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1977 And All That

The Year That Punk Broke – Cherry Red 3CD set

I was delighted to receive this box set for two reasons: my band is included  (Trash, in the prestigious CD3/Track 14 slot) and I got it for free. Had I paid for it, I might feel different. Here’s why.

It is a brilliant selection of hits, misses and no-hopers – a staggering 87 tracks and a comprehensive mini-book which gives you trenchant details of every one. Compilers David Wells and John Reed are to be congratulated on a job well and truly done. Remastering by Simon Murphy has delivered consistent volume, always a potential problem with multi-source compilations.

So the problem is not the presentation: it is the content. Too many songs here sound like too many other songs. Too many lyrics involve being free, myself,  bored and not caring: ironic from a movement that put great store in individuality. Musically there is a dearth of good drummers and a surplus of crappy studio sounds that transcend helpful simplicity and get in the way of the songs.

What works ? Well chosen cover versions such as The Count Bishops assault on The Kinks’ I Need You and the Rezillos zippy I Wanna Be Your Man. Confident producers help, such as Nick Lowe leaving Whole Wide World (Wreckless Eric) so unadorned and letting old-waver Larry Wallis get rowdy on Police Car. Humour helps, which means John Cooper-Clarke’s Innocents is a shoe-in as is the Albertos Kill!, a spoof which ironically sounds the most punkish thing here. Being older and having acquired some musical chops also helps, take a bow The Only Ones and the Heartbreakers.The one single that I had never heard before but I am now going to rush out and attempt to buy is I Can’t Come by the Snivelling Shits, a three chord thrash that degenerates into a list of people who can’t come – truly The Intro And The Outro for the blank generation.

In my youth I championed pub-rock over prog-rock, so 1977 felt like vindication to me. Now it feels like putting an old carpet over your allotment for a couple of years to kill off the weeds. You might get rid of the unwanted growth, but you spend two years looking at a carpet.

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Picture Discs: Why I Hate Them

From the new edition of Record Collector magazine (August 2019)

Nina Antonia Rare Book Release

Editor: John Perry

In Cold Blood: eBook of Punk Legend’s Official Biography Showcases Unseen Photos of New York Dolls’ Johnny Thunders

Nina Antonia’s ‘Johnny Thunders… In Cold Blood’ brings a beautiful, hard-rocking illustrated e-book edition to the official published biography of New York Dolls’ Johnny Thunders. Due for release on July 15th 2019, on what would have been Thunders’ sixty-seventh birthday, the new edition showcases over 120 images (including photos never seen before) to take readers on an illuminating journey through the glam rock pioneer’s life. It also addresses his death and the results of a 1991 autopsy, making it vital reading for anyone curious about Thunders’ mysterious demise, recently the topic of a film, ‘Room 37’.

United Kingdom – In 1987, music journalist Nina Antonia finally turned her lifelong obsession with Johnny Thunders into a job, after being granted the rights to publish his official biography. It’s a publication that has seen many different editions, and is now being released in eBook format with more new information and exclusive content than ever before.

‘Johnny Thunders… In Cold Blood’ will be published on what would have been the legend’s sixty-seventh birthday, and brings his life full circle with new photographs and revelations about his death in 1991. Currently it is number one in Amazon.com’s future punk music biographies.

Synopsis:

The official biography of the New York Dolls and Heartbreakers’ guitarist. ‘Johnny Thunders: In Cold Blood’ is the cult bible of all things Thunders. It is the definitive portrait of the condemned man of rock’n’roll, from the baptism of fire and tragedy that was the New York Dolls, through the junkie punk years of the Heartbreakers and beyond. It is an unflinching account of a unique guitarist whose drug problems often overshadowed his considerable style and talent. Johnny was a hugely influential figure in both the glam-rock and punk eras and his music and style still resonates today.

Nina Antonia discovered Johnny Thunders and the New York Dolls when a young teenager and spent her formative years as a dedicated fan. Writing was her other passion and she commenced his biography in the early 80’s. Then Johnny came to London, he and his manager read her drafts, decided the book should be an authorised biography, and uniquely gave her full access to Johnny’s life.

