Monday, 29 December 2014

Hard Rock's Stray Band

Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, MC5, Mountain, Deep Purple and… Stray?

The canon of hard rock and heavy metal is filled with founders and originators. Some argue The Kinks created the genre in 1964, others claim Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath were the bands who ushered in the heavy era of rock. 
But one band who helped define the sound Hard Rock is Stray who were made up of a bunch of teenagers from London who formed in 1966 and played together until 1997.
To help indulge the music lovers amongst us, I decided that we should all be aware of the rocking impulsive sounds which come from Stray. To help me tell you about the band and its history I enlisted the help of Stray's guitarist Del Bromham.

M-D M: Who were your earliest musical influences?

Del Bromham: Well All my family loved music and my older brother Allan had a band so consequently there was always music playing in my house.

I remember the first record that had a big impact on me even though I was just a small child was Elvis Presley - Heartbreak Hotel. Just something about the sound of that recording. Eddie Cochrane - loved the sound of those big strumming guitars.

When I got into my teenage years I loved everything that was coming out of the Tamla Motown and Stax labels. In the UK, bands like The Small Faces and The Spencer Davis Group/Traffic both of whom had two of my favourite singers Steve Marriott and Stevie Winwood, but ultimately my biggest influence has to be The Beatles. For me, they, along with George Martin changed the face of recording and songwriting.

Were you a musical child (Would you say you were naturally able to play music)?

DB: In all modesty I think I was. I suppose because of my brother there were always guitars hanging around the house. One of my first Christmas presents was a toy drum kit. It may have been a toy but it had a bass drum pedal and good sounding skins. I put myself up to sing songs in my junior school and I got my first guitar when I was about 11 years old. It was a guitar somebody had dumped in my brothers dustbin, so he brought it home and gave it to me.

Was Stray your first band?

DB: I suppose it was really. we were all 15 years old and met at school and realised we had the same interests. From the age of 13, I had a couple of groups, you know the sort of thing where school mates get together and changed the name of the group every few months.

It was at those times where I first met Steve Gadd and Gary Giles who along with Ritchie Cole,another lad from a neighbouring school, became Stray. I have to mention my brother again as I joined his band called The Traders when I was just thirteen years old. I was playing various clubs and functions and going to school as well. It served me well like an apprenticeship who might get in a 'normal' job!

How did the band form?

DB: Like I said I had met Steve Gadd and Gary Giles (vocals and bass guitar respectively) when we attended Christopher Wren School in West London. To be honest I didn't know if Steve could sing, I just assumed he could. He was the fashionable one at school. All the latest clothes and hair styles. A real mini Steve Marriott. I remember by comparison to the rest of us, he had a young mum who must have influenced and encouraged his look.

Gary Giles used to come around to my house and play guitar. He had learnt a bunch of Hank Marvin/Shadows tunes and I used to back him up on rhythm guitar. I eventually persuaded him to take up the bass guitar. Another kid in our school was Steve Crutchley who played drums. We got together and I knew there was something different about the sound we made, even though we were playing a lot of popular songs from that time interspersed with songs which I had started to write.

Steve Crutchley left after about a year after to join a traditional jazz band. Steve Gadd had a friend Ritchie Cole who was playing drums for a band in another school. I went to see him play and asked if he wanted to join us. He said yes and the rest is history.

Did Stray tour much at the beginning of its career? If so can you share one of your fondest memories of its earlier touring life?
DB: I suppose we were lucky really. Somehow as soon as we formed we were off playing in pubs and clubs. I'm not sure how that happened really? We always went down very well and I suppose we were something of a novelty being so young. We always had to get someone to drive us in Ritchie's dads van and we were too young to have a drink in the pubs so it was Coca Cola for us!

We soon had an agent and we were off playing initially all around London. We soon met our first management team Peter Amott and Ivan Mant and they were a big influence on us to develop our writing and performance. We soon moved away from the pub circuit to the progressive club scene which was growing in the late 1960's.

Can you talk me through the incident where the coastguard thought the band had sent a distress call when they saw stage flares?

DB: Oh Yes! We were booked to play the Weeley Festival. We knew it was going to be a big festival. Remember there had been the first of a few successful and legendary festivals such as Woodstock, Isle of Wight and Reading Festivals which had just begun. We were becoming known for the pyrotechnics and light show which we used so it was decided we should deliver something special for such an important show. Our road crew purchased a lot of various pyrotechnics. We were the last band on.

It was the early hours of the morning and at the end of our set the stage and the sky was alight with explosions, rockets, thunderflashes and rockets. I doubt there had ever been such a display at the end of a rock show before! People still talk of that today, all those years on!

However what we did not realise, our crew had inadvertently purchased distress flares the type used by ships or boats which are launched if a craft is in trouble. Weeley is in Essex, England and unknown to us at the time, the Lifeboats based in Clacton on Sea were launched looking for a ship or boat in trouble. Consequently we sent The Lifeboat Society a donation. Rock 'n Roll eh?

Stray's debut album is one of my favourite hard rock albums. Do you have any interesting stories from the recording of the album that you'd like to share?

DB: Well we had been in recording studios before but only to record demos, but this was the 'Real thing'. You have to remember we were only 17 and 18 years of age at this time. We had just signed our first recording contract with Transatlantic Records we had management and we were already doing well on the club circuit. We were now going in to record our first album in a professional recording studio, Sound Techniques in London with a real producer Hugh Murphy!

I only realised recently that we had lots of songs at that time but interestingly enough and I still don't know why but we didn't use many of them and when the album was released we promoted those songs and the other songs were forgotten, I suppose because we were constantly writing new material. I think we realised while in this studio that we could do so much more than we thought. The whole process really fuelled our imagination and this gave us great encouragement to do more and quite honestly we wanted to go back in the studio and do more and more. I believe that is one of the things that got us back in the studio to record the second album Suicide soon after the first album.

Also on a lighter note, even now when I smell coffee I always think of that album and that studio. Maybe because being so young at that time I didn't drink much coffee, but the coffee machine was always on and the smell of coffee wafted around the studio all day!

