Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub #26

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…

  1. Dread Zeppelin – “Stairway to Heaven” / “Jailhouse Rock”
  2. INXS – “Suicide Blonde” / “Everybody Wants U Tonight”
  3. Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Bad Moon Rising” / “Lodi”
  4. Rainbow – “All Night Long” / “Weiss Heim”
  5. AC/DC – “Heatseeker” / “Go Zone”
  6. INXS – “New Sensation” / “Do Wot You Do”
  7. Budgie – “Keeping a Rendezvous” / “Apparatus”
  8. Eagles – “New Kid in Town” / “Victim of Love”
  9. Free – “My Brother Jake” / Only My Soul”
  10. Village People – “In the Navy” / “Manhattan Woman”
  11. Mike Post ft. Larry Carlton – “The Theme from Hill Street Blues” / “Aaron’s Tune”
  12. Sammy Davis Jnr – “What Kind of Fool Am I” / “Gonna Build a Mountain” / “Someone Nice Like You” / “Once in a Lifetime”
  13. Giorgio Moroder w/ Philip Oakey – “Together in Electric Dreams” / “Together in Electric Dreams (Instrumental)”
  14. S’Express – “Superfly Guy” / “Funky Killer”
  15. Sting – “Demolition Man (Soulpower Radio Mix)” / “Demolition Man (Film Version”
  16. Slade – “Far Far Away” / “OK Yesterday Was Yesterday”
  17. Shakatak – “Feels Like the Right Time” / “Corina”
  18. Roy Orbison – “Only the Lonely” / “Here Comes That Song Again”
  19. Earth Wind & Fire – “In the Stone” / “Africano”
  20. 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.

Singles Night at the Virtual Hot tub #25

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:

  1. AC/DC – “Touch Too Much” / “Live Wire” / “Shot Down in Flames”
  2. The Piranhas – “Tom Hark” / “Getting Beaten Up” / “Boyfriend”
  3. Judas Priest – “Evening Star” / “Beyond the Realms of Death”
  4. Hollywood Beyond – “South Africa” / “The Cocteau Twins – “Orange Appled” / The Fall – “Lucifer Over Lancashire” / Zodiac Mindwarp & The Love Reaction – “High Priest of Love”
  5. Pretenders – “Brass in Pocket” / “Swinging London” / “Nervous But Shy”
  6. Billy Idol – “Rebel Yell” / “(Do Not) Stand in the Shadows”
  7. Television – “Prove It” / “Venus”
  8. Def Leppard – “Rocket” / “Release Me”
  9. U2 – “The Unforgettable Fire” / “A Sort of Homecoming”
  10. Pet Shop Boys – “Always On My Mind” / “Do I Have to?”
  11. A Flock of Seagulls – “Wishing (I Had a Photograph of You)” / “Committed”
  12. Frankie Goes to Hollywood – “Relax” / “One September Monday”
  13. Big Country – “Chance” / “The Tracks of My Tears”
  14. Duran Duran – “Wild Boys” / “(I’m Looking for) Cracks in the Pavement (1984)”
  15. GB Band – “Smasheroo” / “Long Distance Calling”
  16. Petula Clark – “Downtown” / “You’d Better Love Me”
  17. Paula Abdul – “Straight Up” / “Straight Up Power Mix”
  18. Slade – “All Join Hands” / “Here’s to…”
  19. Foreigner – “Say You Will” / “A Night to Remeber”
  20. 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!

EMQs with… Platinum Al

Last year, in the depths of lockdown and with no live entertainment to review, the glorious website that is Ever Metal was kind enough to open up their Ever Metal Questions series to the reviewers. As an EM contributor I was finally able to fulfil a lifelong ambition – and satisfy my enormous ego – by being interviewed for the site.

The questions were pretty much what we ask musicians, only I had the privilege of answering them myself. And now, in a move that confirms that I really have no shame, I proudly re-present the same interview here, at the Virtual Hot Tub. Well, it is my birthday this month…

Enjoy!

What is your name, what do you do, and can you tell us a little bit about how you ended up doing it?

My name’s Alun, AKA Platinum Al.  I write some reviews for Ever Metal, which came about through meeting Rick and Beth at Pentre Fest a while back.  “I can write!” I lied, and they’ve been too kind to bin me off ever since.

What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?

