Scott Lavene’s Milk City Sweethearts

We’ve had a spate of comical albums coming in for review, what with Death of Guitar Pop, Mr B the Gentleman Rhymer and now this, which is by far the darkest, consequently most poignant. Songwriter and raconteur Scott Lavene returns this Friday (17th September) with Milk City Sweethearts, an album of new material…..

There’s intelligent and thought-provoking arch-beat poetry chatted here, an amphetamine-induced self-evaluation of an ordinary Essex boy, delivered passionately with a witty edge you cannot ignore. Something of an oddity at times, random prose seemingly slotted erratically fall into place with a running theme of this hopeless romantic, as the album progresses.

Behind a variation of backbeats, often being post-punk, as is Scott’s roots, yet fluctuating through new romantic electronica and eighties mod revival, are honest and blunt chronicles of love, loss, coming of age, in effect making for a memorable kind of album, border-crossing Ian Dury with Sleaford Mods; a Mike Skinner of The Streets in the Bowie or Jam era, or a psychedelic Gecko.

Humbly wry, the observations of his imprudent past come back to haunt him, as he retells heartfelt autobiography. The Ballad of Lynsey being the particularly touching example, telling of a potential everlasting love, but lasting only year due to differences, with the revealing chorus, “I choose amphetamines over you.”  

If I’ve made this sound despondent and somewhat depressing, while yeah there is that, Scott’s witty charisma teeters atop at even the gloomiest synopsises with clever wordplay and metaphors. And besides, not every track is quite so melancholic. In fact, it begins very much with the aforementioned mod revival style. Upbeat opening tune, Nigel, is especially comical, expressing the strangeness of individual’s choice of “kicks.” Likewise, The First-Time reels off an amusing list of first experiences with the annotation, “one day there’ll be a last.” It’s all very Essex lad Talking Heads, Phil Daniels chatting on Blur’s Parklife, etc.

Art-pop carries over when the mod revival moves over for a new wave electronica feel as the album progresses, by the third tune, The Earth Don’t Spin, it’s very much more Stephan Tintin Duffy than Weller. For all the credentials and comparisons mentioned, there’s no cliché, everything here is uniquely composed and written originally, and Milk City Sweethearts isa listener, not the sort of long-player you can pause and pick up again, you’ll be impelled to digest it one sitting.

A master storyteller astutely aware of when and how to evoke the correct emotions, and find unusual thoughts to everyday scenarios. The farewell to deceased finale, Say Hello to Zeus, is as Bowie, simply inimitable and inducing. Whereas halfway through gives us the laugh-out-loud Walk Away is Essex humour at its very best.

Closest you’ll get to see him to here is Bath’s Komedia on the 12th December, for now this masterful album, out via Nothing Fancy Records, is interesting, to say the least, an essential item for enthusiasts of the quirky and unusual, making the world seem that much smaller, and amusing, for lonely hearts.

I’m quite happy, thank you, but loved it nonetheless, cos it ain’t always been that way. And that’s it, right there, I figure it’s not only my association Scott is from my motherland, but there’s something I think anyone with a heart will identify with here, and that’s something really rather special.


WIN 2 tickets HERE

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Roughcut Rebels Hit Trowbridge

If I was ever to be privileged to interview Bruce Springsteen, which I doubt I would be, I’d like to ask him of his thoughts now he’s 71, of penning a song called Growin’ Up at the tender age of 23. Similarly, I’d probe Pete Townshend, only a year young than the Boss, over lyrics of My Generation, which go, “hope I die before I get old!”

Yet, despite its title, I view My Generation to be less about a specific generation, and more about the attitudes of youth, and with this in mind, it could easily be placed into any subsequent generation. The Oasis cover aside, for this opens another Pandora’s Box I’m not willing to go down (I’ve a gig to review here,) it’s fair to say, akin to any song of the “mod” genre, it’s timeless.

To believe the “mod” is wrapped in sixties nostalgia is only partly factual, London’s emerging mod-girl sweetheart, Emily Capell sports a beehive hairstyle, but often sing-raps, like Kate Nash, and collaborates with Dreadzone. Similarly, the age demographic of Devizes-based mod cover band, The Roughcut Rebels spans generations, particularly now young Finley Trusler fronts it; still, he stands, belting out a vigorous and eloquent cover of My Generation.

It’s my reasoning for trekking to Trow-Vegas, keen to finally scrub “must see Finley fronting the Roughcuts” off my to-do-list. He got the job with two gigs before lockdown, thankfully bookings are returning for the band. For through his musical journey, started in the Devizes School boy band 98 Reasons, which branched off to duo Larkin with Sam Bishop, and still works with cousin, Harvey, as the Truzzy Boys, his cool demeanour stage presence and exceptional talent has to been celebrated. Query being, how would this fair with a proficient, yet older mod cover band?

The answer; very well indeed, thanks for asking. I jested with Fin outside the pub, asked him if he had to learn the songs senior to him, and he replied “not really.” This, and their dynamic performance, of course, proved my “mod is timeless” theory. In an explosive manner and highly entertaining show, they rocked Mortimer Street’s The Greyhound, and could do the same for any given venue.

