Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

I can’t remember when I was first aware of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but as a big comic book reader in the 1980s it was kind of inevitable that we’d cross paths.  Cleverly playing with some popular comic tropes, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird created a pop culture phenomenon almost by accident.

I do remember the Ninja Turtles and their creators getting a shout out in the “thank you” list of the “Among the Living” album by thrash metal kings Anthrax.  The book seemed quirky and original, it’s popularity boosted with a reputation for genuinely great writing and art.

Next came the cartoon, a couple of years later.  This was the turtles tidied up for a younger audience and it became a massive hit.  I was about 17 at the time (!), but enjoyed watching the cartoon occasionally as a bit of tongue in cheek fun.  I was being ironic, honest.

The toys that were made at the time were very cool; for the era they seemed very well designed and super detailed.  I was far too old for the action figures, but secretly coveted them from afar.

Eventually I picked up the figure of my favourite turtle, Michaelangelo.  He must have been on sale somewhere post turtles craze,’cos this would’ve been in my student days and thus, extremely poor.  He was a perfect ironic, “look how wacky I am” student possession.

Sadly, Mikey disappeared – I know not where – and once again, I was completely turtle-less.

Until a couple of years ago, when taking my daughter on one of her last trips to Toys R Us, before it closed for good.  They had on sale re-issued turtles, exactly like the old versions I loved, and they were cheap (ish).

I replaced Michaelangelo there and then, and over the next few days was so eager to complete a collection of all four turtles that I returned to buy others.  With a little bit of toy spotting help from my old pal Adam, I was soon in business with a full team of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

At the moment, I only have the full group of Leonardo, Donatello, Michaelangelo and Raphael.  It would be great to have Splinter, Shredder and more one day, but I doubt they’ll turn up cheap.

The four turtles are great figures, nicely stylised and featuring great detail.  And awesome weapons.

All four are still Mint in Box.  How long can I resist the urge to release the guys from their blister pack prisons?  Surely one night I’ll have had a little bit too much to drink, and decide to tear that plastic from the backing card…

What do you think readers?  Should the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles stay in their boxes, or should I open them up?

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…

Gama Bomb – Speed Between the Lines Album Review

Here’s my recent review of the new Gama Bomb album, which appeared on the Ever Metal website.  Reproduced here with permission; enjoy! 

Gama Bomb – Speed Between the Lines

AFM Records

Release date: 12/10/2018

Running time: 35.07

Review by: Alun Jones

8/10

Hello and welcome to Thrash School.  For today’s lesson, you will need:

  • Skin tight jeans (preferably with ripped knees)
  • Faded Acid Reign t-shirt
  • Studded leather belt and 1x studded leather wrist band
  • White hi-top leather Converse
  • Black leather jacket (denim vest over jacket optional)
  • Baseball cap with “NOT” written under the peak

Because today we will be listening to the new album by Gama Bomb, entitled “Speed Between the Lines”.

These merry metallers have an uncanny ability to rewind the cassette of time to a simpler age.  It’s like grunge never happened.  Instead, we get twelve face-lacerating tunes that rush by in uncompromising fashion.  This is thrash metal, kids, buckle up for the ride.

Eighties thrash was often pre-occupied with party bum-out vibes like nuclear destruction.  Apparently, it’s a post-Cold War world though, so these boys don’t wallow in misery for too long.  Not that they don’t have a social conscience: witness the admirable stab at the current political climate in “Alt Reich”.

But they’re just as happy dedicating an ode to Kurt Russell, which is perfectly justified in my opinion.  Kurt is, of course, an icon of twentieth century popular culture.  Not convinced? Go watch The Thing and Big Trouble in Little China and you can thank me later.

Back to the music.  Although diversity isn’t Gama Bomb’s strong point – Master of Puppets this ain’t – the listener is rewarded with a dozen tracks that speed by relentlessly.  The musicianship is amazing, with blitzkrieg lead guitar all over the place.

The occasional change of pace would add some additional colour, but you can’t fault the commitment and enthusiasm of this band.  This album is the full package with cool themes and some of the best song titles I’ve heard in a long time (666teen? Give them an award NOW).  The music is intense and exciting in equal measure, bringing to mind classic Overkill, Anthrax and Nuclear Assault.

