Live in the Mojave Desert – Album Review

Various Artists – Live in the Mojave Desert

Heavy Psych Sounds Records

Release date: Various

Running time: Various

Review by: Alun Jones

Rating: see below

Hello there!  Remember me?  It’s me, that bloke who occasionally reviews albums for Ever Metal and spins ropey old yarns about rock’n’roll.  Yeah, him.  Sorry I’ve been absent for a while, had a few things on my all-you-can-eat buffet plate recently.  More about that another time (if the lawyers allow me).  For now, recline in your favourite easy chair, and let’s review.  With me?  Good.

Right then, bit of a mammoth task, this one.  “Live in the Mojave Desert” is actually a series of five albums, each recorded live (of course) amongst the sand and rocks of the Californian desert.  It’s probably like Star Trek, when Kirk and crew are roaming around the cliffs and valleys – but in the dark, and with guitars and lights and stuff – and no one dies (hopefully).

Up first in my sequence of albums is the legendary Earthless, a band who should need no introduction.  I listened to their offering whilst on a trip to North Wales; sadly the surf was flat, but the sonic musings of this three piece fitted perfectly the rolling roads between green valleys and big skies.  In the land of druids and standing stones, witches and warriors, this was a perfect soundtrack.  The songs are a journey in themselves, awash with psychedelic Hendrix style explorations.  Only three songs, but they’re plenty lengthy and offer huge scope.  It’s actually quite beautiful. (9/10)

Next on the list was Mountain Tamer, a band I’m not familiar with previously, but a cool name.  And a cool name goes a long way with me.   The Mountain Tamer sound is raw and in-your-face, with mighty, meaty riffs that clunk around in full-on doom style.  There’s also a mind expanding, trippy element to their music, leaving me with the impression of Black Flag in a collision with Hawkwind.  This unique approach is best exemplified by stand out tracks “Black Noise” and “Scorched Earth”, but it’s all damn fine. (8/10)

An offering in this series from my old buddies Nebula was very welcome, their brand of psych drenched sci-fi hard rock being something I’m somewhat partial to.  This is the album with the most obviously “live” feel – not that it’s sloppy at all, the very occasional tiny imperfections and wall of fuzz give a genuine and celebratory vibe.  Opening track “To the Centre” is a feedback drenched, blistering explosion.  “Giant” is another standout track with a bouncing, crazy gonzo riff. (8/10)

Spirit Mother are another band I’ve not heard before, and they were a real surprise.  Their first song, “Tonic (Exodus Inc)” is straight off the soundtrack of some forgotten Italian/Turkish 1970s horror movie.  The band take the standard desert/doom rock and add violin, and everything veers off in a totally unexpected direction.  From mournful 70s rock on “Ether” to creating their own genre of gothic Spaghetti Western (“Dead Cells”), it’s like Morricone on peyote orchestrating The Exorcist.  Strangely beguiling. (8.5/10)

The album I listened to last in the collection was the debut release of STÖNER, the very aptly named stoner rock “supergroup” which features Brant Bjork (Kyuss, Fu Manchu, solo etc) and Nick Oliveri (Kyuss, QOTSA, Mondo Generator etc etc).  With Brant’s drummer, Ryan Güt whacking the tubs.  As a fan of these rogues’ other bands, I was definitely curious about this release.  No fear here: this is exactly what I hoped it would be: desert rock royalty.  “Rad is Rad” features a relentless, rolling bassline that drags the listener along on a head-nodding journey whilst Brant croons in his laid-back manner.  The big, groovy bass continues in “The Older Kids”, and the tracks develop a trancelike vibe as it progresses.  And strap yourself in for the final song, “Tribe/Fly Girl” – over 13 minutes that will melt your eyeballs.  Definitive. (9/10)

That’s it: five albums, five bands, and a mind-blowing excursion into the remote desert valleys.  Whether showcasing how it should be done, or abducting the listener in a smoke-filled UFO to be probed in new realms, these live collections are a trip.

Here’s a ton of links! Click away for more info on this awesome music…

Start with Heavy Psych Sounds, they have a website, Bandcamp, Facebook and Instagram.

Earthless do the web thing here, with some Facebook and Twitter.

Mountain Tamer kick in the sky with Facebook and Bandcamp.

Go crazy with Nebula via Facebook.

Spirit Mother have you covered with some weberation, Facebook, Bandcamp and Insta.

Finally, have a look at Stoner’s web presence here and Facebook it too.

This review was brought to you by Platinum Al in association with Ever Metal.

Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub #18

 

Join me once again, relaxing in the waters of the Virtual Hot Tub, for Singles Night.  No,  this is not a dating event: rather, it’s just me, spinning a stack of – as yet – unplayed 7 inch vinyl.  Combined with reasonably heavy drinking.

