Sunday 24 April 2011

Len Price 3 Live at The Fiddler's Elbow London Saturday April 23rd

Glenn Page of The Len Price 3 - Photo by Steve Worrall
Well, I finally got round to seeing The Len Price 3 last night and, with many glowing reports from friends lucky enough to have caught them before, I was really looking forward to the show.  I can say that they exceeded all expectations, in fact I'd go so far as saying they were one of the best live bands I've seen in years.  The Fiddler's Elbow was the perfect venue to catch them, a great old style boozer decked out with gig posters and vinyl pinned up all over the walls.

The Len Price 3 Live at The Fiddler's Elbow London - Photo by Steve Worrall
The band looked dapper in their matching Breton tops, surrounded by Union Jacks and Mod Targets, perfectly suited for their high octane 60's influenced power pop classics. The harmonies lodge in your head, "Rentacrowd" and "After You've Gone" have choruses that you'll be singing to yourself for days.
The Len Price 3 Live at The Fiddler's Elbow - Photo by Steve Worrall
It's easy to see why Little Steven is a big fan with his love for garage rock, playing them on his Underground Garage radio show and signing them to his excellent Wicked Cool Record label. The band take the Nuggets garage psych sound also championed by their Medway compatriots Graham Day (of The Prisoners and The Gaolers) and Billy Childish, but they also inject the tuneful punky energy of Buzzcocks and The Jam along with their own cheeky humour.
The band take a well deserved breather - Photo by Steve Worrall
Singer Guitarist Glenn Page charges off the stage into the audience, climbing on tables, dispensing some superb riffs as he runs around making Wilko Johnson seem laid-back. Latest single "Mr Grey", a menacing "Comanche!" and my personal highlight "If I Ain't Got You", which Roky Erickson would have been proud to have written, were played with such unbridled joy and energy that the whole venue was filled with smiles. A faultless gig, well actually not quite, as they didn't comply with my screams for "Viva Viva", maybe next time,  and I guarantee there will be a next time as I am not going to miss them live in London again!
The Len Price 3 Live at The Fiddler's Elbow - Photo by Steve Worrall

Just a quick  P.S. to mention the great Support band The Past Tense, might sound a bit weird but although I enjoyed them a lot - unfortunately it wasn't until after the gig had finished and I checked out some of their tunes on Reverb Nation did I realize how much I'd enjoyed them! Anyway, I hope to catch them again and will review.

Thursday 21 April 2011

Tipp-Ex and Letraset: From a Fanzine to a Blog

I'm muddling through this Blog thing, as you might have guessed, and in the process of setting it up it took me back to the early to mid-80's when I used to put together a fanzine called "Out Of Step". I was in a band at the time and originally we thought doing a spin-off magazine might be a good way of promoting us whilst throwing in a few of our interests along the way. I got hooked on it and it grew from there to include reviews and interviews with other bands and general articles - swapping contacts and helping to promote other like-minded souls. I then started releasing cassettes of bands featured in the fanzine and it opened up a whole world of cooperation between bands and other fanzine editors, actually editor sounds a bit too grand..."makers" would probably be more appropriate. I was on a Youth Opportunities Program - funnily enough the Careers people didn't think I was being serious when they asked what I wanted to do and I replied "play bass like Jean Jacques Burnel" - and I used to sneak into the office after working hours with my letraset, tipp-ex, stapler, glue, a stack of photos and cuttings and position myself at the typewriter.

Even back then the technology was too much for me as most of the evening would then be spent kicking and un-jamming the laser printer or trying to work out the best way to get the double-sided copying to work, always a tricky feat. I would then take a carrier bag full of the finished fanzines to gigs and try and palm them off to people in the queue outside or approach likely looking suspects at the bar like some sort of punk rock Arthur Daley,  "pssst, do you wanna buy a fanzine? Only 20p guv". It used to work though, there was a big appetite for fanzines at the time, some bands would make a point of only speaking to fanzines as they "didn't trust The Press" or was it "The Man"? No, mainly it was "The System", so it might be the only chance you had to read an interview or catch up on a band's news.

Otherwise the fanzines would be sold at our own gigs or mail-order via adverts in the Melody Maker or mentions in other fanzines and it was always very satisfying when you received a letter from overseas such as Germany or Japan. Usually these didn't include the regulation SAE either so you'd be out of pocket straight away as the postage would be far more than the cost of the fanzine itself.  It certainly wasn't a profit making enterprise put it that way.

Although the technology may have changed enormously over the years, I can certainly see the similarity between today's Blog culture and that of the old-school fanzines of the early 80's, when I first brandished my Tipp-Ex and Letraset.

