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LBB11 Review

LBB11 – Thursday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LBB11 – Saturday

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

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

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

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

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


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Darius Drewe

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

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May 4, 2016 By : Category : Bands Clubs DJs Events Front Page Music Reviews Tags:, , , , ,
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Jim Jones And The Righteous Mind

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Web Links:

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


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Darius Drewe

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

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook

March 2, 2016 By : Category : Bands Clubs Events Front Page Interviews Music News Tags:, , ,
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Live! – PP Arnold

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

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

The Borderline, London

Jan 31 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s hoping.


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Darius Drewe

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

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

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

GINGER BAKER’S AIR FORCE III

Borderline, London

Jan 26 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Darius Drewe

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

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

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

TRADER HORNE

Bush Hall, London

Nov 29 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Darius Drewe

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

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

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

THE ZOMBIES

Forum, Kentish Town, London

10 Nov 2015

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

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

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

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

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


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Darius Drewe

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

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

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

BRIAN AUGER’S OBLIVION EXPRESS

Jazz Cafe, Camden Town, London

Nov 2 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Darius Drewe

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

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

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

DONOVAN

Ashcroft Theatre, Croydon

8 Nov 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Darius Drewe

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

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

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

Hammersmith Apollo, 4th Sept 2015 

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Darius Drewe

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

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September 22, 2015 By : Category : Bands Front Page Music Reviews Tags:, ,
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Live! – Monty Python

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

London O2, July 3, 26 & 20 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Darius Drewe

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

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September 18, 2014 By : Category : Front Page Reviews Satire Tags:, ,
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Live! – All Night Workers

This entry is part 15 of 20 in the series Live!

Sun Aug 3, Half Moon, Putney, London

As we meander slowly into the second half of the second decade of the new millennium, we find the distinction between the ersatz and the bona fide slowly shifting out of focus until blurred beyond recognition.

Several vintage bands still touring these days feature less than three founder members (some even led by the original drummer or bassist alone), leading detractors to chide that they have become “their own tribute band”, and play to diminishing audiences whilst, up the road, operating from a much cheesier perspective, an actual tribute band to the same outfit pulls larger crowds. Elsewhere, due to the widespread apathy that still curses the British music scene, members of reformed originals acts find themselves often forced to moonlight with tribute bands in order to make more money: sometimes, that tribute band, or another, joins forces with the vocalist of an original, thus becoming the de facto “actual” band, whilst other former alumni of certain legends have collaborated with their imitators, sometimes even relocating across oceans to do so. All of which leaves we the audience, to paraphrase a Procol Harum lyric, “standing alive and well, looking and wondering why and wherefore”

In short, it’s bloody confusing. And with the passage of time, it doesn’t become any less so. The All Night Workers, therefore, are an enigma in that they have existed, in one form or another, since 1966, and have primarily played, in that time, covers, but were doing so before almost anyone else on the British soul/R’n’B circuit (seriously, we might not have even heard half the tunes now taken for granted on that scene if they hadn’t discovered and covered them first) and have EIGHT players from their classic 66-72 era currently extant (with another shortly to return from leave). That’s right, EIGHT. Not that they were all in the same lineup at the same time, mind- but at some point, during those halcyon days, they were. This, dear NUTTY boys and girls, is an untold legend worthy of investigation…

Usually, you see, in or around London, there’s more than enough weird and wonderful events of all kinds to keep one occupied- so, if asked “how do you feel like coming to see a band do a load of Motown, Stax and Chess standards”, you would generally tend to reply in the negative, citing a plenitude of other options. For this lot, though, I would always make the exception if possible – because they not only play them like nobody else, but were, in all probability, the first white British band to do so. Think back, in 1967, how many actual black American soul or R’n’B artists had most Brits seen live? Only a handful, sporadically, at the occasional ballroom, and even then, some never came over. For many a Mod, the closest they got was hearing the likes of Guy Stevens spin the 45’s, or watching the Stones, Kinks, Small Faces, Who, Yardbirds, Pretties and Downliners blare out the chunks of ‘maximum R’n’B’ on which the foundations of true British Rock would be built.

