Dec 242015

Gordon_Duthiefeat Reviewed by Duncan Harley.

Described by Tom Robinson on BBC Radio 6 as “Wildly different but never not interesting”, Gordon Duthie has yet again hit the sweet spot with the release of his new album Dunt Dunt Dunt Dunt.

In this, his fourth album release, the NE singer/songwriter/musician reflects on work-related themes and engages in an often humorous take on club dance music to get his point across.

A year in the making, this new offering looks deeply into the soulless existence of those micromanaged Gen-X Millennials who, says Gordon:

“will IM you. Then ignore you to your face … Millennials have no empathy and are socially a bit awkward … social media has pretty much changed the world”.

The noun ‘dunt’ can of course be used in various contexts.

“In Aberdeen at the moment lots of people are getting the dunt and it affects everyone engaged in the oil business either directly via job losses or indirectly to do with the threat of redundancy,” says Gordon.

It can also be a wake up call. The pounding lyrics of Hadephobia refer to the sky falling in – a clear reference to getting the dunt big time:

“I looked and saw the fear in your eyes, like a long hot summer, burning the sky.”

Dead Dreams reflects on “Sitting for hours in a solid chair, listening to a man who sold his life … dead dreams inside us, fight an old child’s mind.”

“It’s about PowerPoint Hell” says Gordon, “we’ve all sat through it.”

In Young Kenny – A melodious but slightly mournful piece – Gordon describes a composite character struggling with isolation and loneliness. “Young Kenny didn’t know who he was … it all came to a head … the mystical beauty of the coast, brought his mind back again.”

With previous albums Thran, Shire and City and Multimedia Monster under his belt, Westhill-based Gordon’s new release is a powerful mix of social comment set solidly within a framework of electric ambient club music.

As Gordon himself says, the lyrics

“Wink nicely at local events.”

Mixed and Mastered by Thaddeus Moore of Sprout City Studios, Dunt Dunt Dunt Dunt is available from most digital music stores and also direct from Gordon at

First published in the December Leopard Magazine.

Aug 252015

Koozie Johns has a musical career spanning decades and genres; he’s worked with a wide spectrum of the UK’s top talents. His latest offering is the recently released Folk Grinder album, ‘The Devil’s Mariner’ produced by Kirk Brandon. A second single, ‘Captain Johnny Clash’ is set for release shortly. Koozie talks to Aberdeen Voice’s Suzanne Kelly about music, muses, outlaws, his personal battle with Fibromyalgia and more.

Koozie Johns (4)Koozie Johns sounds pretty happy and relaxed when I phone. What I thought would be the 15 minute interview I normally do turned into 40 minutes, and could have gone on longer if not for my having another appointment. Johns has been in and out of various bands and musical projects for many years.

How do you get from a childhood near the Forest of Dean to creating punk rock songs of the sea for the 21st century?

Folk Grinder’s website describes the music:

“There are songs about pain and addiction, love and loss, songs that will embrace you with nautical tales of the sea and far away shores, sailor dives and dancing girls. Songs to redeem your soul to, to start over to, Songs for fallen comrades and long lost loved ones, songs to drink and be merry to or drown your sorrows to, you choose in fact there’s a song for everyone.

“A blend of upbeat shanty rhythms, punk folk, skiffle rock’n’roll, shades of rockabilly and Americana tremolo.’Skulls and bones stitched and sewn all by the hand of a drunken sailor’. HEAVE HO!!!”

The recent material seen in the two Folk Grinder albums is where a traditional sea shanty gets into bed with punk, folk, rock, cabaret and a bit of country. But how/why/how did this unique genre spring to life?

Koozie, how did sea shanties come to inspire your writing?

“Some years ago from 2005-07, I was living in Los Angeles – a place called Redondo Beach – in a lovely old 1920s wooden beach house. From the porch I could see the ocean and I used to sit there, play guitar and I’d drift off into a fantasy world of 18th century sailors, to the time of sail and tall ships.

“I wrote a batch of shanty-esque style songs like ‘England Dreaming’ which is on the first Folk Grinder album, a song I wrote about missing home my beloved, and dear old Blighty. Before I knew it I’d ended up writing an album’s worth of shanties and songs of the sea . I was inspired, living within the sound and sight of the ocean. 

“In some ways the life of a musician is not that dissimilar to being a sailor I guess, with regards to being away from home a lot, missing one’s loved ones or sometimes not….. looking for the unexpected or escapism and I’d say drinking certainly plays a part at some point. Every voyage, tour and show an adventure that holds something new just like a sailors tour of duty.

“When I was 17 I worked as a house painter with a former WW2 naval veteran a character by the name of Blondey Jackson a cockney that spoke old school rhyming slang which I had to learn fast in order to keep up with conversation. Every lunch time he’d tell me sailor stories of shore leave adventures, show me the faded tattoos on his arms and old faded war time photos, I look back on that time very fondly I learnt a lot from him and remember the stories well.”

The album is mainly songs of lost and found loves, and Johns’ personal experiences seem to inform most of it. I mention this and comment ‘you must have been busy.

“I’ve had quite a colourful life. With every relationship I have I do on average get about three songs out of them. [ We have a laugh over that]. 

Koozie Johns (3)“It’s not what I wanted. I wanted to meet the right girl and be with the right girl, but it’s never worked out for me for whatever reason.

“It’s hard having relationships being a musician and I guess I ain’t that good at them or easy to live with [laughs].

“I’m better off with a dog I think, if only human beings had the hearts of dogs …..  forever pleased to see you, loyal and total unconditional love …… maybe the next album will be an album of sea-dog songs.

“When you’re in a band and in that world you’re in a bubble – your own universe – sometimes it can be very hard on your partner as well as hard on yourself stepping in and out of two worlds so to speak.

“The trick is to find the right balance and the right girl I suppose ….. but not all the songs are about a failed love life ….. there’s other types of songs to drown your sorrows or rip it up to like the new single release ‘Captain Johnny Clash’ which is an upbeat folk punk shanty dedicated to Joe Strummer and other artists I’ve been inspired by that used to dress in black a lot.”

 I ask him about Folk Grinder’s live line up

“We’re a trio at the moment but the fG crew changes about sometimes pending on the type of voyage and who’s available at time of enlistment. On skiffle snare, percussion and bv’s there’s my old friend Chris Musto; who I’ve played with in a number of bands, working with him before with former Sex Pistol, Glen Matlock in a band called The Philistines as well as in past bands Shot and Sinnerstar.

“Chris is a very talented musician, drummer, artist in his own right. He’s played with Joe Strummer, Kim Wilde and Johnny Thunders to name a few and currently plays with The Bermondsey Joyriders who I really like. The man’s even been blessed by the Rock’n’Roll legend ‘Little Richard’ now how cool is that?

