Friday 23 December 2022

Retrosonic Podcast Episode 50 "Something New" - Best Wishes for Xmas & New Year!

Welcome to this milestone episode of Retrosonic Podcast - yes we've made it to 50 shows so thank you all for your support over the last ten years or so, it is very much appreciated. Of course thanks also to the great bands, artists and record labels who have been producing so such excellent new music that keeps us so busy! So, here's a little Xmas gift for you to celebrate 2022 with - 18 new releases which prove that despite all the hardships of the past year - nothing has stopped the creative force of these fantastic musicians. As always, if you like what you hear, please do check out the feature at Retro Man Blog .com for the full tracklisting and links to discover more about the featured bands - so check out their info, go and see them play live and most importantly - buy their merchandise and records.  Listen in here...

1. Jim Jones All Stars feat. Nikki Hill "It's Your Voodoo Working"

2. The Schizophonics "Won Your Love"

3. Wyld Gooms "Doesn't Matter To Me"

4. The Playn Jayn "It's Not Me"

5. Graham Day "The Memphis Train" (Spinout Nuggets)

 6. Wipeout "Miss Understood" (Spinout Nuggets)

 7. The Beatpack "Greek Street 2AM" (Spinout Nuggets)

 8. Gina Birch "Wish I Was You"

9. Ruts DC "Faces In The Sky"

10. The Jackets "Pie In The Sky"

11. The Jack Cades "Something New"

12. The Embrooks "Black Hatted Lady"

13. The Courettes "Daydream" (Damaged Goods Records)

14. Mimi & The Miseries "Stop Following Me 'Round"

15. AlterModerns "Mask"

16. Nervous Twitch "The History of The Wild West" 

17. Hipbone Slim & The Kneejerks "Lou Anne"

18. The Highmarts "Sorry" from their "Dodgy Demo Tape"

Subscribe to Retrosonic Podcast for free at SoundCloud, Spotify, iTunes and Apple Podcasts. Retrosonic theme tune by Adam Donovan, this episode's cover star Amy K-B. With thanks to Lee Grimshaw at Spinout Nuggets, this year's Retrosonic Podcast special guests Damian O'Neill, Suzi Moon, Pete & Michele at Eel Pie Island Museum, The Gruesomes and my occasional co-presenters Buddy Ascott & Paul Slattery.

Saturday 17 December 2022

Retro Man Blog & Retrosonic Podcast's Best Compilations, Re-Issues, Box-Sets and Live Albums of 2022

Here's Retro Man Blog and Retrosonic Podcast's top 22 Reissues, Compilations, Box Sets and Live Album releases of 2022, we hope you enjoy this selection and if you do, please follow, like, subscribe to the Blog and Podcast and please support all the featured bands and artists. Thanks for all the support throughout the year!

1. That Petrol Emotion "Every Beginning Has A Future: An Anthology"'

2. The Liminanas "Electrified"

3. Blondie "Against The Odds"

4. The Courettes "Back In Mono: B-Sides & Outtakes"

5. Love "Expressions Tell Everything"

6. The Undertones "Dig What You Need"

7. The Gun Club "Preaching The Blues"

8. Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros "1999-2002"

9. The Soundtrack of Our Lives "Homo Habilis Blues"

10. Fabienne Delsol "Between You And Me"

11. The Stranglers "The Men In Black In Tokyo" 

12. The Damned "AD 2022 Live at the Hammersmith Apollo"

13. Various Artists "Psychedelic Forest"

14. The Blue Aeroplanes "Swagger"

15. The Raveonettes "Whip It On/Chain Gang of Love"

16. BMX Bandits "Life Goes On"  

17. Giuda "Live at Punk Rock Raduno"

18. Various Artists "Jon Savage's 1977-1979: Symbols Clashing Everywhere"

19. March Violets "The Palace of Infinite Darkness"

20. Refused "The Shape of Punk To Come"

21. The Stranglers "Suite XVI"

22. Toyah "Toyah! Toyah! Toyah!"

Thanks to all contributors, bands, Podcast special guests and co-presenters, record labels and people who have shared and supported what we have done over the past year. Retro Man Blog and Retrosonic Podcast are an extension of the spirit of my old 1980's D.I.Y. cut 'n' paste fanzine Out of Step and are strictly non-profit without advertising or sponsorship, set up purely to promote music that we like. We hope you have discovered some exciting new music along the way, your support is very much appreciated. 

