SPECIAL COLLECTOR’S EDITION
“The war is over. We won”
GOING OUT ON TOP OF THE WORLD
MAY 2019 ISSUE 261
26 Kiss We join Gene, Paul, Tommy and Eric on their private jet as they begin their final tour.
Features 26 Kiss After nearly 50 years, a brace of classic records, enough explosives to start a war and more make-up than a Boots warehouse, they’re calling it a day. We join the Gods Of Thunder on their private jet as they begin their farewell tour.
38 Mark Knopfler He’s one of the world’s most successful musicians, but most people wouldn’t recognise the Dire Straits founder in the street or on the London Underground. And he likes it that way.
44 Eric Gales & Dave Navvaro Classic Rock sits down with the two guitarists and meets “two junkies of the worst kind”.
50 Genesis Steve Hackett, Mike Rutherford, Tony Banks, Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel recall the making of a prog classic: Foxtrot.
56 Joyous Wolf Looking for a Next Big Thing to get behind before everyone else does? Meet the band that are all-guns-blazing proof that proper shit-kicking rock’n’roll lives on.
58 Game Changers The 21 albums that changed the way we play guitar, starring Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix Experience, Oasis, Black Sabbath, Nirvana, White Stripes and more.
64 Lee Kerslake Knowing that he is living on borrowed time, the former Ozzy and Uriah Heep drummer looks back at a life filled with of highs and lows, friendships, fallouts and reconciliations.
70 Tedeschi Trucks Band They’re led by arguably the best slide guitarist of his generation and a singer who oozes sweet soul, and their ‘old-fashioned’ values are a vital element of their success.
72 Yngwie Malmsteen
CAMERA PRESS / LYNN GOLDSMITH
The Swedish speed demon has enthralled and infuriated in equal measure since the 80s. Now he’s made… a blues album.
MAY 2019 ISSUE 261
10 The Dirt
Two new exhibitions put Andy Warhol’s Factory and new artists’ images in the frame; muscle disease forces Peter Frampton to retire; Graham Bonnett putting Alcatrazz back together for a new album… Welcome back Rosy Vista, Overkill and Rodrigo y Gabriela… Say hello to Spielbergs and Hollowstar… Say goodbye to Mark Hollis, Peter Tork, Stephan Ellis, Paul Williams, Andy Anderson…
Eric Gales & Dave Navaro
20 The Stories Behind The Songs The Darkness
“He’s basically a black Dave Navarro and I’m basically a white Eric Gales.”
Justin Hawkins looks back at the making of Love Is Only A Feeling, a “power ballad for the age”.
22 Q&A Josh Todd
The Buckcherry frontman on addiction, getting sober, tattoos and the death of rock radio.
24 Six Things You Need To Know About… Lovehoney
Get to know the Brooklyn four-piece making “sexy, heavy rock’n’roll” with soul.
New albums from Devin Townsend, Robin Trower, Don Felder, Suzi Quatro, Godfathers, Yngwie Malmsteen, Peter Hammill, Terrorvision… Reissues from Keith Richards, Iron Maiden, David Bowie, Mötley Crüe, Humble Pie, Taj Mahal… DVDs, films and books on Kurt Cobain, Journey, Foreigner, Agnostic Front, Toto, Damo Suzuki… Live reviews of The Struts, Slash, Wilko Johnson, Blue Öyster Cult, Steely Dan…
96 Buyer’s Guide Anthrax
Which records to stage-dive into first from the New York thrash legends.
101 Live Previews
Must-see gigs from Todd Rundgren, Steve Harley Acoustic Trio, Airrace, Dropkick Murphys and Monster Truck. Plus full gig listings – find out who’s playing where and when.
122 The Soundtrack Of My Life Geddy Lee
The Rush frontman talks about the records, artists and gigs that are of lasting significance to him.
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utspoken. Larger than life. Aliens from another planet. Grown men in make-up (who probably should know better, but we’re glad they don’t). These are just a few things that have been levelled against Kiss over their nearly five-decade career. And although once upon a time there was talk of Gene, Paul and company licensing their make-up, outfits and stage show so ‘Kiss’ could go on touring forever, it seems now that that was just talk. So yes, although we thought the day would never come, Kiss are calling time on their career. But they’re doing it in their own over-the-top, largerthan-life, fire-breathing style (of course they are). The band announced their final End Of The Road world tour last year, and it reaches the UK this summer. To celebrate (commiserate? honour?) the closing of this chapter of rock history, we sent longtime Kiss associate Jaan Uhelszki to join the quartet on board their private jet to reminisce, and see just what it’s like on the juggernaut now that they know the end is nearly upon them. “I do know we raised the bar in terms of what you can expect now from bands,” says the inimitable Mr Simmons. And you know what? He’s right. The world will be a quieter, duller place without Kiss. Just make sure you catch them one last time when they play here. Siân Llewellyn, Editor
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This month’s contributors NICK HASTED
Nick Hasted enjoyed spending an afternoon in the cells with Yngwie Malmsteen for Classic Rock this month (p72). Nick has been a music and film journalist since 1986, and his latest books are Jack White: How He Built An Empire From The Blues and a thorough update of You Really Got Me: The Story Of The Kinks.
As the only journalist ever to have performed in full makeup with them, Jaan was the perfect candidate to hang out with Kiss for CR one last time as they hit the road on their final tour (p26). As one of the founding editors of Creem magazine, Jaan has been hard at work on Boy Howdy! The Story Of Creem Magazine documentary which debuted at SXSW last month.
Richard Bienstock is an editor with Guitar World magazine. This month he hosted the conversation between Eric Gales and Dave Navarro (p44). He is also the author of several books, including Kurt Cobain: Montage Of Heck, and Slash: An Intimate Portrait. He is currently working on the definitive oral history of 80s hard rock, to be published by St Martin’s Press in 2020.
Stereo Can also be played on mono equipment
SIR K 66 087 (2SRK 1987)
Germany: Z France: WE 666
Playing this month: Eric Gales, The Bookends
Royal Republic, Club Majesty
The Young Gods, Data Mirage Tangram
Suzi Quatro, No Control
De Staat, Bubble Gum
Contributing writers Marcel Anders, Geoff Barton, Tim Batcup, Mark Beaumont, Max Bell, Essi Berelian, Simon Bradley, «ǣƬǝ!ǝƏȅƫƺȸǼƏǣȇً³Ɏƺȵǝƺȇ(ƏǼɎȒȇً«ǣƬǝ(ƏɮƺȇȵȒȸɎًhȒǝȇȇɵ(ژƺƺًxƏǼƬȒǼȅ(Ȓȅƺًnƺƺ(ȒȸȸǣƏȇًxƏȸǸ0ǼǼƺȇً!ǼƏɖƳǣƏ0ǼǼǣȒɎɎً Paul Elliott, Dave Everley, Jerry Ewing, Hugh Fielder, Eleanor Goodman, 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, Luke Morton, Kate Mossman, Kris Needs, Bill Nelson, Paul Rees, Chris Roberts, David Quantick, Johnny Sharp, David Sinclair, Sleazegrinder, Áƺȸȸɵ³ɎƏɖȇɎȒȇً(ƏɮǣƳ³Ɏɖƫƫɀً0ɮƺȸƺɎɎÁȸɖƺًhƏƏȇژÈǝƺǼɀɿǸǣًxǣƬǸáƏǼǼً¨ƏƳƳɵáƺǼǼɀً¨ǝǣǼǣȵáǣǼƳǣȇǕًRƺȇȸɵçƏɎƺɀًçȒɖɎǝ
Contributing photographers Brian Aris, Ami Barwell, Adrian Boot, Dick Barnatt, Dave Brolan, Alison Clarke, Zach Cordner, Fin Costello, Henry Diltz, kƺɮǣȇ0ɀɎȸƏƳƏًhƏȅƺɀIȒȸɎɖȇƺًhǣǼǼIɖȸȅƏȇȒɮɀǸɵًRƺȸƫJȸƺƺȇƺً ȒƫJȸɖƺȇًxǣƬǝƏƺǼRƏǼɀƫƏȇƳً«ȒɀɀژRƏǼˡȇًxǣƬǸRɖɎɀȒȇً áǣǼǼXȸƺǼƏȇƳً«ȒƫƺȸɎkȇǣǕǝɎًxƏȸǣƺkȒȸȇƺȸً ƏȸȸɵnƺɮǣȇƺًhǣȅxƏȸɀǝƏǼǼًhȒǝȇxƬxɖȸɎȸǣƺًJƺȸƺƳژxƏȇǸȒɯǣɎɿً(ƏɮǣƳ 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, xǣƬǝƏƺǼژñƏǕƏȸǣɀًzƺǣǼñǼȒɿȒɯƺȸ
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NAT FINKELSTEIN ESTATE
Clockwise from this photo: the Velvet Underground at the Paraphernalia boutique opening, New York, 1966; Bob Dylan screen test at The Factory, ’65; Andy Warhol, Dylan and Gerard Malanga at The Factory, ’65.
Pictures At Two Exhibitions Andy Warhol’s Factory days and “the interplay between art and music” explored in new collections.
“These un-posed images were made when Andy Warhol et al were people, not products.”
GE AND PATTI SMITH © JULIE BENNETT; JOHN LENNON © GERALD O’DOWD
Two brand new London WC2N 6BP from exhibitions visit London April 11 to June 9, Monday this month. In And to Saturday 10am to 7pm Out Of Warhol’s Orbit, and Sunday 10am to 6pm. a collection of images by Admission is free. Details the late photojournalist Nat at proud.co.uk Finkelstein, takes us back to the 1960s and inside Andy Setting out to “explore Warhol’s studio the Silver the interplay of art and Factory. Finkelstein, who music”, Music Makers is died in 2009 aged 76, spent the first joint exhibition three years as the facility’s of works by the artists in-house photographer, Julie Bennett and Gerald capturing the many artists, O’Dowd, the latter the producers, musicians, brother of singer Boy creatives and wannabes George. The collection who frequented Warhol’s includes illustrations of HQ on the fifth floor at artists from five decades of 231 East 47th Street in music icons, including John Midtown Manhattan at the Lennon, David Bowie, Bob height of its prominence. Marley, Patti Smith, Janis In And Out Of Warhol’s Joplin, Courtney Love and Orbit: Photographs By Yoko Ono. Nat Finkelstein brings “Each painting is together images of the a portrait of a musician Velvet Underground, who has influenced my Nico, Bob Dylan, Rolling life and helped to shape me Stone Brian Jones, actress as an artist,” says Bennett, and fashion model Edie who as the younger of Sedgwick and fashion the two drew the slightly designer Betsey Johnson. more contemporary Remembered for artists including Florence a documentary style of Welch, Alison Moyet and photography, Finkelstein Boy George. offered a unique slant on “There’s a connection visitors to the Factory, between all of the musicians focusing on their in that each indulges in idiosyncrasies as artists some form of art, whether rather than on it’s sculpture, painting their emerging or drawing,” Bennett celebrity status. adds. “We’re looking at “I am a situational musicians who also use photographer,” he their artistry and creativity once explained. in another format.” “These un-posed Asked about thoughts images were made she would like people to when Andy Warhol take away with them as et al were people, not they leave the exhibition, products; young artists, Bennett replies: “It would not celebrities. Enjoy, be great if they but don’t venerate.” contemplated the influence The exhibition of music – and musicians – includes rare vintage upon themselves. All of us Photographer Nat Finkelstein and unique signed have at least one favourite prints of Andy Warhol that has had a strong impact and ‘the Factory Girl’ Edie Sedgwick, along upon our lives, don’t we?” with screen tests of a young Bob Dylan. Music Makers runs at Hackney Picturehouse, In And Out Of Warhol’s Orbit runs at 270 Mare St, London E8 1HE, from April 4 to 29, Proud Central Gallery, 32 John Adam Street, 11am to 10pm. DL This month The Dirt was compiled by Chris Chantler, Lee Dorrian, Dave Ling, Grant Moon, Paul Rees, Johnny Sharp, Henry Yates.
Keith Flint Thank you and good night. Stephan Ellis Died February 28, 2019
Steve Ellis joined Survivor in 1981 after Jim Peterik and Frankie Sullivan spotted him playing bass in a band in Los Angeles. It was the first of three spells with the iconic US melodic rockers. Frankie Sullivan called his former bandmate, who passed away at 69: “Well-coifed, always ready and [a man who] lived his own life in his own way and on his own terms.”
Paul Williams Died March 1, 2019
Paul Williams (born Paul William Yarlett) began climbing the ladder in Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band before joining John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Juicy Lucy, Tempest, and Allan Holdsworth in IOU. In more recent years he had worked in collaboration with David Hentschel. Williams fell ill and failed to recover. He was 78.
Peter Rüchel March 9, 1937 – February 20, 2019 Berlin-born Rüchel was a music journalist, producer and founder of the televised concert series Rockpalast. He died at the age of 81 following an unspecified illness. Ross Lowell July 10, 1926 – January 10, 2019 Few people get to invent a product that revolutionises an industry. Lowell, who died at the age of 92, achieved this feat when he hit on the idea for the roadies’ favourite accessory, gaffer tape.
Doug Sandom February 26, 1930 – February 27, 2019
Drummer Doug Sandom was older than his partners in The Detours, and the age difference caused problems. He left shortly after they changed their name to The Who in the spring of 1984 and was replaced by Keith Moon. No recordings with Sandom, who died a day after his 89th birthday, performing with The Who were released, but his claim to fame of being their first drummer lives on.
Andy Anderson January 30, 1951 – February 26, 2019
Andy Anderson was probably best known as a drummer with The Cure, joining them in 1983 when Lol Tolhurst switched to keyboards, though he also played with (among others) Steve Hillage, Iggy Pop, Peter Gabriel, Glenn Matlock and, briefly, Hawkwind. The 68-year-old reportedly died at home, surrounded by friends and loved ones.
Kofi Burbridge September 22, 1961 – February 15, 2019
Fred Foster July 26, 1931 – February 20, 2019 Born in North Carolina, Foster was an American Hall Of Fame record producer, songwriter and music business executive most associated with Roy Orbison. The 87-year-old died after a short illness. Dennis Eyre May 27, 1962 – February 21, 2019 A manager and booking agent, Eyre was a popular figure on the Midlands rock scene. One of his clients, ex-Scorpions guitarist Uli Jon Roth, said: “As a friend and human being Dennis is irreplaceable. I will miss him terribly.”
Keith Flint, the man who brought rock’n’roll to the hard-edged electronic music giants the Prodigy, took his own life as this issue of Classic Rock went to press. He was 49 years old. The Prodigy were scheduled to begin a new tour in early April but following concerns for Flint’s welfare, police were called to the singer’s home in Essex, where his body was found. The band’s Liam Howlett confirmed the news on Instagram stating: “I can’t believe I’m saying this but our brother Keith took his own life over the weekend. I’m shellshocked, fuckin’ angry, confused and
heartbroken. RIP, brother.” The Prodigy formed in 1990, with Flint, famous for his fluorescent spiked hair, originally brought in as a dancer. But in 1996 he took over on the mic for the band’s best known song, Firestarter, and a follow-up single Breathe. Firestarter saw the band cross over into the hard rock and metal market via its hugely popular 1997 parent album called The Fat Of The Land. A band statement requested privacy during their period of grief, calling the singer “a true pioneer, innovator and legend”. DL
Peter Tork February 13, 1942 – February 21, 2019 The eldest member of 60s made-for-TV pop group The Monkees has died of adenoid cystic carcinoma, a rare form of head and neck cancer first diagnosed a decade ago. He was 77 years old. Micky Dolenz tweeted: “There are no words right now… heartbroken over the loss of my Monkee brother.” Beach Boy Brian Wilson added: “I’m sad to hear about Peter’s passing. I thought The Monkees were great and he will be missed.” Of Norwegian descent and born Peter Halsten Thorkelson in Washington DC, Tork moved to New York in the early 60s. He auditioned for The Monkees TV show in late ’65 and became the final musician to join the cast after his friend Stephen Stills
recommended him to its producers. His role was that of a loveable dimwit. The band had hits with what are now some of the most famous songs in popular music, including I’m A Believer, Last Train To Clarksville, Daydream Believer and Pleasant Valley Sunday, although they suffered the enduring stigma of being a manufactured group. This was smoothed over to some degree by a sixth album, Head, in 1968. Tork left show business shortly after leaving the Monkees in ’68, enduring personal and financial problems and dealing with alcoholism and drug abuse. He reunited with his fellow Monkees for a world tour in 2011. DL
Mark Hollis January 4, 1955 – February 25, 2019 As the band’s lead singer, principal writer and driving force, North Londoner Hollis guided Talk Talk from synthpop to becoming a boldly experimental group, hailed as a significant influence by, among others, Steven Wilson, Marillion’s Steve Hogarth, Tears For Fears, Peter Gabriel, Radiohead, Placebo, The Mars Volta and Peter Hammill of Van der Graff Generator. Beginning during the New Romantic era of the 80s, Talk Talk found fleeting chart success with the singles Talk Talk and Today before branching out into a sound that was infinitely more difficult to define. Reviewers were left reaching for superlatives, although sales diminished. The band’s fourth album, 1988’s
Spirit Of Eden, was hailed as a masterpiece but despite reaching the Top 20 the band’s label EMI felt frustrated by the glass ceiling of Talk Talk’s sales and they moved on to Polydor for what would be their swansong, Laughing Stock, in 1991. Despite issuing a self-titled solo album in 1992, fame and Hollis never sat comfortably together and he faded into the shadows to concentrate on family life. “Before you play two notes, learn how to play one note, and don’t play one note until you’ve got a reason to play it,” he said in 1998. Hollis was 64 years at the time of his passing. His manager confirmed “a short illness from which he never recovered” as cause of death. DL
Born in New York, Kofi Burbridge was a classically trained multiinstrumentalist who most recently performed as a member of the Tedeschi Trucks Band following a stint with the Derek Trucks Band. In January it was announced that, following a persistent heart issue, he had suffered an unspecific “health setback”. He was 57.
Mac Wiseman May 23, 1925 – February 24, 2019 With more than 70 years in the spotlight, bluegrass musician and Country Music Hall Of Fame member Wiseman (pictured) was known as The Voice With A Heart. He was 93 years old at the time of his death from kidney failure.
September 17, 1969 – March 4, 2019
Peter Frampton Forced To Retire Muscle disease forces singersongwriter to call it quits. Peter Frampton has vowed to go out with guns blazing on a farewell tour after being diagnosed with the degenerative muscle disease inclusion-body myositis, which affects the legs, arms and, eventually, the fingers. The singer-songwriter kept the condition secret for almost four years after it was revealed following an on-stage fall. “[Back then] it wasn’t at a place where it was necessary to tell anybody,” he tells Rolling Stone. “My children and my band knew. That was it, literally. My crew didn’t even know.” He says he feels great now but “in a year’s time, I might not be able to play”. A final North American tour kicks off on June 18, after which Frampton hopes “we might be able to do the same thing on a limited basis in Europe” in spring 2020. While his body allows him to do so, Frampton is “working like a maniac” at his studio in Nashville on three different projects, including a double studio album with a planned June release. “I want to play good. I want to rock it,” he promises. “I want to go out screaming, as opposed to, ‘He can’t play any more.’” DL Rocking it: Peter Frampton
Return To Alcatrazz
The fourth album from Black Star Riders is due in September. Produced by Jay Ruston (Anthrax, Uriah Heep), Another State Of Grace introduces new members Christian Martucci on guitar and Chad Szeliga on drums. Bryan Ferry believes it’s unlikely that Roxy Music will record again. Saxophonist Andy Mackay had hoped the band’s upcoming Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame induction could inspire them to revive a shelved 2007 album. “We talked a little bit about that,” says frontman Ferry, “[but] I kind of [feel] happier being a solo artist.” The last Roxy Music album was 1982’s Avalon. Elton John’s autobiography will be published in October by Henry Holt & Co. Its title is yet to be revealed, although the 72-year-old has promised a “no-holdsbarred account”. Rocketman, a film of the star’s life, in which Elton is played by 29-year-old Taron Egerton, goes on general release in the UK on May 24.
Graham Bonnet putting band together again for new album.
AC/DC’s Angus Young (pictured) has donated 19,260 Canadian dollars to the Alzheimer Society of Ontario, following the fundraising efforts of ice-hockey referee Steve McNeil, who skated across the country for 19 hours and 26 minutes in each of Canada’s NHL cities in honour of his mother who lived with Alzheimer’s for nearly 20 years. Angus’s brother Malcolm lost his battle with the disease in 2017.
The German rockers burned brightly but briefly in the 80s. Now they're back with their first album in 35 years. Rosy Vista were perhaps a Teutonic equivalent of Girlschool, sharing stages with the likes of Mötley Crüe and Uriah Heep, although back in the 1980s Germany was unwilling to support an all-female hard rock band. Thirty-five years after they formed in Hannover, guitarist Anca Graterol and singer Andrea Schwarz talk about the band’s return. Rosy Vista’s initial run lasted from 1984 to ’89. Were you Germany’s first all-female rock group? Anca Graterol: [Laughing] We were the first and also the last, I think.
player, Angela [Mann], but it was easy to put the band back together. I had a studio, and we made the album [Unbelievable] without even thinking about a record company. We did it for us only. It came from the heart. Rosy Vista had released some singles and an EP, but not a full-length album. Was it frustrating to not to have released one? AG: Oh yes, very much. We had a lot of songs, that’s why five of them appear on this new album along with brand new compositions. Some are not the way that we would write them now, but it’s fun to look back.
“Guys now accept girls in a band. It’s a person, not simply a woman.”
What caused the break up? Andrea Schwarz: There were two big problems. One was the record company, and the other was me. We made some demos that the label didn’t like, and then I got anorexia. I was twenty-two years old. It’s hard to explain in English. I was not happy with being an object on the stage. AG: Andrea left the band, basically. We tried other singers but the magic was gone. Are you saying that the pressure to look good and project a sexy image was too much? AS: Yeah, that’s it. For the past twenty years I’ve been absolutely fine, but back then the whole thing made me very ill. After the split, what happened next – families and husbands? AG: Actually, no. Not one of us had kids. But we continued to make music. I had a studio and I coached young bands. Music is all I’ve ever done. Seeds of a reunion were sown when the band members bumped into each other at a concert eleven years ago. AG: We needed to find our new bass
Is Until I’m Satisfied, with the lyric of ‘You only have to put your hand on your gun/I promise you you’re gonna have some fun’, the type of song you would wouldn’t write in 2019? AG: Me? No, not any more. AS: I would still write a song like that, but you must know the meaning of about Until I’m Satisfied. It’s about telephone sex – which is something a woman can still do at any age. Decades later, do you think we are now living in different times for women in rock music? AG: Yes, I think so. And that makes me happy. Guys now accept girls in a band. It’s a person, not simply a woman. Did you experience much sexism the first time around? AG: A lot, though that whole situation has changed. Now we wear lots and lots of leather but don’t show much skin. In the 1980s we showed a lot of skin. DL Unbelievable is available now via SPV Records.
PETER FRAMPTON: KEVIN NIXON; ANGUS YOUNG: ROB MONK
Graham Bonnet has revived Alcatrazz, the band that he fronted in the mid-80s, and is collaborating on new material with their former guitarist, Steve Vai, among others. According to Bonnet, he already has three complete songs for the album. “These guys want to write songs for Alcatrazz and without being in the band,” he says. “Steve has sent me a bunch of stuff. Chris Impelliteri and Bob Kullick are both going to as well, and there’s other great players that I’m hoping will have the time to contribute.” Bonnet formed Alcatrazz in 1983, after stints with Rainbow and the Michael Schenker Group. Alcatrazz split up after 1986’s Dangerous Games, although Bonnet did go out intermittently under the name from 2006 to 2014. He admits he’s brought it back again “to see if will attract more customers. We did a lot of Alcatrazz material live as the Graham Bonnet Band, but unfortunately people don’t know who Graham Bonnet is; they just know the guy who sang Since You’ve Been Gone.” Bonnet hopes to have the album out for this summer. PR
Spielbergs Meet the Norwegian power trio who make post-hardcore sound like child’s play.
and the three began hooking up to drink beer and make an unholy hardcore racket. At first it didn’t add up to much, and both Baklien and Løvhaug ended up going to college, while both also had kids and temporarily gave up on the band idea for a while. But Baklien kept his hand in, making solo If you’re looking to start a band in Norway, you could just do the recordings, and eventually the trio began playing again. The songs began usual thing: hang out at record shops, rehearsal rooms, music colleges… to take shape and their thunderously hard rocking live shows were really or you could try getting a job at a local kindergarten. Seriously, it’s where turning heads in their hometown. All they needed now was a name. all the great bands of tomorrow are to be found. “We were going to call ourselves after our song We Are All Going To Die, And we’re not talking about the children, either. According to but the guys thought it sounded like an emo band. Then one night Mads Baklien, frontman of fast-rising Oslo three-piece Spielbergs, FOR FANS OF... I was playing guitar in my apartment and Close Encounters Of The half of the city’s musos are gainfully employed in charge of Third Kind came on. I had this riff that sounded kind of sci-fi, it rampaging toddlers. “I met Christian [Løvhaug, Drummer] developed into something that we called Spielberg Song, and then working in a kindergarten,” he says. “It was a real cliché, meeting we thought, okay, Spielbergs – simple, effective.” band guys working there. We all needed money while playing in You may say not dissimilar things about the Spielbergs’ core bands and the kindergartens wanted men to apply to assistant sound, with its roots in high-octane heavy power pop and airpositions. Every kindergarten has several band guys.” punching vocal hooks, but they’re no one-trick ponies, as the “We often get Of course, he might be spinning us one of those origin-myth instrumental McDonald’s (Please Don’t Fuck Up My Order) and the compared to The yarns that bands offer up to make their back story sound more acoustic-based dreampop of Sleeper prove with their widescreen, Replacements and interesting, but we’re buying it – just as we did their startlingly shoegazey soundscapes. “We always had an understanding that Hüsker Dü,” says Baklien. “And I’m good single Five On It and its pummellingly punky predecessor we’d have a chance to make different kinds of music, and we listen definitely a big fan of We Are All Going To Die. They both feature on the band’s debut to all sorts, like prog, indie, hardcore, post-rock… so if we want to those bands, and many This Is Not The End, bringing to an end the first chapter in the life of others too. Half the make a fifteen-minute krautrock tune we will do that!” a band, which, for a long time, didn’t seem to be going anywhere. time we’re compared to Norway’s childcare system’s loss is surely our gain. JS bands I’ve never heard After that fateful nursery school encounter a few years back, of. But if people want to Løvhaug joined Baklien’s lifelong friend Stian Brennskag (bass) mention us in the same This Is Not The End is out now via By The Time It Gets Dark. sentence as bands as great as those two, well, that’s great with me!”
“We listen to all sorts of music, like prog, indie, hardcore, post-rock…”
Pete Townshend’s first novel will be published via Coronet Books on November 5. The Age Of Anxiety is said to capture “the craziness of the music business and display the Who guitarist’s sly sense of humour and sharp ear for dialogue”.
Riches from the rock underground
AUBREY SMALL Aubrey Small, Polydor, UK 1971. £140 (with insert). Aubrey Small formed at Highbury College, Portsmouth in 1969 as part of the musical appreciation society. Before long they brought in former Lace guitarist, Peter Pinckney, who had made connections in London. Championed by both John Peel and Bob Harris, the band recorded numerous BBC sessions, resulting in a record deal with Polydor. Recorded at Trident Studios with future Queen & Roxy Music producer John Anthony, Aubrey Small is an excellent, consistently melodic album which covers an eclectic mix of styles and textures. Overall it’s progressive, dreamy pop/rock, occasionally bordering on mainstream, but songs are often psychedelic in treatment, with interesting arrangements and layers of sound.
‘Progressive pop/rock, occasionally bordering on mainstream.’
Cormac Neeson, bestknown as frontman of The Answer, releases his first solo album, White Feather, on April 26. Its first single, Broken Wing, was written for his fouryear-old son Dabhóg, born three months prematurely and with Down’s syndrome. “Everything I am is wrapped up in this record,” he says.
Overkill Approaching their 40th year, the prolific thrash pioneers continue to be about the now, not the past. There are few things in life as reliable as Overkill. Since their 1985 debut Feel The Fire, barely a year has passed without a release of some sort from these muchloved New Jersey thrash pioneers, and they’ve cranked it up another gear with their uncompromising new album The Wings Of War, their nineteenth studio record. We spoke to frontman Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellsworth about what keeps this ‘mean green killing machine’ running so smoothly. Overkill have never taken longer than two and a half years between albums. Is hyperactivity a compulsion for the band? One thing you can say about Overkill, love us or hate us, is that the material’s always fresh; it’s not sitting around collecting dust over a five-year period. I’ve always liked to get a good snapshot of where the band is at the time you’re listening to the record; not what was before, what is now.
York, always with two sticks in his pocket. He was a good friend of our drummer at the time, Tim Mallore, kind of a younger protégé. I always forgot his name, I’d just call him Sticks. “Hey Sticks. You waiting for Mallore to have a heart attack?” And this sonofabitch would say: “I’m ready! All you gotta do is ask [laughs].” Welcome To The Garden State seems almost like a love song to New Jersey. Is this Overkill’s ‘origin story’? We’re looking for tourism royalties! There were five grinning assholes in the studio, all the pearly-whites showing, just laughing at ourselves. Somewhere in there, this is all about emotion and how it strikes a chord, so we took the simplest things: ‘You wanna know why we’re like this? Listen to this song.’ We come from the most attitudefilled corner of the United States. We’re all born with chips on our shoulders, and we dare you to knock ’em off!
“We come from the most attitudefilled corner of the United States.”
Following the cancellation of his most recent European tour, Ozzy Osbourne (pictured) has followed medical advice and cancelled further shows in Australia, New Zealand and Japan. “Ozzy’s doctors have advised that he stay at home to recuperate for a full six weeks with no travel,” said a statement from Sharon Osbourne. The surviving members of the final and longest-running incarnation of postpunk band The Fall have regrouped as Imperial Wax. Their debut, Gastwerk Saboteurs, arrives is out on May 17 via Saustex Records.
2016’s The Grinding Wheel was a great heavy record, but there’s more pace and complexity on the new one. Was new drummer Jason Bittner instrumental in this? When I stood on stage for the first time with Jason taking a full Overkill set, I knew the band had changed. There’s two ways to look at that: either you embrace it, or force it in another direction. We chose to embrace it. And this way you have a little bit different Overkill. It changed all of us around, what he brought to the table. I saw that even though this could be the most brutal drum approach we ever had, it gave us more space to infuse melodies. Was Jason already an Overkill fan from way back? He used to come to shows in upstate New
2020 marks forty years since DD Verni formed Overkill. Even more amazingly, you turn sixty in May. Are there plans to celebrate those milestones in some way? I never think in those terms. I’m always really happy that this band is about what it is, not what it was. That we can still create a record like The Wings Of War, where you listen to it once and you go: ‘Well these motherfuckers are still serious. They didn’t mail any of this in.’ Living by that principle for almost forty years has helped bring new opportunities, so I don’t think in terms of celebration. But I probably will send DD Verni a bunch of roses. CC The Wings Of War is out now via Nuclear Blast.
OZZY: KEVIN NIXON
Opener Country Road is a beautiful, reflective introduction to the world of Aubrey Small: mellow, harmonised verses make way for Eastern-flavoured breakdowns. The Painted Lady is a treat for prog fans; enigmatic, with Moogenhanced verses merging into a memorable chorus. Elsewhere, Trying To Find My Way is a power-pop killer. If I Were You features strong vocal lines and a mesmeric continuous guitar solo. Smoke Will Blow is undoubtedly the album’s freakiest moment, featuring synthesisers, eerie child voices and a surreal string arrangement. One of the better, if lesser-known, UK albums of its time. Today Aubrey Small are active once again. LD
Bluesy hard rockers King King have brought in Zander Greenshields as replacement for Lindsay Coulson, their bass player of 10 years’ standing, and Andrew Scott has replaced drummer Wayne Proctor, who left the band “to pursue other interests”.
A gown worn on stage by Kurt Cobain during Nirvana’s headline set at the Reading Festival in 1992, the band’s last ever show in the UK, is going under the hammer. It’s expected to fetch tens of thousands of pounds.
LOVE Def Leppard PYROMANIA
By Scott Stapp The former Creed singer and now solo artist waxes lyrical about Def Leppard’s seminal 1983 album.
Lonerider is the name of the new band formed by guitarist/ singer Steve Overland (FM/Shadowman), drummer Simon Kirke (Free/Bad Company), guitarist Steve Morris (Export/Ian Gillan) and bassist Chris Childs (Thunder). Their debut album, Attitude, is released on April 26 via Escape Music.
Rodrigo y Gabriela The Mexican acoustic duo shake up their blend of rock and flamenco, with live recording and a Pink Floyd cover. It’s 20 years since Rodrigo Sánchez and Gabriela Quintero arrived in Ireland from Mexico City for what was meant to be a brief European adventure. Lifelong metal fans, they’ve developed into an acoustic instrumental duo blending flamenco, bossa nova and rock, and have earned a strong live following through relentless gigging and a series of successful albums. From April they tour Europe and the US to promote their new album, Mettavolution, so we got on el teléfono to speak to Gabriela. It’s five years since the last album, 9 Dead Alive. Why the long gap? We had a long period of touring the album and then a lot of other work, so it’s hard to get new ideas and be creative. We wanted the next one to be different, to surprise us, and after writing a lot of material we weren’t completely happy with we got some real momentum towards the end of last year, and knew we had the right music.
Your version of Pink Floyd’s Echoes was recorded live, and it’s nearly twenty minutes long! Yes! We started to do parts on the road last year to tease the audience, and out of a room of a thousand people maybe two would recognise it. It evolved over the tour, and by the time we got to the studio we were ready. It’s so moody and haunting. Every time we finish playing it it’s like we’re coming back to real life. You’ve previously recorded Stairway To Heaven and Metallica’s Orion. Was there pressure to do another big rock cover? No. There’s a pressure to make radio hits and get more ‘likes’ and all that bullshit, but we’re passed that. Echoes was a challenge for us. It was a risk to put it on the album, but we thought, “Fuck it, let’s try it!”
“We get everyone from punks to grannies enjoying what we do.”
Keyboard maestro Rick Wakeman (pictured) is to celebrate his 70th birthday with the final two performances of his conceptual piece Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, at London’s Royal Festival Hall on July 13 and 14. Wakeman will team up with the Orion Orchestra, the English Chamber Choir and the English Rock Ensemble, and there will be special guest appearances from Alfie Boe and Robert Powell. L7 release a new studio album, Scatter The Rats, their first since 1999’s SlapHappy, on May 3 via Joan Jett’s Blackhearts Records.
How is Mettavolution different and surprising for you? We were more relaxed and trusting of each other, and it flowed more naturally. Every track has melodies you can sing as if they were a song, and we played with different guitar techniques. Before, we’d come off the road, go into the studio exhausted and make the next album. This time we had the whole thing prepared. What did the album’s producer, Dave Sardy, bring to it? Rod and I can get into arguments, but Sardy knew what to say to get results. He got me to play simpler rhythms, and it was his decision to record us live in the room as if it were a gig, then add the ‘production’ later. It was a really good idea. It captures what we do live.
You have a tour coming up. Presumably there are a lot of guitar fans in your audience? And also people who weren’t into guitar music at all before us. We get everyone from punks to metal guys to old grannies enjoying what we do, and we embrace that. You played for Barack Obama at the White House in 2010. If the current president asked you to play there, would you do the gig? [Laughs] I guess we would, but we’d need to ask our manager exactly who asked and exactly what they wanted. I’d wonder who they’re trying to manipulate with it, or maybe it’d be to make us go away on a spaceship or something! I’m always very suspicious. GM Mettavolution is out on April 26 via Rubyworks/BMG.
RODRIGO Y GABRIELA: EBRU YILDIZ/PRESS; SCOTT STAPP: ALAMY; RICK WAKEMAN: KEVIN NIXON
“I was at my friend’s house in 1983, and the video for Photograph came on MTV, and from that moment I was hooked on rock’n’roll. “That album connected to me in every way. I wanted to be those guys. When I saw the Photograph video I wanted a model wife and everything that a teenage boy thinks a rock star has. The music moved me; something inside me was different from the moment I heard this record. “I’d heard Elvis records, and some Donny Hathaway and Otis Redding from my mother, but Pyromania was the record that completely changed the course of my life. The guitars, the rhythms, the energy in the music, the way it was sung… everything spoke to me. I’d never heard anything like it, and it just made me want to move – I just felt it. “When my friend brought the record over to my house we must have listened to Photograph and Foolin’ ten times in a row. But my stepfather was extremely religious, and he came into my bedroom when we were listening to it and he said it was the devil’s music. So from then on I had to sneak over to my friend Robbie’s house to listen to it in secret.”
Greta Van Fleet were forced to postpone their recent Europen dates after singer Josh Kiszka failed to recover in time from the respiratory infection which had led to the earlier cancellation of an Australian tour. For the rescheduled UK dates, see Listings, p106.
“Jack punched me in the neck with some keys and I threw a door at him.”
From rock-bottom to hot tip – step aboard the Hollowstar roller-coaster.
share of tragic gigs (“We did a Midlands festival once and on before us was a bloke in just a T-shirt and a monkey head throwing bog-rolls”) and drunk their body weight. “We had a massive bender in Southampton,” recalls Bonson. “We played the gig, then thought we’d just have an hour in the “Ups and downs is the best way to describe it,” considers Joe Bonson casino. Nine hours later, we’d lost everything we’d earned, plus ten times of his band’s early years. And he’s not wrong. Play Hollowstar’s self-titled more. We literally had just enough to put fuel in the van.” debut album – a winning collision of edgy alt.metal licks and rafter-scraping But what separates Hollowstar from the pack is their hard-rock craft, old-school vocals – or meet their talkative frontman, and you’d imagine that with that debut album offering bristling hooks – they cite Thunder for the everything this Cambridgeshire four-piece touches turns to gold. good-time vibes, Alter Bridge for the heaviosity – plus astute lyrics FOR FANS OF... “There’s almost a slight arrogance,” says Bonson of their cock-ofthat dig deeper. “In our early bands,” admits Bonson, “we hadn’t the-walk material. “Like, ‘This is the right way to do things’.” done enough in life, and who wants some nineteen-year-old Scratch that all-conquering surface, though, and Joe admits telling you about widening your experiences? It’s like, ‘Mate, I’ve that their rise started at rock-bottom. The singer paints himself as done more than you before breakfast.’ I want our songs to stop a troubled kid who was expelled from school when the emotional people just going along with the routine. Money is about getting weight of his mother’s cancer grew too much. He’d start and people to question things. Like, ‘You’re wasting your one shot at quit bands, disappear abroad, lose money, often in cahoots with life – for money?’ And money has just been created to make sure “One of the biggest younger brother Jack (now on drums). “Every few years,” smiles you’re doing what they tell you.” influences on us was Joe, “we’ll have a proper scrap. The last time, Jack punched me in Speaking of money, sighs Bonson, it’s still too tight to mention Alter Bridge, especially the neck with some keys and I threw a door at him.” for this unsigned DIY outfit. But as long as Hollowstar have the Blackbird album,” says Bonson. “But I love a stage, there’ll be more ups than downs. “The music I play has to By 2014, things looked darker. “I’d slipped massively into Thunder, too, so it was depression,” recalls Bonson. “I got to the point where I was so low be the music I want to play,” concludes the frontman. “I don’t care a case of blending the that if I hadn’t had the right people around me, I wouldn’t be here. two: the catchiness and if I spend the rest of my life playing it in pubs.” HY the party bounce you Luckily, that was my brother and the boys. It was a case of, ‘What get with an album like can we do to cheer you up?’ I said, ‘Let’s give the band one last go’.” Hollowstar is released on May 3 and is available from Thunder’s Laughing On Like every other young slogger, the lineup have played their hollowstar.uk Judgement Day with the darkness, the meaty riffs and the bold vocals of Alter Bridge.”
THE STO RIES BEH IND THE SON GS
The Darkness Love Is Only A Feeling Frontman Justin Hawkins looks back at how he and his bandmates created a “power ballad for the age” – and a breath of fresh air in an era when rock wasn’t exactly in fashion. Words: Hannah May Kilroy
The video for Love Is Only A Feeling shows the band in suitably dramatic surroundings. Shot at locations in the Blue Mountains of Australia, the main sequences show them shredding while atop a vast mesa, shirts unbuttoned and legs splayed wide. “Our director, Alex Smith, wanted to make a really epic, mountaintop, mega powerballad video,” Justin recalls. “He’s done a lot of important music videos, so he was a big deal. He did the video for us on the cheap. “Alex was in a helicopter and I was on the side of the mountain, playing my guitar solos. I had one harness; you’re supposed to have three or four, apparently. I was just in cowboy boots and prancing! But in those days I didn’t really care about anything. I was just trying my hardest to put in a good performance. That was another brilliant day.”
‘The light of my life would tear a hole right through each cloud that scudded by/Just to beam on you and I.’ “I remembered these famous poets from school, and one said something about clouds ‘scudding’,” he says. “And I thought that’s the only application of that word – clouds are the only thing that scud. So I wanted to make sure that was in there. “I spent a lot of time on that lyric… I think it’s obvious that I was trying to sound clever,” he laughs. “I think it stands out on that album as the song where I really tried with the lyrics. The others are probably a bit more instinctive. Some of them are a bit sweary, there’s a rage and frustration, while Love Is Only A Feeling is definitely more ponderous.” It wasn’t just Justin who really wanted to sink his teeth into a power ballad. The rest of the band were also so into in the idea for Love Is Only A Feeling that it became the most collaboratively written song on Permission To Land. “I don’t know what it was – I guess it was just that everyone had a strong feeling about this song and wanted to express themselves on it,” Hawkins says. “It was definitely the nearest thing to a legitimate team effort from top to bottom.” But despite their initial enthusiasm, the song took a little while to find its feet. It wasn’t until it came to recording the track that Love Is Only A Feeling really started to come to life. “It went through some big changes,” Hawkins explains. “I remember I had gone to America with my friend, and when I came back, Dan [Hawkins] had done all the guitars. I remember listening to it and freaking out – suddenly it sounded like a proper seventies American rock ballad. I couldn’t believe how authentic it sounded. Dan remembers the way I reacted – I was screaming! It just felt so good. Even now, nearly twenty years later, whenever he presents an idea to me, he’s looking for that reaction. Because I really felt it.” In fact the band believed that Love Is Only A Feeling was the best song on the album
– the one that would be the making of them. They weren’t quite right there (“When we presented the songs to the label they earmarked I Believe In A Thing Called Love as ‘the one’ – correctly, as it turned out,” he says), but it still made No.5. “If we had a song now that went to Number Five in the charts we would be over the moon,” Hawkins says. “It was released at the end of the campaign, so it was never going to go to Number One – millions of people had already bought the album. But everybody knows it’s a great song, so we’re happy with that.” In the end, The Darkness’s star burned brightly – Permission To Land went doubleplatinum and they won three Brit Awards in 2004 – but also burned out quickly. Second album One Way Ticket To Hell… And Back, failed to live up to the massive success
“I spent a lot of time on that lyric… I think it’s obvious that I was trying to sound clever.” of their debut, while Hawkins suffered drug and alcohol problems before entering rehab and leaving the band in 2006. Having first reunited in 2011, the original line-up are currently working on their sixth album. Although they’ve never returned to the levels of success of their debut, The Darkness’s legacy includes one of the great British rock albums and, with Love Is Only A Feeling, the ultimate modern power ballad. “We didn’t usher in a movement of new rock music,” Justin says thoughtfully, “but what we did was introduce people to music that had been there already. I still encounter young people today who I wouldn’t expect to have any sort of respect for The Darkness, but they say we got them into listening to more rock music. It was sort of a gateway for people to discover rock’s entire back catalogue, and that’s really great.” The Darkness headline Ramblin’ Man Fair on Friday, July 19.
