Tag Archives: punk

CHALK OUTLINES: Chalk Outlines (Self Released 2017)

chalk outlinesTucked away on the western fringes of the UK, hide the best ska band you have never heard. The Chalk Outlines. This is their long awaited first EP.

This sixteen legged outfit of seasoned performers from Cardigan in West Wales casually play upbeat twenty first century ska, occasionally poking it with rusty punk nails and prodding it with a dubby taser, but always leaving the true spirit of ska alive and well. Continue reading CHALK OUTLINES: Chalk Outlines (Self Released 2017)

OLD ROSE: Forty years of rejecting the past

new roseToday marks the 40th anniversary of the release of New Rose by the Damned, widely regarded as the first ever punk single. Yes, forty years of a brand new music that changed the world for ever.

This raises several issues.

Firstly, was it the first ever punk rock single? Well, it depends on your definition of punk rock. Many would argue that punk rock was born the other side of the pond, with bands like The Stooges, the New York Dolls and the Ramones. Even if you stick to this side of the pond, The Hollywood Brats, The Hammersmith Gorillas and The Pink Fairies, all arguably punk rock, beat the Damned on to vinyl by several years. Even over in Australia, a continent oft forgotten about when early punk is discussed, the Saints released (I’m) Stranded, an indisputably punk rock record, in September of 1976.

The difference with New Rose though, was that it was the first single from a band that were part of the new scene that had developed with the recognisable identity of what we call today Punk Rock. The Pink Fairies were scruffy hippies and the New York Dolls were – well, they were garage. Continue reading OLD ROSE: Forty years of rejecting the past

TJS THE MOVIE: Be part of history – send the film makers your story

John Peel with TJS owner John Sicolo
John Peel with TJS owner John Sicolo

For twenty five years, from 1985 to 2010, South Wales had a music venue that was quite literally known around the world. Newport’s TJs. Local lad Nathan Jennings is now in the process of putting together a film documenting the history of this slice of rock and roll history.

Nathan is currently on the hunt for videos, photographs and stories of the venue. If you have anything to contribute, visit his new website for the project.

It is fair to say, TJs was a bit of a toilet. But that was part of its charm. It seemed to mutate almost every time you went there. It expanded and shrunk, the stage kept moving around the venue and the toilets were like an open cesspit. It had started out with the walls covered in some strange wire and concrete concoction to make it look like you were in a cave. As modification were made bits of the cave were removed but they seemed determined to leave bits of it on the wall. On one occasion I recall watching Citizen Fish whilst there was a huge wheelie bin in the middle of the dancefloor to catch the water that was leaking from upstairs. Whether or not it was rain water or a burst pipe I never got to find out.

But despite the venue being a shithole, it did have a few magic ingredients:

1. John Sicolo: the owner. An ex merchant navy cook who was larger than life and made the place open house to anyone who wanted to put on a gig. Whilst he was no musician, without his generosity and faith in the young guns of Newport, the South Wales and even the UK music scene would look very different today.

2. Bands and promoters: Looking back it is hard to believe now, but the likes of Green Day, Oasis, Fugazi, Offspring, Joe Strummer, The Manic Street Preachers and Primal Scream were regularly turning up in this tiny little club in one of the most unfashionable towns in the country. On top of that local bands such as 60 Foot Dolls, Dub War and Novocaine (to name but three) all cut their teeth there. At one point I the 90s the venue was often jammed with record company A&R men looking to sign the next big thing.

Key to all this were the promoters. Whilst Peppermint Iguana put on a few gigs with the likes of New Model Army, Tofu Love Frogs and PAIN, a very special mention has to go to Cheap Sweaty Fun, the boys that turned TJS from a local live venue to an internationally renowned venue that was an essential stop off for any band on their way to the top.

3. The people of Newport: The Port has always been the poor relation to neighbouring Cardiff. But in some ways, that is what has made Newport what it is – staunchly working class, tough, uncompromising and unpretentious. If a Newport crowd took to a band they would be passionate and enthusiastic, making a TJs moshpit a place few cage fighters would dare to step.

If you have any stories from TJs, why not get in touch with the makers of the film and share your experiences of this unique piece of rock and roll history.