Friday 16 December 2022

Retro Man Blog & Retrosonic Podcast's Best Albums of 2022 (new releases)

Here's Retro Man Blog and Retrosonic Podcast's top 22 new album releases of 2022, we hope you enjoy this selection and if you do, please follow, like, subscribe to the Blog and Podcast and please support all the featured bands and artists. Thanks for all the support throughout the year!

1. Michael Head & The Red Elastic Band "Dear Scott'

2. Graham Day "Master of None"

3. Damian O'Neill "An Crann"

4. Ruts DC "Counterculture"

5. The Schizophonics " Hoof It"

6. The Guy Hamper Trio "All The Poisons In The Mud"

7. The Brian Jonestown Massacre "Fire Doesn't Grow On Trees"

8. Cat & The Underdogs "Punk Rock Overdrive"

9. The Bug Club "Green Dream In F#"

10. Thee Moot "Mood Swings And Roundabouts"

11. Viagra Boys "Cave World"

12. Suzi Moon "Dumb And In Luv"

13. AlterModerns "Side Effects of Reality"

14. Paper Lips "The Sound of Sound"

15. The Senior Service "A Little More Time With..."

16. Sounds Incarcerated "Unswitchable Hits Vol. 2"

17. Robyn Hitchcock "Shufflemania!"

18. Martin Hederos "Hederos c/o Satie"

19. Gaye Su Akyol "Anadolu Ejderi"

20. The Len Price 3 "Ip Dip Do"

21. Luke Haines & Peter Buck "All The Kids Are Super Bummed Out"

22. Autoramas "Autointitulado"

Thanks to all contributors, bands, Podcast special guests and co-presenters, record labels and people who have shared and supported what we have done over the past year. Retro Man Blog and Retrosonic Podcast are an extension of the spirit of my old 1980's D.I.Y. cut 'n' paste fanzine Out of Step and are strictly non-profit without advertising or sponsorship, set up purely to promote music that we like. We hope you have discovered some exciting new music along the way, your support is very much appreciated. 

Thursday 8 December 2022

The Prisoners at The Royal Function Rooms Rochester Friday December 2nd 2022

Back in one of our earliest episodes of Retrosonic Podcast – myself, Rock photographer Paul Slattery and Adam from The Jetsonics all happened to choose a Graham Day related track for the playlist – in the end we decided on The Solarflares “Windsor Oval” and bemoaned the fact that Graham’s most recent outfit, The Gaolers had sadly called it a day after two blistering albums. There were rumours that Graham had packed in music all together and sold off all his guitars and we all mentioned how good it would be for him to play again. Well, not long afterwards we got our wish as Graham Day and The Forefathers emerged. This new band consisted of Graham, his former Prisoners colleague and bassist, Allan Crockford along with Wolf Howard on the drums and all three were bandmates in Graham’s other post-Prisoners bands, The Solarflares and The Prime Movers. Graham told me in a later Podcast that The Forefathers were “basically a tribute band to myself” – the band were to play the best tracks from The Solarflares, Prime Movers, The Gaolers and of course, The Prisoners too. I knew I just had to get involved and through my dealings with the Medway based band The Len Price 3, who we were championing at the time, managed to secure a show for The Forefathers at The Half Moon in Putney for one of our Retro Man Blog nights. So, despite warnings from more than one person that the band may be “difficult” to deal with I wasn’t to be deterred and the gig sold out pretty much immediately. In fact, I was to go on to promote more shows for The Forefathers along with The Solarflares reunion at the Water Rats in Kings Cross and The Senior Service album launch as well as various gigs with Allan’s own Galileo 7, so obviously I never got to experience their so-called difficult reputation. I must admit though, I was in awe to meet Graham, Allan and Wolf for the first time and it was a bit difficult to separate the fan from the promoter in me initially. Luckily, this is all just a hobby for me, I’m not a professional, so the fan easily won out and I made sure I was down the front among the “middle-aged mosh-pit” as Graham christened us from the stage – leaping about and singing along to all those classic songs. The Half Moon gigs seemed to go down a storm and thankfully the band enjoyed them too, so we did a few more shows together over the years. I’d told the band that the first time I ever became aware of The Prisoners was seeing them on CH4’s The Tube when they played “Reaching My Head” dressed in Star Trek outfits and then before one Forefathers show at The Half Moon, I went backstage to see Star Trek costumes hanging in the dressing room. I was almost moved to tears! It was great hearing The Forefathers play those Prisoners songs again even if they were stripped back and raw minus the Hammond organ. 

