Friday, December 31, 2010

All the way to 11

As the song goes what are you doing New Years Eve? If there's a whole lotta leg-shaking and shindigging going on, I've got some ready made pulses pumpers and foot-tappers ready to roll ...or perhaps use as music to to boost your mood, while dandifying yourself for a night out

A repost of over 6 hours worth of wall-to-wall wallop via 5 mixes available for a strictly limited period only - they're here today and gone tomorrow...

Whatever you're up to - raising a glass, shaking a leg, swishing a hip (or anything else that wobbles) - have a good one and I'll see you on the other side...HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Rock Around the Clock 1
Sparkly, bubbly ice-breakers to soundtrack the to-ing and fro-ing

Rock Around the Clock 2
Tunes to warm up the room

Rock Around the Clock 3
Tunes to lively up your legs

Rock Around the Clock 4
Rocking the roof right off..

Rock, roll, mod 'n' soul...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Dear Diary - December

Which album is Kid Christmas is holding? Scroll down for the answer

And so shipmates we come to our end-of-year sign off, the closing chapter in our 12 month part-work. But what a year, skin-shedding from disco poppet to teenage punk and junking Edwin Starr for Sid Vicious, with all manner of hi-jinks, capers and carry ons recorded forever by way of a few scribbled bits. Coincidentally I found the 1980 (mentioned on 12th) calendar last month. What do you reck' give it a go, or stick to '79?

What was traditionally a bumper month for birthdays 14th, 16th and 28th has become a case of 'last man standing'. But let's not end on morose note, and before we step into Christmas...I'll dedicate the entire run of Dear Diary posts to mum and dad who made this year, and every year, so special for me.

What can we spot in December then: a torn ankle ligament, early snow (18th), black DMs (10th) and two family traditions. The tree and deccies up around my birthday. And a London run driving to the maternal aunts and uncles handing out gifts and prezzies. I literally loved this, dad zipping around town and seeing the capital kitted out in it's Christmas shiny finery

Chart-wise the closing moments of '79 looked like this. Tune-wise I'll leave you with a couple in keeping with the punky mood of this month (Damned, Wolfmen). The Greedies (a re-up, as my single's dropped down the back of our wardrobe), a New Year's variant of the same track from the Kenny Everett show plus a best of '79 chart run-down with Tony Blackburn...sensational!. And not 79-ish in anyway but also a tune from Spector LP pictured with David 'Kid' Jensen..

Let's all meet up in the year 2011. Until then - have yourselves a merry little Christmas and a rocking New Year doings. Make the most of your loved ones, go easy on the port and plum duff, and hope Santa brings you everything you've worked and wished for..


London Calling should be in here too, but seems to have gone the way of The Greedies

The Greedies - A Merry Jingle.mp3

Darlene Love - It's A Marshmallow World

Monday, December 20, 2010

Guest Blogger: The Ghost of Christmas Pop...

Hold onto your Santa hats pop-pickers as Terry of the spectacular TOTP The Definitive Website , delivers a hamper of Hallmark's holiday hits. Vol 42 listed today, was my very first TOTP album - even now seeing the cover, takes me back to sitting in mum and dad's rocking chair, eating endless helpings of marmite on toast by our 3 bar electric fire, which incidentally, caught the cat's tail aflame once. But that's another tale for another time (come on, it is Panto season) for now it's over to Terry and his grotto of goodies...

One of the most astute marketing decisions in pop was taken by the tiny Hallmark label in 1968, when they launched their “Top of the Pops” albums – a series of LPs packed with cheaply made, but passable cover versions of current pop hits. The masterstroke was realising the BBC had failed to trademark the title – and so by purloining it, Hallmark could cash in on unwitting punters thinking they were getting the real soundtrack to the TV programme. Come Christmas, untold numbers of unsuspecting parents and grandparents must have found these LPs in the shops and picked them up at seemingly bargain prices for the kids.

It’s Christmas Day, 1971, and on this morning, the new national album charts are published. And at number 13, it’s “Top of the Pops volume 20” [one of my favourite covers - Mond]outselling current classics by Carol King, Rod Stewart and James Taylor, among others. That same Christmas morning, “Hot Hits 8” was at a lofty number 2, while “Pye Chartbusters 2” was also in the top 30 – proof that Christmas was the ideal time for budget albums like these to fly off the shelves. And so it seems appropriate at this time of year to pay tribute to the “Top of the Pops” phenomenon, by rounding up some of their finest seasonal offerings – cover versions all, but which perfectly capture the moment......

We start our review with something of a Christmas pudding from our Elton. In his prime and scoring top 10 hits for fun, it was a major eyebrow-raiser when the custom-made “Step Into Christmas” struggled to a Scrooge-like 24 on the singles charts. “Top of the Pops” captured a version for volume 35, Elton himself no stranger to the budget covers scene of course, having recorded a good number of vocals for LPs such as this before he was famous. (In fact he can be heard singing on “Top of the Pops” volume 5, but that’s another story.) This rendition doesn’t sound too much like Elton, but to be fair, sounds every bit a Christmas hit.

