The Top Ten

Before WordPress I had a blog on the photosharing site but that mysteriously disappeared without warning (and the domain name has since resurfaced as something else entirely). One of the posts I published was my all time top 10 concerts, I think it might even have sown the seed in my mind for starting this blog, which was initially for gig reviews and little else. Then the gigs got more and more scarce but my appetite for writing stayed healthy so I’ve tried to launch other blogs, but I can never really sustain the same enthusiasm levels as I can when going on about music. So, I am re-hashing blog posts from history now. I know the top 5 probably hasn’t changed since I wrote this the first time (7 years ago maybe?) but maybe the rest has. Who knows.

Here are my top ten gigs in ascending order from 10

10 Hawkwind @ Fairfield Halls, 1989

Difficult to choose a best one of 3 or 4 excellent Hawkwind gigs, but this was the first one. I only knew half of the songs in those days, so a lot of it was a journey of discovery.

9  Datsuns @ The Astoria, 2002

As with #10, the first of several epic performances. They’ve never put in a less than amazing show, but the first time will always be the greatest. One of the very  best live acts on the circuit, even now.

8  Queens Of The Stone Age @ The Forum, 2002

Awesome due to the fact that I only knew the first 3 or 4 tracks off Songs For The Deaf, and the rest of it blew me away completely. I scarcely listen to them any more, which definitely makes this gig the odd one out on this list.

7  Def Leppard @ Brixton Academy, 2003

The very best of big hair and spandex rock, American stylee. The consummate professionals, made me wonder why I’d never seen them before. I’d go and see them again, I really would.

6  Dandy Warhols @ Brixton Academy, 2003

Much better than I expected them to be. I thought they’d be all sloppy and stoned and shit but they are incredibly tight (for a tripped out jam band).

5  Muse @ Big Day Out, 2007

Awesomeness abounds. Hideous environs, awful festival saved by a great performance.

4  Rush @ Wembley Arena, 1992

My heroes. Possibly the best sound I’ve ever heard at Wembley (to put it another way, possibly the only time it hasn’t been shit). They were just so fucking good.

3  Porcupine Tree @ Bloomsbury Theatre, 1999

Reignited a love affair with the works of Steven Wilson that had taken a bit of a back seat while rave happened. There is very little he has ever been involved in that I don’t absolutely adore. I probably listen to his stuff more than Rush or Nada Surf, even.

2  Nada Surf @ ULU, 2003

They taunted me by not playing again in the UK during the 2 1/2 years I lived there after this. Now Matthew Caws lives there and they play there (relatively) regularly and I know I’ll probably never see them again, much as I would like to.

1  Metallica @ Hammersmith Odeon, 1988

Best because of what it meant to me, as well as the fact that Metallica fucking kick ass live. I have since passed up the opportunity to see them in Christchurch, I would definitely see them if they played in Dunedin (as has been rumoured once) but that’s about it. It’s all about the time and the place.


The top 3 or 4 are never likely to change (especially not now I live in Dunedin!) but the rest are somewhat fluid and there are a few at the lower reaches of the top ten that might drop out in favour of others, depending on mood, what I’m listening to when you ask me etc etc. NMA hasn’t quite made the cut, neither has Maiden or Sabbath. Oh the fickleness of Aoide (the muse of song, classics nerds)

I haven’t included any electronic acts, as the circumstances in which I saw them make it less easy to be objective about things (i.e. I was trolleyed) but Orbital or Eat Static at Brixton might have made the cut on another day, as might The Orb. If I wrote a list of top 10 most trolleyed gigs then they’d definitely be on it.

I have tickets to see The Cult and Steven Wilson in the next couple of months. I would be very surprised if Astbury & Duffy came anywhere near getting themselves on this list, but I would be mildly disappointed if Steven Wilson doesn’t disturb the order of things. To say I am looking forward to that one is something of an understatement. I’m flying up to Auckland on my own for that one…


On the subject of space rock…

Space rock is one of my most favouritest musical genres. I fuckin’ loves it, even though it’s primarily designed for people that take a lot of psychedelic drugs, and I haven’t done that in a long, long time (like nearly 25 years! Eek!). It seemed like the logical thing to move on to, after I cut my musical teeth on Heavy Metal. The band that made the transition for me was Hawkwind.