However, nothing quite beats the real thing and that’s what we got treated to courtesy of Lee Grimshaw and his team at the fabulous Spinout Nuggets, a Prisoners reunion to celebrate 40 years since the release of their classic debut album “A Taste of Pink” with the original line-up of Graham and Allan, James Taylor and Johnny Symons. The four of them had got together to play at a couple of benefit shows over the summer and I guess that’s where the idea for a full-scale reunion sprang from. So, some 37 years since I last saw The Prisoners, I was to get the dream opportunity to see them again at The Royal Function Rooms in Rochester, the jewel in their Medway home. The rush for tickets was phenomenal, the initial Friday night sold out in an instant and was soon followed by the announcement of further shows on the Saturday, then the Wednesday and Thursday were added too. Due to the demand, the Saturday was to be filmed for an on-line livestream which enabled even more eager fans around the world the chance to see their heroes in action. I must admit to being a bit concerned on how the shows would pan out and doubts were raised – would the band get along, Johnny doesn’t seem to have played drums regularly since The Prisoners, is James Taylor “too famous” nowadays? But as they took the stage to the strains of the theme from “The Sweeney” and Allan announced “track one, side one” and they powered into “Better In Black” and that crunching guitar riff hit everyone between the eyes, you could sense a huge tide of emotion spread through the crowd around me.


It was a real mixture of relief, disbelief and all those memories of being back at the Hammersmith Clarendon, the Star Trek outfits on The Tube flooded back. The band look great, sound great, turning back the clock – sounding as fresh, youthful and powerful as you could ever have wished for. For the first set, they play the whole of the debut album from the Garage Go-Go stompers like “Creepy Crawlies” and “Maybe I Was Wrong” to the emotional heartfelt numbers like “There Can’t  Be A Place” and my particular favourite “Til The Morning Light” which brings a lump to the throat – it’s a classic track that surely paved the way for The Charlatans and Inspiral Carpets to plunder and take to far more commercial success than the Prisoners ever achieved. It’s a travesty, but there you go – sadly, true originators often get overlooked. I mean, I can’t remember any other band on the scene at the time using a Hammond organ – The Fuzztones used a Farfisa to conjure up that authentic Nuggets sound but generally, keyboards and in particular the cumbersome Hammond, were a rarity. Of course, James Taylor has now become an internationally acclaimed Hammond maestro with his Quartet and it’s a truly wonderful experience to hear those swirling riffs again, in particular on “Say Your Prayers” which is a personal highlight.

