Saturday, 31 October 2015

Johnny Harris, Ray Winstone, Paul Weller weigh into boxing drama


Sixties Defined The Who, And Vice Versa says WAMC Radio

PHOTOS: Iconic scooters and Northampton landmarks feature in calendar for teen cancer charity reports the Northampton Chronicle

The Small Faces: The Decca Years 1965-1967 review – the story of mid-60s pop in microcosm by Alexis Petridis of The Guardian

In June 1967, the Small Faces released their second album, From the Beginning. Or rather, the Small Faces didn’t release it. It was put out by their appalling former manager, Don Arden, without the band’s consent, an act of revenge against the quartet for transferring their business to Andrew Loog Oldham and Immediate Records. It appeared in the shops days before the band’s “real” second album, containing early versions of three of its tracks: given that Arden tended to deal with those who crossed him by attempting either to strangle them or throw them out of a high window, you could say the band got off lightly. 

A thrown-together compilation of old singles and demos, conceived entirely out of spite, it should make for an odd centrepiece to The Decca Years. It’s the third disc in a 5CD set that collates pretty much every note the Small Faces recorded while under Arden’s aegis: alternative takes of hits; an instrumental backing track called, alas, Picanniny; live radio performances that sound like they were taped off air by some enterprising soul with a microphone and a reel-to-reel recorder. But From the Beginning inadvertently told the story of British pop in the mid-60s in microcosm. Over the course of its 14 tracks, you can hear a seismic shift in focus: from lightweight pop designed to wring some quick cash out of what some people still thought was a passing fad and attempts to mimic US R&B, to an LSD-fuelled musical universe in which you could sing with impunity about listening to the flowers breathing. 

It was a journey undertaken at white-knuckle speed. Everything on From the Beginning – in fact, everything on The Decca Years – was recorded in the space of 15 months. But the Small Faces should have been better equipped to navigate it than most. They arrived swaggering, the cocky self-assurance of What’cha Gonna Do About It? a counterpart to the Who’s twitchy anger and anxiety. Pete Townshend constantly picked at the neuroses of the burgeoning mod subculture – class, violence, sexual confusion, the moments when grimy real life intruded upon the fantasy world of all-night clubs and clothes and drugs – but the Small Faces were all strut and show. Even their amphetamine psychosis came with a side order of bravado. “I just can’t stop my brain from running wild,” sang Steve Marriott amid the noisy swirl of E Too D, but not before he’d assured the listener: “I’ve got everything I want, there’s nothing that I need.” You could see where their confidence came from. They looked great. Their take on R&B was thrillingly tough and full, bolstered by Marriott’s voice – he could sing a Sam Cooke or Otis Redding number without sounding hopelessly pasty and knock-kneed – and a side-order of feedback and flailing, distorted guitar that kept it from pastiche. They also had a blossoming songwriting partnership in Marriott and bassist Ronnie Lane. 

However, as The Decca Years demonstrates, their passage through the mid-60s wasn’t straightforward. Their second single, a glowering Marriott/Lane track called I Got Mine, failed to chart, and Don Arden then lumbered them with Sha-La-La-La-Lee, co-written by light entertainment staple Kenny Lynch. It made No 3, but that couldn’t hide the fact that it was a trite song that might have been by Freddie and the Dreamers, launched into a chart that contained 19th Nervous Breakdown, Day Tripper, Dedicated Follower of Fashion and the Yardbirds’ Shapes of Things. The Small Faces were understandably mortified, but they toughed it out, roaring back with two superb Marriott/Lane singles, Hey Girl and All Or Nothing. Their debut album was an odd compromise: more poppy Lynch co-writes of varying degrees of charm – as with Sha-La-La-La-Lee, the Small Faces play them with a ferocity at odds with the material – wired-sounding R&B covers, the noisy pop-art experimentation of E Too D. 

