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:
Mudhoney – “Warning” / Meat Puppets – “One of These Days”
Cockney Rejects – “The Greatest Cockney Rip Off” / “Hate of the City”
Metallica – “The Unforgiven” / “Killing Time”
The Shipbuilders – “Silk Road” / “La Fee Verte”
Huey Lewis & The News – “Stuck With You” / “Don’t Ever Tell Me That You Love Me”
The Archies – “Sugar, Sugar” / “Melody Hill”
Boney M – “Painter Man” / “He Was a Steppenwolf”
Twiggy – “Falling Angel” / “Virginia (And the Circus Side Show)”
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!
Python Lee Jackson – “In a Broken Dream” / “Boogie Woogie Joe”
Boom! What a great collection. My favourite Who song, Thin Lizzy’s best (?), BTO and Free. That Knack song is, of course, a classic – as is the Cheap Trick track. All were from a record fair (remember those?) if I recall correctly.
That Faith No More song is their very worst, by an otherwise spectacular band. I’m no Phil Collins fan really, but that track is pretty good, admit it. Throw in Flying Lizards and The Beach Boys and you’ve got a helluva playlist. And if you don’t love “Camouflage” there must be something wrong with you.
The Chris Cornell was a Record Store Day special which I picked up from VOD records in Mold. Great shop who also organised the record fair I mentioned above. Check them out here.
In February last year, I interviewed Chester based punk/grunge band Ryuko at Pentre Fest. Due to numerous unavoidable issues – not least this blasted pandemic – the piece was unfinished till recently. Not long ago, this post finally appeared on Ever Metal, and I thought I’d republish it here too. Enjoy!
“Grandpa, what’s a gig?”
“Well son, a gig was what we used to call a band playing live music, in front of an audience.”
“What, people watching musicians play their instruments? Crazy!”
“I know it seems like a strange idea to you youngsters, but it used to be a fantastic experience. Actually being able to gather with friends and strangers to enjoy hearing music. It was another world.”
That’s what the situation seems like right now: no gigs, no gatherings for entertainment – the old days sometimes feel like a lifetime ago. At least it seemed a whole different world back in February 2020, before the pandemic, when I caught up with Chester based band Ryuko at Pentre Fest.
The three piece – comprising The Bobfather (guitars/vocals), Captain Andy (bass) and MattMan (drums) were something of an anomaly at the metal-centric Pentre Fest. Not that Ryuko don’t rock out, but their brand of punky, alternative rock was a little different from the other bands on show. I found their style of honest, yet far from pretentious rock’n’roll refreshing and it added a vital tone to the proceedings.
Post gig, I caught up with the band to pose some questions and contemplate the meaning of life.
First off, the cliched yet crucial discussion on influences:
Bob: It’s weird, ‘cos we’ve got influences from all over. If you listen to one of our sets, it has stages: it starts off punky, then it goes alternative rock. Then it goes a little metal/grungy, then back to punk at the end.
Matt: Drop D then back to punk! I’m a huge fan of Motorhead and Metallica, the list goes on, so me being the drummer, I was always doing these thrash beats. To go from that to stepping into this, this was more fun to me. I really enjoy myself when I’m behind the kit with these guys.
Bob: When I write the songs, I listen to quite a broad variety of music, so I think that becomes apparent in my songs. I don’t like to write the same song twice. As far as when I started out, I would say when I was a teenager, I first started listening to Nirvana, Carter USM. I also drew influences from a lot of electro – The Prodigy and stuff like that – so sometimes I’d try and work out how to play dance songs on a guitar. And then that would give me the influence to write more interesting songs. I like to try and fuse a bunch of different genres together, make it more interesting.
Andy: I listen to a lot of Neil Young, I think he’s a very diverse artist. He’s done folk, he’s also done electric stuff.
How do you promote yourselves?
Matt: I’m more into social media than these guys are. We’re promoting ourselves on Facebook, we’re gonna make a new YouTube account. That’s kind of going up and down at the moment…
Bob: We don’t know how to work it!
