VIVE LE JOCK!

Reaction 2

Last weekend, Vive Le Rock went north of the border to co-promote a show at Broadcast in Glasgow featuring three of Scotland’s finest up’n’coming punk bands. Neil Hodge was there to review the proceedings….

Take a Saturday night in Glasgow, a NYC record label, add three of Scotland’s premier punk bands, an intimate venue full of enthusiastic punters and you have the recipe for a superb night out. This was a hotly anticipated sold-out gig, with people travelling some distances to attend (Dublin, England, North of Scotland). They were most definitely not disappointed.

Tarbeach Records label-mates ReAction, Heavy Drapes and The Zips came together to provide a high octane, hundred-mile-an-hour punk rock romp. The running order had been kept under wraps beforehand to ensure maximum attendance for all bands and the ploy worked. The venue was rammed and the atmosphere was palpable as Airdrie’s peerless ReAction kicked things off in vigorous style with a selection of tracks from their debut album and recent EP. Opening up with ‘Dead Boy Racer’ the pace started at break-neck speed and didn’t let up throughout the set. The now familiar songs in the set were bolstered by some raucous new material including ‘Kamikaze Baby’, a song about Debbie Juvenile from the original Bromley Contingent, and closed with audience choice, their energetic version of External Menace’s ‘Someday’. By the time they left the stage packed-out venue was now a veritable sweatbox.

HD Kiss 3

There was no time wasted between bands and shortly after ReAction exited stage left it was the turn of Edinburgh’s Heavy Drapes. The band took to the stage with frontman De Liberate making his now familiar declaration “We’re Heavy Drapes and we are punk rock,” before launching into their musical manifesto with ‘Number 1’. Fresh from a triumphant gig on Rebellion’s main stage, this was the first gig for ex-Scars guitarist, Paul Research. He has certainly brought a new vibrancy to the band who were on blistering form. It was a colossal assault on the senses from start to finish. The set included all the now standard Drapes tracks – ‘Into the Blue’, ‘Janie’ – with the crowd in great voice too, especially on tracks like ‘Let’s Free The Working Class’ and set closer ‘(I Wanna Be) Maladjusted’, every song going down a storm with the partisan crowd.

Zips 3

It was down to seminal Glasgow punk legends The Zips to close proceedings. We were treated to a career-spanning set starting with the topical ‘Hear, Hear’ and ‘Thin Blue Line’ from the latest album. The tempo of the evening was kept up with the likes of the high-spirited celebration of ’40 Years of Punk Rock’ and the first live outing for older song ‘Take Me Down’, which features on Gary Crowley’s upcoming punk and new wave compilation, through to set closer, early single ‘Don’t Get Pushed Around’, The Zips jolted the already exuberant crowd into another level of euphoria, the resultant jubilation saw the night ending with a stage invasion.

With new songs, imminent albums and forthcoming gigs a-plenty from all three bands, the future looks dazzling for Scottish punk. If you haven’t already done so, seek them all out – or stay at home staring at your navel, the choice is yours.

Neil Hodge

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LIVE REVIEWS EXTRA!

DREAMERS

Because Vive Le Rock mag is crowded with great live reviews, we sometimes can’t get them all in!

So here’s a couple of extra reviews for yer…..

LAST GREAT DREAMERS
THE WHEATSHEAF, OXFORD

The LAST GREAT DREAMERS arrive in Oxford at the arse end of a nationwide tour in support of their latest release, the aurally agreeable pledge music, fan-funded ‘Transmissions From Oblivion’. Although struggling with man-flu the band deliver an energetic, heel kicking, Beechams assisted full throttle performance. Dressed in an array of hats, scarves, spotty shirts with obligatory black waistcoats, the band are Dickensian visual vagabonds and if ever a group sounded like they looked it’s the LGD. Set and album opener ‘Oblivion Kids’ initially suffers from streaky vocals due to said illness but front man Valentine digs deep and delivers a performance which grows in stature the longer he continues. Single ‘Glitterball Apocalypse’ avoids turning into the Euro 96 anthem ‘Three Lions’ by a goalpost and ‘Ashtray Eyes’ sees lead guitarist Slyder take over the singing duties. A finale of ‘Last Great Dreamers’ and the smash and grab closer ‘Dope School’ complete a spirited sixty minutes of Snot, Rattle and Roll.
Guy Shankland

FROM THE JAM
SUB 89 READING

FROM THE JAM open with a top ten treble of ‘Modern World’, ‘Strange Town’ and ‘Beat Surrender’ it’s a win win scenario that opens the nostalgic vocal floodgates. A rousing ‘Butterfly Collector’, ‘Down In a Tube Station’ and ‘That’s Entertainment’ are all given early set-list outings. Bruce Foxton confidently handles singing duties on ‘David Watts’, ‘Smithers Jones’ and ‘News Of The World’. ‘Going Underground’, ‘A Town Called Malice’ and ‘Start’ simply demonstrate the pure unadulterated song writing genius of a youthful Paul Weller. FTJ deliver these songs with energy, passion and breathe life into this timeless body of work. The songs all remain vital and provide an incisive snapshot of Thatcher’s Britain in the early eighties through the eyes of a young disaffected suburban male. A double finale of ’In The City’ and ’Eton Riffles’ puts the final cherry on a celebratory, Jam packed night. Twenty songs in ninety sing-a-long minutes, most sung word for word by the sold out, smiling, Sub89 crowd. That’s entertainment.
Guy Shankland

 

 

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RADIO BIRDMAN, THE WAREHOUSE, FALKIRK

Radio Birdman live photo- Anne Tek

Legendary Australian proto-punks Radio Birdman finally arrived in Scotland, almost forty years after their last thwarted attempt.

Support act The Fuckin’ Godoys kicked things off with an explosive set that demonstrated their love of 70s Brit-punk. Art and Steve have backed Birdman guitarist Deniz Tek on various tours and releases, but even as a stripped-down duo of drums and guitar, the twins generated enough energy to power the national grid.

The headliners opened with the atmospheric ‘Crying Sun’ before barrelling into ‘Smith & Wesson Blues’, guitarist Dave Kettley locking in seamlessly with bass legend Jim Dickson and the propulsive drumming of Nik Rieth.

Frontman Rob Younger was in fine voice and good humour, joking with the audience before the band tipped into a molten ‘Descent into the Maelstrom’.  The dapper Pip Hoyle showcased his keyboard skills on a rapturously received ‘Man with Golden Helmet’, while Deniz Tek gave us a masterclass in his influential guitar style.  The guitarist’s wife, photographer Anne Tek, kindly supplied the live shot for this review.

We got a slew of classics- ‘What Gives’, ‘i-94’, ‘Do the Pop’, ‘Aloha, Steve and Danno’, ‘More Fun’ and ‘New Race’, plus a surprise cover of Magazine’s ‘Shot by Both Sides’. ‘Anglo Girl Desire’ and ‘Alone in the Endzone’ were particular highlights, while an incandescent ‘Hand of Law’ included a snippet of The Chantays’ ‘Pipeline’.

This was an inspired performance by Australia’s finest- fingers crossed we won’t have to wait another forty years for a return visit.

Gus Ironside

Pic by Anne Tek

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ALTERNATIVE FESTIVALS EXTRA!

JC_Carroll

Planning on going to any festivals this summer? JC Carroll of THE MEMBERS gives his views on some of the alternatives…..

 

THE BEST FESTIVALS IN ENGLAND (that you have never heard of)

SOMETHING ELSE, BLANK GENERATION and GLASTONWICK

I have just played three of the best festivals in England. And most of you will not have heard of them. There was no blanket coverage on BBC about them, there was not be articles in the national press about them. Later on in the year I should be heading off to play Rebellion in Blackpool and later still the great British Alternative Festival in Skegness

Skegness, Blackpool – smug southerners amongst you may chuckle. Sticks of rock, fish and chips, caravans, northerners on holiday, Butlins, how quaint.

Coldplay will not be playing or Kanye West or Adele or Jack Garrett or Sam Smith or Busted. You will not get an NME tent that comprises of people performing on a laptop.

You will get The Stranglers, Buzzcocks, The Damned, The Members and scores of younger bands like Knock Off, alt-rock, reggae, rockabilly, pirate shanties, folk music and every form of authentic music indigenous to these isles. People will travel from Australia, America, Berlin to attend because these are the biggest celebrations of alternative culture in the world.

These events will be largely ignored by the media and will sell out. The clue is in the name of the last festival, the word ‘alternative’.

In the 70s, the festival at Worthy Farm was alternative. It had David Bowie, Gong, Hawkind freaky hippie bands. Before punk we didn’t want pop, we wanted alternative music. John Peel championed it and punk grew out of it.

Three weeks ago we played at SOMETHING ELSE in Duns Tew, a completely solar powered festival in a field in idyllic Oxfordshire, organised by the legendary Gail Something Else. Gail is a Queen of the Alt scene, a scarlet-haired Tattooed Bodicea in a van. Her festival in Oxfordshire is totally off the grid: water from a well, solar-powered with wood fire pizza. It has travellers, punks, lawyers, doctors, civil servants and plenty of disabled people. Veterans of the Battle of the Beanfield, young punks, dreadlocked pirates – they are all there and they love my band The Members.

A week later we were celebrating 40 years of punk in a squatted building in Tottenham with a massive line up of punk bands old and new. Veterans of the 77 scene and younger acts. Audience age from 16 to 60. A squatted building, vegetarian food… Was this some sort of retro 70s themed party? No, this was BLANK GENERATION, London in 2016 where punk is not a retrospective token programme on Radio 2 or an exhibition at the photographers gallery. Where punk is a viable alternative to the soup of talent show cannon-fodder and landfill castrati-electronica pumped out of BBC and the commercial stations. Where punk is the antithesis of the commercial pouting narcissists that inhabit the front page of iTunes and the Google-owned Internet like a massive Westfield shopping centre in the sky hovering forever in our periphery vision

There’s that word again, the nemesis of alternative, ‘commercial’.

The third festival took place in a farm in a hollow in the South Downs, a more politicised bunch, double-decker buses ferrying people from Shoreham, Worthing and Brighton, men and women, taking their children to their first festival. Eighty different types of independent ales, ciders and perrys. No queues for overloaded chemical toilets here, it is largely run by a gentleman poet called Attila the Stockbroker with his hands firmly on the artistic tiller and the cheque book he promptly paid me with. A guest of mine and the veteran of many Readings and Bestivals cheerfully messaged me and said it was the best festival she had ever been to.

Many people only go to one festival a year and choose one with the most acts because it represents value for money. They try and make the best of the Syrian refugee camp accommodation and toilet conditions these large events with their corporate sponsors and the illusion of overpriced glamping offer. What they get is an official beer, more acts than they could consume in a month and hours of massive dehumanising queues in and out of the premises – a sort of Dystopian Babylon, a Hell on Earth, The Somme with Borough Market Vietnamese street food, Lana Del Rey and Ed Sheeran.

In Blackpool everybody stays in B & B and shits in a proper toilet. In Skegness you get a holiday apartment thrown in with cable TVs. There are no wellies, mud, chemical loos. Fish and chips, steaks and beer in a glass. Oh, and a roof.

Oh, and the other thing about alt festivals is they feed the band give you tons of beer tokens and pay you!

Bring it on !

With the exception of John Giddings’ Isle of Wight, the main festivals are punk-free zones preferring 80s and 90s revival acts to the cultural authenticity and grit of our generation .

Something Else, Blank Generation and Glastonwick are independent festivals run by brave people who champion the alternative, Vive Le Rock, Vive le Difference!

JC

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THE DAMNED: ACADEMY IS THE LIFE FOR ME!

damned

THE DAMNED celebrated the festive season with low-key show at the O2 Academy, Islington in London on 20 December. Our man Andy Zel was there….

THE DAMNED
THE FEATHERZ
O2 Academy Islington

The Featherz warm us up nicely with their punky glam fare comprising the melodic buzzsaw guitar, crunchy riffage and spirited vocals of frontwoman Danie Cox. In addition to catchy originals such as ‘When Was The Last Time You Had Sex’ and ‘Takes One To Know One’ we’re treated to covers of T Rex’s ’20th Century Boy’ and Penetration’s ‘Don’t Dictate’ which go down very nicely and more or less sum up where this lot are coming from musically.

About to enter their 40th year, The Damned’s vigour seems to increase with age. Launching straight into ‘Wait For The Blackout’, they proceed to wire us up with an electrifying set, drawn largely from their classic trio of late 70s/early 80s albums – ‘Machine Gun Etiquette’, ‘The Black Album’ and ‘Strawberries’. Aside from the inevitable (and essential) ‘New Rose’ and ‘Neat Neat Neat’, only ‘Fan Club’ survives from the first album, but there are nods to the more commercial mid 80s era in the form of ‘Grimly Fiendish’ as well as ‘Eloise’ and a particularly exquisite version of ‘Alone Again Or’ – dedicated to Arthur Lee.

Standouts tonight include ‘History Of The World (Part 1)’, ‘Love Song’, ‘Machine Gun Etiquette’, ‘Smash It Up’ and the aforementioned ‘New Rose’. With it being the festive season we also get ‘There Ain’t No Sanity Clause’ and ‘Turkey Song’, the latter featuring guest appearances from fellow travellers Charlie Harper and Gaye Advert.

The Captain thanks us “for putting up with us for the last 39 years”. It’s been our pleasure sir. Here’s looking forward to the Albert Hall in May for the 40th!

Andy Zel

 

Photo by Dod Morrison

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MANICS’ BIBLICAL RETURN IN EDINBURGH

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MANIC STREET PREACHERS opened their The Holy Bible 20th Anniversary tour in Edinburgh last Saturday. Vive Le Rock’s Andrew Welsh was on the scene…

MANIC STREET PREACHERS / Usher Hall, Edinburgh

Few bands have enjoyed a relevance over the past quarter century like Manic Street Preachers.
Plenty have been around for at least as long and similarly prolific, like Killing Joke and Therapy?, but have long since ceased to puncture the public consciousness beyond a fervent, if limited, fanbase despite producing consistently excellent material. Then there are your Blue Nile types, those who pop up fleetingly with a new album every seven or eight years, take the critical plaudits and vanish again.

With 12 studio albums and the equivalent of at least another half dozen in assorted B-sides and rareties behind them since 1990, Manic Street Preachers have never been afraid of failure. Last year’s Futurology was a bold step into the realm of Krautrock, but surely their biggest gamble was 1994’s dark masterpiece The Holy Bible, a searing diatribe that covered subject matter such as anorexia, prostitution, the Holocaust, capital punishment and suicide with brutal honesty. Its principal lyric architect Richey Edwards went into meltdown post-Holy Bible and disappeared aged 27 in 1995, with his fate still unknown.

It is precisely because his childhood friends James Dean Bradfield, Nicky Wire and Sean Moore subsequently went on to greater success that seeing them reconnect with Edwards’ uncompromising youthful lyrics in their mid-40s has an emotional significance for the band’s fans. The industrial rock opener ‘Yes’ set the tone at the Usher Hall, with the bouncing massed ranks firing back every word to the Welsh trio in their forces-style garb, the stage similarly bedecked in camouflage netting a la the band’s original Holy Bible tour 21 years ago.

Shafts of humour amid a set made up of such compellingly bleak material were inevitably few, but the chorus of pantomime boos that greeted mention of Margaret Thatcher in the haunting sample that pressaged the militaristic stomp of ‘Ifwhiteamerica…’ raised a smile from Bradfield. The rugged frontman clearly relishes the challenge of reproducing his astonishing guitar-and-vocals performance on the album, and in a century-old venue noted for faithful recitals the intricacies of such visceral tracks as ‘Archives Of Pain’, ‘Mausoleum’ and ‘Faster’ rightly came across as the technical achievements that they are.

The second half of the show was an enjoyable selection from the Manics’ bulky back catalogue. Bradfield went solo on a heartfelt acoustic rendition of ‘The Everlasting’, “something a little more touchy-feely” as he understatedly put it following the first hour’s confrontational content. By contrast, the Guns’n’Roses-like anthem ‘Condemned To Rock’n’Roll’ was a flashback to the original Generation Terrorists, all slogans and spraypaint, with Wire saying the song had never been played live by the four-piece because he and Edwards had been unable to learn it.

Futurology‘s ‘Walk Me To The Bridge’ stood up well beside MSP classics ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’ and ‘You Stole The Sun From My Heart’, while the leviathans ‘If You Tolerate This’ and ‘A Design For Life’ were delivered with feeling and intensity.

As the 20th anniversary of 1996’s Everything Must Go album approaches, speculation is rife that they might be about to embark on another themed tour next year. With the throng at Usher Hall made up of feather boa and mascara-wearing veterans and 20-somethings alike, all keen to grab a slice of thrilling ’90s celebration, there appears to be no shortage of demand. Certainly, if the trio handle their commercial breakthrough LP with the same reverence and total commitment as they showed to The Holy Bible then a must-see experience lies in prospect.

Andrew Welsh

http://www.manicstreetpreachers.com/

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ALBUM REVIEWS (JAN/FEB 2014)


2ND DISTRICT
WHAT’S INSIDE YOU!?
(Wanda)
Third full length from these German glam punks.
6/10

2nd District’s first two full-length platters may be familiar to some, as ‘Emotional Suicide’ (2006) and ‘Poverty Makes Angry’ (2009) were released through People Like You Records. For the uninitiated, 2nd District pump out a kind of glam-tinted ’77 punk that has flashes of early Manic Street Preachers coupled with the driving anthems of the Buzzcocks and Placebo-esque vocals. The emphasis is less on the indie sound of these comparisons here though, as tracks like ‘The Bourgeois Attitude’ have a glittery yet razor sharp stomp about them. ‘What’s Inside You!?’ does have a bit of filler here and there, but on the whole it carries some fine glam punk tunes in its grooves and its heady mix of old and new are blended seamlessly to create some highly listenable songs.
Miles Hackett

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ALBUM REVIEWS (JUL/AUG)

AIRBOURNE
BLACK DOG BARKING
(Roadrunner)
Aussie hard rockers kick out the jams on album three.
8/10

If you’re curious as to who will keep Aussie rock alive and kicking once AC/DC and Rose Tattoo are gone then Airbourne are the answer. Imbued with that true gang mentality that makes their influences so exhilarating, they’re the real deal. They live for rock, booze, women and cars, with opener ‘Ready To Rock’ setting the tone. Foot stomping riffs, massive guitar solos and a truly relentless tempo give the record punch and passion. Highlights include the anthemic ‘Firepower’, ‘Live It Up’ and building ‘Back In The Game’, with choruses as big as the riffs. The title track has a darker, underdog edge, while the sleazy ‘Woman Like That’ and Metallica-esque ‘Hungry’ show some slight changes from the winning formula. But overall, ‘Black Dog Barking’ is straight-up, good time, beer and sweat-soaked rock music, in true Aussie style. Play very loud.
John Truman
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ALBUM REVIEWS

NEW ALBUMS

ADMIRAL SIR CLOUDESLEY SHOVELL
DON’T HEAR IT… FEAR IT!
(Rise Above)
Hastings three-piece take you on a mind-melting prog/hard rock trip.
8/10

Heavily influenced by the likes of Budgie, Sabbath and Quo, this trio, named after a 17th century English naval commander, lead the listener on a mighty adventure with their mighty debut full-length. With Johnny Gorilla’s gritty, half-shouted, half-sung vocals and massively fuzzed out guitar, Louis Comfort-Wiggett’s wandering bass lines and Bill Darlington’s thundering drum work, this is a big step up from their EP, ‘Return To Zero’. With riffs and raw delivery on the album highlights, including blistering opener ‘Mark Of The Beast’ and the ominous ‘Scratchin And Sniffin’ – the latter of which is very short by their standards at just (!) five minutes. Dirty, lowdown and bursting with a love for their influences, this is a hefty debut that deserves to be played, loud. Hear it… and fear it.
John Truman

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RANCID & COCK SPARRER / PiL

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RANCID
COCK SPARRER
SAN FRANCISO WARFIELD

SAN Francisco, California: world renowned for Alcatraz, glorious sunshine and the Golden Gate Bridge. However on the 23rd and 24th of March, The Warfield was to hold the punk rock birthday party of the year! As American punk rockers Rancid and English Oi! legends Cock Sparrer celebrate their respective 20th and 40th anniversaries in style.
From the moment of sound check both bands were equally as excited to play together as they exchange merchandise, beers and laughs with not a frown in sight. By gig time the atmosphere was electric as the people cram this once-abandoned theatre to its full capacity as both shows are sold out.
As the lights dim the crowd roar with excitement as boots stomp and beer flies across the ceiling, Cock Sparrer enter with a siren sounding ‘Riot Squad’. Even a crowded karaoke bar multiplied by ten could not compare to this crowd singing every word, as the echo of chanting bounces the walls throughout the set.
Beating through tracks such as ‘Working’, ‘Teenage Heart/Droogs Don’t Run’ & ‘AU’ the boys from ‘Sparrer showed their younger counterparts and headliners Rancid how it was done. With Cock Sparrer having the classic equation of sing-a-long hooks and catchy riffs it would be difficult for the band to disappoint as they close their set with ‘England Belongs To Me’ and ‘We’re Coming Back’ with two thousand American voices helping out on the choruses.
However, the party didn’t stop there. Rancid, the punk rock ska chart toppers, turn in an explosive set, opening with ‘Radio’ followed by the infamous ‘Roots Radicals’ and throwing the crowd into a frenzy as the floor becomes a dance floor.
From there they dropped into ‘Last One To Die’, a poetic, fast-hitting punk song taken from the latest album, which you can’t help but nod your head to and barrelling through other songs such as ‘Old Friend’,‘ Blood Clot’ and ‘Maxwell Murder’.
Near the end Skinhead Rob of the Transplants made a brief but fantastic appearance, joining in on ‘Red Hot Moon’, proving his voice is still powerful and strong. Ending the set Rancid closed with ‘Tenderloin’ and ‘Ruby Soho’, two of their most loved and well-known songs, finishing off a fantastic set in fine style.
Throughout the two nights both bands tweaked their sets to give the audience a different flavour, so the crowd didn’t see the same show twice, but included the classics the fans wanted to hear.
On the closing show Rancid paid respect to Cock Sparrer, inviting them back onto the stage where both bands sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to each other.
A celebration of the highest order.

Words/Photos: Sam Bruce


PUBLIC IMAGE LTD
LONDON HEAVEN

WITH the dents in his public goodwill still fresh over those recent episodes of buttery buffoonery, John Lydon’s return to the musical arena ─ with a PIL line-up that could hardly be described as ‘classic’ ─ has been greeted with some trepidation. Certainly the 2012 PIL, which retains guitarist Lu Edmonds and drummer Bruce Smith from the band’s late eighties incarnation, has its vices. Self-indulgence being one of them; with a set that runs well over the two-hour mark, PIL could comfortably have trimmed off forty minutes or so and probably been better for it. I would guess this failing stems from the organisation’s head, since Lydon ─ blowing snot from each nostril as he works the room like some council estate Arthur Askey ─ clearly relishes the spotlight, and seems intent in squeezing the most out of it.
Beefing aside though, there are points at which PIL are undeniably stunning. Bruce Smith and bassist Scott Firth are amply capable of reproducing that claustrophobic strain of earthquake dub that characterised the band at its most inventive. Edmonds ─ who looks as if he’s spent his time since PIL’s 1992 split splicing together unlikely combinations of stringed instruments on a desert island ─ summons up an impressive atonal squall. Over these foundations Lydon snarls and keens his way through choice moments from the PIL catalogue. There are moments of pure magnificence; few could argue with the very real sense of anger and betrayal packed into the iconoclastic ‘Religion’ or the accusatory ‘Albatross’, and the feeling of loss which Lydon still injects into ‘Death Disco’ is staggering. While the jury’s still out on the new material showcased tonight, top notch renditions of such milestones as ‘Rise’ and ‘This Is Not A Love Song’, and an unexpected encore of 1993’s Leftfield collaboration ‘Open Up’, ensure there is little call for the much-rumoured stagebound butter-pelting, which significantly did not materialise.
So that’s the contemporary Lydon then; bloody-minded, infuriating, and, quite frequently, brilliant. He could be wrong. He could be right.

Hugh Gulland

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ALBUM REVIEWS


NEW ALBUMS

ALAN DAVEY
CYBER TOOTH
(Earthquake)
Latest solo outing from Gunslinger main man and Hawklords bassist.
8/10

Adaptable as ever, you’ve got to hand it to Davey: he’s a master of versatility, and a prolific one at that too. With all instruments played by Davey himself, this really is a solo album in the truest sense of the word. Judging from some of the song titles and lyrics it might reasonably be construed that this is a concept album of sorts too, but don’t let that put you off. Alternating between pounding space rock, foreboding electronic soundscapes and bass-driven techno space chases parts of this album wouldn’t sound out of place on a sci-fi movie – just check out ‘Doomjuice (It’s Coming)’ or ‘Rootkit’. Elsewhere, the ambient electronica of ‘Polymorphic Code’ is a cross between Davey’s old band Hawkwind and Future Sound of London. Cyber Tooth really does have a nasty bite that’ll certainly leave its mark on you. 
Rich Deakin



ALVA

SAUDADE DO FUTURO
(Knuckle Soup)
Debut UK album from Brazilian rockers.

