Record Reviews – Nov 2012

This entry is part 1 of 18 in the series Record Reviews

40 Motown Floorshakers CD

One of the few saving graces for the major labels is exploiting their back catalogue because they sure as hell don’t invest and make money from new artists. And you would think the Motown vaults are virtually exhausted by now. So many compilations have hit the shops and online retailers in the past 20 years, it’s a wonder that there’s any new, undiscovered material left. So here we have a compilation of Motown stock. What makes this so different from any of the others? Well, it helps that a genuine, knowledgeable enthusiast in the shape of Jo Wallace put this collection together, and a fine job she has done. There are some obvious choices like ‘Love Is Like An Itching In My Heart’ or ‘Nothing’s Too Good For My Baby’, but really they are few and far between. There are some absolute corkers here, not least of which are, Mavin and Tammi’s ‘That’s How It Is’, Odyssey with the un-Motown-like ‘Battened Ships’ and Jr. Walker’s ‘Tune Up’. 40 Northern Soul Classics? I’d say so!

 

French Boutik – Les Chats De Gouttiere EP

When you think of French music, and specifically French mod music, Jacques Dutronc is the first name to spring to mind. In more general terms, Piaf, Hardy, Greco, Gainsbourg, and Distel will be familiar to Sixties pop enthusiasts. So with that heritage, French Boutik unleash this four-track EP that acknowledges the past without being overly pastiche. It is all original material and it is very good. The French do have a unique musical style. There are songs that you know could only have come from France and so it is with this disc. ‘La Vedette’ is a slice of dreamy beat with male lead vocals, while ‘Le Clope’ hands over to the ladies and sees a faster pace with a hint of Bardot-esque charm about it. ‘Les Chats De Gouttiere’ is the type of quality beat that Blondie would have covered in their hey-day. ‘New Bossa’ is the only song in English and swings along nicely as a change of pace to the other tracks. This EP is a refreshing blast from across the English Channel. They also look cool. If you caught them on their recent visit to London, you’ll know what a good band they are.

For more info:
facebook.com/frenchboutik
myspace.com/frenchboutik
frenchboutik@gmail.com
also available from I-tunes

 

July – Temporal Anomoly CD

Psych is a genre that has just passed me by. It’s just not my bag. However, being a professional, I’ve done the research. I do know that July recorded their one and only LP in 1968 which has become a sought-after psych classic and they released two singles: ‘My Clown’ b/w ‘Dandelion Seeds’ on Major Minor and ‘Hello, Who’s There?’ with ‘The Way’ on Ariola I have listened to tracks from the 1968 period and I can see the attraction for psych fans. With context firmly in place, Temporal Anomaly is no reflection on the 1968 self-titled album. To my untrained ear (in all things psych) this sounds like a rock album. I can’t say if there’s anything that would appeal to psych fans because it would be unfair to make comparisons with July’s output of 44 years ago. To me it’s more Mike Oldfield than 13th Floor Elevators or Strawberry Alarm Clock. That said, the opening track ‘I Like It’ along with ‘Dreams’ and ‘All The Hours’ were high points. It may not be to my taste, but these guys have done something creative, I salute them. There will be people out there who are better qualified to judge than I.

For more info email: july@neddysongs.com and at www.neddysongs.com

 

Nolan Porter with Stone Foundation – Live at 100 Club CD

If you haven’t heard of Stone Foundation yet, believe me you soon will have. This seven-piece outfit from the Midlands are steeped in soul and are even better than Dexy’s… for my money. They impressed so much last year they supported The Specials on their UK tour. Joining them on stage for this official bootleg is Northern Soul legend Nolan Porter and the set understandably includes a handful of Nolan’s best known work. ‘Fe-Fi-Fo-Fum’, ‘Keep On Keepin’ On’, and ‘If I Could Only Be Sure’ will be more than familiar to Northern fans and they stand the test of time given the Stone Foundation treatment. Stone Foundation are no slouches themselves with ‘To Find the Spirit’ and the utterly infectious ‘Tracing Paper’. Throw in a couple of rip-roaring covers of Darrell Bank’s ‘Somebody Somewhere’ and Brenton Wood’s ‘Gimme Little Sign’ and it’s clear to see why the audience were making so much noise. I hear a new studio LP is in the making by Stone Foundation and that should be hitting the streets in the coming months.

www.stonefoundation.co.uk, on facebook and I-tunes where you will also find their back catalogue including the last studio LP Three Shades Of…

 

Phoenix City All-Stars – Two Tone Gone Ska CD

This is one of those “does exactly what it says on the tin” LPs. Seven of the eight tracks are familiar Two-Tone label monsters given the slightly more laid-back feel of ska. ‘One Step Beyond’ and ‘Stereotype’ get things underway and are a taste of things to come. Throughout, it’s clear that the Allstars are quality musicians giving each song it’s due respect. However, the whole set really comes to the fore with the inclusion of vocals from reggae legend Dave Barker (he of Dave and Ansell Collins fame). My personal fav is their version of ‘I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down’. Barker is in fine form and clearly enjoying every moment.

 

Sidewalk Society – Venus, Saturn And The Crescent Moon CD

So, who are Sidewalk Society? Hailing from Long Beech, California, they are a three piece whose influences range from the Kinks, Small Faces and the Move to T Rex. By far their greatest inspiration is The Who’s ‘Sell Out’. Comprising Dan Lawrence on guitar and vocals, Jerry Buszek on drums and Dan West on bass and vocals, by all accounts they have been keeping very busy gigging regularly up and down the interstate highway between San Francisco and LA. This LP is their second and what an interesting work it is. Having listed some of their influences, it is easy to identify them throughout this album, but Sidewalk Society uses those influences very well. It is very well put together and well produced. I did have a couple of questions for the band, but, at time of writing, I have not heard back. The main question was if this was a concept album? It certainly has the feel of one. Made up of 12 tracks, with an interlude and chorale finale, this is definitely a two-parter. Side one (or tracks one to six on the CD) are of a distinctly sixties flavour. The use of orchestration and choice of instruments helps to enhance the feel of that decade. Over on side two (tracks eight to 13) the mood shifts into the seventies where the Bolan influence manifests itself on the title track. Occasionally I found myself thinking Dave Grohl had crept into the consciousness, but that’s not a bad thing. This is a contemporary album by a band using their influences to create new material. The fact that I have listened to this more than once because I liked it says a lot. If this is the standard of mod/power pop stateside, then it’s pretty high and in very good shape. www.sidewalksocietymusic.com


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Graham Lentz

AKA ‘The Baron’ - Like many of his generation, The Jam started Graham's love affair with all things mod back in 1977. He is the author of 'The Influential Factor - A History Of Mod' which was originally published in 2002. An extract from the book was re-printed in Paolo Hewitt's 'The Sharper Word - revised edition' in 2011. Being a self-confessed 'broad-church' mod, Graham's interests range from Modern Jazz to today's up-coming new bands and everything in between. Although he has a passion for mod history, he also has a passion for the new. Whether it's music, clubs, media of every kind, clothing, scooters or art and photography, Graham supports, promotes and encourages as much as he can, because that's how we keep going. 'Give it a chance' is his motto. If it's not for you, that's cool, at least you tried it.

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook

November 15, 2012 By : Category : Bands Front Page Music Reviews Tags:, , , , , , ,
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Record Reviews – Aug 2012

This entry is part 2 of 18 in the series Record Reviews

Jacco Gardner – Clear the Air

Skywalkers main man Jacco Gardner comes up with a contemporary pop sike masterpiece with influences from last centuries psych heroes July and The End in the mix. Both sides are bang on the money the A-side “Clear the Air” a wonderful mid tempo dreamy slab of psych complete with harpsichord and orchestral arrangements. The flip a much faster paced affair with groovy bass line and trippy vocal effects, “A house on the Moon” is ripe for some dancefloor action scene psychedelic DJ’s!!! Available from: actionweekendrecords.blogspot.com

 

The Strypes – Young, Gifted & Blue

Fabulous Blues wailin’ Strypes have been listening to a healthy dollop of early Yardbirds records you know when Eric was uber cool and making a name for himself covering the Blues masters, fast forward 50 years almost and what have we got a bunch of VERY young lads from the emerald isle following the very same path. Cuts included on this EP are “You can’t judge a book by the cover”, “Leaving here”, “Got love if you want it” and “I wish you would” which was co-incidentally was the first Yardbirds 45. Original recordings are in the pipeline soon and the lads live performance is something you won’t forget in a hurry. Catch them live at Crossfire in London on Sat 13 October and see what all the fuss is about. www.facebook.com/pages/The-Strypes/209082819114610

 

The Urges – Fire Burning

New 45 from another great Irish band The Urges and a slight change in style with a soulful garage sound. Punchy brass and soul stomping drums set the pace on “Fire Burning” which is a frantic dancefloor destroyer with a Doors organ solo and great drum break thrown in for good measure, another 45 that deserves a spin on the scene garage DJ’s!!!. The flip “I’ve been here before” is a slow creepy slightlydelic number in the Kim Fowley/Seeds vein and makes this a cracking 45 which you can pick up here: www.mersolmusic.co.uk

 

The Hypnotic Eye – Marianne/Searching 

New London band Hypnotic Eye’s first 45 is a ferocious effort of the Omens classic “Searching” and shows just what good taste this band has. The double A-sided disc is a limited edition (500 only) vinyl 45 complete with PopArt sleeve. “Mariane” is a home grown number with a more R&B/garage/pop feel with shouts that encourage the young lady to get high to add to the feel good factor. A great debut single with a humorous message on the run out groove. www.facebook.com/hypnoticeye

 

Brain Washington – L.S.D/Bad Acid

A heavy dose of ferocious psychedelic rock on 45rpm from London band Brain Washington housed in a smashing picture sleeve. Far out effects, rumbling bass, blistering guitar and pounding drums on both sides of this disc make the trip well worthwhile. Available from: deathpoprecords.wordpress.com/death-pop-records-contact/


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drrobert

I run The New Untouchables organization and events like the Brighton Mod Weekender, Le Beat Bespoké Festival (and compilation series of the same name) and I co-organize Euro Ye Ye with the Trouble & Tea crew. I have run many clubs over the last 20 years in London, where I live and current nights include Timebox, Zoo Zoo, Crossfire, 100 Club and Mousetrap allnighter which has just celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2011. I have been lucky to DJ all over the globe including Japan, Canada, USA and Europe and met some great people on my journey. I run RnB Records to offset my vinyl addiction: newuntouchables.com/rnbrecords for rare vintage vinyl.

