Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Retrosonic Podcast Lockdown Lowdown Episode 1 with Brett "Buddy" Ascott from The Chords & The Fallen Leaves

Photo by Retro Man Blog
Brett "Buddy" Ascott, drummer with The Chords and The Fallen Leaves (and many more besides...) is our first special guest in a new series of Retrosonic Podcasts entitled "Lockdown Lowdown". Buddy tells us of his earliest musical awakenings, the first record he ever bought, his first gig and what event changed him from innocent fan of Pop music to the dark side of Rock & Roll. Along the way we hear who inspired him to pick up the drumsticks, some of his own memorable experiences as a musician and the favourite tracks from his own recordings. Buddy tells us of his favourite albums and singles and most treasured item of music related memorabilia. The episode is soundtracked by songs by David Bowie, The Kinks, Sex Pistols, The Who, Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers, The Undertones, That Petrol Emotion, The Auteurs, Dodgy, Lightning Seeds, The Thrills, Arcade Fire, The Clash and of course The Chords and his current band, The Fallen Leaves.

Full Track-Listing:
David Bowie "Jean Genie"
The Kinks "Dead End Street"
Sex Pistols "Problems"
The Clash "Garageland"
The Who "Doctor Jimmy"
That Petrol Emotion "Sensitize"
The Thrills "Found My Rosebud"
The Lightning Seeds "Pure"
The Kinks "Days"
The Who "Baby, Don't You Do It" 
The Chords "I'm Not Sure"
The Chords "What Are We Gonna Do Now?"
The Undertones "Get Over You"
The Auteurs "New French Girlfriend"
The Fallen Leaves "So Much More"
Arcade Fire "Modern Man"
Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers "Born To Lose"
Dodgy "In a Room"

You can order The Chords box-set "Re-Chordings 1979-1982" here. For more information on the forthcoming book "Remembering The Chords" by Ray Butler, please check out the link here. Details on how to donate and bid for the signed drum-skin can be found at the Roll Out The Barrel Trust web-site here. The Retrosonic Podcast special featuring the full story of Buddy Ascott's musical journey is still available to download/stream at our Retrosonic Podcast Soundcloud archive here.

Subscribe to Retrosonic Podcast on iTunes for free or download/stream at Soundcloud below:


Sunday, 10 May 2020

Retrosonic Podcast Episode 38: Get Sa-Ni-Ti-Zin' - with The Parkinsons, BMX Bandits, Elephant Stone, Autoramas, Shack etc.

Photo (and mask) by Maki
In Episode 38 of Retrosonic Podcast, Steve from Retro Man Blog plays some great brand new and recent releases from the worlds of Garage Rock, Punk, Indie, Psych and Power Pop to help ease the Lockdown Blues. In this episode there's a look back at some of the gigs we did manage to attend so far this year and there are songs from Jah Wobble (featuring Keith Levene & Richard Dudanski from Public Image Ltd, Mark Stewart from The Pop Group and Youth from Killing Joke), Shack as Michael Head & The Red Elastic Band played this rare Shack song at Earth in Hackney, The Parkinsons, The Past Tense and Elephant Stone. Then there's more brand new releases from The Jack Cades, Alvin Gibbs & The Disobedient Servants, The Sanitizers, Martin Savage & The Jiggerz, The Veras, Palooka 5, The In-Fuzzed, Groovy Uncle and Goodbye Victory Road. There's a look back at our last proper night out at the Poor Cow bar in Tokyo before the Lockdown and a track from the owner's old band, Japanese Punk legends Teengenerate. Then, inspired by the superb "Teenage Superstars" documentary there's a couple of classics from BMX Bandits and The Shop Assistants. Finally, as it should have been our favourite event of the year, Hipsville-A-Go-Go down in Margate, there's one of the best bands we've seen at the Weekender over the years, Brazil's Autoramas. Anyway, here's the full track-listing, please click on the highlighted links below for more information on the relevant band, artist, record company, promoter etc.

