Andy Fairweather Low FLANG DANG

Andy Fairweather Low
Flang Dang
Last Music Company

Grown Up Pop Music Full of Danceable Melodies, Uber-hooks and Monster Riffs.

When I was about 14 I once bought an LP which had Amen Corner on one side and The Small Faces on the other and as my Record Collection was in its infancy, I played the Hell out of it!
Never a huge singles collector I also bought Andy Fairweather Low’s 45, Wide Eyed and Legless; and that’s probably where our paths ceased to cross until now.
In between I’ve seen him countless times as the gunslinger beside many household names in the music business; where he can play rhythm guitar as well as the best of them; and when necessary step back into the shadows to play ‘invisible lead guitar’ when the Star still can’t play guitar and sing at the same time (guesses on a postcard to the usual address).
Which all brings us to Flang Dang, Andy’s 12th or so album in a career dating back nearly 60 years!
Fairweather Low comes at you straight out of the gates with Waiting On The Up; a neat and tidy song about ‘still waiting for success’ which I presume to be ‘tongue in cheek’ and the poppy gait reminds me of any or all Nick Lowe songs; but with the addition of Andy’s distinctive vocals which haven’t changed a tiny bit since the mid 60’s.
Sometimes when I review albums I feel obliged to dance around the commerciality of what’s on offer; but here Andy Fairweather Low goes out of his way to create massive melodies that are eminently danceable and add them to uber-hooks and monster riffs on songs that need to be listened to as there are stories in there that will appeal to grown ups the world over.
Track #2 99 Ways is a perfect example as he sings of 99 Ways to ‘get it wrong’ and ‘only one way to get it right’ which is a great metaphor for life; in my humble opinion.
As I’ve alluded to; not all music we buy and listen to has to be ‘serious’ and ‘worthy’ …. don’t get me wrong; I’m a Music Snob and revel in such albums that sometimes need Poirot or Vera to unravel the mysteries therein; but sometimes I just crave music that is ….. fun, fun, fun; albeit with an occasional ‘message’ tucked away inside the lyrics; which is where Keep Your Faith, Looking Down and probably the dark around the edges, Somebody Wants My Soul come into play; yet you can still shimmy to them while doing the ironing (trust me on this *wink*).
Another oddity here is the way Andy Fairweather Low slips and slides seamlessly between genres without jarring styles; which is why the Skiffle beat of Too Many Friends still works although juxtaposed between the punchy swing of Keep Your Faith and the Bluebeat/Lovers Rock melody that pervades through Looking Down and all sound like close relations courtesy of Andy Fairweather Low’s singing.
I wish I had the vocabulary to describe Andy Fairweather Low’s singing style; but everything I try to use sounds ‘wrong’ and ‘critical’ …. so let’s go with ‘distinctive’ which it most certainly is; and really comes to the fore on the soulful Dark of Midnight and album closer, a melancholic shuffle called The End Of All Roads, which will bring a salty tear to the corner of your eye if you’re not careful.
Hmmmm ….. where to go for a Favourite Song; it’ll come as no surprise that Ska 67 is a prime contender, as it neatly mixes a traditional chunky riff with some guitar based melody which could be from the first Specials album and bizarrely Andy actually sounds authentic as sings like he was an Alpha Boys School alumni!
But; there’s another song that captured my attention the first day I played the album, and yesterday found myself subconsciously turning the volume up, in the car …. which must mean ‘something’ and that was Got Me a Party which shuffles along like a steam train; and the irony laden story itself typifies the ‘fun, fun, fun’ spirit of the whole album … so (for today anyway) this is my Favourite Song.

Released 7th April 2023 (although streaming has been available since February!)


The Nude Party RIDES ON

The Nude Party
Rides On
New West Records

60’s Garage Pop Meets 80’s Madchester in an Americana Diner.

