Wednesday, 11 January 2012

CATAPULT

I first mentioned Catapult here. I found this scribble in a cupboard and liked it - I'm not sure of the purpose of it other than to share the first flourishes of my new love with you. You deserve it. Reading it back it sounds like a madman wrote it.


THE FIRST DAY. So there I was, between Christmas and New Year playing Gran Turismo 5 on the newly bought Playstation 3 (like I need more distractions) and having a gay old time on my own. It was a nice opportunity to listen to some tunes rather than the shit on the game, and I NEVER get the opportunity to do that now. The main focus of today's sesh was the less familiar end of my collection of Junk Shop Glam (including Cherry Red compilations with titles like BOOBS and GLITTERBEST) featuring those Glam Rock and Terrace Stomp bands that no one remembers, or indeed bought at the time. One particular middle 8 caught my ear on a particularly bad lap and I made a note to track it down. A bit later after giving up on a hard slog around the Nurburgring Nordschleife (My steering had gone to shit) I had a little look through the discs to see if I could locate the bit I liked (I mean, I liked most of the 3 hours of music, but this was one I knew needed further investigation). Turned out to be a band called Catapult playing a pretty good slice of Bovver Boogie called Let Your Hair Hang Down. Some London pub rockers who tried their hand at going glam rock like most of the other bands on there? WRONG. Turned out to be Dutch. Not only that, but the KINGS of NEDER STOMP. Did an internet search and lo and bewank there was a video of them doing the song. Check this out. Isn't the guitar solo good? It's it all perfect? Part of me thought about the cunts who'd watch this and slag it off because it isn't some ernest and tryhard ****** Funk in Topshop gear (is that offensive? I'll star it out. You know what I mean). I loved it even more. Then I saw in the suggested videos another song. Brace yourself. Get a load of this. Now I'm in love. Genuine love. Listen to the production on that. Listen to the great vocals. Try to do the high kicks. Go on. I fell over in the kitchen. Look at the delight in their faces. They genuinely know that this is a game changer. I had to go and meet a pal for a drink down the road but I really wanted to listen to the band on my way so I hurriedly started looking for stuff on line. Ended up using fucking iTunes. Got everything they did - about 19 tracks in all, their solitary 1974 album (another box ticked - the best year in rock history) and various A sides and B sides. I NEVER go in that deep on bands. Well, I do but look at the list of previous James-Goes-Mental-And-Dives-Right-In bands: Queen, David Bowie, Cardiacs, Sparks. In that order. Are you starting to see how big a deal this was becoming for me? I actually felt breathless at the rush. I tootled off to the pub with Let Your Hair Hang Down and Teeny Bopper Band blasting in my ears - occasionally investigating other track just to dip my toe in, excited at the prospect of tomorrow being spent on the PS3 listening to them and finding out more on overgrown back alleys of the supersonic information super porn highway.

THE SECOND DAY. The next day I found an essay about them taken from the sleevenotes of a 90s CD compilation. Good start. Turns out they formed in the very same resort that I'd been to with the pal I met last night. IT'S A SIGN. I knew we should've formed a glam rock band that holiday. I found another video too. This completed the picture for me - they were bloody lovely chaps and they rocked fucking hard on stage. Also, they had their own Spinal Tap moment on a TV soundstage. With the help of some super discography websites I compiled the body of work I had downloaded into their debut album (1974's eponymous effort, the cover of which is over there with the little chap and the broken window) to get a better idea, and also the follow up compilation (1976's CATAPULT II). The Complete Collection (Vols 1 and 2) on iTunes were a chronological romp through the single A and B sides plus unaccounted for album cuts. I know full well if I'd got the albums au natural, it wouldn't take long for me to make the exact same compilation that I ended up buying. Just to see, like. First things first, they are weird little albums - much like when, after respecting WIZZARD from afar for decades, I finally got their debut WIZZARD BREW by accident which turned out to be amazing. In turn, Glam, Prog, Country & Western, Metal and maybe some proto punk. I.E. Just right. Catapult did not shy away from weird as much as I'd learnt they didn't shy away from perfect pop. Later single Spanish Eyes was prime ABBA. Another one Disco Njet - Wodka Da gave Boney M an entire career. Springtime Ballyhoo was like The Nice riding horses. There was even a sequence in Nightrake that wouldn't be out of place on Bowie's Low. Granted, if Black Lace decided to do Art Decade. I could see Laura Tobin and Sophie Raworth nodding along appreciatively on the TV. Chicks would dig Catapult. Mark my words, chicks would dig Catapult. Did you click the link up there on the words 'NEDER STOMP'? See that the label that released that particular compilation is called EXCELSIOR. IT'S ANOTHER SIGN. In the link up there on the word 'essay' you'll learn that the band went on to do lots of other stuff. Let me tell you that follow up novelty New Wave band THE MONOTONES are also excellent, but that's going to have to be another blog post. Yep, those are the same people. So anyway, now I'm spending my time on GT5 rooting through those Junkshop Glam CDs for more hidden gems. I'll be stunned if Pantherman, Angel or Go Go Thunder get a whole blog entry to themselves in 2012, but you never know as they are fucking excellent too. Sorry about all the swearing. Later in the year I'll do a JUNKSHOP GLAM DISCO SILVERY PODCAST (a 'Stompilation') and you'll see what I mean. Good stuff.

