Monthly Archives: June 2014

UNDERGROUND ARMY PRESENTS – THEE OVERDOSE / THE DREGGS / THE ZENITH COMPLEX / SPAT, ‘LIVE IN THE STATION BAR, HAWICK’

Unlike my first drive in torrential rain to Hawick for an Underground Army gig, the weather was much drier this time; although there was some drama when I passed a car that looked very close to catching fire (smoke was billowing from under its bonnet, but as there seemed to be plenty people already in attendance I opted to drive on rather than add to the congestion). After thoroughly enjoying an evening in The Station Bar back in October last year with No Thrills, Splinter, Spat and The Zips on the bill, I was very much looking forward to another equally exciting night.

The line-up might have been different but the night followed a similar pattern; dedicated and willing local volunteers pooling talents and resources to ensure that people could appreciate something a bit different from the usual live music that seems to predominate in the Scottish Borders. Folk music and tribute acts are certainly just as dedicated to providing a great audience experience, and undoubtedly have a valid place; but for those who want to experience something a bit ‘rawer’ and ‘edgier’, the Underground Army have provided a wonderful alternative. Four bands played in the upstairs room on the last day of February; Thee Overdose travelled up from Cumbria and were billed as ‘old school punk rock ‘n’roll’, The Dreggs came from Fife to provide their brand of ‘punk rock’, local band The Zenith Complex added something different to the mix with their ‘heavy rock’, whilst another local band Spat closed with another dose of ‘punk rock’.

Thee Overdose’s bass player Jason managed to encapsulate the mood of the evening with his Exploited t-shirt – “f**k the system” on the front and “punk’s not dead” emblazoned across his back. It may have been a sleeveless t-shirt but he compensated with two full tattooed sleeves. In contrast, guitarist Mike struck an equally memorable presence with his combats, cropped hair and impressive beard. They played an energetic set, so energetic in fact that Jason managed to break his bottom string and had to complete the set courtesy of a loan bass from Spat.

Whilst Thee Overdose might have a heritage (even if not not the original line-up) dating back to 1997, The Dreggs were fresh and performing live for perhaps just a fifth time – although guitarist Rik and drummer Sean had played with Splinter during my last visit to The Station. With vocalist Lynne, they performed an engaging set with powerfully delivered vocals – a couple of excellent X Ray Spex covers went a long way towards underscoring some of their influences. Spat’s Haley joined with both of the first two bands to augment the vocals, once with Thee Overdose and again with The Dreggs on ‘Identity’ accompanied by Cozzy with his ‘bone’; trombone that is. Although not in evidence on the night, I have to say that my graphics background really appreciates the logo that The Dreggs have opted for – think of a large chain of bakery outlets!

The Zenith Complex provided a slight digression from the overt punk onslaught as they performed a number of longer numbers, certainly living up to their ‘heavy rock billing’. Andy’s guitar work was expertly accompanied by Laura’s bass, whilst Todd’s driving drumming was most definitely enhanced by the awesome sound provided by the most amazing battered and broken large cymbal! The Dreggs may have included a self-deprecating number, ‘Nae C**t Love’s The Drummer’, but I have to say that I have a definite soft spot for the drummers’ contributions – nothing during this evening led me to change this opinion.

The whole evening was marked by a truly happy and friendly atmosphere. The audience were clearly enjoying themselves – the punk sensibility was quite obvious from the selection of t-shirts, doc martens and tartan bondage trousers. Willing volunteers manned the merchandise stall, whilst others were clearly happy to joke about, with much friendly banter in evidence, along with the swapping of headgear. Between sets, the room became quite quiet due to the rush to step outside to enjoy some ‘fresh air’, but everyone returned promptly for the start of the next set.

Finally, it was time for Spat to take control of the speakers, and they certainly didn’t disappoint. I found it very encouraging to see and hear the basic guitar, bass and drums line-up being augmented by the inclusion of a trombone, and Cozzy absolutely has the personality to ensure that his contributions added to the overall effect. In addition to the trombone, Tazz on bass and Ryan on drums provided a solid foundation for Hay and Ainz to add their tight pairing of guitars. Hay clearly relishes the limelight and was thoroughly enjoying herself throughout the set. The ‘fun factor’ was enhanced by the inclusion of a cover of ‘Nellie The Elephant’ in the style of The Toy Dolls, before closing the set just after the midnight curfew with their excellent ‘Snobs’ complete with its infectious “oi, oi, oi” chorus. I’m already looking forward to my next visit to catch Spat play live, sadly I’ll have to miss their planned gig in Paisley at the start of April – marathon to run in Brighton!

