Just to prove that it's not all about pop here and that I am a big Prog fan, today it's all about Morgan.
The excellent Morgan Fisher, travelled, via Love Affair, to the last line up of Mott The Hoople and was superb during their Broadway Residence etc. He had been on a year out of Love Affair when Everlasting Love hit the heights,
Tim Staffell had been the vocalist and Bass Player in Smile, he co-wrote Doin' Alright with Brian May. Tim left Smile in 1970. May and Roger Taylor added Freddie Mercury and ultimately John Deacon and became Queen.
Everlasting Love was not just what Love Affair were about. A great little Pop outfit with overtones of Soul and Rock and a great vocalist in Steve Ellis.
When Love Affair split up in 1971, soon to follow was Morgan. A band that would ditch all that pop nonsense in favour of Keyboard driven Prog.
Maurice Bacon joined Morgan Fisher from Love Affair and Bob Sapsed and Tim Staffell completed the quartet. Staffell would write the lyrics, Fisher, the music. Signed on a two album deal with RCA, off they went to RCA Studios in Rome to record their first album.
RCA Studios was a 16 Track Studio, a chance to experiment. The studios also had a multitude of instruments to incorporate, most importantly the VCS3, a first generation British Synthesizer.
The result was Nova Solis, released in 1972, a Prog Rock epic. Three tracks on Side 1, one 9 part, side length, title track on Side 2. The concept was a Science Fiction one. Incidentally, as well as writing the words and music for Alone on Side 1, he wrote two of the 9 parts of Nova Solis alone, one was Earth, a Smile song.
The album sold little and the band proceeded to record their second album, which was offered up for a 1973 release. RCA Italy were not impressed with the inner artwork offered up, a rude pun on the title of the album, Brown Out and not at all happy with the complex arrangements and the album was shelved. The beauty of a four track album is that you can feature all four in a post the size of this.
Morgan split soon after. Prog fans speak very highly of their residence at London's Marquee Club.
It's a crying shame that it wasn't released. It's a massive step forward on the great debut album, some outstanding guitar on the side long, What Is - Is What and a band knowing exactly what they wanted to do.
It's even more strange, because it was the time of Topographic Oceans and it's ilk and with some decent promotion and perhaps a good support act tour, you felt Morgan could have blitzed it.
It had a low key release, as Brown Out, in the States in late 1976, but caught my ears as the first ever release on Cherry Red, as The Sleeper Wakes, in 1978.
I'd largely been moving away from Prog then via the back end of Punk and the start of New Wave. It was a strange time to be releasing something that wasn't full of 3 minute chorus led songs. However, my heroes were Mott The Hoople and I knew of Morgan through them and Tim Staffell's pre Queen history made me buy it on it's first week out. It was largely due to a suggestion from the superbly knowledgeable Rumbelows manager, Derek Wadeson.
I was entranced, you just lost yourself in the album. Life was not just about I Love You, Yes I Do.
The release led to a fruitful relationship between Morgan Fisher and Cherry Red, most notably, the splendid Miniatures album, featuring the likes of Neil Innes, Robert Wyatt and Andy Partridge.
As for the The Sleeper Wakes, it sold little, but influenced me enormously, making me look back as well as forwards, no mean thing for a 15 year old.
The album was re-released in the UK on Angel Air in 1999 and as Brown Out then in Japan in 2011.
If you are a Prog fan and don't have this, you should without any hesitation. If you aren't, you'd be surprised at how an album like this can grip you.
If you shop around, you should be able to pick it up for under a tenner on CD or as a download for about £8.
After Morgan's demise, Morgan Fisher answered an ad to join Mott The Hoople, being present on The Broadway Tour amongst others and the band's finale, The Hoople, a glam masterpiece.
As well as his solo work, he played keyboards on Queen's 1982 European Tour, before eventually moving to Tokyo in 1985. He became an arranger for other bands and soundtrack writer for TV and Film. He's also a noted photographer.
From 2003 - 2013, he performed 100 monthly solo concerts and continued the series from his home studio.
Tim Staffell became a designer and animator of note. He was involved in the likes of The Hitch Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy and as chief model maker for the first series of Thomas The Tank. He returned to music in 2001 with aMIGO and has released two albums, aMIGO and 2Late.
Tim also has a connection with the excellent Jonathan Kelly, via Humpy Bong and Outside. There'll be a feature on Jonathan Kelly, his Folk Rock greatness and his connections to Tim, Snowy White, Chas Jankel and Terry Williams.
Maurice moved into artist management and Bob, sadly died in a motorbike accident.
Morgan has an excellent Web Site here and his sleeve notes on this album and the songs within can be found here.
Further details on Tim's superb animation and model making career can be found here. It's only up to about 2009, but Tim is active on Facebook and I'm sure will add his thoughts there or here.
Two things are constant in this poptastic world of ours. Everyone appears to be looking for both the new Jellyfish and XTC. For us XTC fanatics, we can see, hear, smell, touch, taste them. From The Sugarplastic through The Futureheads to Field Music.
Dogs Die In Hot Cars released their debut album. Please Describe Yourself, in 2004 and a splendid album it was too.
Quirky pop at it's best. The comparisons to XTC were obvious and still are.
Produced by Langer and Winstanley, Madness it isn't, probably a little more in touch with Deaf School. The album can be bought for under £2 including postage on Amazon.
They were signed to V2 and what a strange old mess that label was. Branson folly! 95% owned by Morgan Stanley, what was that all about?
Hailing from St Andrews in Scotland, the band were typical of the great stuff coming out of Scotland at that time. Angular Pop at it's most splendid. The critics loved it, a sure fire way for a band with XTC comparisons to sell nothing. There was lots of Promo, but nothing really made a dint. There were two live sessions for KCRW and KEXP.
The band began recording the demos to their follow up, Pop Nonsense in 2006. However at the end of the sessions, after the departure to University of guitarist, Gary Smith, the band abandoned the recordings. In the mass V2 cull in 2007, the band were dumped.
In 2008, the posted the 17 demos on their website with instrumental tracks too, so that fans could remix the songs in anyway the liked.
The results could be sent to the band who would pick their favourites and split the royalties 50-50 when the album was released. The band abandoned the mixing project saying that there wasn't enough content to release the project.