Think of the eras the term encompasses, from The Beatles, Stones, Kinks and Spencer Davis through to The Jam and Purple Hearts, onto Ocean Colour Scene, The Stone Roses, to Britpop, Oasis and Blur, and modern times like Jake Bugg’s Lightning Bolt, The Roughcut Rebels got them all covered, and, loving every minute of it, they took the slight crowd with them.

To blend A Hard Day’s Night into a set with A Town Called Malice, swiftly move onto Park Life, or The Day We Caught The Train, and return with the Kingsmen’s Louie Louie, displays their ability and keenness to incorporate and fuse epochs, and they do it with certain ease. Grant Blackman’s expert drumming and John Burn’s bass played upfront gives it oomph, while Mark Slade adds the succulent and memorable rhythms, topped by Finely’s accomplished vocals, accompanying guitar or else showy tambourine timekeeping like a young Jagger giving it Jumpin’ Jack Flash. Roughcut, huh? Yeah, they are a cut far above the average cover band on the circuit.

As for the venue, The Greyhound, I like it, in the shadow of The Pump, a long-bar town pub unexpectedly clean and tidy, with hospitable staff and drinks cheap as chips. Without so much as a blackboard, it could’ve done with promoting its live music event, as a regular told me he was unaware of it and only popped in because he heard the music. Consequently, the crowd was slight, and all-male (ladies, if you want to bag yourself a drunken Trow-Vegas native in a cheap polo shirt, this place is for you) but through the excellence of the Rebel’s music, all were up dancing.

Here’s a great local covers band which will pull in an age-spanning crowd to your pub, and spur them to spend at your bar; because there’s an anthem or ten for all generations, and it’s lively, accomplished and entertaining.


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A Trowbridge Kitchen Sink Drama; Sitting Tenants

Wednesday, racing down to the newsagent on the corner on my Rayleigh Tomahawk, fifteen pee in sweaty palm. Pick up my Beano, six pence left for halfpenny sweets. The lady stood irritated behind the counter holding a small paper bag, as the kid front of the queue rubbed his chin pondering the crucial quandary. “You’ve got four pee left,” she’d calculate, while the boy finally opted for another flying saucer rather than a fruit salad chew.

If there’s something delightfully everyday about the subjects on Trowbridge’s Sitting Tenants lockdown album, A Kitchen Sink Drama, none more retrospectively thought-provoking than the fifth tune, the Newsagent, which encouraged the placement of this archived memory to my frontal cortex.

Unlike many a lockdown inspired project, this lives on the sunny side of the street, no matter how working-class notion of destitution. A semi-acoustic concept album, all from a shed in Trowbridge, as folk, as best pigeonholed, it’s acutely observational and mostly sentimentally mellow, perfect lazy Sunday afternoon music. Yet it never escorts you down a dark alley. Of people-watching in a back street pub, of a welcomed arrival of a letter from an old friend; subjects are ordinary, with an optimistic air of market town affairs. Even the album sleeve is a line drawing of Trowbridge town centre.

Released on 208 Records, usually reserved for garage mod-revival, still it retains something of that period in sound and particularly subject. Rob himself polished his skill fronting Swindon mod band Roundabout, some twenty-five years past. A band I do recall fondly. But even if you don’t, here is something indie-folky, with a taste of local excellence.

Revived since lockdown this garage-folk band’s fifth album was recorded in Rob’s garden shed, with only bassist Geoff Allwright, and using Ian Hunter’s lyrics. It’s beautifully peculiar, a mite psychedelic in as much as McCartney vaudeville moments on Sgt Pepper, engrossing as Nick Drake, quirky as Pentangle or The Pretty Things. It’s the Kinks jamming carefree on a Sunday, especially on the most upbeat Lincoln Green. It nods to Lionel Bart on the Austerity Street, John Martyn on The Tin Man, and incredibly on the captivating eleven-minute finale, Falling Backwards, where things do get acute, Ralph McTell.

Like a Ralph of Trowbridge, it’s like, why is this down the road but new to me? Why didn’t it post a leaflet through my letterbox instead of a pleading politician?


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Cult Figures; Deritend, Yes Mate!

It’s not just me, is it? Eighteen seconds into the Cult’s She Sells Sanctuary, you know, when it breaks, and you’re like, that’s it, right there. It matters not what youth culture you were into, at the time, or even now, it doesn’t give a hoot about your favoured genres, haircut, colour of anorak, age, gender or race, it just does it, and you, you’re like, as I said, that’s it, right there.

Something similar happens with this Cult Figures album Deritend, out last week; heck, if they haven’t even got a comparable name. Perhaps not so nostalgia-filled, as these are all originals, though the sound harks back to an era or yore, when cookies were in a biscuit barrel rather than your web browser, Tories were governed a demoness made from iron rather than a clown made of teddy bear stuffing, and a wet wipe was when your mum spat into a handkerchief and wiped it over your Space-Dust covered chops.

