Here Lies Man – Album Review

Here Lies Man – Ritual Divination

RidingEasy Records (Us/Them Group)

Release date: 22/01/2021

Running time: 61 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

8.5/10

OK: we have something very interesting here.  Something quite special.  Apparently, this is the fourth album from Here Lies Man, so I’ve got some catching up to do.  The bands unique selling point is their amalgamation of Black Sabbath with Afrobeat, and it’s a refreshing interpretation of a genre that continues to morph and bewitch the listener.

On this release, founding members Marcos Garcia (vocals/guitar) and Geoff Mann (drums) are joined by Doug Organ on keyboards and JP Maramba on bass.  Here Lies Man devoutly worship the riff in full-on Iommi style, but they’re piloting their space vessel on an exploratory course into previously uncharted galaxies.

Yes, there are chunky, heavy guitar riffs galore – but with a stroke of mad scientist genius the rhythms power the engine with a new force.  Tracks like “I Wander”, “Night Comes” and album highlight “Can’t Kill It” don’t just rock, they don’t just groove: there’s something – dare I say it – danceable in the songs on Ritual Divination.  So much so, that I might just have to go and shake my not inconsiderable booty right now.

There.  That’s better.  Just had to groove on out there, people – but I’m back now.  Here Lies Man have crafted something very infectious.  Snippets of 70s style heavy rock (“Collector of Vanities”), dizzy space rock (“In These Dreams”) and incessant beats (everywhere) create something that’s heavy AND fun.

If I have one criticism, it’s that the album feels slightly too long.  All this inventiveness is sometimes hard to keep up with, despite its addictive nature.  Over time, however, I’m guessing the additional length of the recording will probably deliver greater rewards.   

Ritual Divination by Here Lies Man: boldly rocking where no one has rocked before.

My old mates in Black Sabbath used to enjoy going off in random directions, too (usually because of the, er… substances).  One time, Bill Ward decided to play yet another prank on diminutive vocal god Ronnie James Dio by taking an axe to all the furniture in Ron’s hotel room and hacking off eight inches from the bottom of everything, to make it all smaller.  Chair legs, table legs, bed – the lot.  Moved the pictures – and the mirror on the wall – lower down by a foot, etc etc.

When Ronnie arrived, not only did he not get the joke, he really didn’t get the joke at all.  He thought it was a special room for the vertically challenged, congratulated the Hotel Manager and gave me a big cash bonus for booking him such a fabulous room.  Cheers, Bill!

Check out Here Lies Man website, on Bandcamp and Facebook.

Visit RidingEasy Records website and on Bandcamp.

This review was brought to you by Platinum Al and Ever Metal.

Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub #23

What could be better, I ask you: playing through a pile of classic 7 inch vinyl singles, whilst having a few alcoholic beverages, basking in the glory of music? Not much. The only catch here, is that some of these records are less “classic” than others…

Never the less, my mission to listen to my stack of unplayed vinyl singles continues regardless. A side then B side, no skipping, playing the lot – whether hard sought after treasure; charity shop find or gift.

Pour yourself a drink and join me on my latest musical odyssey…

  1. Iggy Pop – “Real Wild Child (Wild One)” / “Little Miss Emperor”
  2. Garbage – “Queer” / “The Very Queer Dub-Bin Version”
  3. Garbage – “When I Grow Up” / “Can’t Seem to Make You Mine”
  4. The Gap Band – “Oops Upside Your Head” / “The Boys Are Back in Town”
  5. Glen Campbell – “Rhinestone Cowboy” / “Lovelight”
  6. Kim Wilde – “The Second Time” / “Lovers on a Beach”
  7. Kim Wilde – “Dancing in the Dark” / “Back Street Driver”
  8. Styx – “Boat on the River” / “Come Sail Away”
  9. The Mama’s and the Papa’s – “Monday Monday” / Got a Feelin'”
  10. Dave Davies – “Death of a Clown” / “Love Me Till the Sun Shines”
  11. Duane Eddy – “Rebel Rouser” / Bobby Day – “Rockin’ Robin” / Chubby Checker – “Pony Time”
  12. Trio – Da Da Da (English Version) / Da Da Da (German Version)
  13. Billy Fury – “Halfway to Paradise” / “Cross My Heart”
  14. The Zombies – “She’s Not There” / “You Make Me Feel Good”
  15. Stevie Wonder – “Yester-me, Yester-you, Yesterday” / “I’d Be a Fool Right Now”
  16. Roy Orbison – “It’s Over” / “Indian Wedding”
  17. Gene Vincent – “She She Little Sheila” / “Hot Dollar”
  18. The Motors – “Forget About You” / “Picturama”
  19. Blondie – “Island of Lost Souls” / “Dragonfly”
  20. T-Rex – “20th Century Boy” / “Free Angel”

