Sunday 31 December 2017

Retro Man Blog's Top 10 Albums of 2017

Retro Man Blog's Top 10 Albums of 2017 (in alphabetical order...)

The Blue Aeroplanes: "Welcome Stranger"

The Galileo 7: "Tear Your Minds Wide Open"

Groovy Uncle (featuring Suzi Chunk): "A Clip Round The Ear"

Joss Cope: "Unrequited Lullabies"

King Mojo: "Do Not Feed The Dancing Bear"
The Len Price 3: "Kentish Longtails"
Michael Head & The Red Elastic Band: "Adios Senor Pussycat"
Oh! Gunquit: "Lightning Likes Me"
The Woggles: "Tally Ho"
5 Billion In Diamonds: "5 Billion In Diamonds"

Best Albums 11-20, Gigs & Happenings, Singles, EPs, Tracks & Reissues etc coming soon...

Sunday 17 December 2017

The Mild Perils "(I'm Going To My) Happy Place (For Christmas)" - Amy Kilroy-Buck finds the perfect Xmas song for people who don't like Xmas

As I trudge through the snow to the Retroman offices this Christmas, weaving my way through groups of Victorian street urchins, I'll have a particular tune stuck in my mind. It will echo around my head as I struggle to type wearing gloves, and I'll be whistling it when I'm plucking up the courage to knock on the Editor's door to ask if his team of hard working writers might possibly be allowed to finish early on Christmas Eve. He'll say no of course, but who knows, maybe a nocturnal visit from the spectral forms of Roy Wood, Noddy Holder and Mariah Carey will change his mind. Yes folks, this year's Christmas ear-worm is "(I'm Going To My) Happy Place (For Christmas)" by The Mild Perils, a new project from front-woman of The Priscillas, Jenny Drag. It's a song that ticks all the boxes for a Christmas hit; catchy chorus, bells, festive video, more bells and even that 'footsteps crunching on snow' effect that you used to get, but this packs the additional punch of a bit of Yuletide realism; in short, it's a Christmas song for people who don't much like Christmas. This is the stuff that Christmas is made of but nobody normally sings about, with a full supporting cast of passive aggressive relatives and drunk guests, and a hoot of a video with Jenny resplendent in a backless catsuit and some tinsel. "(IGTM ) HP (FC)", as it shall henceforth be referred to, has exactly the right mix of wry humour and slightly festive chirpyness to bump it onto the list of Christmas songs I actually like, and I'll definitely be keeping an ear out for future offerings from The Mild Perils. So if, like me, you're not really too keen on the whole Christmas thing, tune out, tune in and go to your happy place. - Amy K-B Xmas 2017

You can download the song from The Mild Perils Bandcamp page here and find out more information on the band at their official Facebook page over here. Thanks to Amy for the review. Ho Ho Ho....

Thursday 7 December 2017

Joy Division on The Streets of Stockport: Photographer Paul Slattery on his iconic 1979 photo session and Strawberry Studios Exhibition

Joy Division on the streets of Stockport photographed by Paul Slattery
In July 1979 I was working for Sounds magazine as a freelance photographer and I drove up to Strawberry Studios in Stockport with writer Dave McCullough to photograph Joy Division for an article in the mag. Dave had been listening to this demo tape very loudly in the Sounds office above Covent Garden tube station but I can’t say that I or anyone else in the office liked it at the time. Dave though had a sixth sense when it came to music, he was an absolute legend. In the evening we went to the Funhouse at The Mayflower to see Joy Division play along with The Distractions, The Fall and Ludus at a gig entitled "Stuff The Superstars". Tickets were £1.50 and I thought Joy Division were a load better live than on the demo tape though. You can still read Dave's original interview from Sounds magazine first published back in August 1979 here.

Strawberry Studios Stockport photographed by Paul Slattery
Roll on 37 years. In the late summer of 2016 Peter Wadsworth from the Stockport Museum got in touch with me about the Joy Division photo session I did on the streets of Stockport as he wanted some of the images for the upcoming exhibition "I Am In Love" about Strawberry Recording Studios. After the exhibition finishes my photographs will be on permanent display at the museum. This is a really excellent exhibition and has been hugely successful since its opening in January this year and if you still haven't been then you are lucky as it’s open until 29th January 2018. There are some great artefacts in the exhibition from Graham Gouldman and Martin Hannett from the studio made famous by 10cc and Joy Division among others. This was a golden age of British rock music and I was utterly privileged to be there. 

Photo by Tracey Holloway
Last month I was invited up to Stockport to give a talk about the Joy Division photo session at the Seven Miles Out Art Cafe. I was truly humbled by everyone letting me rattle on for about an hour or so, and to a packed crowd so I’m told. As a photographer you may hope that some of the photographs you take come out OK, but I’m truly touched at the love that this crowd showed for these Joy Division images.

Paul Slattery in front of his iconic Joy Division photographs - Photo by Peter Wadsworth
Before the talk I went to visit Hopes Carr where I took some of the photographs - little has changed except some idiot at the council decided to cover what was a beautiful cobbled street with tarmac. I was gutted. Save your history Stockport! I hadn’t been in the centre of Stockport before and I must say that it has a very attractive little town centre with many period buildings and a covered market. It also has the Robinson’s Brewery where you can book a tour. It looks like a town trying to reinvent itself for the future and there is no doubt that the preserved building fabric of the town centre, the beautiful market, the really superb and eclectic Stockport Museum and the Seven Miles Out Art Cafe are all contributing to its revival.