Then the 17 songs in advanced demo form were put on the band's website for free download. People were encouraged to do what they wanted to incorporate them into songs with 50% of the royalties going to the band.
These songs are long deleted, so I've linked them for download below. If anyone from or connected to the band have a problem with this, I will take them down straight away.
They are on a We Transfer download link which will expire in 7 days.
01 Something for the Good Boys
02 Pop Nonsense
04 Big Big Love
05 Beauty Us
06 Me Me Me
10 Like Music To My Ears
11 Emergency Party
12 Bloke In The Toilet
13 Trials and Errors
15 To Get Love Returned
17 Plutonic Dancing
As you can see, this place is a work in progress, it was rushed out due to demand. The plan was to make it a far more multimedia led place and in the background we were planning a monthly radio show and alternating fortnightly, a chatty podcast with interviews etc.
This remains the idea, but time constraints with other ASH Stuff and work slow this down.
I mention this, because whilst I search for the first playlist for the radio thing, I wanted it to be about stuff available now, so that people could pop off to buy it. That isn't as easy as it seems, I only play and post about stuff I like. It's not a pay per play thing, it's a fan's place.
Over the eight years of ASH, we get directed to a lot of Power Pop and Pop Rock. It's certainly not all that we are about, but the the group has got a certain notoriety for that. We get sent a lot of Mod Pop, Merseybeat, Garage etc and without being critical, because people do like that, it's not what we are about. We are secret Prog Rockers really, who like nothing more than to have Jason Falkner's Hectified on repeat.
We like a hook, a chorus, a song you can sing along too with a great solo. Call it Power Pop, Psych Pop, Pop Rock, New Wave, whatever you want, it's not about labels or the dreaded genre allocation. So why am I blabbing on about me, when the post is about Propeller.
Well, the first song I've chosen for the broadcast, leaving only another 57 minutes to source, is by Propeller.
What a great band they are. They aren't new and are in fact a duo, but their third album, released a few months ago is superb and after the excellence of the first two, this is a step up further.
For a pitch at what to expect, I'd say it's like Vocalist, Greg Randall is backed by Teenage Fanclub. The riffs are in that direction, there's a lot of jingle jangle, perfect for these summer months. But just as we like it, some great solos towards the end, round off the delight. Believe you me, the solos are ace.
I'm also getting used to shorter albums these days. 30 - 40 minutes is just about right, a bit like the old Side 1 and Side 2's of olden days. Say what you've got to say and get off and that suits what Propeller do just fine.
The opener, Fall Of The World, above, kicks the album off with a errrr kick and the hooks don't let up. The production reminds me a lot of Greg Pope albums, which is a compliment.
The album is track after track excellent, proper feel good songs and the best may very well be saved until the end. Turn On The Radio is a real Ramones tribute down to the 1 2 3 4 intro. Great Stuff!
Everyone is raving about the new Monkees album and rightly so, but how about ten songs written by the band and giving you that same windows open feeling? Well here you have it.
I rave about the likes Greg Pope, Nick Piunti and Michael Carpenter, well Propeller are up there with them.
You can buy the album from the Bandcamp's site for the ridiculous price of 5 dollars, the price of a pint of beer. So you will want to want to make your way there now. Just point the compass to here.
You can buy the CD at Ray's excellent Kool Kat Music or CD Baby. Propeller are currently recording album number four for release next year, which promises to be a treat.
In the meantime, when you visit the Bandcamp Site. You can buy the two earlier albums, The Fear Of Rock And Roll and Don't Be Sorry Again,for five dollars a piece. So three albums for 15 dollars, wall to wall Power Pop, time to click that mouse.
Here's an example of what you are missing not grabbing them all.
As well as celebrating the new, old and current here, we do like our great lost albums and none are more great than Billy Lyall's 1976 solo album.
It all started in 1969 when he and David Paton were part of a fledgling Bay City Rollers. Both left in 1971, well before the Bye Bye Baby mayhem. The reason that Lyall gave was that he didn't want to be a teenybopper.
Paton and Lyall went on to form Pilot. The duo wrote all the Pilot songs on the first two albums, From The Album Of The Same Name and Second Flight.
Pilot's other three band members went on to other things after their first split, after four albums, in 1977. Paton and Bairnson played with The Alan Parsons Project, Stuart Tosh and Lyall also played on the Tales Of Mystery And Imagination album.
Tosh eventually became 10CC's drummer, whilst Bairnson played guitar on the first four Kate Bush albums. Paton recorded with Elton John in the 1980's and Rick Wakeman in the 90's, as well as following an intermittent solo career and reforming Pilot for a short while with Bairnson.
Billy Lyall left Pilot in 1976 after the first two articles, again giving the reason that he didn't want to be a teenybopper.
He set about planning his solo album.
It's great Pop Rock and as with many great albums, it sold buttons.
Part of the problem is that you or I can appreciate how diverse it is. To the general public they just wouldn't know what hit them and who'd care about the keyboard player from Pilot?
You can hear Pilot at times, well he did write the two albums to date, but it's so much more than that. At times, it is Todd Rundgren, other times Elton John. A soppy ballad will be followed by something so vaudeville that you'd think that the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band were backing him.
Pilot still have a loyal following these days and for those who thought Lyall was too left field for Pilot, have a look at this from the band's second album. It wasn't all "January"
Billy Lyall went on to play keyboards for Dollar between 1978 and 1982 and sadly died of AIDS in 1989.
Solo Casting is not easy to find, so I've putt the full album from You Tube at the end of this post.
If you shop around you can find it on vinyl for under a tenner. It was released by See For Miles on CD in 1996 and on Muskat Records in Japan in 1997.
The Japanese Release is easier to find, but expect to pay at least £20 for it and it could go up to £50.
In the meantime here's the full album. I'd love to make it available in a proper audio format, but rights to the album make this tricky.
For all the feel good natural inclination of Power Pop, it's doesn't sell loads. There's also a misconception that after the Merseybeat bands it was grabbed by the US and that's where all the best stuff comes from.
It forgets the UK New Wave efforts and in particular how great the scene is in Australia. For every Tommy Keene, there is a Dom Mariani.
Sydney's Michael Carpenter has been releasing great albums since 1999. You can still buy a good deal of his Back Catalogue on his Bandcamp site here.
In with the Power Pop goodness are more unexpected gems. His Songs Of Other People (SOOP) Series contains inspired unexpected cover songs.
