ewan macfarlane

From a young age, we’re advised not to ‘judge a book by its cover.’ By the same token, as we grow older, we must learn not to judge a musician by their back catalogue.

Case in point would be Glaswegian, Ewan MacFarlane.

As a long time member of electo rockers Apollo 440 he would strut, sing, shout and dance on stages across the world, firing up crowds numbering in their thousands.

(The studio version of this track appeared on Apollo Four Forty’s 1996 album, ‘Electro Glide In Blue.’)’

As front-man of The Grim Northern Social, Ewan was the main songwriter of the critically acclaimed but regretfully short-lived band, whose debut album in 2003 was voted one of the year’s best by Rolling Stone magazine.

For a while during 2015 / 2016, he would liaise via the internet with Filip Rasch from southern Norway, to collaborate on a series of releases under the name of Mennska.

And now ….?

Nobody can really afford to stand still in the music industry. (Well, certain artists do, but in general they’re totally pants.) Some of the most successful continually re-invent themselves as they age, David Bowie being the prime example.

So, what’s led Ewan MacFarlane from the dance culture to the softer, (possibly Del Amitri inspired?) Americana infused melodic Rock of this post’s opening video – his latest single, ‘Underneath Your Spell‘?

Its high time I stepped out and made the music I always needed to make,” he says.

The single is the second to be lifted from his forthcoming (October 29th) debut solo album, ‘Always Everlong,’ following hard on the heels of the brilliant ‘Stirrin’ In The City,’ which is posted below.

Always Everlong,‘ tells tales of tension with pledges of eternal love. It’s an expression of his hopes and fears, emboldened by a personable approach to classic rock writing as Ewan bares his soul by putting pen to paper, unafraid of the consequences.

In his own words, “It’s both about a lust and love for life and for each other. It’s about endless boundaries, about taking the good with the bad, the happy with the sad, the laughter and the tears, but not least it’s about kicking down the walls of constraint and living life exactly how you choose. Free to be what you want to be without judgement.”

To my eternal shame, despite owning four Apollo 440 singles and living in the same Dear Green Place as Ewan I never made the connection between him, them, and The Grim Northern Social. I was probably too obsessed with hardcore punk at that time.

Taking a leaf from Ewan’s book, I think now is the time to re-invent the listener in me.

Who’s to stop me loving hardcore punk and melodic rock?

EWAN MACFARLANE (Band)

Ewan MacFarlane – Guitar / Lead Vocals (& probably lots more)
Davie Rollo – Guitar / Vocals
Andy Cowan – Keyboards
Dougie Hannah – Drums
Kirsty McAfferty – Keyboards / Vocals
Andy McAfferty – Bass
Jenigo & Ellaijai (Ewan’s daughters) – Backing Vocals

a tale of two big johns.

Contributor: John Allan, Bridgetown Western Australia,
September 2021)

At the age of 17 in 1975 I had found myself a ‘proper’ job. Junior musical
instrumental salesman in one of Glasgow’s largest and iconic music stores. I soon learned that all sorts of wannabe rock gods would come in just to try out a Fender Strat or Gibson Les Paul guitar with no intention of ever buying one and usually sent these jokers on their bike.


On one particular day a young lad about my age, a little on the chubby side, approached my colleague and timidly asked to try out a guitar on display only to be knocked back. I don’t know why, call it a moment of weakness, but I found myself feeling really sorry for this awkward nerdy kid.

He became a regular customer over the next few months and years ( I never did get to know his name at the time) and eventually did buy a guitar – a reasonable copy of a Fender or Gibson from memory. Every time I saw him (we were on nodding terms now) there was a subtle change to the appearance of this one time dweeb of a kid. A piercing here, a tattoo there, a ripped pair of tight jeans perhaps until the last time I saw him. There he was in all his splendour with tartan bondage type trousers, leather jacket all studs and safety pins and a bright green spiky mohawk haircut. Wow ! I thought. What a transformation. A punk chrysalis no less.The shop closed and I moved on.

About three years later I was watching the TV show Top of the Pops and they introduced a punk band called The Exploited. I thought ‘here we go’ and was about to turn it down when I noticed my man cavorting about with a flying V – the lad from the shop!


Same scenario seven years later. Watching MTV and Goodbye Mr. McKenzie popped up and there he is again !

This very blog jogged this memory and so inspired further in depth research (well, half an hour on Google) to find out more on ‘customer come celeb’.

Our guitar hero is known affectionately as Big John Duncan, and he does age with me.

After The Exploited, he had bands Human Zoo, Crazy Maybe and Blood Uncles before joining the McKenzies.

He then went on to have a life as a guitar technician with Nirvana, Twisted Sister, Foo Fighters and Ministry.

Here he is talking about Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love.

