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Sixx at the Marquee 1991 – pic: Ross Halfin

Just finished re-reading ‘The Dirt’ – the Mötley Crüe bio from some years back – so sharing a road tale involving Vince, his buddy Sixx, Mick and Tom seems appropriate. I was living in a tiny bedsit in South London back in 1991 – working was obviously not a priority – but rock n roll sure as hell was. Part of the weekly schedule was perusing Kerrang! Magazine – which from memory hit the streets each Wednesday. So as per usual, in early August, I headed to the Noizeagant and purchased the Big K, scanning the gig guide over a pint or two. In one of the news columns there was a blurb which stated something like ‘Livewire rockers The Foreskins play a one-off show at the Marquee August 14’.
Duh – I really shoulda put two and two together – cos I knew that in previous years – around the time of the Monsters Of Rock show, bands on the bill had done undercover Marquee gigs – Kiss in 1988, Poison and also Aerosmith (with a guest appearance from Jimmy Page) the year before. There was also the ‘livewire’ reference. Oh well, this was the pre-internet era so information was where you read it – or in my case, if you mis-read it ! Anyway – I think that the following Wednesday’s issue of Kerrang! – in the week leading up to Donington – they broke the newz and announced the ‘unannounced’ secret gig. Oh shit ! It was that very night ! I downed my pint, screamed ‘take me to the heights tonight’ – then jumped a train which would take me to the top – well, Tottenham Court Road station at least. The legendary Marquee was at that time situated at 105 Charing Cross Road, and I quickly made my way to the venue. Thinking back, I saw a slew of bands there during that summer – and although Cobain and his flannelette were about to sit hard rock and metal on it’s ass – there was still some great rock to be had at that time (the fact that Kerrang! ran a two page article on Nirvana in the aforementioned issue – was telling – and a sign of things to come – eg, the death of 80’s metal).

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Motley ‘Four Skins’ Crue play a rare club date -

Obviously, with the show sold-out I had to scalp a ticket – and when I got to the venue at around lunchtime there was already a queue to get inside. Motley never played clubs anymore so to see them in a dive with a few hundred capacity was a thrill. Ticket or no ticket, I joined the queue and started chatting to a couple of young kids who’d travelled by bus the night before to get to this secret Crue show. Think they hailed from Nottingham way. I looked through my cash and remember thinking that 50 quid was my absolute top bargaining price – and haggled with a few scalpers over the next couple of hours – before begrudgingly shelling out a whopping 70 pounds for a ticket in. What’s that worth in today’s money ? $300 or $400 maybe ? For some time later, one of my pommie mates would give me shit about it, so it must’ve been a lot of money ! Whatever – life is short, and it was the Crue in a club for f**k sake – their second club gig in ten years –  and now I had a ticket ! Rock n roll mission accomplished.

There was an Oi! punk outfit who hailed from London’s East End called The 4-Skins – working class punkers who were around in the early 80’s, and recall hearing a press rumour of legal action against the Crue for using their name. The spelling was obviously different – and the Crue had so many lawsuits against them, I doubt they cared. Many old punks would’ve bought tickets for this mid-August gig, thinking there was a 4-Skins re-union occurring. They of course were unaware they were nabbing tickets to the hottest gig in town – and some no doubt made a hefty profit from hungry Crue-heads. Well, on with the show, going on with the show.

Mr Rockbrat at the Marquee 1991

Mr Rockbrat at the Marquee 1991

The wait for the doors to open was made easier by swilling warm Tennent’s and chatting with other rock disciples. At some stage I recall a camera crew filed past – interviewing fans as they walked along. The accents were American so I presume they were Crue crew – and someone told me they were filming for a documentary. I think that some of this Charing Cross Road fan footage – along with the Marquee gig itself – was including in the ‘Anarchy In The UK’ video. Once the doors swung open, a horde of punters headed for the stage area, yet I headed upstairs and got a front row view from up there on the balcony – directly in line with Sixx. This was a memorable gig – one which stands out in a lifetime of loud, sweaty rock shows. There was no opening band – and from memory, after a short intro tape, the band just sauntered on stage and belted into their set – a set which was to be savoured: Wild Side, Shout at the Devil, a thumping Primal Scream, Looks That Kill, Red Hot,…. and to hear early Crue cuts like Live Wire and the encore Piece Of Your Action churned out in a small club was very very cool. A take on the Pistols Anarchy in the U.K.was also aired to maximum response. Personally, apart from Motorhead and The Runaways, I am yet to hear anyone do true justice to a Sex Pistols song – though the Crue’s effort on this night was sizzling. At one point in the show, Sixx, sporting black overalls, stage dived into the crowd – and later I recall he gave me the thumbs up during the set. Say what you want about Tommy Lee, the guy is an incredible drummer – the engine room behind this legendary outfit, and he is always great to watch. Every punter in the club that night was drenched in sweat – and it was pure rock n roll energy. This was a warm-up show but the Crue gave their all, and the evening was one of my rock highlights. I did the bus ride to Donington Park three days later and although the Crue rocked – they were not as potent as they were at the mid-week Marquee gig. The smaller stage of a small, sweaty club was where the Motley magic lay for me. With my ears ringing from Mick Mars’ Marshalls, I walked towards the Tube – ending the motley_crue_marquee_ticketevening a short while later with a Doner and chips. A decade earlier, Motley Crue had reigned supreme on the Sunset Strip club scene – and it was mind-blowing to see them back in a club after conquering the rock world !