His talents know no bounds, Producer, multi instrumentalist, own commercial studio, Label Owner. You can find details of his Production Work etc here
His album last year, The Big Radio, could very well have been the Power Pop album of the year. Doing what he always does, it is just great Power Pop. She's In Love With Herself gives you an idea what it's all about.
Michael's stuff with The Cuban Heels tends to have a more Alt Country feel. For those averse to that label, don't worry, there's plenty of his Trademark Power Pop chops present.
The new album, Ain't Nothing Left To Say, is a gem. There's so much for everyone. Photo is virtually Classic Rock, Wasted Years, Wasted Time could be The Counting Crows, The Country tinge is there on the likes of I Was Born Standing Up and the lead single, I Should Have Told You.
Yet, the Power Pop shines through, particularly on the magnificent, One Of These Days I'm Gone.
This is an album to put in the car, wind the windows down and listen to it all the way through all 12 songs. The world will seem brighter, more optimistic and ok. Heaven knows, we need that these days.
I was concerned that this album wouldn't be as good as The Big Radio, It's not the same, but I'm delighted to report that it's every bit as good.
You can buy the album here. You'll also note, when you arrive there to buy it, that there is a limited 500 release on CD. Trust me, that is the best way to listen to this sonic excellence.
The second of the two weekend posts brings us back up to speed. Again an archive post from 2013 and updated.
Roy Wood had had an hectic 1971. Never one to do things by half, he was recording three albums at the same time.
Those albums were all so very different.
The Move's finale Message From The Country, a patchy thing, but with some gems from both him (Ella James) and Jeff Lynne (The Minister) was one of them.
Two Move singles were also recorded, Chinatown and Tonight, both excellent.
ELO's first album with an added cello and violin line up was often compared unfavourably with the Jeff Lynne led ELO later stuff, but this has been reassessed since as the inventive original joy that it is.
Wood's Whisper In The Night is just simply one of the most enchanting love songs ever written.
Finally, his outstanding solo album, Boulders, on which he played and sang every note. A real mix of styles and fond patisches of his heroes such as The Beach Boys and Everly Brothers.
Many parts of Message From The Country and ELO 1 were laid down in the same sessions, when they would finish a Move song and then move on to one for the ELO album.
By June 1972 it was all over and Roy Wood left ELO to spend the next few years recording either as a solo artist or in the band Wizzard, the latter being the first to introduce new sounds to the public.
Wood took Rick Price, Bill Hunt and for a short time, Hugh McDowell with him into Wizzard and the first two singles showed a new glam like Phil Spector meets The Beach Boys direction that the kiddies loved.
Both Ball Park Incident and See My Baby Jive, showed a more pop direction not seen in all but the first Move album. Sessions threw voices and instruments on every part of any recording tape available.
So when March 1973 came round and the album was to hit stores, it would have been the natural thing to have eight more songs in the same vein.
Not Roy Wood! What arrived was the marvellous cacophany that is Wizzard Brew, those kiddies must have run away frightened by the hairy monster making all the noise.
Just six tracks, one a 2 minute marching band sing song.
It sounded as though two dozen musicians had been put in a studio and started playing at the same time, some of them playing different songs.
The 13 minute, Meet Me At The Jailhouse, is largely saxophone duelling with a three minute song in between. Gotta Crush is 4 minutes of Rick Price vocal to a Bill Hunt, Jerry Lee Lewis Piano fest, all well and good so far, well Rick Price sings the song in his Elvis Presley voice.
You Can Dance Your Rock And Roll is more straight ahead Ball Park Incident like, except that Roy Wood sounds like he's singing it the studio next door.
Side Two's opener, Buffalo Station - Get On Down To Memphis is raw, but extremely likeable, which leaves just one song to talk about.
Wear A Fast Gun is probably Roy Wood's finest song and is certainly my favourite Wood composition.
A wonderful ballad that grips you that leads into a wonderful orchestral instrumental and closes with a choral finale. Ideas similar to this would be explored on Annie Haslam's solo album, Annie In Wonderland.
So I've probably put you off, I hope not, because it remains one of the most inventive and strange albums of the Seventies. It needs repeat listening as you keep hearing things you've missed.
Wood wise, there are hints of The Move's Looking On album, which again is probably my favourite Wood album with The Move.
The 2006 remaster of this album has the first four Wizzard singles as bonus tracks. The A Sides showing what the kids heard, the B Sides showing the experimentation.
Adding to the two singles already mentioned are Angel Fingers and I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day. Just proving how far away from those singles, Wizzard Brew was.
Roy Wood was to move back to the mainstream for a while after this. Boulders was finally released in 1973 and he followed that up with the fantastic solo album, Mustard.
Wizzard would reappear with the Fifties tribute, Introducing Eddy And The Falcons and that would be it for the band.
Another mind boggling album was to come under The Super Active Wizzo Band moniker, that went all Jazz Rock, but the tale of that is for some other day.
Whilst weekend work is devoted to other ASH related things. The intention is to put two posts each weekend from the archive, leaving the week days free for five new articles. You can still buy the Daryll-Ann Again Box Sets from Excelsior for the bargain price of 39.99 Euros. Get it while you can, as well as all the studio recordings, there's tons of rarities. You can rush off now to Excelsior to buy it now.
Mick Dillingham provides his thoughts on the excellent Daryll-Ann. You can also catch up with his Blog Adventures at Art Into Dust.
In our thirties we tend to believe that we are now for all
intent and purposes grown up and it isn’t until we start to reach our true
maturity in our mid forties or so that we realise the folly of this belief. Now
to me the average thirty year olds seem like teenagers playing at being adults.
Older and wiser certainly but not actually old and wise as yet. Too much noise,
too much ego, too many words for word’s sake.
The wisdom of age comes not from
accumulating more and more personal knowledge but instead the ability that
comes with age to whittle it all down until we are left with just the knowledge
we know to be our truth. Less is so much
more because that less we end up with is mostly real and solid. We can all look at the music we have
accumulated in our lives and think, but what if I only keep the stuff I truly,
truly love and ditch the rest? Would that weaken my collection or in reality
make it even better?
