Archive | July, 2016

The Bevis Frond – New River Head, Any Gas Faster and London Stone Reissues

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The Bevis Frond – New River Head, Any Gas Faster and London Stone Reissues

Posted on 18 July 2016 by John Haylock

Frank Zappa 31, Jimi Hendrix 25, The Fall 19, with The Bevis Frond and XTC on equal footing with 13. These are the current high scorers in my CD collection. It’s probably a bloke thing but I also clean them regularly with a damp cloth, and when I get a free cover mounted CD like on the cover of Mojo magazine I replace the old jewel case with that shiny new one…and you’ll not be surprised that i put them in alphabetical order as well.

Hailing from the suburbs of London The Bevis Frond’s long haired focal point Nick Saloman is something of a cult figure in music. He plays live rarely and seems to wish to keep a low profile, despite almost single handedly releasing over three decades worth of fascinating recorded work.

Lethal combinations of extraordinarily, wild heavy psychedelic blues and blistering full on rock dominates the back catalogue but there’s plenty of room for gentle acoustic reveries and jangly power pop. He is the languid lord of lo fi, and probably the best guitarist you’ve never heard of.

Fire Records reissue of his back catalogue continues this month with three more chronologically correct titles from Saloman’s rainbow imagination. This time we’ve landed in his late 1980s, early 1990s period.

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Any Gas Faster (1989) is his fourth full album proper, with Nick playing everything apart from the drums; Martin Crowley has that honour.  As we’ve come to expect from Salomon this contains much that is brutal, in particular Eyes In The Back Of My Head, Olde Worlde, ‘Head On A Pole, as well as much guitar riffery on tracks Lord Plentiful Reflects, Ear Song and Then You Wanted Me.

There are hordes of brilliant guitarists out there such as Joe Satriani and Steve Vai who often sacrifice emotion for extraordinary technique and bombast. But for all their flashy showmanship they lack the guttural impact of someone like Saloman. This is where Nick trumps them, his best solos just ooze with feeling, be that aggressive or full of longing they more often than not hit the target.

Saloman doesn’t take himself too seriously either, which is extremely rare for a guitar hero, his work is littered with self-deprecating lyrical wit and questioning doubt. Many of these earlier albums are also peppered with original film dialogue and old music snippets, which make for a great listen.

New River Head (1990) is considered by many to be one of his finest collections. Originally a sprawling double album it is all over the place stylistically and not unlike Hendrix with amnesia.

It features additional musicians including Cyke Bancroft playing some mean sax especially on the opener White Sun, the folk violinist Barry Dransfield and Bari Watts, who was to become a long-term collaborator. Also present and correct is Adrian Shaw, ex Hawkwind and Arthur Brown bassist.

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I recently found an old interview with Saloman in which he was asked for his favourite solos. Unsurprisingly Jimi Hendrix featured more than once, and one of the tracks mentioned was one of Jimi’s wildest B sides The Stars That Play with Laughing Sam’s Dice (LSD geddit ?)  It’s a complete cacophony, with Jimi doing to the guitar what Captain Beefheart did to the English language on Trout Mask Replica. Saloman’s take on that vibe on New River Head is Solar Marmalade, a ridiculously over the top guitar jam that will test your patience if not your inner ear.

On the other hand, New River Head track Stain On The Sun is a lengthy, mournful yearning, blues epic that remains one of my all time faves. The vocal phrasing is perfect as is the chorus on what is a really nice piece of work. Then we go from the sublime to the ridiculously fast on the track Undertaker, which sounds like a lost punk classic but with Arthur Lee on guitar. Meanwhile, Waving is a brief respite from the whirling rock ‘n’ roll. There are so many reference points on New River Head, it would be awful of me to spoil it for you by mentioning more.

