Thursday 24 February 2022

The Stranglers & Ruts DC at Reading Hexagon, Tuesday February 22nd 2022

JJ Burnel and Toby Hounsham of The Stranglers - Photo by Retro Man Blog

Following the stunning show at Guildford G-Live a couple of weeks ago, I'm back for my second dose of The Stranglers and Ruts DC this time at The Reading Hexagon. Tonight probably just edged Guildford, maybe it was because I was downstairs this time round and could appreciate the highly charged atmosphere even more. Anyway, the crowd were right behind special guests Ruts DC from the off and the band responded by treating us to a blistering set. In The Stranglers case, the set-list was tweaked for the better to include "Tank" and "Grip" and these helped to crank up the excitement levels to breaking point. For a full review of The Stranglers and Ruts DC at Guildford including photos by Derek D'Souza then please check out the Blog feature here. In the meantime, here's some photos from the Reading Hexagon show.

Ruts DC at Reading Hexagon - Photo by Retro Man Blog

Ruts DC at Reading Hexagon - Photo by Retro Man Blog

Ruts DC at Reading Hexagon - Photo by Retro Man Blog

Ruts DC at Reading Hexagon - Photo by Retro Man Blog

Ruts DC at Reading Hexagon - Photo by Retro Man Blog

The Stranglers at Reading Hexagon - Photo by Retro Man Blog

The Stranglers at Reading Hexagon - Photo by Retro Man Blog

The Stranglers at Reading Hexagon - Photo by Retro Man Blog

The Stranglers at Reading Hexagon - Photo by Retro Man Blog

The Stranglers at Reading Hexagon - Photo by Retro Man Blog

Tuesday 22 February 2022

Retrosonic Podcast Episode 47 "This Is No Audition" with Special Guest, Rock Photographer Paul Slattery

Ronnie Mayor of The Tours/Da Biz - Photo by Paul Slattery
Welcome to Retrosonic Podcast Episode 47 where Steve is joined by Rock Photographer Paul Slattery to discuss "Retrospectively Yours", the excellent new compilation from Ronnie Mayor of The Tours, the criminally underrated, short-lived Power Pop/New Wave band who Paul first photographed and championed way back in 1979. There's a special feature on the album which highlights Ronnie's songwriting skills with The Tours and Da Biz and we pick a selection of songs from both bands. Steve talks about another great night of conversation at The Exchange in Twickenham hosted by Gary Crowley with his special guests Debsey Wykes from Dolly Mixture and Mick Talbot from The Style Council and we play a classic Dolly Mixture song. Then we have brand new releases from former bandmates in The Prisoners, Graham Day and Allan Crockford, Graham with his debut solo single and Allan with Sounds Incarcerated, the lockdown cover version project with Viv Bonsels. Then there's Autoramas, our favourite Space Age Garage Rockers from Brazil, some perfectly crafted modern day French Ye-Ye from Monsieur Paul et Les Solutions, there's the melodic Glasgow sound of Neil Sturgeon & The Infomaniacs and some blistering tuneful Punk Rock from Suzi Moon. Subscribe for free at Spotify, iTunes, Amazon music, MixCloud or direct from our SoundCloud site below:
Also in this episode, Paul tells us of the time he was kissed by Ronnie Spector and we have the photographic evidence to prove it as you can see below! Then he picks three of his favourite local bands from his time living in Boston including The J. Geils Band, Lyres and Duke & The Drivers. 
Paul in front of two of his iconic Smiths photos.

