Sunday, 31 July 2011

Second Time Around...

I'm beginning to think that a weekly blog may have been a little optimistic, maybe I shouldn’t have given myself a deadline, I’ve never been any good with those. But we'll see how it goes. 
I am pretty unhappy at work at the moment, probably more unhappy than I've been for ten years or so. Sadly I can't see a way out, I like my life outside of work, but that life needs a certain income, and I'm not sure I'd get that anywhere else. I don't get paid a huge amount, certainly not as much as Sarah, but it's enough to help enable us to live a pretty decent life. I guess I'll just have to grin and bear it and let punk rock help take the pain away....
I’ve spent a lot of time since the last entry here putting together a PDF to add to the new Shorts songs, collecting the lyrics, info and some photos. I also added a front and back cover in case anyone wanted to put the songs on a CDR, they could then print out that page and have a cover. We would have liked to have give this “EP” more of a proper release, but we just don’t have the money; Suspect Device is no longer in a position to release stuff, and I can’t see anyone else wanting to put our stuff out. So a download seemed like the best way to make them available. You can download “Skinned Alive” from the SD websit, or visit and get it from there.
New music has been a bit thin on the ground since I last wrote, at this time of the month I don't have the spare money to go buying all the music I want, so I was very grateful when Gaz Suspect bought me the Culture Shock CD boxest that Bluurg and Active have put together. -
It really is a thing of beauty, and certainly got the heart racing as soon as I picked up the package from the door mat and saw the Active stamp on the back of the envelope; I instantly knew what it was.
I remember Culture Shock well. As much as I'd loved the Subhumans the first Culture Shock mini-album came like a breath of fresh air, the songs seemed bright and Dick's lyrics were as great as ever. It was ska-punk before ska-punk had been corrupted by hoards of bands playing what I came to think of as pseudo ska, hundreds of horn driven songs with nothing to say except "pick it up, pick it up."
Culture Shock got by with the usual guitar, bass, drums, voice combo and what they played was certainly a departure from what the Subhumans and A-Heads had been doing, but not such a leap that it alienated people, like me, who'd been into those bands. Having Dick's familiar voice and lyrical style helped, but the songs stood up on their own.
We interviewed them in Suspect Device. Instead of Dick sending his answers back written out on paper, he answered via cassette. LIke the Culture Shock songs, Dick's enthusiasm shone through. 
Listening to these songs again certainly brought fond memories flooding back. I saw them live several times, including a particularly memorable gig at the Labour Club in Southampton where I remember watching them though a haze of strange smelling smoke! I met Dick for the first time that night, he remembered doing the interview and was as friendly as I've always found him to be, the few times I've met him since.
Anyway, this package is really neat; three CDs, the first with "Go Wild” and "All The Time", the second "Onwards & Upwards" and the third with their two demos. Tracks from compilations are included too, as well as a booklet featuring lyrics and a band history told using answers to zine interviews.
I don’t remember if I had the demos, I’m pretty sure Gaz did, so there’s a good chance if I didn’t have them (and I will be digging out the two boxes of demos I have at the bottom of a cupboard to look) I at least heard them, and we did feature them on “Life On Earth”, one of our compilation tapes, with tracks from the “Reality Stop No.44” demo.
I have found myself playing this most of the time, but I have found the odd moment to play a few other things...
Adam & The Ants. I have everything the band released, yes even “Ant Rap”! But it’s the early, pre-pirate, stuff that I really like, and of that early stuff it’s the songs they recorded before the “Dirk Wears White Sox” album that really excite me. I never owned the bootleg LPs of their demo stuff, but I have hunted them down and I love the early versions of songs that went on to get the two drummer treatment. Good as those songs became I like the stripped down versions better. There are also songs that didn’t make it further than demo stage, and I’m a sucker for all that stuff.
Also, a friend in the U.S. has sent me new recordings he’s made with a band he was originally in twenty-odd years ago. I can’t say too much more about it, but the band sound as good as they always did, despite the passing years. 
I’ve just ordered Boss Tuneage’s re-release of the first two HDQ releases, so I hope they will arrive soon and I can talk about them next time.
I really need to get some reviewing done soon, and think about putting together another “proper” issue of Suspect Device.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Here we go now...