Strawberry Studios memorabilia on display - Photo by Paul Slattery
Many thanks are due to both Peter Wadsworth who arranged the talk and to Rosemary and John Barrett who run this excellent Arts centre in Stockport. Thanks for the coffee Rosemary!
- Paul Slattery December 2017

Lee McFadden (musician with Cult Figures, Alternative TV etc.) interviewed Paul for the Joy Division Central web-site back in 2014 and he mentions the Stockport photo session and his first experience of seeing the band perform live.

Paul: It was one of those photoshoots where you felt the band really didn’t want to be choreographed. You just took them down to a place – “look over here”. I think the image they were – or Hooky was – trying to project – wasn’t a playful image. It reflected the music, which I thought at the time was melancholy. They’re not love songs. It was a different kind of vibe to what I was used to. I’d been taking pictures of punk, power-pop bands who project this kind of pop song vibe, so you get three guys and they’re all smiling. Joy Division was a different vibe. I just got them on the corner, saw how they interracted and took a few frames. Obviously in retrospect I wish I had taken about ten rolls of film (laughs).
Lee: You saw them at the Mayflower that night. People often remark on the marked difference between their live and studio sound. You’d heard “Unknown Pleasures” in the office – how did you react after seeing them live for the first time?

Paul: I thought they were amazing. I felt they really came alive. Hooky was there with his low-slung bass and I thought – “Well he’s learnt something from Paul Simonon anyway!” (laughs).

Lee: He’s admitted the same to me!

Paul: They were great. Ian Curtis had so much charisma. Live they were tremendous. There were some great bands on there – Ludus, The Fall, The Distractions were a really great pop band from Manchester, and Joy Division. I never knew whether Joy Division’s band of music would surpass the Distractions. I’d seen the Distractions a few times and I like that kind of pop music. But for me, the gig was very powerful and Ian Curtis was amazing live.

Photographer Paul Slattery - Photo by Peter Wadsworth
The full original interview can be found at the Joy Division Central web-site/resource, extract used by permission. Thanks to Paul Slattery, Peter Wadsworth, Lee McFadden & Tracey Holloway.

Wednesday 29 November 2017

Hipsville-A-Go-Go Weekender 2018 - Line-Up, Dates and Theme Confirmed!

One of the highlights of our musical calendar, the Hipsville Weekender - run by those lovely Weirdsville people Mr A, Alexandra Beat Girl, Ade and their gang of intrepid helpers - has now been confirmed for 2018 and it's back at Dreamland in Margate. Running over three days Friday 4th, Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th May, the theme for this year is "Jungle-A-Go-Go" and it's shaping up to be the best one yet! Featuring the best in International Garage Rock, Psych and Punk including The Parkinsons from Portugal, The No-Things from Edinburgh, The Schizophonics, Black Mambas and The Electric Mess from the USA, Les Lullies, Chrome Reverse and The Madcaps from France and The Oddballs and Los Wallas from Spain, there's going to be something for everyone. Of course there will be the added bonus of the Hipsville Go-Go Girls including the fabulous Wanda De Lullabies, Celia Aloha, Dottie Gooseberry, Nocturna and Miss Diabolik and some superb DJ's such as Neil & Chris Sick, Carl Combover & Johnny Alpha and Fritz Buzzsaw & Diddy Wah. If that's not enough there's the Tiki Party, the Roller Disco compered by Superstar DJ Mike Gunn, the Vintage Market and free rides on the Dreamland amusements. Seriously, this just cannot be missed!

For more information on tickets and links to all the bands and performers please check out the Hipsville web-site or Facebook pages. Don't forget to check out our Retrosonic Podcast archive for loads of great music and reports from previous Hipsville Weekenders and the Blog archive for features and photos too. I'm also planning a brand new Hipsville 2018 special episode so keep an eye out for more details on that. If you love Hipsville but can't wait until next May, don't forget the gang run the regular Weirdsville club nights at the Fiddler's Elbow in Camden on the last Saturday of every month. Check out the Weirdsville site here for further details. 

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Ebbot Lundberg Interview: The ex-Soundtrack of Our Lives front-man on his new single and TV show, the 5 Billion In Diamonds project and more...

Ebbot Lundberg photographed at Press Play Studios, London by Paul Slattery
Retro Man Blog (Q): Did the idea to release such an unusual cover version come from your time on the TV show “Så Mycket Bättre", which featured famous Swedish musicians from different genres and generations performing each other’s songs in their own style? Ebbot Lundberg (A): No, not really. We did a live show three or four years ago in Stockholm and somebody in the audience was annoyingly screaming “Royals” all the time so we kind of started to improvise around it. That song was frequently on the radio so everybody knew it. The radio here in Sweden is unbelievably shitty but I thought this song sounded better than the usual stuff, I mean I wouldn’t go and buy it, but I thought, “Who is this?” So when we went into the studio for the album “For The Ages to Come” we just recorded it for fun and I was thinking how it might sound if you put your own chords to it. Q: I detected a bit of TSOOL’s “Borderline” in one instrumental passage of “Royals” and you’ve occasionally referenced your own back catalogue in new material, especially on “Throw It To The Universe”. A: I put them in for fun, there’s even a bit of “A House Is Not a Motel”, something like that, if I do a cover song I might as well put in some other stuff as well. Q: You often liked to drop in extracts of other songs when you played live, off the top of my head I recall “Turning Japanese”, Black Flag’s “Nervous Breakdown”, “I Feel Love”, The Damned’s “These Hands” and even the Punk/Oi! Poet Gary Johnson but you rarely recorded any cover versions with your previous bands.

