Saturday 31 May 2014

The Galileo 7 "False Memory Lane" New Album Out Now!

The Galileo 7 have just released their brand new album "False Memory Lane" on Fools Paradise Records and it is crammed full of melodic Psychedelic Pop nuggets that are a worthy addition to the timeline and heritage of the best of great British Psych, Freakbeat, Garage Rock and Power Pop. From Syd Barrett to Julian Cope, from The Kinks to XTC, The Beatles to Teenage Fanclub, follow the flow from Eel Pie Island via the Hammersmith Clarendon of The Playn Jayn upstream to The Medway and (of course...) The Prisoners - "False Memory Lane" continues in this fine tradition. I said "of course" when I mentioned The Prisoners as The Galileo 7 are the Medway legends' bassist Allan Crockford's very own band. Indeed, after playing an important, but less high profile, role as bassist in The Prisoners, The Prime Movers, The Solarflares, James Taylor Quartet and The Stabilisers, Allan now takes centre-stage as the main singer songwriter and guitarist with Galileo 7 and the good thing is that he has collected around him a great band that all stamp their character on the album. It's probably true that Viv Bonsels diverse keyboards and organ are the signature sound of The Galileo 7 and there's excellent drumming from Russ Baxter and fluid melodic bass from Mole of The Mystreated and The Higher State add that all important ingredient to the mix.

The Galileo 7 by Paul Slattery
First of all, the album automatically gets an extra star - if we did star ratings that is - as the official press release mentions The Soundtrack of Our Lives and, as eagle-eyed fans will already know, this Blog is named after our favourite track by the much-missed Swedish Psychedelic Rockers. No, strangely enough it's not called Retro Man because we are nostalgic retro-obsessed grumpy old gits...well, actually, now you come to mention it...! Anyway, I hadn't really thought about it but on the second track, "My Cover Is Blown", the similarities with TSOOL are there, the song has a slow burning melody with a swirling organ that suddenly bursts into life at the chorus. It's a really great song that Ebbot and Co. would have been proud to have written. But I've jumped a track, the needle must have slipped, let's go back to the opening song, "Don't Follow Me", which we played as a pre-release exclusive in Episode 13 of Retrosonic Podcast, and it's a perfect album opener that lays down a marker for what is to come. One of my highlights of the album "You're Not Dreaming", is slow paced with an insistent guitar riff that nags it's way into your brain and will stay lodged in there for a long time to come. The title track is a pastoral little number with no bass or percussion, just acoustic guitar, atmospheric keyboards and heavily reverbed hand-claps.

Allan Crockford of The Galileo 7 by Paul Slattery
"Nobody Told You" has a baroque harpsichord intro that conjures up The Left Banke but then bursts into a swinging "ba-ba-ba-da-ba" chorus and ends with some nice fuzzed-up guitars. "Don't Know What I'm Waiting For" is another highlight, an up-tempo rocker with some nice West Coast harmonies that veers into that Primitives bubblegum rock field and this is followed by the excellent "I'm Still Here", which is probably the album's centre-piece for me. It's a wonderfully composed track that offers a positive take on the perils of getting older, "I'm still here saying the things you don't want to hear". There's some lovely guitar work on this uplifting track and I love the little aside, "I don't want to hide the twinkle in my eye". The album's closing track "Little By Little" has a heavily distorted riff, thudding drums and sinister half-whispered vocals that bring The Creation to mind, it's a great way to end a thoroughly satisfying, brilliantly realized album.

The Galileo 7 by Paul Slattery
The vinyl version of "False Memory Lane" comes with a free three track CD entitled "Mere Self Anomaly" plus download codes for the MP3 version. It's available to order from The Galileo 7 on-line store here. Or if you can always buy a copy at the Retro Man Blog "Medway Night" at The Half Moon Putney on June 06th, where the band will be on the bill along with The Len Price 3 and Graham Day & The Forefathers, with Allan making another appearance but this time on bass! 

You can hear the album's opening track "Don't Follow Me" in Episode 13 of Retrosonic Podcast along with tracks by Thee Mighty Caesars, The Prisoners, Otis Clay, Fogbound, The Chocolate Watchband, Ebbot Lundberg & The New Alchemy, The Clique, The Sonic Jewels and much more...

