Wednesday, 28 June 2017

The Skids - Part 1: Exclusive Paul Slattery Photos from 1865 Club Southampton + The Skids at The Roundhouse Review

The Skids photographed in Southampton by Paul Slattery
I know there is a school of thought that believes "Punk died when the Roxy closed down" but for me it only really began in 1978 when as an impressionable 13 year old I sat open mouthed in front of Top of The Pops and got smacked round the face by what I thought was Punk Rock. Little did I know that many purists would be sneeringly calling this "New Wave" but to me it was unbelievably exciting to be watching bands such as The Jam and The Stranglers strut their angry and energetic stuff on this mainstream Pop show. The next couple of years got even better and for me this was the golden age of the 7" single - bands such as the UK Subs, Generation X, The Ruts, The Specials, The Beat, Buzzcocks and The Undertones were producing stone cold classics that still sound as fresh and vital today as they ever did. Of course one of these bands were The Skids and I still have my copies of "Into The Valley" and the brilliant "Masquerade", my name written in biro on the back cover to make sure I got it back when we all swapped records in the classroom. Once a week after lessons there was a record club and we would often end up with bruised shins and toes from accidentally kicking chairs and desks trying to copy The Skids vocalist Richard Jobson's idiosyncratic dance moves. It would seem kids all over the country were doing the same thing as before tonight's Roundhouse show I was chatting to a pal who told me he had once broken his glasses during a strenuous "Jobson" routine. So, yes indeed there was a fair sense of nostalgia whizzing around the packed venue.

Richard Jobson of The Skids photographed in Southampton by Paul Slattery
The Skids disbanded in 1982 after which Richard Jobson formed the short-lived but excellent Armoury Show and Stuart Adamson went on to huge commercial success with Big Country. Adamson sadly committed suicide in 2001 and as his guitar work and songwriting abilities were such an integral part of The Skids it seemed unlikely that the band could ever consider re-forming. It wasn't until 2007 that a new line-up of The Skids appeared to commemorate the untimely death of Stuart Adamson and to celebrate their 30th anniversary. However, they never played outside Scotland, and no UK tours and no new material in 35 years meant that the existing loyal fan-base hadn’t really been augmented by that many younger fans over the years as has happened with Buzzcocks, The Damned, The Undertones and The Stranglers with their constant touring, new releases and subsequent promotional activity. In addition there has always been the frustrating and downright annoying fact that The Skids rarely get a mention in the numerous music press retrospectives or documentaries looking back on Punk Rock. In fact I always felt that they have been unfairly air-brushed out of music history. I don’t know why. After all they were always innovative and often challenging musically, stretching the boundaries of Punk in the same way that their more critically acclaimed contemporaries such as Wire or Magazine did. Stuart Adamson deserves to be placed alongside Bruce Gilbert from Wire, John McGeogh from Magazine, Keith Levene from PiL and Paul Fox of The Ruts as one of the truly great individual and inspirational guitarists to have come out of Punk. So I must admit to being a bit unsure of what to expect as I headed off to The Roundhouse, but I soon realised I needn't have had any concerns at all...

Jamie & Bruce Watson of The Skids photographed in Southampton by Paul Slattery
The choice of Bruce Watson to replace Stuart Adamson was inspired, after all Bruce did play in Big Country alongside Stuart so not only was there a personal connection but their guitar sounds were always so closely entwined that he was the perfect fit. The addition of Bruce’s son Jamie on second guitar was also a coup as they made a great double act on stage, trading licks and poses together. Jamie, the “Ed Sheeran lookalike” as Richard introduced him, also added some impressive backing vocals and it was nice to see he was very much part of the line-up, not just stuck at the back like a session musician. Richard Jobson led us in a round of applause for Stuart and the situation was perfectly handled, it wasn’t overly sentimental or maudlin and I didn’t hear anyone complaining about Bruce or Jamie’s roles. In fact, truth be told, the band sounded amazing, bursting with a seething energy that proved they were up for this as much as the adoring Roundhouse crowd. Richard Jobson looked remarkably fit and muscular, he didn’t stop moving throughout the whole show and the familiar high kicks and shadow boxing are all present or as he jokingly comments "moving from leg to another". He laughs that he is flattered when someone calls it dancing, but then adds “I don’t care, the music is joyous and takes over” and you just have to admire him. His voice is fantastically rich and powerful too and you realise that he is an extremely underrated singer that certainly deserves a hell of lot more credit than he currently gets.