North Wales in the UK.  We seem to be a bit out in the wilderness to the outsider, but thankfully there are a few venues that put good bands on in Chester and Wrexham (both nearby) and of course, the good old Tivoli in Buckley (just up the road).  Liverpool and Manchester are both accessible.  The big win for us though is Pentre Fest – and all the other events that North East Wales Metal Productions put on.  It’s introduced me to loads of new music and it’s right on my doorstep. 

What is your favourite latest release? (Album, EP, Single, Video)

Desert Storm’s “Omens” on APF Records is album of the year so far.  Beyond that, I’m still reeling from the wonder of Giant Dwarf’s self-titled master piece, my album of 2019.

Who have been your greatest influences, in music or in life?

George Lucas, for Star Wars – which influenced me more than anything since I was five years old.  Stan Lee and Marvel comics have also been a big inspiration.  Skateboarding in general has opened my eyes and ears to the wonder of the world since my teens. 

In music, there’s dozens: Johnny Cash, Motorhead, AC/DC, Ramones, the Damned, The Misfits, Black Sabbath, The Cult, Soundgarden, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Monster Magnet, COC, Melvins, Jimi Hendrix etc etc.

What first got you into music?

I listened to the Star Wars soundtrack first of all; it still has an amazing emotional response on me even now.  The next big development was seeing the film Highlander, which I loved.  A friend of mine recommended the Queen album A Kind of Magic as it featured several songs from the film, and it’s been downhill from there.  Thankfully, through skateboarding I was introduced to music that was a bit off the beaten track, shall we say.

Which current bands or musicians would you like to see collaborate on a record?

Good question!  How about Shakin’ Stevens – the Welsh Elvis – fronting the Misfits?  Danzig can write the songs.

If you could go to any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?

Pentre Fest!

What’s the weirdest music related thing you own?

I have some pretty weird vinyl in my collection, like Roland Rat, the Wurzels and an album called “How to Strip for Your Husband”.   Oh, and a Joan Collins work out record.

If you had one message for your Ever Metal readers, what would it be?

Never ever bloody anything ever.

If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?

So many greats to choose from (sadly).  I’ll nominate my old mate Lemmy, as I probably embarrassed myself when I met him by talking bollocks.

If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?

Stop developing new formats – you lied to us about CDs when vinyl was the ultimate.  There are some albums I own on vinyl, tape, CD and download – and I’ve had to buy every single one.  Can we all just agree to not buy whatever new garbage format they try and lumber us with in the future? 

Name one of your all-time favourite albums?

Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols.

What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?

Vinyl, obviously!

What’s the best gig that you have been to, and why?

Black Sabbath at Birmingham Genting Arena on their “The End” tour is up there.

What do you get up to when you’re not writing/ taking photos?

Working the day job and being a dad mostly.  Then listening to music, skateboarding, riding my bike, watching old Hammer horror movies, collecting toys, drinking beer.

Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?

Sir Christopher Lee, Johnny Cash, Jimi Hendrix, Joey Ramone and Lemmy.

If they have to be alive, then James Hetfield, Glenn Danzig, Dave Vanian, Henry Rollins and pro skateboarder Mike Vallely.

Jaffa Cakes? Are they a cake or a biscuit?

I don’t know, but I had cherry ones in Greece and they were amazing!

Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?

Just thanks for giving me the opportunity to flaunt my massive ego by doing an interview, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do!  HAHA!

Oh, and to the readers of Ever Metal: thanks for reading, and never forget that we are fans just like you and we do this for the love of the music.  Never say die!

Read more Ever Metal staff EMQs here.

Platinum Al’s Top 10 Rock and Metal Albums of 2020

Good riddance, 2020! Am I right, or what? Still, it’s not all bad. There were some absolutely magnificent albums released last year – some I reviewed for my buddies at Ever Metal, some I discovered through other means. Some were massive, huge hits; others were small yet mighty triumphs.

Despite a lack of live music, there was plenty to investigate music-wise. So much so that it was really difficult to compile my annual Top 10 Albums list for Ever Metal. A few giants of rock and metal, though they released highly accomplished work, were reluctantly forsaken in my search for the crème de la crop.

