Heavy Soul Records celebrated their tenth birthday on Saturday with a showcase of three acts on the label.
The See No Evils released their debut album, Inner Voices, last month and opened the evening with a scorching set of straight-ahead no nonsense garage punk. I love the unabashed clarity of vision of these oiks. Grab the Pebbles albums; early Pretty Things, Yardbirds and Kinks 45s; a bunch of simple rhymes; some throat shredding screams; and set fuzz and fury to them. Even throw in a cover of ‘Gloria’. This is garage punk in its purest, untamed form and utterly irresistible. Their vocalist looks like Phil Collins after breaking up from his wife and sleeping on a park bench for a week and sings with all the snotty resentment that brings, his face becoming redder with every exaggerated vowel. It’s a wonderful thing to behold. ‘Hooked On The Buzz’, ‘Hanging Around’, ‘You Make Me Move’ and ‘Sweet Thing’ among the highlights of a faultless set.
The Magnetic Mind move the music calendar on a couple of years. With singer Ellie’s appearance, vocal style and the band’s multi-part harmonies they’re always going to willingly draw immediate comparisons to Jefferson Airplane and whilst that’s undeniable they’re slightly sprightlier and poppier in places than their San Franciscan ancestors. Their ‘Should Have Listened To You’ being a prime example, with a neat pop hook and breezy melody. I say it’s theirs, could be a Mamas & Papas album track, in which case I stand corrected. A version of The Carrie Nations’ ‘Sweet Talking Candy Man’ from Beyond The Valley of The Dolls added to tracks from their …Is Thinking About It album.
The jewel in Heavy Soul’s crown is Paul Orwell. His records have been pouring out of the label for the last year or so, selling out immediately, and his Blowing Your Mind Away one of the albums of 2015. His live shows have been few and far between and this gig was advertised as an acoustic set. Thankfully that turned out not to be the case and although there was no organ as featured on some of his records, Paul was joined by regular bassist Mikey and possibly Luke Goss from Bros on drums. All black leather jacketed-up – part Beatles/part Libertines - Orwell and gang set about whipping up a storm.
Fired up from the start an extended ‘Payback’ thumped and kicked a well-aimed pointy boot in the bollocks. It didn’t let up from there. The trio attacked the songs at full pelt, even the usually more measured 'You’re Nothing Special’ given extra power. Other biting 60s-pop style singles ‘Little Reason’ and ‘Tell Me, Tell Me’ followed a similar path.
Orwell is not one to hide his light under a bushel so whilst The See No Evils might imagine shaking maracas at Eel Pie Island, the Magnetic Mind turning on the freaks at the Avalon Ballroom, Paul – with his “let’s see those hands in the air” and leaving bandmates to play as he dumps his guitar to jump in the audience – doesn’t see a Leytonstone pub in front of him, with posters for tribute act Motorheadache on the walls, but his mind’s eye conjures visions of Wembley Stadium. Gotta kinda admire such confidence. Fortunately his undoubted talent and ability just about let him get away with it.
Such talent is evident by the quantity and quality of tracks he’s released and already recorded so whilst a furious take on Larry Williams/The Jam’s ‘Slow Down’ was fine, to follow it with another three covers in a row – James Brown’s ‘I Got You’, Benny Spellman/Artwoods ‘I Feel Good’, and Billy Lee Riley’s ‘Red Hot’ - was slightly strange. Nothing wrong, as such, with any (‘Red Hot’ was indeed that) and Paul was simply cutting loose and having fun, yet felt unnecessary to fall back on so many fast tempo covers - like an early Strypes - when his own material is strong enough. Next time Paul, next time. Despite that journalistic nitpick it was a superb end to the night.