Wednesday, March 08, 2017

(SUZY + LOS) QUATTROPHENIA!!!



T'was never going to be easy to follow “Hank” but “Faster And Louder” takes the snappy high road and delivers 10 nippy little numbers with that enormous Quattro sound. “Radio! Stereo!” kicks things off as they mean to go on. Punchy and anthemic is the S+LQ default setting.

BB Quattro has a total beat on the frequencies he wants to negotiate. In terms of “power pop arranging”, this kid knows his onions and is able to create a cogent, bahookie kicking racket right down the line. That’s not an easy thing to do. So much of the genre gets abused because some of its exponents rely on lazy retreads or modular appropriation. The Quattro not so, they take their influences and recycle them in an entirely ear-friendly way. The Q-kids swing like so many of their contemporaries simply do not and can not.

The Yum-tastic Morten Henriksen weighs in with a co-write on “Here We Go Again” that pits a Dictators-ish rush against a Distractions wall of pop. A pretty nifty trick. Rubinoo Tommy Dunbar conspired on the album’s celebration of Wee “Matilda” Quattro who is likely bashing out a rhythm on the drum kit she just got from the “wise men” as I tap away on here. I never held much store in “Heart of Glass” by Blondie but I love the way these kids flirt with that kinda “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” disco malarkey. Mirrorball mercilessly in synch with the hi-hat! I therefore unreservedly recommend “Faster and Louder” to the house. Your house, my house, a’body’s house! 

BB’s services to the wider preservation of the craft should not go un-noticed. If it weren't for him then many of your favourite bands would likely be extinct. Me? I have much to thank Suzy and Jon for in spiritual terms since I met them in September 2008 but if I didn’t think they’d made an absolutely great record then I’d keep my trap shut. 

As it is, I can blab my fucking brains out because they’ve come up with a total stonker.

The vinyl is available on Screaming Apple and the CD release is coming on Rock Indiana.  Head over to their bandcamp and take your pick.

Monday, February 20, 2017

BOBBY LLOYD HICKS - HE PLAYED THE DRUMS!


Some years ago (30-ish) I had the good fortune to release two albums by a band called The Skeletons. A combo that is as good or likely better than your favourite act could ever hope to be. They achieved the seemingly impossible but never became a household name because the “industry” didn’t have a clue what to do with them. The band’s drummer was a fella by the name of Bobby Lloyd Hicks and he passed away during the early hours of Sunday morning.

Yours truly on location
Photo by Bobby Lloyd Hicks
In musical terms, he was a drummer’s drummer. 
A humble, quiet gent that laid down an understated beat that was never beat. I was lucky enough to find myself in his company a number of times during these three decades and when I finally made the pilgrimage to Springfield, Mo. – the buckle on the bible belt – Lloyd showed me around. He even took me to the site where Kay took the shot that became the cover of “In The Flesh” and snapped me in front of that famous (on my planet) wall. 

I recall a particularly convivial evening over at his house. From there we went on a wee road trip up to the Chicago city limits that was quite an adventure. I remember vividly sitting outside the back of the hotel in Dekalb with him beside some railroad tracks that conjured up an image of the old (mid) west. Later that same year, I caught up with them in Malmo on a bill that boasted a Skele set then they backed Scott Kempner and Dave Alvin. Uncle Tupelo were in attendance at the Heartbreak Hotel, the name of the venue.

There was also the legendary Glesga Grand Old Opry show with Dave and The Guilty Men. I brought them from London by train which was quite the logistical nightmare but they took it in good spirits. We’d sold (lucky) 13 tickets in advance and it looked like a bath might be taken but nope, more than 200+ walked up and we paid the band and the bills. Dave sung a couple of verses of “Trans Am” (after one particularly noisy wee bugger shouted for it) with two actual Skele-alumni in the crew and well, we all had a ball. You can probably guess who the shouter was.

Lloyd would often wear an NRBQ t shirt. He did that so often that he joined the actual band for a while. Amy Rigby was thrilled to catch them at a friend’s wedding not too long ago. I guess that was his last gig before he had to give up for health reasons. The last time I met up with him was when he was in Glasgow with Steve Forbert. We traipsed around town before he had to fulfil his stint in the band. 

