Wait, it can’t be time for a new Duel album, surely? It only seems like yesterday that I reviewed their last work for Ever Metal. Time flies when you’re having fun, eh? Well, that last album “Valley of Shadows”, also from Heavy Psych Sounds, was released back in 2019 – so yes, it’s time for more Duel. My cryo-freeze unit must have kept me out of trouble for longer than I thought.
Austin, Texas is where they came from, though Duel’s real home is good ol’ heavy metal and greasy hard rock. Whereas with the previous record review, I made comparisons to stoner rock and 70’s proto metal, this time around, “In Carne Persona” has a much more trad metal approach. Thundering out of the gates on the very first track, “Children of the Fire” has a galloping, early Maiden sound.
The NWOBHM influence rages throughout the album, with some classic Sabbath heaviness and Thin Lizzy style melody for good measure. Second track “The Veil” illustrates both sides of those 70s references with a pounding riff and laser sharp solo.
Tracks like “Anchor” and “Bite Back” take the intensity of Trouble or Saint Vitus and ramp up the pace with a ferocious Priest-like power. “Lizard Tongue” delivers the boogie, whilst final track “Blood on the Claw” provides an epic finish to the proceedings. Bringing the album to a huge and satisfying conclusion; it builds slowly, contrasting heavy chugging sections with refrained passages.
Superb bombastic vocals crown masterful musicianship that evokes the past masters, making “In Carne Persona” another triumphant album from Duel. Throughout it all, Duel create a dark and brooding atmosphere, that effectively stamps their own authenticity on the old template. Dark but never grim, it’s always exciting.
I remember a duel of sorts in my days with Purple. One night whilst on tour somewhere, we decided to have a game of beer Russian roulette. Thirty cans of lager on the table, one had been shaken up by yours truly and placed randomly back amongst the others. Participants would then open one can at a time next to their ear; one unlucky player would obviously suffer the frothy consequences.
Gillan, Lord and Blackmore all started well – springing open cans next to their heads which didn’t explode, so they could drink them down. Eventually, and inevitably, it was Ritchie who took the shaken beer to the head, he was soaked and screamed petulantly at Gillan, blaming the singer for his misfortune. It wasn’t like he didn’t know what to expect! Blackmore stormed off leaving the rest of us in hysterics. What was really funny was, when Ritchie wasn’t looking, I’d switched cans on him with another frothed up bullet. Ha!
Hello there! Remember me? It’s me, that bloke who occasionally reviews albums for Ever Metal and spins ropey old yarns about rock’n’roll. Yeah, him. Sorry I’ve been absent for a while, had a few things on my all-you-can-eat buffet plate recently. More about that another time (if the lawyers allow me). For now, recline in your favourite easy chair, and let’s review. With me? Good.
Right then, bit of a mammoth task, this one. “Live in the Mojave Desert” is actually a series of five albums, each recorded live (of course) amongst the sand and rocks of the Californian desert. It’s probably like Star Trek, when Kirk and crew are roaming around the cliffs and valleys – but in the dark, and with guitars and lights and stuff – and no one dies (hopefully).
