Give Me Fire

It’s been a very long time since I saw any of the second wave of punk bands on stage, unless it’s been Discharge. But tonight, sobriety willing, I’m hoping to make it up town to see GBH.  

I’ve seen them, along with the likes of the UK Subs, Exploited, Sham 69 and Anti Nowhere League, loads of times over the years. But I fear using online technology isn’t very punk rock so my last recorded sighting of the Brummie punx was way back in 1996. I must’ve seen them in the 21 years since? 

A lot of those bands passed through the Potteries in the mid to late 90’s and I saw most of them locally. If ’96 was the last time I saw them, then tonight will be the first time I’ve seen them whilst I’m in a state of inebriation! 

A lot of the bands are still treading the boards, but more so now they appear to be confined to a more festival style setting. A series of all day events under the Calling banner have been going strong over the last few years. Even though I’m slap bang centre of North West Calling (Manchester) and Midlands Calling (usually Wolverhampton), I’m yet to take the plunge and get along to any, mainly because I have other gigs planned. The same with the long standing Rebellion weekend in Blackpool, a veritable who’s who of punk spread over four days and multiple stages on the coast of the Irish sea. Usually this weekend has clashed with Bloodstock. 

I was seriously tempted with a drive to the Golden Mile this year to experience the punk showcase as there were a few bands I’d like to have seen. But once the stage times were released into the public domain that put paid to that idea. Virtually every band I wanted to see was spread over all four days and due to hit the stage post 9pm, in a few cases after the witching hour and I was working the next day. Saved me some cash anyway  

Tomorrow’s stumbling block is my towns annual beer festival. I’m supposed to be off work all of this week. Today is my fifth and final day that I’ve worked this week. We have plans Saturday, so that only leaves tonight to sample some fine (and not so fine) ales. Let’s wait and see how that pans out. 

Give Me Fire was released as a single by Clay Records in 1982, but never made it onto a studio album until the 2002 reissue on Captain Oi! Records of City Baby’s Revenge. 


Countess Bathory

Moving north of the border on Saturday it’ll be time to indulge in the remnants of what you could call extreme metal pioneers Venom. Even though listening to what was considered extreme in the 1980’s is very tame in comparison to some of the bands that have followed in their footsteps. 

I thought I’d seen Venom, Inc previously, but apparently I haven’t had the pleasure yet. I saw M:Pire of Evil though (pretty much a forerunner of Venom, Inc) in January of 2015 supporting Obituary in London Town. 

Very much like LA Guns, Saxon and until recently Queensryche, this is yet another band with warring ex members of the original band ploughing their own furrow on the musical landscape. 

As stated in a previous post I’m not the biggest Venom fan in the world, but when I was a youngster at school they seemed to be the controversial band to like at the time. 

I’ll be intrigued to see two of the classic trio of Mantas and Abaddon being fronted by Cronos’ replacement The Demolition Man putting their mark on an hours worth of classic NWOBHM tracks with the memory of those who now go under the Venom moniker pretty fresh in my mind. 

The Cronos version of the band performed at last years Bloodstock Festival sandwiched in between Corrosion of Conformity and the mighty Behemoth. The trio on stage certainly made a proper racket, exactly what you’d expect from Venom, although it was an uncompromising and pretty sloppy din at times it’s what you would have expected back in the early 80’s. From what I saw from M:Pire of Evil two years ago I’m expecting a much more refined and polished version of the Geordie outfit. Only four days to wait and put my curiosity to rest. It will also be only the sixth show by the band on what you could consider home turf. 

Countess Bathory was originally released on the band’s second album and genre naming release, Black Metal, bursting out of hell in 1982 and again via Neat Records. 

The Number Of The Beast

March 12th is a somewhat bittersweet day in the annals of the Iron Maiden family. 

Back on this day 1956 Stephen Percy Harris was born. If things had been different Steve Harris may well have been a professional footballer for his beloved West Ham United. The rock and roll lifestyle was more alluring and he taught himself the bass guitar and joined Gypsy’s Kiss less than a year later. 