Here they are, in (natch) reverse order:

10. The Goners – “Good Mourning”

9. Supersuckers – “Play That Rock’n’Roll”

8. Testament – “Titans of Creation”

7. Weed Demon – “Crater Maker”

6. The Atomic Bitchwax – “Scorpio”

5. Volcanova – “Radical Waves”

4. The Brothers Keg – “Folklore, Myths and Legends of The Brothers Keg”

3. Son of Boar – “Stoned Wail”

2. Desert Storm – “Omens”

  1. AC/DC – “Power Up”

I thought that this year, one of the smaller, indie label bands was sure to get to number 1. It almost happened, but then AC/DC released the total brain melter of “Power Up”, pretty much saving 2020 in the process. Now if only Angus and Co could release an album monthly, we might be able to get through 2021.

A few shout outs for notable mentions who didn’t make the cut this year, such as Ozzy, Wino and others. Seriously can’t believe I left out “Danzig Sings Elvis”, though.

You can read my full Top 10 (plus plenty of others) on the Ever Metal website, which also features links to songs and videos. Highly recommended! The direct link is here.

All the best for 2021 – here’s hoping for more great music!

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 #9

Come in, number 9!  Yes, it’s another night of spinning 45s and boozing – a ritual I like to call Singles Night.  Because I play 7″ singles, obviously.  There’s an ever growing stack of 45 rpm singles and I need to deal with them.  This is the latest session.

Starting off with Elvis, as is now tradition, what other wonders will we hear?

  1. Elvis Presley – “Always On My Mind” / “Separate Ways”
  2. Siouxsie & The Banshees – “Happy House” / “Drop Dead” / “Celebration”
  3. Albert King – “The Very Thought of You” / “I Get Evil”
  4. Queen – “Los Palabras De Amor (The Words of Love” / “Cool Cat”
  5. ABBA – “The Winner Takes It All” / “Elaine”
  6. Gerry Rafferty – “Baker Street” / “Big Change in the Weather”
  7. Bryan Ferry – “The Price of Love” / “Shame, Shame, Shame” / “Heart On My Sleeve” / “Its Only Love”
  8. The Steve Miller Band – “Abracadabra” / “Never Say No”
  9. The Rolling Stones – “The Last Time” / “Play with Fire”
  10. Kenny Rogers & The First Edition – “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town” / “Girl Get Ahold of Yourself”
  11. Donovan & Jeff Beck Group – “Barabajagal” / “Trudi”
  12. The Kyriakos – “More Greek Themes: Syneeta Platia” / “Mia Fora Monaha Ftani” / “Moraxia” / “Iliachtida”
  13. Boney M – “Rasputin” / “Never Change Lovers in the Middle of the Night”
  14. Herb Alpert & Tijuana Brass – “The Lonely Bull” / “Acapulco 1922”
  15. Yardbirds – “For Your Love” / “Got to Hurry”
  16. Billie Jo Spears – “Blanket on the Ground” / “Come on Home”
  17. Tony Bennett – “(I Left My Heart) In San Francisco” / “Candy Kisses”
  18. Geordie – “She’s a Teaser” / “We’re Alright Now”
  19. Neil – “Hole in My Shoe” / “Hurdy Gurdy Mushroom Man”
  20. Talk Talk – “Life’s What You Make It” / “Life’s What You Make It (Live)”
  21. The Art of Noise featuring Duane Eddy – “Peter Gunn” / “Something Always Happens”
  22. The B-52’s – “Roam” / “Whammy Kiss (Live)” / “Dance This Mess Around (Live)”
  23. Bobby Vinton – “Blue Velvet” / “Blue on Blue”

Wow, another eclectic bunch of tracks there!  Points of particular interest include Geordie, who feature (of course) the legendary Brian Johnson in his pre-AC/DC days.  And yes, that is Neil, alias Nigel Planer, from the Young Ones.

Several genres covered there and a fine evening’s listen.  More soon!

Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub #7

I had another great night recently, playing a load of old 7″ singles.  What happens is, I acquire these singles from record fairs, charity shops or maybe contributions from friends – and I spend an evening playing through the pile.  The’re stacked in order of how long I’ve had them – oldest near the top – and not organised in any way.

So I get a few drinkies down me and play the records in the order they reveal themselves.  Which can be fun – no skipping, play whatever’s next in the pile.

This system always means that no matter how many cool songs I play, there’s always a few dodgy tracks in there too.  But then let’s just call those less aspirational songs “guilty pleasures”, and enjoy them for what they are.

