Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub #2

Here we go again!  Quick recap:

I’ve bought loads of 7″ singles; some good, some bad, some ugly.  I decided to listen through the pile by having an evening playing them all in the order in which they were bought; oldest first, A side then B side.  This is the list of what I played.

As before, some of these songs are absolute gems – some are absolute stinkers.  Don’t judge me; this is already difficult enough for me to confess.

Yes, there’s another Sinitta song.  I know it’s terrible, but in my defence she’s in my record collection ‘cos she’s a babe.  Trust me, she’s well foxy on the cover of this single.  So, sorry about that one.

All in all, though, I feel this is a much less cheesy selection than last time.  There might even be a few cool choices.  And remember – this is all 7 inch vinyl only!

Now, shall we proceed with the embarrassment?

  1. Steve Winwood – “Higher Love” / “And I Go”
  2. Sinitta – “Hitchin’ a Ride” / “I’m On My Way”
  3. Madonna – “Papa Don’t Preach” / “Ain’t No Big Deal”
  4. Bob Dylan – “Is Your Love in Vain?” / “We Better Talk This Over”
  5. Peter Gabriel – “Games Without Frontiers” / “The Start” / “I Don’t Remember”
  6. George Harrison – ” My Sweet Lord” / “What a Life”
  7. Madness – “Shut Up” / “A Town with No Name”
  8. Toyah – “Thunder in the Mountains” / “Street Addict”
  9. The Jam – “Town Called Malice” / “Precious”
  10. The Beat – “Ackee 1-2-3” / “Monkey Murders”
  11. The Selecter – “Missing Words” / “Carry Go Bring Home”
  12. Blondie – “Denis (Denee)” / “Contact in Red Square” / “Kung Fu Girls”
  13. Herbie Hancock – “You Bet Your Love” / “Knee Deep”
  14. Stevie Wonder – “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)” / “Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterday”
  15. Roxy Music – “The Same Old Scene” / “Lover”

Any comments/abuse on the above are welcome, I’m getting used to it.  Otherwise, I hope you enjoy – will be back soon with more.

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?

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night #14

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night

The Queen’s Head, Mold

Friday 13th April 2018

It’s been a while since I last attended Bring Your Own Vinyl Night, and boy did I miss it.  It was great to be back in the Queen’s Head pub in Mold with the chaps from Halcyon Dreams and VOD Music to spin some records.

If you’ve missed previous episodes (where HAVE you been?), it works like this:  Each person gets a fifteen minute set to play whatever songs they like, but only on vinyl.  Simple as that.  Throw in some beer and some music based chat and you’re in for a great time.

As it was getting close to Record Store Day, Tom from Halcyon Dreams pitched a challenge for us would-be DJs: our set had to be comprised of artists who would be releasing music on the day.

No problem, I thought.  Here’s how my set went:

Killing Joke – The Wait

To begin, a thunderously loud track from the first Killing Joke album.  A riff so mighty that Metallica covered it for their $5.98 EP, this tune also has an incessant tribal beat under the choppy punk guitar.  A great song from an essential album, in my opinion.  I’ve been a fan of KJ for a long time and they’re still turning out screaming punk/metal/industrial noise to this day.

Johnny Cash – Folsom Prison Blues

Well you can’t go wrong with a bit of Johnny Cash, although I was surprised that this track really seemed to go down well with the pub crowd.  Regular readers will know how big a fan of Johnny Cash I am, he’s just unbeatable.  This classic song was taken from an old compilation I picked up at a record fair, crammed full of great tunes.  I’m glad to say this song seemed very popular!

L7 – Everglade

Another crushing riff, this time from the “Bricks Are Heavy” album from all-girl punk rock grungers L7.  My favourite song from that album, and one of my favourite bands from that era.  I saw the band live a couple of years ago at Download fest, they were amazing.  Don’t ever let anyone tell you that girls can’t rock – L7 were the best band of the day.

The Members – Sound of the Suburbs

And finally, an old punk rock classic on 45rpm courtesy of the Members.  This track also seemed popular!  I only have the 7 inch single of this song, so I could do with tracking down some more records by them.  Great fun.

