Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub #28

Well it’s been a while, but here we are back at Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub enjoying some 45 rpm tunes. I can promise you another night of varied music spanning the musical genres – some well known, some obscure, some classic, some not so classic.

How does it work? It’s simple: I play my way through my (sometimes bizarre) collection of 7″ vinyl singles – both sides, one after the other. The result is a playlist of tunes and an evening captured in time. Drinking the booze often helps.

Here we go with this playlist:

  1. The Stranglers – “Walk on by” / “Old Codger” / “Tank”
  2. Anti Nowhere League – “Streets of London” / “So What”
  3. Public Image Limited – “Rise” / “Rise (Instrumental)”
  4. Fat Boys – “Wipeout” / “Crushin'”
  5. Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Up Around the Bend” / “Run Through the Jungle”
  6. Nazareth – “Shanghai’d in Shanghai” / “Love, Now You’re Gone”
  7. Nazareth – “This Flight Tonight” / “Called Her Name”
  8. Tiffany – “Could’ve Been” / “The Heart of Love”
  9. The Beach Boys – “Do It Again” / “Wake the World”
  10. The Hollies – “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” / “‘Cos You Like to Love Me”
  11. Madonna – “Hanky Panky” / “More”
  12. The Beatmasters ft. The Cookie Crew – “”Rok Da House (Remix)” / “Rok Da House”
  13. Fuzzbox – “International Rescue” / “Raining Champagne”
  14. Thin Lizzy – “Rosalie (Cowgirl’s Song)” / “Me and the Boys”
  15. Thin Lizzy – “Whisky in the Jar” / “Black Boys on the Corner”
  16. Diana Ross – “Touch me in the Morning” / “Baby it’s Love”
  17. Diana Ross – “All of My Life” / “A Simple Thing Like Cry”
  18. Dian Ross & Marvin Gaye – “You Are Everything” / “Include Me in Your Life”
  19. Stevie Wonder – “Saturn” / “Ebony Eyes” / “All Day Sucker” / Easy Goin’ Evening (My Mama’s Call)”
  20. Stevie Nicks – “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” / “Kind of Woman”

A few notes on the records listed above: firstly, the Fat Boys A side is listed as “featuring The Beach Boys”, so that group have ended up with two mentions in this list, technically.

The Stevie Wonder single is the 7″ EP that originally came with the “Songs in the Key of Life” album. I already owned the album, but not the single, so that’s a great addition to my collection.

Also, the Stevie Nicks single features Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

A fine evening’s entertainment with that playlist. From the most obscene song in my entire record collection (ANL’s “So What”), covering some punk/new wave classics, hard rock and pop gems – it was a ton of fun. More soon.

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night #18

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night

The Queen’s Head, Mold

Friday 26th August 2022

Three years. It’s been nearly three years since the last Bring Your Own Vinyl Night at the Queen’s Head in Mold, north Wales. The pandemic put this event on hold for quite a while, but finally it was time for a triumphant return to the decks.

Let’s recap the concept: each participant gets a 15 minute slot to play whatever vinyl they like. That’s it. Very simple. And good fun. Have a few beers, chat about music, discover something new to listen to.

Here’s my ;playlist from the night:

Sweet Apple – Wish You Could Stay (A Little Longer)

I wanted to start my set up with this gorgeous, uplifting track by Sweet Apple. J Mascis (of Dinosaur Jr) is in the band, and Mark Lanegan guests on co-vocals. A sublime piece of melodic, alt rock pop. First song on their album “The Golden Age of Glitter”.

The Four Horsemen – Nobody Said It Was Easy

And then on to some early 90’s southern rock, courtesy of the Four Horsemen. This band were signed to Def American and produced by Rick Rubin. If you dig AC/DC tinged Skynyrd and ZZ Top, their wax is worth investing in. I have the album, but this was the 7 inch single version of this song.

Clutch – D.C. Sound Attack!

A stand out track from the “Earth Rocker” album by Clutch, a band I am somewhat obsessed with. I love this song, it’s energetic rock’n’roll with a funky riff – the instrumental is so good I could actually groove to it. D.C. Sound Attack!!!

Social Distortion – Dear Lover

What a band. The opening track from Social D’s “White Light White Heat White Trash” album, this is full of Mike Ness’s heartfelt angst in a pounding, mid paced punk rock’n’roller.