I’m a huge Hawkwind fan. Fucking massive. Among the many items I carted halfway round the world when I emigrated to NZ was a crate of vinyl, which contains about 50 Hawkwind LPs. I just couldn’t bear to part with them, even though I could have made a fair bit of wonga as many of them are original 70s releases complete with booklets etc etc. They took their fair share of hippy-bashing when punk burst on the scene, and have remained pretty much universally un-cool for the last 30 years, but now I think the music writers that once pilloried them realise that in their own small way they influenced a hell of a lot. I’ve even heard them described as proto-punk, for fuck sake. I grew up with them basically, since I first heard the legendary Tommy Vance play Rocky Paths (the Live Chronicles version) on the legendary Friday Rock Show, and I haven’t stopped listening to them in almost 30 years. As far as I’m concerned though, they haven’t really made a decent record since the 80s (Xenon Codex being the last studio album I will listen to) and their golden period, for me, is the Robert Calvert era ’76-’79. Live At Brixton from 91 is a corker, but I’m possibly biased because I was there.

Anyway I’m rambling, but what I’m getting at, in a rather roundabout way, is that I’ve just discovered the best thing to happen to space rock since Hawkwind (well, since the Ozric Tentacles anyway). Allow me to introduce you to The Hawklords. Not THE Hawklords, well not really, but sort of a bit similar, like. While Hawkwind have been steadily declining and going through the motions a bit, what apparently started out as little more than a Hawkwind covers band is putting out space rock more Hawkwind-like than anything the actual Hawkwind have done in three decades. The Hawklords lineup nowadays consists of Harvey Bainbridge (an original Hawklord), Ron Tree (a former Hawkwind vocalist) and a guitarist Jerry Richards who I have a vague feeling did a stint in Hawkwind too, and some other names not familiar to me. Adrian Shaw, Nik Turner, Steve Swindells and Alan Davey have all featured in the past apparently, so credentials-wise this band is at least as Hawkwindy as Dave Brock’s lot.

I don’t even remember how I stumbled across them (it would have been Spotify, obvs, but not sure if it was served up to me as a recommendation or I just got a bit lost or what). I’m listening to R:Evolution (2015) as I write this, and to be honest, it could easily pass as the logical next album after 25 Years On. They have taken the best bits of Calvert era Hawkwind and melded it with the rocky, more polished sound from the 80s, with production values that Dave Brock could only dream of. Ron Tree is an excellent Calvert impersonator, indistinguishable from the real thing really. Pretty sure I’ve seen him with Hawkwind a couple of times and come away underwhelmed but here he is majestic. Jerry Richards is an extremely capable string-twanger. Not too much guitar hero, just enough to excite the palate. Way better than (my hero) Dave Brock, better even than the late great Huw Lloyd-Langton. Harvey Bainbridge is just doing what he always used to do, brilliantly – his keyboard sounds are just legendary.

hawklords20r-evolution20R:Evolution is mostly reminiscent of PXR5 and Quark… but there is a nod to much earlier stuff too (One Day is basically Hurry On Sundown rebooted). Evolver has been lifted from Doremi or …Mountain Grill and there isn’t anything on here at all that sounds ‘original’, whatever the fuck that means anyway. I expect Dave Brock went fucking apeshit when he heard these for the first time, they’re that heavily influenced by his stuff. Pretty much every riff, every bassline, every melody can be traced to an earlier album somewhere but who cares? This isn’t self-indulgent and jammy like its forebears though, the songs are all very well crafted and well, songy, with choruses and bridges and all that shit you don’t often get in space rock. It’s all very psychedelic indeed though, crammed with lots of samples and trippy weird shit and permeated throughout by HB’s lush floaty breathy synth chords.