“On accordion, trumpet and bv’s is Helen Kane – who has recently come on board taking over accordion live duties from Folk Grinder’s Miro Snejdr. Helen was a former Marilyn Monroe cabaret performer/singer and session player a very talented lady indeed. Then of course myself on acoustic guitars and lead vocals.

When I saw Folk Grinder play in May, it was something of a first – a girl singing backing vocals and playing accordion with a three-piece doing updated sea shanties. “There’s definitely something special about her,” I suggest, “well, with the whole act.” Koozie agrees:

“Yes, we all have a good chemistry together that works very well. On both Folk Grinder albums produced by the legendary Kirk Brandon of Spear of Destiny/Theatre of Hate fame, the albums feature female backing vocals on many songs.

“Kirk introduced me to the idea of having female backing vocals on the recordings and so a trio of talented sirens were brought on board in the form of singer Tracie Hunter (daughter of Mott the Hoople front man Ian Hunter) Former Westworld singer Elizabeth Westwood and singer songwriter and gospel singer Phoebe White collectively known as The Rebelles.

Koozie Johns (6)“The female backing vocals and harmonies really added and complimented to the fG skiffle stripped back sound , they did a fantastic job on the recordings. So when the delightful Helen Kane came on board to play accordion and showed off her vocal talents it was a perfect addition for the live shows with having the female backing vocals in place.

“We all vibe off each other very well, which is especially important with a small live line-up.”

Fibromyalgia, the incurable nerve disease with uncertain cause and unpredictable symptoms hit Koozie Johns not long ago. Inevitably it has impacted every aspect of his life including his music. I offer to leave the subject out of our talk, but he had quite a bit to say on the matter. It seems to me that his comments are useful to sufferers and their friends and families.

“I recently played a charity event to help raise awareness and research funding for The Fibromyalgia Association, where I chose to speak publicly for the first time about my dealings with the illness. I got diagnosed at the end of 2009 and I hadn’t heard of it before. I knew nothing about it, so it’s been a bit of a journey. It’s a very debilitating illness with no cure and I’d wish it upon no one it’s life changing and robs you of so much. Doctors tell me it’s a mystery as to the cause. Apparently something traumatic or an intensive stress situation can trigger it.

“Fibromyalgia is basically chronic widespread pain with chronic fatigue, my everyday normal is like waking up with the aches and fatigue of a heavy bout of flu only it’s not flu, you don’t get better. The nervous system constantly misfires wrong messages around the body to and from the brain causing horrendous levels of pain in joints, muscles and nerve endings and if that isn’t bad enough there are up to 200 other symptoms on top. 

“Every day is a roll of the dice to see how well you can be. You caught me on a good day; it can affect my speech, my walking, balance and concentration a thing that’s called brain fog as well as there are severe sensory overload problems. I probably get around 60 other symptoms on top of chronic widespread pain and fatigue.

“My exhaustion rate is five times that higher than a normal person. It’s a very difficult illness to cope with; very tough. I’m learning about it more everyday and one thing I’ve learnt is how important it is to have a focus and to try and keep a positive drive is essential for survival. No matter how hard never give up.

“I’m in and out of pain clinics trying various treatments and learning how to manage an adapted life whilst in constant severe pain 24/7 – 365 days a year. In 2011 I woke up one morning and my legs wouldn’t work properly and for a while wasn’t able to stand, I then lost the ability to play guitar which was even more devastating and sent me off somewhere very dark. I thought my career was done and finished I thought I was finished too. 

“I figured I could either lay there cry and give up or fight back and so i fought back and relearned to play guitar. I did it a chord a day then a few chords building it up slowly until I could play a verse then a chorus and then eventually a whole song it took me eight months until I could manage around ten songs and slowly I improved from there. 

Koozie Johns (2)“My hands can sometimes feel swollen or even be swollen they can feel like they’ve been hit with hammers sometimes it feels like I have gloves on so the touch sensation has changed for me, as well as having stiffness and pain in all joints in my fingers and wrists and hands.

“Same went for singing I had to totally relearn breathing control whilst singing, because when you’re in pain all the time you breathe differently, you tend to hold breath a bit and of course your fighting fatigue too. I decided to book two shows to work towards for the autumn of 2011. One in London and in one in my home town of Gloucester, thinking at the time they could possibly be my last shows. 

“The first show was at the world famous 12 Bar club formally on Denmark Street London WC2H.

[I sigh; it’s about 10 days since I saw the bulldozed space where one of my favourite London venues used to be near Tottenham Court Road tube. A few chain restaurants and stores will take its place. Just what we need]

“After the London show my friend and peer Kirk Brandon who was in attendance came up to me and said ‘I love your songs Kooz and want to produce you’. 

“I was gob smacked and totally honoured. He was unaware of my health condition at the time and the journey I had just undertaken. 

“He told me about when Mick Jones of The Clash approached him back in 80/81 and produced Theatre of Hate (achieving the hit single ‘Do you believe in the Westworld’) Kirk spoke of how that had helped and enabled him to have an ongoing career that led on to Spear of Destiny. Kirk said he’d reached a point in his life where he wanted to return the favour, I was so taken aback.

“He said to me ‘You’ve played with lots of artists, but you deserve to be out there in your own right doing your own stuff, and I want to help you’. We’ve now done two fantastic albums together and he’s taught me alot. He threw a lifeline to me when I really needed it for which I am eternally grateful. I am lucky to have some good people around me – lovely, lovely people – and very talented friends and guests feature on both Folk Grinder albums.”

On the new Folk Grinder album ‘The Devil’s Mariner’, singer, song writer Koozie Johns’ lead vocals, acoustic guitar and tremolo guitars are joined by:

Guest backing vocals – Tracie Hunter, Phoebe White and Elizabeth Westwood collectively known as The Rebelles.
Guest guitar – Will Crewdson (Adam Ant/Rachel Stamp/Scant Regard).
Skiffle snare and percussion – Chris Musto (The Bermondsey Joyriders/Joe Strummer/Johnny Thunders/The Philistines) and shipmates Darrin Stevens and Igor Marjanovic.
Double bass – Kurt Barnes (King Kurt/The Grit).
Guest harmonica and Gothic saw – Jules Lawrence (Fat 45’s)
Violin – Sharon Forbes.
Accordion and piano is performed by fG shipmate Miro Snejdr. 

“I’ve discovered Playing music actually lowers my pain levels by about 40%: the adrenalin and serotonin levels go up as I play– it actually helps; it’s something that keeps me going but I do have to pace myself and be careful as there can be quite a physical payback afterwards.