7/10

Drawing influence from bands as wide-ranging as Fugazi, The Clash, Helmet and Radiohead, this four-piece’s rock assault is a driving and refreshing sound that has nods to the classics. Opener ‘Deixe Sangrar’ has a touch of early Foo Fighters about it while ‘Acordei Bemol/Diminuto’ sounds a bit like if Queens of the Stone Age went on a prog jam. The likes of ‘Sonata Para Samsa’ mix crunching guitars with mellow horns while ‘Auto-exilio’ ends with some far Eastern sounding effects, stressing their complete lack of fear of experimentation and spreading their musical wings. With Spanish vocals and a totally unrestrained approach, Alva are a dynamic and tight unit, with many years as a band under their belts. Working on new material this Summer, ‘Saudade Do Futuro’ is hopefully just the first of many UK releases from these talented Brazilians.
Kelly Oliver

ANDRE WILLIAMS
HOODS AND SHADES
(Bloodshot)
Chicago rebel bluesman walks it like he talks it.
7/10

Authenticity goes a long way in country music, where songwriters have been creating songs out of troubled pasts for as long as the genre’s existed. Andre Williams spent stretches of his life on the hard streets of Chicago and has suffered from drug and alcohol abuse. That level of authenticity in Andre’s music shows – no one is born with this much grit in their voice. ‘Hoods and Shades’, Andre’s fifteenth album, is slightly more varied in approach than the bluesman’s previous output, but there’s nothing here that’s all too different from what’s come before in a career spanning over 50 years. ‘A Good Day To Feel Bad’ is a burst of raunchy roadhouse blues that’d make the perfect background music for a bar brawl, while ‘Mogo Hannah’ and ‘Dirt’ are similar foot-stompers, straight-forward and alluringly vulgar in their instrumentation.
Scott Zverblis

ANGEL WITCH
AS ABOVE SO BELOW
(Rise Above)
NWOBHM unsung heroes make a mighty comeback.
8/10


Chinese Democracy’ may have taken Axl 15 years to get together but it’s been no less than 26 years since London heavy metallers Angel Witch released their last studio album – 1986’s ‘Frontal Assault’. Best known for their thundering self-titled 1980 debut, which was a landmark release for NWOBHM alongside the likes of Saxon and Iron Maiden, vocalist/guitarist and driving force Kevin Heybourne is back with a new line-up (including metal guitar legend Bill Steer of Carcass) and a sound that harks back to the band’s classic early sound – avoiding the passing trends and playing with true passion on newly penned tracks like ‘Geburah’ and ‘Brainwashed’. ‘As Above So Below’ also includes songs that date back to their late ’70s heyday but never saw the light, such as live favourites ‘Guillotine’ and ‘Into The Dark’. Fall under Angel Witch’s spell.
John Damon

THE BERMONDSEY JOYRIDERS 

NOISE AND REVOLUTION

(Fuel)

East end punk-blues kings get radical.
7/10


A concept album of sorts – if you can handle that from the dependably no-nonsense Bermondseys – Gary Lammin’s boisterous blues-rock trio have teamed up with former MC5 manager and agitator par excellence John Sinclair for a punkily politicised rave up. It’s not such an outlandish notion on closer examination; Lammin has long carried the torch for UK punk’s kick-against-the-pricks ethos, and the raw energy of the Joyriders’ Faces-in-bovver-boots sound places the band in fairly close kinship to the 5’s Motor City roar. ‘Noise And Revolution’ is loud, fast, cheekily confrontational, and for all Sinclair’s drawled inter-song narratives, distinctly British – the humble cup of tea receiving its proper tribute, even above Sinclair’s preferred methods of herbal recreation. Lammin’s bluesy bellow is at peak flow throughout, and the rousing strains of his overdriven slide are a sure-fire thrill. 
Hugh Gulland

BOB WAYNE

TILL THE WHEELS FALL OFF
(People Like You)

The Outlaw Carnie hits the road hard.

7/10

Mixing outlaw country with a punkabilly snarl and spitting lyrics about drink, drugs, girls, hating the law and living on the road, this is the sound of rebel country, turned up to 11 and given a kick up the arse. The Nashville singer is backed by a host of instruments, including banjos, fiddles and upright bass, and writes cinematic and sometimes autobiographical songs that will have you hollering along in no time. Like his debut ‘Outlaw Carnie’, this second album is a raucous release that fans of the likes of Hank III, Zeke or Johnny Cash should drink down easy. Highlights include ‘A Pistol And A 100 Dollar Bill’ and the rousing title track opener. Punk as fuck and not interested in playing it safe – this guy is the real deal. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. 
John Damon

BRIAN JAMES GRAND CRU

CHATEAU BRIAN
(Easy Action)
Former Damned guitarist goes acoustic.
8/10

You’ve possibly never heard Brian James sound like this before. Gone are James’ trademark high-energy punk rock electric guitar licks only to be replaced by a collection of mostly tender and heartfelt acoustic numbers, but he wears it well… really well. With just an acoustic guitar, piano and accordion between them, the depth and range of musical emotions achieved by James and Mark Taylor is broad, and ‘Crawlin’ My Way Back Home’ is particularly atmospheric. James’ vocals lend themselves well to the blues guitar workouts and roots tunes, and with his Caribbean lilt there’s a distinct calypso feel to ‘Mango’. ‘Chateau Brian’ then is a high grade collection of great acoustic numbers, it may not be Damned good, but it’s still good nevertheless. Give it a listen.
Rich Deakin

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN
WRECKING BALL
(Columbia)
The Boss addresses the financial crisis on seventeenth studio album.
8/10

Springsteen has said that “[this album is an] indictment of Wall Street greed and corruption and a look into the devastation it has wrought”, and it’s an album full of stories of economic struggle that only he can do justice to. From the patriotism meets disgust at the government of opener ‘We Take Care Of Our Own’ (think ‘Born In The USA’) to the Giants Stadium tribute/defiant anthem of the title track, the Celtic folk-infused rock of ‘Death To My Hometown’ and the gospel flavoured ‘Rocky Ground’, featuring a brief rap from Michelle Moore, this album’s the true definition of “a grower” and rewards you with more every listen. A critique of a country on its knees, it ends with the hopeful campfire song of ‘We Are Alive’, urging people to battle through hard times. There’s a reason they call him The Boss.
Ian Chaddock

CARDINAL 
HYMNS
(Fire)
’90s epic pop duo return with comeback album.

6/10

A historical curio, Cardinal’s debut dating from 1994 paired Eric Matthews (noted solo artist and producer of the Dandy Warhols, Elliott Smith and others) with Australian Richard Davies (solo, ex-Moles). It won fervent acclaim from the likes of the Flaming Lips (and even suggested new genre definitions; orch-pop and chamber-pop amongst them, before everyone wised up and moved on). This unexpected reunion pursues a similar musical leitmotif; harmonic flourishes and warm, undemonstrative brass overlay low-fi songcraft. It doesn’t sound revolutionary in any sense, but it has charm in abundance if you can get past its wistful insouciance. It thus works enchantingly on the Kinksy ‘I Am A Roman Gypsy’ or the ‘Carbolic Smoke Ball’ (one of several tracks redolent of Sergeant Pepper), but less well elsewhere, notably ‘General Hospital’, where the effect can be a little too winsome and self-conscious. 
Alex Ogg

DOWNTOWN STRUTS
VICTORIA!

(Pirates Press)

Uplifting melodic punk ‘n’ roll from Chicago. 

8/10

Having their praises sung by the likes of Face To Face’s Trever Keith and Street Dogs’ Mike McColgan, it’s easy to see why punk veterans are getting excited about this new band’s debut full-length ‘Victoria!’ Bursting with positivity and indie punk energy, with nods to the greats whilst still sounding fresh and modern (no small feat), tracks such as the incredibly infectious ‘Postcards’, rousing ‘Back to N.Y.’ and the driving ‘Tim’ and ‘Lost In America’ are drenched in melody and well-placed backing vocals, all creating upbeat sing-alongs that will embed themselves in your consciousness. Fans of the likes of the Bouncing Souls, the Menzingers and the Replacements should definitely give this a go. No wonder they’re strutting, they’re just getting started so imagine what the next record could sound like.
Ian Chaddock

THE DYNAMITE PUSSY CLUB
CHURCH OF YEAH!
(Motorsounds)
Maximum fuzz and a little bit of soul.
8/10

From the ashes of West Country garage rockers Rusty Springfield comes a new kind of kick in the shape of The Dynamite Pussy Club. When their bassist called it quits, the remaining duo decided to do down the original Cramps route by doing away with the bass altogether, recruiting another guitarist and doubling up on fuzz guitar. Introducing Detroit influences and some spooky Theremin into the mix, they’ve come up with a far groovier product than their previous incarnation. ‘Testify’ sounds like Mudhoney jamming with James Brown, while ‘Get With It’ and ‘Under the Groove’ give Jon Spencer a run for his money. Finally ‘Boogie Shoes’ climaxes like Therapy?’s ‘Teeth Grinder’ given a garage makeover. If you’re into King Kahn and the Shrines, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion or Kid Congo’s Pink Monkey Birds this’ll really float your boat.
Lee Cotterell

THE ENEMY

STREETS IN THE SKY

(Cooking Vinyl)

Coventry indie rockers soar with harder edged third album.
9/10

You couldn’t really see it coming that swaggering Brit rock types The Enemy, who enjoyed chart success with their Album Chart topping 2007 debut ‘We’ll Live and Die in These Towns’ and number two peaking follow-up, 2009’s ‘Music for the People’, would team up with Joby Ford of LA hardcore punks The Bronx as producer for their third record. But that’s exactly what happened and an album with a live-sounding, harder biting approach is unsurprisingly the result. Coming on like Oasis or Kasabian but with the balls of guitar-driven Britrock in the vein of Feeder at their most driving, it’s good that the swagger has muscle behind it. Highlights include boisterous first single ‘Gimme The Sign’, the punchy, upbeat anthem ‘Saturday’ and the suitably titled ‘Get Up And Dance’ all sound massive. Refreshed and renewed, watch them fly (again). 
Kelly Oliver

GALLON DRUNK 

THE ROAD GETS DARKER FROM HERE

(Clouds Hill)

Ferocious new sounds from the ‘Drunk.
8/10


The first new material under the Gallon Drunk banner from James Johnston and company in some years, ‘The Road Gets Darker From Here’ is a concise eight tracks, conceived during intensive sessions at Hamburg’s renowned Clouds Hill studio. From opener ‘You Made Me’, the ‘Drunk are back in business, rattling at the bars with raw savagery on ‘Hanging On’ and ‘A Thousand Years’, the latter replete with Stoogey saxophone squawks. Underground Railroad’s vocalist Marion Andrau adds a note of delicacy to the yearning ‘Stuck In My Head’, in contrast to the all-out dissonance of ‘Killing Time’ or the reeking grindhouse thrust of ‘Just Can’t Help But Stare’. Closing in style with the mesmeric pulse of ‘The Perfect Dancer’, this album captures the kinetic surge of Gallon Drunk at their snarling best.
Hugh Gulland

GRAHAM COXON
A + E

(Parlophone)
Blur guitarist and art/rock outsider with urgent eighth solo album. 

7/10


Speeding along with healthy doses of his buzz-saw guitar trademark and interspersed with shades of Krautrock, psychedelic undertones and the left-field spectrum of punk, this ten track outing oozes confidence and quirky introspection, rarely stalling or losing direction. Whilst opening track ‘Advice’ sets the pace well, second track, ‘City Hall’ feels a little out of place so early on but the loss of momentum is quickly regained with the rest of the album. Stand out tracks are ‘Advice’, ‘Running For Your Life’ (a dig at pop culture bullies) and ‘Ohh, Yeh, Yeh’. ‘A + E’ is a confident and multi-layered set proving that, with or without Blur, the world needs the talents of one of today’s most inventive and unique artists.
Tony Beesley



HAWKWIND
ONWARD
(Eastworld)
Space rock legends return with typically sprawling 25th album.
8/10

“Revealing ancient prophecies, aligning constellations, urban violence and touchy feely robots”. Only on a Hawkwind press release would you read a statement like that and actually agree with it. With their latest album Hawkwind don’t hold back, with a double-disc, 17 track epic that veers from driving classic rock (‘The Hills Have Ears’) to acoustic ballads (‘Mind Cut’) before switching it up with an energetic space punk attack (‘Death Trap’) and a blissed out dance track that’s sounds like a song that would be playing as you look at the Earth from a spaceship (‘The Prophecy’). And all that’s just the first disc. In the hands of lesser musicians this would all sound disjointed and forced but these seasoned veterans make these unlikely combinations gel and ebb and flow over an album that’s almost as huge and unlimited as space itself. 
Duncan Finn



HILLBILLY MOON EXPLOSION
RAW DEAL

(Jungle)
Anglo-Swiss-Italian rockabilly heroes’ collection drawing from three albums. 

9/10

Based in Zurich and with a truly European line-up, Hillbilly Moon Explosion are influenced by a range of rock and pop – distilled into their retro-looking rockabilly, with the mesmerising male/female vocals of slap bassist Oliver Baroni and Emanuela Hutter. Compiling fourteen of their finest songs from their first three albums – their fourth album ‘Buy Beg Or Steal’ was issued last year on Goldtop – this retrospective brings you up to date with one of the most exciting bands in the genre right now. From the energetic opener ‘Maniac Lover’ to the unspeakably cool ‘Chick Habit’, the humorous ‘Johnny Are You Gay?’ and the aptly titled ‘Clarksdale Boogie’, this compilation shows exactly why they’ll be playing the Jazz Cafe and Rebellion festival in the same week.
Kelly Oliver

HOLLIE COOK

PRINCE FATTY PRESENTS: HOLLIE COOK IN DUB
(Mr Bongo)

Sex Pistol’s daughter’s reggae debut gets reworked.
7/10

The great thing about modern reggae style music is that it’s derived from a number of different genres and from a range of different cultures. A coming together of all cultures creating a beautiful blend of richly original music. The epitome of that originality is ‘Prince Fatty Presents: Hollie Cook in Dub’, Prince Fatty’s hypnotic reworking of Cook’s debut album. Fatty manipulates and reshapes Cook’s original recordings and cover versions in an utterly compelling way: weaving mellow reggae grooves and melodic bass lines around Hollie’s sun-kissed vocals. Songs like ‘Milk and Honey Dub’ and ‘That Very Night Dub’, fuse dub elements, roots reggae and jazz, while others, including a cover of the Andrew Sister’s classic ‘And The Beat Goes’, get ska makeovers. This is the perfect summertime record: the ideal soundtrack for drinking rum and coke under a swaying palm tree.
Scott Zverblis

HUDSON FALCONS
DANCING UNDERNEATH THE MOONLIGHT
(I Hate People)
New Jersey roots punk rockers.
6/10

Any fans of the likes of The Gaslight Anthem, the Replacements and the Ramones could do with giving Jersey veterans the Hudson Falcons’ latest album a listen. Fronted by Mark Linskey, there’s soul and passion to these driving anthems, evident on the likes of the rousing ‘Don’t Let the Bastards Get You Down’, the piano-driven, Springsteen loving ‘Everything’s Alright’ and the acoustic road song ‘Interstate Bound’. It’s a sound that’s being done a lot lately and, to be fair, better by others. However, the ‘Falcons definitely mean it and, after ten years together, are still playing with their hearts on their sleeves and a refreshing honesty in their down-to-earth lyrics. File under ‘Boss punk/rock’ and let ‘Dancing Under The Moonlight’ blast out of your car windows on a warm summer’s night.
Kelly Oliver

JACK WHITE
BLUNDERBUSS

(XL)

Raconteurs/The Dead Weather frontman aims for a solo career.
7/10

Produced by Jack White and recorded at his own Third Man Studio in Nashville, the ex-White Stripe and current vocalist of The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather has finally gone it alone with ‘Blunderbuss’, describing it as “my own colours on my own canvas”. He’s always been somewhat of an enigma – for every great garage rock song there’s a story about him doing something truly strange, like working with the Insane Clown Posse or Tom Jones. The blues rock and power pop of ‘Blunderbuss’ is as strange as you’d expect, it’s an angry and disillusioned recently divorced White who accuses evil women of causing all his problems, pretty much, on the likes of first single ‘Love Interruption’, ‘Freedom At 21’ and ‘Trash Tongue Talker’. Oddly though, his ex-wife Karen Elson performs plenty of backing vocals. Another weird but mesmerising White release? You bet.
Kelly Oliver

KING HAMMOND 

DANCING IN THE GARDEN OF EVIL 

(King Hammond)
Dark reggae and more from the prolific King.
6/10

Nick Welsh has a longer track record in ska/reggae than most people, having been a member of both Bad Manners and the Selecter in the late ’80s/early ’90s as well as his own Skaville UK. Two years ago he brought back one of his first musical projects, King Hammond, and ‘Dancing in the Garden of Evil’ is, believe it or not, the fourth album he’s released since then. Whilst its core is in reggae, ‘Dancing…’ sees King Hammond explore different territories, some of which resemble the Alabama 3’s darker side, especially on the title track, and ’70s new wave on ‘Fuck Arts Lets Dance’. Its mix of styles are all held together with some decent songwriting, which makes ‘Dancing…’, only available from the King Hammond website, an album worth a second look.
Andy Peart

LEE BAINS III AND THE GLORY FIRES
THERE IS A BOMB IN GILEAD
(Alive)
Former garage rocker evokes the sound of Mussel Shoals.
7/10

Lee Bains III is a veteran of cult Alabama garage rockers The Dexateens and now fronts the much mellower The Glory Fires, having swapped the buzzsaw guitars for southern-fried Americana in a Lynyrd Skynyrd/Allman Brothers vein. Fittingly, this album has one foot in the Mississippi and the other in the garage stronghold of Detroit, having been recorded in the former and mixed in the latter. Anthemic country-tinged songs abound, with pedal steel aplenty, but there are some nifty lyrical nods to his punkier roots, like “You can keep that t-shirt my brother got that time he saw the Ramones” (‘Everything You Took From Me’). With its melancholy piano intro, the title track closes the album with traces of gospel and Neil Young. One for fans of the Drive By Truckers/Jason and The Scorchers.
Lee Cotterell

THE LEVELLERS
STATIC ON THE AIRWAVES
(On The Fiddle)
A real return to form by the punk-folk institution.
9/10

With their new album recorded in the Czech Republic, there was patently something in the Czech air (or beer!) that brought out the very best in The Levellers. ‘Static On The Airwaves’ truly deserves the accolade of a return to form. It’s a confident and staggeringly effective album that finds the band revitalised, vocalist Mark Chadwick imposing a new authority, especially on the chilling ‘Our Forgotten Towns’, the boisterous ‘Raft Of The Medusa’ and the historical ballad ‘Mutiny’, where the poignancy in his vocal is thinly disguised. The whole band gels particularly well throughout, and they save possibly the best for last in a rip-roaring and timely reworking and rewrite of old anti-war ballad ‘Twa Recruitin’ Sergeants’ (‘The Recruiting Sergeant’), which is destined to become a live favourite.
Sean McGhee

LONDON

REBOOT
(Bin Liner)

Three and a half decades later, the London punks return.
6/10

London, the underground punk act from Britain’s second wave, reunites after 34 years with half of its first-album line-up intact; Riff Regan (vocals) and Steve Voice (bass). Hugh O’Donnell (guitar) and Colin Watterston (drums) fill in the gaps. You have to wonder what would inspire 50-year-old blokes to dust off their instruments and shout about the world’s problems like nothing had changed since ’78. Nevertheless, things come off pretty well for the band, who were once managed by legendary music manager Simon Robert Napier-Bell, and it’s amazing to think that, even after all these years apart, the band can record a fairly decent album. However, knowing the current climate of the music charts – saturated with guys with laptops – ‘Reboot’ may not get the amount of record sales that it deserves, which is a real shame.
Scott Zverblis

THE MEMBERS 

IN_GRR_LAND 

(AngloCentric) 

Re-Member ‘Sound of the Suburbs’?

6/10

‘IN_GRR_LAND’ is the fourth studio album from punk/reggae band The Members, famed for 1979 single ‘Sound of the Suburbs’. Produced by Human League engineer and Cure producer David M. Allen, it features original members JC Carroll, Chris Payne and Nigel Bennett (also of Vibrators fame) with former Damned drummer Rat Scabies on four of the twelve tracks. The album is a basic ’70s punk style with moments of grunge and the odd spot of Celtic influence, as on the track ‘Remember us’, but nothing here particularly breaks new ground. The opening track is the anthemic ‘New English Blues Part 2’ and Chris Payne belts out a cover of the Move’s ‘Fire Brigade’ with an Eddie Cochrane/Ramones vibe. ‘IN_GRR_LAND’ certainly has the courage of its convictions to be exactly what it is: a brazen self-styled punk throwback. 
Mark Ottowell



OFF! 

OFF! 

(Vice) 

Debut full-length from the Californian hardcore punk supergroup.

9/10

Following on from their explosive EP boxset from 2010 is another sixteen tracks of Californian punk rock brilliance from former Black Flag/Circle Jerks frontman Keith Morris and his merry men, OFF! This blistering next instalment clocks in at just under sixteen minutes and is about as raw and pissed off as hardcore punk gets, with Morris snarling at the helm from start to finish. From the sneering vitriol of ‘I’ve Got News For You’ to the lesson learned of ‘Feelings Are Meant To Be Hurt’, OFF! repeatedly slap you in the face with an angry wake-up call. Sometimes the brief nature of the tracks doesn’t allow them to develop but, that said, OFF! aren’t here to win scene points, in fact they spit on the rule book and shit all over their contemporaries from a great height. Long may they reign!
Miles Hackett

THE POPES
NEW CHURCH

(Shake The Tree)
Former Shane MacGowan fronted band release fourth full-length. Praise be!
9/10

Originally formed in 1994 by Shane MacGowan when he left the Pogues, he recorded two studio albums and a live album with the Popes before they parted ways. ‘New Church’, the band’s latest album with vocalist/guitarist Paul ‘Mad Dog’ McGuinness is a rabble-rousing sing-along from start to finish. The likes of the driving opener ‘Storming Heaven’ and Celtic ‘How Many Bullets’ show they mean business, while the catchy, upbeat ‘Alice’ and ‘Throw Down Your Aces’, the latter featuring a guest spot from Howard Marks, shows they’re having a hell of a lot of fun. McGuinness’ harsh vocals combines with the rhythm section and fiddle playing to make this the perfect drinking soundtrack. As Irish as Guinness, The Popes have released one of their tastiest efforts yet with ‘New Church’.
Duncan Finn

THE PRIMITIVES 

ECHOES AND RHYMES 
(Elefant)
Welcome return from Coventry’s perfect pop heroes.
8/10

It’s been a fair while since the Primitives’ short, sharp pop songs brightened up the charts. However, twenty odd years on ‘Echoes and Rhymes’ finds them back with an album of fairly obscure cover versions mainly from the ’60s, all originally sung by female singers such as Nico and Dana Gillespie. The tracks were no doubt handpicked by guitarist Paul Court whose love of the genre is well documented. From Adam and Eve’s weighty ‘The Witch’ to Reparta and the Delron’s sprightly ‘Panic’, it sounds as if the reunited Primitives are having a lot of fun and Tracy Tracy’s vocals remain untouched by time. Court draws parallels with Dutch band Shocking Blue, also covered, in the sleeve notes because they “had a few other good tunes besides the one big hit they’re mainly remembered for”, though the Primitives had more than just a ‘few’. Good to have them back.
Andy Peart

THE RADIATORS
FROM SPACE
SOUND CITY BEAT
(Chiswick/Ace)
Cover their influences.
7/10

The Radiators From Space were there right at the beginning of punk hitting the top 20 of the charts in their native Ireland. The band shone brightly but briefly but left a couple of albums and a handful of singles still revered today. This is their fourth album (the third seeing the light of day in 2007 after a quarter of a century hiatus) and is a collection of songs that generally predate punk. Those songs have been carefully chosen and reflect a sometimes wistful lyrical look back at those good old days whilst oozing a feel-good vibe. The feel is maybe too laid back in places, sometimes maybe chilling too much to easy listening, but that is it exactly. 18 tracks and 54 minutes of personal nostalgia by a band going right back to their roots rather than to their old selves.
Simon Nott

RADIO MOSCOW
3 AND 3 QUARTERS
(Alive)
Iowan psychedelic blues rocker’s unreleased debut album.
7/10

The fourth release from Radio Moscow, this actually predates their three albums as it’s the previously unreleased debut that multi-instrumentalist Parker Griggs recorded by himself when he was 17/18. At the time Griggs recalls that he was in a high school punk/hardcore band but was disillusioned with it and recorded it as soon as they cancelled a tour halfway through. Influenced at the time by the likes of the Nuggets, the Seeds and Chocolate Watchband, amongst others, this is raw, basement-recorded garage/blues rock that shows the roots of where Radio Moscow would go from here as a full band. The likes of the blazing opener ‘You’re Doing It To Me’, the suitably titled, menacing ‘We’re All Troubled’ and the raucous ‘The Stomp!’ are simple but powerful slices of rock ‘n’ roll chaos. Great stuff – a thrilling blast from the past. 
Kelly Oliver

RAT CITY RIOT
BETTER THAN NOTHING
(I Hate People)
Gritty “street rock” from San Diego.

