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50TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL

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David Crosby
Tyler Bryant &
The Shakedown
Chris Rea
BLACK STAR RIDERS
ROBERT PLANT
WHITESNAKE
NOVEMBER 2017 ISSUE 242

Features
34 Fleetwood Mac
One band, a myriad of eras and a whole lotta moving and
shaking going on. Classic Rock celebrates half a century of
Fleetwood Mac, beginning with Mick Fleetwood taking us
through his band’s early blues years. Then we move on to the
crazy drama of the multi-platinum, drug-addicted worldwide
hit machine years, and beyond…

52 Foo Fighters
Dave Grohl was supposed to spend 2017 taking some time out.
Instead he ended up with a new Foos album exploring his
darkest thoughts.

56 Chris Rea
Rock’s great survivor on industry sharks, strokes, cancer and
why he’s earned the right to sing the blues.

60 Thin Lizzy
They were just another rock band, then they released Jailbreak
and joined the A-listers. Now they had to stay there.

66 Steve Winwood
From teen sensation to Traffic, Blind Faith, session work and
solo star, it’s been a long, successful and gem-studded career.

72 Bruce Dickinson
Fencer, author, pro pilot, cancer survivor… He’s not just the
fronman with one of the world’s biggest bands, you know.

76 Tyler Bryant
How a chance meeting as an 11-year-old lead to him becoming
a shit-hot guitarist and playing with some of rock’s superstars.

80 Lou Reed
Moving to London and hooking up with Bowie, they created
the classic Transformer, the defining record of Lou’s career.

34
Fleetwood Mac
MICK FLEETWOOD: DANIEL SULLIVAN

Where did it all go wrong? Then right.


Then wrong again. Then… You really,
really couldn’t make this story up.
NOVEMBER 2017 ISSUE 242
Regulars
14 The Dirt
Classic Rock bids a heartfelt goodbye, and thank you for the
music, to Walter Becker, one half of Steely Dan… How to get
Gene Simmons to visit your house ($50,000 is all it takes)…
Welcome back H.e.a.t, Gentle Giant and Galactic Cowboys…
Say hello to Lukas Nelson and Gold Key, say goodbye as well to
Holger Czukay, Dave Hlubek, Grant Hart, Don Williams…

21 Raw Power
Gibson guitars and watchmaker Raymond Weil team up for
a timepiece that pays tribute to an icon: the Gibson Les Paul.

26 The Stories Behind


The Songs
The Cranberries
How a storming left-turn, an incendiary, furious track about
the bombings in Northern Ireland, made them massive.

28 Q&A
David Crosby
The political and outspoken former Byrd on protests, life
and death and the Pope possibly being a big fan.

32 Six Things You Need


To Know About
Kadavar
Their face fuzz gets them into trouble and their new album,
Rough Times, is a first-class trip. Meet the beardy Berlin trio.

85 Reviews
New albums from Robert Plant, Ronnie Montrose,
Motorpsycho, Europe, L.A. Guns, Walter Trout,
The Professionals, Lionize… Reissues from Whitesnake,
Emerson Lake & Palmer, The Jam, Steve Miller Band,
Grand Funk Railroad, Sex Pistols, Montrose, Nick Oliveri…
DVDs, films and books on Bruce Dickinson, The Who,
Lou Reed, Steely Dan, L7, Jeff Beck, XTC… Live reviews
of Psychedelic Furs, Voodoo Six, Band Of Horses…

102 Buyer’s Guide


Mick Ronson
He played on some of Bowie’s greatest records, but the
talents of the guitar great from Hull stretched much further.

108 Live Previews


Must-see gigs from The Doobie Brothers, Dweezil Zappa,
Redd Kross, Mount Holly and Jonny Lang. Plus full gig
listings – find out who’s playing where and when.

130 Heavy Load


Ricky Warwick
The Black Star Riders frontman on the bands he’s been in,
school, fighting, underage drinking and uncomfortable clogs.

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The making of Bad Reputation.
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ifty years. Half a century. Five


decades. It doesn’t matter how you
slice it, ultimately it’s a very, very
long period of time. As the old cliché
goes, you get less time for murder…
While many bands began their
illustrious ascendancy back in the heady
days of 1967, there aren’t that many of
them who are still very much a going concern.
But Fleetwood Mac are one such entity. And this
month we’re celebrating the 50th anniversary
of rock’s greatest, longest-running soap opera.
It’s also a first for Classic Rock, because while the
Mac have been mentioned in our pages a million
times during the magazine’s existence, it’s the first
time we’ve put the band on our cover. The Mac of
today – Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Christine
McVie, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham –
is very different to the Mac that guitarist Peter
Green put together all those years ago, and Mick
Fleetwood takes us through the early years of the
band that bears his name, starting on page 34.
That’s followed by the rest of the Mac’s long drama. Subscribe!
Elsewhere we sit down for a chinwag with Iron
Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson as he’s poised to release
his autobiography, celebrate 40 years of Thin
Lizzy’s Bad Reputation album, chat to Foo-in-Chief
Dave Grohl and so much more…

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THE COVER: FLEETWOOD MAC Visit www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk
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MAGICTORCH Editor

This month’s contributors


HENRY YATES MIKE CHIPPERFIELD DAVE EVERLEY
Henry Yates has written for Mike is one half of Brighton Blimey. We didn’t half keep
music titles including Classic design studio Magictorch ‘Diamond’ Dave Everley busy
Rock, Guitarist, Total Guitar who’ve been chipping in with this issue. Among other
and NME, and is the CR covers for years now. “I things, he unravelled the last
co-author of Walter Trout’s thoroughly enjoyed this one,” 20 years of the Fleetwood
official biography. This he says. “We were channelling Mac saga (p48), spent some
month he revisits the Tango In the Night as there’s time in church repenting his
tumultuous early history of a bit more visual inspiration sins – and hanging out with
Fleetwood Mac, and enjoys in the source material than Dan Reed (p114), interrogated
a plain-spoken encounter their other covers. I know it’s Bruce Dickinson (p72) and
with the unsinkable Chris cooler to prefer the Peter also found the time to get the
Rea. More at www.yates Green years but I’ve always lowdown on hotshot Tyler
creativecopywriting.com had a soft spot for Rumours!” Bryant (p76). Phew!
Stereo
Can also be played
on mono
equipment

SIR K 66 087
(2SRK 1987)

Germany: Z
France: WE 666

LC 2112 5150

Established 1998

Editor Art Editor Features Editor


Siân Llewellyn Darrell Mayhew Polly Glass
Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown,
Playing this month: The Dust Coda, The Dust Coda Grave Pleasures, Motherblood
Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown
Production Editor Reviews Editor Online Editor News/Live Editor
Paul Henderson Ian Fortnam Fraser Lewry Dave Ling
The Tubes, Young And Rich Ian Dury, New Boots And Panties!! Myrkur, Mareridt Sons Of Apollo, Psychotic Symphony

Contributing writers Contributing photographers


Marcel Anders, Geoff Barton, Tim Batcup, Mark Beaumont, Max Bell, Essi Berelian, Mark Blake, Simon Bradley, Ami Barwell, Adrian Boot, Dick Barnatt, Dave Brolan, Alison Clarke, Zach Cordner, Fin Costello, Henry Diltz,
Paul Brannigan, Rich Chamberlain, Stephen Dalton, Johnny Dee, Malcolm Dome, Lee Dorrian, Mark Ellen, Kevin Estrada, James Fortune, Jill Furmanovsky, Herb Greene, Bob Gruen, Michael Halsband, Ross Halfin,
Claudia Elliott, Paul Elliott, Dave Everley, Jerry Ewing, Hugh Fielder, Gary Graff, Michael Hann, John Harris, Mick Hutson, Will Ireland, Robert Knight, Marie Korner, Barry Levine, Jim Marshall, John McMurtrie,
Nick Hasted, Barney Hoskyns, Jon Hotten, Rob Hughes, Neil Jeffries, Emma Johnston, Dom Lawson, Paul Gered Mankowitz, David Montgomery, Kevin Nixon, Denis O’Regan, Barry Plummer, Ron Pownall,
Lester, Ken McIntyre, Lee Marlow, Gavin Martin, Alexander Milas, Paul Moody, Grant Moon, Kate Mossman, Neal Preston, Michael Putland, Mick Rock, Pennie Smith, Stephen Stickler, Leigh A. van der Byl, Chris Walter,
Kris Needs, Bill Nelson, Paul Rees, Chris Roberts, David Quantick, Johnny Sharp, Sleazegrinder, Terry Staunton, Mark Weiss, Barrie Wentzell, Baron Wolman, Michael Zagaris, Neil Zlozower.
David Stubbs, Everett True, Jaan Uhelszki, Mick Wall, Paddy Wells,
Philip Wilding, Henry Yates, Youth Cover image manipulation: Mike Chipperfield @ Magictorch
Thanks this issue to Louise Brock (design) and Mark Wheatley/Justin Hood (production) Cover photos: Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, Peter Green, Bob Welch, Danny Kirwan – Getty / John
McVie - Photoshot / Christine McVie, Mick Fleetwood - Alamy / Jeremy Spencer - Photofeatures
Email addresses: firstname.lastname@futurenet.com
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NEIL ZLOZOWER/ATLASICONS.COM
Iron Maiden release
a live package,
recorded on their most
Thank you recent bout of touring,
on November 17.
and good night. Produced by Tony
Newton and Maiden
bass player Steve
Grant Hart Harris, The Book Of
March 18, 1961 – September 13, 2017 Souls: Live Chapter is
available via Warner
Bob Mould has led the tributes to his Music on CD, deluxe
Hüsker Dü bandmate Grant Hart, who CD and vinyl audio
at the age of 56 has lost a battle with
liver cancer. “We made amazing music
together,” the guitarist said of the
Minnesota-based group’s former
formats, and a concert
film is available to
stream free online or
as a digital download.
Holger Czukay
drummer. “When we fought about the March 24, 1938 – September 5, 2017
details, it was because we both cared.” As this issue went to
Hart was also a member of the press, all four
alternative rock trio Nova Mob. members of Polish Holger Czukay, the bassist and After leaving Can in 1977 for a solo
death metal band a co-founder of the pioneering German career, he worked as a producer and/or
Don Williams Decapitated were band Can, has died at the age of 79. He collaborator with Brian Eno, Japan singer
May 27, 1939 – September 8, 2017 being held in custody was found by a neighbour at his David Sylvian, U2 guitarist The Edge,
in the US on charges apartment, converted from Can’s old Public Image Limited’s Jah Wobble, the
With 17 country music smash hits to his of kidnapping and studio just outside Cologne. The cause of Eurythmics and the German band Trio.
name, including You’re My Best Friend rape. They stand death had yet to be revealed as this issue He also appeared on the 1992 album The
and Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good, Don accused of assaulting went to press. Mermaid, a project that featured Peter
Williams was a colossus of the genre. a woman on their tour Gabriel and Annie Lennox.
“I never intended to become a rock or
He was as a member of the Pozo Seco bus following a show pop musician,” Czukay said back in Czukay became a pioneer of sampling
Singers before hitting the solo trail in in Spokane, 1994. “What I wanted to become was before the term was even invented, using
1971. The Texan singer-songwriter had Washington. They a creative person.” random snippets of sound recorded
been suffering from emphysema. He plan to contest all of Having studied under acclaimed but from short-wave radios and pasting them
was 78 years old. the allegations controversial composer Karlheinz into recordings.
brought against them. Stockhausen in the 1960s, and Back in April, under the name The Can
Murray Lerner subsequently working briefly as a music Project, a variation of the group’s line-up
May 8, 1927 – September 2, 2017 Singer Mitchel Emms that included Can’s ever-present keyboard
teacher, Czukay performed on nine of
A filmmaker who captured some of the has left The Can’s albums as well as engineering them. player Irmin Schmidt and American
most iconic moments in rock history, Treatment to pursue Alongside Tangerine Dream, Neu! and vocalist and early Can member Malcolm
Murray Lerner has died of kidney other ventures. The Faust, Can were front-runners of the Mooney reconvened without Czukay to
failure, at the age of 90. His film Festival split is completely following decade’s krautrock scene, perform with the London Symphony
showed Bob Dylan playing amplified amicable. Currently mixing ambient and electronic music Orchestra and Sonic Youth guitarist
writing a follow-up to with rock and avant garde. Thurston Moore. DL
rock for the first time, and Message To
their third album, last
Love was a warts-‘n’-all depiction of the year’s Generation Me,

Dave Hlubek
1970s Isle of Wight Festival. the Cambridge band
are looking for
Jason Corsaro a replacement with
July 27, 1959 – August 16, 2017
“a great voice, a killer
New Yorker Jason Corsaro, a mixer, attitude and a passion August 28, 1951 – September 3, 2017
engineer and producer who worked for rock‘n’roll”.
with artists including the Rolling
Stones, the Power Station, Duran Dave Hlubek, Ingram went on to
Duran, The Cars, Paul Simon, a co-founding guitarist take over the running
Soundgarden and Chic, has died of of southern rock band of Molly Hatchet,
stomach cancer, at the age of 58. Molly Hatchet, has died something that Hlubek
at the age of 66, found hard to stomach.
Will Youatt reportedly having In 2005, while he was a
Died 13 September, 2017 suffered a heart attack. member of Skinny
Born in Jacksonville, Molly, he told Classic
Best known for a spell with Welsh Florida, Hlubek also Rock: “The name once
rockers Man, Swansea-born bassist sang lead vocals for really meant
and singer Michael ‘Will’ Youatt also Molly Hatchet in the something, until
played with the King Bees, Pete A new bookazine, group’s early days somebody [Ingram] got
Brown’s Piblokto, Quicksand and Deke titled 100 Greatest before the addition of a hold of it by a clerical
Leonard’s Iceberg, among others. He Rock Albums Of All Danny Joe Brown in error. I hear these days
was 67 years old. Time (pictured) is set 1974. He was part of they do good shows and
to reveal the best-ever the six-man line-up bad ones, but all things
Jane Train rock releases, as voted who recorded the come to an end and,
Died August 23, 2017 for by the readers of group’s genre-classic believe me, there’s
Classic Rock. It’s on self-titled debut, a finale on the way.”
Adrenaline Mob’s tour manager has sale on October 28, released in 1978, on which the guitar However, later that same year Hlubek
become the second victim of the car priced £9.99. playing was split with Duane Roland and rejoined Molly Hatchet, and continued to
crash that killed the group’s bassist Steve Holland. Hlubek remained with the play with them while his health allowed.
David Z. Forty-eight-year-old Jane Train Bob Seger says he is band for a further five albums before “Dave will be missed but never
(her real name), passed away following releasing a new studio being replaced by Bobby Ingram due to forgotten, as the music lives on through
the injuries she suffered in the crash. his legacy in Molly Hatchet,” said
GETTY x2

album in November. self-confessed “unbearable” levels of rock-


The 72-year-old star excess and substance abuse. a statement from the current band. DL
singer’s last release
was Ride Out in 2014.
Walter Becker
February 20, 1950 – September 03, 2017

Walter Becker, the bassist, guitarist and co-founder of that drew from many other areas to produce something
Steely Dan, has passed away due to as yet undisclosed causes. unique. Featuring the talents of almost 40 players including
The 67-year-old was due to appear with Steely Dan at the Michael McDonald on backing vocals, 1977s Aja, their first
upcoming BluesFest shows in the UK and Ireland. According platinum-selling record, is widely considered a watermark for
to his Steely Dan partner Donald Fagen, Becker had been both the band and for the genre of jazz rock.
“recovering from a procedure” of an unspecified nature. As über-perfectionists, both themselves and the poor sods
Back in the summer, having been advised by that they hired, touring was largely undertaken
doctors not to leave his Maui home, Becker sat out under sufferance. Quick witted and dry as the
the band’s concerts in New York and Los Angeles,
THE STARS
where he was deputised by Larry Calton, the noted
PAY TRIBUTE Sahara, together Becker and Fagen struck fear
into interviewers, especially when grilled in
session guitarist who appeared on Steely Dan’s Walter was a musical union. When Classic Rock spoke to them during
1980 album, Gaucho, among others. icon and wonderful the promotion of their comeback disc Two
guy. My condolences
Soon after the loss of his colleague, Fagen said in to his family and Against Nature, writer Philip Wilding began – not
a statement: “I intend to keep the music we created to Donald. unreasonably – by asking why they had felt it
together alive as long as I can with the Steely Dan Larry Carlton necessary to take a 20-year break.
band”, confirming their spot at BluesFest, though He was a gifted “I exploded sometime around 1980, I think,
as this issue of Classic Rock went to press Donald musician/composer, but they put all the pieces back together again,”
also cancelled the remainder of a tour with his a poet of real wit and responded Becker, known to have had a drug
intellect. Always
other band, the Nightflyers, due to illness. insightful, brutally period during the time-frame concerned. “We
Becker and Fagen met in 1967 while studying at honest at times also didn’t really fall out or anything, I think we were
Bard College in New York. Together the pair forged usually hysterically just sick of each other. We’d been in the studio for
funny. We were all
an instant writing connection. Fagen recalls: lucky to know him. twelve years, throughout the 1970s, and twelve
“We liked a lot of the same things: jazz (from the Michael years is a long time for any decade.”
1920s through the mid-60s), WC Fields, the Marx McDonald In his story, Wilding would describe Becker
Brothers, science fiction, Nabokov, Kurt Vonnegut, Steely Dan music (“the one with the glasses”) and Fagen (“the one
Thomas Berger, and Robert Altman films come to touched me deeply. with the permanent scowl”) as “achingly droll
mind. Also soul music and Chicago blues.” Steve Lukather, – exasperating so at times”, while they in turn
“They never came out of their room, they Toto taunted him for the way he spoke. “Is this a bad line
stayed up all night,” adds Terence Boylan, another Steely Dan took rock or have you got a thick accent?” demanded Becker.
musician based at Bard. “They looked like ghosts probably the closest to “You’re Welsh? So it is your accent. Well, there’s
– black turtlenecks, and skin so white that it pure jazz it has ever nothing we can do about that, at this point…”
been. Their style was
looked like yogurt. Absolutely no activity, chain- innovative and truly In rather more serious tones while talking to the
smoking Lucky Strikes and dope.” inimitable. Walter Independent newspaper, Becker said of the break-
Four years later the pair followed an associate defined a guitar style up: “We had pursued an idea beyond the point
that was all his own.
called Gary Katz who had become a staff producer Sad to see him go. where it was practical. That album [Gaucho] took
for ABC Records, relocating to California to Brian May, Queen about two years, and we were working on it all of
become staff writers for the label, where they that time. It was a very painful process.”
Steely Dan was
formed the nucleus of a revolving group of a one-of-a-kind group. In the wake of Two Against Nature, which won
musicians known as Steely Dan, named after The world is forever four Grammy Awards including Album Of The
an oversized, steam-powered strap-on vibrator grateful for their music. Year, Steely Dan would make one further studio
Warren Haynes,
they’d read about in Naked Lunch, a novel by Gov’t Mule album, Everything Must Go, and tour whenever they
William S. Burroughs. felt in the mood or necessity called – which wasn’t
Having abandoned the notion of forming an A unique artist in often. It’s unknown whether Fagen will continue
a world of imitators.
actual band that at first included guitarists Jeff Michael Des to make records under the Steely Dan umbrella
‘Skunk’ Baxter and Denny Dias, drummer Jim Barres without his partner, though we suspect not.
Hodder and vocalist David Palmer, over the next Neither do we know whether Carlton will appear
What brilliant music he
decade Becker and Fagen drew in the cream of the and Donald created with Fagen at the BluesFest dates.
musicians’ world to create their Steely Dan albums together. What a gift When Becker and Fagen were inducted into the
– often esoteric in nature but smooth as silk, and to the world. Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2001 they spurned
David Longdon,
pieced together in the studio with levels of care and Big Big Train the traditional acceptance speech to thank all of
scrutiny that separated the men from the boys. the musicians that they’d worked with (“It’s a very
Says Fagen: “Walter had a very rough childhood I’m truly sad that long list”) and to take questions from the celebrity-
I never got to meet one
– I’ll spare you the details. Luckily, he was smart of my all-time favourite filled audience, before Becker demanded of the
as a whip, an excellent guitarist and a great mentors. gathering: “Who was the original drummer in the
songwriter. He was cynical about human nature, Julian Lennon Mothers Of Invention? After all, this is the Rock
including his own, and hysterically funny. Like And Roll Hall Of Fame; some of you must know
a lot of kids from fractured families, he had the knack of this information.”
creative mimicry, reading people’s hidden psychology and Yes, Walter Becker was cranky. Besides that cantankerous
transforming what he saw into bubbly, incisive art.” disposition he demanded that musicians push themselves
From Can’t Buy A Thrill in 1972 to the aforementioned Gaucho, to the very limits, but the results of his lifetime’s work – not
Steely Dan ruled the FM Radio airwaves, seducing their to mention sales of around 40 million copies – speak for
listeners with an erudite, often darkly humoured style of rock themselves. He will be very much missed. DL

This month The Dirt was compiled by Lee Dorrian, Dave Everley, Ian Fortnam, Paul Henderson, Jamie Hibbard, Rob Hughes, Dave Ling, Will Simpson
Gene Simmons
with his new box
set, The Vault.
The shooting of
a documentary film
about Lynyrd Skynyrd
has been halted due
to a row over the
involvement of
a former member of
the band. Skynyrd’s
current guitarist Gary
Rossington and
representatives of
former members
Ronnie Van Zandt and
Steve Gaines, who
both perished in the
1977 accident, have
sued Cleopatra
Get a home Entertainment, the
makers of Street
visit from Survivor: The True Story

Gene Simmons!
For $50,000 he’ll hand-deliver
Of The Lynyrd Skynyrd
Plane Crash, for hiring
the band’s former
Galactic Cowboys
drummer Artimus Pyle
as the story’s writer.
The metal-with-a pop-centre band return – and this time
his new box set to your door.
they’ll be careful not to be seen as "King’s X's little brother”.
Mick Fleetwood
Gene Simmons celebrates 50 years in believes that
music with a limited-edition boxed set Fleetwood Mac’s Galactic Cowboys sit near the top You were closely associated with
featuring 150 never-before-released tracks. 2018 tour won’t be of the league table of Great Lost Bands Of King’s X. Too closely, maybe?
What’s more, for a mere $50,000 (£37,000) their swansong. “In The 90s. Like a heavier version of fellow Those guys were our friends, they were
the Kiss bassist/vocalist is offering to travel my mind it isn’t [the Texans King’s X, the Houston four-piece great for us, but it was tough being King’s
to your home, deliver the package and even final tour], and pitched themselves as Metallica-meets- X’s little brother. It did stifle us a little bit.
hang around for a couple of hours to chat. everyone in the band The Beatles, welding the heavy-duty I don’t regret it, but I just wish we’d done
Why would anyone spend more than has decided that it’s riffing of the former to the latter’s more with other people as well.
most people earn in a year for that? We’ll let not,” he tells Rolling anything-goes approach. Seventeen years
Gene’s biggest fan – himself – answer that. Stone of the upcoming after they split up, the Cowboys have The Cowboys had a unique sound. Did
“The Vault is the largest box set of all time; 18-month world tour. returned with a new album, Long Way Back audiences get what you were doing
it’s almost three feet tall and it weighs forty To The Moon. Vocalist Ben Huggins back then?
pounds, and it spans a lifetime, from my very explains how they achieved lift-off again. It confused some people. We did our
first song, My Uncle Is A Raft, which was first real tour supporting Overkill, who
recorded in 1966, right up to 2016,” he tells Whose idea was it to were just balls-to-the-
us. “It has songs I wrote with Bob Dylan, and get back together? wall thrash metal.
three more featuring Edward and Alex Van Bill Evans, who is We went on and did
Halen; Joe Perry from Aerosmith is on there. acting as our rep for “I got dragged our thing with an
All of the Kiss guys, too. This thing has taken [new label] Mascot, acoustic guitar and
eight years to collate. called Monty [Colvin, into the pit by my a harmonica, and
“Let me be blunt. Thanks to my fans, I’m bass] three years ago, people were just
rich,” he continues, “and I’m so proud of The asking if we had any hair, but I carried getting angry. I got
Vault that at my own personal cost I will fly The 50-year career of interest in getting dragged into the pit
around the world and hand-deliver it. I’ll David Bowie back together. Monty on playing.” by my hair at a club
even pet your dog, too.” (pictured) recently said: “Let me make in Pittsburgh. I had to
The Vault is available in various editions, reached a major some calls.” I was like: “Yes, I’ll do it.” fight my way out and back on stage, but
so if the thought of a home visit from Gene milestone with the late I gotta tell you, I have missed Galactic I carried on playing. It was like I had been
is too terrifying there are also other ways of singer’s one billionth Cowboys for a long time. I was the last baptised by the crowd: “Okay, they didn’t
receiving it, details of which you can find at stream on Spotify. one holding on back then. I didn’t want kill me and now they’re getting into it.”
www.genesimmonsvault.com Bowie’s Top 10 most the band to end.
After years of acrimony, Simmons streamed tracks are: Individually you’re all Christians, but
recently renewed his friendship with former Heroes, Let’s Dance, Why did you split up? you never pushed Galactic Cowboys
Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley when the two of Space Oddity, Life On Offers for tours were drying up, we had as a Christian band. Why not?
them sat down to write two songs together. Mars, Starman, Rebel our budget for the last album [2000’s Let It I’m not a minister, I’m not a preacher, I’m
Now it seems likely they will share a stage Rebel, Moonage Go] cut, people were starting to grumble. not an evangelist. I’m a singer in a rock
together, as part of a benefit concert in Daydream, Changes, It was a spiralling thing. band. If you hire a Christian plumber, do
support of victims of Hurricane Harvey, Ziggy Stardust and, you ask him to do a sermon before he
held in St Paul, Minnesota on September 20. perhaps surprisingly, You were originally signed to Geffen, clears your drain?
“People have lost their homes and need Modern Love. the same label as Nirvana, and your
a lot of help, and the show is already sold debut album came out a month before Do you wonder if the world needs
out,” says Simmons. “Don Felder, The Jim Lea, the former Nevermind. Did that help or hinder a new Galactic Cowboys album?
Jayhawks and Cheap Trick will all perform, Slade bassist, makes your band? The world didn’t need the first six or
with the Gene Simmons Band as headliners. a personal appearance I can give you a quote from Gary Gersh, seven! We did it because we wanted to do
I suspect Ace will try to jump up on stage, at the Robin 2 in who signed us. They were stoked about it. There’s something about creating this
and we will play together again.” Bilston on November us, we were having constant thing that’s totally your own, with your
Now that Frehley’s demons are vanquished, 5 for the first official conversations with the label. And then patented sound, that’s totally fulfilling.
is it possible he could re-join Kiss? showing of a DVD when Nirvana took off it was like [makes Yeah, there’s some selfishness there, but
“We tried three times, that’s enough,” filmed at the same shutting-down sound] – nothing. They I don’t care. DE
Simmons replies. “Ace will always be venue in 2002, titled put out one more album and then they
a member of the family, but it’s time to let For One Night Only. lost interest in us: “Yeah, you’re gonna Long Way Back To The Moon is released
it be.” DL Proceeds will go have to leave now.” on November 17 via Mascot.
to Cancer Research
18 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM UK and Dementia UK.
“I’m always so confused when people say that
my songs sound so different from each other.
To me it just sounds like rock’n’roll.”

Lukas Nelson
& Promise Of The Real
A famous dad and Neil Young’s seal of approval Back in the day, when I was trying to get a record deal, the labels would tell
me that it was too varied. But it all seemed cohesive to me.”
help, but this band show lots of real promise. The new album features a diverse range of guests, from members of
Brooklyn quartet Lucius to Lady Gaga, Willie Nelson himself and, on piano,
“For a long time I wanted to be an Olympic swimmer,” says Lukas Nelson. Lukas’s Aunt Bobbie, now in her 80s. It’s the sextet’s fifth studio album, but
“I was really into skateboarding and surfing too, but then music took over.” feels very much like a landmark. “I’ve got some new members in the band
For all his early ambitions, there was a certain inevitability about the and they’ve added a lot of space,” Lukas says. “And we’ve built it up a little
career path he would eventually take. Lukas is the son of country legend more, with a bigger sound. It’s a step up, for sure.”
Willie Nelson, and for the past nine years has been fronting his This new-found authority is partly down to their recent
own band, Promise Of The Real. “Learning to play guitar and FOR FANS OF... collaboration with one of their heroes. In 2015, having been
writing songs is how I got close to my dad,” says Lukas, whose impressed by their performance at Farm Aid, Neil Young
first musical memory is being on stage with The Highwaymen, enlisted Promise Of The Real to back him on The Monsanto Years.
the country supergroup formed by his father, Johnny Cash, Merle Immediately afterwards, they became his touring band.
Haggard and Kris Kristofferson. “I feel that the communication “Sometimes you play golf with somebody who’s much better
between us is a big part of why I play music.” than you are and you start to get this surge of confidence and
Taking their name from a lyric in Neil Young’s 1974 tune Walk play better,” says Nelson. “That’s what it was like with Neil.
On, Promise Of The Real hit the sweet spot between country, “Neil Young has There’s a mutual respect there, and we’ve learned so much just
released so many
southern blues and classic rock’n’roll. Latest album Lukas Nelson records that have from the way he keeps a constant focus on his music and his art.”
& Promise Of The Real stirs memories of The Band, Leon Russell, influenced me, but I also Nelson also reveals that there’s a new Young/POTR album
Delaney & Bonnie and Glen Campbell. Plus, naturally, Neil Young. love Harry Nilsson,” on the way soon. “It’s a studio record, and the songs are so
“When it comes to the guys I grew up listening to – Neil, The says Lukas Nelson. positive,” he says. “There’s a lot of love in there, it’s uplifting
“I think he’s one of the
Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan – no two songs sound greatest singers in the and it’s quite a departure from The Monsanto Years. I think it’s
the same on their records,” he explains of his modus operandi. whole of rock’n’roll. He going to blow people’s minds.” RH
“I’m always so confused when people say that my songs sound did an amazing version
of The Beatles’ Mother
so different from each other. To me it just sounds like rock’n’roll. Nature’s Son on Harry Lukas Nelson & Promise Of The Real is out now via Fantasy.
[1969], and his style
of production is just
so beautiful too.” CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 19
Led Zeppelin’s record
label, Warner Music
Group, are said to be
planning a “series of
high-profile events”
in 2018 to celebrate
the band’s 50th
anniversary, one of
which is the erection
of a statue of John
Bonham in his
home town during
the year of what
would have been
the late drummer’s
70th birthday.
Riches from the Steven Wilson has
rock underground added a third night at
London’s Royal Albert

MORLY GREY
Hall, on March 29.

Roger Waters will


H.e.a.t
The Only Truth, 1972, Starshine, USA.
bring his Us + Them
tour to Europe in 2018.
The Swedish band return with a fifth album and a new
£700+ The former Pink Floyd sound that has so far provoked some fiery reactions...
man has already
Responsible for one announced six dates
of the better locally in Germany and early on h.e.a.t were fêted as melodic Society or Eye Of The Storm.
released US heavy- Austria for next May rock’s great white hopes. Serving to Yeah it would, but the way we look at
psych LPs of the and June and is set enhance the extremes of the band’s sound, things, nobody remembers a coward.
early 70s, Morly to announce shows the addition of Swedish Idol winner Erik
Grey formed in in several other Grönwall changed all that. As the On the Facebook page you’ve almost
Alliance, Ohio by territories, including Stockholm-based quintet release their fifth stoked those fires. It’s like you’re
brothers Tim Roller the UK. album, Into The Great Unknown, Grönwall enjoying the controversy.
(guitars) and Mark reveals why they are unfazed by the internet Well, in a way we do. One of the things that
Roller (bass, lead vocals). Initially a four- Bassist Paul Gray is shitstorm caused by its poppier sound. I like most about social media is that the
piece, they released a single on their own back in The Damned fans can speak their mind, and we get to
label in 1969, before stripping down to a as successor to the H.e.a.t disappeared for two years to answer them directly.
power trio, with two different drummers long-serving Stu West. make this album, which was a big risk
on each side. Limited to 1,000 copies, it The band are currently considering the way the band’s career What about the fan who said: “It’s
has rightly become a sought-after rarity. in New York with was taking off – even a shit song, but
Opening with Peace Officer, you’re given producer Tony in the UK. I still love H.e.at.
a good indication of what the rest of the Visconti, working on It was a scary decision Hopefully this will
album has to offer; essentially heavy but their eleventh album. but we needed some “I’ve nothing be your Kiss Dynasty
not all-out bludgeon, featuring West perspective. Had we moment”?
Coast vibes morphing into folk-rock and just made the record in against AOR, I’d I saw that [laughs]. But
progressive blues, with a vast array of between touring, [the we’re really not
acid guitar motifs. There appears to be music] wouldn’t have rather people think offended. I believe that
matured anywhere when people hear the
an element of Christianity in their general
near the way it did.
we play rock’n’roll.” whole album they’ll
message, though it’s hard to ascertain.
But it’s the 17 minute title-track, The Only understand.
Truth, which is the standout here. It Its first single, Time On Our Side, has
really set the cat among the pigeons. Circa the previous album, you said to
One fan dismissed it as “disco-synth”. Classic Rock that next time around:
‘Limited to 1,000 Is that a fair description? “We want to make the sound even
Mike Patton [Laughing] Yeah, absolutely. And we totally broader; the pop bits poppier and the
copies, it has rightly [pictured] says that expected those strong reactions but we’ve heavy bits even more colossal.”
become sought-after.’ Faith No More have
no immediate plans
always written the songs that we feel are
right for H.e.a.t. We also write according to
That’s exactly what we’ve done. We knew
the band had to change; that’s inevitable.
to work again. The our influences and those have changed a bit.
features some truly in your face hard-rock singer told a radio It took me ten spins to understand this H.e.a.t have been hailed as the
action, with atmospheric moves and interviewer: “We’re album, so for fans it will take even longer. figureheads of a genre that some felt
mesmerising guitar dream sequences. kind of on an extended was on its last legs. Is that why you
Not long after this release, Morly Grey break, and if Can you swear that making this had to get out?
changed their name to The Roller Bros something happens record was about pure artistic If you were to psychoanalyse me, that
band, releasing a more commercial again then it’ll happen growth, or were managers and label might have something to do with it but I
sounding album the next year. organically and staff saying the band should break have nothing against AOR, I’d rather
The brothers continued to play locally naturally, but I kind of into a new, younger market? people think that we play rock’n’roll.
up until recent times, recording another don’t think it will.” It was nothing like that. It turned out the
Morly Grey album during the mid-90s, way it did because we spent some time apart How did the down-time affect your
yet to see the light of day. Don’t hold your breath and got into other types of music. For dreams of rock stardom?
The Only Truth is a very accomplished for a new solo album instance, Jimmy [Jay, bassist] has got into We are hungrier than ever and cannot
musical work, which should have had a from Ozzy Osbourne bands like Muse and Imagine Dragons. wait to begin touring again. This band is
H.E.A.T: KLARA FOWLER

bigger audience. A proclamation on the – it could be a long even more dedicated than ever. DL
back sleeve states: “This record was wait. “I would like to It would have been more sensible to
specifically recorded to be played at do another record, but return with a traditionally Into The Great Unknown is out now via
a high volume”. Amen to that. LD it’s wasting money,” H.e.a.t-sounding song like Bastard Of earMUSIC.
says the singer.
20 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM “Nobody’s buying.”
Time To Celebrate
Swiss watchmakers pay tribute to an iconic American guitar.

When legendary guitar makers has a circular guilloché motif featuring


Gibson and acclaimed Swiss watchmakers six chords studded by fret-shaped hour
Raymond Weil get together to celebrate markers. At 12 o’clock are the names of
arguably the most iconic guitar that has the famous guitar manufacturer and the GETTY
ever been produced, you know instinctively legendary Les Paul signature, and a split-
that the result is not going to be something
akin to what you might get when Gene
diamond inlay – a distinctive feature of the
Les Paul Custom guitar – sits next to the
LES LEGEND
The Les Paul has gone way beyond being just
Simmons comes up with yet another date window. All of which is attached to a guitar.
‘memorabilia’ idea, or a wristwatch with your wrist by an ebony calf leather strap.
If you’re going to celebrate a guitar, then
a cute picture of Mickey Mouse that you Mention the word ‘battery’ in such the Gibson Les Paul
is going to be top of most people’s lists
might find in a Disney shop. esteemed company and you’ll get raised for the honour.
Invented/developed by the guitarist and
With the Freelancer, Ramond Weil pay eyebrows and a sharp intake of breath. This inventor whose
model name it bears, and launched by
their respects to a legend with a wristwatch watch has a self-winding movement that Gibson in 1952, it
went on to be restyled in many different
variations (Standard,
that is “elegant, with a touch of rebellion, ensures an approximately 46-hour power Custom, Junior, Studio, Special) and was/
is used by the
and embodies its free spirit”. That’s what reserve for all but the most sloth-like wearer. majority of the greatest rock guitarists
ever to strike a power
they say. What we say is that they’ve come This collector’s model is issued in a 300- chord. When it was first teamed with a
Marshall amp in the
up with a stunning timepiece that we agree piece limited numbered edition, and comes late 60s, notably by Eric Clapton, the soun
d – which most
people first heard on John Mayall’s 1966
is elegant, and is also striking, beautiful and, in an exclusive presentation box inspired by album Bluesbreakers
With Eric Clapton (aka The Beano) album
to use a phrase that this column is quite the famous Gibson guitar cases. – almost overnight
became the Holy Grail for rock guitarists.
fond of, reassuringly expensive. If we could afford it, we’d have one – on Clapton, Paul Kossoff (pictured), Slash, Joe
Bonamassa, Peter
The body of the 43.5 mm case is made of each hand! Green, Jeff Beck, Duane Allman, Randy
Rhoads, Gary Moore
steel and its tachymeter bezel is enhanced £2,895, from Raymond-weil.com and Billy Gibbons are just a few of the legion
of guitar legends
with black PVD inspired by the lacquer on whose main guitar was or is the now truly
iconic Les Paul.
the Gibson Black Beauty guitar. The board Paul Henderson
CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 21
Yes, who play a 50th
anniversary tour next
year, have cancelled
the remaining dates
on their North
American Yestival tour
following the
unexpected death of
Virgil Howe, the son of
guitarist Steve Howe.

The Amorettes play


a special charity
concert at The
Tolbooth in Stirling on
November 3, in aid of
the Strathcarron
Hospice. On their only
headlining show of
2017, support comes
from Edinburgh’s
The Rising Souls. Gentle Giant
According to Ian
Gillan, Ritchie
The prog band from yesteryear have had tracks remixed
Blackmore will not be by Steven Wilson and there could be more on the way.
returning to Deep
Purple in any capacity
– including a one-off Formed from the ashes of psych-pop How close did Elton John, who played
show, an idea mooted hitmakers Simon Dupree And The Big keyboards for Simon Dupree, come to
by The Man In Black Sound in 1970, Gentle Giant were the joining Gentle Giant?
himself. Despite quintessential prog band, fusing soul, jazz, He was serious about it. We’d told him that
stating “there’s no rock and classical music into a complex we were going to dissolve Simon Dupree
great animosity any whole. Lack of commercial success failed and do something new. He said he’d like to
more”, the singer to deter them, with the band surviving for be a part of it, even though he was trying
comments: “Ian Paice a decade before splitting up. Major fan something on his own. In fact, myself and
puts it best: why Steven Wilson has now remixed selected Ray [Shulman] went up to Watford with
This month, @jamiehibbard is would I go back to tracks for the sumptuous Three Piece Suite. him, just as he met Bernie [Taupin] for the
elegantly wasted in these three that misery again?” Founder member and lead vocalist Derek first time. So he wasn’t begging for a job,
sartorial stand-outs. Shulman, one of three brothers in Gentle but he was auditioning, for sure.
As this issue went to Giant, explains all…
Red Wing X Eat Dust Pecos press Evanescence How did the band
cowboy boot announced a series of How did Three Piece function with three
When two uber-cool labels decide to orchestral shows. Suite come about? brothers?
get together, it always piques our They play London Steven’s worked on “Elton John It was archetypal sibling
interest at SDM. But when those two Royal Festival Hall our stuff before and rivalry. Phil and I used
labels are the purveyors of great March 30/31, suggested doing songs said he’d like to to be at each other’s
boots, Red Wing, and Dutch denim Manchester Apollo from the first three throats with Ray as
house Eat Dust, we lose our mind a April 2, Nottingham albums. Going back be a part of peacemaker. The other
Arena 3, Glasgow into the vaults members used to hide.
little bit more! Here they’ve come
together to produce ED’s favourite Armadillo 5 and brought back the Gentle Giant.” We toured extensively
silhouette, the Pecos cowboy boot, Sheffield City Hall 6. magic of that period. with Jethro Tull and Ian
available only in red and in the UK The US band’s fourth We were growing up as musicians at a Anderson remembers going into our
only at the London Red Wing store. album, Synthesis, is out time when it felt like everything was dressing room after one show and walking
£315, @RedWingHeritage on November 10. possible. back out immediately, because we were
Red Wing Store, London. having such a loud argument about who’d
Gentle Giant once stated that you played a bum note. He thought we were
deliberately avoided being going to start throwing chairs at each other.
Needles Rebuild 7 Cut Rock tee
commercial…
Ok stick with us on this one… Needles
That was actually a quote by my brother Anything else on the horizon?
are an eccentric Japanese label who Phil, who’s always been full of satire, We’re looking at remixing Free Hand [1975],
take seven different fabrics to create cynicism and irony. Yet there was also with a couple of out-takes. And there’s
a unique rock band shirt – no two are a millstone around our necks because we’d a 20-album box set of live shows coming
the same. Bands covered are some of had a big pop hit as Simon Dupree [1967’s next year. The albums were sketches for the
Needles’ favourites, such as the Kites]. And we were bagged as a prog band. live gigs, which offered something
Rolling Stones, AC/DC and Slipknot. In truth, we wanted to have as many fans completely different to the studio songs.
£115 @EndClothing The 50th anniversary as we could.
EndClothing.com of Ten Years After Will Gentle Giant ever reunite?
(pictured) is being How important was producer Tony No. Trying to recreate something we did
Penfield Thurman bomber jacket commemorated with Visconti in your early days? decades ago wouldn’t make sense to any of
Well that summer didn’t come to a 10-CD boxed set, Tony was incredible on the first couple of us. You can’t rewrite history and one thing
much in the end, did it? What you released on November albums. He was a teacher too. We didn’t I’d never want to be is a parody of myself.
need now is a good, go anywhere, do 10 via Chrysalis. have any money to stay in London while The band was never about cash or a quick
anything jacket. You can’t go wrong Limited to 1,500 we were recording, so he allowed us to killing. Being paupers and enjoying our
with a bomber, and this is just that. copies, The Albums sleep on his floor in Putney. It was music was much better for us. RH
£115 @PenfieldUSA 1967-1974 brings fascinating being around him at the same
Penfield.com together the group’s time that he was working with people like Three Piece Suite is out now via Soulfood
first nine records plus Bowie and T.Rex. and is reviewed on page 93.
a disc of previously
22 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM unreleased material.
“We made a conscious
decision not to look at what
our contemporaries in punk

Gold Key and hardcore were doing.”

Say what you want about these Floyd-loving Apart from keeping his punk cred intact, an extra issue for Sears has
come from stepping out from behind the mixing desk and getting in front
punk/metalheads, just don’t use the word ‘prog’. of the mic. “That hasn’t affected mine and Lags’s relationship, cos we know
how each other works,” he points out. “It’s more of a ball-ache for me. I’m
Even if you don’t know about Gold Key themselves yet, you might be now involved in every different part of the process! For a control freak, it
aware of some of the members’ ‘day job’ bands: guitarist Laurent ‘Lags’ sounds like a dream, but you lose vision, and it’s really hard to hold on to
Barnard is the driving force behind hardcore punks Gallows, whom vocalist that initial feeling if you’re recording it, mixing it, mastering it, writing it,
Steve Sears also produces, while bassist Jack Leach arrives via extreme demoing it and singing it.”
math-metallers Sikth. Recording the album was quick. “We’d do a song a day – we
So for this heavily tattooed assemblage to record Hello Phantom, FOR FANS OF... would just work it out until we were happy with it,” Sears says.
an album of intriguing yet ultimately accessible melodious rock – More problematic have been preconceptions. The band were
with audible traces of time spent listening to Pink Floyd, QOTSA, so apprehensive about being prejudged that they made their live
Muse, even Radiohead – you’d think it represents something of debut at a festival in Tenerife, of all places.
a left turn. Not so, apparently. “In the end that was an incredible experience, not least because
“I’ve always been into making music that keeps you on your it almost didn’t happen. A tropical storm was forecast that would
toes, so it’s not really a change,” Sears insists. “I’m not interested in have rained the whole thing off. So we all got really drunk, only to
churning out the same records. Gallows could have made the last “We all totally love be told that the storm has passed and the gig was back on. By that
The Dark Side Of The
two albums just like people wanted them to sound, but they’ve Moon,” says Sears. point we were definitely more than half-cut. But maybe that was
never been into doing that. We’ve always wanted to push ourselves. “David Gilmour has one why it was such a good gig.”
“So with Gold Key we made a conscious decision not to look at of the most iconic guitar ‘Drink more and worry less’ would appear to the lesson to be
what our contemporaries in punk and hardcore were doing. Yeah, sounds. His use of space drawn there. “We’ll just have to see if the fans of our other bands
and atmosphere and
there are definitely some influences, like Pink Floyd. We’ve got the effects and delays embrace it,” Sears concludes. “I just hope that people think it’s
acoustic songs that sound like Steely Dan, and people have thrown that he uses on that different and give it a chance.” WS
album, that’s a hundred
DEREK BREMNER

the ‘prog’ word around quite a lot. For me that’s tough, because
per cent an influence.
from my background I still think of it as a bit of a dirty word.” My dad’s favourite Hello Phantom is out on October 27 via Venn Records.
band was Pink Floyd,
so I guess it seeped into
my brain somehow.” CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 23
Heavy Rotation What we’ve been listening to this month

1 Collide
Black Country Communion
Back in business again, this ‘supergroup’ have never sounded more cohesive. One
of her voice. There’s drama and empathy, as Seviour
opens up her soul here in a way she has never has before.

of the cornerstone songs on the album BCCIV, it sees Glenn Hughes’s vocals neatly
complementing Joe Bonamassa’s powerful guitar work. Or is it the other way round?
Whatever, there’s an unmistakable charisma that makes it a stand-out celebration.
10 Going, Going, Gone
The Professionals
Punctuating an immense and relentless high-calibre rhythmic assault with tooth-
loosening, punchy solos, this is exactly what you’d expect of any track featuring

2 She’s Got To Be Somewhere


David Crosby
Seventy-six-year old David Crosby’s career renaissance continues apace with his
Steve Jones, Paul Cook and Billy Duffy. Going, Going, Gone – a paean to the joys of
the nicked guitar – finds Cookie’s reborn Professionals in blinding form.

third post-CSN album release. This track, Sky Trails’ smooth-as-silk opener, marries
the effortless slickness of Steely Dan with the punchy brass of Chicago, as Crosby’s
characteristically ageless vocal chills your spiritual chardonnay while oozing class.
11 Tin Foil Hat
Todd Rundgren feat. Donald Fagen
A recommendation from David Crosby, who promises you’ll “laugh like a fool”,
Tin Foil Hat finds the venerable Rundgren taking a beautifully observed pop at

3 Stand By My Girl
Dan Auerbach
Black Keys man (and collaborator with many) Dan Auerbach has a new solo album,
a mystery figure with ‘tiny little hands’ who’s apparently ‘tweeting like a teenage
girl’, whoever that could be. Controversial, yet candy-coated by Steely Dan man
Fagen’s trademark honeyed vocal tones.
Waiting On A Song, from which this super-catchy ode to a murderous housewife is
taken (hop on to YouTube to check out the video. It’s a hoot). Think southern soul
with slick pop-rock sensibilities. 12 Sacred Horse Enslaved
Once the masters of the Norwegian extreme metal scene, Enslaved have moved

4 Bondurant Women
The Texas Gentlemen
Lush piece of 70s-ish southern goodness (plus added seaside-friendly warmth)
increasingly towards a more progressive sound over the past several years. This
track, from the album E, continues the journey. Intricate, envelopingly atmospheric
yet still with an edge, here’s Enslaved capturing a momentous spirit.
from a bunch of guys who originally got together as a backing band for singer-
songwriters, including Leon Bridges, Nikki Lane, Shakey Graves and many others.
Ones to watch out for. 13 Powderfinger
Neil Young
Recorded at Malibu’s Indigo Studios in intimate surroundings – Young

5 Nomad Death From Above


Toronto’s one-time ‘79 duo Death From Above weigh into their Outrage! Is Now
accompanying himself on acoustic guitar – and intended for ‘76 release,
Powderfinger boasts a raw, untrammelled power beyond the reach of electricity.
Ultimately shelved, it was ear-marked for Ronnie-era Skynyrd until fate intervened.
third album with this raging statement-of-intent riff monster that bulldozes from one
crescendo to the next. Part-firestorm, part maelstrom, some say it’s punk, but it’s got
Tony Iommi written through it like a stick of Brummie rock. 14 Fast & Frightening
L7
With their ‘rags to riches to rags’ documentary Pretend We’re Dead rampaging over

6 Weakness
The Dust Coda
There are pleasing whiffs of Black Stone Cherry and Monster Truck – plus a load of
the horizon, what better time to recall Sparks, Finch, Gardner and Plakas at their red-
raw, ferocious peak. This war-painted, live-in-Finsbury Park B-side assault features
a wheelie-popping L7-alike heroine with ‘so much clit, she don’t need no balls’. Nice.
hearty soul – in this beefy, catchy highlight from London’s The Dust Coda. Keep an
eye out for the full, self-titled album, due for release on October 27.
15 Favourite Pleasures
Gun

7 The Seven
Primus
Always oddball, never conformist, Primus are engaging yet bizarre on this song from
The title track of the Scottish band’s new album, it has their trademark ability to
combine smooth hard rock with funk and a huge dollop of melody, but there’s
a freshness here that prevents it from being a mere throwback. This belongs in 2017,
new album The Desaturating Seven. It’s all based on a children’s story about goblins as Gun show how to balance respect for their past with a desire to be contemporary.
stealing the colours of the rainbow. Which is typical left-field stuff for this trio.