THE SANITIZERS - "Sa-Ni-Ti-Zin' "
MARTIN SAVAGE & THE JIGGERZ - "This Broken Heart"
AUTORAMAS - "Homem-Cliche" 
THE PARKINSONS - "Heavy Metal"
JAH WOBBLE - "A Very British Coup"
ELEPHANT STONE - "Darker Time, Darker Space/The Court and Jury/Land of Dead"
SHACK - "Up"
THE IN-FUZZED - "Motor City Baby"
TEENGENERATE - "Dressed In Black"
THE STRIPES - "Tell Me Your Name"
THE PAST TENSE - "She's Got The Time"
GOODBYE VICTORY ROAD - "Grandad's Miscellaneous Military Memorabilia"
GROOVY UNCLE - "God on a Bike"
PALOOKA 5 - "Ultramarine"
THE VERAS - "I'm Not Afraid"
THE JACK CADES - "Dead Star"
THE SHOP ASSISTANTS - "Safety Net"
BMX BANDITS - "E102"

Please kindly support the bands! This Episode's cover star Eric Baconstrip. Photo (and mask) by Maki. Retrosonic Podcast has a valid PRS licence. Thanks to Amy K-B, Lee Grimshaw at Spinout Nuggets, Mark Chadderton at Time & Matter, Michel Moimême at Wattsville, Daniel Taylor, Pat McVicar and Eric Baconstrip. You can subscribe to Retrosonic on iTunes or listen/download directly from our Soundcloud archive, all episodes still available.



Friday, 1 May 2020

Amy Catches up with Dave Diamond from The Voo-Dooms & The Primitive Club

The Voo-Dooms - Photo by Grant Unstead
Amy caught up with Dave Prince (aka Dave Diamond), drummer with The Voo-Dooms to find out more on the band and the growing success of their Primitive Club nights.

Q: Tell me about The Trash-O-Men and The Primitive Club! How did you get started?

A: Since 2016 I had been discussing with my wife Susie about opening my own 1950's/1960's club night to showcase bands that have either not played London for some time, or for an exclusive show with two DJs playing records to keep everyone dancing to the early hours! We had already been looking at Clapham Junction as a possible location in those early days and around West London too, then the following year we started to consider The Dublin Castle or The Fidler's Elbow in Camden. At the tail end of 2017 I really started looking at putting on a club once again and started to realise that this project was not something that I could do on my own; it was around this time that myself and my best mate Mike were starting to form The Voo-Dooms and after going over the idea with him, we decided to join forces and run a 1960's beat, garage and twist night.

Dave Diamond, Eric Baconstrip & Bruce Brand - Photo by Susie Prince
Dave & Mick, The Trash-0-Men - Photo by Susie Prince
The Primitive Club name is from my style of drumming and the old drums that I collect and Mike came up with the pseudonym The Trash~O~Men to use when we are putting on the event nights. I then decided to bite the bullet and contacted The Fiddlers Elbow in Camden in 2018 and booked three dates for 2019. For our opening night on 17th August 2019 we wanted to go for an explosive headliner; King Salami & The Cumberland Three. Then we chose The Hurricanes, an exclusive band to play London for the first time, and as our band The Voo-Dooms were now up and running, it was a natural choice to have us as openers for our debut night. We used a We-Got-Tickets advanced ticket booking link and sold 80 tickets and then on the day over 70 more which made the night a sell out with some coming as far as Germany and France just for the night! The first 25 through the door got a free limited edition Primitive club badge and the place was buzzing for the whole night. All three bands were amazing and the finale was King Salami & Cumberland Three ending with their version of "Tainted Love" which sent the audience into raptures. It was so fab to see Bruce 'Bash' Brand and Eric Baconstrip DJing together for the first time in over 15 years and CK Smith spinning some fab tunes til 2am! The night was captured by our official photographer Jeff Pitcher and at the end of the night the 100 leaflets we had printed to advertise our next event in November had all gone!

