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LBB11 Review

LBB11 – Thursday

The Stairs, Graham Day & The Forefathers, The Wicked Whispers

Cor, blimey, Le Beat Bespoke ELEVEN? It only seems five minutes since the last one: what’s more, it only seems like yesterday I was musing on exactly the same thoughts. Wherever do our lives go?

This year is decidedly a bold step for the New Untouchables: for the first time, there is not one band or artist gracing the bill whose career predates the early-80s. THE WICKED WHISPERS, who like tonight’s headliners hail from equatorial Merseyside. Whilst I’ve never heard them before, their sound and appearance seem strangely familiar: (they twang their Rickenbackers and Telecasters with youthful fervour and exuberance, know their way round an eerie melody, and recall the Toytown stylings of Factory and Kaleidoscope as much as the West Coast hallucinogens of the Byrds, Charlatans and Music Machine, whose standout tune The People In Me they end with) their early 90s indie influences, by now an inevitable facet of any psych revival act, give them a defiantly British identity far more refreshing than many of their contemporaries’.

By contrast, GRAHAM DAY and his arse-kicking beat combo THE FOREFATHERS have always known where they want to be (in a word, Medway, where they’ve always been) and they revel in it. Sandwiched between two quintessentially North-Western acts, they couldn’t be more “Sahf Eastern” if they tried: whereas mate and mentor Billy Childish has spent half his career soaking up primal Americanisms, Day and long-term colleague Allan Crockford have always sounded, despite sharing the exact same blues, garage and RnR influences, like the bunch of Kents they are. This, of course, is why all their former bands were brilliant, and why they’re great. Thrashing through the tracks from their 2014 longplayer “Good Things” ( a mixture of Prisoners, Gaolers, Solar Flares and Prime Movers numbers re-recorded the way Day always envisaged them) they’re essentially, though they won’t thank me for this, the Mod or psych-garage-head’s equivalent to Motorhead, AC/DC or early Quo: rock’n’roll at its most undiluted and wilfully uncommercial, yet ironically featuring Beatles/Kinksesque hooks and melodies that could batter most so-called “mainstream” artists into oblivion.

And though something’s clearly up with Day’s guitar (thus robbing Love Me Lies and Begging You of about 30 percent of their overdrive) and Crockford’s allegedly brought the “wrong setlist”, these distractions only determine the trio further to grind such gremlins underfoot. Following a slight lull in pace, Sucking Out My Insides revives proceedings with incendiary aggression: the encore of Joe South’s/Deep Purple’s Hush is an arguably unnecessary adjunct to their own, far superior I Drink The Ocean, but one supposes every rock’n’roller must pay respect to his influences sometime and this has been in the set list on and off since the Prisoners days. The question is, will Day ever again channel his inherent Purpleness into performing selections from the Prime Movers’ Earth Church or Arc albums? What do you mean, “piss off”?

To mark their first London appearance in over 20 years, THE STAIRS have seemingly brought along an entire Scouse Mafioso of devotees and even if some of them do spend the entire set complaining about the volume (try not talking over everything, duckie, and you’ll hear it) the awe and reverence in which we all still hold them “dahn ere” obviously still pales into insignificance compared to their Godlike status up the ‘Pool. And so it should: without Edgar Summertyme-Jones and crew’s early 90s efforts, half the subsequent psych, R’n’B and indie acts that followed in their wake simply wouldn’t have followed. The Coral? Had they never heard “Mexican R’n’B”, they’d probably all be stacking shelves in the Hoylake branch of Tescos right now. Truly, the Stairs were, and are, that important so, now they’ve finally returned to show the pretenders how to do it properly, will they live up to the legend?

From the opening blues-pummel of Mary Joanna and Flying Machine, it would definitely seem (even if lead guitarist Ged Lynn’s distortion pedal doesn’t appear to be plugged in) that this is the case: When It All Goes Wrong and Mundane Monday have much the same (if more refined and textured) impact, although Russian Spy & I bumps the energy levels back to party proportions.

Woman Gone & Say Goodbye, Mr Window Pane and the evergreen Right In The Back Of Your Mind are as swaggeringly cocksure as any triumvirate of tunes can be, hitting the assembled fans (many of whom, including me, never saw ‘em first time round) in all the designated places. Conversely, just as many are bemused by both sides of the new single A Thousand Miles Away/Shit Town, the former sounding like extreme Canterbury prog fed through Robin Trower’s blues blender and the latter like the Swell Maps or TV Personalities on harder drugs than either ever took, but I personally find their uncompromising experimentalism encouraging after all, do you really want your favourite band to reform 20-odd years on having not developed in any way whatsoever? The Stairs have never danced to anyone’s tune but their own, and that’s what makes them special. And, somehow or other, I don’t see things changing. The final song of the set is Skin Up and the encore is (what else) Weed Bus. The Stairs represent the embodiment of everything New Untouchables has ever been about. Welcome back gentlemen.

LBB11 – Saturday

Jim Jones & The Rightous Mind plus Little Barrie and The Dustaphonics

Having sadly forgone Friday’s shenanigans, Saturday promised to be undoubtedly the most “rock n roll” of all four nights: definitely the most radical departure from the original NUTs template since the days of Circulus, albeit louder.

My apologies to the DUSTAPHONICS, who I was unable to see due to a family engagement in not-so-sunny West Kensington: having heard positive things about them, I was keen to catch at least some of their set, but after a while, it became apparent this wasn’t going to happen, something which also became increasingly true of LITTLE BARRIE as the hours wore on.

Nonetheless, the two songs I did catch were superb, full of bottom-heavy, fuzz-bass groove, and (though comparisons must be wearing thin by now) worthy of Zep at their best. Even from those eight minutes alone, it was evident that LB are not only light years ahead of any other band on the UK “vintage” scene, but any worldwide combo currently lauded as saviours of veteran heavy rock. Sadly, because of Barrie’s commitments (Morrissey, Primal Scream) they’ll possibly never be as big as the goddam should be. General sensors of opinion was that this was the show of the weekend

JIM JONES and the Righeous Mind mix the best elements of all three of Jones prior aggregations through a demonic, disjointed blender: it still rocks out, particularly on the thrudding grandeur of Base Is Loaded, Hold Up and Walk It Out, but there are more than three chords now, and it’s more angular, uncompromising. More Beefheart than Berry, more Red Krayola than Otis Redding, more King Crimson than King Curtis, more Sun Ra than Sun Studios. Unfortunately, this also means several quieter, blues’n’ jazz-tinged interludes, which a fair percentage of the crowd opt to natter over: whether this is down to the Mind being the most unusual Le Beat headliner yet or simply the unfamiliarity of the material is unclear, but there are definitely less transfixed attendees at the back than at the front. Once the album’s out and fully ingrained in their collective consciousness, though, they’re bound to pay more attention: with closing numbers as powerful as Alpha Shit, it looks as if they won’t have any choice in the matter anyway, and even Boil Yer Blood, which I have to admit I was resolutely unimpressed by on first hearing, is transformed into a stomping monster live, the dirtbox rhythms of drummer Lee Martini smashing thin air whilst Jones lurches and struts like some unhinged hybrid of Lee Brilleaux and Bill Hicks. Such a thunderous climax can’t fail to make impact, and by the closing chords, everyone’s been won over.


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Darius Drewe

Darius Drewe was born in East London in 1974. As a small child, both parents inflicted their musical tastes, from The Beatles and The Moody Blues to Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis, on him, and he was never the same again. Despite being born and bred a 'Cockney tosser', Drewe actually spent his teenage years in and around Birmingham, attending his first 60s/50s-themed nights there at The Ship Ashore, before "coming home" in 1993 to the South, where, with the exception of three years spent in Glasgow between 2007-2010, he has remianed ever since. In the almost two decades that have passed he has trod a strange meandering path from a shy 60s/70s-obsessed teen with no 'scene' to speak of to a Metalhead, sleaze-glammie, Goth, indie kid, glam-punker, garage-rocker, eventual Mod and psych freak (first attending Mousetrap in 2000) In that time he's also written for Shindig! Britmovie, DarkSide, Black Velvet and Get Ready To Rock, promoted various vintage and veteran acts at Camden Underworld, Glasgow Ivory Blacks and several other venues, DJed everything from psych, garage and soul to Metal at practically every well-known club in central London. Drewe is trying to build a time machine that will enable him to visit any period between 1960 and 1980 but still be able to use a mobile and Facebook. His ambition, aside from directing films and building said machine, is to morph into a cross between Jason King, Timmy Lea, Jerry Cornelius and Richard Hannay, and drift about the ether having adventures in a kipper tie, pinstriped flares and camel hair coat.

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May 4, 2016 By : Category : Bands Clubs DJs Events Front Page Music Reviews Tags:, , , , ,
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Roky Erickson Live – Darius Drewe

ROKY ERICKSON plays the music of the 13TH FLOOR ELEVATORS

Forum, London

13 April 2016

In “popular” music, most performers, once they pass 50, tend to find themselves tagged into one of several loose categories. There are greats, and there are not-so-greats: there are heroes, there are unsung heroes, and also-rans. And then there are legends.

But what exactly is a legend? And how do you become one? While there are obviously no easy answers to these questions, my own personal estimation would run something like this: any artist, performer or musician who, either by default or design, presaged an entire sea-change in their chosen field, pioneered developments before their widespread popularisation, and whose reputation, irrespective of all later achievements, continues unabated several decades after these events first took place.

In which case, it’s a term that definitely applies to Roky Erickson. The minute he sets foot onstage, white hair cascading over purple suit, the applause that follows can only be likened to the kind usually reserved for a Dimitri Payet goal. Not, of course, that it’s in any way unjustified: as the man who, with the 13th Floor Elevators, was among the very first if not the first to describe his music as “psychedelic”, and who genuinely dragged U.S. rock kicking and screaming from the quiffs of the greasers, the shorts of the surfers and the pop of the preppies into an altogether darker, dirtier and more twisted palace of mind-bending eargasm, he deserves more respect than any white American musician of his era (with the possible exception of Brian Wilson, Van Dyke Parks and Mike Nesmith) still living. Yet even their greatest works were polite and subdued compared to the Elevators’ output, which (to the relief of those who remember his puzzling, blues-oriented shows at the South Bank six years ago) forms the entirety of Roky’s set tonight: 50 years on, even played by younger musicians (including his eldest son on jug) it still sounds like the incendiary work of frenzied demons, and even the slightly muffled sound, which is soon remedied anyway, can’t stymie the power of Fire Engine , Earthquake or Slip Inside This House (how’s THAT for an opening triumvirate) in all their twanging, spingalanging glory.

Riffs echo, bass lines thud, drums bash: just as the Sonics did a year ago in this very same venue, Erickson and his merry band lay down an 80-minute crash course in the essentials of rock’n’roll, only augmented by the unique floating strains of electric jug rather than honking sax. Unbelievably, there are still some today who complain about the instrument: yet to these ears, it was always the establishing factor in the Elevators’ unique identity, the next logical step in the evolution of American music from the concept of the folk, rag or literal “jug band” to what we now casually refer to on a daily basis as “garage psych”, and, in the absence of any back projections (obviously the budget didn’t quite cover such things) a reassuring pleasure to still see in evidence.  Faced with the relatively prosaic environs of the Forum on a foggy Wednesday, we still need at least one direct line to outer space: besides, without it, Erickson’s music has never been quite the same, and though his “horror songs” of the 70s and 80s were undeniably great, without that hollow, echoing boop, there was always something missing.

By marrying such a unique instrument to screeching feedback that reflected the band’s love of the blues (lest we forget, Texas is officially in the South) and primitive rhythms that took as much influence from Gene Krupa as they did Ringo Starr or Jerry Allison (though the structures and dynamics of the Crickets were inevitably writ large throughout Roky’s songwriting and Stacy Sutherland’s guitar playing) the resultant sound, though undeniably that of a rock’n’roll band, couldn’t fail to be anything but psychedelic in nature. And, five decades on, even with different musicians though during the last 12 months, the actual Elevators have reformed and played back at home it still is. More to the point, so is his voice: sure, towards the end, there are a few sploughs and cutters, but mostly, his banshee-like wail is exactly as you imagine it to be, his unique mixture of eloquence, menace and pained emotion untroubled by the passing years.

She Lives In A Time Of Her Own, I’ve Got Levitation and my own personal favourite Reverberation (how many 90s bands named themselves after these tunes?) are both angry and joyous, uplifting and sultry: depending on which sector of the audience one stands next to (scenester Mods, bowl-bonced Nuggetheads, ageing punks, bearded hipsters, headbangers and my personal favourite at any psych gig, the dreadlocked crustie who dances like a twat, entirely oblivious throughout as to how much of your personal space he’s encroaching on) the reception is exultant for these, yet perhaps more muted for mellower numbers from the underrated Bull Of The Woods. The combined population of all those subcultures, however, are evidently gearing up towards one moment and when it finally arrives, You’re Gonna Miss Me is the thunderous finale of finales, the man himself practically drowned out by the yellings of 1500-odd acolytes who probably thought they’d never see this happen.

I don’t think he can quite believe it either: though the lead guitarist and bassist (again, probably still pinching themselves) do step in with the odd fumbling introduction on his behalf, Erickson’s only non-sung words to the audience throughout have, almost by way of sheer incredulity, been “thankyou”, and like many musicians who’ve spent their entire lives in North America, both he even though this is his third visit now and band are clearly overjoyed to be in London. As a result, they can’t quite leave yet, and so it’s with the screeching proto-metal thrash of Two Headed Dog that they take their exeunt: at least for now it’s final, though as with all musicians of a “certain age”, you hope that you’ll see them again soon and that the next time won’t be the last. Nevertheless, if this does prove to be my sole encounter with Roky Erickson, it’s one that will remain forever imprinted on my memory, regardless of its relatively brief duration: maybe, on reflection, that’s the definition of a legend…


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Darius Drewe

Darius Drewe was born in East London in 1974. As a small child, both parents inflicted their musical tastes, from The Beatles and The Moody Blues to Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis, on him, and he was never the same again. Despite being born and bred a 'Cockney tosser', Drewe actually spent his teenage years in and around Birmingham, attending his first 60s/50s-themed nights there at The Ship Ashore, before "coming home" in 1993 to the South, where, with the exception of three years spent in Glasgow between 2007-2010, he has remianed ever since. In the almost two decades that have passed he has trod a strange meandering path from a shy 60s/70s-obsessed teen with no 'scene' to speak of to a Metalhead, sleaze-glammie, Goth, indie kid, glam-punker, garage-rocker, eventual Mod and psych freak (first attending Mousetrap in 2000) In that time he's also written for Shindig! Britmovie, DarkSide, Black Velvet and Get Ready To Rock, promoted various vintage and veteran acts at Camden Underworld, Glasgow Ivory Blacks and several other venues, DJed everything from psych, garage and soul to Metal at practically every well-known club in central London. Drewe is trying to build a time machine that will enable him to visit any period between 1960 and 1980 but still be able to use a mobile and Facebook. His ambition, aside from directing films and building said machine, is to morph into a cross between Jason King, Timmy Lea, Jerry Cornelius and Richard Hannay, and drift about the ether having adventures in a kipper tie, pinstriped flares and camel hair coat.

