ADMIRAL SIR CLOUDESLEY SHOVELL
DON’T HEAR IT… FEAR IT!
Hastings three-piece take you on a mind-melting prog/hard rock trip.
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.
Watch out Yankees, those Johnny Rebs are back, y’all.
‘New Blood’ sees badass, good’ole Southern boys Antiseen attempt to get all lowdown ’n’ dirty with country and blues styles that really only come into their own on the psycho hoedown of ‘Black Eyed Susie’. Elsewhere, the North Carolina hellraisers Antiseen, who have been around since the early ’80s, take punk and metal and grind their bones through the mincer to produce the kind of sandpaper-on-larynx (un)subtlety and blood ’n’ guts rock riffing that might have even made their old compadre GG Allin smile. That said, if you still take track titles like ‘One Shot, One Kill’ and ‘Exploding Barbed Wire Deathmatch’ as anything more than pastiche then you’re obviously as crazy as this bunch of motherfuckers. Great cover of the Ramones’ ‘Chainsaw’, though.
SOME OF THE PARTS
Former Polecat proves he’s musically multifaceted.
This album is a collection of tracks recorded at Boz’s studio in Portugal and shows that the former Polecat and Morrissey right-hand man knows no musical boundaries. It seems that some of the tracks are little more than demos, but you wouldn’t know it had you not been informed. If you are just a fan of the man and all he does then you will no doubt love all of this. As you would expect from working in his private studio, the songs are polished, though still do keep that raw edge and are mostly self-penned. If you picked this up because you love Boz for his rockabilly guy credentials there is less here for you but variety is the musical flavour of this album. From lounge to jazz and country – it’s Boz showing what he can do.
BRIAN SETZER’S ROCKABILLY RIOT
LIVE FROM THE PLANET
Literally live from the planet.
Brian Setzer is without a doubt one of the best and most influential rockabilly guitarists ever. This is his Rockabilly Riot show recorded live, with each track from a different venue the world over between 2011/12, with various line-ups including Slim Jim Phantom drums. The performances are captured and performed to perfection but that’s where the doubts creep in. Their version of ‘Slow Down’, originally one of the purest, breathless rockabilly songs ever to come out of Sun, is a neutered imposter and, at worst, rockabilly by numbers. Those doubts were soon smithereens when they rip into Carl Perkins’ ‘Put Your Cat Clothes On’. Carl’s surely spinning at a joyous 78rpm in his grave to Setzer’s incendiary solo. When the band lets rip the album’s pure rocking excellence, luckily they rip more than not.
I WAS A TEENAGE TRANNY
Fresh new female-fronted injection of sleazy Detroit punk rock ‘n’ roll.
Fronted by a former Hooters waitress called Colleen Caffeine, the Motor City quartet blast through a solid, fishnet stocking-tearing punk rock effort. The opening title track sets out a standard for the unexpectedly testosterone-heavy sonic filth assault. The band echoes the likes of the Plasmatics and even X while blending together elements from L7, in the form of ‘Thimble Tits’, and the Ramones. Songs like ‘Touch Me’ remind us of Ron Asheton’s post-Stooges excursion ‘Destroy All Monsters’, while the peculiar ‘Oprah’s Sweet Tampon’ kicks in your guts like a Motorhead song. The whole album embodies the greased up and in-your-face attitude so typical to the Detroit greats and, although nothing groundbreaking, it makes a welcome new addition to those wishing to expand their already whiskey-soaked record collection.
Jyrki “Spider” Hämäläinen
DANCING ON SPIKES
Bath ska punk veterans do it again.
Over the years Dick Lucas must have written the equivalent of ‘War And Peace’ as singer with the Subhumans, Culture Shock and Citizen Fish and the good news is that he’s still at it and still going strong. Citizen Fish’s latest mini-album is the usual collection of mashed-up ska and punk, with a trombone and trumpet thrown into the mix for good measure. You never get a bad Citizen Fish song but best of the six tracks on offer here are the anti-religion ‘Beyond Belief’, with its tongue in cheek “My God’s bigger than your God” chorus, and ‘Unemplode’, where Lucas exposes the financial crisis for the world of smoke and mirrors it really is. Another quality Citizen Fish release and a nice taster for their UK tour with the Levellers in November.
THE DELIVERANCE OF MARLOWE BILLINGS
Former Green On Red frontman’s latest solo offering.
With his old band Green On Red having been part of LA’s Paisely Underground (Dream Syndicate, Bangles etc.) and pioneering the alt-country sound that was a blueprint for the likes of Wilco and Calexico, Dan Stuart has been a seminal artist since the ’80s. The long-awaited follow-up to his 1995 debut solo album, ‘Can O’Worms’, ‘The Deliverance…’ apparently details the implosion of a marriage, the resulting escape from a NYC psychiatric facility and a planned suicide in Mexico, thankfully abandoned due to the natural beauty of the country. Now living in Southern Mexico, the enigmatic, charismatic singer-songwriter is on fine form with this set of shimmering and fragile yet swaggering songs. Unpredictable on opener ‘Can’t Be Found’ and the delicate ‘Gonna Change’ and Mexico seeping into the raw sounding ‘Clean White Sheet’ and ‘Gringo Go Home’, this is an absorbing listen led by Stuart’s distinctive vocals and lyrics.
ROCK AND ROLL IS BLACK AND BLUE
Another stirring reading of the garage gospel.
In 16 years Danko Jones have rarely deviated from the massive riffs and male gaze-filtered lyrics that have served their influences for decades, and six albums in they still show the charisma and commitment to save the formula sounding worn.
Legs’ – a slice of sleaze more AC and ZZ than Rod – exemplifies the brilliantly simple dynamics, with Jones piling praise for skyscraper heels and pins “10 foot tall” on JC’s earthy, down ‘n’ dirty bass. New drummer Atom Willard shines come the surly strut of ‘Don’t Do This’, but the trio’s collective best is saved until last – when it’s so good they play it twice. Reprised, and resplendent with gospel singers and organs, closer ‘I Believed In God’ cranks up Jones’ preacher-esque presence in a divine finale.
Debut EP from this Chicago punk supergroup.