The Masonics - Photo by Sara Louise Bowrey
The King & The Prince - Photo by Susie Prince
For The Primitive Club #2 on November 2nd we booked The Masonics as our headliners with Ludella Black, and for our support we chose Thee Girl Fridays for their debut London Show. I had been speaking to the band at Beatwave in 2018 and said how fabulous they were and that they had to play London soon, so it was ironic when I messaged them the following year to book the band for The Primitive Club! Then we had our resident band The Voo-Dooms to kick off the night and DJs Lee 'Grimmers' Grimshaw from the Spinout Show and CK Smith to end the night playing back to back top tunes. Due to the huge success of the opening night we booked Steven Tagg Randall from The Archivist of London to capture everything on video and Sara Louise Bowrey as our official photographer. It was so amazing to see people coming through the door right when we opened at 7:30pm, and by the time The Voo-Dooms kicked off the night there were already nearly 100 in attendance. Once again all three bands stormed it with Thee Girl Fridays throwing big knickers into the audience and The Masonics with Ludella Black crowning yet another very successful high octane night! The Primitive Club #3 we billed as The Leap Year Twist Night; we had 80's garage legends The X-Men headlining, The Go-Go Cult and The Voo-Dooms and our DJs were Lee Grimshaw and Bruce 'Bash' Brand. There was a real buzz in the audience once again and this time many 80's legends had turned up on the night, including Nick Garrard (The Meteors manager), Mike Spencer (The Cannibals), Bal Croce (The Sting-Rays), and Miles, the original X-Men guitarist. Yet another electrifying night with all the bands receiving an encore and playing their socks off! At the end of the night Bal joined The X-Men on stage for an impromtu version of the Kenny and the Kasuals track "Come On"; the crowd went wild jumping and twisting! It was an amazing experience and such a phenomenal end to yet another fab night at The Primitive Club.

The Primitive Club - Photo by Jeff Pitcher
Q: You've played host to a diverse range of bands and DJ's - what kind of audience are coming to your gigs?

A: So far we've had a very diverse audience, with Beatsters, Twisters, Rock 'n' Rollers, Surf lovers, 60's Groovers, Hipsters, music lovers, Garage, Trash and European music lovers from France, Spain and Germany. Even some original musicians from the 80's have turned up to all three gigs so far which has been amazing to see. Also, it has been great to see all the bands after their show staying and watching the other bands, chatting to everyone who has attended the night and then dancing the night away once the DJs start spinning their tunes! Obviously, current events are making things very tough for promoters.

Q: What do you hope to return with when the lockdown restrictions are lifted? 

A: All being well our future nights will be:

1st August: our debut Primitive Bop #1 with headliners Carlos & The Bandidos, The Danny McVey Trio with Lil Di and Demon Barber DJs.
22nd August Primitive #5 with The No-Things (exclusive London show), Paul Groovy & The Pop Art Experience (Exclusive first London show since 1986!) & The Voo- Dooms.
21st November Primitive #6 with The Wildebeests (exclusive London show) and Kings of Hong Kong (Exclusive London show) and The Voo-Dooms...and then we will be looking at dates for 2021!

Unfortunately, due to the current Corona Virus situation, we have had to CANCEL the 30th May: Primitive #4 with The Courettes.

King Salami & The Cumberland 3 - Photo by Jeff Pitcher
Q: And while we're here, what's the latest from the wonderful world of The Voo- Dooms?

Dan Whaley (Dustaphonics, Charles Napiers, Shockwaves etc.) has joined the band on lead guitar this year and we have just finished recording six original tracks at Jim Riley's Ranscombe Studios that are due for release on Lee Grimshaw's Spinout Nuggets label in June, and then we are really looking forward to our next gig and playing live once again. Stay safe everyone, thank you to all the bands, DJs, Primitive Club team and to everyone for all the support during the past year and remember Trashin' n' Twistin' in London town at The Primitive Club - stay tuned folks! 