7/10


Celebrating their ten year anniversary this year and supporting Rancid in Germany, these raucous, raw-vocalled punk-infused rockers go straight for the throat. With high-energy anthems such as ‘Better Than Nothing’ full of driving rhythms and fist-in-the-air gang vocals, their sound is broader than most street punk bands, hence the “street rock” tag. Their sound isn’t particularly groundbreaking but it is good to hear a band that have almost as much polish as spit, resulting in shining stompers such as ‘Long Run’ and ‘Foot To The Floor’. A raw cover of Fugazi’s ‘Waiting Room’ is ill-advised though. Clearly reinvigorated and hungry again with their new line-up, Rat City Riot are well worth your time and ‘Better Than Nothing’ certainly doesn’t live up to its name, sure to get you singing along in no time. Well worth checking out.
Duncan Finn

THE REAL McKENZIES
WESTWINDS

(Fat Wreck)
Canadian Celt punks whip up a storm.
6/10

Vancouver’s Real McKenzies use their Canadian and Scottish heritage to create a Celtic influenced sound in much the same way The Dropkick Murphys explored their Boston/Irish roots. However, anyone accusing them of jumping on the Celt punk bandwagon deserves short shrift as the Real McKenzies have been plying their trade for no less than twenty years and had members of the Descendents, Avail and Good Riddance pass through their ranks over the years. While their latest studio album, the first album of new material since 2008’s ‘Off The Leash’, is no radical departure from its predecessors, it’s chock full of enough stirring, bagpipe-driven anthems like ‘The Tempest’, ‘Fool’s Road’ and ‘Barrett’s Privateers’ to keep the fans happy. They’re also far better than most of the bands they predate so getting taking notes, ya scurvy sea dogs!
Lee Cotterell

RICHARD HAWLEY
STANDING AT THE SKY’S EDGE
(EMI)
Hawley goes stellar sonic.
8/10

To call this album simply atmospheric would do it a colossal disservice, in that respect it is stellar, it was recorded in Sheffield but sounds intergalactic. That language may sound a bit too ‘Star Trek’ but the intention of the album was to be a sonic assault on the senses and that is exactly what it is, whilst made up of a more traditional stripped down rock band line-up of drum, bass and guitars. You never quite know where you are as heartfelt lyrics and swirling guitar notes suddenly swirl in a cacophony of solo riffage and rocket noises and back again. Were LSD still all the rage this would be the perfect soundtrack to good trips being pulled back from the brink from bad ones in a guitar-driven aural adventure.
Simon Nott

STEVE SWINDELLS
THE LOST ALBUMS: THE INVISIBLE MAN / TREACHERY
(Flicknife)
Lost albums finally see the light for the first time in over 30 years.
5/10 / 7/10

Consisting of two sessions of demo recordings from 1980 that were ostensibly made as potential follow-ups to Swindells’ first solo album ‘Fresh Blood’, ‘Lost Albums’ is a bit of a mixed bag. ‘Invisible Man’ is typical early ’80s FM-lite rock – it’s high on emotions, but not nearly reminiscent of Hawkwind, for whom Swindells had previously been keyboardist. It does have its moments though, and Swindells sounds remarkably like Elvis Costello on the poppy ‘Dancin’ Shoes’. ‘Treachery’ is the more preferable of the two ‘Lost Albums’, sounding altogether more in tune with new wave, with echoes of Costello again at times, whilst ‘Love Propaganda’ is a skanking white reggae rocker. It has a heavier edge to it too, and ‘I Wanna Be Wild’ follows an exuberant Springsteen-esque template. Featuring Big Country’s rhythm session, and Pete Townshend’s brother Simon on guitar, ‘Treachery’ is also more musically rounded and accomplished.
Rich Deakin

THE TERRACES

THE TERRACES
(Blast)
English/Australian punk rockers unleash strutting debut.
7/10

Formerly founding One Way System in England, who would be the first band to sign to Cherry Red’s Anagram label and enjoy chart success in the ’80s in the UK and Europe, Gary Buckley has now moved to Melbourne and got together a new band of old school punks. From the band name and the chants of “United! United!” at the end of suitably titled opener ‘The Internationals’, there’s certainly an oi! influence. However, the reggae-influenced punk stomp of ‘Care About Nothing’ and the raucous ‘Union’ show this four-piece have got a few tricks up their sleeves. However, for better or worse, it’s mostly stripped back, simple and punchy – see the football-referencing ’25 Years’ and the self-explanatory ‘The Hustler’. The aggression is matched with melody throughout though, making this an enjoyable listen to sing along to with a fist in the air.
Duncan Finn

THE TOY DOLLS
THE ALBUM AFTER THE LAST ONE
(Secret)
Super-sharp veteran UK pop punks are back again, tongues in cheeks.
7/10

Sunderland’s Toy Dolls released their first single, ‘Tommy Kowey’s Car’, in 1980 and from the start they crafted a unique style of fast but bouncy punk tunes, with highly comical lyrics about soaps and mates. Olga’s distinctive, high-pitched vocals and dazzling guitar skills helped them score a massive hit with their fun cover of ‘Nellie The Elephant’ going to No.4 on the chart in 1984. This blistering new album finds the band getting topical with ‘Credit Crunch Christmas’ and re-visiting Corrie on ‘Molly Was Immoral’, but ‘Decca’s Drinkin’ Dilemma’, about the former Upstarts drummer, is a bit of a downer. However, overall it’s the Toy Dolls back doing exactly what they do best. There are also three bonus Olga acoustic tracks, including old favourite ‘Fiery Jack’.
Shane Baldwin

VARIOUS ARTISTS

THE JOURNEY IS LONG – THE JEFFREY LEE PIERCE SESSIONS PROJECT
(Glitterhouse)

An excavation of the Gun Club man’s unrecorded works.

7/10

For the sequel to 2008’s ‘We Are Only Riders’, a formidable troupe of the late Gun Club frontman’s admirers and collaborators has again gathered to breathe life into the archive of rough demos and unfinished works preserved by project coordinator Cypress Grove. With the exception of the 1987 single ‘Breaking Hands’ – captivatingly rendered here by Nick Cave and Debbie Harry – these are previously unheard songs. Since his death in 1996, Jeffrey’s talents have reaped far wider recognition than during his lifetime, and over the eighteen tracks here the quality of his songwriting is reconfirmed. With sterling contributions from a cast list including Steve Wynn, Lydia Lunch, Thalia Zedek, Barry Adamson and Mick Harvey, Jeffrey’s unique vision of ‘surrealism and blues’ is respectfully handled. 
Hugh Gulland

REISSUES

BAD BRAINS
RISE
(4Worlds)

Confused funk rock fifth album with members missing from 1993.
3/10

Bad Brains’ groundbreaking 1982 self-titled album, its 1983 follow-up ‘Rock For Light’ and 1986’s ‘I Against I’ were all landmark hardcore punk albums, the first two infusing reggae into the sound as well. However, 1993’s ‘Rise’ was a disaster. It was the first album from the Washington DC band on a major label. More importantly, and bizarrely, it didn’t feature iconic frontman H.R. or his brother Earl, instead replaced by vocalist Israel Joseph I on vocals and drummer Mackie Jayson (Cro-Mags). The result is one of the weaker records in the band’s back catalogue, with a sound that brings to mind the funk/rap rock of Living Colour and Red Hot Chilli Peppers. The opening title track and the aptly titled ‘Unidentified’ show the problems, while the reggae of ‘Love is the Answer’ is pretty bland too. Sadly ‘Rise’ fails to stand up to the test of time.
Ian Chaddock

BOB MARLEY & THE WAILERS
THE COMPLETE UPSETTER SINGLES: 1970 – 1972 (PLUS DUBS)
(Northworld)
Reggae legend’s early career’s 18 singles (and dub versions) compiled.
7/10

Cut pre-world stardom, and doubtless released to coincide with the current retrospective film treatment of Jamaica’s most beloved son, these recordings, with none-more-maverick producer Lee Scatch Perry, did much to cement the modern conventions of reggae (mystical, philosophical, moving away from its earlier ska and rocksteady incarnations). These suffrah’s anthems, including ‘Duppy Conqueror’, ‘Small Axe’ and ‘African Herbsman’, have all been well-thumbed in a million compilations, of course, but at least there’s some chronological sense here. The annotation also reminds you of how much at this stage the Wailers (alongside Perry, and his Upsetters) were a team effort, with Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh a vital part of the creative axiom. For evidence, try the Irie Scooby Doo ghost story of ‘Mr Brown’ or check out its dub companion, ‘Dracula’, on the bonus CD.
Alex Ogg

BUNNY MARRETT
I’M FREE
(Bristol Archive)
Timeless music for reggae/jazz lovers from influential Bristol figure.
7/10

Being shamefully neglected in the music business for more than twenty five years (with only a 12” with two tracks properly released back in 1981), reggae artist Bunny Marrett re-releases his 1986 recorded album ‘I’m Free’ and offers a Bob Marley-esque fusion of reggae and jazz that still sounds fresh today. Thanks to smooth percussions and a light-footed bass, as in the track ‘Times Are Geeting Harder’, this eight-track album offers you a joyous blend of American, English and Jamaican music styles. Accompanied by legendary Bristol band The Startled Insects, the fusion sounds on ‘I’m Free’, highlighted by song titles like ‘Jazzy Reggae’, ‘Jazzy Reggae Dub’ and ‘Hard Times Dub’. So, if you want to escape from the cold English weather you should give this album a go – it might elicit the sun in rainy London as well. 
Laura Reinberger



CRASS
TEN NOTES ON A SUMMER’S DAY – THE SWANSONG
(Crass)
The Crassical Collection reaches its climax with an atonal musical trip from the anarcho-punk architects.
5/10

While having released intricate classic albums such as ‘The Feeding of the 5,000’ and ‘Stations of the Crass’ the band decides to end their recording career with a rather obscure musical adventure. Basically what we’re facing is a track clocking around 10 minutes consisting of different parts – much like Green Day’s latter rock operas. Only this case it is atonal European avant garde inspired cacophony incorporating drum machines and choir built around some free form jazz piano plinking and plonking. Then when we get through that we get to hear it all again in its instrumental glory. At least this 1985 release made sure that Crass went out on their own terms and did not just conform to the rigid punk formula.
Jyrki “Spider” Hamalainen


FIREHOSE
LOWFLOWS: THE COLUMBIA ANTHOLOGY (’91-’93) / FLYIN’ THE FLANNEL & MR MACHINERY OPERATOR
(Columbia / Eastworld)
Former Minutemen’s following band’s final two albums.
8/10 / 7/10

Released soon after the announcement of the fIREHOSE reunion tour, ‘lowFLOWs’ compiles all the recordings during the band’s time on Columbia Records (and coincidentally the last few years they were together), while Eastworld reissues both the album separately around the same time. Unlike the legions of ‘80s alt and college rock bands that jumped onto a major label in the wake of ‘Nevermind’’s success, fIREHOSE were able to join Columbia’s roster months before there was any pressure to capitalize on grunge’s success. Consequently, the first of the two studio albums featured here, 1991’s ‘Flyin’ The Flannel,’ is as defiantly independent as their records for SST, while 1993’s ‘Mr. Machinery Operator,’ on the other hand, is much more uneven, feeling like a reaction to the burgeoning alt movement. Highly recommended to those who have overlooked this portion of the band’s lifetime.
Chris Kopcow

HANSON BROTHERS
SUDDEN DEATH
(Wrong Records)
Ice hockey loving Canadians’ glory days revisited.
7/10

Not to be confused with the squeaky-clean siblings of ‘Mmm Bop’ fame, Vancouver’s Hanson Brothers, like their heroes the Ramones, feature no family members of that name. They are in fact the alter ego of John and Rob Wright and Tom Holliston of long-lasting punks Nomeansno. The name, since you asked, is in homage to the classic ’70s hockey flick ‘Slap Shot’. Probably sole purveyors of “puck rock”, hockey-themed tunes are easy to spot on this reissue of their ’96 sophomore album: ‘The Hockey Song’, ‘Stick Man’, ‘Rink Rat’ and ‘Danielle (She Don’t Care About Hockey)’ to name but four. There are probably some more subtle ones too. The music, however, is far from subtle, with lively breakneck buzzsaw punk the order of the day, nodding towards thrash metal on ‘Third Man In’.
Gerry Ranson



THE HUMAN LEAGUE

DARE

(Virgin)
Sheffield legends celebrate their 35th anniversary with an expanded edition of a new wave classic.

6/10


It may have been reissued a few times now but The Human League’s huge, chart topping 1981 album ‘Dare’ is still a new wave/synth pop classic. And this being their 35 year anniversary, they’ve decided to reissue the album again, with songs such as the massive single ‘Don’t You Want Me’, opener ‘The Things That Dreams Are Made Of’ and ‘Open Your Heart’ still as infectious as ever. This double-disc expanded edition, with the 2002 remaster of the original album added to by the newly remastered 12-inch remixes and instrumental versions on the first disc, and nearly all of the band’s 1983 ‘Fascination!’ EP on the second disc. These are all bells and whistles though as it’s the album itself that makes this worth picking up, if somehow you haven’t already. Catch the band’s 35th anniversary tour in November/December.
Kelly Oliver


JOHNNY CASH
BOOTLEG VOL. IV: THE SOUL OF TRUTH
(Sony/Legacy)
The man in black’s spiritual songs on a double-disc collection.
6/10


Although he’s known as a pioneering icon of hell-raising rebel country, Johnny Cash was a very religious man and a devoted Christian – something that was evident in a lot of his music throughout his career. This latest bootleg release features songs from the ’70s/’80s, including his 1979 ‘A Believer Sings The Truth’ and out-of-print 1982 ‘Johnny Cash – Gospel Singer’ albums. Featuring no less than 51 tracks over two discs, this compilation of released and unreleased material comprises of “the source of his vision”, according to son John R. Cash – gospel music. It’s good but it’s worlds away from the likes of ‘Man In Black’ and ‘Cocaine Blues’, which is where Cash is at his best for me. A true blessing for Cash completists though. 
Ian Chaddock

JOHNNY MOPED
THE JOHNNY MOPED BOOTLEG TAPES VOLUMES 1 & 2

(Damaged Goods)

Possibly certifiable Croydon punk/rock god.

7/10

Johnny Moped, or Paul Halford to his mother, was a genuine 24 carat nutcase, even in the same pre-punk Croydon scene that threw up the likes of Ray ‘Captain Sensible’ Burns, his guitarist in the early days, which is surely saying something. He rose to fame, of sorts, when the classic ‘Hard Lovin’ Man’ was included on the equally classic ‘Live At The Roxy’ compilation, after which the band signed to Chiswick. Before that, though, Moped and chums recorded hours of bedroom/garden tapes, which were later compiled, with some live material, into two ‘official’ bootleg tapes. Moped’s rambling spoken word ‘links’ are amusing, as is a 1977 phone message from Sensible boosting the great man, but believe it or not, there’s also some fine punk, rock, psychedelia and even funk among all the weirdness.
Shane Baldwin



MUDDY WATERS BLUES BAND
MUD IN YOUR EAR
(Wienerworld)
Ragged and passionate full-blooded blues from Waters’ band.
8/10

Released here for the first time on CD, this 1969 album (recorded in ’67) was the result of producer Alan Douglas (before his historical alliance with Jimi Hendrix) approaching Muddy Waters about making an album. Muddy couldn’t do so because of contractual commitments to Chess, but instead suggested Douglas recorded his band, fronted by singer/guitarist Luther ‘Snake’ Johnson, instead. Snake was from Georgia and had played with the likes of Howlin’ Wolf and Junior Wells before joing Waters’ band. The result of the collaboration is a raw and powerful Chicago blues sound that was loose and passionate, on highlights such as ‘Long Distance Call’ and ‘I’m So Glad’. Waters may not have been able to sing but he did provide backing guitars and a few solos. More like pure joy in your ear than mud.
Ian Chaddock

MY BLOODY VALENTINE
ISN’T ANYTHING/LOVELESS/EPS 1988-1991
(Sony)
MBV lynchpin remasters classics with mixed results.
4/10

Since they first announced themselves in 1983 in a blizzard of noise pop, My Bloody Valentine have astounded and frustrated in equal measure. For every story of how ‘Loveless’ reinvigorated the UK indie rock scene upon its 1991 release, there’s another of how much of a headache band leader Kevin Shields was (Creation Records head Alan McGee, who released ‘Loveless’, famously had a massive falling out with Shields, essentially disowning ‘Loveless’ for a time. He’s since come around). Not a man to do things by half measures and unbending when it comes to working until he feels something’s finished, Shields has been remastering ‘Isn’t Anything’ and ‘Loveless’ in one form or
another of years (they were originally due out in June 2008). Now, four years later, they’re finally here, along with a compilation of the EPs.
Undeniable classics in their own right, this is a needless exercise – and that’s coming from a fan.
James Sharples

REVELATION ROCKERS
JAH PRAISES
(Bristol Archive)
Recorded in 1979 and lost in the archives, the band that would become Talisman have a proper release.
8/10

A time capsule to 1979, this entire recorded legacy of Bristol’s Revelation Rockers, on a vinyl only release as it would have been back in the day, is the first proper release of the band before they became Talisman. ‘Jah Praises’ is an insight into ’70s Britain suffering from racism, massive unemployment, industrial unrest and poverty. It’s scary how relevant it all is in 2012. With the likes of ‘Culture’, mourning the loss of cultural identity due to the legacy of slavery, ‘Wicked Dem’ – a song that would become a popular Talisman track but is here in its raw form – and closer ‘When You’re Away’, complete with horns. Thankfully this “lost” roots reggae album has been unearthed because it’s a diamond.
Duncan Finn 



SIGUE SIGUE SPUTNIK
DRESS FOR EXCESS

(Eastworld)

British new wave/glam punk “fantasy band” 1988 second album gets another go.

7/10

Formed by former Generation X bassist Tony James as a “fantasy band”, Sigue Sigue Sputnik enjoyed success from their first release. While 1986 debut album ‘Flaunt It’ produced hit singles ‘Love Missile F1-11′ and ’21st Century Boy’, as well as peaking at number 10 on the UK Album Chart, the London new wave band’s 1988 follow-up fared less well. There are still some great, punchy tunes here, such as ‘Albinoni vs Star Wars (Parts 1 & 2)’ and ‘Boom Boom Satellite’, it lacked the infectious sound of the debut and failed to capture people’s imaginations like their debut’s ads in-between songs. They may have been just a fun band for James before he joined the far darker The Sisters Of Mercy (and much later Carbon/Silicon with The Clash’s Mick Jones), but their music never took itself seriously, and was a blast because of that.
Kelly Oliver


SOUTHERN CULTURE ON THE SKIDS
ZOMBIFIED
(Kudzu)
Rare as hen’s teeth EP gets beefed-up re-issue.
7/10

This is an old recording by SCOTS but there’s a good chance that it will be new to a lot of you as it originally only saw the light of day in Australia as an EP back in 1998. It has been given the re-master treatment and sounds as fresh as if it was dug up yesterday. The original concept of the EP was as a tribute to low-budget horror and exploitation movies and features song themed accordingly. The style and influences range from steel-driven country to ballads, albeit about torture – complete with screams. It’s hard to tell if the ‘new’ material is new or just rescued from a vault somewhere, which probably speaks volumes from a band that are a jack of all musical trades and have mastered them all over the years.
Simon Nott

SUGAR / BOB MOULD
COPPER BLUE / BEASTER / FILE UNDER: EASY LISTENING / BOB MOULD (HUBCAP), THE LAST DOG & PONY SHOW
(Edsel)
Extensive reissues of former Husker Du singer’s huge indie rockers and solo material.

10/10 / 8/10 / 7/10 / 7/10


Sugar were huge due to Bob Mould’s songwriting on their classic 1992 debut ‘Copper Blue’, including the infectious ‘Hoover Dam’, ‘A Good Idea’ and ‘Changes’. The ‘Beaster’ EP that followed in ’93 showed a denser side to Sugar, with heavier guitars and the dark religious imagery of ‘Judas Cradle’ amongst its six tracks. The three-piece’s final full-length, 1994’s ‘File Under: Easy Listening’, enjoyed more chart success and secured their seminal, yet short-lived, status. The final reissue compiles some of frontman Bob Mould’s solo material – his 1996 self-titled third album (also known as ‘Hubcap’) about withdrawing and isolation after Sugar’s split and ’98’s ‘The Last Dog and Pony Show’, a farewell to guitar-driven rock for Mould for some time. All these reissues come with additional material, including a disc of a live show from the year of each album’s release. Well worth picking up.
Ian Chaddock

SUZI QUATRO
ROCK HARD / UNRELEASED EMOTION
(7T’s)
Glam might have fallen off a cliff but Suzi rocked under the radar.
7/10 / 4/10

Diminutive and leather clad, firebrand Suzi Quatro reigned supreme for much
of the 1970s. Sharing the same songwriting team as fellow glam rockers Sweet, hook-laden rockers like ‘Can the Can’ made her every female tearaway’s idol and every boy’s wet dream. Quatro hardly bothered the charts in the 1980s and, although she never stopped recording and releasing, she was probably better known for acting in everything from ‘Happy Days’ to ‘Minder’. Now, encouraged by the critical success of her 2011 comeback album ‘In The Spotlight’, there’s two slices of rare Quatro being dug up from the archives from her very own dark ages. ‘Rock Hard’, her seventh album, is quite a return to form following a few chequered outings leading to this 1980 release. The stomping ‘Rock Hard’ single contained just scraped into the top seventy in the UK. Far more obscure is 1982’s ‘Unreleased Emotion’ which was wasn’t actually released at all until 1998.
Neil Anderson

TALK TALK
THE PARTY’S OVER/ IT’S MY LIFE/ COLOUR OF SPRING/ SPIRIT OF EDEN
(EMI)
Mark Hollis’ four-piece journey from new wave to ambient abyss.
7/10 / 8/10 / 7/10 / 6/10

Talk Talk’s first album, ‘The Party’s Over’, is pure synth pop heaven and is very much in the vein of then labelmates Duran Duran with ‘Talk Talk’ being a massive hit. Things took an about turn when a new look band appeared with follow-up, ‘It’s My Life’. The sound had matured, they’d dispensed with synth-supremo Simon Brenner and resulted in hits on both sides of the Atlantic. Their third album, ‘Colour Of Spring’, continued in the same vein. Big budgets were allotted to their fourth album, ‘Spirit Of Eden’. Deadlines went out the window, budgets kept mounting and mainman Hollis even refused to let the record company hear any advance recordings. Though garnering huge critical acclaim, the album went down like a bag of cold sick with EMI who tried to sue the band for making a totally uncommercial album.
Neil Anderson

VARIOUS ARTISTS
ACE RECORDS SAMPLER VOLUME 3: GARAGE, BEAT & PUNK ROCK
(Ace)
Legendary label’s fuzztastic back catalogue compiled.
7/10

Born out of punk-pioneering indie Chiswick Records in 1978, West London’s Ace Records made a name for itself snapping up obscure label back catalogues right, left and centre over the years, all the while providing an outlet for more contemporary acts. Compiled by label Big Cheese, Roger Armstrong, the quality across these twenty classic cuts speaks for itself. Kicking off with the seminal mid-’60s North Western sounds of The Sonics’ ‘Have Love Will Travel’ and The Wailers’ ‘Out Of Our Tree’, we move quickly to Chiswick flagship bands The Damned and The Radiators From Space. A quick detour through Damned psych side-project Naz Nomad and The Nightmares, brings us to the flourishing ‘80s Medway sound, deservedly given broad scope courtesy of Thee Milkshakes, The Prisoners et al.
Gerry Ranson

VARIOUS ARTISTS
CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
(Fantastic Voyage)
“Bloody ballads, prison moans, chain gang blues” says it all.
9/10

While any discerning music fan should, quite rightly, run a mile from anything resembling a concept album, this Dostoyevskian collection offers the exception to the rule. Harvested across decades and decades of American country, blues and folk, disc one focuses on the crime side of the illegality equation with many a tale of guns, murder, bootlegging and serial killing. Highlights come from the sonorous voice of Mississippi John Hurt, Paul Robeson’s epic boom, the Everly Brothers’ irresistible sibling harmonies and the haunting Billie Holiday. The companion disc successfully explains the flipside of the criminality coin, focussing on prison, chain gangs and that ol’ hangman’s noose. The Cricket’s ‘I Fought The Law’ – yes, that song – sounds as superb as ever but there’s barely a bad track in this superbly selected, epic, eye-opening compilation. Appalling sleeve art, though.
Steve Lee


VARIOUS ARTISTS 

DEEP ROOTS OF THE RAMONES

(Sireena)

Serviceable punk/rock ’n’ roll comp.

6/10


“Recordings that influenced the The Ramones” it says here, although confusingly some of the tracks originate at a point by which the New Yorkers’ trademark sound and look were already formed. And the Sky Saxon track dates from 2004, which rather counts it out. That aside, this is an acceptable compilation of punk and rock’n’roll benchmarks, encompassing punk’s originators with The Stooges, Dolls, MC5 and Groovies, and original rock ’n’ rollers such as Gene Vincent, Carl Perkins and Link Wray. With a conspicuous absence of any of Phil Spector’s production works ─ and let’s not forget the Bay City Rollers who had a direct influence on the Ramones’ writing ─ this comp doesn’t quite give the complete picture, but does score points with the ultra-rare Ramones cover of the Stones’ ‘Street Fighting Man’ with Heartbreakers man Walter Lure on lead vocals.
Hugh Gulland

VARIOUS ARTISTS
DOO WOP AND ROCK N ROLL CELEBRATION
(Ace)
Just a great compilation of rocking tunes less travelled.
7/10

Ace have released a series of four CDs to celebrate their 30th anniversary of releasing retro goodness and this is one of them. All the tracks are taken from previous releases on the label and each are listed and pictured in case you are hearing something for the first time, can’t get enough and want some more of the same. The compilation is basically a best of doo wop, rock ‘n’ roll, boppers, strollers and some just plain crazy wild rockabilly. The tracks included would contain some at least new to all but the most dedicated collector and also acts as an excellent sampler as to what is out there but, unlike some, quality is not forsaken for rarity kudos.
Simon Nott

THE VARUKERS
VINTAGE VARUKERS – RARE AND UNRELEASED 1980-1985
(Antisociety)

Sturdy (and badly spelt) ’80s hardcore.

