Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Girlsville: The Story of The Delmonas & The Headcoatees - The Queens of the Medway Delta by Saskia Holling (Spinout Publications) Review by Ms Sheringham-Boom

 

I have been waiting for this book "Girlsville" for what seems like forever so I was over the moon to find a copy dropping through the letterbox a few weeks ago. Before I go any further, I should declare that I was asked to contribute to the book by the author Saskia Holling. I was thrilled to be asked and it was an absolute honour to be part of a book that so badly needed to be written. Saskia had mentioned that she was in the process of writing a book about women involved in the Medway music scene, one of the main reasons being that unfortunately these women had mostly been ignored or only briefly covered by previous authors. For example, "The Kids Are All Square - Medway Punk and Beyond 1977-85" (pre-Headcoatees times) by Bob Collins & Ian Snowball does mention The Delmonas somewhat in passing yet none of the female voices of the band are heard, Maybe they weren’t asked to contribute, who knows? I haven’t read "Do It Yourself: A History of Music in Medway" by Stephen H Morris, so can’t comment on that, but have sadly heard similar things said. Time to put that right? You bet. Saskia herself has been involved in music since the 1990’s and the book gives the reader a glimpse into her own musical life having made her escape from a small Scottish island to form her Riot Grrl band Sally Skull. She then went onto Lord Rochester and Big Russ & Lightnin' Hollins (with her partner Russ Wilkins of The Milkshakes and The Wildebeests) and latterly The Nettelles. Indeed, not a musical heritage to be sniffed at. 

Sarah (Ludella Black) on stage with Billy Childish & CTMF in 2016

Here she relates the stories of the women of two of the most important bands in post-1960's U.K. Garage & Beat history, The Delmonas and Thee Headcoatees. Meet Hilary, Louise, Sarah, Debbie, Holly and Kyra. The story of these wonderful women (told in two parts) is warm, amusing, dark, joyous, and lots in-between. Saskia has clearly gained the trust of these women and there is a stark similarity in their musical experiences. The frustration, the not being heard and to a certain extent of being controlled. Regrets and resentments can be expected, such is band life. I shed tears when I read these stories because there was a side of their musical lives that I had not anticipated. They were and always will be so much more than the sum of a Billy Childish project. Saskia has evidently carried out her research very thoroughly and has firmly put their stories into context by including musical reviews from those times, not only reviews of their bands, but of a wider variety of female musicians. It clearly shows the pervading misogyny of the male music 'journos' of that era and whatever one’s musical tastes, it makes for very uncomfortable reading. I’m happy that these women found their own ways of being creative. They have all since (and with Debbie The X-Men before) blessed us with numerous musical treasures such as The A-Lines, Ye Nuns, and The Buffets (to name a few) as well as Holly, Sarah and Kyra’s solo careers, in fact a new recording from Kyra is in the offing which is certainly something to get excited about. From start to finish "Girlsville" is an unputdownable read and I must mention the striking cover art provided by Sarah Crouch. Props also to Saskia for including a comprehensive discography, links and references and the book features many previously unseen photos of the band on and off stage, record covers and more.

Kyra on stage with Billy Childish & CTMF in 2016

With many thanks to Ms Sheringham-Boom. Ms Sheringham-Boom is the bassist in Edinburgh's premier purveyors of Garage Rock, Thee Girl Fridays. The book is the first from our friends over at Spinout Publications and you can buy a copy directly from them at their on-line store here. For your listening pleasure don't forget our Medway music related Retrosonic Podcast interview specials with Billy Childish, Ian Greensmith (Vic Templar), Graham Day, Wolf Howard, Allan Crockford & Viv Bonsels of The Galileo 7 and Ian Ballard from Damaged Goods Records. All episodes can be downloaded at our Soundcloud site or streamed/listened to at Spotify or Apple Podcasts all for free.