But the Workers (and frontman Clyde Barrow’s former combo, John Brown’s Bodies) circumnavigated all that- not only by crossing the pond and playing with the legends themselves, but bringing their tunes back here, performing them literally anywhere and everywhere to audiences hitherto unfamiliar with “See Saw” “Turn On Your Love Light” or “Hold On, I’m Comin”. Their only real competition came from the early incarnation of the Action, Southend’s Paramounts, and a little later, Wynder K Frog: sure, the Northern phenomenon had begun, but it was exactly that: Northern. Daaahn saahf, on the uvver ‘and, where more traditional blues ruled the roost (particularly in their hometown of Twickenham) jumpers and jivers like these provided an alternative to the more purist, chin-strokey sounds that would soon proliferate in the wake of The Beano Album, Scratching The Surface or the numerous exploits of Alexis Korner and Duster Bennett: within a year, practically every music lover worth his salt was raiding similar songbooks for inspiration, and the All Night Workers were doing literally that, nightly- supporting the likes of Hendrix, Edwin Starr and Ike & Tina Turner, backing Maxine Brown while cutting a few classic singles and acetates of their own.

During that time, half the architects of the next generation witnessed the spectacle: thus, with such a pedigree, they have every right to reform now and show us how it used to be done. And they have. But are they still any good? Thankfully, yes. Barrow, even with his leg in a calliper, is still as powerful vocally as on those 69-70 singles (recently comped on Rare Mod):  guitarists Dave Mumford and Doug Ayris (the latter a manager of several key 70s rock names and the man behind Calum Bryce, of “Lovemaker” fame- yes, THAT one) inject fuzzy stabs of riffage that drive each tune forward, and on tenor and baritone, Mel Wayne- a man who, in a parallel universe, is as deservingly renowned as Walter Parazaider or Dick Heckstall Smith- is outstanding. The young drummer, standing in for Sarge Sergeant, fluffs one or two beats and intros, but what the hell, this is an easy going, Sunday night comedown party and nothing’s going to stop us from loving it.

I could, admittedly, do without the likes of “My Girl”, “Knock On Wood” and “Sweet Soul Music” for the umpteenth time, but again, they’ve always played them, so you go with it: however, for every cheese chestnut there are at least two or three lesser-known gems from the back alleys of Soulsville to reward the patient, among them their highly singular reworking of Clarence Carter’s “Tell Daddy”, possibly the closest they ever came (thanks to a zillion subsequent dancefloors) to a hit in their own right. The four-man horn section’s other secret weapon is undoubtedly trumpeter Bob Greenwell, whose sudden flurries betray his obvious jazz leanings and, on at least three occasions, elevate what would otherwise be bog standard covers to a higher plane.

“Some Kind Of Wonderful” and “Turn On Your Lovelight” are so earthy and full of rasping horn you could easily believe you were in Chicago rather than Putney: the real treats, however, are a couple of more obscure tunes I don’t know the name of, but their very inclusion again demonstrates we’re dealing with a different class of musician (and that your soul knowledge still probably needs some working on, psych boy- Ed). Perhaps we need bands like this, at the end of the day, to rescue covers and standards from the province of the mediocre and the crap and inject them with a genuine dose of blues, soul’n’rock’n’roll inspiration, dropping in a few oddities and rarities along the way. In an ideal world, maybe, some sort of law should be passed suggesting that only they, Big Boss Man and the Stone Foundation should be allowed to cover them at all!! It wouldn’t hurt….

The All Night Workers will never win any awards for originality, but they should be commended for energy, commitment and sheer perseverance- and tonight, even in a half-full Half Moon, they not only get my vote, but also get me chomping at the bit to do an exhaustive interview, an urge I don’t have that often (and which gets fulfilled even less frequently). Keep those eyes and ears peeled, but in the meantime if they’re near you- which they often are – why not check out a slice of genuine history? And don’t just tell Daddy, tell everyone.


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Darius Drewe

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

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November 16, 2014 By : Category : Bands Front Page Music Reviews Tags:, ,
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Live! – Tony Hatch: A Life in Song

This entry is part 14 of 20 in the series Live!

London Royal Festival Hall, July 5 2014

Tony Hatch, you’ve all heard of him, right? The TV bloke. The chap who wrote the music for Crossroads, Emmerdale and something else, now, what was it? Oh yes, Neighbours. Bloody Neighbours. The cheesiest soap ever, and the song wasn’t much cop either. Used to drive me barmy. So why would anyone want to go and see that? And what’s it got to do with NUTsmag?

