Friday 28 June 2013

Thee Spivs Competiton - New Album Launch Party at The Half Moon Putney tomorrow Saturday June 29th

Andrew Perry's Q Magazine review
Following on from our "Spot Thee Spivs flyer" competition, won by Retro Man Blog reader Janine, we are running another little bit of fun and games tomorrow at The Half Moon. The first 50 people through the venue doors will get the chance for an exclusive Thee Spivs button badge "lucky dip". The person pulling out the lucky badge will win a signed copy of the brand new album from Thee Spivs, "The Crowd and The Sounds", which has just been released on Damaged Goods Records and has received a great review by Retro Man Blog's favourite journalist, Andrew Perry, in the latest issue of Q Magazine. Copies of the album will be available to buy on the merchandise stand on the night, unless you're the lucky winner of course, then you won't have to buy one...The prize also includes CDs from the evening's special guests, The Fallen Leaves and The Past Tense.

Janine with her winning flyer!
Thanks to Ian at Damaged Goods, Thee Spivs, The Fallen Leaves, The Past Tense, Jeff Munday, Carrie and all that have helped with promoting the gig and sharing the word...much appreciated!

The Half Moon's address is 93 Lower Richmond Road, London SW15 1EU, the closest Tube station is Putney Bridge on the District Line (Wimbledon Branch) and the closest mainline Rail station is Putney, which has direct links to London Waterloo, Richmond, Twickenham and Windsor etc. For full details on the gig including advance ticket purchase information, please check out The Half Moon Putney's Event page here. Tickets £8.00 Doors at 7:30 pm, Past Tense 8pm, Fallen Leaves 9pm and Thee Spivs 10pm. Live Music curfew 11pm. Aftershow DJ Jeff Munday 11pm until late...

Tuesday 25 June 2013

The Flamin' Groovies: Shakin' Some Action back in the U.K. after over 30 Years at The Scala Kings Cross July 02nd

The Flamin' Groovies backstage Brunel University 1978 by Paul Slattery
The Flamin' Groovies are back in the U.K. and it's only taken about 30 years! The 1971-80 Cyril Jordan, Chris Wilson, George Alexander line-up, along with Victor Penalosa on drums, are shakin' some action once again after some successful gigs in Japan and Australia. They will be playing at the Hard Rock Calling Festival at The Olympic Park on Sunday June 30th and then at the Scala Kings Cross on Tuesday July 02nd, which will be a gig that all Groovies fans will not want to miss. The Flamin' Groovies haven't played a show in the U.K. since they split in 1981 and this will be a rare chance to catch the influential Power Pop band live. 

The Flamin' Groovies backstage Rafters, Manchester 1978 by Paul Slattery
The band has a long history stretching back to the mid-60's in San Francisco, when they started off as the Chosen Few, and then went through various changes to line-up, band name, record label and even location, as they moved to London to try their luck and recorded the legendary album "Shake Some Action" with Dave Edmunds at Rockfield Studios in Wales. The album was released on Sire records in 1976 who went onto release two more great albums, "Flamin' Groovies Now", and "Jumpin' In The Night". The classic line-up disbanded in 1981 with Wilson joining the Garage Surf outfit The Barracudas, although the band did continue to tour into the early '90's.

The Flamin' Groovies at The Roundhouse 1978 - Photo by Paul Slattery
The good news is that the current line-up are back in the studio recording new material together and also working on finishing some long lost recordings, so hopefully we can expect a new release or two very soon. Ticket details for July 02nd and more info can be found at The Scala's website.

As a young Rock Photographer, Paul Slattery spent time with the band at Rockfield Studios and on their U.K. Spring Tour of 1978 and took some excellent photos of the band on and off stage. Paul has kindly contributed these exclusive un-seen photos to Retro Man Blog. You can hear Paul talking about the influence of The Flamin' Groovies on his fledgling Rock Photographer career in our Retrosonic Podcast special episode here.

With many thanks to Paul Slattery for the pictures. All photos strictly copyright Paul Slattery 2013.

Monday 24 June 2013

Thee Spivs - Exclusive Track-by-Track Guide to "The Crowd and The Sounds" by Singer and Guitarist Ben Edge

Today sees the release of Thee Spivs brand new album "The Crowd and The Sounds" on Damaged Goods Records, and to mark the day we are extremely pleased to have an exclusive track-by-track guide to the new songs, by the band's Singer/Guitarist and Song-writer, Ben Edge. We will be hosting the official album launch party at The Half Moon Putney on June 29th, along with Damaged Goods, and we look forward to seeing you there. Now over to Ben...

"The album begins with a piano intro, which is taken from the track "Back To The Start" from our last album. The idea behind this was to begin where we had left off. Me and Ed Deegan (who recorded and produced "Black and White Memories" as well as "The Crowds and the Sounds") discussed the idea and Ed ended up taking the idea much further and in my opinion made it become an integral part of the album. As you will find out in this track-by-track guide there are the recurring themes of weather, work, art and escapism which are all evident in the cover design and as Ed said “To me, if there was a theme tune for the cover Art the intro would be it."