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook

August 8, 2012 By : Category : Bands Front Page Music Reviews Tags:, , , , ,
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Record Reviews – Feb 2013 (Part 2)

This entry is part 3 of 18 in the series Record Reviews

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DC Fontana – Pentagram Man EP

DC Fontana are one of those ‘scene’ bands that have been such regular features at so many events, it seems like they have been around for a lot longer than they have. It was only a couple of years ago they released their debut LP, and since then, they have released a further album and EP. Now we have a second EP from the Midlands outfit. ‘Pentagram Man’ is a six track offering which, if nothing else, shows the band’s depth of musical accomplishment and versatility. The title song ‘bookends’ the set with new lead vocalist Louise Turner on duty for the opener, while legend Don Fardon gives his vocal interpretation for the closing track. It’s a decent song, well produced and arranged, but I found ‘DevilAngel’ to be my attention-grabber. A lilting composition that builds very nicely to a catchy chorus, it has hints of Bruce Springsteen productions circa 1975. Maybe it’s the combination of twangy guitar, piano and dulcimers that evoke that memory? Track three, ‘What Would It Take’ is an acoustic folk-ish song which is wonderfully delivered by Louise Turner, who, on this evidence seems to have settled in very well to her role. Scott Riley takes vocal duties for his own composition ‘Satisfied (Part One)’ which takes DC Fontana into a jazzier genre, but it’s hard to know what to make of the fifth track of the EP. ‘Sighed DC’ is an eight minute trance-like opus with clever production, spoken word and dreamy vocals all thrown in. As I said before, versatility. All in all, I’m sure DC Fontana fans will be delighted with this EP, and so they should. I’m delighted with ‘DevilAngel’ and ‘What Would It Take’.

dcfontana.com
youtube.com/dcf1
youtube.com/dcf2

 

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Frowning Clouds – Listen Closlier LP

Australia has had a very respectable mod scene for a number of decades. Of course most people will be aware of Easybeats from the sixties. Arguably, The Sets were one of the great mod bands from down-under through the eighties with people like the late Don Hosie and his brother Gary at the forefront of the scene. As with the UK, mod in Australia has never gone away, it has just gone underground from time to time. Now rising from the scene are a new band who are making a name for themselves with a totally retro sixties sound that comes straight from the freakbeat/garage genre. Frowning Clouds are based in Geelong, Victoria and they make no apology for their sound. As they claim, “We’re filling the gap the Kinks left behind.” which may sound like a bold statement, but it does give a very clear idea of where they’re coming from. ‘Listen Closlier’ is an album of songs that perfectly captures the attitude of all the great sixties beat bands. It is classic blue-eyed R&B with jangly guitars, hammering bass lines and vocals reminiscent of the early work of the aforementioned Davis brothers. The LP gets off to a flyer with ‘Purple Heart’. Other stand out tracks include the gentle rocker ‘I Saw You’, the up-beat ‘Mean Old Girl’, the heavy blues of ‘I’ve Got A Bone For You’, but the absolute belter and highlight of this collection has to be ‘Snake Charmer’, a genuine Bo Diddley-inspired hand-jive beat that will get even the most die-hard wallflowers tapping their toes. I am really looking forward to seeing Frowning Clouds at Le Bespoke during Easter 2013. On this evidence, they are going to rip it up.

facebook.com/thefrowningclouds
myspace.com/thefrowningclouds
thefrowningclouds.bandcamp.com
saturnorecords.com
youtube.com/thefrowningclouds

 

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Gizzelle – Rhythm And Soul

If there is one thing I can promise you, this lady is going to be a massive hit during the Easter Le Beat Bespoke 9 Weekender. Gizzelle was discovered by Wild Records in LA singing with a jump rhythm and blues band. Before too long, they had Gizzelle signed up and this LP ‘Rhythm And Soul’ is the culmination of a number of recording sessions over a relatively lengthy period of time, not that it detracts from the quality of the music. What impressed the guys at Wild Records was Gizzelle’s voice, and what a voice it is ! This young Mexican lady has the vocal ability to amalgamate the sounds of the late Etta James, Janis Joplin, Wanda Jackson and Big Mama Thornton all into one neat package. ‘Rhythm And Soul’ contains 16 prime cuts including covers of tracks by Betty James, LaVern Baker, Barbara Lynn and the aforementioned Etta James. What makes this LP so special is the fact that Gizzelle really can carry it off. She really does have a voice that does this material as much justice as the originals. I don’t think it’s going too far to say that in my opinion, Gizzelle would beat the late and tragic Amy Winehouse hands down had they gone head-to-head. So, which tracks to look out for? Well, if you haven’t been knocked-out by the opener, ‘I’m A Good Woman’, then there’s something wrong with you. It’s a belter! Gizzelle’s renditions of ‘Voodoo, Voodoo’, ‘Mixed Up’ and ‘Tough Lover’ are just superb. Gizzelle headlines the Wild Records Showcase night during Le Bespoke 9 on Saturday 30th March, and on the evidence of this LP, this is one show you do not want to miss. I have a feeling people will be talking about Gizzelle for sometime to come.

wildpresents.com/gizzelle
myspace.com/lilgizzelle
last.fm/music/Gizzelle
youtube.com/gizzelle

 

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Midnight Shots – Two EPs

I wish I could tell you more about this Spanish beat combo, but sadly I have no idea how long they’ve been together or what they have done in the past. What I can say for certain is they are a class act. Two EPs found their way to me recently, the first titled ‘4 Shots of R&B’. Featuring three original compositions ‘Over The Wall’, ‘Ladies & Gentlemen’ and ‘Morena’, these are prime examples of quality sixties-influenced beat. They are catchy and very danceable. The fourth track though is a real peach. ‘Vestido Rojo’ is The ‘Shots take on a classic and the joy of it for me is the fact it is sung in Spanish. You can’t go far wrong with ‘High Heeled Sneakers’ !! The second EP, ‘Here Come The Bombs’ find The Midnight Shots moving slightly into the jive zone of R&B. The addition of a tenor saxophone to the line up gives them a rounded sound and the four tracks reflect the shift from the beat mood of the first EP. My personal fav from this set is ‘Up At Dawn’ with the sax and organ front and centre. Both EPs are released on Discos Jaguar label out of Valencia, but not much is known about them either. Suffice to say, I hope we see more from Midnight Shots in the future.

midnightshots.bandcamp.com
myspace.com/midnightshots
facebook.com/Midnight-Shots
youtube.com/midnightshots

 

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The Spark Shyver – Shake It For Me

I have not been able to ascertain if this is the debut or a recent release by this Paris-based trio of psych-beat merchants, but it has been released by Lust Records out of Cleveland, Ohio which makes things a little more confusing. From the info I’ve managed to find, Spark Shyver were formed in 2007. They seem to have made some sort of connection with Pete Doherty a year or so back, but that is just about all there is to tell. If I’m honest, this is a band that sound as if they need a bit more focus and direction. The B side, ‘Reeds’ is a little too rough round the edges and probably needed a tighter production to help it make sense. The second track on the A side ‘Look At Me Now’ is similar in as much as the production lets it down. The lead track though is by far the best of the three. ‘Shake It For Me’ is a rolling Beat/R&B dancer that would go down well with NUTS Timebox fans. It’s clear that the band are more confident with this track and maybe this is where they should focus their attention, with material in a similar vein, if only to help them become more established. After five years I would have expected to have had these guys on the radar before now. Let’s hope Spark Styver get things together and find some consistency. I think they could be one to watch if they do. The video link is for ‘Look At Me Now’ as there doesn’t seem to be a vid for ‘Shake It For Me’.

facebook.com/The Spark Shyver
myspace.com/thesparkshyver
youtube.com/thesparkshyver


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Graham Lentz

AKA ‘The Baron’ - Like many of his generation, The Jam started Graham's love affair with all things mod back in 1977. He is the author of 'The Influential Factor - A History Of Mod' which was originally published in 2002. An extract from the book was re-printed in Paolo Hewitt's 'The Sharper Word - revised edition' in 2011. Being a self-confessed 'broad-church' mod, Graham's interests range from Modern Jazz to today's up-coming new bands and everything in between. Although he has a passion for mod history, he also has a passion for the new. Whether it's music, clubs, media of every kind, clothing, scooters or art and photography, Graham supports, promotes and encourages as much as he can, because that's how we keep going. 'Give it a chance' is his motto. If it's not for you, that's cool, at least you tried it.

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook

February 5, 2013 By : Category : Bands Front Page Music Reviews Tags:, , , ,
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Record Reviews – Feb 2013 (Part 1)

This entry is part 4 of 18 in the series Record Reviews

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Reggie King – Looking For A Dream CD

As most of you will know, Reggie King was the lead singer of The Action. They were a band that should have been more commercially successful, but it never materialised. However, their legacy to British pop music and mod has been felt for decades. It has really only been in the last 15 years or so that The Action have been given something like the credit and respect they deserved, thanks in part to our own Dr Robert and people like the late Ian Hebditch and his surviving partner Jane Shepherd. Now we can add another name to that list of dedicated Action fans. This collection of recently rediscovered demos has been meticulously restored by Peter Wild with help from Peter Reynolds and Ian Stead. The collection released by Circle Records is an astonishing and important piece of British pop history. To give it some context, Reggie left The Action in 1968 and released a solo LP in 1971. These 15 tracks were recorded in 1969, or at least that is the best guess. No one can be absolutely certain. What is certain, is that this album clearly indicates exactly where Reggie was musically at that time. It seems to me that Reggie was not only a contemporary of, but also a competitor with Steve Marriott and Ray Davis and in my opinion, they travelled similar roads musically, although Marriott and Davis won the commercial popularity contest as single and album sales will attest.

The reason I make this comparison is because much of this album would not have looked out of place alongside ‘Autumn Stone’ or ‘The Self Preservation Society ‘ for example. Although they are demos, they are complete, produced and arranged works that are both of their time, but could easily stand up along side some of Paul Weller’s more recent wistful work. ’22 Dreams’ LP springs to mind. I think musically, the Modfather would relate to this collection totally. ‘Looking For A Dream’ is packed full of pastoral shades. It is not folksy by any means, but it has all the best qualities of a collection of songs that were a precursor to the classic singer-songwriter period of pop. All the songs were written by Reggie King and this shows what a magnificent and under-rated songwriter he was. ‘Get Up, Get Away’ easily matches Ray Davis or Marriott at their jolly music hall best. ‘All Up To Heaven’ is another perfect example, while ‘In And Out’ is just sublime and arguably the best track. I like the fact that, in the sleeve notes, Peter Wild accepts that one or two tracks are purely ‘the best we could get them’ in terms of sound quality which is a very honest assessment. This is definitely an album for not just Action fans as a historical artefact , but serious music lovers who will really listen to the songs and appreciate the quality. We really lost a ‘national treasure’ when Reggie past away. This CD proves it.

 

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Alfa 9 – Gone To Ground CD

Seven years is a long time between albums for any band. So it is the case with Alfa 9 who finally return from their sabbatical….well okay not a sabbatical so much, but there are those for whom life must never get in the way of their career and those, like Alfa 9 who have rolled with life’s ups and downs, but never lost sight of what they wanted to do. What a joy it is to see them back with a new LP of wonderfully crafted and produced songs. For those not aware of Alfa 9, the Newcastle-Under-Lyne quartet’s debut LP ‘Then We Begin’ was critically acclaimed. They toured with Coral and Charlatans and looked as if things were going to really take off. Unfortunately the rigours of extensive touring caught up with them and that thing I mentioned earlier, life. This new 12 track offering is easily on a par with that debut LP, if not better. Alfa 9 are a nice combination of influences that shine throughout. Almost like a fine wine, you can almost taste the flavours; the Byrds, Charlatans, Stone Roses, Rain Parade, La’s, Crosby Stills and Nash, Gram Parsons. ‘El Morocco’ gets the album off to a flying start, a real Byrds-influenced song that highlights another aspect of Alfa 9’s admirable qualities – vocal harmonies, which are exquisitely executed. ‘Seedless’ is a wistful, dreamy corker, while ‘Old Man Blues’ comes out of left-field compared to the rest of the tracks as a rocking blues belter which is lyrically very clever and astutely observed. If ‘The Castle’ had been released in 1996, it would have been top twenty material, complementing and capturing the sound of the aforementioned Stone Roses, Charlatans, Ride et al. If any of the influencing bands mentioned are among your favs, watch out for this one, Alfa 9 ‘Gone To Ground’. I think you may be seeing and hearing a lot more about them in the near future and remember, you saw it here first. The album is out on general release in March this year on Blow Up Records. Cat No: BU066CDPW.