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April 27, 2016 By : Category : Front Page Fuzz Garage General Music Psych Reviews USA Tags:,
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Jim Jones And The Righteous Mind

Jim Jones and the Righteous Mind, the new band from former Jim Jones Revue / Black Moses / Thee Hypnotics front man. The new band doesn’t exactly pick up where his previous one left off, there is bluesy garage rock guitars and honky-tonk style piano, but also more reflective and more experimental sounds. Tracks like Boil Yer Blood, the title track of their debut EP, are loud and raucous; but the gently psychedelic 1000 Miles From The Sure is more distinctive and the groovy Hold Up is driven by drums, handclaps and backing vocals in counterpoint to Jones’ crooning.

We very much look forwards to seeing them at Le Beat Bespoke 11 on the Saturday night! Darius Drewe caught up with them recently.

01. Let’s start with the new songs. The three I’ve heard already, from the “Boil Yer Blood” single, are sonically very disparate, meaning that whereas I could get a “handle” on your previous bands quite easily, I’m still slightly perplexed by the Righteous Mind. Is this band deliberately meant to be un-classifiable, or is there a more clearly defined “modus operandi” you haven’t unveiled yet?

Hello mate, Yeh, the Jim Jones Revue was a fairly specific sound and, as you say, easy to get a handle on, so, after eight years or so of that, which involved a lot of touring, the first thing you want to do is ‘everything else’ .. you know, travel to new and exotic lands etc.

There’s already more than an albums worth of Righteous Mind material recorded, and it is fairly varied, by design, but there is a thread, or a kind of pattern that you can get a hold of once you’ve heard a number tracks… On the Boil Yer Blood EP. though, it was a conscious decision to put quite a wide spectrum across as the first release, so as not to get boxed in too early in the game.

02. What particular musical influences have shaped this new venture? Have you discovered any new sounds that excite and thrill you, and if so, what are they?

All the same stuff mostly; roots music especially, but from a different angle than before; from the standpoint of time and experience… I think all truly great music comes back to haunt you again and again in the best possible way; it’s like a lesson that you learn a little deeper each time.

03. On a similar subject, do you ever get tired of shifting from band to band? This will be the fourth group you’ve fronted in just under 30 years, and from the MC5/Stooges-infused psychedelia of Thee Hypnotics through the funky soul rock of Black Moses to the rock’n’roll revivalism of the Revue, they’ve all differed from each other significantly. Obviously, many of music’s greatest innovators, from Bowie to Miles Davis, constantly reinvented themselves but do you think people ever wonder why you can’t/won’t remain in the same outfit for more than five years at a time? Or has it simply been an accidental mixture of coincidence and circumstance?

It’s probably more like eight to ten years at a time, but I’m not counting. Trouble is: not everyone has the stamina to regularly get out on the road for long periods of time and give a hundred and ten percent of yourself night after night, it can take it’s toll… Once it’s in the blood though, it’s hard to do anything else. Most people will have a lineup change and keep the same name, which I guess is the smart way to do it, but I suppose I’ve never been business minded in that way, I always see it as a chance to wipe the slate clean and reinvent yourself. Hopefully The Righteous Mind will be the one that keeps rolling. Which is another good reason for the broad horizon on the first single.

04. Tell me a little about the other members of the line-up and how you came to know them.

I’ve always been pretty lucky when it comes to finding good people to play with, and The Righteous Mind is no exception, in fact it maybe the best unit so far.

Gavin Jay, as you know, was also the bass player in the Jim Jones Revue. First time I saw him, he was playing in a small club, the band and the crowd were pretty static, but he was throwing himself into it with gusto; a sharp dressed man, who could play well, and knew how to put some presence onto the stage… I’ll have some of that! I ‘borrowed’ him at first but the Revue soon became ten times busier than his other band and the rest, as they say etc etc. Gav is really great to work with and is also known as ‘Mr One Take’ in the studio – He plays amazing stand up bass too, with and without a bow, which was ignored in the Revue for one reason or another, so that was one of the first things I wanted to utilize with the Righteous Mind.

Phil Martini is on drums, I’ve known Phil from a while back and from his previous band The Tokyo Dragons. He was my first choice for someone to work with, and I approached him as soon as JJR started making noises about calling it a day. I’m always pushing the drummer to try to find an unconventional groove, a different approach and something unusual sounding for each song, which isn’t always easy for them, but Phil’s taken everything I can throw at him without batting an eyelid. This has meant that I could work really fast at getting new material together.

On piano we have the brilliantly mysterious Matt Millership. Originally, Henri Herbert was set to be part of the project, but around the same time I was starting to work on the bare bones beginnings of the songs that I had, Henri’s YouTube clip of him playing piano in St Pancreas station went viral and he was flooded with offers to come and play straight boogie woogie piano which had been a lifetime dream for him, so I just said good luck, and wondered where the hell I was going to find someone as good as him (???) It was Henri himself who recommended Joe Glossop. Joe’s an amazing intuitive player who’s been around the block, we worked with him and got the lions share of the songs up to speed and subsequently recorded. Joe did the first short tour with us, but when it came time for the first single release he couldn’t do the show’s that went with it… ‘what do you mean you can’t do the shows ?’ – ‘Sorry, I’ve been asked to go on the road with Tom Jones’… fair enough, as long as it’s a Jones… So I had to hunt around again and was lucky enough to get Matt. He had been in the frame to possibly replace Elliot Mortimer in the JJR but the timing hadn’t worked out and that’s when Henri had turned up just in time. Matt jumped straight in where Joe left off and without missing a beat, we were on the road again.

Malcolm Troon (Dr Troon) is playing pedal steel, theremin, additional guitar and percussion. I’ve known Malcolm for a while as a hot-shot Denmark street guitarist. He’s a formidable musician, and also, like Matt, stepped in to rescue the band when our original and also incredibly talented guy David Page was called away by Rick Ruben and the gang to work on an LP.recording with The Ruen Brothers… Phil had worked with Mal before in the Dragons and it was his suggestion to get in touch with him. As you can imagine; finding a pedal steel player isn’t the easiest thing, let alone finding two of em! The pedal steel itself takes a high degree of skill and confidence to master, and to make matters worse; I’m asking these guys to then NOT play it in the traditional way but to subvert it and use it to create new sounds. They’re all great to work with and easy to be around, I can’t believe how lucky I am really.

05. Do you think this band has an advantage over its predecessors, inasmuch as that whereas all the others began at “cult” level and attempted to work their way up, you were already famous by the time you formed this one? It has enabled you to more or less launch straight into medium-sized venues and big festivals, whereas both Black Moses and the Revue began their careers in small clubs..

Yeh, it’s definitely taken some of the slog out of the thing.

06. With the Revue, you were definitely perceived as a flag bearer for the vintage/retro/revivalist scene that was proliferating in the UK at the time, filled out by bands like your close friends the Urban Voodoo Machine on one side and the likes of Vintage Trouble and Little Barrie on the other. Did that sort of tag piss you off? And if so, is the Righteous Mind a deliberate attempt to escape it?

To a certain extent yes; on the one hand it’s frustrating to be misperceived, as I’ve never viewed the old/new thing in that way… It was never to do with a trend; in fact it’s more of a ‘reaction’ to bullshit trend’s or fashions… It can be a fine line sometimes, and I’m quite aware of how easy it is to fall into a weird kind of role play, and you have to avoid that at all costs if you want to feel you’re doing something valid and not just regurgitating the past. Just to be clear though: if there’s a choice between old and new; and the old thing is still valid and in working order; 9 times out of 10 the old shit is 100 times better than the new shit.

07. When I first knew you, you were living near Ladbroke Grove but these days, you reside in “trendy” Dalston. How do you view the perceived “hipsterization” of the East End these days, and more importantly, the music scene in London in general?

Hackney has now become a bit like Ladbroke Grove was when I left there… I live in Walthamstow now, which is where I was actually born and it still hasn’t been completely gentrified.

08. And what about equipment? One musician of my acquaintance (won’t name him, but he recently joined a reformed 70s punk act on drums) is such a purist that in order to achieve what the believes to be the “true rock and roll sound”, he insists his other band, in which he writes the material, only use certain guitars, basses, kits and amps. And, though I wouldn’t take that approach myself, he’s not the only one. But where do you stand on it? Obviously I can imagine what you wouldn’t use- I’d be unlikely, for instance, to ever see you playing a BC Rich or an Ibanez- but are there any particular brands you favour? And how essential are they to your music?

It’s not to try to sound like someone else; because that’s a dead-end; but I like old stuff, if it’s still working, or new stuff that’s built as good as the old stuff. It feels more honest, like it’s come out of the earth.

09. A lot of your music tends to celebrate an atmosphere of bohemian, bacchanalian decadence. How much of it is genuine? Is it a creed by which you live your life? I only ask because I’ve seen you leap across tabletops at a party with drink in hand, surrounded by stunning burlesque women, but I’ve also seen you being domestic, reading your kid bedtime stories. Is there a “real” Jim Jones? Or is he a mixture of all those disparate elements?

Yeh, it’s always nice to be a little more three three-dimensional, don’t you think? You really can move between worlds, as Tom Waits says: ‘You don’t always have to stay the night.’

10. On that subject, do you think rock’n’roll musicians sometimes have to play up too hard to their public persona, sometimes resulting in their premature demise?

Yeh, it can become that ‘role play’ thing again. It’s all nonsense really… I think what a lot of people miss, is that the difference with people like Lemmy or Keef is that they put their work first.

11. Final question. It’s taken you approximately 28 years’ worth of work, self-belief and dedication to get where you are now – do you think everything you’ve had to endure along the way has been worth it? Or do you think that it’s more a reflection of how long it takes to achieve anything in this country outside of the mundane, and that had you been born in the US or Europe, you’d have been a star by your 20s instead of your 40s? More to the point, if longevity is the goal, do you think you’ll stay the course like your mentors Iggy Pop, Wayne Kramer and Tom Waits have?

I don’t think it’s any easier in the States or Europe although there is more money for arts in places like France, but then that’s one less thing to kick against… I’m a lifer, there’s no getting around it, and it’s not really a matter of choice, you know, more of a vocation… I think the key is: don’t look back !

Web Links:

www.righteousmind.co.uk
www.facebook.com/jjatrm
www.twitter.com/JJandtheRM
www.instagram.com/jjandtherm


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Darius Drewe

Darius Drewe was born in East London in 1974. As a small child, both parents inflicted their musical tastes, from The Beatles and The Moody Blues to Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis, on him, and he was never the same again. Despite being born and bred a 'Cockney tosser', Drewe actually spent his teenage years in and around Birmingham, attending his first 60s/50s-themed nights there at The Ship Ashore, before "coming home" in 1993 to the South, where, with the exception of three years spent in Glasgow between 2007-2010, he has remianed ever since. In the almost two decades that have passed he has trod a strange meandering path from a shy 60s/70s-obsessed teen with no 'scene' to speak of to a Metalhead, sleaze-glammie, Goth, indie kid, glam-punker, garage-rocker, eventual Mod and psych freak (first attending Mousetrap in 2000) In that time he's also written for Shindig! Britmovie, DarkSide, Black Velvet and Get Ready To Rock, promoted various vintage and veteran acts at Camden Underworld, Glasgow Ivory Blacks and several other venues, DJed everything from psych, garage and soul to Metal at practically every well-known club in central London. Drewe is trying to build a time machine that will enable him to visit any period between 1960 and 1980 but still be able to use a mobile and Facebook. His ambition, aside from directing films and building said machine, is to morph into a cross between Jason King, Timmy Lea, Jerry Cornelius and Richard Hannay, and drift about the ether having adventures in a kipper tie, pinstriped flares and camel hair coat.

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook

March 2, 2016 By : Category : Bands Clubs Events Front Page Interviews Music News Tags:, , ,
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Little Barrie

Little Barrie are a trio originally formed in Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England, who since relocated to London. Their sound is a mixture of Garage Rock, Rhythm & Blues, Surf and Psychedelia. The trio is behind the opening theme to ‘Better Call Saul’. Fronted by vocalist/guitarist Barrie Cadogan who has been a touring member of Primal Scream since 2006 and has also worked with artists such as Anton Newcombe, Spiritualized, Paul Weller, Pete Molinari and Scott Asheton. Drummer Virgil Howe is the son of Yes guitarist Steve Howe.

We very much look forwards to seeing them at Le Beat Bespoke 11 on the Saturday night! Darius Drewe caught up with them recently.

Over the last ten years, we have definitely seen a resurgence of musicians with similar inclinations, from Jim Jones’ numerous bands to the Stone Foundation, Cat Black (featuring your ex drummer Billy Skinner) Lynne Jackaman/Saint Jude, Miraculous Mule, Marcus Bonfanti and Vintage Trouble (USA). It seems like a “vintage rock” explosion. But do you see it as a scene? Or is it merely a simple case of several individual bands happening to be in similar places at similar times?

I don’t think some of the bands you mentioned have much in common musically. In cities there are always people making all different kinds of music at any given time. There’s also been an interest in rawer, stripped down forms of rock music for many years. There are bands and musicians that we have a camaraderie with like Jim Jones and Gil De Ray, either through gigging and working together or just liking each others music and having in interest in similar music, but I don’t see it as a scene.

How important is it to have clubs such as Blues Kitchen, What’s Cookin’, Heavy Load and of course our very own NUTs been to establishing it and encouraging musicians and music lovers to combine? And, conversely, now that venues all over the capital seem to be closing every day, how do you think it will be affected? Is there ANYTHING that you think should be done to prevent this wanton destruction?

Music venues, bars and clubs are hugely important to any cities music culture. Some new venues have appeared, but there are so many we’ve played over the years that are now sadly gone. Places where we also saw great gigs, heard new music and met people who have been important to our lives in many ways. These places should definitely be preserved for future generations. The social and cultural cleansing going on in London right now seems to be purely in the name of profit. The people at the top simply don’t care about places of artistic importance or encouraging creativity in the artists of the future. Central London is becoming more bland and boring each year. London could end up just being a giant dull shopping centre no one wants to hang out in, with only Disneyfied versions of its old cultural haunts aimed at the tourist market. The power of change lies with the money men, but I don’t think they give a shit.

On saying that though, the public shouldn’t be underestimated. People will still want to play and listen to music, go out and have a good time, you won’t stop that. Maybe folk will get more guerilla about things and get creative. It’s also easier for people to communicate now through technology and get their heads together.