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I have a bit of a soft spot for the US outfit Cobra, and there albums (particularly First Strike) are excellent slices of commercial heavy rock. Some years back, whilst rifling through one of those great Japanese ‘heavy metal album covers’ books, I was checking out Cobra, and got into the Cobra albums. Front man Jimi Jamison rose to prominence though post Cobra, in Survivor, joining in 84, a couple of years after their massive hit’ Eye Of The Eye Tiger’.  Jamison’s voice is strong and distinctive, well suited to commercial hard rock. His most recent solo album is excellent. Sadly, Jamison passed away a few days ago, 31 August, aged 63 from a massive heart attack. A couple of weeks back I was only listening to an old interview Jamison did with Ron Keel. Two weeks later he’s gone. If you are not familiar with the man or his music, I suggest you go to Ron Keel’s excellent radio show and listen to this week’s episode, which pays tribute to the late great Jimi Jamison.  
 

 

dizzy dollzEarlier this year – we blogged about some footage from Sydney’s long-lost Dizzy Dollz – which had surfaced on YouTube. Some months later we learn that another gig has been upped – and it’s just as good. When I say I’m in love you best believe I’m in love, L U V – and Mr Rockbrat is diggin’ this time travel – to the seedy Kardomah Cafe big time ! Tonight we have another dose of glam/punk/rock n roll circa 1992. It’s a short set, but a great one. Does vocalist Bella still perform ? She must’ve intimidated the hell out of many a young cherry-boy from that stage. Her voice suits these tunes so well. Did this band ever demo the track ‘Bitch On Heat’ ? Loud and to-the-point – it’s as catchy as all hell. Same with ‘Can’t Stop Shakin’ ? Was that ever put to tape ? Guitarist Glenn Read’s solo is hot – so too, the one in ‘Good Morning Headache’ – he was someone we saw a lot over the years on the Sydney scene (Shy Thunder/White Widow/Starlet) – and he always played with a great tone and feel. Looking back – Dizzy Dollz were more than just T and A rock n roll. As mentioned in my previous post – fun and entertainment were the main focus points. How can you not dig an outfit who rip through cool Runaways and Dolls tunage ?! Their take on Eddie Cochrane’s Summertime Blues is the best you’ll hear this side of Joan Jett’s 1981 run-through. Love it. The Australian underground scene had some great – authentic rock n roll bands in the late 80’s and Dizzy Dollz were just one of em. Spend 40 minutes watching this set and you’ll be in agreeance. OK kids, the sun is now up so I should stumble down Bayswater Road and vanish like a vampire…