So dig out your old Variflex skateboard and ask your big brother’s mate to buy you a two litre bottle of cider from the Co-op.  With Gama Bomb you can party like it’s 1987.  This history lesson is over.

Visit the Ever Metal website here.

Gym Playlist #1

Have you been hitting the gym since the start of the year?  Punishing yourself with cardio and weights as you fight to shed those extra pounds that attached themselves limpet-like over the festive season?

I’ve been slaughtering the gym since the start of the year, but then I always do.  Not that it seems to do any good.

Whilst I’m there, pummelling away at the flab in a vain attempt to get in shape, I need some tunes to motivate me.  The music in the gym is usually dancey disco stuff, which is fine if you’re dancing, but when I’m working out I need something a bit more aggressive.

Albums by various bands get a regular spin, but I also made this iPod playlist to help me focus like a Viking ransacking a monastery.  Sometimes I’m so amped I feel like I could run through the wall, rather than just plodding on the treadmill.

You could do worse than to listen to this cacophony yourself.

  1. Rocket From The Crypt – “Pushed”
  2. Audioslave – “Cochise”
  3. Big Chief – “Lion’s Mouth”
  4. Metallica – “Die Die My Darling”
  5. Foo Fighters – “The Pretender”
  6. Rage Against the Machine – “Guerrilla Radio”
  7. Anthrax – “Only”
  8. Corrosion of Conformity – “Heaven’s Not Overflowing”
  9. Pantera – “Fucking Hostile”
  10. The Cult – “Rise”
  11. Probot – “Shake Your Blood”
  12. Suicidal Tendencies – “War Inside My Head”
  13. Beastie Boys – “Sabotage”

There you go: 47 minutes of energetic, in your face music to psyche you up and get you in the mood to destroy. GO!!!

Random Bike Ride Playlist 2017 #1

It’s been a long, long time since I posted a random bike ride playlist.  My PC has had a few technical issues which impacted on my iTunes selection.  Oh, the joys of digital music.

Anyway, I went on a big cycle ride and left the music choice up to the iPod.  This is what I heard whilst on shuffle.

  1. Amy Winehouse – “Tears Dry On Their Own”
  2. Municipal Waste – “Lunch Hall Food Bawl”
  3. Sex Pistols – “No One is Innocent”
  4. Napalm Death – “Born on Your Knees”
  5. Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash – “If I Were a Carpenter”
  6. Nancy Sinatra featuring Lee Hazlewood – “Jackson”
  7. PJ Harvey – “Good Fortune”
  8. Killing Joke – “S.O.36”
  9. Husker Du – “Wheels”
  10. Manic Street Preachers – “Motorcycle Emptiness”
  11. The Cult – “Wilderness Now”
  12. John Lee Hooker – “I’m Gonna Kill That Woman”
  13. Valient Thorr – “Problem Solver”
  14. Rocket From The Crypt – “Ratsize”
  15. Pearl Jam – “Footsteps”
  16. SNFU – “Electric Chair”
  17. Ramones – “It’s Gonna Be Alright”
  18. Van Halen – “Where Have All the Good Times Gone?”
  19. PJ Harvey – “Meet Ze Monster”
  20. Social Distortion – “Writing on the Wall”
  21. Solarized – “Chrome Shop”
  22. Thin Lizzy – “Silver Dollar”
  23. Beastie Boys – “Shadrach”
  24. Johnny Cash – “Daddy Sang Bass”
  25. Pat Benatar – “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”
  26. Joan Jett & The Blackhearts – “Love Me Two Times”
  27. Anthrax – “I’m The Man”
  28. The Answer – “Evil Man”
  29. Judas Priest – “Here Come the Tears”
  30. Fu Manchu – “Missing Link”
  31. Jello Biafra & The Melvins – “Yuppie Cadillac”
  32. Clutch – “Ship of Gold”
  33. Jimmy Eat World – “Hear You Me”
  34. Stevie Wonder – “For Once in My Life”
  35. The Cult – “Full Tilt”
  36. The Byrds – “The Times They Are a-Changin'”
  37. Joan Jett & The Blackhearts – “Love is Pain”
  38. Weezer – “Pork and Beans”
  39. Manic Street Preachers – “Suicide is Painless”
  40. Bad Company – “Seagull”
  41. The Clash – “Jimmy Jazz”
  42. Reverend Horton Heat – “In Your Wildest Dreams”
  43. The Monkees – “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone”
  44. The Who – “See Me Feel Me”

Wow, I didn’t even know I had that Pat Benatar track!