Goodbye Mr McKenzie are making a bit of a comeback apparently so look out for them if you’re in central Scotland.

I wonder at any time over the years if Big John paused and thought “I wonder what ever happened to that spotty faced teenage music shop assistant that let me try out a guitar ? Oh, here’s your Fender Mustang Kurt.”

No. I don’t think so either !



sacripolitical

(Sacripolitical 1983 – Mark, Matt, John & Sam)

Sacripolitical were, and now are now once again, a hardcore punk band from Marin County, California. Formed in 1982, around their time of leaving High School in San Rafael. The band, whose name reflects the members’ irreverent attitude towards politics, played shows around the state right through the decade.

They first took to the stage at the Sleeping Lady Cafe in Fairfax in late 1983, as a three-piece. No amp; upturned plastic pickle barrels substituting for drums, and improvised,, shouted vocals – the stunned audience of hippies and punks didn’t quite know what to make of the young upstarts!

Vocalist, both then and now, John Marmysz, takes up the story:

Back then, there was a very small, but very enthusiastic punk scene here in Marin County, California that has been sorely under-documented and over-shadowed by the San Francisco and East Bay scenes. There was a lot of raw creativity and rebellion, a good deal of trouble, lots of fun, and some sad tragedies.

“We played shows throughout the 1980’s on the bill with bands like Frightwig, Fang, Camper Van Beethoven, and The Pukes. We were interviewed on the Maximum Rock N Roll radio program, and in 1993 we recorded an EP titled ‘Peace: Under Our Supervision’ that was released on cassette.”

During the mid-1980’s, Sacripolitcal became a fixture at Marin County punk shows, frequently playing at the Sleeping Lady Cafe, various underground warehouse shows, and at the Flashback Cafe in Mill Valley, where the founder of “Cutting Edge Productions,” Mike Kavanaugh, dubbed them the house band.

Performances at the Flashback Cafe were frequent and rowdy. It was there that Sacripolitical appeared with bands such as Tales of Terror, Special Forces, Victim’s Family, Defend the Keg, Diet Tribe, The Pukes, and many, many others.

Often, Sacripolitical would hand out special “prizes” and “treats,” sometimes consisting of band pins and stickers, sometimes consisting of spent rifle and pistol casings. The shows went late into the evenings and were regularly interrupted by the police, who sought to silence what must have appeared to them like a riot waiting to happen.

(Live at Flashback Cafe. Mill Valley 1984)
(Live at the Cabbage Patch, San Rafael, 1983)

John continues:
Sacripolitical broke up in 1993 and everyone went their different ways, but by 2019 some of us – now old guys! – resettled in and around Marin and decided to start playing shows again. This, as it turns out, was bad timing as the pandemic hit in 2020 and live music venues went into hibernation.

“The pandemic killed a lot of bands, but we assembled some recording equipment, learned how to use it, and started writing new songs.

“In 2021 we recorded a 4-song, DIY EP and pressed a 7” 45 rpm vinyl record. The EP is titled ‘Pandemic Sessions, ‘ commemorating the conditions under which it was made. We’ve also been contributing songs to a number of punk charity compilations put out by 8 Up Records.”

You can hear, and indeed buy, the result of these sessions , here on Bandcamp. I particularly enjoyed ‘Gogol’s Nose,’ with the discordant saxophone giving a bit of an old school, No Wave kind of feel.

Hopefully, over the coming months, we can all get on top of the pandemic, and gigs will once again become more commonplace. Neighbourhoods need a vibrant local music scene, and while they may now be about thirty years older, I bet Sacripolitical can still do ‘vibrant’ with the best of them!

(Live, January 2020 – pre-pandemic.)

SACRIPOLITICAL
John Marmysz – Vocals
Matt Schmidt – Guitar
Mark Wallace/Mike Hansen – Bass
Gary Benson – Drums
Charles Greer – Saxophone
Juneko Robinson/Sian Killingsworth – Backing Vocals

TITLEFORMATYEARLABELNOTES
Peace: Under Our SupervisionCassette / Single sided EP1993N/A
Shove It Up Your Ass B/W Gogol’s Nose ‎7″ single2021N/A
Pandemic SessionsDigital album2021N/A – via Bandcamp

rumkicks

Choi Se Eun (bass) and Jeong Yea Wong (guitar) are Rumkicks. They are a two piece punk band from Seoul, in the Republic of Korea, although I believe there are plans for them to be joined by a permanent drummer soon.

(Choi Se Eun)
(Jeong Yea Wong)

They formed in September 2018, and after releasing two singles in the following year, they had great plans and hopes for 2020. Didn’t we all?!
The surging pandemic put paid to that and the band were forced to remain at home instead of accepting the invitation to play at the Chonging Punk Festival in China. It had also been hoped to play a few dates around Beijing.

