This month we’ve been listening to...
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.