6/10


The Varukers were formed in 1979, in that hotbed of rock ‘n’ roll Leamington Spa, by singer Anthony ‘Rat’ Martin and a line-up that would change frequently, having already had several changes by the time they recorded their demo in 1980. This collection opens with the four tracks from that session, three of which – ‘Punk Ain’t Dead’, ‘Varuker’ and ‘No Education’ – have never been released before, while ‘Government’s To Blame’ was re-recorded for debut 1983 album ‘Bloodsuckers’. Two un-used tracks from the ‘Bloodsuckers’ session, ‘Good Time Girls’ and ‘Dance Till You’re Dead’, also appear here for the first time. Elsewhere, bruise your ears with two tracks from a Germany-only 7”, various compilation tracks of varying rarity and some 1986 live tracks. Interestingly, the early tracks, though speedy, are noticeably more old school punk than the all-out hardcore they’re best known for.
Shane Baldwin

VICE SQUAD 

VERY BEST OF / STAND STRONG STAND PROUD
(Anagram)
Bristol punks’ early recordings and second album reissued.
7/10 / 7/10

In the late ’70s/early ’80s so many young punk bands emerged it was hard for some to stand out. Bristol’s Vice Squad distinguished themselves with a successful debut single ‘Last Rockers’ and the follow up, ‘Resurrection’, sealed their reputation as notable players on the UK punk scene. Unfortunately predictable cries of ‘sell out’ were to come when they signed to EMI for their debut ‘No Cause for Concern’ LP. Listening to the ‘Very Best Of’ now, you can still hear the anger and vitality in those early singles despite the relatively lo-fi recording. Their association with EMI brought better sound quality, particularly on their second ‘Stand Strong Stand Proud’ album and later singles, but a change of vocalist when Beki left to front Ligotage inevitably led to diminishing returns. With Beki currently fronting a new Vice Squad line-up, the name lives on but it’s worth investigating these earlier recordings.
Lee Cotterell



WILLY DEVILLE
IN NEW ORLEANS
(Big Beat)
A Big Apple original in The Big Easy.
7/10

Featuring remixed and reworked tunes from the late Willy DeVille’s albums ‘Victory Mixture’ (1990) and ‘Big Easy Fantasy’ (1995), plus additional Orleans-themed oddments, this album hangs on the hypothesis that it was ‘the Big Easy’ which gave this unlikely CBGBs staple his mojo back after his stock had dipped. Frankly, listening now to highlights of ‘comeback’ album ‘Victory Mixture’ (enhanced here with added instrumentation from key collaborators), and having not so long ago reviewed another DeVille reissue for VLR, its hard to believe the man’s following could ever so dramatically shrink and swell. Loyal fans will surely have long loved these blues and soul-based cuts, yet the potential to pick up newcomers whilst appeasing that core crowd seems much the same as during the days DeVille was a sore thumb in CeeBee’s listings.
Alison Bateman

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MICHAEL MONROE

michaelmonroe400

Michael Monroe
02/12/11
Electric Ballroom

The former Hanoi Rocks front man has been slotted in between the modern day Misfits known better as Wednesday 13 and Swedish glam rockers Crashdiet. The recent change in his band has been the addition of Dregen from Backyard Babies and Hellacopters replacing Ginger of the Wildhearts fame and it quickly becomes apparent that there wouldn’t be anyone more suitable axe man to accompany mister Monroe. While Andy McCoy’s soulful playing was central to Hanoi Rocks’ sound Dregen is a great onstage companion to Monroe and a perfect match for the punk influenced in your face, split stretching rock and roll of his solo output. Also former Hanoi Rocks bassist Sami Yaffa is present pumping his groovy bass lines to the packed venue while his New York Dolls band mate Steve Conte adds depth with new guitar lead parts to old Demolition 23 songs like “Nothing’s Alright”. Due to the newer generation headliners the young audience might not be too familiar with the music in question, but they are definitely are receptive to it!

Mike dedicates the whole set to his former best friend and original Hanoi Rocks drummer Razzle, whose birthday it also happens to be. While a big chunk of the material comes from the bands recent award winning studio album “Sensory Overdrive” Mike does still treat the audience to a fair trip down to Hanoi with “Mystery City”, “Motorvatin’”, “Malibu Beach Nightmare” while climaxing with “Taxi Driver” and the brilliant guitar solo tradeoffs. Backed by his best backing band to date, it’s a full on energetic 50 minutes of sheer rock and roll brilliance from Dregen’s duckwalks to Monroe’s wild onstage antics from climbing to the stage’s framework to his spellbinding saxophone solos. Forget about vodka or Nokia’s mobile phones (not to mention the rubber boots that predated them!) Mister Michael Monroe is the greatest export Finland has to offer!

Jyrki “Spider” Hamalainen

 

 

 

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ALBUM REVIEWS (NOV)


COBRA SKULLS
AGITATIONS

(Fat Wreck)
Socio-political punk rock anthems from Reno trio.
7/10

Setting their sites squarely on the struggling economy, the xenophobia that has increased since 9/11 and how prisons are run like businesses. Opener ‘Six Degrees’ show this anger before the upbeat and energetic ‘Iron Lung’ and ‘Now You Know’ kick in. Other album highlights are the mighty ‘On & On’, the speeding ‘Drones’ with its jazz/funk intro, and the ripping, fast-paced ‘The Minimum’. Cobra Skulls have done it again, with a varied and absorbing album that deserves to win them new fans whilst pleasing existing fans. Not much to get agitated about at all, just the rest of the world!
Rachel Owen

THE DARK SHADOWS
11:11
(White Label)
Ethereal fem-led goth rock from Down Under.
8/10

Representing a largely overlooked corner of the alternative genres, Sydney based The Dark Shadows combine the brooding, vaudevillian mystique of The Damned, the cut-throat candy sweetness of Debbie Harry and the rockabilly talent of Gene Vincent into a wonderfully unique sound that’s both alluring and slightly sinister. This seven track EP marks the latest in a slew of mini-releases from the all-woman three-piece and serves as the perfect precursor to their upcoming European tour. Haunting and atmospheric, yet retaining all the heart of ’70s punk rock, fans of similar moody outfits like Siouxsie and the Banshees and The Cramps should definitely get involved.
Tom Williams



THE DAUNTLESS ELITE

MORE BLOODY BAD NEWS
(Bombed Out)
Another endearing slab of gruff Northern sing-along melodic punk.
7/10

Along with Wakefield’s Milloy, Leeds gritty but infectious punks The Dauntless Elite are the best band from Yorkshire. The long-awaited follow-up to their anthemic 2007 debut album ‘Graft’, the second album is always difficult but Dauntless have managed to come out with a great album. While it may not be as instant or powerful as ‘Graft’, these songs are still proudly Northern – listen to the accents and song titles like ‘Better Than Nowt’ and ‘Sod This For A Game Of Soldiers’ – and tracks such as opening sing-along ‘Saliva’ and ‘Sod This…’ prove they can still pen killer dual vocalled punk songs. Join the ‘Elite!
Ian Chaddock

DEAD TO ME
MOSCOW PENNY ANTE
(Fat Wreck)

San Francisco punk rockers unleash third infectious full-length.
8/10

This follow-up to 2009’s superb ‘African Elephants’ features yet another different line-up, with guitarist/vocalist Nathan Grice replaced by Sam Johnson (VRGNS, New Mexican Disaster Squad and guitarist Ken Yamazaki (ex-Enemy You, Western Addiction), joining Tyson ‘Chicken’ Annicharico and Ian Anderson. The album grows on you quickly, with punchy opener ‘Undertow’ offering up plenty of energy and ‘Reckless Behavior’ and ‘Dead Pigeon Tricks’ showing Johnson’s vocals add a lot. Chicken’s singing is still powerful, with ‘The Trials Of Oscar Wilde’ and ‘The Monarach Hotel’ two of the highlights. Ante up again, DTM are becoming one of the best punk bands on the scene.
Ian Chaddock



DON’T LOOK DOWN / THE DESTRUCTORS 

JE SUIS RADIO 

(Rowdy Farrago)
Peterborough punk rock double header.
6/10

Two punk bands from Peterborough from different eras with distinctly different styles team up. Don’t Look Down are the relative newcomers in this partnership. ‘The Duvet Song’ is very Bad Religion influenced, right down to the vocal harmonies, and that’s no bad thing. ‘People Are People’ meanwhile gives the old Depeche Mode standard a bit of a street punk makeover. Widely recognised as Peterborough’s most prolific punk band, the Destructors have been around since 1976 and include an inspired cover of Jonathan Richman’s ‘Road Runner’ and a psychobilly-tinged ‘Trash Man’. A nicely balanced split EP that does both bands justice.
Lee Cotterell

DUM DUM GIRLS 

ONLY IN DREAMS

(Sub Pop)
Sublimely ghostly girl-pop.
9/10
Following on from their 2010 entrée I Will Be, this second album from the California-based outfit is a glorious melding of four-to-the-floor garage-band aesthetics with the timeless teen-opera sensibilities of the Ronettes or the Shangri-Las, which is no small order in itself. Tellingly, former Blondie producer Richard Gottehrer handles the faders here, and it’s an inspired marriage; Only In Dreams is a shimmering tour-de-force of Spectoresque femme-pop, a faultless progression of three-minute symphonies, front ‘Girl Dee Dee Penny opening up her inner diary to spill out her tales of smeared mascara. There’s a sharp emotional punch at the heart of this recording that goes far beyond the boundaries of teenage trauma, with the recent passing of Dee Dee’s mother and other personal upheavals directly informing material such as Coming Down and Teardrops On My Pillow; beneath the girl-pop sparkle, the sense displacement and loss hovers, infusing Only In Dreams with a curious disembodied spookiness.
Hugh Gulland

FOREIGN LEGION / SLEDGEBACK 

REALITY BITES
(Sliver)
Two great punk bands for the price of one.
6/10

A great 12 track, split release from Seattle’s Sledgeback and South Wales punk stalwarts Foreign Legion. Arguably one of the most underrated Welsh punk bands of all time, Foreign Legion are the only band from the valleys to play at CBGBs and to have been produced by The Clash’s Mick Jones. With a Vans Warped Tour and Flogging Molly supports under their belts, Sledgeback are no slouches either. Sledgeback sound somewhere between The Freeze and Naked Raygun, complemented by Foreign Legion’s Ruts influenced punk. Rather than the bands having a ‘side’ each, the songs are interspersed, making for a more interesting listen.
Lee Cotterell

MISFITS
THE DEVILS RAIN
(Misfits)
First original album in over a decade from the horror punk legends.
6/10

The dark lords of horrorcore are back and what do the men behind the iconic skull have in store after all this wait? Well, Misfits 2011 is a stripped down beast, with ‘The Devils Rain’ snorting smoke through its sixteen tracks of punk ‘n’ roll horror clichés. Musically this incarnation bears resemblance to the likes of Volbeat, with its ’50s rock ‘n’ roll vibe and buzzing punk rifforama. Ever more cartoon-like, the vault of cheesy horror films has been raided to provide lyrical inspiration and bassist Jerry Only croons in a Danzig-esque style that should silence his critics. It’s a worthy Misfits record, if a little long. Still, spooky fun all the same.
Miles Hackett

ODONIS ODONIS
HOLLANDAZE
(FatCat)
Grimy, lo-fi surf punk from Canada.
6/10

This is an 11-track cacophony of sounds all held together in a thick blanket of fuzz and drenched in surf guitar. Hammond organ, thick bass lines and reverb drums up images of punked out ’70s ‘surfers’ that got no nearer the raging sea than the pavement, their skateboards and the sounds of The Barracudas, then follow them through the 1980s where they can dig the Pixies and The Cure. Odonis Odonis are a live band but were a studio project first and that sort of tells. Not for the faint-hearted, but if your pulse is pumping at the aural image my words have conjured up then you won’t be disappointed.
Simon Nott

POP WILL EAT ITSELF
NEW NOISE DESIGNED BY A SADIST
(Cooking Vinyl)

Electro rockers’ sixth album takes you back to the ’80s.
6/10

Having blasted out grubby party anthems since 1986, Pop Will Eat Itself have kept that party going. Or at least sole original member Graham Crabb, who continues to work under the name, is. ‘New Noise…’ packs in the baggy-shorted stroboscopic electro rock, spruced up with the odd recognisable sample – ‘Old Skool Cool’ for example lifts a riff from the Psychedelic Furs’ classic ‘Dumb Waiters’ single. ‘Seek And Destroy’ meanwhile is a lot of belligerent shouting yammering over an acid-house chug. Although at times it sounds dated, at other points things lift off into some enjoyable electro-goth terrain.
Hugh Gulland


RISING STRIKE
BITE THE HAND THAT FEEDS

(TNS)
Fiery full-length debut from Stoke’s premier skacore merchants.
9/10

One of the newest acts to join the rapidly burgeoning TNS family are Rising Strike; a belligerent skacore act with an incendiary political agenda. Recently recruiting a saxophonist and taking a break from touring to record this, their debut full-length, the band are fully prepared to rip 2011 a new one. Fast, punchy and punctuated with brutal death metal vocals, fierce ska riffs, juggernaut drums and socially challenging lyrical themes, ‘Bite the Hand…’ is a winning first effort with a sound further honed from that of their ‘Not For Public Consumption’ EP. A sure-fire listen for fans of Voodoo Glow Skulls, Random Hand and Leftover Crack.
Tom Williams

THE SLOW DEATH
BORN UGLY GOT WORSE

(Kiss Of Death)
Stunning debut full-length from Minneapolis punk supergroup.
9/10

Featuring (ex-)members of Pretty Boy Thorson and the Falling Angels, The Ergs!, The Soviettes, Dear Landlord and many more, it’s fair to say that The Slow Death are pretty much any melodic gritty punk/pop punk fan’s dream come true. And somehow this debut album lives up to all the high expectations too. From the male/female vocals of opener ‘Ticks Of The Clock’ to anthemic standout ‘Phantom Limbs’ and the country punk-tinged ‘Stay High’, these gruff, melodic and punchy tunes about Jesse Thorson’s drinking, relationships and living on sofa beds is nothing less than addictive. One of the albums of the year and an exhilarating new band on the scene. Catch them on tour in November/December. 
Ian Chaddock

SMOKEY BASTARD
TALES FROM THE WASTELAND

(Bomber Music)
Second album of Celtic punk fun from Reading whiskey swiggers.
8/10

Last year’s ‘Popping Up The Floor’ set the bar quite high for Smokey Bastard but they’ve cleared it with ease with sophomore effort ‘Tales From The Wasteland’. When they’re going full tilt on the likes of single ‘Yuppie Dracula’ or ‘Aspirations, I Have Some’, they’re enormous fun. There’s more of a trad-folk feel to ‘Bad Reception’. More varied and dynamic than most folk punk albums, ‘Tales From The Wasteland’ is well worth a read. Fans of Flogging Molly and The Pogues take note, Smokey Bastard are a band you need in your life. Cheers!
John Damon

SONIC YOUTH
HITS ARE FOR SQUARES
(Geffen)

Sonic Youth ‘best of’ in a different guise.

10/10


Sonic Youth being Sonic Youth were never going to just release some kind of lame ‘Greatest Hits’ type package and so they have come up with the rather novel idea of having their friends and admirers choose their favourite aspects of their ridiculously brilliant career to date. Mike D, Radiohead, Chole Sevigny and Michelle Williams, amongst others, have curated a record which to Sonic Youth fans says as much about them as it does the band’s back catalogue. The choices span the decades and in a wonderful way exemplify all that is undisputedly special about the work of one of the most astonishingly brilliant bands it has been my generation’s privilege to enjoy. 
James Batty

STATIC RADIO NJ

WE ARE ALL BEASTS

(Kiss Of Death)
Change of direction for New Jersey punk rockers.
7/10

Static Radio NJ’s last two releases have seen them emulating to their melodic hardcore heroes such as Kid Dynamite but this first album for Kiss Of Death Records is an evolution in their sound that sees them trying to find their own sound, with some success. After almost a decade together, their songwriting has taken on elements of their New Jersey heritage, with the mature yet melodic punk rock of opener ‘Favorite Name’, the infectious ‘Kill The Harmony’ and the album highlight ‘Addict’. However, on the acoustic ‘Geeks’ and closer ‘Incestuous Friends’, they take a clear Nirvana obsession too far. I can’t help but miss the energy of their earlier days but at least they’re switching things up.
Ian Chaddock

THEE SPIVS
BLACK AND WHITE MEMORIES
(Damaged Goods)

Garage/pop punk infectious anthems on second album from East Londoners.
9/10

The way that Thee Spivs manage to take the buzzsaw pop punk sound of the late ’70s finest (Buzzcocks, Ramones, Undertones) and add a modern freshness is what makes them so appealing. First single ‘TV Screen’ seems a little dated now – with most people not watching TV but a computer monitor or an iPhone screen instead but it’s still a buzzing slice of retro punk. There’s a good chance that you won’t have heard songs as fun as ’15 Minutes’ and ‘Flickin’ V’s’ all year. Thee Spivs may have black and white memories but today they’re a colourful and irrepressible good time. Join the fuckin’ party!
Gem Pitt


TONY SLY
SAD BEAR
(Fat Wreck)

No Use For A Name frontman’s second acoustic solo album.
6/10

Last year’s ’12 Song Program’ was Tony Sly’s first dip into the punk frontman turned acoustic troubadour territory and, following lots of touring with the likes of Joey Cape and Jon Snodgrass, he’s back with a more confident, angry and emotional second acoustic album, in the form of ‘Sad Bear’. With lyrics about poverty, love, self-medication, getting older, faith, having kids and still being as confused as ever. With this new level of honesty and added instrumentation (that thankfully avoids the Americana trap), songs such as ‘Dark Corner’ and ‘Hey God’ are some of the best material he’s written in years. There’s definitely filler and he’s not the greatest singer/songwriter type, but ‘Sad Bear’ proves Sly has good reason to cheer up.
Ian Chaddock


VINCE RAY AND THE BONESHAKERS

THE SOUND EFFECT OF SEX & HORROR
(Raucous)
The soundtrack to the weird and rocking world of Vince Ray.
8/10

Vince Ray’s artwork is revered worldwide in the rockabilly community and has graced the covers of many a goliath of the scene. What may surprise fans of his art is that he has been pumping out quality music for some years, ranging from garage to rock ‘n’ roll. This is without a doubt the strongest offering yet, whilst firmly planted in the furiously-paced slap bass rockabilly camp he does a fair bit of genre blending here too, creating a ripping audio experience to equally match the delightfully twisted imagery he creates.
Simon Nott


VOID
SESSIONS 1981-83
(Dischord)
Raw hardcore rage from the early ’80s gets a second outing.
8/10

They may have never had the profile of peers like Black Flag and Dead Kennedys but, alongside bands like Government Issue and, of course, Minor Threat, Void were one of the bands that helped to establish Washington DC as one the most important bases in the burgeoning late ’70s/early ’80s American hardcore scene. As such, this 34-track compilation of unreleased and rare-to-find tracks is a valuable document of the youthful abandon that helped to shape hardcore. Sure, the production is far from amazing and the playing is sloppy but numbers like ‘Organised Sports’ and ‘Controller’ still perfectly convey the rebellious danger of those early days.
Nick Mann

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SHAM 69 / STIFF LITTLE FINGERS

sham69 jimmy

SHAM 69
29/10/11
London Brixton The Electric

This is the opening night at the newly refurbished … Electric in Brixton (The old Fridge ) the first that hits you is the smell of fresh paint, as expecting the Queen to come.
Well tonight it is the King’s of Uk Punk, the Original (except the Drummer) line up of Sham 69 for a "one -off" show ….

The Skets were the 1st band on and reminded me of The Blaggers ITA with punk duel singers … with subliminal ska – punk tunes – something Beastie Boy esqe about them too.

Control (ex Beerzone / Intensive Care, Scottish group) were next up, delivering a Passionate blast of Punk Rock, not breaking out of the mould , yet the Real Deal!

This much anticipated reunion Sham gig, part of a mini Punk weekend / SLF playing the following night (that’s another story!) has brought all the old Punx , Skins and Herbets out of the woodwork to a sold out venue.

When Sham come on to a whole String of old song’s ….the crowd take a while to gear up, more in awe that Jimmy is back on stage; thankfully with his Ballet period, well behind.
From the first song in, "What have we Got" to the more better know "Angel with Dirty Faces" where Jimmy misses the timing and passes it off, professionally. The band themselves look all relatively good for over 35 years of "Rock n Roll" (albeit with a short hiatus thrown in.)

Sham really did come from the place they were singing about…. and formed way back in 1976, the original working class .. so when Jimmy has a costume change, and treat the crowd to "Hersham Boys" ..the crowd chant a long to the classic lines "Hersham Boys …laced up boots and corduroys’" a feeling of unity is already forming in the crowd.

Along side "Tell us the Truth" and "questions and Answers" this ending up quite a spectacular night; when they begin the unmistakable power chords to my personal Favourite "Borstal Breakout" the whole crowd pogo, until puffed out….. 3 and half minutes later .

Sham 69 …go off and knowing they would be lynched if they didn’t play their All time Anthem, come back on and blast, "If the kids are United" …really Jimmy’s lyrics are nothing less than genius and such a simple message for all Ears the world over …covered by many bands, including Rancid.

This was an early show, with the usual "crap" club after …so as much as Sham were welcomed back by their loyal fans… the light went on…so unfortunately, no "Sunday Morning Nightmare" – never mind …lets just pray that this is not going to be a "one-off" and the original band can carry on … for "012 and beyond"

Indeed the Cockney Kids are innocent"

Nicola Hull

STIFF LITTLE FINGERS
Tues 18th Oct.,
Southend

Stiff Little Fingers, formed way back in 1978, and were and Still are The Best Punk Rock Band in the world ….. tonight they play Southend as about 300 eager Fan’s pack Chinnery’s out!
SLF are just back from a USA tour, where I heard ; the powerhouse of a drummer, Steve Grantly was not too well yet still managed, somehow, to do the whole Tour, proving how much of a true Warrior he is….

They take the stage to the usual instrumental "Go For It" and it’s a "1234" straight into "Wasted Life," the B side to their very first single (D.I.Y. Rigid Digits label)
First 3 songs all hammered out, like rapid machine gun fire – only slowing down so, the audience can have a little breather to the Motown inspired.." Silver Lining" albeit the opportunity to have a dance too.

An unrecorded "Liar’s Club" is a taster of what’s to come from a New forthcoming Album, in the pipeline. There is some really nice Surprise songs in this "All of The Best" set list tonight, enough to put a grin on the most avid fans face. One such tune is the amazing "Back to Front " an Anti Racist track with the very apt line’s … "Buckets and spades to make your day with …he’s not like us he must be done." Another classic single from ..back in the day, enter "Straw Dogs" the bands first 7" single for Chrysalis (The contract they almost wrote themselves) this is a real gruff, punky number; with Jakes voice still holding the Passion of 1000 street protesters. As if this is not enough for the ardent fan’s, they then treat us to another old tune called "Wait and See," dedicated to their prestigious life time achievement award from the City of Belfast. I personally have not heard this tune live for at least 20 years.

Now this in all fairness, may just be the most biased live review ever … as this is my all time Favourite band, when I heard "Johnny Was" coming from my Big brothers bedroom; aged 6, my lifelong affair started there. First seeing them live in 1983 (Last ever show, Sun 6th Feb) then when they reformed in 1987, I hitched – hiked too see them at every single show in the Uk, losing count at roughly 200 times, give or take!

So when I say this is one of the best time’s I have ever seen them, I really do mean it. There is 3 cover versions thrown into this mix, including "The Specials -Doesn’t make it Alright," a version that Roddy Radiation prefers to his own bands original. Another two reggae tune’s called "Love of the Common people" and "Roots Radicals and Rockers," proving the band ‘s love of Jamaican music and giving the very happy audience a chance to Skank along.

A newly revamped expression of "Tin Soldiers" is soaked up with the real life story of a young and naive, Scottish Soldier who indeed "Swapped boy scout hat for army cap, he thought he’d be prepared". Then the band have a minute respite, before a (silly) Encore, "Schools out for Summer" Alice Cooper, which seems to go over a lot of the young one’s heads…. mostly son’s and daughters of first timers.

The cherry on the cake comes with, the bands two most revered classic’s played back to back, "Suspect Device" and "Alternative Ulster" (This really could be an National Anthem !!)

Well what a night, an amazing set by an amazing bandand the truly amazing thing is next year will be SLF’s 35th year and they are still Burning…… glad I will be seeing them in London the following week. If for any reason you do not know this great band, this please go and check them on their next Tour dates… April / March in 2012 – for a "Punky, Reggae party, one you will never forget. Hanx !