Paul also talks about a recent trip to Manchester and Stockport to see exhibitions featuring some of his iconic photos and picks a track by his favourite Mancunians, Howard Devoto and Magazine. "There's my Joy Division photos at The Stockport Museum where you can also see sound equipment used in the making of Joy Division's records. Here's some photos from the exhibition of Manchester Rock bands "There Is Light That Never Goes Out" which can be seen in the The Market, University Place, Manchester University, 176 Oxford Rd, Manchester M13 9QQ. In the photo of me with my two Oasis images there's also The Stone Roses by Kevin Cummins and Electronic by Steve Double."
Here Paul explains the early impact of Rock 'n' Roll on his life. "It must have been 1956 or '57. I was six but my neighbour Joe was a rocker and ten years older than me. He'd just got a new Dansette and he stacked up a load of his Elvis records for me to listen to. I'll never forget "Blue Moon of Kentucky" and after listening to that I knew somehow that rock and roll would play a major part in my life although at the time I didn't know actually quite how much that would be. It took me another couple of years before I bought my first Elvis record "Hound Dog" from saving my pocket money and doing odd jobs for neighbours and I bought records regularly after that. There was no pop music on the BBC and you had to listen to Radio Luxembourg if you wanted to hear anything that wasn't your mum and dad's era. My dad helped me string up an outside radio aerial so we could get a better Luxembourg signal. By 1960 we were listening to Elvis, the Shadows, Cliff Richard, Adam Faith, Duane Eddy and my favourite of the year must have been Johnny Preston's "Running Bear" the beat was just amazing. 1961 and '62 were more of the same although Billy Fury who I thought was so cool had crept in by then. So had the Everly Brothers, Chubby Checker, Ray Charles. My fave of 61 was John Leyton's "Johnny Remember Me" recorded in a bathroom by Joe Meek and my fave of '62 was Little Eva and "The Locomotion". 1963 though everything changed."
Ronnie Spector photographed by Paul Slattery

"For me it wasn't just The Beatles, I was just blown away by The Crystals. They were amazing cool black American girls with fantastic harmonies and a shimmy that was out of this world. "Da Doo Ron Ron" and "Then He Kissed Me" were scorchers. I was thirteen and thought these were the most amazing records I'd ever heard. I went straight down to the record shop and bought them. One early Saturday night in the autumn I was watching "Juke Box Jury" with the family on the telly, there was always a couple of good records played every week but when "Be My Baby" came on I was just blown away. I went out and bought the record the next day and played it over and over and over again. I couldn't get enough of it, I must have worn the stylus out playing that record. I noticed the same name on the record as on The Crystals records but Phil Spector wouldn't mean anything to me until I got a bit older. I saw the Ronettes later on the TV and loved them, and that record eventually became my favourite pop record of all time. A few years after I started my rock photography career I found out that Ronnie Spector was going to play a gig at the Venue in Victoria London so I just had to go and take pictures of Ronnie. Halfway through the gig I noticed Ronnie was looking right at me, she crouched down right next to me and let me take a photo of her and the next thing planted her lips firmly against mine with the tenderest of kisses. I couldn't believe it but it was recorded on film by fellow rock photographer David Corio, who got this amazing shot of me and Ronnie."

Ronnie Spector & Paul Slattery photographed by David Corio

"I was so sad when I heard about Ronnie's death recently as memories of  me first hearing "Be My Baby" and that gig at The Venue flooded back. There is a great Wiki article on "Be My Baby" here, I didn't know that The Beach Boys' Brian Wilson also loved this song, as you can read in this article he was obsessed with it. I always knew Brian Wilson and myself would be soul brothers!" Ronnie Spector images. One by me and the one of me and Ronnie kindly donated by David Corio. For more info on David Corio's  photography please check out his official web-site or Instagram.
(Please Click on the highlighted links for info on how you can buy the featured music)
Tracks 1-6 from "Retrospectively Yours" by Ronnie Mayor

