Sunday, 30 October 2016


1.  Bobby Adams – ‘Sixteen Years In The Making’ (1963)
Bobby, with a voice like the man of the mountains, sings about his delight of girl’s 16th birthday; a girl he met at the age of two, then four, then eight. Enjoy this big beat mover then call the cops.

2.  Satan’s Breed – ‘Laugh Myself To The Grave’ (1966)
Give a group of Rhode Island kids a cheap organ, a few other instruments and some Animals records, lock them in the garage and wait for the results. Boom!

3.  The Deadly Ones – ‘It’s Monster Surfing Time’ (1964)
The title gives most of this track away. Taut and twangy instrumental with a few hungry monster noises over the top. Stay outta the water kids.

4.  Clara Ward – ‘Hang Your Tears Out To Dry’ (1966)
Primarily a gospel singer of the highest order, Clara rarely ventured into the secular side of the house but Hang Your Tears Out To Dry on Verve is a spectacular exception. A couple of standards, some full blown jazz-soul stompers, some folky-gospel and best-version-ever covers of ‘This Ole House’ and ‘Help’. Not easy to find but what an album.

5.  Betty Harris – ’12 Red Roses’ (1966)
From the new Soul Jazz Records collection, The Lost Queen of New Orleans Soul. Although Betty was only ever flown in to New Orleans for recordings, Allen Toussaint’s production and local musicians including the Meters give it that unmistakable gumbo-funk sound.

6.  Them – ‘What’s A Matter Baby’ (1967)
Them’s first post-Van Morrison LP, Now and Them, understandable lacks a bit of direction but the bouncy blue-eyed soul treatment on the Timi Yuro/Small Faces classic works here.

7.  Cilla Black – ‘Help Me Jesus’ (1973)
Now, I’m nothing if not a fair man and while I may usually prefer the sound of a burning zoo to a Cilla record I’ve got to admit liking this. Bittersweet Symphony intro, big sustained guitar chords, tickling piano and ace backing vocals all contribute to an out of the floor gospel soul dancer. If someone else had sung lead it’d be perfect, as it is it’s still pretty damn good. I’m off for a lie down in a dark room to recover from the shock. Nurse!

8.  Lloyd Cole & the Commotions – ‘Charlotte Street’ (1985)
Lloyd Cole at Islington’s Union Chapel this month was magnificent. Playing two sets – one solo and one accompanied by his son on second guitar – he treated the congregation to “the Lloyd Cole Songbook 1983-1996”. Lloyd’s voice was better than I’d ever appreciated, he was warm, funny, self-depreciating and armed with a stunning catalogue of songs from the Commotions period and the first phase of his (neglected by many) solo career. Rattlesnakes remains one of the finest albums ever made in my book, not a note or phrase wasted, so it was a thrill to hear three-quarters of it including a couple of my absolute favourites, ‘2CV’ and ‘Charlotte Street’.

9.  Hooton Tennis Club – ‘Katy-Anne Bellis’ (2016)
I flagged up their ‘Kathleen Sat On The Arm Of Her Favourite Chair’ last year and now off Big Box Of Chocolates comes another toe-tapping Scouse half-60s beat/half-90s indie winner.

10. French Boutik – ‘Le Mac’ (2016)
I’ve no idea what Paris-based French Boutik are singing about most of the time but I like the way they sing it and the cut of their jib. Debut LP Front Pop - bursting with bright melodies and a magpie approach to picking influences be it 60s, 70s, 80s or 90s – is highly recommended. ‘Le Mac’ rips along at a lick with careering guitars and hurtling organ in hot pursuit while singer Gabriela Giacoman is too cool to rush. 

Friday, 28 October 2016


There will be some frankly terrifying noises emanating from the wireless this Sunday as three of Fusion’s most hideous voices join together to present the shockingly imaginatively titled Halloween Show.