To listen to an interview with Simon Phillips, the man behind Rockaway Records and Cheap Sweaty Fun promotions, listen to our cloud cast from the Peppermint Iguana Radio Show

DAMIDGE: Limitation

DAMIDGE: Limitation (Self released 2016)

Damidge Limitation
Damidge Limitation

This four track EP is the missing link between the UK festival scene and the New York CBGBs scene of the early 1970s.

High energy grungy punk with chunky rhythms and guitar solos long enough to keep us closet rockers happy, but short enough to keep the three chord punk purists happy. Al Damidge’s vocals strut across the EP with a nonchalant swagger and if a voice could wear clothes, his would wear leather trousers and carry a flick knife. Continue reading DAMIDGE: Limitation

THE STRANGLERS: Black and White tour – Cardiff University 18/03/16

Jean Jaques Burnell, The Stranglers original bassist, still got it!
Jean Jaques Burnell, The Stranglers original bassist, still got it!

‘What an old codger I am’. No, not a statement of fact, but the B-Side to the Stranglers’ ‘Nice and Sleazy’ single, which was taken from the ‘Black and White’ album. It was just about the only song from that period they did not play tonight, as the Black and White tour stopped off in Cardiff University Students Union.

Steanglers 1978 album Black and White
Steanglers 1978 album Black and White

The ‘Black and White’ album, released in 1978, was the first album a teenage me went out and bought the week it was released. It came with a limited edition free single with the Stranglers performing Dion Warwick’s ‘Walk on by.

The Stranglers were also the first band I ever went to see live, in the old Top Rank in Cardiff. The Top Rank is long gone, but the Stranglers are alive and well and still gigging, all be it with a modified line up. Continue reading THE STRANGLERS: Black and White tour – Cardiff University 18/03/16

CHEAP SWEATY SIMON ROCKAWAY – Iguana Radio Special – listen again

Nice work if you can get it – Simon Philips on duty at his record fair

Want to know the truth about that legendary Kurt Cobain proposal to Courtney Love in TJs? Want to know some of the secrets of John Peel’s record collection? Want to hear about Green Day being lower on the bill than the lucky dip? Well this is made for you.

On 23rd February we had the pleasure of being joined in the studio by Mr Cheap Sweaty Simon Rockaway Phillips. Pusher of records to vinyl junkies, gig promoter and all round eminence grease.

Simon started out with Rockaway Records, a small record stall in Newport Provisions Market, and ended up organising record fairs the length and breadth of the UK. Along the way he casually put Newport on the map and played a major role in making Newport’s TJs Legendary throughout the world.

With no ambitions other than to get some of his favourite bands to play his home town, with a cheap ticket price, he played host to names that went on to take the world by storm, from local boys Dub War and Sixty Foot Dolls, to the likes of Therapy? Bad Brains, Green Day, the Butthole Surfers, The Misfits and The Melvins.

Listen again to the show and hear tales of incidents with Kurt Cobain, John Peel and several tons of shredded paper

PLAY LIST
1. In a rut: BY THE RUTS
2. Trail and crosses: BY LEE SCRATCH PERRY
3. Fix: BY NOTS
4. Bastard son of a teddy boy: BY BAD SAM
5. Capitol radio: BY THE CLASH
6. Mountain of soul: BY TOMMY PAXTON
7. In cold blood: BY MECCA AND CODE
8. Transmetro politan: BY THE POGUES
9. Strictly hardcore: BY GOLDBLADE
10. Walk with me: BY ROGER ROBINSON
11. Hey Joe: BY LEAVES
12. Mr jolly fucker: BY THE SLEAFORD MODS
13. Babylon gorgon: BY BAGS
14. Democracy: BY THE DAMNED
15. Autographs: BY CITIZEN FISH
16. Accountability starts with me: BY GIT SOME
17. Sweet loaf: BY THE BUTTHOLE SURFERS

First broadcast on community radio station www.dapperfm.co.uk

Show sponsored by Rhondda Cynon Taff UNISON, the union for public sector groovers

Watch out for forthcoming film about TJs from film maker Nathan Jennings

Ginger John with two of his musical heroes
Ginger John with two of his musical heroes

THE SICK LIVERS: MID LIVER CRISIS

SICK LIVERS: Mid Liver Crisis (Glunk Records + Baldy Longhair Records 2015)

sick livers

Ever since Chuck Berry first picked up his guitar the term rock ‘n roll has been evolving. It is now used to describe anything from a Motorhead gig, through the act of throwing a TV out of the window to cookery. The Sick Livers, however, are as close as you will get in the 21st Century to the true meaning of rock ‘n roll without donning beetle crushers and a drape jacket.