So that wraps up another Bring Your Own Vinyl Night, and what a great night it was! My mixing skills need some sharpening up, but I really enjoyed myself.  Well done Tom and Colin, looking forward to another bash soon.  I know those guys are very busy, but the Vinyl Nights are always a treat.  See you 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.

PS – Great food in the Queen’s Head too.  £6 for a massive mixed grill!

Cats Playlist

Cats!  I love ’em!

They’re crazy, cute, playful and lovable.  They’re agile and graceful and beautiful.  But most of all, they are loyal little companions who, despite their reputation, are full of affection.

To honour my furry feline friends – past, present and future – I collated another one of my themed playlists.  This collection of songs all have a connection to cats in some way, and create an eclectic compilation that crosses categories.

You can compile a similar list, and I hope you and your cat enjoy!

  1. Mongo Santamaria – “El Pussy Cat”
  2. The Cure – “Love Cats”
  3. Johnny Cash – “Mean Eyed Cat”
  4. Barney Kessel – “Something for Cat”
  5. The Presidents of the United States of America – “Kitty”
  6. The James Taylor Quartet – “Faster Pussycat”
  7. Stray Cats – “Stray Cat Strut”
  8. Hanna-Barbera – “Top Cat (Main Title)”
  9. Howlin’ Wolf – “I Ain’t Superstitious”
  10. Tom Jones – “What’s Ne w Pussycat?”
  11. Marty Paich – “The Cat”

    My cat, Jenna

  12. Ted Nugent – “Cat Scratch Fever”
  13. Primus – “Tommy the Cat”
  14. Jacknife Lee – “Here Kitty Kitty”
  15. Rolling Stones – “Stray Cat Blues”
  16. Pete Moore & His Orchestra – “Cat Walk”
  17. Alice Cooper – “Gutter Cat vs. The Jets”
  18. Beyonce – “Kitty Kat”
  19. Hanna Barbera – “Top Cat (Underscore)”
  20. Devo – “Pink Pussy Cat”
  21. Danzig – “Wicked Pussycat”
  22. Celia Vaz/Friends from Rio – “Francisco Cat”
  23. Roni Size – “Mad Cat”
  24. R.E.M. – “Star Me Kitten”

Bonus points if you know why the Howlin’ Wolf track is included…

Sadly, I forgot to add Nina Simone’s “Feline Good” to the list…

Till next time: ciao, cat lovers!

Classic Albums #3

It’s been a long time since I wrote a Classic Albums post.  Nearly four years, sadly.  But now it’s time to get back to the heart of what this blog was supposed to be all about in the first place.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to my Classic Albums.

3. Metallica – Master of Puppets

Metallica’s third album, released in 1986, has long been regarded as the probably the best recording the band ever made.  Not only that, but one of the greatest metal albums of all time.  “Master of Puppets” is a monolithic album with an immense scope; hugely varied and still surprisingly experimental.

At the time I first heard this record, around 1987, I was listening to bands like Van Halen, Queen and Def Leppard.  A friend lent me a cassette of “Master of Puppets”; I was keen to try it out as there was such a buzz about this band.

Every time I hear the opening guitars of “Battery”, I’m transported back to that first listen.  And I remember how extreme it sounded to me at the time – I’d never heard anything this brutal before.

Following that was the title track, which was the most complex heavy composition I’d experienced.  A melodic instrumental section lulled me into a false sense of security before the relentless riff attack recommenced.

It was third track, “The Thing That Should Not Be”, that opened my eyes though.  A massive, monstrous riff that hooked me straight away.  That song was heavy and eerie all at once; it became a favourite that I still love and slowly, yet with growing confidence, I began to explore this album.

“Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” begins with a mellower introduction and as such it’s one of the easier songs to appreciate on first listen.  Repeated plays over the years has dulled the impact of this track, for me personally – though it surprises me how good it actually is when revisited. 

Side Two of the album Kicks off with “Disposable Heroes”, is an anti war song that is intense and powerful.  One of my favourite tracks.  Then there’s “Leper Messiah”, a monster riff that incorporates faster sections as it proceeds.

