Monday 16 June 2014

Retrosonic Podcast: The Pubmonkey Podcast with The Len Price 3's Glenn Page & Pubmonkey Writer Jamie O'Hara

Welcome to the Pubmonkey Podcast in which we are joined by the movie's writer Jamie O'Hara who also acts in the film, and Glenn Page, the singer, songwriter and guitarist with The Len Price 3. The band wrote and performed the film's score, a fine selection of their songs make up the soundtrack and they also make a cameo appearance at the very end. We are pleased to announce that the Podcast features some so far unheard and unreleased incidental music from the movie's soundtrack. The promo video to "Swing Like a Monkey" also features footage and characters from Pubmonkey and was performed during the last day of filming at the Antelope in Tooting, South London. 

In the Podcast Jamie tells us all about the making of the film, a truly inspiring tale of real against-the-odds D.I.Y. spirit and cooperation. Then Glenn and Jamie talk about how the band got involved and what it was like to write cinematic music to match the images. Jamie told Retro Man Blog earlier "We’d done about seven or eight days of principle shooting for Pubmonkey and it was about time to start seriously thinking about music. I’d followed The Len Price 3 for a few years and thought they were one of the best and most underrated bands around. We thought it was a bit of a long shot to get them involved, but we thought they'd be a perfect fit. The original script for Pubmonkey had been inspired by the same kinds of Medway misfits that informed their work. 

The Len Price 3 and some of the cast and crew at the after screening party
It was suggested that we'd ask them for one song, while we hoped to get them to do more, to use their music almost like another character. We thought it would be good to apply the band’s knack for writing songs that are sometimes like mini-rock-operas to a wider palette. Thankfully, they liked the script, so we met for a pint in a dingy Medway boozer and they agreed to work with us. They delivered "Swing Like a Monkey" shortly afterwards which everyone agreed was a perfect fit for the main theme, with its seedy Mancini-esque organ line and typically brilliant lyric. When it came to shooting the final scene, we'd always hoped to use some footage of the band. To cast them as themselves, playing a function band, capturing their unique look and a bit of their humour, while attempting to get a sense of their boundless live energy".

Phil Deguara as Eddie and Jamie O'Hara as Bingo
We first reported that The Len Price 3 were going to feature in the movie Pubmonkey back on the Blog here in November 2012, and after two and half years of filming, recording, editing and a lot of bloody hard work from Director Jean-Claude Deguara, Writer Jamie O'Hara and their team, which mostly consisted of an impressive number of family and friends, we finally got to see the completed film. So, on Friday we attended a private screening of the the first ever showing of the movie at the British Film Institute on the South Bank along with the crew, cast and their families. It might have been a long wait, but it was certainly worth it, the film is a resounding success and testament to all those involved. I spoke to lead actor Phil Deguara after the screening and said how impressed I was that an Independent movie could look so impressive, "It's not really an Independent film" Phil said "as most Independents have some sort of financial backing and we didn't". 

The Len Price 3 with the cast and crew of Pubmonkey
It makes it even more impressive as the finished product is brilliantly directed and shot and just looks amazing. The camera work, considering most of it was shot guerrilla style, is excellent, particularly on the stunning opening sequence. The script is witty and the action fast, furious and keeps your attention right to the very end, but it's the acting that really struck me. There are some great performances throughout, particularly from Phil who plays chronic loser Eddie the Pubmonkey brilliantly. He perfectly captures a man desperately trying to avoid work and responsibility, hanging around in pubs cadging free drinks from his role as a kind of modern day court jester. Lodging with ultra-violent obsessive-compulsive debt collector Bingo, a jaw-dropping performance by Jamie O'Hara himself, hard to believe it's his first ever acting role, everything changes for Eddie when he meets Candi (the excellent Ruth Galliers) and falls in love. He struggles to hold down work with a building firm and then gets stuck in a boring job as a shoe shop employee. 

