Saturday, 25 February 2017

CHILLI WILLI AND THE RED HOT PEPPERS - REAL SHARP (Proper Records 2 x CD).

From the early 70s Camden freak scene wing of Pub Rock, Chilli Willi and the Red Hot Peppers had a short career that closely mirrors that of Pub Rock legends Brinsley Schwarz………………both bands played unfashionable, unpretentious Country Rock in a Britian dominated by Prog and post psychedelic heavy Rock, retreating to the pubs to find an audience, both hardworking and hardgigging racking up the miles and the amount of shows played and both bands having a direct connection to the formation of Stiff Records. However, while the Brinsley’s now have cult status as a massively influential band, the Chilli’s have been near forgotten and are a mere footnote in the history of 70s British music. Originally a duo of guitarist Martin Stone and multi-instrumentalist Phil “Snakefinger” Lithman, who both had an impressive Psychedelic Rock pedigree……………….Stone had been a member of 60s Freakbeat/Psych Pop band The Action who morphed into the acid fried, couldda been contenders, Mighty Baby while Lithman had relocated to San Francisco in the early 70s and became part of The Residents inner-circle, later becoming a more permanent member following the demise of the Chilli’s………The band expanded to a five piece for live work bringing on board Paul “Diceman” Bailey (banjo, sax, guitar), Paul “Bassman” Riley (….errr….bass) and forthcoming Attractions drummer Pete Thomas. What they may of lacked in the Brinsley’s ear for a tune and the songwriting smarts of Ian Gomm/Nick Lowe, Chilli Willi and the Red Hot Peppers made up for it in spades with sheer musical ability and could comfortably go toe to toe with the best American Cosmic Country bands of the era. By 1975 it was all over…….following the Naughty Rhythms package tour which made stars of Dr. Feelgood and also included one of the finest British Funk/Soul bands of the 70s, Kokomo, the Chilli’s split and in the 40 years since slowly faded into obscurity. It’s about time that this great band are brought to a wider audience………….Proper Records have put together Real Sharp, a beautifully packaged anthology on 2 CDs which has included most of the Chilli’s recordings that they made in their short three year lifespan. Both their studio albums, Kings Of The Robot Rhythm and Bongos Over Balham, have been remastered by Paul Riley and are included with demos, live tracks and aborted studio sessions with Mike Nesmith at the controls along with a booklet with full liner notes and the artwork the legendary inkmeister Barney Bubbles provided for posters, merch and album covers.

Released in 1972 by the tiny Revelation label, Kings Of The Robot Rhythm is a predominantly an acoustic album recorded by Stone and Lithman aided and abetted by Nick Lowe, Billy Rankin and Bob Andrews from Brinsley Schwarz on a few of the tracks. Totally out of sync with the rest of the London rock scene at the time it’s a album recorded by a couple of stoner freaks who really dig Cosmic Country Music. Sourced directly from the original master tapes for the very first time it has an authentic lo-fi vibe of the best immaculately stoned late 60s Country Rock. Heavily influenced by rootsy Americana and the gentle vibes of the West Coast it’s a throwback to the stoner hippie Country Rock of bands like Mad River and Gram Parsons/The Byrds/Grateful Dead’s traditional Bluegrass ‘n’ Blues explorations relocated in Camden Town mixing reworked traditional songs with original material. Sparse and evocative, Kings Of The Robot Rhythm features mesmerizing guitar interplay between Stone and Lithman, tracks such as ‘Astrella From The Astral Planet’ and ‘The Ballad Of Chilli Willi’ are straight outta S.F. circa 69 while elsewhere they take a affectionate dig at the Country Rock cliches with ‘Drunken Sunken Red Neck Blues’ and ‘Nashville Rag’. The strongest song on the album is the stripped back original version of ‘I’ll Be Home’, a live favourite that appears again in a much fuller form as one of the out-takes from the fractious Mike Nesmith sessions for Bongos Over Balham. The rest of CD1 is taken up with demos recorded by the expanded line up of Chilli Willi and the Red Hot Peppers at the Chalk Farm Studio with many tracks appearing on Bongos Over Balham……….raw and vibrant these tracks are the sound of a band insanely tight from relentless gigging. With a taught, groovy sound not unlike the fantastic 1968/69 line up of The Byrds featuring Clarence White on guitar, the Chilli’s play Country music with Psychedelic flourishes on outstanding tunes such as ‘Friday Song’, ‘Goodbye Nashville (Hello Camden Town)’, ‘Truck Drivin’ Girl’. Two real killer tracks from these sessions are the Quicksilver Messenger Service gone Country ‘Desert Island Girl’ and the bluesy Van Morrison-esque ‘Jungle Song’. The band had also expanded their musical palette and included Trad. Jazz, Doo-Wop and Blues influence on songs such as the classic cover of ‘Choo Choo Ch’Boogie’ and a Chilli’s original ‘I Wanna Love Her So Bad’. These songs were eventually released by Proper records in the mid 90s on the I’ll Be Home album with collected up all the previously unreleased Chilli’s material which is also on this anthology.