Please note The Galileo 7 will be ON STAGE AT 8PM sharp on June 6th so please make sure you get to The Half Moon early so you don't miss any of the action...See you there!

Wednesday 28 May 2014

The Monochrome Set with The Fallen Leaves at the Retro Man Blog Night, Half Moon Putney May 24th

The Monochrome Set by Paul Slattery
Firstly, I'd just like to say many thanks to everyone that came along on Saturday to our Retro Man Blog night at The Half Moon in Putney with The Monochrome Set and special guests The Fallen Leaves. The gig was sold out so I really appreciate the fantastic turn-out on a night that clashed, not only with many other "Blog-friendly" gigs in London, but also with various high profile football games. There was a really friendly atmosphere full of anticipation and I think both bands responded with absolutely stunning sets that rewarded the crowd perfectly. Opening the night were The Fallen Leaves and they always seem to rise to the occasion at The Half Moon, they just seem to be made for each other. Rob Green is the consummate front-man, with his tweed jacket and cravat, he's like a conjurer delving into his bag of tricks to keep us entertained. At various points he will pull out a whistle or a tambourine, he will blow perfect smoke rings from his electronic cigarette and during "Shining" takes off his jacket, rolls up his sleeves, pulls his armband tight against the veins and helps himself to a fix of PG Tips from his thermos flask. He sips his tea, gazing out at the crowd, the man with that deep resonant crooning voice and the most expressive fingers in Garage Rock. 

Rob Green of The Fallen Leaves by Paul Hughes
Well, I say Rock, but The Fallen Leaves are almost "Anti-Rock". "No jeans, no trainers, no cover versions" is one of their mottos and they play a finely honed set that is lean, with all the bloated rock excess stripped away and flung into the mincer. Rob Symmons, the original Subway Sect guitarist, holds his guitar so high you half expect some sort of scratchy Haircut 100 sound. But instead he physically assaults his Fender, smashing the body, twisting the strings, wringing the life out of it. Most people who witness his style for the first time just stand open-mouthed in awe. In fact, I met one guy from the States at the band's 12 Bar Club residency who was so blown away that he just filmed a whole song focusing solely on Robs awesome fretwork. The American said "awesome" not me, but quite frankly it was! Like Lester Square, Rob Symmons is one of the most underrated guitarists to come out of Punk, New Wave, Post-Punk whatever you want to call it, both turning convention on it's head whilst still working within recognized melodic structures. 

The Fallen Leaves by Paul Slattery
The band's rhythm section is fast becoming one of the best around at the moment, bassist Matthew Karas, in his paisley jacket, his spidery fingers moving across his fretboard, is impassive behind his shades until he suddenly grabs a harmonica during the excellent "Passing By" and blasts a riff before chucking it over his shoulder. Drummer Bill Lewington is a real powerhouse and he plays with such venom that the 12 Bar floor is often littered with cracked drumsticks. The band play a superb selection of tracks from all three of their faultless albums with my highlights being "Against The Grain", "I Made a Mistake" and "Sylvie Says". They play some new tracks too with "Prodigal Sun" and "Lavender Girl" paving the way to a promising fourth album that will hopefully be out soon. The band get a well deserved encore and launch into the classic debut single "Trouble".

The Monochrome Set by Paul Slattery
The Monochrome Set take the stage to that familiar tribal drum beat "The Monochrome Set (I Presume") which boasts one of the best intros ever, the guitars build and we are off on a fantastic voyage through the band's back catalogue, twenty one songs in all taken from all eras. The recent songs from "Platinum Coils" and new album "Super Plastic City" sit pretty amongst all those much loved classics and are just as well received. Lester is sporting an eye-catching blue and white diamond suit and spins out these wonderful guitar riffs, as much Ennio Morricone, Surf music and Joe Meek as The Velvet Underground. Bid is in fine voice and spirits and has a beautiful twelve string red semi-acoustic Baldwin guitar and I realized that he doesn't really get enough credit for his guitar playing either. Andy Warren is as impassive as ever, legs crossed, gazing out into the middle distance and you wonder how he can stand so still whilst producing such an amazing sound from his bass. Drummer Steve Brummell with his fez and shades is excellent and I think this stripped-back four-piece is one of the best line-ups I have seen. The "big hit" "Jet Set Junta" is up next and then two tracks from "Super Plastic City", the title track and the superb "Lefty". 

