Tuesday, 28 November 2017

NOVEMBER PLAYLIST


1.  The Lon-Genes – ‘Dream Girl’ (1964)
Featured on Kent’s new Northern Soul’s Classiest Rarities Volume 6 which is an utterly essential purchase – best soul comp I’ve heard in a long time. This bunch of army lads cut this lovely ballad for Romark in Los Angeles.

2.  Alton Ellis – ‘Black Man’s Pride’ (1971)
Title track from a new Soul Jazz Records compilation “from the transitory phase in reggae at the start of the 1970s, after the exhilaration of Ska and following the cooling down of Rocksteady.”

3.  John Gary Williams – ‘The Whole Damn World Is Going Crazy’ (1973)
Williams recorded for Stax with the Mad Lads, served in Vietnam, then returned to Memphis. This is what he found. 

4.  Bottom and Company – ‘Gonna Find A True Love’ (1974)
Bottom and Company? Really? Bottom and Company Gonna Find A True Love? Was that the best name they could find? Fab stab of crossover Motown regardless.

5.  Bob Dylan – ‘Saved’ (1980)
Just don’t go near that Born Again Christian stuff was the refrain when I first found Bob Dylan. Was reasonable advice to a young novice but Trouble No More, the latest instalment of The Bootleg Series, shows what a rousing period that was. This live version of ‘Saved’ would’ve had them rejoicing in the aisles.

6. Daniel Romano – ‘There’s The Door’ (2013)
Just watch Romano sing this George Jones hit. Go on.

7.  The Pretty Things – ‘The Same Sun’ (2015)
Released a couple of years ago on their clunkily titled but impressive The Sweet Pretty Things (Are In Bed Now, Of Course…), this gets a 7 inch EP release in January on Fruit de Mer Records along with their version of ‘Renaissance Fair’ plus two late-60’s live cuts: ‘She Said Good Morning’ and ‘Alexander’.

8.  The Galileo 7 – ‘Live For Yesterday’ (2017)
“Today is just tomorrow’s nostalgia,” sings Allan Crockford. As someone who’s played to packed venues by dusting off memories in reformed Prisoners, Prime Movers, Solar Flares and cranks out oldies in Graham Day and the Forefathers you know where Allan’s coming from and wonder if in years to come his current band will achieve similar better-in-retrospect acclaim. Based on the Galileo 7’s new pop-psych offering Tear Your Minds Wide Open it’s a distinct possibility. Crockford has now cracked this song writing lark and with the Mighty Atom, Mole, moved to his rightful place behind the drumkit, the whole thing swings with justified confidence. Don’t wait until 2040, check them out now.

9.  The Lovely Eggs – ‘Dickhead’ (2017)
Donning their new magical cloaks, The Lovely Eggs were on tour this month. Two things became apparent: they have so many great singles they can afford to drop ‘Don’t Look At Me’ without it being unduly missed and new songs featured from forthcoming album This Is Eggland, including the supersonic, drive-by abusing, ‘Dickhead’ will only add to that impressive score.

10.  Mavis Staples – ‘If All I Was Was Black’ (2017)
Mavis tells us she’s got love to give. She sure has. Oh God, this is wonderful.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

THE GENIUS OF DANIEL ROMANO at the BORDERLINE, LONDON


When Daniel Romano released Modern Pressure earlier this year I phoned my local record emporium to ask if they had it in stock. Sister Ray has been in Soho for decades and have furnished me with countless new independent releases. “Never heard of him,” was the snotty reply. “What is he?” Well, in fairness, this was a reasonable question as record shops like to file goods in easy-to-manage categories but not an easy one to answer. I muttered something about he used to be country (which I knew was gonna conjure hideous visions in the already dismissive mind of said employee. I know it’s offensive to use the C-word in polite company but stay with me, think of Hank, Merle, Gram) but is now more, er, rocky.  Tap-tap-tap into his little computer and “Did he have an album called Mosey?” Yeah, that’s him. “Right. I can see why we’re not stocking him, we didn’t sell a single copy of that.” Oh.

I share this story, dear reader, so you don’t feel bad if Daniel Romano isn’t as familiar a name around your family dinner table as it is mine. If “hip” London record shops are largely ignorant to his oeuvre, and if on a Saturday night in the West End one can rock up to pay a mere ten quid on the door to witness his act in the intimate surroundings of the Borderline, then a six-page feature in Mojo magazine and an appearance on Later With Jools Holland are still , unjustly, some way off.