CAMERA PRESS/SCARLET PAGE
GETTIN’ HIGH ON LOVE
n the early noughties, it felt like the fun was missing from rock’n’roll. The airwaves were ruled by bands specialising in the earnest, from posturing indie dudes to gloomy emo kids staring out from under heavy fringes. Then in 2003 The Darkness somersaulted into the charts and into the nation’s hearts; a spangly, spandex-wearing burst of joy that harked back to the heydays of 70s rock and glam while somehow sounding like a breath of fresh air. With their debut album Permission To Land they achieved mainstream success in a way that few rock bands have since – they had talent, a tongue-in-cheek attitude and oodles of dramatic flair. And you can’t get much more dramatic than a power ballad. “I really wanted to do a power ballad,” frontman Justin Hawkins says, laughing, of Love Is Only A Feeling from Permission To Land. “I think when you’re making an album, there should be one at the end of the first half and another at the end of the second half. That’s how Aerosmith albums used to be!” Taking cues from the likes of Aerosmith, Boston and Queen, Hawkins and co. set about creating the perfect power ballad for the age. The result was a lighters-in-the-air, guitar solo-packed anthem with a bittersweet message and a sound as huge as the music video that accompanied it (see boxout, left), all wrapped up in poetic lyrics. Writing it, Hawkins explored a different lyrical approach. “It’s a song about the nature of how love works,” he explains. “It’s about how wonderful love makes you feel, but also to have a word with yourself about the reality of it. Love’s brilliant, but watch out: words to live by. “In the early noughties it wasn’t cool to be talking about love in a brazen way [in music],” he continues. “A lot of people would allude to love in their lyrics, or have it be a metaphor for sex, but weren’t dealing with it head-on. We wanted to do it more from the heart – as opposed to the other organ!” In examining love in its romantic form, Hawkins turned to classic poets for inspiration, particularly with the lyrics:
Beach boys circa 2004: Dan Hawkins, Justin Hawkins, Frankie Poullain, Ed Graham.
THE FACTS RELEASE DATE March 22, 2004 HIGHEST CHART POSITION UK No.5 PERSONNEL Justin Hawkins Vocals, guitar Dan Hawkins Guitar Frankie Poullain Bass Ed Graham Drums WRITTEN BY Justin Hawkins Dan Hawkins Frankie Poullain Ed Graham PRODUCEd BY Pedro Herreira LABEL Must Destroy
Josh Todd The Buckcherry frontman on addiction, getting sober, tattoos and the death of rock radio. Words: Henry Yates Portrait: Jeremy Saffer
he turn-of-the-millennium rock scene might be painted as dour and drop-tuned, but that doesn’t square with the arrival of Buckcherry. Instant stars with their selftitled debut album in 1999, this was a band with all the classic hallmarks, from the sneering, sleazing riffs of hits like Lit Up to peacock frontman Josh Todd’s storied past as a raging addict. Fast-forward two decades and Todd is a reformed character, but the GN’R-meets-AC/DC crunch of Warpaint, Buckcherry’s eighth album, sounds as dangerous as ever.
Warpaint is a good album title. There’s a lot of meaning to the word. It’s a celebration. It’s about going into battle. Growing up I was fascinated with native Americans. I loved the warpaint they would put on. They would tattoo themselves – boys would tattoo themselves when they came of age, women when they were pregnant. I’ve been fascinated with heavily tattooed people since I was a little boy, and then I became heavily tattooed myself. This is kinda like my business suit. Do you have a favourite tattoo of the ones you have? My back piece. It’s a suicide king of hearts with a knife through his head. It hurt. You’ve said it frustrates you that Buckberry don’t get played on the radio much now. Yeah. Really frustrating. Because I write songs that you can remember. There’s this active rock radio format in the States. It’s very bland. It’s like listening to one song for forty-five minutes. There’s not a lot of diversity from band to band on rock radio. If you go back to the nineties, we had these incredible frontmen: Kurt Cobain, Layne Staley, Chris Cornell and Eddie Vedder and fuckin’ Zack De La Rocha. Every band had their own thing, and when you heard the song you knew it was the band. That’s something that has got lost in the 2000s. And that’s a huge reason why rock is in the place where it’s at. It’s not a mainstream thing. Which genres have taken over? I feel like all the rebels have gone to hip-hop, y’know? It’s like, hip-hop is where all the guys are who are doing crazy shit – they’re tattooing their faces, they’re having incredible success without record labels, they’re creating their own language and audience. And it’s really diverse and crazy and outlandish. I just watched the Cardi B Money video, and she’s got chicks with their tops off and it’s fucking crazy. I said to Stevie [D, guitarist]: “If anybody in rock did a video like this, they would fuckin’ be pummelled in the press.” So I hope rock will get more reckless, more outlaw, taking a lot more chances – and not so fucking teen-rated. What’s the song The Alarm about? It’s about the party, man. I see it in our audience when we play on Friday nights and people are done with their week. They want to let themselves go, forget about their personal and professional lives, let Buckcherry take them away for the night. 22 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
You’re on the road in Britain right now. Are we as stiff and polite as the stereotype? Not at the rock show. Everybody lets it all go. A lot of drinking, of course, that helps. As a former addict, are you able to be around that stuff without lapsing? Easily. And it’s because I’ve really worked on it. I’ve anchored a lot of things in my mind where I have very negative associations with me personally getting high, because it just equals jails, institutions and death. What was it like to interview you back in your wild days? I’ve been getting loaded since I was thirteen, y’know? At twentythree my first daughter was born, and I remember holding her that day, and I was at the bottom. I had no money. I was really run-down. At one point I’d gotten alcohol poisoning. I was a horrible alcoholic and drug addict. You wouldn’t even have recognised me. I needed help and I didn’t know how to do it. I got a DUI [Driving Under the Influence], I got arrested shortly after that. And I got court-ordered to all these Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. It was a blessing in disguise, y’know, and I’ve been sober for twenty-four years. You were a big LSD user. Do you still feel the effects? I feel like it’s affected me. It was probably, collectively, over a hundred hits of acid. I did a lot in high school. I was nineteen when I moved to LA, and I worked at this vintage clothing store, and that’s where I met Stevie. We partied a lot together and had this bright idea: “Fuck this job. Let’s take our last pay cheque, buy a sheet of acid and become acid dealers. That’ll be our money and then we’ll do music full-time.” And we literally did that. We got a hundred hits of acid for a hundred bucks, right? We put it in the freezer – because that’s what you do. And we tried selling it. But it was hard to sell acid in LA. Nobody was doing acid, they were doing all kinds of other shit. And we were broke. So to get high we started eating our supply – every day. There was a two-week period where I didn’t know when I was normal. I was always on acid. We would just drop a hit of acid and I’d bounce a fuckin’ cheque for beer. That’s how we rolled. Is there an expectation to be fucked up as a rock star? I wasn’t fucked up because of music, I was fucked up because I have a disease, y’know? It just runs rampant in my family. It’s hereditary, y’know, alcoholism and drug addiction. What form does your rebellion take now? It’s not really rebellion. I’ve just never been a guy who goes with the majority. I’ve been that way since I was a kid. I think Buckcherry is a unique-sounding rock band. I don’t think there’s anybody like us. Do I want to change people’s lives? I don’t know if I’m that crazydeep. But I want to have an effect on a lot of people. I want to be unforgettable. Warpaint is out now via Century Media Records.
Josh Todd in his “business suit”.
“I want to hav on a lot of peo e an effect to be unforge ple. I want ttable.”
Lovehoney: looking to stand out from the crowd, both musically and sartorially.
Lovehoney Get to know the Brooklyn four-piece making “sexy, heavy rock’n’roll” with soul, whose shows are about “giving somebody an experience”. Words: Polly Glass
Lovehoney stand out – and not just because they share their name with a British sex-toy company. With their mixed roots and a wardrobe that’s part urbanite chic, part Haight-Ashbury boutique circa ’67, they’re an invigorating break from the ‘white dudes in denim’ line-ups that tend to dominate rock. “I think that’s important, the little spice that we’re bringing to the table,” says singer Alysia Quinones, a Brooklyn native with Surinese heritage, Since forming in 2016 the band have made good on that premise, stirring their histories into loud, sweaty slices of bluesy rock’n’roll. If Howlin’ Wolf and Jack White had kids together, and fed them a load of Motown, they’d sound like Lovehoney. Try last year’s Dig This! and see. Ask them to describe their sound, however, and guitarist/talker-inchief Tommy White’s response is simple: “sexy, heavy rock’n’roll!”
It all started with Craigslist. White initially moved to New York to go to film school, but caught the music bug when The Strokes started to turn heads. Soon after, he saw neo-soul musician Cody Chestnutt on MTV, and his fate was sealed. “He was this black dude, and they said ‘Lenny Kravitz-meets-Al Green’,” White remembers. “That seemed interesting.” This led White to infatuations with noughties retro stars such as The Kills, the Black Keys and Jack White – influences the rest of the band share. He started working as a music technician at a rehearsal warehouse in Brooklyn called The Sweatshop. Eventually he placed an ad on Craigslist looking for a singer/writing partner. Quinones answered, and the pair wrote songs for two years before joining up with bassist Matt Saleh and drummer Tom Gelhaus. “Tommy and I had played in an R&B band,” Saleh says, “and we wanted to go heavier.”
Soul, hip-hop, metal, southern rock, early blues… Lovehoney’s influences are diverse. Growing up in Connecticut with a father from Alabama, the young White was fed jazz, Motown and Stax records. Saleh, from countrified “tobacco-chewing” beginnings in Connecticut, absorbed the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan, the Allmans and Black Sabbath, while Quinones came from a freestyle and hip- hop-heavy background in Brooklyn, and Gelhaus was raised in Queens on classic rock radio. “My first taste of rock was Otis Redding singing Satisfaction,” White recalls, “and I had no idea it was a Rolling Stones cover. That was my first idea of seeing how soul, blues and rock’n’roll gel together.” There are no bookends in this group. Jagger and Richards, Daltrey and Townshend, Tyler and Perry… Quinones and White are keen to follow in the footsteps of rock’s iconic duos, although not at the expense of their group dynamic. “I can be Steven Tyler!” Quinones pipes up at the mention of Aerosmith. “I’ve got the big mouth!” “So I’ll be Joe Perry!” White says, grinning. “I definitely don’t mind being Joe Perry. But Aly’s a brilliant writer, and Tom and Matt make what I do sound way better than it actually is. And that’s the thing, you need everyone in the band. All those classic bands – Zeppelin, Sabbath… – if you took away one part it would never be the same band.” Looks do matter. In a world that can feel overrun with identikit bands dressed in denim ’n’ plaid, Lovehoney look devastatingly cool. “You don’t wanna be in a band where somebody looks like my uncle,” White reasons. “Our
mission was to resemble those classic rock bands of the past where everybody looks amazing – you see a picture of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, or Led Zeppelin, everybody looks cool. You think of Kiss, even. I wanted everyone in the band to be a superhero.” They were banned from a venue in New York. “That was when Aly had her Lizard Queen moment!” White chuckles. “I lost my mind a little,” Quinones says, grinning. “I got into some words with the sound guy – I’m very vocal when I feel like someone is trying to get one up on me.” As word got out that they were “hot on the street”, the venue U-turned and welcomed them back. Which was just as well, given the impact of their sweaty, full-throttle live shows. “With a lot of bands in Brooklyn and New York City there’s no energy, there’s no fire on stage,” Gelhaus says. “But it’s [about] more than just performing, you’re giving somebody an experience.” Lovehoney are in this for the long haul. By day Quinones is currently a hairstylist, Gelhaus works in a restaurant and Saleh teaches special education. But with a new threetrack EP due in May and touring to follow, they’re clear about what they’d all rather be doing. “The goal for us is to able to record and play full time, and be a fulltime band,” says White. “Cos it’s not a hobby, it’s something we see ourselves doing for the rest of our lives.” Lovehoney are due to release an EP in May. For more information visit lovehoneymusic.com
After nearly 50 years, a brace of classic records, enough explosives to start a war and more make-up than a Boots warehouse, Kiss are calling it a day. Classic Rock joins the Gods Of Thunder on their private jet as they commence their farewell tour. Words: Jaan Uhelszki
black leather looking like four beasts disgorged from the underworld, and unleashed an unholy and entirely masculine creed of sex, braggadocio, innuendo and conquest, all delivered at a screeching 110 decibels and addressing every young man’s fantasies. While the band’s message has changed over the years (they’ve become more family-friendly and forswear any cursing during the show), they still attract legions of foot soldiers into the Kiss Army – even now, when they’re calling it quits in one final tour they’ve dubbed the End Of The Road. (They’ve attempted to trademark the term with the
US Patent office to prevent any other retiring bands from using it. Good luck with that.) So far, 71 dates are scheduled for North America, 26 for Europe and eight for Oceania, with plans to extend the tour until, probably, mid-2020. Back at the beginning, the band were fuelled by high ambition, an unrelenting will, a prodigious work ethic and only the most rudimentary of musical talents. But they not only changed the face of musical history by painting it in Stein’s Clown White, they also kicked off their own brand of revolution, putting music back in the hands of the ordinary people and turning it back into
ggy Pop claimed that he killed the 60s, but it turned out it was four semi-normal guys right off the streets of New York who really drove the final stake through heart of the peace-and-love decade nearly 46 years ago. Gene Simmons, a former elementary school teacher; Paul Stanley, a cab driver with a heartshaped face; Peter Criss, a sometime butcher and itinerant drummer who studied under the mighty Gene Krupa; and Ace Frehley, a gang membercum-liquor delivery man. They stormed out of a $40-a-month fourth-floor walk-up in New York’s Chinatown in their six-inch platforms and sweaty
Kissing on the street in New York City, April 1974: (l-r) Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Peter Criss.
“Gene and I feel much closer now. The war is over. Everything’s good. We won.”
in New York City. It was right at the beginning; they came about six months before us. Paul and I were in the back of the hall, and we had our big hair, trying to look cool, but nobody knew us. “The Dolls came on stage and we said: ‘Wow, they look like real rock stars.’ Then they started playing, and we looked at each other and, so help me God, I might’ve said it to him or he might’ve said it to me: ‘We’ll kill ’em.’ You could see the lust and the blood running from our mouths as we vowed: ‘We’ll fucking destroy them.’ “They had the swagger and everything else, but they just couldn’t play or sing; no harmony, the guitar playing was deficient. But boy they looked good. So Kiss was designed consciously as: let’s put together the band we never saw on stage.” By doing that, they created a band that no one else had seen on stage either. If you don’t count mid-career Alice Cooper. “They’re a good band. All these guys need is a gimmick,” Cooper commented dryly about Kiss in 1974. Kiss apparently took that comment to heart, and added more pyro, flash pots, firebreathing and gushing blood. Frehley had a guitar that shot flames, and Stanley was one of the first artists to hurl himself into the audience – and damn the greasy face-paint slathering over everyone, which became a badge of honour for fans. Audiences got them, but critics rarely did. Rolling Stone named them the Hype Of The Year in 1975, and legions of reviewers complained that they were “derivative”, “prosaic”, “simplistic” and mostly a joke, a band that catered to the lowest common denominator. It wasn’t until 2014 that Kiss made it to the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame, and then only after fans were allowed to vote.
a populist manifesto, picking up where Grand Maybe at the heart of it was that Kiss has always Funk Railroad left off by knocking rock music off been more than just a band. It was a state of mind; of its lofty perch, stripping it of its perfect hair, a place where feeling alienated was venerated, wrecked cool and tight velvet stovepipe pants. where boys were men, girls were groupies and Prior to Kiss, rock stars seemed to exist in some nobody ever had to turn down the volume. But distant Valhalla, breathing saffron-scented air, there’s something compelling about the egalitarian buying and wrecking ideal that anyone could do Aston Martins, imbibing what Kiss did. Kiss weren’t rare substances worth obviously handsome, rich, a king’s ransom and rarely cultured, preternaturally consorting with mere talented, advantaged or mortals unless they looked even art-school dropouts like supermodels or Beatle like their British wives. In short, rock stars counterparts, but the were not like the rest of us. implied message was that, But the members of Kiss given the right Paul Stanley were. They were a little circumstances and drive, unfinished. Outsiders, really, not the captains of anyone could become a rock star. the football team with a blonde cheerleader on But to be accurate, self-empowerment wasn’t their arm. Instead they more resembled the guy really their early mission. That was to be bigger who sat next to you in Advanced Mathematics than the New York Dolls! class. Meaning they were smart guys. Smart “Yes, that’s true,” says Simmons. “I remember enough to know their history, and figuring out it Paul and I went to see the Dolls play at a local thing was just about time for a sea change. “It was the mid-seventies, and people had had enough of the hippie, political thing and just wanted to have a good time,” Gene Simmons explained a few years ago. In the early days, Paul Stanley was fond of saying: “We are our fans.” While not exactly true, it was an appealing notion. These days he’s altered it a little, saying: “Our fans may not look like us but they can feel like us. I think that in our own way we’ve motivated people to, in their own way, be Kiss. Whether it’s to become a writer, whether it’s to become a country singer, whether it’s to become an attorney, you name it.”
They were always geniuses at self-promotion. Simmons had quite a bit of practice at selfinvention, having emigrated from Israel to New York as Chaim Witz at the age of eight. He became Gene Klein, and began the task of turning himself into an American kid. So fraught with psychic landmines was he that turning himself into the God Of Thunder wasn’t even a stretch. As for Stanley, he had no less gargantuan a task. “I was a fat, chubby, unpopular kid who disguised himself as a good-looking, cocky frontman in a band, and somehow turned into it,” says Stanley, who at 67 looks 20 years younger. “Hopefully we One of rock’s greatest double acts: Paul Stanley all find who we are and we become it.” and (inset) Gene Simmons. That self-actualisation, inspirational stuff came later – probably about the time he wrote his book, his hit Rock On, I found myself in New York with A Life Exposed, in 2017 – but there was a flicker of it a free night. Renowned Bowie photographer Leee around the time the Kiss Army started swelling in Black Childers had invited me to a panel he was 1979. An incipient fan club, it started as a grass-roots shooting for NARAS (the National Academy of affair in January 1975 by two Kiss fans. They would Recording Arts and Sciences) and identify themselves as the President and Field Marshal promised dinner afterwards. of the Kiss Army when they called their local radio I said yes, although it wasn’t station to request Kiss records. By the end of 1978, because I was intrigued membership in the Kiss Army topped six figures, that the panel was titled with merchandise revenues of $100 million a year. Superstar Or Superstud. It “We definitely tapped into something. And a lot was just the free dinner. of times we weren’t even aware of it, but we just kind I was hoping for the of went with it,” Frehley admitted in 2014. “I always Russian Tea Room. used to say when we were in our peak I felt like I was one of the first I was riding this roller-coaster and I was holding on to arrive at Columbia for dear life. A lot of the things I did were just on Records’ Studio B. instinct, whether it be my songwriting or how I dressed or things I did. Luckily I have good instincts.” But that wasn’t really true of Stanley and Simmons. They always had a plan for domination – world and otherwise – and stuck to it. Which is exactly why they are winging their way on a private jet to Glendale, Arizona, for the tenth stop on this final tour – and Frehley and Criss are not. Paul Stanley
PAUL: JEN ROSENSTEIN; TOP: CAMERA PRESS / LYNN L GOLDSMITH
“I was a chubby, unpopular kid who disguised himself as a good-looking, cocky frontman in a band.”
hile a Kiss admirer, I wasn’t there at the beginning. And when I did come face to face with these nightmarish figures in wobbly platform heels, abundant chest hair and aggressive face paint, it was by sheer happenstance. After covering a David Essex record-release bash on the heels of
There were just a handful of people sitting on folded chairs in a small room that couldn’t have held more than 30 people comfortably, but most of the psychic space was already taken up by four looming creatures in fetish wear, looking like warlords from the underworld. Criss wore a leather vest without anything under it, shivering in the windowless studio. Stanley was stripped to the waist, his chest hair curling menacingly, with a studded dog collar around his neck. Sitting next to him was Simmons, in more elaborate attire: a black leather jacket and pants with strategic holes cut out, and again a bare chest. Frehley was the only one fully covered up, in his futuristic spacesuit, his hair ratted out to there. At the time, it was impossible to know who was who; they had all switched their nameplates, except for Criss, who didn’t have one at all – a metaphor that would play out over the course of his tenure in the
The first meeting between Gene and Paul and Classic Rock’s Jaan Uhelszki.
“When I go out in the crowd on that zip-line, there’s this sense of being invincible. To be Superman with a guitar isn’t nothing.”
booth in their suits and ties and then coming out in full regalia, emerging from a subway with fists flourished, performing Herculean tasks in which these four not-so-superheroes saved the world from bland music by sabotaging a John Denver concert. I not unexpectedly titled it ‘Kiss KOMIX’. With that knife, I carved out a dubious niche for myself as the unofficial Kiss Editor. Over the decades I have continued to monitor that long-standing beat, although I have to say that when I look back I find I miss the era when Kiss were dangerous, inscrutable, inappropriate and just badass. There was a mystique about the band in those days. Stanley used to say: “I think we get so many groupies because everyone wants to fuck their fantasy or their nightmare. Someone in leather and make-up fucking you must be pretty strange.” It makes one wonder how many times the band members engaged in coitus while suited up. “It was God Of Thunder, from Destroyer, that turned me on to rock’n’roll, because Gene Simmons sang it,” remembers Babes In Toyland’s
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band. But on that chilly October night, Paul Stanley was Ace Frehley, Gene Simmons was Paul Stanley and Ace Frehley, impersonated Simmons with aplomb, aided no doubt by the large gin and tonic in a clear plastic cup before him, something Simmons, a lifetime teetotaler, would never partake of. Other participants on this forward-looking panel about sex and gender in rock included Danny Fields, a zeitgeist spotter who had discovered Iggy And The Stooges, signed the MC5 to Elektra Records and would go on to manage the Ramones; Wayne/Jayne County, the first transgender rock artist, and part of the Warhol crowd; Jerry Brandt, manager of rock’s second transgender figure, the disturbing Jobriath; industry publicist Connie De Nave; and Richard Robinson, husband of celebrity wag Lisa Robinson and notable at the time for producing Lou Reed’s first solo album. What struck me that night wasn’t the all-industry star-power gathered in a small room, but that each time the panel mediator, DJ Alison Steele, asked something of the members of Kiss, their reply was: “It’s only rock and roll, but I like it,” no matter what the question. Every single time. They had the sheer bad-boy audacity to not only not do what was expected of them, but also to flaunt it in the faces of what was then the music-industry glitterati. It was chilling how they never broke character once, no matter how awkward and non-sequitur their warned features editor Ben Edmonds. “And it canned answer was. These were monsters who better be fucking good.” oozed out a collective nightmare, and they were No matter the derision from my colleagues, hell-bent on staying that way for the entire I knew I was on to something. Recalling that old duration of the hoursaw from Victor long panel. Hugo written 121 Somewhere years before Kiss had around the ever picked up their 20-minute mark, first tube of lipstick I knew I had to get – “There is nothing them into the pages more powerful than of Creem magazine, an idea whose time where I was a senior has come” – I was editor. I thought they sure that idea had fitted right into our arrived, and that rebellious, thereit was wearing Paul Stanley wasn’t-a-rule-we’dblack leather. obey, fuck-you-if-you-can’t-take-a-joke aesthetic. That’s how I found myself a month later with It appeared I was the only one who thought that a craft knife in my hand, sitting in front of a pile of way. “They’re New York Dolls clones,” my fellow photographs of Kiss in make-up and civilian editor Lester Bangs said dismissively. “Comic-book clothes. In out-takes from the Dressed To Kill album trash,” spat Dave Marsh. “If you want those clowns cover, the band members were posed hiding their in Creem, you’re the one who’ll have to write it,” faces behind newspapers, piling into a phone
Kiss performing at the Calderone Theater, New York City, August 1975.
“Kiss? These guys? Never heard of ’em.”
“We have slightly different points of views about stuff. I think I’m more infatuated with myself than Paul is.” Gene Simmons
GENE: JEN ROSENSTEIN; TOP LEFT: GETTY; TOP RIGHT: CAMERA PRESS / LYNN L GOLDSMITH
Kat Bjelland. “It sounded heavy, mean and evil. Like his soul was being ripped out of his chest. It gave me the shivers.” Those were the days when Kiss were never photographed out of make-up, and kept bandanas in their pockets to quickly cover their faces in case lurking photographers actually figured out who they were. In 1975 I slapped on my own Stein’s Clown White make-up, studded cuffs, black leotard, plastic-encased spider-belt buckle and seven-inch stilettoes, and strapped on a red Fender to perform with the band during Rock And Roll All Night in front of 5,000 fans and the members of Rush. Never mind that my guitar wasn’t plugged in, I still got to feel what it was like to be a member of Kiss – or, as I noted at the time, that I was one-fifth of a sadistic cheerleading squad (although Stanley swore I looked like Minnie Mouse!). I called the piece I Dreamed I Was On Stage With Kiss In My Maidenform Bra, after a long-running print ad that depicted women in their underwear waking up in unusual places. But certainly none were more unusual than on stage in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, with Paul, Gene, Ace and Peter. The next morning after the show, we all said our goodbyes and Simmons offhandedly said to me as I walked out: “Whenever you feel like putting on the make-up again, give us a call.” hich is how I found myself 44 years later in their G-4 Gulfstream private plane on a late afternoon in February, the day before Valentine’s Day, sitting across from the God Of Thunder. “You still wearing your Maidenform bra?” Simmons greets me as I walk down the narrow carpeted aisle of the plane. He’s much more understated than years past, his face unlined, wearing a pair of black track pants, a long-sleeved denim shirt with three buttons undone, his trademark black wrap-around sunglasses that he wears day or night, a black oversized hoody, his immovable hair tied back and tucked up under
a black baseball hat emblazoned with the money bag logo – which he holds the trademark for, along with his signature where the two ‘S’s in his name are money signs. Simmons has applied for more than 182 trademarks including ‘Nude Car Wash’, ‘Trophy Wife’, ‘Sextacy’ and simply ‘?enis’. Of all of the ones he’s tried to register, he’s succeeded 44 times. And yes, he did score ?enis! Even in a #MeToo era, Gene Simmons will always be Gene Simmons. Although recently he has had to pay the price, because the times are different and he realises that he needs to move with them. There are few public incidents, like the one in 2001 when he appeared on Terry Gross’s PBS Fresh Air radio show, telling the august radio host: “If you want to welcome me with open arms, I’m afraid you’re also going to have to welcome me with open legs.” But in 2018 Simmons settled a lawsuit with a DJ in San Bernardino, California, who accused him of sexual misconduct during a November 2017 interview promoting Rock & Brews (a chain of restaurants Simmons and Stanley co-own), claiming he took her hand and kept depositing it on his knee, and peppered his answers with sexual innuendo. That came only weeks after Simmons was reportedly banished from appearing on Fox News owing to “inappropriate and sexist antics” during an office visit. In response to the ban, he issued the following statement: “While I believe that what is being reported is highly exaggerated and misleading, I am sincerely sorry that I unintentionally offended members of the Fox team during my visit.” “Yeah, these days I don’t even order room service if I’m by myself. I always need a witness,” reveals
The man becomes The Beast: Gene Simmons gets the slap on in 1974
The late Eric Carr.
“These days I don’t even order room service if I’m by myself. I always need a witness.”
by Elvis Presley at Cobo Hall in Detroit. “You were there with him?” asks latter-day guitarist Tommy Thayer, who began with the Kiss organisation after his Portland-based band Black N Blue disbanded in 1995. “We’d heard that story a hundred times, but we never knew that there was a witness to the first time Gene got high!” “We weren’t even sure it was true!” adds Singer. “So what was it like?” demands Thayer. “‘Dazed and confused’ doesn’t even begin to cover it!” I say, laughing. “What does?” asks Singer, urging for more, like a kid pleading for a bedtime story. It was the promoter’s birthday as well as a party for Kiss, so there was a giant birthday cake. But after it was cut, waitresses made the rounds with plates of chocolate brownies. “Don’t even think of having any of those,” I cautioned Simmons. “Why not? I love brownies,” he replied, a little querulously. “I know you love brownies. But just don’t. They’re hash brownies.” “Hash brownies?” He looked bewildered, as if trying to figure out why anyone would want to defile chocolate with drugs.
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Simmons, shaking his head and appearing “My schmeckle has been in a jar on the mantle “ genuinely hurt. But not especially contrite. for the past eight years,” he jokes. “Seriously, not I cleaned your pillowcase for you, Gene,” coos one other woman since I’ve been married,” he says, a leggy flight attendant named Kate who is poured emphasising each word. into her tight black shirtwaist dress embellished Although it doesn’t prevent him from looking. with her name and a very subtle Kiss logo. “I like girls,” he says ruefully. Later, when “I couldn’t get the stain out,” she pouts. a stunning blonde named Shana sidles up to him “Oh, that’s okay. We’re backstage at the venue, he men,” replies Simmons, shakes his head with puffing out his chest a little. exaggerated remorse, “He likes to be dirty. In pointing to his wedding band “ saying: “Too late.” more ways than one,” says and “Is there anything I can get Eric Singer, who overhears for you?” the fetching Kate the flight attendant as he asks Simmons as she walks into the plane, settling reappears, balancing a small in his seat. Drummer Singer tray with an array of pastries has been the Cat Man in the and chocolate confections. band since 1991, after Peter “I think I’ll have the Criss’s replacement, Eric Carr, Gene Simmons chocolate coffee cake,” he died of cancer. says. “I’ve always been a sucker for chocolate.” The innuendo about Simmons isn’t as pertinent “I remember,” I add. “But that one time you got as it used to be. A rock Lothario who claimed to more than you bargained for,” referring to the time have had sex with 4,987 women (and had the when I accompanied Simmons to a post-Kiss show Polaroid photographs to prove it), Simmons has bash the promoter had thrown for the band in ’74, been married to Canadian actress Shannon Tweed after they broke attendance records previously held since 2011 and has given up all that.
Deciding to disregard anything I had to say, he took a fistful of the brownies and devoured them. Three big fat ones, dusted with powdered sugar. “It was six brownies,” Simmons chimes in. “It was three,” I replied. “One would have put you over the top.” And that’s where he remained. Once the THC reached his bloodstream, it was like being with ET tentatively discovering the wonders of planet Earth, complete with long fingers outstretched to touch ordinary objects. “Are my feet as big as I think they are?” “Does my head look funny? Is it really small?”“ Why are my hands so big?” “Are my teeth shiny?” he worried, running a black chipped nail up and down over his front teeth. After leaving the party, on the way to the car he came out with a steady stream of questions, the border between what he was thinking and saying out all but demolished. “I need milk!” he suddenly bellowed, I’m sure louder than he meant. The driver seemed alarmed, but pulled into the only store that was open in Detroit’s inner city. Which by no means made it safe. More than a little seedy, it was inhabited by winos, late-shift workers and ladies of the night. When we entered the place, Simmons said in a carefully articulated but booming voice: “May I have a glass of milk, please?” I remember the man behind the counter as if it were yesterday. “We don’t sell glasses of milk, son.” “I don’t remember that,” says Simmons. “Mostly what I remember was how proud I was of the size of my… er, manhood.” “Funny, I don’t recall that at all. But then I didn’t have any brownies.” ’m not sure it’s hit me yet that this is the end,” Thayer says, after the plane is airborne. “After it all winds down, I bet that’s when fans will finally accept me,” he says laughing. “Or maybe miss me.” A genuinely nice man, Thayer is the bridge between the rock gods and mortal men. He started out a Kiss fan, cutting out photos of the band from rock magazines when he was 14, a skill that served him well when, after his previous band Black N Blue broke up, Simmons and Stanley asked him if he would consider being the photo editor for their 440-page, eight-anda-half-pound behemoth photo book KissTORY, which was published in 1995. “The first time I ever saw Kiss was in the back pages of Circus magazine in 1974, and I thought they looked amazing,” he recalls. “I’d sit around with my friends and draw pictures of Kiss.” After KissTORY came out, the band kept Thayer on, promoting him to tour manager when the one they had quit.
Kiss 2019: (l-r) Eric Singer, Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons and Tommy Thayer.
He re-taught Frehley and Criss their parts when the original band re-formed for the first reunion tour in 1996, and was on hand when the 2001 reunion tour fell apart. It was then that Simmons and Stanley asked him to become a permanent member of the band, much to his surprise. “When I’m on stage being the lead guitarist in Kiss, it’s a special place to be, because this is what every kid in the world dreams about doing and I’m the one that’s up there doing it,” says Thayer, at 57 the youngest member of Kiss. “Tommy is so nice it reeks,” Eric Singer says, laughing. “Paul and Gene call him Switzerland, because he usually just takes the middle ground on things.” “That is what they call me,” Thayer says when I look sceptical. “Paul usually sits in the back of the plane and Gene sits in the front, and I’m always in the middle, and I’m the intermediary. Sometimes I think I’m the glue that holds things together.” He stops suddenly, as if he’d said too much. While Simmons and Stanley insist that they have never been on better terms, they still ride in separate SUVs en route from the plane to the venue, and when they line up for photos at the meet-and-greets with fans the two never stand next to each other. “I think Gene and I feel much closer now,” insists Stanley. “Well we weren’t always, of
course. You know, ‘old too quick, wise too late.’ But there’s really very little that’s worth fighting about any more. There’s a whole lot to be happy about. If there ever was a war at times… ” he pauses a beat too long. “The war is over. Everything’s good. We won.” “When Paul and I met we recognised certain things that we had in common and other things that we didn’t,” Simmons says later. “He’s the brother I never had, and all those sorts of sound bites, but it’s kinda true. And I know it’s the same for him. What’s most different is we have slightly different points of views about stuff. I think I’m more infatuated with myself than Paul is,” he adds with a show of candour. tanley clip-clops out of his dressing room in his war paint, costume, heavy linked silver choker, truly magnificent mane of black hair and his heavy platform boots, picking his way around the tables of food to meet with David Butuk, Yvette Butuk and Ron Johnson, tonight’s Ultimate Fans from nearby Phoenix. For upwards of $6,500, fans can buy passes to meet their heroes, try on their regalia and chit-chat backstage with them. And now there’s a bittersweet aspect to the Ultimate Fan Experience, because this will be the final time Kiss will be in their city. Stanley walks up to the trio; at six-foot-eight in his platform boots he looms over them. “Without you, there’s no us,” he says, with such sincerity and conviction it’s hard to believe he’s said the same thing probably 10,000 times. Yet still it’s affecting. They pose for photos, Stanley wrapping a comradely arm around them, holding it there longer than he has to. He moves from that group to visit with a man whose son went to school with his son Evan, and then talks to a little girl who is eating a bowl of grapes and asks her for one. She complies, stretching a tentative hand towards Stanley’s scarlet mouth. “Where’s everybody else?” Stanley asks after a while, looking around for his bandmates. “Well, the first is the best!” he chortles, in a moment of transformation when you hear his indoor voice beginning to merge with his
“After it all winds down, I bet that’s when fans will finally accept me.” Tommy Thayer CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 33
thought that Paul was gay. And he’s okay with that. But don’t kid yourself, Paul isn’t gay. But he’s clearly comfortable wearing red lipstick and prancing around the stage or smacking his butt and all that. I’m not. Eric and Tommy get Kiss fans who appreciate them being in the band, but it’s less about personality. “As for females, the very pretty, model-y, attractive, thin, stylish women really like Paul. The very largebreasted, rounder ones love me. Some thinner ones, too, but mostly it’s the healthier women.” y the way, don’t I owe you one of my paintings?” Stanley says to me as he passes me in the hall. I wrote a piece on Stanley for issue 235 of Classic Rock in May 2017, and he told me if he liked the story he’d send me a painting of his that I’d admired on the wall of his Beverly Hills home. I just thought he didn’t like the story. “I promise I’ll send it when we get back home. It was the Jester, right?” “Yes, the Jester. Do you have to like this story too before you send it?” I ask unnecessarily – since I already know the answer. “Yes.” An accomplished artist whose paintings sell for $10,000 or more, he’s currently finishing a self-
portrait and paintings of his band members in make-up. He shows me a recent photo of one he’s finishing of Jimmy Page in the famous white satin zodiac suit he wore on stage during Led Zeppelin’s 1975 tour. While he’s sent Page a few of his paintings over the years, beginning with a haunting portrait of Robert Johnson titled ‘Crossroads’, it’s unclear whether this one of Page will remain with Stanley or not. It’s impressionistic, yet captures the dark fire and even darker secrets in Page’s angular face. Stanley has an uncanny ability to paint the inner person, with an almost supernatural insight, elevating his paintings from mere portraits. Is it too simplistic to think that that comes from wearing all that make-up and those elaborate costumes for the past 45 years? “You do know we don’t call them costumes,” Thayer tells me with a short laugh, when I ask him about a blue stone embedded in the breastplate of his regalia. “Oh, sorry.” “Maybe they used to call them costumes,” he continues, warming to the subject. “But now we call them outfits. It feels more genuine that way or something. “The new outfit was a conglomeration of several people. I think it really makes a statement, almost like an Iron Man kind of look, especially during the guitar solo – all of a sudden there’s a beam of light coming out of the chest, a real superhero kind of vibe.” Which begs the question:, when did Kiss actually get that promotion, elevating them from antiheroes and sex villains to superheroes? “We’ve been able pretty much consistently to keep going for about forty-five years,” says Stanley. “The longer you can continue and the longer you can remain seemingly ageless, the more omnipotent you become. You take on the aura of superhero because you don’t age, and you continue to maintain the same point of view. When I go out in the crowd on that zip-line, there’s this sense of
“It’s a lot of hard work to be in Kiss. All I can tell you right now is I won’t miss anything.” Eric Singer
PORTRAIT: JEN ROSENSTEIN; ERIC LIVE: JAY A GILBERT/PRESS; T GENE LIVE: GETTY
higher-pitched stage voice. “You got the meal, next you get the salad,” he says, and one immediately knows he’s talking about Simmons – primarily because none of the Ultimate Fans ever ask to try on Thayer or Singer’s boots or have personal photos taken with them. Simmons finally emerges from his dressing room in the bowels of the venue a much more harrowing presence than the other three. His costumes are more elaborate and nightmarish, the mammoth boots seemingly pulled from some Chinese warlord’s tomb, but his trademark topknot is not his own. “That is a tremendous-looking ponytail. It can’t be your own hair,” I say before I think better of it. “The answer is that the top half is an extension,” Simmons answers unabashedly. “The bottom half is me. And the reason for that is because I sweat like a pig. If it was just my hair, then it gets wet and falls down. It’s hair-sprayed a lot so it stands up. But about forty per cent of the topknot is fake.” “Just out of pure unabashed curiosity, since you answered that, when you meet someone can you tell they’re a Paul person, a Gene person, an Eric person or a Tommy person?” I ask Simmons after he’s posed with the three Ultimate Fans backstage. While not as touchy-feely or sincere as Stanley, he does make sure the Ultimate Fans have a memorable experience. “When I meet fans? Yes. They’re a certain body type and personality type. I’ll answer, but it’s horribly sexist: male or female?” “Both, of course.” I answer. “The big guys like me. The sort of guys who are more in touch with their feminine side, more stylish and so on, like Paul. It’s difficult to get a big football player who goes for Paul. I’ve noticed over the years they react to my sort of overtly heterosexual blahblah-blah. In the past, people have
Going out with a bang: Gene Simmons, Eric Singer, Tommy Thayer and Paul Stanley on Kiss’s final world tour.
being invincible. And that feels good. And in the end, to be Superman with a guitar isn’t nothing.” ou wanted the best! You got the best! The hottest band in the world!” booms the familiar introduction that’s begun every Kiss show since 1975. The sound reverberates through the thick concrete walls of the Gila River Arena, 43 years and 24 miles from the first time Kiss fired up their first flash-pot on an Arizona stage back in 1976. Nearly 19,000 of the Kiss faithful are gathered here as four metal discs that look more than a little like flying saucers are lowered from 150-foot rafters, depositing the quartet on their elaborate stage like invaders from a distant planet. Which in most ways they are. A Kiss show has been a spectacle since early days, but on this final run the pyro is bigger, the blood more excessive (these days it’s a mix of raw eggs, yogurt and food coloring), the effects more mind-boggling (it takes 17 trucks to haul the gear from city to city) the hydraulics more sophisticated. But through all the changes of equipment as well as band members, there is something reliably predictable about a Kiss show
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that transcends time, tastes and epochs, tapping into something almost religious, something taboo and tribal. “How ya all doin’?” Stanley asks in his stage voice, pitched half an octave above his normal speaking one. He minces across the stage, a swashbuckler in black, a beautiful creature with sinewy arms and only the smallest hint of a stomach under his cut-out glitterand-fringe vest. He dives into the first familiar chords of Detroit Rock City, beginning a two-hour, 20-song victory lap through the band’s signature anthems, including such fan favorites as Shout It Out Loud, Deuce and Cold Gin. “We’re gonna play all kinds of stuff for you!” screeches Stanley. And he’s right. Little is ignored as the band careens and mugs through the 70s and 80s with Psycho Circus, War Machine, Lick It Up and the disco-tastic I Was Made For Loving You. They even sneak in the little-played but stellar Say Yeah
from their nineteenth album, 2009’s Sonic Boom. Three-quarters of the way through the set, Stanley asks: “How about I come out and see ya?” He leads both sides of the auditorium in a bidding war to see where he should go, before snapping on a harness and zip-lining to a platform behind the sound desk to perform two songs facing the front of the stage. “This is a cool place to be,” he enthuses after the song finishes. “Because I can see Kiss!” What he could also see, if he looked more closely into the faces of the audience waving, pointing and jumping up and down to get his attention, are the tears streaking many of the made-up faces. Even if Stanley claims that this last run isn’t bittersweet, only sweet, most of these fan-faithful would disagree.
‘There is something reliably predictable about a Kiss show that transcends time, tastes and epochs.’
verything in life is a cycle,” says Eric Singer, on the plane back to Los Angeles after the show. “Naturally, you have to complete the circle. I remember Gene and I were sitting in Las Vegas looking at the stage set-up. Gene looked at me in a moment of reflection
Pyromaniacs: there are no half-measures when it comes to a Kiss show.
