Wednesday 29 April 2020

Alvin Gibbs - U.K. Subs Bassist to Release New Autobiography "Diminished Responsibility" & "History" E.P. with The Disobedient Servants

Alvin Gibbs & The Disobedient Servants
Time & Matter Recordings have announced their brand new venture "Tome & Metre Publishing" with news of the forthcoming release of the first-of-two-volumes of U.K. Subs bassist Alvin Gibbs memoirs entitled "Diminished Responsibility: My Life as a U.K. Sub and Other Strange Stories Vol. 1". In the book's foreward Henry Rollins writes "Alvin puts his experiences across with energy and excellent detail, cheerful, hilarious and armed with insight, you are immediately pulled in by this book’s contents. A mark of not only a great story teller, but of one who has truly lived in full and continues to do so". The book's tentative release date is July 1st, with pre-orders available sometime in May or June so please keep an eye on the T&M web-site here for further announcements. To help T&M with the funding of this new project, they are offering fans the chance to have their name printed in the book for only £5.00, for which your full name will be featured, alongside your town or city and your country, in what will be the world’s first ever book about your favourite band – the U.K. Subs. Please be aware that this payment doesn’t buy you a physical copy of the book, but when it goes to pre-order later this year (retailing at £15.00) you will have played your part in a bit of U.K. Subs book publishing history.

"Diminished Responsibility" book cover
"History" EP Cover by Gaye Black
Talking of History - Time & Matter will be releasing a fabulous new four song E.P. by Alvin Gibbs & The Disobedient Servants entitled "History". The record is limited to 500 hand numbered copies and comes as a double 7" Black & White vinyl single in a gatefold cover designed by Gaye Black, formerly Gaye Advert, the iconic bassist with The Adverts, now a succesful artist. The four new songs "Bad About You", "History", "If Only" and "Pavlovian" continue with the high standard set by the Disobedient Servants' excellent debut album. Alvin is backed by his Subs bandmate, drummer Jamie Oliver and Ruts DC guitarist Leigh Heggarty. The release date for the "History" EP is 30th June and it's now available to pre-order from the Time & Matter web-site here. Alvin has punctuated his stints with the U.K. Subs with spells in Urban Dogs, Cheap And Nasty and of course in one of Iggy Pop's most celebrated backing line-ups around the release of the "Instinct" album. I will never forget a superb show at the Brixton Academy on the "Instinct" tour in 1988, Iggy was in a back-to-basics mood after the commercial success of "Blah Blah Blah" and had assembled a suitably rocking line-up including Alvin and Hanoi Rocks guitarist Andy McCoy. In fact, you can read all about Alvin's experiences of working with Iggy in his thoroughly entertaining book "Neighbourhood Threat: On Tour with Iggy Pop". You can also read our review of Alvin's excellent debut album with The Disobedient Servants in the Blog archive here

Alvin Gibbs - Photo by Retro Man Blog

Tuesday 21 April 2020

Groovy Uncle "The Man Who Calls The Shots" - Amy K-B on the 8th Album from Glenn Prangnell's Musical Collective

