Friday, 19 February 2021

Music From The Edge of The Universe: The 5 Billion In Diamonds Story, a special Retrosonic Podcast with Butch Vig, Andy Jenks & James Grillo

Portraits by Helen White

We welcome 5 Billion In Diamonds founder members, the legendary producer and drummer with Garbage Butch Vig, Bristol UK producer Andy Jenks and UK DJ James Grillo into the virtual Retrosonic Podcast studio to get the definitive and fascinating story on how this star-studded Transatlantic project came to fruition. The band's second LP "Divine Accidents" released on Make Records (our Album of The Year 2020), the follow up to their eponymous 2017 debut is another imaginary soundtrack to another imaginary film - a dazzling sonic and thematic journey to the heavens, a reaction to and escape from the insanity of these times. The band have brought some 80's vibes into the cinematic mix of Psych Rock and Folk sounds and expanded their sonic palette using the same stellar cast of collaborators including singers Ebbot Lundberg of The Soundtrack of Our Lives and The Indigo Children, David Schelzel of The Ocean Blue, Damian O'Neill of The Undertones, Sandra Dedrick of The Free Design, singer Helen White and musicians including the Bristol Wrecking Crew of Alex Lee, Sean Cook and Damon Reece on guitars, bass and drums. The album also features new sublime contributions from James Bagshaw of British psych rockers Temples and gorgeous vocals from Martin Barnard from Jenk’s '90's combo Alpha. In this thoroughly entertaining journey through 5 Billion In Diamonds musical universe, Butch, Andy and James play and talk us through some of the many and varied influences on the 5BiD sound including John Barry, Ramases, John Carpenter, Jimmie Spheeris, The BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Michel Legrand, Linda Perhacs, Faust, Jeff Bridges and Richard Rodney Bennett. 


There's also a pick of their own music from both albums including the forthcoming single and a special sneak preview of the as yet unreleased vinyl-only bonus track featuring Jimmy Chamberlin from The Smashing Pumpkins. There's a comprehensive introduction to all of the 5BiD special guest musicians and vocalists and a Butch Vig edited medley of examples of their music. Along the way we find out how they all met, the influence of movie soundtracks and about the collaborative songwriting process. We also discover how bureaucracy got Butch and James drunk and their unorthodox tactics for approaching prospective special guests. If all that is not enough, James tells us who is next on his special guest wish list, Andy plays a track from his new project Ree-Vo and Butch gives us an update on the new Garbage album. We even find out how TV presenter, naturalist and conservationist Chris Packham is involved with 5 Billion In Diamonds. So, sit back, relax and enjoy this very special episode, packed full of music from the edge of the universe.

James Grillo, Ebbot Lundberg & Andy Jenks - Photo Copyright Paul Slattery

You can listen, download or stream directly from the Soundcloud site below or subscribe to Retrosonic Podcast at Spotify, Apple Podcasts/iTunes and Mixcloud. There are also special dedicated episodes with Ebbot Lundberg and Damian O'Neill in the archive where both discuss their involvement with 5 Billion In Diamonds and much more besides.

You can check out our 2016 feature on Five Billion In Diamonds in our archive here, which includes exclusive Paul Slattery photographs of recording sessions from Press Play Studios with Ebbot.

Ebbot Lundberg 5 Billion In Diamonds Session - Photo copyright Paul Slattery

The double vinyl version of "Divine Accidents" is available to pre-order from Make Records here and for more information on 5 Billion In Diamonds, please check out their official Facebook page here

Wednesday, 13 January 2021

Looking for a New England: Action, Time, Vision. Music, Film & TV 1975-1986 by Simon Matthews (Oldcastle Books)

It’s always nice when someone actually takes the time to check a bit about the content of Retro Man Blog and what we’re about before contacting us with a view to feature or review something. So, I was particularly intrigued to hear from author Simon Matthews about his latest book “Looking for a New England. Action, Time, Vision: Music, Film and TV 1975-1986” published by Oldcastle Books. The title alone was enough to capture my attention, not just for managing to include two of my favourite songs from Billy Bragg and Alternative TV, but also the period covered coincided with what was for me at least, a seemingly golden age of music and cinema. This fascinating and evocative book is meticulously researched, covering over 100 movies and TV shows and written in a narrative style that puts everything into the social and political context of the times. This certainly adds a lot of welcome background information and helps you to understand the circumstances, reasons and more often than not, the difficulties behind the various productions. Although the main years covered are 1975-1986, there’s also explanations on the transition from the end of the Pop Culture boom of the Swinging 60’s (superbly covered in Simon’s previous book “Psychedelic Celluloid”) through the hardships faced by the British cinema industry right up to the Cool Britannia, Austin Powers and Britpop era of the mid to late ‘90’s, which somewhat ironically, ultimately harked back to the Swinging 60’s. So, I found that “Looking for a New England” really is the ideal Lockdown book as it’ll have you dusting down all those old VHS video tapes to revisit old favourites - or scouring YouTube to track down some of the more obscure or intriguing movies and TV shows so brilliantly and vividly brought back to life. The book is broken down into various chapters covering the relevant and important themes that informed many of the movies, TV and music of the times, including Art, Politics and Transgressive productions. There’s a particularly interesting chapter on the slew of Dystopian movies, which was probably as much to do with the prevailing fear of a nuclear war so rife at the time and the high-profile campaigning of CND. Of course, it’s probably the superb book-to-movie adaptations of George Orwell’s “1984” and Philip K. Dick’s “Blade Runner that spring to mind, but there’s also a reminder of Terry Gilliam’s equally stunning “Brazil”. 


Then there’s a chapter that deals with the subject of race in the movies whether that be with the proliferation of films in the Kung-Fu genre or those dealing with the issues facing London’s Black communities in Ladbroke Grove and Brixton as seen in 1975’s “Pressure” starring Herbert Norville and “Black Joy”, released in 1977.  There’s interesting comment on movies and TV shows that tackled the Troubles in Northern Ireland with dramas such as “Harry’s Game”, “Cal” and “The Crying Game” as well as the story of the inspiring Punk scene that sprang from all the hardship covered in the documentary “Shellshock Rock”. Interesting trivia snippet: Derek Thompson, the Belfast born actor who starred in “Harry’s Game” but who’s probably best known from his role in Casualty, used to be in a late 60’s Folk trio called Odin’s People. Scottish movies are also covered such as 1985’s “Restless Natives” and two of my all-time favourite films, “Gregory’s Girl” starring Clare Grogan from Altered Images, and the classic “Local Hero” which features the immortal lines “Are you sure there are two L’s in dollar, Gideon?”, “Yes, and there are two G’s in bugger off!” The chapter on Comedy highlights Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, Alexei Sayle and “The Young Ones” and “Not the Nine O’Clock News” but of course, it’s dominated by the Monty Python gang with “Jabberwocky” and “The Life of Brian”. But it also highlights the importance of George Harrison and his Handmade Films production company in getting these and other independent British films made. Along the way, some other important people are featured such as Ken Russell and David Hemmings and somewhat surprisingly, Harold Wilson and his Eady Levy, which went towards encouraging movie production in the U.K. Here are some other featured movies and TV shows which might elicit a pang of nostalgia - “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”, “Scum”, “The Long Good Friday”, “Abigail’s Party”, “My Beautiful Laundrette” and “Rock Follies”. They just don’t make them like that anymore! 

