Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

I can’t remember when I was first aware of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but as a big comic book reader in the 1980s it was kind of inevitable that we’d cross paths.  Cleverly playing with some popular comic tropes, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird created a pop culture phenomenon almost by accident.

I do remember the Ninja Turtles and their creators getting a shout out in the “thank you” list of the “Among the Living” album by thrash metal kings Anthrax.  The book seemed quirky and original, it’s popularity boosted with a reputation for genuinely great writing and art.

Next came the cartoon, a couple of years later.  This was the turtles tidied up for a younger audience and it became a massive hit.  I was about 17 at the time (!), but enjoyed watching the cartoon occasionally as a bit of tongue in cheek fun.  I was being ironic, honest.

The toys that were made at the time were very cool; for the era they seemed very well designed and super detailed.  I was far too old for the action figures, but secretly coveted them from afar.

Eventually I picked up the figure of my favourite turtle, Michaelangelo.  He must have been on sale somewhere post turtles craze,’cos this would’ve been in my student days and thus, extremely poor.  He was a perfect ironic, “look how wacky I am” student possession.

Sadly, Mikey disappeared – I know not where – and once again, I was completely turtle-less.

Until a couple of years ago, when taking my daughter on one of her last trips to Toys R Us, before it closed for good.  They had on sale re-issued turtles, exactly like the old versions I loved, and they were cheap (ish).

I replaced Michaelangelo there and then, and over the next few days was so eager to complete a collection of all four turtles that I returned to buy others.  With a little bit of toy spotting help from my old pal Adam, I was soon in business with a full team of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

At the moment, I only have the full group of Leonardo, Donatello, Michaelangelo and Raphael.  It would be great to have Splinter, Shredder and more one day, but I doubt they’ll turn up cheap.

The four turtles are great figures, nicely stylised and featuring great detail.  And awesome weapons.

All four are still Mint in Box.  How long can I resist the urge to release the guys from their blister pack prisons?  Surely one night I’ll have had a little bit too much to drink, and decide to tear that plastic from the backing card…

What do you think readers?  Should the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles stay in their boxes, or should I open them up?

Platinum Al’s Top 10 Rock/Metal Albums of 2019

2019 has been an exceptional year for new music.  It started off slowly, but by the end of the year I was struggling to keep up.

As per last year, Ever Metal asked me to produce a Top Ten of my favourite rock and metal albums of the year.  So here we go:

  1. Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard – Yn Ol I Annwn
  2. Speedealer – Blue Days Black Nights
  3. Obey – Swallow The Sun
  4. Acid Reign – The Age of Entitlement
  5. Sunn O))) – Life Metal
  6. Earth – Full Upon Her Burning Lips
  7. Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovel – Very Uncertain Times
  8. Giant Dwarf – Giant Dwarf
  9. Monolord – No Comfort
  10. Crobot – Motherbrain

All fantastic records.  Honorable mentions this time to Kadavar, Firebreather, L7, Wizard Rifle and Duel.

For more rock reviews, interviews and top tens, head over to Ever Metal.

Happy New Year everybody – wishing you a very healthy and prosperous 2020!

And thanks for vising Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub!  Make sure you come back next year, and if you’ve got any requests or suggestions, please get in touch.

Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub #7

I had another great night recently, playing a load of old 7″ singles.  What happens is, I acquire these singles from record fairs, charity shops or maybe contributions from friends – and I spend an evening playing through the pile.  The’re stacked in order of how long I’ve had them – oldest near the top – and not organised in any way.

So I get a few drinkies down me and play the records in the order they reveal themselves.  Which can be fun – no skipping, play whatever’s next in the pile.

This system always means that no matter how many cool songs I play, there’s always a few dodgy tracks in there too.  But then let’s just call those less aspirational songs “guilty pleasures”, and enjoy them for what they are.