“We raised the bar. I don’t care if you’re McCartney or the Stones, you’ll have fireworks at your shows. And that’s because of Kiss.”
obsessive, like Captain Queeg and the strawberry incident from Caine’s Mutiny, it’s also very telling. “We’ve got this plane for a long time, why not keep it looking good,” he says. Which is pretty much what he has done with Kiss for the past 45 years, finally bringing them down for a landing sometime in 2020. “I think Paul is the driver of the car,” explains Tommy Thayer, strapped back in his seat after all the petals are picked up. “It’s like you all have to be in the same car. You all have to be going to the same destination. That’s how bands work if you’re going to maintain some level of sanity and success. But there’s only one steering wheel, and I don’t care if you’ve got a fucking eighteen-wheeler or however many people in your band, only one guy can drive the car. And that guy that mans that wheel has to really not only know how to drive that vehicle, he’s also got to know the road that he’s navigating. “Gene is the engine. Or maybe the gasoline,” Thayer continues. “No, I think Gene’s more the fuel,” he decides. “Gene is the fuel that helps drive that engine.” “Gas?” I offer, with a laugh. “I did not say that,” Thayer counters, a little tartly. “But the thing is, both of them got us where we are now. The only sad thing, now, when it’s almost over, is that people have stopped thinking of me as the new guy…” he says, staring out of the window into the darkness over the Arizona landscape 30,000 feet below… The End Of The Road World Tour reaches the UK on July 9. For tickets and info, go to kissonline.com
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and said: ‘You know, it really is time.’ And he’s the cavernous door of the Arena to a convoy of right. It’s a lot of hard work to be in Kiss. It takes cars waiting to take us back to the private airstrip a lot out of you. I’ll be sixty-one this year, Gene will where we’ll board the plane for the trip back to Los be seventy, Paul is sixty-seven. Tommy will be fiftyAngeles. By now it’s after midnight and officially St eight. We’re not kids. All I can tell you right now is Valentine’s Day – a rather Kiss-tastic holiday. I won’t miss anything. Not at all.” Taking advantage of the theme, the crew have “What will people miss when Kiss is gone?” decorated the cabin of the plane appropriately; Simmons asks rhetorically. “If you take it in the small trays have been ornately set up with pristine context of life as we know it on earth, there’s not white china plates, crystal goblets and snowy white a whole lot that’s important. You have brave men tablecloths. An array of treats are scattered artfully and women who put on uniforms and go to fight over the tables: foil-wrapped chocolate truffles, wars to protect freedom and little sugar hearts, a single red die on the battlefield, and rose. Containers with the that’s a real thing. So in that dinner we all ordered are context we’re not very now set in the middle of each important. Kiss is sort of tray. Additional rose petals like sugar. On one hand, are strewn across the trays, sugar is fun, tastes good, but in the turbulence during and makes you happy. When the flight some of them have you stop sugar, you’ll miss it. fallen on to the plane’s Maybe that’s what it is,” he carpeted floor. says quietly. About to open up my “But I do know we raised container, I see Paul Stanley the bar in terms of what you making his way toward the can expect now from bands. front of the plane. I figure I don’t care if you’re he’s coming to sit down at Gene Simmons McCartney or the Stones, one of the tables. But it turns you’ll have fireworks at your shows. And that’s out that’s not on his mind. because of Kiss, not Air Supply. That’s our “Pick up those petals!” he admonishes, frowning contribution. When that’s gone, that’s gone.” as he looks down at the rather tasteful grey flooring. “They’ll stain the carpet.” fter the final confetti has been shaken Taken aback, I think he’s kidding, and start to loose and all the make-up has been giggle, but clearly he is not. So I bend down to sponged off, and all the equipment and gather up the errant petals and catch Tommy hydraulics have been put back into their cases and Thayer’s eye and try very hard not to let the hint of hauled out to the waiting trucks, we file through a laugh escape. While Stanley’s demand is a little
He’s one of the world’s most successful musicians, but most people wouldn’t recognise Dire Straits founder Mark Knopfler in the street or on the London Underground. And he likes it that way. Words: Dave Everley
“When I played the O2 [in 2015], I got the Tube. Said hello to a lot of people.”
starting pistol on the CD era and went on to sell more than 30 million copies. Knopfler himself has long been a go-to collaborator for music’s A-listers – Bob Dylan, Rod Stewart and old mate Sting, and younger bucks The Killers and The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach have called on him to lend his inimitable guitar playing and, less frequently, laconic vocals to their albums. Knopfler is here today to talk about his own album, Down The Road Wherever. He arrived alone, a few minutes early, having walked from his manager’s office, wearing a thick jacket and woolly beanie hat that serve more to keep out the cold than render him unrecognisable as one of the most successful musicians Britain has ever produced. Even without the beanie you have to squint to see the scrawny guitar slinger he once was (the toweling headbands were retired years ago, the last wisps of hair shaved to the skull more recently). He’s warm and friendly, but sometimes drifts off into vagueness. It’s not entirely clear whether that’s what he’s like or if it’s a polite way of avoiding talking about subjects he doesn’t really want to go deep into. Like Dire Straits. Much like the man who made it, Down The Road Wherever is modest and assured at the same time. It glides between the windswept Celtic rock of Tracker Man and Drovers Road to the Mersey Delta blues of Just A Boy Away From Home (Knopfler is a lifelong Newcastle United fan, but the latter references Liverpool’s terrace anthem You’ll Never Walk Alone). The album’s title comes from a line in his song One Song At A Time, itself inspired by something Knopfler’s great hero Chet Atkins used to say. “Chet and I got to be got to be good friends,” says Knopfler. “I think he took pity on me because I was
everal years ago, Mark Knopfler was “Why would I do that?” he says, looking riding his motorbike not far from his genuinely baffled. “Two wheels. There’s no other home in central London when he was way to get around London. Except the Tube. When sideswiped by a car. The impact sent I played the O2 [in 2015], I got the Tube from him spinning, smashing his bike and South Kensington. Said hello to a lot of people. breaking his collarbone and seven ribs. His injuries They were very nice.” could have been worse, but they were still serious raveling on the Tube to his own arena gig enough to make a man whose entire career has seems like a very Mark Knopfler thing to been built on playing the guitar worry if he would do. The Glasgow-born, Newcastle-raised ever be able to pick up the instrument again. 69-year-old is the least starry megastar you’ll ever “I had what they called frozen shoulder,” meet. And ‘megastar’ isn’t overstating the case, not Knopfler says today. He mimes stiffly attempting if you’re going by numbers alone. Dire Straits were to hold a guitar. “I couldn’t get a Fender in. the biggest-selling British band of the 1980s. Their Apparently if you’ve got a broken collarbone your fifth album, 1986’s Brothers In Arms, fired the body stops it working. I asked the doctor how long it would last. He said: ‘I don’t know. Could be a short time, might not come back at all. Good luck.’” He chuckles, which he does often. “That was quite scary.” The fact that Knopfler has just released his ninth solo album, and he’s currently sitting here in a discreetly classy West London restaurant talking about it, is a large spoiler as to what happened next: the ensuing course of physical therapy worked, his This could be the start shoulder unfroze and he picked up of something big… Knopfler with Dire where he left off with both his guitar Straits in Rotterdam, and his bike. October ’78. But the drama of the crash isn’t really the point here. It’s the fact that Mark Knopfler – who as the former leader of Dire Straits and subsequently a successful solo artist has sold upwards of 100 million records and was recently estimated by the Sunday Times Rich List to have amassed a fortune of £75 million – was pootling around central London on a motorbike when he could have called up a gleaming chauffeured limo to transport him in considerably more style and with considerably less peril.
DEREK HUDSON / PRESS
MARK KNOPFLER Mark Knopfler with pre-Dire Straits band the Cafe Racers.
Dire Straits – (l-r) John Illsley, Mark Knopfler, Jack Sonni – and Sting performing Money For Nothing at Live Aid at Wembley Stadium, July 13, 1985.
a picker. Anyway, one day he was telling me about his childhood, which was very tough; not having a coat to go school in, having to walk to school, his family were very poor. And he said he picked his way out of poverty one song at a time. It just stuck in my mind.” The phrase resonated with Knopfler. He may not have grown up in abject poverty, but there was little spare money around when he was young. “Everything went on the house and feeding the family,” he says. “There wasn’t much left afterwards. It took a while to convince my dad to part with fifty quid for this electric guitar I wanted. And once I got it I realised I needed to buy an amplifier. I couldn’t ask him for an amp as well, so I wired up an old Marconi radio – and blew it up in short order. And then I used to torture my poor mum and dad. After they go to bed at night I’d be downstairs thumping away in this little house. Were your parents supportive? “Yeah, really they were. When you consider the fact that popular music was looked down upon by respectable society. There were no guitar lessons in 40 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
school. It was frowned upon: ‘Knopfler, I might have known you’d be involved in this [disparaging voice] rock and roll, boy.’” nopfler may have been an early adopter when it came to rock’n’roll, but it would be a long time before rock’n’roll paid the bills. PreDire Straits, he worked as a local newspaper journalist (one early job was writing a Jimi Hendrix obituary), taught English at a college in Essex, got married, passed through a handful of pub-rock bands and shuttled between the North and the South. He was 28 by the time he formed Dire Straits with his younger brother David and bassist John Illsley. The latter pair shared a rundown flat in Deptford, South London, which became the band’s HQ.
“Oh, Deptford really was an armpit back then,” says Knopfler. “The flat that John and David shared and I started living in once I came down to London was condemned. The only reason they didn’t pull it down was that they were so well-built. There’s a plaque on the door there now. It’s amazing nobody’s stolen it.” Dire Straits arrived at a time of flux. Pub rock had been superseded by punk, at least in the capital. But the cultural shift wasn’t quite as brutal or overwhelming as history has it. The band swiftly carved out a place for themselves on the late-night circuit. Was it a romantic time? “No, it wasn’t particularly, but it was a thrill to be part of all that,” he says. “It was completely absorbing for me. It was the first time I got a thing with four wheels on it that I could actually put my songs on to. That’s all I was looking for.” Dire Straits’ first single, in 1978, was Sultans Of Swing, a taut slice of South London choogle that told the tale of a semi-fictional jazz band stubbornly papering over their hopeless prospects. The song’s vivid but sympathetic narrative showed that this one-time English lecturer was among the most underrated lyricists of the era. Unlike the band in the song, Dire Straits’ prospects were bright. Within six months the
“People have used Coming Home from Local Hero for births, marriages, the whole thing.”
ADRIAN BOOT; GETTY; REX/SHUTTERSTOCK; DEREK HUDSON/PRESS
Knopfler in 1981.
Dire Straits backstage at London’s Marquee club in 1978: (l-r) John Illsley, Mark Knopfler, David Knopfler, Pick Withers.
“If you write the songs, sing them, play them, then you have [control of the band]. I absolutely revelled in it. ”
Bob Dylan and Knopfler performing at the Zenith Grand Arena in Lille, France in 2011.
Desk job: Knopfler at his beloved sudio.
“I would recommend success to anybody. It’s wonderful. If you can think of something good about fame, I’d like to know.”
have been worshipped and deified as children who are undamaged? Do you know any? It’s a very small list, your honour. I’d already done loads and loads of jobs by that point. If you haven’t unloaded a lorry, you can never quite come to grips with reality. You have to know what work is like. And know what’s in people’s heads.” Did you know you were going to be successful when you started Dire Straits? “No, not really. Occasionally you might get one or two people saying: ‘Hey, man, you’ve really got it.’ But you can’t let all that stuff go to your head. The other thing is, if you’re in the eye of the storm you’re cushioned inside it.” eceived wisdom is that Knopfler seized control of Dire Straits around the time of their third album, Making Movies. It certainly caused tension between him and his brother David, who quit during sessions for the album. “Always had it,” Knopfler says today, meaning control of the band. “If you write the songs, sing them, play them, then you have it. I absolutely revelled in it. I still do.
MAIN: JOBY SESSIONS; INSET: JADE GABIN/DALLE/ICONICPIX
song had made the Top 10 on both sides of the Atlantic. For the 28-year-old Knopfler, the fact that success had taken so long coming was a blessing in disguise. “When you’re eighteen you think you’re the centre of the universe. And unfortunately you go round behaving like you are.” Were you guilty of that? “I don’t believe so, because at twenty-eight it’s very different. And I don’t think I’d have been allowed to. You can’t come from where I come from and get away with that. It tickles me sometimes, reading what people do when they’re young because it’s part of that rock’n’roll dream – being successful, being too young to cope with it. Sometimes I look into the faces of kids who are nineteen or twenty-two or something, and I’ll try and see them twenty-five years ahead, try to imagine what’s going to happen them. [Sighs] But then you can’t really know what will happen. Being the age I was, that means everything. If I’d been eighteen I’d have been dead.” Really? “How many people do you know who
I feel so comfortable. It’s like being in charge of a little fighting ship. It suits me down to the ground.” Calling Dire Straits “a little fighting ship” is like calling Brexit “a little bit of a distraction”. Between their debut album in 1978 and Brothers in Arms eight years later they went from the back rooms of London’s pubs to the arenas and stadiums of the world. Knopfler and John Illsley were the sole constant members throughout that time. But somewhere along the way, success turned Dire Straits turned into a chore. Knopfler disbanded the group temporarily in 1987, following an exhausting tour in support of Brothers In Arms. He reunited them for 1991’s little-loved On Every Street, then disbanding them permanently a year later. “I was burnt out. Shredded,” he recalls. “I remember being in Amsterdam, lying on my bed, feeling like somebody had pulled all the wool out of me. You become conscious of a reversal. You’re a songwriter, you’ve been looking at the world, and suddenly all the world’s looking at me now. It’s actually a false impression, because the world doesn’t give much of a crap about you. I learned pretty quickly that a majority of people don’t really care about the music that much.” Since disbanding Dire Straits he has pursued a career that has seen him alternate between solo recordings and appearances on an entertainingly random array of other people’s records, of whom John Fogerty, Weird Al Yankovic and US artrockers the Dandy Warhols are just a few. But the one thing he continues to show zero interest in is reassembling the band with which he made his name. When Dire Straits were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2018, he was noticeable by his absence. Asked why he wasn’t there, his answer is politely but vague. “My manager Paul Crockford and I, we see eye to eye on a lot of things. Somebody called him up and arrogantly told him what was going to happen, what day it was, who would be playing, and afterwards how we’d go and talk to the press…’ You can’t talk to somebody like Paul like that. You can’t talk to someone like me like that [trails off]. It’s a very nice recognition, I’m sure. It’s bigger in America. It’s not very British, is it?” You seem to have an ambivalent view of Dire Straits these days. Are you proud of what you did? “Of course I am. I’m proud of those songs. I wrote them and I’ll still play them. They’re signposts for people’s lives. If I play Brothers In Arms, you better believe it means so much to people.
Knopfler and country star Chet Atkins performing at The Secret Policeman’s Ball at the London Palladium, March 1987.
Knopfler performing at London’s Royal Albert Hall in May 2013.
People have used Coming Home, from Local Hero, for births, marriages, the whole thing. A bloke told me the other day his indulgence is being in the car on his own so he can listen to Telegraph Road twice. “These songs walked away from me long ago. They belong to you now. I feel very privileged to be able to play them for people. But at the same time you’ve got to try and protect yourself from being a cabaret thing.” here’s a song on Down The Road Wherever titled Good On You Son. On it, Knopfler sings about an ex-pat Brit who has swapped the ‘grimy sink estate’ where he grew up for the lemon trees, freshly ground coffee, business meetings and ‘sun and shameless blue’ of Los Angeles. In anyone else’s hands it would come over as a sneery and loaded with a kind of inverse snobbery. But that’s not Knopfler’s style. Instead the over-riding emotions are admiration and respect. “It’s a composite in my mind of anybody who has made something for themselves,” he says. “People wrinkle their noses in disgust when they hear that John Lydon is doing a butter ad. I just think: ‘Good on you, son.’” Why? “Because he’s pulled himself out of shit [laughs]. One ad at a time. It’s so easy for people to judge.” But you’ve written about the people who haven’t made it, too, like the band in Sultans Of Swing. “It’s a big thing.” Who do you identify with most, the success stories or the failures? “Well I’m very much a glass-full personality. I admire grit. Having the desire to stick with
something. I remember when I walked out of the shop with my first guitar, the old guy said: ‘Stick at it.’ So I did. And it was hard. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to play, but it’s difficult. Cos your fingers don’t want to go to those places. The body doesn’t always answer what you ask it.” Do you enjoy being famous? “I would recommend success to anybody. It’s wonderful. If I show you my studio [British Grove, in East London] you’ll understand what I’m talking about. The studio is an illogic these days. But I don’t want a jet or a boat. “Fame is something different. That’s a by-product of success. Fame’s the exhaust – all the crap that comes out of it. If you can think of something good about fame, I’d like to know.”
What will you do with the down time? “I still have rather foolish ambitions to undergo a course of study.” Of what? “The guitar. Not a structured music lesson, just somebody that comes round and rings the bell and gives me a little thing to think about.” He looks wistful for an instant. “Probably a jazz-based player. I actually hold it like I’m fixing a truck tyre. I play like a plumber.” It sounds faintly ridiculous to hear one of this country’s most successful, and acclaimed, guitar players talking like this. But then this is Mark Knopfler, and flash and ego is someone else’s job. Earlier he talked about one of the proudest moments of his life. It wasn’t receiving his umpteenth platinum disc for Brothers In Arms, or being Bob Dylan appointing him as his musical director, or being in a position to ignore the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. “It was after a gig. I don’t remember where it was or where I was going, but this bloke just stopped me in a corridor. He said: ‘I want you to know that I was suicidal before I came out tonight. It took my friends to drag me out. But after seeing you, I just want you know to know I’m going on.’ He smiles again. “That was wonderful. I’m a lucky, lucky man.”
“I learned quickly that a majority of people don’t really care about the music.”
nopfler isn’t sure how long he can keep doing this. He’s not talking about anything so dramatic about retirement – as well as Down The Road Wherever, he’s also working on songs for a musical version of the 1984 film Local Hero, for which he composed the music. It’s more about scaling things back in terms of road work. “You do three things – write, record and tour,” he says. “And you get to an age where touring becomes the first casualty. I used to play six nights a week. Now I’m down to probably three. I love it. But I’ll have to stop some time.”
Down The Road Wherever is available now via Universal Music. CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 43
One is a former teenage prodigy, the other has a day job in Jane’s Addiction. Both have seen some dark times – and the light. Classic Rock sits down with guitarists Eric Gales and Dave Navarro and meets “two junkies of the worst kind”. Words: Richard Bienstock Photos: Justin Borucki
GALES & NAVARRO
eyond the fact that they both play guitar – and do so very, very well – Dave Navarro and Eric Gales wouldn’t seem to have much in common. But stick the Jane’s Addiction guitarist and the Memphis bluesman together in the penthouse of a swanky downtown Manhattan hotel and you’ll be amazed how quickly a shared history reveals itself. “Damn, dude!” exclaims Navarro, just seconds after bursting through the door of Classic Rock’s three-bedroom, two-bath high-rise spread at the Dominick Hotel in SoHo. He plops himself down on an armchair and takes in the bird’s-eye view out of the floor-to-ceiling windows: the Hudson River and New Jersey (where later he’ll be heading to film an episode of tattooing competition reality TV show Ink Master) to the west, all of Manhattan clear up to Central Park to the north. “Two junkies of the worst kind, and look where we’re sitting because of music.” He beams at Gales. “Top of the fuckin’ world!” And there, it would seem, is our story – and it’s a story the pair will delve into in unflinching terms during the next hour’s conversation. But make no mistake, this is also just one of many tales that link Navarro and Gales. Another would be what brought these two together in the first place. For the answer, flash back a few years to when Navarro found himself, as most guitar-heads do from time to time, poking around on YouTube and “deepdiving on music”. Which is when he came across a live clip of Gales, right-handed guitar flipped over lefty, eyes squeezed shut and fingers splayed across the fretboard, tearing it up on a club stage somewhere in America, just as he’s been doing for close to three decades now. “I was like: ‘Where did this guy come from?’” Navarro says. “‘And how does the whole world not know about Eric Gales?’” For a minute, the whole world almost did. Gales burst on to the scene in the early 90s as a teenage phenomenon – he was just 16 when his major-label debut, The Eric Gales Band, was released on Elektra in
1991. Almost immediately, his fiery blues-rock-onsteroids style brought comparisons to Jimi, Stevie Ray and other untouchable guitar icons. And the praise was not without merit. But Gales’s flameout came early. Blame it on a mix of youth, fame, record-label tensions, outsized pressures and expectations, just life itself. He never really stopped performing or recording, but he travelled down a dark road. “Twenty-plus years of some hard doping, pistols, prison, everything you could think about,” he says. “Folks dying in my arms, shooting at people, all that type of shit.” Fast-forward to the present, and Gales’s bleak past is firmly behind him, as exemplified by his excellent new album The Bookends. “It’s a whole other level,” he says of the record. This is music that is steeped in Gales’s blues and gospel roots, and studded with some of his most soulful singing and hot-wire guitar playing of his long career. “At my core I am a blues guitar player,” he says. “But there are also many other facets of my music. I am a blues guitar player-plus.” Which is what led Navarro – a born-and-bred LA kid who, with Jane’s Addiction,
erupted out of the mid-80s Sunset Strip scene playing an explosive musical cocktail of hard rock, punk, art-rock and psychedelia (with more than just a bit of Hendrix-style guitar flash thrown in for good measure) – to fall so hard for Gales’s playing in the first place, despite their decidedly dissimilar origins. “It was just the craftsmanship and the honesty,” Navarro says. “And also the showmanship. I was watching Eric play and it was like, ‘Man, this guy can do anything.’ And then he also puts on a show like nobody’s ever seen. “But then when I would ask people: ‘Who are your favorite guitarists?’ I would never hear them say: ‘Eric Gales’,” he continues. “So I want to spread awareness, you know? And in doing that, people can then hear Eric’s message. Because it’s not for me to tell them his message, it’s for him to tell. But I’ll happily show them where the message is.” “You might have started an epidemic,” Gales says, “and I appreciate that.” Navarro laughs. “Well, just make sure I get my percentage!” Let’s quickly finish up the origin story between you two. Dave, after first discovering Eric on YouTube, you not only started talking to other people about him, you also sent out a tweet: “How Eric Gales isn’t the hugest name in rock guitar is a total mystery.” Dave Navarro: I did. Because I watched that clip
“When I play it’s a vast emotion of everything – of shit that I’ve been through, of shit I’ve overcome.” Eric Gales.
…and Eric Gales, shot exclusively for Classic Rock, February 2019.
and I was like, ‘This is just the stupidest thing ever.’ And then I looked at Eric’s discography, and how extensive his career is and the artists he’s worked with, and I was just like, ‘What the fuck?’ And what’s crazy is I didn’t know him – and I’m a guitar player! You would think that with something as culturally important as Eric’s contribution is to music he would be known as one of the best. Eric Gales: For me, the moment that tweet went out… I mean, it took like half a day before people were hitting me up from all over the world. And the funny thing is, when we finally met, I thought I had actually met Dave before, through this AA meeting. And I asked him: “Dude, have you ever been in a relationship with Janet Jackson?” Because at the time she was with a dude that I thought was him – same build, same look, same-style hat, same this, that and everything. I was like: “Yo, I thought that was you!” DN: [Laughing] He was excited because he thought he had an ‘in’ to the Jackson family! Eric, I remember seeing you perform with the Eric Gales Band on [US late-night talk show] The Arsenio Hall Show back in 1991, just as you were first taking off. EG: I was on that show five times, as a matter of fact. And then Carlos Santana went on, and Arsenio asked him: “Who do you think is the baddest motherfucker?” And he said: “This sixteen-year-old kid out of Memphis, Tennessee.” And that just blew it up. DN: Was that before you had a dark spell? EG: It was. I would say shortly after, when I got around seventeen, eighteen-ish, I started to get into some things.
DN: Good for you! I would imagine for a guy like you a regular condom’s a little suffocating [laughs]. EG: Bro, I mean, I was born in the seventies but I still say I haven’t used a condom since the late sixties. And it’s the truth! I’m very fortunate that I haven’t wound up with a bunch of kids or any debilitating diseases or anything like that. Cos I went raw all my life. Like, straight raw. I mean, I’m raw dawg as in: “This is who you’re getting, butt-naked, personality-wise, no sugarcoating. This is me.” When I was doing cocaine, my whole motto was: “Look, I do blow. I don’t give a fuck whether you like it or not. And if you don’t like it, you Dave Navarro can roll. I’m going to sit here and get high as a motherfucker.” DN: I feel you. Because I was like that too. When you’re in that state it’s so easy to justify anything you want to do. Because it’s like: “Hey, man, if you can’t accept me, that’s on you.” But back to the rap stuff… EG: I was glamourising and promoting nothing but getting high as hell; talking about doing a halfounce of blow with a full table of Xanax with a gallon of cough syrup. And that helped my downward spiral even more.
t this point, Gales turns towards a window, gestures to the Manhattan skyline and relates a story of how his troubles began right here in this city. In short, after recording the second Eric Gales Band album, Picture Of A Thousand Faces, his label Elektra brought him and his band into a meeting and rejected it, sending them back into the studio to re-do some of the tracks. Gales was 17 at the time. “Being a kid, that devastation is quadrupled,” he says. This led Eric – and, consequently, also leads our conversation – down a very particular path.
EG: I went back home to Memphis devastated. And you know, Memphis is known for its rap culture, all that stuff like [hip-hop group] Three 6 Mafia, who I’m very good friends with. So here’s another side of life that people don’t know: I was heavily involved with the rap world, and I started putting out mix tapes and stuff under another name. DN: I know that name. It was… Don’t tell me… It was something kind of alarming, right? EG: Raw Dawg. DN: That’s right! Raw Dawg! But let me ask you: did ‘raw dawg’ mean then what it means now? EG: Exactly.
“He’s basically a black Dave Navarro and I’m basically a white Eric Gales.”
GALES & NAVARRO
Gales & Navarro: policing the streets of New York City.
DN: Going back to what you were saying earlier about being devastated, I get it. I went down that road with one of my records, where all these hands from the label got on it and pushed back on me. And all of a sudden it’s getting remixed and this guy’s coming in and that guy’s coming in… I know what that pain is, to pour your heart and soul and everything you have into what you believe in, and then have someone come in and tell you it’s not good enough. And that’s real good ammunition to go and be selfdestructive. You’re like: “Hey, man, I revealed myself with all my purest intentions and I got abandoned. Now what do I do?”
hese days Navarro and Gales are both staunchly sober. Over coffee and sparkling water, the two discuss the ups and downs of rehab, with Navarro joking about an idea he had earlier that day for a “rehab punch card,” with the tenth stay free. “You’d sell a million of ’em in Hollywood!” he says. This leads to a discussion about music and performing, and a statement Gales made in the past that when he’s on stage it’s as if he’s “spontaneously combusting”.
“When I was doing cocaine, my motto was, ‘Look, I do blow’. If you don’t like it, you can roll.”
EG: That’s how it feels. When I’m playing it’s a vast emotion of everything – of shit that I’ve been through, of shit I’ve overcome. It’s power that’s coming through me. I’m just the conduit, and I believe that the big man upstairs has chosen me as one of the vessels to relay the message in human-being form: “This is what music can do”.
Both of you went through some heavy drug periods, but you never stopped playing music. How would your substance abuse affect your Eric, what was the turning on-stage performance during point for you in getting sober? those times? EG: Winding up with the right DN: Well, there were nights that Eric Gales person. My wife [LaDonna Gales, I thought I was on… and then who also performs as a backing singer with Eric I heard the tape back [laughs]. and acts as his manager] showed me that EG: The same for me. Those would be the everybody in this world can love you, but it don’t times that I would be really hard on myself after mean a damn thing if you don’t love yourself. And the show. Then I’d get depressed and I’d go get high that’s very, very powerful. That resonated with me. even more. DN: And if you go all the way back to the DN: I learned a secret from Billy Corgan years ago: beginning, to when he was a kid and had been when you have that kind of night, just tell yourself wronged and had been hurt by people that he had it was an ‘art show’. put his trust in, now he has a person who sees him EG: Yeah, well it got to the point where I was for who he is. having way too many ‘art shows’! 48 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
Wow, you’re good, Dave. You. Are. Good. DN: [laughing] I’m gonna have this straightened out by the time we’re done here. [Turns to Gales] You’ll be cured! You guys have such an easy rapport. What’s at the core of your relationship? DN: There are certain guys – and Eric’s one of them – where there’s just an authenticity. His music is authentic because there’s a real story that’s being channelled through it. And then there’s the fact that he’s been through his stuff and I’ve been through my own darkness. We have the shared history of our lifestyles. And I can say that what saved me is what we share in common: our passion for music. So we just connect on this very deep level. I don’t even know if he’s familiar with my work, to be honest. EG: The truth? I hadn’t even heard any of Dave’s music when I first saw him, but I was like: “This is a cool-looking dude!” [Turns to Navarro] I’m very secure in my manhood, but I just want you to know that [laughs]. DN: Maybe that’s the connection. Because I think he’s a good-looking dude. And I think the reason we think that about each other is because he’s basically a black Dave Navarro and I’m basically a white Eric Gales. EG: Even down to the hats. It’s perfect. I see a buddy-cop movie in your futures. DN: I do too! We could take down crime in this city, make it right, finally. You know what keeps me going, Eric? Doing the job. Every day. Day after day. Week after week. Just doing the job. The Bookends is out now via Provogue/Mascot.
With their 1972 album Foxtrot and its epic centrepiece Supper’s Ready, Genesis’s ‘theatrical rock’ developed into beguiling, bombastic, Mellotron-steeped magnificence. Steve Hackett, Mike Rutherford, Tony Banks, Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel look back at the making of a prog classic. Words: Chris Roberts 50 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
“We were under way, we were heading somewhere different. Foxtrot was where we started to become significant.” Tony Banks
he foxtrot, which arrived almost a century ago – is usually defined as a smooth dance of long, continuous, flowing movements. Genesis’s Foxtrot album, which arrived almost 47 years ago, certainly has its long, continuous flowing movements, and much else besides. Today it sounds as unique, dramatic, thrilling and ambitious as ever. It’s where the classic line-up of the band came fully into being; it’s when they realised how much they could do, how far they could go.
“It was about creating a film for the ear rather than the eye,” says guitarist Steve Hackett. “And it even got to number twelve in the charts,” keyboard player Tony Banks says with a laugh. “Of course, the next week it went down to number twenty-seven or something. But it was our first moment of scoring anything, so we felt that we were under way, that we were heading somewhere different. Foxtrot was where we first started, in my opinion, to become significant.” While all the tracks on the album are
Then there were five: (l-r) Steve Hackett, Mike Rutherford, Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Tony Banks.
strong and inventive, Foxtrot is unavoidably dominated by the 23-minute, seven-part Supper’s Ready suite which took up the whole of the vinyl Side Two. It’s one of the towering landmarks of prog, dovetailing short surreal pieces with moving neoclassical reprises and recapitulations, serene flows with shuddering staccato, parochial realism with pulchritudinous dreams. Across this fire from the skies, Peter Gabriel sings of battles between good and evil and love and war; of firemen, farmers, flowers; a frog who was a prince (who was a brick, which was an egg, which was a bird); of 666 and a new Jerusalem. It was startling then, and it remains a stunning achievement of vision and scale. Roger Taylor of Queen has called it “at separate times homely, beautiful, tortured and epic”. ‘We’ve got everything,’ it declares presciently. ‘We’re growing everything…’ While Supper’s Ready is the main course, the rest of the album should be appreciated as more than just appetisers leading up to it. It’s strange to learn that the album came about in a relatively ramshackle manner, no great master plan having been conceived. Steve Hackett was fatigued by the heavy touring schedule, and still somewhat intimidated by his fellow band members’ prowess (“These guys are so good”, he has recalled thinking). Having re-recorded Supper’s Ready and others for his Genesis Revisited II album [in 2012], he remembers the steps towards Foxtrot more fondly. “There weren’t a lot of days off; we were a hard-working live band,” he says. “Whereas with its predecessor, Nursery Cryme, we’d taken the summer off and written and recorded together as a unit, bonding the team, this time we were on the run, in and out of the studio. I remember flying back from Italy to be in there a day or two ahead of the others, who were travelling by road, just to finish my guitar parts on the end of Supper’s Ready.” If there’s one album that doesn’t sound like a rush job, it’s Foxtrot. “Maybe not. But when you’ve done something, you know what your intention was. The perpetrators will always be looking for improvements. We generally agreed to a man that we recorded Watcher Of The Skies too fast. To my ears now it sounds like a young band desperate to get the notes right in a race to the finish. Once we’d been playing it live for a while we relaxed into it. The version that ended up on Genesis Live is more in-the-pocket. That rhythm is almost impossible for any band to play perfectly, it’s full of pitfalls. Yet there’s lots of weird and wonderful stuff; it’s a band at its most creatively eccentric.” CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 51
“We were not one of those boring bands that went ‘diddly-diddly-diddly’ on the guitar.” Phil Collins
Clockwise from top left: Steve Hackett and Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford, Tony Banks.
in the two weeks there. With the tapdancing upstairs, you couldn’t be too serious for long, because you’d hear them: clumpety clump clump. That rhythm would kick in, and we’d have to break into smiles.” Watcher Of The Skies had grown out of Banks “fooling around” with a Mellotron. “We bought one of the ex-King Crimson Mellotrons,” he notes, “and Robert Fripp insisted it was the one they’d used on In The Court Of The Crimson King. Mind you, he had three, and I’m sure he said that about all of them when he was selling them.” Hackett too emphasises the importance of that instrument to the album. “I’d kept hammering on that we should get one, saying it’d make our story-telling abilities so
ehearsals (and writing sessions) in a variety of locations may have coloured the album’s angles and attitudes. Hackett recounts that Foxtrot was worked up in a variety of “drab, functional” places, until they moved (without Gabriel, who added the words later) to the Una Billings School Of Dance in West London: “There were girls dancing upstairs, learning their tap-dance and what have you. And the sound of that, those rhythms, would come down through the ceiling. We were below, in what had been a refectory, so you had a counter here and a gobstopper-dispensing machine there. It was all a bit strange, and the atmosphere influenced our subsequent efforts. Much of Supper’s Ready was written
much greater. It meant that the band could function as a time machine, with all these various mythologies. The idea was that all the old instruments were there within the Frankenstein that was the Mellotron. It was like an alien orchestra being beamed to you by satellite. And you need to be able to smell the dust from time to time. It had a… cold warmth. I think it’s actually the most influential keyboard instrument in the whole of rock.” Banks reckons people had never heard “a big, big sound like that” before. And it brought the album in with an impossibleto-ignore surge. “Time Table, Get ’Em Out By Friday and CanUtility And The Coastliners don’t get as much attention as the others,” Hackett agrees, “but they’re all part of the journey.” Not least because of Gabriel’s always busy, multi-voiced lyrics. “Yes, there’s important social comment on Get ’Em Out. And the rest is hardly boymeets-girl, is it? And the sci-fi elements show that mythology doesn’t have to be backward-looking. Time Table has something: there’s a magic between the piano and the six-string electric. It chimes. You get that third instrument – not piano, not guitar – where the distinction between them is blurred. The ensemble work welds
“IT’S THE STUFF OF SYMPHONIES AND CONCERTOS!” The majesty of Supper’s Ready, the most fêted prog suite in history. Steve Hackett: “I can’t remember whose idea it was, but we came to the conclusion that you could join any two bits of music together, no matter how disparate the styles, provided the bridge or atmospheric link was strong enough. So we were working on the idea of the musical continuum without naming it as such. And of course that journeying approach - even if it’s been much disparaged by some since – creates for the listener an adventure, an odyssey. Themes reappear. First you might hear them in a bare stripped-back way; then they return with the full Mellotron treatment. With glory! In a sense, the effect when they come back is like when memories become sweeter with time. You’ve got the stuff of symphonies and concertos. “So there’s a nod to the past, but Supper’s Ready was quite futuristic at that point. Bands just weren’t creating pieces of music like that. I think it was then the longest piece that any rock band had ever played live. We were echoing the freedom that music (and education) had in the sixties, so you had surrealistic elements, psychedelic elements, experiments, almost obscurantist aspects.”
instruments together, grafts them on to each other like that Star Trek mind-meld. It’s not so much an album of solos.” “We were not one of those boring bands that went ‘diddly-diddly-diddly’ on the guitar,” says Phil Collins. “ We did not do that!” He also suggests that Get ’Em Out By Friday would have made for a great big-band arrangement. “I was listening to Count Basie and Buddy Rich when we recorded that, but that sort of thing didn’t appeal to the Genesis sensibility.” Hackett likes the term ‘lead chords’. “Genesis constructed melodies from chords. On Can-Utility, for example, you get those syncopated orchestral moments. We’d have that ‘swirly-cloudy’ feel that was such a part of it, that impressionistic feel where you’re not certain what you’re listening to. That characterises a lot of Nursery Cryme and Foxtrot.” Mike Rutherford emphasises the compositional craft. “Which is why I never really got the ‘prog’ tag,” he says. “Some of the progressive bands were more about musicianship. Even though we did long numbers, they were strongly song-driven. That’s the key to longevity.” Yet for all the merits of Foxtrot’s supporting-cast tracks, the march towards Supper’s Ready always has that ‘Everest on the
Tony Banks: “Most of Apocalypse In 9/8 I’d got down as keyboard solos. But then Peter started singing over them, because his lyrics required more information to get out. Initially, I have to say, I was pissed off, because he was singing on ‘my’ bit! Then I realised it now had all the excitement we’d been trying to create, especially
horizon’ about it. Indeed Horizons, Hackett’s instrumental, which precedes it, in his view “works as an hors d’oeuvre. It becomes part of it, an introduction”. And then the breathtaking ascent begins. eter Gabriel remains proud of Supper’s Ready. “It did feel like we captured some emotion there, particularly at the climax,” he tells me. “For my part it was influenced by John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress – as was The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. It was this idea of a journey. And we were then trying, consciously, to break out of tradition – throwing together different ideas and influences to see if there was a fresh way of putting them all together. I still enjoy it, I’m still attracted to it.” In fact Gabriel has considered playing it in recent years, but admits it was rather
the ‘six-six-six’ section. You have a lot of drama in the chords themselves, then what he did on top just took it to another level. That half-minute or so is our peak.” Mike Rutherford: “That was a great moment of luck. Sometimes you don’t quite know what you’re doing. The end section happened effortlessly, as good music often does. We wrote for a couple of months, but the act of doing that song seemed quite easy. If things take a long time, it’s a bad sign. When Pete put the ‘six-six-six’ vocal on, that was a bit special. I’ve had that moment twice in Genesis’s history, where the game gets raised by a voice going on a strong instrumental and it’s not how you imagined it at all. The other time was when Phil put the bit in the middle of Mama. Same sort of intensity.” Tony Banks: “In the early seventies we were lucky. The Beatles had started to go a bit further, then pulled themselves back. But they’d opened a door. Which was followed up by bands like Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Family. We all thought: ‘We can do what we like now!’ None of these albums sold that much, but we were building a following. Nowadays try giving people a twenty-three-minute song that changes fifteen minutes in but you’ve got to hear the first fourteen minutes in order to fully appreciate that fifteenth minute. It’s quite a commitment! Different things for different times.” CR
tough for his band to learn. “There was some resistance. It’s not easy! It’s still something I wouldn’t mind looking at one day.” Banks recalls how the suite’s disparate parts came together as a song cycle: “We wanted to go further,” he explains. “We’d all been wanting to push away from regular structures; we’d wonder why you had to go verse-chorusverse-chorus etcetera. You can tell more of a story without that repetition. We started thinking we were writing a follow-up to The Musical Box [on previous album Mike Rutherford Nursery Cryme], but then we had this very pretty song, Willow Farm, too, and wondered: what if we suddenly went from there into this ugly descending-chords sequence, with all the louder, electric Above: Genesis on instruments entering? Nobody would be tour in support of the Foxtrot album. expecting it. Once we were into that, we
“I never really got the ‘prog’ tag. We did long numbers, but they were song-driven.”
SUPER FURRY MANIMAL “I felt like part of the band!” Paul Whitehead on Genesis’s prog-art explosion. he memorable visuals of the Foxtrot album are the work of British designer Paul Whitehouse, who had also done Genesis’s two previous albums, Trespass and Nursery Cryme. “I was the in-house art guy for Charisma,” he says. “Four of the five Genesis guys were public schoolboys, so they decided to have a go at English institutions. Nursery Cryme was croquet, being the utmost upper-class game. “Then they said: ‘What are we going to do for the next album?’ I suggested fox hunting. They said: ‘What original take have you got on fox hunting that will apply to this record?’ In those days I had friends in British rock bands that had toured America; I was very friendly with Keith Relf from The Yardbirds, who came back using the phrase ‘She’s such a fox’. It was a new expression for England. “So it was like, why not have the fox disguise himself as a woman, to get away? Then of course Peter Gabriel did the red dress on stage, with the mask, so that added to it. Supper’s Ready was a whole twenty-three-minute thing with multiple costume changes, which I helped with as well. “I always felt like I was part of the band, because I was included in meetings, and they’d give me the song lyrics as they were doing them. So I was in the loop, and we got on very well. “But a lot of people didn’t see the connection to the record, which has no mention of fox hunting. It was purposely enigmatic.” PS
Find Paul Whitehead at www.paulwhitehead.com
Evolution of a canvas. Although the Foxtrot artwork disappeared, Paul still has the photos he took of its progress (above left).
