Randy Holden – Population II Album Review

Randy Holden – Population II

Riding Easy Records

Release date: 28/02/2020

Running time: 32 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

8.5/10

 

First of all, an important note for all readers: Randy Holden is NOT the name of a winning hand in strip poker.  I used the phrase at a recent gathering at my Rock’n’Roll Naturist Society club, and nearly got a bunch of fives from Ozzy as a thank you.  Tommy Lee was up for it though, as you can probably imagine.

Anyway, Randy Holden is actually a guitar pioneer who served some time with proto-metal giants Blue Cheer, before splitting to take the helm of his own project.  Population II was the result – a far ahead of it’s time Big Bang of doom and sludge metal.

Originally receiving a limited release in 1969, this album has earned cult status with afficionados of early heavy rock.  And it’s no surprise why; “Population II” is a huge sounding, riff driven behemoth that sounds like it simply can’t have been created in that time period.

But it was.  The era that popular culture tells us was the age of peace and love also birthed this unholy slab of heavy noise.  Randy Holden, like his previous bandmates in Blue Cheer, was happily stomping all over flower power.

Of course, “Population II” is totally over the top.  “Guitar Song” is the first track, featuring the somewhat unimaginative opening line “I love the sound of a guitar playing” – so no marks for lyrical finesse.  If you’re after poetry, this probably ain’t for you.  Instead it’s six minutes of slow, heavy driving riff-based rock that sets the tone for the album.

 “Fruit Icebergs” is an outstanding name for any song; in fact, I might steal it for a band name.  Slow like cooling lava, with a doom-laden melancholic sound –  It’s dark in a Sabbath way.  Whereas the shorter “Between Time” picks up the pace a little and borrows a chorus from “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”.

“Blue My Mind” is less gloomy, but certainly taps into the blues with a hint of Hendrix.  The final song, “Keeper of my Flame” is over 10 minutes of pulsating, repetitive riff wrestling that doesn’t out stay it’s welcome.  Ol’ Randy stretches for the epic here and pretty much nails it, strangling that guitar and taking the listener on a heroic journey.

Yet another history lesson for which we can thank the scholars at Riding Easy Records, Randy Holden’s “Population II” is back in circulation and worth taking time to investigate.  You’ll wonder how this was lost for so long.

Visit Riding Easy records on the interweb here.

Or on Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.

Don’t forget to visit Ever Metal – where this review first appeared  for all your rock and metal news.

Brown Acid: the Ninth Trip – Album Review

Various Artists – Brown Acid: The Ninth Trip

Riding Easy Records

Release date: 31/10/2019

Running time: 36 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

7.5/10 

Archaeologists of rock from Riding Easy Records have once again delved into the depths of the forgotten to present this, the ninth instalment of their “Brown Acid” series.  They have unearthed yet more obscure gems from the past, in order to entertain and enlighten those obsessives who love to investigate the DNA of rock.

Call it heavy rock, proto metal, garage rock – whatever, these Brown Acid compilations offer a wealth of hard to find material.

The songs may be long lost relics, but they sure ain’t amateur.  In fact, it’s surprising how well they’ve cleaned up – and how well produced some of them were in the first place.  Take the first track, White Lightning’s “Prelude to Opus IV”, which is surprisingly grand and opulent.

I won’t play favourites, but Peacepipe’s “The Sun Won’t Shine Forever” has an almost Stooges like sound, filtered through Californian psychedelia.  Magi’s “Win or Lose” sounds like Grand Funk playing an MC5 song, while Stonewall’s “Outer Spaced” holds the most outrageous riff of the set, with perhaps a touch of Hendrix.

Elsewhere, the fantastically named Fibreglass Vegetables offer up a more laid back, groovy but still heavy song with “Pain”.  “Rebel Woman” by Erik (a simpler name, but that’s cool) is another superb rocker that demonstrates some real song writing and arranging talent.

Not as bluesy as Zeppelin or as heavy as Sabbath, the songs on offer are a fine example of rock’n’roll of the time.  It doesn’t take much to imagine the guys from Fu Manchu listening to these pre-stoner rock goodies, sat in their van waiting for the cry of “surf’s up”.