1. Da Biz "Can't Wait Till The Summer Comes"

2. The Tours "Language School"

3. Da Biz "This Is No Audition"

4. The Tours "Foreign Girls"

5. The Tours "Imagination"

6. Da Biz "Driven To Tears"

7. Graham Day "You Lied To Me"

8. Autoramas "Sem Tempo"

9. Neil Sturgeon & The Infomaniacs "I Just Wasn't Being Myself" 

10. Sounds Incarcerated "The Real Thing"

11. J. Geils Band "First I Look At The Purse"

12. Duke & The Drivers "What You Got"

13. Lyres "How Do You Know?"

14. Dolly Mixture "How Come You're Such a Hit With The Boys, Jane?"

15. Suzi Moon "Gold Record Autograph"

16. Monsieur Paul et Les Solutions "Pourquoi, Pourquoi"

17. Magazine "The Light Pours Out of Me"

18. The Ronettes "Be My Baby"

With many thanks to Paul Slattery and David Corio for the excellent photographs, copyright as stated. Retrosonic Podcast has a valid PRS Licence. Subscribe for free at Spotify, MixCloud, Apple Podcasts, iTunes or SoundCloud. You can also follow Retro Man Blog on Facebook & Instagram

Tuesday 15 February 2022

The Stranglers & Ruts DC at G-Live Guildford, Thursday February 3rd 2022

The Stranglers at Guildford G-Live - Photo copyright Derek D'Souza

It was such a thrill to be able to witness The Stranglers emotional Guildford homecoming and for once I wasn’t down the front but up on the balcony so could fully appreciate the great lighting and sound at the G-Live. When the farewell tour was announced, I guess like many fans, I was intrigued maybe even in two minds about the decision to go ahead after the sad passing of Dave Greenfield. I didn’t know how they were going to do it, would it be an acoustic tour or would they incorporate backing tapes of Dave’s recorded organ parts? Who knew what was in store? The announcement that the band had recruited someone to play keyboards was interesting, after all Dave was a musical genius and of course a much-loved original member of The Stranglers. In the end, the band certainly made the right decision as the amount of dates marked as sold out undoubtedly proved. But let me put your fears to rest as the new keyboard player Toby Hounsham certainly excelled in what must have been a very daunting task; I mean it’s not as if he can take a back seat given that Dave’s iconic trademark keyboard sound was so integral to the very core of The Stranglers. However, Toby did a fantastic job, the highlight of which was probably the extended instrumental on “Walk on By” which was faultless. I didn’t hear one negative comment about his performance from fans either at the show or on-line and what with such a positive reaction and the band proving to be on such good form, I think they would be silly to call it a day completely. 

The Stranglers at Guildford G-Live - Photo copyright Derek D'Souza

From the opening bars of “Toiler On The Sea” it’s apparent that The Stranglers sound has certainly not been comprised and neither has their energy or seething aggression, “Something Better Change” and “Sometimes” are both as vicious as when I first heard them. The band are on top form and the chemistry and friendship between JJ and Baz shines through, their on-stage banter is always a joy. Toby is introduced and it’s all handled perfectly with the right balance of respect and determination to pay tribute to Dave in the best possible way, to fully enjoy The Stranglers music. Of course, they treat us to all the hits and favourites such as “Peaches” and “Nice ‘n’ Sleazy” but it’s always interesting to discover what curveballs The Stranglers will throw at us and tonight we got one of my favourites “Curfew” which was amazing and “Baroque Bordello” which was slightly less so. The band’s commercial peak is nicely covered by “Skin Deep”, “Always The Sun”, “Golden Brown” and “Strange Little Girl” but there is a bit of a lull as “Don’t Bring Harry” doesn’t quite do it for me. “Water” and “The Last Men on The Moon” from the critically acclaimed new album “Dark Matters” are both cinematic and atmospheric slow burning numbers with strains of Ennio Morricone’s Spaghetti Western soundtracks. The over-the-top disco beat of “White Stallion” with its pulsing sequencers and operatic recorded backing vocals reminds me of Sparks and is a bit out of place but “This Song” is a real modern day Stranglers classic that captures all the aggression and energy that we love. Strangely enough, I’m sitting next to football legend Stuart Pearce,  star of the “This Song” video and of course, huge Stranglers fan. 