Top right: Peter Gabriel, wearing a fox mask and his wife’s dress, on the Foxtrot tour, October 1972.
of its release? Were people dazzled, confused, appalled, or just indifferent? “All of those things,” muses Hackett. “Don’t forget, we weren’t The Beatles. Just before they released Sgt Pepper, they worried whether they’d gone too far and whether the crowd might give them the thumbsdown. We felt in a similar position. We’d really gone out on a limb with Supper’s Ready. It was labyrinthine with layers, and it was by no means certain that the response would be positive.” aul Whitehead’s surrealist sleeve design is as much a part of the Foxtrot ‘immersion’ experience as the pyramid-prism is to The Dark Side Of The Moon. Gabriel certainly dived in, courageously donning his wife’s red dress and a fox head for stage shows. “I think for fans of it there was always that feeling of looking at it and thinking:
‘I’m on to something here that other people don’t necessarily know about.’ One’s taste becomes tribal; these albums become important bonding elements. Where language leaves off, music begins, and you share a dream.” “Musicians do tend to disparage their early work,” Hackett continues. “The need to continually move forward can be everything. I prefer to celebrate it, and look for what’s right about it. If you have passion, energy and honesty, you will come up with something valuable. You try to do things instinctively, listening to each other without ego, and sometimes you get a great crystallisation. You may not recognise it at the time, you might think it was just a doodle, but someone else will see it as a full-blown portrait. The musicians might still be searching, but the audience, the true owners, will say: ‘Look no further. We’ve found it.’”
thought: well, we’re here now, let’s carry on and see where it leads. It turned out better than we thought.” With customary English restraint, he adds: “When we put the whole thing together and heard it back for the first time, we went: oh! This is actually pretty good!” Collins, who can be lukewarm about some material of this Genesis era, says “Supper’s Ready was great. The music and imagery worked strongly together, and then on stage the visuals boosted it too.” Hackett backs that up: “It wasn’t until we were playing it live, with the visual presentation and Peter’s showmanship, that it somehow found favour. We were described as ‘theatrical rock’ long before the term ‘progressive rock’ was used. At first when the album came out, we were sometimes playing this stuff to crowds who were just… indifferent.” So how was Foxtrot received at the time
“We were trying to break out of tradition: throwing together different ideas to see if there was a fresh way to put them together.” Peter Gabriel
Nick Reese hits the deck…
ut yourself in Nick Reese’s shoes: you’re playing an outdoor festival in Las Vegas with your band, Southern California rock’n’roll upstarts Joyous Wolf, and you’ve been given a measly 20 minutes to show a politely disinterested audience what you’ve got. What you gonna do? Play some songs, politely thank them through gritted teeth for being a great crowd then get the hell off? Nah. That’s not Nick Reese’s style. Instead, the livewire frontman – whose frontflippin’, splits-pullin’, hair-shakin’ act is equal parts Dave Lee Roth and James Brown – does what any right-minded showman would do, and climbs the rigging at the side of the stage. At which point a man from the festival runs on stage to tell you that your 20-minute set has just been curtailed to zero minutes, and you need to get the fuck out of dodge. “The thing is,” Reese says today, “we were this unsigned band, no one knew who we were. All I wanted to do was get people’s attention, make sure they remember us. That’s where all the flips and splits and crazy stuff came from. Climbing the rigging got this huge reaction. It was a big, crazy moment.” Joyous Wolf are living, breathing, truss-climbing proof that the Greta Van Fleet-led rock revival isn’t a one-band fluke. The four-piece band – Reese plus guitarist Blake Allard, bassist Greg Braccio and drummer Robert Sodaro – have captured rock’n’roll lightning in a bottle. Songs such as Sleep Weep Stomp, Turning Blue and their swaggering cover of Mountain’s Mississippi Queen could have been wrenched from any of the past five decades, were it not for the very 21st-century energy they inject into them. Joyous Wolf are still in their early 20s, but the four of them took a circuitous routes to get here. Reese played in various pop-punk and alt.rock bands, while Allard was even a member of a youthful death metal group at one point. “I don’t think any of us wanted to do what we were doing,”says Allard, the calm and collected yang to the frontman’s electrified yin, at least in person. “We did it because everybody else was doing it. This was the first band we’d all been in where we were, like: ‘Let’s organically do this and see what happens.’” Joyous Wolf had many reasons to get together. Getting out of Orange County was one of them. “Dude, you have no idea,” Reese says, erupting into throaty laughter. “One hundred per cent. That was probably the first mission statement: ‘If this gets me out of here, then it’s worth it. I don’t care where.’” And have Joyous Wolf made it out yet? Another laugh. “Well, we’re here a lot less.”
Looking for a Next Big Thing to get behind before everyone else does? Meet Joyous Wolf, all-guns-blazing proof that proper shit-kicking rock’n’roll lives on. Words: Dave Everley Photos: Steve Thrasher
Joyous Wolf: hoping they’re on the stairway to heaven. Or at least to major success.
…while Blake Allard gasps for a breather.
The only way is up: Reese scales the rigging at the Las Rageous festival in Las Vegas, April 21, 2018.
hen Joyous Wolf got together in 2015, rock’n’roll was a minority sport in Orange County. There were rock bands, but there were no rock bands. They did not fit in. “Everybody was very low-key, that dying indie, reverb rock sort of thing,” says Reese. “We were just sick of that stuff. We went at, like, a hundred miles an hour at every show.” Their shit-kicking approach woke people up, and Joyous Wolf began whipping up a reputation for themselves. Gigs started busy and got busier. They gravitated north, eventually heading 50 miles to the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, where on quiet nights the ghostly clack of cowboy boots from 30 years ago can still be heard. The Strip ain’t what it was, but it’s still something. “You know, Mötley Crüe and Van Halen definitely aren’t playing,” says Allard. “It’s not what it was, but it’ll never be dead.” Fabled club the Viper Room became their home from home. The green shoots of a rock’n’roll revival hadn’t quite taken root between the cracks in the Sunset Strip sidewalk, but there was a disparate gang of bands coming at it from the same place. The same couldn’t be said of elsewhere in the States. Reese and Allard recall a show at a country and western bar in Kansas City, where they managed to open up a 30-foot wide semi-circle of empty space in front of the stage during the show and thought were going to get their asses kicked by irate cowboys afterwards. The fact that a frustrated Reese had dedicated one song to “the fat-ass people at the bar” probably didn’t help. But that kind of thing only made them work harder. Reese figured that people wanted an escape from the day-to-day mundanity of life. Taking a leaf from the
“The moment that we all stopped listening to everything else is when things started to happen for us.” Blake Allard playbook of the great entertainers, he took it upon himself to coerce, cajole, dance and bully audiences into having a good time. That’s why he started pulling front-flips and doing the splits on stage. And that’s why he found himself risking life and limb by hanging off the rigging at various festivals. It all paid off. Joyous Wolf signed to Roadrunner Records, the powerhouse label who broke a ton of bands, including Slipknot and Nickelback. Their debut EP is due very soon. They band recorded part of it at Sunset Sound, the iconic LA studio
where Zeppelin, the Stones, Prince, The Doors and countless others made classic albums. “I got to sing Break On Through inside the booth where Jim Morrison got head while doing his vocal take,” says Reese. And did that happen to you as well? “Nah. I wasn’t as lucky.” Joyous Wolf’s timing is either smart or fortuitous, or maybe both. Either way, they’re part of a swelling wave of bands who are bringing rock’n’roll back. And they know it. “The moment that we all stopped listening to everything else is when things started to happen for us,” says Allard. “It just so happened to fit in with the new wave of rock music that is brewing right now. We’ve kind of seen it happen since we started doing this. There really is something there.” “In the next two or three years you’re going to see some great shit,” says Reese. “We really are on the verge of a new revolution.” He says this with unwavering conviction. And if he’s right – which he is – Joyous Wolf are right up there at the head of the pack. CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 57
The 21 Albums That Changed The Way We Play Guitar Words: Ed Mitchell Elvis Presley.
rom Buddy Holly teaching the kids to covet the Fender Stratocaster, to George Harrison pioneering American folk rock and Sex Pistol Steve Jones schooling us on rhythm guitar, some guitarists – and, of course, their albums – had the power to change the world. They shifted musical tastes, killing one genre and replacing it with another. Rock’n’roll inflicted genocide on country, grunge devastated hair metal, and Oasis steamrolled over everything. These records dictated what we wore, how we spoke and, yes, even the drugs we took. In this feature we take a chronological look at 21 albums that not only impacted on popular culture, but also changed the way guitarists played and influenced the equipment they used.
1 ELVIS PRESLEY Heartbreak Hotel EP (1956)
For a generation of post-war British kids, Heartbreak Hotel was the rock’n’roll equivalent of the moment in The Wizard Of Oz when everything switches from black-and-white to colour. In the midst of a slow blues, Scotty Moore’s guitar solo came at the listener like a slashing switchblade. Music critics hated the track, as did parents, the BBC and the establishment in general – which just made the kids love it even more. Before the EP’s UK release in May 1956, the average teenaged boy wanted to be a footballer, boxer or steam train driver. As it made its way to No.2 in the chart, suddenly they were pestering their parents for guitars and putting groups together. Two such young oiks, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, would later acknowledge Heartbreak Hotel as a defining moment in the birth of The Beatles.
2 THE CRICKETS
The “Chirping” Crickets (1957)
‘In the midst of a slow blues, Scotty Moore’s guitar solo came at the listener like a slashing switchblade.’
The Crickets’ debut record exploded like a bomb in the UK when it was released here in 1958. It wasn’t just songs such as That’ll Be The Day, Oh, Boy! and Not Fade Away that drove kids out of their minds, the disciples also fell in love with the band’s leader, Buddy Holly. Bespectacled and geeky, Holly was the average-looking kid who showed his teenage followers that you didn’t have to be pretty like Elvis, as cool as Eddie Cochran or as dangerous like Gene Vincent to be a rock star. The cover of The “Chirping” Crickets also gave Buddy’s British fans their first ever glimpse of a sunburst Fender Stratocaster, a guitar that looked so futuristic to them it could have fallen out of a passing flying saucer. The 60-year British love affair with the Strat begins here.
‘The riff that kicks off (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction changed the world of guitar overnight.’
The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards.
3 ROBERT JOHNSON
King Of The Delta Blues Singers (1961)
King Of The Delta Blues Singers is a Columbia Records compilation album of sides recorded by Robert Johnson in November 1936 in San Antonio, Texas and June 1937 in Dallas, Texas. By the time of the album’s early-60s release, Johnson was a forgotten figure. He was subsequently reimagined as some wailing apparition who sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for fame and fortune, only to be denied both in his short lifetime. Bullshit folklore aside, the bones of Johnson’s legacy are his highly accomplished guitar playing and songwriting. Both helped fuel the British blues-rock boom of the 1960s with interpretations of his songs by Cream (Cross Road Blues), Led Zeppelin (Traveling Riverside Blues) and the Rolling Stones (Love In Vain). When Keith Richards first heard Johnson’s recordings he thought he must be part of a duo: “It took me a long time to realise he was actually doing it all by himself.”
THE CRICKETS + KEITH RICHARDS: ALAMY
THE SHADOWS The Shadows (1961)
They might have been the backing band for pseudo-Elvis Cliff Richard, with a lead guitarist who looked like Postman Pat, but The Shadows were the biggest thing in Blighty in the pre-Fab early 60s. Their debut album has Hank Marvin beasting away on the first ever Fender Stratocaster imported into the UK. The band were also instrumental in the development of the greatest British guitar amplifier of all time, the Vox AC30. When the guys couldn’t be heard above the screams of their adoring teen audiences, they turned to Vox engineer Dick Denney for help. The solution was an amp with twice the power and speakers of their existing AC15. The AC30 went on to become the sound of Beatlemania, and later still was the preferred amp of Queen’s Brian May and Jam-era Paul Weller.
5 THE BEATLES
A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
Recorded as the soundtrack to the film of the same name A Hard Day’s Night captures John, Paul, George and Ringo at the height of Beatlemania. The album also introduced the world to the sound of George Harrison’s Rickenbacker 12-string. He was gifted the 360/12 model by Rickenbacker grande fromage FC Hall during the group’s first visit to America, and its chiming sound was all over much of A Hard Day’s Night and later Beatles records including 1965’s Rubber Soul. Pretty much everything a Beatle said or did was influential, and Harrison’s ‘Ricky’ sound was soon adopted by Roger McGuinn of US folk-rock band The Byrds, who in turn inspired people such as Tom Petty, Johnny Marr of The Smiths and Peter Buck of R.E.M. Fun fact: the Rickenbacker 620/12 on the cover of Petty’s Damn The Torpedoes was the next 12-string off the production line after George’s 360/12. CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 59
Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi.
‘Tony Iommi not only developed a huge sound, he also wrote the blueprint for metal guitar.’
MAYALL’S 7 JOHN BLUESBREAKERS John Mayall’s Blues Breakers With Eric Clapton (1966) Better-known as the Beano Album, this record has been scrutinised more closely than the Dead Sea Scrolls. This album is the reason why Joe Bonamassa spends all his pocket money on vintage Les Pauls. It was at the root of Gary Moore’s desire to dump metal and rediscover the music that inspired him as a kid on 1990’s Still Got The Blues. Eric Clapton changed rock history with this record. Playing a Gibson Les Paul Standard – turned up very loud through a Marshall combo – would lead to players such as Peter Green and Jeff Beck following his lead. Thanks to the Beano and its disciples, the single-cutaway Les Paul guitar, which was discontinued in 1960 in favour of the SG, was reintroduced by Gibson in 1968.
JIMI HENDRIX 8 THE EXPERIENCE Are You Experienced (1967) The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s debut album is notable for a load of reasons, not least because it saved the ass of the Fender Stratocaster. While never discontinued like the Gibson Les Paul, the Strat’s popularity had dwindled since its glory days of the early 60s. Then Jimi happened and suddenly everyone was looking for a Strat. Not that it stopped him killing off a few for kicks. The spectacle of Hendrix dry-humping one against a Marshall stack then burning it alive as it howled its last brings tears to any vintage guitar collector’s eyes. While Jimi has helped shift countless guitars for Fender since his untimely demise, his use of wah-wah and fuzz effects was equally influential on fledgling rockers – not to mention 70s porno soundtracks.
6 THE ROLLING STONES Out Of Our Heads (1965)
Led Zeppelin (1969)
We’ll wager your classic image of Jimmy Page in action is bare-chested, dragon suit, hair like a burst mattress… and a low-slung sunburst ’59 Les Paul Standard hanging at scrotum level. For years, guitarists assumed that Jimmy played a Gibson on everything, yet on much of the first Led Zeppelin album he got those classic ‘Les Paul’ tones with the same ’59 Fender Telecaster he beat on in The Yardbirds, through an old, heavily modified Supro 1695T Coronado combo and a MK II Tone Bender fuzz. This album defines the moment British blues shifted gears into hard rock. It’s a sound that guitar geeks are still trying to nail today. He later used the same Tele and Supro amp to record the solo on Stairway To Heaven.
JIMI HENDRIX + TONY IOMMI: GETTY
The riff that kicks off (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction changed the world of guitar overnight. Keith Richards actually wanted a horn section to play the riff. He laid down a guide with a Maestro FZ-1 Fuzz-Tone pedal, and the effect was so good that the band wouldn’t let him change it. Previous attempts at distortion had seen proto-punk rocker Link Wray poke holes in his speakers back in the late 50s, while Dave Davies of The Kinks slashed his speakers with a razor blade for the band’s You Really Got Me riff. Thanks to Keith, fuzz boxes flew off the shelves, and soon a generation of American kids formed garage bands and sowed the seeds of hard rock and punk.
9 LED ZEPPELIN
‘Van Halen completely tore up the rock-guitar rule book on its release.’
Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols.
10 BLACK SABBATH Paranoid (1970)
You can’t really talk about the effect that Tony Iommi had on metal guitar without mentioning his missing fingertips. Iommi was involved in an industrial accident at a sheet metal factory, slicing off the ends of the ring and middle fingers of his right hand. “It made me more aware of my limitations,” he told Classic Rock. “You know, things that I could do before the accident and couldn’t do after. I tried to make up for it and make my sound bigger.” As Paranoid reveals, Iommi not only developed a huge sound, he also wrote the blueprint for metal guitar playing. What’s interesting is that his monstrously heavy tone wasn’t compromised by his need to use very light guitar strings. That’s a slap in the chops for the ‘heavy strings equals heavy tone’ brigade. .
11 SEX PISTOLS
Never Mind The Bollocks (1977)
Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren’s oft-quoted desire to find “four kids, make sure they hate each other, make sure they can’t play” might have made good PR, but it didn’t exactly come to pass. Alright, the Pistols might not have got on that great, but drummer Paul Cook, original bassist Glen Matlock and guitarist Steve Jones could clearly play; Jones’s roaring Les Paul Custom/Marshall stack sound on Never Mind The Bollocks influenced everyone from Guns N’ Roses to Rancid to Oasis. Jones is the most underrated guitarist this side of Paul Weller, his rhythm playing as tight as a drum. Shame it all went to shit when Sid Vicious replaced Matlock and the Pistols took on America but hey, we’ll always have Jonesie’s opening salvos on God Save The Queen and Pretty Vacant for inspiration.
Eddie Van Halen.
VAN HALEN Van Halen (1978)
13 STRAY CATS
EDDIE VAN HALEN: GETTY; STEVE JONES: PHOTOSHOT/AV AVALON
Built For Speed (1982)
Apart from the fact that Van Halen completely tore up the rock-guitar rule book on its release, the album changed the way people thought about their gear. The 80s saw the rise of the ‘super-Strat’, a guitar with a Gibson-style humbucking pickup chiselled into the bridge position of a Fender body. Eddie Van Halen was the mastermind behind that concept. As far back as the mid-70s he’d been trying to create a guitar with the power and tone of a Gibson and the lighter twincutaway body and slim maple neck of a Stratocaster. The result, the ‘Frankenstrat’, lit the way for guitar companies like Kramer – with whom EVH collaborated – Charvel, Jackson and Ibanez who created their own variations on Eddie’s theme. Suddenly we had the tools to play faster and flashier. No guitarist had such an influence on how and what we played since artist/ inventor Les Paul in the 1950s.
The Stray Cats’ debut US album, Built For Speed is actually a compilation of their two ’81 UK records Stray Cats and Gonna Ball. Released at a time when shred guitar was thriving, Brian Setzer’s incendiary guitar chops on Stray Cat Strut, Runaway Boys and Rumble In Brighton fuelled a renewed interest in 50s rockabilly and big, orange Gretsch guitars. Influenced by the look and sound of original rocker Eddie Cochran, Setzer sniffed around for a Gretsch G6120 Chet Atkins like his hero’s and picked up a ’59 model for a couple of hundred dollars. Gretsch Guitars had ceased production in the US in 1981, but thanks to Setzer championing the brand it was reborn in Japan in the 90s. As a reward, Setzer became the first guitarist since Chet Atkins to become a Gretsch signature artist. CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 61
‘For many guitarists, The Edge’s work on The Joshua Tree gave them the inspiration to start indulging in effects.’
U2’s The Edge.
RAY VAUGHAN 14 STEVIE AND DOUBLE TROUBLE
The Joshua Tree (1987)
Texas Flood (1983) This record should really be included in the sale of every new Strat, as it represents the tone of that model at its absolute best. Blues music was pretty much on its uppers in the early 80s, almost entirely absent from the mainstream. Then along came Stevie Ray Vaughan, a young hot-shot guitarist who managed to recast blues in his own image. This was Texas blues, hotter, flashier and more passionate than the overproduced stuff that even greats such as BB King and Buddy Guy were perpetrating at that point. This album saved the blues then, and continues to do so thanks to the kids with Strats who followed in its wake.
15 JOE SATRIANI
Years before U2 singer Bono started charging punters good money to sit through his tiresome sermons, his band created magic on tracks like Where The Streets Have No Name, With Or Without You and I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For. A big part of the success of the band’s The Joshua Tree album was guitarist The Edge’s command over delay effects. They were key to pretty much every tune he played at that time, to the point where some wags suggested he couldn’t do anything without them. For many guitarists, The Edge’s work on The Joshua Tree gave them the inspiration to start indulging in effects. This was the golden age of the rack-mounted effects unit, when cheap pedals were ditched in favour of expensive digital things with giant foot boards. In those days you did anything you could to give yourself the edge.
Surfing With The Alien (1987)
You couldn’t move for guitar instrumental albums in the mid-to-late 80s. There was the serious shred stuff coming out on Shrapnel Records, such as Racer X, Vinnie Moore and Marty Friedman. But as talented as all these guys were, it all seemed so niche and unlikely to trouble the mainstream charts. Then Joe Satriani scored a monster hit with Surfing With The Alien. Combining jazz fusion with visceral rock’n’roll, Surfing made great guitar technique cool again and showed that an instrumental album could be a commercial possibility for the first time since the surf craze in the early 60s. Even Satriani was taken aback by its success.
16 GUNS AND ROSES Appetite For Destruction (1987)
THE EDGE: ALAMY; KURT R COBAIN: AV AVALON/PHOTOSHOT
“I didn’t fuckin’ reintroduce the Les Paul,” Slash told Guitar Shop magazine in 1996. “It’s been around. I just don’t think that anybody who was really popular and touring worldwide was using Les Pauls around the time Guns came out.” To be fair, players such as doomed Ozzy protege Randy Rhoads and Thin Lizzy/Whitesnake/Blue Murder man John Sykes had kept the Les Paul Custom afloat in a sea of ‘super-Strats’ in the 80s. Yet, despite his protests and modesty, it was Slash who made the Les Paul Standard cool again. Gary Moore would seal the deal with his Les Paul love letter Still Got The Blues in 1990. Fun fact: despite the fact that has Gibson benefited hugely from Slash’s Les Paul use on Appetite, the guitar featured on much of the record was in fact a copy built by luthier Kris Derrig.
The White Stripes’ Jack White.
Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Korn’s James ‘Munky’ Shaffer and Head.
Yep, the album that slapped the taste out the mouth of hair metal. When Nirvana took over in the early 90s, many guitarists saw the writing on the wall and traded in their super-Strats for Fenders. Flannel and denim replaced spandex and hair spray, and you needed old-school guitars to look and sound the part. Kurt Cobain ostensibly picked up old Fender Jaguars and Mustangs because they were cheap. Thanks to Kurt, the days of cheap Mustangs are long gone. He did, however, design his own version before he checked out: a Jaguar/Mustang DNA-splice called the Jag-Stang.
19 OASIS JACK WHITE: CAMERA PRESS/JAMIE BEEDEN; STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN V : CAMERA PRESS/ROBERT MATHEU; MUNKY& HEAD: GETTY
Definitely Maybe (1994)
Anybody who worked in a music shop in 1994 can attest to the impact Oasis had on the guitar market that year. Noel Gallagher and fellow guitarist Paul ‘Bonehead’ Arthurs triggered a stampede for the Epiphone Les Paul and semi-acoustic Riviera models they used in those early days. The climate was right for a new sound, and the Gallaghers barged right in. Kurt Cobain was dead and pop music was in limbo. Then, love ’em or not, the louts from Manchester rolled up with their Beatles/Pistols mash-up and gave everyone a kick up the arse. It was the perfect scene to get kids playing guitars again with easy-to-play tunes and affordable gear. Guitar shops owners dream of the next big thing like Oasis coming along. We’re still waiting.
KORN Follow The Leader (1998)
Just when it looked like metal was on its arse, a new breed of American groups pushed through with pointy guitars, drop tunings and a load of facial hair: nu metal. After a couple of well-received albums – debut Korn in 1994, and 1996’s Life Is Peachy – Follow The Leader went mainstream and hit US No.1 in the week of its release. Guitarists James ‘Munky’ Shaffer and Head (Brian Welch to his mum) are long-time Ibanez users were key players in the growing popularity of seven-string guitars, and had a signature model called the K7. These sevenstrings came set up to Korn signature tuning (low to high: A, D, G, C, F, A, D) from the Ibanez factory. The K7 was subsequently replaced in the Ibanez catalogue by the Apex model, a guitar still used by Munky.
21 THE WHITE STRIPES White Blood Cells (2001)
In the 90s and noughties, the accepted procedure for aspiring blues players was to be white, young and play a Fender Strat – no exceptions. It took a young man from Detroit, Michigan, Jack White, to beat the boredom out of blues with a noisy garage rock approach. White wasn’t the first to have a pop – artists such as RL Burnside and Jon Spencer’s Blues Explosion had been curating the music’s raw origins for years. White was just more successful at it, and the huge mainstream success that came with the release of his band the White Stripes’ 2001 album White Blood Cells created a new enthusiasm for prehistoric blues and old, pawnshop prize guitars. Thanks to the exposure he gave his red 1964 Airline ‘JB Hutto’ guitar, originally sold by Montgomery Ward department stores, the model is now considered a valuable vintage classic. White proved that all you needed to change the world was an old guitar, a fuzz box and a drummer. CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 63
Knowing that he is living on borrowed time, former Ozzy and Uriah Heep drummer Lee Kerslake looks back at a life filled with highs and lows, friendships, fallouts and reconciliations. Words: Dave Ling
t’s early February 2019. It’s the last February Lee Kerslake will ever see. But, considering everything that he’s been through, he’s doing pretty well. Diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2014, he’s hanging on in there, although more recently, with the disease having spread inside his body, a doctor advised him to arrange his affairs over the following eight months. “I have bone cancer, a complicated type that’s very nasty,” he confides, seemingly without a flicker of emotion. “It’s gone right down my spine. Five years ago I was told I had four more years to live. The cancer then came back with a vengeance. Now I’ve got diabetes, psoriatic arthritis [a painful condition which causes inflamation of the joints] and a heart murmur. One more and I’d have hit the jackpot.” The dry chuckle that follows seems genuine.“I’ve got no choice but to laugh,” he shrugs. “And of course music helps me to keep on fighting it. “I’m living on borrowed time,” he continues. “I’ve got between four or five months. Next week they’re giving me a new, untried drug. It’s very, very strong and extremely expensive. My response was: ‘Oh, goody, it must work.’ That’s a joke, of course – nobody knows. And I’ve come to terms with it.” Kerslake’s apparent good cheer is little short of astonishing. Having been forced to step down from Uriah Heep’s drum stool some 11 years ago, he and his wife Susan now live in a modest flat situated a stone’s throw from one of Britain’s prettiest public parks, Crystal Palace. Springtime is approaching when the drummer and songwriter collects me from the station in his car, and I wonder whether he walks his rescue dog Blaze amid its leafy beauty.
“Not any more,” he answers casually. “It’s too much for me now. These days I’m a raspberry ripple [rhyming slang for ‘cripple’].” These words seem strange coming from the proverbial bloke’s bloke who in his prime was so powerful and bulky that his Uriah Heep bandmates nicknamed him The Bear. And yet, in spite of all that life has thrown at him, Kerslake exudes an air of peace and contentment. What he doesn’t project are sorrow, self-pity or awkwardness (from an interviewer’s perspective, at least) that you might reasonably expect during a conversation with a dying man. If there’s an extra spring to his step, it’s thanks to Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne. Six months ago such a statement would have been laughable. Back in 1980, following eight years with Heep, Kerslake joined Ozzy, fresh out of Black Sabbath, in a new group called Blizzard Of Ozz. Having played a huge role in the band’s phenomenal success, Kerslake and bassist Bob Daisley were, in Lee’s words “thrown out of the band because Sharon wanted newer members”, and their contributions to a second album, Diary Of A Madman, for which Kerslake insists he co-wrote several tracks, went unacknowledged (Daisley also claimed a co-production role); touring musicians Rudy Sarzo and Tommy Aldridge appeared on its sleeve instead. Kerslake and Daisley both allege that they didn’t receive performance royalties, although they did receive some writing monies. As the two sides entrenched – Kerslake and Daisley protesting vociferously from the rooftops, the Osbournes in fierce opposition, claiming that Lee and Bob were simply hired hands – a bitter
“Since I’ve known that I’m dying I no longer want to hold a grudge.”
Happy days: Recording the Blizzard Of Ozz album at Ridge Farm studios in 1980: (l-r) guitarist Randy Rhoads, Lee Kerslake, Ozzy Osbourne and bassist Bob Daisley.
feud began. In 1986 the pair sued Jet Records, the company behind the two albums, and won. Later it emerged that the Osbourne camp had bought the rights to the first two records, rebranding them as Ozzy solo releases. So Lee and Bob sued the new owners… and lost, the statute of limitations – the time frame in which they needed to bring the case to court – having expired. Adding insult to injury, when those albums were reissued in 2002, Ozzy’s then-rhythm section of Robert Trujillo (now with Metallica) and Mike Bordin (formerly with Faith No More) had overdubbed the pair’s existing parts. The original performances were reinstated almost a decade later, but most considered it a low blow – petty gamesmanship that many would find it impossible to forgive. And yet that’s exactly what Kerslake has done. However, it’s been a long road.
And you’ve really forgiven them? Seven years ago you told an interviewer: “The fact is that Sharon is evil, why she hates [Bob and myself] I have no idea.” “Look, enough water has gone under the bridge and I’m willing to forget the nasty bit. The letter was enough for me to say that’s it, the hatred is over.” As if to prove this point, a few days after this interview took place, and following the latest drama in the Osbournes soap opera, Kerslake took to Facebook to plead: “People, please lay off of Sharon. Ozzy is very ill and she has enough to contend with.” This is remarkable. But then Lee Kerslake has lived a remarkable life. e was born in Winton, near Bournemouth, in 1947. His first band of significance was The Gods. An outstanding talent pool, at one time or another their line-up would include Greg Lake, future Rolling Stones guitarist Mick Taylor, guitarist Alan Shacklock, who became a star with Babe Ruth, the Glascock brothers Brian and John (the latter would join Jethro Tull), future Heep co-founder Paul Newton and, most significantly from a Kerslake viewpoint, Ken Hensley. The latter, flamboyant, exceptionally talented and prone to displays of megalomania – during his final days with Heep the keyboard player, guitarist and songwriter demanded his own personal lighting rig – was destined to become a pivotal figure in Kerslake’s fortunes. Across more than half a century the pair have been blood bothers as well as sworn enemies, and all stages in between. The Gods made three albums, including a provocative final one called Orgasm under the handle Head Machine, and enjoyed a successful
“Walking away from Uriah Heep was the hardest thing I ever had to do, but I knew I was ill.”
he healing began less than a year ago when Kerslake wrote a deathbed plea to Ozzy and Sharon, requesting platinum discs for Blizzard Of Ozz and Diary Of A Madman. Later on he issued a statement: “Life is too short and I have so much admiration for Sharon as a businesswoman. I’d like to think that Sharon, Ozzy and I are friends.” It worked. Sharon placed a call to Lee’s manager, apparently “with a tear in her eye”, granting the request and relaying Ozzy’s best wishes. The precious discs weren’t too far behind. With obvious contentment, Lee produces a handwritten letter from Ozzy and reads it aloud. The tone is friendly enough. Written before the forced cancellation of Ozzy’s recent touring, Ozzy refers to his own ailments and bemoans the passing of time since they last met – “it must be at least thirtyfive years or more” – ending with the words: “God bless you [and] stay safe.”
Although the letter carries no reference to guilt nor apology for any past transgression, merely receiving it satisfies Kerslake. “That’s it,” he says, smiling. “Everything is done and dusted.” You are entitled to some skepticism. After rancour, resentment and acrimony over four decades, most people could not simply forgive and forget in such a casual manner. “Since I’ve known that I’m dying I no longer want to hold a grudge,” Lee explains patiently. “I want to go with a clear conscience. They [Ozzy and Sharon] know I haven’t got much longer left. They [the discs] are all I wanted.” The outstanding royalties would have been nice too, though, surely?
“I didn’t want their money or any of the worries about that,” he says, “though of course some might have come in handy, but it ain’t gonna happen,” he responds in an even voice. “That,” he adds, pointing across the room at the package containing discs that arrived from California, “is everything. I’ve kept on and on about getting it. I fought the case, and in doing so I lost an absolute fortune.” Kerslake and Daisley’s courtroom defeat to Ozzy and Sharon probably played its part in Lee’s whole regrettable spiral, which saw him declare bankruptcy and lose his house. “Health-wise everything went downhill afterwards,” he agrees. “But I’ll live with that and I’ll die with it.”
“Life is too short… I’d like to think that Sharon, Ozzy and I are friends.” residency at London’s Marquee club earning the then-princely sum of £25 a week. Then at Christmas time in 1969 Hensley left to join the embryonic Uriah Heep (then still known as Spice). Although Heep’s ascent over the course of three albums was gradual, by 1972 the five-piece stood on the precipice of something very big indeed. Their label, Bronze Records, drove the band hard – some might say too hard. Somehow they released two albums each year and spent the remaining 11 months on tour. The third album, 1971’s Look At Yourself, finally propelled them into the Top 40 at home. Doors were also opening in America, where the band would soon be supported by Kiss. And although Heep had got off to a bad start with the US press (a critic from Rolling Stone promised: “If this band makes it, I’ll have to commit suicide”), a begrudging respect was blossoming. Kerslake was enjoying life with the National Head Band when he was invited to join Heep in late 1971. He felt bad about leaving his colleagues in the lurch – that is until he was told about how much he would earn. Decades later, it’s difficult to explain just how big Uriah Heep became in what seemed a fairly short amount of time. This rapid rise had much to do with the star quality of their charismatic frontman, David Byron. “When David was on form nobody could touch him,” Kerslake exclaims. “He was unique and unafraid of anyone. I remember a gig opening for Rod Stewart, who was one of the best showmen in rock. After we came off, Rod asked: ‘How the fuck am I supposed to follow that?’” Heep’s breakthrough, with the album Demons And Wizards, was just around the corner. But by the time it arrived, four-fifths of the line-up and Gerry Bron of Bronze Records were at loggerheads. As their label boss, producer and manager, Bron had maneuvered himself into the wearing of three hats, something that Kerslake feels would today be deemed “illegal”. “It’s a conflict of interests,” he maintains. “Gerry and I never really got on. We clashed almost every step of the way, I admit that.” With Ken Hensley having assumed the role of chief composer, Bron was probably right to encourage the productivity of his golden goose, although of course this perceived favouritism was divisive in a group riven with individual quarrels, including a rivalry between Hensley and the increasingly wayward and selfdestructive Byron. The latter was sacked after the appropriately titled High And Mighty album in 1976. By that point bass player Gary Thain had died of a heroin overdose, something that guitarist Mick Box has always attributed to the workload forced upon them. Kerslake wasn’t the only one complaining about the state of affairs, but his voice might have been the loudest. “Ken wanted to control the band, and he couldn’t, not with myself and Micky around,” CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 67
Uriah Heep circa 1980: (l-r) Bernie Shaw, Mick Box, Lee Kerslake, Phil Lanzon, Trevor Bolder.
Still behind the kit: Lee Kerslake at home on May 30, 2014.
“I’ve got no choice but to laugh. And of course music helps me to keep on fighting.”
studio I replied: ‘When I’m ready; I bought onefifth of this place’.” ee had toyed with a solo project, but then he received a call from the German concert promoter, Ossy Hoppe, who revealed that Ozzy had a new band but didn’t have a drummer. “What I did was – and this is the absolute truth – I auditioned them as they auditioned me,” Lee beams. “I wasn’t going straight back into another band to be treated again like a second-class citizen. I knew Bob from his days with Widowmaker, but I’d never seen or heard Randy before. Randy was the tiniest kid, so thin and good looking.
MAIN: ROB MONK; INSET: ALAMY
he sighs now. “But there were times when I had to say to Micky: ‘I can’t fight all of the problems, because I haven’t the strength, not alone’. It caused me to leave the band. And I’m glad that I did so.” It all came to a head in October 1979. Kerslake still simmers when recounting his first exit from Uriah Heep – at the hand of Gerry Bron, although the orders came from Ken Hensley. “Bron actually called me irrelevant,” he seethes. “This was a man who took fifty per cent of our earnings but stopped paying us for a year to finance his airline project. Finally I told him to stick Uriah Heep up his arse – it was the only place it would fit. But when Gerry ordered me from his
“They were both setting up when I arrived at the studio,” he continues. “And then Ozzy arrived – with his hair cut off and wearing a fur coat he looked like a grizzly bear.” Lee remembers that after powering through a single number, possibly I Don’t Know, “Randy jumped up in the air and roared: ‘We’ve got ourselves a fucking drummer!’” igniting a warm friendship between the English drummer and the guitar prodigy from California. Although the writing for the debut was “almost finished” when Kerslake joined Blizzard Of Ozz, he added drum parts and threw in suggestions for words and music. When Jet Records boss Don Arden heard it, he commanded: “Get straight back into the studio and make another one, because you’re going to be away for at least a year and a half on tour in America.” And so it proved. Kerslake and Daisley became scapegoats when Sharon Osbourne demanded the band should play two shows a day in certain cities. Everybody else – including Ozzy and Randy – opposed the proposition, but because Lee had been the messenger his card was marked. “Ozzy had said: ‘No, no, I just can’t do it’, and started shitting himself,” Lee insists. This was an oddly vulnerable point for Ozzy, who at the start of his solo career seemed to be lacking confidence. “He was always a bag of nerves before going on stage,” Lee agrees. “But once out there he became the Ozzy character that we know.” The fleet-fingered, classically trained Rhoads soon became a hot property, his imaginative technique prompting Guitar Player magazine to vote him the Best New Talent of 1981. Always seeking to improve, Rhoads sought out classical guitar tutors on the road. Kerslake had no doubts that had Rhoads not died tragically in the plane crash during the touring for Diary, the developing star would have moved away from rock and into another area of music. “Even before Bob and I were sacked, Randy had told a friend of Bob’s that he was leaving the band,” Lee claims. “He wanted to teach classical guitar. But of course he never got the chance. What happened – going up in a plane, with a pilot on cocaine, which dive-bombed the bus and the wing catching the bus – was completely stupid. But Randy was going to leave, there was no question of that. And he would have found success in anything he turned his hand to.” Lee stepped up with the writing of Diary Of A Madman, and claims he had a hand in most of its eight songs, although this would not prevent
LEE KERSLAKE his ruthless sacking before a second bout of touring. However, the timing of getting the axe and a return to a reconstituted, revitalised Uriah Heep for their 1982 album Abominog now seems almost heaven-sent. “Micky Box wanted to put the band back together again. Oh, how I loved that period and Abominog,” Lee exclaims happily. The reason was simple. “There was no Gerry Bron!” he says, laughing loudly. “Gerry had said: ‘I don’t like those songs.’ And although the album came out through Bronze, he wasn’t the producer. Abominog was a very successful record for us.” Abominog and its follow-up Head First both allowed Heep to enter the 1980s with a fresh and contemporary-sounding reboot. There followed good times and bad, but even at the band’s nadir during the early 90s Lee’s loyalty remained unquestioned. In ’04 he was part of Living Loud, a project featuring Daisley, the Deep Purple duo of Steve Morse and Don Airey, and singer Jimmy Barnes. Eventually, though, in 2007 declining health forced him to walk away from his beloved Uriah Heep for the final time. “That was the hardest thing I ever had to do, but I knew I was ill,” he sighs. “I was so tired that I screwed up on stage – I couldn’t remember one of the songs. I had to own up to Micky Box: ‘I can’t play any more, mate. There are too many things wrong with me.’ So I went to Portugal for a break, came back, and that’s when the doctors told me I had cancer.”
“Ken walked into rehearsals and gave me a huge hug. I was so glad [the bitterness] was over,” Kerslake reminisces. “We had both suffered for the negativity. It was time to let it go.” Kerslake and Hensley appeared together again with Uriah Heep in 2015 at a one-off show in Moscow, playing alongside the current line-up. “I’d love to have done a couple more of those, but it wasn’t to be,” the drummer says ruefully. Kerslake did make another cameo with Heep, appearing from the wings at the band’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire gig back in December. It was just days after he’d announced his terminal illness, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house as he sang backing vocals on Lady In Black with Box and frontman Bernie Shaw, and also joined Gilbrook on the drum riser to hit a few cymbals. “It was a beautiful experience, but back in the dressing room I broke down and cried,” he says. “I have given forty years of my life to that band, and to know there’s not much longer left…” His voice trails off. “I’d still love to do something bigger
here followed a course of chemotherapy, “which went slightly wrong”, and a period of time spent in isolation wards. Kerslake recalls Lee at home in London with some of his precious being at Lewisham Hospital and platinum discs, for deciding that he’d had enough, Blizzard Of Ozz. and informed the medical staff that he was going home. “A doctor said: ‘Do so and you’ll be dead by the time you get there’. Bang – that’s when the severity hit me. I was told that my condition was worse than Aids; contract even a touch of a cold and I was a goner.” Heep brought in Russell Gilbrook as Kerslake’s replacement. Twelve years and four with me, Micky and Ken.” albums later, Gilbrook remains with the group, Kerslake’s reconnection with Hensley is such who have undergone yet another revival in that, should remaining time allow, there’s talk of fortunes, including last year’s well-received Living working together again in some capacity. The Dream album. The ever-candid Kerslake praises Meanwhile, there’s a crowdfunding appeal for his successor, but admits it took time adjusting to an autobiographical documentary. Titled Not On Gilbrook’s ‘busier’ style. “At first Russ thrashed The Heep, it was born in the most random manner around like a lunatic on The Muppet Show, but he’s after Kerslake happened to meet and strike up learned to pull things back,” he says, smiling. “Now a conversation with the British actress-turnedhe’s tremendous.” BAFTA-nominated writer and director Tayla While still with Heep, despite having vowed Goodman in Crystal Palace Park. The never to absolve the “skulduggery” of the past documentary will feature appearances from Def (“Ken’s become a born again Christian – what Leppard’s Joe Elliott and Deep Purple’s Ian Paice. bollocks! He did evil things,” Lee once thundered), With the project already “two-thirds completed”, Kerslake did eventually forgive Hensley, when the Lee hopes to include David Gilmour, Gene keyboard player made a guest appearance with the Simmons, Paul Stanley and a number of other band at an event called The Magician’s Birthday musician pals. Party in London in 2001. “The point of the film is friendship,” Lee
explains. “I’m emphasising the camaraderie between musicians who remain mates even when they don’t speak to one another for twenty or thirty years.” He also has a new studio album called Eleventeen on the horizon. “It’s a varied mix of styles, from a ballad about my mum to a singalong pub song called A Port And A Brandy,” he reveals. “With all of my illnesses, it took three and a half years to make. Ideally the documentary and album will be released simultaneously, but they are what they are and I’m proud of them.” Besides his acknowledgement from Ozzy, Kerslake recently flew to California to be inducted into the Hall Of Heavy Metal History (Bob Daisley, unable to attend, sent John Sykes as a proxy). Kerslake’s eyes have threatened to produce tears throughout our conversation today, but on his face now is a massive grin. “I’m smiling because I’ve seen life,” he explains. “I was a few hundred feet away when those planes crashed into the Twin Towers on 9/11 [Lee was in New York fighting the Osbournes on that fateful day in 2001]. The experience had a big effect upon me.” Were it possible to go back and alter some things from along the way, what would they be? “I don’t think I’d change anything, except the illnesses,” he says. “I made my mistakes, and I tried to learn from them.” As a much younger man, Kerslake was feisty and bullish. Today his inner calm and dignity are impressive. “I was full of energy back then; I could go three days without sleep. But I never had an ego. I always stayed myself.” Is it fair to say he could be feisty and short-tempered in his youth? “Maybe,” he says, grinning. “I lost my rag because I always knew what I wanted – and I didn’t like people standing in my way.” How would he like to be remembered? “As one of the great drummers in rock music and as a songwriter,” is the solemn response. “I’m underappreciated as a writer. People just don’t know that me, Randy and Bob wrote Diary Of A Madman. I hope people think of me as a decent human being. I don’t think I’m an asshole, I like myself.” Forgiveness for Ozzy and Sharon and also for Hensley is one thing, but Kerslake refuses to extend it to the late Gerry Bron, who passed away in 2012. “I could go on forever about how badly Gerry ripped off the band and me, but he’s dead now,” he states. “Let him rest in peace, and I’ll keep on going for as long as I can.” Preparing to take my leave, I ask him where he’ll hang his precious platinum discs. “In the bedroom, so I can see them when I drift off to sleep and again in the morning,” he replies. “I worked hard for them, so why not?”
“I hope people think of me as a decent human being. I don’t think I’m an asshole, I like myself.”