The book covers Johnny from his early life through the New York Dolls, Heartbreakers and solo, with interviews of many of the characters involved in his career. It then changes tone and the story is continued in the present tense as Nina describes her first-person experiences of mixing with the real-life Johnny and his associates.

First published in 1987, it was updated and revised in 2000 after Johnny’s death and with further insights gained from Nina’s biography of the New York Dolls (Omnibus). ‘In Cold Blood’ has also been published in Italy and Japan.

For the first time this edition provides new information about Johnny’s death, by publishing summaries from the autopsy and a full letter from the New Orleans Coroner that clarifies Johnny’s autopsy results and diagnoses. Johnny died suddenly in mysterious circumstances there in 1991, leading to much speculation.

This new e-book edition contains over 120 pics and illustrations, including unseen photos.

“I’m so pleased to have turned a youth obsession with Johnny into what has become a life dedicated to sharing his story,” explains the author. “And it stands to reason there would be multiple editions of this official biography, as we continue to discover new information about his life and death. This is vital reading for anyone into the punk and glam rock scenes, or music history in general.”

Continuing, “I also have another release – ‘Johnny Thunders Sleeve Notes’ – which gives deep background information to each album, interactive links to them and becomes an invaluable companion to my other biographical works. Johnny’s story is still evolving, needs to be told and I guarantee I’ll be there to tell the world.”

‘Johnny Thunders… In Cold Blood’ is due for release on July 15th, 2019. Copies can currently be pre-ordered from Amazon: https://smarturl.it/JTICB-ebook.

Purchase ‘Johnny Thunders Sleeve Notes’, here: https://smarturl.it/JTnotes.

Exclusive interview with the author: https://bit.ly/2YBrUp2.

About the Author:

Nina Antonia (Liverpool, 1960) is a former music journalist, who has contributed to Uncut, Mojo, Classic Rock and Record Collector. Nina Antonia’s first book was ‘Johnny Thunders – In Cold Blood’ in 1987. Since then she’s also written biographies of the New York Dolls, Peter Perrett of The Only Ones, and edited the diaries of Pete Doherty. As well as appearing on Radio One and BBC Six Music, Nina has performed at spoken word events, had a retrospective held at the Barbican and in 2013 lectured on Glam at Tate Liverpool. Nina has featured in various documentaries, including ‘New York Doll’ about Arthur ‘Killer’ Kane and appears in Danny Garcia’s poignant documentary ‘Looking For Johnny’.

In 2016, Nina had her first supernatural piece ‘South-West 13’ published. Essays about the likes of Lord Alfred Douglas and Oscar Wilde continued the theme, followed by her first supernatural novel ‘The Greenwood Faun’. Her most recent book is ‘Incurable – The Haunted Writings of Lionel Johnson, the Decadent Era’s Dark Angel’.

 A feature film of ‘Johnny Thunders – In Cold Blood’ is currently in the pre-production stage, to be directed by Jonas Akerlund (the Beyonce, Madonna, Lady Gaga, U2 etc director) .

“The Smartest Chick I ever met.” – Johnny Thunders

“Nina Writes, Seen her Riot.” – Peter Doherty

“Priceless Books for One Such as I.” – Morrissey

“Nina Antonia Makes a fascinating Story, Irresistible.” – Uncut

 Further info: https://ninaantoniaauthor.com/     https://twitter.com/NinaAntonia13

 

Sunday Night At The London Palladium – The Rolling Stones EP

Available from 1960s Records

January 22nd 1967

  1. Introduction
  2. Connection ( Jagger / Richard)
  3. Ruby Tuesday ( Jagger / Richard)
  4. It’s All Over Now (Womack / Womack)
  5. Let’s Spend The Night Together ( Jagger / Richard)

 

Mick Jagger – Vocals

Keith Richard – Guitar, Vocals

Brian Jones – Guitar

Bill Wyman – Bass

Charlie Watts – Drums

Sleeve notes: RG Jones

 

By 1967 Sunday Night At The London Palladium was essential family viewing. How would the Stones manage to maintain their bad boy reputation whilst still promoting their latest single? Easy. At the end of each show all the artists mounted a rotating roundabout and smiled and waved. Not the Stones. “ I thought we’d gone far enough by doing the show” claimed Jagger. “Anyway, Andrew and I had a great row about it which made an excellent front page in the Daily Mirror which I was very pleased with. “ That would be Andrew Loog Oldham, Stones manager and media manipulator supreme.