Think again. Yes, he did write those tunes (as well as the themes to Champions, Mr And Mrs, Hadley, Sportsnight and other shows intrinsically associated with retro-lounge culture, all of which are splendidly aired tonight) but he also wrote some of the finest pop songs of the 1960s, as well as laying down superior reworkings of popular standards (such as his sitar-drenched interpretation of Bonnie Dobson’s “Morning Dew”, for instance, hands down the best cover of said song ever recorded) Even some of his lesser known efforts reside among the tunes you twist to regularly on soul dancefloors, whilst others well, to call them simply ‘classics’ wouldn’t even begin to do them justice.

I mean, Chris Montez’ “Call Me”, Jackie Trent’s “Where Are You”, Bobby Rydell’s “Forget Him”, the Searchers’ “Sugar And Spice” Scott Walker’s “Joanna” and most of all, Petula Clark’s “Don’t Sleep In The Subway” “Colour My World” and “Downtown” : That’s what I call an output. Yes, almost every single note and lyric of all of them- as well as producing Bowie, the the Montanas, the Overlanders, Brook Brothers, Viscounts and half the other acts signed during the early Beat boom to Pye, in stereo, before anyone else in the UK (with the obvious exception of Joe Meek) had even tried. In short, this geezer is seriously important to our lives, which therefore means that to witness him discussing and performing the songs that shaped them is an honour.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of some of the musicians- and I use the term in its broadest sense- chosen to interpret those compositions tonight. I mean, seriously, Rhydian? Joe McElderry? And in the case of Sophie Evans, er, who? Surely there are people within the indie scene- Jarvis, Neil Hannon and yes, even B*b St*nl*y springing to mind- whose sonic debt to the man is obvious, and understanding of his music greater? Of all the younger guests, the lounge-tastic Rumer leans closest to “our planet”, and thus, with her do any hopes of musical salvation lie. Sadly, despite managing deftly on two other numbers, she accidentally sings the first verse of “Call Me” (for which Hatch handles all keyboard duties himself sublimely, thus highlighting the error) in a key as yet unknown to human ears (a fact she is only too well aware of), fleeing the stage immediately after the final note in a visible huff. Oops. However, among this era’s “coffee table” chanteuses, she’s still the only one thus far displaying talent or originality enough to go the distance, and, even if she does reside slightly outside our orbit, I know she’ll recover from such minor embarrassments.

As for us, I suppose we’ll just have to batten down the hatches and concentrate on the genius himself… genius which, thankfully, remains unwithered by time. Not only does he still play piano with consummate skill (when the mood strikes) but he isn’t averse to taking the mike once in a while either, even treating us to a spirited rendition of a song I’m sure many had forgotten was his own in “Messing About On A River”. “Hang about”, I hear you cry, “that’s about as Mod as Nell Gwynne’s frock”… sure, but it’s another element of a multi-faceted man who is, in essence, our own Bacharach and David rolled into one. Admittedly I shan’t dwell too much on his showtunes (not up to the standard of his best work anyway), save to say that as a vocalist, Marti Webb still knocks almost everyone else onstage tonight into a cocked hat. But the stories behind those 60s standards… spellbinding isn’t the word. Just imagine, for a moment, what it was like to not only work, but be in demand, at the turn of the decade that revolutionised British music, in doing so leaving our stamp on the entire world? To produce beat groups when they were still a new invention, and show them how to use studios when the inherent possibilities of recording technology were only just being discovered?

Here, tonight, Hatch tells all and more, and jaws drop. Therefore to some extent, the spoken sections (with former agent Michael Grade acting as questionmaster) far outweigh the performances- again, understandable given the choice of singers- but regardless, the orchestra plays a blinder, recapturing perfectly the atmosphere of both London and New York circa 1963. It’s almost enough to make your NUTsmag correspondent saunter down the Kings road in his finest whistle’n’flute looking for a suitable dollybird with whom to repair to his space age bachelor pad- were he to own one, that is. There’s also a surprise in store for those whose love of 60s culture extends to British cinema: usually, I’d run a mile at the sight and sound of Les Miserables’ John Owen Jones, but witnessing the giant Welshman attempt “Look For A Star”, originally voiced by Garry Mills in 1960’s Circus Of Horrors, is a possibly never-to-be-repeated treat.