Andy Warren by Paul Slattery
One of my all-time favourite tracks "Alphaville" is next before "Hip Kitten, Spinning Chrome" and "Streams" from "Platinum Coils" reinforce the strength of the new material. There's a nice surprise in "Walking With The Beast" from the thoroughly magnificent "Dante's Casino" album and it's Latino rhythm sparks off a mild "frenzy" of Dad dancing at the front of the stage. It's brilliant, the band are known to be the quintessential "Indie" band but they sure know how to get people to dance. After all that activity I was hoping for "Goodbye Joe" to slow the blood pressure down a bit but no, it's straight into "The Lighter Side of Dating" and we're off again, someone get me a seat! The ode to cross-dressing "Christine" from "Charade" is a perfectly realised Kinks-style vignette that raises a smile. There's a brief hint of The Monkees in the opening riff to "The Time I've Spent Doing Nothing" and then it's back in time to the shimmering intro to "Love Goes Down The Drain", one of The Monochrome Set's most enduring songs. "Waiting For Alberto" touches on Bid's time in hospital following his stroke, waiting for a welcome visit and the standard bag of fruit and I must say that being amongst a crowd singing "I hope it's not bananas, bananas make me ill!" was quite bizarre.

Lester Square by Paul Slattery
"Ici Les Enfants" from "Strange Boutique" leads into the sing-along "Cowboy Country", what is it all about by the way? Next up, "Jacob's Ladder" and then it is the classic "Eine Symphonie Des Grauens" with it's grinding bass line that closes the main set in some style. The band are called back and play "The Wilderness" from "Dante's Casino" before slamming into "He's Frank" and off they go again...but it's not enough for the crowd and the band return with the sinister rumblings of "They Call Me Silence" and the always wonderful "The Devil Rides Out". "Hail" echo the crowd, yes indeed, all hail The Monochrome Set! Tonight was one of the best shows I have seen the band play and with the wealth of excellent new material at their side the future looks very promising for the band indeed. 

Steve Brummell by Paul Slattery
Rob Green of The Fallen Leaves by Paul Slattery
The Monochrome Set by Paul Slattery
Rob Symmons of The Fallen Leaves by Paul Hughes
Bid by Paul Hughes
The Monochrome Set by Paul Slattery
The Fallen Leaves by Paul Slattery
With thanks to Bid, Lester, Andy and Steve, The Fallen Leaves, Caryne & Dave, Carrie, Joe & Anthony at The Half Moon, photographers Paul Slattery and Paul Hughes - "Hail!". For more of Paul Hughes' photographs of the night please check out his Flickr page here. You can also see more photos at the Retro Man Blog Facebook page - head over here and hit "Like" for access to the album.

Monday 26 May 2014

The Len Price 3 + Bif Bam Pow! & DJ's Piley & Mondo at the Retro Man Blog/Podrophenia Night at The Railway Hotel Southend-on-Sea April 26th

The Len Price 3 at The Railway Southend - Photo by Paul Slattery
Our first Retro Man Blog/Podrophenia night of 2014 was another great night of music, dancing and rather a lot of drinking! Headliners The Len Price 3 were back at The Railway in Southend-on-Sea to promote their fourth album "Nobody Knows". The band played a blinder, almost literally, as a flying drum stick nearly hit a promoter in the eye! Luckily there was no need to stop the gig for medical treatment and The Len Price 3 didn't miss a beat as they powered on to deliver a superb set packed full of tracks from the new album and those much loved classics such as "Rentacrowd", "Pictures" and "If I Ain't Got You". One of the highlights of the band's recent gigs has been "Nobody Knows" closing track "The London Institute", it's developing into a real crowd favourite and probably points the way to the future for the band - stretching their songwriting to a different dimension while not losing any of their trademark power and energy. With their recent spate of gigs, the band just keep getting better and better and if you haven't seen them play yet then now is the time! 

Bif Bam Pow! by Paul Slattery
Opening up the night were the excellent Canvey Island based Pub Rockin' band Bif Bam Pow! who were the perfect act to get everyone warmed up with their take on some great raw Blues, Soul and R'n'B tracks. To round off a great evening everyone reconvened down in the Railway's bar to dance along to Piley & Mondo's eclectic mix of music which never fails to keep the atmosphere going.