The way the band looked was equally divisive. In the NME for January 28th fan Sue Baxter acclaimed the Stones appearance “Brilliant! Who else but them would dare to appear in the gear they wore?”. However reader Tony Hughes from Glamorgan was less impressed “in very bad taste…they could have made an effort to look reasonably respectable.”

Coming a poor third to outrage and appearance was the music. Connection is an audacious start, featuring Keith Richard’s debut lead vocal. Then follows a version of Ruby Tuesday with live vocals over a prepared backing track. Side Two opens with a radically different arrangement of It’s All Over Now, specially recorded at Olympic Studios. Finally an ebullient Let’s Spend The Night Together, again with live vocals.

If only they’d played Around and Around…

The Who & Eddie Vedder, Wembley Stadium July 6th 2019

Exclusive Merchandise: US-style bowling shirt £100

The only European date of the Moving On tour saw the Who backed by a full orchestra with impressive results. A generous 25 song, 140 minute set was divided into thirds. The first section featured songs from Tommy, the strings and brass coming into their own on We’re Not Gonna Take it. A sensitive version of the rarely-played Imagine A Man was an early highlight, as was an exuberant Join Together.

The middle section was played without orchestra, and put the emphasis firmly on the Who themselves, tonight trimmed to a six piece – Pete Townshend (guitar, vocals, boiler suit), Roger Daltrey (vocals & tambourines), Zak Starkey (savage drumming), Simon Townshend (second guitar & vocals), Loren Gold (keyboards), Jon Button (bass) and Billy Nichols (vocals). Won’t Get Fooled Again reverted to its original acoustic arrangement whilst Behind Blue Eyes benefitted from a subtle string backing. Kudos to the band for performing two new unrecorded songs tonight – Hero Ground Zero and Still Waiting For The Big Cigar. Townshend made a moving tribute to Alan Rogan his guitar tech of 45 years who had died two days previously. Daltrey reflected that “the glamour is gone, our youth is gone but the music still sounds f*cking brilliant.”

Then the orchestra returned for selections from Quadrophenia including a snarling Punk And The Godfather where well-received support act Eddie Vedder guested, and a magnificent version of The Rock where the band and orchestra surpassed the original studio recording. Finally a Love Reign O’er Me during which Daltrey’s impassioned vocal plea to “rain on me” resulted in some very damp fans and a closing Baba O’Reily with dancing violin from Katie Jacoby. Townshend announced further UK orchestral dates from The Who next year: they will be worth seeing. No My Generation, but tonight a vigorous carpe diem trounced “hope I die before I get old”.

Review written for Record Collector magazine

Picture: Cliff Moss

Wonderful Radio Bonzo!

The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band At The BBC 1966 – 1968

Available from 1960s Records

Side A

  1. Radio Bonzo Jingle
  2. Rockaliser Baby (Neil Innes, Viv Stanshall)
  3. The Monster Mash (Bobby Pickett, Lenny Capizzi)
  4. I’ve Found The Answer
  5. John Peel March (Hugh Nique & The Originals)
  6. Beautiful Zelda (Neil Innes)
  7. Captain Cool (Neil Innes, Viv Stanshall)
  8. Bill Bailey, Won’t You Please Come Home (Hughie Cannon)
  9. Viv Stanshall Interview with Brian Mathews

