THE ALBUMS OF THE YEAR THE 50 RECORDS YOU NEED TO HEAR â€“ AND THE BEST SONG ON EACH!
WISHBONE ASH THE PROFESSIONALS VON HERTZEN BROTHERS WALTER TROUT WARRIOR SOUL CATS IN SPACE & MORE
JANUARY 2018 ISSUE 244
“Playing live you see joy in people’s faces. It’s what it always was. Somehow it’s all worth it.”
Features 27 2017: The Year In Rock The best albums, the best tracks and interviews with some of the artists who made them. We look at the best records the rock world gave us, and the people we lost from it, over the past 12 months, including…
28 Albums Of The Year Whether from legends, established stars or new rockers on the block, the past 12 months have seen the release of some outstanding albums across all genres. Including…
32 Marilyn Manson His new record, life, death, and painting with piss. Ew…
36 Von Hertzen Brothers Working on their latest album prevented them from quitting.
42 Anathema Hard work, preparation and how attention to detail paid off.
50 Tony Iommi Never give up. Ghosts exist. The 90s weren’t fun. … The Black Sabbath guitarist on what his eventful life has taught him.
54 Marillion Steve Hogarth looks back over a busy and successful 2017 and forward to exploring new horizons and visiting familiar ground.
58 2017 Playlist No time to listen to the 50 best albums? Then try the less labour-intensive best 50 tracks of the year.
62 Cats In Space Looking to bring some much-needed fun back into rock’n’roll.
64 Queen Doctor Brian May on his “just out of this world” year.
67 Guns N’ Roses It was the year the reunited GN’R finally got back in the ring with British fans. Knockout?
68 Joe Elliott The Leppard frontman on how his adventure continues.
70 Those who left us Gone, but never to be forgotten.
72 Walter Trout What did the bluesman buy when we took him vinyl shopping?
76 The Professionals
Former Pistol Paul Cook’s latest line-up are back, giving it another go and “having a bit of fun”.
JANUARY 2018 ISSUE 244
Regulars 12 The Dirt
Ozzy Osbourne, GN’R and Avenged Sevenfold confirmed as Download headliners, and the Prince Of Darkness announces his farewell tour; photographer Alec Byrne’s forgotten archive resurrected for new book and exhibition… Welcome back Warrior Soul, Peter Hammill and Mabel Greer’s Toyshop… Say hello to Palaye Royale and The Texas Gentlemen, say goodbye to George Young, Phil Miller,Fats Domino…
19 Raw Power
Looking for the ultimate aural experience? Then the £8,999 oBravo earphones might be just what your lugholes need.
22 The Stories Behind The Songs The Byrds So You Want To Be A Rock’n’Roll Star is a 60s classic. And if you saw the band live in ’65 you might even be on it!
24 Q&A Bill Bailey The rock’n’roll comedian talks punk, hens, having a good work ethic and playing Light My Fire at a cremation.
New albums from Bob Seger, Peter Hammill, Galactic Cowboys, Warrior Soul, Spock’s Beard, King Crimson, Cactus, Evanescence… Reissues from Rolling Stones, Ramones, Eagles, INXS, Gary Moore, The Doors, Moody Blues, Deep Purple, Green Day… DVDs, films and books on Kiss, Lou Reed, Nikki Sixx, Dave Hill… Live reviews of Metallica, Steely Dan, Wishbone Ash, Doobie Brothers, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club…
85 Live Previews
Must-see gigs from Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy, Max & Iggor Cavalera, Uli Jon Roth, Electric Boys and Threshold. Plus full gig listings – find out who’s playing where and when.
130 Heavy Load Beth Hart
The singer talks about her troubled childhood, insecurity, singing with Jeff Beck, death and the “miracle” of life.
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ell, we made it. It’s December 2017 and we’ve rock’n’rolled through another 12 months of high-voltage music-related shenanigans. And it’s been a rollercoaster ride, having begun this year in an uncertain state of ﬂux. In fact as midnight struck on January 31, 2016, ofﬁcially there was no Classic Rock magazine to speak of, as the company that previously published us had imploded. But, like the very best of bands, our comeback tour continues to be quite the journey… 2017 has seen some of rock’s biggest artists play some spectacular shows, so in this special end-ofyear issue we peep behind the scenes with Metallica at the O2 (p120); have a chat with Brian May about what’s what with Queen in 2017 and their worldconquering News Of The World tour; catch up with Tony Iommi to get his meaning-of-life thoughts now that Sabbath have played their ﬁnal show; and so much more. We’ve enjoyed great new albums from returning heroes and discovered some amazing new music from fantastic undiscovered bands – just check out the CR critics’ Top 50 Albums Of The Year (starting on p28) for proof. The upshot? Rock’n’roll is in rude health, and we’ll be all set to bring you more in 2018. Meantime, may you and yours have a spectacular Christmas and a very happy new year. Cheers! THE COVER: TONY IOMMI/JOSH HOMME/ JAMES HETFIELD: ROSS HALFIN QUEEN: GETTY; MARILLION: WILL IRELAND
Siân Llewellyn, Editor
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This month’s contributors SLEAZEGRINDER
…is very clearly the Evel Knievel of sleazy-rock journalism. When not spelunking through rock’n’ roll’s deepest, darkest canyons for Classic Rock and helping compile our cover CDs, he hosts the Advanced Demonology podcast and the Heavy Leather Topless Dance Party TV show. He lives in Boston – and he deserves to.
Designer and illustrator Steve Mitchell is responsible for the shiny typography on this month’s cover. A regular contributor to Classic Rock and its sister titles, he has worked in design for the music industry for many years, and has recently branched out into screenprinting and selling his own art prints. See more of his work at 57design.co.uk
Fraser’s a huge fan of both cats and space (he climbed inside the Apollo lunar module as a child, and once published a book about kittens), so it made complete sense to dispatch him to interview Cats In Space, the 21st century’s answer to the Electric Light Orchestra and 2017’s best kept secret (page 62). When not Cat bothering, Fraser steers all CR ’s online shenanigans.
Stereo Can also be played on mono equipment
SIR K 66 087 (2SRK 1987)
Germany: Z France: WE 666
Album of 2017: Bash & Pop, Anything Could Happen
Grave Pleasures, Motherblood
Anathema, The Optimist
Bash & Pop, Anything Could Happen
All Them Witches, Sleeping Through The War
Bash & Pop, Anything Could Happen
Cats In Space, Scarecrow
Marcel Anders, Geoff Barton, Tim Batcup, Mark Beaumont, Max Bell, Essi Berelian, Mark Blake, Simon Bradley, Paul Brannigan, Rich Chamberlain, Stephen Dalton, Johnny Dee, Malcolm Dome, Lee Dorrian, Mark Ellen, Claudia Elliott, Paul Elliott, Dave Everley, Jerry Ewing, Hugh Fielder, Gary Graff, Michael Hann, John Harris, Nick Hasted, Barney Hoskyns, Jon Hotten, Rob Hughes, Neil Jeffries, Emma Johnston, Jo Kendall, Dom Lawson, Paul Lester, Ken McIntyre, Lee Marlow, Gavin Martin, Alexander Milas, Paul Moody, Grant Moon, Kate Mossman, Kris Needs, Bill Nelson, Paul Rees, Chris Roberts, David Quantick, Johnny Sharp, Sleazegrinder, Terry Staunton, David Stubbs, Everett True, Jaan Uhelszki, Mick Wall, Paddy Wells, Philip Wilding, Henry Yates, Youth
Ami Barwell, Adrian Boot, Dick Barnatt, Dave Brolan, Alison Clarke, Zach Cordner, Fin Costello, Henry Diltz, Kevin Estrada, James Fortune, Jill Furmanovsky, Herb Greene, Bob Gruen, Michael Halsband, Ross Halﬁn, Mick Hutson, Will Ireland, Robert Knight, Marie Korner, Barry Levine, Jim Marshall, John McMurtrie, Gered Mankowitz, David Montgomery, Kevin Nixon, Denis O’Regan, Barry Plummer, Ron Pownall, Neal Preston, Michael Putland, Mick Rock, Pennie Smith, Stephen Stickler, Leigh A van der Byl, Chris Walter, Mark Weiss, Barrie Wentzell, Baron Wolman, Michael Zagaris, Neil Zlozower.
Thanks this issue to Louise Brock (design) and Jo Kendall (production)
Cover photos: Tony Iommi/Josh Homme/James Hetﬁeld: Ross Halﬁn; Queen: Getty; Marillion: Will Ireland
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FOR MO RE
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SS W.CLA ICROCK W MA W S: GA Z EW N
E INSIDE TH CK WORLD OF RO 2 - 06 72 8 07 8E cat no:#244
© ALEC BYRNE
17 COPY K 20 RIGHT TEAMROC
T.Rex at the Lyceum Ballroom, London, January 16, 1974.
David Bowie near his Haddon Hall home, circa 1970.
© ALEC BYRNE
Garage Days Revisited Photographer’s astonishing forgotten archive resurrected for new book and exhibition.
Back row: Pete Townshend, Rocky Dijon, Roger Daltrey. Front row: Brian Jones, Yoko Ono, Sean Lennon, John Lennon, Eric Clapton. Rock And Roll Circus, Intertel Studios, Wembley, December 11, 1968. © Alec Byrne
London Rock – The Unseen Archive is the title of a new book by Alec Byrne, an English photographer who worked for NME from 1966 onwards, starting as a 17-year-old, shooting some of the biggest music stars of the 1960s and 70s, including David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, The Kinks and Marc Bolan. Many of its candid images have never been seen before. Byrne gave up rock photography after relocating to Los Angeles during the mid-70s, and much of his library of images spent many years locked away in a garden shed. That they survived at all is a minor miracle. “In 1970 my studio in London was destroyed by fire,” he recalls. “And when I shipped everything to California, during the crossing there was storm damage and water got into the boxes. Then I had an office on Sunset Boulevard, and in ’94 the building was red-tagged by the Northridge Earthquake.” It wasn’t until a visitor to Byrne’s office expressed admiration for a framed Beatles print on his wall that the seed of the book was sown. “He asked me where I bought it, and when I replied that I’d taken the photo myself, that led to a conversation about these boxes of photos in the garage.” Byrne, who had by then moved into cinematic photography, decided to hold an exhibition of his work in Los Angeles. When 1,000 people turned up on its sole night, “I knew right away that they had to come out of those boxes in my garage and out to where people could see and enjoy them,” he explains. Asked to name his favourite of the photos in the book, he singles out a session that he did with David Bowie at Haddon Hall, the singer’s home from October 1969 to May 1972. “Forty-five years later, one of those shots was used as the opening image in his Five Years boxed set ,” he marvels. Byrne is also extremely proud of a photo of T.Rex playing at London’s Lyceum in 1974 that shows Marc Bolan on his knees. “I was so lucky to get that!” he exclaims. “Those lights saying ‘Rex’ behind him were flashing, so when I got into the darkroom I was
Jimi Hendrix and Mick Jagger at Top Of The Pops, BBC Lime Grove Studios, London, May 4, 1967.
thrilled to have captured Marc in that pose and with the words illuminated behind him.” Catching Mick Jagger and Jimi Hendrix at Top Of The Pops seemed equally heaven-sent. “Every Thursday at four p.m. I visited Lime Grove Studios [where TOTP was recorded], and on this occasion I saw Jimi go over to Jagger. So I asked whether I could snap them together and they said it was fine. His photo of a collection of stars (left) taken at the shooting of the Stones’ Rock And Roll Circus in Wembley in December 1968 is another remarkable image. “Oh my God,” he exclaims. “Just a minor line-up of talent! I don’t even know how I managed to get into that taping [of the film], but once inside it was so disorganised. Everyone was just wandering around, which for a photographer was incredibly beneficial. The amazing thing was that there seemed to be no egos; there was no diva-esque behaviour. ‘Hey, guys, would you mind if I got you all together over here?’ And it was no problem. That wouldn’t happen now. You wouldn’t even gain entry to the building now.” Besides the onset of punk rock – “to me that really wasn’t music,” he says – the already declining access to stars contributed to Byrne abandoning photographing rock stars, and switching to the world of cinema instead. “I was lucky when I arrived in Hollywood and [one of] the first people I connected with was David Soul, and for six months I was the only photographer allowed on the set of Starsky & Hutch.” Were those images of a bygone age always lurking in the back of his mind? “No,” he admits. “Trying to make it in Hollywood you must be so driven and focused that they were pushed into the background. But seeing them again in my book is a stirring reminder of rock’s golden years.” DL
London Rock: The Unseen Archive is published via Virgin Books on Dec 7. The hardback costs £50. Photographs from the book can be viewed in exhibition form at Proud Galleries in London from Dec 8 to Jan 28 (www.proud.co.uk ).
This month The Dirt was compiled by Simon Bradley, Rich Chamberlain, Lee Dorrian, Nick © ALEC BYRNE
Hasted, Jamie Hibbard, Hannah May Kilroy, Dave Ling, Grant Moon, Paul Rees
George Young Thank you and good night. Martin Eric Ain July 18, 1967 – October 21, 2017
Tom Gabriel Fisher (aka Tom G Warrior) has led the tributes to his former Celtic Frost bandmate, who died of a heart attack, aged 50. Born Martin Stricker, he played bass for the Swiss heavy metal band over two spells, as well as in CF forerunners Hellhammer. “Our relationship was very complex and definitely not free of conflict,” Fischer explains, “but I am deeply affected by his passing.”
Gord Downie February 6, 1964 – October 17, 2017
None other than Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has spoken in praise of Gord Downie, frontman for the Tragically Hip. The 53-yearold had been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour last year. “We are less as a country without Gord Downie in it,” said Trudeau, a close friend of Downie. “We all knew this was coming, but we hoped it wasn’t. It hurts.”
Blaze Bayley closes his Infinite Entanglement sci-fi trilogy with a new album titled The Redemption Of William Black, released on March 2. His tenth solo release includes a guest appearance from Fozzy singer Chris Jericho. Following the departure of lead singer Jameson Burt, Mount Holly have split, just as their debut album Stride By Stride entered America’s Alternative Rock Top 40. “How ironic that the band breaks up on the same day it achieves its greatest success,” says their guitarist Nick Perri.
Daisy Berkowitz April 28, 1968 – October 22, 2017
Putting aside past hostility, Marilyn Manson suggests that his fans should listen to the track Man That You Fear in honour of his former guitarist, who at 49 has lost a battle with cancer. Scott Putesky took his stage name by combining Dukes Of Hazzard’s Daisy Duke with serial killer David ‘Son Of Sam’ Berkowitz.
Liam Davison November 8, 1967 – November 3, 2017
The members of Mostly Autumn are “devastated” by the unexpected loss of their former guitar player. Davison was a co-founder of the British progressive rock band in 1995, left, then and returned in 2007, and quit for good following the recording of Dressed In Voices in 2014. The cause of death has yet to be announced. Davison was 49 years old.
Iain Shedden January 6, 1957 – October 16, 2017
Marilyn Manson has sacked bassist Jeordie White, aka Twiggy Ramirez, from his band following claims from Jack Off Jill vocalist Jessicka Addams that she was raped by White 20 years ago while they were in a relationship. The incident was not reported to the police at the time. In a statement, Ramirez said: “I do not condone non-consensual sex of any kind. If I have caused anyone pain I apologise and truly regret it.”
AC/DC have paid tribute to the man who helped to shape many of their earliest albums. George Young was the elder brother of Malcolm and Angus, played bass with them during formative years and, along with Easybeats bandmate Harry Vanda, co-produced their albums High Voltage, TNT, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, Let There Be Rock and Powerage. In later years he also helmed 2000’s Stiff Upper Lip. Acknowledging George’s contribution to AC/DC, a band statement said: “Without his help and guidance there would not have been an AC/DC. As
a musician, songwriter, producer, advisor and much, much more, you could not ask for a more dedicated and professional man.” It added: “You could not ask for a finer brother. For all he did and gave to us throughout his life, we will always remember him with gratitude and hold him close to our hearts.” Away from AC/DC, Young and Vanda become a hugely successful writing team, their global hits including Friday On My Mind and Love Is In The Air. Young was 70 at the time of his passing. Cause of death has yet to be revealed. DL
Phil Miller January 22, 1949 – October 18, 2017 Fans of the 70s Canterbury scene in particular will have been saddened by the death of Phil Miller, whose highly individual guitar playing style and tone was a key element of Hatfield And The North and National Health, to name just two of the bands he was a member of. Many rock fans’ introduction to Miller was either when he joined Matching Mole or played on Caravan’s 1972 album Waterloo Lily. But it was with the Hatfields that he will be most often remembered, his marvellous technique and startlingly creative soloing lighting up records such as their self-titled debut album and standout follow-up The Rotters’ Club. “Phil’s compositions were sophisticated, but his solos were deeply blues rooted,” explains Miller’s friend and fellow guitarist Doug Boyle. “He was incapable of lying, whether he was wearing a guitar or not, so when (fully dressed) he bent a string, it ached, and you ached in sympathy because
it was ’nothing but the truth’. He had a tumbling sense of timing that was impossible to replicate. Effortlessly hurdling over time signature changes like a world-class show jumper; you would have felt like applauding if you had not been so enraptured by the engaging elegance of it all. “Early on he developed a unique tone that was like pale blue ice, indeed almost angelic, but that could then turn shockingly crimson when a gale blew up and the terrain turned from pastoral into something more rugged and challenging. In either mode it was absolutely iconic, totally his own and one of the central pillars of the so-called ‘Canterbury sound’. “The man was indivisible from his music. Touchingly warm and gentle at heart, he did everything with soul, compassion and occasionally formidable force. In his hands a guitar was a sword of righteousness. Amen.” PH
Fats Domino February 26, 1928 – October 24, 2017 Born in New Orleans 89 years ago and famous for a two-fisted style of boogiewoogie piano, Antoine Dominique Domino Jr – better known as Fats – became one of the most influential performers in popular music, selling more than 65 million records, a record unsurpassed by every 1950s rock’n’roll act except Elvis Presley. He died of natural causes, according to reports. Issued in 1949, the singer’s millionselling debut single, The Fat Man, is sometimes credited as the first ever rock’n’roll record. Paul McCartney is said to have written The Beatles’ Lady Madonna
in emulation of Domino’s style, and John Lennon and Cheap Trick are among those who covered his 1955 hit Ain’t That A Shame. During a 1965 press conference at which both were present, Presley corrected a journalist who referred to Fats as “The King”, nodding at Domino and stating: “No, that’s the real king of rock’n’roll.” Domino was among the first artists to be inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, in 1986. “Fats could make a piano talk,” Little Richard told Rolling Stone. “He could play anything. He wasn’t just a banger. He could really play for real.” DL
Iain Shedden, former drummer with The Saints and a veteran music writer, has died at the age of 60. Born in Scotland, he played with The Jolt before emigrating Down Under where, in 1982, he joined Brisbane’s own Saints. He spent 24 years as a music critic for The Australian, remaining with the title until his death from laryngeal cancer.
As this issue went to press, Jeff Lynne’s ELO (pictured) announced eight new indoor shows. They are: Nottingham Motorpoint Arena September 30, Glasgow Hydro Arena October 3, Manchester Arena 5, Newcastle Metro Radio Arena 9, Birmingham Arena 10, Leeds First Direct Arena 15, London O2 Arena 17 and Liverpool Echo Arena 23.
November 6, 1946 – October 22, 2017
Ozzy: eyeing a long goodbye.
Ozzy for Download and farewell tour GN’R and Avenged Sevenfold the other DL headliners.
The Temperance Movement release their third album, A Deeper Cut, on February 16 via Earache. Once again co-produced by the band and Sam Miller, it’s their first with guitarist Matt White, who replaced Luke Potashnick in 2016. More than 60 people are reported to have been ejected from a recent show by A Perfect Circle in Reading, Pennsylvania, for using their mobile phones during the band’s set.
Saxon’s 22nd studio album, Thunderbolt, is released on February 2 via their own Militia Guard label. Singer Biff Byford (pictured) calls it “a storming, smashing, thundering collection of tracks.” The band play Cardiff University February 23, Cambridge Corn Exchange 24 and Hull City Hall 25, with more dates to follow. Support comes from Magnum, Diamond Head and Rock Goddess. Seattle band Walking Papers – bassist Duff McKagan, drummer Barrett Martin, vocalist/ guitarist Jefferson Angell and keyboard player Benjamin Anderson – release their second album, WP2, on January 19 via Loud & Proud Records.
Drinking to their return: Clive Bayley (left) and Bob Hagger.
Mabel Greer’s Toyshop The band that once included most of the founders of Yes but called it a day in ’68 set out their stall again. In 1966, guitarist/vocalist Clive Bayley and drummer Bob Hagger formed psychedelic explorers Mabel Greer's Toyshop in London, whose line-up would include bassist Chris Squire, guitarist Peter Banks, keyboard player Tony Kaye and Jon Anderson. While these four went on to form prog giants Yes, Bayley and Hagger ditched the band and the music business completely in ’68. But now they’ve resurrected Mabel and recorded a new album, The Secret, and, as Bayley reveals, they’re keen to make up for lost time.
different. We did lots of gigs – the UFO club, Electric Garden, the Marquee. Bob and I were into left-field stuff, psychedelia and ad-libbing, Jon was more mainstream, more into pop. But they were all brilliant musicians. Good times. And what brings you back? After Peter Banks died [in 2013], Bob called me. We hadn’t seen each other for forty-five years, but we had dinner and caught up, and we’re still the same people. We laughed ourselves silly, decided to go back into the studio and made A New Way Of Life in 2015, with [ex-Yes guitarist] Billy Sherwood producing. We got a lot of press, sold a few thousand copies, but we couldn’t tour because of our business commitments.
“The lyrics are mystical. The music is melodic, progressive…”
Fifty years is a hell of a hiatus. What have you been up to? Yes, we’ve had a slight absence! I’ve had nightclubs, fashion companies, design companies. I invented the screwball glass. I now have a chain of mobile phone stores, fonehouse. Bob’s been a CEO of a software company in Boston. Our creativity went into business, not music.
Why did you give it all up in 1968? I like paddling my own canoe, and I didn’t like what was happening in the music business. With my own business I could do my own thing. But I really missed the music. Every time I saw Yes play I thought: “I really want to be doing that.” Did you keep in touch with them? We’re always friendly, but I can’t say that we’re close. The last time I saw Yes was at a concert about eight years ago. Mabel lasted only three years, but what an amazing musical pedigree. In sixty-six, London was all about psychedelic music and flower power, everybody was doing something
You’ve called your sound “psychedelic fusion”. Is that how you’d describe the music on The Secret? It’s more than that. The lyrics are, dare I say it, mystical. The music is melodic, progressive, classical. Peter is on the title track, we worked a clip of his guitar into the middle eight. He always thought I was a crap guitarist, which I was, compared to him. But here we’re playing a duet, and it works very well. It’s all still very Mabel. Will you tour this record? We want to get some dates sorted for the fifty years of Yes’s celebrations next year. If we could do a few gigs in the States, a few in Europe, even as a support, that would be great. We love music and we just want to get back out and play. GM The Secret is released on December 15 via HBM.
OZZY OSBOURNE: KEVIN NIXON
Ozzy Osbourne is to co-headline next year’s Download Festival as part of a twoyear farewell tour that will commence in Mexico on May 5. For the first time since 2009, Ozzy will team up with guitarist Zakk Wylde, with a band completed by bassist Blasko, drummer Tommy Clufetos and keyboard player Adam Wakeman, to close the festival on Sunday night. The other Download 2018 headliners will be Guns N’ Roses (Saturday night) and Avenged Sevenfold (Friday). As usual the event takes place at Donington Park Racetrack in Leicestershire, this year on June 8-10. More info at downloadfestival.co.uk Back in February, Ozzy helped to bring down the curtain on Black Sabbath’s career at Birmingham’s Genting Arena, but the singer has no plans to bring down the one on his own career just yet. “They’ve [Sabbath] retired but I haven’t,” he said recently. “People forget I’ve done my own thing for a lot longer than [being] with Sabbath. I love what Sabbath did for me and I love what I did for Sabbath, but it’s not the be-all, end-all of my own whole career.” He added: “People around my age go: ‘I’m sixty-five now. I’m retired.’ Then they fucking die. My father got a bit of cash from the job he had, did the garden and died.” Asked to define ‘retirement’ in such a context, Ozzy says: “This will be my final world tour, but I can’t say I won’t [still] do some [one-off] shows here and there.” Wylde joins Ozzy’s tour off the back of his own commitments with his band Black Label Society, who play 23 dates throughout March and April in support of their new Grimmest Hits album, which includes an appearance at London’s Royal Albert Hall on April 5. “In between my nail appointments and the shaving of my legs, we’ve actually made another Black Label album,” Wylde reveals. “So that’ll be coming out in the new year.” GN’R have played more than 100 shows around the world since 2016 when frontman Axl Rose reunited with guitarist Slash and bassist Duff McKagan (the current line-up is completed by keyboard player Dizzy Reed, guitarist Richard Fortus, drummer Frank Ferrer and synth player Melissa Reese). Californian heavy metal band Avenged Sevenfold, who released their seventh album, The Stage, in October 2016, first co-headlined Download in 2014. DL
Reef, The Wildhearts and Terrorvision are to co-headline five dates billed as Britrock Must Be Destroyed! Each band will take turns to headline. The dates are: Manchester Academy May 4, Birmingham Digbeth Arena 5, London Hammersmith Apollo 6, Glasgow Academy 19 Newcastle Academy 20.
“We have this classic rock feel but with a hint of punk and blues in there as well.”
Palaye Royale Sin City’s band of brothers are flying the flashbang flag for style and rock’n’roll substance.
Another thing that clearly shouldn’t work is having a band comprised solely of siblings, but somehow that does too. “There are days when we fucking hate each other,” Remington admits. “We can get into a fist-fight and punch each other in the face, and then two “I’ve dressed this way ever since I was ten,” says Palaye Royale’s frontman, minutes later get on stage and everything is fine.” Remington Leith. “People think we have stage clothes and costumes. No, if you Whether it’s their brotherly chemistry, uber-cool style or just the quality see me in the morning, that is how I will be dressed. Okay, maybe I don’t have music, something seems to be working for Palaye Royale. The band have the feather boa while I eat my cereal, but I don’t look too normal.” developed a sizeable following since forming in 2012, with their video for We should perhaps expect nothing less than outlandish attire Morning Light racking up a staggering 20 million views on YouTube. FOR FANS OF… from a band that describe themselves as “art fashion rock”. But, to With a year on the road in support of their album Boom Boom Room be fair to Remington and his bandmates – elder brother Sebastian on the way, you can bank on plenty more devotees getting on Danzig and younger sibling Emerson Barrett complete the line-up board in the coming months. – growing up under the neon lights of Las Vegas was always likely Remington thinks he has an idea why the band is connecting to leave the trio with a certain eye for flair. “It was crazy growing up with so many people: “We miss the days where Mick Jagger would in this city of theatrics. That was a big part of why we look the way wear the craziest outfits on stage. Why don’t bands dress like this that we do and why we want to put on such a show.” any more? We always wanted to be that band where people would Remington draws If you want theatrics, these boys deliver in spades – and not just see you walking down the street and would say: ‘Wow! Now that is comparisons with The in their headline-grabbing threads and eye-popping live show. a band right there.’ The music helps us, we have this bigger-thanKillers and Seattle Tracks like Morning Light, Mr Doctor Man and Don’t Feel Quite Right life sound. The last band to do this was My Chemical Romance. survivors Pearl Jam, but demonstrate a reckless abandon when it comes to dynamics, as the it’s the louche swagger They had this great aesthetic and it made everything so cohesive of the Rolling Stones that between their music and their style. We always wondered why band crash from My Chemical Romance-influenced rock to New really shines through York Dolls-ish punk via dashes of Stones-y blues. bands didn’t do that. We knew that we wanted to be that band.” RC Palaye Royale’s music. Ultimately, as he says, “We have this classic-rock feel but with a hint of punk and blues it’s bands “that push in there as well,” the frontman explains. “It sounds like it shouldn’t Boom Boom Room (Side A) is released in the U K on the envelope” who work together but, weirdly, it does.” November 24 via Sumerian Records. inspire them. “The theatrical side is missing from a lot of bands… That’s what we aim for.”
Riches from the rock underground
Pluto, Dawn, UK, 1971. £400. After forming in 1970, the following year the Londonbased Pluto released this, their debut, a solid album of progressive blues and hard rock, which is now arguably the rarest record on PYE subsidiary Dawn Records. Although lacking any all-out monster/ killer cuts, it’s well executed and features appealing bursts of fuzz guitar alongside some wild soloing, and thankfully none of the tracks are particularly drawn out and it’s a relatively jam-free zone. The repetitive groove and simplistic riffing of Down And Out is actually one of its more memorable moments, but it’s tougher rockers such as Stealing My Thunder, Crossfire and the garage-vibed Road To Glory where Pluto sound strongest. Apparently it was commercial producer/songwriter John Macleod’s first experience of producing a hard rock
‘A solid album of progressive blues and hard rock.’
Hawkwind are to perform a special one-off orchestral show, In Search Of Utopia – Infinity And Beyond, at the London Palladium on November 4, 2018. Robyn Hitchcock and his band the LA Squires will play two UK shows – his first with a full live group since 2014 – in the spring. They play Manchester Academy May 11 and London ULU the following day. Some solo acoustic shows in the UK are also to be announced.
Warrior Soul Mighty motormouth Kory Clarke returns with a new album – his ego, if not his liver, very much intact. When they first came along in 1990, Warrior Soul stood out for two reasons. One, Last Decade Dead Century, their debut album, was brilliant, as bleak and unforgiving as a landscape of urban concrete but also home to such sweeping epics as The Losers, Lullaby and In Conclusion. Two, there was frontman and leader Kory Clarke; a peacocking motormouth who simply would not be ignored. Except that for the most part he was. Despite a clutch of rave reviews and a high-profile tour with Metallica, Last Decade Dead Century sank almost without trace. Clarke ploughed on, and made two further excellent, insurrectionistminded records – 1991’s Drugs, God And The New Republic and the following year’s Salutations From The Ghetto Nation – and then a couple more that were not nearly so good. He changed band line-ups as often, but in 1996 gave up the fight and retired the band. Ten years later, Clarke revived Warrior Soul and has toured and made records under that banner ever since. His latest and eighth is Back On The Lash. Described by Clarke as “hard, catchy rock’n’roll”, across nine relentless tracks it suggests strongly that he exists in a nearpermanent state of inebriation. It also sounds like that when he picks up the phone call from Classic Rock at six in the evening his time. He’s in Greece, but refuses to say where or why exactly.
happens. I basically shag the missus, go out to the pub, chill out some and spend the rest of the day figuring out how to get myself enough money so that I can go back to the bar. I rock, dude. I live a rock’n’roll lifestyle. Does that sound bizarre? There’s a few of us left, but not many. Where does Back On The Lash stand in the Warrior Soul scheme of things? It was about time that Warrior Soul said: “We’re gonna rock no matter what anyone else does.” This album stands out against the field of re-tread, moron, horror show that is the rest of music these days. With Warrior Soul, every album we do sounds different. Basically, what I want to do right now is kick some ass.
“I live a rock and roll lifestyle. Does that sound bizarre?”
Judas Priest have announced that the follow-up to 2014’s Redeemer Of Souls will be titled Firepower – the band’s second studio album with Richie Faulkner, the guitarist who replaced KK Downing following his retirement in 2011. “Richie’s playing is fucking unbelievable on this album,” vocalist Rob Halford (pictured) enthuses. “As the writing team of Richie, Glenn Tipton and myself, this is some of our best work.” Rick Springfield releases The Snake King, his first ever blues-influenced album, on January 26 via Frontiers Records.
On I Get Fucked Up on the new record, you proclaim: ‘Call me a first-rate alcoholic. Call me a crack-head junkie too.’ How autobiographical is that? Oh, it’s totally autobiographical. I assume that you’ve actually heard the record, and that you understand what for me would be a typical day. I’m really glad that I wake up – sometimes, anyway. Then shit
With Trump in the White House, those railing, apocalyptic prophecies on Drugs, God And The New Republic and Salutations From The Ghetto Nation now appear all too prescient? It’s always been obvious to me where things are going wrong. When you have a corporate government running everyone’s lives, what more can I say? Listen to the records. If you’re not a billionaire you’re a fucking loser in this culture. I tried to expose this, or to enlighten people to what was going on, but unfortunately I wasn’t hip enough to move to Seattle and drink coffee. What do you think the general perception of Warrior Soul is today? I have no idea. Judging from my fan base, people still like to hear The Losers and also In Conclusion, one of the greatest songs ever written by human beings – and written by me. Excuse me for my ego. PR Back On The Lash is out now via Livewire/Cargo.
ROB HALFORD: KEVIN NIXON
band, and he attempted to clean up and polish the band’s natural sound. This is perhaps evident on Rag A Bone Joe, which has backing vocals from the Brotherhood Of Man. A poppier track, (obviously aimed at radio), at odds with most of the album, it was released as a single and flopped. It makes you wonder why big labels signed bands like this, as they clearly didn’t know how to market them and had little faith in their creative worth. Pluto released one further single the following year, titled I Really Want It, which was arguably their finest moment. Apparently the band split in 1973 due to various frustrations. LD
Robert Plant has described some of his early singing with Led Zeppelin as “horrific”. Talking to The Guardian, the 69-yearold referenced Babe I’m Gonna Leave You, on the band’s self-titled debut from 1969, saying: “I really should have shut the fuck up!” Plant is to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the third annual UK Americana Awards at London’s Hackney Empire on February 1.
Technical ecstasies Looking for the ultimate aural experience? Try these. from Taiwanese company oBravo, which include: “…a coaxial two-way IEM design, using an Air Motion Transformer II tweeter and Neodymium Dynamic Driver to deliver a rich soundstage”. Sounds cool, huh? And so does the music that comes out of them. A pair cost a staggering £8,999, but it doesn’t end there; you’ll need to seek out one of the increasing number of retailers that provide music in hi-res formats such as FLAC or WAV to make buying these earphones worthwhile. You’ll need a dedicated player, too, of course, which can cost anything from £199 upwards. We’ve been fortunate to hear music through a high-end hi-fi system, and it’s a truly wondrous experience. The ridiculous prices of the associated equipment are bound to exclude all but squillionaires from similar epiphanies, but if you get the chance, take it. More information from Audio Sanctuary: 0208 942 9124 Simon Bradley
SONGS FOR THE DEAF?
If you like things loud, hearing loss is a serious
These days it’s likely that the majority of music fans enjoy their music in one digital format or another, especially when on the move. With their favourite tracks and albums most commonly stored in a lowres AAC or mp3 format, many people will happily head-nod along to Back In Black or whatever using the somewhat ropey earphones that came with the player/ phone/whatever and not be any the wiser. The nuances of the hi-fi world are all but impenetrable for newbies, but one of the cornerstones is that the huge cost of the relevant kit is secondary to the exhilaration of the perfect aural experience. According to What HiFi, a high-end system’s power amp can cost as much as £500,000 and a pair of speakers £300,000. If you’re a vinyl connoisseur, the price of the Clearaudio Statement v2 turntable, a mere £92,000, includes the services of a technician who will come round and help you set it up. The mind-boggling technology utilised in products such as these is also applicable to earphones. Take these Ra C-CU units
Deafness is often treated lightly by us rock and metal fans. At gigs, how often have we shouted “No!” to a band’s enquiry as to whether the volume the is loud enou gh? Or agreed with the phrase: ‘If it’s too loud you’re too old?’ Many musicians have struggled with heari ng problems due to years of playing loud on stage. Neil Youn g, Pete Townshend and Eric Clapton have all battled with tinnit us, and Mr. Big guitarist Paul Gilbert (pictured) has taken to wearing a pair of Direct Sound EX-29 Extreme Isolation head phones on stage to protect what’s left of his hearing. “The most difficult thing for me to hear is speech,” he told MusicRadar.com. “And I have to be caref ul about mixing high-frequency instruments like shakers or hi-hats too; I just can’t hear them any more.” His words, and those of many other musi cians whose hearing is shot, are a sombre warning for all of us.
Alice Cooper, John Mellencamp, Chrissie Hynde, the Isley Brothers and Tom Waits are among those nominated for the Songwriters Hall Of Fame in 2018. Eligibility is open to published writers for a minimum of 20 years who have a notable catalogue of hits. Six artists will be selected, and the winners inducted at a ceremony in New York on June 14.
This month, @jamiehibbard is elegantly wasted in these three sartorial stand-outs. Timberland USA-made boots Every bit the everyday essential as it is the all-weather necessity, these eightinch boots will see you right in almost all winter settings – maybe leave them at home on a spa weekend, mind. This version is a premium update of the signature design, fully crafted in the USA using a great leather, from the famed Horween tannery, for the uppers. They’re also going to keep your feet very warm and dry, in the forests of Sweden or the spilt pints of your local dive. £300 @Timberland Timberland.co.uk
Spiral Direct Shadow Master sleeveless worker shirt If you’re going to get a shirt with a skull on it, you might as well get one with a massive skull on it! This worker shirt from Spiral Direct doesn’t just have one on the front though, oh no, it’s got a full back piece too. £24.99 @SpiralDirect SpiralDirect.com Mr Completely Hampden jean This LA-based label has nailed a streetwear aesthetic all of their own that boasts bags of attitude. £285 MrCompletelyStore.com 20 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
Former Journey drummer Deen Castronovo has joined the Dead Daisies. He replaces Brian Tichy, who is to “pursue other projects”. The group are currently recording a new album in Nashville. Thunder release their new festive song Christmas Day on December 1 via Ear Music. The seven-inch blue vinyl edition adds a new 2017 re-recording of debutalbum song Love Walked In, while the CD and 10-inch blue vinyl editions have that plus live acoustic renditions of Low Life In High Places and Heartbreak Hurricane.
Joe Satriani (pictured) releases his sixteenth solo album, What Happens Next, on January 12. He has invited Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci and former Scorpions guitarist Uli Jon Roth to join his next G3 tour, which reaches the UK on April 24. U2 have confirmed that they will play shows in Ireland and the UK next summer to promote their fourteenth studio album, Songs Of Experience, released on December 1.
Peter Hammill It’s not farewell from the Van der Graaf man, but a time for gentle reflection - well, as gentle as he gets. Peter Hammill was called “the Hendrix of the voice” in the 60s, but had deliberately retreated from the limelight by the end of the 70s. A nearfatal heart attack in 2003 failed to derail the reunion of his ornery, punk-favoured proggers Van der Graaf Generator, or prolific solo and band releases since. His latest solo record, From The Trees, is one of his strongest and most simply arranged sets of songs. It confronts themes of artistic crack-ups, ageing and death which are ever more relevant to the 69-year-old’s rock generation.
to see that the looming finger of Catholicism didn’t tap me on the shoulder and beckon me back into the fold. No, I think the lights go out. Does all the work you’ll have left behind matter to you? Well, I think I will have left it behind, and it will have been left behind as well. The fact is, it’s extremely unlikely that there’s going to be a Las Vegas show of The Songs Of Hammill – unless there’s a dramatic turnaround in the next ten minutes! They’ll still exist in recorded form, but they’ll be gone in terms of having life breathed into them. They won’t continue. I’m still touring, but not that much, because I don’t want to be stricken by all the tiredness. But while I’m still playing, it is partly from this sense of responsibility to the songs, which have been friends to me. So I’m carrying on in the knowledge that if I stop playing, then they won’t have the life breathed into them. It’s a responsibility that I’ve inherited. I owe the songs a lot.
“It’s extremely unlikely that there’s going to be a Las Vegas show of The Songs Of Hammill.”
The songs on From The Trees give to our inevitable decline a nobility that is unusual for you. Your gaze is usually more withering. It’s not wanting to whinge, I suppose. I guess I’m trying to be more generous of spirit, while also not averting the gaze. The thing is, we’re all of a certain age, so it’s time to take stock. And so I’m not trying to write the farewell song, and I’m not thinking every time I go into one that this might be the last. But there is that consciousness that there physically can’t be many more songs, and I ought to take extra care with them. The song Torpor is a continuation of 2012’s All The Tiredness. Is it coming from a person who is more tired now? Over the last couple of years there have been times when I’ve been extremely tired. But at the moment I’m in a comparative first flush of youth [laughs]. In Torpor you sing: ‘There’s no knowing where this ends.’ Are you sure that with death the lights go out and that’s it? I am, yes. Even going back to when I had my heart attack in 2003, I was interested
What have the songs you’ve written over the decades given you? I get to inhabit their characters in the performance, and it’s as though I haven’t written them myself. It’s as though I’m encountering them in the moment. That’s a joyful and interesting thing. Are there and plans for Van der Graaf Generator in 2018? Yeah. We’d be hoping for something in live form towards the end of next year. But we haven’t booked the bus yet. NH From The Trees is out now via Fie! Records.
“We love sixties psych rock’n’roll. It was kinda out there and weird.”
The Texas Gentlemen
After years as an in-demand backing collective, they’re now paddling their own canoe.
Joe Cocker, the Stones… We really feel now that we’re a part of that legacy, and of that continuing story.” The Gentlemen may be a core of five, but they have a musical collective of nearly 20, with various songwriters involved and members swapping A lot can be said for standing back and taking notes. The five core musicians instruments in the studio, sharing vocals and joining in whenever they felt of southern rock collective the Texas Gentleman have been playing together inspired, “like musical chairs” Bedford says, laughing. for nearly 10 years, but as a backing band for singer-songwriters including “We’re so used to getting into the studio and working for somebody else’s Leon Bridges and Nikki Lane. During that time the Gentlemen learned on the vision and making it work for them, that I just wanted us to enjoy ourselves. job, discovering how to make records and uncovering the sounds Somebody would play a song, we’d say: ‘That’s great, let’s record FOR FANS OF… that would inspire them to create their very own album. it’, and everybody would find a position to work. It happened “We discovered all this great music together: Willie Nelson, so naturally. It was wonderful. We weren’t even thinking about Gram Parsons, The Byrds, music ingrained in American culture making a great record, but when we played back the mixes it was that defines the human narrative,” explains bandleader Beau apparent that we had something special.” Bedford, who also works as a music producer in Dallas. And special it certainly is. There’s southern rock boogie like Having worked alongside many musicians, the Gentlemen picked opening jam Habbie Doobie, the wistful Crosby, Stills & Nash-style up tips, particularly from Leon Bridges and Kris Kristofferson. folk rock of Bondurant Woman, and songs that sound as though “There are so many “Leon and Kris have such a similar spirit; they just organically they were transported from another era, like the crooning country genres of music that Leon have it inside of them,” Bedford explains. “They’re not trying to Russell takes you through ballad My Way or the psychedelic 60s wig-out Shakin’ All Over. be anything for anybody. They have a gift, and they’re sharing it. “We love sixties psych rock’n’roll when all the boundaries were on Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs And Englishmen album, There’s some real truth and potency that comes along with that.” being crushed for the first time,” Bedford says. “It was kinda out there and when you add a ton of and weird, and that’s what rock meant – not a defined genre, not The Gentlemen recorded their debut album, TX Jelly, at FAME Leon’s session musicians Studios in Muscle Shoals, which added extra magic to the a group of guys making music to try and sell records, but making to play live show with Joe’s voice, then you’ve experience. “Muscle Shoals is phenomenal,” says Bedford. “We music because they have a voice and something to say.” HMK got fire and magic. They met a bunch of guys who were in the Swampers, guys who were do music because they deeply involved but have no ego. We heard stories about Bob Dylan, love it. They love feeling it. TX Jelly is out now via New West Records. And that feeling is all over that album. Like it’s all over the Gents’ album.”
THE STO RIES BEH IND THE SON GS
The Byrds So You Want To Be A Rock’n’Roll Star A light-hearted pop at the superficial workings of the pop industry in the 60s, it remains a minor classic. And if you saw the band live in Bournemouth in 1965, you might actually be on it! Words: Rob Hughes
“The song was a slight jab – not at The Monkees as individuals, they actually had a very good gig making money, but at how contrived it was,” says Hillman. “Roger and I weren’t blatantly writing about The Monkees. To me, it was more like we were jabbing at Hollywood’s smarmy, controlled process of that. It strips away all the soul and depth of the experience of a rock band. It makes it so vanilla, too clean and pretty. Since the late fifties, with songs like Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini, manufactured pop music had been there. It all comes down to square one: profit.” “Some people think [Rock’n’Roll Star] is about The Monkees, but I never felt that,” McGuinn concurs. “I was friends with them – I knew Peter Tork and Mike Nesmith, we used to hang out together – so I wasn’t trying to put The Monkees down. The whole song was kind of tongue-in-cheek. It wasn’t a bitter condemnation of the music business. We found it funny; it was a superficial Beatles thing.” On a musical level, the song is motored by Hillman’s driving bass motif, lush harmonies and the distinctive peal of McGuinn’s 12-string Rickenbacker guitar. Also aboard is South African musician Hugh Masekela, whose surging trumpet blasts add to the sense of growing hysteria. Hillman, previously a minor creative presence in The Byrds, had been inspired to write more after playing on a recent Masekela session. “What we’d been doing with Hugh was sort of light jazz,” he explains. “It was great, they were all South African players. When I came home it opened the floodgates and I wrote Time Between. Then I had this idea and it was the Rock’n’Roll Star riff. You could say that was a major inspiration from working with Masekela.” Meanwhile, another South African icon had rubbed off on McGuinn. In his preByrds days he’d toured with singer Miriam Makeba as a member of the Chad Mitchell
Trio. “I showed Chris this lick that I’d learned from Miriam Makeba’s guitar player, Millard Thomas, which was a really cool South African riff,” he remembers. “Chris and I both liked it and we decided to use it as a musical basis for the song.” His appropriation of Thomas continues through the bridge, which ends with the arrival of a horde of shrieking teenagers. McGuinn had instructed publicist Derek Taylor to record The Byrds’ fans at selected gigs during their UK tour in August 1965. The sample on So You Want To Be A Rock’n’Roll Star was taken from Bournemouth Gaumont. “I just thought that the screaming fans from one of those shows would be interesting to incorporate into it,” McGuinn says. “While we were recording the song it occurred to me that we could use it after the line: ‘The girls’ll tear you apart.’
“The whole song was kind of tongue-in-cheek. It wasn’t a bitter condemnation of the music business. We found it funny.” Those teenage kids could be kind of wild, they’d tackle you or try to rip something off as a souvenir. It could be downright frightening at times. One time, they stole my little square glasses that I used to wear, right off my face.” Alas, the sound of the yelling masses proved to be an ever-fading echo for The Byrds. Despite a concerted promotional campaign that took in Italy, Germany, Sweden and the UK (including an appearance on Top Of The Pops in March ’67), So You Want To Be A Rock’n’Roll Star failed to register on the charts. It fared better back home in the US, creeping just inside the Billboard Top 30, though its success was hardly spectacular. More than half a century after it was written, So You Want To Be A Rock’n’Roll Star remains a satirical minor classic. “I’ve always loved that track,” Hillman concludes. “We really nailed it.”
So You Want To Be A Rock‘n’Roll Star might not have set the charts alight upon its release 50 years ago, but it has since become one of The Byrds’ most enduring songs. Oddly, the first group to cover it was The Royal Guardsmen, followed by The Move, Hookfoot, Nazareth and, in 1979, Patti Smith. The latter’s version was altogether more caustic than the original, with Smith explaining that “it relates specifically to the violent attack by an emotionally torn Sid Vicious on my brother, Todd, with a broken bottle in a New York nightclub. Both of them are now deceased, but they are embedded, like strange brothers, within our performance.” Others who have tackled the song include Tom Petty, Pearl Jam, Black Oak Arkansas, Ronnie Wood and R.E.M.
ighteen months can be a long time in show business. In the spring of 1965, The Byrds exploded into the public consciousness with their chiming cover of Bob Dylan’s Mr. Tambourine Man, topping the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. Fêted as avatars of folk rock, the band suddenly found themselves on Top 40 stations across America and Europe, appearing on TV and staring out of teen magazines. By late ’66, however, all that had changed. After a run of successes, and having experienced the full mania of the record industry, The Byrds were no longer guaranteed hit makers. “We’d watched [The Beatles film] A Hard Day’s Night just as we were starting out and were so enamoured of it,” explains bassist Chris Hillman. “Then it all did happen. We started doing shows and girls were running after us and jumping on the car. But within a matter of two years, all of a sudden we were like jaded old men who’d been around the block a few times. It was sort of comical.” Hillman and lead guitarist Roger McGuinn poured their cynicism into So You Want To Be A Rock’n’Roll Star. The song served as a two-minute manual for overnight fame, a potted guide to pop stardom with an essential checklist: electric guitars, the right hair, tight pants, money-worshipping agents. “We’d had such a quick rise to fame and it went to our heads a little,” McGuinn admits. “But by late sixty-six/early sixty-seven we were going out of business. We were up at Chris’s house and going through the pages of some teen magazine, cracking up at all these one-hit wonders who would be gone by the next week.” So You Want To Be A Rock’n’Roll Star was released on January 9, 1967, on the same day as The Monkees’ second LP, More Of The Monkees. This may have been purely coincidental, but there seemed to be no more fitting target for The Byrds’ dry critique of manufactured pop than the band often derided as the Prefab Four. The Monkees were by then starring in their own hugely popular TV show and riding high on a series of massive hit singles that were mostly the work of session players.
The Byrds fly in to London in February 1967: (l-r) David Crosby, Chris Hillman, Michael Clark, Roger McGuinn.
THE FACTS RELEASE DATE January 9, 1967 HIGHEST CHART POSITION US No.29, did not chart in UK PERSONNEL Roger McGuinn Lead guitar, vocals Chris Hillman Bass, vocals David Crosby Rhythm guitar, vocals Michael Clarke Drums Hugh Masekela Trumpet WRITTEN BY Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman PRODUCER Gary Usher LABEL Columbia
Bill Bailey The rock-savvy comedian talks punk, hens, having a good work ethic and playing Light My Fire at a cremation.