Up first in my sequence of albums is the legendary Earthless, a band who should need no introduction. I listened to their offering whilst on a trip to North Wales; sadly the surf was flat, but the sonic musings of this three piece fitted perfectly the rolling roads between green valleys and big skies. In the land of druids and standing stones, witches and warriors, this was a perfect soundtrack. The songs are a journey in themselves, awash with psychedelic Hendrix style explorations. Only three songs, but they’re plenty lengthy and offer huge scope. It’s actually quite beautiful. (9/10)
Next on the list was Mountain Tamer, a band I’m not familiar with previously, but a cool name. And a cool name goes a long way with me. The Mountain Tamer sound is raw and in-your-face, with mighty, meaty riffs that clunk around in full-on doom style. There’s also a mind expanding, trippy element to their music, leaving me with the impression of Black Flag in a collision with Hawkwind. This unique approach is best exemplified by stand out tracks “Black Noise” and “Scorched Earth”, but it’s all damn fine. (8/10)
An offering in this series from my old buddies Nebula was very welcome, their brand of psych drenched sci-fi hard rock being something I’m somewhat partial to. This is the album with the most obviously “live” feel – not that it’s sloppy at all, the very occasional tiny imperfections and wall of fuzz give a genuine and celebratory vibe. Opening track “To the Centre” is a feedback drenched, blistering explosion. “Giant” is another standout track with a bouncing, crazy gonzo riff. (8/10)
Spirit Mother are another band I’ve not heard before, and they were a real surprise. Their first song, “Tonic (Exodus Inc)” is straight off the soundtrack of some forgotten Italian/Turkish 1970s horror movie. The band take the standard desert/doom rock and add violin, and everything veers off in a totally unexpected direction. From mournful 70s rock on “Ether” to creating their own genre of gothic Spaghetti Western (“Dead Cells”), it’s like Morricone on peyote orchestrating The Exorcist. Strangely beguiling. (8.5/10)
The album I listened to last in the collection was the debut release of STÖNER, the very aptly named stoner rock “supergroup” which features Brant Bjork (Kyuss, Fu Manchu, solo etc) and Nick Oliveri (Kyuss, QOTSA, Mondo Generator etc etc). With Brant’s drummer, Ryan Güt whacking the tubs. As a fan of these rogues’ other bands, I was definitely curious about this release. No fear here: this is exactly what I hoped it would be: desert rock royalty. “Rad is Rad” features a relentless, rolling bassline that drags the listener along on a head-nodding journey whilst Brant croons in his laid-back manner. The big, groovy bass continues in “The Older Kids”, and the tracks develop a trancelike vibe as it progresses. And strap yourself in for the final song, “Tribe/Fly Girl” – over 13 minutes that will melt your eyeballs. Definitive. (9/10)
That’s it: five albums, five bands, and a mind-blowing excursion into the remote desert valleys. Whether showcasing how it should be done, or abducting the listener in a smoke-filled UFO to be probed in new realms, these live collections are a trip.
Here’s a ton of links! Click away for more info on this awesome music…
Welcome to the second part of my reminiscences of my old Star Wars figures. This time, we’ll complete the rest of the Empire Strikes Back waves that came out in the early 1980s. A little less words maybe, a few more photos.
Last time we looked at the first wave of Empire figures, plus an early arrival (Boba Fett) and a late comer (Yoda). Whereas the figure selection for the first movie was never exhaustive (we could’ve done with more, to be honest) – the remaining Empire waves would deliver a bundle of key characters as well as some background oddballs, to pad out your playing experience.
The first wave gave us a classic Leia, this time in Hoth Outift. Again, the figure shown here is my excellent condition version, which I bought myself at the end of the line’s run, to replace my sister’s slightly beat-up one.
Next was Han Solo (Bespin Outfit), hands down my favourite Han figure. This guy saw a lot of play. Great sculpt, holds his blaster well, just awesome. The only negatives are that his trousers are too light in colour, and they packed him with the wrong gun.
The Rebel Commander was a welcome addition – you can never have too many troops! Lots of detail, but the blaster he came with is pretty lame. The Medical droid, 21B, was also a very detailed figure. I loved the transparent torso. Sadly, I lost his medical tool/needle thing years ago, so I should replace that.
A couple of Bespin characters next: the Ugnaught, who is exactly the type of minor character I have to own! He comes with a soft goods apron, presumably to add more value a la cloaked Jawa. And lastly, Lobot – a really cool looking guy who I’d have liked to see get more screen time.
Finally, with this wave, we got an Imperial officer! Named Imperial Commander on the card, this late-to-the party figure would have to double up for every Imperial officer in all three films – including Tarkin (don’t get me started on that thorny issue) – despite the black, not olive outift. So better get as many as you can! I have two; there’s a slight difference you’ll see in the pics below: one has no hair (I assume this is a paint app production error, or some one scraped it off – not a genuine variation).
At this point, the biggest toy around – biggest in size literally, but also in impact and desirability – was the AT-AT. I couldn’t believe that a toy would be made of this huge vehicle. Of course Kenner did, and thus I needed at least one, preferably two AT-AT drivers.