The absolute highlight of the album is “Orion”, a fantastic prog-metal instrumental spanning over eight minutes.  This epic track proves beyond all others just why Metallica were – and still are – light years ahead of other thrash bands.

Finally, the last track – “Damage, Inc.” – is a violent berzerker of a song that might just take your face off.

With “Master of Puppets”, Metallica challenged themselves and their fans, as they expanded their sound and manifesto further than ever before.  If you want fast thrash, you’ve got it here.  Want heavy, down-tuned Sabbath riffs?  You’ve got that too.  There are even melodic sections that are actually enjoyable – and still uncompromising.

Metallica were utterly fearless in writing and recording this album, unafraid to try new ideas and never rest on past glories.  It’s not as heavy to my ears as it was on first listen thirty years ago, but every new spin of this record still has the power to thrill.

“Master of Puppets” is a timeless metal masterpiece.  It’s one of the essential records in my collection; it’s status a massively influential rock album – metal or otherwise – is assured for all time.

Metallica – Master of Puppets (1986)

  1. Battery
  2. Master of Puppets
  3. The Thing That Should Not Be
  4. Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
  5. Disposable Heroes
  6. Leper Messiah
  7. Orion
  8. Damage, Inc.

Best tracks: The Thing That Should Not Be, Orion, Battery, Master of Puppets, Disposable Heroes.

Other cool points: seriously great cover – you also need the t-shirt.

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!

My Top 10 Christmas Songs

I’ve chickened out of writing this list for a long time.  That’s because there are so many great Christmas songs, that it’s a real struggle to narrow it down to just 10.  There are a few songs that simply have to be on the list, but I cringe thinking about those that didn’t make the it.

But I’ve been really ruthless, and narrowed it down to ten classic Christmas tunes that I love:

10. The Waitresses – “Christmas Wrapping”

A great, funky little pop number that always gets me dancing in the aisles doing my Christmas shopping.  I know nothing about this group other than this song, but this is sheer class.

9. Ramones – “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight)”

The Ramones hark back to their 70’s glam rock influences with this festive banger.  It’s great to have a really influential, cool band in the top 10 (much better than Wham! for example).

8. Showaddywaddy – “Hey Mr Christmas”

This Showaddywaddy song is criminally unknown these days.  It really is a classic bit of 70’s stomping/clapping/singalong fun.  Do yourself a favour and rediscover this gem now!

7. Dean Martin – “”I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm”

There are loads of awesome Christmas tunes from the master, Dean Martin (Baby It’s Cold Outside, Let It Snow!…, etc).  But this track is my top pick from Deano, if only for the wonderfully uplifting instrumental introduction.  You can argue if this tune is actually a Christmas song or not, but it’s on the indispensable “Ultra Lounge Christmas Cocktails” album, so I’m claiming it.

6. Wizzard –  “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday”

Another glam rock 70’s nugget.  Absolutely essential.  It seems like I’ve heard this song all my life – I probably have – and it never gets boring.  Christmas magic!

5. The Crystals – “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”

Timeless stuff from the wonderful “A Christmas Gift For You from Phil Spector” album.  You’ve heard this song on film soundtracks, everywhere – it instantly conjures up a vivid feeling of Christmas nostalgia.  Superb.

4. Darlene Love – “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”

Another track from the Phil Spector record (if you don’t own it, get it.  You need it).  The fantastic intro and Wall of Sound production are just perfect.  Sends a Christmassy shiver down your spine every time.

3. The Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl – “Fairytale of New York”

Nowadays it’s as traditional as Christmas pud.  “Fairytale of New York” has grown on me massively over the years – it’s now an essential part of the festivities.

2. Shakin’ Stevens – “Merry Christmas Everyone”

Instantly recognisable, the Welsh Elvis rocks out a total seasonal masterpiece.  Newsflash: Shaky is, was, and always will be COOL.  This song is crucial for any Crimbo fun.

