Saturday, 15 December 2018

Graham Day & The Gaolers with The Galileo 7 at Damaged Goods Records 30th Anniversary, The Lexington

Graham Day & The Gaolers - Photo copyight Retro Man Blog
In an early episode of Retrosonic Podcast, we were picking tracks by our favourite bands and artists and the question came up, whatever happened to Graham Day...? There had been no news on the former Prisoners singer/songwriter since Graham Day & The Gaolers had split up a few years earlier. Graham formed The Gaolers by recruiting drummer Dan Eletxro and bassist Buzz Hagstrom from The Woggles, one of his favourite bands and in 2007 they released a stunning debut album “Soundtrack To The Daily Grind”. Buzz was later replaced by Jon Barker from The Daggermen (currently with Graham in The Senior Service) and they released the superb follow up “Triple Distilled” a year later. “Triple Distilled” was one of those rare classic albums where everything just clicks. Right through from the stunning cover art to the blistering production to the mind-blowing collection of top quality songs within, it was faultless. Sadly, The Gaolers were a short-lived affair and things suddenly went very quiet. Then out of the blue came the announcement of a Prime Movers reunion when Graham, Allan Crockford and Wolf Howard were lured back to play some shows thanks to an offer from a German record label. This would eventually lead to Graham Day & The Forefathers when the trio had the idea to play a selection of ‘hits’ from all the Graham fronted bands, not only the Prime Movers but The Prisoners, The SolarFlares and The Gaolers too. They were a “tribute band to himself” as Graham told us in our Forefathers special Retrosonic Podcast

Graham Day & The Gaolers - Photo copyight Retro Man Blog
Dan & Jon, The Gaolers - Photo copyight Retro Man Blog
When I heard the news about The Forefathers, I leapt at the chance to offer them a gig at one of my Retro Man Blog Nights at The Half Moon in Putney. The opportunity to work with one of my musical heroes and make our old Podcast wish to see Graham play live again come true, was too good to miss. We would go on to put on three memorable shows with The Forefathers, in particular one on Graham’s birthday, which included an extra special surprise when they dusted down the legendary Prisoners Star Trek stage outfits. I have to admit I had a lump in my throat when I went backstage before that show and saw the tunics hanging up behind the door as it took me back to the very first time I saw The Prisoners on CH4’s The Tube in 1984. Some of my personal highlights from The Forefathers set were actually tracks by The Gaolers and I had a cunning plan to see if Graham would consider re-forming the band. I knew he had a soft spot for them too and it was discussed in a roundabout way but the timings didn’t quite work out. It did however sow the seeds for our two sold-out SolarFlares reunion gigs at The Water Rats in Kings Cross - by coincidence, the same venue (although then known as The Pindar of Wakefield) where The Tube filmed The Prisoners in their Strar Trek outfits all those years ago. Then we also put on the debut single launch party by Graham’s instrumental outfit, The Senior Service at The Half Moon but deep down, I still harboured ambitions to put on a Gaolers reunion show one day. 

Graham Day & The Gaolers - Photo copyight Retro Man Blog
Graham Day & The Gaolers - Photo copyight Retro Man Blog
So I must admit to having mixed emotions when it was announced earlier this year that The Gaolers would indeed be getting back but only for a one-off appearance as part of the Damaged Goods Records 30th anniversary celebrations at The Lexington. Part of me was disappointed but at least it meant I could be there, down the front, purely as a fan without all the pressure and responsibility of promoting the gig. Anyway, who can compete with or begrudge Damaged Goods Records, they did release The Gaolers albums after all and I knew label boss Ian was a huge fan, as he explained in our Damaged Goods Records special Podcast here. The band take the stage, looking good in their matching black military style tunics with red piping – Graham picks up his cool Gretsch guitar, Dan with his trademark cap is behind the drums and Jon Barker is on bass. There is a real sense of anticipation as they launch into the first number “Glad I’m Not Young” and the roof is nearly lifted off The Lexington with the sheer power of it. It really is a great song, with lyrics harking back to the violence between the youth cults that many of us had to deal with as teenagers and it is refreshing to hear something that’s not all rose-tinted nostalgia. Another plus side of getting older is finally being able to say what you mean and this is perfectly captured in the next song “Better Man”. 