There you have it – a mix of genres making a nice, eclectic mix of music.  Till next time…

Songs of the Week 09.10.2016

Biding time till I write up the next Halloween Horror Fest movie review, here’s five songs that stood out last week:

  1. Siouxsie and the Banshees – Arabian Knights
  2. The Stupids – Skid Row
  3. David Bowie – Life on Mars
  4. Sisters of Mercy – This Corrosion
  5. Anthrax – Antisocial

Bring Your Own Vinyl Day

Bring Your Own Vinyl Day

Civic Hall, Connah’s Quay

Saturday 24th September 2016

It’s been a while since I wrote about a Bring Your Own Vinyl Night.  What with holidays and other commitments, the Mold event has been a no go for me recently.  Not to worry though – the fine people at VOD Music ecord fairs would come to the rescue!

The record fair organised in Connah’s Quay Civic Hall also hosted Halcyon Dreams, organisers of the very fine Bring Your Own Vinyl events.  And this time, what with the timing of the record fair, this would be a day time event.

As I was at a record fair, I didn’t bring along any vinyl from my collection at home to play.  Instead I decided to wing it and just spin a few discs that I bought on the day.  This could be risky as I wouldn’t necessarily be familiar with the tracks.

I spent a long time perusing the various record stalls and making several purchases.  Whilst this was going on, the Halcyon Dreams decks were spinning all manner of wondrous delights.

Eventually I took my place at the turn tables, and made a few quick decisions on what to play.

Talking Heads – Road to Nowhere

My first problem was following a 12″ of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service by Propellerheads. An absolute killer track.  I went for “Road to Nowhere” by Talking Heads, from their “Little Creatures” LP.  I’d been after some Talking Heads for a while, and this only cost me £3 for a nice copy.  Great song – and I think I got away with the mix!  The vocals at the start were a nice contrast, and soon one or two people seemed to be enjoying it. th

Next there was a brief gap in my set, as one of the dealers asked us to play one of his singles for a potential buyer.  I think it was a group called The Jackson Sisters; early 70’s rare soul.  The cost?  £85.  But I can attest to the fact that it was DAMN fine track: funky, danceable groove – if only I had the money myself!

Eddie Cochran – C’mon Everybody

I followed up the 85 quid 7″ single with one that cost me 50p.  It was a re-issue from 1988 of the rockabilly classic, “C’mon Everybody” by Eddie Cochran.  I thought this would add some variety to my planned set, in style and age.  I remember becoming familiar with this song from the Sid Vicious cover, however Eddie’s version is superior.  It’s a stone cold classic.  I do love these 1980’s jean commercial promotional tie-ins, don’t you?  Classic song for next to nowt.

Stormtroopers of Death – Kill Yourself

And so, how should I conclude the set?  With a bit of egging on, I knew it had to be S.O.D.  I’d just picked this up for a nice price – most expensive purchase of the day, but worth it – as it was on my vinyl wish list.  Nasty thrash metal/hardcore with horrid lyrics (that I understand are a joke) – this Anthrax off shoot rounded off the set in scuzzy style.  It was a bit of a shock, anyway.

So there you have it – a great day’s record buying and some awesome tracks.  I’m already looking forward to the next Bring Your Own Vinyl Night!

You can check out the Halcyon Days blogspot here.

The Halcyon Dreams mixcloud page is here.

The Halcyon Dreams Facebook page is here.

The VOD Music website is here.

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night #7

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night

Queen’s Head, Mold

Friday 26th February 2016

Welcome back to the Queen’s Head in Mold, North Wales!  Get yourself a pint and make yourself comfortable, ‘cos you know what time it is.  That’s right, it’s Bring Your Own Vinyl Night again!

Remember the rules: there’s a fifteen minute slot for each person; play whatever you like, so long as it’s vinyl.

Only Greeny and myself made it this time – Adam and Ben the Swede were both unavailable.  No theme for my set this time, just a few songs I really had a yearning to play…

Ennio Morricone – The Ecstasy of Gold

This song is of course from the soundtrack for the classic Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.  My version came from an album called “This is Ennio Morricone”.  You don’t need me to tell you how great that film is.  And Morricone’s soundtrack is stylish and ground breaking.  In particular, this track (which plays while Eli Wallach’s character runs frenziedly through a Civil War graveyard) is sheer class.  It builds magnificently and captivates the listener.  A bit over the top, I admit, as the first song in my set – but never let it be said that Platinum Al doesn’t do drama.