Words: Polly Glass
normous antique bird cages stand empty in Bill Bailey’s Hammersmith office – the friendly, buzzing nerve centre of the comedian/musician/national treasure’s empire. In his home nearby the theme continues with cockatoos, starlings, pigeons. “We’ve got some fine-looking exotic parrots but also some very nonexotic chickens, which actually I really like,” Bailey muses fondly. “Occasionally I’ll be working at the desk and one of the hens will fly up and perch on my head. A lot of people have rather unkindly pointed out that she might think she’s trying to hatch me out.” Indeed the Somerset-born Bailey is recognisable for his bald ‘skullet’ look and, of course, his deft deconstruction of popular music (ABBA in the style of Rammstein, The Hokey Cokey à la Kraftwerk, bassoons playing the Bee Gees…). We catch up with him in the run-up to his new mega-tour, titled Larks In Transit. On your new tour you’re fashioning a symphony from a ringtone, among other things. Are you an ‘embrace the rise of technology’ kind of guy? I guess so. You can’t avoid it, really. I like to embrace new technology. I like it when it works and it’s at our service. I think we’re in more of a grey area when it leads us to places where we can’t really deal with it, morally or legally, and we can’t cope with it. You’ve capitalised on the funny side of so much music. Is there any that you wouldn’t go near? I think all music’s up for grabs in terms of putting grist to the comedy mill. I try to pick sounds that aren’t common currency; that maybe aren’t heard so much on the radio. Because what I’ve discovered over the years is that music works best in a comedy context when you find things that people don’t realise they’re familiar with. You highlight something, deconstruct it, and they realise they actually do know this piece of, say, classical music. You get people laughing, but actually it sharpens up their ability to recognise music. You’ve had fun with a lot of metal in your shows, and you performed at Sonisphere. What’s the heaviest music that you actually enjoy? Probably Behemoth’s The Satanist. It’s a really intense album, and the music is so orchestral almost, the guitars layered on and this sort of tornado of drums… It’s epic. I listen to it when I’m cycling. People often associate you with prog rock (Bailey presented an award to Peter Gabriel at the 2014 Prog Awards), but punk was really your era, wasn’t it? It was, definitely. The Undertones, The Stranglers, Siouxsie And The Banshees, The Cure… All these bands played in the West Country when I was growing up and I went to see them all. That was my era, that was my music, really. But at the same time there was that American almost ‘art rock’, like Talking Heads, and I was drawn to that as well. You didn’t quite understand what it was all about, but you felt a bit more sophisticated listening to it. But yeah, when I hear punk songs now, I’m taken straight back to my youth, fourteen or
fifteen, in a nightclub somewhere in Bath listening to The Stranglers or Siouxsie or the Sex Pistols. And that led you to start a punk covers band, Beergut 100. Yes. Me and a bunch of mates got a band together for fun. I was the guitarist and we played the Only Ones, Dead Kennedys, all that stuff, and Too Drunk To Fuck – which is a very difficult riff to play, I have to say, very, very fast. You cannot play it even if you’ve had half a lager. Rock lost a lot of heroes this year. Which hit you the hardest? Chester Bennington was a real shock. Partly because he was so young and partly because it really brings it home to you what a terrible and pernicious thing depression can be, and how it strikes anyone. Every time I hear things like that I think how awful, what a terrible state they must have been in. Have you ever been to a therapist? I’ve always been lucky enough to have very good friends and a very understanding wife. We talk through things. I don’t go too mad, but that means I don’t get too down, I just kind of bumble along. Your packed bio – comedian, actor, musician, author, charity patron, documentary presenter… – doesn’t suggest much ‘bumbling’. How do you do so much and keep it all together? I don’t like to be idle. I like to be busy. I get very bored very easily, so I have to have a project to work on. My grandfather was a stone mason and he had a real strong work ethic. He said: “You have to have a trade, a craft.” Because that’s what sustained him his whole life. I think it must have had a profound effect on me, because I’ve really taken that on board as a life mission. As well as being a classically trained musician you’re an honorary member of the Society Of Crematorium Organists. When was the last time you were directly involved? [Laughs] I think it’s more of an honorary title. If I was at a funeral and the organist was called away sick, I don’t think I could elbow my way through, going: “Let me through! I’ve got this!” [laughs] I’d start playing Light My Fire maybe. Nice song choice. That’s how I’d wanna go. Still, even without crematorium gigs you’ve done some unusual shows. Performing in rural, post-Soviet-era Estonia was a real treat. I had no idea what to expect, certainly not the huge crowd that turned up. They were standing on their feet shouting and cheering, from being utterly quiet. It was the most amazing turnaround. It’s made me really want to go back and perform in these sorts of places that comedy hasn’t been to for many, many years. Bill Bailey Larks In Transit is touring until June 2017. Tickets and details at www.BillBailey.co.uk
Bill Bailey: comedian, musician and Beergut 100 guitarist.
“When I hear now, I’m take punk songs back to my yon straight uth.”
It’s been another fantastic 12 months for rock’n’roll. There have been brilliant albums, awesome songs, amazing shows and more. Please join us as we celebrate the year in rock in the company of some of those who made it great.
2017 delivered plenty of new albums to get excited about, from both big names and newcomers. Here, then, is the Classic Rock critics’ choice of the best 50. Words: Dave Everley, Fraser Lewry, Paul Lester, Malcolm Dome, Rob Hughes, Henry Yates, Nick Hasted, Johnny Sharp, Polly Glass, Ian Fortnam, Philip Wilding
Taylor’s intuitive grasp of southern idioms, allied to a deep recognition of his spiritual forebears (Neil Young, The Band, Tom Petty etc) has enabled him to fashion an understated minor classic. RH Killer track: Domino (Time Will Tell)
The Mission UM This is the album that proves the US veterans Styx are still masters of pomp. Here they’ve drawn from past glories such as The Grand Illusion and Paradise Theater, using these reference points to create something textured and focused for modern times, and Gone Gone Gone and Radio Silence stand up against any of the band’s acknowledged classics. MD Killer track: Gone Gone Gone
47 PROCOL HARUM
Novum EAGLE In the 14 years since Procol’s apparent swansong The Well’s On Fire, ageless prog-soul singer Gary Brooker somehow misplaced the veteran band’s other constant, lyricist Keith Reid. Reid’s replacement, Pete Brown, learnt on the job writing for Cream, and for this record gave Brooker meaty new tales tinged with 60s sentiments. On key song Sunday Morning, Brooker draws on classical sources, as he did for their 60s classic A Whiter Shade Of Pale, and a baroque little beauty about life’s daily grind sits alongside some surprisingly earthy AOR. NH Killer track: Businessman
49 ERIC GALES
Middle Of The Road MASCOT Memphis-born guitar prodigy Eric Gales looked set for big things in the early 90s, then lost decades of his life to drugs and trouble with the law. If Middle Of The Road is anything to go by, then he isn’t struggling to make up for it. Swishing between funked-up blues, soul, high-velocity reggae on Change In Me and stellar guitar playing everywhere, it’s a smooth, classy record. PG Killer track: Carry Yourself
GOLDEN 48 HISS MESSENGER
Biters: brilliantly shameless, shamelessly brilliant.
The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be EARACHE Biters are firm believers in the old adage that talent borrows and genius steals. The Atlanta band’s second album reads like A Brief History Of Rock’N’Roll, from Stone Cold Love’s blatant T.Rex knock-off to the ZZ Top heartbeat of Vulture City. That they get away with it is testament to their sheer chutzpah. Brilliantly shameless, shamelessly brilliant. DE Killer track: Stone Cold Love
44 WALTER TROUT
We’re All In This Together
With Trout pulling in a dazzling array of blues luminaries, you need sunglasses to read the credits of We’re All In This Together, but it’s the original tunes that make this more than an exercise in star-fucking. Whether duelling with JoBo, cutting heads with Kenny Wayne Shepherd or goading slide maestro Sonny Landreth to a personal best on Ain’t Goin’ Back, camaraderie sploshes from the speakers. HY Killer track: Gonna Hurt Like Hell
Trippin’ With Dr Faustus
Amplifier continued their battle against the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune with the only album of 2017 that referenced
Hallelujah Anyhow MERGE North Carolina-based MC Taylor has been crafting guileful Americana for some years now, first with The Court & Spark and, for the past decade, as the lynchpin of Hiss Golden Messenger. With Hallelujah Anyhow,
Berdreyminn SEASON OF MIST Like its national football team, Iceland’s music scene punches above its weight these days. Sólstafir embody its more esoteric wing. All glacial heaviness, chilly atmospheres and pained vocals, Berdreyminn (it roughly translates as ‘Dreamer’) is a work of widescreen beauty, sometimes bleak but never impenetrable. If Iceland was music, this is what it would sound like. DE Killer track: Silfur Refur
both Silvio Berlusconi and Frank Sinatra. It’s quite the collection, taking 80s alt.rock and twisting it into a psychedelic beast constructed of riffs and thunder. Brilliantly recorded, it’s both savage and pretty, and – perhaps best of all – features a singer named Beth Zeppelin. FL Killer track: Old Blue Eyes
CAROLINE IN TERNATIONAL
Nearly 30 years after their excellent debut album, Gun have proved that they’re still more than capable of springing a surprise. Favourite Pleasures gets right in your face, thanks in part to new guitarist Tommy Gentry. The melodic swagger is still there, as evidenced by Silent Lovers, and the stomp of She Knows and the emotion of Tragic Heroes is real proof of a band reborn. MD Killer track: Favourire Pleasures
Emperor Of Sand REPR ISE The band’s seventh record may be a concept album, but it follows the musical template of its predecessor: fantastical imagery pinned to precise rhythms and finely tuned melodies. Guitarist Bill Kelliher lost his mother to cancer during the recording, so the album takes on the greater questions of mortality with a musical dexterity that sings, but also hits like hammer. Dazzling. PW Killer track: Steambreather
ALICE COOPER: ROB FENN/PRESS; CHRIS ROBINSON BROTHERHOOD: JAY BLAKESBERG/PRESS; KING KING: ROB BLACKHAM
Into The Woods CHERRY RED You could be forgiven for thinking that by now, 47 years after releasing their debut album, Hawkwind would be resting on their reputation as space-rock pioneers. Not a bit of it. On Into The Woods Dave Brock and co show real imagination as they conjure up visions of nature in all its glory, mystery and terror. Nobody sounds quite like Hawkwind. MD Killer track: Have You Seen Them
Walk The Earth HELL AND BACK In a year when we were all bored shitless by Brexit, it’s ironic that we couldn’t wait for the return of Europe. On Walk The Earth, Joey Tempest peppers his lyrics with an examination of democracy – as evidenced by The Siege’s proggy bombast and grooveladen lead-off single Election Day – but never loses sight of the fact that ‘we are entertainers’. And how. HY Killer track: Turn To Dust
Chris Robinson Brotherhood: California soul and sundipped psychedelia.
38 ALICE COOPER
Paranormal EARMUSIC Reunited with producer Bob Ezrin, Alice roped in some heavy-hitting allies – Billy Gibbons, Larry Mullen Jr, Roger Glover – for his first album in six years, although the biggest thrill was the partial return of original bandmates Michael Bruce, Dennis Dunaway and Neal Smith. Cue a bruising batch of riff-centric tales that found AC encountering ghouls, demons, transsexuals and the apocalypse. RH Killer track: Genuine American Girl
ROBINSON 37 CHRIS BROTHERHOOD
Barefoot In The Head SILVER ARROW While brother Rich was getting it together as The Magpie Salute, singer Chris Robinson distanced himself further from their old band the Black Crowes by continuing his exploration
Alice Cooper: a bruising batch of riff-centric tales.
of cosmic American folk and what he calls “hippie baroque”. His ensemble’s fifth album in as many years offers fried country rock, California soul and sun-dipped psychedelia, all rolled into a blissful jamband aesthetic. Balm for troubled times. RH Killer track: Blonde Light Of Morning
36 DAVID CROSBY
Sky Trails BMG Charmingly cherubic septuagenarian and former Byrd David Crosby delivered this album, the dazzling third instalment of his muse-revitalising post-CSNY solo career, and recaptured a deliciously laconic Laurel Canyon vibe along the way. Strident BS&T parps punctuate slick Steely Dan ensemble interplay, while there’s a typically sharp lyrical response to America’s contemporary political mire. With elder statesmen like Crosby still peaking, rock’s advancing years only seem irrelevant. IF Killer track: She’s Got To Be Somewhere
& 1 KING 2 GHALIA KING MAMA’S BOYS Exile & Grace
Words: Henry Yates
They threw more rocking shapes on album number four, with the influence of Thunder and Bad Company writ large on songs like Tear It All Up and (She Don’t) Gimme No Lovin’, but they’ll always have a broken-hearted blues edge in their palette. Another step up.
Let The Demons Out RUF
WAYNE 3 KENNY SHEPHERD Lay It On Down
4 OTIS TAYLOR Fantasizing About Being Black INASKUSTIK
5 CHRIS REA
Road Songs For Lovers
WAR ON 35 THE DRUGS A Deeper Understanding ATLAN TIC
America’s guitar-rock underground went overground this year, as The War On Drugs’ major-label debut hit the transatlantic Top 10. It didn’t hurt that Adam Granduciel’s influences included some of the grandest chart rock of the Reagan era. The pop nous and gloss of 80s Fleetwood Mac crept in among the widescreen yearnings of this new Philly Springsteen; if anyone’s built for a Stevie Nicks duet, it’s Granduciel. It was the way his solos slashed and drilled through his production’s highway glide, though, that confirmed his classic rock credentials. NH Killer track: In Chains
With his latest album A Deeper Understanding, Adam Granduciel has borrowed from some of the greats of the 80s and fashioned a record filled with bittersweet melodies and enveloping drama. Words: Paul Rees
he music that Adam Granduciel makes has grown more extravagant with each record he has made as The War On Drugs. For 2008’s debut, Wagonwheel Blues, he was channelling Bob Dylan gone ambient. Neil Young and Krautrock entered the landscape of the follow-up, Slave Ambient in 2011. On this year’s fourth, A Deeper Understanding, Granduciel picks up the gauntlet he laid down for himself on the much-acclaimed Lost In The Dream in 2014 and runs with it to a far-flung horizon where the 80s haven’t ended. Overall, sonically A Deeper Understanding follows in the footprints made all through that decade by artists such as Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Don Henley, Fleetwood Mac, Roxy Music, Dire Straits and Kate Bush, from whose 1989 song Granduciel took his album’s title. It contains great tidal washes of synths, pulsating bass lines, booming drums and guitar solos that soar above the whole like the fighter planes of Top Gun. Like over-inflated balloons, Granduciel fills and stretches out his songs almost to their bursting point, but never quite. It’s a precarious high-wire act. And yet for all the sheer bigness of its structural engineering, A Deeper Understanding is an intimate, immersive experience. Running through it, Granduciel establishes a singular mood of rueful regret. His bittersweet melodies rise up and tug at the listener like lost souls. In that regard, it brings to mind Dylan’s late-80s masterpiece Oh Mercy, and most of all Petty’s Long After Dark from 1982. As with each of those finely crafted records, just beneath their pristine surface are darker undercurrents and a surging sense of drama. “For sure, Long After Dark is a touchstone record for me,” Granduciel offers. “I remember a time, not even that long ago, when that period of music was reviled,” he continues, warming to his theme. “Yet the number of people that are now referencing eighties Dylan is pretty remarkable. It wasn’t intentional, but we might have had that haze floating over things. I didn’t discover all of that stuff until nine, ten years ago and when I got out of my comfort zone and started to dig a little. It was like cracking a code.”
own admission he wrote in a depressed, agitated state. Nevertheless, he had them wind up to euphoric crescendos. It was a watershed album, garnering ecstatic reviews and vaulting into the upper reaches of the US Billboard chart and going gold in the UK. “I went into Lost In The Dream maybe not knowing that I would be doing this for the rest of my life,” Granduciel reflects now. “I had just kind of fallen on to the hamster wheel of making records, but had no certainties. I love making music, and it’s important to me, but it wasn’t until that record that everything expanded and I got to be more comfortable in the role of being at the centre of this operation and running it like a small family.” After the better part of two years touring Lost In The Dream, Granduciel came off the road and went straight to work on A Deeper Understanding. He had relocated to LA by then, and in down-time from the tour had already begun to write new songs. The sessions continued all through last year in LA and then at various studios in New York, since Granduciel was “determined to put some East Coast in there.” The sense of dislocation he felt from being in California informs his lyrics for the album. Musically, he has arrived at the point of fashioning all of his abundant raw materials into something that is evocative but also distinctive. In the drift and swell of standout tracks In Chains and the 11-minute-plus Thinking Of A Place, there’s an overhanging atmosphere and stridency that is very much of Granduciel and War On Drugs’ own making. “There is a sound in my mind that I haven’t got to yet,” Granduciel insists. “I know it’s there, and that I have to keep on chipping away to find it. On this record, some of the jam stuff was more composed. They were actual sets of notes, rather than just fuzzpedal time. Like on Thinking Of A Place we went on moving and rearranging things to fit within a framework. For my solo on that song I pictured driving into a bank of fog and wanted to recreate mist enveloping the guitar.” The War On Drugs hit the road a couple of months ago, beginning with a US tour, and arrived in the UK in November for a six-date run. Granduciel fleshing out their sets to two and a half hours and more. Perhaps somewhere in the ebb and flow of these marathon workouts he will locate his ultimate sound. “It’s not possible to have the exact same timeline as someone else, but I can’t help think to myself: ‘So, what was Bruce doing at thirty-eight?’” he concludes. “He was making Tunnel Of Love. By that age Dylan had already done Street Legal. I’m not there yet. “When I started out on this record, it was right when Bruce had put out The River box set. I have Sirius Radio in my car and would drive around listening to E Street Radio, which is all-Bruce, all the time. Of course, they were playing a lot of The River stuff, and that was a big inspiration. Even though he was seven, eight years younger than me at the time, he found himself at a crossroads, looking at his own life, and other lives and where they fit into the grand scheme of things. I took that to heart, but even still, I think I’ve only just scratched at the surface of what might be possible.”
“I think I’ve only just scratched at the surface of what might be possible.”
orn thirty-eight years ago in New England town of Dover, Massachusetts, Granduciel first went west at the start of this century, taking with him his guitar and an eight-track recorder and settling in Oakland, California. He worked on his music by day and waited tables at night, but didn’t cop a break and eventually moved back east again to Philadelphia. There he met a fellow Dylan obsessive, Kurt Vile. Granduciel played in Vile’s band The Violators, and Vile initially joined up with the War On Drugs when Granduciel began operating under that name in 2005. Progress was slow but steady. Their 2008 album Wagonwheel Blues got them noticed, but Vile left soon after its release to concentrate on his own path. Granduciel insisted all along that he made solo records with help, and around him other musicians came and went. He had, though, established a more settled line-up by the time he knuckled down to make Lost In The Dream. Bassist Dave Hartley and drummer Charlie Hall in particular underpinned these more rounded and better realised songs of Granduciel’s, which by his
A Deeper Understanding is available now via Atlantic Records. CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 31
Lionize: rock’n’roll and some beautifully realised soul music.
30 MARILYN MANSON Heaven Upside Down LOMA VISTA
It shouldn’t come as any surprise that with the imminent global apocalypse forming mushroom clouds of dread on the horizon, Marilyn Manson found vintage form with Heaven Upside Down, an album that ranks among his very best. Following the drone-through-the-letterbox fanfare of lead single We Know Where You Fucking Live, it customarily substitutes ‘Say10’ for ‘God’, marks the passing of Manson’s father with the epic Saturnalia and twists Mechanical Animals through an Antichrist Superstar filter. Where has rock’s rage gone? Here. IF Killer track: We Know Where You Fucking Live
34 STEVE HACKETT
32 CATS IN SPACE
33 RAY DAVIES
The Night Siren INSIDEOU T In recent times Steve Hackett has really embraced the notion of progressing, and The Night Siren is a thrilling representation of this. It’s experimental in musical nuances and themes, as he brings into focus a vision of humanity overcoming prejudice, by bringing in instrumentation from around the globe. Proof that the former Genesis man is far more than a ‘mere’ guitar virtuoso. MD Killer track: El Nino
Americana SONY LEGAC Y Billed as Davies’s first new songs for a decade, Americana also reaches back to unrecorded Kinks music. Its lyrics span his bittersweet history with the USA, from being inspired by blues and jazz to getting shot by a mugger, while its best song, Poetry, is another anthem against the modern world’s fuckery. With the Jayhawks giving him with his first proper band since The Kinks, this is in many ways Davies’s best solo album, built from a lifetime’s studio and song craft. NH Killer track: Poetry
Words: Jo Kendall
1 PETER HAMMILL
Nuclear Soul THE END Lionize are probably best-known here as Clutch’s contemporaries, but their history actually stretches back more than a decade. This, their latest – and best – album is as much Thin Lizzy and Free as it is Solomon Burke and R&B, all topped off by the smoky and occasionally raw vocals of vocalist Nate Bergman filtered over Hammond organ, a relentless snare drum, rock’n’roll and some beautifully realised soul music. PW Killer track: Blindness To Danger
causticity creeping in on tracks such as Reputation and Milked, balanced with the vulnerability of staring mortality straight in the eye.
2 ENSLAVED 3 PYE HASTINGS 4 KAIRON;IRSE! 5 LIFESIGNS E NUCLEAR BLAST
From The Half House CARAVAN
The former Brian Warner talks about his new record, life, death, record company interference and painting with piss. Interview: Marcel Anders
isten to the album, it really grows on you – like herpes.” Marilyn Manson says when we meet at Soho House in Berlin. We’re here to talk about his latest album, Heaven Upside Down – made with producer/instrumental mastermind Tyler Bates – but a conversation with the selfstyled God Of Fuck is always going to include a few curveballs. Conversation veers to from new music to Wal-Mart, mortality, his collection of razors and… eating leeches. The man no longer known to anyone as Brian Warner (since his parents died, his mother in 2014, his father in July this year) could never be accused of being dull.
The new album is reminiscent of your albums Antichrist… and Mechanical Animals, but I’d assume you’re not looking back on purpose. I think that I wanted to make cinematic albums when I made those two. And they were both dangerous in different ways. One was in New Orleans – Antichrist Superstar – where I was completely in a state of nihilism and… well, ‘nihilism’ might not be the right word. I was in a state of wanting to make things change in the world. For Mechanical Animals I moved to Los Angeles, and I was pissed off at the fact that they were going to make me into something I wasn’t, so I wrote a record about it before it happened. This record is more of me – after
LIONIZE: WILL IRELAND
From The Trees THIRD MAN Tempus fugit for Van der Graaf’s 69-year-old mainman, reflected in ten stripped-back tracks dealing with life, death and other ‘tales along the way’. Using guitar, piano and otherworldly chorale, Hammill presents an almost avant-folk version of Blackstar,
Scarecrow HARMONY FACTORY Cats In Space are an anomaly. They’re a group whose combined music biz experience rivals that of the Stones, yet this second album sounds completely fresh despite apparently choosing to ignore anything that’s happened in music since about 1978, when rock’s most magnificent dinosaurs dominated the charts. It’s smart and shiny, filled with seemingly effortlessly composed songs and harmonies that rival AOR’s finest. FL Killer track: Felix & The Golden Sun
making Pale Emperor, which still will be one of my favorite records because it gave me back my swagger as a singer. It gave me back my confidence as being able to sing and being able to do things and handle loss and handle things, and not let it affect my music, in a literal sense. Pale Emperor was the opening act for this record, I think, in some ways. One of the strongest lines on it is: ‘I write songs to fight and songs to fuck to,’ on Jesus Crisis. ‘If you want to fight, I fight you. If you want to fuck, I fuck you.’ I debated that song, the lyric, at first. I think that I probably wrote it down as a post-it note and put it on my refrigerator, just as a ‘to do’ list… [chuckles] That’s kind of a joke, but essentially I wrote it down, and it’s a basic manifesto of myself. It’s like my resume: I write songs to fight and to fuck to.
but I say: ‘Let’s grab our gold switchblade, and make us a blood pact, babe.’ That’s the first time on the record where it becomes romantic. And it’s strangely a pop song which they want to put on radio, and it’s going to say ‘kill, kill, kill for me’ [chuckles] on radio. I find it to be sardonic, in the same way as Bowie and Iggy Pop when they, here in Berlin, did The Idiot and Low and these things. It has that sense of sarcasm disguised in a pop song. And you’re not hiding behind a character or a concept? No, it’s just me, it’s unafraid to be me. They said to make a radio clean version of it. I said fuck you. So we made one that is just: ‘We fuck, where you fucking fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck for me…’ We gave it to the record label and said go fuck yourself. Cos it takes away the whole beauty of the record. It’s not about profanity, it’s just about… like: why would you take something that’s pure and great and honest… And they said: [mumbling] “Well, Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart wants a clean version.” We all know Wal-Mart sells guns, and I just said: “Listen, if your parents give you money to buy a record, and you want to go buy a clean version at Wal-Mart, you should go buy a gun and purchase a clean record elsewhere with the gun on your own terms. No suggestions implied here, but I’m just saying…” [chuckles].
“A lot of people think [the new album] has a threatening sexual tension to it.”
Well it’s a pretty aggressive yet sexy album, isn’t it? I wanted it to be both of those things. A lot of people that I played it for initially thought it has an implying feel of threat to it, a threatening sexual tension to it. And I said: “So do I” [laughs].
‘I know where you fucking live’ is a threat, for sure. Or it is a new Uber commercial? [chuckles.] If it’s ‘I know where you fucking live,’ then it would be more of a stalker; but ‘We know where you fucking live’ is just… I was very, very aware, very specific about pronouns while making this record. I was very conscious of that for the first time, cos I realised how important it is when you say words like that. Like in the song Kill 4 Me, the title has ‘me’, so it’s sort of an open-ended statement. It’s not really a commandment,
Why did you change the original title, Say10? I think that first of all, you get both: Say10 [the song] is still on the record. I thought it didn’t define the album as much, and I had not yet written Heaven Upside Down. I think ‘Heaven Upside Down’ really creates a question mark. More than ‘Say10’. When you see ‘Say10’ it seems more clever than when you just say it, and CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 33
I thought phonetically – in different languages, different countries – it wouldn’t be as descriptive of the album as ‘Heaven Upside Down’. Cos when people ask me what ‘Heaven Upside Down’ is, it’s a question that I can’t really answer, because it was inspired partially by reading about Carcos and books like Robert Chambers’s The King In Yellow. And the idea that the Chilean astronomers used to make the constellations based on the negative space, not the stars. So ‘Heaven Upside Down’ was just something that came to me.
of 2015’s Traveller with an album of armour-plated songs that expertly straddle the divide between country classicism and blustery southern rock.
Words: Rob Hughes
1 CHRIS STAPLETON
All American Made
From A Room: Volume 2 DECCA/MERCURY NASHVILLE
How was playing Satan’s best friend in the Salem TV series? Actually, I didn’t really watch the show as much as I should have [chuckles]. Well, it’s very strange when you’re on a show, you’re there. Sometimes you’ll watch the playback, but things change. So when you watch it, it seems a little narcissistic and self-indulgent. But also it wasn’t a show that I found to be the most interesting of things I want to do. But I completely enjoyed doing it, made a lot of good friends doing it, and everyone was great to work with. The role of [barber/surgeon] Thomas Dinley seems tailor made for you, doesn’t it? It was fun, yeah. I enjoyed it. And I told Johnny [Depp]: “So, you were in Sweeney Todd?” And I told him about the role, and he asked me if I wanted to borrow his Sweeney Todd razor, and I’m like: “I don’t think that that will be historically accurate to this show, but I appreciate the offer.” But it’s strange, because I do collect straight razors. I have a collection of them, unrelated to the show.
Amid a Nashville scene dominated by lame bro country, it’s bracing to discover that some crossover artists still dig a little deeper. With From A Room: Volume 2 former Music Row songwriter Chris Stapleton makes good on the promise
2 MARGO PRICEK 3 RODNEY CROWELL 4 NIKKI LANE HANDSOME 5 THE FAMILY
Close Ties NEW WEST
Highway Queen NEW WEST
What’s happening with your painting? Your last exhibition was in 2014. Are you planning on having any more? Yeah, I haven’t done one in such a long time, and it’s my own fault. But I did not stop painting. I have about sixty-five paintings that no one’s seen. Half of them are allblack tattoo ink that I used, and I think I mixed some of those with vodka or urine. Not to be controversial, just because it was the only fluid available. Cos I’m drinking, painting, run out of water, I got piss or vodka – pick one or the other. The other ones are very pale and pastel. So they’re beautifully contrasting.
“I don’t want to waste my time fighting, arguing or doing things I don’t want to do.”
Rumour has it that Dinley’s ‘treatment room’ looks just like your living room. Is that true? Well, my living room is not that dirty, and I don’t have much of things in jars, exactly. But there were a lot of medical instruments, and they did give me this sign as a gift, which said something like ‘Shaves/Teeth pulling/Enemas’. Which is an odd assortment of things. Did you actually eat leeches while you were shooting the TV series on location? They wouldn’t let me eat the entire leech, I had to spit it out. There was a “leech wrangler” – someone who defended the rights of a what I believe to be a spineless creature. When I was a kid I used to put salt on leeches all the time. They would just shrivel up. That was enjoyable for me, but that’s also probably portraying one of my early psychopathic behavior characteristics [chuckles]. And they wouldn’t let me swallow it. Do you take acting seriously, or is it just a fun thing for you? I’m going to take it more seriously. I mean, I’ve always taken it seriously, I just want to do more of it. I have a couple of things that I plan on doing at the beginning of the year. Odd things involving friends of mine who are actors and directors. And challenging roles. Very challenging. I’m really stepping out of my safe zone. But it’s my own version of Halloween. I can’t do anything on Halloween, so I’m fucked on Halloween. So instead I get to act [chuckles].
Does it? Or does it make Marilyn Manson redundant, in a way? It makes it no different than before, I don’t think. Whenever there’s politics that are so overwhelmingly consuming in everyone’s everyday life, people will say to me: “Hey, did you see what happened today in politics?” No. I was asleep. I don’t want to talk about that, it’s redundant – everyone else is talking about that. So I’d rather talk about something else. So people perceive things on the record as being commentaries on politics, and that’s one way of looking it. I’m sure that’s part of my unconscious, but not more so than before; I think less than before. This time my main focus was making beats that were appealing to people, and then putting beautiful orchestration around my lyrics so that it was cinematic. Have you thought about turning fifty? And if you have is that a scary thought for you? No, no, no. With the loss of my dad and my mom and things of that nature, which don’t need to be morbid, I don’t think it gave me a sense of mortality, it gave me a sense that time is relevant, that I don’t want to waste my time fighting, arguing or doing things I don’t want to do. I just want to spend my time doing great things. Because who knows what’s going to happen next? Marilyn Manson plays U K dates from December 4 to 9. Heaven Upside Down is out now via Loma Vista.
So far your acting roles have almost all been villains. Is that your niche? Not necessarily. I think that I’m going to be a very sympathetic hero in one film that I want to do. And I think in another one I’m going to play a woman [chuckles]. Not a man as a woman, but just a woman.
You’ve been portraying the ugly American for so long now, and you’ve got Trump, who represents just that: the ugly, arrogant, angry American… Makes my job easier!
Cadillac Three: if it ain’t broke…
VON 23 HERTZEN BROTHERS War Is Over MASCOT On something of a roll after previous albums Nine Lives and the thunderous New Day Rising, with War Is Over, the Von Hertzen Brothers embraced both their prog roots (e.g. the thrilling 12-minute title track) and slick rock/pop with tracks like The Arsonist and Frozen Butterflies – think the Foo Fighters if Dave Grohl had grown up in Helsinki. Pop, prog and pomp all in one album is a good trick if you can manage it – ask the Brothers. PW Killer track: War Is Over
26 THE CADILLAC THREE
LINDSEY 28 BUCKINGHAM/ CHRISTINE McVIE
25 ROYAL BLOOD
Hippopotamus BMG With their 23rd studio album, pop’s finest purveyors of surrealist, baroque’n’roll found themselves back in the UK Top 10 for the first time since 1974’s Propaganda. Hippopotamus is a sublimely silly showcase for Russell Mael’s wry falsetto and brother Ron’s straight-faced but askew musings on sexual positions, excitable populaces and fear of dementia, and Sparks’ strongest record for years. PL Killer track: Edith Piaf (Said It Better Than Me)
Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie ATLAN TIC
As a way of easing McVie back into songwriting, this album worked a treat, her signature breezy melodies neatly counterpointing Buckingham’s intricate guitar finger-picking. It may have been recorded at the same studio as Tusk, but this is strictly about songs, not sonic exploration. With contributions from Mick Fleetwood and John McVie, it’s a Mac album in all but name. PL Killer track: In My World
Prisoner PAX-AM/BLUE NOTE On his sixteenth solo album Ryan Adams returns to a world of heartache – in the best possible way. Written after his split from his wife, Prisoner sees Adams draw again on themes of loss and love, his voice sounding Dylan-esque in places. From the epic Do You Still Love Me? through the alt.country likes of To Be Without You and 80s power-balladry of Doomsday, it’s an expert blend of arena-ready triumph and rootsy pain. PG Killer track: Do You Still Love Me?
Legacy BIG MACHINE Following 2016’s expansive, Springsteenesque Bury Me In My Boots, Legacy sees the Nashville trio mix some of those tendencies with their familiar country-fuzz tales of liquor, girls and Tennessee. It’s hardly a departure from what TC3 already know, but when they do it this well who’s complaining? Especially when the shit-kicking likes of Cadillacin’ are offset by sweetly stirring tracks such as Hank And Jesus. Good times. PG Killer track: Cadillacin’ How Did We Get So Dark? WARNER They were the rock scene’s toast of 2014, but could the Brighton pair repeat the trick? This follow-up is emphatic proof that you don’t need to evolve when you can bring the hooks and shake the rafters. And while the duo were on familiar ground with seismic gems like Lights Out and I Only Lie When I Love You, complaining about a faint whiff of repetition is like saying you’re bored of visceral brilliance. HY Killer track: Lights Out
Koyo 88 WAT T Young Leeds band Koyo have managed the enviable feat of blending prog, psychedelia and shoegazing noisescapes into the same intoxicating sonic package, and this debut album suggests it’s just the start. The epic vistas of Strange Bird In The Sky open the record in breathtaking style, there are echoes of Dark Side-era Floyd and The Verve, and they also make inventive use of samples and veer into math-rock territory. A band for whom anything seems possible. JS Killer track: Strange Bird In The Sky
After being close to calling it a day, working on latest album War Is Over convinced them that they still had something to say. Interview: Philip Wilding
t’s been a tumultuous 12 months or so for Von Hertzen Brothers. Since 2015’s New Day Rising album the band have ditched their label, changed management, lost band members and even contemplated the end of VBH. They took a sabbatical, took stock, and asked questions about the potency and point of the songs they write. Put simply: they had something of an existential crisis. Thankfully the soul searching has paid off with the wondrous War Is Over, arguably their best album yet. Mikko Von Hertzen looks back over those troubled times and talks about the new album. It sounds like the band was in a state of flux following New Day Rising, which is surprising given how strong the record is. We were. The album did well, but at the same time all the people around us – management, the label – lacked any real enthusiasm. It was almost like they didn’t know what to do with us. It was such a pity, as we put a lot of effort and time and money into that album, but somehow we felt like an end of an era was looming. The guys that used to be with us started looking for other bands to play with and it was all very confusing. We didn’t know what to do next. It was like the house of cards that we’d built for all these years had suddenly started coming down. It was a rough time for us. Is that why you took the sabbatical? Was there a point where you sat down and had to decide where to go with the band? We did a ten-year anniversary tour in Finland last year for the
Approach album, and after that we took a break, you know, “No one talk about the band. Let’s take a few months off and then we sit down and start discussing what we might do in the future.” And that’s what we did, and we said everybody write their own songs, and if it so happens that we feel there’s something in the songs, that the light that’s been smothered is still in there somewhere, if that starts to burn and we feel that we need to do those songs, then we do it, but only then.
in the middle of the forest and you can dip yourself in the sea. We did the pre-production there and all my vocals. We built this mobile booth with mattresses everywhere to deaden the sound. It’s a less regimented album than New Day Rising. Definitely, because Garth Richardson, who produced NDR, is from that school of thinking that everything has to be rigidly organised and very tightly arranged. He took that to an extreme level, and that’s not familiar territory to us. Whereas with this, because we produced it ourselves, it was more like, let’s have a fucking guitar solo on every song! And it was fun to do it like that. Some of the takes that ended up on the album were live takes. I think we were reacting to how we did the last record.
And if those songs hadn’t sparked do you think it would have been the end of the band? Yeah, we were talking about that. The thing is, we did have quite high expectations for New Day Rising, and there was bound to be some disappointment. We kind of thought this album is so good that it has to take us to the next level, and when it didn’t do that it was kind of like, “Uh… what shall we do now?” I think we were looking at it as the album to galvanise us and the people around us, and it fell far short of that.
“War Is Over is a such a warm record. It’s the sound of a band being true to themselves.”
The album title reflects its themes: a plea for understanding and peace. The world we live in now is such a different place from even five years ago, and that’s seeping into the music, even if I don’t write about politics in my songs. But you can’t avoid letting these things affect you, so you need to say something about how we treat each other. I want to take a stand, and we have to be patient that this will end and that we are going to find peace; that we don’t have to be engulfed by this fear and insecurity.
So the War Is Over sessions brought the band back to life? That space, the being apart, made us realise that we still had something to say. We were sending songs back and forth and they were good songs. That was like a reboot for the band. You wrote and recorded a lot of the record at your grandfather’s old cottage outside Helsinki. It’s a beautiful place, two hours outside of the city; he bought it without even seeing the place. One of his friends went out with a boat and looked at it from the sea; there were no roads leading to that place. This was forty or fifty years ago. Now it’s this incredible spot where we go to write. There are no neighbours, it’s
Defences are down: brothers Kie, Mikko and Jonne.
War Is Over is still relatively fresh, but how does the album sound to you now? I think we really succeeded on this album. Everything is so processed now and I hate that, so it was important that we capture the human behind the instrument on this record. I don’t want to dismiss our previous albums, and it may be narcissistic to say this, but I think this our best album of our career, I really do. It’s such a warm record. It’s the sound of a band being true to themselves. CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 37
22 BENJAMIN BOOKER
Witness ROUGH TRADE Righteous ire is a rare commodity in modern rock, so it’s refreshing to see this New Orleans songwriter add a little topical spice to his southern gumbo of blues, soul, and gospeltinged rock’n’roll. On the title track soul legend Mavis Staples helps sing a powerful treatise on police violence against young black men, and the dilemma anyone with a conscience has when deciding whether to be a passive bystander or join the resistance. Believe ploughs a similarly spiritual vein, but if that suggests the punk vigour of Booker’s debut had mellowed, the stomping Right On You shows otherwise in thrilling style. JS Killer track: Right On You
BRYANT 21 TYLER & THE SHAKEDOWN
Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown SNAKEFARM Tyler Bryant’s journey from teen Texan blues prodigy to 20-something modern rock’n’roll flagbearer is a welcome transformation. On his and The Shakedown’s second album, all the lessons he learned from supporting AC/DC and Guns N’Roses have been put to good use; Heartland, Don’t Mind The Blood and Jealous Me are unswerving in their dedication to the cause, powered by the unrelenting energy that only youth can bring. DE Killer track: Don’t Mind The Blood
ROGER WATERS Is This The Life We Really Want?
No one does ‘furious old dude’ like Roger Waters. The former Floyd man’s first rock album in 27 years is a seething broadside that takes aim at the stupidity of government, society and, ultimately, people. Credit to producer Nigel Godrich for giving it a warmth that pulls everything back from the brink of total despair. Still, it’s the sharpest protest album of the Trump era so far. The disappointment is that more people aren’t taking up cudgels and joining Waters on the front line. DE Killer track: The Last Refugee
19PROPHETS OF RAGE
Interview: Johnny Sharp
ianos don’t tend to feature that prominently in these pages compared to guitars. But if anyone has proved this year that it can still take centre stage in a great rock’n’roll show, it’s Philadelphia five-piece Low Cut Connie. Their first UK release, Dirty Pictures (Part One) showed they can make a righteous racket on record too, with ivoryhammering anthems, louche boogies and the odd tender ballad thrown into the mix. As they embark on their first ever UK tour, we talk to stool-climbing, rabble-rousing singer Adam Weiner about why it’s a great way to end the year. How has 2017 been for Low Cut Connie? We’re the busiest we’ve ever been. We’ve played eighty shows this year, and the tent keeps expanding and we get new fans every day. We just played a big homecoming show in Philly about a month ago. There’s a huge venue that opened the same year we started as a band [Union Transfer], and I remember saying: “Jeez, I wonder if I’ll ever get the chance to play there, and people will come and fill it.” It’s taken us five or six years, but we did it.
What other high points were there for you and the band this year? Well, Elton John calling my cellphone, that wasn’t bad! Elton has a radio show called Rocket Hour, and he played our song Dirty Water and said some very lovely things about our band. I wrote a thank you letter and was able to get it to him, and then his producer called and said Elton would like to call you and interview you on the show. So he called me and we just hit it off, talking about life on the road, naming our pianos,
who our favourite rock’n’roll piano players are, all sorts of stuff. Is Elton an influence on you? Of course! I learned from him to just have no fear, and when you go on stage light a fire. He got that from Little Richard and Jerry Lee, and he carried the torch for that and I’m trying to do the same. Any low points this year? I lost a dear friend this year, Jessi from a great Nashville rock’n’roll band called Those Darlings. In our song Revolution Rock’n’roll, I question this rock’n’roll life that I lead, and then eventually rededicate it. So when we played in Nashville I dedicated that song to her, and I also rededicated myself to carrying on something that she was trying to do and did so well. If you think about it there are fewer and fewer rock’n’roll bands out there; it’s not necessarily the height of the rock’n’roll era. So it’s all the more important that we try to keep it alive. The video for Revolution Rock’n’roll was shot at a hometown show you did in Philadelphia, and what looks like quite a party afterwards. Are a lot of your shows like that? Well, I guess you’ll find out when we play in the UK in December, won’t you? This is Low Cut Connie’s first UK tour, so I can’t fuckin’ wait. You guys are the best. Nobody loves rock’n’roll more than you guys, and we’re gonna make the walls shake. Low Cut Connie tour the U K from December 1 to 10. For details visit lowcutconnie.com/live
LOW CUT CONNIE: MARA ROBINSON/PRESS
Prophets Of Rage CONCORD MUSIC Last year, guitarist Tom Morello said Prophets Of Rage were “determined to confront this mountain of electionyear bullshit”. And now this debut album from RATM alumni alongside Chuck D and Cypress Hill’s B-Real sounds no less relevant, and when they really turn on the turbo drive, on tracks such as the lurching Hail To The Chief and the thunderfunk groover Take Me Higher, they’re
They’re rapidly gaining momentum and fans in the US for the live shows, and Elton John doesn’t phone just any band to tell them he digs their new album.
like a street-corner ranter who you’d gladly stand at the barricades with. JS Killer track: Unfuck The World
18 THE MAGPIE SALUTE
The Magpie Salute (live) EAGLE ROCK They might be steeped in a vision of rock’n’soul that can be carbon-dated to around 1972, but this debut from former Black Crowes guitarist Rich Robinson’s new collective showcases a gentler sound. Recorded live in the studio, this debut has an irresistibly warm, organic sound, enhancing languid jams through covers of Faces and Floyd tunes, old Crowes tracks and jazzy instrumentals. The sole new song, Omission, also suggests the potential for a gutsier sound if this proves to be more than just a busman’s holiday for Robinson. JS Killer track: Omission
17 CHEAP TRICK
We’re All Alright! BIG MACHINE Hot on the heels of 2016’s Bang, Zoom, Crazy… Hello came this, veterans Cheap Trick’s 18th studio album. The title might nod to the band’s 1978 classic hit Surrender, but We’re All Alright! does more than rehash former glories. Robin Zander continues to deliver his throaty rasp, while Anglophile guitarist Rick Nielsen tosses out power-pop riffs with aplomb, from the Kinks-ish Long Time Coming to Nowhere, the latter a piledriving boogie worthy of the Quo. PL Killer track: Nowhere
STEVEN WILSON To The Bone
JIM JONES & THE RIGHTEOUS MIND: JAMES SHARROCK; STEVEN WILSON: WILL IRELAND
CAROLINE IN TERNATIONAL
With this, his fifth solo album and debut UK Top-Three entry, the prog polymath and 5.1 mixer to the stars finally achieved the mainstream penetration he craved. To The Bone matches prog extrapolation with pop concision. On Permanating, Wilson manages to contrive the ELO/ABBA melodic confection of his boyhood fantasies. Elsewhere there’s the moody riffing of People Who Eat Darkness and the Zeppelin-ish grandeur of The Same Asylum As Before. Overall it’s a richly textured, expertly crafted delight. PL Killer track: Nowhere Now
15 LOW CUT CONNIE
Dirty Pictures (Part 1) CON TENDER Undisputed pioneers of the campaign to bring bonkers piano playing back into rock’n’roll, this Philadelphia quintet do their mission the power of good on this fourth album. Ivoryhammering frontman Adam Weiner turns gutsy R&B grooves such as Revolution
Jim Jones & The Righteous Mind: a collection of rare and feral intensity.
Rock’n’Roll and Stonesy struts like Dirty Water into irresistible anthems by the sheer power of his rabble-rousing personality. Already one of the most exciting live bands in America, this album captures their frenzied, filthy essence better than ever before. JS Killer track: Revolution Rock’n’Roll
beautiful as it is smart. If anyone asks you about the state of prog rock in 2017, this is the direction you should point them in. FL Killer track: A Mead Hall In Winter
Infinite EARMUSIC Purple pulled off quite a trick with this record, maintaining their latecareer purple patch by revisiting the classic 70s sound. Singer Ian Gillan’s lyrics might prompt a few sniggers (On Top Of The World, we’re looking at you) but the strength of music is undeniable: a progflavoured, neo-classical rave-up whose ambition never comes at the expense of a hard rock backbone. With original songs as strong as Time For Bedlam and Hip Boots, hopefully that long goodbye they’re currently waving has a few more years left in it. HY Killer track: Time For Bedlam
JONES & THE 14JIM RIGHTEOUS MIND
Super Natural HOUND GAWD! Stoking the funeral pyre of the much lamented Jim Jones Revue into a raging inferno of hellacious swampland ultra-boogie, on this debut album sonic insurrectionist Jim Jones sets flame to a collection of rare and feral intensity. Guitar ferocity perpetually strains at its leash as a broader approach to keyboard atmospherics defines The Righteous Mind’s core post-Revue dynamic. And Jones? Maturity, smoky shebeens and hard liquor have sprinkled yet more gravel into his grave and gutsy hellhound holler. IF Killer track: Boil Yer Blood
13 BIG BIG TRAIN
Grimspound ENGLISH ELECTR IC/GEP As English as village cricket, cream teas and infuriating delays on Southern Rail, Big Big Train seem to be gaining both traction and velocity as their career progresses. Grimspound takes off where its predecessor Folklore left off, elegantly turning tales of historical derring-do into a stunning series of prog-folk masterpieces. It’s ambitious without being overwrought, and as
Steven Wilson: a richly textured, expertly crafted delight.
Rip It Up EDEL After their more conventional comeback Wonder Days album, Thunder took a bit of a left turn on Rip It Up. With more introspection – No One Gets Out Alive, In Another Life – and Beach Boys pop notes in the title track, it’s the sound of a band finally coming of age: considered, musically adventurous and clearly out of their comfort zone, but in the most compelling way. Late in their career and against the odds, Thunder have managed to make one of the best and most complete albums of their career so far. PW Killer track: The Enemy Inside CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 39
rare. Referencing Led Zeppelin is almost inevitable. In this case not for their chestbeating machismo or bludgeoning blues template, but for their alchemical invention, their improvisational hive brain and a magpie’s eye for raw material, sourced from across the musical spectrum then realised in a signature style that is utterly unmistakable. It’s all too easy to assume that they simply don’t make rock bands like All Them Witches any more, that rock this classic belongs to a lost era. But Sleeping Through The War is right here, right now. IF Killer track: Don’t Bring Me Coffee
8 BLACK STAR RIDERS
Royal Thunder: he wasn’t called the Human torch for no reason.
Into The Great Unknown EARMUSIC Let’s not kid ourselves. Hard rock has been holding out for a new set of heroes ever since the end of the 80s. The last few decades are littered with the corpses of bands – invariably Swedish – whose desire to become the new Def Leppard or Journey were thwarted by indifference, lack of talent or both. Thankfully, five streetwise Hercules have arrived to awake the giant from its slumber. Into The Great Unknown, H.e.a.t’s fifth album, is the sound of a band standing victorious atop the fallen bodies of everyone who came before, brandishing the finest hard rock record since those halcyon days. It has ambition, tunes and charisma to burn – Redefined, Eye Of The Storm and
the blockbusting banger Time On Our Side crackle with the energy of 10,000 exploding stars. Suddenly the future for the genre looks very bright indeed. DE Killer track: Redefined
9 ALL THEM WITCHES
Sleeping Through The War NEW WEST Following a three-album gestation period of no little merit, Nashville band All Them Witches have realised their full potential in significant style with Sleeping Through The War. There’s a brooding gravitas to scenesetting opener Bulls that immediately snags the listener and, via a climactic crescendo of spiralling psychedelic telepathy, reveals intuitive ensemble interplay and a towering assurance that is increasingly
1 LIONHEART Words: Dave Ling
Black Star Riders: quality is everywhere.
Second Nature AOR HEAVEN It’s the pink and furry rock’n’roll fairy tale to end them all: obscure UK pomp-rockers reunite for a festival after 30 years away, and enjoy things so much they decide to make an album. You couldn’t make it up, but that’s what actually happened with
Lionheart. No ugly sisters or pumpkins necessary.