 

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Electric Stars – Sonic Candy Soul CD

I am always interested when a new release from Detour Records lands on my desk. While they are known for unearthing great obscure and unreleased or long-forgotten punk and mod revival tracks. Detour also have a healthy catalogue of terrific LPs ranging from Long Tall Shorty to Makin’ Time. This album by Electric Stars was of particular interest as I had not heard about this Manchester band until the CD arrived. This is as good a slice of British indie rock as you’re likely to hear anywhere. The songs and the production on the eleven tracks have pretty much incorporated every influence you could think of from British rock music of the last 60 years. They have thrown it into a big pot, given it a stir and the results are spectacular. If the great British NIMS (Not Into Mod) ever get to hear this band, they would consign their crap Coldplay CDs to the recycling bin where they belong. Included in the set are the two songs that became Electric Stars first single: ‘Stoned Again’ a lovely relaxed ballad and ‘Between The Streets’ which has a nice joyful late-sixties feel to it. However, for me, the real gem on this album is the last track ‘Isolation’. Again it is a ballad, but it is simply the best bitter-sweet love song I’ve heard since Verve did ‘The Drugs Don’t Work’. I don’t think it is going too far to say it’s a work of absolute perfection. A song so complete I can’t imagine it being improved. Now if this had been written and performed by someone like maybe Robbie Williams (when he was at his peak) it would have been a million seller. I’m not the easiest of people to win over, but when something this good comes along, I found it hard to resist. The youtube link is the full album version of this song. If nothing else, I shall catch an Electric Stars gig at some point just to hear ‘Isolation’ live.

theelectricstars.com
facebook.com/The-Electric-Stars
twitter.com/theelectricstar
detour-records.co.uk
youtube.com/electricstars

 

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Rhythm Shakers – Flipsville CD

Oh man ! Make sure you get your hands on tickets for Le Beat Bespoke Weekender 9 because if this rockin’, rollin, strollin’, boppin’ album is anything to go by, Rhythm Shakers are going to make a big impression here come the Easter holidays. This is a good old fashioned rockin’ R&B set that will have Mark Lamarr jumpin’ (if he doesn’t already know about them !) The driving force behind the band is Marlene Perez. She wrote all bar four of the tracks and what a voice! It’s taylor-made for this kind of thing. Every now-and-then, Marlene pulls out that husky growl that is not over-used, but timed to perfection. The backing and production is an amalgam of rockabilly meets the Ventures meets Brenda Lee at her rockin’ best. If anything Senorita Perez has a more low-down and dirty sound to her delivery than Ms Lee could have ever hoped to achieve. The real challenge reviewing this CD and one I gladly accept is simply this: Pick a winner from this lot ! It is rare indeed when you can’t find a fault in any of the songs. Listen to ‘My Sweet Revenge’ and you know the lady means every last word of it. She wants a ‘Real Rockin’ Daddy’ and you hope one turns up damn quick ! Even when Rhythm Shakers dip their toes in the covers pool, they come up with a lovely interpretation of Ray Charles’ ‘Mess Around’. The lead track ‘No Time On You’ really sets the tone for this collection of 12 numbers and I urge you to at least check them out via the links. One thing is for sure. I’ll be the first one in the door when they open on 30 March 2013.

facebook.com/The-Rhythm-Shakers
wildpresents.com/therhythmshakers
youtube.com/therhythmshakers

 

Top 10 Favourite Tracks of 2012

As we move into 2013, I thought I would present my Top 10 favourite tracks of 2012. Of course we all have our opinions and our favs, and I accept not everyone will agree with me.

They are in no particular order, but for what it’s worth, here goes:

1. Nick Waterhouse – ‘Is That Clear’.

The Bay Area resident came to the UK early in 2012 and made a big impression on the London scene and this was my pick from his EP.

2. Jasmine Kara – ‘Ordinary Joe’

Also early in the year, Jasmine Kara had a showcase for her LP ‘Blues Ain’t Nothin’ But A Good Woman Gone Bad’. From that came a very tidy interpretation of the Terry Callier classic.

3. Last Of The Troubadors – ‘Only Remedy’

The latest incarnation for the resilient and creative Darron Connett, this song was from their first EP ‘Sooner The Better’. While all four tracks deserve a mention, this was my choice.

4. French Boutik – ‘Le Clope’

Much like Last Of The Troubadors, French Boutik came up with a four track EP of high quality. This one got my vote by the narrowest of margins.

5. Recusants – Barmaid

I saw these guys sharing the bill with Spitfires back in October. I know they are an out-and-out indie band, but there was something about this song that got me hooked. Indie power pop at it’s finest.

6. Spitfires – ‘Sirens’

While ‘Spark To Start’ was the lead track on this double A-side single, this always was my fav. Power, aggression, three minutes of post-punk, Jam/ Clash/ Chords influenced perfection.

7. Filthy Six – ‘Girlfriend’

A latecomer into my top 10. A fabulous cover of the Michael Jackson hit from the 1980s. Cleverly incorporating the guitar riff from Archie Bell and The Drells ‘Tighten Up’ (not sampled I might add), this a the kind of funky stuff that Acid Jazz built its reputation upon.

8. Frowning Clouds – ‘Snake Charmer’

This was my pick from the LP ‘Listen Closlier’. I’m really looking forward to seeing our Aussie cousins live at Le Beat Bespoke 9 during Easter.

9. Strypes – ‘You Can’t Judge A Book By The Cover’

People still talk about the Crossfire Allnighter back in October when these lads from the Emerald Isle fairly torn the place up with a blistering set, and this track was one of many highlights. They will be back for Le Beat Bespoke 9 as well.

10. Electric Stars – ‘Isolation’

My final choice is this incredible bitter-sweet ballad from the Manchester-based band. On the basis that nothing is perfect, this is as close as it gets for me.

All tracks listed are available via the usual online and digital download outlets.

So what can we look forward to in 2013? Plenty, is my answer. The rumour is Mr Weller will be unveiling his latest work this year. Last Of The Troubadors will be releasing their latest EP, which will be even better than the first.

Stone Foundation, whose magnificent ‘Three Shades Of..’ from 2011 will be surpassed by a new LP that will see them build on their success thus far. Alpha 9 whose brand of harmonies and jangly guitars a-la-Byrds will have anew LP out in March. The recently discovered-thought-lost demo sessions by Reggie King will also be out soon.

Then of course Le Beat Bespoke 9 will be a belter. The line-up is superb, but if you like rhythm and blues and rock and roll, Saturday night is the one not to be missed. The Wild Records Revue featuring Gizzelle, Omar and the Stringpoppers and Rhythm Shakers is going to be something else. Be warned, get your tickets early for that one.


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Graham Lentz

AKA ‘The Baron’ - Like many of his generation, The Jam started Graham's love affair with all things mod back in 1977. He is the author of 'The Influential Factor - A History Of Mod' which was originally published in 2002. An extract from the book was re-printed in Paolo Hewitt's 'The Sharper Word - revised edition' in 2011. Being a self-confessed 'broad-church' mod, Graham's interests range from Modern Jazz to today's up-coming new bands and everything in between. Although he has a passion for mod history, he also has a passion for the new. Whether it's music, clubs, media of every kind, clothing, scooters or art and photography, Graham supports, promotes and encourages as much as he can, because that's how we keep going. 'Give it a chance' is his motto. If it's not for you, that's cool, at least you tried it.

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February 5, 2013 By : Category : Bands Front Page Music Reviews Tags:, , , , ,
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Record Reviews – Apr 2013

This entry is part 5 of 18 in the series Record Reviews

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The Franklys EP

As you may have gathered, I’m a mod from the 1979 generation, and as such,
I have a love of all types of music within the mod spectrum and some outside of it. For this reason, I was really taken with this splendid EP from four-piece all-girl combo the Franklys. As reference points, they resurrect the spirit of Siouxsie Sioux, Slits, Au Pairs, the late Polly Styrene and even the pre-Everything But The Girl Tracey Thorn with her band Marine Girls. What about Debbie Harry and Blondie? No I don’t think so. The Franklys are too hard core for a Blondie comparison. The band comprise of Jennifer Ahlkvist on guitar and vocals, Fanny Broberg on guitar, Zoe Biggs on bass and Nicole Pinto on drums and what a great sound they make. Lead track ‘Weasel’ is a belter and rightly deserves it’s place at the top of the track listing. ‘Imaginarium’ gives a nod to early Joy Division with a delightfully haunting quality. ‘My Love’ takes the pace off, but picks up the un-nerving, unsettling mood. ‘Roadtrip Reality’ rocks. I can’t say anymore about it. It really rocks! And to complete the five track outing, ‘Some People Leave’ gives the Franklys the opportunity to show their potential with a song that shifts in pace, rhythm and complexity that the girls handle comfortably. This is a band I shall make a point of seeing live in the very near future because if their gigs are as full of energy and excitement as this EP, they will be well worth the admission price. Best of all, they are talented bunch of young ladies with their own sense of style (and I suspect) they have a habit of giving a two-fingered salute to anyone who gives them flak. You go girls! (as the saying goes).

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Hypnotic Eye – Readin’ Your Will b/w Satisfaction

Hypnotic Eye are a six-piece psych outfit from south-west London who seem to be causing a stir on the gig circuit. They’ve been referred to as looking like they’ve just ‘stepped straight out of 1968’. I must admit, they do have a great look and the focus is very much on lead singer Grace Lightman. Her voice may be a touch ‘squeeky’ for some, but her vocal style definitely suits Hypnotic Eye’s music. ‘Readin’ Your Will’ either by design or not, takes the riff from the Monkee’s ‘(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone’ and remodels it into a tasty slice of authentic up-tempo psych with Miss Lightman and (I’m guessing) Lindsay Murray sharing the vocal duties. ‘Satisfaction’ sees Grace taking us through a scratchy-guitar fuelled psych dancer with her pleas to ‘satisfy me’ with plenty of ‘yeah, yeah, yeahs’ to back her up. This is a ‘must’ for any psych fan. They do have a great look.

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Button Up – Inhaler Single

Let’s get the basics out of the way first. Button Up are a terrific band based in Coatbridge near Glasgow and yes, this is a cover of the Miles Kane track from November 2010 which was re-released in July 2011. Inevitably, if you are going to do a cover, you leave yourself open to comparison with the original version. So, if you’re going to do it, do it well. Fortunately, Button Up have done just that. They have done it well, with swirling Hammond organ runs, stabbing brass section parts and with the urgent pace that the song demands. Vocally, Sara Kerr does a splendid job and over all, Button Up have turned this into the kind of rip roaring dancer that it always had the potential to be. But don’t get me wrong, I love Miles Kane’s original. I always believed ‘Inhaler’ would eventually be regarded as a ‘modern’ classic among the new generation of mods who are setting their own standards and interpreting mod for themselves….much like my generation did in the 1979 period. I would imagine this is a very popular part of Button Up’s live set, and rightly so. Great song, great version. There will be more Button Up reviews in the next NUTsMag due out in May 2013.


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Graham Lentz

AKA ‘The Baron’ - Like many of his generation, The Jam started Graham's love affair with all things mod back in 1977. He is the author of 'The Influential Factor - A History Of Mod' which was originally published in 2002. An extract from the book was re-printed in Paolo Hewitt's 'The Sharper Word - revised edition' in 2011. Being a self-confessed 'broad-church' mod, Graham's interests range from Modern Jazz to today's up-coming new bands and everything in between. Although he has a passion for mod history, he also has a passion for the new. Whether it's music, clubs, media of every kind, clothing, scooters or art and photography, Graham supports, promotes and encourages as much as he can, because that's how we keep going. 'Give it a chance' is his motto. If it's not for you, that's cool, at least you tried it.