Last from this wave, another cool bounty hunter: Dengar. The first mail away figure I ever sent off for (Palitoy waved it’s proof of purchase nonsense this time), he took months to arrive. As in, literally months. Palitoy were swamped with requests, but one magical day, after ages spent in anticipation, a clean white box with Dengar inside arrived in the post. What a wondrous day that was…
Let’s start the next wave with the droids: C-3PO with Removable Limbs and R2-D2 with sensorscope. I wasn’t really expecting these figures as a kid. C-3PO was kind of cool as he came with a bag you could put him in, on Chewbacca’s back – though Chewie could never stand unassisted with the extra weight. R2’s new feature was interesting, though this version could never take the place of the very first R2 figure, my first and most loved Star Wars figure of all.
Luke in Hoth Outfit was a much needed alternate look, ideal to place on your Tauntaun toy. However, he came packed with that weird gun instead of the obviously more preferable (and accurate) blue lightsaber. The black Bespin Guard was an instant troop builder and a nice early nod to diversity. Twin Pod Cloud Car pilot was definitely a cool design, but he’s less “blink and you’ll miss him” and more “was he even in the film”? This figure was a necessity so someone could pilot the vehicle, I guess. I’ve lost his communicator sadly, this extra accessory was actually a good feature.
To finish the Empire figures, the “bad guys” from this wave. AT-AT Commander (or General Veers, if you knew your SW trivia) was another handy addition to the mighty AT-AT toy. And at last, a TIE Fighter Pilot, so stormtroopers could be relieved of their flying duties. You’ll notice here that the TIE Pilot isn’t holding his gun, I just couldn’t get him to grasp it for longer than two seconds. Interesting side note: my TIE Pilot had a nice fruity smell when I first opened him, which remained for years. Must’ve been the paint – anyone else have the same experience? Unfortunately, that smell has long disappeared now.
The last two bounty hunters shown here were two of my favourite action figures in the line so far: 4-LOM and Zuckuss. Both were really detailed and despite limited screen time, they were amazingly cool. Awesome weapons too – two of the best guns in the entire line. This adherence to showcasing the myriad background characters is exactly what I loved about Star Wars figures: I could scene build and create whole little worlds. “Which is 4-LOM and which is Zuckuss?” you may ask. The answer’s on the card name lozenge, that’s all I’m saying.
There we have it: all of the action figures from The Empire Strikes Back. The line was particularly strong at this time, with improvements in the sculpts and some great character choices, not to mention a masterful piece of cinema inspiring it all. This really was a magical time in mine – and many others’ – childhoods.
I was surprised how many of these figures I could actually remember buying, and from which now long-gone small toy shops around the country I found them (there was no Toys’R’Us in those days). I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief nostalgia trip, maybe we’ll meet again soon for the next chapter…
Leia and Hoth troops
General Veers – prepare you men for ground assault!
1980: by the time the Star Wars sequel was due to appear in the cinema, I was excited and more than ready for it. We’d waited three years, endured numerous playground rumours (“Luke and Darth Vader will have a lightsaber fight!”), but we knew that it wasn’t going to be called “Star Wars 2“.
It was going to be called “The Empire Strikes Back“. I was seven years old and had no idea what that could mean.
I was the first kid in my class to get to see the movie (I’d been the last for the first film, despite being forced to utilise relentless pester power). Of course, Empire was amazing, though not as good as the first: there was no cantina scene or similar. I do remember my Dad whispering to me “Did you just hear what he said?!” after Vader’s revelation. Mind blown! But let’s concentrate on the toys…
Over the previous couple of years, Star Wars toys had to compete with other toy lines for my attention (Action Man, Dinky and Corgi cars, etc etc) – but by 1980, I was pretty much laser focussed on Star Wars figures as my main priority.
Which Empire figure did I pick up first? It may have been Lando, as I thought he was cool and he was a major new character who hadn’t been created in plastic before. My original Lando is pictured, though I replaced the vinyl cape with a repro version recently. Note he’s not the white eyes/teeth version, which I thought I had as a variation somewhere in my collection, but apparently not when I rummaged through for these photos. So that’s one I may track down in the future.
Or maybe Luke was first, in his Bespin Fatigues. This figure is one of my favourites, in an outfit that became his new standard Rebel uniform. This was probably thanks to the great run of Marvel Star Wars comics between Empire and Jedi, where Luke wore it all the time. As a result, this Luke Skywalker went on many missions, though I sadly lost his yellow lightsaber. One to replace.