CD2 opens with Chilli Willi and the Red Hot Peppers “difficult” second album, the wonderfully titled Bongos Over Balham, that was released by Mooncrest Records in 1974. After starting the album sessions with Mike Nesmith, the album was finally completed by producer Ron Nevison who had previously engineered albums for Led Zeppelin, Bad Company and Thin Lizzy and was in no doubt under instruction from the suits at the label to “make ‘em sound like Brinsley Schwarz”. Full of great songs, mainly from the Chalk Farm Studio sessions, but with the rough edges that made the the tracks so thrilling in the demo recordings smoothed off.........it’s a solid, workmanlike record but ultimately  a little disappointing and was a poor seller. On reflection, this was the same for all of the Pub Rock bands who built their reputation on their live performances……………..non of the bands who put records out saw much success as it was difficult to replicate the live dynamics on album (only Dr. Feelgood ever managed this…….with the live album Stupidity). It was live where the Chilli’s were at their best………….In 1974, Zig Zag editor Andy Childs wrote "The number of English bands who are currently performing and perfecting the many eclectic styles of American music can be counted on the thumb of one hand... they are Chilli Willi and the Red Hot Peppers. To see them live is an experience. Their music melts your heart, invites you to dance and sing along, and when it’s all over, you feel a rush of energy and exhilaration pulsing through your blood…like you don’t quite believe what you’ve heard or seen, so come back and shout for more and you come back and see them again and again." The remaining tracks on the disc are mostly live recordings, some from The Amazing Zig Zag Concert at the Roundhouse in 1974 that celebrated the fifth anniversary of the magazine and a great dirty blooze workout of “Walkin Blues”, featuring Will Stallibrass on harmonica, taken from a Capital Radio session. For fans of late 60s/early 70s tripped out Country Rock such as the Flying Burrito Brothers, Gram Parsons and The Fallen Angels, The Dead, Mad River and the other freaks that went looking for the roots of Cosmic Americana..........and of course Brinsley Schwarz.............. 

It was short, but it was sweet and Chilli Willi and the Red Hot Peppers stuck around long enough to record enough quality tracks to fill two CDs with great music. After the band's breakup, Thomas became the drummer for Elvis Costello's backing band, The Attractions; Riley played with Graham Parker; Bailey formed Bontemps Roulez and Stone played with the Pink Fairies before concentrating on his book business, sadly losing his battle with cancer last year while Lithman moved back to San Francisco where he began to work with his former associates, The Residents, under the name Snakefinger before passing away in 1987 aged only 38. Dedicated to the memory of Martin Stone, Phil Lithman and the late great Barney Bubbles, Real Sharp is out NOW on 2 x CD from all good record shops, on line and directly from Proper Records…………………and still only for the price of a pint and a packet of fags.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

BRINSLEY SCHWARZ - IT’S ALL OVER NOW (Mega Dodo LP, CD, Cassette, D/L).