For a further flavour of the evening check out the excellent set of PHOTOS by Patrick Rafferty and great VIDEO by The Zenith Complex.


HOT HEAD SHOW ‘PERFECT’

When setting up the initial text file for my reviews I have a routine – after typing in the artist name and album title I will add a question mark to reserve the space for the main body text, and then proceed to list tracks and individual musicians. Having set the file up and listening to ‘Perfect’ a number of times I found myself tempted to leave this review as simply a string of question marks! Hot Head Show have succeeded in stumping me; I’m really not sure what to make of this album – having said that, the fact that I persisted and played it a few times must mean something. My first thoughts were to recall the output of Frank Zappa’s Mothers Of Invention, and Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band (minus the Captain’s distinctive vocals), whilst also thinking about a ‘less comedic’ Bonzo Dog Band, but to leave my thoughts there would not do justice to this incorrigible divergent offering of tracks that include lyrics such as, “as cool as a wet brassiere removed in the rain, we must stop meeting this way”.

At times it sounds very much like an improvisation session where individual members of the band seek to explore, and incorporate, as many different musical styles as possible. I do imagine that a live performance by Hot Head Show would be a very memorable experience. I don’t imagine, however, that I will regularly return to individual tracks from this album; but as an opportunity to take a break from the comfort blanket of the familiar and predictable – this seems to be just ‘perfect’!

1/ Kansas

2/ Bethany

3/ Bang Now

4/ Hello Doctor

5/ Bodie Doesn’t Take It Sitting Down

6/ Some Money

7/ Little Kitty

8/ Fingers

9/ Bangfish

10/ Unbearable Lightness Of Bang

Jordan Copeland – guitar & lead vocal

Vaughn Stokes – bass & second vocal

Betamax – drums & third vocal

Jonah Brody – organs & pianos & low/high vocal


CORKY LAING & THE PERFECT CHILD ‘PLAYING GOD’ (Original music from ‘Test: The Rock Opera’)

On ‘Record Store Day’ a couple of years back I visited ‘Media Mania’ in Berwick upon Tweed and came away with a number of items; included was a copy of the double vinyl of The Who’s ‘Tommy’. Although this had been preceded by some ‘concept albums’ I seem to remember it being promoted as the first ‘Rock Opera’; I certainly remember how excited we were around the time of its release. With the appearance of ‘Playing God’ it seems that the concept of ‘Rock Opera’ is still alive. Legendary drummer from Mountain, Corky Laing, has thrown his hat in the ‘RO’ ring, and with his pedigree I was expecting something special. Initial listening helped to remind me how important it is to avoid trying to review anything on only one hearing. I found it hard to muster any enthusiasm at all, around twenty minutes in I was tempted to eject the disc and move on to something else but I persevered and soon found myself beginning to appreciate the instrumentation. I remained less impressed by the vocals, and wondered about the wisdom of seeking to link everything with the narrative.

“The good people of Happyville, set back in a 1970s version of tomorrow, have enjoyed the advantage of genetic engineering for decades without any thought, but the day of judgement is near. When Luke comes to town, and gods develop an interest in Mr. C’s science peddling, the secrets of the townspeople are about to be revealed, and their lives may never be the same again.”

Having returned to listen again I find that my appreciation is growing, the instrumentation is extremely professional, as I expected from Mr. Laing and his colleagues. I still remain to be convinced of the absolute necessity of the ‘opera’ storyline but will continue to return to give a fair hearing. Returning to ‘Tommy’, I have to record that the closing number ‘We’re Not Going To Take It’ used to energise me so much, but on returning to it over forty years later I found myself rather underwhelmed – the song that had once seemed so cutting edge and radical, now felt rather twee and non-challenging. I wonder how ‘Playing God’ will ‘play’ in forty years time.