Richard Jobson of The Skids photographed in Southampton by Paul Slattery
We are treated to a near perfect set-list featuring all those classic hits that I once saw on Top Of The Pops as a teenager and a great selection of album tracks too. I say ‘near perfect’ as for some reason they omit one of my favourite tracks “Sweet Suburbia” which I still remember hearing for the first time on the brilliant compilation album “Twenty of Another Kind” but I guess you can't have everything. From the debut album “Scared To Dance” the vicious “Melancholy Soldiers” is a fist pumping singalong classic and “Of One Skin” is so good it gets played twice. Debut single “Charles” with its nightmarish vision of a factory worker slowly merging into his machine was a sinister delight and of course we get the truly anthemic “The Saints Are Coming” which sees Jobson paying tribute to the firefighters and emergency services who battled so courageously with the Grenfell Tower tragedy. He chats about the band’s early days “the thing about being one of the first Scottish Punk bands was that we got to support all the big names like Buzzcocks, Sex Pistols, The Damned and we were better than all of them! Nah, I’m lying, that was just fake news!” 

The Skids photographed in Southampton by Paul Slattery
Original Bassist Bill Simpson looked cool in his shades and his iconic, thunderous intro to “Into The Valley” sent a shiver down the spine, inciting a huge joyous roar from the crowd. Richard tells the story of his audition for The Skids back in 1977 and confesses that afterwards Bill had told Stuart “he can’t sing, he can’t dance” and Stuart replied “that's fantastic!” The tracks from "Days In Europa" are stunning and there's a real thrill when those instantly recognisable bubbling sequencers and synth motifs that herald “Working For The Yankee Dollar” and “Animation” fizz out of the speakers. “Masquerade”, “Charade” there's so many great songs and such depth of material. More stunning tracks from the album such as “Thanatos”, “'Dulce et Decorum Est” and “The Olympian” prove that they could have easily extended their impressive run of hit singles if they had been chosen. Talking of strength of material, “Out of Town” one of my personal favourites on the night was originally just a B-side to the stand-alone release “Masquerade” and I thought most bands would kill to have a single as good as “Out of Town” let alone a B-side!

Mike Baillie of The Skids photographed in Southampton by Paul Slattery
I couldn’t see much of drummer Mike Baillie as he was hidden behind his cymbals but his drumming was mightily impressive. Mike joined the band in time to play on their most commercially successful album “The Absolute Game” and from that we got a scorching “Circus Games” which was one of the highlights of the night. I wasn’t so keen on this album when it originally came out, particularly the singles “Hurry On Boys” and “Woman In Winter”, but tonight they were outstanding as Richard turned them both into huge emotionally charged singalongs, encouraging everyone to join in on backing vocals. He thanks us for being the only crowd on the tour so far who haven’t shouted out for “TV Stars”, the “worst song we ever wrote”, but of course they play it anyway…after all the chance to scream “Albert Tatlock!” at the top of your voice was never going to be passed up. The good news is that the future looks bright for The Skids too as for the final encore they played a promising new song from their forthcoming album “Burning Skies” and I sincerely hope that this will be successful in enticing another generation of music fans to check out The Skids.

The Skids photographed in Southampton by Paul Slattery
Eagle-eyed Skids fans might notice that although my review is from The Roundhouse in London, Paul Slattery’s photos are from the gig in Southampton. It’s rare that we attend different shows but I’m sure you would much rather see Paul’s excellent pictures than mine! Anyway I can recommend those of you who were at Southampton to check out Ged Babey’s superb review in “Louder Than War” if you want your photos and feature in sync. The forthcoming Skids album “Burning Skies” is available to pre-order via a Pledgemusic campaign here and you can also order a live CD of the Roundhouse show here. Paul Slattery has a book of his early Skids photos entitled "Scared To Dance: The Skids 1979-80" published by Hanging Around Books which is run by the music journalist, and long-time Skids supporter, Ronnie Gurr. You can see some videos of The Skids and support act The Vapors at The Roundhouse over at our YouTube channel here. For up-to-date news and details of future tour dates please check out the official Skids web-site here.

