Incendiary Device (& White Night)


Johnny Moped Incendiary Device

Today sees the release of a new album It’s A Real Cool Baby by legendary punk act Johnny Moped – Johnny Moped being the name of the singer and the band incidentally, just like Alice Cooper once upon a time was a band name as well as being the moniker of the man with the spidery black mascara and fondness for snakes.

‘Moped was enamoured with the biker thing,’ Captain Sensible explained in John Robb’s Punk Rock: An Oral History. ‘He wanted to be Johnny Harley, Johnny Vincent, Johnny Norton – some powerful bike name – but we wouldn’t let him, so we called him Johnny Moped all the time!’

Still as names go it has to be better than Slimey Toad, the band’s guitarist.

Moped remains one of the great eccentrics of the punk era, a spectacularly unreliable performer who sometimes forgot to turn up at gigs and sometimes wasn’t allowed out the house by his wife and disapproving mother-in-law (seriously). He also on occasion had to be kidnapped and forced into a recording studio and he would ask to be dropped off at a bush somewhere in Croydon post-gig where he would presumably sleep.

At different points his band contained the aforementioned Captain as well as, very briefly, Chrissie Hynde. They supported The Damned on numerous times back in the heyday of punk, played The Roxy and appeared on the Live at the Roxy WC2 compilation on Harvest Records that charted in the summer of 1977. Independent Chiswick Records signed them and they released three singles and one album, Cycledelic, before deciding to split up (for the first time).

Johnny Moped AJohnny Moped B

The debut single was No-One but the flip side is the song that best encapsulates the spirit of the band. As original member Dave Berk put it in the liner booklet for The Best of Johnny Moped CD: ‘Our first single was supposed to be Incendiary Device but “stick it in her lughole” didn’t go down too well with Radio 1 so we switched it to the B side and promoted No-One. Our second single Darling, Let’s Have Another Baby was issued one week, gained ‘Single of the Week’ in all 3 music papers the next week.’

Critic Ira Robbins has described the music on 1978’s Cycledelic as being played by a ‘seemingly drunken bunch of grungy simpletons’, while reviewing the album for NME, Monty Smith wrote that stylistically, the band were: ‘all over the shop, ranging from the goonish anarchism of “Mystery Track/VD Boiler”, through the punky & western of “Darling”, to straight-ahead rock’n’roll (“Little Queen”) and the climactic trilogy of hooligan rock, “Wild Breed”, “Hell Razor” and “Incendiary Device”.’

If you’re looking for music that’s delivered with an unhinged machine-gun ferocity and sometimes deranged sense of humour, Johnny Moped should be for you. This is Incendiary Device:

Incendiary Device has been complied on many a punk rock compilation, most recently on 2014 Souljazz release, Punk 45 Vol.2: There Is No Such As Society, where it joined some fantastic independent singles by acts including Josef K, The Prefects, Television Personalities and The Lines. From 1978, this is The Lines with White Night:

On April 23, Johnny Moped play the Lexington in London and then on April 29, they’ll be appearing at the Prince Albert in Brighton.

For more on Johnny Moped (and the documentary on him) click here.

The Bar Dogs & Holy Esque

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Bar Dogs

Today, two very different acts although both are based in Glasgow and feature singers with emotive, sometimes throat-wrenching voices: one rasping, one quavery.

First up, The Bar Dogs (rasping), who last month released a double A-side single: Pearl and Running that impressed the hell out of me with Pearl being the pick of the pair.

The Bar Dogs are still in their infancy, more pups than dogs really, but have already supported The View at a sold-out Glasgow O2 Academy at the tail-end of last year (View bassist Kieran Webster supplied some backing vocals on Running incidentally) and the band look set to rapidly establish themselves as one of the city’s most exciting live acts in 2016.

The search query ‘Bar Dogs Glasgow’ does tend to throw up mostly suggestions about dog friendly Glasgow boozers although Gigslutz and Tenement TV have pieces on the band, whose current line-up consists of: John Gerrard O’Neill (vocals), Tino MacDonald (lead guitar and vocals), John McArthur (guitar), Michael Gahagan (drums), Scott Duncan McPherson (bass) and Robbie Noble (keys), Tino and Michael both previously being members of The Velveteen Saints.

As well as writing fabulous songs, The Bar Dogs also make their own impressive DIY videos, and for Pearl they filmed in the Grand Old Opry – the one on Govan Road in Glasgow that is, a venue that I have visited once myself but to see a play I feel I have to explain, rather than for any line dancing or fast-draw competition.

For more on the band:

Also newly released is At Hope’s Ravine by Holy Esque (quavery), a four-piece outfit that have been much hyped in Scotland in recent months.

They’ll be representing Scotland shortly in Austin, Texas for the latest SXSW and, last week, the band performed a session for Vic Galloway’s Radio Scotland show, where they even managed to record a version of Robert Palmer’s Addicted to Love which met with just about my full approval. No mean feat believe me.

Holy Esque are a difficult act to describe but if you’re familiar with ’60s act Family, think a cross between Roger Chapman and Feargal Sharkey singing with a unjustly forgotten post-punk band that were occasionally compared to Echo and The Bunnymen. Jim Kerr is a fan and maybe there is a teensy wee bit of mid ’80s Simple Minds in the band’s DNA but, dare I say, even more early U2.

As for the album, well it easily lives up to the hype and has to be an early contender for this year’s SAY Award. Every one of the eleven tracks is pretty much top-flight although Doll House maybe edges it as my favourite. Shot through with a gorgeous fragility and with dreamy, shimmering guitars, Pat Hynes sounds truly heartbroken throughout.

To see the guys perform perform three tracks including Doll House for Tenement TV live at St Luke’s in Glasgow click here.

From At Hope’s Ravine, this is Tear:

For more on Holy Esque: