Sunday, 7 August 2022
Retrosonic Podcast Episode 49 "A Tonic For The Soul" - 21 Song New Release Special with Graham Day, Giuda, The Coolies, Cyanide Pills and Much More...
Thursday, 4 August 2022
Retrosonic Podcast Episode 48 "Why Don't You Smile Now?" with Special Guests Buddy Ascott & Rob Green of The Fallen Leaves. Features Exclusive New Unreleased Song by Thee Headcoats Sect
For tickets to the Don Craine Tribute Show at The Half Moon Putney on Sunday August 21st, please contact the venue at this link. Tickets and info for the Sound of Woking event can be found here. Here's the full track-listing to this episode, please click on the highlighted links for further information on the featured bands and how you can purchase their music.
The 79'ers "Maybe Tomorrow" (Live)
Vox Pop "Cor Blimey"
The Undertones "Dig Yourself Deep"
Baby Shakes "Really, Really"
The Gruesomes "Stop It, Girl"
Downliners Sect "Why Don't You Smile Now"
Thee Headcoats Sect "The Baker Street Irregulars" EXCLUSIVE NEW SONG
The Masonics "When You Cry At Night"
The Fallen Leaves "Green Eyes F.C."
Love "She Comes In Colours"
With sincere thanks to Buddy, Rob Green, Rob Symmonds and Ian at Damaged Goods Records.
Podcover star: Amy K-B.
Bob Gruen has flown over from New York to be part of his first major exhibition in the UK since 2014. Probably the best-known rock photographer of the 1970s who is still photographing bands today, his work spans Tina Turner to the Sex Pistols to John Lennon to Green Flag. As chief photographer for Rock Scene Magazine in the 1970s he captured behind the scenes moments of all the greatest rockstars of the time. This is a rare opportunity to meet Bob and get him to sign one of his books that will be on sale as well as his photos and ask him about the stories behind the pictures. Bob will be accompanied by Smutty Smith who knew Leee Black Childers, whose pictures are also part of the exhibition. Smutty was bass player for Levi and the Rockats which was managed by Leee. Smutty now manages the Leee Black Childers Estate for Leee’s brother Henry. He went to Texas and found the previously unseen negatives a selection of which are an important part of this exhibition. Every picture in the exhibition has its own unique story. Smutty and Bob can tell you the inside story and the secrets about the people who are depicted in these iconic shots. About a time when Rock Stars were free from social media and could be larger than life.
Sunday, 31 July 2022
Downliners Sect, The Masonics & The Fallen Leaves - Tribute Show for Don Craine at The Half Moon Putney, August 21st
Sunday August 21st at our favourite venue The Half Moon in Putney sees a very special afternoon tribute show for the head Headcoat, the late, great Don Craine of The Downliners Sect. Contemporaries of the Rolling Stones, Pretty Things and The Yardbirds, Downliners Sect came into being in Spring 1963 when deerstalker-hatted rhythm guitarist Don Craine found Keith Grant and the Sect was born. They played their own brash and exciting brand of R'n'B and still do, Don and Keith played together for 60 years. They agreed that, whatever happened to either of them, the group would carry on. With the sad loss of Don in February, Keith, as promised, carries the name Downliners Sect on. This concert is a tribute to the Deerstalker wearing Head man himself, Don Craine. Downliners Sect fans and friends, The Masonics and The Fallen Leaves will be fitting special guests on the day. In fact, Don and Keith teamed up with Billy Childish and Bruce Brand, the current Masonics drummer, to form Thee Headcoat Sect in the 90’s. The Fallen Leaves are rooted in the classic vein of their locality of Eel Pie Island/Richmond/Twickenham British Beat and R'n'B and feature members of Subway Sect and The Chords. This is sure to be a very special afternoon so book your tickets directly from the Half Moon Putney now from this link. All proceeds to Macmillan Cancer Support. For more details please check out the Facebook Event page here and please note this is an afternoon session starting at 1pm. Here are some great photos of The Downliners Sect by my Retro Man Blog colleague, the photographer Paul Slattery.
Top photo The Downliners Sect at the BBC radio studios control room Maida Vale with Rob Symmons of The Fallen Leaves. Second photo, the band in the studio. Third photo Don with Bruce Brand of The Masonics backstage at the 100 Club. Bottom photo Don onstage at the 100 Club. All photos copyright of Paul Slattery.