The Len Price 3 with Pubmonkey Writer and Actor Jamie O'Hara
His maturity and love for Candi is soon to be tested when one morning he receives a phone call from an irate drug addict known as Loonie Noonie saying that he has kidnapped Candi and is demanding his cocaine back. Eddie knows nothing about the cocaine so he then decides to rally a bunch of people including Bingo and some of the more dubious characters from his old building firm and sets off on a bizarre rescue attempt. The hostage situation gets worse as Loonie and his henchman Dodgy Roger, become increasingly intoxicated and dangerous. Loonie Noonie is played by Alastair Barley with such unhinged manic energy that after the screening people are a bit wary of approaching the actor, who thankfully turns out to be far nicer in real life! Meanwhile Eddie begins to discover just how many of the people he knows are already involved in the deal...

As Jamie says in the Podcast, there are plans to do something unusual and different with the screenings, maybe along with a live set from The Len Price 3 and hopefully we can be involved in some way. Please keep a check on the Blog for news on the official release and screening dates or better still head on over to the Pubmonkey official Facebook page and hit "Like" for up-to-date info. With thanks to Glenn and Jamie for their hospitality during our trip to The Medway. 

You can listen to and download the Podcast below or visit the Retrosonic Podcast Soundcloud page.

The Len Price 3 will be headlining the Retro Man Blog Night at the Half Moon Putney on September 26th along with The Past Tense and Les Kitschenette's. The last two Retro Man Blog Night's sold out so book in advance from the box office here to save some money and guarantee you get in!

Saturday 14 June 2014

Graham Day & The Forefathers, The Len Price 3 and The Galileo 7 at Retro Man Blog Night, Half Moon Putney June 06th

The Forefathers: Graham Day, Wolf Howard & Allan Crockford by Paul Slattery
I remember a couple of years ago back in an early episode of our Retrosonic Podcast, Episode 3 to be precise, we bemoaned the fact that Graham Day was not involved in music any more since he disbanded The Gaolers. Then about a year later the news came like some sort of divine intervention that he had decided to get back and play live with a new band called The Forefathers featuring his trusty bass playing side-kick Allan Crockford from The Prisoners and The Solarflares, and drummer Wolf Howard. This time round there was no new material though, it was a band set up purely to celebrate the best of a quite remarkable back catalogue. When we recorded that Podcast we would never have believed that one day we would be here, at The Half Moon, hosting Graham Day & The Forefathers at one of our Retro Man Blog nights, a dream come true and an honour indeed. 

The Galileo 7 by Paul Slattery
We decided to base the night around the recently released book about the Medway Garage Rock scene, "The Kids Are All Square" by Ian Snowball and Bob Collins, and invited along our pals The Len Price 3 and then persuaded Allan to do a double-shift with his own band The Galileo 7, as it tied in perfectly with the release of their excellent brand new album "False Memory Lane". There was a real buzz about the gig in the days building up to June 06th, and although it sold out weeks in advance, we weren't able to relax as the pleading for spare tickets reached fever pitch right up to doors opening. And when those doors opened it was encouraging to see a healthy number of people getting into the venue early to see The Galileo 7. It's always a slight worry when putting on three bands as the opening act has to start probably a bit earlier then they would like, a time when most people are still getting the beers in, but there was no need to worry tonight. With "False Memory Lane" building on the previous two albums impressive body of well crafted Psychedelic Pop songs and picking up some excellent reviews and feedback along the way, it wasn't surprising that people wanted to catch the band. We were treated to a perfectly plotted set-list where the new numbers fitted in seamlessly amongst those more familiar songs. The opening track of the night "Not Gonna Miss You" takes R.E.M.'s "Pop Song" riff and twists it through the blender and then we get a track from the new album "My Cover Is Blown Now" which starts off slowly with a great keyboard riff from Viv Bonsels and suddenly takes off with a powerful and catchy chorus. 