Last time, I claimed that the rest of the stack of 45 rpm magic wouldn’t reach as high a standard.  I was wrong.  Here’s the playlist, which includes some absolute monsters…

  1. Elvis Presley – “Young and Beautiful” / “True Love” / “Lover Doll” / “Love Me Tender”
  2. AC/DC – “Whole Lotta Rosie” / “Hell Ain’t a Bad Place To Be”
  3. W.A.S.P. – “Mean Man” / “Locomotive Breath”
  4. The Beatles – “Can’t Buy Me Love” / “You Can’t Do That”
  5. Anthrax – “Anti-Social” / “Parasite”
  6. The Hawaiian Islanders – “Hawaiian War Chant” / “Song of the Islands” / “One, Two, Three, Four” / “On the Beach at Waikiki” / “Sweet Leilani” / “Aloha Oe”
  7. Johnny Cash – “It Ain’t Me Babe” / “Understand Your Man” / “Five Feet High and Rising” / “I Walk the Line”
  8. Stiff Little Fingers – “At the Edge” / “Silly Encores, Autumn 1979”
  9. Spagna – “Call Me” / “Girl, It’s Not the End of the World”
  10. Tenpole Tudor – “The Swords of a Thousand Men” / “Love and Food”
  11. The Rolling Stones – “It’s All Over Now” / “Good Times, Bad Times”
  12. Belinda Carlisle – “Vision of You” / “Leave a Light On For Me (Kamikazee Mix)”
  13. Salt-n-Pepa – “Push It (US Remix)” / “I Am Down” / “Tramp”
  14. Fat Boys – “The Twist (Yo, Twist)” / “The Twist (Buffapella)”
  15. Bananarama – “Cruel Summer” / “Summer Dub”
  16. Thin Lizzy – “Cold Sweat” / “Bad Habits”
  17. Heaven 17 – “Temptation” / “We Live So Fast”
  18. Hammer – “Addam’s Groove (LP Mix)” / “Street Soldiers (Saxapella Reprise)”
  19. Philip Lynott – “Yellow Pearl” / “Girls”
  20. Senser – “The Brunt”
  21. Siouxsie & the Banshees – “The Staircase (Mystery)” / “20th Century Boy”

Fantastic stack of singles!  Some absolute classics with a couple of cheesy horror stories.  Any playlist that includes AC/DC and the Beatles can’t be half bad.  I’ll be doing some more of these singles nights soon, stay tuned!

Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub #6

Welcome to another Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub with your host, Platinum Al!

As previous, I spent the evening listening to a stack of 45 rpm singles that I’d acquired over time from several sources.  Whilst imbibing some fine alcohol.  The following is a list of those singles, A and B sides listened to in order.

There are some particularly sweet slabs of vinyl in this edition.  As always, however, we’re never too far away from some rank cheese…

  1. INXS – “The Gift” / “The Gift (Extended Mix)”
  2. Sweet – “Action” / “Sweet F.A.”
  3. Rod Stewart – “Reason to Believe” / “Maggie May”
  4. The KLF – “America: What Time is Love?” / “America No More”
  5. ABBA – “Mamma Mia” / “Tropical Loveland”
  6. Elvis Presley – “Trouble” / “Young Dreams” / “Crawfish” / “Dixieland Rock”
  7. Cream – “Strange Brew” / “Tales of Brave Ulysses”
  8. Right Said Fred – “I’m Too Sexy” / “I’m Too Sexy (Instrumental)”
  9. Anthrax – “Indians” / “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” / “Taint”
  10. The Stranglers – “All Day and All of the Night” / “Viva Vlad!”
  11. W.A.S.P. – “I Don’t Need No Doctor” / “Widowmaker”
  12. Beastie Boys – “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)” / “Time to Get Ill”
  13. Iron Maiden – “The Clairvoyant” / “The Prisoner”
  14. AC/DC – “Let’s Get It Up” / “Back in Black”
  15. Yes – “Into the Lens” / “Does It Really Happen?”
  16. Marillion – “Incommunicado” / “Going Under”
  17. Kim Wilde – “Cambodia” / Watching for Shapes”
  18. The Beatles – “Day Tripper” / “We Can Work It Out”
  19. The Spencer Davis Group – “Keep On Running” / “Somebody Help Me” / “Every Little Bit Hurts” / “I’m a Man” / “Gimme Some Lovin'”
  20. Booker T and the M.G.s – “Time is Tight” / “Hang ‘Em High”
  21. The Byrds – “Mr Tambourine Man” / “I Knew I’d Want You”
  22. The Skids – “Circus Games” / “Onedecree”
  23. Manuel & The Music of the Mountains – “The Portugese Washer Women” / “Never on Sunday”

Note: the B-side of the Anthrax single is actually their track “Imitation of Life”. 