When we finally become an adult the most apparent change is
that we really don’t care that much anymore. But not at all in a negative and
world weary cynical way, in fact quite the opposite. We realise the things that
are truly worth caring about and only care for those things and we discard the
rest. And most importantly we do the same with ourselves. We whittle down our
egos and as a result we care more for those around us and less about ourselves.
We become less selfish and more selfless in our love. Finally as adults we are
the best and most efficient versions of ourselves, free from the empty noise
and storms of our later youth.
Everything is clearer and more simple and we can
look back on the friendship and relationships we have lost down the years and
wonder what the hell were we thinking when we let them become such tangled angry
sad messes. All those things that seemed
so important at the time are now viewed as really quite trivial looking back at
it. Too many trees obscuring the wood. We focused too much on the ultimately
pointless tangents that our egos led us down instead of staying focused on the
core, too busy standing up for ourselves when what we should have done is stood
back from ourselves. But we were younger, what did we know? Not as much as we
like to think that’s for sure. Now, with age, we know better.
Camper Van Beethoven
were still relatively young when they dissolved in bitter acrimony back in
1990. When I first interviewed Jonathan
Segel and Victor Krummenacher a few years later they were both producing their
own brilliant music but the heartbreak of losing CVB still hung over them like
the ghost of a long lost love.
Then at the start of the next decade, David
Lowery, a few years older than the rest of them and still going strong with
Cracker had the thought that maybe they were mature enough as people now to
bring Campers back to life once more. And he was right, now they saw the wood
not just the trees and 13 years on from that return and they are stronger than
ever, producing their finest works and live, even more dazzling then they ever
were. With the stillness of age comes stability and acceptance of others and
what once had become horribly fraught is now effortlessly relaxed.
When a band reforms simply because they are old enough now
to put aside all the things that drove them apart originally and instead
appreciate what each of them brought to the whole and what the whole inspired
in them that they never quite found outside of it, then the results are more
often than not excellent.
Who can argue with the quality of the recent reformed
dB’s, Grapes Of Wrath or Wanderlust albums? And if it had happened wouldn’t we
all now be praising the new Game Theory album as a wonder to behold. Cotton
Mather, The Rain Parade, The Three O’Clock and The Mutton Birds all returned as
live bands in recent times and we all hope that they might go on to make new
music together, utterly confident that the results will be vital and worthy.
I love Dutch masters Daryll-Ann, they are one of my beloved combos and always will be and the news that they were reforming for a handful of local gigs in support of the long anticipated box set of early works and rarities, cheer me up no end. Not that there’s any chance of me seeing them live again, because there isn’t and not that they are considering recording together again because as yet there is no talk of that and it might be just these few dates and nothing more.
That’s okay, both Anne Soldaat and Jelle
Paulusma have produced solo work of consistent brilliance so its not like they
need Daryll-Ann to bring them back to form because they never lost it. What
cheered me up was the thought they were finally old enough to rediscover their
friendship once more.
I interviewed both during their Daryll-Ann days and in
the years since and when asked both were adamant that they would never work together
again. And while I dropped their muted responses to that question from the
finished articles I always had the thought that they were just not old enough
yet for the stillness to have kicked in. But then over the last few years you
could see their friendship slowly wander back into their lives via their casual
interactions on Facebook.
finally the friendship has returned and in consequence so has Daryll-Ann. Do we
need a new Daryll-Ann album? No. Do we want a new Daryll-Ann album? Oh, but certainly
yes please and if they do decide to do a new album as far as I can see there
are two ways the dynamic behind it will go.
Don’t Stop, the last
Daryll-Ann album was an attempt to revive the band that failed. Jelle and Anne,
who have never written songs together, brought in some songs and with a group
of musicians recorded them. But by then their friendship was in tatters, there
was too much recent water under the bridge and the atmosphere in the studio was
uncomfortable at best. Despite this
adversity the album is superb in its own way but really with such talent
involved it was bound to be. Not that is saved the band because inevitably they
did not survive the tour in support of the album.
So a decade down the road and with friendships renewed and
returned by the salve of maturity they could both bring in songs to be recorded
by the band as a whole, this time in a far nicer atmosphere and the results
will be great. That would be the easy way.
Weeps is considered to be the band’s masterpiece and I think the reason
for this is that it’s the album where the band became greater than the parts and
took on a life of its own and truly became Daryll-Ann, a magical entity in its
own right. Something beyond the individual talents involved. But then Jelle and
Anne got carried away with themselves and somewhat dropped the ball. They did
not involve the rhythm section in the recording of Happy Traum and while its
another great album, its no Weeps, because it is not really Daryll-Ann anymore, more a Soldaat/Paulusma album.
They had made the mistake of believing they
alone were Daryll-Ann, too busy standing up for themselves instead of standing
back and seeing the whole that was greater than the parts. They both walked
away from Daryll-Ann after that. Ann was the one to actually leave and in
consequence Jelle was the one left with the name. He mistakenly thought that he now had to be
Daryll-Ann, though in reality he had no more chance of making a Daryll-Ann
album alone than Ann would have it if had been him left with the name.
Tails is a lovely album in itself, but it is a Daryll-Ann album in name
only. Jelle subconsciously knew this and
pulled Ann back on board for the live shows that followed and the subsequent
last gasp attempt to save the band that was Don’t Stop. It was always doomed to
fail because the now broken friendship of Ann and Jelle was a gaping wound at
the very heart of the band and both were still not old and mature enough yet to
So instead Jelle tried filling that fatal hole by taking control and
leadership of the band. At the time it must have seemed the right thing to do
but as history shows, for Daryll-Ann it wasn’t. And Jelle at the last knew his
mistake and this time it was he that left and relinquished the name and that
was the end of Daryll-Ann for now.
But now the classic Weeps line up has returned, maturity and
time having renewed friendships and mended bridges, the band are in the perfect
place to create Daryll-Ann music as Daryll-Ann once more. The pressure is off, they have nothing to prove and this is
not their career but just a part of it. Both Jelle and Ann are hugely
creatively successful as solo artists and so neither has any need to bring any
of their own outside musical explorations to the table but should instead focus
on what Daryll-Ann alone can do.
For most band’s with two equally prolific songwriters it is
usually the case that one songwriter is overall better than the other when it
comes down to it. With Daryll-Ann this is not the case, they are equally great,
so no problem there. There are two unique musical jewels in the band’s crown
and they are what above all else make the band so magical.
