Tainted Love

Hello people of the blogosphere. Remember me? Once again it’s been a minute since I was last here. Sometimes you just have to stay in the adult world and forsake other things. Having said that though quite a lot of my spare time, and weekends in particular have been taken up with gigs and all (unfortunately) within the borders of Great Britain.

Prior to my hiatus I had a 480 mile round trip to Glasgow for the Lords of the Land festival which was superb. I passed up a trip to Stuttgart to see Metallica to head to Scotland to catch Demolition Hammer and Dark Angel. What a hard decision that was, but ultimately the correct decision.

A few weeks later saw we covering another 460 miles to catch two Power Trip shows in Birmingham and London. Well worth the effort even if the sets were short. It’s a shame the return trip from London was tainted by a train full of celebratory and drunken Manchester United fans on their way home. And football fans wonder why they’re despised by Joe Public so much.

The following weekend was the deadline for finishing my man cave! A month after it was set (well five weeks) all my vinyl was out of their plastic coffins and more compact discs were on display. It’s been the first time some of the pieces of 12” PVC circles have seen sunlight since they were left the shop! On top of the music side, several hundred t-shirts (mainly black) were sorted, folded and stored in various locations. There are a few things to be done to finish it off, but the difference between this time last year and now is unrecognisable.

That weekend I ended up missing a a few local shows, gutted I missed Havok and Harlott in Birmingham and I was planing (plotting?) a flying trip to the Netherlands to see Flotsam & Jetsam, but I was a responsible adult – nothing to do with dragging my heels over a flight and the cost just spiralling. Honest.

To celebrate the following weekend I had four shows in five days. It could’ve been five in five, but I bailed on Zeke as two successive midweek nights in Manchester were unpalatable. The weekend culminated in another trip in excess of 400 miles to Norwich for Thrashersarus. An intimate shindig headlined by one of the UK’s finest thrash proponents Xentrix.

Oddly enough last week was the filling in an Xentrix sandwich (yes I know the filling is in the middle, but as a metaphor it sounds better!) when on Saturday I had the shorter trip, only a 188 mile round trip, to Keighley in West Yorkshire for Manorfest. Headlines by Evile, with their returning guitar brethren Ol Drake and ably supported by Birmingham old school death metal band Memoriam. A new band on the “scene” with a life time of history behind them.

Before the Iron Maiden machine rolls into my sights in June I think most of my shows between now and then are mainly in Manchester and the surrounding area, maybe a quick trip to Leeds in five weeks for Outbreak, but nowhere near a London venue or much further than 50 miles away. There is a small matter of planning some Slayer farewell shows, but the reality of those don’t kick in until November.

As the bright yellow disc in the sky has made an appearance lately it’s an appropriate time to partake in some pop punk tuneage and cast away the seemingly over long winter gloom.

Coincidentally this pop punk revival on the iPhone has come at a time where my nephew has been showing a liking for the genre. I think most of his interest is peer pressure from his school friends, but I’d like to think I’ve had some subliminal input on his 14 years on this revolving sphere.

He’s at a similar age as I was when I was discovering my musical tastes, but as I’ve said before he’s had it much easier. The wife and I popped over with a card and cash, gone are the days of hunting for Toy Story merch or the latest sonic screwdriver from Doctor Who. He mentioned he’d been looking for a Panic! At the Disco shirt, but locally there was nothing available.

Being the good uncle that I am to the nephew dubbed mini me in my presence, sent a link to the youngling for Panic! shirts from Impericon. A few days later I was informed via Messenger he now had a Panic! clothing. Uncle-ing done right, much to his parents dismay no doubt.

Last week I was flicking through the TV channels in sheer boredom and I came across the top 50 skate punk anthems on Kerrang! TV. A swift message to mini me and it was like we were watching the television in the same room for a few hours. The list was pretty bland, just as I’d expect from that media outlet in 2018. Lots of Green Day, the Offspring, Sum 41, Blink-182 and Bowling For Soup. I can’t recall anything by the likes of NOFX, Pennywise, Strung Out, no female voices or anything from outside of the North American and Canadian borders.