Viv Bonsels of Galileo 7 by Paul Slattery
The Galileo 7 by Paul Slattery
One of my favourite tracks "Orangery Lane" has a great Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd chorus and bass player Mole (ex-Mystreated and State Records boss) also chips in with some nice vocal harmonies. The excellent guitar riff intro to "Anne Hedonia" heralds the opening track from the "Staring at the Sound" album, and there's a touch of Blur's "Modern Life Is Rubbish" album in there somewhere. Next track "Nobody Told You" from "False Memory Lane" has a whimsical harpsichord sounding intro and features some great drumming from Russ Baxter. One of the highlights of the set is the tuneful "Don't Know What I'm Waiting For" with Viv on lead vocals which reminds me of The Primitives. For me, the new album's centre-piece is "I'm Still Here" and tonight it's really great, proving that Allan is much more than that trusty side-kick and can compose some excellent songs under his own name. "The Only One You're Hurting (Is You)" is next and then it's "Don't Follow Me", the excellent opener to the new album which you can hear in Retrosonic Podcast Episode 13. The band end a well received show with "Are We Having Fun Yet?" Yes, we most certainly are!

The Len Price 3 by Paul Slattery
The Len Price 3 always seem to save their best for The Half Moon, in fact it has become a kind of second home for them away from their Medway roots and tonight, with the marker laid down by The Galileo 7 and the thought of playing before Graham Day, they seem to up their game even more than usual. They take the stage, a crunching guitar riff, a barked "2,3,4..!" and slam straight into a crazed "Girl Like You" that almost takes the roof off the venue. Singer and guitarist Glenn Page is strutting around with crazed eyes. The impossibly tuneful "You Tell Lies" is next and it's probably the catchiest song about infidelity ever written. The moving tribute "My Grandad Jim" is one of the most popular tracks from the latest album "Nobody Knows" and people sing along at the top of their voices. "Swing Like a Monkey" from the new movie "Pubmonkey" is next and it does suffer slightly from the lack of the recorded version's wonderful keyboard riff. Glenn dedicates the song to the "Pubmonkey" writer and big Len Price 3 fan, Jamie O'Hara, who is in the crowd tonight. 

Neil Fromow of The Len Price 3 by Paul Slattery
We went along to see the first screening of the film at the BFI and will be releasing a very special edition of Retrosonic Podcast which features Jamie and Glenn talking about the making of the movie and of the band's involvement with the score and soundtrack. I can promise that any fan of The Len Price 3 is going to absolutely love "Pubmonkey" so keep and eye out for the Podcast. The band's signature track "Rentacrowd" is next and highlights drummer Neil Fromow's great backing vocals perfectly. Neil's harmonies are as much a vital part of The Len Price 3's sound as his Keith Moon styled drumming. On "Preying Mantis" Steve Huggins treats his bass as an offensive weapon and swings it wildly about, lost in the music, it's a dangerous place to be at the front of the stage! 

The Len Price 3 by Paul Slattery
"The Girl Who Became A Machine" racks up the energy even more but "Lonely" slows the pace a bit and we get a slight breather. That doesn't last long as "Pictures", "Words Won't Come" and "Billy Mason" get the adrenaline pumping again. The band's only cover version "Comanche!" sees Glenn leap into the audience but make it back in time for a raucous "With Your Love". The last track of the night is the fantastic "The London Institute" which has sort of evolved into an unexpected crowd favourite. The band come back for a well deserved encore with the now traditional audience participation sing-along of "Shirley Crabtree", Jamie and Andy from The Past Tense can't hold back and jump up on stage to join in the fun and dance along, prompting Glenn to comment that this was "the rehearsals for the new series of Strictly Come Dancing!" Some in the crowd later commented that this was one of the band's best ever performances and it would be hard to disagree. Let's see if they can better this when they headline the Half Moon in their own right on September 26th.

