Thursday 23 October 2014

The Dustaphonics: New Album "Big Smoke London Town"

The launch party for Graham Day & The Forefathers new album “Good Things” at 229 The Venue in London on October 31st is shaping up to be one hell of a Halloween night as The Dustaphonics have now been added to the line-up along with The Fallen Leaves. The Dustaphonics actually have a new record of their own to promote too, the fabulous “Big Smoke London Town” has just been released on Dirty Water Records and is fast becoming one of Retro Man Blog’s favourite albums of the year so far. The lead single and title track “Big Smoke London Town” is a perfect example of the delights that can be found within – it’s an evocative tale of late night London with characters inhabiting seedy nightclubs, afterhours drinking dens and Burlesque clubs. The Dustaphonics could be an ultra-cool gang who are just heading out for a night of, quite possibly illicit, entertainment as most of us are crashed out on the last train home. The titles of the band’s debut album “Party Girl” and single “Burlesque Queen” (Also released on Dirty Water Records) hint where the band are coming from and in fact “Burlesque Queen” was co-written with chesty cult movie star Tura Satana who appeared as the high kicking heroine in Russ Meyer’s trashy 60’s underground classic “Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!” 

The Dustaphonics - Photo copyright Zig Criscuolo 2014
After various line-up changes The Dustaphonics are now based around guitarist, songwriter, promoter and DJ, Yvan Serrano–Fontova and the stunning flame haired vocalist Hayley Red with a revolving rhythm section of Eric Frajria or Bruce Brand on drums and Dan Whaley or Devid Dell'Aiera on bass. The band are just one big joyful celebration of an eclectic mix of 1950s Rock 'n' Roll, Garage Rock, Soul, Blues and instrumental Surf music, they are equally at home playing a Rock Club or The Jazz Café and have a celebrity fan and occasional lead vocalist in the shape of The Blues Brothers Dan “Elwood” Aykroyd. “Big Smoke London Town”, the album, starts of with a killer trio of up-tempo floor-shakers that will have you up out of your seat as soon as the first chord strikes up, “The Message”, “When You Gonna Learn?” and the title track are all instantly addictive with memorable hooks in abundance. The swinging rhythm section and Yvan’s equally rhythmic scratchy Lo-Fi guitar lay down a hip-shaking groove that allows Hayley’s vocals to shine throughout the album. Suddenly, there’s a brief revving up of engines and it’s into “Grand Prix” which is an effective Dick Dale style Surf instrumental. “Ride On Louisiana Red” is a steamy slice of swampy Blues which is followed by the fat twanging guitar riff intro of the excellent “Rockin’ Boogaloo”. 

Hayley Red & Yvan - Photo Copyright Zig Criscuolo 2014
“Back To Mono” shows that the band can switch easily to great Go-Go’s style guitar pop before spinning out another instrumental “Fire Dance”, with its ominous Link Wray American Indian riffing, reminiscent of “Comanche!”. Next up is one of the album’s highlights “Mojo Yar Bones” with its great sing-along chorus and melodic backing vocals; it’d make a great follow-up single. The last track comes as a surprising but ultimately satisfying twist in the shape of “Flesh & Blood” which calms everything down. It’s the quiet reflective glass of whisky at the end of a full-on night of partying. The song is built solely around a simple repetitive, almost flamenco guitar motif over which Hayley’s sultry vocals float seductively, it’s a perfect ending to a pretty much perfect album.

The Dustaphonics - Photo Copyright Zig Criscuolo 2014
You can order the album “Big Smoke London Town” from the Dirty Water Records on-line store or of course pick up a copy at 229 The Venue on October 31st. For more news on The Dustaphonics including upcoming gigs and tour dates then please check out their Facebook page here. With many thanks to Paul Manchester at Dirty Water Records and to Zig Criscuolo from The WitchDoktors for the excellent photographs. Here's the great video for "Big Smoke London Town".

Monday 20 October 2014

Graham Day & The Forefathers "Good Things" New Album & Launch Gig at 229 The Venue, London October 31st

Graham Day & The Forefathers will play their biggest U.K. show so far at 229 The Venue, Great Portland Street, London on Friday October 31st to launch their brand new album "Good Things". As an additional incentive to book a ticket, copies of the album will be on sale at the gig exclusively prior to the official release date. "Good Things" will be available on vinyl and is packaged together with a CD version of the album plus download code and the band photos on the cover were taken by my Retro Man Blog colleague Paul Slattery. If that's not enough, an impressive line-up has been assembled for the night, with two excellent support acts confirmed, The Dustaphonics and our good pals The Fallen Leaves, so it's sure to be a great gig.