birch_hill_gig_adThe town of Old Bridge is located in New Jersey, not too far from Staten Island, around 40km from Manhattan. It was also home to a live venue called Birch Hill – which me and the Cowboy made tracks for back in 1996. The reason ? Joan Jett & The Blackhearts. 40km doesn’t sound far – at least not for an Australian, who thinks nothing of driving a few hundred kilometres to get to the shops and back – well, you get my meaning. This gig stands out for a couple of reasons. See, me and the Cowboy were holed up in a flea-infested hostel around Chelsea, swilling cats piss one humid afternoon – whilst listening to local rock radio.  We hear the end of an advert for a Blackhearts show at ‘Albridge’, or was it ‘Aldridge’, ‘Old Ridge’ maybe ? No mention of the gig in the Village Voice either – hmmm. Anyway, we head to the Port Authority Bus Terminal on gig day and manage to annoy the ticket lady officer big time – by not actually knowing our destination. Fucking tourists. ‘Ohhh you mean, Old Bridge’ she whines in a Queens accent. ‘Uh huh, yeah’ we nod – like Beavis and Butthead and board the Jersey-bound bus excitedly.  From memory the Old Bridge bus stop was at a nearby mall – which meant a long walk back to the venue – a venue which first reminded me of Bob’s Country Bunker – chicken wire ? Unlike many Australian or British venue’s where you can hit the venue bar pre-show, this place seemed isolated and had the doors locked until like 8.00pm. The only thing to keep us entertained were the ‘Joan Clones’ who sat in their cars – cranking Jett/Runaways tunage, whiling the hours away. One geeky fan came up to us and even texta’d a number on our hands ! WTF ? (don’t want any queue-jumping at a Blackhearts show or Mr Laguna may wanna see you after school). Odd. It was humid in New Jersey that afternoon – so when the doors finally opened we darted to the bar – a man’s not a camel. Birch Hill was apparently a ground-breaking venue which had hosted up-and-coming acts like Marilyn Manson, Korn and the Goo Goo Dolls.  Others such as Eddie Money, Anthrax, Sepultura, Scorpions, Dokken, Cheap Trick, Dio, Motorhead, Dream Theatre, UFO, Vince Neil, Yngwie, Misfits, Great White, Cinderella and even  Iron Maiden (with Blaze) also played here – amongst countless other acts. Thrashers Overkill – who appear on this gig ad – hail from Old Bridge I believe. Anyway, back to the Jett show.

Boston’s two girl-one guy ‘Chelsea on Fire’ opened many Joan Jett shows in the late 90’s and did so on this occasion. They were unoriginal and unmemorable – and I instead made better use of my time by hitting on a couple of local chicks – big-haired Stevie Nicks-clones. and the booze kept flowing. Local outfit Mars Needs Women were next up – I think they gave me a demo tape – or did they hand em out (?) – and were capital A average. At some stage I recall ligging with Blackhearts Tony Bruno and Sean Koos – the bassist was far more impressed with my 1995 Aussie tour tee than his (ex-Saraya/Danger Danger) band mate (Bruno would later find greener pastures working as guitarist, music director for Enrique Iglesias). Eventually Joanie jumps the stage with shortly-cropped bright orange hair. Not one of her better looks. As usual – Miss Larkin and band fired on all cylinders – and her set was soon over – but not, as you’d expect – was our Old Bridge adventure.

There were no taxis anywhere – and a promised lift by some local Jett-head proved to be bullshit. Anyway, me and the Cowboy start walking alongside the freeway – when we stumble upon a local cop sitting in his car. ‘Any chance of a lift’ ? I ask – and after ID’s are confirmed – we jump in the back of the squad car. ‘I heard Joan Jett now has orange hair’ the officer mumbled. Sheesh – even the local law enforcement were up on recent Jett happenings ! Some minutes later – the kindly cop drops us at a 24 hour diner and says ‘hey when you get back to Australia, you tell Aussie cops that Jersey cops are cool’ ! Absoloutely, 10-4, that’ll be the first thing I do when we land at Mascot. With a hang-over starting to kick in – I slumped wearily into a booth at the diner – ordering coffee and spying the ‘texta-girl’ from the gig sitting nearby. We rolled back into the Port Authority terminal a little under the weather – but drenched in Joan Jett rock n roll. I am attaching the advert for this show in question. Man, I love looking over past gig ads – the names of bands who vanshed – or also conquered – lay before you. This one shows Hüsker Dü’s Bob Mould appearing, the afore-mentioned Overkill, and Northern Irish outfit Ash can be seen on a bill supporting Stabbing Westward – no doubt trying to sink their teeth into the vast North American market. Looking back – Merciful Fate – out on the road in support of their then released ‘Into The Unknown’ record with Voivod woulda been cool – hmm, nah, on second thought – I think I’d take the Marshall Tucker Band over the lot of em. The venue closed its doors back in 2003 – making way for some housing community. Often, just making your way to a show is half the fun – and this tale, from Old Bridge NJ in 1996, is just one of many I have tucked away. More road stories later…till then – respect the rock.