Friday, 8 July 2022
Baby Shakes, Duncan Reid & The Big Heads, Smalltown Tigers at the Pump It Up Power Pop Weekender, The Lexington July 3rd 2022
Thursday, 7 July 2022
Thee Moot "Mood Swings and Roundabouts" - A track-by-track guide to an album packed full of harmony, rhapsody and melody
Thee Moot are not an easy band to categorise and to ditch any notion of cover versions and get out there armed with a set of all original material, skirting genres and musical rules and regulations, is a brave move. If you are looking for reference points, I guess you could start with The Onlookers who ploughed a similar furrow back in the 80's with their tuneful Psych. They also remind me on occasion of the much-missed Playn Jayn with their immediately memorable tunes and Dave Clark brings a touch of Post-Punk and Lower East Side NYC 70's Punk with his inventive riffing. Of course, clues can also be found in the eclectic set-lists of The Transients as they played songs by a diverse range of Bands and Artists from Billy Childish to The Gun Club, from Television to The Saints to The Small Faces. From The Nerves and The Modern Lovers to The Flys - always avoiding the obvious. But I reckon Thee Moot are mostly deeply rooted in the catchy British Mod-Psych-Pop of The Afex "She's Got The Time", Syd Barrett's Pink Floyd, Fire's "Father's Name Is Dad", The Creation, The Kinks "Village Green Preservation Society" and The Sorrows "Take a Heart". Two more wonderful covers The Transients played that could have paved the way for Thee Moot were Wimple Winch's "Save My Soul" and Rupert's People "Dream on My Mind", hopefully this might narrow things down a bit!
So, as I have had the album on repeat for days now, let's take a track-by-track look at "Mood Swings And Roundabouts". Firstly, according to the sleeve notes the brilliant title is "a celebration of the joys of lockdown and of the rollercoaster of life pre and post pandemic". It's Nick's essentially personal reflections that will, however strike a chord with all of us who endured the past two and half years of COVID-related hell. Thee Moot have captured the very essence of all the ups and downs, highs and lows, anxieties, and the occasional bright points, of the world during lockdown. The opening track "Alone By Myself" sets the scene perfectly with it's crunching guitar intro that leads into an insanely catchy song with some great drumming by Freezer Pinch. It faces up to the insecurities of going out and mixing socially again after periods of isolation "I build a little bunker at the foot of my bed, covers over my head" and "forgive me, I get the jitters when I socialise". The follow up "Armageddon", despite the uptempo, catchy nature of the music itself, seems to despair at what we are doing to our planet as the opening line attests "Beam me up Scotty, I've had enough". The song buzzes about cheerfully despite Nick's concerns that "the future is ominous, maybe space is a better place for the human race?" But true to the album's title, the mood swings with "Live To Fight Another Day" which reminds me of Blur around the time of their "Modern Life Is Rubbish" album. That was when they seemed to discover the joys of Julian Cope and they had songs like "Pressure on Julian" and "Coping", hmmm do I detect a slight nod to their influence in those two titles I wonder? Maybe the Blur reference isn't so strange as DC's playing sometimes reminds me of Graham Coxon, who I've always thought was an underrated guitarist, and Nick seems to channel his inner Anthony Newley here. It's a great song with some effective stabbing keyboards adding a nice touch. Oh, see if you can spot the accidental sound effect.
"What You Got To Shout About?" is a rollicking call to arms, a two-minute-two-fingers up to all those bullies of the meek and mild mannered and I like the line "Button it and hear me out, shut your mouth!" as the song slams shut. The melancholy "Gentle Devil" hints at the mental health issues faced by many people during the pandemic, "I'm gentle but I live with the Devil" Nick sings, "Misanthropic and bad mannered, I'm on the slip and slide inside myself". These intense lyrics are all complemented by some quite beautiful guitar work that adds a real gravitas to the song. "Looking Down Upon Myself" is another reflective track which has hints of Bowie and starts off with a sublime ringing guitar riff by DC and bubbling bass-lines from Mark. Two unashamedly upbeat and nostalgic songs follow, firstly "Penelope Coincidentally" which rattles along at a fair pace underpinned by some excellent bass. "No. 73 was a thing on TV back in the 80's" Nick reminisces, indeed it was and The Onlookers made an appearance on this rather naff Saturday morning kids TV show, it's there on YouTube if you don't believe me. To their credit, they do manage to keep their cool and deliver great versions of "You & I" and "Chieftain" despite Dennis Waterman, Hazel O'Connor and dancing children cavorting around them. If that wasn't bad enough, at one point bassist Mark Leech is submerged in a bath of yellow custard. Who says that we didn't have entertainment back in the day?! "Go! Harmony, rhapsody, melody" they sing, and quite right too! In fact, I think that would make a perfect slogan for a Moot T-shirt. Then next up is "Go Pele Go" which has a nice Stonesy swagger and Nick sharing his boyhood memories of the Mexico '70 World Cup, of dazzling colour TV and the equally dazzling gold and green of Brazil. There's a jealous comparison with the jumpers-for-goalposts, mud-soaked footie on a cold and wet day in In-ger-land while in Brazil they played on exotic sun-kissed beaches. As someone of a certain age, I can still remember the pain of heading one of those rain-soaked laced-up leather cannonballs, so this song really hit home with me!