Richard Jobson photographed in Southampton by Paul Slattery
With thanks to Paul Slattery for the excellent pictures. All photos copyright Paul Slattery 2017.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

The Stompin' Riff Raffs at Club Three Shimokitazawa Tokyo

The Stompin' Riff Raffs at Club Three Tokyo
It was great news to see that The Stompin' Riff Raffs were playing a gig in Tokyo while I was there and the chance to see them in a small basement club in Shimokitazawa was too good an opportunity to pass up. After all they do rank up there among the best live acts I've ever seen and any band that can make a theremin sexy has got my vote! I first saw them play at last year's Hipsville Weekender where the enthusiastic organizers Mr A, Alex and Ade can be relied on to scour all corners of the planet to bring us unbelievably good Garage Rock bands. I've been introduced to bands from Mexico such as Los Sustos, the fabulous Autoramas from Brazil, Messer Chups from Russia and The Jackets from Switzerland to name a few. But they really surpassed themselves with The Stompin' Riff Raffs. Getting them over from Japan can't have been easy and the band were hit by technical problems on the day which unfortunately put paid to Miku's keyboards. However the young Tokyo based band continued to put in a stunningly energetic performance, Miku endearing herself to the crowd by still going through the motions of playing her broken keyboard just in case it miraculously burst in life!

Miku of The Stompin' Riff Raffs at Club Three Tokyo
Rie of The Stompin' Riff Raffs at Club Three Tokyo
So, back to the present and I'm down the front at Club Three eagerly awaiting my second experience of The Stompin' Riff Raffs. They burst onto the stage and crash straight into the Surf-Psych instrumental "Parabellum". Three girls and a guy. The girls dressed identically in sparkling 1930's style flapper dresses and Green Hornet face masks. Miku plays her theremin as though it were a guitar, twisting ear-bustingly weird yet wonderful noises from it. Drummer Saori is all smiles behind her kit and super-cool bassist Rie looks great while adding harmonies and backing vocals. Singer and guitarist Nao is a truly charismatic front-man as he throws everything into his performance. The Sonics' "The Witch" gets a good Stompin' and "Surfside Date" sounds amazing. There are elements of Link Wray, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Cramps and the Ramones in their quick-fire no pause for breath approach. One of my highlights of the night is the penultimate killer track "Horror Show", which you can hear in Episode 22 of Retrosonic Podcast here

Saori of The Stompin' Riff Raffs at Club Three Tokyo
Nao of The Stompin' Riff Raffs at Club Three Tokyo
The band are all smiles and their enthusiasm is infection as the crowd go wild, there's a real sense of fun and abandonment with The Stompin' Riff Raffs. The set draws to a crazed end with another theremin-led instrumental "Ghost Train" during which all hell breaks loose on stage and everything falls apart in glorious chaos! What a show and what a band! My only complaint was that due to time restraints there was no encore so I didn't get to hear my favourite track "Linda" but I was more than satisfied. Let's hope they come back to the U.K. again very soon. You can check out more 'up close and personal' videos of the band at the Club Three Shimokitazawa and Hipsville 2016 over at our Retro Man Blog YouTube channel here. Here's a little taster...



For more info on The Stompin' Riff Raffs check out their official Facebook page here.

Lester Square "Carcass" - New Solo Album from The ex-Monochrome Set & Adam & The Ants Guitarist

Lester Square photographed by Paul Slattery at our Retro Man Blog Night back in 2014
Lester Square, the original guitarist in Adam & The Ants and co-founder of The Monochrome Set has just released a new solo album entitled "Carcass". The title track features Lester's trademark twanging riffs that will of course be familiar to fans of The Monochrome Set. It's a great opener, like Dick Dale or Link Wray performing the soundtrack to an Ennio Morricone Spaghetti Western movie. Another personal highlight is "Time Flies" which is a beautifully pastoral song with vocals from The Chefs' Helen McCookerybook that reminds me of Goldfrapp's "Seventh Tree" album and it wouldn't have been out of place on the soundtrack to "The Wicker Man". Although by the end the peaceful landscape seems to get shattered and polluted by the sound of screaming fighter jets. The rest of the album features a diverse set of evocative and mainly instrumental songs that range from pulsing funky brass to baroque orchestral pieces. There's even some Gaelic Pipe Folk rubbing shoulders with organ driven tracks that touch on The Senior Service or James Taylor Quartet's output. But of course it's Lester's instantly recognisable and inventive, yet still seriously underrated, guitar work that is the star of the show. As well as recording eleven studio albums with The Monochrome Set, Lester has also recorded with The Invisible, Jesus Couldn’t Drum, ...And The Native Hipsters, Victory Through Sound and Helen McCookerybook. The official description of the album goes something like this: "Carcass, is a product of its times; a collection, if you will, of protest instrumentals; sound poems to chart these extraordinary times. Whether imagining the insect winners of a post nuclear winter, or the secrets of the Trump penthouse, these works are in equal measure poignant, sarcastic, angry and hopeful. It has been said that revolution today has no soundtrack in the same way that the anti-Vietnam draft resistance of the sixties did. For what its worth the redress starts here". You can order the CD of "Carcass" from Lester's Bandcamp page here.