Mind, as happens when I’m sent files not numbered, it lists them alphabetically rather than in the running order, so the opening track is actually the penultimate Camping in the Rain, but it makes the perfect intro into the world of these London-based masters of retrospection. From its off, it’s, well, off, leaving me to reminisce about those classic post-punk new wave bands of the eighties. At times though, as it’s a mesh of this and reflective of the scooterist mod culture of same period, I’m thinking of the likes of the Jam and Merton Parkas too. Contemplate the musical differences are subtle, though worlds apart at the time, and this sits comfortably somewhere in-between.

To add to their perfection of authenticity, one must note this is the second album from Cult Figures, and is comprised of tracks written in their earlier incarnation between 1977 and 1980, just recorded more recently.

The real opening tune, Chicken Bones, has the same impact, something beguiling and anthemic, setting the way it’s going to go down. Donut Life, which follows, sounds like carefree pop, the Chords, for a comparison. In fact, as it progresses the guitar riffs of next tune, Lights Out, is sounding more pre-gothic, Joy Division, yet with a catchy whistle more akin to The Piranhas. Things get really poignant with Exile, almost dub Visage meets the Clash, and Omen extenuates the seriousness of a running theme.  

“Deritend draws a line under the past,” they explain, “all eleven tracks composed and recorded since our 2016 comeback, simultaneously reflecting a maturity gained in 40 years of life experience, whilst still embracing the accessible three Ps of the early days; punk, pop and psychedelia.” The album’s title owes to a historic industrial area outside Birmingham’s centre, “a few miles from where Gary and I grew up.”

The mysterious iconic name was a bus route terminus and has a strong emotional connection to the band, “evoking the nervous excitement of those long rides into town on our way to Barbarellas. But it conveys so much more: Deritend is an album that reflects on the past, speculates on the future, but for the most part is fairly and squarely a comment on the lives we are living now.” They convey this well, for through its retrospection, subject matter, growing up with the dilapidation of a working-class industrial chip, could equally apply to then, or now.

A timeless piece of art within a captivating musical style which embraces the traditions of generation X, just curled up at an edge like an old poster on the congregated iron fence of a closed factory. I mean Silver Blades and White Noise crave you dive back into punk; there’s a definite Clash feel to the latter. As girl’s names for titles generally do, Julie-Anne is archetypical upbeat but themed of desire, and the sound of it is particularly challenging to pin down, there’s Weller there, but a drum roll you’d expect Annabella Lwin to surface from (of Bow Wow Wow if you need to, Google it, youngster!)

Most bizarre and experimental is the brilliantly executed talky sound of Concrete and Glass. Cast your mind back to 86, if poss, remember Jim’s tune, yeah? Driving Away From Home by It’s Immaterial, and you’re not far from the mark.

The aforementioned Camping in the Rain which could’ve been the opening track, is next, and it’s the epithet of all we’ve mentioned. This combination is not juxtaposed cumbersomely like a tribute act, rather the genuine article lost in time, and it, well, in a nutshell, absolutely rocks. The finale, Privilege is plentiful to summarise; Clash-styled punk rock, themed on the expectations of irritated propertyless youth, akin to Jimmy Cliff’s You Can Get It If You Really Want.

But, unless all you want is a zig-a-zig-ah and to spice up your life with commercialised bubble-gum pop, nothing here is oven-ready for criticism, just relish yourself in a bygone era, and rock.


The Lost Trades Live Stream their new album on Friday; tickets here

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Eighties Mod Revival Lost Gem: The Direct Hits

If I waffle positively here, and yes, I do waffle, about retrospection and a trend in sounds trying to be authentically from a time of yore, this one doesn’t need to try. The Broadway Recording Sessions thrusts you rearward into the eighty’s mod revival scene, whether you want to go there or not.

Battersea trio, The Direct Hits may only be remembered by the connoisseur of mod, having one-shot at charting in ’82, when TV presenter Dan Treacy released their song, Modesty Blaise on his Whamm! imprint. The music press hailed this as not just another Jam, crash-bang-wallop mod revivalist tune, and their explosive live shows avowed them pioneers of a “Battersea Beat.”

Whamm were financially struggling to fund an album, so the band pooled their limited resources and booked the cheapest studio time they could find, Tooting’s Broadway Sounds. By the afternoon they had knocked out nine songs, the other three on this album were recorded a fortnight later. It would be two years later when they re-recorded some of these songs for their debut album “Blow Up.”

Now remastered, these lost recordings have surfaced finally, and, with warts and all, show the uncooked spirit of a hopeful mod garage band. I’ve had this playing for a few weeks since it’s late February release, and it heralds the hallmarks of a post-punk return to the basics, which sixties groups like The Kinks and The Small Faces mastered. To expect this yardstick is pushing it, but through all its rawness there’s some beguilingly adroit songs to make you wonder why they wasn’t as their namesake suggests, direct hits!

Perhaps it was that bit too retrospective for the progressive eighties. Because, elements capture neo-psychedelia, rather than soulful eighties mod assigned via The Spencer Davis Group and into bands like The Merton Parkas. That era where the beatnik style was teetering on influencing the pop sound, but Merseybeat was still riding the high ground. There’s a delicate balance here, avoiding things getting too cliché Mamas & Papas, these upbeat three-minute-heroes never fails to kick ass.