Being part of the early "Hard Rock" scene, did you have much contact with other similarly heavy groups?

DB: To be honest with you with had very little personal contact with other bands. The times were very different then, difficult to explain really, but it seemed back in those days bands kept themselves pretty much to themselves. I think our management at that time wanted to keep us apart from other bands. Not sure why really maybe to create a bit of mystique around us, I don't know. I do know that the scene is very different now and I have had this conversation with many artists from that time and they all seem to say the same as me. We kept ourselves to ourselves!

Stray had a lot of contact with The Groundhogs in their early career. Were there friendships between the bands, or what?

DB: We were signed to Worldwide Artistes in 1973 and The Groundhogs were on their rosta with Wilf Pine as our personal manager. We soon went on the first of many UK tours with them.
At that time I would not say we were friends as much as fellow musicians or bands on the road together.

Having said that in recent years I have worked a lot with Tony McPhee and I now consider him to be what I call a friend. A couple of years ago Tony and I attended the Newark Blues Festival where along with Andy Fraser (Free) we were given 'Lifetime Achievement' awards.

What was the American reaction to you when you toured there in 1975? The American took to hard rock a fair bt after the Brits.

DB: I have to say that wherever we went in the USA and we seemed to go everywhere, big cities, small towns ... you name it we played it. We always got a great reaction from the audience. The Americans really did take a liking to British bands at that time.

What did you think of KISS when you opened for them?

DB: They had a great stage show. They just went on and rocked every song like it was the last song of the show. From our point of view what was quite ironic was that we had by that time dropped all the pyrotechnics we had previously been using as the press predominantly had been criticising us for using them saying that we needed them to cover up our lack of musical ability which by any means was very harsh! So we thought, ok, we will show you that we can play without any gimmicks.

Kiss were really nice guys to us and we used to get together after the shows. I had a call recently from a couple of guys from the band The Quireboys who were touring with Joe Elliot with The Down 'n Outs. They told me that Gene Simmonds was talking to them in their dressing room and he was recalling that first UK tour and mentioned what a good band Stray were and mentioned me by name.

Why did the band initial break up?

DB: A combination of reasons really. The main one being financial! Our Management Company at that time were becoming less involved due to other commitments. Unfortunately for us we were still contracted to them and could not move elsewhere. Mainly due to this uncertainty many agents would not get involved with us and consequently the gigs were drying up and the bills were mounting up.

We were up against a brick wall and we could not find a solution. All we could do at that time was to sell our assets i.e. our equipment and pay the bills which had become huge! In retrospect we should have looked harder for another solution but at that time I suppose we panicked and did what we thought was right.

Stray reunited throughout the 80s. & 90s why did the reunions always fail to continue?

DB: Hard to say really. We as individuals were living very different lives. Geographically we were scattered all over England where as before we all lived close to each other in London. So once again financially it wasn't viable. I had been performing pretty much as a solo artist so I was quite happy with what I was doing anyway.

There were petty arguments between certain members which had not been resolved from times gone by and all in all it was not fun like it used to be. I guess it is true to say that particularly after such a break you cannot re-live the past. Having said that I think we are all a bit more worldly wise so things could be different now. That's an age thing I suppose?

How long has the current Stray line-up been together?

DB: Myself, Karl Randall on drums and Stuart Uren on bass guitar have been together now for ten years. Stuart and I have been playing on and off since about 1979.

Karl had been playing with Greg Ridley's Humble Pie. When Greg passed away, Dean Rees who was the keyboard player who I knew, asked if we could get together to play a benefit/tribute show in the memory of Greg at The O2 Islington London. Once we'd rehearsed together and played the show we realised that there was something special happening. I was playing some solo shows and I had been asked if I could play some shows as Stray. So we played many shows together but then Dean began acting and then went off to America so rather than replace him we remained as a three piece. In 2014 we have played mainly festivals and former singer/guitarist Peter Dyer has joined us for many of these shows and may well appear with us for some shows in the future.

Did you ever think the band would still be going 40+ years after it was formed?

DB: Probably not. I'm not sure as a young man what I was expecting to be doing 40 years on. I'm think when you are young one tends to think more about today than tomorrow.

What would you say is your proudest achievement from your time in the music industry?
DB: Ooh that's a tough one! Probably Iron Maiden (Steve Harris in particular) recording 'All in your mind' and publicly acknowledging how much of an influence Stray were to him and his band.

I have got to know legendary guitarist Leslie West very well and I wrote a song with him titled 'To the moon' which is on his album 'Unusual Suspects' featuring many artistes such as Joe Bonamassa, Steve Lukather, Slash and Billy Gibbons to name but a few. The album was nominated for a Grammy in the USA.

Getting the lifetime achievement award as mentioned earlier. However I suppose the biggest accolade is constantly meeting musicians and fans alike who tell me how much my music means to them. Doesn't get much better than that!

Out of everyone who you opened for/performed with, who is the act that you are proudest of appearing with/opening for?

DB: I'll take you back to The California Ballroom in Dunstable UK about 1968. The average age of my band were about 16/17 years old.

I mentioned earlier that one of my biggest influences was Steve Winwood. Well you cannot imagine how excited this young kid was when he was told he was going to be supporting 'Traffic'. For me that was a life changing moment!!!!!

For the musos out there, that night Steve Winwood was using a Gibson Firebird guitar. I just had to have one which subsequently I did get one and continue to use to this day. Funnily enough people tend to associate me with The Firebird Guitar. I have four of those now plus many other guitars which is a long way from my first guitar which was dumped in my brothers dustbin! As my old mate Mick Box says 'Happy days'!!!

Friday, 12 December 2014

AC/DC do Wembley, Will they do Glastonbury 2015?

Today, hard rock legends AC/DC announced that they are doing a european tour in summer 2015. Among the dates are June 28th, Glasgow, July 1st, Dublin and July 4th, London.

