Wednesday 29 August 2012

Wilko Johnson "Looking Back At Me" with Zoë Howe

Cadiz Music, the producers of Julien Temple's excellent Dr. Feelgood documentary "Oil City Confidential" have published a beautifully presented new book "Looking Back At Me"This is the fascinating and visually stunning autobiography of former Dr. Feelgood guitarist, Wilko Johnson. Written in collaboration  with acclaimed music writer Zoë Howe, Wilko tells his own story in short sharp bursts, reminiscent of his unique and wildly energetic guitar style. Of course Canvey Island plays a large part in the story, from his upbringing - "I was born below sea level" - to the devastating floods of 1953 and his difficult relationship with his father. When Dr. Feelgood started out, they deliberately cultivated the "myth" of Canvey, turning the rather desolate and rough Island, with it's smoke-billowing oil refineries, into the altogether more romantic and Bluesy sounding, Thames Delta. Wilko then goes off on a hippy Indian odyssey, and he takes us through some amusing experiences on his rather drug-addled journey. Returning home and vowing to lead a "normal" life, there are musings on his spell as an English teacher and Zoë has unearthed an affectionate poem from some of his pupils, along with numerous school reports and photographs. Then of course we get to the wild, turbulent days of Dr. Feelgood and Ian Dury and The Blockheads, to his superb current band featuring Norman Watt-Roy (bass) and Dylan Howe (drums). 

Wilko in his element - Photo by David Coombes
There is a searing honesty in his recollections on the sad demise of Dr. Feelgood. Wilko admits that, although he and once close friend Lee Brilleaux hated each other with a vengeance towards the end, he couldn't actually pin-point the reason that sparked the animosity in the first place. There is a sense of melancholy and regret seeping through the pages when he looks back on this period and how he never made his peace with Lee before he passed away. However, Wilko is a man of many interests, and there are chapters devoted to his passion for astronomy, art, literature, clouds, poetry, sci-fi, and Shakespeare, not forgetting his acting in the sci-fi drama "Game Of Thrones". "Looking Back At Me" features anecdotes from notable Wilko fans, including Robert Plant, Alison Moyet, ex-flat mate JJ Burnel, and Keith Levene, amongst others. There are also many previously unseen images of Wilko from throughout his life, copies of handwritten lyrics, tour passes, paintings, posters and lots of memorabilia all brilliantly compiled by Zoë, making this the ultimate dream of a book for any Dr. Feelgood and Wilko Johnson fan.  

Wilko - Photo by Jerry Tremaine
Zoë Howe is a music writer whose books include the acclaimed biography "Typical Girls", The Story Of The Slits and "How's Your Dad? Living In The Shadow of a Rock Star Parent", both published by Omnibus Press, and her writing has appeared in The Quietus, NME, BBC Music, Channel 4 Music, Contemporary Magazine, Company and others. In addition to writing she has made music radio series for Resonance FM and RTI, and has appeared as a pundit on Absolute Radio, BBC 6 Music, E4 and Planet Rock. Zoë is also a drummer and has worked with Viv Albertine (The Slits), Anne Pigalle, Mick Jones, and Steve Beresford. Zoë's next book is the biography of Florence & The Machine called "An Almighty Sound", also to be published by Omnibus.

You can order "Looking Back At Me" along with the DVD of Julien Temple's superb Dr. Feelgood movie, "Oil City Confidential", directly from Cadiz Music. Read about our little Dr. Feelgood' Southend and Canvey Island excursion, inspired by the movie, on the Blog here. The book also features some very early Dr. Feelgood photos taken by Retro Man Blog contributor, Rock Photographer, Paul Slattery. You can listen to Paul talking about the impact of seeing Dr. Feelgood had on him and his music photography, in our special edition of the Retrosonic Podcast.

Tuesday 28 August 2012

Retro Man Blog featured in The Guardian!

The Guardian picked out Retro Man Blog for inclusion in their "Blog Jam" series yesterday, which was a very nice surprise. I had to answer a questionnaire, and managed to get in a few plugs along the way, including Retrosonic Podcast, Rock Photographer and Blog contributor, Paul Slattery and some of our favourite acts, such as The Soundtrack of Our Lives, The Priscillas, TV Smith. My choice of song of the day went to The Len Price 3 with "Rentacrowd", and they posted up the video for that too. Hopefully that, along with the Blog screen-shot they used, can only be good publicity for our gig with The Len Price 3 at The Half Moon in Putney on December 07th.

Blog Jam is a twice-weekly series where The Guardian invite independent bloggers to tell them about what they do and you can see the full feature here. Thanks to Adam Boult at The Guardian.

Sunday 26 August 2012

The Len Price 3 - The Medway based Garage Popsters at work on long-awaited fourth album

The Len Price 3 by Steve Worrall
Retro Man Blog's favourite Medway Delta garage popsters, The Len Price 3, are currently in the studio writing and recording tracks for their long awaited, as yet untitled, fourth album. This will follow the critically acclaimed albums "Chinese Burn", "Rentacrowd" and 2009's "Pictures", which featured the classic single "Mr. Grey". Retro Man Blog was granted exclusive access to a session at Rochester's world famous Ranscombe Studios. So, myself and photographer Paul Slattery took a little trip to the Medway, home of so many Garage Rock greats such as Billy Childish and Graham Day. We were privilleged to hear some new songs and can certainly testify to the strength of the material, in other words, this new album is going to be a belter! The band have already premiered some of the songs at gigs this year, including "No Escape", "Praying Mantis" and "Words Won't Come". Some other working titles of songs we heard included "Wigmore Swingers", "London Institute", "Karaoke Man" and "Billy Mason". All of them were tremendous songs, but whether these make it on to the album we are yet to find out.

The Len Price 3 will play the Gambeat Festival in Barcelona on September 14th, and our Retro Man Blog Xmas Special at The Half Moon in Putney on December 07th, along with The Past Tense, The Fallen Leaves and The Legendary Grooveymen. Tickets for this show are at Santa's bargain give-away price of £6.00 if booked in advance. Be sure to book now to avoid disappointment!

Thanks to Glenn, Neil and Steve of The Len Price 3, and Jim Riley and Brendan Eamonde at Ranscombe Studios. Here are some photos of our day spent at the Studio.

Drummer Neil in action - Photo by Steve Worrall
Glenn hard at work on lyrics - Photo by Steve Worrall
Glenn and Neil thrash it out - Photo by Steve Worrall
Neil discusses the sound with Jim Riley - Photo by Steve Worrall
The band appreciate Jim's sense of humour - Photo by Steve Worrall
Glenn tries some new riffs - Photo by Steve Worrall
Photographer Paul Slattery & Neil - by Steve Worrall
Here's a video of one of the excellent new tracks, "No Escape", filmed during the band's appearance at the last Retro Man Blog night at The Half Moon. For more exclusive videos of The Len Price 3 please visit the Retro Man Blog YouTube Channel.

You can see some of Paul Slattery's photos by "Liking" the band's Facebook page.

Wednesday 22 August 2012

Urban Dogs "Bonefield" - New acoustic album from Charlie Harper & Knox + Charlie's Harbour Rats

Back in November last year, at Gaye Advert's excellent "Punk & Beyond" Art Exhibition, I watched Charlie Harper from the UK Subs and Knox, the ex-Vibrators front-man, play a rousing Acoustic Set to a packed out Signal gallery.  Little did I realise back then that this interesting concept would later materialise as the superb new album entitled "Bonefield".  So, back together as The Urban Dogs, this brand new release features a mix of new songs, cover versions and old UK Subs, Vibrators and Urban Dogs classics.  Recorded over a two year period, Charlie jokes that it's a "...bare bones production", but one that betrays a lightness of touch and intricate musicianship that shines through on this selection of classic material.

The CD features a cover painting by Knox himself, and Charlie Harper adds exclusive liner notes on each of the album's songs in the 8 page full colour booklet. Retro Man Blog contributor and world famous Rock Photographer, Paul Slattery, also has lots of excellent pictures of Knox and Charlie included in the booklet. This is especially pleasing, as Paul took many of the UK Subs very early photographs, including the individual portraits of the band that can be seen on the back of the iconic "Warhead" single cover. One of Paul's classic early live photos was also used on the mammoth 1996 Double CD 46-track compilation "Original Punks Original Hits".

Charlie & Knox at Signal Gallery - Photo Paul Slattery
Talking of "Warhead", that's the track that kicks off "Bonefield", and at first it's pretty strange not to hear Paul Slack's iconic bass-line. However, it's very refreshing to hear their acoustic version of a familiar and much-loved classic. This works extremeley well throughout with their takes of their own back-catalogue. For example The Urban Dogs' "New Barbarians", The Vibrators' "Dragnet" and the Subs' "Tomorrow's Girls", which Charlie admits in his liner notes was originally written and played acoustically. There are superb covers of Arlo Guthrie's "Hobo Lullaby", Hank Williams "Move It On Over" and The Reverend Gary Davies' "Cocaine" along with Gershwin's American classic, "Summertime". The protest songs, "War Baby" and "Not In My Name", which was written during the recording of the album, add a air of gravitas to the material with their strong Anti-War sentiments. But overall there is an uplifting and positive theme throughout "Bonefield", which you don't often find on acoustic albums. Not forgetting the nice sense of humour too, which is apparent on Knox's spoken word "Swamp Dog Blues", on which bass and drums make an appearance to drive along a potted history of the duo, from the Queen's Coronation in 1953, when "Charlie and Knox are still wearing short trousers", to the beginning of the Punk Rock explosion. Along the way, we learn that at Xmas 1959 Knox had a choice between a guitar or a crossbow, and well, the rest is history! So, an excellent album indeed, and I can thoroughly recommended "Bonefield". Considering they pull this off using acoustic guitars, with only the odd burst of harmonica and electric guitar, drums and bass here and there, it's testament to their song-writing and respect and feel for the songs they chose to cover.