Mildew Mick, Degenerate Dr Gonzo and I shall be blowing the cobwebs off some creepy and crawly musical chestnuts for your hairy ears. If you listened to our ‘Party 7’ show last year, you’ll kind of know what to expect (the worst…): tracks leaning a bit more towards the classics and a spot of light tomfoolery. It’ll be fun, honest, and I promise there’ll be no Monster Mash.

As always, Fusion cranks into action at 8.30pm on the dot for an hour. Tune in in plenty of time my ghoulish comrades.

UPDATE: In case ya missed it here's the link to catch-up Show about 1hr 20mins as we got a bit carried away so overrun the usual hour slot!

Thursday, 27 October 2016


The Lovely Eggs, The Lexington, 26 October 2016. Photo by Darren Brooker
Midway through the Lovely Eggs’ set, as they finish ‘People Are Twats’, two audience members hold up pre-printed signs reading I Can’t Believe I’m Missing Bake Off For This. Although in jest it’s a handy – if slightly confused – reminder of ‘them’: the outside world, the 15 million people watching three people make cakes fit for the Royal Family, the twats if you will, and ‘us’: the 200 people squeezed into a far-too-small upstairs London pub venue watching a Lancastrian couple thrash out shouty philosophies and observations on a battered drum kit and grungy sounding guitar.

After expressing incredulity that anyone would watch such a thing, Holly Egg reveals her and David Egg are big fans of Channel 4’s Hunted, a show in which contestants drop out of everyday society to go underground and escape the surveillance and monitoring of The State. Sticking it to The Man. It makes sense, the Lovely Eggs do things their own way. Fiercely independent, for years now they’ve put out their own records, organised their own tours, it’s their own DIY world. “This is our life,” Holly says with a mixture of quiet pride, ridiculousness and a hint of what-else-would-we-do?

Luckily we are free to enter the world of the Lovely Eggs and the best way is always via their gigs where they make the most sense. Some of their whimsical nature of yore has been replaced by a harder edged, heavier sound over the last few years but they’ve racked up such a formidable collection of singles their set is beginning to feel like a greatest hits. The latest 45, the wibbly-wobbly, suitably disorienting ‘Drug Braggin’’ opens proceedings, swiftly followed by one of the best and most harmonious, ‘Food’. New song ‘I Shouldn’t Have Said That’ is a frustrated blast of angry punk rock; and ‘Fuck It’ encapsulates the Eggs’ well-considered design for a happy and contented life. “Some people spend thousands going to Thailand to discover that, you can have that advice for free”.

A large part of what makes the Lovely Eggs so endearing is their humour and between-song revelations. We hear about the tribulations of taking a small child on tour (it’s their son, they explain, not a random three-year old); their capacity for cans of beer (not too impressive, although the previous point a factor here); thoughts on developing a drinks holster to negate the inconvenience of having to bend down to pick up a beer; and how to make onion rings pissed as a fart at 5am.

Although every song rapturously received the atmosphere is oddly subdued between numbers. Maybe a sign of respect and attention, not wanting to chat through a gig is commendable in my book, but the audience come to life more during ‘Allergies’ when DJ Richard Merrett, positioned above the stage with Idle Fret’s Darren Brooker, claps along in time through the song’s opening pause. “That sounds really good,” notices Holly, who stops the song to ask everyone to follow his lead. They do and it works wonderfully well. London, you started it…

If the Lovely Eggs had only made 2011’s ‘Don’t Look At Me (I Don’t Like It)’ they’d still be immortal for giving us the sheer bloody poetry of washing-line teeth, dressing-gown noses, dog-dirt eyes, wheel-chair hearts, red-wine smiles and the genius of sausage-roll thumbs.

They depart. No phony encore. If you aren’t too busy watching the telly or making cakes and want a cheery and beery night out, hunt down the Lovely Eggs. 
Many thanks to Darren Brooker (@IdleFret) for the ace photos

Tuesday, 25 October 2016


On the sleepy teatime quiz show Pointless last Friday one question was something like “Who in 1957 was author of characters Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty?” Of a survey of one hundred people, two correctly identified Jack Kerouac. My immediate response was to deride the great British public for their lack of knowledge of On The Road, yet after some consideration every 50th person recognising the central characters of a 60 year old American novel was a decent result and those conducting the survey possibly struck lucky to hit that many.