Side B

  1. My Pink Half Of The Drainpipe (Neil Innes, Viv Stanshall)
  2. Eleven Mustachioed Daughters (Viv Stanshall)
  3. Shirt (Roger Ruskin Spear)
  4. The Bride Stripped Bare by ‘The Bachelors’ (Neil Innes, Viv Stanshall)
  5. Excerpt From ‘The Brain Opera (Part 1)’
  6. Readymades (E’s Mad Dreg) (Neil Innes, Viv Stanshall)
  7. Jelly Jingle

 

Recording details

1 – 3, 9. Recorded for Top Gear 05.12.67, broadcast 17.12.67

4 & 5. Recorded for Top Gear 29.4.68, broadcast 5.5.68

6, 7, 10, 11,16. Recorded for Top Gear 18.7.68, broadcast 21.7.68

12 – 15. Recorded for Top Gear 8.10.68, broadcast 20.10.68

8. Recorded for Blue Peter TV show, February 1966

 

Personnel

Viv Stanshall – Vocals, trumpet, euphonium, tuba, guitar

Neil Innes – Vocals, piano, guitar

Roger Ruskin Spear – Vocals, cornet, tenor saxophone, xylophone

Rodney Slater – Saxophones, clarinets, trombone, tuba

‘Legs’ Larry Smith – Vocals, tap dancing, drums, tuba

Martin ‘Sam Spoons’ Smith – Drums, percussion

Vernon Dudley Bowhay-Nowell – Banjo, bass (Track 8)

David Clague – Bass (Tracks 2 & 3)

Joel Druckman – Bass (Tracks 4 & 5)

Dennis Cowan – Bass (Tracks 6, 7, 10-16)

 

Sleevenotes

The songwriters at the heart of the Bonzos were students Viv Stanshall (Central School of Art) and Neil Innes (Goldsmiths) who first met in 1963. Innes remembers that “the naming of the band came from pieces of paper in a hat. Three emerged as clear winners: ’Bonzo The Dog’ (a jolly, mischievous little canine character painted by George E Studdy in the 1920s), ‘Dada’ (the shocking anti-art movement founded during World War One) and the somewhat frivolous suggestion of Band. ‘Dada’ was quickly changed to ‘Doo Dah’. The unspeakably tedious job of attempting to define anti-art movements to a wider public soon became akin to stuffing a whale into an egg. Not long after, violent semi-controlled theatrical explosions augmented the repertoire.“

The now nine-piece band were soon terrorising London pubs and working-men’s clubs in the North East. John Peel was attracted to the Bonzos, perhaps because their humour was similar to his own. In his International Times column of 27 October 1967 he wrote: “On Liberty Records the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band have a very droll LP. My favourite track is a beautiful cliché teenage mutilation fun 1955 hiccup song called “Death Cab For Cutie”. That should drive Mick Farren into spasms of faintly unattractive excitement…” Death Cab For Cutie attracted further publicity when the Bonzos performed the song on the Beatles Magical Mystery Tour television special, watched by 15 million people on Boxing Day 1967.

The Bonzos career encompassed five studio albums recorded between 1967 and 1972. A parallell history of the band exists in the many tracks recorded for BBC radio, many never recorded elsewhere. Quoted in Ken Garner’s ‘In Session Tonight’ Viv Stanshall reminisced that “we’d always do short playlets, made up specially for the session. They would be worked out in the BBC studios for the first time. I remember I lived around the corner from (Peel producer) Bernie Andrews in Muswell Hill and I used to phone him up the day before a session, asking can we have such-and-such effects? Those sessions quickly took the format of three songs and one piece of recitative.” Bernie Andrews remembers that “they were some of the most creative sessions I ever did, because the numbers were created in the studio, with tape editing, effects and so on. As the first ones also ran until 1am, then unheard of, and the BBC commissionaires complained, they also started my undeserved reputation of running all these weird sessions all through the night.”