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April 16, 2013 By : Category : Bands Front Page Music Reviews Tags:, ,
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Record Reviews – Jun 2013 (Part 1)

This entry is part 6 of 18 in the series Record Reviews

Redondo Beat

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Redondo Beat – Telepathic Love b/w Magic Touch

If you like a right good stomping, full-on garage/psych thrash, in the vein of the Hives, then you’re going to love this. Redondo Beat are from Germany where the mod scene has been going for many years and they do seem to produce some quality bands that don’t always come to the attention of us Brits, even with all the social media we have today. If this single is anything to go by, Redondo Beat are perfect for any number of UK events. The lead track, ‘Telepathic Love’ sounds like Ringo Starr is on drums while Dave Grohl plays lead guitar ! It might only last one minute and 34 seconds, but it’s certainly memorable. It’s one of those songs that instantly wedges itself into your brain and refuses to go away. Meanwhile, ‘Magic Touch’ is straight out of the Hives ‘under three minutes of madness’ mould. It stomps along at a fair old rate and doesn’t let up for a second. I’m looking forward to their new album ‘Meet Redondo Beat’ on Dionysus Records, because if it’s anything like this single, I know I’m going to love it. redondobeat.de

Last Of The Troubadors

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Last Of The Troubadors – Don’t Stand On Shadows EP

Some of you may recall a band called Connett who were tipped for big things some years back. Sadly, they folded, but lead singer Darron Connett (not one for staying down after such a set back) formed Last Of The Troubadours about 18 months ago with guitarist Joel Rogers. 2012 saw their first EP ‘Sooner The Better’ released. It was very good, and they have been gathering a decent following in the meantime. Now comes their second EP and it is brilliant. For my money, one of the best of the year so far. I am a firm believer in gauging the quality of music by it’s initial impact. If it grabs you on the first listen, then you’ve got something a bit special. This is what happened to me with this cd. Each song is a catchy, melodic power pop gem. Both Darron and Joel share the vocals and they harmonise very effectively. They also have a young man by the name of Luke who is by far the best drummer of his generation. I haven’t seen anyone to match him. So what makes them different from any other band of that ilk? Quite simple really, they don’t sound like anyone else. If you listen really hard, you might pick out a slight ‘Motown-style’ drum beat or a Hammond organ supplementing the guitar riff, but you’d be hard pushed to stick these lads in a pigeon-hole. Lead track, ‘Tonight’ is a solid rocking opener. The title track ‘Don’t Stand On Shadows’ has a slightly eerie, upbeat feel to it, while ‘Shame On You’ has more of an optimistic message (despite the title). However, my top choices come down to the wonderful ‘One To Blame’ with it’s anthemic chorus and the very dance-able ‘Never Forgive You’ where Last Of The Troubadours are joined by the legend that is Mr Steve Diggle from the Buzzcocks. I’m sure the lads will go down a storm when they play the Isle Of Wight Festival in June, and I strongly recommend you see them live if you can. But until then, do check out this EP and the video for ‘Never Forgive You’ on the link. facebook.com/The-Last-of-the-Troubadours

Forever Mod

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Forever Mod – CD

Here’s a tip that some might appreciate. The next time you are in Sainsbury’s supermarket, have a look at the CD section. There in the budget range, you may well find a double or even a triple disc set of CDs labelled as ‘Mod’ music. Now, if your like me, I always eye these sorts of products with some suspicion. The first thing I think is; “Here we go again. Another comp of Small Faces, Who, Kinks, Zombies and Manfreds mixed in with other assorted 60s pop nonsense and nothing to do with mod at all.” For some reason, I decided to take a look at the track listing for this set, and I was very surprised. There was Mose Allison, Freddie King, Jimmy McGriff, Roscoe Gordon, Byron Lee, Sugar Pie De Santo. Allowing for a few minor indiscretions, (Everly Brothers?!) This was a pretty decent stab at getting to some serious mod-type R&B. Then I found another compilation entitled ‘March Of The Mods’ a triple helping that was better than the ‘Forever Mod’ set. Here was Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland, James Booker, Slim Harpo, Marvin Gaye, Chris Kenner and Arthur Alexander. So, why am I tipping you off about these discs? If you know a young mod who is just getting into the scene, or your extensive collection of 7″ singles don’t play too well on the Dansette in the car or on the scooter, search out these discs. I’ve only seen them in Sainsbury’s, but the best bit is the price: £4.00 each. Yep, four shiny one pound coins for a whole bunch of quality R&B.

Wicked Whispers

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Wicked Whispers – Voodoo Moon b/w Nightbird

The psyche scene shows no sign of abating as this new single will testify. This five piece outfit from Liverpool have all the qualities that will endear them to psyche fans. The ‘A’ side, ‘Voodoo Moon’ is a song inspired by the eternal beauty of Audrey Hepburn and is a mid-paced love song full of haunting organ work and a dreamy chorus. The ‘B’ side, ‘Nightbird’ features guest spots by Paul Malloy (ex Zutons) and Austin Murphy on saxophone and flute. It has a Doors feel to it and has a catchy chorus. Lead vocalist Mike Murphy has a fairly distinctive voice which certainly suits this style. All in all, an interesting single, but I will say I preferred the ‘B’ side. thewickedwhispers.com  & facebook.com/thewickedwhispers

Soul Naturals

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Soul Naturals -If It’s War You’re Looking For

Listening to this magnificent slice of slow-burning British soul, it would be easy to assume it is on a very well known record label that celebrated it’s 25th anniversary last year. However you would be mistaken. I was. The Soul Naturals are fronted by singer/songwriter Sharon Gitau and this single is heavily influenced by the great classic releases of Brand New Heavies, Corduroy and Young Disciples to name but three. With it’s sumptuous production, this is the kind of track that restores my faith in modern soul music and I’m so glad to find someone out there making the kind of soul only we in the UK can produce. I would expect the likes of Jazz FM, Solar and Craig Charles on BBC 6 Music to be all over this one. It’s out on the British Soul Standard label, which has been going since 2008 and if they maintain this sort of quality, they will be around for sometime to come and hopefully so will the Soul Naturals. Word is an album is due sometime this year. I’ll be watching out for it, because on this evidence, it should be well worth a listen. Watch this space…


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Graham Lentz

AKA ‘The Baron’ - Like many of his generation, The Jam started Graham's love affair with all things mod back in 1977. He is the author of 'The Influential Factor - A History Of Mod' which was originally published in 2002. An extract from the book was re-printed in Paolo Hewitt's 'The Sharper Word - revised edition' in 2011. Being a self-confessed 'broad-church' mod, Graham's interests range from Modern Jazz to today's up-coming new bands and everything in between. Although he has a passion for mod history, he also has a passion for the new. Whether it's music, clubs, media of every kind, clothing, scooters or art and photography, Graham supports, promotes and encourages as much as he can, because that's how we keep going. 'Give it a chance' is his motto. If it's not for you, that's cool, at least you tried it.

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June 10, 2013 By : Category : Bands Front Page Music Reviews Tags:, , , , ,
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Record Reviews – Jun 2013 (Part 2)

This entry is part 7 of 18 in the series Record Reviews

Jacco Gardner

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Jacco Gardner  – Cabinet Of Curiosities LP

Due to being all ‘gigged-out’ by Easter Sunday, I missed the last night of Le Beat Bespoke 9 and Jacco Gardner. By all accounts the Dutch psych maestro finished the monumental four night extravaganza in some style. So, with that in mind, I was interested to hear his latest album ‘Cabinet Of Curiosities’. Now, unless you’ve been a ‘scene hermit’ in the last 12 months, you can’t help but notice a resurgence in psych bands and music. The late 60s output of bands from around the world is being reappraised, re-interpreted and given new momentum by young artists who were not even close to being born in 1968. Influence is a wonderful and regenerating force. So where does Jacco Gardner fit into this renewed psych scene? Well, the first thing of note and some admiration, is that he plays everything except drums on this LP. He also wrote, produced, recorded and mixed the entire set. This puts Jacco in the ‘precocious talent’ category. This is a collection of dreamy, laid-back, beautifully executed songs. The use of instruments gives it an air authenticity reflecting the period of popular music which inspired it. However, Jacco’s real coup de gras is making it all come across as contemporary as opposed to a parody or pastiche. Opening track, ‘Clear The Air’, really sets the tone for the LP. In terms of pace, it never gets above a ‘gentle jog’, but I suspect the point of this work is it demands to be listened to with some concentration to get the full effect. The tracks I went back to most often are ‘Puppets Dangling’ and ‘Where Will You Go’. If you enjoy lazing in the sunshine by a river, this is the album you should have with you. Let’s hope the UK has a long heat wave ! www.jaccogardner.com  & facebook.com/jaccogardnermusic

Button Up

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Button Up  – Modena LP

One of the perks of my job here at Nutsmag is that I get to discover great talent I was not aware of before. Button Up are one such band. Having reviewed the ‘Inhaler’ single in the April newsletter, I now have the pleasurable duty to review their LP ‘Modena’. In case you missed the single review, I’ll recap briefly. Button Up are from the Glasgow area and are led by bassist Garry John Kane, with Sara Kerr taking lead vocals. In all, they are a five piece outfit with guest musicians joining them as and when required. ‘Modena’ is a 50-50 split of vocal and instrumental tracks and the first thing that struck me was how versatile Button Up are. The four tracks that feature the aforementioned Ms Kerr are all flavoured with northern soul. They are all good tracks, but my favourite of the four is ‘Listen To Your Heart’, for no other reason than it gives Sara a bit more work to do vocally. She handles it with apparent ease and what I particularly like about her vocal style, is that she has that certain ‘north of the border’ quality in her voice which can be found in any number of her fellow Scottish predecessors. Of the instrumental tracks, the real surprise is the change of pace with ‘Eugene’s Echo’ which is a slice of reggae with a hint of UB40 (when they were really good) thrown into the mix. This is another personal fav, but I have to say, ‘Someday’, a real Two Tone style groover, is the track I’ve listened to the most. Maybe it’s because it reminds me of The Beat’s halcyon days, but whatever the reason, I love this one. If I have any criticism, it is merely that I found myself looking for ‘something’ to take the instrumental tracks up a level. ‘Upside Down’ for example is a nice Hammond-led dancer, but I felt it could have done with a brass or sax solo in there which would have given it that bit ‘extra’. Over all though, this is a very good LP. There will be a review of Button Up’s ‘Covered’ ep in the next edition of Nutsmag and the rumour is that Button Up may well be making an appearance at a NUTS event in the future. Let’s hope so ! buttonuprecords.com and available on I-tunes.

Bobby Brooks Hamilton

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Bobby Brooks Hamilton – It Was You b/w Little School Girl

Fresh from their hugely successful revue show at Le Beat Bespoke 9, here is another gem from the terrific Wild Records. Both tracks are superb cuts of genuine rhythm and blues recorded in an authentic style that typifies Wild Records output. ‘It Was You’ is very much a song written with the influence of early James Brown, Sam Cooke and the Moonglows in mind and the delivery by Bobby Brooks Hamilton is astonishingly good. He has a voice that evokes the spirit of the great ‘shouters’ of R&B and if we in the UK have a contemporary, it would have to be Si Cranstoun (formerly of The Dualers) now out on his own and producing equally great recordings. ‘Little School Girl’ is a good old-fashioned R&B shuffler that sees Mr Hamilton really work those vocal cords along with a rasping mid-eight tenor sax solo. But here is the real ‘eyebrow-raising’ fact about Bobby Brooks Hamilton. His dad is Jackie Wilson. Yes, THE Jackie Wilson. No wonder the man can sing. wildrecordsusa.com (Listed under Bands – Bobby Brooks Wilson, this link takes you to the sampler for the two tracks)

Soho-lites

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Soho-lites  – Good Morning London

I’m sure there are one or two of you out there who remember the band 17 Black from the 90s? They were a band who were popular on the scene, especially at scooter rallies and they showed great potential, but for some reason they never quite made it. Lead singer and songwriter Brent Yeomans has kept busy since the demise of 17 Black and he returns here with an updated version of this catchy little number under the guise of Soho-Lites. It has all the elements and influences of ’79 without being patronising. It’s easy to spot the Jam connection. The song structure is very much based around the classic ’79 period of the mod legends, but it has an honesty about it. Let’s call it ‘an affectionate tribute’. Lyrically, ‘Good Morning London’ does what you would expect, telling the tale of our capital city from the view point of a traveller on his way into the centre of town. The brass section have a very nice hook that lifts the track and, all things considered, this is a very nice single.

Hexxers

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Hexxers – Let’s Dance b/w Straight Home

If you like a bit of rock and roll and you enjoyed the Wild Records Revue at Le Beat Bespoke 9, then you’ll love this. I can’t tell you much about the Hexxers other than they are something of a rockabilly favourite out on the West Coast circuit. Both tracks are fairly typical of their output, full-on rock and roll with manic vocal delivery and a musical style more in keeping with the Ventures. ‘Straight Home’ did make me smile though as it tells the tale of a date that ended in an ignominious fashion because the lady in question was ‘ugly’. Hence, why they went ‘Straight Home’. While this single is still available on Wild Records, the Hexxers have since moved on.


