Sunday, 23 November 2014

REWIND: Shed Seven - 'Devil In Your Shoes'

Today is the birthday of Shed Seven frontman Rick Witter, who also presents a rather enjoyable show on Minster FM every Sunday evening between 7 and 9pm. The band's first three albums have recently been reissued as deluxe editions, which feature B sides, unreleased material and live tracks. The band's third album 'Let It Ride' was released in June 1998, reaching number 9 in the UK album chart. One of its best tracks was the stunning 'Devil In Your Shoes', which reached number 38 when it was issued as a single. Happy birthday Rick.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Track Of The Day: Port Erin - 'Makes No Difference'

Today's Track Of The Day is one from Wiltshire-based trio Port Erin, who have been favorites of this site for a while now. Their new album 'Floating Above The City' is their third, and was released a few weeks ago in October. An interview RW/FF did with the band back in 2012 can be found HERE.

Despite adding to an already overflowing pot of influences and musical shades, they have somehow managed to assimilate them all into a more definitive sound, with their songwriting more accomplished than ever before. While it journeys into many different atmospheres, 'Floating Above The City' proves to be Port Erin's most cohesive work to date, as well as their strongest. This is an album about both understanding and confusion, presenting a band seemingly at one with their place in the world, but also who show an increasing dissatisfaction with that particular realm, and the issues affecting it. Musically broad, it encompasses a heady trip through space-rock, jazz, avant-garde, funk, psychedelia, ambient, progressive and more besides to create a unique and ear-opening sound. 

The reflective lyrics are often told from a space that has the band regarding their younger selves, as main lyricist Reuben Tyghe illustrates; “Floating Above The City as a concept and title first hit me whilst trekking across Camden in Bath back in 2008 whilst having what felt like some kind of out of body experience. That classic looking down on one's self moment - I felt like I snap-shot analysed my life in 4 seconds. It's an image and feeling I often go back to. The song is like a letter to a close friend or brother. It's a song to myself I guess - an older self, talking to a younger, unaware person in his early 20's having the clich├ęd post 21 identity crisis.”

Some songs are less personal but no less philosophical as Reuben explains when discussing Makes No Difference; “It's always confused me in life that it often seems that it doesn't matter whether you use good will or plain evil to succeed. It makes no difference. There are no moral brain police. People use any means possible to get what they want.” 
Further on through the album Can't Tell (Music from the Sticky Plateaux) reinforces the themes of consideration and understanding; “When there's no way of knowing whether you're being lied to or not and it screws your mind it sucks. It's a song about that” clarifies Reuben. “And The Sticky Plateaux? That is the musical place where we'd been at whilst writing this album, pulling out tunes from the swamp of possibilities.”

Being recorded and mixed at Nine Volt Leap studio in Melksham by Dominic Bailey, and mastered by Tim Oliver at Top Cat Studios has meant that this album has very much been the product of the bands Wiltshire homeland, a part of the world the band are proud to come from. 

REWIND: Hurricane #1: 'Step Into My World'

As soon as Beady Eye split up, I knew that it would most likely pave the way for Andy Bell to reform Ride. However, it seems that former bandmates from his other pre-Oasis/Beady Eye group Hurricane #1 were also hoping for a reunion with Andy. They must have been disappointed when he opted for a Ride reunion instead, but have decided to resurrect the band without Bell's participation. I used to love Hurricane #1 back in the 90s, but reforming without the man who wrote all (but one) of their songs is insane, not to mention rather desperate, especially since I always thought of the band as an outfit that Bell put together as a vehicle for his songs. The reformed group's Facebook and Twitter pages have confirmed that Teenage Fanclub drummer Paul Quinn is going to be part of the new line-up, along with Lucas Mariani on bass and Carl Mariani replacing Bell on guitar, along with sole original member, singer Alex Lowe. From their self titled 1997 debut, here's the band's best known track, the number 29 hit 'Step Into My World', which reached number 19 on its re-release that same year.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Track Of The Day: Foo Fighters - 'The Feast And The Famine'

A highly energised, hard rocking belter from the new Foo Fighters album 'Sonic Highways', which currently sits at number 2 in the UK album charts, beaten only by the new Pink Floyd album, which is kind of inevitable.  The band recorded eight songs for the album, each in a different US city: Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. "This album is instantly recognizable as a Foo Fighters record, but there's something deeper and more musical to it," says Dave Grohl, "I think that these cities and these people influenced us to stretch out and explore new territory, without losing our ‘sound’."

REWIND: Renegade Soundwave - 'The Phantom (It's In There)'

The arrival of the weekend can only mean one thing... that it's time for the weekly Friday Banger. This one is from the pioneering electronic group Renegade Soundwave, a London-based act who formed in 1986. Their early records mixed together the sound of the then embryonic dance scene, east-end hip-hop, dub, sampling and electro-industrial noise. 1989's 'The Phantom' is a fine example, and samples The Clash's 'White Riot'. The group signed to Mute Records for the release of their debut album 'Soundclash', and years later their influence is still felt, with The Chemical Brothers regarding them as one of their biggest influences.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Track Of The Day: Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - 'Do The Damage'

This brilliant uptempo offering can be found on the B-side of Noel Gallagher's new single 'In The Heat Of The Moment', which was released this week on digital download and 7". It can also be found on the deluxe edition of Noel's new album 'Chasing Yesterday', which is out in March next year. 

Of 'Do The Damage' Noel said: "It might be the 23rd best song I ever wrote. It was - for about a year - gonna be the opening track on the album until the 22nd best song I ever wrote appeared..." Good to have you back, Chief.