From first receiving this album a month or so ago I’ve never not liked it, but generally not got my head around it …. until a couple of days ago, driving around the Northumberland countryside, with a full Spring sun in the sky and the first of the crocuses and snowdrops in bloom on the side of the road.
To all intents and purposes this is Summer Music chock full of melodies, choruses and a distinctive 60’s vibe … although I can’t think of a single group that they6 actually sound like .
This, their third album kicks out the jams with opening track Word Gets Around with singer Patton Magee rising above the signature ‘Twangy’ guitars and swirling organ like a young Paul Samwell Smith (The Yardbirds) and sets the scene for what is to follow.
I’m desperate not to drown in naming the influences that are behind these songs apart from saying I will be terribly disappointed if I saw Nude Party and at least one member wasn’t wearing a buckskin jacket and round sunglasses while others had geometrically styled fringes; and a couple of pairs of winklepickers wouldn’t go amiss either.
There’s a definitive sense of ‘cool’ that’s all pervading here; not least with Chery Red Boots, Tell ‘Em and coolest of all their cover of Dr John’s Somebody’s Trying to Hoodoo Me, and the warm dreamscape that they send out.
After 10 or 12 years on the road you can forgive having a bit of fun with their songs; after all this is the Entertainment Industry which brings me to Sold Out of Love and Midnight at Lafayette Park both drenched in that 60’s vibe I spoke of earlier and while still fitting into the overall sound that The Nude Party have; both are musical timebombs; suddenly catching you unawares no matter how many times you play the whole album.
To some degree Hey Monet fits into that scenario too but you won’t really bother listening to the lyrics as you will be too busy ‘cutting a rug’ in the kitchen whenever it comes on the player.
While there’s absolutely nothing not to like here, like me you will quickly discover songs that will feature on playlists of whatever hue; personally I’ve fallen in love with both the dark and wired Stately Prison Cell and the sparky Polly Anne, which I know know the words and phrasing to both.
Sitting today I’ve realised that not just is there a 60’s vibe here; but more than a hint of 80’s Brit Pop …. but the more cerebral Madchester end of that spectrum; which brings me neatly to my Favourite Song; Ride On which sort of encompasses all that is/was good in both of those amazing Music Scenes and then adds an Americana twist to proceedings …. which is a helluva an achievement!
For a self-produced album there’s still a lot going on these songs; they never select the ‘simple’ option and I can sense seeing them recreate these songs in a dingy club being one of the best gig experiences that I’d have all year and I can think of a few ‘name’ headline acts that could do a lot worse than choosing The Nude Party as a support act …. but they may not, for fear of ‘being blown off stage !

Released 10th March 2023



Dyer Davis
Dog Bites Back
Wildroots Records

Taking Blues Rock Back To The Future

WARNING! For regular readers of our reviews; DOG BITES BACK is a tad ‘heavier’ than what we regularly review in the Blues field …. but ….. WOWZA! It has knocked me for six!
At only 22 Davis has been in bands for 8 years; and what an apprenticeship he’s served; and coupled to his Father’s record collection of 60’s and 70’s Blues Rock ….. he’s gone into the studio with an album ‘oven ready’ inside his head.
I have to start with the album cover; which has Davis sporting a de-rigour ‘neck tatt’ shaved head and ZZ Topesque beard ….. but what piqued my interest was the Afghan coat ….. something I desperately wanted in my teenage years, and something my future was wearing on our first date.
I didn’t even have time to return to my office chair after pressing ‘play’ on the hi-fi before I was grinning and punching the air as the first few bars of Let Me Love You sprung from the speakers like a caged tiger being let loose! It took a couple of minutes for me to recognise it as it’s a Jeff Beck & Rod Stewart song from TRUTH …. and here I was listening on the day Jeff Beck died ….. serendipity or what?
WOWZA! To all intents and purposes this/was the music that helped shape my life in the early 1970’s; but the way Dyer sings and arranges his songs is pure 21st Century and sounds as fresh as those albums by Free, The Faces and Humble Pie did, way back when.
Dyer’s guitar playing on Train Wreck and the title track Dog Bites Back is right up there with Paul Kossoff and Ronnie Wood; totally understated but grizzly and dare I say it; sexy too; yet never over playing his hand and never threatening those ornery vocal performances.
Speaking of ‘vocal performances’ …. take a listen to the slow and broken hearted Cryin’ Shame and the evocative and rumbling Walk Away My Blues that show a young singer at the very top of his game as he enunciates every single word while sounding every inch the Rock Star.
Tucked away in the middle is a crackling slice of Swamp Rock too; Long Way To Go featuring Victor Wainwright who duets with Davis and plays some really funky piano; not just on this track but four or five others too.
On albums like this it’s all too easy to get lost in the music; but listen carefully to the piano led Angels Get The Blues and Wind Is Gonna Change or especially Don’t Tell My Mother (which sounds like a great lost Faces song btw) to hear whip smart lyrics that will find you nodding along with the sentiments therein.
There are aural highs and lows here from start to finish; creating an incredibly balanced set of songs; so for my Favourite Song I’m going to have to choose two; one a ‘pedal to the metal’ Rocker – Train Wreck, which features a brass section competing with the industrial rhythm section to be noticed in the background as Davis gives us his best Paul Rogers impersonation …. and the outcome is amazing.
The other, therefore has to be the Power Ballad Water Into Wine which is a great metaphor that will appeal to lovers the world over.
DOG BITES BACK closes with something of an autobiographical tale that will have plenty of listeners thinking AKA is about them too … which is quite a feet.
It’ll be all too easy for reviewers of my generation to get trapped in the ‘influences’ behind these songs …. but we aren’t the chosen demographic (although I’m now a fan and desperate to see this band play live) who will be under 30 and will play the ass out of these songs at home and/or on a more select jukebox in a bar somewhere on the dark side of town.