I’m mighty proud of that selection.  Not that I had anything to do with it, the choice was random – I just took whatever disc was top of the pile and made my way through.

But what a bunch of scorchers!  One of my favourite Beatles tracks; Cream; Booker T; some classic metal and the Beastie Boys.  It doesn’t get better than that.

Or rather, it won’t.  Most of the rest of the pile of 7″ singles isn’t up to that quality…

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!

Gama Bomb – Speed Between the Lines Album Review

Here’s my recent review of the new Gama Bomb album, which appeared on the Ever Metal website.  Reproduced here with permission; enjoy! 

Gama Bomb – Speed Between the Lines

AFM Records

Release date: 12/10/2018

Running time: 35.07

Review by: Alun Jones

8/10

Hello and welcome to Thrash School.  For today’s lesson, you will need:

  • Skin tight jeans (preferably with ripped knees)
  • Faded Acid Reign t-shirt
  • Studded leather belt and 1x studded leather wrist band
  • White hi-top leather Converse
  • Black leather jacket (denim vest over jacket optional)
  • Baseball cap with “NOT” written under the peak

Because today we will be listening to the new album by Gama Bomb, entitled “Speed Between the Lines”.

These merry metallers have an uncanny ability to rewind the cassette of time to a simpler age.  It’s like grunge never happened.  Instead, we get twelve face-lacerating tunes that rush by in uncompromising fashion.  This is thrash metal, kids, buckle up for the ride.

Eighties thrash was often pre-occupied with party bum-out vibes like nuclear destruction.  Apparently, it’s a post-Cold War world though, so these boys don’t wallow in misery for too long.  Not that they don’t have a social conscience: witness the admirable stab at the current political climate in “Alt Reich”.

But they’re just as happy dedicating an ode to Kurt Russell, which is perfectly justified in my opinion.  Kurt is, of course, an icon of twentieth century popular culture.  Not convinced? Go watch The Thing and Big Trouble in Little China and you can thank me later.

Back to the music.  Although diversity isn’t Gama Bomb’s strong point – Master of Puppets this ain’t – the listener is rewarded with a dozen tracks that speed by relentlessly.  The musicianship is amazing, with blitzkrieg lead guitar all over the place.

The occasional change of pace would add some additional colour, but you can’t fault the commitment and enthusiasm of this band.  This album is the full package with cool themes and some of the best song titles I’ve heard in a long time (666teen? Give them an award NOW).  The music is intense and exciting in equal measure, bringing to mind classic Overkill, Anthrax and Nuclear Assault.

So dig out your old Variflex skateboard and ask your big brother’s mate to buy you a two litre bottle of cider from the Co-op.  With Gama Bomb you can party like it’s 1987.  This history lesson is over.

Visit the Ever Metal website here.

Krull – The Black Coast Album Review

Here’s my latest album review from EVER METAL, reproduced here with permission.  Enjoy! 

Krull – The Black Coast

Iron Shield Records

Release date: 27/04/2018

Running Time: 42.32

Review by: Alun Jones

6/10 

KRULL!  Did you ever see the movie?  It’s GREAT!  On the ancient world of Krull, Prince Colwyn brings together a band of scoundrels to help him rescue Princess Lyssa from the clutches of the evil Beast, who threatens to conquer the planet.  It’s a sci-fi fantasy adventure with a Cyclops, cool weapons, vile baddies, Tucker Jenkins and Lysette Anthony.  I mean seriously, you need to see this film.  How metal does it sound?  Even the bad guys are called “Slayers”!

The band Krull occupy a musical space which is openly very inspired by fantasy, battles and all things sword and sorcery.  And right from the off, it’s a whole lot of fun.  The atmospheric intro “In the Woods” grabs the listener and plunges them into the ethereal world that Krull have concocted, and it’s pretty much full on from there.

Pace-wise, “The Black Coast” is like riding shotgun in a barbarian’s chariot, charging an army of Orcs.  Stand out tracks for me included “By Steel” and “The King and the Sword”, but the whole album is energetic traditional metal.  If you’re a fan of Priest, Maiden and the mighty Manowar you’ll find something to enjoy here.  Only midway track “Valhalla” slows things down a little, otherwise it’s a fast and brutal campaign.