Thursday, 15 April 2021

Retrosonic Podcast Episode 42 "The After-Party After The Party From Hell"


Welcome to Episode 42 of Retrosonic Podcast entitled "The After-Party After The Party From Hell" which is another non-retro show featuring 19 Brexit-busting brand new International releases from Brazil, Italy, France, Canada, America, UK, Portugal, Ireland, Berlin and of course, the Medway Delta! Listen in and celebrate the creative talents and spirit of some of our favourite musicians, record companies and artists who are producing such great music in these difficult times. In this episode we spotlight the new Vinyl Singles Club from our good friends at Spinout Nuggets Records with The Embrooks, The Pastel Waves, The Link Quartet and The Hannah Barberas (who provide this episode's title). Then there are cracking exclusives from Les Envahisseurs, new singles, E.P. and album tracks from former Fatima Mansions and Microdisney frontman Cathal Coughlan, Pearl Harbour, Spizzenergi, The Flaming Sideburns, Stony Sugarskull, Autoramas, April March, Monsieur Paul & Les Solutions, Nika, Cult Figures, The Electric Stars and we close the show with a superb instrumental from The Parkinsons guitarist Victor Torpedo's latest solo album. I really hope you enjoy this stunning collection of new music and I would kindly recommend clicking on the highlighted links below for more information on the featured Band/Artist/Label and find out how you can buy the featured records. Thanks! Turn up the volume!

 
Retrosonic Podcast is available to listen/download from Soundcloud or you can subscribe and stream at Spotify and iTunes/Apple Podcasts - all for free!

Tracklisting - please click the highlighted links for more information.

The Link Quartet - "The Saint Tropez Heist" (Spinout Nuggets Records)

Les Envahisseurs - "Millénial"

Nika Leeflang Project - "Broken Bones"

Cathal Coughlan - "The Knockout Artist" (Dimple Disc Records)

Autoramas - "Carinha Triste"

The Hannah Barberas - "Puppet Show" (Spinout Nuggets Records)

The Embrooks - "It's Time You Realised" (Spinout Nuggets Records)

Stony Sugarskull - "Empty"

The Flaming Sideburns - "Freak Out"

April March - "Sauce Piquante"

Monsieur Paul & Les Solutions - "Plagier Dutronc"

Cult Figures - "Chicken Bones"

The Electric Stars - "Sunshine"

Pearl Harbour - "Trouble"

Spizzenergi - "Valentine's Day" (Holy Dotage Records)

The Pastel Waves - "I Wasn't Convinced" (Spinout Nuggets Records)

The Hannah Barberas - "Party From Hell" (Spinout Nuggets Records)

Les Envahisseurs - "Cazzo"

Victor Torpedo - "Sound & The Fury" (Lux Records)

 

Saturday, 10 April 2021

Retrosonic Podcast: "The Rhythm Method with Buddy Ascott" New Episode in which we nominate, play and discuss our favourite Drummers & Bassists

In the latest episode of Retrosonic Podcast we welcome Buddy Ascott (former drummer with The Chords, currently with The Fallen Leaves and The 79ers) into the virtual studio to discuss that often overlooked and undervalued component of a band - the Rhythm Section... Buddy nominates and discusses the merits and influences of five of his favourite drummers, Keith Moon, Mitch Mitchell, Chris Sharrock, Pete Thomas and Topper Headon and he talks us through some highlights of their playing. Find out who features alongside Gaye Advert, Peter Hook, JJ Burnel and Tessa Pollitt in our top ten chart of iconic Bassists, there's five underrated Bassists including Inge Johansson of The (International) Noise Conspiracy and Serge Gainsbourg's session bassist Dave Richmond and to top it all off there's even a quiz to name twenty superb Bass intros including classic riffs from The Stranglers, U.K. Subs, The Damned, Joy Division, Spizzenergi, Public Image Limited and Sparks. The episode is generously sound-tracked by superb examples of our Rhythm Section heroes including music by The Who, Elvis Costello & The Attractions, The Clash, Jimi Hendrix Experience, Talking Heads, The Limiñanas, Ian Dury & The Blockheads, New Model Army, Magazine, The Slits and of course... The Chords! You can subscribe to Retrosonic Podcast for free at Spotify, iTunes/Apple Podcast, Soundcloud or listen/download directly from the link below.

