Afterburning love: Darrell Bath’s Sabre Jet – album review and live at the LA2, London, 13 August 2000

Same Old Brand New by Sabre JetWhen I have a spare year or two (cough), I’m going to write the secret history of 1990s rock ‘n’ roll, giving credit to those musicians who, despite playing in some cracking bands, have never got their critical dues. Darrell Bath’s going to have his own chapter. Over the past 10 years, this guy has been a part of so many of my favourite records and bands, turning up in places that have both delighted and surprised me, that I stopped worrying about him disappearing into the ‘where’s he gone?’ file a long time ago.

While I was waiting for a new Crybabys record, he turned up in the Dogs D’Amour, injecting fresh energy into the band’s performance and helping them get back on track after the burnout of the Straight tour (from which Tyla still bears the physical scars). When the Dogs split, he bounced back by joining Ian Hunter’s band, lending his distinctive style to two superb albums, and slowly but surely becoming Keef to the ex-Mott man’s Mick. And then there was the unannounced, but very welcome, return of the Crybabys.

Read more

Viva LA(2) rock! Dan Baird live at the LA2, London, 13 August 2000

Ken McMahan and Dan Baird live at the LA2, London, 13 August 2000I’m afraid I’ve not got time to write this one up properly as I’m in the middle of moving house at the mo’ (anyone wanna buy a load of old clutter that I’ve just found under my bed?), but seeing as it was one of the best darned live shows I’ve seen in ages, I wanted to get these pics out to y’all and at least say a few words about this momentous event.

I mean, Dan Baird just played London for the first time in seven years! I’d still be rubbing my eyes in disbelief if my ears hadn’t convinced me that it really was him.

Okay, let’s get the technical details out of the way first. With Dan on vocals and guitar (natch), Ken McMahan on guitar, Kyle Miller on bass and Nick Forchione on drums, the band tore up a complete storm for almost two hours, though it felt more like one. Ken was a particular revelation for me, having never seen the guy play before. His scorchin’ lead breaks and super-slinky slide did Dan’s material proud. In a word: he rocked.

Okay, so that was two, but he deserves it.

Read more

Pieces of silver: In the studio with Ginger Wildheart, 26 November 1999

Black Leather Mojo by Silver Ginger 5Ginger strikes a match.

“Stop doggin’ meeeeeee…”

The final note of his vocal goes on forever. Babies are conceived, born and reach school age; governments rise and fall; continents drift. And… relax.

Ginger lights a cigarette with what’s left of the match.

“Aw, he’s too cool, isn’t he?” says a smiling Roger Tebbutt, the engineer for the SilverGinger sessions. I can see his point.

The lights in the recording area are dimmed (for atmosphere, I presume). Ginger is standing alone in front of a microphone. He’s been there for about an hour now, “doing the bastards” as he puts it – recording high harmony vocal lines for a song called Doggin’, a bonus track for the Japanese version of the album and a possible single B-side. It’s not a task that he’s been particularly looking forward to, hence the decision to hold it back until the rest of the album’s vocals had been completed.

“Never again,” he jokes between takes. “It’s a blues album, the next one.”

Read more

Kashmir sweaters: Tyla and Dregen live at the Kashmir Klub, London, 29 May 1999

Tyla and Dregen live at the Kashmir Klub, London, 29 May 1999“Do you really know, do you really see, do you really give a fuck what’s happening here?”

Chance would be a fine thing for the 100 or so people who don’t have anything approaching a front row view of tonight’s proceedings. I’m thankful almost to the point of disbelief that I do have such a view, though I start to panic when a seven-foot tall guy (no kiddin’) dressed all in leather pushes his way past my left shoulder. Luckily, he’s heading for an empty, recently vacated seat (the girl who was previously sitting there having decided to move to a spot where she could get a more photogenic view of Dregen) and I breathe an audible sigh of relief. But yeah, the Kashmir Klub could certainly do with a stage – though, with a ceiling this low, it’s really not possible.

Read more

Whatever happened to the teenage dream? In defence of Velvet Goldmine

Velvet Goldmine DVD sleeveVelvet Goldmine, Todd Haynes’ new film set in the early 1970s’ UK glam-rock scene, seems to have polarised opinion amongst rock and movie hacks like no other film in recent memory. The reviews have either been glowing like the brightest star in the galaxy or reeking of musty old second-hand record shops. Oddly, the most scathing reviews have come from the music press, or are at least – as in the case of one popular film mag’s review – written by part-time music journalists.

Having finally seen the film myself and fallen in love with almost everything about it – the performances, the story, the music, the look – the music press’s failure to get to grips with the movie worries me slightly. Well, it worries me a lot actually – enough for me to have spent the last week seriously mulling over the relationship between fans and press. There’s a delicious irony in the music press slagging off Velvet Goldmine – an irony that I’m sure isn’t lost on Haynes, its author and director. But we’ll come to that a bit later. To begin with, I’d like to tell you why Velvet Goldmine is one of the best rock ‘n’ roll movies I’ve ever seen.

Read more

Bouncing back: A chat with Danny McCormack and Neil Phillips of The Yo-Yo’s, 24 September 1998

Danny McCormack and Neil Phillips of The Yo-Yo's, live at the Garage, London, 24 September 1998“Sorry, but you can’t take your drinks outside.”

“Okay, fine, we’ll go back in.”

Danny McCormack – attempting to lead me, Tara and Yo-Yo’s guitarist Neil Phillips past the Garage’s front-door security to the pub for an interview sesh – turns on a sixpence and marches back inside… straight through the backstage door and out the rear exit, drink still in hand. Something about the unruffled, unthinking way in which he performs the manoeuvre tells me he’s done this 1,000 times in 100 venues. I’m impressed and amused.

Just five minutes before, the Garage’s overzealous security had asked me and Tara to leave. When we told them we had permission to be there, they moved on to hassle Danny’s brother, Chris. It seemed to be a case of shoot first and ask questions later. Probably a London thing.

Read more

Dallas wow boys: Swank Deluxe live at the Mean Fiddler, London, 24 March 1998

Tommy Hale surveys the situation from the bar: “I think this is amateur band night or somethin’.”

It certainly looks like it. The band currently doing their thing on stage are somewhat less than inspiring. The crowd seem more suited to a karaoke night in a wine bar. Rock ‘n’ Roll Central this is not.

“The King’s Head was the same kind of thing,” says the Swank Deluxe frontman, leaning in towards me to make himself heard above the sub-Jamiroquai funk-lite lounge muzak. A few days before tonight’s second-on-the-bill Mean Fiddler bash, Tommy led his troops through a 40-minute set at the King’s Head in Fulham, where they found themselves sandwiched uneasily between two bands who, by the sound of things, probably think that Chuck Berry is a renowned US undertaker and Keith Richards used to front a popular ’60s group called The Shadows.

Read more