All Souls/Fatso Jetson – Live from Total Annihilation
Release date: 19/08/2022
Running time: TBC
Review by: Alun Jones
Well, bloody flipping heck – this is pretty good, innit? A split album, recorded during the pandemic in L.A.’s Total Annihilation Studios, light on the production and heavy on the creative purpose. We have, for your enjoyment, a collection of songs from alt rockers All Souls and desert rock pioneers Fatso Jetson.
All Souls deliver five songs here (that’s all of Side A to the connoisseur), all of which offer a dark yet epic character. ‘Who Holds the Answer’ is a mid-tempo, infectious rocker and ‘You Can’t Win’ has a melancholy start that grows into a moody, Spaghetti Western tinged piece. The American Gothic vibe is showcased further on ‘Winds’, again utilising a sparse, melodic approach to generate a cinematic soundscape. The final two tracks, ‘Sentimental Rehash’ and ‘Timebomb’ are both faster paced and more abrasive, with robot like, post punk riffs – but both still have menace.
Side B belongs to Fatso Jetson, and their first song ‘Drifting off to Storybook Deth’ is my personal favourite of this entire recording. It welds the gloomy heaviness of the Melvins with the atmosphere of classic Soundgarden into an ominous monster of a track. ‘Monoxide Dreams’ takes a hypnotic trip off into a windswept, barren horizon. The repetitive, mesmeric ‘Dream Homes’ is a robot riff instrumental like Sabbath jamming Devo tunes, whilst ‘Long Deep Breaths’, the final track, is an exploration of dark psychedelia.
Further proving that “desert rock” has more than one style, both of the bands here are adept at taking that expected template and weaving other influences and ideas into their songs. Both dark and beautiful, All Souls and Fatso Jetson’s efforts are all fascinating. “Live from Total Annihilation” is ideal music for watching the sun fade and the night creep in.
Now, your first question may well be: “How did Platinum Al manage to slip a Toyah review onto a Rock/Metal website?” Well, dear reader, let me tell you a story. The first time I ever saw Toyah live was at a local club, where the dynamic lady herself was backed by the mighty Girlschool. All of these fearsome females put on an explosive show, comprising of ultra-rocked-up originals from both artists and classic rock covers. So yes, Toyah is more rock’n’roll than you (or I) will ever be.
To be fair, despite her pop pedigree, Toyah Willcox has always been more Bowie than Kylie. And on this reissue of the 1980 live album, Cherry Red have presented us with a vibrant – even, dare I say it, rocking – bunch of post punk songs that show Toyah and her band in full flight. The expanded deluxe CD set is packaged with a DVD featuring a contemporary documentary. For this review though, we’re focussing purely on the music.
Happily, the production is top notch. Remastered by Nick Watson from the original master tapes, the sound is formidable. The instruments come through crisp and clear, and the vocals are excellent, as shown on ‘Victims of the Riddle’ where keyboards maintain a steady melody while lead guitar erupts with energy. Likewise, bass and drums shine on ‘Love Me’ – it’s particularly impressive considering we’re dealing with a 40-year-old live album.
Highlights on “Toyah! Toyah! Toyah!” include ‘Bird in Flight’, ‘Danced’ (which reminded me of the Skids) and the occult war chant of ‘Ieya’. Never truly dark enough to be goth, the songs here are more “Scary Monsters” with a generous helping of Hawkwind space rock, especially on ‘Race Through Space’.
Through it all, Toyah’s one-of-a-kind voice soars. Toyah has never stopped writing and performing music, acting, presenting and so on; these days she’s famous for her lockdown YouTube videos performing kitchen-based rock covers with husband, King Crimson legend, Robert Fripp. It’s great to hear “Toyah! Toyah! Toyah!” remastered and in pristine condition. Even speaking as a vinyl purist, it looks like my ancient vinyl copy has had its day.
Three years. It’s been nearly three years since the last Bring Your Own Vinyl Night at the Queen’s Head in Mold, north Wales. The pandemic put this event on hold for quite a while, but finally it was time for a triumphant return to the decks.
Let’s recap the concept: each participant gets a 15 minute slot to play whatever vinyl they like. That’s it. Very simple. And good fun. Have a few beers, chat about music, discover something new to listen to.
Here’s my ;playlist from the night:
Sweet Apple – Wish You Could Stay (A Little Longer)
I wanted to start my set up with this gorgeous, uplifting track by Sweet Apple. J Mascis (of Dinosaur Jr) is in the band, and Mark Lanegan guests on co-vocals. A sublime piece of melodic, alt rock pop. First song on their album “The Golden Age of Glitter”.