The word supergroup is often bandied around undeserving acts but in this instance it’s safe to say the title hits the nail on the head. Here you have Derek Grant from the Alkaline Trio and Joe Principe from Rise Against amongst the ranks, but it’s with the addition of former ’80s punk legend Vic Bondi, Articles Of Faith’s vocalist, fronting the group that it becomes apparent that this isn’t what it first appears. Here are five tracks of raw, abrasive and pissed off hardcore punk of the highest calibre, with Bondi snarling at the helm with a vitriol that’d give Keith Morris’ OFF! a run for their money. From the raging opener ‘All Your Satellites Are Failing’, through the stomp of ‘This Is A Stick Up’ to the antagonistic closer ‘All The Way Down’, this EP is a powerhouse of some of the finest hardcore punk rock to be released this year. Essential.
THE DEAD FORMATS
AT SIXES AND SEVENS
“Mod punk” debut full-length from rising Essex boys.
You wouldn’t guess from the sound of ‘At Sixes And Sevens’ that the Dead Formats released an EP of Gallows-esque hardcore punk just three years ago. This album is far more influenced by the likes of The Jam, The Buzzcocks and The Sex Pistols. With the rousing dual vocals of Darren Ditton and Francis Waller, vocally and stylistically rough and smooth and a double attack, they come on like a gang straddling punk and Mod, with the likes of opener ‘Just What The Doctor Ordered’, the choppy ‘Losing Track Of The Numbers’ and the impressive, recession-inspired ska tune ‘Condemnation’ (which owes more than a little to The Specials’ ‘Ghost Town’). But the stand outs are the infectious single ‘Freaks’ and the uplifting closer ‘Dancin’ All Through The Night’, dripping with British melody-meets-attitude brilliance.
I BET ON SKY
The sound of J. Mascis’ alt-rock veterans ageing gracefully.
Marking the Massachusetts band’s tenth studio album since their debut back in 1985, ‘I Bet On Sky’ proves that the trio are still a unique and seminal act. Having reformed in 2005 after eight years away, this new record is the first since 2009’s ‘Farm’. Mascis’ voice is less strained and the guitars less fuzzy and distorted than the band in their ’80s heyday but the song writing on display on the likes of ‘Watch The Corners’, ‘Rude’ and album highlight ‘I Know It Oh So Well’. Strangely, Mascis and co. sound almost happy and upbeat on this album, but they pull it off as they change over time whilst staying true to their roots and original sound. It’s far from their best but they’re as passionate as ever.
WE COME IN PEACE
New album from the outspoken Canadian punk stalwarts.
You know what? The world would be an empty place without bands like D.O.A. Joey Keithley and co. check in for what is their seventeenth album and it shows no sign of them letting up. They crank out their inimitable, fired up hardcore punk as well as they ever have. Tracks like the pounding ‘Boneyard’ are instant stomping anthems, while their covers of The Beatles ‘Revolution’ and Toxic Reasons ‘War Hero’ are giving a right royal D.O.A. makeover. This isn’t going to reinvent the wheel but the addition of bagpipes on ‘Dirty Bastards’ is a nice touch. It’s to D.O.A.’s credit that in their thirty odd years as a band they haven’t really turned in a duff album and ‘We Come In Peace’ is no different.
DOWN BY LAW
CHAMPIONS AT HEART
First album in nine years from the Boston melodic punk legends.
The city of Boston and its most notorious punk export Dave Smalley are synonymous with one another. His history is second to none in terms of the influential bands he has been in – DYS, Dag Nasty, ALL. Down By Law is probably his most melodic outlet and after nine years between albums he can still kick it, as ‘Champions At Heart’ proves. Containing no less than sixteen songs, this album is punchy, catchy and still sees Smalley with his eye on the ball. Besides some of the lyrical cheesiness of tracks like ‘Popcorn And Coke’, there are some real gems here and even though songs like the call to arms of ‘Punk Rock United’ are a little contrived, they can be forgiven due to the heartfelt delivery. A long-overdue resurgence.
GO KART MOZART
ON THE HOT DOG STREETS
Weird yet not quite wonderful retro pop/glam from Birmingham.
A hybrid mix of retro synthetic sounds, novelty record homages and ’70s glam references, touched up with snatches of contemporary pop, ‘On the Hot Dog Streets’ has to be the most perplexing album to reach these ears in some time. The brainchild of ex-Felt and Denim mainman Lawrence, and destined to quite possibly attain cult status in the future annals of pop culture, the album holds far more lyrical relevance, with its seminar of social observations, than its sweet shop of sickly tweets, sparse musical shelves and overall quirkiness. Annoying, intriguing, catchy and plain daft in equal parts, it’s hard to not be drawn into the supersonic pop party. ‘Blowin’ in a Secular Breeze’ is Ray Davies on bon bons, ‘Mickie made the Most’… well he never came up with anything like this!
HIPBONE SLIM / SIR BALD DIDDLEY
HIPBONE SLIM VS SIR BALD
Smooth-headed rocker in double album shocker!
A prolific protagonist of the European garage rock circuit, Hipbone Slim, aka Sir Bald Diddley, seems to have one foot in the ’50s and the other in the ’60s respectively. A veteran of numerous 7” singles, many of which appear for the first time on CD on the first half of this set, Slim leads his Kneetremblers (featuring legendary drummer Bruce ‘Bash’ Brand) through twenty classics of rockabilly, fuzzy blues and, on ‘Time To Kill’, the odd Buddy Holly-style pop nugget. Over on disc two, alter ego Sir Bald picks up the slack on a series of Modish garage and freakbeat numbers with his various bands including The Kneejerk Reactions and The Legs, featuring members of Spanish garage prime-movers Doctor Explosion. Stand back, this is ballistic stuff!
THE JIM JONES REVUE
THE SAVAGE HEART
London rock ‘n’ roll hellraisers add new beats to their passion.
When Jim Jones and his sharp dressed men hit the scene four years back with the explosive self-titled debut and its 2010 follow-up ‘Burning Your House Down’, sounding like they’d worn out many a Little Richard and Tom Waits records in their time, they suitably spread like wild fire. There’s still plenty of the good time rock ‘n’ roll on this third album. “A little of the old in, out, in, out” leers Jones, to a big, sleazy riff pn opener ‘It’s Gotta Be About Me’, before he howls over the likes of the piano-infused ‘Where Da Money Go’. However, on the likes of the stomp of ‘Chain Gang’, ‘Eagle Eye Ball’ and especially haunting closer ‘Midnight Oceans & The Savage Heart’, there’s stronger hints towards producer Jim Sclavunos’ bands (the Bad Seeds and Grinderman), with a more measured, darker angle adding depth to their sound.