Ann Soldaat is a
brilliant guitarist, a true great, magnificent beyond words. And the other
jewel is Jelle’s voice. While Ann is a perfectly excellent lead singer, as is
Jelle’s brother Coen, neither has that extra special natural quality that
Jelle’s voice has. That warm honey perfection that can only be gifted by luck
and nothing more. While I would not have a problem with Ann electing to sing
his own songs on a new Daryll-Ann album, if I could choose then I would want
Jelle to sing them all. Not because
Ann’s voice isn’t good but because Jelle’s is sooo good, not just by comparison
to Ann’s but by comparison to 99% of all singers out there. It truly is a
Now just plonk the five down in a studio and say, don’t just
make music, become Daryll-Ann again and make the music that only the band can. By all means put yourselves first on your own albums, but always put Daryll-Ann first on a band album. That is how Weeps happened and that is how it
could be again if you become less selfish and more selfless in your love for
Daryll Ann again. That’s my thoughts on the subject anyway.
My two favourite labels at the moment are Sugarbush Records and Megadodo.
In the unorganised mess of music I have here, I have a "current favourites" shelf and Markus seems to have the knack of releasing limited vinyl releases of it's contents. The latest being Nick Piunti and Pugwash.
John at Mega Dodo also hits the spot. I may seem to be regularly stood on the Power Pop step, but my tastes are all over the place including a love of Prog. John's releases seem to mirror the randomness of my collection, Viv Stanshall next to The Luck Of Eden Hall.
I mention Markus in particular, because I'd love to have something on vinyl from Greg Pope and he seems the man to do it.
The Noughties were a bit mediocre for Power Pop, fortunately, we've been spoilt recently. The quality of Greg Pope's albums can be included in the exceptions.
Greg offers up grown up Power Pop and did throughout those lean Noughties years, lyrics that aren't I love you, yes I do, my girl's left me and I'm sad. He builds melodic lyrics around killer hooks and he can play a mean guitar, not an obvious requisite for the genre.
It really is Pop for adults and his last album, Fanboy just doesn't let up. This isn't an album that's front ended it's a joy all the way through, a proper album. I don't need to mention individual songs because you'll want to listen to it all the way through.
To these ears, it's better than the previous Pop Monster and that's some compliment. I'd put him in the same camp as the likes of Nick Piunti. I have no idea why Power Pop doesn't sell millions of albums or why Greg Pope isn't much bigger.
I should start a campaign to change that.
You can listen to the album here. You can also find out more about Greg, keep up with the latest news and find direct links to buy the album here
At the very least give the album's openerNew Beginninga spin.
Over it's eight years, ASH has always celebrated the current bands that don't get enough acknowledgement and the great lost bands, of which there are far too many.
Last night I pulled out Richmond VA's Single Bullet Theory's one album from 1983. I'd forgotten how good it is and after one listen, for the first time in a long while, I was hooked all over again.
The plan today was to write a short article telling you how good they were and how great the album is. In the meantime, I dug out an article by Mad Dog for Richmond's ThroTTle Magazine in the late 80's. It had been republished on his website.
It makes far more sense to republish this in depth analysis of their career. Perhaps band members who wish to add anything will add even more information to it.
Mad Dog also published a discography here.
You can download some of their early recordings freehere. The Vinyl album can be bought on the likes of Discogsfor around 5 dollars.
The album has never had a CD or digital release. I have taken the liberty of ripping it to 320 mp3. If the band agree, I can post that for readers.
In the meantime, here's Mad Dog's lengthy article. A Big Thank You for allowing us to use this.
1976 - 1997 Formative Years
There are two types of rock n' roll bands in Richmond these days: Top-40 and Art-rock. Top-40 is easy to find. It's everywhere. Art-rock begins on the VCU campus and germinates at the Back Door, the String Factory, and the warehouse parties. If you don't know about it you shouldn't be there anyway. Bands sprout up with names like Big Naptar, Titfield Thunderbolt, Coral Gables and X-Breed. They learn about rock n' roll while experimenting. Fun stuff like playing keyboards with lobsters, drums with dead mackerels, and gut-wrenching feedback using televisions and walkie-talkies.
X-Breed is a band with a future, but not by that name. The personnel changes start. Dennis Madigan (drums), Michael Maurice Garrett (vocals) and Frank Daniel (guitar) are joined by Gary Alan "Goober" Holmes (guitar) and Davey Wynn (bass).
The new band is named Single Bullet Theory.
1978 - The First Record
The clubs want bands that play Top-40. Single Bullet Theory is hard-headed from day one, playing original material sprinkled with obscure cover songs. Since they don't know many songs yet, they have another band open up for them. Give me a break. No one puts on a double bill in a club.
Influenced by an English movement where bands are putting out their own records, they record at Alpha Audio in Richmond and Willow Mill Studios in Washington, DC. More personnel changes. During the recording Davey leaves, "Mudd" Herman joins on guitar, and Frank shifts to bass. Their EP on the Artifacts label has a cover drawing of President Kennedy's car on that fateful day in Dallas. It's drawn with an Etch-A-Sketch.
Changes come before the album can even be pressed. "Mudd" has schizoid musical interests, playing jazz with Child's Play and rock with SBT. The "Bullet Boys" want a committed band so they advise him to leave, bringing Keith MacPhee aboard on bass while Frank shifts back to guitar and keyboards. "Mudd"'s picture still shows up on the record jacket.
1979 - Getting Somewhere
The record says Michael Maurice Garrett, but the band calls him Mike. Or Mikey. Transplanted from North Carolina, he has a degree in commercial art from VCU. Michael wears a Prince Valiant haircut and plays a guitar with only five strings because the sixth string gets in his way. He writes music for art's sake and sings with angst, combining the two in a stuttering signature song called "Anxious".
The record gets good reviews from Trouser Press and underground fanzines around the country. The band makes the Big Trek to New York City where they play at Hurrah, the Peppermint Lounge, and an opening slot for Patti Smith. They still have day-jobs, jumping in the van on weekends to play New York City and returning to Richmond on time to make work on Monday morning. "We're starting to get somewhere," says Madigan.