The Beatnix – Stairway to Heaven

The Beatnix are a Beatles cover band. Here, they’ve covered Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” in an early 60’s Beatles style. It’s actually really good and sounds authentic. I think this song raised a few eyebrows, starting off resembling an old Fab Four track but including the unmistakable lyrics. On the other side, there’s an Elvis impersonator called Neil Pepper, covering the same song – a great single, you need a copy.

I had a really enjoyable evening for Vinyl Night, in fact I’m sure everyone did! Thanks to Halcyon Dreams and VOD Music in Mold for hosting and organising everything. Hope to see you all again soon!

The Halcyon Dreams blogspot is here.

The Halcyon Dreams mixcloud page is here.

The Halcyon Dreams Facebook page is here.

The VOD music website is here.

Return of Wales Comic Con

Wales Comic Con

Sunday 21st August 2022

Glyndwr University, Wrexham

At long last, Wales Comic Con made a triumphant return to it’s home at Glyndwr University in Wrexham, North Wales. Recent events had moved to Telford, which isn’t even in Wales. The thing about staging the convention in Wrexham is, on a personal level, it’s much closer to home and thus makes a great family day out. Telford, not so much.

On a slightly smaller scale, but with a great sense of good natured fun, Wales Comic Con returned to the sports halls of Glyndwr Uni. And of course there was all the usual special guests (always impressive), stalls selling merch, and cosplay enthusiasts.

This year, Stranger Things was the buzz at the Con. Not surprising at all, and neither was the number of folks dressed as Eddie Munson. Eddie is easily the best character in the show, so it was nice to see so many people pay tribute to the lovable metal head by dressing up as him.

In previous years (and at various cons), Harley Quinn has been the most popular choice of outfit for convention goers. This year, Eddie and other Stranger Things characters were number one, by far.

Grace Van Dien, who played Chrissy on the show, was a very popular guest. My daughter queued for ages to meet her, along with dozens of other fans. I’m happy to report that Grace was charming, cheerful and very nice indeed.

I was able to meet and chat with the very lovely Tabitha Lyons, super talented cosplayer and model – and her dad Nic Samiotis, prop builder extraordinaire. Two very skilled and very cool people who were a delight to meet. Photos of Tabitha have appeared in previous blogs of mine, there’s another below, where the lucky lady is pictured with yours truly. I nearly didn’t post it – I need to go on a diet, quick fast!

My merch buying plans didn’t quite do so well on the day. I did pick up a Star Wars figure (naturally), but despite there being a number of stalls, there was a distinct lack of comic books for sale. I’d been hoping to add to my Bronze Age Marvel collection, but never mind.

Welcome back, Wales Comic Con. We had a memorable day out, looking forward to more!

Check out Wales Comic Con here.

Subskate Summer Fun!

Are you going on a summer holiday? Maybe a nice Mediterranean place, with lots of sun? Can’t take your skateboard with you? Or if you could, will the pavements be cracked and broken? No skatepark, no surf, but still want to enjoy your board riding fun? Then the subskate could be just the thing for you!

There are many boards in my garage: skateboards old and new, longboards, a snowboard, a mountain board, etc etc. Some years ago whilst on holiday in Greece, I encountered someone with one of these subskate contraptions in the hotel swimming pool, and I had to get my own to add to the collection.

All it is, essentially, is a float – like a buoyancy aid for learning to swim – shaped like a skateboard. Unlike a surfboard (or wakeboard, or windsurf board, for that matter), the rider stands on the subskate which is submerged under the water. There, the “subskater” floats around with their upper body out of the water, and the lower body floating on the subskate in the water. Crazy! Whatever will they think of next??!

See the photos for info. I used a fancy underwater camera for these pics, no expense spared.

Of course, there’s not much to do in the water, just float around. You could try some 360 turns, which I did well at. Shuvits weren’t really happening, though. Everything moves real slow under the water, but the board just wants to escape to the surface!

Where the subskate could prove to be more fun, however, is jumping into the pool using a caveman style trick. This could actually be helpful learning those caveman variations. To be honest though, it got old pretty quick jumping in and constantly getting water up my nose. Or ears. Maybe if you had a crew of similarly kamikaze friends to try this with, it could be more fun…

To be fair, I quite enjoyed the relaxing feeling of floating around in the water. My first caveman into the pool was a good laugh, too. And slow motion ollie practice might have actually been worthwhile! I’ll leave it to the readers to decide if a subskate is worth the valuable luggage space to take on holiday, though. Maybe have a week off with a beer at the bar instead?