The Len Price 3 by Paul Slattery
With many thanks to Fi, Dave and all the staff and gang at The Railway, Duncan, Bif Bam Pow! and of course my lovely co-hosts and top DJ's Piley & Mondo from Podrophenia. Many thanks indeed go to Paul Slattery and Paul Hughes for the excellent photos, you can see more great pics of the goings on throughout the evening at Paul Hughes Flickr page here.

The effect the new LP3 album can have on you...! Photo by Paul Hughes
You can read a nice review of The Len Price 3's recent show at The 12 Bar Club with The Fallen Leaves by none other than Leigh Heggarty, guitarist with Ruts DC, TV Smith and Back To Zero. You can check out his excellent Blog "Leigh's Mad World of Guitars" here

The Len Price 3 at The Railway Southend by Paul Slattery

Ebbot Lundberg: "The Homo Futurus E.P." and "Be Careful What You Wish For! The Embryonic Outtakes Phase 1"

"Yesterday was another level, now we're out to make something better..." sings Ebbot Lundberg over the ridiculously catchy melodic sway of "Sunshine", and you know what, he's right. The release of a new six song E.P. "Homo Futurus" and it's intriguing companion-piece, the Record Store Day limited edition vinyl and cassette album "Be Careful What You Wish For! The Embryonic Outtakes Phase 1", is by far the best thing Ebbot has done since The Soundtrack of Our Lives called it a day at the end of 2012. Firstly, I have to say that the album itself is a thing of simple beauty, released on the excellent Swedish label Kning Disk, it's limited to 500 copies, has hand-stamped labels and comes in a pure white individually numbered sleeve with lyric inserts. Lovely!

The album is basically a collection of sixteen tracks recorded as raw and basic as you can get in what appears to be one take. It's just Ebbot with acoustic guitar, backed up by Carl Johansson on a couple of songs, a smattering of percussion, simple keyboards in the background and vocal harmonies and effects every now and then but that is all. You can hear the occasional snippet of background chat, a cough here and there and the odd false start of a song intro, but as the title says, these are "embryonic outtakes", sketches of songs that work in their own stripped-down right but promise more great things to come in the future. "Here I am again" is the the album's opening statement and Ebbot continues "with all the unfinished dreams I had before...when the songbird would sing...", it's almost as if he has come to terms with the ending of The Soundtrack of Our Lives and has found his muse again. I mean, it took me almost a year after they split to be able to write about the end of the greatest Rock 'n' Roll band ever and I'm just a fan, it hit me so hard! It must have been so difficult to leave the confines of such a tight-knit outfit as TSOOL after such a long and distinguished career to go out and try again on your own.

Ebbot in London 2012 - Photo by Paul Slattery
But I suppose being in a band can have certain restraints and Ebbot certainly threw off the shackles and dived into as many diverse opportunities as possible once the band ended. One minute he could be found guesting on an eclectic mix of records by bands such as Caviare Days and La Fleur Fatale or the next reinventing himself as a Johnny Cash style acoustic troubadour. He has released a one song 43 minute ambient opus called "There's Only One Of Us Here" and reconvened with Per Svensson to release the second New Alchemy album "On The Other Side of Light", a masterclass in classic Psychedelia. Most bizarrely of all, he became a household name in Sweden with his appearance on the hugely popular reality music TV show "Så Mycket Bättre". But to me, despite this impressive work ethic, it felt as though he was searching to find his own voice again. The "Homo Erectus E.P." released under his own name was a bit disappointing to be honest, the main track "D Day Dreamer" was a Country and Western tinged acoustic ballad, "Drowning In A Wishing Well" was a pleasant piece of Burt Bacharach styled lounge-pop but I can't say it grabbed me particularly, and the less said about the third track "Över & Ut (Nu E De Slut)", the better! But here with this new collection of sketches and musical doodles he sounds as though he is bursting with energy once again, the songs radiate happiness and his voice has never been better. 
Ebbot with TSOOL, Paris 2012 - Photo by Steve Worrall
As if a whole album of new songs was not enough, the news gets even better with the release of the "The Homo Futurus E.P." on Warner Music Sweden. Four of the six songs were taken from the "Be Careful What You Wish For!" album and you can really see how those little embryonic outtakes have developed into fully grown songs ready to get out there and take on the world. Recorded with a superb new backing band, The Indigo Children, who include members of the young hotly-tipped Psychedelic band Side Effects, Martin McFaul and Daniel Gilbert. This is by far the best material that Ebbot has released post-TSOOL and indeed three of the numbers are good enough to rub shoulders with the very best of Soundtrack's hugely impressive back catalogue. The E.P. starts off with a jazzy double bass run and then bursts into a slightly sinister sea shanty "I Totally Agree" which brings to mind the little psychedelic vignettes on earlier TSOOL albums such as "Aqua Vera". But it's what comes next that blew my mind. "Backdrop People" is a stunning song that could be a huge hit single in it's own right, driven along at a fair pace, it is a melodic masterpiece with a nice background sheen of what sounds like mandolin and sitar. Next up is a track "Dysfunctional" that doesn't feature on the album and it threw me completely. There's a huge pounding drum beat and an insanely catchy guitar riff that reminded me of The Knack's "My Sharona", it makes you want to leap to your feet and dance around the room. The chorus "d-d-d-d-dysfunctional" will stick in your head for days and the song just goes crazy, underpinned with some fantastic fluid bass playing the guitars go wild.

