Sunday, 22 April 2018

BEAT GIRLS ESPAÑOL (2018)


The sun’s out so the ideal time to enjoy a succession of sultry señoritas with single names, as they belt out Spanish 60s yé- yé sounds packed with perky punch and fiery flamenco rhythms.

Without requisite linguistic skills the ear automatically tunes to other elements, such as the arrangements, which are frequently masterful with no expense spared concocting these teenage symphonies, and vocal styles mostly delivered with full-blooded gusto.

There are translations of familiar numbers – Pet Clark’s ‘Colour My World’ converts to Gelu’s modish ‘Pinta Mi Mundo’ and ‘Get Off Of My Cloud’ loosely becomes ‘Aquí En Mi Nube’ by Sonia – but it’s Adriángela’s ‘Nunca Hay Bastante’, Lorella’s ‘Tendrás Que Llorar’, Massiel’s ‘Las Rocas y El Mar’ and Soledad Miranda’s ‘La Verdad’ that stand out for sheer drama while Pic-Nic offer soothing respite with the dreamy ‘El Es Distinto A Ti’. Just as the collection threatens to run out of steam, Conchita Velasco turns up the heat with a crazily camp ‘Calor’.

I hazard very few tracks would’ve been considered ‘cool’ at the time, parts invariably stray into Benidorm straw donkey territory and it can feel like you’re stuck in the heats of the Eurovision Song Contest but, curiously, those aren’t negatives, they simply add to the fun of this collection. Don’t fight it, Viva España!

A version of this review first appeared in Shindig magazine and is based on the 24-track CD; a 14-track vinyl edition is also available now on Ace Records.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

KING COBRA by THE SENIOR SERVICE (2018)


Graham D and the Medway Group return for another soundtrack inspired instrumental album following their 2016 debut, The Girl In The Glass Case. The Senior Service know their onions and King Cobra is an exceptional case of the sequel overshadowing the original as they serve up an even deadlier concoction.

Graham Day’s DNA is the most instantly recognisable but he’s only the mastermind behind half the escapades, this is the work of a ruthlessly effective quartet. Jonathan Barker, Darryl Hartley and Wolf Howard the other guilty parties.

It’s a dusty road littered with bodies. Sophia Loren rises from her bed, mysterious strangers appear, a barroom brawl, Clint Eastwood chews a match, a funeral procession passes through town. John Barry and Ennio Morricone, heads together in a Kentish lock-up with twang and trumpets, Hammond and harmonies, paint the landscape.

The foundation of choppy riffs, spiralling organ and hammering rhythms the Service are known for remain, but as moods shuffle and wriggle between scenes intricate details of their meticulous planning reveal themselves: horns and shakers, vibes and accordion, rich textures in their armoury.

King Cobra is non-stop action, a soundtrack album with all the boring bits eliminated. You’ll be charmed.

King Cobra by The Senior Service is released by Damaged Goods on Friday 27 April 2018. Available to order here.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

THE HACIENDA MUST BE (RE)BUILT: THE LUCID DREAM live at THE VICTORIA, DALSTON


Psych traitors, that’s the Lucid Dream, who this week they released a new one-sided 12-inch single ‘SX1000’.

When posted online it wasn’t greeted with universal acclaim from their fanbase. Devoid of guitars and lyrics, ‘SX1000’ is an unabashed tribute to the acid house era that elicited cries of “Utter pap, sozz but shite”, “Dunno if this is a gimmick type tune or what..”, “Come on boys, WTF is this pish, get back to what your good at” and, my favourite, “How do you go from Bad Texan to this?” Apparently, there were worse, but those comments have been removed. Hence the band’s cheekily knocking up a load of ‘Psych Traitor’ badges to give away.

Those criticisms were, of course, in the minority and on Thursday in East London, through a thick fog of dry ice, they showed, once again, what a remarkable live band they are, showcasing new tracks among a selection of established favourites.

The distance between ‘Bad Texan’, one of the jewels in the band’s recorded crown to date, and ‘SX1000’ isn’t that far at all, as the 2016 track already owed far more to the hypnotic rhymical second Summer of Love than the original flower power one and served as a pointer to where the band were heading next. Let’s not forgot, The Lucid Dream’s take on whatever ‘psych’ is, has incorporated garage rock, dark psychedelia, heavy dub and a Germanic motorik beat.