Lewis: – I feel the  scene / atmosphere in London since I moved here in the early nineties has changed massively. I moved to London excited about music old and new, there were so many outlets for me to DJ music I had already collected and find out about and hear new things I was yet to discover. I genuinely felt I was in the middle of something really vibrant. I used to go to clubs and if I heard a song that was good but unknown people would react positively and now new things seem to clear the dance floor unless they have been on a major advert or radio campaign of some kind. I feel now that there is very little outlet for a scene to develop. Nothing is hidden or underground these days it seems so it doesn’t seem exotic or special. There are a very few venues such as the Blues kitchen that keep what I remember as a night dedicated to a certain quality of music rather than chasing the pound and playing it safe.

As a vocalist and guitarist, who would you say influenced you (Barrie) the most? I can hear traces of everyone from Steve Marriott and Robert Plant to Van Morrison, John Lennon, Dave Berry and even Duffy Power in there: I can even pick up a few traces of Brian Setzer and Gene Vincent!! However, all these could just as easily be accidental…

I’ve had so many influences over the years. As a vocalist I’m pretty limited but I was first drawn to more rhythmical singers like Chuck Berry, Bob Dylan and Lee Dorsey. I do love vocalists like Steve Marriott and Van Morrison but they’re leagues above me. As are all of my favourite singers like Sly and Rose Stone, Iggy Pop, Roky Erickson, Tina Turner, Gene Clark and the mighty Howlin’ Wolf to name a but a few.

My sisters record collection in the late ’80s was a huge influence on me guitar wise. My first big influence was John Squire, followed shortly by Johnny Marr, J Mascis, Jimi Hendrix (from my dad’s records), Ray Hanson from Jim Jones’ band Thee Hypnotics. From there everything opened up and over time keeps going. I’ll keep this short but I love Steve Cropper, Hubert Sumlin, Jimmy Nolen, Magic Sam, Neil Young, Michael Karoli, Ron Asheton, James Williamson, Tom Verlaine & Richard Lloyd, Stacey Sutherland, Danny Kirwan, Steve Jones, Link Wray, Wayne Kramer & Sonic Smith, Cliff Gallup… Better stop!

Though the band’s name is taken from your frontman, the sound is very much the combined work of three people. Do you think listeners sometimes have difficulty remembering that, and tend to not give Lewis and Virgil enough credit for what they bring to the table?

I can’t speak for other people but I think Lewis and Virgil’s presence on Little Barrie recordings and onstage is incredibly powerful. People definitely pick up on that at our live shows. Although the guitar can be upfront in our music and the sound has evolved over the years, it’s always been very rhythmical and beat driven. So much of that comes from the bass and drums. They have their own sound and groove. I do write alone a lot but it’s only when the three of us play together do the songs become what they should be. They’re brilliant musicians.

Has having a drummer with a world-famous father also been in any way advantageous to you, or might it be actually something you perceive as a bit of a millstone? Or do you reckon many people aren’t that aware of it anyway, and simply judge your music on its own merits?

Over to you Virgil: Virgil declined to answer!

Although you’re a contemporary band, your sound is undoubtedly rooted in the classic period of soul, blues and rock 1965-75: a song like Precious Pressure, for instance, sounds like it could easily have been lifted from an album of that period. When recording and playing, therefore, is there any particular guitar amplification, drum kit, bass cab, vocal mike, strings or even choice of instrument you would consider essential to achieving this sound?

We do like a lot of music from that era but we’ve never been on a mission just to replicate old records, we’re not purists. We just want to make music that sounds exciting to us and captures the feel we’re after. The aim is to find sounds we like and try to use them in our own way. Although I love a lot of old guitars and amps for their tone and character, they’re not essential. The key to capturing certain sounds in the studio or onstage has a huge amount to do with how the sounds are being recorded and who’s playing the instrument. To find engineers who understand the difference isn’t always easy. Two people I think are fantastic are Mike Burnham at Lovebuzz Studios in Bermondsey and Seb Lewsley who has worked with Edwyn Collins for many years. They know how to get great sounds. A lot of modern recordings involve over clinical by the book techniques which can kill the soul out of any performance. And for some reason some people nowadays seem reluctant to break those rules. Twelve high spec modern microphones on a drum kit and into a state of the art digital mixing desk won’t help you get a filthy sound like The Sonics. You’re better off with a cassette 4-Track or recording the band in one go on your phone and adding the vocal after.

How important is the bands image and how you present yourselves?

Image is important to us in our own ways. We all look different from each other and dress a little different too. I’m not really a flash dresser, but I do really like clothes and it’s always been important to me. I love old denim, vintage sweatshirts, military and motorcycle leathers and simple slim cut smarter jackets etc. and 60’s style boots. I wear a lot of ladies shirts.

Lewis: I have very little interest in following current trends unless something vibrant and vital has cropped up, most of it is the same old crap being regurgitated or some random baseless idea invented by people desperate to keep their job at a fashion / music mag. A lot of classic styles that I’m personally interested in are because they are things that have been generated by and represent attitude toward how you personally choose to live your life.

As a guitarist, you, Barrie, have played with some of music’s most legendarily “awkward” frontmen, such as Morrissey, Bobby Gillespie and Anton Newcombe, while the entire band has backed Paul Weller (also perceived as being slightly ‘difficult’ on occasion) Are these people the enfants terribles that their legends would suggest, or is it mainly press speculation and exaggeration?

I can only speak from my own experience. These people have all been cool
with me.

One of the biggest influences all three members share is obviously the blues, and a few years ago, two of you got to “live the dream”, as it were, when you went to New York to play for Hubert Sumlin. Tell us a little about that experience.

We opened for Hubert at a gig in 2005. We first met him the year before when we were both on the same US label for a few years. We’d asked if there was any chance of meeting him but didn’t expect anything. So we were in New York for the first time on a promo ‘meet and greet’ trip and had to do this awkward lunchtime showcase gig in the label office in front of the staff (about 15 of them) playing through little amps. We were just setting up and Hubert walks in and sits down right in front of us. I was half over the moon and half shitting myself because now we had to play in front of him. It seemed to go ok although it was nerve-wracking as hell, he was the guitar on Killing Floor! Hubert was a lovely guy, very kind mannered and charismatic. He spent quite a lot of time chatting and took a few pictures with us. He was very encouraging. The following year we were recording in Brooklyn with Russell Simins playing drums. The label had brought him to the studio with the idea of us doing a song together but we never got chance to get stuck into anything. But a week or so later we got a gig opening for him in Manhattan. Towards the end of his set he called me up onstage to play Got My Mojo Working with him. I couldn’t believe it was happening. It was one of the best moments of my life, a true privilege. We hung out and talked with him longer that night. He told us some amazing stories, about him getting his first guitar, him leaving Wolf’s band for a short while to play with Muddy Waters and also that he thought his brother was a better guitar player than he was. It means even more now he’s no longer with us. We were all grateful to have met him.

We couldn’t go much further without discussing your highest-profile recording to date, the theme to the hit US TV show Better Call Saul. How did this come about?

We were approached by Thomas the music director for the series. He was into the band and had all of our albums, which was bizarre to us as he was based in LA and we hadn’t played there much at all. He asked if I could write 17 variations of a short guitar piece for the main title theme of the show and get them recorded in three days. I scrapped all other plans, got them done and we recorded and mixed them on day three and sent them off to him that evening. A few days later he got back to us and asked for 12 more variations, so we did the same thing. Other people were pitching for it too. A few weeks later we found out they’d chosen our theme, which was really cool. It was nice surprise – I’d never even seen
Breaking Bad.

Your new album has seen you experimenting with Krautrock influences- is this something you’ve always been a fan of?

Yes I first discovered Can in the early/mid 1990’s. I’d read somewhere that their sound may have influenced band like the Stone Roses and Happy Mondays who inspired me a great deal. I went out to Selectadisc and bought the Ege Bamyasi album – It totally blew me away. It sounded so modern still and it was from 1972 or something. It was mesmerising, they had a fairly regular rock band set up – guitar, bass, drums & keys but played nothing like British or American rock n roll or R&B. The core of it being that amazing hypnotic rhythm of Jaki Leibezeit’s drums. I got to play with Damo Suzuki a few years back in Paris with a few friends of mine. It was great. He’s an amazing guy, he had some stories too. About his adventures traveling the world solo in the late ’60s. He came to see us when we played in Cologne and took us a Russian bar after the show. A gentleman, a hero and a great host.

You’re already onto your fourth album, in what seems like a short space of time, and each has been a progression from the last, suggesting immense longevity for the future. But where do you see Little Barrie in two decades? Will you still be touring and recording?

To be honest I think we make albums fairly slowly, but some of that can be down to other commitments and financial constraints. We’re writing a new album right now. Little Barrie in two decades??! Who knows… It would be cool if we still played together though. I want to play for as long as I can.

I’m actually doing what you did in reverse in a few months, and decamping from the South to the East Midlands. How would you describe the music scene up there, and are there any clubs or venues you’d particularly recommend, particularly with regard to psych, garage, freakbeat, prog or vintage rock?

I’m probably the worst person to ask Darius… I’ve been in London for 15 years now and am very out of touch with what’s happening in Nottingham these days. I don’t get to go back very often and when I do it’s all about seeing family and a few old friends if I can. But I’ll try to ask a few people and get back to you if they have any ideas. Quite a few of my old friends are music fans and big record collectors. There’s some good record shops there – Look up Rob’s Records and Big Apple for second-hand stuff. There’s also a Rough Trade and probably others too. They could be good places to meet people.


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Darius Drewe

Darius Drewe was born in East London in 1974. As a small child, both parents inflicted their musical tastes, from The Beatles and The Moody Blues to Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis, on him, and he was never the same again. Despite being born and bred a 'Cockney tosser', Drewe actually spent his teenage years in and around Birmingham, attending his first 60s/50s-themed nights there at The Ship Ashore, before "coming home" in 1993 to the South, where, with the exception of three years spent in Glasgow between 2007-2010, he has remianed ever since. In the almost two decades that have passed he has trod a strange meandering path from a shy 60s/70s-obsessed teen with no 'scene' to speak of to a Metalhead, sleaze-glammie, Goth, indie kid, glam-punker, garage-rocker, eventual Mod and psych freak (first attending Mousetrap in 2000) In that time he's also written for Shindig! Britmovie, DarkSide, Black Velvet and Get Ready To Rock, promoted various vintage and veteran acts at Camden Underworld, Glasgow Ivory Blacks and several other venues, DJed everything from psych, garage and soul to Metal at practically every well-known club in central London. Drewe is trying to build a time machine that will enable him to visit any period between 1960 and 1980 but still be able to use a mobile and Facebook. His ambition, aside from directing films and building said machine, is to morph into a cross between Jason King, Timmy Lea, Jerry Cornelius and Richard Hannay, and drift about the ether having adventures in a kipper tie, pinstriped flares and camel hair coat.

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February 22, 2016 By : Category : Bands Front Page Interviews Music News UK Tags:, , ,
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Live! – PP Arnold

This entry is part 20 of 20 in the series Live!

PP ARNOLD/ CLIFF BENNETT/ DAVE BERRY/ RAY PHILLIPS/ WEE WILLIE HARRIS

The Borderline, London

Jan 31 2016

BUGGER. I’ve missed Wee Willie Harris. Mind you, the fault’s entirely my own…

To explain: the Labyrinth screening I’d earlier attended at the nearby Prince Charles Cinema had wrapped by 5.20, giving me well adequate time to zip round to the Borderline but unfortunately, the subsequent Q&A, even if it was only with the movie’s SFX men, ran later, and, wanting to remember and honour my departed hero Bowie in whatever way possible, there I sat. I’m sure you understand…

That said, I didn’t expect the legendary Mr ‘Arris to actually begin at 5 30pm prompt I thought that’s what time the doors opened!! By way of consolation, I suppose, I did at least get to meet the great man (considered so famous, in 1962, that the nascent Beatles queued for his autograph) but though he seemed friendly enough, he also cordially informed me he wouldn’t be playing any more London dates this year (he is 82) and looked very disappointed that I didn’t have a spare tenner with which to buy his CD. According to reports since received, he was brilliant, and played twice the amount of tunes he was scheduled to do, including the evergreen “Rockin At The Two Is’” “Kansas City” and “Razzle Dazzle”- but I guess, ultimately, that I’ll have to wait til the DVD comes out to judge for myself, and then that’ll be my lot.

So, thusly resigned to my predicament, and settled into a cosy viewing corner, I prepare for my first treat of the day: Mr Ray Phillips of the Nashville Teens. Black-clad with a fetching crown of feathery white-blonde hair, he’s still every inch the raucous rock’n’roller/beat boomer of yore (of your what?- Ed) with stagecraft and moves intact: churlish detractors may complain that watching him (backed by the ever-able Tales From The Woods Band) belting out standards like “Mona” “Hoochie Coochie Man” and “Route 66” is nothing they can’t see weekly down their local, but to do so would be to miss the point altogether. For a start, every original beat or R’n’B band began this way, just as the Strypes have also recently done: in addition, at one point or another, the Teens backed pretty much every artist originally responsible for such tunes on their UK visits. And besides, surely it’s not the actual song, but the interpretation, that matters? At least that’s what I was brought up to believe.

In short, a cover is only dull if a performer fails to stamp their own identity on it: in Phillips’ case, his rakish persona and powerful range does exactly that, and his take on “I Put A Spell On You” (extra kudos, by the way, to the TFTW pianist for eerie voodoo vamps) is sensational. He even manages to make “Bony Maronie”, a song I openly despise with fervour, sound palatable and still attacks the Teens hit “Tobacco Road” (which, lest the doubters forget, was also a cover) with the streetwise grit you’d expect from someone born and raised in the back alleys of, er, Weybridge and Chertsey. Ok, so Thames Delta blues isn’t as authentic as Mississippi Delta blues- but with hindsight, it’s now become almost as historically important, and the NT’s, who were there when it was all kicking off, and are still (albeit in altered form) kicking it now, played a major part in shaping the music we love. Without their input, British beat and garage as we know them would be quite different beasties and as far as I’m concerned, this alone gives Phillips the right to keep at it for longer than “Forty Days”

However much of a genial, enjoyable and straight down the line entertainer Phillips may be, though, nothing steals the audience for the immediate change of mood that descends once Dave Berry takes the stage. The minute he appears, partially obscured as ever by mike lead, black glove a-pointing, the crowd are captivated: and while it’s quite commonplace during London gigs to hear people gasbagging away, even through their favourite bands, the minute he leans his lithe and bony frame (so ephemeral you fear it could crack at any moment like a twig) into the mike to croon the opening verse of “Just Want A Little Bit”, a hush falls upon the Borderline’s wooden eaves. This, ladies and gents, is a rock’n’roll star. Not, I should stress, that Wee Willie and Ray P aren’t stars: it’s simply that until you’ve witnessed Dave in action, even if only for the duration of an eight-song set, you can’t possibly comprehend how important, influential and instrumental this bloke has been in defining the British “rock frontman” as we know it.