Consistently high-spirted and energetic garage sound, yet psychedelically enhanced; think if Syd Barrett’s days spent at Pink Floyd would’ve been spent with The Who instead, and you get the idea. There’s even a bike song, just like on Relics. Lyrically there’s unassuming stories with clear narratives and characters to challenge the Beatles.

A polished rerecording of a track from the album.

Overall, though, you’ve got twelve mind-blowing rarities which perfectly capture a raw moment of youthful optimism for an inspiring band, in an era where everyone felt encouraged to pick up an instrument and give it bash; and they’re good, really good. In a funny kind of way, I see similarities to the now; the forgone passing of DJ culture in a rave new world and tasteless manufactured pop, to an imminent inclination of online DIY indie, I see hopefuls taking to a guitar and giving it a go. Perhaps then, there’s no time like the present for this to resurface.

Buy The Broadway Recording Sessions Here


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Song of the Day 27: Emily Capell

We are the mods, we are the mods, we are, we are, okay, you get the gist. Imagine Kate Nash is Doctor Who’s assistant, and they tracked back to Carnaby Street in 1963. If she dressed and performed without raising suspicion that they’re time travellers, you’ve got a general picture of the fantastic Emily Capell.

On one hand, this is fab retrospective meddling, on the other it’s lively and fresh fun, with a beehive hairdo.

There’s nothing here not to like, unless you’re a ret-con rocker and if so, I’ll see you on Brighton beach, pal. All I ask is you aim for the face, so you don’t crease my suit.

And, that’s my song for the day. Very good. Carry on….. oh yeah, nearly forgot to mention, Emily has a live stream coming up Friday 12th March, here; groovy.


Very Terry Edwards

The word “very,” rarely an adjective, as in “it happened in this very house,” or “this is very Terry Edwards,” but commonly worthlessly used as an adverb, as in “it’s very cold today,” or “this is the very best of Terry Edwards.” While the album simplifies it to the ambiguous “Very Terry Edwards,” it’s BandCamp page suggests, “The Very Best of Very Terry Edwards,” which though it’s exactly what it is, it’s also one adverb enough for the most lenient of proof-reader’s red line. Yet, if the usage of very is erm, very worthless, it is the only thing on this album which is.

The multi-instrumentalist, best known for trumpet, flugelhorn, saxophone, guitar and keys, marked his sixtieth birthday last September releasing this three-CD best-of box set, and while I should’ve mentioned it last month, between putting batteries in toys and stuffing myself with pigs in blankets things got tardy. Right now, though, I can think of no better outstanding project to kick off our music reviews for 2021. Reason only partly because it ticks all my personal favourite genre boxes, more so because of the range of said genres is far greater than run-of-the-mill best of compilations.

We need to assess Terry’s biography to understand the reason for this variety. Funky punk and second-gen ska most obvious, as from 1980 he was a founding member of Two-Tone signed band The Higsons, after graduating with a degree in music. But around that time Terry also produced and played on the Yeah Jazz’s debut album, of whom, despite the name, were particularly folk-rock.

Terry in 1984

From here the vastness of Terry’s repertoire blossoms, as session musician for a huge range of acts, from Madness to Nick Cave, PJ Harvey and The Jesus and Mary Chain to, particularly notable, The Blockheads. As well as his solo material, with his band The Scapegoats and a stint with dark punk-blues outfit Gallon Drunk, it’s understandable collating this in one reminiscent anthology is a mammoth task and a melting pot. Which is just what you’re getting for your money, a very, as the grammatical disorderly title suggests, worthy melting pot.

“When the earliest recording here was made the 18-year-old me couldn’t comprehend being 60,” Terry explained, “yet here I am presenting a triple album containing 60 titles recorded between 1979 and 2020, through thick and thin.” Therefore, it must be more tongue-in-cheek than I’d suspect Roger Daltrey’s notion now of My Generation’s lyrics that for the opening track he opted for The Higsons’ “We Will Never Grow Old.”

“You’d expect an overview of my career to have some odd bedfellows and more than its share of quirks and foibles,” he continued, “but it’s been compiled to flow musically rather than have a chronological narrative.”

That said, the first four tunes from his original band follow, with all their fervent rawness. Terry covered his tracks though, “I immediately break my own rules by starting with The Higsons’ earliest release and debut single, but redeem myself by following up with the most recent recordings; two ballads recorded with Paul Cuddeford (Ian Hunter, Holy Holy) in February 2020. There is more method than madness; groups of songs which follow a theme or genre are found together regardless of when they’re from.” Indeed, we’re then treated to three tunes in a matured, mellowing jazz and blues, the latter of which with the vocally perfected Erika Stucky.

Then we’re into rock with The Wolfhounds, and a guitar-twanging Christmas blues song with Robyn Hitchcock, plodding jazz with Knife & Fork, post-punk Big Joan, avant-garde jazz with Spleen and rockabilly styled New York New York. While mostly jazz-related, this first disc graduates through genres with finesse.