Wednesday 20 April 2011

The Soundtrack of Our Lives - New 7" Vinyl Ltd Edition

The Soundtrack of Our Lives - The Point of No Return 7" Single
French record label Longfellow Deeds have released a limited edition 7" vinyl single of the previously unavailable track "Point of No Return" b/w "Second Life Replay" (live) - this was to commemorate Record Store Day and was available at the band's In-Store appearances in Paris and London last Saturday.

Here's a link to Longfellow Deeds they might even have some copies of the 7" Vinyl version of the "Immaculate Convergence" E.P. in stock too.

Tuesday 19 April 2011

The Len Price 3 at The Fiddler's Elbow London Saturday April 23rd

I'm looking forward to catching The Len Price 3 for the first time on Saturday, I love their albums and heard great things about their shows. They are part of the so-called Medway Delta scene, home to garage rock legends Graham Day and Billy Childish and play catchy, no-nonsense 3 minute nuggets.

Here's a taster...

Little Steven is a confirmed fan, featuring the band on his Underground Garage radio show and Wicked Cool Record label - here's a link to the band's web-site for more info,  I'll report back after the show.

The Soundtrack of Our Lives London Record Store Day April 16th Part 2 - 93 Feet East

The Soundtrack of Our Lives at 93 Feet East - Photo by Steve Worrall

After the set at Rough Trade East the band make the short journey (it's just across the road...) to 93 Feet East via a swift pint at the Pride of Spitalfields. Ebbot takes up the guitar again and this time it's far more effective especially on "Just A Brother". A short set follows including a jazzy run through of "Galaxy Gramophone", "The Passover", the 'unofficial Swedish National Anthem' "Instant Repeater '99" and my personal highlight "All For Sale".

The Soundtrack of Our Lives at 93 Feet East - Photo by Steve Worrall

Ebbot Lundberg at 93 Feet East - Photo by Steve Worrall

The Soundtrack of Our Lives at 93 Feet East - Photo by Steve Worrall

The Soundtrack of Our Lives London Record Store Day April 16th Part 1 - Rough Trade East

The Soundtrack of Our Lives at Rough Trade East - Photo by Steve Worrall
The Soundtrack of Our Lives, well half of them anyway, appeared at Rough Trade East as part of the Record Store Day extravaganza.  I wasn't sure how it would come across when I heard that the line-up would not include any guitars - just singer Ebbot Lundberg, keyboard player Martin Hederos and drummer Fredrik Sandsten - but it really worked. Might have been a bit strange for the first timer to the live Soundtrack experience as they are usually all action on stage, guitarists wind-milling and leaping about, but the stripped down, occasionally jazzy versions of some of their classics were a joy to hear.

The Soundtrack of Our Lives at Rough Trade East - Photo by Steve Worrall
Ebbot did attempt to play along with an acoustic guitar but after technical problems - why Rough Trade only had one working guitar lead is beyond me - pretty much gave up, concentrated on singing and let Martin's superb keyboards and Fredrik's drums lead the way.

Starting off with a cover of "Hurt", they also played some Soundtrack classics such as "Jehova Sunrise" and a fantastic version of "Mantra Slider" and thew in a unusual take on The Stooges "Sick Of You".

Ebbot Lundberg at Rough Trade East - Photo by Steve Worrall

Friday 15 April 2011

Paul Slattery Rock Photography Masterclass British Music Experience, O2 Centre Greenwich

I attended a very interesting master class on Rock Photography by the legendary music photographer Paul Slattery at the British Music Experience at the O2 Centre recently. It was highly entertaining for the packed out crowd, a varied mix of photography professionals, students and music fans, some like me who could barely tell their f-stop from their e-chord.

Paul Slattery (left) at the British Music Experience - Photo by Steve Worrall
Paul started by discussing how he got started in a career that would go on to include jobs at the NME and Sounds, along with numerous book, magazine and album cover work. At first his approach to music photography was more energetic persistence than technical skill, something that he would later learn from experience and studies as he went along. Going along to gigs as a fan with a camera, getting down the front, taking some superb action shots, he would then take prints along to show the bands at later concerts. 

Paul Slattery in front of Dee Dee Ramone - Photo by Steve Worrall
We learned how through this approach he managed to get close to bands; this was of course before the age of the ridiculous brick wall of PR’s and Managers that would make this method very difficult today. He developed a knack of photographing bands in the very early stages of sometimes very long and/or successful careers and took amongst the very first shots of Joy Divison, U2 and The Fall.
Paul told us how he seemed to hit it off with a lot of his subjects, gaining that all-important trust that would enable him to get up close and lead to relaxed and intimate  off-stage photos. He mentioned how he became a good drinking buddy of Lemmy from Motorhead, who had a big influence on Paul’s love of the Rock & Roll lifestyle. 