Graham Day & The Gaolers - Photo copyight Retro Man Blog
Of course, the negative experiences are also dealt with in the brutally frank “Part Time Dad” which is a loud and raucous stunner. Although Graham professes to dislike writing lyrics, I think his work with The Gaolers is up there with the best. Both Gaolers albums feature searingly honest songs touching on the issues of a man coming to terms with impending middle age. They are often shot through with a self-deprecating humour though, in particular “Something About You Girl” which is an evocative vignette of a guy getting slightly more than he bargained for from his date. However, I don’t want to look too deeply into the meaning of the lyrics, as Graham is on hand to admonish any such pretensions in the all too modest “Just a Song”. After all, as he sings, these are “not words to analyse or scrutinise”. Graham hands around a bottle of Jim Beam to his two colleagues and to his grateful mates standing side of stage before slamming into a great version of “Pass That Whiskey”. The swirling “Lost Without My Dignity” slows the pace a little and allows for a quick breather and chance to reflect that actually, I do wish I was young. We were treated to the added bonus of two excellent brand new songs “Just a Little” and “I’m Not The Only One” and they were both soulful with memorable catchy guitar riffs. The good news is that the band have recently been in Ranscombe Studios with Jim Riley and have recorded them for a future Damaged Goods Records single. It is a relief to those of us who have been patiently waiting for some new Graham Day material and I guess they might well find their way into a Forefathers set in the near future. 

Graham Day & The Gaolers - Photo copyight Retro Man Blog
Dan of The Gaolers - Photo copyight Retro Man Blog
An explosive “The Most Expensive Sleep” is followed by their classic debut single “Get Off My Track” which is a vitriolic burst of energy and the set draws to a close all too quickly. Of course, there are demands for an encore and “Wanna Smoke”, that fist waving singalong rant at political correctness goes down a storm. A Graham Day show would not be complete without an instrumental tune, after all The Gaolers were responsible for one of his best in “Sitar Spangled Banner”. Tonight though it’s a slight case of sitar-mangled banner and the three bandmates trade sheepish grins as they stumble a bit half way through. Anyway, we didn’t really care whether all the right notes were being played in the right order or not as we were having way too much fun to worry. The band are called back for a well-deserved second encore and play a crunching “Begging You” which ends the show perfectly and they lap up the heartfelt applause. With the new single coming out soon I’m sincerely hoping there may be the possibility of more Gaolers gigs to promote it next time Dan is over in the U.K. and I’m certainly going to be first in the queue with an offer!     

The Galileo 7 - Photo copyight Retro Man Blog
The Galileo 7 opened the show and put in one of their best performances to date. I mean, I was blown away by their set supporting Ebbot Lundberg at the Retro Man Blog Night back in October but this was even better. Allan Crockford certainly seems to have grown in confidence as both a frontman and vocalist, attacking his guitar and leaping around, trying to avoid being injured by Paul Moss, the bouncing bassist to his left, who only stands still when he has to deliver some backing vocals. They are becoming a great visual live act nowadays with Allan and Paul vying for space as drummer Mole kicks up a Tasmanian devil storm behind them. Then there is Viv swaying along behind her keyboard, managing to play with one hand whilst keeping the beat with her tambourine in the other. The band kick off with the powerful “One Lie at a Time” and tonight, the set concentrates on their current album “Tear Your Mind Wide Open”, taking in the superb title track and the melodic Power Pop of “Live For Yesterday”. 

The Galileo 7 - Photo copyight Retro Man Blog
However, it’s “The Mask” that is a real highlight, cramming mind-bending twists and turns into a song that some might call a mini-opera. It’s as if The Who had condensed the whole of “A Quick One” into a three and a half-minute masterpiece. The stunning quick-fire ending sees people standing there open-mouthed watching Mole in awe. He certainly rose to the added pressure of being watched by some mighty fine drummers as I spot Lois from The Embrooks, Wolf Howard and Johnny Symons from The Prisoners in the crowd enjoying a night off. There is a dip into the band’s debut album for the crowd favourite “Orangery Lane”, a classic piece of Syd Barrett inspired Psych Pop, which segued into a cracking version of Pink Floyd’s “Astronomy Domine”. At least they are not shy of acknowledging their influences. The band know how to plan a set-list too; the dynamics are always perfectly plotted and live, the vocal backing harmonies of Mole, Paul and Viv really lift the songs to another level. Viv handles lead vocals on a promising new unreleased track “Too Late” and despite “Tear Your Mind Wide Open” only being a year old, there is a good chunk of the new LP already written. The band seem to be fizzing with a creative energy and have been dropping in some more impressive teasers into their set recently, including the brilliant “Everything Is Everything Else”. This is a classic piece of melodic Garage Pop, which surely must be nailed on as a future 7” single release. 

