, Penetration, KaS Product and more...

Welcome to this special edition of Retrosonic Podcast where we talk to the legendary music photographer Paul Slattery about some of the recent books and records to use some of his iconic pictures. There's Johnny Marr's new book "Marr's Guitars" and Paul pays tribute to The Smiths' bassist Andy Rourke who sadly passed away recently. There's news of Paul's recent meeting with Mona Soyoc from KaS Product in France and their new compilation album. Penetration and Invisible Girls frontwoman Pauline Murray has included some of Paul's photos in her promisong forthcoming autobiography "Life's A Gamble". Then there's the comprehensive Subhumans book "Silence Is No Reaction" by Ian Glasper. The shortlived but influential band Empire featuring Bob Derwood Andrews and Mark Laff of Generation X used Paul's pics for their "Expensive Sound" album which was a favourite of Johnny Marr and John Squire and was an inspiration on Fugazi and the Washington DC Hardcore scene. Damaged Goods Records will reissue Thee Headcoats' classic album "Heavens To Murgatroyd" with new cover photography by Paul. Then we discuss the upcoming Joy Division walking tour and talk in Stockport which coincodes with Paul's book "Joy Division at Strawberry Studios". Paul also picks his favourite Joy Division track which also happens to feature on the most expensive record in his collection. Then Paul discusses his love of the German Electronic and New Wave 'Neue Deutsche Welle' scene and looks back on a special night in Blois in France with The Flamin' Groovies and local Pub Rock heroes Sharpers. Please kindly support the Bands, Artists and Authors by clicking on the highlighted links or images below to find out further information and details on how to buy the books, records and tickets to events discussed in this episode. Thanks! Listen in below...

Tracklisting and Links

Pauline Murray

1. Penetration "Stone Heroes" 

 2. Penetration "Beat Goes On"

Penetration, Pauline, Robert, Neale, Willesden Cavern, 27 March 1978

 Pauline Murray "Life's a Gamble" (Omnibus Press) 

3. KaS Product "Fever Lust"

Kas Product, Spatsz and Mona Soyoc, 18th Arondissement Paris, France 7 August 1982

4. Sharpers "Nobody Knows"

Sharpers, Joe and Simon at Maison de Begon, Blois, France, 17 June 2015

5. Empire "All These Things"

6. The Smiths "Girl Afraid"

Johnny Marr "Marr's Guitars" (Thames & Hudson) 

Paul Slattery "The Smiths: The Early Years" (Omnibus Press)

7. Joy Division "Dead Souls"

Stockport Music Map Walking Tour & Joy Division Talk with Paul Slattery

Paul Slattery "Joy Division at Strawberry Studios" (Legends Publishing) 

8. Fehlfarben "Gott Sei Dank Nicht In England"

9. Subhumans "Terrorist In Waiting"

Subhumans, Dick, Trotsky, Grant, Bruce, Warminster, 1 May 1982

Ian Glasper "Silence Is No Reaction - 40 Years of Subhumans" (PM Press/Earth Island Books)

10. Thee Headcoats "We're Gone" (Damaged Goods Records)

Look out for Part 2 coming soon where Paul discusses some of the early local gigs he attended in 1960's West London by The Yardbirds, The Others and Stevie Wonder, then he pays tribute to David Crosby of the Byrds and Jeff Beck. He talks about his musical hero Link Wray and how he fianlly got to meet and photograph him and explains about his photographic contributions to the new Grammy winning box-set from The Grateful Dead and plays his favourite Dead track. Please support the Artists, Musicians and Authors featured in his episode and if you like what you hear please click the highlighted links and photos above to find out more information and buy the products. All photos copyright Paul Slattery. Don't miss an episode - you can subscribe to Retrosonic Podcast for free at SoundCloud, Spotify or Apple Podcasts/iTunes.