Step Into Christmas  - Vol 35 (1973)

One of the strangest pop phenomena of the 1970s (and that’s saying something!) was that of the Wombles. This bizarre novelty act, brainchild of Mike Batt, somehow managed to rack up four top 10 hits in 1974 alone, the best of the lot, “Wombling Merry Christmas” which was held off the top of the hit parade only by Mud’s rival offering, “Lonely This Christmas”. The Poppers plumped for the Wombles and covered them in style; in this instance, it hardly mattered that this was not the original version. Rumour has it the Wombles didn’t play on their own singles anyway… It’s easy to dismiss this track as just kids’ stuff, but use your imagination. Change the words “Wombling Merry Christmas” for “rollicking Merry Christmas” and you have a hit which could give Wizzard’s concurrent Xmas anthem a run for its money.

Wombling Merry Christmas - Vol 42 (1974)

In the years before Simon Cowell got to decide what would be Christmas number 1 sometime over the summer, the coveted top slot was much more of a lottery than today. It is a curious fact that until 1973, only one Christmas song managed it – “Mary’s Boy Child” by Harry Belafonte, way back in December 1957. All that changed in the 70s, with Christmas-themed number 1s becoming the norm on the 25th, and “Top of the Pops” couldn’t have been better timed to celebrate the fact. Come 1978, it was a return to Christmas of yore, with “Mary’s Boy Child” top of the Christmas tree once again, courtesy of a dramatically updated version by Boney M. “Top of the Pops” do their best with this awkward fusion of seasonal worship and hedonist discotheque, as heard on volume 77, but it was never going to be an easy job. For some reason they released it a year late, in December 1979. Work that one out?!

Mary's Boy Child - Vol 77 (1979)

Back in the early 1970s, when John Lennon really believed he could change the world for the better, he set about creating what he reckoned would replace “White Christmas” as the definitive seasonal song. “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” may not have quite managed that, but one wonders if Macca was just a tad jealous anyway? No sooner had Wings flown the nest than Sir Paul rushed out his first solo offering in almost a decade. “Wonderful Christmastime” is pure McCartney, bouncy, catchy, commercial and completely bereft of substance. “Top of the Pops” couldn’t resist a crack at Macca’s hit single, which can be heard on the same volume 77 with “Mary’s Boy Child”.

Wonderful Christmastime - Vol 77 (1979)

Fast forward one year, and Christmas will never be the same for Beatles fans. Lennon’s murder in early December cast a shadow over the festive season, the pop charts of Christmas 1980 commemorating his passing with a slew of his singles piling up in the top end of the listings. “Happy Xmas” was among them, appropriately entering the charts in Christmas week, but too late for the December “Top of the Pops” (and completely unsuitable for the January LP). Christmas number 1 that year was Lennon’s would-be comeback single, “(Just Like) Starting Over”, redolent of its time and place, and worthy of another listen through the Poppers’ prism. (Was it really thirty years ago?)

(Just Like) Starting Over - Vol 83 (1980)

We open our last “Top of the Pops” present, as the LP series was itself coming to a conclusion, in 1981. Number 1 on Christmas day are the distinctly uncelebratory Human League, but we have our eternal saviour at number 2, in the form of Clifford Richard. For a month, his schmaltzy “Daddy’s Home” was poised to capture top spot, but somehow never did, divine intervention apparently not forthcoming. Perfect for a festive “Top of the Pops” album, this lullaby track sees out our Yuletide survey with all the ghastly bad taste we associate with the season, and indeed with Cliff. Merry Christmas – and go easy on the cheese.

Daddy’s Home - Vol 89 (1981)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Captain Sensible sails into Southend and saves the day with an eclectic-electric evening

Photo's by Coops  - compare with Captain in '83

Here's something for your next pub quiz: did you know the wacky world of Rock n Roll even has it's own industry-specific illness? Tour Flu - when a virus takes hold in the cramped confines of the tour bus causing a collective infection amongst band mates. It was this rotten ol' lurgy that led to the Glitter Band's last minute cancellation of their Southend show on Monday. And we'd glammed up n'everything. Me - leopard skin and velvet (not quite as jarring as it sounds). Mrs M - looking pretty in pink.

Followed by a wave of boosts and beams when it was announced, trooper that he is, Captain Sensible would be pitching in with an ad hoc extended set for the evening .. I was lucky enough to catch up with Captain briefly before and after the show, a thoroughly lovely gent, but the poor ol' sausage (veggie sausage - natch!) was suffering some serious throat agg' himself and sounding for all the world like Weezy from Toy Story. So, none of us assembled Southenders were quite prepared for the rock 'n' rollercoaster ride that happened over the next seventy or so minutes

Opening with Captain's solo material, an ear-catching songbook of jangle, clang and Anglo-melodies, almost Kevin Ayers-ish topped off with poppier sensibilities. But, before you could say Captain (he said Wot!) we were racing and ripping  through The Damned era hits - Love Song, Neat, Neat, Neat and Cap's Crass team up - (What d'Ya Give) The Man Who's Gotten Everything.

But then boys and girls, then, that infamous tribal, Glitter beat began working it's sordid, foot-stomping, hip-twitching magic and you're caught cobra-like, lost in the crazy rhythm - punching a fist in the air and shouting YEAH when Captain asks Do You Wanna Touch? (X 3)

And still the evening's doings weren't completely done. Through a few canny phone calls, bass player - ex Damned member and Hot Rodder Paul Gray - had located and roped in a solid gold local ledge, Barrie Masters, frontman of Eddie and The Hot Rods - looking for all the world like David Johansen meets Patrick Troughton - leaping on stage left and leading the Captain's gang into a hand-clapping run through of Do Anything You Wanna Do and Gloria.