Regular Retro Man Blog readers would have hopefully checked out our recent Retrosonic Podcast special edition where I chat to Graham and his band-mates Allan Crockford and Wolf Howard, about "Good Things" and the reasons for getting The Forefathers together. Basically, those reasons were to simply and unashamedly celebrate past glories, to resurrect a choice selection of Graham Day songs from his four most popular outfits - The Prisoners, The Solarflares, The Prime Movers and The Gaolers – and give them a respectful dusting down. As there are no plans to release any new material under the Forefathers name, “Good Things” is meant to serve purely as a document, a snap-shot of some of the songs that the band have been playing live recently. Given that The Solarflares and Prime Movers were originally three-piece line-ups featuring Graham, Allan and Wolf- it's hardly surprising that most of the songs on "Good Things" are not particularly different from the originals. So don't expect radically unusual re-workings of their "greatest hits" such as Sparks did with "Plagiarism", there are no orchestral versions of "Hurricane" for example, and there are certainly no acoustic takes on "Better In Black”.  This is no "Unplugged" session, far from it; The Forefathers are most certainly plugged in and turned right up to 11, serving up high octane versions of their current set all attacked with a joyful verve and refreshing enthusiasm.

Graham Day & The Forefathers at June's Retro Man Blog Night by Paul Slattery
Of course it's the takes on the three Prisoners tracks that may be more of a curiosity to listeners but don’t worry, they work perfectly well in this stripped back environment. In particular one of my highlights of the album, "Be On Your Way", positively crackles and snaps along with a barely disguised vitriol. Anyway, Allan Crockford’s fluid and soulful bass-lines and sublime backing vocal harmonies easily fill in any gaps caused by that missing trademark organ sound. Graham’s incendiary guitar playing and vocals are, in my mind, better now than ever and there’s a new depth to some of those great Solarflares tracks such as “Mary” and “Can’t Get You Out of My Mind”. Only “You Always Find a Way To Hurt Me” slows the relentless pace somewhat and this allows Wolf’s excellent drumming to shine through. Hopefully, “Good Things” will remind anyone not familiar with the various post-Prisoners line-ups that some of Graham's best song-writing was to follow, and the raw and powerful Stooges style riffing of the title track had me digging out and re-evaluating my long neglected copy of The Prime Movers first album. But there's no point in pontificating on whether these versions are better than the originals or not, you just have to put this on the stereo, turn up the volume and revel in the power of some truly classic and timeless songs.

You can check out the report on our Retro Man Blog Night back in June featuring Graham Day & The Forefathers, The Len Price 3 and Allan’s band Galileo 7, including more Paul Slattery photos by clicking the link here. Also, you can listen to or download our Graham Day & The Forefathers special Podcast which features some exclusive tracks from "Good Things" below.

Tickets for the Album Launch gig at 229 The Venue on October 31st can be booked here and if you can't make it to the gig you can pre-order the album at the Forefathers new web-site here.

Thanks to Jonathan at No Other Publicity

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Retro Man Blog Night with The Len Price 3, Les Kitschenette's and The Past Tense at The Half Moon Putney, September 26th

The Len Price 3 at the Retro Man Blog Night photographed by Paul Slattery
Firstly, I'd like to say a really big thank you to all that came along to September's Retro Man Blog Night at The Half Moon Putney last Friday - if you were there I'm sure you'd agree that all three bands played fantastic sets, it was a blast! It was especially pleasing to see the great reception given to Les Kitschenette's who we invited over from France for their very first U.K. shows in conjunction with You Got Good Taste who hosted the band at Weirdsville at the Fiddler's Elbow in Camden on the following night. I know the band were blown away by the positive reaction and warmth shown from everyone at both gigs and I am sure they have made lots of new friends. 

Les Kitschenette's photographed by Paul Slattery
So, back to Friday night and kicking off the proceedings were long time Blog favourites The Past Tense, who actually opened our very first Retro Man Blog Night back in 2011. They have recently expanded to a four-piece, adding Buzz on second guitar, and it all worked perfectly. Thankfully, the extra guitar didn't over complicate matters but beefed up their much loved classic three-piece sound and seemed to boost front-man Andy's confidence in the process. It was definitely the best performance I've seen from the band and they delivered a tight and tuneful 40 minute set with a selection of well known tracks from their two excellent albums "Pick 'n' Mix" and "Take Three". However, it was the new songs that turned out to be the highlights of their set for me. 

The Past Tense photographed by Paul Slattery
First of all "Vision" perfectly captured the underlying touch of Soul that the band pack into their three minute Garage Rock nuggets, which is testament to the excellent rhythm section of Ken and Warren. It's bloody marvellous! As is "Just Keep Believing" which shows how well the band are developing, it features some excellent melodic backing vocals. "Heads Held High" reminded me of Eddie & The Hot Rods at their best, a bit of a bovver boy stomper with some nice guitar interplay between Andy and Buzz, it goes down really well with the crowd. "No Apologies" is a Northern Soul tinged singalong that gets people dancing, and I think it would make a great future single. 