Thanks to Spotify he is now in possession of a 103 song playlist of some of my favourite pop punk anthems from yesteryear, with some classic punk from the Ramones, the Clash and Misfits rubbing shoulders with Bad Religion, Snuff and Samiam. Let’s hope he gives some of it a listen and likes something that he won’t be offered by today’s media.

I thought I’d already featured the likes of the Offspring, Green Day, NOFX and that ilk in this blog already, but apparently not. Now it’s summer be prepared for more happy and bouncy interludes in between the usually stern and serious death metal and thrash outings, and lyrics you can understand.

First up in the mini pop punk revolution is Shades Apart from the Revelation Records stable of the mid 90’s with their version of the Gloria Jones song Tainted Love. The Northern Soul song was released in 1965, but made famous 18 years later by Soft Cell and Marilyn Manson thrust it on a new generation of kids two decades later.

I saw the New Jersey natives Shades Apart several times back in 1997 and I’m pretty sure they played this song. After their Save It and Seeing Things albums released by Revelation in 1995 and 1997 I lost track of the band. According to Wiki they split in 2003 and reformed in 2012 and are still an entity. I’ll delve into their history a bit more at a later date.


Sturdy Wrists

When I went back to work at 5am on Monday I only had four days off between then and finishing for Christmas. Make that five. As I’ve ended up with an unwelcome sick day today. I wait nearly two years for a day ill and I end up with three in a month or so. Oh well.

On Friday I will be adding Manchester’s Sound Control to a pretty prestigious looking list of venues. The Wheatsheaf, Stoke. JB’s, Dudley. The Foundry, Birmingham. Bradford Rios. Astoria, London. Jilly’s, Manchester. Some of the venues where I’ve spent many an hour in the last three decades. With the exception of the Wheatsheaf which was remodelled as a no music pub, all are now closed and several demolished.

My listing isn’t 100% accurate as I know there are dozens of shows missing from my list of Wheatsheaf gigs, but my top ten venues account for 474 sets witnessed (not actual gigs but the different performances by the bands seen). From those ten stages only four are places I can still look forward to seeing a band in. The tenth on the list is one I haven’t been to since 2001. It sporadically has gigs, but not by any bands I want to see.

In 48 hours the final curtain for me in Sound Control comes down when San Diegan’s Rocket From The Crypt play the venue. At some point in the near future the building will be demolished to make way for student accommodation for the huge university campus less than a mile down Oxford Road. The university grounds are also the first place where I saw the band play in 1996 and I haven’t seen the band in the intervening 21 years either.

Guitarist and vocalist Speedo (John Reis to his parents) and his band of well dressed merry-men formed in 1990. Their early albums are great pieces of melodic punk rock, but their big break in the UK came with the success of album number four Scream, Dracula, Scream! in 1995 which spawned their biggest UK chart hit On A Rope reaching the dizzy heights of number 12. A decade and three albums later the band split bar a one off show until a full reformation in 2013.

Almost four years ago to the day was the last time I should’ve seen the band, again in Manchester, but I was under the weather and didn’t make the show. Fingers crossed that isn’t the case come Friday.

As I found out last time I wrote about the sextet, the official RFTC videos are notoriously hard to find on YouTube, unless I’m looking in the wrong places? Sturdy Wrists is linked here from the Daily Motion site, so I hope it plays OK. The track was released on the 1992 album Circa: Now!

Pretend We’re Dead


As I no longer have my season ticket for the football I’m attempting to do a higher percentage of gigs over the weekend rather than on a week night, especially if I’m working the next day. Old age finally catching up? For the rest of the month of September this ideology works extremely well, come October it’s looking very busy on the gig front. 