Censored (2014) was pretty much the same vein but the first two albums (2012’s We Are One and 2013’s Dream) are a little more basic, as you would expect. They still have the same influences, mostly the punky side of the Calvert era but with definite nods to the early 70s. I saw a post (Facebook? Twitter?) announcing the next album for later this year, featuring guest vocals from Kim McAuliffe (Girlschool), so I’m definitely looking forward to that.

In summary then, Hawklords is now basically a Hawkwind for the 21st Century, polished and produced properly. It’s like someone discovered 4 lost albums from the late 1970s. What a fantastic discovery. Thanks Spotify!

** Straw poll of other people in the room (namely, Mrs ByTor) – “Is this Hawkwind? I Didn’t know you still listened to them. It’s not actually that bad.” As positive a review as she’s ever likely to give of a space rock band, I might even be able to get away with playing it again some time.

War Of The Worlds – The New Generation

Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds is a classic of our time. Nobody knows this album better than I. In fact, not many know this story better than I – I’ve read it dozens of times and I consider it to be one of my three or four favourite ever novels. I have been listening to the album regularly since 1978 when it was first released, and I know it inside out, upside down, back to front, note for note. As a child I would sit for hours poring over the accompanying booklet (in glorious LP size), singing along while totally engrossed in the story. The art direction for this album was just perfect and for me (and I’m sure many others) there can be no better representation of a Tripod than those devised by John Pasche, who incidentally designed the Rolling Stones’ ‘lips’ logo. All other Tripods, before and since, are vastly inferior. Growing up in and around Woking (where the Martians first land), even the locations have special meaning to me. In short, War of the Worlds is a significant part of my life and is sacred to me.

Naturally, when I discovered (on Spotify, where else?) that Jeff Wayne had done a ‘new’ version of this epic, with different performers, I was a little alarmed. Sceptical. Horrified, even. I know there have been dancey remixes of a lot of the tracks over the years, they never really bothered me because they were really just dance tracks with samples from the album thrown in. This however, stood a very good chance of being an excruciating car crash of a project. You can’t remake something like this. You don’t need to remake it. There was no way I was going to like it, that’s for sure, especially when I saw the list of performers. Gary Barlow for fuck sake? Joss Stone? And then after a bit of Googling I discovered that there was a stage show, no less, featuring Marti Pellow and Jason Donovan. Sacrilege doesn’t even begin to describe it. Definitely awful and worth avoiding like the plague.War of the Worlds TNG

Or is it? Like rubber-necking at the scene of a car crash, or sniffing your own farts, there is something that draws you inexorably towards it when you know you shouldn’t, when you know that it will only end in tears. So cautiously, I gave it a go.

And how glad I am that I did, because it is brilliant. Abso-fucking-lutely brilliant.

The new cast were clearly given copies of the original version and told to learn it off by heart. The rhythm, the cadence, every nuance in timing of the singing is faithfully reproduced. The music (more on this later) is mostly the same, albeit with some updated sounds. Hence, it’s like they’ve just ‘modernised’ it with the minimum of changes, and retained (almost) all of the original charm.

Obviously, having listened to Richard Burton, David Essex, Phil Lynott et al play the parts for the last 30+ years, those voices ARE War of the Worlds. Even though David Essex wasn’t even that good, he is the artilleryman, the only one I know. The casting for the ‘New Generation’ (hereafter known as TNG) is spot on though, pretty much perfect.

There aren’t any voices around these days that can compete with the rich, milky smoothness of Burton’s narration, but casting Liam Neeson as the journalist was a good call. He possesses the gravitas necessary to convey the doom and terror convincingly, without overacting, and his faint Irish brogue neatly fits the hole vacated by Burton’s South Wales tint.

Gary Barlow as the ‘sung thoughts of the journalist’ is a masterstroke by Wayne. His voice is absolutely perfect for The Eve Of War (‘…the chances of anything coming from Mars’) and Forever Autumn. He has exactly the same sort of singing voice as Justin Hayward, the same range, tone, timbre and everything, and it is such a faithful rendition it’s almost like ‘Tonight Matthew, I’m going to be Justin Hayward in War Of The Worlds’. I take back everything I said about the lardy boy band goon. Gracious, n’est-ce pas?

Ricky Wilson is also brilliant – again, Mr Wayne has cast a voice that is very similar to the original, albeit slightly less hammy. Wilson’s spoken dialogue is markedly better than David Essex’s, and the singing is very, very close. I’m a long time fan of the Kaiser Chiefs, but I would never have guessed that his voice would fit so well in this environment. Neither would I have guessed that someone so ‘yoof’ as the singer of one of the biggest indie bands around would deign to appear on something so uncool as a ‘rock opera’.

Perhaps the most surprising is Parson Nathaniel, played by some bloke called Maverick Sabre. Wikipedia tells me he is some class of a rapper so obviously I’ve never heard of the fellow. This bloke is really good though and he conveys ‘tortured’ and ‘slightly kooky’ exceptionally well. I’m not sure either he or Phil Lynott particularly spring to mind when you read the novel though.

The weak point for me is Joss Stone’s Beth. Her spoken dialogue is fine, although she sounds a little young for the role compared to Julie Convington, but it’s her singing that grates – it’s just a little too soul-like for my tastes. A bit on the warbly side, if you will. It’s not bad, it’s just not as good as the others.

Musically, Jeff Wayne has kept the changes to a minimum. The most noticeable is that the synthesizer sounds have been updated. I would love to have seen the setup they used in 1978, I imagine an entire studio full of Moogs, Synclaviers and giant hand built synthesizers. This was even before the days of the Fairlight, so any sampling would have been by tape loop. However, the synth parts and all the sampling and effects on TNG have probably been created entirely on a laptop. I’m slightly dis-chuffed that he has allowed dubstep rhythm to encroach upon some of the synth parts in The Artilleryman and the Fighting Machine, but it’s used reasonably sparingly. I now realize where the inspiration for this probably came from – it made me do something of a double take last year when I discovered it. Thankfully, the luscious string sections that sweep throughout the entire work have been preserved – I’m no orchestral expert but they still sound ‘real’ rather than ‘synthesized’. In fact, I’d hazard a guess that they are the original string tracks remastered. The guitar parts sound fresher, perhaps it’s just the 1978 tracks with some more modern effects plastered on them, perhaps they’ve been replayed note-for-note faithful to the original.

I have listened to TNG a good half dozen times since I discovered it, and although I’m sure it will never take the place of the original version, it’s still definitely worth having, and I’m really quite glad it was made. What Jeff Wayne needs to do now though, is collaborate with someone like HR Geiger or Tim Burton on a movie version of the musical version of the book version. Set in the Victorian era. Set in Woking. Not starring Tom Fucking Cruise. And it would have to be using John Pasche’s design for the tripods, or there’s no deal. That would be a movie to see.

Spotify. What the fuck?

All your musics are belong to us

I just discovered Spotify. Like literally a couple of weeks ago. I’ve known about it for a few years, thanks to people in the UK, but it’s not been available to us Kiwis for long, so I’ve taken the plunge and downloaded it. It’s fucking incredible isn’t it? HOW do they do that? I mean, I don’t get it, how does the minimal amount of advertising generate enough revenue to pay the rights? There’s no irritating screen ads, and the sound ads are just for Spotify Premium. Presumably this could not work as a business model if nobody bought the premium version, but how the hell did they get the rights holders to agree in the first place?

This very possibly signifies a tidal change in my music habits. I’ve amassed a healthy collection of (almost exclusively) pirated mp3’s over the 15 years since I first fired up Napster, Gnutella, followed by Kazaa, then Limewire, eDonkey and finally bitTorrent. I even remember the first song I downloaded (Sing Our Own Song, by UB40). I’m quite proud of my 20,000 song library, I mean, it’s a veritable work of art and I’ve put thousands of man hours into it, searching, researching, WAITING, re-tagging etc, not to mention the Terabytes of data allowance that it’s cost. I’ve got several copies of it – backed up to 3 or 4 places because it’s incredibly valuable to me. Or at least it was.