2 HEAVEN & EARTH
Hard To Kill QUARTO VALLEY
3 ECLIPSE 4 MR. BIG 5 BOULEVARD
Monumentum FRON TIERS
Defying Gravity FRON TIERS
Boulevard IV – Luminescence MELODIC ROCK
Heavy Fire NUCLEAR BLAST Any lingering sense of Black Star Riders as a Thin Lizzy fan’s consolation prize was blown away by their third album, Heavy Fire, which reached a career-best UK No.6 back in February. On first inspection, little has changed since 2015’s The Killer Instinct – from the vintage sleeve art to Nick Raskulinecz’s whip-cracking production – but something has plainly clicked in the Riders’ creative approach, making this the most consistent record of their five-year run. Quality is everywhere, from the highvelocity title track and the anthemic When The Night Comes In – hands-down the catchiest singalong they’ve written – to the glowering Cold War Love. And if there are nods to the Phil Lynott era on Dancing With The Wrong Girl – not to mention a cheeky half-steal of The Beatles’ riff and title on Ticket To Ride – the impression is still of a band with a bullet-belt full of ideas. HY Killer track: Dancing With The Wrong Girl
7 ROYAL THUNDER
WICK SPINEFARM Royal Thunder are the best band you’ve (probably) not heard this year, and this, their third album, is epic in its sound and painful in its soul-baring emotion. The Atlanta fourpiece draw on a disparate array of sounds, from 70s metal to The Doors, from psychedelia to the music of singer/bassist Mlny Parsonz’s Spanish heritage, and this neither-fish-nor-flesh approach makes them a more intriguing proposition than so many of their more straight-down-theline peers. The bombastic Tied whips up a whirlwind, and plaintive ballad Plans brings it all back down to earth again. Everything on this record is tied together by Parsonz’s remarkable voice – a cavernous holler that can fill a room while breaking your heart at the same time. It’s wrong to call Royal Thunder her band – that does a disservice to guitarist Josh Weaver – but she’s the one who takes WICK to another level. DE Killer track: Plans
6 BASH & POP
Anything Could Happen
As the final Replacements tour began its all-too-predictable descent into rancour and recrimination, one could be forgiven for assuming that the last thing bassist Tommy Stinson would do was go and record an album that sounded like the band at their brilliant, ramshackle best. But Anything Can Happen is vibrant, life-affirming proof that anything can happen. It’s essentially a collection of enormously buoyant songs about intoxication and heartache, which in less capable hands might have proved to be a clumsy, ham-fisted mess. But the album fizzes with energy and proves that true rock’n’roll DNA isn’t easily misplaced. Unfuck You might just be the most jubilant song ever to feature swearing in the chorus, while Can’t Be Bothered sounds like Replacements frontman Paul Westerberg at his boozy, melancholic best. Joyous. FL Killer track: Unfuck You
With a tour and an outstanding album that have brought them many new fans, it’s been a year to remember for Tommy Stinson and his band. Interview: Fraser Lewry
fter spending 15 years as bassist in The Replacements and the best part of two decades propping up Guns N’ Roses, Bash & Pop mainman Tommy Stinson knows a thing or two about rock’n’roll. “It’s the only thing I can fall back on,” he admits. “I could experiment with all kinds of different shit all day long, and it’ll just sound like someone who’s fooling around too much. I just wanted to make it fun. I wanted to make a rock’n’roll album,” he says of Bash & Pop’s latest record, Anything Can Happen. It’s a slightly bedraggled, all-in-it-together affair, written from the point of view that the world is a half-empty glass but performed like it’s half-full. Much like Stinson’s original band. “The thing that stands out to me is the camaraderie of it all,” says Stinson. “The way I made this record with these guys was to use the early eighties recording template I was familiar with; it’s spontaneous, it’s fun and it’s not too over-thought.” Classic Rock catches up with Stinson just after Bash & Pop have just come off a five-week US tour with the Psychedelic Furs, and seems happy with the progress his band are making. “It was a good fit,” he says. “We’re a little bit more traditional rock’n’roll, so it was interesting to see their crowd take to us so well.” One of the highlights of Stinson’s year came in June, when the Bash & Pop tour wound its way to The Garage in North London. During a typically buoyant set, the band
were joined on stage by the Only Ones’ Peter Perrett and John Perry for a riotous version of that band’s classic Another Girl, Another Planet. “I was fucking crazy about them,” says Stinson. “I was too young to have seen them play, because I didn’t catch on until after they’d broken up, but I was a huge fan and I love that song. Getting to meet those guys after all these years being a fan was a super fucking thrill. But to get them up on stage to play with you? It’s special if you can get that to happen. It meant the world to me.” And next year will be more of the same for Bash & Pop, says Stinson. “We’re slowly trying to build on the brand, as they say. I think we’ll probably record some new stuff at the end of the year and in the new year, and keep putting stuff out so we can keep rolling and keep touring.” But that’s not all. All four members of Bash & Pop have other gigs, and when his bandmates are unavailable Stinson fills the time by playing in a fiery acoustic duo called Cowboys In The Campfire. His partner in this venture is Chip Roberts, aka Uncle Chip, who played slide guitar on Stinson’s 2011 solo album One Man Mutiny. “We just go out in our van with our guitars and make about as much racket as two guys can make,” says Stinson. “And Tommy Stinson we have a fucking ball doing it.”
“It’s spontaneous, it’s fun and it’s not too over-thought.”
Frontman Vincent Cavanagh explains that hard work and preparation were key in the making of The Optimist, and how attention to detail can prevent regret. Interview: Fraser Lewry
nathema’s The Optimist continues the story of 2001 release A Fine Day to Exit, tracking a man who disappeared. The album combines the band’s lush, orchestrated melodies with skittering electronica perhaps more successfully than any of their previous releases. Frontman Vincent Cavanagh feels “happiness” and “relief”, and reflects on Christmas in his adopted home country, France.
How have your feelings about The Optimist changed since its release? I was happy with it then and I’m happy with it now. I’m intrigued about playing it live and the possibilities for the songs to develop a little bit. But overall I’m as happy with it as I was with Weather Systems, which is about as happy as I get. One of the reasons it’s turned out to be so complete as a body of work is how much preparation we put into it. We hired a studio in London and worked for a few months solid putting it all together. We were much more prepared for this record than previous ones, and it shows.
What do you feel when you finish an album? ‘Relief’ is the word. The only way you’re ever going to feel that is if you pay attention to the finer details and leave very little room for regret. At some point you’ve just gotta let it go, and if you’re happy at that point, you’re kinda bulletproof. I’m massively grateful that the album has done well in end-of-year polls. We put our hearts and souls into it over many months, but we don’t need that to justify it being a good record. How have the live shows been going? Unbelievable every night, but some shows have stood out, like The Bataclan in Paris, for obvious reasons. We’ve played that venue a few times, and I used to live in Paris, so it’s very close to our hearts. We did a tribute to the victims [of the November 2015 attack] and their families, and it felt right.
“I’m as happy with The Optimist as I was with Weather Systems, which is about as happy as I get.”
Your albums are always deeply personal, but this story was told via a surrogate character. Was that liberating? It allows you to see some of the subject matter as universal; the story could happen to anybody, and often does. I don’t know what we’ll do with the character now, but we could tell the backstory. I’m not sure there’s a full album in that, though. Possibly an EP. 42 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
What are you doing for Christmas? We have a short break over Christmas. I’m going to be writing music, and I imagine I’ll go to Paris and see my French family. My missus is from Paris, so we’ll have the traditional sit-down five-hour meal with lots of wine. And then we’re off to America. This album’s got a long way to run. Anathema play The Cruise To The Edge festival in February. It sets sail from Tampa on February 3. See www.cruisetotheedge.com for info.
The Optimist KSCOPE One day, if there’s any justice in this cruel world, Anathema will make an album that ‘does an Elbow’ and transports the Liverpool band into arenas and has them soundtracking swanky dinner parties. The Optimist might yet be the one that does it for them. It’s a record of adventure and crippling beauty. The stunning Springfield is a master class in restrained ambition, beginning with a simple repeated piano motif before clambering slowly towards psychedelic transcendence. San Francisco, with its skittering, acid-driven loops, sounds like the kind of distant, mysterious sound you hear at 3am at Glastonbury but can never quite locate. It’s all densely atmospheric, with walls of amplified noise matched by moments of almost unbearable quiet, pure pop craft nestling alongside hazy electronica. An actual masterpiece, cohesive and easy to love. FL Killer track: Springfield
4 ROBERT PLANT
Carry Fire NONESUCH/WARNER BROS. Plant’s solo career has taken a while to fully take hold, his 80s/90s records seemingly hampered by the expectations and baggage surrounding that old band of his. The past 10 years, however, have seen him thrive, be it on Raising Sand, his delicious album with Alison Krauss, or 2014’s majestic Lullaby And…The Ceaseless Roar. Carry Fire is no less impressive, Plant is again backed by the Sensational Space Shifters on an expert synthesis of desert blues, folk, world music and thudding rock. The songs are weighted equally between the political and the personal, with Plant’s voice carrying the weight of experience on the deft ballads. Proof positive that neither age nor time are barriers to creative endeavour. RH Killer track: New World…
3 FOO FIGHTERS
Concrete And Gold RCA/ROSWELL Depressed and writing alone in the wilderness, there were reasons to be fearful for Dave Grohl in the run-up to Concrete And Gold (even before his alarming proclamation that this ninth Foos album would be “Motörhead’s version of Sgt. Pepper”). In the event, our review deemed it “more like AC/DC having a crack at making their White Album”. If 2014’s Sonic Highways roamed the tarmac, this album thumbs the crates of vinyl. T-Shirt splices vintage soul and FM pop-rock. Sunday Rain salutes The Beatles. The title track evokes a choir-bolstered Black Sabbath, while the scabrous La Dee Da references Grohl’s hard-core roots. Before Concrete And Gold, the Foos Fighters seemed to be a busted flush. Now they sound capable of anything. HY Killer track: Run
COUNTRY 2 BLACK COMMUNION BCCIV MASCOT
The most surprising thing about BCC’s much vaunted reunion isn’t that it happened, it’s that no one stepped into their shoes during the five years they were away. But then their powerhouse fourth album proves that they’re giants in a land of pygmies. Where Glenn Hughes shouldered much of the songwriting burden in the past, here he and Joe Bonamassa are pulling in the same direction. The swaggering Over My Head floats and stings like a prize fighter, The Last Song For My Resting Place is stark Celtic blues, Collide nips at the heels of Zep’s Black Dog. BBCIV is less of a period piece, more of a showcase for the kind of timeless hard rock that no one makes any more. DE Killer track: Collide
ever one to stick to type, however successful the formula might be, Josh Homme travelled further out than usual for QOTSA’s seventh album – and it worked brilliantly. Villains sees him locate his inner disco bunny by enlisting Mark Ronson (best known for his work with Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars and Amy Winehouse) as producer. “I think maybe music people might not understand the vast overlap of curves between Ronson and Queens,” Homme explained to Rolling Stone. “If you listen to Uptown Funk you hear that tight, kind of vacuous dry sound, and that’s where I wanted to take this new Queens record. I wanted it to be like Songs For The Deaf , but looking at it with goggles on under water – that kind of clarity.” In a year when political rock was suddenly back on the agenda in the US, there’s something refreshingly perverse about QOTSA’s decision to bypass the polemic and head straight for the dancefloor instead. Villains is loaded with chrome-plated grooves, perhaps best illustrated by Feet Don’t Fail Me. Indebted to at least two eras of 70s Bowie – the strutting peacock of Young Americans and the synth-savvy overlord of Heroes – the song also comes with a fair amount of autobiography. ‘I was born in the desert, May seventeen in seventy-three/When the needle hit the groove, I commence to moving/I was chasing what’s calling me,’ Homme sings, as if all roads have led to this very point. The same playful exuberance informs Un-Reborn Again, an unapologetic piece of glam-boogie with a cast of reprobates, that echoes T.Rex’s Telegram Sam, Homme indulging in some Bolanesque imagery: Acid-Faced Jake, Evil Ol’ Scratch et al. Elsewhere the floor-shaking metal sci-fi of Head Like A Haunted House (despite its origins circa QOTSA’s 2007 album Era Vulgaris) feels like an outcrop of
Homme’s work with Iggy Pop on last year’s Post Pop Depression. There’s a string quartet for six-minute closer Villains Of Circumstance, a tune that Homme first unveiled, in acoustic form, at Meltdown festival in 2014. Homme throws himself at it wholeheartedly, adopting a Russ Mael-like falsetto for its orchestral pop flourishes, the song rising to a midway point between Queen and ELO. Villains may be more upbeat than its predecessor …Like Clockwork, but there’s still a certain degree of introspection. These are songs that address mortality, familial and romantic love, and the impermanence of things. Despite not being present, Homme has admitted that he was deeply shaken by the Bataclan attack on his other band, Eagles Of Death Metal, a couple of years ago. That seems to have sharpened his focus on the here and now – the immediacy of Villains a reflection of his desire to seize the moment. Fortress, written for his 11-year-old daughter, is as much about resilience as it is the need for sanctuary: ‘Every fortress falls, it is not the end/It ain’t if you fall, but how you rise that says who you really are.’ For all their shimmer, Queens Of The Stone Age haven’t forsaken the heavy riffs that have defined their progress since they emerged from the Palm Desert over 20 years ago. The Evil Has Landed slams along to big beats and even bigger guitars, with Homme, Troy Van Leeuwen and Dean Fertita delivering a threetiered assault. Similarly, Domesticated Animals and the bludgeoning The Way You Used To Do both tap into the mighty classicism of previous albums Rated R and Songs For The Deaf. From Bowie and Roxy Music to Kraftwerk, the Stooges and beyond, Villains is a glorious amalgam of the musical forces that continue to shape Queens Of The Stone Age’s vision. RH Killer track: The Evil Has Landed CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 43
Queens Of The Stone Age are the renegade outsiders who hijacked the mainstream. As Josh Homme and co. claim our critics’ choice of Album Of The Year for Villains, we look back on a trail of nudity, narcotics, pyromania and madness. And some great music. Words: Henry Yates Portrait: Ross Halfin
t was October 1995, and Josh Homme wanted out. Eight Hernández, and another old face re-entered the frame at that year’s years earlier, the guitarist’s teenage band Kyuss had set out SXSW festival in Texas. playing generator-powered all-nighters in the Californian Performing there to a roomful of horrified A&R people with his desert, their jams punctuated by knife-fights between latest venture, Mondo Generator, Nick Oliveri was evidently still the Mexican gangs and cops wheel-spinning over the dunes. loosest of cannons. “We walk in,” Homme told Rolling Stone, “and Later, with this fiercely DIY band now trumpeted as leaders of Nick is completely naked except for a pair of black Converse and a tenuous ‘desert-rock’ scene, signed to major label Elektra and socks. Then Nick lights this piece of paper on fire, puts something in schlepping across urban America, 22-year-old Homme felt success his mouth and turns around and blows fire right into the audience, stick in his craw. “Kyuss was starting to eat itself,” he shrugged in right through all these record people, and they’re like, ‘Ahhh!’ I look a post-mortem with LA Weekly. “I was disillusioned. Punk rock had over at Fredo and I’m like: “I’m calling in Nick right now.’” blown up in my face. What I thought it was, was a total lie.” With Oliveri on the bus, everything Queens touched turned to With Kyuss put in the ground – for now – the ever-contrary controversy, starting with a K-Mart ruckus over the debut album’s Homme set about burning his bridges. A solo deal dangled by crotch-shot sleeve art. In the end they stocked the record, which Elektra was gleefully sabotaged (“I thought: ‘Well, I’ll sing – that’ll crawled to silver sales. But it was still an unlikely development get me kicked off.’ And it did”). Just as obtuse was Homme’s move when Interscope Records showed an interest. “I think we came to to Seattle to study, his reasoning being that grunge’s epicentre was the label because of their ability to push bands like Primus,” said now so jaded that there was no risk of him being sucked into Homme. “Not a band I necessarily like, but they’re really bizarre.” another band. ” To their credit, Interscope waved through 2000’s The plan worked – for a year. But by 1996 Homme Rated R, an unlikely breakthrough album on which had hooked up with a splinter group of grunge Queens achieved gold sales while keeping the music sidemen including Soundgarden’s Ben Shepherd and equal parts diverse and perverse. With Homme often Matt Cameron, and after Mike Johnson of Dinosaur Jr delegating vocals to his crew, it was a schizophrenic got him a gig as touring guitarist for the Mark Laneganrecord that mulched, ate and puked genres, morphing fronted Screaming Trees he stopped resisting the from the wonky Leg Of Lamb, via the pig-squeal punk inevitable. “When I was driving the truck on of Quick And To The Pointless, to the morose In The Fade. Lollapalooza, I had an epiphany, like, ‘What am I doing, Josh Homme on the end of Kyuss “It’s still heavy rock music,” Homme said of going to school? Who cares if there’s too many bands? instrumentation that now included brass and steel Who cares if no one else likes my music?’” drums. “A little more melodic, robotic and psychotic.” Having put himself “back in the fire”, Homme Oliveri had a more prosaic take: “We try to take a riff returned to California with pocketfuls of new songs, ample to feed and pound it into people’s heads by doing it over and over again.” both the first two volumes of the Desert Sessions series and the selfEven so, Rated R might have sunk among the nu metal scene titled debut album by Queens Of The Stone Age. were it not for its two standout tracks. The Lost Art Of Keeping A Secret was dark and propulsive, Homme’s falsetto hook ensuring elf-financed by Homme and released in 1998, Queens Of The its crossover success. “Our record company was like: ‘This is going Stone Age was a left-turn away from the sprawling stoner-rock to be a hit,”” he told CD Now. “And I’m like: ‘A hit with whom?’ It’s of Kyuss, standouts like Regular John and Avon fusing gritty about fucking. Twenty-one-year-olds and over, maybe. They were road-movie guitars with the precision of krautrock and the band trying to shove it down the throat of thirteen-year-olds.” leader’s eerie Roy Orbison-inspired croon. Homme described the Feel Good Hit Of The Summer was a drum-scuttling stop/start affair album as “driving music” or “robot rock”, and revelled in its wider that was off-kilter but electrifying, Homme’s vocal simply cycling palette. Perhaps the most significant departure was the economy of through a list of narcotics – nicotine, Valium, Vicodin, marijuana, the Queens material, with Homme pointedly distancing himself ecstasy, alcohol, cocaine – supported by a malevolent guest spot from the “wanky thirty-minute opuses” that many Kyuss fans had from Judas Prist’s Rob Halford who sang backing vocals. hoped for to see. “I’ve always been into frustrating some percentage Released as the second single, Feel Good Hit Of The Summer was an of the audience,” he admitted. “We can’t be the same band forever.” inevitable red rag to the Wal-Mart chain – which had initially In fact, Queens and Kyuss had some DNA in common. Flanking refused to stock Rated R – and ensured Queens were cast as Homme on that debut album was his desert-era drummer Alfredo hellraisers in a damp post-millennial rock scene. While Homme
“Punk rock had blown up in my face. What I thought it was, was a total lie.”
was evasive (“It lists drugs, but it doesn’t say yes or no”), Oliveri claimed the lyrics were a fair snapshot of their ingestion. With the band’s principal members running on such heavy fuel, perhaps it was no surprise that Queens were earning a dangerous reputation on the road. In 2000 they were a square peg on the Ozzfest bill, with a sardonic Homme informing the teen-mosher crowd that “we’re not angry and we don’t rap” and later reflecting that “Ozzfest was nothing but mullets, Budweiser and free sunburns for everyone”. (Ozzy’s missus Sharon hit back in 2007 with: “I hope his dick fucking falls off so his mother can eat it”.) For now, Oliveri’s genitals were the talking point, with the bassist’s habitual on-stage nudity getting him arrested at 2001’s Rock In Rio. Another low followed in June, when a notorious set at Germany’s Rock Am Ring was marred by horrific sound and the sight of Homme in a foot cast, on painkillers, butchering a guitar handed to him that was in the wrong tuning.
“I died on an operating table. I didn’t give a shit about little things like music any more.” Josh Homme
Above: QOTSA in 2002 (l-r) Nick Oliveri, Dave Catching, Josh Homme, Dave Grohl, Mark Lanegan.
CAMERA PRESS/PHIL KNOTT
f Queens seemed outwardly chaotic, the band were prolific writers, and amassed the songs that would give their ascent another kick of speed. Released in August 2002, Songs For The Deaf would have garnered column inches in any case, given that it featured Dave Grohl on pummelling drums (“Aside from Dave Lombardo of Slayer, he’s the heaviest drummer ever,” Homme offered, “and we realise what that brings to our sound”). But the album’s reputation rests on the material; Homme noted that this third record had “the robotic feel of the first album and the groove-based song structure of the second”. Few moments in post-millennial alt.rock thrill like the explosive start of You Think I Ain’t Worth A Dollar, But I Feel Like A Millionaire (notable as Oliveri’s first sober vocal). The irresistible single No One Knows rode its jackboot bounce all the way to silver sales, while Lanegan – by this point a resident member – shucked vocal gravel over A Song For The Dead and Hangin’ Tree. Do It Again offered a stomped glam beat and squawked guitar, while Another Love Song tucked poisonous lyrics beneath its spaghetti-western guitars and pop sensibilities. “I got divorced,” Oliveri said of the latter, “so that was a tune that came out. It’s just one of those things about shit that’s going down with you.”
Songs For the Deaf drew listeners even deeper into its frazzled world with a spoof radio concept, with songs book-ended by the inane babble of drive-time DJs. “The radio interludes are supposed to be like the drive from LA to Joshua Tree,” said Homme, “a drive that makes you feel like you’re letting go.” “We don’t get played on the radio,” Oliveri added of the interludes’ thinly veiled snipe at moronic US jocks, “so I figure we should talk shit about them.” Oliveri had spoken too soon. The rock media was now dancing to Queens’ tunes, with Rolling Stone putting them among 10 Most Important Hard And Heavy Bands Right Now. But their days seemed numbered. In early 2004, a statement announced that Oliveri had been fired, citing “a number of incidents occurring over the last 18 months [that] have led to the decision that the two can no longer maintain a working partnership in the band”. No angel himself, Homme was plainly exhausted by his wingman’s antics, the final straw coming when Oliveri pelted beer bottles into the crowd. “Our whole band is full of hard partiers,” Homme told MTV. “We’ve put more people in rehab than Mardi Gras. But when you get drunk, you either get drunk with class or you get drunk like a slobbering, toothless fuck. He’s a tornado, and a tornado just destroys and goes on to the next city. I’m in the tornado clean-up crew, and all I ever see is his detritus and I’m sick of it.” Oliveri was just as direct in his statement: “The bad news is that Queens Of The Stone Age is no more. I heard it’s now called ‘Queens Lite’. A pure idea has been polluted. It’s funny. A band about an idea? The concept was simple: a rock band, selfless, mindless, ego-free, unprotected, about danger, sex, and no bullshit rock ’n’ roll. You know what happens when a pure and original rock band gets polluted, poisoned by hunger for power and by control issues?” He signed off: “My favourite band is dead.” It was a sentiment echoed across the rock scene, with some observers questioning whether Queens could ride on without their talismanic troublemaker-in-chief and secondary songwriter. But as the bandleader hunkered down to make Lullabies To Paralyze, he sounded characteristically unruffled: “I gotta be honest. I knew the split was coming, so I wrote everything by myself. And it’s the best
QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE
shit I’ve ever written. My tank has been fuelled by people saying I couldn’t do it, and I’m gonna show them they’re dead wrong.”
ith Lullabies, released in March 2005, Homme pointedly refused to have it ape Songs For The Deaf – “You’ve got to shake all that shit away” – and instead twisted the blueprint of the debut album. Instant highlights included the Crazy Diamond-esque washes of Everybody Knows That You Are Insane, the bluesy stabs of Burn The Witch and the woodblock beat of lead-off single Little Sister. Meanwhile, The Blood Is Love’s twisted waltz and the abrasive Skin On Skin demonstrated that Homme wasn not about to make it easy on fair-weather listeners. “It reminds me of the same trancey emptiness of the first Queens record,” he explained. “It’s no accident that everything has come full circle. There’s a lot of repetition with falsetto melodies over the top. I want people to shake their ass, shut their eyes and trance out. I want to move people and get the hairs on their arms to stand up.” Buoyed by the album’s US No.5 success, their highest chart placing to date, Queens kept pushing. By 2007 they were back with fifth album Era Vulgaris, inspired by Homme’s drives through Hollywood, which swept flavours from synth-driven electronica to southern rock into their sound. The angular Sick, Sick, Sick and breakneck garage-thrash of 3’s & 7’s represented Queens at their foot-down best, countered by Into The Hollow’s creepy music-box vibe and the wistful Make It Wit Chu. And if the consensus was that Era Vulgaris wasn’t quite a match for their early catalogue, then Homme could live with that: “It’s a bit crippled and a bit wheezing… but I like scars, y’know?” He was about to have some of his own. In 2010, complications during routine knee surgery caused Homme’s heart to stop; he claims to have been clinically dead for several minutes before being revived by a defibrillator. It would be the start of a lost period for him. He melted from the rock scene, spent months bedridden and depressed, and considered turning his back on music altogether. “I couldn’t get up for four months,” he explained. “When I did, I hadn’t got a clue what was going on. I didn’t want to play music any more, because I died on an operating table. I didn’t give a shit about little things any more, and music had become a little thing.” Homme dug deep to oversee a reissue of the band’s debut album – and tour it – but, as he told Classic Rock’s Marcel Anders, when he
returned home he found himself sinking into the mire. “It was the hardest three years of my life. I was failing over and over, trying to figure out stuff, feeling a little insecure. But three years of failure was the best thing that could ever happen, because you go: ‘Shit, there’s nowhere to go but up.’ All I really need is insurmountable odds and I’m happy.” Over coffee and lengthy pep talks from Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, the fog in Homme’s head cleared, and his creative pipeline began flowing again with The Vampyre Of Time And Memory. Even so, the title of sixth album, …Like Clockwork, was a fitting gallows-humour choice for a record that came anything but easy. “I wrote ‘Like Clockwork’ on a piece of paper that stayed on this table in my studio,” Homme told Classic Rock. “Something would go awful and it’d be like, ‘Clockwork!’ Then something would go great and we’d say the same. The album is like a microcosm of the last few years. You’ve got to make it out.” Indeed, for Homme this wasn’t so much an album launch as an exorcism: “There’s a part of me that’s releasing this record – and I do mean releasing it, and saying goodbye to it, in a way I never have before. I’m saying: ‘Thanks for kicking my ass and I’m so glad to see you go.’” Given that troubled context, it followed that …Like Clockwork offered a jet-black world view marked by moments of blazing brilliance, from the Bowie-esque If I Had A Tail and the garage-band riffs of My God Is The Sun to the majestic I Appear Missing, an epic, slow-burn masterpiece that was arguably the best thing on the album. Musically, Homme had never sounded so questing, sprinkling electronica, avant-garde rock, strings and synths, and even toying with cabaret on Smooth Sailing. “I never went to West Berlin,” he noted, “but I feel like some of this would have gone over okay there.” His collaborative instincts had also emerged intact, as evidenced by the album’s a guest list that pinballed between the sublime and ridiculous, from returning lags such as Oliveri, Grohl and Lanegan, to Jake Shears of Scissor Sisters and Elton John. “Elton walks in with a big smile, dressed to the nines, arms wide open,” Homme recalled in The Guardian. “So you just go: ‘Well, how the hell are you doing, babe?’” Released in June 2013, …Like Clockwork debuted at No.1 on the US Billboard chart, setting in motion the rise to the A-list heights that the band occupy to this day. Right now, on paper, Queens Of The Stone Age are a paid-up mainstream rock band, topping bestalbum polls with Villains and filling Madison Square Garden on the associated tour. The curious thing is that they still don’t quite feel like one. Twenty years later, these desert rats are still too difficult, dark and dangerous to file alongside alt.rock’s defanged elder statesmen. They remain a travelling circus of rogues, miscreants and outlaws, led by a man who will never be the establishment, however many magazine covers he graces. As Homme drawled in one telling soundbite: “You invited the outsider in – now the outsider’s gonna fuck things up.”
“Ozzfest was nothing but mullets, Budweiser and free sunburns for everyone.” Josh Homme
Above, l-r: Homme with Queens at the 2017 Reading Festival; Nick Oliveri going Brazil nuts with the band at Rock In Rio II in ’91; Kyuss (Garcia, Bjork, Reeder, Homme) in ’92.
Never give up. Ghosts exist. The 90s weren’t fun… At the end of 2017, the year that Black Sabbath played their final gig, the heavy metal icon reflects on that and what his eventful life has taught him. Interview: Dave Ling
e’s the proud Brummie who plays songs about the devil but has guardian angels. He’s had success and fame beyond most people’s wildest dreams, selling millions of albums and playing to millions of fans with a band who are one of the founding father of heavy metal, and setbacks that are the stuff of nightmares, including being diagnosed with cancer. He is also truly a legend.
ALWAYS BELIEVE IN THE IMPOSSIBLE I lost the tips of two fingers in an accident on the day that I was due to leave my job in a sheet metal factory to turn professional. I was only seventeen years old, and the doctors told me there was no point in trying to continue playing the guitar. But I wouldn’t give up and eventually I found a way. All through my life I’ve had that same attitude. If band members left, then I never gave up. You find somebody else and you carry on. And eventually of course we all came back together.
I’VE NO IDEA WHERE THOSE RIFFS COME FROM I’m just grateful that they do. They come out of the air; I don’t sit down and work them out. They just arrive. It’s all very strange. I can sit down and two or three different riffs will come along in ten minutes. Some of them will be crap but most are usable. I’m useless at most other things, but if there’s one thing I can do in life then it’s write riffs.
THE LAST SABBATH SHOW WAS WEIRD
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath album , Zeppelin came into the studio for a jam. John wanted to play Supernaut [from the previous year’s Vol 4] but we jammed instead. We were in the middle of recording so it fucked up the session. I know that it was recorded, and I’d love to hear it. The tape must be around somewhere.
LET’S REVIVE CORPORAL PUNISHMENT At school I was caned – a lot. For me it was a mistake to do away with all of that, because levels of discipline are suffering. If you do wrong, then you should be punished. It’s how we develop our morals. Now there’s almost no difference between right and wrong.
GHOSTS EXIST. I KNOW BECAUSE I’VE SEEN SEVERAL It wasn’t just me, all of us saw the one at Clearwell Castle [in Gloucestershire]. Sabbath had hired the place out so there was nobody else there. We were rehearsing in the dungeons. Coming up the stairs we saw this figure go into the armoury. Ozzy and I asked: “Who’s that?” We went into the armoury and nobody was there. But the room had just one door and no windows. We looked everywhere, including under the table in case someone was winding us up, but there was nobody. It was all very peculiar.
“I definitely believe in angels, because three of them saved my life in my late teens.”
The feeling built as we crept towards to the final gig at the Genting Arena, but it didn’t really sink in till the day of the show. Looking out at the audience during the last few songs, people were crying. Those people idolise you and love what you do. In a way it felt like we were letting them down. It was a shame.
SABBATH’S EARLIEST GIGS WERE CRAP How we got from those days to what the band eventually became, I’m really not sure. We would play places where nobody was interested. Or we’d turn up and people would think that we were playing pop, when of course we weren’t. I recall a gig at a place called the Toe Bar in Egremont and this bloke shouted out: “Your singer’s crap.” That was really embarrassing. Of course, we improved as the years went by, but we certainly had to teach people – and ourselves – about what we were doing, because it was so different. It was a very steep learning curve.
I BELIEVE IN GOD – OF SORTS
That statement may be a shock, given the subject matter of so many of Black Sabbath’s songs, but I believe in a god – whatever god it is. I definitely believe in angels, because three of them saved my life when I was in my late teens. I’d just passed my driving test and was in my sports car driving on a dual carriageway. I had just overtaken another car when two tyres blew out. I went off the road, the MG flipped over and I hit a tree. I passed out, and when I awoke I smelled petrol but I managed to get out, and as I did so I saw those angels. To this day I really believe they were there; I wasn’t stoned. It’s been said that they saved me for a purpose, because I went on to invent heavy metal. And you know what? I quite like that idea.
THE BODY IS JUST A VESSEL When I was much, much younger I used to astrally project. I got really into it. The first time I left my body it was quite frightening. I jumped straight back in again. The best time to do it was just before you go off to sleep. I used to do it a lot – hover about my body, looking down at myself. I tried it again some years later and was quite disappointed to find that I was no longer able.
HAS ANYONE GOT THE BLACK ZEPPELIN TAPE? We were really good mates with Led Zeppelin, especially Robert Plant and John Bonham who came from the Midlands. Zeppelin had wanted us to be on their label, Swan Song, but we couldn’t make it work out. During the recording of the 50 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
THE 1990S WERE NOT MUCH FUN FOR ME At the end of the 1980s, Sabbath made some music that I consider good, including The Eternal Idol  and Headless Cross [’89], but Forbidden
TONY IOMMI Sabbath’s Headless Cross trio: (l-r) Tony Martin, Cozy Powell and Iommi.
 was really crap. We were pushed into a corner. Somebody at the record company suggested we work with Ice-T. My reaction was: “Who the hell is he?” But we met up and he was a nice bloke, and also a big fan of Sabbath. Ernie C [Body Count guitarist] ended up producing Forbidden, which was a terrible mistake. Ernie tried to get Cozy Powell to play these hip-hop-style drum parts, which, quite rightly, offended him. You don’t tell Cozy Powell how to play drums. In the 1990s there were a lot of line-up changes and it became hard to drive Sabbath onwards. But I’m very determined – you don’t split up the band just because somebody leaves. Find a replacement. Get on with it. I still believed in the band.
SOMEDAY I’D LOVE TO RESTORE BORN AGAIN That was the album we made with Ian Gillan [in 1983]. It sounded great in the studio, but there was a problem with pressing. It would be great to fix it up. But you know what? The tapes have disappeared into the Don Arden [former manager] pit. We’ve found about five tracks, the rest are all missing. Such a shame.
BLACK SABBATH – BY APPOINTMENT Being a part of the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations [in 2002] was very weird but a wonderful experience. After Ozzy and I had played, we were invited to Buckingham Palace for a drink – supposedly for fifteen minutes, but it didn’t turn out like that – and Harry and William complained: “You didn’t play Black Sabbath!” It seems they are big fans. And so was [then-Prime Minister] Tony Blair. While I was talking to him, Ozzy came over to ask me something and didn’t even acknowledge Blair. When I introduced them, Ozzy didn’t even say a word. After he’d gone I had to apologise: “Sorry, Tony. Ozzy’s always like that.” And it’s true. There are so many examples. My wife and I had lunch with him and Sharon at the Beverly Hills Hotel. These two blokes came over to say hello, and one of them was [actor] David Arquette. And at the top of his voice Ozzy asked: “Who the fuck’s that?” How embarrassing, and funny [laughs], but that’s typical Ozzy. You’ll never change him.
Iommi with Ronnie Dio, who he says he misses “every day”, in the early 90s.
half of Zeppelin. And don’t forget The Move. Maybe it’s something to do with being industry-based, but it’s the birthplace of a wide variety of sounds.
GET YOURSELF CHECKED OUT I still miss Ronnie James Dio every day. On tour with Heaven And Hell he complained of pain. Ronnie said: “I’m bloody sure I’ve got cancer.” And he left it too late to it looked at by a doctor. To anybody reading this, if in doubt, do yourself a favour and see a professional right away.
“In my youth I was more intense. Now I don’t think I have anything left to prove.”
I’M PROUD TO BE A BRUMMIE
When your life threatens to come to an end, it really, really changes you. I was wondering: “Will I still be here next year?” We had to work around my condition when recording and touring but everyone in the band understood. That’s why touring had to stop. For me it’s always been about the band. I wanted a little time for myself to see friends and just to do other things. On paper I should have time on my hands now, but with this [promoting the The End Of The End concert film] I’m as busy as ever. Offers are pouring in to work with other bands and do whatever might come next. I’m still going to play.
GOOD FRIENDS ARE VERY IMPORTANT I’ve been mates with Brian May for many years. He came to my house six weeks ago. He stayed till about midnight. We were still sitting around and talking. Could we do a project together? Well, we’ve discussed it and you never know…
OLD AGE HAS MELLOWED ME In my youth I was much more intense. I was headstrong and perhaps I used my fists a bit. But I was put in the position of running the band, which I really didn’t want, and it was a very pressurised situation. Now I’m calm. I don’t think I have anything left to prove. The metal king with the man of Queen, good friend Brian May.
Black Sabbath – The End Of The End is available via Eagle Vision.
IOMMI & DIO: GEORGE CHIN/ICONICPIX; GETTY x2
The place has changed such a lot. Ozzy and I were honoured by the city’s Walk Of Stars [in 2008], but when they asked where I wanted my star to go I didn’t know anywhere. The places I was familiar with had been knocked down, it was a bit embarrassing. In front of the NIA was the best I could think of. But I’m very proud that in a musical sense Sabbath did a lot to put Birmingham on the map. Many years ago you’d tell people you came from Birmingham and they’d ask: “Is that in London?” I’ve no idea why the place inspires like it does. Sabbath and Priest are from there, also
SINCE MY CANCER SCARE I’M A DIFFERENT PERSON
F. E . A . R . N O T H I N G Steve Hogarth looks back over a busy and successful 2017 for Marillion – prog veterans now – and forward to another year of fearlessly exploring new horizons and also visiting familiar ground. Words: Paul Lester Portrait: John McMurtrie
arillion frontman Steve Hogarth has just returned from the band’s mini-tour of Japan. He might be approaching his 30th year with them, but neither are showing signs of slowing down. And this despite 2017 seeing them still basking in the afterglow of their 2016 album Fuck Everyone And Run (F E A R), play a prestigious gig at London’s Royal Albert Hall and run their biannual Marillion Weekend. As for 2018, it looks similarly busy, with a Cruise To The Edge followed by tours of the US, UK and Scandinavia, plus talk of a Greek amphitheatre show. Then there’s the next album to start. But first there’s an interview with Classic Rock. “It’s a bit early in the day for rock’n’roll,” Hogarth says, laughing. “But let’s press on.” How was Japan? We haven’t been since we played the Brave album there in ninety-four, so we didn’t know what to expect, but the gigs were sold out. The audiences are very interesting. They sit and clap politely for the first three songs and by the end they’re up on their feet, cheering. The thing I noticed with the Japanese that’s a bit eccentric is you get a handful who come to the hotel and they’ll wait for you all night, and they’re still there in the morning. It’s only in Japan where you can get up at four a.m. and go down to reception and they’re sitting there.
Guardian five-star review [for F E A R] felt like a vindication of the last 25 years’ struggle. It was a pretty fearsome process making F E A R, to be honest, I was quite nervous about reactions. Because it’s a protest record, and I’m having a go in no uncertain terms. I thought it might be greeted with a yawn: “Oh god, get off your bloody soapbox, Hogarth.” So the response was a huge relief.
most unsettling. But to be honest nobody’s telling us what’s really going on. The news is just press releases, with a little bit of investigative journalism sprinkled at the edge. The stuff on TV is bread and circuses for the masses. Am I sounding paranoid? Maybe a paranoid is someone in full possession of the facts. I just sniff the air and get a feeling and that’s how I’ve always written.
Has it been weird having an album out called F E A R, with widespread Brexit dread, Trump bestriding the globe like an orange goon, and the nuclear face-off between North Korea and the States? Yeah, they’re calling me Hogstradamus now! I’ve got a little bit in the habit of being ahead of these waves. I coined the terms “leavers” and “remainers” about four years ago, then wrote a song about
So we’re all doomed in 2018, then? Hopefully not. The biggest threat to all of us will remain what we are doing to the planet. I know that sounds hippie-ish, but there’ll be a tipping point where the planet can no longer sustain us. The other thing is an airborne virus like Ebola that transmits like the common cold. If that should come along there’ll be a mass culling. It won’t do us much good, but it will cut us down a bit. On a happier note, what was the best gig you went to in 2017? Ours at the Royal Albert Hall! That was amazing. I wanted to play there my whole life. I’ve been nagging the band ever since we met. It was an extraordinary night on so many levels. Just to walk out on stage and gaze at the auditorium. We really pushed the boat out: a lot of bells and whistles, lights and lasers. We got spontaneous ovations after each song. That almost got embarrassing after about the fifth one. It was incredible, because it felt like an affirmation of all we’ve been through. Steven Wilson, Nick Beggs and Steve Hackett were there – the prog glitterati. The single [Living In F E A R] was No.1 in the physical chart at that point. I always thought if we could play the Albert Hall it would be one of the things that flashes through my mind when I croak.
“MY GUT FEELING IS TO APPROACH THE NEXT RECORD WITH: ‘OKAY, WE’VE BEEN THERE AND DONE THAT. LET’S REDEFINE WHAT WE ARE.’”
Marillion always inspired devotion – well, that and critical dislike – but Fuck Everyone And Run (F E A R) has made people take Marillion very seriously. Well, I’ve been taking them seriously all along [laughs]. I can’t speak for the rest of the band. Have there been any examples of strange fandom this year? I did run into a bloke in a hotel in Montreal. I told him what I did, and he went, “Oh god, not you lot!” Turns out he’d just written a thesis on Marillion’s crowd-funding business model for the final year of his degree in Economics at Oxford. I was just flattered that Oxford University had put us on their map. That felt like official recognition. That and The 54 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
STEVE HOGARTH them [The Leavers]. Then we turned on the news to hear about leavers and remainers. That was a bit strange. And the song Eldorado is about immigration and no longer being proud of a country you’re part of. What’s interesting is that, having written it about this sceptered isle, if I sang it in front of an American audience I felt I needed to apologise for it because it felt like a dig at them. And then we’d go to Spain and sing The New Kings about economic collapse and where power really lies, and I’d feel like I’d written that for Spain. I’d have to keep explaining these songs everywhere we travelled. What gave you the most F E A R in 2017? Well, it’s a worry having two blokes with strange haircuts facing off against each other on opposite sides of the world: Donald with his honey quiff and Kim with his radical steampunk job. They’re both egoistic nut-jobs and both seem to have access to pretty fearsome weaponry… That’s probably the
What, for you, was the saddest rock death of 2017? Tom Petty, I’d say. That made me really low. I didn’t realise he was as old as he was. I assumed he was my age, maybe a bit older. He’s written some great songs. And he was inherently, naturally, cool. Didn’t you hurt yourself during the Marillion Weekend in Ouddorp, Holland? Yeah. I stepped over a light on the rear edge of
MARILLION Hogarth looks forward to reaching out to new challenges in 2018.
the stage and hit the deck. I was really fortunate there was nothing down there, because if there’d been any horizontal metal work or stage supports I might have broken my back, been in a wheelchair. I was lucky. I just dislocated a rib. I went to a physio about a fortnight later, and he said, “I’ve just put one of your ribs back in.” “Oh, cheers! That’s going to make tying my shoelaces a lot easier.”
Playing the RAH was a dream come true and a 2017 highlight.
How was the Weekend apart from that? Immense. There’s such a lot of work to prepare for three completely separate shows. You’re having to rehearse seven hours of music. We’re not getting any younger so just retaining that amount of music in our brains is hard. And we don’t exactly write three-minute pop tunes… The songs are quite intense, and it’s not as though any of us can read music – it’s all in our bonces. One of the Marillion Weekends was in Chile. How intense are Chilean Marillion fans? All Marillion fans are intense. It’s not music you listen to while hoovering and go: “Oh, that’s nice.” The ones who get it do so to their bones. It’s like a soundtrack to their lives, and the atmosphere at our shows reflects that depth of feeling. Does the intensity ever get scary? No, we’ve been really fortunate. Our fans are the kind of people I’d happily go for a drink with, almost all of them.
Royal performance: bells, whistles, lasers and lights at Marillion’s Albert Hall show.
end we pop to Waitrose. I would go to Aldi – I’m not too snobbish – but there isn’t one locally. This is a bizarre interview. How do you intend spending December? I’m doing my traditional Christmas tour, just me and a piano, where I turn up and just see what happens. I’ve been doing them for the last few years. I basically sell tickets to see if anyone is prepared to be in a room with me.
“PLAYING THE ALBERT HALL WAS INCREDIBLE BECAUSE IT FELT LIKE AN AFFIRMATION OF ALL WE’VE BEEN THROUGH.”
It’s going to be hard to follow F E A R. What do you have in mind for the next record? Well, my gut feeling is to get as far away from it as possible and approach the next record with: “Okay, we’ve been there and done that. Let’s redefine what we are.” Each record is a reaction to the one before. Maybe a nice country and western record. Have you emailed the others with ideas? I haven’t had to email them – I’ve been stuck in a van with them! Every now and then they’ll say: “What about the next record?” and I’ll say: “Leave me alone. Don’t even talk to me, otherwise I’ll have a nervous breakdown.” Band relations are pretty good these days, aren’t they? You’re absolutely right. We’ve had our ups and downs. At the moment we’re pretty tight. There’s a similar atmosphere to the one during [1989’s] Season’s End. After all these years, we still enjoy collaborating, playing live still feels fresh, the album’s been really well received… We’re in good shape. Marillion tour the U K from April 11 to 20.
WILL IRELAND & KEVIN NIXON
Do they ever turn up at your house and say: “Let’s go for that drink, then, shall we?” [Laughs] I’ve not had anybody camping outside. I’ve had people come up to me while I’m shopping, going [salt of the earth How many turn up? voice], “Alright, how’s More than you’d expect! it going?” “Fine, mate.” About three-to-four They’re all pretty cool. hundred. I usually do There’s maybe one churches and caves. I bring German girl who’s a bit a Christmas tree and invite STEVE HOGARTH on the edge, but she’s no everybody to bring trouble, really. a bauble, and they dress the tree during the gig. And I hand out tequila shots to Isn’t it weird for fans to have this anyone who puts a bauble on the tree. It’s more of Hogstradamus, prescient soothsayer a goof-out than an evening of music. I do a lot of character in their local supermarket? covers and take requests: a bit of Leonard Cohen, Nah. I just tend to flop about in a pair of jammy a song by Al Stewart called Roads To Moscow, about bottoms and a jumper when I’m not dressed up, the Russian campaign in the Second World War. when I’m off duty. My supermarket of choice is I’ll probably do Beatles songs and the odd Crowded Tesco, although if we want something a bit highHouse number. I’ve been known to play The Model
by Kraftwerk. I read from my diaries. I’ve had quite a curious life.
DON BROCO Pretty The Bedford alt.rockers skinned their faces for Pretty’s schlock-horror video, but the music is darker still. “It’s about reaching the point of inebriation,” said Rob Damiani, “where it doesn’t matter that the person you’re physically attracted to is a despicable human being.”
THE DUST CODA Weakness The Londoners back up their ambition to revitalise the rock scene with this debut single, built on stalking bass, raging guitars and the best scream we’ve heard in ages from über-intense Australian frontman John Drake. Consider their card marked.
If working through the best albums of 2017 seems a tall order, take a short cut and check out some of the suitably sorted songs that have talked to us this year. Words: Henry Yates
Revue band on this pummelling comeback, where manic cathouse piano and fur-ball vocals rage and twist before collapsing into white-noise and feedback.
I Don’t Need Your Loving Frontman Nathan James resolved to write bigger choruses after the Ramblin’ Man Fair, and the one on this one can be seen from space. An anti-love song and acerbic kiss-off to a manipulative lover, it’s a song to scream after being hung out to dry.
STEEL PANTHER She’s Tight (featuring Robin Zander) LA’s pre-eminent sniggering mock-rockers present their “sexified” spin on the Cheap Trick classic, even roping in CT’s Robin Zander to lock tonsils with Michael Starr. It might not advance the art form, but it sure blows away the cobwebs.
LOW CUT CONNIE Revolution Rock n Roll It starts with a lugubrious piano in a lastchance saloon, before Adam Weiner pulls the trigger on that call-to-arms chorus: ‘Come on children, rip it up!’ Doomed yet defiant, this is one of those rare songs that makes critics cream and punters scream.
CHUCK BERRY Big Boys Chuck signed off in vintage style with Big Boys, a tune that steals from his own guitar playbook, muses on short-trousered scrapes and collars Tom Morello and Nathaniel Rateliff to boost its good-natured bounce. The cherry on an astonishing career.
BITERS Stone Cold Love Like T.Rex with bigger teeth, this glitterstomp anthem is the most twisted of love songs, the Georgia rockers saluting a shedevil who ‘smiles like a reptile’ and ‘sucks all the blood from my neck’.
Michael Starr, Steel Panther
STARCRAWLER Ants All fuzz-box guitars, sticky beats and itchy vocals (‘I got ants when I dance, I got ants in my pants’), Ants is barely two minutes long – including the spacey treacle-trudge midsection – but an insect infestation has never sounded so compelling.
BODY COUNT No Lives Matter As the bodies piled up Stateside, Ice-T’s white-hot polemic spits frustration into the face of a trigger-happy police force. The spoken-word intro is sage, the vocal hook savage: ‘They can’t fuck with us, once we realise we’re all on the same side.’
PALAYE ROYALE Don’t Feel Quite Right The Vegas dandies match style with substance on this piss-and-vinegar classic, driven by kick-your-teeth-in drums, a vocal buzzing with paranoia, and a riff stolen so brazenly from the White Stripes’ Blue Orchid that you have to applaud its brass neck.
JIM JONES AND THE RIGHTEOUS MIND Aldecide Jim Jones vindicates the meltdown of his 58 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
MARILYN MANSON We Know Where You Fucking Live The verse’s spidery guitar squall and murmured vocal are sinister enough, but when Manson hits that shrieked chorus it’s sufficiently threatening to make you check behind the door and under the bed. The bogeyman is back in business.
PROPHETS OF RAGE
Tom Morello, Prophets Of Rage
Unfuck The World Best heard through a loudhailer at an antiTrump rally, the supergroup’s single is a fist in the air that practically exhorts us to storm the Oval Office. ‘If you’re gonna consider the world fucked,’ notes Chuck D, ‘somebody’s gotta figure out how to unfuck it.’
SOUNDGARDEN The Day I Tried To Live Obviously not new, but when shocking news of Chris Cornell’s suicide broke, this was the song we searched out. Warning signs are there in the lyric – ‘A voice was in my head/It said seize the day, pull the trigger’ – but Cornell was always adamant that this lungflaying groove is not “a suicide note song”.
BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION Collide The first song co-written by Glenn Hughes and Joe Bonamassa, Collide gave the reunited supergroup impetus and its most ambitious moment yet. With a graceful swoop of strings punctured by the year’s most swaggerous riff, it’s a song worth burying hatchets for.