A: We never considered playing any covers with Union Carbide Productions or even The Soundtrack of Our Lives in the beginning but then I thought, OK maybe you can do a song in your own way, like we did with Nick Drake’s "Fly" on the "Communion" album. It´s a bit of a challenge, even if it's a shitty song as long as you can make it good in your own ears. Like when Devo did their version of "Satisfaction" which was quite unexpected at the time. It would have been too obvious for me to do something like Pink Floyd or Black Flag for instance. I mean we recorded “Arnold Layne” and stuff like that but we were just playing around with some different material and “Royals” just sounded like a fun idea to do. It was supposed to be the B-side of the first single “To Be Continued” but I didn’t really feel like it fitted in. Then I totally forgot about the song until I played it for my old pre-cambric mod-fossil friend Frederik Harper at a party at Cosmos Recordings. The funny thing is he was working with Lorde and he was like, “ah we gotta release it mate!” I kind of held back at first as I thought it’s not good enough or whatever, but I fixed it up a little bit, did a remix to put it out and we’ll just see what happens with it on the radio or whatever. Q: Did you consider the lyrics of “Royals” before you recorded it or was it just a case of “this is a good tune”? A: For me “Royals” is like the connection with the Royal bloodline, the Annunaki and the Illuminati and all that stuff, that’s my interpretation of it, I don’t know what she means but it would be interesting to know.

Ebbot Photographed by Paul Slattery at Press Play Studios, "5 Billion In Diamonds" Session
Q: At last, the long-awaited “5 Billion In Diamonds” LP has just been released and it's excellent. It's a project based around the producers Butch Vig, James Grillo, Andy Jenks and various guest artists. How did that idea originate? A: It actually started when I was in San Diego, Mike Stax had this Ugly Things magazine anniversary party and I sang with all the remaining original members of Love and some guys from Baby Lemonade. We were just going into some hotel bar before the show and suddenly there were James Grillo and Butch Vig sitting having a drink. That’s when they asked me, “We have this new project, do you wanna sing?” So they sent me the basic track of “Gravity Rules” and I thought maybe I have something here. Then I went to Bristol to record the lyrics and melody and we did the arrangement together. It just kind of formed into some really laid back thing and we just felt there’s no rush so it went back and forth. I went to LA and Silverlake to record in Butch’s house, I met David Schelzel and all the guys involved and we just let it grow. Yeah, now it’s finally out and we’ve already started on the next album. I don’t know how much time we’re going to spend on it though, we were talking about playing live next year, I can’t really tell, it’s their project. Q: It must be difficult seeing as there were so many people involved and you are all, not only busy with other projects, but based in the USA, U.K. and Sweden. A: Yeah, we played once at James Grillo’s birthday and that went well but it was like “fuck” there were like 12 people on stage! Everyone was changing instruments but it worked out and everybody is really into it but I think we’re in need of a really great light show. We haven’t discussed anything yet as we’re doing things on our own so probably, it’s just down to timing. I think Andy Jenks, one of the producers, is a genius actually, he’s really brilliant. I love that sort of dreamy stuff that he´s doing.

Promo Photo for "Ebbot's Ark" TV Show
Q: You had a high profile TV series called "Ebbot's Ark" recently broadcast in Sweden, can you tell us more about it? A: I’m not really into doing TV but this time it’s my own idea; being on a ship and going to Slussens and all these fantastic places that nobody knows existed. I had this idea as a tour first and then I thought maybe it would be a good TV show if I could bring my band and invite different people. So we did five episodes and it was really fun, kind of one of the best things I’ve done as an experience. Q: So, it’s like a travelogue with music? A: No food or anything like that, just music! The guests picked a favourite song that meant something to them, you know most are like songs they heard when they were 10 years old. It’s the same for me, I’m kind of picking certain places where I’ve had some sort of connection with and it’s turned out pretty OK I think. It’s kind of different; we had a lot of fun. It’s not like I prefer doing TV instead of touring or whatever, it’s like a bonus. For me this is something I would do if I were to pick a vacation, instead of going to Mallorca or whatever, go on this boat just being a captain and basically doing nothing except singing and asking some questions in between. Q: But you’ve often played in unusual locations such as ruined castles, beach side shacks, ornate theatres and then you also did the “Moped Tour” for example, driving around playing in out of the way places. A: Yeah I kind of love all those stupid ideas. I want to get away, I got so fucking tired of all the regular touring when you release an album and you go from town to town, it’s not the same atmosphere any more. People don’t even go out; people have become scared that someone is going to kill them! Also, Festivals are becoming like so fucking corporate and boring you don’t really feel it’s a festival anymore, it’s like going to some shopping centre or something. It’s kind of that era, I think I have been living that for thirty years and I am really sick and tired of it, I need to find new ways. Maybe the next idea will be on a spaceship, beam ourselves to perform some music over the open air. I truly hope so!