Does a subskate look like fun to you? Or am I just a grommet who can’t resist splurging money on skate related nonsense? Leave a comment and let me know.

Trouble – Album Review

Trouble – One for the Road/Unplugged

Hammerheart Records

Release date: 11/02/2022

Running time: 67 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

9/10

The mighty Trouble!  A release from these titans of doom metal is always worth celebration, and this is no exception.  Back in the early 90s, this cult band were verged on the edge of a mainstream breakthrough, with two albums on the Rick Rubin helmed Def American Records (also home to Slayer, Danzig, Black Crowes and others).  Alas, it was not to be: this eternal underground favourite was to remain just that. 

“One for the Road” followed the second, self-titled Def American album, as a limited-edition European tour EP.  This re-release bundles that with a full length “unplugged” album: remastered to provide a fully upgraded compilation.

The first five songs comprise that “One for the Road” EP, with first track ‘Goin’ Home’ bursting from the speakers with exactly the kind of exciting hard rock you’d expect as a Trouble opener.  ‘Window Pain’ offers a pulsating, mid paced doom rocker, whilst ‘Requiem’ brings the tempo down further with a melancholy, gloomy metal dirge.  The Black Sabbath influence is most obvious on ‘Another Day’, whilst ‘Doom Box’ raises the tempo a little but still holds a candle to Dio era Sabs.  Some of these songs would turn up in different form on later albums, but this EP brings together an excellent capsule that fits neatly into that mid 90s period.

Back in the early/mid 90’s, “unplugged” albums were all the rage.  Like others of that era, this Trouble entry into that genre isn’t always stripped down totally to just vocals and acoustic guitar: there’s still electric guitar, drums and more to embellish the tracks were necessary.  The strings added to this second version of ‘Requiem’ are exceptionally orchestrated and serve the mood of the piece brilliantly.  That said, ‘7.00 AM’ is a remarkably restrained and beautiful song, recalling Sabbath and also Trouble worshippers Soundgarden. 

Those songs – and the other tracks comprising the “Unplugged” part of this release – offer a relaxed side of the band that explores more of their psychedelic, sixties interests (see their cover of The Yardbirds’ ‘Heartful of Soul’).  It’s a release that even my eleven-year-old daughter appreciated.  The only mis-step is the jaunty jig of ‘Smile’, which is just too jangly and nice.  Yet have no fear, the version of ‘Misery’ showcased here (released as ‘The Misery Shows’ on the eponymous Def American release) reminds us just how great this band were.   

My only major issue is the cover art.  That may seem petty when this is a review of the band’s music, but as a long-term Trouble fan, I’m considering buying the vinyl copy for my collection.  And that vile cover may well deter me from doing so.  Trouble has a great logo, but the cover squanders this with nothing other than the title, in what looks like – GASP! – Comic Sans MS!  A font that should only be used by primary school teaching assistants, it dates and also ridicules the stature of the music.  It’s a truly vile and lazy cover – seemingly thrown together by a Johnny-No-Stars work experience boy on his lunchbreak.  Awful.  Couldn’t someone have redesigned it?

I’m docking points for that, ‘cos the cover mocks all I hold holy.  Beyond that, fantastic music and a must for any Trouble fan.

RIP Eric Wagner

For more info, check out the Trouble website, their Facebook page or Bandcamp page.

Hammerheart Records also have a website, Facebook and Bandcamp.

This review has been brought to you by Platinum Al in partnership with Ever Metal.

Scrap Metal Vol 1 – Album Review

Various Artists – Scrap Metal Volume 1

RidingEasy Records

Release date: 12/11/221

Running time: 34 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

9/10

Recently I’ve been razzing around this rundown town in Platinum Al’s Pimp Mobile (a 1980 Chrysler Cordoba, of course), blasting out this new compilation from those hard rockin’ duderinos at RidingEasy records.  And I haven’t had this much honest-to-rockness fun in goddamn ages!

You may recall RidingEasy’s previous comps, as reviewed by yours truly, from their Brown Acid collections of long lost proto-metal/stoner rock artifacts of the late 60s/early 70s.  Well, with Scrap Metal, they’ve taken the same approach (unearthing long-forgotten rare tracks, and releasing a carefully restored sonic document of said tunes) – but this time, applied it to the age of 70s/80s classic Heavy Metal. 