As you may have read in Rich Nesin’s heartbreaking remembrance, it was The Skeletons association with Forbert that provided the portal for so many of us to discover this Midwestern Wrecking Crew.  It all came full circle when Andy Shernoff had them sit in for his "Not Fade Away" EP. Listen to them swing on “Let’s Get The Band Back Together” and weep because that can never happen again in real terms.

Lloyd’s regular sign off was “Fins Up” and he wouldn’t want us to be sad. This geezer was a solid example of how success should never be measured by what you’ve got. Like the Sonny Bono song them Skeletons interpreted suggests “it’s what you are” that counts and Mr Hicks is one damn hard act to follow on that score.

My condolences to his family and friends scattered worldwide.


From that 1992 road trip, I think the place was called Shades, somewhere 
outside of Chicago, pretty sure I have a flyer someplace.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Friday, December 09, 2016

POST-APOCALYPTIC DISCO INFERNO ASSAULT ON THE SENSES!

Wandering up Sauchiehall Street last night, it seemed that the exceptionally dark night colluded with the dreich and damp. The LED street lighting did little to quell the foreboding. I just thought about a similar trek in Madrid and how it never feels like. "Go and live there then you twonk" (other expressions are available but this is a family show), I hear flashing across your mind. You know, I think I just might but that's a consideration for another day.

A friend commented on the Martin Rev show last night reckoning Rev was "a bit of a chancer". I didn’t take that as a negative because while I understood exactly what he meant, I thought the “show” worked. It’s about being able to convince those that are watching, listening is secondary. Glasgow loves Rev and the city always loved Suicide. They were accepted there very early on. 

Things ran a little late and by the time he swaggered on, we’d been assaulted by various degrees of noise via the opening “bands” and Twitch’s disc jockeying. It was nice to hear Wall Of Voodoo again.

Marty’s performance is always entertaining. The volume that he uses to punctuate the approximations of the material is sometimes verges on painful but that’s part of the experience. I don’t wear earplugs but I respect the right of others to do so. However, in this environment it’s shutting out part of the fun. If you go to see nobel prize winner Bobby D these days, you don’t get by numbers retreads of his songs. The Rev/Suicide “songbook” gets the same treatment. 

During “I Surrender”. I thought he mentioned Alan but I may have imagined it. The bittersweet aspect to all this is that I really miss his sparring partner. Not sure what the title of the second piece is. The one that sounds like a demented loop of “Let’s Dance” by Chris Montez. Or The Ramones if you prefer. 



Rinky dink REV pix by my crappy phone
A loosely recognisable groove blew out of the squall every now and again but that was almost secondary. Welcome to extreme show business, I wonder how this might work in Vegas because this is entertainment. Pure but maybe not so simple.

A disco-fied edge informed much of the material played up to where I had to leave to catch the (Love) Train. Another loop of The Trammps “Disco Inferno” threatened to engulf the fateful in a perpetual tailspin to Hades. Martin Rev will turn 69 in a little over a week. He’s still out there.

Thank fuck that he is.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

SHE TORE WE DOWN!


Amy and Eric in Glasgow.... photo by Shona Thomson

In the town name-checked in “Do You Remember That” where the pub that (nearly) everyone said she should stay away from her ‘winnebago driver’, Amy Rigby returned to kick off the series of UK shows. Glasgow’s Admiral Bar resonated to a set that drew upon an incredible canon of songs that have appeared since the advent of “Diary of a Mod Housewife”. Her debut album was only ever available on CD until now and she’s here now pushing copies of the vinyl. It’s my theory that the people who could really benefit most from hearing this gal are those who have no idea that she even exists.

Aye. I consider this lady to be family but I’m an objective sonuvabitch when push comes to shove and some of these songs have been known to move me to tears. I have many memories wrapped up in these songs and I was actually present at a couple of the ‘scenes’ logged in the aforementioned “Do You...”. Something I don't take lightly. 

But I ain’t here to sell you a pup on behalf of a pal. I genuinely believe that it’s a crime to have someone of this calibre playing the venues that you’ll find her in during this trip when way lesser individuals are playing bigger places. I don’t ask for much of this world but it’s time that people made a connection with the good and the true again. It’s always a thrill to watch someone who’s never heard Amy just totally get it. Like someone who’s maybe never seen “It’s A Wonderful Life” before, I envy that metaphorical punch in the face.