Another 20 awesome singles! Great stuff there from Iggy, Blondie, T-Rex, Roy Orbison – plus double Garbage and double Kim Wilde. Crossing the genres and spanning the years, it was another fine night of music.

More Singles Night vinyl soon!

New Deck 2021 – Death

Skateboards don’t last forever. A couple of the decks I have bought over the years I’ve bought to display, but I’m not a collector, as I’ve said before. All of the other decks that I’ve bought are to be skated.

Not that I’m against deck collecting, I just can’t afford it!

So in order to preserve my latest deck for posterity, here it is – a Death Skateboards “Script” deck in red and white. I’ll cherish the photos, ‘cos already I’ve skated it and it’s getting beat up (just as it should be). It’s 8.5″ wide and it skates great.

Yet another Death deck, and bought again from the ever reliable Native Skate Store. I also got some new 53mm Death wheels, some bearings, and Native threw in some stickers. I do love stickers.

There we have it: my current set up. And what a beauty it is.

Visit the Death Skateboards website here.

Visit Native Skate Store here.

Cocktail Time: Valencian Orange

Summer is here! Warm sunny days, late nights, relaxing by the pool. Paddling pool, that is, as travel is still something out of reach for most of us at the moment. But never fear: Platinum Al is here with the perfect cocktail to enjoy on a balmy evening as you watch the sun go down.

The Valencian Orange cocktail can be a potent concoction, as you can tell from the ingredients. It should, of course, be made with freshly squeezed Valencian oranges, but as that’s a bit impossible at the moment, regular freshly squeeezed will have to do.

Valencian Orange Cocktail

  • Vodka
  • Gin
  • Sugar
  • Cava
  • Freshly squeezed orange juice

You’ll need a large glass (see the big wine glass in the picture for reference). Add one measure of vodka, one measure of gin, and a teaspoonful of sugar.

Next, pour in a generous amount of Cava. There’s no specified measure for this, so play around with it to your taste. I’d aim for a small glass of wine’s worth for starters. You can play around with all of these measures to get your preferred taste.

Finally, top up with the freshly squeezed orange juice, et voila – one Valencian Orange cocktail.

TIP: The cava and the orange juice both need to be chilled (or ice cold) – as ice cubes will melt and water down the taste.

In the accompanying photo, you’ll notice that the glasses feature a sugared rim. This is really just for appearances. You can recreate this with grenadine and sugar, mixed on a plate – which you then place the rim of the glass into, upside down. Obviously, do this part of the creation before you put the liquid in the glass…

Now you’re free to enjoy this great cocktail. It’s refreshing, fruity and potentially heady, all in one drink. Enjoy!

Soundtrack: Spanish Caravan by The Doors, Gipsy Kings, Rodrigo y Gabriela.

Disclaimer: I’ve never been to Valencia. I stole this recipe from an episode of Travel Man, starring one of my heroes, Richard Ayoade.

Dayglo Mourning – Album Review

Dayglo Mourning – Dead Star

Black Doomba Records (Dewar PR)

Release date: 12/02/2021

Running time: 35 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

9/10

It was late afternoon when I woke.  Sunlight was pouring through the blinds like cheap bourbon into a cracked glass, and my mouth was as healthy as a well-worn shoe.  Still aching, I reached for a half-finished bottle of warm beer to contemplate the previous nights events.  How had I ended up in this mess again?