Ebbot Photographed by Paul Slattery at TSOOL's last ever Slussens Pensionat Show
Q: Is that why The Soundtrack of Our Lives intimate shows at the beautiful Slussens Pensionat on the island of Orust were so special? A: Yeah, but that was like the highlight. When we actually started to do all those things like Slussens, those were the best shows we ever did, and I thought it should be like this all the time. That is how I’m trying to plan my life now, just being in all these places instead of being on a big stage at 1 o’clock in the afternoon with the audience a hundred metres away because there’s so much security everywhere. I wish we could just do a fucking hologram set instead, it’s ridiculous. I want to have people around me I don’t care if they kill me, whatever! It’s about freedom, not being protected in a golden cage like some idiot. Q: That sort of fearless attitude to performing reminded me that at our Retro Man Blog gig in London last year you went ahead and played even though you had a broken collarbone, where do you find the resolve and energy? A: The collarbone is great but now it’s my knees, they are fucked up because I’ve been carrying stuff and travelling so much. I’ve really been around this summer and it’s been too much I think, it's been fun but I play in a big jazz thing as well with 20 people, and I’ve just been touring around like crazy. The only thing I have to watch out for is myself, my own older fucking stuff you know, yeah you got pain everywhere! Oh well, you just can’t do what you used to do suddenly. I have to swim or something, I have to exercise, I hate it but I have to do it. Q: Talking about being busy, you also found the time to do a couple of reunion shows with your legendary but sadly underrated first band Union Carbide Productions, did that go down well? A: Union Carbide turned out fine as well. I don’t really know what’s going to happen with that one because we felt “shit, this sounds really good” you know so we were talking about maybe doing a single, I don’t know, it worked out fine especially the gig we did in Spain, that was absolutely marvellous.

Ebbot photographed at our Retro Man Blog Night June 2016 at The Half Moon Putney by Paul Slattery
Q: So, what do you have planned next Ebbot? A: During the summer I was doing the TV show “Ebbot’s Ark” and touring everywhere and I’m dying to finish all that stuff so now, my intention is to release another single followed by an album, but that’s my own stuff. The new album will be called “The Kybalion”, based on the old hermetic principles of the universe, which may sound a little bit pretentious but that´s basically what I´ve been into for the last 25 years. I hope to release it in January or February next year and I don’t know if it’s going to be a single or a double album yet but we recorded a lot of stuff and we did it really fast. Now with The Indigo Children, it’s more like a group than when we did “For the Ages to Come”. Q: It’s a good point, it definitely seems like a proper band now rather than just you as a solo artist with a backing band of faceless session musicians and they are getting a lot of praise. A: They are a different generation but they are remarkable, I don’t really have to tell them what to do, they know where I´m at and sometimes they even know better. We have played a lot now and it’s completely different, it’s fucking unbelievably strong, more energetic and there’s more diversity in the songs this time I think. A true elevation. We’ve found that magic spell to raise the frequency a little bit.

Ebbot Lundberg & The Indigo Children Retro Man Blog Night June The Half Moon Putney by Paul Slattery
An edited version of my interview was published in Shindig! Magazine. For information on how to order "Royals" and news on upcoming live dates and happenings please check out the Ebbot Lundberg web-site here. There's also a Soundtrack of Our Lives fan's group on Facebook here which also covers all the ex-members current activities as well as tons of archive material. The Indigo Children feature members of Side Effects and The Hanged Man, both are well worth checking out in their own right and both have highly recommended new records out now. Please click on the highlighted links to find out more. You can check our feature on 5 Billion In Diamonds here, it's a project started off by Butch Vig, Andy Jenks and James Grillo with guest appearances and contributions from Ebbot, Bristolian chanteuse Helen White from Alpha, The Ocean Blue's David Schelzel and Sandra Dedrick from cult 60’s vocal group The Free Design. Amongst the project’s musicians are a stellar cast of collaborators including bass player Sean Cook and drummer Damon Reece from Spiritualized, Massive Attack and Elizabeth Fraser, guitarists Alex Lee of Goldfrapp, Florence and Suede), Pete Aves from High Llamas, Damian O'Neill of The Undertones, That Petrol Emotion and The Everlasting Yeah and bassist Justin Meldal-Johnsen from Beck and NIN.

The Retrosonic Podcast above is from our archive and features an interview with Ebbot recorded at Slussens Pensionat back in July 2015. With many thanks to Paul Slattery for the excellent photos. 

Sunday 19 November 2017

The Moot, Trees And The Slipway, Andy Hepburn and DJ Lambo at The Cabbage Patch Twickenham

The Moot at The Cabbage Patch Twickenham
The Cabbage Patch in Twickenham is a great little venue, there are drums hanging from the ceiling and the walls are plastered with posters and artwork that pays testament to the many luminaries of the local 1960's British Beat boom such as The Who, the Stones, The Yardbirds, Downliners Sect and the Artwoods. We are a mere (Rolling) stone's throw away from the legendary Eel Pie Island and it's a fitting location to see The Moot as they probably have a lot of these influences stored up in the locker. Although bassist Mark Leech and vocalist Nick Stone used to be in the 80's Paisley Psych band The Onlookers, they pretty much leave the the trippy stuff to one side with The Moot and concentrate on a sound as stripped down and back to basics as you can get. It's vocals, guitar, bass and drums and the songs are taut and short and owe as much to New Wave and Post-Punk acts such as The Flys, The Nerves and Subway Sect as they do to the 60's R'n'B bands that used to frequent the area. Tracks like "Reggie Bags" and "My Sister Brenda" are catchy as hell and my favourite "My Fixation" should be snapped by a record company with any sense and released as a single immediately. Drummer Philip Pinch keeps things ticking over nicely and singer Nick seems to be growing in confidence with each performance. He looks out into the audience and I don't take it personally when he announces "If you have hair, we say let it down" and then the drums kick in followed by a funky Mark Leech bass line and it's the extended intro to the brilliant "Let Your Hair Down" which highlights Dave Clark's guitar style perfectly. The Moot are going from strength to strength and hopefully they will be treating us to some new recorded music very soon!

