Garage Meets Power Pop and Begets Punk ….. PLAY BLOODY LOUD!
“BERKELEY, Calif. — On November 2, 1976, Jimmy Carter was elected President of the United States. The events of November 3 were less earth-shaking, although it was the day the power pop pioneers The Rubinoos recorded this album. The group walked into CBS Studios on Folsom Street in San Francisco to, as band co-founder and singer Jon Rubin recollects, “have a ‘set up and get comfortable in the studio’ kind of affair.”
…….and, to some extent that’s what you get …… a Garage Band of young fearless musicians without a care in the world; or more importantly ‘Hit Records’ in the forefront of their mind. All first takes; this in many ways is a Live Recording and to my ears; the forerunner of many Punk album that would follow in the next few years. The only thing that would make opening track All Excited any better would be if the drummer counted everybody in ….. “1,2, 3 ….hit it!” The following couple of minutes is very much ‘of its time’ as is the album itself; mid 70’s Power Pop with edges so rough and ready they all become timeless …. and certainly haven’t dated as much as many of what their peers would record in the next 12 months. That track is one of only three self-penned songs here; and all three sit very comfortably alongside the myriad of cover songs that the Rubinoos put their very own twist on. If I’d had a band in 1976 it’s quite conceivable that I would have insisted the Archies’ Sugar Sugar and my two favourite Beatles songs; She Loves You and I Want To Hold Your Hand were included in the set list; just like Jon Rubin did; but I wouldn’t have had the wit or imagination to have the Funk Classics, King Curtis’ Memphis Soul Strut and The Meters Cissy Strut in the mix too; as both only entered my collection ten or more years later ….. and here The Rubinoos certainly do justice to and show what great musicians they were at such a tender age. For a Favourite Track I very nearly went for the Surf Instrumental Walk, Don’t Run …… but that’s because I’m re-discovering that much neglected sub-genre; which leaves a coin toss between Heartbeat, It’s a Love Beat (DeFranco Family? No; me neither) which has melodies and a chorus that sounds like The Adverts covering The Osmonds! T’other is a Rubinoos original; and a song that blew my metaphorical socks off ……. I Want Her, So Bad …… a genuine contender for the very first Punk Rock song (although there are other contenders) and one I’ve subsequently totally fallin in love with. The all too short album comes to a close with a Jonathan Richmond Song; Government Song done absolutely straight and possibly the one song here that actually is a forerunner to the fun time edgy Power Pop that The Rubinoos became famous for; but everything that precedes it; warts ‘n all, has to be there too to create the magic; doesn’t it? Four weeks ago I had absolutely no idea what to expect; as I’m particularly suspicious of ‘previously unreleased albums;’ but 2021 is probably a case of ‘right place/right time’ for The Rubinoos to take over your car stereo for the second time as you re-live your youth and scare the bejaysus out of your kids and Grandkids ……. PLAY LOUD and PLAY OFTEN!
STONE THE CROWS (REP UK 1392) ODE TO JOHN LAW (REP UK 1397) TEENAGE LICKS (REP UK 1395) ONTINUOUS PERFORMANCE (REP UK 1400) MAGGIE BELL: QUEEN OF THE NIGHT (REP UK 1398) SUICIDE SAL (REP UK 1399)
I’ve been a fan of Maggie Bell since the night her I saw her with Stone the Crows on OGWT as a teenager; though sadly I only ever owned second hand copies of her Suicide Sal and the Best Of LP’s; which is why these re-releases have so excited me ….. even though I haven’t heard them yet. All I can do tonight is pass on the info from the Press Release and wait patiently for my review copies to arrive….