It's also great to see that the album has been released on Time & Matter Records, which is an offspring of the immense UK Subs official archive web-site, Time & Matter. In fact, the web-site was almost destroyed by a computer virus, but luckily Mark Chadderton, Rob Cook and their team, managed to salvage the archive and it is thankfully back on-line and certainly well worth checking out. I'm sure any fan of the UK Subs will find it a remarkable collection of memorabilia, reviews, photos, news and there are even Blogs and Tour Diaries by current and ex-members of the band. In fact it should be held up as the benchmark for all band's web-sites in general, a labour of love run by real fans for other fans.

Charlie also has another acoustic side-project called "Charlie's Harbour Rats". This is a folky line-up featuring original UK Subs Drummer, Pete Davies, who always sticks in my mind for his brightly dyed hair on those early Subs' Top Of The Pops appearances back in my youth. They've released a single on Punkerama Records, available as limited edition Vinyl Picture Disc only, featuring "Rollin' In My Sweet Baby's Arms" and "The Cuckoo". The full line-up of the band is Charlie on vocals and acoustic guitar, Pete Davies on drums and vocals, Sally Hunter on violin, Bernie Elliott on mandolin, Chris Tombs on upright bass and Jewls Ashton on pennywhistle. The single may have sold out already, but keep and eye-out for more news.

Tuesday 21 August 2012

Trolley "Things That Shine and Glow" - New album with a new take on Classic Power Pop

I always appreciate it when a band takes the time to check out the Blog properly and get a feel for what it is about, before cramming the in-box with promotional stuff. So, it was nice to hear from Milwaukee based band, Trolley, who had seen my recent feature on The Soundtrack of Our Lives in a recent issue of Shindig! magazine and had done a bit of research before getting in touch. So here's a bit of background information from the band first of all, and then I'll resurface at the other end with a look at their brand new album. "Trolley connects the creativity of the 60's with the energy of now. Since 1995, Trolley have released a series of albums built from the best elements of Psychedelia and Punk, classic Pop and the hard driving beat of The Mod era. Their new album "Things That Shine and Glow" (Easter Records) continues the tradition of mining gold from the past and shaping it into a set of timeless original songs. The band has gotten around, playing South by Southwest and North By Northeast, Summerfest and International Pop Overthrow. They have also opened for The Jayhawks, Cotton Mather and Los Straightjackets and has risen to the forefront of the Power Pop movement without being confined by it. Bouyed by classic melodies from all its members, Trolley's songs are seldom less than memorable.

"Things That Shine and Glow" moves the legacy of great albums by The Kinks and The Zombies into the 21st Century. The rich sonic tapestry is woven around the solid musicianship of Patrick Morrow (drums), Terry Hackbarth (vocals and bass), Mike Perotto and Paul James Wall (both on vocals and guitars). Trolley is a loud and glorious reminder that two guitars, bass and drums can still be a formidable line-up for great music."

The album has already received great notices in "Shindig!", "The Big Take Over" and "The Onion", where they mentioned comparisons such as Big Star, The Zombies, The Seeds and The Kinks. All the reviews are indeed stuffed full of "glowing" praise. "Things That Shine and Glow" could pretty much be my review of the album in one title, these songs do indeed shine and glow. The opening track "I Woke Up" is a cracker, with a great riff and nice powerful rhythm guitar underneath. In fact the band are much tougher musically than I was expecting, with all the reviews noting bands such as The Zombies and The Byrds, I was expecting a more folky influenced sound, but they also have a bit of muscle behind them, a nice Garage Punk feel lurks underneath their harmonies. "My Obsession", unexpectedly reminds me of early Elvis Costello & The Attractions for some reason, it's full of melodic hooks. "The Calico Cat" is a good rocking number and is followed by the excellent "Summer Long", which again throws a different slant on the band's sound. A fuzzed up bass and keyboard buzzes away, with an almost Stranglers-like menace. "In The End" has a beautiful Beatles style chorus and chiming guitars and is more in the traditional Power Pop vein. "Out Of Love" is a blissed out swinging summer song led by a simple piano riff and this is followed by the powerful chords of "Ocean Sounds". The good thing with Trolley, is that yes, it is easy to pick out influences, but they have thrown me with their individual take on the genre, it's refreshing. The sort of influences that spring to my mind are not so predictable, but bands such as The Go-Betweens and The Muttonbirds, bands dealing with a melodic guitar pop, that are just impossible to categorise easily.

It's a fourteen track album, and I'm almost expecting a lull in proceedings, but no, luckily each song seems to build impressively on the last one. "'Til I'm Gone", sounds like the perfect single, packed full of backing vocal melodies, it could have made an ideal album opener. "I Can't Hide" changes tack again to an atmospheric number, with the feel of a Spy movie soundtrack. The Punky riffing of "She's The Kind Of Girl" lifts the tone and I can imagine this sounding pretty damn good live. "Vanity's Song" has a memorable chorus and an authentic Sixties feel to it and the title track is a mellow but uplifting song. "That Made Me Wanting You" has a great late Seventies New Wave feel but ends off with a nice little Psychedelic twist. Closing number "Love The Way You Look" is a mellow but warm ending, it's a very satisfying way to bring this superb album to a close. In fact I'd say that "Things That Shine and Glow" is one of the best albums I've heard so far this year. In these days of easy downloads of a track here and an MP3 there, it's certainly a pleasure to listen to a whole album from start to finish and it feeling like a perfectly crafted work.