There were shout-outs to our dear-departed, Billy Miller and Stewart Cruickshank during the show. I’m pretty sure that the disintegration of “Dancing With Joey Ramone” was down to Krunch himself, making himself known to us in the ether. T'was utter magic nonetheless while a crazed “Twenty Questions” conjured up Hasil Adkins. Amy can raise quite the ruckus when she wants to while “Don’t Ever Change” is one of the most gentle hymns to these times that you’ll ever hear. I'll never forget hearing that for the first time in the studio of BBC Scotland in Aberdeen back in 2001 and it hasn't lost it's potency one iota.

Having Eric along on to add bass and guitar here and there was a treat. And there were new songs too that will be coming up in 2017 on her next album. To quote one of the songs that was performed on Thursday night, “Don’t make the fatal error that you’ll find someone better, ‘cause you won’t.”

You truly will not.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Sunday, November 20, 2016

THE WEEK BEFORE THE WORLD FELL DOWN – MADRID OCT./NOV 2016



The world fell down after I returned from Spain. 

Idiocracy turned out to have been a documentary sent from the future and folks that we could really do with still having around have passed on.


La Alegria -
for absent friends
I’ll take up this epistle where I left off. Leaving Benidorm for Madrid after another rip-roaring FUNTASTIC. It was full on Hallowe’en when we hit town, the streets were rammed. I made it to base camp and took a wee while to regroup before heading to Madklyn where them Young Fresh Fellows were DJing at this excellent Madtoon haunt. It went well. From there I introduced mi crew to the wonders of WEIRDO BAR! where Pantero Rosso was laying down a mighty selection of shouty punk rock to which Kurt and I took great pleasure in screaming along with.

Ther great crowd in there was equally up for the craic. When the lights came on there was only one destination that could follow this. Can you guess where that might have been? Wurlitzer is where. The place was jumping because November 1st was a holiday. Monday night/Tuesday morning was for all intent and purpose a full blown Saturday. The Dictators “Weekend” come to life on steroids. 


Forth and McOi
Scott (McCaughey) and I left Wurli at 5.35am. On my way to the hotel, I had pizza for breakfast. Or was it supper? No coca cola though.

It was a real honour to be asked back to El Sotano, Diego and Francisco really make it fun. November 1st - being a holiday - was relatively sedate. That lull is perhaps what brought upon the lurghi but after 5 days with about 5 hours (maybe 8 tops) sleep then perhaps I was getting what I deserved, getting further away from being a youngster with every passing day. I’m reminded of that song by Spirit, “Nature’s Way”...


The Device
Next day, the YFF van headed for Valencia. Some of us stayed put to just dig being in Madrid. The early night meant I was up bright and early to meet Ulla and Murky for breakfast. One great thing did happen though, Tad’s cymbal device was located and I was able to deliver it before the band set off. That was the last sign that I recall of thinking that there could be a god or something akin. Before the fucker started acting up and picking off good people for no apparent reason. The talisman had been returned though and that made me feel like I'd achieved something worthwhile.


Lisa and I met Mr Marco Padin, he of the Ghost Highway imprint for a slap up Italian lunch at La Tagliatella out near where he works near the Suentes train stop.  This man does great work. In the evening we did a wee tapas crawl with Murky and Eva. Some time out just to talk and sup.



Three Troublemakers
November 3rd was Ruthie’s birthday and the festivities took place over cocktails and the YFF show at El Sol. That was quite a combo to have play your birthday party young lady! They even played “Gear Summer” in which said wee lassie makes a cameo appearance! Ms Varla Rose made the Sol scene too.

So all of a sudden it’s Friday. And The Dahlmanns headed to town with first-timer Jo Espen Johansen. Lisafer wired into “sea varmints” (c) LF - with them at the food hall while I stood back and watched. What I recall of it because I was in a haze of booze and pharmacy drugs was a blast! At one point my head totally cleared when I was in Wurlitzer with Jo and Andre. Line sensibly opted to sleep by that point. That place has healing powers and just as well because my Madrid electricity was on the futz and then some.


