For Whose Advantage?

Coming back home to Albion our mini worldwide jaunt is rounded off by a quick drive up the M6 from Manchester airport for Leyland’s Xentrix (in homage to Lynyrd Skynyrd – pronounced Zen-Trix) who were touted in the British metal press as our answer to Metallica, and they are much more than their Ghostbuster’s cover! The UK thrash scene in general never took off as much as some of their foreign counterparts, in either popularity by fans outside of our borders or indeed the sheer number of bands being spewed out in some places, but it was our modest scene all the same.

I’m thinking the first time I heard the band was with their track No Compromise that was featured alongside The Almighty, Little Angels and Vain on a 7″ given away with Metal Hammer magazine in 1989, and to this day it still remains favourite track by the band.

I was on the mailing list of Roadrunner Records for my fanzine by the time the subsequent album came out and I probably got my first version of the 1990 For Whose Advantage? release on a cassette tape with just a plain black and white typed inlay.

It would be a couple of more years before I got to see the band live (again the scourge on a non driving family) on July 12th 1993 on what would turn out to be their last set of shows until two lukewarm reformation shows in 2006. As of 2013 the band, boasting three quarters from the Roadrunner era, have been back and going from strength to strength with a new album imminent and a healthy dose of live shows. A track from the new record was played after their set on the brief run they had with Acid Reign in tow, and it sounded a real return to form.

 

I Am Immortal

  
Carrying on with the international thrash feast today we’re gonna fly down to Sydney to enjoy a bit of sun to give us some respite from Britain’s dreary grey and wet winter. Say “G’Day” to defunct Antipodean thrashers Mortal Sin. 

There’s nothing scientific with this statement, but they’re probably the country’s best and most popular thrash metal band. They’ve shared the stage with Metallica, Anthrax, Kreator and Overkill amongst others on home soil. Undertaken numerous tours in mainland Europe over the years and played the huge Wacken festival and even had legendary metal producer Randy Burns behind the desk for the bands second release Face of Despair. 

Not long after they released the superb Psychology of Death album in 2011 and participated in the Thrash Fest Classics tour they imploded as a band and called it quits for a fourth and final time. 

Mortal Sin are a band I’ve liked since I read about them in Metal Forces magazine and brought the aforementioned Face of Despair album on cassette tape! They’ve only played a handful of UK dates and as far as I’m aware they were back in 1990 supporting an up and coming Faith No More, and a London show with Xentrix. 

Luckily though I had the chance to see the band live at the Markethalle in Hamburg during the Thrash Fest jaunt. If the mountain isn’t coming to me then I’ll go to the mountain!

In 2010 I ventured to Berlin for the first instalment (Kreator, Exodus, Death Angel and Suicidal Angels) and had a blast. When the following years edition was being assembled and announced a 90 minute flight to Germany was a no brainier. Exodus again, Destruction and Heathen were all good enough, then there was addition of headliners Sepulture and all with the stipulation of all the bands playing only songs from their early and classic back catalogue. The final band confirmed were the openers Mortal Sin. I had to go. 
  

Leaving a snowy, cold Birmingham airport behind me I arrived in a cold but rather sunny Hamburg. I undertook a bit of the touristy thing, visited the cities Hard Rock Cafe and had a stroll through the St. Pauli area where the infamous Reeperbahn is situated. Then back to the hotel for the early start of the gig. 

The Markethalle is in spitting distance of my hotel and the train station, so it didn’t take long to stroll there. I was outside before doors opened, mingling with fellow German thrashers. Once inside I loaded up on a bit of merch and took my place inside the fabulous venue ready for the Sinners. A short six song set (and the only band to stray from the classics brief) to a relatively sparse crowd, but it was well worth the anticipation and trouble. Heathen, Destruction and Exodus who followed were all superb. It was getting late by the time Sepultura emerged and I was going to call it a night after a few songs, but their Arise heavy set blew the roof off the venue and I was there to the bitter end.  

  

I’m thinking this live recording of I Am Immortal is taken from the bands Face of Mayhem – Live VHS video (VHS and cassette tapes mentioned in the same post!). I have it upstairs, gathering dust and unable to play it, I need to look into a DVD version (if it exists) or a conversion some time. 