The Galileo 7 - Photo copyight Retro Man Blog
I can feel there is an impatience to keep moving on, to keep improving and the new songs I have heard are catchy and concise and slot in perfectly among the more familiar material. Just like their gigs, the albums have been getting progressively better too so I am already impatient to hear what is coming next. They end the set with an oldie “Are We Having Fun Yet?” and when Allan sings those words in the chorus we all reply with the cynical response “no, I don’t think so”, but don’t worry, we certainly don’t mean it…! There was a real buzz in the crowd after their set and the talk centred on just how much The Galileo 7 are improving with each passing show. I am hoping that if they can get some more decent high profile gigs such as this one, they are sure to be converting a lot more people to the cause. The band are keen to play more shows so any promoters out there please do get in touch. I must also mention DJ Lee Grimshaw from the Spinout Show who was on hand to keep us entertained between the live music and as usual, his eclectic mix went down a storm. So, a great night out to celebrate Damaged Goods Records 30th birthday and long may they continue!



For more photos of the night please visit the Retro Man Blog Facebook page here and you can find some videos of both bands over at our Retro Man Blog YouTube channel here. Please click the highlighted links throughout the feature to check out further information. 

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Union Carbide Productions - Reunion Show at Stora Teatern, Gothenburg November 9th 2018

Union Carbide Productions, Stora Teatern Gothenburg, Photo Retro Man Blog
Earlier this year came the exciting news that Union Carbide Productions, the legendary Swedish Psychedelic Punk band who were to evolve into The Soundtrack of Our Lives, were getting back together to promote the release of the “Live At CBGB’s New York 1988” album. They played two high profile summer outdoor shows at the Liseberg and Gröna Lund amusement parks in Gothenburg and Stockholm respectively. I was gutted that I had to miss these, even more so when I heard reports about how great they were afterwards. However, following the success of these two gigs there came the sudden announcement of three more quick-fire dates in Malmö, Stockholm and Gothenburg. I could only make the Gothenburg show and the initial excitement was dampened somewhat when I saw that the venue would be the Stora Teatern. Now I like this place, it is a beautiful building right on the canal side at Kungsparken but it is a proper all-seater theatre with balconies and boxes and all that. When we saw Ebbot & The Indigo Children there earlier this year, we nearly got caught out as the gig started promptly at 7pm. Surely, it couldn’t be the same for Union Carbide Productions, one of Sweden’s most outrageous and confrontational bands? 

Union Carbide Productions, Stora Teatern Gothenburg, Photo Retro Man Blog
However, there were clues that it was going to be an early night as we saw advertisements that Ebbot was playing another solo gig in the city at 10pm. Friends speculated that sometimes the Stora held gigs at the back of the venue and that was all standing so we might be in luck. Unfortunately not. We entered the venue into the seated auditorium. Suddenly, the house lights dimmed and the band appeared on stage promptly and crashed straight into the classic “Financial Declaration” with Ebbot screaming the songs central theme “I want more!” as we were still trying to find our seats. There were photos of people stagediving at the Stockholm gig the night before and I saw videos from the Liseberg after-show party where the band played an intense, highly charged set at a smaller venue. Even Ebbot stage-dived at that show, much to the consternation of those in the front row I can imagine. That was more of what I was expecting and looking forward to but there was no chance of Ebbot stagediving at the Stora Teatern, that’s for sure! It is quite difficult to explain the feeling when you are watching a band like UCP sitting down, you want to get up and jump about and go crazy but everyone remained seated throughout the whole show and it was a surreal experience. It must have been a bit weird for the band too, after all Ebbot in particular thrives on interaction and often confrontation with an audience but they channelled any restrictions they must have felt into the music and they sounded amazing. It reminded me of seeing The Brian Jonestown Massacre last month where I had seats at the front row of the balcony at a reasonably large venue. 

Union Carbide Productions, Stora Teatern Gothenburg, Photo Retro Man Blog
Now that Anton Newcombe has managed to curb his more confrontational behaviour and people are no longer turning up at gigs trying to goad him into violence, you are left to concentrate on the performance, and most importantly, the music. This is where I can have no complaints with the Union Carbide Productions show. In fact, just like the BJM, once you take away the unpredictable, chaotic and dangerous elements of each band you just have to appreciate and marvel at the sheer quality of the song writing. It was something that certainly shone through in this environment and proved what a superb back catalogue and musical legacy they have left behind. The Stooges were an obvious influence on early UCP but Ebbot didn’t just take Iggy’s primal howl as his vocal inspiration – he took on his crooning baritone too. I can understand why Ebbot also loves early Misfits with Glenn Danzig’s impressive voice floating over their primitive Punk music. It’s what our good friends The Fallen Leaves spoke about in their Retrosonic Podcast special episode – that juxtaposition of Rob Green’s ‘proper’ singing against the discordant angular guitar of Rob Symmons, it’s a special chemistry. However, Union Carbide Productions also absorbed The Stooges sax driven Free-Form Jazz stylings too and tonight the addition of the excellent Lisen Rylander on Sax and Keyboards was a really nice touch, allowing the songs to develop just like on the records. 