To contribute to Kerslake’s film go to indiegogo. com/projects/not-on-the-heep# CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 69
Led by arguably the best slide guitarist of his generation and a singer who oozes sweet soul, the Tedeschi Trucks Band’s ‘old-fashioned’ values are a vital element of their success. Words: David Sinclair
ay you live in interesting times’ is said to be an old Chinese curse, the idea being that periods of peace, happiness and tranquillity are inherently uninteresting. For Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks the times could hardly have been any more ‘interesting’ during the writing and recording of the fourth studio album by their Tedeschi Trucks Band, a record simply and appropriately called Signs. “The times that music has really mattered have been times like this,” Trucks says. “It seems to be the whole civilised world is in an uproar. There’s an inflection point that’s close… You can feel it in the air.” Trucks, 39, who is perhaps the pre-eminent slide guitarist of his generation, and Tedeschi, 48, one of the most soulful singers in the Americana-rock tradition, have been married since 2001, and finally joined forces as bandleaders in 2010. Their musical alliance has proved as successful as their marital bond. Which is just as well, since in recent times the pair have found themselves assailed not only by the political turmoil that has engulfed the USA since the presidential election of 2016, but also by a tide of personal loss. Trucks, who was a member of the Allman Brothers Band from 1999 to 2014, lost his former bandleader Gregg Allman and his uncle Butch Trucks, percussionist in the Allmans, both of whom died at the age of 69 and within six months of each other in 2017. Their passing followed that of Leon Russell, a major musical inspiration with whom Tedeschi and Trucks staged a special show in 2015 in honour of Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs And Englishmen tour, on which Russell was its ringmaster. And, in the most ironic circumstances of all, the legendary bandleader Col Bruce Hampton, an old mentor and close friend of both Tedeschi and Trucks, dropped dead during the final encore of a show at the Fox Theatre in his home town Atlanta to celebrate his 70th birthday. “It was really horrible,” Tedeschi says. “We were on stage with him at the time. I was singing and Derek was playing, and he fell. People thought he was faking, because he used to work that into his show sometimes. Maybe he’d been preparing us all those years. There were so many musicians on stage: Warren Haynes, Jimmy Herring, all people who loved him. He was singing one of his favourite songs, Bobby Bland’s Turn On Your Lovelight. And the whole audience was yelling ‘Broooce! Brooooce!’ and who knows, maybe his heart just exploded with love.” The final track on Signs, a song called The Ending, is a delicate acoustic elegy to Hampton: ‘His face is dancing, his eyes bugging out/Looking in your soul and pulling it right out…/He fell out on stage with a smile on his face/Never giving away the ending.’ It’s a sad, simple song which closes an album that is an organically grown masterpiece. Recorded analogue to tape in Tedeschi and Trucks’s backyard studio Swamp Raga in Jacksonville, Florida, Signs is a musical testament to the depth and power of creative collaboration. The
elected. “He told me: ‘Music’s important again,’” songwriting contributions are spread widely across Trucks says. “He was right.” the 12 members of the band. Some of the numbers, such as I’m Gonna Be There, with its soul/ he Tedeschi Trucks Band is as much an funk groove, and the southern soul ballad When extended family as a rock’n’roll group. Will I Begin, are ornamented with richly detailed “We have twelve band members and string, horn and vocal arrangements, while others twelve people that are our crew,” Tedeschi says. such as the chugging, Stones-style rocker They “That’s twenty-four of us on the road, and we look Don’t Shine, are stripped to the essentials. after each other. A lot of bands go off and it’s all At the emotional core of the album is a rallying rock’n’roll and partying and they leave the crew cry and a wake-up call for “a world in uproar”, as behind. That’s not us. We’re a team. We care Trucks describes it. The most powerful track, about each other. And I think that comes through Shame, with a threshing, whirling riff which echoes in the music.” the Allman Brothers classic Whipping Post, unfolds His years in the Allman Brothers Band taught with a seething, state-of-the-disunion lyric that Trucks many valuable lessons about stagecraft and damns everyone it touches: ‘Shame – there’s poison in maintaining a sense of the well/Shame – you know we mission. He also learned can’t unring the bell’. exactly what not to do in There is a clear political order to ensure that a band message in all this. Times are runs smoothly at all times. tough, and Tedeschi has no “The Allman Brothers doubts about where the had some legendary blame lies. dysfunctions,” he says with “It’s not a beautiful a wry laugh. “The biggest situation that we’re living in lesson I learned is that when right now,” she says. “I don’t a situation comes up or actually know why people Susan Tedeschi when there are grievances, like Donald Trump. They say it doesn’t go away. We’d be it’s because of business. But doing rehearsals in 2005, and something would he’s not a good businessman, so I don’t buy it. come up and you’d hear: ‘This is the same shit as But other people do. Watching this president has happened in 1975…’ The argument would go been a lesson for all of us. How can he get away back thirty-something years and would still be with all of the things he does? Is it white privilege? going on! So with our band if there’s a problem, Who knows? if there’s something brewing, we deal with it then “One thing I’ve learned from travelling all round and there.” the world is people generally care about the same things and want similar things,” she says. “It’s not Signs is out now via Snakefarm/Fantasy Records. about socialism, it’s about being human and loving and caring about each other and trying to fix stuff. Postscript: On February 15, the day that Signs was released, And caring not just about us as a species, but other the band’s keyboard player and flautist Kofi Burbridge died, animals and everything else that lives here too, cos aged 57, from complications arising from a heart attack he we’re all a miracle.” had suffered the year before. He played on the album, and For Trucks, as a musician and songwriter, the arranged the string section performed by the Jacksonville lesson goes back to something his late friend Col Symphony Orchestra on the track When Will I Begin. Bruce Hampton said to him just after Trump was
“We have twelve band members and twelve crew. We’re a team. We care about each other.”
“We’re going to need a bigger tour bus…” the dozen-strong Tedeschi Trucks band.
He’s the Swedish speed demon whose six-string theatrics have enthralled and infuriated in equal measure since the 80s. Now, Yngwie Malmsteen has made… wait for it… a blues album. Words: Nick Hasted
“You want to photograph me without a guitar! Are you mad, dude?!”
“I could kill you with my stare, and my mad skillz…” Malmsteen in the 90s.
with the New Japan Philharmonic shows him in his element: a florid frock-coated soloist in a concert hall, eyes squeezed shut, fingers flying up and down the frets as dozens of musicians faithfully play his mutant magnum opus. The fervent Deep Purple fan was both developing Jon Lord’s concept for their Concerto For Group And Orchestra and merging his classical upbringing with his metal maturity. Although it’s sometimes absurd, and Beethoven needn’t roll over, his serious joy in work he totally believes in is a pleasure to watch. almsteen’s new album, Blue Lightning, is by contrast a blues album (suggested by his label, Mascot), with new songs alongside covers both highly familiar (Smoke On The Water, Purple Haze, Paint It Black) and left-field (Eric Clapton’s Forever Man). What makes this more surprising is his characteristically blunt opinion on the blues a decade back. “My whole approach to guitar playing,” he told journalist Steven Rosen in 2008, “was to remove myself from that incest of the blues mentality… I don’t want to have anything to do with blues, which is the most limited, the most pathetic kind of music… It’s like staying in first gear in a Ferrari. I don’t want to do a whole blues album.” “Yeah, it’s a great thing that you brought that up,” he raps back. “I know that I used to be quite outspoken in a lot of different ways, and sometimes I take it back. But this time I want to explain what I meant.” And so he does, at length and at breathless speed much like his playing. As he traces his unusually difficult relationship with the blues, he also tells the origin story of Yngwie Malmsteen the respectable Swede who gave it all up to play lightning-fast rock’n’roll as if it was a symphony. “I grew up in a classically trained family – opera singers and pianists and violinists,” he says of his childhood. Aged five he was learning piano, flute, trumpet, drums and “classical rudimentary whatever”, until that glimpse of Jimi flamboyantly
The charges levelled against the cell’s temporary new occupant are minor but long-standing: he has riled his detractors by the blizzards of notes which have blown through his records since he arrived in the US in 1982, and sent bandmates spare by dictating every sound they make. ‘So what?’ he’ll shrug. ‘Ever heard of Beethoven?’ He’ll similarly contend he’s no mere shredder (despite helping to popularise guitar playing as an Olympic speed trial), instead launching the playing of his instrument into new realms of classical range and technique. A TV glimpse of Hendrix burning his guitar at Monterey was one formative influence on Malmsteen the Stockholm child prodigy. Niccolò Paganini, the nineteenthcentury violinist whose fiery flights led to Robert Johnson-like rumours of supping with Satan, mattered more. Malmsteen’s 1998 album Concerto Suite For Electric Guitar And Orchestra is his selfdeclared pinnacle. And the DVD of its live debut
“I used to be quite outspoken in a lot of different ways, and sometimes I take it back.”
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’ve been in joints like this before,” Yngwie Malmsteen says as he settles into his cell. The posh Soho hotel where rock’s premier neo-classical speed demon greets Classic Rock is, it turns out, a former courthouse once visited unwillingly by Oscar Wilde, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and John Lennon; a painting of the latter on the wall looms over the guitarist’s shoulder. Even Wilde might have thought twice about Malmsteen’s entrance into the place’s now chic lobby. With his crow’s-nest hair, long leather jacket, leather trousers and black shirt open to the waist, he looks like Gene Simmons crossed with Elvis. Metal bracelets jangle when he raises his hand and peers over mirror shades to make a point. Tall, with the comfortable build of the King circa 1973, he also recalls Presley in a southern softness to his accent, its Swedishness now burnt out by 30 years living in Miami.
Red hot playing Wembley Arena in 2012.
Yngwie with singer Joe Lynn Turner in 1988.
“I think it was a harsh statement,” he adds of his blues diatribe. “But I’d like to point out that I admire Buddy Guy, I admire BB King. A lot of blues players, I love them. Angus Young is a blues player, and he’s a fucking good one, because he really means everything he does. ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons – come on! I love these guys! I really love them! I just have to say that’s not where I’m going.” Unlike those hard-line bluesmen and rockers, though, Malmsteen’s roots are European, and classical. So did blues seem kind of dumb? “‘Dumb’ is the wrong word. Because I hear BB King play one note, and that one note has more meaning than fucking… I don’t even know how to explain it. I get chills just thinking about it. I don’t want to call that dumb. For instance, when I play on stage every night I play Albinoni’s Adagio In G. That’s a classical piece. But I play it with a feeling of blues. So is blues an expression, or is it the pentatonic scale? I think it’s an expression. So I don’t think ‘dumb’ is a good word. ‘Limited’ is.” f Malmsteen’s feelings about blues seem to be the most tortured of any major guitarist, wait until you hear him on his homeland. To many, Sweden is an enviable egalitarian utopia, symbolised by ABBA’s sunny optimism. The nation’s most revered rock instrumentalist begs to differ “Growing up in Sweden in the seventies was a very bare thing,” he says. “There was no external input at all; there was only one TV station, there was only one music radio station, there was a record store, a music store, and your friends at school. No one knew what was going on. I liked Deep Purple, but no one told me what Rainbow was. You had to have a lot of internal imagination. And no one was telling me what to do and what not to do. Or maybe they did and I wasn’t listening properly.” The Cold War with Sweden’s near neighbour Russia required his dad – an irregular presence since divorcing when Yngwie was a baby – to become, his son discovered later, a “007”, spying on the Soviets. Young Yngwie, meanwhile exaggerated his natural intransigence to be declared unfit for national service, claiming he’d turn the army’s guns on himself. No, it wasn’t the threat of World War III which made Yngwie
Alcatrazz in 1983: (clockwise from top left) Yngwie Malmsteen, Gary Shea, Jan Uvea, Graham Bonnet, Jimmy Waldo.
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“When it comes to something that’s an obstacle, I just crash right through it. Because failure’s unacceptable.” destroying his flaming guitar on a news item the day of his death (September 18, 1970) made sevenyear-old Yngwie pull an acoustic guitar he’d been gifted from the wall. “Nobody taught me, I played what sounded like a bluesy thing. “Then I heard Deep Purple’s Fireball when I was eight. That was an extension of the blues again, because Deep Purple, let’s not be mistaken, was a blues band. And I was so fanatical about my guitar-playing that I would play fifteen hours a day when I was seven. I mean, I could play anything – ‘diddle-e-diddle-ee-diddle-ee’ [imitating his infantschool shredding].” The point of Malmsteen’s story today is that he was playing the five-note pentatonic scale that all blues is built from. “Then I heard Genesis’s Selling England By The Pound, and that freaked me out. And
I also heard [its nonpentatonic, inverted notes] in my mother’s Bach and Vivaldi records. Then I saw Paganini’s 24 Caprice No. 5 on TV, and it stirred me. But have you heard of a tenyear-old kid who wants to play classical things on the electric guitar? No. So why would I do that? Because I like the challenge. And I had some weird idea that it was what I was meant to do.” As for his old dismissal of the genre he’s just made an album in, he only half takes it back. “What I meant was that I revolted against the pentatonic box, which every guitar player you can name is in – Hendrix, Keith Richards, Schenker, Van Halen. And Blue Lightning isn’t all pentatonic. So I stand by that.
Men in black: Malmsteen meets his hero Ritchie Blackmore in 1985.
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A man can never have enough guitars? Oh yes he can.
mad. It was how fucking fair everything was. ‘I’m a genius, he seethed – get me out of here.’ “I was very un-Swedish then, and I’m un-Swedish now,” he explains. “I didn’t fit in at all with the mentality that no one’s better than anyone else. If everyone’s the same, there would be no art.” Art class was one battleground. “My uncle was an illustrator, and when I was younger I was very talented at drawing,” he says. “But the teacher would go: [adopting a Muppets Swedish chef accent] ‘Let Lars and Anders do the drawing, because everybody is the same.’ And their drawing was like a stick man, and mine was really fucking out-there, Salvador Dali shit. There’s this word in Swedish that doesn’t exist in any other language – lagom – that means ‘not too much, not too little’. My mentality is more is ‘More!’ And I’ve always been like that.” Adolescent Yngwie drove his motorbike into school, got into fights for telling classmates they were idiots, and favoured playing guitar over attending at all. And yet his long-suffering school was a model of supportive sympathy. “I was treated really well,” he concedes, “because they would let me have a key for the woodwork studio so I could go in there and file out frets and shit on my guitar. They were really nice, actually. And I did have straight As in everything, although I didn’t even go.” Spells with a luthier and a classical conservatoire saw him to the end of compulsory education. What a nightmare it all sounds.
anding in the USA in 1982 to realise his rock dreams, 18-year-old Malmsteen found his promised land. “It was California, so there’s no classical music, and they don’t read [music],” he says. “But it was more upbeat. I felt much more like I belonged. I later learned that they’d say in schools: ‘You could grow up to be president of the United States.’ In Sweden we were basically told: ‘Stay in your place, and shut the fuck up.’” Unsurprisingly, Donald Trump is Malmsteen’s kind of President. The economic achievements he reels off might benefit from factchecking, but putting America first makes “perfect sense”, the guitarist believes. The president also does exactly what he wants, paying little attention to pesky rules or even his own party. This would surely be President Malmsteen’s approach? “Ha ha, yeah…” he muses of being the main man in the White House. “The thing is that Congress has almost equal power, and if I were to get to a position like that I would have to work with that. But that’s why I probably wouldn’t do that sort of thing. Actually, I can’t,” he remembers, “because I wasn’t born there.” Along with Swedish society, school and democratic checks, Malmsteen also doesn’t dig
being in bands where anyone but him has a say. Although he was backed by a regular line-up of his band Rising Force during the 80s, as time went on drummers would find their kit tuned, and every beat weighed and planned by their boss in the studio, as if the musicians were just notes on a score. Lead singers such as former Rainbow frontman Joe Lynn Turner were let go one by one. Now, on Blue Lightning Malmsteen sings and plays everything himself. “Some bands wouldn’t really function without each other, like Led Zeppelin, and that’s awesome,” he considers. “I was never like that. Even as a student I was thought of as an egomaniac. Which even if I might be, that’s not why I work that way. I do so because I have no confusion about what I want.” He views other musicians not as bandmates but employees, paid to play his music, and regrets his early weakness in letting singers write their lyrics. “Other guitar-players that hire singers, like Schenker and Blackmore, just let them sing whatever the hell they want,” he reflects. “But then it’s not my full message. And that’s very important to me.” And yet so much great music has been created from the mysterious sparks and magic of musicians being together in a room. Has
“I was so fanatical about my guitar playing that I would play fifteen hours a day, when I was seven.”
“My other guitar’s a Ferrari.” Malmsteen has found paradise in Miami.
1983 attracted 30 people to LA’s Country Club. A week later, word of mouth brought many more to their gig at the Troubadour. Soon, ‘Yngwie Is God’ graffiti spread. “I remember we played some shithole in Long Beach, and Phil Mogg came, and he said: ‘Hey, I’m putting together UFO again.’” Malmsteen was offered the guitarist spot with both UFO and Bonnet on the same day. “So I called Graham from Phil’s house and said: ‘Okay, I’ll join your band. Couple of things. Get a new drummer…’ And this thing which was supposed to be Graham Bonnet’s thing became my thing. It started a lot of frustration with the other guys. It was supposed to be me as part of a band, but it ended up not being that.” Alcatrazz’s success in Japan led to Malmsteen signing a solo deal there. “So my Rising Force record was recorded one year after I came to America.” It hit the US Top 60, and his compromising days were done. Asked if he ever doubts himself, he pauses, as if flummoxed by the thought. “I debate with myself: ‘Would this be the right thing, or not?’ But I’d say most of the time I’m pretty clear.”
“My mentality is more is more! And I’ve always been like that.”
t the height of his American success, in June 1987 he ploughed his Jaguar into a tree. “I had a brain haemorrhage, and it fucked up some of the nerve endings, which resulted in my right hand not being able to move properly,” he told Rock Scene soon afterwards. Around the same time, his mother died. When he woke from his
Blue Lightning is out now via Mascot Records.
AUSTIN HARGRAVE/PRESS A
Malmsteen really never got anything from collaboration? “The weirdest thing is that I have to really sit here and think about that,” he says. There have been pleasant times with his peers, like his three tours since 2016 with Steve Vai’s guitar supergroup Generation Axe, which also features Zakk Wylde, Extreme’s Nuno Bettencourt and Animals As Leaders’ Tosin Abasi. “We hang out on the bus,” he says, “and it’s a really great feeling.” Participating in Vai’s arrangement of Bohemian Rhapsody last year as part of this “guitar orchestra” was “an interesting test of discipline”. Malmsteen finally can think of just one musician who told him something he didn’t know: Cozy Powell, one of his “heroes of all time”, who he “drew maps” to make his own drummers sound like, played on his 1997 album Facing The Animal. “Cozy told me: ‘You have to have two ballads on the album.’ And the only time I’ve ever listened to anybody was Cozy.” It makes you wonder how he managed when he was first invited to America after demos for Swedish CBS found their way on to Californian college radio, leading to him joining Ron Keel’s metal band Steeler for their self-titled 1983 debut. Malmsteen then switched to British singer Graham Bonnet’s band Alcatrazz, shortly after Bonnet had been ousted from the Michael Schenker Group. Even straight off the plane aged 18 and in a strange land, Malmsteen confesses he couldn’t hide his frustration in these other people’s bands. “Steeler was Ron Keel’s band, a hundred per cent,” he explains. “And it was my ticket to the United States. I figured I can make an album, and he let me play whatever the fuck I want.” Malmsteen’s live debut with Steeler, on March 3,
coma, physically shattered and unable to play, surely even he paused to doubt? “When I first came out of the coma I was all drugged up, so I didn’t think about anything. I was kind of laughing. But there were times, of course. The worst part was my mother passing. And on top of that I was ripped off with all my money, and my house. But I think that’s a test. It was definitely the darkest time. And I often think back to that when something doesn’t go my way – if I can fucking go through that, I can go through anything. That was maybe the worst ever.” So was his only reaction at that desperate time to plough on? “Absolutely. Hanging it up never entered my mind. It was, okay, fucking crunch time. How I was going to do it was a different thing. Basically the way I looked at it is I’m not dead. So obviously there were some doubts. But I’m pretty determined. When it comes to something that’s an obstacle, I just crash right through it. Because failure’s unacceptable.” After his hand had healed, he practised even more. His biggest US hit, Odyssey, followed in 1988. He is clearly not like other people. And as he explains his indomitable nature, and lists all the privileges and support his highly artistic family and loathed Swedish system gave him in his formative years, I’m reminded of interviewing another rock star for Classic Rock. Kid Rock, too, was a likeable guy, who was raised, I discovered when I visited Romeo, Michigan, in an idyllic village. Like Malmsteen, he was a rebel in paradise, seemingly impatient with less fortunate souls who couldn’t help but fail. Malmsteen does, though, readily acknowledge where he’s living these days. “Miami doesn’t seem like a paradise, it is!” he exclaims. “As soon as I get home I just go play tennis, and take the [convertible] top down in January, no problem.” He’s also self-aware enough to concede that there were some advantages to isolated, winter-dark Sweden. “One time I was telling my son Antonio how much I love Miami. And he goes: ‘Yeah, but if you grew up here you probably wouldn’t end up where you are.’ He’s probably right. Because I would be on the beach, not working in a cold studio. So in the end it was useful.” Europe, other Swedish rockers who made it out in the 80s, are these days revered in their home town of Upplands Väsby. As with so many things, though, Malmsteen’s relationship to his roots is less simple. “Umm… I don’t really get back there very often.” He pauses. “It doesn’t feel like home. I’ve been away thirty-seven years. I suppose they have put a ‘legendary’ status on me there, for some reason. But I don’t really think twice about that stuff.” He slips into something he is comfortable with: being a shameless, happy, classic rock star. “I drive round in my Ferrari with my top down and baseball cap on and no shirt, and I don’t try to look like nothing,” he says. “And they know who I am anyway. It doesn’t matter the fuck if it’s Sweden or America. Before, if I went round the States, it would be: [hick voice] ‘Hey, are you in Bon Jovi?’ Now it’s: ‘Hey, you’re Yngwie Malmsteen.’”
David Bowie Pre-fame acoustic works-in-progress get boxed.
Classic Rock Ratings QQQQQQQQQQ QQQQQQQQQQ QQQQQQQQQQ QQQQQQQQQQ QQQQQQQQQQ QQQQQQQQQQ QQQQQQQQQQ QQQQQQQQQQ QQQQQQQQQQ QQQQQQQQQQ
84 Albums p92 Reissues p96 Buyerâ€™s Guide p98 DVDs & Books
A Classic Excellent Very Good Good Above Average Average Below Par A Disappointment Pants Pish
Edited By Ian Fortnam
100% ROCK firstname.lastname@example.org
L.A. Guns The Devil You Know FRONTIERS
Suzi Quatro No Control SPV Glam-era ‘Girls can rock too’ trailblazer hasn’t lost her touch.
or many, Suzi Quatro is the living embodiment of rock. Her status as a female pioneer in pop music may be subject to debate, but as music critic Tom Hibbert put it in 1982: “Suzi Quatro, with her tomboy sneers, her bass guitar and her stompingly persuasive teen-tunes, had at least laid down a challenge to the male-dominated rock orthodoxy”. Sure, after her first (major) flush of success her songs lacked oomph, and she hasn’t had a hit since 1980, but that’s part of her appeal: everyday folk can relate to her. She was blazing trails at a time when most people in rock weren’t even aware that a second gender even existed. As the first female bass player and lead singer to become a major rock star, when Quatro started playing in the early 60s, she had no female role models to look up to, so she took inspiration from Billie Holiday and the tight waistcoats of Mary Weiss of The Shangri-La’s. You know Suzi’s inspirational 70s hits: leather catsuit, glam rock, killer pop songs, chart-busting, knee-destroying rock! Can The Can, Devil Gate Drive, 48 Crash, the wonderful Chris Norman duet Stumblin’ In’… Cited as a direct influence on the nascent Runaways and Joan Jett, Quatro’s last hit may have been
nearly 40 years ago, but she’s never stopped rocking. She continues to pack out arenas the world over (especially Australia), having done at least one ‘farewell’ tour before realising it is not in her nature to give up. No Control is her sixteenth studio album, a collaboration with her son Richard Tuckey. It’s a little patchy, but then again it is only her fourth album in the past two decades. Mostly it’s a good-time romp, an unapologetic blast back to the past with some righteous gems: the opening track, single No Soul/No Control, a bluesy blowsy rocker that could be Foo Fighters on a (very) good day, and the blissfully psychedelic, horn-led Strings, on which Suzi seems to be channelling Cher circa And The Beat Goes On. Skip past the ill-advised stab at being a calypso Blondie (Love Isn’t Fair) and the cabaret blues of Going Down Blues (which recalls nothing so much as third-rate Darts), and you’ll find some wonderfully articulated moments. I Can Teach You To Fly recalls prime mid-1960s pop (Turtles, Honeycombs), and Macho Man is the obligatory Devil Gate Drive throwback. The lady has still got it. QQQQQQQQQQ Everett True
Age hasn’t mellowed these Sunset Strip legends. In the late 80s, guitarist Tracii Guns, once the ‘Guns’ in Guns N’ Roses, and singer Phil Lewis, once the pretty face of British glam rockers Girl, had a chemistry that made their band L.A. Guns one of the great bands of the hair-metal era. In 2017, with Guns and Lewis reunited for the band’s aptly named comeback album The Missing Peace, after 14 years apart, it was once again evident how much these guys were made for each other. The Missing Peace was a streetwise rock’n’roll record as hard and dirty as the band’s classic self-titled debut. The Devil You Know continues in the same vein. Rage has high-speed thrills and a chant of ‘I am a sick motherfucker!’, the title track is Sabbath-inspired heavy grind, and the closest thing to a ballad is called Another Season In Hell. As Lewis says: “You want a love song? Fuck off and listen to Journey.” QQQQQQQQQQ Paul Elliott
Melissa Etheridge The Medicine Show SNAKEFARM
Grizzled-voiced singer’s fourteenth album. Melissa Etheridge’s tired covers album Memphis Rock & Soul in 2016 suggested she’d run out of songwriting ideas. Three years on, from the moment the title track opens proceedings with a fearsome blast of percussion, layered vocals and sizzling guitar reminiscent of Mutt Lange-era Def Leppard, she’s firing on all cylinders again. She takes on the opioid crisis on Here Comes The Pain and the Parkland shootings on Last Hello, but she gets personal too, and with I Know You, on which Beck’s father David Campbell arranged the strings, Etheridge is re-crowned queen of the sapphic ballad. The real gem, though, is the anti-Trump Shaking. She’s sounded angry before, but never like this (although it is quite like Green Day’s American Idiot), and by the end she’s reminding herself how to breathe. The Medicine Show is her
biggest-sounding album this century. In a reasonable world it will be her biggest-selling album of the century too. QQQQQQQQQQ John Aizlewood
Terrorvision Party Over Here… Live In London EARMUSIC Bradford’s Britrock contingent ride again. Daft as brushes and enthusiastic as Labrador puppies, Terrorvision were always about an unadulterated dose of fun, even in their few angstier songs like Some People Say. And as those of us who came of age during the mid-90s Britrock starburst are now the prime target for nostalgia tours, this live recording makes more sense at this point than it initially seems. It’s telling that their biggest and least representative hit, Tequila (boosted back in the day with a Mint Royale remix), is referenced here only in a snippet of the intro, the band choosing instead to concentrate on meatier singalongs like Alice What’s The Matter? and old favourite knees-up Oblivion. And singalong the audience most certainly does, cheer-led by irrepressible frontman Tony Wright and abetted by a band who are clearly having a blast. That it’s so obviously being released because the band had a great night and want something to remember it by makes it all the more endearing. QQQQQQQQQQ Emma Johnston
The Entrepreneurs Noise & Romance TAMBOURHINOCEROS
Danish trio offer a glimpse into their own little world. The world loves the strange, and Danish threepiece The Entrepreneurs proudly wear their oddness as a badge of honour. On the surface, mainly thanks to frontman Mathias Bertelsens’s keening, sexless vocal style, they share dreamlike characteristics with fellow countrymen Mew, but that’s where the comparison ends, because debut album Noise & Romance offers a much more disjointed, disorienting and unpolished experience. Feedback and noise meet shoegaze atmospherics; pots,
pans and bottles are rattled as ramshackle percussion; psychedelic grooves give way to stark, Krautrock-inspired repetition and chilly new wave melodicism, all presented in a one-take manner that so strongly suggests it was recorded in a mad, single-night rush of tequila-fuelled creativity in a battered old garage that you can almost smell the creosote. As such, while not musically punk in the slightest, this all makes them very punk indeed, whether by accident or design. Nice one, you likeable weirdos. QQQQQQQQQQ Emma Johnston
Yngwie Malmsteen Blue Lightning MASCOT ‘Fastest guitarist on the planet’ contender delivers the blues at 100mph and turned up to 11. Given the pout Yngwie is pulling in the video for his latest single Sun’s Up, Top’s Down, he could have easily got away with calling this latest album Blue Steel. It’s no wonder he’s got the blues – it takes a certain skill-set to go through band members at a rate not seen since super-groupie Pamela Des Barres was at the height of her powers. This mostly covers set sees the guitarist rifling through his old blues record collection,
copping the deft and magical strokes of players like Clapton, Gibbons and Richards and whizzing them through the musical blender until they’re a mash of dense blues chords and arpeggios that takes the very essence of the song and strangles it. To his credit, Malmsteen’s voice has matured into something somewhere between Glenn Hughes and Ian Gillan. No small feat, but it hardly matters, as you get the impression that each vocal take is simply getting in the way of Malmsteen’s desire to set fire to his guitar, kick over his Marshall amp and wail. QQQQQQQQQQ Philip Wilding
Dead Man’s Whiskey Under The Gun Reloaded MCCALL
Homegrown sharpshooters open fire. Dead Man’s Whiskey have stirred up quite a buzz recently, and this expanded edition of their debut album comes in the wake of an appearance at last year’s Ramblin’ Man Fair. Playing a festival named after an Allman Brothers song is appropriate for these Brit up-and-comers; their bluesbased hard rock is shot through with a generous measure of
southern rock, tempered with a metallic edge and jackhammer delivery, exemplified in the hefty riffs and stomping grooves of This Fight and War Machine. Nico Rogers adapts his gravel-toned vocals from the raw feel of flat-out mission statement Live Loud And Ready to blend with the acoustic setting of Proud Of You, and the rest of the band lock in tight to drive and enliven the songs. For the most part they interpret their influences into a sound of their own that’s likely to win them wider acclaim in the future. QQQQQQQQQQ Rich Davenport
Peter Hammill Not Yet Not Now FIE! Vast live box set spans his extraordinary songbook. Eight hours of a near-70-yearold singer, his piano and acoustic guitar might be a hard-work listen, but when it’s this singer and these songs it keeps its grip. In and out of Van der Graaf Generator, Peter Hammill’s work has actually increased in potency with age, as his subject matter of fated human foolishness approaches its natural conclusion. These 98 songs from exceptional 2017 and 2018 shows view a great
rock career from its summit. He does so much with so few elements. During the afternoon affair of Just Good Friends, sluggishly post-coital piano creeps forward tensely. A priest’s perhaps predatory sexual hypocrisy causes Hammill’s voice to wisp upwards in sacred chant, followed by organ-like piano thunder. But then, on Van der Graaf epic La Rossa, his guitar takes a sunny, 70s hippie dance. Few songwriters in rock have contemplated ageing and death so readily. Against this there’s the youthful yearning of 1970’s Refugees, on which Hammill’s tender voice seems to reach out across the years to this hopeful, younger self. Staring into the abyss, he remains a romantic. QQQQQQQQQQ Nick Hasted
Godfathers This Is War! Live! GODFATHERS Reliable live document from stalwart geezers’ geezers. Despite the original line-up of London’s Godfathers having been reduced to sole survivor Peter Coyne – a similarly stoic and imposing presence behind the mic to Lee Brilleaux in latter-day Feelgoods – when it comes to delivering stripped-to-the-bone, high-octane, bollocks-heavy rock’n’roll the Godfathers brand
Nunchucker: a sweat-soaked album full of stampeding, 80s-style arena-rock excess.
Nunchucker Motherfucker Superior
Generally speaking, just having topless nuns on your album cover is usually plenty. I’d buy it just for the teenage shock value. Beyond their obvious willingness to provoke with tits and ‘motherfuckers’,
London’s Nunchucker deliver a thoroughly sweat-soaked album full of stampeding, 80s-style arena-rock excess tempered ever so slightly with a hazy, whiskysozzled Stones fixation. Songs like Drink B4U Think and She’s On The Pole are obviously suggestive of Faster Pussycatstyle cocaine-’n’-spandex pop-metal debauchery, but they also deliver surprisingly complex slow burners like Get Free, a six-minute epic that starts out
remains as reliable as taxes. Coyne’s bass-toting brother Chris left the firm in ‘16, leaving Peter to take the reins, and This Is War! proves beyond doubt that the post-punk era’s leading musical mobster can run a lethal crew just as effectively without a Reggie as he could without any number of guitar-flaying Jack The Hats. Quite frankly, you can’t get a fag paper between today’s Gods and those that signed with Epic Records in ‘87. Obviously, a lot of the barnstorming licks despatched here by Steve Crittall and Alex McBain were originally honed to an enduring razor-sharpness by Kris Dollimore and Mike Gibson, but it doesn’t make them any less lethal when slashed into the ether over two December nights in 2017. Cause I Said So retains a prizefighter’s swagger, psychedelic psychodrama When Am I Coming Down swirls with a dark undertone of menace, I Want Everything only demands, never requests. All are timeless examples of pure sonic aggression delivered with deadeyed fury by serious players with the uniform pallor of the longterm institutionalised. Ultimately, King Coyne hasn’t altered the Godfathers’ chilling modus operandi one jot since taking full control, but if it ain’t broke... QQQQQQQQQQ Ian Fortnam
as an acoustic ballad with an orchestral flourish, then halfway through opens up into a psych-tinged jammer that sounds like something Primal Scream might have come up with in their Rocks days. The infectious glam-slammer 2nd Best Girl is the obvious hit on this one, but the whole thing is worth multiple spins, especially if it’s Saturday night. I see faux-fur coats and giant sunglasses in this band’s future. QQQQQQQQQQ
Stop It! I Know…. SELF-RELEASED Banana’s Cream are Russian hard-rock sex pests who basically sound like White Lion yelling about rubber cocks. All the songs – Black Hole, Ladyboy, Womanizer, A Short Song About Long Dong, etc – are pretty specific odes to some really weird weekends, set to a gloriously squealy 1988 glam-metal soundtrack. Certifiably insane, but fun. QQQQQQQQQQ
Enjoy Your Father’s Money, You Son Of A Bitch SELF-RELEASED Three-quarters of this notorious Canadian sleaze-punk band are dead already. Only guitarist Joey Grimes remains, and by the time this issue of CR goes to print, who knows? Anyway this bracing clutch of stomping, used-leather rock’n’roll is a fitting tribute to this aptly named band. It’s also fitting that they sound like the Dead Boys. QQQQQQQQQQ
Riverbottom Nitemare Band
Stoned And Brutal SELF-RELEASED Sleazy street-doom colliding with evictionnotice punk rock in some disgusting Midwestern basement where half a dozen people have probably hanged themselves from the rusty sewer pipes since 1976. The singer sounds like he died five days ago and was reanimated with a car battery and broken glass. Stoned and brutal is fucking right. QQQQQQQQQQ
I Hope You O.D. VOODOO RHYTHM What we have here is Swiss creeps in ski masks puking up mondo-distorto trashrock with zero finesse. All the songs are about being dead or at least wanting to be. BTO named their classic 1974 album Not Fragile because they wanted to be “the opposite of whatever Yes was”. Well, it took a few decades, but I found it. This is the exact opposite of Yes. QQQQQQQQQQ CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 85
Robin Trower Coming Closer To The Day MASCOT/PROVOGUE
Devin Townsend Empath INSIDEOUT Genre-hopping muso’s expansive, ambitious, multi-faceted mash-up.
f you’re going to go big, then you’d do well to get a member or two of Frank Zappa’s old band involved. Better still, what about roping in a women’s choir, an orchestra or, I don’t know, maybe the guy out of Nickleback? Never backwards in coming forwards, over the past 25 years Devin Townsend has embraced everything from musical theatre to country to crunching heavy metal. He even worked with The Wildhearts. All he needs is a spoken-word record and he’ll have pretty much covered all the bases. Unsurprisingly, it’s an approach that has mostly kept the mainstream media at bay, but that’s something you imagine Townsend losing very little sleep over. If he sleeps at all – Empath is clearly the work of a man whose synapses are snapping with life and ideas 24 hours a day. To say that his latest album covers a broad spectrum of music is like saying the Grand Canyon is a hole in the ground. All bets are off, all doors open and consciousness is expanded. The last track on the album might come in at more than 20 minutes long, be subdivided into six parts (including There Be Monsters and Here Comes The Sun!) and include some wonderful lyrical guitar playing from Steve Vai set atop waves of lush harmony from Anneke Van 86 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
Giersbergen, but after what Townsend has come up with previously that’s not even a surprise. In fact you’d be disappointed if it wasn’t so histrionic, indulgent and driven. In context, it sounds like the final mental thrashing of a fever dream; the clashing of the real world against the fantasy bends of the mind as you awake. Stacked playfully from the beginning, Genesis roils, falls and rises like the doomed fishing boat from The Perfect Storm. Encompassing prog metal, it sounds like the soundtrack to a Disney movie about a cartoon princess – with some pulverising drumming that makes you think your headphones might rattle out of your ears. Its real strength is that Townsend manages, God knows how, to make it glide and then hold together. Ditto Spirits Will Collide: massed choirs, thunderous, marching vocals and somehow ever uplifting. Borderlands is complete mayhem. Why? is a West End theatre romp buoyed by strings and a soaring vocal arrangement, playful and dazzling with occasional backing vocals by who you can only assume is Sesame Street’s Oscar The Grouch. Which in this company sounds like the most natural thing in the world. QQQQQQQQQQ Philip Wilding
Days sequencer), singer-keyboard player Yogi Laing intoning with airy Gilmour strain and guitarist Kalle Wallner loving those stratospheric flights. Grandiose on Welcome To The Freak Show, benefiting from glacial Mellotron tones rogering the fragrant cheeks of early Genesis on Give Birth To The Sun, RPWL are built to lather European festivals. QQQQQQQQQQ Kris Needs
Veteran guitarist reaches terminal velocity. Death is at Robin Trower’s elbow on the 74-year-old’s latest album – the title, he says, is an acknowledgement that “I’m nearer the end than the beginning”, while the grizzled vocal of opener Diving Bell likens him to ‘a burnt-out car, broken pieces is how things are’. Yet the ticking clock has its benefits. Trower plainly no longer gives a rat’s arse about courting the Bridge Of Sighs demographic, and his late-period material is growing pleasingly selfish, drilling deeper into the 50s US blues masters, wringing his Stratocaster for soul over cosmetic flash. The song structures are familiar and the vocals at times perfunctory, but the material on Coming Closer To The Day is lifted by a guitar touch to be savoured. Ghosts and Lonesome Road are slow-march standouts, with swollen notes worthy of BB King and manic tremolo picking that justifies that well-meant Hendrix comparison. The aforementioned Diving Bell breaks into a visceral wah lead, while Someone Of Great Renown is surprisingly funky for a man anticipating the Reaper’s knock. Hold the platinum discs, but Coming Closer To The Day should delight its niche audience. QQQQQQQQQQ Henry Yates
Warpaint CENTURY MEDIA/RED MUSIC Stripped back rock’n’roll. If they’re honest, Buckcherry haven’t hit the right groove since 2005’s 15 album. But on Warpaint, their eighth studio release, they’ve got back on track, spitting out attitude, energy and rawness, yet do it with a sense of tuneful technique. Josh Todd’s vibrant vocal style comes into its own on the title track, the striding The Alarm and the almost funky Closer, while Stevie D and Kevin Roentgen provide a dual guitar path that’s sharp yet loose, in a pleasingly trashy manner. And there’s a confident mainstream neatness on the aptly titled Radio Song. Best of all, though, are the Aerosmith soaked The Devil’s In The Detail and a surprising cover of Nine Inch Nails’ Head Like A Hole, which pays respect to the original, but here belongs to the Bucks. QQQQQQQQQQ Malcolm Dome
Tales From Outer Space
Shimmer Into Nature KSCOPE Rambling psychedelic symphonies. Ed Wynne has been masterminding Ozric Tentacles for nearly 40 years. On Shimmer Into Nature, his first solo album, he lets his music expand into so many differing mazes that he could easily have got lost. Yet across the album’s five instrumentals he binds everything together by allowing multiple themes to develop in parallel. There are touches of electronica, reggae, funk, classical and space rock juxtaposed in a manner that could easily have unravelled. However, such is Wynne’s discipline and technique that you can’t help but feel you’re
GENTLE ART OF MUSIC
Bavarian proggers’ sci-fi compendium. For their eighth studio album, Bavarian quartet RPWL eschew the complete concepts of previous works like Beyond Man In Time to present seven shortstory songs with a sci-fi theme. For example the opening A New World concerns aliens who visit the band, but learn of Earth’s evil just through touching them and bugger off back to where they came from. The Floyd influence still rules, notably on Not Our Place To Be, which features David Gilmour/ Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets bassist Guy Pratt on urgent riffage. But the seven lengthy tracks are predominantly funereal (apart from What I Really Need’s jolly One Of These
being enticed into an alternative universe where such swirling freedom of expression is a welcome head-fuck. QQQQQQQQQQ Malcolm Dome
Idlewild Interview Music EMPTY WORDS Varied and unpredictable return to form for Edinburgh rock billowers. Once Edinburgh’s most celebrated stage-gnawing 90s punk rabble, Idlewild matured too far too fast – through their peak as the Scottish R.E.M. on cloudbusting classics The Remote Part and Warnings/Promises in the mid 00s, to trad-rock iniquity before their first 15 years were up. A 2015 comeback lacked any renewed vigour, so it’s a relief to find this eighth album bounding up to the gates waving some fresh ideas. The return of producer Dave Eringa brings some of the old billow and crunch (and a touch of Green Day) to the chiming keyboards and gnarled guitars of Forever New, All These Words and Dream Variations – at least until it shifts gears into a psychsoul mind-melt redolent of Mansun – while the title track has an angular new-wave unpredictability and a midsection that sounds like The Who’s Baba O’Riley gone feral.