Terry is like Georgie Fame with a Mohican, but whatever avenue is explored, you can guarantee quality. The second CD starts with a bang, upbeat mod-jazz with The Scapegoats. There’re more known covers here, sublimely executed Herbie Hancock’s Watermelon Man, a superb solo rendition of The Cure’s Friday I’m in Love, as if Robert Smith wore a Fred Perry, and a hard-rock electronica version of Johnny Kidd’s Shakin all Over with the haunting vocals of Lisa Ronson. Even find an orchestral film score, and a piano solo of the knees-up capital’s favourite, May It’s Because I’m a Londoner.

Yet if both the quantity and quality on offer here is so vast to make me waffle, it doesn’t waiver for the final disc, rather it’s my favourite. A BBC session outtake of a jazzy Voodoo Chile, with altered title to “Child.” Dunno, can’t be a typo, the dedication to attributing to Hendrix’s masterpiece is no easy feat, lest it be known Terry manages it with awesomeness dexterity, with a saxophone!

If the last CD continues with on a jazz tip for two tunes, we’re transported to ska via John Holt’s Ali Baba by Lee Thompson’s Ska Orchestra and other sundry members of Madness, and Totally Wired by Terry’s “Ska All Stars,” and more ska-jazz with Rhoda Dakar. Post-punk follows, featuring The Nightingales with Vic Goddard, Snuff, Glen Matlock and Gallon Drunk. Perhaps my favourite parts being the shouty cover of The Human Leagues’ “Don’t you Want Me Baby,” by Serious Drinking, and the general dilapidation of seriousness with new wave tunes mirroring the unsubtlety of Ian Dury & The Blockheads.

Here’s a jam-packed box-set brimming with variety which flows suitably and makes a definitive portfolio of a particularly prolific and proficient musician. For many it’ll hold fond memories, for younger, who think Kate Nash created the cockney chat-rap, or jazz wasn’t the same until Jamie Cullum came along, it’s a history lesson they’ll never forget!

This 60th birthday, 60 track-strong celebration spans over four decades. A triple CD clamshell boxset with 24-page booklet, but more importantly they say, “Very Terry Edwards is a birthday present to himself as much as anything else,” giving it the impression you’re on a personal journey, like a child sitting on their grandpa’s lap while he recites memoirs, blinking exciting ones!

Buy from Rough Trade: £15.99 or BandCamp: £15 or £8 digital.


The Hawks: Stephen “Tintin” Duffy, as You’ve Never Heard Him Before….

Never did understand his 1985 hit Kiss Me, when it went “kiss me with your mouth,” because, figures; there’s no other cavity more apt or commonly used for kissing. Of course, being twelve when it charted, as much titillation as the magic upturned calculator number 5318008, was to be had replacing the word “mouth” with … Continue reading “The Hawks: Stephen “Tintin” Duffy, as You’ve Never Heard Him Before….”

Best of Luck to The Real Cheesemakers, Selected for National Musical Comedy Awards

Wishing the best of luck to Wiltshire’s homegrown musical comedians, the nonsensical Real Cheesemakers, who have been selected for the 2021 national Musical Comedy Awards. Far from matured, the crazy Calne four-piece released their “Grated Hits,” last year, which we fondly reviewed in February 2020.   They will play at The Phoenix, Cavendish Square, London, … Continue reading “Best of Luck to The Real Cheesemakers, Selected for National Musical Comedy Awards”

Tories Step Up Online Hate Campaign Against Wiltshire PCC Independent Candidate

With just a couple of days until the second Wiltshire PCC election, the first defunct by the Conservatives, local Tory supporters are rallying, keen to criticise and form an online hate campaign against the independent candidate, Mike Rees. Should we flip this into a positive, clearly, it’s troubling them?! After Conservatives corrupted the process of … Continue reading “Tories Step Up Online Hate Campaign Against Wiltshire PCC Independent Candidate”

Skates & Wagons EP

Fashionably late for the party, this Oxford duo’s self-titled debut EP was released on White Label Records at the beginning of the month; what can I say for an excuse? Glad to catch up though, as Skates & Wagons are well worth it.

There’s retrospective grandeur on offer here; even down to the bracketed song titles, as was common at the time, of these four diligently composed tunes of sixties-fashioned mod psych-pop. It’s as if we’d not progressed from the era of The Kinks or Small Faces, The Spencer Davis Group and The Troggs at all. And to hear this makes one wonder if it was ever progress anyway.

Yeah, the dawn of the beatnik epoch, developed from the blues and soul inspired pop of Merseybeat is formulated, tried and tested, and anyone who mimics it is dependant on the only element left to ensure it’s respectable, the quality. Skates & Wagons set such a benchmark, taking a big chunk of the influence from this aforementioned style, but with a fresh approach rather than a shoddy and aged tribute, paling by comparison to its original.