Yet ultimately, there’s only one singer, man or woman (or at least one still talking to him, in the absence of ex-wife, co-lyricist and muse Jackie Trent) whose name is synonymous with Hatch’s music, and who can truly do his songs justice: thus it’s Petula Clark, even if only performing three numbers, that everyone has really gathered to see. From her first entrance, the sprightly 82-year-old receives a heroine’s welcome from fans of all ages: rightly so too, for, even if the current generation of reality idols have misinterpreted, her back catalogue, within this woman lurks not only the essence of every descendant from Dusty to Cilla to Dionne, but most latterday post-punk indie-retro babes from Tracey Thorn via Sarah Cracknell to Nina Persson. In short, the true antecedent of every Mod feller’s dream, and that’s before you even acknowledge her peerless quality as an interpreter of popular song.

Her appearance could also only mean, after one promising new track, two things – “Don’t Sleep In The Subway” and “Downtown” , still better descriptions than any others of the respective ups and downs of metropolitan life, written by the man who somehow conveyed them better than anyone else of his age, sung by its true female voice. The cities described may now be poor shadows of those described within, but here, in context, they suddenly seem bearable- as does our intrepid endurance of certain earlier performers- and with Hatch and Clark’s arms linked in an exultant display of musical kinship, the end seems to have justified the means. Next time, though, assuming he’s around to celebrate his 80th- could we at NUTsmag pick the lineup (not to mention drop the Settlers’ “Major To Minor” and some Montanas tunes into the set?) Trust us, we know what we’re doing…


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Darius Drewe

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

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September 18, 2014 By : Category : Front Page Music Reviews Tags:, , ,
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Live! – The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band

This entry is part 12 of 20 in the series Live!

London Borderline
May 31 2014

So, Roger’s last stand approaches. Is this, then, finally the end, after deaths, reformations and rebrandings aplenty, for this most enduring combo of the quaintly eccentric, and utterly British, Sixties?

Thankfully, it doesn’t look that way. However, MC, madcap inventor, literal puppetmaster (and, in the absence of the soon-to-be-dead-20-years Vivian Stanshall, defacto frontman) Roger Ruskin Spear is retiring: 50 years of performing this stuff under assorted mantles have finally taken their toll, and even in the context of this band’s lunatic abandon, it’s visible tonight in a number of forgotten lyrics, chaotic mistimings and fluffed introductions- so all the more power to him for going out on a high note.

However, you’d have to nail ebullient saxist Rodney Slater, anarchic percussionist Sam Spoons and the underrated, understated Liverpudlian genius that is bassist Andy Roberts firmly down, six feet under, to stop them performing, and I’m sure that by Christmas, they- alongside pianist Dave Glasson- will return in another combination boasting other luminaries from the ex-Bonzo pile, again ready to set about unwary audiences with the sublime combination of music- hall slapstick (“My Brother Makes The Noises For The Talkies” “Ali Baba’s Camel” “Hunting Tigers Out In Indi-ah”), psychedelic whimsy (“My Pink Half Of The Drainpipe” “Banned By The BBC”) and vintage doo-wopping rock’n’roll (“Monster Mash” “Old Geezer Rock” “Cool Britannia”) that are their trademarks.

A band as quintessential to our scene as this lot (both on vinyl and TV) shouldn’t ideally be playing to a half-full Borderline on a Saturday, especially not at bang on 7.40 pm, but they are: the club’s most successful indie night, some 21 years into its existence, starts at 11, meaning we have to bugger off by 10.30, and that length of time, when dealing with a band this age, means at LEAST a 20 minute interval. Pity, then, the poor psych couple in perfect Carnaby threads and Brian Jones hairdos who meander in at 9 10: I don’t think they realise how much they’ve missed. At least until I tell them…The early opening has us dashing downstairs also, and despite being round the corner since 7 10, we STILL somehow manage to contrive to miss opener “Jollity Farm” and most of its subsequent instrumental Dixieland freakout followup, arriving instead in time for “I’m Bored” Luckily with the Bonzos, boredom is never on the agenda… and they even get the harmony vocals right too.