joan Jett Australia 1995Found this tour advert in an old magazine tonight (anyone remember the short-lived Rebel Razor ?) and I thought it was time to reminisce a little. Joanie had last toured Australia back in 1982, and although she remained productive, there was no big hit here to warrant a further tour downunder (ala I Love Rock n Roll and Crimson and Clover back in the day). So it was with some surprise that a tour – co-headlining with Divinyls, was announced for the winter of 1995. I cannot believe that this tour was nearly two decades back. Where the hell are the years going ? We have written a lot about Joan Jett over the years, so I will not repeat myself – just go grab a beer, put on your copy of Pure and Simple and get in the mood. Anyway, we saw a few shows on this tour, including one at Revesby – long time Rockbrat co-hort Giglizard reviewed the show for Vicious Kitten fanzine at the time, and stated that it was the nearest he’d been to a religious experience (the tour was dubbed ‘an evening mass’). and you know what ? Gig Lizard called it right, once again. 1995 was a weird time for rock n roll. I know, apart from underground rock – there was nothing of interest for me in the mainstream – apart from checking out the the dreamy Merril Bainbridge. Jett/Divinyls did some odd venues on this tour – Barooga (?), Manly Leagues Club in Brookvale, and St George’s Basin to name a few. Maybe the Sussex Inlet region was home to a horde of riot grrrls, who knows ? A couple of memories of this tour stand-out: Getting to meet Joan at the Coogee Bay Hotel post-gig was pretty special.This was not planned – I had spent the Blackheart set gulping brew and taking pix with my old Canon SLR, when a few minutes after their set, I spy Joan and minder (Kenny L I presume) saunter past and made a bee-line after her. Glad I did, cos the opportunity of meeting her again at other shows, here and in the USA, never materialised. I also got a whole bunch of Runaways stuff signed by her during this tour – they come with me to the grave. Another memory is of just how potent Joan and the Blackhearts were – night after night – leaving the Divinyls (whom I dig, big time) to come up short most gigs. Seeing Joan up close, belting out “I Wanna Be Your Dog” will also live with me – man it was good, and freakin’ loud too. I reckon – apart from the classic Blackheart line-up of Byrd, Ryan, Crystal – this is her most solid outfit. Guitarist Tony Bruno is tres cool, and gave the band great balance. Anyway, a great tour – from a true rock n roll original. you shoulda been there kids.

 

 

 

 

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Mr Rockbrat chooses his Top 10 Oasis tunes !

My recent post about Slade – where I referenced Noel Gallagher from Oasis – reminded me of another article I’ve been meaning to write for some time. And it is something very close to my rock n roll heart: the mighty Oasis and more specifically – what are my Top 10 Oasis songs ?!

The timing seems right, what with the 20th year anniversary of the Definitely Maybe record upon us.  With a rich back-catalogue of tunage, it would be impossible to name just one favourite Oasis song – an outfit whom are without a doubt – the last great rock n roll band of our time. Nevertheless, I have managed to select ten tunes – so let’s have it.

Supersonic

This floored me when I first heard it and still does. The way Liam punches into the tune after Noel’s glorious pick slide is mind-blowing. Cryptic – cool lyrics wrapped into a chunky bass-laden chorus, would ensure this song’s popularity over many years – from small clubs to stadiums. Love it !

Acquiesce

Often voted the #1 fan favourite, and rightly so. Big, loud guitars – a sweeping chorus – the Gallagher brothers sharing vocal duties – I mean, does it get any better ?! The answer is no, it does not. To be played at maximum volume only.

Slide Away

This one moves me like no other – whether amped up – or performed acoustically by Noel, this track (in my opinion) defines the Oasis-sound far more than Wonderwall ever will. Lyrically, it is Noel at his very best with lines such as ‘Now that you’re mine, We’ll find a way of chasing the sun, Let me be the one who shines with you.’ [Sigh] – Truly stunning.

Don’t Look Back In Anger

Littered with Lennon-isms throughout, this amazing song affects people in different ways. Only the power of a well-written song can do that, like this one. Billboard Magazine said of the tune, “Noel Gallagher reveals a deft sense of timing and craft that turn his improprieties into masterful pop gems.” I cannot add to that.

Some Might Say

This was an easy one to nail – and has the trademark Oasis-sound – big guitars, sing-along chorus and hooks a-plenty. Twenty years on it still sounds phenomenal.

Gas Panic

Lifted from the very underrated Standing on The Shoulder of Giants –Gas Panic is one of my choice Oasis cuts – and I mean, what’s not to love ? The mystical lyrics are great – but it’s the way the song kicks into gear about 90 seconds in – that’s the stuff I really dig. Liam introduces this on the live Familiar To Millions album with ‘it’s a Good fookin’ tune this, cmon’! – My sentiments exactly.

The Masterplan

Sheer brilliance and the tune which thrust Noel Gallagher above the pack of 90’s songwriters.  If this was put on canvas – people would be lining up for hours to see it.