Originally scheduled for release in 1975, It’s All Over Now  was supposed to be Pub Rock legends Brinsley Schwarz’s commercial breakthrough………….Rescuing their career after the infamous “Brinsley Schwarz Hype” PR disaster, the band had retreated to London’s pubs where they built a solid reputation as one of the best live bands on the circuit playing a mix of good time, self-effacing Rock & Roll, Soul and Country Rock, releasing a handful of well received but commercially disastrous LPs. Despite strong reviews and a dedicated fan base, the Brinsleys never managed to escape cult status, yet they influenced a legion of other artists, creating an underground, back-to-basics movement that laid the foundation for Punk Rock. By 1975, there was a seismic change in the air………….the Pub Rock bands were soon to be swept away by Punk bands and there is sense that Brinsley Schwarz knew a change was coming. The band split up not long after the recording sessions and before the record was due for release, seeing the album binned by United Artists (the album almost made the shops in the 80s but was withdrawn just before release) and it has remained  officially unreleased ever since. The archive diggers at Mega Dodo have rescued this gem of a record, given it a good dusting down and will be releasing the album on vinyl as originally intended with copies also available on CD and, for that proper retro vibe, on cassette.

For fans of the band, It’s All Over Now is an essential purchase……………….the record was recorded with Brinsley Schwarz cohort Dave Edmunds in the producer’s chair and a eye on the American market. The album contains several strong Nick Lowe/Ian Gomm penned songs (including the original version of ‘Cruel To Be Kind’ which was to be a massive hit for Lowe a few years later), a studio version of the live favourite William Bell's ‘Private Number, a groovy instrumental Soul stomper ‘Do The Cod’ and a Reggae version of the Bobby Womack song/Stones big hit ‘It’s All Over Now’………hey, it was 1975 and everybody was doing at least one Reggae influenced cut on their records. The album is effectively Pub Rock’s last stand and harks back to a time in the 70s when rootsy Americana, cod Reggae and blue eyed Soul side to side on the same record was not deemed strange…………………Dr Feelgood had made such a impact on the scene and as Nick Lowe said about the era “When the Pub Rock scene started going downhill, largely due to Dr Feelgood, who were so great they spawned many duff copyists, it was time to move on”. It’s All Over Now is a record of it’s time, how it would have fared if it had been released back in 1975 is anyone guess………………being a Brinsley’s record it would have no doubt died on it’s arse……but it has aged well for being near 40 years old. One to check out for fans of Graham Parker, Elvis Costello and the ton of bands Brinsley Schwarz’s classy blend of no nonsense Rock, Roots and Soul have influenced.

Due for release on 28/04/2017, the album will be available in limited edition orange vinyl (150 copies), black vinyl (350 copies), cassette (50 copies) and CD and should be available from all good record stores……………………check the Mega Dodo website and the usual clued up online stores for info about pre-release orders.


Saturday, 11 February 2017

JODI - POPS DE VANGUARDIA (Out Sider LP, CD, D/L).

Strange things are happening………………….ahead of its time raw and homemade Sixties Garage, Jangle Pop and basement Psych Sounds from South America, circa 1969, brought to you by the Spanish Psych archive diggers Guerssen Records Out Sider imprint. Originally released in 1971 as a private pressing, Pops de Vanguardia by Jodi contains tracks mostly written and recorded in 1969 (with some dating back to 1966) by brothers Joern and Dirk Wenger at their homemade "Jodi Experimental Studio" in Paraguay. Born in Paraguay but of German origin, Joern and Dirk started playing in Beat/Psychedelic band The Rabbits (who released a very rare EP in 1969)……….taking influence from bands such as The Monks, the first two Velvet Underground LPs, The Kinks, English Beat groups and mid–60s American Garage Rock their album was recorded at their own rudimentary studio where they spent hours and hours recording songs and experimenting to create their own sound effects (echo, reverb, etc) with two tape recorders……………..they called their music "Spontaneous Pop". It’s a riot of lo-fi experimentation (where Joern played guitar, organ and was the lead vocalist, while Dirk played drums and percussion) with tracks ranging from ultra–catchy Garage/Pop Sike to killer instrumental Farfisa numbers and proto–Psychedelic sounds.

