KING’S X: live

KING’S X @ BRISTOL BIERKELLER, 12/6/2017

JE-RRY, JE-RRY, JE-RRY, JE-RRY…

Before a note is even struck, a chant goes out to the drummer. Jerry Gaskill points to his heart and checks that’s what everyone meant, thanks the crowd for asking and gives the OK that yes, he’s healthy now – and with that, we are ON: Groove Machine and The World Around Me. The applause after those two tracks is so encore-rapturous that you’d swear it was the last track of the last gig of a stadium sellout tour, not the start of a small gig in a small room. There’s a tidal wave of UK love pushing forth and it’s Pinnick Tabor Gaskill getting swamped

because fuuuuuuuck!!!! It’s King’s X, in person, RIGHT THERE just a few feet away. Why the exaltation? Pure magic in a three-piece, as any fan with their own tale will tell you. Gretchen Goes to Nebraska sits between the Badlands debut and Testament’s Practice What You Preach in my record collection … class of 1989. At some point that year, the 15/16-year-old me bought Badlands, King’s X and Testament – in that order – with Out of the Silent Planet very much not far behind, so Nebraska ’89 is where the path to the Bierkeller started: 28 years of King’s X and now, finally, a live X-perience. No wonder we’ve got the feelgood jitters, this is a borderline mythical event. Three hours earlier, doing a non-native’s scope for the gig’s location, The World Around Me snuck out from behind closed ‘keller doors.

Soundcheck. OMG. Dug Pinnick, Ty Tabor and Jerry Gaskill are IN there.

But because I didn’t see them, I still didn’t know for sure if they were real.

Back to the gig, they look real enough, but it’s only when they don’t disappear in a puff of Tex dust after those first two songs that the convincing is complete. Pillow, Flies and Blue Skies, A Box, Black Flag, Lost in Germany, Cigarettes, Pray and a hard-rocking Looking for Love are among the King’s X/Dogman/Ear Candy-heavy setlist, with Vegetable‘s taut funk shapes stretching to a long-form Moonlight jam. Dug opts out of some choruses because he’s too old and can’t sing that high anymore (his words, not mine), handing vocal duties to the punters making up the Unofficial Bierkeller King’s X Choir, but he’s still got it. Just not going for the young Doug’s gospel gymnastics of the early days.

Two-thirds of the way through and a minor fret flashes by: we’ve had nothing from the first three albums. Should we be worried? Are they now the band’s Stairway?

No. Righteous Gretchen double-up Summerland and Over My Head swell the joint, while KXprog stopstarter We Were Born to be Loved is the only track from Faith, Hope, Love – didn’t see that one coming, would have bet on It’s Love – and it’s unexpectedness turns it into a real highlight with an even more prolonged false-ender than on the record.

The encore? Dogman – beyond words, obvs – and Goldilox, which is part Dug-crowd a cappella, part full-band. Sweet. And Ty Tabor gets a last-minute mention because that guy was fucking flawless throughout, a real master. The solos in Flies and Blue Skies and Cigarettes were all-time Gig Moments.

So, it is done – King’s X have been seen and I make no apologies for the bias in this review, it’s been a long time coming. Heavy soul with free-flowing uplift, just like the records, and needed now more than ever. Get there if you can, keep spreading the word. 

 

King's X Dogman CD spine

To be the dogman….

SUPERSHIT 666: eponymous

GINGER’S MUTATION AND OTHER NOISE

With the CD release of Mutation III: Dark Black just around the corner (Error 500 review right here, if you fancy it), why not revisit one of Ginger Wildheart’s other noisier projects – the mightily unwashed Supershit 666?

*****

Plug it in, turn it up, PLAY IT LOUD… sounds corny, but sometimes the old ones are the best, and Supershit 666 – a one-night stand between the Wildhearts, Hellacopters and Backyard Babies in 1999 – is straight out of the old school. No acoustic guitars, no ambient interludes, no clever clever chord progressions… for those afraid to rock, we refuse you. Everyone else can crack open the 6-track and get drunk on a super-strength supershit audio brew, because if there’s one spirit that truly fuels the EP, it’s this:

Motorhead.