THE THIRD DAY. Catapult rested.

Friday, 6 January 2012

HOT HITS

I think I've only briefly talked about Bowie on here (in a roundabout way here and here) but as it's his 65th birthday this week (on the 8th) I thought it a good opportunity to get this out there. Last month you may remember a minor fuss being made of the long lost Top Of The Pops performance of 'The Jean Genie' from January 1973 being rediscovered and aired on TOTP2 over Christmas. Never a favourite song, but it was a real treat. Having only seen the production stills before and heard a terrible mic-to-the-TV audio version I wasn't hoping for much, but it's a great snapshot of Bowie and The Spiders From Mars living out their Yardbirds fantasies on the show with a fully live 5 minute blues blow out. Even little Trevor Bolder gets a look in. As these things do, it got me thinking. There was a version of 'The Jean Genie' on one of the first records I ever listened to and truly loved - Hot Hits 16 from 1973, featuring sound alike hits of the day way before I heard the original. Here's the cover:
You know the sort of thing. I think these are fascinating glimpses of their era and in their own way an important look at the artists covered, contemporary copycat recordings of songs we know so well now, but these session cats only had a few spins to get them right when they were newly released - check out 'Starman' on here. The singer would've had no idea how berserk the cockney singing could get. The family always had loads lying around - the result of having a dad with not only an eye for a budget price bargain, but also an eye for an under dressed bird in a wetsuit / playing snooker / on the farm / as a biker or whatever the theme of that month was. Oh to be a 70s Dad - the weekly fix of Pan's People and a vast collection of Hot Hits albums in the shed. Anyway, in a burst of nostalgia brought on by the Jean Genie performance on TOTPs I compiled a ~nearly~ complete David Bowie songbook from these albums through the years off my original wax cylinders. Most are from the similar Top Of The Pops series (no relation to the TV show), some are from another set called 12 Tops (Annoyingly, bar 'Rock N Roll Suicide' from April '74's 12 Tops Vol 16 - I bloody lost that back in '05. Anyone got it?).
I present these with the long bootlegged tracks from Hits '67 that some people will have you believe is actually a skint session singing pre-fame Bowie making a buck (Elton John did the same in the same era - boy was he narked when people worked it out). I ripped these from my own copy of the LP so they are in slightly better quality than the bootlegs. I always add 'Penny Lane' to my Bowie 60's compilations for pals primarily to weird them out, but also because I'm a contrary fellow. I'm 98% sure these aren't him but could argue either way. Most of these tracks are long deleted, but I do this as YOU NEED to hear the version of 'TVC15' on here. And '"Heroes"'. They trump the originals if you ask me. What an eye for detail these session cats have! But each track has it's own quirk. You won't believe 'Under Pressure' with the same chap doing both parts. BTW - 'Knock On Wood' follows the Amii Stewart '79 disco cover, not the '74 Bowie live single, and 'Oh! You Pretty Things' follows the frankly (homo) superior Peter Noone cut. Happy birthday Mr Bowie.

I'll let you change the MP3 properties yourself - I forgot to do it myself.