More iconic shots followed - The Smiths in Paris and Manchester, Joe Strummer and The Clash, Bon Scott, Bob Marley, Ramones on a rainy Belfast street, “They were terrified” Paul said “these leather clad rockers from tough New York scared of going out on the street in Northern Ireland”. In fact Paul talked almost as much about his love of raw Rock & Roll than he did about photography, even providing his own playlist soundtrack to the slideshow! You could feel the influence of the music itself on his photography though and he showed some of his best examples of shots of his hero Link Wray, his favourite band The Gun Club, and the blurred strumming hand of Johnny Ramone.
Wilko Johnson looks down on Paul Slattery at the British Music Experience - Photo by Steve Worrall
Someone in the audience asked how he got to know Oasis and he explained that he had a tip-off from someone at the studio where the band were recording their first demo. Crate of beer duly bought, Paul went along to the studio and his alcoholic offering was the catalyst for a close relationship with the band, culminating with an invitation to join the band on their first tour of Japan.

So, a very different and inspiring night out indeed, maybe not so much if you wanted to learn about exposures and the technical side of photography, but certainly from an artistic “get out there and give it a go, take as many photos as you can” point of view.

Paul had two excellent books on sale “The Smiths: The Early Years”, and “Oasis: A Year on The Road” – I suppose if there are still good bookshops around these days they will be available there. Otherwise the old internet will provide.

Music Photo Archive #1 - Wilko Johnson, Word Magazine night, London Islington Lexington Feb 01st 2011

Wilko Johnson & Norman Watt-Roy, Islington February 2011 - Photo by Steve Worrall

It's not out of focus, he really does look like that! - Wilko Johnson, Islington 2011 - Photo by Steve Worrall 

Wilko Johnson & Norman Watt-Roy, Islington February 2011 - Photo by Steve Worrall
Wilko Johnson & Dylan Howe, Islington February 2011 - Photo by Steve Worrall

Thursday 14 April 2011

Soundtrack back to Slussens - May 20th & 21st 2011

The Soundtrack of Our Lives at Slussens Pensionat in 2010 - Photo by Steve Worrall

The Soundtrack of Our Lives return to Slussens Pensionat, Henån on Orust for their regular intimate, laid-back semi-acoustic specials in May.  Mind you, when I say "laid-back" I am talking about a band that live are generally more energetic than the The Who and The Clash put together.  

The shows at Slussens usually do start off in a very genteel manner though, people enjoying a wonderful dinner in the beautiful Pensionat, overlooking the water. The band come on and play through acoustic versions of some of the many hidden gems from their back catalogue, there is enthusiastic yet polite applause and warm banter. However, the band are famously hyper-active and the urge to rock-out slowly takes over as the set progresses and the atmosphere builds to a crazy, drunken finale.

This year they'll play through the whole first album "Welcome To The Infant Freebase" on May 20th and then the second, "Extended Revelations..." on May 21st.  Apparently, they may extend the dates to play all the albums but this is yet to be confirmed.

"It starts off in very genteel manner..." The Soundtrack of Our Lives at Slussens Pensionat in 2010
 - Photo by Steve Worrall

Big Audio Dynamite - London Shepherd's Bush Empire April 03rd

Big Audio Dynamite - Photo by Steve Worrall
Great to see B.A.D. so happy to be back playing live again, they seemed to be enjoying themselves as much as the audience. There is talk of them working on new material but the gig thankfully consisted purely of "old" - a run through of all their classics with the undoubted highlight being an extremely powerful "C'mon Every Beatbox". Joe Strummer's widow was in attendance, and seeing her reminded me that B.A.D. were what The Clash could have become with their eclectic mix of reggae, rock and roll, hip-hop and samples.  When the band played "Beyond The Pale" and "V13" this became more apparent , as they were amongst material co-written with Joe and were real stand-outs.  I remember once hoping that Joe would become a fully paid up member - that would have been something really special.
I am not sure how this re-union will affect Mick's other side project Carbon/Silicon as the look on the band's faces as they basked in the applause and affection at the end hinted that they this is not going to be a quick come back for a bit of cash. Let's hope they stick around a bit longer and appreciate the credit due to them.

Tuesday 12 April 2011

The Soundtrack of Our Lives April 16th Record Store Day

Swedish Psychedelic Rockers The Soundtrack of Our Lives will play an in-store acoustic set at Rough Trade East in London on Saturday April 16th followed by an appearance at the nearby 93 Feet East.

Looks like only Ebbot, Fredrik and Martin are coming over, which means there are NO guitars, so it will interesting to see how this works out.

Hopefully they will be back in the U.K. soon with the full band to promote the new "Golden Greats" best of compilation.