Groovy Uncle "The Man Who Calls The Shots"
The 8th album from Glenn Prangnell's musical collective Groovy Uncle takes its title from the opening track, which, much like 2014's "Persuaded" could be the opening to an alternate universe James Bond film. It's all here, the John Barry-esque strings, the creeping bassline and the majestic purr of Miss Modus' vocals. There's a recurring filmic theme to this album; "Magic Happens" brings to mind Audrey Hepburn swooshing through Central Park in a pastel coloured suit to a Burt Bacharach soundtrack and instrumentals "Guitardis" and "Return to Guitardis" reimagine the same melody though the filter of 60's sci-fi soundtrack and gypsy jazz respectively. As always on a Groovy Uncle album there's a real mix of styles; if you don't like one song (unlikely) there'll be another one along in couple of minutes and it'll sound totally different to the last. Glenn told me that this comes from his appreciation of Beatles albums, and when you think that on Abbey Road "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" nestled snugly in between "Something" and "Oh! Darling" it makes perfect sense. For all that Groovy Uncle isn't limited by genre or style, there is very much a quality control process at work and if it's not right, it doesn't make the album. I asked Glenn if he writes with a specific singer in mind, and he told me that generally the song comes first and he rarely sits down with the intention of writing a particular style for a particular performer. Scottish songstress Miss Modus has appeared on both "Persuaded" and "Meanwhile Back in Medieval Britain" and her songs on this album showcase her voice perfectly, from the theatricals of the title track, to the chirpy, sunny pop song "Hedging my Bets'" and the wistful sweetness of "Heathen Child". She's a fabulously versatile singer and it's great to hear her take on so many different styles. 
Poster Artwork by Jonathan Ash
There are as usual lots of other Groovy Uncle regulars involved in "The Man Who Calls The Shots", including Wolf Howard and Mole Lambert on drums, Nick Rice on bass, Bruce Brand sharing guitar duties with Glenn and a host of other musical guests. There's even an appearance from gypsy jazz quartet Lost Revellers whom Glenn invited to play on "Sounds a Lot Like Me" and "Return to Guitardis". Lyrically, "The Man Who Calls The Shots" provides the happy blend of whimsy and acerbic humour that we've come to expect from Groovy Uncle; songs like "Soup" and 'God on a Bike" provide some giggles and balance the bittersweet of "Not a Single Word" and "Sounds A Lot Like Me". Whilst chatting to Glenn about the album I took the opportunity to ask just how the recording process works on a Groovy Uncle song and whilst the personnel may change one thing is always the same; they record together, the old fashioned way. "The Man Who Calls The Shots" was recorded at Ranscombe Studios and Glenn tells me that for him the camaraderie of working together in a studio is all part of the fun. Purchasers of "The Man Who Calls The Shots" also get treated to four bonus tracks on CD and download, three of which are reworkings of Groovy Uncle songs from "Play Something We Know" and "Persuaded", and a new version of "Days I Care To Remember" by The Offbeats, all sung by Miss Modus. 'The beauty of Groovy Uncle, really,' says Glenn, 'is that I can do whatever the fuck I like'. There probably aren't many musicians who can honestly say that; he's not limited by genre, style, choice of vocalist or musicians, and as if that wasn't enough Groovy Uncle records are released on his own label, Trouserphonic. Glenn really does get to call the shots, and with music of this quality long may that continue. Amy K-B, April 2020 

"The Man Who Calls The Shots" is out on vinyl, CD and download via Trouserphonic 11th May. For details on how to order please check out the excellent Groovy Uncle official web-site here

Poster Artwork by Jonathan Ash Art - to see more examples of Jonathan's artwork please visit the web-site here.

Thursday 16 April 2020

The Rise of Spinout Productions: Amy K-B catches up with Lee Grimshaw on his ever-expanding musical empire

Mr Grimshaw
There's been many exciting developments over at the Spinout Productions rapidly expanding empire recently so Amy decided it was time to catch up with boss man Lee Grimshaw for an update.

Q. Hi Lee, congratulations on the second birthday of Spinout Nuggets! It's been a busy couple of years for you, what do you feel have been the highlights for the label so far?

A. Thank you! And thanks for all the support throughout! Never did I imagine how or where it would go, but I'm really humbled at it all. Every single moment has been a highlight, starting with Sergeants Mess, pounding all the way through to release number seventeen, with many more already planned. Last year we tried to aim for one release a month and to continue the same this year, but it's now looking to be maybe two or three a month, as so many good things are coming through. This year has already seen releases from Bully Bones, Ye Ascoyne D'Ascoynes, The Claim/Jim Riley's Blues Foundation, The Hannah Barberas and The Veras. I've really enjoyed moving through the 'genres', although there's still a distinctive sound between them all. The label is all about the creators be it the writers, performers, producers, mastering boffs, graphic artists or creativity providers in any form. I feel very humbled to be working with them all, and a pleasure to share with those that are supporting.
Ye Ascoyne D'Ascoynes
Q. You've worked with a wide range of artists so far – can we expect to hear more from some of your favourites?