A brief history: From Welland, Ontario, Romano was in Canadian punk band Attack In Black (I still haven’t listened to them), and has released eight albums since 2009. He began on a folky-country path, went full-on pedal steel and fiddle country, then swerved into a sprawling hotchpotch of styles he calls “Mosey”, incorporating elements of Stonesy rock, Americana, new wave, psychedelia, piano ballads, a mariachi namecheck to Valerie Leon, strings, horns and, if that wasn’t enough, Romano also trades under Ancient Shapes, his punk offshoot. Oh, and he plays almost everything on his records, he’s a talented artist, a leather tooler and can no doubt replace the steering column in a ’57 Chevy while reciting Les Fleurs du mal by Baudelaire.

Last year I saw him play two gigs in one night. Joined by a second guitarist, they sat on stools and played a breath-taking acoustic set where you could’ve heard a pin drop, then a couple of hours later across town a rock and roll set with almost every song from an album nobody had heard. For punters (like me) expecting pedal-steel weepers it was audacious and brass-necked. Brilliantly so. Newport ’65 had nothing on this.

Which moves us along the dictionary to the D-word. As well as the obvious musical influences, from Freewheelin’ to Highway 61 Revisited to Street Legal, Romano’s willingness to change horses midstream, to defy expectation, to change image (he’s had more looks than Carlos The Jackal, and currently appears to be wearing a pair of his old sunglasses), and for his songs to remain living entities in that can be played in a variety of ways, makes him comparable to Bob Dylan. As a Dylan completist that’s not something I’d say lightly. A squiz at YouTube will throw up loads of different versions of songs and, such is Romano’s prolific nature, loads of unreleased songs as his two labels can’t kept pace. For example, ‘Fearless Death Tomorrow’, released on the Ancient Shapes album as a dirty punk thrash is, months later, played acoustically with tinkling piano and double bass.

The Borderline gig last weekend was his last show of the year and executed with the passion of the last show of his life. Opening with “Modern Pressure”, in which Romano unleashed a blood curdling primal scream, he was in scarily blistering form. Not one for looking back, the set was mostly tracks released in little more than a year, yet the manner they were performed was astounding. The album Modern Pressure has a springy, elasticated feel, yet here they were played as heavy, tight rockers with a furious intensity peak Clash or White Stripes might’ve managed. It felt like a skin-shedding, cathartic exercise with songs from the latest album (‘Sucking The Old World Dry’, ‘Impossible Dream’, ‘When I Learned Your Name’ etc), and a few from Mosey including a spirit-raising ‘Dead Medium’, all given a similar treatment. ‘(Gone Is) A Quarry of Stone’ was transformed from a mournful ballad into a terrifying exorcism complete with a guitar solo, effortlessly tossed in, that made my eyes widen and brow arch in admiration. The foot was taken off the gas fleetingly. ‘Roya’, is the most beautiful song of 2017, and in a rare delve into the past (2013 is several Romano lifetimes ago) the tear jerking ‘A New Love (Can Be Found)’ sent shivers down the spine.

Billed as Daniel Romano and Jazz Police (his band featured bass, drums and Farfisa organ), there was zero jazz in a pulverising set (no chat, nary a pause), but should Romano one day pull a trumpet out of his backside to play a few Chet Baker numbers no one will die of shock. Where he’s heading next is a fun game to play and one new song had a 60s garage vibe which then segued into the final verse of The Who’s ‘My Generation’. Perhaps a cheesy choice but the power was up there with anything those Shepherd’s Bush geezers ever did and was about as far from a Porter Wagoner cover Romano could’ve found.

It’s difficult to gage how successful he is back home in Canada, and I’d love to know the reaction of purist country fans to recent developments, but the UK needs to wake up to the mastery of Daniel Romano. As the master of all trades and jack of none, the man is a damn genius. 
Thanks to Michelle Raison for the photos and thanks to Daniel for allowing us to gate crash his dressing room. A few faces of Daniel Romano below. Enjoy.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

THE SEX PISTOLS 1977: THE BOLLOCKS DIARIES (2017)


“Suddenly it was like the whole world hated us. Which I was perfectly fine with, it meant we were doing something right.” John Lydon

As public enemy number one – attacked in the streets, arrested, vilified in the press, banned from venues, banned in shops, banned from the radio, bouncing between record labels, heroin addiction, hepatitis, at war with McLaren – 1977 was, to put it mildly, a tumultuous year for the Sex Pistols.