Interludes of post-rock soundscape shroud more traditional folk power ballads like You Wear It Second Hand, and the 80s funk pop of There’s A Place For Everything is fun, if doubly dated. There’s a cranky adventurousness to the whole endeavour and, most vitally, they still have the ability to channel elemental pop-rock choruses. Belatedly, a comeback worthy of Idlewild’s name. QQQQQQQQQQ Mark Beaumont
Brant Bjork Jacoozi HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS Improvised instrumental haziness from stoner-rock godfather. Brant Bjork may not have as high or strong a profile as his former Kyuss bandmates Josh Homme and John Garcia, but the drummerturned-multi-instrumentalist has carved out a niche for himself as a kind of stoner-rock swami, seemingly drifting in from the Californian desert whenever the whim takes him, gloriously removed from everything else going on around him. Bjork’s thirteenth album, Jacoozi dates back to a shelved 2010 recording session. As the “Wow, maaaan!” title suggets, drugs may have been involved in its creation. This is a series of free-form instrumental jams that
amble between the blissful (Can’t Out Run The Sun, Black And White Wonderland) and the stoned-funky (the selfexplanatory Guerrila Funk, the Santana-esque Oui). None of these tracks really go anywhere, but then it seems like going somewhere isn’t the point; it’s more a case of sitting back and enjoying the ride. Whether you find the idea of that mildly diverting or hugely entertaining depends on just how fat the bifter you’ve just rolled is. QQQQQQQQQQ Dave Everley
Rossi/Rickard We Talk Too Much EARMUSIC After Rick, what next for the Quo man? Sentimentality is something Francis Rossi keeps under wraps. Exasperation was his more usual reaction to Rick Parfitt’s rocker mind-set, which electric Quo’s semi-retirement seemed set to make surplus to the band even before his death in 2016. So there’s no obvious mourning in these new songs. Instead, young Aquostic violinist Hannah Rickard co-writes and duets on a collection of generic, mostly country tearjerkers. Outside of Quo, Rickard has rougher rock’n’roll form with her band The Relatives, but her high, dominant voice is strictly C&W
here. It’s a style Rossi loves, and the songwriting is serviceable. But Oughta Know By Now’s relatively rollicking glam and the boogie conclusion of Maybe Tomorrow are the only red meat among very Radio 2-friendly tears in beer. QQQQQQQQQQ Nick Hasted
Ratso Stubborn Heart LUCKY NUMBER Pensioner makes debut album. Larry ‘Ratso’ Sloman is best-known for ghosting books by Anthony Keidis, David Blaine, Mike Tyson and Howard Stern, songwriting with John Cale and his tales of Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder. The only surprise with this, his first album, is that it’s taken him so long to get around to making it. It’s a curious affair. The 70-year-old is no great shakes as a singer (think a karaoke Leonard Cohen), especially when he’s battling with Nick Cave at his most imperious on Our Lady Of Light or Cohen’s foremost accomplice Sharon Robinson. Yet for all that, like a risqué, impish granddad the self-styled “Jewish Susan Boyle” has a certain cheeky folksy presence. Admirably, he brings new nuance to Dylan’s Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands (even longer than the original), and
Wraith ROCKET RECORDINGS Londoners Teeth Of The Sea have come a heck of a way since they started out as a Roxy Music tribute band called Proxy Music. Now down to a threepiece and dialling down the psychedelic guitar theatrics from earlier records to
make a more avant approach to prog, Wraith wrestles drums, bass, guitars and trumpet into sinister electronic shapes informed by towering noise makers such as Terminal Cheesecake and textural experimentalist James Holden. There’s also a measure of Nine Inch Nails/Atticus Ross in the shuddering build of Burn Of The Sheiling, and The Wicker Man’s folk creepiness in Fortean Steed.
Reese Wynans And Friends Sweet Release PROVOGUE/MASCOT
Blues veteran digs deep. Taking a cue from the Blues Brothers, former Stevie Ray Vaughan band Double Trouble’s keyboard player Reese Wynans has got the band back together (with bassist Chris Layton and drummer Tommy Shannon) and brought in A-list guests to revisit vintage gems, including three by their late leader. Joe Bonamassa, who Wynans has recently played with, lends his vocal, guitar and production skills to a record offering a satisfying variety of blues hues. Wynan’s southern-rock roots show through as Govt Mule’s Warren Haynes adds low-slung slide guitar to Take The Time’s swamp-mud groove, and the old magic reignites as Double Trouble reprise Crossfire with Sam ‘Soul Man’ Moore, and Say What! with a fret-scorching solo from Kenny Wayne Shepherd. QQQQQQQQQQ Rich Davenport
By Jo Kendall
Teeth Of The Sea: wrestling drums, bass, guitars and trumpet into sinister electronic shapes.
Teeth Of The Sea
when he revisits his best Cale collaborations Dying On The Vine and the ever-daft Caribbean Sunset he makes all sorts of mischief. QQQQQQQQQQ John Aizlewood
By Visitor we’ve gone Tangerine Dream by way of Fuck Buttons, waiting for more demons to arrive in the cinematic second half of the record (well, they are named after the French translation of Jaws). Here we find Blade Runner dystopia mixed with dirty synth-wave, almost as if Roxy’s Eno and Phil Manzanera had grown up in an 80s squat. QQQQQQQQQQ
Alter Ego BAD ELEPHANT It all begins begins a bit Lionel Bart Oliver! with the plaintive Lucid, but that’s soon seen to be just a ruse, when soon we’re in colourful AOR/neo-prog territory with the bubbling Angel. Featuring guests including Ben Craven and Arjen Lucassen, the album is a highgloss, poptastic prog affair with big guitars, big choruses and stadiumsized notions. QQQQQQQQQQ
Feed Me To The Stars SELF Fronted by the characterful Karla Lesley Jaeger, new Norse sixpiece Skaar recall Mogwai, Cardigans and Muse on this gutsy but somehow ethereal debut. With the shard-sharp touch of production ace Tony Doogan, MIO hits the cyclical Anathema-esque nu-prog target, before Radioheading out on the excellent, frantic 3/4-time propulsions of Grainne and Evila. QQQQQQQQQQ
The Brainiac 5
Illegal Moves TROUBLE IN MIND Bringing some social comment, free jazz and dirty wah-wah psych, NYC agitators Sunwatchers third album takes no prisoners with squealing opener New Dad Blues, with some Terry Riley-like synthing twinkling beneath the squall. There’s also saxed-up motorik, intense space-squall, and Alice Coltrane’s Ptah, The El Daoud reworked as a ragaswaggering call to civil action. QQQQQQQQQQ
Back To Shore RECKLESS Strap yerselves in for a cosmic dinghy ride with veteran psychedelic proggers the Brainiac 5, 41 years on from their formation in Cornwall. In this album’s woozy mix are jazz, punk, reggae, and even a trippy folk groove on the title track featuring Chrissy Quayle (aka The Mermaid Of Zennor) that soon gives way to one heck of a wonderful Gong/ Hawkwind freak-out. QQQQQQQQQQ CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 87
Gang Of Four
Don Felder American Rock’N’Roll BMG Patriotic Eagles alumnus gets hot and heavy, assisted by some A-list guest appearances.
t’s a great moment in history to be proud of all things American, right? Former Eagle Don Felder seems to think so, seeing as he opens his third solo album with a no-nonsense, guitar-heavy homage to ‘good ol’ American rock’n’roll’. He sings the praises of everyone from Hendrix, Janis and the Grateful Dead to The Allmans, Bob Seger and ‘the grunge guys’. It’s Seger whose name resonates most as 71-year-old Felder bashes out a run of Route One rockers that’s like Stranger In Town with the amps turned up to 11. He’s blissfully unconcerned about what The Guardian might think, too, singing in well-preserved, weathered tones on Hearts On Fire of ‘a dirty girl… who just can’t get enough of me’ and whose ‘pouty lips make me go blind’. On Rock You he seems close to enquiring if a rock’s out of the question; he has no desire to be Belle & Sebastian. Felder’s unapologetic redneck riffing might mildly surprise those who found his last album, 2012’s Road To Forever, reflective and heartfelt, or who recall his more sensitive moments with the Eagles. Balance that against the raunchy core of Victim Of Love and others, though, and it’s clear he was key to ratcheting up the rock in their country rock, before their spectacular fall-out.
He’s pulled in a host of star guests to appear on this album, including Slash, Mick Fleetwood and Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith on that thumping title track. Elsewhere, the names are queuing up: Richie Sambora, Peter Frampton, Joe Satriani and Alex Lifeson join the late-life crisis party. And there’s no denying the energy and exuberance levels are hedonistically high. Limelight takes care of business like BachmanTurner Overdrive. The playing, obviously, is great. Felder always has a way of sliding some funk into the envelope even if he’s not pushing it, and the harmonies are so lush it’s like he’s reminding us of his hall-of-fame track record. There’s a hint of Morriconemariachi on Little Latin Lover, where with stunning originality ‘she’s a devil in an angel’s disguise’, and towards the end he calms down for the lilting CSNYflavoured ballad Sun and the swelling The Way Things Have To Be, which echoes Wasted Time. The sugary You’re My World checks we’re aware he’s played for Barbra Streisand and Diana Ross. The overall pace and punch of this though is hellbent on making guitars loud again, dancing to remember in a sweet summer sweat. QQQQQQQQQQ Chris Roberts
Happy Now GILLMUSIC Veteran agit-post-punkers maintain that essence rare. Forty years on from their classic neoMarxistSituationist punk-funk debut Entertainment!, Gang Of Four are firing out fizzy, divaricate songs alluding to contemporary polarisation. So influential that no reviewer feels he can use the word ‘angular’ any more, the Leeds-launched provocateurs still sound sharp and lean. Yet they’ve updated just enough to keep you guessing: Paper Thin has an aura of anthemic electronica, while White Lies is like Laurie Anderson producing The Cars. The main mass, though, is thwacking great swathes of white-boy groove, urgent and knowingly Dionysian. Guitarist Andy Gill, now the sole founder member involved, directs the newer gang members – John ‘Gaoler’ Sterry sings with controlled passion – with a heart and heat which keep the unit vital to this day. In an unhappy world they catch the febrile twitching of the deviant now. QQQQQQQQQQ Chris Roberts
Strand Of Oaks Eraserland DEAD OCEANS Sixth album of introspective Americana from Philadelphiabased songsmith. Mooching around at home in an existential funk, Tim Showalter had no inclination to start on a follow-up to his previous album, 2017’s Hard Love. That is until My Morning Jacket guitarist Carl Broemel rang him up and cajoled him into action with the promise of fellow MMJ members Patrick Hallahan (drums), Bo Koster (keys), and Tom Blankenship (bass) mucking in as willing helpers. Out tumbled the songs that make up Eraserland. ‘I’ve got to get my shit together before I’m forty,’ Showalter sighs in Keys, while Visons finds him lamenting how ‘2017 tried its best to take the magic from me’. The sense of Showalter being shaken from his torpor is most evident on joyous Rock The Casbah-style strut Moon Landing, while nine-minute finale Forever Chords might just be his best song yet.
An album balanced precariously at the tipping point between disillusion and creative rebirth, and all the better for it. QQQQQQQQQQ Paul Moody
Eric Gales The Bookends MASCOT/PROVOGUE Blues renegade makes up for lost time. We’ve spent so long casting Eric Gales as the archetypal shoulda-donebetter bluesman that it’s still a revelation to hear his lateperiod bloom. Gales hooking up with Maroon 5 producer Matt Wallace for The Bookends should hint that the album isn’t shy of commerciality – see the breezy folk-blues of Something’s Gotta Give, which practically humps the leg of radio playlist compilers. But while Gales lays on the hooks, he can’t help but write interesting, off-kilter material. Whatcha Gon’ Do has an angry little riff, a funk bounce and a brilliantly flowing solo. It Just Beez That Way opens with Gales beat-boxing and stops off for a life-coaching rap section. Pedal To The Metal lifts the glassy chords from The Police’s Roxanne, while you can imagine Eddie Vedder straining over the stormy How Do I Get You and Reaching For A Change. These songs could be crossover hits – and in Gales’s madcap career, stranger things have happened. QQQQQQQQQQ Henry Yates
The End Machine The End Machine FRONTIERS MUSIC
Old dogs’ new old trick. Comprising former Dokken men George Lynch (guitar), Jeff Pilson (bass) and Mick Brown (drums) plus Warrant vocalist Robert Brown, The End Machine is a new project by some old dogs. It doesn’t exactly till new ground, however, instead observing the protocols of hard rock rather scrupulously, right down to the acoustic guitar-led number midway through the album. Leap Of Faith is a good way to get things cranked up, chugging along on a slaloming, heavy-duty riff, seasoned and competent, while Life Is Love Is Music is a strong finale, with a bass line stitched expertly by Pilson. In between it’s pretty standard issue, with Mason’s lyrics
a weather-beaten holler. ‘Free and easy never came easy to me,’ he croaks on Hard Road. In the hands of The End Machine, rock hasn’t evolved so much as developed a leathery, crinkled skin, every song on this album a song of experience. QQQQQQQQQQ David Stubbs
Little Villains Philthy Lies HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS Animal crackers. Everyone knows Philthy ‘Animal’ Taylor as the drummer who revolutionised hard-rock demolition with Motörhead’s classic line-up, but after the volatile pocket powerhouse left the band for the second time, in 1992, he sadly never found his feet again, only dabbling with various bands before he passed away in 2015. Little Villains was one such outfit, which also included bassist Owen Street and singerguitarist James A Childs. The latter has remastered an album’s-worth of tracks the trio recorded at a California studio in 2007, which now make up Philthy Lies. Best are those driven by Taylor’s twin kick-drum avalanche at full pelt, including Traitor and the piledriving I Am Dying unleashing a pummelling bass clank that Lemmy would’ve loved. Childs is a reasonable psych-squawling guitarist, but tracks here lose impact through his wonky vocals striving to soar where Lemmy would’ve growled, including ill-advised balladry. That said, it’s worth the price of admission just to hear Philthy’s Yorkshire tones enquire cheerfully: “Are we ready?” before many of the tracks. QQQQQQQQQQ Kris Needs
Steve Earle And The Dukes Guy NEW WEST Classy Americana collection. This is the second time Steve Earle has recorded an album of songs by a fallen friend. A decade ago he made Townes, a tribute to the late, great Townes Van Zandt. This time it’s Guy, a eulogy in song for Guy Clarke, another Texan songwriter, and who Earle played bass for back in 1974. With Earle backed by the latest incarnation of The Dukes, it’s an unsurprisingly reflective collection, with Earle’s
increasingly fractured voice providing suitable gravitas for some of Americana’s most poignant songs. Best are a dignified take on Desperados Waiting On A Train, and an unadorned, lovely version of The Last Gunfighter Ballad which showcases Clarke’s gift for melody and his deft wordplay. “When I get to the other side,” says Earle, “I didn’t want to run into Guy having made the Townes record and not one about him.” He’s done his old boss proud. QQQQQQQQQQ Fraser Lewry
The Mute Gods Atheists And Believers INSIDEOUT
Multi-layered prog from a supergroup of the genre. Former pop starturned-progger Nick Beggs began his bassplaying career in 80s pop fodder Kajagoogoo, and is now part of Steven Wilson’s band. But since 2016 he’s been focusing his energy – and boy does he have a lot – on fronting prog supergroup The Mute Gods with Marco Minnemann and Roger King. They’ve released three albums in as many years, and Atheists And Believers might be their final one, as Beggs set out to release a trilogy. The solid concept is one of a frustrated world-view: from climate change to alien cover-ups, Beggs has plenty to say, and lines such as ‘When I look at this planet I envy the dead’ are at odds with the warm progressive pop that permeates throughout this stunning album. There are also heavier passages and oodles of multi-layered prog, wrapped up in an accessible package that’s notably stronger and sharper than the band’s first two albums. If this is the end for The Mute Gods, it’s a hell of a high note to end on. QQQQQQQQQQ Hannah May Kilroy
The Beta Machine Intruder T-BOY/UME Side-project collective’s debut delivers summery good vibes. Led by the rhythm section of A Perfect Circle, bassist, vocalist and keyboard player Matt McJunkins and drummer Jeff Friedl, The Beta Machine were initially formed for the pair (who’re also
members of Puscifer) to utilise material they had written that was deemed unsuitable for their other projects. Kicking off with the jaunty, summery sway of pop-rock anthem Embers, this debut album is of a notably sunnier disposition than their other musical output. Buoyant and bouncy in vibes, musically it’s gorgeously multi-layered. With echoes of goth and new-wave added to their alt.rock mix, it’s all tied up with futuristic flourishes – like the synth swathes on Your Enemy and the dance-worthy grooves of the title track – and the stunning delicate vocal harmonies of Claire Acey (who was in indie rock band Nightmare And The Cat) and McJunkins throughout, particularly on the glorious spacey rush of Bones. QQQQQQQQQQ Hannah May Kilroy
Band Of Skulls Love Is All You Love
BEST OF THE REST Other new releases out this month. Tronos Celestial Mechanics CENTURY MEDIA Three underground metal stalwarts, led by Napalm Death singer/ guitarist Shane Embury, unite for this swarthy smorgasbord of subterranean beef. A strangely beguiling hybrid of sludge, extreme metal and avant-garde eccentricity. 7/10
Burning Rain Face The Music FRONTIERS Whitesnake-turned-Dead Daisies guitarist Doug Aldrich returns to his first ‘other band’. Expect satisfying AOR-meets-hard rock riffage, but mostly forgettable tunes and a conveyor belt of cliches about wimmin, midnight trains and the like. 5/10
Luna Kiss Following Shadows SELF-RELEASE Angular but melodious, impassioned affair from Coventry rockers. Broodingly gnarly alt.rock comfort for anyone missing Oceansize (who’s also partial to Muse and Katatonia), slightly hard work for everyone else. 6/10
Feels Post Earth WICHITA RECORDINGS A stylishly lo-fi gumbo of grunge, punk and indie comprises this LA foursome’s second LP. Kinda like The Strokes in a blender with Sleater-Kinney, and prone to psychedelic tangents. 7/10
The Fallen State
British blues rockers’ fifth is prowling pop perfection. Few blues-rock behemoths see losing their drummer as an opportunity to go a bit more ABBA, but few blues-rock behemoths have the glistening pop spark of Southampton’s Band Of Skulls. Replacing absconded drummer Matt Hayward with a drum machine, the electronic programming of MIA, Pet Shop Boys and Goldfrapp producer Richard X and the odd bit of Julian Dorio from Eagles Of Death Metal has exposed the titanium pop underbelly BOS previously hid beneath a dense pelt of filth-matted rhythms. Some of it is characteristically barbed – Carnivorous finds them going full NIN, Not The Kind Of Nothing is volcanic swamp rock with more than a touch of The B-52’s about it. But a surprising amount is refreshingly saccharine: the armour-plated disco of We’re Alive, Sound Of You’s nocturnal desert ambience, and the way the brace of uplifting space pop tracks – Thanks A Lot and Speed Of Light – whoosh by on bright cosmic winds. Cool Your Battles even gives The Winner Takes It All a crunchy rock rewrite, capping the most harmonious clash of muck and melody in recent memory. QQQQQQQQQQ Mark Beaumont
A Deadset Endeavour LAST MAN MUSIC Presenting the new wave of moody, arena-friendly ‘American’ hard rock… from the UK. The unwavering earnestness gets a little draining, but there’s potential in those metallic chops and the band’s XXL ambitions. 6/10
Kevin Armstrong Run WISHING TREE Did any other deceased musician leave quite so many Ernie Wises? Bowie alumnus guitarist Kevin Armstrong (Absolute Beginners/ Outside) demonstrates admirable cross-generic supporting-cast prowess, if limited leading-man potential. 6/10
Toyah In The Court Of The Crimson Queen EDSEL Former Marmalade Atkins-alike punk-popstress re-records and expands provocatively-titled 2008 album with long-time collaborator Simon Darlow. An accomplished 80s template polished to a dazzling sheen, but does anyone still care? 6/10
Half Japanese Invincible FIRE Enduringly authentic, disarmingly honest, naively playful and wholeheartedly poptastic, oblivious pioneer Jad Fair (basically, Jonathan Richman dragged arse-backwards through a Sonic Youth filter) casually, and invisibly, triumphs. Again. 8/10
Almost Honest Seiches And Sirens ELECTRIC TALON Pennsylvania Viking trio perk up the doom with visceral, superheavyweight grooves more readily associated with Clutch or, when cranked to their most testicular, Pantera. Deftly hefty, dark but bright. 7/10
Chocolate Watchband This Is My Voice DIRTY WATER Startling out-of-left-field return to form from 60s Frisco psych-punk legends, blending first-generation psychedelic authenticity (sitarshimmered lysergic sonics) with a biting, Sunset Strip-reigniting social conscience. 8/10
Beth Blade & The Beautiful Disasters Show Me Your Teeth Boasting a similar heft and bounce to the Amorettes, Cardiff’s Beth Blade allies effortless Halestorming vocals with her Beautiful Disasters’ slick by-numbers take on vanilla classic rock. 6/10
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S E U S S I RE
Mötley Crüe The Dirt Soundtrack ELEVEN SEVEN
Keith Richards Talk Is Cheap: 30th Anniversary BMG Stone’s 1988 solo debut gets major expansion job – in real Fender wood!
I Wish, the Jagger-directed You Don’t Move Me) and gorgeous ballads (Make No Mistake, Locked Away burnished in authentic Memphis soul), it sold a million and ignited Keith’s solo career, while precipitating the Stones’ return. The reissue gets the works. Seven hundred bucks snarfs the signed incarnation in a box crafted by Fender from the same wood as Keith’s trusty Telecaster (unsigned is less). The deluxe presents the album on vinyl and CD, same formats as previously unreleased extras, two 45s, 80-page hardback book, posters, laminate, lyric sheets and guitar pick. The bonus tracks make a worthy addendum to a scorching set: sprightly covers of Jimmy Reed’s My Babe and Eddie Taylor’s Big Town Playboy, a skeletal demo of Mark On Me and three instrumentals; Brute Force’s pressure-cooker hoodoo is joined by two scintillating blues jams with the late Johnnie Johnston, Chuck Berry’s pianist and previously uncredited collaborator who became Keith’s late-life rediscovery mission. Like the best Stones songs, there’s never any dating Keith’s immortal spirit, and Talk Is Cheap holds its head high as it relentlessly reaffirms that that was indeed some knife. QQQQQQQQQQ Kris Needs
Renaissance A Song For All Seasons CHERRY RED/ESOTERIC
The one that features Northern Lights. Squeezed by punk and metal, by 1978 British prog-folk seemed to be as dead as skiffle. Then up popped Renaissance. A cult in the UK and US, they’d been toiling away since the turn of the decade, but Northern Lights (written by non-playing lyricist Betty Thatcher, and about singer and Roy Wood’s girlfriend Annie Haslam’s home town Bolton rather than the Aurora Borealis) was a massive hit single, where Haslam’s pronunciation of ‘pass’was the UK Top 10’s poshest ever moment.
Megadeth Warheads On Foreheads UME
Three-disc celebration of Dave Mustaine’s mercurial career. When Dave Mustaine launched Megadeth back in 1984, no one expected him to end up as one of modern metal’s great elder statesmen. But Warheads On Foreheads is proof that miracles do happen. This career-spanning 35-track compilation charts a journey that’s been as wayward as it has era-defining. Megadeth’s classic early albums – from 1985’s Killing Is My Business to 1992’s Countdown To Extinction – are rightly most heavily represented, their apocalyptic world view giving an early glimpse of future Trumpsupporting libertarian Mustaine’s anti-establishment standpoint. There‘s less consistency from the mid-90s onwards. The quality ebbed and flowed as lineups shifted, although Mustaine and whoever else was in the band that week could still hit the bullseye – the stellar Trust (from 1997’s unfairly dismissed Cryptic Writings) and the title track of the last studio album, Dystopia, prove that Megadeth’s place in thrash metal’s Big Four was never under threat. While most of the obvious bases are covered here, there are some notable omissions – and, in the case of 1986’s gloriously
ALISTA T IR THAIN/PRESS
ike Paul Hogan goading wannabe muggers in Crocodile Dundee as he unsheathed a whopping blade (“That’s a knife? This is a knife”), there were no half-measures when Keith Richards retaliated to Jagger derailing the Stones in favour of his ill-advised solo career 30 years ago. Reluctantly at first, Richards formed a band that rocked and made what was hailed as the best Stones album in years. The civil war between the two Stones flared in 1983 after Jagger sneaked solo opportunities into the band’s new CBS Records mega-deal and released MTVgeared She’s The Boss, which soured the recording of the Stones’ Dirty Work; Richards touring behind his album with another band (and playing Stones classics) ignited his own offensive. He had always resisted solo albums, but, not for the first time, Chuck Berry (unwittingly) came to the rescue when Richards was commissioned to form a band for the film Hail! Hail! Rock And Roll. Confidence boosted, he got a deal with Virgin, called top session drummer comrade Steve Jordan and formed the Xpensive Winos. Like a polar opposite to Jagger’s synthesised clatter, Talk Is Cheap brimmed with humble soul and rolled like a train, with Keith in fine voice. Studded with loose, joyous rockers (Take It So Hard, How
The album of the movie of the book of the band… In 2015, during Mötley Crüe’s contractually binding Final Tour, the band also delivered a single with a similarly definite title: All Bad Things Must End. But they gave themselves some wiggle room. “We haven’t ruled out the idea of a new album,” bassist Nikki Sixx said. Now, four years on, business is booming again, with the release of long-awaited biopic The Dirt and this soundtrack album featuring their biggest hits from the 80s plus four new tracks. Among the former are the swinging-dick glam-metal anthems Looks That Kill, Girls, Girls, Girls, and, atypically romantic for these dudes, the ballad Home Sweet Home. The surprise, from a band supposedly in the process of winding up, is the strength of the new material. A hard-sell title track, The Dirt (Est. 1981) has the stomp and strut of classic Crüe, but also a modern sound, with rude rapping from Machine Gun Kelly, who plays Tommy Lee in the film. Ride With The Devil and Crash And Burn are similar in tone, heavy and hooky. The smartest trick is a version of Madonna’s Like A Virgin, cleverly rearranged, with Vince Neil pouting for all he’s worth. Even as they revel in their horrible history, it appears that the Crüe ain’t done yet. QQQQQQQQQQ Paul Elliott
Parent album A Song For All Seasons was a splendid mix of lavishly produced, out-there prog-folk; the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; Haslam’s vocal pyrotechnics; the theme from The Paper Lads television series Back Home Once Again, and the title track, a gloriously bonkers 11-minute rock symphony. The band never did push on, and were dropped after their next album, victims of the times rather than their gifts. This lovingly compiled threedisc reissue adds a treasure trove of live tracks powered by John Tout’s keyboards (which showed that mustard could still be cut without studio trickery), a super-tight BBC session, and Malcolm Dome’s sleeve notes which reveal that Haslam has neither forgotten nor forgiven the facts that she didn’t sing She Is Love and that the not-whollydissimilar-looking woman on the sleeve isn’t actually her. QQQQQQQQQQ John Aizlewood
deathless Peace Sells, a downright perverse one. Nor is there anything your average Megadeth fan won’t have heard before. But that’s not really the point of Warheads On Foreheads, this is about enshrining the legacy Mustaine has built. And on that front it’s bang on target. QQQQQQQQQQ Dave Everley
Quartz Reissues DISSONANCE Two unheralded examples of quality NWOBHM. Brummies Quartz are often regarded as no more than foot soldiers in the NWOBHM era. What these two albums show is that they were officer class. Their self-titled debut from 1977 (7/10) can legitimately be regarded as the first release in the genre. Produced by Tony Iommi, songs like Mainline Riders, Street Fighting Lady and Devil’s Brew have grit, guts and a melodic core, helping them to sound impressive even after more than four decades. Live Quartz (7/10), recorded at Digbeth Civic Hall in December 1979 and released the following year, captures how the band really sounded live at the time, and certainly had no added
studio frills. The stand-out track is Count Dracula, a spectacular epic of thrust and thrills. The band build an eerie, pounding atmosphere around Mick Hopkins’s guitar prowess, and it sucks you in. There are also enthusiastic covers of Mountain’s Nantucket Sleighride and Chuck Berry’s evergreen Roll Over Beethoven. Quartz were definitely a bluecollar British metal outfit, cut from the same cloth as future giants Maiden, Saxon and Leppard. These two albums prove that they deserved a lot more attention than they got as NWOBHM flourished. Malcolm Dome
Iron Maiden Remasters PARLOPHONE Two peaks, a plateau and a dip. Last year’s first batch of Iron Maiden remasters charted the band’s rise and breakthrough over a four-record run invariably regarded by fans as a high-water mark. This second quartet documents the period in which the platinum streak begun by The Number Of The Beast continued, as relentless touring
propelled them into rock’s major league worldwide. Powerslave (9/10) opens with the tooth-loosening combination of Aces High and Two Minutes To Midnight, the former’s twin-guitar harmonies and the latter’s razor-edged riff both undergirded with synchronised rhythm fills from Steve Harris and Nicko McBrain, and overlaid with Bruce Dickinson’s vicious vocal attack. Twin swashbucklers Flash Of The Blade and The Duellists showcase intricate guitar harmonies from Smith and Murray, and long-form epic Rime Of The Ancient Mariner brings down the curtain with a showstopping flourish. Somewhere In Time (7/10) cemented Maiden’s popularity, hitting the bullseye dead-on with the title track’s frantic gallop and Wasted Years’ huge chorus, but floundered somewhat with Alexander The Great, a formulaic revisit to Ancient Mariner territory. The conceptual Seventh Son Of A Seven Son (8/10) distils Maiden’s key strengths into topflight songs, by turns aggressive (Moonchild), progressive (Infinite Dreams) and infectious (Can I Play With Madness).
Runt of this litter No Prayer For The Dying (6/10) is marred by lacklustre material (for example Tailgunner’s rehashing of Aces High), but redeemed by deep cuts Public Enema Number One and Fates Warning, and shoutalong chart-topper Bring Your Daughter…To The Slaughter. Rich Davenport
Various Strangers In The Room GRAPEFRUIT
Who knows where the folkrock goes? This idiosyncratic three-CD romp through the British folk-rock scene between 1967 and 1973 confirms that behind the rightfully lauded gems from this extraordinary creative period there was an even larger raft of material that never got the same kind of exposure. There are many reasons for this, and the stylish 40-page booklet accompanying the discs details several of them. The title comes from a song on singer-songwriter Michael Chapman’s album Fully Qualified Survivor and opens the collection, with his Hull
compatriot Mick Ronson adding the kind of guitar licks that had already attracted David Bowie. This broad definition of folk rock sets the tone, eschewing the traditional finger-in-the-ear stuff in favour of the folk-rocking innovators – although Steeleye Span probably required a few stuffed digits for their pristine harmonies on The Blacksmith. The prime movers are all here – Pentangle, Ralph McTell, Horslips, Strawbs, Shirley Collins (Donovan is a surprising omission) are cleverly scattered across the set to provide regular familiar reference points in between unearthed artifacts from the likes of Spirogyra, Trees, the Woods Band, Steve Tilston, Al Jones, Harvey Andrews, Bill Fay and a host of groups with pure-voiced female singers. Many of these tracks never got released at the time, and there’s a couple of rare Sandy Denny items – an out-take from Fairport Convention’s Liege And Lief and an early version of Who Knows Where The Time Goes? – and a previously unreleased track from Gerry Rafferty in addition to his band the Humblebums’ Shoeshine Boy. QQQQQQQQQQ Hugh Fielder
Humble Pie Joint Effort CLEOPATRA Lost band lose direction on lost album.
y the time the Pie came to record the material that was to become Street Rats they were pretty much pot-less. By ’75 they’d toured themselves ragged, yet maintained a hand-to-mouth existence, living on riders and generally falling short of The Faces at every turn. Most recently, disillusioned firecracker wunderkind Steve Marriott’s last-ditch escape route to the stars had come to nothing. Upon auditioning for the Stones, at Keith’s behest, he’d all but handed in his notice. He didn’t exactly tell the remaining Pies they could ‘stick their job up their arse’ while slamming the door behind him, but an unspoken intimation to do so was certainly there. Ultimately, he’d missed out (to Ron Wood, of all people; Jagger didn’t want to share a stage with Steve’s pipes, thanks very much), so back he came, tail between his legs, to Humble Pie’s bleak Essex farmstead. Consequently, morale wasn’t what you’d call high when A&M Records demanded another album to promote on the Pie’s imminent twenty-second tour. Work on Street Rats was laboured, and the album was eventually cobbled
together from working versions of solo material and songs Marriott had been working on with bassist Greg Ridley for a collaborative project which were ‘confiscated’ from the band’s studio and given to ex-Stones manager/producer Andrew Loog Oldham to fashion into a Pie record which, unsurprisingly, wasn’t great. What we have here are ‘lost’ recordings, taken exclusively from the Marriott/Ridley album sessions, presented as a Humble Pie album, which while interesting are not exactly pretty. Rather than the hard rock more readily associated with Pie, Joint Effort finds Marriott and Ridley exploring gutsy R&B with a side order of funk. There are covers of James Brown’s Think, Betty Wright’s Let Me Be Your Lovemaker and a lumpen, ill-advised assault on The Beatles’ Rain, and, as is so often the case with albums of this nature from this era, it’s hard to hear anything other than a blizzard of cocaine. Original songs are sketchy, inferior
punts at Every Little Bit Hurts. Both Marriott and Ridley aim to take you to church, but only ever take you over the top, as agonising vocal crescendoes are hit barely (Marriott) and rarely (Shirley). Not so much a Pie, then, as an overspiced hash. QQQQQQQQQQ Ian Fortnam
Simple Minds Rejuvenation 2001-2014 DEMON
David Bowie Spying Through A Keyhole PARLOPHONE Pre-fame Bowie’s acoustic works-in-progress, boxed for the legacy vinyl market.
hear it you’d better dust off – or actually buy – a turntable). And so to the meat of the matter: seven selections that reveal an artist who’s yet to find an identity. Bowie’s still a work in progress: post-Newley, but not entirely himself. Mother Grey (Spying’s most complete song, with multi-tracked vocals, guitar and harmonica) is clearly haunted by the ghost of The Kinks. Elsewhere – with distorted acoustic guitar accompaniment ahoy – there are flashes of CSN, Michael Chapman, typical ’68 post-Pepper whimsy (Goodbye Threepenny Joe, Love All Around, two versions of Angel, Angel Grubby Face which, while charming, will no more ignite the world now than they did then). There are a couple of attempts at songs already familiar to Bowie completists (London Bye, Ta-Ta, In The Heat Of The Morning), but the real gold is the brace of embryonic Space Odditys. boasting different lyrics; the second features John ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson on finger-picked guitar and co-vocals, singing the part of ‘Ground Control’, and demonstrating how Bowie’s solo breakthrough was originally conceived to be a duet. Historically priceless, but intrinsically one for the fans. Who will love it. QQQQQQQQQQ Ian Fortnam
John Lennon And Yoko Ono Unfinished Music Vol 3: The Wedding Album CHIMERA/SECRETLY CANADIAN
It’s not Revolver. In recent years, while the work of Yoko Ono has rightly been praised for its experimental brilliance and artistic invention, the records she made just after meeting John Lennon have not been as well received. The Wedding Album, the third of John and Yoko’s avant-garde recordings, was released, as the title gently hints, to celebrate the pair’s wedding in Gibraltar, and came in a box of almost progrock lavishness, with cardboard inserts and replica wedding cake. Any resemblance to a conventional rock album
The Zombies In The Beginning DEMON All the Zombies you’ll ever need, on five boxed vinyls. On returning to the recorded legacy of 60s greats, it never ceases to amaze just how poorly served many of them were by their industry handlers when it came to releasing albums. And few got it quite as bad as The Zombies. Obviously, these were days when the seven-inch single was king, but prior to 1968’s Odessey And Oracle (an Anglo-psych pastoral pop classic overlooked at the time of its original postsplit release but latterly fated for gushing rediscovery) they released only one LP. 1965’s Begin Here has its moments, but is essentially the same debut every single one of their contemporaries made. So while it has band-defining classic She’s Not There on it, it opens (as everything did back then) with Road Runner and closes with a seemingly compulsory romp through I Got My Mojo Working. Nice enough but, quite frankly, whose mojo wasn’t? In order to pass this off as a coherent collection of five olden-days albums (on heavyweight coloured vinyl, slipcased… How our demographic like our products presented, basically) there’s been a certain amount of canny cobbling, so the two actual albums bookend two collections of single As and Bs (Early Days, Continue Here) and a faithfully reproduced facsimile of RIP, a posthumous out-takes collection that never made it off the grid. A bit of a convenient after-the-
owie fans labouring under any misapprehension that their wallets are in imminent danger of finding rest can take heart that Dave’s well is still a significant distance from running dry. Bowie was not only an assiduous collector of his own recordings but also – as his mortality became ever more apparent – kept a keen eye on how his legacy ought be maintained after his death, via a gradual distribution of his vast catalogue of unreleased gems. Luckily, Bowie’s ‘people’ remain devoted to creating quality product. And while shrewd enough to maintain a tight rein on eking out their finite cash cow’s remaining choice cuts, they’re also fans who won’t sell the work in their care short. So why stretch nine raw, homerecorded demos of seven songs across four vinyl seven-inchers rather than bunging them out on a standalone CD or as time-marking digital downloads? The story goes that, as these songs are from the 60s (specifically ’67-’68), the 45 rpm single is the format for which they were written. Fair enough, but it’s also true that today’s deep-pocketed Bowie constituency love a boxed artefact, and that online thievery is impractical if the product in question isn’t available digitally (and this one won’t be any time this year, apparently. So if you want to
How they stayed alive and kicking in the 21st century. It took Simple Minds many years and much boot leather to haul themselves back from bloated stadiumpompers to a band correctly respected for the high spots in their strangely yo-yoing career. This box set may have chosen a spin-heavy title which writes a cheque its music can’t always pay, but their post-Virgin Records era of back-to-basics rebooting ultimately comes good. Of the six albums here, two are covers sets; there’s a fascination to seeing if their takes on, for example, The Needle And The Damage Done, Homosapien and Sloop John B will be crackers or car crashes (like the group’s entire history, they oscillate wildly). Otherwise we stop-start through the struggling-to-launch Cry and Black And White 050505, before 2009’s Graffiti Soul (a Top 10 return) gathers momentum and 2014’s Big Music becomes the one critics hail, generously, as their best since New Gold Dream. There are 25 bonus tracks, including a WTF duet with The Stranglers on Grip, videos and a booklet written by frontman Jim Kerr. Rejuvenation can lapse into washes of too-clean sheen, but zoom in on specific tracks or phases and the strong pulse and desire to fly which have always rescued and resuscitated them are there, thrilling sporadically. QQQQQQQQQQ Chris Roberts
ended there, however, as it was the duo’s most relentlessly conceptual record. Side one, John And Yoko, consists of John and Yoko saying each other’s names in different ways over the sound of their heartbeats, while side two, Amsterdam, is a collection of verite songs, interviews and soundbites from their residence at the Amsterdam Hilton. Each side has its moments of humour and musical interest, but The Wedding Album most resembles a postcard, and Beatles fans might well think that its contents, politics and emotions were better served up by the much shorter Ballad Of John And Yoko. QQQQQQQQQQ David Quantick
fact reshuffle, but an excellent and comprehensive package. QQQQQQQQQQ Ian Fortnam
Taj Mahal Taj’s Blues FLOATING WORLD Time to dust that broom. A straight reissue of Columbia Records’ 12-track primer, this is a lovely thing guaranteed to send Taj fans racing back to the original albums. It opens with his solo debut tracks Leaving Trunk and Statesboro Blues (the very song that inspired Duane Allman to take up bottleneck guitar). Despite being recorded postRising Sons, in 1967, these have aged so well. The former slides in like fat dripping off a skillet, lurching on a Ry Cooder rhythm that inspired both Steve Marriott and the Stones. Taj is known for his musicologist credentials and immaculate taste in hats, and his bag is sharp-dressed and cool as a mint julep. Band players include the Pointer Sisters, Jesse Ed Davis, New Orleans’ finest drummer Earl Palmer and Al Kooper, so you’re in safe 1970s
hands basking in a range of music that incorporates West Indian island grooves, deep country blues and a dash of ragtime. Sheer bliss. QQQQQQQQQQ Max Bell
Davy Graham Reissues BREAD & WINE Folk mentor extraordinaire. One of the biggest influences on the emerging British folk scene of the 60s, Davy Graham was never going to emulate his disciples, as 1966’s Midnight Man (7/10) and ’69’s Hat (7/10) demonstrate clearly. While other folkies such as Bert Jansch, Roy Harper, John Martyn et al understood the importance of creating an identity on their records, Graham flits listlessly across folk, blues, jazz and any other style that his nomadic spirit alights upon, and immediately sets about rearranging the song to his own ends. It’s not like he’s being snobbish about it, either. Each album has a Beatles cover, although you might not recognise them at first. Hat also features two Paul Simon songs that are similarly camouflaged, as well as Bob Dylan’s Down Along The Cove. Also, his acoustic blues covers
are swimming against the tide of raucous electrified versions from aspiring Fleetwood Mac/ Chicken Shack wannabes. But beyond the volume, Graham’s innovative use of tunings and rhythms is a rare delight, and as vivid now as it was then. Not to mention his guitar playing; just take a listen to The Fakir on Midnight Man or Stan’s Guitar on Hat. Hugh Fielder
David Bromberg The Player: A Retrospective FLOATING WORLD
Well-connected journeyman’s 70s cream. David Bromberg had a spell as Bob Dylan’s lead guitarist on Self Portrait and New Morning at the start of 70s, when Dylan was back in Greenwich Village and casting around for new people to work with. Bromberg was a young veteran of the Village’s folk scene, personally schooled in blues finger-picking by Rev. Gary Davis. His amenable talent also attracted George Harrison, who adds slide guitar and lyrics to The Holdup here. Bromberg parlayed these connections into
a 70s solo career in which his plain, cracked, conversational voice and mostly gentle acoustic guitar served distinctive songs. Sammy’s Song is the most startling, as a teenager’s visit to a Mexican whorehouse takes a catastrophically realistic turn. Dylan adds gorgeously sympathetic harmonica while Bromberg honours both the prostitute and the boy. His epic take on Mr. Bojangles says as much about his personality as anything, diving into both its shameless sentimentality and the tangled truth behind it. Comparing his mild version of Delia’s tale of a murdered prostitute to Dylan’s bereft 90s take shows his limits, but also his empathy. A relaxed blues workout with Jerry Garcia is another small highlight of a modestly valuable collection. QQQQQQQQQQ Nick Hasted
Max Webster A Million Vacations ROCK CANDY
Band’s boldest and best-selling album still sparkles. Possibly best-remembered as bridesmaids to Rush’s brides, Canada’s Max Webster shared management and a ’79 European
tour with the Toronto trio. Rush even went so far as to appear on Max Webster’s Battle Scar single, although not even that was enough to save the band’s career. The aptly titled A Million Vacations, MW’s fourth album, was the work of a band at the peak of their powers, living on easy street and composing a soundtrack to match. Some long-standing fans made unhappy noises about the record’s more linear/less experimental approach, but there’s really nothing here to frighten the horses; at times they sound like Frank Zappa if he’d ever jammed with Kansas and The Tubes. The extraneous prog beeps and curve balls are all intact, as are the band’s quirks and melodies. Songs such as the title track, Let Go The Line and A Million Vacations are rich, made-for-radio fodder, while Night Flights and the haunting Sun Voice search for something deeper. It’s unsettling and clever and makes you wonder why, after some remarkably good sales and excellent live notices, the band had only one more album left in them. QQQQQQQQQQ Philip Wilding
Various Losing Touch With My Mind CHERRY RED A very British trip: 3CD exploration of the 80s psychedelic underground
op-topped kids in immaculate hipsters and roll-necks jostled for space on the dancefloor next to shroom-fried crusties, veterans of the free festival veterans and goths in top hats,” scene veteran Hugh Dellar reminisces in this collections’s sleeve notes, recalling the heady ambience at legendary Soho psych hang-out Alice In Wonderland. It’s a fascinating reminder that while the mid80s are now often seen as a cultural wasteland of insipid indie rock and pinging drum machines, there was once a chance that a homegrown equivalent of the American paisley underground might have come to pass. But, as Losing Touch With My Mind, the follow-up to last year’s excellent Another Splash Of Colour compilation demonstrates, things actually panned out very differently. By 1986, with scene leaders Doctor & The Medics lost to pop stardom and the music press dismissive of any band they considered to be too slavishly in thrall to the past, the lysergic hordes had retreated down their respective rabbit holes,
nurturing their passion for The Doors, Love and Deep Purple in tiny micro-scenes based (largely) in pub back rooms and musty cellar clubs around the capital. However, their lack of commercial recognition is no reflection of their musical abilities. Mixing cult classics (The Sea Urchins’ Pristine Christine) deep cuts (The Seers proto-baggy classic Psych Out) and lost nuggets (Paul Roland’s incredible In the Opium Den), this 60-track splurge of bowl cuts and Byrds riffs provides a thrilling journey down Amnesia Avenue for anyone with fond memories of late nights at the Camden Falcon or West Hampstead’s Moonlight Club. It’s difficult to see any shared musical DNA between, say, The Jetset’s baroque gem Happy In My Mind and the Leicester grebo’s Gaye Bykers On Acid’s grease metal anthem TV Cabbage, but then with an archeological (shin)dig like this,
The Stone Roses, whose Don’t Stop is included.
joining the (micro)dots is half the fun. Salvation, for some, of course, would be just around the corner. The inclusion of the Stone Roses’ reverse-groove Don’t Stop (a nice touch) and early offerings from The Charlatans and the Inspiral Carpets show a way out of the indie maze and into the mainstream which most of the bands here could only dream about. Little did they know it, but a new psychedelic dawn was just around the corner, based in a place called Madchester. QQQQQQQQQQ Paul Moody
S ’ R E Y U B GUIDE
The ‘classic’ 80s line-up of Anthrax: (l-r) Frank Bello, Scott Ian, Joey Belladonna, Charlie Benante, Dan Spitz.