THE LAST RESORT
LIVE AND LOUD 2011
The original Oi! boot boys alive and kicking.
At times live albums seem to be just pointless cash ins but this is actually a handy addition. While the production on some of their records leaves a lot to be desired, the sound here is pristine and clear and you get the full effect of old Oi! classics such as ‘Violence In Our Minds’, ‘Working Class Kids’ and the infamous anti-police anthem ‘ACAB’. 12 years after their first show, the London skinheads are sounding tighter and tougher than ever. While maybe lacking a traditional singing voice, Roi still delivers the lyrics with conviction and passion. This is nearly an hour’s worth of big punk rock guitars, catchy sing-alongs and working class romanticism. This boot stamping, fist pounding piece of plastic will surely delight the Resort boot boys.
Jyrki “Spider” Hämäläinen
LEE BAINS III & THE GLORY FIRES
THERE IS A BOMB IN GILEAD
Sweet (and sour) home Alabama.
Punk rock put through a mid-’70s, Stones-style wringer rears its head with all the swagger you’d expect on second track, ‘Centreville’. When they don’t forget that should be their raison d’être, as on ‘Magic City Stomp!’ and ‘The Red, Red Dirt Of Home’, Alabama four-piece Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires are at their most effective. The elements of soul, country and garage rock that make up the rest of the eleven cuts on ‘There Is A Bomb In Gilead’ unfortunately lack that definitive, unique something that separates the best from the rest. A forthcoming tour with Alabama Shakes might allow them to absorb that little extra magic and propel them beyond solid and interesting into the section marked ‘vital’.
THE LEGENDARY RAW DEAL
Rockabilly from the darkside.
There is no mistaking the sinister tones of Paul Fenech providing the vocals for this EP, but you couldn’t confuse this music with the Meteors. The genre is rockabilly and atmospheric with it – plenty of twang from the guitar and banjo keep the opening track smoking. The Dickie Thompson composition immortalised by Bill Haley, ’13 Women’, is given the treatment, featuring excellent slap bass and echo-laden guitar work. ‘Who Cares What You Call Rock N Roll’ is Fenech giving poseurs the bird to a familiar tune that had me wracking my brain. I gave up but it is what I call simply rock n roll. ‘One Track Mind’ concludes and goes a fair clip, sounding nearest to the Meteors and reminding me a bit of ‘Charlie, Johnnie, Rawhead and Me’. Great stuff.
25 YEARS – STILL MAD
(People Like You)
A bone-stomping retrospective.
Quarter of a century ago, while Berlin was still divided and draped in the Iron Curtain, three mischief-minded young punks decided to form a rock ‘n’ roll group, unaware that in a few short years it would grow to be one of psychobilly’s most lauded acts the world over. Mad Sin are one of the rare treasures of the genre, rating among the rankest when it comes to lyrical content but still accessible. Celebrating an applaudable milestone in their career, this CD/DVD combo is a compendium of all that’s best about the band and, in addition to the 25 live tracks, this bad boy features a crypt-load of bonus gubbins, including interviews, tour documentary and plenty of unreleased footage. A must for any wrecker worth his salt and undeniably the perfect showcase for a band at the top of their field.
BYE BYE BAYOU
Hoots, toots, tear-ups and shakedowns from Sweden’s home-brewed gumbo garage band.
If you haven’t been involved with the Mama Rosin story so far, ‘Bye Bye Bayou’ is the place to pitch in. Producer Jon Spencer (yes, he of the Blues Explosion) has firmed up the band’s formerly loose grooves into a bluesier, boozier blend – knocking the needles right into the red. ‘You Broke My Stuff’ could be Hawkwind in a bar brawl, ‘Sorry Ti Monde’ is Stooges-style gumbo punk powering along like Iggy’s ‘Search and Destroy’ in deepest delta dwelling, fuelled through amp-quaking voodoo swells and surges. And hurrah for a rowdy shout to my home county, Essex, on ‘Wivenhoe’. But it’s not all puff and bluster; the mellow downs of ‘Mama Don’t’ and ‘Story of Love and Hate’ ( a homage to Leonard Cohen) are harvest moon, late night lullabies.
RAILROAD BLUES ANTHOLOGY
Sultry banjo blues from this streetwise pseudo-Swiss songwriter.
He may have been born and raised near Boston, Massachusetts but it’s on the streets of Bern, Switzerland that acoustic troubadour Menic really cut his teeth. The former fiddle player for celebrated blue-grass rockers Zeno Tornado, Menic’s debut solo effort encompasses a bevy of smoky, musical styles but places its major focus on Mississippi blues and the tested traditions of the Northern Atlantic. Featuring a multitude of unplugged instrumental input – from mandolin melodies to banjo ballads – the record drips through its twelve eclectic tracks with a certain piquant and panache, maintaining a rich palette throughout and a level that’s near impossible to achieve on a debut record. With a brooding hint of rockabilly thrown in for good measure, this one’s most applicable to fans of filthy geetar slinging and dirty desert rhythms.
DOING THE LORD’S WORK
(People Like You)
Unholy psychobilly from the London originals.
Back with a whole lotta bass, bone-rocking rhythms and bloodshed, psychobilly legends The Meteors hardly need any introduction, as exemplified by the phenomenal release of their twenty-somthing’th album ‘Doing The Lord’s Work’. Opening with a brilliant B-movie instrumental and continuing in the band’s tortured and tested hellraising style, the album thrums throughout with steely, cowboy rock ‘n’ roll melodies that are sure to send shivers down your spine. With an ambience that falls somewhere between a Sergio Leone spaghetti western and a Dario Argento slasher, it’s amazing that, after over thirty years of rockin’ and wreckin’, with an incalculable number of releases under their belt, that the true ‘Kings of Psychobilly’ can still churn it out like the old days. But I guess the title stands for a reason.
THE WORLD IS OURS VOL. 2: ANY PLACE CRAZY AS ANYWHERE ELSE
Quality live souvenir for the discerning die-hard fans.