The culprit was there before me: all innocent now, but I knew the power that lurked inside.  A new album by a band called Dayglo Mourning was to blame.  I had spent the night lost in a haze of booze and infernal doom metal, my reverie spiralling out of control by the minute.

“Dead Star”, this work was called.  An ode to sludgy riffs, apocalyptic drums and earth-shaking riffs in the traditional, old school style.  Right up my strasse, then.

Dayglo Mourning are three barbarian bruisers from Atlanta, Georgia: Joe Mills (guitar and vocals), Jerimy McNeil (bass, vocals) and Ray Miner (drums).  Together they have created a huge, monolithic prayer to the riff, with a hint of space rock and some fine bluesy flourishes for good measure.

Songs such as the title track and “Faithful Demise” also offer up a warm groove, whilst “The Offering” has more of a blues feel.  “Bloodghast” and “Witches Ladder” feature a more direct, pummelling attack, and “Ashwhore” features some spooky, satanic choir work to up the occult ante before ushering in another hefty riff.

Thundering vocals; a great, thick guitar tone and powerful rhythm section teamwork are enhanced with a fine production that’s crisp and clear, yet doesn’t sacrifice the traditional feel.

It’s hard to find fault with “Dead Star”.  Maybe the only thing is it’s a little too short?  But then, doom is perfect for vinyl, and 35 minutes is all anyone should need. 

The album even features a fantastically lurid cover, featuring some foxy space princesses in what looks like a 1970’s Marvel comic.  It was this image that had woken me from my stupor; the bright supernatural glow piercing my eyelids as they cracked open.  Cheers, Dayglo Mourning – fancy another pint?

Check out Dayglo Mourning on Facebook, Bandcamp and Twitter.

Visit the Black Doomba Records website, or find them on Facebook and Bandcamp.

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

Millennium Falcon – Part 2

Following from my recent post featuring my original 1980 Millennium Falcon toy, here’s part two as promised – looking at the revived, reissued version from 1995…

Star Wars toys blasted back to life in the mid-90s, after a decade of inactivity. By that point, I had recently graduated from University and had landed a dream job – working in Toys R Us. It was a stop gap, but I’d always wanted to work in a toy shop. As it transpired, although being an underachiever and not exactly proud of it, I was perfectly situated for the start of the Star Wars toy revival.

Despite grave concerns about some of the new figures (“Why are they so muscular?!”), the new Power of the Force 2 line did feature a lot more detail than their original counterparts. Take, for instance, the new R2D2, who now had sculpted details (and a third leg) instead of just a sticker*.

When the new Millennium Falcon arrived, it was pretty much the same intricate outer that we’d seen with it’s predecessor, but now there was more detail than ever. For a start, the outer had a much better, random and faded darker colours to give it that authentic used-Universe look, and blue (rather than red) engine exhausts.

Inside, there was a more movie accurate background card in the cargo hold, and the holo chess table had a more faithful decal too.

Most of the old features were intact, such as the laser cannon seat and hidden compartment. The latest version was augmented by movie realistic electronic sound effects, rather than the “buzzer” on the old ship.

dav

The only main issue – which I rediscovered whilst setting up these photos – was, the new macho man figures were just too bulky to fit in the cockpit. That’s why there’s no photo of Han and Chewie flying the piece of junk…

My old 1980 version will always be closest to my heart, but this one is still very cool. The POTF2 Falcon is a fantastic toy: a nice homage to both the previous and the movie versions, plus a big step in updating for the future.

Until, of course, we arrive at the Big Millennium Falcon in 2008. We’ll get to that one another time…

*Disclaimer: I don’t mean to be cruel to the original R2D2 figure, he was my first Star Wars figure and will always be my favourite!

Misty Grey – Album Review

Misty Grey – Chapter II

Interstellar Smoke Records

Release date: 20 November 2020

Running time: 39 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

9/10

Can you think of a more apt genre than doom metal for the times we live in?  It’s crazy out there.  From a global pandemic, civil unrest, ecological destruction and lunatics in the most powerful seats in the world, the 21st century becomes more and more apocalyptic day by day.  Party music doesn’t seem right.  On the other hand, the retro stylings of bands like Misty Grey hark back to cosier times of the seventies and eighties when we just had nuclear destruction – and yet more lunatics in power – to contend with.

