Thursday, July 28, 2016

Everybody Up! 15 - 1234!

5. RAMONES "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker"

GO!  Yes, it is they - the dysfunctional non-family of mushroom heads, bringing their usual mix of fire, venom and sunshine.  What are they singing about?  Who cares!  Why on earth would that matter?  This is the first Ramones song I ever heard, and despite not quite being as immediately iconic as "Blitzkrieg Bop" it will always have a special place in my heart for that simple quirk of temporal fate.

I return to this track on a semi-regular basis - the last time during an almighty hangover inflicted by my team's 2014 Christmas Party, when it gave me the power to go straight out drinking again after a single yoghurt - and it is a semi-spiritual ritual for me, like returning to the primordial soup, or (and this is slightly more me, I think you'll agree) watching a repeat of a Michael Schumacher win.

On a final note, the greatest compliment I can pay them is this: when I listen to the Ramones - and I don't do as often as I should - it does not seem necessary for any other music or bands to exist.  It is a privilege to finally get to say that to a (slightly) wider audience.

6. THE RAH BAND "The Crunch"

"The Crunch", now, is it?  I remember when it was all "The Bump" around here...

The RAH Band are actually just one man: Richard Anthony Hewson (geddit?), who played all the instruments on this song but was better known as an arranger, including on some Beatles songs such as "The Long And Winding Road", for which he's probably much better known. 

There's apparently no synths on this, which is quite impressive given the range of sounds we have here.  Let's see what else they/he did...  Holy shit, did he do "Clouds Across The Moon" too?  I loved that one when I was knee high to a grasshopper.

(Goes off to listen to that instead)


Wow, where to start here?  So there was a television programme called "Rock Follies" - then "Rock Follies of '77", though I can never remember when they changed the name, ha ha - which followed a rock band called The Little Ladies, one of whom was played by Rula Lenska from "Resurrection of the Daleks"!...  And probably some other stuff...

Anyway, the soundtracks were written and produced by Andy Mackay of Roxy Music, lending yet more credence to its inclusion here.  They were not released under the Little Ladies moniker - mainly because they weren't real, I guess.  But the real surprise here is that this a pretty engaging tune, which definitely merits your ears' attentions.

So for all the slightly bizarre backstory, this is well worth a listen.  Funnily enough, a song written by professional song writers for performance by extremely talented session musicians is a recipe for general goodness.  Who could have seen that one coming?

8. ULTRAVOX! "ROckWrok"

Yes, that exclamation mark is factually correct.  For what we have here, well pre-"Vienna", is the John Foxx fronted version of the band that Midge Ure, who once played guitar for Thin Lizzy in a twist that I find endlessly fascinating and confusing, would later take to the dizzying heights of number two, kept from the top spot by Joe Dolce's "Shaddap You Face".

On a side note, I hate the British public.

In fact this track is entirely Ure-free, and a lot more punk than the smoother electronic output they would become synonymous with thanks to the success of "Vienna".  There's also some naughty lyrics, which somehow didn't stop it getting played on Radio One - which nearly brings me back to Rage Against The Machine for the second week on the trot, so let's move on before someone waves a disapproving finger at me.

9. ACE FREHLEY "New York Groove"

Remember when I told you we'd be hearing from Hello again, sort of?  The prophecy has come to light, and all the planets are in alignment; that must be why The Spaceman has returned to rock 'n' roll all nite, and party ev-er-y day!!!...  Or, in this case, not.

From a period of Kisstory so luridly bloated that all four members released solo albums on the same day in 1978, this track was the only hit single to come out of it, and indeed Mr Frehley's album was marginally the most successful, so at least we're at the rich end of the affair. 

I haven't looked it up - I won't look it up, I don't feel the need to - but I confidently predict Peter Criss' would have been the least successful, as he was The Catman, and was therefore too busy shedding hair of the opposite colour to the garment I am wearing directly on to the garment I am wearing to record a quality album.

It's not the best in this selection - that's the Ramones, of course, as if I have to make that any clearer at this point - but it is a perfectly serviceable, well, groove, I guess.  Very strutty.  I'll take it.