They kick off with a song about fashion – and giving a nod to the film Full Metal Jacket (This is my Denim), then rattle through songs about girls (You Make Me Wet), songs about drinking (One Man Stag Do) and sometimes about girls and drinking (I Wanna be a Jager Girl). Continue reading THE SICK LIVERS: MID LIVER CRISIS

THE SPORADICS: Fight Truth Decay

THE SPORADICS: Fight Truth Decay (Pumpkin Records 2015)

sporadicsLaying their cards on the table with the opening track, ‘Festival # 23’, The Sporadics make sure you know they are most at home in a muddy field with a crate of cider, surrounded by mates, falling over fires and turning sleeping comrades into human Buckaroos.

But this, their second album, is anything but crusty brew crew shouty nonsense. They knock out some of the finest ska-punk-dub you will find on any stage anywhere.  The rhythm section produce dubtastic bass lines and driving, pounding drum beats. Layered over the top we have guitar that floats between sharp skanking chops and hard melodic riffs.

If that were not enough, the vocals have a clarity few punk bands even attempt, let alone achieve.  The lyrics tackle issues few bands could take on without resorting to sloganeering or just sounding pompous. No pomposity here though, as singer Shaun has a knack for taking a serious subject and turning it into poetry, but still managing to keep it danceable.

The now sadly defunct independent news media outlet ‘Schnews’ gets a song named after it to make sure we do not forget it – as if we could. The famous strap line “If you’re not pissed off, you’re not paying attention”, says it all, but the point is slammed home with lines like:  “The currency they pedal here, propaganda, lies and fear. It’s been the same from year to year, now here’s the latest news, question everything they do, turn your TV off today”.

‘VAT’ (Value Added Terror) talks of the big brother tactic of making you fear your neighbours, ‘Broken Britain’ references the dumping of working people on the scrap heap and ‘Conflict’ reminds us that the capitalist system thrives on war and – erm – conflict.

‘Itchy Dub’, as the name suggests, drops the pace a little and gets dubby. It talks of broken democracy and profit making from the services we rely on, but hints that the time of reckoning might not be far away. “You disregard and disrespect the people of this land, what goes around will surely come around, you try to take our dignity and kick us to the floor, then wonder why we burn your buildings down”.

‘Used to be a punk’, challenges the idea that you can be an ex-punk. With punk being an attitude, either you have got the attitude or you don’t. If you don’t, you were just a fashion victim who didn’t really get it anyway.

‘Debt Crisis’ is about what it says on the tin, whilst ‘National Lies’ talks of the scapegoating of Johnny foreigner that so often is used by the right during an economic downturn. “Our children don’t see colour, they just want to play with each other, hate is something learned, its time the tide was turned.” As the lyrics to ‘lies’ unfold we get some of the heaviest guitaring on the album mixing with some of the dubbiest moments, perhaps giving us the perfect introduction to the band for the uninitiated.

We return to the subject of reclaiming our country with ‘Tear down the law’, just before slowing down slightly and suggesting the positivity of ‘Love’ and hope may be the answer in the long run.

Winding up the album we have ‘Poem for the fallen’, a tribute to Crispin Baker, festival legend, who was taken from us earlier this year. It is basically a poem with minimal acoustic guitar and the sound of a crackling fire in the back ground.

And then it’s gone. Twelve tracks is not enough, you want more. But then again, if this were a triple album, you would still want more. At least you have the beautiful packaging and lyric booklet treasure and return to time and again while we wait for the third album (you can have minutes of endless fun looking for the deliberate spelling mistake).

Clearly the band have been influenced by a few notable big players on the ‘anarcho-ska-punk-dub’ scene, but it would be churlish to reference them here, cos these guys are no imitators. As Picasso once said, “good artists copy, great artists steal”, and these thieving bastards have stolen the crown jewels, melted them into something of their own and can stand proudly on stage next to the best of them.