Ace Of Spades

It seems to be a little known fact that Ian Fraser Kilmister, or better known as Motörhead frontman Lemmy, was born in Burslem, the Mother Town of Stoke-on-Trent. In a matter of hours this will be recognised with the placement of a blue plaque at Port Vale’s home ground.  

For those who are not familiar with the blue plaque, it’s a circular blue plaque placed on, or near buildings of historical significance associated with a famous person. They could have been born there, lived there or performed in a venue. It’s something that’s been going in this country since the 1860’s, but mainly in London in its early years. 

Earlier in the year to celebrate BBC Music Day all (well I’m assuming all) local BBC radio stations invited submissions for people or places locally to be nominated. There’s not a massive pool of choice from the North Staffordshire area, but being unbiased Lemmy was easily the best candidate. The only two nominees I can recall from the radio stations listenership were local singer Jackie Trent (known for singing on the theme songs for Australian TV soap Neighbours) and a venue called The Golden Torch which was a leading light (pun intended) for the Northern Soul movement of the late 1960’s. 

The accolade is very deserving for an icon of the heavy metal genre. It’s being unveiled tonight at 6pm by some guy called Tony Iommi, I’d liked to have gone to have a snoop, but due to the rock and roll life style I lead I’m sitting at home waiting for a shopping delivery to arrive between 5pm and 9pm. Living the dream right here. 

The placement at the football ground is adequate, even though I support the other team in the city. He was born in the town and performed at the ground once back in 1981 in the inaugural Heavy Metal Holocaust. Personally though I’d liked to have seen it situated in Hanley – the areas city centre. I think it would  be a good idea to have a walk of fame like the Hollywood Boulevard or Birmingham’s Broad Street, around our cultural quarter and the Victoria Hall, a venue Motörhead played at least three times. Which ever way to slice it though it’s still recognition for what was extreme music back in the day. 

My main gripe is the wording on the plaque.  
“Motörhead founder & singer, who’s song Ace of Spades has been adopted by Port Vale FC”. 



 Nothing about him being born in the town or actually performing at the ground. At the time of writing this, it is the only concert (infamously poorly ran by all accounts), to have been held on the grass at Vale Park. If they’re dishing them out for adoption it won’t be long until Tom Jones has a plaque at the Bet 365 stadium. 

I actually thought I’d already posted the quintessential Motörhead song Ace of Spades a long time ago, apparently not. On its 1980 release the single peaked at number 15 in the UK charts, only bettered by The Golden Years Live EP a year later. The same song reached number 13 after being reissued in 2016, not long after Lemmy’s death. 

We are Motörhead and we play rock ‘n’ roll…..

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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. 

Jazz Hammer

  
You know what they say – better late than never.

Today should have been my fifth day off work out of eight days, instead it will be my third consecutive day in work this week – at least I’m off on Saturday. 

The week got off to a bit of an auspicious start. If anyone was a regular reader they’d have known it was my wedding anniversary last weekend. To “celebrate” we decided to have a few days in fabulous Blackpool. 

From our house it’s a 70 mile / 80 minute drive away, handy for us as we think Ozymandias may get travel sick. It’s an easy drive and convenient to stop if the hound gets a bit green around the gills. 

We hadn’t been in the town for long until we glanced at each other with that knowing look of “can we go home already”. Stoke is admittedly a run down area, but when the three main industries of coal, steel and pottery have dwindled away over time and never replaced the area will become neglected. Considering Blackpool’s predominate industry has always been tourism for well over a century the place isn’t very pretty on the eye and seemingly populated with people with a penchant for super strong lager and zero work ethic and the rest slowly traversing the streets with their mobility scooters. 

I believe the last time I spent more than 24 hours in the place was probably 1980. Since then I think I’ve had two day trips there and been to two football matches at Bloomfield Road. If it’s a further 36 years until my next sojourn to the place it’ll be 36 years too soon. 

We headed home on Tuesday and we were both back to the grind stone on Wednesday. Three days at work then one of those proper two day weekends that real jobs offer to finish off the week. 
This evening I should be attending Tussk’s record release gig for their self titled EP and also their last ever show being held at the Sugarmill in Stoke on Trent – ironically it will be my first time seeing the band. For some reason they’ve never been on my radar and unintentionally I’ve given their local shows a wide berth when they’ve played. I don’t think they’ve even been on a bill that I have attended and arrived late and simply missed them. They just seem to have been swimming in a different pool to myself. 

  

Obviously I’ve not heard anything from Tussk prior to deciding to head off to the show later. A quick play around on YouTube where there are several videos has now made me regret not looking into them earlier. They play dirty rock ‘n’ roll not too dissimilar to a band like the ever increasing popular Black Spiders or Buffalo’s Everytime I Die. Bordering on parts on that southern rock sound, but not quite embracing it completely. I have only heard three tracks so later on I could be in for a real surprise. 

I’ve picked this video just because I like the name Jazz Hammer! It’s taken from their 2014 single Par T. Animal and you can name your price for it and snag a digital copy of it from their  Band camp site

A Thousand Nights

Let’s start looking into the conundrum that is this weekends choice of gigs. Both are local to me, one is free one isn’t. One of Saturday’s shows is playing Wolverhampton on Friday night and Manchester sometime next week, but can I be bothered to travel, especially as next weekend might involve some mileage?

Headlining the free show at The Rigger is local band BallsDeep, or maybe Balls Deep. Not quite sure as the typography on the band’s debut album isn’t great and I’ve seen both versions knocking around. They formed from the ashes of three other Stoke bands in 2011 and in that time they have developed quite a reputation in the unsigned metal scene. They’ve played gigs over the length and breadth of the country and supported some pretty decent bands. Saturday’s gig is a local stop off on a pretty extensive UK tour in support of their second album …And On The Eighth Day, which I’m hoping to pick up on the night.