When the band finally bailed after a second encore, they hung about the venue as if both punters and performers were sharing the same stunned, head-spinning experience at what magic had just crackled around the room. All created entirely on the fly by way of an improv' set list and a handful of rehearsed-that-afternoon tunes. An explosive, unfolding, one-off performance of musical winging and adrenaline riffing. An evening that could so easily have backfired became a high-firing night for all.

Highlights:  Captain serenading Mrs M and I during Happy Talk's 'talk about the boy/girl' section. Hearing Cap's jangle and top-line soloing interlocking with Paul Gray's furious fingers and bass dynamics (I've literally never seen anyone drive a bass like this before..) The Captain's between song panto-banter. And post-show, chatting with Cap, the band and Hot Rods ledge Barrie Masters.

I've been to God knows how many gigs and seen The Damned multiple times over the years - but I've never seen anything that comes close to the sparky musicianship, fluid band mechanics and camaraderie of this event. And the 14th, which could have been a day of glumness (mum's first birthday since losing her) was lifted by the lingering afterglow of this glittering gig.

God bless Captain's solo outings and all who sail with him...

There's only two days left to catch Captain and gang in action....

Captain Sensible - (What D'Ya Give) The Man Who's Gotten Everything?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Birthday Bonus - The Velvet Overground

It's that man again, ol' Ludwig van Mondhoveen. Another music fan with a birthday on the 16th and soft spot for a rooster-do and outsize burns.

If we've crossed paths outside of the blogosphere, you'll know there's some resemblance between Ludvico and myself. But does this mean I've got a perma-crosspatch expression and late onset deafness to look forward to in me twilight times? Ho hum!

Fittingly - as a treat for today, those top rockers The Wolfmen have given me the official Wolf-thumbs up for posting their version of a long lost Velvet Underground tune I'm Not A Young Man Anymore. With the cherries a'top of the Birthday cake being...

It's a world exclusive and something you won't hear anywhere else until the album's released next year.

It's the Courtney Taylor-Taylor remix..(yes that Courtney of The Dandy Warhols)

The Wolfmen - I'm Not A Young Man Anymore

VU versh sounds like....

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

He said 'Listen here ya punk'

The Sweet - 1974 

Sixties garage, The Who, Small Faces, Iggy Pop, Ian Dury and Dr Feelgood can all claim paternity rights to the Godfather of Punk title. True enough, each one's a conributor to the movements genetic heritage. But let's not forget the big brassy pantomime dame that is punk's glitzy older sister (or brother). Glam!

Anecdotally and historically, glitter-rock's smudged lipstick and sticky fingerprints are all over the frightwig hair and short, sharp, stomp of punk...

Sex Pistols: Rotten's Pistols auditioned was played out to Alice Cooper's I'm Eighteen. McLaren briefly managed the NY Dolls with Steve Jones bagging Sylvain's Les Paul. McLaren's original group idea was for subversive Bay City Rollers style boy band.
The Damned: toured with Bolan, and later covered the Sweet's Ballroom Blitz and borrowed Gary Glitter' Rock and Roll riff..
The Clash: Mick Jones was a Mott the Hoople avid.
Adam Ant:  make up a go-go and peacock wardrobe. Glitter Band double drums and guitar twang. Marco owns Dave Hill's Super Yob guitar
Ramones: Slade influenced (the Brothers Ramone aped Dave Hill's hair and the bands pile-driving pop).
The Undertones: Covered Gary Glitter's Rock and Roll

Factor in the Rocky Horror, Bowie, Roxy Music and Eno's louder output and the sound of the suburbs begins to take shape. For me one the greatest indicators of the punky shake-downs and bust-ups to come is The Sweet's Turn it Down.

A black leather 'n' studs pop-stomper for the angry brigade, the single kicks in with a honking two-fisted riff that wouldn't sound out of place on a Pistols single with Andy scott's squeal and feedback anti-solo being the sound of the Velvet Underground. Sweet's bubbleglam angst gets graffitied with references to 'degenerates' 'creeps' and gum-chewing sneers of' 'don't gimme no lip'. But the phrase that really pays is gobbed out...'listen hear, ya punk'.

Typically, Legs McNeil's New York fanzine - Punk, debuting in 76 is recognised as the earliest use of the word 'punk' with a musical association. But here we have lipstick-brickies Sweet (banned by the Mecca dancehall circuit for their 'overtly sexual stage act'), spitting and snarling the P word two years before Punk went to print ~ and on a single banned by UK radio for being 'unsuitable for family listening'.
Now if that isn't punk, I don't know what it is..

Look out for: the inverted hippy symbol on Andy Scott's guitar sticker.
Listen out for: the throaty rumble of Steve Priest's Rickenbacker bass. A model later played by Glen Matlock, Rick Buckler and Paul Gray of The Damned and Hot Rods

The Sweet - Turn It Down

Oi! Waddya mean Andy Scott's barnet looks a bit famil'?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Captain's Blog: Happy Talking Damned, Glam and Glitter with Captain Sensible..

Captain at Crocs - Boxing Day 1983

Whether you're a long-haul reader or casual browser of this blog - you'll probably know if there's one band that kick-started my passion for punk, fired my energy and enthusiasm for gig-going and wide-screened my musical horizons with their technicolour productions tuning me in to strange new worlds: psyche, garage and power-prog - it  is The Damned.

A regular rant of mine typically riffs on how under-valued and hugely influential this national treasure of a group are. A group with one of rock's (not just punk's - but rock's) finest guitarists on fret 'n' jangle-duties. So, it's no overstatement to say  - getting yer actual Captain Sensible on this ol' blog is an absolute super scoop of the century for me...

