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Rock ‘n’ Roll Music (& Some Junkshop Glam too)

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Some Guida releases

Back when I was accepting music submissions, I would seldom go a day without some young band sending me details of their single along with a bio stating they were a punk band.

None of these tracks were ever featured on the site. Taking inspiration from punk, fine. Claiming to be punk in the 21st century? Isn’t that like saying you’re an impressionist painter or angry young man playwright?

Anyway, I mention this because not one single act ever approached me describing themselves as glam.

Giuda don’t use this description in regards to themselves and actively want to avoid being labelled as ‘glam’ but – certainly if you’re a child of the 1970s like myself – it’s impossibe to listen to their music without thinking back to a world of men in mascara, terrace terrors and monumentally high platform boots. Giuda did try out some stackheels themselves but found it too hard to walk in them so they were ditched. All the same they do sound like they’re on a five man mission to party like it’s 1973.

Inspired by junkshop glamsters like Hector and glitter titans such as The Sweet and Slade, Giuda have additionally mentioned Slaughter And The Dogs, Eddie and The Hot Rods and gritty early 1970s British guitar group Third World War as being among their influences.

Chock-a-block with crunching glam riffs and bucketloads of oomph, their last album Let’s Do It Again was hailed by Vive Le Rock as ‘hitting the right side of the line that lies between parody and homage with pinpoint precision’, awarding it 10/10, while Alex Petridis in The Guardian judged that: ‘They carry the very essence of guitar rock into the 21st century.’

Giuda are undoubtedly a great live act too as I found out a few years ago when I caught them in Glasgow and if you ever get the chance to see them onstage take it as you will be guaranteed a fun night out, which is always a good thing in our increasingly po-faced world.

Pronounced Joo-dah, the Italian five-piece outfit will have a new single entitled Rock ‘n’ Roll Music out in the very near future. No video as yet but to get you in the mood, here’s a stomper from 2015, Roll The Balls:

 
Giuda will be in Britain shortly, playing London’s Lexington on Friday 6th and Saturday 7th April.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Music is released on Rise Above Records! on March 30th.

For more on Giuda:

Official

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Some of the guys from Hector apparently dropped in one of Giuda’s previous London shows and gave the band their seal of approval afterwards.

Hector themselves have been called ‘the perfect introduction to anyone not familiar with Junk Shop Glam’ by ex-Barracuda Robin Willis, who seems to be familiar with every track that could possibly be associated with glam rock.

The band appeared on Lift Off With Ayshea, supported Slade and even had their own fan club but sadly Hector never got a sniff of any chart action.

Here’s their best known track, their debut single from the tail-end of 1973 that’s given its name in recent years to a book on glam – there was even talk of Hector reforming to play at the launch party although that wasn’t to be – and a fanzine. This is Wired Up:

 
Wired Up is available on the 2005 compilation Boobs: The Junkshop Glam Discotheque, which also features some top tracks by the likes of Angel, Screemer and Jimmy Jukebox. A highly recommended album obviously!

For more on Hector click here.

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Norman Wisdom and The Electric Banana (Friday Night Film Club #4)

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What’s Good for the Goose – Tigon British Film Productions (1969)

‘Whatever the Swinging Sixties are going to be remembered for it won’t be films,’ Alan Parker argued on his Turnip Head’s Guide to British Cinema. ‘The moment you saw a red London bus go through the shot you knew you were in for a rotten time.’

Safe to say then he wouldn’t have been a huge fan of What’s Good for the Goose, a film that opens to the chimes of Big Ben and a shot featuring a red bus. He wouldn’t be alone in thinking it rotten. There were plenty of detractors on its release including the star of the film Norman Wisdom and since then it has failed to win over many fans.

Matthew Sweet, in his book Shepperton Babylon, judged Wisdom’s attempt to reinvent himself to be a disaster. ‘Watching him in his tight little white Y-fronts in a comfortless hotel, psyching himself to have sex with Sally Geeson, is like attending the funeral of his career.’

What's Good for the Goose 1969

So why was I keen to see it when it screened on Talking Pictures last week?

Well, there are a number of intriguing ingredients involved in the film. First up, the aforementioned Norman Wisdom, the man once tipped by Charlie Chaplin to be the comedian who would follow in his footsteps.

Then there’s Tony Tenser, who acted as an exec-producer on the project. A master of publicity stunts, he was also heavily involved in Roman Polanski’s Repulsion, Michael Reeves’s Witchfinder General and Hannie Caulder, a Spanish-filmed western starring Raquel Welch, the latter two movies released by his production company Tigon.

Mostly though, I was curious about the participation of The Pretty Things. This lot were the bad boys of the British R&B boom of the early 1960s. They had very close links to The Rolling Stones, and charted a number of times in their early days.