Union Carbide Productions, Stora Teatern Gothenburg, Photo Retro Man Blog
For example the slow and hypnotic “Career Opportunities” which is based on a great repetitive bass riff and Ebbot sings “I'm waiting for change, for a different song" as it segues into the instrumental psych wig-out “Down on the Beach”. One of my highlights of the night is “San Francisco Boogie” which again is built around a snaking bass riff and is shot through with an exotic Eastern feel. In fact they were to record a sitar version and it’s certainly a distinct precursor to The Soundtrack of Our Lives classic “Mantra Slider”. There is so much going on in my head when I listen to UCP, from the Stones swagger to touches of the abstract Post-Punk of bands such as Pere Ubu and the challenging, thought-provoking music of Captain Beefheart. Take the classic “Born in The ‘60’s” which at first sounds just like a straight ahead storming Rock’n’Roll number but then you realise that the drumming is totally off the wall, the time signature is mind-bendingly weird and that is down to Henrik Rylander’s brilliance as a drummer. It also reminds me that there must have been some influence of Krautrock bands such as Can and Neu! in UCP’s relentless groove. The tribal, almost Glam Rock drum pattern that kicks off the immense “Glad To Have You Back” is a reminder that Ebbot has been lucky enough to work with some truly fantastic drummers over the years such as Henrik, Fredrik Sandsten in TSOOL and then with Hugo Mårtensson and Anton Fernandez in The Indigo Children. The rhythm section is completed not by one but two bassists. 

Union Carbide Productions, Stora Teatern Gothenburg, Photo Retro Man Blog
There’s original member Per Helm, who played on the first two LP’s and his replacement Adam Wladis, who despite appearing at the infamous CBGB’s show and the subsequent live album (which, after all was the initial reason for the reunion) didn’t get to record in the studio with the band as far as I know. Rather than take turns on songs they play the whole set simultaneously, both looking cool dressed in black and flanking Henrik’s drum kit. At first, I was a bit sceptical about the two basses but it worked really well, it wasn’t as bombastic as I was expecting, they built a nicely menacing wall of sound. The machine gun staccato attack of “Three Mile Eyes” is counterbalanced by the brooding “Down On The Farm” with Ebbot sounding like Jim Morrison as he draws out the “beautiful friend” line. Patrick Caganis is an undoubted genius on the guitar and I was so pleased to finally get to see him play live. Looking good with his blonde hair and mirror shades, he channels all the best of Ron Asheton and James Williamson into his stinging guitar riffs and as the songs whizz past I’m getting flashes of Denis Tez, Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith and Wayne Kramer all swirling round in the mix. He also sings the main vocals on “Got My Eyes On You” a rare excursion to the third album “From Influence To Ignorance”.  I think everyone was hoping for an appearance by Patrick’s original guitar partner Björn Olsson, even if it was just for the encore, but sadly, it was not to be. It would have made this home-coming show even more special, after all the band are forever tied to Gothenburg and you can even hear it in Björn’s solo music, which is heavily influenced by the stunning local Bohuslän coastline. In recent years, he has shunned the limelight and concentrated his attention on song writing and production work with some high profile Swedish acts such as Mando Diao and Håkan Hellström and has rarely, if ever performed live since he left TSOOL in 1997. 

Union Carbide Productions, Stora Teatern Gothenburg, Photo Retro Man Blog
Björn’s place in the current line-up has been taken by the talented Billy Cervin from Side Effects who has been used to playing some of the old UCP songs with Ebbot & The Indigo Children over the past couple of years. He has already proved himself a mighty fine deputy, having previously stood in for Mattias Bärjed in TSOOL on a few occasions. Billy single-handedly rescued our recent Retro Man Blog gig for Ebbot in London by drafting in equally talented musicians for a new Indigo Children line-up at very short notice and it was great to see him again and chat about the London show. Talking of guitarists…I’m also left wondering if further reunions will see an expanding of the set-list to take in more songs from their last two LP’s and if so will we see appearances by Ian Person who is currently busy with his new band Pablo Matisse, now that really would be something really special. Anyway back to the music, a quite remarkable “Maximum Dogbreath” is another personal highlight, the set draws to a close with the classic swaggering “Be Myself Again”, and finally we can stand up and show our appreciation. The well-deserved encore sees a raucous run though of the early Punk favourites “Cartoon Animal” and “Ring My Bell” from the first album and the band are even coaxed out for a second curtain call and a crunching “So Long”. So despite my initial reservations, Union Carbide Productions triumphed against the odds and I feel emotionally drained from finally having witnessed such a superb show from a band I never thought I would get to see play live. 

