Sunday, 24 April 2011

The Killers


I suppose much of my musical likes and influences are from the 20th century! But this doesn't tell the whole story and The Killers are a band from the modern era who I think are brilliant. They write catchy songs and supply me with the guitar dose that I need. "Mr Brightside" remains my favourite track by them and it's a song that would be on my IPod on a desert island.


I think The Killers really did it for me with their performance at Live 8 where they stole the show for me, and were probably the only band who captured the spirit of the Live Aid. "All These Things I Have Done" is a great anthem and was the perfect choice for that day.


The Killers four albums to date have all had their magical moments and they have managed in my opinion to produce three decent follow albums to the debut "Hot Fuss", and there by succeeding where many modern bands fail these days.

I was lucky enough to see The Killers at Hyde Park in London in 2009 and once again in 2011. They may have been away for a couple of years, but it was a blinding show and I chronicled my day out to Hyde Park on video.

video 


2012 has seen the long awaited release of the 4th studio album "Battle Born" and it sees The Killers doing what they do best, which for me is writing great rock/pop anthems. I was fortunate enough to get a ticket to see them live at the Birmingham NEC on October 31st, and it was the first time I have seen them in an indoor arena. It was a stunning concert!

 

Monday, 18 April 2011

The Majority



The Majority is the band that has brought me the greatest music enjoyment, because it's the band I was / am in. The original line up was Lewis Porter (vocals), Adam Hodgson (drums), Tim Darvell (guitar), Rich Contrereas (bass) and Patrick Moritz (keyboards). Stu Phillips became the 2nd keyboard player when Pat decided to leave the band. Over the course of two years from 1985 - 1987 the band played a number of gigs with the annual gig at The Five Horseshoes at Remenham near Henley quite legendary.


The name of the band came from one our of biggest influences The Alarm. "Majority" was one of our favourite songs by The Alarm. Our sound was heavily influenced by The Alarm and U2 and although we wrote many tunes we enjoyed playing a few covers too.

video
Majority

Although the live period of the band was short lived, the band has continued to record occasionally over the years and many of the songs from back in the day have since been recorded along with new songs written in the years since.

video
Out For The Count

What the band meant for me was how I discovered a love for writing songs which I still have to this day. I enjoyed the rehearsals at Ad's folk's house probably more than playing on stage as we spent hours fine tuning the songs, laughing at ourselves endlessly and always ended up with a post rehearsal beer at The Royal Oak in Knowl Hill. They were wonderful times.

The friendships that grew within the band have remained close to this day, with myself, Lewis and Ad remaining the very best of friends with godfathering and best man duties playing their parts along the way.

The band alas never achieved the success or recognition I always thought we deserved, but when I look back we lacked ambition, direction and possibly leadership; Ad in particular got frustrated with that and the live era of the band ended when Ad went in search of a band with a more serious outlook and approach, and quite right he was too as the rest of us spent more time in local drinking establishments rather than looking to see how far the band could go. Eventually I got my creative juices flowing again and I threw myself into songwriting, and it was myself and Ad who have continued The Majority in more recent times by recording the songs of the day along with new ones, plus some unusual cover versions...

But the songs have not been lost. There is material to listen to on our Myspace page at www.myspace.com/themaj and those fortunate or unfortunate enough to have seen the band will never forget such classics as "Majority", "Out For The Count", "The Inquest", "Poseurs Paradise", "Out of Order", "Aggggh Me Head" and "The Xmas Medley"

Is there ever to be a Majority reunion? Will the 2nd album ever get finished? These questions are as yet to be answered...




Sunday, 17 April 2011

The Jam



The Jam was probably the first "guitar" band that I really got into. I wasn't there at the start in 1977 and my first purchase was the single "Eton Rifles" which had made it into to the top 10, and seeing the album "Setting Sons" plastered all over the record shops. The first album I bought was "All Mod Cons" which to this day remains one of my all time favourite albums which combines great melodies and a great guitar sound, and that works for me every time.


In 1980 the album Sound Effects was released and I remember the local record shop selling tickets for the Bracknell gig at £2.50! However I was not allowed to go to the gig and had to wait until the farewell tour in 1982 when at 16 I was allowed to go to see them at Wembley Arena. That was my first ever live gig and it was fantastic and the support band on those shows was Big Country.

The Jam had an amazing history in terms of single releases and many of their singles were not included on their albums. I think back at the time "Funeral Pyre" was my favourite single partly because I was so excited about its release and I got the school coach into Maidenhead on the day of its release and then walked 2 miles home with my copy. Over the years I would probably say "When You're Young" has just about become my favourite single by the band.