Bring It On Down

Noel has written several loud and dirty punk songs – such as Fade Away and Headshrinker. Both could’ve made my top ten – but it was in fact the similar-veined Bring It On Down which got the nod. What elevates this one is the smashing, raucous guitars mixed with Liam’s snarling vocals. And with a pounding drum intro like no other – this could be one of Tony McCarroll’s finest moments. Great in the live environment too, it contains grimy, street-level lyrics like  ‘you’re the outcast – you’re the underclass, but you don’t care – because you’re living fast’. This is about as pure as rock n roll gets, penned by  young, hungry working-class kids with attitudes and songs to match.

(It’s Good) To Be Free

This is such a great song, but it was hearing it on a BBC session from late 1994 which in fact knocked me senseless. Noel’s searing guitar work, Liam’s snotty vocal delivery – make an effort to track this down – and you’ll see what I mean. Intensely wonderful.

The Importance of being idle

Kinks comparisons aside – this song went to Number One in the UK and justifiably so.  It is catchy as all hell, and (another) of Noel’s finest moments !

So there you have it folks. All done. In compiling a list of only ten, I have obviously left behind countless others….superb songs like Force Of Nature, Magic Pie, Waiting For The Rapture, Hey Now, Step Out, Talk Tonight, I Hope I Think I Know, Lyla, Rock n Roll Star, Little By Little, Shock Of the Lightning, Live Forever, Half The World Away, Stay Young and My Big Mouth – my gosh the list is endless. In case you ain’t figured it out – Oasis have been my favourite rock n roll band of these past two decades – they make me smile – they make me sing, they make me dance – they remind me of why I got into rock n roll in the first place.

The dreams we had as children may fade away – but good times and great rock n roll will live forever.

sladestToday I am giving Slade’s 1973 record ‘Sladest’ a thorough inspection – and damn it’s good. Actually it’s extraordinary ! What you are in fact all looking at folks – is the very first record I ever bought. See, me and the Cowboy used to spend many Saturday mornings as kids – perusing local school fetes, and it was on once such occasion, when I – at around 10 years old – shelled out around 50 cents for this guitar-charged classic. Suffice to say, when I got the wax home and spun it, I was addicted for life. The quality of hook-laden songs contained here is incredible – and I spent many hours as a kid – greedily drinking from the Slade well, whilst simultaneously reading over the booklet contained in this gatefold album.  Funnily enough, I have a distant memory of one of my sisters – (the one who let the side down when it came to rock cred) – mocking Dave Hill’s haircut. This misguided slur – made by someone who had dodgy albums by the likes of Bony M and Hall & Oates wedged in her K-tel Record Selector (not to mention sporting a do not unlike that of John Oates) – was most unwelcome. All hail Dave Hill – he has penned some of the most recognisable riffs of all time and is waaaaaay underrated. But where was I?  Oh yeah – just get a load of some of the tracks on Sladest: Cum on Feel the Noize, Look Wot You Dun, Gudbuy T’Jane, Skweeze Me Pleeze Me, Take Me Bak ‘Ome, Coz I Luv You, Get Down and Get With It, Mama Weer All Crazee Now. I mean, I know this was a Greatest Hits’ album, but sheesh – all tracks really are wonderful rock n roll songs, good time tunes, party tunes – a couple of them are bonafide anthems. No wonder that Slade were hugely influential on Simmons and Stanley from Kiss (not to mention helping themselves to the ‘Alive !’ title for their err live opus from 75 – Slade Alive ! was released three years earlier).  And as we would see some two decades later – Noel from Oasis would display his love of Slade through his music and songwriting.

In the 80’s – LA’s Quiet Riot would have massive success with a couple of Slade songs – main man Kevin Du Brow’s  vocals eerily like Noddy Holder. Not that I cared – I loved QR as much as Slade – and if you don’t own 1983’s Metal Health and 1984’s Condition Critical may the “Man With The Metal Mask” track you down. Fun fact: Quiet Riot form in 1973 – same year as ‘Sladest’ was issued. This record went to number one in both UK and here in Australia – and justifiably sat there for some time. Apart from Quiet Riot – I know of a couple of other bands to have tackled Slade tunage such as the aforementioned Oasis with Cum on Feel the Noize (which rivals the original) – and the horrendous Britny Fox who butchered ‘Goodbye T Jane’ back in 1988.

So there you have it folks – ‘Sladest’ – the first record I bought which ultimately has led me on an incredible rock n roll journey – which continues to this day. Go buy this and start your own   journey now !