For me, however it’s the music related sections that really impress, citing the importance of “Slade In Flame” in finally shaking off that groovy multi-coloured Carnaby Street image and portraying the seedy and unglamorous side of the music business. There’s a whole chapter dedicated to David Bowie’s forays into theatre with “The Elephant Man” and the movies with “The Man Who Fell to Earth”, “Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence” and “The Hunger” being the most successful. Simon doesn’t gloss over the less than successful movies though, he unravels the fiasco that was “Absolute Beginners” and doesn’t shirk from bringing up “Labyrinth”. There’s also plenty of attention given to the relevant original soundtrack music too. There are three whole chapters allocated to Punk Rock from its birth, flowering and death. It starts off by highlighting the importance of figures such as Dave Robinson who set up the Pub Rock circuit before going on to found the influential Stiff Records. Of course, John Peel and Malcolm McLaren are mentioned but it doesn’t forget the less celebrated people such as DJ Charlie Gillett who went onto manage Ian Dury. It’s sadly true that despite Punk being such a colourful, exciting and creative movement there really isn’t much in the way of visual documents capturing those early years. What there is however, is decidedly lo-fi and in keeping with the D.I.Y. “anyone can do it” philosophy I guess – so we have Don Letts’ scratchy but exciting “Punk Rock Movie” and “D.O.A.” by Lech Kowalski. Thank god then for the German filmmaker Wolfgang Büld who released his 16mm film “Punk in London” in 1977 featuring vital performances from The Clash, X-Ray Spex, The Lurkers, The Killjoys and The Jam among others. Büld also filmed The Adverts on tour in Germany for “Bored Teenagers” along with other must-see movies “Reggae in Babylon”, “Women in Rock” and “Punk and Its Aftershocks”. 

Of course, the peerless “Quadrophenia” is covered along with Derek Jarman’s “Jubilee” which featured performances from Toyah, Adam Ant and Jordan and then there’s The Clash’s “Rude Boy”. Somewhat surprisingly, very few musicians of the time would break through into “real” acting roles. Joe Strummer had a try with the Director Alex Cox’s “Straight to Hell” and “Walker”, there was Hazel O’Connor’s starring role in “Breaking Glass” and John Lydon appearing alongside Harvey Keitel in “Order of Death”. Actually, on the flipside, it’s some now familiar and highly respected actors who initially made their names with roles in music or related movies – of course most of the cast of Quadrophenia would go on to enjoy mainstream success but also Gary Oldman impressed with his portrayal of Sid Vicious in “Sid & Nancy” and Tim Roth was the menacing skinhead in “Made in Britain”. Interesting trivia snippet: Ray Winstone was the lead singer in the fictitious “band” featured in the movie “Ladies & Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains” alongside Sex Pistols Steve Jones and Paul Cook and The Clash’s Paul Simonon. Then there’s the convoluted story of the making of “The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle” which is more interesting than the movie itself. There’s one obscurity that makes a fleeting appearance in the book and it might be worth trying to track down, “Pervirella” which is a low budget slice of Trash that starred some Medway Garage Rock names that might be familiar to Retro Man Blog regulars - Sexton Ming (as Queen Victoria), Bruce Brand and Billy Childish. The conclusion of the book looks at the way that many of the once fiercely independent and challenging movers and shakers became the new mainstream. Protest movements such as Red Wedge and Rock Against Racism faded out as Thatcherism tightened its grip. Original Punk bands such as The Damned and Siouxsie & The Banshees crossed over into the mainstream, I mean even The Fall hit the charts with “Hit the North”. Of course, the best example of this is how Richard Branson’s once small independent label Virgin rose to such worldwide business prominence. The commerciality of movies also rises with the opening of the first Multiplex cinema in 1986 and there’s the massively hyped blockbuster movies sweeping all before them. Nowadays, it’s Pay-Per-View and Subscription television channels who are challenging the cinema and movie industries with their lavish productions that often seem to equal the scale of a standard Hollywood blockbuster. Maybe this would make for an interesting subject for Simon to tackle in a future book! 

Simon Matthews has had a varied career including a spell running the British Transport Films documentary film library and several years singing in semi-professional rock groups. He has contributed articles on music, film and cultural history to Record Collector, Shindig! and Lobster magazines.You can order "Looking for a New England" from the publishers Oldcastle Books here. I can also thoroughly recommend Simon Matthews excellent "Psychedelic Celluloid: British Pop Music in Film & TV 1965-1974" which is also available from Oldcastle Books

Monday, 28 December 2020

The Countess of Fife (featuring Fay Fife from The Rezillos) Kickstarter Campaign to Raise Funds for their Debut Album

Fay Fife is best known as the lead singer and performer with seminal Scottish Art Punk bands The Rezillos & The Revillos. She is primarily a singer, performer and songwriter and has acted in a leading role within all the bands and projects she has worked on. Fay has initiated two further music projects in the last 5 years. She is musical director, songwriter, lead singer and musician with Multi-Arts project ‘Shamanic’. She is also the frontwoman and driving force of new band, The Countess of Fife (eclectic, alternative country). Begun in 2016 as a song writing project, it is now a live/recording band. The band have started up a Kickstarter campaign to help raise the funds to complete their debut album. There are various packages on offer at various prices which you can check out here. Here's the lowdown from Fay taken from the Kickstarter page.