8 Rebel
Blitzen Trapper
16 Pimp The Tubes
They were an amazing, big-draw live band (headlining Knebworth ’78) back in the
Portland group Blitzen Trapper’s sunshiney-but-smart pop-rock acquires some dark day, but all the make-up, costumes and props would have meant jack shit had they
country overtones in this new track taken from upcoming album Wild And Reckless not also had some killer songs like this orchestrated, cinematic gem from Young And
(due on November 3). We loved their last album, 2015’s All Across This Land, so it’s Rich, one of the albums in their newly released collection The A&M Albums.
great to have them back.

9 Recovery Is Learning
Kim Seviour
17 Still Of The Night
Whitesnake
The opener of the just-released reissue of Whitesnake’s gold-plated 1987 album,
Once the voice of Touchstone, Kim Seviour is now out on her own – and she’s never and one of the best Led Zeppelin ‘tribute’ tracks ever recorded. It’s got the thumping
sounded more individual and passionate. Recovery Is Learning, the title track of her Dan Auerbach: riff, the unaccompanied vocal-wail verse, the Whole Lotta hi-hat-and-cymbal-pings
debut solo album, is haunting and expansive, bringing out the colour and timbre southern soul with slick mid-section breakdown, strings… Coverdale and co. rarely sounded as good.
pop-rock sensibilities.
REX/SHUTTERSTOCK

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24 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
THE
STO
RIES
BEH
IND
THE
SON
GS

The Cranberries
Zombie
The Irish band had already enjoyed success with their sweet ballads, but this storming left-turn,
an incendiary, furious track about the bombings in Northern Ireland, made them massive.

B
Words: y 1994, Limerick rock band US, touring universities and arenas and era was the accompanying video, in
Emma Johnston
The Cranberries had achieved building up their brand. Rather than which the singer was painted gold and
international fame with their being a collaborative effort, it was written surrounded by silver-painted cherubs. It
chart-topping, multi-platinum by O’Riordan alone, in the calm of her was inter-cut with documentary footage
debut album Everybody Else Is Doing own flat, and it began life as a much of soldiers and children on the streets
It So Why Can’t We?, and most people gentler proposition than it ended up as. of Northern Ireland, filmed by director
thought they knew exactly what the “It was extremely busy and we were Samuel Bayer, who also made the videos
Irish four-piece were about. working all the time around the clock,” for Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit and
As the final days of grunge stormed she says. “That song came to me when Blind Melon’s No Rain.
around them, they were a barefoot, I was in Limerick, and I wrote it initially “I actually thought the director was
floaty, slightly hippie-ish oasis of calm, on an acoustic guitar, late at night. very brave,” says O’Riordan. “When he
the romantic longing of Linger and the I remember being in my flat, coming up got back, he was pretty pumped
fairy tale sugar-rush of Dreams further with the chorus, which was catchy and – there was a lot of adrenalin pumping
sweetened by singer Dolores O’Riordan’s anthemic. So I took it into rehearsals, through him. He was telling me how
girlish, heavily accented vocal style. and I picked up the electric guitar. Then tense it was and how he was blown away
Then in September, in the run-up to I kicked in distortion on the chorus, and by the whole thing. He got footage of
the release of their second album, No Need I said to Ferg [Fergal Lawler, drums]: the kids jumping from one building to
To Argue, they turned their own image ‘Maybe you could beat the drums pretty another, and he got a lot of footage of
on its head by returning with Zombie, hard.’ Even though it was written on an the army. He was a very good director.”
a grungy, gloomy, furious anti-war song acoustic, it became a bit of a rocker. Released in 1994, Zombie went to
that found O’Riordan raging against “That was the most aggressive song No.1 in several countries and on the
the violence caused by the conflict in we’d written.
Northern Ireland, which was making Zombie was quite
the news headlines on what seemed like different to what
a weekly basis. we’d done before.”
“It’s a tough thing to sing about,
On March 20, 1993, one of two bombs It was recorded but when you’re young you don’t
was planted in a litter bin in Warrington in Dublin with
city centre by Irish republicans. When producer Stephen think twice about things, you
ZOMBIE
REVISITED
it exploded, 12-year-old Tim Parry and
three-year-old Jonathan Ball were killed,
Street, who spent
a long time working
just grab it and do it. When
The Cranberries
revisited Zombie and dozens of people injured, in an attack on getting the you’re young you’ve no fear.”
this year when they that shocked and appalled the public in guitar settings
re-recorded an acoustic the UK and Ireland alike. When the news right to give a suitably expansive sound. US rock chart (although it only made it
version with the Irish
Chamber Orchestra for of the attack broke, The Cranberries were But while they were experimenting to No.14 in the UK), and was certified
the band’s reworked on tour in the UK, and O’Riordan was on with raising the volume, O’Riordan platinum in Australia and Germany. At
greatest hits collection the tour bus in London. says it wasn’t a concerted effort to ride the MTV Awards, the band beat Michael
Something Else.
“We did it with “I remember at the time there were the grunge bandwagon. Jackson and TLC to win Best Song. But
a quartet, so it’s a lot a lot of bombs going off in London and “It came organically because we were that paled into insignificance when
tamer but it’s still the Troubles were pretty bad,” she says using our live instruments, we were they were invited to perform it at the
nice,” says O’Riordan. now, 24 years later. “I remember being plugging in a lot, and we started to mess Nobel Peace Prize in 1998, when Ulster
“It’s interesting to do
acoustic versions of on tour and being in the UK at the time around with feedback and distortion. Unionist leader John Hume and SDLP
your songs because when the child died, and just being really When you’re on tour you start to mess leader David Trimble were honoured “for
it kind of shows sad about it all. These bombs are going around a bit more with the live side of their efforts to find a peaceful solution to
that they can stand
acoustically as well: off in random places. It could have been things. There were a lot of bands around the conflict in Northern Ireland”.
Is it a good song? anyone, you know? that were part of the grunge thing, and Parent album No Need To Argue went
Has it a good chorus? “It’s a tough thing to sing about, but this wasn’t grunge, but the timing was on to sell 17 million copies, and made
Has it a good verse?
Does it have a bridge? when you’re young you don’t think twice good. We couldn’t have really fitted O’Riordan very rich.
“I think when you’re about things, you just grab it and do it. As in with grunge, because we were just “I wouldn’t change anything about it,
young you have you get older you develop more fear and a different type of a band. We were Irish because it did so well,” she says. “It was
lots of aggression.
When you get older you get more apprehensive, but when and from Limerick, and we had a lot of well-written and it was well-composed.
it kind of goes away, you’re young you’ve no fear.” our own ideas. A lot of the grunge bands I think it did so well because it’s hard to
you get a bit more Zombie was written in a rare lull were very similar to each other.” categorise it. And I still like singing it.”
CAMERAPRESS

laid-back. It was fun


to go back to it.” between tours; the band had spent the Equally important to the success of
majority of the year on the road in the the track, released as a single, in the MTV Something Else is out now on BMG.

24 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
Tapping into the Troubles:
THE FACTS Zombie-era Cranberries.
RELEASE DATE
Sept 19, 1994
HIGHEST
CHART
POSITION
UK No.14
PERSONNEL
Dolores
O’Riordan
Vocals, guitar
Noel Hogan
Guitar
Mike Hogan
Bass
Fergal Lawler
Drums
WRITTEN BY
Dolores
O’Riordan
PRODUCER
Stephen Street
LABEL
Island

CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 25
David Crosby
The former Byrd on protests and
politics, life and death and being
popular with the Pope.
Interview: Ian Fortnam

ith Crosby, Stills & Nash What do you make of the rise of the political
on permanent hiatus, right in the wake of Donald Trump’s
David Crosby is enjoying ascendancy into presidential office?
something of a solo career It’s scary because it’s happening in a lot of places.
renaissance. Obviously, It’s happening in Poland, they tried to drag the UK
a formidable reputation to the right, they tried it in France and Holland
precedes him, so it shouldn’t really come as without success. You see it a lot and it’s been
any surprise that this co-founder of The Byrds, encouraged by the rise of right-wing fanaticism
who either wrote or co-wrote Eight Miles High, in this country, which has been unquestionably
Wooden Ships, Teach Your Children, Almost Cut My encouraged by this asshole we have for a President.
Hair and many more is still capable of producing Please quote me!
exceptional work, especially in today’s early-60s-
echoing troubled times. Many of the songs with which you were
Nevertheless, it’s impressive that his three most involved during the first decade of your career
recent recordings, made in close collaboration are evocative of a time when change was
with his son James Raymond (2014’s Croz, last swift, protest achieved much in the field of
year’s acoustic Lighthouse and his latest Sky Trails civil rights, the anti-war movement shortened
album), sit comfortably alongside his very best. the Vietnam war and environmental concerns
Kicking back in his California home, Crosby were being voiced. The future looked
laughs loud and long when I observe that he incredibly bright. So what went wrong?
retains possession of a voice of such clarity The Democratic Party failed us. The Republican
that women appear to find it impossible to Party stooped to levels even we, who felt them
resist, spluttering: “Let that be the headline for capable of really awful stuff, couldn’t believe. The
the piece, you silver-tongued devil. I want that problem in the United States always goes back
one out there!” to money. Corporations spend billions of dollars
buying elections and own the people they gave the David Crosby: enjoying
a late-career purple patch.
The Sky Trails song Capitol is laced with money to. Then they call up and say: “Quarterly
a cynicism that seems to extend to politicians report’s down, we need a nice little war. Why
of all political leanings. Is corruption an don’t you send some people back to Afghanistan?” Do you think the optimism of the 1960s has
essential element within all those who seek And that’s a very bad situation. The United States a place in today’s cynical society?
political office, or only those who attain it? is, at best, in a lot of trouble. Yes. You need to have optimism and hope in order
Corruption’s endemic in politics. There are to function. I have to, anyway. Okay, this guy’s
exceptions. The law of averages – the law Do these troubled times add fuel to your fire? a terrible president and we’ve got terrible people
I respect the most – tells me there are occasional Do you find that you’re writing more? showing up doing awful things, but it’s making
politicians who are honest and trying to serve the I’m certainly trying to. I’ve been saying for a while us look at them. Racism was always here in the
people that elected them, but most are blatantly that we need a song for our times. A song as strong United States of America. We just weren’t looking
corrupt. They’re pretty scummy people. as Ohio or We Shall Overcome. A song for our people at it. Now they are marching down the street with
In the United States right now it’s as if we’re out there in the street. And we don’t have it yet. I’m torches in their hands, and it’s real. It’s ugly and it’s
a failed country. We’ve stopped being anything trying to write it myself, and trying to get anybody not fun, but America needs to look at this so we
other than a bad joke. If I come to Europe I’m else to write it. I don’t care where it comes from, can deal with it. We can’t deal with it if we pretend
going to sew a maple leaf on my shoulder! I just care that there is one. it isn’t there.

During the early eighties you were in the grip

“The three hours I’m on stage is heaven


of a debilitating cocaine addiction. At that
point, freebasing seemed to have reached

to me. It’s the other twenty-one hours epidemic proportions. Did its prevalence
within the rock community come in the wake

a day that beat the crap out of me.” of the apparent death of sixties idealism?
I don’t know if they were linked, but certainly
the advance of the drug culture and the debauch
28 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
of idealism happened at roughly the same pace I grew up in a different time. Where I grew up were my mentors, people I learnt how to be
and would seem to be connected. I don’t know if we raised lemons and avocados, and when a folk singer from. So I had this great picture of
you can prove the causality, but they’re definitely you turned twelve years old you got a two-two who black people were.
connected. We didn’t know the drugs were going [rifle], and shooting rifles was just a part of how Then I was suddenly in prison with people
to get us addicted, sap our will, ruin our lives, pick everybody lived. It’s a completely different thing who couldn’t read a comic book and had nothing
up our families and destroy us, but it’s exactly to the gang-fuelled, ‘automatic weapons in their left but attitude. They were the bottom end of the
what they did. It happened at the same time our back pockets’ approach to guns. The gun itself isn’t Texan prison system and not a good advertisement
leaders were getting shot – King, Kennedy. There the problem, the problem is in the operator. for people of colour in this country. So I had to
were a lot of factors in losing, or damaging, that Talking about trying to reduce gun ownership wade through that and realise that, no, though
idealism, and drugs was only one of them. in the United States, as they did in Australia, is just some people were pretty terrible, the full range
Drugs messed us up and did great harm, and nonsense, man, because two-thirds of households of people was also there. There were angels and
we lost a lot of people to them, but I don’t think in America have got guns and nobody’s gonna give demons, and in any group of people bigger than
it’s as simple as the one caused the other. There are them back. You’re never going to get rid of them. It a hundred I was always going to find both. That
a whole multiplicity of variables there affecting it. doesn’t mean I approve of them. I’d love to live in was a big lesson.
a world where we didn’t have to have them.
One event that’s emblematic of those Five years for a quarter of a gram of pipe
changing times was the assassination of What did you discover about your fellow man residue seems like an awful lot of jail time.
John Lennon, which compelled you to during the time you were incarcerated in 1983 Do you feel that the various agencies of law
arm yourself for self-preservation. It was for possessing drugs and a firearm? enforcement already had their eye on you as
a decision that saw you fall foul of the law I learned about racism. I’d met and worked with a representative of the counterculture and
more than once. Where do you stand now on black musicians who were some of the greatest that your position was reflected in the severity
the right to bear arms? people on the planet. Odetta and Josh White of your sentence?
CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 29
Q&A

“We didn’t know the drugs were going


to get us addicted, sap our will, ruin our
Crosby, Stephen Stills
and Graham Nash as lives… but it’s exactly what they did.”
CS&N in 1969.

Yeah, sure, they were trying to make an example. Prior to your liver transplant in 1994, when In 2010, If I Could Only Remember My Name
I only did a year, but they were trying to make an you were first diagnosed with hepatitis C, the was voted the second-best album of all time
example. And probably rightly so. prognosis looked pretty grim. How did you by L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s official
react to your diagnosis? newspaper. Did you have any idea that you
And what did you discover about yourself I didn’t believe it. The first diagnosis was at were quite so Pope-friendly?
during the time you spent in jail? Johns Hopkins [an academic medical centre in No I didn’t! The next one on the list was Dark Side
I discovered myself again. When I woke up from Baltimore] and I didn’t believe them. So I went Of The Moon, so I beat Pink Floyd. As soon as it
the long drug nightmare, I woke up in a prison to UCLA, and they said: “Yeah, it’s absolutely came out, I got an email from David Gilmour
cell, and while it’s not a great place to wake up, at true, you have hepatitis C, your liver is very saying: “Damn you, you bastard.” We laughed
least you wake up. And I discovered I could live close to failing. As a matter of fact, we were about it a lot, thought it was funnier than shit.
without the drug, which was something I didn’t going to give you a pager and send you home, There has to be somebody in The Vatican that’s got
know. I thought I couldn’t. but we don’t think we could keep you alive at really good taste in music, I guess. I’m a huge fan
I discovered I could manage my life there and home, so you’re checking into the hospital right of this Pope. He’s the best thing to happen to the
stay out of trouble long enough to survive day to now. Seventy-two days in the hospital. It was Catholic church in a thousand years. A fine human
day. I learned that I could still write if I went back absolutely terrifying, man. being who, instead of just talking the talk, walks
to it. Because I had done drugs to the extent that the walk. I’m not Catholic, I’m not religious at all,
they’d wiped out my ability to write completely, but I think he’s terrific.
and I wasn’t even really awake as a human being.
Then I wake up in prison and start reading You’re obviously a passionate man, driven
again, start thinking again and started writing to distraction by injustice and corruption,
again. That was the big joy, that the writing was but you seem to find perfect peace in
going to come back. performance. Do you find the process of
making music beneficial to your physical
Do you write for specific projects as they and mental well-being?
arise, or is writing an ongoing process? Absolutely, man. Singing for me is a joy. Just as
I just write. I’m always picking up the guitar war drags humanity downward, brings out the
to see where it’ll take me. When Joni Mitchell very worst in humanity, music is a positive, lifting
and I were going together and I was producing force that brings out the best in us. I love singing.
her first record, I said something to her and she It’s the other twenty-one hours a day that beat the
said: “Write that down.” And I said: “Write what crap out of me – the bad food, no sleep and cheap
down?” “What you just said. It was something hotels. But the three hours I’m on stage with the
MAIN: ALAMY; INSET: GETTY

good, and if you don’t write it down it didn’t band, that’s heaven to me, man. I’m doing what
happen.” And that stuck in my head. Ever since I was put here to do.
that day, if I get four words in a row that I like
I write them down. Sk y Trails is available now via BMG.
Crosby today: still
30 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
enjoying performing.
32 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
Kadavar
Meet the animalistic Berliners who are writing
a soundtrack for these troubled times.
Words: Henry Yates Portrait: Joe Dilworth

It’s rare that a band seem like they’re announces that Lupus is not from the
part of both the past and the future. An hearts-and-flowers school. “When I’m
encounter with Kadavar might feel like happy and everything is good, I don’t feel
tumbling through a wormhole to the early like writing songs. I need anger and hate,
70s, with the Berliners’ beards and tailoring to feel uncomfortable. Vampires is about my
all period-correct, and their playbook in generation: nobody knows what the future
thrall to Tony Iommi and Jimmy Page. is going to bring for us. Die Baby Die is about
But dig into Rough Times, their fourth the music business, people knocking on
album, and you’ll find this trio updating your door, trying to make money out of you
stoner and psychedelic sounds while – then those people move on and they don’t
dissecting the modern world. give a fuck about your dream.”
“All the refugees,” frontman Christoph
‘Lupus’ Lindemann says with a sigh. Kadavar are having an identity crisis.
“All the war. And of course, in America, “One night, we were all at the bar and
I don’t understand how you can vote for decided we needed animal names,” recalls
somebody who’s homophobic, anti-women, Lupus. “Simon [Bouteloup, bass] became
anti-science, anti-anything. We kinda had ‘Dragon’. Christoph [Bartelt, drums] was
the feeling that the good times might be ‘Tiger’, and I took the Latin name for wolf,
over, so we called the album Rough Times.” ‘Lupus’. But now we’re getting closer to our
animals. Tigers are lazy the whole day then
The album is a trip. they go out for one big hunt – and Christoph
Since the band formed in 2010, the might hang out all day, but when he gets up
boneheaded response has been to cast he’s serious. I’m getting more like a wolf,
Kadavar as a Sabbath throwback. But that lonely. I used to go out and get wasted, but
doesn’t square with their latest album, nowadays I stay home and write.”
which unfolds like a saga and sprinkles
eclectic influences. “It’s a journey,” Lupus Their face fuzz gets them into trouble.
explains. “Because it starts really dark and Most upcoming bands can’t get arrested.
doomy, kinda Electric Wizard-style, like As Lupus recalls with a shudder, Kadavar
we’re really pissed off. But then it clears up, did – in Texas. “The cops stopped the car
gets a little nicer, with this Neil Young vibe. because they said we were too fast. But it
By the end it almost seems like there’s some definitely had something to do with the hair
hope left. Not everything is black and the and beards. They had guns pointed at us,
end of the world.” put us in a field for hours, blinding us with
spotlights, with dogs trying to find drugs.
The world is their stage. Nobody has ever pulled a gun on me before.
Lupus grew up in post-unification East That’s a feeling I never want to have again.”
Berlin, but the shadow of The Wall looms
over Kadavar’s often-claustrophobic sound They’ve got a split personality.
and escapist world view. “My mother always The stage Kadavar and the studio Kadavar,
told me, whatever happens, when you’re old Lupus reminds us, are two different beasts.
enough, leave, just go,” he recalls. “Because “People say our records never really catch
they never had the chance. There was the the energy we have on stage. We are way
Stasi, spies everywhere, Russian soldiers, more brutal, heavy and dirty live. Of course,
you couldn’t say what you were thinking. I’ve you want to blow people away, so you do it
always enjoyed that freedom. You come to as fat and big as you can, but we never try to
Mexico City, get on stage and see hundreds have that on the records. We are not really
of kids freaking out. That’s the moment fans of big, fat production. Maybe we have
when all the pain makes sense.” two identities. But on the new album, I think
we’ve caught both of them.”
Their lyric sheet ain’t pretty.
A scan of the Rough Times track-listing Rough Times is out now via Nuclear Blast.

CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 33
The Blues Years
From 1967 to 1974, the nascent Fleetwood Mac teetered on the line between triumph and
oblivion. Co-founder Mick Fleetwood recalls the “wild story” of the band’s early years…
Words: Henry Yates

I
t was the fag-end of summer 1967, and the tectonic plates of In his own testimony for Love That Burns, meanwhile, Green writes:
London’s blues landscape were shifting. On September 9, under “Fleetwood Mac was a bit of an experiment to begin with. I wouldn’t have
cover of darkness, the door of Decca Studios in London opened and been surprised if it had flopped. The way the line-up came together had
house producer Mike Vernon furtively waved in a fledgling band for a lot to do with fate.”
an after-hours session. There was Mick Fleetwood, the drummer Maybe so, but it was chemistry that drove it. A proto-Fleetwood Mac –
recently ousted from John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers for being habitually at that point with Brunning on bass – had already played their debut gig, at
“loose as a goose”. With him were bassist Bob Brunning and an impish, the Windsor Jazz & Blues Festival in August 1967. Later that year, as the
mischief-making slide-guitar wizard named Jeremy Spencer. More McVie-bolstered line-up hit the London club scene, a fascinating dynamic
auspiciously, there was Peter Green, the spellbinding guitar hero who had was in evidence. Both on stage and when hassling promoters off it, the
replaced Eric Clapton in the Bluesbreakers, and arguably outshone him in East End-raised Green was patently in charge.
his tenure with Mayall, and was now widely tipped to explode. “I would parody Peter when he would slip into that tough barrow-boy
“People were almost forcing Peter to form a band,” remembers thing when he couldn’t take us any more,” notes Fleetwood. “We would
Fleetwood, a full half-century later, in an interview to promote Love That mimic him and it became a running joke: ‘Get your fucking shit together.
Burns, a mouth-watering new book that chronicles the band’s early years. You both played like shit! Fleetwood, I’ve got more swing in my left
“So I think eventually he basically went: ‘Okay, fuck it.’” bollock than you had tonight!’”
To fair-weather fans of the stadium-filling Rumours line-up of On the flip side, bandleader Green’s economical guitar playing
Fleetwood Mac, that original line-up is either a mystery or style and musical generosity gave space for his bandmates
a mere preamble to the main event. to shine, his priority always the interplay, not the
“The main story is always going to be the individual showboating.
Fleetwood Mac that you know now,” Fleetwood “It was incredible in those days,” notes McVie.
concedes. “No doubt, what’s going to be “Mick and I behind Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer,
remembered is the incarnation that’s not in this
“I hope that part of it was like a fucking freight train. It’s nothing that
book; y’know, Stevie [Nicks], Lindsey [Buckingham], our story is about includes massive amounts of technical skill, it’s just
Chris [McVie], John [McVie, who had soon replaced chemistry that works.”
Brunning] and myself. But I wanted this book to be acceptance of people “It was all about friendship,” picks up Fleetwood.
about the band that Peter Green started in 1967, and
I was lucky and happy enough to be at his side, right
who have come “Peter gave me confidence. I play from the heart.
I don’t know what I’m doing half the time. And he
from the beginning. through the ranks, told me: ‘Mick, you’re okay, just play.’ Peter was the
“I want people to know what started Fleetwood consummate team player. Later, in an interview,
Mac. Well, first of all it was Peter. And a bunch of kids which has allowed someone asked him why did he call the band
that were channelling our heroes. We were listening this crazy story.” Fleetwood Mac? And he said: ‘Well, in truth, I thought
to blues artists that were freaking us out. The irony is at some time I’d probably move on, and I wanted John
that these funny little English dudes reconstituted an Mick Fleetwood and Mick to have something after I left.’
art form that was all but dead – and nobody gave “Peter gave and he gave,” Fleetwood continues.
a shit about it in America – and served it back to “I was looking at the set-list for the Windsor Jazz
them. We helped to save something that was all but Festival. And remember that Peter had become a sort
thrown in the dustbin.” of Eric Clapton hero-worshipped player on the scene. He
Across the decades, all parties have credited Green as the basically turned around and gave it all away to Jeremy. [That
catalyst behind the original band’s formation. Spencer remembers show] is a lot of Jeremy. That’s really a very generous person.”
being press-ganged by him at a Birmingham show in June 1967 (“He asked The magnanimous Green was not only happy to feature Spencer’s note-
if I wanted a drink, and as we stood by the bar he talked as though I was perfect Elmore James homages in the set, he also even indulged Spencer’s
already in it”). In Love That Burns, meanwhile, McVie recalls the badgering on stage antics, which included cavorting in a gold lamé jumpsuit with a
that made him turn his back on a steady Bluesbreakers pay cheque (“Peter red dildo lolling from the gusset (a routine that saw them briefly banned
was bugging me, you know: ‘Come on, join, join, you gotta join!’”). from The Marquee). Spencer recalled: “Peter said that I was the first player
While interviewing Green for the book, Fleetwood was surprised to to make him smile since Hendrix.”
learn that his own invitation to join was largely down to the sympathy

T
vote: “I thought he was going to say: ‘Well, I thought you were a pretty he logical next step was a debut album. In November 1967, a three-
good drummer.’ But he said: ‘You’d just broken up with Jenny [Boyd, later day stint at CBS studios resulted in the self-titled LP known
Fleetwood’s first wife] and you were devastated, and I just thought you informally as Dog And Dustbin, a Brit-blues master class that
needed to do something. That’s why I asked you to join the band, because pinballed from soul-drenched Green originals like Looking For Somebody
I just wanted you to get back on your feet.’ How amazing was that? It really and I Loved Another Woman to Spencer’s trademark olde-blues salutes.
BARRY PLUMMER

had nothing to do with whether I was a halfway decent drummer or not, it “That was a blues album,” Fleetwood says. “Y’know, this is what we do.
was just because he loved me and he didn’t want to see me in pain.” The irony was, we were on Top Of The Pops and they probably felt we

34 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
Fleetwood Mac: (clockwise from
top left) Mick Fleetwood,
Peter Green, John McVie, Danny
Kirwen and Jeremy Spencer.
Singing the blues: Danny
Kirwan, Peter Green and John
McVie in the studio in 1969/70.

invented that music. A lot of people who were not our audience were a precocious and chronically shy guitarist named Danny Kirwan joined
suddenly listening to Elmore James. It really holds up, when you listen to the band. Fleetwood recalls a teenager who “one might have mistaken for
some of that early stuff. I mean, Peter was such an extraordinary player, so an innocent church choirboy… but he would play the hell out of his
sensitive and so mature. guitar, deep in the trenches of the darkest grooves”.
“The thing about London and a lot of bands in that particular Indeed it was Kirwan’s diverse influences and off-kilter style that
period,” the drummer continues, “is that, in our own way, we helped Fleetwood Mac to their first hit singles – and the
were real blues bands. London was a cauldron of broad-minded and more textural tracks on 1969’s Then
creativity which, I might add, is still being felt Play On album.
musically, sociologically, in fashion “It was thrilling to see them go from nothing more
and style. It caused all these ripples than a twelve-bar blues band to making records as
that became waves and storms and “Jeremy was creative as Albatross and Black Magic Woman,” recalls
hurricanes of creativity. I don’t
think it’s pushing the envelope for
vulnerable, ripe for Vernon. “The catalyst for the change was Danny.
There were no bands anywhere that had three
someone such as me, sitting back the picking, because guitar players, and it diversified the whole sound of
and saying [mock-nostalgic]: ‘Oh, the group.”
in the old days, do you know what
he always had a Bible On first inspection, as a dreamy guitar
we did?’ There are just things that sewn into his duffle instrumental with the vibe set to ‘mellow’, their 1968
happen in certain places. It’s like single Albatross was a hard sell, Fleetwood
when people talk about Paris in coat and he was acknowledging that it was “a little light in the
the twenties.”
But even as that debut album hit
already flipping out loafers” for the band’s blues hard-core followers.
“Everyone at CBS, our distributor, said: ‘We’ll never
No.4 in the UK shortly after its from the drugs.” be able to sell this, no radio station’s ever gonna play
release in February 1968 there was it,’” notes Vernon. “But Peter just kept telling us it
a taste of trouble to come, when Mick Fleetwood was going to be a hit. Eventually, after hearing it
Green baulked at the band’s billing enough times, we all agreed.”
on the sleeve as ‘Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac’. Green’s instincts were on the money. After the
“He was furious about that,” Fleetwood recalls. “They band performed Albatross on prime-time BBC, the single
snuck it in there, because [Peter] was the only person that began shifting 60,000 units daily on its march to No.1 in
was beginning to be quite famous on the blues circuit. And I don’t the UK. Green’s chiming Man Of The World and ambitious Oh Well
blame them. But that was the last time you ever saw Peter Green’s name in weren’t far behind, both singles hitting No.2 in 1969. That year’s Then Play
front of Fleetwood Mac.” On album, which saw Green expand his palette with songs inspired by
Follow-up Mr Wonderful could only repeat the debut album’s trick with hearing classical composer Vaughan Williams’s The Lark Ascending at the
diminishing returns, but the line-up was revitalised that summer when Proms, reached No.6.
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36 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
Fleetwood, Green and Spencer with
JT Brown, recording the Blues Jam
At Chess album in 1969.

“I don’t really know


“The world was unfolding for him,” notes why I left the group tough upbringing and his rock-star status, not to
Fleetwood. “One can only imagine what he’d have mention the pressure to maintain the band’s
created if he had continued on that track.” in the end. I think it commercial ascent.
Rather less high-minded was Green’s Rattlesnake “The burden of our success haunted him,” notes
Shake, written about Mick Fleetwood masturbating.
was just because Fleetwood. “Peter thought it was all bullshit and was
Capping off a breakthrough year, there was also I wanted to do convinced that people never really liked him. This
the release of Blues Jam At Chess, showcasing the line- took him to the brink and it ultimately made him
up as they cut heads with the genre’s big beasts in things for free.” unable to handle normal life.”
Chicago, including Buddy Guy, Willie Dixon and Peter Green As the band hit the road in early
Shakey Horton. Inspect the photos in Love That Burns 1970, Fleetwood watched his friend
and the Mac members are certainly wide-eyed, across the aisle of the tour bus,
although the respect reportedly ran both ways, with waited and hoped.
MICK FLEETWOOD: MICHAEL PUTLAND; JEREMY SPENCER & J..T. BROWN: JEREMY SPENCER COLLECTION; PETER GREEN: JEFF LOWENTHAL

JT Brown, formerly of the Elmore James band, noting of “There are some pictures in the
Spencer: “Hell, it’s like Elmore has been dug up from the book that of course are very personal,” he
L

grave. I’m closing my eyes and hearing my boss singing.” recalls. “I remember the exact moment. There’s
Such triumphs couldn’t mask a sour taste and the sense of an ending, some pictures of Peter on that last tour, and I remember
however. After the band had set out on producer Mike Vernon’s then-new how it felt. I was sitting on that bus and I was looking at
blues label Blue Horizon, manager Clifford Davis had swooped to move him and thinking: ‘Maybe he’ll change his mind. Maybe
his charges to the Immediate label (thence to Warner Brothers/Reprise). he won’t leave.’”
“When Fleetwood Mac left us,” noted Vernon, “the thing that upset me The cautionary tale of Green’s ignominious burnout
more than anything was the idea that our family unit was being destroyed. is well-known now, the tipping point generally
And it was being destroyed for reasons of commerciality.” acknowledged to be the day at a Munich hippie commune
when his already fragile mind-set was shredded by LSD.

F
or his part, Spencer had felt adrift since Kirwan’s arrival, and he Interviewed for Fleetwood’s book, he can only express
released his first solo album in 1970. Most troubling of all was the bewilderment at his actions: “I don’t really know why
decline of Green. Plainly, this was a man fast unravelling. He gave I left the group in the end. I think it was just because I wanted to do things
befuddled interviews in which he spoke of plans to give away the band’s for free. I knew that people looked at me like I was in a dream. I could tell
money, took to wearing messianic robes and sprinkled cries for help that, even at the time.”
across lyrics for songs such as Man Of The World (‘I just wish that I’d never been “We were devastated,” Fleetwood says today. “Losing Peter Green was
born’) and Love That Burns (‘Please leave me now in my room to cry’). devastating. It was like, it’s probably over. My instinct was to keep going.
Green’s ominous final contribution, The Green Manalishi (With The Two- Because what else are we going to do? The band’s called Fleetwood Mac,
Prong Crown), felt more troubled still, its lyric addressing a nightmarish and really, we were experiencing the very thing that Peter thought would
character that surely represented the guitarist’s struggle to reconcile his happen. So at least we had something.

CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 37
Clockwise from top left: Dave
Walker and the equally short-lived
Bob Weston, “major player” Bob
Welch, John and Christine McVie.

“And I have to say, the lesson learnt there was that once we had survived paraphernalia, shop – and never returned. The mystery was only solved,
that most devastating thing, every time someone left, because we’d Fleetwood notes, when he was found sworn in to a religious group known
survived Peter we thought we could probably get through.” as the Children Of God. “Jeremy was vulnerable, ripe for the picking,
Desertion was in the air. Spencer was “gloomy” and despondent. McVie because he always had a Bible sewn into his duffle coat and he was already
talked vaguely of ditching the bass and managing the band flipping out from the drugs.”
instead. For Fleetwood, the only way forward was to start afresh, Having already cancelled a gig at LA’s Whisky A Go Go, the only
the drummer leading the reeling lineup to shared quarters in Kiln recourse was to recall Peter Green, although his refusal to play the
House, “a frugal, artsy farmhouse” in Hampshire, where days hits and insistence on free-form jamming meant this could never
were spent rehearsing new material and nights smoking hash. be a permanent solution. Relative consistency arrived only in the
“We closed ranks,” he reflects. “We went to Kiln House and did form of guitarist Bob Welch, the Californian-born musician whose
the band-in-the-country-cottage thing that Traffic and Led jazz-inflected contribution to the next five albums – including
Zeppelin had done. Y’know, go to the country and lick your major US hits such as Hypnotized – deserves higher billing. “Bob was
wounds. We were very shaky.” a major part of this band after Peter left,” Fleetwood says. “[But] in
Slowly, the music began again. But when the Kiln House album Europe, people don’t actually know a lot about him.”
emerged in September 1970, it was a curious beast, mostly driven The band’s new digs also contributed to the sense of stability.
by Kirwan’s rockier leanings and Spencer’s 1950s pastiches, and it Costing just £23,000, Benifolds was a sprawling Victorian pile in
was perhaps lucky even to reach No.39 in the UK. rural Hampshire, which for the next three years became the
“We made that very unusual, charming little album,” reflects band members’ communal home and the backdrop to the
Fleetwood, “where Jeremy was in a world with Danny. But they albums that followed. On standout tracks such as Morning Rain,
weren’t prepared without our big leader. Jeremy just retreated to 1971’s Future Games album gave the first hints of the band’s
making his Buddy Holly-esque songs. It’s sort of a cool little melodic pop direction and the growing influence of Christine
album, but we were floundering.” McVie to come. The following year, Bare Trees was also an artistic
New faces helped heal the wounds. Christine Perfect had success, with Kirwan delivering gems like the funked-up title
JOHN & CHRISTINE MCVIE: MICK FLEETWOOD ARCHIVE; GETTY x3

moved in the band’s orbit since the start, catching McVie’s eye as track, and Welch again vindicating his hiring with the stunning
she played keys with Chicken Shack at that Windsor festival in autumnal ballad Sentimental Lady.
1967. The pair dated, then married in 1968. She played piano on The upward trajectory couldn’t last. Kirwan’s paranoia and
the Mr Wonderful, Then Play On and Kiln House albums, before alcohol dependency were spiralling, and his distaste for the band’s
officially becoming a member of Fleetwood Mac at a New direction and, in particular, Welch’s style were coming to a head.
Orleans gig in August 1970. In August 1972 Kirwan effectively signed his own death warrant
Even then, the revolving door continued to turn. In February by refusing to take the stage and watching from the back as the
1971 the band’s US tour was derailed when Spencer walked off band struggled to cover his parts. For Fleetwood, Kirwan’s firing
down Hollywood Boulevard – ostensibly to visit a ‘head’, or drug was a no-brainer: “It was something we simply could not forgive.

38 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
America here we come: the McVie/
Fleetwood/Welch/McVie line-up
relocate to the US, and the next phase
of the Fleetwood Mac saga begins…

“It was all about


Danny had broken the code, the one that said you friendship. Peter gave to London and Bob got fired from Fleetwood Mac.”
don’t hang your bandmates out to dry on stage.” Plainly, a clean break was needed. The answer
With the band again flailing, Fleetwood went me confidence. I play once again came from Welch, who suggested that
fishing for new blood. “Peter really set the precedent,” relocating to the States would give the band more
he says of his skills as a talent-spotter. “I’ve been in
from the heart. I don’t clout in that lucrative market.
the band since 1967, and I’m not a singer or know what I’m doing “Bob was the beginning of us living in America,
a songwriter, but my song became Fleetwood Mac, us really separating from being in Europe,” says
and I can quietly say that I had a lot to do with this half the time.” Fleetwood. “We lost a huge chunk of our audience in
strange journey of putting [and] keeping people in Mick Fleetwood Europe when Peter left, so the band changed and we
the band. I learnt that from Peter. migrated to America [in 1974].”
“In the same way, people have come into The move drew a line under a seven-year ride and
Fleetwood Mac and they’ve been acknowledged for a mind-boggling early catalogue. “If anyone cares to
who they are and haven’t been asked to emulate pick up the albums from the beginning,” says Fleetwood,
something that went before. Peter taught me those lessons “right through some of the changes we went through with
and I remembered them. I hope that part of our story is about Kiln House, Future Games, Mystery To Me, all these albums… it’s like a
acceptance of people who have come through the ranks, which has very strange and unusual musical. If you put on Blues Jam At Chess, or the
allowed this crazy story, where everybody has been unbelievably different, original Peter Green incarnation, then you put on Bob Welch or Kiln House,
musically.” you’re entitled to ask: is this the same band? There’s some similarity, but
Fleetwood didn’t always make the right call. In August 1972, Dave it’s hard to find sometimes. That in itself is a wild story.
Walker arrived from Savoy Brown full of promise, but was exposed in the “This book is about paying tribute to the members of Fleetwood Mac,”
studio. “He was very good at engaging the audience, and the crowd would he concludes. “It’s told by me, but I’m really hoping it feels like everyone
go nuts for him,” Fleetwood notes. “It wasn’t until we were making Penguin has been paid kudos to, who started this band, and the changes in the
that we realised it wasn’t going to work out.” band that are not often very well known. That’s why it’s really
Bob Weston lasted longer – contributing guitar to 1973’s important to separate it. I wanted this [story] to survive on
Penguin and Mystery To Me albums – but wreaked havoc its own. The book ends where I introduce Stevie and
by having an affair with Fleetwood’s wife Jenny, Lindsey to Christine. And that’s a whole other
sending the drummer into a tailspin, causing the story…”
cancellation of a US tour –and the so-called ‘fake’
Fleetwood Mac, a line-up of jobbing musos Love That Burns–A Chronicle of Fleetwood Mac,
absurdly billed as the real thing. Volume One: 1967–1974 by Mick Fleetwood is
“I couldn’t get through the tour, and had published by Genesis Publications. For more info visit
a breakdown,” notes Fleetwood. “I sent Jenny back www.genesis-publications.com or call +44 (0)1483 540 970
GETTY

CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 39
The
Rumours
Years
With a new line-up and a new commercial sound, Fleetwood
Mac hit new heights of success, while relationships within the
band hit new lows thanks to drink, drugs, fights and affairs.
Words: Rob Hughes

M
ick Fleetwood had only popped out for groceries. But
a chance encounter with an old PR buddy at a shop near
his home in Hollywood’s fashionable Laurel Canyon led
to an invitation to check out a newly refurbished
recording studio nearby. Eager to find somewhere to
record Fleetwood Mac’s next album, he was duly taken to Sound City.
In-house engineer Keith Olsen was there to greet him. To demonstrate
the studio’s sonic capabilities, Olsen played Fleetwood a track he’d
produced for a local duo the previous year: Frozen Love. Its creators, the duo
of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, had since been dropped by their
label after the album, Buckingham Nicks, had tanked. Fleetwood, however,
was smitten with the track.
Frozen Love was “seven enchanting minutes of vocal harmony and
dynamic guitar”, he recalled in his 2014 memoir, Play On: Now, Then And
Fleetwood Mac. “I loved what I heard and asked him to play more.”
A few weeks later, in December 1974, Fleetwood was rocked by the
news that his band’s singer-guitarist, Bob Welch, was quitting. A
combination of gruelling tour schedules and a disintegrating marriage
had finally tipped him over the edge. Fleetwood Mac needed a
replacement – fast. And their drummer knew exactly who to reach out to.
He called Lindsey Buckingham and asked him to join. Buckingham was a daunting commercial proposition. “It felt right. It was very quick,”
quick to stipulate that he and Nicks came as a package. This insistence Fleetwood later told the NME’s Chris Salewicz. “We all liked each other and
impressed Mick Fleetwood. that was it. We rehearsed for ten days and went in and made the album. It
“It was family first, it was loyal,” he recalled. “They were like-minded was a great sense of circumstance.”
– they wrote together, lived together, loved together. They were very much By the end of February the record was done. Among the highlights
what Fleetwood Mac was all about.” were McVie’s soft-rocking Over My Head and Warm Ways, along with
So it was, in the first week of 1975, that Buckingham and Nicks formally a couple of striking Nicks compositions: Landslide and Rhiannon, both
became Fleetwood Mac’s latest members. of which dated from around the time of Buckingham Nicks. Landslide is
The arrival of the American couple signalled the end of a messy chapter a heartfelt commentary on the lot of the struggling artist, written in
in Fleetwood Mac’s career. Buckingham and Nicks seemed to offer a Aspen, Colorado after Nicks and Buckingham had been dropped by
brighter future and, crucially, an expansion of the Fleetwood Mac sound. Polydor Records.
The band were now blessed with three first-rate singer-songwriters. “I was looking out at the Rocky Mountains, pondering the
Nicks’s pliant voice could shift in a heartbeat from a kittenish rasp to avalanche of everything that had come crashing down on us,” she noted.
a wounded wail. Christine McVie brought a sturdier, though no less Rhiannon was a sparkling example of the radio-friendly new Mac,
tractable, alto. Buckingham, meanwhile, brought a Cali-pop sensibility to governed by creamy harmonies, finger-picked guitar and John McVie’s
his lead vocals and guitar work that finally unshackled the band from their sinuous bass groove. A supernatural tale, inspired by Mary Leader’s novel
blues-rock past. Triad, Nicks claimed to have written it at her piano in 10 minutes.
As they began work on a new album – the plainly titled Fleetwood Mac an “I still have the cassette tape of when I was first writing it,” she told
indicator of this ground-zero dawn – the band suddenly sounded like Classic Rock. “Lindsey came in and I said, ‘We have to go to a park and record
GETTY

40 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
“We forced ourselves
into a pressing
creative world. That’s
a lot to ask when you
just want to get
the sound of birds rising.’ And he looked at me Given the band’s previous crises – the loss and
like I was crazy.” a dagger and stick it debilitation of Peter Green and Danny Kirwan, the
All the more remarkable when you consider that
Rhiannon became one of Fleetwood Mac’s most
in his or her back.” lack of sales, a dwindling fan base and, of course, the
sorry saga of the bogus line-up – it seemed as though
enduring songs, emblematic of their sound post-Peter Mick Fleetwood it was all bouquets for Fleetwood Mac at last. But
Green. “There’s something to that song that touches another messy narrative was already unfolding.
people,” Nicks said in 1976. “I don’t know what it is, There had been tensions in the studio. John McVie,
but I’m really glad it happened.” for example, had taken issue with Lindsey
Buckingham’s sometimes dictatorial methods at Sound

F
leetwood Mac’s transition from blokey blues outcasts to City, particularly his insistence that he teach the rhythm section
mainstream superstars wasn’t quite the overnight success that their parts. McVie told him firmly: “The band you’re in is Fleetwood
revisionist history tends to depict. Mac. I’m the Mac. And I play the bass.”
Released in July ’75, the Fleetwood Mac album took some time to gain This was nothing, however, compared to the relationship problems that
traction. The quintet toured the US for six months after completing it, the were afoot. John and Christine McVie were on the brink of divorce,
hard miles spent on the road eventually paying off when Over My Head Fleetwood was going through the same thing, and it transpired that
made the US Billboard Top 20 early the following year. In June ’76, Rhiannon Buckingham and Nicks’s relationship was floundering too. Fleetwood
peaked at No.11 in the US, but it barely scraped into the Top 50 in the UK. had at first viewed them as “the perfect bohemian couple”, but the reality
The Mac had to wait until September before the album itself topped the US was very different. Fleetwood Mac would prove to be rock’s most tangled
chart. Only Peter Frampton’s Frampton Comes Alive! outsold it that year. soap opera.

CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 41
“Tusk was the most
important album we
made because it
drew a line in the
The stars of the soap opera that
was Fleetwood Mac in the mid-70s: sand that, for me, you’re feeling so hurt you just want to get a dagger
(l-r) Stevie Nicks, Lindsey
Buckingham, John McVie, Mick defined the way and stick it in his or her back.”
Fleetwood, Christine McVie. It’s to Fleetwood Mac’s lasting credit that they were
I still think today.” somehow able to unite all this fragmentation into
Lindsey Buckingham a cohesive whole. Musically, Rumours builds on the

B
y the time they all began work on follow-up driving AOR of its predecessor, adding richer blends,
album Rumours in early 1976, the atmosphere bigger harmonies and a near-perfect consistency of
within Fleetwood Mac was volatile. These acoustic and electric textures. The songs,
interpersonal tensions were only heightened by the unsurprisingly, are almost all about relationships. Don’t
ubiquity of booze and drugs. Cocaine was plentiful in the Stop was Christine McVie’s attempt to inject a little positivity
studio. Inside the Record Plant in Sausalito, co-producer Ken Caillat into the band’s perilous emotional state; an infectious singalong
witnessed the creative toxicity first-hand. “It was like being trapped inside that banished pessimism to the four winds: ‘Don’t stop thinking about
a tornado,” he told Classic Rock in 2007. “Some moments we were in the eye tomorrow/Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here/It’ll be here better than before/Yesterday’s gone,
of the storm and all was calm, people were laughing and joking… yesterday’s gone.’
A moment later everything changed and people were screaming at each Another Christine McVie song, Oh Daddy, was supposedly written in
other, breaking things; assistants were running for cover.” honour of Mick Fleetwood’s temporary reunion with his wife, although
According to Record Plant owner Chris Stone, speaking to Billboard in conflicting stories say it was another song for Curry Grant.
1997: “The band would come in at seven at night, have a big feast, party till Buckingham’s Second Hand News and Go Your Own Way both addressed
one or two in the morning, and then when they were so whacked-out they the fallout from his failed relationship with Nicks. The former was
couldn’t do anything, they’d start recording.” a carefree rebound anthem about finding comfort in the arms of others.
There were factions within factions: John McVie, Fleetwood and The latter carried a similarly upbeat tone, and stunning three-way
Buckingham were living in a house nearby, while Nicks and Christine harmonies that arrived on the back of a rhythm inspired by the Stones’
McVie shared a small apartment. Street Fighting Man. Nicks was unhappy about some of Go Your Own Way’s
The McVies had decided to limit their communication with one another lyrics, particularly ‘Packing up/Shacking up’s all you wanna do.’ “I very much
to matters of music only. Yet even that detente was severely tested when resented him telling the world that ‘packing up, shacking up’ with different
Christine started seeing the band’s lighting director, Curry Grant. men was all I wanted to do,” she complained to Rolling Stone. “He knew it
Distraught, John threw himself into the bottle. The situation wasn’t exactly wasn’t true. It was just an angry thing that he said.” But Buckingham
sweetened when Christine wrote You Make Loving Fun as an ode to Grant. refused to amend them.
“I don’t know if John ever really enjoyed the musical aspect of making Among Nicks’s contributions was Gold Dust Woman, a document of
the record,” Caillat remarked. “But he put his head down and delivered like excess, the title referring to cocaine. Dreams concerns itself with her split
a pro. Even while drinking, he never flubbed a line, not once.” from Buckingham, advising her ex-lover to ‘listen carefully to the sound of your
In contrast, Buckingham and Nicks dispensed with civility altogether. loneliness’ and pointing out that women will merely come and go. Even
The only time they weren’t ranting at each other in the studio, by all Nicks’s I Don’t Want To Know, written prior to her joining the band, was very
accounts, was when it came time to do a take. much on theme.
Talking to Classic Rock’s Max Bell in 2013, Fleetwood pondered aloud: Rumours took more than a year to complete, but the time – and pain
“How did we survive making it with all these ex-lovers blowing up in each – was justified. It was an instant success upon its release in February 1977,
other’s faces? It was emotionally charged. We forced ourselves into a one- shooting to the top of the Billboard’s chart. Within 12 months it had sold
on-one, twenty-four-seven, pressing creative world. That’s a lot to ask nearly 10 million copies, made No.1 in the UK and won a Grammy.
when every time you look at someone your heart is in your mouth, or Alongside The Eagles’ Hotel California, it represented the commercial apex
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42 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
“Some moments
we were in the eye of
of West Coast soft rock during the 70s. It has gone
on to achieve worldwide sales of more than 40 the storm and all
million. Mick Fleetwood has suggested that the
romance of Rumours lies in its voyeurism.
was calm, a moment
later, people

T
he overwhelming success of Rumours only million dollars, a then-record sum for a rock album.
accelerated the band’s indulgent behaviour. were screaming He also retained the services of regular co-producers
Their new luxury lifestyle meant private jets, at each other, Richard Dashut and Ken Caillat.
a fleet of limos and outrageous tour riders (according “He was a maniac,” Caillat said of Buckingham.
to Fleetwood, Nicks demanded a pink room with breaking things.” “He’d tape microphones to the studio floor and get
a white piano). Cocaine was bought in bulk. In into a sort of push-up position to sing. Early on, he
Ken Caillat, co-producer
a move that echoed Pink Floyd’s appropriation of came in and he’d freaked out in the shower and cut
a giant pig, Fleetwood commissioned a 60-foot off all his hair with nail scissors. He was stressed.”
penguin to float over the stage at their vast outdoor A big wedge of the budget was spent the album’s
shows. “We were pleasantly out of control,” he said. title track, Tusk, semi-tribal gallop that evolved from
Fleetwood Mac may have conquered America (and half a simple Buckingham riff that the band had been playing at
the world), but they did so despite themselves. Intra-band relations sound-checks. They recorded the 112-piece USC Trojan Marching
refused to run any smoother. Fleetwood and Nicks began a wild affair, Band at LA’s Dodger Stadium to give the song some added oomph. If your
Christine McVie became involved with Beach Boy Dennis Wilson and ears are so attuned, you might also be able to make out the sound of
John McVie took solace on his boat in Marina Del Ray. Fleetwood slapping a leg of lamb with a spatula. Luckily for the band,
Buckingham, meanwhile, had immersed himself in his home studio, Warner Bros slept easier when the song became a huge transatlantic hit in
where he began plotting their next album. By his own admission it was September 1979, a month before the album was released.
an intense period that also saw him start to unravel. He was particularly The Tusk album was a sometimes incongruous mix of tones and styles.
mindful of being trapped by expectations in the wake of Rumours’ Songs like the exquisite Sara and Sisters Of The Moon, both written by Nicks,
commercial performance. “We really were poised to make Rumours 2, and felt like natural, very Mac-like extensions of Rumours. Others felt like
that could’ve been the beginning of kind of painting yourself into a corner separate individual visions, from Christine McVie’s downbeat Over And Over
in terms of living up to the labels that were being placed on you as a band,” to a variety of Buckingham songs – the ruminative That’s All For Everyone, the
he told Billboard in 2015. folk-indebted Save Me A Place, the faintly psychedelic Not That Funny.
Against Warner Bros’ wishes, the next album was envisaged as a double Compared to Rumours, Tusk was greeted like an expensive folly. Sales
album. Buckingham had become fascinated by the edginess and innovation might have been highly respectable (four million copies worldwide), but
of post-punk and new wave, absorbing the music of Talking Heads, The the suits at Warner Bros deemed it a relative failure, citing Buckingham’s
Clash and others. Rumours hadn’t been without its avant-garde moments – jet recklessness. Nevertheless, it was an artistic triumph and a global hit, a feat
phasers, Fleetwood hammering sheets of glass on Gold Dust Woman – but all the more impressive for being much pricier than a standard double LP.
Buckingham wanted to take his musical experiments to a whole other level. For Buckingham, however, it represented something far more valuable
He made obsessive home recordings, fiddling about with varying tape speeds, at the end of a bust-to-boom decade that had threatened to turn
placing microphones in his bathroom and using a Kleenex box as percussion. Fleetwood Mac into just another commodity. “Tusk was the most
Fleetwood Mac spent a fortune doing up their own Studio D at Village important album we made,” he told City Pages in 2011, “because it drew
Recorder in LA. Installing himself as executive producer, Buckingham a line in the sand that, for me, defined the way I still think today. I was
presided over sessions that lasted well over a year, at a cost in excess of one trying to pave some new territory for us.”

CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 43
With drug use rampant in the band, it’s no
surprise that the 80s and 90s delivered them
some dizzying highs and crashing comedowns.
Words: Mick Wall

GETTY
A
t the end of the Tusk tour in 1980, Fleetwood Mac was over. fairy stories, including her own The Golden Fox Of The Last Fox Hunt; and an
Blown away on the tides of cocaine, money, madness, and autobiography full of “the love affairs, the heartaches, the tragedies, the
a bloated double-album that appeared to do everything it incredible happiness” of her life with Fleetwood Mac – that she only had
could to distance itself from the winning, grinning, sinning time to contribute three songs. One of those, That’s Alright, was a hand-
So-Cal sound of Rumours. me-down from her Buckingham Nicks days. Another, Straight Back,
Over-influenced by the sudden ascendance of punk, Lindsey sounded like a well-meaning reject from Bella Donna. The third, though,
Buckingham had cut his hair, shaved his beard and bent over backwards Gypsy, was classic Stevie Nicks. Wistful, swirly and witchy, it gave the band
to try to bring Fleetwood Mac up to speed with the new now sound of another huge Rumours-style hit. That, plus the equally sublime McVie and
the delusional late 70s. The irony that this was achieved in a $1.5 million Buckingham co-sung hit, Hold Me, elevated the new album, Mirage, to
purpose-built studio was apparently lost on him. No.1 in the US. The album still didn’t sell even a tenth of what Rumours had
Now, in the aftermath of the relative commercial failure of Tusk, and done, but the Mac were back – like Tusk and coke and infidelity and deep
a tortuous year-long world tour that had left all five members in a hurry pockets had never intervened. Well, almost.
to get as far away from each other as possible, prospects for any sort of

“W
follow-up were thin, to say the least. hen I’m writing my songs, or just writing in my journal,
Indeed, the next five years were to be so grim for Mick Fleetwood that I feel like the spirits are right here in the room with me,
by 1985 he had sold his mansion, his flash car collection, even all his helping guide my hand,” Nicks told me one night,
gold and platinum records, and now slept on a cot in the back room of reclining on plush sofa cushions at her candlelit Hollywood Castle home.
Mac producer Richard Dashut’s Laurel Canyon home. He was bankrupt, “Not ghosts, more like… good feelings. Strong emotions, from the past,
divorced, and so addled on coke that the only people he still spoke to on from the future.”
a regular basis were the voices in his head. Emotions that she wasted no time putting into her second solo album,
“I’d been down before, in the years after Peter Green left and we 1983’s The Wild Heart. Mirage may have reestablished Fleetwood Mac as
struggled to stay afloat,” he said. “But never anything quite like this.” a commercial force, but it did nothing to discourage Nicks, Buckingham
In 1985, the dogged keeper of the Fleetwood Mac flame – the man who and now Christine McVie from instantly moving on to solo projects once
had co-founded the group and been its driving force for nearly 20 the subsequent tour – just 29 shows in two months – was over.
years – found it almost impossible to imagine how he would ever Buckingham quickly moved on to make his second solo
fight his way back from this form of “extended hotel hell”. album, Go Insane – quirky, poppy, unashamedly MTV-
How had it happened? How had things got to this? focused – which flopped. McVie had a minor solo hit
with Got A Hold On Me, which was Fleetwood Mac by

I
f Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks had been any other name.
the catalyst for Fleetwood Mac’s evolution from “I’d been down The only one who was content to lie back in the
has-been British bluesers into Californian soft- shadows and wait for the heat to drop was John
rock exemplars – the magic sauce that nurtured the before, in the years McVie. He did some old-pals-act, jamming with
hits and reinvented the Mac’s grizzly old image – it after Peter Green John Mayall and Mick Taylor, reviving memories
was Buckingham and Nicks who used the early-80s, of his Bluesbreakers beginnings. He became, in his
post-Tusk era to parlay new, more exciting solo left and we struggled words, “a gagster” around LA, whenever he could
careers for themselves. be bothered to stick his head out the door. Mainly,
Buckingham had sacrificed himself for Mac’s
to stay afloat, but though, he hung out on his boat, soaking up the rays.
giant success for long enough, he now decided. It never anything As before, Nicks was the only one of the band’s
was time for him to go it alone, unbound by such front three to score heavily solo. And the only one,
trite demands as hit singles and release deadlines. quite like this.” ironically, to really move the musical board on from
He wanted to make art, and Fleetwood Mac was no Mick Fleetwood the classic floaty Mac sound. Collaborating with
longer the place for him to do it. Prince on The Wild Heart – hence the preponderance
His next stop was Solo City – and a US Top 10 hit of squelchy synths and drum machines – she had
in his own right, Trouble. another top-five hit with Stand Back, lifting the album
“Mick was a little bit bitter about me leaving,” the to double-platinum status. Similarly, the yet-more-
famously strong-headed guitarist put it at the time. “But if platinum 1985 follow-up, Rock A Little, in 1985, and the
Mick and I see each other, there’s nothing wrong. The chemistry is top-four single Talk To Me.
there – that’s what the band was all about in the first place.” But by now Nicks’s health – and decision-making – was faltering.
Indeed. And a statement that left the door nicely ajar for any future Having inexplicably turned down the song These Dreams, written
rapprochement. especially for her by Elton John lyricist Bernie Taupin and multi-star
Nicks, however, appeared to have other ideas. She was 32 in 1980, and collaborator Martin Page, she then suffered the ignominy of seeing Heart
ready for “a big new adventure”. She was also the biggest female singing take the writers’ second choice version to No.1. Her voice had also gone
star in the world, had recently taken on a new manager, the all-powerful from lamb’s-blood cool to wrinkled cat lady, the result in no small part
Irving Azoff, also then manager of the Eagles, and destined to become one of her years of cocaine abuse. That and the brandy, champagne and
of the major music biz players of the century. When Irving told Nicks that a ferocious cigarette habit.
now was her time to strike out on her own, she knew he was right. “All of us were drug addicts, but there was a point where I was the
“There’s the wild side to me and the free side,” she explained in 1982. worst drug addict,” she would later recall of the period. “I was a girl, I was
“As I get a little older and a little wiser, there’s still the wild side that doesn’t fragile, and I was doing a lot of coke. And I had that hole in my nose. So it
want any discipline whatsoever in her life, and the part of me that knows was dangerous.”
the only way I can get to people is not to be so terribly out of control, to At the end of her ’86 solo tour, she checked into the Betty Ford clinic,
balance the two.” and came out with a repeat prescription for the tranquilliser Klonopin
Or put another way, if her solo career didn’t take off, she knew she could – given to her by a certain “Doctor Fuckhead!” she scowled – which she
always go back to Fleetwood Mac. Only Nicks’s career did take off, her solo also then became addicted to. Word was she had to have rhinoplasty to
debut, Bella Donna, going to No.1 in America and selling nearly five million fix her coke-rotted septum. She also suffered long bouts of chronic fatigue
copies, and including three hit singles, with the first, Stop Draggin’ My Heart syndrome following the removal of her silicone breast implants.
Around, becoming Nicks’s biggest hit song since Dreams four years earlier. “They made me very, very sick,” she told one writer. “I had them done in
By 1982, as Fleetwood Mac gradually reconvened to make a new album, December 1976. I’d only been in Fleetwood Mac one year and I was getting
Nicks was so busy – planning a musical based on Bella Donna that would a lot of attention. I had always thought my hips were too big and that I had
be “like the Othello of the eighties”; a ballet based on Rhiannon, or possibly no chest.”
a film version with Nicks as the titular heroine; a collection of children’s Now her problem was no self-esteem.

CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 45
Ghost in the machine: Stevie
Nicks rarely attended the
“All of us were drug Tango In The Night sessions.

addicts, but there


Meanwhile, Mick Fleetwood’s problem was no
anything. He had also tried for some semblance
was a point where craved the kind of bright-white-lights attention a new
Mac album would give him.
of a solo career, with The Visitor, No.43 in 1981, I was the worst drug Christine and John McVie were happy to collude.
and I’m Not Here, which came and went in 1983 Fleetwood Mac had been their lives. They wanted it
without troubling the charts at all. The latter was
addict. I was a girl, to revive as much as anyone. As for Nicks…
billed as Mick Fleetwood’s Zoo, named after his I was fragile.
T
three-million-dollar pad The Blue Whale in Ramirez he album, titled Tango In The Night – an oblique
Canyon. “A huge house built around a pool,” It was dangerous.” reference to the various forms of ‘tango’ the
which he said quickly “turned into a real zoo” of Stevie Nicks band members indulged in during the
dealers, groupies and after-midnight shenanigans. moonlit hours, aka ‘dancing with the ice queen’, ‘no
Neighbours included Barbra Streisand and Don blow no show’ etc – would eventually take more than
Henley, but the entourage at the a year to complete. Yet during that time Stevie Nicks
house became “a pool of leeches”. spent less than two weeks in the studio. Then when she
Now bankrupt to the tune of eight did, she was so bumped-up, yanked-down, spun-around
million dollars, by 1986 Fleetwood was desperate that she found the process turgid, boring, a drag, man. “I can
to get the Mac money machine up and running again. remember going up there and not being happy to even be there,” she later
He began by re-establishing his personal relationship admitted. “I guess I didn’t go very often.”
with Lindsey Buckingham. The guitarist, who’d recently In fairness, she had been on the road touring for some of the time, been
begun preliminary work on his next solo album with in rehab for some of the rest of the time, but mainly she was simply ill.
Richard Dashut, invited Fleetwood – still living at From the drugs, from the withdrawal, from the implant infection, from
Dashut’s house – to work on some of the demos. the life she now found herself living as he spiralled into her late-thirties,
“I had some ambivalence about Mick,” Buckingham alone and vulnerable.
confessed. “He was clearly into my album, and yet I knew It’s all there on the three tracks she wrote for Tango, most notably
he was to a substantial degree instigating this whole Welcome To The Room Sara, based on her month-long stay at the Betty Ford
band thing. I couldn’t be mad at Centre, where she had checked in under the name
him, because Fleetwood Mac is his Taking Nicks’s place: Sara Anderson. The line: ‘Front line baby/Well you held
lifeblood, really. He’s spent his whole Bekka Bramlett. her prisoner,’ was in reference to her management
life trying to keep the ship afloat.” company, Front Line, whom she now blamed for
When the sessions then evolved into a nascent working her too hard – the classic rock star response
Fleetwood Mac album, Buckingham allowed it to to allowing money and fame, and all the ‘fun’ that
happen. “Everyone has said to me: ‘This is going to went with it, to fuck them up. It’s there again in the
be a good thing for you,’” he said, acting nonchalant, dreary, feeling-sorry-for-yourself ballad When I See
“and, of course, you kind of are suspicious of their You Again, singing about ‘the dream is gone/So she stays
motives, too. I’m a suspicious guy.” up nights on end.’ Not much better was the funk-lite
The truth was that, like the rest of the band – Nicks, Seven Wonders, which Prince had perked up for her.
excepted – Buckingham hadn’t enjoyed significant Nicks was so utterly absent from the Tango sessions
commercial success since Mirage four years earlier. that when she sat down with the band to listen to
He may not have been broke like Fleetwood, but he the first official playback she had a major freak-out
GETTY x2

46 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
The Behind The Mask Mac, now
because, she screamed: “It’s like I’m not even on this record. I can’t hear with guitarists Rick Vito (bottom
myself at all.” To which Christine McVie replied dryly: “We wanted you left) and Billy Burnett (right).
to sing on it too. But you weren’t here. Now why don’t you just say you’re
sorry and we’ll work it out.”
At which point, according to Mick Fleetwood in his 1990 memoir,
“Quite gracefully, Stevie capitulated in front of the whole band and we
gleefully layered her vocals into the mix of the album. Stevie had been
right after all, and so had Christine.”
In fact several of her vocal tracks had been deliberately taken out of
the mix by Buckingham, because she’d been drunk when she did them.
Instead he used a Fairlight sampling synth to assemble some of her vocals.
“I had to pull performances out of words and lines and make parts that
sounded like her that weren’t her,” Buckingham later claimed.
It was a shame, as the rest of Tango In The Night contained some of the
Mac’s best work since Rumours. Family Man, a Buckingham classic originally
intended for his solo album became one of the album’s six singles. He also
wrote and sang lead on the album’s most insistent hit, Big Love.
Christine McVie was also back on winning form, writing and singing
the album’s other huge hit, Little Lies, a song that would once have begged
for a Stevie Nicks vocal, here delivered with all the sugared aplomb of
a true pro. Ditto Everywhere. This stuff was radio heaven, the kind of fluffy
cloud-bouncing singalongs the Mac could again now be counted on to commercial dud. On it there were no hits, no give-a-shits, and although it
keep the big wheels of the record industry rolling. entered the UK chart at No.1 it dive-bombed thereafter and barely made
Released in 1987, Tango In The Night became the second-biggest-selling the US Top 20.
album of Fleetwood Mac’s career after Rumours, selling more than two Both Nicks and Vito split, and Fleetwood dug deep again, this time
million copies in Britain alone. Surely, even with doubts about Nicks’s bringing in guitarist Dave Mason, the former Traffic/Hendrix/solo artist/
health still in the balance, the late-80s would be a new epoch for the band session slinger, and Bekka Bramlett. The daughter of American duo
now celebrating its 20th anniversary? Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett, Bekka was a leggy blonde 25-year-old
It was – but not in the way any of them would have liked. Because who didn’t have a voice as distinctive as Nicks’s but she was almost half
just as they were about to begin a nine-month world tour, in September, her age and sure looked good. This line-up also released just one album,
Lindsey Buckingham decided he couldn’t go through with it and abruptly 1995’s Time, which became the worst-selling Fleetwood Mac album since
left the band. Penguin more than 20 years before. While on the road, the once magnetic
Cue panic, fury, bitter recriminations, and so many different versions Fleetwood Mac now found itself sandwiched onto a nostalgia package
of what happened that have come out over the years since that it’s almost tour, between REO Speedwagon and Pat Benatar.
impossible to know which tells the most truth. What everyone Buckingham’s next solo album, Out Of The Cradle had come
– even Fleetwood and Buckingham – seems to agree on is that out in 1992 – the same year Bill Clinton came to power on the
Buckingham bailed because he just couldn’t stand the back of Don’t Stop – but was a complete flop. Even John
thought of going back on tour with a band that McVie put out a solo album in 1992, not that anyone
still believed in all the ‘old-school’ ways of life on noticed. For a while, it really did look like no one was
the road: dusty rose nostrils, white-walled eyes, getting out of this story alive.
brandy of the damned tongues and hundred-dollar-
“I couldn’t be mad at No one – not even tunnel-visioned Mick
bill shoelaces. Mick, because Fleetwood – could have predicted that there would
Promises were made to him, inducement offered, be yet more comebacks to come in the new century.
and then accusations and threats that culminated in Fleetwood Mac is his Instead, when I visited Stevie
Buckingham calling Nicks “a schizophrenic bitch”
and throwing her over the bonnet of a car. “You’re
lifeblood, really. He’s Nicks in the early 90s, at her home
hidden deep in the Hollywood
a bunch of selfish bastards!” Fleetwood recalls the spent his whole life hills, I found the lady of the house
guitarist yelling at them as he left. in quiet repose. There was no
Afterwards, John McVie merely shrugged: “It
trying to keep the ‘significant other’ present, just
didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out this was ship afloat.” a bunch of giggling middle-aged
gonna happen.” female friends, all dressed to the
But Fleetwood, the old trouper, who had dealt Lindsey Buckingham nines in teeny-weeny cocktail
with Peter Green at his most psychotic, who had dresses, drinking from fluted
dealt with other prima-donna guitarists walking wine glasses, submerged in the
out in favour of solo careers, who had kept the creaking dancing shadows of a house lit only by
Fleetwood Mac ship on its unsteady but direct course thousands of tiny candles.
for two decades, shouted everybody down. He gave it the old stiff She showed me round the house, every room,
upper and lip and announced: “We’ve got a bloody great record, and stairway, cupboard, hidey-hole, nook, cranny, even
we’re gonna look like a lot of bloody idiots if we don’t go on the road. Let’s the bathrooms and toilets with their gold fixtures and
keep our momentum going and use it to find new people.” fittings. Then we came to the bedrooms. There weren’t
And that’s what they did. that many, actually. Then we got to her bedroom. She pointed to the four-
poster bed on which sat dozens of Teddy bears, dolls and stuffed animals.

T
he 1990s would provide for a strange kind of afterlife for Later we settled on a couch and she told me how she believed in
Fleetwood Mac. Fleetwood had desperately attempted to reinvent reincarnation. How she still loved Buckingham and Fleetwood – and
the wheel again, bringing in singer-guitarists Rick Vito and Billy others, right back to her earliest teenage crushes. She showed me her
Burnette to what was now the band’s eleventh line-up. But not even two journal, which she had kept for years, full of dry-pressed flowers and her
guys could fill the tremendous Buckingham-shaped hole in the soul of “secret thoughts” and poetry.
the band, and though Fleetwood Mac toured successfully enough, I asked if she could ever see herself back in Fleetwood Mac one day.
chartering their own Boeing 727 aeroplane, the only album this line-up “No,” she she said, smiling. “Unless, you know…”
made together, 1990’s Behind The Mask, proved to be an artistic and Oh, I knew.
ALAMY

CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 47
The
Rebound
Years
Buckingham and Nicks returned to the band, Christine
McVie left, Christine returned… and another series of
episodes of rock’s longest-running soap opera were written.
Words: Dave Everley

T
here’s a theory that Fleetwood Mac operate on a 10-year cycle, Missing person: Nicks
one that reaches peak success, maximum drama or was at first unwilling to
a combination of both whenever the year ends in a seven. carry on without
Christine in the band.
Since they formed in 1967, much of the band’s career has
worked to that schedule. The year 1977 produced the world-
beating Rumours, a soft rock masterpiece that played out against
a backdrop of romantic complication and personal psychodrama. In 1987
it was Tango In The Night, a Yuppie-era landmark created amid struggles
with drug addiction and barely suppressed acrimony that precipitated the
departure of Lindsey Buckingham before the album had barely cooled on
the shelves. Then 1997 was no less chaotic, with Buckingham returning for
a lucrative live reunion, only for Christine McVie to bail soon afterwards.
If 2007 and 2017 – so far – have bucked this trend, it isn’t for lack of
trying. The past 20 years of Fleetwood Mac have been no less eventful than
their first 30, albeit for different reasons. The tangled relationships that exist
between the five members – and especially between Buckingham and
Stevie Nicks – continue to define the group as much as their music.
“There’s a subtext of love between us, and it would be hard to deny that
much of what we’ve accomplished had something to do with trying to
prove something to each other,” Buckingham said in 2013. “Maybe that’s
fucked up, but this is someone I’ve known since I was
sixteen, and on some weird level we’re still trying to work
some things out.”
Or as drummer Mick Fleetwood neatly put it: “This
band is the most abused franchise in the music business.”

M
id-way through the 90s, Fleetwood Mac were
in trouble. Their last studio album, 1995’s
pallid Time had been a disaster. It wheezed into members of Fleetwood Mac never allowed them to truly escape each
the lower reaches of the British charts for one week, and didn’t even make other. Within weeks of putting things to bed, Fleetwood began working
the US Top 200 – unthinkable only a few years before. with Buckingham on his new solo album, soon pulling John and Christine
The problem was simple: there was no Lindsey Buckingham and no McVie into their orbit.
MAIN: DALLE/ICONICPIX; INSET: GEMA-ICONICPIX

Stevie Nicks. It might have said ‘Fleetwood Mac’ on the record sleeve, but Nicks hadn’t been idle during her time away from Mac, and by 1996 she
this was a pale imitation of the real thing. was clean and, more surprisingly, collaborating with Buckingham again
After the band found themselves on a soulless US package tour, Mick on Twisted, a song for the disaster movie Twister.
Fleetwood decided that enough was enough. “It was starting to be too With Buckingham at the centre of things it was only a matter of time
much hard work,” he said a few years later. “We made an album that was before the fragments of Fleetwood Mac were pieced back together. “Lindsey
a total failure and I couldn’t see myself starting all over. So we stopped.” was very much the focus of it all,” acknowledged Fleetwood. “I’ve gotten
Except it wasn’t that simple. The weird bond that existed between the real close to him over the last year, to a place we’ve never been before.”

48 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
Holding it all together: Mick
Fleetwood is the only ever-present
member of Fleetwood Mac.

“This band is the


most abused
Nicks was similarly effusive. “He and I are probably Buckingham said. “I think the time apart helped us
better friends than we’ve been in a long time,” he said franchise in the appreciate each other. This has always been a group
of Fleetwood. “We had some really nice talks and of people you can say maybe didn’t belong in the
some nice moments that were so sweet.”
music business.” same band together, but it’s the synergy that makes it
In March 1997, the inevitable happened: the Mick Fleetwood so magical. We were able to see that more clearly.”
Rumours line-up announced officially that they For Stevie Nicks, it wasn’t so straightforward. She
would be reuniting for a tour later that year. reflected that while the magic was still there on stage,
Fleetwood Mac’s 10-year cycle was running on time. off stage it was a different matter. The simmering
tensions between the singer and her old boyfriend had

T
he first proper Fleetwood Mac concert to feature both never truly cooled, and their relationship was trapped in a near-
Buckingham and Nicks since 1982 took place on May 23, 1997 at adolescent cycle of mutual adoration, frustration and enmity.
the Warner Brothers Studios in Los Angeles. Filmed for an MTV “It’s like the old days, because our spirits never really change,” she
special and billed as The Dance – a name that could be read as a reflected in 2001. “It really is wonderful. It’s just not wonderful when the
celebration of the reunion or a comment on the behind-the-scenes politics affair comes off stage. You can be in love on stage and that’s fine, but as
involved with it – the show was a hybrid of the old and the new, mixing soon as you mess up and take it off stage you don’t want to talk to people,
stripped-down versions of 70s and 80s staples with a handful of new you don’t want to stand next to them and you don’t want them to put their
tracks. Two of those songs in particular, Buckingham’s stinging My Little arm around you.”
Demon and the wistful Nicks-penned Say You Will, suggested Fleetwood This time, though, their rocky friendship was the least of the problems.
had a viable future beyond this gig. That was proven when the attendant Halfway through the tour, Christine McVie dropped a bombshell: she
album went to No.1 in the US. After a turbulent few years, the train was wanted out. “She flipped out and said: ‘I just can’t do this any more, I’m
back on the rails. having panic attacks,’” said Nicks. “She sold her house and her car and her
Predictably, a full tour followed. Publicly, the line being peddled was that piano and moved back to England.”
they had all grown and matured since the tumult of the 70s and 80s. “The Christine had effectively retired from Fleetwood Mac, and indeed from
craziness that existed in eighty-seven and eighty-eight was gone,” music altogether. Her departure upset the delicate power balance

CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 49
Being inducted into the
Rock And Roll Hall Of
Fame in 1998.

Fleetwood Mac came out of


hiatus to perform at an MTV
special, billed as The Dance,
on May 23, 1997.

within the band even more than Buckingham and Nicks’s departure had sound. Here, his protean songwriting and guitar playing wrong-footed
done years before. anyone expecting Rumours Revisited or Tango In The Night 2. Indeed Red Rover
“She is the magic mediator,” said Nicks. “She’s the one that made light of and the bursts of borderline heavy-metal noise on Come sounded more like
everything and made everybody laugh and told us we were all full of shit. Buckingham solo tracks than Mac songs. Not everyone was entirely
She was the person who made it all work.” comfortable with this shift in focus.
Christine took her bow at the beginning of 1998 when Fleetwood Mac “It was a nightmare doing that record,” Nicks later said of Say You Will.
were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame and received “It really was Lindsey’s vision and it wasn’t very much about the other
a Lifetime Achievement award at the Brits a few weeks later. “We’d said our three of us. And of course it was the first record we had ever attempted to
goodbyes in America,” she said later. “We just all slipped away into the do without Christine. Right there, the whole thing was completely insane.”
night.” For once in Fleetwood Mac’s career, there was no drama. The public didn’t share her concerns, however. They were just happy to
McVie’s departure effectively pushed the stand-by button on Fleetwood have a new album from this most iconic of ‘American’ groups, and pushed
Mac for the next few years, even if Buckingham and Nicks couldn’t keep Say You Will into the US Top 5.
out of each other’s lives. In 2001, Nicks released a solo album, Trouble In While the band presented a united front in public, the old strains soon
Shangri-La, which featured Buckingham on one track, the aptly titled came bubbling back. They may have been heading towards their
I Miss You. sixtieth birthdays, but Buckingham and Nicks were still behaving
Buckingham himself had been stockpiling songs like squabbling teenagers.
during the 90s and early 00s, even bringing in his “On the Say You Will tour we were always fighting,”
bandmates to play on some of them. In 2000 he Nicks said in 2011. “Our up-and-down relationship
presented an album, Gift Of Screws, to his label, never really changed. It’s no different than it was in
Reprise. Their advice: “Save these songs for “We were always 1976 when we broke up.” (Presumably any psychic
Fleetwood Mac.” Once again, Buckingham’s solo fighting. It’s no wounds were at least partially salved by the $27
career had been hijacked for a greater cause. million the tour reportedly generated.)
different than it With the combustible dynamic at the heart of

T
he songs that started life as a Lindsey Fleetwood Mac having exhausted more than one of
Buckingham solo record mutated into
was in 1976 when its participants, once the tour was over the various
Fleetwood Mac’s seventeenth studio album, we broke up.” members went back to their separate lives. Over the
Say You Will, released in 2003. It had been 16 years next few years, Nicks bounced between lucrative
since Buckingham last appeared on one of the Stevie Nicks Greatest Hits tours and outings with old friends Don
group’s studio albums, and six since The Dance. “It Henley and Tom Petty, while Buckingham finally
took us that long to figure out what the hell we were released a solo album, 2006’s startling Under The Skin,
going to do without Christine,” said Nicks. “Or even if we and settled into the role of left-field auteur. Both patiently
could do it without her.” fielded questions about the future of Fleetwood Mac,
It turned out that they could. Behind The Mask and Time had set although their answers were very different; Buckingham suggested
the bar low, but Say You Will was the sound of a band finally catching up that they might reunite for a tour in 2008, while Nicks was adamant that
with themselves. Far from being a pallid recreation of past glories, tracks she would be unwilling to carry on without Christine McVie.
such as Peacekeeper and the kaleidoscopic Murrow Turning Over In His Grave Nicks won that particular battle of wills, and a reunion failed to
threw off the shackles of nostalgia. materialise, although matters weren’t helped when Nicks’s close friend
McVie wasn’t entirely absent – she sang backing vocals on Bleed To Love Sheryl Crow claimed in 2008 that Fleetwood Mac would be touring the
and Steal Your Heart Away, two tracks that were originally recorded for following year and that she would be involved. Typically, Buckingham
Buckingham’s postponed solo record. And Nicks had her share of denied that Crow’s participation had ever gone beyond a casual
songwriting credits, most notably on the title song and Illume 9-11, conversation, while Nicks insisted otherwise.
a mystical treatise on the World Trade Center attacks, even if the hefty “It was absolutely discussed and she was absolutely invited to join,”
18-track running length carried the whiff of diplomatic tightrope walking Nicks said. “The reason was because I wanted another woman in the band
in order to please everyone. – it’s hard to be in the boys’ club. I explained to Sheryl what it was like to be
Mainly, though, Say You Will was Buckingham’s baby. As far back as Tusk, in the group – that it’s all-encompassing. Like, on the Say You Will tour we
one of his chief roles had been to agitate the traditional Fleetwood Mac went out expecting to do forty shows, and it turned into a hundred and
GETTY x5

50 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
With Fleetwood Mac, you get
“The craziness that
the feeling the story will
never really ever be over…
existed in ’87 and ’88
was gone. Time apart
thirty-five shows. So Sheryl called me and said: ‘I’ll helped us appreciate and the dogs and baking cookies for the YWCA,” she
have to pass.’” each other.” explained of her lengthy hiatus from music. “But
As it turned out, Fleetwood Mac were reactivated then it got so boring. You couldn’t walk down the
in 2009 for a tour. Crow wasn’t involved, and neither Lindsey Buckingham road without meeting two people related to each
was Christine, although she was in the audience for other. I missed the songs. And I missed the audience.”
their show in London. At the same time, a BBC Sure enough, Christine rejoined Fleetwood Mac
documentary cast light on the current state of the officially at the start of 2014. Her return reinstated the
Buckingham-Nicks relationship. “Maybe when we’re group’s best-known line-up, though it did little to ease the
seventy-five and Fleetwood Mac is a distant memory, we might be push-me-pull-you dynamics between two of its chief protagonists.
friends,” said Nicks. “Relations between Lindsey and I are as exactly as they have been
Buckingham held the reins earlier in the decade, but now things had since we broke up,” Nicks said. “He and I will always be antagonising each
become more complicated. A passive-aggressive power struggle played other and we will always do things that will irritate each other, and we
out in the press. In 2011 the guitarist suggested that Fleetwood Mac were really know how to push each other’s buttons. We know exactly what to
ready to return. “We’re doing something for sure,” he said. “I wouldn’t be say when we really want to throw a dagger in.”
shocked if it was a tour and possibly an album. We’ll have to wait and see. Nicks’s ongoing refusal to get involved in a new Fleetwood Mac album
With Fleetwood Mac there’s a lot of land mines out there politically, and wasn’t button-pushing as much as the act of a person determined to retain
it’s hard to get everybody on the same page at the same time, but I think control of their life. But it seemingly frustrated Buckingham, who has
this might be one of those years where everyone will want to do the same subsequently attempted to persuade, cajole and plead with his on-off
thing. Whatever that is.” partner into re-engage with the process. His suggestion in 2015 that
Nicks felt differently. She decided to instead concentrate on her solo Fleetwood Mac were entering their “last act” read suspiciously like an
album, In Your Dreams. In his very polite, very British way, Mick Fleetwood attempt at a guilt trip. But still Nicks has refused to budge.
put the blame for the inaction at the Nicks’s feet. “For now she refuses to In terms of their own 10-year-cycle, 2017 has been relatively quiet.
do a Fleetwood Mac tour. It’s down to her,” he said in 2012. “I don’t believe Evidently tired of waiting, Buckingham and Christine McVie released an
Fleetwood Mac will ever tour again,” he added pessimistically. album together in June. Comprising material that dates back to 2014 and
featuring appearances from Mick Fleetwood and John McVie, it is

I
n the event, he was wrong on both counts. Nicks changed her mind effectively a Fleetwood Mac record without Stevie Nicks.
and the band hit the road again in 2013. They even had a new EP to But the story of “the most abused franchise in music” is still being
promote, the prosaically titled Extended Play, comprising three songs written. A new tour featuring the Rumours line-up has been announced for
from Buckingham and one from Nicks. 2018. Mick Fleetwood recently said that they are sitting on “a huge amount
If that was a surprise, then it was nothing compared to what happened of recorded music”, although “virtually none of it” features Nicks. Given
next. When the tour reached London, they were joined on stage by an the constant state of flux Fleetwood Mac exist in, only a fool would rule
unexpected guest: the supposedly retired Christine McVie, who pitched in out the notion of it ever appearing.
on a rapturously received Don’t Stop. “God knows, our lives are unimaginable without each other,” Mick
“I had this idea that I’d love the small village life, with the Range Rover Fleetwood has said. It was true in 1977, it’s even more so today.

CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 51
Dave Grohl was supposed to spend 2017 licking his wounds.
Instead he retreated into the wilderness, loaded up on wine and wrote
a schizophrenic new Foo Fighters album exploring his darkest thoughts.
Interview: Marcel Anders

E
ven a steaming hangover can’t slow Dave Grohl But when he dethroned each night, Grohl struggled.
down. It’s a summer’s day in Los Angeles, and “We did fifty or sixty shows after I’d broken my leg and I had
although the frazzled Foo Fighter rolls into a blast. The shows where I was sitting in that ridiculous
the band’s Studio 606 clad entirely in black, his throne thing, I fucking loved it. But those were the best three
conversation is the usual kaleidoscope of themes. hours of the day. It was the other twenty-one hours that were
His kids. Metallica. Animal from The Muppets. And, above all a challenge, because I was on crutches or in a wheelchair. So
these, the fiercely ambitious ninth album, Concrete And Gold, not only was it physically challenging, but after a while it’s
that will scotch any lingering notion of the Foos as Nirvana- emotionally difficult, so I thought the best thing for the band
lite. “This is something,” he tells us, “I’ve always wanted to do.” would be just to stop and get away from it for a while. We’ve
By rights, Grohl shouldn’t be on duty. Recent times have always felt like if we get to the point where it’s just about to
been sufficiently tough for this human dynamo to breathe that snap then we back off and say, ‘We should stop,’ y’know?”
dirtiest of words: hiatus. To recap, there was the tumble from This was to be the year the Foo Fighters lay low, dabbled
a Gothenburg stage back in in rainy-day projects,
June 2015, the broken leg caught up with their long-
and the makeshift set-up suffering families. That was
that saw him installed on “I would drink a bottle of wine never going to work out.
a guitar-bedecked throne. and then scream anything As the sprawling master
“Well, it’s strange,” he tapes and wall-mounted
reflects, “because I remember into a microphone. It was platinum discs of Studio
right after surgery, having 606 attest, since he formed
the phone call with my
like this unfiltered stream the Foos back in 1994,
production crew. We had of consciousness.” downtime has not been
DAN BURN-FORTI/CONTOUR BY GETTY IMAGES ADDITIONAL REPORTING: HENRY YATES

to cancel four or five shows, in Grohl’s vocabulary. The


but we wanted to finish [the tour]. I knew I couldn’t walk for frontman soon found himself feeling rudderless, empty, bereft.
months, so I thought, ‘OK, I’ll sit down.’ And we drew this “I was approaching other projects, like directing movies
diagram and made that crazy throne. and stuff like that, just to do something other than the band,
“The first show sitting in that throne was so fucking weird. but my passion wasn’t the same. And it actually seemed like
I’d never sat down and played a rock show in a stadium. And work, this other project. I’ve never had to manufacture some
I was nervous, but by the end of the show, I thought, ‘That was inspiration to be in the Foo Fighters. It’s always been real.
weird, and I like things that are weird, so let’s do it more.’” And here I was trying to create some inspiration or energy
Grohl’s throne carved out its own small slice of rock’n’roll to do something else. And I realised, like, ‘Oh, that’s what it’s
folklore – especially when it was lent to fellow hobbler Axl like when your heart isn’t one hundred per cent in it.’ It was
Rose. “I went to see Guns N’ Roses and it was a fucking great around then I started to realise, like, the best thing for me
show, but I was sitting there watching them, like, ‘That’s isn’t a break, it’s to make music with the band.
the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen in my life.’ It’s like “It’s hard to spend too much time away,” he says. “I need to
watching a king on a throne just sort of conduct an audience.” play music with these guys. It’s such a big part of my life
CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 53
Game of thrones: the king
of rock puts his feet up.

ever done it before. Like, anywhere you want to go,


he’ll take you farther than you thought you could
go. So if you say, ‘I want this to be really trashy and
noisy,’ then you get a song like La Dee Da, which is
just really, like, fucking noisy. If I say, ‘I want this
to sound really huge, like a choir,’ then you get
a song like Concrete And Gold, where it goes from
being this really spare, dark Black Sabbath riff to
exploding into this mushroom cloud of fucking
choirs. I eventually realised that the [title track]
not only serves as this hopeful finale to the album,
but it also does represent the juxtaposition or the
duality of the sound of the record. There’s that
raw foundation of noisy rock riffs, and then that
beautiful shiny melody and harmony on top.
“I grew up listening to The Beatles when I was
young,” Grohl continues. “The songs I always loved
the most were the ones that were kinda dark and
sinister, like She’s So Heavy. It’s almost like the first
dark metal riff. It’s like, you just close your eyes and
it seems like this fucking sinister, dark vibe. But the
vocals are so beautiful, and the lyrics… I mean, the
harmonies they would stack are so fucking pretty,
and I knew that when I was ten. So that’s sort of
Sane old songs: written into my DNA zipper musically – that’s
“Music is what keeps my first love. And this time, we’ve actually got to
me from going crazy.” the place where I feel satisfied that we did that one
thing that I always wanted to do, y’know?”
that when you’re away from it for six months, eight hit-and-hope variety, that couldn’t be further from

T
months, whatever it is, you actually feel empty in the truth. Described by the line-up as “Motörhead’s hen there’s the Concrete And Gold lyric sheet,
a way. I thought at one point that music was the version of Sgt. Pepper”, this ninth album is the most whose often bleak viewpoint is at odds
thing that was making me exhausted and fucking ambitious of their career, walking a tightrope with Grohl’s sunny-side-up persona, and
up my head. But then after six months, I realised: between savage hard rock and pure pop. The prompted Josh Homme to note: “Finally, Dave’s
‘No, no, no, wait. Music is what keeps me from natural conclusion is that this schizophrenic made a dark album. It was about time.”
going crazy, y’know?’” quality is down to a happy tug-of-war with Greg “Well, I had been watching television and
Kurstin, the producer best-known for his pop thinking about the state of the world and the state

S
o began Concrete And Gold, the new material smashes with Adele and Sia (as well as his own of America,” remembers Grohl, “and I went to
initiated over five days at an Airbnb in Ojai, off-kilter outfit, The Bird And The Bee). Grohl Ojai and fucking turned the television off. I threw
California, says otherwise. the television out the window and just wanted to
where Grohl “It’s something play music; disappear. But yeah, I mean, I think
stripped to his I’ve always the current climate here on planet Earth is a bit
underwear, drank “When we play live and you’ve wanted to do. I’ve disparaging. It seems like there’s so much division
heavily then spat always wanted and conflict that ultimately all I want to do is bring
whatever came got a hundred thousand to make a record everyone together to feel some hope or sing a song.
to mind into people singing along, that’s where musically “When you come to a Foo Fighters show,” he
a portable studio. or instrumentally, continues, “not everybody comes from the same
“When I went to what life’s all about.” or dynamically, place. They’re from all walks of life and different
sing these songs,” it’s really diverse. races, different religions, different nationalities,
he says, “I went into that house in the woods for So every record has its moments of that, whether different languages, but they all manage to come
MAIN: KEVIN NIXON; INSET: GETTY

a week just by myself and I would drink a bottle of it’s the first record, or the second record with stuff together and sing songs with us, and that to me is
wine and then scream anything into a microphone. like February Stars and See You, or In Your Honor, the ultimate goal. I don’t want to divide anyone.
It was like this unfiltered stream of consciousness.” there’s the acoustic side, there’s the rock side. I want there to be this sort of coexistence, though
If Grohl’s testimony suggests that Concrete And “But when I met Greg, I realised he’s the person I feel like there’s a lot of institutions that are placed
Gold is an album of the route-one, three-chord, that’s going to do this bigger and better than we’ve upon us that really split everyone into so many
54 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
FOO FIGHTERS

Foo Fighters: (l-r) Taylor


Hawkins, Pat Smear, Dave
Grohl, Rami Jaffee, Nate
Mendel, Chris Shiflett.

different factions that you forget about basic empowering about that – I felt good about myself young, I really wanted glasses cos my sister had
common human behaviour. that I was different from everyone else. And this them. She had braces and glasses. I was so jealous,
“When I’m writing lyrics, I’m not so politically is in the 80s where there’s this conservative wave cos she had all the accoutrements. And then finally,
direct that it would sound like a Rage Against of politics that was washing over America, with when I turned 40, eight years ago, my optometrist
The Machine album, but what I’m trying to do is the Reagan administration and Reaganomics, and said: ‘Well, you need glasses.’ I was like: ‘Yay!
express frustration at how everyone is so divided. the country was in this state of conflict, because I’m getting glasses!’ Now I’m like: ‘Fuck glasses!’
When we go play live and you’ve got a hundred instead of it being progressive, it seemed regressive. They drive me crazy. If I forget them I can’t read
thousand people singing along to a song, that to And as a forward-thinking fucking alienated freak, menus. I ask people to read me the menu. It’s
me is what life’s all about. Connecting all these I just felt uncomfortable that: wait a minute, I don’t embarrassing. It’s terrible. C’est la vie, mon chéri.”
people with a lyric or a song or whatever. That’s want life to be like it was in the fifties. I want life to Breaking your leg, sitting on that throne, getting
what gives me hope.” be like it is fucking now. Today. glasses… have you ever wondered if you might
Arrows could be interpreted as a call-to-arms “There were times where it was difficult,” he be getting too old for all this? “Oh, I’ve felt like that
against President Trump: a song about a character reflects, “but I felt for the last fifteen
with arrows in his eyes and war on his mind? proud that I didn’t years, y’know?”
“One of the beautiful things about lyrics is just go by the Grohl says, laughing.
that you wind up singing those songs for your same standards as “When I’m writing lyrics, “I remember when
own reasons. Arrows is actually written about my everyone else in we first started the
mother, and the struggles of being a woman and life, and so listening
what I’m trying to do is band, thinking, ‘Well,
a single parent, trying to raise two kids as a public to Psychic TV or express frustration at how I won’t do this in my
school teacher, and the struggles that I’d watch fucking crazy thirties cos I’ll just be
her go through. Dirty Water, I think, is just about industrial music in everyone is so divided.” too old.’ But as you
feeling polluted by that black cloud of oppression. my blue bedroom, play, you don’t think
Y’know, where you’re bleeding dirty water and where I had mistakenly painted Jim Jones on my about that. You just sort of feel like yourself. You
you’re breathing dirty sky, you just kinda feel wall. I didn’t mean to: I was painting his face on probably still feel like you’re twenty-five, until you
polluted by that sort of dark energy.” a bedsheet and it stuck to my wall. So when I tore it see your reflection in a window or a mirror and
Other songs, like the cacophonous La Dee Da, off, all the paint bled through onto my wall. So over you’re like, ‘Oh my God, what happened?’
with its references to cult leader Jim Jones, find my bed, I had this mural of his face for years. And “But no, I don’t think you could put an
Grohl looking inwards and backwards. “That obviously he was a fucking violent, terrible, crazy expiration date on something that still has life.
song is about me as a teenager,” explains Grohl. fucking person… but I wrote that song about how I’ve always felt like there’s still life in this band,
BRANTLEY GUTIERREZ/PRESS

“When I was twelve or thirteen years old, I started I still feel alienated in life in so many ways.” and there’s still songs in the band, and we’re still
discovering hardcore punk rock, underground Grohl is a teenager no longer. At 48, black must a fucking great live band, so I don’t know why
music, and I was alienated from most people in soon give way to grey, the first hint of the ageing we would stop.”
my neighbourhood where I lived. I was the only process announced by his thick black spectacles.
weird punk-rock kid, and there was something “Oh God, it’s the worst,” he hoots. “When I was Concrete And Gold is out now on RCA/Roswell.

CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 55
ANDY EARL/PRESS
From industry sharks to cancer and strokes,
nothing can sink Chris Rea. Rock’s great
survivor looks on the bright side of life.
Words: Henry Yates

F
ew experiences in life are more past you at 180 miles an hour. Even if it did that me go. They’d have let me starve rather than let
humiliating than spluttering up the now it would be incredible. Imagine the relative me go. Because somebody in Los Angeles had told
driveway of Chris Rea’s country perception in 1956. the head of my record company: ‘Never let that
pile in a decrepit Seat Altea. The “They’re not an indulgence,” he stresses of his boy go.’ It was quite sinister when you look back.
veteran bluesman’s home is a trove collection of cars. “I’m a proper racing driver. I’ve “When someone said: ‘If you’re doing that TV gig,
of automobile porn: a gleaming Ferrari, a pristine got an international C licence. I race a 1957 Morris you’ve got to wear a leather jacket,’ I should have
Caterham 620, racing overalls, press clippings of 1000 police car. It’s not exactly a Lamborghini, just said no to all that. But then I mightn’t have got
Rea himself burning up the track. It’s becoming is it? But I adore it. I’m an anorak. It’s about the this far. You’re constantly juggling what you want
apparent why he wrote Road Songs For Lovers, his engine, all that. It’s not about status. The Caterham to do and what you have to do.
new semi-concept album, on which he admits will be my last car. It’s the heroin of car addicts. “We had all this when I went back to the blues.
that he finds peace only behind the wheel. Nick Mason [Pink Floyd drummer and fellow They all shit themselves. What they didn’t realise is
“I love it,” he says with a twinkle, that burnished petrolhead] once said to me: ‘You don’t have to that Chris Rea fans like that. That’s the bit they like,
face crinkling into a walnut. “I always have. I don’t take drugs to be an addict,’ y’know?” better than the poppier side or trying to have a hit
know why. How do you explain love?” Aren’t cars stereotypical things for a rock star to single. One German journalist for a rock magazine
Rea looks good, all things considered. Last write songs about? said: ‘The best thing you can ever see is a Chris Rea
week he had an MRI scan, the latest two-step in the “I’m not a rock star!” Rea puffs, indignant. “There sound-check, because they’re just grooving and
66-year-old’s long-standing dance with abdominal have been moments when I wish I was. When I see playing.’ They used to have to get us off stage: ‘For
cancer. It turns out there are other ailments afoot. a Ferrari 250 GTO and it’s going for twenty-five fuck’s sake, we’re opening the doors.’ We’re playing
“I had a stroke in the autumn,” he reveals. million pounds, for about ten seconds I wish I was away, happy as pigs in shit – because we love it.”
“Boy, that was a big shock. When I first got home a rock star. It’s very difficult to be a rock star. When Last time we met, you said that the fallout from
I couldn’t play slide guitar. It was horrific. Very I’ve met people who are rock stars, they’re focused fame left you bad-tempered and aggressive.
scary moment. I couldn’t play F major 7th. I got it like you wouldn’t believe. They’re bothered about “Terribly aggressive. Y’know, I was four times
into my head that my perception of pitch had gone their hair. They’re constantly having something a week at the gym and I was sixteen and a half
with the stroke. And it took a lot of convincing done to their face. How you look and how you stone. And fearful and paranoid that some twat
from people saying there’s nothing wrong with sound is everything. It’s narcissistic. I’m not.” was gonna take me back to the old pop record days.
what you’re playing. I’m getting it back now, I became horrendously

F
hopefully, for the tour.” ame has always paranoid. There’s
You’d defy anyone to detect an issue on Road repelled him, nothing to be paranoid
Songs. Rea’s supple, dextrous slide work is the fairy Rea reminds “I had a stroke in the about any more.”
dust on these bluesy songs of open-road escapism, me. Digging his heels autumn. When I got home I Aren’t you wary of
his desert-dry vocal wrapping them in parchment. in all the way, his Road Songs becoming
He recorded his parts here, in his home studio. reluctant ascent began couldn’t play slide guitar.” a hit and the whole
“They have to drag albums off me,” he says. with his 1978 hit Fool cycle starting again?
“If you’re not careful, you just polish. And that’s (If You Think It’s Over), which he despised, and when “I don’t think we are. All through the spring
a weakness of mine. Because I don’t have a big ego. the real circus began he was in too deep to walk I was saying to my manager: ‘John, promise me
I don’t think I’m any good, really. I’d love to play away. “I signed a record contract that was the only this. When it doesn’t happen, just stay calm. I don’t
something and think: ‘Yep, that’s the best thing I’ve one available to me at the time. I signed with the want any fucking getting drunk and having fights.’
ever done,” but I never do.” wrong record company for what I wanted to do, “One of the things I’ve noticed is that I don’t
He’s proud of these songs, though. Apart from and I’ve been playing catch-up ever since. think people care if you bring a new record out or
the sinister trudge of Last Train, it’s easy to cast “When I did The Old Grey Whistle Test, the other not. When you go to Harley Street, all the doctors’
this album as a love letter to cars, the second great band that was on with me was Dire Straits. I knew names are on brass plates, and underneath it tells
MORRIS 1000 POLICE CAR: ALAMY

passion of Rea’s when he was younger. that day that that was what I should be doing. But you what they do. Well, that’s what we are. You’ve
“You’re a little boy in Middlesbrough,” he it was too late. If Mark Knopfler had asked me to got ‘Mark Knopfler: Money For Nothing, Sultans Of
reflects. “There are no colours, nothing glamorous. join them that night, I would have. And I would Swing’. Doesn’t matter what else he does, that’s his
Everything is black and white. Then you’re stood have gone to court with my record company. But brass plate. ‘Chris Rea: Road To Hell, On The Beach,
with your dad and a German racing car goes I don’t think my record company would have let Driving Home For Christmas’. If I made a triple
CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 57
CHRIS REA

Speed freaks: Rea with


fellow petrolhead Nick
Mason of Pink Floyd.

album of the world’s best-ever music, better than


Beethoven, they’d still want On The Beach.”
Does that realisation hurt famous musicians?
“It hurts accordingly to the size of your ego.
The bigger the ego, the bigger the hurt. We’re all
brass plates. I mean, Elton John brought a fabulous
album out last year with the American producer
[T Bone Burnett]. There won’t be one person at Considering what Rea has
the next twenty thousand Elton John concerts been through, he’s earned
that will wait for a song off that album. You’ve the right to sing the blues.
also got people who get the brass plate and put it
in neon and do ‘best of’ tours. In fact, in Germany, of my musician friends said: ‘Well, we’re all going at Glastonbury this year,” he continues. “Because
the venue they’ll put you in and the type of money to leave the country.’ And I think the people who people were saying that he was using a little black
they’ll put up is totally dependent on what songs are left behind will say: ‘Good riddance.’” box, and he didn’t have a band. But the main point
you’re contractually going to play. If you’re going of that was nobody cared.