Now these dates leave a auspicious date open in their touring calendar. June 26/7th, part of the Glastonbury weekend. They have been rumoured to headline glastonbury since they announced a new album, and the tour announcement has made many fans excitedly anticipate their headlining of Glastonbury.

Tickets for the tour go on sale 9.30 am GMT on December 17th.

The tour will not feature long-time member and founder Malcolm Young who is currently suffering from dementia, and whether or not drummer Phil Rudd will take part is currently unknown as he was recently arrested for  drug charges and threats to kill.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Johnny Rotton on Simon Cowell "Our worst enemy"

Speaking at event in Oxford university Johnny Lydon (Rotton) spoke about Simon Cowell while promoting his new autobiography Anger Is An Energy.

At the event he called Simon Cowell "Our worst enemy. I dont think [the contestants] on the show [X-Factor] are awful, it becomes awful when they become trained into that cruise ship show band mentality."

Talking of Cowell he said that he "has got us all on his big cruise ship lollipop, and I ain't licking his lollipop."

In the talk he went on to insult Band Aid, saying it was "full of corruption", and pointed out that the administration takes all of the money. He then went on to insult Phil Collins' role in Band Aid, insulting him being at both Live Aid performances.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014


In a attempt to appear at least slightly modern here is a little piece on one of the most fascinating young guitar bands.

Deers are a all-female Spanish band who pretty much adhere strictly to the music set by NME as C86. Which is the genre name for a certain form of Indie Jangle Pop.

If you follow Indie music its likely that you've heard of this band before. They've been getting blogged about and talked about by almost everyone who loves guitar music, and that is perhaps fair enough.

They play their music in one of the most devil may care ramshackle attitudes that I've ever heard. They sound like Girlpool yet have hints of Phil Spector and The Wedding Present. They are unique.

*Note. 7/1/14 Deers has changed their name to Hinds after threat of legal action from namesake band

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

The passing of Rock's greatest Saxophonist.

Yesterday Bobby Keys died.

With him went the greatest saxophonist of the Rock n Roll era. He may not have rivalled the great jazz saxophonists, but he indubitably changed the sound of Rock N Roll.

Perhaps best known for his affiliation with The Rolling Stones (He was born on the same day as Keith  Richards). Here, in his honour, is a list of his finest moments.

The Wanderer - Dion 

Brown Sugar - The Rolling Stones 

Can't You Hear Me Knocking - The Rolling Stones

Whatever Gets You Through The Night - John Lennon

Among his other greatest achievements include playing on George Harrison's All Things Must Pass, The Stones' Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, Exile On Main St., and hundreds of other amazing albums.

Heres what some of his colleagues and friends have reacted with.

"'Another good bye to another good friend' I will miss you, Bobby" - Keith Richards

"Thank you Bobby keys for the time we spent together God bless you peace and love to your family" - Ringo Starr

"RIP Bobby Keys. You were always so kind and so in the groove. Safe passage to the stars, brother"- Ryan Adams

"We met Bobby Keys a few times when we supported The Rolling Stones. What a talent, gone too soon. Rest in peace Bobby" - Tim Burgess

"One of the greatest rock n roll musicians in history has gone on today." - Sheryl Crow

10 things learned from Sleater-Kinney's Reddit IAMA

Yesterday (2/12/14), famous Riot Grrl band Sleater-Kinney took to Reddit to promote their recent reunion. Below are the top 10 things that were learned from the IAMA. See the full IAMA here.

1. Why the band don't use Bass?

"Funny thing but I don't really love low end. That big bass sound that hits you in your gut is unpleasant! Not having a bass allows for the drums to occupy an interesting space in the music, which I really love. Also, bass players often make those funny faces." - Janet Weiss

2. Does Janet Weiss think that pop stars have cheapened the use of fans on stage?

"You just put me and my fan in the same sentence as JLo and Beyonce? That is kind of awesome. I am not using it for the wind blown look, but to keep from sweating profusely. Not as sexy as those other ladies, right?"

3. Will there be a Portlandia skit involving the reunion?

"Unlikely. But Fred offered to be our roadie in real life."

4. Our Pearl jam as cool in real life?

"I think we met Eddie Vedder through some mutual friends in Seattle. He has always been really supportive of our music and invited us to open for PJ. YES, the whole band is just as cool in real life. They were all so kind to us!" - Corin Tucker

5.How much of their sound is in the producer or studio and how much just comes from the band as musicians?

"Our work with our producers, especially Dave Fridmann and John Goodmanson is a collaboration. What really is happening though is that we are all serving the songs - what do they require? Where are we taking the sound? We push the ideas and together make sure we are getting far enough with them to convey the true meaning of the music. The studio and the experience can contribute but when listening to the record it is often difficult to know which albums were difficult to make and which were not. One the new album we definitely were trying to achieve an edgy immediacy."

6. How has Carrie's voice got better over the course of the band's history?

"When you sing with someone like Corin you have to step up your game. I am not a singer but I can write a melody."

7. What sort of songs can fans expect on this tour?

"We have been practicing songs from each album in addition to the new songs. Probably not a lot of rarities as those might have been weeded out years ago for a reason! Some songs fit together in the set better and some are just our favorites like Jumpers or Oh!"

8. What will other songs on the album sound like?

They unveiled one of the songs here, on sound cloud.

9. Thoughts on the media.

"I would love for the media to celebrate more diversity. Stereotypes are so stifling and can quell creativity. We need to open up options as far as the complexity of our personalities. Who we see on the screen or the words we read can help us understand the human condition as fluid and mysterious and not always one thing or another."

10. The artist they've most wanted to cover, but never have.


Monday, 1 December 2014

80s the best decade for Christmas music

Blinkbox has published a poll which has revealed that the 80s was the best decade for Christmas music, hence the worst decade for music.

The poll found that 36% of the people asked believed the 80s was had the best Christmas music. While 25% say 70s and 10% say 90s.