Saturday, 13 March 2021

The Prisoners: Your Stories and Memories Needed for New Book on the Medway Garage Psych Legends (feature includes rare Paul Slattery photos)

The Prisoners at The Hope & Anchor - Copyright Paul Slattery

A new book on Medway Garage Psych legends The Prisoners is currently being planned by an Anglo-German collective of fans and they are asking for your memories and contributions. They would like to hear what the band means to you, when you saw them, what records you bought and any memorabilia or photos you would like to share. The book has had the official blessing of the band and here's a few words from bassist Allan Crockford in support: 

"I thought I'd bring this to your attention, if anyone's missed it. My sister Elinor is teaming up with a couple of friends and fans in Germany to put together a book about the Prisoners. It will be from the perspective of fans of the band (and maybe people who hated us - that would be an interesting perspective!) who came to the gigs and bought the records. They want your stories and memories of the band and the times. Me, Graham, James and Johnny have given it our gracious blessing and look forward (with some trepidation) to reading your stories. At least we finally might find out what happened..."

The Prisoners at The Hope & Anchor - Copyright Paul Slattery

As regular readers to Retro Man Blog will know, The Prisoners and all their many and varied spin-offs are a huge inspiration on what we do so we'll also be keeping a close eye on the progress of the book. You can send in your contributions to be considered for publication via email to Atasteofpink9@gmail.com

Don't forget our thoroughly entertaining Graham Day & The Forefathers Retrosonic Podcast special with Graham Day, Allan Crockford & Wolf Howard on the complete story of The Prisoners, The Solarflares, The Prime Movers and all their other projects and bands over the years.

Photos of The Prisoners at The Hope & Anchor, London March 24th 1983 copyright Paul Slattery.

Friday, 12 March 2021

Nika Leeflang Project "Bad Sunday" New Album Out on March 19th

Two years after her EP "Hey Right" and a long tour with The Limiñanas, Nika Leeflang returns with the excellent album "Bad Sunday". "This Record balances between French and English, calm and storm, melancholy and euphoria, introspection and the desire to break everything. As always, to make a good record, you need a good mixer then, good ingredients. Take Kurt Cobain's blond hair, Kim Gordon's class and flow, add the Bardot/Gainsbarre period, the co-arrangements of Aymeric Severac, Romain Preuss and David Darmon and finally, PJ Harvey's guitar and you'll get Nika". (Translated from Gaëtan Chapiteau's Bio). "Bad Sunday" will be released on March 19th via M.A.D. Pias (Mutual Artist Distribution) at all the usual streaming services such as Spotify, Deezer and iTunes and then physical copies will follow via Bandcamp, so please keep an eye on Nika's official web-site or Facebook pages for news on how to order. The band's new music video "Good Sunday" will be released on March 15th, but in the meantime, here's a superb video for another track off the record entitled "Broken Bones".

 

Shouting her Lyrics and Guitar: Nika Leeflang. Hitting the Drums: Yannick Gomez. Playing Bass, Guitars, Backing Vocals, Organs: Aymeric Severac. Swinging additional Guitars, Organs, Backing Vocals: Romain Preuss. All songs written by Nika Leeflang. All tracks were recorded at Vox Studio Montpellier by Jeff Saboy and John Chapman except "Night Call" produced by Ty at Noisy Bay Records. Mixed at Mirador Sound Studio by David Darmon. Mastered at Vintage Sound Studio by Luis Mazzoni. For more information on the official release date of "Bad Sunday" and how to order, please check out the official Nika Leeflang web-site.