The Four Horsemen – Nobody Said It Was Easy
And then on to some early 90’s southern rock, courtesy of the Four Horsemen. This band were signed to Def American and produced by Rick Rubin. If you dig AC/DC tinged Skynyrd and ZZ Top, their wax is worth investing in. I have the album, but this was the 7 inch single version of this song.
Clutch – D.C. Sound Attack!
A stand out track from the “Earth Rocker” album by Clutch, a band I am somewhat obsessed with. I love this song, it’s energetic rock’n’roll with a funky riff – the instrumental is so good I could actually groove to it. D.C. Sound Attack!!!
Social Distortion – Dear Lover
What a band. The opening track from Social D’s “White Light White Heat White Trash” album, this is full of Mike Ness’s heartfelt angst in a pounding, mid paced punk rock’n’roller.
The Beatnix – Stairway to Heaven
The Beatnix are a Beatles cover band. Here, they’ve covered Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” in an early 60’s Beatles style. It’s actually really good and sounds authentic. I think this song raised a few eyebrows, starting off resembling an old Fab Four track but including the unmistakable lyrics. On the other side, there’s an Elvis impersonator called Neil Pepper, covering the same song – a great single, you need a copy.
I had a really enjoyable evening for Vinyl Night, in fact I’m sure everyone did! Thanks to Halcyon Dreams and VOD Music in Mold for hosting and organising everything. Hope to see you all again soon!
For this review of “Salvation, If You Need…”, the second album from UK stoner rock titans 1968, I promise that there will be no messing about, no silly stories, no nonsense whatsoever. I’m not even drinking. Rather, I will endeavour to write a serious review that treats this album with the respect it deserves. Not enough respect to get the article written on schedule, mind; but hey – I never said I was perfect.
Anyone familiar with 1968 from their previous efforts will not be disappointed to learn that the band’s strengths are in full flow here. Thankfully, they’ve also pushed boundaries and explored their psychedelic tendencies further than ever before. Witness opening track “Railroad Boogie”, which teases a funky Blaxploitation groove before unleashing the glorious big riff sound that we expect.
Comparing 1968 to Kyuss is far too obvious and lazy. Jimi Ray’s voice has some of that gruff John Garcia sound (with a little later-period TSOL vocalist Joe Wood), though his vocals have matured to a sincere, soulful timbre. See also, guitarist Sam Orr: schooled in Sabbath riffology and Lizzy attitude, here his Hendrix aspirations are allowed to fly unrestrained. Magnificent washes of sound cascade and add colour everywhere, without being obtrusive.
“Blackwing” is the highlight for me: a refrain that’ll slip into your ears and lodge there. It’s pointless trying to remove it. Whether happy accident or hard slog, this is an epic riff. “Eastern Wind” follows a similar path, but offers enough of its own controlled chaos to stand on its own two feet.
Tom Richards’ bass warms up “Here It Lies” and expertly keeps the vibe dialled on a grungy, early Soundgarden pace. The raw, unrefined blues of “Small Victories” and “God Bless” also allow drummer Dan Amati to show he can play refined and delicate, as well as thundering and determined.
Yes, 1968 are undoubtedly still inspired by the classic rock of the late 60s/early 70’s, but we’re also drinking beers in Satan’s Dive Bar, somewhere in Seattle, with a jukebox that’s stuck on Badmotorfinger. And some Budgie, too, based on the solid cover of that band’s “Guts” that shows up here.
Look, I’ve tried to be serious for once, and I hope you appreciate it, reader. “Salvation, If You Need…” is a truly magnificent piece of work. I’ve been playing it for ages and it hasn’t aged. I’m still discovering little delights everywhere. It has scale and pace that other bands don’t dare trifle with. A contender for Album of the Year, so long as I can get hold of the imminent vinyl release.
Now, who wants to hear about the time Ozzy, Belinda Carlisle and me gate-crashed Venom’s Satanic picnic?
How did you spend your time during the pandemic? Did you learn a new language or a musical instrument? Did you get out there running, hammering marathons and getting super fit? Or, like most of us, did you hang on there by your finger nails, just about keeping it together and escaping the monotony? Well luckily for us, these two bands – Ungraven and Slomatics – decided to put their talents to creative use and deliver some music to keep us all sane in these bizarre times.