My sister bought the original Leia figures. This was cool by me as I was bizarrely self conscious of buying a girl figure. Or maybe it was because I figured out that I could still use my sister’s figures, and use my own money to buy a different character (two for the price of one, ha!). My sister didn’t look after her figures as well as I did mine, so I replaced all of her well worn toys with my own when the line came to an end in 1985 and I could pick them up cheap. Here’s my excellent quality Leia in Bespin Gown.
I was never a big fan of the Han Solo (Hoth Outfit) figure, with his hood up he could be anyone. So I didn’t pick that figure up till much later. Cool holster feature though.
Also pictured are the Hoth Rebel Soldier and the first Bespin guard, complete with snazzy moustache.
Boba Fett? I was never a fan, really. Overrated character who did very little in Empire or Jedi. I just never got the cult of Fett. My lack of enthusiasm probably dates back to when he was offered as a mail away. Palitoy required proofs of purchase for several figures, which I obviously didn’t have – so I couldn’t send off for him. So maybe it’s just sour grapes. Eventually, I warmed to Fett, but if i ever hear one more person say how this figure is really rare, I’ll go space loco.
Fett wasn’t technically a part of this wave, he predated it – but here he is anyway for completeness sake. Also pictured are the Snowtrooper (complete with vinyl “skirt”) and two way cooler bounty hunters: IG-88 and Bossk. Both are nicely sculpted figures with loads of details, and cool accessories.
Finally, one figure which I believe was held back from the rest of the first wave to avoid spoilers: Yoda. I picked this guy up as soon as I saw him. He’s tiny, but features some nice accessories to increase value for money. Unfortunately, his gimer stick is long gone and will need to be replaced.
I think that’s enough on this wave (of sorts) for now: this will have to be a two-parter. We’ll reconvene with the rest of the figures from The Empire Strikes Back soon.
Luke carrying Yoda in the backpack from the Survival Kit mail away.
Is this a variation? Hoth Rebel Soldiers with different chest insignia.
Original vs replacement Leia Organa (Bespin Gown), showing turtle neck variation.
Welcome, music lovers! Yes, we’re back at Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub for another leisurely evening of spinning 45 rpm records and drinking a hell of a load of cocktails. It is on, brothers and sisters!
So what’s going down? It’s pretty simple. I have a stack of vinyl singles (hence “Singles Night”) and I’m playin’ ’em in order, side A then B, just for the heck of it. Because it’s fun. And you might just hear some great tunes. No cheating: play each single in the pile, with no skipping (even if it’s a dud).
Here’s the latest playlist. Grab a drink, this is gonna be fun…
Dread Zeppelin – “Stairway to Heaven” / “Jailhouse Rock”
INXS – “Suicide Blonde” / “Everybody Wants U Tonight”
Village People – “In the Navy” / “Manhattan Woman”
Mike Post ft. Larry Carlton – “The Theme from Hill Street Blues” / “Aaron’s Tune”
Sammy Davis Jnr – “What Kind of Fool Am I” / “Gonna Build a Mountain” / “Someone Nice Like You” / “Once in a Lifetime”
Giorgio Moroder w/ Philip Oakey – “Together in Electric Dreams” / “Together in Electric Dreams (Instrumental)”
S’Express – “Superfly Guy” / “Funky Killer”
Sting – “Demolition Man (Soulpower Radio Mix)” / “Demolition Man (Film Version”
Slade – “Far Far Away” / “OK Yesterday Was Yesterday”
Shakatak – “Feels Like the Right Time” / “Corina”
Roy Orbison – “Only the Lonely” / “Here Comes That Song Again”
Earth Wind & Fire – “In the Stone” / “Africano”
Little Eva – “The Loco-Motion” / “He is the Boy”
And were there any duds in this selection? Well, nothing disastrous, though “Hill Street Blues” was a bit of a mood changer.
But just look at the strength of the list over all: some absolute beauties from AC/DC, Free, Rainbow, CCR and double INXS. Plus that Budgie single (which is a really nice 7 inch picture disc, by the way) is totally cool.
Some great pop classics in there, too. Village People and Giorgio Moroder? Floor fillers!