Graham Day & The Forefathers by Paul Slattery
It's quite difficult to review the Graham Day & The Forefathers set, mainly as I was right down the front and totally immersed in the quite stunning selection of songs that the band played. It's never easy to review your own gigs, not just because it's hard to be completely objective, but usually there's so much work to do on the night making sure everything runs smoothly that it all just flies past so quickly. However, tonight I was determined to make sure I really enjoyed and experienced the Forefathers and not have any regrets about missing out on the fun. So I managed to get front and centre as Graham, Wolf and Allan took the stage and launched into a stunning version of The Solarflares "Mary" from the brilliant "Psychedelic Tantrum" album. Tonight's set was heavy on The Solarflares and Gaolers songs, they certainly played less Prisoners material than they did at their previous two London gigs, and there was nothing from The Prime Movers at all. But with such a strong back catalogue of material from all four line-ups, something's got to give. "You Want Blood" was immense, a swaggering classic that prompted the crowd to get right into the action.

Wolf Howard by Paul Slattery
The Small Faces style strut of The Prisoners "Be On Your Way" caused many a lump in throat and it's testament to the band that you forget about the huge chunks of James Taylor's mighty Hammond that are missing. "I might play guitar, but don't ask me to play something that you know..." sings Graham on The Gaolers wonderful "Just a Song" and he goes on to add "Don't judge me, begrudge me, it's just a song...". This might explain the lack of Prisoners material, but it's also an honest plea, there's no deep meaning or message in the lyrics but there is a real heart and passion behind the song-writing. I might have to disagree though, to me these are far more than "just" songs", and looking around me and noticing the sheer joy on people's faces, I don't think I'd be the only one! When you get back-to-back classics such as "Inside of a Dream", "Lost Without My Dignity" and then the timeless "Whenever I'm Gone" you have to say that Graham Day must be one of the U.K.'s best ever songwriters. The Gaolers "Something About You Girl" shows that he might not think his lyrics have enough deep meaning to be analysed but this modern day update of The Kinks "Lola", proves he has a wicked sense of humour in his writing. "Love Me Lies" from The Prisoners "Wisermiserdemelza" album is great and has just been re-recorded by The Forefathers and released as a limited edition clear vinyl 7" on State Records, copies of which were on sale at tonight's gig.

Allan Crockford with Galileo 7 by Paul Slattery
The soulful groove of my personal all time favourite Prisoners track "Deceiving Eye" gets a huge reception and the "mosh pit of 40 somethings" as Allan dryly notes, goes even wilder. Allan's fluid bass lines and backing vocal harmonies and Wolf's superb drumming really bring these songs to life. "Sucking Out My Insides" is a fuzzed up beast and grown men are thrust against monitors in the well mannered "frenzy". With it's strap line of "If it thrills me that's alright" it kind of sets the tone for the whole evening. The band close the set with a rousing version of "Get Off My Track" by The Gaolers, the other two of whom are actually in the crowd tonight which was a nice touch. Of course the band are called back for an encore and "I'm Coming Home", segues into the great bass intro to "Begging You" then Allan announces it's "jukebox request time" and it's The Prisoners "Till The Morning Light" from "A Taste of Pink!". "I know I nicked the chorus to that song, but it's nice isn't it?" says Graham and then there's a nice touch when he picks out an ex-pat who has travelled from Arizona for the show and asks what his favourite song is. The delighted fan replies "I Am The Fisherman" and the band end on a marvellous version of the song that leaves us all exhausted but satisfied and very, very happy. As I said earlier it's difficult to be objective, and even if I was I would have to admit that this was indeed one of those very special nights where you just had to have been there!

Graham Day by Paul Slattery
With many thanks to Carrie, Joe and Anthony and all the staff at The Half Moon, Eric for the poster design, Allan and all the bands, Paul Slattery for the photographs and of course to everyone in the crowd who came along and helped to make it such a very special night for all involved.

Graham and Wolf by Paul Slattery
Lost in the music! - Photo by Paul Slattery
For more photos of the gig please head on over to the Retro Man Blog Facebook page and hit "Like" to subscribe and have access to the Photo Album.