1) "Social Network"
Once the intro plays out the album immediately kicks in with "Social Network". The song’s pretty self-explanatory really. It’s commenting on facebook and other popular social media sights and the void it fills in people’s lives. There are sides of people you would never of known about but now on facebook all of sudden you see what they eat, where they go out, their political views and much more. Despite all this it’s a very selective view of someone. Their showing you how they want to be seen although this still can be very revealing I cant help but feel that it’s a false projection of a person. It can get pretty annoying but where all guilty of it to some degree so as a song it’s as much self critical as it criticizing other people.

2) "Forget It"
This song is about the reality of everyday existence for most people. You get up you go to work and you battle to get there amongst all the other people who are on the way to work. People become like obstacles. The song starts with just my voice and guitar and builds up in to a frenzy that we hoped would have the same feel as when you head out into the madness amongst the commuters. The song also is about the importance of day dreams/escapism and not letting other people get you down. A feel good number, or at least it’s meant to be!

3) "Outside Myself"
This follows on from "Forget It" which covers getting to and from work whereas outside myself is about when your actually there. It celebrates the fact that no matter how dull things can get you yourself have the power to change it.

4) "The Crowds and the Sounds"
As you know this song is the title track and is actually my personal favourite song on the album. The idea behind the song came from walking along the Southbank (an area that inspired many themes of the album), which is one of my favourite walks in London. So I just went about trying to write a song about strolling along the Thames and feeling alone even though you’re in the middle of a huge crowd. This idea became the main theme of the album and inspired the artwork too. We also had Spencer Evoy of MFC Chicken add some saxophone to the track, which really added to the song.

5) "Straight out of Art School"
"Straight out of Art School" is an autobiographical song about my experiences after finishing art school and having to rejoin the real world whilst still wishing to be in art school. The idea of referencing another artists is common amongst artists and this was what first inspired the idea of referencing a Magritte painting for the cover art. 

Thee Spivs (L/R): Steve, Ben and Daniel
6) "Weathered Men"
This is about the older generation and how much the world has changed during their life times. The song is also a story about all the old people I see wandering up and down Camden Road (where I live) on a daily basis and imagining the different lives they have lived and the things they have seen just by looking at there faces. This song we struggled with initially in the studio and ended up stripping it back and approaching it like a Syd Barrett song, which worked much better.

 7) "Mickey Pearce Waved Goodbye"
This song is about when our old bass player Dan left the band. It’s a bit of a tribute song really. The idea came about when people started asking us at gigs what happened to Mickey Pearce? Dan was a real presence on stage and really looks like the Only Fools and Horses character Mickey Pearce. It also fitted nicely with the English themes on the album.  It was pretty sad and shocking to us when he quit so we decided to write a song about it would be a fitting tribute to his services with Thee Spivs.

 8) "Heroin Pin-ups"
"Heroin Pin-ups" is about how there always seems to be a poster boy heroin user in Rock 'n' Roll and how it seems to give people credibility in the music press. I also feel record labels exploit their artists and encourage them to become living clichés to help record sales. I also wanted to write a song that was like an instruction manual telling you how to become a heroin pin up. I think the media generally has a really distorted view of rock n roll and encourage people to not be them selves and the knock on effect of this is people start trying to recreate the rock n roll cliché and this is why there are so many fakes in the music world and I’m bloody bored of them.

 9) "Let’s Talk About the Weather"
This was almost the title track and also inspired the artwork. The verses in the song are about the madness and terrible things that happen daily in London and the hypocritical nature of human beings but then its contrasted by the chorus which comments on how people talk about the weather as a way of escaping what’s really going on around them and also more light heartedly to avoid awkward silences.
10) "Jigsaw Man"
"Jigsaw Man" comments on how we as people are made up of all our experiences and by the people we know. In many ways individual characters are made out of many different pieces much like a jigsaw puzzle. But it also is about trying to find your self, which is represented by the idea of the missing piece.

11) "Mozart’s Locked Away"
I actually wrote this song a while back but it never really fitted with any of our other albums but it just seemed perfect for this one. The song was inspired by Outsider Art and is about all the great music and art that is made behind closed doors that is never seen or heard. I felt it fitted in with the reoccurring theme of escapism and I like the idea that there are people who are creating art for themselves and not for personal gain and public recognition.