Nicola Hull

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ALBUM REVIEWS (SEPT)

AGNOSTIC FRONT
MY LIFE, MY WAY
(Nuclear Blast)
Another solid New York hardcore album from the originators.
8/10
Nearly 30 years in music is a stunning achievement in any genre and given the steady quality of Agnostic Front it is even more amazing. Straight from the opening of ‘City Streets’ it’s evident that the band led by co-founders – vocalist Roger Miret and guitarist Vinnie Stigma – are still on top form. From the socio-political rants to fast and furious hardcore street punk/metal crossover, it’s what they do best. Newly recruited guitarist Joseph James expands their sound, resulting in some of the best guitar work ever heard from the band. While the album doesn’t have an anthem to stand alongside classics such as ‘Gotta Go’ in their set, songs such as the title track will still guarantee a few windmills and leave others in the genre picking up change.
Jyrki ‘Spider’ Hamalainen

BEATSTEAKS 
BOOMBOX
(Warner)
Sixth album sees German punks master alt-rock.
7/10
Having gone from melodic punk heroes with 2002’s anthemic ‘Living Targets’ album, the Beatsteaks may be a name that has faded somewhat in the UK but in their homeland and all over mainland Europe they’ve been growing and growing, selling out multi-thousand seated shows and winning two prestigious EMA awards. In the last four years since 2007’s ‘limbo messiah’ they have clearly embraced a more mainstream sound, with rock and pop influences overshadowing their punk rock roots on ‘Boombox’ and nods to indie rock and the vocal stylings of Morrissey an obvious touching point. Long time fans will enjoy the likes of ‘Access Adrenaline’ and ‘Bullet From Another Dimension’ though, which show that, while they’re embracing a sound for larger audiences, they still know where they’ve come from. Arguably their bravest and most ambitious record to date, ‘Boombox’ is the sound of an admirable different direction for Berlin’s finest.
Ian Chaddock

THE BONGOLIAN
BONGOS FOR BEATNIKS
(Blow Up)
Fourth album of retro bongo-driven groove fusion!
7/10
The Bongolian (the alter ego of multi-instrumentalist and Big Boss Man frontman Nasser Bouzida) returns with a new record on respected ‘60s/Mod label (and famous club) Blow Up, and it’s another psychedelic trip that you’re going to love taking. A rhythmic. ‘60s-sounding fusion of funk, soul, Hammond, synths and Boogaloo, Bouzida plays all the instruments expertly and it’s no surprise that tracks like the rousing ‘The Clav Disco’, the blissful ‘Tortoise’ and the aptly titled ‘Hippy Trippy’ will appeal to fans of dance and hip-hop as much as collectors of old funk and soul records. ‘Bongos For Beatniks’ proves that the bongo is a versatile instrument that can be used to make cool, retro music that oozes funk fun. With live shows lined up for the year, The Bongolian is an experience you need to witness. 
Ian Chaddock

BUSTER SHUFFLE
OUR NIGHT OUT
(People Like You)
Madness from Cockney ska pop band.
8/10
It seems like the vast majority of ska bands these days combine the sound with a punk influence. That’s fine but it’s great to hear a new band breathing life back into witty, London ska pop. Certainly there’s a heavy influence of Madness throughout Buster Shuffle’s debut album, but fans of The Specials and The King Blues should also appreciate this four-piece. Frontman Jet Baker’s vocals, storytelling lyrics and infectious piano make songs such as ‘I’ll Get My Coat’, ‘Arthur McArthur’ and the bouncing title track burst with a fun-loving attitude and tales of everyday life – from nights out to bus journeys and anti-social behaviour. While there may be a little too much Madness worship for some, it’s great to hear a new generation keeping very English ska pop alive and skanking.
Rachel Owen

THE CARS
MOVE LIKE THIS
(Hear)
Cars back in the saddle after a 24 year hiatus.
6/10
All was well in the new wave world of The Cars for their first two albums. Killer singles and a sound that defined their genre came as standard. But as their fame grew so did the gulf between the sound that made them and their sound that was filling stadiums and making them huge with the track ‘Drive’ by the mid-1980s. So it was a relief to hear their first album in 24 years has more in common with their origins than their stadium-filling height. Album opener ‘Blue Tip’ has more than a nod to the mighty ‘Best Friends Girl’ of old and ‘Hits Me’ is a killer tune. Maybe it was the death of original bassist Benjamin Orr that persuaded them to look to their new wave roots for a comeback. Whatever it was, it was a good move.
Neil Anderson

CHAD VANGAALEN
DIAPER ISLAND
(Sub Pop)
Calgary maverick re-emerges with most cohesive album yet.
6/10
Although it won’t be to all Vive Le Rock readers’ taste, if you have any capacity for rough-hewn, minimalist melody, then ‘Diaper Island’ might be your bag. Vintage tape machines, guitar and voice are present, but there is little further undue embellishment, while the songs have shades of R. Stevie Moore, Pavement at their most oblique or even Kevin Coyne. Vangaalen’s voice, moreover, evokes the spirit of the great ’60s troubadours, and is maintained as a rich, plaintive thread throughout, despite the passivity of much of the songwriting. ‘Freedom For A Policeman’ is a strident exception, but the heart of the album is exemplified by simple, naked tracks like ‘Sara’ or ‘Wandering Spirits’, which gently recall the Fleet Foxes on a budget.
Alex Ogg

DEVILISH PRESLEY
THE DARK TRIAD
(November Tenth)
UK goth punks return with a brand new sound and the power of three.
7/10
With one of the loyalist fan bases in gothic punk rock, Devilish Presley were clearly taking more than a minimal risk when they decided to switch the line-up, with bassist Jacqui Vixen taking over lead vocals, but due to an unfortunate RSI injury, it seemed a reshuffle was inevitable. Thanfully, the Aussie singer’s vocal talents are a definite blessing to the band, with her balance of ethereal melody and raw, guttural bite providing the perfect accompaniment to the chugging guitars and horrorbilly overtones on highlights like lead single ‘The Beast Must Die’ and the virulent ‘Happy As Saturday’. Marking their fifth release, ‘The Dark Triad’ catalogues the self-made monsters of our society and delves lyrically into psychological themes, while adopting a harsher, distorted sound to match the cerebral mayhem.
Tom Williams

DEVILS BRIGADE
DEVILS BRIGADE
(Hellcat)
Rancid bass hero’s psychobilly band’s debut.
6/10
Formed over a decade ago, Devils Brigade, the long-awaited first album from the psychobilly side-project of Rancid’s Matt Freeman could be said to be an acquired taste. If you love psychobilly and/or Rancid then this record is certainly going to appeal. However, with Freeman taking on vocals as well as the upright bass, it may put off some. While Freeman’s nimble bass playing is second to none, his growled, rough vocals are certainly not, although it does admittedly suit the style of music. Backed by his Rancid bandmate Tim Armstrong on guitar and DJ Bonebrake (of LA punk legends X) on drums, there’s plenty of talent on board and tracks such as rumbling, driving opener ‘I’m Movin Through’ and the more Rancid-esque melodic guitar line-filled ‘Shakedown’. It’s far from perfect but it’s a bone-rattling listen and proof that Freeman can pen great rockabilly and psychobilly tunes.
Ian Chaddock

DUANE EDDY
ROAD TRIP
(Mad Monkey)
’60s rock ’n’ legend revs his engines again.
8/10
Twenty four years may seem like a long time between releases, but when you’re one of America’s most prolific rock ‘n’ roll icons, with a pair of Grammy’s, your own line of signature Gretsch Guitars and a place in the hallowed Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame under your belt, forgiveness comes as standard. Therefore, the 73 year-old Duane Eddy’s thirty-something release ‘Road Trip’ is definitely a cause for celebration. Conceived as a partnership between the ’60s guitar god and ex-Pulp guitarist, singer-songwriter and long-time fan Richard Hawley, the album drives a dusty, wild west landscape of blues, country and cowboy rock ‘n’ roll, all delivered in Eddy’s trademark twang tradition.  Hawley’s contributions are also well received, resulting in a smoky and scintillating release that’s imbued with over half a century’s worth of seasoned musical finesse.
Tom Williams 

ENGLISH DOGS
TALES FROM THE ASYLUM
(Winston)
’80s punks return with new EP. 
8/10
There have been several incarnations of English Dogs over the years, from the misconceived concept album ‘Where Legend Began’ to the metallic crossover of ‘All The Worlds A Rage’. Whilst this six-track EP isn’t the definitive line-up that recorded the seminal ‘Mad Punx And English Dogs’, it is their first release in over 15 years and is led by original vocalist Wakey, plus three new recruits. Wakey’s lust for all things punk have turned back the clock here to make sure songs like ‘Ya Buy One Bomb’ and ‘Fucked Up People’ are splattered in the spit and cider of old. Blessed with a 21st century production, ‘Tales From The Asylum’ is a raucous collection of pogo anthems delivered with Wakey’s signature irreverence and bile. Proof if need be that you shouldn’t let sleeping dogs lie.
Miles Hackett

FLOGGING MOLLY
SPEED OF DARKNESS
(Borstal Beat)
America’s finest Celtic folk punks with thrilling fifth album.
9/10
Known worldwide for their energetic and life-affirming live shows, Flogging Molly are a band that are undeniably exuberant and a fine soundtrack to any Guinness-soaked knees-up. However, matching that electric atmosphere of their gigs on record isn’t easy to do – which makes ‘Speed Of Darkness’, the band’s fifth full-length, all the more essential. The seven-piece have certainly tapped into working class Celtic punk concerns, adding some passion and depth to their party anthems, with stand out tracks such as ‘Don’t Shut ‘Em Down’ and ‘Revolution’ providing the perfect punk soundtrack to a fist-pumping rabble demanding their workers’ rights, where as the title track shows they can use traditional Irish instrumentation like old hands now. While it’s not quite on a par with their finest moment to date, 2002’s second album ‘Drunken Lullabies’, it’s more varied and certainly shows they’re thinking while they’re drinking.
Ian Chaddock

FORMER CELL MATES
PRESENTED AS A WORK OF FICTION
(Boss Tuneage/Poison City)
Angst-ridden rock/punk/country.
8/10
Sunderland outfit Former Cell Mates were formed in 2004 by singer/guitarist David Lee Burdon, former bassist with the mighty Leatherface, and have something of that band’s bruised tunefulness about them. This is their third album, following 2008’s ‘Who’s Dead & What’s To Pay’. Opening track ‘National Suite’ begins sparse and bass-driven, topped with Burdon’s melancholy but tuneful vocals, but soon builds into something sweeping and majestic with keyboards, horns and backing vocals – quite a little gem and a fair taste of what’s to come. ‘Right At Surrey Ridge’ is haunting, acoustic, country-style, and though the following ‘Violins’ begins that way, it’s soon bludgeoned by a pounding chorus. The afore-mentioned melancholy does become a little wearing by the end, but overall this is an eclectic, interesting and rather moving album.
Shane Baldwin

THE FUZZTONES
PREACHING TO THE PERVERTED
(Stag-o-Lee)
Sadly the title says it all.
5/10
Not always followers, this NYC foursome claim the foresight to have christened their fuzzbox-filmed guitar/’60s psychedelia fusion ‘grunge’ back in ‘84, when debut single ‘Bad News Travels Fast’ became part of garage punk’s gospel. Nowadays however, one suspects The Fuzztones are content to rest on that reputation. ‘Preaching To The Perverted’ is their first all-original collection in 15 years, but it’s barely the sound of a band brimming with imagination. Perfectly respectable but predictable Fuzztones fare, the dozen tracks here are all Sonics’ proto-punk stomps presented in a hammond haze (‘Between The Lines’) and kitsch, swampy voodoo blues (‘Don’t Speak Ill Of The Dead’). For the faithful there’s neither challenge nor cause for complaint, while for the curious agnostic will find far more spirit in first album ‘Lysergic Emanations’.
Alison Bateman

GENTLEMANS PISTOLS
AT HER MAJESTY’S PLEASURE
(Rise Above)
Leeds ’70s rock revivalists unleash another unstoppable volley.
9/10
Fans of Thin Lizzy, The Sweet, Sabbath and Free pay attention – Gentlemans Pistols could well be your new favourite band. Four of the hairiest northerners you’re likely to come across, these guys mean business and this second album, the follow-up to their 2007 self-titled debut, proves it. Right from the start, with the stomping and soloing filled, aptly titled opener ‘Living In Sin Again’. Elsewhere, it’s as sleazy and hazy as the ’70s were, with songs like ‘Some Girls Don’t Know What’s Good For Them’ and the spaced out, epic closer ‘Lethal Woman’ not only showing respect for the era that has clearly infuenced them but shows that it can be blasted into the 21st century with some mighty riffs and face-melting solos. ‘At Her Majesty’s Pleasure’ should mark Gentlemans Pistols out as newly crowned rock royalty.
Ian Chaddock

HILLBILLY MOON EXPLOSION
BUY, BEG OR STEAL 
(Jungle)
Rock ‘n’ roll revivalists going through the motions.
5/10
It’s not that this is a bad album, as it’s not. It’s a pleasing enough affair at times, it’s just that in the absence of a unique selling point of their own there’s little to differentiate Hillbilly Moon Explosion from any number of similar rock ‘n’ roll revivalists to be found in the roots rock ghetto. Having said that, this album does have its moments, such as the title track and the instrumental ‘Chalkfarm Breakdown’. Guest vocalist, Mark ‘Sparky’ Phillips, from Demented Are Go, is a welcome addition as he growls his way through an engaging duet with Emanuela Hutter called ‘My Love For Evermore’. Elsewhere, Hutter’s vocals are particularly alluring on ‘Broken Heart’ and ‘Goin’ To Milano’, but a spirited rock ‘n’ roll version of OMD’s ‘Enola Gay’ is too little, too late to save the day. Steal.
Rich Deakin

HOLLYWOOD SINNERS
DISTRATO GARANTITO
(Dirty Water)
High-octane garage rock ‘n’ roll.
(8/10)
This trio may hail from Toledo in Spain, but Hollywood Sinners sound more like they come from Detroit in the ’60s or the Medway in the mid-’80s. In fact, it’s only the fact that they often sing in their native tongue that gives the game away. They play no-frills garage punk the way it was always intended to be played – frantic, visceral and straight to the point – cramming twelve tracks into a breath-taking 25 minutes. Imagine The Kinks, The Standells and The Barracudas colliding with The Hives and dragging The Milkshakes along for the ride. It’s hard to pick a stand out track but ‘No Soy Bueno’,  ‘Huesos’ and ‘Have You Ever Been in Jail?’ all pack a hefty punch. Buy this if you like your rock ‘n’ roll loud and urgent.
Lee Cotterell

LEFT LANE CRUISER
JUNKYARD SPEED BALL
(Alive Natural Sound)
Power-blues duo getting down and dirty.
7/10
With one half of their line-up going by the name ‘Sausage Paw’ (responsible for ‘drums and shit’), you have a fairly accurate signpost to the territory these boys are coming from. The Fort Wayne based duo stir up a potent mess of diesel-reeking wrecker’s yard blues, a moonshine-soaked take on the pig trotter-punk sounds of Doo Rag et al put through a hellbilly filter, amply demonstrated on ‘Lost My Mind’ or ‘Circus’. But the more expansive sounds of tracks such as ‘Giving Tree’ hint of ambitions beyond the confines of the juke joint; the funky clavinet sounds on
‘Hip-Hop’ or ‘Pig Farm’, courtesy of the Black Diamond Heavies’ Reverend James
Leg, bring the somewhat unexpected hints of Bobby Womack or Stevie Wonder
to the mix, which combined with the ‘Cruiser’s innate power makes for one
powerful hybrid.
Hugh Gulland

THE LORDS OF ALTAMONT
MIDNIGHT TO 666
(Fargo)
More ground shaking, down ‘n’ dirty, west coast garage rawk.
8/10
With spectacularly titled former Cramps man Harry ‘Full Tilt’ Drumdini on sticks and the rest of the band carrying nicknames such as Sonic and Big Drag, it’s obvious this isn’t going to be a prog-rock album peppered with Rush and Genesis covers. What The Lords of Altamont do, and consistently have done throughout their ten year history, is fire out balls to the wall, distorted, retro garage rock. Reminiscent of late 1960s era bands such as the MC5 and The Sonics, ‘Midnight To 666’ is loud, primal and wholly unapologetic. The crazy, fists in the air, whoa packed ‘Bury Me Alive’ proves a particular stand-out track, but this album is best taken as a whole. Put on your biker shades, unzip your leather jacket, crack open a cold one, turn up the volume, sit back and enjoy.
Steve Lee

THE MAHONES
THE BLACK IRISH 
(True North)
Canadian Celtic punk veterans still going strong.
7/10
Bursting with Celtic energy and punk rock spirit, the Mahones’ 20 year career remains in top gear with latest offering ‘The Black Irish’. Though comparisons with fellow punk/folk rogues the Pogues are hard to dismiss, especially on the first four tracks, the Mahones stamp their own well-spirited identity all over ‘The Black Irish’. ‘Ghost Of A Whiskey Devil’ name-checks 1977 punk while ‘Girl With Galway Eyes’ – a particular favourite of mine – evokes a strong melodic feel and ‘The Blood Is On Your Hands’, and ‘Give It All Ya Got’ cast a stronger guitar vibe our way. ‘Paint The Town Red’ is an apt lyrical pointer to the flavour of this CD; a fine selection of songs all performed with a pureness of musical spirit this band have cornered so well.
Tony Beesley

THE MURDER ACT
TRAUM
(The Murder Act)
Shadowy tranced-out drone rock.
7/10
Having made waves around the Hoxton basements since forming two years ago, this London-based five-piece look set to break out to wider recognition with this debut mini-album, a six track sonic white-out of Krautrock-inspired drone and mesmeric comet-tail guitar noise. Rob Banham’s brooding post-Joy Division vocal mannerisms surf a wave of sparking guitar noise, culminating in a Wasted vs. Sonic Youth type of
affray. While ‘Repulsive Acts Of Penetrative Entertainment’ bangs on the Birthday Party’s front door, it’s the ominous trance-outs of ‘Sew My Eyes’ or the title track on which the Murder Act truly excel, the latter being the closing tour-de-force – a nine-minute moog-led trance-out which pushes out into impressive electronic vistas, practically pushing at the borders of space rock.
Hugh Gulland

NICK MARSH
A UNIVERSE BETWEEN US
(Belissima)
Swaggering solo rhythms from the ex-Flesh For Lulu frontman.
8/10
Probably most prominently known as the lead singer of ’80s goth rock outfit Flesh For Lulu and more recently as the progenitor of London’s signature carny-billy collective the Urban Voodoo Machine, Nick Marsh’s contributions to British rock ‘n’ roll have been significant, if not a little understated. ‘A Universe Between Us’ marks his solo debut, opening like a Spaghetti Western and continuing throughout in a lilting lounge and mariachi influenced vein, the record comes off sounding something akin to a gothic Morricone score. Lyrically complex in the majority, although not afraid to tread the tongue-in-cheek route with tracks like ‘Best Shag In The World’, and delivered in an alluring, ghostly baritone, the album is a definite must for followers of Marsh’s work, as well fans of Nick Cave, Tom Waits and Rufus Wainwright.   
Tom Williams

OBITS
MOODY, STANDARD AND POOR
(Sub Pop)
The new Radio Birdman anyone?
7/10
It’s fair to say that the members of Obits are veterans of their craft, but are by no means such as a band. The partnership of Rick Froberg (Drive Like Jehu and Hot Snakes) and Sohrab Habibion (Edsel) captivated fans on debut with ‘I Blame You’ and the euphoria is sure to continue after one listen of ‘Moody, Standard And Poor’. Seething with energy and a “no bullshit” attitude to their melodic brand of indie/garage rock, Obits hone in on the prowess of their former outfits, but strip down the aforementioned sound, incorporating elements of surf and rockabilly.The closest comparison I can give is Australian legends Radio Birdman, or a slowed down Saints with hints of a raw powered Iggy. Epic songs that sound  dirty, atmospheric but at the same time fresh and exciting. Obits are reinventing the wheel and keeping it real.
Max Barrett

THE OBJEX 
RESERVATION FOR DEBAUCHERY
(Crownn)
Sassy punk rock, Las Vegas style.
(8/10)
Since this quartet’s last album, ‘Attack Of The Objex’ they’ve changed drummers and honed their sound. They’re a damn fine punk band anyway but the factor that makes them stand out from their peers is their human dynamo – vocalist Felony Melony. Like a punk rock hybrid of Tina Turner and Skunk Anansie’s Skin, she’s a bit of a poster girl for the burgeoning Afro punk scene in the US. This time round they’ve returned with a more polished sound and a rockier edge. Kicking off with ‘Fingered’ – a statement of intent to stand up for ‘the sexual minority’ – before ‘RSVP’ explodes into life like a long lost Runaways number, they later enter  Dwarves’ territory with ‘Squeeze’.  An accomplished album from an underrated band, hopefully this will help them get the recognition they deserve worldwide.
Lee Cotterell

OCCULT DETECTIVE CLUB
CRIMES
(Alive Natural Sound)
Garage rock-out with Brit-punk flavourings.
7/10
A live draw on the Texas underground circuit, this Denton-based four-piece bring a class of ‘79 dynamic to their garage thrash-outs, with a definite nod to the likes of The Clash, the Buzzcocks, the Ruts and most noticeably The Jam detectable here on their second album. Bristling with punk energy, ‘Crimes’ is packed to bursting with anthemic guitar-based rock-outs, getting straight to the task in hand with hook-driven fare such as ‘C’Mon Levi’  or the title cut, surefire triggers for some serious pogo action when ODC take this stuff live. True to their Brit-punk influences, this outfit
squeeze a hefty shot of social awareness into their doings, as with the accusatory rant of ‘Running With The Red Squad’ or ‘Oh Bureaucracy’, delivering commendably high-energy jabs to the machinations of power in quick succession.
Hugh Gulland

PAUL COLLINS
KING OF POWER POP
(Alive Natural Sound)
If you say so Paul.
5/10
Well he’s certainly nailed his colours to the mast there. If power pop is your bag, you can either hug this to your heart or argue the veracity of this album’s title. One man’s summery is another man’s saccharine, and while I’ve no beef with certain of power pop’s touchstones – Byrds and Big Star come to mind  – men with Rickenbackers, white Chelsea boots and inexplicable ambitions to sound like the Knack are a taste I’ll never acquire. That said, Collins’ album is consistently pleasant enough – bursting with hooky major chord riffs, surftastic backup vocals, Alex Chilton cover versions, a well-meant salute to the Flaming Groovies… what’s wrong with that, you may well ask. Go grab it if that’s your bag, leave me to syringe the sugar out of my ears.
Hugh Gulland

POLY STYRENE
GENERATION INDIGO
(Future Noise)
Final solo album from late X-Ray Spex vocalist.
8/10
While DJs everywhere cue up ‘Oh Bondage, Up Yours’ in tribute to Poly Styrene, a more rounded epitaph can be found on this final record, which was released a mere month before the singer lost her battle with cancer. The vast imagination and range of influences which Styrene displayed at just 19 on X-Ray Spex’s ‘77 debut were still expanding when she reached 51. With equal arch experimentalist Youth on board as producer and player, genre boundaries are daringly disregarded on ‘Generation Indigo’, and electro, dub and pure pop territories effectively breached by that ageless and idiosyncratic voice. From addressing global poverty with eloquence rather than clichés on ‘No Rockefeller’, to convincingly mastering a modern 19 year old’s vocabulary on ‘Virtual Boyfriend’, Styrene still refuses to be bound on this wildly eclectic epilogue to her career.
Alison Bateman

THE PUSSYWARMERS
THE CHRONICLES OF…
(Voodoo Rhythm)
Second album from Swiss musical adventurers.
7/10
Formed in the Italian-speaking Ticino region of Switzerland and sonically settled on a dimensional fault line between myriad cultures, continents and centuries, multi-lingual multi-instrumentalists The Pussywarmers make variety the spice of their high-spirited exotica brew. They combine Weimar cabaret sounds, blistering brass borrowed from Dixieland jazz, tankard-toppling, slur-along Bavarian drinking songs and punked up, double bass-pulsating big band. Even at these moments, when every instrument is thrown into the mix, The Pussywarmers record using a mere two microphones and maintain an eerie, authentic vintage aura throughout for their unorthodox methods. What is equally apparent at each stop on their tour of the world’s wildest dance floors, whether they’re singing in English, Italian, German or French, is that wherever they go The Pussywarmers are sure to find the best party in town.
Alison Bateman

RADIO DEAD ONES
AAA
(SPV)
Second album from boisterous Berlin punk rockers.
7/10
German punk rockers Radio Dead Ones’ ‘AAA’ contains all the essential elements that make up a good aggressive punk album; thrashing pogo beats, mile-a-minute guitar riffs and yelling-at-the-top-of-their-lung vocals. For the next 35 minutes, the band barely pauses for breath, furiously bulldozing their way through 15 punk anthems, all infused with hardcore and rock ‘n’ roll influences and energy, with a fierce intensity so unyielding it becomes exhausting. ‘Smoking’ starts with a whirlwind of rolling drums and erupts into a full-blown hurricane, while Beverly Crime’s powerful vocals tear through Rik Oldman’s frantic guitar on ‘Dirty Love Hotel’. The album rocks as hard and fast as many, but at the same time it’s melodic and catchy as hell. And that’s the way good music should be.
Scott Zverblis