The poll say The Pogues Fairytale Of New York be voted the best Christmas song ever, while Wham & Bing Crosby and David Bowie also scored well.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

George Harrison & His 71st Birthday

George; a 71 year saint would have looked fondly his lawns in Friars Park as he awoke on the 29th Of November. His death day. Unfortunately George is not able to act this scenario for me, as he passed on in 2001.

Personally, George has always been the Beatle who spoke to me. George always seemed, better. Ringo was the one I think I could of been buddies with, he would say a joke, I'd say a joke. Paul was the one who I reckon I'd be friends with but I'd get I'd feel a little too clean if I spent too much time with him. John is the one who is raw and unafraid. George was silent, funny, and thoughtful, exactly how I like humans.

You'll find everyone talking about him nowadays. How he had the best post-Beatles solo album; the immaculate All Things Must Pass, how he had the first and last solo number 1 out of all the Beatles: My Sweet Lord & Got My Mind Set On You. And about how Martin Scorsese made one of the best documentaries ever about him Living In The Material World .

The cult of George is large, fruitful and enterable. He could do pop, world, psychedelic, Blues, Rock, Old-time, folk and almost anything he felt like doing.

Here i'm going to recommend a few deep cuts of his to the uninitiated.

I'd Have You Anytime (1970) 

Now, its hard to say anything on All Thing Must Pass is ignored, but this song is a pure classic. If I were asked, what does All Things Must Pass sound like? I'd show them this track, its near pure perfection, wrote by mssrs Dylan & Harrison.

Miss O'Dell (1973)

A B-side to a groupie in the middle of his divorce from Patti Boyd, surely its a creepy love song? 
No, it really isn't. It was the B-side to Give me Love (another bit of gold). Chris O'dell herself was very fond of the song and used the name as the title for her very-readable autobiography. 

Dark Horse (1974) 

How can the song an album is named after be a deep cut? Because the album was/and is neglected. George's voice is perhaps, well terrible, but the songs itself is very very good, and several bootleg versions show George singing it with his voice in a far better condition. 

This Guitar (Can't Keep From Crying) (1975)

A sequel to While My Guitar Gently Weeps. The song naturally fails to beat its predecessor but is itself a very good track, If a bit uninspired. Alongside You it is the album highlight of Extra Texture one of George's most ignored albums. 

Crackerbox Palace (1976)

The Harrison fans will now start saying how this is not a deep cut. No it isn't, its a beautiful song wrote about Lord Buckley's house. Its crazy, monty-python-in-music goodness, and is a under recognised tune. 

Mo (1977) 

This is without a doubt the rarest song on this list. It was wrote for Mo Ostin the president of Warner Bros Records. It is a beautiful throw-back to George's earlier solo career.

Faster (1979)

George's F1 obsession in single form. Its was probably George's best tracks since 1973 in my opinion. Its a very good tune.

Flying Hour (1980) 

One of the songs that were rejected from the Somewhere In England album by Warner Bros, (3/4 of them are classics). This would have been the best song on that album, I still have no clue why they were rejected. 

Circles (1982) 

One of George's most outlandish tracks, proving just how unique it was, only George could have made it. 

Devil's Radio (1987)

Gossip, is the Devil's Radio. This is George's response to all the rumours about him during his 5 year absence from the music industry. Cloud 9 is a damn good album, and i'm also in love with Thats What It Takes but that is far too pop to be said aloud. 

Looking For My Life (2002) 

George posthumous album was one of his finest. It easily rivalled Cloud 9 while being slightly worse than All Things Must Pass and Living In The Material World. This song is perhaps his most Beatles track on the record. 

RIP My Sweet Lord

Ronnie Montrose Would Be 67th Birthday

"You know you don't please everybody" - Ronnie Montrose
 Ronnie Montrose; the leader ofAmerican rock band: Montrose & Gamma passed away on the 3rd March 2012. If he had lived he would have been 67 today, 29th November 2014.

Ronnie's first foray into the music world was in band Sawbuck with Bill Church, but in the middle of recording Sawbuck's debut, producer David Rubinson gave Ronnie a audition to play on Van Morrison's Tupelo Honey. Ronnie got the job.

Ronnie then played with Boz Scaggs, before joint the Edgar Winter Group, where he played on such hits as Free Ride & Frankenstein. 

With Sammy Hagar in 1973, he formed Rock band Montrose. The band released two albums Montrose (1973) and Paper Money (1974).

The second edition of Montrose with Bob James instead of Hagar released two albums Warner Bros Present…. Montrose (1975) & Jump On It (1976) before breaking up.

Ronnie's first solo release was the all-instrumental Open Fire (1978). Ronnie then started Hard Rock band Gamma who released 3 albums initially and a 4th in 2000.

In Ronnie's later years he reunited with Montrose (with Sammy Hagar) and performed on-and-off until 2011, when he formed the Ronnie Montrose Band.

However on the 3rd March 2012, Ronnie shot himself. Committing suicide.

RIP Ronnie Montrose

Friday, 28 November 2014

Jimmy Page On Royal Blood "Absolutely riveting"

In a recent interview with NME (See here), Jimmy Page has said that Royal Blood (Young UK Hard rock band) are capable of "Taking rock into a new realm".

Jimmy Page praised the rock duo in the interview saying that "Their album has taken the genre up a serious few notches". Page saw the duo in New York in May, and complimented they performance "They were fantastic. Absolutely riveting".

Royal Blood will be opening for The Foo Fighters alongside Iggy Pop during The Foo Fighters 2015 UK tour. Meanwhile Jimmy Page has expressed interest in touring in 2015, and has recently published a pictorial autobiography.

Royal Blood's Little Monsters

Most significant Beatles performances

In honour of the 40th anniversary John Lennon's last concert appearance: 28th November 1974. I'm going to list the top 5 most significant Beatles performances of their career.

The band's touring schedule was famously cut short in 1966, after becoming increasingly annoyed with the fact that they could not hear themselves perform, and the fact that there songs could no longer be recreated for a audience with just 4 Beatles.