Released 17th February 2023



The Stayawakes
Dogs & Cats/Living Together
Kool Kat Musik

Feisty Punk Infused, Rocking and Rolling, Hook Filled Garage Music.

I still have no idea what really constitutes ‘Americana’; but surely there must be a place for feisty Punk infused, Rocking and Rolling, melody filled Garage music?
I’m going for it anyways; because this is too good for you to miss.
Originally released in 2018 on their own label; mostly to sell at gigs, this was picked up by Kool Kats Records following the success of the band’s previous (debut?) album Pop Dreams … so this is either/both The Stayawakes; from Southsea btw debut/second album all rolled into one.
You will know right from the git go as opening track, Slumbers gets the party rolling as well as rocking which sounds like Ramones influenced Barenaked Ladies song sung by Cheap Trick!
You won’t be.
The pace never slackens …. every track sounds like it should have a 1…2… 3 …GO! opening; even the slightly slower ones …. and by slower I mean 65 in a 45rpm zone! Or at least that’s how Jake, Overdue and Cursed all sound to me.
It’s not just the songs themselves that are fabulous; but I have to take time out to rave about the spectacular guitar playing by Peter Foulk who reminds me of a young Steve Marriott and/or even the recently departed Jeff Beck the way he plays right out there on the edge; making No Shame and the fabulous Zappaesque cacophony that is High School Weirdness too.
For the handful of people who bought the original release there’s an ‘added bonus’ of six additional tracks this time around; and not one sounds like ‘filler’!
The first of these; You Didn’t Have To Live Through This; sounds like it could have been on the Eddie and The Hot Rods first album; and now I think about it; so do Jake and Game of Pricks; which while probably not intentional …. now has political undertones IMHO.
The album; and the Bonus Tracks close out with two (relatively) mellower acoustic led songs; No Shame and Inevitable Truth; which both sound fabulous and definitely highlight the razor sharp songwriting throughout.
Yikes! For a Favourite Song I’m torn between a Bonus Track, When Your Heart Dreams of Spring with Foulks’s gutsy and totally ‘wired’ guitars barely leaving room for Andrew Ricks’ vocals; but the singer wins the fight in the end.
The other, Keepsakes is a more ’rounded affair’, but still punky and indeed Indie as you’d expect, with Rick’s pouring hos heart out in a song as the band give it their all behind him and not a single note is missed or wasted.

What a discovery this album has been; and the best way I can describe it to you is that if I was 17 or 18 and visiting my first festival and The Stayawakes came on in a small stage in a compact marquee …. they would become my new favourite band of all time.