The day I discovered what was available on Spotify, my 1TB of choons became largely redundant. I say largely because there is a lot of ‘specialist’ or shall we say ‘minority interest’ music on my hard drives that will probably never see the light of day on a commercial service but the majority is there for my streaming pleasure. And it’s there with fucking little bells on – pretty much every album is the deluxe remastered edition with additional live tracks and shit. There are a few notable exceptions (why is there no Cardiacs ??!?) but it’s more than a fair trade-off for the bazillions of weird and wonderful new artists to whom I now have access. It’s like searching through box upon box of old LPs at a charity shop. A good deal of it is cockwash, with horrific cover photos and terrible puns for titles but the breadth of choice utterly mindblowing. Over 20 million to choose from, I read somewhere. And they’re just there, ready to be streamed at a moment’s notice. From a purely techie nerdy perspective, I’d love to see what they have under the bonnet, there must be some serious database kit propping all this up.

I find myself using Spotify mostly when sat at a desktop, either via speakers or ‘phones (at work) – even streaming just the basic version which I guess must be at least160k, the sound quality is quite acceptable via laptop / home entertainment system. I don’t even need to do the 320k version, certainly not enough to justify the $12 a month (on its own not bank-breaking territory, but I’ve taken a stand against signing up for monthly subscriptions on t’Internet. Viz, The Onion, The Daily Mash, all my fave reads are now behind paywalls, it soon adds up.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to format all my hard drives and get rid of my mp3 collection, that way madness surely lies. My parents did a similar thing in the 1970s. Gave a bunch of Beatles LPs to the jumble sale because the arrival of cassettes and home taping meant that there was no need to keep the cumbersome vinyl eyesores any longer. I nearly cried when I found out what I could have inherited. Obviously, the whole Spotify / Grooveshark / streamed music thing could all go tits up very easily, if Herr Ulrich, Dr Dre et al get shitty like they did over Napster. In the meantime, I’ll continue to use it to expand my musical horizons (who the fuck has ever heard of Captain Twang And His Rhythm Cat?), fill in a few notable gaps (there were 3 New Model Army live albums I didn’t know about!) and generally make hay while the sun shines.

By Tor and his Technicolour Dreamcoat

I was going to go and see The Melvins. Yes, THE Melvins, so-called godfathers of grunge – coming at you live and direct from Refuel right here in Dunners. I thought I was going to have another gig to write about but unfortunately I got hammered the previous night at a wedding, and felt too fragile to leave the house. Arses! Anyway, it would have probably been too loud, and half empty because there weren’t any posters and Dunedin students probably haven’t the faintest idea who the Melvins is anyhow.

Anyway, to satiate my craving to write more shit on the interweb, whilst keeping this blog vaguely on-topic, I thought I’d do show and tell. Today, class, I have brought in a coat. Not just any coat though, a special coat, a magic coat, a wondrous coat of many colours that exudes the essence of pure rock and roll, nay pure metal. See how it shines so. See the quality of the stitchwork, the classic lines, the symmetry of the studs. Sure beats birds nests, sea shells and interesting rocks, do it not? Sure, you may touch it, but wash hands first and don’t be ripping it none.

Full metal jacket (back)
Full metal jacket (back)

A little background: This jacket started life as a revolting stonewashed denim monstrosity, more than likely purchased from Top Man, Guildford High St, circa 1984. Undoubtedly quite fashionable at the time, its baggy sleeves were presumably meant to be worn pushed up, and the collar turned up too, accompanied by tight jeans and espadrilles. Sans socks, obviously. All topped off with a pair of black Raybans. Anyway, enough of that nonsense.

I metalled it. I metalled it good. I ripped the heinous sleeves off, dyed it proper denim colour and took a trip to East West in Guildford to get me some patches. I must have stood at the counter for hours, sifting through the basket of assorted patches, studs and badges, trying to decide which to spend my hard-earned paper-round money on. I sowed them all on by myself too. Books, Bits & Bobs in Kingston and Kensington Indoor Market were also plundered for heavy metal patch coolness. I’m pretty sure the empty space on the shoulder was formerly occupied by Hawkwind, which was removed in my ‘post-metal’ period, to be given pride of place on a ratty old army surplus canvas knapsack.