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Graham Lentz

AKA ‘The Baron’ - Like many of his generation, The Jam started Graham's love affair with all things mod back in 1977. He is the author of 'The Influential Factor - A History Of Mod' which was originally published in 2002. An extract from the book was re-printed in Paolo Hewitt's 'The Sharper Word - revised edition' in 2011. Being a self-confessed 'broad-church' mod, Graham's interests range from Modern Jazz to today's up-coming new bands and everything in between. Although he has a passion for mod history, he also has a passion for the new. Whether it's music, clubs, media of every kind, clothing, scooters or art and photography, Graham supports, promotes and encourages as much as he can, because that's how we keep going. 'Give it a chance' is his motto. If it's not for you, that's cool, at least you tried it.

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June 10, 2013 By : Category : Bands Front Page Music Reviews Tags:, , , , ,
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Record Reviews – Sep 2013 (Part 1)

This entry is part 8 of 18 in the series Record Reviews

Shook Ups

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Shook Ups – Bad Reception LP

Based in Wigan and Liverpool, Shook-Ups look to have a bright future with this debut LP. Firmly embedded in the classic sound of sixties garage with a UK flavour, this album will please all you Timebox Allnighter fans. With great chunks of fuzz-tones driving each track, complemented by a parping organ, this collection of three-minute full-frontal assaults on the ear drums is a perfect start to a promising career for the lads. ‘What You Gonna Do’ might have a slight tinge of Small Faces about it, but that’s not always a bad thing. ‘Second To None’ and ‘Just Perfection’ are rip-roaring, organ-driven stompers, while ‘Don’t Be Wasting My Time’ has a really infectious organ hook and chorus. I’m looking forward to hearing more from Shook Ups in due course, but as a debut, this is a definite winner.

Soulnaturals

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Soulnaturals – Sunbeam

This is another fantastic track from one of the best modern soul bands in the country for my money. ‘Sunbeams’ is just the kind of laid-back groove you want to hear during a long hot summer. Led by Tony Cannam, Soulnaturals have picked up the baton from the likes of Incognito, Brand New Heavies and Soul To Soul. It is classic and most definitely British. Taking lead vocals this time around is the talented Chantelle Nandi who is a native of Zimbabwe. She has a vocal technique, tone and style that perfectly suits this kind of arrangement. The song itself, just oozes smooth groove with stabbing brass, pizzicato strings and tight harmonies. It is a pure delight and I will be watching the rise of the Soulnaturals with great interest. As you know, we at Nutsmag will champion great music, no matter where it’s from, and the Soulnaturals produce great music.

Swamp Dogg

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Swamp Dogg – Gag A Maggott LP

Jerry Williams Jr is a native of Portsmouth, Virginia and grew up mostly influenced by country music during his formative years. Thankfully, he became not just an artist in his own right, but also a formidable producer and musician. In 1970 Jerry assumed the pseudonym of Swamp Dogg and released his debut LP ‘Total Destruction To Your Mind’ and the 1971 follow up ‘Rat On!’ was voted one of the worst LP covers of all time. However, by 1973 (a pivotal year for Black music in my opinion) Swamp released ‘Gag A Maggott’ an album in keeping with the times, but perhaps a little too distinctive for many. The over-riding impression of this album is that it has something that soul music had not touched on. At a time when Black consciousness and Black politics was at the forefront, ‘Gag A Maggott’ had humour. While tracks like ‘Wife Sitter’, Please Let Me Kiss You Goodbye’, and ‘Why Must We Fall’ display Swamp’s undoubted ability as a singer and interpreter of soul, there is always a sense of mischief underpinning it all. Then we find the cod-country, tongue-in-cheek silliness of ‘T T’ (say it quickly and you will get the gist) which make you realise that maybe Swamp doesn’t take himself too seriously. The great thing about this album is that it proves Swamp Dogg was way ahead of his time. Others followed (Blowfly was as rude as you could get), but I know of no other before Swamp Dogg, who put this much humour into their art in Black music. His takes on ‘Midnight Hour’ and the live previously unreleased ‘Honky Tonk Women’ are a joy to hear. So it is with thanks to Alive Naturalsound Records, that we can rediscover a talent long over-looked and no, he is not Snoop Dogg’s Dad!

The Riots

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The Riots – Time For Truth LP

I don’t wish to sound too ignorant about world mod affairs, but I was genuinely surprised to learn the Riots are from Moscow. Listening to this LP, you would hard pushed to realise they are from Russia, because the sound, the songs and production is totally British mod/new wave inspired. Yes, the influence is derived from the usual suspects; Weller, Jam, Brit Pop, Marriott, Townshend etc, but I would guess this shows the power of the internet. It does have the ability to take mod culture to the most unlikeliest of places, but that can only be a good thing. It then inspires others to put their own interpretations on it and if this is the kind of top quality that comes as a result, then I’m all for it. From the outset with ‘Time For Truth’, you get a good sense of what is to come. This opener has that kind of ‘anthemic’ quality we see quite often here in the UK. Then you find the slightly Zombies influenced ‘Hate To See You Go’ followed by ‘One Step’ which has shades of early Elvis Costello. On this album of surprises, ‘Brixton’ gives us a glimpse of the Moscovite version of two-tone. This is a very good album and I’m looking forward to seeing them live when they tour in the UK for selected dates very soon.

Barron Four

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Barron Four – Yes I Do b/w Girl

In August 2012, the sad news came of the passing of Chris Langeland. The 22 year-old was one of the key figures in the band Thee Vicars, who had risen rapidly through the ranks of the pub circuit and looked to have a great future ahead of them. With Chris gone, Thee Vicars broke up, but the surviving members reformed earlier this year to become Baron Four. So what we have is a psych-fuelled dancer in the form of ‘Yes I Do’ which also has touches of pure 60s US garage about it. While the flip, ‘Girl’ is slower and is reminiscent of the kind of rhythm The Animals might have come up with. Twangy guitars are definitely the ‘in’ sound this year and Baron Four are no exception in using that sound, but that’s not a bad thing. Let’s hope the follow up material will be as good as this.


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Graham Lentz

AKA ‘The Baron’ - Like many of his generation, The Jam started Graham's love affair with all things mod back in 1977. He is the author of 'The Influential Factor - A History Of Mod' which was originally published in 2002. An extract from the book was re-printed in Paolo Hewitt's 'The Sharper Word - revised edition' in 2011. Being a self-confessed 'broad-church' mod, Graham's interests range from Modern Jazz to today's up-coming new bands and everything in between. Although he has a passion for mod history, he also has a passion for the new. Whether it's music, clubs, media of every kind, clothing, scooters or art and photography, Graham supports, promotes and encourages as much as he can, because that's how we keep going. 'Give it a chance' is his motto. If it's not for you, that's cool, at least you tried it.

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook

September 20, 2013 By : Category : Bands Front Page Music Reviews Tags:, , , , ,
1 Comments

Record Reviews – Sep 2013 (Part 2)

This entry is part 9 of 18 in the series Record Reviews

French Boutik

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French Boutik – Ici Paris EP

Regular readers of the reviews section here at NUTSMAG will know we are big fans of French Boutik and championed their last EP ‘Les Chats de Gouttière’ which was one of the best releases of 2012 and now the franco-american combo have done it again with ‘Ici Paris’. Four tracks on a double 7” vinyl format and download sees our favourite Parisian modernistas continuing where they left off with their wonderful blend of anglo/french mod pop which really is a tonic in theses days of sterile, processed nonsense that dominates the mainstream music business. This is fresh, exciting, uplifting and fun. The influences are too numerous to mention, but it is not difficult to spot them. The title track ‘Ici Paris’ is a delightfully mellow and soul-infused tune telling the tale of the perils of private rented accommodation in the city. ‘Facile’ is an organ-led ‘ye ye’ styled dancer protesting the state of corporate greed. ‘Pousse Au Crime’ has a slightly darker, sinister feel to it, recounting the sarcastic thoughts of an aging dandy bemoaning the bad taste surrounding him. (Heck, they could have been writing about me !) Finally ‘Kinki Allumette’ is a quirky joyous tune that can only come from French origins. I can’t think of any other nation that can produce this kind of musical fun. While Serge takes the English vocals for this track, Gabriella has the duties for the others and what a fine job she does too. I am so looking forward to seeing them when they play a few selected dates during September to promote this EP. See them if you can, you will not regret it.

King Zoot

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King Zoot – Staring At The Sky EP

King Zoot may be a new name to many of you unless you happen to pop into the Fiddler’s Elbow in Camden from time to time, then you may have seen this Surrey-based outfit in action. They have been together a couple of years and were formerly known as ‘Jump The Gun’. Under that moniker, they made some good records, but with a new name and this new ep, they have definitely progressed. Regular readers will know that I am one for examining influences and King Zoot definitely come with a Brit Pop flavour. Opening track ‘Flying’ has touches of Oasis about it. There’s a certain anthemic quality about it and it’s very enjoyable. ‘Seventeen Again’ is a foot-tapping mid-pacer. The kind of thing you might expect from Dodgy perhaps. What I like about it, and this goes for all four tracks on the ep, the lyrics have been well thought out. ‘Better Days’ picks up the pace a bit. It reminds of ‘Happy Hour’ by the Housemartins. It has that feel to it and again the lyrics really hit home as it tells the story of someone hoping for a change from their life of poverty and surroundings. Finally ‘Waiting For Yesterday’ has a Richard Ashcroft flavour to it. It’s another wonderful example of just how far King Zoot has come in such a short space of time. Do keep a look out for this band if you have a liking for Brit Pop mod. I think you may be pleasantly surprised. They’re pretty good live too.

Irma Thomas

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Irma Thomas – In Between Tears LP

It has been said that Jerry Williams Jr (aka Swamp Dogg) could get the very best out of any female vocalist he produced. Quite why that is so may remain a mystery forever, but on this evidence, it’s easy to see why such a claim is made. Most of you will know something of Irma Thomas’s career or at least you will know the name. She is another in a long line of artists who really should have had greater chart success and recognition. This LP is a reissue on Alive Naturalsound Records and was originally released in 1973. ‘In Between Tears’ is not what you might expect, given the original year. This is a slice of classic ‘Southern Soul’. There’s no sign of early disco or deep funk as was the case back then on many an album by a black performer. This is Irma Thomas doing what she always did best, giving it everything on every song. The title track itself is worth the price, but the goods just keep coming on this disc. It helps that the songs are perfect for a stellar interpreter of love, anguish, trouble and strife as Ms Thomas clearly is. For example, ‘She’ll Never Be Your Wife’ or ‘What’s So Wrong With You Loving Me’ are stand out tracks, but the most extraordinary vocal performance comes toward the end of a medley entitled ‘Wish Someone Would Care’. I can’t find the words to explain the emotion and vocal technique of Irma Thomas, but it is quite astounding and you can tell that she was ‘in the zone’ for this one. So if you like your soul Southern fried, this is a good place to start.

Young Sinclairs

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Young Sinclairs – Engineer Man b/w Problems

Hailing from Roanoke, Virginia USA, Young Sinclairs emerged from the Magic Twig Community, an aggregation of like-minded musicians working in their area who operate their own recording studio, The Mystic Fortress, where members of Young Sinclairs have produced and engineered all their own recordings. The group began working together in 2005; Sam Lunsford sings lead and writes the majority of their material, accompanied by multi-instrumentalists Daniel Cundiff, Sean Michael Poff, John Thompson, and Jonathan Woods. This is the fourth single of the band’s career and what a great single it is. Young Sinclairs wear their influence on their sleeve. It has all the hallmarks of Byrds, Who and Beach Boys rolled into a very neat and tidy package. Both tracks are precision vocals, steady beat, intricate musicianship and perfect for psych lovers everywhere. I like both tracks immensely, but of the two, I’d have to go for ‘Problems’ as my fav. It has slightly more of a British influence about it. I could hear the La’s in there as well as the more mellow side of The Who. That’s not to say ‘Engineer Man’ is not a good song. It most certainly is, and I highly recommend it.