The Long Run picks up importance along with its companion, Getting Somewhere. The band needs that ultimate goal. To fool themselves, if need be, into thinking that they're getting somewhere. And to believe that they can do it. They need these dreams, this naiveté, to Make It, which is the grand finale that Getting Somewhere and the Long Run are leading to. Everyone must be in it for the duration, for the good of the band.
Tension builds between several band members. Keith isn't writing songs while Frank is, making Frank more important. Keith is asked to leave. This type of thinking is a mistake, Madigan later admits, "but at the time it made sense." Mark Lewis joins the band on guitar and Frank moves back to bass.
Dennis Madigan likes to appear gruff and hard. He's very opinionated, displaying the trademark Single Bullet Theory hard-headedness. It's apparent that he and Michael are the driving force behind the band. They work well together. One of them is always psyched enough to keep everyone going. But when The Buzz is on, the band stays psyched without anyone's help.
The Buzz has a mysterious way of travelling quickly and anonymously through the music world. You go to sleep one night and no one's even heard of you, then you wake up the next morning to discover that The Buzz is all over the street. One day no one will talk to you, the next day you're everyone's darling. And opportunities fall from the sky like manna when people hear The Buzz.
Thanks to The Buzz, Single Bullet Theory is asked to be on a compilation of new bands to be released by Planet Records and distributed by Elektra/Asylum. Called "Sharp Cuts", the album is subtitled "New music from American bands" and includes songs by Bates Motel and the dB's.
The band goes to Washington DC's No Evil Studios and records Garrett and Holmes' "Keep It Tight". The band thinks it sounds great, but the Powers-That-Be in Los Angeles decide that it's too "hot" to fit with the other songs on the album, so they remix it in LA. SBT thinks the new mix has watered down the song, but hell, they're on a nationally released album, aren't they?
The Buzz grows louder as reviewers, including Dave Marsh in Rolling Stone, pick "Keep It Tight" as the best song on the album. When Planet Records decides to release the song as a single, the band heads cross-country in a mobile home to remix the song and record one for the flipside.
1982 - The Big Chance
A producer's job is to work with the band to capture the best performance and presentation of their music. Some people say a producer can make an artist. On the other hand, they can also break them.
Bill Schnee is a slick West Coast producer who's on a hot streak. And Paramount's Studio 55 has history: Bing Crosby recorded "White Christmas" there. Schnee bops in for the first session wearing a jogging suit and toting a backgammon board under his arm, telling the band that he wants to mix their song without them in the studio. You see, Schnee likes to work alone. Welcome to Los Angeles.
The band records the new song without Schnee. He sends an assistant to the studio who reads the newspaper while the band records. Richard Perry, president of Planet Records, never stops by either; he's busy taking photographs of the Pointer Sisters in his Art Deco living room. This studio's like an alien planet to the band, the producer and record company don't seem to care, and the band plays terribly. The tapes sound like, well, Black Christmas.
"They want conformity," Michael says. "They want us to fit their mold." The band hears Schnee's mix of "Keep It Tight", which sounds more like an L.A. band doing a laid-back version of the song than Single Bullet Theory. Michael and Dennis hate it and don't hesitate to tell Schnee. He picks up his backgammon board, walks out, and tells Perry that this is the most difficult band he's ever worked with. So much for honesty.
Back at the hotel the band gets an offer to open for the Pretenders on their first Canadian Tour: one show in Toronto and one in Montreal. Starting in two days. Tired of fighting in L.A., the band loads up the mobile home and heads for Canada.
Their manager, Craig "Flash" Otero, calls Perry from the side of the road in Omaha, discovering that life in L.A. has been smoothed over. While Mark thinks they should go back, play the game, and finish the project, the rest of the band disagrees. They think that playing the two shows with the Pretenders will do them more good than a record that doesn't sound like the band. Besides, they were told that if they did well in Canada they would get some dates on the next American tour.
Their first single dies on a highway in Omaha.
A band needs something to keep it going. In the beginning it's dreams, later opportunities. If the dreams turn to nightmares, you can always find comfort in The Next Big Thing. And for Single Bullet Theory the Next Big Thing is never far away.
The Pretenders' booking agency is impressed by the Canadian shows, setting up a series of small tours opening for the likes of the Ramones and Simple Minds. Memories of L.A. slip away as the gigs get better. "We're actually getting somewhere," Madigan says.
The Buzz brings them a whole string of Next Big Things. Mike Curb, who's label is distributed by Warner Bros., wants to sign the band and re-record "Keep It Tight". The band wants the single released with a picture sleeve to increase its visibility, but Curb says it will cost too much. The band offers to pay for the picture sleeve out of their pocket, which for some reason insults the label. Say goodbye to Mike Curb Productions.
Next comes ex-Zombie Paul Atkinson at Columbia Records, who also wants to sign the band. Well-known English rocker Dave Edmunds agrees to produce the band, so SBT finds themselves in a CBS studio in New York with a staff producer to record five songs to send to Edmunds. "We're finally there," Madigan says, "This is it."
Signing a band to a record contract sounds simple, but few record company people have The Power. The Lesser People ask you to return to New York so someone with The Power can hear you, but then The-Man-With-The-Power's wife gets sick and he doesn't show up. Even those who do have The Power need just about everyone else's approval first. Atkinson has The Power, but has to clear it with The Ultimate Power. Label Vice President Mickey Eichner is going to check out the band in the CBS recording studio so he can give them Final Approval. If he okays it, the project's a go.
The CBS studio. Band members are isolated from each other by huge soundproof baffles. The sound in the control room has no effects on it, so everything sounds dead. No one, but no one, should hear a band like this. Eichner comes in and the band sounds terrible.
They're treated to a free dinner and sent home.
Now Patrick Clifford of Nemperor Records takes a liking to the band, as does label President Nat Weiss. The band plays some dates with the Romantics, another band Nemperor is interested in signing. The Romantics get the record contract.
There comes a time when the Little Things that keep a band going start to disappear. Like when creativity meets The Business. Like losing money driving back and forth to New York so you'll Be Seen. Like waiting. Like playing jobs where seven people show up because no one's ever heard of you. And each time, a little more of The Fun disappears until you start to lose sight of why you're doing it. You begin to lose faith in the Record Industry.
Mark Lewis knows what they need to do to get The Contract, but the rest of the band disagrees. Mark leaves the band to start The Dads, followed closely by Frank Daniel.