ROY ELLIS
THE BOSS IS BACK
(Liquidator)
Mr ‘Skinhead Moonstomp’s third album in five years.
6/10
Vocalist with the Pyramids, who became Symarip, Roy Ellis was a major name on the reggae scene in the late ’60s and early ’70s who was then catapulted back into the mainstream when the Specials covered ‘Skinhead Moonstomp’ at the height of 2 Tone. His voice remains strong and on songs like the opening ‘One Way Ticket To The Moon’ he proves he can still cut it with the best of them. Elsewhere it’s a little hit and miss and the cover of ‘The Rose’, made famous by Bette Middler, is certainly an odd choice and sits uncomfortably with the reggae, rock steady and soul of the other tracks. It’s good to see Ellis still making records though and Symarip’s London show at the 100 Club in June looks like being a night not to miss.
Andy Peart

SAXON
CALL TO ARMS
(UDR)
Light at the end of the tunnel for enduring metal warlords.
6/10
If Saxon were in an endurance contest they’d probably win hands down. They’ve always seemed happy to soldier on whether anyone really cared or not. The band’s glory days were the late ’70s when they had the metal world at their feet but global success was short lived. But Saxon have enjoyed a bit of a resurgence in the past couple of years thanks partly to their appearance on ‘Get It Together With Harvey Goldsmith’ when the renowned promoter tried to kick the band into the 21st century. There’s a more confident aura around ‘Call To Arms’ than the majority of Saxon offerings since the mid-’80s. If, like many, you’ve been giving them a wide berth for a while check out ‘Hammer Of The Gods’, and there might be a hint of a return to good fortune.
Neil Anderson

THE SKUZZIES
THE SKUZZIES
(Easy Action)
Deptford trio’s driving rock ‘n’ roll debut.
8/10
Drawing heavily on singer Jerome Alexandre’s life-experience-stranger-than-fiction, The Skuzzies’ debut is every bit as curious and contradictory as a character who counts Peter Doherty as a close conspirator and co-vocalist for the ska-styled bonus track ‘On The Corner’, yet shows no interest in charming Babyshambles’ “Converse and furs” clad indie darling fanbase, as savaged on ‘Rich Girls’. Slightly more straightforward are ‘Shotgun Romance’ and ‘Brompton Cocktail’; two quick, gritty hits of minimal, wiry and wired Heartbreakers guitar, and gutter-grounded but starry-eyed sentiment. Still, like any act able to cram such immense energy and emotion into apparently simplistic sonic skins, the Skuzzies are, overall, anything but simple. Closing stormy soundscape ‘Heartache Accelerates’ says as much with its ominous, brooding silences as it does with the raw-voiced title refrain repeated ad infinitum, forming the intense, intriguing coda to a debut of enough depth to invite listeners to return to it again and again. 
Alison Bateman

T-MODEL FORD AND GRAVELROAD
TALEDRAGGER
(Alive Natural Sound)
Spooky magic from the veteran bluesman.
8/10
If it’s a colourful life story you’re after, octogenarian bluesman T-Model Ford – year of birth uncertain, yellow sheet as long as your arm – shows most other contenders up for the posturing pussies they generally are. Backed up here by sympathetic young bucks GravelRoad, the road-tested performer effortlessly summons up that time-honoured dark blues magic, a deceptively simple honey-from-the-fingertips three-chord trick that brings together the shades of Howling Wolf and Robert Johnson for some unholy dialogue. Moaning at the moonlight from some ramshackle porch, Ford and his able companions have tapped into something truly timeless here, whether on upbeat Saturday night stompers such as ‘Big Legged Woman’ or hypnotically world-weary laments in the vein of ‘How Many More Years’ and ‘Worn My Body For So Long’. T Model’s older than your granddad, but he’ll stomp your sorry ass.
Hugh Gulland

THE URBAN VOODOO MACHINE
IN BLACK ‘N’ RED
(Gypsy Hotel)
Finest bourbon-marinated offerings yet.
9/10
The Urban Voodoo Machine quite simply ooze atmosphere on every one of the twelve tracks here. The advice that you ‘Go East’ in the opener – a song that’s drenched in that classic gypsy sound, but just as those aurally name-checked, UVM are nomadic in their musical wanderings (though the roots are ever-present) and they just take on added flavour. Stomping is an apt term to describe the music, with the album cracking along at a pace that would keep ballroom chandeliers rattling as vocalist Paul Ronney relates tales of the sleazy underbelly of life that people too dull to try secretly yearn. The blues, rock ‘n’ roll and even a tequila-spiced Tex-Mex interloper get involved. ‘Goodbye To Another Year’ bids you farewell to a superb album but this could well be their best year yet.
Simon Nott

TV SMITH
COMING IN TO LAND
(Boss Tuneage)
Former Adverts frontman’s most accomplished work to date.
8/10
Following a superb and consistent flow of post-Adverts solo outings ‘Coming In To Land’ is TV Smith’s most confident yet. As lyrically relevant as ‘Bored Teenagers’ was to 1977 punk, this new set of songs sheds new light onto Smith’s musical vision and aspirations with a refreshing approach. Opener ‘Worn Once’, ‘Man Down’ and ‘Headhunters’ are classic uptempo songs in familiar TV Smith style sitting alongside the slower pace of ‘Dawning Of False Hopes’ and ‘Us And Them’ and the uncharacteristic and quirky dig at society’s moaners ‘Complaints Dept’. The Dylan of the punk generation; this is the work of one of our time’s true individual performers painting a potent musical and lyrical vision of the modern age!
Tony Beesley

VARIOUS ARTISTS
GYPSY HOTEL VOL. ONE
(Gypsy Hotel)
Retro blend of vintage rock ‘n’ roll, burlesque and, er, banjos.
6/10
Compiling a bunch of acts who, over the years, have patronised London’s Gypsy Hotel club nights, this is a real mixed bag. On the one hand, listening to Nigel Burch and the Flea Pit Orchestra espousing the virtues of the Pub With No Name over a twangy, 1940s style fiddle and banjo strumming gets a little tiring pretty swiftly. On the other, the insane, trebly, whooping rock ‘n’ roll of The Jim Jones Revue truly blazes. Other highlights come from Walking Wounded, with some lo-fi Balkan ska (yes, really), Pogues man Spider Stacy and the mellow vibes of The Mighty Stef. As a whole, this compilation’s a little too patchy to cut it, but the great tracks it does throw up are surprisingly cool.
Steve Lee

VARIOUS ARTISTS
RECORDS TO RUIN ANY PARTY – VOLUME 3
(Voodoo Rhythm) 
Eclectic 21-track compilation from Swiss rock ‘n’ roll independent label.
6/10
Now getting close to its one hundredth release, many of the bands/artists on this latest Voodoo Rhythm compilation have a trash bluesy lo-fi nature to their sounds, with more than a few nods to the White Stripes, though these bands are more likely to be originators than copyists. There are enough surprises to keep you interested though, such as the Dead Brothers’ understated ‘The Power A Secret Holds’, the garage punk of the Guilty Hearts and the impressive psychedelic soul of King Khan and his Shrines. Elsewhere there are all sorts of nuggets taking in everything from country through to folk. Not quite something for everybody but if you like primitive rock ‘n’ roll and all its strands it’s likely that Voodoo Rhythm will cater for at least one of your needs.
Andy Peart

V8 WANKERS
IRON CROSSROADS
(SPV)
German metal/rock veterans cruising rather than accelerating.
6/10
V8 Wankers’ sixth album – produced by Tommy Newton (UFO, Helloween, Guano Apes etc.) is slightly formulaic- and therefore unsurprising – but nonetheless is a highly polished and competent rock record with fast pace and bite. It more or less mirrors the band’s previous albums with its full throttle, hard driving metallic rock anthems. Not all songs are memorable, not all choruses deliver and in general the record is a little uneven. Opening track, ‘Sworn To Fun Second To None’ makes an excellent  first impression due to its blistering guitar riffs and revving engine noises, but what follows is an album that is way too generic to be appreciated by the casual listener. ‘Iron Crossroads’ doesn’t break any new grounds, but it certainly won’t disappoint any fans of Germany’s premier rock/metal band either.
Scott Zverblis

WATTS
ON THE DIAL
(Watts)
Nostalgic rock ‘n’ roll from Boston’s finest.
7/10
With a sound harking back to the good old rock ‘n’ roll days of Rolling Stones and Cheap Trick, Watts reignite that ’70s flame with their sophomore effort. The revival kicks off with the title track and highlight, featured on this issue’s free CD, with crunching riffs that carry a cracking melody and considerable swagger that will no doubt trigger any nostalgic reflexes. Taking the best elements of old school punk, new wave and British invasion, Watts charge out of the blocks with straight up rock ‘n’ roll anthems. ‘Girls On Holiday’ is a softer moment gets the nod, but any of these belters could make a soundtrack to your summer, including a cover of 1980s hit, ‘No Secrets’ by The Angels. While nothing here is groundbreaking, Watts prove that the classic formula still works, and nail it.    
Max Barrett

WONK UNIT
TROLLEYS THANK YOU / WONK UNIT SAVED MY LIFE
(Wonk Unit)
Sixteen songs of melancholy ala Billie Joe Armstrong.
7/10
The album kicks off like old Green Day records with poppy punk and stories of heart break and failed relationships. Excluding the occasional flirtation with indie sounds, the London based trio sounds like they could’ve been on one of the early Punk-O-Rama compilations. The bands main protagonist Alex Johnson draws his poetic inspiration from personal experience resulting in convincing honesty and delivery, which at times demands your attention. Some of the songs, especially on the latter side of the album with titles like ‘Wonk Unit Saved My Life’, come across as self-important fillers heard in semi-acoustic singer-songwriter nights at the local pub on a Tuesday night. But instantly grabbing songs like ‘Los Angeles’ make the band worth checking out for those with pop punk sensibilities.
Jyrki ‘Spider’ Hamalainen



REISSUES

ALAN DAVEY
FOUR-TRACK MIND – VOLUMES 1 – 4
(Earthquake)
Impressive career retrospective from former Hawkwind bass monster, spanning 1986 to 2003.
8/10
Originally only available as four individual volumes, ‘Four-Track Mind’ has now been released as an attractively packaged metallic picture CD box set. This collection of demos encompasses virtually every aspect of Davey’s musical career, including Hawkwind, Bedouin and other solo material, although it does pre-date his current ultra-heavy power trio Gunslinger. Immerse yourself in the lush, electronic ambient soundscapes that Davey creates on the likes of ‘Bird Nebula’, and ‘R.E.M. Time’. You’ll love the fearsome speed on ‘Hitze Seeker V’, or the motorik intensity of ‘Deep Space Rock’, while ‘Motor Pink Head’ is a gut rumbling, bass heavy adaptation of the Pink Panther theme tune. It ain’t for nothing that Davey has been named “Bass Assassin #2” by Lemmy himself.
Rich Deakin

BAD MANNERS
FORGING AHEAD
(Pressure Drop)
London 2 Tone jokers’ 1982 album still a decent effort.
6/10
Heading up the 1979-’82 ska revival scene and fronted by the larger than life character  Buster Bloodvessel, Bad Manners chose to concentrate on humour and fun while the likes of The Specials and The Beat became involved in campaigns and social commentary. As a result the band enjoyed chart success, although this fourth record saw their success declining after the hit 1981 album ‘Gosh It’s… Bad Manners’ saw them peak with number 18 in the UK Album Charts. However, the album is still one hell of a good time as always, with ska favourites such as ‘My Girl Lollipop’ (a cover of Millie’s ‘My Boy Lollipop’) and the single ‘Got No Brains’. Certainly not their best work but well worth picking up if you’re a fan of ska who’s somehow lacking Bad Manners records.
Ian Chaddock

BO DIDDLEY
BO DIDDLEY’S BEACH PARTY
(Geffen)
Guitar legend’s raucous first live album gets reissued.
6/10
‘Bo Diddley’s Beach Party’ was recorded (pretty raw if this is anything to go by) live on Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on July 5th, 1983. His pioneering mix of rock ‘n’ roll, blues and R&B playing scored him a series of hits in the ’50s and ’60s but this ten track live album shows he was still going strong in the ’80s – in fact he performed well into the noughties, until his death in 2008. This high energy and celebratory live set includes raucous renditions of fan favourites such as ‘Gunslinger’ and the incredible ‘Hey Bo Diddley’. However, this recording is not great and it’s certainly not the clearest or most impressive live album you’ll hear. This is one beach party you’ll wish you were at, even if this recording doesn’t quite do the electric atmosphere justice.
Ian Chaddock

COCKNEY REJECTS
THE PUNK SINGLES COLLECTION
(Anagram)
All the singles from Oi!’s founders.
8/10
The Oi! movement, though much maligned, has proved to be one of the most durable of the many music press-manufactured genres. Cockney Rejects had, through sheer cheek and bravado, come under the managerial wings of Sham 69 singer Jimmy Pursey and Sounds features editor Garry Bushell and released the classic single ‘Flares ‘n’ Slippers’ on Small Wonder in August 1979. When a reviewer from another paper sneered that Rejects singer Stinky Turner did little but shout ‘Oi! Oi!’ between songs, the seed was planted in Bushell’s head, and before long EMI were releasing influential compilation ‘Oi! – The Album’. The Rejects were the movement’s most successful act, scoring three hit albums and six hit singles, and this set rounds up all the tracks from the latter. This is almost all top notch Oi!, though some may baulk at the later metal material.
Shane Baldwin

CRASS
CHRIST – THE ALBUM
(Crassical Collection)
Fourth release in remastered series of anarcho-punk pioneers.
9/10
Despite influencing everything from US hardcore to post-punk since forming in 1977 and imploding in spectacular fashion in 1984, the legend of Crass has bizarrely remained a cult concern. However, this latest remastered and beautifully repackaged Crass album, which feature previously unreleased tracks, illustrated booklets and live recordings , will no doubt help the legend of Crass grow and hopefully pull in a few more fans along the way. Crass always had a knack for the accessible and melodic, but it always came with an anarchic twist, as evident here. ‘Sentiment’ is almost wistful, ‘Mother Love’ distorts, while the ska-tinged ‘Reality Whitewash’ swings. However, it’s when both Steve Ignorant and Phil Free’s guitars go into full-on sneer on ‘The Greatest Working Class Rip-Off’ that ‘Christ – The Album’ bears the ripest fruit.
Scott Zverblis

THE DRONES
FURTHER TEMPTATIONS
(Anagram)
Manchester combo not to be confused with their more recent Antipodean namesakes.
8/10
The Drones emerged in the wake of the first wave of English punk to produce one of the great unsung albums of its era. Seething with punk vibrancy, ‘Further Temptations’ is littered with lyrics about alienation (‘Underdog’, ‘Lift Off The Bans’), anti-monarchy (‘Corgi Crap’), work (‘Bone Idol’), individuality and herd mentality (‘Lookalikes’), and is still as rousing as it ever was. ‘Movement’ is a relentless Stooges style assault, whilst a staccato version of The Ronettes’ ‘Be My Baby’ is the obligatory pogo-a-go-go cover. But there’s musical expertise at play too: just check out their 1980 single ‘Can’t See’, included here as a bonus track along with their other singles and B-sides.  It was a more commercial stab at new wave than punk, but it did mark the end of the band’s first incarnation.
Rich Deakin

THE GONADS
GREATER HITS – VOLUME ONE: PLUMS
(Randale)
Fifteen cuts of Monty Python-esque Oi! and an AC/DC cover.
6/10
The Gonads are fronted by controversial journalist Garry Bushell, who is known for coining the term Oi! and declaring punk dead. Ironically the compilation sets off with ‘Punk Rock Till I Die’ and includes hilariously titled songs from their 30-odd year career, such as ‘I Lost My Love To A UK Sub’ and ‘Hitler Was An ‘Omo’. Bushell’s polemical lyrics are the carrying force of the group that might get mistaken for an Anti-Nowhere League covers band. The man who once had his eyebrows shaved by Ozzy Osbourne manages to name-check even more than Jimmy Pursey on speed, with parody songs like ‘Wild Thing’ to ‘Doctorin’ the Tardis’. Overall it’s pretty much the same old chords and emotions, with Bushell’s grandmother’s former favourite ‘Big Balls’.
Jyrki ‘Spider’ Hamalainen

THE HITMEN
DANCING TIME ‘78-’79
(Shock / Savagebeat)
Muscular post-Birdman Oz punk.
6/10
With the 1978 break-up of Sydney’s high energy rock ’n’ rollers Radio Birdman, guitarist Chris Masuak and bassman Warwick Gilbert joined forces with Birdman associate Johnny Kannis, forming the nucleus of this psyche-trash-surf outfit. Hitmen line-ups would fluctuate over the next few years, with former Saints sticksman Ivor Hay providing the backbeat for a stretch. Pulling together extensive material from various demo sessions and live shows, ‘Dancing Time’ provides a two-disc window into a somewhat neglected chapter in Australian rock ’n’ roll, and the Masuak penned originals here prove that away from the Radio Birdman power-jostle, while Klondike Chris was a pretty respectable songwriter and guitarist in his own right. ‘Feast Of Words’, ‘Wings Of Steel’ and ‘Wrath Of God’ burn the same fuel that powered Birdman’s sonic air strikes. Classic trash-rock influences are touched on throughout, notably the Flaming Groovies on cuts like ‘It’s So Wild’, and the Detroit punk energy of the MC5 is seldom far from the mix.
Hugh Gulland

ICICLE WORKS
THE SMALL PRICE OF A BICYCLE
(Cherry Red)
Liverpool post-punks’ 1985 second album gets the deluxe treatment.
7/10
Never my favourite Icicle Works album on release, this deluxe reissue – the original ten tracks having quadrupled across three discs – is a pleasant rediscovery. It reminds of how vibrant, and diverse, the Merseyside post-punk scene was, with no identifiable sound beyond a state of permanent enthralment at pop music’s melodic possibilities. Ian McNabb’s voice is a perfect conduit for the typically grand themes explored in his songwriting herein, and works most appealingly on the hard-rocking ‘Perambulator’, the closest antecedent to the band’s still wonderful debut. It explodes ala the band’s millstone/milestone hit ‘Love Is A Wonderful Colour’. While McNabb’s talent has been grudgingly acknowledged by critics down the years, Icicle Works arguably possessed the finest Merseybeat drummer of his generation in current Beady Eye member Chris Sharrock – check out ‘Book of Reason’ for evidence.
Alex Ogg

LEE PERRY 
REGGAE GENIUS: 20 UPSETTER CLASSICS 
(Spectrum)
A reminder of the huge impact of Perry in the ’60s/’70s.
9/10
Lee Perry’s understanding of the importance of the vibe and mood of a track was second to none during the 1960s/’70s and is demonstrated here to great effect. From the legendary Bob Marley tracks and Junior Murvin’s iconic ‘Police And Thieves’ to lesser known cuts like The Gatherers’ ‘Words Of My Mouth’, there’s a groove that Perry could instinctively locate to let the sounds breathe. Whether recording himself with the Upsetters or producing bands such as the Heptones and the Congos there’s a consistency with these recordings which allows them to sit naturally next to each other and also provide a useful snapshot of exactly what could be achieved forty years ago, long before the digital age started to take the soul out of the recording process.
Andy Peart

THE OUTCASTS
VIVE LYON!
(Spit)
Excellent live material from early Northern Ireland punks
8/10
Spit Records is a new label set up by Sean O’Neill, co-author of the book ‘It Makes You Want To Spit’, which does a terrific job of covering the Northern Ireland punk scene from 1977 to 1982. He aims to set up a label which provides us with previously unreleased material from this most productive, inspired, and, naturally, volatile of punk scenes. Spit’s roster is opened by a release by one of NI’s most revered crews the Outcasts, which brings together two razor-sharp live sets, both recorded at the West-Side Club, in Lyon, France, in 1983 and 1984. Stand-outs include ‘The Cops Are Coming’ from the 1979 split EP ‘The Battle Of The Bands’ and their trashing of the Kenny Rogers weepy ‘Ruby…’. Add to this a 24-page booklet with excellent sleeve notes, including quotes from band members and the likes of SLF’s Henry Cluney, and you can’t go wrong.
Shane Baldwin

SCRITTI POLITTI
ABSOLUTE
(Virgin)
Scritti’s 34-year career comes full circle. 
4/10
As Green Garside seems to be on extended leave again, Virgin have decided to plug the gap with a retrospective spanning 34 years. Scritti Politti enjoyed their biggest mainstream success in the heady days of the mid-’80s and this album kicks off with most of them, back-to-back. The band’s immaculate, state-of-the-art pop topped off with Garside’s sugar-coated vocals had the world eating out of their hands at their height. ‘Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin)’, ‘Absolute’ and then onto US top 10 smash ‘Perfect Way’ were the soundtrack for a generation. Though ‘Absolute’ offers extras for completists and it’s always nice to have a catch-up, this feels pretty patchy at best and it doesn’t help that the band have only averaged one album every seven years. A strange mix of top ten glitz, hip-hop comebacks and post-punk roots. 
Neil Anderson

SPIZZ
WHERE’S CAPTAIN KIRK? – THE VERY BEST OF SPIZZ
(Cherry Red)
Beam me up Scotty – it’s a career spanning Spizz retrospective!
7/10
This compilation includes nearly all Spizz’s single releases, some b-sides and some album tracks too from 1978 to 1982, when the band was renowned for changing its name on an almost yearly basis, as well as several latter day Spizz projects from the 1990s. Best remembered for the Spizz Energi incarnation though, their most famous songs are probably ‘Where’s Captain Kirk?’ and ‘Soldier Soldier’. But, if songs such as ‘Captain Kirk’ and ‘Spock’s Missing’ displayed a keen sci-fi sense of humour, then earlier songs like ‘6000 Crazy’ and ‘Cold City’ belied an edgier punk sensibility. As for the ’90s material, ‘On My Own’, is a stab at New Order-lite techno pop that’s not entirely without charm, but the gimmicky ‘The Sun Never Sets On Aston Villa’ is an acquired taste. Best remember them by their early idiosyncratic post-punk output then. 
Rich Deakin

TALISMAN
DOLE AGE – THE 1981 REGGAE COLLECTION
(Bristol Archive)
Arguably Bristol’s finest ’70s/’80s reggae act’s lost gems unearthed.
7/10
Bristol Archive Records have done it again. Alongside Black Roots, Talisman (originally formed under the name Revelation Rockers back in 1977 before the new moniker stuck in the early ’80s) were not only Bristol’s, but one of the UK’s finest reggae bands, earning them support slots with The Clash and The Rolling Stones. However, they never got a major record deal and their two singles from 1981 and two later LPs, ‘Takin’ The Strain’ (1984) and ‘Jam Rock’ (1990) are difficult to find to say the least. But thanks to Bristol Archive, this collection combines the two original 7” singles and seven previously unreleased live cuts of shows from Glastonbury and Bath University. Although more recorded material rather than live would have been desirable given the quality of these tracks, it’s still another release that shows how vibrant the Bristol scene was.
Ian Chaddock

THE TUBES
WILD WEST SHOW
(Secret)
White punks go west in London.
6/10
These ’70s San Francisco rockers’ outrageous stage reputation of old included mock bondage rituals, simulated sex and machine gun-toting terrorists kidnapping members of the audiences and imprisoning them in cages on stage. There was also a cast of outrageous characters including crippled Nazi Dr Strangekiss, country singer Hugh Heifer, punk star Johnny Bugger and, most notorious of all, Quay Lewd, an androgynous rock star with fright wig and teetering platform boots. The Tubes’ 2004 Shepherds Bush Empire show was rather less shocking but there’s plenty on this live CD/DVD set to keep the die-hards happy, including a guest appearance from Vice Squad’s finest, Beki Bondage. ‘White Punks On Dope’ will always stand out as the band at their finest – satirical rock ’n’ roll at its most addictive – and the live version here is great. But there’s another 165 minutes to go at.
Neil Anderson

TWISTED SISTER
COME OUT AND PLAY / LOVE IS FOR SUCKERS
(Armoury)
’80s glam metallers’ last two studio albums remastered.
6/10 & 3/10
Although Twisted Sister still perform live to this day they haven’t actually released a full studio album since 1987’s ‘Love Is For Suckers’. Originally intended as a Dee Snider solo album this was the last before their split in the 80’s and it shows. A sloppy mix of the pop rock that gained them notoriety, intermingled with a hashed return to their metal roots which couldn’t save this from the bargain bins. However its predecessor, 1985’s ‘Come Out And Play’ is a stronger affair. A rousing cover of The Shangri-Las’ ‘Leader Of The Pack’ is the highlight here, with other notable fist-banging anthems like the stomp of ‘I Believe In Rock ‘N’ Roll’. These re-issues may not be Twisted Sister’s finest hours but there is fun to be had amongst them.
Miles Hackett

THE UNDERTONES
TRUE CONFESSIONS (SINGLES = A’S + B’S)
(Salvo)
Away from the politics of 70’s punk, stood Ireland’s finest band.
9/10
Looking beyond the troubles of their Derry home, they embraced the bubblegum Punk of the Ramones with their own songwriting craft. From 1978’s ‘Teenage Kicks’ Feargal Sharkey and co. careered through a catalogue of gems adding melody to the grim early Thatcher years. ‘Get Over You’, ‘Jimmy Jimmy’, ‘Here Comes the Summer’,’ You’ve Got My Number’ and ‘My Perfect Cousin’ all sound as immediate and fresh today as the day they were conceived. When the band attempted to present a more mature extension of their sound, most successfully with the soul-flavoured beat of ‘It’s Going To Happen’, sadly their star began to wane and by 1983 the end was inevitable. This 2-CD compilation houses all of their singles along with often over-looked flip sides.
Tony Beesley