So why only 6 out of 10?  Well there are lots of plus points with this album.  The vocals are suitably bonkers, ranging from powerful cries, deep growls to a high pitched, witchy cacophony.  The musicianship is great, and the rhythm section successfully keep the march relentless.  The songs are fast and filled with fantastic tales of battles and bravery.

But the guitar tone was just off for me.  I like something with more crunch; more skull smashing intensity.  After the cool intro, first track “The Witch”, whilst a great song, suffers from a languid guitar sound that slices the records hamstrings before the fight is really on.

Don’t misunderstand me, the playing is great – it’s the production that’s slightly lacking.  The guitars should be much more axe in the face, blood and brains everywhere.

There’s still a lot to recommend Krull’s “The Black Coast” though.  Especially if you dig your metal as a soundtrack to a rampaging berserker, attacking a horde of evil ghouls.

Oh, and get down to your local Blockbuster and rent the Krull video.  You won’t regret it.  It makes Lord of the Rings look like a bad Dungeons and Dragons game in a crack den.

Click here for the EVER METAL website, where you’ll find tons more reviews of albums and gigs by awesome bands!

www.facebook.com/krullheavymetal/

https://krullofficial.bandcamp.com/

www.instagram.com/krull.official/

The Crippens – Gig Review

The Crippens + Emissaries of Syn + Ballpein + Soulless System + Abominate + Spam Javelin

Saturday 19th May 2018

The Tivoli, Buckley

Six bands spanning a range of punk, hardcore, thrash and death metal – all for £7.50?  You count Platinum Al in, guv’nor!  Anticipating a night of good ol’ fashioned face melting tunes I was off to the Tivoli in Buckley for what seemed the first time in absolute yonks.

As I bounded into the Tiv and was drawn like a magnet straight to the bar, our first band of the evening – Spam Javelin – had started playing.  They play fast, loud and fun hardcore punk, with a dose of well placed humour.  I was very impressed by Spam Javelin’s set and need to check them out again.  Recommended and a good start to the night!

Up next were Abominate, who’s music was essentially a revved up a chainsaw thrown into a pit of acid vipers.  It’s full on death/thrash metal and by ‘eck, it is good.  Intense and with a crafty helping of heavy, crunching sludge to boot – Abominate are a force of nature and very superb indeed.

Local band Soulless System were up next.  Their sound is heavy, grinding and brutal thrash – though their set seems dogged by sound issues tonight.  It perhaps doesn’t help that they don’t use a live drummer.  It’s a shame as the band can obviously play and have some very tasty riffs.  Get these boys a drummer and sort the sound and they’ll light it up.

Then what happened?  Oh yeah, Ballpein played and smashed my face in.  Repeatedly.  Amazing band, full on hardcore punk with a metallic edge: if you want exciting, fast songs and brutal riffage this is the band for you.  Ballpein are also amazingly good on stage, confident and having fun as they grind out their (not very) delicate ballads about serial killers.

Another North Wales crew, Emissaries of Syn, played next – attacking with their blend of crusty grinding noise.  EOS are relentless and played a non stop set of mind warping punk thrash goodness.  Great stuff and again, confidently played on the big Tiv stage.  I’ll keep an eye open for more.

Finally, our revered headliners took to the stage and belted out some classic hardcore punk.  Once they were Doctor and, now they’re just The Crippens, but this reformed bunch of maniacs disguised as musicians are back and slaying all before them.  A great set, I have never before witnessed such a mesmerising gang of misfits in the wild.  Perhaps a tear escaped as I reminisced about long ago 80’s skate rock.  Whatever, I am SO glad I got to see this band live.

And that was it, another great night at the Tivoli.  Well done to the bands who played; thanks to the Tiv for being brave enough to put on something a bit different; and full marks to Knoxy who organised this and helped raise some funds for mental health care in the process.  A legend.

 

You can find all the bands above on Facebook, it’s easy.

The Tivoli website is here. 

The Men That Will Not Be Blamed for Nothing – Gig Review

The Men That Will Not Be Blamed for Nothing + IDestroy

Tuesday 20th March 2018

Live Rooms, Chester

Please do accept my humble apologies for the delay, good sirs and ladies – one has had a considerable amount of business to attend to before this esteemed review of the above musical personages could be completed.  I’ve been drinking gin, mostly.

