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.

Skateboard Museum: SMA Jim Thiebaud

Come with me as I take a roll down skateboarding memory lane, ollieing the cracks as I go…

Santa Monica Airlines Jim Thiebaud

This classic deck dates back to the late 80’s, I picked it up in 1989 if I remember.  At the time the Chester branch of Milletts, the camping and outdoors shop, were stocking skateboards for some reason or other.  They had some pretty rad stuff, too.

When the time came to replace my worn out deck and get a new one, I saved up my pennies/swapped vinyl records and got myself this Santa Monica Airlines deck from Milletts.

At least I think that’s where it was from, I can’t remember.  Either way, I didn’t support a skater owned shop on this occasion, to my shame.

SMA

SMA were really blowing up at the time, and Jim Thiebaud had been on my radar since I saw the (criminally minimal) footage of him in some of the Powell vids.

Thiebaud was – and is – a supremely cool skateboarder with a smooth, rad style.  He was one of those original street pros that I really admired.  Along with Gonz, Natas, Guerrero and Vallely, JT was a bona fide street skating pioneer and innovator.

The shape was perfect for me at the time, exactly how I wanted a skateboard to be.  It’s still a classic shape now, I really like it. Nice size tail, comfy wide deck – but not too wide.  Great street deck of the era.

This deck also had the cool comic book style superhero graphics which I loved.  I’ve always been a big fan of superheroes.

However I wasn’t cool enough to get on this particular wave of popularity earlier.  If I had, I might have picked up the previous variation on the graphic, which featured a bad guy designed to resemble the Joker.  The Batman movie was out around that time, so I guess the whole theme was prominent back then.

So the Joker version had to be scrapped due to some issue with DC Comics, I believe the story goes, and I ended up with the purple suited thug instead.

No matter – cool graphic or not, this deck was to be skated.  I transferred my Indy trucks and OJII wheels and was ready to go.  Well, when I’d also added the Powell Rib Bones as well.  Not to save the graphic, mind – in those days the received wisdom (at least amongst my friends and I) was that the rails helped you slide better.

This particular set up was particularly long serving and loyal.  It was like a magic carpet that seemed to respond perfectly to my wishes.  Honestly, I remember learning tons of tricks on this finely shaped beauty.  Footplants and Boneless variations were (still are) major tricks in my arsenal and I learned several on this very set up. 

Biggest of all though, was the kick flip.  We called it an “ollie kick flip” back then, and it was a pretty desirable trick to own.  I learned kick flips on this gorgeously wide beast and was unbelievably stoked.  I still remember that first one.

It was well skated – in fact the tail is worn to a sharp and splintered point – but this set up is still skateable.  It’s still around as it was replaced with thinner decks and trucks as shapes evolved; thus I never swapped it.

The SMA Thiebaud is still on the garage wall, still looks great, and still gets a roll every now and again.  Classic.

Take a close look at the photos and you’ll notice some interesting features:

  • Madrid Fly Paper grip tape (note the fly shapes cut out)
  • Rad SMA top graphic
  • Santa Cruz Cell Block riser pad
  • A couple of cool stickers from back in the day still hanging in there
  • The trucks are fitted with Grind King reversed kingpins, there’s even a sticker on the front hanger…
  • You can see some of the bands I was into at the time from the grip tape art, which I did with Tip-Ex…

Songs of the Week 07.08.2016

A lot of vinyl played this week.  Here are the top 5 songs from the last seven days:

  1. Fu Manchu – Evil Eye
  2. The Clash – Jimmy Jazz
  3. Isaac Hayes – Theme From Shaft
  4. The Meters – Cissy Strut
  5. Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovel – Red Admiral Black Sunrise

Santa Cruz Street Creep

IMG_4705A few years ago, I had an urge to get me an old school set up.  I already had my everyday double kick street machine, but I felt I needed something that reminded me of my skateboarding youth in the 1980s.

This Santa Cruz Street Creep was the answer.

I remembered the Street Creep from those halcyon days.  I never owned one at the time, though I did own other Santa Cruz decks (see the blog about my Rob Roskopp deck, for one).  The Street Creep was a very cool shape and a cool graphic.

Luckily for me, numerous skateboard companies have been re-issuing the old shapes as collectors pieces.  I picked this re-issue up fairly easily.  I fitted it with some new, wide Independent trucks and some old Santa Cruz Slime Balls wheels and it was ready to go.

The wheels were rescued from an old relic of a board that was passed to me a few years back.  I always wanted some Slime Balls, finally I got a set!