- Amy K-B, May 2020
Primitive Club signed poster
Photographers: Grant Unstead, Jeff Pitcher, Sara Louise Bowrey & Susie Prince. For further information on The Voo-Dooms you can check out their official Facebook site here, and to keep up to date on the Primitive Club please check out the site here. Please also do take the time to click on the highlighted links above to support the featured bands, photographers and labels etc.

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Alvin Gibbs - U.K. Subs Bassist to Release New Autobiography "Diminished Responsibility" & "History" E.P. with The Disobedient Servants

Alvin Gibbs & The Disobedient Servants
Time & Matter Recordings have announced their brand new venture "Tome & Metre Publishing" with news of the forthcoming release of the first-of-two-volumes of U.K. Subs bassist Alvin Gibbs memoirs entitled "Diminished Responsibility: My Life as a U.K. Sub and Other Strange Stories Vol. 1". In the book's foreward Henry Rollins writes "Alvin puts his experiences across with energy and excellent detail, cheerful, hilarious and armed with insight, you are immediately pulled in by this book’s contents. A mark of not only a great story teller, but of one who has truly lived in full and continues to do so". The book's tentative release date is July 1st, with pre-orders available sometime in May or June so please keep an eye on the T&M web-site here for further announcements. To help T&M with the funding of this new project, they are offering fans the chance to have their name printed in the book for only £5.00, for which your full name will be featured, alongside your town or city and your country, in what will be the world’s first ever book about your favourite band – the U.K. Subs. Please be aware that this payment doesn’t buy you a physical copy of the book, but when it goes to pre-order later this year (retailing at £15.00) you will have played your part in a bit of U.K. Subs book publishing history.

"Diminished Responsibility" book cover
"History" EP Cover by Gaye Black
Talking of History - Time & Matter will be releasing a fabulous new four song E.P. by Alvin Gibbs & The Disobedient Servants entitled "History". The record is limited to 500 hand numbered copies and comes as a double 7" Black & White vinyl single in a gatefold cover designed by Gaye Black, formerly Gaye Advert, the iconic bassist with The Adverts, now a succesful artist. The four new songs "Bad About You", "History", "If Only" and "Pavlovian" continue with the high standard set by the Disobedient Servants' excellent debut album. Alvin is backed by his Subs bandmate, drummer Jamie Oliver and Ruts DC guitarist Leigh Heggarty. The release date for the "History" EP is 30th June and it's now available to pre-order from the Time & Matter web-site here. Alvin has punctuated his stints with the U.K. Subs with spells in Urban Dogs, Cheap And Nasty and of course in one of Iggy Pop's most celebrated backing line-ups around the release of the "Instinct" album. I will never forget a superb show at the Brixton Academy on the "Instinct" tour in 1988, Iggy was in a back-to-basics mood after the commercial success of "Blah Blah Blah" and had assembled a suitably rocking line-up including Alvin and Hanoi Rocks guitarist Andy McCoy. In fact, you can read all about Alvin's experiences of working with Iggy in his thoroughly entertaining book "Neighbourhood Threat: On Tour with Iggy Pop". You can also read our review of Alvin's excellent debut album with The Disobedient Servants in the Blog archive here

Alvin Gibbs - Photo by Retro Man Blog

Tuesday, 21 April 2020

Groovy Uncle "The Man Who Calls The Shots" - Amy K-B on the 8th Album from Glenn Prangnell's Musical Collective