This is one EP, two bands and six songs in total. First off, we have Ungraven, who despite only being formed in 2019 feature musicians of fine pedigree: Jon Davis (Conan), David Ryley (Fudge Tunnel) and Tyler Hodges (Tuskar). “Defeat the Object”, their first offering, features a reliably sturdy riff to nod your head to. Next track, “Onwards She Rides to a Certain Death” comes galloping out of the gates like an armour covered battle horse – it’s no nimble dressage, more like a cavalry charge into a frenzied battle. Ungraven’s final song, “Blackened Gates of Eternity”, has a grinding intensity that has an industrial feel.
Slomatics pick up the baton and start off with the brutally heavy, atmospheric “Kaan”, which seems to move sideways rather than forwards. Slow and hefty, I’ve seen ox bow lakes form quicker than the pace of this monster. “Proto Hag” follows a similar style, but you’ll be glad to learn that it’s even more intense. Slomatics have been building their reputation for some years now, and these tracks confirm their prominence. Their final song, “Monitors” – probably my favourite on the whole EP, though I feel bad singling out one track – only pushes their reputation further. The music is almost trancelike, with a magnetic melodic element.
This split EP is dense and compelling. Both Ungraven and Slomatics impress with their conviction and integrity. The only down side is that 31 minutes just isn’t enough. This is a very enjoyable starter, but it just makes me hunger for a full plate of whatever these two immense bands can serve up. Please sir, can I have some more?
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!
Here we go with the first Singles Night of 2021! The Virtual Hot Tub is ecstatic with anticipation for the return of these playlists.
What’s it all about? Well, I’m glad you asked. The singles in question are 45rpm vinyl singles, which I have accumulated over time from various sources. The plan: listen to the records, side A then side B, one after the other without skipping any in the pile. Whilst drinking booze.
Let’s see how I got on this time…
The Temptations – “Psychedelic Shack” / “That’s the Way Love Is”
Queen – “Killer Queen” / “Flick of the Wrist”
Buzzcocks – “I Don’t Mind” / “Autonomy”
The Clash – “Bankrobber” / “Rockers Galore… UK Tour”
The Clash – “Complete Control” / “City of the Dead”
The Damned – “History of the World Part 1” / “I Believe the Impossible” / “Sugar & Spite”
Skids – “Sweet Suburbia” / “Open Sound”
The Beach Boys – “Mona” / “Rock and Roll Music” / “Sail on Sailor” / “Marcella”
ABBA – “Head Over Heels” / “The Visitors”
Bananarama – “Cheers Then” / “Girl About Town”
The Belle Stars – “Sign of the Times” / “Madness”
Chicory Tip – “Son of My Father” / “Pride Comes Before a Fall”
John Farnham – “You’re the Voice” / “Going, Going, Gone”
Stevie Wonder – “My Cherie Amour” / “Don’t Know Why I Love You”
Bardo – “One Step Further” / “Lady of the Night”
The Motors – “Love and Loneliness” / “Time for Make-Up”
Hot Chocolate – “So You Win Again” / “A Part of Being with You”
Elton John – “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” / “Screw You”
Blondie – “The Tide is High” / “Susie and Jeffrey”
Slade – “We’ll Bring the House Down” / “Hold on to Your Hats”
Twenty – count ’em – twenty great tracks. Well, mostly. A solid offering from the world of punk rock in that collection, with the Buzzcocks, Clash, Damned and Skids singles all being salvaged from a local charity shop. Lucky day.
I had a great night spinning these discs, there are some really awesome records to add to the collection there. Time for more soon. Stay tuned!
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!
Hit singles! All time classic songs! Novelty throw-away rubbish! From the cool to the crap, it’s all to be found at Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub on a Singles Night.
You see, what I do is, listen to a pile of old 7 inch singles that have been languishing in my “not played yet” pile. They could have come from anywhere: genuine gems that I’ve tracked down; record fair lucky finds; or – more likely – junk I find in charity shops.
Pour yourself a drink and check this list out. Do you own any of these on vinyl? What are your favourites? What should be consigned to a fiery pit and melted down?
Kim Wilde – “You Came” / “Stone”
Louis Armstrong – “All the Time in the World” / “Pretty Little MIssy”
The Hollies – “The Air That I Breathe” / “No More Riders”
Duran Duran – “The Wild Boys” / “(I’m Looking for) Cracks in the Pavement (1984)”
Bananarama – “Robert De Niro’s Waiting” / “Push!”