Everything changed the moment Ronnie Lane unwittingly scoffed a segment of orange laced with LSD at a party of Brian Epstein’s. A bass player nicknamed Plonk in reference to the size of his penis, Lane was perhaps one of 60s pop’s more unlikely gurus of lysergica self-realisation. But was a role to which he was remarkably well-suited, as evidenced by My Mind’s Eye, an account of the spiked-orange incident and its aftermath. It is the Small Faces’ equivalent of the Beatles’ Rain, the acid initiate staring back at the “straight” world, but while John Lennon sneers from a position of enlightened superiority – “they might as well be dead” – Lane sounds warm and open-hearted, forgiving the people sniggering at his new-found spiritual leanings. The music on Rain sets out to disorientate, but My Mind’s Eye sounds oddly comforting and familiar, as if inviting the listener to join in: it swipes its melody from the carol Ding Dong Merrily On High. 

Acid seemed to immediately strip the Small Faces of the preening machismo you can hear on their debut album. In its place came a brand of psychedelia that was charming and wry, devoid of self-importance, a veritable advert for the benefits of doing your crust in with LSD. Its first stirrings are here, on In the Beginning’s plangent That Man and Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, the latter featuring a game attempt to approximate the sound of a sitar with an acoustic guitar, and on the 76-second long Just Passing, its atmosphere – simultaneously swirling and bucolic, the countryside viewed through an acid lens – and exaggerated Cockney intro a signpost to their 1968 masterpiece Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake. 

Psychedelia suited the Small Faces. Under its influence, they made better records than the ones collected here – Green Circles, Itchycoo Park, Afterglow (of Your Love), Tin Soldier – but that isn’t meant to damn The Decca Years with faint praise. It shows them steering their way through whatever the mid-60s threw at them – from new drugs to featherweight pop – with enviable panache. “Stay cool, won’t you?” guest star Stanley Unwin implored listeners at the end of Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake. As The Decca Years demonstrates, the Small Faces were never anything but.

Paul Orwell's new 7" single, 'Fangz', (Heavy Soul) is available to order from today!

Fangz available 8 a.m. Saturday 31st October

Video exclusive 12 midday on Fred Perry Subculture

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Jelly Roll Club, Peterborough - Gonzo reports on the 12th September night

After hearing good things about the Peterborough based Jellyroll Cub, the latest event was on the radar so the postcode was entered into the sat nav the evening of a gloomy night in September and off we went. With the aid of said Sat Nav the journey was smooth and painless and we soon found outrselves climbing the flight of stairs to the Burghley Square Club room.

After paying and entering the room we soon saw a couple of familiar faces (Dave Webb & Sammy Tredell) and quite soon Paul Bromely and Darrin Clarke were introducing the club and some of its history to me. Up and running for about 10 years with Juliian Roberts organising and stalwart Oxford Paul as the DJ backbone developing from the thriving Northern Soul Scene in the area. The events are on roughly each quarter, not too reguarly so it allows a build up to the excitement of the next night. The resident DJ line up is top notch and the invited visiting DJ's have historically been of the highest calibre.

The room is a good size with a good lit seating area around the traditional bar near to the entrance with a couple of steps leading down to more seating around a very good sized dancefloor. The DJ decks neatly placed out of the way to the left but right in front of the dancefloor.

The crowd were in the main very smart indeed! I felt a little dressed down without a jacket (not for the last time recently!) so remember to dress up when you attend....

No disco type or fancy lighting but it didn't detract from the cool vibe too much. Resident DJ's Paul D and Glen were warming the atmosphere nicely as the crowd built. Just a few of the people I spotted there initially that night were Neil and Sally Youdale, Terry Grant, Sam Nigel Fricker, Suzi Brewer and Perdita Casswell Jennek

As soon as Jon Godden got on the decks myself and Gaynor couldn't resist getting out on the floor and we were pretty much there for the rest of the evening. We took a shine to Jon at Manchester Hideaway and he plays a great mix of great RnB, Latin and Soul. The locals must be spoilt as Jon is a regular there and I was suprised more weren't getting on their feet.

However when Oxford Paul came on the decks the dancefloor was soon very active. Its the first time I have heard Oxford Paul and with his roots more in the Jamacian sound I wasn't sure what to expect but he certainly knows his stuff and played some excellent sounds and a few new to me too, highly recommended!