The New Yorkers are known as part of the Big Four of thrash, but a ‘degree of levity’ has set them apart from their peers.
from their peers. They wore board shorts instead of the regulation thrash attire of jeans and leather jackets, and spoofed hiphop in the 1987 song I’m The Man. But their love for rap music was genuine, and in 1991 they collaborated with Public Enemy on the genre-crossing classic Bring The Noise. Guitarist Scott ‘Not’ Ian has steered Anthrax since it the band came together in 1981. Another founding member, bassist Dan Lilker, departed in 1984 to form Nuclear Assault, but joined up with Ian and Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante in the controversial hardcore crossover project Stormtroopers Of Death. Ian, the primary lyricist, and Benante, chief songwriter, are the only members to have appeared on every Anthrax album. In the 80s the band’s line-up comprised Ian, Benante and Belladonna plus guitarist Dan Spitz and bassist Frank Bello. After Belladonna’s exit in the early 90s, Anthrax made four albums with ex-Armored Saint singer John Bush, beginning with a brilliant post-grunge reinvention on Sound Of White Noise. But after some lean years, it was 2011’s Worship Music – their first with Belladonna in 21 years – that breathed new life into the band. They carry on as they started: metal thrashing mad. Paul Elliott
Among The Living
Spreading The Disease
Three of the Big Four delivered defining albums in 1986: Metallica with Master Of Puppets, Slayer with Reign In Blood and Megadeth with Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying?. In 1987, Anthrax weighed in with what drummer Charlie Benante called their “signature album”. Among The Living was their breakthrough, hitting the UK Top 20, and it stands tall as a thrash classic. The album thrums with a fierce energy, a combination of breakneck speed and heavy grind proving brutally effective in the title track, Caught In A Mosh and the Judge Dredd-inspired I Am The Law. And in Indians, Anthrax had their Run To The Hills.
They got a foot in the door with their first album, Fistful Of Metal. With the follow-up they kicked it wide open. Spreading The Disease was an explosive record with which Anthrax asserted their authority on the thrash scene. New singer Joey Belladonna was an upgrade on Neil Turbin, with more control as well as power. Equally, the band’s songwriting moved up a gear; Madhouse and Medusa, with slower, chugging riffs, were as catchy as they were heavy, and in Armed And Dangerous an atmospheric intro had Belladonna channeling Ronnie James Dio before a frenzied thrash onslaught.
n the early 80s, a revolution was happening in heavy music, and it was Anthrax, a wild bunch from New York City, who gave it a name. In three bands’ debut albums from 1983 – Metallica’s Kill ’Em All, Slayer’s Show No Mercy and Exciter’s Heavy Metal Maniac – a new form of metal took shape. Harder and faster than anything before it, it was inspired by Motörhead, Venom, punk and hardcore as much as by Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Black Sabbath. And on Anthrax’s debut album Fistful Of Metal, cut from the same cloth and released in 1984, a fast-driving song, about driving fast, proved hugely significant. British rock journalist Malcolm Dome bastardised the song’s title, Metal Thrashing Mad, in a phrase that defined a genre: thrash metal. The guy who wrote the words to Metal Thrashing Mad, Anthrax singer Neil Turbin, was in the band only for that one album. But in the years that followed, Anthrax, with Joey Belladonna as vocalist, became one of the so-called Big Four of thrash, alongside Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth. For all the fury that Anthrax whipped up in landmark albums such as Spreading The Disease and Among The Living, there was a degree of levity that set this band apart
Superior Reputation cementing
Essential Playlist Metal Thrashing Mad Fistful Of Metal
Deathrider Fistful Of Metal
A.I.R. Fistful Of Metal MUSIC FOR NATIONS, 1984
Anthrax’s debut, like Metallica’s Kill ’Em All, had a daft cover image, a crude and grisly interpretation of the album’s title. It also gave a strong indication of the music within. Fistful Of Metal is the sound of a young, hungry band going at it hammer and tongs. Their primary influences, Iron Maiden and Motörhead, were evident. Singer Neil Turbin wailed like Manowar’s Eric Adams. And while a cover of Alice Cooper’s early hit I’m Eighteen was, as Scott Ian admitted, “cheesy”, the full-throttle attack of Deathrider and the epochal Metal Thrashing Mad identified Anthrax as a cutting-edge band.
Persistence Of Time
Sound Of White Noise
Spreading The Disease
NUCLEAR BLAST, 2011
Their first album in a new decade also signalled the end of an era for Anthrax. As Ian said: “We felt we were more than just a thrash band.” Persistence Of Time was a transitional album, made amid much creative tension, and the last from the classic line-up fronted by Belladonna. A bleak mood prevailed as the band dialled down the gonzoid thrash of old and Belladonna, reluctantly, cut the histrionics. A spiky cover of Joe Jackson’s Got The Time was fun, while it was the heaviness and complexity in Keep It In The Family and Belly Of The Beast that defined Anthrax’s darkest album.
It was a radically different Anthrax that emerged on Sound Of White Noise, with a new singer in John Bush and a new sound influenced by grunge. The result was a darkly powerful album, and the band’s biggest US hit. While Bush was a great metal singer, his gritty voice was also perfectly suited to material in an alternative rock vein. Lead single Only was described by James Hetfield as “a perfect song”. Black Lodge and This Is Not An Exit had the heavy aura of Alice In Chains, while the frantic Hy Pro Glo was a throwback to early thrash. An atypical Anthrax album, it was arguably their greatest victory.
With Joey Belladonna singing on an Anthrax album for the first time since 1990, 2011’s Worship Music was a triumphant return to form. But it might have turned out very differently. Belladonna had rejoined Anthrax in 2005, and left again two years later. When work started on Worship Music in 2008, Dan Nelson was the singer. It was only after Nelson was fired, and John Bush briefly reinstated, that the album was completed with Belladonna. From this chaos came a tightly focused album, on which the band rolled back the years in fullon thrashers such as Earth On Hell, and created modern epics in I’m Alive and In The End.
Armed And Dangerous
Good Worth exploring
Spreading The Disease
Madhouse Spreading The Disease
Caught In A Mosh Among The Living
I Am The Law Among The Living
Indians Among The Living
Be All, End All State Of Euphoria
Antisocial State Of Euphoria
Got The Time Persistence Of Time
Belly Of The Beast Persistence Of Time
Bring The Noise Attack Of The Killer B’s
State Of Euphoria
Attack Of The Killer B’s
For All Kings
NUCLEAR BLAST, 2016
After the huge success of Among The Living, which sold a million worldwide, with their next album Anthrax didn’t mess with the formula. State Of Euphoria was another sizable hit, but from a band playing it a little too safe the album was mixed. Be All, End All, the opening track, was a straight-up thrash blaster with an irresistible momentum. There was also a thunderous version of Antisocial, a fiery protest song by French punk-metal cult heroes Trust. But a series of dull, repetitive songs – Misery Loves Company, Who Cares Wins, Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind – suggested a rethink was needed.
As the tongue-in-cheek title indicated, this compilation album featured B-sides and tracks taken from EPs – including covers of the 60s surf rock hit Pipeline and the Kiss classic Parasite. It also included one of the band’s most important songs, a metalised take on Public Enemy’s Bring The Noise, featuring Chuck D and Flavor Flav. In addition, Anthrax’s own rap song, I’m The Man, was updated, as were two Stormtroopers Of Death tracks from the outrageously named album Speak English Or Die. Funniest of all was N.F.B. (Dallabnikufesin), in which the rock power ballad was expertly parodied, years ahead of Steel Panther.
With credibility restored by Worship Music, Anthrax carried that impetus into the follow-up. There was another line-up change, as Jonathan Donais replaced Rob Caggiano on guitar. But with Joey Belladonna properly bedded in from the start, For All Kings had the band sounding as tight as in their glory days of the 80s. The spirit of those times rang out loud in the high-speed bludgeoning of Evil Twin and Zero Tolerance. A more considered and melodic approach was evident in Breathing Lightning. And Blood Eagle Wings, a gloomy, eight-minute set piece, was one of the deepest songs that Anthrax ever recorded.
Anthrax’s first album with John Bush, Sound Of White Noise, was one of their best. The second, Stomp 442, was their worst. In a grim irony, it included a song titled Drop The Ball. After the departure of Dan Spitz, his guitar tech Paul Cook was promoted to lead guitarist on this album. Stranger still, drummer Charlie Benante also played guitar solos on a few tracks, as did a notable guest star, Dimebag Darrell of Pantera. And such was the influence of Pantera – in brute-force songs such as Fueled and In A Zone, with John Bush growling like Phil Anselmo – that much of Anthrax’s own identity was lost. The leaders had become followers.
Only Sound Of White Noise
Black Lodge Sound Of White Noise
This Is Not An Exit Sound Of White Noise
Earth On Hell Worship Music
I’m Alive Worship Music
Evil Twin For All Kings
Toto 40 Tours Around The Sun
DVDs BOOKS &
Serving The Servant: Remembering Kurt Cobain Danny Goldberg
Holding the line. There’s a self-congratulatory aura hanging over this show as both Toto and the 18,000 Dutch audience celebrate 40 years of being terminally uncool and get their reward: a pristine rock show. Nobody does AOR like Toto, and their greatest hits now almost sound better live than the meticulously crafted 80s studio versions that created their reputation. The two-hour-plus show is broken up with a ‘storytelling’ section in which they pull up chairs and talk about some of their songs, which includes Steve Porcaro recounting how he came to write the lyrics of Human Nature on Michael Jackson’s Thriller before singing it. Singer Joseph Williams can still hit all the notes, but the pivotal performer is Steve Lukather, a consummate guitarist who has the bravery to cover While My Guitar Gently Weeps and the audacity to add something to it. QQQQQQQQQQ Hugh Fielder
Nirvana management founder offers an insightful account from a ringside seat.
Dayglo: The Poly Styrene Story Celeste Bell and Zoë Howe OMNIBUS PRESS
famously hated the idea of ‘selling out’, yet would call his managers to ask why MTV weren’t showing the latest Nirvana video), and his developing heroin habit. Where Goldberg wins is in terms of intimacy. Few others got to see the sides of Cobain he saw, whether it was the single-minded artist who refused to let anyone other than himself dictate the course of his career, the uncynical music fan charmed by industry mogul David Geffen, or the wounded animal sent into a rage by an infamous Vanity Fair article which accused him and Love of taking heroin while the latter was pregnant. And then there’s the decline. Goldberg paints a bleak picture of Cobain’s last year, an escalating cycle of drug use and overdoses which even at the time read like a death spiral with only one outcome – his retelling of a final intervention days before Cobain’s death makes for grim reading. Yet ultimately this isn’t a headstone for a fallen talent. Goldberg makes it clear at the start that he wants to reclaim the man and his music from the annals of myth. And on that front, Serving The Servant is a success. QQQQQQQQQQ Dave Everley
Agnostic Front: The Godfathers Of Hardcore Dir: Ian McFarland Band’s story told through the eyes of its main men. Agnostic Front stormed to life in the very early 80s during an era when their NYC neighbourhoods were bombed-out warzones. Their music was a scream from the gutter, and while it is disingenuous to say they spawned the testosteronedrenched beast known as hardcore punk, they most certainly refined it. This raw and sometimes sombre documentary tells the band’s story through the eyes of its two prime movers: singer Roger Miret and guitarist Vinnie Stigma. It’s fairly clear early on that Miret, a family man with health issues, would be fine with ending the long-running band. It’s also clear that 60-year-old Stigma, who still lives on the same East Side block he grew up on, will never, ever let him. Aside from injecting plenty of vintage band footage, director McFarland mostly lets things just roll out naturally. As a story of two friends-til-the-end, it’s all pretty affecting stuff. QQQQQQQQQQ Sleazegrinder
I Am Damo Suzuki Damo Suzuki and Paul Woods OMNIBUS Absorbing biography of ex-Can vocalist. Damo Suzuki drifted in and out of Can the way he has drifted through life, his feet never touching the ground. Brought in to the German experimentalist band after they saw him busking, his weightless vocals reshaped albums such as Tago Mago and Future Days. He left the group after three years to join the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Today he’s on the road more or less permanently, with his
urt Cobain once described Danny Goldberg as a second father. As the 40-something founder of Nirvana’s management company, Gold Mountain, Goldberg had a ringside seat to the success and chaos that surrounded the Seattle trio during their meteoric rise, and the tragedy that brought it all crashing down. Serving The Servant – the title a nod to a track on Nirvana’s final album, In Utero – is his insightful, affecting memoir of three crazy years. A story that has been told and retold many times before gets a fresh insider’s perspective here, one that oscillates between awestruck admiration for Cobain’s talents and an escalating mix of concern, frustration and ultimately despondency at where his life took him. Goldberg started out as a music journalist before he hopped the fence, and he’s done his legwork, speaking to Cobain’s Nirvana bandmate Krist Novoselic, Courtney Love and others to corroborate his memories, fill in blanks and add fresh detail. Some of the events have been covered elsewhere, not least in Charles R Cross’s definitive Cobain biography Heavier Than Heaven: the singer’s early years, his push-me-pullyou relationship with success (he
The life and times of a true rebel, by those who knew her best. “Some people think little girls should be seen and not heard. But I think… oh bondage, up yours!” It’s a rallying cry from X-Ray Spex frontwoman Poly Stryene that has inspired thousands and, on the evidence of this wonderful book, captures perfectly the spirit of the complex, bold woman known to her family as Marian Elliott. A treasure trove of notes, photos, lyrics and diary entries uncovered by her daughter Celeste Bell after the singer’s tragically premature death in 2011, this collaboration with journalist and author Zoë Howe sees the pair talking to everyone who watched her blossom from a rebellious, scrappy school kid running away from her Brixton council estate, to a fearless icon of the punk era whose vivid sense of DIY style and bellowed, highly charged lyrics demanded to be noticed. Refreshingly for a project involving family members, the
book certainly doesn’t sugarcoat anything, dealing with her mental health issues, her unpredictable nature and her difficult upbringing with a cleareyed sense of honesty. As a result, Poly Styrene just shines brighter, blazing a neon trail through the punk scene of London without conforming to anyone or anything. She was a true artist and a genuine oneoff, and Dayglo is the celebration she deserves. QQQQQQQQQQ Emma Johnston
network of local musicians who perform with him wherever he lands up, his Can days a mere blip to him despite the fame they brought. Paul Woods’s account conveys the perpetual onward motion of Suzuki’s life which brought him into contact with everything from Hair to the student movements of the late 60s, helping him develop a personal philosophy of peaceful anarchism. After Can, he took a lengthy break from music making, and suffered serious illness before resuming life on the road with his own ensemble in the mid-80s. Woods paints a vivid picture of Suzuki’s global travels, including to Mali and New Guinea, drawing on interviews with family, band members and friends as well as Suzuki himself – a singular musical voyager. QQQQQQQQQQ David Stubbs
Foreigner Live At The Rainbow ’78 EAGLE VISION
Jukebox heroes at their early peak. They were young and hungry and flying high. In 1977, Foreigner’s selftitled debut album had sold a couple of million in the US. These were heady times for the AngloAmerican group, and in this performance, filmed at London’s Rainbow theatre in 1978, the energy comes off them in waves. The rakish Mick Jones, founder and boss of Foreigner, plays the guitar hero with a touch of British reserve, but American singer Lou Gramm is all-action, skinny, wild-haired and bouncing on his feet as he nails every note. All 10 songs from the first album are featured, Cold As Ice ending with beautiful vocal harmonies, and Headknocker the big finale. And in two numbers from thenimminent second album Double Vision – the title track and the crunching Hot Blooded – there’s the sound of a band seizing the moment. Even greater victories would follow. QQQQQQQQQQ Paul Elliott
The Dirt Netflix The film of the book of rock’s biggest dicks. If there’s one takeaway from Mötley Crüe’s undeniably entertaining exercise in autofellatio The Dirt, it’s that they’re
dicks. While it’s almost a duty for young men to leave home and behave like dicks for a while, a career in rock clearly allows young men to behave like bigger dicks for longer. And Mötley Crüe might just have been the biggest dicks of them all. Whether it’s Nikki Sixx’s intravenous drug use (rendered here in graphic, almost loving detail), or the wilful disregard for anyone else’s property, or the joyful manner in which women are mistreated, The Dirt does not paint a pretty picture of its subjects. And when Razzle’s death at the drunken hands of the idiot Vince Neil is given an almost poetic veneer, you have every right to consider abandoning Netflix after your free trial period is up. On the bright side, the film is genuinely funny, and beautifully cast. Douglas Booth and Iwan Rheon are convincing as Sixx and a sardonic Mick Mars, while Machine Gun Kelly is superb as the goofy, hyperactive Tommy Lee. Only Daniel Webber falls short, his Vince Neil an uncomfortable cross between Lee Evans and Rick Parfitt. QQQQQQQQQQ Fraser Lewry
Journey Live In Japan 2017: Escape + Frontiers EAGLE ROCK ENTERTAINMENT
Two classic albums brought to life. These days, it’s not unusual for artists to play the most successful albums in their entirety live. So for Journey to play both 1981’s Escape and 1983’s Frontiers back to back during this show at Tokyo’s Budokan makes complete sense. But anyone who thinks the band merely go through the motions, knowing the songs will carry the night, is misguided. Four of the line-up who recorded these iconic albums are on stage, with only Steve Perry missing. They clearly revel in performing the songs again, while frontman Arnel Pineda does a superb job on vocals, adding his own nuances yet paying due homage to his illustrious predecessor. The albums are played in the original track orders, and to hear such moments as Don’t Stop Believin’, Who’s Crying Now, Separate Ways (Worlds Apart) and Send Her My Love sends shivers down the spine. QQQQQQQQQQ Malcolm Dome
The High-Voltage Whatâ€™s On Guide Edited By Ian Fortnam (Reviews) and Dave Ling (Tours)
Slash Featuring Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators Slash still has the hat, but does he still have the appetite?
102 Interviews p105 Tour Dates p108 Live Reviews
“[The Hall Of Fame] are a bunch of clowns. Nobody knows them or how they come up with their decisions.”
Todd Rundgren The wizard, a true star, plays a one-off, two-set show in London.
A RUNDGREN RESUME
The set-list for this tour documents the same first half-century of your life, and includes hits and deep cuts. Was it easy to select the songs? Yeah. The show is in two sets. The first is intentionally nostalgic. I don’t consider myself a nostalgia artist, but on this occasion it feels right to revisit my material in the way that people remember it.
Having guested with The Lemon Twigs on their bizarre but fascinating rock opera Go To School, do you consider them a good prospect for the future? Yes I do. Their originality makes them remarkable.
What type of emotions did the process stir up? Some parts were pleasant, others much less so. I don’t dwell much in the past, so most of my recollections were always going to be pretty fleeting. However, it was always important for me to separate the factual from the emotional.
An alien comes to Earth and wants to know what Todd Rundgren is all about. Which three songs of yours do you play him or her? Hello It’s Me  would have to be among them because it was the first and last big hit I had. By Real Man  I had begun my evolution as an artist, and to take things in a completely different direction Bang The Drum All Day  is the most successful song I’ve ever done, even though most people don’t know it’s mine.
How did you feel when you were nominated for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2019 but missed out in the fan vote? I never cared about the Hall Of Fame. They induct you into that when your career is twenty years over. I was thirty-five years old when they established the Hall Of Fame [in 1983] – by then I had already had three careers. Why would I need that validation? They’re bunch of clowns. Nobody knows them or how they come up with their decisions.
Why does it cover only your first fifty years, and is there likely to be a volume two? I had expected to finish writing it twenty years ago [laughs] but I put the project on the shelf for decades. I bracketed the first fifty years because it’s a nice round number, and after I turned fifty my life became more boring. I find the things I do interesting, but readers might not, so a second book would probably have be the opposite – much more emotional and less factual.
Last year your band Utopia reunited for a first North American tour in thirty-two years. Did it live up to your expectations? We acquitted ourselves well despite Ralph [Schuckett, keyboards] being diagnosed with an exotic disease. But then as much as the gods had frowned upon us, they smiled by sending us a young kid named Gil Assayas who wasn’t even born when Utopia first existed, and things worked out just fine.
Incredibly, this was the first time the Hall Of Fame had even nominated you. The thing that really annoys me is that my fans were inconvenienced. They had done what they were encouraged to do [by voting for me], and all that happened was that everybody got jerked around. That pissed me off. I’m very protective of my fans. DL
ow 70 years old, the Philadelphia-born singer, songwriter, producer and multiinstrumentalist should require no introduction. But try telling that to the “bunch of clowns” at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. Your autobiography, The Individualist: Digressions, Dreams And Dissertations, was published last year. Why did you leave it so late in life? Writing always reminds me of homework and school. Breaking things down into chunks made the task much easier, but it took a lot of discipline.
Rundgren plays London’s Hammersmith Apollo on April 6.
LYNN GOLDSMITH / PRESS
Todd’s first group, The Nazz, formed in 1967. He produced the bestselling Meat Loaf album Bat Out Of Hell. 2017’s White Knight was his 25th studio solo record.
Dropkick Murphys Be prepared to “get your head kicked in by a wall of thunder”!
rummer Matt Kelly previews the American Celtic punk band’s visit to the UK and Ireland.
Having started out in Boston’s basement hardcore clubs in the mid-90s, Dropkick Murphys now top the bill at the Brixton Academy. How did you manage that? I guess it just shows that, sometimes, dedication and touring at a grass-roots level for fifteen-plus years pays off. We never took the tour support, tour sponsorships or easy money, doing things ourselves on our own terms. Luckily it paid off. Three nights at Dublin’s Vicar Street is also pretty cool. Do you think of playing Ireland as ‘going home’ in any sense? Personally speaking, I’d say it’s like going to a cousin’s house for the weekend. Did you hand-pick the two support acts, The Devil Makes Three and Grade 2? Yeah, TDM3 is some dark-bluegrass type stuff, and Grade 2 are an up-and-coming band of a more street-punk/Oi! and mod revival sound. I think they’re great. The members of Dropkick Murphys oppose fascism, racism, sexual discrimination and assaults on worker’s rights. With Trump in the White House your task must be harder than ever before. The only way that Trump in the White House makes our work harder is getting more cheesy political interview questions [laughs]. You’re invited to curate DropFest, a bill comprising six of your all-time favourite bands, existing or defunct. Who gets the call? Led Zeppelin with Bonzo, the Bon Scottfronted AC/DC, the 1974 incarnation of Slade, The Dubliners with Ronnie Drew and Luke Kell, the Clive Burr and Paul Di’Anno era of Iron Maiden and the ’82 line-up of Negative FX. What goes on at a Dropkick Murphys gig? Be prepared to get your head kicked in by a wall of thunder! We play songs spanning our entire catalogue, plus covers. It’s a lightning strike; we play hard and give everything. No choreographed silliness or rehearsed speeches, just us and our songs. DL The dates begin in Dublin on April 16.
Steve Harley Acoustic Trio The singer-songwriter tours with a pair of “virtuoso musicians”.
ockney Rebel’s frontman has been playing acoustic tours since 1998. His latest, which he’s already more than halfway through, comprises 31 shows spread across the country.
Presumably you approach your acoustic gigs as an entirely different discipline to their electric counterparts? Yeah, they are. Fans tend to ask us for certain songs, such as Death Trip from the first Cockney Rebel album [The Human Menagerie, 1973], which is only possible with the orchestra. I can’t play eleven minutes of all those changes. With just the three of us things must be approached differently than a six- or seven-piece rock band. In the acoustic trio you’re joined by your Cockney Rebel bandmates Barry Wickens on violin and guitar and pianist and percussionist James Lascelles. Why does it work so well? It does work and it is successful, and I say that in all modesty. It’s probably because Barry and James are such virtuoso musicians, and one’s age group now love to sit quietly and listen to what Dylan
would have called a song and dance man like me. I’m a wandering minstrel, that’s what I’ve become. You’re playing thirty-one dates this time around… … [interrupting] All of them sold out. Well, between a cough and a spit of that. Six of them are at the Pizza Express in London’s Holborn. That seems an unusual location? If five years ago somebody had asked me to do that before a hundred and twenty people, my
“I’m a wandering minstrel, that’s what I’ve become.” response would have been: How far have I slipped down the slope? Well, I went there to see my friend Steve Norman, and it’s a beautiful little theatre. I loved it. It’s not a cheap ticket, but people are happy to pay it to hear the songs performed a little differently. There’s a lot of improvisation.
When you get home from unplugged tours are you really wanting to play again with the electric band? Interestingly, no I don’t. At electric shows, during the sound-check I always request some time [to play] on my own. To use your phrase, [in acoustic mode] is a whole different discipline. I love them all, including the symphonic shows. When I get up in the morning I never know which of my hats I’m about to put on, and I love that fact. It’s a good life. If you enjoy the format so much, would you consider making an all-new acoustic studio record? I would. I’m writing a lot at the moment and I’ve got seventy-eight songs that I consider keepers, including ten or so that would work in that style. I want a double-bass player, not an electric one [who dabbles], also a top saxophonist – I know exactly the guy I want. Yeah, I’m really hot for that idea. Could unplugged eventually become your prime focus? Oh no. I love being in an electric band too much. DL The tour ends on April 27. CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 103
Monster Truck The “professional support band” go it alone this time. ollowing the band’s supports to some of the biggest names in rock, frontman Jon ‘Marv’ Harvey anticipates returning to the clubs with his Canadian bandmates.
In December you opened on a tour with Black Stone Cherry with special guests The Cadillac Three. Seven dates in some of the biggest venues in the UK seems a pretty good validation of the health of rock‘n’roll? The popularity of southern rock [in Britain] is pretty astounding to me. Right now I don’t think anywhere else responds so well to that kind of music, and it’s refreshing that people are listening to real rock music again.
Airrace Catch a band flying the flag for good old-fashioned melodic hard rock. uitarist and founding member Laurie Mansworth sets the scene for some headline dates from the AOR-meets-pomp rock crew.
Even a decade after he left, do some people hear the name Airrace and still think: “Oh, that’s Jason Bonham’s band”? I suppose a few of them might. Jason’s dad was one of the most famous musicians on earth. But there’s a lot more to this band than Jason, as I hope this latest record of ours [Untold Stories] proves.
reviews of your third album Untold Stories last year? It certainly did. Shaft Of Light [Airrace’s debut, 1994] is much loved by AOR fans, but back then some people hated us sounding like an American band. This one, though, has been celebrated right across the board. Airrace recently toured with The Treatment, who you manage and produce and who include your twenty-four-yearold son Dhani on drums. That sounds like quite a lot of work.
It is, but the effort is always worth it. Airrace and The Treatment have had so many road blocks, but each has loads of fans, and what drives both of us on is being together and a love of what we do.
Did that commitment feel validated by the glowing
What’s it like being in a band with your son?
“There’s a lot more to this band than Jason Bonham.”
Airrace’s successful 2018 co-headline tour with Lionheart suggests that an audience for good old-fashioned melodic hard rock still exists, although your Facebook posts suggest that you have concerns over the long-term future of rock music? Since the advent of streaming, making a living as a musician has become very, very difficult indeed. I believe that it [rock music] will always be around, but the latest problems with Pledge Music are another nail in the coffin. Do you have any solution to these issues? What we need is a new format [for distributing music] that can’t be copied, or a better deal for money to come back to the artist each time a song is played. I can’t see that happening, because everyone is used to listening to music for free, but I keep my fingers crossed. DL
You also played in arenas in the UK with Nickelback and Deep Purple. Were you able to interact much with those bands? Both of them were so kind to us, it was unbelievable. Deep Purple were like a bunch of grandads who wanted to hang out, talk, offer advice and tell stories. And anyone who says bad things about Nickelback is wrong – they’re the most fun band to tour with ever, and they get such a bum rap. It’s been a productive past few years for Monster Truck. How would you describe the progression between your first three albums, from 2013’s Furiousity to last year’s True Rockers? It’s been a quest to move things forward, and I’m very happy that we have tried a few different things. We didn’t want to be a simple stoner rock band. Making the same record three times just wasn’t going to happen. After the huge productions it’s back to the clubs again for these headline shows. Are you okay with that? Of course. We make more money playing our own shows anyway [laughs]. After so many tours as an opening act we joke among ourselves as being “the professional support band”, so now it’s time to plant our own flag in the ground. DL The begins in Bristol on April 18.
Airrace play London and Swansea
AIRRACE: JULIAN NAPIER/PRESS; MONSTER TRUCK: MATHEW A GUIDO/PRESS
Since the band’s original singer Keith Murrell quit following 2011’s reunion album Back To The Start, you’ve been the band’s driving force. Does it feel a bit like a personal mission? Yeah. I put Airrace together a year or two before Jason joined the band because I was growing tired of playing really heavy music with More. Since 1982 it’s been a long haul for me, especially as these days it’s getting tougher to be in a band, but I still enjoying writing the songs.
It’s not like the Gallaghers, we get on very well. I’m glad we’re not guitarists, that might have been more awkward.
Classic Rock’s review of the Wembley Arena show said: “Monster Truck’s thudding boogie-metal puts the ‘potatoes’ in ‘meat and potatoes’, but the reaction they receive reminds us that spuds will never go out of fashion.” Coming from a UK reviewer I’d say that’s very fair [laughs].
Tour Dates 10CC
Leicester Eastbourne London
De Montfort Hall Congress Theatre Royal Albert Hall
April 30 May 1 May 2
ACOUSTIC FESTIVAL OF BRITAIN
BIG COUNTRY, EAGLE-EYE CHERRY, MORE
May 31-Jun 2
Manette Street Borderline Hangar 18
Apr 19 Apr 20
Ulster Hall Ramblin’ Man Fair
ALICE IN CHAINS, BLACK REBEL MOTORCYCLE CLUB
Glasgow Birmingham London
Braehead Arena Barclaycard Arena Wembley Arena
May 23 May 25 May 25
SCORPIONS, ANTHRAX, DEE SNIDER, QUEENSRŸCHE, MORE
BLUES ON THE FARM FESTIVAL
CLIMAX BLUES BAND, NINE BELOW ZERO, MORE
Kinross Pocklington Hull Grayshott Wavendon Bilston Uckfield Wimborne London
Green Hotel Arts Centre Minster Village Hall The Stables Robin 2 Trading Boundaries Tivoli Theatre Manette Street Borderline
Apr 4 Apr 5 Apr 6 Apr 9 Apr 10 Apr 11 Apr 12 Apr 15 Apr 26
BON JOVI, MANIC STREET PREACHERS
UGLY KID JOE, MUSHROOMHEAD, LAWNMOWER DETH, MORE
A NEW DAY FESTIVAL
FOCUS, SWEET, HAWKLORDS, SOFT MACHINE, MORE
Mt Ephraim Gardens
Waterfront Studio Malet Street ULU
Apr 5 Apr 6
Kentish Town Forum
BAND OF SKULLS
Southampton Brighton Cardiff Bath London Manchester Glasgow
Central Hall St George’s Church Tramshed Komedia Islington Assembly Hall Stoller Hall St Luke’s Church
Apr 11 Apr 12 Apr 14 Apr 15 Apr 16 Apr 17 Apr 18
Swindon Swansea Southampton Glasgow Newcastle Grimsby Manchester Buckley Stoke-on-Trent Blackpool Plymouth Bridgwater London
Victoria Hangar 18 1865 Ivory Blacks Trillians Yardbirds Club Club Academy Tivoli Eleven Waterloo Junction Cobblestones Camden Underworld
Apr 4 Apr 5 Apr 6 Apr 10 Apr 11 Apr 12 Apr 13 Aug 23 Aug 24 Aug 25 Aug 29 Aug 30 Aug 31
BEARDED THEORY’S SPRING GATHERING
THE CULT, LITTLE STEVEN & THE DISCIPLES OF SOUL, MORE
BELTANE FIRE, JUMP, MELLOTRONANISM
King’s Cross Water Rats
BIG BOY BLOATER & THE LIMITS
London Camden Rocks Festival Colne Great British Rhythm & Blues Festival
Jun 2 Aug 25
Jun 10, 11
BLACK DEER AMERICANA & COUNTRY FESTIVAL
BAND OF HORSES, JOHN BUTLER TRIO, THE DEAD SOUTH, MORE
BLACK STONE CHERRY
Caerphilly Aberdeen Glasgow Dublin
Castle Music Hall Barrowland Academy
Liverpool London Coventry
Jun 21-23 Jul 13 Jul 14 Jul 16 Jul 17
SEC Armadillo Royal Albert Hall
Apr 22 Apr 24-26
Anfield Stadium Wembley Stadium Ricoh Arena
Jun 19 Jun 21 Jun 23
BREAKING BANDS FESTIVAL REIGN OF FURY, FALLING RED, HELL’S ADDICTION
Hackney Victoria Park May 24-Jun 2
ALL POINTS EAST FESTIVAL
BRING ME THE HORIZON, ARCHITECTS, WHILE SHE SLEEPS, MORE
Jul 18 Jul 20
RECO MME NDS
London Oxford Chislehurst Wolverhampton Wakefield
Stoke Prior Country Club May 23-26
Oxford Street 100 Club The Bullingdon Beaverwood Club Slade Rooms Warehouse 23
Apr 3 Apr 4 Apr 9 Apr 26 Apr 27
BUCK & EVANS
Birmingham Glasgow Cardiff Bristol Manchester London Brighton Newcastle
Castle & Falcon Audio The Globe Louisiana Jimmy’s Oxford Street 100 Club Prince Albert Cluny 2
May 4 May 5 May 11 May 18 May 26 May 27 Jun 29 Jul 13
Chesterfield Blackpool Birmingham London Edinburgh
Real Time Live Waterloo Music Bar Castle & Falcon Camden Underworld Bannermans Bar
Apr 2 Apr 4 Apr 5 Apr 6 Apr 7
CALL OF THE WILD FESTIVAL THE WILDHEARTS, VIRGINMARYS, HARDCORE SUPERSTAR, MORE
Catch the Voice Of A Generation. Among the supporting cast, Neil Young alone is worth the price of admission. London Manchester Edinburgh Gateshead Nottingham Liverpool Brighton
Hyde Park British Summer Time Festival Bridgewater Hall Usher Hall The Sage Royal Concert Hall Olympia Dome
CAVE IN, OLD MAN GLOOM, BOSSK
Camden Electric Ballroom
A CERTAIN RATIO
Islington Assembly Hall King’s Cross Water Rats
Royal Albert Hall
MUNGO JERRY, JOHN OTWAY & WILD WILLY BARRETT, MORE
Moon Under Water
ZAL CLEMINSON’S SIN DOGS
Dundee Aberdeen London Faversham Cropredy Bury St Edmonds
The Church The Assembly Oxford Street 100 Club New Day Festival Festival Rhythm, Blues & Rock Fest
JOHN COGHLAN’S QUO
CAMBRIDGE ROCK FESTIVAL
Jun 1, 2
FM, CARAVAN, CATS IN SPACE, ATOMIC ROOSTER, MOSTLY AUTUMN, MORE
Bristol Birmingham Leeds Glasgow Newcastle Manchester London
Haggis Farm Polo Club
The Fleece Institute Key Club King Tut’s Wah Wah Club Cluny Academy 3 Islington Academy
CATS IN SPACE
Hexham Wavendon Pontypridd Glasgow Buckley Sheffield Dublin
Queen’s Hall Arts Centre The Stables Muni Arts Centre Oran Mor Tivoli Corporation Button Factory
Jun 11 Jun 12 Jun 13 Jun 15 Jun 16 Jun 18 Jun 19 Apr 24 Apr 25 Apr 26 May 9 May 10 May 11 Jun 13
CONVERSATIONS WITH NICK CAVE
Cardiff Birmingham London
Millennium Centre Symphony Hall Barbican Centre
Hub Ropetackle Arts The Platform Welly Floral Pavilion
THE BEACH BOYS, MORE
Jun 15 Jun 17 Jun 19
Jun 17 Jun 18
CLEETHORPES BLUES FESTIVAL
GINGER WILDHEART, NEW MODEL ARMY, ASH, MORE
Chalk Farm Roundhouse Albert Hall
Plymouth Shoreham Morecambe Hull New Brighton
CAMDEN ROCKS FESTIVAL
GARY CLARK JR
Reading London Stoke-on-Trent Lincoln Nuneaton
Jun 20 Jun 22 Jun 23 Jun 25 Jun 26 Jun 28
Apr 13 Apr 26 May 4 May 17 May 18
DEMONS & WIZARDS
May 10 May 11 Jul 5 Aug 2 Aug 10 Sep 1
Great Tew Park
DEAD MAN’S WHISKEY
Islington Assembly Hall
May 25 Jun 30
FU MANCHU, KADAVAR, OM, MORE
Camden (various venues)
London Glasgow Manchester
Alexandra Palace Academy Apollo
May 3-5 May 11 May 13 May 14
DOOMSDAY OUTLAW, STEVIE
R PEARCE AND THE HOOLIGANS, SILK ROAD
Chesterfield Edinburgh Newcastle
Real Time Live Bannerman’s Bar Trillians
May 9 May 10 May 11
Jul 12 Facebar Camden The Lounge Eleven Call Of The Wild Festival Queen’s Hall
May 17 Nov 18 Nov 23 Nov 25 Nov 26
DEF LEPPARD, SLASH, WHITESNAKE, MORE Donington Park
THE DEVIL MAKES THREE, GRADE 2
Dublin Birmingham Glasgow Leeds Manchester London
Vicar Street Academy Academy Academy Academy Brixton Academy
Apr 16-18 Apr 21 Apr 21 Apr 23 Apr 21 Apr 26
GINGER BAKER, PETE YORK, HERMAN RAREBELL
DURHAM BLUES FESTIVAL
MUNGO JERRY, JOHN OTWAY & WILD WILLY BARRETT, MORE
Chiltern County Pub
BOB DYLAN, NEIL YOUNG
London Manchester Birmingham Liverpool Leeds Glasgow Dublin
Hyde Park BST Festival
Wembley Stadium Arena Arena Echo Arena First Direct Arena Hydro Arena 3 Arena
Jun 15 Jul 12 Jun 23 Jun 26 Jun 28 Jun 30 Jul 2 Jul 4 Jul 6, 8
EDEN’S CURSE, MOB RULES, DEGREED
London Newcastle Grimsby Stoke-on-Trent Bilston Sheffield Ebbw Vale Glasgow Bury
Camden Underworld Trillians Yardbirds Club Eleven Robin 2 Corporation Institute Garage The Met
Gateshead Wavendon Edinburgh Glasgow Birmingham Bristol Cambridge Manchester London Brighton Oxford Southampton
Newcastle Edinburgh London
Sage 2 The Stables Voodoo Rooms Òran Mór Academy 2 Thekla Junction Band On The Wall Highbury Garage The Haunt Academy 2 The Brook Trillians Rock Bar Bannerman’s Bar Camden The Unicorn
Apr 14 Apr 15 Apr 16 Apr 17 Apr 18 Apr 19 Apr 20 Apr 21 Oct 25
May 7 May 8 May 9 May 10 May 11 May 12 May 13 May 14 May 16 May 17 May 18 May 19 Jul 4 Jul 5 Jul 20
FLEETWOOD MAC, PRETENDERS Dublin London
RDS Arena Wembley Stadium
Jun 13 Jun 16, 18
Tramshed Warehouse 23 Corporation The Ritz Garage KK’S Steel Mill
Bristol Birmingham London Preston Glasgow Manchester
Apr 2 Apr 4 Apr 6 Apr 7 Apr 8 Apr 9
Vital Festival RDS Arena Festival Festival
Aug 19 Aug 21 Aug 23 Aug 25
Aylesbury Cambridge London
Manette Street Borderline
Academy Brixton Academy Apollo
Jun 29 Jun 30 Jul 1
Queen’s Hall Corporation The Waterloo Bannerman’s Bar Camden Underworld The Madding Crowd
Apr 12 Apr 13 Apr 14 Apr 18 Apr 26 Apr 27
Southampton Harpendon Sheffield Blackpool Huddersfield Stamford Chislehurst Sutton Bilston Wakefield Darwen Ripley Evesham
GOJIRA Birmingham London Manchester
GOLDRAY Nuneaton Sheffield Blackpool Edinburgh London Bournemouth
GONG Brighton London Leeds Newcastle Glasgow Nottingham Cardiff Bristol Southampton Seaton
Patterns Hackney Oslo The Wardrobe The Cluny Audio Rescue Rooms The Globe Thekla 1865 Mad Hatter’s Festival
May 16 May 17 May 18 May 19 May 21 May 22 May 23 May 24 May 25 May 26
GOV’T MULE Glasgow Newcastle Leeds Birmingham London Manchester
Academy Boiler Shop Academy Town Hall Kentish Town Forum Academy 2
GRETA VAN FLEET (REARRANGED DATES) Leeds Dublin Glasgow Newcastle Liverpool Nottingham
Academy Olympia Academy Academy Mountford Hall Rock City
Nov 3 Nov 4 Nov 6 Nov 7 Nov 9 Nov 10
GUN, TERRORVISION, THE WILDHEARTS Glasgow
HARD ROCK HELL BLUES SAVOY BROWN, AYNSLEY LISTER, CLIMAX BLUES BAND, MORE Sheffield
Academy London Bridge Omera
THE STEVE HILLAGE BAND ÐCambridge Manchester London
Junction The Ritz Shepherd’s Bush Empire
Jun 6 Jun 7 Jun 8
WARNER E HODGES BAND London Sheffield Blackpool Ipswich Sutton Kinross Chislehurst Kendal
Islington Hope & Anchor The Greystones Waterloo Bar The Railway Boom Boom Club Green Hotel Beaverwood Club Bootleggers Bar
May 23 May 24 May 26 May 27 Sep 20 Sep 22 Sep 24 Sep 26
May 14 May 15 May 17 May 18 May 20 May 21 May 23 May 24
JAG PANZER Camden Underworld
Apr 6 Apr 12 Apr 13 Apr 18 Apr 19 Apr 20
Friars Corn Exchange Chalk Farm Roundhouse
Apr 30 May 1 May 3, 4
Princess Alexandra Auditorium Apr 11 Queens Hall Apr 12 Fibbers Mar 13 Junction Apr 25 Tramshed Apr 26 Town Hall Apr 27
Camden Underworld Winter’s End Festival
Apr 5 Apr 7
KING CRIMSON London
Royal Albert Hall
KINGDOM OF MADNESS Alfreton Faversham Troon Kinross
Rock & Bike Festival A New Day Festival South Beach Sessions Green Hotel
Jul 13 Aug 3 Oct 4 Oct 5
KING PRAWN Manchester London Hastings
Punk Festival Islington Academy Blackmarket VIP
Apr 19 Apr 20 Apr 21
Recommended Birmingham London Manchester Newcastle Glasgow
Resorts World Arena O2 Arena Arena Metro Radio Arena The Hydro
Jul 9 Jul 11 Jul 12 Jul 14 Jul 16
MARK KNOPFLER Leeds Newcastle London Dublin Glasgow London Manchester Birmingham
First Direct Arena Metro Radio Arena Royal Albert Hall 3 Arena The Hydro O2 Arena Arena Genting Arena O2 Arena
STEVIE NIMMO TRIO, KEN PUSTELNIK’S GROUNDHOGS, MORE Drill Hall
AYNSLEY LISTER Chislehurst Sutton Farnham
Beaverwood Club Boom Boom Club Maltings
May 23 May 24 Jul 4
LITTLE STEVEN AND THE DISCIPLES OF SOUL Leeds Glasgow Bristol London
Academy Academy Academy Kentish Town Forum
JARED JAMES NICHOLS Waterfront The Mill Sub 89 Roadmender Garage Riverside Stylus Academy 2
Jul 16 Jul 17 Jul 19 Jul 20 Jul 23 Jul 24 Jul 25 Jul 26
JOHN LODGE Wavendon London Wimborne
The Stables Cadogan Hall Tivoli Theatre
Apr 12 Apr 13 Apr 14
NICK LOWE Frome Wavendon Isle Of Wight Suffolk Birmingham Bristol Brighton Cardiff Southport Hebden Manchester Glasgow Gateshead Hull Exeter Southampton Reading London
Cheese & Grain The Stables Shanklin Theatre Red Rooster Festival Town Hall St George’s Old Market Tramshed Theatre & Convention Centre Bridge Trades Club RNCM Royal Concert Hall The Sage Jubilee Central Church Phoenix Arts Centre Engine Rooms Sub 89 Shepherd’s Bush Empire
May 27 May 28 May 29 May 31 Jun 2 Jun 3 Jun 4 Jun 5 Jun 7 Jun 8 Jun 9 Jun 12 Jun 13 Jun 14 Jun 16 Jun 18 Jun 19 Jun 20
LYNYRD SKYNYRD, STATUS QUO May 18 May 19 May 21, 22 May 24 May 26 May 28 May 29 May 30
LIVING COLOUR, WAYWARD SONS, Norwich Birmingham Reading Northamton Glasgow Newcastle Leeds Manchester
May 18 May 20 May 22 May 24
Glasgow Manchester London Birmingham
Hydro Arena Arena Wembley Arena Genting Arena
Jun 26 Jun 27 Jun 29 Jun 30
Arlington Arts Centre
MAGNUM Stoke-on-Trent Aberdare Bury St Edmunds Holmfirth Warrington
Jun 4 Jun 5 Jun 11 Jun 12 Jun 13
MANIC STREET PREACHERS Dublin Cambridge Bath London Manchester Birmingham Southampton Edinburgh York Liverpool Leicester Cardiff
Limerick Belfast Dublin Leeds Manchester Norwich
Olympia Theatre May 12 Corn Exchange May 14 Forum May 15 Shepherd’s Bush Empire May 17, 18 The Ritz May 20, 21 Academy May 23 Guildhall May 24 Usher Hall May 26 Barbican May 27 Olympia May 30 De Montfort Hall May 31 Castle Jun 29
Dolan’s Empire Whelan’s Brudenell Social Club Rebellion Arts Centre
Jun 7 Jun 8 Jun 9 Jun 10 Jun 11 Jun 19
MEN AT WORK Manchester London
Academy 2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire
Jun 20 Jun 21
METALLICA, GHOST, BOKASSA Dublin Manchester London
Slane Castle Etihad Stadium Twickenham Stadium
Jun 8 Jun 18 Jun 20
MIDNIGHT OIL Manchester London
Apollo Brixton Academy
Jun 9 Jun 13
MIDNITE CITY, DEVILFIRE, ATLAS UK Bradford Stoke-on-Trent Nottingham Cannock Crumlin Grimbsy
Trash Eleven Alberts The Station The Patriot Yardbirds
Jun 1 Jun 6 Jun 7 Jun 14 Jun 15 Jun 22
MIKE + THE MECHANICS Watford Basingstoke Eastbourne Milton Keynes Bristol Salisbury
Coliseum The Anvil Congress Theatre Theatre Hippodrome City Hall
Apr 2 Apr 3 Apr 5 Apr 7 Apr 8 Apr 9
SWX SWG3 Institute Shepherd’s Bush Empire
Jul 2 Jul 3 Jul 4 Jul 6
MINISTRY Bristol Glasgow Birmingham London
MONSTER TRUCK, ROYAL TUSK Bristol Birmingham Manchester Glasgow Newcastle Nottingham Norwich London
Academy Academy 2 Academy 2 SWG3 Academy 2 Rescue Rooms Waterfront Camden Electric Ballroom
Apr 18 Apr 19 Apr 20 Apr 22 Apr 23 Apr 25 Apr 26 Apr 27
VAN MORRISON London
Kings Hall Coliseum The Apex Picturedrome Parr Hall
Apr 11 Apr 12 Apr 13 Apr 26 Apr 27 May 4 May 9 May 10 May 16 Jun 7 Jun 8 Jun 14 Jun 21
Shepherd’s Bush Empire
1865 Public Halls HRH Blues Festival Waterloo Music Bar Marsh Blues Club Mama Liz’s Beaverwood Club Boom Boom Club Robin 2 Warehouse 23 Library Theatre Town Hall Iron Road
Chalk Farm Roundhouse
Jul 6, 7
MOSTLY AUTUMN Leamington Spa Bilston York St Helens
Trinity Festival Robin 2 The Crescent Citadel
May 11 Jun 2 Jun 7 Jun 28
MOTT THE HOOPLE ’74, TAX THE HEAT Manchester Glasgow Birmingham Gateshead London
Academy Barrowland Symphony Hall The Sage Shepherd’s Bush Empire
Apr 19 Apr 20 Apr 21 Apr 23 Apr 26, 27
MUSE London Bristol Manchester
London Stadium Ashton Gate Etihad Stadium
Jun 1 Jun 5 Jun 8
WILKO JOHNSON, GLENN TILBROOK
LINCOLN BLUES FESTIVAL
Picturedome Queen’s Hall Institute UEA Alban Arena Alban Arena Academy Rock City
Stockton-on-Tees Edinburgh York Cambridge Cardiff Cheltenham
GLENN HUGHES PERFORMS CLASSIC DEEP PURPLE, Holmfirth Edinburgh Birmingham Norwich St Albans Salisbury Liverpool Nottingham
KISS Apr 13, 14
JO HARMAN London
Foreigner (pictured), Black Stone Cherry, The Darkness, Beth Hart and many more play the annual bash in Kent.