On Christmas Day 1975 the initial seeds for the unstoppable juggernaut of Iron Maiden were sown, and as they say, the rest is history. Forty plus years further on down the line he is still the main driving force behind the band. 

Four years ago though in 2013 Clive Burr passed away in his sleep due to complications from multiple sclerosis aged 56. He was the band’s fourth drummer, replacing Doug Sampson and featured on the band’s first three albums. 

He is considered to be a very smooth and ultimately influential drummer amongst the metal fraternity, but Burr eventually embraced the darker side of the rock and roll life style and many poor performances were allegedly put during the North American leg of the Beast on the Road tour in 1982. During the same tour his father passed away and he flew back to England to support his family. 

At the end of the tour he was unceremoniously dumped from the band and his stand in during his fortnight away, Nicko McBrain, has been there ever since. 

What seemed to be an acrimonious split was healed when his illness was diagnosed in the mid 90’s, and the band played several shows to support spiralling medical bills. I had chance to attend one of the shows at the Hammersmith Odeon in 2005, but for whatever reason I couldn’t make it and it’s a slight regret all this time later. 

Taken from the bands ground breaking album of the same name, The Number of the Beast gave them their debut number one album and the lead off single from the album – Run to the Hills – was the first single to crack the top ten singles chart in 1982.  

Free Speech For The Dumb

Well I’m currently sitting on a plane above the clouds, probably somewhere over the eastern part of England heading to Eindhoven. Not as many metal heads on the flight as anticipated but lots of oddly dressed guys that look like they’re heading on a stag weekend. They must know something that we don’t – Eindhoven was one of the dullest cities I’ve visited for a long time, then again besides Monday morning we didn’t trek about the place much. 

Leaving a dank and grey Manchester (and my little man Ozymandias) behind me, hopefully 400 miles further east the climate will be a bit more welcoming. 

We were delayed slightly leaving so it’s going to be a race against time to get the bus from the airport to the hotel in Eindhoven then onto the train to Tilburg for the show. In an ideal world I’d like to have been there in plenty of time to catch some death metal blast beats dished out by Exhumed. Failing that an hour later sees local lads Discharge ambling onto the main stage.  

Last weekend they played a packed out Stoke show at the Underground. I saw them a few years ago in the same venue and it was pretty sparse to put it politely. Since they inked their deal with Nuclear Blast and seemingly gained some more appreciative fans from their appearances in much of the mainstream music media, it does appear to have reignited their career, along with the introduction of JJ on vocals. End Of Days is easily on of my favourite releases from last year. 

I’m quite surprised the inclusion of two of their tracks on Metallica’s Garage Inc. compilation album some years back – well pushing twenty years now I come to think about it! – didn’t achieve the same goal for them to some degree. Allegedly on a personal level though it did extremely well for them. Guitarist and founding member Bones apparently managed to quit his day job and pay off his mortgage due to it. Every cloud has it’s silver lining. 

I never saw them during their original run with Cal on vocals, and it wasn’t until their reformation with Rat that I broke my duck. Since then I’ve seen them numerous times and in front of varying sized crowds. From a tiny, but partisan, crowd in Crewe via the cavernous Ritz in Manchester and London’s Forum, to decimating the Warzone stage in France as part of Hellfest last year. This evening is going to be somewhere in the middle and I really do hope the Dutch crowd gives these Stoke lads and punk innovators the appreciation that they’ve worked hard for going on nearly four decades now. 

Free Speech For The Dumb was released back in 1982 on the classic Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing by Clay Records. Twenty eight minutes of glorious noise. 

Well I ended up finishing this and posting it the day after their set. Not the biggest crowd in attendance on the day, but very enthusiastically into what was been served up to them from the stage. Mission accomplished. 

The Prisoner

The Number of the Beast is a term used in Chapter 13 in the Book of Revelation in the New Testament. According to that story the number of the beast is 666.

