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.

Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub #8

OK, so Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub is not a dating service.  What it is, is me spending an evening playing through my ever growing stack of 45 rpm vinyl singles and having a drink or three.

Here’s the latest batch of 7 inch goodness:

  1. Elvis Presley – “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me” / “Patch It Up”
  2. Siouxsie & The Banshees – “Song From the Edge of the World” / “The Whole Price of Blood”
  3. The Rolling Stones – “Undercover of the Night” / “All the Way Down”
  4. Queen – “Headlong” / “All God’s People”
  5. Ozzy Osbourne – “Shot in the Dark” / “Rock’n’Roll Rebel”
  6. The KLF – “What Time is Love? (Live at Transcentral)” / “What Time is Love? (Techno Gate Mix)”
  7. Linda Lusardi – “Eye Contact” / “Eye Contact (Club Mix)”
  8. Philip Bailey – “Easy Lover (with Phil Collins)” / “Woman”
  9. Albert King – “Born Under a Bad Sign” / “I Got the Blues”
  10. Isaac Hayes – “Do Your Thing” / “Ellie’s Love Theme (Instrumental)”
  11. Billy Idol – “Rebel Yell” / “(Do Not) Stand in the Shadows”
  12. Kim Wilde – “Love Blonde” / “Can You Hear It”
  13. Aerosmith – “Love in an Elevator” / “Young Lust”
  14. Talking Heads – “And She Was” / “Perfect World”
  15. Shakin’ Stevens – “Because I Love You” / “Tell Me One More Time”
  16. Samantha Fox – “Do Ya Do Ya (Wanna Please Me)” / “Never Gonna Fall in Love Again”
  17. Can – “I Want More” / “More”
  18. ABBA – “Knowing Me, Knowing You” / “Happy Hawaii”
  19. KC & The Sunshine Band – “That’s the Way (I Like It)” / “Queen of Clubs”
  20. Madonna – “Into the Groove” / “Shoo-Bee-Doo”
  21. Dean Martin – “Return to Me” / “Forgetting You”
  22. Roxy Music – “Pyjamarama” / “The Pride and the Pain”
  23. Steve Winwood – “Valerie” / “Talking Back to the Night (Instrumental Version)”
  24. Glen Campbell – “Why Don’t We Just Sleep on it Tonight (with Tanya Tucker)” / A Daisy a Day”

The selection above was, as always, determined by whatever was next on the pile.  There’s no choosing songs involved, it’s just playing the records in order.

But what a great selection that was!  Not one, but two 1980’s Page 3 legends; plus a load of tunes from classic rock to pop, country and soul.

By the way: What’s Madonna and a piece of toilet paper got in common?

They both get into the groove!  HAHA!

I had a great time spinning these tunes, more soon.

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!

My Top 10 Christmas Songs

I’ve chickened out of writing this list for a long time.  That’s because there are so many great Christmas songs, that it’s a real struggle to narrow it down to just 10.  There are a few songs that simply have to be on the list, but I cringe thinking about those that didn’t make the it.

But I’ve been really ruthless, and narrowed it down to ten classic Christmas tunes that I love:

10. The Waitresses – “Christmas Wrapping”

A great, funky little pop number that always gets me dancing in the aisles doing my Christmas shopping.  I know nothing about this group other than this song, but this is sheer class.

9. Ramones – “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight)”

The Ramones hark back to their 70’s glam rock influences with this festive banger.  It’s great to have a really influential, cool band in the top 10 (much better than Wham! for example).

8. Showaddywaddy – “Hey Mr Christmas”

This Showaddywaddy song is criminally unknown these days.  It really is a classic bit of 70’s stomping/clapping/singalong fun.  Do yourself a favour and rediscover this gem now!

7. Dean Martin – “”I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm”

There are loads of awesome Christmas tunes from the master, Dean Martin (Baby It’s Cold Outside, Let It Snow!…, etc).  But this track is my top pick from Deano, if only for the wonderfully uplifting instrumental introduction.  You can argue if this tune is actually a Christmas song or not, but it’s on the indispensable “Ultra Lounge Christmas Cocktails” album, so I’m claiming it.

6. Wizzard –  “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday”

Another glam rock 70’s nugget.  Absolutely essential.  It seems like I’ve heard this song all my life – I probably have – and it never gets boring.  Christmas magic!

5. The Crystals – “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”

Timeless stuff from the wonderful “A Christmas Gift For You from Phil Spector” album.  You’ve heard this song on film soundtracks, everywhere – it instantly conjures up a vivid feeling of Christmas nostalgia.  Superb.

4. Darlene Love – “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”

Another track from the Phil Spector record (if you don’t own it, get it.  You need it).  The fantastic intro and Wall of Sound production are just perfect.  Sends a Christmassy shiver down your spine every time.