Friday, 5 March 2021

Sounds Incarcerated "Unswitchable Hits Vol. 1" - New Album of Lockdown Sessions Cover Versions from Allan Crockford & Viv Bonsels of The Galileo 7

In the long and depressing wait for the return of live music, one of the undoubted musical highlights of Lockdown has been Kevin Younger's on-line open-mic evenings broadcast and available at his Mister Unswitchable YouTube channel. These thoroughly entertaining events see lots of his (mainly Medway based) musician pals submitting videos of a hugely eclectic range of cover versions based around various themes. So, for example the theme of 'Animals' saw a be-wigged Graham Day performing a wicked version of the Osmonds' Glam racket "Crazy Horses" and Bob Collins of The Dentists with his version of "And Your Bird Can Sing". The "Boys & Girls" themed night saw Groovy Uncle's Glenn Prangnell tackle The Monkees "Forget That Girl" under the name The Unkees, so I'm sure you get the drift. However, it's probably Allan Crockford and Viv Bonsels of our favourite Psych-Pop band The Galileo 7 who really took to the task with aplomb - treating us to witty, often very well produced videos for a variety of unexpected and superbly executed cover versions. We've seen the duo take on songs by bands and artists as diverse as Robyn Hitchcock, Haircut 100, Buzzcocks, John Denver and The Stranglers all of which were so well received that it was decided to put them all together and release as an album "Unswitchable Hits Vol. 1" under the name of Sounds Incarcerated. It's a fantastic companion piece to the recent LP "Decayed" which was a brilliant collection of all the cover versions that were recorded by The Galileo 7 over the years and released to celebrate their 10th anniversary. In fact, don't forget you can still check out our special Retrosonic Podcast episode with Viv and Allan treating us to a track-by-track guide to "Decayed" and of course, their involvement with the Mister Unswitchable nights below. 

Allan and Viv have just released a great promo video to tickle your taste buds so, over to Sounds Incarcerated for a little explanation. "Here's a high budget promo for our pandemic-induced side project...When you can't play with your regular band, what do you do? In our case we made a load of D.I.Y. cover versions for our Mister Unswitchable's themed open-mic night. Eventually we realised that we had an album's worth of material, and that it was actually pretty good. We called ourselves Sounds Incarcerated and put it out on our own label. What else could we do...? Vol. 2 is now in the works!"

 

Don't forget there's also our other special Retrosonic Podcast episode with Viv and Allan looking back over 10 years of The Galileo 7 and that's available at our Soundcloud archive here. "Unswitchable Hits Vol. 1" and "Decayed" are both available to order from The Galileo 7's on-line store here. You can check out the Mister Unswitchable YouTube channel here.

Sounds Incarcerated by Darryl Hartley
 

Monday, 1 March 2021

Killing Joke "A Prophecy Fulfilled" New Promo Video for Limited Edition Offical Book by Chris Bryans

 

The publishers have just released a new promo video for Chris Bryans' Killing Joke book "A Prophecy Fulfilled" as previously featured in Retro Man Blog, take a look below...

 

Here's a reminder...
Since late 1978, Killing Joke have been ripping up rule books. The original (and current) line-up of Jaz Coleman (vocals, keyboards), Paul Ferguson (drums), Geordie Walker (guitar) and Youth (bass) has been responsible for pioneering albums that have shaped music genres and pulverisingly intense gigs often likened to religious ceremonies. The band achieved mainstream success in 1985 with both the album "Night Time" and the single "Love Like Blood". But Killing Joke’s influence runs much deeper and darker. No Killing Joke no Nirvana, no Jane’s Addiction, no Faith No More, no Nine Inch Nails, no Soundgarden, no Marilyn Manson, no Metallica not in the form you have come to know them. This official release "A Prophecy Fullfilled" is an oral history of Killing Joke, mixing over 300 anecdotes from the fans known as Gatherers with a narrative by the band, other musicians and celebrity devotees. The book also features never-before-seen photographs, collectable memorabilia and fans’ pictures capturing Joke’s incendiary live performances. The book is now available for pre-order from This Day In Music Books here and the first 1,000 special edition copies come with an exclusive free "Wardance" (Liminal Twins disorientation mix) 7 inch vinyl single, numbered 1 – 1,000. Author, Chris Bryans can barely remember a time when Killing Joke were not part of his life. With three decades of experience as a journalist, writer and editor, he has worked/written for the BBC, The Observer and Time Out. He’s also been a writer and co-editor on "1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die" and several other titles in the hugely successful "1001" franchise. But whatever Chris is doing, all roads usually lead him back to Killing Joke. There is no escape.