This 9th edition of the Brown Acid compilation offers retro quality, never kitsch or silly, with tons of infectious music.  It’s easy to wonder why some of these bands never became more famous.  At least Riding Easy have done the hard work for us, dusting off the artefacts and preserving them for all to enjoy.

Track list:

  1. White Lightning – “Prelude to Opus IV”
  2. Peacepipe – “The Sun Won’t Shine Forever”
  3. Magi – “Win or Lose”
  4. Fibreglass Vegetables – “Pain”
  5. Erik – “Rebel Woman”
  6. Stonewall – “Outer Spaced”
  7. Ice – “Running High”
  8. Spacerock – “Going Down the Road”
  9. Buckshot – “Barstar”
  10. 9 – “Paradiddle Blues”

Visit Riding Easy records on the interweb here, they also have a Bandcamp page.

You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

And don’t forget to check out Ever Metal, which is where this review originally appeared.

Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub #15

Hey folks!  How’s isolation going?  These are strange times indeed.  I hope all of you are safe and well.

I don’t know about you, but spinning wax is a great way to spend a long evening whilst in lockdown.  As regular readers will know, I often play through my stack of recently acquired 7 inch vinyl as a way to unwind.  With a few wee drinkie-poohs, of course.

What happens with Singles Night is this: I have a pile of records, all 7″ singles, that I haven’t played yet.  I play them all in order, A side then B side.  Then I list them here, in case anyone out there is as sad as me and thinks that lists like this are fascinating.

Here we go with the latest batch:

  1. Jane’s Addiction – “Been Caught Stealing” / “Had a Dad (Demo)”
  2. Boney M – “Ma Baker” / “Still I’m Sad”
  3. Madness – “The Return of the Las Palmas 7” / “That’s the Way to do it”
  4. Bon Jovi – “Livin’ on a Prayer” / “Wild in the Streets”
  5. Rainbow – “Since You Been Gone” / “Bad Girl”
  6. The Zombies – “She’s Not There” / “You Make Me Feel Good”
  7. Ace Frehley – “New York Groove” / “Snow Blind”
  8. Slade – “Mama Weer All Crazee Now” / “Man Who Speaks Evil”
  9. Pink Floyd – “Another Brick in the Wall Part II” / “One of My Turns”
  10. AC/DC – “Whole Lotta Rosie” / “Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to be”
  11. Toyah – “Be Proud Be Loud (Be Heard)” / “Laughing with the Fools”
  12. Thin Lizzy – “China Town (Live)” / “Got to Give it up (Live)”
  13. The Stranglers – “Thrown Away” / “Top Secret”
  14. U2 – “All I Want is You” / “Unchained Melody”
  15. Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Commotion” / “Green River”
  16. The Sweet – “Wig-Wam Bam” / “New York Connection”
  17. The Flying Lizards – “Money” / “Money B”
  18. The Beatles – “We Can Work it Out” / “Day Tripper”
  19. Generation X – “Your Generation” / “Day by Day”
  20. Ash – “Angel Interceptor” / “Eternal” / “Give Me Some Truth”
  21. Marc Bolan & T-Rex – “Teenage Dream” / “Satisfaction Pony”

Well that was one of the best – and rockingest – Singles Nights ever.  I doubt we’ll see that amount of awesome rock again in a hurry.  Don’t forget, readers – I don’t choose the songs to play, it’s just whatever’s next in the pile.

Jane’s Addiction are one of my favourite bands ever.  Plus there were classic tracks from Rainbow, AC/DC, Pink Floyd and Thin Lizzy.  My favourite U2 song and one of my favourite Beatles songs.  Some punk, some new wave, and a more recent tune from Ash.

A special mention to Slade’s “Mama Weer All Crazee Now”, which was UK Number 1 when I was born.

A great selection.  I’ll see you soon for another Singles Night!

Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub #14

And lo, it was time for another Singles Night at Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub.  Join me yet again, as I play through my stack of freshly acquired 7″ vinyl singles – A side then B side – on a musical odyssey that will thrill and amaze.

You may want a few drinks as well.

