Spacetrucker – Smooth Orbit Album Review

Spacetrucker – Smooth Orbit

Self released, Dewar PR

Release Date: 17/08/2018

Running Time: 51 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

9.5/10

“Have a listen to Spacetrucker!  I think you’ll like them,” came the recommendation from Rick at Ever Metal HQ.  So I did.  And he was right – the “Smooth Orbit” album is one of the most exciting listens I’ve had for a long, long time.

These psychedelic space monkeys have created a superb stoner rock classic that’s right up my space lane.   Throw in some fuzzy grunge and classic rock and Spacetrucker have achieved the almost impossible: put a huge, acid-warped grin on my ancient, grumbly mug.

First track “Sample of a Sample” warms the jets up nicely for take-off with a trippy lead and some bongos.  Yes, bongos!  Past the two-minute mark it erupts into a face-melter of a riff that had my cranium nodding like an Easter Island statue after some herbal refreshment.

Mike Owen (guitar/vocals), Rob Wagoner (bass/vocals) and Del Toro (drums) seem to be able to magically conjure up the grooves with uncanny ease.  “Meat Wagon” is another brilliant track with a pulsating, infectious riff.

In true lazy journo style (hey, I’ve had a few), Spacetrucker combine the stoner slouch of Fu Manchu and early QOTSA with classic Sabbath and Purple, mixing in some Mudhoney and Melvins fuzzy sludge on the way.  Perfect, in other words.  If any of those bands get your hyper drive firing, this is for you.

There are some Iommi-esque shorter numbers and experimental sounds that add a further dimension to the proceedings, constantly keeping the listener on their toes.  “Vanishing Point, Science of Us” has an almost Nirvana Unplugged vibe before bursting into a crushing rocker.  This is followed by another monster riff with “Pulling Teeth”.

Plus the final track, “Lost in the Sauce”, is over ten minutes long!  An extended jam floats in and builds beautifully, never rushing but enticing the listener along on every step.

This might not be the most critical review I’ve composed, but I don’t care.  “Smooth Orbit” is a triumph of an album and I love it.  The only reason it didn’t get ten out of ten is it needs more references to skateboards and 1970s muscle cars.  Other than that, I need a vinyl version, please.

If any of the above references to sub-genre labels and other bands resonates with you, I urge you do a Boba Fett and track this album down now.

All of this “space trucking” talk reminds me my days working with Deep Purple back in the early seventies.  I was working as the band’s roadie/driver when one time, in the middle of the night in the Arizona desert, we got a flat.  I left the Purps partying in the back whilst I went out in to the freezing, dusty highway to change the tire.  I was distracted for a moment, and I swear bling that I saw several lights zipping about in the sky at unbelievable speeds.  “UFOs!” I thought.

I rushed back onto the bus and dragged the band out to take look (all except Roger Glover, who was busy knitting).  Except when we got outside, the lights had vanished.  The Purps weren’t amused and blamed it on me overindulging in peyote.  Gillan was very gentlemanly about it all and even gave me a hand with the tyre.  Blackmore had a tantrum about the delay and docked me a day’s pay.  The bastard.

 

This review appeared on the Ever Metal website and is reproduced here for your enjoyment.  Click here to visit the Ever Metal website.

Scorpion Child – Gig Review

Scorpion Child + Jared James Nichols + The Bad Flowers

Tuesday 1st November 2016

The Live Rooms, Chester

Almost a year to the day since I last saw the mighty Scorpion Child rocking out, and in the same venue too.  This time the crowd numbers are down, but hell – it was a bleak Tuesday evening.  No excuse though – people should have been at the Live Rooms for this gig.

I just managed to catch the end of the first set, by UK band The Bad Flowers.  This three piece were all power and chunky riffs – think Motorhead menace with some ZZ Top rock in there.  Very appetising and well worth keeping an eye on.

Next up was Jared James Nichols, with his two bandmates, bringing us our second three piece of the night.  This American band play a fine blend of bluesy hard rock, delivered with a confident, killer attack.  Mountain were a fair comparison – they rocked out a crunching “Mississippi Queen” just to prove it.  Quality entertainment with a boogie groove!