VARIOUS ARTISTS 
AVON CALLING 2: FORGOTTEN GEMS & UNKNOWN CURRIOS
(Bristol Archive)
Terrific post-punk from the South West.
9/10
In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, regional compilations were very much in vogue, particularly the Brighton ‘Vaultage’ sets that introduced the likes of Peter And The Test Tube Babies and the Piranhas. So, when John Peel referred to Heartbeat Records’ 1979 compilation ‘Avon Calling’ as “the one that all other compilations must be judged by”, it was no small compliment. The South West was a thriving hotbed of post-punk activity, with many startlingly good (and some just startling) bands on the scene, and Heartbeat boss Simon Edwards was something of an archivist, storing up much of their unreleased work. Now we have the best of it on ‘Avon Calling 2’, with gems indeed from the likes of Social Security, X-Certs, Europeans, 48 Hours, Apartment and Joe Public. 
Shane Baldwin

VARIOUS ARTISTS
CROSSROADS IN COWTOWN
(Fantastic Voyage)
Vintage hillbilly, swing, boogie and western boppers.
7/10
This is a humdinger of a collection of tracks highlighting that, although the rock ‘n’ roll revolution was four years away when the earliest cuts were released, Elvis and co. only gave what was already proliferating from the late ’40s a bit of a tweak and added pink and black. Ranging from 1950 to ’58, the variety of styles showcased here become a mixture in the pot with swing boogie and hillbilly being mangled together as successfully as blues and hillbilly. The emphasis on this collection is on up-tempo dancefloor fillers strong on rhythm with delicious instrumentation. The lyrical content of some of these tracks will testify that while the style they sung over may well have been dated even by the end of the 1950s they were rockin’ it up in lifestyle long before the kids who thought they invented it.
Simon Nott

VARIOUS ARTISTS
KRIS NEEDS PRESENTS… DIRTY WATER 2: MORE BIRTH OF PUNK ATTITUDE
(Year Zero)
Kris Needs casts his net wider into the depths of ever dirtier water. 
9/10
‘Dirty Water 1’ was never going to be an easy act to follow, but Needsy has done it again, with 39 songs of rock ‘n’ roll, ‘60s psych,  garage, be-bop, free jazz and reggae, all imbued with punk attitude. While this second volume strays into more well chartered waters at times too, with Bowie, Velvets and the ubiquitous MC5, there are still plenty more surprises. The Rudements’ ‘Imagination’ from 1978 is a real revelation, whilst Needs himself is given a helping hand by sundry members of The Clash and Generation X, with his own band The Vice Creems on ‘Danger Love’ from the same year. With yet another exhaustive booklet penned by Needs – 84 pages to be precise – this is a more than worthy successor.
Rich Deakin

VARIOUS ARTISTS
SASSY SUGAR – THE PURE ESSENE OF NASHVILLE ROCK ‘N’ ROLL
(Fantastic Voyage)
When it was good it was good.
7/10
Nashville did to rock ‘n’ roll what it did to country – made it palatable to the masses. Some of the tracks on here will have the toes curling to snapping point, while others salivating in anticipation. There are some big names here, including Elvis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins, but it’s the largely unsung who are the stars, the session-men like guitar legend Grady Martin who were drafted in to ensure that the no-hit wonders that were being given a shot got the best chance to crack that one song. Sugary choruses and backing vocals without a doubt bloated many a lithe hipshaker, just witness how it tamed some ex-Sun wildmen, but filter that out and there are still plenty of gems – Ronnie Self’s ‘Black Night Blues’ being one of them – to make this an excellent compilation which Stuart Coleman’s excellent notes bring to life.
Simon Nott

VISIONS OF CHANGE / THE DEPRAVED
VISIONS OF CHANGE / THE DEPRAVED
(Boss Tuneage)
Exhaustive, and pretty exhausting, reissue of mid-1980s posi-punk.
7/10
Emanating from the unlikely suburban surroundings of Leamington Spa, The Depraved were pioneers of the nascent British posi-punk scene. Taking influence from the personal politics and intelligence of North American straight edge they truly represented the punk DIY (not EMI) ethic, playing some pretty spectacular and energetic lives shows along the way. Captured on the first disc of this reissue are both their albums and various compilation cuts. By 1987 The Depraved had mutated into Visions Of Change, cranked up a hammond organ, learnt to play a lot better (by their own admission, according to the comprehensive sleeve notes) and, in the process, created what can only be termed psyche-punk. This stuff soundtracked my misspent youth and it’s amazing how fresh, intense and vital these songs still sound.
Steve Lee

WAYNE COUNTY AND THE ELECTRIC CHAIRS
ROCK ‘N’ ROLL CLEOPATRA
(RPM)
The pre-Jayne punk years revisited.
6/10
As a fearless pioneer in trans-gender identification and a vital mover and shaker in New York’s 1970s glam-punk crossover, Wayne, later Jayne, County’s cultural significance is hard to overstate, although it might be fair to say there’s more to this artiste than his/her recorded output yields; the County oeuvre brags some indisputable high points – tranny-punk smut blasts such as ‘Fuck Off’, ‘Mean Motherfucking Man’ or ‘Toilet Love’ are undisputed triumphs. But the more pedestrian dog-ends of County’s recordings amount to little more than bargain basement heavy metal (albeit
with camper than usual vocals), and the Max’s live roster at the time certainly had better acts on offer. There’s a certain filler quotient to the twenty tracks compiled here, but if you can wear a certain percentage of derivative press-forward moments, the aforementioned nuggets should justify this purchase.
Hugh Gulland
 

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KING BLUES / SWINGIN’ UTTERS

kingblues2011


THE KING BLUES
Chinnerys, Southend-on-Sea, Essex
Friday 26th August 2011

As a warm up gig for Reading and Leeds, The King Blues come on stage to a crowd who can’t quite believe their eyes, yet welcome them with all ears in a venue ready to burst. Opening the night with the track ‘The Last of the Dreamers’, The King Blues show their commitment to putting on a blinding show from the minute they get on stage, with haunting vocals drawing the crowd in from their pints then like a thunderbolt Itch crashes through with his spoken, searing lyrics followed sharply by ‘We Are Fucking Angry’. The ferocity of the deliverance leaves no one questioning just how fucking angry they are.

Southend really gets to see how well this tight, well-oiled unit can play, ploughing neatly through tunes from all 3 albums, such as ‘Mr Music Man’, ‘Under The Fog’, ‘My Boulder’ and ‘Lets Hangs the Landlord’, to name but a few. A heaving, jumping audience sing almost word for word, song after song, from the just over 14 year olds to the just under 60 years olds. This band have crossed the ages with a success rarely ever seen. Even when a technical fault with the bass threatens to dampen an already sweaty night, with pure professionalism Itch strikes up a solo Ukele trio of tunes including the much loved ‘Out of Luck’ to the delight of the swaying crowd. A short break in the proceedings and Jamie takes the chance to talk to the audience as he does like an old friend, although this is the first time The King Blues have played Southend, and maybe the first time some fans have seen them.

By the time the thunderous ‘The Streets Are Ours’ is played the crowd are bouncing up and down like a hoard of protesters around a samba band. It may have been said before but the music and energy that The King Blues creates every time conjures up the perfect soundtrack for the revolution, and so with the new Clash-stylee, drum and bass version of ‘Power to the People’ blazing through, The King Blues show just how their roots are still very much in Punk Rock.

Andi C

SWINGIN’ UTTERS
London Camden Underworld
Sun 4th September 2011

Quite Early doors on this Sun 4th Sep; with a fairly big line -up. Catching a bit of The Exposed, it’s good straight forward Punk Rock that leaves the crowd suitably impressed. I also catch Moral Dilemma, who are one of London’s hardworking, hardcore Punk Rock bands, with good tunes with a fast delivery, they deserve to be much bigger. The members of this band seem to not only tour a lot, but also turn up to other bands’ shows and support the scene.

The Underworld (or mini world tonight) is only 3/4 full, yet more than enough people to welcome back the Utters. With an outstanding brand new album on Fat Wreck, the Utters are back after a long hiatus, except for a comeback Barfly show last year. They’ve still got what it takes even though, like the name of the new release suggest, they do look like they are here ‘Under Protest’. All Utters songs are like mini Ramones tunes, in a sense, not lasting for more than 2 and a half or 3 minutes.

Swingin’ Utters formed in the late 1980’s, originally from Santa Cruz, they were first known as Johnny Peabucks (A story in its self…) and Swingin’ Utters’ debut was called ‘Scared’. They moved to San Fran, where they recorded the ‘Streets of San Francisco’, produced by Lars Frederiksen of Rancid.

With loads of new songs to air tonight, it is great when a few of the old classics from their past are aired – ‘A Juvenile Product of The Working Class’ and ‘Wind Spitting Punk’ are blasted out with pure passion. The Swingin’ Utters have always been one of the best Punk bands from California’s late 80’s / 90’s scene, first coming to these shores as Rancids support band, so they have still got a very loyal following from then. With intelligent and very clever lyrics, often with a McGowan / Stummer-esque poetic vein, they’re pretty special. The other new tunes that stand out are ‘Brand New Lungs’, ‘Bent Collector of 1000 Limbs’ and ‘Give it All to The Man’.

They also air some classics, like the punk anthem ‘Catastrophe’ and some great tunes from their ‘5 Lessons Learned’ album, yet classics like ‘No Eager Man’ from ‘The Streets…’ album, really gets the eager crowd going, After a frantic hour set and a much happier looking Johnny Pee Buck singing (thanks too the amazing crowd and the band’s musicianship) the group blast out one off their all time greats ‘Next in Line’ with lyrics … like, "Out the back door and to the corner store – all I want is a drink and nothing more" – this comeback looks like it’s here to stay. Swingin’ Utters are a kind of Stiff Little Fingers / Clash meets The Pogues on the High Seas , for the 21st Century, with all the energy and passion to boot.. Looking forward to seeing them come back to these shores next year.

Andi C

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ADAM ANT / THE STRANGLERS

Adam Ant -Fat sams Dundee 2011 630a%5B1%5D


Photo by Dod Morrison

Adam Ant & the Good The Mad & the Lovely Posse    – Fat Sam’s, Dundee – May 21St 2011
 
To be totally honest I didn’t expect much from Adam Ant decades on from his hey day. Boy was I proved wrong! This ended up being one of the best gigs of the year (and no doubt still will be when December rolls around).
 
The lights went down and the band strolled on. Adam followed, making a grandiose entrance, not lacking any of the flare he had in days gone by. He kicked it off straight away with ‘Plastic Surgery’ and it was great hearing him singing in the same varying tones I’d heard on his records. He camped it up in new romantic style but was way more punk than I’d ever expected. He did look (and act) a bit like Captain Jack Sparrow. It seemed like the audience were intrigued at first and then soon warmed to him.
 
Adam spoke to the crowd between songs giving snippets of amusing stories. He enthusiastically dished out song after song, playing up to the crowd looking like he was really enjoying himself. The two drummers belted out their rhythms giving the music the heartbeat that it’s known for. The band seemed a little non plussed at the start, but then standing next to the vibrancy of Adam Ant might make anyone look a little bland!
 
I didn’t know many of the first few songs which I now know were ‘Dog Eat Dog’, ‘Beat My Guest’, ‘Kick’, ‘Car Trouble’ and ‘Zerox’ but he really drew you in and it didn’t matter if you’d heard them before or not. Two girls came onto stage for ‘Deutscher Girls’ and Adam Ant seemed to enjoy being very theatrical with them. He obviously preferred his earlier music and said as much, but made money from the later music – that was the cue for ‘Stand and Deliver’.
 
I (and the rest of the audience) was blown away by ‘Kings of the Wild Frontier’. He said before that this song was written when passion and lyrics mattered. The drumming was fantastic and Adam Ant himself was on superb form. He had such an infectious grin and was very lively.
 
One story Adam told us was about why he often had 30 second intros of drumming. Apart from being his sound he said that it’s because back in the day DJs would talk all over the start of a record on the radio and people would maybe miss the title, so this way by the time the planks (his words!) had finished talking the record would just be starting! Then started up the now famous sound of the intro to Antmusic and the whole venue was singing along.
 
Before singing A.N.T.S. Adam said that this song was close to his heart and represented everything that punk rock meant – “whether jumping up and down pogoing or spitting.  Me, Jordan, Sid and all other reprobates used to go to clubs and play this song, which I have adapted for you tonight” A.N.T.S is Adams version of Y.M.C.A and was very amusing to see performed!
 
‘Lady’ also got an airing even though this was the b-side to his first single. It has always been one of my husband’s favourites, and Adam told us that this song used to get him into trouble like most of his songs did. He seemed to like playing the earlier ones from the ‘Dirk Wears White Socks’ era but he said it was the poppier ones that made him famous.
 
After a brief break the band came back on and Adam had done a quick change into a kilt. However on it were three lions on the back and a St George’s flag on the front. The crowd boo’d (in good humour) but Adam took it the wrong way and said “How fucking dare you boo me! I’ve got a song for you.” He starts to sing ‘No Fun’, obviously aimed at the crowd, and quickly moved into ‘Physical’ playing like a man upset – hard guitar riffs and spitting at the stage. Suddenly he threw the guitar down, gestured to the crowd and walks off. The band finished the song looking a little bemused and the crowd waited for more but he had gone, left the building, which is a pity because I think he would have got an exceptional goodbye from the crowd. Apart from the last couple of songs this was a most memorable night and nothing should detract from how good an entertainer he is.
 
 
Plastic Surgery
Dog Eat Dog
Beat My Guest
Kick
Car Trouble
Zerox
Deutscher  Girls
Stand And Deliver
Catholic  Day
Kings of the Wild Frontier
B Side Baby
Wonderful
Never Trust A Man
Cleopatra
Lou
Goody Two Shoes
Viva Le Rock
Christian D’or
Lady/Fall In
Antmusic
—————
 
A.N.T.S.
Prince Charming (not played)
Fat Fun
Press Darlings
—————
No Fun
Get It On (not played)
Physical
 
Words by Sally Morrison (and a few by Dod)

 

 

The Stranglers / Wilco Johnson / Mike Marlin (The Black and Blue Tour)
London Hammersmith Apollo Friday 11 March 2011

Insouciant Mike Marlin was the calm before the storm. On stage in a silk dressing gown and sipping a glass of wine he treated everyone to his own style of jazz-pop, including a unique take on the Bee Gees’ Staying Alive.

But it was the bulging, bug eyed Wilko Johnson of Dr Feelgood fame who certainly got ‘the show on the road’. From Barbed Wire Blues to She Does it Right, Wilko pumped out r’n’b brilliance through his customised style of simultaneously playing lead and rhythm on his guitar, while maintaining his frenetic, jittery off-the-wall actions. 

By the end of the set the audience, who ranged from 60 to 16, were hyped. As the lights went down and familiar Stranglers signature theme, Waltzinblack, throbbed out, the indefatigable band also known as The-Men-in-Black materialised on stage.

The band has come a long way since 1975 and certainly know how to play a dynamic set. They kicked off with the provocative I feel like a Wog, a condemnation of racial bigotry snarled out by now-well-established front man and guitarist Baz Warne, whose vocal dexterity can handle the gruff temperament of the likes of Hanging Around but also has the cadence required for Golden Brown and Always the Sun.  

Essentials such as Grip, and Duchess were all there as well as surprise rarities such as Dead Los Angeles and Tramp to the delight of the more hardcore fans. They also unveiled new song, Freedom is Insane. With its portentous lyrics, dirty thrumming bass line, swirling keyboards, and sung by the incomparable Jean-Jaques Burnel it a gem of a track bound for classic status.     

The sound of the Stranglers has obviously struck the right chord with the public and has helped them survive over 30 years in the business, picking up a dedicated cult following along the way. They are also one of the few bands left who can deliver quality rock’n’roll with edge which they proved once again on the night. See them while you still can because there won’t ever be another band like them.

Mark Ottowell


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MAY ALBUM REVIEWS

royalrepublic1

ANDY BLADE
LET’S BURN THE INTERNET DOWN
(Cherry Red)
Former Eater frontman back on fine form.
8/10

Though this doesn’t quite reach the heights of Andy Blade’s 2008 groundbreaking ‘Life Affirming Songs For Those With A Bad Attitude’, it’s definitely worthy of a place in your collection. The multi-talented chap plays and produces everything himself. He does it with endearing brio, humour and is quite happy to toss a sucker punch in the direction of the establishment when and where necessary, proving his ’77 punk spirit is very much alive and gobbing. ‘Paradise & Below’, ‘You Kill Me’ and ‘Electrified’, with their outspoken guitar, swirling effects and enigmatic vocals, are definite highlights but there’s still very little filler on there. Andy Blade has truly reinvented himself in recent years and is amassing legions of followers that were hardly out of nappies when he first got in front of a microphone.
Neil Anderson

BOB WAYNE
OUTLAW CARNIE
(People Like You)
Seattle outlaw country man with a punk attitude.
9/10

Armed with his leather vest, a thick accent and his Outlaw Carnies backing band of banjo, fiddle and upright bass players, Bob Wayne is the modern embodiment of the outlaw country spirit of Johnny Cash and Hank Williams. Alongside the likes of Hank III, he’s putting the spit ‘n’ blood back into country, with the likes of opener ‘Road Bound’, ‘Mack’ and ‘Everything’s Legal In Alabama’ telling tales of brawling, drink, drugs, trucks and guns, all while sweating a punk rock aggression. But he’s not just a one trick pony, with album highlight ‘Blood To Dust’ a more sombre, stripped down and melodic story about Wayne’s tough life. If you want to hear country with a true rebel sound then look no further than ‘Outlaw Carnie’. Bob Wayne tells it like it is, warts and all.
Ian Chaddock


BRIJITTE WEST AND THE DESPERATE HOPEFULS
BRIJITTE WEST AND THE DESPERATE HOPEFULS
(Devils Jukebox)
Authentic rock ‘n’ roll with a country tinge, fronted by New York punk kitten.
7/10

Former NY Loose babe Brijitte West is the perfect package. Back with her new gang of Hopefuls, this album is a feisty siesta of no-nonsense punky country rock. One moment you’re slammin’ tequilas with the playful ‘Hey Papito’ (on this issue’s covermount CD), the next you’re pogoing to the stonking ‘Not My Fault’, then you’re kicking back with the melodic country ballads ‘How To Be Good’, a duet with Jesse Malin. She absorbs the rustic twangs of Sheryl Crow with the Runaways grrl-power of Ms. Jett, then secretes nothing but unadulterated classic rock aura. The self-titled album isn’t ground breaking but it’s professional and full of anthems. They know what they’re doing, and they’re doing it with balls. Rock and fucking roll!
Nina Cresswell

CRASHED OUT
CRASH AND BURN
(I Hate People)
Geordie street rock ‘n’ roll, straight from the heart.
9/10

The Jarrow lads have done it again. ‘Crash And Burn’ is a shotgun filled with hard rock, balls-out punk, and nifty lyrics that will blow your brains out! Following the blinding ‘Pearls Before Swine’, the new album is a street punk masterpiece with a robust measure of classic rock licks. Chris Wright blast punk s out ‘Still A Fighter’, a heartfelt account of his boxing background, and ‘Battle Scarred’, a powerful military anthem, with nothing but genuine passion. Catchy, light-hearted tracks ‘Save Amy’ and ‘Feel Good’ are teamed with honest ballads ‘The Town That Died’, and the cheeky ‘Son Of A Gun’ with an end product that makes me proud to be from the North East. What I want to know is, who is “Cushy Butterfield”? She sounds like my kind of girl!
Nina Cresswell



DAVE PARSONS
UNSTABLE
(One Media)
Sham 69 founder’s fine second solo outing.
7/10

As founding guitarist with Sham 69, Parsons has long established himself as one of punk’s best players and tunesmiths, but this album contains much that wouldn’t sit happily in the Sham catalogue. It’s been a good while since his last solo album, 1996’s ‘Reconciled’, but, perhaps reinvigorated by the new Jimmy Pursey-less, but much more active, Sham, here he is with another (for now, it’s digital only though). Openers ‘Hope And Faith’ and ‘Framed’ are tuneful pop/punk with a glammy edge, while ‘Can You Here Me Now’ is a subdued number with acoustic guitar, piano and nice vocal harmonies. Elsewhere, ‘Another Way’ moves into robust metal, even hair metal territory, and though ‘Gotta Get Outta This Place’ is not an Animals cover, Parsons cheekily slips in a few bars of the classic. Well worth checking out.
Shane Baldwin

THE DEAD CLASS
STICK
(Antipop)
Pop-tainted grime from punk rock’s latest DIY investment.
8/10

These guys have been on the scene for five years and have already made their name on tour. It’s punk the way it should be, with fresh lyrics that differ from the normal psycho-politico, but with the smell of petroleum plus all the same. ‘Be Afraid’ is a psychobilly entrance, with the paranoid visions of a society gone mad rings linking from their previous release ‘Age Of Paranoia’. ‘Other Side Of You’ has a heavy metal undertone and coils of sardonic dark humoured vocals. On ‘Dirty Dick’ there’s a Dead Kennedys feel about the sleazy riffs and the masquerade of singer Villy. Single ‘Pulse And A Heartache’ deals a serious tempo adjustment. The Dead Class manage to intertwine pop punk and classic hardcore without losing anything in Americanisation.
Ayisha Khan


THE DESTRUCTORS / GRIPPER

LES FLEURS DU MAL
(Rowdy Farrago)
Split EP from the UK old schoolers and former singer’s new outfit Gripper.
8/10

The Destructors were one of the forefathers of the UK punk scene and this split sees pretty much nigh on the original ’78 line-up back together, complete with original vocalist Allen Adams. An anti-war lyrical stance (‘Third World War’) and some full-on riffage has them wrecking on their four tracks. New Zealand’s, Gripper’s link with the Destructors is their singer Neil Singleton replaced Adams on vocals back in the ‘80s. Their boisterous, four tracks are more tongue-in-cheek than their split partners but great all the same. Leaning more toward the foul mouthed bluesy punkage of Sick On The Bus, tracks like ‘Useless’ and ‘How’s Ya Farva’ are only a let down in the production department. A quality split from polar sides of the globe.

Miles Hackett

DISCO LEPERS
ROSE ALLEY INBREDS

(Shattered Debauchee Press)
More scattergun punk potshots in a C&W stylee from these self-styled “London Kidney Thieves”.
8/10

Rose Alley Inbreds is an intoxicating hybrid of Cajun, C&W, and rock ’n’ roll with a hefty pinch of punk attitude. Mercilessly lampooning all manner of cultural, social and political sacred cows and taboos alike, take the ‘Rhinestone Klansman’ for example, or the immensely hilarious ‘I Caught H.I.V. From A Dirty Phone Call’. Some of the songs may – no, will – offend the sensibilities of more sensitive souls, for instance ‘God Bless Mark David Chapman’ is a cheap shot at The Beatles, but scratch beneath the surface of the provocative titles and you’ll find some cleverly crafted lyrics that owe as much to wry, satirical observation as they do to being offensive for the sake of it.  The trick is not to take things too seriously.
Rich Deakin

THE DISRUPTERS 

GENERATION RETARD 

(Overground)

UK82 veterans still angry after all these years. 