Heartbeat Away It’s a pleasure to hear Crow steer away from country on this growling shuffle, her ghostly vocal spinning tales of espionage, stashed money and political meddling. As Trump and Putin’s toxic romance played out, it couldn’t have been more relevant.
April Showers Georgia’s one-time sludge-rockers shed their skin on third album WICK. With hand bells and music-box guitars anchored by a percussive backbone, April Showers shares the melodic glower of Fleetwood Mac, while frontwoman Mlny Parsonz has the charisma of a spookier Stevie Nicks.
mark when it enters hyper-speed like a Millennium Falcon piloted by an off-his-tits Han Solo.
OH SEES Nite Expo The shortest song on Orc is also the most potent, with squidgy synths, twinkling effects, thrashy guitars and a throbbing bass line all creating heady chaos around John Dwyer’s almost Krautrock-ish vocals. Why can’t all bands sound this inventive after 19 albums?
FOO FIGHTERS The Sky Is A Neighborhood This, the standout of the Foos’ Concrete & Gold, was born when Dave Grohl lay on the lawn in Hawaii, looked up at the heavens and contemplated “all the atoms that comprise life on Earth”. Sounds heavy, but with that peach of a gang vocal it’s the only existential thesis you can sing along to.
MARK LANEGAN First Day Of Winter It arrived in April, but everyone felt the chill from this electro-tinged lament. Further exploring his UK goth influences, Lanegan’s ravaged growl sits gloriously at odds with the swell of synths, weaving tales of nowhere towns where rain lashes the windshield.
THE TEXAS GENTLEMEN
BLACK STAR RIDERS
How The West Was Won In recent times we’d resigned ourselves to losing the crack/smack-addled Only Ones leader. Happily, Perrett sounds reborn on this countryfied strummer, his laconic drawled lyric running the unlikely gamut from dirty bombs to Kim Kardashian’s derrière.
Bondurant Women When six Dallas studio musicians convened as the Texas Gentlemen, the mission statement was “timeless, earnest American music”. They hit the brief on the nose with this soulful stunner – and like all good session men, they couldn’t resist an impromptu outro vamp.
STEVEN WILSON Nowhere Now This piano-led ballad from To The Bone is a song of two halves, with Wilson’s lyric split between a bleak verse that examines our broken society, and a blissed-out chorus from the perspective of a spaceman. Like everything this man touches, it works.
When The Night Comes In Few songs make the BSR faithful roar like Ricky Warwick’s cathartic ode to “getting yourself together and being prepared for everything the world throws at you”. It’s (almost) enough to stop the mob calling out for The Boys Are Back In Town.
ANATHEMA Springfield The centrepiece of Classic Rock’s sister magazine Prog’s Album Of The Year feature, Springfield blossoms from small-hours piano to mushroom clouds of guitar and primal-scream vocals worthy of Floyd’s The Great Gig In The Sky. Springfield is a finger in the eye of anyone who says modern bands aren’t pushing the envelope.
Sweep Me Off My Feet Upbeat but off-kilter, blissed-out but with an edge, this is the best yet from the Aussie psych-squad led by Tame Impala’s Nick Allbrook. Refreshingly, in a cocksure world, it’s a love song of sheer vulnerability: (‘Hey you! I’m not bold or cool or masculine…’)
Outloud Even if former Reef guitarist Kenwyn House hadn’t told us drugs were consumed during sessions for Goldray’s Rising album, we’d have guessed it from this hypnotic, hardrocking opener, which comes on like Led Zeppelin jamming with Kate Bush in a cloud of incense.
AIRBOURNE Money When you’re as drunk as Airbourne, some songs are gonna go astray. This punchy rocker from their No Guts No Glory era was “found covered in piles of dust and reel-toreel tape”, and got a long-overdue run-out on the Diamond Cuts box set.
Demon In Profile When Greg Dulli billed Afghan Whigs’ eighth album In Spades as “spooky”, he was surely thinking of this lead-off single, which pairs the frontman’s bereft, bluesy vocals with a raging horn section. Only a moron would call them a ‘grunge band’ now.
OTHERKIN Enabler Irish noiseniks Otherkin draw together the best bits of Britpop and early-00s Libertinesesque drive with this killer highlight from fizzling debut album OK. The power of energetic youth – and then some.
KOYO Strange Bird In The Sky The Leeds proggers lead us through the rainforest, blending bird calls with hypnotic, Eastern-tinged guitar riffs, before Tom Higham’s tribal drums set up an epic synthrocker. A work of astonishing confidence from a band still cutting their teeth.
Testament These Texans practically frog-march us onto the dancefloor with this highlight from their album Cult Psychotica. The squelch of wah-wah guitar and Matt Drenik’s electrocuted screams – “Ow!” – keep the energy up, while the beat is as relentless as a slave ship (but far more fun).
ALL THEM WITCHES Bulls Pushing seven minutes, Bulls has the space to slip its identity. It starts softly, with spacey guitars and drums gently propelling a drowsy vocal, until the four-minute
THE DARKNESS Steven Wilson
All The Pretty Girls Many artists have deconstructed the paddling-pool-shallow nature of fame, CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 59
highlight from Lay It On Down, saluting a goddess who is ‘like a fine wine, a hundreddollar bottle/She’s a ’69 Charger on full-throttle’.
SIMO Shine Ditching the blues-rock of Let Love Show The Way, Nashville trio Simo’s comeback single opens with a bass line straight from Doctor Who and gets spacier from there. With robot guitars offset by JD Simo’s roared vocal, it’s futuristic, psychedelic and almost a classic.
PP ARNOLD Born The American vocalist spent four decades hunting down her lost 60s sessions for RSO Records, and this soul-blues belter justifies her tenacity. Stick around for the roaring outro, where Arnold showcases a set of lungs that today’s X Factor pipsqueaks can only dream of.
but none have done it with such infectious glee – or in a higher vocal register – as these mum-shagging merry men from Lowestoft. The dickabout seaside-themed video sealed All The Pretty Girls’ inclusion here.
I Need That Oooh German The Picturebooks duo might be self-professed “bad musicians”, but they whip up rare road-movie atmosphere on this feral album standout. With wild slide and Native American percussion, this is music for dancing around a campfire in the Mojave Desert.
NIGHT RANGER Day And Night Thirty-five years into Night Ranger’s career, Day And Night finds the San Francisco veterans playing with the vigour of a pockmarked garage band. Bang your head to the crunchy riff – but stick around for one of the most dazzling solos ever to fly off Brad Gillis’s fingers.
HUNTER & THE BEAR D.R.K With songs like D.R.K in their locker, it’s no wonder the unsigned London band threatened to upstage Eric Clapton at a recent support slot. Stompy and seismic, it is by far the lairiest moment from their debut album Paper Heart.
THE CADILLAC THREE Hank & Jesus Over scuttling drums and a sun-kissed country-rock crunch, the Nashville trio salute the twin touchstones of their God-fearing, vinyl-spinning upbringing (‘It was six strings on a Saturday night/Sunday morning seeing the light’). Only southerners could pull this off.
BAD TOUCH 99% Norfolk’s hairiest aced it with this downhome singalong, which demands to be heard in an open-topped Chevy, sitting next to a girl you’re almost crazy about. “It’s kind of a love song,” noted Stevie Westwood. “But it’s that kind of thing: ‘I’m not absolutely sure I love you’.”
DAN AUERBACH Stand By My Girl With its honky-tonk piano, handclaps and 60s vocals, Dan Auerbach’s best solo single seems as light as feather – until you realise the Black Keys man’s loved-up lyric comes with a barb: ‘I’m gonna stand by my girl… because she’ll kill me if I don’t’.
AARON BUCHANAN AND THE CULT CLASSICS All The Things You’ve Said And Done The former Heaven’s Basement frontman and his band made their mark this year with The Man With Stars On His Knees, and this is the pick from it: a thumping anthem that blooms from morose verse to lift-off chorus. It’s a cult classic that deserves mainstream recognition.
solo tune from the Asking Alexandria vocalist, which claims our problems are better marinated than drowned: ‘Whiskey ain’t the answer but it’s damn sure worth a shot. We’ll drink (responsibly) to that.
TYLER BRYANT AND THE SHAKEDOWN Kenny Wayne Shepherd The Cadillac Three
Monday Club The Northern Irishmen had their “eyes opened” by touring with Blackberry Smoke, and there’s a hint of the influence on this smoky soul-rocker, with a hook that speaks for a million sardine-tinned commuters: ‘Monday morning ain’t no friend of mine’.
Weak And Weepin’ This song is these Texans’ regular set opener, and the studio take of Weak And Weepin’ rouses the rabble too, as Bryant pushes that voice box into the red atop the kind of twisty lick you wish Guns N’ Roses could still write.
ZEAL & ARDOR Devil Is Fine No genre is off-limits to Zeal & Ardor linchpin Manuel Gagneux, and Devil Is Fine is the year’s most inspired cut-and-shut, combining a raw-throated chain-gang chant with hip-hop beats, doleful piano and white-noise guitar. Like Moby – but good.
THE WEEKS Talk Like That The Weeks aren’t afraid to mess with southern-rock dogma, and on this sugarrush indie-rock riot their Mississippi roots are discernible only in Cyle Barnes’s vocal delivery. A song so irrepressible that you practically have to strap down your speakers.
THE MAGPIE SALUTE
KENNY WAYNE SHEPHERD She’s $$$ In a genre in which women are routinely cast as heart-shredding harpies, bluesman Shepherd flips the concept on this rootsy 60 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
DANNY WORSNOP Don’t Overdrink It In an age that could drive anyone to drink, we can all relate to this piano-plonk country
Omission The Black Crowes-shaped hole in our lives was plugged by this sneery rocker, on which a vintage Rich Robinson guitar riff barged against John Hogg’s chant-along chorus. As the sole original on their debut album, Omission is a tantalising sign that these Magpies can do more than steal.
PU T A PAUSE IN YOUR DAY With so many demands from work, home and family, there never seem to be enough hours in the day for you. Why not press pause once in a while, curl up with your favourite magazine and put a little oasis of â€˜youâ€™ in your day.
To find out more about Press Pause, visit;
With 200 (yes, 200) years of experience in music between them, Cats In Space are not only aiming for the stars, they’re also looking to bring some much-needed fun back into rock. Words: Fraser Lewry Portrait: Will Ireland
decade ago, guitarist Greg Hart left tribute act Limehouse Lizzy to form his own band, Hartless. He knew exactly what he wanted to do: “A classic seventies-style rock album,” he said at the time. “The album I wanted to hear in 2007.” The album 62 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
they recorded was that year’s Full Circle, a solid collection of songs in the Thin Lizzy/UFO mould embellished with rich AOR harmonies. It was okay, but it remained nailed firmly to shop shelves. The plan needed rethinking. Cut to 2017, and Hart’s current band, Cats In Space, are doing rather better. Having recorded
two gloriously effervescent, melody-soaked, delightfully smart albums, the second one being the just-released Scarecrow, they’ve moved away from AOR (“That box is too small”, says Hart), their eyes set on much loftier heights – think Queen, think ELO, think 10cc, think bands with vast ambition and substantial budgets. And he’s
Cats In Space, from left: Dean Howard, Andy Stewart, Paul Manzi, Greg Hart, Steevi Bacon, Jeff Brown.
surrounded himself with an extraordinary amount of experience. Deep breath… Cats In Space co-founder and drummer Steevi Bacon has played with Robin Trower and Don Airey. He plays in the Marc Bolan tribute act TooRex, and back in the day was in a band managed by Joe Strummer. Singer Paul Manzi sang on Gordon Giltrap & Oliver Wakeman’s Ravens & Lullabies album, followed Gary Holton and Phil Lewis into the Heavy Metal Kids, filled in for Tony O’Hora in The Sweet and sang lead vocals on the soundtracks of the rock musicals Phantasmagoria and Space Family Robinson. Talking of the stage, keyboard player Andy Stewart has been musical director for productions of Les Miserables, Miss Saigon, Phantom Of The Opera and Hair. He also plays in the Supersonic 70s Show (“Europe’s No.1 70s Music Show!”) alongside Hart, which runs the gamut from Suzi Quatro to Donna Summer. He also teamed up with Hart in AOR bands Moritz and If Only. Bassist Jeff Brown was in NWOBHM stalwarts Wildfire and Statetrooper before busting up Box Hill with Dumpy’s Rusty Nuts. He then spent 16
years in The Sweet and toured with 60s charttopping popsters The Tremeloes. Guitarist Dean Howard was a real-life pop star with T’Pau before playing with Ian Gillan and AOR band Airrace and on Bad Company’s 1996 album Stories Told & Untold. And lest we forget, Hart was in Asia, and co-wrote much of their Aqua album, before bowing out as grunge killed the band’s career. As Venn diagrams go it’s an absolute mess, but these men have collectively accumulated somewhere north of 200 years experience in music. They know what they’re doing. And what they’re doing is joyous. think rock became frightened to smile,” says Hart, talking to Classic Rock before Cats In Space played a sublime show at London’s Borderline. “I was out of the game for a long time, because there was no vehicle for me to write any more when grunge came in. And then [The
Darkness frontman] Justin Hawkins came along and I thought: ‘Oh my god. Someone’s doing this.’ Everyone thought he was taking the piss, but I could see through all of that. You could see from the quality of the songwriting they knew exactly what they were doing.” Unlike The Darkness, who have always had an element of nudge and wink to their music, Cats In Space’s take on the 70s appears to be entirely sincere, even if the music is often laugh-out-loud funny (if there’s a smarter track released in 2017 than Two Fifty Nine, a three-minute pop song about writing three-minute pop songs, we’ve yet to hear it). “I grew up with that kind of music,” Hart says. “And when I started writing songs, that was the only kind of thing that boiled my egg, you know? We want to take people back to a time when they watched Top Of The Pops every Thursday and listened to the new chart on Sunday. Match Of The Day. On The Buses. Some Mothers Do ’Ave ’Em. All that stuff! We were there as kids. Now we just want to live it all again as adults. It’s almost like an illness!” “Young people playing rock are angry,” says Steevi Bacon. “They’re bitter. They’re just annoyed with life. They’re fighting to survive and be alive. We’re older guys, and we’re happy to be alive. That might sound cheesy, but age is a privilege.” One barrier to the success of this time-travelling escapade might be that Cats In Space name. But, as the band point out, plenty of successful acts started out with names that must have sounded ludicrous on first hearing. Def Leppard? Queen? The Beatles? “From day one we wanted a name that was Marmite,” explains Hart. “Love it or hate it, at least people will talk about it.” There is a reason for the name choice. “Me and Greg were talking on the phone,” Bacon recalls “His cat had died, and mine died about a week later. We were gutted. And we were saying how our cats would have been looking down on us, blubbing, going: “Look at those two idiots!’ “I also love space,” he adds, perhaps unnecessarily. “I have a huge telescope.” alk to Cats In Space for long enough and you learn just how ambitious they are, and just how seriously they’re taking this, even if things occasionally veer into Spinal Tap territory (“If less is more, how much will more be, if more is more?,” asks Hart, bemoaning the lack of pomp in music). They talk with unbridled belief about releasing another 10 albums, about plans for spectacular shows, about being unafraid, and about going into the studio and treating it all with the wideeyed enthusiasm of 15-yearolds in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. “People want this,” says Hart. “They’re fed up of buying ELO box sets and Queen coloured vinyl reissues. This is just the tip of the iceberg. We’ve got an awful lot more to come. And if you don’t like it we’ll give you your money back. But so far we’re recruiting at a rapid rate of knots. And thank fuck for that.” Scarecrow is out now via Harmony Factory. Cats In Space’s first live album, Cats Alive, is released on February 23. CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 63
That’s how his life in Queen is summed up by Brian May – or rather, Doctor Brian May, CBE – for whom 2017 has been another memorable year in a career of many. Words: Paul Elliott
n July 18, 2017, when Queen + Adam Lambert played at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, 20,000 people sang Happy Birthday to one of the band, who would be turning 70 just a few hours after the show ended: Brian May. Reaching such a landmark was a rather strange experience for Queen’s guitarist – now Dr Brian May, CBE, let us not forget. “I can’t really believe that I’m that age,” he says. “It’s really odd.” It has been a busy year for the doc. The Queen + Adam Lambert tour ran through North America and Europe, heading into the UK at the end of November. A 40th-anniversary box-set reissue of Queen’s classic album News Of The World was released. And there was May’s book Queen In 3-D, featuring hundreds of previously unpublished photographs that he shot on vintage stereoscopic cameras throughout his career with the band, plus his written account of Queen’s history – as close as he has come to writing a full autobiography. Twenty-six years since the death of Queen singer Freddie Mercury, and 20 years since bassist John Deacon retired from the music industry, May and drummer Roger Taylor are not yet ready to let go of the band they co-founded back in 1970. “I don’t want to retire,” says May, adding with a wry smile: “I’m just thankful that I got to this point.” May talks to Classic Rock about the past, present and future of Queen, the long-awaited Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, Axl Rose, Elton John, and why it would be nice if people called him ‘Doctor’.
Could you see Queen making a new studio album with Adam? I don’t know. We enjoy interpreting the canon, the oeuvre, and that’s as far as we’ve got. Has this latest tour been fun, hard work, a bit of both? It’s still hard pressing the button to be away from home for two months at a time, more than a couple of times a year. But it’s worth it because something great happens. There’s magic, and you see joy in people’s faces. It’s what it always was. Somehow it’s all worth it. As the old song goes… Apparently it was. And it is! Is the Freddie biopic finished now? We’re finally seeing it coming to fruition, although I can’t say too much about it. Eight years we’ve been working on getting it off the ground. Roger and I – to some extent against our will – have hung in there for all this time. But finally we’ve arrived at a place where we have the right director and the right script and we feel good about it. We’re very conscious that we get one shot, and if we don’t do it, someone else will do it badly. We will do it without avoiding anything – any aspect of Freddie. But we will try to keep it all in balance. I think if we get it right it will crystallize the way the world understands Freddie.
“Playing live you see joy in people’s faces. It’s what it always was. Somehow it’s all worth it.”
Writing in Queen In 3-D, you describe Freddie as being insecure. He really was. He built this armour around himself. It’s true of so many performers. And that’s how Freddie was able to metamorphose into the performer that you saw on stage. He started off as someone very insecure but with massive dreams, and he made himself what he became. You also talked about the creative tension between the members of the band – a sense of rivalry as competing songwriters. I find that’s true of life in general, not just for a group making albums. That feeling of being roped out of a situation is a powerful and dangerous thing. And I think it was true between all four us. There were areas that we didn’t invade… Meaning what? Everybody writes songs about what is around them, but unconsciously the songs are always about what is inside them as well. I think that’s universally true. When Freddie delivered Bohemian Rhapsody – now seen as his masterpiece – to the band, what input did he allow you to have? A lot of the time, with a song that came from Freddie the backing track would be piano, bass and drums, and that’s your skeleton. They would be putting that down, and I would be on the control room listening and making comments. And I asked Freddie to have that spot for my solo – I wanted to have that verse spot and I would kind of sing it on the guitar the way I heard it. When did you work best as a team? I remember sitting down with Freddie in the Munich days and speaking about It’s A Hard Life,
For many Queen fans it’s taken a while, but do you feel that Adam Lambert has now really proven himself as the singer for the band? He has. Adam is amazing, he really is. I constantly wonder where that came from. How did the universe manage to make that happen?
How should he be remembered? I think in Freddie’s mind he was a musician and a creator first. So that’s a perspective we want to keep. He was a family member second, with us as a group. It was a very strong thing, and we’d like that to be represented. And the whole thing about his sexuality and his flamboyance, if you want to call it that, and all the things that made him tick, they are also vitally important as well, and none of
them can be ducked or smoothed over. We don’t want to present him as some kind of unreal person. He had, like the rest of us, his great bits and his not so great bits. And in a sense there’s a kind of superhero quality to him. I think if we get it right, people will appreciate all over again what a great bit of machinery Freddie was.
Killer Queen: Adam Lambert, Brian May and Roger Taylor on the News Of The World tour.
High times: Freddie and Brian during Queen’s unforgettable Live Aid performance in ’85.
Duelling barnets: Slash and May at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert in ’92.
and hammering out every word of every line together, because we were actually talking about what this song meant. And I think also Freddie and John [Deacon] had moments of getting close to the inner meaning of a song. Freddie and John worked on Another One Bites The Dust very closely. John wasn’t a person who could sing, so John would speak it to Freddie and Freddie would start to sing it, and I think during that process they would unravel what is this thing that we’re doing? Near the end of Freddie’s life, when the band made the Innuendo album, did he need you more than ever? Well, I remember Freddie and I sat for a long time working on the lyrics for The Show Must Go On. He was quite ill at that point, but he sat with me for a few hours working on a couple of lines. As far as the story of the song went, we were working on it together. But perhaps there was still a level of meaning beyond which we didn’t look. He wasn’t well – he disappeared and I didn’t see him for quite a while – so I finished off the song using those bricks that we built together, the cornerstones. In your book Queen In 3-D you recall a moment from 1977 when the band headlined at New York’s Madison Square Garden for the first time, performing at such a high level that you felt as if you were levitating. It was incredible. I’ll never forget that feeling. It actually felt like our feet were not quite touching the stage. It was an amazing experience. It really did feel like that. It’s not an exaggeration. I’m not being poetical.
“If we get the film right, people will appreciate all over again what a great bit of machinery Freddie was.”
It was at Wembley Stadium, the scene of Live Aid, that the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert For AIDS Awareness was held on April 20, 1992, a little over a year after Freddie’s death. Queen performed with a cast of singers, including David Bowie and Robert Plant. And on Bohemian Rhapsody there was a duet between Elton John and Axl Rose… It was a magnificent coming together. And I’ll never forget Axl’s entrance in Bohemian Rhapsody, coming on like this whirling dervish. He was pure energy, Axl, and it was just what was needed, just what we’d hoped for, and more besides. The guys
in Guns N’ Roses are great. Slash is just a wonderful person. I’m happy to communicate with him, and we do on animal issues as well as musical issues. So there you have one of the world’s great souls. And I’m thrilled that Axl and Slash got back together. I think that’s what the world wanted. Looking back on your life, what are you most proud of? With music, the fulfillment is in knowing that it’s done to the best of your ability, it’s fulfilled a dream and it’s become what you dreamed it could be. It’s the creation of those things, and you know that no one else has done it, and nobody else could have done it quite in the way you’ve done it. Is your PhD in astrophysics one of your greatest achievements? It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. That’s why people want to be called ‘doctor’ when they’ve got a PhD, because it didn’t come easy. Should I have called you ‘doctor’? No, you’re fine [laughs]. But being called ‘doctor’, it’s like badge you wear because you’ve been through such shit, such a challenge to your selfbelief that you came through. How would you sum up your life in Queen? It has been unforgettable and unique and unrepeatable. Just out of this world.
In some ways, though, surely Queen never played a better show than the one at Live Aid in 1985? Oh, it was really a great moment for us. We were used to playing stadia in South America, full of people who had all bought tickets that say ‘Queen’ on them. For Live Aid they’d all bought tickets for whoever was announced in the beginning, not us, and by the time we were added to the bill it was sold out. So that was in the back of our minds. What is this going to be like? Are they going to react? Are they going to relate? We had no idea. But as soon as we hit the stage it felt like it was our audience. That was the most amazing thing. It felt like everyone was a million per cent with us.
And for that show Freddie delivered the performance of a lifetime. He was able to involve everybody, right to the back of that stadium. You could feel it. And you can see it in the video. I’m not sure we realised that this would happen, and that was extraordinary to watch, and extraordinary because it was an unusual talent to have in those days. Back then there weren’t stadium bands, and most of the acts on that bill had never played in a situation like that. So really, Freddie had skills beyond the norm. We did as a band as well, but particularly Freddie.
It was the year the reunited GN’R finally got back in the ring with British fans. Knockout? Words: Henry Yates
t wouldn’t be the first time that Axl Rose has kept us waiting. As the Not In This Lifetime tour visited the US and South America last year – hitting such notable rock’n’roll towns as Foxborough and East Rutherford – British fans were left feeling snubbed by the band whose special relationship with this country was consummated when they tore up the Marquee club in June 1987. If not Axl, then surely Slash – a man raised in Stoke, who claimed to be “proud I was part of this grand lineage of English pissheads”, and identified with the capital so strongly that he called his son London – would prioritise Britain over, say, Glendale, Arizona? Turns out they hadn’t forgotten. In December 2016, news broke that they were to play two nights in the capital. And when the tour bus reached the London Stadium on June 16 the mood was one of gleeful nostalgia laced with please-don’t-fuck-thisup trepidation. We’d heard the reports from the international press; many of us had made the trek to see the band. But when Duff McKagan pumped out that opening bass line to It’s So Easy, shortly joined by Slash’s coruscating riff and Axl’s stillpotent banshee howl, the longest-odds event in rock’n’roll felt real for the first time. “You’re too kind,” bantered Axl, his Union Jack topper capturing the spirit of Brexit. “How ya doing…?” Mr Brownstone. Welcome To The Jungle. Rocket Queen. Sweet Child O’ Mine. Nightrain… The London Stadium set-list practically wrote itself. And so did the reviews, which were notably kinder than the raspberries blown when Axl dragged his hired hands to the O2 in 2010. “You can’t blow the roof off a stadium that doesn’t have one,” trumpeted The
Guardian, “but they damn well tried.” “Really, this the band’s itinerary continued to frustrate – how had no right to be as good as it was,” gushed The come Germany is getting four separate shows? Times. “Big stadium rock is inherently ridiculous,” – the big news was that Download had pulled off considered The Telegraph, “and when played in front the festival coup of next summer. “It’s great to have of 80,000 people in its natural home, it not only this iconic line-up of Guns N’ Roses headlining at makes perfect sense but transports you Download,” said festival boss Andy Copping. “I’m somewhere thrilling.” sure I’m not alone when I say I have been wanting Classic Rock’s Dave Everley was more measured: this to happen for years.” “We get the hits, of course. Drill down, though, The other entry on fans’ wish list is a studio album and you can’t help but wonder at some of the song from the classic line-up. This was the year that choices. Eight covers – including The Appetite turned 30 – an event marked with a private Damned’s New Rose, a mawkish Black Hole Sun and concert at New York’s Apollo Theater in July – and instrumental versions of Wish You Were Here, the a tantalising development is that by next summer piano outro from Layla and the theme from The there may be new material. The core line-up have Godfather – is taking the piss. This is a stadium, not been operating under a virtual media blackout in the lounge bar of the Holiday Inn, Poughkeepsie.” 2017, but guitarist Richard Fortus didn’t get the Another note of dissent came from the Arts Desk, memo, confirming in July that “magical” studio which complained that “the material is in its early stages. acoustics at the back of the “We’ve been recording a Axl Rose: “still-potent venue felt like sludge… those lot of stuff,” he told the St. banshee howl”. drinking in the bars outside Louis Post-Dispatch. “Just could probably hear Axl and ideas… but not going into Slash more clearly”, but a studio and actually conceded that “the evening’s tracking a new record. climax, Sweet Child O’ Mine, Asked if he thought a new was a thing of true beauty”. GN’R album will happen, But money talks louder Fortus answered: “Yeah, I do. than any rock hack, and It’s sort of too good not to with the London dates alone happen at this point, that’s pulling in £13.1 million, how I feel about it. This band June was never going to be is really a force right now, the Gunners’ kiss-off to and I definitely hope that we Britain. In November, a run do, and I think we’re all sort of European dates for 2018 of counting on it and we’re was announced. And while also planning on it.”
The boys are back in town: Guns N’ Roses delighted thousands of fans – and made a financial killing – in 2017. CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 67
Adventure Continues… With rumours (“read between the lines”) of Def Leppard playing Hysteria in full and in the round next year, and more to come from his Down ‘N’ Outz, Joe Elliott’s 2018 is looking busy. Words: Dave Ling Portrait: Ross halfin
ber-fanboy Joe Elliott was thrilled by an invitation to support Mott The Hoople at Hammersmith on the final night of their 2009 reunion tour and, with members of the Quireboys in tow, the Down ‘N’ Outz were born. As the Def Leppard singer reveals, despite being conceived as a one-off project they continue to raise their heads when schedules allow, the dusting-down of a new in-concert DVD acting as an hors d’oeuvre for a third album that’s in the preparation stages. In the seven years since you spoke to Classic Rock about the first Down ’N’ Outz album, My Re-Generation, what was once called a project has developed into a real band. That’s almost as long as The Beatles were together [laughs]. Since then we did a second album [The Further Adventures Of…] in 2014, there were tours with Paul Rodgers and Vega and the debacle of the High Voltage Festival, and we’re now working on a third album.
The concert album and DVD The Further Live Adventures Of… were recorded at the Corporation in your home city of Sheffield in 68 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
Why has Live Adventures remained in the vaults for three years? I had wanted to archive the tour, that’s why it was filmed. But of course I went back out on tour with Leppard, and then we recorded the album [Def Leppard, 2015] so the Down ‘N’ Outz returned to the back burner. That’s an issue that
we always have to juggle. But it’s the whole point of the Down ‘N’ Outz; it’s about going on holiday – stepping out of a soap opera to make an indie movie. In that first Classic Rock interview, you said you hoped D‘N’O will record “a minimum of four albums”. Volume two, as you rightly predicted, comprises some “lesser known” Mott songs, such as Violence and Crash Street Kidds. Is the plan still to record “other songs from the same period but totally different bands” for the third album? No, that one was skipped. We sat down over a couple of pints and made a shortlist – Band On The Run [by Wings] and [10cc’s] Wall Street Shuffle were on it, so was Crazy Horses [The Osmonds] – but it got discarded when I sat down at the piano and found myself channelling stuff. I was writing a song a day.
“The whole point of the Down ‘N’ Outz is about going on holiday – stepping out of a soap opera to make an indie movie.”
The Down N’ Outz at the Academy, Dublin.
Original Down N’ Outz material, you mean? Yeah, but of such a style that it doesn’t matter because they’re right out of the 1970s. I’ve played the songs to the guys and they thought they were great. So we jumped ahead to the fourth record I’d been planning, which was always going to be selfpenned. I’ve got around seven or eight songs, and there will be one non-Mott cover. Will the other guys chip in? They’re very welcome to, put it that way. But as I always tell Paul [Guerin] and Griff [Guy Griffin, guitarists], they’d need to run them past Spike first. It’s probably better if I write, to avoid any potential conflict. I do hope they’ll bring in something. If somebody writes one that sounds like Cheap Trick but didn’t work for the Quireboys, I’m sure it would for us.
© NIALL FENNESSY PHOTOGRAPHY/PRESS
Share Ross, a member of Vixen, has joined on bass. What happened to Ronnie Garrity? We’ve had a different pass player on every record. When the Down ‘N’ Outz got together the Quireboys were between bassists, so it was suggested we bring in Ronnie. We then had Snake Luckhurst [formerly of Thunder], but by trade he’s an estate agent, so he was always going to be temporary. Share sings, too, and she’s also great eye candy on stage – better than an estate agent [chuckles].
December 2014. Had your voice returned after a bout of flu that could have ruined the London gig? I was dying of pneumonia. And I’ll be completely, bluntly honest, this was filmed in Sheffield but it ain’t recorded in Sheffield. Some of the music is cobbled together from various performances on that tour. It’s live, but not all of it is from the same show. Mirror Ball [Leppard’s 2011 live set] was just the same – that was recorded in twenty different venues.
When do you hope to release that album? It’s not due until September 2018, but with Leppard on hiatus until May there are lots of things on the go, some catalogue things that I can’t yet tell you about. We’ve found some stuff, let’s say. The great thing about having an attic full of cobwebs and boxes is that sometimes you go: “Ooh, I didn’t know we had that.” Right now, downstairs [in the studio] I’m juggling five different projects. The next Down ‘N’ Outz gigs will probably be in 2019. In the meantime, Frontiers Records are re-releasing those first two albums with added bonus tracks. They’re coming out on vinyl, too. I can’t believe I’m going to see these records on vinyl. Fucking great. Let’s look back over 2017. What for you were the best and worst things about the past twelve months? The best was the Leppard tour [mostly in the United States]. It was exciting to go back to South America and play some shows with Aerosmith and one with The Who. We hadn’t been there in twenty years, so no one knew what to expect. I struggle for something negative. I mean, Sheffield United got promoted [back to the Championship] with a hundred points, come on! 2016 was way worse – Bowie and Buffin [Dale Griffin of Mott The Hoople] both died, as did so many musicians into their seventies. I’m lucky I’m only fifyy-eight. Losing Tom Petty was a complete bummer. I didn’t really know the guy – we met a couple of times, but I couldn’t say we were friends – but I was an enormous fan of his work. We did American Girl as a bonus track for Yeah! [Leppard’s covers album of 2006], that’s how much love we had for him. Will you be making any New Year’s resolutions for 2018? No. I don’t drink much any more, and I’m not becoming a vegan. Health and happiness are my priorities. Save for a handful of people, I’m not expecting anyone to give a shit about a third Down ‘N’ Outz album. But it’s all about legacy. Whatever I leave behind I want to be good. If people discover it down the road, that’s fine. Townsend and Daltrey had us in their dressing room, and Pete said: “The great thing about Leppard is legacy, and unlike us [The Who] you guys can carry it forward.” When somebody like Pete Townshend tells you that, it makes you think. Months ago you were cagey about the suggestion that in 2018 Leppard will revisit Hysteria, in its entirety, live in the round. I believe in a big bang [of a news announcement]. Go on, light a firecracker or two. There’s nothing to say beyond “Watch this space”. People are still talking to people. Is something gonna happen? Yeah. Will there be some English and Irish dates? Probably. But are they booked yet? I’d be lying if I said that they were, and foolish to say it’s definitely happening, because it might not. Read between the lines, should you wish. The Further Live Adventures Of… is out on December 1 via Frontiers Records. CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 69
They came, they saw, they rocked and then they left us. Raise a glass to the rock’n’rollers who departed in 2017. Thank you for the music…
October 20, 1950 – October 2, 2017 Singer-songwriter with Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers, solo artist and American music great
December 8, 1947 – May 27, 2017 Keyboard player/singer/guitarist with the Allman Brothers Band and solo artist
JOHN WETTON June 12, 1949 – January 31, 2017 Bassist/vocalist with Asia, King Crimson and more
April 22, 1936 – August 8, 2017 Singer/guitarist and country music legend
July 20, 1964 – May 17, 2017 Solo artist and singer with Soundgarden and Audioslave
March 20, 1976 – July 20, 2017 Singer with Linkin Park
TOM PETTY, CHESTER BENNINGTON, GLENN CAMPBELL: GETTY; GREGG ALLMAN, CHUCK BERRY, JOHN WETTON: REX FEATURES
CHUCK BERRY October 18, 1926 – March 18, 2017 Singer/guitarist/songwriter and rock’n’roll pioneer
DAVID A SAYLOR Died January 1 2017 Singer with Push and Wild Rose
AL JARREAU March 12, 1940 – February 12, 2017 Genre-hopping vocalist
ERIC COOK August 29, 1961 – April 11, 2017 First manager of Venom
NIC RITTER Died June 29, 2017 Drummer with Warbringer
PETER SARSTEDT December 10, 1941 – January 8, 2017 Composer and performer of the 1969 chart-topper Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)?
PETER SKELLERN March 14, 1947 – February 17, 2017 Singer-songwriter
BARRY ‘FROSTY’ SMITH March 20, 1946 – April 12, 2017 Drummer with Sweathog
MELVIN ‘DEACON’ JONES December 12, 1943 – July 6, 2017 Blues-rock organist
LARRY CORYELL April 2, 1943 – February 19, 2017 Jazz-rock fusion guitarist
BARRY MARSHALL-EVERITT November 8, 1947 – April 16, 2017 Radio presenter, tour manager and promoter
DAVID ZABLIDOWSKY Died July 14, 2017 Bassist with Adrenaline Mob
HOLGER CZUKAY March 24, 1938 – September 5, 2017 Bassist with Can
TOMMY ALLSUP November 24, 1931 – January 11, 2017 US rockabilly guitarist
HORST MAIER-THORN Died February 19, 2017 Singer with Bonﬁre
KENNY SHIELDS Died July 21, 2017 Singer with Streetheart
DON WILLIAMS May 27, 1939 – September 8, 2017 Country music singer
MIKE KELLIE March 24, 1947 – January 18, 2017 Drummer with the Only Ones
RICK CHAVEZ Died February 25, 2017 Guitarist/vocalist with Drive
MICHAEL JOHNSON August 8, 1944 – July 25, 2017 Pop, country and folk singersongwriter and guitarist
PETE OVEREND WATTS May 13, 1947 – January 22, 2017 Bassist with Mott The Hoople
DANNY SPOONER December 16, 1936 – March 3, 2017 Folk singer
ALLAN HOLDSWORTH August 6, 1946 – April 16, 2017 Guitar hero extraordinaire
VIRGIL HOWE September 23, 1975 – September 11, 2017 Drummer with Little Barrie, son of Steve Howe
JAKI LIEBEZEIT May 26-1938 – January 22, 2017 Drummer with Can
JOEY ALVES August 3, 1953 – March 12, 2017 Rhythm guitarist with Y&T
LES PAYNE Died May 1, 2017 Producer of Marillion’s ﬁrst, three-song demo
TOMMY LIPUMA July 5, 1936 – March 13, 2017 Record producer JAMES COTTON July 1, 1935 – March 16, 2017 Blues harmonica player BUTCH TRUCKS May 11, 1947 – January 24, 2017 Drummer with the Allman Brothers Band
SIB HASHIAN August 17, 1949 – March 22, 2017 Drummer with Boston
TOM EDWARDS Died January 25, 2017 Guitarist with Fields Of The Nephilim GEOFF NICHOLLS February 29, 1944 – January 28, 2017 Keyboard player with Quartz and Black Sabbath
BUTCH TRUCKS, ELYSE STEINMAN, ANITA PALLENBERG, ALLAN HOLDSWORTH, HOLGER CZUKAY: GETTY; WALTER BECKER: REXFEATURES
MICK HAWKSWORTH Died January 28, 2017 Bassist with Andromeda, Fuzzy Duck, Five Day Week Straw People and Toe Fat GABRIEL ‘GUITAR GABLE’ PERRODIN August 17, 1937 – January 28, 2017 Louisiana swamp blues guitarist DEKE LEONARD December 18, 1944 – January 31, 2017 Guitarist/vocalist with Man and Iceberg JOHN SCHROEDER Died January 31, 2017 Early producer of Status Quo and others
BRUCE ‘THE COLONEL’ HAMPTON April 30, 1947 – May 2, 2017 US jam band stalwart C’EL REVUELTA Died May 3, 2017 Bassist with Black Flag CASEY JONES July 26, 1939 – May 3, 2017 Blues drummer CECILIA KUHN November 11, 1955 – May 4, 2017 Drummer with Frightwig
ELYSE STEINMAN Died March 30, 2017 Slide guitarist with Raging Slab
CLIVE BROOKS December 28, 1949 – May 5, 2017 Drummer with Egg, The Groundhogs and Liar
ALEXANDER KWAKU BOATENG Died March 31, 2017 Drummer with Osibisa
JIMMY COPLEY December 29, 1953 – May 13, 2017 Drummer with Jeff Beck, Magnum and more
LONNIE BROOKS December 18, 1933 – April 1, 2017 Texas bluesman
KEITH MITCHELL Died May 14, 2017 Drummer with Mazzy Starr
IKUTARO KAKEHASHI February 7, 1930 – April 1, 2017 Pioneering developer of drum machines, effects and synthesisers
DAVE ‘SHIRT’ NICHOLLS May 8, 1965 – May 25, 2017 Sound engineer for Saxon, Diamond Head, Thin Lizzy and more
PAUL O’NEILL February 23, 1956 – April 5, 2017 Producer, composer and manager of Trans-Siberian Orchestra
ROSALIE SORRELS June 24, 1933 – June 11, 2017 Folk singer-songwriter
KENI RICHARDS Died April 8, 2017 Drummer with Autograph, Dirty White Boy and Mark Lanegan
ANITA PALLENBERG April 6, 1942 – June 13, 2017 Actress and former girlfriend of Keith Richards
ROBERT ‘STRÄNGEN’ DAHLQVIST April 16, 1976 – February 1, 2017 Guitarist/vocalist with the Hellacopters
BRIAN MATTHEW September 17, 1928 – April 8, 2017 Broadcasting legend
SHEILA RAYE CHARLES Died June 17, 2017 Singer-songwriter, daughter of Ray Charles
STEVE LANG March 24, 1949 – February 4, 2017 Bass player with April Wine
BANNER THOMAS Died April 10, 2017 Bassist with Molly Hatchet
BELTON RICHARD October 5, 1939 – June 21, 2017 Cajun accordionist and vocalist
TRISH DOAN Died February 11, 2017 Bassist with Kittie
J GEILS February 20, 1946 – April 11, 2017 Leader of the J Geils Band
JIMMY NALLS May 31, 1951 – June 22, 2017 Touring member of Sea Level
GOLDY McJOHN May 2, 1945 – August 1, 2017 Keyboard player with Steppenwolf
FRANK CAPP August 20, 1931 – September 12, 2017 Jazz drummer
TONY COHEN June 4, 1957 – August 2, 2017 Record producer FELIX FLANAGAN December 8, 1947 – August 4, 2017 Harmonica player KENNY KANOWSKI Died August 6, 2017 Guitarist with Steelheart JASON CORSARO July 27, 1959 – August 16, 2017 Record producer and mixer SONNY BURGESS May 28, 1929 – August 18, 2017 Rockabilly guitarist and singer JOHN ABERCROMBIE December 16, 1944 – August 22, 2017 Jazz guitarist JANE TRAIN Died August 23, 2017 Tour manager for Adrenaline Mob MICK SOFTLEY September 26, 1939 – September 1, 2017 Folk scene veteran RICK SHORTER Died September 1, 2017 Folk singer MURRAY LERNER May 8, 1927 – September 2, 2017 Music ﬁlmmaker HARRY SANDLER Died September 2, 2017 Tour manager for the Eagles, Van Halen and John Mellencamp
GRANT HART March 18, 1961 – September 13, 2017 Drummer with Hüsker Dü and Nova Mob WILL YOUATT Died September 13, 2017 Bassist with Man, Quicksand and Deke Leonard’s Iceberg JOHNNY SANDLIN April 16, 1945 – September 19, 2017 Producer of the Allman Brothers Band GUY VILLARI Died September 21, 2017 Lead singer with The Regents HAROLD PENDLETON Died September 22, 2017 Head of London’s Marquee club JACK GOOD August 7, 1931 – September 24, 2017 Producer of 60s TV pop shows Oh Boy!, Six-Five Special and Shindig STEPHEN ‘CATBIRD’ ROBINSON Died September 26, 2017 DJ with TotalRock Radio CEDELL DAVIS June 9, 1926 – September 27, 2017 Blues guitarist and singer RAINER HÄNSEL May 4, 1954 – October 3, 2017 Promoter, producer and label boss ALVIN DEGUZMAN Died October 4, 2017 Guitarist with the Icarus Line
WALTER BECKER February 20, 1950 – September 3, 2017 Bassist/guitarist with Steely Dan DAVE HLUBECK August 28, 1951 – September 3, 2017 Guitarist with Molly Hatchet
AL FRITSCH Died October 9, 2017 Vocalist with Drive, She Said EAMONN CAMPBELL November 29, 1946 – October 18, 2017 Guitarist with The Dubliners
, Sisteicrk StRreaety, Berw on Soho, Lond
RECORD STORE CHALLENGE
Walter Trout Words: Paul Lester Portraits: Will Ireland
mbient techno is not the most obvious soundtrack for record shopping with blues guitarist Walter Trout, a man whose on-stage guitar pyrotechnics and off-stage antics – the latter culminating in his near-death from liver failure in 2013 – genuinely warrant the epithet ‘legendary’. Still, that’s what’s on the stereo at Sister Ray on Berwick Street in Soho, and Trout is nothing if not game. “Pet Shop Boys and Soft Cell,” he says, pretending to rifle excitedly through the synth-pop section. “That’s the real me.” Suddenly he’s distracted by something even more mouthwatering. “Now for some krautrock,” he jokes, heading for the 70s German proto-electronica section. “A little Tangerine Dream, maybe…” Trout is on good form today – very good, in fact, for a man who almost died. Far from the emaciated, harried figure circa 2014, he looks robust, swaggering about the shop in his hooded black anorak like Liam Gallagher’s friendly uncle from New Jersey. While some people who’ve cheated death retreat into themselves, Trout couldn’t be more open, embracing every experience with almost childlike glee. Take today’s Record Store Challenge, for which he has been given £50 to spend on his vinyl of choice. He couldn’t be more engaged. Gags in which he feigns interest in unlikely genres aside, he’s not going to waste a single penny on anything but music of the finest vintage. “There’s a Ray Charles album I’d love to find,” he says, his gregarious bark clearly audible over the shop’s somnolent electronica, as he eagerly flicks through the pioneering American singer/composer’s records. And, despite its relative rarity, there is a copy. He seems quite moved. “My god, there it is.” He clutches lovingly The Genius Sings The Blues and reminisces about life in white suburbia – Ocean City, New Jersey – in the 50s, where his parents 72 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
murder my [elder] brother and me with a hatchet,” Trout recalls. “He’d chase us around, chop down the door of the bedroom, and my brother would hold him off with a shotgun. We’d jump off the porch and go sleep in the woods.” Life wasn’t much more tranquil at his dad’s place in Philadelphia, where he lived with his new wife. “Oh god, she was fuckin’ nuts,” he says. “I remember her one time, she comes out of her bedroom naked and she’s waving a forty-five [handgun] and she goes: ‘I’m gonna kill myself!’ And my dad said: ‘Stop.’ And she said: ‘Don’t try to stop me.’ And he says: ‘No, I was just gonna show is childhood with his carpenter dad and you how to turn off the safety on the gun.’” teacher mum sounds idyllic, almost So, not very genteel, then. genteel. My use of the ‘g’ word makes him “It was insanity. If it hadn’t been for music, I’d laugh out loud. There was nothing genteel about it, have ended up in a mental hospital.” especially after his parents divorced when he was Spotting the Todd Rundgren section reminds seven and both got remarried to people he him of the time he bought a Byrds album from describes as “mentally ill”. His the teenage Runt, who stepfather’s issues were was working behind the understandable: he had been counter at Jerry’s Records in a Japanese prisoner of war and Philadelphia and a budding had been tortured. Hardly blues guitarist himself. A surprising, then, that he came Laura Nyro album prompts home from World War II with another recollection – of the post-traumatic stress strange day when Trout, aged disorder, at which point he 16, ran away to Greenwich was told to “be a man and Village in an attempt to find suck it up”. But he had other the darkly confessional coping strategies in mind. singer-songwriter, with “He’d get drunk and try to whom he’d fallen in love after seeing her on TV. “I walked around for hours looking for her because I wanted to ask her to marry me.” As we loiter by the jazz and blues sections, he remembers his first musical hero – Al Jolson – and also his mum taking him, aged 10, backstage to meet jazz legend Duke Ellington. From the age of six Trout played trumpet, and joined the school band. This was partly to avoid Physical Education class, where he was bullied Trout made The Beatles were fans of Charles as well as BB King, John Lee Hooker, John Coltrane and Mississippi John Hurt. His father would take him to black jazz clubs in Atlantic City, his mother escorted him to concerts by Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Ella Fitzgerald. “It’s going to be hard to get through this,” he says, continuing his story, misty-eyed. “They had this album, and I remember walking in one day and one of the songs was playing, and my mum was crying. I said: ‘What’s the matter, mum?’ I was about five years old. She said: ‘That song…’ I haven’t seen the album since.”
“It [seeing The Beatles on TV] was February ninth, 1964, eight p.m. on Sunday. It was seismic for my generation.”
crave an electric guitar.
One for a Christmas stocking: Walter finds an album by his son Mikeâ€™s favourite band.
by the “jocks” because of his hair, which was long because of The Beatles – he’d become infatuated after seeing them on the Ed Sullivan show. “It was February ninth, 1964, eight p.m. on Sunday night, Channel 2 CBS in Philadelphia,” he recalls, remembering the precise moment history was made for young America. “It was seismic for my generation.” When Trout was 10 he’d been given an acoustic guitar, but seeing The Beatles made him crave an electric one. His new direction was confirmed after his brother introduced him to the Paul Butterfield Blues Band album. “I’d never heard blues played with that fire and aggression, that fast and at that volume,” he gasps. “It said on the back: ‘Play it loud.’ So my brother and I cranked it up, and it was like, ‘Holy shit!’ From the age of fourteen, I knew: ‘This is what I’m gonna do.’”
“A measly fifty quid, Lester? What do expect me to be able to buy for fifty quid?!”
“I remember being drunk and telling Bruce Springsteen I didn’t think he was all that good on guitar.”
hen Trout was 16 he formed his first band, Wilmont Mews, who played cover versions of Beatles, Stones and Santana songs. He soon found himself competing with a wannabe star on the local circuit. “Bruce Springsteen was in his band Steel Mill at the same time as us, and we’d play these clubs with two stages, one on either side of the room,” he remembers. “As soon as one band stopped the other would start. I remember being drunk and telling him I didn’t think he was all that good on guitar. He said something like: ‘I’m writing songs’, and I said: ‘I hope they’re good, cos you’re not much of a lead player.’” In 1974, Trout moved to Los Angeles, where he joined a country band who had a residency at a club called Gazzarri’s on Sunset Strip. Around this time he became a drug dealer. Or as he puts it, “a fucking big-time dope gangster”. Apart from running errands, such as driving Gregg Allman to the methadone clinic for treatment and sorting out local pop stars, he was involved in a major way in the importing of cocaine, heroin and opium. To facilitate his business, he fell in with a couple of smugglers. “Basically, I met a girl and she took to me, so I moved in with her,” he explains. “And she was in business with those guys.”