There’s an interval and a chance to catch up with friends and exchange delighted chatter about just how bloody marvellous it all is and there was a real buzz of adrenaline coursing through the Royal Function Rooms. I bumped into a lot of people I’d got to know through our Retro Man Blog gigs over the years, many of whom are in their own bands including The Past Tense, Jetstream Pony, Thee Girl Fridays, The Beatpack, Of Arrowe Hill, The Len Price 3, The Dentists and everyone agreed we were experiencing something very special indeed. Thankfully, the band seemed to be enjoying themselves too – there’s lots of smiles and a nice chemistry between all four bandmates and in particular, between Johnny and James. One thing that hit me was to reminded just how good a drummer Johnny is, he’s lost none of the chops, powering away cheerfully through some quite complicated drum patterns and his performance gets a thumbs up from everyone I spoke to. “Hurricane” opens the second set and then follows most of the superb “The Last Fourfathers” album, although sadly no “I Am The Fisherman” which is saved for the very last number on the Saturday night Livestream. Of course, “Whenever I’m Gone” gets a huge cheer but for me it’s the “Thinking Of You (Broken Pieces)” that hits me right in the heart and I must admit to a tear in the eye as everyone sings along to the uplifting chorus. It would have been worth the entrance fee alone just to experience that one moment of magic. 

The set is punctuated by only two tracks from the “In From The Cold” album, luckily they are “Find And Seek” and the soulful strut of “Deceiving Eye” which has always been one of my favourite Prisoners songs. The band also play a fair selection of instrumentals including “Revenge of The Cybermen” and “Night of The Nazgul” – tracks that would lay the foundation for Graham’s current project The Senior Service and their Ennio Morricone, Barry Gray influenced tunes. The set closes with the classic “Melanie” which sparks off some frenetic dancing down the front and then sadly, it’s all over. But is it? Of course, there are encores, and the instrumental rarity “American Jingle” gets an airing along with “Reaching My Head” the very track that I first heard from The Prisoners and then finally it’s their cover of “Hush” and it really is all over. What can I say? Better than I could ever have hoped for – if it is to be The Prisoners last stand then I’m just thankful I was there to witness it. However, the reaction and demand was just too good to be ignored – and taking into account, the band seemed to be having fun too – I’m sincerely hoping that they will consider more gigs in the future. 

Sadly, just prior to the gigs the news filtered through that The Royal Function Rooms and worse still, the legendary Ranscombe Studios which is housed in the premises, are due to close soon. This is a nightmare and yet more damning evidence that cultural buildings have no protection in these relentless greed and profit driven times. How many great venues have we lost – not just the traditional down and dirty places such as the Marquee, The Fulham Greyhound, The Hammersmith Clarendon and the 12 Bar Club but historic buildings in their own right, like the Astoria and the Hammersmith Palais too. There is a fundraising concert at The St. George’s Hotel in Chatham on January 13th to help with the relocation of Ranscombe Studios that features a mouth-watering line-up of Medway talent including The Solarflares, The Len Price 3, The Galileo 7, The Masonics, Theatre Royal and more. Tickets and information can be found at this link

Huge credit to Lee and Dave Grimshaw at Spinout Nuggets and their team for organising the shows so brilliantly. Don't forget to check out the Retro Man Blog archive for loads of previous features on Medway related bands and music including reviews, videos and photos of all our shows with The Forefathers, Solarflares, The Galileo 7, The Len Price 3 and more. Also, all episodes of Retrosonic Podcast are available at our archives at Spotify, Apple Podcasts, iTunes or Soundcloud including interview specials with Graham, Allan & Wolf, The Len Price 3, Billy Childish, Ian Greensmith of The Dentists and much more besides. More videos from the Royal Function Rooms show can also be found at our Retromanblog65 YouTube channel, here's a taster...

Thursday 10 November 2022

New Retrosonic Podcast Live Q&A with Damian O'Neill and Music Journalist Ann Scanlon to Promote Damian's New Solo LP "An Crann"

We captured a great evening's entertainment at the Heavenly Social in London on November 6th with Undertones guitarist Damian O'Neill promoting his excellent new LP "An Crann" in a Q&A session hosted by Brian O'Neill of Dimple Discs Records and music journalist Ann Scanlon. As well as the story behind the record and its various influences, Damian also discussed various anecdotes from his time with The Undertones, That Petrol Emotion and The Everlasting Yeah. As well as tales of The Undertones on Top of The Pops, touring with The Clash and news of the forthcoming That Petrol Emotion box-set, we also find out how Damian nearly joined Dexys Midnight Runners and how he should have been a famous footballer! The episode is soundtracked by Damian's personal selection of songs from the new album. You can subscribe to Retrosonic Podcast for free at Spotify, iTunes, Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts or direct from our SoundCloud site below.