Ebbot at the last ever London show 2012 by Paul Slattery
The first time I met Ebbot we chatted about our mutual appreciation of Black Flag and the American Hardcore Punk scene of the Eighties but it's not an influence I have ever noticed on his post-Union Carbide Productions music to be honest, however "Dysfunctional" builds to a complete power-house guitar thrash that Bad Brains would be proud of, it's an outstanding and gob-smacking song. Next up is one of my highlights from the "Be Careful What You Wish For!" album, "To Be Continued", transformed here into a wonderful orchestral version that is a match for TSOOL's "Nevermore" in it's heart-tugging beauty. There's Love style brass and an absolutely stunning acoustic guitar outro that fades nicely into another jazzy little interlude. The final song "Killing My Darlings" starts off in an acoustic-folk style and builds with some lovely keyboards and hints that he has indeed found his real niche. "I'm sad but I'm letting you know that I'm cutting you out of my show", is he talking to his ex-band-mates I wonder? "There's nothing you've done wrong but in this you don't belong". Yes, indeed Ebbot is here again, and so are the songbirds!

B&W photo Boel Ferm. With thanks to Paul Slattery and to Hans Selander from SelanderArt.

Are you a disenfranchised Soundtrack of Our Lives fan? Are you missing your fix of those great live shows, superb albums cracking singles and fun times? Well, don't worry come along and get some "Group Therapy" at the TSOOL's Fan's Facebook Page and Archive to join up with other lost souls sharing photos, memorabilia, videos and memories. Come and join us HERE.

Saturday 24 May 2014

Roddy Frame at The Shepherd's Bush Empire May 22nd + Unseen Aztec Camera photo by Paul Slattery from 1980

Roddy Frame - Photo copyright Richard Wood 2014
Roddy Frame played a rare live show last night to a packed out Shepherd's Bush Empire in support of his excellent new record "Seven Dials" and he achieved the unusual feat of playing over half of the album without, as he wryly commented "sending everyone scuttling off to the bar". He seemed genuinely moved by the rapt attention given to the new songs, and he was right when he said he loved the sound of silence between his songs. The blight of big gigs like this, and why I generally avoid them, is the modern day habit of people, not only chattering away between songs but during them too. I remember seeing The Go-Betweens at the same venue and losing my rag with some idiots for talking and laughing all the way through "Finding You", one of the most beautiful songs ever written! But thankfully Roddy's audience seem as nice as the man himself! I want to hate Roddy Frame, he looks preposterously youthful for his fifty years of age, stick thin and a full head of hair, I take a quick look at the guys in the crowd around me and notice a comforting amount of balding pates, glasses and expanding waist-lines, yep, I feel a bit better now! I think that his audience must be an Oscar Wilde "portrait", as we all get older and suffer the ravages of ageing, Roddy just seems to get younger. Not only is he an extremely talented singer, and guitarist but he seems annoyingly good-natured too, his between song banter is worthy of a stand-up routine in it's own right. 