From soon-come 60s icons like Jagger, Daltrey and Rod Stewart to 70s glamsters such as David Essex and Alvin Stardust (the latter actually a contemporary of Dave’s under his original name Shane Fenton) and again, even down to the initials and similar-sounding surname, the mighty Bowie, half the UK’s most revered performers began as Berry disciples: the fact that he disappeared (entirely of his own choosing) into comparative obscurity at the height of his fame, only to resurface two decades later like nothing had changed and then keep going for another thirty years, is if anything further evidence of his legend and mystique. At times, it’s like watching one of the Verne Brothers from Hammer’s classic rock’n’roll horror Black Carrion playing live before you, and, accordingly, his choice of material from actual hits he enjoyed (“Memphis Tennessee”, “Little Things”) through songs he now regrets turning down (the Yardbirds’ “Heart Full Of Soul”) to others he admired later (Nick Lowe’s evergreen “I Knew The Bride”) is further evidence of his ephemeral, eerie, always-here-but-not-quite-
there persona.

Even the song that earned him the unique honour of “biggest-selling ever single in the Benelux nations” is similarly odd: written (but not recorded) by one Raymond Douglas Davies of the Kinks, a massive hit “over there” but still an obscurity over here, and featuring one of the most haunting chord sequences known to man. Yet it still has “This Strange Effect” on us. And we like it. Still youthful at 75, he’s not afraid to divest himself of his natty black jacket either, revealing his see-through black silk blouse to the ladies with a sly wink: and, though I’m sure he gets tired of singing it, he nails “The Crying Game” (what the hell, regardless of all dodgy covers by Boy George and, er, Keith Allen, it’s still a great song) in note-perfect fashion. For me, he was the undoubted highlight of the show: much as I was looking forward to every act today, I didn’t actually want him to finish. I guess I’ll have to try to catch him playing a full set soon: maybe, if I persuade him nicely beforehand, he might even do “The Coffee Song”…

What can I say about Cliff Bennett that I didn’t already mention last time? As MC Stuart “Rock N Roll Man” Coleman (himself also a former popsike star with Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours) conveys in his introduction, the geezer is, frankly, little short of a miracle: I still don’t know how, at almost 76, he sings with the same unbridled energy, aggression and hoarse blues-wailin’ oompah he possessed in 1958, 1968 and 1975, especially when I’ve recently seen certain musicians of only 40-odd deliver what have been, by comparison, decidedly desultory performances , but he does. Having forsaken music in the 70s for a comfortable career in shipping (actual vessels, not parcel post) you’d have thought he’d have lost his “Mojo” way back but no, it’s still working fine, with enough rambunctious rock’n’soul revelry in the likes of “Watch Your Step” “Slow Down” “Why Me”, “Knock On Wood” and “Midnight Hour” to shock any premature sleepers back into wakefulness. Sure, I’d prefer to hear some of his own material occasionally (even if he apparently finds my self-proclaimed fondness for Toe Fat rather risible) but in a month which has robbed us of so many heroes, it’s a joy to watch him belt anything out and at a time when certain other Cliffs of our collective childhoods are doing their best not to crumble before our eyes, it’s reassuring to see this one standing sedentary.

A final round of interval sounds from fabled disc-spinner John “Angry” Howard can only herald the imminent arrival of the act most Mods’n’soulies present (opposed to the usual mixture of Teds, oldies and rockers) have come to see: the unmistakable PP Arnold. Purveying pretty much a truncated version of last year’s full Jazz Caff set, and managing within a tight 45 minutes to enter, perform, schpiel, deliver and quit like only a true professional can, she remains the yardstick by which practically every black female vocalist is now measured: since her arrival in the UK nearly 50 years ago, she’s crossed paths with Andrew Oldham, Steve Marriott, Billy Nicholls, Keith Emerson and Cat Stevens, become the doyenne of a thousand Mod allnighters and scooter rallies, and her 45s and b-sides are now as much part of all our turntable educations as those of any lesser-known diva the elitist white-labelling DJs may throw at us.

Opener “Whatcha Gonna Do” demonstrates that like all her onstage predecessors, she’s lost none of her vocal force: granted, her between-song banter (“is Davey O’List here? I put him on the O’List…” she remarks of her ever-absent former guitar-slinger, himself shortly to headline the same venue with his prog set should he remember to turn up) may mark her out as batty as a fruitcake, and she may be full of the standard “love everybody” proclamations typical of someone who first hit big in ’67, but why the hell not? This is one of soul music’s greatest living attractions, still adoring life at nearly 70 years of age when my generation are already despondent in our 40s, and bouncing with energy many younger artists would kill for. “River Deep…”, nodding sagely to her Ikette background, is swiftly followed by Mr Y. Islam of Kilburn’s evergreen “First Cut…”, then her own composition “Am I Still Dreaming”: realising time is against us, she ends with a vengeful triumvirate of Carole King’s “Natural Woman” Stevie Wonder’s “Uptight” and Chip Taylor’s “Angel Of The Morning” (Billie Davis, stood next to me, hasn’t rehearsed or prepared a single word, and is thus clearly relieved for once not to be invited up to duet) with such exuberance that several “shakier” patrons are nearly sent rocketing forwards.

Undeniably, the joys of a TFTW gig are always tempered with bittersweet reality: as we’ve often realised at Le Beat Bespoke also, these are artists we may never see again, and in 2016, the harsh truth of human mortality resonates with us more seemingly than ever before. However, even after we’ve passed, great music, whether Mod, rocker or even square (maaan) will live on: in 1957, at the 2-I’s or Ace, the idea of an artist’s career lasting five years was unthinkable, yet by the time of the R’n’B boom that birthed the Marquee, 100 Club and Eel Pie Island, we’d already crossed that bridge, and the explosions of freakbeat, psych, prog, glam, pub and punk that followed (bleeding eventually into the 80s and the first waves of ‘revivalism’) have led us all, NUTs included, back to where we are now. In which case, assuming London’s still standing, I may well meet you in this same venue in another 30 years.

Here’s hoping.


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Darius Drewe

Darius Drewe was born in East London in 1974. As a small child, both parents inflicted their musical tastes, from The Beatles and The Moody Blues to Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis, on him, and he was never the same again. Despite being born and bred a 'Cockney tosser', Drewe actually spent his teenage years in and around Birmingham, attending his first 60s/50s-themed nights there at The Ship Ashore, before "coming home" in 1993 to the South, where, with the exception of three years spent in Glasgow between 2007-2010, he has remianed ever since. In the almost two decades that have passed he has trod a strange meandering path from a shy 60s/70s-obsessed teen with no 'scene' to speak of to a Metalhead, sleaze-glammie, Goth, indie kid, glam-punker, garage-rocker, eventual Mod and psych freak (first attending Mousetrap in 2000) In that time he's also written for Shindig! Britmovie, DarkSide, Black Velvet and Get Ready To Rock, promoted various vintage and veteran acts at Camden Underworld, Glasgow Ivory Blacks and several other venues, DJed everything from psych, garage and soul to Metal at practically every well-known club in central London. Drewe is trying to build a time machine that will enable him to visit any period between 1960 and 1980 but still be able to use a mobile and Facebook. His ambition, aside from directing films and building said machine, is to morph into a cross between Jason King, Timmy Lea, Jerry Cornelius and Richard Hannay, and drift about the ether having adventures in a kipper tie, pinstriped flares and camel hair coat.

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March 2, 2016 By : Category : Bands Front Page Music Reviews Tags:, , , , , ,
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Live! – Ginger Baker

This entry is part 19 of 20 in the series Live!

GINGER BAKER’S AIR FORCE III

Borderline, London

Jan 26 2016

When I was a nipper, the idea of people in their 70s still leading rock bands seemed unthinkable: even the crooners and jazzers my parents adored were already winding down their careers and shuffling off into the “well shrunk shank” of Shakespearian parlance. Not, of course, that they’re necessarily averting that very same fate now: the last two months have seen the passing of more icons than any of us would have wished, and I’m sure that by the end of the year, we’ll have witnessed dozens more.

Yet at 76 going on 77, it would seem nothing can dampen the enthusiasm of the irrepressible Ginger Baker, launching yet another brand new aggregation with both fire and pride. Cantankerous and curmudgeonly he may well be (at least if you take the 2012 documentary Beware Of Mr Baker at face value) but his stubborn refusal to take it easy at an age where most have already thrown in the towel is also what a sold-out Borderline crowd (the venue being understandably rammed to capacity) respects about him the most. That, and being one of the finest drummers to walk
the earth…

That said, our Ginge looks decidedly tired and frail as he climbs onstage this evening: though, as one of his duo of drop-dead gorgeous black female vocalists informs me post-gig, he simply can’t bear hanging around doing nothing, and lives for the joy of live performance, he should maybe, on reflection, have taken a little more time to recover from his recent hip injury (his general health, I’m assured, is otherwise tip-top) before going back on the road, for, as he freely admits throughout in his lugubrious Sarf Lahndahn tones, he’s still “done in” “unwell” and not quite capable of giving his all.

Due to this predicament, potentially exhaustive showpiece “Ginger Spice” is dropped from the set, because, in his own words, “it would finish me off” Nonetheless, thankfully, the entirety of what we do get is, frankly, as near to perfect as possible: much like the original AirForce lineup, this one purveys a heady blend of fusion, soul, Afrobeat and mellow psychedelic rock which on this coldest of January nights (something else which can’t be doing his health any good) is warming to the heart, ears, mind and soul alike. A “strange brew” indeed, and a beautiful one that should be palatable to Mods, jazzers and rockers alike.

Sure, the rhythms are neither as frenetic nor anarchic as before, but that was equally true at his 75th bash in 2014: at this stage in his life, Ginger is a calmer, wiser more measured and man, and, for reasons that echo his new-found serenity and calm (the infamous “Jack Bruce memorial incident” aside) as much as they do an open acknowledgement of his health, the choice of material now leans far more towards the slower and mid-paced end of his cannon than before. Thus, opener “Sweet Wine” and the militaristic, menacing jungle beats of “Aiko Baye” are as close as we get to uptempo. Yet because this is Ginger Baker, to expect anything less than percussive dexterity, even on the gentle, lilting “Can’t Find My Way Home” or the quirky, eccentric “Pressed Rat And Warthog” (so much more romantic sung in a female voice) would be to miss the point entirely.

Sure, the rhythms are neither as frenetic nor anarchic as before, but that was equally true at his 75th bash in 2014: at this stage in his life, Ginger is a calmer, wiser more measured and man, and, for reasons that echo his new-found serenity and calm (the infamous “Jack Bruce memorial incident” aside) as much as they do an open acknowledgement of his health, the choice of material now leans far more towards the slower and mid-paced end of his cannon than before. Thus, opener “Sweet Wine” and the militaristic, menacing jungle beats of “Aiko Baye” are as close as we get to uptempo. Yet because this is Ginger Baker, to expect anything less than percussive dexterity, even on the gentle, lilting “Can’t Find My Way Home” or the quirky, eccentric “Pressed Rat And Warthog” (so much more romantic sung in a female voice) would be to miss the point entirely.

Granted, he’ll probably never play “Toad” (despite the inevitable catcalls for it) or “NSU” again, but even on the slow stroll of the prosaically-titled tribute “Cyril Davis”, his ever-busy, inventive stickwork still crams more into two bars than most other jazz or rock drummers manage in an entire evening. Every rim shot, offbeat, accent, fill and roll, ably supported (though never overshadowed) by the ebullient conga-playing of long-time collaborator Abas Doodoo and the fluid bass runs of Alec Dankworth, is a joy, the sound of dual saxophonists (there’s no guitar or keyboard in the mix tonight to drown the music’s roots in rock cliché) providing the perfect icing to this particular Baker’s undeniably delicious cake. Not bad, considering this is literally the first time the combined lineup have performed together in public.

Long breaks – occasionally featuring Doodoo inciting the crowd in riotous chants of the great man’s name to encourage his return are taken between songs for water and oxygen, but the audience’s love and admiration of their hero never wavers, and while he himself may not be feeling particularly great, his enthusiasm is evident on the closing “Why”, medleyed to powerful effect with both “Sunshine Of Your Love” and perhaps the definitive AirForce number “Early In The Morning” Close your eyes for two minutes and you could easily have been at Buxton in 1970 or 72, suffused by candles, joss-sticks and the garish glow of African tapestries. Fela would be proud.

Of course, we’re not, and no amount of nostalgia can alter the fact that we’re now in the presence of a very senior legend indeed: yet he’s a legend that steadfastly refuses to lie down and retire, and if he’s still this captivating playing for only 50 minutes (7 songs out of a planned 8) then I for one can’t wait to witness what excitements a full theatre show in April (annoyingly, the London date clashes with Earl Slick’s performance of Station To Station, so I’ll have to see him in Birmingham) or indeed his upcoming Ramblin’ Man appearance in July, will hold.

Obviously, while I’ll happily travel anywhere to watch him play for however long he chooses, I’d prefer it if I didn’t have to spend the entire duration worried whether or not he’ll make the end: bear in mind, I witnessed the demise of Mick Farren on this very same stage a couple of years back, and still haven’t quite gotten over the experience. Yet somehow, I’m sure Ginge will make both, even in the bluest of blue conditions: though he may still occasionally play “Presence Of The Lord” (not tonight though) he has no desire to actually be in it yet. May he roll and tumble for as long as possible.


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Darius Drewe

Darius Drewe was born in East London in 1974. As a small child, both parents inflicted their musical tastes, from The Beatles and The Moody Blues to Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis, on him, and he was never the same again. Despite being born and bred a 'Cockney tosser', Drewe actually spent his teenage years in and around Birmingham, attending his first 60s/50s-themed nights there at The Ship Ashore, before "coming home" in 1993 to the South, where, with the exception of three years spent in Glasgow between 2007-2010, he has remianed ever since. In the almost two decades that have passed he has trod a strange meandering path from a shy 60s/70s-obsessed teen with no 'scene' to speak of to a Metalhead, sleaze-glammie, Goth, indie kid, glam-punker, garage-rocker, eventual Mod and psych freak (first attending Mousetrap in 2000) In that time he's also written for Shindig! Britmovie, DarkSide, Black Velvet and Get Ready To Rock, promoted various vintage and veteran acts at Camden Underworld, Glasgow Ivory Blacks and several other venues, DJed everything from psych, garage and soul to Metal at practically every well-known club in central London. Drewe is trying to build a time machine that will enable him to visit any period between 1960 and 1980 but still be able to use a mobile and Facebook. His ambition, aside from directing films and building said machine, is to morph into a cross between Jason King, Timmy Lea, Jerry Cornelius and Richard Hannay, and drift about the ether having adventures in a kipper tie, pinstriped flares and camel hair coat.

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March 2, 2016 By : Category : Bands Front Page Music Reviews Tags:, , ,
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Live! – Trader Horne

This entry is part 18 of 20 in the series Live!

TRADER HORNE

Bush Hall, London

Nov 29 2015

Folk Rock. Beloved of hippies and woolly-pully music teacher types, often tinged (in the memories of many Brits, anyhow) with an unfortunate association to school Christian groups and the even more unpalatable aroma of Jesus sandal-encrusted feet, its evolution nevertheless shares not only an era but a kinship (and several key musicians) with the psych, garage, beat, bubblegum and freakbeat so beloved
of NUTs.