PS I’ve given my copy to my 13 year old Granddaughter and she already loves it!

Released 20th January 2023



Little River Band
Ultimate Hits & Masterpieces

A Soundtrack To a Time of Fast Cars, Short Skirts, No Socks, Big Hair and …. No Worries!

WOW! This is a ‘blast from the past’ in many ways ….. not least because one of the first ‘freebies’ I ever received was a Cassette copy of their 1978 release SLEEPER CATCHER, which I got in a Goody Bag when I attended a Music Industry Fair alongside my mate who was a manager for FW Woolworth!
A lot of water and peroxide has flowed under the bridge for all of us since then; bringing us to this delightful and thoughtfully packaged release; coincidentally just in time for Christmas … isn’t that lucky?
Apart from that album 44 years ago; which I remember very little about, I know nothing about one of Australia’s foremost and groundbreaking bands, so this has been a journey of discovery.
The Triple Album/Double CD starts with an eight and a half minute opus called It’s A Long Way There and the harmonies are so lush you’d half imagine them to be sung by a host of Angels! A bit cinematic for my current liking; but once I’d took my socks off, rolled my jacket sleeves up and put my brain into Miami Vice mode I ‘got it’ and what follows made a lot more sense.
As I say I no nothing about Little River Band’s discography; so have to treat this as a whole new release; pretending it’s a soundtrack to some kind of 80’s themed Movie or TV show (cops of course!) from that period …. and doing that it’s been a bit of a blast.
I’m surprised how many of the 50+ songs stand up today; it’s almost as if the Punk Wars were all in vain.
On CD 1 Everyday of My Life, the chunkilicious It’s Not a Wonder and the atmospheric Down On the Border have quickly become RMHQ family favourites, especially when played loudish in the car on a long motorway journey recently.
On the same disc, it’s easily apparent from the strong and astute writing in You’re Driving Me Out Of My Mind (a personal favourite of Mrs Magpie it seems); the ballad Cool Change and Witchery why this band has stood the test of time.
CD 2 takes us on a slightly different journey; although the core band’s (Graeham Goble – guitar, vocals (1975–92), Glenn Shorrock – vocals (1975–82, 1987–96) Beeb Birtles – guitar, vocals (1975–83) and Derek Pellicci – drums (1975–84, 1987–98) ) still shines through, even with a variety of personnel changes including none other than John Farnham into the fold.
The difference tend to be in subject matter as much as it is the change from cinematic arrangements to something more Soft Rock …. which was a sign of the tomes of course.
Here we particularly like Broke Again, the punchy Just Say You Love Me and especially Sleepless Nights all of which would sound fabulous in either a concert hall or an arena.
The new ‘subject matter’ shines (if that’s the right word) on Don’t Let The Needle Win; which is sadly not about a tattoo addiction! There’s also a song here that amused me in a contrary way … the finely crafted Mistress Of Mine. I appreciate the sentiment and it really is a beautiful song; but how can a singer get up and sing that every night with his Missus in the audience?
I have tried desperately not to use the word ‘pretentious’ on a few songs here; but how else can you describe the wondrous Hard Life (Prelude) which precedes the Floydian Hard Life? But …. these songs were recorded decades ago and were exactly what the majority of the paying public wanted to hear ….. it didn’t do Queen or Fleetwood Mac any harm, did it?
As the songs come and go; you can hear how the band progress, in the nicest way …. which comes to the fore on Blind Eyes and I Know It (live) which must have been mind-blowing when they first came out.
With so much to choose from it’s been something of a sensory overload for me; especially as I haven’t listened to songs and albums like this in any shape or form this century.
But, I have enjoyed the whole package; not as much as Mrs Magpie it has to be said ….. so I’ve passed it over to her to select a Favourite Song …. on each disc.
On CD #1 she has chosen The Night Owls… which was a surprise, very much a ‘Big Hair’ Soft Rocker; but with hindsight I guess she was thinking of me as the main character in the song, but won’t admit it.
On CD #2 she went for the straight up Retro-Rocker Just Say That You Love Me ; another surprise from a woman full of surprises; but that’s the joy of discovering new music …. it’s always full of surprises.