Tour with Roy Orbison (May 18th - June 9th 1963) 

Riding high off their Please Please Me album, Brian Epstein (The bands manager), organised a 'joint' tour between the Beatles and Rock N Roll superstar Roy Orbison. 

The Beatles during the tour were reportedly shown up by Orbison's performances, and reports claim that Roy stole almost every show. 

During the performances The Beatles wrote She Loves You and All My Loving during the tour. 

George and John continued their friendship with Orbison after the tour, and George and Roy created the Travelling Wilbury's together alongside Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty & Bob Dylan.

Ed Sullivan Show - February 9th 1964. 

The only certainty on a list like this. Its said their appearance changed the world. Its hard to argue it didn't. 

The show was possibly the first moment of international Beatlemania, and their unthreatening performance would set the stage for a live career of being unable to hear themselves. 

Shea Stadium - August 15th 1965 

The world's biggest concert ever. At that point. 

55,000 teenage fans, Sunday evening, and The Beatles, perhaps the hysteria at the performance was valid. 

The record-breaking nature of the concert is what makes it significant. But the concert was also filmed, and shows a remarkable visual capture of Beatlemania, and the hysteria, and fandom which the Beatles spawned.

Manilla, Philippines - July 4th 1966 

This gig is significant not for being anything special of a performance, but for the aftermath of the concert. 

The significance started because the first lady of the Philippines, Imelda Marcos (Still alive), invited them to lunch. Brian Epstein refused (As it was The Beatles policy to refuse such requests). In return the public lashed out as they saw the refusal as a affront to Marcos, as did Marcos herself. 

The band quickly fled out of the Philippines, however not their way to the airport they were attacked by a mob, and Mal Evans (The band long-tern roadie) was even carried off by the mob. 

In the end the band had to pay their earning from the concerts in Manilla, just to escape.

This escapade made the Beatles become far less enthusiastic about touring. They would stop touring a month later. 

Rooftop of Abbey Road Studios - January 30th 1969

Perhaps the most stereotypical Beatles moment. Due to its inclusion in the Let It Be film. 

The 4 Beatles, as well as Billy Preston went on the roof of the Abbey Road Studios to give the film something interesting. The passers-by no doubt agreed that it was interesting. 

In the performance the band played a series of their unreleased songs from their Let It Be album, before the police arrived to order The Beatles to stop playing. 

Upon which John Lennon said in typical Beatles enduring fashion "Thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition". 

Koerner, Ray & Glover

Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Phil Ochs and Koerner Ray & Glover. 1 of these names is a household name, 2 of these names recognisable for most music fans, but 1 is left to be ignored by all who are not experts on folk. Koerner, Ray & Glover met at the university of Minnesota, and became stars of the Folk revival.

Their breakthrough album Blues, Rags and Hollers was released in 1963, to heaps of success which gave them a recording contract for 2 albums with Elektra.

Together they have been credited with influencing many musicians including: Bob Dylan & Bonnie Raitt.

The trio continued to reunite throughout the 20th century, until 2002, when Ray died on the 28th of November. Koerner & Glover meanwhile still perform together infrequently.

This post was made today in appreciation of Dave "Snaker" Ray who passed on today, 12 years ago.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Tom Petty on Travelling Wilburys

Tom Petty has recently done a interview with Classic Rock Magazine (Read it here). In the interview Petty talked about The Travelling Wilburys, the supergroup he was part of alongside George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne & Roy Orbison.

The band came about due to Harrison needing a B-side for This Is Love. The song which came about Handle With Care was deemed far too good for a simple B-side by the band. So they decided to form The Travelling Wilburys (A recurring joke of Harrison's).

In the interview Petty said "That extra track turned into the Travelling Wilburys. It was a wonderful time. There was never a negative moment doing that. We really enjoyed that. I think we made that record for us really"

"Those 10 tracks were all we did. We'd go and cut the track. We'd have to dinner, and work on the lyrics over dinner, and then go to do the vocals - Bang. I love those guys" said Petty. The Band released two albums Vol 1 & Vol 3.

Twin Peaks - Band Profile

17th February 2015 - 100 Club, London.

Mark the date. Because one of the hottest commodities in contemporary music are in town. Twin Peaks, are a power pop/jangle pop band, they are perhaps one of the most talented bands of their genre nowadays and their album Wild Onions of 2014, was very very good.

The band playfully intwine their guitars to echo the sounds perhaps most accurately of Weezer. Whose similar power chords and power pop dual combination are perhaps nearing identical to Chicago's Twin Peaks.

Al Jackson Jr - Would-Be-79-Birthday

"Al Jackson was the greatest single stroke player I ever hear in my life" said Steve Cropper , in a interview with Jim Payne for his book Give The Drummers Some!.
Perhaps one of the greatest stories in American music history, is that of the multi-racial Booker T & The MGs, named by their drummer Mr Al Jackson Jr. The band broke boundaries limited in music, by having 2 white players; Donald Dunn & Steve Cropper and 2 Black players Al Jackson Jr, & Booker T. Unfortunately just Booker T & Steve Cropper are still with us today.

Perhaps the ground shaking nature of the band, set them apart from their contemporaries and allowed them to be one of the very few acts who emerged post original Rock n Roll (1954-1959) and the Beatles induced rock era (1963 - ). Their quintessential hit Green Onions is such a part of Western culture that it is grained into us seemingly by birth.

Al Jackson, alongside the rest of Booker T & The MGs, backed many of the greats of soul music during their time with Stax Records. During this time Al backed mega-stars like: Otis Redding, Albert King, Sam & Dave, Rufus Thomas, Eddie Floyd and Carla Thomas.

Alongside many Stax artists, and members of the MGs he helped co-write hits such as Respect, which would go on to be one of the quintessential songs for Racial equality and Gender equality when recorded by Aretha Franklin.

In the 70s Al helped co-write many Al Green's biggest hits including his mega-hit Let's Stay Together. While also begin a session drummer for multiple stars such as Eric Clapton, Bill Withers, Donny Hathaway, and Tina Turner among multiple others.