Motörhead are old hands at knocking out decent live albums, having set the bar pretty high back in 1981 with ‘No Sleep Til Hammersmith’. Unfortunately live albums are often seen as a crafty way for record companies to squeeze extra pennies out of hapless punters. To avoid this, a band has to deliver something special so the fans don’t feel ripped off. So Motörhead have delivered a high quality product, consisting of two CDs and a DVD recorded at Wacken, Sonisphere and Rock in Rio on 2011’s ‘The World Is Yours’ tour. What’s this album got that previous live Motörhead offerings haven’t? Well, newer material mainly, but the DVD’s the closest thing you’ll get to Lemmy actually playing in your living room, warts ‘n’ all.
ESCAPE FROM THE AUSTERITY COMPLEX
Eclectic post-punk melting pot of styles.
This is punk eclecticism interspersed with guest appearances from punk luminaries like TV Smith, Steve Ignorant and members of Rubella Ballet and The Cravats. Hailing from Dublin, Paranoid Visions (song themes often supporting their moniker) have been around since 1981 and while the uninitiated may expect 69 minutes of apocalyptic thrash monotony, the reality is somewhat different. Defying punk type-casting with influences ranging from hardcore, punk/metal, Wire and Killing Joke, there is an air of free-spirited idealism throughout, echoing the communal house of Crass. Song titles such as ‘Nuclear Victims’ and ‘Recession Club’ may sound like anti-Thatcher era anthems, but remain just as potent today. Contrasting from 54 second hardcore (‘Problem’) to 10 minute mini-epic ‘Recession Club’ – with a plethora of tempos and styles in-between – file under uncategorizable… and that’s no bad thing!
PETER AND THE TEST TUBE BABIES
Old school punk rockers doing covers ala punk pathetique.
By just looking at the merry fellows on the cover you know what you’re getting into. While we’re waiting to get ‘Banned From The Pubs’ again we get served sixteen tracks of tongue-in-cheek covers ranging from the Trammps’ old dance hit ‘Disco Inferno’ to the absolutely hilarious cover of Electric Six anthem ‘Gay Bar’. And what would a cover album be without Elvis Presley and ‘Devil in Disguise’? All the songs have been bastardized into the Test Tube formula of silly, belly rocking punk rock, which is something you might not expect from an album heavily relying on Stock Aitken Waterman compositions. When pissed this will be a great laugh and by the time you reach the prog rock Focus obscurity ‘Hocus Pocus’, you’ll be in stitches.
Jyrki “Spider” Hämäläinen
PHOENIX CITY ALL STARS
TWO TONE GONE SKA
London International Ska Festival/Pama International man returns with a new band.
Sean Flowerdew’s Phoenix City All Stars have produced an album of covers from the 2 Tone era, all done in an authentic 1960’s Jamaican style. It’s an interesting concept. Whereas the 2 Tone bands all borrowed heavily from ’60s Jamaica, the Phoenix City All Stars reverse the trend and take songs from the late ’70s back to where the seeds originated from. It’s akin to the Skatalites playing the Specials ‘Stereotype’ and Madness’ ‘The Prince’, with the sweet vocals of Dave Barker and AJ Franklin taking on Elvis Costello’s ‘I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down’ – a pleasant surprise having almost come out on 2 Tone back in the day. Anyone who covers ‘Ghost Town’ has to be brave but Flowerdew knows and loves this genre so well that there are few better qualified.
VERSUS THE DRUNKEN GAMBLER
Inventive dub/reggae producer’s latest.
Prince Fatty’s work with the Skints and Hollie Cook have already been some of the highlights of 2012. ‘…the Drunken Gambler’ finds Fatty in rude health, following his previous Western themed album, and the songs are held together through a theme, much like those mighty legendary producers such as Prince Jammy and Scientist used to do in the ’70s. Cook’s striking vocals are here on a couple of tracks, regular cohort Horseman is a constant throughout whilst George Dekker from the Pioneers, Dennis Alcapone and Jamaican singer Winston Francis also all make appearances. The mix between new songs and classics works like a dream and John Holt’s ‘Ali Baba’ couldn’t be in better or safer hands. Prince Fatty remains a master of the dub landscape serving up such rich pleasures for dub aficionados.
THE REVEREND PEYTON’S BIG DAMN BAND
BETWEEN THE DITCHES
Devilish jet engine Delta Blues.
Considering these guys are comprised of only three members, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the name ‘Big Damn Band’ is a little misleading. But what this Brown County, Indiana trio lack in size they more than make up for in style and skill. Led by distinctive vocalist/guitarist Reverend J. Peyton, who wields 1930s guitars on stage, the trio have released a string of albums and ‘Between The Ditches’ is one of the finest, with single ‘Devils Look Like Angels’ proving why. Dealing in vintage biker blues, the type designed for hotrod highway-cruising of the most bodacious kind, the band have managed to harness all the smoky rhythms of the Mississippi Delta and rev them up a notch. Invoking every degree of the hot desert sun, ‘Between the Ditches’ is a countrified tour de force and another welcome effort from the Indiana gang.
OI! OI! AUSSIE ROCK N’ ROLL LIVE
Err…Australian Oi! Live.
Street punk outfit Rust were formed in Sydney, Australia in 2005 by former members of punk bands Rule 303, Crucified Venus, Crankcase, Black Rose and World War 24, releasing their self-titled debut album soon after. A second album, ‘Black Rats’, appeared the following year, and in 2009 the band not only released their most recent album, ‘Lean Mean Street Machine’, but toured over here, including a well-received appearance at Rebellion. This pounding, relentless new live album was recorded at the Excelsior Hotel, Sydney in 2010. Old school Oi! and street punk rarely had this level of pace or intensity, but many of those old bands had a certain underlying tunefulness, and the lack of it here is only emphasised by covers of the 4-Skins classics ‘Chaos’ and ‘A.C.A.B’. Still great, ear-splitting fun though.
NEVER TO BE TAMED
Wild indie rockers from the Greater Manchester area.
At times sounding like a curious combination of the White Stripes, Oasis, Stereophonics and the Arctic Monkeys, it’s clear Slydigs aren’t averse to expansive guitar-led tunes. But there’s a distinct 1960s R&B vibe about their sound too, just check out the brass section on ‘Bang, Bang My Bullet Was Gone’, and Dean Fairhurst’s sublimely soulful vocals throughout. Slydigs are one of the most catchy new bands I’ve heard in ages: the new single ‘The Love That Keeps On Giving’, and the bouncy title track both bear all the hallmarks of bona fide indie rock anthems. Commercial potential is high then and as the beckoning finger of mainstream success draws them ever nearer the big time, I don’t doubt for a moment that Slydigs will be snapped up by a major label sooner or later.