Last time, I claimed that the rest of the stack of 45 rpm magic wouldn’t reach as high a standard.  I was wrong.  Here’s the playlist, which includes some absolute monsters…

  1. Elvis Presley – “Young and Beautiful” / “True Love” / “Lover Doll” / “Love Me Tender”
  2. AC/DC – “Whole Lotta Rosie” / “Hell Ain’t a Bad Place To Be”
  3. W.A.S.P. – “Mean Man” / “Locomotive Breath”
  4. The Beatles – “Can’t Buy Me Love” / “You Can’t Do That”
  5. Anthrax – “Anti-Social” / “Parasite”
  6. The Hawaiian Islanders – “Hawaiian War Chant” / “Song of the Islands” / “One, Two, Three, Four” / “On the Beach at Waikiki” / “Sweet Leilani” / “Aloha Oe”
  7. Johnny Cash – “It Ain’t Me Babe” / “Understand Your Man” / “Five Feet High and Rising” / “I Walk the Line”
  8. Stiff Little Fingers – “At the Edge” / “Silly Encores, Autumn 1979”
  9. Spagna – “Call Me” / “Girl, It’s Not the End of the World”
  10. Tenpole Tudor – “The Swords of a Thousand Men” / “Love and Food”
  11. The Rolling Stones – “It’s All Over Now” / “Good Times, Bad Times”
  12. Belinda Carlisle – “Vision of You” / “Leave a Light On For Me (Kamikazee Mix)”
  13. Salt-n-Pepa – “Push It (US Remix)” / “I Am Down” / “Tramp”
  14. Fat Boys – “The Twist (Yo, Twist)” / “The Twist (Buffapella)”
  15. Bananarama – “Cruel Summer” / “Summer Dub”
  16. Thin Lizzy – “Cold Sweat” / “Bad Habits”
  17. Heaven 17 – “Temptation” / “We Live So Fast”
  18. Hammer – “Addam’s Groove (LP Mix)” / “Street Soldiers (Saxapella Reprise)”
  19. Philip Lynott – “Yellow Pearl” / “Girls”
  20. Senser – “The Brunt”
  21. Siouxsie & the Banshees – “The Staircase (Mystery)” / “20th Century Boy”

Fantastic stack of singles!  Some absolute classics with a couple of cheesy horror stories.  Any playlist that includes AC/DC and the Beatles can’t be half bad.  I’ll be doing some more of these singles nights soon, stay tuned!

Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub #6

Welcome to another Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub with your host, Platinum Al!

As previous, I spent the evening listening to a stack of 45 rpm singles that I’d acquired over time from several sources.  Whilst imbibing some fine alcohol.  The following is a list of those singles, A and B sides listened to in order.

There are some particularly sweet slabs of vinyl in this edition.  As always, however, we’re never too far away from some rank cheese…

  1. INXS – “The Gift” / “The Gift (Extended Mix)”
  2. Sweet – “Action” / “Sweet F.A.”
  3. Rod Stewart – “Reason to Believe” / “Maggie May”
  4. The KLF – “America: What Time is Love?” / “America No More”
  5. ABBA – “Mamma Mia” / “Tropical Loveland”
  6. Elvis Presley – “Trouble” / “Young Dreams” / “Crawfish” / “Dixieland Rock”
  7. Cream – “Strange Brew” / “Tales of Brave Ulysses”
  8. Right Said Fred – “I’m Too Sexy” / “I’m Too Sexy (Instrumental)”
  9. Anthrax – “Indians” / “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” / “Taint”
  10. The Stranglers – “All Day and All of the Night” / “Viva Vlad!”
  11. W.A.S.P. – “I Don’t Need No Doctor” / “Widowmaker”
  12. Beastie Boys – “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)” / “Time to Get Ill”
  13. Iron Maiden – “The Clairvoyant” / “The Prisoner”
  14. AC/DC – “Let’s Get It Up” / “Back in Black”
  15. Yes – “Into the Lens” / “Does It Really Happen?”
  16. Marillion – “Incommunicado” / “Going Under”
  17. Kim Wilde – “Cambodia” / Watching for Shapes”
  18. The Beatles – “Day Tripper” / “We Can Work It Out”
  19. The Spencer Davis Group – “Keep On Running” / “Somebody Help Me” / “Every Little Bit Hurts” / “I’m a Man” / “Gimme Some Lovin'”
  20. Booker T and the M.G.s – “Time is Tight” / “Hang ‘Em High”
  21. The Byrds – “Mr Tambourine Man” / “I Knew I’d Want You”
  22. The Skids – “Circus Games” / “Onedecree”
  23. Manuel & The Music of the Mountains – “The Portugese Washer Women” / “Never on Sunday”

Note: the B-side of the Anthrax single is actually their track “Imitation of Life”. 