Full metal jacket (front)
Full metal jacket (front)

I’m quite certain there will never again be an occasion when a sane human being would want to wear this jacket, save for a 80s metal themed fancy dress party, but I can never dispose of it. Not ever.

p.s. Available for hire (ideal for 80s theme parties etc). POA.

If only…

Now a brief list of bands that I regret not having seen. Obviously I regret not having seen Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles and Led Zeppelin etc – I’m talking about bands I could have seen but geography/fate/timing/inertia conspired against me. In no particular order. There’s bound to be more, but I can’t think right now – I have been lucky enough to see a fuck of a lot of cool bands, so this list is pleasingly small.

The Stranglers (with Hugh Cornwell) Fucking loved the Stranglers, ever since Golden Brown. They played Guildford Civic around the time of 96 Tears, but I was studying for my A Levels and it was a school night and I didn’t know Cornwell was going to leave. I don’t like the other fellow though.

Duran Duran The best pop band of the 80s, and not just because the guitarist was called Andy Taylor. Sort of liked them at the time (due to osmosis through my sister’s bedroom wall) but only got majorly into them in the 90s, before the 80s got cool again – fuck, I’m such a trailblazer. Thought about seeing the reunion tour in 2004/5 ish, but couldn’t really hack the whole Wembley Arena thing.

Judas Priest Loved them back in my teens, still listen to them now. Deceiver was the first Priest track I heard (on a dodgy K-Tel compilation called Masters of Metal, which introduced me to so many bands. I would love to find that again, but it was probably so shit that it was deleted fairly soon after release) and I mostly like the 70s stuff (Victim Of Changes, Rocka Rolla etc) but I’d love to see them play the NWOBHM era stuff live. They came to Auckland last year, but playing the new concept album, and not the greatest hits stuff, so I passed.

Fountains Of Wayne Was only vaguely aware of them when I lived in the UK, so no idea if they even toured. Have since become one of my most played bands, and I wonder what they would have been like on stage? Given that they aren’t that popular, in the UK at least, presumably would have been able to see them in a nice small venue. Bumsies.

Ultravox Possibly my first favourite band – The Collection was one of my first cassettes (received as a (12th?) birthday present), and they are without doubt one of the most influential synth bands ever. Band Aid notwithstanding.

Depeche Mode I still only possess the 2 singles collections CDs, but I consider myself a huge fan. I loved all the early 80s stuff, then went right off them while I was into metal and they were in the U.S. doing smack. When I got into electronic dance music I heard ‘Everything Counts’ mixed into a track by Meat Beat Manifesto and I suddenly realized how utterly brilliant they were, even the more recent stuff.

Coldpay at Glasto 05 See Glasto 05.

Megadeth Massive fan of the first three albums – when ‘So Far…’ was out I wore out the tape because I played it constantly. They were a seriously good thrash metal band. They toured shortly before I had my gig awakening, and not again until after I’d grown out of them. I tried to get tickets for the 2005 Astoria show (Oh, how have the mighty fallen) but it sold out. Probably just as well, seeing as I didn’t know (much less like) anything post 1988. A familiar story.

Voivod Not a big enough fan to go and see them back in the day, and I don’t remember seeing any tours advertised in more recent years. Not sure I’d want to see them with Jason Newstead, and since one of them is dead, they are probably a shadow of their former selves.

Rage Just gotta love Teutonic thrash/metal, innit.

Opeth You just cannot beat a bit of progressive death metal, can you? Same story, didn’t discover them until too late. The Scands do a great line in metal don’t they? Just couldn’t believe I hadn’t even heard of them until about album number 4, by which time I was preparing to emigrate. I think they’ve played in Australia before, but I have definitely missed the boat now. You do see the odd Opeth t-shirt in Dunedin but I would be very surprised if they even came to Auckland. Sniff. I might invest in the Albert Hall DVD, that will have to do.