Here’s the playlist this time:

  1. Elvis Presley – “Love Me Tender” / “Anyway You Want Me (That’s How I Will Be)”
  2. Small Faces – “Lazy Sunday” / “Rollin’ Over”
  3. Boney M – “Painter Man” / “He Was a Steppenwolf”
  4. Beastie Boys – “She’s On It” / “Slow and Low”
  5. Zodiac Mindwarp & The Love Reaction – “Backseat Education” / “Whore of Babylon”
  6. Madness – “Baggy Trousers” / “The Business”
  7. The Osmonds – “Crazy Horses” / “That’s My Girl”
  8. Ian Dury & The Blockheads – “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick” / “There Ain’t Half Been Some Clever Bastards”
  9. The Jam – “When You’re Young” / “Smithers-Jones”
  10. Kim Carnes – “Bette Davis Eyes” / “Miss You Tonite”
  11. Toyah – “Brave New World” / “Warrior Rock”
  12. The Who – “You Better You Bet” / “The Quiet One”
  13. Suzi Quatro – “The Wild One” / “Shake My Sugar”
  14. Madness – “Night Boat to Cairo” / “Deceives the Eye” / “The Young and the Old” / “Don’t Quote Me On That”
  15. Bon Jovi – “You Give Love a Bad Name” / “Let It Rock”
  16. Freddie Mercury – “Love Kills” / Giorgio Moroder – “Rotwang’s Party (Robot Dance)”
  17. Siouxsie & The Banshees – “Dear Prudence” / “Tattoo”
  18. The Kinks – “Good Day” / “Too Hot”
  19. Bob Marley & The Wailers – “No Woman, No Cry” / “Kinky Reggae”
  20. Dexy’s Midnight Runners – “Geno” / “Breakin’ Down the Walls of Heartache”
  21. Toy Dolls – “Nellie the Elephant” / “Fisticuffs in Frederick Street”
  22. Rainbow – “All Night Long” / “Weiss Heim”
  23. The Motors – “Forget About You” / “Picturama”
  24. Angelic Upstarts – “Never ‘Ad Nothin'” / “Nowhere Left to Hide”

Wow.  That was a spectacular evening’s music.  Just look at the quality tunes in that list!  I think the Zodiac Mindwarp track was my favourite, but there are loads of legendary artists and great songs there.

Don’t laugh at the Osmonds track – that song is amazing.  I’m more embarrassed about the Bon Jovi number – but what the hell, it was fun.

And Nellie the Elephant by Toy Dolls was just superb – took me right back to my childhood, the day after hearing that song on Top of the Pops.  A school playground classic, along with “Baggy Trousers”.

All of the records are in a random order, so there’s no guessing what might appear next in the queue.  But that turned out to be one of the best nights of music listening in a long while, with a wide variety of genres represented.

Back soon with more…

Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub #13

Unlucky for some, eh?  Well, this thirteenth edition of Singles Night was far from unlucky for me – I had a great night.

It’s been a while since I’ve thrilled you with a blog like this.  So what is Singles Night, exactly?  Well, I’ll tell you: it’s basically me playing through a stack of 7 inch vinyl singles in the order they’re stacked in.  Like a jukebox, but not as good.

The quality of these discs can vary dramatically.  Some are classics I’ve spent a couple of quid on.  Some are charity shop finds, or even donations given to me.  As such they can range from the unfathomably cool to the stinkiest of cheese.

It’s always good fun though.  So take a dip in the Virtual Hot Tub with me, and enjoy a playlist unlike any other…

