Saturday, 24 September 2011

Six Guns

Well it’s been a little while, but I’ve been busy, honest. Apart from the usual work and family stuff I’ve been working on the new issue of SD, and I even got out to see a gig.
I have reviewed most of the stuff I’ve mentioned in pervious entries here, ready for inclusion in the next issue, and there hasn’t really been much in since. Except, of course, the new Night Birds album. Alex at Grave Mistake was good enough to send a copy over and it is every bit as good as I’d hoped it would be. It has all those elements that make for a great album, and how can anyone not love a record that brings to mind bands like Dead Kennedys, Agent Orange and Adolescents? I’ve been playing it a lot.
My buddy Stuart Armstrong sent me a couple of releases put out by Retro Records. I love all that late ‘70s stuff, and I’m a sucker for the more obscure bands, so to have stuff by The Crabs and The Bears is wonderful. I really like The Bears’ “Wot’s Up Mate?”, but I haven’t given The Crabs one a proper listen yet. however I’m excited to have it here ready to listen to. He also sent me an album he had but doesn’t really listen to, “Bops, Babes, Booze & Bovver” by The Nips / Nipple Erectors. I haven’t played this yet either, but I”m really happy to have it and very grateful that Stu was willing to be parted from it.
So, last Thursday I drove across to Brighton to see Punch. I went on my own, and I always find that a little disconcerting, but I knew Pete Zonked was going so at least there would be a friendly face there. As it was before Pete arrived that lovely fellow Tom Hussey from Attack! Vipers! turned up, and it is always great to see him. I also introduced myself to Punch singer Meghan, we had exchanged one or two emails recently, and had a brief chat.
I missed the first band, but caught another three, neither of which really did much for me, unfortunately, even Loma Prieta who share a couple of members with Punch.
I like Punch, as I think I mentioned last time and live they are a bit special; in fact they blew me away with their power and tight playing. It was a pretty short set, but I think with the style they play that works perfectly, even though I would have happily watched more. I picked up their second album and wanted a sweatshirt, but I couldn’t afford it.
What’s even better was that I was able to watch the whole gig, drop Pete home and still be back home before midnight. When you have a 60 mile drive after a gig, it’s nice to be able to do it when you’re not too tired.
NIght Birds are in the UK this week. My original idea was to see them in London, Leeds and Brighton. The Leeds trip bit the dust pretty early on, but London and Brighton were still in my plans. Now, however, finance and travel problems mean I’m going to have to miss London, but I will be driving back across to Brighton, as I’m not going to miss them altogether. 
Lastly; I probably should have mentioned this the last time (or even the one before), but I can’t let the sad passing of Chron Gen bass player Pete Dimmock go by without paying my own little tribute.
I don’t actually know any details, all I know is that Gaz sent me a text telling me he’d died, and even though I never knew him I still felt a little sad.
Chron Gen were a band that has a special place in my heart; they maybe weren’t the greatest, and there are plenty of bands that have had a more profound affect on me over the years, but the first Chron Gen EP is one of the best of the early ‘80s UK punk releases.
The memory of the day Gaz and me bought that first Chron Gen record is still fresh in my mind, even though it was 30 years ago. 
I’m not sure how we heard about the band, or why we were both so determined to get the record, but as I remember it on this day, the sole purpose of one of our regular trips into Southampton‘s record shops was to get this new record.
In those days Southampton actually had record shops, and not just the main chains either. Our well practised routine had me cycling to Gaz’s house, from where we’d walk to Totton train station for the short trip into town. Once there we’d walk up the hill to Subway Records, then to the old Virgin Records and the tiny (yes tiny) HMV before heading down through the parks to Henry’s and Underground. As far as I recall we bought the EP in Henry’s, then hurried back to Gaz’s house to play it. I could also convince myself that it was a hot day and we sweltered in our leather jackets and big boots, but we did that trip so often that it could well have been another time.
Anyway, I loved everything about the record; the front of the sleeve featured a “classic” punk rock picture of the band decked out in leather jackets, boots and studded belts stood against a wall. With the band’s logo across the top. Slipping off the clear plastic protective cover the sleeve opened out to feature a drawing of a coffin, a nuclear explosion and soldiers depicted as puppets with individual photos of the band members on the facing sheet. The back cover had the lyrics. I already liked the EP before we’d got off the train back in Totton.
In both the front cover photo, and the inner individual shot, Pete Dimmock looks cool; the blond spiked hair, the leather jacked and the boots; bass players are supposed to look like that, well they were in the early ‘80s anyway. On the front he stands slightly apart from the others, as though they aren’t quite cool enough for him.
On the cover of the follow up 7”, “Reality”, Pete Dimmock is staring into the distance, too cool to acknowledge the camera, and on the first album there’s a little smirk from him; he still know’s he’s the coolest.
Eventually he left and joined Chelsea and I bough the stuff of theirs he played on even though I was never a huge fan of that band. The Chron Gen connection was enough. 
We were firm Chron Gen fans right from the off, and went on to buy everything they released (even the post Dimmock stuff), and even if they maybe never quite fulfilled their promise they did put out some great songs, and we could always forgive them a couple of dud ones here and there. Even now we both still play Chron Gen records and would probably both put them in any list of our all time favourite bands.
RIP Pete, and thanks for the memories.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Five Corporations