R
to do all your hits, they’ll put you in the big arena ea reckons Road Songs, released on his “We have terrible trouble when we tour. The
in Dortmund; if not, they’ll put you in a club down Jazzee Blue label, will cover his expenses last four people who’ve played the venue you’ve
the road in Cologne.” but perhaps not much more. arrived into are saying: ‘Well, we didn’t have
Given Rea’s troubled relationship with paydirt, “Well, touch wood, it’s not costing me money. any trouble [with the sound].’ And you know
perhaps the most fascinating song on the new But ten years with Jazzee Blue, you find out some that’s because it was all on hard disc. Of course
album is Money, a rare deviation from the car of the things you just can’t get if you’re not with you don’t have trouble, because you don’t have
theme, on which New Orleans brass jousts with a big record company. There’d just be this mystery a buzzing 1962 Stratocaster!”
his grizzled commentary on modern avarice. of why you couldn’t get in that magazine. It’s even And yet, for all the dodgy live sound and brass-
“That was me listening to the money programme happening now with gigs. Trying to get on a gig plate audiences, Rea says he’s raring to take Road
[Money Box] on Radio Four,” he explains. “Everyone that Live Nation don’t own is extremely difficult. Songs into its natural habitat when he goes out on
sees their politics from where they stand financially. You find yourself not being able to get a venue. his European tour in November.
That’s why everyone’s worried about Jeremy You don’t know why. The men at the top are still “Touring is like a holiday,” he says. “And when
Corbyn, because he doesn’t have any financial the men at the top. Most bands have become we do Germany and England on the tour there’ll
desires, so he thinks you can live on thruppence. casualties of the business, but at the top of the be an album that comes out of that. I’m already
But when he wins… business they’re on onto my next one now. My problem is it’s almost
And he is going to the same money as like having a form of autism. I seriously think
win. There’s no doubt they always were. That it’s quite close, creativity. I get up this morning,
about it. I’ve got a bet. “If I made the world’s bit hasn’t changed.” quarter to seven. I’ve got to write something.
I’ve got sixteen to one.
Him and his chancellor
best-ever music, they’d How do you
feel about other
I’m useless at doing nothing.”
Somehow, you suspect Chris Rea is the kind of
will decide how much still want On The Beach.” developments in musician who will never be done – unless his hand
money they think you show business? is forced by factors beyond his control. Again,
need, everything else will go to the government.” “This is probably the only interview in the where a ‘proper’ rock star would shut down any
That’s bad news for millionaire musicians like world this week where it’s you and me sat such enquiries, Rea is an open book on the subject
you, isn’t it? talking to each other,” says Rea. “Nowadays of his gathering health issues.
“No, because I think he’s right. A lot of people they’ll send emails and just say: ‘Answer the “The medical is the leveller when you’ve been as
are like: ‘Fucking hell, Chris, don’t tell me you’re following questions.’ It saves money. ill as me, with permanent damage,” he says. “And
a Corbyn fan. For fuck’s sake, don’t tell anyone!’ “One of my big shocks lately is how people it has a lot of effects that I wish it didn’t. But it does.
I’ve written a song about him. It’s called What’s So – even in the business – listen to music. It’s Y’know, there are reasons why I can’t go to the
Wrong With A Man Who Tells The Truth? Because he’s frightening. When I first started, there was a man Himalayas. And I’d love to. But the way my body is
standing there, even his own party are laughing who went round Warners’ offices all day long, now, digestion-wise, I couldn’t go up there.”
at him, and I thought: ‘You’re all laughing at your every day, resetting people’s hi-fis and playback He brightens. “I’m happy to be here,” he says.
own peril.’ And yes, in the old way, Corbyn is systems. Now they’re all listening to it on a PC. “I really am. And y’know, if you lose your pancreas
useless. Because he says the wrong things. But the And modern music has changed because of that. and you’re on morphine for sixteen weeks in
young people have had enough. Young kids make music for a PC. So they won’t hospital, then you can say: ‘What’s wrong with me
NICK MASON: PHOTOSHOT

“Because of my health I’m constantly in some have a big, fat bass, because you can’t hear it on singing the blues?’”
of these hospitals. And we need more money. Of a PC. They’ll make a more pointed, rhythmic bass,
course, Newsnight will say: ‘Yeah, but where’s he and it’ll be quantised. And that’s modern music. Road Songs For Lovers is out now via Jazzee
gonna get it from?’ Tax. It’s as simple as that. One One of the final milestones for me was Ed Sheeran Blue/BMG.

58 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
As 1976 came along, Thin Lizzy were just another rock band, with a one-hit past and little
in the way of a future. Then they released Jailbreak, and the boys weren’t so much back in
town as running it. But after a disappointing follow-up, the pressure was on.
Words: Mick Wall

F
or the first five years of their topsy-turvy career, A Word, was an almost identikit Boys Are Back reshuffle.
Thin Lizzy had been also-rans – strictly second In Britain, it didn’t matter. Lizzy had repeat hits and even more
div, with their 1973 novelty hit Whiskey In The Jar, success on their winter ’76 tour, culminating in the sold-out three-night
their earnest ‘Irish rock’ concept albums and their stint at the Hammersmith Odeon that would be recorded and later
constantly blurring line-ups. Could-have-beens. released as the 1978 Live & Dangerous double album. But after a brawl at
Maybes. Jokes. the Speakeasy involving his tough-guy pal, singer Frankie Miller, Robbo
They were saved by the bell of their sixth album, Jailbreak, in 1976. For slashed his left hand so badly he was told he’d never play again. Lizzy
the first time the band successfully showcased their intoxicating blend were forced to cancel their second US tour in a row – a month of dates
of rock-funk-folk-blues bloodletting, and overnight Lizzy went from in December intended to make up for the previous cancellation. Lynott
uninvited guests to new leaders of the pack. was furious.
The big hit single from the album, The Boys Are Back In Town, had taken According to Gorham, “Phil had become obsessed by everything
them from town halls to the big league: multiple nights at London’s American and really saw the band making it big there.”
Hammersmith Odeon, a first major tour of America, gold records on But with Johnny The Fox failing to follow Jailbreak into the US Top 30,
two continents. Cool cats adored by and another tour in tatters, Lynott
their kitties. was convinced the band had blown
Twenty-six-year-old singer their big chance. He was right.
and bassist Phil Lynott was the “We thought of ourselves
as the street punks of that
T
star. Black Brazilian father, white here had been a decent
Irish mother, Lynott combined attempt to recover lost
the Stagolee swagger of Jimi era, so when the punk ground in America with
Hendrix with the street poetics of the self-styled Queen-Lizzy tour
Van Morrison.
thing came around, Phil of the US in the early months of
Flanked by two genuine just embraced it.” Scott Gorham 1977. “We really learned a lot from
gunslingers in 20-year-old guitarist opening for Freddie and the boys,”
Brian ‘Robbo’ Robertson (Scottish, fiery, bad for good) and 25-year-old says Brian Downey. “They were in a different league to us.”
Scott ‘Good Looking’ Gorham (So-Cal cool, hair, chick magnet), in the The focus now, though, was on ensuring their next album would
blister-popping heatwave of the summer of ’76, nobody in rock carried restore them to the US charts. They already had the title, Bad Reputation,
more heat than Thin Lizzy. which was a sardonic reflection on their damaged relationship with
Then, almost before the party got started: the crash. As drummer American concert promoters, record company executives and
and co-founding member Brian Downey puts it now, speaking from his everyone else that had all but thrown in the towel when it came to
rural Irish abode: “It wasn’t helped by the lifestyles the band were living, trying to get the band off the ground in the States.
but the timing couldn’t have been worse. People coming down with Cliff Bernstein, then the band’s A&R man at their US label Mercury
hepatitis and slashed hands… Situations that you could never predict – and later co-manager of Lizzy-wannabes Def Leppard – once said: “It
would happen – but did happen.” broke my heart that Lizzy continually fucked-up in America. In the end
A prestigious US arena tour opening for Rainbow had been you just move on to other things.”
abandoned after Lynott – already deep into his potions and powders In less than a year, they had gone from being compared favourably to
– had picked up hep C from a dirty needle. Fleeing home to London, Bruce Springsteen to completely dropping out of the conversation. Bad
Lynott wrote most of the songs for the band’s hastily scheduled next Reputation would be their belated attempt to fix that. “Promoters started
album from his hospital bed. The result, Johnny The Fox, had ‘follow-up’ wondering, ‘Thin Lizzy – they cancelled again?’” says Downey. “They
GETTY

written all over it – emphasised by the fact its own hit single, Don’t Believe were questioning the band’s credibility. After that, we had no
60 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 61
Thin Lizzy in New York
City, 1977: (l-r) Brian
Robertson, Brian Downey,
Scott Gorham, Phil Lynott.

Lynott knew working without his firebrand


guitarist was a risk. To plug the gap, Tony Visconti
was hired to produce. Visconti was then at the
peak of his 70s powers, having produced all 20
of T. Rex’s major hit singles and albums, before
latterly working with David Bowie on some of his
Dancing in the moonlight, most influential recordings.
caught in the spotlight: At the time it seemed like a coup for Lizzy
Robbo and Lynott at to have someone of Visconti’s stature involved.
the 1977 Reading Festival. (Bowie’s Visconti-produced Low album was No.2
in the UK at the time.) Speaking now, though,
from his London home, Visconti says he saw it as
a no-brainer. “I just loved The Boys Are Back In Town.
“Bad Reputation was definitely an For me, it was the best single of that summer. Then
improvement on Johnny The Fox. But when I met Phil a few months later, he charmed
me. He had such charisma. I jumped at the chance
it didn’t do very much for us in the end.” of working with them.”
Brian Downey At Visconti’s suggestion, they worked out of
Toronto Studios in Canada through May and June
chance of breaking America unless we had another in tandem with Gorham, with whom he felt a 1977. The producer – privately disappointed not
massive hit.” much greater kinship. Phil and Robbo would fight to have Robbo there for the duration – decided the
Belfast boy Gary Moore had stepped in to – “Phil had hands like fucking shovels!” – and best way forward was to bring the bass and drums
fill Robbo’s shoes for the Queen tour – but on Robbo would invariably come off worse. Phil and more forward in the mix, pushing the lone guitar
a strictly temporary basis. Moore-o, as they Scott would hang out, going out to clubs, doing back, a technique he’d developed while working
knew him, had already joined the band and coke, smack, whatever; pulling chicks. with Bowie on The Man Who Sold The World.
left once before. “He had very high aims as an “Phil and I had this kind of clique thing going,” A bassist himself, Visconti knew the value of
instrumentalist,” Lynott would later tell me. “He says Gorham. “Like our own language, little looks having a strong, textured bass lead the sound. He
was into jazz rock and very technical stuff.” and things. That made it kind of tough sometimes then embellished that sound with strings, sax,
Having known Moore since they were teenagers when someone new came into the band. Like, clarinet, keyboards, synthesisers and gongs, adding
in Ireland, however, Lynott also knew how badly you’re in the band now but you’re gonna have to greater panache to the band’s roughhouse sound.
the guitarist wanted to be a star. When Moore prove yourself first before you get really in with us. He also took a firm stance on Lynott’s and
declined to continue replacing Robbo for the “A big reason why Phil and I became such good Gorham’s spiralling ‘partying’. “It got to the stage
Bad Reputation sessions, Lynott was prepared to friends was because we trusted each other. No where it was affecting work on the album,” he says.
play a waiting game, and decided to record the names, but maybe with some of the other guys, “In the end I had to phone management and ask
album with just Gorham on guitar. he never quite trusted them. We always tended them to get out here and help me sort it out.”
“Phil said: ‘Fuck it, we’ll just do the thing to agree, musically. Not always on album but Now recording their third ‘make or break’ album
ourselves,’” Gorham said. “Lizzy had started as definitely on stage. Also, I’ve never been worried in a year, Gorham says: “What happened to Phil
a three-piece – I guess he figured it would be no about being a big star, so that never came between was probably a direct result of that. ‘Jeez, I gotta
big deal. But I loved Robbo and I wasn’t at all sure us either, where maybe it did with some of the keep my shit together. I gotta find inspiration. I
about handling a whole album on my own.” other [guitarists].” gotta keep up, man. Hey, chop me out a line of that
Robertson, meanwhile, put on a brave front. Robbo fancied his chances as a frontman. Moore coke…’ Then next time it would be two lines. We
“I’m getting my own band together!” he bragged actually became a frontman. Lynott had a head needed that fucking joy juice, man, just to get us up
to anyone who would listen. But in truth he was start on both of them and was determined that Bad to keep us working. We figured the drugs were the
devastated to find himself on the outside. Reputation would help keep it that way. But it was only things that were saving us. Now, that’s a crazy
“Phil and I had our differences,” he said at the the twinned harmonies of Robbo’s guitar interplay way to think, but that’s the way it was back then.”
time, understating the case more than a little, with Gorham that defined the Lizzy sound – Lizzy co-manager Chris O’Donnell duly flew
“but we always worked well together.” Robbo’s beautifully telegraphed solos and intricate out from London and read them the riot act: you
ALAMY/GETTY

In truth, Lynott rarely ventured over to Robbo’s flourishes that finessed Lizzy’s badass hard rock have lost your principal guitarist, your last album
side of the stage, instead throwing his best shapes into something more lyrical and enticing. was a dud in America, punk is now taking over
62 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
THIN LIZZY
everything in the UK, if you fuck this album up
it’s the end of your career.
“Everything was fine after that,” says Visconti.
“The guys knuckled down and we really began
making what I still like to think became one of
their best albums.”

M
ost of the songs had been worked
out before they arrived in Toronto.
Now reaching the peak of his
songwriting prowess, Lynott came in with some
of his best material, not least album opener Soldier
Of Fortune. It boasted a spacy Pink Floyd faded-in
intro and a quick lock into deep grooves, Gorham
doing a fine job of twinning his own guitars, with
Lynott in full-on storytelling mode.
“I started off writing the song to put down
mercenaries,” he explained at the time. “Saying
how disgusting it was going off and becoming
a trained killer. Then as I started to write the
lyrics, I began to realise that everybody has a little
bit of mercenary blood in them. You know, like
sometimes I’m real brutal with chicks – just go
after them, get what I want and ‘see you later’.
Everything I do and say is to get what I want. So Lynott with Freddie Mercury, Roger
at the end of the song I had to say: ‘I am a soldier Taylor and John Deacon during the
of fortune.’ So it wasn’t as heavy as it was initially 1977 Queen-Lizzy tour of the USA.
intended to be cos as I looked more into it, it
wasn’t a simple question of black and white.” Visconti later recalled how after Robbo had got to pure artistic transcendence. The music is
This observation lay at the heart of the more completed his solo on Opium Trail, “I invited him sweeping, epic, again closer to Pink Floyd than the
mature material Lynott was now writing. Not that back to the control room to hear the playback. He quasi-metal outfit the band would shrink to in the
Lizzy lost any of their sting, as the title track, which just said no, he’d rather not, and left. It was a pity 80s. Lynott delivers one of his deepest, most honest,
followed, ably demonstrated with its war-drum riff because it was a great piece of work.” no-jive lyrics, with its exquisite pay-off: ‘Dear Lord…
and sneering vocals, though again with a mournful Eventually, a rapprochement was tentatively I believe your story now you believe mine.’ Lynott on the
glance sideways: ‘You’re too sly/So cold/That bad entered into. But the bond was fragile. “Me and phone to God: not praying, just saying, with angelic
reputation/Has made you old…’ Scott always got on great with Robbo,” says backing vocals by Visconti’s wife, Mary Hopkin.
A co-write between Lynott, Gorham and Downey. “But it had got to the point where Phil According to Gary Moore, speaking years later,
Downey, Bad Reputation would replace Sha La and Robbo weren’t even talking. Then in the studio Lynott – who would publish his second volume of
La on tour as the showcase for the drummer’s with Visconti, they gradually got it together again. poetry, simply titled Philip, around the same time
spectacularly percussive solo. They were talking, at least.” Bad Reputation was made – was a wordsmith first,
“I remember that riff knocking around for The rest of the album’s six tracks were split singer second, bassist third.
a good while before we recorded it,” Downey evenly between the good and the great. The good: “He’d spend more time on the words than the
recalls. “It was a great number to play. The unusual the poignant Southbound, the music because he found the
time signature [6/4] was Phil’s idea. Scott and I put phoned-in Killer Without A Cause music not that difficult. They
the rest of it together, all the little embellishments (The Boy Are Back… but only were very simple songs, you
that really brought the song out. But Phil had the some of them), and the gently “I wouldn’t know? He’d play you Dancing
lyrics written before we’d gotten into the studio.”
Side one, as it was in those days, also featured
contrived Downtown Sundown.
Lynott said of the latter song:
even f**king In The Moonlight on the acoustic
guitar and you’d go, ‘Is that it?’
a third utterly climactic Lizzy track in Opium Trail. “Because I wrote Don’t Believe speak to Phil Then you’d hear the finished
‘I took a line that leads you to the opium trial,’ sang A Word, every chick I went out thing and understand what
Lynott, and you knew he wasn’t making it up. with after that used to throw
the first week he’d been so enthusiastic about
Again, songwriting credits went to all three it back in my face – ‘I don’t I was there, because he was hearing it as the
band members, but lyrically this was one from the believe a word you’re saying.’ finished thing in his head.”
heart from Lynott. In interviews, he would talk So I figured I’d write a song wouldn’t hang With Dancing In The
convincingly of being influenced by seeing a TV that was actually a statement Moonlight and Bad Reputation
documentary on the Golden States Of Shan – that of love, so this would be an
out, nothing.” released as a double A-sided hit
shit-pool on the borders of North Vietnam, Burma answer to it, and there’s a line in Brian Robertson single in the summer of 1977,
and China where 50 per cent of the world’s heroin it that goes, ‘Please believe in love, and pre-release reviews for
trade was then said to come from. “It’s an anti- I believe there is a God above for love,’ you know?” the album glowing, the band, with Robbo back in
drugs song,” he would insist, straight-faced. The great: the lilting, loitering chocolatey pop tow, headlined that year’s Reading Festival.
In truth, Lynott had been dipping in and out of H of Dancing In The Moonlight, destined to become the They were back where they belonged – on top,
for heaven for over a year. So had Scott and Robbo. album’s signature single and Lizzy’s biggest and mama, better get your fuck-on below. The album
Musically, however, this was Lizzy at another peak, best hit song after Boys; and That Woman’s Gonna reached No.4 in the UK, making it their biggest-
complete with a fiery new Robbo solo. Gorham Break Your Heart, a wonderful big-sky production, charting hit. Yet when it came out in America, it
says: “It was me that talked Phil into bringing with Robbo allowed back in to add his distinctive barely touched the sides, dragging its heels as far
Robbo back for some of Bad Reputation. I was trying lead flourishes over Gorham’s taut acoustic as No.39, then falling off its horse again.
to get the magic circle back together again and he’s strum-a-thon. It could have signalled a whole new “Bad Reputation was definitely an improvement
not buying it. But he finally relented. ‘All right, but direction for Lizzy, beyond the jailhouse rock and on Johnny The Fox,” says Brian Downey. “But it didn’t
just fucking keep him away from me…’” into the wide blue open of orchestral pop. do very much for us in the end, even though it was
Recalling his brief time in Toronto, Robbo said: And then there was the album’s most impressive a great album. The problem was that by then the
“I wouldn’t even fucking speak to Phil the first moment, Dear Lord. Co-written by Lynott and band did have a bad reputation, certainly when it
GETTY

week I was there, wouldn’t hang out, nothing.” Gorham, Dear Lord was the closest Thin Lizzy ever came to America.”
CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 63
“It was me that talked Phil into
bringing Robbo back for some of
Bad Reputation. I was trying to
get the magic circle back
together again.”
Scott Gorham

Lynott and Gorham at


Hammersmith Odeon,
GETTY

December 1, 1977.
THIN LIZZY
millions of fucking photo sessions, getting dressed
up in different outfits. Then right at the end of
every shoot he would say: ‘All right, now let’s have
a nice little smiley one for the teeny mags’ – which I
fucking hated. But he was right, of course, because
those mags did use those shots. You never had to
beg Phil for a picture. Even the drug busts he loved.
‘Hey man, you see my drug bust in the paper?’”
It would be another two years before Lizzy
recorded another original album, the void filled
with Live & Dangerous, officially Robbo’s last release
with the band, and still their best-selling collection.
It was only kept from No.1 in the UK by the Bee
Gees’ Saturday Night Fever soundtrack.
Convinced Lizzy had gone as far as they could
go, Lynott also looked seriously into the possibility
of making a solo album. He’d been talking about it
since Rod Stewart abandoned his band, the Faces,
for a successful solo career in 1975. “Phil thought
he could be the new Rod Stewart,” says Downey.
“He had the looks and the gravelly voice. He even
talked to Rod’s management about it.”
In the event, Lynott would have to wait until
1980 before seeing that dream come true.
Meanwhile, Robbo was ousted for the last time.
“We were all hoping Robbo would stay on the
straight and narrow but he’d fallen off the wagon
again,” says Downey. “Robbo and Phil weren’t
getting on too well again. I personally didn’t want
to see the most successful version of Thin Lizzy
falling apart before we’d even got started. I thought
this should be sorted out. Hopefully it’s just a
passing phase. But it just kept going on. Every time
Gorham, Downey and we went on tour, some sort of argument cropped
Lynott in Copenhagen, up and the animosity started all over again.”
August 24, 1977. It came down to it being either Phil or Robbo
who would have to leave. No contest. “I think Phil
When the front cover of Bad Reputation carried Instead of following Queen and Led Zeppelin would have walked if Robbo didn’t.”
a simple black-and-white picture of just Downey, into the frontline of American rock mythology, Gary Moore now came back in. Lynott agreed
Gorham and Lynott – no Robbo – it only served Thin Lizzy now found themselves being lauded by to appear on three tracks on Moore’s 1978 solo
to underline how much the band’s mystique had the new wave of punk stars who saw them as the album, Back On The Streets – including the original,
mushed into misunderstanding. rule-breakers of rock royalty – one of us, guv. slowed-down, soulful version of Don’t Believe
Downey says: “I didn’t agree with that but I was “We thought of ourselves as the street punks of A Word and a new co-write between the two, with
outvoted. Everyone just wanted the three of us that era,” says Gorham. “All the other rock bands Lynott on lead vocals, entitled Parisienne Walkways.
because everybody knew that after this album, of the era were slick, vocal harmonies. We weren’t But again, the clouds came back when the latter
Robbo would be gone.” like that. So when the punk thing came around, track became a hit single, and both men verbally
In fact, Robbo continued ‘guesting’ with the Phil just embraced it. ‘Thank fuck, man! There’s scuffled over who deserved the most credit.
band for another 12 months. But it was getting hard other people out there like us!’”

L
to keep up with what was really Lynott also saw the credibility by association ooking back now, 40 years on from its
going on. Getting harder to care. factor of being photographed release, it’s impossible not to see Bad
with Sid and Nancy, Bob Reputation as both the peak of Thin

T
he aftermath of Bad Geldof and Midge Ure, and Lizzy and the beginning of a long, drawn-out end.
Reputation found Thin playing gigs around London – Brian Downey walked out not long after Gary
Lizzy living in a world half-Lizzy, half-Pistols – as the Moore rejoined. “I was burnt out,” he says. “My
where on one side of the planet – Greedy Bastards. health was really suffering. I needed to get away.”
Britain, Europe, Australia – they “Phil was always very media- Enticed back for the Black Rose album in 1979,
had never been bigger, while on savvy,” says Gorham. “Phil loved only to see Moore walk out for the third and final
the other – Am-er-ee-ca – they doing Top Of The Pops. He just time halfway through the subsequent American
had effectively blown it. loved being on TV. We would go tour, Downey looks back now on what he calls
“Every now and again out and do a video and nobody “the Thin Lizzy curse” with the admirably balanced
something would come along would play it because there was perspective that only time and space can bring.
that seemed to stop the band no MTV in those days, so it would “I try to forgive the bad and focus on the good
in its tracks. And that seemed to happen a lot,” become this whole financial waste times. In the studio, we never did 25 fucking
says Downey. “Especially over those years when of time. But by God we had a video!” takes of anything. On albums like Bad Reputation,
the band was on a crest of a wave. We had so much It was around this time that the music press if things weren’t happening, Phil would always
bad luck.” He pauses, then chuckles. “We could began spritzing rumours of Lynott starring in come up with a master plan to save the song.
have avoided it by living a bit more cleanly but it’s a movie about Jimi Hendrix. It wasn’t true, but ‘Okay, this is the new arrangement I have an idea
easy to say that now. That’s the way the band was as Gorham says, “Phil never denied it because it for.’ And the new arrangement would normally
back then. There’s no getting away from that.” was a great story and got a lot of press. work. That just shows you how talented Phil was.”
Drugs were normal; to be encouraged, in “Phil knew the value of print, he knew the value And how brilliant and unique Thin Lizzy
fact. “Yeah,” Downey says. “It makes my eyes of a picture in a magazine. He had it down, he really were. And why their real reputation will
GETTY

water now just thinking about it.” had a map, he just knew this shit. We would do outlive them forever.
CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 65
Steve Winwood, posing for the
sleeve shoot for his Arc Of A Diver
solo album in London, 1980.
He was a teen prodigy with the Spencer Davis Group, tripped the light fantastic with Traffic, almost
joined Cream but was in Blind Faith, and had major success as a solo artist in the 80s. The ever-
restless Steve Winwood looks back over a glittering career and reveals his unexpected new direction.
Words: Rob Hughes

I
n his 2007 memoir, Eric Clapton vividly the mercurial supergroup. Winwood was so much music, and trying to play them all, that being on
recalls hearing Steve Winwood for the first in demand as a musical ally – helping out Jimi stage was just part of it. It didn’t occur to me that
time. The guitarist was in the early flush of Hendrix, Lou Reed, George Harrison, Leon Russell, there was anything I should shy away from.”
his career playing in The Yardbirds when Muddy Waters, Joe Cocker and Howlin’ Wolf, to If there’s one prime directive in all of Winwood’s
he encountered the Spencer Davis Group name but a few – that he was an industry veteran work, it’s an inclusive approach to music making;
in clubland in 1963. Winwood, SDG’s by the time he finally got around to a solo career there’s very little that’s off limits to his imagination.
precocious singer/organist, may have been just 15 in the latter half of the 70s. “With Traffic we made a conscious decision
but, Clapton notes: “If you closed your eyes you “I came into music from a slightly different that we would try to incorporate a lot more
would swear it was Ray Charles. Musically he was direction than some of my contemporaries,” he elements – folk, jazz, ethnic music and even bits of
like an old man in a boy’s skin.” tells Classic Rock today. “I started off playing with classical music and different forms,” he explains.
Bob Dylan was gripped by a Spencer Davis my dad, learning thirties and forties dance music “I’d probably say that I’ve been trying to do
Group gig three years later, midway through and American classics, which wasn’t particularly that ever since.”
his UK tour. Afterwards, as seen on the Eat The easy stuff. And I was a chorister in the High

G
Document film, an open-mouthed Dylan asks of Anglican church. That music got under my skin rowing up in the Great Barr area of
Davis: “How’d he learn to sing like that?” To which somehow. Then along came skiffle and early Birmingham, Winwood might easily have
Davis, appearing lost for an answer, merely replies: rock’n’roll and Buddy Holly. And later on came followed his father into the family’s local
“Well, since the day we found him.” Ray Charles, who introduced me to this crossover foundry business. But music took hold at an early
Steve Winwood always seemed fully formed from bebop and jazz into rock and R&B. I was so age. He was eight when he made his stage debut,
from the start. He was still in his teens when he engrossed with learning all these different kinds of playing in the same band as his father, a semi-pro
quit the Spencer Davis Group and formed musician, and elder brother Muff. Stevie
Traffic in 1967, leaving behind a trail became a regular on the Midlands R&B
of huge-selling hits, among them Keep scene in his early teens, before he and
On Running, Gimme Some Lovin’ and the “Punk rock was almost a reaction his sibling formed the Muff-Woody Jazz
somewhat ironically titled I’m A Man.
At 21 he was in Blind Faith, the band
against what I’d been doing. It was Band.
Looking to put his own group together,
GETTY

that came to embody the late-60s ideal of difficult for me to grasp that.” Spencer Davis caught them one night.
CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 67
Traffic in 1965: (clockwise
from top left) Jim Capaldi, Still in the spotlight:
Chris Wood, Steve Winwood, Winwood in 1983.
Dave Mason.

A
s it transpired, Winwood elected to form
Traffic with three long-time friends from
the Midlands R&B scene – Jim Capaldi,
Dave Mason and Chris Wood. The four-piece
shifted around various bases in London before
finally taking up residence in a remote cottage in
Aston Tirrold, deep in rural Berkshire. In doing so
they set the trend for bands suddenly upping sticks
and ‘getting it together in the country’.
“The big problem was that we felt we couldn’t
“With Traffic we made a conscious decision to play music whenever we wanted,” Winwood says.
“In London we couldn’t set the gear up in one of
incorporate a lot more elements – folk, jazz, ethnic our flats and make a racket at two or three in the
music and even bits of classical music. I’d probably morning. So moving to the country was really
a practical move. We were living at the cottage
say that I’ve been trying to do that ever since.” in squalor. It was kind of like a crash pad, four
lads living like students. But instead of being in
“They were playing a form of music that was a step that I never had a proper job,” Winwood says. a university town it was half a mile up a muddy
up from traditional or New Orleans jazz,” he “At fifteen I’d be going up to play all-nighters at track with no electricity and water from a well.
recalls today. “I walked in and there was this kid, the Twisted Wheel in Manchester, finishing at five We were crusties, really.”
pretty much not long out of short trousers, who or six in the morning. Then on the Sunday the There were rumours, too, that the cottage was
played piano like Oscar Peterson and sang like Ray same promoter had a club in Hanley, called The haunted. “A few people have told me they thought
Charles. I asked him if he’d like to be in the band Place, and we’d play that. I’d get home at one in it was,” he says. “Of course, Jim and Chris are no
and, in a lovely little Birmingham accent, he went: the morning, then have to go to school that day. longer around to talk about it [Capaldi died in
‘I’d love to, but I don’t have a driving licence.’ I told That was pretty unsustainable and I was kicked 2005, Wood in 1983], but I think they both had
him I’d come and get him, because I had a beaten- out of school.” quite vivid experiences. Whether or not that was to
up old Bradford, which I’d paid fifty quid for.” Had the planets aligned a little differently, do with whatever substances were around or not
With Muff also on board as bassist, alongside Winwood’s musical life may have taken a whole I don’t know. Because there was a lot of that about.”
drummer Pete York, the quartet started working other turn in 1966. Not long after the Spencer Spooked or otherwise, the cottage proved an
up tunes by Jimmy Reed, John Lee Hooker, Lead Davis Group had scored their second UK chart- ideal base for Traffic to conceive their debut LP.
Belly and Woody Guthrie. Before long they’d topping 45 with Somebody Help Me, Ginger Baker Released in December ’67, Mr. Fantasy was a minor
secured a weekly residency at the Golden Eagle, was putting Cream together. Eric Clapton had psychedelic classic, its loose-limbed songs stirred
and soon attracted a BBC crew to film the queues originally envisioned the band as a quartet, with by exotic rhythms, soulful white blues and Eastern
around the block. Winwood out front, although both Jack Bruce strangeness. Its standout tune was Dear Mr. Fantasy,
“With Spencer Davis we were discovering and Baker favoured a trio set-up. Clapton was the product of a fertile songwriting partnership
blues and R&B, all this fantastic music we were outvoted, of course, but it’s tempting to imagine with Capaldi and Wood. Its gestation, as with
hearing from America,” says Steve. “They were how Cream might have developed with Winwood most things Traffic, was a little unconventional by
singing in a form of English and a lot of the time also in the band. pop standards.
I didn’t understand what they were talking about, “There was a slight lack of synchronisation in “Our songwriting originally came out of
like ‘another mule kicking in your stall’ [from Muddy the timing of things,” says Winwood, musing a need to have material for us to jam,” Winwood
Waters’s Long Distance Call, referring to someone on what might have been. “There came a point remembers. “We learned to play together – I’d be
else making moves on your loved one]. There were in the Spencer Davis Group where I thought: on guitar or organ, Jim on drums and Chris would
lots of things like that. And by not being able to ‘I’ve definitely had enough of this, I want to do play flute and sax – and that gave us a freedom
emulate that stuff accurately or faithfully, we were something else.’ But I’m not quite sure whether to move different ways. We’d do these long
inadvertently creating our own style.” that occurred before Cream or not, or if I was in improvisations, and Jim, very often, would scribble
Life as a touring musician soon took precedence that mind-set. After that point occurred, though, down a verse or chorus on an envelope or the back
GETTY

over everything else. “I’m afraid it has to be said then yes, I would certainly have taken the job.” of a fag packet, which I’d stand up on the organ.
68 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
STEVE WINWOOD

“Having recorded it, we’d go back and listen to


what we’d done and work out which bits to keep.
That was really the way we wrote. It was only
later, when Jim and I started writing with different
people, that we realised that wasn’t the way most
people wrote songs.”
After a second album in late ’68, Traffic were
finished, at least for the short term. It was a year
in which the increasingly restless Winwood
guested on Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland, slipping
a Hammond groove under Voodoo Chile.
By the next spring, Cream having disbanded,
Winwood and Clapton started hanging out
together more regularly. The pair would smoke
joints and jam amid the bucolic peacefulness of
Aston Tirrold. Ginger Baker popped over too, and
with the addition of Family bassist Ric Grech, Blind
Faith were born. Making their live debut at a huge
free concert in London’s Hyde Park, Blind Faith
lasted for one album and a brief US arena tour.
“Blind Faith was pretty murky, really,” Winwood
remembers. “That didn’t really work out quite as
well as Eric and I had intended. I don’t think there
was any one reason for that, but Eric didn’t want
to carry on doing what he’d been doing with
Cream. We were both looking for something Blind Faith in 1969: (l-r) Steve
else. The music that we started off doing was Winwood, Ric Grech, Ginger
acoustic and jangly. It had a sort of folk element to Baker, Eric Clapton.
it, not something that goes down too well in the
arena rock environment. But of course rock was sideman with John Martyn and played with a lot of with lead-off single While You See A Chance making
becoming big money at that time. amazing people during that time. Then later on, of the Billboard Top 10.
“There was a lot of pressure on Blind Faith with course, punk emerged. I found that tricky, because “At the end of the seventies my contract had
this sort of ‘supergroup’ tag,” he continues. “We punk rock was almost a reaction against what I’d run out, but I was still held by another option,”
had pressures from the business to start recording been doing. It was difficult for me to grasp that, so I Winwood explains of the album’s inception. “So
before we were perhaps ready, and we were suppose I sort of went underground a little.” I decided that I was going to actually do everything
suddenly playing big places. So we were caught out One of his ‘underground’ activities involved on this record – play all the instruments, engineer
a bit, adapting what we were doing to those venues, a musical liaison with the eccentric Bonzo Dog it and write all the songs. I think the A&R
which wasn’t quite the right thing. Neither of us man Viv Stanshall. The pair had already co-written department at Island thought I’d lost the plot and
were into that. We were starting to lose interest at Dream Gerrard for Traffic’s swansong album and forgot about me a little bit. Then at some point
different points and were drifting apart.” collaborated on Stanshall’s solo record Men Opening they said: ‘Why don’t you at least work with
Winwood returned to the studio in 1970, Umbrellas Ahead. They then concocted a soundtrack someone who can help you with the lyrics?’ And
initially to make a solo album, under the guidance for a film version of Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast, they suggested Will. Lyrics were certainly always
of producer Guy Stevens. But things didn’t hoping for financial backing. It never arrived. something I could do with help on, so I thought,
quite work out. Stevens wanted to introduce a They did, however, manage yeah, I’ll work with this fella. I
few covers, whereas Winwood was more keen to funnel some of its ideas didn’t really know much about
on something more challenging. Stevens left, into Sir Henry At Rawlinson End, him or who he was, but we
and Winwood brought in Capaldi and Wood, Stanshall’s surreal satire of
“Blind Faith was just hit it off. I started to work
reuniting Traffic. upper-English mores that was pretty murky, in a different way with Will.
The result was John Barleycorn Must Die, a prog- eventually made into a film We discovered lots of ways of
folk masterpiece that also voyaged into free jazz starring Trevor Howard in the really. That didn’t working together.”
and R&B. “For me, Traffic was like coming home,” title role. really work out Winwood’s 1982 album
he says. “It was easier to explore music with Traffic “Viv was hilarious,” Talking Back To The Night made
than it had been with Blind Faith. We were utilising Winwood says, laughing. “He quite as well as less of an impression, however.
different kinds of music, trying to continue the always sort of needed a straight Aiming to repeat the DIY
legacy we’d started and which hadn’t properly man to do the musical things Eric and I had formula of Arc Of A Diver,
come to fruition for us. There were still plenty that he was wanting to do. intended.” the album instead felt under-
of other things for us to explore.” And for a while I became that. produced and a little prosaic.
We’d go into pubs and people’s houses and start Its relative lack of success, in addition to marital

T
raffic’s journey ended in 1974, amid off some kind of act. I’d play some music, he’d play problems at home, led to a prolonged bout of soul-
Winwood’s recurrent issues with peritonitis a bit on his euphonium, then try to do conjuring searching for Winwood. There were even rumours
(inflammation the abdomen) and after tricks.” that he might quit music altogether.
a couple of uneven final albums. The decade In among all this larkery, in 1977 Winwood “Was I thinking about giving it all up? Yeah,
proved a transitional, sometimes difficult one for released his fairly underwhelming solo debut. His I was,” he reveals. “I was looking at what else was
him. He threw himself into session work. re-emergence as a major force didn’t happen for available – not that I could do anything else. But
“Something happened in the mid-to-late another three years, with the arrival of the belated I was looking for something a little different.”
seventies,” he reflects. “I dropped out a little from follow-up, Arc Of A Diver. Stanshall co-wrote the His solution was to switch managers and
the rock’n’roll world. I’d been doing it for ten years title track, although more crucially the record relocate to New York. He corralled a crack team of
since I left school and was looking for other things. marked the beginning of Winwood’s working helpers – including co-producer Russ Titelman,
So I made a conscious effort to do a lot of sessions partnership with Texan songwriter Will Jennings. James Taylor, Joe Walsh, Chaka Khan and Nile
and work as a sideman, to try to learn how other Winwood also found himself restored to the Rodgers – and returned with his biggest-selling
GETTY

people were putting music together. I toured as a business end of the charts in both the UK and US, solo record to date, 1986’s appropriately
CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 69
“With Spencer Davis we
were discovering blues
and R&B, all this fantastic
music we were hearing
from America,”

The Spencer Davis Group outside the pop


music TV show Ready Steady Go! studios in
Wembley in the 60s: (l-r) Pete York, Muff
Winwood, Spencer Davis, Steve Winwood.
STEVE WINWOOD
Back in the high life: Winwood
collecting his Grammys in
Los Angeles in 1987.

Winwood with
songwriting partner
Will Jennings.

pages of the Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Blind


Faith and beyond. Most of what you might wish
for is here, including Gimme Some Lovin’ and I’m
A Man, Dear Mr. Fantasy, John Barleycorn and The Low
Spark Of High Heeled Boys (arguably Traffic’s greatest
moment), and While You See A Chance and Back In
The High Life Again. Above all, the album reveals that
Winwood is still fully engaged with all the things
that make him great, chief among them being the
finest white-soul voice of his generation.
“Over the last five or ten years we’ve been trying
to hone our live show a little more,” he says. “A lot
of the time I have to do certain stuff, or else people
complain if I don’t play Can’t Find My Way Home
or I’m A Man. So throughout the years we’ve tried
to reinvent them or give them a slightly different
twist, to keep ourselves interested if anything.
And the audiences seem to like them too.
“I’ve been working for the last decade with
José Neto, the Brazilian guitarist, and Richard
Bailey, who’s Trinidadian. So we give it a sort of
Latin/Brazilian feel, and sometimes with a little
jazz in there. We thought it was about time we
committed all this to record.”
Despite the subtle recalibrations of his back
named Back In The High Life. The album won three had a lot of rougher edges, whereas this has that catalogue, it might be easy to surmise that Steve
Grammys, went triple-platinum and delivered smooth eighties production technique. So I would Winwood is riding out his days on past glories.
his first ever US No.1, the ecstatic Higher Love. maintain that I wasn’t particularly selling out. But it turns out that he’s very much fixed on the
His writing partnership with Jennings produced It was all down to the way it was recorded.” future, and in a way that you might not expect.
further hits with Back In The High Life Again and Nearly ten years on, he reveals that he’s finally

I
The Finer Things. t’s been a while since we heard from Steve begun work on a successor to Nine Lives.
In his late 30s, Winwood was suddenly a Winwood on record. His last studio album, “I’ve been quite into dance music lately,” he says.
mainstream superstar. His Nine Lives, was released in 2008. When he’s not “There are some DJ/producers who are doing
sound may have taken on the at home with his family in his some very interesting stuff, so I’ve been looking at
requisite gloss and polish that centuries-old manor house different ways to see how I can work with that. I’ve
the era tended to demand, but in the Cotswolds, he’s out on started putting some things down, and there are
his absorption of disparate the road with his trusty band, also lots of people in places like Brazil and Cuba
styles remained in keeping with playing dates around the US that are doing things with dance music too. So
his previous work. His new and Europe. It’s a vocation that taps into the ethnic music side of things. I’m
standing was compounded in he takes very seriously, and not sure whether it’ll actually be me or whether
1988 by the equally big-hitting tapes every show in order to I might try to invent a third-party act, as it were.
Roll With It, whose title track assess the nuances of each I’m just looking at all possibilities right now.
also topped the Billboard chart. performance. “There are so many different sub-genres that
Winwood is quick to “Technology has made that it’s sometimes difficult for people of my age to
defend his output during very easy to do now,” he says. understand it,” the 69-year-old says laughing,
the latter half of that decade. “It’s just a sort of laptop set-up “so I have to get my son to help me fathom it all
“The music industry was growing at a rate of that we have. Sometimes we do it out. But I do think that dance music takes as much
knots, becoming huge and much more powerful,” just for our own educational purposes, so we can playing and manipulation as any instrument does.
he says. “In some ways I was getting led astray a listen afterwards and check on things to see how “I’m not one of those people who thinks, as
little by the executives. I’m often accused, in that we’re sounding.” a lot of my generation do, that the best music was
period, of moving much more towards pop. But Now, he has just released his first ever live solo made in the sixties and seventies and since then
Back In The High Life still has those elements of collection, Winwood: Greatest Hits Live. The two-disc it’s all been going downhill. There’s some great
ethnic music, folk, jazz and all those things we set serves as a glorious overview of his 50-plus stuff around, and the future holds a lot of very
GETTY x3

were trying to do in Traffic. It’s just that Traffic years in the business, dipping freely into the back interesting things for me. I’m not finished yet.”
CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 71
Pro pilot, fencer, cancer survivor, author… As
you’ll find out from his new autobiography, there’s
much more to Bruce Dickinson than just fronting
one of the biggest heavy metal bands on the planet.
Words: Dave Everley

B I
ruce Dickinson would like you to It’s like the opening of the book says: everything n his late teens, Dickinson moved to London,
know that when it came to writing his moves in mysterious ways. You’ve got no idea ostensibly to study history at university but
autobiography, What Does This Button where you’re going to end up. You have to take in reality to pursue a career in music. After
Do?, he didn’t need any outside help. things as they come. The one thing I am, I suppose, a few false starts, most notably in pub-rockers
“People ask: ‘So who was your ghost is stubborn. I don’t fall over. Or if I do, I get back up. Speed, later called Shots (the highlight of their
writer?’ and I go: “Actually, I did it myself,’” he says career was Dracula, a homage to the literary
proudly. “I physically wrote 180,000 words, and all Some of the teachers you mention were vampire that was more Carry On Screaming than
of it was on WH Smith pads in actual handwriting, fairly despicable. You write about some of it was Bram Stoker), Dickinson ended up as
proper old-school.” the canings they dished out as if there was frontman with the NWOBHM band Samson,
Writing an entire book by hand is a very Bruce a sexual, S&M-like element to them. where he traded under the name Bruce Bruce
Dickinson thing to do. The Iron Maiden singer is The whole era was very strange. These were and sported an impressive moustache.
seemingly a man who can turn his hand to pretty creepy, dirty old men, and it was thought to be
much anything: flying aircraft, fencing, fronting normal and acceptable. The whole Jimmy Savile If you met the twenty-year-old Bruce
one of the most successful bands of the past 40 thing and the rest of it opened up a massive can of Dickinson in the pub, what would you think?
years. The exception is swimming: “I am one of worms, because that stuff was socially acceptable. Gosh. Light the blue touch-paper! I don’t know
nature’s sinkers,” he says. The sort of stuff you’d be banged up for now, and what’s going on with that kid, but something is
What Does This Button Do? is a genuinely quite rightly. You have to pinch yourself and go: going to happen. He’s either going to end up doing
fascinating and funny look back at Dickinson’s life. “I’m really not living in the seventies any more.” what he says he’s going to do or he’s going to end
From his early days growing up in jail. Or at the bottom of the river.
up in the Nottinghamshire Was there anything good
mining town of Worksop about that time? You make no secret of your spliff-smoking
(where he was raised by his “MY SCHOOL There were a lot of brilliant days in Samson, but then you stopped.
grandparents until the age of things about the seventies, cos Had Samson not been such a bunch of potheads,
six) to his roller-coaster 40-year REPORTS WERE it was pretty disorganised and I wouldn’t have bothered at all. I was like: “I’ve
music career, it paints a candid ALWAYS SIMILAR: anarchic. But the flip side to done the cannabis now, I don’t see any point in
picture of a life well lived. that was that a lot of people got taking it further.” Nothing else happens. All that
Today Dickinson is in ‘WOULD DO away with doing things that does happen is that people seem to slow down
characteristically voluble BETTER IF HE really weren’t so pleasant. and eat a lot.
mood, expounding on
everything from the torrid DIDN’T PLAY THE There’s one teacher, John Did drugs get in the way of your ambition?
time he had in the British CLASS CLOWN 24 Worsley, that you speak No, not really. They just didn’t do anything for
educational system to his highly of. He introduced me creatively. The first time, you’re like: “Whoa,
successful battle with cancer. HOURS A DAY.’” you to fencing. Did you what’s all this about?!” But I soon realised I could
“Writing a book forces you stay in contact with him? get the same effect just by wandering around and
to look at yourself and what you’ve done,” he says. I didn’t, but funnily enough I met his brother using my imagination. I thought: “I don’t need to
“It’s an education.” years later. Maiden were doing something in smoke something to go and imagine that.” It was
Florida in the middle of the eighties. There was a nice awakening, but once your consciousness
Your parents were often absent during your this fencing competition in Fort Myers, and I is awake, you go: “I don’t need that any more.” It’s
early years – they were on the road with ended up driving out there. I met this bloke called like writing really trippy lyrics – I’ve never taken an
a performing dog act. Were you always Worsley. I went: “Worsley? John Worsley?” And acid trip in my life. I’ve never eaten a mushroom or
destined to follow them into show business? he went: “Yeah, that’s my brother.” Fencing is a had anything remotely hallucinogenic. Everything
Even before I knew properly who my parents very, very small world. comes out of my imagination.
were, I was after a pair of angel wings in the school
nativity play. I wanted to be the person wearing Do you still fence? You always avoided cocaine. Why? It must
them. My school reports were always depressingly Yes, but I hardly have any time to go near it. I keep have been freely available.
similar: “Has not fulfilled his good potential, would wandering around and looking at all my kit, going: I never got cocaine. I got speed, because it made
do better if he didn’t play the class clown 24 hours “It’s getting a bit rusty now.” [Laughs] Like me. you run around really fast. But then it also made
a day.” you feel absolutely shit. As far as cocaine is
Have you still got it in you, though? concerned, people get mashed and then sit there
You paint a vivid picture of your school days: Absolutely. If I had a good run up, where I didn’t with the most stupid gibberish coming out of
bullying, regular beatings from the teachers. have other stuff going on, I’d be good. I love it. It’s their gobs for hours and hours on end. It’s just
It sounds pretty horrific, but did it also make really good fun. It’s cathartic and you get out there tedious at best, and at worst it turns people into
you the man you are? and have a yell and a scream but nobody dies. paranoid nutcases. So I’ve got no time for
72 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
JOHN MCMURTRIE
Samson, with
the moustachioed
Bruce Bruce (second left).