Bill Bailey, Won’t You Please Come Home shows the Bonzo’s first incarnation, still in thrall to The Temperance Seven and The Alberts and covering ancient jazz novelties picked up for pennies in fleamarkets. The version here emanates from childrens’ TV programme Blue Peter where they are introduced by a clearly bemused John Noakes. New manager Gerry Bron encouraged them to follow a more rock-orientated direction and write their own material, of which Rockaliser Baby is a fine example. Opening with the Dixon of Dock Green theme played on accordion this moving tale of teenage rebellion ends with a spoken Stanshall warning about “dangerous trousers”. Monster Mash is an inspired cover version, with manic piano and call-and-response vocals and another crazed Stanshall voice-over. In contrast I’ve Found The Answer is a country and western ballad, sung languidly by Innes. Beautiful Zelda is a beat-group number, a cautionary tale about falling in love with an alien. Captain Cool is a deceptively MOR croon from Innes, with flute and vibes accompaniment. It would later be reworked as Postcard.

My Pink Half Of The Drainpipe lampoons suburbia, a recurrent Stanshall theme. Eleven Mustachioed Daughters is dedicated to “Long John Peel” and is apparently Stanshall’s homage to Screamin’ Jay Hawkins Feast Of The Mau Mau. Roger Ruskin Spear gets a rare songwriting credit for Shirt, a protest song about dry cleaners featuring a solo allegedly played on an electric shirt collar and a coda of more spoken Stanshall madness.

Now it gets really weird. The Bride Stripped Bare by ‘The Bachelors’ references Marcel Duchamp and is a song of two halves, angelic harmonies alternating with fuzzed-out rock in a bizarre tale of life on the road. The large “Wow I’m Really Expressing Myself” thought bubble used by the band onstage would work well here. Co-written with Arthur Brown the excerpt from Brain Opera takes place in a German University where a demented tea dance develops into a Faustian pact, culminating in a sitar-infused advert for the Swami Kebab Restaurant. The Bonzo’s management were unhappy with The Brain Opera likening it to “an end-of-term revue by medical students” according to Roger Ruskin Spear and accordingly it never appeared on an LP. Readymades is a melancholic ballad from Innes that brings our set to a gentle close. The Bonzos also brought themselves to a gentle close, ceasing live performances whilst they were all still on reasonably good terms. Their final gig was at Loughborough University in March 1970.

Many of the tracks recorded by the Bonzos for the BBC have already been released, firstly on Unpeeled (Strange Fruit CD 1995) and more recently on The Complete BBC Recordings (Strange Fruit CD 2002). The 2007 Liberty re-releases of Gorilla, Let’s Make Up And Be Friendly and Tadpoles all contain further excellent BBC tracks, described so accurately by Stanshall in his interview with Brian Mathews as “insane spewings of our collective genius”.

Sounds about right.

Sleevenotes: Apollo C. Vermouth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Live Cream, Volume 3

Available from 1960s Records

LIVE CREAM: VOLUME 3

The first power trio. The first supergroup. Massive sell-out US tours. But it was all meant to be very different.

Cream only existed for two and half years, from playing the Twisted Wheel on July 29th 1966 to their very public farewell gig at London’s Royal Albert Hall on November 26th 1968. Their work rate was prodigious and in addition to incessant touring they released four LPs, one a double. There was a clue to how the band saw themselves in their choice of name suggesting that guitarist Eric Clapton, bass player Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker were all virtuosi at the top of their game. “I thought of Cream as sort of a jazz band,” Jack Bruce said, “only we never told Eric he was really Ornette Coleman.”  Baker concurred “I’d rather play jazz – I hate rock & roll.” And Clapton had just left the Yardbirds because he considered For Your Love as too pop and he just wanted to play the blues. Despite this Cream released a succession of creative and successful singles band such as Wrapping Paper, I Feel Free, Strange Brew, Sunshine Of Your Love, Anyone For Tennis, White Room and Badge, the latter featuring an uncredited George Harrison.

Many posthumous compilations were released including two volumes of Live Cream, to which this record is a complement. The many tracks that Cream recorded for the BBC have been released widely, through the compilation BBC Sessions and the retrospective box set Those Were The Days plus additional tracks on the Deluxe edition of the band’s debut LP Fresh Cream. Even so seven BBC tracks have thus far eluded release, and we are delighted to rectify this.