His name was always Buddy

19 tracks STEREO MP3
1 hour APPROX
63MB @ 128kbps

TOP OF 2011 PART THREE

Films. Final part of the review of the year. Books and music are just through here. No attempt was made to remember all of them some and presented here in no particular order - some of the films that got a look at in 2011. Note - Film 2011 With Claudia Winkleman was a joke. An absolutely hateful joke.
National Lampoon's Dirty Movie - Just a series of dirty jokes and crude comical sketches. I loved it.
Super 8 - Bid of a disappointment considering what it promised.
Insidious - Couple of scary bits, the end was a bit weak.
Final Destination 5 - Genuinely one of the best movie franchises out there.
The Mechanic - I love Jason Statham. I don't know why and I don't know how it happened.
Killer Elite - See above.
Thor - Liked the bits on Earth. The bits in space were rubbish.
Transformers 3 - As a Transformers purist I'm amazed how much I like this franchise. I also think the Tom Cruise War Of The Worlds is one of the better adaptations. There are no rules to this.
Cowboys & Aliens - Should've been a whole lot better. Good to see Harrison Ford dressed as Han Solo again.
Attack The Block - Genuinely the worst film I have ever seen. Absolute shit.
Unknown - I don't like Liam Neeson but his films are excellent. Should've put Statham in it instead.
Paul - So so. Turns out that Pegg bloke is a dick. A shame.
Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes - Never liked the franchise one bit. This seemed OK but confused the matter even more when you think about it.
Contagion - Grim, but better than Perfect Sense which was essentially the same film. Even the tit count in it couldn't save it.
Bad Teacher / Horrible Bosses - I get confused remembering which is which, but it's OK as they were good. Horrible Bosses wins though.
Source Code - Really super. Highly predictable but good with it.
Captain America - Real good. To be honest, as long as I'm eating and warm, I'll end up liking anything. I've bored myself now. Toodlepip! xx

Thursday, 5 January 2012

TOP OF 2011 PART TWO

BOOKS. You know Silvery are the only band to ever have put a bibliography in a rock album? Twice? Well think of this as the Silvery bibliography of 2011, and as always, do check them out and report your findings back. Part One is here.

40 Years Of Queen by Harry Doherty
A wonderful trawl through the Queen archives, featuring historic replica posters, tickets and promotional items to pull out and play with (I got two so I could play with one until destruction). The pick of a  big year for Queen publications - but an honourable mention also goes to Peter Hince's Queen Unseen, the not entirely satisfying story of being on the road with the band. Doherty's work also has some annoying errors of course (I can spot a wrong caption in Queen or Bowie scribbles at 40 paces) but including only half the promised hour long 1977 interview on the CD was unforgivable. Now to be found in the bargain bins, a real must have for those among you who feel you're a bit old for Lego but fancy a good fiddle while watching Countryfile. You hear old blokes going on about The Clash, but you know they will never ever be as good as Queen.

The Impact of the Railways in the East End 1835-2010 by Emma Dwyer
A weird bound essay found in the London Transport Museum shop looking indepth at the regeneration of the corner of London's neglected railway lines that will always be Silvery. Excellent tales and brilliant illustrations coming across like Newsnight doing a Time Team episode. It even has Gore's engraving of a London viaduct on the cover which graced many an early Silvery flyer and bootleg cassette. The cover is down there, look.

Any Day Now by Kevin Cann
Looking at the early years of David Bowie day by day up until 1974 when he became the Man Who Fell To America and left the Ziggy clone kids mourning in the UK. I know my Bowie, but this is remarkable - digging up bits and bobs I was genuinely stunned by. The closest comparison I could make is when I first sat through Dave Thompson's Moonage Daydream back in '87 opening up the chest of Bowie-dom. And I never thought I'd feel that excitement about a Bowie book again. You hear old blokes going on about The Clash, but you know they will never ever be as good as David Bowie.

Viz - Anus Horribilis
A page for each day of the year for the purchaser to read when visiting the smallest room in the house. With most Viz things, you'll see that the early stuff really was shit and it has certainly gone through a renaissance recently. Well, the last decade. That turns generally accepted knowledge on its head. It really is like Private Eye but with cock gags in it. Up there with their previous best compendium, Roger's Ad Break. Still irked about the amount of my entries that made it into the proper Profanisaurus (unprovable) and the lack of any sign of the original article that inspired 'Thunderer & Excelsior' in 2004. Or was it 2005? You hear old blokes going on about The Clash, but you know they will never ever be as good as Viz.