You can order "An Crann" from the Dimple Discs Records Bandcamp site here. For more information please check out Damian's official web-site here. Photos from the night copyright Retro Man Blog. Thanks to Damian and Viv, Ann Scanlon, Brian O'Neill and Neil Waite from The Undertones Rocking Humdingers Club page. 

Top Photo, Damian with Dimple Discs boss Brian O'Neill. Third Photo, Damian with That Petrol Emotion, The Everlasting Yeah bassist Brendan Kelly. Fourth photo Damian with Ann Scanlon.

Tuesday 25 October 2022

The Undertones - Videos from their De La Warr Pavilion show & news of Damian O'Neill Q&A to promote his new solo LP "An Crann"

The Undertones played a blinder at the beautiful Art Deco De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea on Saturday, a thirty three song set-list packed full of their melodic Pop nuggets. There was certainly no let up in the intensity as the songs whizzed by and the always amusing Mickey Bradley even commented on the rapid-fire delivery, "You can hold your breath right through to the end of most of our songs" and "we're playing even faster so that Billy can get back to watch Match of The Day". The band are on top form and the wonderful backing vocal harmonies from Damian and Mickey really shine through, although the crowd give them a run for their money as they join in whole-heartedly. Paul's voice and confidence has come on leaps and bounds (in fact he does quite a lot of leaping and bounding on stage) since I first saw one of the early shows after the band got back together. The 'Paul-era' songs so brilliantly collected in the recent Dimple Discs compilation "Dig What You Need" are well represented and in particular "Oh Please", "Thrill Me" and "Dig Yourself Deep" are as good as any of the classics from their impressive back catalogue.


Mickey and James Brown with respective books - photo Retro Man Blog
But yes there's no escaping those classics and of course we get them all, "Here Comes The Summer", "Get Over You", a sublime "Wednesday Week", "Jimmy Jimmy" dedicated to Loaded editor James Brown and "Teenage Kicks" dedicated to the ever-youthful U.K. Subs frontman Charlie Harper, both present at the show. John and Damian's inter-twining guitars are as vibrant as ever and those timeless riffs on "You've Got My Number" and "I Know A Girl" really hit home. It's great that they play some of the less celebrated gems such as my favourite, the heart-tugging "Tearproof" and tracks such as "When Saturday Comes" and "Crisis of Mine". I recently wrote - at some length I know - on the importance and impact of The Undertones (and their various off-shoots) on my life in a feature on their stunning show at the Camden Electric Ballroom back in April so I won't repeat myself here, but needless to say The Undertones treated us to another life-affirming evening's entertainment. Anyway, please do check out my feature here if you would like to know just why they mean so much to me and there are lots of lovely photos if you do get bored with my heartfelt ramblings! 


You can check out more videos from the show at our Retro Man Blog YouTube channel here.

Damian O'Neill has been busy outside of The Undertones too - the brilliant second album by 5 Billion In Diamonds to which he contributes, has finally been released on vinyl and then Dimple Discs will be putting out his new instrumental solo LP "An Crann" on coloured vinyl and CD. The vinyl pressing of this sounds particularly impressive and there have been advance copies for sale at recent Undertones shows. Before Saturday's show Damian told me he was a bit concerned what die-hard Undertones fans might think of the album seeing as it is all very atmospheric and instrumental, but I think anyone who did invest in a copy at the merchandise stands would be extremely impressed. As we discovered in our thoroughly entertaining career retrospective Retrosonic Podcast with Damian "From The Undertones to The Monotones" - he is no stranger to ambient and instrumental music and "An Crann" is a damn near perfect and satisfying listen. From the absolutely stunning opening track "Mas o Menos", which draws heavily on the Gitanes soaked Gallic atmosphere of Serge Gainsbourg's "Histoire de Melody Nelson" and The Liminanas, we are taken on an evocative journey through eleven beautifully constructed pieces of music. 