Thanks for joining me for another Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub. Let’s do it again soon. In the meantime, keep your media physical and your drinks cool.
Well, who’d have thought it? Here’s the twelfth instalment of the Brown Acid series from RidingEasy Records, their ongoing exploration of rare, lost and forgotten treasures from the late 60s and early seventies. These proto-metal, hard rock and heavy psych riches are continuing to turn up, thankfully curated and shared with a new, wider audience. They still haven’t run out of steam, which is very good news.
This time, the Professors of Rock (“Prockfessors”, anyone? Nah, never mind) have released ten more crazily good tracks from the past. As can be expected, the bands are deep fried and the guitars are fuzzier than a Macdonalds burger-flipper’s chin.
And so, we commence with “Mother Samwell” by The Waters: a blinding, acid-drenched rocker from 1969. How can this have been lost for so long? Up next is “Vibrations” by Village S.T.O.P.; featuring Hendrix style guitar in another pacey rocker. Though very much of their time, these songs pack a ton of energy – you’re gonna want to freak out. Right out.
“1930” was quite a year, claim White Lightning, with a funky, chunky marauder of a tune that’s like Grand Funk, on the rare occasions GF got it right. Shane serves up some proper skronky organ with “Woman (Don’t You Go)”, reminiscent of a shrieky, early Purple. Then the keyboards get even skronkier with Ace Song Service’s “Persuasion”, though the attack is harsher.
Opus Est really kick out the jams with “Bed”, which has a killer riff that would please Gibbons or Page. The Mopptops have a terrible band name (maybe that’s why they disappeared), but their song “Our Lives” is one of the heavier, more vicious sounding tracks here. It’s a punk rock bruiser that seems totally out of time – surely this can’t be 1968?
A bland band name, but Artist inject their song “Every Lady Does It” with enough hip-shaking Hendrix raunch to raise the roof. Great chorus too; this is faultless. Then it’s more great lo-fi garage ZZ Top with “Comin’ Home” by Stagefright, before we finish with Dickens (great name!) and their weird fuzz metal with minimal production, “Don’t Talk About My Music”.
Whether they’re discovering hidden gems in dusty tombs, or exhuming abandoned corpses and bringing them back to life – pick your metaphor: the RidingEasy Forensics Department have managed to surprise yet again. Their quest seems never ending, but we can be thankful that these dedicated scholars continue to discover hitherto abandoned sonic delights.
It’s harder to pick out gems which shine brighter than the others this time around, but “Brown Acid: the Twelfth Trip” manages to reach a high standard across the board. Very enjoyable, and recommended listening for when Jimi and Janis pop round for some mushroom tea.
For this review of “Salvation, If You Need…”, the second album from UK stoner rock titans 1968, I promise that there will be no messing about, no silly stories, no nonsense whatsoever. I’m not even drinking. Rather, I will endeavour to write a serious review that treats this album with the respect it deserves. Not enough respect to get the article written on schedule, mind; but hey – I never said I was perfect.
Anyone familiar with 1968 from their previous efforts will not be disappointed to learn that the band’s strengths are in full flow here. Thankfully, they’ve also pushed boundaries and explored their psychedelic tendencies further than ever before. Witness opening track “Railroad Boogie”, which teases a funky Blaxploitation groove before unleashing the glorious big riff sound that we expect.
Comparing 1968 to Kyuss is far too obvious and lazy. Jimi Ray’s voice has some of that gruff John Garcia sound (with a little later-period TSOL vocalist Joe Wood), though his vocals have matured to a sincere, soulful timbre. See also, guitarist Sam Orr: schooled in Sabbath riffology and Lizzy attitude, here his Hendrix aspirations are allowed to fly unrestrained. Magnificent washes of sound cascade and add colour everywhere, without being obtrusive.
“Blackwing” is the highlight for me: a refrain that’ll slip into your ears and lodge there. It’s pointless trying to remove it. Whether happy accident or hard slog, this is an epic riff. “Eastern Wind” follows a similar path, but offers enough of its own controlled chaos to stand on its own two feet.