This year though, has seen a gradual relaxation of restrictions with life slowly beginning to return to some sort of normality and Rumkicks have once again been allowed to play gigs in their home country. They have also released two singles this year to date, ‘Don’t Touch My Head’ (above) and this, ‘I Don’t Wanna Die.’ And in true punk spirit, have also contributed songs to various charity compilations in Asia.


They are currently working hard towards embarking upon an Asian / China tour once the pandemic finally releases its grip on inter country travel. Reading between the lines, though, I think their BIG aim for 2022,, is to take that stage in Blackpool, England, at the iconic Rebellion Festival and play alongside many of their musical heroes. (I would hazard a guess that one of the bands they admire, is Cock Sparrer – do I detect a likeness to their ‘trademark’ song, ‘England Belongs To Me,’ in this recording? Don’t get me wrong – it’s no bad thing. I like it!)

**Actually, after posting this, I found a video of the band covering the song in a small venue somewhere back in 2019.**

Although I’ve been into Asian punk for a while, the bands I’ve enjoyed have been mainly from China and Japan: Another Idea and Hang On The Box, (China) and The Erections and Shonen Knife (Japan) are the ones that spring immediately to mind from my collection. Rumkicks are the first from Korea. I’m sure there’s a whole new punk out there for me to discover!

I find the music of Rumkicks a real ‘pick me up.’ It’s old-school, in yer face, punk; it’s fast and furious; it’s angry, but fun. I love the vibrancy of the music and colourful image.

When I go to a gig, I like to have a few beers jump around with a group of like-minded souls. If they do manage to the UK next summer, and they head up to Glasgow, then look out for the old punk with a puny mohawk, giving it laldy down in the mosh pit!

RUMKICKS

Choi Se Eun – Bass / Vocals
Jeong Yea Wong – Guitar / Vocals

TITLEFORMATYEAR LABELNOTES
Youth 18Digital Track2019N/A (Bandcamp)
BrutalityDigital EP2020N/A (Bandcamp)
Don’t Touch My HeadDigital Track2021N/A (Bandcamp)
I Don’t Wanna DieDigital Track2021N/A (Bandcamp)



fantasy supergroup – psych / spacerock.

The recent post about Jet being billed as Glam Rock’s first ‘supergroup’ set me thinking as what would be my ‘Fantasy Supergroup’ in various genres.

The principle is the same as with selecting a fantasy sports team – nobody is saying these are / were the very best in the world in their position, but how good they would play together as a unit. And there can be no more than one member representing an established act.

Of course, you’d have to cut some slack regards egos and some rather eccentric personality traits , but I reckon these guys would have produced some awesome noise.

JIM MORRISON (Doors) Lead Vocals
The iconic frontman had everything needed to be the focal point of this band: the looks; the mystique; the presence, and of course – the voice.

DAVE BROCK (Hawkwind) – Guitar / Vocals
I’ve gone for Dave partly because of his endurance (the only constant member of Hawkwind) and still playing today. In the following clip, taken from the band’s debut album, he’s playing 12-string acoustic guitar. He’s never been one to grab the limelight (it was murder trying to find a decent video, showing him play in the 1970s) and if you want someone with experience in the ‘space rock’ sound, then he’s yer man!

JACK CASADY (Jefferson Airplane) – Bass
Adaptable in style, Jack would moonlight with other bands of the era, including Jimi Hendrix Experience and Grateful Dead. He was inducted into the U.S. Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame … and he looks like a hippie. That’ll do it for me.

MITCH MITCHELL (Jimi Hendrix Experience) – Drums
Another Rock ‘n’Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Mitch started out more as a jazz drummers with Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames. Playing with Jimi Hendrix though would have given him plenty ‘experience’ of holding the band together during lengthy, improvised jams, which would prove invaluable in our psych unit.

VINCENT CRANE (Atomic Rooster) – Keyboards
Just a bit of personal bias here. Vincent Crane made his name with Atomic Rooster, of course, but had previously played with The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown. His distinctive playing of the Hammond organ is an abiding memory of me getting into ‘rock’ music as a kid.


There you have it – my Psych / Spacerock Fantasy Supergroup. Now – all I need is a name; one that will keep everyone happy and preserve their egos.

I know …. how about:
HAWKWIND’S ATOMIC AIRPLANE DOOR EXPERIENCE. …. or HAADE for short.

That should cover all bases!




rory gallagher – a taste for the blues.

(Contributor: Colin Jackson.)

Eleven vinyl LPs; one vinyl EP; two ‘box set’ CDs; one triple CD set; twenty-one CDs; five DVDs and four Taste CDs.

You’d be correct in assuming I like Rory Gallagher!