As to the band’s legacy, NME writer Charles Shaar Murray was very perceptive. In 1975 he wrote “Study the early work of Cream. Their pieces were structurally non-shattering but the songs had real tunes, interesting lyrics and good arrangements. Also the relatively simple changes and riffs were fleshed out with some extempore playing: not just in the solos but around the melody. The trouble with the Cream / Hendrix period is that after Eric and Jimi had recorded long solos and double albums, every guitar-carrying poltroon with access to a stage or studio was under the impression that he too was destined to play every number for at least ten minutes…an awful lot of crummy guitar solos got played.”

Talking to Nigel Williamson in 2004 Clapton explained how the bands live performances lead to their eventual demise “By the time we went to America, we’d play half-hour solos in the middle of anything. We got into a lot of self-indulgence and a lot of easily pleased people went along with that. It flattered our vanity, and after that I think we stopped trying. “ Pete Townshend put it more succinctly: “I used to like to watch Cream until they got sad, and fucked up”. This record commemorates the band in happier and more productive times.

Tracklisting

Side One – BBC Sessions 1966 – 1968

  1. I’m So Glad (Skip James)

Recorded for Saturday Club 8.11.66 , broadcast 11.11.66

  1. Traintime (Jack Bruce)

Recorded for Saturday Club 10.1.67 , broadcast 14.1.67

  1. Toad (Ginger Baker)

Recorded for Saturday Club 10.1.67 , broadcast 14.1.67

  1. Tales Of Brave Ulysses (Eric Clapton & Martin Sharp)

Recorded for Joe Loss 14.7.67, broadcast 14.7.67

  1. Take It Back (Jack Bruce & Pete Brown)

Recorded for Joe Loss 14.7.67, broadcast 14.7.67

  1. Blue Condition (Ginger Baker)

Recorded for Top Gear 9.1.68, broadcast 14.1.68

  1. We’re Going Wrong (Jack Bruce)

Recorded for Top Gear 9.1.68, broadcast 14.1.68

 

Side Two – Live 1967

  1. We’re Going Wrong (Jack Bruce)
  2. I Feel Free (Jack Bruce & Pete Brown)

1-2 Recorded live at the Palais De Sports, Paris 1.6.67 for        French TV ‘First Festival Of Pop”

  1. Spoonful (Willie Dixon)
  2. Tales of Brave Ulysses (Eric Clapton & Martin Sharp)
  3. Sunshine Of Your Love (Jack Bruce & Eric Clapton)

3-5 Recorded live at the Revolution Club, London November    1967 for the Bouton Rouge TV show

 

Personnel

Jack Bruce – Bass, harmonica, piano, vocals

Eric Clapton – Guitar, vocals

Ginger Baker – Drums

 

I’m So Glad is an uptempo start to proceedings, tightly arranged and with strong unison vocals from Bruce and Clapton. The melodic guitar solo owes something to Tchaikovsky. Traintime is a showcase for Bruce’s harmonica prowess, done to a shuffle backing whilst the instrumental Toad gives Ginger Baker a chance to show off. Tales Of Brave Ulysses allows Clapton a chance to demonstrate his skill on the wah wah, thoroughly psychedelic lyrics courtesy of his flatmate and designer Martin Sharp. Take It Back is a more standard twelve bar blues, whilst Blue Condition answers the question “Should we let Ginger sing a few numbers?”. In contrast the final track on this side We’re Going Wrong serves to highlight just how strong a vocalist Jack Bruce could be, helped here by an unusually sensitive and restrained backing.

On Side Two We’re Going Wrong gets another, even more impassioned live outing. The version of I Feel Free features some subtle fills from Clapton, a melodic Bruce bass line and more strong unison singing. The takes of Spoonful, Tales of Brave Ulysses and Sunshine Of Your Love highlight impressive interplay between the three players, even when recorded in an empty London nightclub. The song lengths here are still modest, highlighting the melody and structure of the songs whilst still allowing space for improvisation. No crummy guitar solos here.

Sleeve notes: L’Angelo Mysterioso