Well, what are we waiting for gang -  let's get to it and crack on with Captain.

Christmas seems the perfect time for your tour with the Glitter Band. What can we expect to see in the setlist..Glam anthems, Damned tunes (Sanity Clause?) Captain solo hits and Christmas bits - and is it a double bill or team up.
I'm definitely going back to revisit my 80s pop material. Not just Happy Talk.... there's some lovely tunes in there. Right jangly stuff too, that in my opinion gives Pop a GOOD name. Like before Simon Cowell made you avoid the charts.

I have ALSO been invited to do a song or two with the Glitter Band which might be a giggle.

The Damned appeared on Mike ‘cue the music’ Mansfield’s Supersonic pop show in early 77 – alongside: Cliff Richard, Guys and Dolls and Leo Sayer. How did these established polite pop acts react to having such a hi-energy punk band on the bill..
Cliff hated us, he just doesn't get punk at all. He's old in the head, even back in the day. Couldn't he see that we were getting the same bad headlines that his hero Elvis had gotten?  Supersonic was good cos they mixed up the acts.... a little bit like Jools. Holland - except for the fact that the Jools show won't have us on. Even when we release albums. What the problem is I have no idea.... I used to get on OK with Squeeze and JH himself. Maybe it's just some daft production policy - no UK punk bands maybe?

And THAT would be a disgrace for, whatever anyone thinks of 1977 and all that the eyes of the world's music scene were VERY MUCH on Belfast, London and Manchester and the UK in general where there was a music revolution going on. Crazy days that will be talked about for decades to come. This country should be PROUD of it's punk days - and play the bands on the radio occasionally - the BBC take note!!!

Marc Bolan took The Damned on tour as support in '77. I've read mixed reports of him during the mid 70s - but what are your memories of Marc
Nice chap, VERY helpful... full of advice about the music biz. Took us on the road in his tour bus. Sociable too. I used to pop in his dressing room as there was always a bottle of bubbly on the go. He lent me his shades one night after I sat on mine.

Why do you think most newbie bands seem happy to gig in their gardening gear - what happened to rockers looking like Rock Stars - why do you think dressing up seems to have disappeared
It'll come round again. When glam was 'cool' everyone had to wear the daft garb and it was reflected in street dress too. And then punk came along, which meant posh people had to ditch the expensive apparel if they wanted to be in fashion. What fun.

Wearing anoraks onstage is taking it a bit far the other way though.

There used to be a tradition of crowd-rousing band members (Rod Stewart, Noddy Holder, Freddie Mercury, Captain Sensible) - any thoughts on why newer performers don't work or interact with an audience in the same way
Can't say as I don't follow the scene at all. After seeing gigs by Sweet, The Groundhogs and Brian Auger why would you want to see these stage school educated bands around today?I'm sure there are WONDERFUL performers around.... some quirky eccentrics with totally original ideas but I can't be bothered to plough through the ubiquitous dross to find 'em.

Couple of local interest bits: I saw The Damned at Crocs in Rayleigh 1983 – with a totally over-capacity crowd in a tiny venue (exploding modern Health and Safety standards) do you have any memories of these shows..
Nup. Sounds like fun though......

The Damned's set-list September 10th 1983

 Another Southend question: if you had any free time, which of these Southend Rock 'n' Roll landmarks would you visit?

1)The club where Donovan was discovered in Westcliff

2)Oil City (Canvey Island) home to Dr Feelgood and the Eddie and Hot Rods ,

3)Have an ice cream at Rossi's Ice Cream Parlour (relations of Francis Rossi)

4)Or, being a train fan - can the lot and catch a train to the end of Southend Pier (the World's longest pleasure pier)

Yes, I'm interested in all of these.... Don's 'Catch The Wind' is such a lovely song. I did that onstage myself a few times. You can't beat the Rods and Feelgoods for sleazy R+B..... and 'Ma kelly's Greasy Spoon' by the Quo is a forgotten masterpiece. Recorded just before their sound had gelled into a formula. They used to have a drink in the bar with their audience occasionally too..... a tradition the Damned carried on with some enthusiasm.

I'm still a 'spotter' too.....
[Captain's written a great piece on an Ivor the Engine style adventure here]

Do you think the influence of glam on punk has become overlooked. Which Glam bands did you catch in concert as a teen and who were your faves.
Yes, a lot of punk bands were into glam..... Mark E Smith was well into the Glitter thing, I loved T Rex and their beautifully simple riffy pop and who could not dig Sweet, described as 'brickies in tinfoil' by some wag at the time.

Will you be sticking to your signature SG style guitars for the tour or going for something more Dave Hill-ish
I'm not playing a loud raucous set - it'll be full of thoughtful melancholy tinged jangly songs so - no.

Hopefully there'll be no gobbing at gigs - what a disgusting carry on that was, how did you put up with it and when did it die out?
Blame J.Rotten esq for that. And now he advertises butter. How times change.

The Damned's last records Grave Disorder and So, Who's Paranoid are two of the bands career-best albums in my opinion - are you working on any new material
No. It's quality not quantity with the Damned BUT we are talking about a special tour concept for next year maybe playing a couple of classic Damned albums back to back with stage sets and stuff. My choice would be the 1st album and the Black Album but it'll be decided by a brainstorming session round at Mr Vanians gothic mansion over a glass or 2 of port I'd imagine.