The Universal

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The Universal – The Outsiders LP

For anyone who hasn’t come across this four-piece from Liverpool, The Universal has been generating quite a following on the mod / scootering circuits in recent years. Led by Terry Shaughnessy on guitar and lead vocals, the line up comprises of Piet Koehorst, Dave Ormsby and Gary Chambers. ‘The Outsiders’ is their latest LP and it’s not hard to see where the inspiration for it came from. This is quite possibly the best LP Paul Weller never made. The 11 tracks are teeming with mod rock reference points. Social commentary, catchy guitar riffs, driving beats. It’s a wonderfully constructed, well written, superbly produced slice of the best of British indie. I can see less generous critics gnashing their teeth and dismissing this as a ‘Weller’ rip off, but that would be lazy, unfair and wide of the mark. Mr Shaughnessy does have a vocal style that fluctuates between Weller and Damon Albarn. The tunes are pure Brit Pop classics in the making. First up is ‘If You Want It’. An uplifting call to anyone who needs some motivation to make a change in their life. ‘Choke’ takes us to the Blur-influenced side of The Universal. It has a great melody and a chorus that demands a singalong. I can see this being very popular in a live setting. ‘Let it Reign’ slows the pace down, but still packs a punch. When a song starts with the line “It’s better than a kick in the balls” you have to sit up and listen. ‘The Worshippers’ takes a thinly disguised swipe at those who govern the UK and those who support them. ‘Is This England’ is a rail against the mediocrity and banality of the mainstream and the people who sheepishly follow the crowd. So, by now you’re getting the idea of the concept of this LP. It’s not for the faint hearted when it comes to lyrics. ‘Every Man For Himself’, ‘Hanging In Space’, ‘Superman’ and ‘Don’t Be Fooled’ continue the theme and each one is an absolute gem.

The penultimate track is by far my favourite. It is homage to The Jam. The reference points throughout are blatantly obvious to an old Jam fan such as myself. If you know your Jam catalogue inside out (as I like to think I do) you can break it down. The basis of the song is pure ‘Set The House Ablaze’, the guitar riff is a not-quite ‘Eton Rifles’, and the big finish gives us a nod to ‘This Is The Modern World’ and the typically Jam-esque echoed vocal with a nice drop of feedback. In my opinion, its sheer brilliance and the type of song that will see The Universal stride off a stage with a crowd going crazy for more. The title track of the LP is last up and it’s a slow, but razor-sharp dig at the political establishment and a defiant message of intent. As I said at the top of this review, if Paul Weller had come up with this LP, he would be looking at a Number 1 in the LP charts and clutching a handful of awards by the end of it. For what it’s worth, this LP is a huge contender for NUTSMAG LP of 2013.


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Graham Lentz

AKA ‘The Baron’ - Like many of his generation, The Jam started Graham's love affair with all things mod back in 1977. He is the author of 'The Influential Factor - A History Of Mod' which was originally published in 2002. An extract from the book was re-printed in Paolo Hewitt's 'The Sharper Word - revised edition' in 2011. Being a self-confessed 'broad-church' mod, Graham's interests range from Modern Jazz to today's up-coming new bands and everything in between. Although he has a passion for mod history, he also has a passion for the new. Whether it's music, clubs, media of every kind, clothing, scooters or art and photography, Graham supports, promotes and encourages as much as he can, because that's how we keep going. 'Give it a chance' is his motto. If it's not for you, that's cool, at least you tried it.

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September 20, 2013 By : Category : Bands Front Page Music Reviews Tags:, , , , ,
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Record Reviews – Sep 2013 (Part 3)

This entry is part 10 of 18 in the series Record Reviews

Secret Affair

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Secret Affair – Soho Dreams LP

Most of you will know the name Secret Affair. They are a band who will live long in the folk-lore of mod history. Arguably the most prominent of the ‘revival’ bands of the late seventies, second only to The Jam for most mods of the time, the original line up included Seb Shelton who went on to form Fine Young Cannibals. With mod anthems such as ‘Time For Action’ and ‘My World’ making respectable showings in the charts, their appeal lasted for some time after the initial revival period had ended. Their debut LP ‘Glory Boys’ (in reference to their loyal following of the same name) was greeted with critical acclaim. Without doing a disservice to the other great bands of the time, Secret Affair certainly had a reputation for a high standard of live performance as well. While their fortunes may have fluctuated over the years, it is testament to the resilience of Ian Paige and Dave Cairns that they have not only survived, but returned to rave reviews for recent live shows.

And so to this new LP, which has very much a concept feel to it. Lyrically, Ian Paige paints some vivid pictures of West End life with astute observations tempered with a sense of dismay about the nature of humanity that resides within the streets of central London. Musically, this is (for want of a better term) a rock album that would not be out of place among the latter work of The Who for example. Vocally, Ian Paige is in fine form and Dave Cairns’ guitar work is as faultless as ever and both are ably supported by Ed Pearson, Russ Baxter and a host of quality musicians. ‘All The Rage’ and ‘Ride’ are the closest to what I would describe as the ‘Secret Affair sound’ full of stabbing brass, shuffling rhythm and Cairns’ aggressive guitar work. While the title track of the LP is a fine example of the marriage of Paige’s lyrics and delivery set against the musicianship of Dave Cairns et al. I have heard some refer to this LP as “an ‘ok’ album”, but the more I have listened to it, the more I have found myself thinking it’s probably a bit more than just ‘ok’. It is very well produced and you can tell a lot of time and effort has been put into it, and on that basis, I would rate it as a very good LP.

Button Up

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Button Up – Covers EP

Here we are with another quality release from this magnificent band from Glasgow. Following on from their terrific LP and single of Miles Kane’s ‘Inhaler’, this four track EP has Button Up’s take on songs that will be familiar to many. ‘I Got A Line On You’ is a lively brass-led dancer that is sure to please. Noel Porter’s ‘If I Could Only Be Sure’ has been covered by Paul Weller and Stone Foundation among others and it gets a very nice treatment here. The mod favourite, ‘Bert’s Apple Crumble’ by The Quik gets a faithful rendition while having the Button Up stamp firmly placed upon it. I can see this being a real crowd-pleaser at the live shows. Finally, The Untouchables late-eighties mod hit ‘I Spy For The FBI’ gets a welcome outing and a very good version it is too. The quality of musicianship and production is very high and led by Garry John Kane with fine vocals from the lovely Sara Kerr, Button Up are definitely a band to watch out for. If they haven’t been booked already, lets hope they are coming to a NUTS event soon.

Electric Stars

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Electric Stars – Between The Streets And The Stars Single

Back in January I reviewed ‘Sonic Candy Soul’, the latest LP from Electric Stars. I was very impressed with it. Thankfully, Detour Records have released this terrific single featuring two tracks from the LP and one previously unreleased track. The lead song ‘Between The Streets And The Stars’ is a classy mid-paced dancer with an infectious chorus. ‘Every Now And Then’ has a ‘country music’ structure without being blatant. Don’t worry, there’s no steel guitar ! And it’s a nice enough song. The final track, ‘Bedtime Stories’ is another example of arguably Electric Stars great strength. Lyrically, they are excellent. This haunting ballad of an incompatible love match is sparse on arrangement, but works wonderfully well. As with my favourite track from the LP (‘Isolation’) I find Electric Stars do make an impact with Jason’s vocals. He has a knack of getting just the right amount of feeling into a song without going over-the-top and that is a great skill to have.

Bronco Bullfrog

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Bronco Bullfrog – Claifoil b/w Never Been To California

It’s been almost ten years since we last saw an offering from Bronco Bullfrog. It is a shame we have had to wait this long because they were really a promising band back then. Happily, the Bronco’s (Mike Poulson, Louis Comfort-Wiggett and Andy Morten) have ‘reconciled’ as they like to put it and have produced this quality gem of a single. ‘Clarifoil’ pays tribute to the coating that covers old vinyl. Why? You may ask. The point is, the clever and humourous lyrics are wrapped around a classic sounding late 60’s psych rhythm and hook. However, ‘Never Been To California’ is my personal favourite. Again the lyrical style and humour is in evidence and I found it to be a catchier tune. What I found most impressive is the vocal ability. These guys could give the Beach Boys a run for their money. Being their first outing in nearly a decade, all I can say is welcome back Bronco Bullfrog, and please don’t leave it another ten years to release your next single!

The Faith Keepers

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The Faith Keepers – Leap Of Faith LP

For the first time in a long time, I actually had trouble deciding where to start with this LP. So here goes, if you like a slice of funk and soul then buy this LP now! I would like to remind people I don’t get paid and I don’t do favours. When I write a review, it’s my honest opinion. I’m not one to sell my soul, but my God this LP blew me away. The background to this is simple. Faith Keepers played the Saturday afternoon session at the Volks in Brighton during the August Bank Holiday and we were lucky the roof stayed on. These guys know how to put on a show! I bought a copy of Leap Of Faith as I was so impressed and I have not regretted a single penny of the purchase price. What an extraordinary work this is. The craft and musicianship is Premier League or should I say La Liga? For Faith Keepers are natives of Zarragoza, Spain. From the first few bars of the lead track, ‘You Got It’ the James Brown hard ‘on the one’ backbeat funk hits you right between the ears. Faith Keepers are seriously funky, there’s no doubt about it. All the songs are original compositions that blend any number of subtle influences into the fabric of this LP. They would certainly kick Jamiroquai’s arse in a battle of the bands. That said, maybe Jay Kay had some influence on them?

It’s not all full-on funk though. Faith Keepers show their class with slower numbers like ‘Manhattan’ and the magnificent ‘The World Can Be So Mean’ which is already one of my favourites. Of the funkier stuff, it’s hard to pick a winner, they are all so damn good. I mentioned the musicianship, but the arrangements and tightness of the band are faultless as is the other major force in this outfit. The lead singer. Borja Tellez is just the most extraordinary voice I’ve heard in a long time. He has the ability of James Brown, hints of a young Tom Jones and a stage presence of Jim Morrison. His performance alone commands attention, and it’s all genuine. This guy feels it from head to toe. Believe me, I’d know if he was faking. That’s not to do a disservice to the rest of the band. They are all in it together. As we head into the final quarter of 2013, it has been a fantastic nine months for new music and this LP joins a very short list as contender for NUTSMAG Album of the year.


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Graham Lentz

AKA ‘The Baron’ - Like many of his generation, The Jam started Graham's love affair with all things mod back in 1977. He is the author of 'The Influential Factor - A History Of Mod' which was originally published in 2002. An extract from the book was re-printed in Paolo Hewitt's 'The Sharper Word - revised edition' in 2011. Being a self-confessed 'broad-church' mod, Graham's interests range from Modern Jazz to today's up-coming new bands and everything in between. Although he has a passion for mod history, he also has a passion for the new. Whether it's music, clubs, media of every kind, clothing, scooters or art and photography, Graham supports, promotes and encourages as much as he can, because that's how we keep going. 'Give it a chance' is his motto. If it's not for you, that's cool, at least you tried it.

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September 20, 2013 By : Category : Bands Front Page Music Reviews Tags:, , , , ,
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Record Reviews – Nov 2013 (Part 3)

This entry is part 11 of 18 in the series Record Reviews

The Sha La La’s

The Sha La La’s LP
– Feelin’ Real

Having formed in 2011 and hailing from Woking, the Sha La La’s already have a loyal fan base, and I suspect that fan base will grow quite significantly off the back of this new LP on the Paisley Archive imprint of Detour Records. The big difference now is the inclusion of a Hammond organ to the line up. It has made all the difference and while the influence is there, it would be unfair to brand them as Jam copyists. There is as much Northern Soul influence as there is Paul Weller. Lead singer Darron Robinson has quite a soulful quality to his voice and delivers the ten tracks with some style. The title track ‘Feelin’ Real’ sets the tone very nicely. A danceable Motown-inspired romp that has a hint of ‘This Old Heart Of Mine’ about it. ‘Get Up On Yourself’ is as uplifting as any Northern classic. ‘Losin’ It’ is a tribute to those classic B side instrumentals the Small Faces used to do. ‘Missin’ Words’ changes gear slightly, but continues the catchy rhythms and melodies that flow thorough out the whole LP. For my money though, the outstanding track of the album is ‘Twenty Five’. It just has everything you could possibly want. A catchy sing-a-long chorus, splashes of Northern Soul, Style Council and lots of handclaps. As a stand-alone track, it ranks as one of the best of the year. I can imagine it is a very popular favourite at their gigs. This is a very listenable, danceable collection of original songs and I recommend it highly.