SINGING DOWN THE GOVERNMENT
A twelve point musical manifesto.
Don’t shake your money-makers citizens – shake your agitators, as Thee Faction return for strike three in their War of Position. Following in the boot steps of sweaty rock and prolers: MC5, the Feelgoods, Crass – Thee Faction, kick out the jams going hammer and tongs through a twin attack of supercharged blues and fight-the-power pop. ‘Soapbox’, ‘GDH Cole’ and ‘The Kids’ are piston-efficient anthems with pulse-pumping horns from Brass Capital. While ‘Singing Down the Government’ could be the best song Dexy’s never wrote. Marching with the drilled efficiency of cartoon ants, Thee Faction have come to steal the government’s political picnic, reclaiming it for the masses.
THE BLOOM AND THE BLIGHT
Long overdue fourth album from the San Francisco duo.
Vanishing from our radar screens somewhere after 2007’s ‘2Gs’ album, Two Gallants had long since been assumed defunct round these parts. Thankfully, this idiosyncratic folk-punk-blues duo has reconvened, picking up the threads of where they left off with a clattering, kinetic batch of new songs that make up ‘The Bloom And The Blight’. The sense of unease which pervades from the opening bars of ‘Halcyon Days’ abruptly detonates into a raging chorus, Tyson Vogel’s fearsome percussive storm propelling Adam Stephens’ lashing fretwork and his faintly biblical wordplay. While ‘2Gs’ always packed more clout than one could reasonably expect from a two-piece, these new cuts find the pair slamming it out with increased jarring vigour. Whatever frustrations they’ve had to wrestle with over a five year absence, over tracks like ‘Ride Away’ and ‘Winter’s Youth’ a liberating release can be heard.
COME OF AGE
Sanitized second album from London indie rock titans.
Let’s get one thing clear – The Vaccines aren’t reinventing the rock ‘n’ roll rulebook with their new record. The charity shop clothes loving retro rock ‘n’ roll of the likes of The Strokes, The Drums and The Arctic Monkeys are obvious comparisons. Following last year’s platinum selling ‘What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?’ debut album was never going to be easy for them and sadly they fall flat on their faces. They obviously love everything from ’50s rock ‘n’ roll to ’80s pop but from the straight-forward opening single ‘No Hope’ to second single ‘Teenage Icon’ (“I’m no teenage icon”, sings frontman Justin Young) and through to ‘Ghost Town’ (thankfully not a cover) and the atmospheric ‘Weirdo’ there’s decent moments. But it seems like Young and co. are trying to be so cool all the time that this is totally polished and free from passion. Shame.
NEVER FORGIVE NEVER FORGET
Superb old school Oi!
The Warriors began in 1982, essentially an extension of the Last Resort when that band split. Originally it carried over all the members of the Resort, just adding a different drummer, but has since evolved in a bewildering number of line-up changes, so that at times I’m sure I’ve seen them when no Last Resort members were even present. Though the Resort were best known with Roi ‘Millwall’ Pearce on vocals, the first singer was Graham Saxby, who has also been leading the Warriors on and off since Roi left. New album ‘Never Forgive Never Forget’, produced by the original Vibrators bassist Pat Collier (and the band), is a bit of a stunner – stomping street punk with the thunderous drums, rolling bass and Saxby’s scary vocals given that glint of tuneful guitar sparkle that typified the best of the original Oi! bands.
WAVES OF FURY
Sax, drums and rock ‘n’ rage are the musical motifs for this debut.
George Orwell wrote “If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever”. Waves of Fury bring you the sound of that future. A Molotov cocktail of raincoated post-punk, industrial funk and early ’80s ‘own-label’ scuzz, twitching with fidgety riffing and blending together echoes of shoegazer angst, Motown beats, Grebo grit, The Fall and forgotten Peel favourites the Inca Babies (‘Grunt Cadillac Hotel’). And hurrah for the saxophone revival, one of rock’s genetic building blocks since Little Richard first tore it up. It’s no surprise to see the album was entirely written (and produced) by singer/guitarist Carter Sharp, whose banshee bellow is something of a statement styling – think Muse meets Billy McKenzie. Although input from impartial production ears could only help to enhance and round out the band’s sound.
THE IMAGE HAS CRACKED
Pioneering Cockney agit-punk reissue.
However you view the musical content of this reissue, it’d be hard to disagree with sentiments stating that Alternative TV founder Mark Perry possessed bottle by the barrow full. Formed during 1977, in the crucible of punk’s first wave, Perry chose to obstinately steer clear of bandwagon jumping and the increasing amount of ‘career punks’ to produce scratchy, Cockney-voiced, experimental and always brutally honest tunes that proved both refreshing and, at least at times, grating. As was the case with Crass, the originality and pure pioneering spirit of ATV surpasses the musical content of the band, so while this collection (the original debut album plus 11 bonus cuts) is occasionally challenging it’s a vital document of a pivotal time and almost guaranteed to polarise opinion. And that can only be a good thing.
THE BRIAN SETZER ORCHESTRA
THE DIRTY BOOGIE
Breakthrough 1998 third studio album from The Stray Cats frontman’s swing revival/jump blues band.
Following his widespread success in the 1980s with his ’50s rockabilly revival band The Stray Cats, he again enjoyed success at the end of the ’90s thanks to his 1990-formed band The Brian Setzer Orchestra’s ‘The Dirty Boogie’ album. More specifically, it was their hit cover of Louis Prima’s ‘Jump Jive An’ Wail’, originally from Prima’s 1957 album ‘The Wildest!’, that propelled them to success. Alongside a Gap ad that featured the Prima original, it spread the swing revival of the late ’90s/early ’00s. More covers of ’50s/’60s songs (Stuart Hamblen, The Skyliners, Bobby Darrin, etc.) are included, as is ‘You’re The Boss’, made popular by Elvis Presley and Ann-Margaret, and here featuring guest vocals from No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani. This reissue shows that 14 years later, ‘The Dirty Boogie’ will still get a room hopping!
THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES
Eavesdrop the legendary Sun archives.