"Hi, I’m Fay Fife, and some of you may know me as the lead singer in the seminal Scottish Punk band The Rezillos. I’ve had a long career in music with a lot of experience in “the biz”, being the creative mover in The Rezillos and The Revillos as well as several other music/art projects. I’ve seen a lot of changes in that time, including the demise of many record labels and the necessity to “do it yourself” and "do it your own way", which I've always tended to do anyway! My involvement in The Rezillos continues, but I've also formed a new Alt-country  band, The Countess of Fife. It began as a writing project which has developed into a band with a singular sound and a growing international following. After 4 years honing our sound, we have a bank of tried and tested material - and some brand new songs as well -  that we want to record and release as a high-quality studio album, digital, CD and vinyl. We loosely locate ourselves within an insurgent alt-country framework with a feminist bite in the lyrics. The influences are drawn from diverse sources that illustrate my personal journey, and we nail our colours to the mast as something earthy, real, and rooted to life. We’ve been described as “like The Cramps crossed with Johnny Cash” and while I don't like to pin us down too much, it captures something of my Punk roots coupled with a real-life Country bent. 

The band is a great mix of youth and experience with me on lead vocals and keys, Lord Allan McDowall from Scottish Post-Punk country outfit So You Think You’re a Cowboy, on guitars and vocals, with a great rhythm section of Sir Thaddeus G Pycroft (electric and double bass) and Lady Nora Noonan on drums and vocals. We've released an EP of live material, but now it's time to hit the studio for our first proper recording!  It will be produced by the hugely talented, award winning music producer Jim Sutherland who has worked with people including Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, Billy Bragg, Emmylou Harris, The Bhundu Boys and Eliza Carthy. He’s also created music for a wide range of films including the recent The Outlaw King and Disney/Pixar’s Brave! Our plans have had to be adapted due to the COVID 19 pandemic, with extra costs to be covered to be able to record in a way which keeps everyone safe but doesn’t compromise the end result. The decision to self release also means a lot of upfront costs. Hence this Kickstarter appeal. This is your chance to jump in early, with rewards including early access to download tracks, pre-orders of the CD and vinyl, T Shirts, exclusive tracks, exciting opportunities to see behind the scenes and meet the band,  and the chance to get your name on the final product as a backer. And you won’t have to wait long, we aim to have it released around July 2021."

Thursday, 24 December 2020

Retro Man Blog & Retrosonic Podcast's 25 Favourite Singles & EP's of 2020

Here's our favourite 25 Singles and EP's of 2020, please click on the highlighted Band/Artist/selected Record Label name for further information and details on how to purchase the records. With thanks to all the Bands, Artists and Record labels for releasing such superb new music in this most difficult of years. Sincere thanks to our contributors Paul Slattery, Mayumi, Adam Donovan, Amy K-B, Ms Sheringham-Boom and all those who have supported Retro Man Blog and Retrosonic Podcast this past year, it is very much appreciated. Happy Xmas and let's hope for a brighter 2021!
2. The Limiñanas "Calentita"
4. The Courettes "Want You! Like a Cigarette" (Damaged Goods Records)
5. Fleur "Petite Homme de Papier" (Bickerton Records)
6. The Damned "The Rockfield Files"
7. Melody Fields "Broken Horse"
8. 5 Billion in Diamonds "Weight of The World"
9. The Colour Collection "Ne Décide Pas Pour Moi" (Bickerton Records)
12. Wire "The Art of Persistence"
13. Cult Figures "Lights Out"
14. Jetstream Pony "If Not Now, When?" (Spinout Nuggets)
16. The Go-Go's "Club Zero"
17. The High Span "Quirky Miniboss Squad" (Spinout Nuggets)
19. The In-Fuzzed "Lost Time Rock 'n' Roll" (Satellite of Love Records)
20. Ian Person "Forever"
21. Palooka 5 "Drive You Around
23. Keller Machine "Songs About You"
24. Draculina "Strip Trip To Miracle Cove" (MuSick Records)
25. Spizzenergi "Christmas In Denmark Street" (Holy Dotage Records)