Friday, 19 February 2021

Music From The Edge of The Universe: The 5 Billion In Diamonds Story, a special Retrosonic Podcast with Butch Vig, Andy Jenks & James Grillo

Portraits by Helen White

We welcome 5 Billion In Diamonds founder members, the legendary producer and drummer with Garbage Butch Vig, Bristol UK producer Andy Jenks and UK DJ James Grillo into the virtual Retrosonic Podcast studio to get the definitive and fascinating story on how this star-studded Transatlantic project came to fruition. The band's second LP "Divine Accidents" released on Make Records (our Album of The Year 2020), the follow up to their eponymous 2017 debut is another imaginary soundtrack to another imaginary film - a dazzling sonic and thematic journey to the heavens, a reaction to and escape from the insanity of these times. The band have brought some 80's vibes into the cinematic mix of Psych Rock and Folk sounds and expanded their sonic palette using the same stellar cast of collaborators including singers Ebbot Lundberg of The Soundtrack of Our Lives and The Indigo Children, David Schelzel of The Ocean Blue, Damian O'Neill of The Undertones, Sandra Dedrick of The Free Design, singer Helen White and musicians including the Bristol Wrecking Crew of Alex Lee, Sean Cook and Damon Reece on guitars, bass and drums. The album also features new sublime contributions from James Bagshaw of British psych rockers Temples and gorgeous vocals from Martin Barnard from Jenk’s '90's combo Alpha. In this thoroughly entertaining journey through 5 Billion In Diamonds musical universe, Butch, Andy and James play and talk us through some of the many and varied influences on the 5BiD sound including John Barry, Ramases, John Carpenter, Jimmie Spheeris, The BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Michel Legrand, Linda Perhacs, Faust, Jeff Bridges and Richard Rodney Bennett. 

 

There's also a pick of their own music from both albums including the forthcoming single and a special sneak preview of the as yet unreleased vinyl-only bonus track featuring Jimmy Chamberlin from The Smashing Pumpkins. There's a comprehensive introduction to all of the 5BiD special guest musicians and vocalists and a Butch Vig edited medley of examples of their music. Along the way we find out how they all met, the influence of movie soundtracks and about the collaborative songwriting process. We also discover how bureaucracy got Butch and James drunk and their unorthodox tactics for approaching prospective special guests. If all that is not enough, James tells us who is next on his special guest wish list, Andy plays a track from his new project Ree-Vo and Butch gives us an update on the new Garbage album. We even find out how TV presenter, naturalist and conservationist Chris Packham is involved with 5 Billion In Diamonds. So, sit back, relax and enjoy this very special episode, packed full of music from the edge of the universe.

James Grillo, Ebbot Lundberg & Andy Jenks - Photo Copyright Paul Slattery

You can listen, download or stream directly from the Soundcloud site below or subscribe to Retrosonic Podcast at Spotify, Apple Podcasts/iTunes and Mixcloud. There are also special dedicated episodes with Ebbot Lundberg and Damian O'Neill in the archive where both discuss their involvement with 5 Billion In Diamonds and much more besides.

You can check out our 2016 feature on Five Billion In Diamonds in our archive here, which includes exclusive Paul Slattery photographs of recording sessions from Press Play Studios with Ebbot.

Ebbot Lundberg 5 Billion In Diamonds Session - Photo copyright Paul Slattery

The double vinyl version of "Divine Accidents" is available to pre-order from Make Records here and for more information on 5 Billion In Diamonds, please check out their official Facebook page here


Wednesday, 13 January 2021

Looking for a New England: Action, Time, Vision. Music, Film & TV 1975-1986 by Simon Matthews (Oldcastle Books)

