UK Subs – Album Review

UK Subs – Work in Progress

Cherry Red Records

Release date: 22/04/2022

Running time: 41 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

9/10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can find UK Subs on Facebook and Twitter.

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

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

Toyah – Album Review

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

Cherry Red Records

Release date: 13/05/2022

Running time: 61 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

8.5/10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub #28

Well it’s been a while, but here we are back at Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub enjoying some 45 rpm tunes. I can promise you another night of varied music spanning the musical genres – some well known, some obscure, some classic, some not so classic.

How does it work? It’s simple: I play my way through my (sometimes bizarre) collection of 7″ vinyl singles – both sides, one after the other. The result is a playlist of tunes and an evening captured in time. Drinking the booze often helps.

Here we go with this playlist:

  1. The Stranglers – “Walk on by” / “Old Codger” / “Tank”
  2. Anti Nowhere League – “Streets of London” / “So What”
  3. Public Image Limited – “Rise” / “Rise (Instrumental)”
  4. Fat Boys – “Wipeout” / “Crushin'”
  5. Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Up Around the Bend” / “Run Through the Jungle”
  6. Nazareth – “Shanghai’d in Shanghai” / “Love, Now You’re Gone”
  7. Nazareth – “This Flight Tonight” / “Called Her Name”
  8. Tiffany – “Could’ve Been” / “The Heart of Love”
  9. The Beach Boys – “Do It Again” / “Wake the World”
  10. The Hollies – “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” / “‘Cos You Like to Love Me”
  11. Madonna – “Hanky Panky” / “More”
  12. The Beatmasters ft. The Cookie Crew – “”Rok Da House (Remix)” / “Rok Da House”
  13. Fuzzbox – “International Rescue” / “Raining Champagne”
  14. Thin Lizzy – “Rosalie (Cowgirl’s Song)” / “Me and the Boys”
  15. Thin Lizzy – “Whisky in the Jar” / “Black Boys on the Corner”
  16. Diana Ross – “Touch me in the Morning” / “Baby it’s Love”
  17. Diana Ross – “All of My Life” / “A Simple Thing Like Cry”
  18. Dian Ross & Marvin Gaye – “You Are Everything” / “Include Me in Your Life”
  19. Stevie Wonder – “Saturn” / “Ebony Eyes” / “All Day Sucker” / Easy Goin’ Evening (My Mama’s Call)”
  20. Stevie Nicks – “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” / “Kind of Woman”

A few notes on the records listed above: firstly, the Fat Boys A side is listed as “featuring The Beach Boys”, so that group have ended up with two mentions in this list, technically.

The Stevie Wonder single is the 7″ EP that originally came with the “Songs in the Key of Life” album. I already owned the album, but not the single, so that’s a great addition to my collection.

Also, the Stevie Nicks single features Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

A fine evening’s entertainment with that playlist. From the most obscene song in my entire record collection (ANL’s “So What”), covering some punk/new wave classics, hard rock and pop gems – it was a ton of fun. More soon.

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night #18

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night

The Queen’s Head, Mold

Friday 26th August 2022

Three years. It’s been nearly three years since the last Bring Your Own Vinyl Night at the Queen’s Head in Mold, north Wales. The pandemic put this event on hold for quite a while, but finally it was time for a triumphant return to the decks.

Let’s recap the concept: each participant gets a 15 minute slot to play whatever vinyl they like. That’s it. Very simple. And good fun. Have a few beers, chat about music, discover something new to listen to.

Here’s my ;playlist from the night:

Sweet Apple – Wish You Could Stay (A Little Longer)

I wanted to start my set up with this gorgeous, uplifting track by Sweet Apple. J Mascis (of Dinosaur Jr) is in the band, and Mark Lanegan guests on co-vocals. A sublime piece of melodic, alt rock pop. First song on their album “The Golden Age of Glitter”.

The Four Horsemen – Nobody Said It Was Easy

And then on to some early 90’s southern rock, courtesy of the Four Horsemen. This band were signed to Def American and produced by Rick Rubin. If you dig AC/DC tinged Skynyrd and ZZ Top, their wax is worth investing in. I have the album, but this was the 7 inch single version of this song.

Clutch – D.C. Sound Attack!