However the story of Al ended on a horrible early morning of October 1st 1975, before 3 am. Al returned home having been to the cinema with Eddie Floyd & Terry Manning, to watch The Thrill In Manilla boxing fight between Joe Frazier and Muhammed Ali. Upon entering his home he found intruders in his home, they told him to kneel and they then put 5 bullets into his back, he died there and then. The man who police believed shot him was the boyfriend of Denise LaSalle, he was a apparently a bank robber and he was shot dead by the police on July 15th 1976.

So today If you're doing nothing else, spare one of the greatest drummers of all time, some thought.

Al Jackson Jr
Born: 27th November 1935
Died: 1st October 1975.


Obviously the story is not as simple as I have said, there are many questionable aspects around his death, which are still unknown to his death, like his Wife, who shot him in July 1975. Unfortuantly we may never know the truth.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

NME top tracks of 2014. Why?

Well NME has posted it's top 50 tracks of this year. Naturally it failed to match my personal opinion.

Perhaps the worst part about the list is that they've revealed it over a month before the end of the year. December could have some of the greatest music ever, as far as we know, but alas as William Shakespeare said "December aint no part of a year".

NME's top 10 was
1. Seasons (Waiting For You) - Future Islands
2. Can't Do Without You - Caribou
3. Touch The Leather - Fat White Family
4. Red Eyes -  The War on Drugs
5. Blockbuster Night Part 1 - Run The Jewels
6. Eez-Eh - Kasabian
7. Digital Witness -  St Vincent
8. Zombie - Jamie T
9. Little Monster - Royal Blood
10. Chambers Of Reflection - Mac DeMarco

Basically you can separate these songs into a few sections

1. NME's personal addictions (Fat White Family, Kasabian, Jamie T)
2. NME wanting to be Hip (Caribou, Run The Jewels)
3. Popular indie choices (Mac DeMarco, Royal Blood, St Vincent, War On Drugs)
4. Genuine unique tracks (Future Islands)

Now I love some of the tracks they chose, heres my top 10

1. Red Eyes - The War On Drugs
2. Birth In Reverse - St Vincent
3. Archie, Marry Me - Alvvays
4. Next Time - Curtis Harding
5. Violent Shiver - Benjamin Booker
6. Lazaretto - Jack White
7. Love Letters - Metronomy
8. Seasons (Waiting On You) - Future Islands
9. Chamber Of Reflection - Mac DeMarco
10. Grizzly Bear - Angus & Julie Stone

Jimmy Page's proudest moment…. was with Leona Lewis?

In a recent interview with Uncut, Jimmy Page has said that his greatest achievement outside of Led Zeppelin was performing with X-factor winning singer Leona Lewis at the 2008 olympics in Beijing.

In the interview Page complimented Lewis' vocals during their performance of Whole Lotta Love saying that "She's really plucky, she's superb and she sang 'Whole Lotta Love' brilliantly".

Of the performance he also said that he was very proud that "We didn't fuck it up". "It was a Led Zeppelin number but it took on another persona. I was proud to be able to play that riff for the handover."

Page has in recent interviews discussed the possibility that he will tour in 2015 alongside a backing band, while he in september he discussed with NME that Led Zeppelin are not looking likely to reunite "I don't think it looks as though thats a possibility or on the cards".

Recently Page has also published a self-titled autobiography made up of over 600 photos from across his career.

Felt - The Psychedelic Secret Band

There are two bands called Felt. Both are cult artists. One was a jangle pop group from the 1980s who reached levels of critical fame but barely any popular recognition. The other band is a psychedelic band who formed 2 years after the summer of love and didn't gain any sort of fame for over 20 years.
One of the few things we know of this band is that it was made up of five musicians from Arab, Alabama. Mike Neel on drums, Stan Lee on guitar, Tommy Gilstrap on bass, Alan Darlymple on Keyboard and lead singer and guitarist Myke Jackson (Now Mychael John Thomas). 
Mychael John Thomas was enlisted to help uncover the secrets of this top-secret cult band.

Music-Drop Magazine: How did Felt form?

Mychael John Thomas: Sometime in April or May of 1970 Mike Neel came back from Florida (He had moved there a couple of years earlier). He came to me and said he wanted to start an all original music band, because that‘s what all the bands in Florida were doing. So we started writing songs. Mike went with Everyday Lyfe on a gig and we met this guy named Waddy Berry. We were telling him about our plans to start an original band. He told us he knew a bass player named Tommy Gilstrap and invited us to a free concert in Monte Sano park in Huntsville, AL the following week to meet him (Tommy) as he would be there.

So Mike and I went, hooked up with Waddy, met Tommy, and asked if he’d like to Jam. He said sure. We then asked the promoters if they could work us in for a jam. They said yes, and we took Tommy over to a picnic table to teach him a couple of songs we were working on. I think they were “Destination” and “World.” So we jammed…It was pretty bad, but people seem to enjoy it I guess because we were fast and loud…lol. So afterwards we asked Tommy to come rehearse with us the next week and start a band with us. He said yes. We asked him if he knew any other guitar players who could sing, and he said, “Yeah. Stan Lee, a friend of mine.” So Tommy brought Stan to the rehearsal and we began writing and rehearsing. Sometime later Mike met Allen walking down the street in Arab. He said it was odd because you didn’t see “long hairs” just walking down the street alone in those days…lol. So he brought him to rehearsal that night, and we had keys in the band. I was opposed at first, because I wanted Felt to be an all guitar band, but Allen brought so much to the sound I really liked it in the end. And Allen and I became good friends…

Can you remember any distinct memories from the early days of the band?

MJT: I may have shared his in another interview, but there was this one gig in the fall on ‘70. We were doing a free concert, they were mostly all free lol, at the same park where we met Tommy. It was kind of cold, and this major fog set down on top of Monte Sano Mountain (where the park was). The stage was a concrete amphitheater and the seats cascaded up a big hill. At 10 minutes till time for us to play there were only about 10 or 12 people in the bleachers. So we talked it over and decided to play anyway…good practice.