Join us next time as we take a flick through (a) Magazine, Boney an M and...  Hm.  This particular conceit was ill-conceived.  Well...  Smell ya later, anyway.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Hear All About It: Code Break "Code Break EP"

Bloody hell - a post that ISN'T about glam rock?  Well, stranger things have happened.  And here's a bunch of reprobates who deserve a cock of your ear.

Liverpool is fast getting a reputation as the UK's go-to place for grassroots punk and hardcore music (yes, I hear you London; come back when I give a damn).  With a varied range of cheap, cheerful and friendly venues such as the awesome Maguire's Pizza Bar, Sound Food and Drink - when it reopens, anyway - and The Zanzibar Club, there's plenty of places for bands to carve out an identity in streets which echo (And The Bunnymen?) with the names of luminaries gone by: Big In Japan, Deaf School, The Crucial Three, Aeris Presley...  OK, maybe not the last one...

And right now we have The Down And Outs, The No Marks, Good Grief (the band, not the statement of frustration)...  White Blacula/Zombina And The Skeletones' horror stomp is still packing them in, whilst the masked destroyers that are Spanish Announce Team break the tables and Fort Baxter, despite perhaps not being the most outwardly punk rock of the lot of them, will be a name to watch for the future - they can hang with the best of them.  Also, Awesome Frankenstein's Monster are coming.  You heard it here first.

But today we speak of CODE BREAK.  Showing a heavy influence from the harDCore scene of '79 onwards plus Black Flag, Dead Kennedys and on into grindcore, whilst staying the right side of powerviolence (see?  I know my fucking subgenres!) and sugar-coasting the chaos with a deceptively melodic edge, they have much to say about the frustrations of modern life, as well as Billy Mitchell and wrestling.  And this is the perfect time for me to bring them to your attention, as they have merch to shill.

Pictured: some merch.

The "Code Break" EP features four tracks: the breathless stomp of "Into The Sea", the storming "Moving Targets", the downright berserk, furiously boiling "On Hold" and the classic quiet/loud dynamic of "The Last Stop".  Hear it - grab it - love it.  And come up and see them some time, it's a hell of a show.

You can catch Code Break at their Bandcamp page, and grab a CD or cassette (with free download code) of this EP while you can as supplies are limited, or download their earlier EPs "Brokedown Town" and "Falling Down" (great Michael Douglas pic by the way, lads!) here, or be their bezzy mates via The Facebook here.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Everybody Up! 14 - You Know Her, With The Fish-Eating Grin


1. BLONDIE "Rip Her To Shreds"

"Fish-eating grin?  Is that really what you wanted to say?"


What does one expect from Blondie?  Being musical magpies who appropriated the best bits of every genre they came across, from punk, new wave and reggae to pop, disco, 60's girl group sounds and the nascent hip hop movement, it's pretty difficult to pigeonhole them, which is a wonderful thing to be able to say about a band.

Personally I don't think you can beat "Hanging On The Telephone", but here's a curio from their  early days, just after their first flush of success in Australia with the wrong song (don't ask; actually, no, do ask, it's a funny story).  It's a cool little tune, but my God: the lyrics.

This song consists of a single, total character assassination - in fact, character decimation would be more appropriate a term, so completely is this person carpet-bombed for their every trait, with every possible imperfection highlighted, explored, ridiculed and amplified.  I have long wondered who this was written about - A love rival?  A member of a rival band? A portmanteau of types they weren't keen on? - but I think there's little to gain for anyone by that being revealed.

A look at a more rough-and-ready, genre-appropriate Blondie here then - and absolute proof that you do NOT fuck with Debbie Harry, as she will rip you to shreds.

2. BE-BOP DELUXE "Ships In The Night"

I can honestly say this left no impression on me whatsoever.  I mean, I'm sat here listening to it now, and it's just not registering.  It's like it refuses to enter my ears, or if it does some part of my brain is refusing to process the sounds into anything tangible.

I suppose it's a little bit like...  No, I can't even do something that vague.  I was about to say it was third rate sub-Bowie, but I think that's just because I may have heard a saxophone, which reminded me of "Black Tie, White Noise".