The last time I saw Scorpion Child, they were here on tour with Crobot (another superb band).  Now with their second album – the extremely brilliant Acid Roulette – firmly under their belt, I was keen to witness these new rock’n’roll superstars-to-be again.

Scorpion Child deliver music that is well schooled in the classics of the past – Zeppelin, Sabbath, Purple.  And like those bands they’re able to deliver monster rockers like “Liqour” and “She Sings, I Kill” along with some superbly epic moments that build beautifully (“Survives” and “Acid Roulette”).

There’s also a thinly disguised darkness about the bands sound, not exactly doomy but much more in the vein of 80’s bands like the Mission and the Sisters of Mercy.  At their most bombastic, Scorpion Child are reminiscent of The Cult (from whence they claimed their name).  Apologies for endless musical comparisons – but this band really have some classic style that merits a bigger fan base.  Throw in some Danzig and Soundgarden and you’ve got a list of some of my favourite bands.

A great deal of the set is from the new album, showing justified confidence on the bands part.  Songs like “My Woman in Black” and “I Might Be Your Man” are thundering hard rock compositions that are classics in the making.

A great gig, shame about the low attendance (and the lack of merch!) – but brilliantly infectious modern hard rock.  I’m off for fish’n’chips.

The Scorpion Child website is here.

You can find Scorpion Child, Jared James Nichols and the Bad Flowers on Facebook.

The Live Rooms website is here.

 scorpion-child

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night #6

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night

Queen’s Head, Mold

Friday 22nd January 2016

The first Bring Your Own Vinyl Night of 2016 brought out fantastic tunes old and new. Regardless of genre, all were welcome to spin their records for the enjoyment of the gathered vinyl enthusiasts.

Held in the Queen’s Head pub in Mold, North Wales, the idea is simple.  Each participant gets a fifteen minute slot to play whatever they like, so long as it’s on vinyl.  No other format permitted.

Again my selection for this evening had a theme, though a sad one.  Inspired by the loss of many musical heroes recently, my songs were selected as a tribute to some of those musicians who had passed away.

My old mucker Adam was first up from our gang.  He’d got to the pub early and had some food, which I’m told was very good.  Here’s his set:

  • Aerosmith – Rocking Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu
  • The Backbeat Band – Money
  • David Bowie – Moonage Daydream
  • Neil – Hole in My Shoe
  • Grandmaster Flash & Melle Mel – White Lines

Five great songs, awesome set.  Some of the other punters had a go, then it was my turn on the wheels of steel.

Stone Temple Pilots – Plush

Taken from the first Stone Temple Pilots record, “Core”, this song is my favourite track on the album.  “Plush” is a big, epic song that always reminded me of Led Zeppelin.  A great track to start the set off, though as it’s over five minutes long it meant that my set would be three songs rather than the usual four.  No problem.  Played in memory of STP singer Scott Weiland who died in December 2015.

Motorhead – Killed by Death

At the last Bring Your Own Vinyl Night, I played “Ace of Spades” by Motorhead as drummer Phil Taylor had passed away.  Sadly Lemmy, Motorhead main man and all round rock legend, was to follow on 28th December 2015.  After “Ace of Spades”, the next best Motorhead tune is “Killed By Death”, so I gave this classic a spin.  Taken from the best of compilation “No Remorse”, which I bought when I was 16 as it had both of the aforementioned tracks on it.  Every home should have one!

David Bowie – Heroes

And finally a Bowie song, to remember this great artist.  I chose “Heroes” as it’s my favourite Bowie song, grand and optimistic with a tinge of melancholy.  Truly magnificent.  The track I played was the single edit, taken from the “Best of Bowie” album, which I picked up a couple of years ago in a charity shop.  There were several songs I could have picked from several albums I own, all brilliant tunes. Bowie best of

After three songs I was running out of time for my fifteen minute slot and decided to call it quits.  I had the Eagles “Take It Easy” in reserve, to commemorate the passing of Glen Frey, but I was running out of time.  Plus Bowie’s “Heroes” was a perfect track to end on.