A. They are all my favourites! I've been very lucky, I admit, and there's much more in the pipeline. I would love to blurt them all out, but that wouldn't be fun. We're soon to see the first label release from Paul Groovy & the Pop Art Experience, a band we've been playing on The Spinout Show for some time now, so great to have a release from them on the label. We're also soon to be putting out the second label release from The Hurricanes, their second album full of many goodies - full-on Mod-Garage-Power-Pop. Then there'll be the second label release from The Voo-Dooms, a six-track Mini LP.  I was fortunate enough to be at Ranscombe Studios during the second day of the recording, which was ace. Nice to see it all coming together. Then there's a six-track Mini LP from Palooka 5, another band I've spent some time with, mainly through Tim's stomping Club Kongo events in Taunton, where a few of the label's bands have played too. This will be the second vinyl release from Palooka 5, and it's mighty fine! 
Palooka 5
After that, there's a follow up 7" release from The Treasures of Mexico, which I'm very pleased about. Another one that I managed to capture some of the recording during the studio time at Ranscombe Studios. Now with Nick Rice on bass, joining ex-members of The Dentists, Mark Matthews and Bob Collins, and Russ Baxter (he also of Secret Affair, and formerly Phaze, The Discords and so on). With some vocal help from Beth Arzy too. We're currently trying to decide which of the recorded tracks to put out first. Then, world meet The High Span! A fairly recent collaboration, with some known faces, another one I was lucky to catch during recording at Ranscombe Studios. I always try to get along and capture a little. The High Span are Kev Younger (Armitage Shanks, Ye Ascoyne D'Ascoynes, Subway Sect, The Speed of Sound and more), Mark Aitken, (Ye Ascoyne D'Ascoynes, These Guilty Men etc.) and Jimmy Moore (Moore more!). They've had a fair few gigs over the last year or so, and have attracted many ears. We're doing a four-track 7", and hoping to follow that up too. There's another project I've been working on that'll be out around the same time too, which will also be a milestone - there's quite a back-story to it too, and I'll save that for the next gathering. Oh, and another! Then more again! But as said before, they are all very special in their own way, and every single individual is a pleasure to work with. I think it's safe to say that the current global pandemic has changed some of the plans ahead, but we're doing as best we can to keep things going. The intention is for the label to always be an independent, DIY thing, but you must allow growth. We have recently set up distribution with Shellshock, in view of reaching out to some corners we haven't already, and we're still looking for someone to carry the distribution Stateside. Clear Spot have been covering mainland Europe for some time, and a pleasure to work with. We still do directs too, which is very important, and a pleasure. We've also dabbled in the dark world of digital for previous releases, due to getting requests for it, so we wanted full inclusion. 

The Spinout Show
Q. I believe you've got a date for our diaries for this September?

A. Yes, September 5th at the Royal Function Rooms in Rochester and we'd love to see you all there! Dave and I play at the annual Shiiine On Weekender at Minehead Butlins every November, and have been lucky to help with the line up over the years too. Last year we actually got to program a stage, where we had Graham Day & The Forefathers and Big Boss Man in, with us DJing around them too. It went very well, and was a most enjoyable night. Steve Lamacq was even in the crowd for GD&tF show, jumping around. Rod Spark, who played with The Prisoners during their last ever gigs, was there to play in one of his bands, so Graham invited him along to join them on organ for some of The Prisoners tracks, which was good to see/hear. A memorable night! The evening went so well, we thought we'd try and recreate it as best possible, this time in Medway at Graham, Allan and Wolf's local emporium the Royal Function Rooms, the same venue as the Medway Music and Beer Festival, Kent Soul Club and more. To this day, Big Boss Man haven't played in Medway, so it will be great to have them in. We wanted to add something else to the menu, and it made sense to pick The Hurricanes to start proceedings. Their second album should be out soon (on Spinout Nuggets), and it's sounding mighty fine!  In addition to the live events on the evening, we wanted to invite some DJs in to help keep the music going from the start till the end, so we've invited local top man Rob Flood, Kent Soul Club Promoter/DJ Richard Flack and Cookin' Catfish Club Promoter/DJ Russell Deal (who's club night takes place in The Billabong Club at the back of the same venue at various dates throughout the year), in addition to Dave and I. All we need now is a good crowd of people to fill it up.

Q. What comes next for the ever-expanding Spinout empire?

A. Ah! Well, the label has a fair few releases lined up for the year ahead, as already said. We are working on the next label compilation, Chapter 2 also, but no particular planned release date as yet. I'm hoping to do a Spinout Nuggets showcase or two at some point, as it would be great to get everyone together. In some ways, Mick and Dave's club night The Primitive Club has already been an accidental part of this, with The Voo-Dooms (house band), Thee Girl Fridays, The Hurricanes and more planned too. The Spinout Show continues to go out every Wednesday, 6-8pm on NCB Radio ( Only realised recently that it's been almost four and a half years since Episode 1! We're currently up to Episode 217 at the time of writing - we've missed the odd week or two. We love guests on the show (remember when you and Rick joined us?). Dave has been able to help with more shows recently which is perfect. The record shop is still on the planning, but with being away so much, it's a little tricky at the moment. So, I'm continuing to sell old/new records online. I've been pondering a book division for the last year or so, as I have a few ideas, but I need a helper with that one! The sky is the limit, unless your ambition is Space! I'd like to end things with another huge thanks to all that have helped in many ways. It's really nice to be able to share something good, and it's much appreciated. There's lots that goes on in the background too, and I really do appreciate their input. Please buy records and support live music, and check out Damaged Goods Records, State Records, Heavy Soul Records, Trouserphonic Records and all those doing good things, including Retro Man Blog of course. We appreciate your ears!
- AKB April 2020

 Many thanks to Lee and Amy - be sure to check out all the exciting happenings from Spinout at their web-site here, where you can also find out more details on all the label's featured bands and releases. More info on the Spinout Explosion event on September 5th can be found here.