UK Subs – XXIV/Yellow Leader Album Review

UK Subs – XXIV/Yellow Leader

Captain Oi/Cherry Red Records

Release date: 27/05/2022 and 08/07/2022

Running time: 38 mins and 52 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

9/10 and 8.5/10

Recap time: regular readers may remember that yours truly recently reviewed the re-issue of “Work in Progress” by punk veterans UK Subs.  You may also recall that that album covered the letter W in the bands ongoing mission to release an album for every letter of the alphabet.  Well, the good news is that Captain Oi/Cherry Red Records are also releasing the next two instalments in the series – that’s the letters X and Y (but you knew that).

Working through chronologically, we have “XXIV” – which the lovely record company peeps have released on drool-worthy double 10” vinyl, one green, one clear.  Yummy.  Our first song is an absolute belter: the full-on turbo romp ‘Implosion 77’.  Hold on tight and buckle up!  There’s plenty more fast’n’nasty thrills on offer too: ‘Speed’ has a merciless UK82 vibe; ‘Monkeys’ has a classic Subs singalong chorus; ‘Garden of Good & Evil’ is another pogo-till-your-pants-fall-off rocker.

There’s some well-placed variety too, with the harmonica adorned political thrust of ‘Coalition Government Blues’; and Bo Diddley swagger of ‘Wreckin’ Ball’ – both showing hints of the bands R’n’B origins (like as in, what R’n’B used to be).  Lyrically there are plenty of targets for Charlie to attack, both politically and socially.  ‘Memento Mori’ finishes the album off with one most aggressive tunes on offer, leaving us with a great album of 14 adrenaline infused songs.

“Yellow Leader” follows in a similar fashion, featuring 18 songs (whereas the original vinyl was cut to just 14 due to running times).  To be released on slinky, divine double 10” vinyl (one red, one turquoise here), it’ll be a feast for the eyes and ears.  Again, the album is crammed with more relentless punk rock shenanigans like ‘Sick Velveteen’, ‘Chemical’ and ‘Heathens’, all of which will have you jumping around the room like a monkey on a lava stream.

As the previous record, there’s plenty of other sounds and ideas here: single ‘Sin City Blues’ has a killer rockabilly feel; and ‘Rebellion Song’ breaks out the acoustic guitar.  The only mis-step is ‘Archaeology’, a strange post -punk/goth style experiment that while not awful, isn’t a total success.  All in all, the quality of music is impressively high and the recordings sound excellent.

And there you go, music lovers: not one, but TWO albums of mighty UK Subs songs, lovingly compiled and curated by those nice folks at Captain Oi/Cherry Red Records.  You lucky people.  Pick ‘em up while you can, nobody is this fortunate twice.    

You can find UK Subs on Facebook and Twitter.

Cherry Red Records have a website. Plus you can find them on FacebookTwitter, Instagram and Bandcamp.

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

Liverpool Comic Con 2022

dav

Exhibition Centre, Liverpool

Sunday 20th November 2022

OK here we go – a family trip out to Liverpool Comic Con! And boy, this convention was BIG. I made the journey to this con last year and had a fairly damn good experience, so it was exciting to return. A wet and chilly day was on the cards, but there’s always a warm welcome in good ol’ Liverpool. And we’d be inside all day, anyway.

Last time around, the queueing situation was a proper nightmare. This time, I made the wiser decision of not having “early bird” tickets and arriving at 9am. I didn’t even bother to get to the event for our allotted time (11am) – we strolled along at 12.30pm and pretty much avoided any queueing whatsoever.

That’s the way to do it. There’s no point in standing in a line, outside, in November.

To tell you the truth, I wasn’t even aware that there was a time we were supposed to go in. I hadn’t looked that closely at the ticket, we were just late. But as they were still letting the last of the 11am people in when we arrived much later, I think this result was a winner.