The Stranglers at Guildford G-Live - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog

The Stranglers at Guildford G-Live - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog

“Nuclear Device” is ear-splittingly powerful and the three-song salvo of “Straighten Out”, “Duchess” and “Hanging Around” that closes the main set cranks up the excitement to fever pitch but then it’s all over. JJ and Baz come back on for an acoustic interlude of “The Lines” and an emotional “And If You Should See Dave” during which the stage lights dim to leave the keyboards bathed in blue light as Baz sings, “This is where your solo should be…” It’s a moving moment there’s no doubt about it. Then Jim and Toby return for the final encore of “Go Buddy Go” and of course “No More Heroes”, JJ climbing up onto the drum and keyboard riser to deliver that iconic bass intro. What a show and what a performance, The Stranglers never cease to amaze me with their resilience in the face of so many trials and tribulations, and long may that continue. The good news is, it probably will. Although this is billed as the farewell tour, I don’t think it will be the end of The Stranglers

The Stranglers at Guildford G-Live - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog

The Stranglers at Guildford G-Live - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog

Ruts DC opened the show and treated us to a stunning set, in fact, it turned out to be one of the best I’ve seen the band play and it was good to see a large crowd already in place to appreciate it. The Stranglers were obviously generous with the sound and lighting, a luxury not always afforded to support bands on large tours and Ruts DC took full advantage. Right from the first blistering riff of the classic “Something That I Said”, Leigh Heggarty’s guitar sound was immense, filling the large rather soulless auditorium with a wall of sound. Rather like Toby joining The Stranglers and having to replicate Dave Greenfield’s iconic keyboard sound, Leigh had the unenviable task of following one of Punk’s most innovative guitarists Paul Fox. Leigh captures Fox’s trademark glacial sound of “It Was Cold” and “S.U.S.” perfectly, but still adds his own character to the Ruts DC. There’s a manic rush through “You’re Just A…” another classic album track from “The Crack” which positively crackles with energy. The excellent sound means that you can really appreciate Dave Ruffy’s peerless drumming and the deep growl of Segs Jennings bass, proving that the pair are certainly one of the best rhythm sections to have emerged from Punk. They haven’t lost any of that creative chemistry either, in fact Segs nails yet another killer bass riff on the slow burning and atmospheric new song “Born Innocent” which promises much from the next album. Segs says he usually hates it when a band announces they are going to play a new song, but he need not have worried as “Born Innocent” definitely hits the spot and certainly gets an encouraging response from the crowd. 

Ruts DC - photo by Retro Man Blog

They run through a perfectly plotted set-list that’s heavy on Ruts classics, no doubt bearing in mind they are playing to a partisan Stranglers crowd, so there’s nothing from the “Animal Now” or “Rhythm Collision Vol. 1 or 2” albums. Instead we do get a wonderful “Jah War”, “Staring At The Rude Boys”, “West One (Shine On Me)” and the crowd singalong “In A Rut”. They did play a great version of “Kill The Pain” from their latest studio LP, the critically acclaimed “Music Must Destroy”, which sits easily alongside all those familiar classics. In fact, it’s such a fantastic album that I’m not surprised when they choose to close the set with “Psychic Attack” instead of “Babylon’s Burning” and it goes to show that the band are far removed from being a nostalgia act. Ruts DC are going from strength to strength and if you can’t make any of their shows with The Stranglers then don’t worry, the band will be out and about on their own headlining “Faces In The Sky” tour in November/December and you can check out all the details at Ruts DC web-site here

Ruts DC - photo by Retro Man Blog

You can hear a wonderful re-working of a classic Ruts song taken from Ruts DC excellent new “Electracoustic” album in the latest episode of Retrosonic Podcast here. Leigh Heggarty also has his own Blog, the always entertaining "Leigh's Mad World of Guitars". Our Retrosonic Podcast with Leigh is still available at our archives on Spotify, iTunes, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music or you can stream/download directly from our SoundCloud site below.

The Stranglers farewell tour with support from Ruts DC continues and you can find out more information at The Stranglers official web-site here. Top two photos copyright and courtesy of Derek D'Souza, for more information on Derek's photography please check out this web-site here.