If you had to give a novice The Captain's Guide to Glam - what albums, bands or singles - what would you recommend.
Sweet, Slade, Mud, T Rex.... and don't miss out on the hugely influential Glitter Beat just cos the Daily Mail might get offended.

Regardless of what the ex singer got up to these great records should not be shoved under the carpet. Banning stuff doesn't work.

CALLING ALL SOUTHENDERS: Captain Sensible and The Glitter Band play Chinnerys on the 13th of December - click on the pic for all tour details..

A huge salute and a tip of the beret is due to Captain for his help with this and to John Medd for making it happen (Samuel Smith's voucher is in the post matey!)

Recommended reading....
The Official Damned Site
Captain Sensible site
Captain Sensible on Twitter

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

John Lennon's Jukebox

Questions starting 'where were you when'? for me anyway, are usually answered 'in bed actually'. I'd just woken up when mum broke the news of John Lennon's murder. A very grim start to the usual school shuffle and shunt. Even 'Hairy Cornflake' DLT had the good sense to drop the wackery for one morning, and the Not Not the Nine O'Clock News tribute of a non-comedy ending: fade to black and In My Life soundtracking the credits was pitch perfect.

Say what you like about his Legend - and we have done here - but if Lennon's Jukebox is any sort of indicator of his record collection, it appears to sort of haul that would get the knowing nods from music snobs and pop purists alike. This portable jukebox (a Swiss KB Discomatic) was originally loaded with 40 of Lennon's favourite singles for taking on tour with The Beatles and later updated with newer tunes. Peeping at the playlist (with track titles scribbled in Lennon's hand writing) of mod, soul, Motown,  pop and rock n roll - all the inspirations, influences and building blocks of The Beatles fall into place.

Click to zoom in for full details

Rhythm, riffs and top line melody seem to be the unifying themes, which makes sense given Lennon's role as the Fab's rhythm guitarist and vocalist. Like many writers in rock's aristocracy (Bowie, Dylan, Macca, Roger waters, Keef) Lennon was a non-virtuoso. Musically he plays a mid-field position where the shape of the song is more important than the solos.

How do you rate yourself as a guitarist? 
Well, it depends on what kind of guitarist. I'm okay; I'm not technically good, but I can make it fucking howl and move. I was rhythm guitarist. It's an important job. I can make a band drive. Rolling Stone interview 1971

But, getting back to the jukebox, most of the Lennon's hand-picked singles were collected and compiled for a (deleted now, and selling for silly money prices) double CD in 2004 and the subject of a South Bank Show special. Scanning the panel above reveals a tune or two missed from the CD: one being a new-to-me Booker T stomper, which isn't a million miles from this Lennon riff

Booker T. & the M.G.'s  - Boot-Leg

Stepping Out appears on the CD as Paul Revere, but my guess would be given the JM and C scribbled notes, that it's the John Mayall and Clapton tear up (available here)as Clapton's thick fuggy Beano tone also seems to be the source for Lennon's guitar sound on Abbey Road

Another unknown-to-me Northern stomper is....

The Contours - First I Look At The Purse

So tomorrow I will be tipping my hat and a raising a glass to the memory of  John Winston Ono Lennon, who thirty years on from his  tragic and senseless death is still tuning me into new music. And as a footnote, looking at the tracklist of 'bankers' on the CD, I'll bet he would have made a rocking DJ ..

From The South Bank Show: Bobby Parker's Watch Your Step, with Lennon expanding on how The Fabs recycled the song for several Beatles bits.

PS - if you've got  half a mill' to spare why not punt in a bid on Mark Chapman's Lennon signed copy of Double Fantasy. Hopefully though Yoko will bag it, and keep the bloody thing out of the public domain once and for all

Friday, December 3, 2010

Hello Norma Jean - Marilyn's mystery movie

You may remember some recent net-natter about a Charlie Chaplin film and the old curiosity shot of a mobile phone user. Well, now another Hollywood heavy-hitter is the subject of the latest web-whispers and video theorising.

It seems footage used for The Wolfmen's latest promo could contain some of the earliest (and previously undiscovered) footage of a young Marilyn working a burlesque a go-go routine. While Monroe's representatives and movie historians scratch their heads and run frame by frame studies, we're not legally allowed to discuss where the footage was obtained, but, are ok to say the video was edited together by Tronik Youth, and, that we can catch up with Wolfmen bass player, vocalist and co-writer Chris Constantinou for a chat about the bands new single Marilyn Monroe (Wam Bam JFK)

The new single's artwork seems quite early Ants-ish, is this intentional and is Mark Alleyne (designer of Kings of the Wild Frontier and other Ants albums, singles) doing graphic duties
Mark is our Art Director - and yes it is intentional, although Adam originally got it from a JFK comic book

Jack/Jackie seems to be a reocurring motif in The Wolfmen's Songbook (previous tunes include - Jackie Says, - Jackie, is it my Birthday?) Why is this..
I have no idea - it started way back in my previous groups – I’d need some therapy to find that out or a few lava strength phalls and Kingfishers

The new album (Married to the Eiffel Tower) is due out next year, and Courtney Taylor-Taylor of The Dandy Warhols has remixed some tracks. How many are likely to make the final cut and are their other plans for Dandy Wolfmen collaborations.
All Courtney's and Jacob’s work will be released as will Steve musters. But we’re not sure in what order this will happen though. We would love to do some more collab’s with Courtney and The Dandys – I jammed flute on Lou weed with them at the London Koko gig in July. The band is amazing and what a great bunch - Zia has been giving me advice on the best tequila to drink.