Whether it’s the relentless (We Are) The Road Crew loco-motion of Fast One, Dangermind‘s greased-up shimmy or even the scattering of Fast Eddie licks, the Motorspirit is inescapable. Add the fact that Wildhearts mainman Ginger is pretty much incapable of penning a tune without a whale-sized hook and you KNOW these thick, superheavy punk ‘n’ roll anthems are gonna stick around like dried-in cornflakes on the Bowl of the Great Unwashed. Forget the sugar coating, though – these toons are caked with peaking distortion for your over-amplified listening satisfaction.

Supershit666 CD

The real shit

First track, Wire Out, skips any idea of a warm-up for the EP – feedback, drums, BANG, straight in. And once the half-baked harmonica rips out of nowhere to spar with some equally half-baked guitar, resistance is officially futile ‘coz if all that doesn’t flip your riot switch, nothing will. It’s that kind of record. Live for the moment.

Maybe I’ll sleep tomorrow maybe, a million miles an hour baby…”  Wire Out

Fast One does what it sez, screaming towards blowouts and false endings, while the next three tracks – Dangermind, You Smell Canadian (is it really a Devin Townsend reference?) and Star War Jr – cop a distant feel of the Wildhearts at their Earth vs… best. Then it’s back to raw, booze-fuelled basics as the ‘shit close their 18-minutes with the none-more-apt Crank It Up! by The Rods.

Shortsharpfastloudrockandroll KICKS. Get yours, route 666.


(review first posted on Julian Cope’s Head Heritage site a few years back)

MILES OF ECHO: Chris Cornell

INTO THE VOID… NO SUCH THING

Face Pollution. Played on the radio this morning by Mary Anne Hobbs… emotional stuff, can’t explain why this one did it. Other Soundgarden tracks have been played in the two days since we heard the news, and Chris Cornell has been an ever-present thought. Not every track affects you, but the fact that one of them – any of them – pulls out a physical response tells you that yes, this band or artist is one of the ones that really matters. You knew that anyway. But a shock loss means you know it in a different way now.

Soundgarden. A truly rare band, a truly SPECIAL band, and if you got them…well, they got you, and this is why we’re all a little fucking knocked this week. Chris Cornell died?

The music that that band made was almost too good. By far the most inventive of the scene they sparked, their records are flawless, beguiling, hypnotic and untouchable. Loud Love was my first exposure, when the video was on Raw Power (legendary small-hours TV, aka Power Hour/Raw Power/Raw/Noisy Mothers) and its sticky, gluey, dank heaviness part-crawled/part-raged from the screen. It was a new sound. Louder Than Love became the initiation record, and that’s when the Soundgarden fandom started, some 27 years ago. No wonder Face Pollution did a bit of a number on me this morning.

But this week, it’s been the less familiar and the non-Soundgarden that’s crept into play as a tribute. Music that’s a little less long-standing as far as personal music history goes  Echo of Miles, Cornell’s Carry On, Audioslave’s Revelations  but, having said that, here are two exceptional tracks that DO go way back….one familiar, one maybe less so:

Nowhere But You: this B-side from the Can’t Change Me single says everything about Cornell the musician, songwriter, lyricist and arranger, playing with a painter’s vision. Stripped, haunting, intense – hear it here.

Seasons: from the Singles soundtrack (expanded 25th anniversary version out yesterday… timing?). Remind yourself, and while you’re at it, marvel again at both voice and band in Soundgarden’s Birth Ritual.

Check BBC 6 Music for Cornell specials at 1am and at 6pm (Tom Robinson Mow Playing) on Sunday 21st May, #Cornell6Music 

Not much more to say, still blindsided by the strangeness of it all but let’s hope, for the sake of Cornell’s family, that his departure was accidental. It seems hard to believe there was clear-minded intent. 

The last words go to Perry Farrell, who said it best:

“A shining voice in music has left us in the midnight. He was a complex and gentle soul #ChrisCornell has flown into the black hole sun”

A shining voice in music. Damn right.

Soundgarden: Hyde Park 2014

Superunknown in full: Hyde Park 2014

image from everyrecordtellsastory

RSD Q: record store daze

APRIL REWIND: THE FOOL’S GOLD, RECORD STORE DAY 10 AND A PRINCELY SHRED

New sounds

Seeing OHHMS in Oxford was a shorter and more pumped gig than their Bloom and Cold EPs indicated. A Terrorizer interview explains the former – they don’t do long sets, they don’t think doom should bore the audience – and debut album The Fool, just released on Holy Roar Records, explains the latter ‘coz its six-track 60-minute offering is anything but mono-paced yawn-outs. Instead, it fires off some higher-plane Neurosis rage BUT, crucially, does it less sombrely… OHHMS got more r.o.k., more of that mid-era Pelican thickness going on, maybe even a touch of long-lost Acrimony. Much promise in these long Fool forms. OHHMenS is good.