So what’s number one in my festive all time top ten?  It can only be…

1. Slade – “Merry Christmas Everybody”

Forget the Coca Cola truck, the official start of the Christmas (not “holiday”) season is when you first hear Noddy bellow “It’s Chriiisstmaaaaasss!”  In the 1970’s, Christmas was great.  This is the sound of every family get together from then and ever since.  Unbeatable.

There you go – my Top 10 Christmas songs.  I may need to re-visit this next year, maybe do a top 20 – just to cover off a few of the great songs that didn’t make this list.

Though there’s no way that East fucking 17 will ever get in here.

Merry Christmas to all my readers! 

Chester Vinyl Night

Chester Vinyl Night

The Lock Keeper, Chester

Friday 7th October 2016

So the two Bens – Ben the Swede and Coben – decided to stage a vinyl night in Chester.  Not to detract from the great night in Mold – but living in Chester they were keen to see how it would go.  There had been plenty of feedback from Chester locals who would love to try out the concept and play a few of their own records whilst having a few beers.

After some research, the Lock Keeper pub near the canal, just down Frodsham Street, was selected as the ideal venue.  The upstairs function room was ideal, with loads of space and a DJ area at the back.  The pub itself offered some fine beers at reasonable prices, so it was all set.

The idea was the same, borrowed from Halcyon Dreams and VOD: bring along a few records, have a 15 minute set to play whatever you like – vinyl only.

I volunteered to do my set early on, whilst waiting for the punters to arrive.  Thus following on from The Swede’s opening repertoire, it was my turn.  Playing to an audience of six people.

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Bad Moon Rising

I’d planned on playing the superior, and slightly less well known, “Born on the Bayou” by CCR as my first song.  However I mixed up Side 1 track 2 with side 2 track 2, and we got this evergreen classic instead.  No major mishap, “Bad Moon Rising” is a fantastic song anyway.  Always reminds me of “An American Werewolf in London”.

The Stupids – Mega Zombie

This is from one of the first records I ever owned, the “Frankfurter – Eat EP” by UK hardcore punk band The Stupids.  They were at the forefront of late eighties skate rock, and sound tracked many a days skateboarding in my youth.  This sublime song is just over one minute in length, with the words “Mega Zombie” repeated 27 times.  Very fast and a true challenge to prepare the next track in time!

The Ohio Players – Fopp

Luckily I just made it, and dropped the needle on this magnificent chunk of seventies funk.  The song first came to my attention via the Soundgarden cover, eventually I picked up a CD “Best of” compilation (also featuring “Love Rollercoaster”, as covered by RHCP).  Not long ago I added the Ohio Players album “Honey” to my vinyl collection – which both songs are taken from.  This is a solid piece of funk rock with a cool groove. op

Tone Loc – Loc’ed After Dark

I wanted to play some tunes to show case some variety, and felt that a bit of old school hip hop would be nice.  “Loc’ed After Dark” is the B-side from the “Wild Thing” 12 inch single.  I chose it as again, there’s a nice funky beat.  Got me strutting my stuff in the DJ booth, anyway.

So alas, my set was over – with still only six people in the audience.  Never mind, the evening picked up and soon the function room was full.  I even got to play a couple of tracks again at the end of the night to a fuller crowd!

The Chester Vinyl Night was a great success, with a room full of people enjoying the music and drinks.  There was a picture quiz which proved popular, and a wide range of tunes spanning several genres – from dub to hip hop to classic rock.  There was even a Phil Collins tribute section…

There will be more Vinyl Nights at the Lock Keeper soon.  Well done to Ben and Ben for organising the evening – looking forward to more of the same soon!

The Chester Vinyl Night has a Facebook page, click here.

You can also find The Lock Keeper on Facebook here.

Thanks to Halcyon Dreams and VOD Music for help and advice.

vinyl-poster

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

Songs of the Week 25.09.2016

This week’s Songs of the Week were all heard on vinyl only.  Some were from records I had for my birthday, others I bought with birthday money.

  1. Generation X – Valley of the Dolls
  2. Black Sabbath – N.I.B.
  3. The Beatles – Tomorrow Never Knows
  4. Rolling Stones – Ventilator Blues
  5. Mountain – Mississippi Queen