EMQs with… Platinum Al

Last year, in the depths of lockdown and with no live entertainment to review, the glorious website that is Ever Metal was kind enough to open up their Ever Metal Questions series to the reviewers. As an EM contributor I was finally able to fulfil a lifelong ambition – and satisfy my enormous ego – by being interviewed for the site.

The questions were pretty much what we ask musicians, only I had the privilege of answering them myself. And now, in a move that confirms that I really have no shame, I proudly re-present the same interview here, at the Virtual Hot Tub. Well, it is my birthday this month…

Enjoy!

What is your name, what do you do, and can you tell us a little bit about how you ended up doing it?

My name’s Alun, AKA Platinum Al.  I write some reviews for Ever Metal, which came about through meeting Rick and Beth at Pentre Fest a while back.  “I can write!” I lied, and they’ve been too kind to bin me off ever since.

What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?

North Wales in the UK.  We seem to be a bit out in the wilderness to the outsider, but thankfully there are a few venues that put good bands on in Chester and Wrexham (both nearby) and of course, the good old Tivoli in Buckley (just up the road).  Liverpool and Manchester are both accessible.  The big win for us though is Pentre Fest – and all the other events that North East Wales Metal Productions put on.  It’s introduced me to loads of new music and it’s right on my doorstep. 

What is your favourite latest release? (Album, EP, Single, Video)

Desert Storm’s “Omens” on APF Records is album of the year so far.  Beyond that, I’m still reeling from the wonder of Giant Dwarf’s self-titled master piece, my album of 2019.

Who have been your greatest influences, in music or in life?

George Lucas, for Star Wars – which influenced me more than anything since I was five years old.  Stan Lee and Marvel comics have also been a big inspiration.  Skateboarding in general has opened my eyes and ears to the wonder of the world since my teens. 

In music, there’s dozens: Johnny Cash, Motorhead, AC/DC, Ramones, the Damned, The Misfits, Black Sabbath, The Cult, Soundgarden, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Monster Magnet, COC, Melvins, Jimi Hendrix etc etc.

What first got you into music?

I listened to the Star Wars soundtrack first of all; it still has an amazing emotional response on me even now.  The next big development was seeing the film Highlander, which I loved.  A friend of mine recommended the Queen album A Kind of Magic as it featured several songs from the film, and it’s been downhill from there.  Thankfully, through skateboarding I was introduced to music that was a bit off the beaten track, shall we say.

Which current bands or musicians would you like to see collaborate on a record?

Good question!  How about Shakin’ Stevens – the Welsh Elvis – fronting the Misfits?  Danzig can write the songs.

If you could go to any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?

Pentre Fest!

What’s the weirdest music related thing you own?

I have some pretty weird vinyl in my collection, like Roland Rat, the Wurzels and an album called “How to Strip for Your Husband”.   Oh, and a Joan Collins work out record.

If you had one message for your Ever Metal readers, what would it be?

Never ever bloody anything ever.

If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?

So many greats to choose from (sadly).  I’ll nominate my old mate Lemmy, as I probably embarrassed myself when I met him by talking bollocks.

If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?

Stop developing new formats – you lied to us about CDs when vinyl was the ultimate.  There are some albums I own on vinyl, tape, CD and download – and I’ve had to buy every single one.  Can we all just agree to not buy whatever new garbage format they try and lumber us with in the future? 

Name one of your all-time favourite albums?

Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols.

What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?

Vinyl, obviously!

What’s the best gig that you have been to, and why?

Black Sabbath at Birmingham Genting Arena on their “The End” tour is up there.

What do you get up to when you’re not writing/ taking photos?

Working the day job and being a dad mostly.  Then listening to music, skateboarding, riding my bike, watching old Hammer horror movies, collecting toys, drinking beer.

Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?

Sir Christopher Lee, Johnny Cash, Jimi Hendrix, Joey Ramone and Lemmy.

If they have to be alive, then James Hetfield, Glenn Danzig, Dave Vanian, Henry Rollins and pro skateboarder Mike Vallely.

Jaffa Cakes? Are they a cake or a biscuit?

I don’t know, but I had cherry ones in Greece and they were amazing!

Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?

Just thanks for giving me the opportunity to flaunt my massive ego by doing an interview, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do!  HAHA!

Oh, and to the readers of Ever Metal: thanks for reading, and never forget that we are fans just like you and we do this for the love of the music.  Never say die!

Read more Ever Metal staff EMQs here.

Platinum Al’s Top 10 Rock/Metal Albums of 2018

2018 was a great year for music.  So much so, that I struggled condensing all those tasty new tunes into a top ten – and I’m still not sure I’ve got it right.  There are several other albums that could have featured in an annual top ten, but for reason or other didn’t make the cut.

Anyway, those cool folks at Ever Metal asked me to put together a list of my ten favourite rock and metal releases for the year.  I did so, Ever Metal posted it, and I thought I’d share with my Virtual Hot tub readers too.

So here we go, in reverse order:

  1. Ghost – “Prequelle”
  2. Gama Bomb – “Speed Between the Lines”
  3. Orange Goblin – “The Wolf Bites Back”
  4. Earthless – “Black Heaven”
  5. 1968 – “Ballads of the Godless”
  6. Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats – “Wasteland”
  7. Monster Magnet – “Mindfucker”
  8. Corrosion of Conformity – “No Cross No Crown”
  9. Fu Manchu – “Clone of the Universe”
  10. Clutch – “Book of Bad Decisions”

Hope you did a Smashy and Nicey voice in your head whilst you counted that down.

Some classic albums there, in my opinion at least.  Honorable mentions are due for Sleep, High on Fire and Satan’s Satyrs (amongst others) who just missed out.  Who knows, next week I might have changed my mind.

