Saturday, 23 May 2015

Hipsville Day 1: Les Grys Grys, Kinoco Hotel & Autoramas


Kinoco Hotel by Paul Slattery
Well, I must say that organizers Ade, Mr A, Alex and their team definitely surpassed themselves with this year’s spooktastic Horror themed Hipsville Weekender. We were treated to a wonderful three day event packed full of some stunning international live acts, DJs, Go-Go Dancers and much more besides. Luckily, the sun was out and this added to the cheerful party vibe and ensured that the outdoor activities, such as the vintage car and motorbike show (not to mention the drinking and socialising), could be thoroughly enjoyed in the lovely “Hi-De-Hi” style grounds of Bisley Pavilion.

Autoramas by Paul Slattery
Autoramas by Paul Slattery
Friday night couldn’t have been more International if they’d tried as we were treated to a trip round the globe with the Autoramas from Brazil, Kinoco Hotel from Japan and Les Grys Grys from the South of France. I heard before the show that the Autoramas have had a recent change of personnel, beefing up to a four-piece line-up, but as this was my first time to see them I can’t really say how this compares with what went before. But what I can say is that this new-look Autoramas is absolutely stunning – I mean I have a few of their albums, but nothing really prepared me for the sheer power of their live assault. Charismatic front-man Gabriel has the quiff and the twitchy energy of Joe Strummer and he plays his guitar fuzzed, phased and flanged almost out of recognition, blasting some seriously wired mutant Surf and Rock riffs. 

Autoramas by Paul Slattery
Autoramas by Paul Slattery
Erika, who has recently joined the band, doesn't stand still for a second, one minute she's going through a unique cheerleader routine, then robot dancing and the next she's joining in with the stunning Go-Go dancers Wanda De Lullabies and Dottie Gooseberry, who can't resist the band and leap on stage during "Abstrai" to freak-out in impressive style. Erika's busy, she plays rhythm guitar, keyboards, tambourine and sings too, in brief she's one of the stars of the whole weekend. Later on, well after the band's set she's still dancing away at the merchandise stall! Kicking off with the excellent "Mundo Moderno" then into a new track "Quando a Policia Chegar" which is my highlight of the set, a brilliantly catchy singalong, in fact it's so good they play it again for a well-deserved encore. The rhythm section of Fred and Melvin are pretty damn impressive and "Nada a Ver" is one big bludgeon over the head with an intensity that reminded me of Steve Albini's Big Black. 

Autoramas by Paul Slattery
Unfortunately "Abstrai" is the only track from my favourite album "Música Crocante" so I don't get to hear the rather wonderful "Tudo Bem", which I always felt was a song that the Pixies would have been proud to have written and put on "Doolittle". "Couldn't Care At All" is a rare excursion into English lyrics, it's a head-long piece of prime Power Punk Pop. Some more stand-out tracks for me included "Paciencia", "1,2,3,4" which sounded rather like The B-52's and "Jogos Olimpicos" which is a quirky Devo style instrumental that sees Erika rocking out with her guitar. Three more excellent brand new songs get an airing tonight, the manic Disco beat of "Kung Fu", then there is "O Que Que Você Quer" and "Jet To The Jungle" - all from their forthcoming album "O Futuro dos Autoramas", and yes, I think the future of the Autoramas is looking very bright indeed! 

Kinoco Hotel by Paul Slattery
Kinoco Hotel from Tokyo, were playing their first ever U.K. show with the help of a promising new booking Agency called "Bang The Noise", and what a show it was too! Drummer Fabianne, bassist Julietta and guitarist Isabelle take the stage all dressed in identical military inspired Hotel bell-hop costumes and started off playing an instrumental introduction before the alluring singer, songwriter and organ player Marianne appears and whips the crowd into a frenzy with her thigh-length boots and riding crop. I have not seen so many photographers fighting to get a spot at the front of a stage for ages. Kinoco Hotel play an energetic set crammed full of fuzzed-up organ driven Sixties inspired Garage Rock that goes down really well with the Hipsville crowd. At one point Marianne even gets on top of her organ and poses cat-like for a while and it's certainly a striking image that will live long in the memory! Rock photographer Paul Slattery was impressed to see such a great Japanese band over here as he has worked extensively over in Japan, touring with Stone Roses and Oasis and also working for the Japanese music magazine Rockin' On. Hopefully Bang The Noise Agency can get more talented Japanese bands over here soon. The band will be playing in London on Saturday May 23rd at the Dirty Water Club (the Rhythm Factory) along with the excellent Oh! Gunquit – we’ll be along to that and will be sure to report back on what promises to be another great night out.