Where does the name Ryuko come from?
Bob: I’m really into anime and all things Japanese, Japanese music… At the time I was watching an anime called Kill la Kill. The main character is called Ryuko Matoi and I just thought it was a really cool name. Some really fun facts: Ryuko is one of the least popular names in Japan. It basically means “rebirth”, start over. So I thought, we’re starting again, it’s a really cool name.
Andy: Well it’s not a cool name in Japan, is it?
Bob: It’s cool to me! I think it’s cool!
Andy: I do wish we’d chosen a name that’s easier to spell and pronounce.
Bob: People can never say it.
Your cover of the Madness classic “Baggy Trousers” tonight was a surprising choice, but great!
Matt: We decided to spruce that up to make it ours. The original is completely different to how I play it, I add extra little bits just to make it more funky.
Do you feel you’ve got the right band dynamic between the three of you?
Bob: We’re pretty good as we are. More people add more complications cos you’ve got to think – are they free; do they drive, are they going to be available…
Matt: I’ve got a son, he’s 9, we discuss upcoming gigs before we agree to it. If I’ve got my son and he comes along with us, if he’s allowed in the venue we play – he’s got his little ear defenders, he just sits in the corner and watches us or plays his game.
Bob: I’ve got three jobs…
Sounds like a positive environment to work in.
It’s got to be positive, if it’s not it just doesn’t work. If no-one’s happy, nothing gets done.
So, what’s next? What are your plans?
Bob: World domination! One step at a time…
Andy: We’ve been working on re-doing our EP, we’ve been recording on and off. Recording, playing as many gigs as we can.
And there you have it: an enjoyable chat with the gentlemen of Ryuko. Make sure you check them out live, as and when we can return to the experience of live music. If grungy, punky alt rock with some metallic crunch is your thing, then Ryuko will be just the antidote you need in these dreary times.
With apologies to Ryuko, who have waited months for this interview to see the light of day.
Check out Ryuko on Bandcamp and Facebook. Plus you can follow this link to listen to the interview on YouTube – yes, you can admire my fantastic interviewing skills for real!
I’m sure everyone who was there will agree that this year’s Pentre Fest was the best yet. The bands were fantastic; the were more people; the vibe was magnificent.
Held at McLean’s in Pentre, Deeside, North Wales, this festival features underground, unsigned rock and metal from near and far.
I attended the full two days this year, and saw most of the acts performing. I only wrote up a few though, so if you want to read the full review, visit the Ever Metal website here.
There were many highlights. Witchtripper had been on my “must see” list for a while – they didn’t disappoint. Old favourites Impavidus and Lullaby for a Unicorn were superb as always. Cry for Mercy, Stormrider and Womenowar were some of the newly viewed bands that I was very impressed by.
The whole weekend was unmissable and I was genuinely sad when it was all over. A brilliant, positive experience – well done to Fozzy, Beany, Frank and all the McLean’s staff.
You have to be there next year!
Ryuko presented a couple of surprises on Friday night’s acoustic stage. First off, they were fully plugged in and electric. Second, they play more of an alternative rock sound, which was something of a contrast to the majority of other Pentre Fest bands. Readers may not be aware, though, that I am in fact King of Grunge, with my 90’s credentials well proven. Ryuko’s set included some melody and even jangly pop along with heavier riffs, which was an enjoyable diversion in a Dinosaur Jr/Nirvana style. Well performed, Ryuko just need to test their audience further and throw in additional surprises in either a “Negative Creep” or “About a Girl” vein.
Rhiannon and Rachel
Sadly Pentre Fest suffered a few casualties this year. One such example was on the acoustic stage, where half of duo Rhiannon and Rachel was hospitalised and (obviously) unable to perform. But the show must go on: and Rhiannon performed a short but enjoyable set on the acoustic stage. Admittedly out of her comfort zone, playing guitar as well as singing, she soldiered on and won plaudits for her effort. Only a few minor mistakes were noticed – and easily forgiven. A beautiful singing voice that even managed to add a ghostly, ethereal sheen to a cover of Michael Jackson’s “Bad” – making it sound good for the first time ever.
If the connection between metal and outlaw country isn’t obvious to any readers, I can only pity you. I’ve never witnessed Mike West before, but his amalgamation of southern rock, dusty country and swampy blues was a delight to my old whiskey-soaked soul. Mike delivers his songs with a hard rockin’ swagger, as if he’s just busted out of Tombstone jail and is riding across the plains, lamenting women and fortunes lost. A great voice and an outstanding presence, Mike is one to catch when you can. Has anyone done a “Wild West” gag yet? If not, there’s a headline for us there!
On the main stage, OMV entered dressed like a bunch of West Coast gangsters in masks and bandanas. Introduced as “hardcore street metal”, these guys definitely showed some great musical skills and energy. Somewhere between Bodycount, Suicidal Tendencies and Biohazard is where I’d stack them. Either way, OMV delivered some brutal songs and bounced around with massive crossover riffs. OMV were very entertaining, although hugely confrontational onstage – I wasn’t sure if they actually were going to pistol whip the audience into submission. The music has enough intensity and power to speak for itself.
A really fantastic set was delivered by Mr Luke Appleton on the acoustic stage. In truth, this was a duo performance with Rishi Mehta (of Babylon Fire) playing too, and it was a genuine highlight of Pentre Fest 2020. Dubbed “acoustic metal”, the songs were both suitably laidback, yet delivered with a metal edge. Expertly performed, we had tunes from Luke’s solo “Snake Eyes” project, plus of course some Iced Earth and Absolva numbers. Not to mention a bit of Dio and Tenacious D for good measure! A real class act in every sense of the word, and both very talented and down-to-earth gentlemen.
Son of Boar
They have a cool name, and they looked pretty cool on stage in matching denim battle-vests. And from the very first notes of the bass rumbling on the very first song, I had a feeling that Son of Boar would be something special. I wasn’t wrong. These Bradford bruisers have everything in spades: they’re unfeasibly heavy; they have slow, doomy riffs with a Sabbath-like infectiousness; they have a sludgy, swampy groove that can pack an aggressive punk punch. The best band of Pentre Fest 2020 as far as I was concerned, Son of Boar were superb. I even bought a t-shirt.
Time for another review I wrote for Ever Metal, which you can now read at the Virtual Hot Tub:
Wizard Rifle – Wizard Rifle
Release date: 30/08/2019
Running Time: 45 mins
Review by: Alun Jones
Right, about time I got back to business with these album reviews for my pals at Ever Metal. But how do you define the indefinable? ‘Cos that’s basically the issue I’ve had with this review (not writer’s block, honest). Comparing Wizard Rifle to other bands in myopic, lazy journo style just doesn’t seem to cut it with these guys.
There’s too much going on with Wizard Rifle’s self-titled album to accurately pin down a clumsy similarity to someone else. It’s a mixture of loud, obnoxious metal, post rock, screamy hardcore punk and grungy sludge; with waves of psychedelic beauty tying it together.
Despite the unholy wall of noise that the band produce there are just two of them – guitarist/vocalist Max Dameron and drummer/vocalist Sam Ford. That’s a hell of a racket for just two people. They’re not short of ideas either, as the genre blending demonstrates. Maybe that’s an advantage of just two minds, rather than several – Dameron and Ford display some ingenious telepathy weaving their creations together.
Loads of energy too – “Rocket to Hell” (great title) is a glorious, shouty opener, and “Caveman Waltz” is a possible contender for Riff of the Year. It chugs like a drug fuelled locomotive trying to jump the Grand Canyon.
There are only five songs on this record, but as none of them are under seven minutes in length, there’s plenty of value for money. The guys have learnt to expand a song and explore its possibilities in a way that keeps the ear engaged. Like on the 12 minute epic “Funeral of the Sun”, which stretches out hypnotically but loses none of its heavy intensity.