Mick Muller came to Richmond from New York with a degree in drama and a few years of touring the R&B circuit behind him. The stage is his first love; he just wants to perform. A tall bass player who looks like a rocker, Mick joins the band and Michael starts playing more guitar.
Until now the band has been largely a guitar band, but it's time to add a new dimension to the music. Barry C Fitzgerald has known the band for years, playing keyboards in the early art-band days with Titfield Thunderbolt and spending three years as a set designer at a local dinner theatre. He joins the band on keyboards.
Record companies are in no hurry. As Greg Wetzel, ex-Good Humor Band and Nighthawks, once said, "Bands are like stagecoaches, there's another one coming along in an hour." After all, a record company's career doesn't rely on you, though yours may rely on them.
Tired of waiting for the record companies, the band goes to Alpha Audio in Richmond with producers Carlos Chafin and Barry Gottlieb to record a nine-song demo tape. The band begins a cross-country tour opening for the Pretenders while the tape is taken around to nineteen record companies.
1983 - The Album
There are two big dates with the Pretenders in New York: the Palladium and The Ritz. The demo tape and the tour are feeding The Buzz. A number of record companies check out the shows. Nemperor Records, which is distributed by CBS, is finally convinced. "We're signed," says Madigan, "We've made it."
Here's the deal: The band puts up the money for recording, while Nemperor/CBS presses, promotes, and markets the record. Rob Freeman, who co-produced the Go-Go's first album is hired to produce. He knows nothing about the band and has never even seen them live. "It's the biggest mistake we ever make in the music business," says Madigan.
Summer is spent recording the album at North Lake Studios outside New York City. The band is psyched, but that soon changes. Freeman starts playing mind games with the band, pitting member against member to get what he wants. The band decides to conform just so they can get the record out.
About halfway through the sessions they know something's wrong, but as far as Richmond hears, everything's going great. The band decides that none of them will record without another band member in the room so they can't be played against each other. The sessions get better, but it's too late. Nemperor doesn't like the mix, so Tony Bongiovi, whiz kid from the Power Station in New York City, re-mixes "Keep It Tight".
The band isn't happy. "It's a pop album," Michael says, "but we're not a pop band." It's out of control.
The album is scheduled to be released in November, then delayed until January. They sign a booking deal with the DMA Agency in Detroit and go on the road with Adam Ant's first major American tour, playing 28 cities across the country. It should be great, but it isn't. Before this they'd always worked with bands that took them under their wing. But this time it's different. They only get to use two stage lights and half of the sound system. Midway through the tour they're bummed out, and it shows on stage. "The tour bus is starting to resemble a rolling bar," says Barry C. When fire ants attack their bus in Texas they take it as an omen.
Things are happening too fast. Until now they'd worked with people they knew and trusted; people who understood the band. Now their booking, promotion, and careers are being handled by people who see them as just another band. SBT doesn't take full advantage of the tour, and they begin to lose support at CBS. 1984 - Hurry Up And Wait
The album is released on January 19th. Once again "Keep It Tight" is the song. The single hits #78 on the Billboard Top 100. The band shoots a video of the song with director Jerry Williams. It makes it on MTV. They watch their record get rated on American Bandstand. "Things are looking good," says Madigan.
The band tours by themselves to support the record, headlining clubs they swore they'd never return to. "We have an illogical passion to play music," says Barry C. But no one knows who they are without promotion, which is now handled by CBS. And CBS won't give them any posters or advertising until they start to sell records. It just doesn't make sense. The tour's a stiff.
Nemperor and CBS decide not to put any more money behind "Keep It Tight" as a single. Instead, they want to put out "Hang On To Your Heart", the only song on the album the band didn't write. They claim it's The Single. The band shoots a video of the song with Jon Parks of Mirage Productions.
But the single is never released. With no explanation. Is all the money going behind "new" projects like Culture Club or Michael Jackson's "Thriller"? "It must be politics," says Madigan.
The video gets on MTV and HBO anyway, but that's not enough. The Next Big Thing becomes harder to find. They're supposed to tour with Dave Edmunds but they'd lose money if they did. And they're all broke. Besides, there's no record to support anymore.
Gary Alan Holmes leaves the band, and music, because he's worn down. It gives him a head start on straightening out his life. Frank Daniel rejoins the band.
Brian Coffman spent nine years with a band in Springfield, MO which he felt had run its course. Through a friend of the band he's offered an audition with Single Bullet Theory, a band with a national release, a tour with the Pretenders on the horizon, and a second album coming up. A band with a future. Brian is very quiet, very nice and a very good guitar player. He moves to Richmond and joins the band.
Life is at a standstill. The Pretenders tour is delayed by Chrissie Hynde's pregnancy. The booking agency wants them to play clubs, but why bother if no one knows who they are? Shouldn't they be writing and playing music while their record company promotes them? "The hardest part is waiting," says Mick. "Waiting for the contract, the record, the cushy gigs and the tours. We're a band; we should go out and play no matter what."
Instead they decide to move on to the second album, which they are assured they can do. They work up new material which the label likes, but they need a good demo tape. They pay two producers to come down from NY and record the songs.
Even the standstill begins to unravel. The Pretenders tour goes on without them because they don't have a new album to promote. They work on new songs and rarely perform in public. The record company stops talking to them, not even giving them an opinion of the new tape. Believing has always gotten them through before. Believing in the band and believing in the music. But now they don't know who or what to believe. Frank departs again.
The record company gives them an offer: They will pay for the recording, but the band has to pay the producers and match the promotion budget. It's a small step ahead of the last deal, but stacked against the band. They still have to prove themselves to the record company.
The band used to have confidence, but that was before several producers tried to change them into something they're not. Now the band has to pay the producer, but the record company won't let them choose who they want to work with. Not if they want a guarantee that the album will be released, anyway. They like their new-found producers, but CBS wants a Big Name.
They talk to other record companies, trying to find someone who likes them for what they are. But they've come too far for that. They're now in direct competition with acts like the Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen. With a major label, their new album will get three weeks to either sink or swim. If the record stiffs it's over, history, "next band!". They can't face ending like that. They want it to end under their control.
They've finally lost the ability to dream, to believe that they could make a record so great that it couldn't be denied. When they lost their innocence they also lost their inspiration. They don't like the new record business, yet their only choices are to become a part of it or start over.