Monday 14 February 2022

Derek D'Souza "True Is The Dream - Photography of The Jam, The Style Council and Paul Weller" Exhibition at The Barbican, London

The Barbican in London is currently hosting "True is The Dream: The Photography and Music Memorabilia of The Jam, The Style Council and Paul Weller" by Derek D'Souza. The exhibition also includes items from Paul Weller’s time in The Style Council and solo career, along with many other personal items and other music memorabilia. The exhibition runs until 16th May 2022 and is open 6 days a week, closed on Sunday. Opening times are: Monday, Wednesday and Friday 9.30am–5.30pm; Tuesday and Thursday 9.30am–7.30pm; and Saturday 9.30am–4pm. It is free to enter and there is no need to book in advance. The Barbican Music Library is on the 2nd floor at The Barbican Centre, Silk St, Barbican, London EC2Y 8DS (Take the lift or stairs to the library on the 2nd floor and then walk down the steps into the music library). See for details.

You also check out our Retrosonic Podcast special with Derek in the archives at Spotify, iTunes, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Mixcloud or direct from SoundCloud above. We discuss his book "In Echoed Steps: The Jam and a Vision of The Albion" and how he got to meet The Jam, eventually shooting the cover photography for the "Absolute Beginners" single. Along the way we talk about his early days down the front at gigs, his involvement in the excellent "The Jam: About The Young Idea" exhibition and some of the other bands he has worked with and his fashion photography. Of course there's music too from The Jam, The Past Tense, French Boutik, Nadia Sheikh and The Spitfires. For more information on Derek's photography please check out his official Facebook page here.

Friday 11 February 2022

Toyah at Haslemere Hall, Thursday February 10th 2022

Toyah at Haslemere Hall - photo Retro Man Blog

Toyah treated us to a superb career-spanning show last night at Haslemere Hall in deepest rural Surrey, surely one of the poshest places that I've ever seen a gig and definitely a very apt venue to host a date on the "Posh Pop" album tour. Even Toyah remarked on how posh the area was, which, given the size and grandeur of Toyah & Robert Fripp's home was really saying something. Actually, joking aside, it was refreshing to see a show in a real community theatre, staffed by lovely friendly locals with no over-the-top security or regulations and everyone was extremely helpful. Certainly a bit different from when I saw Toyah for the very first time back in 1981 at the Hammersmith Odeon. So, it was great to see Toyah perform in such an intimate environment and it really suited the Electro-Acoustic line-up which featured Nat Martin on guitars, Chloe Dupree on keyboards, Mike Nichols on bass and Jamie Dupree on guitars and all were superb musicians, really doing justice to the songs. I loved the new arrangements, they all worked really well and in my opinion "Brave New World" even beat the original. It was nice to hear something different for a change rather than note by note reproductions of songs that we pretty much know by heart anyway. 

Toyah at Haslemere Hall - photo Retro Man Blog

Toyah at Haslemere Hall - photo Retro Man Blog

They opened with a version of Martha & The Muffins "Echo Beach" and then a few songs into the set, Toyah encouraged the audience to get up from their seats, go to the front and dance and before "It's A Mystery" she even suggested we might want to get our cameras out and start videoing. Toyah was on fine form both vocally and with her between song chat which covered many diverse topics such as teaching Robert Fripp to do the Twist (unsuccessfully apparently...) and upsetting legendary movie director George Cukor with her red hair. She name-checks her musical collaborators Joel Bogen and Simon Darlow and chats about working with Katharine Hepburn and performing as a female wrestler in "Trafford Tanzi". She mentions the support she received from DJ's such as Mike Read and Janice Long and of how she escaped the attentions of Jimmy Saville during Top Of The Pops. Along the way we even learn about the financial benefits of licencing your music to Weight Watchers. Of course she talks about the terrible effects of the pandemic but lightens the mood somewhat with how she came to master Zoom meetings. 