What's your take on the Marilyn/JFK conspiracy theories
JFK and crew had poor beautiful Monroe bumped off

In a perfect piece of synchronicity Up All Nighter from the first album (Modernity Killed Every Night) has recently been used to soundtrack Fox TV series Human Target. Is there any other TV or soundtrack work lined up, and was this anything to do with Marco being a comics fan.
No the Human Target thing was just out of the blue really - we have a track Nothing Else Matters in Paul Hills new movie called 'Do Elephants Pray ? ' Which is winning all the festivals right now (and the nice Trippy scene - is good) We’ve also got Needle in the Camel’s Eye in Dogging by Vertigo Films and had some music in some new games/ads and a fair bit of other stuff – which, I think is on Youtube ?

I've heard whispers the third album may be covers and collaborations? Have you got a list of who you'd like work with or tunes to be covered.
We’re just starting to get a list together

Being a Southender, I understand in your pre-Ants/Wolfmen days you played Southend, any memories of your visits venues or gigs there...
I Played with Drill at a place called the Top Alex - our singer Will jumped in the audience and sorted out some nutter who was throwing shit at us and giving general abuse - then managed to get back on stage to finish the song - it was a bit like that at some gigs..

The Top Alex was a legendarily dingy Southend pub, typically favoured by rockers and bikers - you'll hear the name crop up in the Feelgood's Oil City flick..

Can we expect to see The Wolfmen live next year, and what sort of gigs:clubs or festivals.
Yes - at the moment we’re booking up gigs/festivals from April up until December 2011

Marilyn Monroe (Wam Bam JFK) can be downloaded and here and here with the physical version available to buy via The Wolfmen's site from Monday 6th December. The new album (Married to the Eiffel Tower) is due out next year, with Courtney Taylor-Taylor of The Dandy Warhols and Jacob Portrait on post production, mixing and remixes.

Thanks to Davy Ghost for this Tweet-based tip off: an interview with a secret service agent present at JFK's assassination. Hear here

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Snowbound Sounds

Photo by Bleech 

Yes it's a re-up as they say, but with good reason - I haven't had a chance to whisk together some new winter-drifters and fireside warmers yet- a playlist that would include Neu!, Ulrich Schnauss and Jon Hopkins - so whether your cosy-toes and tucked up in your pit, or like me, some poor gump schleping your way to work  (late start, early finish I reck') lend a reflective and frozen ear to this mix of frosty know where to find the T-list.

Last Of The Winter Mixtures

Soundhog's booty of Brandy & Monica meet The Doves is a thing of such slow shifting pure beauty it really does deserve a solo posting..

Soundhog - The Doves Are Mine

Southend on Snow

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dressing to the left - Thee Faction

With the Blue Meanies back in power, student riots, twitchy nuclear trigger-fingers (yes, you North Korea) and a right royal knees-up in the middle of debts, doldrums and redundancy - the return of Thee Faction couldn't be better timed.

A swinging Socialist collective from Surrey (more on that here) trapped behind the Iron Curtain since 1985 these red beret rockers are back to rabble rouse your mind and agit-prop your pop. Live at Ebbw Vale is the comeback manifesto and by Gorbachov it's good. Twinning Dr Feelgood rhythms and Eastern Bloc rocking beats on the industrious riffing of Union Man or Conservative Friend and the brothers and sisters party chants of Social Inclusion Thru Marxism it is the greatest record to come out of Russia since Lenin and McCartney's Снова в СССР. Even Chairman Wilko of the Oil City Committee has his raised his guitar arm in allegiance with the Faction by sending a  personalised message to the band...

Comrades, the revolution starts here at (33 Rpm) -  get onboard, lend your ears to cause and grab your copy now.

Thee Faction - Social Inclusion Thru Marxism

Secret filming from the Faction's reunion show

I'm backing the USSR

Friday, November 26, 2010

Dear Diary - November

Four song references scribbled around this pic' - can you get them all?

There's almost no greater spectator sport for a schoolboy than a bundle between your same-year peers (with the chants of 'fight, fight, fight, fight' ringing round and about) - better yet, when it's the unlikeliest of scrappers having a bash. And if this isn't robust enough, it's a double bill of bracket-punching in one day (28th) as Colbert (a Spaghetti Western drifter type) Vs Nelly (a sort of Gok Wan of our year) and Huggins (small with huge eyelashes) Vs Neary (rugger~team lump).

In other news, our frisky friend from over the road (LOTR) continues to put the 'goods on the barrow' with her free-wheeling liberated ways (28th) and Ye Olde Stereogram gets moved from the front room to my bedroom. Although it seems I jumped the gun slightly by adding The Stranglers to October's playlist when plainly it's November (24th). If you fancy a peep November '79 charts looked this

The Undertones - You've Got My Number

Couple of deviations and variants from the usual vinyl rips - just for this month

The Damned - it's the rare radio edit of 'Happy Today' instead of the standard single edish.

The Damned - I Just Can't Be Happy Today (Radio Edit)

The Undertones - instead the fine refit of Let's Talk About Girls B-siding 'Number' let's hear the Chocolate Watch orig'

The Chocolate Watch Band - Let's Talk About Girls

If you haven't seen it, The Damned's appearance on OGWT is a career highlight for both show and band.