Ramones – Surfin’ Bird

If I was going to recommend a Ramones album for a novice to start their education of NYC’s finest, I’d go for “Rocket to Russia”.  I thought that this frenetic cover of the Trashmen’s surf rock gem would be a suitable place to go, after the majesty of the last track.  I love the Ramones and this song was a ton of fun to play.

Soundgarden – Fresh Tendrils

This song, from the simply fantastic “Superunknown” album, is probably my favourite Soundgarden song ever.  And I’m a bit of a Soundgarden nerd – I’ve collected tons of their stuff.  Rather than play a more obvious, well known song, I decided to go with my top tune.  “Fresh Tendrils” has an epic, classic rock sound that I love.  No idea what Chris is singing about, however.  The version I played was from the “Spoonman” 12″ single (on clear vinyl!).

Johnny Cash – Folsom Prison Blues

Originally I was going to play a Stooges song, but then I remembered that 26th February was Johnny Cash’s birthday.  So I decided to play a song by the Man in Black.  “Folsom Prison Blues” is a legendary track, one of Cash’s best.  And I’ve already stated how big a hero this guy was to me.  The album this came from – “Original Golden Hits Volume 1” – was my Gran’s.  After she passed away, it was given to me.  I’d heard a lot from bands I was into how Cash was an inspiration, so I checked the record out.  I loved it, and my Johnny Cash fandom was born.  The first Cash record I heard, but not the last!

That’s my list for the night.  There were may great songs played through out the evening, though.  Budgie!  Hawkwind!  Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy!  Anthrax!  Check the link below for the complete list.

Wax is back – get spinning those tracks!  Thanks for a great night!

I’d also like to thank my old mate Graham, who turned up with a couple of Suicidal Tendencies records for me.  You see, I’d sold these two exact albums to Graham some twenty years ago, when I was a broke student.  Although I could’ve tracked the records down on eBay, I decided to message Graham and see if he’d sell them back to me (if he still had them).  The reason being that one album, the awesome “Join the Army”, had been given to me when I was 15 by my friend Kelvin Bedford, who I used to skateboard with every day.  Sadly, Kel passed away a couple of years ago.  So it was cool to get that actual copy back in my record collection, as a nice memory.  It even had the same plastic protective sheet over the album – and the selotape strip I patched up the inner sleeve with many, many years ago!  Graham gave me both records for free – so I bought him a pint or two.  Thank you!

The Halcyon Dreams blogspot is here.

The Halcyon Dreams mixcloud page is here.

The Halcyon Dreams Facebook page is here.

Random Longboard Playlist #2

On Sunday 2nd November I went out for a quick skate on my longboard.  Luckily the weather has been fairly warm and dry, meaning that a short skate trip was possible.  Usually at this time of year, it’s too cold and wet outside for cruising and carving.  That skate might be the last of 2014, as the pleasant autumn has now decayed into winter.

As is often the case, the iPod went on shuffle, and here are the songs that provided a soundtrack to skate.

  1. Napalm Death – “Blind to the Truth”
  2. Volbeat – “Our Loved Ones”
  3. Blaze Bayley – “Madness and Sorrow”
  4. The Offspring – “Killboy Powerhead”
  5. Curtis Mayfield – “Party Night”
  6. Alice Russell – “Living the Life of a Dreamer (Mr. Scruff Remix)”
  7. Rocket From The Crypt – “Normal Carpet Ride”
  8. Electric Light Orchestra – “Can’t Get It Out Of My Head”
  9. Smokey Robinson – “Being With You”
  10. Anthrax – “Imitation of Life”
  11. Buckcherry – “Broken Glass”
  12. Pink Floyd – “Wish You Were Here”
  13. Zombina & The Skeletones – “I Go Psycho!”
  14. The Clash – “Rock the Casbah”
  15. Screaming Trees – “Witness”
  16. Run DMC – “Can You Rock It Like This”
  17. Judas Priest – “Living After Midnight” 10366066_10152942352488714_5260061854670921576_n