At the edge of the amphitheater section were woods, very thick with trees of course. So as we hit the first note of our set all these people started out of the woods and through the fog into the seats. It was surreal. By this time we were just about to go into the studio to record our album, so we had a really full set of good material. That was the best live performance of the band I can remember.

Did the band tour often?

MJT: No. We only did a few local gigs, then we recorded an album. We never really got a chance to support the album with a tour because of my arrest.

Did the band ever tour out of their local area?

MJT: We were only ever a local band. Our career ended really before it began.

Did you have much contact with any other "Garage Rock" bands at the time?

MJT: In Arab there were only 3 or 4 bands, and everybody kind of did their own thing. And they were all copy bands, mostly dance music; we were the first all original band in our town, Mike and me that is. In Huntsville there were a lot of bands and maybe 5 or 6 who were starting to venture into original music. There was a lot of talent in Huntsville, but the atmosphere was very competitive. We had a few friends here and there from other bands who would come to a Felt rehearsal now and then. And sometimes we would have an open jam at the end. Those were cool because all the ego came down, and we just played music. To me that’s what it was all about…Friendship and sharing music. It was the end of the ‘60s…We were still hippies.

Was there a big local music scene?

MJT: There were over 100 night clubs in Huntsville, but they were mostly dance clubs. And the club owners didn’t want original music they wanted copy stuff…And not too loud. So there wasn’t a big venue for loud, original rock bands then except in New York and L. A., or London, and we couldn’t afford to go to any of those…So, as I said, we were mostly a free hippy band who never really got started except for an album.

What was your biggest influence on your songwriting?

MJT: Mostly The Beatles, John and Paul. But they were heavily influenced by country music. I grew up in Nashville, TN. Where my dad was a studio musician and played at the Grand Ole Opry every weekend. So songwriting was ingrained I guess. And a lot of rock legends recorded and got started in the South. About the time we finished our album I heard the first YES & ELP albums. I really liked Greg Lake’s song crafting, but I also loved Jon Anderson’s poetry and disregard for form. The funny thing is FELT sounded like YES before we ever knew who they were. We would have done much better I think if we had been able to move to England. They were a lot more supportive of art and music it seemed to me. And then everybody was influenced by the radio; we studied what was on the Top 40 and why.

Did you have any extra songs from this time that weren't included on the album?

MJT: I used to have all the original demo tapes and a couple that almost made the album. But someone stole the box full when I was on the road in 1976. We recreated “Take You Down” for the reissue and “Psychedelic Memoirs.” And I added a bridge to a song called “Don’t Wanna Leave You” and recorded it on a solo album. The album was “Catharsis” I think. But other than that all the masters and demos are lost.

The album artwork of Felt (1971) 

You [Myke Jackson] got arrested for possession while the album was in post-production, correct?

MJT: Yes. Bummer…lol.

How did this affect your thoughts on the band and what you were doing?

MJT: Well I spent eight months incarcerated, so I had a lot of time to think. Mike, Tommy and Allen were actually “snuck in” by one of the employees of the institute where I was, and we jammed all afternoon at the employees house, which was on “campus”…what they called it

Why did felt break up after just one album?

MJT: The answer to this one is kind of a continuation of the previous question. In general I was very paranoid. I had just spent 8 months of my life in jail, so I wasn’t in a hurry to go back. When I got out all the guys in the band were still smoking pot, so it was a no brainer for me…I couldn’t be anywhere near that lifestyle anymore. We actually did get together and jam a time or two, but I changed a lot from the experience of jail time. We just couldn’t re-kindle the fire. And no one but me was really willing to give up the smoke…lol. I was 18 years old and scared.

How did a felt reunion come about after so long?

MJT: Well it was really due to ANATIZISI re-releasing the album. Nick contacted me several times about the project till I said okay. He asked me about bonus material, and the only thing I could think of was “Take You Down.” We had recorded that on the last session in 1970. Our producer thought it was great, but there wasn’t enough room on the album for it. Mike and I really wanted “World” on there, because it was the first song we wrote. So we put TYD in the can. In hind sight I wish we had axed “World” and put TYD on there…But ces’t la vie…lol.

Look At The Sun, The Album Starting Track

How was it to play with your fellow members after 40 years? 

MJT: We missed Allen, who died in an automobile accident in ‘72 or ‘73. I couldn’t pinpoint the exact date. But that was the reason for “Sounds Of Brotherhood” which was a tribute to our friend. Other than that touch of sadness the rest was just great! When we got together, Mike, Tommy, Stan and I, within an hour it was like no time had passed…We were all teenagers again. We really had no intentions of a 2nd album, we were just recording a couple of bonus tracks. But after that first session we all knew the magic was still there. So we began writing and had an album recorded in a couple of months. In fact, that set me on a creative binge that hasn’t seemed to stop yet…I remembered why I loved playing music.

How do you think Felt II compares to its predecessor?

MJT: It’s hard to compare the two in most ways. It was 40 years between. But we tried to think and write in a retro state of mind. Most of my friends asked me if it was old recordings re-released, which I took as a real compliment. Musically I think they are both good, and the writing was good on both, although it’s hard to unlearn 40 years of experience…lol. The funny thing for me was the original recordings were analog reel to reel, and the new stuff was digital. I purposely didn’t use many effects or processing, because I wanted to stay in the technology of the 70s as closely as possible…But in digital there is NO tape noise…lol. No matter how “rough” I tried to record it still came out clean…lol.

Obviously a 2nd album in 1970 wouldn’t have been as polished, but I think we continued that creative spirit that was Felt from the beginning. And the fact that we all so enjoyed seeing each other again came through in the music I think. And it was a much better life experience than the first one…For me anyway.

Did you ever even dream that Felt would be remembered so fondly over 40 years later?