Ebbot & The New Places Orchestra at Nefertiti, Gothenburg
As everything was finished by 9:15pm it meant there was plenty of time to enjoy the after show party which took place at the excellent Nefertiti venue and saw Ebbot fronting the impressive 20 piece New Places Orchestra. It was great to hear Jazz takes on some TSOOL songs such as “Galaxy Gramophone”, “You Are The Beginning” and “Second Life Replay” along with Ebbot’s debut solo single “(Drowning In A) Wishing Well” and UCP’s “Glad To Have You Back”. There were also surprising covers of The Misfits, The Residents and a bit of “Pipeline” thrown in for good measure and all highlighted Ebbot’s excellent vocals. It was great fun and nice to catch up with Kalle & Fredrik from The Soundtrack of Our Lives and the music journalist and long-time TSOOL supporter, Andrew Perry. A perfect ending to a superb night’s entertainment.



Union Carbide Productions have another confirmed gig in Oslo in February and there is some more exciting news as it has just been officially announced that the filmmaker Hans-Erik Therus and Producer Hjalmar Palmgren are working on a documentary about the band. It started out as a documentary about Björn Olsson but the idea soon grew to incorporate the complete UCP story. The film is currently under production and there is a start-up Facebook page here where you can get more news on the movie’s progress. For more photos from the Stora Teatern show please check out the Retro Man Blog Facebook page here and there are some videos at our YouTube channel here. Ebbot discussed the reunion and “Live at CBGBs” album in our recent interview in the build up to his Retro Man Blog London show last month and you can check it out in the Blog archive here. You might also be interested in the story of Nymphet Noodlers; the other great pre-TSOOL band in the archive here. For the full story on Union Carbide Productions, you cannot better the immense feature in issue 16 of Mike Stax’s superb “Ugly Things” magazine. 

Monday, 5 November 2018

Joe Strummer 001 - Photos From the Recent Exhibition of Joe's Personal Archive at the Fred Perry Store Covent Garden


To celebrate the release of the stunning limited edition deluxe box set "Joe Strummer 001" the Fred Perry store in Covent Garden put on an excellent free exhibition of memorabilia which ended on October 14th. The majority of the exhibition came from Joe's own personal collection, he left an archive of over 20,000 items including lyrics, set lists and notebooks, artwork, photographs and audio recordings; as well as instruments, clothing and studio equipment and many of these have never been seen before. It was quite moving to see a couple of my Retro Man Blog colleague Paul Slattery's photos were there among the collection too. Here are a few photos from the exhibition, you can see more at the Retro Man Blog Facebook page here.










All photos copyright Retro Man Blog
The "Joe Strummer 001" anthology is a comprehensive pick of the best of Joe's non-Clash related material from the 101ers to The Latino Rockabilly War and The Mescaleros taking in solo various releases and collaborations with other artists such as Jimmy Cliff and Johnny Cash along the way. For more info on the various options please check out the Joe Strummer web-site here.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Ebbot Lundberg & The Indigo Children with The Galileo 7 - Paul Slattery Photos from the Retro Man Blog Night at The Half Moon Putney October 13th

Ebbot Lundberg & The Indigo Childen at The Half Moon Putney - photo copyright Paul Slattery
I'd like to say a huge thank you to all those that came along to our last Retro Man Blog Night at The Half Moon Putney on October 13th which saw the return of Ebbot Lundberg & The Indigo Children. Despite the usual engineering works that cripple our capital city on most weekends there was a really great turn-out and we really appreciate all the various trials and tribulations that went into getting to the venue. It was also great to see that so many people had travelled over from Sweden too including the original webmaster of The Soundtrack of Our Lives, Daniel, and fellow moderator Hans. Long-time TSOOL video crew Matz and Chicago were there along with photographer Katarina Hansson, who took the great photos for our gig poster. Thanks also to staff at The Half Moon and of course to our Special Guests The Galileo 7 who opened the show and treated us to a superb set which included some very promising new songs.