Toyah at Haslemere Hall - photo Retro Man Blog

Toyah is not only in good humour but also full of a positive and uplifting attitude and I really liked her take on how the all-inclusive attitude of the early Punk movement allowed female musicians in particular to be able to start bands and make a career out of music. She also introduces each song with a little anecdote or nugget of background information which goes down well with us music nerds. And what a great selection of songs it was...all the hits such as "Thunder In The Mountains", "Good Morning Universe" and "I Want To Be Free" and the oldies like "Neon Womb", "Ieya" and "Danced" are complimented by a selection from the excellent new album "Posh Pop" including "Zoom Zoom", "Summer of Love", "Levitate", "Rhythm In My House" and a wonderfully moving "Take Me Home" to close the show. The only negative of a thoroughly entertaining night was the complete absence of merchandise which was a bit strange. However, it saved me some money to put towards the pre-order of the deluxe re-issue of "Toyah! Toyah! Toyah!" so I can't really complain. 

Toyah at Haslemere Hall - photo Retro Man Blog

For details on forthcoming "Posh Pop" tour dates or for general information then please check out the official Toyah web-site here. I'd also like to recommend the excellent "Dreamscape" fanzine which is a must-have for all Toyah fans. Check out further details at their web-site here.

Toyah at Haslemere Hall - photo Retro Man Blog

Tuesday 8 February 2022

Retrosonic Podcast Episode 46 "Stupidly Happy" with Special Guest Buddy Ascott

In Episode 46 of Retrosonic Podcast, Steve from Retro Man Blog welcomes The Chords & The Fallen Leaves drummer Buddy Ascott for an update on his recent musical adventures. We cover The 79'ers tour with The Vapors, recent shows with The Fallen Leaves and his production work with Proper. There's also news on his charity bass drum skin which he is getting signed by as many famous drummers as possible to auction for the Roll Out The Barrel water-aid trust. So far there's the signatures of Nick Mason of Pink Floyd, Clem Burke of Blondie, Rick Buckler of The Jam, John Maher of Buzzcocks, Mick Avory of The Kinks and many more. We actually interrupt the podcast to capture the very last autograph, that of Terry Chambers of XTC. There's music from The Vapors, The Chords and XTC and then we play and discuss some new superb new releases from Ruts DC, The Price, Elvis Costello & The Imposters, Eels, The Len Price 3, The Wedding Present with Louise Wener, Lester Square, Telefis with Jah Wobble, The Jukeez, Goodbye Victory Road and Tiny Flaws. Please click on the highlighted links below for more information on each band and how you can buy their music.

XTC "Bottle From A Rocket"

XTC "Stupidly Happy"

The Len Price 3 "She's Making a Film"

The Vapors "One of My Dreams"

The Chords "One More Minute"

The Price "Between The Lies"

Ruts DC "Something That I Said" (Electracoustic Version)

Telefis (feat. Jah Wobble) "Falun Gong Dancer"

Eels "Steam Engine"

Elvis Costello & The Imposters "My Most Beautiful Mistake"

Newtown Neurotics "Liar Liar"

The Jukeez "Turning You Into"

Tiny Flaws (feat. Bobby Tarlton) "Photogenie"

Goodbye Victory Road "Tomorrow's World"

The Wedding Present (feat. Louise Wener) "We Should Be Together"

Proper "Harlequin"

Lester Square "Zulu" 

Buddy Ascott with Terry Chambers of XTC - photo Retro Man Blog

You can subscribe to Retrosonic Podcast for free at iTunes, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Spotify and SoundCloud. You can listen to our special Lockdown Lowdown episode with Leigh Heggarty from Ruts DC and The Price here. Our Lockdown Lowdown with Buddy Ascott can be found here and the "Rhythm Method" episode featuring Buddy's favourite drummers is available here. Then there's our first episode together with the original story of the charity bass drum skin in the archive here or direct below. Thanks for listening, check out the Roll Out The Barrel charity here and look out for news on the drum skin auction date! Retrosonic Podcast has a valid on-line music PRS Licence.