The Beach Boys – “Good Vibrations” / “Heroes and Villains”
Justin Hayward – “Forever Autumn” / “The Fighting Machine”
The Buggles – “Video Killed the Radio Star” / “Kid Dynamo”
ABBA – “Angeleyes” / “Voulez-Vous”
The Creatures – “Miss the Girl” / “Hot Springs in the Snow”
Blondie – “Rapture” / “Walk Like Me”
Bobby Patrick Band – “Dallas Theme” / “The Waltons Theme”
The Beatles – “The Ballad of John and Yoko” / “Old Brown Shoe”
Goombay Dance Band – “Seven Tears” / “Mama Coco”
Lionel Richie – “All Night Long (All Night)” / “Wandering Stranger”
Donna Summer – “Dim All the Lights” / “There Will Always Be a You”
Jermaine Stewart – “We Don’t Have to…” / “Brilliance”
Allan Sherman – “Mexican Hat Dance” / “Won’t You Come Home Disraeli?”
Earth, Wind and Fire – “Let’s Groove” / “Let’s Groove (Instrumental)”
Pointer Sisters – “I’m so Excited” / “What a Surprise”
Some classics indeed. Another great night of a couple of small drinkies and spinning wax: I recommend it to anyone.
Best years of my life? 15/16 years old, skateboarding all day and hanging around with my friends. It was the late 1980s, and the days of the 180 Boneless, No Comply and learning to Ollie. Back when kickflips were the raddest trick in the car park – except we called them “Ollie kickflips” back then.
This was also the time when I started to really veer off the obvious track as far as music was concerned. Skate videos and Thrasher magazine began to open up a whole new world of music. Sometimes these bands would enter the mainstream a couple of years later; sometimes they never did.
I remember hearing a great song on a Vision video. I had no idea what the song was called, but worked out from the credits that it was most likely performed by the Descendents. I recorded the song onto cassette off the TV as there was no other way to hear it. A few months later, on a skate buying trip to Manchester, I stumbled across a record shop that stocked a few records by the band. I had to buy one: taking a gamble on “All” as it featured a song called “Coolidge”, which fitted the lyrics of the track I loved. I was so stoked when I got home, played the vinyl and heard the song I was hoping for! Great album, all in all.
This practice of researching and hunting became a big feature of my relationship with music ever since.
Skating all day, then listening to music in the evening was a big part of my teenage years. This playlist is designed to reflect those days: music I enjoyed back then and became the soundtrack to that time.
Some songs featured in skate videos (McRad, Odd Man Out). Some were checked out after I saw them advertised or reviewed in Thrasher (The Cult, Misfits). Others were just part of the current soundscape, and are forever linked with those halcyon days.
Here’s the playlist I made, split into a two CD format:
McRad – “Weakness”
Odd Man Out – “Four Thirty One”
Descendents – “Coolidge”
Sex Pistols – “Holidays in the Sun”
Devo – “That’s Good”
Black Sabbath – “Paranoid”
Motorhead – “Killed by Death”
Faith No More – “We Care a Lot”
Misfits – “Astro Zombies”
Hard-Ons – “Don’t Wanna See You Cry”
The Stupids – “Skid Row”
Beastie Boys – “She’s On It”
Circle Jerks – “Wild in the Streets”
Spermbirds – “Something to Prove”
Dead Kennedys – “California Uber Alles”
Suicidal Tendencies – “Possessed to Skate”
Generation X – “One Hundred Punks”
The Cult – “Wildflower”
The Damned – “Love Song”
Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Higher Ground”
Fishbone – “Freddie’s Dead”
Iggy Pop – “Cold Metal”
GBH – “Too Much”
Mudhoney – “Sweet Young Thing Ain’t Sweet No More”
Ramones – “I Just Wanna Have Something To Do”
The Stranglers – “Peaches”
Bad Brains – “Soul Craft”
Gang Green – “Church of Fun”
Metallica – “The Thing That Should Not Be”
Jimi Hendrix Experience – “Purple Haze”
Rolling Stones – “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
Jesus Jones – “Never Enough”
The Skids – “Into the Valley”
Fugazi – “Blueprint”
Some of the above tracks I owned on vinyl or cassette back in the day; some I found in later years. There are still plenty of other bands from skate videos that I either still haven’t tracked down, or as I didn’t own them at the time I’ve omitted for now.
Instead, this is a basic playlist to represent my late 80s skateboarding days, boiled down to the bare essentials. I hope you enjoy and these bring back some memories.
And this sin’t an exhaustive list: how Anthrax and Run DMC didn’t get included is baffling. Maybe I can expand with some more for a Part 2…