It was all going well, until one day there was a knock at the door from two men in suits. They were FBI agents. “They said: ‘Hi, Walter, we just want you to know we arrested your friends, Daulton Lee and Christopher Boyce, for espionage. We’re watching you.’” He fled to Huntington Beach, although to say the episode put him off fast living would be an exaggeration. He spent the next decade – even as he began his career, first as a sideman for Percy Mayfield, Joe Tex and John Lee Hooker and then as a member of Canned Heat and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers – pursuing women, drink and drugs with some vigour. Which of those appealed most? “That’s a hard question,” he replies. He did everything, including injecting heroin: “Whatever means of ingestion were available, I’d go for it.” He spent “a couple of houses’ worth” on getting wasted; the mid-70s passed in a narcotic blur, his desire to numb the senses a hangover from his troubled upbringing. Not that it worked. “No, because as soon as the dope wore off the pain was still there,” he says. He gave up smack around seventy-five, following his run-in with the Feds, but carried on caning the coke and booze until the late eighties. That’s when the realisation finally hit: “I needed to confront the things that had hurt me in the past, not escape them.” Two people saved Trout’s life: Carlos Santana, who 30 years ago encouraged him to give up drink
CHECKOUT WITH £50 OF CLASSIC ROCK’S MONEY IN HIS POCKET, HERE’S HOW WALTER TROUT SPENT IT.
“There’s a Ray Charles album I’d love to find.” he says, as he eagerly flicks through the pioneering American singer/ composer’s records. And, despite its relative rarity, there is a copy. He seems quite moved. “My god, there it is…” With a burger and the album he most wanted to find, Walter is a happy man.
and drugs; and the anonymous liver donor who allowed doctors to operate on him in 2014. Without both, Trout would now be dead. “It all seems like a bad dream,” he says of the period when he was diagnosed with cirrhosis, as he makes his last few unexpected purchases at Sister Ray today: the debut album by Curtis Mayfield, Big Star live and Tim Buckley’s Goodbye And Hello. “I was completely gone mentally and physically. I didn’t recognise my wife and kids, I had brain damage, I couldn’t talk, I lost a hundred and twenty pounds. I was in bed for eight months.” Trout has gone from enfeebled to enthused – as he says: “I’m so alive now.” True enough – the night before this interview, he played an astonishingly vital set at Under The Bridge in London. He might have just released a new album – We’re All In This Together, a series of collaborations including Joe Bonamassa and Eric Gales – but he’s already primed to write the next one. “I’m imbued with energy, creativity, gratefulness and passion,” he beams. “I’m like a different human being to what I was four or five years ago. I’m bursting. I could literally sit down in the next week and write you a new album. I feel fucking great.” It’s been quite a journey. How does he plan to celebrate his 50th anniversary as a performer, in two years’ time? “I’ll go out and play a gig somewhere,” he decides as he heads to the counter with his purchases. “I’ll keep gigging till I can’t gig any more. I’m inspired by guys like John Mayall, who’s eighty-three and still does two hundred shows a year. I would love to make it to that age and be out there, giving it everything I got.”
Goodbye And Hello – Tim Buckley “It came out [in 1967] when I was in the midst of some severe emotional turmoil. I was still in high school and dealing with my home situation. I was basically a lost soul, not real happy being alive, looking for some semblance of sanity in the world. I just sat and played my guitar. The song Morning Glory really spoke to me. It’s beautiful, and still emotional to me.” The Genius Of Ray Charles – Ray Charles “On his Atlantic Records albums he was literally inventing soul music: taking black church gospel songs, writing secular lyrics and turning them into secular music. He realised the emotional resonance and potency of black gospel church music, and figured if he could get that out to the public but not be religious he’d be on to something.”
Curtis – Curtis Mayfield “One of the greatest shows I ever saw was Curtis in St Louis when I was with John Mayall on a night off, at a place called The Club. It was mind-blowing. He was also a great guitar player. He invented that style that Hendrix used on songs like The Wind Cries Mary – really soulful. And his songs were political statements – comments on racism, society and black struggle, like [Don’t Worry] If There Is A Hell Below, We’re All Going To Go.” Live – Big Star “I’m a good friend of [Big Star drummer] Jody Stephens, who also runs Ardent Studios. I recorded seven albums there. Chris Bell [late guitarist and singer] was a real troubled fellow and [late frontman] Alex Chilton went through a lot of phases. My twenty-one-year-old son, Mike, that’s his favourite band. The way we were with The Beatles, he’s like that with Big Star.”
We’re All In This Together is out now via Mascot. CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 75
Ringing the changes: current Professionals Paul Myers (left) and Paul Cook.
After the Pistols dream ended as a nightmare, Steve Jones and Paul Cook eventually returned with The Professionals. Now the latest line-up are giving it another go and “having a bit of fun”. Words: Ian Fortnam Photos: Will Ireland
alcolm McLaren loved a soundbite. He’d generously deploy succinct pearls of wisdom at every given opportunity. Paul Cook, recalling his flaming youth at the epicentre of the punk firestorm over a bracing cup of tea, recounts one of his late manager’s absolute favourites: “He’d say: ‘You’ve got to destroy in order to create, boy. You’ve gotta destroy.’” As situationist rhetoric goes, it’s a classic; when stencilled on to a shirt, a design for life. But in the real world – or at least the music business – what do infamous iconoclasts do for an encore? The Sex Pistols were a hard act to follow. Especially for the Sex Pistols. “It was pretty tough,” Cook, the band’s drummer, admits of the year he and guitarist Steve Jones spent in limbo following the Sex Pistols’ irreparable split of January ‘78, “wondering what to do with
let’s not get ahead of ourselves. For every ‘happily ever after’ there’s a ‘once upon a time’, and ours occurs in London’s Shepherd’s Bush. “Me and Steve have known each other since we were ten years old,” says Cook. “He was a terrible influence on me, but a good one as well. He was a wayward boy, a loose cannon. Always the one making things happen, leading everyone astray, getting us into trouble or excitement. He stayed at my house a lot. We were like brothers.” Jones frequently stayed with friends, and for good reason. As he recently revealed in his startlingly frank autobiography Lonely Boy, his home life was tumultuously toxic, defined by a combination of neglect and abuse. It stole his childhood, bequeathed intimacy and chemical addiction issues, along with a predisposition toward petty crime that resulted in frequent spells in reform school. A prolific burglar of his favourite rock star’s homes, it was only a matter of time before Jones recognised music as the only feasible off-ramp from his life’s on-going downward spiral. Cook nearly avoided the drums. At first it was Jones who took to the stool when their schoolboy gang decided to emulate the Faces, but as “the obvious outward-going, showoff frontman-type”, Jones was cattleprodded reluctantly upfront. “Steve never felt comfortable being the singer, ever,” Cook continues. “He always felt more at home on guitar. Even in The Professionals. I ended up on the drums by accident, really, but once I had the mission, that was it. Full steam ahead.” Even under full-steam, a life in rock was a far from foregone conclusion. Paul Cook: “We were just normal working-class kids, and it [rock] was all quite college-y and art school-y back then. We used to go down the King’s Road, hang around Malcolm’s shop and I guess he saw a hunger in us. He was the only one who’d listen. So eventually we thought that we’d better stick in here. Steve used
“I wasn’t surprised it all [the Sex Pistols] imploded at the end, I was relieved.” Paul Cook ourselves after being in such an iconic band. In the end we thought we’d better knuckle down and carry on as The Professionals, otherwise we were just going to fade away.” Obviously, once you’ve torn down the temple, you can’t really expect too many invitations to rejoin the choir. As if alienating their industry wasn’t enough, the Pistols had apparently set out to destroy rock’n’roll itself, so rebuilding a career in its ruins was never going to be easy. Consequently The Professionals’ initial incarnation careered, as if cursed, from chaos to catastrophe. Now they’re back, with heavy friends, for a second crack. But 76 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
The Professionals - with guitarist Ray McVeigh (foreground) - playing Mount Vernon, New York in 1981.
to be there all the time, he was never at school and would end up doing a bit of work for Malcolm. Then Glen Matlock joined, who fortunately worked in the shop, so then there was all three of us cajoling Malcolm to get involved as manager, saying we needed a singer, and that’s when it started getting serious.” Enter John Lydon with ‘Rotten’ teeth, a notebook full of game-changing lyrics, and the rest, as they say, is some of the most familiar history ever fine-tooth-combed for column inches.
pooling forward through the Pistols’ rapid dissemination of the punk message to a coming generation (from its tabloid-driven Grundygate recruitment drive to its ‘Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?’ final denouement), we find a shell-shocked Cook and Jones, adrift in San Francisco in the wake of a chaotic Sex Pistols US tour so catastrophically ill-conceived that it ultimately saw Rotten bail, smack catastrophe Sid Vicious (Matlock’s replacement) overdose on the dressing room floor and the band unravel. “It was horrible, a shambles,” shrugs Cook. “Sid was totally out of control. It was very dark. I thought someone was going to get killed. It was heavy, really scary. Malcolm booked us to tour the south to cause maximum press and carnage. I wasn’t surprised it all imploded at the end, I was relieved.” Meanwhile, McLaren had, somewhat naively, sunk all of the band’s capital into a far-fromfinished movie, The Great Rock ’N’ Roll Swindle, which desperately needed a soundtrack if it were to ever see the light of day. Along with the Sex Pistols name, Cook and Jones had also inherited the band’s responsibilities, which they had to honour before moving on. With no one particularly keen to return to England, and a proposed Pistols Swedish tour pulled due to “the state Sid was in”, McLaren’s next cunning plan involved cutting a single in Rio with Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs. “God knows what we were doing there. We went from one mad scenario in the States to an even madder one in Rio,” Cook says. Still reluctant to face the post-Pistols media frenzy unfolding at home, the pair remained in Brazil on their sun-loungers for six weeks. But their tans came at a cost. Every day that the unfinished Swindle debacle meandered on, with Jones co-opted as its star by default, their next move, The Professionals, were missing their moment. The first Professionals single was meant to be Silly Thing. A version with Cook singing was originally contrived to flesh out the Swindle
“Tom’s enthusiasm’s led to us writing some songs together, which is great, because we didn’t want to do this as a nostalgia trip.” Paul Cook soundtrack, while a superior version featuring Steve’s vocal was earmarked to be The Professionals’ debut A-side, but it didn’t quite work out that way. Silly Thing was released under the name Sex Pistols and hit UK No.6. “Nobody knew what was going on,” Cook recalls. “Everybody was going: ‘What’s this? It’s the Pistols, but Steve’s singing on it. Have they finished or are they still going?’ That whole era of the Pistols was a real balls-up. We should have just drawn a line under it.” Silly Thing’s success also impacted on the band that The Professionals became: “Because Steve sung on it, he was forced into being the singer, a position he never felt comfortable with,”says Cook. The band’s first batch of original songs, meanwhile, came courtesy of yet another movie.
“At the end of the Swindle me and Steve started writing songs for this mad film we did in Canada called The Fabulous Stains. We played the band – Paul Simonon was on bass and Ray Winstone was the singer – and that was the beginning of our songwriting. All the songs we wrote in that era went on The Professionals’ first album.” Signing to Pistols label Virgin in 1980, Cook and Jones’s Professionals (then using Lightning Raiders bassist Andy Allan for sessions) released a brace of modestly performing singles: Just Another Dream and 1-2-3. But just as their debut album was set for imminent release, Allan sued Virgin for credits and cash, and as a consequence the all-important first album was shelved. Once again, impetus lost. “We was our own worst enemies,” Cook admits. “Virgin were willing to give us this big deal to carry
THE PROFESSIONALS ‘And another thing!’ Myers and Cook aren’t short of ideas (or contacts).
The current Professionals: (l-r) Paul Myers, Paul Cook, Tom Spencer, Chris McCormack.
“Steve was clean while we were on the road, getting his act together, but his heart wasn’t in it.”
“I was around thirteen years old when I first heard the Pistols. Being from a family of eight kids, I finally had a band and sound I could claim as my own. Jonesy’s guitar sound and style, Cookie’s drum attack and groove remain the benchmark for what’s right with rock‘n’roll, and have influenced my every musical move since. “I’m sure they don’t remember, but my band The Fastbacks opened for The Professionals in Vancouver in 1980 or ‘81. I was in the company of legends, and more than likely just another young goof they were trying to get away from (plus… I didn’t have drugs!). I became friends and then good friends with both of them in the
mid-nineties because Steve and I played in the Neurotic Outsiders together. “When Cookie asked me if I wanted to be on the new record it took me less than one half of one micro-second to say yes. I was never physically in the studio with the band, but I have a little home operation and was able to get a guitar sound that fit the tracks that they sent from England. It’s a great way to do it these days. I did the same a few years back on a Manics record. “Did I enjoy being a Professional? Are you kidding me? They’ve always been one of me and all of my teenage friends’ favourite bands. They all freaked when I said: ‘Hey! Guess what?’ If you listen to
my guitar playing on Neurotic Outsiders or Loaded stuff… it’s all about Steve. He taught me how to play through the Pistols and The Professionals.”
on after the Pistols, which we signed eventually, but we put it on the shelf for ages. It all came back to Steve not wanting to be the singer. We were writing, but it wasn’t until Paul [Myers, bass, formerly of Subway Sect] and Ray [McVeigh, second guitarist] joined that we thought: ‘We’ve actually got a proper band together now so we’d better crack on.’” Getting serious at last, The Professionals engaged Dave Hill as their manager. Hill also represented The Pretenders and Johnny Thunders. What could possibly go wrong? Initially, Hill’s connections brought only opportunities: Cook and Jones, both fans of Phil Spector, hooked up with Chrissie Hynde to record a sumptuous (still unreleased) wall-of-sound version of The Ronettes’ Do I Love You. They had also worked briefly with Joan Jett. As well as contributing to Don’t Abuse Me and a version of Lesley Gore’s You Don’t Own Me for Jett’s debut solo album, they played on and arranged a B-side version of The Arrows’ I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll which, latterly re-recorded (“they copied our arrangement right down to the last detail, guitar solos, everything”), provided her with her biggest hit. The pair also appeared on Johnny Thunders’ So Alone album, the sessions for which have since passed into notoriety. “It was a pretty dark time all around that scene,” Cook recalls, “Considering all the drugs stuff that Thunders, The Pretenders and Steve were involved in, I’m amazed he got the So Alone album together at all, really.” Within a year, seven months of which was spent securing a release for the band’s Join The Professionals single (which didn’t chart), Dave Hill had quit to concentrate on the rapidly ascendent Pretenders. Bassist Paul Myers had seen it all before: “You can’t manage two groups. It was like Bernie [Rhodes] with The Clash trying to manage us in Subway Sect, it never really works. Dave managed us for about a year, but we weren’t easy to manage.” “And with Steve going off the rails at the time,” Cook adds, “he thought: ‘I don’t need this.’ We were still finding our way: we recorded tracks, didn’t like them, did them again. Virgin were going: ‘Come on,’ and we just let it go on and on.” CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 79
THE PROFESSIONALS The Professionals’ eponymous debut was finally released –17 years too late – in 1997. With John Curd enlisted as manager, the band set to work on their second attempt at vinyl immortality, I Didn’t See It Coming, with producer Nigel Gray. Unfortunately the production rapidly went awry, and Steve Jones remained off the rails – and he wasn’t alone. “It sounded pretty weird,” Cook considers before turning to Myers: “Was you even there?” “I was there in body,” Myers admits, “if not in mind. I was totally fucked up.” Popular myth has it that Johnny Thunders’ Heartbreakers arrived into the London punk scene at the close of ’76 as smack evangelists; that the sudden prevalence of heroin within the punk scene was all down to them. “Everyone blames The Heartbreakers,” says Cook. “But it’s too easy to blame them.” Paul Myers, in many ways the voice of experience, having cleaned up and subsequently worked in addiction counselling, has his own theory. “Back then, a lot of American bands were overdosing all over the place because the heroin in London was so much stronger than in New York. Even before The Heartbreakers came over there was a heroin scene in London. Then when the Iranian revolution happened in ‘79 there was a sea change. Until then, all that was available was white heroin you had to inject. And a lot of people wouldn’t cross that line. After the revolution a lot of wealthy Iranians came over to London and brought brown heroin you could smoke. Suddenly brown heroin was widely available to people who didn’t want to use needles, and within a matter of months you had a massive addiction problem in London.” Cook nods in agreement. “It decimated the scene,” he says. “A lot of people got into it.” On a personal level, Steve Jones turned to heroin because, as Myers succinctly puts it: “Steve’s not a frontman, ended up being a frontman, and didn’t like it”. The I Didn’t See It Coming sessions soon
“I first saw the Pistols at their second Manchester gig in July 1976. They left a huge impression on me and, of course, like many people of my generation they changed the course of my life. Unlike many I still have the poster and two tickets – it cost a quid, by the way. I have to give a shout out to The Buzzcocks who opened the show with their first ever gig who were amazing too; I ran out and bought Spiral Scratch as soon as it came out. And also Slaughter And The Dogs, from my local council estate, who probably were the biggest reason I went to the show, to see the ‘local lads made good’. “I met Steve [Jones] in Los Angeles in, I think, 1987 when The Cult were on a short break, after the Billy Idol arena tour we’d just completed, and before we embarked on our own headline tour with special guests Guns N’ Roses. I believe we were attempting – unsuccessfully – to record a song for a single. Too many distractions, I think. Steve came by on his big red Harley and let me have a go. Been mates ever since. As for Paul [Cook], I think I met him when he was drumming for Chiefs Of Relief, who played with The Cult at
foundered because Nigel Gray (“Who’d rather have been riding his horse”) soon lost interest and, while Steve was absent scoring, “let the engineer take over”. The album, its strong material emasculated by inappropriate production, fell short of the chart. The Professionals, it seemed, had missed their moment. Again. Punk was old news and much of their core home constituency had moved on. They played one show in the UK, to a disinterested Futurama Festival in Leeds (“We played Leeds?” Myers deadpans) before trying their ‘luck’ in America. Inevitably, things didn’t quite go as planned. “The album came out, nobody was interested because they were expecting the Pistols,” says Cook. “So we went to the States to do a six-week tour, and some drunk came down the freeway and smashed right into us.” Predictably, the Steve Jones ‘cloak of invisibility’ meant he was not in the car at the time. “That’s typical,” Cook tuts. “We all end up getting bashed up and nearly killed, and he’s having a whale of a time in a hotel somewhere, scoring drugs with some bird.” “Steve was lucky,” Myers considers. “But I felt really lucky being smashed up, because it was absolutely fantastic. All these nurses pandering around me. Six weeks after, I left the hospital and I cried, I wept, because I had to come home. I was so happy in that hospital. It was one of the happiest times of my life.” As the band recuperated, the writing was on the wall. The battered, bruised Professionals eventually returned to the road to honour the US dates but, as Myers remembers: “Even though there were some good gigs, it seemed the group didn’t have legs.” Cook: “Which was a shame, because we were really getting good. Steve was clean while we were on the road, getting his act together, but his heart wasn’t in it. At the end of the tour we were supposed to come home but he ended up staying in the States, and he’s been there ever since, and that was the end of that.”
Brixton Academy around the same time. “Paul asked me if I fancied playing on a track or two of the new Professionals album in his usual no-stress, low-key way, and I was, of course, happy to do so. “Once I had set up a studio session to play on the tracks, Steve Jones called me up, and initially I was worried he was gonna bollock me for playing, when in fact he asked me if he could come along at the same time and play a bit too. That’s how we ended up on the same three tracks. The session was fun, so we decided to do another, and that was how it came to be. “It was an amazing experience for a fanboy like me to play with Steve and Paul. It’s probably apparent that we are all fairly close friends these days anyhow, and at times we have ‘jammed’ with each other, but it was still both an honour and a thrill, especially to record with Steve at the same time. On one of the tracks, I think I tapped into my inner Steve, the ‘when in doubt, Chuck Berry it out’ guitar solo approach which has served us all very well over the years.”
ended in familiar circumstances, as Cook remembers: “A good little band that never really went anywhere. Matthew was getting more and more fucked up as we went along. Drugs again, the same old story.” He has also enjoyed a 20-year plus association with Edwyn Collins and made two albums with Def Leppard’s Phil Collen and Girl’s Simon Laffy as Manraze. And Myers? “I had a serious drug problem for many years, so I didn’t really do anything other than steal and rob. I tried to be a manageable addict. I did gardening
“I felt really lucky being smashed up, because it was absolutely fantastic. All these nurses pandering around me.”
ollowing The Professionals’ original demise in 1982, Steve Jones joined Michael Des Barres’ ill-fated ‘supergroup’ Chequered Past (with Clem Burke, Nigel Harrison and Tony Sales). After finally removing the debilitating spectre of heroin from his life, he recorded a couple of poorly received solo albums – Mercy (’87) and Oil And Gasoline (’89) – made a series of cameo appearances with everyone from Iggy Pop to Bob Dylan and, in the mid-90s formed the Neurotic Outsiders with Duran Duran’s John Taylor and GN’R’s Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum. Paul Cook resurfaced in ’85, replacing Dave Barbarossa in Matthew Ashman’s post-Bow Wow Wow project Chiefs Of Relief, which accounted for the better part of five years but
Paul Myers work but sold all the equipment. I started with a load of mowers and a year later was down to a pair of secateurs. Everything went to pot. They eventually locked me up in Wandsworth prison for a while and it got even worse from there.” Cook: “I think that was Jonesy’s influence.” Myers: “I wouldn’t say so, because you have to remember I came into The Professionals addicted, and I just met another addict, and two addicts in a band is just a no-no.” Ultimately cleaning up in 2000, Myers got a call from Vic Godard, his former compadre in Subway Sect, asking him to return to the stage. He wasn’t sure. “I was nervous. But when he said ‘Paul [Cook] is on drums’ I thought why not give it a go.” After a relatively short stint playing together behind Godard, the pair were left at a mutual loose end and, taking a long hard look at the elephant in the room, Myers suggested to Cook they put The Professionals back together again. “Even when I was saying it I knew it was mad.” Mad or not, soon the idea gained momentum and former members were approached. As label Universal geared up to release The Complete Professionals compilation in October 2015, a Professionals line-up was in place to launch the album at London’s 100 Club. The two Pauls were joined by Ray McVeigh (who subsequently parted company with the band. Cook: “It didn’t work out. Different dynamics”), and vocalist/guitarist Tom Spencer in place of the absent Steve Jones. Despite the fact that Cook and Jones have remained firm friends, and returned to tour the world twice (in ’96 and ’07) with a re-formed line-up of the Sex Pistols, Steve Jones wasn’t about to walk away from his burgeoning second career as a successful radio presenter (of the Jonesy’s Jukebox lunchtime slot on Los Angeles KLOS) to re-form and front a band that, for him at least, held only bad memories. Thankfully, though, in Spencer, Cook and Myers had found exactly the right frontman with whom to move forward, write fresh material and record an album worthy of their reputation. Cook had met Spencer through Ginger Wildheart: “I sang Pretty Vacant at Ginger’s birthday gig with Cookie on drums,” says Spencer, a Pistols fan since acquiring Never Mind The Bollocks when he was 10. “They got in touch a while later asking if I’d come sing and play guitar at rehearsals. They were
Myers and Cook: not letting the grass grow under their feet this time.
still trying to tempt Steve Jones over, but by the time it became obvious he wasn’t going to travel to the UK the rehearsals had got better and the new line-up had taken on a life of its own.” Witnessing the new, dynamic Professionals lineup live, Spencer is also far more suited to his role as frontman than Jones ever was. “Tom loves it,” says Myers, “while Steve was a reluctant frontman. Tom puts a hundred per cent into it and he’s a natural.” Cook: “Tom’s enthusiasm’s great. It’s led on to us writing some songs together, which is great, because we didn’t want to do this as a nostalgia trip. Losing Ray opened up other avenues, having different guests playing. That wasn’t the plan, it
“The Pistols ushered in a desperately needed breath of fresh air, as the music industry and the country were becoming fairly stale. I never suffered teenaged angst as a kid because I had a release valve that was playing and creating music. But when I first heard God Save The Queen that valve was opened all the way. Forget genres and labels, the Pistols were the ultimate rock band with an absolute fuck-offness that I’d never heard before, that affected everything around it, from fashion, politics and UK society in general. “As I’m from London I’d be playing in some of the same pubs and clubs that the Pistols were in. I’d also hang out in some of the same places as Paul and Steve so, it was the occasional nod ‘Alright’ type thing, and after Def Leppard blew up we eventually
wasn’t contrived, but once we was back to a threepiece it opened up the spare guitar parts.” With an address book like Cook’s, it didn’t take long to fill the vacant guitar tracks on the album that became What In The World’s 10 songs. It’s consequently something of a star-studded affair, featuring Phil Collen, Duff McKagan, The Cult’s Billy Duffy, ex-Clash Mick Jones, ex-Ants Marco Pirroni, ex-3 Colours Red Chris McCormack (who has taken on the role of live second guitarist at all the band’s recent dates), and even shy, retiring Steve Jones has been coerced into adding his trademark Bollocks to three tracks. “I was in Los Angeles not long ago, “ says Cook.
started talking, especially if we were both touring the States. “Aside from playing together in Manraze, myself and Paul have remained great friends outside the confines of the band, and Paul’s wife Jeni is an inspirational life-changing raw-food specialist as well as being friends with me and my wife, Helen. So when Paul and Jeni stayed with us in California earlier this year Paul said: ‘We’re doing a new Professionals album. Wanna play on it?’ I jumped at it. And one song turned into three. I recorded it at my house and I loved it. I naturally play guitar very aggressively, but don’t always get the chance to let go, so this was perfect.” “Did I tap into my inner Steve Jones? Absolutely. I love Steve’s playing and he is an inspiration. I’ve told him before but I’m
not sure he believes me. Steve’s guitar sound is one of the two best guitar sounds I’ve ever heard live, and I’ve seen everyone from Zeppelin to Van Halen, and Steve’s energy and sound is still the best. And I’ve always loved Paul’s playing. Probably because he uses the sticks upside down so he can hit the drums harder. But the two of them are like a living, breathing entity. It’s such a rare delight.”
“I tried to cajole him into doing some vocals as well, but getting him to do guitar was hard enough.” Dave Draper’s ballsy production (with significant assistance from both the two Pauls and NMTB’s midwife Chris Thomas, who popped down to Zak Starkey’s studio on the day of this interview to cock an expert ear and suggest tweaks to the final mix) has finally captured The Professionals sounding exactly as they should have always sounded. With their unfinished business having reached a satisfactory conclusion and their ultimate statement finally into shops and on to turntables, where next? Have these particular Professionals got sturdier legs than their former incarnation? “Well we’re having a bit of fun doing it,” Cook understates. “We might even make a few bob. Because he’s broke, aren’t you?” he says to Myers. “You need the money.” “I’m being made redundant,” says Myers. “I’m an addictions counsellor, and with all the cutbacks in health, the job’s going… At the best possible time, funnily enough.” “You might even be able to become a professional musician,” Cook retorts. “Hopefully earning money, if things pan out.” “I’m not sure if I wanna be a professional musician like him.” Myer’s concludes wistfully. “I quite like the idea that I’m a very nonprofessional musician… Cup of tea?” And why not? Maybe there’ll be better luck in their leaves this time around. What In The World is out now via Automaton. CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 81
“I think A Farewell... was an important album for us. We did go into new territory with that record.” Celebrating 40 years of Rush’s evergreen masterpiece with Geddy and Alex. IS I NC LSU E 82 U DE S… 11T R
Feat urin ACK C Brot g Von H D ert he Cow boys rs, Gala zen , B ram ctic Arc Life hives, Stoker sign Kyro s, s, and Chaome try, mor e…
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S M U B L A
Iron Maiden The Book Of Souls: Live Chapter
The best bits of the band’s mammoth tour, boiled down to 15 tracks across two discs.
ive albums are interesting creatures. Made to capture a moment, somewhere in time, giving fans the ability to relive that one special night. But one show just isn’t enough for some bands. Iron Maiden’s gargantuan The Book Of Souls World Tour hit 36 countries in its two-year run, unleashing hell in Buenos Aries, Cape Town and beyond, and for The Book Of Souls: Live Chapter the best bits have been curated into one blistering track-list. Maiden have long been cultivating their global fan base, and throughout the ‘concert’ you can hear how ecstatic and elated every metalhead is at the mere sight of Steve Harris. The audiences are just as integral a part of the Maiden live show as the band, filling the enormodomes of the world with deafening “whoa-oh”s, screaming on Bruce Dickinson’s command. Unfortunately the beer-loving frontman’s between-song witticisms and ponderings – which often prove to be the most amusing moments of any Maiden show – aren’t included here, but Live Chapter is a master class in what the mighty Maiden mean in 2017. The track-listing leans heavily towards the new album (although sadly without the inclusion of Tears Of A Clown from the first leg of the tour), and the energy and tenacity poured into The Great Unknown is just as ferocious as it is into The Trooper. 86 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
Comprising 15 tracks across two discs, it’s not the epic two and a half hour set that Metallica might roll out, but the hand-picked anthems still receive the rapturous banshee screams that they did decades ago. Sure, there’s no Run To The Hills, Hallowed Be Thy Name or 2 Minutes To Midnight, but the welcome addition of a punked-up Wrathchild and a lifeaffirming rendition of Blood Brothers more than makes up for it. And while Fear Of The Dark doesn’t match the iconic version from Rock In Rio, there’s still something joyous about hearing thousands of your brothers and sisters in arms on the other side of the world bellowing it out. Of course, no live album, or even a DVD, can ever match up to a live show, by Maiden or anyone else. So much of the Book Of Souls tour was about the visuals and the theatrics – from the Mayan stage set to the giant inflatable Beast to the beating heart spurting gallons of blood – the sheer scale of the operation is obviously missing from an audio recording. But what you can feel is the sense of conquest; you can almost hear the band’s Eddie-sized grins as another trip around the planet is complete, with Harris and co. still proudly flying the flag of heavy metal. QQQQQQQQQQ Luke Morton
Back On The Lash CARGO What rock’s angriest man did next. While nobody can really blame Warrior Soul mainman Kory Clarke for dropping out of the fight every few years to mop up the blood and give his embattled liver a brief respite from further punishment, now is probably the most crucial moment this band have ever had. He always warned about a fascist, warmongering USA, and now he’s got one. If rock’n’roll’s angriest man was ever gonna rally the troops and bring truth to power, the time is now. So this better be some album. And it is. Perhaps the most focused blast-cannon of steely-eyed sleaze-metal since 91’s Drugs, God And The New Republic, Back On The Lash is not a political screed by any means, it is simply and inexorably rock as fuck. Heavier than a hammer to the skull. Sleazier than Times Square in the summer of ‘77. Badder than ol’ King Kong. Meaner than a junkyard dog. I think that’s the trick here: hook the kids with the hard stuff and then recruit ‘em for ongoing culture war. See you on the front lines. QQQQQQQQQQ Sleazegrinder
Evanescence Synthesis RCA Goth-rock superstars give themselves an electroorchestral remix. After six years on semi-hiatus, Amy Lee’s multi-platinum goth-metal arena-rockers return with a notquite-new fourth album comprised largely of old material rearranged for electronics and full orchestra. Evanescence are no strangers to strings and synthesisers, of course, but the Synthesis’s guitar-free remakes have a windswept grandeur and widescreen sonic palette lacking in the original recordings. Two new compositions, Hi-Lo and Imperfection, are both classy, stadium-sized anthems that couch soaring Bond-theme melodrama in supple trip-hop shudders and sumptuous, vaguely Middle Eastern string swirls. Baroque reworkings of Lacrymosa and Never Go Back also harness the full power of the orchestra to amplify rather than restrain Lee’s roof-raising histrionics. Less impressively, operatic power ballads like My Heart Is Broken and Lost In
Paradise sound a little deadened by blustery, Lloyd Webber-ised arrangements. A handful of solo piano interludes also summon inescapable echoes of Spinal Tap’s Lick My Love Pump. Overall, though, Synthesis feels like a successful experiment. QQQQQQQQQQ Stephen Dalton
The Adicts And It Was So! NUCLEAR BLAST Droogy East Anglian punk veterans return. Forty-two years into their career, evergreen Ipswich punks The Adicts still look pretty ageless in their Clockwork Orange-inspired droog costumes. Not much has changed musically, either, as evidenced by this first album since 2012, with its 12 pubby punk-rock chantalongs. Even when Picture The Scene departs from the template by lasting five and a half minutes, it’s five and a half minutes of a boom-thump beat and a simple riff allied to lyrics such as: ‘Picture the scene, it’s so surreal… Picture the scene, know what I mean?’ Still, no one’s expecting high art, and it’ll probably still do the business in front of a spittleflecked mosh-pit, and blunt, verging-on-self-parody tracks like Talking Shit will sound positively profound with rhymes like: ‘So out your head, you had to go to bed… Shut up, shut up you, you always tell me what to do.’ QQQQQQQQQQ Johnny Sharp
Mike Love Unleash The Love BMG Love is not the answer. Mike Love tends to be painted as the bad guy in the story of the Beach Boys; the domineering profiteer who’d rather play safe and commercial than accommodate the creative ingenuity of Brian Wilson. “For those who believe that Brian walks on water, I will always be the Antichrist,” he once said. While the received narrative is both unfair and way too simplistic, Love doesn’t do himself any favours on his first solo album in 26 years. As if he doesn’t quite believe in these songs himself, he’s opted to append Unleash The Love with an extra disc of re-recorded Beach Boys classics (California Girls, Good Vibrations, Help Me
Rhonda etc), presumably as a gesture of appeasement. Nothing can save the album itself, however. Love offers up the kind of unrelentingly tame MOR that makes Christopher Cross look edgy. What’s worse, the lyrics are packed with so many trite clichés that you can’t help but wince, whether he’s wishing for world peace on Make Love Not War (which manages to make room for the Trump-supporting Love to thank the USA ‘and all the folks protecting us very day’), dredging up seafaring love metaphors on Too Cruel or fashioning sappy eco ballads like Only One Earth. QQQQQQQQQQ Rob Hughes
The Sourheads Care Plan For The Soul OAK ISLAND
Heads-down, no-nonsense directionless rock du jour. The Sourheads’ promo photo shows their bearded frontman emulating Iggy Pop in a swaggering, shirtless pose, while the rest of the band, shorthaired, indie-looking lads in spectacles and scarves, stand around awkwardly. It’s a bemusing introduction to the Wakefield-based quartet. Meanwhile, the album cover and title are just plain misleading: a tranquil image of a figure on
a beach, and the peaceful Care Plan For The Soul. But what Sourheads actually specialise in is a dishevelled, balls-out concoction of classic rock with a punk-rock strut (that explains the Iggy Pop pose, at least) and a grungy feel. The album is more a raucous, fastpaced ride than a collection of stand-out songs, and, like that promo pic, it lacks focus. QQQQQQQQQQ Hannah May Kilroy
Austin Gold Before Dark Clouds JIGSAW UK rockers already grown on their debut. There’s something unnerving about the way these Peterborough blues rockers seem to spring fully formed from this first album. The band are based firmly along the Free/Bad Company axis, but there’s an unexpected poise and maturity on the opening tight and impressive Brand New Love, and also on the title track where they allow the song to build its own momentum. The lyrics are personal and sometimes downbeat, and if singer David James Smith’s style is still a work in progress it won’t take long to develop. Guitarist James Cable has already carved out a niche for himself with his prog-styled flavourings. They’re not afraid to tackle a broad range of songs – too broad, maybe. They’re most confident on the
rockers, but they need to pay more attention to their ballads, some of which are a bit plain, but at least they don’t resort to fake emotion. QQQQQQQQQQ Hugh Fielder
demonstrates that artistic quality cannot be confined to a specific place in time. QQQQQQQQQQ Emma Johnston
Swedish Death Candy HASSLE Skull-rattling Scandinavian psychedelia. First of all, Swedish Death Candy are not Swedish, they’re British. They just hate that gross Swedish licorice. Join the club. We could really drill down on the dark majesty of this blistering debut album if we had more time, the takeaway here is that it’s basically Neil Young if he was a punk rocker and planned on living forever. While they maintain a bedrock of swirvy, swirly doom - think Cathedral without the bullshit or Monster Magnet with more monster this is really a pretty fucking groovy psychedelic rock’n’roll record. While it never goes so far that you’re lost in the woods forever, there are a good few minutes of hardcore, freeflowing, I-am-naked-andmaybe-dying moments in here, particularly during the pretty incredible single Love You Already and the skull-rattling opener Last Dream. Like their spiritual forebears in JAMC, the Stooges or Daisy
Interiors EPITAPH New York post-hardcore heroes step back into the fray. When a muchloved band returns after a lengthy period in the wilderness, often a feeling of anxiety is as palpable as one of excitement. And as this is the first new Quicksand album in 22 years, the fear that it could never hope to compare with their impeccable two albums from the mid-90s, Slip and Manic Compression, was very real. So it comes as a pleasure to report that from the rumbling opening notes of Illuminant it’s as if the New York band never went away in the first place. This is edgy post-hardcore that wears its brains on its sleeve, frontman Walter Schreifels’s warm rasp bringing a sense of humanity to the taut, grungy, often dreamlike technical brilliance of the music, which regularly explodes into glorious lava flows of pure noise. Neither a work of nostalgia nor a move away from the blueprint that made them so special in the first place, this album
Swedish Death Candy
ROUND-UP: MELODIC ROCK
Raintimes Raintimes FRONTIERS Raintimes began life as a personal tribute to the exquisite and much missed talents of The Storm, a Journey breakaway combo from San Francisco that featured Gregg Rolie, Ross Valory and Steve Smith. On the other side of the world in Northern Italy, Pierpaolo ‘Zorro’
Monti played Storm’s two albums so much, especially their second, 1996’s Eye Of The Storm, he almost wore them out. More than 20 years after The Storm folded for good, Monti, by then a member of the successful AOR acts Shining Line and Charming Grace, wrote a song called Forever Gone in their style. When Davide Barbieri, his pal from Charming Grace, became involved and the pair roped in Michael Shotton of Canadian veterans
Von Groove to provide a steady hand with the vocals, Raintimes were born. Forever Gone opens this album like a divine throwback of those days of postgrunge defiance, although fidelity-wise the production places things in a more modern context. And there’s plenty more where it came from – Make My Day, Don’t Ever Give Up, I Need Tonight, Together As Friends… you’ll struggle to find a duffer here. QQQQQQQQQQ
Powerman 5000 New Wave PAVEMENT MUSIC The silly side of industrial metal. There’s a song on this eleventh album from this Boston industrial crew (fronted by Rob Zombie’s little brother, Spider One) called Sid Vicious In A Dress, a high-octane love song to a hot mess on the road to selfdestruction, that sums up everything you need to know about Powerman 5000. While musically they offer up a pounding blast of noise, lyrically they have their tongue firmly in their cheek. At least we hope they do, since they follow that up with David Fucking Bowie, a tribute of sorts imploring us to dance like the great man, gleefully mangling his Space Oddity in the process. Which makes attempts at seriousness like No White Flags a little jarring. Like your industrial metal with a side order of high camp? Then step right up. QQQQQQQQQQ Emma Johnston
By Dave Ling Eisley/Goldy
The Radio Sun
Blood, Guts And Games In which frontman David Glen Eisley and guitarist Craig Goldy fail to redeem themselves following their clusterfuck of a set at Rockingham 2015 as part of the Gregg Giuffra-less Giuffria (yes, really). Isley’s voice has seen much better days, and these songs are so lumpen and uninspiring that BGAG must rank among 2017’s most crushing disappointments. QQQQQQQQQQ
Unstoppable PRIDE AND JOY MUSIC Once again produced by Paul Laine of the Defiants, Unstoppable is the fourth full-length album from these Aussie Leppard-alikes. Long-term fans of The Radio Sun will know what to expect from the band by now, and the keyboards from guest player Andy Shanahan of Down Under cult heroes Roxus on the ballad Dreams Should Last Forever provide an additional bonus. QQQQQQQQQQ
Black Butterfly ESCAPE MUSIC Rightly revered for his contributions to Kansas and Streets, Steve Walsh retired from the former band three years ago. Given the forlorn shape of his voice and spirit back then, this slick collection of melodic-pomp songs – crafted with back-up from Tommy Denander and Steve Overland, among others – is far, far better than anyone could have reasonably expected. QQQQQQQQQQ
Winners And Losers
Raintimes: you’ll struggle to find a duff track.
Chainsaw, SDC offer a nearperfect balance of pop perfection and bone-gnawing dissonance. No matter how noisy it gets, you’re never too far away from a tasty hook lurking just around the corner. Unlike the chewy fish they’re named after, this is some seriously tasty shit. QQQQQQQQQQ Sleazegrinder
In 1987, Ronnie Montrose teamed future Foreigner vocalist Johnny Edwards with fellow ex-King Kobra man JK Nortrup on guitar, producing some of the songs now heard on this previously unreleased set. The results, which found their way on to records by Foreigner, King Kobra and Paul Shortino, should satisfy fans of Humble Pie and 80s Bad Co. QQQQQQQQQQ CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM.87
Pretty Boy Floyd
Peter Hammill From The Trees FIE! Sparse of instrumentation yet filled with meaning and emotion as mortality beckons.
hen Barry Manilow croons the line ‘I write the songs that make the whole world sing’ ,we doubt very much whether he has a picture of Peter Hammill in the back of his mind. The Van der Graaf Generator mainman is not what one would call a populist figure in the world of music. His songs are bleak, morbid and mesmerising – much to the delight of hardcore fans who like nothing better than having their tender souls jolted to the core. But the whole world? Not so much. From The Trees is the latest in a very long line of determinedly individualistic, some might say self-absorbed, Hammill solo albums. Will it win the highbrow progster new admirers? Not a jot. Will it sell more than a generous handful of copies? Unlikely. But that doesn’t stop it being achingly, challengingly brilliant. The overriding theme is, as ever, an intensely personal one. Since suffering a heart attack in 2003 Hammill has been haunted by visions of his own mortality. Now nearing his 70th birthday – and if you’ll forgive the image of a rancid tramp waving a placard down Oxford Street – he realises the end is nigh. Thus From The Trees, to quote the man himself, is full of songs that explore – or, more accurately, dissect – the experience of “facing up to or edging in towards twilight”. Taking a leaf 88 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
out of Love’s Arthur Lee’s little red book, then: all that lives is gonna die. Of course this could be dismissed as a cute marketing ploy as a recent survey concluded that 86.4 per cent of VdGG fans were OAPs. (We’re joking of course, although Hammill plainly isn’t.) In common with much of PH’s modern-day output the album has a sparse, cottage-industry appeal. Occasional bursts of fierce, psychotic guitar evoke the spirit of punk-rock alter ego, Rikki Nadir. Otherwise it’s voice and piano and very little else. The intimacy is at times so intense it’s almost frightening. It is, to borrow the title of a VdGG song, ’eavy mate. There are some clever subplots too, Hammill being at the very top of his lyrical game. Reputation issues this chilling message to the Kardashian generation: ‘You might as well admit that in the final reckoning fame and fortune are falsehoods that leave you for dead.’ But as someone whose late father suffered from Parkinson’s disease a song called Anagnorisis (and it is a genuine word; look it up) hits home hard and true with the words: ‘The shaking in his hand is a sign of goodbye not hello.’ What more is there to say except: Peter Hammill – death becomes him. QQQQQQQQQQ Geoff Barton
Public Enemies FRONTIERS The Boyz are back – and pretty in places... Nearly four decades on from their cartoon glam metal debut Leather Boyz With Electric Toyz little has changed, stylistically, in the world of Hollywood’s Pretty Boy Floyd, reunited (again) for this fifth studio outing. Guitarist Chris Maggiore (appearing as his alter ego Kristy Majors) has rejoined and now handles bass and production duties as well. Given that Steve Podwalski (aka Steve Summers) still sings like a cross between Vince Neil and one of those Disney chipmunks, the main successes of this album are when Majors’ riffs cleverly and brazenly revisit Too Fast For Loveera Mötley Crüe. For a band of fiftysomethings Pretty Boy Floyd exhibit an unhealthy interest in teenage girls, but when they get it right – as on Feel The Heat (‘Hot is what we got!’), We Got The Power (‘We’re young and wild!’) and their cover of the Starz classic So Young So Bad – it’s perfectly preposterous. QQQQQQQQQQ Neil Jeffries
Palaye Royale Boom Boom Room SUMERIAN Indie with a little bit more of what you fancy. Palaye Royale have a look that’s Rolling Stones hitting the Sunset Strip and describe themselves as ‘fashion art-rock’ – but don’t let this put you off. Though their chiselled faces are destined to appear on posters on bedroom wall of many a teen, there’s substance beneath the surface. The Canadian-born threepiece might now be based in Las Vegas, but their sound closely emulates that of noughties Britain: the jaunty indie pop of the tracks on their debut will appeal to anyone who had Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand and Kaiser Chiefs on their stereo. Palaye throw some garage and glam into the mix too, and the result is a collection of highly polished rock songs right from the rollicking opener Don’t Feel Quite Right, that would get even the grumpiest grouch on the dance floor and would also slot in perfectly on the stages at Reading and Leeds festivals.