Besides (yea verily, forsooth and with a hey nonny nonny) has not even our venerable founder Dr Robert dipped his Chelsea boots into ye olde witchy pond, by promoting both mediaeval lute-progsters Circulus and folk-inflected heavy-freakrockers Purson? I think you’ll find he has. Yet still, both stigma and stereotype stick to the genre like leather patches stick to the elbows of corduroy jackets, thusly (bloody hell, I’m even talking like one of Neil Innes’ Holy Grail minstrels now) leading many a Scenester to question whether such bands should be featured in NUTsmag to begin with.

However, when the band in question happens to be Trader Horne- formed by a founder member of Them/Belfast Gypsies and the original, ’67 psych-era vocalist of Fairport Convention, also in semi-legendary Toytown popsikers Giles Giles & Fripp and they’ve reunited for the first time since 1969 to perform their solitary classic album “Morning Way” in full, then the answer is a resounding yes. Especially when sonically, the material actually sounds far closer to the work of The Mamas & Papas, Free Design, the Great Society, Paul Parrish, Decca-era Cat Stevens or even (on “Here Comes The Rain”) Brasil 66 than anyone you’d ever stick your finger in your ear to whilst “singing in the round”.

In short, this music doesn’t hail from the distant turnip fields of Sussex, ala Shirley & Dolly Collins: this is the inner-city folk of Swinging London ’69, of the Troubadour, Bunjies and Les Cousins, with at least one tune (“Sheena”) that could EASILY be slipped into a Mousetrap or Crossfire playlist somewhere between the Searchers’ “Umbrella Man” and Kaleidoscope’s “Dive Into Yesterday” And, with original duo Judy Dyble and Jackie McAuley now backed by a quintet of younger musicians (aka the Perfect Strangers) that understand how to respect the zeitgeist (or should that be “psychgeist”?) of the time without traversing the dreaded realms of nostalgia, it still sounds, thankfully, contemporary.

If I have one complaint, it’s that of the two keyboardists, the one that isn’t Alasdair Murphy seems to favour at times a far more “early 80s Radio 2” sound than his counterpart, replacing the more eerie, mellotron-infused textures of the original with a slight coat of “Mantovarnish”, but still, I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that this is merely a matter of budgetary and technical constraints rather than any conscious artistic decision. Similarly, the discordantly pretty interludes (glockenspiel, flute, stylophone, piano) that bridge each number on the original are absent, presumably because in a live setting, they would be both distracting and difficult to replicate. Yet the lyrically more-relevant-than-ever “Mixed Up Kind” “Children Of Oare” “Growing Man” and the title track (possibly the best song Grace Slick and Paul Kantner never wrote, building to a rousing, arm-waving climax comparable in a live setting to Donovan’s “Atlantis”) are strong enough to exist independently of such quaint frills anyway, with Dyble and McAuley (all the more incredible achievement considering they allegedly only undertook five rehearsals prior to the performance) both note-perfect.

True, the solo material with which they preface the main set is mixed, with Dyble’s bleak, progressively-inclined and defiantly uncommercial latter-day compositions (though melodicism remains her strongest suit, recent allusions to her being the “female Scott Walker of folk” are not that wide of the mark) far outshining the more straightforward, major-key and noticeably Dylanesque approach of her band mate, but the passion and vigour is equal, and neither at any stage sound like the work of tired old musicians. Likewise, Murphy’s own efforts (aired early on) show similar promise, one in particular recalling the work of both John Howard (a Mancunian singer-songwriter worthy of much investigation currently employing, if Mod reference points are required, the services of one Andy Lewis on bass) and Brian Protheroe (best known for “Pinball”, latterly covered by Matt Deighton)

Will tonight remain a one-off? It’s hard to tell, but now they’ve found one another again after 45 years, it would be a shame for Dyble and McAuley, their enterprising solo work notwithstanding, to simply bid farewell and part a second time. Lest we forget, “Morning Way” is one of the most perfect examples of the psych-folk genre: if there’s any possibility that now, they might at last follow it with something of similar calibre, then (providing it was produced properly with the right keyboard and guitar sounds) I’d definitely like to hear it, as I’m sure would Rise Above supremo Lee Dorrian, who recently launched new releases for Comus and The Sorrows, and was very much in attendance. And, while both songwriters may be genuinely surprised by the number of attendees they’ve drawn on this coldest, rainiest of November nights, the tumultuous applause that echoes round Bush Hall as they take their final bows suggests there may well be a good few more trips round the ‘Horne left to come. How bona to vada their dolly old eeks.


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Darius Drewe

Darius Drewe was born in East London in 1974. As a small child, both parents inflicted their musical tastes, from The Beatles and The Moody Blues to Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis, on him, and he was never the same again. Despite being born and bred a 'Cockney tosser', Drewe actually spent his teenage years in and around Birmingham, attending his first 60s/50s-themed nights there at The Ship Ashore, before "coming home" in 1993 to the South, where, with the exception of three years spent in Glasgow between 2007-2010, he has remianed ever since. In the almost two decades that have passed he has trod a strange meandering path from a shy 60s/70s-obsessed teen with no 'scene' to speak of to a Metalhead, sleaze-glammie, Goth, indie kid, glam-punker, garage-rocker, eventual Mod and psych freak (first attending Mousetrap in 2000) In that time he's also written for Shindig! Britmovie, DarkSide, Black Velvet and Get Ready To Rock, promoted various vintage and veteran acts at Camden Underworld, Glasgow Ivory Blacks and several other venues, DJed everything from psych, garage and soul to Metal at practically every well-known club in central London. Drewe is trying to build a time machine that will enable him to visit any period between 1960 and 1980 but still be able to use a mobile and Facebook. His ambition, aside from directing films and building said machine, is to morph into a cross between Jason King, Timmy Lea, Jerry Cornelius and Richard Hannay, and drift about the ether having adventures in a kipper tie, pinstriped flares and camel hair coat.

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December 1, 2015 By : Category : Bands Front Page Music Reviews Tags:, ,
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Live! – The Zombies

This entry is part 17 of 20 in the series Live!

THE ZOMBIES

Forum, Kentish Town, London

10 Nov 2015

Tonight, for a musician so intrinsically identified with the lighter, prettier side of quaintly English psychedelia, Colin Blunstone looks Very Metal: precisely why this should be the case is unclear, but there’s a definite and delicious incongruity about seeing this most genteel, breathily-voiced of frontmen intoning British Beat gems like “Tell Her No” “I Love You” “You Really Got A Hold On Me” and later classics like “Caroline Goodbye” clad in black jeans and studded leather jacket. On the other hand, at almost 70, he can do what he bloody well likes, and besides, without irregularities like this, life would be very predictable indeed, something the career of the Zombies has never been.

Not, of course, that our Col can’t belt ’em out: he’s just as adept at powerful R’n’B as he is the delicate stuff, as “Moving On” (from brand new album Still Got That Hunger) amply demonstrates. And not just him either: neither keyboard maestro/principal songwriter Rod Argent and ever-dependable, relentlessly solid bassist Jim Rodford display any qualms about adding some weight to the recipe, switching from whimsical white soul to pummeling rock’n’roll in a manner equal parts defiant, determined and jubilant. An attitude which, if the new material is anything to go by, is more than justified: though the lyrics to “New York” “Edge Of The Rainbow” and the dynamic “Chasing The Past” (the latter easily their best composition since the early 90s) may be elegiac and nostalgic in content, the demeanour is that of a still-vital, relevant band, fully aware of its illustrious past but equally unbound by the shackles of regression.

Adding extra muscle to their forebears’ fluidity, drummer Steve Rodford and guitarist Tom Toomey are now as essential to this lineup as Chris White and Hugh Grundy were to the original: as adept at knowing when not to play as when to let rip, they straddle the oft-blurred line betwixt individualism and team playing with consummate ease. The only disappointment is, as usual, that it’s all over so fast: after the still-chilling suite of five numbers from the evergreen Odyssey And Oracle (“A Rose For Emily” “Care Of Cell 44” “This Will Be Our Year” “I Want Her She Wants Me” and the inevitable “Time Of The Season”) we trip into the 70s territory with the eloquence of “Say You Don’t Mind” and “I Don’t Believe In Miracles” (and yes, Blunstone does still hit those high notes) after which dynamic duo only “Hold Your Head Up” “She’s Not There” and a so-subtle-you-could-hear-a-blade-of-grass-drop encore of “Summertime” can possibly follow. Bugger me, is it 11 pm already? ‘Fraid so.

How do these former St Albans choirboys still manage, even after 52 years, to make two hours vanish in the twinkling of an eye? I guess the old adage about time passing when you’re enjoying yourself must have some credence to it after all that, and the fact that Argent-era prog widdly behemoths excepted (not, quoth I as one who’s actually seen both bands play back to back, that there’s anything wrong with those) the Zombies still specialise in three-minute nuggets of baroque pop perfection unequalled by almost everyone outside the Kinks or Bee Gees. And, be honest, though both the brothers Davies and the lone Barry Gibb continue to tread the boards, you’ll never see either of their bands play again, especially not the latter. In which case, Blunstone, Argent and their comrades are literally as good as it gets.

Sure, they won’t be around forever either: but they’re here now, and if artists as diverse as Paul Weller, Belle & Sebastian, St Etienne, the Beautiful South and Dave Grohl all cite their influence, not to mention psych-heads and Mod dancers from Great Portland Street to Little Italy, then they must have got something right in all this time. If you haven’t experienced the “indication” already, perhaps you should “begin here”.


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Darius Drewe

Darius Drewe was born in East London in 1974. As a small child, both parents inflicted their musical tastes, from The Beatles and The Moody Blues to Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis, on him, and he was never the same again. Despite being born and bred a 'Cockney tosser', Drewe actually spent his teenage years in and around Birmingham, attending his first 60s/50s-themed nights there at The Ship Ashore, before "coming home" in 1993 to the South, where, with the exception of three years spent in Glasgow between 2007-2010, he has remianed ever since. In the almost two decades that have passed he has trod a strange meandering path from a shy 60s/70s-obsessed teen with no 'scene' to speak of to a Metalhead, sleaze-glammie, Goth, indie kid, glam-punker, garage-rocker, eventual Mod and psych freak (first attending Mousetrap in 2000) In that time he's also written for Shindig! Britmovie, DarkSide, Black Velvet and Get Ready To Rock, promoted various vintage and veteran acts at Camden Underworld, Glasgow Ivory Blacks and several other venues, DJed everything from psych, garage and soul to Metal at practically every well-known club in central London. Drewe is trying to build a time machine that will enable him to visit any period between 1960 and 1980 but still be able to use a mobile and Facebook. His ambition, aside from directing films and building said machine, is to morph into a cross between Jason King, Timmy Lea, Jerry Cornelius and Richard Hannay, and drift about the ether having adventures in a kipper tie, pinstriped flares and camel hair coat.

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November 27, 2015 By : Category : Bands Front Page Music Reviews Tags:, ,
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Live! – Brian Auger

This entry is part 2 of 20 in the series Live!

BRIAN AUGER’S OBLIVION EXPRESS

Jazz Cafe, Camden Town, London

Nov 2 2015

HOW long exactly?
It’s a foggy November evening, I’m stood in the Jazz Caff next to me old mucker (and former Harrow Trinity psych’n’soul DJ) Rob Mesure, and both of us are experiencing a vague recollection of the last time we didn’t get to see our favourite organ-widdler tinkle his keys and throw his switches. From what we can make out, it was somewhere around the turn of the century (must have been, we didn’t even meet each other till about 1999) and apparently, that was the last time he played here, although I clearly recall a cancelled gig at the Glasgow Renfrew Ferry in 2009 or thereabouts. Perhaps the whole tour was cancelled that year, who knows?

Either way, in 2015, as far as “artists you never thought you’d never see” go, Brian Auger is as close to the definitive example as possible: 75 years old, long believed retired, and as elusive as the metaphorical butterfly. Thus, there was no way NUTsmag was going to miss his long-awaited return to the stage, especially in his native London. Naturally, I was aware (though I’m sure a few in the audience were still hoping) that there would be no guest appearance tonight from Mrs Julie Tippett, nee Driscoll, and, true to form, there wasn’t: likewise, it was pretty obvious to anyone who’s actually followed the great man’s career in any depth that tonight’s set would include very little material from the actual “Mod years”, concentrating primarily instead on his 1970-75 period. But, as Miles once asked, so what? A great artist is a great artist, and what we witnessed tonight was just that, a master of both Hammond and electric piano still playing the timeless mixture of jazz, funk, soul and blues-rock for which he remains revered.

Admittedly, when proceedings kick off with a spirited rendition of Jimmy Smith’s “The Cat”, it is possible, even if for only 5 minutes, to close your eyes and imagine you’re down the Purple Pussycat or some other groovy Mod dive after all: ah, the days when I could still fit into a size 32 suit. But no sooner is that particular jaunt down memory lane over than the Express are into their noted cover of Eddie Harris’ “Freedom Jazz Dance”: suddenly, the groove is several shades funkier, fatter and lopier than anything you might have once slid across a number of sprung floors to in your freshly-sprayed dezzies, a sound designed far more for head-nodding than booty-shaking. Vocalist Alex Ligertwood (the man who sang these same tunes over 40 years ago) and truly-legendary jazz guitarist Jim Mullen decorate Auger’s peerless keyboard skills with bursts of melody, scat, and discordant swagger: bassist Travis Carlton and youthful drummer Karma Auger (yep, Brian’s son) are so attuned to the vibe that they’re beyond tight. For this genre of music, you really couldn’t find a better combo if you tried.

Though some of the audience are undoubtedly unfamiliar with some of the material, there’s never a hint of disappointment, just the joy that comes from watching intuitive musicians cook and jam the best way they know how. And so it continues through “Happiness Is Just Around The Bend” “Straight Ahead” “Bumpin On Sunset” “Whenever You’re Ready”…classics one and all, the sonic result of the organist’s American bebop and R’n’B influences shoved thoroughly through a distinctly British mincer, flown back to the West Coast and served up to their originators with added zests of lemon sunshine. Ligertwood’s vocals have not diminished, in either range or power, in four decades: Auger himself is staggering, an elderly London gentleman with twice the energy and fingering skills (as he himself might say during his inter-song banter, “oo er missus”) of any young pretender.

The slow, midnight blues of Al Kooper’s “If You Ever Leave Me” takes things down a notch, but that only serves to lull us into a false sense of security before we end, as we started, in Mod mode. Given the high standards set, the only way the preceding numbers could be followed was if they found themselves “Compared To What” (which they were, the respectable if not quite capacity crowd bellowing the lyric in firm agreement) and subsequently taken on a “Maiden Voyage” : quite a journey, really, considering that for two whole hours we were actually standing spellbound in a medium-sized bar in Camden Town.