You see, there’s a load of 45 rpm records that I own and need to play.  So I play ’em, one after the other, side a then B.  No skipping discs allowed.

Here’s the playlist from the latest evening of tunes:

  1. Hawkwind – “Silver Machine” / “Seven By Seven”
  2. Diana Ross – “My Old Piano” / “Where Did We Go Wrong”
  3. Slade – “My Friend Stan” / “My Town”
  4. Paul Paray & Detroit Symphony Orchestra – ” The Ride of the Valkyries” / “Lohengrin (Prelude to Act I)”
  5. Barry White – “Never, Never Gonna Give You Up” / “Standing in the Shadows of Love”
  6. Tracey Ullman – “Breakaway” / “Dancing in the Dark”
  7. Toto Coelo – “I Eat Cannibals Part 1” / “I Eat Cannibals Part 2”
  8. Carly Simon – “You’re So Vain” / “Anticipation”
  9. The Beach Boys – “Lady Lynda” / “Full Sail”
  10. The Cars – “Drive” / “Stranger Eyes”
  11. Duran Duran – “My Own Way” / “Like an Angel”
  12. Sinitta – “So Macho!” / “Cruising”
  13. Daryl Hall & John Oates – “Private Eyes” / “Tell Me What You Want”
  14. Cockney Rebel – “Mr Soft” / “Such a Dream”
  15. Paul Hardcastle – “The Wizard (Part 1)” / “The Wizard (Part 2)”
  16. Roxy Music – “Dance Away” / “Cry Cry Cry”
  17. Robert Palmer – “Some Guys Have All the Luck” / “Too Good to be True”
  18. Emerson Lake & Palmer – “Fanfare for the Common Man” / “Brain Salad Surgery”
  19. Bangles – “Eternal Flame” / “What I Meant to Say”
  20. Kim Wilde & Junior – “Another Step (Closer to You)” / “Hold Back”
  21. Mud – “Tiger Feet” / “Mr Bagatelle”
  22. Status Quo – “Something ‘Bout You Baby I Like” / “Enough is Enough”
  23. Sister Sledge – “Lost in Music” / “Thinking of You”
  24. Sarah Brightman & Hot Gossip – “I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper” / “Do, Do, Do”

BOOM!  There you go – a right random collection of singles, varying from the classic to the down right cheesy.  Kicking off with the amazing Hawkwind track “Silver Machine”, as sung by my old mate Lemmy – I picked that up at a record fair ‘cos I had to have it in my collection.

I loved The Cars and Roxy songs, sheer class.  Plus you’ve got a harem of some of my favourite pop ladies with Kim Wilde, Susanna Hoffs and Sinitta all present and correct.  By the way, the Sarah Brightman song was a favourite of mine when I was 5 years old, thanks to the rip-off Star Wars noises etc!

And what can I say about “Ride of the Valkyries” on 7 inch vinyl?  Only “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”

See you soon for another Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub!

Brown Acid: the Tenth Trip – Album Review

Various Artists – Brown Acid: The Tenth Trip

Riding Easy Records

Release date: 20/04/2020 (?)

Running time: 33 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

8.5/10

 

Between me and you, I’ve been wondering when this series of proto metal/heavy psyche long-lost artifacts would start to go off the boil.  This is the tenth instalment now, and any listener could be forgiven for thinking that maybe, the well might run dry.  That the party is over, the acid has worn off, and the hippies have traded in their kaftans for the last time.  I mean, how much of these rare, forgotten nuggets can there be left, for the rock’n’roll gravediggers at Riding Easy Records to exhume?

Well pardon me for being a fanboy, but the Brown Acid trip is far from over.   In fact, this could be my favourite volume so far.

Yes, it’s more of the same: fuzzy, psychedelic late 60s/early 70s heavy rock; somehow cast aside for around fifty years, waiting to be rediscovered.  Gems that pre-date and redefine the genealogical development of metal and hard rock; throwing the long-standing theories of origin into dispute like some musical Antikythera mechanism.  But this time, if anything, the tunes are better than ever.

Here we have Sounds Synonymous with “Tensions”, a fuzz-rock monster with a “Wild Thing” feel and washes of freaky organ not a million miles removed from Steppenwolf.  Witness also the wonder of “Never Again” from Ralph Williams and the Wright Brothers, melding melodic vocals with an “American Woman” style desert rock vibe.   “Babylon” by Conception rolls with some funky, Hendrix-like riffs and a great pop sensibility, not to mention a fabulous bluesy instrumental section.