A stand out track from the “Earth Rocker” album by Clutch, a band I am somewhat obsessed with. I love this song, it’s energetic rock’n’roll with a funky riff – the instrumental is so good I could actually groove to it. D.C. Sound Attack!!!

Social Distortion – Dear Lover

What a band. The opening track from Social D’s “White Light White Heat White Trash” album, this is full of Mike Ness’s heartfelt angst in a pounding, mid paced punk rock’n’roller.

The Beatnix – Stairway to Heaven

The Beatnix are a Beatles cover band. Here, they’ve covered Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” in an early 60’s Beatles style. It’s actually really good and sounds authentic. I think this song raised a few eyebrows, starting off resembling an old Fab Four track but including the unmistakable lyrics. On the other side, there’s an Elvis impersonator called Neil Pepper, covering the same song – a great single, you need a copy.

I had a really enjoyable evening for Vinyl Night, in fact I’m sure everyone did! Thanks to Halcyon Dreams and VOD Music in Mold for hosting and organising everything. Hope to see you all again soon!

The Halcyon Dreams blogspot is here.

The Halcyon Dreams mixcloud page is here.

The Halcyon Dreams Facebook page is here.

The VOD music website is here.

Singles Night at the Virtual Hot tub #27

I promised we’d revisit Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub for another Singles Night, so here we go! Another evening of playing 7 inch singles and having a few cocktails (or beers, or whatever you thirst for). There’s a massive pile of these 45 rpm records to get through, so prepare yourself!

As a quick recap for the uninitiated, I have a stack (or several) of singles that I haven’t played yet. Some have been gifts, some have been picked up – usually very cheaply – from record shops, record fairs, charity shops and carboot sales. The idea is to play through the stack of vinyl one at a time, A side the B side, and enjoy the tunes.

Now I present to you my latest playlist:

  1. Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Taste the Pain” / “Show Me Your Soul”
  2. The Stranglers – “European Female” / “Savage Breast”
  3. The Wee Papa Girl Rappers – “We Rule” / “Rebel Rap”
  4. Salt-n-Pepa – “Shake Your Thang” / “Spinderella’s Not a Fella”
  5. Vanilla Ice – “Ice Ice Baby” / “It’s a Party”
  6. Motley Crue – “Girls, Girls, Girls” / “Sumthin’ for Nothin'”
  7. Neil Pepper (Elvis) – “Stairway to Heaven” / “The Beatnix – “Stairway to Heaven”
  8. Sham 69 – “Hurry Up, Harry” / “No Entry”
  9. Kenny Everett – “Snot Rap” / “Snot Rap (Part 2)”
  10. The Turtles – “Happy Together” / “Like the Seasons”
  11. Aerosmith – “Janie’s Got a Gun” / “Voodoo Medicine Man”
  12. Don Fardon – “Indian Reservation” / “Hudson Bay”
  13. Cerrone – “Je Suis Music” / “Rocket in the Pocket”
  14. Marty Wilde – “It’s Been Nice” / “Bad Boy”
  15. Taja Seville – “Love is Contagious” / “Mama”
  16. B.A. Robertson & Maggie Bell – “Hold Me” / “Spring Greens”
  17. Fiddler’s Dram – “Daytrip to Bangor” / “The Flash Lad”
  18. Bob Geldof – “The Great Song of Indifference” / “Hotel 75”
  19. Gary Shearston – “I Get a Kick Out of You” / “Witnessing”
  20. Mr. Mister – “Kyrie” / “Kyrie (Extended)”

A note on disc number 7 above: Neil Pepper is an Elvis impersonator, and The Beatnix are a Beatles tribute band. On this record, both have covered the Led Zeppelin classic in the style of their inspirations.

The latter half of this playlist started to wander in to some strange, unknown territory – along with featuring some decidedly dodgy songs. A while back, I purchased a box of about 100 singles at a carboot sale for a fiver, quite a lot of which was quality music. Here though, some of the dregs have started to float to the surface.

It’s not all bad though, and there’s a fair spread of awesome tracks scattered through out the list to make it a fun listen. Plus a lot of variety too, from The Crue’s dumb party metal, to classic 60’s pop from the Turtles, 80’s pop with Mr. Mister and some great old school hip hop.

I’m favouring Sham 69 and The Stranglers as particularly fine songs. And of course the Red Hot Chili Peppers, which I bought because although the A side I have on an album, I wanted the B side to add to my collection.

