Friday, 24 March 2023

Damian O'Neill "Más o Menos" Remix E.P. featuring Remixes by The Limiñanas and Kevin Sharkey

"Más o Menos", the superb opening track to Undertones guitarist Damian O'Neill's critically acclaimed new instrumental album "An Crann, has been given the remix treatment in a new E.P.  out now on Dimple Discs Records. First of all, the fuzzed-up French band The Limiñanas' remix concentrates mainly on "Más o Menos" immediately memorable bass riff, which I always thought was reminiscent of Dave Richmond's iconic bass sound on Serge Gainsbourg's classic concept album "Histoire de Melody Nelson". Indeed, Lionel Limiñana has added new Serge and Jane Birkin style male-female spoken word verses in French that are really evocative of "Melody Nelson". He has then married this influence to the hypnotic Krautrock beats so favoured by The Limiñanas to create an atmospheric and highly evocative version. I'm extremely honoured to have been involved in some small way in getting Damian hooked up with The Limiñanas and to hear the end result of two of my favourite Artists working together, almost bought a tear to the eye! I knew Damian was, like me, a big fan of The Limiñanas and by coincidence, last year they were including a cover version of "Teenage Kicks" in their set-list. I must admit my first bit of meddling was to try and get Damian on stage with the band at the Scala in London's Kings Cross to join in with The Undertones classic but he politely declined. However, I did introduce them after the gig and then came Damian's idea of a possible remix, so he later asked to be put in touch as he could feel The Limiñanas might be able to draw something special out of "Más o Menos" and indeed they have. There's a feature on The Limiñanas' Scala Kings Cross show at the Retro Man Blog archive here.

Damian with Marie and Lionel Limiñana - Photo Retro Man Blog

Here's the video to The Limiñanas remix of "Más o Menos" which suits the theme of Lionel's narrative concerning a girl searching for the grave of Andrew Weatherall...enjoy!

Next  up, the excellent Kevin Sharkey remix draws out the Spaghetti Western influence throughout "Más o Menos", with its haunting whistling, tolling bells and thunderous timpani shot through with a stinging fuzz guitar chord. Sharkey has then married this cinematic sound to more traditional remix elements such as scratching, spiralling synth motifs and rhythmic bongo drums and the original backing vocals are much more prominent. Its like taking Ennio Moriconne's "Man With a Harmonica" to the dance floor. Both versions are superb examples of how a song can be twisted into two very different, but equally imaginative and effective takes on the original, which is also included on the E.P. for good measure. At present unfortunately, there are no physical formats available but you can buy the download from the Dimple Disc Records Bandcamp page here. For more information on all of Damian's solo projects and collaborations please check out his official web-site here.

Damian & Dimple Discs boss Brian O'Neill - photo by Retro Man Blog

For our Retrosonic Podcast special episode recorded at the "An Crann" album launch party and Q&A with Damian and journalist Ann Scanlon, please subscribe to Retrosonic Podcast at Spotify, Apple Podcasts, iTunes or you can listen/download direct from our SoundCloud site below. You'll also find our other thoroughly entertaining episodes with Damian along with the That Petrol Emotion/Everlasting Yeah special available in the archive.

Sunday, 19 March 2023

David Arnoff "Shot In The Dark" Book Resurrection Party at The Dublin Castle, Camden, Sunday March 19th 2023

Here are some photos from a thoroughly entertaining afternoon at the legendary music venue and pub The Dublin Castle in Camden, a suitably Rock 'n' Roll setting for the re-launch (or resurrection...) party to celebrate the new edition of "Shot In The Dark - The Collected Photography of David Arnoff" which is out now on Red Planet Books. David was there to sign copies and chat about his work, and there was a selection of iconic shots taken from the book on display, including superb photos of The Gun Club, Ramones, The Damned, Blondie, The Fuzztones, Thee Hypnotics, Television, The Cramps and many more. There was a DJ providing an excellent soundtrack to the book with loads of great CBGB's era-Punk Rock and classic tracks by some of David's many photographic subjects. I spotted some familiar faces in the crowd too, including members of Jim Jones All Stars, The Phobics, The Priscillas, The Charity Case and Gaye (Advert) Black among others. The new edition of "Shot In The Dark", which includes 16 extra images and a deluxe slipcase, is available to buy from Red Planet Books here. For more information on David and his photography, please check out his Instagram page here or his official web-site here.