RSD 10

Record Store Day came and went, fast as a stylus slide down a run-out groove. Oxford’s Truck Store gave advance notice of a queuing system for the RSD section of the shop – monitored, controlled, keeping it fair, you get the idea. Nothing objectionable in that, no doubt there are many other shops that have to do the same on Vinyl Vulture Day, but when you actually roll up late morning, long after the whoreds, and find a queuing system in place… it sucks fat logs. IT’S HALF PAST ELEVEN ffs, no buzz out here no more. The over-excitables lining up round dawn’s crack to score some designer V have long gone, replaced by the second/third/fourth wave of music punters and/or dullard moany bastards (me, it seems) who want to buy something, RSD or not, on this day in this shop to do a timely little summat for the deeper cause – independent music retail.

And we’re queuing. To get into a shop that is, literally, half empty. Right… F-RSD for now, let’s just hit the Regular Joe section and yes, very happy to see the new OHHMS CD in the racks. Nice one #1. Nice one #2 is when the queue system dissolves, some sort of record shop normality returns  access for all  and we get to have an unscripted, unmonitored free-form browse. 

The best bit isn’t the limiteds and the special eds, though. It’s the unexpected box of reductions on regular records (cheers Truck) and before I could stop it, SunnO)))’s Kannon – a long-time list dweller – slow-burned my eyes with a bargain £12 tag: an Official Find, a pound per inch. THIS is what RSD needs to do more of: give every physical-format music fan a reason to visit the shop and pick something up. Right now, CD buyers get shit-jack from the whole shebang, yet probably do more than anyone to keep these shops alive.

RSD weekend bargain

RSD bargain: very rare

So, it was a day of two sides. Side A – the RSD edit – was forgettable and a bit shit. Side B – the deconstruction mix – was a gem. More Bs, please. How was your day?

APRIL ANNIVERSARIES

Iggy completed his seventh decade. Prince turned 57 and one year. Plenty of options for celebrating their lives and music, but for a radio programme with a deep purple (not that one) twist, Bobby Friction’s tribute on 6Music is a pretty good shot at it. And if, by some freak time management occurrence, you’ve only got four and a half minutes to give then give ’em to the very last track – Whole Lotta Love, live, Prince Rogers Nelson style. Six string s-excess, and no, of course it ain’t faithful.

’til next time!

 

 

 

At David & i

BOWIE PHOTOGRAPHER EXHIBITS IN NORTH OXFORD. MINI PROPS A BONUS

Managed to get a ticket to the Oxford showing of the David & i exhibition, which was on Wednesday night.

Which David?

Bowie, of course. Which i?

That’ll be Denis O’Regan, David Bowie’s official photographer for around ten years through the 80s and you WILL have seen some of his pics, no question. The blonde years, the megastar years, the critically revered… OK, but by capturing the Serious Moonlight and Glass Spider tours, O’Regan definitely got BOWIE: THE HEALTHY YEARS on film. And to see 40 such images – all approved by Bowie – is to Watch That Man and celebrate his life, regardless of era.

davidandi brochure 1

Catalogue and Melbourne Carousel, 1983

How has this happening come about? Promoted by Off Beat Lounge, the David & i exhibition has been out on tour visiting select Mini-supported locations, ie Mini showrooms. Funny that. Works well though, nice and light with all those showroom windows.

Bowie and green Mini

How did that happen? Bowie test drives Mini

In the Q&A session at the start of the night, O’Regan said that it was seeing Ziggy Stardust that made him want to be a photographer. A few years later, he was taking pics of the punk bands – easy access, no Rock Star Barriers – and got a job with the NME, and the first official photos he took of Bowie were up in Newcastle City Hall in 1978. He somehow wound up being official photographer on the Serious Moonlight tour a few years later.

Some gig, eh?