Now the room was bubbling away. A smart, cool, crowd dancing and a great buzz. By the time Wayne Napier-Gibbens took his turn at the decks he had an eager crowd and he didn't fail in delivering. Quite a diverse set and choc full of gems! Wayne looks sharp, spins a great mixed set and knows how to get the room on its feeet.

By the time we bid our goodbyes near to closing time and tumbled out into the cool night the drive home seemed daunting! Aching limbs were not happy about the hour drive back.

So the Jellyroll... Great sized and layout room, Fantastic DJ's, friendly and very smart crowd....

Ultimately the best compliment I can give the Jellyroll is that the next night is on Nov 14th and avoiding major disasters I will be there and most likely on the dancefloor all night again... but this time with a jacket on!! I hope to see some of you there...

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Lost Steve Marriott tracks from 1967 on limited edition 45 via new edition of Record Collector magazine

The new edition of Record Collector magazine tells the story of how Steve Marriott persuaded Glyn Johns to produce a 1967 recording (originally telling him it was a Small Faces session) at Olympic Studios (room 2) whilst Jimi Hendrix was recording in the studio next door.

The two instrumentals recorded featured Jerry Shirley on drums with his brother Angus on guitar. Marriott played organ whilst Peter Dines contributed piano, Bob Argent bass and Ernie Hayes also played guitar.

The 7" 45 has been made available by Record Collector in a limited run of 400 - you need to be quick as mine arrived this morning with the certificate number 272. Jimi's Tune Part 1 is a great organ groover whilst Jimi's Tune Part 2 is much more broody and atmospheric as it builds up.

Record Collector also includes an exclusive interview with Dave Davies of The Kinks and a review of the new Georgie Fame box-set.

R&B at the Horse & Jockey, Doncaster, on Saturday 31st October

Ad-Lib R&B Soul Club, Lincoln, on Saturday 28th November

The Printworks Raises The Roof For The Christie With Manchester Soul Festival

 First ever Manchester Soul Festival at The Printworks a roaring success 

 Over £18,000 raised for The Christie NHS Foundation Trust 

 Overwhelming support from Northern Soul fans means festival is set to be an annual event 

The city of Manchester remains forever faithful to the iconic Northern Soul movement, as proved by the Bank Holiday buzz of the Manchester Soul Festival. Over 35,000 soulies from up and down the country made their way to The Printworks on Sunday, 30th August to enjoy live music from over 30 bands and artists, paying tribute to Motown and soul music, in aid of The Christie Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. 

Pre-sales of wristbands on JustGiving reached an astronomical £11,000, with a further £7,000 being raised by sales on the day. Friends and supporters of the cause donated raffle prizes and silent auction gifts, including rare vinyl records and exclusive soul merchandise. Bids will remain open for the silent auction until 14th September, and details on prizes and how to enter can be found on The Printworks website. 

Influential Northern Soul fans and BBC Radio DJs, Richard Searling and Stuart Maconie supported the event on their dedicated radio shows. The event was also attended by Emmerdale’s Adam Thomas, whose dad fronts The Dougie James Soul Train that performed on the main stage. 

Manchester Soul Festival is the brainchild of Manchester DJ, Frank Byrne, a devotee to the Northern Soul scene for over thirty years. Frank was sadly diagnosed with oesophagus cancer in October 2014 and started receiving chemotherapy treatment at The Christie, a specialist hospital in Withington, South Manchester and one of the largest cancer treatment centres in Europe. Touched by the exceptional care he received at The Christie, Frank got in contact with the many musicians and DJs he has worked with over the years, to put on a special fundraiser. 

Fred Booth, Centre Director said: “The Printworks was packed to the rafters for the Manchester Soul Festival and we have been blown away by the generosity and passion for the event. Frank is an influential part of the Mancunian music scene and it’s fantastic to see the support come flooding in for such a good cause. It was a great team effort with lots of the venues within The Printworks running special food and drink offers to celebrate the occasion. Northern Soul is a huge part of the city’s culture and we are hoping to make this an annual event.”  

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