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Fantastic Plastic – Flamin’ Groovies

Sonic Kicks / Severn CD 0069

Reunion LPs don’t work. Think Byrds, Stooges, Big Star. Once the initial spark has been lost, that’s it. So why is this album – the first recordings in 28 years released by the classic Groovies line-up of Cyril Jordan (guitar, vocals). George Alexander (bass) and Chris Wilson (guitar, vocals) – so damn good ? The last LP made by this iteration of San Francisco veterans was 1979’s Jumpin’ In The Night. Fantastic Plastic is more of the same: a combination of Jordan/Wilson compositions and judiciously chosen covers , here the Beau Brummels Don’t Talk To Strangers and the NRBQs I Want You Bad. Both are played well, though Wilson uses a strange quasi-UK accent on the former. I Want You Bad is a staple of the Groovies live set and it is great to finally to have a studio version. Both tracks showcase the timeless studio sound created by producers Jordan and J Jaffe, where the crisp rhythm section of Alexander and principal drummer Victor Penlosa underpins the many layered guitars and vocals of Jordan and Wilson.

Of the originals, opener What The Hell’s Going On is a fine Stones/Beatles hybrid, with Cryin’ Shame adding the Byrds to complete the Groovies holy trinity. End Of The World enters on a bed of backward guitars and develops into a real stomper which should work well live. Let Me Rock is allegedly the first song that Cyril and Chris wrote together and here it is completely upgraded from the rough demo first heard on the Skydog Grease tapes, although thankfully the Street Fighting Man bass runs remain. Lonely Hearts adds a simple piano part and additional harmonies to provide an uptempo Beach Boys ballad.

Even though this is a proper length recording – 12 tracks, 40 minutes – the album slightly runs out of puff before the end with Crazy Macy, Just Like A Hurricane (aka Let’s Work Together) and Fallen Star being less inspired. I’d Rather Spend My Time With You is a rather unexpected instrumental in a Shadows / Ventures vein.

Overshadowing the release of this recording is the sad news that George Alexander is no longer a member of the band he co-founded. Victor Penlosa too is no more. The new rhythm section of Chris Von Sneidern (bass) and Tony Sales (drums) will have a chance to show their mettle on September’s European tour but George and Victor brought a lot to the live show and they will be missed.

There is an understandable tendency to overrate the results achieved by a favourite band getting back together again (hence all the great reviews for Blue And Lonesome). I have only lived with this recording for a few days and I might regret giving it such a good review in six months time. But for now Fantastic Plastic is the exception to the rule – a reunion LP that does not disappoint. Will 2017 be the year of the Groovies ?

Peter Wolf Live In Boston

Peter Wolf and The Midnight Travellers

Boston TD Gardens, 20/7/17

View: Elevated Section, Stage Left

Supporting Tom Petty at this 17,500 seater stadium ex-J Geils band vocalist and long-time Boston resident Peter Wolf was afforded a full hour set and proper lights and sound. His five piece band rose to the occasion and played like headliners. The set cherry-picked jewels from Wolf’s solo career such as Piece Of Mind and Wastin’ Time but the biggest response was reserved for Geils classics such as the closing trio of Start All Over Again, Give It To Me and Lookin’ For A Love. Tom West played some tasteful organ and Duke Levine and Kevin Barry exchanged unflashy but effective guitar parts throughout, supported by Tom Arey on drums and Kevin Barry on bass. Wolf has moved with the times – the rap that preceded a mighty Musta Got Lost now has the lovers communicating by text message and the bottle of bubbles that Wolf totes on stage has a screw top (we were very near the stage).   What hasn’t changed is Wolf’s glam bohemian chic, onstage exuberance and masterful performance. Simply the coolest 71 year old on the planet.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Live in London

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers / Stevie Nicks

BST London Hyde Park

July 9th 2017

View: Stage Centre, Diamond Circle

Once again BST was blessed with a stunning summer evening. Stevie Nicks played a judicious blend of solo hits and Fleetwood Mac numbers with Waddy Wachtel outstanding on a series of mouthwatering vintage guitars. Stevie gave us a second opportunity to be amazed by her dress sense (white fur coat? fingerless gloves ? in July ??) when she re-appeared to duet with Petty on Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around, a highlight of the entire concert. Petty played the same 40th Anniversary set he has been touring in the US: strong on Wildflowers and solo material, sadly lacking in songs from the Heartbreakers golden period of 1977 – 1985. Mike Campbell on guitar and Benmont Tench on piano shone throughout, whilst adding the Webb Sisters has extended both the vocal and visual side – great dancing on an extended Don’t Come Around Here No More. The set was book-ended by the first and last tracks of that self-tiled debut LP: Rockin’ Around (With You) and American Girl gave glimpses of this extraordinary band’s capabilities.