I’ve only seen them a couple of times in their career, first time at the Rigger and last year in Liverpool at the Mosh Against Cancer weekender. They did play Bloodstock’s second stage in 2014, but I think they were on too early for this aged old man. Being honest I was only in Liverpool to see Re-Animator, but when Balls Deep played earlier in the day I was seriously impressed with their Pantera influenced metal.

I think I’ve only seen them twice is due to what I perceive to be a pretty cringe worthy name. It’s just one of those monikers that doesn’t appeal to me and if I saw it in a magazine I’d probably skip over it. It’s quite bizarre that my wife has a similar feeling about it. I ordered the debut CD and it was hand delivered to the house, but I was fast asleep at the time, and she made a comment about the name when she told me someone from a band had been.

Name aside, here’s the video for A Thousand Nights for you to make up your own mind. Well you know what they say about judging a book by its cover.


New World Order

Well since Wednesday it’s been a hectic finish to the week. I managed to finish work early enough Wednesday afternoon to get a few hours of shut eye before I caught a train to London to see German band Rage supporting Helloween. Back on a train at 10pm and in my bed shortly before 1am Thursday. To say I was tired Thursday evening is an understatement and I retired to bed early for a well deserved eight hours of sleep.

Friday evening was the short drive to Crewe to make my first visit to The Box for a pair of Stoke punk bands in the shape of  Wasted Life and the mighty Discharge, via a local pub for a few hours of drunken debauchery for some.

Formed in 1977 in what then would have been a very industrial area, Tezz and Bones, the Roberts brothers, along with Rainy and Cal were responsible for reshaping the punk sound, and eventually having a whole sub genre named in their honour – “D-Beat”.

They have a very simplistic approach to the lyrics and music, you’re not going to get and rambling 18 minute epics about zeppelins from these guys. Short ferocious blasts of politically and socially angry, screamed lyrics is what is on the menu here.

Since releasing their debut album Why? on Stoke label Clay Records in 1981 I would have thought they’d have been happy with playing to 2,000 punks in the city’s biggest venue the Victoria Hall, but being so welcomed worldwide must have been so surreal.

In my mind, without the amalgamation of Motörhead and Discharge the heavy music scene might have been so different. The biggest metal band walking the Earth in 2016 paid homage to the Potteries quartet with two tracks on their Garage Inc. release in 1998. They’ve also been covered by the likes of Neurosis, Napalm Death, At The Gates, Soulfly, Anthrax, Ensign, Machine Head and even by Norwegian black metal band Carpathian Forest.

I’m not old enough to have seen them in their heyday, so I had to wait for their first reactivated gig at the Sugarmill in Hanley in 2007, with Varukers main man Rat now shouting down the microphone. I’ve seen them a bunch of times since, even supporting UK death metal titans Bolt Thrower in London in 2012.

The Rat era ended in 2014 when American Jeff “JJ” Janiak replaced Rat. JJ had been living in the city for sometime and was the Wasted Life vocalist and is now also screaming for Broken Bones. I saw what I think was their first show as a five piece, with original drummer Tezz back in the fold but now on guitar. That show in the Underground saw a reinvigorated band and with that new found enthusiasm seems to have lead to a record deal with major German metal label Nuclear Blast.

This video to this track was recorded at that 2014 show and is their first release for the label.

Watch Like Cowards

Later this evening marks my first gig of 2016 and the first time I’ve seen Potteries band Headpress live for a long time. Mixing hardcore with some death and thrash metal elements (forever to be unfortunately known as metalcore) and after listening to their most recent material, now with some very impressive Jamey Jasta like vocals.  Headpress formed at the tail end of the last century, but took a near decade long hiatus, returning to the local scene in 2014. Latest release Image Of Atrocity is available on Spotify or you can pay whatever you want for it through their Bandcamp site.

The Rigger used to be the local rock club where your footwear would weld to the floor if you remained static for too long. Every town seemed to have the very same floor in at least one venue. I’m sure a flooring company specialised in this super sticky covering. Over recent years the place has cleaned up very nicely.

Saying that though, it’s been 14 months since I was last in there. Actually, during 2015 I only attended five shows within the North Staffordshire border. It’s not as if no one plays here, there are regular gigs, just very few that seem to appeal to me. But on the other hand would I like to see some one like Death Angel play here to a couple of dozen people? We are nowhere near the size of Manchester or Birmingham, but when you see some of the bands that roll into places like Buckley and Nuneaton, and I’ve seen some pitiful crowds in our West Midlands neighbours venue, it makes you wonder what is going on with the bookers here, or they do realise local crowds can be so apathetic?

Live Arena 2016.1

  

Welcome to the New Year! It feels like such a long time ago since I saw Nightwish in London and I thought it was going to be longer still until my debut gig of 2016. Fortunately I’ve come across a couple of local shows over the next seven days so that’s an added bonus. 

Thursday 7th – The Rigger, Newcastle – under – Lyme
A local metalcore band formed long before the term was coined by a stack of nearly death metal bands who listened to hardcore! Reformed after a long hiatus, this will be my first time seeing them second time around. 

  
Saturday 9th – The Underground, Hanley
Originally I was going to see Scott Ian’s other band Motor Sister, but that tour has been cancelled. Local boiler suit clad band Fallen are playing up Hanley, so I might pop along. Never heard them, but one of their members works at a shop where I deliver, and he assures me they put on a bit of a visual show. 

An Ambiguous reason at best!