It’s always nice when someone actually takes the time to check a bit about the content of Retro Man Blog and what we’re about before contacting us with a view to feature or review something. So, I was particularly intrigued to hear from author Simon Matthews about his latest book “Looking for a New England. Action, Time, Vision: Music, Film and TV 1975-1986” published by Oldcastle Books. The title alone was enough to capture my attention, not just for managing to include two of my favourite songs from Billy Bragg and Alternative TV, but also the period covered coincided with what was for me at least, a seemingly golden age of music and cinema. This fascinating and evocative book is meticulously researched, covering over 100 movies and TV shows and written in a narrative style that puts everything into the social and political context of the times. This certainly adds a lot of welcome background information and helps you to understand the circumstances, reasons and more often than not, the difficulties behind the various productions. Although the main years covered are 1975-1986, there’s also explanations on the transition from the end of the Pop Culture boom of the Swinging 60’s (superbly covered in Simon’s previous book “Psychedelic Celluloid”) through the hardships faced by the British cinema industry right up to the Cool Britannia, Austin Powers and Britpop era of the mid to late ‘90’s, which somewhat ironically, ultimately harked back to the Swinging 60’s. So, I found that “Looking for a New England” really is the ideal Lockdown book as it’ll have you dusting down all those old VHS video tapes to revisit old favourites - or scouring YouTube to track down some of the more obscure or intriguing movies and TV shows so brilliantly and vividly brought back to life. The book is broken down into various chapters covering the relevant and important themes that informed many of the movies, TV and music of the times, including Art, Politics and Transgressive productions. There’s a particularly interesting chapter on the slew of Dystopian movies, which was probably as much to do with the prevailing fear of a nuclear war so rife at the time and the high-profile campaigning of CND. Of course, it’s probably the superb book-to-movie adaptations of George Orwell’s “1984” and Philip K. Dick’s “Blade Runner that spring to mind, but there’s also a reminder of Terry Gilliam’s equally stunning “Brazil”. 

 

Then there’s a chapter that deals with the subject of race in the movies whether that be with the proliferation of films in the Kung-Fu genre or those dealing with the issues facing London’s Black communities in Ladbroke Grove and Brixton as seen in 1975’s “Pressure” starring Herbert Norville and “Black Joy”, released in 1977.  There’s interesting comment on movies and TV shows that tackled the Troubles in Northern Ireland with dramas such as “Harry’s Game”, “Cal” and “The Crying Game” as well as the story of the inspiring Punk scene that sprang from all the hardship covered in the documentary “Shellshock Rock”. Interesting trivia snippet: Derek Thompson, the Belfast born actor who starred in “Harry’s Game” but who’s probably best known from his role in Casualty, used to be in a late 60’s Folk trio called Odin’s People. Scottish movies are also covered such as 1985’s “Restless Natives” and two of my all-time favourite films, “Gregory’s Girl” starring Clare Grogan from Altered Images, and the classic “Local Hero” which features the immortal lines “Are you sure there are two L’s in dollar, Gideon?”, “Yes, and there are two G’s in bugger off!” The chapter on Comedy highlights Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, Alexei Sayle and “The Young Ones” and “Not the Nine O’Clock News” but of course, it’s dominated by the Monty Python gang with “Jabberwocky” and “The Life of Brian”. But it also highlights the importance of George Harrison and his Handmade Films production company in getting these and other independent British films made. Along the way, some other important people are featured such as Ken Russell and David Hemmings and somewhat surprisingly, Harold Wilson and his Eady Levy, which went towards encouraging movie production in the U.K. Here are some other featured movies and TV shows which might elicit a pang of nostalgia - “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”, “Scum”, “The Long Good Friday”, “Abigail’s Party”, “My Beautiful Laundrette” and “Rock Follies”. They just don’t make them like that anymore! 