Kinoco Hotel by Paul Slattery
Kinoco Hotel by Paul Slattery
Les Grys Grys were much, much better than I expected, they were tight and powerful and blew my head off the moment they took the stage. They had that early, raw Twickenham/Eel Pie Island R’n’B sound down to a tee and having recently seen The Others, local veterans of that original 1960's scene, Les Grys Grys were what I imagined The Others had sounded like back in the day. 

Les Grys Grys by Paul Slattery
Les Grys Grys channel an authentic sound that is far more early Blues and R'n'B based than Garage Rock. There are shades of The Downliners Sect, Pretty Things and The Flamin’ Groovies but it all sounds very fresh and exciting. In fact their opening few minutes were astounding, it sees the Guitarist on stage alone picking out a riff before being joined by the rest of the band and then suddenly kicking into life with a powerful cover of The Kinks' version of "Milk Cow Blues". 

Les Grys Grys by Paul Slattery
It was a raw and aggressive visual assault that reminded me of the very first time I saw The Soundtrack of Our Lives. To be honest, I wasn't aware of many songs in their set but I could pick out "You Said" by The Primitives", "Don't Mistreat Me" by Lightnin' Slim and their excellent State Records single "Hot Gully Wind". They are a great visual band, one minute the guitarist plays guitar with a drum stick and the next he is down playing amongst the crowd. The harmonica playing is also superb throughout and I am determined to find out more about this very promising band. Les Grys Grys have just released a brand new 7" vinyl single and it's out now on Dirty Water Records

Les Grys Grys by Paul Slattery
Les Grys Grys by Paul Slattery
With thanks to my Retro Man Blog colleague Paul Slattery for the photographs - Paul has worked with The Cramps, Flamin' Groovies, The Clash, Ramones, The Smiths and many more iconic bands over the years. Thanks to Mr A, Ade, Alex, Paul at Dirty Water Records, Fumie, Grant and Sue.

Les Grys Grys by Paul Slattery
For more photos of the Hipsville Weekend please head on over to the Retro Man Blog Facebook page and if you are not already following, hit "Like" for access to the photo albums. Reports on Day 2 and Day 3 to follow soon...Finally don't forget our Retrosonic Podcast Hipsville Special...



Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Graham Day & The Forefathers, The Len Price 3 & The Galileo 7 at The Retro Man Blog Night, The Half Moon Putney

Graham Day & The Forefathers - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
Firstly, I’d like to say a big "cheers" and thank you to all those who came along to the Retro Man Blog Night at The Half Moon with Graham Day & The Forefathers, The Len Price 3 and The Galileo 7 on May 08th. Following the success of last year’s show there was always the danger that a repeat performance wouldn't live up to expectations but I’m sure you will agree that all three bands were on top form once again. The gig sold out well over a month in advance and apologies to anyone who couldn’t get tickets. If you don’t want to miss out on future Retro Man Blog gigs then don’t forget you can sign-up for email updates, follow us on Twitter or of course "Like" the Facebook page for advance notice of tickets before they go on general sale. Well, it’s always very difficult to review your own gigs so I’ll keep it brief and concentrate on sharing some photos of the night. 

The Galileo 7 - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
The Galileo 7 - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
As the venue filled up so quickly after the doors opened and everyone was ready and raring to go we could get things off to an early start and give The Galileo 7 a slightly longer set than was planned. This was handy as they now have so many great tracks that the original allotted 30 minutes would not have been enough to fit them all in. The new line-up is now really hitting its stride and switching Mole from bass to drums was a stroke of genius as he is worth the entrance price alone with his flamboyant drumming style, which draws murmurs of appreciation from people around me. Allan moving to centre stage certainly improves the band’s dynamics and anyway, he certainly deserves his time in the spotlight after playing the staunch bass playing side-kick for so long. 