Anyone who attended this convention (on either day, Saturday or Sunday, from what I’ve heard) had a hard time with the sheer amount of people there. It was rammed. But it seems like Sunday was the better of the two days, so again a stroke of luck. The Exhibition Centre was very busy, but just about manageable.

Several interesting guests were present, but no one I was too concerned about. Meeting guests isn’t that big a deal to me (unless they’re Hammer Horror related!). And the prices were not cheap. It was an impressive bunch of celebs, though, with Stranger Things featuring highly.

Instead, I had my fun perusing the fabulous stalls, buying merch and taking photos of the wonderful Cosplay crowd.

There seemed to be fewer people in costume at this event, but that could be down to the weather (can’t have been fun for some of those who did dare); and the sheer numbers of people there, hiding the view.

What Cosplayers I did encounter, however, were superbly talented and spectacular, as always. And lovely people too! Thanks to all of you who let me take your photo, it’s very much appreciated.

Merch wise, my crew and I went a bit crazy – but Christmas is looming on the horizon, so to hell with the cost of living crisis. I picked up a couple of Star Wars figures and a few Marvel comic books, so was happy. There was a distinct lack of action figures across the board though – a result of the clash with the event in London? Not enough Star Wars, MOTU or ReAction figures to be found.

The retailer we were most excited to see again was Cult Locations Ink, who create intricately detailed, framed art prints of film and TV locations. A couple more were added for our new collection, including my favourite, the Munsters’ House.

We’d been on our feet for hours, when finally the time came for us to wander off home. Yes, it was a busy day, but still good fun and a good atmosphere. I’ll be back.

The Liverpool Comic Con website is here.

Check out Cult Locations Ink here.

Brown Acid: The Fourteenth Trip – Album Review

Various Artists – Brown Acid: The Fourteenth Trip

RidingEasy Records

Release date: 20/04/2022

Running time: 34 minutes (approx.)

Review by: Alun Jones

7.5/10

Well, that’s it, it’s over – I thought to myself on first perusing this latest entry in the Brown Acid series.  The well has finally run dry.  The RidingEasy Records archaeologists have eventually reached the end of their previously rich vein of rare, obscure and undiscovered proto-metal and vintage hard rock.  How had I arrived at this conclusion?  There are only eight songs, compared to the usual ten; with a running time of just 26 minutes. 

Then I realised that the final track, an 8-minute-long number by a band called Raven, was missing from the press review download I had.  So that extra track would even things out nicely, with a decent longer running time.  Though I wouldn’t be able to review every song, at least the existential crisis of NO MORE ROCK had been avoided!

Volume 14 starts of with the great ‘Fever Games’ by The Legends: it’s a rampant, rollicking late 60’s ode to Blue Cheer, Hendrix and Cream.  Despite aping Jimi a little too closely, this song is a lively opener.  Next up is Mijal & White with ‘I’ve Been You’.  This track sounds like the Monkees cutting a particularly noisy song by The Who, which should encourage you to definitely give it a whirl on your gramophone. 

I don’t know who Henry is, but thanks to the chunky blues rock of Liquid Blue, I know that ‘Henry Can’t Drive’.  This is a more traditional heavy rock number, and as an album highlight it keeps the engine speeding along on a straight track.  There’s a fast rock’n’roll MC5 vibe to ‘Signs’ by San Francisco Trolly Co. This energetic song is followed by Blue Creed’s ‘Need a Friend’, a raw and rough brawler.  It’s a contrast to ‘Play It Cool’ by Transfer, which reminds me of a revved-up surf track. 

‘You’re Not the Only Girl (I’m Out to Get)’ by Appletree finally ushers in some much-needed cowbell.  Reminiscent of Grand Funk Railroad and – gasp – even early Kiss, it’s another quality highlight.  Ideal for playing in an old, rusty’n’trusty Camaro.