Misty Grey is not the name of a US mattress actress (don’t bother Googling it, just in case), they are in fact a four-piece doom metal band from Spain.  They deal in extremely authentic, good old fashioned heavy rock in the Black Sabbath/Pentagram/Saint Vitus vein.  We’re in thundering, enormo riff territory, and by ‘eck it’s good stuff.

Originally receiving a CD release back in 2018, “Chapter II” is now available on vinyl from Interstellar Smoke Records.  And a very welcome re-release it is, as “Chapter II” could well have been lost in an Atlantean cataclysm of some type, which would be shameful.

Deceptively pretty Spanish guitar opens the album with a laid-back space-jazz feel, before “Spellbound” erupts with Juan’s raw, grinding guitar.  The chugging riff is illustrative of what to expect from this album; it’s Iommi worship all the way (and bless Misty Grey for it).

If that first track is the first Sabbath album, “Strangers on a Train” is a missing Masters of Reality cut.  It rolls and grooves along, powered by Robin’s bass and Javi’s drums.  On the other hand, “Rebecca” is more like The Obsessed or Saint Vitus, there’s a rough, organic, yet aggressive feel to it.

The musicianship is great, the production has atmosphere and pays homage in a credible, affectionate manner to the band’s influences – without becoming a parody.  The vocals of Beatriz Castillo really help define an individual sound for Misty Grey, she is both tender and terrifying in equal, devastating measure.

I apologise to the band for my crass comparisons to the old masters.  But hey, I don’t listen to this type of music for radical innovation.  The last thing anyone wants to hear is some kind of nu-doom, with samplers and turntables.  Keep it slow, keep it weird, keep it trippy – but most of all, keep it riffy.  Heavy, repetitive and riffy.  Misty Grey do just that on “Chapter II” and it’s all kinds of awesome.  

Check out Misty Grey on: Bandcamp, Facebook, Instagram, Spotify and YouTube.

This has been a Platinum Review for Ever Metal.

Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub #22

Time for another twenty slices of 7 inch vinyl goodness, with Singles Night at Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub!

You know what that means: an evening of me playing through a stack of vinyl singles, one after the other, whilst imbibing the booze. It’s more fun than it sounds, honest! There are untold treasures in my pile of records waiting to be rediscovered – plus a few duds that should be consigned to the pop junk pile.

Join me now, on yet another daring voyage into my vinyl collection…

  1. Paul Simon – “You Can Call Me Al” / “Gumboots”
  2. Steppenwolf – “Hey Lawdy Mama” / “Twisted”
  3. Steppenwolf – “Born to be Wild” / “The Pusher”
  4. Iggy Pop – “Livin’ on the Edge of the Night” / “The Passenger”
  5. C.W. McCall – “Convoy” / “Long Lonesome Road”
  6. Belinda Carlisle – “Do You Feel Like I Feel?” / “Do You Feel Like I Feel? (Dance Mix)”
  7. The Dave Clark Five – “Glad All Over” / “I Know You”
  8. Chris Montez – “Let’s Dance” / Lonnie Mack – “Memphis”
  9. Dion & The Belmonts – “A Teenager in Love” / “I Can’t Go On (Rosalie)”
  10. Hank Williams – “Honky Tonk Blues” / “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive” / “My Bucket’s Got a Hole in it” / “Baby, We’re Really in Love”
  11. Slade – “Skweeze Me, Pleeze Me” / “Kill ‘Em at the Hot Club Tonite”
  12. M – “Pop Muzik” / “M Factor”
  13. Nancy Sinatra & Frank Sinatra – “Somethin’ Stupid” / Frank Sinatra – “Call Me”
  14. Kylie Minogue – “What Do I Have to do” / “What Do I Have to do (Instrumental)”
  15. Queen – “You’re My Best Friend” / “’39”
  16. 10cc – “I’m not in Love” / “Good News”
  17. Rod Stewart – “Ain’t Love a Bitch” / “Scarred and Scared”
  18. David Bowie – “Sound and Vision” / “A New Career in a New Town”
  19. Eagles – “Witchy Woman” / “Earlybird”
  20. The Sweet – “Hell Raiser” / “Burning”

Well, I had to own a copy of that Paul Simon classic, right? And the Slade B-side is tantalisingly close to hot tub, though I wouldn’t want Noddy and pals murdering anyone in my Virtual Hot Tub.