Stone The Crows released their self-titled debut album in 1970, and featured the impressive guitar talent of Les Harvey, younger brother of the great Alex Harvey. Also in the band was bass player / vocalist Jim Dewar, who would go on to be a stalwart of the Robin Trower powerhouse trio of the mid-seventies, and also drummer Colin Allen, a former member of Zoot Money Big Roll Band. The band were managed by the formidable Peter Grant, who also managed Led Zeppelin, and under his guidance Stone The Crows made solid progress through their four album tenure on Polydor Records. However, tragedy struck the band when Harvey was fatally electrocuted onstage at Swansea University in May 1972. His replacement on guitar was the mercurial, diminutive Jimmy McCullough, formerly of Thunderclap Newman, who would go on to join Wings, with Paul McCartney. McCullough completed the recordings for their final album, ‘Ontinuous Performance, before the band split for good in 1973.
After the split, Maggie Bell commenced a solo career. After recording two solo albums which were unreleased, she eventually released her first solo foray, Queen of the Night, in 1974. She followed this with the sparkling Suicide Sal in 1975 (recorded at Startling Studios – owned by Ringo Starr, and featuring guest slots from Phil May (The Pretty Things), Jimmy Page and Pete Wingfield) both of which were released on the Swan Song label, which was owned by Led Zeppelin and Peter Grant. Despite good reviews and extensive touring, the albums failed to sell, and Bell would go on to front the band Midnight Flyer, again under Grant’s management.
Maggie Bell would later achieve a greater profile as the vocalist on ‘No Mean City’, the theme from the long-running ITV detective series Taggart.
Maggie Bell still tours and performs regularly (Lockdown permitting!) in the UK and Europe.
Ashleigh Flynn & The Riveters Live From The Blue Moon Home Perm Records
A Live Set That Leaps Out of the Speakers and Grabs Your Attention from the Git Go.
If you -like many of us, have been missing live music of late, then Ashleigh Flynn & The Riveters has a special treat for you. Recorded live on the Blue Moon Stage at the Oregon Country Fair during the summer of 2019, this set of country and Americana tunes literally leaps out of the speakers and grabs your attention from the git go. Ashleigh Flynn and The Riveters initially formed in 2018, releasing a fantastic debut album, and this live set is full of songs from that album as well as a few fun others and definitely bears repeated listens. Guitarist Nancy Luca, some wonderfully fun accordion by Jenny Conlee, a tight rhythm section in bassist Carmen Paradise and drummer Jolie Clausen, and backing vocalist Samantha Montanaro all perform with Rock ‘n’ Roll abandon; while staying true to the Alt-Country formula of Flynn’s songs and a couple of well chosen covers. Check out the first track; “How the West Was Won,” which retells all of those Cowboy tales from a more feminine point of view, and “Fly Away” which is pop country sweetness to die for! There’s even a Jump ‘n Jiving Country Stomp on “Deep River Hollow” (which also has some sweet harmonies!) and their lively cover of Buck Owens’ “Tiger by the Tail,” sounds like they are really ripping up the stage. “Big Hat, No Cattle” has a deceptively light-hearted approach while it skewers most likely a third of the audience that was probably in attendance the day it was recorded. Fearlessness is a true sign of a great songwriter, and Flynn delivers in spades; while her top-notch band takes no prisoners at all. You can call this music Country, Americana, or whatever you want, but the way the guitars bite, the drums pound, and the bass drives, I will say that this is some of the finest Rocking ‘n’ Rolling ensemble playing I’ve heard since the New York band Girls on Grass. Add to that some delicious accordion and fun and catty background vocals and this whole 45 minute set goes by way too fast. Ending the set is an exciting rave up of the Tom Petty classic “American Girl,” right after which Flynn ends the show by telling the crowd to come see them later ” …on the main stage!” and I guarantee if I was there I would have helped the band set up just to speed the act along, ready for more.
Review by the Legendary Roy Peak Released May 18th 2021
British R&B at Its Magnificent Best …… and Still Rocking Today!