The Galileo 7 at The Half Moon Putney - photo copyright Paul Slattery
The Galileo 7 at The Half Moon Putney - photo copyright Paul Slattery
The Galileo 7 at The Half Moon Putney - photo copyright Paul Slattery
The Galileo 7 at The Half Moon Putney - photo copyright Paul Slattery
The Galileo 7 at The Half Moon Putney - photo copyright Paul Slattery
Ebbot and a new-look Indigo Children, who included recent additions Alfred on bass, Stina on keyboards and Anton on drums along with Ebbot's regular guitarists Billy and Oskar, put in a mind-blowing performance that nearly took the roof off the packed out Half Moon. The set included "Golden Age" by Ebbot's first, and recently reunited band, Union Carbide Production and some Soundtrack of Our Lives favourites such as "Rest In Piece", a blistering "Galaxy Gramophone" and a rapturously received encore of the classic "Mantra Slider". A pick of songs from his debut Indigo Children album were also played alongside two new numbers, the atmospheric opener "Comfort Zone" and the raucous Punk Rock of "Planet Earth Through a Stethoscope". 

Ebbot Lundberg & The Indigo Childen at The Half Moon Putney - photo copyright Paul Slattery
Ebbot Lundberg & The Indigo Childen at The Half Moon Putney - photo copyright Paul Slattery
Ebbot Lundberg & The Indigo Childen at The Half Moon Putney - photo copyright Paul Slattery
Ebbot Lundberg & The Indigo Childen at The Half Moon Putney - photo copyright Paul Slattery
Thanks to Ebbot, Billy and The Indigo Children, The Galileo 7, Nina and staff at The Half Moon, Katarina Hansson and all those who helped to promote the show and of course to Paul Slattery for the excellent photos. Union Carbide Productions will play three reunion shows in November, first of all at Malmo on the 7th, Stockholm on the 8th and Gothenburg on the 9th and for more information on ticket and venues check out the UCP Facebook page here. Retro Man Blog will be at the UCP Gothenburg show so expect a full report and photos to follow on our return. 

Ebbot Lundberg & The Indigo Childen at The Half Moon Putney - photo copyright Paul Slattery
For more info on Ebbot & The Indigo Children check out their web-site here. For more photos of the show please head on over to the Retro Man Blog Facebook page here and hit "Like" (if you are not already following) to access the photo album. Some videos filmed at the gig can also be found at our Retro Man Bog YouTube channel here.


Tuesday, 30 October 2018

The Brian Jonestown Massacre at The Kentish Town Forum, London Tuesday October 23rd

The Brian Jonestown Massacre at The Forum - Photo by Retro Man Blog
I realised that I hadn't seen The Brian Jonestown Massacre play live since 2006, I think by that time I’d just had enough of attending some pretty fractious gigs where there was vitriol in the air and the atmosphere was getting unpleasant. It seemed that the success of the documentary "Dig!" was turning out to be something of a double-edged sword. Sure, there was no doubting that the film raised their profile considerably but by concentrating on the violence surrounding the band, gigs started turning into a bit of a freakshow as people were turning up seemingly more intent on goading Anton than appreciating the music. However, I think hearing the brilliant “Aufheben" on its release in 2012 piqued my interest in the band once again and I started to keep a look out for their new releases. I remembered what I originally loved about the BJM and each consecutive release seemed to get better and better, culminating in this year’s stunning album “Something Else”. I suddenly got the urge to catch them play live again so here I am at a sold out packed-to-the-rafters Kentish Town Forum waiting impatiently for my first BJM gig in 12 years to start. Thankfully, as I was to discover through the course of tonight’s gig, the audience has grown with the band, there was zero heckling during the show and now it’s all about the music and nothing but the music.

The Brian Jonestown Massacre at The Forum - Photo by Retro Man Blog
For me, the enduring impression that I got from “Dig!” was that no matter what physical or mental state Anton was in throughout the movie, he always seemed to be consumed by the urge to make music. You could feel it coursing through his veins, bursting to get out. He also reminded me of some other uncompromising maverick favourites of mine working outside the usual corporate music business and all rooted in 60’s Psychedelia such as Julian Cope, Michael Head of Shack and Ebbot Lundberg of The Soundtrack of Our Lives. No matter what extremes these Artists go through, they cannot avoid writing beautiful melodic and moving music. In fact, as an aside, in a recent interview I did with Ebbot, I asked if there was anyone that he wanted to collaborate with and his answer was succinct - “Anton Newcombe”. At our recent Retro Man Blog Night for Ebbot’s return to London with his new band The Indigo Children, we played the BJM’s “Panic In Babylon” as his intro music and it sounded amazing. Anyway, back to the gig and I could feel a buzz of excitement as the band takes the stage, Anton is on the right side facing more towards his band mates than the crowd and I notice there has been a significant change in the line-up that I was once familiar with. I only recognise tambourine maestro Joel Gion (surely a cultural icon...!) and guitarist Ricky Maymi but it’s soon clear that all the new (to me at least) members fit in seamlessly. There is a somewhat low-key opening as they kick off proceedings with a sultry new song "We Never Had a Chance".

The Brian Jonestown Massacre at The Forum - Photo by Retro Man Blog
This is followed by the hypnotic “What Happened to Them" which might be more familiar under its Swedish title (not something you'll hear said very often...) "Vad Hände Med Dem?” the opening track on "Revelation". There are only two songs from the excellent new album “Something Else” and these were "Hold That Thought" and the brilliant "Who Dreams of Cats?" which is as catchy as hell. However, Anton’s already moving on and it is testament to his prolific nature that there were more new as yet unreleased songs as there were from the current album. The new single “Forgotten Graves” was absolutely stunning and "Drained" was a revelation, riding in on an acoustic groove and a great guitar riff; it has immediately been transported up there among all my old BJM favourites. Talking of old favourites, the set is peppered with a selection of classics from throughout the band’s career. "Sailor" was sublime, and sums up the very reason why I want to experience live music in the first place, it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. During “Anemone”, the crowd lifts their arms into the air in unison as Anton sings "You should be picking me up" and from my vantage point on the balcony it looked pretty damn impressive. The Brian Jonestown Massacre know how to play with your emotions and the stripped back Gospel-Blues of "The Devil May Care" and its heart-breaking opening line "say goodbye to mum and dad, the two best friends I never had", brings a lump to the throat. Things get a bit more lively with "That Girl Suicide", a breath-taking "Nevertheless" and the Garage Rock singalong nugget "Who?" The familiar riffing of "When Jokers Attack" and a shimmering, almost transcendental "Pish" are both real highlights tonight.

The Brian Jonestown Massacre at The Forum - Photo by Retro Man Blog
There’s not much interaction between band and audience tonight, just a few words from Anton, mainly about his radio show, but he looks relaxed and in good spirits. Joel is his usual laconic self although he does blow his cool once by failing to catch his tambourine after hurling it into the air and it crashes into the photographer’s pit. He redeems himself by trying again and falling to the ground as he successfully catches the next attempt, it’s a classic slapstick moment that injects a bit of warmth and humour into the show. Towards the end of the set Joel produces the biggest tambourine I have ever seen, it’s of Spinal Tap 'one louder' proportions. The band end the show with another new number "A Word" and a couple of roadies with guitars join them. I haven’t seen so many guitarists on stage since the last time I saw The Blue Aeroplanes run through their customary free-for-all encore of Tom Verlaine’s "Breakin' In My Heart". It’s a powerful way to end the set and as the song collapses into squalls of feedback with Ricky playing with his effects pedals, Anton gets behind the drums and suddenly everything turns into a Psychedelic Krautrock rave-up until the house lights go up and I file out of the venue, thoroughly satisfied after such a great show.

The Brian Jonestown Massacre at The Forum - Photo by Retro Man Blog
I must just mention one incident though. Sometime during the set, a fan at the front of the stage gave Anton a cool knitted lookalike doll and the delighted singer props it up next to his amp. I later hear that the doll, who the band had named Tony, was stolen by some backstage chancer; it’s unbelievable that someone could be so dumb and thoughtless. So if anyone has any information please do contact the band. The Brian Jonestown Massacre have a new single “Forgotten Graves” out soon on 'a' Recordings and Anton has collaborated once again with Tess Parks on a fantastic new album "Tess Parks & Anton Newcombe". Tess will be playing a Bad Vibrations show in London at the Dome in Tufnell Park on December 13th, we have our tickets booked and will definitely report on that show for the Blog. Anton has also been working with the brilliant French band The Limiñanas and they are definitely well worth checking out. Finally, as regulars to our Blog and Podcast will know, we are also big fans of Joel Gion’s solo work and I would really recommend his latest self-titled album, you can hear a track in Retrosonic Podcast Episode 29 here
 


More photos of the show can be found at the Retro Man Blog Facebook page here and there are some videos at our YouTube channel too, here's a taster...