I noticed there was another Trolley album on eMusic called "Head Vs. Heart" and I am really enjoying the first half of that too, especially the brilliant song, "Record Store". Not that there's anything wrong with the second half, I just haven't heard it yet as my monthly subscription ran out half way through...Anyway, I shall eagerly await my next months' refresher as I am keen to complete the album and discover more of Trolley's quality music.

You can buy the album "Things That Shine and Glow" directly from the band's official web-site.

In The meantime, here's a video for the albums' great opening number entitled "I Woke Up":

Monday 20 August 2012

The Priscillas - Live at the Buffalo Bar London August 17th

Jen & Suza of The Priscillas - Photo by Steve Worrall
Considering I've liked The Priscillas for some time now, for various reasons of bad luck and timing, I only got round to seeing them live for the very first time last month. That was as support to Rat Scabies, Brian James & Texas Terri at the Retro Venue, which you can read about here. Then, as the old cliche goes, you wait for ages for a Priscillas gig to arrive and then two come along...yeah yeah. So, last Friday I got the chance to finally see the band headline at The Buffalo Bar, next to Highbury and Islington station. The Buffalo Bar was a great little basement venue, a nice dimly lit atmosphere with a pretty decent, well mixed sound system. The Priscillas kicked off with "Rip Up Your Photograph" and then treated us to a faultless set of their infectious bubble-gum Punk Rock & Roll. They are a band who immediately make you smile and sing along, with their catchy backing vocal harmonies and choruses.

Jen of The Priscillas - Photo by Steve Worrall
I think vocalist Jen is a fantastic presence up front, maybe it's because a lot of bands I see recently seem to have three-piece line-ups, it just makes a noticeable and refreshing change to see a singer freed from not having to play an instrument and to have the opportunity, and the charisma, to "work the stage"! Although Jen, and guitarist Guri, are often to be found off the stage amongst the audience at various times of the set. They are a tight rocking unit, and again bassist Suza and drummer Stu provide the solid foundation for guitarist Guri and Jen throughout. Unfortunately, Stu is leaving the band and the band are looking to replace him with a female drummer so they can revert to their all-girl line-up. They play a couple of songs I hadn't heard before, one of which was called "Where's Lydia?" which was a fun call-and-response number. The more familiar songs still sound great, "All Of My Friends Are Zombies" and "Holloway" are top notch garage-pop nuggets, but it's "Superhero" that sums it all up for me, a brilliant track, one of those perfectly formed singles that deserves to have been a huge hit.

(L/R) Guri, Jen, Stu and Suza - Photo by Steve Worrall
So, another great gig from the band and I hope another one comes rolling along pretty soon. In fact the only negative of the evening (apart from them not having any merchandise!) was the rather sparse crowd. Those that were there had a fantastic time, but I am sometimes a bit non-plussed at the lack of support for live music, especially for such a fantastic live act such as The Priscillas. So, please do yourself a favour and get out to support hard-working bands such as The Priscillas, The Past Tense, The Jetsonics, The Len Price 3, to name a few. It's not easy for bands to get venues and promoters on side these days, especially without big record company backing, and most bands are managing themselves too. So if you think you can help get The Priscillas a gig please get in touch, maybe you're a Promoter, own a venue or run a Club night, if you are in a band or even if you can just recommend a good local venue, then it all helps. Often the only rewards for bands these days are just the chance to sell some CDs and T-Shirts but, I think the most import reward is a great reaction from a happy crowd that has had a thoroughly entertaining and fun evening, just as we all did at the Buffalo Bar last Friday!

All Photos Copyright Steve Worrall Retro Man Blog 2012
Here's a video I shot of the opening number, the superb "Rip Up Your Photograph". You can see more exclusive videos of The Priscillas, and many more, at the Retro Man Blog YouTube Channel.


And finally, don't forget their excellent album "10,000 Volts", which is available to order now from iTunes, Amazon and of course, the band's own Store on their official web-site.

The Rise & Fall Of The Clash: Premiere at Portobello POP Up Cinema - Report by Susan Bell, Photos by Beki Cowey

Danny Garcia's new documentary movie "The Rise and Fall Of The Clash", had its' UK premiere at Portobello POP Up cinema on August 15th. Directed by Clash fan Garcia, the film charts, not only the well documented years as one of the guiding lights of the Punk scene, but also the rather unseemly and disappointing end to the band's existence. Although Mick Jones is the only original member interviewed, lots of familiar faces from the Clash's supporting cast are present - from Terry Chimes, Tymon Dogg and Pearl Harbour to Vince White, Nick Sheppard and Pete Howard, who were all members of that often "air-brushed-out" Post-Mick Clash line-up. Susan Bell was at the movie's Premiere and she has kindly contributed the following review for Retro Man Blog.