The Galileo 7 - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
The Galileo 7 - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
Allan's song-writing and guitar playing also demands more acclaim and thankfully the many excellent and positive reviews for the latest album "False Memory Lane" seem to be finally addressing this. New Bassist Paul Moss is also great to watch as he’s really immersed in the music and adds some nice melodic backing vocals along the way. Viv’s catchy keyboard runs are an integral part of The Galileo 7 sound and she also provides lead vocal duties on the joyful Power Pop rush of "Don’t Know What I’m Waiting For" and a cover of The Who’s "Tattoo". With a fair selection of tracks plucked from all three of their albums, including older favourites such as “Orangery Lane” and "Anne Hedonia", it is however both sides of the brand new single "One Lie At A Time" and "God of Gaps" which are played tonight, that prove Galileo 7 are going from strength to strength. 

The Len Price 3 - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
The Len Price 3 - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
The Len Price 3 took the stage minus their trademark blazers, I must admit it took a bit of getting used to, and slammed straight into "Nothing I Want" the B-Side of their new Record Store Day single which is a really powerful song that positively crackles and spits vitriol. We were then treated to another B-Side, a rare outing for the excellent melodic Garage Rocker "Dorolia" which was the flip to the band's very first single "Christian In The Desert". Despite my fears that the band's new casual look signaled a move to Alt. Country, I'm pleased to report that they are not ditching their classic and much-loved high-tempo energetic sound and reaching for the banjos and violins just yet! A storming version of "Pictures" and a manic, wired "Girl Like You" just ram the point home. 

The Len Price 3 - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
The Len Price 3 - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
But with the A-Side of the new single "Walking On Your Head" and "Mr Grey" The Len Price 3 prove that they are adept at writing slower melodic songs with lyrics that veer towards poignant vignettes of modern life in the style of Ray Davies. But of course we do love their noisy little numbers too and the speedy singalong thrashes of "My Grandad Jim" and "Billy Mason" see the crowd going positively wild. Highlights for me were "The Girl Who Became a Machine", and their anthemic signature song "Rentacrowd" and the brilliant "London Institute" which closes tonight's main set. The band encore with "Sailor's Sweetheart" and "Chinese Burn" which leave a very satisfied audience. 

Graham Day - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
Allan Crockford - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
Graham Day & The Forefathers are quite stunning tonight, armed with a mightily impressive back catalogue that deserves to be lauded amongst the very best in great British Rock music, the set list is crammed full of a prime selection of Prisoners, Gaolers, Solarflares and Prime Movers nuggets. Whether it’s The Gaolers "Begging You" with its crunching bass intro or the slashing chords of the Solarflares "You Want Blood", each song is just as eagerly devoured by the crowd as those more familiar Prisoners classics such as "Reaching My Head" or "Love Me Lies". 

Wolf Howard - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
Graham Day - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
A rowdy, energetic but good natured "middle-aged mosh-pit" starts up with the crunching chords of "Be On Your Way" and didn’t let up until the very end. This time round there are some surprise additions to the set, including The Prisoners 1997 "come-back" single "Shine On Me" and the rare B-Side "Small". The band encored with a great version of "I Drink The Ocean" which segued into Deep Purple’s "Hush". This sparked off a stage invasion and some nifty impromptu Go-Go dancing by a couple of eager audience members.  Although The Forefathers was never really meant to be a long-term concern, there’s no doubting the chemistry between Graham, drummer Wolf and bassist Allan and we can but hope that the three of them continue to play together in some form or other for a lot longer. So, what do you think? Shall we do it all again next year…?