Tom Richards’ bass warms up “Here It Lies” and expertly keeps the vibe dialled on a grungy, early Soundgarden pace. The raw, unrefined blues of “Small Victories” and “God Bless” also allow drummer Dan Amati to show he can play refined and delicate, as well as thundering and determined.
Yes, 1968 are undoubtedly still inspired by the classic rock of the late 60s/early 70’s, but we’re also drinking beers in Satan’s Dive Bar, somewhere in Seattle, with a jukebox that’s stuck on Badmotorfinger. And some Budgie, too, based on the solid cover of that band’s “Guts” that shows up here.
Look, I’ve tried to be serious for once, and I hope you appreciate it, reader. “Salvation, If You Need…” is a truly magnificent piece of work. I’ve been playing it for ages and it hasn’t aged. I’m still discovering little delights everywhere. It has scale and pace that other bands don’t dare trifle with. A contender for Album of the Year, so long as I can get hold of the imminent vinyl release.
Now, who wants to hear about the time Ozzy, Belinda Carlisle and me gate-crashed Venom’s Satanic picnic?
OK, here we go! The clue’s in the title, folks – you can probably figure out where we’re headed with a band called Lugosi straight off the (vampire) bat. If not, let me give you some pointers…
To get to Lugosi’s haunted house, depart from the Ramones’ basement, travel up Misfits Avenue, take a left at Danzig Drive, head on past Lemmy’s Bar’n’Grill till you get to 1313 Mockingbird Lane. And you’ve arrived: horror themed punk’n’roll with fast’n’furious tunes and daft lyrics about dodgy old horror and sci-fi movies. In other words, exactly the kind of goth rock Halloween shindig that your ol’ Uncle Al loves to crash.
Let’s get the devil-locked elephant in the room dealt with first: ‘cos there’s going to be a Misfits reference in nearly every sentence I write of this review! To be fair, although there’s an undoubted Misfits influence in Lugosi’s work, it’s more in the lyrical content: songs about vampires, Dawn of the Dead and devil worship are aplenty, but in a tongue in cheek, Hammer horror style rather than any serious Satanic pretence. This is music made by fans of cheesy, campy horror classics for other fans of the same.
The music itself has less of the big “WOAH” Danzig choruses and a more Motorhead inspired punk’n’roll sound, like Supersuckers or Zeke. There’s even a really cool instrumental in the middle of “They Came from Outer Space” that has an Iron Maiden feel. The riffs not too far from Clutch, and – is that a Thin Lizzy influence? Well, I was surprised to learn that Lugosi are from Dublin – I imagined they were from a remote cabin in the Texas backwoods somewhere…
“Late Night Slasher Movie” starts things off perfectly, in the speedy rockin’ style I mentioned, with hilarious lyrics! “We’re Here to Drink Blood” is one of the punkier paced, Ramones tracks – and it’s catchier than a zombie plague. Then there’s “Soylent Green”, which reminds me of Jerry Only era Misfits (this is a good thing). A heavier, Sabbath feel rocks right out of the grave on “The Vampyre” and “Hellfire Club”. There’s an almost doom sound to “1313”, augmented by high-pitched, theremin like weirdness. I think you get the idea.
“Video Nasty” is a great album, thoroughly enjoyable in many ways: a successful Frankenstein bolting together of B-movies, punk and heavy metal – ideal for your next gathering on All Hallows Eve. Kitsch, ridiculous, over the top – and FUN. Lugosi have really reanimated the corpse of horror punk, and – it’s alive!!!
Yes, that’s right: it’s time for another Singles Night! This is no crappy Channel 4 dating show featuring halfwit Instagram influencers, no sir. The type of single we’re talking about here is the vinyl kind – 45 rpm records, beautiful black plastic discs. Seven inches of pure joy!
For the newcomers, I have a pile of unplayed vinyl singles, which I listen to consecutively (A side, then B side). Accompanied by a few drinkies, it’s a most excellent evening of entertainment.