At 15 songs the album length may test some attention spans, but it’s a seriously strong debut. QQQQQQQQQQ Hannah May Kilroy
Cactus Black Dawn SUNSET BLVD Still prickly. There was nothing very complicated about Cactus, even in their early 70s heyday, but they did their thunderous heavy rock well enough to be touted as the US’s answer to Zep. This is the second time Carmine Appice has reformed the band; the first was in 2006 with original bassist Tim Bogert and guitarist Jim McCarty and new singer Jimmy Kunes plus harmonica player Randy Pratt. This time Bogert appears twice but Appice’s trademark driving beat and McCarty’s simple but effective solos with choruses to match keep the spirit of Cactus topped up. Vocals were never the band’s strong point but Kunes’ could be regarded as an improvement. And Pratt’s heavy harmonica adds variety. They’re not afraid of a direct comparison either: the last two tracks are previously unreleased from the original band, including the wild jam, C-70 Blues. QQQQQQQQQQ Hugh Fielder
Santa Cruz Bad Blood Rising M-THEORY AUDIO
Fearsome Finns with a soft underbelly. Three albums in and Helsinki’s Santa Cruz are beginning to stray from their template. 2013’s Screaming For Adrenaline and its self-titled successor established them as turbo-charged Skid Row acolytes with a penchant for scuzzy, soaring guitars and stompalong choruses. This time around, the near-title-track Young Blood Rising, the self-explanatory Fire Running Through Our Veins and Pure Fucking Adrenaline, plus the anthemic Voice Of The New Generation re-state their case, while Johnny Cruz’s dazzling guitarwork on River Phoenix is the sound of a man who’s as good as he thinks he is. But, these Finns are not entirely what they used to be. Breathe opens with some nifty whistling before Archie Cruz rasps over a pretty melody,
strings and choral voices. Get Me Out Of California is better still: a scarf-waving ballad, which explodes into no-holds-barred frenzy. It’s the song of their career and it’s the song that might make their career. QQQQQQQQQQ John Aizlewood
Virgil & Steve Howe Nexus INSIDEOUT Posthumous album from Yes guitarist’s late son. Nexus is a beautiful instrumental album comprising music largely put together, with the help of his father, by Virgil Howe, sometime member of Amorphous Androgynous and, as a member of Little Barrie, creator of the theme music for Breaking Bad prequel Better Call Saul. Recording began in 2016, when Virgil would send musical ideas, based on piano sketches, to Steve, who then added acoustic, electric and steel guitar to each one. Virgil proceeded to flesh them out with keyboards, synths, bass and drums. Tragically, and suddenly, Virgil died on September 11, 2017, as this was about to be released. A decision was made to go ahead, Nexus growing from a series of duets to, as Steve has explained, “something bigger and better, more of a complete
picture than a mere shape”. The title track sets the tone, all elegiacal piano and plangent electric guitar motif. The arrangements vary – Hidden Planet has skittering, drum’n’bass percussion while Night Hawk has Moog burbles and Passing Titan features a sitar-sounding guitar like Ravi Shankar in space. Listeners might project because of the events of September ‘17, but the titles – Leaving Aurura, Astral Plane, Infinite Space, Freefall – suggest a journey into the vast unknown, which in a sense Virgil has undertaken. It is brave of fellow cosmonaut Steve to make public his son’s final voyage. QQQQQQQQQQ Paul Lester
about ordering a curry. This is relentlessly progressive stuff, two lengthy discs covering tricky material from showpieces like Starless and 21st Century Schizoid Man to most of the Lizard album (played live for the first time). There are stabs from their more jagged 80s work plus a new song, The Errors, which is appropriately bombastic. Milestones amid the experimentation, those trademark doomy, almost metal riffs lock in. As the ensemble have themselves declared, this was a gig where everything sparked: Chicago fire. The encore of Heroes is earned. QQQQQQQQQQ Chris Roberts
Live In Chicago, June 28th 2017 PANEGYRIC “Official bootleg” catches Crimson at full tide. The evermorphing KC are currently enjoying a purple patch as a “double quartet”. With their huge, defiantly awkward music there’s plenty to keep all eight virtuosi busy. Three drummers – that’s more than The Glitter Band! – switch between industrious and intricate as ringmaster Fripp, Levin, Collins, Jakszyk and Rieflin aren’t given the slightest chance to think
Fake Nudes UMC Trumpocalypse peepshow. This may be their 15th studio album in a career knocking on 30 years, but more significantly it’s the fourth since founder member Steven Page quit in 2009. As the major songwriter, his departure raised questions but these have all been answered and they now sound even more like a band than they did before. The title theme runs through the first four songs as the band gaze across the border from their homeland at the unfolding
of America, put succinctly on the opening singalong Canada Dry. They then try the view from different angles on the equally catchy Bringing It Home and Looking Up and the Rubber Souldrenched Invisible Fence. After that they starting letting their characteristic quirks do the talking, notably on the lilting reggae-infused Nobody Better and the potent Navigate in which they invoke the spirit of Peter Gabriel. QQQQQQQQQQ Hugh Fielder
Kansas Leftoverture Live & Beyond INSIDE OUT Two-CD live album of the 40th anniversary Tour. The number of musicians who, like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz are not in Kansas any more, is impressive. However, as drummer Phil Ehart, one of the two remaining originals freely admits, that’s of little concern to their fans so long as they continue to provide the Kansas experience, so much a fixture of the American rock scene they could almost make a theme park ride out of it. This, then, is the Kansas ride through 40 years of elaborate, at times over-elaborate, prog rock boogie, now featuring David Ragsdale on lead violin, leading the dance down the byways of
Trucker Diablo Fighting For Everything BAD REPUTATION
New Brit hard rock finery. Swooping in with an arena rock attitude, the third album from this Northern Irish foursome elevates them to a new level. Often referred to as stadium pub rockers, the emphasis is now firmly on the ‘rock’, their songs blazing with big ambitions. Taking cues from AC/DC, Lizzy and Black Stone Cherry, the records hits you right in the chops with the muscular Born Trucker and We Will Conquer All. Let’s Just Ride is so insistently catchy you’ll want to rewind and OD on its melodic drift. Guitarists Tom Harte and Simon Haddock have an understanding of what Lizzy, Aerosmith and Wishbone Ash achieved; Hart’s vocals are also convincingly powerful. The band are at their best on epic closing track When The Waters Rise – a joyous amalgam of beautifully balanced passion and depth. High grade quality all round. QQQQQQQQQQ Malcolm Dome
By Sleazegrinder Hot Mayonnaise Heavy Moments SELF-RELEASED HOTMAYONNAISE.BANDCAMP.COM
Hot Mayonnaise: hot and heavy.
their back catalogue. Carry On Wayward Son features, as does Icarus (Borne On Wings Of Steel). A fan’s memento. QQQQQQQQQQ David Stubbs
This is merely speculation, but if I had to guess, I’d say that collectively the only book that Rochester, New York band Hot Mayonnaise have ever read is The Dirt by the Mötley Crüe and the only bands they’ve ever listened to are Black Sabbath and the MC5. Which is perfect, really. Who needs anything else? With titles such as Dungeon Of Love and Stoned N’ Dangerous they’re the living embodiment of everything you’ve ever been warned about, they are what happens if you let rock’n roll rot your brain. Remember the back-masking Satanic panic of the 1980s? Finally, it worked on somebody. If you let these Hot Mayonnaise into your house, they will destroy it. They will eat your food and clog your toilet and give your pets venereal diseases and turn your basement into a meth lab and then accidentally blow it up. And they won’t be sorry, and you won’t even be mad about it. That’s the beauty of this band, man. They are you, if you were a fucking lunatic. And this album is a monster. QQQQQQQQQQ
Baby And The Nobodies
Kiss This SELF-RELEASED
Snotty, glammy punk rock’n’ roll from Olympia Washington that sounds like NY Loose or maybe Social Distortion with Mike Ness’ street-fightin’ kid sister on vocals. Hooky, tight, and ready to rumble, Kiss This is a blast of teenage rebel rock full of safety pins, bubblegum and the kinda glue Joey Ramone was sniffing. QQQQQQQQQQ
You might think that 46 songs is too many for one album. But listen, man, you don’t win a rock’n’roll war unless you’ve got enough ammunition. Germany’s Blood God play a kind of muscle-bound hard rock that eschews any subtleties for unapologetic bludgeon. Even Rose Tattoo would think these dudes are too macho. QQQQQQQQQQ
Seven Dirty Words
The Saintanic Verses
Along For The Ride
If a band writes a song called Samurai Frankenstein, you’d expect a lifestyle to go with it. I’m fairly certain South Carolina’s Gutter Saints live up to whatever weirdo sex-death fantasies Mega Sci Fi Astro Dick/Monster Movie Kung Fu Kicks suggest. Grimy apocalyptic Z-movie r’n’r delirium. Delivers the greasy goods. QQQQQQQQQQ
Californian smokebelchers 7DW return with their fifth album and they have lost none of their venom or lust for speed and mayhem over the past decade. Less an album and more of a highlight reel of Evel Knievel’s greatest motorcycle wrecks, Along For The Ride will bust every bone in your body and you’ll love it. QQQQQQQQQQ CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 89
Electric Eye From The Poisonous Tree JANSEN PLATEPRODUKSJON
Bob Seger I Knew You When CAPITOL Hollywood Nights man can still come out fighting, but the quality control is suspect.
stage in the past – where the line ‘Democracy is coming to the USA’ suddenly sounds more barbed than the author of the original probably intended. The biggest surprise on the record is The Sea Inside, originally intended for Ride Out. It’s a song that churns with malevolence, with Bonham-esque tom-tom rolls and Kashmir-style strings that swoop in to heighten the air of mystery. Similarly unlikely is Marie, an anguished love song brightened by cello and tumbling Spanish guitar. Glenn Song is a slow, genuinely mournful tribute to the late Glenn Frey, who grew up with Seger in Detroit, while I’ll Remember You is Seger doing what he does better than almost anyone: a gospeltinged ballad of the sort that originally cemented his command over arena crowds. Elsewhere, Runaway Train is a subZZ Top boogie that should probably have remained in cold storage, while Blue Ridge sounds like Jimmy Buffet clumsily attempting a country version of The Kinks’ Come Dancing. Overall the album comes together in somewhat less cohesive fashion than Ride Out, and listeners may end up wishing for a Seger to take firmer grip on the steering wheel for one final album. Does anyone have Rick Rubin’s number? QQQQQQQQQQ Fraser Lewry
Michael Crimson Medusa GAIN/SONY MUSIC Corkscrew-haired Swede takes the retro route. A self-confessed “quiet soul” from Eskilstuna in Sweden, Michael Crimson spent his childhood living, breathing and digesting the contents of an expansive record collection. His biography names them – Page and Plant, Gilmour, Bowie, Dylan, Cohen, The Doors, Iggy Pop – but really there was no need, because Medusa, the full-length debut from this singer, guitarist, writer and producer, is colourful enough to suggest that those hours of bedroom study were not wasted. From the Queen-esque
Skam The Amazing Memoirs Of Geoffrey Goddard SKAM Conceptual high jinks from Leicester rockers. Skam are a little band with big ideas. On this, their third album, the Leicester trio have gone fully conceptual. Like Doctor Who in a flying hat, The Amazing Memoirs Of Geoffrey Goddard is the tale of a time-hopping WW2 airman who finds himself in medieval Japan, Wild West Oklahoma and prehistoric Africa. It’s an inherently silly idea, saved by Skam’s no-nonsense delivery. Take It Or Leave It and Bring The Rain are grittily anthemic rockers that owe more to the Foo Fighters than to Yes – the odd sonorous spoken-word interlude aside, it’s hard to envisage any of its 12 tracks being staged on ice. Still, full marks for ambition. QQQQQQQQQQ Dave Everley
Galactic Cowboys Long Way Back To The Moon MASCOT As uniquely charismatic as ever. In the early 90s, Texan band Galactic Cowboys stood out as being different – almost a precursor to grunge, with an added Beatles twist. There hadn’t been an album from the original line-up since 1993’s Space In Your Face, but now they’re back together, and Long Way Back To The Moon is a quite brilliant collection. The style is unmistakable from opener The Clouds, with elements of King’s X, Alice In Chains and Jellyfish yet determinedly individual. Sparkling melodies mingle with a dark humour and vocal harmonies. There’s a sense
BOB SEGER: KEN SETTLE
or a man with such a complicated relationship with his own discography (several early albums have never been released on CD, never mind on heavyweight 180g audiophile vinyl), veteran American singersongwriter Bob Seger seems content enough to return to the past in order to preserve his future. For, like his excellent 2014 album Ride Out, his latest, I Knew You When, is a mixed bag of covers, new songs, and old material pulled from the archive and thoroughly defibrillated. Seger is sounding gruff these days. The registers he sings in are lower than in his heyday, he’s still unmistakably Seger, but now he’s far more likely to half-sing, halftalk his way through a song than open up the full Hollywood Nights-style throttle. That’s not to say Seger is lacking fight; a couple of draw-your-own-conlusion inclusions appear to take a swipe at fellow golfer and current tenant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, Donald Trump. The first is a lively cover of Lou Reed’s Busload Of Faith, which changes the original’s ‘You can’t depend on any churches, unless there’s real estate you want to buy’ to ‘You can’t depend on the president, unless there’s real estate you want to buy.’ The second is a largely faithful version of Leonard Cohen’s Democracy – a song that has shepherded both Bill Clinton and Bernie Sanders on
The great taste of original sin... Throbbing across an underlying rhythmic pulse that boasts the mesmeric combination of detached precision and groove that marks all the best motorik, Bergen’s Electric Eye have concocted the third instalment in their ongoing journey into the heart of the psychedelic sun, and it’s a keeper. So what exactly have the Norwegian quartet plucked From The Poisonous Tree on this occasion? As is often the case with such improvisationinclined psychotropic sonic explorers: more of the same, only more so. Of course, wizards of a decidedly more lizard-y gizzard have a tendency to plummet haphazardly in similar circumstances, to crank up their inner Hawkwind and fly as far off the handle as is possible. But the added glint in Electric Eye comes courtesy of a broader sonic palette, jarring old-school beats that trip off into surprising counter-rhythms, and dynamic shifts that initially jar just as much as they ultimately beguile. Sometimes You Got To Jump To Lift Your Feet locks in, then soars, locks back in then soars again. Electric Eye elevate to captivate, they have the power to seduce a soul ascendent. With a post-Roses spin on a 60s soundtrack vibe here, a celestial sitar there, the succulent fruits of this particular tree are as seductive as Eve’s apples. QQQQQQQQQQ Ian Fortnam
stacked vocal harmonies of opener Seashell Eyes to the Floyd-flavoured instrumental A Season In Hell and the husky In The Winter, the album ebbs and flows while honouring its theme of “compelling characters and captivating tales from Greek mythology”. An opening statement this eloquent and absorbing does Michael Crimson enormous credit. A bigger still long-term challenge will, of course, be whether or not he equals or even manages to surpass it. QQQQQQQQQQ Dave Ling
that the listener is gatecrashing a private party, which gives the album a distant flavour, yet such is the welcoming draw of Zombies, Hate Me and the title track that you feel compelled to linger. Galactic Cowboys never cared for commercial formulae. They have always done what pleases them. In that resect nothing has changed. Thankfully. They’re still making intelligent music with explosive quirkiness. QQQQQQQQQQ Malcolm Dome
The Used The Canyon HOPELESS Utah post-hardcore crew dig deep into their psyche for album seven. An evolution of a band’s sound is often described as risk-taking, yet the real risk comes with stagnation. So it’s heartening to find The Used sailing into unchartered waters for their seventh album. The Canyon was produced by Ross Robinson, famed for squeezing emotion from his singers, and he’s worked his cruel magic again here. Stripped-back, grief-stricken opener For You is painfully intimate, frontman Bert McCracken barely holding back sobs. From there we get
jazzy, discordant noise in Cold War Telescreen, high-octane, Refused-meets-Blood Brothers fury in Rise Up Lights and even a touch of reggae in The Divine Absence (This Is Water). The post-hardcore foundations are here, complete with drama-fuelled, singalong choruses, but what The Used have built upon them opens up a new world of creative opportunities for them. QQQQQQQQQQ Emma Johnston
Spock’s Beard Snow Live RADIANT Modern prog classic, live at last. Immediately after Spock’s Beard’s 2002 concept double album Snow, Neal Morse left the band, having become a born-again Christian. Perhaps, then, its over-sincere narrative, in which an albino boy goes on what can only be described as an allegorical spiritual quest – thus the perpetual, although inaccurate, comparisons to Tommy, Quadrophenia and The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway – was inspired as much by reality as by fantasy. Either way, although they never played it live back then, Snow is generally recognised as one of the best American and finest 21st-century prog albums. At 2016’s Morsefest in Nashville the original line-up (including Morse and Nick
D’Virgilio) united with current members to at last perform the two-hour epic in its entirety, an event which fans – and devotees of this album tend to gush in terms of lives saved and suicides avoided – never thought would happen. Emotional, effervescent, the show goes from overtures to blues, from metal riffs to brass sections to Beatlesesque melodies; a definitive, ripe-for-parody, dauntingly impressive plateau of prog, gloriously unabashed. Multiple formats offer DVDs of the occasion. QQQQQQQQQQ Chris Roberts
Strawbs The Ferryman’s Curse ESOTERIC ANTENNA
Abandon hope all ye who enter here… One of the most enduring touchstones of the British folk and progressive scene, the Strawbs mainman the esteemed Dave Cousins has never shied away from contentious material. And now he’s in his seventies he seems even more determined to rattle cages from his home in Kent. After a plush piano orchestral overture lurches into a percussive storm, Strawbs conjure a narrative, The Nails From The Hands Of Christ, that
examines modern religious fetishism. Having set the tone – think Midlake for old timers – Cousins takes relish in constructing the perfect soundtrack for the Winter Solstice. Whether you agree with his tongue-in-cheek view of contemporary morality on the Ten Commandments or not, it’s difficult to avoid being sucked into to a cautionary tale that makes short shrift of the meme generation, TV cooks, footballers’ wives, instant talent show fame et al. It’s a kind of Money For Nothing but with better lyrics. The title track is the killer in every sense. The 47-years-later sequel to Tony Hooper’s The Vision Of The Lady Of The Lake (from Dragonfly) this is hauntingly redolent of Bowie at his bleakest – the two Daves often shared stages and joints back in the day – and sets the seal on one of the year’s more imaginative albums. QQQQQQQQQQ Max Bell
U2 Songs of Experience ISLAND The disappointment continues. The gulf between U2’s perennially amazing live shows and their almost obstinately pedestrian albums gets wider every year. A belated and
By Henry Yates The Cold Heart Revue
Ghalia & Mama’s Boys: bashing out a set of sprightly floor shakers.
GHALIA & THE MAMA’S BOYS: MJ MAESTRO
Ghalia & Mama’s Boys Let The Demons Out RUF Ruf Records have struck gold with Ghalia Vauthier, a fizz-andpop livewire who probably scared the shit out of passing Eurocrats during early years busking in her native Brussels. Hacking across the States, the singer
paired with Louisiana’s local heroes Mama’s Boys for this debut album, and together they’re an irresistible force, bashing out a set of sprightly floor shakers that would clean up in any Crescent City dive bar. The Boys can certainly play, but Vauthier is the star. It’s not just that she wrote 10 of these songs, but also that she inhabits them, lip-smacking her fingertips in the rowdy 4am Fried Chicken,
much-reworked companion piece to 2014’s Songs Of Innocence, Songs Of Experience was recorded with no less than nine producers plus cameos by Kendrick Lamar and Haim. And yet it is composed largely of dreary sub-Coldplay trundlers like Summer Of Love and Bryan Adams-style softrockers like You’re The Best Thing About Me. A handful of tracks shoot for the anthemic uplift of vintage U2, but fall short. The only real left-field beauty here is Love Is All We Have Left, a token reminder of the Dublin quartet’s shimmering ambient avantrock period. The global army of Bonobashers will doubtless relish U2’s ongoing creative and commercial decline, but for casual fans it is baffling how a band who were once so experimental, outspoken and musically ambitious have ended up so joylessly conservative. Love or loathe them, U2 have always had planet-sized ambitions, marketsavvy pop instincts and A-list collaborators. They clearly still want a seat at rock’s top table, it’s just that they’ve forgotten how to write memorable tunes, or at least how to find suitably demanding studio partners to stop them churning out mediocre makeweight albums like this one. QQQQQQQQQQQ Stephen Dalton
squeaking and purring through Hiccup Boogie’s anecdotage, or reeling off a boozy rider in All The Good Things that puts Keef’s shepherd’s pie to shame. That voice can do damage, too, swanking on Little Willie John’s I’m Shakin’ and roasting edgy standout See That Man Alone. She might just be the most interesting thing ever to come from the land of Brexit legislation. QQQQQQQQQQ
Renegade Heart SELF-RELEASED Casuals will remember The Cold Heart Revue’s roots as a one-man acoustic troubadour, but David Robinson is equally convincing on this plugged-andcranked EP. With barely a breath taken between them, I Can’t Get Started, Tattoo Girl and American Rain are everything the blues should be, played with fire, flair and urgency. Fabulous. QQQQQQQQQQ
Don’t Be Afraid OUTSIDE MUSIC Don’t Be Afraid is a family affair, released in tribute to the late Ron Neilson by his daughter Tami, who also co-wrote much of the material with her brother Jay. These songs reiterate the talent of all concerned, whether that’s Ron-penned stunners like Lonely, Tami’s extraordinary vintage-soul voice or the fiery brilliance of the siblings’ Holy Moses. QQQQQQQQQQ
Where I Belong SELF-RELEASED There’s a wonderful languid quality to County Monaghan songwriter Gráinne Duffy’s third album. The folk picking of Where I Belong is worthy of Nick Drake; My Love and Open Arms have shades of prime-time Sheryl Crow, Duffy’s voice nailing the ratio of grit and honey. It’s often mellow but rarely lightweight, a balancing act exemplified by stark instrumental finale Canyon Road. QQQQQQQQQQ
Long Hot Summer Days BLACK HEN MUSIC
When you’ve got the voice, you needn’t bother with the pen, and here Byrnes’s evocative delivery breathes fresh mojo into a covers set of his high-school favourites. Bobby Bland’s Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City is sweet and sad; Percy Sledge’s Out Of Left Field is a sunset over a southern cornfield; Something Inside Of Me takes Elmore James to the wire. QQQQQQQQQQ CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 91
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S E U S S I E R
INXS Kick 30
Premium 80s gloss-rock INX-celsis.
Hutchence rolled up in a zip-strewn biker jacket behind a swarthy guitar riff and pouted ‘there’s something about you girl that makes me sweat’, we barely knew what to make of him. He and his band of Australian gloss-rockers had all the plastic funk grooves, silvery synth touches, sax solos and soul harmonies of popular contemporaries such as Fine Young Cannibals, the Human League, Duran Duran, Level 42 and Curiosity Killed The Cat, but they were fronted by a lizard-hipped sex mop with clear
utside of Frankie’s pleasuredome and Dexys’ dungaree incinerator, no one in the 80s ever admitted to sweating. This was the decade of the pristine, the age of immaculate aristocrat make-up, sculpted fringes, and trousers cut to allow for the maximum air circulation. Pop music was clinically synthetic, sleek and vacuum-moulded; no star worth their Stock Aitken Waterman remix would ever do anything as human as perspire. So when, in 1987, INXS frontman Michael
aspirations to be the Jim Morrison of his day. With one purring ‘slide over here and give me a moment, your moves are so raw’, INXS became the safe, sanitised sound of 80s sexuality, the Kylie fan’s (and, later, Kylie’s own) bit of rough. A band more likely to make you feel like a million dollars in the sack than Howard Jones, but less likely to leave you encrusted with soiled dairy products than Prince. Very much an Australian phenomenon until ’87 – their many Australasian hits had barely registered in the UK – their sixth album, Kick, landed like a Thor’s hammer of lascivious arena pop, a virtually faultless, laser-targeted collection of synthetic sleaze that spoke of a band arriving fully formed at the very peak of their songcraft. After 10 years spent quietly polishing up their Boomtown Rats-style new-wave pub rock and trimming their mullets for the spangly new decade, they were the Down Under U2,
slamming from the ether with their very own Joshua Tree or, in Peter Gabriel terms, delivering their So without the wider world knowing they’d ever worn a sunflower helmet. Seductive nightcrawler Need You Tonight was like a glowing neon calling card reading ‘NEW IN TOWN’ tucked suggestively into the breast pocket of the top five, and once we made the call they sure kept showing us a good time. Devil Inside was 80s pop licking a forked tongue. The shiny funk blast of New Sensation sounded like a duel between rival gospel gangs on E Street, orchestral last dance Never Tear Us Apart, easily the coolest doo-wop ballad of the decade (sorry, Flying
Pickets), proved there was heart beneath Hutchence’s biker threads. The album itself didn’t stop kicking. From the opening snap, crackle and sex noises of Guns In The Sky it teetered on the mainstream’s edge, flirting with the language and imagery of danger and rebellion but with its studded gloves clasped firm on the throat of the 80s commercial aesthetic. Hutchence twisted his enigma throughout, by turn radical hippie free thinker (ethereal quasi-rap Mediate), rebel without a cause (Wild Life) and elemental playboy (the sultry Mystify). By the record’s end he’d proved himself the blueprint for the ultra-modern rock’n’roll lizard king; you can easily imagine Bono studying a song like Devil Inside, with its sordid fascination with knives, leather and the wickedness within, and summoning forth The Fly and MacPhisto in Hutchence’s image. For all the supersonic Motown horns of the title track, the John Hughes prom party vibe of Calling All Nations and the climactic sparkle of Tiny Daggers, it’s The Loved One that best captures the essence of Kick: a studiosterilised grindhouse groove oozing slick sensuality, which slides effortlessly into a chorus born to rattle Red Rocks. For such a strong, consistent album, it’s bewildering that there’s so little worthwhile second-tier material to be excavated for this anniversary edition. The package cobbles together reams of rolled-up-blazer-sleeve remixes, live tracks and surprisingly pointless B-sides:; I’m Coming (Home) sounds like they bugged a brothel, then whacked five minutes of extraneous funk and Barry White impressions over the top; On The Rocks is throwaway scat jazz; and the acoustic demo of Jesus Was A Man has Hutchence drooling cod-philosophical nonsense about Jesus, Ghandi and Hitler like John Lennon falling over pissed. Do Wot You Do and Move On are worthwhile additions, but the lack of studio overflow only makes the album’s 12-track bullseye seem all the more superhuman, and its rejection by three record labels all the more unfathomable. Move On’s confession that ‘there’s a monkey on my back, been there much too long/Every time I kick it off another one comes along’ was a buried hint that Hutchence wasn’t quite the Kershaw in Sixx clothing he first appeared to be. Kick would prove to be the peak of a tragic downward spiral that would see him cremated 10 years later, belt marks around his neck and a gram of heroin slipped into his funeral suit pocket. We’d rather remember him this way: the devil in his hip, a gleam on his lip and the world at his fingertip.
‘A virtually faultless collection of synthetic sleaze.’
QQQQQQQQQQ Mark Beaumont
The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack: 10th Anniversary Edition ELEVEN SEVEN
Nikki Sixx’s descent into hell, revisited. In retrospect, the success of the debut SIXX:A.M. album was the first death knell for Nikki’s then day job with Mötley Crüe. It might have been there to serve as the soundtrack to his gruelling drugs biography of the same name, but it showed a sharper, more shrewd and contemplative songwriter than people thought capable from a man who once rhymed ’fifty thousand screaming watts’ with ’honey dripping from her pot’. Time has been kind to the songs and production too, and for this 10th Anniversary Edition the band have reworked three of the originals to offer some extra impetus for parting with your cash for an album you probably already own. That said, there’s no denying the impact and craft of songs like utterly bleak Van Nuys and the yearning imbued in Accidents Can Happen: the sound of a man clinging to sobriety by his very fingertips. QQQQQQQQQQ Philip Wilding
Magma Retrospectiw Vol 1 & 2 & 3 SOUTHERN LORD
Molten gold. Two years shy of their 50th anniversary, French uberproggers Magma are enjoying considerable late-life appreciation from metal fans drawn to their immense heavyweight power and multi-headed epics and the world’s coolest logo. Since 2015’s exhaustive remastering binge, Magma and leader/drummer Christian Vander have been celebrated in their first film while still riding a lava-flow of reissues. This latest finds the band celebrating their 10th anniversary at Paris Olympia in June 1980. Originally released in 1981, the sets reappeared in 2015’s colossal Kohnzert Zund box set and now get another lease of life on vinyl. Volumes 1 and 2 are constructed around Theus Hamtaahk, Vander’s space opera about a doomed planet, Kobaia, sung in his self-invented language and consisting of three epic movements, including 1973’s breakthrough Mekanik Destructiw Kommandoh. That’s
here in truncated form, joined by concert-only first movement Theus Hamtaahk (Time Of Hatred). This could be the definitive version, its spectral chorales and keyboard meteor showers swarming around Vander’s metronomic polyrhythms. Volume 3 eases the intensity with jazz-funk Retrovision and Vander’s spirited vocal on Hhai. Such a lavish package might not be the best way to enter Vander’s idiosyncratic universe, but diehards will be delighted. QQQQQQQQQQ Kris Needs
The Moody Blues Days Of Future Passed UMC Soft-concept maestros’ timeless classic. The Moody Blues tend to slip under the radar when caps are doffed to 70s/80s giants. Three UK chart-topping albums and two (different ones) in the US, where they still reached the Top 10 as recently as 1986, is extraordinary going by any yardstick. This second album marked the arrival of singer Justin Hayward and bassist John Lodge. Inspired by The Beatles’ pioneering studio work on Revolver, and the purchase of a Mellotron which would define their glory years, it set up the Moody Blues for a career that still thrives today. Days Of Future Passed is a concept album loosely detailing a working day and, equally revolutionary at the time, features the London Festival Orchestra and two spoken poems by drummer Graeme Edge. With hindsight it’s dwarfed by Hayward’s Nights In White Satin – and the song’s overfamiliarity should not disguise what an epochal pop moment it was – but it wasn’t a US hit until 1972, so the album went Top 10 there on the strength of the roadhoned Peak Hour and the lavishly layered Dawn Is A Feeling. This edition includes three mixes of the album, a mountain of extra tracks including an intriguing take on Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood and a threesong 1968 set from a French television show in sparkling black and white. For all its of-its-time touches, Days Of Future Passed’s sheer craft makes it timeless. Frankly, it’s hard to think of a band whose rehabilitation is so belated. QQQQQQQQQQ John Aizlewood CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 95
Flesh For Lulu
Eagles Hotel California: 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (RHINO) This could be heaven or this could be hell.
hen Hotel California’s mellifluous opening title track first aired in December 1976 (strictly speaking this year is its 41st anniversary), carried into the California desert air by Don Felder’s distinctive guitar licks – “Mexican Reggae” they’d called it – the Eagles were entering a habitual state of flux. With Bernie Leadon’s authentic country presence now replaced by fellow party animal Joe Walsh, and Randy Meisner sidelined, they were arguably the Don Henley and Glenn Frey band. Hugely successful thanks to Their Greatest Hits, they saw no reason not to believe their own legend and created a quasi-conceptual album, contrasting art versus commerce in the American bicentennial. At least that’s become lore, although it doesn’t stack up; nor does the notion that they suddenly ditched soft country rock. Previous album On The Border was a tougher beast, Desperado, their best, was a more convincing Western concept. Hotel California is great in parts: the title track is immediately absorbing, New Kid In Town has bruised charm, the Eagles’ notorious extracurricular activities informed Life In The Fast Lane. Following that atmospheric trio, the album enters the realms of the pleasantly banal. Wasted Time, underscored by Jim Ed Norman’s romantic strings arrangement, doesn’t merit the 96 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
instrumental reprise that ushers in side two. The self-consciously rocked up Victim Of Love, co-written with singer songwriter JD Souther, hasn’t aged well. The Joe Walsh/Joe Vitale ballad Pretty Maids All In A Row is sweet enough even if it sounds like something left over from Walsh’s The Smoker You Drink, The Player You Get. Meisner’s slushy Try And Love Again is best ignored altogether. Henley’s nihilistic The Last Resort is a jaundiced appraisal of American excess and cultural poverty. Pretty ironic, all things considered, but Henley is adept at this type of mournful pontificating. This 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition is completed by 10 live recordings from a three-night stint in October 1976 that unveiled the hypnotic Mariachi-inspired title epic and New Kid In Town, plus cracking versions of James Dean, Already Gone and the irresistible Take It Easy, all played with precision-tooled elegance and emphasis on the sparkling harmonies at which the Eagles excelled. Those with deeper pockets (£85 deep) might prefer the three-disc Super-Deluxe Blu-ray audio version, which includes a 44-page hardcover book, a 24-page replica tour book and three posters, one being a Pete Frame Family Tree. QQQQQQQQQQ Max Bell
Flesh For Lulu Expanded Edition CAROLINE Old Flesh with new boner. Named when a girlfriend called Lulu stood in front of a Flesh For Frankenstein poster, Flesh For Lulu flourished in London’s postpunk free-for-all after amateur synth-pop duo Nick Marsh and James Mitchell added ex-Wasted Youth guitarist Rocco Barker and bassist Glen Bishop to become one of the Batcave’s most beloved outfits. Their glammed up collisions of the Stones, underbelly Americana and classic rock suss that could see them transform Jody Reynolds’s Endless Sleep into a funereal goth anthem earned them a deal with Polydor, BBC sessions and rave press for the album that followed nightstalking debut single Roman Candle in 1984. Making its CD debut, the album reveals itself as an overlooked rock‘n’roll gem rather than any dated goth curio, elevated by its robustly melodic songs. Marsh’s compelling vocals turn soaring Batcave anthem Subterraneans into the era’s most poignantly poetic rhapsody, and conquer the Stones’ Jigsaw Puzzle to show his roots beneath the hairspray. The Expanded Edition adds 12-inch remixes and B-sides, along with Peel, Janice Long and Kid Jensen radio sessions and an informative booklet, completing a fitting tribute to a great lost band and the underrated talents of Nick Marsh, who sadly succumbed to cancer in 2015. QQQQQQQQQQ Kris Needs
Various Artists Brown Acid: The Fifth Trip RIDINGEASY
Heavy Pebbles – boulders, if you will. Culled from endless hours of sifting through dusty records in forgotten corners all over the globe by the tireless crew at RidingEasy, the Brown Acid series is a Nuggets for modern times, every volume a crucial collection of impossibly obscure heavy ’n’ hairy proto-metal from the age of Aquarius. The fifth volume of anything is bound to show some wear and tear, and The Fifth Trip does have a few ho-hummers that would
probably have been rejected from the first few volumes, most notably the pedestrian prog Clockwork by Cybernaut and the plodding stoner rock Mammoth and Zebra. But it also includes some serious head-spinners, from the neo-punk of Thor’s Lick It to the jarring epic Nothing In The Sun by never-weres Finch. Opener No Reason by Captain Foam hits a similar band-out-oftime nerve. Perhaps the most exciting revelation on this volume is the rediscovery of the toothsome Blowing Smoke, a lost single from George Brigman, a freaked-out, turned-on teen from Baltimore who self-produced an proto-punk monster of an album, Jungle Rot, back in ‘75. If you like it heavy and weird, take the Brown Acid. QQQQQQQQQQ Sleazegrinder
Yeah Yeah Yeahs Fever To Tell Deluxe Box UMC/POLYDOR
The album that devoured the noughties. Cool, and clever. Impossible to disassociate from the times; stoned interviews, dresses covered in beer, Williamsburg bar tables set alight; punch-ups at 3am; a fierce riot of love and excitement and explosion, exclamation marks covering everything in sight. Life is nothing if not a spectacle. Karen O – a whirling dervish on vocals, emotion punctuated by breathy spaces and faux disdain, like Riot Grrrl and Big Black given 20 doses of whatever – was the party queen. Brian Chase – a meticulous withering one-man assault on drums – put the rock into the art. Nick Zinner: Brutal thunderous minimalist guitar. Critics claimed that Fever To Tell, Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ 2003 debut album, was short on emotion and… uh… songs. Critics were wrong. It had as many songs as the Ramones’ debut – and that is a shitload of songs, let me tell you. Rarely did the pace let up, from the insanely great Date With The Night to the greatly insane Pin to the percussive melodrama No No No, and when it did (Maps or closer Modern Romance) it felt emotional. This reissue comes with the sort of fancy shit they never send reviewers – two remastered LPs, plus pages from Karen O’s
notebook and a 164-page hardbound book of Nick Zinner’s personal photos – numbered, signed and wrapped in fishnet stockings. It includes nine demos, eight B-sides and rarities and five newspaper lyric posters. There’s also a custom champagne cork 8GB USB stick containing video content. Bang. QQQQQQQQQQ Everett True
Richard Hell And The Voidoids Blank Generation RHINO He coulda been a contender... Aside from The Ramones’ D-UM-B exception to the rule, NYC’s CBGBbased version of punk was significantly more cerebral than its largely visceral McLarenencouraged UK counterpart, and Richard Hell – poet, style icon, novelist, nihilist, perfectionist, arsonist – was its nearly man. He could (should) have been huge: broodingly handsome, literate, ambitious, it was Hell who pioneered the electrocuted crop punk hairstyle and first repurposed torn T-shirts with safety pins.
In spite of a co-frontman stint with the original line-up of The Heartbreakers, bass-toting, mannered vocalist Hell’s incarnation of the ‘punk’ sound had way more in common with Television – the band he’d formed with Tom Verlaine in ‘73 – than with the Dolls. Voidoids’ guitarist Robert Quine matched an edgy Verlaine precision with a brink-dwelling Velvets aggression. Hell and his Voidoids’ Sire label debut is the sound of urban paranoia, of stolen diet pills, cold-water Lower East Side lofts and clucking Bohemia; a thriftshop, gutter-glam, sunglassesafter-dark symphony of the street. Hell might have looked and sounded an awful lot like an imminent future, but Blank Generation echoes the Bleeker Street beats and is as much the last echo of a lost downtown scene as it is the harbinger of a spike-topped new order; its title track parodies Bob McFadden’s ‘59 B-side The Beat Generation, its extensive Another World closing piece is almost avant-garde in its taut improvisational jazz-born ambitions. Elsewhere Love Comes In Spurts jabs and jars as Betrayal Takes Two simply delights.
Mis-filed under ‘also-ran punk’ for way too long, Blank Generation deserves reappraisal as a truly outstanding late-70s alt.rock classic. QQQQQQQQQQ Ian Fortnam
Skyclad Reissues NOISE Riffs, riddles, fiddles and folk revisited. If you want to hear folkmetal’s true starting point – and why wouldn’t you? – listen to The Widdershins Jig from Skyclad’s 1991 debut album The Wayward Sons Of Mother Earth. There it is, the birth of a genre. And yet these daddies of the whole thing remain weirdly overlooked in the pantheon of acknowledged British metal legends. Along with with the current Skyclad line-up’s excellent new album Forward Into The Past, these classy reissues should go some way towards setting the record straight. Firmly rooted in the thrash of vocalist Martin Walkyier’s former band Sabbat but undeniably dancing to a different, more euphoric tune, The Wayward Sons (8/10)
remains an indecently thrilling debut album, full of great songs, wickedly intricate lyrics and mad-eyed bite. A Burnt Offering For The Bone Idol (1992, 8/10) and Jonah’s Ark (1993, 8/10) offered a more overtly folked-up and sophisticated take on that original blueprint, while 1994’s Prince Of The Poverty Line (9/10) and the following year’s The Silent Whales Of Lunar Sea (9/10) are the true gems here. Unsung British heavy metal classics that haven’t aged a day, they represent a giddy peak in Walkyier’s songwriting partnership with guitarist Steve Ramsey and hammering home what a truly great band Skyclad had become. Dom Lawson
Pretenders Alone Special Edition BMG I’d sure as hell still go and see Chrissie Hynde play live. This album rocks. Yes, in places it feels like a nostalgic rip-off – co-conspirator, fellow Akronite Dan Auerbach is well-known for his greasy reverence for rock’s past in the Black Keys. Yes, the title track is half-Klark
Kent tribute and half second Pretenders’ album tribute (all those muttered asides and ‘fuck off’s). It feels right, though. Chrissie Hynde, more than most, personifies rock (part Kim Deal with a dirty fag hanging from her mouth, part Suzi Quatro, very much herself). Roadie Man could be an outtake from The Blues Brothers (original) – Booker T on the keys. But for every One More Day demoing for a 30-year-old remake of Absolute Beginners with its bossa nova swagger, there’s a grungy shit-kicker like Gotta Wait or a serpentine, murky Holy Commotion. Sure, we only really love it cos it sounds like Chrissie. But this is Chrissie sounding on top of her game: tough, solid, and emotional. Pretenders? Hardly matters at this late stage. Bunch of session musicians or not, Hynde has always been centre and front of the band. This reissue of the 2016 rocker comes with 15 classic Pretenders songs recorded live in 2017. Frankly, they feel unnecessary, although I’m sure they’re great to witness (see above). But Alone itself rocks. QQQQQQQQQQ Everett True
Ramones Rocket To Russia 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition RHINO “One-two-three-four…” now goes up to 11.
his is the album that should have broken The Ramones. Even now it’s baffling that the mainstream didn’t accept the band earlier. Compare the first Ramones album to Green Day’s Dookie (the album that finally thrust punk down the US mainstream’s throat in 1994) and frankly it’s staggering to see how little was added to the Ramones blueprint across 18 subsequent years of tail-chasing Maximum Rock ’N’ Roll stasis. Joey, Johnny, Tommy and Dee Dee not only defined, but also fine-tuned the shape of things to come. Check out Ramones’ Blitzkrieg Bop opener, and all of Dookie’s fundamentals, from chainsaw riffing to adenoidal vocals, are already in place. Across the 20 months between the release of Ramones and their third, Rocket To Russia, collection the band had changed nothing but honed everything. Tommy’s production was now as regimented as Johnny’s riffing, label Sire, sensing the potential imminence of a hitherto unlikely hit, invested a grander budget, and in compositional terms the band were getting better. From Rockaway Beach’s genius opening couplet ‘Chewing out a rhythm on my bubble gum, the sun is
out and I want some’, Rocket To Russia sounded like a hit record. That said, six months earlier it would have sounded even more like one. Its lead single Sheena Is A Punk Rocker had been around since May. Waiting until November to release the album meant it went head-to-head with Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols, and in comparison to the Pistols’ raging delinquent fury the Ramones’ 1950s-based pop classicism suddenly sounded positively archaic. So the album missed its moment, died on its arse and in the UK peaked at No.60. But the Ramones had a secret weapon, one with which the Pistols couldn’t compete: they were an astonishing live band who could casually knock out 45 songs in an hour and a half. And reliable? Totally. So while there are 77 tracks on this 40th Anniversary edition, the demos, alternative takes and rough cuts all sound pretty much identical to their finished counterparts. The contemporary
Glasgow Apollo live set, meanwhile, is a dead spit of the exemplary It’s Alive (recorded at London’s Rainbow 12 days later). By 1978’s Road To Ruin, Tommy had gone and the spell was broken, but these Ramones, captured here, remain entirely essential. QQQQQQQQQQ Ian Fortnam
The Rolling Stones On Air POLYDOR Off-the-leash early-60s radio work from the band that ensnared the hearts of the insolent.
contemporary hit singles (Come On, I Wanna Be Your Man, It’s All Over Now, The Last Time, a quite spectacular (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction), favourite B-sides and album tracks (The Spider And The Fly, Down The Road A-Piece) and historically sought after exclusives (Chuck Berry’s Memphis, Tennessee and Beautiful Delilah, Buster Brown’s Fannie Mae, Tommy Tucker’s Hi-Heel Sneakers and, the timehonoured bootleggers’ favourite, their remarkable live romp through Bo Diddley’s Cops And Robbers). As proceedings unfold, you’re struck by certain lost elements: Ian Stewart’s piano locked into an unwavering Watts/ Wyman rhythm section, Brian Jones’s signature blues-wailing harp and the extraordinary vocal performance of the young Mick Jagger. The passing years have not been kind to Mick Jagger. It invariably seems to be Keith Richards that receives the lion’s share of plaudits for the Stones’ legacy and longevity. Somewhere along the line we got used to Jagger, we ceased noticing what an incredible vocalist he is, or in the case of On Air, was. Mick Jagger is brilliant on here, there’s no other word for it. Expressive, feral, soulful, sensual, explosive… On Air? On fire, more like. QQQQQQQQQQ Ian Fortnam
Various Looking At The Pictures In The Sky – The British Psychedelic Sounds Of 1968 GRAPEFRUIT The trip goes on. British psychedelia from 1968 may lack the naive charm and enthusiasm that characterised the previous year as bands wised up to nicking half
a phrase or chord from a favourite hit to try and concoct one of their own, but there’s still plenty of treats along this four-hour audio trip even allowing for the compilers’ occasional bias towards inverted snobbery – judging a record more for its rarity value than its contents. There’s a smattering of name bands – the Move, the Status Quo, Procol Harum, Pretty Things - with obscure B-sides and a few more who reached the dizzy heights of a support slot at the Marquee but the majority remained unknown beyond a small circle of friends. Indeed the compilers have scrupulously rounded up every record label they could find to prove they existed. Look out for Mr Pinnodmy’s Dream by the Attack –about a deaf, dumb (but not blind) boy a year ahead of Tommy, rock and roll’s favourite gynaecologist Sam Hutt aka Hank Wangford cunningly disguised as Boeing Duveen & The Beautiful Soup and Ritchie Blackmore unable to stop tinkering with the opening riff to So You Want To Be A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star. QQQQQQQQQQ Hugh Fielder
Pink Floyd A Collection Of Great Dance Songs/Delicate Sound Of Thunder PINK FLOYD RECORDS
Vinyl reissues of 1981 compilation and 1988 live album. Released in 1981, A Collection Of Great Dance Songs (6/10) was castigated for its conceitedly humorous title which only served to make the band appear pompously remote; of course, we’re far too good to make dance music. It’s a strangely random collection; a couple of tracks from Meddle including One Of These Days, with its futuristic, wormhole synth interlude, a version of Money re-recorded due to licensing issues, as well as Another Brick In The Wall (Part II), which, ironically, is a dance song, though not a great one. By 1988, Roger Waters had quit Pink Floyd and must have assumed as the creative mainstay that the band carrying on without him would be like The Police carrying on without Sting. However,
ROLLING STONES: GETTY
ue to the fact that The Rolling Stones have been playing that live set, with little deviation (for want of a better word), for the last forty years, it’s easy to forget that there’s a rich seam of their back catalogue that’s been pretty much Jumpin’ Jack Flashed out of history. Spool backward past Their Satanic Majesties Request to when Brian Jones was still a going concern and there they are: the band that ensnared the hearts of the born insolent, the antidote to The Beatles, The Greatest Rock’n’ Roll Band In The World. When they actually still played some pure, unalloyed rock’n’roll. With all due respect to today’s Rolling Stones, they’re a very different proposition to the vital force captured here on these hitherto unavailable (legally) radio sessions recorded between 1963 and ’65 for the BBC’s Saturday Club, Blues In Rhythm, Top Gear, Rhythm And Blues, Yeah Yeah and, oh yes, The Joe Loss Pop Show. These Stones are drilled to perfection, there’s no intuitive intra-guitar weaving going on here, their gig-honed delivery is as tight as Charlie’s snare, and in combining this degree of technical competence with the pent-up fury of an ambitious young band under a barrage of undeserved tabloid abuse, their form is staggering. The band are off-the-leash, ploughing through unpolished takes of
A Fire In The Sky – A Career Spanning Collection RHINO Comprehensive three-disc set charts Purple’s career highs. It’s been something of a banner year for Deep Purple with the well received Infinite album and an impending continent wide tour set to take the band into Christmas. Little wonder then, that Rhino have decided to pull together this expansive collection that gives a generous nod to all of Deep Purple’s history. Admittedly, the cover looks like it’s been drawn by a child who’s just been given his first crayon, and the title sounds like the first suggestion someone threw out at a marketing meeting, but it’s hard to quibble with the track listing and the sustained and enduring song writing from a band who have endured more splits, line-up changes and protracted and very public fallouts than your average Hollywood marriage. Also, given Coverdale’s miserable take on the Purple legacy, Jon Lord’s passing and Ritchie Blackmore riding roughshod over his musical catalogue at this year’s Stone Free festival, it’s something of a relief to cherish Deep Purple in their pomp, and appreciate some of their latter day highlights – Vincent Price, Rapture Of The Deep – and work backwards from there, stumbling across forgotten gems as you go, not least a song like the eloquent Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming from 1996’s Purpendicular album. That said, it’s hard to imagine the Deep Purple fan who doesn’t already own the bulk of material here and who might need prompting to revisit the history of a band they already know and love. QQQQQQQQQQ Philip Wilding
despite the langour of David Gilmour, noodling towards a distant sunset, Pink Floyd continued to sell millions on the strength of their name. Recorded over five nights at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island, Delicate Sound Of Thunder (5/10) sees the crowds sit patiently through solemnly somnabulent new material like Round And Round and Sorrow from 1987’s A Momentary Lapse Of Reason before the hits come oozing on disc two, including Time, Comfortably Numb and Run Like Hell, one of Gilmour’s few co-contributions to The Wall. QQQQQQQQQQ David Stubbs
David Byron Baby Faced Killer VOICEPRINT Byron’s brave fling. After David Byron was fired from Uriah Heep in 1976 he formed Rough Diamond whose album the following year was as dire as it was predictable. The rest of his alcohol-fuelled decline was just a matter of time, apparently. Not quite. In 1978 he teamed up with producer and songwriter
Daniel Boone who tried to reinvent Byron as a singer beyond his heavy metal confines. The title track, Only You Can Do It and Heaven Or Hell are catchy pop songs with synthesizers and electronically treated vocals that reek of ELO. Rich Man’s Lady and Acetylene Jean are smooth rockabilly. Then there’s the electro-disco of African Breeze, complete with tribal rhythms. In retrospect, Baby Faced Killer is a brave album that’s flawed because it tries to do too much too soon. If it had focused on developing just one of these styles it might have succeeded as Byron’s voice was certainly adaptable and the production was sleek and brimming with ideas. But the heavy metal world is not best known for its willingness to embrace innovation. As expected the reviews were dismissive. Nobody was prepared to countenance such a crossover. The album was also ahead of its time and swimming against the tide of the new wave, not to mention the first stirrings of NWOBHM. It’s unlikely that it would have been more favourably received at any time
before Byron’s death in 1985. But 40 years later it doesn’t sound like the turkey it was portrayed as back then. QQQQQQQQQQ Hugh Fielder
Twisted Sister A Twisted Christmas RAZOR & TIE
Get thee behind me, Santa. These days Christmas albums have become a tacky, cynical, moneygrubbing fixture in a festive season already overstuffed with commercialised vulgarity. So respect is due to Dee Snider and his hard-rocking elves for going the extra mile with their 2006 festive stocking-filler, which pushed gaudy yuletide cash-ins to new heights of migraineinducing, cross-dressing, officeparty naffness. This is the album, in other words, that Twisted Sister were born to make. A Twisted Christmas treats a range of seasonal classics including White Christmas, Deck The Halls and Let It Snow to the full glam-metal treatment of clobbering drums and squeakyshiny hard-rock riffola, with Snider’s signature nails-on-
blackboard screech the icing on the cake. It is relentlessly horrible, of course, but no more so than most Green Day albums and considerably more fun. The melodic parallels between O Come All Ye Faithful and We’re Not Gonna Take It are amusingly highlighted, and there are pleasing in-jokey nods to Judas Priest, AC/DC, Thin Lizzy and others. A decade later, this straight no-frills reissue remains difficult to like but still oddly compelling, like watching a scary cross-dressing clown vomiting half-digested mince pies into the eager upturned faces of carolsinging Dickensian orphans. Just not quite as entertaining as that sounds. QQQQQQQQQQ Stephen Dalton
Upp Upp/This Way FLOATING WORLD Jeff Beck’s funk-rock follies. It was during a more auspicious meeting, as he rehearsed with Bowie for Ziggy’s farewell gig, that Jeff Beck walked in on Upp. Their very white-boy funk, hugely indebted to James Brown, Sly Stone and, in Andy
Clarke’s outlandish synth work, Stevie Wonder, tickled Beck enough for him to produce their self-titled 1975 debut. The very sub-Brown grit of Clark’s voice is worsened by a never-welcome Vocoder (his sub-Marvin Gaye falsetto is better). Vapid attempts at black American street lyrics jostle with the clunkingly Dylanesque (‘She sparkles like a god, and she bleeds like a girl’) on the otherwise affecting love song It’s A Mystery. Beck solo completists will be detained most by his fleet runs, chokedback attack and swift peaks of intensity on Bad Stuff, and have Beck himself to blame for the aggravating fadeout. The album’s real interest is in the polite freakiness of Clark’s array of cutting-edge keyboards, nodding back to the band’s prog pasts. Beck was a less frequent visitor for 1976’s This Way. Recording moved from Kent to LA, and the sound to slickly conventional, string-laden disco, only nodding back to prog with propulsive, jazzy instrumental There’s Still Hope. There wasn’t, so they split. QQQQQQQQQQ Nick Hasted
Gary Moore Blues And Beyond BMG Late, great Irish blues dynamo gets his due in both a two-CD and handsome four-disc set.
ary Moore was a racked, impassioned and troubled individual, as Harry Shapiro’s excellent biography – included in the full bells-and-whistles box set edition of this collection – makes clear. It was our good fortune that much of his inner turmoil found release in his music, specifically the blues. In the period covered, between 1999’s Beat To The Street and 2004’s Power Of The Blues, Moore was unassailable. Fresh from his gunslinger stint with Thin Lizzy and Phil Lynott and holding his own with jazz-rock heavies Colosseum II, Gary was free to assert formidable mastery across a range of blues formulations. The intensity of the performances is breathtaking, a heady cocktail combining the showboating flair of Jeff Beck, the astonishing firepower of Stevie Ray Vaughan and the fervent impassioned feeling of fellow Irishman Rory Gallagher. Moore’s devastation and dominance rages in the searing, distorted Gibson tonality of You Upset Me Baby, turning easily to piquant lyricism on the gently awed Picture Of The Moon – his
playing shredding and sympathy in equal measure. Add the giddy hairpin speed and calamity stoked by How Many Lies or the Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac evoking lambent doom of Torn Inside and Moore’s all consuming greatness – as frontman, bandleader and composer – is confirmed. The two-disc set ends with a live take of the showstopping Parisienne Walkways but Moore’s natural playing to the gallery flamboyance gets a fuller airing on the previously unreleased live show featured on the box set’s two-disc Blues and Beyond Live set. The 1999 performance is deliriously combative and gloriously defiant. Perhaps stung by critical reaction to the forward thinking A Different Beat and previewing new, as yet unreleased, material this is GM at his unvarnished, back to the wall, best. Forging allegiance with past masters Elmore James and Jimi Hendrix, his own place in the
formidable tradition is made firm with indelible cry from the heart Cold Black Night and the wild, yearning, sky-scraping glory of The Prophet. Moore’s premature death in 2011, aged 58, robbed the world of a mighty talent. This collection captures him at an awesome peak. QQQQQQQQQQ Gavin Martin
The Pretty Things
Green Day God’s Favourite Band WARNER BROS Concise career ‘best of’ collection from the kings of pop-punk.
a sore thumb among their greatest pop moments; and the ‘P’ word really is their greatest ally – they’ve never been afraid to celebrate the joys of pop, the fizzy highs of a singalong chorus, the communal joy of a concert that throws in everything including the T-shirt cannon. While grunge was busy pretending fame was a curse, Green Day were embracing it and moulding themselves into the ultimate gateway band for rock fans to come – that you can go to one of their gigs now and see two or three generations of the same family singing their hearts out is a truly wonderful thing. And this collection of their biggest hits is the perfect introduction to the pre-teen budding rocker in your life. For those already familiar with the tracks on God’s Favourite Band (which is probably most of us), there’s the new Back In The USA, a rollicking, all-American anthem stuffed with harmonies and all set to soundtrack the next big teen drama, and a new version of then gentle, Americana-tinged Ordinary World, now transformed into a tear-jerking duet with country singer Miranda Lambert. But that’s just garnish. Really, God’s Favourite Band is about the hits, the whole hits and nothing but the hits. QQQQQQQQQQ Emma Johnston
Skid Row B-Side Ourselves WARNERS/ATLANTIC
New Jerseyites’ 1992 covers EP dusted down. Skid Row were the last band to the hair-metal party. Their 1991 album Slave To The Grind reached No.1 in the US but it proved to be the genre’s final hurrah; a few months
Sweet Sensational Sweet SONY/RCA They could kill you with a wink of their eye. Subtitled, somewhat optimistically, Chapter 1: The Wild Bunch, what we have here is a massive nine-disc set that serves to remind us what was wrong with The Sweet, a band much maligned by the contemporary rock press throughout their early-70s heyday: absolutely nothing. Sure, there was a fiveyear false start – if you can call a modus operandi that netted six chart hits a false start – but from the dawn of ‘73 (when their Blockbuster narrowly beat David Bowie’s The Jean Genie to the top of the UK singles chart using the same riff) until the summer of ‘74, this cannily cosmetic-caked quartet, operating under the auspices of RAK Records songwriting team Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, fashioned five of the glam era’s finest 45s. Which in turn engendered some of Top Of The Pops’ defining moments – guitarist Steve Priest’s mugging to camera simply never gets old. Maybe
GREEN DAY: FRANK MADDOCKS/PRESS
he arguments over what is and isn’t punk have raged for as long as the genre has existed. They might share a common ancestry, but Green Day bear as much resemblance to the politically charged, $8-a-show likes of Fugazi as a chihuahua does to a wolf. Green Day’s brand of punk has, from day one, harboured capitalist ambitions of fame and fortune, stadium shows and high-return royalty payments. And, fair play to them, they’ve succeeded to a degree that they themselves probably couldn’t have envisioned. This new ‘best of’ collection unveils the secret of their success in very simple terms: they’ve written some blinding songs in their time. From the irresistible bouncing bass of early smash Longview, the sarcasm and snotty self-loathing of Basket Case – which defined Generation X ennui with laser precision – to the move towards more considered acoustic, string-laden pop with Good Riddance and the political and social fury of George W Bush-era American Idiot (ah, if only we had some inkling of the true horrors to come), they’ve soundtracked popular culture since breaking through with their majorlabel debut Dookie, the starting point of God’s Favourite Band’s tracklist, in 1994. While it’s not all gold – Warning remains a dragging misstep that sticks out like
Greatest Hits MADFISH Underground stalwarts’ 60s encapsulated. In many ways the Pretty Things really were what Andrew Loog Oldham sold the Rolling Stones as. Founding guitarist Dick Taylor actually was a Stone until he ducked out of the fledgling combo in ‘62 to study art, but the quintet he formed with futuristically hirsute fellow student Phil May had so much antisocial attitude, feral rhythm ‘n’ blues brutality and argumentatively shaggy hair that they never actually enjoyed any of the hits that this double-disc’s title idly boasts. The ironically branded Pretties were malchicks to a man. Sullen and aggressive, their take on the R&B that the Stones had recently ushered into the mainstream (then quickly abandoned) was raw, it ramped up the keening sexuality at the core of the genre, and its influence was broad and enduring. David Bowie covered both Rosalyn and Don’t Bring Me Down on Pin Ups (his address book listed Phil May under ‘G’ for God). Aside from The Dame’s patronage, generations of testosteronepacked adolescent males found release in replicating the 12-bar assault the Pretties pioneered (Dr Feelgood, Nine Below Zero, Thee Headcoats, The Strypes, Eight Rounds Rapid). Elsewhere, latter PTs define other 60s aspects (Defecting Grey’s dark psych; pioneering concept work S.F. Sorrow’s proto-metal Old Man Going). But it’s the desperately driven early material corralled here – and coupled with a live 2010, 100 Club revisit to the band’s eponymous debut – that’s sure to ensnare and inspire most new converts. QQQQQQQQQQ Ian Fortnam
later, Nirvana released Nevermind and the world went plaid. As their 1992 EP B-Side Ourselves proved, they never really deserved to be lumped in with the likes of Warrant and Slaughter anyway. Skid Row were a down-the-line rock band at heart, one who were wellversed in the enduring legacy of heavy metal and hard rock. Their choice of covers here isn’t exactly revelatory: Kiss (C’mon And Love Me), Rush (What You’re Doing), Hendrix (a take on Little Wing that sounds like every guitar shop version you’ve ever heard) and Judas Priest (a live version of Delivering The Goods featuring backing squawks from Rob Halford, much to frontman Sebastian Bach’s evident delight). The only vaguely offpiste selection is a barrelling version of the Ramones’ Psycho Therapy – the best track here and one that displays a side of the band you wish they’d showed off more. It’s a pity the original EP’s five tracks haven’t been bulked out with additional rare ones, covers or not, but, given the longrunning acrimony between Bach and his old bandmates, that’s hardly surprising. QQQQQQQQQQ Dave Everley
they didn’t have the worthy muso authenticity of Zeppelin, but when faced with a Hellraiser, a Ballroom Blitz or a Teenage Rampage, what self-respecting 13-year-old cared what the dull old man with the droopy moustache and the Robert Johnson record from Melody Maker thought? While there’s significant ballast in this trove of material from ’71-78 (all the hits, all the albums, all the rarities, all the rest), there’s also The Six Teens, and if you don’t feel the need to own that then, quite frankly, you and your 27-minute live version of Dazed And Confused deserve each other. QQQQQQQQQQ Ian Fortnam
The Grateful Dead The Grateful Dead Records Collection RHINO Upheavals and exploratory sounds in the mid-70s. Despite the catch-all title of this five-disc set, it actually covers a period of less than three years in the land of the Dead, book-ending a rebirth and farewell of sorts.