The Len Price 3 will headline the Retro Man Night at The Half Moon on September 26th along with The Past Tense and Les Kitschenette's, who will be making their first ever U.K. appearance. Tickets are on sale already so get in there quick to save yourself some money and guarantee you can get in!

Sunday 8 June 2014

The Fleshtones at The Camden Underworld June 03rd with The DeRellas & The WitchDoktors

The Fleshtones by Paul Slattery
I first became aware of The Fleshtones after seeing them in the "Urgh! A Music War" movie back in the early 80's which was a must-see at the time as it featured a cool selection of alternative bands such as Dead Kennedys, The Cramps, Magazine, The Go-Go's and XTC amongst many others. There was something about the dimly lit performance of the superb "Shadowline" with it's danceable Garage Rock beat and some wicked harmonica that really appealed to me. So, I got hold of their debut album "Roman Gods" and was mightily impressed. However, right up until last Tuesday I had never seen The Fleshtones live in all those years. It was a combination of things I guess, but they rarely seemed to play in the U.K. Anyway, finally here was my chance, and despite their reputation as one of the best live acts around I was desperately hoping that I wouldn't be disappointed. I needn't have worried, in fact the only downside was the lack of people there to experience what turned out to be one of the best performances I have ever had the good fortune to witness. 

The Fleshtones by Paul Slattery
So, it was a small but extremely enthusiastic crowd that warmly greeted the band as they came out kicking, and I mean that literally as the band launched into "Hitsburg USA" with a high-kicking routine that nearly took out the entire front row! Straight away there were smiles all around as the band radiated a quite remarkable blur of multi-coloured energy. There was barely a break in the music for the whole duration of the gig, each song seemed to merge seamlessly into the next. The strap-line of Joe Bonomo's excellent book about the band "Sweat" goes "30 years, 2,000 shows, no hits, no sleep" and considering that was published in 2007 they are now pushing closer to 40 years of constant touring for little commercial reward. However as the youthful looking Keith Streng spins out the riff to "Feel Good To Feel" from the great "Take a Good Look" album, it's amazing to see the sheer joy in the eyes of the band themselves. If they harbour any resentment at never making any big break-through then they certainly don't show it, in fact you get the feeling that this could almost have been their first ever gig as they attack it with such joyful enthusiasm. 

Peter Zaremba of The Fleshtones by Paul Slattery
"Do you feel good?!" asks Peter Zaremba as the band start spinning around on the spot, "This is the spinning wheel of talent" he says and they blast into the powerful 2 minute "What You're Talking About" from their excellent brand new album "Wheel of Talent" which highlights Peter's gruff baritone voice perfectly. Bassist Ken Fox takes over lead vocals on "Let's Go!", a song he wrote for the "Laboratory of Sound" album and Peter plays some of that great harmonica. Ken is a relative "new-comer" to the band and also the youngest at a sprightly 53 years old, joining in the early 90's following some pretty impressive footsteps as previous stand-in bassists included Andy Shernoff from The Dictators and Fred Smith from Televison. It's his crunching bass line that introduces "Haunted Hipster", the first of two tracks from the "Mondo Zombie Boogaloo" album, a Halloween themed collaboration on Yep Roc Records with Southern Culture on The Skids and Los Straitjackets.
Ken Fox of The Fleshtones by Paul Slattery
It's Keith's turn on lead vocals as the busy Peter Zaremba switches to the keyboards and next up is the singalong "(Sock It To Me Baby) In The House of Shock". The pace slows slightly for the soulful groove of "Dance With The Ghoul Man" which gives us chance to catch our breath before one of the highlights of the night. A familiar drum intro from Bill Milhizer who I notice is playing standing up, then Keith plays a one note solo with his right hand and raises his left in the air, followed by Peter and Ken and then we all join in. Amazingly, so does Bill and he's not only standing up but he has his left hand raised too, he's playing the drums standing up, one handed and he's still not missing a beat, unbelievable! But what comes next really made my jaw drop, Keith and Ken lock arms and somehow both end up playing each others instruments, they move around the stage, it's quite a mind-blowing sight and really great fun. Then it's into "Theme from The Vindicators" which is closely followed by a rocking "Alright" from "Do You Swing?" and an instrumental version of The Beatles "Day Tripper" with the band ending up in amongst the audience again, it made me think that they should just abolish stages at Fleshtones gigs as the band seem to spend most of the gig in the crowd!