We’ve seen this youthful blast of retrospection recently with the awesome blues detonation of Little Geneva, least to suggest this is more the pop of the fab decade, it also expands to classic electric rock, and is immediately beguiling via its wonderful musings. Skates & Wagons have long established themselves on the live circuit in Oxfordshire and beyond, but the EP is something precured over time like a fine wine. Initially they started working on it as far back as 2011, and completed it earlier in 2020, a testament to that old adage, you can’t rush art.

Opening borderline glam, Just Because you Can (Doesn’t Mean you Should) is possibly the most progressive, early Genesis fashioned, and vocally there’s harmony parallel to Gabriel and Collins. It’s as if Skates & Wagons regress through time as it goes on. Spin my Wheels is decidedly backdated in sound from the opening song, mid-Kinks period of their ‘66 album, Face-to-Face.

A nuanced approach to sixties-indebted structures, all four songs drip with instant fascination, as if you may’ve heard them on a classic radio show. The third tune is perhaps the most sublime, Tender (is the Night) is affectionate acoustic guitar-led emotive mellowness, to slip into a Who rock opera unnoticed. It’s an epic, seasonal-spanning romance themed masterpiece.

Yet, the final tune, Law As I Am True plays-out with the thump of pre-psychedelia sixties pop, but it’s got the kick of how The Jam re-enacted the sound, and it’s catchy because there’s subtle hints and swirls of the imminent next move to flower-power. Together here’s four memorable tunes which would have undoubtedly sailed to the Top of the Pops during that golden era, yet somehow completely original and uniquely fitting for the now.

If we’ve seen a relived trend with scooterists and mod culture recently, these guys are a hot contender to front such a movement. Though I caution them, there’s often a dispelling, or more, overlooked aspect with the current trend, in the interesting and natural progress to the late-sixties beatnik and flower-power movements, and while there’s nothing so “way-out” as Zappa on offer through Skates & Wagons, it does reflect those initial, optimistic changes of the mid-sixties. And in this notion, is what divides the duo from the bulk standard; yeah, fab, love it!


Mod R&B Legend, Georgie Fame Coming to Devizes!

Update:

Tickets for Friday 8th November are Here!

 

I’ll probably get told off by my mum for adding this photo, but I love it. My parents and friends at a dance in Shoreditch Town Hall, 1964. Dad captioned the bands were Screaming Lord Such and The Rockin’ Berries. How cool those mods looked!

shoreditch20town20hall.jpg

Zip forward to 2004 and tired of taking my mum to see mod legend, Georgie Fame, my dad dropped us off in Camberley. It was an awesome night, he played a homage to Ray Charles who had passed that week, and told some great stories. One about Mitch Mitchell, the drummer in his band, the Blue Fames. After checking out an American guy in a club nearby their gig in 1966, Mitch ran back to tell the band how awesome he was, and was soon signed to The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

Georgie’s son played guitar at the event, did an amazing solo of Hendrix’s Red House. And of course, Mr Fame, aged sixty-one at the time and still looked cooler than the mods in this photo, played his plethora of hits, “Yeah Yeah,” “Do the Dog,” and “The Ballad of Bonnie & Clyde.” Though I don’t recall my personal favourite, “Somebody Stole my Thunder,” a mod classic which still gets people up today; I know, played at the Scooter Club’s family fun day.

Georgie_Fame_in_Sweden_1968

With my mum, incessantly inquiring if I thought he’d remember a club in the East End he used to play at, regularly in my earlobe becoming somewhat irritating, after the gig and standing waiting for my Dad to pick us up, I noted Georgie gathered with just a handful of people by a car. “I don’t know!” I huffed, pointing the figure of this senior chap out to her, “why don’t you go ask him?!”

My mum quivered like a star-struck teenager, “oh no, I couldn’t possibly do that!”

“Ahk! He’s standing right there!!” But alas, anxiety got the better of her. It pushed into my mind, that we were all young and impressable once, we all idolised heroes. Yet, though I may shudder to recall some of my own lax, eighties idolisations, I have to admit, Georgie Fame would’ve been one cool one to follow, if I lived in that era.

But time is an illusion my friend, for just when you thought we’d seen the end of The Devizes Arts Festival for the year, they today whack us with the announcement Georgie Fame is coming to Devizes on Friday 8th November, playing a one off at the Corn Exchange. I knew this, Margaret whispered her secret some weeks ago, been aching to announce it since!

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I will let you know when tickets are out, but this fantastic news. This Lancashire lad is a legend on the rhythm and blues scene, played alongside rock n roll heroes like Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran, and an idol to mod/soul aficionados as one of the first British Caucasians to be influenced by ska. Whether you lived through the sixties or not, this is an absolute teaser to forthcoming Arts Festival events, and I thought I was done praising them for the year!


 

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Billy Green 3; Should not be Moved

On my holibobs last week, local Geordie Britpop/mod musician Bill Green of trio Billy Green 3, (not to be confused with the British-Upper Canadian scout who saw victory at the Battle of Stoney Creek, naturally) messaged a YouTube link to his debut single, “I Should be Moved.” Promised to get on it this week, finally made it; procrastination rules, but glad I did.