The Moot at The Cabbage Patch Twickenham

It's not often that I like a band before I even hear them play a note but as soon as I saw that Trees And The Slipway's front-man Stephen Wood was wearing a Dukes of Stratosphear T-Shirt, I knew immediately I was going to be a big fan. Actually, there is something about XTC's mind expanding alter-ego running through T&TS's music, it's catchy but slightly discordant Psych Pop music that crosses continents and time zones. In fact in thirty minutes or so they take us on trip from the 60's West Coast with Stephen's impressive jangling 12-string guitar and some great three part harmonies from him, bassist Karl Sabino and guitarist and keyboard player Matthew Lees. Then "Psychedelic Evolution" clatters along at a fair pace and transports us to the Velvet Underground's downtown New York and then we're off on our magic carpet to Avebury and Stonehenge to wave hello to Julian Cope, in fact interestingly Julian's brother Joss once played bass in the band.

Trees & The Slipway at The Cabbage Patch Twickenham
Added into the mix is a healthy dose of challenging Lo-Fi Krautrock on "9:52 Thursday Morning" and the crunching heavy Blues riff intro to "I Need Her" grounds us firmly back in the local Twickenham and Eel Pie 1960's British Beat Boom. It's certainly an intriguing and highly original concoction. While I'm videoing a song someone nudges me and says "I hope you're filming the drummer..." Indeed Talya is our new favourite drummer, she certainly has an idiosyncratic style that appears to defy conventional timing but there's no doubting it is effective! Unfortunately, Trees And The Slipway don't have any records out yet, something I really hope they'll get round to rectifying as soon as possible. In the meantime I urge you to check out the band live as soon as possible.

Trees & The Slipway at The Cabbage Patch Twickenham

Andy Hepburn opened the night's proceedings, alone with an acoustic guitar he played a short but well received set of bittersweet songs crammed full of clever and witty lyrics. My personal highlight was the excellent "We Don't Talk" which you can hear a version of at his Soundcloud site here. I chatted to Andy afterwards and found out that he used to be in a Post-Punk band called Fractured with Dave and Philip from The Moot. He then moved to China where the sights, sounds and experiences inspired him to make Ambient and Trip-Hop music under the name An Di Yi.

Andy Hepburn at The Cabbage Patch Twickenham
So, a thoroughly enjoyable night of free music courtesy of The Moot made even better with the addition of DJ Lambo spinning an eclectic mix of vinyl. I sincerely hope that they can make these regular events and if so please try and make it along, they deserve supporting. For more info on all the featured artists please click on the highlighted links above. There are lots more photos over at the Retro Man Blog Facebook page here and videos up on our YouTube Channel here.

Sunday 12 November 2017

The Galileo 7 "Tear Your Minds Wide Open!" New Album Out Now on Damaged Goods Records

2017 is proving to be a vintage year for new album releases, so much so that I’m dreading having to pick a "Best LP of the Year" for Retro Man Blog next month. Certainly one such contender for the top spot is "Tear Your Minds Wide Open!" by The Galileo 7 who have, in my opinion at least, just come up with their best work to date and it's certainly their most aptly titled. To me a great album is one where you can imagine every song being released as a stand-alone 7" Single and "Tear Your Minds Wide Open!" certainly delivers a shed-load of potential hits. I thought that "False Memory Lane" was always going to be hard to beat but obviously the band are on an upward trajectory, seemingly growing in confidence before our eyes with each new release. Whereas the overall sound and production of "False Memory Lane" concentrated on their 'Pop' sensibilities with acoustic guitars and keyboards prominent, "Tear Your Minds Wide Open!" is a raw and raucous beast of an album. It positively bursts and crackles with energy and in a strange way probably comes closer to capturing their on-stage sound even better than the 'live in the studio greatest hits' album "Live-o-Graphic".

The Galileo 7 Photographed at The Half Moon Putney by Paul Slattery
Allan Crockford is probably best known as a bassist from his sterling work with The Prisoners, James Taylor Quartet, The Prime Movers and The SolarFlares but with The Galileo 7 he is very much front and centre, handling the majority of songwriting duties along with lead vocals and guitar. I've always thought Allan was underrated as a six-string strummer despite being no stranger to the role. After all, he played guitar in The Stabilisers and Phaze and also appeared alongside Groovy Uncle's Glenn Prangnell in Goodchilde and "Tear Your Minds Wide Open" will hopefully encourage credit where it's due. The incendiary guitar riffs keep on coming throughout the album; just check out "One Lie at a Time", "Mystery Train" and particularly the stunning title track. Another surprise can be found with the blistering "The Habit Machine" which reminds me of a mash-up of Led Zeppelin’s "Rock ‘n’ Roll" meets "Black Dog". It's heavy man! But despite the occasional reference points they are really difficult to categorize and there's no doubting the band are very much an exciting and contemporary sounding outfit. The Galileo 7 are challenging our preconceptions and stretching the boundaries far beyond the garage with their inventive Psych Pop nuggets.