"So that is the end of my track-by-track guide. I also thought I would mention the recording process itself. Ed Deegan as well as producing the album also played various instruments on the album and became like a fourth member of the band. Before the recording Ed worked hard to get the right guitar sound to complement the songs and also created a formula so we could maximize the time in the studio and he has supplied some notes on how he did it."
"Regarding the band sound. I wanted to make the main guitar do the whole job. This was achieved with a Piezo transducer stuck with blue tack between the bridge and tailpiece of a fender Jazz master. This was mixed with the amp tone (A 60’s Vox ac30) Then an ADT (artificial double track) of the amp sound. The Backing tracks were recorded live. Steve played to a click track for most of the songs.  The guitar and bass amp speakers were isolated. The drums were record with MS stereo and a few spot mics. Another interesting technique was the mix of drum machine and acoustic drums. We used this on "Heroin Pin-ups", it’s a mix of an 808 Drum Machine and acoustic drums played over it."

So, many thanks indeed to Ben for taking the time to contribute the great track-by-track guide to "The Crowd and The Sounds", it is an excellent album and will be available at our very special launch party at The Half Moon on June 29th. The Half Moon's address is 93 Lower Richmond Road, London SW15 1EU, the closest Tube station is Putney Bridge on the District Line (Wimbledon Branch) and the closest mainline Rail station is Putney, which has direct links to London Waterloo, Richmond, Twickenham and Windsor etc. For full details on the gig including advance ticket purchase information, please check out The Half Moon's Event page here. Doors at 7:30 pm, Past Tense 8pm, Fallen Leaves 9pm and Thee Spivs 10pm. Live Music curfew 11pm. Aftershow DJ Jeff Munday 11pm until late...

Sunday 23 June 2013

THEE SPIVS - New Album Launch Party Half Moon Putney June 29th - Update and Competition Winner Announced

I'm very pleased to announce that we have a winner in our "Spot Thee Spivs flyer" competition. Janine submitted her photo after spotting a flyer at The 12 Bar Club on Denmark Street and she wins complimentary entrance to the Launch Party on June 29th at The Half Moon along with a signed copy of Thee Spivs brand new album "The Crowd and The Sounds". Janine also wins CDs from the evening's special guests The Fallen Leaves and The Past Tense. Well done Janine, thanks for sending the photo and we hope you will enjoy the night!

The Launch Party at The Half Moon is shaping up to be be something special, with Thee Spivs playing tracks from the excellent brand new album, "The Crowd and The Sounds", due to be released tomorrow June 24th on Damaged Goods Records. The album has just received a great review by Retro Man Blog's favourite journalist, Andrew Perry, in the latest issue of Q Magazine. Copies of the album will be available to buy on the merchandise stand on the night. The band have just returned from a successful tour of Holland, Belgium and Germany and as they haven't played in London for a while, will be nicely warmed up and ready to go!

We are also delighted to welcome our Special Guests on the night, The Fallen Leaves, The Past Tense and DJ Jeff Munday. Damaged Goods Records boss Ian will also be there selling copies of the new album. So make sure you get there early to avoid missing out on any of the fun. As an incentive, we are running another competition, this time a "Bonus Badge Lucky Dip"...the first 50 people through the doors can help themselves to an exclusive Spivs badge, well 49 can, as the person who picks out the bonus badge will win a signed copy of "The Crowd and The Sounds" and a CD each from The Fallen Leaves and The Past Tense.

Janine with her winning flyer!
Damaged Goods have released "Straight Out of Art School" as the first single from Thee Spivs new album "The Crowd and The Sounds", here's a promo video for the album.

Thanks to Ian at Damaged Goods, Thee Spivs, The Fallen Leaves, The Past Tense, Jeff Munday, Carrie and all that have helped with promoting the gig and sharing the word...much appreciated!

The Half Moon's address is 93 Lower Richmond Road, London SW15 1EU, the closest Tube station is Putney Bridge on the District Line (Wimbledon Branch) and the closest mainline Rail station is Putney, which has direct links to London Waterloo, Richmond, Twickenham and Windsor etc. For full details on the gig including advance ticket purchase information, please check out The Half Moon Putney's Event page here. Doors at 7:30 pm, Past Tense 8pm, Fallen Leaves 9pm and Thee Spivs 10pm. Live Music curfew 11pm. Aftershow DJ Jeff Munday 11pm until late...

Retrosonic Podcast Episode 8: "The World's So Far Below Her, It's Not Her Scene"

Steve from Retro Man Blog, Adam from The Jetsonics and Rock Photographer Paul Slattery with the usual eclectic mix of tunes and waffle...In Episode 8 we have some Garage Rock from The Fallen Leaves, Les BOF! and Shocking Blue, raucous Punk Rock from The Phobics, The Cortinas, The Snivelling Shits and Adam & The Ants. Some classic Trojan Reggae from The Fabion, a Clash favourite from The Equals, a Power Pop hidden gem from The Tours, influential Rockabilly from Charlie Feathers, some Psych-Folk from 5th Dimension, Mod Soul from The Fay Hallam Trinity and a Glam stomping riot from Giuda...!