1/ God’s March

2/ Luke’s Blues

3/ Terrace Of The Gods

4/ Perfect Boy

5/ Tony’s Return

6/ College Girls

7/ Silent Dream

8/ My Brother’s Gonna Die

9/ Open Up Your Imagination

10/ Here Is Our Blood

11/ Jupiter

12/ Tim’s Requiem

13/ Not Good Enough

14/ Father’s Lament

15/ Crying Shame

16/ Journey

17/ Sisterhood

18/ Vital Stream

19/ Revelations I

20/ meltdown

21/ Revelations II

22/ Eyes In The Mirror

23/ Revelations III

24/ Mr. C’s Demise

25/ In This World

Corky Laing – drums, vocals, percussion, guitar

Bonnie Parker – bass, vocals

Denny Colt – guitar, vocals

Lasse Väyrynen – guitars, guitalele, bass, keyboards, backing vocals

Matti Häyry – guitars, guitalele, keyboards, vocals

Tuija Takala – guitar, vocals

Maya Paakari – vocals

Harry Väyrynen – guitar, bass, vocals

Mikaela Mansikkala – vocals

Hanna Paatero – backing vocals


BIV AND THE MNEMONICS ‘THE PACE’

According to my research, Robin Williams is credited with saying that “if you remember the ’60s, you weren’t there”; I was alive in the ’60s and this album certainly goes a long way to helping me remember the mood of much of the music that I listened to then. Optimistic and upbeat, considered and intriguing – ‘The Pace’ has it all. Just as a wine connoisseur takes great pleasure in picking out a range of contributory constituents, I am equally happy when sensing echoes of other artists within the music that I listen to. Among the memories that I felt were being triggered as I listened to this were Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, and Dodgy (yes, I know Dodgy weren’t a ’60s band, but they were equally good at emulating that sound). This extremely pleasing album presents the listener with a wonderfully uplifting and varied selection of happy and positive songs. Styles range through country, blues, folk, rock and pop without ever labouring any of them. Most definitely a great ‘make you feel good’ album – and the wonderfully retro guitar break at 5.25 in ‘Hella’ simply begs to be heard.

1/ The Pace

2/ Critically Cool

3/ Rolling Deep Into The Backwoods

4/ Manifest Destiny

5/ Ain’t Our Way

6/ The Umbrella Song

7/ Hella

8/ The Winding Rivers Of Northern California

9/ Ladies Of The Hotel Shahil

10/ The Long Arm Of The Law

Jessie Alsop: keys & vocals

Ben Lang: guitar & vocals

Landon Moblad: drums

Dan Paggi: bass & vocals

Evan Wardel: guitar & vocals

featuring –

Andrew Tavis: harmonica & tambourine (‘Ain’t Our Way’)

Steven Tyler Spinner: tenor sax (‘Rolling Deep Into The Backwoods’)

Josh Yenne: pedal steel guitar (‘The Winding Rivers Of Northern California’ & ‘Long Arm Of The Law’)


Yet again, half a year has flown by and I am only now returning to this WordPress blog! Since my previous post, I have completed the Brighton Marathon along with my daughter – a truly wonderful and memorable weekend. No records were broken but ‘one’ was received when I was met at the finish by Eleanore of Eleanore and the Lost whose album ‘Parlour Games’ (reviewed here previously) had impressed me greatly during my months of training. She has strong links with WWF and had written a theme song for the organisation’s 50th anniversary.

With the marathon out of the way I jumped at the chance to return to the cross-country mountain bike tracks at Glentress – I managed to cycle non-stop to the start of the main downhill sections only to have my ‘reward’ spoiled when the rear derailleur broke just as I set off down! After free-wheeling back to the car and inspecting the bike I came to the conclusion that too many other bits were on their last legs to justify repairs. I am now making the most of the new replacement.

Our lovely grand daughter is now 18 months old and continues to bring delight to our family.

With regard to community radio, ABC has returned as North Highland Radio, allowing me to keep ‘Views From The Edge’ going. Some ex-collegues from Generate Radio have also established a home-based broadcasting system creating Scotland Online Radio. ‘Views From The Edge’ is now broadcast twice a week, on both www.northhighlandradio.co.uk and www.scotlandonlineradio.co.uk

I recently had the great privilege of helping out with gathering interviews for a special programme to chart the history of the Borders LGBT Group who recently celebrated their 30th anniversary. This will be broadcast at the end of LGBT Pride Week, and available thereafter as a listen-again link.

http://td1radio.com/celebrating-30-years-of-lgbt-in-the-borders/

I anticipate that I will continue to be busy, particularly with community radio; I will consider how practical is is to keep this blog updated.

More soon???


AFFECT THE KIDS?

In the decade when love was all around,

And everything you did was done for me.

When Whitney sang that she would always love you,

It didn’t matter that we came from different worlds;

It seemed like our love would conquer all.

Just don’t do anything to affect the kids.”

 

You were on one knee when you asked,

And said “I’d do anything for you my love.”

Without hesitation I said “I do.”

Then you sowed your seeds and that’s a fact,

And left me to nurture the growing bundles.