So I thought I should start a weekly(ish) blog where I waffle on a bit about the music I’ve been listening to, not necessarily new stuff, and anything else interesting that’s happened to me. My life is pretty run of the mill so I guess this will mainly be about music, which is just as well really.
In case you don’t know, the title of this blog is from the Elastica song “Waking Up”; not my favourite Elastica song, but my favourite Elastica line. Not a day goes by where I don’t drink tea and listen to music, even if I don’t always “put a record on”, I’ll be listening to music in the car or at work, or while I ride my bike. I’ve probably listened to music every day for over 30 years, most of it falling under the punk rock umbrella somewhere. It’s my addiction; I often get the feeling of needing to buy new music RIGHT NOW! And I must have spent thousands of pounds on my habit over the years, but unlike someone addicted to drink or drugs I can take two steps from where I’m sitting right now and put my hand on a record I spent money on 25 years ago; my money has gone on things I still have and can still enjoy.
This week has been a pretty standard week; up early, work, hate work, home, run Becca to  places - dancing and rounders this week - plus a family meal at our favourite Chinese restaurant in town to celebrate my nephew’s 21st birthday. But after a couple of days of work my gloomy mood was remedied by finding an LP sized package on my doorstep. 
First Ellis, the bass player in Shitty Limits and all round good egg sent me a couple of records; I’d bought the Smart Cops LP from him, and in the package he’d sent me a Deaf Mutations 7” to review. Both great records, with the 7” being pretty damn great. 
I also ordered the new Phoenix Foundation LP and 1981 / Surrender split 7” from Stonehenge Records in France. Haven’t had a chance to play the 7” yet, but the Phoenix Foundation LP is probably their best release yet, really great melodic punk rock.
A 7” from Finland also arrived by Lebakko. These were a new band to me, and they’re from Turku, the same town (City?) as The Phoenix Foundation and 1981, and I think there is some crossover of members between those bands. I had a search around the internet for them and I saw the term “pop punk” applied to them, but the 7” doesn’t sound like that to me, just great punk rock. I like the early Adam & The Ants style sleeve art, too.
Boss Tuneage Records have put out a Wanton Thought CD, a compilation of EP, comp and demo tracks. It has been years since I listened to this band, and as soon as payday came around I sent off some money to Aston and the CD arrived pretty damn quick. It was great to hear this stuff again, and be transported back 20 years or so.
I have also purchased a few things from iTunes, which is a rarity for me. My buddy Stuart Armstrong sent me an iTunes voucher ages ago, and like vouchers I get for HMV I can never find anything to spend it on. I realise I’m difficult to buy for, mainstream music outlets aren’t likely to have anything by Limp Wrist or Endless Grinning Skulls, so I do appreciate it when people give me these things, but it takes me ages to use them.
Anyway, while laying out Gaz Suspect’s interview with Shane Baldwin for the SD website I happened to notice that the X-Certs’ “Rated XXX” LP on Bristol Archives was available on iTunes. It was one of those all too regular moments where I had to have the record NOW! But having spent quite a lot on records already I decided to use the voucher that had been propped up in front of me for a few months. It was pretty cheap so I had some money left over and a brief search threw up The Hoax “...And So It Went 1979-1981”, and as I’m a sucker for those more obscure punk/new wave bands from the late ‘70s I got that too. There was still a bit of money left over, and I was on a roll, so I went and got myself “Secondary Modern 1976-1979” by The Users.
Getting those three albums set me off on a frenzy of playing old stuff by bands like Fast Cars, Accident On The East Lancs, Acme Sewage Co. And the wonderful “Bored Teenagers” compilations.
There are a couple more things I’ve been sent to review recently; the new Zounds album, “The Redemption Of Zounds” reached me thanks to the networking of Pete Zonked, and I was very grateful because it’s a great album that manages to sound like Zounds without sounding dated. It’s released by the always interesting Overground Records.
Also, Endless Grinning Skulls sent me their new LP, and it’s a monstrous beast of an album, definitely one to check out.
Back in the early days of Suspect Device zine we became friends with Vince who did 20th Century Saints fanzine. I hadn’t heard from him for 20 years or more, but he emailed me out of the blue, and offered to send me a comp CD he’d put out on his label Released Emotions. It’s a tribute to The CLash, Sex Pistols and The Damned; I haven’t had a proper listen yet, but I’m not a huge fan of tribute albums, and the songs covered here are classics that should probably be left alone. We shall see.
Most of the things I’ve talked about here are (or will be soon) reviewed on the Suspect Device website.
Right, time to make a cup of tea.
Tony Suspect