Check out our Retrosonic Podcasts Episodes 38, 39, 40 and 41 to hear songs from most of the featured records. You can find our favourite LP's of the year here. Here's the final Retrosonic Episode of 2020 entitled "Nosferatu Elegant Debauchery". Turn up the volume and enjoy!

Retro Man Blog & Retrosonic Podcast's 25 Favourite Albums of 2020

Here's our favourite 25 LP's of 2020, please click on the highlighted Band/Artist/selected Record Label name for further information and details on how to purchase the albums. With thanks to all the Bands, Artists and Record labels for releasing such superb new music in this most difficult of years. Sincere thanks to our contributors Paul Slattery, Mayumi, Adam Donovan, Amy K-B, Ms Sheringham Boom and all those who have supported Retro Man Blog and Retrosonic Podcast this past year, it is very much appreciated. Happy Xmas and let's hope for a brighter 2021!

1. 5 Billion in Diamonds "Divine Accidents"

2. Oh! Gunquit "Why Haven't You Watered The Plants"

3. Fleur "Fleur" (Bickerton Records)

4. The Galileo 7 "Decayed"

5. Elephant Stone "Hollow"

6. Bob Mould "Blue Hearts"

7. Groovy Uncle "The Man Who Calls The Shots" - You can read our review by Amy K-B here

8. The Jack Cades "Perfect View" (Bickerton Records)

9. The Fleshtones "Face of The Screaming Werewolf"

10. James Williamson & Deniz Tek "Two To One"

11. Jetstream Pony "Jetstream Pony"

12. The Sensible Gray Cells "Get Back Into The World" (Damaged Goods)

13. Eileen Gogan & The Instructions "Under Moving Skies" (Dimple Discs)

14. Sparks "A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip"

15. X "Alphabetland"

16. Guided By Voices "Mirrored Aztec"

17. Eight Rounds Rapid "Love Your Work" (Tapete) - You can read our review here

18. The Nettelles "Do You Believe In..." (Back To Beat) - Read Ms Sheringham-Boom's review here

19. Ruts DC "ElectrAcoustic"

20. The Vapors "Together"

21. The Speedways "Radio Sounds"

22. Hederosgruppen "Storstrejk"

23. Human Toys "Spin To Win"

24. OHMS "Horizon Lines"

25. The Lurkers "Sex Crazy" (Damaged Goods)

Check out our Retrosonic Podcasts Episodes 38, 39, 40 and 41 to hear songs from most of the featured albums. Our favourite Singles and EP's will follow soon. Here's the final Retrosonic Episode of 2020 entitled "Nosferatu Elegant Debauchery". Turn up the volume and enjoy!

Sunday, 20 December 2020

Retrosonic Podcast Episode 41 "Nosferatu Elegant Debauchery" featuring Baby Shakes, Oh! Gunquit, 5 Billion in Diamonds, Autoramas, The Len Price 3, Spizzenergi & More