The result is a rad skateboard that brings back loads of memories.  The shape is great, though it takes some getting used to after skating shorter, thinner boards for ages.  It’s a fantastic skateboard for blasting a few old tricks on – I find no-complys and some boneless manoeuvres easier on this set up.

With the big, softer Slime Balls attached, this board is great for carving up some of my favourite banked skate spots.  In particular, there’s a messy old “bowl” I like to skate – tarnished with grit and stones, but very skateable with this monster.

Plus there’s the graphic – if you’re an old 80’s skate hound like me, it’s all about the skulls!  Check out the close up the graphic and you’ll see dozens of smaller skulls and faces within the image.

Skateboards are a thing of beauty; this Street Creep looks and rides superb.

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Top graohic

Top graphic

Sci Fi Weekender 2016 – part 2

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Phoenix

Sci Fi Weekender 17th – 20th March 2016

Hafan Y Mor Holiday Park, Pwllheli

Day 2 at SFW, and again it’s all a blur.  I recall it was a lazy start to the day for me, breakfast and chilling in the caravan.  Kurt was feeling better, but Greeny was starting to suffer with the illness.  It would be mostly be another day of watching Star Trek, Big Bang Theory and Top Gear for those two.

Adam had got up early and made it to see a showing of a new independent film called Pandorica.  Classed as an action-horror, reports about the film were very enthusiastic.  The Q&A with Director and cast was my first event of the day – it was interesting although I’d not seen the film!  Definitely one to keep and eye out for: word of mouth was very positive.

The highlight of the afternoon was, undoubtedly, an appearance by the incomparable Brian Blessed.  Larger than life and twice as loud, Blessed’s sci-fi credentials are suitably top notch.  A life long fan of science fiction, as well in starring in numerous genre pieces – you may have heard of Flash Gordon – his enthusiasm was both apparent and infectious.

Professor Elemental hosted the Q&A with Brian Blessed, who wisely let the great man get on and tell his tales!  A solid job from the Professor – a daunting task well executed.

Blessed’s talk ranged from his acting work to his many explorations and mountaineering adventures.  His recollections of the Flash Gordon movie, and it’s well deserved appreciation by audiences the world over, were affectionately told.  An unmissable audience with a real living legend.

In the afternoon I took some photos and looked around the stalls again.  Unfortunately, this years SFW again clashed with MCM Memorabilia in Birmingham, so genre based merchandise was thin on the ground.  I picked up some cool Elvira cocktail glasses though!

A good feature this year was the retro gaming section, where numerous old consoles could be played for free.  This was very popular, and although I don’t play video games it meant I always knew where to find my crew if we split up.  They were always playing games…

Every year at SFW, the Cosplay final is something to behold.  There’s always a sense of excitement in the air, as the costumed competitors take the stage.  And every year, the audience and competitors are enthusiastic and good natured.  Everyone cheers for each other, and there’s a real sense of community.  It’s nice to witness all the attendees rooting for each other; even though there will always be favourites, there is no bitterness.

The costumes were exceptional, as you can see (hopefully) from the photos here.  Not everyone entered the competition, but there were so many great costumes whether they were entering or just dressing up for fun.  Massive respect to everyone.

I find it great fun spotting and naming the characters.  The variety and imagination on show is consistently astounding, not to mention the talent that goes into making the costumes.  So again, thanks to all the Cosplayers for letting me take your photos.  Too many of my pics didn’t work out.  I also missed far too may opportunities.  But I hope that the photos here capture some of the creativity I witnessed.

And I sincerely apologise for not dressing up!  I lost count of the number of people who chastised me (with good humour, of course) for not dressing as Tony Stark…

Anyway, there can only be one winner of the Cosplay final, and that was the Robot Overlord fellow.  I can’t remember the character’s name, but I swear it was truly incredible!

Later on in the evening, I zoomed over to the Prog Rock area to catch some music.  I was very happy to catch the Focus set; the song “Hocus Pocus” was an obvious highlight.  I only saw a couple of songs by Ian Anderson (of Jethro Tull fame) – though they were impressive – before heading back to the spaceport.

For the rest of the evening, my compadre, Ste and myself had a few beers and hung around with various SFW attendees.  We saw some old pals and met a few new ones.  I took more photos – including the now traditional “no photos” social media-proof shades pics.  And we managed to stay up partying till after 2 in the morning!