Just don’t do anything to affect the kids.”

 

You provided for and paraded me,

Another ticked box in your ‘to do’ list.

I thought that we would be a dream team,

But it was never quite a partnership of equals.

Still I was willing to be there until the end

Just don’t do anything to affect the kids.”

 

Marriage is like life in an earthquake zone,

It’s not a good idea to dwell on faults.

But you didn’t dwell on anything at home;

Always off to meetings and junkets,

Whilst assuming I’d play the housewife.

Just don’t do anything to affect the kids.”

 

You really thought you could control me;

While I wanted to be your equal.

We could have had it all, heart and soul,

But in the end the choice was easy,

Oh it was so blindingly clear to see.

Just don’t do anything to affect the kids.”

 

Then GaGa took us all to the edge,

I couldn’t see any hope or glory;

I just couldn’t face another put down.

When talk of separation was finally voiced

You didn’t want to part and warned me plainly,

Just don’t do anything to affect the kids.”

 

Just what kind of father are you?

As a mother I will always aim

To affect our kids as positively as I can.

Oh baby you were like a firework,

But then the blue touchpaper was lit.

Just don’t do anything to affect the kids.”

 

Seems that everybody has a price,

But I just wanted some sleep at night.

So now we live our separate lives,

No doubt to meet again in court.

It may be too late for us; but for once just please,

Try and affect the kids in a positive way.”

 

And then a year passed and eased the hurt,

You cut me off and made me feel like dirt.

You were then just somebody that I used to know!

Look to the future,

You’ve made it so lie in it.

Everything I do is done for the kids!”

 

A few more years on and it’s Paloma’s turn to sing

Only love can hurt like this.

Frustration got the better of you,

And you turned on them,

Whatever happened to your exhortation,

Just don’t do anything to affect the kids?”

 

 

(inspired among other things by a number of chart hits:

  • Wet Wet Wet / Love Is All Around 1995

  • Bryan Adams / (Everything I Do) I Do It For You – 1991

  • Whitney Houston / I Will Always Love You – 1992

  • Meatloaf / I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That) – 1993

  • Adele / Rolling In The Deep – 2010

  • Lady GaGa / Edge Of Glory – 2011

  • Katy Perry / Firework – 2010

  • Jessie J / Price Tag – 2011

  • Gotye / Somebody That I Used To Know – 2011

  • Paloma Faith / Only Love Can Hurt Like This – 2014)

 


ONE BULLET PER HEAD

¿dónde está mi padre?

¿dónde está mi mamá?

¿dónde está mi hermana?

¿dónde está mi familia?

¿dónde está el amigo?

Where’s my Dad?

Not the same man

As my new sister’s Dad.

He walked out and left

Just like her’s will

Mama can’t cope –

A dollar a day

Don’t pay the way

Mama’s at her wit’s end

Takes us all to see a ‘friend’

Where’s the friend?

Where’s my mama?

Where’s my new sister?

Where’s my family?

Where am I?

¿dónde está mi padre?

¿dónde está mi mamá?

¿dónde está mi hermana?

¿dónde está mi familia?

¿dónde está el amigo?

Another street boy

Found left all alone

Sleeping in alleyways

Left to fend alone

Cause his Mama can’t cope

Such a happy face

Now he’s found a new home

Here in the boy’s centre

With so many others

Abandoned like him

Such happy faces

Must capture images

Snap, snap, snap, snap

Take the film to the store

Why pictures of street boys”

Says the man behind the counter

Why waste film on them

I have a solution

One bullet per head”

Policewoman calls at boy’s centre,

please take these three boys in”

I’ve been ordered to disappear them”

But I need to know they’re cared for”

Better for them to ‘disappear’ here”

Than to be left in the desert to starve”

Where’s my Dad?

Where’s my Mama?

Where’s my new sister?

Where’s my family?

Here in the boy’s centre

I’ve got a new home

I’ve got a new family

Saved from one bullet per head

In the city

In the desert

In the mountains

In the jungle

Where’s my Mama?

Why did she abandon me?

Why do all these Gringos care?

Why do they want to stop

The bullets to the heads?

¿dónde está mi padre?

¿dónde está mi mamá?

¿dónde está mi hermana?

¿dónde está mi familia?

¿dónde está el amigo?

 

(inspired by my experiences when visiting Peru with The Vine Trust, particularly by conversations with Paul Clark, details of his work with Union Biblica Del Peru can be found in this book – http://www.bpsbooks.com/southern-cross-lost-and-found-paul-clark/     )