  1. The Donnas – “Who Invited You” / “Mama’s Boy”
  2. Windsor Davies & Don Estelle – “Whispering Grass” / “I Should Have Known”
  3. Elvis Presley – “(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear” / “”Loving You”
  4. Chas’n’Dave – “Stars Over 45” / “Harem”
  5. Neil Diamond – “Be Mine Tonight” / “Right By You”
  6. Depeche Mode – “Get the Balance Right” / “The Great Outdoors”
  7. Small Faces – “Sha-La-La-La-Lee” / “Grow Your Own”
  8. Right Said Fred – “Don’t Talk Just Kiss” / “Don’t Talk Just Kiss (Instrumental)”
  9. Bad Manners – “Lip Up Fatty” / “Night Bus to Dalston”
  10. Cyndi Lauper – “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” / “Right Track Wrong Train”
  11. Feargal Sharkey – “A Good Heart” / “Anger is Holy”
  12. Bruce Willis – “Under the Boardwalk” / “Jackpot (Bruno’s Bop)”
  13. Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 –  “The Fool on the Hill” / “With a Little Help From My Friends”
  14. Pat Benatar – “Love is a Battlefield” / “Here’s My Heart”
  15. Gloria Gaynor – “I Will Survive” / “Anybody Wanna Party?”
  16. Kenny Rogers & The First Edition – “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town” / “Girl Get a Hold of Yourself”
  17. Showaddywaddy – “Blue Moon” / “I Think I’m Really Going Out of My Mind”
  18. REO Speedwagon – “Keep On Loving You” / “Follow My Heart”
  19. Salt-N-Pepa – “Do You Want Me (Remix)” / “Do You Want Me (Original)”
  20. Carl Douglas – “Kung Fu Fighting” / “Gamblin’ Man”
  21. Judas Priest – “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin'” / “Exciter (Live Version)”
  22. Elvis Costello & The Attractions – “Sweet Dreams” / “Psycho”
  23. Iron Maiden – “Flight of Icarus” / “I’ve Got the Fire”
  24. Motorhead – “Bomber” / “Over the Top”
  25. Village People – “Y.M.C.A.” / “The Women”

My favourite of all of those records is the Donnas single – just awesome rock’n’roll.  They’re a great band, I just wish I had the album on vinyl.

Other classics from Motorhead (one of their best singles, with a beauty on the B-side); Judas Priest at their best; great Small Faces and one of the greatest singles of all time – “Kung Fu Fighting”.  If I remember, I was actually up on my feet at that point, doing a few martial arts inspired moves.  I’d been drinking, after all.

There’s a fair spread of cheese in that lot too, though you can’t go wrong with “Y.M.C.A.”, “I Will Survive” and “A Good Heart”.  Not to mention one of my childhood favourites, “Whispering Grass”.  Enjoyable songs all.

The one real stinker of the bunch was the Bruce Willis tune.  I remember liking that as a kid, ‘cos I was a fan of Moonlighting.  Listening to it again – with its terrible 80’s production and Bruce’s “adequate” voice ruining a soul classic – it’s less Die Hard than Die of Embarrassment.

Till next time!

Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub #12

The pile of 7″ singles in my music room continues to grow.  They arrive from all manner of sources, in various conditions, and wait patiently for me to spin them.  It’s a never ending task – like that old cliche, painting the Forth Bridge.

But it’s fun – making my way through the collection of random vinyl goodies; having a few drinks and enjoying the music.

I play both sides, A then B, and then move onto the next single in the pile.  All manner of tunes could be heard, from the classic to cheesy nonsense.

Here’s the latest batch:

  1. The Fatback Band – “(Are You Ready) Do the Bus Stop” / “Gotta Learn How to Dance”
  2. Earth, Wind & Fire – “That’s the Way of the World” / “Africano”
  3. Tom Jones – “Letter to Lucille” / “Thank the Lord”
  4. Belinda Carlisle – “Little Black Book” / “Only a Dream”
  5. Betty Boo – “24 Hours” / “24 Hours (Instrumental)”
  6. Jan Hammer – “Miami Vice Theme” / “Miami Vice Theme (TV Version)” / “Miami Vice Theme (12″ Edit)”
  7. Survivor – “Burning Heart” / “Feels Like Love”
  8. The Kinks – “All Day and All of the Night” / “You Really Got Me”
  9. Roxy Music – “All I Want is You” / “Your Application’s Failed”
  10. Owen Paul – “My Favourite Waste of Time” / “Just Another Day”
  11. The Simpsons – “Do the Bartman (7″ House Mix/Edit)” / “Do the Bartman (LP Edit)”
  12. Edelweiss – “Bring Me Edelweiss” / “Kitz-Stein-Horn”
  13. Roy Orbison – “You Got It” / “The Only One”
  14. The Lovin’ Spoonful – “Summer in the City” / “Bald Headed Lena”
  15. Elton John – “Song for Guy” / “Blue Eyes”
  16. Ohio Players – “Fire” / “Together”
  17. Kool & The Gang – “Cherish” / “Celebration”
  18. Diana Ross – “I’m Still Waiting” / “Touch Me in the Morning”
  19. The Real Thing – “You to Me Are Everything” / “Keep An Eye (On Your Best Friend)”
  20. David Soul – “Don’t Give Up On Us” / “Black Bean Soup”
  21. Kelly Marie – “Feels Like I’m in Love” / “Shattered Glass”
  22. Dusty Springfield – “I Just Don’t Know What to do with Myself” / “My Colouring Book”