Released 9th December 2022



Andrew Cushin
You’ll Be Free/Dream For a Moment
Strap Originals

More than most musicians, the Pandemic and associated lockdowns affected Newcastle singer-songwriter more than most; as the momentum he was building up, courtesy of Popstar chums like Noel Gallagher and Sam Fender; stopped quicker than a stolen Golf GTI going over a police stinger!
But; like everyone else he did use the time at home productively; and here’s his latest Double A-Sided single to show for it, which is released at the end of a pretty much sold out, first headlining UK Tour.
You’ll Be Free will probably came as a bit of a surprise; being a breathless, piano driven ballad …. but full of Cushin’s trademark angst and melodrama; yet veering more towards ELBOW territory than either Noel or Sam.
Although the windswept orchestral sweeps and swoops in the background are new to me; t’other side of the single; Dream For a Moment is another leap into the future. It could be my imagination, but his voice sounds ‘fuller’ and perhaps more ‘mature’ than when I last played his music …. and, even though I loved his ‘Geordie Twang’; now moving slightly off centre will certainly make it easier for him to attract mainstream radio attention with these two songs.

Released 21 October 2022

Sarah Shook at Jumpin’ Hot Club, The Cluny Newcastle

Sarah Shook
Jumpin’ Hot Club
The Cluny

Friday 26th August 2022

After a while you forget when you first heard an act; they just seem to be an integral part of your life; so it was a bit of a shock (#groan) to find it was 2017 when I first reviewed Sarah Shook’s SIDELONG album when Bloodshot Records re-packaged and released it to an unsuspecting world.
Roughly the same time, Shipcote from Newcastle’s premier Roots Promoters the Jumpin’ Hot Club came back from SXSW raving about a young singer called Sarah Shook he’d seen one afternoon at Bloodshot’s infamous Yarddog gigs; and how he’d left his details for when she was going to tour UK and Europe.
Nothing happened for two years then e-mails and contracts were exchanged for a UK Tour …. only for Covid to stop it in its tracks… TWICE!
That out of the way Sarah hit the UK earlier this week like a runaway train, blowing fans, old and new totally away …. including several of my more ‘hard to impress’ friends.
Although the gig itself was officially Sold Out, there were about 30 people in Cluny 2 when local support act Holly Rees started their set; and after 40 minutes of their Punky/Garagey/Grungey hybrid, the crowd had probably trebled, and seemed in particularly good spirits cheering every song from the young trio as if they were headlining.
While a tad too ‘noisy’ for my delicate ears; I was impressed with a couple of songs, Careless and Getting By (with choreographed audience handclaps) that a good producer could really get the best out of.
As the Disarmers nervously made their way onto the stage Cluny 2 was totally full with barely a two feet gap between the front row and the stage (I was here camera in hand for two songs then made my way upstairs ….. for my ears’ protection!)
With no introduction and barely a nod between the band members all night, they went full tilt into the crunchy Good as Gold, which came and went in barely two minutes.
This was the template for the evening ….. very, very little chit chat …… ‘less talk more music’ (where have you heard that before Pop Pickers?) and the music was quite phenomenal.
Since Shipcote and I first heard and fell in love with Sarah Shook barely 5 years ago; her music has evolved beyond belief; and tonight’s 22 songs (TWENTY TWO!) in barely 90 minutes was a veritable Best Of, with songs coming from all three albums; some I recognised, while others (even some of the older ones) were now arranged so much they too sounded like exciting new songs.
As the gig progressed, I was transported back to the late 70’s Punk gigs and later in the early 80’s the Mod Revival gigs I attended; tonight was sweaty, noisy and adrenaline fun filled from start to finish.
Talking To Myself and Been Loving Youfrom Nightroamer were both outstanding; sounding like the Go Go’s on steroids; Parting Words from Years and Sidelong were both cranked up to be virtually unrecognisable from the original versions ….. but worth the entrance fee themselves.
In many ways tonight’s gig wasn’t about individual songs; it was more about ‘being there.’ My notes are certainly in that vein ….. “all lean and sinewy no – fat or flab anywhere” elsewhere I describe the band as being ‘a bar band in Ozark or Breaking Bad that get talked into joining the bad guys by transporting their wares over State Lines in drum cases;’ with that in mind Sarah looks like the ‘brains’ of the operation, with the other members being her older brothers who would kill you in the blink of an eye.
The word that got used in conversations earlier in the week and again tonight on the way out was ‘tight’ …. as in ; “the band were the tightest I’ve seen in years” …. and they most certainly were.
As I said earlier, there was next to no chit chat, and as I have a copy of the set list there were 5 handwritten changes; telling you these guys know their licks without playing the same songs over and over again, night after night.
24 Hours later I’m still not 100% sure how to describe Sarah Shook & The Disarmers’ ‘sound’ …. there’s still plenty of Insurgent Country in there of course; but this is such a complicated and clever mix I was lost until this morning I read a Tweet from @AlanMuttley1066 …. “Doc Martens & Cowboy Boots …Country with a (Punk) Attitude.”
I can’t disagree …. but tonight’s finale was a 7 minute Pink Floydian odyssey that went way beyond Prog, with everyone; including the pedal-steel player getting the opportunity for a short and sharp solo …. that again; was totally mind-blowing.