Or it could well be the breakthrough album released on this day in 1982 by British heavyweights Iron Maiden and the debut release for the band with Bruce Dickinson at the helm. This album is an essential release for anyone getting into the heavy metal scene, even now 34 years later.

This was the bands first album to reach the number 1 slot on the UK album chart and was again wrapped in another stunning piece of Derek Riggs artwork, this and it’s title gained the band a bit of notoriety in the United States for being satanists and lead to their releases being burnt in public by religious zealots, or later smashed as they feared inhaling the blasphemous fumes.

I don’t really need an excuse to post Maiden videos and as I see them in roughly 288 hours I’m in a pre gig binge listening session.

Hallowed Be Thy Name, Run To The Hills and The Number Of The Beast, with Barry Clayton’s spoken intro, are all firm fan favourites and still in the bands live set on a regular basis. Two of those tracks along with Children Of The Damned are currently ensconced in their current Book Of Souls tour.

Like everything else with me, my favourite songs chop and change daily, and my current favourite track from the album is The Prisoner inspired by the psychological spy drama of the same name, and the first of two songs inspired by the show. During the Hammerfest weekend we were about four miles away from Portmeirion where the series was filmed. We were going to visit, but real life got in the way.

This live version of The Prisoner is taken from their live video and CD combo Maiden England recorded at Birmingham’s NEC Arena on my birthday – November 28th – in 1988


White Wedding

What an enthralling eight weeks of TV Deutschland ’83 has been. A look into the Cold War paranoia of the East Germans and their Soviet brethren. It involved lots of reading as my German is pretty non existent. With it being set in 1983 it has included a lot of western pop music from the era, an era that some may say (wife of mine!) was the best time for music.

I have a soft spot for Germany mainly because so many of the bands I grew up on are from there. I was so pleased when we finally managed to arrange a trip to Berlin in 2005. I knew bits about the London Protocol after the Second World War ended and later the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, etc. I’ve been back there once in the intervening 11 years, but Berlin is such a fascinating city I’d like to head back and for longer.

I don’t know how realistically the East Germans were depicted in this, even though events like the “war games” of Able Archer are true events, but it is pretty scary to see how close we all could of come to an all out nuclear attack all through paranoia.

One thing I learnt from the last episode is that Billy Idol’s track White Wedding is older than I gave it credit for. At first I considered it to be a mistake (much like the British maroon passport shown at one point) but after consulting the oracle that is Google I learnt that it was featured on his self titled second album from 1982. Re released as a single three years later it proved to be more successful second time around where it reached number six on the UK charts.

Sick Boy

Sitting at home watching the football scores come through via the TV, a phone app, and friends who support the opposing team, tonight isn’t going well for my team, so here’s another post.

The second wave of UK punk bands started to form after being influenced by the original bands such as the Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Dammed in the last few years of the 70’s. Often referred to as street punk or UK82, they took the sound of those before them but added heavy drum beats, distorted guitars and lyrically had a much more bleak outlook than their predecessors. Their image was often more akin to what you’d think punks looked like, studded leather jackets, colourful soaped mohawks, tartan bondage trousers…

To give them their original full name, Charged GBH emerged from the streets of the UK’s second city Birmingham in 1978. They released their debut album City Baby Attacked by Rats in 1982 on Clay Records located 48 miles up the M6, here in Stoke on Trent. The label was home for local band Discharge.

The core trio of Colin, Jock and Ross have all been together since day one. Even though they’ve not released any new music since 2010 they still ply their trade worldwide 38 years into their career.

I’ve seen the band quite a few times live, often with members of the band in various states of intoxication! One show, might have been the Que Club in Birmingham, Jock actually fell off the stage. It’s been a long time since I last saw them, so something else that needs to be rectified.

Sick Boy was featured on their debut album. Slayer also covered the track for their Undisputed Attitude release. If you want to hear it follow this link.