I recall the very first time I heard Rory’s music. I was playing Subbuteo at my pal’s house. I was Chile, that day – red shirt, blue shorts. I can’t remember what team Derek was, but it wouldn’t matter – he’d have whooped my ass anyway. I was rubbish.

Derek shared a large bedroom with his older brother who at that time was a long-haired, senior school student, about four years older than me. He’d been doing paper rounds for several years and so was ‘minted,’ as we’d say in Glasgow. And all his money it seemed, he spent on records, particularly the heavy end of the musical spectrum. Deep Purple and King Crimson I vividly remember being played. I know this because as a Slade, Sweet and John Kongos fan, (yes, John Kongos) I just couldn’t get into this new fangled ‘progressive’ music.

Anyway, as my Chilean right winger was about to take a corner, something new burst out the record player. It went on for ages, too. Wow!

“That’s ‘‘Catfish,’ my mate said. “By a band called Taste. Alan’s just bought it. Like it?”

‘Like it?’ That was me. Hook, line and sinker.

So – this is the Blues? A fourteen year old kid had just been enlightened.

The LP was ‘Taste. Live At The Isle Of Wight.’ With a little more prompting, I was told the band were no longer together, but the guitarist, Rory Gallagher, had embarked on a solo career. In fact, he’d already released three albums.

Always late to the party, me.

A few weeks later, I’d saved enough from my paper round to send away, through a ‘small ad’ in the ‘Sounds’ paper, for a copy of Rory’s latest release, ‘Live in Europe.’ (Going to watch football on a Saturday normally accounted for most of my earnings.)

As it happens, I was fifty pence short in payment for the post and packing, but the nice record store still sent me the LP. They asked I just send a postal order for the shortfall, something I never got round to doing. I read a month or so later that the company had gone bust. I felt ever so guilty.

That was late 1972 and I still have that album. It remains my favourite of all my Rory recordings, although I have to say, the ‘Check Shirt Wizard – Live in ‘77’ triple album pushes it very close.

The next stage in my Gallagher development was to see him play live and that opportunity came in March the following year, when my parents finally acceded my pleas to be allowed to go to a concert. And so shortly after the release of his fourth solo album, ‘Blueprint‘ (my second favourite) I trooped up to Glasgow with a couple of pals to the Green’s Playhouse (later to become the world famous Apollo.)

My seat was about eight rows from the front, just left of centre. Perfect. Until Rory came on stage and everyone jumped to their feet. I was a short-arse then, still am, and suddenly I was struggling to see my musical hero.

But the bouncers at Green’s and even more so when it changed to The Apollo, had a fierce reputation. There was no nonsense. If you were told to sit down, you sat down. If not, you’d only be able to hear the gig from the alleyway at the back of the theatre. (This heavy handed approach always worked … until The Clash came to town on 4th July 1978. But that’s another story!)

The concert was everything I hoped it would be. And more. The relationship Rory had with the crowd was amazing. It was like a personal friend was putting on a show. There was no posturing. No garish showmanship. Just straight-up, blues infused rock ‘n’ roll with a tiny touch of folk influence.

Rory was dressed simply, in his trade-mark check style shirt and jeans, and although he wore a denim shirt on the cover of ‘Blueprint,’I always associated him with the checks. It must be a ‘first impressions’ thing, for I don’t recall seeing him wear that again on any of the other four occasions I was lucky enough to see him.

In the early to mid-seventies, bands would generally only hit your town maybe once a year although I was fortunate in that Rory did return to Glasgow later in ’73, at the end of November. After that though, it was December only, and ’74, ’75 and 1976 were my last shows. It’s interesting to note that the most I paid for a ticket was the £2.50 in 1976.

I wonder how much you’d have to pay these days? I’m sure Rory would have done all in his power to keep prices at a sensible level, but what with ticketing agencies these days …. aargh! Don’t start me!

While my love of Rory Gallagher has been unflinching, I am not one of those fans who listens exclusively to their hero and that particular style of music.

Although I still rushed out to buy his immediate subsequent releases, ‘Photofinish,’ ‘Top Priority,’ and ‘Stage Struck,’ I was, from 1976 onward, more into the punk and second wave rockabilly scenes.

The only groups, however, that even then could come close in my overall ‘favourite band’ list were / still are, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band and The Rolling Stones. (Over forty albums of the latter in my collection.)

And of course, there is a close connection between all three bands with SAHB‘s late great Ted McKenna latterly taking over on drums for Rory, and Rory himself famously auditioning for The Stones back in 1975 when Mick Taylor left.

I must say, I’m so glad Rory decided not to hang around and wait for Mick and Keith to get back to him, and toured Japan as he had planned. I just couldn’t see Rory as anything other than a front man. Ronnie Wood is perfect for the role in appearance and style.