Singles Nights are always a cool way to spend an evening. I’ll update you with another killer playlist soon.

White City Graves – Album Review

White City Graves – One Of Us

Self-Released (MDPR)

Release date: 20/08/2021

Running Time: 29 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

8.5/10

White City Graves released this album back in August, but I’m reviewing it in October.  Not because I’m a slacker, but because this album is totally appropriate for the Spookiest Month of the Year.  That’s right folks, we’ve jumped on the Horror Punk ghost train again, so buckle up and be prepared for a rollicking roll on the tracks to hell.

To be fair, there’s definitely a Misfits/Danzig influence with “One Of Us”, but White City Graves cast a wider net than just horror punk.  Aggressive as it is, and with the undoubted splash of melody from those aforementioned bands, these songs also owe a big debt to ugly metal bands like Motorhead, Venom and Mercyful Fate.

Like Tad jacked up on speed and Monster Energy whiskey cocktails, it’s furious and frightening.  We’re only one motel stop from chainsaw killers and rabid werewolf bikers – all of which makes Al rub his hands with glee.

“Bump in the Night” starts with a sample of an obscure B-movie (of course) and proceeds in the manner we’d expect: punk’n’roll at 200mph and snarling vocals.  “Lights Out” is a frenzied rocker with the hugest chorus on the album – think the Anti-Nowhere League partying in a haunted house and you’ll be there.      

The band give a nod to their Seattle roots with an exemplary cover of Soundgarden’s “Hunted Down”, a surprising song choice, but it makes perfect sense.  WCG take the original and inject even more brutality, but retain a little of the psychedelic feel of the original.

I’ve no idea who Brooks is, but “Brooks is Here” features a helluva fast, almost psychobilly freak out.  “Make My Blood Boil” and “Day in the Death” have a similar feel, though “Deeper” takes a more metallic approach with some added Sisters of Mercy atmos.

“One of Us” is fast and nasty, unafraid to have some fun with the horror punk cliches, but adding a ruthless heavy rock influence.  Like the best of Seattle bands, it’s an irresistible collision of punk and metal that’s fun and makes the listener beg for more.  Why aren’t more bands like this? 

My old mate Ronnie James Dio used to love Halloween.  He had fantastic costumes too: demons, zombies, imps.  I used to have to take him out Trick or Treating every year, acting as his minder.  Of course, I looked more like his parent, and most of the people thought little Ron, knocking on their door, was a child.  He got loads of candy though, and he always shared it with me.  Happy days.

Check out the fantastic White City Graves on Bandcamp, Spotify, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.

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

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!

Platinum Al’s Top 10 Rock & Metal Albums of 2021

Over the last year, I’ve reviewed a fair few albums for my pals at Ever Metal, and also continued on my never ending odyssey to explore new music. Old bands, new bands, from the big hitters to the up and comers. But what Rock and Metal albums were my favourites from 2021?

This list answers that question: here are the albums that I enjoyed the most from last year:

10. Stoner – Stoners Rule

9. Here Lies Man – “Ritual Divination”

8. Bloody Hammers – “Songs of Unspeakable Terror”

7. Melvins – “Working with God”

6. Acid Mammoth – “Caravan”

5. Barbarian Hermit – “One”

4. Red Fang – “Arrows”

3. Son of Boar – “Son of Boar”

2. Green Lung – “Black Harvest”

  1. 1968 – “Salvation, if you need…”

Another strong year for new music, 2021 managed to deliver that much, at least. There were plenty of other great releases from other artists, this is just my pick of the best – and it certainly wasn’t easy to narrow down to just this ten.

All of the above are superb records, and I’d strongly advise you to check them out. Read the full reviews on Ever Metal (where applicable) and also on here too, in the near future.

Let’s raise a glass to more great music in 2022 – and who knows, maybe some more gigs?!

Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub #24

One of my favourite types of night in: a random stack of 7 inch vinyl, and a big old crate of booze. I’ve not held a Singles Night at Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub for a little while, so allow me to put that right.

You see, I’ve got a load of 7″ singles that I haven’t listened to yet. They come from various sources, though most are second hand. So I play ’em through, A side then B side, and enjoy the sonic delights. Accompanied with a tipple of two.