On stage during yet


another of Maiden’s
gruelling tours.

“I’VE NEVER HAD ANYTHING REMOTELY


HALLUCINOGENIC. EVERYTHING COMES
OUT OF MY IMAGINATION.”
“What’s the point of all this?” And it turns into the – that’s what the listening audience want. But even
world’s biggest circular argument. “What’s the if I had come out with a clear direction I don’t think
point?” “The point of it all is just to do it.” “Well, people were ready to listen anyway, because they
cocaine whatsoever. And obviously anything there’s other things I want to do…” were so shell-shocked at me leaving.
resembling depressives, I just don’t get. I don’t

F
get why someone would want to shut reality off. or Dickinson, there certainly were other What did you learn about yourself during the
Cos reality is brilliant. things to do. In the book, he doesn’t hold years away from Maiden?
back when talking about his growing I actually learnt a lot more about other people.
You write about Iron Maiden’s success in the disillusion with Maiden during the early 90s, and The one thing that happens when you’re in a big,
eighties in the book, but also about the hard his subsequent solo career. The impression of that powerful rock band – as in, powerful in the media
work involved. What does the pie chart of period, at least initially, is of a man who stepped – is that you have all kinds of people who will
‘Fun’ versus ‘Not Fun’ in that period look like? out of a gilded cage, only to spend the next few protect you; all kinds of people who will hide bad
By and large we were working so hard, it was years trying to escape his own shadow. reviews from you or make sure you don’t see that
Groundhog Day: the venues get bigger, the venues paper because it didn’t say nice things about you.
get bigger, the venues get bigger. The roller coaster What was it like to leave Iron Maiden? I don’t think that’s very helpful. But when you leave
never stopped going down. At one point, Rod It was like being a wild animal in a cage. They the fold and you’re suddenly on your own, outside
[Smallwood, manager] had us doing nine shows, suddenly let you out and say: “There you go, off the protective pentagram, you see all these people
one day off, eight shows, one day off. I said: “You you go into the jungle, feed yourself.” And you queuing up to give you a good kicking, because
can’t run human beings like that, they’ll fall over.” go: “I’ve forgotten how to do that.” When I quit, they couldn’t when you were in Maiden. And you
We were always arguing with Rod about making everybody assumed I knew what to do, but I didn’t. think: “Really? Wow.”
life more comfortable for ourselves. At one point, It was a question of building it all up again.
halfway through a tour, the stage manager literally Most bands have the luxury of doing that when Did the negative reviews bother you?
sleepwalked off the stage. We said: “Don’t you nobody’s bothered about them, so they make all I was quite sensitive to reviews, especially if
think it’s about time we got a tour bus?” And he these really goofy mistakes. I just happened to go I thought they weren’t being fair. At the same
went [grudgingly]: “Yeah, alright then.” and do the whole thing in public. In retrospect, time, I was never afraid of a critical review
MAIN: ROSS HALFIN; SAMSON: GETTY

I didn’t do a bad job of it once I’d got things in focus. if it was honest and laid out reasons why.
But was the whole thing actually enjoyable?
Of course it was enjoyable. The only thing you What do you mean? When Blaze Bayley replaced you in Maiden,
miss is any semblance of life outside it. That’s There were some great songs on [Dickinson’s first you sent him two bricks painted yellow.
where it started to feel oppressive, especially post-Maiden solo album] Balls To Picasso. The big I saw an interview with him, and there was a line
towards the end of the Powerslave tour. You think: Achilles heel was that there was no clear direction at the end where he said: “I feel like Dorothy in
74 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
Aces high: Dickinson BRUCE DICKINSON
piloting Maiden’s
private plane on tour.

GOING IT
ALONE
The pick of Dickinson’s solo songs.

DRACULA
Neither one of his greatest songs nor even really
a solo number, this creaky slice of Hammer Horror
heavy metal by long-forgotten London band Shots
warrants inclusion as Dickinson’s very first recording.
A curio, but one that pointed to greater things.

SON OF A GUN
The Dickinson solo career got off to a flying start with
the glorious opening track of his debut solo album,
Tattooed Millionaire. A brooding takedown of religious
imperialism, it’s one of the finest things he’s
The Wizard Of Oz.” I thought: “That’s really sweet. done, don’t be a politician. It’s the civil written, with or without Maiden.
I know exactly how you feel.” So I painted two servants who run the politicians, as they
bricks and sent them to him. quickly realise when they get into office. TATTOOED MILLIONAIRE
We stand more chance of helping The album itself was a stylistic grab-bag, but
Did you ever see Maiden with Blaze singing? people out in Maiden by brewing beer Tattooed Millionaire’s title track was a brash
No. It was all a little bit fraught. The only time I’ve and creating jobs, or taking a hundred pop-metal gem with shades of Def Leppard’s
Photograph. Who was it about? Our
actually listened to the albums was when Steve and fifty people out on the road with us money’s on Nikki Sixx…
[Harris] said: “We need to go and record one of and giving them all jobs. We do a huge
these songs.” I thought: “Oh, how does it go, then? amount with Maiden. TEARS OF
I’d better go and have a listen to it.” THE DRAGON
How did your cancer diagnosis change Dickinson’s first post-Maiden album,
Blaze gave it his best shot. your view of death? 1994’s Balls To Picasso, was directionless
and unmemorable, but it did produce this
He did. Absolutely. Hats off. Full-on respect to I’m a bit more philosophical about it now. belter, featuring probably his best vocal
him for that. His voice is very different to mine, Although I wasn’t at any stage… how can I put performance since Maiden’s Hallowed Be Thy Name.
and there was a point when he got the job where it… near death, I could certainly see it in the
I thought: “How the hell is he going to manage to rear-view mirror. Death doesn’t really cross your OCTAVIA
do those songs? Maybe they just won’t do them.” mind much, unless someone has an accident or 1996’s Skunkworks was the sound of a man trying
to reinvent himself for the modern era. It
I said to someone at the time: “Why don’t falls under a bus. As human beings we brush it off,
largely fell flat, but it threw up a few lost
they really do something off the wall and really especially if you’re at a relatively young age, full treasures, including this mini-classic.
outrageous? Get a woman! There’s some of of piss and vinegar, running around like a lunatic.
these female Finnish vocalists kicking around, And then all of a sudden in comes Mr Death ROAD TO HELL
and they’ve got the most with his scythe, pointing Dickinson’s reunion with Adrian Smith
outrageous voices! Do and saying: “I have come for on 1997’s Accident Of Birth found him
reconnecting with classic heavy
something to really, really you.” And you go: “Oh fuck.
knock people’s socks off.” But “FENCING IS Really? I’ve got things to do.”
metal and brought Iron Maiden’s
greatest songwriting team back
I’d have been fucked then. I’d CATHARTIC. YOU So suddenly you find yourself together. With this galloping
never have come back. really getting on with that, anthem, they wrote the best
GET OUT THERE, living your life that bit more, Maiden single of the 1990s.
HAVE A YELL AND
D
ickinson did return doing the things you’ve got
to Maiden, of course, to do. I find I have less time
MAN OF SORROWS
in 1999, helping to A SCREAM BUT for people who want to waste
Dickinson doesn’t do ballads, but
when it comes to stately epics, few can touch him,
usher in a period of success
that outstripped even that of
NOBODY DIES.” my time. as this Aleister Crowley-inspired slow-burner from
Accident Of Birth proves.
the band’s 80s heyday. Since then he has diverted So what does the future hold?
his energies into other areas, including flying Maiden are having a bit of a rest. We’ve THE CHEMICAL WEDDING
(he’s a qualified commercial airline pilot, and 1998’s The Chemical Wedding was inspired by
a lot of things going on at the moment,
painter, poet and visionary William Blake, and
famously piloted Maiden’s Ed Force One plane but nothing I can discuss in detail right the soaring title track flew on the wings of the
on several tours) and beer-making (he had hands- now. There’s half a solo album sitting in angels Blake once visualised.
on involvement in launching Maiden’s signature LA too. I’d love to go and finish it.
Trooper beer). Even a potentially life-threatening The other thing is, let’s see how the JERUSALEM
diagnosis with head and neck cancer in 2014 was book goes, because I really enjoyed Blake’s iconic poem (and English rugby
anthem) was the song Dickinson was
seen off with a characteristic combativeness. writing it. I wrote 180,000 words and
born to sing. In his hands, it’s turned into
obviously there was a bit of tweaking, and something new: part mystical treatise,
You steer clear of politics in the book. You’ve we had to take out big chunks for space. part Celtic metal drinking anthem.
tried a lot of other things, but have you ever There’s about two-thirds of a book on the
thought of running for office? cutting-room floor. I couldn’t do another NAVIGATE THE
[Emphatically] No, no, no, no, no, It’s madness. autobiography because I’ve already done SEAS OF THE SUN
Bruce’s feet were back under the Maiden
No. I’ve got quite a few friends who are actually one of those. But who knows, it could possibly
table by the time of 2005’s Tyranny Of Souls, but he’d
MPs of all shapes and sizes. And I’ve had my fair turn into something else. kept some classic tunes for himself, including this slice
share of dealings with government agencies from of part-acoustic, psychedelically tinged interstellar
the aviation side of things. And the one thing What Does This Button Do? is published on Oct 19 brilliance that sounded like nothing he’d written before.
I’ve realised is that if you want to get anything by HarperCollins and is reviewed on p104.

CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 75
“This old black gentleman said:
‘Do you like the blues?’ I said:
‘I don’t know what the blues is.’
He said: ‘I’ll teach you.’”
The
Odd
d
Couple
l
A chance meeting in a music shop as an 11-year-
old sealed Tyler Bryant‘s fate, and led to him
learning about the blues and a whole lot more.
Now a shit-hot guitarist with his own band, he
shares stages with some of rock’s biggest names.

E
very town below the Mason- on a shelf in some record company vault ever segregated, but people would hang out in their
Dixon line has a Roosevelt since) crackle with energy. Epic tours opening for own world. There had never been a black man
Twitty. He’s the kind of old dude AC/DC and Guns N’ Roses have taught them the come up and offer to do something so nice for me
you find in music shops or bars, value of reaching right out to the back rows. or my family.”
or maybe out on the street, With his jet-black hair, ivory skin and AC/DC But the young Tyler was adamant, and his family
playing the blues like Howlin’ T-shirt, the 26-year-old Bryant looks like a cross buckled. His mum began taking her son to Twitty’s
Wolf or Muddy Waters or Robert Johnson. In between Keith Richards and Neil Gaiman’s house. The older man played his young protégé
another life he might have been as famous as those Sandman. In person he’s all southern charm – one classic John Lee Hooker and BB King songs,
guys, but in this one the world passed him by part self-deprecation, two parts self-belief. teaching him how to play the blues. “He was my
a long time ago. Still, as long as he has a guitar and Bryant is Texan through and through. He was best friend,” Bryant says with a smile.
life in his fingers, all those missed opportunities born in 1991 in Honey Grove (population 1,668), This mismatched couple made the perfect team.
don’t mean a thing. which neighbours Paris, where Bryant met the They put a band together, the Blues Buddies. When
Tyler Bryant met Roosevelt Twitty a decade and man who would become the biggest single Bryant was 15, the Blues Buddies opened up for
a half ago in a guitar shop in Paris, Texas. Bryant’s influence on his life: Roosevelt Twitty. Paul Simon; Bryant got kicked out of his high-
parents had bought young Tyler, an 11-year-old “I knew a couple of chords, but that was all,” school marching band for missing that day’s
obsessed with Elvis, a pawn shop acoustic guitar Bryant says of that fateful guitar shop meeting. practice. “I didn’t give a shit,” he says with a grin.
that needed stringing. “Mister Twitty told my mom that if I wanted to The way Bryant tells it, their friendship became
“Sitting in a corner of the guitar shop was this old learn how to play, he would teach me for free.” about more than just music. “The kindness and
black gentleman, playing a Lightnin’ Hopkins-style What did a 60-something blues musician see in compassion he showed me, and the way he shared
blues song,” Bryant remembers. “I was immediately a pasty 11-year-old white kid? music with me, it completely changed things, to
moved by it. I’d never heard anything like it. where I watched it kill racism in my friends
So I sat down and listened. He said: ‘Do you and my family.”
like the blues?’ I said: ‘I don’t know what the
blues is.’ He said: ‘I’ll teach you.’”
“My plan is to build up Roosevelt Twitty died in 2013 after a fall.
“Sixteenth of May,” Bryant says instantly.
Roosevelt Twitty did just that, shaping and the Shakedown and He has the older man’s signature tattooed
moulding this skinny kid. Bryant learned the on his arm. “I had him write it before he
blues from Roosevelt Twitty, but he picked
start a revolution.” passed. I told him I was gonna have it with
up so much more too: dedication, decency, me at every show. When we played Madison
hard work. Fifteen years on, those lessons are Square Garden [supporting AC/DC, in 2016],
starting to pay off. “I don’t know,” he says thoughtfully. “Maybe he I was like, ‘This is gonna be fun, Mister Twitty.’ He
could sense that I was genuinely interested, and he was right there with me.”

T
yler Bryant isn’t really a bluesman any was moved. You can tell when what you’re doing is

B
longer, but its fire still burns in his soul. hitting someone in the heart, and what he was ryant left Honey Grove, and Texas, a few
With his band, Tyler Bryant & The doing was getting me right there [taps his chest]. years before the man who was his mentor
Shakedown, he’s manning the rock’n’roll I understood it, even though I couldn’t play it.” passed away. At 17 he quit school and
barricades, fighting against the musical dreck that The Bryants didn’t jump at Twitty’s offer. They moved to Nashville to play music, get noticed and
threatens to swamp modern culture. were suspicious of why anyone would seemingly become famous. He was an outsider there,
He’s still a killer guitarist, of course, but the offer something for nothing, let alone an elderly a battered denim jacket amid the rhinestone shirts
Shakedown are all about the songs first and black man in small-town Texas. and nudie suits of Music City.
foremost, and the ones on their self-titled second “The town I’m from, especially back then, there “I was a rock’n’roll kid in a country town,” he
album (their third if you count the one they was more of a racial tension,” he says. “It’s so weird says. “I would wear my mom’s flare pants cos it
recorded a couple of years ago and has been sitting to think about it now, but it was almost… not was the closest I could get to bell-bottoms.
CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 77
TYLER BRYANT

Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown:


(l to r) Noah Denney, Bryant,
Graham Whitford, Caleb Crosby.

He hustled his way into the local music scene. He The Family Stone’s Higher. “It wasn’t even
set up a fake email address and pretended to be in the set-list,” Bryant says, laughing.
a manager touting a shit-hot new guitarist. “I’d just “I probably ended up jamming with him
toot my own horn as this fake person to get myself forty or fifty times.”
gigs,” he says. “I’d call local box offices over and Bryant put together the Shakedown All shook up: Tyler Bry
ant
over: ‘I represent Tyler Bryant, and this kid is hot.’” before he hit the road with Beck. In true as an Elvis Presley-
Why not phone them as Tyler Bryant? hustling style, he’d hang out in obsessed pre-teen.
“That didn’t seem professional.” restaurants and ask if anyone knew any
Whereas lying that you had a manager… drummers. Finally he met Caleb Crosby. “We you: ‘Oh, actually I’m bipolar, and by the way,
He laughs. “Well, it worked.” jammed together once, played our first show I don’t take my medication.’ When we signed with
These days, whenever he meets young kids, a week later, and we haven’t stopped since.” Republic, they said:, ‘We see this band representing
would-be musicians, he gives them the same counterculture rock’n’roll. Rock’n’roll’s coming

T
advice: “Man, you’ve got to sell yourself. You’ve got oday the Shakedown are completed by back, we’re gonna change the mould with you
to go out and hustle and make things happen.” bassist Noah Denney and guitarist guys,’ all those things you want to hear. Then they
He’s got a knack for making things happen. In Graham Whitford. The latter is the son said: ‘You guys don’t have a radio single, we’re not
2011 he was of Aerosmith going to do anything, it costs too much money to
invited to open guitarist Brad put out a record.’”
for Jeff Beck Whitford, He sounds exasperated. “I could upload a record
on his Emotion
“I would wear my mom’s flare a connection that for fourteen dollars for the whole world to hear.
& Commotion tour. pants cos it was the closest doubtless helped I could put it on SoundCloud for jack shit.’”
Beck had spotted them bag a slot Six of the songs appeared on the Shakedown’s
a video of this I could get to bell-bottoms.” supporting the 2015 EP The Wayside. Another seven are sitting in
teenage guitar Aerosmith earlier a vault somewhere, gathering dust. “We’re not
prodigy on this year. Sure, even allowed to re-record them,” says Bryant.
YouTube and liked what he saw. a little nepotism never hurt anybody, although that He suggests that one day soon the Shakedown
“He was looking for an acoustic opener and doesn’t explain how the Shakedown have ended will become so big that Republic will have no
thought I’d fit the bill,” Bryant says. “I was throwing- up opening for Guns N’ Roses and AC/DC. And choice but to release the music. He’s only half
up nervous, because he’s my favourite guitarist. He ZZ Top. And BB King. And Lynyrd Skynyrd, REO joking. “My plan is to build up the Shakedown and
would just nod when we passed each other. We Speedwagon and Vince Gill. But there’s a catch: start a revolution,” he says. “I want to get enough
didn’t really talk, so I didn’t think he liked me at all. despite all the help, the Shakedown are still waiting people together, going: ‘We demand this music!’”
I thought: ‘This is not good.’” for their big breakthrough. Fair to say? This big talk isn’t as ridiculous as it sounds. The
One night, Beck’s drummer told Bryant his boss “Totally fair to say. It’s incredibly frustrating.” Shakedown’s new album – obviously not released
wanted to talk to him. Bryant thought he’d gone Bryant frowns, then smiles his Texas smile. on Republic – shows there’s plenty of life left in
over the top on stage and was about to get kicked “Hey, we’re working on it.” rock’n’roll yet. The road miles the band have put
off the tour. That’s not even the most frustrating thing that in, playing to huge audiences, is paying off. Tyler
“He [Beck] was like: ‘You’re doing a good job. Do has happened to the Shakedown, he says. In 2015 Bryant might not be a superstar just yet, but he’s
you want to come play with us tomorrow night?’” they had a whole new record in the can and ready working on it all day, every day. Somewhere,
Bryant says, his eyes widening. “And I was playing to go. The only problem was that their US record Roosevelt Twitty is looking on proudly.
it cool, while on the inside I’m freaking out.” label at the time, Republic, wouldn’t put it out.
Bryant spent the night binge-learning the songs “You start dating someone, your date’s gonna Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown is released on Nov 3
on Beck’s set-list. In the end they played Sly And put on their best face first,” he says. “Then they tell via Snakefarm and will be reviewed next issue.

78 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
T T EAMROCK.COM
A / RA
N DI
TE O
LIS

O
R
iO UD
LO
SA XC
PP, MI
TUN D AT
E IN RA MAN
DIO AND ON-DE

THE SOUNDTRACK TO YOUR LIFE


Rudderless after the Velvet Underground, Lou Reed ditched New York for London, hooked
up with Bowie and created the aptly named Transformer, the defining record of his career.
Words: Chris Roberts Photos: Mick Rock


F
ollow the dotted line,” Lou Reed Velvets at every opportunity, playing their songs in redemptive, self-contained world, where the drive
grumbled at me in 2004. “Look, his set for two years and even singing Andy Warhol for love led individuals down wrong turns into
put all the songs together and it’s on Hunky Dory. Perhaps calculating that he’d gain impersonal sex and imperfect drugs. There was no
certainly an autobiography – just as much reflected cool as he’d give out, he whisked better microcosm of this than in one of the most
not necessarily mine. I write about his American heroes and new pals – Reed and Iggy unexpected hit singles of its era. “Any song,” Nick
other people, tell stories, always did. Any truly Pop – around London, showing them off to the Kent wrote in the NME, “that mentions oral sex,
creative person could make five albums a year, press. Bowie saw in Iggy the wild, feral creature male prostitution, methedrine and valium, and
easily. Each record is just what you did that week. he himself was too cerebral to be. Reed arguably still gets Radio One airplay, must be truly cool.”
Another week you might have done the same combined the essences of both, yet he was

W
songs differently. But listen – I love every last one of malleable. He wanted a career. alk On The Wild Side is, along with
them. Every single second of every last one, okay?” He knew the ‘business people’ were urging him Perfect Day, one of the songs for which
Okay. Fortunately for him, and for us, in late to record with Bowie as the results would prove the world at large will remember Reed,
1972 what he did that week beat most people’s both vibrant and commercially viable. “And it even if he fluctuated in later years between being
year. Transformer remains a remarkable arranged turned out to be true, didn’t it?” he smirked. grateful and deeming it a pain in the albatross.
marriage of gritty, witty words and pop succour. Having always worn head-to-toe black, and At the time of recording, it was just another song
It anointed him the godfather of anti-stars, accustomed to having films projected onto to his ears. His own preference for a single was
opening up a career that may otherwise have him, he allowed Angie Bowie to dress him more the wiry rocker Hangin’ ’Round. “Which is why
swiftly gone the way of all flesh. exotically. Going heavy on the black eyeliner, he no one listens to me.”
“I don’t have a personality of my own,” Reed became the Phantom Of Rock. “I realised I could As he’d recount during the 1978 shows at New
said in 1972. “I just pick up on other people’s.” be anything I wanted,” he drawled. York’s Bottom Line (documented on the Take No
He’d come to London for a change of pace, On July 8 he made his London debut, as Bowie/ Prisoners live album), he’d been approached by
to “get out of the New York thing”, but his first, Ziggy’s guest at a Save The Whales benefit at the theatrical entrepreneurs in ’71. They’d proposed
eponymous, post-Velvets solo album, recorded Royal Festival Hall. A week later his solo gig sold the idea of adapting the 1956 Nelson Algren novel
on the dirty boulevards of Willesden Green in out the King’s Cross Cinema, and he smiled as it about vice and addiction, A Walk On The Wild Side.
West London, had stuttered rather than strutted. sank in that the audience knew the words to his “Are you kidding?” Reed protested, true to his
Nobody, least of all him, was sure where a former Velvets numbers. contrary nature. “It’s about cripples in the ghetto.
Velvet Underground frontman should go next. That’s where Mick Rock shot the live photo that I’m the best-qualified person to set music to a book
This is where the personality came in, and became the iconic album cover. Years on, Reed about cripples in the ghetto?”
plenty came out. Just five sniffed: “I did three or four He demurred, officially, yet borrowed the title
months after that debut, shows like that, then went and sketched out ideas. Nudged first by Warhol
the November release of “I DON’T HAVE A back to leather. I was just and then by Bowie, he redrafted, peopling this
Transformer made Reed kidding around. I’m not into backdrop with the New York personalities he’d
a household name in all the PERSONALITY OF MY make-up.” been transfixed by and “picked up on”: Candy
most disreputable homes. His new glam guru was, Darling, Joe Dallesandro (Little Joe) and Joseph
The world’s fastest-rising
OWN. I JUST PICK UP though. Bowie ushered Campbell (the Sugar Plum Fairy) were members
rock star, David Bowie, ON OTHER PEOPLE’S.” him into Trident Studios of Warhol’s pansexual ‘superstar’ parade. This
and his gifted lieutenant in August. Sessions were coterie of actors, artists, transvestites, junkies
Mick Ronson, bang in the rushed, as Bowie’s other and wannabes was both eulogised and mildly
throes of Ziggy Stardust, coloured in Reed’s commitments, with Ziggymania breaking mocked by the song’s taunting, partly ironic title.
persona. They coaxed forth the nervy, big, were escalating. Reed was, of course, “If I retire now,” Reed said soon after its success,
needy spirit of Andy Warhol that grumpy on occasion. The honeymoon having evidently warmed to it, “Walk On The
Reed had ingested and brought him of mutual adoration was fading. Yet Wild Side is the one I’d want to be known by, my
alabaster-faced into the glam rock era. chief arranger Ronson and unflappable masterpiece. I found the secret with that song.
They gave his unorthodox songwriting engineer Ken Scott (who’d produced the That’s the one that’ll make them forget Heroin.”
and unique vocal stylings the chance Ziggy album) caught lightning in a bottle. In fact, his new teenage audience in Britain,
to step out of the gutter and into the Bowie had encouraged buying it because Bowie endorsed it, had never
ALL PHOTOS © COPYRIGHT MICK ROCK, 2017. USED WITH PERMISSION.

spotlight. The cult of Lou became Reed to reveal tales heard of Heroin, and at that time barely registered
a small religion as a freak hit and mysteries the Velvets. Transformer served as a gateway drug.
single boosted his ego from his Factory With radio DJs too naïve or dense to notice the
and confidence. years, to talk about sex and drugs references, the single climbed to
A mixed blessing. the characters, the No.10 in the UK – albeit six months later – and
Transformer bathos and drama. broke in America. Herbie Flowers’s upright bass
remains a caustic, He was eager to hear about slide, baritone sax from Ronnie Ross (Bowie’s sax
camp classic of underground New York – an teacher) and the ‘coloured girls’ going ‘doo, da-doo’
palatable pop transgression. impossibly glamorous notion to allowed Reed’s narration to drip with presence. He
Things moved quickly. As a fan, early-70s Brits. would pick the bones of New York for lyrical ideas
Bowie had been name-checking the The album became a seedy but ever more throughout a career of glorious highs
78 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
Mick Rock’s iconic shot of
Lou Reed that became the
cover of Transformer.
LOU REED

Wild side: Reed, Mick


Jagger and David Bowie.

star insisted that this album had better be about


Lou, not him. Reed acknowledged the majesty of
this section.
“It’s not the kind of part I could ever have
come up with, even if you’d left me alone with
a computer programme for a year. But David hears
those parts, plus he’s got a freaky voice and can go
that high. It’s very, very beautiful.”
The song in itself is no slouch, its sweetness
Hangin’ ’round: Reed in turning sour through jealousy and paranoia. It
his trademark black. had been demoed by the Velvets during the Loaded
sessions, but nothing like this. The narrator’s
and intriguing not-so-highs – not least on 1989’s years on, it became even bigger than Wild Side ever comatose wonderment at technology – ‘I like to
New York – but this inked his identity. was”, chuckled Reed. “Go figure.” watch things on TV’ – seemed to hint at Warhol’s
Still in thrall to the bohemian preachings of Back in 1972, it was already confusing and I-am-a-machine passivity then, but seems spookily
mentor-guru-poet Delmore Schwartz, he would confounding people. Was this a beautiful, sincere prescient now. Addiction in another form.
fret about “selling out”. Yet as his tones oozed and love ballad or a subversive hymn to smack? If the New York Telephone Conversation is a gossipy send-
seeped from radios around the world, the rare former, its tenderness – ‘drink sangria in the park, up of Warhol’s diaries, while the old-time jazz of
blend of sarcasm and soul had the knock-on effect feed animals in the zoo’ – felt authentic, topped by Goodnight Ladies is the antithesis, except for the
of boosting the profile of Warhol’s loosely related the Supremes-referencing ‘you keep me hanging cynicism, of the Velvets. Reed was imagining his
film trilogy Flesh, Heat and Trash. A debt repaid. on’. Others insisted it was a dedication to Bettye interior life as a nocturnal, nightmarish cabaret.
Warhol had also helped the genesis of Vicious, the Kronstadt, whom Reed – for all this album’s overt Indeed, on his next masterpiece, Berlin, he forsake
album’s firm yet feathery opener. He’d suggested sexual ambiguity – married in ’73. Either way, these producers’ pop arrangements that dressed
the title, adding, “You know, vicious, like: I hit you Ronson’s strings and piano capture the grandeur his vignettes of sickly city life and gambled on
with a flower.” Ronson eases the riff along but goes and frailty of falling in love. Even Reed was full of what Bob Ezrin called “a film for the ears”. Perhaps
for a flailing Moonage Daydream-style wig-out over wonder for them. Cast against type here, he was he resented the kudos afforded his collaborators
the fade. To Lester Bangs, Reed declared it “a hate someone else, someone good. “I’m really very here. “He’s very clever,” he snarled of Bowie. “He
song”, adding: “I drink constantly.” inconsistent,” he muttered. learned how to be hip. Associating his name with
He’s on more familiar ground in Hangin’ ’Round, me brought his name to a lot more people.”

O
n an otherwise its prickly put-downs laid Mercurial as ever, he later asserted, “I love
deftly produced down not long after Bowie him. He’s very good in the studio. The kid’s got
album, Vicious is “WALK ON THE WILD and Ronson had bashed everything. Everything.”
oddly tame and muddy, but out Chuck Berry’s Round Lou Reed changed his mind about Transformer,
we do get the first dose of SIDE IS THE ONE I’D And Round. Make Up is fairly the album that made him a big noise and rebooted
the pop-operatic backing difficult to misinterpret: that autobiography, more times than he changed
vocals from Bowie and
WANT TO BE KNOWN ‘We’re coming out, out of our shirts. On its 25th-anniversary reissue in 1997, he
female duo Thunderthighs, BY, MY MASTERPIECE.” closets’ was a slogan the Gay commissioned me to write sleeve-notes, only to
which became such a key Liberation movement had nix them because, in a fit of revisionism, he didn’t
feature of Transformer. The adopted as a global rallying want any mention, however passing, of “sexual
nursery rhymes from purgatory continue with call. This tough guy’s paean to lip gloss and perfume experimentation”. Seven years later he told me he
Andy’s Chest – which Reed said was about Warhol’s is enhanced by Herbie Flowers’s tuba obbligato. was thinking of remixing it. “That oughta be fun.
shooting by Valerie Solanas, “even though the Wagon Wheel and I’m So Free are conventional We could put Bowie’s saxophone right at the back.
lyrics don’t sound like it”. He’d recorded it with the guitar chuggers that coast happily on the goodwill We could mess around a whole lot.”
Velvets in 1969, but the Brits pulled back the tempo generated by the album around them: you can Such mischief. Today, on its 45th anniversary
and highlighted the macabre imagery – bats, sense Ronson and Bowie trying a few minor twists (with a lavish Mick Rock photography book
rattlesnakes, bloodsuckers. to jazz them up. released to celebrate) it’s safe to say most of us
The new verse about Daisy May’s bellybutton Satellite Of Love, however, is another message haven’t changed our minds: it’s a louche, landmark
ALL PHOTOS © COPYRIGHT MICK ROCK, 2017. USED WITH PERMISSION.

becoming her mouth was one step above music from the gods. The piano-driven album that changed – transformed, as in
hall, and Reed confessed that he didn’t know arrangement, with finger- increased the voltage of – his
what it meant. ‘Swoop, swoop! Rock, rock!’ went those clicks and those backing life, and countless others.
multitracked backing vocals, as Bowie and Scott vocals, echoes Drive-In
enacted their current obsession with a kind of Saturday. Bowie soars Transformer by Lou Reed
postmodern doo-wop. stratospherically over And Mick Rock, the
It’s easy to forget now that Perfect Day was the coda. Ken Scott has limited edition book, is
‘just’ the hit’s B-side (technically the single was revealed that they could available from Genesis
a double A-side). Its surreal 90s crossover success have made this climax Publications at www.
as a family-favourite BBC commercial featuring even more huge with what transformerbook.com.
Boyzone and Pavarotti meant that “twenty-five Bowie sang on mic, but the Tel: +44 (0)1483 540 970.

80 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
148 PAGES
THE COMP !
LE
ZEP STORYTE

Ordering is easy – go online at


www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk
or get it from selected supermarkets & newsagents
p 92
Europe
On the rocks? No, they’ve just
released their best album
since the band’s 2003 return.

Classic Rock Ratings Ingredients:


QQQQQQQQQQ A Classic
QQQQQQQQQQ
QQQQQQQQQQ
Excellent
Very Good
p86 Albums
QQQQQQQQQQ Good p96 Reissues
QQQQQQQQQQ Above Average
QQQQQQQQQQ Average p102 Buyer’s Guide
QQQQQQQQQQ Below Par
QQQQQQQQQQ A Disappointment p104 DVDs & Books
QQQQQQQQQQ Pants
QQQQQQQQQQ Pish

18 PAGES 100% ROCK


Edited By Ian Fortnam ian.fortnam@futurenet.com

CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 85
MADS PERCH/PRESS
PERCH/P
PERCH/
MADS PERCH
PRESS
UMS

86 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
ALB
Brand New the wrong singer for Journey

Robert Plant Science Fiction


PROCRASTINATE! MUSIC TRAITORS
but he sounds magnificent here.
Fuck the term ‘supergroup’:
Carry Fire NONESUCH/WARNER BROS
Farewell album from Long that’s not what this is about.
Island alt.rockers. Sons Of Apollo are simply
Eleventh solo album with the Sensational Space Arriving as an emo band in a group that are super.
2000, Brand New have since QQQQQQQQQQ
Shifters, featuring a duet with Chrissie Hynde. sculpted their sound and Dave Ling
indulged their ambitions to
create a niche for themselves in Steve Hill

M
aybe it’s the times we live in, aware of his own mortality: ‘My senses the pantheon of alternative rock. Solo Recordings Volume 3
with the knowledge and diverse have escaped me/My mind is on the run.’ The With Science Fiction, their NO LABEL

resources available to musicians, arrangement patters discreetly like snow first album in eight years and Roll over, Don Partridge.
but despite the parlous state of the industry, on a window pane. the last before they will split in If this is Vol 3, then Montreal
for veterans with more than a scintilla of Still, there’s life in the old dog. New 2018, they have written their one-man blues band Steve Hill is
curiosity, age is not necessarily a process World… is announced by a heavy, billowing own eulogy. Seething with not a novelty one-off. It may be
of inevitable artistic deterioration. Robert guitar intro, crashing onto a ‘virgin shore’. anxiety and frontman Jesse a low-fi experience and you may
Plant has just turned 69 and there’s The allusion to ‘immigrant’ is one of a few Lacey’s trademark sarcastic have heard many of these riffs
a distinctly melancholic, late autumnal feel fragmentary Zeppelin references that self-flagellation, and with a before, but you can’t fault Hill’s
gorgeous production that gives committed determination or
to some of the lyrics on Carry Fire. However, blow back on the winds of these songs,
the music space to breathe, it’s his talents as a performer.
in its intricate, hybrid weave of folk, rock, adding to a sense of Plant as a figure etched
an emotional, intelligent work of The gruff boogie of Damned
North African rhythms and stylings, and and weathered by great adventures from
grace and beauty. and the mud-stirring Dangerous
even discreet fibres of electronica, this long ago, unsure how many lie ahead of Early growing pains have been set up the album’s hard-rocking
album represents a higher creative point him. Dance With You Tonight dramatically replaced with the older and credentials, and Hill has clearly
than, say, his somewhat poodle-haired exacerbates that sense, haunted by the wiser Lacey’s view of the big learnt from the masters, from
solo work of the early 1980s. backward taping on the soundtrack. picture, the spiderweb-delicate Hendrix onwards. Subtle it ain’t,
Carry Fire once more features the This, however, is an album rooted in Could Never Be Heaven taking but he can certainly play, as the
Sensational Space Shifters, whose slightly the present day. Carving Up The World Again a distinctly grown-up look at acoustic love song Emily and his
cheery moniker belies their excellence. …A Wall And Not A Fence feels explicitly the nature of relationships. dextrous take on Going Down The
Their instrumental contribution is worth geopolitical, with its Native American- And when they let loose and Road Feeling Bad clearly show.
listing in full as it conveys not just the style drum beats. Guitars breaking over allow guitarist Vinnie Accardi The niggling thought remains:
credits but the the horizon are to stretch himself, as on the how good would he be as
flavours of the a reminder that sprawling, grunge-meets-prog a singer/guitarist in a band?
album’s bill of fare. this album isn’t 137, the power they possess is QQQQQQQQQQ
There’s John Baggott
‘As good an album entirely an exercise almost physically palpable. Hugh Fielder
(keyboards, Moog, as we could expect in contemporary Goodbyes are never easy, but
they’re going out on a high, on Bigfoot
loops, percussion, fusion. Rock
drums, brass from Plant in 2017.’ courses through their own terms, leaving us with Bigfoot FRONTIERS MUSIC
arrangement, t’bal, it, as is further genuine musical treasure to Hard rockers pumped up
remember them by. and primed.
snare drum, slide guitar, piano, electric evident on the rumbling Bones Of Saints,
QQQQQQQQQQ A five-piece
piano, bendir); Justin Adams (guitar, and Plant’s defiant refrain of ‘No, no, no!’
Emma Johnston band from
acoustic guitar, oud, E-bow quartet, That said, Plant shows a great grasp
Wigan, Bigfoot
percussion, snare drum, tambourine); Dave of modern atmospheres on A Way Sons Of Apollo have spent the
Smith (bendir, tambourine, djembe, drum With Words, as if such an understanding Psychotic Symphony past three years
kit); and Liam ‘Skin’ Tyson (dobro, guitar, comes with experience. There’s the INSIDE OUT MUSIC pounding their way round the
acoustic guitar, pedal steel, twelve-string). evocation of evening clouds drifting, All-star progressive metal club circuit. Tellingly, though,
Albanian cellist Redi Hasa performs on night insects gathering in the warm dusk, troupe deliver the goods. every time they’ve stepped out
three tracks, as does Seth Lakeman on memories rearing – the unique emotional The rogues gallery of ‘usual onto a festival stage, they’ve left
viola and fiddle. intensity of late middle age. The title culprits’ cast in Sons Of their mark.
Their interplay is evident immediately track, meanwhile, is practically a sonic Apollo invites two iron-clad You don’t have to get far into
on The May Queen, in which Moog synth transcription of a Marrakesh that’s still certainties: guaranteed virtuoso their debut album to work out
drones, Arabic percussion, russet hints bustling at sunset, traditional instruments musicianship and a healthy dose why – their full-on, well-honed
of folk and a palpable boogie pulse mix plucked beneath starry skies of synth. of cynicism. hard rock would rouse and focus
naturally, evoking a sense of a mature There’s a sole cover version – Ersel Uniting members past and any sluggish mid-afternoon
and distilled contemporary blend rather Hickey’s Bluebirds Over The Mountain – present of Dream Theater, Guns crowd. Commanding vocals,
than the tired, dated feel that hampers the which is given a revved-up treatment, N’ Roses, Mr Big and Journey, a twin guitar attack that meshes
releases of other eminent 60-somethings. with a sawn-off riff and percussive drive Sons Of Apollo succeed in fierce staccato rhythms and
Most noticeable is Plant’s voice. It may fit to rattle the remains of John Bonham. the proficiency stakes but, lightning lead guitar lines, and
be that he simply can’t scale the vocal Chrissie Hynde provides guest vocals, unusually, they’ve crafted an a stomping beat all combine to
exceptional debut to shoot grab your attention. And they
heights of his youth. It’s commendable, and it’s a sign of something or other that
down all suggestions of fiscal hold it through killer tracks like
however, that he doesn’t merely attempt in 2017 their vocals actually sound more
opportunism, convenience or, The Fear, Karma and Eat Your
to recycle the 70s Plant tricks and tropes as similar than you might expect, as if to
God forbid, lethargy or laziness. Words, swaggering showpieces
a mere exercise in preserving the Robert suggest that everyone eventually arrives Former DT alumni Mike like Freak Show and Prisoner Of
Plant Brand. His voice has developed into in the same place. Portnoy and Derek Sherinian War, and anthemic, harmony-
something quite different with age: smoky, That is a somewhat romantic idea bring the inevitable prog drenched power ballads like
intimate, delicate, hankering, with none of – rock has its fair share of stragglers and element, with Billy Sheehan Forever Alone and The Devil In Me.
the epic, blues-orientated screeching that casualties. But as for Plant, the truth is that and Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal They have a broad range of
was once his stock-in-trade. Carry Fire is about as good an album as we administering a hummable styles – too broad maybe. They
It’s an approach that suits the likes of could reasonably expect from him in 2017. hard-rock twist, but the bridge need to hone in on what they’re
Season’s Song, one of a number that seem QQQQQQQQQQ linking those two styles, the best at and concentrate on that.
to speak of an old romantic increasingly David Stubbs factor that brings everything to QQQQQQQQQQ
life, is Jeff Scott Soto. JSS was Hugh Fielder

CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 87
ALBUMS David Crosby The Transformers: The Movie.
Sky Trails BMG Neither are done differently
Redoubtable former Byrd still to the original versions, so
soaring high. it’s hard to understand quite
Post-CSN, one of the more why he’s done it. Still, this is
gratifying stories of late is the an enjoyable retro romp.
re-emergence of David Crosby QQQQQQQQQQ
as a solo force. 2014’s Croz was Malcolm Dome
his first album for a couple of
decades, followed two years The
later by Lighthouse. Now comes Necromancers
Sky Trails, a record that suggests Servants Of The
the 76-year-old’s muse is still Salem Girl RIPPLE
in close attendance. Crosby, for French occultist quartet’s
his part, puts this new-found splendidly diabolical debut.
proliferation down to “a lot of Devil-fancying
pent-up creative juice”. in heavy rock
Unlike the mostly acoustic-led has been out
Lighthouse, Sky Trails finds him of fashion
in full band mode, engaging in ever since
a nuanced blend of folk, soul those pesky church-burning
and jazz that echoes vintage Norwegians started actually
triumphs like Guinnevere and taking it seriously in the early
Déjà Vu. Indeed, he reaches 90s. But if anyone can bring it
back into the 60s for Before back into vogue, it’s this fiendish
Tomorrow Falls On Love, foursome from Poitiers.
a Michael McDonald co-write Recently signed to US label
that asks what happened to Ripple, they prove on this six-
that brave new world they once track debut that there are still
talked about, amid reflections a fair stock of tunes in Lucifer’s

Ronnie Montrose of flickering candlelight and


careless free love.
long-neglected locker.
Salem Girl Part I and Black
One of several songs Marble House benefit from
10x10 RHINO co-created with producer and magnificently Maiden-esque
Hit-and-miss collection of the late son James Raymond, who twin guitar stings as they
also leads the band, the soft channel elements of goth
guitar maestro’s unfinished works. undulations of Capitol spike portentousness, doomy vocal
into bilious anger as Crosby grunt and vintage melodic
takes aim at political corruption flair. Elsewhere, Grand Orbiter

T
his writer was lucky enough to closest associates that make the most in the White House. lurches between high-octane
Ultimately, however, he tritone-centric heaviness and
see legendary guitarist Ronnie sense. Standout track Color Blind, with
appears to be a contented atmospheric incantations,
Montrose play live three times: an outstanding performance by original
man, from the radiant title creating a sound as wealthy and
with his band Montrose at Charlton FC’s Montrose vocalist Sammy ‘Sam’ Hagar,
track (a great duet with Becca tasteful as Old Nick himself.
stadium in 1974, opening for The Who; fair brings a tear to the eye. It’s low-key, Stevens) to the domestic QQQQQQQQQQ
at London’s Rainbow Theatre in 1975 on sparse but triumphant, and includes the paradise evoked in Home Free. Johnny Sharp
the Warner Brothers Music Show tour, bittersweet words ‘live forever, never get old’. QQQQQQQQQQ
supporting the Doobie Brothers; and Similarly, Love Is An Art, with Edgar Rob Hughes Walter Trout
with his post-Montrose band Gamma, Winter on vocals and saxophone, has We’re All In This Together
at the old Hammy Odeon in 1981. a wacky 1970s vibe, Winter’s croaking Stan Bush PROVOGUE
But I’d be lying if I said any of these proving only a minor distraction. And as Change The World L.A. All-star all-clear for blues king.
shows was a life-changing experience. for the rollicking Any Minute, Mark Farner The 80s never went away. Trout’s albums
Ronnie may have been a giant talent of Grand Funk Railroad pulls off a vocal Stan Bush unashamedly makes either side of
but he had a capricious demeanour performance that almost defies belief. albums that belong in the 1980s. a life-saving,
and an understated stage presence. But there are problems. You’re never He eschews all aspects of gruelling liver
Indeed, he soon became frustrated by too sure whether Ronnie is playing or modern rock because he feels operation in
the limitations of traditional hard rock whether guests such as Steve Lukather or comfortable in that era. So if you 2014 dug deep into his personal
music and explored different avenues. Rick Derringer are involved. Our guess enjoy the melodic hard rock of blues. We’re All In This Together
Open Fire, his jazz-infused solo album, is that the essential guitar parts are by that period then this album is now looks determinedly
was inspired by Jeff Beck’s Blow By Blow; Mr Montrose, with the solos added later. most definitely for you. outward, bringing in friends such
the third Gamma record was largely And then there are the hangers-on, Bush writes neatly evocative as Joe Bonamassa and John
power ballads (The Story Of Love, Mayall to address what Trout
influenced by Kraftwerk. Ronnie began the guys whose connection with Ronnie
The Secret) and also uptempo calls “this time of madness”.
to feel more comfortable in his axe-slinger lack that umbilical-cord vibe. Still Singin’
anthems (Warrior, Born To Win) On the Kenny Wayne
skin later in life but clearly not comfortable With The Band is the worst culprit – you
and delivers both of these styles Shepherd-assisted opener Gonna
enough: he shot himself dead in 2012. can’t help but feel that Glenn Hughes and with equal flair and enthusiasm. Hurt Like Hell, Trout warns his
This posthumous release has good Phil Collen were only there for the kudos. Never overcomplicating what fellow Americans of the brand
times, bad times. Ronnie had been The same goes for Joe Bonamassa on The he does, Bush is simply out to of political snake oil currently on
working on songs with Styx bassist Ricky Kingdom’s Come Undone. entertain in the same manner offer: ‘Don’t you go buying/What
Phillips and Kiss drummer Eric Singer This could have been a better testament that has been his trademark they’re trying to sell.’ An hour
before his demise. Phillips completed to Ronnie Montrose’s legacy but, equally,
RONNIE MONTROSE: GETTY

now for 35 years. later, the man who could barely


work on the project, enlisting friends it could have been a helluva lot worse. He also revisits arguably his lift a guitar three years ago is
and collaborators to flesh out the basics, QQQQQQQQQQ two most famous songs, namely bringing the album to a storming
and it’s the contributions of Ronnie’s Geoff Barton The Touch and Dare, which first close with Bonamassa on the
came to prominence in 1986’s healing title track.