Cox’s Army gives us another Hendrix inspired number with ‘I’m Tired’, which bops along in a true groovy manner.  And that, for me, is my last track on my version of “Brown Acid: The Fourteenth Trip”, though as mentioned above, there is another song called

Check out RidingEasy Records at various site webs, such as their own, BandcampFacebooksTwidderChewTube and Insta.

This review was presented to you by Platinum Al in association with Ever Metal.

UK Subs – Album Review

UK Subs – Work in Progress

Cherry Red Records

Release date: 22/04/2022

Running time: 41 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

9/10

Ladies and gentlemen: the UK Subs.  A fine collective of upstanding, noble samurai and no mistake.  Led by the indomitable Charlie Harper, the band have roots stretching right back to the origin of the London punk scene (and actually, a fair bit further than that).   The band are still touring and recording all this time later, albeit with changing line ups throughout the years, so their integrity and passion should never be in any doubt. 

Casual observers may not be aware that the UK Subs have released an album for every letter of the alphabet (plus more).  That’s no mean feat.  What is somewhat daunting, is that’s a lot for any new fans who want to collect everyone of those releases!  Yet fear not, music lovers: Cherry Red records have been gracious enough to re-release the 2011 album “Work in Progress”, on sexy double 10” gold and silver vinyl.  For anyone struggling to keep up, that means the punters have no excuse to at least have the letter W from the list in the bag.

And what will discerning music fans find within this sumptuous collection?  Why, fourteen songs of the finest punk rock vintage, of course.  That means a blitzkrieg of blinding rockers like ‘Creation’, ‘Radio Unfriendly’ and the brilliantly titled ‘Hell is Other People’.  Some bloke called Lars Frederickson, from a band called Rancid, co-wrote ‘This Chaos’ – another brain melter – and you can even bang your head to ‘Children of the Flood’, if you want to.

Punk rock unbelievers, I say unto thee: these songs do not all sound the same.  They are not simply constructed, amateur-hour noise.  All the tracks are full of energy and have their own identity.  There’s a hint of rockabilly on ‘Eighteen Wheels’, R&B garage rock on the bouncy Sonics cover ‘Strychnine’ and ‘All Blurs into One’ has an almost psychedelic sheen. 

The only potential misfires are ‘Tokyo Rose’, which at first sounds a bit too Hollywood Sunset Strip (but redeems itself after a few listens) and ‘Rock’n’Roll Whore’, which could be a bit – well, dated lyrically.

This UK Subs album admirably highlights a classic band who are still fighting on, taking their music to the world.  It shows the roots of the band in R&B, whilst also providing a link from the Ramones to US hardcore bands like Circle Jerks and Descendents, and ever onwards.  After all these years, the UK Subs are still a “Work in Progress” and show no signs of stopping.

Right, see you later.  I’m off to hang around in a graveyard with my old mate Dave Vanian.  Captain and Rat, you can only come if you promise to stop setting fire to mattresses.

You can find UK Subs on Facebook and Twitter.

Cherry Red Records have a website. Plus you can find them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Bandcamp.

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

House of Halloween Horror Fest 2022

It’s now November, and while Halloween is a distant memory for some, here it still lingers. Halloween Horror Fest was a blast, but it’s not quite dead and buried yet. There are a couple of spooky movies still to review for you lucky people. Gather round, ghouls – it’s time for…

House of Frankenstein (1944)

You just can’t beat the old Universal monster movies – I love ’em! Ideal easy viewing for Halloween – or any time, really!

In this picture, legendary horror master Boris Karloff plays Dr Niemann, a Mad Scientist if ever there was one, who escapes from prison with his hunchback accomplice. Together, they join a travelling horror side show curated by Professor Lampini, before eventually knocking him off. The remains of Count Dracula (John Carradine) are part of the show, and Niemann revives the vampire to help him wreak revenge on those responsible for his incarceration.