It’s a raw and chaotic album but Pops De Vanguardia has a certain charm that makes up for it’s technical limitations…………………….had the record been been released 15 years later there would be a very good chance that Jodi could be seen as precursors of the Indie-Pop and lo-fi Garage scene which would appear some decades after these tracks were originally recorded. The best lo–fi Garage album from South America?…………maybe not, but  Pops De Vanguardia is a treasure trove of Garage goodies to keep any stripped to the bone, lo-fi Psych/Garage Rock enthusiast happy. There is some very cool stuff here……… among the Nuggets/Pebbles/Rubble style tunes, ’Onda Suave’(‘Mild Wave’) has the feel of the early Velvet Underground’s poppier moments, ‘Imagen En Rojo’ (‘Red Image’) is a swirling Freak Beat beat freak instrumental and ‘Espíritu Fosforecente’ (‘Glowing Spirit’) is fuzzed out Psych Rock from the bottom of a well. The CD version includes five bonus tracks (dating from 1969-1970), including three fantastic previously unreleased tracks, one track from a rare private EP and the Beat/Fuzz/Psych track ‘Buscándote’ from The Rabbits 1969 EP, Lo Más Nuevo.

Released on vinyl, CD and also available as a digital download, Pops De Vanguardia comes with insert with detailed liner notes in English/Spanish and rare photos. Out NOW on Out Sider Records and available from the usual online Psych/Garage specialists, very far out record shops or alternately directly from the Guerssen Records on line store or their Bandcamp page ( https://guerssenrecords.bandcamp.com/album/pops-de-vanguardia) where you can also stream the album.

CROMWELL - AT THE GALLOP (Got Kinda Lost Records LP, CD, D/L).

New from the Spanish crate diggers Guerssen Records shared imprint Got Kinda Lost is a first time reissue of the only album from little known Irish rockers Cromwell……….a true rarity (fetching upwards of £300 when the original LP does appear) and a little-heard classic in the Pub Rock/fried Rock’n’Roll/proto-Punk terrain. Initially self-released in 1975 by the Drumcondra, Dublin based band, At The Gallop is a blistering, heavy, loud’n’lascivious ten track offering (thirteen in this expanded edition) of Hard Rock infused “street” Rock’n’Roll from a time when Ireland was still under the sway of beloved traditional Irish music, conservative showbands and quasi-religious, sentimental pop pap. A hard gigging, solid Rock ‘n’ Roll band, who’s main claim to fame in their short history was being the support band for Rory Gallagher’s 1972 Irish tour, played a mix of original songs and choice covers that no doubt went down a storm to a beered up Friday night crowd in a smokey, sweaty Dublin pubs and clubs. In all 5 singles along with the one album were released between 1973 - 1975 and this new release includes some bonus tracks from group’s rare singles.