The Sex Pistols 1977: The Bollocks Diaries recounts the events, blow-by-blow, in a hard-back album-sized new book published to coincide with the 40th anniversary of Never Mind The Bollocks.

Starting the year with the Grundy, “You dirty fucker”, incident still reverberating from December and Glen Matlock soon replaced by Sid Vicious, and ending flying to the US for a tour that’ll see Rotten, “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?”, spilt the band two weeks into ’78, there’s rarely a dull moment.

Told through photographs, cuttings, memorabilia and interviews with the band and their entourage, it’s a chaotic tale of no fun. For all the uproar and agitation they caused – deliberately and inadvertently – at the heart of the Sex Pistols was a band, and Lydon in particular, who wanted to make music. The distractions and hullabaloo meant even surviving the year and recording Bollocks was something of an achievement, that it still sounds today like a tremendous “grinding juggernaut” is a minor miracle.

Film and television documentaries, CD box sets, reunion gigs, mugs, lanyards, coffee table books and whatever else might not be “punk”, and the Sex Pistols have been systematically homogenised, but sticking on that near-perfect album and reading through The Bollocks Diaries is a welcome reminder of when – and setting aside all the lasting cultural influence for a moment – the simple act of being in a band was dangerous, thrilling, challenging and a right pain in the bollocks for everyone.

The Sex Pistols 1977: The Bollocks Diaries as told by the Sex Pistols, is published by Cassell Illustrated. Out now.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

MONKEY'S WANDERING WIRELESS SHOW - SUNDAY 19 NOVEMBER

Apologies for the late postponement a couple of weeks ago but the fine folk at Fusion have juggled the schedule so, if the good Lord's willing and the creek don't rise, Monkey's Wandering Wireless Show will return to the airwaves this Sunday.

As usual it'll be an hour of great music (mostly but not exclusively from the 60s) interrupted on occasion by a barely coherent Bailey's-soaked gibbon.

If that sounds like your idea of fun then tune in. Hit the link below in time for a 8.30pm lift off. And if you fancy it, sign up to Mixlr beforehand or during to join the chat throughout the show with fellow Fusion comrades.

See ya there.

CATCH UP HERE: http://mixlr.com/fusion-on-air/showreel/monkeys-wandering-wireless-show-14/



Saturday, 11 November 2017

JIM JONES & THE RIGHTEOUS MIND and THE FUTURE SHAPE OF SOUND at the MIRTH, MARVEL & MAUD, WALTHAMSTOW

Jim Jones & the Righteous Mind, E17, 10 November 2017
If a ten-piece rock and roll gospel group can’t lift yer spirits, especially when it’s The Future Shape of Sound, then the musical component of your soul is sorely malfunctioning. The sight alone – five sleek and stylish ladies and five dapper hatted gentlemen– is heavenly and their testifying, boogie blues for Jesus, with titles such as ‘Joy’ and ‘Rise Up’ soar and keep lifting higher and higher. A corner of East London transformed into a Louisiana chapel. Good God almighty.

It’s been a gradual process, but Jim Jones & the Righteous Mind are becoming sufficiently distanced from their predecessors, the Jim Jones Revue. The bands aren’t a million miles apart, more like neighbouring towns, but their method of attack differs. The Revue would slash and burn, inflict wounds with razor sharp knives; whereas the Righteous Mind bludgeon using a relentless rhythmic assault with sticks and stones. The Revue meshed the MC5’s manifesto with Jerry Lee Lewis’s great balls of fire; the Mind conjure gothic spells, summon witches and dark spirits, boil your blood, shake chicken bones and rabbits’ feet.

Jim Jones, like in all his previous bands, commands every nook and cranny of the stage, the audience, the room and your blackened soul. This is a man calls, “Let me hear you say yeah!” boarding a number 48 bus and passengers respond "YEAH!" automatically. It's a gift. Tracks from recent debut album Super Natural - ‘No Fool’ ‘Aldecide’, ‘Heavy Lounge, Part 1’, ‘Til It’s All Gone’ - with Jim’s throaty demonic howl and chanting Minds, cook up a spicy gumbo stew greedily devoured by the congregation locked in a foot stomping and hand clapping voodoo trance.