88 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
Elsewhere, the Trout band’s swirl of a Hammond organ and frontwoman Jodee Valentine, quirks that would earn them kind of tension on the creepingly
straight-up blues boogie backs a thrashing snare drum. who tragically passed away last effusive coverage in broadsheet sinister Fireflies. In keeping with
Charlie Musselwhite’s swampy They know when to lay off the year) sounds like a teenage Brian arts pages, but they’ve got all its long gestation period, this is
harmonica wail and Mayall’s gas too, Bergman’s soulful chops Connolly, and the band vacillate the credentials to attract legions music built to last.
country blues harp-blowing. brought to bear on the aching between the hard-hitting glam of sweaty pop pickers into their QQQQQQQQQQ
Amid an understandable Ain’t It A Shame and the thrilling rock of late-era Sweet and the all-inclusive moshpit. Emma Johnston
overdose of twin-guitar action, Let You Down, where he gets to crunchy riffola of NWOBHM. QQQQQQQQQQ
Joe Louis Walker’s bright tone channel his inner Joe Cocker. It’s basically the imaginary Johnny Sharp Gizmodrome
and liquid, skipping flow help To call the whole thing soundtrack to some long-lost Gizmodrome EARMUSIC
Trout prove that the blues can life-affirming would be to VHS-era video nasty. Couldn’t Arcane Roots All-star virtuosi find their
still be powerfully individual. understate it somewhat. be more true to form. Melancholia Hymns radical grooves.
QQQQQQQQQQ QQQQQQQQQQ QQQQQQQQQQ EASY LIFE/RED ESSENTIAL ’Supergroups’ aren’t supposed
Nick Hasted Philip Wilding Sleazegrinder Proggy drama from the to sound this fresh. Stewart
ambitious Brit trio. Copeland (ex-Police), Mark King
Lionize Thunderstick Otherkin It’s all about the (Level 42) and Adrian Belew
Nuclear Soul THE END Something Wicked OK RUBYWORKS atmosphere for (ex-almost everybody – King
Rock and soul sing out on This Way Comes SELF-RELEASED Melodic Dublin indie rockers. Kingston Upon Crimson, Bowie, Talking Heads)
band’s latest album. Stickin’ with the schtick. The sensational sounds of Thames three- join with Italian keyboard whizz
Lionize are You might Britpop, Britrock, grunge piece Arcane Vittorio Cosma (ex-PFM) in
probably best remember and all those other musical Roots, whose second album has a Milan studio and have a whale
known here Thunderstick demi-mondes that soundtracked a sense of scope and grandiosity of a time. A cue for indulgent
as Clutch’s as the gimp- the turn of the last century that places them somewhere muso jamming? Not here, as the
contemporaries masked lunatic may be old enough to apply for between the prog theatricality four clearly get a buzz from their
and support act (they were also drummer from NWOBHM official Heritage Rock status a of Muse and the lush sonic chemistry and do very strange
signed to Clutch’s Weathermaker legends Samson. If you don’t, couple of decades on, but this tapestries of Sigur Rós, except things with Copeland’s innately
label), though their history I suggest you read a history book. Irish four-piece still make a good they’re subtler, fresher and peculiar songs.
stretches back over a decade After Samson frontman Bruce stab at making them sound ultimately much less ludicrous It’s a blitz of funky punky
and includes stints working in Bruce (Dickinson) flapped off contemporary. They prove that than either of those bands. prog-reggae fusion (yes, that’s
Jamaica with Steel Pulse. to Iron Maiden, the mighty if you have enough youthful It’s been a four-year wait a thing, or at least it is now),
Their reggae roots are less ’Stick (born Barry Graham energy and conviction, nothing for the follow-up to Blood and the playing is of course
evident here with a sound that’s Purkis) formed an eponymous ever sounds old. & Chemistry, and they’ve clearly ludicrously impressive. What
as much Thin Lizzy and Free as band, and while their ’84 debut The feisty brushes of Strokes used that time to learn all there keeps the energy moving is
it is Solomon Burke and rhythm Feels Like Rock ’n’ Roll was an and splashes of elegantly wasted is to know about electronic Copeland’s bizarre vocal persona
and blues. audacious and raucous display Libertines cool on Treat Me So Bad instrumentation, with skittish as a kind of horny preacher man,
It’s a heady combination of horror-glam, the band never and Ay Ay convince just as well beats and swells of synths testifying to the travails – and
topped off by the distinctive, quite caught fire. as the grunge groan of Enabler providing a dramatic foil to fun – of ageing and travel.
smoky and occasionally raw But the dream never died, and and the Elastica-esque jerks of frontman Andrew Groves’ That King-Copeland rhythm
vocals of diminutive vocalist here we are, 35 years later, with Razorhead. They’re no slouches high, keening vocals and the section’s a bit handy too. They
Nate Bergman (think Patton a new line-up and a new album. when it comes to festival tent- meaty, no-nonsense rock riffs occasionally skid off, but most of
Oswalt with Paul Rodgers How’s it sound? Like 1980, rocking choruses either, as Feel It at the heart of all the bluster. this album is playful, pugnacious
pipes), who croons, burns and magnificently enough. and Come On, Hello prove. One moment they’re raging and pleasingly unglued.
beats his way through a slew Thunderstick’s new vocalist, Sure, they don’t have the kind on a string-laden Apt, the next QQQQQQQQQQ
of songs, buoyed along on the Lucie V (replacing classic-era of left-field originality or artistic they’re building a more subtle Chris Roberts

ROUND-UP: SLEAZE By Sleazegrinder


The Curse Juliette Seizure And Johnny 2 Fingers
Calcutta Sunrise The Tremor Dolls & The Deformities
BELUGA/GHOST HIGHWAY Seizure Salad JULIETTESEIZUREAND Built To Rock ’N Roll
People sometimes THETREMOR-DOLLS.BANDCAMP.COM JOHNNY2FINGERS.BANDCAMP.COM
forget, but like 20
years ago, Scandinavia If everything that you If we’re being technical
saved rock’n’roll. I mean, loved about rock’n’roll about it, he’s actually
it was pretty grim out never died then Johnny 7 Fingers, but it
there in 1999, an endless, numbing void I suppose every band is true that he’s only got
of nu metal and pseudo-industrial pop would sound kinda like a couple on his pickin’
and washed-out has-beens before the the Tremor Dolls. But we live in a cruel and hand. Doesn’t matter – he doesn’t need
Hellacopters, Gluecifer and Turbonegro savage world so thank Christ Juliette and the rest to rock. Straight outta Moose
rode in on their longboats and the gang are flying the flag for snotty, Jaw, Johnny and his Deformities bang
straightened us all the fuck out. bubblegummy, glammy, pogo-ready punk. out a fistful of raucous party-starters.
The Curse follow in their fine ankle- QQQQQQQQQQ QQQQQQQQQQ
booted footsteps with this effortlessly
confident display of Swedish action rock, Overdrivers Swingin’ Bitch
all snarls and switchblades and tight
denim and sex-soaked rifforama.
Rockin’ Hell Swingin’ Bitch
Calcutta Sunrise is the band’s third OVERDRIVERSROCK.BANDCAMP.COM SWINGIN-BITCH.BANDCAMP.COM

album and it’s a total jammer from end I can’t fault a band with Remember back in
to end. The beauty of The Curse is that hilariously primitive ’83 when Tom Warrior
they get how rock’n’roll works – every album art, and who played his Venom 45s
song’s got a hook and they get in and rewrite mid-80s at 33rpm and invented
out in two minutes flat. AC/DC songs over Hellhammer after
THE CURSE: MICKE KEYSENDAL/PRESS

It’s all meat, no flab, and it ain’t pretty, and over again. They have a song called hearing the Satanic sludge that oozed out
either – every song is either about Dirty Girl’s Island, for Chrissakes. They of the speakers? I think these dudes did
some dick they know (No Doubt About also have a song called She Has A Big the same thing with their Screamin’ Jay
You, King Of Irritation) or some ruined Packet. Do they mean package? Is it Hawkins singles. This is an incredible display
party (City Of The Dead, Let’s Settle The a drag-queen song? I dunno. They’re of doomy teenage dirtbag puke-blooze.
The Curse: Score). An instant classic. French as fuck, if that helps. Love it. Blood Weep is a fucking masterpiece.
all meat, no flab. QQQQQQQQQQ QQQQQQQQQQ QQQQQQQQQQ

CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 89
ALBUMS Oh Sees Page and Cast In Stone pile on the
Orc CASTLE FACE emotional drama and catchy
Lysergic emanations from choruses. There’s even time for a
behind the garage door. bit of salacious slap and tickle on
Despite a Whovian approach to cheeky ZZ Top-referencing Slam
nomenclature – they’ve been the With The Lights On, the crazy
Oh Sees, The Ohsees and Thee romantic fools.
Oh Sees among many, many QQQQQQQQQQ
others – the one constant to Oh Essi Berelian
Sees and bandleader John
Dwyer has been their evangelical L.A. Guns
fervour in the cause of gloriously The Missing Peace FRONTIERS
deviant rock’n’roll. And so it goes The classic line-up lives to
with Orc, the band’s 19th album (gun)fight another day.
in as many years. Yet anyone L.A. Guns’
expecting a straightforward thrill storied history
ride of buzz-saw nuggets is in for as Hollywood’s
a kaleidoscopic wake-up call. scrappiest
As evidenced by the band’s shoulda-beens
summer rampage across any is at the same time awe-
number of European festivals inspiring and exhausting. How
they laid waste to, not only have in the world co-founder/sole
Oh Sees increased their rhythmic survivor Tracii Guns has
attack in the form of the twin managed to keep this train
drum onslaught of Dan Rincon a rollin’ for almost 35 years and
and Paul Quattrone, they’ve also 11 albums is anyone’s guess, but
ramped up the cosmic flourishes clearly he’s not finished yet.
to brain-scrambling levels. Most folks would agree that
While the sonic hooliganism of L.A. Guns were at their best in
The Static God snaps and snarls the late 80s when Phil Lewis

The Professionals with an economic fury and Nite


Expo grooves with intent and
sang for ‘em. And that’s what
you get here, a pretty fucking
menace, Keys To The Castle finds glorious throwback to Cocked
What In The World AUTOMATON Oh Sees brewing up a potent And Loaded-era Guns, with all
No Steve Jones, but never mind, and intoxicating potion of garage the bombastic screamalong
ramalama, prog rock and choruses and dive-bombing
this is the bollocks. psychedelia that’s a trip in its flash-guitar heroism you can
own right. Likewise the synapse- handle. Yes, to virgin ears it’ll
frying madness of Paranoise. sound dated, but who cares?

L
et’s get one thing straight right from masculinity occasionally overshoots the Thoroughly anti-social and There are plenty of Guns fans
wonderfully obnoxious still out there, and anybody who
the start: rather than pulling his full runway of mere machismo into the chest-
throughout, this is kick-arse loved Rip And Tear or Sex Action
weight as guitar and vocal frontman, beating Animalistic arena of the Anti
psych’n’roll as it should be. are gonna love high-flying
Steve Jones merely strops his strings in Nowhere League, but there’s always room
QQQQQQQQQQ rockers like Speed, Sticky Fingers
a trio of guest star cameos here. This is for a choking fug of testosterone in a band Julian Marszalek or It’s All The Same to Me on this
news that’ll doubtless cause a widespread fronted briefly by Ray Winstone. record. It’s a ripper.
raising of eyebrows within the global Obviously, adequate though Tom’s Sons Of Texas QQQQQQQQQQ
punk community. Not that jukeboxer riffing is, one all-singing strummer could Forged By Fortitude Sleazegrinder
Jonesy can’t be arsed to tear himself away never serve up the matchless testicular SPINEFARM
from LA radio fame, but because the crib- fortitude of Jones and absent wingman Bruising melodic metal from Neil Finn
note version of rock history tells us The Ray McVeigh. So Paul Cook – amenable the Lone Star state. Out Of Silence LESTER
Professionals were dynamic duo Steve chap that he is – opened his bulging Album number Easy on the ear, but nothing that
Jones and Paul Cook, rebranded in the address book and, with minimal two and these stands out from the Crowd.
wake of the Sex Pistols tsunami, and persuasion, coaxed Guns N’ Roses’ Duff heavyweight Former
without the iconic guitarist on board, McKagan, Def Leppard’s Phil Collen, The southern-fried Crowded House
what’s left? Punk Ringo? Cult’s Billy Duffy, ex-Clash Mick Jones, rockers are man Neil Finn
As is often the case, the airbrushing ex-Ant Marco Pirroni and, fresh from making themselves firmly at always wanted
shorthand of rock 101 ill-serves actuality, working a little live magic, ex-3 Colours home in the groove they cut with to write a song
and any punk specialist worth their salt Red socialite Chris McCormack, to 2015’s Baptized. in the morning, record it in the
will tell you The Professionals amounted conjure up a requisitely throbbing Drawing comparisons with afternoon and release it that
to way more than a notional post-Pistol scrotum-full of ballsiness. Pantera was inevitable then, night. Out Of Silence almost fulfils
and so it is now as vocalist Mark that objective. Following four live
whim of Cook and Jones. Among the And they all deliver. In spades. This
Morales unleashes some streams in August, the album
smack ’n’ mayhem, of which there was clearly represents a dream gig for the
uncannily Phil Anselmo-esque was mixed in Auckland and
much, were a band of no little potential, recruits and one they clearly relish. All tap
throat aggro on vicious opener ready to go.
and their core (Cook, sometimes Jones, into their inner Steve Jones, especially the Buy In To Sell Out and the title Piano ballads and autumnal
stalwart ex-Subway Sect bassist Paul man himself (though Collen shines by track, over a juddering, squealing reflections are at the heart of 10
Myers) are back for a second crack. With staying truest to his signature style) and guitar barrage. In reality, though, orchestrated pieces. Love Is
a little help from their friends. with Cook and Myers rock solid in the these blasts of ornery violence Emotional and the possibly
Upfront, manfully accepting the dual engine room, production crucially tight are just one aspect of a sound apocalyptic More Than One Of
challenge of replicating Jones’s and material strong, the results are simply that owes as much to You set the standard on an
magnetically alluring yob charm and spectacular. commercial nu metal and radio- album that has the sonic feel of
seismic humbucking bollocks, is Tom QQQQQQQQQQ friendly grunge; for the most a nightclub engagement;
Spencer, whose fierce, deliberate vocal Ian Fortnam part the focus is on melody as percussive ticks, pedal noise and
Beneath The Riverbed, Turnin’ The whirring acoustic guitars add to

90 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
the flavour. Brother Tim pops in began with his 2008 debut valves, though, as tracks such as own waves. The songs are well It doesn’t always hit home
for Alone, a naïve snapshot of life Wagonwheel Blues, or stick to In The Blood and Rats skilfully constructed, with the emphasis – the cheese-ball funky rock of
in London with Split Enz. The city a winning formula? channel QOTSA’s druggy on giant choruses and propulsive Me Just Being Me veers too close
was grey, buses bloodshot. Recorded in his adopted home urgency and minor-chord rhythms, and in Small Talk and to Shania Twain territory – but
Independence Day is normal for town of Los Angeles, his fifth melodic anxiety, and the Something Wrong Wayward there’s enough here to indicate
Neil: he tests the climate and the album plumps firmly for the former’s fuzz-caked guitar motif Sons have two of the best new that things don’t always go
atmospherics are depressing. latter option. Opener Up All is instant earworm material. songs you’ll hear in 2017. better with Coke.
Terrorise Me, a response to the Night moves through the Throughout, though, there’s There’s still room for QQQQQQQQQQ
Bataclan outrage, is the key formulaic pop gears as smoothly a satisfyingly organic garage manoeuvre and improvement, of Dave Everley
piece. The rest is no faffing and as Don Henley cruising along the rumble to a sound that keeps on course. Occasionally, as on
easy listening. Pacific Coast Highway, while gut-punching on the Stooges- Ghost, they stumble a little, but Orestea
QQQQQQQQQQ Holding On is a slickly realised go-psychobilly stomp of Shot Me overall, Ghosts Of Yet To Come is Elements HTTP:SHOP.ORESTEA.COM/
Max Bell mid-tempo foot tapper. Down and the MC5-ish thunder- an album with pedigree. Taking the emo way out.
However, shorn of the novelty groove of Magpie. QQQQQQQQQQ Caught between
The War factor, such middle-of-the-road Consider us shaken, and Malcolm Dome heading into the
On Drugs material remains better suited to comprehensively stirred. alt.rock blue
A Deeper Understanding balmy summer nights and drive- QQQQQQQQQQ Robin Beck yonder or
ATLANTIC time radio than to repeated Johnny Sharp Love Is Coming FRONTIERS building up their
Philadelphia singer-songwriter home listening. Fizzy pop-hawking chanteuse’s fan base, Guildford emo-
plays it safe on fifth album. As a certain Mr Hornsby could Wayward Sons first album in four year. flavoured rockers Orestea have
Just as the tell you, that’s just the way it is. Ghosts Of Yet To Come Robin Beck will chosen the latter course. After
mainstream QQQQQQQQQQ FRONTIERS forever be all, they have the power chords,
will always Paul Moody Classic ideas repackaged. known as ‘the the edgy, angular riffs and
repackage the Okay, forget about which bands singer from that impassioned vocals of Lisa Avon
underground, The Electric these guys have been in Coca-Cola ad’. to carry it off.
in recent years the independent Shakes previously, because it only While The First Time remains an Dense, clattering drums and a
sector has begun to return Electrohypnosis distracts from the present. 80s AOR classic, she’s had a deep, resonant bass set up the
the favour. THE ELECTRIC SHAKES Because Wayward Sons is hard time matching that song’s opening Welcome To Surviville
No one has benefited more Fuzzy, bluesy Bournemouth a fresh start for all of the success in the ensuing decades. (sic), before Avon steams in
from this unlikely trend than The trio’s stout second. members, and this album New album Love Is Coming is with the first of her strident,
War On Drugs (aka 38-year-old The word sounds… well, fresh! unlikely to shake off the ‘One Hit harmonic hooks, with the rest of
singer-songwriter Adam ‘electric’ has This is simple, irresistible Wonder’ tag, but she can take the band catching up quickly. By
Granduciel). Catapulted from a faintly kitsch rock‘n’roll. There are nods to solace in the fact that it’s a fine the time they reach the title song
indie obscurity to headlining ring to it these Thin Lizzy (Be Still), Bad record in its own right. Beck’s on track three they’re seeing
international festivals thanks to days, but that Company (Give It Away) and Def fine-grained voice has lost none how fierce they can be while
the success of 2014’s Lost In makes it all the more apposite Leppard (Killing Time), but it’s all of its belting power – On The hanging on to the melodies.
A Dream – a record which walked for this three-piece from Dorset, done with such irrepressible Bright Side is four minutes of But it’s the slow, bitter-sweet
a perilous high wire between who rustle up a fuzzy, hairy, momentum that what’s here melodic rock brilliance. Better Getaway and the enhanced
Dire Straits and Bruce Hornsby sweaty racket redolent of an age transcends influences. still it has the kind of meaty sounds on album closer Burning
– he now finds himself caught when you could still get Toby Jepson is in fine voice, production (courtesy of Beck’s Bridges that offer a more
between (soft) rock and a hard electrocuted by your amplifier. guitarist Sam Wood cracks out husband James Christian) that distinctive way forward.
place; should he continue on It’s no stylised retro-fest the vintage riffs, and the whole many latter-day hard rock QQQQQQQQQQ
the meandering path which worshipping the dust in the portrait is of a band making their records lack. Hugh Fielder

ROUND-UP: BLUES By Henry Yates


Mollie Marriott Gwyn Ashton
Truth Is A Wolf AMADEUS MUSIC Solo Elektro SELF-RELEASED
Steve Marriott’s third Something of
daughter is shaping up a reinvention for the
as the rock star progeny Australian troubadour.
to beat. The blues Solo Elektro might be
informs her voice, but proudly raw as hell
new album Truth Is A Wolf strays beyond – recording live in the studio, Ashton self-
it. There’s a haunted alt.rock slink to flagellates both his voice box and guitar
Broken, Fortunate Fate could be a great lost to the point of abuse – but it’s ambitiously
Pearl Jam song, Love Your Bones – an written, with tracks running the gamut
affecting salute to a dying friend – is between alt.blues, stoner rock and Eastern-
a string-draped, music-box salute cut from tinged, Lennon-voiced psychedelia. These
the same cloth as Tori Amos. new clothes suit him.
QQQQQQQQQQ QQQQQQQQQQ

PP Arnold: a stomping, Savoy Brown Long John


hollering soul-blues
master class. Witchy Feelin’ RUF & The Killer
It’s hands-down the Blues Collective
PP Arnold year’s spookiest album Heavy Electric Blues OUTLAW
stardom, the US soul singer’s 60s yesterday. Lift-off is achieved with the sleeve, and on Witchy Long John Laundry’s
The Turning Tide fairytale turned grim when her RSO label heartbeat bass and stinger guitars of Feelin’ Kim Simmonds is latest project is the
KUNDALINI MUSIC
debut was shelved, leaving the tracks Medicated Goo, and Born is even better, plainly not afraid of the darkest shade of blues.
It’s a shit business, scattered or gummed in red tape. Cue the racing to a roaring finale that lets Arnold dark. Thunder, Lightning & Rain is a rolling A growl and skudded
as The League Of wilderness years… clean her vocal chords. Elsewhere the black sea of wah-wah guitar, the lugubrious beat drive My Soul
Gentlemen’s Les Was it worth Arnold sacrificing four tears are still wet on torch songs like If title track creeps under your skin and Close Rising, before Preacher’s House pairs manic
McQueen had it, and decades of her life to reclaim The Turning This Were My World and Brand New Day, To Midnight is as bereft as they come. The piano to a feral delivery. Devil’s Train is jet-
PP Arnold might Tide? Christ, yes. This is a stomping, and there’s no cobwebs on a punched-up pick, though, is Why Did You Hoodoo Me, black rockabilly, while Big Man’s Got A Fat
recognise the sentiment. hollering soul-blues master class, with You Can’t Always Get What You Want. a reminder that Simmonds is still a blues Chicken has the kind of barfly leer that gets
Spotted by Jagger, signed to a tag-team production by Eric Clapton It’s the happiest of endings. guitarist from the top table. restraining orders taken out.
Immediate Records and groomed for and Barry Gibb that’s younger than QQQQQQQQQQ QQQQQQQQQQ QQQQQQQQQQ

CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 91
ALBUMS Motorpsycho blown along by Lucius’ singers
The Tower RUNE GRAMMAFON Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig,
Tower of power. you’re cast into a selection of
Named after high-class material.
Russ Meyer’s While it wouldn’t be true to
1965 sex-and- say that Promise Of The Real
splatter-fest, don’t owe nobody nuthin’ – Die
Motorpsycho Alone is southern groove in the
have been Norway’s foremost JJ Cale style, and Just Outside Of
hard rock band since being Austin is a delicious rewrite of
formed in 1989 by bassist-singer MOR classic Gentle On My Mind
Bent Saether and guitarist- – these kids have balls.
vocalist Hans Magnus Ryan, Lady Gaga adds majestic
releasing over 20 albums soul diva clout to Find Yourself,
(notably 1993’s Demon Box and Nelson proves to be a sterling
2006’s Black Hole/Blank Canvas). guitarist and the whole thing is
Joined by new drummer hellacious, meaning good.
Tomas Jarmyr, this follow-up to QQQQQQQQQQ
2016’s Here Be Monsters is epic Max Bell
in every sense, its finely wrought
missives sometimes stretching The White
over 15 minutes and straddling Buffalo
early Crimson-style monolithic Darkest Darks,
doom riffs, episodic Magma Lightest Lights EARACHE
complexity, psychedelic balladry Vignettes from American life
and stoner bludgeoning, topped from an LA troubadour.
by harmonised vocals worthy of There’s
Yes or CSN. something
Full-bore blasters such as the nostalgic
Satan’s penis-mongering The about the

Europe Cuckoo, the Wagnerian swarm


of Bartok Of The Universe and
work of singer-
songwriter Jake Smith, aka The
the 21st Century Schizoid Man- White Buffalo, even though he’s
Walk The Earth HELL & BACK recalling title track were recorded working firmly in the here and
Europe’s best album since their 2003 return at LA’s White Buffalo studio. now. He’s a storyteller, and his
Calmer sessions at a Joshua Tree vignettes of American life have
shows the band confidently looking forward. recording ranch then allowed a sense of timelessness that
more reflective outings such as could place his characters at any
Stardust and The Maypole. point in the last 100 years.

W
hen there’s a swelling to amply feature some neat Norum Most seat-clenching is the His deep, rumbling voice and
colossal Van Der Graaf-style thumping, blues-saturated rock
keyboard intro to this album tricks, nestling alongside Michaeli’s
dogfight of Ship Of Fools and combine to drag you into a world
on the title track, you might evocative punctuation.
the cosmic extrapolations of of dusty small-town drama – no
have thought that Europe were reverting The pace slows on Pictures, but this
Intrepid Explorer, while A Pacific wonder the makers of Sons Of
to the sound they had back in the late is no soppy power ballad as it has an Sonata star-sails transcendent Anarchy saw fit to use his music
80s. However, as the song opens up, it underlying agitation, Europe emphasising spaceways to vistas usually on the show.
becomes clear that this is definitely not to us that they aren’t withdrawing into traversed by Carlos Santana. There are echoes of Nick
a band looking wistfully back to halcyon the past. And Election Day quickly shakes Motorpsycho’s followers will Cave And The Bad Seeds’ Red
days, but one that’s striding determinedly out the dust with some brisk work from hold this panoramic masterwork Right Hand in Robbery, a tale of
forward on the strength of an edgy, drummer Ian Haugland. Meanwhile, as a career peak, and it may even violence, greed and dishonour
energetic, fresh perspective. Wolves has a deep-set, rumbling ire that win some new disciples. A tower among thieves, while The
Ever since they reunited in 2003, brings to mind the recent recordings from worth climbing. Observatory is a delicate moment
the Swedes have steered away from Deep Purple, which is obviously no bad QQQQQQQQQQ of reflection that wouldn’t be
their big hair reputation and cleared thing at all, and GTO also has inferences Kris Needs completely out of place in the
out any notions of living off what they from Ian Gillan et al. early pages of Ryan Adams’
achieved back then. Instead, they’ve The best is saved for last, though, Lukas Nelson back catalogue.
gone for a heavier, more lucid approach as the epic album closer Turn To Dust & Promise Of Turn the telly off and introduce
that emulates their heroes, such as beautifully balances changes in pace and The Real yourself to the inhabitants of
UFO and Thin Lizzy. mood on a song that manages to be both Lukas Nelson & Promise The White Buffalo’s world.
This is the sixth studio album they’ve tuneful yet also a little disconcerting. Of The Real FANTASY QQQQQQQQQQ
done in this period, and the best so far. This is where Europe reach a new level Chip off the old block. Emma Johnston
The elephant in
For one thing, it’s a lot more natural, of achievement, proving that they have
allowing John Norum to stretch out on now brushed aside any remaining doubts
the room: yes, Damn Freaks
Lukas does Damn Freaks MIGHTY MUSIC/
guitar and for Joey Tempest to showcase about their validity in the current era.
sound uncannily TARGET GROUP
a voice that has grit and bite, as well as Walk The Earth is superbly produced like a young Eighties party hardy jukebox.
huge melodic appeal. by Dave Cobb, who highlights all the version of his old man Willie, Singer Iacopo
You can hear this coming quickly positive aspects of the band on an album and he has friends in high places, ‘Jack’ Meille’s
into focus on The Siege, which has that brings up new aspects of endeavour having backed Neil Young and other band
a hard timbre, yet also nods towards and creativity every time it’s played. grown up around country royalty. when he’s not
EUROPE: BRIAN CANNON/PRESS

the more Eastern refrains of Zeppelin, An excellent release from the renovated But this isn’t about nepotism, it’s fronting Tygers
thanks to some deft keyboard sweeps and rejuvenated modern giants. grand music in the genes. Of Pan Tang, Damn Freaks make
from Mic Michaeli. And the darkly QQQQQQQQQQ From the opening Set Me no claims to be anything other
adhesive Kingdom United allows the band Malcolm Dome Down Like A Cloud, with vivid than a shameless 80s-style
turns of tone and crisp phrasing good-time rock group.

92 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
Sound-wise, there’s plenty absence, leaving only the band’s debut album Hell-O! (1988), concept, and Outrage! is an here. Yet the results gel
of space in the mix to hear trademark riffs – which are still predating Game Of Thrones, for attempt to sprawl in the beautifully as a Best-Of-cum-
exactly what guitarist Marco monstrous – and frontman Jus one, by several decades. vague direction of scuzz-rock primer to the band’s early work,
Torri is playing, and Meille is Oborn’s snarling diatribes Over the years, GWAR’s respectability. Hiring QOTSA itself the definition of invention.
a breathless ball of energy at exposed and brittle under the sound has become codified into producer Eric Valentine has The tracks from Giant,
the mic, the one-two punch harsh light of more transparent a Cannibal Corpse/Sabbath- given their bluesy bluster a hint Acquiring The Taste and Three
reminiscent of classic Van Halen sonic values. style thrash metal, mostly of Josh Homme’s desert Bowie Friends, all recorded between
with Ted Templeman twiddling Songs like Necromania and unlistenable but pleasingly dark sleaze on tracks like Never 1970 and 1972, with Tony
the knobs, particularly on Wicked Caresses are still horribly and numbskull nonetheless. Swim Alone, Statues, Caught Up Visconti producing the first two,
opener Poison Apple and Burning heavy and several qualitative The song titles may be and Moonlight (about singing showcase a panoply of multi-
Up, while Dream Highway has notches above most equivalents, a little lacking this time round drummer Sebastien Grainger instrumentalists who, despite
a distinct Poison vibe. but if you compare this to past (although The Sordid Soliloquy Of getting a savage street beating truly dreadful album covers,
Unsurprisingly, the top tune is triumphs like Come My Fanatics Sawborg Destructo makes up for while on tour in Dallas), and warped the proverbial envelope.
the NWOBHM-riffing Break The and Dopethrone – albums that it), but The Blood of Gods is more nudged the likes of Freeze Me At a time when some post-
Chains, which begs you to plug pushed doom metal into heavier of the same monstrous bilge. even further into the realm of psychedelia experimentation
in the old air guitar and make and more joyously drug-addled QQQQQQQQQQ all-out grit-pop. was obligatory, they all but
like it’s 1980 again – and who territory than ever before Everett True There’s still space for the overdosed. The three Shulman
doesn’t want to do that? – Wizard Bloody Wizard falls weird bits, though – Nomad is brothers had harshly dismissed
QQQQQQQQQQ a spliff or two short of the mark. Death From epic emo metal played, from their glorious 60s hit Kites, under
Essi Berelian QQQQQQQQQQ Above the sound of it, on guitars the name of Simon Dupree And
Dom Lawson Outrage! Is Now LAST GANG made of burning asbestos, The Big Sound, as too cabaret,
Electric Wizard The Toronto cult legends and the Royal Blood rifforama or as they phrased it, “utter
Wizard Bloody Wizard GWAR evolve, filthily, popwards. of NVR 4EVR literally features shit”. They figured they could
SPINEFARM The Blood Of Gods Infamous more a shaker containing the ashes fly higher.
Doom denizens dial down METAL BLADE for being CSS’s of a dead fan. From Mellotrons to brass to
the dissonance. More gory metal. odd choice of Outrageous fun. drums to voices, they rejected
Within a few The history shagging music QQQQQQQQQQ the previously done. These new
seconds of of GWAR is than for their Mark Beaumont patterns bled later, diluted, into
opening tune littered with own cultural impact – their Super Furry Animals and Beta
See You In Hell, fake blood, 2005 new rave hit Let’s Make Gentle Giant Band, but more swiftly were
it’s obvious that death, jizz, Love And Listen To Death From Three Piece Suite ALUCARD refined in the art-pop of 10cc.
Electric Wizard’s ninth studio menstrual blood, unspeakable Above made them household Consummately curated curios Genres mash on every track,
album amounts to a significant gunk shot out of codpieces and names, in indier households – from Giant’s baby steps. as choirboy vocals switch to
detour. In the past, the band’s bras, heroin overdoses (founder trunk-nosed Toronto disco They say gruff blues-rock and rampant
languorous, malevolent epics member Dave Brockie, aka punk duo Death From Above necessity is percussion marries jazz piano.
oozed other-worldly menace Oderus Urungu, died in 2014), (nee 1979) have traded on the mother of There’s also a previously
from every pore, bolstered by seaweed extract, outrageous their cultish mystery since invention. The unreleased nugget, Freedom’s
insanely thick guitar tones and costumes and the odd piece of returning from a 10-year studio fact that only Child. As apogees Pantagruel’s
delivered with dense, public figure mutilation. hiatus with 2014’s second a few songs from Gentle Giant’s Nativity and Nothing At All
psychedelic intensity. This time As such, this long-standing album The Physical World. first three albums still exist as display, they had gargantuan
around, those eerie atmospheres band were ahead of their time So, still on only their third multi-track tapes means that dreams.
and that underlying sense of when they started out with the full-length record in 17 years(!), master remixer Steven Wilson QQQQQQQQQQ
hostility are conspicuous by their morbid comic debauchery of DFA remain a pliable, evolving had a finite set to work with Chris Roberts

ROUND-UP: MELODIC ROCK By Dave Ling


Martina Edoff ColdSpell
We Will Align AOR HEAVEN A New World Arise
ESCAPE MUSIC
Amazonian brunette
Martina Edoff returns It’s been four years since
with a third helping of the excellent Frozen
glacial, majestically Paradise but at long
performed Scandinavian last ColdSpell are back
AOR. Co-written with a stellar cast that with a fourth album.
includes Erik Mårtensson of Eclipse/W.E.T., As ever, the likes of Call Of The Wild and
H.e.a.t’s Jona Tee (who also acts as the gorgeous Signs are built upon durable
a co-producer and contributes keyboards hard rock-based foundations reminiscent
to the album) and Billy Sheehan, We Will of latter-day Whitesnake, while Michael
Align is every bit as fresh, bubbly and Larsson’s guitar playing remains forceful
energetic as its creator. yet always harmonious.
QQQQQQQQQQ QQQQQQQQQQ

Autograph Midnite City


Phantom 5: packing
some weighty punches. Get Off Your Ass Midnite City AOR HEAVEN
EMP LABEL GROUP
Formed by current
Phantom 5 The Steve Plunkett-less Tigertailz frontman
Lessmann and Voss pooled forces taken huge steps towards fulfilling Autograph took the final Rob Wylde, who made
Play II Win FRONTIERS in 2015, the same year Claus exited their potential. Play II Win isn’t perfect, Firefest by storm, the record that he
In the realm of Bonfire. Featuring ex-Scorp Francis but there’s more of a band chemistry playing a stunning set. wanted to hear as
Teutonic melodic hard Buchholz on bass, the first Phantom and the music’s direction is better Alas, three years down a fan, Midnight City model themselves
rock, few names other 5 album suffered for comparisons defined. The likes of Crossfire, Play the line, this weak comeback set adds little upon Def Leppard, 1980s-era Kiss and,
than the Scorpions to Bonfire and lacked consistency, To Win, Had Enuff and Baptise pack to the band’s legacy. You Are Us We Are especially, Danger Danger. The results
carry as much weight though it did enough to suggest the weighty right hooks, but once again, You and Meet Me Halfway rank among on this self-titled album are extremely
as Claus Lessmann, lead vocalist with partnership could yet ignite. things wane a smidgen at the death. a handful of worthy moments on the easy on the ear, give or take the odd
Bonfire during that band’s glory years, This time, with Buchholz gone Still, for the most part, their choruses album, but the cod hair metal of its title saccharine overdose. This album is
and Michael Voss, guitarist of Mad Max, (Voss deputises on bass, in addition to leave a satisfying aftertaste. track is simply embarrassing. pure fun, fun, fun.
Casanova, Demon Drive and Silver. manning the desk), Phantom 5 have QQQQQQQQQQ QQQQQQQQQQ QQQQQQQQQQ

CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 93
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EISSUE S
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96 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
Dr. John In particular, the Yank-goading

Whitesnake The Atco Albums


Collection RHINO
American phone-in session Big
Tits Across America, snatches of
1987: Super Deluxe Edition PARLOPHONE
“Jock-a-mo fee na-né” which this reviewer can still
(it says here). recall 40 years on. Such gleeful,
Nice year… We’ll take it. Era-defining After a decade as an in-demand despicable, riotous, laddish
session musician, Mac ‘Dr. John’ banter – the sound of four lads
Cov’s classic, generously expanded. Rebennack came up with his not quite believing the gullibility
own medicinal compound, of those around them, and
a hearty gumbo laced with R&B, taking full advantage.

A
longside Def Leppard’s Hysteria, of anyone who grew up during that jazz and psychedelia, liberally Often it feels like the least
Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet and glorious decade: the crackling moods of seasoned with the voodoo tutored moments are the most
Guns N’ Roses Appetite For Still Of The Night (the greatest/most mythology of his New Orleans revealing when it comes to
Destruction, Whitesnake’s 1987 stands as shameless Zeppelin knock-off known to home. The calling card was stripping bare myths. Rotten is
the high-water mark of the MTV rock era, man), the priapic thunder of Give Me All Your 1968’s Gris-Gris, distinguished a caustic delight, Paul Cook and
a blow-dried masterpiece wherein the blues Love Tonight, the surprisingly sincere by Mama Roux and the epic (and Steve Jones willing dupes, the
moved to LA, got itself a spray tan and yearning of Is This Love?. frequently covered) I Walk On music industry a shameful smug
a perm and proceeded to hump the entire Long before he pilfered the gold from his Gilded Splinters; a true original, mess. Pointless and gratuitously
western hemisphere and a fair chunk of the own back catalogue with Whitesnake’s The at once both sinister and objectionable, but you could
welcoming. A new album arrived argue the same for spiritual peers
eastern one into submission. Purple Album, Coverdale was giving flashy
each year without fail, the likes Peter Cook and Dudley Moore.
It was an unlikely success story. Half make-overs to two ’Snake classics: Here I Go
of Babylon and Remedies In keeping with the spirit of the
a decade earlier, Whitesnake had been Again and Crying In The Rain. The former is
consolidating the spooky vibes. original, this reissue (which
a strictly niche concern in global terms – an a textbook example of when hair metal got it Yet for all the cult praise and includes a Radio 1 interview from
old-school British blues rock band (albeit right, the latter is the best song on the record. seals of approval from 1977 and two previously
a glorious one) put together by the singer This super-deluxe edition of 1987 comes contemporaries, it was his fifth unreleased radio interviews) is
with the glasses and frizzy hair from Deep stuffed with the requisite add-ons in the release, Dr. John’s Gumbo, that a rip-off, but that only adds to its
Purple who wasn’t Ian Gillan. They were shape of four extra discs of material (three established him as New Orleans ‘charm’. Twenty-four quid for a
a decent seller at home, but when this audio, one visual). Skip the inessential royalty, thanks to his three-CD spoken-word set?!
bunch of lumpy English dudes in denim collection of remixes, the shabby interpretative magic on the McLaren would be proud.
flares and satin jackets knocked on in-concert recording from Tokyo which music of the city’s famous sons QQQQQQQQQQ
America’s door, America hid behind the won’t give Live… In The Heart Of The City Professor Longhair and Huey Everett True
curtains and any sleepless nights ‘Piano’ Smith, including the
pretended it and the collection ubiquitous Iko Iko. Stray
wasn’t home. of various promo The final two albums in this All In Your Mind: The
Most people would
‘1987 stands as videos featuring collection, In The Right Place and Transatlantic Years
have taken the hint the high-water mark Coverdale’s then- Destively Bonnaroo, were made in
tandem with another Crescent
1970-1974 ESOTERIC
Stray-cat dues.
eventually. Except missus Tawny Kitaen
you can never of the MTV rock era.’ writhing on the City mainstay, Allen Toussaint, Roaring out of
underestimate the bonnets of assorted and the muscular west London
accompaniment of The Meters. as teenagers in
stubbornness of David Coverdale. The automobiles and head straight for Evolution
It could be argued that the late 60s,
singer’s roving eye had been caught by a ’87, a compendium of demos and early
Rebennack’s later work flirted Stray became
swaggering young guitar hotshot named versions of the songs that make up 1987.
with novelty (albums of faves on the UK’s thriving club
John Sykes, then shooting off six-string This is where you’ll find the meat of 1987. standards, etc), and although scene with their riff-bolstered
pyrotechnics with the final incarnation of Rather than merely upend the waste bin all there have been intermittent prog, favouring Del Bromham’s
Thin Lizzy. Coverdale enticed Sykes into the over the floor, various versions of each sparkly gems down the years it’s guitar flights and US psych
latest line-up of Whitesnake in 1983, adding track have been meticulously stitched this first seven that make up the vocal harmonies.
his firepower to a turbocharged remix of the together to make new versions, so you’re cornerstone of his reputation. After 1970’s self-titled debut
band’s sixth album, Slide It In, designed hearing them grow from rough demos to QQQQQQQQQQ album, Stray recorded four more
specifically for the US market – something the (almost) finished article as they play. Terry Staunton for Transatlantic (Suicide, Saturday
that even then looked like a dry run for 1987. It works brilliantly for two reasons. Morning Pictures, Mudanzas
With Coverdale’s blessing, Sykes Firstly it’s a great way of charting the Sex Pistols and Move It), supporting the
de-bluesed Whitesnake. He packed out evolution of how a track is put together More Product USM/UMC likes of Sabbath and Quo but
their rehearsal room with giant speaker without having to sift through unnecessary ‘Flogging a dead horse’ was never breaking big (even when
stacks, drawing a line under their sunburst detritus. Secondly, even the rawest how they termed it then. managed by Charlie Kray).
past and bringing them fully up to speed incarnations of these tracks showcase the The Sex Pistols Changing label and line-ups,
with the hard rock trends du jour. But the class of Coverdale’s voice – something the ‘third’ album, Stray continued with Bromham
relationship between the two men was polish of the finished article occasionally Some Product, out front, getting a boost when
a turbulent one, a clash of two great big hides. All the hair spray, teeth whitener and Carri On Sex Maiden’s Steve Harris declared
talents with two great big egos. wives writhing on car bonnets can’t hide Pistols, released himself a fan and his band
in 1979, long after frontman covered All In Your Mind for the
There was only ever going to be one the fact that he’s one of the finest blues-rock
Johnny Rotten’s acrimonious B-side of Holy Smoke.
winner in that battle. Sykes might have singers Britain has ever produced.
departure, is a hastily cobbled- This bulging box contains the
written and played on the songs that made At 10m sales and counting, 1987 remains
together collection of the Sex Transatlantic albums plus a disc
up 1987, but by the time the album was Whitesnake’s commercial high point. Is it Pistols talking, mostly on the of outtakes, rare 45s and demos,
released he was gone, along with studio their greatest album? Maybe, maybe not radio – banned radio ads, the including their 1968 audition.
bassist Neil Murray and drummer Aynsley – Ready An’ Willin’ and Love Hunter both run odd snippet of music, Grundy Stray might not have found
Dunbar, replaced by a cast of made-for- it close, but then neither had the sheer swear words included. As such it a home then, but they play
MTV ringers drawn from Dio, Quiet Riot cultural impact this did. Not bad going for shouldn’t work on any level – the a reunion show this month to
and Ozzy Osbourne’s band. the bloke with glasses and frizzy hair from calculated money-grabbing celebrate this belated but well-
For all that, they managed to produce an Deep Purple who wasn’t Ian Gillan. cynicism behind such a release deserved acknowledgement of
album that oozed 80s class. The songs that QQQQQQQQQQ was going some, even for their endless graft.
ALAMY

make up 1987 are ingrained into the DNA Dave Everley manager Malcom McLaren – but QQQQQQQQQQ
it does, sometimes gloriously. Kris Needs

CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 97
REISSUES Airbourne case of their debut, a remastered
Diamond Cuts NETTWERK disc with incredibly clean and
Good old rock’n’roll thunder detailed demos that sound
from Down Under. almost as pristine as the magical
Few bands tracks they’d soon become.
pack as much Most intriguing is the live set
fun and punch the band play for radio station
into their KSAN. Stepping in as a late
performances substitute for Van Morrison,
as Airbourne do. The Aussies it’s their first live show. As the
attack their music with all the DJ remarks: “I don’t even know
energy and attitude of maniacal if these guys have a name
cannibals on the trail of fresh yet.” Name or not, they don’t
flesh. It’s no wonder they’re disappoint – Hagar is already
regarded as the natural fully formed as a singer,
successors to Rose Tattoo. while Ronnie Montrose is so
This set houses the band’s first mellifluous as to be ridiculous.
three albums, giving us another A year later they’d return, as
chance to bathe in the bloodlust evidenced on the second disc of
of Runnin’ Wild (2007), No Guts, Paper Money, slick from the road
No Glory (2010) and Black Dog and brimming with confidence;
Barking (2013). They’re so full they’re practically mute on their
of in-yer-face attitude that they first session, boisterous on the
still kick hard. second. It’s another high-flying
What will interest Air heads, set, with a particularly robust
though, are the two other discs. Roll Over Beethoven showing
The fourth CD, Diamond Cuts a band in full flight and offering
– The B-Sides, has a selection even more reasons to regret the
of 13 songs that were on the fact they couldn’t make it last.
B-sides of various singles from Philip Wilding

The Jam that era, but also two previously


unreleased tracks, namely The Residents
Money and Heavyweight Lover. 80 Aching Orphans
1977 UMC/POLYDOR Both have unmistakable CHERRY RED
Airbourne rock’n’roll pace, with Eyeballs, top hats and 45 years
Five-disc set of the band’s first glory year. the former being a real gem. of madness.
My teenage self salivates. Quite how this got recorded The only failsafe
during the sessions for No Guts, way to truly
No Glory and then discarded grasp what The

T
his sumptuous five-CD collection the alienation of the suburbia I knew as is something of a puzzle. Residents have
This should have been put been up to over
contains much of The Jam’s well as Weller in The Jam), and the singles
out a long time ago. the last 45 years would be to
prodigious output during their (of course) being the equal of anything
The fifth disc is a DVD called immerse oneself in their bizarre,
first glory year, 1977. That means you get that followed… even some of the suspect
It’s All For Rock ’N’ Roll, which is challenging and frequently
the brash determination and unswerving Motown covers, and especially that a documentary on the band. If unfathomable music to the
vision of debut album In The City, the raw burning Who cover (So Sad About Us). you’re expecting serious insight exclusion of everything else. But
teen power of second album This Is The And how great is first album track and philosophical analysis, you’ll then you would probably go
Modern World and the original Polydor Time For Truth? I mean, as Weller himself be sorely disappointed. What mad. The next best option is to
demos from February 1977 (and not put it, fuck off. you get is what you’d expect buy this glorious four-disc
a duff track among them). On top of that, Because they had never brooked no from such a band – full-on retrospective, which is both as
there are two lots of John Peel sessions, argument, never had any cause to doubt madcap bluster of the type that’ll illuminating and confounding as
which still retain the knack of sounding themselves, and because they were so make you smirk throughout. anyone could hope.
more finely honed than the official young themselves, The Jam naturally This is a cracking reminder With tracks drawn from
releases, a previously unreleased live managed to capture the confusion and of Airbourne’s personality. The across the eyeball-sporting
concert from the Nashville – 15 tracks bruised dreams of being a teenage boy bonus stuff enhances it all. loonbags’ entire catalogue, and
of blistering fury – and the occasional in late 1970s Britain like few others. QQQQQQQQQQ with a generous sprinkling of
dodgy Arthur Conley cover. There’s By the time the group released their Malcolm Dome rarities and unheard material,
even a DVD full of TV appearances and debut single In The City in 1977 – and 80 Aching Orphans reinforces
promo videos. God, here was an anthem of pure Montrose what a unique proposition they
As I say, my teenage self would have optimism to match any (The Jam did Deluxe Edition Reissues have always been.
salivated. So does my adult self. So what anthems so well) – the band has already WARNER MUSIC Although more firmly rooted
Two-disc reissues for two in avant-garde performance art
if In The City features seven times here, in been playing together for five years
landmark Montrose releases. than anything as mundane as
various guises? and so arrived seemingly fully formed,
Montrose rock’n’roll, The Residents’ music
Such self-belief! Such heedless purpose operating at the peak of their powers.
(9/10) and can be enchanting, thrilling and
and willpower! Okay, these songs are no And then they just got better. It helped, Paper Money terrifying, often within the same
Sound Affects or Setting Sons, but what is? of course, that drummer Rick Buckler (8/10) have song, and while they’re arguably
Seriously, what is? looked so cool. long cemented the ultimate acquired taste,
Also, there’s quite some argument to Weller split The Jam when he was still Montrose’s place in history – the only a few moments veer into
be had for Art School (distrust of adult only 24 years old. Mere mod revivalists? almost impossible to follow impenetrable insanity.
THE JAM: REX/SHUTTERSTOCK

conventions), the searing Away From The Get the fuck out of here. From year one, debut, the subsequent years of All the band’s best-known
Numbers (loneliness to be found at the The Jam were insanely great. attrition between singer and tunes are here, from Hello Skinny
heart of the crowd), Carnaby Street, Life From QQQQQQQQQQ guitarist – so what can yet (which many will know from
A Window (very few songwriters captured Everett True another reissue offer to prise the Primus’s reverential cover)
cash from your wallet? In the and Kaw-liga (think Billie Jean

98 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
gone wrong) to The Angry both life and death. Boy art and his audience. I miss that gracefully, with too much spindly Davis’s Bitches Brew. The seven-
Angakok from 1979’s ageless geniuses, still in their twenties, brilliant young man sometimes. drum-machine clatter and piece line-up – centred on
masterpiece Eskimo. still largely unsoured by the QQQQQQQQQQ juvenile sleaze-horror schlock. guitarist/singer Fred Glickstein
The perfect entry point for the bad blood to come. Stephen Dalton But Phantom and Kiss The Carpet and classical/jazz violinist Jerry
uninitiated, these 400 minutes A second disc of demos, remain impressively cinematic, Goodman – included two sax
of madness make pretty much B-sides and alternative takes The Sisters meshing moody guitar twangs players and a trumpeter, and the
everything else seem a bit dull. yields no lost classics but plenty Of Mercy with stuttering electro beats, opening track of their 1969 self-
QQQQQQQQQQ of modest pleasures. My snobby Some Girls Wander while the slamming techno- titled debut, called Introduction,
Dom Lawson teenage self might have hated By Mistake RHINO metal cover of Iggy’s 1969 is has an alluring range of
the mournful trumpet solo on Fifty shades of black, newly basically Eldritch shamelessly dynamics to draw you in.
The Smiths an early blueprint of Never Had reissued on deluxe vinyl. confessing where he copped They can switch styles at will,
The Queen is Dead – No One Ever, but middle-aged Despite his Nosferatu vocal croak. often within the same song.
Deluxe Edition WARNER me can appreciate this rare releasing only More interesting are very The key for the casual listener is
Teenage dreams are hard Smiths acknowledgement of one new song early tracks such as Watch, their left-field cover of the The
to beat. rock’s jazzy, bluesy hinterland. in the past Body Electric and Adrenochrome, Kinks’ Tired Of Waiting. If you
Returning to The false starts, vocal stumbles 27 years, recorded when the Sisters were get it, then the swirling bursts
an album you and snatches of studio chatter Andrew Eldritch’s techno-goth still post-punk proto-goths who of creativity and frequently
adored beyond also cast interesting light on trailblazers remain the cult that shared more sonic terrain with surreal lyrics provide their
reason in your a band that always appeared will not die. They still fill arenas PiL or Cabaret Voltaire than the own momentum.
teens is clearly so supernaturally self-assured. in Europe, while their rare UK none-more-black hordes who But the sense that there’s
inviting disappointment, but this Featuring a previously shows are frenzied sell-outs. would later follow them into the more to come soon dissipates
1986 Morrissey-Marr career unreleased concert recording Newly remastered as a vinyl eternal night. on their second album, Dinosaur
peak proves enduringly rich and from Boston in 1986, the third box set, this 1992 compilation of QQQQQQQQQQ Swamp, which is dense and
rewarding in its punchy, CD offers a welcome reminder early singles and EPs captures Stephen Dalton bewildering. The ideas continue
remastered, expanded form. of the muscle and swagger the future doom-rock overlords to flood in but there’s no quality
From that Shakespearean the Smiths could muster as a febrile work in progress Flock control and the songs lack focus.
state-of-the-nation rockbeast outside the studio. Hand In between 1980 and 1983, a rough Truth – Columbia Goodman, whose playing
title track to the deceptively Glove and I Want The One I Can’t beast slouching towards Leeds Recordings 1969-70 is a compelling feature on the
sunny, tropical guitar shimmers Have both have real punky bite, University Student Union. CHERRY RED first album, is relegated to
of Cemetry Gates, from the Billy while the weeping glissando At almost eight minutes, the Giving a flying Flock. a peripheral role. Instead, there’s
Liar-esque tartness of Frankly cascades of That Joke Isn’t Funny full-length zombie-apocalypse Emerging from an increasing reliance on sound
Mr Shankly to the gloriously Anymore still inflame tender cyberpunk stampede of Temple Chicago into effects and production tricks.
overblown romantic self-pity teenage emotions decades later. Of Love is the sole crossover the heady, Not surprisingly Goodman
of There Is A Light That Never “Don’t pretend,” Morrissey anthem here. Reissued in 1992, it psychedelic was easily lured away to the
Goes Out, no other British teases the crowd, “you didn’t like gave the Sisters their biggest hit. avant-garde Mahavishnu Orchestra.
band has ever sounded so it.” Warm and witty, camp and Some of these primitive scene at the end of the 60s, The QQQQQQQQQQ
simultaneously in love with knowing, fully in control of his experiments haven’t aged Flock were in thrall to Miles Hugh Fielder

ELP
Fanfare: Emerson, Lake & Palmer
1970-1997 BMG
This huge box set brings a whole new
meaning to the term ‘super-deluxe’.