Graham Day & The Forefathers - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
With thanks to all three bands, Carrie, Abi, James and staff at the Half Moon, Eric Baconstrip for the superb poster design, Steven Tagg-Randall for the great videos, Alan May at Glory Boy Radio Show, Derek Rookley from Rookers Breakfast Show and Wayne Lundqvist-Ford at The Ice Cream Man Show for help with the promotion and anyone else who got involved along the way. Of course thanks to all the Retro Man Blog and Retrosonic Podcast followers, subscribers and "likers" and to those who come along and support live music at our gigs, it’s all very much appreciated! Don't forget our special Retrosonic Podcast with Graham, Wolf and Allan talking about their illustrious musical history from The Prisoners and The Daggermen to The Forefathers via working with Billy Childish, Planet, The Stabilisers and all the many and varied bands and line-ups along the way!



To see more photos of the night please head on over to the Retro Man Facebook page and, if you are not already following, hit "Like" and "Get Notifications" for access to the exclusive Photo Album. The whole event was filmed by video archivist Steven Tagg-Randall and you can catch up on full sets from all three bands at his YouTube channel here plus there are some videos up now at the Retro Man Blog YouTube channel here.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

THE JACKETS, Speedball JR & The Shook-Ups! at Weirdsville

THE JACKETS at Weirdsville - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
Going to so many gigs over the years, especially since starting up Retro Man Blog, I have been lucky enough to have seen some excellent bands play live. However, it’s pretty rare to see a band that blows your mind and kicks your ass so hard that you end up spiralling back in time, reducing you to a gibbering teenage fan-boy with stars in your eyes. Tonight I saw such a band and that band was THE JACKETS. The Switzerland and USA based band were over here to headline Weirdsville as a special treat for the club organizer, promoter and all-round good guy, Mr A, who was celebrating his birthday. Mr A had raved about the band to me during our recent chat for the Retrosonic Podcast “Hipsville” special promoting the upcoming Weirdsville spin-off weekender at Bisley Pavilion. I had heard a few songs and was pretty impressed but I was not really expecting the stunning, visceral impact of seeing the band play live. I was right at the front of the stage at the Fiddler’s Elbow, which was packed out with a capacity crowd of Weirdsville regulars, birthday well-wishers and gig-goers, and was well placed to get both barrels of THE JACKETS right in the chest. 

THE JACKETS at Weirdsville - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
The band, all kitted out in black with a nifty removable white collar and tie ensemble, took the stage and blasted straight into a powerful grungey new song “Tricky” which reminded me a bit of Nirvana or The Muffs. Vocalist and guitarist Jackie, eyes hidden behind black and white checked shades, hair pulled back into a kind of Samurai top-knot, is one of the most charismatic performers I have seen in quite some time. One of my favourite tracks is up next, the catchy "Get Back With You" from their debut album "Stuck Inside", with bassist Samuel and drummer Chris adding those memorable backing vocals to the chorus. It’s really difficult to take your eyes off Jackie as she careers around the stage, high-kicking, leaping about and rolling on the floor, never missing a riff on her guitar. Eyes are quite the theme with THE JACKETS as Jackie removes her shades at the beginning of third song "Make You Mine" and reveals large painted-on Clockwork Orange style eye-lashes and a false eye painted on each of her lids, so when she blinks it really freaks you out. 

THE JACKETS at Weirdsville - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
"Sometimes Maybe", another new track is next and it's based around a cool bass riff, apparently they will be releasing their as yet untitled third album on Voodoo Rhythm Records later in the year and if all the songs are as good as those played tonight, then it will really be something special. During a raucous "Wasting My Time" from the latest album "Way Out" Jackie entices a girl from the crowd to get on stage and dance “it’s all in those hips…” she says, indeed they are a band that are made for dancing and jumping around to. Not to be outdone, Samuel and Chris are also all-action performers, both competing with Jackie for the crowd’s attention. The start of “Freak Out” sparks off a wild mosh-pit at the front and people and drinks go flying all over the place, someone is on the floor, then someone else is spread across the monitors, its chaotic and great fun at the same time. Suddenly, half way through a brilliant "Hang Up" Jackie leaps out into the crowd and is lifted up and carried across people’s heads, right to the back of the venue and back to the stage again, still strumming away furiously. Of course the band are called back for a well deserved encore and they power through "Escape" before ending with a manic "What We Gonna Do" and that's it, it's all over bar the shouting for more from a very happy crowd. The video archivist Steven Tagg-Randall, who was there to film the show, declares it “one of the best gigs ever!” and as he must average a good 3 or 4 gigs every week then who am I to argue…?!