Lester will be re-joining The Monochrome Set for two very special gigs at The Lexington in Islington to celebrate 40 years since The Monochrome Set formed. The band will be playing their first two albums "Strange Boutique" and "Love Zombies" in their entirety and a set of favourites, over two nights, Saturday 10th February and Sunday 11th February next year. The gig is being promoted by Bizarro and support on both nights comes from The Would-Be-Goods Two who feature Jessica Griffin and Peter Momtchiloff of the original WBG's playing a stripped down set of songs old and new. You can order tickets in advance from We Got Tickets here. There's no news yet if Lester will be playing any solo gigs to promote the release of "Carcass" but in the meantime here's the title track.


Lester Square photo copyright Paul Slattery. You can see a feature, including more of Paul's excellent photos of our Retro Man Blog Night featuring The Monochrome Set and The Fallen Leaves back in May 2014 at the Retro Man Blog archive here

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Oh! Gunquit - New Album "Lightning Likes Me" & Weirdsville Headline Show on June 24th


Oh! Gunquit have released a new album "Lightning Likes Me" on Decapitator Records, it features four tracks originally released last year on their "Hot Cross Fun" limited edition cassette only E.P. recorded with Jim Diamond and six superb brand new songs. The album also introduces new saxophonist Chuchi who has previously played with King Salami & The Cumberland 3 and I'm sure he's going to add another dimension to the band's already exceptional live shows. The album is packed full of Oh! Gunquit's strongest material to date, so if you are already aware of the band's previous releases then you'll get some idea of just how good this record is. Oh! Gunquit don't just straddle various genres but gleefully kick them to pieces as you might gather by this description from Dirty Water Records, who released the band's debut album: "Oh! Gunquit are a Rumble-Bop, Surf-Punk Band who concoct a brew of Raw R&R, Wild Garage Rock and Twisted Freak-a-Billy" - try finding that in the record store racks! Their blend of eminently danceable swampy, voodoo-touched Exotica will get even us old-timers bouncing around the room. The album is packed full of clever riffs and twists and turns that defy any categorization and the abundant melodies are nicely underpinned by some welcome off-kilter touches that on occasion remind me of Gallon Drunk meeting the B-52's. My personal highlight off the album has to be "Greasy Moves" which distills the essence of Oh! Gunquit into four lip-smackingly lascivious minutes. You can hear another highlight from the album, the stunning "Fireballs" in our Retrosonic Podcast Episode 25 here.


You can order the "Lightning Likes Me" album direct from the Oh! Gunquit Bandcamp site here. One track from the album "Nomads of The Lost" was released as a limited edition green vinyl single on  Trash Wax Records and it's well worth getting from the label here, now enjoy the video!



Oh! Gunquit will headline the always excellent Weirdsville club night at the Fiddler's Elbow in Camden on Saturday June 24th with support from Emptifish and DJ's until 3am. It's sure to be a busy night so better make sure you book your tickets in advance from Weirdsville at the link here.

Oh! Gunquit photographed by Paul Slattery
For more info check out the Oh! Gunquit Facebook page here. Colour photo copyright Paul Slattery.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Stupidity - "10 Years of Stupidity" New Greatest Hits Collection from the Swedish R'n'B Garage Rockers

Stupidity Photographed in Camden, London by Paul Slattery
The Stockholm based raw R'n'B & Garage Rock band Stupidity celebrate ten years of impressive recorded history by releasing a superb "best of" compilation entitled "10 Years of Stupidity" on Go Fast Records. With tracks selected and remastered from all of their four albums along with the 2015 single "Get Up" and a previously unreleased track "OK", it's the perfect collection for fans old and new. The band have been busy recently, gathering yet more support from Little Steven's Underground Garage, playing live with Duncan Reid & The Big Heads and drummer Tommy has recently been interviewed for Mighty Manfred's radio show which you can listen to at Soundcloud.