Cover Star Wanda De Lullabies by Steve Vonlanthen

Welcome to "Nosferatu Elegant Debuchery", episode 41 of Retrosonic Podcast and it's another totally non-retro show featuring some more superb new music. As it's going to be our last episode of 2020 I'd like to say a huge thank you to all those who have contributed to the Retro Man Blog and Retrosonic Podcasts during this extremely tough year, in particular my colleague the 'legendary' Rock Photographer Paul Slattery, Ms Sheringham-Boom, Amy K-B, Mayumi and Adam Donovan. I still find it hard to believe that since the lockdown started in March, I've managed to release four whole episodes solely dedicated to brand new releases and I have nothing but the utmost respect and appreciation for all those Bands, Artists and DJ's that put aside the incredible disappointment of not being able to perform live and channelled it into some absolutely fantastic records and/or on-line broadcasts that kept us all entertained. Also, to the record companies such as Spinout Nuggets, Dimple Discs, Damaged Goods and many more that made a lot of the records possible. I also thoroughly enjoyed doing the twelve episodes of the Lockdown Lowdown series too and massive thanks to my very special guests, Damian O'Neill of The Undertones/That Petrol Emotion/The Everlasting Yeah, Mary, Judy & Claudia of Baby Shakes, Duncan Reid of The Boys/Big Heads, Raymond Gorman of That Petrol Emotion/The Everlasting Yeah, Buddy Ascott of The Chords/Fallen Leaves, Mike & Elsa from The Jack Cades, Leigh Heggarty of Ruts DC/The Price, Ian Person of The Soundtrack of Our Lives/Pablo Matisse, Allan Crockford & Viv Bonsels from The Galileo 7, Ian Greensmith of The Dentists/Armitage Shanks and DJ Jawa Jones of Wanita Music. All of the episodes are still available at our Soundcloud site here. I hope you enjoyed listening to them as much as I did making them. Actually, as the lockdown looks set to continue and I have lots more interesting special guests on the wait-list, I might well do some more episodes in the New Year. Finally, huge thanks and cheers to all the regular readers/subscribers/listeners to Retro Man Blog and Retrosonic Podcast, it is very much appreciated and I hope to see you at a gig somewhere, sometime in 2021. So, pour yourself a drink, turn up the volume, sit back and enjoy Episode 41!


Groovy Uncle (featuring Miss Modus) "The Man Who Calls The Shots"

5 Billion in Diamonds (featuring Ebbot Lundberg) "Weight of The World"

Baby Shakes "Sweet & Sour"

Oh! Gunquit "Attack of The Killer Cranes"

Autoramas "Boneco"

The Len Price 3 "Weekend Hippies"

The In-Fuzzed "Lost Time Rock 'n' Roll"

The Ace "Nosferatu Seduction" 

Jetstream Pony "If Not Now, When?"

The Dupont Circles "Everywhere Girl"

OHMS "Horizon Lines"

Keller Machine "The Sink"

The Nettelles "You Lied To Me Before"

The Know Escape "The Eyes of Angel Blake"

Eileen Gogan & The Instructions "More Time"

Dragon Welding "Lights Behind The Eyes"

Hederosgruppen "Protokoll För Bohemer"

Mattias Bärjed "Jakten På en Mördare Intro"

Ian Person "Forever"

Jonny Magus & The Bursting Bubbles "Melody Delight"

Dirt Royal "Lose Our Way"

Human Toys "He Said Yeah"

The Folk Devils "Forever"

Spizzenergi "Christmas In Denmark Street"

Please click the highlighted link above to check out more information on the featured bands and more importantly, how to buy their lovely records. This episode's cover star Wanda De Lullabies photographed by Steve Vonlanthen. Title from "Nosferatu Seduction" by The Ace. Retrosonic Theme Tune by Adam Donovan. Retrosonic Podcast has a valid PRS Licence. You can subscribe to Retrosonic at Soundcloud, iTunes/Apple Podcasts, Mixcloud and we are now at Spotify - please subscribe/follow so you don't miss an episode!