Koozie Johns (5)“Having the focus of music enables me to battle the illness a lot better than without. I had to learn to adapt because I became unable to work with loud guitars and loud drums due to the severe sensory overload problems I get with the Fibromyalgia. In order to continue playing music I went for the skiffle stripped back acoustic approach I have with folk Grinder which I really love, I adore the simplicity of it.

“It’s been a difficult decision whether to open up or not publicly about my illness but the stress of trying to pretend and hide it all the time was making me more ill, especially when I started to use a waking cane due to having daily falls.

“People were thinking I was wasted all the time and drunk. Awareness is really needed, educate yourselves, educate others, anyone that will listen a cure needs to be found.

“I attended a seminar two years ago. A Fibromyalgia specialist Dr from Canada came over to talk; he discovered from his research that 70% of the deaths of Fibromyalgia patients was from suicide and that horrified me – absolutely horrified me. I understand the dark places you go to sometimes from the amount of pain you get.

“But when I found that out – about people killing themselves because of too much pain – I was just so upset I thought I have to do something very positive and show people with chronic pain and other chronic illnesses which are affectively invisible illnesses what can be achieved by having some kind of focus.

I’m stunned by these revelations, and while I had heard Johns had an illness of some sort, I’d no idea it was Fibromyalgia or much of an idea what the issues were. His descriptions of what it is like for him – and the importance of his focus – his music- to him in dealing with the disease provide an insight into this disease I hadn’t heard of before.

The talk turns to music again; We talk about the 12 Bar, and the diminishing number of live music venues. The 12 Bar on Denmark Street in London was a historic, centuries old forge turned into intimate music venue. A petition signed by tens of thousands failed to save this club – but has saved nearby buildings.

“I had a close connection with the 12 Bar club years before it opened as a club. The actual forge (that was the live room) dated back to the mid 1600’s was a store room/workshop, for the famous Andy’s guitar shop that was once next door and who had originally leased it. When playing in bands with former employees of Andy’s i used it as an occasional store room for the odd amplifier and speaker cabinet.

“I remember going in for the first time and thinking – ‘wow what a great little club this would make’. That was in the late‘80s and by the ‘90s it had become a little club that started off as a former gin alley back street word of mouth club and the actual bar was only probably about a metre long.

Koozie talks of old line-ups at the 12 Bar and tunnels underneath.

“[The tunnels] were used during the plague; they were transporting plague victims so as not to alarm people above; and buried plague victims in the area. At one time I was assistant manager there for a while and one day after lock up, we thought we’d have a look. We went down into the kitchen where in a store cupboard there was a piece of timber on the side wall; we pulled that off and behind that was an entrance to the tunnels.

Koozie Johns (1)“Part of it was bricked up and filled with rusty old fridges and stuff, but you could get quite a sense of what it was like.

“I had friends visit me this afternoon who made the documentary ‘The demise of Denmark Street’ and we were talking about the destruction of peoples communities that’s on the increase from all the redevelopments going on in London and one thing people don’t realise is there was a huge community that had its heart ripped out by the loss of the original 12 Bar Club and the music studios that once stood behind in Denmark Place.

“For myself and many others it was like a home from home and a bit of a safe house.

“Like many I miss it very much but have such great memories and a wealth of good friendships from it.

I realise too late I’ve not spent enough time talking about the new album. I think a second interview will be called for in the near future. We discuss some of the songs, and I mention the song from the new Folk Grinder album ‘Ballad of The Black Eyed Man’.

“ Ballad of The Black Eyed Man is a true story about a Texas outlaw by the name of William Longley. A friend of mine [Derry from EMF] his father Dick Brownson had studied and researched this Texas outlaw since the 70’s making several trips over to Texas talking with Longley descendants and then finally wrote this book about him called ‘Wild Bill Longley Texas Gun slinger’.

“He was responsible for getting a plaque put up for this outlaw finding his unmarked grave. William Longley came from a good family but after the Civil War like with so many, he couldn’t settle back into a normal kind of life. He killed a lot of people but in his words they were all bad people. Eventually he got caught, was imprisoned and sentenced to be hung.

“He was a very tall man with jet black eyes and a gallows sense of humour, he joked before he was hung saying to those stood to watch ‘Yes I deserve to die today for what I’ve done, but I am not a bad guy: I never stole a man’s horse’. I got really inspired by what I read and wrote the song which musically lends itself to an Americana genre. There’s been talk of it being made into a Hollywood movie.

The new Folk Grinder album ‘The Devil’s Mariner’ produced by Kirk Brandon is OUT NOW!!

Order your copy now exclusively from

I have to go; I hope I’m not too fast in closing out our call. If I didn’t have something else to get to – and if I wasn’t worried about taking up too much of his time – I’d have kept talking. I’ll make a point of doing so again sometime soon.

“No probs Suzanne hope this is okay for you and for the readers. I do hope not bland and that its an interesting enough article to read, a bit diverse in topics but hey that’s how life is for me.

I thank you again for your time and support I truly appreciate you listening.

Kind regards and a big Heeeeeeeeeeeave Ho!!!

Koozie x”

Apr 172015

Trouble With The Blues is the fourth album from the Gerry Jablonski Band. It’s a classic compendium racing up and down the full spectrum of The Blues, and it’s absolutely cracking. Suzanne Kelly stops listening to it long enough to review.

Trouble With The Blues CoverThe Gerry Jablonski Band has come up with their best album yet, although it’s not as if they’ve released any flawed albums before. Twist of Fate, their last album was rightly well received.

But on Trouble With The Blues, the high production values, writing, playing, solos and vocals have reached new, highly-gelled heights. My first initial reaction is that I must see them do this material live as soon as possible.

The lyrics run from playful, for example in ‘The Curse’, to heartbreakingly raw and painful.

This emotion comes in no small measure from the sad passing of the band’s long-standing percussionist Dave Innes, who tragically passed away one year ago after illness. The last piece, ‘I Confess’ puts me in mind of Hamlet’s famous soliloquy which painfully questions existence; if you hear the song, you’ll perhaps take my meaning.

In ‘I Confess’, the lyrics are initially filled with sorrow:

“I never felt this way before until my friend passed away”

– as direct and crushing as a lyric can get. As it reaches a crescendo, the lyrics increasingly expose more raw pain, self-contempt and anger mirrored in the poignant vocals. All the while the guitar grows correspondingly louder and more insistent.

It’s cathartic for anyone who’s had such a loss; such a person will identify with this song and likewise be moved. It’s incredibly honest, as is ‘Anybody.’

‘Anybody’ is also a mournful, classic blues. Clapton would have been happy to have come up with this song. The instrumentals are minimal, while Jablonski sings

“I’m only human after all.  I’ve been through my changes; don’t know which way to turn.  All my friends are doing fine.  So somebody, could be anybody, take me to the light.”