Other mini (sorry) nuggets from David & i:

  • O’Regan hates heights and categorically won’t do photography from up yonder scaffold, but is fine in a helicopter without doors (he can’t explain it either).
  • Bowie would try any food.
  • O’Regan would dispose of hundreds of images that Bowie never even saw. When asked one day – by Bowie – about what happened to them, Denis said he just put them in the bin. In his hotel room. Got a major tom-bollocking for that one.
  • The last photos he took of Bowie were in 1994 (I think), when Bowie had a tiny tiny beard. He didn’t say if it was the beard wot ended it, though.

So, even though the O’Regan prints are well out of reach – need a few hundred quid to make that leap, hallo spaceboy – it was a pretty cool thing for a Bowie fan to wander around and get immersed in for an evening. Go along next time there’s one going.

links:

 

 

 

MELVINS: Stag

Houdini: the pinnacle of 90s Melvins … poke about the reviews and it always bags the biggest marks, topping many a most recommended pile – Houdini’s the one everyone seems to know about, it’s the one that’s got Kurt Cobain on it (a big deal at the time), and it’s the one that the band played in full for their Don’t Look Back gig in 2005, so maybe it’s me who’s missing some sort of point somewhere BUT … great though it is, Houdini* ain’t the album that best captures Melvins’ absurd beauty and ugly brilliance.

Stag is.

Melvins Stag CD

Stag: uncovered

Stag throws up EVERYTHING the Melvins are capable of, and that’s why it’s the place to get inside – or at least, get us non-Melvins yoomans somewhere close to – the scattershot strangeness/normalised weirdness pervading their inscrutable heads. Trippy, rocking, perverse, ambient, playful and all-out terrifying, Stag is wildly experimental without being tedious or pisstakingly relentless. Listen to Stag and every direction Melvins ever took starts to make sense, and this may be, paradoxically, because the album is less beholden to the Melvins’ key identifier til that point: the Buzz Riff. They’re in there, twistedly precise as ever, but to reach Melvins’ sustained heights of heavy quirk, you need more than riffs: you need imagination, freedom and fuck-you, and Stag is where all of that behind-the-eyes odderness explodes from the off.

First track The Bit is one of the best Melvins tracks ever, no question: sitar intro meets full-blown mother of a riff, it pounds you to the spot. It’s big – maybe bigger than any Melvins before it. Not because it’s longer or louder, but because it’s FULLER, and it’s this fullness that makes The Bit – and Stag – a mandatory Mel trip.

After a lysergic interlude (Hide) that’s rooted in Stoner Witch (Shevil), we crash on Bar-X-The Rocking-M, a reckless burst of trumpet (yes!!!) and turntable (???) shot through with Tool-esque hush n’ calm. Nothing like Yacob’s Lab – ambient – and The Bloat – stoner slider groover – that follow, and by now we know that, on Stag, anything goes. Every single one of the 16 tracks is unlike any other on the album**, so they are all highlights – here are a few, grouped into shitly-named (by me) categories.

Rock Hard Stag

AKA megawatt amplification and guitar Buzz. Buck Owens does freewheeling juggernaut clatter, Captain Pungent rocks the off beats into a seamless flow into Berthas, which burns a tight 70s 12-bar in your addled mey gratter, and remember we have The Bit and Bar-X front-loading the show. No shortage of rock hardy on Stag.

Quiet/Goof Stag

You want a minute and a half of bubbling liquid? That’s Soup. Lilting dreaminess? Black Bok. Back-porch railtrack blues? Cottonmouth. Chipmunks on a fuck-knows? Skin Horse. No, you couldn’t make it up … except, they did (but how?).

Ugly in the Morning Stag

You want a minute and a half of bubbling liquid? That’s Soup. OK, we just filed it as a quiet/goof job but the fact that it’s served up straight after Goggles curdles the appeal somewhat, and that’s coz Goggles IS fucking terrifying – slo-core noise by a serial killer’s house band, feat. Fudgetunnel’s Alex Newport on skin-peeling production. Says it all. Later on: Sterilized, a dank hellmare of pre-torture warm-up music, and Lacrimosa‘s slow Melv-o creep fest.

All of this experimentation means that Stag isn’t the album that most represents a Melvins sound – if such a thing exists – but it surely is the album that most represents THEM, as a band. Dale Crover makes the space to loom large – The Bloat, Tipping the Lion, Buck Owens – and the record points to any stage, phase or whim of the band’s career, like a Plus One companion for any Melvins album you’ll ever play.