MJT: No I didn’t. All of this took me by surprise. We had some great “missed” opportunities that could have made us an international super-group. But when I got busted that all went away. We had all moved on and forgotten those days, except for an occasional comment from our friends or family. It all really came back when Klemen first contacted me about an interview for “It’s Psychedelic Baby” magazine. He was the one who put me in touch with Nick, and the rest is history, as we say. But the response from those dedicated few fans of our music has been very humbling. It’s kind of made me feel “Yea. Maybe we did change the world…A little.”

Thanks so much for the opportunity to share with you. We all wish you well in your efforts.

Mychael John Thomas, on behalf of FELT.

Below are some useful links which you can use if you want to further research the band yourself.

Felt, 1971 - Album review at
A nice roundup of the band -
The interview referenced by Mychael John Thomas -
Another nice round-up on Felt -
Mychael's bandcamp -

Monday, 24 November 2014

Weezer's River Cuomo IAMA on Reddit. Things we Now know.

In case anyone was wondering I trawl though Reddit. One of the things that I found a few days ago was that River Cuomo of Weezer is doing a IAMA, now this is 4 days later, yet I haven't seen a round-up of it. So I figured whose more qualified than me to do one. A lot of people actually. 

So here are the top 10 things we learnt from River Cuomo's IAMA.  You can read the IAMA here
  1. He's not a big movie guy
  2. What did he think of himself in the 90s? "We Rule" 
  3. When he was younger he really did want to be monk
  4. His pre-gig ritual is that he plays Frisbee with bandmate Scott 
  5. His favourite animal? "Pig" 
  6. He thinks all Weezer fans should here The Beach Boy's Pet Sounds and Ozma's Rock & Roll Part 3
  7. He says "we're confident we're going to keep making kick ass music that we all love" 
  8. When he started his career he tried to look like Rick Moranis. No one thought he did. 
  9. His hobby when not doing music "Going to Shakespeare plays 
  10. The musician he has always felt connected to? "J.S Bach" 

40 years gone: Nick Drake

Unfortunately for everyone with ears sometimes the greatest musicians are simply unknown. The case can be made for Alex Chilton (Of Big Star), of Rodriguez, and of many other musicians. However one thing that they have is the fact that they brign something unique into music.

Never was this case more prevalent than in the story of Nick Drake the English folk songster. On the 25th of November 1974 he (allegedly) committed suicide. Taking from the world one of the greatest song-crafter in existence.

In his lifetime Drake released 3 albums, all of which have achieved a legendary status, in this article I could talk about how he was a under appreciated genius, I could talk about his life, and I could talk about him. However you can read that all here, here, here and here.

Instead I'm going to do a simple music person thing; I'm going to list.

Perhaps you stubbled on this article because you were looking for Nick Drake stuff, or perhaps you were randomly trawling the web, regardless of how aware of Nick Drake you are, you should heed my advice, and put in your headphone, run off to somewhere abandoned and listen to some of the sweetest amazing and heartbreaking music ever made.

So here are MY 5 Nick Drake songs.

River Man 

Perhaps his most atmospheric song. I first heard it when I was in the middle of writing a essay on The Great Gatsby, I paused to play this artist who is so recommended from Rollign Stone to NME. His music spoke to me of subtly, emptiness and sadness, it resounded with me amazingly that day and it still does. 

Northern Sky

The first time I heard this I was in the pouring rain, I was trawling through muddy puddles, alone in the dark surrounded by dark clouds and empty skies. The fragile nature of the song lightened my day, it sounds lightly depressing but overall it made me happy. The fact John Cale played on it just makes it better.

Hazy Jane II 

Perhaps one of Drakes most energetic song, and it isn't even too energetic. This was the first Drake song I ever heard, the background accompaniment meant little to me at the time. What attracted me to him and his music was his voice. How it sounds full confident, yet begging and near breaking point. 

Pink Moon 

Another story. I first heard this while I was sat with some friends in silent doing some work, with this in my ear. I remember that I stopped doing the work and absently gazed at my surroundings, I saw the 'Cooler' kids laughing, prodding and hugging. I saw the 'loser' kids laughing, happy and teasing. I saw my friends laughing, prodding and teasing. The song was the perfect moment for that realisation. 

One Of These Things First

My final song, and final story. This story isn't from the first time hearing it. I remember sitting in my room just 4 months ago, I was sat there worrying, I was going to get my A level results. I thought I need some depressing music. I put on Dylan, It didn't work. I put on Cohen, even that didn't work. So I went to Drake, it wasn't even that depressing. But it worked, I forgot about my worries, and calmly lay on my bed, as I drifted away into the abyss of sleep, only to awake to my results. 

There you go. Nick Drake, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Bob Dylan plays unique concert for one very lucky son of a *****

Yesterday afternoon about 3pm I was in the supermarket. I bought a pack of roll, A pack of chargrilled chicken and a packet of Crackers. I then walked back to my dorm in the rain, and listened to some Replacements on the way back.

While I was listening to I Will Dare one Swedish lucky 41 year old fellow named Fredrik Wikingsson was sitting in Philadelphia's Academy of Music. To his left was no-one, to his right was no-one, behind him was no-one, but in front of him was the greatest artist of the 20th century, and the voice of more than one generation; Bob Dylan, or Zimmy to his weirder fans. 

In the amazing concert Wikingsson was alone, he sat in the second row of the arena. Because as he told Rolling Stone, he thought "the front row might freak him [Dylan] out". 

Photo by Getty.

In the unique concert experience Dylan played 4 songs, Covers of Buddy Holly's Heartbeat, Fats Domino's Blueberry Hill  and Chuck Will's It's Too Late (She's gone), as well as a unnamed "blues jam".

In the Rolling Stone article Wikingsson said that "Part of me was thinking, 'maybe this won't happen and it'll be for the best. I don't want to impose on Mr Dylan. I don't want him to stand there and be grouchy, just hating it" however in the end Wikingsson say the concert was "just so fucking great".

The unique experience was organised by Swedish film series Experiment Ensam. A video of the concert is due to be put up on Youtube on the 15th of December.