The other new songs weren’t as extreme as the single and meshed easily into the set which included a broken melodica-free ‘I’m A Star In My Own Right’ and the otherworldly Joy Divisionesque epic finale ‘Epitaph’. Standout moment though came in the shape of penultimate song, ‘Ardency’, which, even on first hearing, would’ve raised the roof of the Hacienda, an instant Madchester classic. Watch out for this when the next album arrives (date tbc).

‘SX1000’ might’ve been a radical move for sluggish bands happy to regurgitate the same style but that’s not The Lucid Dream’s technique. ‘SX1000’ hits a trance inducing, squelchy acid house groove with an unforgettable hook and adds yet another angle to a band already blessed a multitude of dimensions. Try to keep up everyone.

SX1000 is out now on Holy Are You Records. 

Friday, 30 March 2018

MARCH PLAYLIST


1.  Don Patterson with Booker Ervin – ‘Donald Duck’ (1964)
Organists like Don Patterson weren’t universally welcomed in jazz when they started cropping up, in fact there was open hostility, even from reviewers like Walter Catt who, when tasked with writing the sleevenotes for Hip Cake Walk, “put the record on my phonograph to brave what I thought would be an unpleasant experience.” Crazy fool.

2.  The 3 Sounds – ‘Yeh Yeh’ (1966)
From the Blue Note LP, Vibrations, comes this swinging piano/bass/drums version of the ol’ chestnut.

3.  Charlotte Leslie – ‘Les Filles C’est Fait Pour Faire L’Amour’ (1966)
Charlotte takes the Capitols ‘We Got A Thing That’s In The Groove’/‘Cool Jerk’ and dresses it in modish fuzz and French flair.

4.  The Producers – ‘Love Is Amazing’ (1968)
A Gamble-Huff production out of the Philly and typically sleek. Wonderful mix of male and female leads, harmonies by a group of angels, and horns and strings sent from heaven.

5.  Earth, Wind and Fire – ‘Help Somebody’ (1971)
“Reach out your hand and help somebody”. Oh yeah baby, let’s groove tonight. The eponymous debut LP by Earth, Wind and Fire is packed with strutting street funk.

6.  Major Lance – ‘Ain’t No Sweat’ (1972)
Released on Volt, and written by Major’s old buddy Curtis Mayfield, ‘Ain’t No Sweat’ is a mini-under-the-radar masterpiece that’s been overshadowed by ‘Since I Lost My Baby’s Love’ on the flip. Dig that violin!

7.  Katie Love – ‘How Can You Mistreat The One You Love’ (1972)
Even to this day not much is known about Katie Love other than she cut this Hayes-Porter song for Stax down in Muscle Shoals. Curiously has the feel for Stax’s old rivals Holland-Dozier-Holland and the stuff coming out of their Invictus stable.

8.  Neil Young – ‘Hitchhiker’ (1976)
There are many Neil Youngs but the best is Neil Young with an acoustic guitar, bag of Californian grass, bit of coke, sat under a full moon, playing songs. That’s what he did to record The Hitchhiker on 11 August 1976. The collection yielded future classics ‘Pocahontas’, ‘Powderfinger’, ‘Ride My Llama’ and more but the record company weren’t impressed with what they saw as an album of demos so it sat unreleased until 2017. It is, of course, brilliant.

9.  Go-Kart Mozart – ‘We’re Selfish and Lazy and Greedy’ (1999)
The Lexington in London was treated to the rare sight of Go-Kart Mozart last Saturday and what a fabulous gig it was. A brisk 40-minute set mostly featured tracks from new Mozart’s Mini-Mart where songs about depression, poverty, executions on the telly, Brummie prophets, knickers on the line and Crokadile Rokstarz, played in a plinky-plonky manner, took centre stage: modern life seen through Lawrence’s eyes and Lawrence’s eyes don’t miss much. If a group of young uns from wherever-is-hip-this-month were making these records they’d be courted across the land. ‘We’re Selfish…’ was one of the few old tracks Lawrence delved back into his trolley for.

10.  The Traffic – ‘Smack My Pitch Up’ (2016)
On the Australian label, Choi Records, comes two blasting funky reworkings of classics given a fresh makeover. Grandmaster Flash’s ‘White Lines’ on one side, and the Prodigy torn a new one on the other.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

SERPENTINE WALTZ by TARA MILTON (2018)



The debut solo album by former Five Thirty man, Tara Milton, has been a long time coming. In the early 90s his cocksure modish three-piece released the classic Brit Pop forerunner, Bed, and appeared on the cusp of making it big but internal fighting split the band in ’92.


