Thursday, 29 June 2017


Marshall Allen, Sun Ra Arkestra, Jazz Café, Camden, June 2017
1.  Sonny Rollins – ‘Saint Thomas’ (1956)
The opening track from Saxophone Colossus and from Rollins’ first notes instantly recognisable to me from Monkey Snr playing it countless times as I was growing up. Each play would have been swiftly followed by the shout of “Headphones!” from Ma Monkey so it’s only now I’ve heard the whole track.

2.  Sun Ra and his Myth Science Arkestra – ‘Angels and Demons at Play’ (1960)
Sun Ra reckoned his music could transform the world by the joy it would bring. Last week at the Jazz Café in Camden his Arkestra, now led by 93 year young “originator of avant-garde saxophone” Marshall Allen, which for at least the duration of their performance, banished the blues of the city and put beaming smiles on the faces of all those in attendance. It was a sight and sound to behold and, as impenetrable and intimidating the universe of Ra can seem, was far more inviting and accommodating in a live setting than the mountain of recordings and intergalactic gobbledegook may lead you to believe.

3.  Lula Reed – ‘What Makes You So Cold’ (1961)
Cracking R&B shuffler and just dig that twang. Honourable mention to the other side of this Federal 45 which wins Song Title of The Month: ‘Ain’t No Cotton Pickin’ Chicken (Gonna Break This Chicken Heart of Mine)’.

4.  Don Charles – ‘The Hermit of Misty Mountain’ (1962)
It’s songs like this – with Joe Meek’s superb production – that make me miss Brian Matthew and Sounds of the 60s on a Saturday morning.

5.  Madeline Bell – ‘Don’t Cross Over (To My Side Of The Street)’ (1964)
Ms Bell makes an appearance on the new Paul Weller album but from the other end of her career is this fabulous clippity-cloppity soulful pop from the flip of her debut 45.

6.  Tony Hestor – ‘Just Can’t Leave You’ (1966)
Detroit soul of the highest order by a man who managed to turn down the allure of Motown, not wishing to be tied down to a long contract. Released on the Karate label and includes the label credit ‘Features Mike Terry and his Adored Baritone Sax’. There’s nothing here to not adore.

7.  David Ruffin - 'I Could Never Be President' (1969)
Take David's advice, know your limits.

8.  The Dramatics – ‘The Devil Is Dope’ (1971)
More from the pen of Tony Hestor who knew at first-hand the dangers of the pusherman writing this and ‘Beware Of The Man (With The Candy In His Hand) for the Dramatics. Hestor was tragically robbed and slain on the streets of Detroit, aged 34.

9.  Thousand Yard Stare – ‘0-0 After Extra Time’ (1991)
Thousand Yard Stare seemed like such nice unassuming lads back in the day when they were the perennial local support act for bigger names passing through The Old Trout in Windsor in the early 90s. After seeing them at the 100 Club this month I can’t even dare to imagine what horrors have fallen upon them in the intervening years such was the air of dark unpleasantness they now emanate. Still, I did enjoy hearing this again.

10.  Cabbage - 'A Celebration of a Disease' (2017)
With the political bite of Dead Kennedys and the groove of Happy Mondays, Cabbage are the best band around at the moment.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017


I’ve not experienced emotion like it at a gig before. After a stunning rendition of ‘Choice of Colors’, a song banned by radio stations for daring to challenge racial prejudice, the audience rose as one for a standing ovation so long and heartfelt it reduced Impressions Fred Cash and then Sam Gooden to tears.

After 59 years “the most iconic soul group all time”, as described in their introduction and with no argument for me, are calling it a day and played London last night for the final time. It’ll be an evening no one in attendance will ever forget.

There is something truly magical about The Impressions. Not only the life-affirming, galvanising nature of their music but in the personalities of the group. Curtis Mayfield quite rightly takes the bulk of the plaudits but even without him on lead vocals, wingmen Fred and Sam amply demonstrated their vital contributions.

Young Jermaine Purifory was entrusted with the Curtis role, after long time Impression Reggie Torian died last year, and did it well but from the opening number, ‘It’s All Right’, the way Fred and Sam exuded sheer uncontrollable joy quite literally brought a tear to the eye. With their kind, beaming faces, gently rocking their shoulders and clapping their hands they looked like the two happiest men on earth, as if they’d hit the jackpot of life. Matched with Mayfield’s songs of comfort and hope and the result was soul stirring. Even the way the pair provided the gentle harmonies on ‘Gypsy Woman’, not even needing words, was spine tingling.

The set was packed with the irresistible dancers: ‘Woman’s Got Soul’, ‘I Need You’, ‘Can’t Satisfy’ ‘You Ought To Be In Heaven’ and ‘Stay Close To Me’ all sounding more Motownesque than on record while ‘You’ve Been Cheatin’’, with Fred handling the lead, brought the house down and another standing ovation, an occurrence which punctuated the show at regular intervals. The ballads including ‘I’ve Been Trying’ were no less affecting and let Purifory showcase his talent; there was a touch of Marvin Gaye about the way he soared on ‘I’m So Proud’.