It doesn’t always follow that a group betters itself by absorbing ‘the best.’ Look at The Eagles. Did Joe Walsh really add to what was already one of the most popular bands in the world? Did Joe Walsh lose a bit of his identity by joining The Eagles?

‘No’ and ‘yes’ would be my two answers.

But back to Rory.

It pained me to see him on The Old Grey Whistle Test or wherever as the rather large and bloated musician he’d become by around 1990 as drink and various prescription medications, administered to deal with the rigours of life on the road, had prematurely and noticeably aged him.

In the end, 1995, he perhaps cut a sad image – the archetypal solo rock star, not necessarily fading as such, or clinging to past glories, but perhaps lonely and just sheer exhausted from all he gave.

And he gave so much. The vast majority of his fans, like me, never met him, but Rory came across on stage, and in media interviews, as a very personable and likable bloke. There were no frills. You got what you saw.

He was genius on guitar. He could literally turn his hand to make it gently weep; or laugh; or sing. He could make an audience dance – in an ugly, uncoordinated, shaking-head, rocker style, maybe, but it still counts.

Best guitarist in the world? Many of us would say so.

I guess it’s all a matter of Taste.

robert jon & the wreck

(Photo: John Hampton)
(Header photo: Brian Greenberg)

Back in the mid-Seventies, I was all over Southern Rock; Lynyrd Skynyrd (obviously!); The Outlaws; Marshall Tucker Band; Grinderswitch, and others all found a place in my record collection.

Then, along came Punk.

I always was a fickle kid, and though my love of these bands did not exactly fade, their albums would make much less frequent visits to the turntable.

In recent years though, having been forced by my wife to endure hour upon hour of American Idol, my interest in country based sounds has been reignited. And when I listen to likes of Robert Jon & The Wreck, I realise now what I’ve been missing.

‘Shine A Light On Me Brother, (released on 3rd September 2021) is the result of enforced ‘downtime’ during the Covid pandemic, and will be the band’s sixth studio album. With a couple of EPs / CD Live recordings thrown in since their inception ten years ago in Orange County, California, then by today’s standards, I guess they’d fall into the prolific bracket.

Their hard-working ethics have seen them tour coast to coast in their homeland, as well as travelling the world and playing before huge sell-out crowds when supporting likes of Joe Bonamassa, Buddy Guy, Living Colour, Walter Trout, Black Stone Cherry and the Chris Robinson Band.

It’s funny that last name came up. Bands, I’m sure, must hate it when folks like me draw similarities between them and other artists. It’s not ‘lazy journalism,’ it’s simply observation in trying to give the reader an inkling of what to expect from an artist / recording. So yeah, overall, though there are variations throughout, I can hear a bit of semblance to the Black Crows at points along the album’s ten track duration.

(New album, front cover.)

The opening, title and lead single, ‘Shine A Light On Me Brother’ can be heard at the beginning of this post. I love the incorporation of a horns section with this southern rock belter. Their blend with the guitar solo and racing piano give the song a feel of, dare I say it, The Allman Brothers mashing it up with The Blues Brothers band. (Oh, if only that were possible!)

Here’s track number two, ‘Everyday,‘ for you decide upon. A real toe-tapper with a shuffling beat, neat, zippy, guitar work and an overall. gospel feel.

‘Ain’t No Young Love Song’ opens with a stomping beat that’s maintained throughout. The piano is swapped for the hammond organ which is given some prominence and there’s the prerequisite guitar solo of course. The chorus has a real big hook and I think you’d file this one under ‘anthemic.’

The pace slows for ‘Chicago,’ which takes a more soulful turn, with the horns giving a bit of a Stax sound. The vocals are BIG, but beautifully controlled and mellow. The sax solo leads into what I think should be a few bars of hand clapping … I was off and running only to feel rather sheepish a moment or two later. (I bet when played ‘live’ the crowds will all do the raised hand-claps as the sax solo ends. You mark my words. )

‘Hurricane,‘ slows the tempo right own. I don’t normally go for slower, acoustic based songs, but I found myself totally immersed in this one. It would be quite easy to drift off (in a complimentary way) to this as the song gently rises and falls like waves on an idyllic beach. My one observation, as if it counts, coming from someone who can’t play a note on anything, is that perhaps instead of the short guitar burst, use of a pedal steel guitar could have been made? Just sayin’ … like, what do I know?

‘Desert Sun’ is another that will have the listener singing along. Medium paced, with a buzz-like guitar and piano prominent throughout, it just has a sort of lazy, warm, sultry feel to it – perhaps influenced by the title, of course.