Milton now shoulders much of the responsibility. “I just needed a good talking,” he reflects. “There was no one there to do that and I became more and more like crazy Roman Caligula.” Twenty years after disbanding second band the Nubiles, Milton returns to the fray. What took so long?

“I’ve tried to do it before but had a lot of personal problems to deal with after the Nubiles. I’d lost all my confidence, completely, and had to make some decisions about the way I was going to live. One thing I knew was that I love music and I love writing songs. If I was any kind of musician at all I would end up back in the studio doing the things I wanted to do.”

After returning to London from long spells in Japan, “teaching kids music and indoctrinating them with Five Thirty”, and with money scarce, completing the album took time. “The original intention was to do a very quick kind of record with Sean Read from Dexys, who arranges the brass and so forth. It just didn’t pan out like that at all.”

Far from a hastily knocked together record, Serpentine Waltz is lavish, thoughtful production. Some of Milton’s previous problems are meditated upon through its cinematic sweep: dreams and nightmares, twists and turns, characters and scenes blink in and out of view like ghosts. It’s a late-night journey to the dark end of the street, the other side of the tracks.

The extraordinary ‘Double Yellow (Lines 1 & 2)’ begins parodying Bob Dylan’s ‘A Simple Twist of Fate’ with “the intimacy of couple going through a separation. One of the most powerful songs Dylan did and I wanted to do a London take on it.” The sprightly tune then tumbles into a dramatic breakdown, featuring a sample of American writer Henry Miller’s passionate diatribe against the city, set to a freeform Miles Davis style accompaniment.

"Think of an album that blew you away. I felt like that the first time I read Miller’s Tropic of Capricorn. I didn’t know a writer could do that, I thought only musicians could. He lifted a twelve-month depression with two paragraphs of writing. He always wrote from the perspective of the downtrodden individual who simultaneously was on-fire, smoking.”

Serpentine Waltz’s mood is brightened by a folky fingerpicking style and richly embellished with trumpets, strings, piano, mandolins and oude. The sumptuous Beach Boy inspired chorus to ‘Getting It On With The Man In The Moon’ bursts light through the clouds.

"Song writing is still the thing, the big thing, isn’t it? But it’s got to come out of life.”

Tara Milton has seen life from all sides and lived to tell the tale. It’s great to have him back.

This article first appeared in Shindig magazine. Serpentine Waltz by Tara Milton with the Boy and Moon is out now on Boy and Moon Recordings. www.taramilton.co.uk/  Photo by Phil Miller. 
Coming soon: Tara reflects on his time in Five Thirty...


Sunday, 11 March 2018

COAL BLACK MORNINGS by BRETT ANDERSON (2018) at the WALTHAMSTOW ROCK ‘N’ ROLL BOOK CLUB, E17


Brett Anderson doesn’t so much walk into the room but glide. Back straight, no upper body movement and little steps. He could carry a book or his washing on his head, easy. With rakish grace he wafts from the back of an East London pub function room to the stage, where he decants into a large red velvet armchair, slouches back with a decadent air and waves a long bony hand. “Turn this terrible music off” he says, by way of an introduction. That terrible music is Suede’s brilliant, crunching, pirouetting, ‘Killing of a Flash Boy’, a 1994 B-side, that was, as were huge swathes of Suede B-sides up until that point, better than almost everyone else’s A-sides.

This is Brett’s first ever trip on the escalator at the end of the Victoria Line, as guest of Walthamstow’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Book Club, to talk about Coal Black Mornings, published this month by Little Brown. His demeanour is of a man at ease, debonair, sat in an exclusive Mayfair gentleman’s club, regaling tales of his life; only we’re in the shabby-chic E17, and the assembled ears do not belong to crusty old men smoking pipes. “I love women,” he says, fully aware of the response that will provoke, and an audience comprising of least 20 women to every man struggle to disguise reciprocal feelings. No doubt about it, Brett Anderson's a smooth, charming bastard. 

A man behind a tripod filming on a video camera asks why women love him and men hate him. There's no real answer to that, of course, but personal hygiene goes a long way apparently fellas.

Now he’s 50 (but, trust me ladies, looks much, much older...) we won’t find Brett in the gutter, reading Jack Kerouac and drinking bottles of absinthe – “boring, I know” – but instead he goes to dinner parties with his wife where he always finds himself stuck with “The Man” who wants to talk about cars and tyre pressure. I feel his pain, slightly, before finding some comfort in this news. 