 

Monkey Magic

New Years Day has turned into such a lazy day, basically just sitting at the computer and listening to music through iTunes.  Earlier the track Havoc In Heaven was played by Japanese band Godiego.  Those of us at that “vintage” age who were kids (mainly male) in the British Isles in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s will hopefully know Godiego from the theme tune that they wrote and performed for the programme on the 6pm slot on BBC2.  That programme was Monkey (or known by some as Monkey Magic). My wife loses “cool points” for her downright derision and hated towards the whole concept of the show! How cool would it be to be able to fly away on your own cloud? She basically bet me that I wouldn’t post this.  I have no shame.

 In the worlds before Monkey, primal chaos reigned. Heaven sought order, but the phoenix can fly only when its feathers are grown. The four worlds formed again and yet again, as endless aeons wheeled and passed. Time and the pure essences of Heaven, the moisture of the Earth, the powers of the Sun and the Moon all worked upon a certain rock old as creation, and it magically became fertile. That first egg was named Thought. Tatagatha Buddha, the father Buddha said “With our thoughts, we make the world.” Elemental forces caused the egg to hatch. From it then came a stone monkey… The nature of Monkey was irrepressible!

The original Japanese series Saiyūki was based on the 16th century Chinese Wu Cheng’en novel Journey to the West. The abridged English translation is entitled Monkey (or Monkey: A Folk-Tale of China) and is considered a literary classic.

The synopsis of the programme, and indeed the book, is about a young monk named Tripitaka, who volunteers to endure a pilgrimage set by Buddha to retrieve sacred scriptures from India so that the Chinese people can be enlightened.  On his travels he frees the Monkey King and they recruit Sandy and Pigsy on the way. During their travels they rescue a captive princess, reinstate her father as king and fight numerous fierce monsters, all before returning to the palace.

To be fair, the programme hasn’t aged well, but for something that the BBC aimed at kids, who had no clue what the hell was going on, it was great fun to watch, just for the completely over the top acting, and we all wanted a flying cloud, didn’t we? This was definitely one for the boys from the library of the BBC’s  foreign dubbed archives as Silas and Heidi – both of German origin – appealed to the girls more. In my house they did anyway.

The dubbed UK version has a few ties to Doctor Who coincidentally, and that was also at it’s peak at the same time.  David Collings (Mawdryn Undead) voiced Monkey and Gareth Armstrong (The Masque of Mandragora) was the dubbed Sandy.

For a peak at this classic 70’s TV show heres a link to the opening credits.

Right I’m off to look on Amazon and hover my index finger over the add to basket button for the 13 disc compete series DVD set. A bargain at £39.99!

 

Mother

  
Happy New Year, welcome to 2016.  Now that all the festive hullabaloo is over for another 12 months we can now trash the ideas we had as New Years resolutions and return to our regular daily grind – well on Monday anyway, later I’m off to see the new Star Wars film again!

Over 18 years of early alarm calls my internal body clock mocks me when I have time off work and don’t need to be out of my pit early and awakes me at stupid O’clock in the morning. Oh well. I usually end up sitting at the PC continuing with the seemingly endless task of cleaning up my iTunes library.  Since the last update things have been very messed up with it.  Today it was going fine until it crashed or something, now it’s being totally unresponsive.

Before it went all temperamental I managed to listen, in full, to the debut album by Danzig, which in turn makes it the first album I listened to in 2016.  See what I did there.

The CD I have for this upstairs has been in my possession since 1990.  I acquired it from the second hand section of Lotus Records in Hanley (I think we still had Lotus then) during a my lunch break while I was at college.  I remember it vividly as I was reading the lyrics out aloud on the walk back, and there is an excessive use of “again” in the lyric booklet, which upon listening to the CD “repeat” might have been more adequate. It’s always the small things!

After Misfits and Samhain the Evil Elvis went on to form the band Danzig – not named after the German pronunciation of the Polish city Gdansk, but after Glen Anzalone’s altar ego Glen Danzig from his Misfits days. Apparently the name change from Samhain was to accommodate any future line up changes and create a solo project rather than a band.

On the back of this simple but powerful bluesy metal album, Danzig opened up for Metallica on the UK and Irish leg of their Damaged Justice tour. The opening night was at the Edinburgh Playhouse on September 24th 1988. Not that Metallica would have needed much coercing as it’s well documented the band are huge Misfits fans.