La Fiambrera’s SHAG exhibit came to a close that Saturday. These gals have really done an amazing job getting to the level they’re at now, just a month shy of being open for 2 years. Having a bunch of my favourite people on earth join me in the greatest city on earth was a trip. Of course others were missed but next year I hope the whole gang can make it provided I make it to the 6 decade mark. And even if I don’t then the party can still go ahead.

Casa Camacho is virtually next door to my favourite pastry emporium and it is the home of the "yayo" (a tasty aperitif that consists of gin, vermú and casera). Ms Ulla and Captain Lagarto made a great choice by picking this place and if you ever get out there you need to try one or several of those. The lurghi kind of had me on the ropes but there was one more night to go with the gang and I wasn’t about to wimp out. I wasn’t firing on all cylinders but at one point in Wurlitzer, I swear that my napper totally cleared. I don’t recall what was playing or what the intake between the pharmacy drugs and booze was but I really should have been paying attention rather than just attempting to stay vertical.


So maybe it wasn’t a blaze of glory but I think we did pretty well. The upside of not being completely wasted was that it was really just a tiredness/cold combo I had to deal with on the Sunday morning. Folks were beginning to leave town and the curtain was on its way down. I left the kids in Iowa (the cafe) to make a bee line to see Pantones play a kids show at La Casa Encendida, a very nice culture centre downtown that reminded me of the CCA in Glasgow.

It was so good to finally see them play. What it had to lack in volume was more than made up for by seeing the rapport their music has with children of all aged, parents and kids alike. They seemed like good role models as they let the youngsters loose with their instruments after the set. The drone/proto-free jazz noise emanating from the stage sounded like something a WIRE reader would piddle themselves over. Meanwhile, there's a brand new album coming on Subterfuge. Sooner rather than later I hope.

Every one of the wee attendees will one day start or be in a band. I’m sure of it.
Are there such events as these here in the UK? Health and safety would likely have a field day and make it virtually impossible to stage. The Spanish people are very savvy and seem to be blessed with a crazy strain of common sense when it comes to family.

There was a children’s rock’n’roll show at Wurli that morning too with Las Señoritas Estrechas and Calvario. Stepping back in there in daytime was a little psychedelic. Menudofest is a regular occurrence where the kids get to chalk on the walls and let off some steam in this very cool environment. Even if it’s a plot to indoctrinate them for later life then it’s a win/win. They’ll associate it with a good time. It's the “baby” of Marta, a punk rock Snow White that I met in Benidorm with her friends in conjunction with Wurlitzer. The staff in this joint are real troopers in every respect of that word.

This almost brings me back to where we started. I was really starting to fade but got my second wind when I was able to see Sonia briefly and to meet her son Lux! He’s already beginning to act like his namesake. Jim and Kurt came by having gotten back from Bilbao and that – as they say – til next time - was that.

As I wandered back to get my bags and a cab to the airport, I just wanted to get on the ride again but I was about to pay the price of having such a good time. My thanks to everyone that chipped in and turned up to make my 59th year on this fucked up world a special thing. The Fellows adding "NBT" (based on The Screaming Dizbusters version)  to their set in Benidorm and Madrid and a call from MRC on were the icing on the cake. 

If I forgot something then that equates to me having an even better time than I think than I recall. How far can too far go? 

That's coming right up in 2017. I hope...

Friday, November 18, 2016

RIP - DON WALLER


I didn’t know Don Waller but he was a pivotal character in my zine upbringing. He and his merry band of maniacs put together a magazine called Back Door Man that could arguably be considered the first ever punk rock magazine. Bomp and the like seemed scholarly by comparison. BDM and Teenage Wasteland Gazette signalled an injection of attitude or swagger to the world of print.

I did have some dialogue and also correspondence with Don. I think Sid Griffin was involved but I can’t remember what it was about. In recent years I’ve suggested to anyone that would listen that a compendium of Back Door Man was long overdue. Jim Parret tells me that he was working on such a beastie with Hozac. I hope that will all come together.

Many of my friends knew Don so this must be a shock to them. In coming days, people will discover the importance of this character in the various avenues of which he served. This week has gone over the score on the condolenceometer and I’m aware that, being we’re at the age we’re at, this could well just run and run. 

But I sure hope there can be a let up. Or that people who deserve to shuffle off this mortal coil might be given priority.