All photos copyright Retro Man Blog, 2023

Saturday, 18 February 2023

The Soundtrack of Our Lives "Second Life Replay Reunion" - Sweden's Premier Psych Rockers Return!

Photo by Albin Händig
The Soundtrack of Our Lives, one of Sweden’s most legendary Rock bands, will be getting back for a Second Life Replay Reunion this summer for three festival dates: Azkena Rock Festival in Vitoria-Gasteiz (Spain) on June 16th, Way Out West in Gothenburg (Sweden) on August 11th and Øyafestivalen in Oslo (Norway) on August 12th. This will be the first time the band has played together since they split up in December 2012 and singer Ebbot Lundberg explains, "We all probably felt it was time to try and see what happens if we play together again, and the energy was still there, because the DNA was intact despite some hardships." The Soundtrack of Our Lives were formed in Gothenburg in the mid ’90s as a supergroup of sorts with members from Union Carbide Productions, Nymphet Noodlers, Whipped Cream and Mindjive. The single "Instant Repeater ’99" became a smash hit in Sweden as did their debut album "Welcome to the Infant Freebase" which won a Swedish Grammis for "Newcomer of the Year". The Soundtrack of Our Lives' majestic Psychedelic Rock soon grew beyond the country's borders, a fact that hardly escaped the Gallagher brothers in Oasis who invited the Swedes to tour with them. "Behind the Music", the third album from 2001, led to a breakthrough in the States and earned them a Grammy nomination. Last year, the band – Ebbot Lundberg (vocals), Ian Person (guitar), Mattias Bärjed (guitar), Martin Hederos (keyboards), Kalle Gustafsson Jerneholm (bass) and Fredrik Sandsten (drums) – were inducted into the Swedish Music Hall of Fame.

Stockholm Dec 2012 - Photo by Retro Man Blog
Thanks to Ebba at Ebba Lindqvist PR - B&W Photo by Albin Händig. You can join the TSOOL fan community Facebook group here, for up to date news on the reunion, all the band members other projects, along with fan's memorabilia, videos, photos and more... We'll be reporting on news of the reunion as well as digging up some fantastic material from the Retro Man Blog archives in the build-up to the festival dates. So please subscribe, follow, like to make sure you don't miss out!

Tuesday, 14 February 2023

David Arnoff "Shot In The Dark" - Photo Book Featuring Iconic Images of The Damned, The Cramps, Blondie, Ramones and more gets Deluxe Reissue & Launch Party

Photographer David Arnoff celebrates the 'resurrection' of his excellent book "Shot In The Dark" with an afternoon event at the Dublin Castle in Camden on SUNDAY MARCH 19th from 1:30-5pm. The book, full of his iconic photos of bands and artists such as The Cramps, The Damned, Nick Cave, Lydia Lunch, Blondie, The Gun Club, Ramones and Patti Smith, has been given a deluxe reissue make-over by Red Planet Books and features new text, a limited edition signed slipcase and 16 new images. The afternoon at the Dublin Castle will see David signing copies of "Shot In The Dark" and there will be a display of photos from the book along with a DJ supplying a suitably atmospheric soundtrack. It's shaping up to be an event that's not to be missed! PLEASE NOTE THIS IS A RE-SCHEDULED DATE (originally March 12th).

If you can't come along to the re-launch party then you can order the book from Red Planet here

For more information on David Arnoff's photography, please check out his official web-site here.