Jablonski - Credit - Peter Narojczyk (1)People are going to be singing along to this when they hear it live, I guarantee it. The only thing I’d say is that this sweet song is one I could imagine with a gospel choir on the chorus towards the end; i.e. the ‘Under The Bridge’ effect if you will. But other than that suggestion, I’ve no fault to find with this accomplished album.

Jablonski’s voice has never been in better form; the guitar work, and especially the guitar solos have also taken things up a notch. The title track ‘Trouble with the Blues’ has a scorcher of a solo, for instance.

But this album is a group effort, a team production. The entire band shares the song writing credits. There are polished bass lines and funky bass solos: ‘Trouble With The Blues’ has a great solo. Once again Peter Peter Narojczyk’s harmonica work is versatile, polished, expressive; Jerry Portnoy would approve. Lewis Fraser is now on the drums. He’s done a brilliant piece of work on this album. Mr Innes would approve.

I’ve dwelt on two melancholy, soul-baring tracks so far; but ultimately this album is celebratory.  ‘Lady & I’ is upbeat and sassy; ‘The Curse’ is great fun.  Then again so is ‘Fork Fed Dog’ – down, dirty, fun. I can imagine sets opening with this high-voltage track. It’s a tremendous track and I look forward to experiencing it live. ‘Big Bad World’ is a nice sharp bit of social commentary and a good showplace for Narojczyk, with a short but sharp Jablonski solo.

Live dates are indeed coming; for more information on this album and where to catch the Gerry Jablonski band, see the website here: . I also understand that a video is forthcoming, shot at least in part in Aberdeen’s D-Range recording studio.

Jablonski - Credit - Peter Narojczyk (3)There is a great deal of debate in Aberdeen now about what is or is not culture, and what Aberdeen’s greatest cultural assets are. This album is as strong a hint as you can possibly get on that score.

This is not a piece of work to listen to once and forget; it will be going on your iPod and going where you go.

Having seen their Facebook updates during the project, and how happy they were to be at Abbey Road, I must say I’m very happy they’ve come out with such a strong, varied, memorable work. Nice work, gentlemen.

Dec 112014

Peter Gabriel by Julie Thompson (2)Review and photographs by Julie Thompson.

I’m sure all those of use over a certain age have memories of Peter Gabriel, either from when he was part of Genesis or maybe because of that iconic ‘Sledgehammer’ video. A frosty Monday evening at the AECC brought around 4,600 people along with Peter and the original ‘So’ tour band, reunited again as part of the ‘Back to Front’ tour.

Peter came on stage to loud applause and introduced Swedes, Jennie Abrahamson (vocals & xylophone) & Linnea Olsson (vocals & cello).

These two have teamed up to as show openers on the North America and European legs of the tour, and also later provide backing vocals to the main show when the original support, Ane Brun, fell ill and had to withdraw. Jennie’s is the female voice we will later hear in ‘Don’t Give Up’.

As Peter explains, the show is served up like a meal of three courses. The starter course is an acoustic set of 4 songs, the first song, a new unfinished piece, involves just Peter on grand piano, Linnea on cello and David Levin on bass. By song four the whole band has been introduced and is on stage. The initial 3 songs are “performed with house lights up, like a rehearsal session” as explained by Peter. Part way through song 4 the lights go out and the show really kicks off.

Moving into the main course, we are treated to a monochromatic trip through the past, with various songs selected from his back catalogue.

On stage are several giant light booms, like oversized angle poise lamps, wheeled about by black clothed masked men. There are numerous small cameras – on the drum kit, on the microphones, on the boom lights, on poles extended by film crew – all beaming a very intimate and close up view of the band to the giant side screens.

The footage is cut live between cameras, with each song having a different effect applied – digitalisation, wire frame figures, slow motion superimposed on real time, psychedelic effects, white noise patterns – there is so much going on it is almost too much to watch. Totally immersive.

The boom lights join in the dance on stage, at one point Peter is interacting with one – they were used as mobile spotlights, emphasising the song ‘No Self Control’ and making the singer seem so alone up there, looking upwards almost as if he were pleading for help.

Peter Gabriel by Julie Thompson (3)There were lighter moments though, with ‘Solsbury Hill’ bringing out the playful side – which led to skipping with his playmates, Tony Levin & David Rhodes.

Part three of the show, the dessert, was what the tour was about – his best-selling album ‘So’.
We have indeed gone back to front – with some new songs at the start, and a middle section all leading back to this – the high point of his solo career.

‘So’ spawned 5 singles – who can forget ‘Sledgehammer’, ‘Big Time’ or the duet he performed with Kate Bush, ‘Don’t Give Up’? Amongst the lightness though, this album had some very dark themes – Unemployment in ‘Don’t Give Up’, the almost Orwellian dictat of ‘We Do What We’re Told’ – the words coming from those subjected to the Milgram experiments on obedience.

The boom lighting was arranged along the front of the stage to give an appearance of a cage, with vertical white bars of light, the band and masked boom operators all standing straight behind them, chanting the lines at the end.

The lighting changed from the stark black & whites during this third segment, with colour being introduced, opener ‘Red Rain’ being performed in a maelstrom of reds and orange. ‘Big Time’ was an almost drug induced psychedelic nightmare of clashing colours, reflecting the theme of becoming famous and rich and the temptations that often come hand in hand with it.

‘Mercy Street’, a song about the emotional issues of poet Anne Sexton, was performed almost entirely via camera to the big screens, boom lights giving out UV light overhead. Peter was on his back inside a big bulls-eye on the stage, writhing in and out of the foetal position, cameras above giving full body shots, and to the side on a pole giving close-ups. It was so unusual and strangely disturbing and intimate. It left the venue in undisturbed silence as it ended.

Jennie Abrahamson and Linnea Olsson by Julie Thompson

Jennie Abrahamson and Linnea Olsson – Credit: Julie Thompson

Most moving to me though, was ‘Don’t Give Up’ – the female role beautifully performed by Jennie.

It was a theatrical performance, Peter standing forlornly to one side while Jennie tries to give comfort and reassurance.

Her vocal range was perfect, not a note off from Kate’s wonderful rendition. Peter still has that distinctive quality in his voice that he had all those years ago, despite looking so very different these days – as he said of himself and Tony Levin, “we both had hair then.”

‘So’; 28 years old and sadly much of it is still relevant. A great show and one I am glad I got to witness.

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Oct 032014

Spear of Destiny is going to be in Aberdeen at The Moorings venue next Saturday, 11th of October.