But this is all side talk, the main discussion with interviewer Matt Thorne is about Coal Black Mornings, a book written with his young son in mind, he claims, on train journeys as a series of long emails to himself as he couldn’t be bothered to download Word to his computer. However unpromising that sounds the result is wonderful. I seldom read a book in a day but made an exception here (helped by 209 pages with lots of white space). It’s not The Story of Suede but a compelling account of Brett’s life up to the point of Suede signing a record deal, at which point the tale abruptly ends.

With autobiographies and biographies, I’m not usually overly interested in the subject’s early life, what their mum and dad and grandparents did, what their house was like; just cut to the chase, tell me about recording that classic single, tell me how everyone in the band fell out, their descent into My Drug Hell, then the redemption part at the end. But Brett, quite correctly as it turns out, reckons everyone has had their fill of those coke and gold disc stories, didn’t want to rake over that stuff now anyway, and chose to make his book about failure, love and loss, and achieves it magnificently.

It’s eloquently written, full of poetic phrases and evocative scenes of growing up in the 70s and 80s. Our lives are hardly comparable, but it’s strange how many memories it blew the dusty off in my head. Mostly innocuous stuff about being dragged around old churches on holidays and “sitting in soggy National Trust car parks as the rain poured angrily on the car roof” but nice nevertheless. Luckily for the reader if not him, Brett has far more monumental moments than that to share but the detailed descriptions of people and places impress.

Suede were often looked upon with suspicion singing about council estates and lives in the so-called margins, the assumption being they were middle class boys slumming it, adopting “social tourism” but Brett grew up in small council house in Hayward’s Heath with his mum, dad and elder sister. They were, undoubtedly, poor. In one example, Brett makes clear the indignity of having to queue up each day for his school dinner voucher; something that still stings. They were also the local oddball outsiders. Literature loving Mum, with artistic leanings and fond of sunbathing naked in the garden, was of the mend and make do school, making the only clothes that weren’t from jumble sales. Franz Listz obsessed Dad, who worked as an ice cream man, window cleaner, a swimming pool attendant who couldn’t swim, and finally a taxi driver, was, what may politely be called a bit of an eccentric, an Englishman whose home was most certainly his castle. I won’t spoil his foibles here.

Brett is unfailingly polite about those mentioned in the book (including former partners); even when revealing some unpleasantries about his father it’s respectfully done. There’s no sensationalism involved. The only person criticised is Brett himself and the only digs are a couple of handily placed references to the origins Modern Life Is Rubbish and ‘Popscene’ by (an unnamed) Blur plus a poke at 90s “groups of patronising middle-class boys making money by aping the accents and culture of the working classes”. Who can he mean?

Although not predominantly about Suede (and the Suede parts are curiously the least interesting, and I say that as a massive fan who followed every arse-slapping move during their first explosive year in the spotlight and love them still), Coal Black Mornings divulges events that provided inspiration for early songs. I’ve gone back and listened to things like ‘She’s Not Dead’, dealing with the mysterious and shocking death of his aunt, with far greater appreciation.

Coal Black Mornings is a class apart from most music books or memoirs. It’s full of emotion, honesty and revelations; it’s not a string of personal achievements but, as he writes, “about poverty and family and friendship and the scruffy wonders of youth”. There's a lot of death in there too, lump in the throat moments, but also laugh out loud occasions, due as much to Brett’s skilful writing than the incidents themselves. 

Back in the room, Brett is asked by a geek if he's a sci-fi fan (not really); the best Suede song ('The Wild Ones', correct); who he'd invite as a guest to interview at the Rock 'n' Roll Book Club (Lawrence from Felt, again correct); and having previously expressed a fondness for crisps, a group of fans plonk about 75 packets at his feet.

After the talk Brett signs books, natters to fans and poses for photographs, at which point I can confirm he does indeed smell mighty fine. 

Many thanks to Mark Hart of Walthamstow Rock 'n' Roll Book Club @e17RnR_books in rising to the challenge of bringing Brett to Mirth, Marvel & Maud, E17 and, naturally, to Brett Anderson himself. Coal Black Mornings is available now, £16.99.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

THE LUCID DREAM - 'SX1000' (2018)


Holy bananas, check this out. The Lucid Dream return in April with new single, ‘SX1000’, a year after their equipment was stolen at a gig in Paris and fans, eager for the band to continue making music, dug deep to donate £10,000 to get them back working again.