I’m mighty proud of that selection.  Not that I had anything to do with it, the choice was random – I just took whatever disc was top of the pile and made my way through.

But what a bunch of scorchers!  One of my favourite Beatles tracks; Cream; Booker T; some classic metal and the Beastie Boys.  It doesn’t get better than that.

Or rather, it won’t.  Most of the rest of the pile of 7″ singles isn’t up to that quality…

Hollywood Vampires – Gig Review

Hollywood Vampires + The Darkness + The Damned

Sunday 17th June 2017

Manchester Arena

It was a rare, but welcome night out for Mrs Platinum Al and myself in good old Manchester.  Tickets were booked and we were off to see the big rock show.  It promised to be an exciting evening, but I was unsure whether our expectations would be met.

First off the bat, our old chums The Damned!  This was a real bonus for me, though the handbrake is also a fan after all these years of putting up with me playing their records.  However I was a tad nervous, wondering how these esteemed gentlemen would go down with what appeared to be a more traditional rock crowd.  And in such a huge venue.

Now I know I’m biased, but we were both impressed by The Damned’s performance.  The band didn’t shy away from the large stage; they actually looked quite comfortable up there.  I was quite a way away, mind – I think our seats were in Stockport.

Opener “Street of Dreams” was a moody yet raucous number that’s become a bit of a live favourite of mine over the years.  Follow that with classic “Neat Neat Neat” and you’re off to a hell blazing start.  Just as the stars align and every single person in the huge arena is going “Oooh, they’re quite good, aren’t they?” we get a minor mishap with Captain Sensible’s guitar packing in and the moment seems lost…

Not to worry, before you can say “is he the bloke  who sang Shaddup You Face?” the band, old troopers that they are, are back in the game.  Dave Vanian steers the ship over stormy waters and is in fine, confident voice all through.

The icing on the cake – for me, at least – is the return of Paul Gray, a sight I’ve not witnessed since Sheffield, 1991!  Paul’s bass rumbles and sounds triumphant, particularly in the “Love Song” intro.  Fantastic.  There’s just a drop in volume during “Ignite”, other than that, Paul is a ninja master.

Pinch’s drums are perfect, you can hear Monty (and see him bouncing about); so other than a couple of technical issues The Damned performed superbly.  The set is far too short of course, but I was relieved that they seemed to go down well.  From where I was sat, the arena seemed mostly full, so they didn’t suffer from support-band-empty-hall syndrome either.

I felt like I was watching my child in the school play; happily no-one forgot  their lines and The Damned get a gold star.

You can certainly say that I got value for money for this gig, what with three bands on.  However I was feeling a little short changed after The Darkness performed.  Admittedly, I am biased in favour of The Damned.  Yet I’ve seen The Darkness before, at Download festival a couple of years ago, and was much more impressed.

Not that the Hawkins boys don’t give it a fair shot; a short tight set is delivered in inimitable style with splurges of Justin’s trademark wit and swagger.  Perhaps it’s just that the set is lacking some bigger numbers in the first half; following “Growing On Me” with “Love is Only a Feeling” as the third song is too much of a comedown so early on.

The crowd don’t seem to mind though, it all goes down very well.  Let’s be honest, most of ’em are happy because they’ve heard of The Darkness and haven’t got a clue who The Damned are.  Or, shock horror, don’t like punk rock.  For me, with no “Black Shuck” in the set, and a mediocre version of “Barbarians”, it’s good but not great from the Darkness.

I still can’t bring myself to dislike ’em, regardless.  At least The Darkness tried to bring loud, exuberant British guitar rock into the 21st century, and aren’t a wanky indie band.

There followed some musical chairs for Mrs Platinum Al and me, as we secured seats much nearer the front.  This pleased the other half immensely, she would now have a much better view of the headliners (or one of them, at any rate).

And so the Hollywood Vampires took the stage, and the Big Rock Show was in it’s final phase.  The air of tense expectation was only mildly subdued by the band’s arrival, as the audience were keen to experience what they could serve up.  Would this be a vanity project for ageing rock stars and their pirate actor buddy?  Or could they deliver something tangibly worth their collective prowess?

Led by the preposterously cool Mr Alice Cooper, the Vamps rattle through a few of their own original numbers at first, as if to prove a point.  Yes, they can play – and they can write, too.  It’s super confident and great fun – every song gets a chance to shine on it’s own merits.