There's also chat about the stunning Giuda gig at The Buffalo Bar, the Joe Strummer London W11 Mural unveiling party, ex-Sparks and Revillos members get together as Crash 74 at the 12 Bar Club and there is news about our exciting album launch party for THEE SPIVS at The Half Moon Putney on June 29th. This Episode is available to download for FREE from our Retrosonic Podcast Soundcloud site...Enjoy...!

Coming Soon..."Sparks: the Early Years" a Retrosonic Podcast special edition with Harley Feinstein, the original drummer with Sparks, or Halfnelson as they were then called. Harley gives us a fascinating insight into the early formation of Sparks, their first two albums on Bearsville and their very first visit to the U.K. Harley also tells us about his latest band Crash 74, featuring Nicky Forbes of The Revillos, and their triumphant London gig at the 12 Bar Club last month.

Friday 21 June 2013

The Boys - Deluxe Reissues Release Party at The Borderline, London Saturday June 22nd with The DeRellas

Tomorrow at The Borderline, The Boys will perform a one time only special set comprising only songs from their first two albums "The Boys" and "Alternative Chartbusters", to mark the definitive digitally remastered Deluxe Re-issues of both. The new versions will feature previously unreleased bonus material and sleeve notes by Mojo Journalist Dave Henderson and a track by track guide from Singer/Guitarist Matt Dangerfield. Legendary Hollywood Brats singer and founding member of The Boys, Andrew Matheson, is flying in specially from Canada to join the band on stage as a very special guest. Andrew was in the Hollywood Brats with Casino Steel before they both joined up with Matt Dangerfield in 1975 after he left the famed pre-Punk band London SS. Matt brought along his Art college friend Honest John Plain and they recruited Duncan Kid Reid on bass and Jack Black on Drums, before going on to unleash some of the most influential melodic Power Pop to emerge from that early 70's Punk scene such as "I Don't Care" and the classic "Brickfield Nights".

The Boys - The original 1975 line-up
The Borderline is on Orange Yard, off Manette Street, Charing Cross Road near Tottenham Court Road Tube Station. Here's a reminder of The Boys in their prime...

Support on the night comes from the Glam Stompin' Punk Rockin' band The Derellas...

With thanks to Steve Metcalfe for the Photos.

Thursday 20 June 2013

The WitchDoktors + The SuperMinx '70 at The Fighting Cocks Kingston-Upon-Thames June 14th

The WitchDoktors Singer/Guitarist Andy - Photo by Steve Worrall
"I can't believe you haven't seen The WitchDoktors yet...!", "The WitchDoktors are right up your street...", "They were so great live, what a show, can't believe you missed them...again...!" Yeah, yeah, many times have I heard it...I know...It has taken me quite some time to get round to seeing the much talked about WitchDoktors, I'd come close, but bad timing and missed opportunities just seemed to go hand-in-hand with this band and me. So, finally last Friday I got my chance to see them play at The Fighting Cocks in Kingston, a great little venue in the Thameside town and I was not disappointed. Promoter Tony Holton put on a great night's entertainment headlined by The Bermondsey Joyriders and ably supported by The SuperMinx '70.

The SuperMinx '70 - Photo by Steve Worrall
I'd first seen The SuperMinx '70 at Jeff Munday's Birthday party and really enjoyed their set but this was the first time to see them with a full P.A. at a proper venue. At the last minute they had to draft in temporary cover for bassist Tom Slatter, and to his credit the replacement did a fine job with what I can only imagine was limited rehearsal time. The SuperMinx '70 have just emerged from the studio with four brand spanking new tracks - their first recordings actually, and rather good they are too. Tonight they start off with my favourite of the bunch, their ode to the star of some saucy British Seventies comedy movies, "Adrienne Posta". It's loud and sounds much more powerful than the recorded version. Next up is "Farringdon's Finest" with it's naggingly catchy chorus, a track that was co-written by Alan May, the DJ at Retro Man Blog's favourite radio show, Glory Boy.

The SuperMinx '70 - Photo by Steve Worrall
Singer Paul Osborn introduces the excellent "This Is The Sound" as their "Garage Rock song" and it certainly has that raw sound that packs a punch. "Who Are Ya?" is as you would probably guess from the title, a football terrace chant of a song, stuffed full of aggression. "Jeffrey's Song" is a slow, snaking number based on a plaintive sax riff with a heartfelt chorus and "Waltzer" is a brash fairground singalong. "Do Da" has some great lyrics about beer bellies and I can see people holding their stomachs in, me included, as the subject matter becomes clear. Another of the songs from their download E.P. "What Would You Change?" is an excellent way to end what was a great set. The band will play at the 12 Bar Club on Saturday June 22nd with The Loop, so if you're in London on Saturday why not pop along to see The SuperMinx '70, you won't be disappointed.