The Vandoliers at Jumpin’ Hot Club, The Cluny, Newcastle

The Vandoliers
Jumpin’ Hot Club
The Cluny

Thursday 7th July 2022

It’s well documented now that my gig going days are becoming fewer and further between; especially midweek. My theory is that ‘reviewing’ these nights is what has took the excitement away; standing scribbling notes as the crowd around you are totally engrossed really does take away some of the magic.
So it was a tad of a mental struggle to go out the door tonight; even though I’d been waiting expectantly for over two years since the original gig was meant to take place.
Cluny II is a compact venue in a basement on the hottest night of the year; and thankfully was only about half full/empty (although I really should be criticising the ‘stay aways’) allowing breathing space for each spectator.
Opening the show were local girls Phoebe and Phillipa who regaled us with some delightful Bluegrass/Hill Country music that belied their youth.
Phoebe played same majestic acoustic guitar, sang a couple of songs and mostly provided heartstopping harmonies for Phillipa who gave a Masterclass in Country fiddle playing as well as telling the stories behind the songs that she sang with gusto and class.
As expected their set was only thirty minutes long; but was surprisingly full to the gunwalls with goodness. Personally I only recognised one song; Easy Chair; but noted that Deep River Blues, Squirrel Hunters and Red Rocking Chair were all worthy of 3 Stars, which is as good as it gets in my book.
I got the feeling that this is something of a hobby for the girls; but I’ve paid a lot more money and travelled a long way for acts half as good ….. I think that they are onto ‘something’ so if any Festival promoters are reading …. get on board ASAP.
After a 30 minute break where I met up with friends I hadn’t seen since Covid became trendy; the six Vandoliers made their way onto the cramped stage, and without very little in the way of introduction launched straight into a song I didn’t recognise; but was so full of swagger and bravado, sensitive fans may have feared for their lives …. but the rest roared their combined approval at the end.
Singer Josh Fleming then announced that much to people’s expectations The Vandoliers aren’t a ‘Country Band’ …. they are a ‘Noisy Band!’
The second part was certainly correct as the night progressed; but in the way Jason and The Scorchers, The Waco Brothers and every combination Dan Baird has ever concocted; they most certainly ARE Country …. but Cow Punk infused Insurgent Country …. IMHO.
This was followed by 16; which allowed fiddle player Travis Curry several opportunities to shine and shine he most definitely did!
Already I noted ‘you can’t take your eyes off Fleming’ …. and you can’t; although he never upstaged his colleagues while they were in the spotlight ….. the guy just can’t stand still for a moment.
For once I managed to combine note taking with enjoying the show ….. the new single; Bless Your Drunken Heart was dedicated to ‘Tommy’ as he was wearing a Bloodshot work shirt; and I wrote ‘Putting the Punk into the heart of Country Rock‘ …. today I’m not sure what that means; but it’s true!
Then Bluebonnet Highway …. ‘if the Pogues had been Texan.
Something else I wrote may come back to haunt me; but I believe this to be 100% true …. “professionally sloppy/ they never miss a note or beat/Just like the Faces‘ honestly; you watch them and think ‘I could do that’ …. but listen carefully those songs on every levey are highly intricate and articulate ….. don’t be misled; The Vandoliers are exceptionally good at what they do; but add fun, fun, fun to the mix to create a brilliant night out.
On that point; Fleming calmed the masses to explain what the following song, Simon Says, was about ….. ‘Partner abuse’ and when you knew that and actually listened to the words he was singing as if his life depended on it; the song was worth every single one of my 3 stars.
I liked his self-deprecating stories; not least Wild Fire, which was one of their earliest singles and he had personally handed it to a DJ on a local Ft Worth radio station; only for them to tell him “It’s not Country enough!
“Damn Right!” was his response and it isn’t but ….. it’s still one helluva song!
I couldn’t keep up with the songs as they came and went at 100mph, so I can’t tell you every song they played ….. and the set list a purloined appears to written in code; so was little help this morning!
What I did scribble down was that Cigarettes In The Rain was ‘fabulous‘ and Fleming insisted everyone sang the chorus …. and we did, with gusto.
Miles and Miles (?) was ‘fiddlacious‘ and was ‘The Clash with a fiddle and Mariachi trumpet;’ which sounds silly in the cold light of day …. but was the only way I could describe the song at the time.
Even when he wasn’t playing his fiddle; Travis Curry was a one man dance troupe in the background, acting out the story for the hard of hearing perhaps.
By the time the gig rocketed to a close; drummer Trey Alfaro had long since discarded his t-shirt and half way through Every Saturday Night Cory Graves despatched his in-between trumpet solos!
Then as Fleming thanked everyone (for the 7th time?) Fiddle player Curry decided to remove his own colourful shirt; which sent the females in the crowd crazy!
That song was the Proclaimers 500 Miles; which was so full of adrenaline tonight it took a mighty lurch into the golden garden of Country Rock and will stay there forever.
As I packed my camera bag, the merch table was doing a roaring trade with Vinyl and koozies, which were pretty much all that was left after a hugely successful UK Tour.
Now I must wait patiently for the August release of the new album; and hopefully another tour to support it before Santa Claus comes.