"I turned up early, around 6, to make sure I was able to get into the event as I was not on the guest list. Outside the venue were die-hard fans of The Clash all doing the same as me, wanting to be sure to get into this new documentary film, which included the final chapters of this iconic band. We got into the venue which had a bar, a nice setting to be watching a film and being able to enjoy it with a fine tipple of wine or a tin of beer...most were on the tins of beer! I had a good look around and saw a lot of the old Punk Rockers floating about along with Journos and, of course, Don Letts and some other familiar faces such as Tony James, Paul Cook, Glen Matlock, Leo Williams and Norman Watt-Roy. No Paul Simonon, Mick Jones or Terry Chimes around though.

The seating was only a capacity of 100, but having said that, it turned out to be oversold and 300 or so turned up, 200 were let in and the rest turned away. The lights go down, the excitement builds up, and there's a very excited crowd of old Punks waiting to see this new take on The Clash story. It demonstrates all the business from the inside, a take on what the manager, Bernie Rhodes, was doing to manipulate the band members and how vulnerable Joe Strummer was at the time towards the demise of the band. It shows Mick becoming interested in all the finer things that money and success can bring. He was showing up late to all the gigs and the band were not happy with this change of events. In fact Mick was only ever early on the day he was sacked from the band. We discover, with their very different backgrounds, that there was a class divide between Mick and Joe. Topper Headon was sacked after his big problems with hard drugs. They get in Terry Chimes again, who wasn't as good as Topper to neither fans of the band or his band members, he just didn't have the same energy or technique.

The band were increasingly separated by problems between Mick and Joe, with Paul becoming the go-between. The documentary flashes between film footage with great interviews of the people who worked behind the scenes, like their Tour Manager, who the audience found very funny with his input at times. It has some really defining moments with some shockingly horrific band member changes towards the end. Bernie actually had them dressing the same way, and even tried to look for a new singer once the band had officially broken up and despite Joe asking the last remaining members not to continue. The footage was very interesting and had snippets from The Clash films "Rude Boy" and "Hell W10". Overall, the film was informative and well written and I would definitely recommend taking yourself off to see this film, I give it a 10 out of 10. I have never written a review before so I hope I have given anyone who reads this some sort of idea of the film. Danny Garcia, thank you very much for this brilliant film on The Clash, I am sure they would agree with how you told the story". - Susan Bell

All photographs courtesy Beki Cowey. You can check out more of Beki's excellent photos on her site Beki Takes Pictures. For any commercial enquiries you can contact Beki by email

Director Danny Garcia & Journalist Chris Salewicz
DJ Scratchy Sounds (L) & Vive Le Rock's Eugene Butcher (Centre)
All Photos Beki Cowey
All images are strictly © Beki Cowey / Bekitakespictures (2012), further use is not permitted without prior consent, and unauthorised use in any media is prohibited.

With many thanks to Susan Bell, Danny Garcia and Beki Cowey.

Friday 17 August 2012

The DeRellas "Stick It To The Man" new single out now!

The Glam Stompin' Punk Rock & Roll band, The DeRellas, have just released a brand new single entitled "Stick It To The Man. It's released by Crushworld/Dirty Water Records and is available on super cool seven inch vinyl and Digital Download from their official Store. The band also have a full length album out called "Hollywood Monsters" and another seven inch, this time on red vinyl, called "She Kissed The Gun".

The DeRellas have been described as sounding like "...a rocket-fuelled New York Dolls" by Classic Rock magazine and "Reprobate Rock 'n' Roll with an amphetamine snarl of The Damned" by Big Cheese magazine. With comparisons to Ramones, D-Generation and 70's Glam Rockers such as Slade and The Sweet, The DeRellas are certainly a band we, here at Retro Man Blog, will be keeping an eye on. They have been confirmed as tour support to the legendary Fleshtones in early December, which suggests the prospect of some pretty wild shows! Can't wait for the London gig at The Diry Water Club on December 08th, we'll be sure to report back on that.  

Photo courtesy Timmy DeRella

Thursday 16 August 2012

The Rezillos to release a new live version of "Top Of The Pops" on coloured vinyl.

On August 20th, the fabulous Rezillos will release a brand new live version of their classic 1978 single "Top Of The Pops". It's released by Threads Of Sound/Rezillos Records and there is a choice of 7 Inch Single on Red or Clear vinyl, featuring two live tracks, "Top Of The Pops" and "Yesterday's Tormentor". The CD has the same two songs plus the bonus live track, "Bad Guy Reaction". You can pre-order via the "Just Add Music" site, and while you're there you can also pick up a copy of the amazing "come-back" single "Out Of This World"

I rated The Rezillos gig at The Camden Underworld last December as one of my best of 2011, and you can still check out the feature, including some of my photographs and videos, on the Blog HERE. As I mentioned in the review, the new material played that night was really great, the new songs slotted in perfectly amongst all their old classics, so I sincerely hope that this release is a quick fix before a brand new album is unleashed. The band really are on top form at the moment, so please keep an eye on their tour dates and if they play near you, make sure you don't miss out on the fun.