Jack Kerouac naturally enough features in the latest issue of Beat Scene. The design might not have changed in over twenty years but neither has editor Kevin Ring’s passion for all things beat related as he draws together new articles, published transcripts and news and reviews of the latest happenings. I’m excited to read of the publication of Kerouac’s original unexpurgated text of Maggie Cassidy and the article by Kurt Hemmer identifying the Beat Generation’s influence on Morrissey threw up a number of interesting associations. How have I never seen that photo of James Dean up a tree before?

Other pieces include Lawrence Ferlinghetti recalling ‘Howl’, Kenneth Patchen’s Poetry and Jazz days, saxophonist Steve Lacy discussing Brion Gysin, and William Burroughs is central to a number of inclusions.

Available from priced £5.50 or via subscription.

Thursday, 13 October 2016


Should Luke Haines ever appear on one of those game or reality shows – and I’d dearly love to see him on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here covering in rat shit fetching firewood with Una Stubbs – he’d be introduced as “Best known as lead singer of 90s indie band The Auteurs and member of Black Box Recorder who had a hit in 2000 with The Facts of Life”. For me though Haines is the author of two fabulously bitchy autobiographical books, Bad Vibes: Britpop and My Part in its Downfall and Post Everything, both of which I read earlier this year and was instantly a fan after having never taken much notice of his work. Haines possesses a well-developed skill in tearing to shreds anyone who crosses his path and a fondness for occupying the position of perennial outsider with an enormous sense of righteousness. Written from the viewpoint of the time with no attempt to balance with hindsight or maturity, both books are funny as fuck. You need to read them, not least for the Glenn Hoddle lolly stick episode...

I remembered The Auteurs – I saw them support Suede at the 100 Club in the early days of both bands – but not any of their music so it was with trepidation and some reluctance I finally approached them. Haines talks such a good game I didn’t want to spoil his version of events. How much stuff from the mid-90s is going to sound great to fresh ears this late in the game? The Auteurs did. Almost the classic albums he claimed, certainly the first three and the fourth isn’t bad at all. Lacerating rock and roll, sharply penned, unusual subject matter. And what with Haines being an obnoxious shit-stirrer with self-destructive tendencies I don’t know why I missed out on them.  A combination, more than likely, of bad clothes, worse hair, a punchable face and the band not looking in any shape or form like a gang. Bad crime that. They were no Spitfire, man. Oh, and one of them played the cello for Christsakes. I, like almost everyone else, backed the Suede horse. It was one thing to merrily mince around the indie-disco shaking all your money in time, quite another to rejoice in an unsolved child murder or a light aircraft on fire.

Last Friday, Haines’ new album, Smash The System, was released. On Saturday, following a talk back in the summer at the Walthamstow Rock & Roll Book Club, he returned to the ‘Stow to promote it. Not that he mentioned it nor were there any copies to be bought. No hard sell here. Strolling on to the low stage, glass of red wine in hand, he sat on a stool, picked up an acoustic guitar, played songs, cracked gags and wore, quite literally, a pair of Rock ‘n’ Roll shades. “Rock” in white paint on the right lens, “Roll” on the left. Looked good but impossible to see shit through so donated to one quick-handed punter after the first song, the album’s rolling title track, which urged us to smash the system, listen to the Velvet Underground and expressed admiration for the Monkees. “Davy Jones sings… Peter Tork sings… Mickey Dolenz sings…” Poor old Mike Nesmith left off the list for treating the Monkees too seriously. “Imagine being in the Monkees and not understanding the Monkees”. This light-hearted knockabout routine become a frequent occurrence.