‘Movin’ ‘ opens with a bit of a dark and threatening rumble of a riff. It’s lifted with the vocals and piano. The bass line and riff remind me of Bryan Ferry‘s version of ‘The Price of Love‘ and I kept wanting to sing the chorus to Tina Turner‘s version of ‘Proud Mary’ come the chorus – but hey! That’s no bad thing, is it?

Anna Maria‘ is a grower. Almost five minutes in length, I wondered where it was going for the first minute and a half, but it builds into a resounding and swirling track with a pretty cool break-down around midpoint that lasts a minute or so before rising to the final crescendo.

The penultimate track ‘Brother,’ sounds so sad, but absolutely captivating. It sounds like it was truly sung from the heart.

And so to the final track, ‘Radio.‘ In a complete contrast to the mood of the previous song, this one bounces through its three minute duration. It’s a really ‘busy’ track with so much going on. Each time I listen I hear something I missed the previous time. If this doesn’t have you dancing your socks off, then you must have flippers for feet.

Yeah – this is some album. Good, strong songs and musicianship throughout, it’s predominately upbeat and / or anthemic. It has a warm, Californian desert feel to it, and one I’d sure like to see performed live.

I must say, I had never heard of this Robert Jon & The Wreck before this landed on my desk. I have to say, I’ll definitely be checking out their back catalogue, now.

***(Robert Jon & The Wreck will be touring UK in late September, 2021. Dates and ticket links can be found on the NEWS PAGE.)***

(From, ‘Last Light on the Highway’ album, released in 2020. This single had an unprecedented 12-week run of radio play on Planet Rock Radio in the UK.) 
(Photo: John Hampton.)

ROBERT JON & THE WRECK

Robert Jon Burrison – Lead Vocals / Guitar
Andrew Espantman – Drums / Vocals
Steve Maggiora – Keyboards / Vocals
Harry James – Lead Guitar / Vocals
Warren Murrel – Bass / Vocals

TITLEFORMATYEARLABEL NOTES
 Fire Started CD Album2011N/AListing only albums – singles and EPs can be found here on Discogs.

Glory Bound
LP2015Spitfire Music L.A
Good Life PieLP2016Spitfire Music L.A
Robert Jon & The WreckLP2017The Music Box Los Angeles
Wreckage Vol.1 ‎CD Album2017The Music Box Los AngelesWreckage Vol. 1 is a re-packaging of two of Robert Jon & The Wreck older EP’s, “Rhythm Of The Road EP” and “The RedBull Sessions

Live From Hawaii 
CD Album2018Hampton Productions
Take Me HigherCD Album2019N/A
Last Light On The HighwayLP2020N/A
Shine A Light On Me BrotherLP2021N/A

jet

(JET’s debut single from 1975)

Perhaps it should have been entitled ‘This Band Ain’t Big Enough For Both Us.’ Just days before embarking on television promotion for the single that would bring them international attention, Sparks decided to fire their bass player, Martin Gordon.

There’s a suspicion this was caused by friction between the parties over writing opportunities, but who knows? The result was Martin getting his jotters, not long after having played on the band’s debut album ‘Kimono My House.’

The band’s manager decided the ideal replacement lay in the bass player of another band he managed, Jook. In addition, he also pilfered the services of Jook’s guitarist, effectively killing off the band.

Left twiddling his drumsticks, having survived the cull, Chris Townson contacted Martin and suggested they make something of this treacherous act wrought upon them. His friend, vocalist Andy Ellison had played with him, and Marc Bolan of course, in John’s Children. He may be interested in joining forces, he suggested.

(The other member of that band ironically, was John Hewlett … who went on to become the manager of Sparks and Jook, bulleting Martin and rendering Chris unemployed!)

A guitarist was required, and the services of David O’List were secured. David held an impressive CV, having been a founder member of The Nice. He too was at a bit of a loose end, having just been ditched and replaced by Phil Manzanera in Roxy Music. Unexpectedly he brought with him keyboard player, Peter Oxendale, who believe it or not, was also bumped from Sparks at the same time as Martin Gordon!

Jet were a five piece! From adversity and all that …

(Andy Ellison; Chris Townson; Davy O’List; Martin Gordon & Peter Oxendale.)

A management deal was struck with Mike Leander, who in turn set up a record deal with CBS, which I understand was signed ‘blind,’ by the band. Oh, the naivety of youth!

The debut album was recorded amidst an increasingly acrimonious atmosphere, intensified by by the tedium of waiting endless hours while each band member was required to record their parts individually.

Finally completed, the band’s choice of name and artwork was overruled by the label who imposed their will. The album was to be called simply ‘Jet,’ and the sleeve design foisted upon the band was seemingly so similar to that of Marvel comics’ Mr Miracle, that it resulted in the label being successfully sued.

Sometimes, you can just sense the writing being applied to the wall.