Sunday, 11 June 2023

Michael Head & The Red Elastic Band at Shangri-La Shimokitazawa, Tokyo, May 30th - This Is Where The Magic Happens

There’s a neon sign above the bar in the Shangri-La venue in Tokyo that proclaims “This is where the magic happens”. There have been numerous books published on the Japanese misuse of English in their signage and advertising – indeed on this trip I’ve seen ‘are you excited stretch hero’ outside a gym, ‘do not flash your sanitary goods’ on a toilet door and ‘no dropping thing out of window’ on the Tokyo monorail. These signs can be confusing, bizarre and often downright hilarious but this time, there’s no sniggering at any poor translation as the Shangri-La nailed it perfectly. For tonight was certainly magical – one of those special happenings when live music truly transcends huge cultural differences, time zones and language barriers. Mick Head first came to Japan in 1985 with The Pale Fountains and it made a big impact on the Anglophile Indie scene at the time, leaving a lasting legacy that was apparent in the number of people in the crowd tonight that were there back in ’85. In fact, one of my friends even bought along her original gig ticket for Mick to sign. Now Mick is back and we were at the second of two nights with The Red Elastic Band at the Shangri-La in Shimokitazawa, Tokyo’s less commercial and less tacky version of Camden – it’s a lively area that’s crammed full of live venues, bars, record stores, vintage clothes shops and you see countless musicians wandering about carrying guitars, trying to look as cool as possible. It’s also home to probably the best ever Punk Rock ‘n’ Roll bar ever, the Poor Cow, run by Fi-Fi of the brilliant Japanese band Teengenerate. It’s the go-to place for touring bands to pop into to relax after a show, King Salami & The Cumberland 3, The Courettes have all visited and Baby Shakes told me about their love of the place in our Retrosonic Podcast. It’s an area that’s also personally very important to me as on my first trip to Japan in 1989, I was taken along to a superb Indie nightclub called Zoo which was an unforgettable experience that’s stayed with me to this day. So, to be able to see Mick in Japan was special enough but the fact it happened to be in Shimokitazawa, made it even better.

Opening up the night was Red Elastic Band guitarist Nathaniel Laurence with his second only solo live performance, the debut being the night before. Apparently, he wasn’t quite as nervous to be alone under the spotlight as the first show and he told me later, he found the experience quite daunting and if he’s going to try out new material then the other side of the world, far away from familiar, possibly more expectant or judgemental faces, is probably the best way to do it. Nat, seemed rather unsure but he needn’t have been, he did brilliantly. It was an emotionally charged performance which kind of took me by surprise, and I could understand his concerns as when you lay your soul on the line with such an intimate performance, it can be very precious. Opening with “Zombie Girl” by Adrianne Lenker he also included excellent covers of songs by Townes van Zandt and Fleetwood Mac’s Christine McVie but it was his own songs that really shined. Nat was visibly moved on a couple of occasions, particularly when he dedicated a song to Bill Ryder-Jones for his support and friendship through some tough times and also before the wonderful original song “Jaime” as he denounced the recent laws in Florida that will suppress minority groups even more. The sadly all too short set is received really well by the appreciative crowd. Nat has a great voice and if he can capture that raw intensity he showed tonight in (hopefully) future recordings, he could easily carve out a spot for himself in the somewhat overcrowded solo singer-songwriter market. 

There’s a brief respite and then the red velvet curtains are pulled back to reveal Mick and the Red Elastic Band and the first thing that hits me are the dazzling smiles as the waves of love and affection flowed from the crowd. The band certainly looked chuffed to bits to be in Japan. They opened with the brilliant “Kismet”, the first track from the stunning current album “Dear Scott” and you realise that ‘our greatest songwriter’ as the NME once dubbed him back at the peak of Shack’s success in the 90’s, has if anything got even better as the years have gone by. Songs like “Newby Street” from the “Artorius Revisited” E.P. and tracks from “Dear Scott” such as “Gino and Rico” and “American Kid” rub shoulders easily alongside the much-loved classics from The Pale Fountains and Shack. Probably the most encouraging signs are that the as yet unreleased songs played tonight promise even more greatness is to follow. The powerful, rocking “Human Race” ups the tempo and is an immediate hit with the crowd. Then the emotional nostalgia of “Shirl’s Ghost”, an instrumental teaser of which was included as the run out track of “Dear Scott”. Tonight, we get the full vocal version with Mick changing the lyrics to include tonight’s location “I’ve been to so many fabulous places, marvellous stages, beautiful faces, I’ve danced in New York, Paris and Tokyo”. It’s a beautifully evocative song. Then there’s more variety in the unashamedly romantic “You Smiled at Me” with its Burt Bacharach strains telling of a Parisian love affair. 