Allan Crockford Photographed at The Half Moon Putney by Paul Slattery
The Punky "Too Much Choice" clatters along at a fair pace powered by some superb organ riffs from Viv and the great songs just keep on coming. "Everything Keeps Coming Round Again" would be another sure fire hit in a parallel universe with its catchy ear-worm chorus. There's something about "Nobody Knows Anything" that makes me think if it was re-mixed into a kind of Burt Bacharach style that it would make an excellent James Bond theme. But it's "The Mask" that is the centre-piece of the album, a stand out track with so many twists and turns that it's almost a four and a half minute mini-opera. It starts off with a deceptively gentle acoustic guitar and an elastic bass riff from Paul Moss but then it suddenly bursts into life with Mole's quick-fire drums. In fact, some of Mole's drumming on the album is downright mind-blowing, probably the best he has ever committed to record and as the song crashes to its finale, you just want to stand up and applaud. All well and good as long as you're not listening to it on your headphones on a crowded commuter train!

The Galileo 7 Photographed at The Half Moon Putney by Paul Slattery

It's "The Girl in the Glass Case", the bonus track on the CD, that proves something of a departure for The Galileo 7. Whereas the band usually distill a host of melodic twists and turns into concise three or four minute songs, for once they totally ditch the 'Pop' part of their now almost trademarked Psych-Pop sound and delve into some seriously heavy Psychedelia. Here they stretch proceedings to over 10 dark and brooding minutes with a female voice narrating a story over a grinding, repetitive guitar riff. The song title might sound intriguingly familiar as apparently the lyrics were meant to appears in the sleeve notes for the debut album of the same name from Graham Day’s Senior Service. "Live for Yesterday" is a perfect pop song and the closest they get to "False Memory Lane" with it's simple yet catchy keyboard motif and prominent tambourine. Procrastination and nostalgia are the theme of the song and what with The Forefathers, and more recently our SolarFlares reunion shows taking up a lot of Allan's time at least now he can concentrate on what looks like a very bright future ahead with The Galileo 7.

You can hear "Cold Hearted Stowaway", the opening track from the new album in our latest episode of Retrosonic Podcast "The Easiest Person To Fool Is Yourself".

The Galileo 7 have two London shows lined up, they will be playing at Nambucca on December 01st with The Embrooks and The Len Price 3 and then they will support the legendary Fuzztones at the 100 Club on January 25th next year. "Tear Your Minds Wide Open!" has been released on Damaged Goods Records as a special limited edition vinyl version which comes packaged along with a CD (featuring bonus track "The Girl In The Glass Case") and a download code, so all your audiophile bases are covered. For details on how to order the album, and for further information and news, please check out the band's web-site here.

Tuesday 7 November 2017

Retrosonic Podcast Episode 28: "The Easiest Person To Fool Is Yourself" Out Now!

Podcover - Hipsville Go-Go Girls Photographed by Zig Criscuolo
Retrosonic Podcast Episode 28 "The Easiest Person To Fool Is Yourself" is out now on Soundcloud & iTunes. In a decidedly non-retro Retrosonic episode we take a look at some of the new music that's found it's way to the Retro Man Blog over the past few months. We've got a great Hammond organ instrumental intro from French trio Gerry Bright & The Stokers, a song from Joss Cope's debut solo album and the opening track from The Galileo 7's forthcoming album "Tear Your Minds Wide Open". King Salami & The Cumberland 3 give us the great "Pineapple Mama" and we pick a song from Oh! Gunquit's excellent "Lightning Likes Me" LP. The Jack Cades are a kind of Garage Rock 'supergroup' featuring members of The Baron Four, Missing Souls, The Masonics and The Embrooks and there's a song from their "Music For Children" album. Talking of The Embrooks, they were on the bill at our recent sold-out reunion shows for The SolarFlares and there's one of the highlights of their set, the current single "Nightmare". Also on the bill were King Mojo who went down a storm and there's a song from their debut album too. Parsley from The SolarFlares also plays Hammond in The Mynd Set who have a new E.P. out now and we choose one side of a superb new 7" single from Jetstream Pony. Glenn Prangnell's Groovy Uncle have just released arguably their best album so far and we state the case with a great song featuring Suzi Chunk on vocals. We play the new split single in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust featuring cover versions of two Jam classics given a French twist by Popincourt & French Boutik and there's a track from The Kite Collectors new album "Shockerwick 135". Another superb night at Weirdsville introduced us to The No-Things from Edinburgh and the Spanish band Las Aspiradoras and to finish off there's the brand new single from Ebbot Lundberg & The Indigo Children. I hope you enjoy the great music in this episode, if you do please check out the highlighted links above for more info on the bands! Retrosonic Podcast has a valid PRS certificate. Podcover photo of the Hipsville Go-Go Girls courtesy of Zig Criscuolo at ZigPix.