Roddy Frame - Photo copyright Richard Wood 2014
Girls look on admiringly, there are shouts of "we love you Roddy" every now and then and guys think how nice it must be to have a pint or two and a good chat with him. He's a music fan, he knows the score, he  gently mocks the anorak tendencies of fans - "do you want more of the technical stuff and background to all the songs?" he asks. He also has a dig at journalists for misinterpreting his lyrics, "Someone said this song is about death, it's not, I'm only fifty for god's sake!" He then goes off on a tangent, musing that maybe he would have been more critically acclaimed if he'd have popped his clogs after his third album. But he's certainly alive and kicking, in fact he is positively bursting with energy, bouncing around as though he's in a boxing ring, a huge grin spreads across his face. 

Roddy Frame - Photo copyright Steve Worrall 2014
Tonight he is backed by the same band that performed with him on the "High Land, Hard Rain" gigs last year, but I think I prefer to see Roddy play solo gigs, just him and his acoustic guitar, as some of the arrangements seem a bit too much for me. There's the odd bit of guitar rocking-out that grates and the drummer is a bit snare-heavy. However, it does allow Roddy to showcase his versatility and he mixes up the performances nicely, switching from electric to acoustic guitars and back again. My highlights were the more subtle and moving movements of the gig such as a stunning version of "On The Avenue" from Frestonia where he is accompanied solely by the piano, and his voice takes on another dimension, he delivers it beautifully. "Killermont Street" is another stand-out but somewhat surprisingly it's a new song that really grabbed me, "Into The Sun" is surely destined to grow into a classic alongside "Oblivious" and "Somewhere In My Heart" and all his other big hits. 

Photo Copyright Richard Wood 2014
I was a bit disappointed not to get anything from "Surf", or indeed "Western Skies", but I suppose these are more suited to his one-man acoustic shows and I can't be greedy when we get treated to a great version of "The North Star", and an exuberant "Bigger Brighter Better", two of my favourites from his solo out-put. He is a truly underrated guitarist too, his intricate Flamenco flourishes and deft fretwork just make you gawp open-mouthed at his sheer dexterity. He really should get more credit, he's right up there with the greats. Early Aztec Camera single "Mattress of Wire" and a truly uplifting version of "We Could Send Letters" were also superbly performed and lapped up by the crowd and the set closes with a sweet and soulful "Back On Board". So, a thoroughly enjoyable night out in the company of Roddy Frame, let's hope it won't be so long until his next London gig.

Roddy Frame - Photo copyright Richard Wood 2014
With thanks to Richard Wood for the great photos, please check out more of his pictures here.

For our report on Roddy playing Aztec Camera's "High Land, Hard Rain" last December please check out the Blog archive feature here. Now, as a little bonus here is a previously unpublished photo of Aztec Camera taken in 1980 by Retro Man Blog contributor Paul Slattery...

Aztec Camera in 1980 - Copyright Paul Slattery

Tuesday 20 May 2014

The Kinks "Sunny Afternoon" by Ray Davies & Joe Penhall at The Hampstead Theatre, London

Photo Copyright Dominic Clemence
A musical about The Kinks put me in a bit of a dilemma, I mean I love The Kinks yet I have a serious aversion to musicals, what to do? Well, I decided to go along once I heard that Ray Davies was involved in the initial story and in the end I am very glad that I did. In fact the only annoying thing about the whole experience was that the run at the excellent Hampstead Theatre is now completely sold out so I have no chance of going back to see it again. So, rest easy music fans, this stunning production by Director Edward Hall is no cheesy “Mamma Mia” song-and-dance show, it’s more like a gig with The Kinks own story weaving through it. Of course, as per all bands with a fanatical following, I am sure that "Sunny Afternoon" will be mulled over, holes picked and authenticity questioned. But this is Ray Davies’ own version of events turned into a sparkling, witty script by Joe Penhall. Settling in to my seat, I have to say that the set by Miriam Buether is absolutely stunning, the stage walls are adorned with hundreds of speaker cabinets all bathed in a warm orange glow, it’s visually very impressive. Hall has assembled a small but multi-talented cast of actors and musicians who swap effortlessly between various roles and instruments. 