More to the point, Auger, Ligertwood and Mullen all seemed to enjoy the experience so much they’ve already promised to return next year: if they do, my advice to all broadminded Mods and Scenesters is to catch them wherever possible. Never mind the lack of Indian rope (maaan), this material’s more than strong enough to hang on.


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Darius Drewe

Darius Drewe was born in East London in 1974. As a small child, both parents inflicted their musical tastes, from The Beatles and The Moody Blues to Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis, on him, and he was never the same again. Despite being born and bred a 'Cockney tosser', Drewe actually spent his teenage years in and around Birmingham, attending his first 60s/50s-themed nights there at The Ship Ashore, before "coming home" in 1993 to the South, where, with the exception of three years spent in Glasgow between 2007-2010, he has remianed ever since. In the almost two decades that have passed he has trod a strange meandering path from a shy 60s/70s-obsessed teen with no 'scene' to speak of to a Metalhead, sleaze-glammie, Goth, indie kid, glam-punker, garage-rocker, eventual Mod and psych freak (first attending Mousetrap in 2000) In that time he's also written for Shindig! Britmovie, DarkSide, Black Velvet and Get Ready To Rock, promoted various vintage and veteran acts at Camden Underworld, Glasgow Ivory Blacks and several other venues, DJed everything from psych, garage and soul to Metal at practically every well-known club in central London. Drewe is trying to build a time machine that will enable him to visit any period between 1960 and 1980 but still be able to use a mobile and Facebook. His ambition, aside from directing films and building said machine, is to morph into a cross between Jason King, Timmy Lea, Jerry Cornelius and Richard Hannay, and drift about the ether having adventures in a kipper tie, pinstriped flares and camel hair coat.

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December 1, 2015 By : Category : Bands Front Page Music Reviews Tags:, ,
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Live! – Donovan

This entry is part 1 of 20 in the series Live!

DONOVAN

Ashcroft Theatre, Croydon

8 Nov 2015

Say what you will about Donovan (apart from, that is, all that tediously uninformed old cobblers about him being a Dylan copyist) he’s never predictable. His Beat Cafe tour saw him grace medium-sized venues with a compact electric combo: his 65th birthday bash in 2011 (bugger me, four years already?) came equipped with “Gypsy” Dave Mills, the John Cameron Orchestra, live narration, and a full complement of backing singers primarily comprised of his immediate family. Tonight, however, is a back-to-the-roots affair: cross-legged on a white sheepskin carpet with naught but one guitar and a solitary harmonica, he’s the same bare-bones troubadour that once graced the Earls Court venue of that very name, alongside Bunjies, Klooks Kleek, Les Cousins and the other folk establishments of the day, and he’s come to the Ashcroft’s intimate environs tonight to sing songs and tell stories from a fascinating 50-year career.

Of course, he’s still inherently psychedelic throughout: he’s Donovan for Chrissakes, quite possibly the first artist to release a psych album in the UK, so how, even acoustically, could he be anything but? True, he does kick off with the one song likely to invite those lazy Bobby D comparisons (“Catch The Wind”) but it’s also the song that introduced the world to his talent: within 18 months, any similarity to Mr Zimmerman had been replaced by a uniquely British whimsy that laid down the path for Syd Barrett, the Bee Gees, Tomorrow, Kaleidoscope, the Attack and several other Toytown acts NUTters will find themselves regularly grooving to at 229 or Orleans. And with the exception of the rarely heard debut-album deep cut “The Alamo”, it’s this material (“Guinevere” “Jennifer Juniper” “Little Toy Soldier” “There Is A Mountain” and “Josie”) to which the first set is devoted, each prefaced by anecdotes most contemporary musicians would kill for. Pay attention at the back…

Granted, he does occasionally sound a little impressed with his own importance (in particular, the references to he and the Beatles being the “first musicians to search for deeper meaning and universal consciousness”, but if you were that much of a pioneer, you’d be more than a little pleased with yourself, and anyway, after five decades, surely he’s earned the right to be. Having Paul McCartney pop unexpectedly round to your flat for a jam one Sunday afternoon, only to discover that the careless bassist has “parked” his car halfway across the Edgware Road and the local constabulary are knocking on the door offering to move it for him? Getting stuck in a gents’ bog on a pier with Peter Noone, with Gyp literally combing yards of beach for his lost hash (which, one should add, he found) below, before heading back to the local B’n’B to find the bar being tended by a pink-jacketed Billy Fury? Or, best of all, watching Scott, Gary and John Walker all being tipped upside down into wooden crates by bodyguards and wheeled past hordes of screaming girls, only to be told “by the way, you two are next”? I’d be surprised if anything that interesting has ever happened to Buttfuck & Sons…

But it happened to Donovan: that and more besides. What a time to be a musician, and what a life both he and Gyp (even though the latter is sadly absent tonight) have had. Ragas, meditation, living in castles, being asked by Graham Nash whether he should leave the Hollies and form a new band with “these two fellas from Buffalo Springfield and that guy from the Byrds”: the hippy trip as we know it has been his life, recalled in a gentle voice that switches between Glaswegian, London and Transatlantic twang dependent upon which part of his 69 years on earth thus far he’s recalling. His singing voice, however (forever buffered by his superb guitar playing) remains largely unchanged: deeper in tone for sure, but still possessed of a quavering eccentricity that makes you want to strut down High St Ken in a huge floppy hat, banana-collar shirt and crushed velvet loons giving people flowers. It’s fair to say that now Kevin Ayers is gone, only the Don (and possibly Peter Daltrey) can still really do this…

“Hurdy Gurdy Man” “Lalena” the deliciously silly “Intergalactic Laxative” (when everyone else was ruminating on the political ramifications of the moon landings, our Don was musing on the astronauts’ bowel movements- now there’s true surrealism for you) NUTs fave “Sunshine Superman” the traditional folk air “Young But Growing” and an interesting new composition called “The Promise” bring the second half to an almost perfect close, that is, until for some obscure reason beknownst only to himself, he elects to end by miming to a CD recording of “Mellow Yellow” Why doesn’t he just sing and play it, or at the very least, sing the vocal part live? OK, it might not sound as good without the horns, but isn’t that the point of an acoustic gig anyway?

If there’s a fine line between sampling and karaoke, he’s just crossed it: yet I shall forgive him, simply because he’s Donovan, and the psych world would be a lot poorer for his absence. And besides, he did look rather groovy dancing to it: more so at almost 70 than I look at 42 anyway. Universal soldier, pied piper or eternal troubadour, Mr Leitch of Maryhill looks set to ride on his cosmic wheels for at least another decade: if only he had a time machine, he could show us all how he did it the first time round. The worrying thing is, if you asked him, I’m pretty sure he’d tell you that he has…


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Darius Drewe

Darius Drewe was born in East London in 1974. As a small child, both parents inflicted their musical tastes, from The Beatles and The Moody Blues to Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis, on him, and he was never the same again. Despite being born and bred a 'Cockney tosser', Drewe actually spent his teenage years in and around Birmingham, attending his first 60s/50s-themed nights there at The Ship Ashore, before "coming home" in 1993 to the South, where, with the exception of three years spent in Glasgow between 2007-2010, he has remianed ever since. In the almost two decades that have passed he has trod a strange meandering path from a shy 60s/70s-obsessed teen with no 'scene' to speak of to a Metalhead, sleaze-glammie, Goth, indie kid, glam-punker, garage-rocker, eventual Mod and psych freak (first attending Mousetrap in 2000) In that time he's also written for Shindig! Britmovie, DarkSide, Black Velvet and Get Ready To Rock, promoted various vintage and veteran acts at Camden Underworld, Glasgow Ivory Blacks and several other venues, DJed everything from psych, garage and soul to Metal at practically every well-known club in central London. Drewe is trying to build a time machine that will enable him to visit any period between 1960 and 1980 but still be able to use a mobile and Facebook. His ambition, aside from directing films and building said machine, is to morph into a cross between Jason King, Timmy Lea, Jerry Cornelius and Richard Hannay, and drift about the ether having adventures in a kipper tie, pinstriped flares and camel hair coat.

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December 1, 2015 By : Category : Bands Front Page Music Reviews Tags:, ,
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Live! – The Monkees

This entry is part 16 of 20 in the series Live!

Hammersmith Apollo, 4th Sept 2015 

“You can turn the lights on now, we’re here…”

Indeed they can, and indeed “we” are. Sadly, the “we” referred to this time means only two Monkees: two actual members anyway, backed on this tour by a six-strong group of considerable dexterity. As Mickey Dolenz (whose sister Coco can be found assisting ably with robust backing vocals) points out later, Mike Nesmith does “his own thing” these days, no doubt due to his infamously being a Tippex billionaire: he will probably hook up with his buddies for another series of US dates next year, but whether we’ll see the trio this side of the pond again is uncertain. Yet following the untimely death of Davy Jones in 2012, the fact that we still have a Monkees at all in 2015 is something to be grateful for. So, for the moment, this will do quite nicely,
thank you very much.

Yes, there are two noticeable voids onstage where the others once stood (not to mention a few empty seats at the rear of the venue) and for some reason it’s nowhere near as loud as it could be (possibly due to Dolenz’ own hearing difficulties) but there’s no denying the passion, power and sheer enjoyment both he and the evergreen Peter Tork put into their performances. The new arrangement also gives them the chance to stretch out more: apart from some ominously bashed timpani during “Randy Scouse Git (Alternate Title)” which is prefaced by an extensive explanation of the song’s origins, Dolenz (clad in what appears to be the Paisley equivalent to a Two Ronnies yokel smock) plays no drums, preferring instead to concentrate on his vocals. And well he should, as, despite repeated microphone amplification problems, they’re outstanding.

Rich in timber, full of range and still able to reach the high notes with little difficulty, he even excels on songs he didn’t sing first time round: Tork’s multi-instrumental capabilities, meanwhile, reveal him as very much the hidden genius of the band (ala Maurice Gibb or Bill Wyman) whose tonal glue holds the sound together. It may have been Nesmith (as both remark a couple of times) that wrote more of the band’s material and had the more interesting solo career, but on piano, organ, percussion and a multitude of guitars, Tork’s versatility is flawless, bringing a kaleidoscope of colours to “She” “The Girl I Knew Somewhere” a slowed-down, country roots retake of “Last Train To Clarksville” (the first five songs of the second set are performed, campfire-style, in this mode) and the inevitable, audience-bouncing plink-plonk of “Daydream Believer”.

What perhaps works less well, aside from the insertion of a few too many newer/solo efforts (an inevitable bugbear, sadly, when viewing a veteran act) is the twin leaders’ tendency to sporadically walk offstage during each others’ songs for some reason (insurance? deafness? oxygen?) thereby giving the impression from time to time that you’re watching a band called “The Monkee” After all, you don’t get this jiggery-pokery from the two remaining original members of the Pretty Things or the New York Dolls, so it’s equally unnecessary here. As you might expect, the duo’s strength as on “Pleasant Valley Sunday” the strolling, vaudevillian “D.W. Washburn” their underrated 80s hit “That Was Then, This Is Now” and the simply beautiful “Porpoise Song” (yes, Head-heads, they play it) is their teamwork: the humorous interplay between them, such as confusing Neil Diamond with Neil Armstrong or complaining because the drummer they’d hired turned out to not be Buddy Rich (he’d pong a bit by now if he was, chaps) harks back beautifully to their TV days, and shows they’ve forgotten nothing of their comic timing.

Inevitably, we all pile down the front for “Stepping Stone” (still prefer the Flys version though) and “I’m A Believer”: in many ways, this tune, allegedly not even originally earmarked as an a-side, encapsulates all the reasons we from my fellow psychsters in their moptops and pinstripes to the gaggles of House Of Fraser housewives flanking the aisles still love and support this band. Initially conceived by a marketing exec as an ersatz Beatle cash-in, dismissed as bubblegum bopper fodder and infamously banned from performing anything other than vocals on their own albums, they soon both rejected and outgrew their restrictive straitjacket (as demonstrated tonight by a slinky jazz take on the song they legendarily passed over, “Sugar Sugar”) and in doing so laid half the foundation of American psych as we know it: without them, a large number of US bands now spun regularly on NUTs dancefloors (Paragons, Hooterville Trolley, Peanut Butter Conspiracy, Head Hunters) might not even have existed. Let us give thanks, therefore, that the Monkees, whether with our without Nesmith (though personally, I’d like to see him back in his rightful place next year) still do. They may not have (as they jokingly allude early on) walked on the moon, but they still have a few giant steps left to take yet.


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Darius Drewe

Darius Drewe was born in East London in 1974. As a small child, both parents inflicted their musical tastes, from The Beatles and The Moody Blues to Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis, on him, and he was never the same again. Despite being born and bred a 'Cockney tosser', Drewe actually spent his teenage years in and around Birmingham, attending his first 60s/50s-themed nights there at The Ship Ashore, before "coming home" in 1993 to the South, where, with the exception of three years spent in Glasgow between 2007-2010, he has remianed ever since. In the almost two decades that have passed he has trod a strange meandering path from a shy 60s/70s-obsessed teen with no 'scene' to speak of to a Metalhead, sleaze-glammie, Goth, indie kid, glam-punker, garage-rocker, eventual Mod and psych freak (first attending Mousetrap in 2000) In that time he's also written for Shindig! Britmovie, DarkSide, Black Velvet and Get Ready To Rock, promoted various vintage and veteran acts at Camden Underworld, Glasgow Ivory Blacks and several other venues, DJed everything from psych, garage and soul to Metal at practically every well-known club in central London. Drewe is trying to build a time machine that will enable him to visit any period between 1960 and 1980 but still be able to use a mobile and Facebook. His ambition, aside from directing films and building said machine, is to morph into a cross between Jason King, Timmy Lea, Jerry Cornelius and Richard Hannay, and drift about the ether having adventures in a kipper tie, pinstriped flares and camel hair coat.

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September 22, 2015 By : Category : Bands Front Page Music Reviews Tags:, ,
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Le Beat Bespoké 10 – Review

This entry is part 3 of 20 in the series Live!

LE BEAT BESPOKE 10 – A DECADE OF DELIGHTS 

Thursday: WOLF PEOPLE/PURSON  by Dave Johnson

I was very curious about the opening night of LBB10 having never seen both bands before. I had heard great things from friends and both bands were on my must see live acts list.

Would they live up to my expectations?

Purson certainly look the part and as soon as lead singer Rosalie launched into the first number I could see what all the fuss is about. She sings like an angel but looks like a devil and sure plays a mean guitar and had the audience transfixed. Purson romp through numbers from the album ‘The Circle And The Blue Door’ and the EP ‘In The Meantime’ with style and panache and won many new fans with tonight’s performance. Expect big things from this band in 2015.

A short interlude and some more great sounds from Wolf People tour DJ Richard Gibbons before the aforementioned band hit the stage. They apologise before starting by announcing they are a bit rusty having not played live together for a while. They shouldn’t have bothered, it was a masterful set peppered with numbers from the impressive back catalogue together with a couple of numbers I was not familiar that sounded like potential numbers for the forthcoming album which they are currently working on. Needless to say Wolf People reaffirmed everything I had been told by fellow music fans as a band not to be missed. Another fan converted and looking forward to hearing that new album.