A
s Carl Palmer limbers up (you imagine from there on in, all bets are off. There
he really does limber up – no one that are the Steven Wilson and Jakko
age stays in that kind of shape without Jakszyk surround sound mixes, which
the occasional lunge) to collect the 2017 Prog were revelatory enough when first
God gong for his lifetime’s dedication to the released, but when you fall into the
music he and his bandmates made and loved, ELP-shaped hole of the unreleased
ELP’s label have decided to roll out what can best triple live album of a Milan show in
be described as the big guns. May 1973, you wonder how three
ELP collections are nothing new – the earth men made all that glorious racket.
has been exhumed and reworked so many times This will all be nothing new to
on their past endeavours that even Love Beach the bootleggers, but there’s much
managed to accrue some kind of legend, and not to enjoy in the Andy Pearce and
just for what Keith Emerson was wearing on the Matt Wortham re-engineered live
cover. It would, you’d imagine, be going some to disc, not least a show from Pocono
get people to dip their hands into their pockets International Raceway (no, we’ve
for yet another reimagining of the work that no recollection of it as a venue either) in July Bob Harris interviews to hold your attention.
Emerson, Lake & Palmer did up to and into the 1972, where the band kick off with Hoedown In addition to all that there are original promo
90s, when, quite frankly, the wheels had come and then Tarkus before settling into Take A Pebble, posters, the Lucky Man single, a hardback book
off with an alarming clatter. presumably so everyone can catch their breath. and even a badge.
That said, the only thing you can imagine that Personally speaking, it’s the On The BBC disc It may just be yet another ELP exhumation,
ELP: REX/SHUTTERSTOCK

might be missing from this collection is one of that kept calling me back, with the band flying but it feels like a labour of real love.
Keith Emerson’s Hammond-stabbing blades. through a show from the Works tour at some QQQQQQQQQQ
You get the original 11 albums, naturally, but enormodome in Memphis, with some added Philip Wilding

CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 99
REISSUES John Lee Hooker weighed down by heedless
King Of The Boogie CONCORD expectation: this music, while
Five-CD celebration of the symphonic in structure, exists
influential blues legend. within the moment and the
Unlike many of moment alone. Moments like
the blues giants the crystalline tumbles of sound
who mapped washing across the middle
out the sonic section of Absent Friend feel both
and psychic haunting and captivating: an
territory for future generations, overcoat of rock instrumentation
multi-Grammy-winner John Lee perhaps, but with the feel and
Hooker lived to see his work lineage of ambient dance music
rewarded and enjoy the spoils. or a Philip Glass. Or even Mike
The final disc in this collection Oldfield’s Tubular Bells.
(With Friends) shows just how Throughout the entirety of
far his music reached and the Hex, the mood captured is one of
voluminous cast of those who rain-splashed, neon-reflecting
benefitted from his inimitably deserted city streets: down but
rowdy, implacable fearsome not depressed. Urban anguish.
and determined sound. A direct line can be traced
Stoicism and unchanging between the spellbound
resolve are the keynotes that tie meandering mesmerising music
together Hooker’s earliest primal here back to the roots of avant-
foot-stomping solo tracks Boogie garde electronica, minimalist
Chillen (a 1948 hit), the bopping classical and 1980s synth-pop,
and punchy 60s R&B sides and forward to bands such as
(Boom Boom), and full-band final Sigur Rós, Godspeed You! Black
Healer-era recordings with Eric, Emperor, Mogwai and Tortoise
Van and Carlos. (among many others).
The rural/electric blues Hex was Bark Psychosis’s final

Grand Funk Railroad crossover soundtracks Hooker’s


journey from Deep South
moment (and debut album):
although the band disintegrated
sharecropper shack to big city soon afterwards. The mark they
Trunk Of Funk Vol 1/Trunk Of Funk Detroit and Chicago blues, left is indelible.
Vol 2 UMC his rhythmic drive and lyrical QQQQQQQQQQ
ingenuity proving ageless and Everett True
Bulging Trunks – no budgie-smugglers here. all-conquering.
With 100 albums released The Tubes
in his lifetime, five CDs can The A&M Years CAROLINE

I
n July 1971, US monstergroup T.N.U.C., Inside Looking Out and, of course, only scratch the surface of Not punk, definitely dope:
Planet Hooker; stellar albums early years’ effervescence.
Grand Funk Railroad played signature song We’re An American Band
with Canned Heat and The It’s strange that
a massive free concert in London’s were, and remain, the stuff of legend – no
Groundhogs are represented glam, punk,
Hyde Park, supported by Humble Pie matter what the holier-than-thou rock
with one track each. Nonetheless, prog and art-
and Head Hands & Feet. Thousands of journals of old might have told you. there are some choice previously rock aren’t all
early-generation headbangers witnessed As for the missteps? Well, look no unreleased tracks nestling fighting over
a truly awe-inspiring set by the definitive further than 1974’s All The Girls In The beside the standard classics who claims The Tubes as
American blue-collar rock band. However World Beware!!!, the band depicted as and deeper catalogue cuts. heroes of their own. In the 80s,
this monumental event has been largely muscle-bound Schwarzenegger types All told, this is a finely detailed the wonderfully theatrical San
erased from rock history because: a) GFR on the cover – Manowar eat your heart and lovingly curated tribute to Francisco porno-politico
weren’t The Who or the Rolling Stones, out. The album reaches its nadir with one of the true greats. collective smoothed out their
and b) critics abhorred them as much as the appropriately horn-heavy Look At QQQQQQQQQQ live shock tactics to gain radio
fans adored them. Granny Run Run – admittedly not a GFR Gavin Martin play, but their first five years
At least these Trunk Of Funk collections original – which tells the tale of an old were a riot of satire, excess
– actually, given the size of them, let’s call lady being pursued by her aged husband, Bark Psychosis and misdirection.
them shipping containers – give the band who has just been prescribed Viagra Hex FIRE This often inspired box set
a little of the respect they deserve. Because (or the 1970s equivalent). Hex is the album that the term brings together their four
let’s face it, this lot played arena rock To counterbalance the hilarity, the post-rock was invented for. opening studio salvos, plus
before there were even arenas – just fields album closes with a magnificent version As Simon Reynolds (the critic What Do You Want From Live?,
of corn and dusty parking lots. of Some Kind Of Wonderful, with an who coined the term) had it, recorded during a whole week of
Vol 1 spans the years 1969-1971 and ever-commanding vocal performance post-rock was about using rock shows at Hammersmith Odeon.
instrumentation for non-rock (Yes, they were that big; they
includes six discs, beginning with debut by Mark Farner. But the best track of
purposes, using guitars as headlined Knebworth in ’78.)
album On Time and ending with E Pluribus the entire collection just has to be the
facilitators of timbre and White Punks On Dope, the
Funk. Vol 2 takes in 1972-1976 with epic and elegiac I’m Your Captain, which
textures rather than riffs and finale of their 1975 self-titled
another half-dozen CDs, from Phoenix appeared originally on 1970 album Closer power chords. debut album, was cunningly
to Born To Die. To Home –an enduring classic rock, er, And so it is on Hex: the seven pitched as a punk anthem in
There are naturally missteps, given this classic if there ever was one. tracks contained on this 1994 the UK two years later, but by
phenomenal output, but when the Funk The only criticism of these sets is the album may come to occasional ’79, their other notional hit here,
are on song, there’s no stopping them. For dodgy repro of the original album sleeves stops and refrains, the vocals Prime Time, was an ironically
GRAND FUNK RAILROAD: GETTY

evidence, look no further than the brace – the shiny glory of E Pluribus Funk, for whispered/lullabied like a bevy slick love duet. Their minds
of live albums included here: the aptly example, now resembles a tatty beer mat. of saddened, friendless Talk Talk moved too quickly to let an
titled Live Album (1970) and Caught In The QQQQQQQQQQ and AR Kane fans, but audience settle.
Act (1975). Tracks such as Mean Mistreater, Geoff Barton throughout there is So there are plenty of thrills
a determination not to be and wry chuckles here, as even

100 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
the revolving producers – Al track Outer Space. The lumpen U-Men U-Men split soon after, but not 1968 debut album became one
Kooper, Ken ‘Ziggy’ Scott, Roxy/ Pain In The Neck is a bit of U-Men SUB POP before releasing the tremendous, of the biggest influences on
Genesis man John Anthony and a misstep, and a version of Two-CD anthology of one of tremulous single Dig It A Hole/ late-60s rock by introducing
Todd Rundgren – scream 70s Sweet’s Fox On The Run is as the great lost Seattle bands. Solid Action – the finest garage folk and jazz elements. This
rock invention. throwaway as they come, but the From 1983 churner ever to rip off the stellar band are represented
That debut revels in sci-fi album really hits its groove (pun to 1987, the Batman theme – which made by two tracks that are the
and trash culture; Young And intended) with the sprawling six- U-Men were Single Of The Week in Melody most familiar items on three
Rich is wilfully sleazy; Now minute mini-epic Genghis Khan. the kings of Maker, alongside Love Buzz, the CDs constructed from the
sees them anxiously covering (The moment when Ace bellows the Seattle debut single by new Sub Pop Transatlantic archives.
Beefheart and Lee Hazlewood; ‘Genghis!’ never fails to bring underground. Their sludgy, band Nirvana. Alongside the better-known
Remote Control is an immaculate a smile to the face.) twisted, hypnotic sound was This collection is the entire Stray and Jody Grind lurk
skewering of TV addicts. Talking of which, Too Many akin to Melbourne’s Birthday studio-recorded output of a kaleidoscope of delights,
Turn on The Tubes again. Faces has hints of paranoia, Ace Party and fellow American the U-Men, remastered by including Sallyangie (featuring
QQQQQQQQQQ maybe recalling his days in absurdists Butthole Surfers, legendary producer Jack pre-Bells Mike Oldfield), Mel
Chris Roberts make-up with the words: ‘Too but these north-western slime Endino, plus five unreleased Collins’s Circus, prog-jazzers
many faces in the mirror, looking lizards had a malevolence and songs – and damn, it’s fine. Marsupalami and CMU, the
Ace Frehley back, looking back at me.’ dark humour all their own. QQQQQQQQQQ Dave Gilmour-mentored
Anomaly Deluxe Elsewhere, A Little Below The As Mudhoney frontman Mark Everett True Unicorn, folk-rockers Gryphon,
STEAMHAMMER/SPV Angels deals with Frehley’s battle Arm writes in the sleeve-notes, psych-proggers Jan Dukes de
Truly, madly, Frehley. with alcoholism and features “The U-Men are one of the best Various Grey, pre-Camel Peter Bardens,
Anomaly, Ace a sweet cameo from his bands I’ve ever seen. They were Let The Electric Children Lindisfarne’s Alan Hull, plus
Frehley’s fifth daughter Monique, while It’s hypnotic, frenetic, powerful and Play – The Underground Billy Connolly and Gerry
solo album, A Great Life (subtitled Don’t Let compelling… They ruled a bleak Story Of Transatlantic Rafferty as The Humblebums.
from 2009, Gene Drag You Down) could backwater landscape populated Records 1968-1976 ESOTERIC The set also shows how
encapsulates perhaps be described as Ace’s by maybe 200 people.” Going underground. Transatlantic provided an
the original Kiss guitarist’s very own My Way. Fanzine writer Bruce Pavitt Following Island outlet for London underground
personality to a tee. Strip away In addition to the original released the U-Men’s first Records’ lead as stalwarts Skin Alley and The
all the flash-bombs, smokin’ album, this remastered edition 12-inch EP on Bombshelter, an underground Deviants, which led to Mick
guitars and well-documented includes three bonus songs: and would have released their rock epicentre, Farren’s anarchic Mona – The
addictions and you’ll find Hard For Me (previously second on his fledgling Sub Nat Joseph Carnivorous Circus being recorded
a tender soul; someone who unreleased), Pain In The Neck Pop label but was too broke. By broadened the roster of with percussion nutters Twink
wears his heart on his sleeve (previously unreleased slower the time their one album was Transatlantic, the label he had and Steve Peregrine Took. It tops
– even if said sleeve is part of version) and The Return Of The released – 1988’s Step On A Bug started to release folk and blues an engaging chronicle of a time
a cheap tinfoil spacesuit. Space Bear (first time on CD). – starvation and touring had on in 1961, to mirror the changes when rules were there to be
The album begins in fine style Aces high? You betcha. done for bassist Jim Tillman, and happening in British music. broken, musical or otherwise.
with the raucous Foxy & Free, the QQQQQQQQQQ the band, although still great, Leading his attack were QQQQQQQQQQ
pace not letting up for second Geoff Barton were never the same again. Pentangle, whose self-titled Kris Needs

Steve Miller Band


Ultimate Hits UNIVERSAL
Some people call him Maurice… Comprehensive
career retrospective of the Space Cowboy.

I
t seems curious that despite a 50-year album), it’s on the 40-track, two-CD
career, most rock fans’ knowledge (and quadruple-vinyl) set where
of Steve Miller is limited solely to things get really interesting.
his handful of radio staples – The Joker, Opening with a home recording
Abracadabra, Fly Like An Eagle. of Les Paul (his godfather) telling
A graduate of the Chicago blues scene him: “Steve, you’re really going to
who arrived in San Francisco in time to go places,” it comes with a folksy,
embrace psychedelia, Miller navigated his way autobiographical feel that’s
through the rapidly changing musical tides mirrored by Miller’s essentially
with a dexterity to match any of rock’s biggest good-natured muse.
stars. Yet this fascinating figure – a former child It’s fascinating to trace his progress
prodigy who went to school with Boz Scaggs – from the driving psych-blues of
– remains that rarest of commodities in rock: 1968’s Living In The U.S.A. through
a household name we know very little about. the streamlined groove-rock of 1973’s Jet the most notable being a demo version of Take
Miller’s own frustration at this state of affairs Airliner to the synthesised trippiness of 1976’s The Money And Run.
spilled over last year at his belated induction into Wild Mountain Honey. Miller has always been at his happiest, as he
the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, an experience Miller, ever the consummate entertainer, has told us in 1973’s The Joker, when he’s ‘playing my
he described as “unpleasant”. always been about giving his audience value music in the sun’. His upbeat approach may have
Curated by Miller himself – now a sprightly for money, and even here there’s no room for denied him the critical plaudits he deserves,
73 years old – this multi-formatted collection indulgence. Instead we get nods to his dance but 40 years on from his heyday he’s having
does its best to set the record straight. While rhythm-assisted commercial renaissance in the the last laugh. This funky, feel-good collection
STEVE MILLER BAND: GETTY

the single-CD version collects all the hits 80s (Italian X-Rays), a brace of tracks from 1993’s sounds as fresh as tomorrow.
plus a previously unreleased solo demo of return-to-form Wide River (Cry Cry Cry, Stranger QQQQQQQQQQ
Seasons (originally on 1969’s Brave New World Blues) and five unreleased (mostly live) tracks, Paul Moody

CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 101
U YE R
B GUIDE ’S The Starman with
his star man.

Mick Ronson Essential Classics


The self-effacing Yorkshireman made Bowie famous, was the
sound of glam rock and revitalised the Velvet Underground.

A
lthough he had only two solo Ronson’s involvement in Lou Reed’s
albums released in his lifetime Transformer showcased his string
(Slaughter On 10th Avenue and arranging and sharp guitar vision, and
Play Don’t Worry), Mick Ronson enjoyed helped rescue a bunch of material lying
a period as one of Britain’s greatest around in half-finished form. His later
guitarists, thanks to groundbreaking work with Ian Hunter was fruitful,
performances with David Bowie before, although the Bowie-mania days were
during and after The Dame’s rise to fame. never replaced. He also did sterling work Davis Bowie David Bowie
The fulcrum on Ziggy Stardust And The with other side projects, including the Hunky Dory RCA, 1971 The Man Who Sold
Spiders From Mars, Ronson’s skills – player, Pure Prairie League and Bob Dylan’s Recording began after Bowie The World MERCURY 1970
arranger, musical director – made him Rolling Thunder Revue. “I’d follow him and Ronson’s Glastonbury This is the one with the metal.
indispensable, until Bowie changed [Bob] anywhere,” Ronson vowed. “That performance, with the future The Eastern drone and Latin
tactics for Diamond Dogs. whole tour was this huge adventure. Ziggy components in place. rhythms of the title track,
Never at ease in promoting his solo There was Joan Baez, [Roger] McGuinn, This was the only time Ronno the show-stopping R&B of
albums, Ronno preferred a collaborative Allen Ginsberg. There was Dylan. And received arrangement credits. The Width Of A Circle and the
role, one he’d perfected in his most there I was too. For a lad from Yorkshire While Hunky Dory flopped at distorted, depressive All The
significant home town (Hull) band, it was truly out of this world.” the time, it is regarded as the Madmen were unlike anything
The Rats. His first major project was After that, Ronno’s career was band’s best-loved album. else in British rock. Meanwhile,
also local: his contribution to Michael punctuated with hits, but not many. For Tracks like Quicksand and The Supermen, based on a riff
Chapman’s second album, 1970’s Fully every John Cougar there was a David The Bewlay Brothers signal the Jimmy Page gifted the singer,
Qualified Surveyor. Chapman said: “That Cassidy. A latter-day Bowie reunion and time when hippie mysticism was the perfect vehicle to let
bugger’s the best guitarist around.” vital assists to Morrissey’s Your Arsenal gave way to nascent glam rock Ronson off the leash.
This was the point when Bowie and coincided with the knowledge that he had on Queen Bitch and Changes. Bowie provided the psych
his then-producer Tony Visconti first inoperable liver cancer, but he worked up Nods to Lennon, Warhol and references to Nietzsche,
came across the skinny, reticent Ronson. until his death in April 1993, aged just 46. the Velvet Underground were HP Lovecraft and Aleister
Many have noticed certain similarities Morrissey’s guitarist Boz Boorer ambitious calling cards, with Crowley, and Ronson (and
between the Chapman recording and recalled: “I can see him in front of Ronson’s acoustic and electric Tony Visconti) arranged to
Bowie’s Hunky Dory, the album signalling a deafening Marshall head, dialling in playing carrying the conceits perfection. Even throwaway
the mutation of hippie bohemia into a sound he could hear, a master at work.” off and ensuring that Life On Black Country Rock is an
GETTY

emerging glam rock. Max Bell Mars? achieved classic status. object lesson in precision.

102 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
Superior Reputation cementing Essential
Playlist
Stranger In
The Room
Fully Qualified Survivor

The Width
Of A Circle
The Man Who Sold
The World

David Bowie Lou Reed Michael Chapman David Bowie All The
The Rise And Fall Of Transformer RCA, 1972 Fully Qualified Survivor Aladdin Sane RCA, 1973 Madmen
Ziggy Stardust And The Ronson did the bulk of the HARVEST, 1970 Up and running, Ronson The Man Who Sold
Spiders From Mars RCA, 1972 production and all the vital A key breakthrough for Ronno, provided the Stonesy riffs The World
June 16, 1972 marks the game arrangements on the album who studied Chapman’s string to Watch That Man and the
changer for Bowie and his that popularised Lou Reed and arranger Paul Buckmaster flaming solo on Time. The hit
band. Ronson’s uncredited made him a star. His string and producer Gus Dudgeon single The Jean Genie, based
Life On Mars?
Hunky Dory
string arrangements often go and piano parts for Perfect while lending his licks to the on The Yardbirds I’m A Man,
unnoticed here because of the Day, the recorder on Satellite funky Soulful Lady and the was worked over by Bowie
grandiose sweep of the songs, Of Love, that riff on Vicious and sweeping chord changes of and Ronson at the back of the The Bewlay
but his parts for Five Years the iconic orchestration and Stranger In The Room. bus during the Spiders’ US Brothers
Hunky Dory
and Moonage Daydream and vocal parts on Walk On The In his element feeding off tour and became the band’s
the synth on Suffragette City Wild Side should have ensured the strings on Postcards From biggest hit to date, followed
underscored the lyrics, and his Ronno became wealthy, but Scarborough or underpinning by the prototype Bowie-does- Moonage
harmony vocals were integral. as usual he received pay the gentle Rabbit Hills, he soul track Drive-in Saturday. Daydream
Producer Ken Scott scale, while others reaped also picked up tips on mood That single’s B-side, a cover Ziggy Stardust
marvelled at Ronno’s ability the rewards and the kudos. and nuance from bassist Rick of Chuck Berry’s Around And
to make a brief dash to the Later on, Reed credited the Kemp, who had escorted him Around, depicts the guitarist at Rock ’N’ Roll
toilet to write a chart and then ‘Glammer Twins’ for boosting to the sessions. The dynamics his most playful. Most people Suicide
tutor the unnamed quartet his career and emphasised on this album can be heard just busk the solo on covers of Ziggy Stardust
while Bowie looked on in silent the fact that Ronson’s hand in Hunky Dory, the experience old rock numbers, but Ronson
admiration at “my Jeff Beck”. was the major one. clearly having inspired Ronno. took it seriously. Walk On The
Wild Side
Transformer
Good Worth exploring Avoid
Panic In Detroit
Aladdin Sane

The Jean Genie


Aladdin Sane

I’m The One


Slaughter On 10th
Avenue

Ian Hunter Mick Ronson Mick Ronson David Bowie Once Bitten,
Ian Hunter CBS 1975 Slaughter On 10th Avenue Play Don’t Worry RCA, 1975 Pin Ups RCA, 1973 Twice Shy
A long and lasting friendship RCA, 1974 Ronson’s second solo album Great in theory, Pin Ups Ian Hunter
between Hunter and His tenure with Bowie almost suffers the same fate as its always sounded like contract
Ronson began when Ronno up, Ronson was pushed to predecessor, as it’s piecemeal filler, a mannered distraction Maggie’s Farm
scribbled a strings-and-brass the forefront by the MainMan again. The highlights – Billy at best. Bowie’s decision to Hard Rain
arrangement on the back of organisation. He made Porter, a revisited Stone Love revisit old mod-era fave raves
a fag packet for Mott The a credible solo debut, but cast (Soul Love) on the CD edition was water off the proverbial
Hoople’s Sea Diver and tutored his net too wide, taking in and a crisp take on Pure for Ronson, who maps out the
Cleveland Rocks
You’re Never Alone
the band through their version everything from Elvis (Love Me Prairie League’s Angel No. 9 better songs – Rosalyn, I Wish With A Schizophrenic
of All The Young Dudes. Tender) to Italian pop (Music are fine enough, but The Girl You Would and Where Have
Hunter’s debut kicks off Is Lethal) and the Richard Can’t Help It and a warmed-up All The Good Times Gone –
with Ronson’s solo on Once Rodgers ballet piece that Bowie White Light/White Heat are without suggesting that either I Feel Free
Black Tie White Noise
Bitten, Twice Shy, and Ronno suggested as the title track. surplus to requirements. he or anyone else involved
gets a credit for Boy and adds In terms of virtuoso playing The musicians include will usurp the originals.
guitars, organ, Mellotron, bass – Ronson’s version of Annette Trevor Bolder and Mike Additionally, the production Like A Rolling
and harmonica elsewhere. Peacock’s I’m The One being Garson so it sounds authentic, is weak and tinny, so despite Stone
Ronno’s production the charm – it’s business as without quite convincing that the good taste on show the Heaven And Hull
expertise lends this album usual, although for once he Ronson believes he should results are clunky.
its enduring quality, and his would have been better off be fronting the venture. RCA This is an album damned It Ain’t Easy
partnership with Hunter was with an outside producer, agreed and released him from with faint praise. You’re hardly Bowie At The Beeb
replicated on You’re Never since too much on the album his contract. Luckily, Dylan in an amphetamine rush to
Alone With A Schizophrenic. gets lost in translation. was just around the corner. slap it on the turntable.

CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 103
STUFF
Earthbound: a sadistic Yewtree growl to
David Bowie And Uncle Ernie. Snippets of pastoral
DVDs The Man Who
BOOKS & country, music hall and breezy
Fell To Earth blues dab extra colours onto
Susan Compo Tommy’s palette as it barrels
JAWBONE PRESS towards its towering conclusion,
Mad times in New Mexico, ’75. and it’s not hard to see why
Firstly, this is not a book about most of the 70s strived to
David Bowie although his skinny emulate it. Even without Elton’s
presence is everywhere. It is gigantic glitter boots in sight it’s
a fascinating account of the a dazzling feat.
making of Nic Roeg’s Bowie- QQQQQQQQQQ
starring problematic ’76 film The Mark Beaumont
Man Who Fell To Earth. Author
Susan Compo unravels the Transformer
craziness that engulfed the film: Lou Reed and Mick Rock
the technical problems, the GENESIS PUBLICATIONS

dangerous hangers-on, the sex A connoisseur’s catalogue


and drugs but not the rock’n’roll, of cool.
since Bowie’s mooted score The first time
proved to be a figment of his many of us
addled imagination; he never clapped our eyes
forgave Roeg for entrusting that on Lou Reed was
job to Papa John Phillips. via Mick Rock’s
The strands are interwoven camera lens.
with gleaming prose, the writer Transformer’s haunting, kabuki-
mining detail like a forensic style cover image was captured
scientist. No potentially during Lou’s debut London show,
illuminating interview is left at King’s Cross in July ‘72. Reed,
unturned, no ego unruffled. She hastily dressed to impress in

What Does This makes you want to watch the


film again. Do so accompanied
a rhinestone jacket by Angie
Bowie, gazes into middle
by this grounded masterpiece. distance, the Velvets in his rear-
Button Do? QQQQQQQQQQ
Max Bell
view mirror, on the cusp of solo
greatness. It’s the ultimate Lou
Bruce Dickinson HARPERCOLLINS Reed shot, yet its position is far
Iron Maiden frontman’s autobiography is light The Who from uncontested.
Tommy – Live At The There’s the fabulous Rock ‘N’
on all things Maiden, but probably better for it. Royal Albert Hall EAGLE ROCK Roll Heart-era shoot: Reed in
The original rock opera gets its shades, a leather jacket so small
first airing since 1989. it could’ve been made for a child,
“I was abused as under a see-through plastic

O
ne way and another, Bruce manoeuvred out. There is, however,
a child,” Pete jacket from Ian’s of St. Mark’s
Dickinson has pushed a lot of a brilliant description of his first
Townshend Place, an NYC boutique that did
buttons: as a singer, airline meeting with manager Rob Smallwood admits, explaining fetish before McLaren and
pilot, fencer, broadcaster, author, and a scathing put-down of NWOBHM. why it’s been Westwood, just as Lou did punk
screenwriter, songwriter, actor, you There’s no insight into his difficult for him to before Pistols and Ramones.
name it. He’s driven and determined relationship with Harris, and even his perform Tommy in full since There’s bleached ‘74 Lou: mean
when it comes to achieving the target he growing dissatisfaction with the band’s 1970, and making 2017’s first ‘n’ moody, dead-eyed ‘n’
sets himself, whether it’s becoming an direction is barely hinted at before he performance in 27 years (plus skeletal, magnificent.
international rock star, getting suddenly decides to quit after finding 40 minutes of hits) all the more Name a great Lou shot, it was
a commercial pilot’s licence or curing a quote from Henry Miller in the LA poignant. Starry casts including probably Mick Rock’s, and in this
his throat cancer. He’s also a very affable Times that reads, ‘All growth is a leap in Steve Winwood, Rod Stewart, implausibly plush volume, Rock
bloke with a wry sense of humour who the dark, a spontaneous unpremeditated Phil Collins, Ringo Starr and and Reed rap a great
can take the piss out of himself. act without the benefit of experience’. No Elton John have at various times accompanying commentary to
What Does This Button Do? is not so mention of the unpleasantness on their brought music’s first rock opera all the best. The humour’s
much an autobiography – although it final tour either. Indeed you’ll find out to life, but here The Who whiskey-dry, Warhol-weaned
begins like one – but a series of more about fencing and flying a plane eschew gimmicky cameos and Lou reveals a photographer’s eye
memoirs. Some of them are scenes from than you will about life in a rock band, let Daltrey and Townshend fully and it’s only a joy. Expensive,
his life, such as his first terrifying pilot although he does admit that being a rock inhabit rock’s most celebrated yes, but once you’ve bought the
encounter with turbulence leaving him star ‘is not all it’s cracked up to be’. olfactory pinball supremo. box sets what else have you got
It makes for an amazing to spend your money on?
powerless as his plane is literally blown Similarly there are no references to
journey as Rog ’n’ Pete rattle QQQQQQQQQQ
over the mountains, or his vivid tale of wives, children, the Osbornes or Nikki
breathlessly through the titular Ian Fortnam
going to play a gig in Sarajevo at the Sixx. Dickinson has set his own limits
Tommy’s life – from birth to
height of the siege. His eye for detail and he sticks to them. Some might extreme PTSD to becoming Steely Dan FAQ
enriches his writing, his attention to argue that part of the picture is missing, Messiah of the flippers – Anthony Robustelli BACKBEAT
detail can be forensic, as the account of but the clues that point to his future
BRUCE DICKINSON: JOHN McMURTRIE/PRESS

knocking out such scintillating Reading in the years.


his battle with throat cancer reveals. character traits during his time at public prog-pop pieces as Christmas, Many is the music fan who has
Iron Maiden fans should note that no school – which he hated but refused to Sensation and Go To The Mirror! dismissed Steely Dan as boring
dirt is dished here. There are no band leave because he hated going home even like casual filler. The Acid Queen soft-rock jazzers, until one
politics once he has established his place more – fill in many of the gaps. loses a little menace in Damascene day the penny drops
on stage alongside Steve Harris and QQQQQQQQQQ Townshend’s hands, but Daltrey and their deft genius declares
drummer Clive Burr has been Hugh Fielder brings a bombastic wickedness itself. Once you’re in the church,
to Cousin Kevin’s torture prog and there’s no leaving. Zappa gave

104 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
them “98/100” while William shouldn’t be diminished.
Burroughs loved them “doing too L7 were staunch feminists in
many things at once”. a way that seemed almost
This oddly-structured, list- effortless. It wasn’t – as Pretend
heavy book details the group’s We’re Dead ably demonstrates in
career since 1972; The Dan’s 90s interview footage, no
mythical perfectionism and journalist ever let them forget
illogical popularity, their they were an ‘all-girl’ band – but
intermission and their 90s L7 just assumed they could rock
return. It goes deeper on chords, as hard as the boys, and then
studio sessions and recording they went and did it. And it was
techniques than on personal magnificent. These days it’s just
stuff, and those seeking insight assumed that you can transcend
into the life of recently deceased gender if you rock hard enough.
Walter Becker won’t find any. And L7 are the reason. If you
The book is too kind to the two weren’t a fan of the band before
lacklustre 21st-century albums, watching this, you will be by the
but earns that opinion with its time it’s over.
forensic study of their golden As told mostly with smeary-
age. Robust. but-beautiful vintage footage
QQQQQQQQQQ and new voice-overs, the band
Chris Roberts leap from obscurity to fame and
back with pluck and an
Jeff Beck infectious sense of adventure.
Live At Hollywood Bowl Best of all, nobody even died. An
EAGLE ROCK ear got torn off at one point, but
Virtuoso’s star-studded that’s pretty minor as far as rock
50th-anniversary celebration. careers go.
Magnificent but QQQQQQQQQQ
modest Jeff Beck Sleazegrinder
suits Hollywood
Bowl’s illustrious XTC
surrounds This Is Pop SPECIAL TREATS
effortlessly, oozing Heart-warming documentary
sharp-shooter cool and firing off on new-wave misfits-turned-
meticulously crafted, lethally national treasure.
targeted licks. “Rockumentaries, I really dislike
Beck delivers a career-spanning them,” says scowling XTC
set, with young, funky, free-rolling frontman Andy Partridge at the
accompanists easily outset of this engaging 70-
accommodating both Steve Tyler minute trawl through the
on a crowd-rousing Train Kept Swindon oddballs’ back pages.
A Rollin and declamatory cuts “They always have that
from the guitarist’s latest album lugubrious keyboard player from
Loudhailer. Wet Willie veteran that prog rock group…”
Jimmy Hall sparks Beck’s Sure enough, the next talking
pyrotechnics, old sparring head to appear is Rick Wakeman.
partner Jan Hammer his It’s a neat trick. But despite
dynamic relish and thrill-seeking Partridge’s protestations it can’t
interplay. Beck’s tenderest touch hide the fact that over the
gilds Beth Hart’s cover of I’d course of a 30-year career his
Rather Go Blind, and Buddy Guy band fell prey to almost every
(snazzy in a black-on-white rock cliché imaginable. So we
polka shirt, reflecting JB’s white hear about intra-band tensions
on black) brokers a battle of the caused by their label, Virgin,
big guns. encouraging “good-looking”
“It will be another fifty years bassist Colin Moulding to take
before we get a guitarist like centre stage, cancelled US
this,” reckons ZZ Top’s Billy tours caused by Partridge’s
Gibbons, and it’s very hard to drug-induced meltdown, and
argue with him. the departure of guitarist Dave
QQQQQQQQQQ Gregory likened to “losing a limb”.
Gavin Martin In one Tufnel-esque moment,
Partridge, describing his
L7 songwrting process, even likens
Pretend We’re Dead MVD the sound of a guitar chord to
They did it their way. “a pool of muddy water”.
The kids owe L7 a lot, which With star fans including
elevates this Blu-ray Stewart Copeland, Clem Burke
documentary above the typical and, yes, Harry Shearer on hand
‘rags to riches to rags’ story to sing the praises of this most
most rock-docs end up telling. English of bands, This Is Pop is
Well, that’s what happened to L7 a hoot from start to finish.
too, but there’s a cultural and QQQQQQQQQQ
political edge to this band that Paul Moody
The High-Voltage
What’s On Guide
Edited By Ian Fortnam (Reviews) and Dave Ling (Tours)

p 114
Dan Reed
Was it akin to a religious experience
when he played a church in London?

108 Interviews
p

p111 Tour Dates

p114 Live Reviews


ALISON CLARKE
LIVE!

“The thing
that makes the
Doobies is the
amount of
inf luences in
our music. We
never sought
one particular
direction.”

The Doobie Brothers


The band preview their first UK shows in seven years, including BluesFest dates.

A
s part of the Californian band’s first UK You guys in London and Dublin are in for a treat Listen To The Music and DOOBIE DATA
visit since 2010, the Doobie Brothers are – I can’t imagine fans of either band going away China Grove. The Doobies were
to co-headline this year’s BluesFest in disappointed. The BluesFest shows will be great. formed in 1970.
None of their
London and Dublin, alongside Steely Dan. Their Bill Payne of Little Feat members, past or
co-founding guitarist, lead singer and keyboard Is it stretching things a little to call the Doobies is the band’s touring present, are brothers.
player Tom Johnston sets the scene. a blues band? keyboardist. That’s Past line-ups have
Yeah, I guess so [laughs]. The thing that’s made the quite a coup. included Michael
Last month the Doobies played stadium shows Doobies what they are is the amount of influences What a phenomenal addition McDonald and Jeff
in California and New York alongside the that go into our music. Blues, and rhythm and Billy is – he played on just ‘Skunk’ Baxter.
Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Steely Dan, Journey blues, is certainly one of them, but there’s also about every album we ever
and Earth, Wind & Fire. Were you able to folk blues, and John McFee [guitarist] comes did, including most of the ones for Warner Brothers,
watch the new-look Eagles? from a country background and has played on and it’s great to hear that sound of his coming from
Yeah. I saw them in New York and they were many, many rock albums that you would know that corner of the stage each night.
phenomenal. Vince Gill fitted right in – as you’d all about. It’s a conglomerate of sound, but it all
expect, as he’s an amazing singer and musician. fits together really well. We never sought one Now seven years old, World Gone Crazy is the
Glenn Frey’s son Deacon also did a great, confident particular direction. band’s last record of original material. Will
job. They put on quite a show. I was very impressed. there be a follow-up?
Why has it been seven years since the Doobies Yes, and we’re already working on the songs. What
Steely Dan had Larry Carlton depping for last toured the UK? stymies that is the fact that we’re on the road all the
Walter Becker, who of course recently Well, it’s a good question and I wish that I knew time. We end for the year in November and we’ll hit
passed on. Did you know Walter well? the answer. We really need to spend more time the studio right afterwards.
No, I didn’t. Our bands toured together back in over there than we do, but at least on this trip we
the 1970s and I haven’t seen Walter since, but are also doing some dates of our own [in York, As we’ve discussed, it seems like almost
I’m a huge fan of Steely Dan. As we started, they Glasgow and Manchester]. nobody is indispensable in rock’n’roll any
were getting started and a lot of their tunes really more. Would you like the Doobies to carry
resonated with me. At those recent open-air shows in the States, on after you’re gone?
almost all of the band’s set comprised FM [After a slightly shocked silence] Nobody’s ever
Donald Fagen says that he intends to keep radio hits. Do you still believe in playing the asked me that before and to be honest, I’ve never
songs that people want to hear?
ANDREW MACPHERSON/PRESS

Steely Dan’s music alive for as long as he really considered it. All I can say is that I don’t
is able and will definitely be at BluesFest. Well, that wasn’t your average show. At our own plan on going anywhere, and I’ll keep on doing
How were they with Carlton on guitar? shows we can get away with playing a few more this until I no longer can. DL
I wanted to get out and watch them at the deep cuts, but we know that anywhere we go,
soundboard but had to make do with a monitor people want to hear the hits. And if you want to The Doobie Brothers play BluesFest Dublin on
in the dressing room, but they sounded great. get a response then just whip out Long Train Runnin’, October 28 and London 29.

108 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
INTERVIEWS

Redd Kross
The Californians look ahead
to their UK support shows.

B
assist/vocalist Steven McDonald
checks in as the power-poppers
prepare for some rare British
appearances as guests of The Melvins.

The Melvins and Redd Kross touring


together means double duty for you, with
Dale Krover also playing drums for both
groups. That sounds like hard work.
We’ll have to see. I’ve done one-off shows
before but never a full tour. Dale tells me
I should survive it.

The two bands play together a lot. Why


are they so compatible?
Well, for a start there are practical reasons
– it’s cheaper to take one rhythm section.
But although we might have a different
approach to loud guitars, we’re both from
Dweezil Zappa
the same graduation class. Get ready for 50 years of Frank and the Mothers.
Will we hear more of Redd Kross’s
punkier side, as opposed to the

T
he 47-year-old son of late singer/multi-instrumentalists How do you think he would
bubblegum element?
Ha! No. My brother Jeff [vocals/guitar] music icon Frank Zappa to audition for your band. How feel about that?
just reissued Teen Babes From Monsanto, returns with an outing did that go? Ultimately I think he would
an eight-song mini-album of ours from billed as 50 Years Of Frank: Generally I audition people based appreciate the levels of
1984, and we’ll do that in its entirety, Dweezil Zappa Plays Whatever upon word of mouth or who commitment that come from
plus other songs from the catalogue. The F@&k He Wants. I know, but I thought it might be the band. At a certain point in
interesting to throw the net a little his career he began referring
What prompted the change from the
This tour celebrates the half- wider. You never know where you’ll to musicians as mercenaries
band’s early raw style to the more
flamboyant approach? century since your dad’s band find the next talented guy. For – so many of them were just
Mostly it was a natural progression but The Mothers Of Invention first instance, my dad found Napoleon on the clock.
we had also become disillusioned by appeared in the UK. Are you Murphy Brock [singer/saxophonist]
changes in the LA punk scene. Suddenly playing their Freak Out! album, in a small club in Hawaii. Your own career has been put
the people that had beaten us up at high which was issued the previous on hold. Is there a part of you
school two years earlier were into TSOL year, in its entirety? Were the auditions successful? that’s left artistically unfulfilled
and Black Flag, so we dug more into the Not all of it, no. We are revisiting his by such a responsibility?
We received lots and lots of videos
music we’d grown up with.
earliest period. The first forty-five and we saw many people. I didn’t I don’t look at it that way. This has
Redd Kross were an influence on minutes is a bunch of early Mothers been an enormous education, and
Nirvana, Sonic Youth and many others. stuff, including material from Freak when I do make more of my own
Why did the band never make the big
breakthrough first time around?
Out!, followed by the sixties era “The first forty- music, and I will, I will have an
into the seventies and the eighties. entire new toolbox.
Some of it was our doing and we never felt five minutes of
too comfortable on major labels. Other There’s room for spontaneity? Frank exerted such a cultural
parts of it are down to timing.
Oh yeah. Each night we choose
the show is early effect on rock music. Will we
A new album that’s tentatively titled from around thirty songs and Mothers stuff.” ever see his like again?
Octavia is being planned. What is Redd a lot of the music itself requires I don’t know. There’s no more
Kross’s motivation now? improvisation – the interplay select anyone from that process artistic development. It’s possible
Fear of death, I guess. between the ensemble is a part for this UK tour, but we found that someone’s out there, but my
of the composition. We do have a guy called Adam Minkoff who dad was so politically minded…
Are you still trying to write the perfect a set-list, but we can jump around will be involved with us in the he stood for truth and integrity, in
pop song?
a bit with it depending on how future, should his schedule allow. music and in life. That’s another
Sure. Isn’t everybody? But it’s not an
easy goal. DL we’re feeling. element that makes it harder to find
Since 2006 you’ve dedicated another like-minded individual. DL
The tour ends in London on October 31. A couple of months ago, via your life to maintaining
your website, you invited male the legacy of your father. The tour begins on October 8.

CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 109
LIVE!

Jonny Lang
The bluesman gets back to
his roots on his latest tour.

W
ith Eric Clapton among his
many admirers, Jonny Lang
has enjoyed a meteoric career.
Although his style is rooted in the blues, the
North Dakota-born guitarist/vocalist adds
a contemporary twist. His latest record,
Signs, is a homecoming. Of sorts.

What’s it like to achieve a platinum record


at the age of fifteen, and to be nominated
for a Grammy two years later?
It’s a fantastic feeling. When all of that
[success] started, I was just elated.

Does a part of you also think: the only way


from here is down?

Mount Holly [Laughs] I’ve had that feeling on a couple of


occasions, yeah.

The new album Signs has a song called


Former Silvertide man Nick Perri looks ahead to a pair of dates. Snakes that’s about the times when
humility failed you. It’s pretty cool you
would admit that.

N
ick Perri was a member excess – Zeppelin, Aerosmith, are very much blues-based and Well, doesn’t everyone go through that at
of Silvertide. The GN’R.” Mount Holly are very much rock’n’roll. They were some point? I learned a lot of life lessons
guitarist later played with obviously very different. just presented in a manner that a lot earlier than I might have done under
Perry Farrell and Shinedown, The progression feels very natural. was fresh and exciting. I’m not usual circumstances.
then alongside Matt Sorum in I grew up on my parents’ record comparing Mount Holly to Jane’s
You’re now thirty-six. Fans of your music
The Darling Stilettos. Now he collections and Pink Floyd is my Addiction, but the two bands have from the start have seen you get married,
introduces his latest venture, favourite band of all time, but I’ve a spirit that’s similar. have five kids, fight addiction and discover
a rootsy Southern Californian taken in new inspirations. This God. You don’t mind sharing all that?
alternative rock band. is the first band I’ve been in that Did you enjoy your spell My songs can be pretty bare. I just write
allows me to vent my appreciation with Shinedown? what’s in my heart.
These two shows are Mount for James Brown. Yeah. I love those guys but
Holly’s third trip to the UK. musically speaking, it wasn’t Has owning up to being a Christian cost
you some fans?
We’re thrilled to be coming back. It’s interesting that you label where I wanted to head, so there
Maybe it has. But if someone asks me about
I came with Silvertide, and Jameson yourselves ‘alternative rock’. was an amicable parting of the that, I’ll tell them the truth. My relationship
[Burt, singer] has been here a bunch Forming a band is like a marriage, ways. I’d rather play the Water with God is pretty important to me.
of times as a solo artist. and Jameson has a whole other Rats [a small club] with my own
songs than headline Wembley as Would you say that Signs sees you return
Silvertide appeared to have it part of someone else’s band. And to your blues roots?
all: signed by Clive Davis, gigs “We spent a year without blowing our own trumpet Yeah. I’ve tried to grow as a songwriter,
but in spite of that refinement, the blues is
with Aerosmith, Van Halen and too loudly, I believe Mount Holly is
on the album and central to what I do.
MOUNT HOLLY: JACOPO LLORENZINI/PRESS; JONNY LANG: DANIELLA HOVSEPIAN/PRESS

Journey, and a triumphant set at capable of making it to Wembley.


Download. What went wrong?
It was a combination of
came up with The album has been finished for
Stronger Together is a slice of funky pop
music, while Bring Me Home is almost a
personalities and music business a fresh sound.” a while. When will we hear it? gospel tune – you refuse to be typecast.
conflict. When that band was We’re still figuring that out. Timing True, but I hope there’s continuity. I just
firing on all cylinders, it coincided set of influences. We spent a year is everything, and we have agreed write songs and record them.
with the start of Napster and making our album and we came up to wait until the right moment.
There aren’t a whole lot of solos, but
downloading. Things were already with a sound that we consider fresh. We’ve had a lot of success in the there’s a lot of guitar on the album.
going wrong within the band, so sync world recently, landing songs There are quite a few solos but they’re not
that didn’t help. Is Perry Farrell as interesting on TV shows and commercials. It’s extended ones. At this point, my goal is
a character as he appears to be? coming soon, though. DL to integrate the solo into the song. DL
Classic Rock said of Silvertide: He’s the sweetest guy in the whole
“They sound like the bands that world. Perry defines the spirit of Mount Holly play London on Jonny Lang plays London Shepherd’s Bush
wrote the book on hard rock alternative music, but those tunes October 18, Mansfield 21. Empire on November 4.