There was a French woman staying at the same hotel as us who looked exactly like Joey Ramone. It was uncanny, spooky even as she seemed to arrive the day I wore a Ramones t-shirt. From that day on she was always there; I’d turn a corner and she’d be there, or I’d look up from the breakfast table and she be walking past. It got a bit freaky, and I swear that on our last day when I happened to be wearing a CBGB’s t-shirt I saw a little twinkle in her eye.
Anyway, by Friday 2nd September I was ready to come home from Mallorca. I realised this at breakfast as I sat at a table and watched another idiot create a fire in the toaster by stuffing a croissant in it, despite the sign, in four languages warning that this really wasn’t a good idea. I wanted more toast, but I didn’t want to have to join a queue behind that numbnuts, or walk round the corner to another toaster and another queue. I wanted to have breakfast in my own house, where we know that putting anything other than bread in our toaster is a bad idea. I wanted a quiet breakfast and a decent cup of tea.
Just over 5 hours later I was sat, alone, on a coach watching the Mallorcan countryside zip by as we headed to the airport. There were 7 of us on this holiday; Sarah and Becca sat together at the front, and the other four paired off, so I walked halfway down the coach, found a seat, plugged in my head phones and let Paint It Black, OFF!, John Henry Holiday and No For An Answer drown everything else out.

There was some new music waiting for me on our return home. My friend Izumi had sent me two records released by Goodwill Records in Italy, both 7”s, one a split between Signs Of Hope and Carry The Torch, the other an EP by The Headliners. I haven’t yet had a chance to play them, but I’m looking forward to giving them a listen and reviewing them for the new SD.
I also received the new Doggy Style CD. I have given this a quick listen, although not all the way through. It sounds ok, I think, but I’m not sure about some of the lyrics. Again, I’ll review for the zine, so will give it a proper listen soon.
In another package, I got four CDs; Margate and Super Happy Fun Club play radio friendly punk(ish) stuff with rock leanings that just leaves me cold and Huron play metal. I only made it through one Huron track before pressing STOP and deciding to find someone else to review it. As soon as I heard the fourth CD I thought of Si, so I’ve already sent it to him to review.

While I was away, Alex at Grave Mistake Records emailed to say he was sending a copy of the new Night Birds album for review. I am so excited, I’d have bought it anyway, but to get sent it is really cool and I’m very grateful. I can’t wait for it to arrive, and I’ve booked time off work to go and see them when they hit the UK later this month.

I’m currently listening to Punch, and I’m liking it. I don’t usually like screeched vocals, but there is something about this band that hooks me in. Maybe it’s because at times they throw some hook laden bits into their songs that cuts through the ear splitting thrash; or maybe it’s because of their lyrics? I don’t know but listening to them makes me feel good about who I am and the life choices I’ve made; that sounds weird, even to me, but it’s true. Something about Punch makes being into and writing about punk rock at the age of 45 seem like exactly the sort of thing I should be doing. I don’t know why they appeal to me the way they do, I don’t think it’s the X’s on their hands, I may not drink or all that stuff, but I’ve never really thought of my self as “straight edge”, so maybe it’s a vegan thing? Anyway, hopefully my buddy Andy Nelson can pick up a copy of their new 7” for me, that would make me happy.