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London Stone (1991) from a year later only confirms what we’ve come to expect, that he’s a prime exponent of six-string wonderment, influenced as much by punk as he is by 1960s freakbeat. Again this is another treasure chest of aural goodies. Opening uncharacteristically with a little jig from fiddler Barry Dransfield it then moves into more familiar, rockier terrain. Coming Around Again, Well Out Of It and the title track pop in for a pint and stay till closing time. It’s a good album but unlike the previous albums lacks a certain spark, to these ears anyway.

All of these current reissues come dressed in replica sleeves with booklets annotated by Nick himself featuring photos and reminiscences and there’s also a plethora of demos and live tracks gracing these three reissues.

by John Haylock

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The Tuts- Let Go Of The Past

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The Tuts- Let Go Of The Past

Posted on 15 July 2016 by Joe

The Tuts, one of our favourite festival acts in recent years, have released this nostalgia-fest of a video for Let Go of the Past, the first single from their upcoming debut album Update Your Brain.

This 12 track collection takes in the band’s usual issues of sexism, love, friendship and politics, and also features versions of live favourites such as Always Hear the Same Shit and Back Up

The trio have set up a PledgeMusic page where you can pre-order the album as well as get hold of a host of other merchandise. Those that pledge also get a free recording of their cover of The Clash classic Rudie Can’t Fail.

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Easy Star All Stars – Rescue Rooms, Nottingham (July 6, 2016)

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Easy Star All Stars – Rescue Rooms, Nottingham (July 6, 2016)

Posted on 11 July 2016 by Joe

Theoretically it shouldn’t work, some of the pop world’s most era defining, critically acclaimed albums covered by a reggae collective from the environs of New York. No way is that ever gonna work. Radical reworkings of complex multi-layered songs re-imagined in a laid back chilled vibe would surely be folly, or at least a major own goal.

Easy All Stars

Easy Star All Stars

But this ever evolving line up of musicians and guests, going by the name of Easy Star All Stars, have been proving naysayers repeatedly wrong with their tremendously entertaining covers of classic albums such as Sgt Pepper, Dark Side of the Moon, Ok Computer and most recently Thriller.

Tonight’s show was billed as Radiodread, so I was naturally expecting the full on Radiohead set, but it transpired this was a greatest hits package covering all their back catalogue.

The band themselves are full of character. There’s the towering looming figure of Shelton Garner Jnr on lead guitar, one minute quietly playing rhythm, next tearing up the place with some searing solo as on Pink Floyd’s Time.

There’s a devastating duo horn section who literally blow us all away. The fantastically named Ras I Ray on bass is a wonderfully sensuous bass machine of a man laying down constant earthquake threatening lines. Meanwhile, a drummer and keyboardist keep up the rock steady rhythm in fine styleee.

But the focal points are Kirsty Rock on glamourous vocals and some sweet harmony, and the immensely likeable Ruff Scott, also on vocals as well as rapping and general encouraging the crowd to go nuts duties.

They are as likeable a bunch of folks you would ever wish to meet and their enthusiasm is contagious.

The set mixed it all up, from a surreal version of the Beatles’ Lovely Rita to a sublime take on Michael Jackson Beat It. Pink Floyd’s Money proved to be a great singalong and the Radiohead material, especially Paranoid Android, Electioneering and High and Dry (which by the way was some kind of genius), were transformed into something strange, otherwordly and affecting. Breathe and Time by Floyd were re-landscaped to play with your head and your dance moves.

For the encore they invited Ben Willis, one of  the vocalists from tonight’s very fine support band Shanty to come back and join them for a version of Karma Police, it was needless to say utterly brilliant.

These guys are no mere novelty act, they genuinely love the music they cover, it’s just a bonus that they are incredible musicians with big personalities in their own right.

The assembled brethren at Rescue Rooms tonight experienced a beautiful thing and acknowledged the fact by dancing till the cows came home, well, half past ten anyway.

Go see them, it’ll be the most fun you’ve had since it stopped raining at Glastonbury. Please come back soon guys, we need something to cheer us up in these austere times.

Words by John Haylock, pictures by Arthur Hughes

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