Marc Valentine
Future Obscure
Arcane Wires Records

The Second Wave of New Wave and a Bit of Post-Punk Too.

First and foremost, this is a bit left of leftfield for what we normally review; but I’ve had a blast over the last couple of days playing this in the car ….. sometimes Post Punk/New Wave really is the answer!
It was really only going to be a quick ‘courtesy listen’ but the crashing guitars that kick start Last Train Tonight grabbed me by the short and curlies; and didn’t let go until Mark Valentine’s Buzzcockian vocals had finally filtered out of the speakers via closing song the Twang Meets Punk in a Manchester back lane on a Wednesday night infused Electric Chains!
There are plenty of other influences dotted around FUTURE OBSCURE; but the nasally/drole way he sings will bring The Buzzcocks to mind for everyone who hears them ….. and that’s a huge compliment.
The songs and intense guitar work throughout are seriously ‘intelligent’ and ‘articulate’ ….. but always with melodies and hooks to die for.
On Mornington Avenue the pace really picks up with three electric guitars battling for prominence; but the winner will always be Valentine and his darkly witty words; that are as crystal clear as you’d hope.
There really is so much to like here; especially if you lived through the first wave of Post Punk and/or New Wave back in the early 80’s, like what I did ….. songs like Break My Heart Anyway, the moody Broken Satellites and Ghosts of Amsterdam too; but the CBGB’s influenced Zodiac Hotel will all have you turning the volume up in the car as you relive your sweaty youth on the way a business meeting somewhere drab.
Although the might be from personal experiences; I really think that Marc Valentine has an amazing imagination; which shines like a Glitterball on Swiss Launderette and the exceptional Linear Slopes too.
‘Back in the day’ each and every song here could and should have been a 45RPM single; but those days are now in the mists of time; but that won’t stop me choosing my Favourite Song with that medium in mind ….. Fade Out In Blue is a mind bending 3 minutes and 40 seconds that will certainly appeal to anyone still hanging on to their wedge/flick haircuts and pastel sweaters in 2022; whereas Death is Overrated dabbles in that traumatic cusp between Joy Division and the nascent New Order that will make your eyes wobble the first time you play it; and like those cherished 45’s I mentioned earlier ….. having you pressing ‘repeat’ on your iPhone until the kids finally make you put some Ed Sheeran on to cheer the partygoers up.
Even with a couple of dark and deep miserable songs; FUTURE OBSCURE has been a real ‘blast from the past’ and one Hell of a pleasant surprise for me and I hope thousands more out there; but don’t be surprised when your teenage offspring download it and demand you play it on the car stereo while transporting them to school/college.