The venue, the Union Chapel, was the perfect setting and the way a single purple spotlight shone down on Fred Cash at close of ‘People Get Ready’, when he sang the closing line “You just thank the Lord”, with his finger pointing skyward, moved even the sternness nonbeliever.

Before the close, on a count of one-two-three led by Purifory, another thunderous ovation. Grown men and women were weeping - on stage and, heaven help them, standing on the chapel pews. The finale of ‘Move On Up’ caught the band and group out of synch but it was understandable with emotions running so high.

No more tears do we cry and we have finally dried our eyes” they sang on ‘We’re A Winner’. I’m not sure that’s true yet, I’m welling up again just writing this. The Impressions - with your inspirational music, your message, your soul, your spirit - you’re winners. We might not see you again but you’ll live on forever. Thank you for everything.

Thanks to Glen Manners @Mamaroux78 for the photo.

Thursday, 8 June 2017


After months of teasing The Shoots finally release their debut single.

The band are, in effect, the latest Paul Orwell project with lead vocal duties handed to Lord Essien.

‘I Don’t Know’ is two breathless minutes of the good Lord grabbing ya by the short and curlies as the combo snap and snarl like rabid dogs before Orwell unleashes the wildest onslaught of manic freakbeat guitar. On the flip they ‘Do The Jerk’ which could be very dangerous if you’re in close proximity.

Available only as a 7-inch single, with painstakingly period detail, on Heavy Soul Records. Limited to 300 copies, get ‘em while they’re hot. Out today.

Friday, 2 June 2017


After a few months of gremlins, Fusion are back on-line with their weekly Sunday night hour slot of fantastic music selected and increasingly presented by their listeners.

After Mick's flagship Kitchen Boogie show last week, Monkey's Wandering Wireless Show is back this Sunday. If you've listened before you'll know the format by now: loads of brilliant records from across the decades (admittedly heavy on the 60s) interrupted occasionally by me trying to speak in complete sentences with varying degrees of success. It'll be fun, trust me.

To tune in just hit this link - - in time for your wireless (okay, laptop/tablet/phone) to burst into sound at 8.30pm on the dot.

If you want to join in the chit-chat as the show goes on you'll made to feel more than welcome by the lovely folk in the Mixlr chatroom but if you just wanna sit back and relax that's equally cool. Enjoy.

UPDATE: Catch-up link:

Thursday, 1 June 2017


Balls, ran outta time in May but this is a quick round up of some of the things spun in Monkey Mansions the last month. Healthy amount of new releases which is great. Check 'em.

1.  The King-Beats – ‘Same Way Every Day’ (1966)
Gloriously sunny pop from The King-Beats and featured on a terrific comp, German Measles: Sun Came Out At Seven: ‘60s Mod, Pop and Freakbeat from Germany.

2.  Eden Kane – ‘Gotta Get Through To You’ (1967)
An Australian only 45 from Kane now included on a 3-CD set from Cherry Red, Night Comes Down: 60’s British Mod, R&B, Freakbeat & Swinging London Nuggets. One of many highlights.

3.  Orange Deluxe – ‘Anti-Gravity Blues’ (1995)
I never really forgave Orange Deluxe (or the Nubiles) for not being Five Thirty but listening back to Necking it has more in common wit Paul Bassett’s previous band than I’d been willing to concede.

4.  The Bongolian – ‘Londinium Calling’ (2016)
Spend last Saturday afternoon down in Margate watching the Bongolian beat out funky jazzy instrumentals. Never been particularly sold on their records but unreservedly recommended as a live act.

5.  Paul Weller – ‘The Cranes Are Back’ (2017)
Ditched much of the squiggles and audio doodling (not that I’m adverse to those) A Kind Revolution is ten songs strong on melody. Forty years down the line and Paul Weller makes one of his best albums.

6.  Don Bryant – ‘I Got To Know’ (2017)
Don's still taking it to church.

7.  Daniel Romano - 'Roya' (2017)
The stand out tender moment from genre dodging Romano’s new Modern Pressure. Track of the month.

8.  The Primitives – ‘I’ll Trust The Wind’ (2017)
The Prims were on their usual sugar and spice form at the 229 Club on Friday. Super to hear a couple of tracks from their new EP, New Thrills, including this blockbuster.

9.  The Limboos – ‘Been A Whole Lot of Time’ (2017)
Exotic rhythm and blues from Spain and the Limboos’ second album, Limbootica. Simultaneously cool and hot. I'm desperate to see this lot live.

10.  BMX Bandits – ‘Saveoursmiles’ (2017)
Even though heartbreak and sadness permeate BMX Bandits’ world it always strikes me as a gentler and kinder place to live than this other world. From the wonderful BMX Bandits Forever.