Groovy Uncle "The Man Who Calls The Shots"
The 8th album from Glenn Prangnell's musical collective Groovy Uncle takes its title from the opening track, which, much like 2014's "Persuaded" could be the opening to an alternate universe James Bond film. It's all here, the John Barry-esque strings, the creeping bassline and the majestic purr of Miss Modus' vocals. There's a recurring filmic theme to this album; "Magic Happens" brings to mind Audrey Hepburn swooshing through Central Park in a pastel coloured suit to a Burt Bacharach soundtrack and instrumentals "Guitardis" and "Return to Guitardis" reimagine the same melody though the filter of 60's sci-fi soundtrack and gypsy jazz respectively. As always on a Groovy Uncle album there's a real mix of styles; if you don't like one song (unlikely) there'll be another one along in couple of minutes and it'll sound totally different to the last. Glenn told me that this comes from his appreciation of Beatles albums, and when you think that on Abbey Road "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" nestled snugly in between "Something" and "Oh! Darling" it makes perfect sense. For all that Groovy Uncle isn't limited by genre or style, there is very much a quality control process at work and if it's not right, it doesn't make the album. I asked Glenn if he writes with a specific singer in mind, and he told me that generally the song comes first and he rarely sits down with the intention of writing a particular style for a particular performer. Scottish songstress Miss Modus has appeared on both "Persuaded" and "Meanwhile Back in Medieval Britain" and her songs on this album showcase her voice perfectly, from the theatricals of the title track, to the chirpy, sunny pop song "Hedging my Bets'" and the wistful sweetness of "Heathen Child". She's a fabulously versatile singer and it's great to hear her take on so many different styles. 
 
Poster Artwork by Jonathan Ash
There are as usual lots of other Groovy Uncle regulars involved in "The Man Who Calls The Shots", including Wolf Howard and Mole Lambert on drums, Nick Rice on bass, Bruce Brand sharing guitar duties with Glenn and a host of other musical guests. There's even an appearance from gypsy jazz quartet Lost Revellers whom Glenn invited to play on "Sounds a Lot Like Me" and "Return to Guitardis". Lyrically, "The Man Who Calls The Shots" provides the happy blend of whimsy and acerbic humour that we've come to expect from Groovy Uncle; songs like "Soup" and 'God on a Bike" provide some giggles and balance the bittersweet of "Not a Single Word" and "Sounds A Lot Like Me". Whilst chatting to Glenn about the album I took the opportunity to ask just how the recording process works on a Groovy Uncle song and whilst the personnel may change one thing is always the same; they record together, the old fashioned way. "The Man Who Calls The Shots" was recorded at Ranscombe Studios and Glenn tells me that for him the camaraderie of working together in a studio is all part of the fun. Purchasers of "The Man Who Calls The Shots" also get treated to four bonus tracks on CD and download, three of which are reworkings of Groovy Uncle songs from "Play Something We Know" and "Persuaded", and a new version of "Days I Care To Remember" by The Offbeats, all sung by Miss Modus. 'The beauty of Groovy Uncle, really,' says Glenn, 'is that I can do whatever the fuck I like'. There probably aren't many musicians who can honestly say that; he's not limited by genre, style, choice of vocalist or musicians, and as if that wasn't enough Groovy Uncle records are released on his own label, Trouserphonic. Glenn really does get to call the shots, and with music of this quality long may that continue. Amy K-B, April 2020 



"The Man Who Calls The Shots" is out on vinyl, CD and download via Trouserphonic 11th May. For details on how to order please check out the excellent Groovy Uncle official web-site here

Poster Artwork by Jonathan Ash Art - to see more examples of Jonathan's artwork please visit the web-site here.

Thursday, 16 April 2020

The Rise of Spinout Productions: Amy K-B catches up with Lee Grimshaw on his ever-expanding musical empire

Mr Grimshaw
There's been many exciting developments over at the Spinout Productions rapidly expanding empire recently so Amy decided it was time to catch up with boss man Lee Grimshaw for an update.

Q. Hi Lee, congratulations on the second birthday of Spinout Nuggets! It's been a busy couple of years for you, what do you feel have been the highlights for the label so far?

A. Thank you! And thanks for all the support throughout! Never did I imagine how or where it would go, but I'm really humbled at it all. Every single moment has been a highlight, starting with Sergeants Mess, pounding all the way through to release number seventeen, with many more already planned. Last year we tried to aim for one release a month and to continue the same this year, but it's now looking to be maybe two or three a month, as so many good things are coming through. This year has already seen releases from Bully Bones, Ye Ascoyne D'Ascoynes, The Claim/Jim Riley's Blues Foundation, The Hannah Barberas and The Veras. I've really enjoyed moving through the 'genres', although there's still a distinctive sound between them all. The label is all about the creators be it the writers, performers, producers, mastering boffs, graphic artists or creativity providers in any form. I feel very humbled to be working with them all, and a pleasure to share with those that are supporting.
 