Listeners will discover a variety of styles of HM here, as the genre splits into numerous offshoots.  So, we get to hear the blossoming styles of NWOBHM, thrash, doom and glam at a time when they all still share a generous amount of DNA.  It’s classic metal, folks – and to be honest, I didn’t find that much difference between the “styles” on offer.  What I did find was ten blinding tracks of fun (and slightly dumb) rock’n’roll monsters.

Witness, for example, the wonder of “Headbang” by Rapid Tears.  Fast paced, dumb ass, dingus brained heavy rock for you to race to the chippy in a Trans-Am.  It’s glorious.  Then, with barely a rest, we’re assaulted by Air Raid’s “69 in a 55”: like early Maiden (even down to the Paul Di’Anno vocals) but with a cucumber stuffed down the spandex pants.

And the surprises keep on coming.  Hades are simply brilliant, their track “Girls Will Be Girls” venturing toward speed metal.  Resless have a crap name, but “The Power” is a Priest like power-thon that is bound to excite.  “Enemy Ace” by The Beast is a definite unrefined highlight; almost in the realms of crossover, it’s a particularly aggressive track that’s totally unsuitable for polite tea parties with grandma.

The compilation isn’t perfect: Don Cappa’s “Steel City Metal” ticks all the cliché boxes, but plods.  Yet adrenaline infused, urgent rockers like “Can’t Stop” by Dead Silence, “Iron Curtain” by Czar and “Viking Queen” by Real Steel keep the fists punching the air and a grin on the face.    

As with the Brown Acid series, it’s bewildering how at least some of the bands on Scrap Metal Volume 1 didn’t get any further.  I’ve heard a lot worse.  However, careers are built on consistently great song writing and performance – we only have one (admittedly brilliant) song by each band to testify here.

The lyrics and themes may wallow in the murky depths of the tired and obvious, but I challenge any of you to not enjoy the music on offer.  Park any pretentions of sophistication you may hold, the energy to be heard on these tracks is pure pleasure.  Pull on your super tight jeans, bullet belt and patch covered battle vest, let your hair down (if you still can), and rejoice in a simpler time.  Scrap Metal Vol 1 is a full on, beer swilling triumph of an album.  HEADBANG!!!

Visit the RidingEasy Records website here.

Or check them out on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Insta or Bandcamp.

Today’s review is brought to you by Platinum Al in association with Ever Metal.

Hawarden Classic Car Show

Hawarden Classic Car Show

Gladstone Playing Fields, Hawarden

Saturday 18th June 2022

Now this was pretty impressive. A classic car and motors show, right on my doorstep, in Hawarden, North Wales. Plus it was free entry! Organised by charitable organisation Deeside Round Table, with plenty to do and see.

There were vehicles on display from various places and of differing ages, all of them classic. Food and drink; music; stalls to browse; games for the kids – a nice, community, family event on a summer afternoon.

We got there late (I did warn my crew of the potential issues) and some of the cars were already leaving – including a beautiful gold Trans Am that I missed getting a phot of. A word to the wise: when it says the event is on till 4pm, don’t turn up for the last hour.

Any readers of previous Motors blogs at the Virtual Hot Tub will know that I’m a big fan of American classic cars, in particular, muscle cars from the late 60’s and 70’s. There were a few of those types of vehicles on display, plus a healthy showing of British classics from over the years (plus many other countries).

I did manage to take a few photos of the cars on display – hope you enjoy. It’s been a while since a Motors update on at Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub, I’ll try harder to update more often.

Chester Comic Con 2022

Chester Comic Con

Chester Racecourse

19 June 2022

Chester Comic Con was held recently, on a mild summer Sunday afternoon at Chester Racecourse. It was Father’s Day, and I made sure that my personal choice for the day was to attend this event for a fun filled afternoon.

I’ve not been to a comic con in Chester for a couple of years, due to the pandemic and all that kinda shiz. As previous, the racecourse hosted the event and it made for a good venue, with plenty of open outdoor space. Indoors was a bit more compact, but there were enough trader tables to fill the place without getting too manic.

There were also a few showbiz and comic book guests in attendance, though my main aim was to plunder as much action figures and comic books as possible. But have no fear, I also had my camera with me, to take some photos and hopefully provide an idea of what it was like to be there.

Here you’ll see some photos of the excellent Cosplayers, who were all very friendly and gallantly agreed to pose for pic. Thank you all.

