This month we’ve been lis­ten­ing to...

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Var­i­ous Artists The Lon­don Amer­i­can La­bel Year by Year – 1966 (Ace)

Part of an on­go­ing CD se­ries cov­er­ing the ex­ten­sive cat­a­logue of re­leases on the UK Lon­don Amer­i­can la­bel, com­piled by Tony Rounce. It’s clear 1966 was a par­tic­u­larly fine vin­tage; not only did Eng­land win the foot­ball world cup, also there was a plethora of gems is­sued by among oth­ers Lon­don Amer­i­can records. The cream of them, 28 in all, are fea­tured on this com­pi­la­tion. A mix of soul, pop and rock n roll in­clud­ing the ul­tra rare (on UK Lon­don is­sue) Dar­rell Banks, Open the Door To your Heart, along­side Dar­row Fletcher The Pain Gets A Lit­tle Bit Deeper, Amer­i­can Po­ets She Blew a Good Thing and Gene Vin­cent Bird Dog­gin'. All in all a great mu­si­cal snap­shot of 1966 cour­tesy of UK Lon­don Amer­i­can.

The Royal Hang­men Hell Yeah! (CopaseDisques)

Hav­ing re­leased their de­but LP in 2012, Zurich’s Royal Hang­men release their lat­est four-track EP, pay­ing trib­ute to the first batch of ‘garage re­vival­ists’ by cov­er­ing the Ch­ester­field Kings’ She Told Me Lies, Wylde Mam­moths’ Help That Girl, the Mir­a­cle Work­ers’ I’ll Walk Away and the Cyn­ics’ Yeah! So if the early 80s Med­way sound did it for you, crash­ing or­gan chords, raw gui­tar riffs and ba­sic drums, then The Royal Hang­men have a piece of 7in vinyl here that will cer­tainly ap­peal to you. Yeah has a rough­ness that cer­tainly ap­peals, but for me the first track, She Told Me Lies with its re­peated key­board lick and grav­elly vo­cals sums it all up per­fectly, a del­i­cate bal­ance be­tween 80s garage/psych and seedy 60s garage/mod. The Royal Hang­men are the band that ma­jor la­bels ask their pro­duc­ers to edit out in the mix and the mu­sic in­dus­try is all the worse for that. (http://theroy­al­hang­men.ch)

The Mo­tors The Vir­gin Years (Vir­gin/Caro­line)

The Mo­tors were a Bri­tish pub rock band formed in the late 70s, and like The Ruts’ box set re­viewed last month, Vir­gin have com­piled their avail­able back cat­a­logue along with a few rar­i­ties to­gether to of­fer you the cus­tomer a four CD, 42 track box set. This col­lec­tion dates from 1977 to 1980 and in­cludes the UK hit sin­gles Danc­ing The Night Away, Forget About You (the one that sounded a lit­tle like the theme Grand­stand!) and Air­port (prob­a­bly their best known hit) and as part of their three stu­dio albums with the la­bel, while the fourth disc fea­tures the band’s two ses­sions for the John Peel show, nei­ther of which has ap­par­ently been com­mer­cially re­leased be­fore now. Add to this B-sides, 12in ver­sions, remixes and the like, along with a 20 page book­let and his col­lec­tion of pub rock and synth pop will take you back to the time of gui­tars played straight, four-four drums, a time when pints were served in jugs and pubs were thick with cig­a­rette smoke. Nice…

Booze & Glo­ryAs Bold As Brass (Step 1 Mu­sic)

Oi!/street punk can be an ac­quired taste, one which in­ci­den­tally, I ac­quired many moons ago in my teens, but as with ev­ery­thing, there are hits and misses. Here the misses tend to be those with more en­thu­si­asm than mu­si­cal abil­ity or song­writ­ing skills. Booze & Glory are on the hit side of things how­ever, work­ing class lads singing about work­ing class things but in a tune­ful way and when re­quired a tongue-incheek at­ti­tude. From foot­ball to work, drink­ing and the rest, B&G ap­proach it with a few good gui­tar so­los and the abil­ity to write an an­them like few oth­ers. And bloody hell can they write an an­them! As Bold As Brass is packed full of sin­ga­long tunes, from Off We Go – a rous­ing in­tro about the band tour­ing at the week­end that cap­tures the essence of be­ing on the road per­fectly – to the fi­nale, a semi-acous­tic Swing­ing Ham­mers about work­ing on the sites.

The cheek­i­ness of Only Fools Get Caught en­dears you at first lis­ten, and Cock & Bull (fea­tur­ing Wat­ford Jon on vo­cals) also treads the fine line, Farewell Good­bye laments a de­parted junkie, while I Hope You Re­mem­ber laments a re­cently wed mate!

As Bold As Brass isn’t a new release, it came out in 2014, but it’s cer­tainly rec­om­mended for any­one with a taste for qual­ity street mu­sic, oi, punk, by work­ing class lads who like a drink or three. Nice one lads.

The Dualers Back To Par­adise (Sun­beat)

Be­gin­ning this 15 track al­bum is Rock­ing Back to Kingston, al­most an in­stru­men­tal which gives an insight as to what is about to fol­low; ska in a tra­di­tional style cour­tesy of an ac­com­plished brass sec­tion whose re­lent­less licks and breaks take you back to the 60s at ev­ery note, part of a band that ob­vi­ously have a strong pas­sion for the mu­sic they play. The pace for this al­bum is mostly en­er­getic, the mu­sic spot on in a sim­plis­tic yet ef­fec­tive way that good ska mu­sic is, Hur­ri­cane suggest­ing sub­tle el­e­ments of a soul re­view with the brass licks to Der­rick Mor­gan’s Moon­hop cour­tesy of the vo­cals, clev­erly done to get you danc­ing.

Blaz­ing Fire sug­gests more the Skatal­ites than the Mor­gan orig­i­nal it shares only a name with, the brass pound­ing the off beat re­lent­lessly through­out, car­ry­ing this tune along per­fectly. I should also men­tion here that all the songs are Cranston orig­i­nals, not a cover in earshot, just a lot of in­spi­ra­tion that has been clev­erly crafted into ska and rock­steady for the 21st cen­tury masses with ti­tles that sound like they may be cov­ers.

Bother­a­tion is an­other very tra­di­tional-style num­ber, helped along by Justin Hinds’ Domi­noes as spe­cial guests, while other tunes con­tinue to sug­gest they might be some­thing else but you’re all danced out and onto the next one be­fore you can put your fin­ger on it. Yes there’s an el­e­ment of UB40 in the vo­cals in one or two places, but it works, es­pe­cially on Red Light, the pre­fect slow reg­gae way to end such an al­bum. My favourite track? Big Shot, fea­tur­ing De­nis AlCapone, sounds as fresh as the mod­ern day band per­form­ing it as the decade it was in­spired by.

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