Ye Ascoyne D'Ascoynes
Q. You've worked with a wide range of artists so far – can we expect to hear more from some of your favourites?

A. They are all my favourites! I've been very lucky, I admit, and there's much more in the pipeline. I would love to blurt them all out, but that wouldn't be fun. We're soon to see the first label release from Paul Groovy & the Pop Art Experience, a band we've been playing on The Spinout Show for some time now, so great to have a release from them on the label. We're also soon to be putting out the second label release from The Hurricanes, their second album full of many goodies - full-on Mod-Garage-Power-Pop. Then there'll be the second label release from The Voo-Dooms, a six-track Mini LP.  I was fortunate enough to be at Ranscombe Studios during the second day of the recording, which was ace. Nice to see it all coming together. Then there's a six-track Mini LP from Palooka 5, another band I've spent some time with, mainly through Tim's stomping Club Kongo events in Taunton, where a few of the label's bands have played too. This will be the second vinyl release from Palooka 5, and it's mighty fine! 
Palooka 5
After that, there's a follow up 7" release from The Treasures of Mexico, which I'm very pleased about. Another one that I managed to capture some of the recording during the studio time at Ranscombe Studios. Now with Nick Rice on bass, joining ex-members of The Dentists, Mark Matthews and Bob Collins, and Russ Baxter (he also of Secret Affair, and formerly Phaze, The Discords and so on). With some vocal help from Beth Arzy too. We're currently trying to decide which of the recorded tracks to put out first. Then, world meet The High Span! A fairly recent collaboration, with some known faces, another one I was lucky to catch during recording at Ranscombe Studios. I always try to get along and capture a little. The High Span are Kev Younger (Armitage Shanks, Ye Ascoyne D'Ascoynes, Subway Sect, The Speed of Sound and more), Mark Aitken, (Ye Ascoyne D'Ascoynes, These Guilty Men etc.) and Jimmy Moore (Moore more!). They've had a fair few gigs over the last year or so, and have attracted many ears. We're doing a four-track 7", and hoping to follow that up too. There's another project I've been working on that'll be out around the same time too, which will also be a milestone - there's quite a back-story to it too, and I'll save that for the next gathering. Oh, and another! Then more again! But as said before, they are all very special in their own way, and every single individual is a pleasure to work with. I think it's safe to say that the current global pandemic has changed some of the plans ahead, but we're doing as best we can to keep things going. The intention is for the label to always be an independent, DIY thing, but you must allow growth. We have recently set up distribution with Shellshock, in view of reaching out to some corners we haven't already, and we're still looking for someone to carry the distribution Stateside. Clear Spot have been covering mainland Europe for some time, and a pleasure to work with. We still do directs too, which is very important, and a pleasure. We've also dabbled in the dark world of digital for previous releases, due to getting requests for it, so we wanted full inclusion. 


The Spinout Show
Q. I believe you've got a date for our diaries for this September?

A. Yes, September 5th at the Royal Function Rooms in Rochester and we'd love to see you all there! Dave and I play at the annual Shiiine On Weekender at Minehead Butlins every November, and have been lucky to help with the line up over the years too. Last year we actually got to program a stage, where we had Graham Day & The Forefathers and Big Boss Man in, with us DJing around them too. It went very well, and was a most enjoyable night. Steve Lamacq was even in the crowd for GD&tF show, jumping around. Rod Spark, who played with The Prisoners during their last ever gigs, was there to play in one of his bands, so Graham invited him along to join them on organ for some of The Prisoners tracks, which was good to see/hear. A memorable night! The evening went so well, we thought we'd try and recreate it as best possible, this time in Medway at Graham, Allan and Wolf's local emporium the Royal Function Rooms, the same venue as the Medway Music and Beer Festival, Kent Soul Club and more. To this day, Big Boss Man haven't played in Medway, so it will be great to have them in. We wanted to add something else to the menu, and it made sense to pick The Hurricanes to start proceedings. Their second album should be out soon (on Spinout Nuggets), and it's sounding mighty fine!  In addition to the live events on the evening, we wanted to invite some DJs in to help keep the music going from the start till the end, so we've invited local top man Rob Flood, Kent Soul Club Promoter/DJ Richard Flack and Cookin' Catfish Club Promoter/DJ Russell Deal (who's club night takes place in The Billabong Club at the back of the same venue at various dates throughout the year), in addition to Dave and I. All we need now is a good crowd of people to fill it up.