A couple of Steppenwolf killers there: look at that Easy Rider style double A side! One of the most underrated bands ever. I was lacking an Iggy single in my collection, hence that purchase – but didn’t realise that “The Passenger” was on the B-side. That’s definitely going in my jukebox, when I get one.

Regular readers will know how much I adore the lovely Belinda Carlisle. That single is a picture disc, with a bonus photo and frame (see pic) – not bad for a 50p charity shop purchase. On the other hand, I’ve never rated Kylie (I much prefer her sister, phwooar!) – but that tune’s not bad.

With some legendary country and pop – not to mention awesome tunes from Queen, Bowie and Sweet – that’s a pretty damn fine playlist. “Convoy” was one of my earliest favourite songs, by the way.

I’ll be back soon with another Singles Night – stay tuned!

Millennium Falcon – the Greatest Toy Ever

“You’ve never heard of the Millennium Falcon? It’s the ship that made the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs.”

Was it Christmas 1980 or 1981? Whichever it was, it was the best Christmas present ever. After months and months of making a pretend Millennium Falcon out of cardboard tissue boxes, I was suddenly the owner of an actual Falcon. Han Solo’s super fast, hunk of junk smuggler’s freighter was mine, to recreate all the fun of the films.

The Millennium Falcon was the coolest space ship ever. The ship was a central part of the action in Star Wars, almost a character in itself – unreliable, temperamental, heroic. It was the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy and full of surprises – as was the toy.

We already had an X-Wing for Luke, a TIE fighter and landspeeder to play out our memories of the movie scenes (remember: no VCR in those days, kids!). But the Falcon seemed unattainable – surely Kenner/Palitoy wouldn’t be able to make a ship that big, to fit the figures inside?

And then they did. And I got one for Christmas: it was straight out the box, built up and stickers put on by my Dad, and I was ready to go. I still remember that morning now, after weeks of anticipation, hoping that I’d be lucky enough to be rewarded with this toy on the big day.

Kenner (or Palitoy, the UK manufacturer, in my case) delivered a toy that had all the magic of the film. Yes, you could put figures inside it: Han and Chewie could fit in the cockpit. There was a laser gun turret to shoot enemy fighters. A holo chess table to play (“It’s not wise to upset a Wookiee.”). A remote for lightsaber practice and a hidden smuggling compartment to hide from the Empire. It made a buzzing laser gun sound and had retractable landing gear.

The ship looked fantastic on the outside, lots of random detail just like the model in the film. This Millennium Falcon was a toy, but it appeared so accurate it might have been an actual prop from Industrial Light and Magic. That’s how I felt about it, anyway.

Photos here are of my original Millennium Falcon, still with all parts and in the box, which I gratefully received that Christmas morning. After years of play, it’s still all there: a little beat up, a little dirty – just like the “real” thing. As a kid, I liked to make it look more authentic with a good layer of dust and some discolouration: not sure that was a good idea, now.

But what a toy! Literally hours and hours of play value, recreating scenes or imagining my own sequels. An absolute joy.

It was great fun digging out this old piece of junk. I had a blast taking the photos, hope you enjoy them. And remember: “She may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts, kid.”

Part 2 soon!

Hawarden Limerick

Several years ago, I wrote some poetry on a course I attended. Nothing serious, just having a bash. I’ve posted some of them before. This time, I thought I would share with you a limerick, which I hope will both amuse and entertain. And don’t worry, this composition is family friendly.

As a note of explanation, the village of Hawarden is situated near where I live, in North Wales. The name is pronounced “harden”, to rhyme with “garden”. It’s a nice place. Here is my poetic tribute:

 

Hawarden Limerick

There was an old man from Hawarden

Who had a monkey in his back garden

The monkey, so rude

Played with his food

And he never once said pardon.

 

I thank you.