The WitchDoktors - Photo by Steve Worrall
So, The WitchDoktors take the stage and the temperature in the already baking hot venue is raised a few more degrees as they slam straight into the rollicking "Movie Star" from the latest album "$3.00 Hooker". The lyrics name check some pretty cool actors and it's clear that the band are steeped in that classic Americana and vintage Rock 'n' Roll imagery of old Hollywood glamour, bowling shirts, Sci-Fi comic books, road trips, diners and plenty of beer along the way. The song pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the gig, it's high energy, non-stop action from the off. The band are a great live act, with bassist Zig and guitarist Tony vying for attention up against front man Andy who is not going to relinquish the spotlight easily. "No Pain No Gain" and my personal highlight of the night "I'm Sick", are prime cuts of sleazy Garage Rock, bursting with hooks and harmonies and they both thunder along like an out of control dragster.

The WitchDoktors bassist Zig - Photo by Steve Worrall
"Knock Me Back" and "Neck Tattoo" channel The Sonics and Rocket From The Crypt perfectly, before we are reminded that the band are from South London and they don't neglect their British Punk Rock, roots as they play great covers of "(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais" and "Neat Neat Neat" which are both really well received. Tony plays a mean harmonica too and it all adds to a enticing cocktail of Punk Rockabilly on last song "Common Prayer For The Working Man" with it's crazed Johnny Cash rhythm which brings the set crashing to a close. It's fantastic stuff, I'm completely hooked and will definitely be getting along to see the band at the next available opportunity, hopefully the Rock 'n' Roll gods will look down kindly on me and make sure this time the fates don't conspire to keep me away for too long!

The WitchDoktors Guitarist Tony and Drummer Si - Photo by Steve Worrall
The WitchDoktors are working on their fourth album which will be out either later this year or more likely early next year. The band usually play the 12 Bar Club every 2nd Friday of the month (except August) and some other key dates this year include October 4th at The Barfly with the DeRellas, Day Of The Dead Festival back at The Fighting Cocks in early November and Stay Sick in Brighton Blind Tiger on December 14th with The Mojo Kings. Check out their Facebook page for news and info.

For more photos of The WitchDoktors and The SuperMinx '70 "Like" the Retro Man Blog Facebook page for access to the Photo album. Here's a Video of The WitchDoktors and "No Pain, No Gain" - sorry about the sound quality, it was LOUD and nearly blew my camera to pieces...!

Here's The SuperMinx '70 with "Adrienne Posta" introduced by David Williams...

Wednesday 19 June 2013

Spiders at Sweden Rock Festival - Photos by Josefine Larsson

Ann-Sofie of Spiders - Photo by Josefine Larsson
The Gothenburg Non-Stop web-site has published some excellent pictures of our favourite "Retro Rockers", Spiders taken at the recent "Sweden Rock Festival" by the very talented photographer Josefine Larsson. Josefine had complete backstage and onstage access and her photos are certainly well worth checking out. Josefine has already contributed pictures of Mattias Hellberg and The Movements to Retro Man Blog and I am sure we will see much more from her in the future. You can check out the full set of Spiders photos on the Gothenburg Non-Stop site and see more examples of Josefine's work at her official web-site.

Ricard and Matteo warming up backstage - Photo by Josefine Larsson
John and Ann-Sofie backstage before the gig - Photo by Josefine Larsson
Spiders will play at Club Destroyer, Sundsvall in Sweden on June 29th before heading off on an Iberian Tour to continue promoting their superb debut album "Flash Point", with the first date in Barcelona on July 01st. They will then play at the Rockfest in Rengsdorf, Germany on July 27th and then there will be a couple more appearances at festivals in Sweden in August. Visit the band's web-site for all the dates, venues and ticket details. Spiders will hopefully start recording the follow up to "Flash Point" in Autumn. Their single "Fraction" is so good it even made it onto our Retro Man Blog "favourite 7" singles" header logo above, amongst some very exalted company...!

Taking the stage at Sweden Rock Festival - Photo by Josefine Larsson
You can check out our interview with Ann-Sofie from Spiders and hear some of their tunes in our special edition Retrosonic Podcast on Swedish music at the Soundcloud site.

With many thanks to Josefine Larsson.

Tuesday 18 June 2013

The Art of The Button Badge: Blondie

When I first started up the Blog just over two years ago, it was really just meant to be somewhere to share some of my music related "stuff" such as Button badges, 7" Single picture covers, Gig tickets and Photos. I didn't really expect things to expand so quickly into doing Reviews and Podcasts and Gig promotions and such-like so I kind of lost touch with the original idea a bit. Hopefully I will get round to scanning and sharing some of my items soon, but in the meantime, Blog reader Marc Talbot kindly submitted some of his huge collection of Blondie badges. It's quite an impressive haul, so here is just a small part of it...

Marc has been collecting Blondie button badges for over 35 years and has amassed over 400 of his own and has scans of about 500 different designs. He is always looking to add to his collection and is considering setting up a web-site to share other badges, so if you have any spares for sale, swap or share then contact the Blog and I'll hook you up with Marc. All Badges and Photos contributed by Marc Talbot.