Mick looks in great shape and seems visibly touched by the reaction of the Japanese fans (not forgetting us visitors and ex-pats in the crowd of course…), he’s wearing a Love T-shirt so it’s no surprise that we get a rollicking version of “A House Is Not a Motel” which goes down a storm. But the audience really goes wild during the two Pale Fountains songs “Reach” and “Jean’s Not Happening” which are absolutely superb and spark off much singing along and audience participation. At one point, Mick gently coerces daughter Alice on stage to join him on “Broken Beauty”, a song they co-wrote and there’s a touching scene when they hug as the song finishes. I think one of the key aspects of Mick’s resurgence is the support that he is getting from Alice and his sister Joanne, who is also present tonight, it’s a tight knit family unit and is so refreshing to see. Of course, the Red Elastic Band concept was always meant to be flexible with a revolving cast of musicians and collaborators but the current, more settled, line-up seems to be an extension of the family and the freedom Mick gives each of the band members to express themselves creates a wonderful chemistry, particularly on stage. Too many frontmen and women from successful bands embark on solo careers and surround themselves with faceless session musicians – but I think fans and audiences really respond to that ‘band as a gang’ atmosphere. 

It’s a five-piece line-up tonight, second guitarist Danny Murphy missing out on the trip due to other touring commitments. Martin Smith on trumpet also shows off some nifty dance moves, there’s bassist Tom Powell’s smile as he loses himself in the music, long hair swaying (Tom's a popular guy, Mick superfan Ana once dubbed him ‘Jesus’ and another friend commented ‘he looks like Keanu Reeves’). Then of course there’s Nat’s brilliant guitar work and when you think he has to cover for the absent Danny and also follow on from the guitar genius that is John Head, it’s mightily impressive. He does such an amazing job and also adds his very own charismatic stage presence to proceedings. Phil Murphy on drums is another key component in the success of the Red Elastic Band as he nails the various styles and genres that snake through Mick’s music – tonight, I’m particularly struck by his work on “Stranger” with its Bossa Nova and Tropicalia feel and it kind of reminds me of The Doors’ John Densmore Jazzy style of accentuating the vocals and feel of the song. Having a supportive and empathetic record label also helps and Modern Sky have certainly delivered with “Dear Scott”, building on the great work that Violette did in establishing the Red Elastic Band with their stunning graphics and beautifully designed releases. Having Nathaniel involved in the recording process along with Bill Ryder-Jones superb production and orchestration is also a vital cog in the wheel that also includes the stunning photography of John Johnson – another important element that should not be overlooked and all the pieces of the jig-saw seem to be perfectly in place right now. 

There’s an acoustic interlude when just Nat and Mick play “As Long as I’ve Got You” and “Freedom” and then Joanne joins them to deliver a stunning performance of “Daniella” from Shack’s “HMS Fable”. There’s something so emotional in Mick’s music – the tough looking Scouser who has battled trials, tribulation and addiction as documented in tonight’s superb performance of the “Streets of Kenny”, he just has this knack of gnawing at your heartstrings and often at his shows, I find myself with a lump in the throat and a tear in the eye – it must be the dry ice eh?  I think it’s the way he wears his heart on his sleeve, allied to a totally down-to-earth attitude that endears Mick to his fans. I’ve seen some great shows by Mick over the years, but this was something else, another Shimokitazawa experience I’ll always treasure. The band were buzzing after the show, happy to meet and chat with fans, signing memorabilia and gushing about the fact that they were in Japan. They seemed as happy as we were and in these often cynical and jaded musical days, that’s a very refreshing thing. Super fan Hiro, proprietor of the unofficial Mick Head Museum (his apartment in Tokyo!) and his lovely wife Rie had made some Red Elastic Band Japanese tour souvenir wristbands which he generously handed over to us and it was nice to see Mick and the band all wearing them onstage. It was so great to be there to witness Hiro get his wish of Mick’s return to Japan and he made the most of every minute. He also stocked up on more merchandise to add to his huge collection and to paraphrase Chief Brody’s famous line in Jaws, “Hiro, you’re gonna need a bigger apartment…!” The only thing that could make the evening any better was a nightcap or two at the Poor Cow so a gang of us headed off to marvel and talk excitedly about the wonderful night that we’d all been lucky enough to have experienced.


For Mayumi, Kaz, Kurt, Hiro, Rie, all the Mick fans we met on the night, the Red Elastic Wristband Gang, Fi-Fi and all at the Poor Cow. For more videos from the show please subscribe (for free) to the Retro Man Blog YouTube channel here. For our features on previous Mick Head & The Red Elastic Band, check out the Index/Archive. For more information on Mick & The Red Elastic Band, check out their official web-site here.