Here’s the latest batch:

  1. Mudhoney – “Warning” / Meat Puppets – “One of These Days”
  2. Cockney Rejects – “The Greatest Cockney Rip Off” / “Hate of the City”
  3. Metallica – “The Unforgiven” / “Killing Time”
  4. The Shipbuilders – “Silk Road” / “La Fee Verte”
  5. Huey Lewis & The News – “Stuck With You” / “Don’t Ever Tell Me That You Love Me”
  6. The Archies – “Sugar, Sugar” / “Melody Hill”
  7. Boney M – “Painter Man” / “He Was a Steppenwolf”
  8. Twiggy – “Falling Angel” / “Virginia (And the Circus Side Show)”
  9. Freddie Mercury & Montserrat Caballe – “Barcelona” / “Exercises in Free Love”
  10. Yes – “Going for the One” / “Awaken Pt. 1”
  11. Bad Manners – “Special Brew” / “Ivor the Engine”
  12. Kylie Minogue – “Better the Devil You Know” / “I’m Over Dreaming (Over You)”
  13. The Jam – “Going Underground” / “The Dreams of Children”
  14. Siouxsie & The Banshees – “Cities in Dust” / “An Execution”
  15. Gary Numan – The Live E.P.: “Are “Friends” Electric?” / “Berserker” / “Cars” / “We Are Glass”
  16. Del Shannon – “Runaway” / “Jody”
  17. The Smurfs – “Silly Little Song” / “Little Smurf Boat”
  18. The Proclaimers – “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” / “Better Days”
  19. Stray Cats – “Stray Cat Strut” / “Drink That Bottle Down”
  20. Eurythmics – “Sexcrime (Nineteen Eighty Four)” / “I Did it Just the Same”

From Metallica to the Smurfs, there’s a right old mixture in that playlist. A nice wide coverage of genres from pop, disco, ska, prog rock, punk and – wonder of wonders – even some opera. Not to mention all the various subgenres on the list (Goth? Post punk? New Wave? Make your own conclusions).

Another fine evening of music, I can recommend a Singles Night for the variety and fun. Dig out your old singles collection and have a knees up!

Fields of the Nephilim – Gig Review

Fields of the Nephilim + The Faces of Sarah

Friday 10th September 2021

Buckley Tivoli

It had been a good 18 months since I last attended a gig, and leaving the house to join a throng of fans enjoying live music seemed like a very strange proposition. I’d actually forgotten all about the concert, as tickets had been booked long before lockdown. Heading up to the Tiv was both exciting and, if I’m honest, a little unnerving.

On entering the venue, it was just like old times: a great vibe as the crowd drank and awaited the bands. As life was getting back to normal, the Goths had crept from the shadows near and far, ready to witness Fields of the Nephilim.

The support band, The Faces of Sarah, were already attempting to breathe life into the evening. Unfortunately, and unusually for the Tiv, they could hardly be heard. I wasn’t too far away, but could barely make out the sound of the instruments. The guitarist looked to be going for it, throwing shapes like a crazed gibbon, but to no avail. The dual lead vocals were extremely impressive, however the poor sound made them come across like an AOR outfit.

Had my old copy of the Usborne Book of Goths been on my person, I could’ve ticked off several obvious dark rock tropes from the moment Fields of the Nephilim took the stage. There was so much dry ice the band could barely be seen, just a group of grey silhouettes in dusty cowboy hats. They begin in true over the top, cinematic style with “The Harmonica Man”. Atmosphere is poured on with no restraint.

And that’s exactly what I paid my money for: I wanted the full experience without any subtlety, and by God, that’s what the audience got.

FOTN erupted into “Preacher Man” and we all loved it. There’s no onstage frontman/audience banter (till the very end) and that, again, is just how I expected it. The songs bounce along like little Goth demons knowing Halloween isn’t far away.

“Moonchild” was an obvious highlight, with its slow, moody intro leading into the searing guitar and rumbling bass. The whole set is all treat, no tricks – I got the feeling that this is exactly how FOTN would’ve performed 30 years ago. The whole set is absolutely note perfect and full of every excess that the audience could devour.

I’d also forgotten how much I enjoy live music. This evening was a fantastic reminder of what we’ve been missing – can’t wait for more.