The first recorded return for that faith is a guitar-free, seven-minute banger, driven by the band’s prolonged submersion in Chicago and UK acid house sounds from the late 80s-early 90s. Anyone who has followed The Lucid Dream in their ten-year existence will have seen them grow and develop, continually looking to move on, from drone to dub, psych to rave. They’ve always pursued an independent path, a route that's now put them ahead of any pack. Watch others try to follow.

‘SX1000’ is released on 6 April 2018 as a limited edition single-sided 12 inch on Holy Are You Records. The Lucid Dream play the London Dalston Victoria (Thursday 5 April) and Manchester Band On The Wall (Friday 6 April). Band photo: Danny Payne.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

FEBRUARY PLAYLIST


1.  Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band – ‘You Know You’ll Cry’ (1965)
The self-penned B-side to second single ‘Please Stay’ and one indebted to the rolling New Orleans sound of Allen Toussaint/Lee Dorsey.

2.  The Delicates – ‘Shop Shovin’ Me Around’ (1966)
Challenge Records were set-up by the singing cowboy, Gene Autry. Gene had moseyed outta town by the time the Delicates cut this Motown soundalike, arranged by the phenomenally prolific and successful Gene Page.

3. Gela – ‘Pinta Mi Mundo’ (1967)
Swinging Spanish version of Pet Clark’s ‘Colour My World’.

4.  The Kindly Shepherds – ‘Lend Me Your Hand’ (1967)
Who you gonna call? No, not them, Jesus of course. Released on Checker this is happy-clappy gospel magic.

5.  Grant Green – ‘Iron City’ (1967)
It’s Green on guitar, Ben Dixon on drums and, according to the sleeve, Big John Patton on organ although there are plenty who swear it’s Larry Young. Listening closely, they may be right. Either way, this is supreme soul-jazz.

6.  The Impressions – ‘Stop The War’ (1972)
Curtis Mayfield had made way in the Impressions for Leroy Hutson to take over the lead role but still provided the songs and production to Times Have Changed. If Curtis hadn’t been cutting Superfly he would surely have been tempted to keep this for himself.

7.  Candy Opera – ‘Fever Pitch’ (1989)
Their recordings failed to see the light of day back in the mid-80s, only this month released this month as 45 Revolutions Per Minute, but what a revelation Candy Opera are. Although recorded at different stages the sixteen songs from this overlooked Liverpool band hang together as a superb, essential album. Fantastic all the way through, love it. Fans of Aztec Camera, in particular, take note.

8.  Men of North Country – ‘They Don’t Know’ (2016)
"We got some magic beans and we're rounding up the team". A joyous tribute to the secret underground topsy-turvy world of northern soul.

9.  Cabbage – ‘Arms of Pleonexia’ (2018)
Lyrically, musically and politically one of the most stirring bands around now, their 100 Club gig further cemented their reputation as an exciting proposition. The dark vibrating rattle and chant of ‘Arms of Pleonexia’ offers a taste of what’s to come from their first proper album, Nihilistic Glamour Shots, in March. Dictionary at the ready.

10.  Go-Kart Mozart – ‘When You’re Depressed’ (2018)
As gratifying as it is to see the Felt albums from the 80s reissued, don’t let that distract from Lawrence’s new Go-Kart Mozart album, Mozart Mini-Mart. Like music made for 1980s work training videos, here Lawrence deals with depression.

Friday, 23 February 2018

ZOOT MONEY'S BIG ROLL BAND - BIG TIME OPERATOR (2018)


On the long list of things that make the mid-60s such an idyllic fantasyland to young pups such as I is the prominence of the musicians willing to lug a Hammond organ around seven days a week to play tiny pubs and clubs. There’s nothing like it, that sound, played through a Leslie speaker, swirlin’ and a-whirlin’. Bands these days either aren’t interested or can’t be doing with completing out a risk assessment to carry a ten-ton weight up some stairs and down again when smashed out of their skulls on pints of brandy. Only the other week I witnessed Jim Jones and the Righteous Mind disguise their use of a common-or-garden keyboard by quickly constructing a faux wood contraption to give the impression they were rocking an ancient organ. No backbone these bands. Or maybe it’s the old timers like Zoot Money who no longer have one; years of poor manual handling practices taking their toll. 