THE JACKETS at Weirdsville - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
The night kicked off with a cracking set by The Shook-Ups! who were certainly a great choice to get the party started. This was the first time I’d seen them and I was intrigued as just before they came on, a friend told me, “be warned, the singer wears a wig!” I didn't know what to make of that, I have their excellent album "Bad Reception" but it didn’t really prime me for what was to come. The Shook-Ups! are a strange band, they take the stage dressed all in black with matching roll neck sweaters and vocalist Dan Coyote wears a badly fitting Beatle wig, a large silver medallion and one black glove – a kind of tribute act to The Music Machine’s Sean Bonniwell I suppose. 

The Shook-Ups! at Weirdsville - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
Dan's between-song antics are basically a comedy routine of exaggerated dancing, larking about and bantering with the audience, but that’s not to say that The Shook-Ups! are a mere parody. I don't want it to sound like they are the Barron Knights of the Garage Rock scene, for those that have the album will already know that they do have some bloody great songs, in particular "Second To None" and "Reason To Complain", both played in a quick-fire hit. But watching tonight, if I’m honest, it’s sometimes a bit disconcerting as the songs are played totally straight. At one point I’m left wondering, what if they ditched the act? Maybe they could be one of the best Garage bands around, but then again, there are a lot of those generic Garage bands around and only one Shook-Ups! When they play a rousing cover of the Bobby Fuller Four/Melba Moore classic “The Magic Touch” and everyone is dancing and singing along, the pontificating soon went out the window. Indeed, better just to stop analyzing it all and hop on board for the ride, join in the fun and get all Shook Up! During the last track, a version of "What'cha Gonna Do About It", the band ambush Mr A and he is presented with a birthday cake decorated with the "You Got Good Taste" logo.

Mr A gets his cake, and eats it...! Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
Following The Shook-Ups! must be tough for any band, more so if you are an instrumental Surf band, which is exactly what Speedball JR are. So, although the gears did shift down a bit, at my age I was thankful for a bit of a breather. It was excellent to finally see the band and they played a great set of their fuzzed-up cinematic Rock ‘n’ Roll Surf songs that kept the dancing going, albeit in a slightly more civilized manner. Tonight the line-up comprised Scorchin' Sascha on guitar, the super-cool Alexandra Beat Girl on bass, Frantic Frank on drums and a saxophonist Johan temporarily replacing their usual organist, and if you like your Dick Dale, Link Wray, trashy B-Movie themes and Sixties Spy movie scores then Speedball JR are certainly a band worth watching out for.

Speedball JR at Weirdsville - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
Speedball JR at Weirdsville - Photo by Retro Man Blog
Weirdsville is held at the Fiddler’s Elbow in Camden on the last Saturday of every month. Hipsville Weekender is at the Bisley Pavilion on Friday 15th, Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th of May and you can get more details on all the bands, DJ’s, Go-Go Dancers and other assorted fun and games at the Hipsville site here. To get you in the mood for the weekend don’t forget our Retrosonic Podcast “Hipsville Special” where I chat to Mr A about the story behind Weirdsville, Hipsville and his You Got Good Taste Podcast and we play tracks from a selection of bands appearing over the weekend including Kinoco Hotel, Giuda, Thee Jezebels, Oh! Gunquit and many more. You can listen and download the episode for free at our Soundcloud site or subscribe for free at the iTunes store.

THE JACKETS at Weirdsville - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
For more photos of the night please head on over to the Retro Man Blog Facebook page and then hit "Like" if you're not already following, for access to the exclusive photo album.