Wizard Rifle are from the Portland, Oregon area – which as it’s the Pacific North West, must surely be Big Foot country. So, I’m gonna coin a lazy journo phrase and label this sound Big Foot Rock. Remember, you read it here first. And yes, when this band are huge and Big Foot Rock takes over Western Civilization, I’ll be claiming the royalties for inventing that label.
Big Foot Rock T-shirt, sir? That’ll be £19.99. “Now That’s What I Call Bigfoot Rock, Vol 1” vinyl compilation? Just £27.99. Can I change a fifty? Oh, keep the change? Thank you very much.
“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.
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!
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.
Rocket From The Crypt – “Pushed”
Audioslave – “Cochise”
Big Chief – “Lion’s Mouth”
Metallica – “Die Die My Darling”
Foo Fighters – “The Pretender”
Rage Against the Machine – “Guerrilla Radio”
Anthrax – “Only”
Corrosion of Conformity – “Heaven’s Not Overflowing”
Pantera – “Fucking Hostile”
The Cult – “Rise”
Probot – “Shake Your Blood”
Suicidal Tendencies – “War Inside My Head”
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!!!
A warm welcome back to Bring Your Own Vinyl Night, at the Queens Head pub in Mold, North Wales. It’s been a while since the last event, so I had plenty of ideas for what to play. Events would alter those plans somewhat, however…
To recap, Bring Your Own Vinyl Night is exactly what it says on the tin: you bring along some records, and get a fifteen minutes slot to play whatever you like.
I’d originally planned an entirely different set list, but following the tragic news of Chris Cornell’s passing, I developed a tribute set instead. As one of my favourite ever musicians, it wouldn’t have been right not to.
My set went as follows:
Temple of the Dog – Hunger Strike
Mother Love Bone were primed to be next big thing in rock; sadly the death of their singer Andrew Wood from a heroin overdose put an end to that. The Temple of the Dog album came about as a tribute to Wood, from his band mates Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament, and his friend Chris Cornell. Joining them were Soundgarden drummer Matt Cameron and guitarist Mike McCready. The music showcased a different aspect of Cornell’s writing, and provided a heartfelt tribute. On this song, vocalist Eddie Vedder makes his debut, sharing the vocal spot with Cornell on a superb performance. Of course, many of those names would go on to form Pearl Jam. This album has tons of memories for me and features some amazing music, Hunger Strike being a highlight.
Soundgarden – The Day I Tried To Live
I was a huge Soundgarden fan; trying to select just a couple of songs was immensely difficult. I chose this song as it showcases Chris’ amazing voice to great effect, plus the composition is superb: the song builds brilliantly to the massive chorus. The effect is a song that sounds exactly like carpe diem gone wrong, thwarted by a frustration that is captured brilliantly in the vocal. Taken from the completely essential “Superunknown” album, which is crammed full of absolute gold. A record I played non-stop in my younger days, and still return to regularly.
Temple of the Dog
Soundgarden – Burden In My Hand
“Down on the Upside” was the follow up to “Superunknown”, though to me it never reached the heights of it’s predecessor. This song was one of the best on that set, written by Cornell and again featuring that incredible voice. A fairly jaunty number to, so I wasn’t ending on too much of a downer. I’ve re-visited “Down on the Upside” recently and it’s far better than I remembered it. However making this selection was very difficult, as it meant nothing from the wonderful “Badmotorfinger” record would get a look in.
So there you have it, my tribute set to the late, great Chris Cornell. A fantastic musician, singer and song writer – and someone who has written music that has been a massive part of my life, through the ups and the downs.
A great night with some awesome sets, including from my buddies Adam and Graham. Not to mention Kev playing a lethal track by Electric Wizard, which I didn’t expect! Here’s hoping there will be another Bring Your Own Vinyl Night soon.