So Ben the Swede took to the stage after me, armed with just three records.  He’s moving house, you see ( a real house, not a cardboard box) – and most of his stuff is in storage at the moment.  Despite limited resources, Ben dropped a set of bangers.

  • Megadeth – Tornado of Souls
  • Elton John – Grey Seal
  • Deep Purple – Never Before

A nice mix there, from Megadeth to Elton John!

There you have it – another night of great tunes and good company at the Queen’s Head.  I even had a few requests for songs from the audience, though couldn’t oblige as that’s not what vinyl night is all about!  Thanks to everyone concerned.

Hope to see you there next time!

The Halcyon Dreams blogspot is here.

The Halcyon Dreams mixcloud page is here.

The Halcyon Dreams Facebook page is here.

R.I.P. David Bowie

Bowie

David Bowie

08.01.1947 – 10.01.2016

Unbelievable that my second blog post of 2016 is another in tribute to a musical hero who is no longer with us.

The recent passing of David Bowie caught us all off guard; I for one thought it was some cruel internet prank at first.  Not so – a quick trawl of the internet confirmed the sad news.

Back around 1990, my uncle let me borrow a bunch of records from his collection – an absolute buzz for a music obsessive like me.  There were records by Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, The Stranglers, Devo and more.  I saw a copy of “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars”, and asked if I could borrow that too.  He kindly agreed and I made off with my temporary haul.

Right from the start, listening to the “Ziggy Stardust” album was something revolutionary.  I knew I was hearing something special.

The reason I’d wanted to become more acquainted with Bowie’s work was the high regard some of my other favourite bands held him in, mostly due to his friendship and support of Iggy Pop.  I was already a massive Stooges fan.

From “Ziggy Stardust” I continued exploring David Bowie’s considerable catalogue.  Some songs were instants classics, some challenged me.  All of it was worthwhile taking the time to investigate: classics from “Hunky Dory” and “Low” being favourites.  All of those songs inspired me, and gave insight into how many artists of different genres had been inspired by his work.

In fact, the greatest legacy that Bowie’s work has left, for me at least, was that constant pioneering exploration.  I was encouraged to expand my musical horizons and accompany Bowie on journeys into different sonic territories.  It’s thanks to that spirit that I have the wide ranging taste in music that I have today.

Thank you, David Bowie, for taking us on your adventures in sound.  I will continue to admire and study your legacy for years to come.

Crobot/Scorpion Child/Buffalo Summer – Gig Review

Crobot + Scorpion Child + Buffalo Summer 

Wednesday 11th November 2015

The Live Rooms, Chester

Wednesday night, but that doesn’t stop me.  When there is a need to rock, I rock.  I ain’t no weekend greaser.

The crowd in the Live Rooms was a healthy size, and quite rightly too.  Three bands for a tenner – and all of them up and coming hard rock superstars.  It’s a night of 21st century music that has one foot in 70’s classic rock, though striding confidently in to the modern realm.

Up first were Buffalo Summer, four lads from South Wales (yay!) who command the stage like seasoned masters.  Their mix of classic Free and Southern Skynyrd boogie is enhanced with some Sonic Temple era Cult swagger.  Powerful and melodic with a rough edge, their songs are anthemic but still have guts.  “Down to the River” was just one highlight in a terrific set, but take my word for it and check ’em out for yourself.

Next up were Scorpion Child, all the way from Texas.  Their version of classic rock was part Zep deep fried in Purple, and all tasty goodness.  These guys go for epic and do not compromise.  The songs build with purpose and create huge sonic vistas that hint at their geographic origin.  “Liqour”, “Kings Highway” and “Antioch” are all songs that capture Scorpion Child’s ability to meld molten riffs with a truly grand vision.  Fantastic.