Way back in March, I was indeed fortunate enough to witness a spectacle unlike any other in this historic town of Chester.  The Live Rooms: performance theatre hall, proprietor unknown, was the establishment in question; wherein I did encounter a motley band of anarchists known as The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing.

And what an encounter I did experience, dear reader.  Not since that time the circus arrived through town parading an ungodly assortment of freaks and oddities (a Mr Merrick included, no less) have I seen such debauchery.

First of all, the audience and I were entertained by three young ladies, though unlike any other maidens one could classify as such; the wonderful IDestroy.  They were excellent purveyors of the art form known as “punk rock”, wielding mighty instruments that wrought tuneage both aggressive yet delightful.  

I am sure that these estimable young ladies will not begrudge an old fool such as myself in proclaiming that they could not, or indeed should not, be considered “wall flowers”.  IDestroy possessed astonishing songs that proved highly enjoyable; energetic and confidently performed.

A most invigorating start to the evening’s proceedings; one can only ponder: “Why is there not more of this sort of thing readily available”?  Good show, indeed.

And so, our humble headline act claimed the theatre stage, and began a relentless musical bombardment that would be heard across the distant lands of the Empire’s colonies.  The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing were indeed a sight and sound to behold.

Modern listeners may be forgiven for assuming they have witnessed a grown up edition of successful children’s entertainment Horrible Histories, yet with added ferocious guitars.  Though the message within the music is not hidden, the glorious racket TMTWNBBFN portray is fine entertainment, even for those straight into the workhouse with no pretension of education.

The band had mischievousness in abundance; so whilst regaling the gathered revellers with mirth were able to determine their stage presence in a manner unlike any other I have before encountered. 

This, dear reader, is what I believe has been classified as “steampunk” – and what a jolly riot it was.  A cacophony of history, politics and humour accompanied by pulverising rock music – the perfect soundtrack to a evening on the gin in a Whitechapel boozer.

Afterward I departed for my carriage, grinning like a buffoon and clutching a new “record” to play on my phonograph.

With sincere thanks to all concerned, etc. etc.

Find out more about The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing here.

Find out more about IDestroy here.

The Live Rooms website is here.

Thanks to Lynda Rowlands for the brilliant live photos!

Pentre Fest 2018

Pentre Fest

Friday 23rd – Saturday 24th February 2018

McClean’s Pub, Pentre, Deeside

And lo, the marauding hordes converged once more, reconvening from their travels far and wide.  In the Great Hall they would gather, trading tales of daring and adventure, as they caroused with rebellious abandon.  Much ale would be drunk, for tomorrow many a skull would be split asunder.

So began the revelry of Pentre Fest, wherein the brave and mighty warriors celebrated their many victories and remembered comrades long fallen.

The first of the tribes to address the throng were The Forgotten Age, young but mighty in their conviction.  Hailing from the Western Shores of Bangor, their stories were exciting yet accomplished, embellished with some fine melodies.  An exceptional and heartening start to the evening’s merriment.

Next to command the stage were Obey, who were indeed a revelation to behold.  Their immense riffs were sheer brutality, heeding no compromise as they delivered tales of destruction.  Obey were champions of the event to my ears; voraciously did I consume their merchandise (CD and patch!).  May the wind fill their sails and carry them to successful conquests aplenty.

Our next heroes were Torqued, a merciless crew who had engaged in a gruelling voyage from the far kingdom of Devon to regale us with their musical fables.  The clash of metal was devastating, the battle cries rousing.  A superb performance.  Safe voyage home, brothers – for ye shall be missed for now and welcomed warmly again.

The night’s final victors were the relentless, uncompromising Foetal Juice.  Looming over all with a malevolent thunder, the band decimated all in their path.  With grim intent they vanquished the unworthy, leaving only the gratefully redeemed in their wake.

Thus was the first part of Pentre Fest concluded.  Sadly I would embark on a personal quest of my own the next day; therefore being unable to rejoin the ceremony.

Regardless, though our warriors’ hearts were sated, for yet more metal majesty do we crave.  Till the next Pentre Fest, my brothers (and sisters) – stay strong and may your adventures be praised in Valhalla.

The McClean’s Pub Live FB page is here