"An Crann" is not Folk music and it's not an album of 'ambient soundscapes', or is it? It's very difficult to categorise. It could almost be the soundtrack to an imaginary movie or incidental music from a prime Nordic Noir drama and yet then sometimes I get hints of Anton Karas's "The Third Man" or John Barry's "The Persuaders" theme. Then there are very organic, pastoral pieces that take you right out of your living room and place you deep into the middle of some mysterious fog-bound forest. The album's sound and feel is captured perfectly in Damian's daughter Rosa's stunning cover photography, in fact as the album was mainly recorded at home during lockdown, "An Crann" is something of a family affair. Damian plays most of the instruments throughout and wife Viv, along with Rosa, both add suitably atmospheric and effective vocal harmonies to the proceedings. To promote the album, Dimple Discs have arranged a Q&A session with Damian in conversation with Ann Scanlon at The Social at 5 Little Portland Street in London on Sunday November 6th, doors open at 7pm and tickets can be bought here. Copies of "An Crann" will be available on the night but if you can't make it, you can order from Bandcamp here. Don't forget to check out our Retrosonic Podcasts with Damian, two on his own music and a special on That Petrol Emotion where Damian is joined by Raymond and Ciaran from the band - you can subscribe to Retrosonic Podcast for free at Spotify, iTunes, Apple Podcasts or direct from our SoundCloud site below:

Sunday 9 October 2022

Paul Simonon "Two Years: London and Mallorca" & Caroline Coon "Love of Place" Art Exhibitions

Caroline Coon at Paul Simonon's exhibition 

We went along to two Clash-related Art exhibitions on one afternoon in London recently. Firstly, it was to the John Martin Gallery to see "Two Years: London and Mallorca" which bought together an excellent collection of oil-colours painted by Paul Simonon during the pandemic from two very contrasting locations. There's the area around Paul's Paddington studio which is dimly lit by street lamps and exudes an almost Victorian-era atmosphere and then S'Estaca, a remote fishing village on the island of Mallorca which Paul has painted not only as the sun-kissed idyll you might expect but also grey and overcast, or bathed in moonlight. Both sets of pantings in their different ways, perfectly capture a slightly ominous sense of solitude and isolation felt during the various lockdowns. There's also a selection of wood carvings, something I've never seen at any of Paul's exhibitions before. By chance I noticed that former Clash manager, Melody Maker journalist, author and artist Caroline Coon was at the gallery too so I said hello and had a brief and pleasant chat. I mentioned that the first book I ever bought about Punk (and still one of my favourites) was her excellent "1988 The New Wave Punk Rock Explosion" although I forgot to ask her just what 1988 had to do with it, given that the book was published in 1982 and most of the action was from 1976 and 1977, anyway, that's a mystery that remains unsolved! Caroline mentioned that she also had a exhibition of her own art at the Stephen Friedman Gallery  just round the corner so we popped in to check that out too. In complete contrast to Paul's paintings of isolation, Caroline's "Love of Place" exhibition is full of huge canvasses packed with people. The paintings are a joyous celebration of the multi-cultural community of Ladbroke Grove in West London, a place also of course synonymous with The Clash and are bursting with vibrant colour. 

For more information, please check out the links below:

John Martin Gallery

Paul Simonon Art 

The Clash official web-site

Stephen Friedman Gallery

Caroline Coon

Paul Simonon with my Retro Man Blog colleague and Clash photographer,
Paul Slattery at the 
Black Market Clash Exhibition

Caroline's "Love of Place" exhibition runs until November 5th. Paul's exhibition has now ended.