Not such a good thing going home Sunday…

Still, another great time at Sci Fi Weekender.  And yes, Greeny and Kurt got better, thanks for asking.

If you were there, it was good to see you.  Hopefully we’ll see you next year.

And big thanks to Adam, who organised the whole thing for us!

The Sci Fi Weekender site is here.

The HRH Prog site is here.

PS: There are photos left unpublished, so there will be Bonus Scenes in a few weeks.  Be warned!

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Cosplay winner!

Skateboard Museum Update: My First Skateboard Photos

IMG_4251My first skate board – new photos

The very first skateboard related post I wrote for the Virtual Hot Tub concerned, quite appropriately, my very first skateboard.  There was only one photo to accompany the article however, and that wasn’t much good.  So, as per the update I did regarding the Variflex Joker, here are a few additional shots of this classic board.

Now in my collection for over thirty five years, this skateboard is the one I learned to skate on.  It was a gift from my Gran; but was neglected for a few years.  Eventually I was bitten by the skateboarding bug, and it was this board that gave me that first taste.

This is a very old, and now faded, plastic board from the 1970’s heyday of skateboarding.  The deck is plastic, like many of the skateboards of the time that served to introduce us to the sport/art.  We called these plastic boards “polyprops” back in the day – as in polypropylene, which the boards were supposedly made out of.  I’m not sure if polyprop is a local term or not.

Plastic skateboards have been given a whole new life recently, with the popularity of Penny skateboards.  The development of this retro trend certainly puts a smile on this old skate dog’s face.

On the nose of the deck is what I assume to be the brand name – Albert.  I’ve not seen this company anywhere else – if you know anyhting about them, please leave a comment and let me know.

The trucks are metal, though I have no idea what the wheels are made of.  The wheels are hard, and are sealed with a protector over the bearings.  The wheels have always been like this as far as I remember, so I assume they’re not a softer plastic that’s decayed over time.

Once red, now faded to pink, I still love this old board.  I’m very glad I still have it.

You can read the original blog about My First Skateboard here.

The Greatest Skateboard Graphic Ever

Santa Cruz Rob Roskopp “Face”

Everyone has their own personal choice.  Over the years I’ve seen many amazing skateboard graphics – some intricate, some clever, some stupid, some risque.  Back in the 80’s it was mostly skulls and gore.  At the end of the decade, these themes became extinct, replaced by ironic cartoons and brand logo appropriation.  You name it, it’s probably been featured on a deck somewhere.  There are great examples of art of all styles.

The two giants of skateboard graphics in the 80’s, at least in my eyes, were Vernon Courtland Johnson and Jim Phillips.  VCJ created the many iconic designs for Powell Peralta such as the Ripper and Skull and Sword.  Awesome graphics that made my eyeballs pop, as a kid nurtured on comic book art and monsters.

The art of Jim Phillips featured on many Santa Cruz decks, including classic pro decks for Jeff Kendall, Jeff Grosso and Jason Jessee.  My absolute favourite though was the Rob Roskopp street model, with a huge ugly face on it.

I first saw the Roskopp graphic in my sisters Smash Hits magazine, of all places.  They did one of those lame “introduction to skateboarding” type of features, with things like “how to talk like a skateboarder”.  It did feature UK hardcore band The Stupids however, and a model holding the deck in question.

As soon as I saw it, I loved that graphic.  It was big, bold and over the top – but beautifully detailed.

A couple of years later, I eventually acquired a Santa Cruz Roskopp Face of my own.  The deck itself was white, with the graphic in black screaming out from the bottom of the board.  I was very happy that regardless of the fantastic art, it was a great shape and well made board.  So the decision wasn’t made purely on the artwork. IMG_2797

I don’t remember what happened to that particular deck, I probably wore it out and swapped it with someone.  There’s a photo of it somewhere.

A few years ago, I picked up a reissue of the Roskopp deck.  It’s yellow, with the same great graphic as I had all those years ago.  It’s never been skated – I keep this one on the wall, right above my desk (I have other boards for actually skating).  It hangs there as a proud reminder, and an example of great skateboard art.  That’s what this skateboard is to me – pure art.

In my opinion, the Santa Cruz Rob Roskopp “face” is the best skateboard graphic ever.

Check out the latest reissue here.

The Santa Cruz website is here.

Skateboard Museum Update: Variflex Joker Photos

Variflex Joker – new photos

You may remember recently that my post about my Variflex Joker skateboard was the fifth most read article of the year.  All well and good, but the photo used to accompany that blog post wasn’t the best.