Released July 8th 2022



Billy Hector
Rock Night in Jersey
Ghetto Surf Music

Bodacious Blues Rock That Errs on The Side of R.O.C.K …. But is Only a 5 or 6 on The Richter Scale!

I first uncovered Billy Hector two albums ago with his OLD SCHOOL THANG release in 2015; and if pulling them out of the cupboard for accompaniment on long car drives makes me a fan; then …. I’m a fan!
Two things I need to tell you before I go any further; a) Billy used to be Hubert Sumlin’s tour guitarist and b) While this is Blues Rock music that errs on the side of R.O.C.K …. it’s only a 5 or 6 on the Richter Scale; which is all I can cope with these days.
The magnificent I Know How To Party gets the show on the metaphorical road; with Billy and cohorts showing the kids how to ‘do it’ both in deed and music.
This is followed by the slow burning She Don’t Love Him Anymore, which leads into some glorious slide-work from the Maestro that will live in the memory long after the album has been replaced by his next release.
There’s a ‘slick cool’ to many of the songs here; and I’m pleased to tell you that the songs themselves take precedence; and the intricate and even revolutionary at times; fretwork and super-pro backing, take a secondary position; regardless of how good it is …. and it’s Damn Good BTW.
Too many ‘famous’ guitarists these days concentrate on guitar fireworks; forgetting that the words in their songs are just as; if not more important than their technical showing off …. which certainly isn’t the case with Billy’s writing on and in Doctor, Doctor and the funkalicious Lazy Man which has a groove so good, Mrs Magpie looked on in disbelief as I boogied around the kitchen to it one night!
There also two covers here too; and while I didn’t recognise either, the choices really are exemplary; Hector does to Leadbelly’s Poor Howard what the Cream did to Crossroads 50 years ago; and the other is actually one of my favourite songs here; France Chance which features some genuinely sizzling guitar work and industrial style powerhouse backing from Sim Cain and Wilbo Wright was actually written by Mississippi Joe Callicott in 1967 on a long forgotten album of his own, that sounds nothing at all like this. I have no idea how a musician can hear Folk Songs like these; and then turn the words and melody into pumping Rockers ….. it’s witchcraft methinks!
Speaking of Favourite Tracks here, I’ve eventually narrowed it down to three (not including France Chance); with the horn section turned up to 8; the slinky Tell Me What You Want has a big band feel to it, with hints of both BB and Freddie King in there too; then there’s the feisty Ms Martha where Billy not just growls his vocals but makes his Strat growl too!
Which only leaves the actual winner; Rockstar Betty, which I fell in love with the first time I played it. More laid back than most songs here; but the bodacious story and supercool refrain; made it an obvious choice, even though the others ran a very close race.
I hear quite a few albums ‘like this’ every year, but there’s ‘something special’ about Billy Hector’s way with words and geetar playing that appeals to me over many more ‘famous names’ on the circuit these days ….. and I can only hope against hope that he visits NE UK sometime soon …. as the audience is ready and waiting.

Released April 2022