Tuesday, 28 April 2015

The Most & French Boutik at March of The Mods + "Causing A Scene" Compilation in Aid of Teenage Cancer Trust

The Most at March of The Mods - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
I caught French Boutik and The Most at the Fiddlers Elbow in Camden at one of the many March of The Mods live events that were arranged by Kate Ross-Kellam and her team of like-minded volunteers and organizers all across the country. Over the month of March they put on an astounding 37 events in various cities around the U.K. featuring 171 bands and 156 DJs, and then with the additional contributions from sponsors they hope to have raised over £100,000 in total for the Teenage Cancer Trust. Today's gig was compered by DJ Graham Lentz and he introduced Paris-based French Boutik who I had also seen the night before at Albert Cummings' Putney Club. Albert kindly helped the band out after their planned show in Birmingham was cancelled at the last minute and offered them a replacement gig. It was a really nice gesture that was really appreciated by those of us lucky enough to get the chance to see the band twice over the same weekend!

French Boutik - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
French Boutik were on top form despite being without their regular organ player, so vocalist Gabriela filled in the gaps on a borrowed keyboard. However, it didn't detract from a great performance and set full of the band's soulful French-Beat nuggets. Promoting an excellent new E.P. "Mieux Comme Ca", they now have a set that is packed full of tracks that could all be singles in their own right. The new E.P.'s title track, with guitarist Serge taking on most of the lead vocals, is an absolute classic and it stretches the band's sound to another dimension. The uptempo "Facile" from the "Ici Paris" E.P. really gets the crowd moving, as does their cover of the Madness track "Tiptoes".

French Boutik - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
The band's rhythm section of Jean-Marc on bass and Zelda on drums, who also adds some excellent vocal harmonies, really allow the groove to flow, allowing Serge and Gabriela to add their magic into the mix. It was an excellent show and the band got a great reception, and if you missed out then they will be back in the UK for a gig at The Blue Beat Room in Brentwood on July 11th. Now please go out and get their new E.P. you really won't be disappointed!

The Most - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
I finally get to see The Most, despite liking the band for some time now, I'd never managed to catch one of their gigs. The band are from Umeå in Northern Sweden and the current line-up features Frans Perris on lead vocals and guitar, Magnus Kollberg on guitar and vocals, Mats Westin on drums and Martin Claesson on bass. They have also worked with Andy Bell from Ride and Oasis and ex-International Noise Conspiracy bassist Inge Johansson. Kicking off with the excellent "The Action" with its powerful, slashing guitar rhythm, The Most don't let up for a minute, they really are a great live band. Some of my personal highlights included "She's Nuts", a kind of Power Pop update on Chris Montez's "Let's Dance", the chiming guitars of "Bad Girl" and the Bo Diddley styled shuffle of "Sometime". But my favourite of the night was "Really Good" with it's strong Who influence as heard in Retrosonic Podcast Episode 17. The Most have the catchy punch of Power Pop and the raw R'n'B of Hamburg-era Beatles and their songs are stuffed full of harmonies and melodic guitar riffing. In fact they are just a great Rock 'n' Roll band, full stop. They end a storming and well received show with "I Don't Want It" and "I'm Not Your Man, two raucous slices of good time R'n'B.


The Most - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
March of The Mods have also released "Causing A Scene" an excellent 2 CD compilation that includes a great cross section of contemporary Mod related bands, many of which appeared at one of the MOTM gigs. Some of the bands that have appeared on Retro Man Blog and at our gigs and Retrosonic Podcast also feature - so we have The Len Price 3 and "Girl Who Became a Machine", The Past Tense with a raw version of their Ska'd up "Nervous" with the added bonus of a horn section, there's the terrace chorus stomp of The SuperMinx '70 and the Psych of The Mynd Set and The Kite Collectors. The compilation highlights the diversity in the scene from the straight ahead Mod revival, Jam influenced sounds of The Riot which are as much 70's New Wave, to the Soul of Button Up.