A support slot on the UK tour with the Hunter Ronson Band (Mott the Hoople’s Ian Hunter and Spiders From Mars guitarist, Mick Ronson) was secured, during which time the debut album was released to a fairly positive press. (Though ultimately it didn’t sell in the numbers hoped, it was considered by many critics as a bit of a ‘glitter-rock’ classic.)

With an album to promote, a short UK headlining tour was booked and rehearsals were seemingly endured. Even before hitting the road, relationships between band members were strained.

The tour started out in Scotland, and audiences were poor. Allied to this, manager Mike Leander, who remember also had Gary Glitter in his roster, was not shy in having his acts dress, let’s say, rather extravagantly. And I’m not talking of accessorizing with bits of glitter or tartan, either. Try full make-up with white cape and boxer boots. Or jodhpurs and riding boots – that kind of thing.

Unfortunately, despite his vast experience of gigging, (or perhaps, in fairness, because of his vast experience of gigging) Davy O’List took full advantage of green room hospitality, if you know what I mean. His playing became completely unreliable; he became completely unreliable. He was asked to leave.

Following several auditions, he was replaced by Ian McLeod, who had actually been spotted by the band shortly after forming. Soon after, the band decanted to the countryside to work on the next album.

Bad move.

Their time together degenerated into hard drinking sessions and fall outs. Their relationship with CBS had also crashed. The label were keen for the band to produce more commercial styled music – hit singles and all that. A ‘showcase’ evening for the label bosses failed to convince the ‘suits’ that Jet were producing as expected, and the band were told in no uncertain terms they ‘must do better.’

The following week, another showcase was arranged in London. But again, totally hacked off with the label anyway, Jet failed to take matters seriously.

The next day, CBS cancelled their contract!

Peter Oxendale also developed an ‘unreliable’ side and moved on around this time, going on to play with Ian Hunter and The Glitter Band, so Jet rehearsed as a four piece (Andy, Martin, Ian and Chris) at Island Records in Hammersmith. .

Four songs resulted with another ex-Sparks member, Trevor White, now recruited.

In early 1976, Sparks manager, John Hewlett (remember him?) booked the band some recording time in Island Studios and those four songs were engineered by Queen and soon to be Rolling Stones producer, Gary Lyons.

Hewlett offered his expert opinion, declaring that one song didn’t really cut it and should be dropped. The band however decided to go with ‘Dirty Pictures‘ anyway.

OK, the recordings didn’t do anything at that point for Jet and shortly after the sessions, a combination of disgust at the treatment by their ex-label and perpetually having no money, drummer Chris Townson left the band to join the masses in gainful employment as an illustrator.

Jet, the so-hyped ‘supergroup’ had burned out within two years of their 1974 formation.

But, from the ashes and all that … six months later, in early 1977 Andy, Martin and Ian re-emerged into the light of the punk and new wave era as a fresh, new, positive outfit – Radio Stars.

Quickly picked up by Chiswick Records, the expensively recorded ‘Dirty Pictures,’ together with another of the four recorded a short time earlier, ‘Sail Away,’ were released as the band’s introduction to the world.

(Not only that, but in 1992, German superstars Die Toten Hosen covered the track …. and sold 250,000 copies. Sweet! How hard must it have been for Martin Gordon not to direct a two fingered salute in the direction of the man who had removed him from Sparks eighteen years prior?)

A fresh page had been turned. A new chapter begun.

JET
Andy Ellison – Lead Vocals
Martin Gordon – Bass
Davy O’List (Ian McLeod) – Guitar
Peter Oxendale – Keyboards
Chris Townson – Drums
+
Trevor White – Guitar

TITLEFORMATYEARLABELNOTES
My River / Quandry7″ single1975CBS
Nothing To Do With Us7″ single1975CBS
JetLP1975CBS

** For more in depth information and tales of Martin Gordon and the various bands he’s played with (including The Rolling Stones, by the way!!) then check out his excellent blog / website here.)**

bad mary

Bad Mary are a four piece punk outfit, playing out of Long Island, New York. They have been together eleven years, recording since 2013, and have gigged at some of the city’s most iconic venues, The Knitting Factory and The Bowery Electric among them. They have also played on the bill at The Warped Tour, and completed a very successful mini-tour of Japan.

Their music is generally fast and bouncy, danceable punk; music to get everyone moving in those intimate, sweaty venues. They sure bring a fun vibe to their music – which for me, is just what music in general is all about.

They have released three EPs and two albums, the latest of which, ‘The Return of Space Girl,‘ debuted in 2019. It’s a punk-rock space-opera about a robot from space who has a few things she needs to teach the world. Yeah. It really is!