I really enjoyed that Singles Night session.  There were a fair few out standing funky numbers, as well as songs by my favourite pop babes ever, Belinda and Betty.  Lovely.

Plus – how great is that Kinks single?  An all time classic couple of tracks – and a great record for my collection.  Along with a few other legendary rock tunes, this was a great evening of music.

Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub #11

It’s time for another night of spinning wax and drinking booze, as we endure another Singles Night at Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub!

This is all about playing through a never ending pile of old 45 rpm vinyl singles, and making the best of it.  Some of these songs are bona fide classics, some are far from it.

The only rules are: play whatever’s in the pile, in order, A side then B side.  No skipping records – however much you may want to.

Here we go:

  1. Elvis Presley – “Are You Lonesome Tonight” / “I Gotta Know”
  2. Frank Sinatra – “Love’s Been Good To Me” / “A Man Alone”
  3. Marcello Minerbi – “Zorba’s Dance” / “L’Isola Del Sole”
  4. Tom Jones – “Without Love” / “A Man Who Know Too Much”
  5. Chas & Dave – “Rabbit” / “Sideboard Song”
  6. Louis Armstrong – “What a Wonderful World” / “Cabaret”
  7. Bobby Goldsboro – “Honey” / “Danny”
  8. Wonder Dog – “Ruff Mix” / “Living on a Farm”
  9. The Four Tops – “Back to School Again” / The Cast – “Rock-a-Hula-Luau (Summer is Coming)”
  10. Right Said Fred (+others) – “Stick It Out” / “Stick It Out (Aerobic Mix)”
  11. Procul Harum – “A Whiter Shade of Pale” / “Lime Street Blues”
  12. Neil Diamond – “Rainy Day Song” / “Be Mine Tonight”
  13. Spitting Image – “The Chicken Song” / “(I’ve Never Met) A Nice South African”
  14. Carpenters – “Yesterday Once More” / “Road Ode”
  15. Bonnie Tyler – “Holding Out For a Hero” / “Faster Than the Speed of Night”
  16. Boney M – “Ma Baker” / “Still I’m Sad”
  17. The Kinks – “Come Dancing” / “Noise”
  18. Haysi Fantyzee – “John Wayne is Big Leggy” / “The Sabres of Paradise”
  19. Depeche Mode – “People Are People” / “In Your Memory”
  20. Roxy Music – “Avalon” / “Always Unknowing”
  21. The Jam – “Just Who is the 5 O’Clock Hero” / The Great Depression”
  22. Blondie – “Dreaming” / “Sound Asleep”
  23. U2 – “Angel of Harlem” / “A Room at the Heartbreak Hotel”
  24. The Vanilla Fudge – “You Keep Me Hanging On” / “Take Me For a Little While”
  25. Robert Palmer – “Addicted to Love” / “Remember to Remember”
  26. Canned Heat – “Let’s Work Together” / “I’m Her Man”

A real eclectic selection this time, with not much of preferred rock till the end of the session.  Still some great fun songs, a few novelty hits and some easy listening master pieces there.  In my defence this time, a few of those records were given to me (and I’m stupid enough to take them).

If you’re wondering what Wonder Dog is, it’s basically a pop/disco number with a dog barking the melody.  It’s actually not as bad as it seems.