After a year with the band, Brian has yet to tour or record an album. He's starting to drift, losing the desire to play. He tells the band that he intends to leave, but will stay with them until they find a new guitar player.
Three days after Brian gives his notice they hold a band meeting to discuss the record company's offer. They each realize that they have other interests which have been on hold. "There are a lot of things I still want to accomplish with the band," Michael says, "but everyone's worn down. I never realized how much everyone wanted to call it quits."
The second album is never recorded. They disband.
1985 - The New Starts
Michael Maurice Garrett worked full-time for about a year. He now handles freelance art assignments and DJ's at Domino's Dog House. He doesn't want to be in a band and he doesn't want to perform. He's writing songs for the sake of the song now, not for a specific band and he's recording the songs with different musicians, including some from Single Bullet Theory. He's busier now than ever. "I feel reborn," he says. "We accomplished a lot and I'm proud of what we did. But we're independent again. We're finally in control of our lives."
Mick Muller spent some time performing with The Bopcats, playing on studio sessions, and recording demos of his songs. He's now working full-time and has joined a band which plays R&B cover songs. "I saw what it was like to be in the Big Time," says Mick, "and I enjoyed it. Personally, it was a total success."
Barry C Fitzgerald is an art director and set designer for advertising, film, and video projects. He's assembled a home recording studio and is taping his songs. "I want to play music for fun," he says, "but not as a career. Going Big Time almost killed the fun and enjoyment, and I won't let that happen again." Since Single Bullet Theory broke up he's put a stop to his drinking problem.
Brian Coffman, who joined late and "missed all the fun", spent several months working a nine-to-five job in Richmond before moving to Los Angeles to form a new group with several of his old bandmates from Springfield, MO.
Gary Alan Holmes dropped out of both the music scene and general circulation. He recently graduated from Key Business College where he studied Computer Science. From time to time his friends get mysterious messages from him in the mail.
Dennis Madigan put together a new band, She Said, which has since disbanded. He's now working with Barry C on set design and construction as well as crew work for advertising and film productions. "I ended up with the same goals, dreams and attitudes as when I started, but I've learned a lot," explains Madigan. "I feel like I'm in the same place I was in 1973, except I know a lot more."
"Dreams, naiveté and belief are important," Madigan continues, "because the record business will change all that for you quickly. You can't survive on dreams. You've got to be realistic. But that's exactly why Single Bullet Theory broke up. We got too realistic. We got to the point where we couldn't dream anymore."
"But I'm just about fed up enough at the current state of music to try the dream all over again."
This article appeared in ThroTTle in the late 80's. A further update on what the band were doing appeared in the late 90's. Perhaps any band member might like to update us further.
Michael Garrett is a freelance artist who plays music with friends purely for fun.
Dennis Madigan left Richmond and is co-owner of Get Set, a set design and construction company.
Mick Muller is playing with the Janet Martin Band. He produced her newest CD and wrote many of the songs on it.
Barry C Fitzgerald moved to Key West where he works as a photographer and set designer.
Gary Alan Holmes is working in the health industry and living with his fiancee, Ginger, in Midlothian, VA.
Brian Coffman is living in Los Angeles playing with Judy Judy Judy and working as the controller for a radio station.
We've loved The Explorers Club since 2008's Freedom Wind. Jason Brewer has the harmonic hooks nailed and this continued on to 2012's Grand Hotel. The new album is the best yet.
There's always been Beach Boys comparisons and rightly so, probably more so here. The harmonies are from a by gone era, but one that should be revived. We listen to so much clever clever music, particularly Psych Pop wise and Power Pop bands with hooks and songs about a girl who has left them, it's refreshing to hear such well made pop.
The band has developed from Surf Pop into more complex harmony arrangements. We are always looking out for that great summer album, something that catches the optimism and hope, this is this years.
But don't think it's all Beach Boys, this will appeal to West Coast devotees and those who thought The Feeling only had one album in them.
The opener, Together is really soulful, followed by the lead single, California's Calling Ya, which is more of what they are about. Once In A While is the stand out, great pop and there's also contemplative moments on Quietly and the closer, Before I'm Gone.
It's a short album, but we like that. We've long been advocates of say what you've got to say and no more. CD's demise is regrettable but it has cut down on the all filler no killer format of albums.
You should march down to your record shop, sorry get your mouse fingers clicking and buy this now. The world will look and sound a better place.
It's also great that Wyatt Funderburk is now on board. We've been long term admirers since Pendletones' Forty-Nine Per Cent, an amazing album for a then 17 year old. His Second Saturday stuff is amazing, Here's The Deal being one of our favourite albums from 2011 and his 2013 solo album, Novel And Profane is ace.
He's also a noted producer of the likes of Linus Of Hollywood, Bowling For Soup and Silver Sun.
You can pick up Together at the usual online places, but please support your local record shop / independent mail order guy if you can.
The Explorers Club are on FacebookandTwitter. They are also onBandcampwhere you can pick up the excellent Freedom Wind album.
You can also visit Wyatt Funderburk'sBandcampsite where he is offering extended versions of both Second Saturday albums at Name Your Price. You can also buy his 8 releases in high quality digital formats for the bargain price of $21.60.
As the street cred amongst you will know, Anything Should Happen has been around for about eight years with it's fingers in all sorts. We've attempted to do something public properly for a while, but other projects have got in the way.
We had planned to revive Anything Should Happen Again after the summer, but the clamour for us to return has meant us moving quicker and so setting up this basic Blog to get us going.
The fact that I'm rubbish at html has nothing to do with it, but on a more serious note, we get sent loads of stuff to review and there has to be a public web presence instead of the scatter gun approach.
The reluctance to get this back up soon was largely due to it needing a daily commitment, but we think we can do that now. We will also get it looking more professional as the days / weeks/ months go on. Any help is appreciated with that.
So you'll get the usual news, reviews, gigs and opinion. There'll be guest writers too.
The Facebook following has grown and grown on my side and I need to channel those interested to a stand alone area. So as well as here, we've set up a dedicated Facebook group. It's there if you need it as I know comments on Blogs are hard to get.
As well as those guest articles, we will also raid the ASH Archive for still relevant articles and interviews, particularly on days when inspiration is low.
All the rest of the stuff continues in the ASH world, but this is the public face and an area that we hope will become vibrant.