SpeardestinypicKirk Brandon has now been leading SPEAR OF DESTINY for over 30 years. 2014 sees the release of the band’s 13th studio album ’31’ (Thirty-One).

These brand new recordings will be released on vinyl, CD and digital via, Code7 Distribution and The Orchard Digital Platform.

To coincide with the new album’s release on September 15th, an extensive UK tour commenced on September 18th and concludes on October 19th.

Fresh from being described by as a Brilliant 80s Band, Kirk appeared on Jools Holland’s BBC Radio 2 show on Monday 22nd September where he played three of his favourite tracks, premiering two tracks from ’31′ and joining Jools’s band to cover a very special song.

Jools accurately described ’31’ (Thirty-One) as ‘possibly [Spear of Destiny’s] best album in 20 years’.

Sep 262014

Spear of Destiny haven’t let up these past 31 years. Released last week, XXXI/ Thirty One is their first studio album in six years. And they’ll be appearing at the Moorings soon. Suzanne Kelly reviews.

Spear of Destiny xxxi‘XXXI / Thirty one’ was pre-released to fans, and is out to the rest of the world now; details here where you’ll also find a montage of the new material to listen to.

Jools Holland called it ‘possibly [Spear of Destiny’s] best album in 20 years’.

Holland is right. XXXI marks another major milestone in SoD’s continuing voyage.

Spear of Destiny are Kirk Brandon (voice, guitar), Craig Adams (bass, vocals), Adrian Portas (guitars), Mike Kelly (percussion), and Steve Allan-Jones (keyboards).

The music is beautifully written, arranged and recorded; the diversity of the material is striking. XXXI offers epic guitar and vocals as fans would expect. It’s a journey through rockabilly, melancholic dirge, ‘60s retro, uplifting anthems and still each work is instantly, unmistakably identifiable as Spear of Destiny at its finest.

When the album was being recorded, Brandon wrote on his website:

“…it promises to be a more up-tempo record than most in recent years, which can only be a good thing I think. A bit of a kick to it!” 

Here Comes The Sun is perhaps the most positive and affirming track in this collection.

Equally infectious, equally powerful is the haunting, melancholic Sputnik, which was the first track released to those who pre-ordered the album. This builds from a minimalist start featuring electronica echoing what a satellite might sound like in the depths of space to a rich crescendo. Spear’s trademarks are the blistering layers of Portas’ and Brandon’s guitars supported by Kelly’s drums and Adam’s bass, these two tracks exemplify those traits so loved by the fans.

The diversity of this collection is something to marvel at; particularly when a Marvel Comic anti-hero/villain Titanium Man is brought to life. To those of us of a certain age who remember the animated television Marvel comics Iron Man and Spider Man and their theme music, this song could have been written at the time; its 1960s/70s retro feel belongs to a golden age of comics on television.

If Marvel is planning to revive the Russian Titanium Man in one of their upcoming films in the wake of renewed East-West tensions, SoD is in pole position with this track. But it’s not quite as fun as it seems at first hearing; the music is positively fun; but in the lyrics dark roots appear.

An early album review comes from Louder than War; it’s an appropriately enthusiastic thumbs up. It aptly describes the song ‘Australian Love Song’ as ‘a rockabilly trip-out that sounds like a piss take/homage to Nick Cave’. It certainly nods to Cave’s landmark ‘Murder Ballads’ album.

Thirty one years together makes for flawless instrumentals, a unique sound, and some remarkable riffs and harmonies. The layers of vocal and guitars is transporting throughout, though notably in Here Comes The Sun, and the solo in Sputnik. Here Comes The Sun begs to be released as a single; Fascinations offers scathing social critique as it describes bullemia and other ills.

Hurry Home (which features ethereal, plaintive vocals from Heidi Berry) is a worthy addition to the band’s anti-war arsenal

Falling Down is remarkably sad (‘this is the sorry state of our lives’), angry (‘smiling idiots only want to take it away from you’), and harsh (‘the sunlight’s a happy place / but I guess you wouldn’t know’).

The instrumental section of this piece is likewise equally remorseful.

It opens with a single guitar rising and falling at the chorus (‘you could be anything in this life / but you chose every time falling down’), and after the angry part subsides, it fades away in the word ‘delusion’ sung over and over again as if in some tranquilised haze of thought. Between this and Here Comes The Sun is an entire spectrum of emotions.

Write On:

If there is any fault to be found in this latest release, it’s that the lyrics aren’t supplied in the CD; it would be good to have them laid out. As Brandon advises:

“This marks a very big moment for Spear and for myself; it marks a return to the writing process… and the writing deserves as much consideration as the instrumentals at least”

Hurry Home (which features ethereal, plaintive vocals from Heidi Berry) is a worthy addition to the band’s anti-war arsenal. In simplest terms, Hurry Home presents us with a soldier who’s not going to make it. It immediately opens with mournful guitar, and then the vocals. While all the tracks’ lyrics demand attention, these lyrics are particularly worth delving into. Brandon’s written:

“They’ll be no reveille in the morn
They’re be no sleep tonight
We haven’t talked on the phone
I ain’t lonely, but this breeze is”

The word ‘reveille’ puts us in the barracks; the sleeplessness implies worry and the unstated cause of this worry foreshadows a tragic end. The soldier’s denial of loneliness is a very lonely, heartbroken depiction of bravado.

It continues:

“Blue on blue
Shot in the back
I understand”

Thinking on this seemingly simple passage for any length of time raises several questions. Is Brandon meaning our soldier was literally shot in the back, or is there an implied dig at the UK’s military?

Could this be a reference to the military continuously betraying troops by sending them on missions without the right equipment and protection, or by sending them on futile life-risking missions (the unfinished Helmand electricity project having just been criticised in the news this week)?

Is the ‘blue on blue’ line echoing the many occasions on which troops have been killed by people who infiltrated the Afghan police and armed forces only to turn on their former comrades to kill them when their guard is down?

This line isn’t likely to have been written without some meaning intended. When Brandon writes ‘I understand’ does he simply mean he believes the soldier was shot in the back – or is Brandon saying he knows what it’s like to be metaphorically shot in the back? In ten, plain, short words Kirk Brandon gives you some fairly large questions to think on – it’s a master class in poetic economy which layers several ideas in a condensed verse.

And if you’re not delving deeply into what ideas may be hidden here, then the last unambiguous lines close the story:

“No last hurrah for you
Just a stone in Arlington”

As poignant and political as Hurry Home is, Titanium Man is as playful (well, on the surface at first hearing anyway). Cry Baby Cemetery is laced with menace and Americana; a synthesizer mimics a rattlesnake as it opens, putting the listener on a dark lonely Louisiana highway at night before the song is halfway started. There really is something for everyone on this album.