Two bands - one shining a light, the other flicking it off – making a believer in the Church of Rock ‘n’ Roll outta me.
The Future Shape of Sound, E17, 10 November 2017

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

I KNOW THAT I GOT A HEAVY SOUL - VOLUME THREE (2017)


The latest Heavy Soul collection brings together acts from its own label and other combos loosely inhabiting the edges of the Mod universe.

Originality isn’t the name of the game but those expecting Rickenbacker bashing and songs about kids looking for a direction will be disappointed or delighted to hear next to nothing along those lines. The bands fall broadly into two camps: shiny, blue-eyed soul popsters and slightly down at the Cuban heel, grubby beat merchants.

The abysmally named Cow redeem themselves by kicking off proceedings with ‘Hit Me Inside’, a gloriously sunny northern soul style gem to warm the heart. The Sha La Las sing from a similar hymn sheet to Stone Foundation with the mellow soul groove of ‘Leave The Hurtin’ Inside’; less gloss and polish than their more illustrious peers which is no bad thing. Aunt Nelly pounds her funky organ to bring back BritPop memories of the Charlatans and Kula Shaker mixed with Marsha Hunt on ‘Move On’ while King Mojo’s recruitment of Graham Day on production duties is an indication of where they’re coming from (stylistically that is; geographically they’re from North Yorkshire) and the rollicking ‘Glad!’, with the ol’ blues harp accompaniment, adds to their feverish R&B. Four songs in, all using Hammond organ, all very good.

The continental flair of French Boutik’s ‘Le Casse’ is no less a treat and a fine entry point for those unfamiliar with 2016’s Front Pop. As for The Deep 6, it’s not the song so much as the recording quality that lets ‘Don’t Worry About Me’ down. Some bands suit a cheap, recorded-in-the-shed-on-a-4-track lo-fi sound whereas The Deep 6’s Freddie & the Dreamers/Herman’s Hermits pop could do with a more punchier production. Even without knowing anything about The Lost Boys it’s apparent these are a product of a later generation than the rest of side one. ‘China In The Sink’ isn’t a political observation on assertive state capitalism driven by Beijing but a fusing of Oasis and Arctic Monkeys influences.

Side two is more beaty and Logan’s Close more (early to mid-period) Beatles than anyone else here with ‘Listen To Your Mother’, who, I guess, should know. The Pacers caveman stomp their way to ‘A&E’ and The See No Evils get their jangles out for ‘The Love Has Gone Away’. The Beatpack head to the Ealing Club/Eel Pie Island for ‘I’ll Dance’ and The Mourning After follow a similar route with the maraca shaking noise of ‘Cross My Heart’. Best of this bruising bunch is The Chessmen who, despite choosing a title (‘Cunning Linguist’) amusing to only 15-year-old boys, hurtle through their punky adrenaline-soaked romp spouting indecipherable gibberish at unsuspecting passers-by. The Galileo 7’s broadly pop-psych ‘Cold Hearted Stowaway’, is the hardest track to pin down due to not wearing its influences so obviously; perhaps no coincidence it’s the strongest track on side two and among the best tracks the band have done so far.

Listeners will pick their favourites - there’s nothing I particularly dislike here, no tracks requiring a leap from the settee to skip - and while the majority of the bands seem comfortable occupying their own little niche a few offer more ambition. The personnel across the volume is peppered with familiar names from bands stretching back to the 80s and 90s (The Prisoners, Makin’ Time, The Threads, The Clique, The Mystreated etc), reflecting an aging scene, so it’s a pity Heavy Soul’s prodigious young talent, the prolific Paul Orwell, is conspicuous by only providing the artwork.

A short version of this review appears in the current issue of Shindig! magazine. I Know That I Got A Heavy Soul Volume 3 is available on LP and CD (with six extra tracks) from Heavy Soul Records.

Monday, 6 November 2017

FAB RARE SWINGING LONDON FOOTAGE


Wow, look at these. Short and silent film rushes from Swingin’ London: The West End, Carnaby Street, King’s Road.

These have recently been made available by The Kinolibrary, an independent agency specialising in archive footage from around the world. How brilliant everyone and everything looks. See for yourself.