Emerging from the giant shadow cast on the Dublin scene by the greatness of Thin Lizzy, you can’t escape the influence they had on Cromwell’s writing and playing. Several of the songs on At The Gallop have the same Irish essence of the best of Thin Lizzy but lack Phil Lynott’s romantic lyricism and have a rather more unhealthy (by today’s standards) thing about schoolgirls………..tracks such as  ‘Ireland (The Wild One)’, ‘Hoodwinked’, ‘You Got It Made’, the album title track and…….errm……’Guinness Rock’ would not sound out of place on the very early Thin Lizzy Decca releases. Elsewhere there is a nod to the Stonesy raunch of Teenage Head/Flamingo-era Flamin’ Groovies (‘Down On The Town’ and ‘Deal Me In’) and Glam Rock boogie (‘Stomp Stomp Stomp’). It’s a satisfying if unspectacular record but there are two tracks that are worth the price of admission alone………………..a Ian Hunter-esque Mott The Hoople style rock ballad ‘First Day’ and the beautifully mellow acoustic number ‘You Hate It To Turn’ which first surfaced as the b-side of the ‘Guinness Rock’ 45 RPM version, also included here. It’s a record that is certainly of it’s time (both musically and lyrically) but there are enough moments here to keep fans of “classic” rock interested……..especially fans of early Thin Lizzy, 70s Stones and pre-Punk American “Street Rock”.

Including an insert featuring rare photos and in-depth liner notes by Jeremy Cargill (Got Kinda Lost Records / Ugly Things Magazine), At The Gallop by Cromwell is available NOW on vinyl, CD and as a download direct from Kinda Got Lost (for the USA), the Guerssen Records website or their Bandcamp page where you can also stream the album here........

Monday, 6 February 2017

THE SNAILS - DR. ACID (D/L)

This is cool. For 60s Retro freaks, Fuzz heads and Garage Punks, Dr. Acid, the latest release of 14 tracks of sharp, urgent, groovy Garage/Psych from Greek Pebbles/Nuggets enthusiasts The Snails certainly hits the spot. It’s a Paisley Underground flecked mix of Garage Rock stompers and lysergic freak outs that bring to mind the first wave of 80s Neo-Psychedelic bands such as the Chesterfield Kings, the Fuzztones and the Lyres.

There are some great tunes on this record…………………’Burning Boy’ has echoes of the Paisley Underground bands like the Dream Syndicate whereas  ‘A Thousand Miles’ is a Eastern flavoured swirl out. The Snails switch from the light, airy and very groovy tracks like ‘Sunshine’ to the darker, moody fuzz ‘n’ Farfisa numbers such as ‘I’m On Fire’ with ease while the title track is a seriously psychedelic wig out. It’s a record made by a band who really love Garage Rock and the retro vibes seep out of every groove……..well worth a listen.

Available as a download only……………..you can buy/stream Dr. Acid from The Snails Bandcamp site here  https://thesnailsathens.bandcamp.com/album/dr-acid


Saturday, 4 February 2017

MOTHER ISLAND - WET MOON (Go Down Records LP, CD, D/L).

This has been kicking around our psychedelic basement for a couple of months now………it took a while for us to “get it” but now we appreciate the subtleties of this record we have it on almost permanent repeat. Fronted by powerhouse bluesy/jazzy vocalist Anita Formilan, Italian Psych Pop band Mother Island are a strange 60s throwback……………a Garage band fronted by a Blues singer. If we were really lazy we would describe the band as “Amy Winehouse fronting The Doors” but they are far more nuanced than that.

Following their excellent debut  Cosmic Pyre, Mother Island's second album, Wet Moon, marks a turning point in the band's approach to sound and pop compositions. It alternates between  ballads and dark and Psychedelic moments, like the cathartic and liberating 'La Danse Macabre'. Blending ’60s California and Texas with the region's latter day rebels (The Allah-Las, The Growlers, The Black Angels) the female led act (think Grace Slick meets Mariska Veres topped off with some latter day doom akin to Lola Colt's Gun) create a heady new Psych Sound. The voice of Anita Formilan exorcises demons and ghosts ala The Velvet Underground and The Doors, but the sound that comes out is warm and enveloping, alluring and sensual. Produced by Matt Bordin (Squadra Omega / The Mojomatics), who has made use only of analogue instruments and a Studer 24-track recorder, the album brims with vintage keys, jangle and reverb. There are some really cool tracks on this record……….stand outs have to be the reverb soaked, dark gothic ‘Twentynine Psalms’, the swirling Doorsy ‘Normal Love’ and the excellent Psych Pop tune ‘On Days Like This’ that may have turned up on Back To Black if it been informed by hallucinogens and not booze and skag. Excellent record and well worth checking out if you dig Lola Colt’s wide screen Psych Rock.