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Wednesday 25 October 2017

The SolarFlares 13th and 14th October at The Water Rats with Special Guests The Fallen Leaves, King Mojo, The Embrooks and DJ Lee Grimshaw

The SolarFlares photographed by Paul Slattery
I'd like to thank everyone that came along to our Retro Man Blog presents The SolarFlares reunion shows at The Water Rats, I really appreciate all the fantastic feedback and comments which goes to show you all seemed to enjoy it as much as we did! Amy Kilroy-Buck kindly contributed her thoughts on the weekend. "When the tickets have sold out before the poster is even printed, you know it's going to be a bit of a special gig. Originally a one off to coincide with the vinyl reissue of three albums on Damaged Goods, the gig quickly became a two off in order to meet the apparently insatiable demand of fans and tickets flew out at a pace that makes this Retro Man Blog's fastest selling event so far. I went to both nights (as one does) and it really was pretty spectacular. Friday night began with an excellent set from DJ Lee Grimshaw before The Fallen Leaves took to the stage. The Fallen Leaves ('no jeans, no t-shirts, no cover versions') are always a joy to watch, with their punchy, catchy songs and unashamedly theatrical delivery. You'll find no wasted notes or excessive noodling here, just good, old fashioned, tweed clad garage punk.

The Fallen Leaves photographed by Paul Slattery
Rob Symmons of The Fallen Leaves photographed by Paul Slattery
I've never seen The Solarflares live before (I was 18 when they split up and only just starting to develop any kind of taste in music), but I've been a regular at Forefathers gigs for quite some time now and, like many of the audience, I was interested to see just how different an all SF's set would be, and if the addition of the Hammond really made much difference overall. Right from the first song it became apparent that it really, really does. The squirly, wailing chords add another layer of sound to an already powerful mix, and it also meant we got treated to the instrumentals Lunar Girl, Moonshine of Your Love, Angel Interceptor, and my absolute favourite, Girl in a Briefcase. With an extensive back catalogue to choose from, the choice of songs on Friday night veered from the poignant (Mary) to the witty (Feet the Wrong Way Round) through to the downright groovy instrumentals via the occasional audience singalong (Miles Away).

Allan Crockford of The SolarFlares photographed by Paul Slattery
Graham Day & Wolf Howard of The SolarFlares photographed by Paul Slattery
The Solarflares really do have something for everyone, and the multiple encores on Friday night definitely gave the impression that the band were enjoying themselves too. One gig down, one to go, or, as Allan joked, 'thank you for coming to our rehearsal for tomorrow'. I've never been to see the same band in the same venue on two consecutive nights before, but on Saturday we shook off our hangovers and piled back into the Water Rats, ready for some more. Saturday's line up gave us two support bands, the first of whom, King Mojo, had made the 500 mile round trip from the frozen north beyond the wall (all right, Middlesbrough) to kick things off for a second night of music. I've seen King Mojo before on their home turf, and as a live band they really are dynamite, combining sharp, spiky song writing with class musicianship. Their EP Ironstoned is on my 'to be reviewed' stack, so more on them soon. Definitely ones to watch, and a great start to the night.

King Mojo - Photo Copyright Retro Man Blog
The Embrooks - Photo Copyright Retro Man Blog
My nearest and dearest will be well acquainted with my tendency to keep banging on about how much I love The Embrooks, but I can honestly say that this band alone would be worth the trip down to London, and if you haven't seen them yet, I urge you to do so. Their stage performances have a manic energy that make them captivating to watch, and their songs will rattle around in your head long after the gig is over. Saturday was already off to a great start, and it was time for more Solarflares. With one or two small changes to the set the band seemed a little more relaxed than the previous night, and soon got into their stride. The Water Rats is a fairly cosy venue, but I decided to fight my way down to the front, and it was well worth the effort.

Wolf Howard of The SolarFlares photographed by Paul Slattery
As on the previous night the sound was full and vibrant, but there was an extra veneer of confidence there and definitely no clues that this was a band that hadn't played together for a long time. The long established team of Graham Day, Allan Crockford and Wolf Howard seem to have a collective sixth sense that we're used to seeing with The Forefathers, but the addition of Parsley on Hammond organ really did elevate this band to something pretty extraordinary. His playing is subtle and empathetic, and supports the guitar rather than fighting it. He's a snappy dresser too, and I hope we see him on stage again at another Retroman night in the future.

Parsley of The SolarFlares photographed by Paul Slattery
The Solarflares always talk about their band with great fondness, and Saturday's gig really did have the feel of a group of friends who were having a great time. The songs still sound new and fresh, and there's obviously some real affection from the audience. As the band came to the end of their final song, Graham leant his Gretsch Black Panther against his Vox and left the stage to a fanfare of self induced feedback. Allan dutifully switched off the amp as the band exited stage right to riotous cheers. The final encore of Father's Name Is Dad marked the end of a triumphant reformation for The Solarflares, and whether they do it again, or it remains a two off, it was a spectacular couple of nights for a few hundred people in Kings Cross." - AKB October 2017

Graham Day of The SolarFlares photographed by Paul Slattery
With thanks to Amy for the great review and to Paul Slattery for his superb photos as always. You can see more photos of all the bands over the two nights at the Retro Man Blog Facebook page here and some videos over at our YouTube channel here. There's also a great review of the Friday night show over on the always excellent Monkey Picks Blog which can be found here.