Impartial towards Britpop, it’s not Marmite, I take it or leave it. In my defence, during the era rave was the thing, Madchester just a slice and not a principally progressive slice when compared with breakbeat. To shock horror of Oasis fans, I sauntered past them on the NME Stage at Glasto 94; never heard of them, never cared to; I was hunting hi-tech party vibes, not a Beatles tribute.

I try to decipher if my appreciation of the genre has matured, or if it’s the forceful sixties-mod element which, while present in Britpop generally, seems particularly prominent in Billy Green 3’s style. The words and riff echo a Britpop classic for catchiness, studio noise and tambourine intro and, especially, the chorus though, rings the simplicity of sixties mod. With the modern component of a perfectly placed sample, the circle is complete, Samuel L Jackson’s one-liner as Pulp Fiction’s Jules Winnfield completes it. “Sounds great, Bill,” I replied after a tinny listen on my phone’s speaker, because it does. Grown on me more, now I’ve got it on loud.

If anything, the magnitude of this slick three-minute ride spurs me bookmark Billy Green’s next local gig, though none listed yet; watch this space. Meanwhile I wanted to gage Billy about what the recording side equates to. “I assume it’s an original song,” I asked, “written by you?” and fired several other minor questions all at once, at least England was one-nil up…. at that point.

“First recording with the new project, me and a young lad called Harvey Schorah on drums, backing Vox and all-round vibes,” Bill replied. “I wrote the words and music, played guitar, bass and sang lead and backing vocals. Martin Spencer [The Badger Set, Potterne] produced. He’s a magician, essentially, he took the song in my head and made it come out of the speakers; just love this creative process in addition to the recent live shows.”

On what this will spur, Billy explained, “second song in mixing as we speak, and then hopefully will work out how to put them out as a mini EP.” Posted on their Facebook page today, we may get a listen to it, Lose Our Way, at 7pm.

Drafting my next question, for the review lead us onto football, I mouthed my thoughts that England are sitting back on a 1-0 and then, oh dear (or words to that effect!)

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“Brilliant,” Billy added, “the review, not the football, they were poor on the first half apart from the penalty, still time though; being a Newcastle fan sometimes optimism is all you have!”

This fell appropriately onto my last question; does Bill think Newcastle had a scene during the Britpop era to rival Manchester?

“Prior to Britpop I think,” He suggested, “later 80s, there was a label called Woosh, my mate’s band, the Nivens were on there and ran on Flexi discs. There’s a retrospective out called C87 which was named after the NMEs C86, but a couple of decades later, they’re on there, so jangly guitar pop; the Nivens actually opened for the Smiths. Club nights at the Broken Doll and the Riverside, basically was my musical apprenticeship, introduced me to so many great bands. Moving into the 90s, there was more of a grunge scene with Cranes etc, now there is a resurgent drone scene with a hotel in Byker putting on Japanese noise artists, it’s a bit bonkers.”

“Bonkers could describe any current pop scene in the UK though,” I scoffed.

“Fair point,” Bill nodded, “Alan McGee doing his bit for guitar bands with the Creation23 label, and This Feeling are putting on some good nights. I work in London a bit, so have been to a few of their club nights. Met up with the now defunct the Shimmer Band from Bristol, who I thought were destined for great things. DMAs came out of that scene, from Australia, and are now heading festivals, think Shame came up through there, my mate’s band Free Money are booked in, they even did the last Lexus ad, which is a bit mad. I guess I’ll always be a fan of the get a group of mates together and play in a garage until someone notices you route.”

Well, that’s been the ethos for many a decade and never did the garage scene of the sixties any harm. Stuff the Simon Cowell karaoke TV show fiasco, Billy Green 3 is archaic in fashion, just enough to know the score, yet fledgling to fit into the burgeoning music scene here; I think “I Should be Moved,” puts a stamp on that; take a listen and decide for yourself.

 

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No Clowning with Six O’clock Circus at The Southgate

So, yeah, broke my 2019 hibernation and ventured out last night. I know right, but Calne-based, Six O’clock Circus blasted an otherwise mild night at the Southgate with some passionately executed mod, punk and indie covers; right up my street and kicking down my door.

 
Loud and proud, regardless of the five-piece squashed into Devizes’ answer to the O2 arena, singing toward the wall, plus having gigged the afternoon in Boughton Gifford, and Friday evening with Devizes-based, Burbank, for a Big Yellow Bus fundraiser at the Bug & Spider, they never waned, pulling a fine ensemble of indie covers out of their bag, for the first half, but not before an introduction of the Kinks and Who.

 
Six O’clock Circus, started at nine o’clock, but despite poor punctuality of their namesake, and lack of clowns, I loved the starter, then it went a bit Britpop; Travis, Stereophonics, James and Shed Seven representations. Yet I nodded through with appreciation, their precision awarded even my non-favs with worthy magnitude. Though I personally like my indie served, as they did towards latter section of the first half, with Primal Scream and the Coral, and overall would favour more mod, of the Jam, which ended the first half, Six O’clock Circus delivered them all feverously, and favourably, with ardent appreciation of their influences.

