Friday, 7 June 2013

Crash 74: Glam Beat Garage Freak-out from ex-Sparks and Revillos members at the 12 Bar Club May 31st

Crash 74 at The 12 Bar Club - Photo by Paul Slattery
This was another contender for the coveted prize of "Gig of the Year", yes another one! Although I should add that, despite the fact that the 12 Bar Club was sold out and people were being turned away at the door, there may not be another Crash 74 gig ever again. The band were only ever concieived as a short-term project by two drummers, California resident Harley Feinstein, the original drummer from Sparks - or Halfnelson as they were called when Harley first joined - and Nicky "Rocky Rhythm" Forbes from The Revillos. It was a shame that Harley and Nicky didn't play drums together on the night, except for a brief drum-off with Nicky on a snare, but then again there's barely space on the 12 Bar stage for one drum-kit let alone two, and that's before you take into account the seven band members that make up Crash 74.

Crash 74 at The 12 Bar Club - Photo by Paul Slattery
Lee Sullivan and Stevie Savage - Photo by Paul Slattery
The band performed an eclectic mix of mainly Sixties and Seventies cover versions and a selection of songs from The Revillos and Sparks back catalogue. As well as Nicky and Harley the band comprised of Harley's glamorous wife Michelle, who shared lead vocals with Nicky and on bass, their Californian friend, Paul Jensen. Lead guitar came courtesy of Stevie Savage Nicky's bandmate in The Roadholders and the brass section was Lee Sullivan on Sax and Dexy D'Angelo on trumpet. Each band member brought a clearly defined character and personality to the party, as well as some top notch playing. Kicking off with an instrumental with Nicky playing drums, he then gives way to Harley and moves to centre stage for a fun thrash through Mud's "Tiger Feet", holding up placards with "Neat" and "Right" written on to encourage some audience participation. Nicky is then joined on vocals by Michelle and they play the brilliantly titled "I Can't Believe That You Would Fall For All The Crap In This Song...", actually my favourite song from Sparks' latest album proper, "Exotic Creatures of The Deep".

Lee and Dexy in the background, Michelle and Paul Jensen - by Paul Slattery
It was a welcome surprise, with Nicky and Michelle performing a choreographed routine to illustrate the cynical love story at the heart of the song. They both make a great double act, Michelle really takes to the role with a huge smile and bags of energy and Nicky throws his guitar around, nearly knocking my head off at one point! Stevie Savage's crunching guitar chords herald T-Rex's "20th Century Boy" and then it's a bouncing rendition of The Honeycombs' great Joe Meek produced hit "Have I The Right". The Move's "Fire Brigade" is probably a little bit out of kilter compared with the rest of the set, but then it's The Revillos track that sparked off the unlikely formation of the band, "Rev Up!", although Nicky needs to read the lyrics from a crib sheet. He's then back behind the drums for The Revillos instrumental "Manhunt" before Harley takes over at the kit for a brilliant run through of "(No More) Mr. Nice Guys" from the "Halfnelson/Sparks" album and then the stop start let's confuse the audience "Whippings and Apologies" from "A Woofer In Tweeter's Clothing" which was excellent, with Michelle really nailing the vocals. Sherbet's throwaway novelty hit "Howzat", is surprisingly catchy but then we get a double whammy of Sparks classics with "Amateur Hour" and "This Town Ain't Big Enough For The Both of Us". They are not the easiest songs to cover but they both work perfectly and the crowd go a little bit crazy. The Revillos brilliant single "Motorbike Beat" is easily a match for the previous two songs and the band finish off with The Dave Clark Five's "Glad All Over", London's answer to the classic Merseybeat sound, famously covered by The Rezillos, and it was a suitably stomping finale to a superb, colourful and exciting set by Crash 74. A great gig, full of fun and spontaneity. So let's hope Harley and Michelle come back to the U.K. on holiday soon, bring Paul with them and hook up with Nicky, Dexy, Lee and Stevie again so we can have another Crash 74 gig to look forward to.

Original Sparks drummer Harley Feinstein in action - by Paul Slattery
Crash 74 - Photo by Paul Slattery
Nicky Forbes excellent book about life on the road with The Revillos, entitled "The Rhythm Method" is available from The Revillos web-site. We're planning to arrange an interview with Nicky for our Retrosonic Podcast to discuss the book in more detail. We are also very excited to annnouce that soon we will be releasing a very special episode of Retrosonic with the true gent that is Harley Feinstein, where he gives us all the background to how this Trans-Atlantic band got together and tells us more about his Crash 74 colleagues. He also treats us to an in-depth talk about his time as the original drummer with Sparks, one of the most original and influential bands to come out of the Seventies. This is a fascinating look at the very early days of the band and his relationship with the Mael brothers, and I am sure that any fans of Sparks will thoroughly enjoy this Episode. Keep an eye out on the Blog or Retrosonic Podcast Soundcloud site for an announcement of the release date. You can also "Like" the Retro Man Blog Facebook page for updates.

Michelle and Nicky of Crash 74 - Photo by Paul Slattery
For more photos of Crash 74 at The 12 Bar Club then "Like" the Retro Man Blog Facebook page for access to the photo album. With sincere thanks to Paul Slattery, Nicky Forbes and Harley Feinstein.

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