‘Ritual Magick’ was a macabre tale of putting menstrual blood on the roses to make the garden grow (unusual song themes, remember?) and the odd folksy theme continued with ‘The Incredible String Band’, a kazoo accompanied ditty about “an unholy act, they sang like a couple of weasels trapped in a sack” which made me chuckle as that’s precisely why I find those Scottish folkniks unlistenable. Haines though, the contrary sod, “loved them”. ‘Bomber Jacket’ a creepily evocative account of being outside growing up in the late 70s straddled comedy and menace as did ‘Are You Mad?’ also referencing that period (or early 80s) with references to Eric Bristow and Bobby George. 

Outside the new record there were some Auteurs songs including ‘Child Brides’, ‘New French Girlfriend’, ‘Lenny Valentino’ and ‘Show Girl’ and although I can’t profess to yet being fully up to speed on all the solo albums Haines knocks out seemingly cheaply from his front room (I’m trying), ‘Lou Reed, Lou Reed’ and ‘Leeds United’ were instantly recognisable as were two tracks from his concept album about 70s wrestlers: ‘Haystack’s In Heaven (Parts 1-3)’ “Shirley Crabtree in heaven, Les Kellett in heaven, Pat Roach in heaven, Dickie Davies in heaven, grapple fans in heaven, all the old ladies in heaven…” and ‘Saturday Afternoon’ with Haines masterful at blending innocence with the darkest horribleness, entertainment with terror. His half-spoken, breathy husk make a “liver sausage” sound like the most terrifying object on earth. His sinister delivery akin to a hostage taker ringing up and giving directions where to drop the money before your loved one chokes to death on a meat based sandwich.

Luke Haines likes to give the impression of a scary man (see his Twitter feed) and he can rub people up the wrong way (I was talking to a couple of NME journalists from the 90s recently and the air would've made a sailor blush when his name came up) but isn’t that what rock and roll is supposed to be about? Smash the system, listen to the Velvet Underground, reflect on our pop-culture heritage, wind people up and, most of all, have fun. Luke Haines is a lot of fun. Sorry Luke.

Smash The System by Luke Haines is out now on Cherry Red Records.
Bad Vibes and Post Everything are published by Windmill.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016


The Lucid Dream, The Lexington, London, September 2016
Formed in Carlisle, Cumbria in 2008, The Lucid Dream have just released their third album, the magnificent Compulsion Songs. Monkey Picks caught them at the Lexington in London the day before release and is still slightly in awe with what it witnessed. It’s been a pleasure to watch them develop and progress over the years from being initially attracted by their (then) Mary Chain sound to the unstoppable dubby, psych rock, Krautrock juggernaut they’ve become. One of the most innovative bands around at the moment their live shows are phenomenal; managing to harness raw power, imagination and hypnotic grooves to move the body and the mind.

The Lucid Dream are Mark Emmerson (vocals, guitars, synths, melodica), Wayne Jefferson (guitars, synths), Mike Denton (bass) and Luke Anderson (drums, percussion). Mark kindly spared some time to chat about the album, being a genuinely independent band from Carlisle, psychedelia and the albums that influenced Compulsion Songs.

Let’s start with the new album, Compulsion Songs. Did you have an idea in mind, leading off the previous album, or was it ‘let’s just see what comes out’?
I think it's a natural progression from the second album, The Lucid Dream. I look back at our debut, Songs of Lies and Deceit, which took four long years to complete and think it is a band finding their identity whilst borrowing heavily; let’s be honest, the Spacemen 3 debut was very like that. These last two albums I think have put us in a class of our own, and it is no secret many share that opinion. No band are covering the genres in one release that we are. Compulsion Songs is going to be a classic with people in time, I can sense it.

Was it pieced together over an extended period or done during one concentrated period of recording?
Surprisingly this album was very simple and constructed from a recording/mixing view. After recording 'Bad Texan' for a single in November 2015 we knew we should strike while the iron was hot, and recorded the album over February-June 2016. We spent five days recording it at Whitewood Studios, Liverpool, with Rob Whiteley and the way of working was that I had all the songs ready, we literally spent a day rehearsing each - the joys of being in a band who are shit-hot and know each other perfectly - and then off to the studio to record it a few days later.