Monday, 13 February 2023

Ian Person "The Furies" - New Single & Video from Former Soundtrack of Our Lives Guitarist

Ian Person, the TV and Movie soundtrack composer and former guitarist with The Soundtrack of Our Lives and Union Carbide Productions, has just released "The Furies", a new brooding, atmospheric single and video that I'm sure will appeal to fans of his previous bands. Featuring vocals from Calla Axvi, drums by Markku Mulari, Bass by Teodor Boogh and organ by Oskar Lindberg, this is the first single from the forthcoming album "Autoimmune" which will be released on March 31st by Gamlestans Grammofonbolag Records. The album was recorded by Division of Laura Lee frontman Per Stalberg and mixed by Torsten Larsson. Ian has also recently been signed up by the Walk On Agency, and will be heading off on tour in Sweden to promote the new album and single, so please check out his official Facebook page here for further details. Ian's also just started an official YouTube channel here, and as a taster, here's the great video to "The Furies".

Ian is also currently in the superb Punk band Pablo Matisse which are well worth checking out. Don't forget our thoroughly entertaining Retrosonic Podcast "Lockdown Lowdown" episode with Ian is still available to listen/stream/download for free if you subscribe on Spotify, iTunes, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music or direct from our Soundcloud site below. It features music from throughout Ian's own career as well as a pick of his favourite songs and influences from bands such as The Stranglers, The Who, The Damned, Ebba Gron, Black Flag and Creedence Clearwater Revival among others.

Sunday, 12 February 2023

Retrosonic Podcast with Leigh Heggarty on Wingmen (feat. members of The Stranglers, The Damned, Supergrass, Ruts DC & Johnny Moped )

Steve from Retro Man Blog chats to Ruts DC guitarist Leigh Heggarty on the phenomenal reaction to the recent Wingmen tour and critically acclaimed self-titled debut album. Wingmen is the superb new collaboration featuring Leigh on guitar, Baz Warne from The Stranglers on lead vocals and guitar, Paul Gray from The Damned on Bass, Marty Love from Johnny Moped on drums and Rob Coombes on keyboards and Leigh explains how this lockdown project took off and exceeded all expectations. Leigh also updates us on the latest Ruts DC news including upcoming tour dates and the forthcoming album "ElectrAcoustic Vol. 2". This episode includes a pick of tracks from the Wingmen album and most recent Ruts DC releases. It's also soundtracked by The Dolphin pub's jukebox, sorry about that! You can subscribe to Retrosonic Podcast for free at Spotify, iTunes, Apple Podcasts, Amazon music or direct from our SoundCloud site below. 

You can check out the recent feature on the Wingmen's album and London show at the Islington Academy here, which includes reviews, photos and videos. 

Wingmen - Photo by Retro Man Blog

Useful links (click on the highlighted link below for further info)

Wingmen (official Facebook page)

Wingnuts (Facebook Fan's group)

Leigh on Guitar (Leigh Heggarty official Facebook page)

Leigh's Mad World of Guitars (Leigh Heggarty's official Blog)

Ruts DC

The Stranglers

The Damned

Johnny Moped


Cadiz Records

Wingmen - Photo by Retro Man Blog

Retrosonic Podcast had a valid PRS Licence. Podcover photos - Top Left: Terry Heggarty / Bottom Right: Retro Man Blog. With thanks to Leigh Heggarty. Don't forget that our "Lockdown Lowdown" episode with Leigh is still available to listen/download/stream, in which Leigh tells us about his most memorable musical encounters and experiences and includes a pick of his favourite songs and influences including tracks from The Beatles, T-Rex, The Stranglers, Rory Gallagher, Dr. Feelgood, The Flamin' Groovies and more.