The Men

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The Men LP – This Way

This is the fourth LP from the Swedish outfit who have a definite Sixties influence to their sound. What we have is an album of two halves. The first five tracks are linked by inspiration from The Men’s trip to Melbourne, Australia for a music festival appearance. With tracks like ‘St Kilda Beach’ and ‘Mr BBQ’, it’s not difficult to spot the common thread. From there on in, the rest of the LP is more of what you would expect from this band. ‘All Time High’ is dripping with psych references while still maintaining a contemporary feel. ‘Heartaches and Headaches’ is reminiscent of Ocean Colour Scene. ‘Get Out’ has a really low-down and dirty rocking tempo. However, my top choice is ‘Dreams In Colour’ which rolls along at tidy pace with a hint of ‘The Jam’ influence and lead vocalist Sven Kohler at his best. Credit has to go to Amir Aly for his production work. He set out to create an ‘updated old school sound for 2013’ and I have to say, I think he achieved that aim. ‘This Way’ is contemporary, with out being too clinical and Sixties sounding without being too contrived. It’s a very tidy LP indeed. themen.se

Turner

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Turner EP – This Is Turner

Louise Turner has finally taken the plunge as a solo artist and not before time. Having built a career as an in-demand session singer with the likes of Elbow, Primal Scream’s Denise Johnson, and Electric Stars, her last engagement was fronting DC Fontana culminating in their ‘Pentagram Man’ EP earlier this year. While her visual style suggests a massive Sixties influence, and she carries it very well, her music does not reflect that decade. She is not a Dusty Springfield, Mari Wilson or Eleanor Rigby. This debut EP will put listeners in no doubt that Turner is her own woman with her own identity and a talent to write and perform songs that will reach the parts of the soul that Adele could only hope for. The opening track is a short statement in itself. A multi-tracked vocal harmony with a sitar and a dreamy quality that says ‘This Is Turner’. ‘Blue’ is an astonishingly haunting piano-led ballad made all the more atmospheric by Louise Turner’s voice. She has clarity, control and delivery that handles ballads as seamlessly as she handles the more upbeat ‘This World Without You’. ‘Loves Me Not’ sees Turner return to the piano, and here we get a love song of such anguish within the lyrics. “You give me 16 flavours of hell”, I’ll wager there are one or two of you that can relate to that. The penultimate track is Turner’s faithful, but beautifully performed version of David Bowie’s ‘Oh You Pretty Things’. This is not one of those songs that allows for too much interpretation or adaption, so I think Miss Turner has made a good judgment call on this one. Finally, ‘Time’ is a step up from ‘Blue’ in as much as it has a grander production and arrangement value. But it is still such an emotionally charged song with a sense of sad inevitability about it which has much to do with the delivery yet again. This debut serves as an excellent showcase for Louise Turner’s talents, and it is a faultless performance. I just hope she is in a more upbeat mood for the next EP because an old softy like me couldn’t take too many of these beautifully sad songs. I’ll be an emotional wreck !


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Graham Lentz

AKA ‘The Baron’ - Like many of his generation, The Jam started Graham's love affair with all things mod back in 1977. He is the author of 'The Influential Factor - A History Of Mod' which was originally published in 2002. An extract from the book was re-printed in Paolo Hewitt's 'The Sharper Word - revised edition' in 2011. Being a self-confessed 'broad-church' mod, Graham's interests range from Modern Jazz to today's up-coming new bands and everything in between. Although he has a passion for mod history, he also has a passion for the new. Whether it's music, clubs, media of every kind, clothing, scooters or art and photography, Graham supports, promotes and encourages as much as he can, because that's how we keep going. 'Give it a chance' is his motto. If it's not for you, that's cool, at least you tried it.

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November 18, 2013 By : Category : Bands Front Page Music Reviews Tags:, , , ,
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Record Reviews – Nov 2013 (Part 2)

This entry is part 12 of 18 in the series Record Reviews

Les Synapses

Les Synapses Single – Bombe Anatonmique b/w Hyperosnie, Soucis Details

There was little information about this French psych combo and this latest platter on the New Sound Records label. The lead track ‘Bombe Anatomique’ starts with a marching beat but soon morphs into a early Pink Floyd-influenced psych rocker with all the trademarks of that genre, fuzz guitar, ride cymbals and rolling bass line underpinning the whole production. Sung in French, it rolls along very nicely without really getting out of second gear. That said, it is a creditable effort. The flip side starts with ‘Hyperosnie’, which features the fuzztones and is more upbeat, but again, something seems to be missing. It’s hard to pinpoint what that ‘something’ is. ‘Soucis Details’ is a bit of a ramshackle affair. A little too messy to my ears, it seems to lack a bit of direction and focus. All things considered though, it is not the worst I have heard this year. Let’s hope Les Synapses tighten up the product on their next release. They have the potential if this single is anything to go by.

The Riots

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The Riots Single – One Seven Wonders b/w On The Run

Hot on the heels of their critically acclaimed LP ‘Time For Truth’, the Riots release this new single. Both tracks are brand new and neither are from the said LP, which makes a nice change. ‘One Seven Wonders’ is a continuation of the Jam-influenced sound and name-checks them, the Beatles, Stones, Oasis, Blur and the Clash. ‘On The Run’ is equally competent and is very much a ‘sing-a-long’ laddish three minute romp. This single is not really a progression from the LP. Both tracks sound as if they may have been cut from the final running order of the LP, such was the strength of the material on it. If anything, what we have is that difficult follow up to a highly successful LP and while this is certainly a decent enough effort, it is more a ‘holding’ release while the band are hot right now. I have no doubt that the Riots are going to be around for quite some time and I will follow their career with great interest, but the real test for them is how to go one better on the next LP. Even The Jam didn’t quite manage to pull that one off.

The Thanes

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The Thanes Single – She’s Coming Back To Me
b/w Love Is Fading Away

This Scottish garage pop combo return with a typically crafted jangly guitar led dancer – the self-penned ‘She’s Coming Back To Me’. While they have been around for some years now, the line up features original singer and guitarist Lenny Helsing, with Angus McPake, Mark Hunter and Mike Goodwin completing the band. Whilst the sound and approach has changed little, the Thanes still provide a quality of tune that can more than match their contemporaries in this field. The B side is their take on The Poets 1965 release ‘Love Is Fading Away’. It serves as a fitting tribute to the late George Gallacher, lead singer and songwriter of The Poets. Indeed, The Thanes worked with George Gallacher and Fraser Watson as The Poets between 2010 and 2012.

The Travellers

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The Travellers Single – Stay b/w Don’t Look For Me

The Traveller’s are so named because Robert is Swedish, Gemma is Italian and both have lived in the UK and France. The latter is their current location. The band has been together and recording since 2007 and this single is a welcome addition to an already impressive collection of songs that seem to get better with each release. They have a distinctly European sound and Gemma’s vocal style is a mixture of Grace Slick meets Bjork, but without the latter’s penchant for screeching like a whale from time to time. Both sides of this single are excellent. They are catchy, mid-paced mod pop and well worth the price of a download or the vinyl (if there are any copies left). On this evidence, the Traveller’s may well be ones to watch out for in 2014. lemoncakerecords.bandcamp.com


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Graham Lentz

AKA ‘The Baron’ - Like many of his generation, The Jam started Graham's love affair with all things mod back in 1977. He is the author of 'The Influential Factor - A History Of Mod' which was originally published in 2002. An extract from the book was re-printed in Paolo Hewitt's 'The Sharper Word - revised edition' in 2011. Being a self-confessed 'broad-church' mod, Graham's interests range from Modern Jazz to today's up-coming new bands and everything in between. Although he has a passion for mod history, he also has a passion for the new. Whether it's music, clubs, media of every kind, clothing, scooters or art and photography, Graham supports, promotes and encourages as much as he can, because that's how we keep going. 'Give it a chance' is his motto. If it's not for you, that's cool, at least you tried it.

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook

November 18, 2013 By : Category : Bands Front Page Music Reviews Tags:, , , , ,
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Record Reviews – Nov 2013 (Part 1)

This entry is part 13 of 18 in the series Record Reviews

Ballroom Bash

Ballroom Bash Compilations

Vol 3, Vol 4, Vol 5, Vol 6

Wow, what a collection of current bands from across the continent of Europe ! If you like your music with a punky, psych, garage, beat type vibe, this is for you. There is so much great stuff here, all I can do is highlight my personal favs, or this review would end up being a book! Let’s start with the label. These four compilations are courtesy of Soundflat Records, Koln, Germany.

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Vol 3 gets underway with four from Doctor Explosion and ‘Beautiful Delaylah’ is a Beat/R&B classic in the making. Next up, a quartet of tracks from King Salami & The Cumberland 3. ‘La Marabunta’ is a crazy, infectious psychobilly instrumental, like the Shadows on acid. The Norvins kick it with some Hammond-driven beat and a singer who sounds a tad like Caleb Followwill from Kings Of Leon (not a bad thing in my opinion). ‘Won’t You Tell Me’ is the one to watch out for. Muck and The Mires, The Stags and Peter Berry and The Shake Set all contribute four quality tracks a piece to complete the disc.

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Vol 4 features Trashmonkeys, Tuna Tacos, Fuad & The Feztones, The Branded, Las Aspiradoras and Les Kitschenette’s. ‘Wake Up’ by Trashmonkeys comes blasting out the blocks with a bass-led stomper. ‘Curtains’ by Tuna Tacos is a Hammond instrumental that evokes an early Sixties influence. Las Aspiradoras rip it with the uptempo Beat-styled ‘No Puedo Parar’ and ‘Ou’va T’elle’ from Les Kitschenette’s is as danceable as any garage classic.

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On to Vol 5, and this was slightly disappointing as the first two acts – Janey and The Ravemen followed by Wild Evel and The Trashbones didn’t quite do it for me. However, I couldn’t choose which track I preferred from Les Playboys, so I recommend all four. Ray Daytona and The Googoobombo’s ‘Love And Napalm’ reminded me of very early Joy Division with a rock-a-billy twist and twagy guitar. Moonstones four offerings were all culled from their LP ‘Fuzz, Farfisa Y Fiesta’. ‘Mienteme’ being my pick of the bunch. Finally, Kommando Beat give us the jolly ‘stop/start’ rhythm of ‘Bleib Doch Hier’.

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Vol 6 of this impressive collection is probably the best, for the simple reason that I liked more tracks from this one than I did of the others. The Omen’s are off to a rockin’ pace with ‘I Need Your Love’, Minnesota Voodoo Men ride in with ‘Lambrettabillitty’s GT200’ complete with scoot sound effects. Jackets and Boonaraaas!!! Keep the franetic pace up with ‘Get Back With You’ and ‘Just A Little Teardrop’ respectively. Then we come to the Shook Ups, whose LP I reviewed in the previous edition of Nutsmag. Here we have two unreleased sides. Their version of ‘Magic Touch’ is great and ‘Control Yourself’ is another quality song. Last, but by no means least are the Cavemen who are the second band that impressed me so much, I have to give a thumbs up to all four tracks. But if I have to pick one, I’ll go for ‘Zombie Hop’.

After all that, I have to congratulate Sound Flat Records for a really good blend of sounds from across Europe, and it proves that the scene is alive and in good health… but we knew that anyway, didn’t we?