6/10


The Disrupters are a Norwich based punk band who formed in late 1980. Originally influenced by the punk bands of the late ‘70s, the band was eventually drawn to the anarchist scene, attracting the attention of Crass, who included their track ‘Napalm’ on their ‘Bullshit Detector’ compilation. Having eventually split up in 1988, they made a well-received comeback in 2007 and, with a slightly revamped line-up, recorded this uncompromising album. If they were angry young men decades ago, the years have done little to calm them down as they rail against religious bigotry, corporate greed and child abusers. It’s not exactly easy listening by anyone’s standards, but as the band themselves point out “it is a dark album, but we live in dark times”.
Lee Cotterell

THE DOGBONES
THE DOGBONES
(Buzzsaw)
Edgy, chaotic glam-grunge with splashes of metal and riot grrl power.
8/10

From the ashes of Daisy Chainsaw and Queen Adreena come The Dogbones: a rollercoaster of frenzied screams and gritty rock over a  drum-heavy shadow of voodoo beats. Metal influences of blood-spitting track ‘Aneurin’ are undeniable and ‘All Your Friends (Are Going To Kill You)’ incarnates a schizophrenic episode wonderfully. ‘It Was A Lie’ is a dark, grimey gem and the album highlight. There’s a couple of disappointing tracks, with ‘Hey Chihuahua’ and ‘I Want Alcohol’, but they’re odd cracks in an otherwise grunge-glam work of art. Nomi Leonard shows Courtney Love what a grunge girl really is, seamlessly switching between haunting screeches, psychotic quivers and sweet riot grrl power. The Dogbones create a chaotic rocket that will blast you into another dimension.
Nina Cresswell

THE GODFATHERS
SHOT LIVE AT THE 100 CLUB
(Secret)
Essential, spunky rock ‘n’ roll live album celebrating 25 years as a band.
9/10

This CD/DVD is a perfect way to commemorate a quarter of a century of the Godfathers. The boys blast through a classic Godfathers set at London’s 100 Club, with 25 fan favourite songs, including ‘I Want Everything’, ‘Birth, School, Work, Death’, ‘This Damn Nation’, ‘Walking’ and ‘Talking Johnny Cash Blues’. In fact we get a double whammy of delight here because brothers Peter and Chris Coyne have reunited with old partner in crime, guitarist Del Bartle. They treat us to The Sid Presley Experience’s ‘Hup 234!’ and ‘Cold Turkey’, with powerhouse drummer Grant Nicholas’ great vocal harmonies. We have a couple of new sing-along anthems, with ‘Get Back! Back Into The Future! Going All The Way Home’ seemingly summing up the situation.
Shanne Bradley

JERRY LEE LEWIS
MEAN OLD MAN
(Decca)
Great balls of fire, he’s still (country) rockin’!
9/10


Rock ‘n’ roll’s original hellraiser may be in his mid-seventies but, judging from ‘Mean Old Man’, he’s still got it. Breaking through in the ‘50s with hits like ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On’ and ‘Great Balls Of Fire’, over half a century later Lewis retains his ageing snarl. There’s also a plethora of all-star guests, and amongst the musicians are nearly every Rolling Stone, Eric Clapton, Sheryl Crow and John Mayer, but the best include Slash and Kid Rock (on rock ‘n’ roller ‘Rockin’ My Life Away’) and Willie Nelson (‘Whisky River’). The tongue-in-cheek title track, penned by Kris Kristofferson, is a Johnny Cash-esque country rocker that shows his sharp wit. ‘Miss The Mississippi And You’ is just Lewis and his piano and it’s a poignant closer. He may be a mean old man but he’s still a rock ‘n’ roll legend.
Ian Chaddock

KNOX AND THE TRAILER TRASH ORCHESTRA
THE KNOXVILLE BOY

(Trashville)
Vibrators’ legendary frontman comes over all country.
7/10

Having played with first wave punk rockers the Vibrators for thirty five years, it’s refreshing to hear bona fide punk hero Knox teaming up with country band Trailer Trash Orchestra for an eleven track album of countrified goodness. From Vibrators songs given a stomping barroom makeover like ‘Baby Baby’ to a dark cover of the classic ‘The Knoxville Girl’, along with unreleased songs by both Knox and TTO frontman Grae J, it’s an album rich with instrumentation and storytelling. With pedal steel, fiddle, mandolin, harmonica, double bass, double guitar and drums accompanying Knox’s distinctive vocals, this shows another side to the veteran punk rocker. From an idea born in a North London art gallery in 2007 to this heartfelt album, it’s a must-have for any Vibrators or country fans. Next stop, Knoxville.
John Damon

LOS PEYOTES 

GARAJE O MUERTE
(Dirty Water Club)
Argentina’s mad dog quintet take on ‘60s garage corpse decadence.
5/10

The kings of South American garage punk hit back with their third LP but instead of fiery psychobilly that leaves a tequila, salt and lime aftertaste, there’s a dispelled rock ‘n’ roll seasoning churned out from a choppy Farfisa organ. The band has attempted to re-brand an outworn ‘60s garage that would have been alive and well in the smoky joints of their South American forefathers, but not even ’96 Lágrimas’ is able to revive an age gone by. They do however drive a catchy rhythm; ‘Connection’, an Inglés track on their bilingual mix, fuses dimensional strands of organ and thunder drum musings, before launching into an instrumental flair of unwired sound collections. ‘Rebelde’ is the highlight; warm tremolo guitars echoing raw vocal vivacity. It’s too difficult to resist the Latino pulse.
Ayisha Khan

THE LOYALTIES

SO MUCH FOR SOHO
(Devils Jukebox)
Real punk ‘n’ roll straight from the gutter.
7/10

An album that effortlessly channels punk forefathers the Clash, the Ramones and Dead Boys, ‘So Much For Soho’ is a killer 12-track of melodic sing-along punk ‘n’ roll. ‘Green Eyes’ is on this issue’s free CD and is a highlight, while the rest of the album doesn’t disappoint. ‘Two Ladies’ takes a more punkabilly thrust: deep rock ‘n’ roll bass and screaming guitar solos blast as Tom Spencer pulls off a psycho rasp akin to that of the legendary P. Paul Fenech. ‘30 Nage’ paints an all-too-real picture of original ’77 rockers growing old disgracefully. Four bonus tracks add a delicious dessert to a fresh mix of new age punk. Ex-Yo-Yos, Black Halos, Towers of London and Deadline members formulate a flawless line-up, and a gem for any punk rock collection.

Nina  Cresswell

MAMA ROSIN
BLACK ROBERT
(Gutfeeling)
Woozy, boozy Creole romper-stomping all the way from Sweden.
6/10

Incredibly, for a Swiss trio – Mama Rosin have distilled The Deliverance Experience to a hi-definition, fly-by tour of Louisiana’s backwaters, leaving you loose-limbed and lost in the badlands. It’s a feverish, sweaty blend that rocks and reels from the bare-knuckle, gumbo punk of ‘J’Arrive Pas A Dormir’ to the Bo Diddley rhythms and swamp-dwelling drums of ‘Bon Temps Roulet #3’ and the lumbering, lazy sway of ‘Quinze Jours Passes’. Every tune is so raw-rooted you can taste the delta dust between the tracks. ‘Black Robert is home-made, musical moonshine and something like sitting in on a Saturday night juke-joint jam. I’m all for woozy grooves and freewheeling wig-outs but a few too many drifting riffs and shapeless shakedowns muddy up an otherwise fiery collection of voodoo blues and campfire anthems.
Dave Collins

MAROON TOWN 

URBAN MYTHS
(Rockers Revolt)
8/10

For a band who have been around for over twenty years, Maroon Town sound remarkably fresh. The South London nine-piece were mainstays of the late ‘80s ska revival scene, releasing the groundbreaking ‘High And Dry’ album, which mixed Jamaican ska, rap and soul to tremendous effect. Since then they’ve travelled the globe many times taking their community music to the people and ‘Urban Myths’ plants them firmly back on the map. The songs strut and swagger with a new found confidence, complimented by the smooth female vocals mixed with the male rap attack. Opener ‘Ya Ya (Lemme Tell Dem)’ whips up a dancehall storm, ‘Latin Moshpit’ adds salsa rhythms to the party, ‘Bella Cosa’ incorporates a heavy reggae and dub vibe and ska instrumental ‘Bullit’ whips along at a fair pace. Maroon Town are back at the forefront of the cross-cultural sound clash. 

Andy Peart

MARSEILLE
UNFINISHED BUSINESS

(Gas Station)
Reformed NWOBHM band featuring ‘Art Attack’ axeman.
7/10

Depending on how old you, you’ll either know the name Neil Buchanan as guitarist for ‘80s hair rockers/metallers Marseille or as the presenter of ‘90s kid’s TV art show ‘Art Attack’. Either way, he’s certainly a great lead guitarist, peeling off some impressive licks throughout this comeback album. Having reformed in 2009, this is their first aptly titled new album. From the anthemic title track opener to the gang vocals and rock ‘n’ roll worship of ‘I Believe’ to the uplifting ‘Everyone Dies Young’, this is still NWOBHM through and through. Nowadays, with older bands trying to sound current and falling flat on their faces, it’s good to hear a band coming back and doing what they’re best at. Get out your air guitar and bang your head, Marseille have got unfinished business and, damn it, this is a lot of fun.
John Damon

NEW YORK DOLLS
DANCING BACKWARDS IN HIGH HEELS
(Blast)
7/10

Judge this third album from the rejuvenated 21st century ‘Dolls on its tracklisting, which includes three “baby”s, two servings of “fabulous” and a starter of “streetcake”, and you’d think the clean and consistent band had perfected popping out glam trash to the point of self-parody. Expecting ‘Round And Round She Goes’ grit ’n’ glitter rock however, this would be more accurately judged on the title it shares with a Ginger Rogers biopic. It‘s not that the ‘Dolls have learned any new tricks, rather rendered a rose-tinted, retro-fabulous record by skilling up on some of the oldest in the book. Their latent Shangri-Las love surfaces in swathes of shimmering ’60s harmonies, whilst elsewhere David Johansen reanimates crooner alter-ego Buster Poindexter. With an ironic lack of fast-paced fuel for the dancefloor, it’ll be interesting to see them match this mellow and atmospheric offering to old favourites onstage.
Alison Bateman

PHIL SCHOENFELT AND SOUTHERN CROSS
PARANOIA.COM
(Easy Action)
Darksider blues rock from Schoenfelt and friends.
7/10

Former Khmer Rouge man and Nikki Sudden collaborator, Prague-based Phil Schoenfelt has staked out his territory in the badlands of brooding blues-tinged rock, and this new offering – conceived and recorded in the wake of the ravages of Interferon treatment – is an appropriately dark-hearted affair. As the title would suggest, Schoenfelt’s current material seethes with paranoiac malaise, alleviated by the melancholic atmospherics at work on cuts such as ‘Forgiven’. Schoenfelt’s references are worn on his sleeve here – ‘Bitterman’ or the stunning ‘Bloodshot Eyes’ recall the troubled misanthropy of Nick Cave, while ‘Undertow’ taps into Joy Division’s icy magnificence. Not least, there’s a heartfelt tip of the hat to Iggy And The Stooges whose neglected classic ‘Open Up And Bleed’ is given a masterful working over here. A heartsick concentration of rocking-blues vitriol and regret.
Hugh Gulland

THE POSIES
BLOOD/CANDY
(Ryko)
Breaking a five-year hiatus The Posies return with sugar rush rock.
9/10

The band name sets the scene: a playground mantra with a black museum back story. The tunes tell the tale: sing-along songs of deep, dark deliciousness that get into your system. Like Jellyfish’s muscular younger brothers, The Posies specialise in constructing perfect pop confections, peaking with ‘She’s Coming Down Again’ tickling your ears with sugary hooks, harmonies and melodies. Whipping along like a Siberian wind, the album gear shifts through fidgety time signatures, layering Teenage Fanclub toplines over Mott The Hoople chants and Wings-style pocket-operatta. Ghostly girly guest vocals bring some silvery shimmer to The Posies’ twilight tones, with heavyweight ledge Sir Hugh Of Cornwall adding his man-in-black snap to ‘Plastic Paperbacks’. Blood/Candy is a song book of shadowy modes and sunshine super pop. 
Dave Collins


RANDOM HAND
SEETHING IS BELIEVING
(Bomber)
7/10

What can you really say about Random Hand that hasn’t been said before? ‘Seething Is Believing’, their third full-length, is another solid and brilliant album from the Yorkshire based ska punk outfit. From the first song ‘Tales Of Intervention’ to their final track ‘42 Days Off The Records’, they just play their hearts out, and you can really hear it and appreciate it. I don’t even like ska music, but I just couldn’t help listening to this album over and over again. 2011 should be a big year for Random Hand with this album and going out on tour with friends The King Blues. Make sure you grab this album, as it is one fine piece of work. You’ll be seething that more music isn’t as passionate as this and believing that Random Hand are one of the UK’s finest ska punk acts after hearing this.
Ian McCreery

RODEO MASSACRE
IF YOU CAN’T SMOKE ‘EM SELL ‘EM
(Smoky Carrot)
Accomplished retro rockers take us back with their ‘60s garage sound.
8/10

Psychedelia gets a 21st century sonic twist courtesy of the debut album of this seismic Swedish-French outfit. Fronted by the swaggering, sultry Izzy Lindqwister, a female prodigy of
former Johnny Thunders’ guitarist Stevie Klassion, Rodeo Massacre produce corrosive garage blues. Think Fuzztones with a dose of 13th Floor Elevators, with the ghost of Jim Morrisson in the background. Check out the driving ‘Women’, a slice of retro genius with the all the ‘60s-inspired frills and frivolities.
Songs like ‘Zombies Of Life’ and ‘Deadly Bite’ drip with steamy voodoo magic. Zorba, the co-founder of Rodeo Massacre, is also a fully qualified pharmacist which can only be a plus factor when a truly out of body gigging performance is the order of the evening. Psychedelia? They’ve got it bottled.
Neil Anderson

ROGER MIRET & THE DISASTERS
GOTTA GET UP NOW
(People Like You)
Pounding street punk.
8/10

It’s hard to believe that the Agnostic Front singer has been leading The Disasters for more than ten years now, but here we are with the band’s fourth album and it was more than worth the five0year wait. They’ve always been a force to be reckoned with, but the band have never sounded more passionate than they do here. Ultra-precise hardcore drums pound away at a dizzying pace, guitars generate a wall of sound layered with intricate licks, Miret’s formidable vocals are at once powerful and melodic and the backing vocals either soar to the ceiling or pin you to the wall with a footy-terrace roar. Opener ‘Stand Up And Fight’ is a weighty slab of honest street punk, while the title track nicely evokes the Clash, but there’s absolutely no filler here. First rate street punk.
Shane Baldwin

ROYAL REPUBLIC
WE ARE THE ROYAL
(Roadrunner)
Gut-busting rock ‘n’ roll from vivacious Swedish four-piece.
7/10

They are the Royal: a frantic comet of energetic indie slam-glam rock, and, no doubt about it, they’re gonna shatter this globe. Their eclectic musical tailoring is fabricated with shoes of The Hives, Electric Six’s undercrackers and shrouded in the leather jackets of the New York Dolls. RR’s debut single ‘Tommy Gun’ is a splicing of Franz Ferdinand and the White Stripes: chunky space-bass, rousing guitar twangs and drum beats with the power to concuss. Swathed with frontman Adam Grahn’s distinct hollers, the Swedish quartet are a barrel of explosive talent. ‘Full Steam Space Machine’ is jam-packed with thumping electro punk and psychedelic sing-along originality, and with tongue-in-cheek tracks like ‘Underwear’ and ‘Good To Be Bad’, it’s refreshing to see new-fangled rockers who don’t take themselves too seriously.
Nina Cresswell

SHIPPING NEWS

ONE LESS HEARTLESS TO FEAR

(Noise Pollution/Southern)

Kentucky post-punk experimentation.
7/10

Think post-punk and Louisville and the mighty Slint loom large (in fact, bassist Todd Cook played with the reunited version of that band at ATP). Shipping News have not escaped their influence, but there’s also a distinct nod to the more forceful Chicago sound of Naked Raygun, the Effigies or, more appositely, Songs About-era Big Black (especially closer ‘Do You Remember The Avenues’). It has the same looseness of rhythm and sonic cadence – especially in the Albini-esque vocals – but elsewhere the drawn-out riffs do indeed evoke something of Slint’s mighty ‘Spiderland’. Recorded live – the occasional ripple of applause being the only clue – ‘…Heartless…’ has genuine moments of visceral beauty, as on the instrumental ‘Half House’, on which they completely immerse themselves in a single riff.
Alex Ogg

THE SHOTGLASS KILLERS
GHOST OF AN EMPTY BOTTLE
(Devils Jukebox)
Transatlantic scuzzy punk rock fun.
8/10

Featuring current and former members of the likes of the Loyalties, Pussy Crush, Sweet Zeros, Gabba and the Classic Ruins, there’s no doubting that the Shotglass Killers have the experience and ability. Throw in a great, raw yet powerful production from the Damned guitar legend Brian James (who also guests on opener ‘He’s Got Style’) and you’ve got an album that draws on the likes of the Ramones, the Rezillos and Johnny Thunders. Gutter pop punk gems like ‘Be Someone’ and ‘Pixie (Rush Hour Go Slow)’ and the garage punk anthem and album highlight ‘Turn Up The Gain’ (on this issue’s free CD) show that, although influenced by the greats, they’re putting their own spin on their female-fronted assault. Raise your shot glasses in the air and slam them, here’s to your new favourite band!
Rachel Owen

SOCIAL DISTORTION

HARD TIMES AND NURSERY RHYMES
(Epitaph)
Mike Ness and co. with another punk ‘n’ roll diamond in the rough.
8/10

How many bands do you know that can combine punk, rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly as seamlessly and powerfully as the mighty Social D? Not many, if any. ‘Hard Times And Nursery Rhymes’ isn’t a big change for them by any means and it’s not their best album either (that accolade would still go to their raucous 1983 debut classic ‘Mommy’s Little Monster’ in my opinion), but it does show that they can still produce the good thirty years into their career. From the dusty instrumental opener ‘Road Zombie’ to the Americana meets gospel of ‘California (Hustle And Flow)’ and the countrified punk rock gold of ‘Machine Gun Blues’ and ‘Can’t Take It With You’, Ness is still telling his thrilling tales. Long may he continue.
Rachel Owen

TEENAGE FANCLUB
SHADOWS
(PeMa)
Hit and miss ninth album from Scottish alt-pop rockers.
6/10

Norman Blake and Teenage Fanclub have never tinkered too much with a winning formula, and here, five years on from their last release, they remain homaged to the gills to West Coast pop; to Brian Wilson, Alex Chilton, Roger McGuinn and to the original Postcard sound. ‘Shadows’ doesn’t have the ultimate staying power of their epochal ‘Grand Prix’ or ‘Bandwagonesque’ albums, but it does run them close at points. Not least on the album’s bookends. Opener ‘Sometimes I Don’t Need To Believe In Anything’ has an understated riff that collapses into rhapsodic harmony to thrilling effect, while closer ‘Today Never Ends’ is an instantly agreeable sonic daydream. Not everything within those two staging points is as compulsive, however, and there are times when whimsy threatens to suffocate the compositions.
Alex Ogg

THEE FACTION
AT EBBW VALE
(Soviet Beret)
Backing the USSR: R‘n’B (Reds and Blues) from Surrey based comrades.
8/10

With the Blue Meanies back in power, student riots, twitchy nuclear trigger-fingers (yes, you North Korea) and a right royal knees-up in the middle of debts, doldrums and redundancy – the return of Thee Faction couldn’t be better timed. A swinging Socialist collective from Surrey since 1985, these red beret rockers are back to rabble rouse your mind and agit-prop your pop. ‘At Ebbw Vale’ is the comeback manifesto and by Gorbachov it’s good. Twinning Dr Feelgood rhythms and Eastern Bloc rocking beats on the industrious riffing of ‘Union Man’ and ‘Conservative Friend’ alongside the brothers and sisters party chants of ‘Social Inclusion Thru Marxism’ – it’s the greatest red record since Lenin And McCartney’s ‘Снова в СССР’. The revolution starts here so get onboard and lend your ears to the cause comrades.
Dave Collins


TOWER BLOCKS
BERLIN HABITS
(Sunny Bastards)
The sound of Berlin’s street punk stays the same.
6/10

Tower Blocks bring to mind the best German street punk export Oxymoron. Although their songs are not as instantly recognisable, the commitment of Tower Blocks is not to question. The album relies on well-executed raw guitars, raspy vocals and big choruses and it is no surprise that we’re now dealing with the band’s fifth studio album. Songs like ‘Berlin Bombshells’ introduce double bass and uplifting backing vocals, while ‘The Fine Line’ shows that they also got the Anti-Nowhere League in Germany. ‘The Last Punkrock Scandal’, which features Sucker from Oxymoron, sounds like Blocks’ equivalent to the Sex Pistols’ tongue-in-cheek anthem ‘The Great Rock ‘N’ Roll Swindle’. There is a slight occasional flirt with metal or rockabilly and a token ballad, but overall the band does not step too far away from the rather rigid street punk/Oi-formula.
Jyrki “Spider” Hamalainen

THE TWILIGHT SINGERS
DYNAMITE STEPS
(Sub Pop)
Widescreen dustbowl-blues from the former Afghan Whig.
7/10

Following up on 2006’s ‘Powder Burns’, one-time Afghan Whigs vocalist Greg Dulli and his current outfit the Twilight Singers resume their exploration of sepia-tinged Americana with ‘Dynamite Steps’, a mini-epic of post-grunge drifter-blues in which Dulli’s well-fitting persona of truckstop lounge-lizard comes into its own. Not that ‘Dynamite Steps’ hits the target
every time; portions of the record are pleasantly tasteful rather than outstanding, but there’s enough of the latter to merit your attention here. Whether adopting the Nick Cave-style of balladry on ‘Last Night In Town’, or unleashing the searing guitar hailstorm of ‘Waves’, when Dulli hits the seam he’s clearly aiming for, the results are worthwhile. Enjoyable flourishes such as the Hendrixy guitar break in ‘On The Corner’ add some unexpected flavour, and the honky stylings of funk-gospel elegy ‘The Beginning Of The End’ are curiously effective.
Hugh Gulland

TWISTED SISTER
CLUB DAZE – VOLUME 1 THE STUDIO SESSIONS / YOU CAN’T STOP ROCK ‘N’ ROLL
(Armoury)
7/10 & 7/10

When Twisted Sister couldn’t find themselves a record deal in the early 80’s they decided to go it alone and release recordings themselves. The first of these single recordings were ‘I’ll Never Grow Old Now’ and ‘Under The Blade.’ These two singles are on this reissued album of the live recordings of these songs. It was these songs that pushed Twisted Sister to play over 50 bars with attendance ranging from 800-5000 all without a record deal. This album shows how they managed to do this with their own blend of arena heavy metal that made Twisted Sister a force to be reckoned with. ‘You Can’t Stop Rock ‘N’ Roll’ is another re-issue, this time of their 1983 second studio album. Filled with arena-filling anthems, it’s hard to argue with.
Ian McCreery


UK SUBS

WORK IN PROGRESS

(Captain Oi!)
Original punk heroes return with a spanking new feel.
8/10

Why hasn’t Charlie Harper been knighted yet? Irrefutably a prime pioneer of the first wave of punk, the Subs’ new album, ‘Work In Progress’, confirms the rock ‘n’ roll veteran isn’t slowing down anytime soon. ‘WIP’ brings in tides of an oxymoron that works: fresh, old school punk rock. The band, now on letter W in their alphabet of albums and the original Subs vibes stand strong, reminiscent in places of classics like 1980’s ‘Brand New Age’. The album, crashing into life with ‘Creation’, is a cocktail of raw fuck-off riffs, chest-pounding drums and sing-along chanting. ‘This Chaos’, a street punk anthem co-written with Rancid’s Lars Frederiksen, and a Subs-esque take on ‘Strychnine’ by The Sonics, make this album a corker for die-hard Subs disciples and new age rockers alike.
Nina Cresswell


VARIOUS ARTISTS
LEADER OF THE STARRY SKIES: A TRIBUTE TO TIM SMITH
(Believers Roast)
Friends and admirers of Tim Smith pay their respects to the man behind the Cardiacs.
7/10

It has been said that one Cardiacs song contains more ideas than most other musicians’ entire careers. So where do you begin when paying tribute to Tim Smith? How to capture the epic scale of his twisty but perfect tunes, all pulled together with flawless musicianship and punk rock power? On this suitably glittering album, assorted fans – Magic Numbers, Oceansize and others – celebrate Smith’s work and support his continuing treatment for the stroke he suffered in 2008. While some tread a Cardiacs-like path (Ultrasound’s jaw-dropping ‘Big Ship’), those who reimagine Smith’s self-proclaimed “lovely tunes” as orchestral ballads or traditional acoustic romps confirm most effectively that this is a man who just wants to share his world of wonder.
Mr Spencer

WINNEBAGO DEAL
CAREER SUICIDE
(Cargo)
Cranked up punk ‘n’ roll from Oxford’s finest.
9/10

I first encountered Winnebago Deal back in 2002 when I booked them to support Jesse James in Bath on the strength of a raw but impressive demo. Having blown the roof off the building and the headliners off the stage, they remain to this day one of the loudest bands I have ever seen. Eight years on and they’re still dong the business. ‘Career Suicide’ is their third full-length and they’ve not messed with their tried and tested Black Flag meets Black Sabbath formula except to vary the pace and add a little more melody. From the opening sucker punch of ‘Heart Attack In My Head’ through a blistering ‘Ain’t No Salvation’ to ‘Can’t See, Don’t Care, Don’t Know’, it’s just blistering rock ‘n’ roll with no filler.
Lee Cotterell

WIRE
RED BARKED TREE
Pinkflag
Atmospheric new offering from the giants of art punk.
8/10

Currently operating as a slimmed-down trio comprising long-term members Colin Newman, Graham Lewis and Robert Grey, Wire’s long and rich musical odyssey continues with this latest outing, a beguiling delve through their unique artistic vision. Never a group to settle for handed-down rock clichés, Wire’s questing nature continues to bare fruit, and while ‘Red Barked Tree’ remains identifiably Wire throughout – ‘Clay’, for instance, wouldn’t sound out of place on any of their earlier albums – the material here pushes in diverse directions. There’s the stop-start rhythmic jolts of ‘Now Was’, the understated atmospherics of ‘Please Take’, the metronomic two-chord mantra of ‘Two Minutes’, the Stooge-esque kinetics of ‘Smash’, and the lush dream-pop landscapes of ‘Adapt’. As intriguing and enigmatic as ever, Wire’s meshing of
pop, noise and art is an ongoing inspiration.
Hugh Gulland


WITCHDOKTORS

$3 HOOKER

(Tribal Vibes)
Cheap and dirty gothabilly from South London grease quartet.
7/10

Though their voodoo rock ‘n’ rollin’ rhythms may not have yet penetrated all four corners of the country, the Witchdoktors have been mainstays of the London underground scene for close to a decade and ‘$3 Hooker’ marks their newest in a long line of bone-shaking releases. Steady paced and merging ’60s garage sounds and surf with the standard revved up rockabilly, the album arguably lacks the speed of your average wrecking release, but its spooky ambiance will have you spellbound in seconds. Prime listening for fans of the likes of Vince Ray or even The Fleshtones, the Witchdoktors are trashy, twiddly and a little bit terrifying. Get listening to this hypnotic graveyard boogie because the Witchdoktords like ’em cheap and undead.
Tom Williams
 

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