What follows is a four song sequence that really elevates "Mood Swings and Roundabouts" to another level. I always thought that you can tell a great album when it builds to a crescendo with a final run of killer songs rather than meander to a disappointing end. So the next track "Blisters" really throws off the shackles with a huge in-your-face guitar riff intro from DC. In their early recordings I sometimes felt that Thee Moot were holding back a bit, sometimes a bit restrained even and it wasn't until the fuzzed up and aptly titled "Let Your Hair Down" on their last album "Peel It To Reveal It" where they really started to kick-off. But there's certainly no holding back with "Blisters" as it cranks up the energy levels into overdrive, topped off with an insanely catchy chorus. The lyrics seem to tackle this confidence issue with self-deprecating humour, "So what if we haven't got the faces to mention, not so photogenic and we're hard to remember" ponders Nick, but enough is enough, now they're going for it. They want us to know they mean it and feel it and they are now going to fight for attention. Any struggling band without major backing or record label support will be able to empathise with "Blisters" as Nick nails those all too familiar hardships and doubts that must play on many musician's minds at one point or another with a stinging line, "Why play anyway when nobody hears ya?" It's a harsh reality. But this is followed by the positive rallying cry "Someone's gotta bang a drum for live music mister, we hit so hard we're covered in blisters". Believe me, you'll find yourself cheering at this point! "Marigold" is a sublime piece of British Psychedelia that suddenly hits you with a crunching chord change and chorus and there's some nice underlying organ adding texture. Dave Clark's guitar work again shines and Nick's voice is on top form, this is up there as one of Thee Moot's greatest recorded moments.
But then again, next up is "Tonic For The Soul" which may well be the highpoint of the album for me. Just when you think you're at the chorus another killer section slaps you around the head and the organ along with the "Let's Spend The Night Together" style backing vocals pile on the melodic overload. The ringing guitar riff highlights the uplifting message that music cures, puts a "sparkle in my eyes, reactivates my mind". It's an absolute belter of a song that's crying out to be released on 7" vinyl, it would make a classic single. In the superb closing track "Dressing Gown" Nick sings "Yeah, far from the madding crowd, I am still wearing my dressing gown" brilliantly capturing those initially positive effects of the lockdown. The blue skies of that amazing weather when we thought we'd have a nice time off work for a bit and it would all be over in a month or so. Ah, I remember those days clearly, the long walks, the clean air and for me, living under a major flight path and near a motorway I certainly felt the difference profoundly. No cars or planes, the carbon omissions dropped and the only noise pollution was that of the birds singing. You could appreciate nature as Spring bloomed all around. Yeah right, little did we know of the devastating couple of years ahead. "Dressing Gown" tackles the issue of climate change so well and Nick hopes that "Earth will rebuild itself if we redeem ourselves". It's true, that first couple of weeks of Lockdown were like a window into an alternative reality of what life could be like if only we respected the environment so much more. Musically, "Dressing Gown" is a fantastic tour-de-force and a perfect way to close the album as it slowly builds to a crescendo with some stunning Richard Lloyd/Tom Verlaine guitar work from DC. Not to be outdone, Mark suddenly goes all JJ Burnel on us and his bass wigs out as the multi-layered guitars wash over the ending of a quite brilliant record. If former Shack and Pale Fountains frontman Mick Head hadn't just released his own masterpiece "Dear Scott" with the Red Elastic Band, then "Mood Swings And Roundabouts" would be dead cert for album of the year already and we're only just into July. Harmony, Rhapsody, Melody!
Wednesday, 22 June 2022
For this very special episode of Retrosonic Podcast we caught up with all four members of the legendary Canadian Garage Rock band The Gruesomes as they rehearsed for their upcoming debut London show at Weirdsville on July 2nd, hard to believe this will be the first time the band have ever played the U.K. since forming in Montreal back in 1985. In this comprehensive and thoroughly entertaining show, singers and guitarists Bobby Beaton and Gerry Alvarez, bassist John Davis and drummer John Knoll take us on a wild ride from their formation in 1985 to their split in 1990 and right up to their resurrection and classic comeback album "Cave-In!" in 2000. Along the way we discuss their debut E.P. "Jack The Ripper" and how it became a favourite of The Horrors, along with their first album, the impeccably titled "Tyrants of Teen Trash". We play tracks from each of their albums and their latest single alongside a pick of various influences and favourite songs from The Haunted, The Chords, Kit & The Outlaws, The Prisoners and The Sorrows. We also cover Canadian culture and music including the Montreal scene that spawned The Gruesomes. There's life threatening road accidents, Buddy Ascott's drumming, touring Europe for the first time, why Spain loved The Gruesomes and the band's love of lemon curd! All this and lots, lots more in this teen-trash packed episode of Retrosonic Podcast. You can subscribe to Retrosonic for free at Spotify, iTunes, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music or direct from SoundCloud below:
The Gruesomes "Bikers From Hell"
The Haunted "1-2-5"
The Prisoners "Hurricane"
The Chords "Maybe Tomorrow"
The Gruesomes "Leave My Kitten Alone"
Kit & The Outlaws "Don't Tread On Me"
The Gruesomes "Jack The Ripper"
The Gruesomes "What's Your Problem"
The Gruesomes "Je Cherche"
The Gruesomes "Way Down Below"
The Gruesomes "Hey!"
The Gruesomes "Stop It, Girl"
The Sorrows "No, No, No, No"
The Gruesomes "Make Up Your Mind"
The Gruesomes "Someone Told a Lie"