Monday 17 June 2013

Dirt Royal at London Callin' 12th Anniversary Party at The 12 Bar Club June 07th

Dirt Royal at The 12 Bar Club - Photo by Steve Worrall
Tonight's gig at the 12 Bar Club was the 12th Anniversary party for Barnet Mark's London Callin' Club night, and he picked a great line-up to celebrate the event. The first band on were Dirt Royal who have already picked up some impressive fans. Andy from The Past Tense recommended them and was there at the front of the stage, proudly wearing his Dirt Royal button badge. The Brighton based three-piece are young, guitarist Leon, bassist Charlie and drummer Loz all being in their early twenties and Barnet Mark mentioned to me that they were the band he wished he'd been in when he was their age...! I can see why, as Dirt Royal are full of confidence and have a great set of fully formed, tight and tuneful songs that does belie their age. Starting off with "Sick Boy Method" you are struck by the chemistry between Leon and Charlie, who share lead vocals duties as they crash about the stage, attacking their songs with real aggression, it's a great performance. Dirt Royal have a classic three-piece sound, and with the importance of the melodic backing vocals and Charlie's prominent bass, it's easy to think of The Jam. However, the band have a bit more of a varied palette which is evident in the second song "It Was You", and later on in "Factory Fodder", which both have a Fifties/early Sixties Rock & Roll feel. It's on these two songs, and their cover of Bobby Freeman's classic "Do You Wanna Dance?", that shows they have a lot of varied influences to draw from. So, a very promising band to watch out for, and I'd recommend getting hold of their great six track E.P. called "About Now", which they were selling for only one pound, and you really can't much better than that!

Dirt Royal at The 12 Bar - Photo by Steve Worrall
Here's a video of "Bobbys Without a Cause" filmed on the night. Check out the band's web-site for more information on upcoming gigs and to order their excellent "About Now".

Sunday 16 June 2013

TV Smith + Louise Distras at The 12 Bar Club June 07th

TV Smith and Louise Distras at the 12 Bar Club - Photo by Steve Worrall
It's the 12 Bar again and the 12th anniversary of Barnet Mark's London Callin' club night. TV Smith is standing behind his merchandise table, a table that's almost groaning under the weight of over thirty years experience in music. From a rare recording of his pre-Punk band Sleaze, to albums by The Adverts, TV Smith's Explorers, Cheap and of course his many and varied solo records, an impressive back catalogue lay in front of him. Behind him were hanging T-Shirts for sale, some showing extensive dates from his relentless touring schedule. 

TV Smith at The 12 Bar Club - Photo by Zig Criscuolo
Then there are the three volumes of his autobiography, or "Punk Rock Tour Diaries" as they are titled, which are a must-read for any self-respecting music fan, as they document warts and all, the truth about trying to get along as a self-sufficient Musician. There is no place for Rock Star excess in these books, no Limos or Lear jets - just the bus or the tube to the airport or train station. Travelling, not with record company finance but with a support network of independent promoters, bands or friends and often with only a bag of clothes, a box of CDs, a guitar and an emergency sandwich for company. All for the chance to perform to an audience, whether it is in an arena supporting Die Toten Hosen or a decent venue to a derelict squat or a tent in the middle of a forest, it's all worth it just to get on stage and play. 

Louise Distras by Paul Osborn
Next to TV Smith is another merchandise table, not quite as laden with goods, but impressive nevertheless with an array of T-Shirts, Badges and CD's. Behind this table stands Louise Distras, the Wakefield based singer songwriter. Louise is probably not quite ready to write her autobiography yet, but these are early days, she's due to release her Pat Collier produced debut album "Tales From The Factory Floor" very soon and people are starting to take notice of her raw and uncompromising protest songs. Seeing both Louise and TV Smith standing there chatting to fans, I'm struck by the similarities in their approach and I wonder if Louise has read any of TV's books. They are both steeped in that D.I.Y. spirit of trying to be as self-sufficient as possible, music is their life and their livelihood and those merchandise tables are an important part of their set up, and not just for helping to bring in important revenue but as a way of building a strong relationship between themselves and their fan-base.  It's obvious they take great pride in the quality and design of the goods on display, not to mention the reasonable pricing for fans.