Then there's the Elvis Costello styled vocals and Dexy's horns of the Stone Foundation, which is one of my favourite tracks and the cool Jazzy instrumental swing of Berry Tweed & The Chasers. There are a few more established names - a Steve Marriott track, one from The Eyes and the legendary master of good time R'n'B, Geno Washington & The Ram Jam Band. Some more tracks that caught my ear included the Beatles harmonies of The Anydays "Tambourine" and then The Pepper Pots come in on a Shaft guitar riff and offer up a bit of classic thumping Motown style Soul. Mr Bridger smash in on a bass riff and show that the original Mod scene also incorporated the raw garage rock of early Kinks and The Who. Paradise's "Humans and Stars" features a nice vintage organ and fuzzed up Nuggets sound that really hits the spot and is a definite highlight. Heavyball bring a bit of Ska to the party with a vocalist that sounds a bit similar to Georgie Fame. You can order the download of "Causing A Scene" from the MOTM store here. For more information on next year's March of The Mods and their admirable work for Teenage Cancer Trust and how to get involved please check out the official web-site here.

The Most - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
For more photos of the gig please head on over to the Retro Man Blog Facebook page and hit "Like" if you are not already following, for access to the exclusive photo album. You can also see videos of each band from the gig at the Retro Man Blog YouTube Channel here.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

The Others: Veterans of the 1960's Richmond & Eel Pie Island R'n'B Scene at Sunbury-on-Thames

The Others photographed by Paul Slattery
The Others are veterans of the early British 1960’s R’n’B boom that sprung up in the lush suburban greenery of the affluent Thames Valley area to the South West of London. Based around many now legendary venues and club nights such as the Crawdaddy in Richmond, The Ealing Jazz Club, Eel Pie Island Hotel in Twickenham and the Ricky Tick in Windsor, the scene became a fertile breeding ground of talent, spawning many bands such as The Artwoods, The Birds, The Yardbirds and The Downliners Sect. These bands were influenced by their contemporaries such as the Rolling Stones and The Pretty Things along with more established acts such as Long John Baldry, Cyril Davies, and Alexis Korner who introduced the British youth to the original Chicago Blues sounds of artists such as Bo Diddley, Howlin’ Wolf, Jimmy Reed, Buddy Guy and Muddy Waters. 

The Others, Paul and Rob photographed by Paul Slattery
The Others were formed while they were still pupils at Hampton School which also included founder members of The Yardbirds and, a few years their junior, Paul Slattery, the legendary Rock Photographer (and my Retro Man Blog colleague…!). Paul kindly wrote a few words about his memories of the time and you can check them out at the end of the feature. The first line-up consisted of Paul Stewart on lead vocals, Rob Tolchard on rhythm guitar, Ian McLintock on bass, John Standley on lead guitar and Nigel Baldwin on drums. John and Nigel left before the release of their debut single “Oh Yeah” and were replaced by Pete Hammerton and Geoff Coxon. Another Hampton School student, Brian May was so influenced by Pete Hammerton’s guitar playing that he too started a band called Smile before going on to form Queen with Freddie Mercury. 

The Others, Pete Hammerton photographed by Paul Slattery
Fontana Records released “Oh Yeah” in 1964 and recently the influential California based musician and journalist Mike Stax declared in his excellent “Ugly Things” magazine that it was “one of the best records to have come out of the early British R’n’B scene”. It certainly made waves across the Atlantic, with Garage Punk legends The Shadows of Knight having a minor hit in the States with their own version of the single. However, The Others failed to capitalize on the promise of this debut release as they split soon after the single’s release. So, despite their impeccable credentials their short-lived career meant that they were quickly overshadowed by many of their contemporaries. In 2012 Paul, Pete, Rob and Geoff decided to re-form The Others but unfortunately it would be without the original bassist Ian McLintock who had sadly passed away. Rob moved from rhythm guitar to bass and they started to write new material as well as mixing in plenty of those classic Blues songs that had originally inspired them. They have recently released a live in the studio CD entitled “Gold” to celebrate 50 years of The Others but have announced that they will finally call it a day with a gig at the Crawdaddy Club in Richmond later this year. So, it’s quite appropriate that I see the band in Sunbury-on-Thames, right in the heart of that legendary R’n’B Scene, just steps away from the river. 