The Cross and The Switchblade (14th)  was shown in a local church hall to warn corruptible teens about the perils of peer pressure, gangs, drugs.....  for us it was a free film, an evening in the warm and something with Poncho from CHips in...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Creation Records

One of my nearly ran bands for Piley and I's Sound-a-Like podcast were The Creation. An outfit of heavy legacy, but little credit or recognition (excepting revisionists and retro-ologists).

Primarily it's Creationist fret-fiddler Eddie Philips who's due for the retrospective nods and tips of the titfer. The first guitarist to experiment with violin style bow-ing techniques - a trick later nicked by Jimmy Page to scrape unearthly squeaks and squeals  from his Les Paul. Factor in Eddie's invite to join The 'Orrible 'Oo as a second guitarist, that Ron Wood briefly served as a Creation member, the Sex Pistols covering the band's Through My Eyes and you've got something of a glowing CV by any standard.

So what in the name of Boney M has all this got to do with sound-a-likes they chorused? Well, to my old ears The Creation's How Does It Feel sounds entirely like the type of heavy-level stomper reformed and reformatted by Oasis as a template tune for their signature sound.

The Creation - How Does It Feel

And in a mobius style movement of music trivia: who were Oasis spotted and signed by? Alan McGee, founder of Creation Records. A label named after - The Creation...

Bow Selector - Eddie can be caught having a fiddle on a tune covered by Boney M?!?

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Code Zodiac Tapes: legendary lost spy-fi soundtrack remastered, restored and debuting here today..

If you're a fan of the Italo spy-fi film genre you may be familiar with the long-shifting whispers about low budget cult-flick The Code Zodiac Tapes. Made in 1969 it received just a handful of European screenings before being shelved due to international wrangles over distribution rights.

Zodiac dropped out of circulation and with no sightings, leaked footage or dodgy copies filtering into the public domain since, it's been widely accepted that the film had become lost, wiped or stolen. However, canisters containing the original broadcast masters were recently discovered in the basement of an abandoned Riviera mansion. Damp, dust and neglect have left the film stock, shooting notes and script damaged beyond recovery or repair..

Thankfully a handful of production details, storyboards and publicity shots survived - along with some concept art for set designs (pleasure units, undersea casinos, moonbased pods and modules ) and some costume credits....

Hair by Laurence of Park Lane
Wardrobe by Mr Hipster
M.O.N.D.O Mobile by George Barris

Concept art by uncredited artist

More significantly the 16 track Ampex analogue master tapes of the Zodiac soundtrack were found to be salvageable. These tapes - and any scraps and snatches of dubbed dialogue - were taken to Shabby Road studios for digital restoration. Today the freshly mastered, previously unreleased Code Zodiac soundtrack receives it's international debut. A teaser trailer is available here along with an OST stream - but the full 19 track album is available as a limited-edition free download over at Budd Schifrin's site..

Code Zodiac Trailer

Code Zodiac OST

Keith Mansfield's composition Soul Confusion was originally used to score a deleted scene (scripted as - Scene 34: How does that grab you?) and has been included here as a bonus track

Keith Mansfield - Soul Confusion

Original storyboard panels

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


What's this - three new music posts on the bounce? Well really!

Today sees a trio of 'lectro treats from in demand remixer (The Gossip, Snow Patrol, Simian Mobile Disco, C90s), international DJ and my younger brother Tronik Youth - whose, sparky new single Th?nk had it's official unveilling yesterday. Adding some space age vocals to Tronik's signature electriffery is new boy Glyn Cosford.

Two versions of this electro-poppet are available for your pleasure and perusal today.
Th?nk (Radio Edit) and the Midnight Savari remix. A full fat bundle including Tronik's original mix and four extra remixes is available here

Th?nk Radio Edit

As a bonus help yourself to all new November mixathon from Tronik featuring a glittering list of tunes, tracks and exclusives including Bryan Ferry and Etienne De Crecy. As always full track list in the comms

Tronik Youth November 2010 mix by tronikyouth

More on Tronik the Boy Wonder soon..

Friday, November 12, 2010

I Like It. What Is It?

Poster by Anthony Burrill

You may remember some yap a while back about the Annual Sad Lads CD Swap. Well tonight is that night - CDs will be exchanged, pints will be pulled and the whip will probably end up in Piley's charge (a pub role similar to the Monopoly banker).

This year I'm going public with my pickings and have mixed the comp as downloadable take-away version. To paraphrase E F Rice's rules....the tracks don't have to be from 2010 (although almost a third are) just new-to-you tunes. There may be a few possible eyebrow-raisers and non-blogged bits in the bundle, but these are my most played tunes of 2010 and the track list can be found in the comments.

The Planet Mondo Annual Report - 2010

Two tunes bubbling under that didn't seem to fit the mood of the mix were ...

Asobi Seksu - Strawberries (Ulrich Schnauss remix)

An infectious collective of indie crystals and whispy vocals shining some brightness through a misty fug of thunderous rumbles and shoegazy layers.

Memory Tapes - Bicycle: a musical smoothie where the taste of Talking Heads and a tone of New Order are rewhisked for the digital generation..

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Executive Class

In an age where pop as a packaged product dominates - and talent show hopefuls hold out begging bowls of back stories and shrill trilling to pinch-eyed panels of string pullers and pop puppets. It gives you a glow to know - that away from the cold, controlled production environments of formulaic chart pap, tat and ratbaggery - pure musicians and solid songsmiths are busying themselves in studio bolt holes, writing and refining their craft with the stealth of shoemaking elves.