Blockbuster! / Number One Songs In Heaven by Dave Thompson
Two for the price of one. I never thought I'd see a book dedicated to The Sweet or Sparks. Then two come along at once. Sparks even had another one too in the shape of Daryl Easlea's Talent Is An Asset. Spoilt for choice. Both books were somehow combined in the same author's Glam history Children Of The Revolution which made me darn happy this year. Even featuring an heroic turn by our own blog star Martin Gordon. Cherry Red Books, Silvery salute you.
Post Everything by Luke Haines Luke Haines had his work cut out to follow up his Britpop kiss and tell (more a Britpop Piss and Smell to be honest) from a couple of years ago. I'm not so familiar with his 00s work which might have made this more fun - the tale of everything crumbling around him and him coming back stronger. About 6 times. I was lucky enough to open for the great man in February doing a Silvery Karaoke One Man set. But we don't talk about that. I told him I was touched that he looked back on those heady days supporting Suede in '92 with as much fondness as I did. Which kind of blew the cover of me being a green 21 year old.

Aylesbury Bolton Wolverhampton Hove by Adrian Bell
Adrian 'Belch' Bell is a wise and funny man, so it's only right he poured years of graft into this love letter to Cardiacs. A travelogue of his 101 Cardiacs gigs over the years and certainly of more than enough interest to anyone who did the same in the 80s and 90s with any number of bands. I was lucky enough to receive one of the first limited hard back editions and shed a little tear as I saw my name in there.

Out Of This World by Mike Ashley Honourable mention must go to this companion publication to an exhibition at the British Library. A beautiful collection of early Sci Fi posters and book covers. Just my cup of tea and well worth scanning and sticking on the covers of the next load of Silvery singles. The cover is up there, look. That reminds me - I should do films next. Toodlepip.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

TOP OF 2011 PART ONE

First things first - I forgot to wish you all a happy new year. So here it is! What better way to look forward to the new as we look back on the old. It just doesn't seem right to rank these, so in no particular order, the top things I heard in 2011, old and new. Mainly old, it must be said. I didn't include the 2011 Queen reissues begause that's a blog in itself. Maybe next time.

Rising Of The Lights by William D Drake
The album of 2011 - William D Drake's best album yet, bouncing between uptempo tricky time signature jaunts and long psuedo prog workouts. Bill's rumaging around in his dusty Victorian bookshelves pays off again leaving us swooning and chuckling at the wonderful images conjoured up. The silly sausage.

Barringtone's single Snake In The Grass
A single from, I dunno, 2 years ago? Discovered the band playing live at the Brixton Windmill and couldn't quite believe what I was hearing. Avant-art-power trio indie? No, that doesn't sound right. Far better than their previous band Clor but following the same lines. Would love to get more by Barringtone but they seem slightly internet shy. A cracking hope for 2012.

Catapult by Catapult (1974)
Holy smoke. I like Glam Rock also rans - you know this - but this lot, crown kings of dutch Neder Stomp, really really stir things up. One spin of 'Let Your Hair Hang Down' makes you realise that the landscape of 1974 could've been a whole lot different, and one watch of 'Teeny Bopper Band' will make you want to dust off the clogs and glitter and form your own Catapult. But that's not all - dig deeper and you'll marvel at the soundscapes of 'Nightrake' and 'Springtime Ballyhoo'. I will be blogging more about this lot soon. It seems anything released in 1974 was brilliant and as the tour film shows, a band that can fucking tear it up live is ok with me. Straight in my top bands ever top 10.

David Bowie's long lost Toy album
Read about this here. Not necessarily the best unreleased Bowie record, but a welcome diversion while we wait for the real meat this year when the vaults open under a new label.

MMs Bar on Trunk Records
A collection of announcements from a Midlands Mainline buffet car. Another brilliant release from Trunk.

I Agree With Nick by Special Needs
Recently reformed blah blah blah. Special Needs released their first new material for about 5 years a couple of months ago and it dazzled with a fine addition to their trademark call and response vocals and relentless marching drums. In short, fucking excellent. Not difficult really in a year which almost every single musical style has totally gone to shit. Well done suits. Technically, Special Needs should clean up in 2012.

Two Halves Of The Same Boy by Silvery
Our only release this year (ignoring the much praised and long deleted Bandcamp releases of the 'London Riots Musical' demo selection in the summer and the 'Shimmy Shimmy' meisterwerk) trumped all the previous ones by spending over a month on the BBC playlist and filling Koko for a release bash (well, most of them were already there I think). With the album Railway Architecture stripped of singles already (The best shot 'A Deconstruction Of Roles' was fired off the previous October, laying the groundwork for this filler) follow up options were limited and a reissue of debut single 'Horrors' was vetoed. Label slow to show the money meant the surefire summer smash 'Shimmy Shimmy' never got to the mixing stage and global stardom for Silvery had to wait another year. Again.