KAYAK May 27 May 28 May 29 May 31 Jun 1 Jun 2
Thekla Asylum Tufnell Park Dome Guildhall Garage Academy 3
GANG OF FOUR London
Apr 19, 20
NICK MASON’S SAUCERFUL OF SECRETS
FOO FIGHTERS Belfast Dublin Leeds Reading
FM, QUIREBOYS, VEGA, BAD TOUCH Cardiff Wakefield Sheffield Manchester Glasgow Wolverhampton
RAMBLIN’ MAN FAIR
TOUR DATES NEW MODEL ARMY Clitheroe Whitby
The Grand Tomorrow’s Ghosts Festival
Apr 26 Apr 27
PAPA ROACH, NOTHING MORE Southampton Exeter Bristol London Manchester Leeds Newcastle Edinburgh Aberdeen Norwich Nottingham Birmingham
Guildhall Great Hall Academy Kentish Town Forum Academy Academy Academy Usher Hall Music Hall UEA Rock City Academy
Apr 13 Apr 14 Apr 15 Apr 17, 18 Apr 20 Apr 21 Apr 23 Apr 24 Apr 25 Apr 27 Apr 28 Apr 29
Robin 2 Prince Of Wales
May 30 Jun 23
JIZZY PEARL & LOVE, THE BRINK Blackpool Ballymena
Waterloo Diamond Rock Club
Apr 5 Apr 6
THE PICTUREBOOKS Birmingham Glasgow Newcastle Bristol London
Asylum 2 King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut Cluny 2 Exchange Camden Underworld
May 3 May 5 May 6 May 9 May 10
POISON IDEA London
New Cross Inn
They’ve had their problems over the years, but writing top tunes and playing riveting shows aren’t among them.
Joiner’s Arms The Exchange Flapper & Firkin Star And Garter Garage Attic Think Tank Bodega Brundenell Social Club Camden Underworld
Apr 17 Apr 18 Apr 19 Apr 20 Apr 21 Apr 22 Apr 23 Apr 24 Apr 25
RAMBLIN’ MAN FAIR
FOREIGNER, BLACK STONE CHERRY, THE DARKNESS, BETH HART, MORE Maidstone
READING AND LEEDS FESTIVALS FOO FIGHTERS, ROYAL BLOOD, TWENTY ONE PILOTS, MORE Reading Leeds
Richfield Avenue Bramham Park
Aug 23-25 Aug 23-25
THE STRANGLERS, DESCENDENTS, THE SKIDS, MORE Blackpool
Preston Bury St Edmunds Cheltenham Swindon Watford Southend-on-Sea Lancaster Harrogate Newark Leeds Loughborough Reading Worthing Hayes Bromley Wycombe Aldershot Exeter Folkestone Clacton-on-Sea Dartford King’s Lynn
Guild Hall The Apex Town Hall Wyvern Theatre Colosseum Palace Theatre Grand Theatre Theatre Palace Theatre City Varieties Town Hall Hexagon Pavilion Beck Theatre Churchill Theatre Swan Theatre Princes Hall Corn Exchange Leas Cliff Hall West Cliff Theatre Orchard Theatre Corn Exchange
Apr 7 Apr 24 Apr 25 Apr 26 Apr 27 Apr 28 May 1 May 2 May 3 May 4 May 5 May 8 May 9 May 10 May 11 May 12 May 15 May 16 May 17 May 18 May 19 May 20
London Bilston Glasgow Chepstow
LI’L JIMMY REED Hull Stamford Broadstairs Chichester Frome Ilminster Torrington London Southsea Marlborough Eastleigh Cambridge
Kardomah 94 Arts Centre Sarah Thorne Theatre Chidham & Hambrook Hall Merlin Theatre Meeting House Arts Centre Plough Arts Centre Camden Blues Kitchen Bullfrog Blues Club Town Hall Wickham Festival Folk Festival
Jun 6 Jun 7 Jun 8 Jun 12 Jun 13 Jun 14 Jun 15 Jul 31 Aug 1 Aug 2 Aug 3 Aug 4
ROCK AND BIKE FEST
QUIREBOYS, KINGDOM OF MADNESS, BAD TOUCH, MORE
South Normanton Carnfield Hall
ROCK AND BLUES CUSTOM SHOW REEF, THE PETE WAY BAND, INGLORIOUS, MORE PentrichÐ
Coney Grey Showground
ROCKIN’ THE BLUES
Kentish Town Forum
RODRIGO Y GABRIELA London
Chalk Farm Roundhouse
FRANCIS ROSSI (SPOKEN WORD) Richmond Coventry Porthcawl Brierley Hill
Theatre Albany Theatre Grand Pavilion Civic Hall
Apr 3 Apr 4 Apr 5 Apr 6
London Bilston Edinburgh
Chelsea Under The Bridge Robin 2 Blues Club
Beaverwood Club Heartbreakers Bar Iron Road The Hawth Robin 2 Live Rooms New Crawdaddy Club Elland Meeting Room
Apr 12 Apr 15 Apr 16 Apr 2 Apr 3 Apr 6 Apr 7 Apr 10 Apr 11 Apr 12 Apr 13
SHEEPDOGS Glasgow Manchester London
King Tit’s Wah Wah Hut Deaf Institute Highbury Garage
Jun 17 Jun 18 Jun 19
KENNY WAYNE SHEPHERD Boiler Shop Leadmill City Hall London Bridge Omeara The Fleece Night & Day Café Classic Grand La Belle Angele Chalk Farm Roundhouse
Aug 16 Aug 17 Aug 18 Aug 19
THUNDER, THIN LIZZY, URIAH HEEP, THE TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT, MORE Ebbw Vale
STONE TEMPLE PILOTS Glasgow Academy London Kentish Town Forum Castle Donington Download Festival Birmingham Manchester London
Academy Apollo Hammersmith Apollo
Jun 12 Jun 13 Jun 15 Jun 23 Jun 25 Jun 26, 27
SUPERSONIC FESTIVAL Birmingham
Bristol Manchester Glasgow London Birmingham
The Fleece Deaf Institute King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut Islington Academy Institute
Jul 19-21 May 12 May 13 May 14 May 16 May 17
SYMPHONY X Coventry Holmfirth London
Empire Theatre Picturedrome Camden Electric Ballroom
Jun 4 Jun 5 Jun 6
TEARS FOR FEARS London Cheshire Woodstock
Hampton Court Palace Delamere Forest Blenheim Palace Palladium
Apr 1 Apr 2 Apr 4 Apr 5 Apr 6 Sep 20, 21
London Bristol Nottingham Manchester
Islington Assembly Hall SWX Rock City The Ritz
May 3-5 May 2 May 3 May 4 May 5
Live At Chelsea Festival Live At The Marquee
May 22 May 23 May 24 May 25 May 27 May 29 May 30 May 31 Jun 1 Jun 2
MOSTLY AUTUMN, GODSTICKS, MORE The Assembly
MARTIN TURNER EX-WISHBONE ASH Twickenham Newbury Worcester Bridgend Pontypridd Dartmouth Nantwich Hull Newcastle Lowdham Knaresborough Glasgow Kinross Aberdeen Havant
Eel Pie Club Arlington Arts Centre Huntingdon Hall Maesteg Town Hall Muni Flavel Arts Centre Civic Hall The Welly The Cluny Village Hall Frazer Theatre The Ferry Green Hotel The Assembly Spring Arts Centre
Apr 4 Apr 5 Apr 6 Apr 12 Apr 13 Apr 14 Apr 18 Apr 19 Apr 20 Apr 26 Apr 27 May 2 May 3 May 4 May 12
UFO, TARA LYNCH Hull Southampton London London
City Hall The Brook Shepherd’s Bush Empire Kentish Town Forum
Apr 2 Apr 3 Apr 4 Apr 5
WHISKEY MYERS London Birmingham Manchester Glasgow Dublin
Camden Electric Ballroom Institute The Ritz Garage Whelan’s
May 21 May 22 May 23 May 24 May 26
THE WHO, EDDIE VEDDER, London
Jun 13 Jun 15
DANI WILDE Oxford Street 100 Club
THE WILDHEARTS Manchester Edinburgh Cardiff Bristol London Norwich Leeds Newcastle
Academy 2 Liquid Room Tramshed SWX Brixton Electric Waterfront Stylus Riverside
May 3 May 4 May 6 May 7 May 9 May 10 May 11 May 12
FM, H.E.A.T, SKID ROW, ULI JON ROTH, MORE Troon
TOTO London Cork
Slade Rooms Hangar 18 Camden Underworld Waterfront Portland Arms Corporation Rebellion Stereo Brickyard The Cluny
London Apr 26, 27
THE DARKNESS, PHIL CAMPBELL AND THE BASTARD SONS, VIRGINMARYS, MORE Blandford
Apr 4 Apr 5 Apr 6 Apt 7 Apr 9 Apr 10 Apr 11 Apr 12 Apr 13 Apr 14 Apr 16 Apr 17 Apr 18 Apr 20 Apr 23 Apr 24 Apr 25 Apr 16
KAISER CHIEFS, MORE
Jun 18, 19 Jun 21 Jun 22
TEDESCHI TRUCKS BAND London
Wolverhampton Swansea London Norwich Cambridge Sheffield Manchester Glasgow Carlisle Newcastle
THE SISTERS OF MERCY London
Beautiful Days Festival Brixton Academy Academy Academy
TEDDY ROCKS FESTIVAL Jul 17 Jul 18 Jul 19
CHRIS SHIFLETT London Bristol Manchester Glasgow Edinburgh
Devon London Manchester Bristol
SARI SCHORR Chislehurst Southampton Eversham Crawley Bilston Chester Basildon Leeds
NEUROSIS, GODFLESH, MORE
Newcastle Sheffield Salisbury
WALTER TROUT, JONNY LANG, KRIS BARRAS BAND London
Tufnell Park Boston Music Room Apr 2 Robin 2 Apr 3 Ivory Blacks Apr 4 Winter’s End Festival Apr 5
SAINT VITUS London
THE STRAY CATS Apr 6
THE SKULL, WORSHIPPER London
The Diamond Craufurd Arms Hangar 18 Zephyr Waterfront Camden Black Heart Eleven The Waterloo Corporation Trillians Robin 2 Live Rooms Yardbirds Club Diamond Rock Club The Assembly Church Audio Bannerman’s Bar
THE TREATMENT, BIGFOOT
See below for dates. Currently June 12, 13 and 15.
PUPPY, GREEN LUNG Southampton Bristol Birmingham Manchester Glasgow Newcastle Nottingham Leeds London
Shepherd’s Bush Bush Hall Apr 24, 25 St George’s Hall Apr 26 City Varieties Apr 27 Jam House Apr 29 Glee Club Apr 30 Academy Dec 6 Limelight Dec 7 SWG3 Galvanisers Dec 9 Albert Hall Dec 10 Chalk Farm Roundhouse Dec 12 Rock City Dec 13
MIKE TRAMP Sutton-in-Ashfield Milton Keynes Swansea Bournemouth Norwich London Stoke-on-Trent Blackpool Sheffield Newcastle Bilston Chester Grimsby Ballymena Aberdeen Dundee Glasgow Edinburgh
IAN PARKER Bilston Ledbury
DEVIN TOWNSEND London Bristol Leeds Edinburgh Birmingham Dublin Belfast Glasgow London London Nottingham
STONE TEMPLE PILOTS
ZZ TOP, JIMMY BARNES London
‘The charged mood and energy never lets up.’
The Struts London Shepherd’s Bush Empire Britain’s band of the moment stake another claim to be rock’s Next Big Thing.
Luke Spiller: shaping up to be one of the great frontmen.
Bodies burst out over the balconies, and even more are packed downstairs. Plastic pint glasses of Tuborg snake out from the bars and through the ocean of tour T-shirts. Every last inch of this 2,000-capacity, Grade II-listed theatre is heaving with people, from teenagers and a few actual kids to 50-somethings. In truth, tonight’s headliners could probably have upgraded to a bigger venue, but a maxed-out gig is certainly one way to reflect how in-demand you are, and The Struts know this. Last year The Struts released their second album, Young & Dangerous to widespread acclaim and the delight of their increasing fan base (which includes Tom Morello, Steven Tyler, Dave Grohl, Tommy Lee…). As frontman Luke Spiller will point out later, their native UK has been “slower” to catch on than the US, Japan and, most recently, Australia. To anyone already swept up by their whirlwind of weapons-grade fun, that might seem outrageous. And for those of us who wept at our TVs as George Ezra, The 1975 and Ed Sheeran cleaned up at The Brits, it’s easy to look at The Struts (and their cache of absolute bangers) and think it should have been them getting gongs. Still, tonight is about celebrating, not griping. With Spiller resplendent in his ludicrous fringed black-andwhite cowboy suit, with his piercing, kohl-lined eyes and jazz-handed strut, they open with Primadonna Like Me’s cocksure statement of intent: ‘Hey you, don’t you know who I think I am?!!’ Spiller looks like a playing card in Alice In Wonderland, restyled by Dolly Parton. And then there’s the song itself, a glittery, spectacularly glam floor-filler with a canyon-sized chorus that’s easily one of the best things the band have written. Everyone in the audience goes nuts. It’s the kind of reaction normally reserved for beloved encore hits, yet the band are literally just getting started. “They’ll never sustain that momentum,” you might think. Just watch them. By now The Struts have toured and played a lot, winning over audiences as support artists and preaching to the converted at headline shows. Summoning all their experience, drive and lessons learned from years spent living mostly out of suitcases, they know exactly how to play this for optimum effect. That may sound rather calculated, but it really doesn’t come across that way, and all four
Having the time of their lives: Adam Slack and (below) Jed Elliott.
guys, not just their superlative mouthpiece, seem to legitimately be having the time of their lives. Pop-star-pretty bassist Jed Elliott flashes a Colgate-white smile in leather trousers, while drummer Gethin Davies arm-wheels away, all bird’s-nest hair and stripy attire like a younger, suaver Beetlejuice. Guitarist Adam Slack, essentially the band’s co-mastermind and songwriter with Spiller, nails licks, chops and harmonies that channel Brian May and prime-era Britpop influences to zingy effect. The charged mood and energy never lets up. Punchy new anthems Body Talks and In Love With A Camera bring cheerleader-on-Haribo levels of audience rapture – not to mention knowing but upbeat odes to millennial culture (a breath of fresh air in an age that can seem hellbent on chastising that particular generation). Dirty Sexy Money exudes the kind of sequined cuban-heeled stomp you’d expect
chutzpah is infectious, and if they needed to fill the time due to an absence of tunes it wouldn’t matter at all. But a lack of tunes is one thing The Struts don’t have. Indeed with two hitstuffed albums in their holster there are plenty of stone-cold winners that don’t make it into the set (The Ol’ Switcheroo, Tatler Magazine, Roll Up, People, Black Swan…) but would have gone down a storm. We love the chat Luke, but maybe swap one bit of audience participation for another song, eh? Spiller channels his But that’s a minor point – the final dusting inner Freddie Mercury. of sprinkles on top of an already very big, beautifully iced cake – and it certainly doesn’t from a song featuring the line ‘sex-crazed tiger full of detract from everyone’s enjoyment of the show. The dynamite’, while Somebody New brings some Oasislovable Put Your Money On Me and a big, sweaty, nodding balladry to proceedings. And during a cover arms-round-your-mates singalong of Where Did She of Springsteen’s Dancing In The Dark, a tiny, delightedGo close the pre-encore set, after which they come looking girl from the audience is brought on stage for galloping back for Ashes (Part 2) and Could Have Been a sing and dance with Spiller, who carries it all off in Me. It’s here that we’re reminded that The Struts’ rise a way that’s endearingly sweet, not creepy. has not all been smooth sailing and open doors. There is, it must be said, a lot of banter. Some of it “The UK has been a little slow to catch on,” Spiller we’ve heard at previous gigs, like the bit about says, sitting at a white piano (seemingly deciding to “spunking all the budget” on Spiller’s outfit and fully embrace those Freddie Mercury comparisons), creating “human fireworks” with the audience (fair “but I think after this tour that’s gonna change!” play to them, though, these lines do work a treat). On the strength of tonight, and the sheer popThis in itself isn’t a bad tastic accessibility of The thing; Spiller’s charm Struts’ music, it would seem and toothy-grinned as though it should. As things stand, their latest album chart positions (No.77 in the UK, No.102 in the US) and lack of airplay tell one story, while their success playing live, quality material and famous supporters An audience member tell another. Something, joins the band for somewhere, isn’t clicking yet. Dancing In The Dark. The personal taste of certain key powers? Conservatism of mainstream radio? Plain bad luck? It would, however, be curmudgeonly to focus solely on this. If The Struts ‘only’ make it this far, as a brilliant band playing great music on big tours in front of happy punters and celebrity fans, they can look back with their heads held high. We just can’t help thinking if anyone deserves to make the next leap, it’s them. Words: Polly Glass Photos: Kevin Nixon
Feelgood hits and solo gems: Wilko and co’s formula works a treat.
‘Wilko may play R&B and rock’n ’roll, but h e plays it lik e no one el se.’
Wilko’s bassist Norman Watt-Roy: seems to have 10 fingers on each hand.
Wilko Johnson / Glenn Tilbrook Bexhill De La Warr Pavilion Squeeze’s singer sets the tone for a superb set from the beloved Dr Feelgood icon and his ‘extraordinary’ band.
why Wilko is so loved – very few of the cast of Game Of Thrones also have a sideline as an R&B guitar legend – and tonight there’s plenty of opportunity to witness that love. Part of it is the pleasure of seeing his extraordinary band. There’s Dylan Howe, who looks 12 and may well be, a jazz-tinged drummer who loves the big beat and spends the entire night grinning like a 12-year-old maniac – even when one of his drums goes AWOL, causing him to play the big roll at the end of Going Back Home on not the right bits of kit (a splendid recovery). Howe even gives us a proper drum solo in the Buddy Rich tradition at the end of the night. And there’s Norman Watt-Roy, at first sight an unlikely choice for a rock’n’roll rhythm section. WattRoy – who has grown to look like a slightly less sinister version of Wilko – plays the guitar like no one else, complicated-sounding bass lines that contain more notes than a scholar’s edition of Shakespeare. He seems to have 10 fingers on each hand, and holds the bass like he is attempting to both strangle and resuscitate it at the same time. Both Howe (simplicity, grinning) and Watt-Roy (complexity, strangling) are
the perfect rhythm section for Wilko, who famously combines the two-riffs-at-once style of Mick Green with his own psychotic robot machine gunner stage presence. He may play R&B and rock’n’roll – although since the 80s his solo work has been a lot more blues and even jazz – but he plays it like no-one alive or dead. Even the band’s trademark encore of Bye Bye Johnny is spattered with guitar breaks that sound like Chuck Berry experimenting with Cubism, frenetic bursts of riffs that mirror the Bren gun assaults on the audience he occasionally gives us. The set, while virtually unchanged in decades, is perfect. A few Feelgoods songs – a brilliant Roxette, a drum-crisis Going Back Home, a leery Back In The Night – some solo gems (Doctor Dupree, a jazz-ended Everybody’s Carrying a Gun) and of course the epic When I’m Gone, which crams the Yardbirds’ entire career into one song. Then Bye Bye Johnny and out. A brilliant band, a brilliant night. David Quantick
“I love that riff,” says Glenn Tilbrook, after treating us to the introductory chords of Rebel Rebel. It’s one of the more unexpected moments in Tilbrook’s support slot tonight – he also has a very creditable bash at Fleetwood Mac’s Oh Well, accompanied by his electric guitar only. Tonight’s set is a mixture of acoustic and amplified, old and newish, and it’s a measure of Tilbrook’s talents that he can hold an audience with two instruments – the other being his extraordinary, honeyed falsetto. Under-rated as a blue-eyed soul singer, Tilbrook’s best songs tap into a rich vein of soul (the amazing Tempted) and a reality based on the mean streets of South London (the grittier, sweeter Costello of Pulling Mussels From A Shell). The hits are present, of course (a lovely Up The Junction) but there’s a solid connection between early disco stompers Take Me I’m Yours and Slap And Tickle and more recent numbers and the truestorified 0 To 60). Tilbrook’s set is received well by an audience of men and women of a certain vintage – there’s some dancing in the aisles, a lot of post-modern clapping and a few “Oi oi!”s – but the roof almost shifts when Wilko Johnson and his band come on stage. It’s easy to see
‘Slash isn’t reinventin g the wheel, but he’s keeping it turning.’
Slash Featuring Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators London Eventim Apollo What was that band he was in? One of the less heralded but more understandable fallouts of the Guns N’ Roses reunion has been its effect on Slash’s solo career. Estranged from Axl Rose, he needed to keep his contribution to GN’R history alive by playing a clutch of their songs. Not any more, and these days Nightrain is the sole reminder of the past which made him and ensures the Apollo is rammed. After six albums under his own name, it’s a reminder that Slash clearly feels nobody needs. As a strategic move it’s brave but, tellingly, Nightrain is the most rapturously received moment of a relentless, rock-hard two-hour set. As a result, without the songs which changed the lives of Slash and his audience, the response is reverential rather than rabid. All the same, while he’s no Rose, singer Myles Kennedy is the right man for this job, a no-frills vocal foil for a frill-filled guitarist, an Alex Ligertwood to Slash’s Carlos Santana. Dominating everything but the limelight and dressed as if he still has an appetite for destruction, Slash unleashes a succession of coruscating guitar solos which take essentially basic material to a new level. As those solos soar, not least on World On Fire and Anastasia, so does the evening. He’s not re-inventing the wheel, but he is keeping it turning.
y: Myles Kenned r fo il fo s ill -fr no ‘a itarist.’ a frill-filled gu
Slash: no longer dependent on his GN’R past.
Steely Dan / Steve Winwood
London Kentish Town O2 Forum
London Shepherd’s Bush Empire
London Wembley Arena
This is some kind of magic.
Cowbells, North Korea and rock’n’roll.
Fagen lets the music do the talking.
Wistful sometimes, full-blown and rockin’ more often, I do not recall Evan Dando’s Boston band Lemonheads ever sounding this mighty first time around. Maybe it’s the presence of Chris Brokaw (Come, Codeine) on incendiary harmony-drenched guitar. Maybe it’s the packed Forum lustily singing along to near-hits Down About It, It’s A Shame About Ray and the incredible cover of Mike Nesmith’s Different Drum. Maybe it’s the presence of Bevis Frond guitarist Nick Saloman for a series of somewhat bewildering guitar duets? It’s odd. Dando clearly fancies himself as an interpreter of other people’s songs – witness his band’s latest collection of cover versions Varshons 2 – but most of the sublime moments tonight come when his band rips full-throttle into his own songs, barely pausing for breath. Punk, as reimagined by The Replacements and their ilk, as wonderfully realised by Lemonheads. Stove (from 1990’s Lovey), a plaintive Rudderless (from 1992’s It’s A Shame About Ray), songs that to us present were all major hits, the soundtrack to lovers and fights and drug abuse and plane rides going nowhere. It is only when Evan drops the band and starts playing seemingly another concert altogether – one where he plays interminable covers of Frogs songs – that our attention drifts, sharply and brilliantly brought back into focus by Bit Part and Into Your Arms. Evan, you are still our heartthrob.
Slovenian pranksters Laibach have been ploughing a unique furrow for nearly forty years, evolving from terrifying industrial noise-niks into something much harder to pigeonhole: an inscrutable Dadaesque politics project, exploring everything and explaining nothing. So tonight we get a screening of the band’s Liberation Day documentary, telling the story of their 2015 trip to North Korea, followed by a 30-minute tape of farmyard sounds. Cocks crow, cowbells clank, go figure. The main event is a performance of songs from The Sound Of Music. The Laibach of old would have added boom and bombast to such covers, but these versions are surprisingly tender, with Milan Fras’s unmistakable bass growl dovetailing beautifully with the more traditional vocals of Boris Benko and Marina Mårtensson. So Long, Farewell is backed by footage of North Korean soldiers goose-stepping across Kim Il-sung Square, and there’s a stirring medley of the DPRK pop smash We Will Go To Mt. Paektu and the peninsular folk anthem Arirang. Part two finds the band in more familiar territory, with a teeth-rattling version of Smrt Za Smrt and a rollicking cover of the Stones’ Sympathy For The Devil. Contrarians to the last, they finish with two unreleased songs from the forthcoming lunar Nazi caper Iron Sky: The Coming Race, adding R&B and cartoon country to their armoury. Still bonkers, still brilliant.
Steve Winwood doesn’t mislead in announcing that tonight’s set contains “music that is pretty much vintage”. Over a hugely enjoyable hour he revisits his past with the Spencer Davis Group (I’m A Man and Gimme Some Lovin’), Blind Faith (Can’t Find My Way Home and Had To Cry Today) and Traffic (The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys and Dear Mr Fantasy), dropping in the solo hit Higher Love. At 70 years old, the spirit is still willing and that famous blue-eyed soul voice is fully intact. An appearance at the Bluesfest in 2017 vindicated Donald Fagen’s decision to continue Steely Dan without Walter Becker. Unlike then, tonight there’s no reference to his former bandmate; Fagen simply lets the music do the talking. And what a loquacious evening this turned out to be. Now 71, the keyboard player leaves much of the heavy lifting to The Danettes, a trio of female backing singers, but his own delivery is more than passable and, swelled by a fourpiece horn section, the group’s fusion of blues, jazz, R&B, funk and 70s radio rock sounds sublime. There’s an extra treat when Winwood returns for Pretzel Logic and at encore time Elliott Randall joins in on Reelin’ In The Years, the 1972 gem that on record reportedly features Jimmy Page’s all-time favourite guitar solo. It’s simply jaw-dropping.
The Kris Barras Band / Buffalo Summer / Jack J Hutchinson
‘Tonight K ris Barras feels like a legit rock conte nder.’
London The Garage Stars of the new wave of classic rock draw crowds in the capital. In light of Greta Van Fleet’s recent column inches, one could risk overlooking the new rock’n’roll on our doorstep in the UK. Not that everyone’s overlooking it, as tonight’s packed Garage suggests… Jack J Hutchinson dresses like a man in love with Blackberry Smoke (spoiler: he is), but his blend of Southern warmth, affable banter and hirsute Zakk Wylde heaviness is very much his own. Next, Welsh rockers Buffalo Summer deal in heavier tunes than you’d expect from a band whose name screams ‘dulcet Southern fodder’ so flagrantly – with layers of dirty grunge adding protein to classic 70s tones. There’s a lot of love for Kris Barras, the MMA fighterturned-blues rocker who leaped from Ramblin’ Man’s Rising Stage in 2017 to fronting the Supersonic Blues Machine with Billy Gibbons last year. With his ‘I’m-nicebut-I-could-kill-you’ stance and Jon Bon Jovi pipes he’s a naturally intense presence. But he’s also loosened up with experience, galloping through Zeppelin’s Rock And Roll while punters sing his own songs back at him. Indeed, moving between Stevie Ray Vaughan-esque noodling, chunky rock, rootsy slide and soulful slower soloing (arguably his most interesting side, seen in Watching Over Me), Kris feels like a legit rock contender – not just another bluesy white dude with a guitar.
Southern w armth great hat: Ja , ck J Hutchinso n.
On the rise: Kris Barras.
Blue Öyster Cult/The Temperance Movement
Bishop Gunn / Xander And The Peace Pirates
London Eventim Apollo
London Boston Music Room
Doing the Dü with Sugar and spice.
Definitely an enchanted evening.
High-calibre blues rock.
Openers The Temperance Movement are not the band they were a year ago – and this is a real positive. They always had quality, but were previously rather parochial. Now there’s an obvious international class, and they win over a crowd who are initially polite but clearly excited by the end. Only Eric Bloom and Buck Dharma remain from Blue Öyster Cult’s classic line-up. And they could easily go through the motions, playing the same songs every night. But, as Bloom explains early on, that would be “just boring for us”. So they vary the set with each performance, and you can tell that the pair, along with the rest of the impressive quintet, love being on stage. From opener Dr. Music to final encore Cities On Flame With Rock And Roll, BÖC live up to their epithet as ‘The Thinking Man’s Metal Band’, without being at all pretentious. The band might not have their trademark visual spectacle of old, but so what? The music is what matters. This is especially true of the exhaustive virtuosity on Then Came The Last Days Of May, the Hanna Barbera humour of Godzilla, the melodic masterclass that is (Don’t Fear) The Reaper and, best of all, the grand guignol mockery of Joan Crawford. If anyone does leave without feeling exhilarated then, to paraphrase a BÖC lyric, the joke’s on them!
They might come from Liverpool, but Xander And The Peace Pirates have a sound straight from the heart of Mississippi, and their quality wins over those gathered to get a first glimpse of tonight’s headline band who genuinely hail from that part of the world. Bishop Gunn take inspiration from a wide range of sources. The Allman Brothers, Georgia Satellites, Humble Pie and Rival Sons all spring to mind, but what these chaps do is fuse all of this into a sharply focused and highly melodic style that transcends all influences. Songs such as Shine and Devil Is A Woman could easily get them mainstream interest, and frontman Travis McCready is a charismatic storyteller who has obvious connections in his delivery to Steve Marriott and Phil Lynott. You can even forgive his overt enthusiasm for travelling on a double decker London bus – bloody tourists, eh? The band do a fine job of covering That’s All Right Mama, most associated with Elvis, and Zeppelin’s What Is And What Should Never Be, before closing out with Hey Jude, with Xander (sans Peace Pirates) joining in the onstage fun – while McCready gets everyone chanting along to the classic Beatles refrain. Bishop Gunn prove here that they are going to be a major force in the next year or so. Arenas await!
Watching Bob Mould power his way through a set that spans almost 40 years – to touch upon his tenure with Hüsker Dü and Sugar, as well as his own lengthy solo career – is to be reminded of Lou Reed and Bob Dylan. Much like those other pioneers, Mould is a songwriter of influence and distinction given to sacrificing his innate melodic sensibilities once transposed to a live setting. Not that this comes as any surprise to seasoned followers of his output and activities, but it still fails to alleviate the pain of witnessing the mangling of If I Can’t Change Your Mind and Hoover Dam. But there’s still plenty to enjoy. Happier than he’s ever been, Mould and his well-drilled rhythm section of bassist Jason Narducy and drummer Jon Wurster play with a white-hot sense of purpose and conviction. As evidenced by the molten readings of The Descent and Thirty Dozen Roses, the trio invest the material recorded together with a palpable zest and sonic overload that proves irresistible. And with Mould comfortable within his skin, the revisiting of Hüsker Dü’s I Apologise and an explosive New Day Rising are a thrilling joy to behold. Mould’s sense of fun is infectious, not least in the sprightly Love Is All Around. A mixed bag, then, but when on-point Bob Mould is unbeatable.
London Camden Electric Ballroom
fter the best part of 50 years as the multi-tasking bassist, lead vocalist and keyboard player in the world’s biggest cult band, Geddy Lee finds it weird to think of himself as ‘that guy who used to be in Rush’. “It takes some getting used to,” he says. Three years since Rush ended with drummer Neil Peart’s retirement, Lee remains proud of the band’s legacy with classic albums such as 2112 and Moving Pictures, masterpieces of progressive hard rock. He also promises he’s “not done with music yet”. The soundtrack of his life is heavy on prog and The Who, yet lightened with a little cocktail jazz.
The Soundtrack Of My Life Rush frontman
GEDDY LEE on the records, artists and gigs that are of lasting significance to him.
THE FIRST MUSIC I REMEMBER HEARING As a teenager I worked weekends at my parents’ shop in a small town north of Toronto, and on the drive there the radio was always on. I remember Motown music playing – My Girl by The Temptations – and me drumming along on the dashboard, as we’ve all done in our lives.
THE FIRST SONG I PERFORMED LIVE When I was fourteen I auditioned for a band at a local high-school gym, and sang As Tears Go By – the Stones version of that song. I wasn’t very Jagger-esque, I had a much sweeter soprano voice.
THE BEST LIVE BAND I’VE SEEN Jethro Tull at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. I think it was on the Thick As A Brick tour. The show began with the house lights on and a bunch of people in overalls sweeping the stage. Gradually there were less people sweeping, and then, all of a sudden, one of them would pick up an instrument, and next thing you know it’s the guys from Tull launching into the show. For me that was the first band that combined incredible musicianship with complex songwriting, and they were funny. That influenced me a lot in the later years of Rush – that attitude of taking your music seriously but not taking yourself seriously.
THE ANTHEM It’s got to be Won’t Get Fooled Again by The Who. Maybe the greatest power chords ever recorded. Who invented the power chord? Probably Pete.
MY BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT Emerson, Lake & Palmer had a famously disappointing album, Love Beach. I was a huge ELP fan, but that one really furrowed my brow.
THE MOST UNDERRATED BAND OF ALL TIME The Tragically Hip, from Canada, had huge, godlike stature at home but nowhere else. They had this perfect blend of simple, twin-guitar rock’n’roll and very evocative, thought-provoking lyrics.
THE GREATEST ALBUM OF ALL TIME The Who, Who’s Next. That album embodies all the best things about rock’n’roll – great songwriting, great playing. Almost every tune is a classic.
THE BEST RECORD I’VE MADE I would say Clockwork Angels. It has that combination of songwriting and performance, all the things that go into a great record.
THE SINGER Jon Anderson had such a clear, beautiful voice that could be rock when it needed to be and soulful when it needed to be. As a young aspiring musician, I wanted to sing like that.
THE WORST RECORD I’VE MADE Immediately Caress Of Steel comes to mind. But I’ve met so many fans who love that record. And I think Presto disappointed a lot of fans. The songwriting was a little flat.
THE GUITAR HERO Interview: Paul Elliott
I was always a big fan of Clapton and Jimmy Page, but to me Jeff Beck had an extra-special something that makes him inimitable. His sound is so original and so moving. He remains a god of guitar. And of course I have many bass heroes, but Jack Bruce was my biggest influence. He was the first bass player I saw on stage that just wailed and was able to fill in the blanks in his three-piece band. I saw Cream in 1969 at Massey Hall in Toronto. That show was magical.
MY GUILTY PLEASURE Back in the day, I loved Simon And Garfunkel. For a rocker, that wasn’t very cool.
MY SATURDAY-NIGHT PARTY SONG Do I really seem like the Saturday-night party kind of guy? Jeez. But if I’m having a couple of glasses of wine with some friends I’ll play early Beatles – Paperback Writer, or anything off Rubber Soul or Revolver.
MY ‘IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE’ SONG
Pete Townshend. Hands-down the greatest writer of rock songs. Won’t Get Fooled Again, Behind Blue Eyes, Tommy… on and on and on. He was equally adept at writing beautiful melodies and hard rock. The full body of The Who, if you examine it against other artists in rock, I think you’d be hard pressed to find anybody as consistently brilliant as him.
I’d pick a little cocktail jazz, something by Bill Evans. That’s my current obsession. I’m trying to understand the depth of his catalogue.
THE SONG THAT MAKES ME CRY And You And I by Yes is so beautiful, especially when I listen to it now. The combination of nostalgia and pure sonic beauty is pretty moving.
THE SONG I WANT PLAYED AT MY FUNERAL
Why would I give a shit about that? They can play whatever the hell they want! Or maybe I’d have them play some Derek And Clive. The shock and horror of it would be fantastic.
“I have many bass heroes, but Jack Bruce was my biggest influence.”
Classic Rock - KISS