Sunday 25 September 2022

Those 12 Bar Nights - New Book by Mark 'Barnet' Webster with memories from Staff, Performers and Customers of the much-missed 12 Bar Club

"Those 12 Bar Nights" is a suberb, beautifully presented new book by Mark 'Barnet' Webster that features memories, photos and stories from Staff, Performers and Customers of London's much-missed 12 Bar Club. I've heard the 12 Bar described as the best ever dive bar, a Punk Rock Heaven (and haven) and London's answer to CBGB's and it's loss to heartless property developers and culturally clueless money-grabbing local council and Government is still keenly felt. I haven't missed a venue so much since the Hammersmith Clarendon was similarly bulldozed to make way for a monstrosity of a shopping mall. Sure, I also mourn the loss of the Astoria, The Hammersmith Palais, The Old Trout in Windsor, The Marquee and many more - but the 12 Bar was so much more than just another venue. It was the social aspect too, a place where lasting friendships and memories were formed, all right in the heart of London's most famous and historic musical street, Tin Pan Alley or Denmark Street to give it it's rightful name. The book is beautifully illustrated and includes hundreds of photographs of not only some of the bands and people that appeared, but of the character-packed venue itself. Initial copies of the book were individually credited on the cover, signed and included prints, stickers and postcards of various flyers, posters and superb cartoon artwork, the whole package is an absolute delight. Credit to Mark for the painstaking work in compiling the many contributions into a fascinating and nostalgic look back at the 12 Bar Club's history - including my own, as you can see reproduced below...

"I first went to the 12 Bar Club when The Fallen Leaves started their Minimum R'n'B Club nights on a Wednesday and straight away I was hooked. I was so happy to find a spiritual Rock 'n' Roll home right in the heart of London but also angry with myself that I hadn't discovered it sooner. I rarely missed any of the Leaves' residencies, not only were they one of the best live acts I'd seen but they had the habit of choosing excellent support acts and DJ's to make them nights to remember. The only downside was the Wednesday night... as I had to travel into London from out in the sticks and the nights were long and late, I found myself transported back to my youth - rushing out to race across town to catch the last fast train home. As I soon made many good friends and gig acquaintances at the 12 Bar Club, I learned to sneak out secretly as saying goodbye to everyone could take quite a while and the trains would not wait just for me! This soon went by the wayside and I would usually be late and have to cadge a lift back or wait at the station for the bone-shaker slow train. It was always worth it.

It was the friends I made at the 12 Bar that would be equally, if not more important than the great bands I would see there and this will always make it a hugely important part of my life. It also kept me busy with loads of content for Retro Man Blog and Retrosonic Podcast and myself and my colleague, Rock Photographer Paul Slattery, filed loads of reports from memorable gigs at the 12 Bar. There are too many great nights to mention them all, just check out the Blog and you can see what I mean - but I would say one particularly memorable night was Crash '74 who were a one-off band featuring Harley Feinstein, the original drummer of one of my favourite bands Sparks and his wife Michelle on vocals. They were joined by Nicky Forbes from The Revillos, Stevie Savage and friends to deliver a fun-packed singalong of some of their greatest hits and a selection of cover versions. So, I owe the 12 Bar a hell of a lot and I was gutted when I heard it was going to close down. Hopefully, one day in the future we'll see a new 12 Bar appear - we can but dream!"

You can buy the book from the London Callin' web-site here and there's also a Facebook Group with more information here. There may be plans to release a second edition, so if you have any memories, photos or stories from the 12 Bar Club but missed out contributing to this book, then please contact Mark at the Facebook Group. 