(written for Record Collector magazine)

Bash and Pop, Deadcuts The Garage, Islington June 29th

View: On the decks, in front of the mixing desk

The Deadcuts set the tone for the evening: short, sharp songs played with economy and a minimum of fuss. I’d like to hear the songs again somewhere with better acoustics. Bash and Pop is the name ex-Replacement Tommy Stinson uses for his more Faces / Stones-orientated material, so far recorded on two CDs separated by a mere 25 years. Tommy handles lead vocals and rhythm guitar, sympathetically supported by Joe Sirois on he-means-it drums, Justin Perkins on bass and Steve Selvidge on lead guitar and birthday cake. From the first CD, Fast and Hard and Never Aim To Please were impressive statements of intent, followed by a version of The Kids Are Alright that had everyone grinning. From the newer CD, Not This Time and Anybody Else impressed, and Tommy starting Anytime Soon on his own to bring a welcome change of pace. Any hint of a mid-set lull was dispelled by the appearance of John Perry and Peter Perrett from the Only Ones for an excellent four guitar version of Another Girl, Another Planet. This moved the set up a gear, with a triumphant finish of Anything Could Happen, First Steps and Friday Night is Killing Me getting a great response from the select crowd. Tommy, now don’t be a stranger…

Photo credit: Ronny Dap

DJ Set – The Garage, Highbury & Islington Supporting Bash & Pop 29.06.17

Action Time Vision – Alternative TV

No Matter What – Badfinger

Autonomy – Buzzcocks

Television Screen – Radiators From Space

Long Live Rock – The Who

Public Image – Public Image

Elected – Alice Cooper

Complete Control – The Clash

Smash It Up – The Damned

This Perfect Day – The Saints

Freak Scene – Dinosaur Jr

Ain’t That Nothin’ – Television

This Ain’t The Summer Of Love – Blue Oyster Cult

Seven Deadly Finns – Eno

Surrender – Cheap Trick

I Saw Her Standing There – The Beatles

Rockaway Beach – The Ramones

Chinese Rocks – Heartbreakers

I Don’t Care – The Boys

She’s Got Everything – Kinks

Tall Stories – PPK

Panic In Detroit – David Bowie

Ghosts Of Princes In Towers – Rich Kids

Let It Rock – The Rolling Stones

Dyslexic Heart – Paul Westerberg

Brand New Cadillac – The Clash

As My Wife Says – The Only Ones

I’m Not Like Everybody Else – The Kinks

Slow Death – Flamin’ Groovies

Neat Neat Neat – Damned

Beck’s Bolero – Jeff Beck Group

Pump It Up – Elvis Costello & The Attractions

Slaughter On Tenth Avenue – Mick Ronson

You’re My Favourite Waste Of Time – Marshall Crenshaw


I got more compliments about my choice of records last night than I have ever got before (including some kind words from band and crew).

One guy took my picture and posted it online with the tag “ They say the devil has all the best tunes – nah it’s this fella!”

Second Tall Stories Review

This one is from the new edition of Shindig! magazine – issue number 67. Not as positive as the review in Record Collector but all names are spelt correctly, the sound quality is praised and there is a colour picture of the picture sleeve. See for yourself!



Tall Stories of The Only Ones with Robert Palmer

…as it says on the front cover. Here’s the story:

Unheard Robert Palmer track for Record Store Day 2017

R’nB Records are delighted to announce the release of a brand new 7” vinyl single by the trio PPK – Robert Palmer, John Perry & Mike Kellie. Bearing catalogue number RB1978 the tracks are

  1. Tall Stories (Palmer / Perry / Kellie)
  2. Kellie’s Blues (Perry / Kellie)


Robert Palmer – Bass and Vocals

John Perry – Guitars

Mike Kellie – Drums

Underneath Island Records HQ in St. Peter’s Square, Hammersmith lay a compact 24 track studio much favoured by cognescenti on account of its fabulous sound. Unlikely combos of musicians from Steve Winwood to Peter Tosh jammed together there.

One such evening in the summer of 1978 saw John Perry and Mike Kellie of The Only Ones record with Robert Palmer. The Tall Stories track that resulted took Palmer in a new, grittier direction. Kellie’s rock-steady beat aligned with Palmer’s own bass playing and Perry’s melodic guitar brought the sparse loping sound of Free bang up to date.

Sadly record company politics prevented the release of this track and the tapes were mislaid until 2016, when intense sleuthing by Pedro Mercedes turned up a cassette version. Careful tape transfer by Rob Keyloch and remastering by Nick Duckett has polished this performance into a jewel that does all three musicians great credit. The B-side instrumental was cut at the same session.

This record is a fitting tribute to the late Robert Palmer and to Mike Kellie, who sadly died whilst we were working on this release. Kellie told John Perry he was delighted by this record.  He liked the finished product and loved the spontaneity of the session. He recalled the session as inspired and enjoyed recalling times when a high level of inspiration flowed with such ease.

Here is what Record Collector Editor Ian McCann said about the record:

From May 1st you can order here (scroll down). Vinyl copies are already selling on eBay and Discogs.