3. The Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl – “Fairytale of New York”

Nowadays it’s as traditional as Christmas pud.  “Fairytale of New York” has grown on me massively over the years – it’s now an essential part of the festivities.

2. Shakin’ Stevens – “Merry Christmas Everyone”

Instantly recognisable, the Welsh Elvis rocks out a total seasonal masterpiece.  Newsflash: Shaky is, was, and always will be COOL.  This song is crucial for any Crimbo fun.

So what’s number one in my festive all time top ten?  It can only be…

1. Slade – “Merry Christmas Everybody”

Forget the Coca Cola truck, the official start of the Christmas (not “holiday”) season is when you first hear Noddy bellow “It’s Chriiisstmaaaaasss!”  In the 1970’s, Christmas was great.  This is the sound of every family get together from then and ever since.  Unbeatable.

There you go – my Top 10 Christmas songs.  I may need to re-visit this next year, maybe do a top 20 – just to cover off a few of the great songs that didn’t make this list.

Though there’s no way that East fucking 17 will ever get in here.

Merry Christmas to all my readers! 

St. David’s Day Playlist

Happy St. David’s Day!

To celebrate, here’s my Wales themed playlist, featuring some of the great Welsh artists from over the years.

  1. Tom Jones – “Green, Green Grass of Home”
  2. Manic Street Preachers – “A Design for Life”
  3. Catatonia – “International Velvet”
  4. Feeder – “Buck Rogers”
  5. Goldie Lookin Chain – “Guns Don’t Kill People, Rappers Do”
  6. Budgie – “Breadfan”
  7. Duffy – “Mercy”
  8. Super Furry Animals – “Ice Hockey Hair”
  9. Stereophonics – “Local Boy in the Photograph”
  10. Charlotte Church – “Call My Name”
  11. The Alarm – “68 Guns”
  12. The Joy Formidable – “Whirring”
  13. Bullet For My Valentine – “Fever”
  14. Shakin’ Stevens & Bonnie Tyler – “A Rockin’ Good Way (To Mess Around and Fall in Love)”
  15. Propellerheads ft. Miss Shirley Bassey – “History Repeating”
  16. Bryn Terfel – “Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau”

A mix of genres there, with some absolute legends in attendance.  Shakey and Bonnie on one song, together?  Awesome.  I chose a less obvious Shirley Bassey number also.  From classic pop, to metal, to indie pop to rap; Wales has it covered.

Can you think of any more Welsh artists to add to this list?  Leave a comment and let me know.

Questions #7: Christmas Songs

It’s Christmas time, there’s no need to be afraid.  Not that there’s any doubt that we’re in the festive season – there are decorations, lights, and yes, songs, everywhere.  Christmas songs are the cherry on the top, the star on the tree – and they’re inescapable right now, whether you’re shopping or just watching TV.

So what’s your favourite Christmas song?  I did some research and this is what I found.

There were some rules: basically, it had to be a song about Christmas; with a Christmassy theme or “sound”.  A Christmas number one therefore doesn’t necessarily count, much as I love Rage Against the Machine.  Traditional or pop, here are the results.

Q: What’s your favourite Christmas song?

Jess: “Merry Christmas Everyone” – Shakin’ Stevens

Ash: “Fairytale of New York” – The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl

Lynne: “Fairytale of New York” – The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl

Tom: “Merry Christmas Everyone” – Shakin’ Stevens

Matt: “Last Christmas” – Wham!

Dave W: “Stop the Cavalry” – Jona Lewie

Mike W: “Fairytale of New York” – The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl

Imam: “Jingle Bells” (Traditional)

Jayne: “Fairytale of New York” – The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl

Alix: “Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End)” – The Darkness

Stu: “Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End)” – The Darkness

Jade: “All I Want for Christmas is You” – Mariah Carey

Michelle: “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday” – Wizzard

Jamie: “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” – Brenda Lee

Terry: “Fairytale of New York” – The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl

Sam: “A Spaceman Came Travelling” – Chris De Burgh

David R: “The Night Santa Went Crazy” – “Weird Al” Yankovic

Sue R: “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” – Band Aid

Nathan: “All I Want for Christmas is You” – Mariah Carey

Ben G: “Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End)” – The Darkness

Sarah: “Fairytale of New York” – The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl

Jack: “All I Want for Christmas is You” – Mariah Carey

Me: “Merry Christmas Everybody” – Slade

So there you have it: the popular choice for people’s favourite is The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl’s “Fairytale of New York”.  Great song.  Should’ve been a Christmas number one.

Only one vote for Slade???  Never mind, at least the vile monstrosity that is East 17 didn’t get a vote.

If you’d like to let me know your personal favourite Christmas song, leave a comment.  Disagree with these choices?  Are you an East 17 fan?  Let me know.

“It’s CHRIIIIIISSSSTMAAAASSSSS!!!”