Tuesday 14 August 2012

TV Smith "Tales of The Emergency Sandwich" Part 3 of The Punk Rock Tour Diaries

TV Smith has just released Part 3 of his Punk Rock Tour Diaries this time entitled "Tales Of The Emergency Sandwich". It's out now and you can order copies direct from his web-site Store. TV Smith was the founder member and lead singer for The Adverts, who, in 1977, shot briefly to fame with their punk rock hit "Gary Gilmore's Eyes". Then the band broke up, the fame was gone and where to go next? The first book in this excellent series, "Getting There", dealt with this. Not knowing what to expect, TV set out on a series of unpublicised, low budget solo tours through Europe, and in this book he recounts the life-affirming and frequently hilarious experiences of what it's really like to be on the road, destination unknown. Along the way we encounter Attila The Stockbroker, Tom Robinson, Die Toten Hosen, Punk Lurex OK, Santa Claus, Henry Rollins, Garden Gang, The UK Subs, Sid Vicious (the dog)...and a cast of thousands!

The second volume of the Tour Diaries, "How To Feel Human", sees our hero armed only with a guitar, a suitcase and an emergency sandwich, as he continues his journey around the world as a solo troubadour for the punk generation. We travel with him as he discovers America, reveals the mystery of the Frankfurt green sauce, and finds out what happens when squirrels take crack and a duck flies in. Be by his side as he witnesses the construction of the 'Totem To Those Who See Beyond' and the epic battle of B Bang Cider versus the flying ants. Without leaving the comfort of your own home you too can be stranded in a forest in Finland, lose all your belongings in the Czech Republic, learn how to play swamp football, how to survive a fall from a three-storey building, and - most importantly - how to feel human!

You can listen to our Retrosonic Podcast special edition with TV Smith, where he discusses the books and his career from his very first Glam Prog band Sleaze playing church hall gigs on the edge of Dartmoor, to The Adverts and playing the Roxy and Top Of The Tops. We discuss The underated Explorers and his back-to-basics rock band Cheap, right through to his superb solo albums and current postion as a hugely respected solo live performer. The Podcast includes an exclusive four song session recorded in the Retrsosonic HQ, and you can discover our very own emergency sandwich recipe that even TV would have refused to eat!


The TV Smith Special Edition Podcast is available as a free download from our Soundcloud site.

Retrosonic Podcast Contemporary Mod Scene Special Editions

We have now released two new Special Editions of the Retrosonic Podcast, both looking at the contemporary Mod Scene. While I was promoting my first Retro Man Blog gig for The Len Price 3, The Past Tense and The Jetsonics, I was blown away, not only by the network of web-sites, radio shows and club nights, but mainly the amount of great bands out there who have been influenced by Mod. Admittedly most of the young bands are taking their cue from Britpop and Paul Weller, and as Hipster Lee from Royale Records told me in our recent interview, he hopes that these bands do delve back further into the musical history of Mod and see what a diverse movement it was. I think if you look a bit deeper and sort through the Oasis soundalikes, the contemporary scene does have some of that original 60's eclectic Mod feel from Jazz and Soul to raucous Guitars, and I think these Podcasts will hopefully show some of that diversity. So, in Part 1 we highlight the brand new label and management company, Royale Records who are busy adding some great bands to their quickly expanding roster. We interview one of Royale's bosses, Hipster Lee and chat about the label's plans and philosophy, as well as playing great tracks from some of their bands, such as Retro Man Blog favourites, The Past Tense, along with The Universal, Monkeeman, Mr. Bridger, The Lemontops and The Electric Stars.

In Part 2 we take a wider view on the scene and turn the spotlight on some more of the movers and shakers, such as Alan May's Glory Boy Radio Show, The Alley Club in Cambridge, New Untouchables and The Mod Generation. We pick some of the best contemporary bands showing the diversity of the current Mod scene, from the Soul of DC Fontana, Button Up and Brandy Butler and The Fonxionaires to energetic guitar bands such at The Loop, The Cycle Paths and The Theme. There's also some classic Garage Pop sounds from the The Len Price 3 and The Past Tense along with International bands like French Boutik from Paris and Spain's Stanley Road.

The Podcasts can be downloaded for free via our Retrosonic Podcast Soundcloud page.

Friday 10 August 2012

The ClockTower - Debut album "Days of Rosey Row" out now.

I first heard The ClockTower on Alan May's Glory Boy Radio Show last Sunday and was pretty impressed by the track "Kiss Ya Glass" that Alan played. It seemed I wasn't alone, as there was a flurry of positive comments on the Glory Boy message board from other admirers. I wanted to find out a bit more about them, so contacted the band and Vocalist/Guitarist, Ryan kindly whizzed back some info. I haven't seen the band live yet or heard the album, but I will certainly be investigating further. In the meantime, here's the low-down on the band.