Out NOW on Go Down Records, Wet Moon is available on LP and CD from their on-line store and most cool record stores. The digital download can be purchased from the band’s Bandcamp site here


MINAMI DEUTSCH - MINAMI DEUTSCH + bonus tracks (Sulatron Records CD).

A Japanese band playing Krautrock???? This certainly sounds like something that would be on a Julian Cope fantasy wish list……….Taking inspiration from the classic early 70s German bands but adding a new twist to the genre, the Minami Deutsch self-titled debut album embodies the ‘Endless Straight’ motorik of Neu!, La Dusseldorf and Harmonia evoking an era when some of the most innovative music from the last 50 years was coming out of small studios in Cologne and Dusseldorf, yet feels very part of the here and now comfortably holding its own against the current wave of bands who have also been influenced by this period. Originally released as a limited edition vinyl LP in the Autumn of 2015 by Cardinal Fuzz/Captcha records Minami Deutsch created enormous waves in the underground Psych/Krautrock scene and the album was considered a stone cold classic record and one of the best releases of the year. The vinyl sold out completely within months of the album being released and the Guruguru Brain reissue also sold like hot hash cakes………………..fear not intrepid KrautRockHeads, if you have yet to wrap your ears around this stunning record the good folk at the German Psychedelic Rock label Sulatron Records (the home of the mind bending Electric Moon and the legendary Sun Dial) are releasing a limited edition CD of one the best records of the last few years with the Minami Deutch album due for re-release with bonus tracks on 17/02/2017.

With a mix of beauty and brutality, Minami Deutsch are not reinventing the genre but taking all the really great bits of Krautrock and brewing up a tasty sonic stew………….”from the opening track, ‘Vocalism Ai - Forever Takemitsu’, Minami Deutsch lock into the groove with laser guided precision, tracks drone, while shimmering chimes coalesce into some sort of cosmic Ur-drone, punctuated by thuds and epic swooshes, resulting in a grand and gorgeous ambience. The hypnotic ‘ Futsu Ni Ikirenai’ is driven by a throbbing metronomic pulse…..somnolent vocals drift in and out of the mix until it all explodes into a cacophonous, fuzzed up, guitar wig out ala Moon Duo. Then the awesome ‘Ubergleich Part 1’ kicks in………channelling Can’s ‘Mother Sky’ it hurtles along at a blistering pace, laying waste to everything in front of it until it is brought to an abrupt halt after 4 minutes, definitely a track you want to go on for at least another 10 minutes and some. ‘Ubergleich Part 2’ closes the original album and again this has a massive Can vibe with rhythms that would not be out of place on Ege Bam Yasi and repetitive Damo Suzuki-esque dream like vocals that ease you into a blissed out state”. The CD reissue carries two bonus tracks of kosmische jams…… the lengthy, slow burning ‘Steal Into Hartmut’ which unravels into a full on squalling Space Rock freak out and the supercharged ‘Taitan’ which grooves like an absolute mutha. For fans of particularly early Can and Neu! this album is one out of the “must listen” section……….if you don’t own a copy of this mind blowing collection of some of the best post 70s Krautrock grooves on any of the formats it has previously been available on (vinyl, cassette and D/L) you really need to check this out.

Limited to only 500 copies, the Minami Deutsch self titled debut album CD reissue will be available from all the usual on-line traders, clued up record stores and websites such as Cardinal Fuzz (plus you can even get a copy from Amazon) when it hits the shops in a couple of weeks time. You can also get a copy direct from Sulatron when it gets added to their on-line store. So get on it People.