If you’re imagining this gig in your head right now as you read, you’re probably not far off: a simple stage full of props, explosions, wigs, costumes, bad jokes and  self-invented musical instruments (leg theremin, remote controlled stun guitar) isn’t enough for this lot, they have to invade the audience’s space too, applying dangling lightbulbs on the powerful (if slightly lyrically hesitant) horn-drenched narrative epic “Big Shot” and the more straight-faced clarinet’n’uke duet “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” as well as the expected swinging aloft of  toy birds during “Mr Slater’s Parrot”. Christ, if Health and Safety walked in at this point, they’d have a field day. Perhaps, also, that’s why we love the Bonzos so much, representing as they do a time before such nonsense filled the world.

Where there’s a hole, somehow they fill it. “Tubas In The Moonlight” features no such instrument but reproduces its sound via keyboard: the Beatleisms of top tunesmith Neil Innes are obviously absent, but Spear counteracts this by adding a new verse to his rendition of Tom Lehrer’s “Periodic Table Of The Elements” to the tune of “I’m The Urban Spaceman”, complete with THAT recorder sound. The biggest gap is obviously the one left by Viv, but as they mention him every ten or so minutes, it almost seems as if he’s propping up the bar, “spending a quarter of the money he’d spent on drink on drink”.

If he were, heaven knows what he’d make of the numerous digs at their age and stature, such as “Senior Moments”, prefaced by the statement that ‘while some bands have roadies, we have carers’ or statements that they “don’t need a tribute band because they are their own” (“Tribute Band Blues”): knowing him, if he were still in the band, he’d be writing exactly the same. The king of absurdism may have left the building, but look at what he left behind. Not, of course, that he was the only genius: Spear’s crazed industrial innovations like the Stripping Robots, were, and are, every bit as important to the Bonzo experience. Likewise the terrible puns, placards, similes, devices, masks and “shiny things” that populate even the quieter segments are far more than the work of any one man.

The decision to continue to perform, as they did back in ‘66, “Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport” (‘Sam Spoons, appearing in a courtroom somewhere near you’ quips Glasson) wouldn’t win you many friends these days in the Catford pubs where they cut their teeth (and a lot more besides) but at this age/stage, the Bonzos are truly way past caring and so are we. Like Slater’s t-shirt (as opposed to Spear’s ‘Frankie Says’ slogan) proclaims, they really are ‘against everything’- meaning they also embrace it.

Yet underneath all the comedy, a rock’n’roll band still lurks, and so it’s only apt to close with the ballsier duo of “Can Blue Men Sing The Whites” and “Canyons Of Your Mind” (scary head still intact even if on back to front), wrapping up, bar the indescribable “Head Ballet”, an evening which, whilst by no means their final sojourn, was still one you really should have shown up for. The much-ballyhooed “special guests”, much like Little Sir Echo himself, never materialised- but it’s unclear how they could have improved proceedings, and even without Rog, I have faith that this most formidable of hounds, with its sweet essence of giraffe, will rise again. Without them, life ain’t worth a doodah…


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Darius Drewe

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

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July 8, 2014 By : Category : Bands Front Page Music Reviews Tags:, ,
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Live! – Kaleidoscope

This entry is part 7 of 20 in the series Live!

London Islington Assembly Hall, November 17 2013

So… can it really be 40 years? Well, yes and no. Not 40 years since Peter Daltrey set foot on a London stage, by any means but yes, four decades have passed since he last called his band Kaleidoscope (or, for that matter, Fairfield Parlour) During that time he’s continued floating around the fringes of the world’s outsider music scenes, recording with musicians young and old of a similar cosmic persuasion, and constantly lurking in the shadows like the ephemeral presence that he is, but it was always hoped that one day he would front a band worthy of the name he remains most associated with. And now, finally, it’s happening. To those of us assembled here in the ancient, sprung-floored, red carpeted environs of the Assembly Hall, it’s almost like the climax to a very long dream: but what happens when we awake?

After all, when bands reform after a long absence, it’s not uncommon for them to meet with derision, smugness and ageism: we do still live, largely, in a music scene presided over by the maxims of those whose eye teeth were cut in the snarling moshpits of ‘Punk Rock’, and thus, there remains an underlying current of ‘live fast die young, and anyone over a certain age is a sad old git’ that, whilst never explicit, is seemingly carved in stone in the minds of many. And true, certain bands (Le Fleur De Lys, Standells, Jade Warrior) whose remergences have been somewhat disappointing, haven’t helped matters. Yet somehow, we always knew that Daltrey, and his new Kaleidoscope featuring the majority of Glasgow psych-folksters Trembling Bells (also Mike Heron’s backing group, and thus perfectly chosen inasmuch as they’re young enough to play with attack but old enough to understand true Psychedelia) would pull it off. And we were right.

