Wednesday, August 03, 2016


Gry and Hilde
I've not long completed a mission that involved heading south east from Moss Rock City to Risør, a picturesque town “doon oan the watter”. Like Anstruther on steroids. The event was Fyrjam 2016 where Reine Laken (Clean Sheets) were playing after a 5 year hiatus. 

Given my advancing years, I didn’t want to take the chance of not being mobile the next time they might deign to play.

Protestations of not being technically proficient fell on (these) deaf ears. There was a genuine buzz when they arrived on the island - Stangholmen - where the show was taking place. These lassies have a presence and it’s a swell spot. While the means of getting to and from the island might be problematic to a landlubber like me, it’s a skoosh for the locals. And talking about locals, the way that they support this venture could be a lesson to us here in the ‘K. We ain’t united anymore (Toto).

4 gals, 7 songs (all covers)There’s no record to sell but there were some natty t-shirts. They do this for fun and to (seemingly) shred their nerves. Four lifelong friends with genuine chemistry that bonds to make an honest, joyous racket that I will forever take over utter dross like The St*ne R*ses that I genuinely believe couldn’t hold a tune with all the hard drive action in the world.

Reine Laken (alphabetically) is Gry Hartvigsen - drums, Hilde Lokander – guitar/vocals, Ingri Østerholt - bass and Line Schibstad – vocals. Hilde’s son Lars joined them for a romp through Green Day’s “Basket Case”. The Laken include two of the most beautiful souls (Gry and Hilde) that it has ever been my pleasure to become acquainted with. When I met the other two girls on Saturday then “I got it”. The fact that they're all old enough to know better makes it even cooler.

There was a story going around that this and the show at Solbakken Fuzzfestival in Arendal this coming weekend (6th) might be their last but I hope that doesn't turn out to be true because they’re absolutely playing for all the right reasons. Not giving the danger a thought at all, just thinking of the fun.

It takes a lot of bottle to do what they did. And talking about glass vessels, there was also a nifty wee pub called The Peterhead Bar involved. An after-party there led to your reporter being able to overcome a 20 year old phobia.

And he’d do it all again in a heartbeat with quality company such as this.

Stangholmen Saturday Night! - Line, Gry, Hilde and Ingri

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


I never met Sandy Pearlman but he played an extremely important part in my formative musical years.

An obsession with Blue Őyster Cult led me to discover a group by the name of The Dictators. The only reason I picked up "The Dictators Go Girl Crazy" was because it was produced by Pearlman and (Murray) Krugman. Integral cogs in the BOC machinery that were flagged up by New Musical Express scribe Max Bell. SP also produced the best Clash album “Give ‘em Enough Rope” by giving them just that to sound less parochial and maybe appeal outside of Blighty. Afficianados of said group will bleat mightily to the contrary and I guess they’re entitled to their opinion however...

Pearlman and Krugman performed a sonic alchemy that created a mutation of metal and what at the time was proper punk rock. Folks of a certain age and persuasion know exactly what I’m talking about. They were able to fuse The Yardbirds, Black Sabbath and the MC5 into something that has never really been bettered. I think I was 14 when I first heard BŐC and they’ve stayed with me throughout the journey. Like they have with many close associates.

Without Sandy and his old tag team partner there would likely have been no way that I’d have discovered Andy, HDM, Ross, Scott and Stu Boy. Without them then you lwouldn’t be being subjected to this. I’d just read a facebook post by Scott Kempner the other day that suggested the prognosis may not be so good.

Condolences to his friends and family at this time and profuse thanks to him for setting me off down this road. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

VULCHER - That's GULCHER with a V!

I'm honoured to be amongst a host of zineage stalwarts here in the debut issue of Vulcher. Not available as a PDF or any of that malarkey. This is a living, breathing slab of print complete with those good old print fumes.

This link will take you right to the place where you can score a copy (or three)Sam and Kelsey will keep you right if you have any questions about ordering. 

It's just 8 bucks with postage within the USA and maybe 15 to Europe. Anyway, please consider supporting Vulcher. That way it can continue. 