Ah, there's like an ascending bit now!  Could be building to an exciting section...  Oh.  It's finished.

On the plus side, YouTube is now playing me "This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us" by Sparks.  That's a biiiiig tick right there.

3. THE RUNAWAYS "Cherry Bomb"

Now here is something very special indeed.  On face value and unheard you'd be forgiven for passing this one by.  After all, plenty of bands sing of teenage kicks and disenfranchisement, and some of them are even girls, shock horror!

But it is the sheer glee with which this is communicated that sets this apart from other anthems of transgression; it's infectious, it's giddy, it makes you want to disrespect authority and cut loose.  See, Zack De La Rocha?  THAT'S how you do it; po-faced rebellion is no rebellion at all, give me the thrill of unbridled, three-chord anarchy any day.

Apparently I'm not the only one with a soft spot a mile wide for this piece, as it has featured in everything from SUDA51's masterpiece of kitsch "Lollipop Chainsaw" to Marvel Comics' "Guardians Of The Galaxy", so to be fair you've probably come across it and formed an opinion already.  If you haven't, and you're looking for anything from simple punk thrills to an alternative feminist anthem, this is your good time, right here.


It was all going so well...  Another one I pre-scouted via vintage TOTP on BBC4 (are you watching?  You should be...), here are the ELO, previously known mainly to me through the Scarfo single "ELO", which actually has nothing to do with the ELO, other than being called "ELO".

Big glam points for these guys, as they used to include Roy Wood from Wizzard, though he was well departed by this stage.  This was also released before their magnum opus "Mr Blue Sky", which was released the year after and was the only good thing about "Love And Monsters" - so essentially we witness ELO between the bits where they would have interested me.

It's not really up my street, but it does show the sheer width of the vision that the band dared to conceive of.  There's nothing wrong with spreading your wings, and plenty right with reaching beyond conventional taste and style, so there's plenty for me to applaud here, even if I don't necessarily appreciate the product itself.

Phew, actually managed a proper post there!  Will wonders never cease?

Join us next time for a band that aren't a band, brothers that aren't brothers and Ultravox! that isn't Ultravox.  All this and nearly three more.  Well, two.  It's nearly three.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Everybody Up! 13 - OWWWWWW!

This instalment has been cancelled due to the loss of an entire article thanks to a slip of the fingers.  It would have included the following items:

* "Glass Of Champagne" by Sailor, a perfectly passable upbeat pop song that sounds a bit like a cut-price Roxy Music but features a really annoying pronunciation of the word "champagne";

* A quick chat about Ian Hunter's lengthy and fascinating career, including some speculation about whether much would have changed if Mott The Hoople had taken "Suffragette City" as originally offered rather than "All The Young Dudes" (the track on the disk is "Once Bitten, Twice Shy", by the way);

* A discussion of The Arrows' boring version of "I Love Rock 'n' Roll", and how Joan Jett's screaming on her version really livens up the dullest part of the song;

* A review of "Saturday Night" by Suede rather than "Saturday Night" by The Bay City Rollers, which is rubbish.

And that's disk three.  Disk four's pretty good though so amble back next week, by which time I may have regained the will to type.

Blah blah blah picture of a weasel:

Join us next time when we will be telling you why you do NOT fuck with Debbie Harry and segueing into the punk years with some belting girl power.  Seriously, it'll be way better than this post!

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Everybody Up! 12 - And Party Ev-Er-Y Day

Before I start, I have to weigh in on the great debate that has rent Britain in twain over the last few weeks. 

People, good people that I know and love, on both sides of this cataclysmic divide are engaging in increasingly acidic and bitter attacks on each other just for their simple, one-word answer to a single question, leading to a fracturing of the public psyche on an unprecedented scale.

I mean it's really lucky that there isn't something going on that the Government wants to distract everyone from *cough* Tony Blair Iraq enquiry *cough*, so there's no harm done at present, but we need to heal this rift as quickly as possible, so we can continue to practice democracy and move as a force to keep our politicians honest, and remind them exactly who they work for.