The band got dropped by Atlantic after Stag, making it the last of their major-label years – some reward for such a kaleidoscopic splat of psychedelic greatness, eh? But it’s hard to imagine Melvins giving a fuck. 21 years later, most of them on Ipecac, they’re as prolific and  uncompromising as ever, and the list of artists indebted to their stubborn genius is longer than ever. Me, I gotta thank Stag for a mind-opening induction to Melvins world and to what rock bands can do if they’ve got the vision. It’s a Lifer, this one.

Melvins without limits.

 

* Hooch, Night Goat, Honey Bucket, Teet et al are diamonds for sure, but there’s a reason why Houdini is the third favourite of the three Atlantic albums: Spread Eagle Beagle. Has anyone played Houdini and actually looked forward to hearing this nine-minute momentum bummer at the end, peterin’ out the album’s singular rock vibe? Surely no. Stoner Witch hangs together much better – Revolve and Roadbull, fucking HELL – and the syrupy ambience of Shevil hints at Stag’s many outer limits.

** Butthole Surfers’ Independent Worm Saloon is another oddballin’ major label beaut from that era. Musically more focused than what went before, Inde Worm Sal bends any number of styles into its 17 tracks. Produced by John Paul Jones, released 1993 on Capitol, always worth a revisit.

Stag: essential Melvins

Stag: essential Melvins

JIZZY PEARL / LOVE/HATE: LIVE

JIZZY PEARL / LOVE/HATE @THE BULLINGDON, OXFORD, 01/04/2017

“It’s the last night of the tour, we’re celebrating 25 years of Wasted in America and yes, I have just stepped out of a fucking time machine…

Jizzy Pearl, a trim and very-much-alive star from LA’s post-glam pre-grunge early 90s, owns a voice that, along with bassist Skid’s artwork and drugs-booze-blackout lyrics, marked Love/Hate out as one of the bands of the time, and those first two albums are scuffed gems to this day. Much like our very own Wildhearts, Love/Hate were too colourful, shambolic and decadent to compete with the rising Seattle star, and that meant they were doomed to be botched by bad timing (and in-band fuck ups, of course). 1992 was Nevermindasupernova. Love/Hate looked like they were having fun. And they were from LA. It could never really last, and it didn’t, but the records really do.

Love/Hate sleeve

LA ’92: Wasted

 

Now it’s April Fools’ Day 2017, the Budweiser cross of cans has graced the stage and we’re straight in to Wasted in America (the album) with Wasted in America (the track). Spit and Miss America follow, and it’s shaping up to be a straight runthrough of the record – ’tis an anniversary after all. Cream to Yucca Man to Happy Hour next?

Not quite. Somewhere during side 1, we get spun off the wasted trail with a couple of blackouts – Tumbleweed and Fuel to Run – before skidding back to the main deal for Cream and Yucca Man. Good move, mixing it like that. Makes the in-its-entirety album thing feel more alive, gig-like and less predictable, and it means that we get aces like Mary Jane, Why Do You Think They Call It Dope? and Let’s Rumble’s sleaze-o Spinning Wheel cut in to the Wasted plot. Serve up a little Blackout in the Red Room after WiA’s closing Evil Twin and we’ve been privy to the full album topped up by Love/Hate’s best others. Jizzy’s voice is, somehow, still a forceful top-ender at 59 years (59!!!) and he seems genuinely moved by tonight’s word-perfect crowd. Well, we love the record, simple as that.

For the encore, JP gives us a choice: either the first side of Rush’s 2112 OR Straightjacket…

(clue: Canada lose)

You never really know with these anniversary/whole album gigs whether they’re gonna work or not, but this one came from the right place a real feelgood celebration of a rekkid of youth, the stuff that’s burned waaaaay down inside…you can’t undo that. It’s in there for life. And when a band decides to uncork that genie, they gotta do it with a record that’s got the tunes, and Wasted in America has no wobbles in that department. If the title track is all you can salvage from a hazy quarter-century recall, dig out the deeper cuts and you’ll see that the album rocks harder than its lead track. Need pointers? Yucca Man, the disorienting Happy Hour and Jizzy-showcase Tranquilizer are a three-way sure shot.

Blackout, Wasted and Rumble albums on replay since the gig. Love/Hate earworms non-stop buzzing

buzzin’ like a bumble bee, TRANQUI-LI-ZER