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A quieter night at this haven for live music allowed me to notice the cloudy cider tariff on the wooden beam, where at least one hairy hippy usually leans, obscuring the menu. So a double-whammy for me, securing a love for the Southgate I’d joyfully shout to the hills and back.

 
Undoubtedly, said cider played it’s part but I supposed the band tightened with every tune. A swap of instruments, promising a “seventies love-song,” they completed by knocking out a genuine “Pretty Vacant” before the break. It was clear Six 0’Clock Circus had no intentions of delivering us a ballad at all, neither attempt something experimental, as the second section banged in with The Buzzcocks’ classic, Ever Fallen in Love, and slipping nicely into London’s Burning by the Clash.

 
So, the evening’s entertainment leaves me now stamping a thoroughly deserved recommendation on Six O’clock Circus, perfect for the thirty-forty-fifty somethings function or pub circuit, and with that said, I’m off to make a bacon butty.

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Six O’clock Circus on Facebook, give em a like!

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Devizes Scooter Club’s Grand BBQ

All images used with kind permission of Ruth Wordly

@ MoongypZy Creative Photography

 

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If last weekend in Devizes belonged to rockers, as the Sports Club shook by the awesome Saddleback Festival, it was small mercies for the Mods this Saturday as Devizes Scooter Club hosted a more moderately proportioned charity BBQ day, which wasn’t without equal summer fun and frolics.

The corner of Hillworth Road and Long Street became a haven for scooter enthusiasts, who’d travelled from far and wide, and local lovers of soul, reggae and ska who gathered outside the Conservative Club to raise some funds for the Devizes and District Opportunity Centre.

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How much was raised at this tender morning moment (at the time of writing this on Sunday) is unconfirmed, majority of organisers I’d wager are taking a fully-earned rest, if not nursing a sore head!

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I’ll let you know the grand total as soon as I get some feedback, but cake stall helper Paula told me she’d sold twice as many as last year’s family fun day, as husband Andy, whose task it was to man the barbeque looked vacantly into space through sheer tiredness. “I reckon he’ll be flipping burgers in his sleep,” I imagined.

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The bar and garden packed out by lunchtime, extending to the car park, which converted into a showroom of lamberttas and vespas, with an added parts stall. As enthusiasts admired each other’s “hairdryers,” their families enjoyed the plethora of side stalls, the hall of bouncy things (castle and a Gladiators-styled battle arena) and the quality music.

Contrary to their name, Swindon’s Daybreakers turned up early afternoon. Thank heavens I figured, lesson learned that day; a cider breakfast does no good when attempting to operate a mixer. Thanks to Tony who danced around me doing all the technical wizardry and gave our musical show a voice.

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By 2pm The Daybreakers were off, with no one willing to stop them they revved through a glut of benchmark early 80s pop, the likes of the Specials and Dexy, to sublime renditions of crusty rock, such as the Levellers. Wherever Cath, Gouldy and gang land there’s guaranteed to be a blinding show and today was no exception.

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An awesome team effort blessed the event with an uncompromising community spirit. From face-painted kids guessing names of teddies, shooting footballs and munching cake, to adults estimating the weight of a ham, shooting down beers and munching burgers, a village fete atmosphere ensued with a retrospective, hedonistic angle, as opposed to being all vicars and teacakes on the lawn.

By late afternoon Chippenham duo, Blondie & Ska had pitched inside and began their dazzling show; a precise Blondie tribute meshed with other two-tone classics in a style as if Debbie Harry would’ve covered them. They made a fantastic sound for just a duo and relished every minute despite fatigue setting in with the punters, who tended to loiter outside to begin with.

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With most exhausted from the day’s affairs already, it took a while for the show to push the audience into gear, hangers-on remained in the shadows of the garden to begin with, or those with families retired home with worn-out youngsters. I thought it a shame the club could’ve shown how we welcome acts as good as Blondie & Ska, but the thought abruptly ceased as the evening took hold and sweltering members graced that dance floor.

I offered a rock steady break for the band, but dancers yearned for some Northern Soul, so that’s what I did. Then Blondie & Ska continued and took us to into to the close. If you need more of these guys, or if you missed this thoroughly enjoyable show, I strongly advise you check out future gigs on their website. Closest to us, is The Wroughton Club on August 11th, The Royal Oak Corsham the day after, and the Gladstone Road Club in Chippenham on October 27th.

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As for the Daybreakers, well they’re never to be missed. Catch them again for an afternoon in Devizes, when they’ll be at Vinyl Realm on August 4th, and check their Facebook page for an extensive gig guide.

Back to the BBQ Day though, it was in observing the quantity of people gathered, and their enjoyment of the day which gave me both enormous optimism for a very successful Scooter Rally next summer, and a pride in our small town’s Scooter Club, where everyone contributed a gallant effort to ensure a grand day out was had by all, most laboured until they dropped, notwithstanding, some money was raised for our preschool for children with disabilities and learning difficulties. So full steam ahead for the Scooter Club now, as tickets for a brilliant sounding, soultastic Motown-eske band, All That Soul, are now on sale at the Cons Club, Jeffersons and Vinyl Realm.

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