The Album Live

Live music trumps studio work and always will. There are acts who put out simplistic but highly produced studio albums but who can’t get cleanly through a single song live (don’t mention the Cardigans… oops).

There are acts like the Grateful Dead which, love or loathe them, created studio albums more often than not as an afterthought to the unpredictable, whirlwind live shows built around remarkable impromptu improvisations which frenzied fans adored. And then again, there are acts which do great work in the studio and equally great if not greater live renditions, like SoD.

They proved this at the Bisley Underworld Festival as the album was launched; the new material was as equally well performed and well received as their cornerstone works such as Take Me Alive. There was also a well thought out, apt cover of Babylon’s Burning, perfect for this punk festival. Cover songs do have a time and a place* (see footnote).

Kirk & Jools

Brandon appeared on Jools Holland promoting the album last week; discussing his music, early life and influences. His choice of material played / performed in the show earns him triple points:

Robert Johnson – Love In Vain
Led Zeppelin – The Lemon Song* (see footnote)
Free Walk In My Shadow
Clash Complete Control

From the new album Holland’s show included:

SoD XXXI – Fascinations
Sod XXXI – Sputnik

Brandon and Holland’s live version of Free’s Walk In My Shadow was high voltage, good fun, and just a bit dirty. You can still access a clip from the show; catch it here.

Brandon’s rendition of Paul Rodger’s vocals were splendid (note – Paul Rodgers will perform at the Royal Albert Hall in early November to benefit Aberdeenshire’s Willows Animal Sanctuary. He and his likewise animal loving wife Cynthia are patrons of Willows. Also on that bill is the Deborah Bonham band; she has likewise donated generously to Willows and is a fellow animal lover).

Back to Brandon’s website where he’s also written:

“These are exciting times… See you on the album release tour in September! I for one cannot wait.”

The wait’s over, and if you make it to the Moorings, or one of the album playback dates (there’s a show near Glasgow on the 12th), you’ll be glad you did.

A Date With Destiny

Experience Spear at the Moorings; they return on Saturday 11 October (do hurry if you expect to get a ticket).

* Compare and Contrast – A Footnote

When Spear of Destiny performed at the Moorings last year, Miley Cyrus had just released something called ‘Wrecking ball’, which involved her straddling said wrecking ball without benefit of protective clothing, or actually any clothing at all (I’m sure it was essential for the creativity of the artist, for expressing individuality, etc. etc).

In that same year that Spear, ToH and Brandon toured and created this remarkable new album, Cyrus has brought us ‘twerking’, taken her clothes off, and has just slaughtered Zeppelin’s ‘Babe I’m Going to Leave You’. We are inexplicably in a world where the latter earns more money than the former. Then again, people will be listening to XXXI decades after anyone wants to see Miley with or without clothes.

A performer (or a stripper with a famous line dancing relative) just can’t buy an ability to write, to perform, to sing (please do not listen to the live Cyrus version of ‘Babe’ – it will stay with you for a long time for all the wrong reasons), however much money they and their team have. Apparently you can’t even get competent advisors however much money you have.

La Cyrus has explained she committed this crime to bring Led Zeppelin to a new generation. Don’t know where she’s been, but Zeppelin is deservedly everywhere. Cover songs do have their place and time; this slaughter of a classic will send banshees screaming into the night in terror. In fact people on Facebook are reporting that when she starts screaming frightened pets are hiding under beds and trembling.

It occurs to me that Van Gogh never sold a painting in his lifetime. Perhaps he should have taken his kit off. Thankfully, this particular cover version shall pass, if not soon enough.

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Mar 182014

Deborah Bonham launches her new album, Spirit, with some Scottish dates.  A supporter of Aberdeenshire’s Willows Animal Sanctuary and lifelong animal lover, Deborah has dates in Dumfries (Friday 21 March and Kinross (Saturday 22 March With thanks to Suzanne Kelly.

deborah bonham pic 1

The spirit in the songs and music of Deborah Bonham draws on the hurt, pain, joy and anger that come with life for all of us. Negatives are decanted as positivity, from mistakes comes learning.

From that spirit comes the determination to always push forward and celebrate life, sharing experiences with her audience.

As she sings in the opening salvo from the album: “Pain is going away, it’s gonna stop today. I’m gonna fly”.  So there could be only one title for the new album: ‘SPIRIT’

But Deborah also has soul.  It’s the soul that comes from her deep love and understanding of so many musical greats – Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Bonnie Raitt, Lowell George and many more – all of whom are artists who surrounded themselves with great musicians who had that same ‘feel’.

And so it is with Deborah’s band. It’s also their instinctive affinity with the words being sung and how they absorb her emotions; sometimes soft, sometimes fierce.

Recorded at a highly charged, personally emotional time in Chichester UK and Nashville USA, Deborah instinctively channeled all that was going on in her life into the sessions, which she co-produced with Glenn Skinner (Deborah Harry, Killing Joke), who also manned the desk for her last album, ‘Duchess’.

On Drums is Marco Giovino (Robert Plant’s Band of Joy, John Cale, Norah Jones).

Marco flew in especially from Nashville to record the drums in a Chapel local to Deborah and she then joined him in Nashville to finish the recording and mix with Mike Poole (Band of Joy, Rickie Lee Jones) and master with Jim DeMain (Michael McDonald, John Hiatt).

Pedal steel supremo B.J.Cole also guests together with a special guest appearance from Robert Plant on harmonica, whilst the remainder of the musicians are her long-time, forceful working band – including bassist Ian Rowley, keyboardist Gerard Louis, and guitarist Peter Bullick.

Embracing more than ever before the bands’ rootsy-Americana influences of the likes of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and Little Feat, ‘Spirit’ seamlessly travels through Deborah’s songbook of original compositions, alongside two co-written with John Hogg (Moke, Hookah Brown – with the Black Crowes’ Rich Robinson) and ‘Painbirds’, written by the late Mark Linkous and originally recorded by Sparklehorse for their debut album.

In the same way that Hendrix made Bob Dylan’s ‘All Along The Watchtower’ his own and as did Joe Cocker with The Beatles’ ‘A Little Help From My Friends’, Deborah Bonham and band firmly stamp their identity on this stunningly powerful song.

Elsewhere on the album, mandolin, cello and dobro weave throughout ‘Fly’ (co-written with John Hogg and Simon Sessler) and the irresistible ‘Take Me Down’ the first single to be released and a ReverbNation Rock Chart Number One – twice – which is perhaps reminiscent of The Eagles’ ‘Take It Easy’ but more intriguingly, uses a recurring lyrical theme in Deborah’s work – that of the mercurial nature of the rivers and the seas, to heal or devour.