Some of the hard labours Zoot Money and his Big Roll Band put in are collated in Big Time Operator, a new 4-CD boxset, boasting their entire (original period) recorded output plus gigs and live performances for the BBC.

It’s clear Money comes alive whenever in front of an audience as the ebullient 1966 performance on Live at Klook’s Kleek which opens disc one demonstrates. You can almost feel the sweat of the band, the condensation running down the walls, as the audience soul-clap along to Ray Charles, Otis Redding and Curtis Mayfield numbers and go crazy for a throaty James Brown medley. This is an archetypal Hammond and horns stew, London (via Bournemouth) style, yet despite their full-blooded rambunctiousness the occasional use of flute, included on the fabulous instrumental ‘Florence of Arabia’, adds a shade of subtlety. The night closes with ‘Barefootin’’, a song Zoot would frequently take literally and remove not only his shoes but those of as many members of the audience he could, a procedure that invariably turned to chaos as Denson’s and Mary Janes flew through the air.

This colourful showmanship defined Zoot’s shows. You were gonna shout and shimmy, have fun, and Zoot would make you laugh even if it detracted from the band’s musicianship. Georgie Fame exuded an air of stand-offish cool sophistication; Graham Bond and his Organisation were dangerously unhinged madmen loaded with violent virtuosity; Brian Auger was happy to share the spotlight; George Bruno Money, meanwhile, jumped on tables, leaped on cars at festivals, gurned, dropped his trousers and knocked over glasses of whisky and Coke.

Another show from the same year, Live at The Flamingo, the venue where the band took over Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames' residency, features on disc two. The nineteen songs, all different from the Klook’s set, recorded by saxophonist Nick Newall on a Grundig tape recorder with two little plastic microphones barely a foot apart on the stage, are a riot of raucous rhythm and soul. Despite the low-tech recording technique the sound quality is very good and captures the atmosphere superbly as they tear through ‘Oh Mom (Teach Me How To Uncle Willie)’, a rip-roaring ‘Hallelujah I Love Her So’, ‘Hide Nor Hair’, ‘Ain’t That Peculiar’ and more. Although the band’s main preoccupation was unearthing American recordings to bring to British audiences they did, with the help of Tony Colton, have a few fine original numbers. ‘Big Time Operator’ the most obvious, gave the band their only chart single; the record buying public weren’t entirely stupid, it was by far the most hit-sounding. The mod-club friendly ‘Train Train’ could’ve been another but sadly was never completed in the studio.

Disc three’s Live At The BBC is wonderful. Eighteen songs (including many not appearing elsewhere in the box – ‘Picture Me Gone’, ‘I Can’t Turn You Loose’, ‘The Morning After’, ‘Cool Jerk’, ‘Ain’t That Love’, ‘You Can’t Sit Down’ etc) with plenty of chat with presenter Brian Matthew. By January 1967, Zoot’s discussing his interest in the emerging psychedelic scene, only to then perform ‘The Star of the Show’, which belongs in the same chicken in a basket cabaret bag as ‘Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde’ and ‘Simon Smith and his Amazing Dancing Bear’; even Brian Mathew cheekily ribs Zoot about its chart failure and being ‘best forgotten’. Within months Zoot got with-it, bought a kaftan, the Big Roll Band lost a few wheels, painted their equipment white and rode into the burgeoning underground scene as Dantalion’s Chariot on a wave of LSD.

Back to 1965 and It Should’ve Been Me, the Big Roll Band’s solitary studio album, is placed on the disc four; a typical collection of rhythm and blues tunes with a touch of jazz (John Patton’s ‘Along Came John’ and Jimmy Smith’s ‘The Cat’). Compared to the flat sounding lookalike reissue I’ve had for years it sounds miles better and comes to life in way I’d not expected (vinyl is not always king kids). ‘I’ll Go Crazy’ and ‘Jump Back’ get things off to a storming start and apart from a couple of bluesy numbers that drag it’s enjoyable if seldom catching the personality of the band like the live recordings.

Across the discs are spread the rest of the band’s singles, B-sides, EP tracks and rarities. Housed in a hardback book-style package with Zoot providing a track-by-track commentary plus guitarist Andy Somers/Summers sharing his Flamingo Club memories, the set is the same style as Repertoire’s Graham Bond Organisation: Wade In The Water and makes a welcome companion.

Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band haven't been as well served by the reissue market as their peers so Big Time Operator puts that straight. Nearly five hours of music, over 80 songs (very few repeated), the much-missed Brian Matthew brought back to life, and Zoot and co having the time of their lives, this joyful stuff. With no danger of losing your shoes, getting drinks spilled on your new strides or having a bulky Hammond player land on your head, enjoy Big Time Operator from the safety of your own home now.

Big Time Operator by Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band is out now on Repertoire.

Monday, 19 February 2018

THE FIRST TIME WITH... MAVIS STAPLES

In case you missed Mavis Staples on BBC Radio 6 Music yesterday, here's the link to catch up. Matt Everitt talks to Mavis about the first time she was aware of music, sung with her family, at home, in church, in the studio and much more. 

As you'd expect from anything involving Mavis, it's a joyous hour -with an undercurrent of righteous indignation. Not only is "Bubbles" possessed with an amazing singing voice, she also owns the most captivating talking voice. Oh, and if Matt Everitt doesn't have the above photo framed at home I'd be very disappointed. Shamone. 

www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09s3hy6

Saturday, 17 February 2018

BOY AZOOGA - 'LONER BOOGIE' (2018)


Boy Azooga is, according to press blurb, “the psych-flecked musical vehicle for Cardiff’s Davey Newington multifarious musical mission.” ‘Loner Boogie’ is two minutes of restless bees-trapped-in-a-tin garage rock and roll at odds with previous outing, the synthy ‘Face Behind Her Cigarette’, which makes Boy Azooga, at this early stage, intriguingly difficult to pin down. Debut album out in the summer.

THE LOVELY EGGS - 'WIGGY GIGGY' (2018)


Dressed in intergalactic superhero cloaks, made with some old curtains and a glue gun, and with faces adorned with stars and glitter, the Lovely Eggs last night transported the 100 Club to the centre of their cranky universe with a stupendous launch for new 45 ‘Wiggy Giggy’. Already destined to be one of the songs of 2018 it’s taken from the relentlessly brilliant This Is Eggland, officially released this week.

THE LIMBOOS - 'BLUE DREAM' (2018)


Taken from The Limboos’ second album, Limbootica!, which came out last year, this new video for ‘Blue Dream’ appeared last month. Effortlessly cool even in the Spanish sunshine. I wanna see this band so bad.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

KENNY LYNCH IN SWINGING LONDON, 1965


Here’s some interesting footage of Kenny Lynch going about his daily business in 1965. Bit of boxing training in the gym, a drive in his Rolls Royce through his old East End stomping ground, cutting a business deal in his sumptuous West End office, joshing with market traders in Berwick Street, serving behind the counter of his record shop in Soho’s Walker’s Court (this scene being the highlight and, incidentally, his shop was dead opposite the sandwich bar Harvey Gould spoke about in recent Harvey's Soho post) before putting the finishing touches to a new song. All before teatime.

Friday, 2 February 2018

THIS IS EGGLAND by THE LOVELY EGGS (2018)


Famed for their fiercely independent DIY ethos, the Lovely Eggs have for the first time employed outside help, bringing in producer Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips/Mercury Rev) to help the primitive kitchen table punk duo create a humongous sounding feast.

Built on Holly’s thick wall of distortion and wah-wah, propelled by David’s motorik drumming and adorned with bleeps, squiggles and mad scientist electronics, this is Eggs-deluxe. Some earlier scatter-brained whimsy is gone, or harder to detect beneath the Sabbath riffing, but they’ve kept their pop hooks, revel in their irritated outsider status and use language like few others. ‘I’m a twit, I’m a nit, I’m a shit and every single little bit of you is getting to me’ (‘Dickhead’).

From the dazzling, rave-bursting ‘Hello, I Am Your Sun’ to the pulsating, space-glam ‘Wiggy Giggy’ and the bubbling, Pulp-on-steroids ‘Big Sea’, This Is Eggland is impressively focused, relentlessly brilliant and a must-go destination.

This Is Eggland by The Lovely Eggs is released on 23 February but order from thelovelyeggs.co.uk and you'll get it next week... The band play their biggest headline show to date at the Scala, London on 28 October 2018. 

This review first appeared in Shindig magazine. 

Sunday, 28 January 2018

JANUARY PLAYLIST


1.  Jimmy Nolen – ‘Strollin’ With Nolen’ (1956)
James Brown later had the savvy to employ Jimmy Nolen between 1965-1970 and it’s impossible to imagine that purple patch of JB’s output without Nolen’s chickenscratch guitar style. Back in ’56 he was already cutting loose.

