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My Rival – Alex Chilton (2019)

Record Store Day/Black Friday Omnivore Records 10” EP (digital download to follow)

In recent years the industry around Alex Chilton has begun to resemble that around the Stooges with a wide variety of studio and live product of varying sound quality and artistic merit. This however is different. No so much for the five songs, all of which we have heard before. I first came across She Might Look My Way on a vinyl single that accompanied Judith Berman’s loyal Back Of A Car fanzine where it was performed by co-writer Tommy Hoehn. Then it popped up again on the Star Crossed boot in a Chilton band version, possibly one of the demos that Alex cut for Karin Berg at Elektra in 1977. My Rival and Windows Hotel were also Elektra demos whereas All Of The Time was the lead track on the Ork EP The Singer Not The Song.

So material-wise we have been here before. What makes this EP so fascinating is that it represents the last ever collaboration between Big Star co-founders Chilton and Chris Bell. Recorded at Ardent Studios Memphis in September 1975 Alex plays guitars and sings and Bell engineers the session. According to the excellent sleeve notes from Rich Tupica this was a try-out to see if Bell and Chilton could reunite for a Big Star show in London; the fact they subsequently went in different directions  indicated that the answer was no. These tracks displace You and Your Sister as the last recorded Bell/Chilton session. The delicious harmonies and exquisite arrangement of the acoustic She Might Look My Way (Take 2) suggests a Big Star chimera and a path not taken. Worth getting for this track alone.

Alex Chilton in the studio producing The Cramps at Sam Phillips Recording Studio, Memphis, Tennessee. December 1977.



Martin Stephenson @ The Half Moon, Putney

September 18th 2019

A packed Half Moon gave an enthusiastic welcome to troubadour Martin Stephenson (Daintees) sympathetically supported by Jim Morrison (really) on violin, James Cole on banjo / guitar and Anna Lavigne on occasional vocals. The sound balance in this intimate setting was perfect, allowing Martin’s acoustic guitar picking to shine and his stream of jokes and stories to hit their mark. The material was a well judged blend of originals and rootsy covers such as Cannonball Rag (Merle Travis) and Deep River Blues (Delmore Brothers), giving a Mike Wilhelm/Ronnie Lane vibe. A highlight  of the first set was Goodbye John, Martin’s tribute to Speedy Keen. For the second set special guest John Perry (Only Ones) added his 1976 Martin acoustic to the mix. His clean and considered solos and subtle fills fitted seamlessly, belying the lack of rehearsal. Martin and Anna’s vocals combined perfectly on Signposts to Heaven before the band encored with rousing versions of Wholly Humble Heart (featuring Ian Roberts on vocals) and Little Red Bottle.

Gig Collectibles: exclusive selection of CDs released on Martin’s Barbaraville Records (£10)

Review written for Record Collector magazine

Photo credit: Anna Lavigne

First Set
Took My Gal A Walking  (Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers)
Cannonball Rag (Merle Travis)
All I do is dream (Arthur Freed)
Joe McCue
Deep River Blues (The Delmore Brothers)
Every Kind Of Heaven (Stephenson/Lavigne)
Goodbye John

Second Set
Western Eagle
Open Road (David Foster)
The Whisky
Stone Broke
Left Us To Burn
Little Red Bottle
Mother’s Son
Signposts to Heaven (Stephenson/Lavigne)
Me And Mathew
The Hangman
Salutation Road
Wholly Humble Heart
Little Red Bottle

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.

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’s future punk music biographies.


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:

Purchase ‘Johnny Thunders Sleeve Notes’, here:

Exclusive interview with the author:

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:


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