The Black Beltones

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The Black Beltones EP – Love Trap

It never ceases to amaze me the amount of great bands around at the moment, and they are not exclusively UK based either. Thanks to the internet and social media, accessing bands from across the world has never been easier and here is a prime example. The Black Beltones are from Barcelona and part of an amazing scene developing across Spain. Following on from their fantastic gig at this year’s Euro YeYe at Gijon, comes this terrific EP. To give you an idea of what to expect, I would say this is ‘The Commitments’ estilo español. We have a few covers, a few original songs, but most of all, we have quality. The title track is influenced by that driving ‘Good Foot’ rhythm of James Brown. While the cover of Al Wilson’s ‘The Snake’ is good enough, it’s not a song you can really do much with other than be faithful to the original. However, the stand out track is ‘Soul In The Sun’. Northern Soul fans will know this by the Tommy Hunt original, co-written by Willie Mitchell who was responsible for much of Al Green’s career in the Seventies. The backing vocals from the Black Beltone’s ladies adds a nice complimentary touch and the lead vocalist has just the right amount of gravel to do it justice. All in all, a very nice LP. Sadly, I didn’t make it to Gijon this year, but I hope the Black Beltones make it over to the UK sometime as I think they will be well-worth seeing live.

Len Price 3

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Len Price 3 LP – Nobody Knows

Was it really 2005 when the Len Price 3 blasted onto the music scene with the highly acclaimed ‘Chinese Burn’? Well thankfully they are back… and how! The three-piece Medway-based band have come out with an album of real quality. While their debut was 100mph full-on assault, this new offering has qualities of depth, pace and a certain maturity. The title track is of the more familiar variety. Charging out of the blocks and telling the morbid tale of a tormented soul who shuffles off this mortal coil out of neglect, it is a brilliant opener. ‘Swing Like A Monkey’ is a subtler track which invokes the spirit of The Kinks, a band I suspect may have a great influence over the Len Price 3. ‘Lonely’ is about as close to a ballad as you’re ever going to get. More in the style of Oasis, Blur or dare I say Travis at the mellow end of their range. It is a fine catchy song. What really stands out as you progress through this LP is not just the music, but some very thoughtful and hard-hitting lyrics. Messrs Davis and Weller would be quite impressed I think, because Len Price 3 have that same ability to make observations and comments on a range of subjects, from calculating evil women (Preying Mantis) to grave robbing relatives (Vultures) and wife swapping (Wigmore Swingers). That said, their stock-in-trade is the aforementioned 100mph rocking assault and die-hard fans will not be disappointed with tracks like ‘Words Won’t Come’, ‘Billy Mason’ or ‘My Grandad Jim’. 2013 has already been a vintage year for new music and bands in my book and Len Price 3 have finished it off in style. If this does not put them back on the map in the wider indie rock world (BBC6 music take note) there is just no justice. This is a brilliant album.

The Mynd Set

The Mynd Set EP – The Mynd Set

This is one for all you psych, freakbeat fans. The Mynd Set comprise Glyn Tomlinson, Parsley The Lion, Leon Hewitt and Chris Punter. The EP contains four Hammond, fuzztone, psych originals. Lead track ‘Tick Tock’ is a catchy little number while ‘Kaleidoscope’ picks up the pace with a driving beat and a guitar lick that sticks in the brain. ‘Maharishi’ as the title might suggest, eases off somewhat and takes us on a trippy journey circa 1969 with an almost obligatory sitar along for the ride. ‘Our Time’ heads back to the quicker fuzz-led groovier sound. The bonus track is a cover of The Kinks ‘Sitting On My Sofa’ and a fine, faithful cover it is too. As far as I know, this is Mynd Set’s debut and a splendid one it is. Lets hope we see more from them in 2014. facebook.com/themyndset


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Graham Lentz

AKA ‘The Baron’ - Like many of his generation, The Jam started Graham's love affair with all things mod back in 1977. He is the author of 'The Influential Factor - A History Of Mod' which was originally published in 2002. An extract from the book was re-printed in Paolo Hewitt's 'The Sharper Word - revised edition' in 2011. Being a self-confessed 'broad-church' mod, Graham's interests range from Modern Jazz to today's up-coming new bands and everything in between. Although he has a passion for mod history, he also has a passion for the new. Whether it's music, clubs, media of every kind, clothing, scooters or art and photography, Graham supports, promotes and encourages as much as he can, because that's how we keep going. 'Give it a chance' is his motto. If it's not for you, that's cool, at least you tried it.

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November 25, 2013 By : Category : Bands Front Page Music Reviews Tags:, , , , , ,
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Record Reviews – Feb 2014 (Part 1)

This entry is part 14 of 18 in the series Record Reviews

Stone Foundation

Stone Foundation – To Find The Spirit LP

There are many shining lights in our ‘broad church’ of mod culture. There are bands who are followed and supported by mods, scooterists, skinheads and Northern Soul fans. Bands who are slowly, but surely making a name for themselves outside of the parameters of
our world.

One such is Stone Foundation. This is a band you will hear about a lot during 2014 and this new album should put them into sharp focus in the mainstream world. They are becoming a much-sought-after support act for established bands and are the house band for the Modstock British Legends night this Easter. The reason why they are in demand is evident on this LP. I would suggest that here we have THE benchmark album by which others will be judged in 2014.

It is by far the best work Stone Foundation have produced to date and that really is saying something if you know about their previous work. When you have people such as Carleen Anderson, Andy Fairweather Low, Nolan Porter, Pete Williams, Denis Bovell and Paolo Hewitt contributing, you have to take notice. This is as finer collection of carefully crafted songs as you could hope for. The production is first class, the execution, faultless.

It is a work of substance, depth, feeling and at times, dance-ability. It’s British Soul at it’s very best.

The title track ‘To Find The Spirit’ is a wonderful piece of gently rolling danceable soul laced with sumptuous brass hooks and a catchy rhythm. It sets the tone for the album as all good opening tracks should. Then we have the ‘Northern’ infused ‘Bring Back The Happiness’ which has ‘classic’ stamped all over it. That said, the Dexy’s-inspired ‘Stonger Than Us’ gives the aforementioned a very good run for it’s money.

On the ballad-side, the lengthy, but thoroughly engrossing ‘Don’t Let The Rain’ opus, along with Nolan Porter’s rendition of ‘Crazy Love,’ is dripping with passion, feeling and soul. You really couldn’t ask for more. ‘When You’re In My World’ features a truly inspired performance by Carleen Anderson.

If this album does not see Stone Foundation move up several rungs on the slippery ladder of the music business, there is no justice in the world.

“To Find The Spirit’ is officially launched on 10 March, while pre-orders are available now at:

The Mynd Set

 

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The Mynd Set – Mynd Set EP

This is one for all you psych, freakbeat fans. The Mynd Set comprise Glyn Tomlinson, Parsley The Lion, Leon Hewitt and Chris Punter.  The EP contains four Hammond, fuzztone, psych originals. Lead track ‘Tick Tock’ is a catchy little number while ‘Kaleidoscope’ picks up the pace with a driving beat and a guitar lick that sticks in the brain.

‘Maharishi’ as the title might suggest, eases off somewhat and takes us on a trippy journey circa 1969 with an almost obligatory sitar along for the ride. ‘Our Time’ heads back to the quicker fuzz-led groovier sound. The bonus track is a cover of The Kinks ‘Sitting On My Sofa’ and a fine, faithful cover it is too.

As far as I know, this is Mynd Set’s debut and a splendid one it is. Lets hope we see more from them in 2014.

Hypnotic Eye

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Hypnotic Eye – The Optical Sound Of…. LP

Following on from last years cracking single, ‘Readin’ Your Will’ b/w ‘Satisfaction’, Hypnotic Eye return in 2014 with this acid-laced, psych-laidened belter of an LP.

They certainly have an unusual sound. Listening to the opener ‘Man From The CIA’, I wondered if I had my record player at the wrong speed. I’m pleased to say, I did not, but such is the pace of the track and the delivery of the vocals by Grace Lightman, I had to check.

Hypnotic Eye are quite unique with their style for a contemporary band. I’ve not heard any other band that sounds like them, although, as we are all aware, there is something of a psych-garage scene making its presence known. I would say, that having this album mixed by Ben Baptie at Electric Ladyland Studios would always guarantee an authenticity of sound that comes through loud and clear.

To all you psych fans who are usually to be found in the Beat Room at Crossfire, if you haven’t got into Hypnotic Eye, you should do. This LP is definitely for you. Coming from a dyed-in-the-wool, self-confessed Soul and R&B fan, this album is a pleasure to listen to and I was really getting into it.

With the inclusion of ‘Marianne’ and the aforementioned ‘Satisfaction’ as the two singles from this set, ‘The Optical Sound Of Hypnotic Eye’ is the most enjoyable slice of psych I’ve heard since Jacco Gardner last year. There is not a duff track among the twelve on offer. ‘Dark Part Of My Mind’, ‘Action Woman’ and ‘San Antone’ are my favs along with the singles.

I have to confess, I’ve not yet managed to catch them live, but I aim to put that right later this year. Let’s see if any psych or garage outfit can match this one in 2014. Great album!

The Pepper Pots

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The Pepper Pots – We Must Fight LP

Regular readers of the Nutsmag reviews will know about bands from overseas. In the 18 months since I’ve been doing this job (is it really that long?) I have reviewed new releases from bands from all four corners of the globe.

There are some terrific scenes going on and thanks to the internet, we in the UK, can find out about them. Spain is one such vibrant scene and for ten years one band has consistently flown the Spanish flag for great soul music. I refer to the Pepper Pots.

‘We Must Fight’ is their fifth album and it is arguably their most accomplished to date. It may be no coincidence that Binky Griptite of The Dap Kings has been a key collaborator in the production of this latest offering from the Pepper Pots.

Across the twelve tracks from the opener ‘Good Times’ to the last ‘Fallen Angel’, this is an LP of such quality, it reflects the very high standard of music coming from bands across ‘mod culture’. Oozing class, distinction and refinement in the soul pop genre, the production is top draw and the vocals provided by Adriana Prunell and Aya Sima are simply divine.

There are hints of every kind of influence in the soul range, from Motown to Northern, funk to pure soul. The arrangements are great with the brass section doing a great job providing the hooks and stabs that complete the sound.

If the Pepper Pots return to the UK, they will be one of the ‘must see’ acts of the year. I hope they don’t stay away too long.

Spoke Records

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The Open Mind – Magic Potion b/w The Dakotas – The Spider And The Fly (7” Single)

All you psych and garage fans should be very familiar with these two tracks. The Dakotas and The Open Mind have been scene favourites for a very long time, so why have Spoke Records put out a single with both tracks when they have been fairly easy to find on compilations and other reissues?

It’s quite simply really. Spoke have managed to source alternative recordings from long lost master tapes. Those tapes were handed over to the sound engineer/producer known as Soundhog who has done a decent job with both these tracks.

‘Spider and The Fly’ and ‘Magic Potion’ both come in at over five minutes long and there is really not much else one can say about it other than they are classic tracks of their type and these are very good versions.

If you like psych, you love this single.

 


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Graham Lentz

AKA ‘The Baron’ - Like many of his generation, The Jam started Graham's love affair with all things mod back in 1977. He is the author of 'The Influential Factor - A History Of Mod' which was originally published in 2002. An extract from the book was re-printed in Paolo Hewitt's 'The Sharper Word - revised edition' in 2011. Being a self-confessed 'broad-church' mod, Graham's interests range from Modern Jazz to today's up-coming new bands and everything in between. Although he has a passion for mod history, he also has a passion for the new. Whether it's music, clubs, media of every kind, clothing, scooters or art and photography, Graham supports, promotes and encourages as much as he can, because that's how we keep going. 'Give it a chance' is his motto. If it's not for you, that's cool, at least you tried it.

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook

March 7, 2014 By : Category : Front Page Music Reviews Tags:, , , , , , , ,
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