Photo Copyright Shaun Webb
Ray is played brilliantly by John Dagleish who captures the slightly downbeat demeanour and vocal mannerisms of The Kinks front man very well, although his resemblance to Paul McCartney is a bit disconcerting at first! It would appear that Dave Davies hasn’t endorsed “Sunny Afternoon”; in fact it probably wouldn’t be in the grand Kinks “tradition” if he had, but it is rather a shame as George Maguire, who plays Dave, steals the show with his exuberant performance and superb musicianship. Somewhat ironically, the crowd seem to warm far more to Dave’s lovable rogue than they do to Ray’s cautious, serious nature. The Kinks are completed by Ned Derrington as Pete Quaife on bass and Adam Sopp as Mick Avory on drums. Adam in particular is a quite phenomenal drummer and together the four recreate The Kinks sound in spectacular fashion and there is a genuine buzz when in the opening scene the band kick in with a powerful version of “I Gotta Move”. 

Photo Copyright Dominic Clemence
The fast flowing action takes in most of the important scenes in Kinks history. We are taken to the lively Davies family home in Muswell Hill with name checks to Ray’s beloved Arsenal and local pub The Clissold Arms. The brothers are in their bedroom working on the riff to “You Really Got Me” but they can’t get the grungy sound they are after until they take a knitting needle to Dave’s amp and finally that famous fuzzed-up distorted sound is born. "What we want is raw sonic violence". Stockbroker Robert Wace, and his equally upper class friend Grenville Collins, played with comic perfection by Dominic Tighe and Tam Williams, become the band’s well respected joint managers and they tie up the band in a head-spinning contract and publishing deal. Then set about trying to create an image for the band, “with your looks you need a gimmick” and there follows an amusing scene as they rummage through a wardrobe of outlandish costumes. They finally settle on outfits with thigh-length boots, Dave grabs a whip, “You look like Kinks” says Grenville, “We look like perverts” dead pans Avory and they burst into a rousing version of "Dedicated Follower of Fashion". 

Photo Copyright Dominic Clemence
We see the different effects of fame and success on the two brothers, whilst Ray is shown to be uncomfortable with the trappings of stardom, prone to homesickness and depression. He meets Rasa, a confident girl with a broad Yorkshire accent and a love of the Blues and they fall in love. Rasa is played wonderfully by Lillie Flynn and her and Dagleish have a real chemistry, especially during a moving duet of "Strange Effect". Ray confides in Rasa that he is haunted by the  tragedy of Rene, his beloved sister who passed away on his thirteenth birthday from a heart condition, on the very day she bought him his first guitar. Meanwhile his younger brother takes to the Rock 'n' Roll lifestyle with gusto, living up to his nickname "Dave the Rave". This is where Maguire excels, whether he is swinging across the stage on a chandelier dressed in a pink nightdress clutching a bottle of bubbly or crashing an axe in a Hotel's reception desk.

Photo Copyright Dominic Clemence
Despite the success, tensions surface within the band, and at a gig in Cardiff they play “Where Have All the Times Gone" which is sizzling with barely controlled aggression, the lyrics seem to perfectly sum up the mood in the camp. Mick snaps and attacks Dave with his hi-hat stand knocking him out. Suddenly there's chaos with Dave lying unconscious on the stage, flashing lights and sirens going off all round and Mick being chased around the auditorium by the police. Ray is left alone on the stage bewildered. “Only a mad man would tour America with this lot". But off to America they go, only to be met by a wall of red tape and raised eyebrows over the band's name and appearance "you guys make the Rolling Stones look like US Marines" quips a Policeman. There’s pressure from all angles as the band refuse to pay their dues, “Are you communists?” one journalist asks, "No, we're working class socialists from Muswell Hill" says Dave and they launch into a sinister "I'm Not like Anybody Else". This stand-off with the unions sees The Kinks refused work permits and they are banned from performing in America for the next four years. They return home to Ray's dad telling them "sod's law, the most working class band in the business get brought down by the unions!"

Photo Copyright Dominic Clemence
Allen Klein replaces Grenville and Robert as the band's new manager and "the couple of old Tories having the time of their lives" bid farewell with a lovely acapella version of "Days". As the song draws to a close grown men clap that little bit louder to drown out the sound of lumps in throats being cleared. There's a lightening of the mood and we're in the studio with the band as they work on a new song and a familiar descending bass line rings out. "The songs were always about us" says Ray and they launch into a stunning version of "Waterloo Sunset" with Dagleish capturing Ray's voice with it's slight lisp perfectly. Then we switch to Madison Square Garden, and with their huge hit "Lola" The Kinks have finally cracked America, revenge is sweet. We are treated to a medley of "All Day and All of The Night” and "You Really Got Me" and the crowd really get into it, leaping to their feet and singing along at the top of their voices. "Lola" raises the roof and ends with the cast basking in a  huge round of rapturous and well-deserved applause.  