Wake Of The Flood, from 1973, was the band’s first full studio set since the latterly-perceived masterpiece American Beauty at the start of the decade, and while it performed better than its predecessor charts-wise, the sonic makeover leaning towards avant-garde jazz alienated some fans. The following year’s From The Mars Hotel, named after a onetime residence of celebrated beat writer Jack Kerouac, was a partial return to their roots, although several tracks sound muted compared to the freeflowing versions played live over the previous 12 months. Blues For Allah (’75) differed in that its songs were largely improvised in the studio, the band having announced an indefinite break from touring, with more members contributing to the songwriting. Experiments with atonal melodies and Middle-Eastern time signatures aren’t wholly successful, although Franklin’s Tower pilfers from Lou Reed’s Walk On The Wild Side with pleasing results. Silence prevailed until the double live album Steal Your Face in 1976, although its recording over four nights at
San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom in 1974 places it, ahem, dead-centre in the chronology of this collection. Technical obstacles in mixing the group’s elaborate multispeaker live sound for home consumption makes it an often unsatisfying listening experience, and the band subsequently revealed that the death of founding member Ron ‘Pigpen’ McKernan from alcoholrelated illness upset the dynamic of their performances. QQQQQQQQQQ Terry Staunton
Scorpions Born To Touch Your Feelings – Best Of Rock Ballads SONY Masters of power-ballad cheesiness. Nobody delivers a power ballad quite like the Scorpions, as this compilation proves. Yes, some of the songs are incredibly cheesy, but so what? That’s the allure of this type of song. With Always Somewhere to Still Loving You, Wind Of Change (inevitably) and Holiday and the rest the band have always
done it with such conviction and style that you have to admire their achievements. Not all of the tracks here come from their original source. There are two MTV Unplugged versions, and in the case of Send Me An Angel it’s a 2017 acoustic rendition. There also two new songs, Melrose Avenue and Always Be With You proving they haven’t lost their touch. There is an argument to suggest that an album full of just ballads lacks variety. However, that shouldn’t deter anyone from getting hold of this 17-tracker, because it will make you smile, and smirk! QQQQQQQQQQ Malcolm Dome
Avenged Sevenfold The Stage CAPITOL A modern classic of epic metal gets a polish. Two years ago, Avenged Sevenfold took everyone by surprise with The Stage, which showed the band elevating their ambitions and taking on board influences from Queen and Queensrÿche. In the process they came up
with a brilliantly explosive and intelligent musical presentation. Now, that album has been expanded, with the addition of seven studio recordings, six of which are covers, plus four live tracks. The live material, which is basically the opening quartet of tracks from The Stage, and Dose, the one previously unreleased studio original, are all worthy additions. But it’s those covers which get the attention. The band give the Rolling Stones’ 50-year-old As Tears Go By a contemporary thrust, Mr Bungle’s Retrovertigo sounds like it was actually composed with this version in mind, and the Del Shannon’s Runaway is spritely. Malagueña Salerosa, meantime, stays true to its Mexican roots However, the shining moments on this reissue come with a breathtaking march through The Beach Boys’ God Only Knows and Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were, both of which have distinct Avenged affectations yet are respectful of the classics we know so well. This deluxe edition on two discs adds to the original album’s impact. QQQQQQQQQQ Malcolm Dome
The Doors Strange Days 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition RHINO Old man’s new clothes are a cheap suit.
THE DOORS: GETTY
hen did you discover The Doors? Raddled old rock journos from the inkie era might claim they were turned on to the band by their heroin dealer; a wrinkly Strip hipster that he saw them perform at the London Fog way back in ’66. Me? I was introduced to The Doors by my mate Steve Pratt. We worked together as Saturday salesmen at men’s tailors John Collier. Pratt instilled in me a love affair for the band that endures to this day. Therefore it should be a gratifying experience – an honour, no less – to review the 50th anniversary edition of their second studio album, Strange Days. But it turns out to be almost impossible. For starters, one cannot help but wonder what a 15-year-old music fan’s reaction would be if he or she heard The Doors for the first time today. “You’re playing me something that’s, like, fifty years old?” Think back. Secondly, to these ears Strange Days is so achingly familiar that any departure from the original vinyl listening experience jars alarmingly: there’s no crackle and pop after Love Me Two Times? There isn’t a skip during Moonlight Drive? How can this be?
There’s no doubt that original engineer Bruce Botnick has done a pristine remastering job, chucking in extra mono mixes for good measure. (But why listen to medium wave when you can have DAB radio instead?) Refreshed, revitalised, reborn? Some might say so. But it just doesn’t sound right. Thirdly, shouldn’t anniversary editions be stylish and celebratory in some fashion? There are no bonus tracks here, although one could argue this is just fine, as in Doors terms such things usually consist of Morrison mumbling incoherently while Robby Krieger plays the riff to Roadhouse Blues over and over again. But the bare-bones nature of this reissue is disconcerting; its cause isn’t helped by sleevenotes that are drier than Jimbo after a month in rehab. Additionally, nitpickers could argue that the original album is past its sell-by. Three examples: the People Are Strange lyric ‘Women seem wicked when you’re unwanted’ sounds
simultaneously misogynistic and pathetic; You’re Lost Little Girl is downright creepy; and as for My Eyes Have Seen You… well, duh! Plus, with a demented US president taunting a tubby North Korean nukehead on Twitter, these days are surely the strangest of them all. QQQQQQQQQQ Geoff Barton
STUFF BOOKS &
Lou Reed: A Life Anthony DeCurtis
The Heroin Diaries: A Year In The Life Of A Shattered Rock Star Ten Year Anniversary Edition Nikki Sixx with Ian Gittins GALLERY BOOKS
Notorious smack confessional given a 10-year update.
typography, reds and blacks, ink splats, plus grainy photos of semi-naked women and white lines being manically caned in every conceivable location, the design compliments the subject matter in its chaos. Far more personal than The Dirt, this account of one calendar year, 1987, reveals a man adrift from reality, locked in a downward death-spiral from which he miraculously escaped, although not without technically dying on December 23 in one of rock’s more notorious ODs. There’s definitely a “sickening allure in his lifestyle” as Slash suggests, as dark and hollow as it is, and it’s this perverse voyeurism, topped with a sprinkling of prurience that keeps the pages turning. Bookended (literally) with a new intro and closing chapter, it’s evident how important the book was in Sixx’s continued recovery and worthy of merit in those terms alone. And while it can’t hold a candle, or burnt spoon, to the work of Sixx’s beloved Burroughs, as an examination of the dangers of a life with no consequences, cocooned in the corporate rock machine, it delivers. QQQQQQQQQQ Tim Batcup
Kiss Klassified – War Stories From A Kiss Army General Johan Kihlberg GAIN PRODUCTION Five-star General. As Hot Chocolate’s Errol Brown once crooned memorably: ‘It started with a kiss.’ And it most certainly did -
How The Beatles Changed The World Tom O’Dell SYMETTRICA The World At War with catchier tunes. It’s strange to see living memory presented in dryly academic historical perspective. Weirdly disconcerting. There are moments during writer/director Tom O’Dell’s 105-minute How The Beatles Changed The World documentary when viewers over 50 might find themselves compelled to check their pulse. The starkly monochrome Swinging Sixties occasionally look as dusty, alien and distant as the silent Roaring Twenties once seemed. Can we really have been there, and still be alive now? A fistful of talking heads, led by cultural historian and Fabmate, Barry Miles, retell the band’s tale (with illuminating contemporary performance and interview footage of the actual Beatles) and lace it with lashings of pertinent historical perspective. But it’s a story so familiar that O’Dell’s belated cinematic recapitulation – as adequate and accurate a labour of love as it surely is – may leave
NIKKI SIXX: PRESS/DUSTIN JACK
here is something about spending Christmas alone, naked, sitting by the Christmas tree gripping a shotgun, that lets you know your life is spinning dangerously outta control.” While certainly belonging to the no-shit-Sherlock school of self-analysis, Sixx’s quote is a decent example of the black humour that threads through this often bleak memoir. Though not exactly an underpopulated genre; the road to fame, drugged-up excess and back being an achingly familiar narrative to anyone who likes the sound of a guitar or indeed music full stop, Sixx’s approach to the drug confessional succeeds where others fail (see Dave Navarro’s selfabsorbed Don’t Try This At Home), largely due to his ability to step back and reflect relatively ego-free. Soberly-written commentaries on the original, less-lucid entries pepper the text, and inject respite from the grinding but entertaining accounts of a hopped-up lifestyle drowning in oceans of booze and silos of smack, crack and enablement. Loosely presented in the Neil Strauss style, i.e. heavily illustrated text, fanzine
The waiting’s over... here’s the man. Lou Reed’s life was not without its complexities and, in public image terms, inhabiting an enigma suited Lou just fine. Even before he learned media manipulation at the feet of the master (he both idolised and imitated Andy Warhol from the moment he adopted the pop art maestro as an unlikely father figure) he was customarily warping actuality to glamorise relatively humdrum beginnings. In 1952, when Reed was just 10, his family relocated from Brooklyn to Freeport, Long Island, and Lou immediately adopted ‘an air of urban swagger’. He realised his NYC beginnings could afford him street credibility in sleepy Freeport and he could be a tough kid in the eyes of his peers simply by wearing a mask of his own making. In many ways Lou Reed was a dramatic construct. According to his sister he suffered from anxiety and panic attacks all his life, but ask Lou, and the reason he didn’t walk to school alone before the age of nine was because “if you walked the streets, you’d get killed.” And primary school? “It was like being in a concentration camp.” This, right here, is Lou. He not only wrote, but lived his own myth, he adopted a combative bad-ass facade that amused him. You’d see the suggestion of a smile playing on his lips as he constructed yet more of his legend, and eventually, he came to believe it. Anthony DeCurtis knew Lou well, and with the help of countless, excellent interviewees, gets behind the mask. An affectionate biography that surpasses the 1994 begrudgings of Bockris, here’s the definitive account. QQQQQQQQQQ Ian Fortnam
in sleepy 1970s Sweden at least. When in May ‘76 Kiss (capital ‘K’ of course) rocked up to play their debut Scandi show in Gothenburg, the impact left an indelible impression. Overnight, Sweden became the epicentre of sleaze and glam, and – for good or ill - it’s never felt the need to relinquish that status. In Kiss Klassified we have the memories of Johan Kihlberg, president of Kiss Army Sweden for 10 years, distilled into a coffee-table book. It contains 750 never-before-seen photos and several unpublished interviews, and there’s a welcome focus on ‘lesser’ Kiss types such as Eric Carr, Vinnie Vincent and Bruce Kulick. The book’s design resembles a garish 1980s heavy metal fanzine, which is a very good thing indeed, and it oozes with trivia so trivial as to amount to little more than insignificant tittletattle. There are facts here (like the story behind the mysterious symbols on Kulick’s left trouser leg) that will astound even the most knowledgeable Kiss fan. A work of minor genius. QQQQQQQQQQ Geoff Barton
the average armchair classic rock historian baffled by its very existence. That said, woolgathering middle-aged nostalgists are possibly not its ideal audience. It would, however, make an ideal classroom aid for 21st-century kids studying late20th-century history, and a necessary one at that. After all, youâ€™d need to present a hell of a lot of evidence to convince anyone born into this anodyne, static, complacent, apolitical musical zeitgeist that a mere pop group could once have actually changed the world. Most of todayâ€™s couldnâ€™t change their T-shirt without written permission from their stylist. QQQQQQQQQQ Ian Fortnam
The Picnic At Blackbushe Jerry Bloom WYMER Big book remembers even bigger outdoor gig. July 15th 1978, and 250,000 people display the negligible impact of punk on rockâ€™s old brigade by trekking to Blackbushe Airfield in Surrey to watch Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Joan Armatrading and Graham Parker. Harvey Goldsmith calls it his best-ever event, and Dylanâ€™s first UK dates in 12 years dominate the news. Yet for all the shelves of Dylanology out there, it somehow hasnâ€™t entered rock lore like some smaller events. This hardback book in a metal flight case aims to rectify that. Compiling hundreds of photos, anecdotes and cuttings, itâ€™s a devotional scrapbook recording everyoneâ€™s performances plus fan reaction on a grey English summerâ€™s day. Dylan stands alongside Billy Connolly to watch Clapton. Armatrading wears a rugby shirt. Jenny Agutter and Ringo are there. Dylan performs in a top hat given to him by a Savoy doorman and plays for nearly three hours. Back to the garden, kinda. QQQQQQQQQQ Chris Roberts
So Here It Is: The Autobiography Dave Hill UNBOUND Look wot â€™e did! Just like In Flame, the bandâ€™s movie from 1975, this autobiography of Sladeâ€™s superyob guitarist has a dark undercurrent. Described
by former bandmate Noddy Holder as â€œinfuriating, zany, demanding and impatient, but also very funnyâ€? and remembered for those preposterous outfits on Top Of The Pops, this is probably how few of us view Hill. However, like his mother Dave has suffered from depression. The writing of this book and the unearthing of some family skeletons have, he says, acted as therapy. Its contents touch upon almost 50 years with Slade and drummer Don Powell, almost half of that time without Holder and bassist Jim Lea, from becoming the biggest band in the land to trying â€“ and failing â€“ to break America and re-birth at the Reading Festival in 1980. Having resumed his life and career after suffering a stroke onstage in Germany, So Here It Is certainly has the human touch. QQQQQQQQQQ Dave Ling
Beatles On The Roof: The Farewell Concert That Surprised The World Tony Barrell OMNIBUS Excellent account of the Fab Fourâ€™s legendary 1969 rooftop gig. On January 30, 1969, the four members of The Beatles, accompanied by Billy Preston, played together outdoors for the first time since 1966. There had been much discussion about a concert intended for a TV broadcast, which had the feeling of a reunion despite the band still being together, so estranged had they become. Suggestions for venues had included the Cavern, a Tunisian ampitheatre and, facetiously from John, Manila. The Beatlesâ€™ story has been told countless times but Barrellâ€™s account feels fresh and revealing. He is great on the runup to the gig, McCartneyâ€™s impatience at Lennon and Harrisonâ€™s apathy, dealing with the naĂŻve moneypit that was Apple, which McCartney tried to persuade Lord Beeching, dismantler of the railways, to take over. Mayfair is wonderfully depicted as an area under siege by rockers in the late 60s, including Hendrix and Hells Angels as well as The Beatles â€“ never before, never again. QQQQQQQQQQ David Stubbs
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Many bands suffer a mid-life crisis. Their London show suggests that this is not one of them.
106 Interviews p109 Tour Dates p112 Live Reviews
ing to “I’m try P’s take EL o music t t the nex . ion generat her it You’ll e not, r like it o ally but I re .” en joy it
Carl Palmer The newly crowned Prog God commemorates his former bandmates with ELP Legacy.
he final remaining member of Emerson Lake & Palmer talks about his relationships with Keith and Greg, “unfair” media criticism and the latest tour by his solo band.
You were recently named Prog God at the awards ceremony of Classic Rock’s sister magazine Prog. How did it feel to receive that? It was great to accept the award on behalf of Greg [Lake] and Keith [Emerson]. The past year has been a pretty rough time for me; I’ve lost so many of my colleagues, the most recent being John Wetton [Asia bandmate]. So it carried a bit of a healing factor. ELP were so critically reviled. Did the award represent some form of vindication? Yeah, maybe just a little. I find that stuff [media criticism] slightly unfair. When you think about the ways Pink Floyd toured and the way the Rolling Stones and U2 still do it, why were ELP singled out? We might have laid down the blueprint, but others were more extravagant, and we were the ones that got clobbered. In your acceptance speech at the Prog Awards you said: “Keith, Greg and I were never the greatest of friends, but there was definitely a magic between us.” I didn’t talk to Greg Lake for the last six years of his life. It was my decision to end ELP in 2010. Keith threw his arms around me and thanked me for that, but Greg became a bit bitter. We corresponded a little by email, but until the day he died I had no idea of the severity of his illness. 106 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
Few would have expected that. Well, Greg and I went out for dinner just once or twice in all of the time we worked together. Keith and I had more in common. But the three of us were not friends; music was the calling and when we got in a room together. I doubt I’ll ever feel anything like that again. ELP reissues have been plentiful, but the new super-deluxe, twenty-four-disc boxed set Fanfare 1970-77 is something very different. Yes. All three of us had said that we wanted something to really sew everything up. I’m happy that it contains live recordings that were never before released plus all sorts of ‘extras’ including a beautiful book. Do the new 5.1 mixes by Steven Wilson and Jakko Jakszyk of King Crimson get the thumbs-up from you? That’s something the record company wanted to do. Some might prefer the originals, but my attitude is: hey, let’s see if somebody can put even more into the music. It was great anyway. Whether or not we’ve improved it is up to the individual listener, but I approach things with an open mind. Does anything remain in the vaults? There’s a six-hour DVD [Beyond The Beginning] released by Sanctuary [in 2008] that fell between the cracks. I can still add another ninety minutes to that for re-release, but the box set sews it all together.
A PALMER PRÉCIS Many people might be Carl Palmer was surprised that your born in Birmingham band ELP Legacy have in 1950. a guitarist in place of His first bands were a keyboard player? the Crazy World Of I wanted to carry on Arthur Brown and Atomic Rooster. playing ELP music, but hiring ELP Legacy are a Keith Emerson clone or even completed by guitarist a vocalist really didn’t appeal, Paul Bielatowicz and so I went for something niche bassist Simon – a prog rock instrumental Fitzpatrick. metal group. Compared to South America and Italy, England doesn’t get it yet, but I’m trying to take ELP’s music to the next generation. You’ll either like it or you won’t, but I really enjoy it. Asia played a US tour with Journey after John Wetton’s death. Is the band likely to continue? Those dates were offered before John died, and we did them with Billy Sherwood as a stand-in. Billy had produced John’s final [solo] album [Raised In Captivity]. On those dates with Journey we went down phenomenally well, and it made us realise that if we play in front of the right audiences then this band still stands a chance. But Asia will continue. There are some really interesting people who want to be in the band, although obviously I can’t mention their names until that’s fully confirmed. But there are exciting times ahead. DL ELP Legacy’s tour ends in Norwich on December 3.
Threshold It’s all change for the Surrey prog-metal veterans.
n the springtime, Threshold shocked the world of prog-metal by severing ties with singer Damian Wilson. The UK group’s eleventh album, Legends Of The Shires, welcomes back former vocalist Glynn Morgan. Keyboard player Richard West refuses to spill the beans. What happened with Damian Wilson, whose vocals were was removed from the Legends album after its completion? The honest answer is that Damian doesn’t want us to explain the reasons. So we’d rather respect his wishes. What I will say is that the atmosphere within the band had changed over the last couple of years. It felt like a necessary time to move on. Wilson had professed a desire to be “involved as an equal” in Threshold. I wish I could say “no comment”. I’m not sure what he means. Everyone has their role within the band. That’s curious. Well, you and guitarist Karl Groom write just about all of the songs. It was awkward. We often talked about it. We never managed to fit Damian into the process. For instance, he wrote a song for [the last album] For The Journey on his phone, then lost it, which was unfortunate. But we were always open to his ideas. You must have known it was a gamble to replace such a popular singer? Yeah, but we’ve done it before rather a lot of times [laughs]. The saving grace is that it’s an old voice and not a new one. Is Legends Of The Shires the biggest thing the band have attempted? It’s the biggest and most complete, yeah. We decided early on that it would be even more prog than For The Journey. Is there a little bit of Brexit in its concept of “a nation trying to find its way in a troubled world”? Yeah. It has a divorce song called State Of Independence, and that divorce is between David Cameron and Angela Merkl. And yet Stars And Satellites is the closest you’ve come to a pop song? Yes. It didn’t feel like a Threshold song at first but the response to it has really humbled me. DL Threshold play London Islington Academy on December 10.
Max & Iggor Cavalera Return To Roots Reconciled at last, they’re celebrating 20 years of a metal epic.
heir long-running feud over, drummer Iggor Cavalera checks in as he and brother Max continue a 20th-anniversary celebration of Roots, their former band Sepultura’s breakthrough. This in-its-entirety tour for Roots has been so successful it’s run for more than a year. Which shows have been the best? It was very special to play in Brazil [Sepultura’s birthplace] and Download Festival. Going to Iceland for the first time was also really cool. Two decades on, are the songs from Roots still fun to play live? Oh, absolutely. The energy is different every night. I love the fact that there are people seeing us play those songs for the first time. What do you remember from when you journeyed into the Brazilian jungle to collaborate with the Xavante tribe for the recording Roots? It’s crazier than at the time and still one of the highlights of my life. The
Xavantes had to dream an idea before they could put it to music. Was it difficult for Sepultura to surpass such a daring record? Not really, because we also took a lot of hate for it. For many people, Roots is their least favourite of Sepultura’s albums. What else is in the set-list? Max and I return alone to the stage and we jam whatever comes into
“It’s like we’re back playing in our living room, really raw.”
moments. In Australia Max started playing an AC/DC song and it was horrible. He looked at me and laughed. “Bon Scott has just rolled over in his grave.” Max quit Sepultura after Roots but you stayed for another ten years. Now that you’re reconciled, how would you describe your relationship? It’s cool. We’re older and still have the passion for music. We’ll throw at each other ten new bands that we’ve discovered, like a black metal band from Syria or something. We’re still into the underground.
our minds. It can be a cover or something we wrote when we were fourteen. With just guitar, drums and the voice it sounds like we are back in our living room. Really raw.
But on a personal level the period of estrangement must have been uncomfortable? It was tough, but maybe we needed [the break]. We had a superintense relationship. Now we try to eliminate all of the drama, things like complaining about the [backstage] catering. DL
That sounds cool. Yeah, but there are some really bad
The Cavaleras play London The Forum on December 12. CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 107
Electric Boys Swedish glamsters groove – unpolitically – once more.
uitarist, vocalist and band leader Conny Bloom previews a British tour as the band celebrate 25 years since the release of their ‘difficult’ second album, Groovus Maximus. Groovus Maximus has some wonderful songs but suffered in comparison to its celebrated predecessor, Funk-OMetal Carpet Ride. Well you say that, but it’s all a matter of taste. I know people that think it’s our best album. I also know others that prefer Freewheelin’ [1994, the band’s final album before a split]. Personally I like both of the first two records. Groovus was more like our live show – less production effects and more hard rock riffs.
Uli Jon Roth Around the world with “a mind full of music” and a Scorpions classic.
he former Scorpions guitarist performs a final run of shows based on 1978’s Tokyo Tapes, the celebrated doublelive album that was his swansong with the German band. How will these dates on the Tokyo Tapes Revisited world tour differ from previous legs you’ve done? There will be a couple of different songs but basically it’s the same. And you know what? This has been quite educational for me, because I’ve never stuck with one programme for a long period of time. I was very happy to be invited back to some places we’ve already played, and also to Scotland. But it’s also important for me to say that because improvisation is such a big part of what I do, no two shows are ever the same. Who have you got in your band this time? I have a pool of musicians but it’s mostly the same line-up as on the last leg. It will definitely be the same singer, Nicklaus Thurman. The songs concerned are from 1974 to 1977. Do you
think it’s important to keep that material alive? The Scorpions no longer play most of those songs, and when a friend suggested it to me they said: “There are still a lot of people that want to hear songs from that era. If you don’t do it, then nobody else will.” It took a while to get my head around it but it got me back in touch with the rock side of my playing. Your album that started it all, Scorpions Revisited, came out almost three years ago.
“Improvisation is such a big part of this for me, so no two shows are ever the same.” Is it now almost time to do something else? [Laughing] Yeah, I think so. At the start I had thought that this would be for one tour only, but the promoters kept on requesting it and I was surprised by how well the
show works. Next year we will do a different programme. And what might that be? The plan is to return to my Electric Sun [post-Scorpions] period, which was a very important time in my life. In the UK that band was quite successful, we headlined twice at Hammersmith Odeon [in 1983 and ’85]. And 2018 just happens to be the fortieth anniversary of Electric Sun’s formation. When you play live, often with your eyes closed in concentration, what goes through your mind? Not much. How shall I explain… I’m not wondering whether I left the stove on at home [laughs]. My mind is full of music – notes, images and movements. When I play a lead solo, words become non-existent. When I play a vibrato, I might see the note in front of me, very much in 3D. I become the note. I find it best to forget about myself; in fact I pretend that I no longer exist. I see myself as a servant of the music all of the time. DL The last of Roth’s 2017 dates is Blackpool on December 21.
You must have enjoyed recording at Abbey Road? Because we liked it so much we returned for the third album. With Groovus we worked in the same room as The Beatles had done, and some said that Mary In The Mystery World was inspired by that whole situation. But of course the song was written half a year earlier. The album came out right in the middle of the grunge revolution, which cost the band dearly. Yeah, but we were in our own little bubble and didn’t really see it coming. I wish it had come out sooner, but I was the only songwriter and we thought we had set the standards really high with the first album. Later on you had a spell with Hanoi Rocks. Do you have good memories of those days? Those were four and a half great years, a brilliant time in my life. Have you spoken to your Silver Ginger 5 bandmate Ginger Wildheart recently? We’re still friends, if that’s what you mean. I love the guy. A great songwriter. Could you talk up these upcoming shows for an inquisitive newcomer? We will preview the single from a new album that we’re recording. We play groove rock with pop melodies and some psychedelia, but it’s a party gig; we’re not trying to be political. DL The tour ends in London on December 4.
Tour Dates 36 CRAZYFISTS
Glasgow Manchester Birmingham London
Cathouse Academy 3 Academy 2 Islington Academy Camden Koko
BRYAN ADAMS Manchester Birmingham Glasgow Leeds Newcastle London London
Arena Genting Arena The Hydro First Direct Arena Metro Radio Arena Wembley Arena O2 Arena
May 24 May 25 May 26 May 27 May 29 May 30 May 31
AIRRACE, LIONHEART Wolverhampton London Sheffield Newcastle Edinburgh
Slade Rooms Camden Underworld Academy The Cluny Bannerman’s
Dec 1 Dec 2 Dec 3 Dec 5 Dec 6
ALIEN ANT FARM Bristol London Manchester Norwich Leeds Birmingham Dublin Belfast Glasgow Newcastle Nottingham
Academy Kentish Town Forum The Ritz Waterfront Academy Institute Academy Limelight 2 Garage Academy Rock City
Feb 6 Feb 7 Feb 8 Feb 10 Feb 11 Feb 12 Feb 14 Feb 15 Feb 16 Feb 17 Feb 18 Apr 3 Apr 5 Apr 6 Apr 7 Apr 9 Apr 10 Apr 11 Apr 17
Camden Underworld Eleven Trillians Yardbirds Club Cathouse Pure Limelight Academy Tivoli Hobos Green Door Store Robin 2 Fibbers Iron Road The Bear
Feb 6 Feb 7 Feb 8 Feb 9 Feb 10 Feb 11 Feb 13 Feb 14 Feb 16 Feb 17 Feb 18 Feb 20 Feb 21 Feb 22 Feb 23
A PERFECT CIRCLE Apollo Brixton Academy
Jun 12 Jun 13
APOCALYPTICA Brighton Bristol Birmingham Cambridge Glasgow
Dome Colston Hall Symphony Hall Corn Exchange ABC
ABC Rock City Camden Koko The Ritz Academy
Feb 9 Feb 10 Feb 11 Feb 13 Feb 14
ATOMIC ROOSTER London
Chelsea Under The Bridge
AT THE DRIVE IN, DEATH FROM ABOVE, LE BUTCHERETTES
London Newcastle Birmingham Manchester Glasgow
Brixton Academy Academy Academy 2 Apollo Academy
Dec 8 Dec 9
Civic Hall Hammersmith Apollo
Jan 2 Jan 4
BLACK LABEL SOCIETY London Dublin Belfast
Royal Albert Hall Tivoli Limelight
Apr 5 Apr 7 Apr 8
BLOODSTOCK FESTIVAL JUDAS PRIEST, NIGHTWISH, GOJIRA, MORE Derbyshire
JOE BONAMASSA Cardiff Manchester Carlisle Aberdeen Gateshead Birmingham Brighton
Motorpoint Arena Arena Sands Centre GE Oil & Gas Centre The Sage Genting Arena Centre
Mar 9 Mar 10 Mar 11 Mar 13 Mar 14 Mar 16 Mar 17
Komedia Giants Of Rock Festival The Soundhouse Haven Club Warehouse 23 Nice ‘N’ Sleazy Bannermans Bodega Slade Rooms
Jan 25 Jan 26 Jan 27 Feb 1 Feb 2 Feb 9 Feb 10 Feb 16 Feb 17
BROKEN WITT REBELS Bristol Manchester Nottingham
Thekla Ruby Lounge Bodega
Dec 7 Dec 8 Dec 9
TYLER BRYANT AND THE SHAKEDOWN Birmingham Trecco Bay Manchester London
Castle & Falcon Planet Rockstock Festival Ruby Lounge Camden Dingwalls
Dec 2 Dec 3 Dec 4 Dec 5
FRANK CARTER & THE RATTLESNAKES Bristol Birmingham Manchester Glasgow Nottingham Norwich London
Academy Institute The Ritz ABC Rock City UEA Brixton Academy
Dec 1 Dec 2 Dec 3 Dec 5 Dec 6 Dec 7 Dec 8
RETURN TO ROOTS, OVER KILL, INSOMNIUM, DESERTED FEAR London
Kentish Town Forum
ROGER CHAPMAN, FAMILY & FRIENDS Southampton Leicester London Newcastle
The Brook Academy Shepherd’s Bush Empire Academy
Jan 9 Jan 11 Jan 13 Jan 17
CLIMAX BLUES BAND London
Oxford Street 100 Club
Evesham Bognor Reading Cardiff London Glasgow Newcastle Birmingham
Dec 1 Dec 2 Dec 3
Glasgow Birmingham Bristol
Iron Road Regis Butlins Sub 89 The Globe Putney Half Moon
Matti Antero Kristian Fagerholm (yes, him) brings his tasty rough’n’roll glam-punk to London and Birmingham. See page 106 for dates, currently December 1 and 2. London Manchester Southampton
Shepherd’s Bush Empire Albert Hall Guildhall
Dec 7 Dec 9 Dec 10
THE DAMNED, SLIM JIM PHANTOM Newcastle Dundee Glasgow Leeds Manchester Birmingham Leicester Nottingham Folkestone Southend-on-Sea Cardiff Bristol Bournemouth Southampton Bexhill London
Academy Caird Hall Academy Academy Academy Academy Academy Rock City Leas Cliff Hall Cliffs Pavilion Great Hall Academy Academy Guildhall De La Warr Pavilion Kentish Town Forum
Dec 7 Feb 2 Feb 9 Apr 7 Apr 20
PHIL COLLINS The Hydro Metro Radio Arena Genting Arena
Dec 1 Dec 2 Dec 3
ABC Institute Trinity
Dec 3 Dec 4 Dec 5
ELECTRIC BOYS Porthcawl Nottingham London
Planet Rockstock Festival Rescue Rooms Camden Underworld
Dec 2 Dec 3 Dec 4
Rock City ABC Academy Tivoli The Ritz Kentish Town Forum
Apr 6 Apr 7 Apr 8 Apr 10 Apr 12 Apr 13
Jan 26 Jan 27 Jan 28 Jan 30 Jan 31 Feb 1 Feb 3 Feb 4 Feb 6 Feb 7 Feb 9 Feb 10 Feb 11 Feb 13 Feb 14 Feb 17
Nottingham Glasgow Bristol Dublin Manchester London
EVANESCENCE London Manchester Nottingham Glasgow Sheffield
Royal Festival Hall Apollo Arena Armadillo City Hall Academy Academy Academy Academy Academy Brixton Academy
Stoke-on-Trent Nottingham Norwich Guildford Margate Southend-on-Sea Birmingham London Brighton Cardiff Bristol
Dec 1 Dec 2 Dec 3 Dec 5 Dec 6 Dec 7 Dec 9 Dec 10 Dec 11 Dec 13 Dec 14
Birmingham Manchester Glasgow London Nottingham Bristol Newcastle Leeds Dublin Belfast
Jan 31 Feb 1 Feb 2 Feb 3 Feb 4 Feb 6 Feb 7 Feb 8
Bristol Norwich Manchester Glasgow Leeds Birmingham Nottingham London
Dec 1 Dec 2 Dec 7 Dec 8
Victoria Hall Rock City UEA G Live Winter Gardens Cliffs Pavilion Academy Hammersmith Apollo Dome St David’s Hall Colston Hall
THE DEAD BOYS Leeds Sheffield Birmingham Newcastle Glasgow Manchester Nottingham London
Brudenell Social Club Academy 2 Institute 2 Riverside ABC 2 Gorilla Rescue Rooms Islington Academy
Edinburgh Sheffield Bilston Southampton
La Belle Angèle HRH Festival Robin 2 1865 Club Camden Roundhouse Academy Waterfront Factory Camden Underworld
Dec 13 Dec 12 Dec 13 Dec 15 Feb 28
DOWNLOAD FESTIVAL Donnington Park
Institute The Ritz ABC Camden Koko Rock City SWX Boiler Shop Beckett Olympia Theatre Limelight
Feb 20 Feb 21 Feb 22 Feb 23 Feb 24 Feb 25 Mar 8 Mar 9 Mar 10 Mar 11
Academy UEA Academy Barrowland Academy Academy Rock City Brixton Academy
Mar 7 Mar 8 Mar 10 Mar 11 Mar 13 Mar 14 Mar 16 Mar 17
Camden Underworld Corporation
Jan 21 Jan 22
FISH Leeds Manchester Leamington Cardiff Bristol London Cambridge Newcastle Glasgow
Metropolitan University The Ritz The Assembly Tramshed Academy Islington Assembly Hall Corn Exchange Wylam Brewery ABC
Dec 8 Dec 9 Dec 10 Dec 12 Dec 13 Dec 15, 16 Dec 19 Dec 20 Dec 21
FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH,
GUNS N’ ROSES, OZZY OSBOURNE, AVENGED SEVENFOLD, MORE Leicestershire
& THE HOWLING WEATHER
DIRTY THRILLS, BLUE NATION Birmingham Norwich Manchester London
Dec 13 Dec 14 Dec 16 Dec 17 Dec 18 Dec 20
DINOSAUR JR London
Mar 30, 31 Apr 2 Apr 3 Apr 5 Apr 6
EXTREME, DAN REED NETWORK Newcastle Glasgow Leeds Birmingham Bristol London
THE DARKNESS, BLACKFOOT GYPSIES
DIAMOND HEAD Jan 17
JOHN COGHLAN’S QUO
Mar 9 Mar 10 Mar 12 Mar 13 Mar 15
BAD TOUCH, MOLLIE MARRIOTT Norwich Waterfront Studio Southampton Talking Heads Trecco Bay Planet Rockstock Festival
Fibbers Brudenell Social Club
MAX & IGGOR CAVALERA
Feb 27 Feb 28 Mar 1 Mar 2 Mar 3
ARCH ENEMY, WINTERSUN, Glasgow Nottingham London Manchester Bristol
Dec 13 Dec 15 Dec 16 Dec 17 Dec 19 Dec 20
BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION Wolverhampton London
Apollo City Hall Usher Hall Auditorium Colston Hall Symphony Hall Corn Exchange Royal Albert Hall
Islington Academy King Tat’s Wah Wah Hut Pleasance Theatre Cottiers Theatre Limelight Whelans
Brighton Minehead Leicester Oxford Wakefield Glasgow Edinburgh Nottingham Wolverhampton
BIG COUNTRY York Leeds
IAN ANDERSON & JETHRO TULL
London Glasgow Edinburgh Glasgow Belfast Dublin
Manchester Newcastle Edinburgh Liverpool Bristol Birmingham Cambridge London London Stoke-on-Trent Newcastle Grimsby Glasgow Wigan Belfast Dublin Buckley Bridgend Brighton Bilston York Evesham Weston
Jan 18 Jan 19 Jan 20 Jan 21
ACCEPT, NIGHT DEMON London
IN FLAMES, OF MICE & MEN June 8-10
Dec 17 Dec 18
Arena Wembley Arena
Dec 20 Dec 21
FOO FIGHTERS Manchester London
Etihad Stadium Stadium
Oxford Street 100 Club
Cardiff London Birmingham Manchester Glasgow
HAWKWIND, URIAH HEEP, MAGNUM, MORE Butlins
GOGOL BORDELLO Manchester London Wolverhampton Nottingham Glasgow
Academy Brixton Academy Wulfrun Hall Rock City Academy
Dec 12 Dec 14 Dec 15 Dec 16 Dec 17
GOOD CHARLOTTE, MILK TEETH Birmingham Manchester London
Academy Academy Brixton Academy
Dec 1 Dec 2 Dec 3
GREAT BRITISH ROCK & BLUES FESTIVAL Skegness
GUN Glasgow Manchester London
Barrowland Club Academy Camden Electric Ballroom
Dec 2 Dec 8 Dec 9
HARD ROCK HELL NWOBHM
RAVEN, DIAMOND HEAD, LIONHEART, AVENGER, MORE Sheffield
Dec 2, 3
BETH HART Dublin Ipswich Bexhill Nottingham Oxford Folkestone Cardiff Cambridge Blackpool Hull Reading Portsmouth Coventry London Cheltenham
Vicar Street Regent Theatre De La Warr Pavilion Royal Concert Hall New Theatre Leas Hall St David Hall Corn Exchange Opera House City Hall Hexagon Guildhall Cathedral Royal Albert Hall Jazz Festival
Apr 10 Apr 12 Apr 14 Apr 15 Apr 18 Apr 19 Apr 21 Apr 24 Apr 26 Apr 27 Apr 30 May 1 Nov 3 May 4 May 5
JO HARMAN, ELLES BAILEY London
Oxford Street 100 Club
Barrowland Rock City Academy Chalk Farm Roundhouse
Dec 14 Dec 15 Dec 16 Dec 17
Islington Assembly Hall
HIM Glasgow Nottingham Manchester London
IRON MAIDEN, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE Newcastle Belfast Aberdeen Manchester Birmingham London
Metro Radio Arena Jul 31 SSE Arena Aug 2 Exhibition & Conference Centre Aug 4 Arena Aug 6 Genting Arena Aug 7 O2 Arena Aug 10
JADIS Southampton St Helens London
Talking Heads Citadel Tufnell Park Dome
May 3 May 4 May 5
Shepherd’s Bush Empire Town Hall Forum Queen’s Hall Leadmill
Jan 17 Jan 18 Jan 20 Jan 26 Jan 27
KING KING London Birmingham Bath Edinburgh Sheffield
Motorpoint Arena O2 Arena Genting Arena Arena The Hydro
Dec 1, 2 Dec 3 Feb 15 Feb 16 Feb 17 Feb 18 Feb 20 Feb 21 Feb 22 Feb 23
See below for dates, currently December 2-10.
LACUNA COIL Shepherd’s Bush Empire
Liverpool Aberdeen Edinburgh Belfast Dublin Leeds Oxford Southampton Brighton London
Academy Garage Liquid Room Mandela Hall Academy Church Academy Engine Rooms Concorde 2 Camden Koko
Dec 1 Dec 3 Dec 4 Dec 5 Dec 6 Dec 8 Dec 9 Dec 10 Dec 11 Dec 12
LITTLE CAESAR London Milton Keynes Sheffield Newcastle Bilston Keighley Evesham Grimsby Glasgow Edinburgh Manchester Chester Pwllheli
Camden Underworld Craufurd Arms Corporation The Cluny Robin 2 Penningtons Iron Road Yardbirds Club Cathouse Bannermans Academy 3 Live Rooms Hard Rock Hell AOR
Feb 21 Feb 22 Feb 24 Feb 23 Feb 27 Mar 1 Mar 2 Mar 3 Mar 4 Mar 7 Mar 8 Mar 9 Mar 10
CONNIE LUSH, KYLA BROX, Pavilion Theatre Albany Theatre Chelsea Under The Bridge Alive! Gala Theatre The Apex Tunnels The Octagon The Atkinson
Mar 21 Mar 22 Mar 23 Mar 24 Mar 25 Mar 27 Mar 28 Mar 29 Mar 30
MACHINE HEAD Southampton Cardiff Bristol Birmingham London Nottingham Newcastle Glasgow Manchester
Guildhall University Academy Academy Chalk Farm Roundhouse Rock City Academy Academy Academy
May 13 May 14 May 15 May 17 May 18, 19 May 21 May 22 May 23 May 25
Trinity Tramshed Picturedrome Academy 2 Welly Garage Garage Limelight Town Hall Guildhall Rock City The Assembly Junction Islington Assembly Hall
Feb 20 Feb 21 Feb 23 Feb 24 Feb 25 Feb 26 Feb 27 Mar 1 Mar 2 Feb 4 Mar 5 Mar 7 Mar 8 Mar 9
MAGNUM Bristol Cardiff Holmfirth Manchester Hull Aberdeen Glasgow Belfast Birmingham Preston Nottingham Leamington Spa Cambridge London
Mar 11 Mar 12
MARILYN MANSON Manchester Glasgow Wolverhampton Newport London
Apollo Academy Civic Hall Centre Wembley Arena
Dec 4 Dec 5 Dec 6 Dec 8 Dec 9
The Sage Corn Exchange Symphony Hall Dome Colston Hall Hexagon Philharmonic Hall
Apr 11 Apr 13 Apr 14 Apr 16 Apr 17 Apr 19 Apr 20
BERNIE MARSDEN, FLAWLESS CARBON London
Oxford Street 100 Club
MASTODON, RED FANG, RUSSIAN CIRCLES
Cardiff Wolverhampton Nottingham Newcastle Glasgow Manchester London Skegness Otley Kinross Newport (IOW) Barnoldswick Selby
Great Hall Civic Hall Rock City Northumbria University Barrowland Academy Brixton Academy Great British Folk Festival Courthouse Arts Centre Backstage At The Green Quay Arts Centre Arts & Music Centre Town Hall
Dec 2 Dec 4 Dec 5 Dec 6 Dec 7 Dec 9 Dec 10 Dec 1 Dec 2 Dec 3 Dec 6 Dec 7 Dec 8
CHANTEL McGREGOR Bristol The Tunnels Derby Flowerpot Barton-upon-Humber Ropery Hall Leeds Brudenell Social Club
Dec 10 Dec 14 Dec 15 Dec 16
MOGWAI London Glasgow
Brixton Academy The Hydro
Dec 15 Dec 16
MICHAEL MONROE London Birmingham
Tufnell Park Dome Institute 3 The Met Robin 2 The Stables Waterfront
Dec 9 Dec 10 Dec 14 Dec 21
OPERATION: MINDCRIME Dublin Belfast Sheffield Pontypridd London Newcastle Bilston Glasgow
May 4 May 5 May 26
ROBERT PLANT, SETH LAKEMAN Belfast Sheffield London Portsmouth Birmingham
Ulster Hall City Hall Royal Albert Hall Guildhall Symphony Hall
Dec 2 Dec 6 Dec 8 Dec 11 Dec 12
Button Factory Empire Music Hall Corporation Muni Arts Centre Highbury Garage Trillians Robin 2 G2
Oxford Street 100 Club
THE PRETTY THINGS London Leicester
Manette Street Borderline The Musician
Dec 15 Dec 22
THE PRODIGY Manchester Doncaster Plymouth Glasgow Wolverhampton London
Apollo Dome Pavilions Academy Civic Hall Brixton Academy
Dec 14 Dec 15 Dec 16 Dec 18 Dec 19 Dec 21-23
QUEEN + ADAM LAMBERT Newcastle Glasgow Nottingham Leeds Sheffield Manchester London London
Metro Radio Arena The Hydro Motorpoint Arena First Direct Arena Motorpoint Arena Arena O2 Arena Wembley Arena
Dec 1 Dec 3 Dec 5 Dec 6 Dec 8 Dec 9 Dec 12 Dec 15
THE QUIREBOYS (UNPLUGGED) Stirling Edinburgh Nottingham London Evesham Stoke-On-Trent Leicester Sutton In Ashfield Plymouth Norwich Ballymena Derby Bilston
Tolbooth Bannermans Bar Rescue Rooms Manette Street Borderline Iron Road Eleven The Musician The Diamond The Hub Waterfront Diamond Rock Club Flowerpot Robin 2
Dec 7 Dec 8 Dec 9 Dec 10 Dec 14 Dec 15 Dec 16 Dec 17 Dec 22 Dec 23 Jan 13 Jan 27 Jan 28
Philharmonic Hall Apollo City Hall Waterfront New Theatre Centre BIC
Dec 1 Dec 3 Dec 5 Dec 8 Dec 10 Dec 11 Dec 13
CHRIS REA Dec 1 Dec 2
MOSTLY AUTUMN Bury Bilston Wavendon Norwich
ABC Picturedrome Kentish Town Forum
BEN POOLE, STEVIE NIMMO
MARILLION Gateshead Cambridge Birmingham Brighton Bristol Reading Liverpool
MATTHEWS SOUTHERN COMFORT
Whitby Coventry London Lincoln Durham Bury St Edmunds Bristol Keighley Southport
Engine Rooms Old Market
Jan 11 Jan 12 Jan 14 Jan 19 Jan 20
MIKE PETERS & THE ALARM Glasgow Holmfirth London
MARK LANEGAN BAND Jan 19-21
Arts Centre Wedgewood Rooms Thekla Rescue Rooms Limelight 2 Tivoli Classic Grand Gorilla
10,000 years ago, mastodons, heavy beasts, roamed North America. Next month, Mastodon, heavy beasts, roam the UK.