Q. What comes next for the ever-expanding Spinout empire?

A. Ah! Well, the label has a fair few releases lined up for the year ahead, as already said. We are working on the next label compilation, Chapter 2 also, but no particular planned release date as yet. I'm hoping to do a Spinout Nuggets showcase or two at some point, as it would be great to get everyone together. In some ways, Mick and Dave's club night The Primitive Club has already been an accidental part of this, with The Voo-Dooms (house band), Thee Girl Fridays, The Hurricanes and more planned too. The Spinout Show continues to go out every Wednesday, 6-8pm on NCB Radio (www.ncbradio.co.uk). Only realised recently that it's been almost four and a half years since Episode 1! We're currently up to Episode 217 at the time of writing - we've missed the odd week or two. We love guests on the show (remember when you and Rick joined us?). Dave has been able to help with more shows recently which is perfect. The record shop is still on the planning, but with being away so much, it's a little tricky at the moment. So, I'm continuing to sell old/new records online. I've been pondering a book division for the last year or so, as I have a few ideas, but I need a helper with that one! The sky is the limit, unless your ambition is Space! I'd like to end things with another huge thanks to all that have helped in many ways. It's really nice to be able to share something good, and it's much appreciated. There's lots that goes on in the background too, and I really do appreciate their input. Please buy records and support live music, and check out Damaged Goods Records, State Records, Heavy Soul Records, Trouserphonic Records and all those doing good things, including Retro Man Blog of course. We appreciate your ears!
- AKB April 2020

 Many thanks to Lee and Amy - be sure to check out all the exciting happenings from Spinout at their web-site here, where you can also find out more details on all the label's featured bands and releases. More info on the Spinout Explosion event on September 5th can be found here.

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

The Valves "Better Late..." Edinburgh Punk/New Wave Legends Finally Release Debut Album...! Featuring Exclusive Paul Slattery Photos.


Back in Episode 9 of Retrosonic Podcast, my colleagues Adam Donovan from The Jetsonics and Rock Photographer Paul Slattery were reminiscing about some of the great bands they both saw at The Nashville in London back in 1978. One such band were the Scottish Punk band The Valves and they both picked a blistering track of theirs called "For Adolf's Only" to play in the episode, which you can hear at our Soundcloud site here. Then a couple of weeks ago, Paul popped round to my place excitedly clutching a vinyl LP - it was The Valves 'debut' album, a lovingly packaged record that's only taken forty odd years to see the light of day and I smiled when I saw the ironic title "Better Late..." The album features one of Paul's photos on the cover and some great live shots in the insert, so I asked Paul to explain how he got to know and work with the band.