Our final band of the night were Crobot, who erupt on the stage with electrified enthusiasm.  Their first album, “Something Supernatural”, is awesome – but the songs have even more groove live; Crobot are hugely powerful, with riffs that are simply titanic.  There are tons of highlights, “Skull of Geronimo”, “The Necromancer” and “Chupacabra” being just a few.  If you dig Clutch or Wolfmother, welcome to your new favourite band.  You need Crobot in your life sooner rather than later!

Reporting from the front lines, I’m happy to say that rock – classic, heavy, groovy rock – is alive and well.  Do not hide, do not run for cover – get out there and catch Crobot, Scorpion Child and Buffalo Summer now!

The Live Rooms website is here.

You can follow Crobot, Scorpion Child and Buffalo Summer on Twitter.  Get on it, you need to be ready.

crobot-scorpion-child-uk-tour

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night #2

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night

Queen’s Head, Mold

Friday 29th May 2015

OK, you know the drill – it’s Bring Your Own Vinyl Night at the Queen’s Head pub in Mold.  It’s the same great deal as last time – everyone gets a fifteen minute slot to play whatever they want, as long as it’s vinyl.  Old or new, obvious or strange – any genre you like, bring along those wax platters and give them a spin.

As previous, it was a welcoming atmosphere in the pub, and it was great to hear the music played.  There’s always some old favourites, as well as a few that make you scratch your head, then go away determined to explore that sound more.

We missed the last Vinyl Night, the gang and me, but this time we came fully stocked and prepared.  So after a few beers, here’s what my set-list looked like:

Nirvana – Do You Love Me

This is a cover by the Seattle Grunge mega lords of a KISS tune, found on the Hard to Believe tribute album.  This record featured several then-underground, independent punk rock groups covering KISS songs.  Also on this disc you’ll hear such bands as the Melvins, All and the Hard-Ons (I love ’em all) – but it’s Kurt Cobain’s crew that are the novelty factor here.  Pre-dating Nevermind, this isn’t the best Nirvana song (not by a long way) but it’s kinda cool to hear them cover some classic glam rock.  I picked this up fairly recently at a Manchester jumble sale; I played it ‘cos it’s rare (apparently) and unexpected (very).

Butthole Surfers – The Wooden Song

No, I didn’t play this song because of the shock/comedy nature of the band’s name.  I played because the album Independent Worm Saloon, which birthed this tune, is a work of under-appreciated genius.  The album roams from full-on punk noise; to psychedelic eruptions; to folky, melodious charm.  The Wooden Song   fits in the last category, with a nice added dose of weird.

Jimi Hendrix Experience – The Stars That Play with Laughing Sam’s Dice

Taken from the Smash Hits album which I picked up on reissue around 1990.  This song was always a favourite, I chose to play it as it’s a different (and better) mix than the one found on the South Saturn Delta CD.  I love how the song’s funky little riff rolls on, as Jimi’s voice and a wall of guitar noise threaten to throw the whole thing overboard.  Beautiful chaos.

Black Sabbath – Planet Caravan

This is one of my late at night, chill-out jams.  You can find this track on Paranoid.  I chose it to showcase just how great Black Sabbath were, the variety and depth of composition going far beyond what the trendy elite give them credit for.  A mellow jazz trip into outer space, this song elegantly portrays the grandeur of the mighty Sabbath.  ALL HAIL SABBATH.

So that was it from me.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself, hope others liked it too.  I was more confident this time with the turntables and felt that the whole experience was a step up from my previous effort.

Next up was Adam, with some gems from his ever expanding vinyl collection.  It was Adam’s first tenure on the decks, he mastered it like a pro:

  • Guns’n’Roses – Bad Obsession
  • Prodigy – Poison
  • Beach Boys – God Only Knows

The final member of our crew was Ben the Swede, who travelled from far off Chester with his lady Janice to play some vinyl.  Ben went for a Ritchie Blackmore theme with his choices, and damn fine they were:

  • Rainbow – Jealous Lover
  • Glen Hughes and Chad Smith – Maybe I’m a Leo
  • Deep Purple – You Can’t Do It Right By The One You Love

Thank you and good night – till the next Bring Your Own Vinyl Night!