Monday, 29 October 2018

Eight Rounds Rapid - New Live Album "Live at Kulturzentrum Merlin in Stuttgart"

Eight Rounds Rapid - Photo Copyright Paul Hughes
One of Retro Man Blog's favourite bands Eight Rounds Rapid will release a brand new live album recorded at Kulturzentrum Merlin in Stuttgart on Kosmik Orgon Kanister Broadcast Records on November 2nd. It's out on limited edition numbered vinyl in Deluxe and Regular versions and is available to order from the band's Bandcamp site here. The Deluxe version includes a bonus 7" Single and comes with two cue sheets, A2 poster, three printed photographs and a copy of the setlist of the night that the broadcast was recorded. Rooted in the infamous Canvey Island R'n'B tradition, Eight Rounds Rapid channel the fervour of Dr Feelgood, Wire, Gang of Four and PIL with gritty tales of the underworld that rankle beneath the seaside kitsch of their hometown, Southend-on-Sea. With a blast of no-frills, bullshit-free excitement, the English four-piece take you back to the angular, drugged-up thug punk of the 1970s — but they’ll remind you of nobody but themselves. Enigmatic singer David Alexander commands the chaos with an outsider intelligence and nutty humour that shines through in barbed verse worthy of Mark E Smith — always delivered with a thick Essex drawl. To his right, guitarist and R&B ruffian Simon Johnson leads a sonic assault, his unusual style of thrashing out rhythm and lead simultaneously often leaving his scratch plate splattered with blood making for incendiary live performances. Geezer-rock rhythm comes in the shape of a cut-and-shut Mk1 Ford Capri as bassist Jules Cooper and drummer Lee Watkins wildly push each other to furious speeds. With quality lyrics and an erratic sound, the band have found a devoted following of fans that sing along to unique songs like "Steve", "Dostoyevsky" and "I Like It". Eight Rounds Rapid released both of their LPs "Lossleader" and "Objet d’Art" to critical acclaim in the UK music press. They’ve played prestigious support slots at The Royal Albert Hall and Koko Camden and have performed in England, Wales, Scotland, France and Germany.


The album was produced by Jürgen Jankowitsch and Michael Piltz for Kosmik Orgon Kanister and Incognito Records. Recorded live at Kulturzentrum Merlin in Stuttgart 02nd October 2017 with an old fashioned Tascam 4-track to tape recorder. Mixing and Mastering: Oberst Gregor. Live Tape Operator: Barny Trouble. Live Sound Merlin: Haufi. Graphic Design: Agnes Wagner. Host Merlin: Arne Hübner. Pictures (Deluxe Edition): Paul Hughes (band sheet + poster). Thomas Waldhof (band live). Introduction: Günter Verdin. For more info on ERR please check our their web-site here.



Sunday, 28 October 2018

Punk Art Show Opening Night Party at The Underdog Gallery

Gaye (Advert) Black at The Punk Art Show - Photo by Retro Man Blog
We went along to the opening night party of the Punk Rock 'n' Roll Art Show at the Underdog Gallery, a great space situated underneath the railway arches of London Bridge station. Curated and hosted by Martin Stacey from The Bermondsey Joyriders and Luigia Minichiello we were treated, not only to a fine display of Art by various notable Punk Rock musicians and Punk-inspired Artists but also some entertaining live sets too. First onto the Art itself and there was a real variety on offer including some fine pieces by the legendary Buzzocks designer Malcolm Garrett, Gaye Black (Advert) and Clara Basoni of Raw Cuts. There were impressive displays by JC Carroll of The Members and Nick Cash and it was really great to finally meet David Worth and see some examples of his superb Punk Rock Cartoons. It was also nice to bump into Ian from Damaged Goods Records and Andy from Fear & Loathing fanzine and my Retro Man Blog colleague Paul Slattery was pleased to catch up with fellow Rock Photographers Ray Stevenson and Erica Echenberg. I didn't get chance to chat to the night's DJ Jeff Munday as he was spinning some great tunes from what must be the most precarious DJ booth I have ever seen! The Action Men monkeyed around to our amusement and live music was provided by Taurus Trakker, Spizz and our good pals The Fallen Leaves. Overall, it was a excellent night and a great exhibition, the only problem is that it closes on Monday October 29th which is a shame as it deserves a much longer run. Great work by Martin, Luigia and their team.

Punk Rock Raffle! - Punk Rock 'n' Roll Art Show
The Punk Art Show - Photo by Retro Man Blog
Martin Stacey at The Punk Art Show - Photo by Retro Man Blog
The Punk Art Show - Photo by Retro Man Blog
The Fallen Leaves at The Punk Art Show - Photo by Retro Man Blog
The Punk Art Show - Photo by Retro Man Blog
Spizz at The Punk Art Show - Photo by Retro Man Blog
The Punk Art Show - Photo by Retro Man Blog
Erica Echenberg, Gaye, Ray Stevenson & Paul Slattery by Retro Man Blog
David Worth from Punk Rock Cartoons - Photo by Retro Man Blog


The Action Men at The Punk Art Show - Photo by Retro Man Blog

For more photos of the Punk Art Show opening night, please check out the Retro Man Blog Facebook page here to access the Photo Album. If you are not already following, please give us a 'Like'.