Thursday 8 September 2022

Retrosonic Podcast - Eel Pie Island Museum, The History and Legacy of The Thames Delta 1960's British Beat and R'n'B Explosion

In the latest episode of Retrosonic Podcast, Steve from Retro Man Blog and Buddy Ascott of The Fallen Leaves are on location at the excellent Eel Pie Island Museum in Twickenham in the company of museum curator Michele Whitby and music historian Pete Watt. We discuss the rich musical heritage of what has become known as the Thames Delta and the birthplace of 60's British Beat and R'n'B, focusing on the legendary Eel Pie Island Hotel and some of the famous acts who played there. From it's opening night in 1956 and the Trad Jazz of Acker Bilk, Chris Barber and George Melly to the last show in 1970, the Hotel hosted gigs by many hugely influential bands and artists. There were shows by the leading importers of American Blues and R'n'B such as Alexis Corner, Long John Baldry and John Mayall, the originators Howlin' Wolf and John Lee Hooker and of course, their young acolytes such as the Rolling Stones, The Artwoods and Downliners Sect. That's not to forget Soul acts like Jimmy Cliff and Geno Washington and even the later incarnation when the Hotel was transformed into Colonel Barefoot's Rock Garden and started putting on Heavy Rock and Psychedelic acts such as Deep Purple, Joe Cocker and Black Sabbath. One of the most fascinating aspects is discovering all the now legendary names who made early pre-fame and fortune appearances at the Eel Pie Hotel including David Bowie with The Manish Boys, Jeff Beck with The Tridents, Ian McLagan with The Muleskinners and Eel Pie audience regular, Rod 'The Mod' Stewart with Steampacket. 

Surprisingly, despite Pete Townshend's strong links with Twickenham - after all, his studios and publishing company were named after the Eel Pie Island - The Who only played there once and you might be surprised to find out when. The answer can be found in the episode along with other interesting facts and anecdotes - for example, just how did bands get their equipment to the Hotel before the bridge was built? Did you really need a passport to cross to the Island? Why did The Pretty Things never get to play there? The Hotel was sadly destroyed by fire in 1971 and is now the site of luxury flats but thankfully, the Eel Pie Island Museum is keeping the remarkable legacy of Eel Pie Island alive in such a vibrant and enthusiastic way. To find out more about the Museum and the history of Eel Pie Island, including their mightily impressive list of bands and artists who played at the Hotel, details on visiting, yearly membership, merchandise and much more please check out the official web-site here. If you're going along to the Museum we'd also recommend a visit to the excellent Eel Pie Records, check out the regular live shows at The Eel Pie Club at the Cabbage Patch and of course enjoy a pint or two at the Eel Pie pub. For our report on the recent Don Craine tribute and fund-raising gig at The Half Moon Putney, please check out the feature in our archive here. Retrosonic Podcast Episode 48 features Buddy and Rob Green of The Fallen Leaves discussing the show and there's also an exclusive new song from Thee Headcoats Sect, the band that Billy Childish formed with Don Craine. We'd also recommend the books "British Beat Explosion: Rock 'n' Roll Island" and "Raving Upon Thames: An Untold Story of Sixties London" by Andrew Humphreys for further reference and inspiration. You can subscribe to Retrosonic Podcast for free at Spotify, Apple Podcasts, iTunes, Amazon Music or direct from SoundCloud below:

Here's a few more photos of the Museum and Eel Pie Island itself (copyright Retro Man Blog).

Michele, Pete and Buddy Ascott

The bridge to Eel Pie Island
The site of the old Eel Pie Island Hotel
The impressive list of Eel Pie Island Hotel shows


Downliners Sect "Glendora"

Rolling Stones "I Just Want To Make Love To You"

Rolling Stones "Not Fade Away"

The Artwoods "If I Ever Get My Hands On You"

The Muleskinners "Back Door Man"

The Who "I'm A Boy"

Downliners Sect "Why Don't You Smile Now?"

The Steampacket "Can I Get A Witness?"

Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames "Yeh, Yeh"

Geno Washington "Hold On I'm Comin'"

The Manish Boys "Take My Tip"

With sincere thanks to Michele and Pete at The Eel Pie Island Museum. Eel Pie Island resident Sheba from Bitter & Twisted Cartoons designed the fantastic Eel Pie caricatures picture (as seen below), which can be found on tea towels, posters and postcards in the museum shop.