And I quite enjoyed the Four Tops song – I’ve only just found out that it’s from the film “Grease 2”, which is apparently a disaster.  As the first “Grease” film is garbage,  the sequel must be really bad.

Brown Acid: The Eighth Trip – Album Review

Various Artists – Brown Acid: The Eighth Trip

Riding Easy Records

Release date: 20/04/2019

Running time: 29 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

7/10

 

Back in ’68, I believe it was, though a lot of my memory remains hazy.  It was a small London jazz club, in Chelsea I think, and Hendrix spontaneously got up to jam.  Moon was on drums, John Paul Jones picked up the bass, and Clapton and Pagey jumped up to run through a few blues numbers.  I was in the audience, somewhat refreshed, with a quality geezer who worked as a roadie for Hendrix.  His name was Ian, though everyone called him “Lemmy”.

Anyway, I might have overindulged in something or other, but it was a fantastic night.  I mean, musicians of that calibre sharing the same stage!  Incredible.  Until, that was, Jagger decided he wanted to join in on vocals.  Brian Jones decided to bring his bandmate down a peg or two, and lobbed a huge quiche at old rubber lips.  Bosh, hit him straight in the mush.  Jagger was not happy.  The next thing you know, Moon chucks his sticks at Mickey Dolenz and all hell breaks loose.

There was cake and vol-au-vents everywhere.  It took me days to clean the sausage rolls out of Pagey’s pick-ups.  But that was the sixties, you know?  All good fun.

Brown Acid: The Eighth Trip does a great job of bringing back the vibes from that time.  Compiled by Riding Easy Records, it consists of ten rare shots of proto-metal and stoner rock from the late 60s and early seventies.  These tracks are so long lost, whoever raided the tombs they were in probably received an ancient curse for disturbing them.

The songs on offer aren’t really of the sheer riff heavy variety that Black Sabbath would perfect, but if you’re interested in hearing how rock’n’roll was deep fried in LSD and pushed to the limit, there are some fine nuggets here.

The first track, “School Daze” by Attack!, has a real MC5 hell-for-leather rock’n’roll feel.  That greasy, take-no-prisoners Detroit approach serves them well.  Up next is White Rock with “Please Don’t Run Away”, a glorious fuzzed out, scuzzy rocker.  The brilliantly named Luke and the Apostles give us “Not Far Off”, featuring fabulous throaty vocals over a dynamite slab of blues rock.

There’s plenty more psychedelic, acid drenched fare that will resonate with fans of Hendrix, Cream, Mountain and even early Alice Cooper.  “I Need My Music” by the Tourists is another highlight, along with Moloch’s “Cocaine Katy”.  There’s a reassuring low-fi sound to the whole thing, with occasional faint vinyl crackles even, that gives the enterprise some charm.

Of the two covers on offer here, Inside Experience’s “Tales of Brave Ulysses” is fine but doesn’t challenge the original.  On the other hand, the wonderfully named Grump take the King’s “Heartbreak Hotel” out on a glorious, whiskey fuelled Leo Sayer and don’t hand it back till it’s puked it’s kebab up in the back of the taxi.

The tracks compiled for Brown Acid: The Eighth Trip may not change your life, but there’s plenty to enjoy.  If you’re not already a fan of rock music from this period, then think of this as a history lesson and indulge yourself.  Just be careful what you indulge yourself in, eh?

Right then, gin and tonic, anyone?

Track List

  1. Attack! – “School Daze”
  2. White Rock – “Please Don’t Run Away”
  3. River Side – “Wayfarer”
  4. Luke and the Apostles – “Not Far Off”
  5. Tourists – “I Need My Music”
  6. Bartos Brothers Band – “Gambler”
  7. Inside Experience – “Tales of Brave Ulysses”
  8. Karma – “New Mexico”
  9. Moloch – “Cocaine Katy”
  10. Grump – “Heartbreak Hotel”

 

https://www.ridingeasyrecs.com/

https://ridingeasyrecords.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/ridingeasyrecords

https://twitter.com/EasyRiderRecord

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfcKvfj8ei5GD2YVtLYhaoQ

https://www.instagram.com/easyriderrecord/