Friday, 18 December 2020

Southend Punk Volume One: Excellent New Compilation Out Now on Angels in Exile Records

I received this great compilation CD in the post entitled “Southend Punk Volume One” which has just been released on Steve Pegrum’s Angels in Exile label. Steve also runs the excellent, comprehensive web-site and archive Southend Punk 1976-1986 and being a veteran of some of the bands featured on the album, is perfectly placed to offer us some prime cuts of local talent. I’ve met Steve a few times over the years and can vouch for his dedication and enthusiasm to local Punk Music. Southend is a place I know a bit about, being originally from Essex myself and having some old friends in the town and other nearby places. I’ve been to the fabulous Adrian’s Record Store in Wickford, attended gigs at Crocs/The Pink Toothbrush and of course paid homage to those legendary musical landmarks such as The Kursaal and Dr. Feelgood’s Canvey Island. I also remember when I used to go and see The Damned at places like The Lyceum and Hammersmith Palais in London, there was always a large following of Southend Punks at the gigs. The Damned were a band that the area seemed to take to their hearts. Then, as the Positive Punk and Gothic scenes emerged, I used to regularly go to gigs and clubs like the Batcave with my pals from Southend. I even wrote about local bands like Anorexic Dread, The Hints and Puppets Prey in my old DIY fanzine “Out of Step” and put out some of their songs on my cassette label. Many years later, I kind of rediscovered Southend mainly thanks to the fantastic pub and venue The Railway, brilliantly and enthusiastically run by Fi and Dave Dulake, and ended up putting on a few Retro Man Blog nights there with The Len Price 3 and TV Smith of The Adverts in conjunction with help from local Podrophenia Podcasters and DJ’s Mondo & Piley and Steve Pegrum also helped out with the promo too. On one night, one of the support bands was the superb Eight Rounds Rapid who include Wilko Johnson’s son Simon on guitar and I was chuffed to bits when his Dad turned up to watch. 

TV Smith with Wilko Johnson at The Railway by Paul Hughes

So, I was really excited to receive the CD and check out some of those bands who I often only knew by name and reputation. My favourites include “How Did You Know” by the Steve Hooker Band, mainly due to the pumped up R’n’B feel and the harmonica which seems to capture the very essence of the area’s sound. The Garage Rock vibe of The Vicars “Radio Roy” also impressed as does the closing track, an instrumental by the Armless Teddies that reminds me of The Damned’s “Smash It Up Parts 1, 3 & 4”. It’s also interesting to hear The Prey as here they sound more akin to The Chords and The Jam, slightly different to the band Puppet’s Prey that they morphed into when I knew them. The compilation aims to document as many of the bands as possible from the Punk rock era that emerged from Southend and its environs. Many bands have contributed tracks that are making their debut appearance on CD. The compilation itself emerged as an idea after the success of the Southend Punk Rock History website, with many people asking to hear these bands whom they hadn't had a voice for a long time. Steve launched the website “Southend Punk Rock History 1976–1986” in 2006, celebrating the Punk and Alternative heritage of this seaside town on the Thames Estuary. The Punk explosion hit the town hard, and being only 32 miles from London, Southend Punks enjoyed not only their own thriving scene, but were also able to regularly inhabit all the London and surrounding area Punk gigs and clubs. 

Steve Pegrum with Gaye Advert at The Railway

The website celebrates Southend's own experience of The Punk Years though, and with the contributions of photographs and various items of memorabilia from many local Punks, the site’s archive has grown considerably since its inception. The Southend Punk Volume One compilation CD is an extension of the site, and it includes 14 tracks by many of the main Punk bands that the area produced during the period such as The Machines, The Steve Hooker Band, The Vicars, The Deciballs, The Psychopaths, The Shocks, The Bullies, The Icons, The Sinyx, Kronstadt Uprising, Allegiance To No One, The Burning Idols, The Prey & The Armless Teddies. If successful, further volumes will be released. The CD comes with an excellent 16 Page colour booklet designed by Viki Vortex, which includes detailed text on the bands and rare photos and memorabilia and it provides an excellent insight into this special era.

With thanks to Steve Pegrum. You can order the album from the Angels in Exile web-site here.   

There are some features on our Retro Man Blog/Podrophenia/Southend Punk nights at the Railway up at the Blog archive now, click the highlighted dates below to find out more... 

TV Smith, Dick York and Andy J Gallagher at The Railway Hotel, June 22nd 2012

TV Smith, Dick York and Tuppenny Bunters at The Railway Hotel, November 23rd 2012

TV Smith, Eight Rounds Rapid at The Railway Hotel, December 7th 2013

Flyer for our first Retro Man Blog gig at The Railway