REWIND: Northern Uproar - 'A Girl I Once Knew'

Today's 'Rewind' is dedicated to the memory of Northern Uproar guitarist Jeff Fletcher, whose life was cut tragically short a few days ago. A superb guitarist with a real instinct for putting together melodies, Jeff was one of the founding members of the band, and added a true rock n roll edge to the music. He will live on through his riffs and through the memories that his fellow bandmates and fans of the group will cherish for many years to come.

Chris Gorman from the band has posted the following statement on their Facebook page:

"I first met Jeff well before i was ten years old as i lived on the same street as him, he was the guy you went too if you were getting any trouble, he would see anyone off for his mates for many years onwards, he was two years older than me .. the phrase 'i'll get Jeff on you" carried a lot of weight!

My mate Phil and i and i really connected with Jeff for the first time when we bought guitars age 12/13, he spoke to us on the school bus one morning when he heard of this,an hourly rate of £3 was quickly agreed and we both started to go round to his loft for lessons and fag smoking sessions. Jeff was always a canny business man.

Jeff really was a musical prodigy.He taught himself Guitar in 6 months .He could play every note of Guns'n'Roses 'Appetite for destruction' (his favourite album) along with the CD and it was so note perfect you couldn't tell what was Jeff and what was the record, he also quickly memorized tracks by Steve Vai and Joe Satriani as if it were child's play . We would all go round and he would rip it up with a cig in his mouth while we all sat open mouthed and amazed.

Anyway, he quickly joined Leon, Pk and Keith in Northern Uproar (then called the paperboys.) When they went round to audition him (he was in within 20 seconds) they found all the recording equipment that had been disappearing from the school musical department for the last couple of months. So now they had an ace guitarist and a home studio.

Jeff recorded my bands first demo on that gear for £7.50 and 3 Kit Kats.

They soon started playing in town, we all went to every gig, all of us (including the band of course) were way under age. They got good fast, a buzz developed around them and the rest is history.

After a bidding war involving Tony Wilson's Factory and a load of other labels, Uproar signed with Heavenly records .A year out of school they were on Top of the Pops. Easy.

After the first album, with a string of summer festivals lined up, Jeff broke his arm in a Go-Cart accident in Blackpool.They needed a guitarist... A few names came up, a few people were tried. Then Jeff asked me 'Do you think you could do it?' in the spirit of the teen bravado the band were known for i said 'Of course i can'.

Jeff didn't have to do that, i was 15. They could have paid any session guy to learn the parts in a few days off the record. Instead , for two months and with his arm in plaster Jeff had me come round to his loft and he taught me every part, not just the notes, but EXACTLY how he wanted them played, it was hard work and i learnt A LOT.A life as a musician grew out of that generous act, i'll never forget that.

The band also let our band rehearse in their studio, use their equipment, everything .No big deal.

Years later i got to play side by side with Jeff in the band in many gigs and on albums too.

Leon and Jeff were like brothers, exactly like brothers.Leon is really hurting, they had such a loyalty to each other and a telepathic, no nonsense way of writing that i got to be part of in the last few years. Nothing was precious and it didn't matter whose idea it was, it came straight from the heart and the balls, often bypassing the head entirely .Then at the end of rehearsals a Northern Uproar song would be there and i would have no idea how we did it. 

As you all know we were/are in the middle of recording an album. Jeff had decided to take a back seat on this one, (the 3rd 'Stand and Fight' album was very much HIS album, Jeff liked riffs, and he knew Leon has had a build up of things that didn't fit on 'All that was has gone) but was very concerned with how it was going and we had his blessing, which was important as i consider it his band, but Jeff was a modest and unassuming guy.
We are all friends first and foremost, we all spoke about the album with Jeff just last Thursday. He wanted to make sure he got his name in the credits along with all the other thankyou's , he said it would make him proud. As if that ever wasn't going to happen, but as i say he was a modest guy, with a big heart. We will finish the record and are trust trying to stay busy and think of the literally endless belly laugh inducing moments he gave us.

Of course the album will be dedicated to Jeff, our brother.

We are thinking of doing some kind of night in memory of him and will let you all know .Also i think we'll have a couple of extra tracks on the album, ones Jeff was really proud of and wanted to add to 'All that was has gone' as bonus tracks.

Thanks for everyone's comments and messages and phone calls, it has really helped.

Our hearts go out to all of Jeff's friends and of course his family.

These are just my own personal thoughts and memories, look after each other everyone.


Northern Uproar are currently recording their fifth album, due for release next year. A biography of the band can be found HERE. In the meantime, here's a track from my favorite NU album, 1998's magnificent 'Yesterday Tomorrow Today'. Rest in peace Jeff and thank for the musical magic you've left behind.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

PHOTOGRAPHY: Levellers, The Selecter, She Makes War (Bristol, November 2014)

On Wednesday night (November 12) the Academy in Bristol played host to the Levellers, who treated the audience to a night of their greatest hits to celebrate over 25 years of being together. Supporting them were ska legends The Selecter and the superb Bristol-based multi instrumentalist She Makes War. Without a doubt one of the finest evenings of music I have ever been present for, this was one big party that threw up plenty of magical moments. A gig review will be coming to these pages very soon, until then here are a selection of photos taken throughout the night.

If you go HERE, you can also read an in depth feature on the Levellers, which includes an interview with frontman Mark Chadwick, where he talks about the past, present and future of the group. The 2 CD/DVD 'Greatest Hits' album is out now, and is available HERE.