Roy Harper Too young to have caught him in his prime, but he was still touring when I was gigging. I did turn down the offer of a ticket (and a lift) to see him play The Grey Horse in Kingston in about 1991, for reasons completely unknown. I really do regret that decision.

Steeleye Span Electric folk oddity family favourite. Parents listened to them when we were kids, possibly the least cool band to admit to liking. Nevertheless, I absolutely love them, and wish I had seen them at one of their annual Reading Hexagon shows. With Maddy Prior, obviously. I am not ever allowed to play them at a volume audible to the missus.

Clan of Xymox Introduced to the mysterious Xymox back at Uni in the early 90s and was well versed in their early stuff but kinda dropped off the radar until only a few years ago. Now I can safely say they are my favourite Dutch darkwave techno goth band of all time. By default.

Masters Of Reality The first album was inducted into my personal hall of fame back in 1988 and I think I remember reading about a tour back then, but I never made the effort to go, for some reason. The precursor of Queens of the Stone Age and Kyuss and all that desert rock stuff. Not sure if they’re even still going, but I’d definitely go if they came to town (yeah right).

Theatre of Tragedy Usual story, never really got into them until I was in NZ. Still not quite sure if I prefer the growly death metal early stuff or the more electro poppy goth stuff of later albums, but I reckon they’d be a great live act. Preferably supporting Clan of Xymox.

Atomic Swing I’m a sucker for a good pop tune, and the Swedes do it best. They split up long before I had come across them though.

Eloy Preposterous German prog rock nonsense from the 70s and beyond (I think there is an incarnation still around today) producing good* albums up until at least the mid 90s. First exposure to them was on Tommy Vance’s Friday Rock Show, as with so many great (!) bands, and over the years I managed to acquire a good dozen or so of their albums.  Their output ranges from ridiculous overblown Yes-eque  concept albums (The Power And The Passion, worth it for the cringe value alone) to the more avant-garde synth rock stuff from the 80s like Ra. However, no bugger’s heard of them except me.

*all things being relative, you understand

Mötley Crüe By rights I shouldn’t like them at all because they’re a bunch of effeminate hairspray-guzzling pretty boys from LA, the absolute antithesis of the sort of rock music I generally like. In fact, I think I only ever got into them by mistake, because ‘Shout At The Devil’ happened to be on the flip side of a copy Master of Puppets I’d borrowed. The Crüe are a bit of a guilty pleasure I’d have to say, and I think everything up to Dr Feelgood is worth a listen. Kudos to any band with not one but two heavy metal umlauts. I would only have wanted to see them in the 80s though, I think the post-Pamela Anderson, wasting disease-ridden Crüe would be rather too sad.

Steel Panther Everything that’s funny about Mötley Crüe but intentionally so, and anyway the guitarist’s way better than Mick Mars. Any band that can come up with the lyric “You’re the only girl I like to screw when I’m not on the road, when I get home my dinner’s cooked and the front lawn is mowed” has to be worth seeing, and deserves some kind of Nobel prize for something.

Culture Shock Not the poncy drum and bass outfit that seems to come up on YouTube and all the filesharing networks . No, the original Culture Shock, the crusty punk outfit made up out of Dick Lucas and other former Subhumans. I tried to see Citizen Fish, Dick Lucas’s next project, once at Deptford Free Festival, but they weren’t in the tent they were supposed to be in when they were supposed to be in it. Civilization Street is just a belter of a track.

Early Man Only heard of them a couple of years ago. Would imagine they are pretty exciting live, although I think they should really be called ‘Early Metallica’.

Jethro Tull Longtime fan of Tull. Martin Barre is another of the guitar greats, possibly wasted in a band that really didn’t rock that hard. Prefer the seventies classic era stuff (Aqualung, Mistrel In The Gallery, Songs From the Wood etc) but they put out some fairly creditable material in the 80s too. Crest Of A Knave is worth it just for the guitar work, but the cod-Miami Vice 80s feel to it is quite laughable, now. I wonder if Ian Anderson wore a suit jacket with the sleeves pushed up, and espadrilles with no socks when they recorded this?