After the live acts I headed into venue 2 for the DJ after show party where quality records one after the other kept the fun seekers happy until tomorrow night.

Friday: GLEN CAMPBELL’S MISUNDERSTOOD/KALEIDOSCOPE/THE LOONS  by ‘Dashing’ Drewe Shimon

Mike Stax, the expatriate Brit with the full trans-atlantic twang, is in his element tonight: not content with simply fronting his own fine garage-powerpop combo The Loons alongside his cool and talented bass-playing wife Anja, he also gets to be in the headline band! Nice work all around… The Loons with their juxtaposition of ebullient originals (referencing influences from the Pretty Things to the Strawberry Alarm Clock) and classic covers, set the tone perfectly for a very special LBB indeed.

That said, the Toytown popsike of Peter Daltrey’s Kaleidoscope still resides worlds away from the fuzzed-up San Diego frat-house: in fact, despite the lineup’s heavy reliance (original percussionist Danny Bridgman notwithstanding) on a latterday Glaswegian infusion from alt-folkies Trembling Bells, “Dive Into Yesterday” “Flight From Ashiya” and “The Sky Children” remain as quintessentially English as a blustry day on Turnham Green, which is possibly where half of them were conceived to begin with. And, whilst undoubtedly a slightly less overtly ‘religious’ experience than last year’s Islington show, tonight’s vibrant performance surely reinforces Daltrey and Co’s vital upper place in the psychedelic tapestry: it might have been, at times, ever-so-slightly inaudible above certain segments of the audience, but this is also a club event too, and if Dave and Lisa from Penge want to catch up with Enrico and Xavier from Toledo and discuss their plans for this year’s Euro YeYe during the quieter passages of “The Murder Of Lewis Tollani”, then they have every right to. After all, the social aspect of NUTs has always been every bit as important as the music.

A few eyebrows raise when the Misunderstood kick off with their two best-known songs (“I Can Take You To The Sun” and “Children Of The Sun”), but with Glenn Ross Campbell’s squealing steel-slide-guitar-contraption-thingy exploding centre-stage, and Mr & Mrs Stax again vibing the freak angle to the max, quality is thankfully retained. Sadly, they DO have to resort, like Kenney Jones last year, to repeating two already-aired tunes, including the oft-trodden “Who Do You Love”, as an encore, but considering that said number features surprise appearances from original ‘Stoodster’ Tony Hill (also of The Answers and High Tide) and Ray Owen (co-founder, with Campbell, of Juicy Lucy) the issue is soon rendered irrelevant, and the band’s legend reaffirmed. Despite perhaps slight befuddlement as to why recognition has taken so long, Campbell looks like the happiest man in W1, and right now, he probably is. Magical!

Saturday Daytime and Night: NUTSMAG, VINTAGE MARKET, RECORD FAIR –  by Graham Lentz

After the euphoria that followed The Loons, Kaleidoscope and The Misunderstood, Saturday afternoon was a very nice tonic. The Vintage Market was set up and the stall holders had some quality wares on offer. From clothes to handbags, records to memorabilia, there was something for everyone.

By mid afternoon, the first of the two bands took to the stage. Magnetic Mind played to a packed Beat Basement who really enjoyed their brand of psych sounds.

The harmonized vocals of Ellie Foden and Paul Milne have great impact and with their Jefferson Airplane and Peanut Butter Conspiracy influences in evidence.

The set included their current single, ‘(Like You) Never Kept Me Waiting’, which for my money, is one of THE outstanding psych singles of the year so far and sounded even better live. They finished their set to much deserved rapturous applause.

Before long, the Spanish psych outfit Fogbound were eagerly anticipated and steam rolled through record releases ‘Whispering Corridors’, ‘Purple Wax’ and ‘Come And See’ and a brilliant version of ‘Strange house’ by The Attack. The audience loved and the lads came back for an encore and made quite an impression on their London debut. It would not be too long before another total musical contrast for the Saturday Evening session, would be underway.

Saturday Night – by Graham Lentz

One of the real pleasures of Le Beat Bespoke is the way it opens its self up to something a bit different, and Saturday night traditionally tends to focus on rockabilly/rock & roll culture. It is great to see people with differing music and style all mingling together and no-one bats an eyelid. There in the packed main room were rock & rollers, mods, northern soul fans, psych and garage fans all there to enjoy the live music and everyone looked fantastic.

First on stage for the Wild Records Review was the extraordinary Gizzelle. Singing tracks from her two albums to date; ‘Devil Or Angel’ and ‘Rhythm And Soul’, what makes her extraordinary is how such a powerful voice can come such a petite frame?

Highlights included her rousing version of ‘Hound Dog’ and ‘I’m A Good Woman’ and such was the applause, she returned for a much deserved encore.

Next up was the equally formidable voice of Marlena Perez who fronts The Rhythm Shakers. Again, the contrast in delivery and style were evident. Gizzelle, giving everything, but with controlled assurance. The Rhythm Shakers, all power and passion. They really are one of the best rock and roll bands around right now. Their album of a few years ago, ‘Flipsville’, got a decent representation, but the focus was on the newer material on their current LP ‘Voodoo’. Both albums are as good as each other, which says a lot about the high quality of their writing. They too, were called back for an encore and both acts were virtually mobbed at their merchandise stand afterwards.

Cosmic Keith, Dr Rockin’ Blues and Julliette (the latter both from Paris) kept the rockin’ crowd royally entertained through the entire night.

Meanwhile, Alan Handscombe and Tim Ott-Jones presented their RnB123 Club in the R&B room, while Holly Calder joined Dr Robert and European guests DJ’s in the Beat Room until the early hours.

Sunday night: CROSSFIRE – by Graham Lentz

The grand finale of Le Beat Bespoke 10. The Crossfire Allnighter is a huge event on the calendar and this night was no exception. The queue outside was constant as the doors opened at 10pm. With Northern Soul in the main room, Mousetrap in the R&B Room and Paddy and Sarge and Rhys joining Dr Robert, Lolo and Traxel in the Beat Basement, this was a night primed to close the weekender with a bang.

Without doubt, the tone of the night was set by Les Grys Grys from Southern France, who repeated their explosive performance at the August Bank Holiday in Brighton last year. To say the atmosphere was electric was an understatement. The last time I saw the Beat Basement that packed was when The Strypes were on stage. Les Grys Grys ask no quarter and none is given. Theirs is a full-on assault on the senses and they really deliver.

As I said, they set the tone for the whole night in all three rooms and it was a fitting end to another wonderful Le Beat Bespoke weekender. Only another twelve months and we can do it all again !

Sundy night: LES GRYS GRYS by ‘Dashing’ Drewe Shimon

“GADAAANNGGG…”

With short sharp bursts of frenzied drumming, plonking bass and off-the cuff maraca-shaking from their resident loonhouse blues harp wielder, French upstarts Les Grys Grys set out their stall immediately, purveying classic white R’n’B in the style of the Yardbirds, Outsiders (Neth), Pretty Things, Blues Incorporated, Them, Downliners Sect and (of course) the Stones: there’s also a hint of the howling acid blues of the Groundhogs, TYA and Savoy Brown, but that’s more in the crunching tone and hair-shaking antics of the lead guitarist than the construction of the numbers. As with the Strypes and 45s (although they’re considerably older and longer-haired than both) their material predominantly consists, at this moment, of covers – yet these Montpelier Mods have taken things one step further by showing as much deference to their blue-eyed heroes as the genre’s black American originators. Thus, “Neighbour Neighbour” rubs shoulders with “Mystic Eyes” and the Masters Apprentices’ “Hot Gully Wind” without batting an eyelid: of course, not everybody is an expert on the derivation of rock’n’roll, but this Le Beat crowd sure knows its blues from its snooze.

A frantic blur of fringe, deerstalker, tambourine and axe-fire, these eminent Grys (see what I did there?) are one of several currently emergent bands capable of reminding you exactly why you first loved these three things called blues, soul and rock’n’roll. The question remains as to what will happen when they start writing their own material, but it will happen, and the development will be, just as it was with those lads from Dartford and Erith 50 years ago, fascinating to observe: even if they never put pen to paper, they’ll still be unmissable live.

A win-win proposition, then, and a suitably butt-kicking prelude to the finale of LBB 10: despite nipping out after the Grys’ set for 3 hours, the party is still at full tilt in the Beat Basement upon my return, propelled this time by an equal mixture of faces and tunes old and new. All DJs were exemplary, but special mention must go to Rhys’ bold inclusion of “Is It Love” by Jon, a tune which I had hitherto believed myself to be the London scene’s sole fan of: indeed, whereas certain elements last year left me knackered, this was just one of many ways in which tonight found my muse rejuvenated. Roll on 2016.


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Darius Drewe

Darius Drewe was born in East London in 1974. As a small child, both parents inflicted their musical tastes, from The Beatles and The Moody Blues to Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis, on him, and he was never the same again. Despite being born and bred a 'Cockney tosser', Drewe actually spent his teenage years in and around Birmingham, attending his first 60s/50s-themed nights there at The Ship Ashore, before "coming home" in 1993 to the South, where, with the exception of three years spent in Glasgow between 2007-2010, he has remianed ever since. In the almost two decades that have passed he has trod a strange meandering path from a shy 60s/70s-obsessed teen with no 'scene' to speak of to a Metalhead, sleaze-glammie, Goth, indie kid, glam-punker, garage-rocker, eventual Mod and psych freak (first attending Mousetrap in 2000) In that time he's also written for Shindig! Britmovie, DarkSide, Black Velvet and Get Ready To Rock, promoted various vintage and veteran acts at Camden Underworld, Glasgow Ivory Blacks and several other venues, DJed everything from psych, garage and soul to Metal at practically every well-known club in central London. Drewe is trying to build a time machine that will enable him to visit any period between 1960 and 1980 but still be able to use a mobile and Facebook. His ambition, aside from directing films and building said machine, is to morph into a cross between Jason King, Timmy Lea, Jerry Cornelius and Richard Hannay, and drift about the ether having adventures in a kipper tie, pinstriped flares and camel hair coat.

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April 27, 2015 By : Category : Bands DJs Events Front Page Fuzz Garage Psych Reviews RnB UK Tags:, , , , ,
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Wolf People (Newbreed)

This entry is part 13 of 22 in the series Newbreed4

Formed in 2005, Wolf People are one of an exciting crop of 21st century bands mining a rich seam of archaic influences for inspiration, from the psych folk of Jethro Tull, Pentangle, Tudor Lodge and Fuchsia (the latter of whom they played with in 2014 at London’s Strongroom Bar), to classic West Coast sounds, British psych-prog and popsike, library music, British and Italian horror movie soundtracks, cult TV, public information films, and the writings of Victorian authors like M R James.

Sharing a kinship with their (somewhat heavier) geographical neighbours Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats, Southend’s Purson, recently resurrected London folklorists Circulus, West Country glitter-kids Ulysses and Birmingham’s Exploding Sound Machine, they are proof that a healthy scene for intelligent psychedelic rock continues to flourish in the UK . And, whilst not Mods themselves, their sound has plenty for  the discerning Scene follower to embrace and enjoy, their impending debut appearance at Le Beat Bespoke proving yet again that diversity is still very much a key feature of the NUTs landscape.

Band Members:

Joe Hollick – Guitar
Jack Sharp – Guitar And Vocals
Tom Watt – Drums
Daniel Davies – Bass

Ex/former/occasional members: Ross Harris – Flute

Discography

Singles And EPS:
Wolf People EP (Sea Records) 2006, October Fires/Black Water (Battered Ornaments) 2007, Storm Cloud/Cotton Strands (Battered Ornaments) 2007, Tiny Circles/Mercy II (Battered Ornaments) 2009, Silbury Sands (Jagjaguwar) 2011, When The Fire Is Dead In The Grate (Jagjaguwar) 2013, All Returns (Jagjaguwar) 2013

Albums:
Steeple (2010) Tidings (2010) Fain (2013) all on Jagjaguwar

Compilations:
Wolf People – Singles (Self Released) 2008

1. How long have you been active for and how did you get together?

We put the band together in 2006 just to play some songs that were about to be released. We started getting gigs before we knew what the hell we were doing, and then just sort of bumbled along from there. Dan joined in 2007 after seeing us at a medieval festival in Port Talbot.

2. What influences do the band members have in common?

Our main common ground is fuzzy rock records. Starting from Hendrix and Sabbath and going down into all the things that were influenced by them. So we love Mighty Baby, Mecki Mark Men, Baby Grandmothers, Variations, Iron Claw, Dark. Also a lot of folk rock stuff; Fairport, Pentangle, Trees. Anything weird and interesting really, preferably with fuzz and big drums.

3. Are there any other bands you’d recommend from your area? Why?

Stick in the Wheel from East London are probably my favourite current group that we know. Stark folk with dark themes and real accents.

4. What’s the 60’s/underground scene like where you’re from?

If there is one in Bedford, I’m not aware of it, but that wouldn’t surprise me. There seems to be a strong surge of interest for good old fuzzy rock music across the country and I hope we’ll see more good bands popping up to meet the demand. It would be great to see a new wave of bands do something interesting with it beyond stitching influences together (which we’re probably guilty of to be honest).

5. How would you describe the style you play?

We’re a rock band. Sometimes folk-rock, but usually just a rock band.

6. What are your live shows like?

The aim is to be direct and honest, and carry the songs with some degree of heart without sounding just like the records or the last show. We don’t use a lot of effects or processing, and we try to leave some room for improvisation without overdoing it.

The stark approach can sometimes fall on its arse but we’re happier not hiding behind backing tracks or layers of delay. If we sound good, it’s because we’re playing good.

7. What are your main influences in music? Who do/would you play covers by? And who do you despise?

We’ve only ever done a few covers. We used to play ‘Same Old Story’ by Taste, and ‘Why Am I So Short’ by Soft Machine, that was fun. We’ve tried Mighty Baby covers before too, and there’s a Trees song we want to try.

8. What are your main influences outside of music?

I’m interested in oral history, mythology and folklore, and nature, I love birds. As a band probably our main mutual interests outside music is food, and skimming stones.

9. Who writes your songs and what subjects do you deal with?

They tend to start with me (Jack) or Joe. Then we’ll all work out arrangements together. I tend to base the lyrics on stuff I’ve been reading about. Lots of the newer lyrics are about Earth if humans left or suddenly died out. I’m not sure why though, I didn’t really plan that.

10. What’s your favorite song in your repertoire currently? What’s your favourite song by another artist?

The one we’re working on at the moment, ‘Not Me Sir’. We were trying to be like an English version of Ersen or Erkin Koray, but our failure to play like that makes it quite interesting. We recorded it in Devon a few months ago after only rehearsing it about twice and Joe’s guitar playing on it is fantastic. So I’m enjoying listening to that.