Throughout, Deborah’s sympathetic band sear, coax, blend, sweeten, compliment, rock and groove

The Cajun stomp of ‘What It Feels’ builds on Marco Giovino’s percussive box of tricks, giving way to a harmonica solo from Robert Plant, that delivers  in the most concise way and not heard perhaps since Led Zeppelin’s ‘Custard Pie’.

The Byrds-esque ‘I Won’t Let You Down’ follows before a sultry, hot n sticky atmosphere permeates ‘Good Times’ and there are echoes of Christine McVie and Bonnie Bramlett sweetly lingering in Deborah’s delivery of  album closer, ‘Lay Me Down’.

Perhaps the most tellingly autobiographical song is ‘Spirit In Me’. If there is a defining song of this albums’ genesis and attitude, then this is it – lovingly dressed with B.J Cole’s sympathetic, yet playful pedal steel performance.

Throughout, Deborah’s sympathetic band sear, coax, blend, sweeten, compliment, rock and groove, proving (if proof be needed) why Paul Rodgers would have them as his band of choice for recent shows drawn entirely from his catalogue of legendary songs by Free.

This Deborah Bonham ‘live’ band also includes drummer Rich Newman (Sam Brown, Steve Marriott, Rory Gallagher) and the band have showcased several of the new songs in recent months, including the show-stopping, classic Bonham blues rock ballad, ‘I Need Love’ at Festivals and shows in the UK and Europe: The Great British Rock & Blues Festival, the massive Harley-Davidson European H.O.G. Rallies in France, Austria and Portugal and The Great British Folk Festival, where, even in the bands’ stripped-down acoustic format, the songs connected with the audience.

And why? Because they all see and feel the SPIRIT.

Feb 142014

KIRK_2014_Akoustik_imageKirk Brandon will be appearing in Aberdeen on Sunday 9th of March as part of his aKoustiK nights 2014 tour. With thanks to Hen Beverly.

Kirk Brandon is the voice of Spear of Destiny, Theatre of Hate and Dead Men Walking. With over 15 studio albums and countless single releases, his career now spans well over 30 years.

He has enjoyed worldwide success with all three of the above bands and is also a leader in every punk rock poll by being the singer and songwriter in The Pack.

Over the last 8 years, Kirk has released five solo acoustic studio albums (the Dutch Masters series) that have pulled tracks from all eras of his career, these albums have featured many of the people he has worked with and collaborated with over the years including Derek Forbes, Slim Jim Phantom & Clint Boon.

The latest of these solo acoustic albums entitled Dutch Masters Volume Five has become, in it’s first year of release, the best seller in the series.

DM5 features two outstanding Theatre of Hate interpretations, a James Bond theme and a Country & Western cover of a Ry Cooder tune.

Kirk has spent his Christmas break preparing a brand new solo show for 2014, even some of his best known tracks (Never Take Me Alive, Do You Believe In The Westworld? & Young Men) have been dusted off and given a given a good spruce up.

The aKoustiK nights 2014 tour kicks off in Brighton on February 20th and ends in at the beautiful Hermon Chapel in Oswestry on March 15th.

Joining Kirk on all these dates will be long time friend Dave Sharp. Dave, best known as guitarist, songwriter and sometime vocalist of The Alarm, will be show -casing a selection of songs that cover his thirty plus year career.

 “Kirk Brandon is one of the UK’s most underrated songwriters and ‘Omega Point’ is a fine addition to his arsenal of epic albums” – Vive le Rock! Magazine.

 “Kirk Brandon is on of the UK’s best kept secrets” – Mojo

 “@kirkbrandon is one of our greatest musical geniuses” – BBC’s Jeremy Vine

“Spear of Destiny are criminally underrated and are one of Britain’s best, Boys Own, punch the air, grandiose Rock’nRoll bands” – John Robb’s Louder Than War

 “Brandon’s vocal is fuller, it is more powerful, it is more tuneful. But what impresses me more is his total clarity; not only vocally but his overall performance – he lives, breathes, screams, shakes these songs out of his body. At times he appears to be in the throws of an exorcism, bent double and shuddering rhythmically” –


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Jan 242013

After many years in the music industry as a lead guitarist and side man, acclaimed UK rock musician Nigel Bennett released his debut solo album, Truth Or Consequences, on October 23, 2012 (Zip Records) in North America. The CD will be released in Europe in January 2013. Suzanne Kelly gets talking to Nigel about his new CD, touring, talent shows – and Donald Trump.

Bennett, lead guitarist for the British punk band The Vibrators, is taking centre stage as he flexes his musical virtuosity as a solo performer and front man. Truth Or Consequences features 13 tracks that highlight Bennett’s appreciation for styles ranging from country-tinged melodies to hard rock instrumentals to reggae.

Pat Collier produced the album (Primal Scream, Robyn Hitchcock, The Vibrators). During Bennett’s reputable musical career, he has performed with and written a hit single for The Members (“Radio”) and toured with Julian Lennon.

In the heady days of the late 1970s, punk bands formed, changed personnel, and split up with ferocious frequency. Nigel Bennett started in the Punk scene as guitarist for the Members; more recently he toured with The Vibrators (on guitar in place of Knox, who has semi-retired).

We start by discussing his first solo album. Nigel tells me the album title ‘Truth or Consequences’ comes from one of the many long US tours he’s been on.  Passing through the mid-West, the band drives past a sign for a town called ‘Truth or Consequences’ – he is intrigued. Apparently, the entire town voted to change its name to reflect the title of a popular television game show.  Only in America.

The album has many influences, but there is a small touch of punk throughout most of it, whether in rockabilly/western/punk track Rubidoux, or in the lyrics of ‘Another Day’ – a break up song which is sad, but still lyrically a touch sarcastic and humorous, too. ‘The Edge’ is very much an American western instrumental; it is followed by ‘Breezy,’ a track which puts me in mind of classic American bands; it makes me think of acts from The Eagles to The Grateful Dead. Nigel tells me he likes all forms of music – anything that is performed well.

We talk about punk past and present. Nigel tells me:-

“For me Punk came from a time when there were very angry young people.  (He mentions the strikes and the political problems).  There are punks that reunite at ‘Rebellion’ [an annual music festival], but I don’t even know what a punk is any more…  Does it mean you have a particular haircut and a pin in your nose?  I think it’s an attitude.  In The Members everyone was welcome whatever they wore.  Punk was not a uniform.”

We discuss how the music was made in no small part by the turbulent times, and we talk about music today. Simon Cowell and today’s pop inevitably come to the surface. We wonder whether the proliferation of television talent shows hasn’t made people more interested in fame than in honing their musical skills.