To some degree I could (and plenty will) have written this review without ever receiving the actual Double CD. Why? I am unashamedly a Dr Feelgood fan ……. wearing a tour t-shirt and drinking copious amounts of strong coffee from my Down by The Jetty mug as I type ….. just to keep the ‘vibe’ going. But; just for you dear reader, I have sacrificed several precious hours over the last month listening to this latest package from one of Britain’s greatest and under-rated bands just so I can give you my honest thoughts … from 2021. SPOILER ALERT; there’s obviously nothing here not to like, especially for fans ….. but I may query the sequencing and running order; which is why I thought She Does It Right a strange choice to start the 41 tracks with ….. but 45 seconds in; I re-booted, thinking ‘why the Hell not? It’s a belter!’ and it is. That’s the thing with Feelgood’s songs; there’s not a bad one, is there? OK, naysayers will point to their ‘formula’ but Hell’s Teeth man …… it works doesn’t it? And …. it worked for Muddy, Wolf, Hooker and of course Chuck Berry who all had a hand in this type of heady Rhythm and Blues music. ‘Greatest Hits’ may be a bit of a stretch; as even their most famous and memorable singles hardly dented the Pop Charts with Milk & Alcohol hitting #9 and Roxette and Back in the Night not even going Top 75! But; to the likes of me and presumably you, Sneakin’ Suspicion, Hunting, Shooting, Fishing, Baby Jane and No Mo Do Yakamo are ‘Hits’ as I can sing every word and know where every break comes. The joy for me though has been rediscovering old gems from albums that are long forgotten …….. Shotgun Blues? WOW! Violent Love? You couldn’t release that today …… but it’s still a belter. Mad Man Blues? Double WOW! There are plenty of surprises here too; I’d forgot (I’m not even sure I’d realised) how diverse their output was; especially in the early days. I Can Tell and especially the B-Side Keep it Out of Sight show a subtlety oft forgot. Personally I stopped buying albums and even seeing the band after Lee Brilleaux died; so it’s been enlightening hearing the ‘new band’ (does being 37 years old still constitute ‘new’?) on the last third of the selection; starting with Dave Bronze growling Sugar Turns to Alcohol straight through the rifftastic Instinct to Survive, when singer Pete Gage more than holds his own in front of the Feelgood’s microphone; and his/their take on JB Lenoir’s Gimmie One More Shot is good enough on its own to keep the flame burning. Even though Roxette and Back in The Night are both in my Top 20 songs of all time, and all of the singles from the bands first ten years merit being My Favourite Track here; I’ve decided to be contentious and go for a toss up between a song I’d forgot about and another I can’t actually remember. The first is Jumping From Love to Love which borders on Heavy Rock, but never loses the bands trademark R&B swing and boy does it swing as Sparko’s bass shakes the rafters; and the other comes from the latter days, King For a Day (a live recording here, but originally from Stupidity) which shows what a brilliant, yet diverse band Dr. Feelgood could be and were well worthy of the accolade Kings of Pub Rock! Obviously fans of all persuasions will buy this because it is what it is; but I urge you to buy this for the younger music fans in your family; you know …. the one with the Stones or Ramones t-shirt they bought from Primark; you will most likely change their lives in a heartbeat.
As we are basically an Albums site; I’ve never known what to do with all of the singles we get sent …… but every now and again one stands out so much I can’t stop myself screaming about it to you crazy kids! Although I’ve never actually seen them, I’m 100% convinced that Uncle Brent and the Nostone are the Best Bar Band in all of Texas and here, with The River, they’ve not just changed direction but raised the bar for Bar Bands the world over!
RMHQ Radio Show Jumpin’ Hot Club 35th Anniversary Special Pts #1 & 2
Bringin’ the Jive Since ’85
35 years ago this week in 1985 two young men. Graham Anderson and Adam Collerton booked their first act for the Jumpin’ Hot Club; and now in 2021 they are still announcing gigs from new and ground breaking Roots Acts in 2021.
The list of acts they’ve brought to the North East of England just goes on and on; with many household names in the Roots World making their first tentative steps into Europe courtesy of this nomadic club.
As a very minor cog over the last twenty years I’m proud to bring you two one hours shows highlighting the diversity of acts, if not an actual Best Of …….