110 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
RECO
MME
NDS

Tour Dates

IAN ANDERSON & JETHRO TULL

AIRBOURNE, PHIL CAMBELL Nottingham Rock City Nov 3


& THE BASTARD SONS, THE WILD! London Brixton Academy Nov 4
Bristol Academy Nov 11
Glasgow Academy Nov 13 BLACK STAR RIDERS, TAX THE HEAT,
Manchester Academy Nov 14 BLUES PILLS, DIRTY THRILLS
London Chalk Farm Roundhouse Nov 15 Wolverhampton Wulfrun Hall Nov 8
Norwich UEA Nov 18 Edinburgh Queen’s Hall Nov 9
Oxford Academy Nov 19 Warrington Parr Hall Nov 10
Sheffield Academy Nov 20 Hull University Nov 12
Nottingham Rock City Nov 22 Middlesbrough Empire Nov 14
Sheffield Academy Nov 15
AIRRACE, LIONHEART Leicester Academy Nov 16
Cardiff Fuel Nov 30 Cambridge Junction Nov 18
Wolverhampton Slade Rooms Dec 1 Portsmouth Pyramid Centre Nov 19
London Camden Underworld Dec 2
Sheffield Academy Dec 3 BLUESFEST
Newcastle The Cluny Dec 5 STEELY DAN, THE DOOBIE BROTHERS,
Edinburgh Bannerman’s Dec 6 GOV’T MULE, CHRIS ISAAC, MORE
London O2 Arena Oct 27-29
IAN ANDERSON & JETHRO TULL
Manchester Apollo Apr 3 BLUESFEST DUBLIN
Newcastle City Hall Apr 5 STEELY DAN, THE DOOBIE BROTHERS
Edinburgh Usher Hall Apr 6 Dublin 3 Arena Oct 29 Dust down your medieval garb, grab a horn of mead (drink
Liverpool Auditorium Apr 7
Bristol Colston Hall Apr 9 BLUES PILLS responsibly, okay?) and get down to a Tull gig near you.
Birmingham Symphony Hall Apr 10 London Camden Jazz Café Nov 21
Cambridge Corn Exchange Apr 11 See left for dates, currently April 3-17.
London Royal Albert Hall Apr 17 JOE BONAMASSA
Cardiff Motorpoint Arena Mar 9
ANTI-FLAG Manchester Arena Mar 10 JOHN COGHLAN’S QUO, Belfast Voodoo Lounge Nov 24
Manchester The Ritz Oct 11 Carlisle Sands Centre Mar 11 ALAN LANCASTER Limerick Dolans Warehouse Nov 25
Bristol Academy Oct 12 Aberdeen GE Oil & Gas Centre Mar 13 Minehead Butlins Quo Convention Oct 13-16 Dundee Beat Generator Nov 30
Leicester Academy Oct 13 Gateshead The Sage Mar 14 Edinburgh La Belle Angèle Dec 1
Leeds Academy Oct 14 Birmingham Genting Arena Mar 16 ALICE COOPER, THE MISSION, Sheffield HRH Festival Dec 2
London Kentish Town Forum Oct 16, 17 Brighton Centre Mar 17 THE TUBES Bilston Robin 2 Dec 7
Newcastle Academy Oct 18 First Direct Arena Nov 11 Southampton 1865 Club Dec 8
Glasgow Academy Oct 19 GRAHAM BONNET BAND, Glasgow The Hydro Nov 12
KINGS OF BROADWAY Birmingham Barclaycard Arena Nov 14 THE DOOBIE BROTHERS
DAN BAIRD & HOMEMADE SIN South Shields Queen Vic Nov 18 Manchester Arena Nov 15 Dublin Bluesfest Oct 28
Sheffield The Greystones Nov 7 Wigan Pure Nov 19 London Wembley Arena Nov 16 London Bluesfest Oct 29
Leicester The Musician Nov 8 Stoke-on-Trent Eleven Nov 21 York Barbican Oct 31
Glasgow ABC2 Nov 9 Evesham Iron Road Nov 22 CRADLE OF FILTH, SAVAGE MESSIAH Glasgow Academy Nov 3
London Shepherd’s Bush Bush Hall Nov 10 Leicester The Musician Nov 23 Belfast Limelight Oct 30 Manchester Apollo Nov 4
Newcastle The Cluny Nov 11 Belfast Limelight 2 Nov 24 Dublin Academy Oct 31
Manchester Academy 3 Nov 12 Troon Winter Storm Festival Nov 25 Manchester Academy 2 Nov 2 BRIAN DOWNEY’S
Pontypridd Municipal Arts Centre Nov 26 Glasgow Garage Nov 3 ALIVE AND DANGEROUS
JIMMY BARNES Grimbsy Yardbirds Club Nov 28 Birmingham Institute 2 Nov 4 London Kensington Nell’s Jazz & Blues Nov 24, 25
London Islington Academy Dec 13 London Camden Underworld Nov 29 Leeds Church Nov 5
Glasgow King Tat’s Wah Wah Hut Dec 15 Sheffield Corporation Nov 30 Oxford Academy Nov 7 DRAGONFORCE
Edinburgh Pleasance Theatre Dec 16 Southampton Engine Rooms Nov 8 Birmingham Academy 2 Oct 11
Glasgow Cottiers Theatre Dec 17 BROKEN WITT REBELS Norwich Waterfront Nov 9 Cardiff Globe Oct 12
Belfast Limelight Dec 19 Norwich Waterfront Oct 11 London Camden Electric Ballroom Nov 10 London Camden Electric Ballroom Oct 13
Dublin Whelans Dec 20 London Shoreditch Old Blue Last Oct 13 Bristol Bierkeller Nov 11 Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms Oct 14
Wolverhampton Slade Rooms Oct 14 Tunbridge Wells Forum Oct 15
MARTIN BARRE BAND Newcastle The Cluny Oct 20 CREEPER
Stockton-on-Tees The ARC Nov 2 Sheffield Corporation Oct 21 Glasgow ABC Dec 3 ELECTRIC BOYS
Derby Flowerpot Nov 3 Glasgow Stereo Oct 22 Birmingham Institute Dec 4 Sheffield Local Authority Nov 26
Fletching Trading Boundaries Nov 4 Leeds Brudenell Social Club Oct 23 Bristol Trinity Dec 5 Newcastle The Cluny Nov 27
Bilston Robin 2 Nov 5 Birmingham Academy 3 Oct 30 London Shepherd’s Bush Empire Dec 7 Glasgow ABC 2 Nov 28
Preston Guildhall Nov 6 Southampton Joiners Arms Nov 27 Manchester Albert Hall Dec 9 Wolverhampton Slade Rooms Nov 29
Brighton Prince Albert Nov 29 Southampton Guildhall Dec 10 Chester Live Rooms Nov 30
BIG BOY BLOATER & THE LIMITS Bristol Thekla Dec 8 Porthcawl Planet Rockstock Festival Dec 2
Sheffield The Greystones Oct 12 Manchester Ruby Lounge Dec 9, 10 DAMNATION FESTIVAL Nottingham Rescue Rooms Dec 3
Darlington The Forum Oct 13 BLOODBATH, SODOM, PARADISE LOST, London Camden Underworld Dec 4
Hull New Adelphi Oct 14 BROTHER FIRETRIBE NORDIC GIANTS, MORE
London Manette Street Borderline Oct 21 Leeds University Union Nov 4 ENSLAVED
BIGFOOT Nottingham Rockingham Festival Oct 22 London Islington Assembly Hall Nov 24
Manchester Sound Control Oct 14 THE DARKNESS,
Witney Fat Lil’s Oct 19 THE CADILLAC THREE, BLACKFOOT GYPSIES EXTREME, DAN REED NETWORK
London Camden Underworld Oct 26 BROTHERS OSBORNE Southampton Guildhall Nov 23 Newcastle Academy Dec 13
Grimsby Yardbirds Club Oct 28 Belfast Mandela Hall Nov 9 Manchester Academy 1 Nov 24 Glasgow Academy Dec 14
Stoke-on-Trent Eleven Nov 2 Cardiff Y Plas Nov 12 Blackburn King George’s Hall Nov 25 Leeds Academy Dec 16
Cardiff Fuel Nov 3 Nottingham Rock City Nov 13 Leeds Academy Nov 27 Birmingham Academy Dec 17
Cannock The Station Nov 4 London Kentish Town Forum Nov 14 Newcastle Academy Nov 28 Bristol Academy Dec 18
South Shields The Queen Vic Nov 5 Norwich UEA Nov 15 Glasgow Academy Nov 29 London Brixton Academy Dec 20
Glasgow Hard Rock Café Nov 9 Birmingham Academy Nov 17 Stoke-on-Trent Victoria Hall Dec 1
Sheffield Corporation Nov 11 Manchester Academy Nov 18 Nottingham Rock City Dec 2 FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM
Troon Winter Storm Festival Nov 24 Newcastle Academy Nov 19 Norwich UEA Dec 3 London Kentish Town Forum Dec 21
Edinburgh La Belle Angele Nov 24 Glasgow ABC Nov 20 Guildford G Live Dec 5
Margate Winter Gardens Dec 6 FISH
CARAVAN Southend-on-Sea Cliffs Pavilion Dec 7 Leeds Metropolitan University Dec 8

Recommended
Fletching Trading Boundaries Nov 14 Birmingham Academy Dec 9 Manchester The Ritz Dec 9
Harpenden Public Halls Nov 16 London Hammersmith Apollo Dec 10 Leamington The Assembly Dec 10
Pwllheli Hard Rock Hell Prog Nov 17 Brighton Dome Dec 11 Cardiff Tramshed Dec 12
BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION Bury The Met Nov 18 Cardiff St David’s Hall Dec 13 Bristol Academy Dec 13
Wolverhampton Civic Hall Jan 2 Bath Komedia Nov 19 Bristol Colston Hall Dec 14 London Islington Assembly Hall Dec 15, 16
London Hammersmith Apollo Jan 4 Norwich Arts Centre Nov 20 Cambridge Corn Exchange Dec 19
London Kensington Nell’s Jazz & Blues Nov 22 DEEP PURPLE, EUROPE Newcastle Wylam Brewery Dec 20
Birmingham Barclaycard Arena Nov 17 Glasgow ABC Dec 21
ROGER CHAPMAN, Manchester Arena Nov 18
BLACK REBEL MOTORCYCLE CLUB FAMILY & FRIENDS Cardiff Motorpoint Arena Nov 20 FOCUS
Dublin Academy Oct 23 Leicester Academy Jan 11 Glasgow The Hydro Nov 22 Wavendon The Stables Oct 9
Belfast Limelight Oct 24 London Shepherd’s Bush Empire Jan 13 London O2 Arena Nov 23 Newcastle The Cluny Oct 10
Glasgow Barrowland Oct 26 Newcastle Academy Jan 17 Ayr Gaiety Theatre Oct 11
Manchester Academy Oct 27 DELAIN, MARCO HIETALA Glasgow The Ferry Oct 12
Birmingham Academy Oct 28 CLITHEROE BLUES FESTIVAL London Camden Koko Nov 1 Kinross Green Hotel Oct 13
Leeds Academy Oct 30 BERNIE MARSDEN, DR FEELGOOD, Wigan Old Courts Oct 14
Brighton Dome Oct 31 DANNY BRYANT, MORE DIAMOND HEAD Bilston Robin 2 Oct 15
Bristol Academy Nov 2 Clitheroe The Grand Oct 15 Dublin Fibber McGee’s Nov 23 London Oxford Street 100 Club Oct 18

CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 111
LIVE! RECO
MME
Cardiff The Globe Oct 19 NDS Weston-super-Mare Playhouse Theatre Nov 24
Fletching Trading Boundaries Oct 20, 21 Bournemouth Pavilion Theatre Nov 25

FROST*
W.A.S.P. Folkestone Leas Cliff Pavilion Nov 26

London Camden Dingwalls Nov 24 SIMON McBRIDE


Worcester Huntingdon Hall Nov 2
ERIC GALES St Helens Citadel Nov 3
Dublin Whelan’s Oct 24 Bilston Robin 2 Nov 6
Limerick Dolans Warehouse Oct 25 Hull Fruit Nov 7
Cork Cyprus Ave Oct 26 London Islington Academy Nov 8
Holmfirth Picturedrome Oct 27 Sheffield The Greystones Nov 9
Bournemouth Mr Kyps Oct 29 Ilfracombe Blues Festival Nov 11
Sutton Boom Boom Club Oct 31 Bristol The Tunnels Nov 13
Bilston Robin 2 Nov 2
CHANTEL McGREGOR
GOGOL BORDELLO Aberdeen Café Drummond Oct 20
Manchester Academy Dec 12 Inverness Ironworks Oct 21
London Brixton Academy Dec 14 Glasgow ABC 2 Oct 22
Wolverhampton Wulfrun Hall Dec 15 Morecambe The Platform Oct 27
Nottingham Rock City Dec 16 Keighley The Octagon Oct 28
Glasgow Academy Dec 17 Bristol The Tunnels Dec 10
Derby Flowerpot Dec 14
GOV’T MULE Barton-upon-Humber Ropery Hall Dec 15
Dublin Academy Oct 22 Leeds Brudenell Social Club Dec 16
Edinburgh Queen’s Hall Oct 24
Manchester The Ritz Oct 26 THE MELVINS, RED KROSS
Cardiff Tramshed Oct 27 Bristol Exchange Oct 9
London O2 Arena Bluesfest Oct 28 Leeds Brudenell Social Club Oct 10
Glasgow SWG3 Oct 11
GUN Manchester Gorilla Oct 12
Glasgow Barrowland Dec 2 Shy, retiring Blackie Lawless (not his real name – not a lot of Birmingham Institute 2 Oct 13
Manchester Club Academy Dec 8 London Camden Electric Brixton Oct 31
London Camden Electric Ballroom Dec 9 people know that) and co. return with their metal mayhem.
METALLICA, KVELERTAK
HARD ROCK HELL See opposite page for dates, currently October 12-27.
London O2 Arena Oct 22, 24
AIRBOURNE, BLACK STAR RIDERS, Y&T, Glasgow The Hydro Oct 26
DEE SNIDER, MORE Manchester Arena Oct 28
Pwllheli Hafan Y Môr Holiday Park Nov 9-12 Glasgow The Hydro Dec 18 London Kentish Town Forum Nov 15 Birmingham Genting Arena Oct 30
Leeds Arena Dec 20
HARD ROCK HELL NWOBHM London Wembley Arena Dec 21 LYNCH MOB, ROCK GODDESS, WILD LIES MIKE + THE MECHANICS
RAVEN, DIAMOND HEAD, LIONHEART, Wolverhampton Slade Rooms Nov 9 London Shepherd’s Bush Empire Oct 10
AVENGER, MORE INGLORIOUS Sheffield Local Authority Nov 10
Sheffield Academy Dec 2, 3 Glasgow Classic Grand Oct 10 London Islington Academy Nov 12 MOGWAI
York Fibbers Oct 11 London Brixton Academy Dec 15
HARD ROCK HELL PROG Nottingham Rescue Rooms Oct 12 MARILYN MANSON Glasgow The Hydro Dec 16
CARL PALMER’S ELP LEGACY, CARAVAN, London Camden Electric Ballroom Oct 20 Manchester Apollo Dec 4
FOCUS, MORE Glasgow Academy Dec 5 MOTORPSYCHO, SLEEP TOKEN
Pwllheli Hafan Y Môr Holiday Park Nov 16-19 INSANE CLOWN POSSE, Wolverhampton Civic Hall Dec 6 London Islington Academy Oct 23
MUSHROOMHEAD Newport Centre Dec 8
BETH HART Glasgow ABC Nov 15 London Wembley Arena Dec 9 MOUNT HOLLY
Leeds Town Hall Oct 30 Bristol Academy Nov 16 London King’s Cross Water Rats Oct 18
Bath Forum Nov 1 Manchester The Ritz Nov 17 MARILLION Mansfield Old Library Oct 21
Coventry Cathedral Nov 3 Birmingham Institute Nov 18 London Royal Albert Hall Oct 13
London Royal Albert Hall May 4 London Kentish Town Forum Nov 19 London Palladium Nov 7
Manchester Academy Nov 8
HAWKLORDS
Sutton-in-Ashfield The Diamond Oct 19
IQ
London Islington Assembly Hall Dec 9
Gateshead
Cambridge
The Sage
Corn Exchange
Apr 11
Apr 13
Recommended
Lewes Con Club Oct 20 Birmingham Symphony Hall Apr 14 MR. BIG, THE ANSWER,
Hitchin Club 85 Oct 21 THE KENTUCKY HEADHUNTERS, Brighton Dome Apr 16 FASTER PUSSYCAT
Southend-on-Sea Chinnery’s Oct 22 BAD TOUCH Bristol Colston Hall Apr 17 Nottingham Rock City Nov 16
Wigan Old Courts Oct 24 Newcastle The Cluny Oct 9 Reading Hexagon Apr 19 Newcastle Northumbria University Nov 17
Edinburgh Bannerman’s Oct 26 Glasgow ABC2 Oct 10 Liverpool Philharmonic Hall Apr 20 London Shepherd’s Bush Empire Nov 19
Glasgow Audio Oct 27 Manchester Academy Nov 21
Aberdeen The Assembly Oct 28 THE KILLERS MASTODON, RED FANG, Glasgow ABC Nov 22
Newcastle The Cluny Oct 29 Birmingham Genting Arena Nov 6 RUSSIAN CIRCLES Wolverhampton Wulfrun Hall Nov 23
Grimsby Yardbirds Club Oct 31 Newcastle Metro Radio Arena Nov 10 Cardiff Great Hall Dec 2
Preston Continental Nov 1 Manchester Arena Nov 13 Wolverhampton Civic Hall Dec 4
Frome Cheese & Grain Nov 2 Dublin 3 Arena Nov 16 Nottingham Rock City Dec 5
Plymouth The Hub Nov 3 Belfast SSE Arena Nov 17 Newcastle Northumbria University Dec 6 NAZARETH
Southampton Talking Heads Nov 4 Leeds First Direct Arena Nov 19 Glasgow Barrowland Dec 7 London Great Portland St 229 Club Oct 13
Hastings The Carlisle Nov 5 Glasgow The Hydro Nov 20 Manchester Academy Dec 9 Norwich UEA Oct 14
Swansea Sin City Nov 6 Aberdeen GE Arena Nov 21 London Brixton Academy Dec 10
Bristol Bierkeller Nov 7 Nottingham Motorpoint Arena Nov 23 OPETH, ENSLAVED
Evesham Iron Road Nov 9 Sheffield Arena Nov 25 JOHN MAYALL Manchester The Ritz Nov 15
London Oxford Street 100 Club Nov 10 London O2 Arena Nov 27, 28 Crawley The Hawth Oct 17 Glasgow Barrowland Nov 16
Nottingham Doghouse Nov 11 Llandudno Venue Cymru Oct 18 Belfast Limelight Nov 17
Bilston Robin 2 Nov 12 LAIBACH Stoke-on-Trent Victoria Hall Oct 19 Dublin Academy Nov 18
Leicester The Musician Nov 13 London Islington Academy Nov 23 Liverpool Philharmonic Hall Oct 20 Nottingham Rock City Nov 19
Norwich Brickmakers Nov 14 Birmingham Town Hall Oct 21 Bristol Academy Nov 21
Kendal Bootleggers Nov 16 L.A. GUNS Tunbridge Wells Assembly Hall Oct 22 Birmingham Institute Nov 22
Pwlhelli Hard Rock Hell Prog Festival Nov 17 London Camden Underworld Nov 2, 4 Sheffield City Hall Oct 24
Chester Live Rooms Nov 18 Norwich Theatre Royal Oct 25 PAPA ROACH
Worcester Marrs Bar Nov 19 JONNY LANG Salisbury City Hall Oct 26 London Brixton Academy Oct 10
London Shepherd’s Bush Empire Nov 4 Truro Hall For Cornwall Oct 27 Manchester Apollo Oct 11
H.E.A.T, DEGREED, BLACK DIAMONDS Frome Cheese & Grain Oct 28
Wolverhampton Slade Rooms Nov 17 MARK LANEGAN BAND Portsmouth Kings Theatre Oct 29 PARADISE LOST, PALLBEARER
Glasgow Cathouse Nov 18 Bristol Trinity Nov 27 York Grand Opera House Oct 31 London Camden Electric Ballroom Nov 3
Nottingham Rescue Rooms Nov 19 Norwich Waterfront Nov 28 Southport Theatre Nov 1
London Islington Academy Nov 21 Wolverhampton Wulfrun Hall Nov 29 London Cadogan Hall Nov 2, 3 MIKE PETERS & THE ALARM
Newcastle Boiler Shop Nov 30 Cambridge Corn Exchange Nov 4 Aberdeen Assembly Oct 6
HELLOWEEN’S PUMPKINS UNITED Liverpool Academy Dec 1 Bristol Colston Hall Nov 5 Edinburgh Liquid Room Oct 7
London Brixton Academy Nov 14 Aberdeen Garage Dec 3 Ipswich Regent Theatre Nov 7 Bristol Thekla Oct 11
Edinburgh Liquid Room Dec 4 Oxford New Theatre Nov 8 Wakefield Warehouse 23 Oct 12
HIM Belfast Mandela Hall Dec 5 Southend-on-Sea Cliffs Pavilion Nov 9 Birmingham Academy Oct 13
Glasgow Barrowland Dec 14 Dublin Academy Dec 6 Guildford G Live Nov 10 Liverpool Academy Oct 14
Nottingham Rock City Dec 15 Leeds Church Dec 8 Canterbury Marlowe Theatre Nov 11 Norwich Waterfront Oct 18
Manchester Academy Dec 16 Oxford Academy Dec 9 Blackpool Grand Theatre Nov 12 Sheffield Academy Oct 19
London Chalk Farm Roundhouse Dec 17 Southampton Engine Rooms Dec 10 Gateshead The Sage Nov 14 Oxford Academy Oct 20
Brighton Concorde 2 Dec 11 Halifax Victoria Theatre Nov 15
ILFRACOMBE BLUES FESTIVAL London Camden Koko Dec 12 High Wycombe Swan Theatre Nov 16 ROBERT PLANT, SETH LAKEMAN
THE BLUES BAND, THE PRETTY THINGS, Basingstoke The Anvil Nov 17 Plymouth Pavilions Nov 16
SNAKECHARMER, MORE THE LEMON TWIGS Dartford Orchard Theatre Nov 18 Bristol Colston Hall Nov 17
Ilfracombe John Fowler Holiday Park Nov 10-12 Manchester The Ritz Nov 10 Torquay Princess Theatre Nov 19 Wolverhampton Civic Hall Nov 20
KEVIN NIXON

Sheffield Leadmill Nov 11 Manchester Bridgewater Hall Nov 21 Llandudno Venue Cymru Nov 22
IN FLAMES, FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH Glasgow QMU Nov 12 Buxton Opera House Nov 22 Newcastle City Hall Nov 24
Birmingham BCA Dec 17 Birmingham Institute 2 Nov 14 St Albans Arena Nov 23 Liverpool Olympia Nov 25

112 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
TOUR DATES
RECO
MME
Glasgow SEC Armadillo Nov 27 NDS Troon Winter Storm Festival Nov 25
Perth Concert Hall Nov 28
Manchester
Belfast
Apollo
Ulster Hall
Nov 30
Dec 2
THE WHITE BUFFALO FOY VANCE
Manchester RNCM Oct 28
Sheffield City Hall Dec 6 Glasgow Saint Luke’s Oct 29, 30
London Royal Albert Hall Dec 8 Dublin Olympia Oct 31
Portsmouth Guildhall Dec 11 London Highbury Union Chapel Nov 2-4
Birmingham Symphony Hall Dec 12
VENOM INC
THE PRETTY THINGS Dublin Voodoo Lounge Nov 10
London Manette Street Borderline Dec 15 Glasgow Audio Nov 11
Leicester The Musician Dec 22 Manchester Ruby Lounge Nov 12
Bristol Fleece & Firkin Nov 13
THE PROFESSIONALS London Camden Underworld Nov 14
Wolverhampton Slade Rooms Oct 27
London Highbury Garage Oct 28 VON HERTZEN BROTHERS
Nottingham Rescue Rooms Nov 5
CHUCK PROPHET Manchester Rebellion Nov 6
London ULU Folk And Roots Festival Nov 28 Sheffield Leadmill Nov 7
Hebden Bridge Trades Club Nov 18 Newcastle Think Tank Nov 9
Edinburgh La Belle Angele Nov 19 Glasgow G2 Nov 10
Cardiff Club Ifor Bach Nov 20 Pwllheli Hard Rock Hell Nov 11
Bristol Fleece & Firkin Nov 12
PROPHETS OF RAGE Norwich Waterfront Studio Nov 14
London Kentish Town Forum Nov 13 Southampton Talking Heads Nov 15
London Highbury Garage Nov 16
QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE Pwllheli HRH Prog 6 Nov 17
London Wembley Arena Nov 18 Wolverhampton Slade Rooms Nov 18
Manchester Arena Nov 19
London O2 Arena Nov 21 W.A.S.P.
Edinburgh Usher Hall Nov 23 We’re not suggesting you head to the zoo or the plains of Hastings White Rock Pavilion Oct 12
Dublin 3 Arena Nov 24 Nottingham Rock City Oct 13
the USA. Check out Jake Smith and share in his cool music. Leeds Academy Oct 14
QUICKSAND Newcastle Academy Oct 15
Nottingham Rescue Rooms Nov 24 Glasgow ABC Oct 16
Manchester Sound Control Nov 25 See page below for dates, currently April 15-21. Belfast Limelight Oct 18
London Islington Academy Nov 26 Dublin Academy Oct 19
Cardiff Tramshed Oct 31 Dover Booking Hall Nov 21 Wolverhampton Wulfrun Hall Oct 22
CHRIS REA Manchester The Ritz Nov 1 Aldershot West End Centre Nov 24 Manchester The Ritz Oct 21
Newcastle City Hall Nov 20 Buckley Tivoli Oct 22
Gateshead The Sage Nov 22 JOANNE SHAW TAYLOR, THRESHOLD Cardiff Tramshed Oct 24
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall Nov 23 DAN PATLANSKY Pwllheli Hard Rock Hell Prog Nov 17 Bristol Academy Oct 25
Harrogate International Centre Nov 25 Gateshead The Sage Nov 7 Manchester Rebellion Nov 18 Norwich UEA Oct 26
London Hammersmith Apollo Nov 26 Cambridge Corn Exchange Nov 9 London Islington Academy Dec 10 London Kentish Town Forum Oct 27
Birmingham Symphony Hall Nov 27, 29 Manchester Bridgewater Hall Nov 10
Liverpool Philharmonic Hall Dec 1 Glasgow Royal Concert Hall Nov 12 THUNDER WEDNESDAY 13
Manchester Apollo Dec 3 Bristol Colston Hall Nov 14 Wolverhampton Civic Hall Dec 15, 16 Manchester Club Academy Oct 26
Sheffield City Hall Dec 5 London Royal Festival Hall Nov 15 Glasgow Garage Oct 27
Belfast Waterfront Dec 8 Birmingham Symphony Hall Nov 20 TOUCHSTONE London Islington Academy Oct 28
Oxford New Theatre Dec 10 Pwllheli Hard Rock Hell Prog Nov 18
Brighton Centre Dec 11 IAN SIEGAL Leicester The Musician Nov 25 WEEZER
Bournemouth BIC Dec 13 Nottingham Running Horse Dec 13 Leeds Academy Oct 23
Stourbridge Katie Fitzgerald’s Dec 14 TRAIN Manchester Apollo Oct 25
ROMEO’S DAUGHTER, HAND OF DIMES Chichester Chichester Inn Dec 15 Sheffield City Hall Oct 16 Birmingham Academy Oct 27
London Manette Street Borderline Nov 3 London Barnes Bull’s Head Dec 16 Newcastle Academy Oct 17 London Wembley Arena Oct 28
Stoke-on-Trent Eleven Nov 4 Manchester Apollo Oct 19
SIKTH Glasgow Academy Oct 20 THE WHITE BUFFALO
ULI JON ROTH, ALI CLINTON Manchester Academy 3 Dec 2 Birmingham Academy Oct 21 Manchester The Ritz Apr 15
Chester Live Rooms Dec 6 Glasgow Garage Dec 3 London Hammersmith Apollo Oct 23 Glasgow ABC Apr 16
Aberdeen Assembly Dec 8 Birmingham Institute Dec 4 Birmingham Institute Apr 17
Dundee Venue Dec 9 Bristol SWX Dec 6 TRIGGERFINGER Oxford Academy Apr 19
Glasgow The Ferry Dec 10 Brighton Concorde 2 Dec 7 Manchester Deaf Institute Oct 9 Bristol Academy Apr 20
Bilston Robin 2 Dec 11 London Camden Koko Dec 8 London Oxford Street 100 Club Oct 10 London Kentish Town Forum Apr 21
London Islington Academy Dec 12
Stoke-on-Trent Eleven Dec 13 STATUS QUO TRINITY LIVE WISHBONE ASH
Wakefield Snooty Fox Dec 15 Manchester Apollo Nov 26 STEVE ROTHERY, TOUCHSTONE, MORE Wavendon The Stables Oct 17
Oldham Whittles Dec 16 Sheffield City Hall Nov 27 London Islington Assembly Hall May 12 Dorking Dorking Halls Oct 18
Sheffield Academy Dec 17 Cardiff St David’s Hall Nov 29 London Islington Academy Oct 19
York Fibbers Dec 18 Reading Hexagon Nov 30 WALTER TROUT, SARI SCHORR Aberdare Coliseum Theatre Oct 20
Newcastle Academy Dec 19 Bournemouth BIC Dec 2 & THE ENGINE ROOM Frome Cheese & Grain Oct 21
Edinburgh Bannerman’s Dec 20 Wolverhampton Civic Hall Dec 3 Southampton The Brook Oct 9 Swindon Arts Centre Oct 22
Blackpool Waterloo Music Bar Dec 21 Glasgow Clyde Auditorium Dec 5 London Chelsea Under The Bridge Oct 10, 11 Shoreham-by-Sea Ropetackle Arts Centre Oct 24
Newcastle City Hall Dec 6 Wrexham William Aston Hall Oct 13 Southampton The Brook Oct 25
ROYAL BLOOD, AT THE DRIVE IN London Hammersmith Apollo Dec 8 Wakefield Warehouse 23 Oct 14 Wimborne Tivoli Theatre Oct 26
Cardiff Motorpoint Arena Nov 13 Preston Guildhall Oct 15 Plymouth The Hub Oct 27
Reading Rivermead Centre Nov 14 STONE SOUR, THE PRETTY RECKLESS Bilston Robin 2 Oct 17 Newmarket King Edward Hall Oct 29
Manchester Arena Nov 16 Birmingham Barclaycard Arena Nov 29 Harpenden Public Hall Oct 18 Hunstanton Princess Theatre Oct 31
Leeds First Direct Arena Nov 17 Leeds First Direct Arena Nov 30 Bristol Bierkeller Theatre Oct 20 Wirral Floral Pavilion Hall Nov 2
Birmingham Barclaycard Arena Nov 18 Brighton Centre Dec 1 Swansea Sin City Oct 21 Buckley Tivoli Nov 3
London Alexandra Palace Nov 20-22 London Brixton Academy Dec 4, 6 Pontypridd Muni Arts Centre Oct 22 Whitby Pavilion Nov 4
Glasgow The Hydro Nov 24 Cardiff Motorpoint Arena Dec 5 Salford The Lowry Nov 5
Nottingham Motorpoint Arena Nov 2 Glasgow The Hydro Dec 8 ROBIN TOWER Derby Flowerpot Nov 7
Dublin 3 Arena Nov 26 London Islington Assembly Hall Nov 29 Kendal Bootleggers Nov 9
Bournemouth BIC Nov 28 STRAY Edinburgh Jam House Nov 10
Brighton Centre Nov 29 London Manette Street Borderline Oct 20 Aberdeen Lemon Tree Nov 11
Glasgow The Ferry Nov 12
ROYAL REPUBLIC
London Camden Koko Dec 1
SUPERSUCKERS
Bristol Fleece & Firkin Oct 9
Recommended Morpeth
Stockton-on-Tees
Riverside Lodge
The ARC
Nov 14
Nov 15
Birmingham Hare & Hounds Oct 10 THE TUBES Blackpool The Layton Nov 16
ROYAL THUNDER Manchester Ruby Lounge Oct 11 Southampton Engine Rooms Nov 4 Holmfirth Picturedrome Nov 17
Manchester Deaf Institute Nov 23 London Chelsea Under The Bridge Oct 12 Bristol Fleece & Firkin Nov 5 Clitheroe The Grand Nov 18
London Tufnell Park Boston Music Room Nov 24 Leeds Brudenell Social Club Oct 15 Reading Sub 89 Nov 6
Glasgow Audio Nov 25 Newcastle Boiler Shop Nov 9 WOLFSBANE
Birmingham Mama Roux Nov 27 THE TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT Edinburgh Liquid Room Nov 10 Winchester The Railway Dec 15
Southampton Joiners Arms Nov 28 Chester Live Rooms Nov 6 Edinburgh Bannerman’s Dec 16
York The Crescent Nov 7 Birmingham Asylum Dec 17
SEETHER Hull Fruit Nov 8 London Islington Academy Dec 21
London Kentish Town Forum Oct 15 Stoke-on-Trent Sugarmill Nov 9 TYGERS OF PAN TANG Pontypool The Dragonfly Dec 22
Manchester The Ritz Oct 16 Leicester Dryden Street Social Nov 11 Manchester Rebellion Nov 9 Bolton Bar Metro Rocks Dec 23
Glasgow ABC Oct 17 Wolverhampton Newhampton Arts Centre Nov 12 Newcastle Think Tank Nov 10
Birmingham Institute Oct 18 Cardiff Club Ifor Bach Nov 14 Swansea Three Lamps Nov 18 DWEEZIL ZAPPA
Plymouth The Hub Nov 15 Stoke-on-Trent Eleven Nov 19 Gateshead The Sage Oct 8
KENNY WAYNE SHEPHERD Brighton The Haunt Nov 16 Milton Keynes Craufurd Arms Nov 20 Salford The Lowry Oct 9
Bournemouth Mr Kyps Oct 27 Colchester Arts Centre Nov 17 Bilston Robin 2 Nov 21 London Royal Festival Hall Oct 10
London Bluesfest Oct 28 Milton Keynes Craufurd Arms Nov 19 Sutton-in-Ashfield The Diamond Nov 22 Birmingham Town Hall Oct 12
GETTY

Leamington Spa Assembly Rooms Oct 30 London Manette Street Borderline Nov 20 Grimsby Yardbirds Club Nov 23 Bexhill De La Warr Pavilion Oct 13

CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 113
LIVE!
Dan Reed
London St Pancras Old Church
Having successfully battled his demons, the
late-80s nearly man is back with a damned
fine show in this most religious of settings.
Dan Reed is trying desperately not to swear. He has already
let loose with an accidental “crap”, and looked mortified
despite the mildness of the profanity. But it’s a battle he’s always
going to lose. The singer is fiddling with the acoustic guitar
hanging from his shoulders halfway through tonight’s stripped-
down solo performance when he accidentally utters “shit”. He Reed and CR’s Dave
looks upwards and tries not to laugh. “Oh man, it’s the Catholic Everley engage in some
in me,” he says. backroom banter.
At most venues, this would barely even register on the
obscenity scale. But St Pancras Old Church isn’t some vast
corporate hanger or sticky-floored sweat-pit. This tiny building
is a working house of God, and here “shit” – never mind “bollocks”,
“fuck” or “soapy tit wank” – feels like blasphemy in the ears of even
the most Godless heathen.
It isn’t Reed’s first time playing in a church. He’s previously
appeared at the Union Chapel a few miles up the road. Neither is he
here for religious reasons – the singer’s personal spiritual map takes in
several different paths, including Buddhism and Judaism.
“Churches were designed with acoustics in mind, so the priest could
be heard without any amplification,” he says. “It’s nice that these places
that were so revered and sacred back in the day are shifting their
energies to art.”
We’re sitting in the church’s side room, a study-come-library filled
with ecclesiastical paraphernalia and the faintly musty smell associated
with most places of Christian worship. Reed is friendly and attentive. It’s only the sound-
The tumbling hair that was his signature when he first started check, Dan. There
out is long gone, and he’s sporting a baggy grey sweatshirt, but will be people later…
he still has a rock-star aura.
When he was 14, Reed wanted to be a priest. He was raised
a Catholic by his adoptive parents on a farm in South Dakota. As
a youngster he served as an altar boy, played the church organ
and read scriptures. And then he heard Van Halen’s first album.
“That kind of changed my thought process,” he says with
a laugh. “I discovered rock’n’roll and stopped going to church.
I gave up on religion for a long time.”
Nearly 40 years on Reed has returned to the bosom of the
church, physically if not spiritually. Perched on a green verge
between Camden Town’s cramped red brick flats and skeletal
gas tanks and the gleaming modern rail terminus at St Pancras,
the venue belongs to a different age. There’s evidence that
worship has taken place here since at least the seventh century,
if not longer.
Tonight, 150 or so people will cram inside this tiny church to
pay a different kind of devotion to a man whose own journey
has been studded with its share of trauma. In the late 80s, Reed
was tipped to become rock’n’roll’s next big star. His band, the
Dan Reed Network, were pitched as Bon Jovi meets Prince –
stadium-ready funk-rock anthems with an undercurrent that
was one part soul, one part sex. Except it never happened for
the Network, and Reed disappeared from the public eye into his
own personal hell.
By the mid-90s he had embarked on a career as a nightclub owner
in Portland, Oregon. Music took a back seat as he focused on his new
vocation. Drugs were part and parcel of the job – he moved from spliff
and ecstasy to liquid acid, crystal meth and cocaine. When the septum
part of his nose gave out he graduated to smoking crack. It took the
death of his father in 2003 to bring him back to reality.
“It seems like a dream now, like some kind of film that I watched as
opposed to me relating to it directly,” he says. “But I know he’s always
there, lurking. I’m not afraid of that person. I don’t think that he will
come back again. Especially with my son in this world.”
These days, Reed lives in Prague with his partner, Katka, and

114 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
‘In this sett
ing Reed’s
REVIEWS
voice, allow
ed to shine
sounds ste ,
llar.’ Reed greets his
congregation.

CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 115
LIVE! ‘Indestruct
Champion
ible and
crackle wit
hope and o h
ptimism.’

The ravages of time – and


crack – have thankfully left
Reed’s voice untouched.

that moment that I realised I should helped me when I was an addict,” he says. “And I was
never have turned my back on music.” thinking about the Tibetan monks who took me into
He slowed clawed back his career, the monastery as well, when I was trying to get over
first as a solo artist and then with my guilt at being an addict. I felt like my soul was dirty
the reactivated Dan Reed Network. and I didn’t belong there, but they welcomed me.”
Salvation is a theme of his latest

T
album, Confessions (an apt title, given he latest stop-off on Reed’s 15-year road to
our surroundings). Stripped-back, salvation has brought him to this tiny church.
low-key and played mostly by Reed Fittingly, tonight’s show is a small-scale one.
himself, it’s unashamedly an album The church nave holds around 150 people, half of
about love, an old-fashioned concept them seated (chairs not pews, sadly). Reed supported
in 2017. Not that Reed cares. the Stones and Bowie back in the day, but he says a
“I’ve always tried to walk the line gig of this size makes him way more nervous. “It’s just
between trying to say something so intimate,” he says. “Every note you play, every lyric
political or socially conscious and you sing, the intention has to be so honest and pure if
their son, although he’s taken the long way round to writing love songs,” he says. “Rather than bitch you want to effect emotion.”
get there. After his father’s death, he decided to clean and moan about stuff that was going on yet again, Still, it isn’t like he hasn’t played shows this
up and travel to India. There, he found himself living I thought I’d write something that was a sanctuary, up-close-and-personal before. Reed was invited to
in monastery in Dharamsala with a group of Tibetan an escape from that stuff. play a series of fundraising
Buddhist monks (he had first visited the monastery This is the first album shows for Barack Obama
a decade earlier to interview the Dalai Lama for Spin where I went: ‘Every song when he ran for President
magazine). “They put me to work cleaning dishes is going to be about my
“I would tell the 1987 for the second time in
and picking vegetables,” he recalls. “We started relationship to romance, me to relax, it’s all going 2012. Someone involved
doing meditations, and I’d go off and meet families whether that’s the pain in the campaign had heard
that had just had children or lost love ones, doing that’s been caused in my to be okay in the end.” his most recent album
meditations for them.” life and that I’ve caused to Coming Up For Air and
Dan Reed
Ironically, it was in the monastery that he others, or the joy.’” figured his message of
rediscovered his love of music. One of the monks On the album, Reed doesn’t shy away from his optimism chimed with what Obama was saying.
asked Reed to teach him the lyrics to Queen’s We Will mistakes, addressing the demons he once battled. “You’d play for twenty rich people who wanted to
Rock You. “He didn’t know what the song was called, Some of the songs are clearly about his current throw down two grand or five grand for election. I’d
he just knew the rhyhtm – the du-du-DUH,” he says. partner, but others hark back to past lovers. Day play for half an hour, unplugged and no PA. You’d get
“It’s very much like a Tibetan prayer rhythm.” Reed One (‘You took care of me when I was broken’) was feedback: ‘That was really lovely, you really touched
bought a cheap guitar from a nearby town. “It was at written with an ex-girlfriend named Jen in mind. “She my heart.’ Or you’d have grown men crying.”

116 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
St Pancras Old Church is
a wonderful setting in
which to play live music.

Reed tries hard not to swear


in a house of God, but can
smile at the odd slip.

a cover of James Taylor’s Fire And a nostalgia trip – post-redemption solo and Dan Reed
Rain. “I’ve never had the courage Network numbers Indestructible and Champion crackle
to sing this, cos it’s a finger-picking with hope and optimism, even in their starkest form.
song. I’m going to try and get over the In this setting, Reed’s voice sounds stellar. Back in
terror and play it for you.” the late 80s and early 90s, it was half-buried amid
The show is essentially in two the Network’s supple, elastic funk-rock, but here’s it’s
parts. For the first third, Reed sticks allowed to shine. The ravages of time – and crack –
to something approaching a set-list, have thankfully left it untouched. Vaulting but never
mixing solo songs with the odd cover, showy, it bounces from the wall to the ceiling even
Reed enjoyed the intimacy of these shows. He notably a lovely, lilting take on Elvis’s Can’t Help Falling when he pulls away from the microphone.
decided he should do more of them, and not just for In Love (“The first song I learned to play as a kid”). Not everything is perfect. Whatever Dreams May
political reasons. Over the past few years, he has But for the rest of the night he throws the set-list Come, inspired by the death of comedian Robin
played birthdays, wedding celebrations, even a couple to the wind and takes requests from the audience. Williams and named after one of his films, is the
of funerals. “For me to go and play someone’s home, Predictably, there are plenty of shouts for songs by his wrong side of mawkish. The same goes for Jerusalem
it’s an honour,” he says. old band. Stronger Than Steel and Lover, Don’t Betray Sky, with its we’re-all-children-of-the-same God
How much would it cost for you to come and play Me strip back the studio gloss, showcasing the pristine message (Reed studied Judaism in that city in
my front room? songwriting at the heart of them. But it’s not just the 00s). But the sheer honesty and utter lack of
“A thousand pounds,” he says, without cynicism with which both are delivered are
hesitation. “If people charge twenty pounds impossible to fault.
to come, and there are forty or fifty other He ends with Tiger In A Dress, the
people there, they make most of their money Network’s 1989 hit-single-that-never-was
back. I cover my flights to get there. I know and a song that is far too salacious for these
people that are in bigger bands who charge surroundings. “It definitely wasn’t designed
more, but it’s more than enough for me. to be played in a church,” he says.
I used to do construction work for a hundred Blasphemy be damned – if nothing else,
and fifty bucks a day, hauling sheetrock and it’s a reminder of the potential he once had
risking sawing your fingers off with power and, in a weird way, still has. But which Dan
tools. I’m always grateful.” Reed does he prefer: the thrusting young
Tonight’s show has the same feeling as buck of 1987 with the world at his feet, or the
a living room gig, albeit in slightly holier older, wiser, more spiritual version of today?
surroundings. But there’s one difference: “Oh, definitely this one,” he said before
a pair of video cameras are perched at either the show. “That one was so obsessed with
side of the stage, here to film the show. The trying to make it off the farm, to be Eddie
reasoning is, quite rightly, that fans would Van Halen or David Lee Roth. I just wanted
want their memories of the night preserved to make it. I didn’t care about sex or drugs or
(a DVD download is included in the £20 money, I just wanted to be accepted by the
ticket costs). world. After everything I put myself through,
Reed has certainly made a sartorial effort, I can see how hollow that was. If I met that
swapping the grey sweatshirt for a smart guy, I’d tell him to relax, it’s all going to be
shirt, though the nerves remain. “I’m trying okay in the end.”
a few different things tonight,” he says,
before launching into the opening track, Words: Dave Everley Photos: Alison Clarke

CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 117
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS WITH: MAGMA, RADIOHEAD, BRAND X, SONS OF APOLLO + MORE…

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New issue on sale Oct 12!


‘A stompin
g wall-of-
REVIEWS
sound six-p
iece with
driving dy
namics.’
The Psychedelic Furs
London Kentish Town O2 Forum
The ever-underrated art-rockers play
all the hits and more.
Psychedelic Furs frontman Richard Butler doesn’t
say much when he’s onstage, but that’s fine. He
plays the charismatic rock star with aplomb: pacing,
crouching, theatrically acting out every line with fluid
arms, hitting those crucifixion poses to perfection.
Insanely fit for a 61-year-old, his unique, rolling rasp of
a voice seems at first irrationally high in the mix. Then
it becomes clear that everyone at this sold-out The
Singles Tour show is bellowing along to his cryptic
couplets, so it makes sense.
Forty years ago the Furs’ witty, poetic onslaughts
emerged from punk and then sidled into New Wave
with a Bowie-esque knack for gorgeous/gritty hits.
Success in America and the co-opting of their song
Pretty In Pink disrupted them, and a 90s hiatus ensued.
Now re-established as a killer touring band, they’re
a stomping wall-of-sound six-piece with driving
dynamics, Richard’s brother Tim still on bass, and
a twist of saxophone mania from Mars Williams. So in
random order we get early snarls such as We Love You,
their evolution through Dumb Waiters and Mr Jones into
measured, haunting reveries like The Ghost In You and Love
My Way, and semi-dance bangers like Heartbreak Beat.
There’s the ideal mix of nostalgia and energy in the air
and their first London gig in five years goes supernova
with a titanic, topical encore of Sister Europe, President Richard Butler: playing
Gas and India. Heaven. the charismatic rock
star with aplomb.
Chris Roberts

Voodoo Six Junkyard, Spread Eagle, The Babe Rainbow


London The Underworld Shark Island London The Moth Club
The Kings are now more majestic London Camden Underworld The ironic hipster boogie: seems so
than ever. What kept everybody? wrong, feels so right.
They’ve been here before, of course. Voodoo Some 28 years after their major-label debut From Australia’s hippie idyll Byron Bay via the
Six have packed this venue and seemingly Law Of The Order was released, Shark Island same people who bought you King Gizzard
been on the verge of big things, yet each time – well, frontman Richard Black and hired hands – & The Lizard Wizard, The Babe Rainbow are an
previously, they’ve contrived to blow it. This could finally arrive in the UK. It’s appropriate that they enticing prospect. Ridiculously good looking (singer
be their last chance to achieve something special, begin with Make A Move as Black, who claims that Angus Darling has the boyish charm of a young Kurt
and what Voodoo Six do tonight suggests they’ll Axl Rose ripped off all of his stage mannerisms, Cobain, while guitarist Jack ‘Cool-Breeze’ Crowther
grab this opportunity and make it work. still sashays, twirls like a spinning top and works looks like a man Cecil B. DeMille would cast as God),
Whereas in the past, bassist Tony Newton has every inch of stage. The music sounds great too. they’re in town to promote their debut album, and
appeared to be the band’s focal point onstage, now Tonight also marks the first time that Spread they’re not playing by the rules.
the combination of guitarist Matt Pearce and vocalist Eagle, featuring current UFO man Rob De Luca on Starting with a new song, in near darkness, it’s
Nik Taylor-Stoakes is very much the fulcrum of it all. bass, have performed outside their United States quickly apparent they don’t have to: the venue is sold
The former is a virtuoso who is clearly a team player, homeland. Back On The Bitch, Switchblade Serenade out, everyone seems to know every word, and the
while the latter’s a singer who has an Eddie Vedder and Suzy Suicide are embellished by flashy stun- audience groove and jive and shimmy in a way that
edge with the power of Ricky Warwick. guitar runs, reminding us why the New Yorkers are hasn’t been seen in the wild since the late 1960s.
All this means there’s a renewed vitality about regarded as slightly glammy, hard rockin’ cult heroes. The shuffling Peace Blossom Boogy is a highlight.
the five. The show is an album launch celebration, Back in the UK after more than a quarter of The stunningly funky Monkey Disco is another. Hell,
so inevitably they showcase a significant chunk a century since their last visit, Junkyard have hardly they’re all highlights. It’s like Canned Heat playing
of Make Way For The King, and nobody complains. changed, save for the absence of co-founding Abbey Road-era Beatles, via an excursion to Studio
These songs have a contemporary groove, yet also guitarist Brian Baker who now plays with Bad 54 at the height of disco. There’s crowd surfing,
a timeless sense of tune. And the band are clearly Religion. Each member sports a denim cut-off held and a lazy swing through Blondie’s Heart Of Glass,
in the mood to give these tracks their full attention, together by patches, spit and sheer optimism. and it all feels like it could collapse at any minute,
while not forgetting about past glories. This makes The music is a formulaic mix of southern rock, but it doesn’t.
the performance nicely balanced. punk and rockin’ boogie. Had the members of the There’s no doubt that there’s a hipster element
“We can play all night,” exclaims Taylor-Stoakes. Quo met in a truckstop in Tennessee they might to the band’s audience. But if we’re going to start
Sadly, he’s thwarted by a dreaded curfew. However, have sounded something like this, but Junkyard can dismissing musicians because some of their
Voodoo Six pack their 80 minutes in the limelight still tear it up like few others, a finale of Girlschool’s followers serve lattes or develop mobile apps,
with an exciting sense of destiny. Emergency hitting the right note. then we’re doomed. The Babe Rainbow are brilliant.
GETTY

Malcolm Dome Dave Ling Fraser Lewry

CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM 119
Heavy Load Heavy questions for heavy rockers

Ricky Warwick on the bands he’s been in, getting drunk


for the first time, life, death and uncomfortable clogs.
Interview: Michael Hann

R
icky Warwick has spent 30 years at rock’s coal face, as I’d made into it, and I was thinking maybe I shouldn’t be doing this any more.
frontman, sideman, solo artist and hired hand. He’s After that I don’t think I touched my guitar for a year, and I seriously questioned
been a punk with New Model Army, a rocker with The whether I wanted to carry on making music. It was a really shitty time.
Almighty and the designated filler of some very big
shoes as the man who stepped up to front the post-Phil Did The Almighty fulfil their potential?
Lynott Thin Lizzy. That Lizzy reunion evolved into Black That’s a really good question. We definitely reached a peak around ninety-
Star Riders, who tour the UK in November. Warwick four/ninety-five, and then I think we weren’t getting along and that was the
spoke to Classic Rock at his home in Los Angeles. main problem, more than the music. In hindsight, maybe we should have
taken a break for a year and a half instead
What were you like at school? of splitting up. But I don’t have any regrets.
There were two stages. When I was at
school at Northern Ireland I was pretty And then into Thin Lizzy. Standing in
quiet and withdrawn. Then when I turned for Phil Lynott must have been difficult.
fourteen or fifteen I started getting a bit I knew how hard it was going to be, and how
more rambunctious. And then we moved certain people would feel about it. But I felt
to Scotland and it all went downhill from I could do Phil, Thin Lizzy and the legacy
there – starting fights, getting into fights, justice. At no point was I stupid enough to
messing around. A lot of underage drinking. think I could stand in those shoes, all I can
do is stand beside them and try my best,
Can you remember the first time you without trying to be a clone of Phil.
drank yourself sick?
Absolutely. It was an under-eighteens disco, Do you believe in God?
and we’d snuck in a litre bottle of vodka I would call myself a humanist – I believe
mixed with Coke. I remember the hall in a higher power, but I think it’s Mother
starting to spin wildly. Next thing I knew Nature or karma.
I was on my hands and knees and there
was vomit flying everywhere. What’s your biggest regret?
I don’t have too many. I would have loved
When you played guitar in New Model to have spent more time with my father
Army did they make you wear clogs? before he passed away.
[Laughs] They didn’t make me wear them,
but I wanted to. I wanted to fit in. I was And your biggest waste of money?
so in awe of the whole New Model Army I just bought a new car. It might be that.
thing – the band and the following. I was so A Ford Mustang. The family’s getting older
thrilled to be a part of that. But clogs were now, so I’ve indulged myself. I’m not a very
uncomfortable, so I didn’t wear them that materialistic person.
much and went back to the motorcycle boots.
A rock singer and a Mustang. What are
When did you first realise you could your insurance premiums like?
be a frontman? It’s okay in the USA for an old rock musician
Seeing Stiff Little Fingers in 1980 was the
defining moment. I went to see them in
“Seeing Stiff Little and a Mustang. I’ve been driving for thirty-
three years and my licence is clean, so it’s not
Belfast and it literally changed my life.
I walked out of the concert going: “That’s
Fingers in 1980 literally that bad!

it. Forget about the football. Forget about


schoolwork. I need to be up on that stage.” changed my life.” When death eventually comes, how
would you like to go?
Quickly, in my sleep, and at a good old age.
In the late nineties you had a fraught time with The Almighty: in and My father went out in the perfect way. He was eighty-four. He had a heart attack
out and in and out. Did those experiences make you question whether and died in my mother’s arms, the woman he’d been with for sixty-five years.
you should be in a band? He just went. If you’re gonna go, that’s right up there – in peace and with as little
They absolutely did. When The Almighty split in 1996 I jumped straight into fuss as possible.
a three-piece. And we were doing really well. We went to Japan, recorded
RICHARD STOW/PRESS

a record, we were getting great reviews, a lot of interest from labels. I don’t want What words will be engraved on your tombstone?
to cry ‘poor me’, but we had one label pull out the night before we were about to “Here lies Ricky Warwick. Cum On Feel The Noize.”
sign a big deal. I was starting to get very disillusioned with the whole business.
When that ended I was in Dublin, going through a divorce. I’d put all the money Black Star Riders’ U K tour runs from November 8 to 19.

130 CLASSICROCKMAGAZINE.COM
9000
9001