From the moment the band enter, mist swirling, liquid backdrops spiralling and with poetry recited, it’s obvious that this isn’t going to be just another old geezer’s comeback. The younger members, spearheaded by towering guitarist Mike Hastings, take up instruments first, then the man himself appears: slim, white-haired, bearded and clad in elegant black, Daltrey is no conventional rock frontman, he’s a wizard. He probably always was, but tonight, leaning intently into his mike from behind a lectern, his words, songs and stories are imbued with extra-magical import. Of course, we all know the lectern’s just there to read the lyrics from, but under the lights, with the spell cast, it reinforces further the idea that this is not a gig per se, but a ceremony. The high priest of quaintly English Psychedelia addressing his acolytes? Quite possibly and a cursory glance round the room does show the assembled throng to be of a shared mind.

Tonight, actually hearing ‘Snapdragon’ and ‘A Dream For Julie’ live, is a transcendental, consciousness-altering experience: these songs are very real! And there’s the bloke who wrote them, singing them! Puts paid to all those myths about Phil Smee and Ed Ball spending the 80s knocking out fake Freakbeat and Bubblegum acts in their garden sheds for release on compilations of “unearthed mindbending psych gems” sold to unsuspecting punters. Of course there were really that many bands then, the Beatles were still around, and everybody wanted to be them. But Kaleidoscope went one better they wanted to be the Beatles, Hollies, Kinks, Bee Gees and Dylan all in one go – and they managed it too! Yet they have still stamped their own personality on their work, and it’s that personality which elevates the likes of ‘Dear Nellie Goodrich’above a mere ‘Jennifer Eccles’ clone, and the bouncy ‘In My Box’(one of three tunes tonight from their early 70s tenure as Fairfield Parlour) above a zillion other twee Popsike nuggets gracing numerous comps, their delicate effervescence remaining intact but also boosted by Hastings’ scraping guitar tones and the thrumming bass of Simon Shaw. Comparatively, this also means that the songs that were weightier first time round ‘Murder Of Lewis Tollani’and the epic ‘Sky Children’ in particular, now sound huge.

Up the back, a rather subtle Lavinia Blackwall provides eerie portative keyboards, stabs of jabbing rhythm guitar and occasional waves of sonorous, operatic backing vocal but without her, ‘Song From Jon’ (the set’s one nod to 1971’s concept opus White Faced Lady) and ‘Aries’ would sound slight: this interaction, however, only proves just how much of a combined effort the new band is, with each member literally “in concert” with Daltrey. His voice, pitched somewhere between Robin Gibb, Syd Barrett and Peter Noone, was never one of rock’s louder, more bellowing tones, but commands perfect, almost rapt attention, even on the inevitable fluffed notes (trust me, everybody makes them) and betwixt songs, spins tales of hazy days, russet evenings, Sunnyside Circuses (more impassioned axe-thrashings from Hastings and Shaw) chocolate children and tangerine dreams that still continue to shape a lifestyle for many of us.

The final quarter sees an added sitarist in their midst: the only possible improvement at this point would be the addition of more original members. Enter guitarist Eddie Pumer and drummer Danny Bridgman (the latter incredibly youthful for 65 and bearing a scary resemblance to Matt Berry) take the stage, the colours of the Kaleidoscope finally become complete. A garagish ‘Faintly Blowing’, the proto-prog time changes of ‘Dive Into Yesterday’, mantra-like chantings of ‘Flight From Ashiya’ and pre-shoegaze, bongo-laden drone swirls of ‘Music’ – never was a tune more succinctly named end proceedings on a note of optimism: an optimism that’s justified because, whereas many reunions are short-lived, tentative affairs, this could be the rebirth of something long-lasting with greater potential than any of us who spent our 20s down the Mousetrap dancing to ‘Room Of Percussion’, could have ever imagined. Peter Daltrey ends the evening dispensing flowers like a true ’67 prophet should – is a true star in our constellation. The American and Mexican Kaleidoscopes, should they be aware, must be kicking themselves.


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Darius Drewe

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

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook

November 25, 2013 By : Category : Bands Front Page Music Reviews Tags:, , , , ,
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