Thursday, 26 January 2023

Wingmen - Self-titled Album and Live at The Islington Academy - New Collaboration Featuring Members of The Stranglers, The Damned, Ruts DC, Supergrass & Johnny Moped

"Right, you might have heard about these other bands we’ve all been in" Baz Warne addresses the Islington Academy crowd and with a sly grin he sweeps his arm round to point at his fellow bandmates in turn. “He was in the Bay City Rollers, he was in Showaddywaddy, he was in Depeche Mode, he was in The Glitter Band and I was in Black Lace!” Of course, we all know that Baz is really the singer and guitarist with The Stranglers, but just who are the rest of his colleagues that make up this new band Wingmen we are all waiting in anticipation to see tonight. Well, to Baz’s left is former Eddie & The Hot Rods and UFO bassist, Paul Gray, who is back for his second stint with The Damned. At the back is drummer Marty Love who was in Case and currently the Johnny Moped Band and then there’s Rob Coombes from Supergrass behind the keyboards. Finally, the familiar looking chap with the Gibson SG guitar, trademark trilby and shades is Leigh Heggarty, once of The Price and now plying his trade with the mighty Ruts DC. Although I’m not doubting there’s some excellent pedigree there, Wingmen might not quite qualify for the “Supergroup” status that’s been bandied about in almost every glowing review and feature so far, a fact they have acknowledged themselves with self-deprecating humour in their choice of band name, Wingmen. I suppose they could have gone for The Side Kicks if Wingmen had already been taken. This is because on stage is a collection of mighty fine musicians that nevertheless may well have been considered as overshadowed, underrated, underappreciated or overlooked by those not in the know. However, Wingmen is very much a band in its own right, as Baz also makes a point of telling us, and who are we to argue with Baz? If you want to have a go, I’ll hold your coat. 

Seriously though, it’s very refreshing to see that Wingmen are not overdoing the association with their parent bands - a brave move in these nostalgia-filled times. So, there’s no “Babylon’s Burning”, “No More Heroes” or “New Rose” on the set-list, no chance. Tonight, they are going to play the new self-titled debut album in its entirety and despite someone yelling out “play something we know!”, people around me down the front are soon singing along to the new songs as they would have done to all those old familiar classics anyway. This proves that the album is already making quite an impact and tonight, the songs sound even better performed live. I wasn’t being flippant by saying this is no Supergroup, and the band’s own modesty is down-playing the often-overlooked contributions that all the members of Wingmen have had on their ‘other’ bands and now they deserve to have the spotlight on them for a change. I mean, Marty Love has been part of the recent resurgence and reappraisal of Johnny Moped and he really is a bloody great drummer. Sorry I can’t be more technical than that I’m afraid, I’ll have to get in my some-time Retrosonic Podcast colleague and legendary sticksman Buddy Ascott for that. Powerful, yes of course, but Marty accentuates the songs perfectly, adding a swagger, a real groove to Wingmen’s sound. Can I say that without sounding like my dad? “It’s got a good beat to it, son.” Rob Coombes has been supplying keyboards for Supergrass since 1997’s “In It For The Money” and although he didn’t feature on the Wingmen recordings, getting him on board for the live dates was an inspired choice, as the organ sound throughout the album is key. Former Price guitarist Leigh Heggarty has reignited Ruts DC with his blistering contributions to the “Music Must Destroy” album and the superb new release “CounterCulture”. It must have been an unenviable task to follow in the footsteps of the much-missed guitar genius that was Paul Fox, but Leigh has more than deservedly made the position in Ruts DC his own, along the way becoming one of the most respected go-to guitarists for discerning artists such as TV Smith and Alvin Gibbs among others. 