2.  Herbie Hancock – ‘Watermelon Man’ (1962)
Herbs radically redid it on the squillion seller Head Hunters but it’s the finger snapping original cut on debut album, Takin’ Off, that gives ‘Watermelon Man’ its classic status.

3.  J.R. Bailey – ‘Love Won’t Wear Off (As The Years Wear On)’(1968)
The title sounds like the reverse of something George Jones might have written but this is classy soul from the Cadillacs singer cut under his own name for Calla Records.

4.  Herman George – ‘What Have You Got’ (1975)
Superb mid-70s soul.

5.  Laxton’s Superb – ‘Coming Round’ (1996)
Lost in the deluge of speculative Britpop signings, Laxton’s Superb were quickly dropped once their singles didn’t hit but the bright ‘Coming Round’ deserved better.

6.  Luke Haines – ‘The Incredible String Band’ (2016)
With a gentle strum, a children’s xylophone and a kazoo solo, Haines tells the tale of the Scottish psychedelic folksters who “were an unholy act, they sang like a couple of weasels, trapped in a sack.” This perversity, and songs about caterpillars, hedgehogs, death and a dude with no head obviously appeals to an outsider such as Haines. Now featured on the four-disc set, Luke Haines Is Alive and Well and Living in Buenos Aires.

7.  The Senior Service – ‘Slingshot’ (2018)
Anyone who’s followed Graham Day over the years will be aware of his penchant for groovy soundtracks to mind-movies so ‘Slingshot’ sounds how one would expect - the Shadows and Link Wray dressed as silver clad cowboys duelling in a dusty barroom situated in outer space while a Hammond organ catches fire in the corner.

8.  Daniel Romano – ‘Anyone’s Arms’ (2018)
While most spent January easing themselves into a new year Romano released two new albums under his own name and made available another recorded under his punky Ancient Shapes title. Nerveless (electric) and Human Touch (acoustic) have already been deleted – snooze and ya lose with Romano  – so many will have missed out on beauties like this catchy country-tinged pop rocker, which in a fair world would blare from every radio in the land.

9.  The Liminanas – ‘The Gift’ (2018)
The Liminanas’ blend of rattle and reverb rocked Rough Trade East this week during an in-store gig promoting Shadow People. For the second album in succession they include a track featuring the unmistakable contribution from Peter Hook and it’s a glorious one; all low-slung, sexy pop.

10.  Tara Milton – ‘Assassins’ (2018)
Former Five Thirty (okay, and Nubiles) man returns, at long last, with Serpentine Waltz, guiding the listener to the shadowy corners of the night. If I remember my William Burroughs correctly, ‘Assassins’ is a nod to Hassan-i-Sabbah who, in the 11th century, controlled an army of killers with drug addiction. The shuffling rhythm and spiralling trumpets one of many highlights on an impressive debut solo record.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

MONKEY'S WANDERING WIRELESS SHOW - SUNDAY 28 JANUARY


People get ready, the Fusion train is a-coming, picking up passengers coast to coast. This Sunday it pulls into Monkeyville for the latest Wandering Wireless Show. You don’t need no ticket, just an internet connection. Departure 2030, calling at over 20 stops of musical humming, before reaching its destination at 2130. Plenty of room for hopeless sinners, get on board.

Update. Missed the show? Catch it here now: MWWS on Fusion.

Catch the link: mixlr.com/fusion-on-air/

Sunday, 21 January 2018

HARVEY'S SOHO (2014)

Harvey Gould with dog, Berwick Street Market
Harvey Gould was born in 1928 and moved to Soho aged nine. In this wonderful short film (23 minutes), by Hazuan Hashim and Phil Maxwell, Harvey takes us on a tour of the area, sharing stories of the people and places he knew growing up during the war, and later working on Berwick Street market and running a café. If you know the area, you won’t know it like Harvey; and if you don’t, just enjoy Harvey’s charming and fascinating narrative.  



Monday, 8 January 2018

'SLINGSHOT' by THE SENIOR SERVICE (2018)


If, like me, you still get a frisson of excitement seeing the new year on a single for the first time, then the Senior Service’s groovelaiden new 45 should fulfil that for 2018.

Available to pre-order now, and out on Damaged Goods Records on 26 January, ‘Slingshot’ is backed with a version of the old Prisoners number ‘Hide and Seek’. New album, King Cobra, is released in the spring.