Time is flying by; it’s the end of February and just as we can see light at the end of the Covid Tunnel here’s the 9th edition of the Rocking Magpie Music Hour. Plenty of brand new songs of course but some Classic and not so Classic oldies too; and this week’s Gateway Album; courtesy Robert Connolly Farr features not one but TWO wonderful songs from one artist in two legendary bands! The closing track this week comes from Kinky Friedman ….. his version of Lee Marvin’s (I was born under a) Wanderin’ Star; a song I played over and over again deeop into the night after my prostate operation; 6 years ago.
Grand Nationals (Bill Meyer) NEW OLD STOCK Self-Release
Second Time Around Songs For Second Time Around Love
Sometimes it takes a couple of plays/listens to ‘get’ a band; and that’s what happened here, with the Grand Nationals re-recording of their back catalogue for the Digital Age. Obviously I don’t know the original songs, as the band and in particular Bill Meyer reside and play in and around the Bay Area of San Francisco and I live in NE England ….. but good music knows no boundaries and Bill thought I might like what I heard. He was right. Opening track, Lucky is a cool as you like, swoonsome love song that comes across as a Bob Seger/Tom Petty hybrid with a chorus and backing singers that many Headline Acts would give their eye-teeth to have in their set list. To some greater or lesser degree; and I could be wrong here, but most of these songs will really appeal to guys (mostly) back on the *dating scene after a long time out of the ‘game.’ We all grew up listening to Teen Love Songs, and that’s what makes up Classic Rock/Magic/ FM etc; but we move on; but sometimes need a familiar story and groove; and with more mature themes; which is where bands like the Grand Nationals come in on a Monday or Tuesday night; giving second-time around romance, a soundtrack. Got You In Mind, We Ain’t Giving Up (on Love) and Funny That Way all make perfect sense when you hear them and imagine them in that scenario IMHO. Meyer’s voice certainly has that ‘world weary’ almost ‘lived in’ sensibility; but while he sounds like has been around the block and had his downfalls; there’s a rasp when he pours his heart into He Would Have Felt The Same and the rather delightful Diamond Dust that tells us he hasn’t given up and will always see light at the end of the tunnel. Then of course there is the song that stands out above all others; still with a Petty/Seger vibe; but the horns on Heaven Only Knows and the longing in Meyer’s voice sound like a leftover from a Boz Scaggs session that is getting a new lease of life. Even if you are in a long and loving relationship, like what I am …… or even a lady who appreciates Classy and Classic AOR Music; this little beauty is for you too, as there are plenty of songs here that will suit your discerning tastes too.
*This theory came to me because a good friend is a salesman in the fashion trade; and once took on a shirt brand that was very colourful and, at the time had fancy ‘double colours’ ……. Andy couldn’t reason why they were so popular; until a customer explained that the customers buying them were men ‘of a certain age,’ who still felt the need to dress up for a date; unlike the younger men who barely had a shower. Plus these ‘dates’ were invariably mid-week as both parties would have child care issues on a weekend!
Just when I thought I couldn’t get more excited about music; the Music Hour is really becoming a thrilling rollercoaster ….. trying to fit 12 – 14 songs into a 1 hour programme ….. so much great music; so little time! This week there’s a classic Dr Feelgood track because they have a retrospective coming out at the end of March; this slickly links into a band from just down the road, The False Poets who genuinely are the one band I’m excited about seeing this year. Last week we introduced you to Lisa Gains and she sent us her new single; plus someone in Ireland heard the programme and sent us an album by a singer-songwriter called; enigmatically A. Smyth ….. trust me ….. it’s a diamond! Our Emily Zuzik Gateway song spurred Bobbo Byrnes to get in touch to say he was a friend of hers and they regularly play a Songwriter Night hosted by someone called Michael Ubaldini ….. who coincidentally I had reviewed many years ago and had only unearthed an album of two days previous;y! This week’s Gateway Song comes from Dean Owens; and while I like to keep that a ‘mystery’ …… it’s a singer I’ve loved for 50 years! This week we end with something a bit leftfield; Billy Bob Thornton! Yup ….. that Billy Bob Thornton; and it’s great , from a CD I bought in a second-hand record shop in Dublin many years ago.