What's your recording process like?
Everything was very structured really, and we laid the guide takes down second or third attempt. 'I'm A Star In My Own Right' - the morning I showed the guys the song, we then played it a couple of times in the room, and literally were grinning at each other thinking 'that's it!'. Fourth time we ever played that song together was the album take. Only 'Epitaph' required a lot of work in the rehearsal room, which is no surprise given it's 11 minutes long. We recorded '21st Century' and most of 'Nadir' on a Friday afternoon, 12 hours later we were in Barcelona to play. A productive weekend to say the least. Also, I knew with family commitments, I became a father for the first time last October, that we couldn't afford in time terms to ponder on mixes endlessly. I also knew from obsessively mixing the last album that you soon lose perspective and love for the album for a short while too.

All your releases have been via your own Holy Are You Recordings. What are the advantages and disadvantages of working this way?
Self-releasing for us has been amazing. The advantage is that we take full ownership/proceeds from the sales. A huge shout-out has to go to Guy Sirman at Southern Record Distribution. Without him/them we would not be able to put the albums out. We are now in a position where we can put a record out without having to pay upfront for it, and then see it distributed in the best possible manner. The downside is that we can only have a certain reach whilst being DIY. We employ our own PR in UK but we deserve to be getting full releases throughout the world with thorough PR campaigns.

How does it affect sales?
We are punching way above our weight self-releasing. This album has been one of the top sellers at the independents, and I have been told that had we have went through the corporate route that we would probably be charting top 50 this week, and very likely top 10 on the vinyl chart. No word of a lie, when we put an album up for pre-order our inbox is flooded. We had 100 direct copies of this new album and they sold out in a couple of hours. The figures at the likes of Piccadilly and Norman have been abnormally high.

Music, like the majority of work in the creative arts, appears to have become marginalized these days. Is being in a band like yours financially difficult to sustain, particularly with touring?
We do well in that respect, which I guess stems from self-releasing. We pay for absolutely everything - recording, mastering, PR, art etc. The only thing we don't directly pay for are the manufacturing costs. We always do well out of albums though as they sell very well for our level and touring does well for us too. We aren't a band to be careless in the studio so studio costs really are minimal. We can get a song-a-day recorded, easy.

Do you think some have an issue with you bringing out your releases? Certainly if you self-publish books people’s attitude is often it must be a bit crap if no ‘real’ publisher will touch it.
I think the people mainly to be culprits of that are the bigger label/agent arseholes and pretentious websites. Let's be honest, a self-released band from Carlisle isn't marketable but the proof is out there to see that we have a very intelligent, non-judgemental, comparatively large fanbase. We aren't a band to suffer fools gladly, and the message to all those judging us without listening is 'fuck you'.

The reviews for Compulsion Songs have been uniformly positive but I remember Shindig! magazine giving you a bit of a hard time in the early days. How do you react to criticism?
Shindig! were pretty critical a few years back. The first time was when 'Heartbreak Girl' was released in 2011, and the writer in question accused us of jumping on the psych bandwagon. The irony of that statement was that we had been this for four years at that point and 'Heartbreak Girl' isn't remotely psychedelic, or claims to be. The other time was when we played Liverpool Psych Fest in 2013. We drew one of the biggest, most receptive crowds of the weekend. The writer claimed the crowd were bored or something like that. My simple reply to that - how did our crowds go the following two years? A rhetorical question.