This is the ultimate boxset for any fan of Carl Perkins at Sun Records. The five CDs contain everything that survives from the years Carl recorded at Sun that got left in the can. It is a fascinating fly-on-the-wall experience from October 1954, when the Perkins band made the trip to Memphis from Jackson, Tennessee to put down some super-charged hillbilly. Studio chat from those early sessions is included when the boys discuss Elvis – it wasn’t fiddle player Bill Cantrell’s sort of stuff. It was soon Carl’s though. Around a year later ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ was cut in three takes. This box isn’t cheap or exotic either, but the 134 booklet and the music, including 18 cuts of ‘Put Your Cat Clothes On’, are all you need for the ultimate Sun session experience.
THE LUXURY GAP: COLLECTOR’S EDITION
Ware and Marsh prove there’s life after the League.
The true breakthrough album for original Human League members Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh. Heaven 17 had been struggling to make an impact on the charts whilst their then arch adversary Phil Oakey and his new look Human League were virtually running them. However, ‘The Luxury Gap’, their second album with vocalist Glenn Gregory completing the trio, is considered a true pop masterpiece. There were two top five hits, including the timeless ‘Temptation’ that still sounds as fresh as the day it was recorded. This collector’s offering also includes a raft of extended mixes, promo videos and more. ‘The Luxury Gap’ reached number four in the charts first time round and was arguably the band’s finest hour. Other slices of pop personified include ‘Crushed By Wheels of Industry’ and ‘Key To The World’.
HEAVY METAL KIDS
Third and final album from Gary Holton’s pre-punk reprobates.
Something of a missing link in the Brit scene’s glam punk divide, Heavy Metal Kids may have been the closest we ever got to a New York Dolls of our own, eliciting a shock-horror reaction to their (in retrospect, fairly amiable) bovver-boy schtick, and building a longstanding reputation that’s far outweighed their record sales. 1977’s ‘Kitsch’ naturally failed to ignite the charts; while Gary Holton’s Dickensian barrow-boy charm had pointed the way for UK punk’s frontmen, the cod-classical stylings of John Sinclair’s keyboards – see track 1, ‘Overture’– must’ve caused a few sniggers. With the benefit of 35 years’ distance, such preposterousness is central to the Kids’ charm, and ‘Kitsch’ sounds brawny and unexpectedly fresh. Numbers such as ‘Chelsea Kids’ and near-miss ‘She’s No Angel’ justify their place in Brit rock history.
GOLD WATCH: 20 GOLDEN GREATS
30th anniversary retrospective of the Aussie guitar slingers.
With gloriously trashy sleeve art recreating the feel of those tack-o-rama 1970s comps, this self-released Gurus anthology ties up twenty of the band’s career highlights, all the way back to 1982’s debut single, ‘Leilani’. The ’70s kitsch element is not entirely misplaced; there’s a hefty dollop of Glitter Band going on in the mix of the aforementioned cut, and glam-period bubblegum stylings surface at points throughout. Not that there’s anything frivolous about the Gurus’ body of work; slice follows slice of muscular-but-melodic guitar pop, with the consistency seldom wavering over cuts such as ‘My Girl’ and ‘Death Defying’. Bringing us up to date is new single ‘Use-By Date’, a gritty rocker which blows out of the water any doubts as to the band’s continuing vitality.
NOSFERATU / WOLF
A double whammy deal, highlighting the black and white of the former Stranglers frontman’s solo music.
He didn’t become a full time solo artist until 1990, but over thirty three years Hugh Cornwell has built up a back catalogue of fifteen own-name albums. Two are twinned together on a reissue from BGO – 1979’s ‘Nosferatu’ is Hugh’s first solo spin-out, the album chimes of confinement and claustrophobia, hinting at a reluctant band membership, with the cover of Cream’s ‘White Room’ being a burst of moonlight through the album’s atonal angles and shadows of PIL, Eno and Bauhaus. This is the sound of new wave, industrial and post-punk all in flux. By contrast 1988’s ‘Wolf’ skips along through a musical meadow of sunshine synth-pop. Imagine Matt Freur with a smiley upbeat style (unlikely, but stick with me). Even the ol’ honky tonking of Jools Holland pops into play on ‘Cherry Rare’. This release captures the dynamics of Hugh Cornwell – a professor of punk with a pop sensibility.
IAN DURY AND THE BLOCKHEADS
LIVE AT ROCKPALAST 1978
Lord Upminster and Co. captured at their creative peak.
This performance was recorded in Cologne for the famed German TV show and is a fascinating live snapshot of the classic Blockheads line-up, not long after the release of ‘New Boots and Panties’. Understandably, the aforementioned debut album makes the majority of the set, along with a handful of singles and lesser known tracks like ‘I Made Mary Cry’ and ‘You’re More Than Fair’. The band are as tight as a drum skin but aren’t adverse to a spot of improvisation, particularly Davey Payne’s highly unique way with a saxophone. Ian Dury’s onstage banter alternates between being matey, malevolent, rude and downright eccentric, but never dull. Long deserved UK chart success was soon to follow and it’s not hard to see why on the basis of this outing.
FROM THE KNEES OF MY HEART: THE CHRYSALIS YEARS (1979-1981)
Sprawling four CD collection chockfull of extras and bonus tracks.
Bolstered by the return of on-off collaborator Mick Ronson, and representing a particularly purple patch in Hunter’s solo career, the first of two studio albums, ‘You’re Never Alone With A Schizophrenic’, is the lynchpin of this collection. Peppered with Mott classics and Hunter solo favourites, ‘Welcome To The Club’ – one of two live shows – also packs a mighty punch. But ‘Ian Hunter Rocks’, the live New York recording, good as it is, misses Ronson and sounds a bit tired. The other studio album, ‘Short Back ‘n’ Sides’ is certainly not short of ideas. But even the addition of Mick Jones from The Clash, as co-producer and on guitar, can’t save it from godawful synth-drum overkill at times and a typically overblown 1980s sound production.
THE GREATEST: THE NUMBER ONES / COUNTRY CLASSICS / GOSPEL SONGS / DUETS
Four collections from the new ‘The Greatest’ anthology series to celebrate what would have been the Man In Black’s 80th birthday year.