Andy from The Past Tense photographed by Paul Slattery
The complex Quadrophenia tribute "Jimmy's Love Song" is now a well established favourite and it ends with Andy scraping his guitar along his microphone stand. This was followed by a sprightly version of the latest single "Remember The Days", which they were selling on the night in a choice of bright red or yellow vinyl. Then "Wolfman" and "Throwing It All Away" end a quite brilliant set from The Past Tense and it makes me look forward to their new album even more. If they can somehow capture the energy of tonight's live performance in a studio it should prove to be a classic album. I think a trip to the Medway's Ranscombe studios is surely beckoning...!

Les Kitschenette's photographed by Paul Slattery
Next up were Les Kitschenette's, who were down to a five piece as Lucille had been advised not to travel due to her forthcoming baby. First of all the four musicians run through the aptly named "Rosbif Attack", Rosbif being the French nickname for us Brits, which is a delightfully weird instrumental from the 1966 movie "Ne nous fachons pas". Singer Ludo takes the stage and apologizes for his partner Lucille's absence, admitting "I am the father, or I hope so...! Welcome to Paris...!" and then they launched into a cover of Nino Ferrer's "Mao & Moa" followed by the Serge Gainsbourg composition "Dents de laits, dents de loup". As this was originally a duet with France Gall, you feel Lucille's absence suddenly but Ludo covers both male and female vocal parts really well. 

Les Kitschenette's - Photo courtesy of PRH Photography
Anyway, the boys did Lucille proud, in particular Ludo and lead guitarist Francis, who threw everything into the performance. Ludo was wearing a vintage military jacket with a huge "Les Kitschenette's Need You!" badge and one black leather glove, I guess in homage to The Music Machine's Sean Bonniwell. He has an easy going charm and a twinkle in his eye, he's like Austin Powers meets Serge Gainsbourg. Francis is all action, a constant blur, one minute dancing away as he plays and the next it's foot on the monitor posing with guitar held high. During "Hide & Seek" he jumps into the crowd, he's a bit of a "roux dieu de la guitare" as the old French saying goes (according to Google translate...!). Amongst the highlights of a perfectly paced set are covers of Les Missiles "Ne pense plus à lui" and Delphine's Yé-yé classic "La Fermeture-Éclair". 

Les Kitschenette's photographed by Paul Slattery
The incredibly youthful looking Claude is a great drummer and with his rhythm section colleague Fred's excellent bass playing, he powers everything along perfectly. Mathieu, the super-cool Mod, alternates between rhythm guitar and organ, sometimes during the same song, and adds tambourine and backing vocals too. Each band member has a unique character and there's a really good chemistry between them all, they seem like a bunch of friends having a great time and this transfers directly into the audience. They get a well deserved encore and play "Où va t'elle?" from their first E.P. which ends the set on a real high. When I first saw them in Paris I was determined to get them over to the U.K. and I am really pleased it all worked out so well for them. 

The Len Price 3 photographed by Paul Slattery
Well, there are not many bands that could follow that, but luckily The Len Price 3 are one of them and as they took the stage and crashed into the stuttering "Words Won't Come" it was clear that they meant business. It was another faultless show from the Medway based three-piece and they crammed in songs from all four albums with those from the latest "Nobody Knows" such as "Preying Mantis" and "Billy Mason" now fitting in seamlessly alongside their well established classics like "Rentacrowd" and "Girl Like You". Tonight was particularly special as they debuted two brand new songs "Nothing I Want" and "Sally Ann" which went down really well. 

The Len Price 3 - Photo courtesy of PRH Photography
In fact, they were so new that the Pubmonkey movie writer Jamie O'Hara had to hold up a lyric sheet in front of Glenn while he tried to sing. Both songs were a bit darker and heavier than usual but were nevertheless still packed with the usual lashings of harmonies and catchy choruses that we have come to expect. "Sally Ann" broke the mold even further as it had a slight twist of Pixies, The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Beach Boys all rolled into one surefire future single. A raucous "Pictures" saw the dancing ramped up to the max and the set drew to a close with the crowd favourite "The London Institute". The final joyous encore of "Shirley Crabtree" sparked off the now customary stage invasion and it all descended into glorious, feedback drenched chaos. 

The Len Price 3 photographed by Paul Slattery
I'd like to thank Phil Stradling of the night's sponsor Adaptor Clothing, Eric from King Salami & The Cumberland 3 for designing the superb gig poster, Carrie and staff at The Half Moon and Steven Tagg-Randall for filming the night, you can check out the full sets from all three bands at his YouTube site. Thanks also to Paul Slattery and to Paul at PRH Photography for the excellent photos. You can see more photos of the night by heading on over to the Retro Man Blog Facebook page and hitting "Like" (if you are not already following) for access to the exclusive photo album.