The Valves - Copyright Paul Slattery
"I’d already got The Valves first two singles which were released in 1977, "Robot Love" and "Ain’t No Surf in Portobello" which I’d played to death so I was mad to see them play live which I finally did, supporting The Zones at The Nashville in September ’78. They played a blinder and I came back to The Nashville a week later to see them support The Records. The Valves were a superb band with great tunes and catchy lyrics, but what I really liked was their humour. Dave was just a top frontman, the two Gordons were a fantastic rhythm section and Ronnie was a bloody good guitarist. The other thing I learned after the second Nashville gig was that they were all a good laugh and liked a drink so we all got on like a house on fire. I got a tape in the post soon after that gig, seven tracks which I thought would be the basis for an album. I didn’t know at the time though that I’d have to wait forty two years to see that album released! In October of ’78 I went up to Edinburgh to do a photo session with the Valves, walking around Greyfriars and Edinburgh Castle and then going down to Portobello Beach. It was a fun session and the band have been using these photos ever since. The evening after the photo session they played a late gig at the Yellow Carvel in Edinburgh. The Stiff Train tour had played that evening and they all came down to the pub to see the Valves play a packed out gig. Wreckless Eric wanted to sing with them but was so pissed he fell over before he could get on the stage. The home crowd knew all the words and went crazy - It was a wild night! I’m really chuffed the band have used the Portobello photo on the front of their finally released album "The Valves...Better Late" and a few of mine from Nashville and Music Machine gigs on the album insert. The album is a wonderful slice of Post-Punk R&B and it’s real feelgood music. A very nice package too. Bands come and go but I always had a soft spot for the Valves. That old demo tape I got from them has been played to death over the last forty years so it’s great to finally hear the songs on vinyl. If the band were to re-form and play a couple of gigs to celebrate this album release it would make my day." - Paul Slattery February 2020

The Valves - Copyright Paul Slattery
The Valves were originally from Edinburgh and the line-up featured singer and lyricist Dave Robertson, guitarist Ronnie MacKinnon, bassist Gordon Scott and drummer Gordon Dair. The band released three singles between 1977 to 1979 before disappearing, until now! They always regretted not releasing an album like so many of their contemporaries but finally, after years of preparation they have assembled a re-mixed and re-mastered compilation of demos, studio sessions along with three live tracks, for this superb collection on their very own Portobello Record Company.


The Valves - Copyright Paul Slattery
The Valves sound is a thoroughly entertaining and uplifting mix that zooms across the Atlantic and back again, picking up some varied influences along the way. There's the summery Californian West Cost harmonies of "Ain't No Surf In Portobello" and one of my favourites, the catchy Bubble-gum Pop of "Diana Barrymore". Then we hop over to the Lower East Side of New York to the Dolls swagger of "Mum & Dad" and “West End Club” in which Dave Robertson's gruff, snarling vocals remind me of the New York Dolls' David Johansen. Then it's back to the U.K. for some raw touches of Canvey Island Feelgood R'n'B on "I Don't Wanna Eat You" with its choppy Wilko style guitar and some wicked harmonica playing. "Anytime" would have made a classic Stiff Records single in the Costello and Graham Parker mould. However, the band specialise in their very own brand of tuneful Punk Rock and New Wave as perfectly captured in the album opener “Adolf's Only", The Valves' quintessential late 70's Punk nugget of a 7” single. They certainly have the tunes, "Sister Radio" is a masterclass in perfect Power Pop, packed full of the melodic suss of bands like The Nerves and The Boys. "So Stuck Up" is  a great up-tempo Punky R'n'B number but it's the slow burning and menacing remix of "Linda Vindaloo", which is undercut by a psychedelic sitar motif, that is one of the highlights for me. "Fab Front Loader" and "Walk Don't Walk" are both tuneful songs with stinging guitar riffs from Ronnie MacKinnon. A live version of "Robot Love" complete with robotic beeps and bleeps as backing vocals is followed by the storming "Haircuts From Mars" with its thunderous bass and rolling drums powering it along at breakneck speed. It’s great stuff! Hopefully this album will not only satisfy long-time fans such as Paul and Adam but also bring The Valves to the attention of a whole new appreciative audience. I wonder how long it takes until the follow up...?!



The Valves "Better Late..." will be released by the Portobello Record Company on March 13th, for more information check out the great The Valves web-site and Blog here. Photos copyright Paul Slattery. Live photos from the Yellow Carvel, 18th October 1978. Copyright Paul Slattery.


You can hear Paul and Adam talking about The Valves and their choice of track in Retrosonic Podcast Episode 9 below. The full Retrosonic archive is available at our Soundcloud site here.