Then from a more personal point of view, Baz Warne ‘rescued’ The Stranglers for me. I’d fallen out of love with the band even before Hugh left and it wasn’t until Baz took over lead vocals and they reverted to the traditional four-piece line-up with the stunning “Suite XVI” album that I decided to go and see them live again. I went along to the Shepherds Bush Empire around the time of the LP’s release, the first time I’d seen them play since Hugh Cornwell’s last show at the Alexandra Palace. I was blown away, the band were on fire with a sound harking back to the snarling era of “The Raven”. That’s down in no small part to Baz’s contributions in re-energising, not only the fans, but obviously the band too. Now I’m as avid a fan as I was back in the day, as you can discover from my features in the new book “The Stranglers Live (Excerpts)”. Similarly, Paul Gray re-joining The Damned got me back into the band after I heard the brilliant “Rockfield Files” E.P. with Paul’s bass lifting the sound to another level, something that I’d personally missed for many years. In fact, I first saw Paul play live at my second ever gig, as a 16-year-old down the front of the Lyceum in London. It was 1981 and The Damned were supported by Black Flag on the “Black Album” tour - it had a huge impact on me and is pretty much still my favourite era of the band. “The Black Album” and its follow-up “Strawberries” along with arguably the best 7” four-song E.P. ever released, “Friday 13th”, still rank among my favourite Damned recordings. Again, no small thanks to Paul’s contribution, whether that be his ultra-cool stage presence or distinctive Rickenbacker bass sound, something that obviously, judging from tonight’s show, has hardly changed in the 40 something years since I first saw him play.

So, just how did Wingmen happen? Apparently, it was a product of the lockdown, something to keep them musically occupied in those dreadful times. Marty and Paul had played in a similar off-shoot, The Sensible Gray Cells with the Captain and they decided to get something going. Leigh was invited to join on guitar and as Ruts DC had toured and befriended The Stranglers over the years, he contacted Baz, who said yes. The album was initially recorded remotely, song files were shared, programmed drum machines kept the beat and Baz and Paul added keyboards. However, it wasn’t until the lockdown ended that all four could meet up and get together to work on the songs properly at Panther studios in Reigate with former Tenpole Tudor bassist Richard “Dick Crippen” Coppen producing. Marty drummed along to the recorded tracks and some brass instrumentation was added and that was it, the album was ready to go. But despite the lockdown and the remote nature of its inception “Wingmen” the album sounds like a proper band – and as they take the stage to the stirring strains of the “633 Squadron Theme” they look like a proper band too. They kick-off with the instrumental “Starting Blocks” and right from the get-go it’s clear there’s a definite chemistry between all the band members and it’s immediately infectious. The crowd respond and soon all secretly guilty thoughts and hopes that they might decide to play a ‘greatest hits’ set after all are forgotten entirely and you’re along for the ride. Stranglers fans will be used to Baz’s onstage banter and the good natured insults soon fly backwards and forwards between him and the audience. Luckily, tonight the PA sound is really good so you can appreciate everyone’s contributions - Paul’s intricate bass runs, Baz’s own underrated guitar work (I notice he has a very cool James Trussart custom guitar) and his superb voice - everything comes over just as it should and this allows the songs to shine. The “Wingmen” album is played in its entirety along with one song that didn’t make the cut entitled “Don’t Look Back”, co-written by producer Crippen this, to me at least, was the best song of the night. The good news is that it wasn’t left off the album ‘cos it didn’t make the grade, more of a case of it being held back for a future release, so watch this space for news. Anyway, they pepper the set with a choice of good-time cover versions from the somewhat predictable, but still hugely enjoyable raucous stabs at Bowie, T-Rex and Stooges songs to a more left-field take on Kraftwerk’s “The Model” which works in its own way as perfectly as Big Black’s version of the Germanic electro-classic.