9/10 / 7/10 / 7/10 / 8/10
‘The Number Ones’ features 19 Sun Records and Columbia song that hit the top spot in the country charts – from 1956’s ‘I Walk The Line’ to 1984’s ‘Highwayman’, showing how Johnny Cash’s music was successful across decades, as does the accompanying DVD. ‘Country Classics’ is 14 tracks of his own country tracks (‘Delia’s Gone’) and covers that he made his own (‘(Ghost) Riders In The Sky’), where as ‘Gospel Songs’ focusses on Cash’s spiritual side (‘I Was There When It Happened’, ‘Amen’). ‘Duets’ is like a who’s who of his friends, from wife June Carter Cash and sister Anita Carter to fellow Highwaymen Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan and more. Four different sides of a country music legend.
When is King Kurt not King Kurt?
King Kurt were there at the forefront of the 1980s psychobilly scene without actually really being psychobilly. What they were though was great fun. From issuing singles in various formats; including with scratch and sniff covers, upsetting easily offended record shop owners with album titles like ‘Big Cock’ (outrageous, eh?) to actually appearing on ‘Top Of The Pops’ and hitting the charts, everyone loved King Kurt. Except The Meteors, who had T-shirts made showing their rat persona being fucked, and venue owners who found beans, vomit and flour hard to clean up. This isn’t that King Kurt, this is the reformed version with just original singer Smeg at the helm and other musicians. This live CD/DVD captures this line-up in 2003. It’s okay but it’s not got the spirit or abandon of 1983.
THE ONE AND ONLY: DESPERATE CHARACTER / KITE / ELECTRIC LANDLADY / TITANIC DAYS (Salvo) ’The One And Only’ anthology series of late ’80/’90s Croydon pop singer’s first four albums.
7/10 / 8/10 / 6/10 / 5/10
Sadly Kirsty MacColl is remembered in the mainstream for her duet with Shane MacGowan for The Pogues’ drunken Christmas classic ‘Fairytale of New York’ and the controversial boating incident that killed her. However, these four reissues prove she was an accomplished, charming and witty singer-songwriter in her own right. Her critically acclaimed 1981 debut ‘Desperate Character’, with the cheeky hit ‘There’s A Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis’ and the swing jazz of ‘The Real Ripper’, was followed by her finest work on 1989’s second album, ‘Kite’, including the single ‘Free World’, her cover of The Kinks’ ‘Days’ and two songs written with Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr. Third album, ‘Electric Landlady’ (1991) was a breakthrough in the US due to the hip hop-influenced hit single ‘Walking Down Madison’ and fourth album, the sadly aptly titled ‘Titanic Days’ (1993) followed, with the soaring lead single ‘Angel’. All these reissues come with lots of bonus material and highlight why MacColl at her very best.
MANIAC ROCKERS FROM HELL / DON’T TOUCH THE BANG BANG FRUIT
(Secret) / (Anagram)
The Meteors live and re-released.
7/10 / 6/10
Recorded in 2004 at Hobbits Nightclub in Weston Super Mare, the ‘Maniac Rockers From Hell’ CD/DVD captures The Meteors in loud and lairy form, giving their loyal ’Kattle’ exactly what they crave. The setlist spans their long career, taking in classic ‘In Heaven’ era material like ‘The Crazed’, ‘Death Dance’ and ‘Rockabilly Psychosis’ via old favourites like ‘Mutant Rock’ as well as later material like ‘King Of The Mutilators’. ‘Don’t Touch The Bang Bang Fruit’ was originally released in 1987, after the initial shockwave of the UK psychobilly movement had begun to wane, with The Meteors remaining the main flag bearers. It does, however, contain one of the band’s more inspired covers, namely a rocking version of the Stranglers’ ‘Go Buddy Go’.
Early oddity to test fans’ faith.
A synth pop anomaly in Ministry’s catalogue, this 1983 debut contains no trace of the savage industrial metal to follow. As the reissue sales sheet listing Jourgensen’s faux-British accent and later denouncements of ‘With Sympathy’ as Arista Records-engineered chart fodder, it‘s no ‘lost classic’, but gives good value treated as a curio. The hideous human resources/human affection metaphor of ‘Work For Love’s icy vocal delivery, dusted in sparkling keys, could keep friends playing ‘guess the ’80s act’ for hours without getting any warmer. Meanwhile, the inlay image of Jourgensen and Stephen George looking as squeaky clean as the production is some testament to what time and hard drugs can do for an artist. Almost worth exploring solely for the “I can’t believe it’s the same band that recorded ‘Just One Fix’” factor.
FROM HELL TO TEXAS – TOUR EDITION
Dirty rock from grizzled stateside veterans.
14 years ago Nashville Pussy released their debut album, the delicately titled ‘Let Them Eat Pussy’. As expected, said collection wasn’t known for subtle sensibilities and lilting melodies. During the ensuing decade and a half these native Georgians have continually fired out deep-fried, dirty rock ‘n’ roll and 2009’s ‘From Hell To Texas’ (now reissued with a live set slapped on too) resolutely fails to deviate from that blueprint. With lyrics covering drinking, ball shaving, drinking, drugs, drinking, world famous sluts and drink driving, this hard living, Grammy winning (yes, really) quartet know what they like and play what they know. Occasionally their snotty, balls-out rock veers closer to, say, Poison than the surely intended territory of Poison Idea (or even the mighty Motorhead), but if no-nonsense, unrepentant filth rock is your thing, you could do much worse than wallowing in Nashville Pussy’s wake.
PHANTOM ROCKER AND SLICK
PHANTOM ROCKER AND SLICK
What the Stray Cats did next.
When the Stray Cats split for the first time in 1984, Brian Setzer went solo while drummer Slim Jim and Bassist Lee Rocker hooked up with former Bowie guitar legend Earl Slick in PR and S. The results were decidedly underwhelming. This reissue of their 1984 album may include a cameo from Keith Richards, but most of the ten tracks are standard country rock, or over-produced, bland rock ‘n’ roll. Only the single ‘Men Without Shame’ is a real standout here, with a rocking rhythm section and Slick’s guitar soaring over the top. If the remainder of the tracks had matched that, it would have been a great album. And just what the hell was Slim Jim thinking of with that permed hair do?!
Wendy O. William’s shock punks misfire.