TV Smith by Zig Criscuolo
Their accessibility and friendliness to all who wish to chat is apparent, both are song-writers with strong ideals and values and this is a great chance to communicate. I talked to Louise after her excellent set where she stunned the crowd with her raw, powerful voice and the quality of her songs. I noticed she was wearing a "Strummerville" badge, which I felt was quite apt. I think there is a lot in common with what Joe Strummer believed in and where Louise is coming from. She sings about the effects of social injustice in modern Britain, the aftermath of bullying and hate crimes, in fact her single "Standing Strong Together" was a fundraiser for the Sophie Lancaster Foundation, the charity set up in memory of the Lancashire student murdered by two teenagers for no more reason that she was a Goth and looked different. Louise is sticking up for the underdog, promoting individualism, another single "The Hand You Hold" was released to help promote International Women's Day, and I can see why Joe Strummer might be such an influence. Louise Distras is cool and charming with a friendly down-to-earth character, "I felt shy and a bit nervous tonight", she told me, "I'm not used to playing to so many smiling faces..!" At first I found this comment a bit strange and I worried about what sort of audiences she has been performing to! But then I could kind of understand where she is coming from. Again, like TV Smith, she has important things to say, and I suppose it's probably just as rewarding to play to a hostile or inquisitive crowd and at the end have at least a few people going away saying "you know, I never never thought of it like that..." than it is to have a room full of people cheering and clapping without even considering the subject matter of the songs themselves. But it's also about that balance between entertainment and getting a message across, and Louise and TV both have a humour and self-effacing quality that means you don't get the feeling you are just being preached at. But most importantly they have the songs, both are playing it as stripped back and as honest as you can get, just vocals and guitar, nothing to hide behind, so the songs have to work and they certainly do. Of course TV Smith has a great back catalogue of classic songs in his armoury, and despite having to miss half his set to catch my last train home, I manage to hear a superb, passionate performance including "The Lion and The Lamb", "No Time To Be 21", "Complaints Department", "Coming Into Land" and "It's Expensive Being Poor". TV also plays two brand new numbers, "Replay" and "Long Gone", which were both excellent and promise good things for his next album which will be released sometime in 2014. 

Louise Distras - Photo by Steve Worrall
Oh yes, I mentioned his humour. TV notices me checking my watch as I consider if I have just enough time to hear one more last song before shooting off in the dash for my last train. "I usually save this song for the encores", TV says, "but I can see Steve has to rush off..." and he slams into "Runaway Train Driver", thanks Tim, very funny! So feeling honoured to have a song dedication but slightly embarrassed about the circumstances, I make my excuses and leave, very quickly!

Don't forget our TV Smith Retrosonic Podcast special Edition which features TV talking us through his career and picking out some important songs along the way. We were also treated to an exclusive acoustic session so we hope you enjoy it! 

Here's a video of TV Smith performing The Adverts classic "No Time To Be 21" on the night. For a bonus video of Louise Distras playing "The Hand You Hold" please check out the Retro Man Blog YouTube Channel here.

With many thanks to Zig Criscuolo from The WitchDoktors and Paul Osborn from The SuperMinx '70 for allowing me to use their photos. Both are not only great photographers but also in excellent bands, so please check them out. Thanks also to Barnet Mark, TV Smith and Louise Distras. You can check out more photos at the Retro Man Blog Facebook page, please head on over and "Like" for access to the Photo Album.

Friday 14 June 2013

The Joe Strummer Mural London W11 Unveiling Party Thursday June 13th 2013

Mick Jones and Ray Gange at the unveiling - Photo Copyright Peter Stevens
Last night saw the unveiling of the Joe Strummer mural on the junction of Portobello Road and Blenheim Crescent, right in the heart of The Clash's old Ladbroke Grove stomping ground. I went along to visit the event and there was a great turn-out with some live acoustic performances and a few beers to go along with it. Mick Jones turned up to lend his support and so did Ray Gange from the Clash movie "Rude Boy". It's a long time coming, as New York has had a fantastic Joe Strummer mural for a few years now and it was about time that London paid tribute to Joe too, so credit to Gary Loveridge and Emma Harrison for making it happen. 

Mick Jones of The Clash - photo by Steve Worrall
Gary and Emma unveil the Mural - Photo Copyright Peter Stevens
Here, Gary explains how the mural came about: "I've been a Clash fan for over 35 years. Two years ago I was in New York on the anniversary of Joe Strummer's death (22nd December) and to pay my respects, I headed to the Lower East Side because I heard there was a mural of Joe there. I found it. It was good to see him and stand with him in one of his favourite cities. In November 2012, I was asked to create an exhibition of Joe Strummer and The Clash posters from my collection for the "Arms Aloft" gig at the Tabernacle W11. They wanted me to hang the posters, coincidentally, around a photograph of that same mural in New York. Seeing as the anniversary of Joe's death was coming up, it got me thinking that we should have a mural here, in West London, where Joe used to live. I found myself looking out for a wall. The space I was lucky enough to find is at the side of Lydon's Stitch and Bead Shop. The owner said that he liked art and the wall was mine.

Gary, Emma and Mick Jones - Photo Copyright Peter Stevens
I then had a chance meeting with Emma Harrison and during a conversation about Punk Rock posters I discovered that Emma was a mural artist and I asked her if she could paint a Joe Strummer mural. We sat down and designed our mural. We decided to use an older image of Joe with his trusted Telecaster guitar along with a quote of something I'd heard him say on a late night radio show..."Without People, You're Nothing"."