Despite the smaller scale of Chester Comic Con – in comparison to some of the bigger events at Liverpool or the NEC for example – it’s a fantastic convention with a good family atmosphere. I had an excellent time, and bought a load of old 70s Marvel comics. Very happy indeed.

The website for Chester Comic Con is here.

Wax Mekanix/Troll Teeth – EP Review

Wax Mekanix/Troll Teeth – Blunt (Split EP)

Electric Talon Records

Release Date: 22/10/2021

Running Time: 14.32

Review by: Alun Jones

9/10

Now the good folks at Electric Talon Records issued this split EP back in October last year, so yet again, apologies for my tardiness.  I’ll think of an excuse by the end of this review.  For now, let’s just cover some basic info: two bands, namely Troll Teeth and Wax Mekanix, with five songs split between them.  Style wise, we’re in for a journey – so stay sharp.

Wax Mekanix is an artist I’m already familiar with from his exceptional “Mobocracy” album from 2020.  That record covered a wide base genre wise, from hard rock to folky guitar and any number of surprises in between.  Wax hasn’t stood still, instead deciding to venture into yet newer fields with the three tracks shared here.  So first up we get “Head”, an enticing blend of acoustic guitar, tribal drums and percussion, and rowdy vocals.  There’s no ferocious riffage here, but the infectious rhythms and Eastern sounding chords will drag any listener along.

“Manchester Strawberry Blonde” is a short interlude, with almost Native American percussion, augmented with lyrics that recount a despairingly tragic incident.  The lyrics on all tracks are worth a read, particularly here.  Wax’s final offering is “Freak Boutique”, where the mellow acoustic guitar is embellished again with Eastern rhythms.  As a result, this is less campfire singalong and more a voyage across exotic lands.                 

Troll Teeth have the best band name I’ve heard in years.  Thankfully, they can also deliver some righteous music too.  “The Pigs are on Parade Today” has a dense, mid paced stoner rock approach that is instantly cinematic: perfectly appropriate for watching vast desert skies growing dark and the heavens lighting up.  “Barbs on a Wire” is more aggressive, but still retains a sense of melody along with the rolling, raucous riff.  It’s progressive in the best sense of the word, and also addictive with it’s relentless, undulating drive and fiery lead guitar.  If you dig Baroness, you’ll dig this.

At first listen, the two bands here seem somewhat different – but it becomes obvious that they’re tied together by their expansive, wide view of the world – and it’s sounds.  Wax Mekanix and Troll Teeth are both visionaries.  Here’s to hearing a new full length from each, soon.

What was that?  What was my excuse for this review being so late?  Well, ah… I had completed it ages ago, honest, but Ozzy Osbourne ate it.

Find Wax Mekanix doing some online stuff on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Bandcamp.

Troll Teeth are waiting to meet you on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Bandcamp.

And you can check out Electric Talon records here.

This review is a joint presentation from Platinum Al and Ever Metal.

New Skateboard 2022 – Death Benson

OK, I get no one reads these posts about my latest skateboard, but I’m not writing this for an audience. I’m writing it for me. One day, when I’m ancient like Yoda, I’ll be able to look back and have a memento of skateboards I’ve had in the past.

Wish I had at least a photo of the decks I had when I was a kid in the 80’s. That would’ve been cool. As it is, I can’t even remember them all. Not so anymore. Now, I’ll have a permanent record of them all.

For the first time in a long time, I saved up some cash and bought a full, new set up. For a while, I’ve been recycling my trucks (and sometimes wheels) to be as economical as possible. This time, it was new everything – ordered from the very nice folks at Native Skate Store.

Here are the details:

  • Death skateboards Benson Devil Woman II 8.25″ deck (with free Jessup grip tape)
  • Independent Trucks 144 Mid Stage II
  • Death skateboards wheels 52mm
  • Independent Trucks GP-S bearings
  • Independent Trucks allen bolts 1″

The set up has been fantastic so far, deck has nice pop and the trucks turn great. I love the graphics by Liane Plant (regular readers may remember I have an 8.5″ version of this deck to go on the wall, and I’m a big fan of Death skateboards). No complaints at all.

Though I’m not going to be able to share this post on Facebook due to the “offensive” graphic…!

See you out on the streets.

The Death Skateboards website is here.

Liane Plant’s website is here.

Visit the Native Skate Store here.