The Others, Rob Tolchard photographed by Paul Slattery
Before tonight’s gig Rob explained to me that they were just happy to be playing music again with no pressure. He insisted that they didn’t want to be thought of as purely a revival act and that they liked to inject some energy into their performances and make sure the songs sounded fresh and contemporary. He wasn’t wrong, as despite Paul’s banter about the advancing years of both band and audience alike, The Others played with an energy that would put most bands half their age to shame. Paul has an impressively raw and authentic Blues voice that sometimes veers into classic Soul and on some occasions even Gospel territory. He’s a great front-man, tall and charismatic with a nice line in self-deprecating chat between songs. Unfortunately he forgot to bring his harmonica. Paul Slattery saw him play harp when he joined Robert Hokum’s Great West Groove on stage in Brentford recently and he was mightily impressed so I was really looking forward to hearing him play. Let’s hope he doesn’t forget the harmonica next time we see them! 

The Others, Geoff Coxon photographed by Paul Slattery
Although, Rob plays bass with a nice laid back but funky style, he really immerses himself in the music, dancing about the stage, swaying along with the rhythm and taking lead vocals on his excellent self-penned number “Can’t Get You Outta My System”. Drummer Geoff holds it all together nicely in an understated and effective way. Pete Hammerton, with his dangling ear-ring, drain-pipe jeans and silk scarf, looks every inch the classic guitar hero. His superb guitar playing is something to behold, mostly playing without a plectrum, it’s difficult to take your eyes off his deft fret-work. Pete and Paul take the stage at the start of their second set armed with acoustic guitars and play an impressive flamenco number that proves the band are definitely far more than just an R’n’B tribute act. My personal highlights were versions of Al Green’s “Take Me To The River” which I got to love after seeing the Talking Heads play it in their “Stop Making Sense” movie and Allen Toussaint’s “Fortune Teller”. I first heard this via the blistering version on The Who’s “Live at Leeds” album and the excellent Freakbeat take on the song by the under-rated Tony Jackson Group. It was a great evening’s entertainment, so enjoyable in fact that I can only feel a bit disappointed that they will be calling it a day. However, it is fitting that their very last show will be at the new home of the legendary Crawdaddy Club in Richmond on Friday August 21st so keep an eye on their web-site for more news and try and catch them while you can. Now, over to Paul...

The Others photographed by Paul Slattery
"I was 14 in October 1964 when The Others released "Oh Yeah", their only recording on Fontana records. What made the record special for me was that the band were still students at Hampton Grammar School, the very school I was attending and for many of us the new sounds of Rock and Roll were having a huge effect on us. For the first time kids wanted to be different from their parents, they wanted to think differently, dress differently and grow their hair long, causing a massive social change. Many of our parents were horrified and the constant battles I and many other boys had with out parents and our teachers about our hair length and choice of music still remains with me. We knew who The Others were at school although we were far too young and insignificant to talk to them - we just admired them and wanted OUR hair that long too. They were three or four years older than us, the same age as Brian May, who also went to Hampton, and they were all following in the footsteps of Jim McCarty and Paul Samwell-Smith who had started The Yardbirds in the summer of ’63. We all went out and bought a copy of the record and played it to death, but I never managed to see The Others play live. In fact I had to wait over fifty years to see them play the gig at Sunbury Cricket Club last week,  and I was not disappointed as the gig was a scorcher. These guys all in their late sixties ooze rock and roll and show that half a century after they got together they can still rock with the best of them.

The Others photographed by Paul Slattery
The Others will be continuing to gig this year and will be playing at the Eel Pie Club this Thursday 30th April. Check out their website for future gigs.  Their CD "Gold" is a real classic chock full of  R'n'B gems and  you can read a fantastic interview with The Others about life in a schoolboy rock band and the burgeoning Richmond music scene of the Crawdaddy Club and Eel Pie Island, in an article in "Ugly Things" which you can download from The Others website here."

Photo by Paul Slattery
With thanks to Paul for the words and photographs. All photos copyright Paul Slattery 2015.