And in response to those who have clamoured to hear what side of the fence I fall on - all three of you - and at risk of further stoking the fires, I say this, and only this:

Donuts are a breakfast food. 

Period.  Now let's come back together and move on, everyone.

9. KENNY "The Bump"

Tempting as it is to make a South Park joke here, we should at least try to give this song a serious, critical review, such as is deserving of all melodic works.

So, here we go with a Bay City Rollers b-side - oh, what a great start there - by a band originally called Chufff, and yes, as far a I can tell there was a third "f", who were apparently completely different to this before they were discovered by some songwriters who gifted them four hits.  And off they went, for a bit, and then they stopped.  The circle of life, there.

I find this particular offering pretty annoying.  Patterned after the dance fad of the same name, it doesn't seem to do much but extol the virtue of doing the bump, in a really patronising "look!  All the cool kids are doing it!" kind of way.  Well, I'm no conformist, so these guys can all just fade away.

By the way, you STILL haven't thanked me for linking you to The Exciters' version of "Tell Him" two posts ago.  You're fucking welcome.  That's the last time I help you out.

10. THE RUBETTES "Sugar Baby Love"

OK, I have two possible points of entry here:

1) The song "The Rubettes" by The Auteurs, which mentions this particular song in its mighty chorus, and was the first time I heard this song or band referred to.  When the song was used in an advert not long after, I was able to put two and two together and realise what I was listening to.

This makes this the second post in a row to mention a Luke Haines song.  Hello, Luke!  "British Nuclear Bunkers" was great, a real return to good form.  Could we please have an album of actual songs next time, though?  With no overarching concept or plot?  Cheers, mate!  Much appreciated.

2) In Yoyogi Park in Tokyo, near the fashionable Harajuku district, the rockabilly gangs gather each Sunday, be-quiffed and clad in black leather, dancing round their record players and trying to out-rocker each other.

When I was privileged to witness this unique culture collision, likely inspired by the American occupation of the country post-WWII, one of the gangs played this song.  I hope they were doing so ironically as the diabetes-inducing bubblegum pop really, really didn't fit with the image.

Which would you prefer?

11. FOX "Only You Can"

Now these are a band I've been interested in since I saw them on classic Top Of The Pops on BBC4 a few years ago; in fact if memory serves, they opened the first episode that was repeated on what was then Top Of The Pops 1976, with their then-top twenty hit "S-S-Single Bed", which was quite the earworm.

(As with all these things, memory might not actually serve and I could be totally wrong.)

Based on that, and this, they probably could have done better, with an innate instinct for a tune and  the never less than coquettish Noosha Fox out front, but...  Well, a number five hit isn't something to be sniffed at I suppose.  At least it was back then, anyway.  So...  Yay? 

You be the judge.  Frankly I'm still pissed too off about that Exciters affair to spoonfeed you.

12. KISS "Rock And Roll All Nite"

Alright, now we're talking!  Here's one of a handful of acts on here that I saw on the tracklist and went, "is this really glam?  I mean the outfits, for sure, but really, musically?"  And came out of it going, "Yes.  Yes, this works.  This is glam."

Plus: it's Kiss!  The world-famous spectacle from Detroit, Michigan!  The face-painted, bleeding, fire-breathing masters of bombastic stadium rock and splitting up a bit and replacing members, because they're just characters!  And, oh the characters: the terrifying Demon!  The cosmic Starchild!  The also-cosmic Spaceman!  And The Catman, who chases little balls of silver paper around the floor!

(There are two others but no-one really cares about The Fox and Ankh Wizard...  Ankh Man Egyptian...  Wizard Something...  Dude?)

Seriously, if you can't be moved by weapons-grade rock 'n' roll like this, you are dead, man.  Dead.  Even though I probably only get to properly party down ev-er-y couple of weeks in these twilight years, this is still a mandatory part of said soundtrack when the time comes around.

And now it's time for Battlestar Galactica Forum...  Where's me Cylon helmet?

Join us next time for a glass of champay-yin, why Joan Jett screaming like a harpy is the smartest move in rock 'n' roll and a Suede single from 1996.  Oh, I should be so lucky...  Wait, that was someone else.