As for other people’s stuff, I’m still obsessing over ‘I Found You’ by The Tops. It’s pretty much the perfect record.

11. How would you describe the current underground scene?  Do you participate?

I don’t go to a lot of gigs anymore, but it seems like there’s plenty of exciting bands out there, I’d just say it’s a pity that so many of the more interesting psych bands are from the States or Australia. I hope there’s a new crop of UK bands on the horizon who can take the reins and produce some truly exciting psych rock music, and do something new with it. We could do it, but we might be too old and stuck in our ways now!

With our band we’ve always skirted the edges of quite a lot of different scenes, so we feel quite lucky in that respect. One year we played a folk festival and a heavy/doom rock festival back to back, and went down pretty well at both I think.

12. What has been the biggest challenge to date?

Without a doubt, the biggest challenge is trying to create interesting music and sustain a music career while working full-time. I don’t want to start moaning about it, because I feel very privileged in a lot of ways, but it simply isn’t feasible for us to make a living out of creating music, so we feel like we’re constantly on the back foot. You feel like you’re having to force yourself to do something you actually enjoy after working for eight hours, and that’s not right somehow.

13. How often do you Rehearse? Play Live? Record? Anything interesting coming up?

About once a month we do a weekend of recording/writing/rehearsing. I try to play, write and record at home whenever I possibly can, I don’t like to go a day without doing something. We’re not really playing live at the moment while we’re writing and recording the next album.

14. What do you think of the music coverage in the media?

I don’t really read reviews or check blogs or whatever as I tend to go on word of mouth recommendations these days. I feel there’s a definite gap in the market for good live music on UK TV though. Jools is the only thing on offer and it’s appalling. Radio seems to be better. Marc Riley features sessions by most of the interesting groups touring, with more fringe shows like Freakzone or stuff on Resonance picking up the weirder things that fall off that radar.

I like the way a lot of people seem to be taking matters into their own hands and providing good music content on the internet, but of course it’s a bit of a minefield and you need time to find the good stuff. Or a good guide.

15. Do you rate any current mainstream or underground bands?

Like I said, I really love Stick in the Wheel. Psych rock wise, I love Morgan Delt. Klaus Johann Grobe are an amazing group we like from Switzerland. And I love Ariel Pink and Cate Le Bon and Chris Cohen.

16. Who/Where would you most like to record with and why?

If we could record anywhere I think we’d all choose Sweden. We’re pretty fixated on Swedish rock music, and the country is so beautiful. I often feel like I’m on another planet or in an alternative reality in Scandinavia.

We’d love to record with Martin Stone from Mighty Baby. We spent a day playing with him a couple of years ago and he’s such an instinctive and unique musician. We had some genuine spine tingling moments listening to him play. We were coaxing him to rock out and he just completely blew us away.

17. What should we expect from you in the future?  What are your plans and ambitions? What interesting gig dates have you got coming up?

We’re in the middle of writing and recording an album in our own way, just chipping away at it. I think we’re all very excited by how it’s progressing. We’re going to take our time and put it out when it’s ready then start doing some shows.

We’ve obviously got Le Beat Bespoke coming up which we’re really excited about, then we’re going on a short tour with Mudhoney, which should be amazing.

18. Unlike many bands featured in NUTs, you are totally open about your love of – for want of a better term ‘prog rock’. But what do you personally take to be the meaning of that term right here and now, in 2015? Do you see yourself as part of that or any ‘scene’, and what would you say to those who would suggest that playing 60s and 70s influenced music is by definition not ‘progressive’ but ‘regressive’ or ‘retro’?

I’ve never felt like we were progressive, but then I’ve always felt that as the ones making the music, we’re probably the least qualified to label it. So I’ll let people describe it how they like. It’s a paradox to make retrogressive prog I agree, but that’s never been our intention. We’ve always just followed our noses with the kind of music we were making and tried not to over think it. We get so little time to play together that we just like to switch off and enjoy playing when we get together, without really worrying about what it might be called.

We’ve made a conscious effort to shift away from lengthy arrangements with our new stuff though. We want each song to sound like a great 45 side.

19. Until less than ten years ago, things such as folk-rock, European prog, library soundtracks, occult-based music and film, rural imagery, and so-called “hauntology” were still very much fringe interests, with most tastes still shaped by post-punk and indie rules.  Yet now, many bands openly share your influences, clubs with similar themes have sprung up across the capital (and other cities), beards and long hair are sported by ‘hipsters’ everywhere, and there are even pubs, such as Hackney’s Hand Of Glory, that proclaim a “Wicker Man theme”. So, is this a good thing, finally bringing the inspirations that have shaped your work to greater public attention? Or do you think that maybe, as with other fashions, they will ultimately be treated as a bandwagon, briefly ridden then swiftly abandoned by trendsters with no understanding of their actual meaning? And if so, has returning to Bedfordshire after a spell in Bethnal Green kept you separate from such things?

Well I moved to Bedfordshire about ten years ago, while Tom and Dan still live in London and Joe lives in Lancashire, so I guess that helps us keep a degree of perspective. The older you get, the more able you are to completely ignore everyone else and delve on with your own interests regardless of trends.

None of the surface stuff matters anyway, if you’re really into something and feel a deep connection and sense of love and respect for it, it’s easy to recognize others that feel the same way, and ignore those who are along for the ride. I’m certainly not going to stop liking something because too many people are into it. Art and culture are there to be shared and enjoyed and the good stuff will always still be there when the tourists have left.

Web Links:

wolfpeople.co.uk
facebook.com/WolfPeople
twitter.com/wolfpeopleUK

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Darius Drewe

Darius Drewe was born in East London in 1974. As a small child, both parents inflicted their musical tastes, from The Beatles and The Moody Blues to Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis, on him, and he was never the same again. Despite being born and bred a 'Cockney tosser', Drewe actually spent his teenage years in and around Birmingham, attending his first 60s/50s-themed nights there at The Ship Ashore, before "coming home" in 1993 to the South, where, with the exception of three years spent in Glasgow between 2007-2010, he has remianed ever since. In the almost two decades that have passed he has trod a strange meandering path from a shy 60s/70s-obsessed teen with no 'scene' to speak of to a Metalhead, sleaze-glammie, Goth, indie kid, glam-punker, garage-rocker, eventual Mod and psych freak (first attending Mousetrap in 2000) In that time he's also written for Shindig! Britmovie, DarkSide, Black Velvet and Get Ready To Rock, promoted various vintage and veteran acts at Camden Underworld, Glasgow Ivory Blacks and several other venues, DJed everything from psych, garage and soul to Metal at practically every well-known club in central London. Drewe is trying to build a time machine that will enable him to visit any period between 1960 and 1980 but still be able to use a mobile and Facebook. His ambition, aside from directing films and building said machine, is to morph into a cross between Jason King, Timmy Lea, Jerry Cornelius and Richard Hannay, and drift about the ether having adventures in a kipper tie, pinstriped flares and camel hair coat.

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February 16, 2015 By : Category : Bands Front Page Interviews Music News Tags:, ,
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Live! – Monty Python

This entry is part 13 of 20 in the series Live!

London O2, July 3, 26 & 20 2014

Reviewing this show was always going to be an unenviable task, especially for any writer wishing to deliver an objective critique without sounding like an obsessive fan. Such is our lot.

Not that there’s anything wrong with fandom per se, but, surely, given the legend (most influential comedy troupe ever, without whom the Goodies, Comic Strip, Mary Whitehouse Experience and even the heretics of Not The Nine O Clock News would not have existed) 30 years’ worth of expectations, and the respective ages of all five performers (six including Carol Cleveland), the end result could only disappoint, right? Actually, wrong and, perhaps, before going off on one, the self-appointed naysayers (who had their knives poised from the get-go, yet somehow still secured press passes more easily than NUTsmag, thus placing me in another unenviable position) should have given more thought to precisely what they were expecting. Sure, it’s blatant nostalgia, and often comes across as a big queens’ musical revue, but the trick is to accept what you get- a jaunt down memory lane, largely comprised of old faves, but with sufficient surprises, updates, and if you’re lucky, new twists to throw you- rather than moaning about what you don’t.

Besides, in no way could MP 2014 resemble even the beast that existed at the end of its touring career in 1982, far less the original model which revolutionised British culture in 1969: tempus has fugited, one founder has “expired and gone to meet his maker”, and more pertinently, society has irreversibly changed, with old ladies now resembling Marianne Faithfull more than any ‘pepperpot’, young women performing a far wider range of roles than those written for Carol, Connie Booth or Katya Wyeth, gay men no longer relying on screamingly camp or muscularly butch stereotypes, the traditional upper-class slowly dwindling into extinction, and sex discussed so openly that characters like the Nudge Nudge man are now extinct. Even 1983’s Meaning Of Life, featuring far more sex, gore and violence than its predecessors, seems quaint now in a world acclimatised to the nihilism of Nighty Night, the grotesques of The League Of Gentlemen, the social embarrassment of Gervais, Coogan and Baron-Cohen, and sheer nonsense of Big Train, the Boosh and Jinsy: having witnessed all the above drag the Monty template of surrealism and silliness down darker, sicker back alleys, anyone still expecting ‘cutting edge’ humour would clearly be barking up the wrong tree.

From a New Untouchables perspective, on the other hand (and for the benefit of anyone wondering what this review is doing here to begin with), they remain as iconic to the late 1960s/early 70s scene as David Bailey, Twiggy, Donovan or the Nimble Bread balloon, resembling at times not so much a re-trod comic act but a reunited (if slightly raddled round the edges) rock’n’roll band -which, latterly, they practically were in their long-haired hedonistic demeanour. Indeed, several writers have even gone so far as to suggest that Python, more than any “legitimate” rock act, were the 70s’ true inheritors of the Beatles’ mantle, an assertion which not only statistics (listing them alongside the likes of the Who, Stones, Kinks, Wings, Zeppelin, Floyd, Foghat, ELO, Humble Pie, Bad Co and Moody Blues as one of the top highest grossing British acts Stateside that decade), but the peer respect accorded them, would seem to corroborate- and that’s before one even considers the Bonzos connection. Not bad for a bunch of shy, retiring thespians from Cambridge Footlights and their secretarial sidekick.

The next questions immediately facing NUTsmag are therefore of a more practical nature, such as whether Terry Gilliam’s quintessentially psychedelic animations will still be present: thankfully (though cynics might claim they simply provide breath-catching time for five old men, one old lady and a zillion dancers betwixt  costume changes) they remain in abundance, linking  in quasi- hallucinogenic union John Cleese’s authoritarian, ranting persona (“I’m the head of the fucking Catholic Church!!”) with Michael Palin’s conversational drawing room humour, Terry Jones’ more “wittering” roles, the animator’s unhinged lunacy as a performer, and most noticeably, Eric Idle’s newfound status as circus ringmaster. Admittedly, especially considering how his pursuit of other projects seemed formerly set to nix it, one may be puzzled by how much of the reunion seems largely of Idle’s devising, with about 40 % of proceedings revolving around his songcraft- but thankfully, he displays no visible desire to outshine his colleagues, who all seem happy to work to his template while still playing to their respective strengths.

Unavoidably, deliveries are sometimes stilted, lines are read from cue-cards by Jones and Cleese (alluded to repeatedly during “Whizzo Chocolates”), memories aren’t what they were (resulting in corpses, fluffs, and much spontaneous ad-libbing) , throats are croakier, and Cleese’s inability at 74 to perform any Silly Walks sees them worked instead into a new chorus routine, entitled, ironically, in the face of the (some may say) exorbitant ticket prices, “Money Is The Root Of Evil”. Elsewhere, with its reliance on crowdpleasers (“Four Yorkshiremen” “Sperm” “Lumberjack” “Bruce Philosophy” “Spam” “Sit On My Face” “Spanish Inquisition” “Argument”) the show often resembles a Stones stadium gig with emphasis on the hits, and some of the older, quainter material jars initially with the more visceral style of 78-83. Yet perseverance yields several rewards for the connoisseur, with the Exploding Penguin, the Man Who Talks In Anagrams (sashaying nicely into “I Like Chinese”) the Accountant Lion Tamer, the Transvestite Judges, and Cleese’s most demented creation Anne Elk (Miss) all dropping by to say hello.

“Blackmail” is, admittedly, spoilt by the inclusion of nightly “surprise guests”, but its very inclusion still suggests, like the equally unexpected opener “Llamas” that maybe this isn’t the cheesefest predicted after all. Similarly, the Dead Parrot dovetails with the Cheese Shop and the Stolen Wallet in a manner just precarious enough to be tight but sloppy enough to be spontaneous: in truth, the choice of “Christmas In Heaven” (never one of their best moments), as the finale is the only glaring error, further compounded by the live continuation of Graham C’s part by the irksomely boybandish ‘lead singer’ of the chorus, but it does provide another opportunity to show the late doctor in action, and demonstrate how, at 71, Cleveland still has a figure to die for. Even I’d let my great aunt dress like that if she looked that good.

Sadly, even after 150 minutes, the end- which, on the last night, is THE end, can come too soon: as “spontaneous encore” (tee hee) “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life” concludes with massed curtain calls, the backdrop displays the slogan “Graham Chapman 1941-89”, soon followed by “Monty Python 1969-2014” and “Piss Off”, and realisation sinks in that it is all over. They are no more, have ceased to be, and are no longer even the Knights who say ecky-ecky-ecky-p’tang, let alone Ni: inevitably, many exit complaining of omissions, but were they to perform everything, they’d still be there now. Let’s just be thankful they were there at all.

In short, they pulled it off. Now, do you want to come back to my place?


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Darius Drewe

Darius Drewe was born in East London in 1974. As a small child, both parents inflicted their musical tastes, from The Beatles and The Moody Blues to Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis, on him, and he was never the same again. Despite being born and bred a 'Cockney tosser', Drewe actually spent his teenage years in and around Birmingham, attending his first 60s/50s-themed nights there at The Ship Ashore, before "coming home" in 1993 to the South, where, with the exception of three years spent in Glasgow between 2007-2010, he has remianed ever since. In the almost two decades that have passed he has trod a strange meandering path from a shy 60s/70s-obsessed teen with no 'scene' to speak of to a Metalhead, sleaze-glammie, Goth, indie kid, glam-punker, garage-rocker, eventual Mod and psych freak (first attending Mousetrap in 2000) In that time he's also written for Shindig! Britmovie, DarkSide, Black Velvet and Get Ready To Rock, promoted various vintage and veteran acts at Camden Underworld, Glasgow Ivory Blacks and several other venues, DJed everything from psych, garage and soul to Metal at practically every well-known club in central London. Drewe is trying to build a time machine that will enable him to visit any period between 1960 and 1980 but still be able to use a mobile and Facebook. His ambition, aside from directing films and building said machine, is to morph into a cross between Jason King, Timmy Lea, Jerry Cornelius and Richard Hannay, and drift about the ether having adventures in a kipper tie, pinstriped flares and camel hair coat.

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September 18, 2014 By : Category : Front Page Reviews Satire Tags:, ,
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