Tuesday 10 October 2017

Stag & Jon Auer at The Islington October 03rd 2017: The Return of Steve Mack from That Petrol Emotion

Stag at The Islington - photo copyright Retro Man Blog
That Petrol Emotion just weren't made for the times, they were ahead of them and I was pretty devastated when they called it a day following the release of arguably their best album "Fireproof". Intelligent, fiercely political and musically innovative their songs were however always packed full of melody and they were a real inspiration. Despite one well received but ultimately short-lived reunion there didn't seem much hope that it would lead to any new material when front-man Steve Mack returned permanently to his native Seattle. Luckily for us fans, the rest of that final Petrols line-up, Ciaran McLaughlin, Raymond Gorman, Damian O'Neill and Brendan Kelly, reconvened with the stunning album "Anima Rising" under the name of The Everlasting Yeah. The guys decided against trying to replace Steve, instead Raymond and Ciaran took over the main vocal duties with all four contributing harmonies and they forged ahead with a set of completely new material.

Stag at The Islington - photo copyright Retro Man Blog
Stag at The Islington - photo copyright Retro Man Blog
It was clear this was a new band, not a nostalgia trip and the strength of the new songs proved that they didn't really need to return to past glories. I often wondered what happened to Steve Mack until I discovered he was still active musically and in a new band called Stag and the good news was that they were coming to London to play thanks to Mute Elephant, the promotion agency responsible for the Indie Daze festival. It was great to catch up with Raymond, Ciaran, Brendan and Damian who were all there to show their support and meet up with Steve again. Also, in attendance was the ever genial Buddy Ascott once of The Chords and now in The Fallen Leaves, a big fan of That Petrol Emotion and of course mates with Damian and The Undertones from back in the day.

Stag at The Islington - photo copyright Retro Man Blog
Stag at The Islington - photo copyright Retro Man Blog
Stag took the stage and burst straight into the superb double hit of "Pharaoh" and "Come On" from their latest album "Midtown Sizzler" and it was immediately obvious that Steve Mack has somehow defied the ageing process. He's as full of energy now as he was during his heyday with That Petrol Emotion and it was great to see his familiar dancing again, one big blur of flailing arms and legs. Guitarist John Randolph was not to be outdone, leaping and throwing shapes next to Steve, adding to their full-on visual assault. Ben London adds some neat lead guitar work but his Marshall amp is almost as big as the room and right down at the front of the stage it's like standing behind a fighter jet at take-off, I still can't hear properly! The excellent rhythm section comprising drummer Rob Dent and bassist Pete Everett keep everything grounded nicely, allowing Steve and the guitarists to do their stuff with wild abandon. Stag are a good-time, no nonsense Rock 'n' Roll band with their twin-guitars and soaring harmonies that takes in such influences as the Rolling Stones, Big Star and Cheap Trick. Sure, they could be called Power Pop but there's also a tinge of pounding Glam Rock on songs such as the excellent "Bedazzler". However, my favourite song of the set was the slightly more raw and punky "She + Me" which was damn powerful and reminded me of The Replacements.

Stag at The Islington - photo copyright Retro Man Blog
Stag at The Islington - photo copyright Retro Man Blog
The pace doesn't let up with songs such as the classic "These Times" and there's a nicely sleazy swagger to "Elegant Man" that recalls Paul Westerberg's solo work at his best. Teenage Fanclub get a name-check and on "Another Summer" you can sense their influence creeping in on the sunny harmonies. There's a bit of gentle ribbing about Steve's early 90's dreadlock hairstyle phase and he tells us that the locks are for sale at the merchandise stall. Yes, Stag are a band that make you smile, it's not just their uplifting music but they have a really great on-stage chemistry too and they look as though they are having as much fun as we are in the audience. So with both Stag and The Everlasting Yeah out there producing such exciting new music I think I can finally stop pining for a That Petrol Emotion reunion and just enjoy the here and now.

Stag at The Islington - photo copyright Retro Man Blog
Four-Fifths of That Petrol Emotion at The Islington - photo copyright Retro Man Blog
It was also a big bonus that the support act was Jon Auer, singer, songwriter and guitarist with one of my favourite bands The Posies. Jon has also played in Big Star and has released solo albums and projects such as Dynamo Royale. It was just Jon and his guitar tonight and he treated us to a choice selection of songs from his musical career interspersed with some humorous anecdotes and good natured chat. There were also a couple of poignant moments too where he paid tribute to his old band mate Joe Skyward, Tom Petty and Grant Hart. In fact Jon played a moving rendition of "Green Eyes" from Hüsker Dü's "Flip Your Wig" album, always one of Hart's most beautiful compositions. Big Star's "Thirteen" was likened to the "Hallelujah" of Indie Rock which led to a shaggy dog story on the cultural misappropriation of the Leonard Cohen classic now ruined by Pop Idol and X-Factor contestants the world over. However, my highlight was The Posies "Dream All Day" which Jon told us was a big hit in France on its release, a fact that once saved them from a grilling by the French police apparently. It was a thoroughly enjoyable set and I was also chuffed to get my copies of "Frosting on The Beater" and "Amazing Disgrace" signed after the show!

Jon Auer at The Islington - photo copyright Retro Man Blog
For more information on Stag check their web-site here, Jon Auer can be found here and Mute Elephant Promotions are here. You can see more photos of the gig at the Retro Man Blog Facebook page here and there are some videos from both acts at the Retro Man YouTube channel over here. Don't forget our special That Petrol Emotion/The Everlasting Yeah Retrosonic Podcast episode with Raymond, Damian & Ciaran which is available to listen to or download for free below...