Bitter Creek deliver “Plastic Thunder”, which has a Who meets Stooges aggressive sound.  On “Mr. Sun”, First State Bank (rad name!) provide a Mountain-covering-the-Kinks lesson in far-out groovery.  Then there’s Brothers and One with the saucily titled “Hard On Me”, which has a little Hawkwind on a road to Maiden’s “Running Free”.

Probably the best track is “The Roach”, by The Brood (another quality name).  It’s a MC5/Sabbath garage rocker with apocalyptic horns and keys, heralding the end of peace and love and the arrival of the age of doom.

Freaky, fuzzy and far-out: that’s the latest edition of Brown Acid.  If you’re late to the party, jump on the magic bus right now and let your hair down.  Signs are this festival is gonna run and run.

 

Here’s a link to the Riding Easy Records website and their Bandcamp.

You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.

This article first appeared as a review on Ever Metal.  Please use the electronic super highway to pay them a visit via this link.

Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub

Regular readers will be aware of my love for vinyl records: beautiful, spinning discs revealing a world of aural pleasure.  Most of my attention is devoted to albums, though I’ve also amassed a fair collection of 7 inch singles over time.

Back in my younger days, I would pick up singles to embellish my album collection with b-side tracks excluded from the main release.  I’d also pick up some interesting, groovy records that were within my budget and offered something different to my music library.

Over the last couple of years, I originally ignored the 45 rpm singles, but gradually I’ve started picking a few up.  One of the main influences for this was my friend Greeny’s jukebox, installed in his home, which I though was really cool.  It inspired me to pick up a few classics, in order to compile a wider range of musical genres on 7″.

You never, know, I may just get my own jukebox one day.

And so I’ve bought singles from record fairs, charity shops and car boot sales to complete gaps in my collection.  This has left me with a stack of 45s that I haven’t got round to playing yet.

So I had the idea for Singles Night:  I would play the records, both sides (A then B) from the top of the pile down, oldest to newest.  Regardless of genre, or what ever mood I was in.  Almost like the random playlists I’ve posted here before, but analogue.

The reader will notice that there are some cheesy, if not disgusting, purchases included amongst the gems in this list.  Everyone has some guilty pleasures; in the land of the 7″ single, my love of the truly awful can be fully exposed.

Here’s the list of what I played.  May the gods of music forgive me…

  1. Dave Edmunds – “Queen of Hearts” / “Creature from the Black Lagoon”
  2. Lipps, Inc – “Funkytown” / “All Night Dancing”
  3. Depeche Mode – “New Life” / “Shout”
  4. Carrie – “The Birds” / “Sugar Fan (Demo Version)”
  5. Deborah Harry – “I Want That Man” / “Bike Boy”
  6. Lovebug Starski – “Amityville (The House on the Hill)” / “Amityville (The House on the Hill) (Dub Mix)”
  7. Sinitta – “So Macho!” / “Cruising”
  8. Sinitta – “GTO (Radiomix)” / “GTO (Instrumental)”
  9. The Firm – “Star Trekkin'” / “Dub Trek”
  10. Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass – “Mame” / “Our Day Will Come”
  11. Dannii Minogue – “Show You the Way to Go” / “Show You the Way to Go (Dub)”
  12. Partners in Kryme – “Turtle Power” / “Splinter’s Tale 1” + “Splinter’s Tale 2”
  13. MC Hammer – “U Can’t Touch This (LP Version)” / “U Can’t Touch This (Instrumental)”
  14. Selena – “Shotgun” / “Shotgun (Instrumental Version)”
  15. Roxy Music – “Jealous Guy” / “To Turn You On”
  16. Senseless Things – “Hold It Down” / “Crucial Juvenalia”
  17. The Silent Underdog – “Papa’s Got a Brand New Pig Bag” / Pigbag – “Papa’s Got a Brand New Pig Bag”
  18. The Beach Boys – “Breakaway” / “Celebrate the News”
  19. Black Box – “Ride On Time Massive Mix (Remix)” / “Ride On Time Epsom Mix (Remix)”
  20. Genesis – “Invisible Touch” / “The Last Domino”
  21. Quincy Jones – “Razzamatazz (Edit)” / “Velas”
  22. Hawkwind – “Silver Machine” / “Silver Machine (Full Version)” + “Psychedelic Warlords”
  23. David Bowie – “Sorrow” / “Amsterdam”

I could write notes about pretty much every one of those songs to elaborate on why they’re in my collection.  Some are classics – Bowie, Hawkwind, Beach Boys etc. and need no introduction.

But as a means of explanation for some of the really ripe songs, let me say this: Sinitta and Dannii are in my collection ‘cos they’re well fit.

Oh, and “Turtle Power” is an awesome song and needs to be heard again!

I hope you enjoyed that playlist, reader.  I certainly did, and there will be more of this in the future.

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.