So I have attempted to make up for that earlier oversight here, with some more pics of the board in question.

Remember this skateboard isn’t the original one I rode in the 80’s – I found this on a site selling old boards and snapped it up.  It was brand new, complete – sealed in plastic and everything.  Nice bit of kit for my collection.

Please take a look at the original post about the Variflex Joker here.

Sci-Fi Action Figures

Science fiction action figures are the basis for any good toy collection.  My collection of Star Wars toys goes right back to the late 1970’s, and I’ll get round to posting some pictures of those in the future.  Oh yes, it shall happen.  Any requests, let me know.

In the meantime, I thought I’d showcase some alternative items that have been lurking around for over thirty years.  These figures aren’t always mint condition, and rarely have all the accessories they came boxed with.  And there are certainly no boxes (or cards) now, as they were all actually played with…

Battlestar Galatica figures

These 3 3/4″ action figures were produced by Mattel in the late 1970’s, to coincide with the release of the television show.  They were obviously aiming to emulate the phenomenal success of Kenner’s Star Wars figures.

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Battlestar Galactica figures

On the left of the photo is the Imperious Leader figure, all in good condition – but then other than the cloak, he didn’t have any accessories.  In the middle is Commander Adama, who bears a slight resemblance to Lorne Greene.  Unfortunately Adama’s cloak and gun are long gone.  The Cylon Centurion is the coolest figure here, though mine has lost a lot of his silver finish.  The laser gun is around however, though I didn’t use it for the picture.  The Cylon was my first Battlestar Galactica toy, a present from my Dad.

There were some other cool figures produced in this line, in particular the Ovion and Daggit were great.  Unfortunately I never owned either.  I would’ve also loved a Lt. Starbuck, but I never saw one.  Ever.

Great show, Battlestar Galactica – I love the original and the rebooted, recent version.

The Black Hole figures

Disney’s The Black Hole, however, was not that great a movie.  At least not when I saw it on TV as a kid.  Maybe I should try it again, to see if I was just too young to dig it.

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The Black Hole figures

The action figures for this film, again 3 3/4″ like Star Wars figures – were multi jointed.  As a result, the human figures were rather frail.  I had a few of them, now reduced to limbless torsos.

No matter – the stars of the show were the robots, and here we have two of the best.  The Sentry Robot (left) was particularly cool, with a holster to hold his pistol.  I have the gun safe, so this one’s probably worth a load on ebay.  Note the joints which are clearly visible.

Also, we have V.I.N.CENT – a cool design for a robot.  Laser guns and big, cute eyes.

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Blake’s 7 Liberator

Blake’s 7 

Not an action figure – this is a Corgi toy of the Liberator spaceship from BBC sci-fi serial, Blake’s 7.  You can see the Corgi stamp on the photo.  Quite a cool design for a TV spaceship.  I quite liked Blake’s 7 when I was a kid, and remember being surprised at the end…

I have lots of fond memories of finding and playing with these toys when I was young.  They’re  great souvenirs of old films, and fun times – and imagination.

Bat Mobile and Captain Americar

As promised, I am introducing some new topics tot the Virtual Hot Tub for 2014.  To begin, an excursion into the world of toys is presented here for you.

For this very first Toy based post, here are some pictures of the Bat Mobile and Captain Americar.  These were produced by Mego in the 1970’s.  Both are from my collection and have been in my possession since the early 80’s.

Mego were one of the leading toy companies of the 1970’s.  Amongst their most popular lines were the World’s Greatest Super Heroes: 8 inch action figures of popular comic book heroes with cloth costumes.  They produced lines of both DC and Marvel characters, meaning you could create epic adventures spanning the properties – such as Thor versus Green Arrow.  Or Hulk versus Batman.  Or anything else you could imagine.

Alas, my Mego super heroes are lost to the mists of time, scattered into broken fragments.  All I have left are these two vehicles, and some great memories.

Bat Mobile

Modelled after the Bat Mobile in the classic Adam West sixties television show, this vehicle can carry both Batman and Robin into action. IMG_2497

Captain Americar

Captain America’s car.  See what they did there?  The cool feature on this vehicle is that Cap’s shield on the front of the car is thrust forward with the flick of the switch, to knock bad guys off their feet.  Or your sister’s Barbie dolls, whatever. IMG_2066

As I no longer have the heroes to go with these vehicles, they may well find their way onto Ebay in the future.  We shall see.

Check out the Mego Museum here.