The bulk of the set is a succession of expertly reproduced cover songs, each dedicated with respect to a fallen rock comrade.  Songs range from The Doors, to Motorhead, to AC/DC – with my favourite being a great version of The Who’s “Baba O’Riley”.

Joe Perry delivers a spine tingling “Sweet Emotion” complete with the extended intro that builds magnificently.  It’s a master class in rock star awesomeness, though Joe seems very much enjoying himself in a humble manner.

Despite the attention thrust upon him by a vast number of fans in attendance, Johnny Depp manages to not only look the embodiment of cool, but actually performs brilliantly.  He appears very much in his element as part of this massive spectacle, indeed his rendition of Bowie’s “Heroes” is one of the highlights of the night.

It’s one of several moments that manages to evoke the ghosts of heroes past, as  accompanying images are shown on the screen onstage.  It’s not altogether subtle, but rock’n’roll rarely is.  Instead the audience cheer their appreciation and nod sagely as our heroes are exhumed for us to behold.

Finally, Alice declares “School’s Out” yet again, as the whole show reaches it’s climax.  Cooper is an absolute delight, the demented circus master and ring leader of this crazy gang.  He is unbelievably cool and amazing at what he does: a true legend.

In the end, despite any doubts, it’s been a hell of a ride.  Despite whatever misgivings anyone may have had regarding authenticity, the Hollywood Vampires delivered an excellent, well performed show that was pure fun.  It was so much more than just athe world’s biggest covers band.  Abandon your cynicism, this was rock’n’roll for the sheer joy of it.  Which is what it’s all about, right?

Christmas Playlist

Nothing gets me in the festive spirit like a few classic Christmas songs, or indeed, a bit of seasonal strangeness – as in this playlist.  A bit of alcohol helps too, mind.

I’ve already covered my Top Ten Christmas songs, and this playlist isn’t just run down of all the usual Crimbo staples.  This list is more complicated, idiosyncratic, and pointless than that.

Within my music collection are several Christmas songs, of varying fame, often collected together on themed compilations.

This list pulls together the songs that aren’t on those compilations, as well as some of the standards that do, but for one reason or another have found themselves bundled in with this bunch of misfits.

For example, there are several tunes that are always part of any respectable Christmas collection, but can also be found bunged onto Greatest Hits albums.  Songs like the wonderful Slade song “Merry Xmas Everybody”: it’s on all the comps, but I selected my copy from the Slade Best Of to group together with similar songs.  Shaky, The Pogues and John Lennon are other examples of this type.

Then there are the album Crimbo album tracks that are hidden away on band’s regular studio albums, such as the Ramones track (see also: AC/DC, Joan Jett).  They’re not going to crop up on a Now Christmas comp, so I added them here.

Plus, there are various songs from singles (the Darkness track) and a few of dubious seasonal pedigree…

Here’s my Christmas Odds and Sods playlist.  Enjoy!

  1. Slade – “Merry Xmas Everybody”
  2. Shakin’ Stevens – “Merry Christmas Everyone”
  3. The Pogues (with Kirsty MacColl – “Fairytale of New York”
  4. John Lennon – “Happy Christmas (War is Over)”
  5. Queen – “Thank God it’s Christmas”
  6. Ramones – “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight)”
  7. AC/DC – “Mistress for Christmas”
  8. The Beatles – “Christmas Time (Is Here Again)
  9. The Darkness – “Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End)
  10. Tom Jones and Cerys Matthews – “Baby It’s Cold Outside”
  11. Joan Jett & The Blackhearts – “Little Drummer Boy”
  12. Boney M – “Mary’s Boy Child”
  13. Christopher Lee – “Silent Night”
  14. Bad News – “Cashing in on Christmas”
  15. Roy Orbison – “Pretty Paper”
  16. The Sensational Alex Harvey Band – “There’s No Light on the Christmas Tree Mama They’re Burning Big Louie Tonight”
  17. The Damned – “There Ain’t No Sanity Clause”
  18. Emmy the Great & Tim Wheeler – “Home for the Holidays”
  19. Monster Magnet – “Dead Christmas”
  20. UK Subs – “Hey Santa”
  21. Black Stone Cherry – “Santa Claus is Back in Town”
  22. Christopher Lee – “Little Drummer Boy”
  23. Queen – “A Winter’s Tale”

Merry Christmas all!