Former stripper Wendy O. Williams and her shock troops the Plasmatics had crashed their way into the UK charts in 1980 with debut album ‘New Hope For The Wretched’, blowing up cars and TV sets at Hammersmith Odeon, flashing her tits along the way. But where their debut was a noise fest of punk and metal, 1982’s third album and debut for Capital records, ‘Coup D’Etat’, was a more straight-forward metal collection. Kicking off with the risque ‘Put Your Love In Me’, the songs here just aren’t memorable enough to back up the sensationalism, and with Scorpions producer Dieter Dierks giving it an uncomfortable sheen, ‘Coup D’Etat’ failed and Capital dropped them. Wendy’s 1984 solo comeback single ‘It’s My Life’ was far more raucous but unfortunately she took her own life in 1998.
DOCUMENT: 25th ANNIVERSARY EDITION
Rock veterans review own history by reissuing platinum album.
Even though R.E.M. split up after three decades of rock and indie rock, fans can still indulgence in nostalgia thanks to their latest offering. By putting out a remastered 25th anniversary edition of 1987’s album ‘Document’, this double CD collection does not only include their fifth album, that features hit singles such as ‘It’s The End Of The World As We Know It’ and ‘The One I Love’, making it a platinum record with more than one million sold copies, it also comes with an unreleased live recording of a concert in Utrecht/Netherlands. A great way to celebrate a classic record and an (already) much-missed band. A document of the Georgia college/alt-rockers at their finest, this is the sound of Michael Stipe and co. playing to their rawer strengths.
SIGN OF THE TIMES
No nutritional value to be had from this 1976 album.
It’s become a creaky cliché to point an accusatory finger at stadium ‘dinosaur’ bands as a trigger for the epidemic outbreak of punk. But sappy white-suited ’70s pop; Showaddwaddy, The Osmonds, Brotherhood of Man – all committed crimes against music that incited the teenage rampage of spit and safety pins. So too The Rubettes – the nowhere men of that decade: too old for the teens, too late for the glammers and too straight to rock ‘n’ roll. And when all of those scenes have played out – what else can a (not so) young boy do? Turn to half-hearted, reheated Americana of course. Some may argue it’s unfair to say that this pap-pop is why punk burned like an inner city riot in the charts, but pap-pop like this is exactly why it did.
THE ART OF REBELLION
Re-issue of the 1992 fifth album from the seminal LA hardcore crew.
The enigmatic and often controversial Suicidal Tendencies were always leaders and not followers and ‘The Art Of Rebellion’ is probably the most experimental album in their extensive back catalogue. Released around the time the band were a regular fixture on arena support slots to the likes of Metallica (their bassist later joined them), this album is soaked in a bitter melancholy on tracks like ‘Nobody Hears’ and the foreboding ‘Asleep At The Wheel’. Their metallic tinged upstart anthems are also present too, with ‘Gotta Kill Captain Stupid’ the most notable. Recorded during their more ‘rock’ period, it’s not really a metal or a hardcore record. That’s the beauty of ST, they just do what the hell they like, take it or leave it. This isn’t their finest hour but it’s still worthy of this re-issue.
SATURDAY NIGHT TRENCHFEVER
Retrospective discography from these glaringly overlooked ’80s punks.
Only ever officially releasing one single, Trenchfever came and went during 1988 to 1992 leaving the aforementioned 7” and a string of compilation tracks. Formed by former Destructors vocalist Neil Singleton, drummer Jason Cook and Paul Condon (who left to concentrate on Blaggers ITA thus spelling the end of the band), this CD release is a compilation of every track the band ever recorded, right down to their demos. It’s pretty raw in places but is great slab of snotty, spikes and boots punk rock that only the UK knows how to produce. Spanning nineteen tracks, this is another meticulous back catalogue release from the chaps at Boss Tuneage and, even though it’s over two decades old, it still holds up and is relevant today. If you were into the Destructors or Blaggers ITA, you by you could well do with picking this up.
GS I LOVE YOU / GS I LOVE YOU TOO: JAPANESE GARAGE BANDS OF THE 1960s
Two volumes full of Eastern guitar promise!
7/10 / 7/10
Although the ’60s beat boom set in motion by the Fab Four took a couple of years to hit the Far East, Japanese youth took to it with gusto, fully tooled up with mop tops and cheap guitars. If you’ve read Julian Cope’s excellent ‘Japrocksampler’ book, many of the names – The Out Casts, The Spiders, The Jaguars – may be familiar, if not the sounds. These compilations provide excellent ammunition for your ears. While some of the earlier songs are as weedily inoffensive as The Beatles at their most saccharine, the fantastically trebly sound quality throughout packs added punch: all cavernous reverb, biting guitars and fizzing cymbals. Later years ushered in vaguely mind-bending freakbeat and psych-pop, to much more thrilling effect.
THE RAMONES HEARD THEM HERE FIRST
Songs Joey and Dee Dee taught us.
Ignoring the slight sense of deja vu one gets with Sireena’s ‘Deep Roots Of The Ramones’ disc so fresh in the memory, Ace Records have done their usual pristine job here in trawling the archives, in this case for the dusty originals of the numbers covered by the Ramones over the course of their career. Bringing together such diverse sources as The Trashmen, The Beach Boys, Sonny and Cher and The Troggs, this comp provides a fascinating insight into the gas that powered that Ramones songwriting machine, and serves as a highly infectious party mix too. From ‘Let’s Dance’, we’re taken through a veritable Beat Club of ’60s pop greatness, to the darker territory mapped out by Iggy’s Stooges. Perhaps most atypically, we have Louis Armstrong’s ‘Wonderful World’, with which Joey effectively bowed out when his illness loomed.
THE VARIOUS ARTISTS
One of the most confusingly named bands’ bafflingly titled 1980 album.
No, this isn’t a compilation album. Or a solo album. However, it is the witty 1980 power pop/new wave album from the band The Various Artists. Originally from Birmingham and based around brothers Jonjo (vocals/guitar) and Robin (guitar/vocals/keyboard), members were also simultaneously in The Art Objects, from which The Blue Aeroplanes emerged, to confuse you further. This 15 track album, rounded out with five live tracks, certainly touches on 2 Tone elements on tracks like ‘Unlucky In Love’ and stand out ‘Hard Luck Stories’ but they, and the rest of the record, are ’80s power pop that draw heavily from Elvis Costello (acknowledged by Jonjo in the booklet), The Police and The Smiths. ‘Unofficial Secrets’ is a powerful song about sexual oppression at home and another highlight. ‘Solo Album’ is still an infectious listen today.