“The thing is, people like virtuosity – human beings love to see another human doing something extraordinarily well, whether in music or like in the gymnastics in the last Olympics. To see someone playing brilliantly – I can’t get enough of that. There doesn’t seem to be as much of that now as there was in the past. 

“Muse is good. One of the things I liked about the Who was those big, fat power chords they had – I remember sitting back as a kid and thinking ‘oh my god’ and then these chords were used by punk bands. Punk was terribly anti-establishment.  I’d love to be rich any day, but to be famous – I don’t envy anyone who is famous.” 

He asks me what’s going on in Aberdeen and in Scotland. An hour later, after I’ve told him the basics, he tells me of his paternal Scottish roots which are important to him (but he has no desire to open any golf courses). And what does he make of Donald Trump?

“He is as ridiculous as that toupee of his, and it’s a shame he’s been allowed to just take over.  I love Scotland; there are such friendly people, even if it’s always freezing cold when I’m there. ”

Nigel’s new album may well displease punk purists; it can be difficult for some artists to move between genres.

We discuss the example of the violent reaction Jello Biafra received (he was seriously assaulted in a bar and called a ‘sell-out’, allegedly due to his straying from what purists wanted from him), while David Bowie at age 66 is releasing a new single, and reinventing himself once again.

Nigel says:-

“When you’re known for one thing, people tend to want to go to your shows for that thing. [Biafra] changed styles for his own creativity. Bowie on the other hand… it’s very clever the way he’s always reinvented himself; he’s not let anyone put him into a narrow band.” 

“The whole thing about the album is that it’s showing another side of me. Punk is only one limited part of music. I had all these various ideas sort of lying around for a year or two or three unfinished, then the opportunity presented itself to do an album, so I started to write them down. 

“I’m purely into all of this from the heart. I approached two record companies in America and they both offered me a deal so I took the best one. I always had America in mind for this album. Americans love guitar – country, rock – they appreciate it. Guitar rules America.”

We discuss the track ‘In my Dreams,’ which has a reggae feel to it.

“When I joined the Members, it was at a time when I went to all the auditions. You had to be very diverse. I went to an Iron Maiden audition; we politely mutually realised that it wasn’t a fit. But they’ve kept it going; they’ve made millions – and they’ve made millions of people happy with it.  So – the ad I was responding to was for rock/reggae; some of the Members were very into Jamaican reggae, and I learnt about the off beat. It’s very much a summer song. It’s about a boy feeling very shy, and I can remember that as a teenager.

“Then I wrote ‘Another Day’. It’s not about any particular girlfriend; it’s about people breaking up and the memories that go with them. 

“Singing is new to me, and I’ll write more songs for the next album with vocals. I need to learn to be a better singer.  I’ve played lead for 30 years, but I’ve never fronted my own band.

“I know I’m in my mid 50s, but it’s never too late and there are no rules in music.”

Best of luck to Nigel Bennett in this and future projects.

PS – The album ‘Truth Or Consequences’ is available from Zip Records, and from good record stores – if they haven’t all had to close down. Goodbye One Up; Aberdeen will miss you.

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Jul 152011

Charlie Mingin, the Auchnaclatt Bugle’s ‘Weel-Chilled Chiel’ columnist, guests for Voice this week, giving the bebop lowdown for hep cats and byre tabbies, doffing his hiply-angled Panama in the direction of The Fast Show’s Louis Balfour. Fingerprints on Cattle Cake’s ‘bone believed to be those of George Anderson….

Jock Kerouac and the Beet Generation on the road again after sell out concert in Daviot

Within twenty minutes of going on sale, both tickets for Coos in the Park had been snapped up amid fears that a surge in demand might crash Ticketmaster’s system.

I was one of the lucky ones. The minute the ticket tumbled through my letterbox, a vibe in these old jazzman bones of mine told me that something crazy was about to go down in Daviot.

And was I right, Daddy-O?

The concert in The Byre, the north east’s premier teuchter-jazz club demonstrated that Jock Kerouac and The Beet Generation were right back on top where they belonged. On the night, their fusion of bothy ballads and sixties jazz really razzed my berries.

Yes, there were mistakes. Somewhere approaching the middle eight of the opening number, Lousin Time, and half way through his third reefer of the night, Jock realised that the double bass he thought he’d been playing for the last half hour was actually still in the tipper truck that ca’d neeps during the day and transported the band to gigs in the evening. Undaunted, he rattled off the piece’s twenty minute double bass solo on his galuses. Beat that for improvisation.

I’ve been a fan of The Beet Generation since I first saw them perform at Gamrie’s Clockin Hen nightclub in 1987. Granted, nobody asked them to play but they managed to knock off their own rewrite of a Billy Joel classic, In the Midden of the Night before the bouncers got Jock in a headlock, huckled him head first out through the fire exit and into the car park where they pinned him down until the police arrived.

The band’s line up hasn’t changed since the Gamrie gig:

Jock Kerouac on double bass
Ronnie ‘The Rooser’ Roberts on Stylophone
‘Cattle Cake’ Collins on slide trombone
‘Sheep Dip’ Danny Dawkins on trumpet, electric bongos and steam harpsichord.

The first set was an intoxicating blend of old and new material, kicking off with three of my favourites: Lousin Time; Let’s Get Yokit! and Fa Cut Yer Hair an Cried Ye Baldy?

The lads ended the set with the title track from their latest album, We’re Aa Up the Wrang Dreel Noo.

Haste ye back, Jock, we can hardly wait for your next concert.

At the risk of rekindling the trad-bebop wars of the early sixties, Sid Rawlins, music critic of the Crovie Chronicle has given Voice an alternative view.

Bad Tunes A Go-Go as Kerouac’s Beet Generation Bomb at the Byre

Hepcat Harrison and the Kittlins were treated for shock at Turriff hospital last night following the murder of their teuchter-jazz classic, Let’s Get Yoakit! at the hands of jazz fraudsters Jock Kerouac and the woefully unmusical Beet Generation who somehow managed to make this classic track sound like a badly-tuned piano falling down a spiral staircase.

The scene of the crime: The Byre Club, Daviot.
Time of death, 7:30 pm Formartine time (GMT minus seventy years).

Bad jazz stands out like a toonser wearing nicky tams. And make no bones about it, this was jazz at its worst. The evening was not helped by the fact that Cattle-Cake Collins stopped mid-honk during Lousin Time to spray WD40 on his trombone slide.

I sort of liked the Beet Generation’s new project, We’re Aa Up the Wrang Dreel Noo. Yet overall, a lacklustre performance by over-rated musicians.

As Ray Charles would have said had he hailed from Kemnay, ‘Hit the road Jock, and dinna come back ony mair.’

Image credits:  
Trombone © Chris Johnson,
Double Bass Scroll © William Davis |