Ray  Gange and Gary Loveridge with original sketch - Photo Copyright Peter Stevens 
So, great stuff from Gary and Emma, if you're visiting Portobello market be sure to pop along and check out the mural for yourselves and pay tribute to Joe Strummer, it's located on the junction of Blenheim Crescent and Portobello Road, close to Rough Trade. Here's a short video of the unveiling

Many thanks to Gary Loveridge, check out more about his poster archive and exhibitions here. For more info on Emma Harrison please visit her site here. Also, many thanks to Peter Stevens for allowing me to use some of his excellent photos, please visit his photography web-site here.

For more photos "Like" the Retro Man Blog Facebook page for access to the Photo Album.

Sunday 9 June 2013

The Fallen Leaves + The Phobics at The 12 Bar Club June 05th

The Fallen Leaves - Photo by Steve Worrall
So, it's the first Wednesday of the month, a date that is block booked in the calendar as it's The Fallen Leaves residency and their "Minimum R 'n' B" Club night at the 12 Bar Club. It's becoming a real highlight of my live music schedule, even more so as The Fallen Leaves always pick a good selection of three or four other bands to play on the night, and this time round, the bill included The Phobics, who I'd been looking forward to seeing for some time. I had actually seen a couple of the band members play an acoustic set at one of Gaye Advert's Art Exhibitions before, but this was the full line-up, so I was particularly keen to catch their show tonight. The band kicked off with "Punk Rock Show", the opening track from their superb album "Deptford Calling", and they weren't wrong, as they treated us to a masterclass in raucous yet tuneful old school Punk Rock. 

The Phobics (L/R) Jeff, Shaun, Moyni and Tom - Photo by Steve Worrall
"Won't Let Go" thunders along, reminding me of the great Canadian Hardcore band D.O.A. It's this Trans-Atlantic Punk culture-hopping that gives The Phobics an edge over a lot of contemporary Punk bands. One minute, with the excellent "Split Personality", they are taking us on a trip to the downtown New York of Max's Kansas City and CBGB's, and then on the supremely catchy "One Girl" the Ramones suddenly enter the room and in the corner, the Dead Boys are hanging out with Richard Hell. We are then transported back to the tough streets of South London with "Boy Band" which is bovver-boot rock at it's best. Drummer Charlie keeps things thundering along at some pace, with his rhythm section colleague Moyni on bass, centre stage, a picture of concentration. 

Tom and Charlie of The Phobics - Photo by Steve Worrall
They both lay down a solid foundation for the impressive lead guitarist Shaun to play some cool riffs and Johnny Thunders style breaks. With vocalist Tom Crossley, a charismatic but statically cool front man hanging on his mic stand, it's left to rhythm guitarist Jeff to provide the visual assault, with assault being the operative word. The stage of the 12 Bar is small enough, and it's certainly too small to contain Jeff who spends a good part of the set playing guitar amongst the crowd, sitting on the stage or leaping about, he adds an edge of aggression to the band and his enthusiasm is certainly infectious. Great to finally get to see The Phobics and I recommend getting hold of a copy of "Deptford Calling" and seeing them live, just try not to leave it as long as I did...

The Fallen Leaves - Photo by Steve Worrall
There's been a real buzz of positivity around The Fallen Leaves recently, what with their sessions with Marc Riley on BBC 6 Music and on Resonance FM and a glowing review in the Sunday Times by comedian Stewart Lee for their latest album "If Only We'd Known". They just keep on getting better gig by gig, and more people seem to be turning up to the 12 Bar each time they play. Rob Symmons seems to be intent on wreaking as much damage to his guitar as possible without actually smashing it on the stage. Banging it and shaking it to get optimum power, he twists the strings to breaking point, spilling out classic Garage Rock riffs to songs such as "Passing By" and "Trouble".

The Fallen Leaves - Photo by Steve Worrall
Drummer Bill Lewington had a particularly good night, his drumming really stood out and he didn't even shatter a drum-stick over me this time! Bassist Matthew Karas, in his crushed velvet smoking jacket and Cheshire cat grin, is a calming presence as it all goes off either side of him. Vocalist Rob Green's wonderfully English eccentric performance with his tweed, pocket watch and tea ceremony is a delight every time and you think that this is the sort of band that we should be able to watch on "Later with Jools Holland" - they deserve a much wider audience. The Fallen Leaves will play at our next Retro Man Blog night which will be the official launch party for Thee Spivs new album "The Crowd and The Sounds" at The Half Moon Putney on June 29th. We are also pleased to welcome special guests The Past Tense to the party so please come along, it promises to be a great night!

For more photos head over and "Like" the Retro Man Blog Facebook page for access to the Photo Album. Here's a video of The Fallen Leaves on the night with "Against The Grain".