The album is a real belter, musically. Thirteen furiously pounding but melodic songs in thirty-three minutes – true old school punk style. Check out ‘I, Robot,’ is my recommendation.

They declare themselves as a punk band, inspired by Seventies punk luminaries such as The Ramones and Blondie, but blending their sound and fun attitude with that of second wave punk bands such as Green Day and Paramore. ( I can actually hear a similarity in Amanda’s vocal delivery to Hayley’s.)

However, I see and hear much more than that.

Bad Mary are prolific in posting videos and from what I’ve seen, they could equally head off down a more gothic route (White Rabbit – which I’m unable to post here) or even artrock avenue, (Theme From Daria.)

(I love this video / track.)

As with bands the world over, these past eighteen months have been a bit of a nightmare with no live shows, but in addition to adding to their You Tube channel, Bad Mary have been streaming short live gigs on a weekly basis during the pandemic.

I’d suggest tuning in and checking them out.

BAD MARY

Amanda Mac – Lead Vocals
David Henderson – Guitar
Mike Staub – Bass / Vocals
Bill Mac – Drums

TITLEFORMATYEARLABELNOTES
Better DaysAlbum2013Unknown
Killing Dinosaurs EP2015Unknown
We Could Have Saved The WorldEP2016Unknown
Glitter BombEP2017Unknown
The Return of Space GirlAlbum2019Unknown




the stukas

(THE STUKAS: debut single from 1977)

… and there was me thinking the internet had ALL the information we ALL want to know.

Apparently not!

In typical ’77 punk style, Wakefield’s finest appear to have given the one finger salute, and completely subverted the information highway. But here’s what I’ve got on The Stukas.

Back in the day there were only a few means of discovering new bands and music. You could read about them in likes of Sounds, NME and Melody Maker; you could borrow an LP from a pal’s big brother, or … you might hear a new band play a late evening session on the John Peel Radio Show.

The latter came with the best guarantee of quality – I can’t think I heard any bands I didn’t like being invited onto the show.

This was how I became aware of The Stukas.

To be honest, with so little information on the band readily available, and with such a limited recorded output, I had forgotten about them until I once again stumbled across their energy and vibrancy a while back.

In my rather vain attempts to find out more about the band, I’ve seen them described as part punk / part rock ‘n’roll. Some folks have left a space for The Stukas to be filed in their ‘power pop’ pigeon-hole.

To me though, they are quality ‘Pub Rock.’ And I mean that as a compliment.

In the mid to late Seventies, when Punk and New Wave had usurped Glam, and the Rockabilly revival was gathering pace, people could become a bit sniffy about the term ‘pub rock.’ Perhaps it was seen as a style that had not moved on, developed; regarded as old hat? Uninspired?

I don’t know – I loved it. Vibrant and fun, it was. And that’s how I feel music should be. It should lift you, and put a smile on your face. When you consider likes of Dr Feelgood; Eddie & the Hot Rods; The Roogalator; Kilburn & The High Roads; Brinsley Schwartz and two of my favourites Graham Parker (& The Rumour) and Ducks Deluxe all came from this background, then why would anyone try to ‘dis’ the scene?

‘Sniffy?’ In his magnificent ‘A Sharp Shock To The System‘ tome, author Vernon Joynson is not very positive in his comments about The Stukas, which is a great shame. Much as I admire his work and love his books, I couldn’t disagree more with his view. Each to their own, I suppose.


(Third and final single from THE STUKAS – 1978)

Despite VJ’s opinion, it still puzzled me as to why a band such as The Stukas (a) recorded only three singles as their total output, and (b) only the first was on the Chiswick label, who, from afar, looked to be the perfect home.

Guitarist ‘Raggy’ explains:

“The Chiswick deal was done before we had a manager. Once appointed, and with big ideas for the band, he sacked the singer and bass player. The band then morphed into Autographs – put together quickly to capitalize on a deal with RAK.

“One single (‘While I’m Still Young’) and personality differences caused the band to split. Chris Gent, saxophone & vocals, would go on to later play with Radio Stars.

(Since he mentioned it – here’s that single, with Raggy on guitar.)

The Stukas still get together about once a year with a deputy guitarist.

And just to prove they’ve still got it, here’s the band at a 2018 reunion show, performing the B-side to their second single, ‘I Like Sport.’


THE STUKAS
Paul Brown – Vocals
Raggy Lewis – Guitar
Mick Smithers – Guitar
Kevin Allen – Bass
John Mackie – Drums

TITLEFORMATYEARLABELNOTES
Klean Livin Kids / Oh Little Girl7″ single1977Chiswick Records

I Like Sport
7″ single1978Sonet
Wash Machine Boogie / Motorbike7″ single1978Sonet

Music: Punk, Rock, Psych, 60s Garage, Blues, Reggae & Ska..