After the band split in 1982 I followed Paul Weller in The Style Council, but more out of loyalty rather than the material I have to admit. I enjoyed Rick Buckler in The Time UK and followed Bruce Foxton's short lived solo career. I have struggled to really like Paul Weller's solo material over the years. More recently I have enjoyed going to see From The Jam featuring Foxton and Buckler (now just Foxton). Songs such as "Down In The Tube Station At Mightnight", "Going Underground" and "A Town Called Malice" remain a big part of the musical soundtrack of my life.


Sunday, 10 April 2011

The Jags



"Back Of My Hand" by The Jags was the first 7" single I ever bought. I had saved up for months to buy a record player and once I had got it I was able to use my pocket money to buy as much music as I could afford. This song was medium sized hit in 1979 and I actually bought its follow up "Woman's World" too although that proved to be a commercial flop. This band were pretty much one hit wonders, but I did buy a compilation CD a few years ago "The Best of The Jags" which contained the songs from their two album releases. Whenever I hear the song on the radio it always reminds me of my first record player and the record itself is safely stored in the loft.


Blondie


My first ever musical purchase was a cassette tape of "Parallel Lines" by Blondie. In the late 1970s they were just about as big as any band with both "Sunday Girl" and "Heart of Glass" selling a million copies on the UK singles charts when singles sales still counted for a lot.

As a 12 year old boy like most boys of that time Debbie Harry was the girl in the chart we were besotted with and posters of her were all over my bedroom walls. But musically Blondie played an important part in my musical journey as the post punk new-wave guitar sound is all over "Parallel Lines", which is the sound that became the basis for all the bands I liked back then. And yet as an album it contains classic pop / disco influences which also shaped my liking for strong melodies.


It's interesting that Blondie's continual experimentation with their sound and pushing the boundaries possibly contributed to their commercial downfall, but "Parallel Lines" and it's follow up "Eat To The Beat" remain all time favourites of mine. "Atomic" was just about the perfect guitar / pop / disco song of its time.

They have a new album out now "Panic of Girls" which has a couple of classic Blondie tracks "What I heard" and "Mother".

Friday, 8 April 2011

Department S


Department S were the first band I got into and discovered before the band achieved commercial success with their one chart success song "Is Vic There?". As a young teenager I discovered them on night-time Radio 1. Back in the 1980s Maidenhead had a really good independent record shop called Opus-One and I was able to order the original independent release on Demon Records. 
 
 
I played this song to death and followed its success riding high in the Independent Charts for months I seem to recall. In 1981 the song was released on RCA and made it into the top 40 and the band appeared on Top of the Pops.


This was an exciting time for me and when they released the follow up single "Going Left Right" I fully expected them to hit the big time, but alas the single missed out on the top 40. The 12" version I particularly enjoyed and the song has always reminded of the Dr Who theme tune...


The 3rd and as is turned out final single to be released was "I Want" which failed to chart once again, although it fared better in Europe. Once again I could not work out why it didn't chart...


Around this time the band featured on Radio 1's In Concert supporting The Jam so I eagerly taped that show and I still have the tape, although most of the recording was included on Sub-Stance album released finally in 2003. The record company dropped the band before the recorded album was released and put a £50,000 price tag on the recording effectively preventing the band releasing the material.

I had written to the band in 1982 to find out what was happening in terms of single and album releases, and I got a personal reply from Vaughn Toulouse the lead singer who sadly passed away in 1991, and I finally discovered that the band was no more.


So I had gone through my first musical crush and at the time was left very frustrated as I was sure an album had been recorded, but had to wait over a decade to get my hands on a CD. The one question that still mystifies me is did the band ever record "Tell Me About It" which appears on "Sub-Stance" from the In Concert show? Gary Crowley had introduced the band on stage saying it was to be the forthcoming single, but I have never found out if a studio version exists...


Bringing the story up to date, I never got to see the band live back in the day and I finally put this right in 2010 with the now reformed Department S playing live once again and recording new material, and so it was a wonderful experience seeing them play the songs I grew up with. There was a new single "God Squad Saviour " released April 2011 followed by a new album "Mr Nutley's Strange Delusionarium" in October 2011. The album is genius combining brand new recordings of the old classics alongside the songs from the modern era. Gone are the keyboard sounds from from the 1980s replaced by punkesque guitar driven riffs bringing the songs perfectly into the 21st century.


Exciting times once again and alongside the new material I now have a new t-shirt. As a 14 year old I got my own "Is Vic There?" t-shirt printed, and now 31 years later I have another one.