OK, there are some nods to a couple of their ‘other’ bands after all, there’s the somewhat obscure Stranglers single release “Long Black Veil” taken from the “Norfolk Coast” album and a rousing singalong run through of Eddie & The Hot Rods classic “Do Anything You Wanna Do” which goes down a storm. Plus, they do cheekily slip in a quick blast of “Pumping On Your Stereo” by Supergrass - but that’s as far as it goes. Yes, it’s a brave move to pretty much fill your set with all new material that is probably unfamiliar to half the audience - but Wingmen manage to pull it off in some style. The pace doesn’t drop once, it’s a perfectly plotted set-list so your attention doesn’t wander. This is no mean feat, after all I’ve been to many gigs by long established bands where there are yawn-inducing sections of a live show - or the fearful announcement “and here’s some new songs for you” - which is usually followed by a mass exodus to the bar. Wingmen haven’t just gone down the bash-out-some-Punk-by-numbers route - the music is intelligent, well composed and has real depth to it. There are of course strains of recent Stranglers, Sensible Gray Cells and The Damned’s “Strawberries” album in parts and “Mary Go Round’s” half-spoken vocals remind me of Feline-era Stranglers. However, the bubbling organ at the start of the brilliant “Down In The Hole” conjures up the 60’s Garage Nuggets sound of The Music Machine and “I Would If I Could” has all the dynamics, not to mention the bass sound of The Who’s “Quadrophenia”. The powerful “Brits” has a kind of Mott The Hoople Glam swagger, with some stabbing piano and nice fretwork from Leigh and I’m reminded of the slide guitar powered Rock and Roll of former Soundtrack of Our Lives guitarist Ian Person’s recent solo material. “Brits” also has some wicked lyrics about our favourite pastime, moaning, and I’ll paraphrase here, “you complain if it’s hot or if it’s cold, if you’re young or old, you complain if it’s coffee or tea, but there’s no place on Earth you’d rather be”. Overall, it’s a timeless sound and the reference points are not as easy to pin down as you might think.

For more videos of the show please check out our Retro Man Blog YouTube Channel here

Another impressive thing is that Wingmen have gone for the jugular - making an album that’s politically and socially relevant today. As already mentioned, it’s a product of the lockdown and so there are scathing attacks on the disgraceful way the NHS has been let down, the debilitating effect of endless privatization profiting from people’s misfortunes and my favourite, the snarling Brexit-bashing “Oh! What A Carry On” which should be decreed the alternative National Anthem - it certainly has a far catchier chorus than that old “God Save The King” dirge. “Backstage At The Opera” takes a swipe at the “Me, Me, Me” selfishness of a lot of modern social media and so-called celebrity culture and Baz loses it spectacularly with a foul-mouthed rant that spins out of control as the song disintegrates. Brilliant! But don’t worry, the album certainly isn’t full of po-faced pontificating, it’s all done with a biting wit allied to great melodies that belie the sometime serious subject matter. Plus, there are also moments of pure comedy gold such as “Louie Smokes the Bible”, which proves once and for all that there can be uses for those Gideon Bibles left in hotel bed-side cabinets after all. Then, there are also much more personal and thought-provoking songs such as one of the album’s highlights, “Down In The Hole” which tackles the depression and the dark thoughts that I guess a lot of us suffered from during the lockdown at some point or other. Album closer “It’s Raining All Over England” is a beautifully bitter-sweet and melancholic number that still manages to drop in a nod to the old standard “Happy Days Are Here Again”. It’s a somewhat sobering end that has you wondering if the happy days are indeed back or is the rain over England just going to keep on coming relentlessly in 2023? All I know is, if Wingmen manage to navigate their busy schedules, take the time to bask in the acclaim that’s been showered on them during this tour and then, hopefully treat us to more of this superb music, then yes, I would say the happy days are definitely here again!

Why not join up with the ever-expanding Wingnuts army at the Facebook group here.

I must also mention the superb solo support set from Members frontman JC Carroll who was armed only with an acoustic guitar, a ready wit and a batch of wonderful songs that put us all in the perfect mood for Wingmen. Due to the early start unfortunately, JC’s set time was cut quite drastically but he still managed to entertain us in some style with memorable moments such as “Offshore Banking Business”, “Chelsea Nightclub”, “Solitary Confinement”, the more recent “Bedsitland” and of course, the classic “Sound of The Suburbs”. He also managed to squeeze in a bit of background to each of the songs before raising the roof with a raucous singalong of “Delilah”. You can check out our Retrosonic Podcast with JC in the archives here. Don't forget our thoroughly entertaining special episode with Leigh Heggarty too.