The biggest track from that album is undoubtedly Mother, more so six years after it initial release in 1993 when  an alternative live version of the video was made and it received heavy rotation on MTV.  NO chickens were harmed in the making of this video.

 

 

 

Youth Gone Wild

It hasn’t taken the conspiracy theorists long to dissect breaking news from yesterday that Skid Row vocalist Tony Harnell has quit the band less than a year after joining. So obviously Sebastian Bach is returning to the fold, almost two decades after leaving the band, AND they’ll be supporting the latest incarnation of Guns ‘N’ Roses. Let’s watch this space shall we.

I’ve seen Skid Row a few times and Sebastian Bach too, but never on a stage together. In hindsight I’d loved to have seen them alongside L.A. Guns and Love/Hate in 1991, but again that was scuppered by transport issues. By their next headline visit in 1995 I was more immersed in the hardcore scene. If I knew what I know now and I had a time machine I would be at so many more gigs!

Like Appetite For Destruction their self titled debut is another really strong offering and another personal favourite, but compared to Guns ‘N’ Roses they followed it up with the superb, and much heavier, Slave to the Grind. I remember buying that in my first year at college.

I’ve dabbled with fanzines since I was at school, so sometime around 1989 was my first attempt. I didn’t know how or where to get interviews from so my first “issue” featured a Skid Row interview “borrowed” from a chat that appeared on a local radio station’s rock show (thank you Paul Anthony!). I didn’t have a typewriter at the time so it was all transcribed by playing and rewinding a cassette tape copious times and scrawled out by hand on my mothers living room floor. Needless to say it never saw the light of day

I really don’t like it when I just pick something at random to ramble on about as picking a track to offer you is too hard!! The link below has changed at least half a dozen times so far. I’ve settled on my introductory song to the band from the debut release – and my fingers are crossed the iPod shuffle spits some more Skid Row out sooner rather than later.

Splinter

I stuck the iPod on shuffle when I went to bed last night just to listen to a bit of music before I dozed off. First band up yesterday was Sleeper. No. Not the Louise Werner fronted Britpop band from the mid 90’s, but the John Lisa fronted mid 90’s melodic hardcore band from Staten Island, NY.

I’m not entirely sure where I first heard the band. I’m thinking I may have listened to their track on the Allied Records compilation Music For The Proletariat, then went and brought the Splinter 7″ also on Allied in 1993, a time when I was heavily into the melodic hardcore thing.

I also recall buying the previous self titled release via an auction ran through Armed With Anger Records from Bradford. It is a limited coloured vinyl and I have copy number two out of 500.

When I did my fanzines at the same time I did an interview through the mail with John Lisa. Way before I had a computer to type up the hand written replies it was all done on a type writer, then cut and pasted into place. Actually, it used to be fun, but ultimately very time consuming and the information would be very quickly outdated.

Those with sharp eyes might have noticed this is Splinter by a band called Serpico. I read an interview years ago that the UK band wanted to keep the name so John Lisa sold them the name and he continued the band under the Serpico banner.

Stem The Slide

My wife decorated a box with gig tickets for me to store my other gig tickets in for Christmas. A great idea (shame about a few of the tickets glued on the outside of the box though) and as per usual when I see a pile of these variously coloured pieces of rectangular paper I always seem to reminisce.

I started writing this at my parents house where we usual end up on Boxing Day – or on alternate years my sisters house. Yesterday I found the ticket below from twenty years ago!

As I’m the only driver in the family I end up driving people around. When my grandad came over on Boxing Day I’d be the one to pick him up and take him home so he could face a few whiskies whilst he was here.

For three or four consecutive Boxing Days I’d go to the Wheatsheaf in Stoke on my way home where a few local bands would play on the evening of the 26th. They were always well attended by a gaggle of friends and they always used to be a real laugh. Nothing too serious, just a bunch of people watching some often worse for wear bands play.

I often see gigs in inaccessible towns and cities advertised for tonight and often wish I could break the Christmas cycle and watch a band play. I realise how much I miss the Boxing night gigs.

Reverse, a “power pop punk” group, should have been bigger than they were which eventually should have lead to some success between 1990 and 1997. They nearly signed to Mushroom Records – one time home to Muse, Garbage and The Wildhearts – before the label was involved in a takeover by Rupert Murdoch.