Issue Two should be out around the end of the year maybe. 
See that it does.

Monday, July 18, 2016

I Remember... RIP Alan Vega

Alan Vega snapped by Howard Thompson on April 20th 2016
I was lucky enough to actually know Alan Vega a bit. My first encounter with Suicide had been via the 1976 Max’s compilation. When the album came out, it polarised anyone that it came into contact with. In the mind of a daft wee fanzine editor, the duo became part of a holy NY quinity – Cramps/Dictators/New York Dolls/Ramones/ Suicide – presented alphabetically, not necessarily in order of merit.

Howard Thompson had licensed “Suicide” for release on Bronze in the UK after being alerted to their existence by Kevin Patrick who’d sent him a copy as part of their ongoing record swapping activity. I met H through Ms Miriam Linna who was working for Marty Thau at Red Star. I’d recently made contact with Miriam via Richie Teeter of The Dictators and had sent her a tape of Simple Minds that she had played for Howard. Anyway, over the years, I got to know Alan via HT and I always found him to be the consummate gentleman. The first time we met, I believe, was the third floor of a place called Danceteria in 1983 and many times over the years after that.

The best New Years Eve I ever spent EVER was at the close of 1990 in a bar close to Alan and Liz’s apartment. It involved HT, Vega and I discussing the best method of preparing a roast. How much more rock’n’roll could it get? We were the only people in there. Everybody else must have been in Times Square or wherever. It felt like the only people left in the city or even the world, aside from the bartender. There was also the time that Alan weighed in to try and save BBC Radio Scotland’s Beat Patrol. Scotland was always amenable to Suicide at the time when many other places were not. Alan was perplexed when the audience at Tiffany’s in Edinburgh attempted to dance to their “music”. I found that baffling is because audiences in that city are not renowned for dancing to anything let alone something as newfangled as these guys were.

Suicide played a show at The Buffalo bar in London a few years ago (June 2007 as a warm-up for their Grinderman opening slot?). HT, Tony Thewlis and I witnessed a sound check that was so mind-blowingly surreal as to make me wonder if it ever actually happened at all. I saw them a good number of times but this was Lynch-like in terms of electricity.

My most recent interaction with him was when Liz kindly put together his recollections of the "Cubist Blues" record for the Light In The Attic reissue. Getting her notes, one perceptive quote really hit me. “We were meditating on sound and time was suspended.” It was so perfect, so Alan. When I sent Iñigo the draft, he freaked out at how succinctly Alan had nailed it. Another thing I recall was my ex-partner being scared to meet Vega and then not being able to believe how nice a man he was “in real life”.

He was and is and forever will be an extraordinary character and inspiration that was locked on a constant trajectory to create. Seemingly unfettered compared to the rest of us. Suicide may might not have set the heather on fire at the time but once the blaze started an eternal flame was lit and those initial dreams burned forever. The world caught up. How did that happen? And then there were his solo records. Always breaking new ground, setting the bar higher and ever higher, visceral one minute, heartbreaking the next. 

An Alan/Liz/Dante project that was previewed at The Barbican is in the pipeline. Recordings that Alan completed with Ben Vaughn and Palmyra Delran will also hopefully find their way into the world over the coming months. It won’t be easy to adjust to a post-Vega world. Who the heck is even close to being as qualified to scream the truth at and for us now? 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Wednesday, June 22, 2016


Saw a couple of barbs about the individual that penned this "fan letter" on the facedog. Sounded like he was conducting himself as per usual but by way of light relief, i thought I'd dust off this chestnut. I sent a copy of NBT to NME and it was returned torn up with this threatening diatribe. I guess I hit a nerve. His true colour was evident even then in the shitslinging days. Wish I'd kept the whole package. I could have hired it out to a punk rock exhibit in the portals where it was once villified. The punk rock that is. On IPC letterheaded paper but I don't think he was speaking for the company. For an added dimension, I imagine this thin-skinned charlatan reciting it in his comedy English twang. What a gift. The boy looked at ToeKnee, shook his head and kept walking.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016