Revenge complete, the nefarious doctor abandons Dracula and makes his way to locate the records of Frankenstein. There, Niemann stumbles across both the Frankenstein Monster (Glenn Strange) and the Wolfman (Lon Chaney Jr), frozen in ice from their previous encounter in Frankenstein meets the Wolfman. With the Wolfman revived and his human counterpart, Larry Talbot, eager to receive aid from Dr Niemann, a rivalry between Talbot and the hunchback for the affection of a gypsy girl threatens to thwart all their plans.

It wouldn’t be Halloween without the monochrome delights of Universal monster movies, and this one is great fun. The only way to improve a monster movie is to cram in as many more monsters as possible, and House of Frankenstein does exactly that. Karloff and Chaney are wonderful, and though Carradine is no Lugosi, he has a charm of his own. It’s just a shame Drac isn’t utilised more fully here. That’s really my only complaint, other than the short running time.

The shared universe of the Marvel superheroes is a huge accomplishment nowadays; though it could be argued that Universal did it first: combining a bunch of their main horror characters into one movie. House of Frankenstein was certainly entertaining, a film I’ll revisit many times.

9/10

1408 (2007)

Based on a Stephen King short story I’ve never read, 1408 stars John Cusack as Mike Enslin, a professional paranormal investigator and writer. Enslin is somewhat jaded and definitely sceptical concerning his investigations of allegedly haunted houses.

When Enslin decides to investigate the infamous Room 1408 in a New York City hotel, he expects the usual non event – despite the manager (Samuel L Jackson) attempting to dissuade him from entering the room altogether. No one, the writer is warned, lasts longer than an hour in Room 1408.

Enslin enters the room, and slowly things start to happen. From witnessing ghosts of the room’s previous occupants to facing his own guilt and loss, Mike is increasingly trapped and tormented inside the hotel room.

It’s largely a one man show for Cusack, who does a solid job in his role as cynical writer turned haunted prisoner. The film has plenty of creepy, jumpy moments and unexpected twists. I’ve said enough, I don’t want to give anymore away – but I will say I was more impressed by 1408 than I expected to be.

7/10

There we go folks, Halloween Horror Fest is all over for another year. See you next time. Unpleasant dreams!

Scars of Halloween Horror Fest

Scars of Dracula (1970)

At last, some Hammer! My favourite horror film studio, Hammer Films are at their best telling a gothic tale, which is exactly what we get with Scars of Dracula. Some may find them dated, old fashioned, campy – I love these movies and the wonderful fantasy atmospheres they create.

In Scars of Dracula, we meet Paul (Christopher Matthews). Paul is a bit of a lad – he ends up bailing out of a young ladies boudoir and through a series of misadventures, finds his way to Dracula’s castle. The Count (Christopher Lee, of course) has been resurrected yet again, and together with his faithful assistant Klove (Patrick Trouighton) and vampire bride (Anouska Hempel), Paul’s over night stay becomes permanent.

But have no fear, Pauls brother Simon (the legendary Dennis Waterman) and his fiancée Sarah (lovely Jenny Hanley) decide to find Paul. It’s not long before they encounter the same spooky castle, with it’s creepy servant and menacing Count…

This chapter of Hammer’s Dracula series feels a little disjointed from the previous movies. It was obviously intended as a reboot, though despite some nods to the original source material it feels like a re-tread of all the old clichés. That said, the performances are good (Lee actually gets some dialogue here) and there’s plenty of Hammer atmosphere.

I haven’t watched Scars of Dracula for quite a few years, but I enjoyed more than I thought. There’s more to enjoy than I remembered.

8.5/10

The Werewolf (1956)

A great 50’s creature feature, The Werewolf follows the story of an American community threatened by a savage beast. We meet a lone man with no memory, who transforms into a monster when he’s attacked. The local law enforcement lock down the town and hunt for the creature, whilst those responsible – two scientists who are conducting wild experiments – want to erase the evidence.

This old B&W movie was lots of fun and despite a low budget, it’s well made. My only criticism is that the werewolf in question is a scientific creation, rather than supernatural – but that plays into the script well enough. The Werewolf was surprisingly good and an ideal Halloween watch for a lazy afternoon!