What about your geography? I think you’ve said if you weren’t from Carlisle and was from a “trendier” big city you’d receive more coverage. With communication easier these days via social media and whatnot does where you’re from make any difference?
The problem is that people can't take you seriously in certain areas if you're from a northern 'uncool' city like Carlisle. It is ridiculous and unfortunately is an issue that will never go away. There’s a kind of geographical discrimination that happens in the industry. Also, coming from Carlisle means that you need to work extra hard to get recognition. There's no 'scene' here, people aren't going to be passing your disc around to promoters, writers etc. Once we started in 2008 we went out and played shows in the northern cities, lost a lot of money in the process but made an impact. Every show somebody would be saying 'we've not seen a band as good as you in years' and word-of-mouth developed. If you're from Leeds, you're half-good and play a gig at the local pub you've got the NME and shite like that on speed-dial. Thankfully, in Carlisle that's not a possibility and you've got to work extra hard to get out there; the nearest city is an hour away. We can genuinely say we've never had any 'label interest' ever, not that we care. When we recorded our last album in Liverpool majors were sending scouts up on a weekly basis to look at signing bands who had played a handful of gigs. Says it all.
Mark Emmerson, The Lucid Dream
Let's talk about labels, ‘psych’ in particular. Handy shorthand for journalists or restrictive pigeonhole for musicians?
In fairness, we are a band that's hard to pin down. We're dabbling in psych, dub, garage rock, krautrock. I guess all have 'psychedelic' elements so appreciate we have to accept that as a pigeonhole. To me bands like The Flaming Lips at present, a band who are genuinely weird, do the unexpected and are unhinged are psychedelic, but psychedelic to most appears to be 'has flanger/delay/reverb pedal, haircut and leathers.' To us it means experimental, challenging music. And fuck the leathers and get the shit hats off, get some Adidas, Lacoste, Fred Perry and Paul and Shark on you posers!

How would you describe your music?
Experimental but also in touch with classic pop music. The thing that makes us stand out is that musically we are on fire, but we also know what a great song entails.

What do you want to achieve with the Lucid Dream that you’ve not done so far?
We often have this conversation, and we've achieved more than we ever expected. Initial ambitions were to get a release on vinyl, play outside of Carlisle – honestly! - and have a top time. We've done all those, but also had a lot of records out, played 20 countries and done a few 6 Music sessions, to name a few. The present to-do list for me would be topped by a Maida Vale session and a couple of USA/Americas shows.

What would be a measure of ‘success’?
Has somebody said you have changed their life? If so, that's all. We have been lucky enough to have that acclaim several times. Even things like a fan having 'You & I' as their first dance at their wedding, it doesn't get much better than that.

Further listening. The Lucid Dream’s guide to the five main records to help shape Compulsion Songs:
Neu! – ‘75 (Brain, 1975)
"This is the album that got the ball rolling with this album. Tracks like 'Nadir' and 'Epitaph' are based around that whole motorik beat. You could play those patterns for days and not get bored of it. Love this album. Changed everything. "
Jah Wobble - The Legend Lives On… Jah Wobble In ‘Betrayal’ (Virgin, 1980)
"One of the main components for the dub influences on this album. Jah Wobble is a perfect example of an Englishman who took on board the genius music from Jamaica and inspired it as his own. Something we are tapping into. Check out 'Tales from Outer Space.'"
Singers and Players - War of Words (99 Records, 1981)
"Adrian Sherwood produced dub/and more. Amazing album, all very sparse but proves less is more. Some excellent 'toasting' on this album. We were going to have somebody toast on this album but shelved the idea. Maybe next time!"
Joy Division – Closer (Factory, 1980)
"One of the greatest albums ever. Ian Curtis lyrically on this album was such an inspiration. Dark, dark music, but the impact is second to none. Ian was an example of what you could do with a limited range. One of the all-time heroes. The synths and drum/bass patterns on this album were imperative for forming 'Epitaph' and 'Bad Texan'. 'A Means To An End' has that dance element that 'Bad Texan' does."
Primal Scream – XTRMNTR (Creation, 2000)
Aggressive, confrontational, experimental rock 'n' roll. Everything The Lucid Dream are about live is "in that sentence, and without this album we wouldn't be. See '21st Century' or the last section of 'Epitaph' for reference."

 Follow The Lucid Dream on Twitter or Facebook. Get Compulsion Songs from Holy Are You.