The Halcyon Dreams blog is here, where you can find listed (very helpfully) all the songs played on the night.

The Halcyon Dreams Facebook page is herevinyl3

Dark Shadows Playlist

Dark Shadows Soundtrack – Playlist

Recently I posted my Hallowe’en Horror Fest mini-review of the film Dark Shadows.  It’s a great film from Tim Burton, in my opinion.  One of the best things about that movie is the soundtrack.

The film is set in 1972, so the soundtrack consists of songs from that era.  Contrasting heavy rock, pop and a bit of soul, there are a few cuts that fit the Gothic mood; and others that are just cool.

I put together this playlist – utilising songs from my collection – meaning I didn’t need to buy the soundtrack album…

1. The Moody Blues – “Nights in White Satin”

This classic soundtracks the opening of Dark Shadows, chronicling Victoria’s journey to Collinwood Manor.  Sets up a moody(!) atmosphere.

2. Iggy Pop & The Stooges – “I’m Sick Of You”

I love it when Iggy gets some respect.  Cool tune, as heard in Carolyn’s room.

3. Donovan – “Season of the Witch”

Carolyn Stoddard plays this on vinyl.  Wish I had this on wax.  A Hallowe’en necessity.

4. Deep Purple – “Highway Star”

I can’t remember where this song appears in the movie.  It’s in there though, apparently.  One of the must-have Deep Purple tracks, find it on “Machine Head”.  Or any “Best of”, for that matter.

5. Curtis Mayfield – “Superfly”

Barnabas takes a walk through Collinsport, soundtracked with this mighty slab of Mayfield funk.  Not an obvious vampire tune, but so right for the era.

6. The Carpenters – “Top of the World”

“Reveal yourself, tiny songstress!”

7. Elton John – “Crocodile Rock”

Off to the pub we go, we might bump into Christopher Lee…

8. Black Sabbath – “Paranoid”

It’s the early 70’s.  It’s a dark film.  It needs, no – demands – Sabbath.  Timeless genius from the originators of all that is dark and heavy.  On “Paranoid”, of course.

9. Barry White – “You’re the First, the Last, My Everything”

The Love Machine’s tune is an apt choice for the scene it appears in.  What a song!

10. T.Rex – “Get It On”

So evocative of the time, a welcome airing for this track in the movie.

11. Alice Cooper – “No More Mr Nice Guy”

12. Alice Cooper – “The Ballad of Dwight Fry”

A special mention here for Alice Cooper, who has a cameo role as himself in 1972.  Two classic Coop songs are on this soundtrack.  “The Ballad of Dwight Fry” is possibly my favourite song ever from Alice, so it was great to hear it in the movie.

There you go, twelve songs and 54 minutes of music.  If Tim Burton chose these songs, he has great taste.  Except for that awful Killers song on the end credits.

I guess I’m a bit obsessed with this this film…

You can read my review here.

Random Bike Ride Playlist

First bike ride of the year this afternoon.  Just a short one to check the gear still works.  Whilst out on my bicycle, I hit shuffle on the ipod and this is what I got:

  1. Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Police Station”
  2. The Damned – “She”
  3. Deep Purple – “Hey Joe”
  4. Johnny Cash – “Send a Picture of Mother”
  5. Zombina & the Skeletones – “The Fragile Heart”
  6. Tommy James & the Shondells – “I Think We’re Alone Now”
  7. UK Subs – “Teenage”
  8. Nashville Pussy – “Nutbush City Limits”
  9. DJ Format – “2,3.. scrape”
  10. Iggy Pop – “Starry Night”
  11. The Cult – “Tiger in the Sun”
  12. Flogging Molly – “The Rare Ould Times”
  13. Nirvana – “Been a Son”

With apologies to Matt Barnes – ripping you off a bit here, but I did warn you.

Bike riding t-shirt option for today – Motorhead