7.5/10

Halloween Horror Fest By Night

Eloise (2016)

Eloise is a haunted asylum movie, with some time travel bumpf thrown in. The reason I wanted to see it, is because my daughter’s name is Eloise. The DVD case had stared up at me on more occasions than I can remember, and eventually I could resist no more. The film didn’t look great, but the title amused me far more than it should do.

There’s this dude – The Deep from The Boys – who stands to inherit millions, but he needs to sneak into a spooky mental hospital to get some info to help his cause. He recruits an old pal, plus Eliza Dushku and her autisitic brother to help him. Oh, and T1000 used to run the place. High jinks ensue.

To be fair, the Cert 15 should have warned me way-the-fuck-off this escapade. Eloise would have been better as a Scooby Doo straight-to-DVD movie – all they needed to do, was add a dog to The Deep’s gang. Lazy, stereotyped characters (in particular the black best friend and the autistic guy) are just insulting.

The DVD nearly went on the charity shop donation pile. The only reason I’ve kept it, is because if my daughter is naughty, I’ll threaten that she’s going to be made to watch it. Cruel.

4/10

Werewolf By Night (2022)

Technically, Werewolf By Night isn’t a movie – at 53 minutes, it’s a TV Special. But I just had to chuck it in for Halloween Horror Fest anyway.

Way back when I started reading comic books – around 1980 – Werewolf By Night was one of the first issues I ever picked up. Superheroes were great, but they had monster comics too? Take my money!

This latest reiteration of WBN stars the Jack Russell character (ha ha, yeah) mixing with a bunch of monster hunters to determine who will become the next chief monster hunter. Except two things: Jack is actually trying to help the hunted creature, and Jack is a monster himself – the werewolf of the title.

Shot for the most part in Universal style black & white, Werewolf By Night is a great mix of moody, visceral horror action and fanboy Easter Eggs. It might help if viewers are familiar with this corner of the Marvel Universe, but if not, it’s still a stylish thriller. I loved it and relish the potential of exploring the more macabre world of Marvel comics on screen.

9/10

Halloween Horror Fest 2022

Greetings, friends! Welcome to my abode. Don’t be afraid, open the door wide and step inside. It’s cold outside, the rain is lashing down and the wind is howling – come sit by my fire and warm your chilled bones. Pour a drink and relax. I have many stories to tell you this Halloween. Listen closely…

Here we go again with Platinum Al’s traditional Halloween Horror Fest, where I’ll be watching spooky movies and sharing my fetid thoughts on my viewing. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. Here are the first of this year’s celluloid nightmares…

Driller Killer (1979)

Starting off, something different from my usual preferences – an infamous “video nasty”. Here we meet Reno, a troubled artist, struggling to create a masterpiece whilst living in poverty. As the stresses pile up in his everyday life, he resorts to viciously murdering local vagrants as his mental health suffers.

I’m no fan of “slasher” movies, and didn’t expect much from this film – other than being able to tick it off the list. It’s low budget and dated, but rather than a predictable slasher fest, the movie takes it’s time to develop the main character and examine his descent into murderous madness. This slow burn at least demonstrates the film makers grander ambitions, though on the other hand it does slow the movie down.

A surprising approach then, but this art house wannabe doesn’t really achieve much more. “Driller Killer” is worth a watch to – well, yeah – tick it off the list.

5/10

Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror (1922)

One hundred undead years old this year, FW Murnau’s Dracula “homage” should need no introduction. Certainly, the appearance of Count Orlok – this film’s Drac substitute – has been magnificently influential, not to mention the many other magical innovations on screen.

The plot is almost directly cloned from Stoker’s novel (indeed my copy even uses the original character names) – a problem which led to the writer’s heirs suing over the unauthorised adaptation. As a result, all copies were to be destroyed. Thankfully, not all prints were extinguished.