The ClockTower are a British Indie ''Rock n Roll'' Band who formed in Wolverhampton in Late 2009. The Band's influences are worn on their sleeves - Beatles, Oasis, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, Small Faces, Byrds, The View and Ocean Colour Scene. After tirelessly building up a fan base in their local area, there became a popular demand from their fans for the band to release an E.P. At this point Lead Singer Ryan and Guitarist Ian had already written a catologue of songs. After a band discussion it became clear that they would not just release an E.P. but record a full Album. Weeks after, their Manager David Michael, took the band to Zip Rock Studios in Wolverhampton where they worked on 11 tracks with Producer Ryan Pinson. Whilst recording, the lads got all experimental with a Dictaphone, recording samples of clanging doors and scratching the upstairs radiator with a drum stick. You can hear this especially on the track ''Black River Forest''. During a break in recording the band headed up north to work alongside Paul Holmes Of "Indie Rocks Manchester", where they helped to celebrate their 2nd anniversary with two live gigs at Gullivers and The Ducie Bridge, following that with a live session for Manchester Radio Online.

In January The ClockTower played at Proud Camden, London as part of Hot Vox Promotions. The venue is known for its' commitment to programming the very best live music, becoming a celebrity hang-out and developing a cult following along the way. Recently the band have been back down to London at Camden's legendary pub and music venue, The Dublin Castle, with London based band Scenic Life. They have played on the bill with The Vortex, who feature Bonehead, the ex-Guitarist of Oasis, Tom Hingley of Inspiral Carpets and Chris Helme, the vocalist with John Squire's other band, The Seahorses. Also, they've appeared recently with Bez of The Happy Mondays at this years' Osfest, Razorlight & Hard-Fi and Scottish Indie Rock Band The View, at The Wulfren Hall in the band's home-town of Wolverhampton

The Debut album "Days Of Rosey Row" is out now and has been named as "Album of the Week" on Salford City Radio, as well as already mentioned, getting a  preview on the excellent Glory Boy Radio show. It's also already received some glowing reviews and comments including:

"Absolutely Superb!" - BBC Introducing
"Fantastic piece of work, definitely worth a listen" - BRIT Events
"'Kiss Ya Glass' is an incredible anthem and a great advertisement for this fast emerging band" - Sam Davies (Big Mouth Strikes Again)

The Album is available from The ClockTower's official Merch Store at all their U.K. shows, not forgetting ITunes, and Amazon. The band are also currently planning a U.K. Tour to promote the album and dates will be announced on their web-site and Facebook page.  

The ClockTower are:

Lead Vox/Guitarist/Songwriter - Ryan Evans
Backing Vox/Guitarist/Songwriter - Ian Dowdeswell
Bass Guitar - Andy O'Brein
Drums & Percussion - Connor Dowdeswell

You can check out more information and news on The ClockTower at the following links:

Official Facebook Fan Page :
Official YouTube Channel :
Official Website :

The band will headline the Main Stage at OtterFest in Ludlow tomorrow, Saturday 11th August.

Thursday 9 August 2012

London: The Modern Babylon a film by Julien Temple

Julien Temple's remarkable portrait of London takes his now trademark documentary approach of juxtaposing witty and surprising historical archive footage against contemporary film of his subject. He has already successfully used this technique in his supreme portraits of the Sex Pistols in the "Filth & The Fury", along with Dr. Feelgood and Canvey Island, in "Oil City Confidential". This time round, the subject is not a band though, but the City of London. He creates a wonderful aural and visual assault on the senses with a kaleidoscope of images and music. Exciting and chaotic, but most of all uplifting and positive, just like London itself. The movie starts with a colourful montage soundtracked by the slashing chords of The Clash's "London Calling", and then flashes back to amazing flickering black and white footage of late Victorian London with horse drawn carriages and trams packing the dirty streets. The main premise of the movie is based on how London has dealt with the influx of immigrants into it's communities following the collapse of the British Empire. It's that multicultural London that Temple loves so dearly, and we meet various residents of all ages, faiths, colours and creeds, talking about their experiences of life in the Capital. 

Photo by Steve Worrall
One of those residents turns out to be the star of the film, 106 year old Hetty Bower, a Hackney resident, recalls some vivid scenes from her long life. Her childhood treat consisted of a trip to the River Thames to watch the drawbridges of Tower Bridge being raised and lowered. She also poignantly remembers waving off the troops as they left for the First World War and later, resisting Oswald Mosley's Nazi Black-shirts in the Battle of Cable Street, "...they did not pass", she proudly exclaims. Hetty also provides a note of common sense when, somewhat unexpectedly, instead of admonishing the recent Anti-Capitalist protesters, she praises them for their courage in questioning our society. It's another main theme of the film, that cyclical nature of London's history. As Madness singer, Suggs, announces as he walks through his home turf of Camden Town, "...there never were any 'good old days'". After all, there has always been that divide between rich and poor, always been traffic congestion, pollution and civil unrest. We see footage of the Suffragettes, neatly soundtracked by X-Ray Spex's "Oh Bondage, Up Yours!", and there is Winston Churchill in the midst of the Sidney Street siege in 1911. Of course London is also no stranger to riots, from Notting Hill in 1958, Brixton in 1981 right up to the looting and arson of last year's riots. London has had to deal with some terrible acts of devastation, from the Blitz, to the terrorism of the IRA and the sinister threat of the suicide bomber. Temple expertly brings all these situations sharply into focus and we realise that every generation has to deal with such issues.