ROGER CHAPMAN, NAZARETH, LUCKY PETERSON, MORE
Trading Boundaries Epic Studios
GIANTS OF ROCK FESTIVAL Minehead
PARADISE LOST Colchester Portsmouth Bristol Nottingham Belfast Dublin Glasgow Manchester
ERIC GALES, QUINN SULLIVAN, London
Camden Electric Ballroom
CARL PALMER’S ELP LEGACY
Feb 22 Feb 23 Feb 24 Feb 25
THE FUZZTONES London
Jan 19 Jan 20 Jan 21
BLACK MOTH, RIDDLES
Cathouse Corporation The Station Camden Underworld
Yardbirds Club Rebellion Tivoli
ORANGE GOBLIN, KARMA TO BURN,
Jun 19 Jun 22, 23
FREEDOM CALL Glasgow Sheffield Cannock London
Grimsby Manchester Buckley
Liverpool Manchester Sheffield Belfast Oxford Brighton Bournemouth
Jan 11 Jan 12 Jan 13 Jan 14 Jan 15 Jan 16 Jan 17 Jan 18
CHRIS ROBINSON BROTHERHOOD London
Malet Street ULU
ULI JON ROTH, ALI CLINTON Chester Aberdeen Dundee
Live Rooms Assembly Venue
Dec 6 Dec 8 Dec 9
TOUR DATES Glasgow Bilston London Stoke-on-Trent Wakefield Oldham Sheffield York Newcastle Edinburgh Blackpool
The Ferry Robin 2 Islington Academy Eleven Snooty Fox Whittles Academy Fibbers Academy Bannermans Waterloo Music Bar
Dec 10 Dec 11 Dec 12 Dec 13 Dec 15 Dec 16 Dec 17 Dec 18 Dec 19 Dec 20 Dec 21
THE TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT
Putney Half Moon Blues Weekend Citadel
Mar 13 Mar 14 Mar 15 Mar 16 Mar 17 Mar 18
Manchester Glasgow Birmingham Oxford Bristol London
Running Horse Katie Fitzgerald’s Chichester Inn Barnes Bull’s Head
Dec 13 Dec 14 Dec 15 Dec 16
SIKTH, DEVIL SOLD HIS SOUL Manchester Glasgow Birmingham Bristol Brighton London
Academy 3 Garage Institute SWX Concorde 2 Camden Koko
Dec 2 Dec 3 Dec 4 Dec 6 Dec 7 Dec 8
SKID ROW Dublin Belfast Glasgow Inverness Newcastle Sheffield Pwllheli London Hull Manchester Cardiff Liverpool Coventry Norwich Bristol Brighton Nottingham
Academy Limelight ABC Iron Works Academy Corporation Hard Rock Hell Festival Shepherd’s Bush Empire Welly Academy 2 University Hanger 34 Kasbah Waterfront Academy Concorde 2 Rock City
Mar 2 Mar 3 Mar 5 Mar 6 Mar 7 Mar 9 Mar 10 Mar 11 Mar 12 Mar 14 Mar 15 Mar 16 Mar 17 Mar 19 Mar 20 Mar 21 Mar 22
King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut Lemon Tree Georgian Theatre Waterfront Empire Guildhall Glen Pavilion Picturedrome Academy Sub 89 Cheese & Grain Tramshed Academy Wedgewood Rooms Robin 2 Concorde 2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire
Jan 10, 11 Jan 12 Jan 18 Jan 19 Jan 20 Jan 21 Feb 9 Jun 1 Jun 2 Jun 7 Jun 8 Jun 9 Jun 16 Jun 27 Jun 28 Jun 29 Jun 30
THE SKIDS Glasgow Aberdeen Stockton-on-Tees Norwich Coventry Preston Dunfermline Holmfirth Manchester Reading Frome Cardiff Newcastle Portsmouth Bilston Brighton London
SKINDRED, CKY Norwich Southampton Nottingham Manchester Glasgow Bristol Leeds London Birmingham
UEA Guildhall Rock City Academy ABC Academy Academy Brixton Academy Institute
Apr 19 Apr 20 Apr 21 Apr 22 Apr 24 Apr 25 Apr 27 Apr 28 Apr 29
STATUS QUO Bournemouth Wolverhampton Glasgow Newcastle London
BIC Civic Hall Clyde Auditorium City Hall Hammersmith Apollo
Dec 2 Dec 3 Dec 5 Dec 6 Dec 8
Dublin Belfast Glasgow Manchester London
Academy Limelight Academy Apollo Hammersmith Apollo
Jan 18 Jan 19 Jan 20 Jan 24 Jan 26
STEREOPHONICS Aberdeen Glasgow Nottingham
AECC Arena The Hydro Motorpoint Arena
Feb 23 Feb 24 Feb 26
Oxford Street 100 Club
The Ritz ABC Institute Academy Academy Kentish Town Forum
Apr 15 Apr 16 Apr 17 Apr 19 Apr 20 Apr 21
THE WILDHEARTS (UNPLUGGED) York Sheffield Leeds Edinburgh Cardiff Exeter
IAN SIEGAL Nottingham Stourbridge Chichester London
he Hydro Jun 29 Echo Arena Jul 2 Arena Jul 3 Hyde Park British Summer Time Jul 6 Arena Jul 7
THE WHITE BUFFALO
Jan 16 Jan 19 Jan 20
SWX SWG3 The Tivoli Hammerfest Foundry Camden Koko
Dec 2 Dec 3
STAN WEBB’S CHICKEN SHACK London
SEPULTURA Bristol Glasgow Dublin Pwllheli Sheffield London
The Joint Festival
ROGER WATERS Glasgow Liverpool Manchester London Birmingham
SARI SCHORR & THE ENGINE ROOM London Skegness St Helens
Glasgow Newcastle Leeds Southampton Bristol London Nottingham
See below for dates, currently February 18 to March 9. Centre Genting Arena Wembley Arena BIC Motorpoint Arena Arena First Direct Arena Metro Radio Arena
Feb 27 Mar 1 Mar 2 Mar 5 Mar 6, 7 Mar 9 Mar 10 Mar 12
STONE BROKEN, JARED JAMES NICHOLS,
THE BAD FLOWERS Brighton London Manchester Glasgow Newcastle Nottingham Pontypridd Birmingham Sheffield Chester Bristol
The Haunt Islington Assembly Hall Club Academy G2 Riverside Rescue Rooms Muni Arts Centre Institute 2 Corporation Live Rooms Fleece & Firkin
Feb 22 Feb 24 Feb 25 Feb 26 Feb 28 Mar 1 Mar 2 Mar 3 Mar 4 Mar 6 Mar 7
STONE SOUR, THE PRETTY RECKLESS Brighton London Cardiff Glasgow
Centre Brixton Academy Motorpoint Arena The Hydro Dec 8
Dec 1 Dec 4, 6 Dec 5
THE STRANGLERS, THERAPY? Liverpool Glasgow Inverness Kilmarnock Nottingham Portsmouth Bristol Cardiff Birmingham Norwich Southend-on-Sea Leeds Lincoln London Guildford Reading Newcastle Cambridge Manchester
Academy Academy Ironworks Grand Hall Rock City Guildhall Academy Tramshed Academy Nick Rayns LCR Cliffs Pavilion Academy Engine Shed Brixton Academy G Live Hexagon Academy Corn Exchange Apollo
Mar 6 Mar 8 Mar 9 Mar 10 Mar 12 Mar 13 Mar 15 Mar 16 Mar 17 Mar 19 Mar 20 Mar 22 Mar 23 Mar 24 Mar 26 Mar 27 Mar 29 Mar 30 Mar 31
SWEET Chesterfield London Hull Holmfirth Bilson
Academy Pyramid Centre Rock City Kentish Town Forum
Mar 5 Mar 7 Mar 8 Mar 9
TESTAMENT, ANNIHILATOR, VADER Bristol Manchester Birmingham Dublin Glasgow London
Motion The Ritz Institute Vicar Street QMU Camden Koko
Mar 29 Mar 30 Mar 31 Apr 1 Apr 2 Apr 4
Islington Assembly Hall Rebellion The Assembly Audio Corporation Limelight Tivoli Bierkeller Institute
Feb 3 Feb 4 Feb 7 Feb 8 Feb 9 Feb 10 Feb 11 Feb 13 Feb 14
THERION London Manchester Aberdeen Glasgow Sheffield Belfast Dublin Bristol Birmingham
THIRTY SECONDS TO MARS Cardiff Manchester Glasgow London Birmingham
Motorpoint Arena Arena The Hydro O2 Arena Arena
Mar 23 Mar 24 Mar 25 Mar 27 Mar 29
Dec 15, 16
The Avenue Kensington Nell’s Jazz & Blues The Welly Picturedrome Robin 2
Dec 14 Dec 15 Dec 16 Dec 17 Dec 18
Academy Junction Institute Academy Winter’s End Festival The Ritz Grand Social Empire Music Hall Garage Barrowland Northumbria University
Feb 18 Feb 20 Feb 21 Feb 22 Feb 24 Feb 25 Feb 27 Feb 28 Mar 2 Mar 3 Mar 4
The Attic Riverside Key Club Joiners Arms Louisiana Tufnell Park Boston Arms Rock City
Dec 8 Dec 9 Dec 10 Dec 11 Dec 12 Dec 13 Dec 15
DAMIAN WILSON & ADAM WAKEMAN
Washington Kinross Kirton In Lindsey Wavendon Falmouth Penzance Tavistock London Sandwich Cardiff Solihull Lowdham Fletching Norwich Worcester Bath York Dumfries
Arts Centre Green Hotel Town Hall The Stables The Poly The Acorn The Wharf St Pancras Old Church St Mary’s Arts Centre Acapela Core Theatre St Mary’s Church Trading Boundaries Arts Centre Huntingdon Hall Chapel Arts Centre The Basement Theatre Royal
Feb 1 Feb 2 Feb 3 Feb 4 Feb 9 Feb 10 Feb 11 Feb 15 Feb 16 Feb 18 Feb 22 Feb 23 Feb 24 Feb 25 Mar 1 Mar 2 Mar 4 Mar 5
STEVEN WILSON Coventry Belfast Dublin Cardiff Birmingham Glasgow Gateshead London Manchester
Warwick Arts Centre Mandela Hall Olympia Theatre St David’s Hall Symphony Hall Clyde Auditorium The Sage Royal Albert Hall Bridgewater Hall
Mar 15 Mar 17 Mar 19 Mar 21 Mar 22 Mar 24 Mar 25 Mar 27-29 Mar 31, Apr 1
BERNIE TORME Trecco Bay Planet Rockstock Weston Super Mare The Bear Oxford The Bullingdon Folkestone Stripes Club
Dec 1 Dec 2 Dec 3 Dec 4
TOTO London Manchester Dublin Belfast Glasgow
Royal Albert Hall Bridgewater Hall Vicar Street Waterfront Auditorium SEC Armadillo
Apr 1 Apr 2 Apr 4 Apr 7 Apr 8
THE TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT Leeds Cambridge Birmingham Bristol Poole Manchester Dublin Belfast Aberdeen Glasgow Newcastle
Sheffield Portsmouth Nottingham London
Dec 11 Dec 12 Dec 13 Dec 14 Dec 18 Dec 19
The British blues-rockers uncork some of their 70%-proof tunes in the spring. In this case drink irresponsibly.
Brighton Birmingham London Bournemouth Cardiff Manchester Leeds Newcastle
Fulford Arms The Plug Brudenell Social Club Bannermans The Globe Cavern
STEVE ROTHERY, TOUCHSTONE, GHOST COMMUNITY, MORE London
Islington Assembly Hall
JOE LOUIS WALKER London
Oxford Street 100 Club
WARRIOR SOUL Reading
Cardiff London Birmingham Norwich Portsmouth Manchester Glasgow
Great Hall Kentish Town Forum Academy 2 Waterfront Wedgewood Rooms The Ritz Garage
Apr 13 Apr 14 Apr 15 Apr 18 Apr 19 Apr 20 Apr 21
WOLFSBANE Winchester Edinburgh Birmingham London Pontypool Bolton
The Railway Bannerman’s Asylum Islington Academy The Dragonfly Bar Metro Rocks
Dec 15 Dec 16 Dec 17 Dec 21 Dec 22 Dec 23
ROY WOOD’S ROCK ‘N’ ROLL BAND Bilston
VANDENBERG’S MOONKINGS London
YES Bristol Sheffield Glasgow Manchester Gateshead Birmingham Brighton Liverpool London
Colston Hall City Hall SEC Armadillo Bridgewater Hall The Sage Symphony Hall Centre Philharmonic Hall Palladium
Mar 13 Mar 14 Mar 16 Mar 17 Mar 18 Mar 20 Mar 21 Mar 23 Mar 24, 25
‘Feverishly devoted fans cheer every change of te mpo’
Marillion London Palladium Veteran proggers deliver careerspanning show. It was always going to be tough to beat Marillion’s October appearance at the Royal Albert Hall, which felt like a career culmination. But credit to them for maintaining what has been an incredible year or so, since the release of Fuck Everyone And Run (F E A R). Tonight is another high, with a grand sense of occasion. They come onstage to black and white footage of stars – Bruce Forsyth et al – from this venue’s esteemed, televised Sunday night slot, and although it’s a joke, of course, there is a sense in which Marillion are now part-beloved mainstream entertainers, part-cult attraction with feverishly devoted followers. The latter cheer every change of tempo as the band plunder their catalogue, from Fish-era classics (Market Square Heroes, Heart Of Lothian) to ecstatically received F E A R music (Living In F E A R, the five-part The Leavers and El Dorado), as they do Steve Hogarth’s every change of outfit: cool futuristic Matrix-style black coat one minute, billowing white blouson the next. Hogarth is the inevitable visual focus, moving from guitar to piano, posing with his MIDI-controller “cricket bat”, then ditching instruments to bound across the stage and bounce like Tigger, even climbing the speaker stacks. It’s a more scattershot show than the RAH one, but no less jubilant. There is grandeur and majesty, and Hogarth sitting crosslegged on the floor like the Kendal Buddha. “It’s been an amazing year,” he says, as though he can’t quite believe it himself. Top that, Marillion.
Steve Hogarth: “the inevitable visual focus”.
London 100 Club
Vivid return for fuzz-blues veterans.
One woman, one voice, one magical night.
A politically charged 40th anniversary.
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club have had to fight to stay in the ring, and yet a painfully assembled but accomplished eighth album, Wrong Creatures, celebrates a hard-earned twentieth anniversary in 2018. Where Jesus And Mary Chain comparisons were once too close for comfort, the San Francisco band’s graduation from a broader school of dissolute, sneering fuzz-rock is now clear. Tonight they’re more focused and distinct than they ever were in their commercial pomp. It’s Halloween, so a diaphanous ghost-flapper shimmers by with two pints during the Cowboy Junkies-esque country noir twang of new song Haunt. Robert Levon Been’s dissipated drawl stretches syllables out as if they’re crossing the Gobi desert, on a track which would fit a David Lynch film as much as his Eraserhead haircut. Been’s vocal insolence shows a classicist’s commitment to an attitude which also animates music based in the blues. Another new song, Question Of Faith, sees him pull abrasive peels from his guitar, screaming irritants to set against the velvet glove of Peter Hayes’ lulling voice. Drummer Leah Shapiro rolls as much as rocks, holding an initially ragged Six Barrel Shotgun together until it builds a fuzz-rock temple. The closing Punk Song actually holds to 60s R&B verities. BRMC held their ground when they could have folded, and this is the payoff.
There’s a sign outside Coventry cathedral which says, ‘This is a church, not a centre of entertainment’. Clearly nobody told Beth Hart, because she is very much an entertainer – albeit with genuine depth to her ebullience. There’s no band with her here. It’s just Hart with her remarkable voice, accompanying herself on piano, keyboards and guitar. She opens with a climactic rendering of Sam Cooke’s A Change Is Gonna Come and builds from there. Hart isn’t seeking perfection, but perception and through that a real self-awareness. But she consistently connects with her rapt audience, chatting to them as if at an intimate party. She isn’t afraid to lay herself bare, exuding an array of emotions. There are songs about the death of her sister (Sister Heroine), feelings about her mother (Mama This One’s For You), her brother’s ex-girlfriend (Get Your Shit Together), and fears of losing her husband (Picture In A Frame). This could easily have made for a maudlin and cloying gig, but her enduring sense of fun shines through, making for a mesmerising performance. She even finds time to pay homage to Tom Waits with a thunderingly convincing version of Chocolate Jesus. You get the feeling she is always drawing deep from her well of personal demons. Like Billie Holiday and Janis Joplin, Hart’s music is beautiful because it mirrors her vulnerability. A true artist.
The Tom Robinson Band’s debut album, Power In The Darkness, has lost little of its bite over the past four decades. The same is true of Robinson himself, who celebrates the album’s birthday with an anniversary tour, revising its contents from front to back with his current group and reflecting much of its now still-pertinent political content with updated lyrics. “For our next prime minister it seems we have a choice between a floppy-haired scary clown or the reincarnation of Mary Whitehouse in Jacob ReesMogg,” Tom seethes by way of introduction to Better Decide Which Side You’re On. Later, prefacing Power In The Darkness he lays into nurses living off food banks and the potentially deadly atomic “pissing contest” between Trump and Kim Jong-un, though wrapping an equally irate monologue before Glad To Be Gay, the bassist/vocalist’s shrug of “let’s just remember how far we’ve come in forty years” is bittersweet. Robinson’s troupe are significantly more polished than the Tom Robinson Band and the latter’s acidic bite is missed, but while the angst has been sucked out of these tunes the crowd care little and on the final night (of three) at the 100 Club a cameo from TRB’s guitarist Danny Kustow on 2-4-6-8 Motorway and Don’t Take No For An Answer sends them home in the knowledge they’ve seen something rather special.
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Donald Fagan: jazzing the BluesFest.
‘Donald Fagen is ho god, greeted like a bo is.’ which he sort of
Steely Dan / The Doobie Brothers London O2 Arena Both of them might fit the term ‘blues’ like a very loose glove, but the music greats’ appearance at BluesFest is a crowd-pleasing triumph. Barely two months after the death of founder member Walter Becker, Donald Fagen, now the only remaining founder member, brings Steely Dan to the capital – to an exultant reception. They’ve titled this union of 70s/80s superstars BluesFest, but with Chic, Hall & Oates and Steely Dan headlining over three days it probably should have been called Polished Studio ConfectionFest. If this is blues, it’s of the most sublimated kind. Of the three, the Doobie Brothers, supporting Steely Dan on the Sunday night, have the closest connection to the blues, even if it is hybridised: folk blues, country blues, rhythm ’n’ blues blues. This lineup’s connection to the Doobie Brothers is similarly partial, singer-guitarists Patrick Simmons and Tom Johnston being the only original members, alongside
the slighter later-arriving multi-instrumentalist John McFee, although Little Feat’s keyboard player Bill Payne, who played on many classic Doobies albums, is also with them. Simmons’s wispy, long silvery hair and stetson, and Johnston’s moustache enhance the authentic period feel, and by set opener Jesus Is Just Alright With Me, any fears that we were going to get an ersatz Doobies are dispelled. All harmonies and mellifluous groove, this early-Doobies take on the gospel standard is like the Eagles with added funk, while the searing guitar solo breaks the soft-rock mood. They even manage to make the lyric ‘I don’t care what they may say’ sound like a defiant credo. Take Me in Your Arms (Rock Me A Little While), with its chicken-scratch guitar, shows these old cowboys
are on the one. The audience – curiously quite young – are enraptured, and at the climax to Clear As The Driven Snow Simmons feels sufficiently galvanised to do a scissor-kick. Takin’ It To The Street, China Grove and Long Train Runnin’, one of their ‘biggies’, bring it, as they say, on home, and the even bigger Listen To The Music provides the inevitable encore. “Keep rockin’, people. Don’t ever stop!” urges Johnston. It’s a simple plea, one that confirms the strangeness of this double-bill: the unreconstructed down-home boogie boys, warming up the audience for the cool purveyors of highbrow jazz-rock.
omehow, however, the pairing works (and, lest we forget, the two bands did share guitarist Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter). And when Donald Fagen strolls on stage looking like a dishevelled lecturer, he’s greeted like a boho god, which he sort of is. He deals with the recent death, in September, of Walter Becker, the other half of this band for almost 50 years, with the laconic lack of sentiment you would wish for. “We are the Steely Dan organisation,” he declares. “We are a little different from what
An expansive Steely Dan: delivering complex arrangements effortlessly.
swaying at his keyboard and generally comporting himself like the reincarnation of Ray Charles. “This is very satisfying,” he tells us, treating this giant aircraft hangar of a venue like a supper club. He seems at ease with his discomfort, occasionally standing to play a melodica. The setlist leans heavily towards the etiolated jazz-rock of Aja and the supine disco of Gaucho, and there are glaring omissions – nothing from Pretzel Logic, no Do It Again or Haitian Divorce – but there are so many sublime moments that it would be churlish to snark. Black Cow limps exquisitely. Hey Nineteen seems The Doobie Brothers’ uncomfortably apposite, post-Harvey Tom Johnston and John Weinstein. Aja is the jazzy apex of the McFee: all harmonies and Dan’s ambition – from the height of punk, mellifluous grooves. no less – and it’s to the band’s credit that they make it work in this far from intimate space. suggests, it always was. The question But that’s true of the whole set, and testament is also begged: who were/are Steely to Becker and Fagen’s songwriting genius: complex Dan? The musicians who made those arrangements are delivered effortlessly, oblique immaculate albums? Can the Dan exist lyrics become crowd-pleasing chants. Even Dan without Becker, or are they, like the jazz obsessives struggle to decipher the meanings of bands Don and Walter always loved, their songs, but that doesn’t stop tens of thousands designed to outlive their masters? of us singing along lustily with ‘Is there gas in the car? They could do a lot worse than the Yes there’s gas in the car’, from Kid Charlemagne and dozen members of ‘Guadalajara won’t do’ from My the SDO here tonight, Old School. Dirty Work is a rare including horn players, early bittersweet reverie, sung by and three backing the Danettes. Peg, like so much singers known of the Dan catalogue, is so full as the Danettes. of sample-worthy hooks it could Among those given keep hip-hoppers in business for the unenviable task decades. Black Friday makes some of recreating Steely concessions towards bluesiness. Purple haze: Pat Dan’s unimpeachable Kid Charlemagne closes the set, Simmons peels of some recordings are but not even legions of seen-it-all classic Doobies licks. guitarist Jon Herington, who throughout intelligentsia like the assembled are above baying elaborates on the solos of previous for more, especially when we haven’t heard Reelin’ guitarists including Denny Dias, Larry Carlton and In The Years yet. That, featuring an insane feat of we were a few months ago, but I gotta live with Elliott Randall with intricacy and invention to spare, percussive pyrotechnics from Carlock, is the encore. that.” He doesn’t need to mention the unoccupied and drummer Keith Carlock, who executes the Fagen wishes he could have played for longer than microphone stand, positioned poignantly centrebreathtaking extemporisation during Aja with élan. the allotted 90 minutes but, sadly, that’s all, folks. stage. Instead the band launch into the pristine As for Fagen, there’s no curbing his enthusiasm, Still, he and his Organisation turned what could bebop pop of the up-tempo Bodhisattva, which is all even now that his compadre is gone. He appears to the tribute anyone needs. have been an evening of enervated fusioneering be in his element, scatting, singing out of the side of The future of Steely Dan, without Becker, with refracted through a prism of nostalgia into a joyous his mouth, all the better to spill out those syllables Trump, may be uncertain, but then, as New Frontier celebration. Very, very satisfying. and syllogisms. He is aware of his limitations but – from Fagen’s The Nightfly, his only solo song played uses his idiosyncratic voice to expressive effect, Words: Paul Lester Photos: Kevin Nixon tonight, which explores love in the nuclear age –
‘Not even legions of seen-it-all intelligentsia are above baying for more.’
‘Wishbone Ash play a slickly ex ecuted, full-on roc k show.’
Andy Powell: “I’ll not get into a pissing contest.”
Wishbone Ash London Islington Academy
Martin Turner Ex-Wishbone Ash London 100 Club Two versions of Ash, each led by a founder member, play in London in the same week, but they’re more likely to share a punch than a pint. Although it’s also charged with some louder, harder, rockier moments, the music of Wishbone Ash is by and large crystalline and serene, channelling the tranquillity of their song Leaf And Stream from their 1972 watershed album Argus. How ironic, then, that following an ugly court case over the ownership of the band name, two rival acts have spent the last few years vying for the attention of the same fans – followers who appear every bit as partisan as the warring musicians themselves. Battle lines have been drawn on stage and off, and ne’er the twain shall meet. Since 2013, when guitarist Andy Powell legally prevented Martin Turner from touring as Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash, the original Ash bass player/ vocalist has been forced to bill himself as Martin Turner Ex-Wishbone Ash. In the dock for legal challenge, Powell – Wishbone Ash’s only constant member since the band’s formation in 1969 – found himself up against not only Turner but also the other co-founders: drummer Steve Upton and guitarist Ted Turner, plus Laurie Wisefield who was their guitarist from 1974 to 1985), yet still emerged the victor. A toxic fallout saw the pair bait one another via their respective blogs, yet somehow they have found a way to co-exist on the touring circuit. This is largely because both incarnations have very different agendas. A firm believer in the value of new music, Powell has released five Wishbone Ash albums in the current millennium. In contrast, Turner released the all-original Written In The Stars in 2015 but by and large he sticks to the Ash classics, even taking the potentially heretical step of re-recording Argus in 2008 as Argus Through The Looking Glass. With the Powell-led Wishbone Ash and Turner’s group both due to perform shows in London just a few days apart, it seemed opportune to compare their performances and gather a few choice words from protagonists and fans from each side of the divide.
n the praising of Wishbone Ash’s pioneering use of twin lead guitars in rock in the early 70s, Martin Turner’s contribution is sometimes lost. The way his bass playing counterbalanced the playing of Powell and Ted Turner (and later Wisefield) was every bit as important to the band’s signature sound. Seated in the dressing room before tonight’s gig at the 100 Club, Turner professes comfort with his band’s path. Following the release of Written In The Stars they performed the album from beginning to end but have gradually played less of it, and the title track is its sole representative in tonight’s set-list. “I don’t feel creatively stifled – I wasn’t even sure that people
At 70, Martin Turner’s voice is still one of quality.
wanted to hear a new album from me,” he admits. “Most of those that come to see us love the old Wishbone Ash stuff. I had to be persuaded to give it a crack.” On their 2018 tour, Turner and company are revisiting Wishbone’s fifth album, 1974’s There’s The Rub, and social media suggests that tonight could be the last time that the classic Argus will be performed in its entirety in London. That Martin suggestion causes Turner to scoff in amusement, however. “It’s the album’s fiftieth anniversary in five years,” he says. “We’ll probably dust if off again.” At 70, Turner’s voice might now crack a little in the higher registers but it remains one of quality. He
admits that “singing songs that you wrote at twentytwo, getting up to those crazy notes, can be difficult – your testicles are in a completely different position – but there’s always a way.” These days he has his bass tuned down from E to E-Flat. Understandably, Turner is cautious about addressing the differences between his group and the Powell-led Wishbone Ash. “[Attempting to recreate] my unorthodox bass style is probably quite a big Turner problem for Andy,” he suggests. “His gigs are very loud, and the other issue is his voice – getting inside the lyrics, really living, feeling and breathing them. I don’t think he can do it.” Powell’s singing has certainly improved down the years, though.
“After the court case, there’s still a lot of bad blood.”
‘Martin Tu rner’s band hold the audience sp ellbound
Wearing what looks like a pair of pyjamas, Turner doesn’t take himself at all seriously.
Turner puts his feet up backstage before the gig.
“I’m not here to show off how great I am, it’s all about entertainment.” Martin Turner
“Immensely so,” Turner says in agreement. “He’s had some tuition. But it still sounds a little… insincere. There’s a lack of emotion and melody.” The fact that all five members of the first two lineups have assisted in the preparation of a massive 30-disc boxed set, Wishbone Ash: The Vintage Years 1970–1991 (released next spring) may have raised some fans’ hopes of hatchets being buried and a reunion of some kind, but according to Turner that’s out of the question? “I think so, yeah,” he says bluntly. “After the court case, when you’ve had to move into rented accommodation from a house worth a million pounds, there’s still a lot of bad blood. I know that Steve Upton [original Ash drummer] would find it hard to stand in a room with Mister Powell. And he has been [medically] advised not to play the drums any more. Even for a million dollars, he ain’t gonna do it. And there could be no reunion without Steve.” Curiously, the “bad blood” between the two
factions also seems to extend to the fans. Out in the audience, Classic Rock canvases at least 10 followers of Turner’s band, and none have anything remotely good to say about the current official Wishbone Ash. One who has seen seen said he found them “too harsh and lacking the necessary subtleties necessary for Wishbone Ash”. Another says though gritted teeth: “Even if they [Powell’s line-up] played in my home town I wouldn’t go.” Most of those we asked, however, are unwilling to say anything on the record.
here’s absolutely no doubt that Martin Turner Ex-Wishbone Ash, as they are billed, are by far the more melodic of the two. Tonight, with Ash’s original sound man Mark Emery manning the mixing desk, over two and half hours of amazing audio quality the band hold the audience spellbound. Error Of My Ways, from 1970’s Wishbone Ash debut, sees guitarists Danny Willson and the Serbian Misha Nikolic weave their guitar parts seamlessly, and the sedate, mesmeric intro to FUBB, an instrumental epic that first appeared on There’s The Rub, is quite beautiful. Wearing what looks worrying like a pair of pyjamas and a military tunic, Turner doesn’t take himself at
all seriously, and his song introductions are peppered with the usual silly jokes and self-deprecating wit. Back in the summer, during their performance of Argus at the Ramblin’ Man Fair the band caused much merriment by dropping a chorus of Monty Python’s The Lumberjack Song into the genteel Warrior. One would suspect that Powell might not have approved. In the dressing room earlier, Turner said: “I’m not here to show off how great I am, it’s all about entertainment. When people pay to come to a gig they’re supposed to have fun.” And tonight they do. “We’re here for one particular album, so shall we play Locked In?” Turner jokingly announces mid-set, referring to the sole genuine dud album from the classic-era Wishbone canon – a record so inferior, in fact, that it caused both Powell and Turner to fear that their careers were over. Argus (voted the best album of 1972 by readers of both Sounds and Melody Maker, ahead of Machine Head by Deep Purple, Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust, Thick As A Brick by Jethro Tull and more great albums from that year) really is one of those records that can almost be considered flawless, and Turner displays his instrumental abilities with some stunning aggressive playing during one of the album’s high points, Sometime World. Although his voice becomes a bit craggy towards the end of tonight’s set, neither band nor audience
The partnership of Powell and Mark Abrahams really clicks on Phoenix. The
Powell’s version of FUBB has far more grunt and more groove than Turner’s.
wants things to come to an end and Turner repeatedly shouts out “One more song!” before they play Blind Eye, Living Proof, Doctor and Jail Bait. Quite clearly, Powell’s Wishbone Ash will have to be on top form to surpass this performance.
ive nights later, across London at the Islington Academy, they give it a very fair shot. However, despite early indications from Powell that participation in this feature “sounds like a [good] opportunity”, he eventually cites “strong professional advice” for his decision not to be interviewed. Instead he sends a text sent to Classic Rock that states: “I’ll not get into a pissing contest. All I’ll say for your story is that Wishbone Ash has truly been one of the greatest loves of my life.” As we did at Turner’s gig, again we try to get the views of some members of Powell and co’s audience. Asked whether he might be a fan of both Powell and Turner, one guy glares and says simply: “I’m a fan of Andy – just Andy” and struts into the venue. Another, Richard, from Purley in Surrey, a follower since Ash’s formative days, says: “I saw Martin when he first returned to music [in 2004], and although his two guitarists were good, for me they didn’t quite cut it. Andy’s band has stronger guitar players but Martin is the better singer.” Gary Smith from London reckons: “Both bands are good value live acts. The problem is that nothing Powell or Turner have done since can really hold a candle to the first three, maybe four, Wishbone Ash albums. Powell’s band is slightly tighter musically, but Mart has more stage presence and his gigs are much more fun to attend.” Which pretty much hits the nail on the head. The Academy is larger than the 100 Club, and it’s
Wishbone Ash: doing the talking on stage rather than off it.
reasonably full, and Wishbone Ash have an expensive light show and plenty of smoke. It’s a slickly executed, full-on rock show, and once again the sound quality is excellent. If kicking off with Bona Fide and Eyes Wide Open, from 2002 and ’06 respectively, implies selfconfidence, then factor in that the former is an instrumental. More recent still is Way Down South, which features a great solo from Powell. Just as you might think he’s trying to make a point, they visit Argus for The King Will Come, with the relatively new guitarist Mark Abrahams receiving warm applause for his playing. It’s worth pointing out that Powell’s band have also performed Argus in its entirety in the past. The nostalgic mood continues with Warrior, Throw Down The Sword in which Powell really shows his quality and a sublime unplugged rendition of Leaf And Stream. The acoustic section also includes Master Of Disguise, an excellent song written by Powell for 1980’s Just Testing, and Wings Of Desire, from a late80s/early-90s reunion of the classic line-up for Strange Affair.
Powell’s version of FUBB has far more grunt and more groove than Turner’s, and the pop-rock nugget that follows it, Standin’ In The Rain, is proof that not all of the best Wishbone songs were recorded in the 70s. The partnership of Powell and Abrahams really clicks on Phoenix, a song that can rightly be viewed as Wishbone Ash’s Stairway To Heaven, Paranoid or Smoke On The Water. Its 13 minutes of light and shade tell you almost everything you need to know of what this very often underrated band is about. After less than two hours, a well-deserved encore of Blowin’ Free – one of just seven songs performed by both bands at their respective gigs this week – brings things to a close. Martin Turner Ex-Wishbone Ash and the current Wishbone Ash each have their plus and minus points, their fans and their detractors. It really is a great shame that there is no possibility of the two band leaders ever setting foot on a stage together. And also that the two rival groups of followers can’t cease their bitching and enjoy both bands.
‘The bad blood between the two factions seems to extend to the fans.’
Words: Dave Ling Photos Kevin Nixon
Metallica London O2 Arena The metal titans box clever in front of record-breaking crowds. It’s difficult to tell how many giant illuminated boxes are dangling from the roof high above Metallica’s heads, because they keep moving around. But at a rough guess, there are well upwards of 40 of the things executing a weird futuristic ballet over the diamondshaped stage in the middle of this cavernous enormodrome. Not for these one-time thrash pioneers anything so trivial as a giant video screen on their current WorldWired Tour. As befits the electronic connotations of the name – and that of last year’s Hardwired… To Self Destruct album – they’ve gone the full Dixons, raiding the luxury white goods section and using it as fragmented digital canvas-come-art installation on which to project an cortex-scorching array of images from their 36-year career and beyond. So far, so Metallica. Even their most ardent critics, of which there seem to be many more these days than there ever were during the 80s and 90s, can’t deny their dedication to spectacle. Whether it’s the disintegrating ‘Doris’ statue of the …And Justice For All tour, the groundbreaking Snake Pit of the early 90s or the still-incredible collapsing Load-era stage, the San Franciscans have always refreshed the audio-visual parts other bands can’t reach. There have been grumbles. Standing tickets for this show weigh in at £85, not including booking fee, significantly more than the equivalent for Iron Maiden’s show at this same venue earlier this year (the cheapest seated tickets are a less wallet-bludegoning £50). “£96!!! each at The London O2 to stand… they can hardwire that up their a** at that price and Self Destruct. Their [sic] ripping off the very people that put them where they are in the first place,” wrote ‘GDT’ on the website of Classic Rock’s sister magazine Metal Hammer. ‘Pete’ was even more direct: “F**k that off. Money grabbing tw@s!!!!” “Really?” says bassist Rob Trujillo, smiling politely though seemingly surprised at the news. “To be honest I don’t even know how much the tickets are.”
t’s a couple of hours before the show, and we’re sitting in the backstage jam room that Metallica set up at every venue in order to warm-up, rehearse and, occasionally, work on new material. It’s little more than a curtained-off area festooned with Metallica-related memorabilia from around the world. Kirk Hammett and Lars Ulrich are drifting around outside, though there’s no sign of James Hetfield. In front of Trujillo is an iPad showing an image of Iron Maiden’s debut album on its screen. Just a few minutes earlier, he was jamming along with the classic Maiden track Phantom Of The Opera, for reasons that will become clear later. Despite the disgruntlement from sections of the Metallica crowd over ticket prices, tonight’s show is sold out, as was a the previous gig at this venue two days earlier. Both have broken attendance records for this venue – the in-the-square staging ensures that capacity is raised by a few thousand, taking it up 22,000 per night. For every fan who is unhappy at ticket prices, there are tens, or maybe hundreds, who aren’t. “Well, like you said it’s sold out,” says Trujillo, “so then obviously people came up with the money. Back in the day, when I was going to concerts, I was doing a similar thing – obviously it was a different price. But in this day and age, with tour costs and production values… we have extreme production values. I know for a fact that Metallica is an incredibly fair band, in that we’re not going to try and rip a fan off. It would never happen with us. These are hard-working people who obviously appreciate live music. And that’s extremely important. Especially at a time when live music is what it is.” You sense that he geniunely cares, maybe because he feels even more obliged to defend the band he joined in 2003 than Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield, the men who founded it 36 years ago. Just as his predecessor, Jason Newsted, was eternally tarred with the
‘This is hea vy metal show biz on a vast sc ale.’
Hetfield gets distracted by his own stage set…
…so Rob Trujillo tries out a more low-key version.
You want drum licks, Lars’s got ‘em.
Hetfield and Hammett: having a frashback.
Battery! The four-man drum-off begins.
‘New Kid’ sobriquet, so Trujillo is viewed as Metallica’s of visual VFM, it wipes the floor with their old sparring junior member – hardly fair, when you consider his partners Guns N’ Roses – this makes the Gunners’ Not CV includes stints with Ozzy Osbourne, Black Label In This Lifetime stage set look like a Tuesday evening Society and Suicidal Tendencies, while he’s arguably am-dram performance. the best musician in his current band. Those 40-odd boxes are the undoubted stars of the “When I joined 14 years ago, touring with Metallica show, more than the band members. During barrelwas very complicated because I was immersed in chested opener Hardwired, they look like gigantic learning the songs,” he says. “For the first two years, industrial TV sets, all stark greys and whites. The everI was just trying to catch up. I always felt like I was electrifying For Whom The Bell Tolls is accompanied by behind in the learning fractured, hallucinatory process. They had such images of illustrated a massive catalogue of Pushead skulls raining music. I’d find myself from the rafters, while constantly putting together One – historically the most cheat sheets, because visually arresting song in there were so many Metallica’s set – comes curveballs and surprises.” with a gallery of WWI A decade and a half soldiers, who presumably later, he says that Metallica later died in battle. It’s Rob Trujillo has become deeply dazzling on multiple levels. ingrained in his DNA. “Every tour is a fresh universe, Naturally, the new songs get a decent amount even though you’ve been here before,” he says. “It’s of airtime. Hardwired…To Self-Destruct has held its like a rocket ship that takes off – you’re on board, but own in the year since it was released, even if any you’re not necessarily in control.” latter-day Metallica album is going to stand in the The rocket ship analogy is fitting. The Hardwired shadows of those groundbreaking early records. show looks like it’s had something approaching Tonight, they give seven out of its 12 songs a runNASA’s annual budget thrown at it. For anyone out. Atlas Rise!, Halo On Fire and Moth To A Flame who has stumped up the money, this is one hell of (the latter accompanied by a swarm of illuminated a sensory extravaganza, even by Metallica’s lofty miniature drones buzzing above the stage like fireflies) standards. Granted, it’s unlikely to pacify the fans who are muscular and seething, while the frantic Spit Out kicked up a fuss about the cost, but if Metallica’s ticket The Bone – aired live for the very first time – stands prices have pushed them into the same bracket as U2 shoulder-to-shoulder with imperial period Metallica or Springsteen, then at least they’re matching those album closers Damage Inc and Dyer’s Eve. Let’s hope acts in terms of sheer hard cash up onstage. In terms the band have more long-term faith in them than
“We have extreme production values. We are not going to rip a fan off.”
their counterparts from Death Magnetic and St Anger, which are completely ignored tonight. But they also highlight a problem that’s not unique to Metallica. With the best will in the world, those new songs aren’t as good as the old songs. And while those old songs – Master Of Puppets, Seek And Destroy, Fade To Black, Creeping Death – are stonecold classics one and all, over-familiarity is starting to dilute their impact. It’s not just that they’ve played them all literally thousands of times over the years, it’s that there are so many versions – official or otherwise – to see or hear online that they don’t feel special anymore. Part of the problem is the band’s decreasing work rate. Three albums in 20 years is a fairly poor return, especially compared to many of their 80s peers, leaving them with a diminished pool of songs to draw from. Still, you’d have hoped they’d have dug deeper into the back catalogue and pulled out an Outlaw Torn, Low Man’s Lyric or even Some Kind Of Monster (they appear to have scrubbed anything recorded between 1991 and 2016 from the setlist). In this context, it’s refreshing to hear Leper Messiah four songs in – a B-list track on album, but a breath of fresh air here – or Frayed Ends Of Sanity mashed up with Enter Sandman (the same can’t be said for the ever dreadful Sad But True, a turgid Monkey’s Paw of a song that they refuse to shake off).
etallica couldn’t play a bad show if their lives depended on it, but there are flashes of undeniable badness tonight. Now That We’re Dead incorporates a four-man percussive barrage featuring each member battering away on individual
Going the full Dixons…
While Motörhead had Bomber, James has a more civilised bombilla.
…and then adding fire.
drums that sounds far cooler on paper than it is in reality (how many bands can say they have four drummers who play out of time?), while Trujillo and Kirk Hammett’s half-baked instrumental jam on Iron Maiden’s Phantom Of The Opera (the pre-show iPad!) and Motörhead’s Ace Of Spades hovers somewhere between pointless and embarrassing. More alarming is James Hetfield’s transformation from Alpha Male of modern metal into Embarrassing Dad, at least if his creaking stage patter is anything to go by. While the frontman’s numerous shout-outs to the “Metallica family” are fair enough, if overegged, his two-minute conversation with a pregnant audience member before Sad But True comes across like Bruce Forsyth in a leather waistcoat. Didn’t he do well? No, he bleedin’ well didn’t. Of course, expecting piss, vinegar and 110% proof vodka to still be flowing through their veins after all this time is foolish. The Metallica of 2017 are an entertainment behemoth, pure and simple. They might not break down musical barriers any more – they’re one of the few bands who can truly say “been there, done that, sold the T-shirt for thirty quid” – but they offer heavy metal showbiz on a vast scale instead. For all the hoo-hah over inflated ticket costs, the fact remains that a world with Metallica in it is better than one without. Rewind a few hours earlier in the jam room, and Rob Trujillo is considered the future of a band who, individually, are passing comfortably through middle age. Thrash metal was a young man’s game all those years ago, and while Metallica have long since transcended their roots, the question remains whether there will still be dignity in cranking out
Creeping Death and Seek And Destroy when they inevitably reach pensionable age. “I try not to put an expiration date on this,” he says. “I learned from my elders, a lot of the jazz musicians who are still going out there and doing this. It’s only when you see someone in bad health, or even passing on, that you start thinking about it. But even then, I think we’re very blessed. We still care about what we do. Me and James are jamming on some original ideas. We’re just grooving right now, messing about on a couple of things. A lot of it happens in this room right here.” It was eight years between Death Magnetic and Hardwired… To Self-Destruct. Will it be eight years before the next Metallica album? You’ll be in your early 60s by then… “Well, it wasn’t as if we were doing nothing during those eight years. We made Through The Never, we did an album with Lou Reed, we toured. But no, it won’t take that long.” If we were betting men, should we put 50 quid on it coming out before 2020? (Laughing) “Well, I don’t know about that. But it won’t take eight years.” Whenever a new album does eventually emerge, it’s a safe bet that they’ll once again up the stakes on the tour that accompanies it. Trujillo’s assertion that Metallica treat their fans fairly holds water – you don’t become one of the biggest bands in the world and stay there without offering a maximal experience on every level. And even the cynics and refuseniks can’t argue that they don’t do that. Words: Dave Everley Photos: Ross Halfin
Heavy Load Heavy questions for heavy rockers
Singer Beth Hart on her troubled childhood, insecurity, singing with Jeff Beck, death and the “miracle” of life. Interview: Nick Hasted
eth Hart began singing blues, jazz and soul in South Central LA clubs when she was 15. Her childhood was traumatised by a violent robbery at her family home, which triggered a bipolar condition and drink and drug addictions. But with the help of loyal husband Scott Guetzkow and collaborators including Joe Bonamassa, Jeff Beck and Slash, she has carved out a formidable blues career. At 45, her addictions and illness are in remission, and age has lent her perspective. “I’ve come full circle to when I was a really little girl,” she tells Classic Rock. “I have some of that original innocence again.”
but you can see the sky. And I did a Mariachi Mexican skeleton playing a violin the other day, with cactuses and bougainvillea. You sang with Jeff Beck in front of President Obama at the Kennedy Center Honors for Buddy Guy in 2012. How did that feel? You know the most amazing thing about it all, man? I walked out there and I felt so at home, like I belonged, and I felt so proud and thankful. And I could see Aretha Franklin, and I could see Led Zeppelin, and I saw Yo-Yo Ma, who I’d been the biggest fan of when I was a cellist as a little girl. And I’m so thankful that I wasn’t nervous, because I never missed any of it. Where do you stand politically? I’m not real schooled in politics. But when I go to Europe, what I notice is that people tend to get along, and have more manners. They don’t have guns everywhere, and not anyone can get on every single drug they want from their doctor. I adore my country, because it’s where I’m from and it’s really beautiful, but we’re basically teenagers on drugs with guns. So I feel like, give us a break, and hopefully we’ll evolve.
Do you believe in God? Oh yeah. For example, I’m working on my newest solo record, and usually when I’m at my most creative is when my confidence is at its worst. And when I’m really doubtful of myself, I gravitate to God. Because if my faith can’t be in me, then it can be in him. Whereas when I’m feeling confident, it’s like: “‘Yeah, thanks, God. I’m having a great day. I’ll take it from here.”
What’s the meaning of life? I think we’re here to love and create and enjoy and be grateful and just smell and breathe in the oxygen and be aware of the moment. It’s not so important to do, do, do; it’s already been done. The Earth is here, the universe is here. And it would be nice if we could just enjoy it a bit more. It really is all a miracle.
Do you get stage fright? I get world fright. Going to the market or buying clothes, or anywhere, my husband’s got to go with me. One of the things that makes me so anxious is that I think people are thinking I’m weird, or not right. I’ve had that since I was a kid. When I’m on stage and my mind is doing well it’s a safe environment, and I feel really good up there. Is there a time on a drug that you’re grateful for? There were some times when it was just a party, you’d numb yourself out and you’d have fun. When I was really, really young I’d take off at the weekends. I’d dress in my mom’s clothes and I’d use my older sister Susan’s ID, and go out to bars and try to hook up with guys – and I was only eleven, twelve years old. I don’t know how much fun I was having. I was looking for love so bad. When I look back on it now, the only time I was having fun was when I wasn’t using drugs and alcohol and I was making music and I was focused and disciplined. When I would paint, that would be fun. When I would go to Lake Tahoe with my best friend Ron, that would be fun. But the drugs I took are so evil. It steals your soul. Especially if you have mental health issues.
On Good Day To Cry you sing: ‘It’s a good day to die.’ How would you like to go? My husband’s eleven years older than me, and my manager’s twenty-two years older, and I don’t want to live without them, and I don’t want them to be hurt if I die. So I want us all to die at the same time, one night in our sleep, when we’ve all hung out and played cards, and we’re really, really old. But I have to say I don’t believe in death at all. And I don’t believe in heaven either – that sounds very boring. I think that we just change form. So I like the idea of, when I die, maybe I’m a gust of wind, that rolls through some child’s hair that’s playing on the beach. Maybe there’s a soul in every possible thing, and maybe we get to be that forever. That’s my idea of heaven.
“I adore my country, but we’re basically teenagers on drugs with guns.”
Beth Hart plays the U K and Ireland from April 10.
What do you paint? I actually painted a really large piece yesterday. It’s a picture of a little street in Nice, late at night, and it’s lit up gold from the lampposts, and it’s old and the buildings kind of turn in on themselves, like they’re making a bridge over you,
What would you like to be written on your tombstone? No tombstone. I want a big old ditch, because I definitely want to be buried, I do not want to be burned. Throw me in with no box, no sheet. I want all the little animals to eat my flesh up, because I won’t be there.
Published on Dec 2, 2017