Here, our Jonathon Harker (or Hutter) travels to meet Count Orlok (Dracula, obvs) in order to procure property for the nobleman. Orlok is of course a vampire, and after sidestepping Harker/Hutter, travels back to the hero’s home town via a pleasant cruise on a ship called the Demeter.

You don’t really need to know any more. Put it this way, if you’ve never seen this film – you need to watch it. Yes, it’s a silent movie and obviously that dates the picture considerably, but there’s still so much to enjoy. Cinematic vampire lore is being built before our eyes, as well as the language of cinema being explored and developed. These experiments don’t always work, but it’s always fascinating.

Max Schreck as Orlok is still one of the creepiest sights in movies, ever. The rat-like visage, the menacing shadow climbing the stairs – still truly ghastly, all these years later. I doubt this vampire will ever die.

10/10

Toyah – Album Review

Toyah – Toyah! Toyah! Toyah! (2021 Remaster)

Cherry Red Records

Release date: 13/05/2022

Running time: 61 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

8.5/10

Now, your first question may well be: “How did Platinum Al manage to slip a Toyah review onto a Rock/Metal website?”  Well, dear reader, let me tell you a story.  The first time I ever saw Toyah live was at a local club, where the dynamic lady herself was backed by the mighty Girlschool.  All of these fearsome females put on an explosive show, comprising of ultra-rocked-up originals from both artists and classic rock covers.  So yes, Toyah is more rock’n’roll than you (or I) will ever be.

To be fair, despite her pop pedigree, Toyah Willcox has always been more Bowie than Kylie.  And on this reissue of the 1980 live album, Cherry Red have presented us with a vibrant – even, dare I say it, rocking – bunch of post punk songs that show Toyah and her band in full flight.  The expanded deluxe CD set is packaged with a DVD featuring a contemporary documentary.  For this review though, we’re focussing purely on the music.

Happily, the production is top notch.  Remastered by Nick Watson from the original master tapes, the sound is formidable.  The instruments come through crisp and clear, and the vocals are excellent, as shown on ‘Victims of the Riddle’ where keyboards maintain a steady melody while lead guitar erupts with energy.  Likewise, bass and drums shine on ‘Love Me’ – it’s particularly impressive considering we’re dealing with a 40-year-old live album.

Highlights on “Toyah! Toyah! Toyah!” include ‘Bird in Flight’, ‘Danced’ (which reminded me of the Skids) and the occult war chant of ‘Ieya’.  Never truly dark enough to be goth, the songs here are more “Scary Monsters” with a generous helping of Hawkwind space rock, especially on ‘Race Through Space’.

Through it all, Toyah’s one-of-a-kind voice soars.  Toyah has never stopped writing and performing music, acting, presenting and so on; these days she’s famous for her lockdown YouTube videos performing kitchen-based rock covers with husband, King Crimson legend, Robert Fripp.  It’s great to hear “Toyah! Toyah! Toyah!” remastered and in pristine condition.  Even speaking as a vinyl purist, it looks like my ancient vinyl copy has had its day.

Check out Toyah on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or her own website thingy.

You can also investigate the many wonders offered by Cherry Red Records on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Bandcamp and their own webalicious site.

This review has been presented to you by Platinum Al and Ever Metal.

Platinum Al’s Real Hot Tub

After all these years of Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub, at last, I bring you… Platinum Al’s REAL hot tub!

It was my birthday recently, and we hired an actual, real life hot tub for a few days as part of the celebrations.

To commemorate the occasion, here’s a photo of me, sat in the luxurious tub waters, enjoying a cocktail. Just to prove it happened. No, I’m not naked – I have surf shorts on – but still, I apologies to you, faithful readers, for having to see me scantily dressed.

Sadly, the hot tub had to go back – but I couldn’t let this memorable event pass by without a mention. Back to the Virtual Hot Tub it is. Normal service has been resumed.