Here’s the latest playlist, featuring some total bangers:
AC/DC – “Touch Too Much” / “Live Wire” / “Shot Down in Flames”
Judas Priest – “Evening Star” / “Beyond the Realms of Death”
Hollywood Beyond – “South Africa” / “The Cocteau Twins – “Orange Appled” / The Fall – “Lucifer Over Lancashire” / Zodiac Mindwarp & The Love Reaction – “High Priest of Love”
Pretenders – “Brass in Pocket” / “Swinging London” / “Nervous But Shy”
Billy Idol – “Rebel Yell” / “(Do Not) Stand in the Shadows”
Television – “Prove It” / “Venus”
Def Leppard – “Rocket” / “Release Me”
U2 – “The Unforgettable Fire” / “A Sort of Homecoming”
Pet Shop Boys – “Always On My Mind” / “Do I Have to?”
A Flock of Seagulls – “Wishing (I Had a Photograph of You)” / “Committed”
Frankie Goes to Hollywood – “Relax” / “One September Monday”
Big Country – “Chance” / “The Tracks of My Tears”
Duran Duran – “Wild Boys” / “(I’m Looking for) Cracks in the Pavement (1984)”
GB Band – “Smasheroo” / “Long Distance Calling”
Petula Clark – “Downtown” / “You’d Better Love Me”
Paula Abdul – “Straight Up” / “Straight Up Power Mix”
Slade – “All Join Hands” / “Here’s to…”
Foreigner – “Say You Will” / “A Night to Remeber”
Chuck Berry – “Reelin’ and Rockin'” / “I Will Not Let You Go”
Whoa, a lot of EPs and mulitple B sides, there!
There you go: another twenty top quality tunes that I enjoyed rocking out to in the Virtual Hot Tub. Well, except maybe Foreigner. But at least Chuck Berry saved the day!
That playlist spans the years and the genres, with some of my favourite artists like AC/DC, Billy Idol and Zodiac Mindwarp rubbing shoulders with pop legends and underground classics. Which ones are you a fan of?
See you soon for another Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub!
A slow build of distortion, punctuated by air raid sirens, heralds the onslaught of “Bellweather”, the first track on the latest Spelljammer opus. These guys are in no rush. Instead, the listener sinks slowly into the mire, as first guitars and bass, then drums, stealthily enter. Over the course of six plus minutes, the track builds beautifully, setting the style for the album to follow.
Spelljammer are from Stockholm, Sweden – and comprise Niklas Olsson (bass and vocals); Robert Sörling (guitar) and Jonatan Rimsbo (drums). It’s been five long years since their last album, but now they’re back with a huge, ponderous collection of sludgy, doom laden music.
Second track, “Lake”, follows the hypnotic incline of the opener with a brutal riff and throaty vocals, before descending into a medium paced headbanger. This track nicely encapsulates the contrasts between heavy, thunderous ferociousness and trancelike wonderment.
The band composed these songs in the seclusion of a remote house in the country. The various shifting sections of the songs obviously reflect that concentrated effort, with a perfect ebb and flow. Sections wind intricately between the monstrous and the calm.
“Among the Holy” starts with a creeping pace before erupting into the album’s biggest rocker. The title track opens with a sample from some obscure horror movie, and I need to know which! After that, it’s crawling doom which picks up speed a little in a Sabbathy manner – complete with distorted vocals.
Talking of Sabbath, “Peregrin” feels like one of those Tony Iommi instrumentals on “Master of Reality”. It’s actually quite wonderful. Finally, “Silent Rift” is over ten minutes of all that’s gone before, ramped up even higher. The pace is slow, there’s no haste, Spelljammer take their time and let the music grow and breathe.
The listener will also need to take their time and truly absorb this album. Stick on your ear goggles, turn the lights down low and bask in the inventiveness. “Abyssal Trip” is a record that’s been carefully composed and nurtured. The enjoyment here is in the journey and all its interwoven elements.
As we’re talking of jam, I’m reminded of an episode with my old Black Sabbath mates. We were at legendary Rockfield studios in Wales, and following a late night in the studio and an even later nights boozing, the band were relaxing on the lawns on a gorgeous summer day. Bill fell asleep on the grass, and Ozzy decided to take the remains of the strawberry jam from breakfast and smear it all over Bill’s beard. Sure enough, ten minutes later, Bill woke with a scream – brushing wasps from his face. He jumped up and ran to a nearby pond, jumping in face first. When he emerged, Bill looked like a Sasquatch. He spent days rubbing ointment on his face and was finding dead insects in his beard for ages.