Keith and Ken swap instruments - Photo by Paul Slattery
The Fleshtones, like the Ramones, were originally formed in Queens in New York and they became regulars at CBGB's, playing their first gig at the legendary venue in 1976 and next up is the brilliant "Remember The Ramones" which takes us back in time to the Bowery when "The Clash and the Pistols didn't exist..." and it "was very loud and Suicide attacked the crowd..." It's a great tribute, not just lyrically but they also nail the Ramones sound perfectly too. "I Was a Teenage Zombie" has a great fist-in-the-air singalong chorus and the band just keep up the relentless pace with a cover of Teenage Head's Power Pop classic "You're Tearing Me Apart". A scorching "Pretty Pretty Pretty" is unfortunately the only track taken from the excellent "Beachhead" album, one of my favourites. 

Keith takes flight - Photo by Paul Slattery
I was hoping to hear "I Am What I Am" and "Bigger & Better", but with such a massive back catalogue of great material I guess something has to give. Then there's probably the first break of the evening but that doesn't last long as the band quickly return for an encore and the wonderful "American Beat" leads into a crazed cover of Led Zeppelin's "Communication Breakdown". Keith is on lead vocals for this one, well that is when he's not leaping off chairs or indeed carrying one into the crowd to climb up on and continue playing. So, finally I made it to my first ever Fleshtones gig and what a gig it was! The band are certainly consummate show-men and fine purveyors of good time Rock 'n' Roll that's guaranteed to raise a smile and get you dancing along. Their infectious enthusiasm and humour is only matched by the sheer quality of their songs, and I sincerely hope that I get the chance to see them again a hell of a lot sooner.

The Fleshtones backstage at The Camden Underworld - Photo by Paul Slattery
As if The Fleshtones weren't enough, there was also the rest of the night's impressive bill. Opening up the evening were one of our favourite acts, The WitchDoktors, who treated us to a raucous set of their perfectly formed blend of Clash-tinged Punk and raw American Rock'n'Roll. So many of their tracks would be perfect jukebox singles in their own right, they have a knack of spinning out some real classics. Opening number "Movie Star" and other tracks from their faultless "$3 Hooker" album such as "Told You To Go" and "Knock Me Back" should be regulars on the radio, whether it be mainstream or not. Crunching versions of earlier tracks such as "I'm Sick" and "Neck Tattoo" just go to show that the band are building up a pretty impressive back catalogue of their own. 

The WitchDoktors by Paul Slattery
The WitchDoktors will be headlining the next Retro Man Blog night at The Half Moon Putney on Friday July 18th along with King Salami & The Cumberland 3 and The SuperMinx'70. The last two Retro Man Blog nights sold out completely, so be sure to book your tickets in advance from here

The WitchDoktors by Paul Slattery
Next up, The DeRellas are an energetic cocktail of Glam with some sleazy New York Dolls style Punk thrown into the mix. They are promoting their new album "Slam! Bam!" which you can get hold of from Closer Records here. The band get the crowd warmed up nicely for The Fleshtones with "Everything Jaded" and "She's A Pistol" my personal highlights of a well received set.

The DeRellas by Paul Slattery
For more information on the excellent book "Sweat: The Story of The Fleshtones" by Joe Bonomo please check out the official Facebook page here or Joe's "No Such Thing As Was" web-site here.

You can see more photos of the gig by heading over to the Retro Man Blog Facebook page and hitting "Like" for access to the exclusive photo album. With many thanks to Paul Slattery for the excellent photos and to Zig, Joe, Andy and Tony. All photographs copyright Paul Slattery 2014.