You can order the album directly from the band's official Stupidity web-site store here. Here's a video of one of the tracks that appears on the album, this is "Baby It's You" filmed by Retro Man Blog at a Garageland Club night in at The Unicorn in Camden back in 2015. Photo copyright Paul Slattery.



Friday, 2 June 2017

Ian Person - New Solo Album, Movie Soundtrack and Side Project from the ex-Soundtrack of Our Lives & Union Carbide Productions Guitarist


Ian Person, formerly guitarist with The Soundtrack of Our Lives and Union Carbide Productions, has certainly been busy recently. First of all Welfare Sounds & Records will release his brand new solo album "Exit: Highway Of Light" on June 09th and it features thirteen cracking guitar based Rock 'n' Roll tracks. It's a long time coming, following on some eleven years after his excellent debut solo/TV soundtrack album "Diamonds In The Rough" and it's available to pre-order from Bengans. Ian has also composed the soundtrack (along with his ex-TSOOL colleague Kalle Gustafsson Jerneholm) to a new movie featuring Sidse Babett Knudsen from "Borgen" and "Westworld" entitled "Ikitie". If that's not enough he has now teamed up with Per Stålberg from Division of Laura Lee to form a scorching Punk Rock outfit called Pablo Matisse. The Gothenburg based band, who also feature Samuel Järpvik and Mikael Björklund, have just released a six track E.P. "Deep In Guilt" on Startracks Records and it's a vicious blast of tuneful hardcore Punk that I'm sure will appeal to fans of Husker Du and Black Flag and of course Ian's old band Union Carbide Productions. The E.P. includes a rip-roaring take on Fugazi's piano ballad "I'm So Tired" that will blow you away! You can check out the album and find out more details on the band at their official Facebook page here.


Here's a track from Ian's new solo album "Exit: Highway of Light" entitled "Yo-Yo".



We've featured Ian's various projects extensively here at Retro Man Blog and also at Retrosonic Podcast, so please feel free check out our archives for various features and interviews from his time with The Soundtrack of Our Lives to his solo work, his album with Swedish Rock & Roll legend Jerry Williams and even his movie soundtrack work including his amazing score from the "Fotbollens Sista Proletärer" documentary about IFK Göteborg where we spoke to the film's directors and Swedish footballer Glenn Hysén. Here's a great interview with Ian and his ex-TSOOL colleague Fredrik Sandsten which sheds an honest and amusing light on their musical careers.





Thursday, 1 June 2017

The Baron Four - New Album "Silvaticus" Launch Party Gig at The Lexington on June 16th

The Baron Four at last November's Retro Man Blog Night Photographed by Paul Slattery
The Baron Four celebrate the release of their long-awaited second album "Silvaticus" with a launch party gig at The Lexington, 96-98 Pentonville Road, London on Friday June 16th. Support comes from The Teamsters and Elsa from The Missing Souls will be DJ'ing in the downstairs bar until the early hours. You'll be able to buy copies of the album on CD or vinyl on the night prior to the official release date of June 30th. If you order tickets in advance you'll be in with the chance of snagging a limited edition numbered CD featuring an instrumental version of "Just How You Want To Be". You can get tickets at the bargain price of £4.95 from here


"Silvaticus" is being released on Get Hip Recordings and here's some more info from the label..."ten new, original songs by singer/bassist Mike Whittaker jostle for space with two covers: the recently unearthed "Wild Angel" by James Bond & The Agents from 1967, and a radical reworking of the Bo Diddley classic "I Can Tell" featuring relative newcomer CK Smith on some of the dirtiest blues harp you’re likely to hear this year! Elsewhere, Mr. Smith lays down some killer guitar parts, deft and assured, with just the right amount of grit, complementing fellow axe-man Joe Eakins’ relentless rhythm. There’s even a 12-string in there! Set for release on Friday June 30th, the album will be available on Opaque Orange color vinyl (limited to 300), classic black vinyl (limited to 200), CD and digital. All LP’s include a complimentary download coupon".


Here's the band filmed at our Retro Man Blog Night at The Half Moon night last November.



For more information and up-to-date news on the band please check out their Facebook page here.