The Pete Quaife Foundation has been set up in memory of The Kinks bassist and co-founder to give children on dialysis some means of enjoyment, interest or entertainment while undergoing treatment. For more information on how to make donations please visit the site here.

Denmark Street, London's iconic Tin Pan Alley and home of Regent Sounds Studio where The Kinks, Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix once recorded, is under threat from developers. Lets fight the "Powerman" and ensure this historic street is not bulldozed into another soulless shopping mall. There is a fast growing campaign centered around Denmark Street's legendary 12 Bar Club, so please join in, sign the petition and spread the word! Check out more details here.

You can still see our very own photographic walking tour of some of The Kinks' north London landmarks including The Clissold Arms, the Davies family home, Konk Studio, Fortismere School, Les Aldrich Music shop, Lane Cafe, The Archway Tavern and more in our Blog archive here.

Photos by used by kind permission, with many thanks to Becky and Jess at the Hampstead Theatre.

Monday 19 May 2014

The Damned "The Captain's Birthday" with Ruts DC & TV Smith at The Forum Kentish Town

Captain Sensible and Dave Vanian - Photo by Paul Slattery
I first saw The Damned at The Lyceum in 1981, my second ever gig, and it is etched forever in my memory as being one of the best shows I have ever been to. Mind you, at the time I would not have imagined that over 30 years later I'd still be going to see them play and ironically enough the set-list was pretty similar too, with most tracks being taken from "The Black Album" and "Machine Gun Etiquette", so no complaints from me. Tonight's show was a very special celebration of Captain Sensible's 60th birthday along with guests TV Smith, Tenpole Tudor, Johnny Moped and Ruts DC.

Captain Sensible introduces TV Smith - Photo by Steve Worrall
I made it just in time to see the Captain introduce TV Smith, who for the first time in the U.K. was joined by Vom from Dr. & The Medics and Die Toten Hosen on drums. I have only ever seen TV perform alone with an acoustic guitar so Vom added a totally different dimension, a powerful backing to TV's heartfelt songs and it suited the large auditorium of The Forum. We were treated to a selection of his solo songs like "Immortal Rich" and "It's Expensive Being Poor" along with some choice cuts by The Adverts such as "No Time To Be 21" and "Gary Gilmore's Eyes". I missed Tenpole Tudor and Johnny Moped but it was time for The Damned and they opened up with "Wait For The Blackout" and "Lively Arts" and proceeded to play some of my favorites such as "Stranger on The Town", "Disco Man" and "I Just Can't Be Happy Today". Captain introduced "Happy Talk", "well it's my birthday!" and they play a Punked-up version of his biggest hit. "New Rose" brings the house down and "Neat Neat Neat" closes the main set to wild applause. The encore starts off with "Glad It's All Over" and then at the shout of "Smash It Up" balloons and confetti rain down on the crowd. It was a great set by The Damned and nice to hear a few less well known numbers thrown in. Ruts DC played a really impressive set too, a mixture of their dub reggae tracks and excellent newer material such as "Mighty Soldier" which was one of my highlights. The band build up to a crowd pleasing selection of Ruts classics such as "Staring At The Rude Boys", "Babylon's Burning" and "In A Rut" and leave the crowd wanting more. Paul Slattery was in the photographers pit and now he has finally cleaned all the confetti from his lens has kindly contributed these great photos...

The Damned by Paul Slattery
The Damned by Paul Slattery
The Damned by Paul Slattery
The Damned by Paul Slattery
The Damned by Paul Slattery
The Damned by Paul Slattery
Ruts DC by Paul Slattery
Ruts DC by Paul Slattery
Ruts DC by Paul Slattery
With thanks to Leigh Heggarty and to Paul Slattery.

For our very special Retrosonic Podcast with TV Smith, which features an exclusive acoustic session, please check out the Retrosonic Soundcloud page or listen/download below...