Photo by Steve Worrall
Music of course, is key to the movie and Temple's beloved Kinks play a large part in the soundtrack, most effectively with the beautiful "Waterloo Sunset" playing over stunning images of the River Thames. Ray Davies is featured in footage from Temple's documentary "Imaginary Man", the programme that inspired my own little Kinks Walking Tour, which you can read about here. Then of course there's the Sex Pistols, the band with which he made his name as a film-maker. He cleverly puts images of old Music Hall against the scenes of Punk Rock, showing the historic lineage of London's knack of producing rebellious, bawdy and irreverent music. The Q & A session after the screening was very interesting as Temple talks about the Olympics and how the movie probably would not have happened without it. He also pays tribute to his late father who passed away this year, and who was once attacked and injured by one of the right wing Nazis featured in the film. 

I bumped into JC Carroll of The Members after the screening, which was a nice surprise. We had recently interviewed JC for a special Edition of our Retrosonic Podcast, in which he talked about his involvement with the soundtrack music of "London: The Modern Babylon". JC has also worked on previous Julien Temple films and you can hear him talking about this, along with a fascinating trip through his career with The Members and as a solo artist, in the Retrosonic Podcast Episode below: 


"London: The Modern Babylon" will be shown on BBC2 on Saturday August 11th at 9:20pm.

Wednesday 8 August 2012

Viv Albertine - Report on book reading at The Social and news of forthcoming Autobiography

Viv Albertine in 1980 by Paul Slattery
The Bookseller have announced that Faber & Faber will be publishing the long-awaited autobiography by ex-Slits guitarist, Viv Albertine. Here's the new press release from the Publisher: "Faber and Faber has added to their growing music list by acquiring the rights for the memoirs of legendary punk, Viv Albertine. "Clothes Clothes Clothes, Music Music Music, Boys Boys Boys" will describe Albertine's career from starting a band with Sid Vicious, to her time with The Slits, and her later years as a filmmaker, wife and mother. Rights were acquired from Becky Thomas at WME Entertainment, and the book is set to be published in spring 2014. It follows books by rock critic Nick Kent and The Pogues musician James Fearnley, on Faber's growing music list. Publishing director Lee Brackstone said: "Viv's story is inspiring and it is a pleasure to spend time with her on the page. The heart of the book is, of course, the much mythologised punk scene of London in the late 1970s. "For the first time, we witness familiar events and characters, Sid Vicious, Lydon, Thunders, Mick Jones, Strummer, Ari-Up, Siouxsie etc from a female perspective". Albertine said: "The enthusiasm for this project from everyone at Faber has given me the confidence to keep writing and developing, to tell the truth, however painful. I have to write this book now, I've fought it for years, but it just won't stay in any longer." 

Viv Albertine at The Faber Social - Photo by Steve Worrall
When we attended the Faber event  at The Social, back in April, to mark the launch of James Fearnley's Pogues book "Here Comes Everybody", Viv was on the bill reading from her memoirs. Although at the time there was no official announcement that Faber were going to publish them, it seemed highly likely, so this confirmation is really good news. The passages that Viv read on the night were mainly anecdotes from her days right at the heart of the London Punk Rock explosion. She talked about her friendship with Sid Vicious and how upset she was to be sacked from their band The Flowers Of Romance. There was also a searingly honest account of the destructive fascination with Johnny Thunders. Thunders not only drove a wedge between her and Mick Jones, her Art School boyfriend, but also introduced Viv to Heroin for the first time too. In the short Q&A session after the reading, she was also brutally frank about the way she had repressed her love of music and creativity during her time spent out of the public eye as a wife and mother. But now with the unfortunate break-up of her marriage - "my Telecaster broke it apart" - she is at least, able to express herself again creatively. From the passages we were treated to on the night, this book promises to be a great, emotional read, and I am really looking forward to it's publication.

As well as her art and sculptures, Viv is currently working on her debut solo album. There is, however, an excellent E.P. available right now, entitled "Flesh", featuring four great tracks "Never Come", "I Don't Believe/In Love", "If Love" and "False Heart". This was released on Thurston Moore's Ecstatic Peace! label and you can order copies via Viv's web-site. Also, if you are interested in the history of The Slits, then I would thoroughly recommend Zoë Street Howe's extremely entertaining biography of the band "Typical Girls? The Story of The Slits". (Published by Omnibus Press 2009).

Thanks to Paul Slattery for the great 1980 Viv Albertine Photo.