Tuesday, December 29, 2015

'The only way to hear the noise is when it's good and loud...'

Lemmy. The very word itself is synonymous with rock 'n' roll excess. I first saw Motorhead in 1978 around the time of their first album and they were utterly unlike any other group that I'd heard - I saw them quite a few times over the next 30-odd years and that description still held true. Here they are in 1980 with Fast Eddie on guitar and Filthy Phil on drums, although in many ways it could have been filmed at any time during their reigh of terror. The word 'legend' gets overused these days but it definitely applies to Lemmy and indeed Motorhead doesn't it? It's sad to see him go.

In the meantime here we are in that weird bit between Christmas and New Year - shouldn't I be doing something? Anything?

This is my first bit of time off in ages. Ages. Well it feels like it is anyway - after three-odd months of Ruts D.C. gigs interspersed with local shows and working in the shop having a few days with nothing definite to do feels like something of an unexpected luxury. To this end I've got Columbo on the telly as I write this ('Murder By The Book' since you were wondering, a very good and if I'm honest somewhat distracting episode!) and no real plan for the rest of the day. It's been a while since I've been in this position.

There have been a few gigs since the last entry in these hallowed pages, the first of which saw Big Al Reed and The Blistering Buicks visit The Dolphin in Uxbridge. It being the Friday before Christmas no one was really sure how many people would be in attendance, and as Noel the guv'nor uttered the words 'you might as well go on now as I don't think it'll get any better' it seemed that our worst fears were realised. Our first set was witnessed by a handful of people at best, and as we began our second set nothing had changed - however about halfway through the place suddenly filled up, to such an extent that Noel asked us to play a third set which saw some very, er, interesting scenes on the dance floor and an end to our evening that couldn't have been more different to the beginning.
There was more from Big Al and the boys on Wednesday at The Sunningdale Lounge in Sunningdale and The Three Steps in Cowley on Christmas Eve. The first night was something of a party for Al who knows quite a few people in the area and who had invited pretty much all of them along. As far as I can tell they all turned up, which made for a suitably lively show although the next night might just have eclipsed it in the (in)sanity stakes. With keyboard king Chris away visiting family we considered song options well, although still somehow encored with 'Delilah' which usually has a piano intro - I managed to play something like it but I don't think that it would have impressed a keyboard player. The same line-up then played an afternoon show at The Horns in Watford on Boxing Day while in the evening The Upper Cut played The Dolphin for what I think is the fourth year running. When we arrived at The Horns it was pretty much empty and although there were a few in by the time we started at half past four it was probably the quietest that I'd seen the venue. Still it's a great place to play and we gave a good show with Al on form and the band all playing well. The Upper Cut gig went well too although again there wasn't too many people there when we started. Still the place filled up and despite the fact that I personally thought that we perhaps didn't play as well as we could have we were rebooked for next December 26th so I guess we must have done something right. 

And Ruts D.C. began work on our new album 'Psychic Attack' in Perry Vale Studios with engineer Pat Collier and producer James KnightThe sessions went inordinately well and as is customary I made some scribbly notes - since I appear to have a bit of time on my hands at the moment (!) I'll do my best to get them typed up here in the next few days. In the meantime Columbo is hassling the bad guy as only he can, although I can't help thinking that it might be time to listen to 'No Sleep 'til Hammersmith'...

Monday, December 14, 2015

'Monday I have Friday on my mind...'

I've just bought myself the new Bruce Springsteen box set 'The Ties That Bind'. It's a whopping 4 CD / 3 DVD collection that tells the story (or at least as much of it as The Boss wants us to know) of the sessions for what became 'The River', and from what I can tell so far it's absolutely amazing. The live show from Tempe in 1980 is playing in the background at the moment and is making it very difficulty to concentrate on this blogging lark - I saw the band in this tour a few months after this show and can honestly say that it changed my life. It's still probably that greatest live show that I've ever seen, and I've been lucky, I've seen some very good live shows. I must find some time to watch and indeed listen to all all 'properly' one day...

'Twas a roaringly good night on Friday, when your humble narrator journeyed up to The Academy in Islington to see The U.K. Subs supported by The Ramonas. I met up with ex - Jim Jones Revue guitarslinger Rupert Orton before the show (he doesn't drink so was having a green tea in the local Pret a Manger!) for a catch up before getting to the venue in time to catch much of The Ramonas show. They were as energetic as ever and went down splendidly well with the rapidly-arriving audience. In the interval there was time to say hello to a Sub or two as well as Darren from Crucial Talent and several audience members, many of whom seemed to be getting involved in the current Ruts D.C. PledgeMusic campaign. Excellent! 

(Incidentally all the relevant campaign information is here if you fancy being part of it. Go on - you know you want to...) 

At 8.45 The U.K. Subs took to the stage to the proverbial hero's welcome and proceeded to blast their way through a set of classics to the general approval of all concerned, although talking to them afterwards I got the feeling that they themselves weren't too happy with it. It's strange - sometimes you can stand on stage and think that it's the worst show that you've ever played while everyone out front thinks that it's brilliant. Ah well - I guess it's better that it's that way around... talking of which on Saturday evening I played with Big Al Reed and The Blistering Buicks for the first time in a while, at The Riverside Club in Staines. After a busy day in Balcony Shirts I don't mind admitting that I was feeling rather tired (nothing to do with drinking with various Subs and Ramonas, honest!) and I didn't feel as though I played well, although everyone assured me that it was all sounding good. Then again a chap came up to me afterwards with the words 'has my wife heard of you? She thinks that she might have heard of you, has she heard of you?' I thought that he meant the band as Al had introduced everyone at the end of the show as he often does but no, he meant me 'not the rest of them'. I didn't really know what to say so I just said something like 'I doubt that she has' and attempted a cheery smile. 'Oh' said the chap in a rather disgruntled manner, before walking off with the words 'So she hasn't heard of you then Oh well... anyway, you were too loud'. A strange evening, although the next day more than made up for it as I spent much of it going through songs for the afore-mentioned new Ruts D.C. album with producer James Knight. A very productive few hours saw us drink coffee, make notes and generally rant and rave about how great the album is going to be. I also got to play a 1913 Martin parlour guitar that used to belong to Peggy Seeger and Kirsty MacColl's Gibson Dove. How cool is that? But now the work really begins - we're rehearsing all day tomorrow and Friday, then recording on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. There's lots to do, but I'm really - make that really - no, REALLY looking forward to it...

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

'...like the moon, and the stars, and the sun...'

Ruts D.C.'s 'Psychic Attack Tour 2015' ended last week with five 'Beautiful Nights' shows in Southend, Reading, Doncaster, Wolverhampton and Blackpool with The Levellers and Dreadzone. And what shows they were my friends, what shows they were. I don't think there was a moment of them that I didn't enjoy. No, really. Ok that might be a bit fanciful, but you know what I mean I think. As is customary I made notes as I went along - these have been added to the seemingly interminable scribble from the other 35 shows, and one day I'll get around to writing them up here. Probably.

Now it's back to basics - gigging with Big Al Reed and The Blistering Buicks and The Upper Cut, working in Balcony Shirts, trying to get on course for Christmas - except that it's not. I've got to do all of those things and more, but Ruts D.C. have a new album to make. We've been working on some of the songs today, and start recording next week. Good.

In the meantime 35 years ago today John Lennon was shot dead in New York. I reflected on the 30th anniversary in these hallowed pages 5 years ago (fairly obviously!) which you can read here if you like, and you can click here for a clip of the great man performing 'Instant Karma!' on 'Top Of The Pops'. Go Johnny go... we all shine on...