For me, however it’s the music related sections that really impress, citing the importance of “Slade In Flame” in finally shaking off that groovy multi-coloured Carnaby Street image and portraying the seedy and unglamorous side of the music business. There’s a whole chapter dedicated to David Bowie’s forays into theatre with “The Elephant Man” and the movies with “The Man Who Fell to Earth”, “Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence” and “The Hunger” being the most successful. Simon doesn’t gloss over the less than successful movies though, he unravels the fiasco that was “Absolute Beginners” and doesn’t shirk from bringing up “Labyrinth”. There’s also plenty of attention given to the relevant original soundtrack music too. There are three whole chapters allocated to Punk Rock from its birth, flowering and death. It starts off by highlighting the importance of figures such as Dave Robinson who set up the Pub Rock circuit before going on to found the influential Stiff Records. Of course, John Peel and Malcolm McLaren are mentioned but it doesn’t forget the less celebrated people such as DJ Charlie Gillett who went onto manage Ian Dury. It’s sadly true that despite Punk being such a colourful, exciting and creative movement there really isn’t much in the way of visual documents capturing those early years. What there is however, is decidedly lo-fi and in keeping with the D.I.Y. “anyone can do it” philosophy I guess – so we have Don Letts’ scratchy but exciting “Punk Rock Movie” and “D.O.A.” by Lech Kowalski. Thank god then for the German filmmaker Wolfgang Büld who released his 16mm film “Punk in London” in 1977 featuring vital performances from The Clash, X-Ray Spex, The Lurkers, The Killjoys and The Jam among others. Büld also filmed The Adverts on tour in Germany for “Bored Teenagers” along with other must-see movies “Reggae in Babylon”, “Women in Rock” and “Punk and Its Aftershocks”. 


Of course, the peerless “Quadrophenia” is covered along with Derek Jarman’s “Jubilee” which featured performances from Toyah, Adam Ant and Jordan and then there’s The Clash’s “Rude Boy”. Somewhat surprisingly, very few musicians of the time would break through into “real” acting roles. Joe Strummer had a try with the Director Alex Cox’s “Straight to Hell” and “Walker”, there was Hazel O’Connor’s starring role in “Breaking Glass” and John Lydon appearing alongside Harvey Keitel in “Order of Death”. Actually, on the flipside, it’s some now familiar and highly respected actors who initially made their names with roles in music or related movies – of course most of the cast of Quadrophenia would go on to enjoy mainstream success but also Gary Oldman impressed with his portrayal of Sid Vicious in “Sid & Nancy” and Tim Roth was the menacing skinhead in “Made in Britain”. Interesting trivia snippet: Ray Winstone was the lead singer in the fictitious “band” featured in the movie “Ladies & Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains” alongside Sex Pistols Steve Jones and Paul Cook and The Clash’s Paul Simonon. Then there’s the convoluted story of the making of “The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle” which is more interesting than the movie itself. There’s one obscurity that makes a fleeting appearance in the book and it might be worth trying to track down, “Pervirella” which is a low budget slice of Trash that starred some Medway Garage Rock names that might be familiar to Retro Man Blog regulars - Sexton Ming (as Queen Victoria), Bruce Brand and Billy Childish. The conclusion of the book looks at the way that many of the once fiercely independent and challenging movers and shakers became the new mainstream. Protest movements such as Red Wedge and Rock Against Racism faded out as Thatcherism tightened its grip. Original Punk bands such as The Damned and Siouxsie & The Banshees crossed over into the mainstream, I mean even The Fall hit the charts with “Hit the North”. Of course, the best example of this is how Richard Branson’s once small independent label Virgin rose to such worldwide business prominence. The commerciality of movies also rises with the opening of the first Multiplex cinema in 1986 and there’s the massively hyped blockbuster movies sweeping all before them. Nowadays, it’s Pay-Per-View and Subscription television channels who are challenging the cinema and movie industries with their lavish productions that often seem to equal the scale of a standard Hollywood blockbuster. Maybe this would make for an interesting subject for Simon to tackle in a future book! 

Simon Matthews has had a varied career including a spell running the British Transport Films documentary film library and several years singing in semi-professional rock groups. He has contributed articles on music, film and cultural history to Record Collector, Shindig! and Lobster magazines.You can order "Looking for a New England" from the publishers Oldcastle Books here. I can also thoroughly recommend Simon Matthews excellent "Psychedelic Celluloid: British Pop Music in Film & TV 1965-1974" which is also available from Oldcastle Books