For tonight’s entertainment I’m debating a train ride up to Manchester to see Los Angeles rockers L7 for the first time. Formed in 1985 as a punk band, they ended up being quite a big deal in the 1990’s. They eventually split in 2001 but thirteen years later they reformed with a lineup that was together during the mid 80’s for a decade. 

When the media started picking up on the female quartet I was in the twilight years of a teenager and listening to more diverse things. Seattle was conquering the planet with plaid clad grunge bands. On the coattails of grunge was the riot grrrl movement. Even though L7 were at that time much more rockier than both genres. With their image of ripped jeans, multi coloured hair, more plaid shirts and a penchant for controversy and writing short catchy tunes they found a wide fan base spread over multiple scenes. Their first two albums were released on Sub Pop and Epitaph, labels at the time synonymous with grunge and pop punk bands respectively. 

Most of the bands controversial points seem to have occurred on this side of the Atlantic. Possibly the most infamous is guitarist and vocalist Donita Sparks dropping her jeans and performed nude from the waist down during a live performance of this track on The Word – a late night British TV show – in 1992. 

The Word was a magazine show and was quite groundbreaking with some of the musical acts it featured during its tenure, things like Nirvana’s first international TV appearance occurred on an episode of the programme. But the show was fronted by some really annoying and amateur presenters, and the chaotic format revelled in its self induced controversies and enjoyed the condemnation it received in the media. From a musical point of view it could have been a great programme but the rest of the chaff dragged it down, even though it ran for a surprising five years. 

Pretend We’re Dead is their breakthrough track and is taken from the groups third release Bricks Are Heavy, which became their most successful album in their career. 



Bring Out Your Dead


It’s the last bank holiday weekend in the UK until the Christmas festivities are up on us (Christmas mentioned in consecutive posts and its only August!) and as it’s usually a pretty dull and damp squib of a weekend I am (or more so was) tempted to have a drive down to London to catch Strung Out at the Camden Underworld. I’m saying drive as I’ve not looked yet, but undoubtedly there will be next to no public transport running to the north of this country much after 9pm which is rather unhelpful for a gig due to finish around 11pm. 

I adore their first two albums – Another Day in Paradise and Suburban Teenage Wasteland Blues released in 1994 and 1996 respectively. I think I took a liking a bit more instantaneously to these guys over some other stuff on the Fat Wreck Chords rosta due to them incorporating a few heavy metal hooks into their primarily melodic punk sound. An added bonus for a transitioning metal head. 

The only time I’ve seen the band live are a brace shows back in January 1997 in Leeds and Birmingham with Diesel Boy – I think. I’m pretty sure they were amongst their first UK shows too. 

Three fifths of the band have been a constant since day one and they have released new music on a pretty regular basis since their formation in California’s Simi Valley back in 1989. They’ve played over here on regular intervals ever since but as I drifted away from the lighter pop punk side of things to a more brooding and heavier sub genre I’ve missed seeing them in the intervening 19 years. I was a “buying” fan up to their third album Twisted By Design and from the other five releases I think I’ve only partially listened to Blackhawks Over Los Angeles. 

As per usual the London show appears to be a one off appearance tagged on the end of their mainland European jaunt. From the online posters I’ve seen London and Norwich seem to have a date announced with free days either side. I’m hoping I don’t wake up on Tuesday morning to find out that they played Manchester or somewhere close the evening before when I do my time consuming overnight social media catch up prior to leaving for work. 

With the addition of the fur ball known as Ozymandias to the household and potentially gigs either side of Strung Out this 330 mile round trip will regrettably be put in the pipe dreams folder and unfortunately my presence around the house will be required. Family time and all that apparently. 

The most official video for this track seems to be a live version interspersed with snowboarding and stuff with a bit of a ropey sound. Instead here’s a fan made video for the song. As soon as I hear that distorted riff kicking in to start the song my hand immediately reaches for the volume control and crank it up several notches. It is such an ominous start to a song.