So let me introduce to you, The Sonic Executive Sessions - session musicians by day, self composers in their downtime - a group whose skill isn't a wily eye on a chart placing or tactical piece in the media. But an ear for a hook, a taste for a tune and the raw talent to fill a fully formed, self penned songbook of multi-layered, hi-polished pop, glowing with a shameless sense of fun, sun and freedom.

I've been following The Sonic Executive Sessions for almost 3 years now - hooked, reeled in and rolling from the opening notes of 17 (Over You). The album arrived last week and what a gem and a joy it is. All honeycomb vocals and milky bar harmonies. Pace shifting from the urgent swish of show tunes to the midnight slink of Steely Dan - the album is 100% Sonic originals with echoes and shadows of both greats and guilty pleasures. The Beach Boys meet Jellyfish with Toto undertones, Bacharach by way of Badfinger with Ben Folds on keys. Oh, and an actual appearance by Oh Lori legends the Alessi Brothers on one track...

11 minty new tunes that immediately feel like old friends....

The Sonic Executive Sessions - You'll Never Be Happy

The Sonic Executive Sessions - Make Do (featuring the Alessi Brothers)

Christian Phillips, lead vocalist of The Sonic Exec's was kind enough to enough to answer a few Q's exclusively for the PM blog.....

How would you describe The Sonics Executive Sessions signature sound to the uninitiated
Yowzer, that's a hard question. Fallen at the first hurdle here. But I guess its me trying to re-write the American songbook, failing miserably and then superimposing our favourite Record/CD/MP3 collection on top of it

What is the bands history, how did you come together
Tim's been running the Sonic-One Studio for a long time and over the years Ryan and I have worked there a lot. Local sessions stuff like that, I've taken other projects there. Tim had some free studio time so we just started doing this

You're a studio based group, but have the band ever played live, or will
there be future gigs

The band has never played live...but never say never. Just don't ask me to play keyboards

You've done a crazy range of sessions:  Colin Bluntstone, a TOTP appearance and teamed up with The Alessi Brothers for one track (Make Do) on The Sonic Exec's album..
Top of the Pops, We played for a guy called Steve Balsamo. He had a single called Sugar for the Soul.  I was his guitarist and Ry' played drums. I think the Dandy Warhol's were there. Yup done some very weird sessions. Sang backing vocals on a Joey Ramone track once... How weird is that!!! I didn't meet Joey, my bit was done here and he did his bit in new York. I think it's called Punk Boy by a band called Helen Love

I did a session for a guy once (who shall remain nameless) he got so stoned that by the end of the day he forgot who everyone was and whose album we were working on, I'm writing most of Colin Blunstone's new album. And Alessi They just got in touch after finding us on Myspace...isn't the internet great

Are there other hook ups with more hit-makers or heroes planned and who would be on your fantasy team-up list
I love working with as many different people as I can. I'm not a very confident songwriter/lyricist so any help would be greatly appreciated.Hmmm fantasy team up list: John Williams (composer)the Four Freshmen, Andy Sturmer, Take 6,Richard Carpenter, Todd Rundgren,Van Dyke Parks, Rufus Wainwright the 23 year old Brian Wilson you know the usual I could go on and on. People no longer with us...Gershwin,Cole Porter, Nilsson and on and on again

Have you had any TV synch or Soundtrack interest? Or what show or film would your dream soundtrack (past or present)?
The A team (TV show)

I can hear echoes of Jellyfish, Dean Freidman, Steely Dan in the album, but, what would we be surprised to find on the Sonic Exec's iPods?
Hahah well there is no Dean Friedman on there for a start. Ummm the N'Sync Christmas album??? Kings X

The band covered Jellyfish's unreleased track Hello - will other cover versions be added to the band's songbook?
Its a possibility, I'm not a very prolific songwriter so I guess so

Do you keep any vintage gear or collectable kit (synths, guitars, amps) in the Sonics collection?
Most of it is vintage I suppose, especially Tim's studio gear. He's just purchased a 24 track studer tape machine and I think we're going to record any new tunes on that..OLD SCHOOL BABY!

Each track is multi-layered polished pop nugget - what has been your most indulgent or trialling moment of studio trickery?
Well being able to come into a studio like the one Tim has and play all those instruments and sing all those parts is me at my most indulgent, and Ryan and Tim let me indulge. But then Tim has to mix that and make sense out of all of it so for him I think that bit is trialling.

I've been following the band since 2008 when can expect see a second album?
I didn't think people would want a first album, I'm still in shock that anyone would listen to anything I was writing. So if people like it I'll keep writing and see what happens

For a UK band you have a broad international sound - have you had much interest from outside of the UK?
More outside the UK then in the UK. Its getting a release in Japan and the Americans seem to like it. I don't think many people in the UK know we're the only one I think

I could imagine the Sonic Exec's delivering the perfect Christmas song - any plans for a seasonal single?
Not right now, I have recorded a Christmas album with the vocal group I sing with (The 4o5's) and that's Christmasmungus. I'd love to record one with Roy Wood with that big Phil Spector sound. Hmmmm you've got me thinking now, I would be stroking my beard if I had one.

The Sonic Executive Sessions album 2010 is available right here....
on iTunes or via Amazon

The Sonic Executive Sessions - Myspace

There's more Mondo/Sonic related bits here

The Sonic Executives do Jellyfish (I've posted before, but it's worth a re-run)

A special sonic salute is due to Christian and the band for the use of tunes and making time for my questioning..