Finally, a big thanks to the Ever Metal team for having me on board.  It’s a real honour to be part of the team, and writing for the site has been one of my highlights of last year. Here’s to contributing more in 2019.  Cheers!

Visit the Ever Metal site here and check out some cool music!

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!

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night #9

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night

Queen’s Head, Mold

Friday 4th November 2016

It was great to be back in Mold for another Bring Your Own Vinyl Night.  It’s been a long time since the last evening in the Queen’s Head, with summer holidays and whatnot getting in the way – so it was good to see the familiar faces and crank out some tunes.

The usual rules applied: each person got 15 minutes on the decks to play whatever they liked, genre free – vinyl only!

Adam went for it first, here’s an over view of his varied and very enjoyable set:

  • Voice of the Beehive – I Think I Love You
  • Grandmaster Flash – Whitelines
  • Queen – One Vision
  • Willie Nelson – On the Road Again

I am so jealous of that Willie Nelson single!

Halloween had just been and gone a few days earlier, so I was still in a spooky mood.  This time, my set went like this:

Monster Magnet – See You in Hell

One of the many stand out tracks from Monster Magnet’s classic “Powertrip” album, this is acid drenched stoner rock at its finest.  The retro sound is augmented by a churning organ that whirls around as the bass chugs.  Psychedelic wonderment from Monster Magnet that sounds like a forgotten late 60’s gem.  I’ve owned the “Powertrip” album for many years on CD, but recently acquired the new vinyl re-issue.  Money well spent.  A truly great, under appreciated band.

Donovan – Season of the Witch

This fantastic song was featured in the Tim Burton movie Dark Shadows, a film I’m a huge fan of (though it appears not many other people are).  Whilst the previous song sounds like something from the sixties, this one is.  It’s a mellow groover that manages to wander out of hippy territory and sound somewhat sinister… Love this track, I felt it was a suitable jam for a Halloween inspired set.

The Damned – Plan 9 Channel 7

Ah, the Damned!  Where would a Halloween themed set be, without a tune from these punk rock proto-Goths?  One of my favourite bands, one of my favourite songs – from the indispensable “Machine Gun Etiquette” album.  Every home should own this!  The song is, of course, written about a viewing of Ed Wood‘s infamous “worst film ever made” – Plan 9 From Outer Space – on American horror channel 9.  Vampira, James Dean, Hollywood after dark – it’s all here in a perfect slice of rampaging pop punk.

The Misfits – American Nightmare

Finally, more horror punk from the masters themselves – the one and only Misfits.  On this track, Danzig and pals abandon the usual Ramones inspired turbo punk and offer up a ridiculously catchy rockabilly number.  Complete with handclaps and Danzig crooning more like Elvis than ever, this track sounds like a lost piece of 50’s nostalgia.  Classic stuff.

There we have it ladies and gentlemen – another great night in Mold!  Thanks to the guys from Halcyon Dreams and VOD music – and Dylan who helped out with an extra turntable!  More 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.

Random Skateboard Playlist

It’s been a long while since I shared a random playlist with you.

I recently went out for a skate, split between riding my Mindless longboard and spending some time on a classic old school Santa Cruz Street Creep.  Whilst skating around, I switched the iPod onto shuffle and these are the tunes I heard.

  1. Dead Kennedys – “Moon Over Marin”
  2. Steppenwolf – “Live Your Life”
  3. Little Richard – “I Don;t Know What You’ve Got, But It’s Got Me (Parts 1 & 2)”
  4. Motorhead – “Back At The Funny Farm”
  5. Lynyrd Skynyrd – “Gimme Three Steps”
  6. Orange Goblin – “Hounds Ditch”
  7. Rod Stewart – “True Blue”
  8. Wire – “I Am The Fly”
  9. The Wildhearts – “In Lilly’s Garden”
  10. Hypnos 69 – “My Journey To The Stars”
  11. Monster Magnet – “Slut Machine”
  12. Iggy Pop – “New Values”
  13. The Charlie Daniels Band – “The Devil Went Down To Georgia”
  14. Sisters of Mercy – “More”

Not a bad selection by the iPod there.

Back to Work Blues

Enjoying the Bank Holiday?  Sorry to mention it, but for most of us it’s back to work tomorrow.  Now I don’t have any optimistic advice, any philosophical thoughts to get you through this.  No “without the work, the rest wouldn’t be the same” message.  Not even an inspiring “get out there and be the best you can be” cliche.

But I can offer you a playlist that will help you get through it all.  Music that sticks two fingers up at working life and slides back under the duvet.  Enjoy these prime tunes and be free!

  1. “The Job That Ate My Brain” – The Ramones
  2. “Take This Job and Shove it” – Dead Kennedys
  3. “We’ve Gotta Get Out of This Place” – The Animals
  4. “9 to 5” – Dolly Parton
  5. Workin‘ For A Livin‘ (Live)” – Huey Lewis and the News
  6. “Working for the Yankee Dollar” – The Skids
  7. “Work Song” – Tito Puente
  8. “Working for the Man” – Roy Orbison
  9. “Worker Bee” – D.R.I.
  10. Workin‘ Man Blues” – Merle Haggard
  11. “At My Job” – Dead Kennedys
  12. “It’s Not My Place (In the 9 to 5 World)” – The Ramones
  13. “Finest Worksong” – R.E.M.
  14. “The Weekend” – Michael Gray
  15. “Work” – The Saturdays
  16. Powertrip” – Monster Magnet

The final song, by the mighty Monster Magnet, features the classic line “I’m never gonna work another day in my life”.  If only.

My thanks to Nicky Carr for the inspiration for this post!