In 1973, Bowie covered a couple of their tracks, Rosalyn and Don’t Bring Me Down for his Pin Ups album and referenced their name in several of his songs starting with Oh! You Pretty Things. Van Morrison loved them. Dave Gilmour loved them. Joey Ramone loved them, once calling them ‘The biggest influence on us. They invented garage bands.’

Like many of their contemporaries, as the ’60s began to heat up, the Pretties tuned in, turned on and dropped out, embracing a psych sound along the way.

On their 1967 Emotions LP they hired a guy called Reg Tilsley to help out with some orchestration. Tilsley persuaded them to try their hand at cutting some tracks for library music company De Wolfe. They agreed to the idea, adopting the pseudonym The Electric Banana – a name presumably taken from a line in Donovan’s Mellow Yellow about the electrical banana that was apparently gonna be a sudden craze.

This music was recorded in between stints at Abbey Road where they were laying down their opus S.F. Sorrow, which is credited as being the first ever rock opera.

S.F. Sorrow failed to sell in the numbers that it deserved to – single Defecting Grey should have been a massive hit and is one of my favourite psychedelic singles – and maybe this lack of success encouraged them to continue with the library music idea and also make some easy money when offered the chance to play themselves in Goose.

Here they are with It’ll Never Be Me from the film:

 
The script of Goose was co-written by young Israeli director Menahem Golan and Wisdom, who here he takes on the lead role of Timothy Bartlett. A timid bowler-hat wearing banker (no rhyming slang intended), he’s stuck in a rut of breakfast with the kids, peck on the cheek of his wife Margaret (wearing her curlers), work, return home for a meal and another peck on the cheek of his wife (still in curlers) before bed.

Sent to a banking conference in Southport, his car is practically hijacked along the way by two hippyish dolly birds, brunette Nikki and strawberry blonde Meg. Timothy is in his fifties and wears his bowler and dickey bow as he drives while the pair look like they’re in their late teens and wearing the groovy Carnaby Street style garb of the day.

On arrival, the girls skedaddle off to enjoy the delights of Swinging Southport while Timothy makes his way to the most boring conference ever devised, with pompous and stuffy older men like himself. Listening to one particular zeds inducing speech, he finds himself thinking fondly of the girls and is clearly smitten by Nikki.

Later he heads into town, obviously hoping to bump into the girls. He does so when he enters a pop art coloured discotheque called the Screaming Apple where the town’s hipsters sit on swings, topless barman serve drinks and surprise, surprise, The Pretty Things are onstage. And what do you know, Nikki appears rather keen on him.

The Pretty Things - Electric Banana

By the next time he pays a visit to the Apple – where, of course, the Pretties are again playing live – Timothy has undergone a hippy makeover of paisley pattern shirt, psychedelic cravat and mustard coloured bell-bottoms.

At which point a more appropriate title for What’s Good for the Goose might have been No Fool Like an Old Fool.

Well I say fool but who could blame him skiving off from his dreary conference to frolic around with Nikki at Southport’s Pleasureland and on the beach – where we even catch a little nudity. Yes, I have now seen Norman Wisdom’s buttocks – and let me tell you ‘pretty things’ was not a phrase that sprang to mind as I did so.

At times, the film does come over like a precursor to those awful 1970s British sexploitation comedies, a subgenre that lacked very much in the way of sex and even less in the way of comedy.

The humour in Goose is generally predictable but on a number of occasions Wisdom’s knockabout physical comedy did bring a smile to my face. As did his transformation into a middle-aged hippy but he’s woefully miscast and his agent really should have had a word.

It’s easy to see why the movie bombed critically and commercially on release. Now though, it possesses a fascinating period charm with the music of The Pretty Things being the best thing about it. If Wonderwall was a movie for real heads then this was one for weekend hippies gullible enough to smoke (non electric) banana peels in an attempt to get high.

After Goose, Norman Wisdom retreated to British TV and shows like Norman and A Little Bit of Wisdom while Tony Tenser took up with a much younger woman and decided to move to Southport in his later years.

In 2013, The Pretty Things celebrated their fiftieth anniversary with dates in Britain and Europe and they’re still on the go.

The most bizarre and high-profile future of any of the main talents involved though would be director Menahem Golan. He will always be best remembered as one of the two men behind Cannon Films, working with everyone from Chuck Norris and Bo Derek to Jean-Luc Godard and Peter Bogdanovich. Notably, he earned a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nomination in 1978 for his Operation Thunderbolt but also picked up three separate Golden Raspberry Awards nominations in the space of four years in the mid 1980s.

Ninja III: The Domination, a hokey as hell martial arts/horror movie he co-produced in 1984, airs on Film 4 tonight at 11.10.

For more on The Pretty Things: http://www.theprettythings.com/

A 1978 Top Ten

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A 1978 Top Ten

1978 saw the Yorkshire Ripper claim his eighth victim. The Sex Pistols fell apart in San Francisco. Saatchi & Saatchi launched their Labour Isn’t Working campaign and Tory poll ratings immediately shot up. Keith Moon died. Dallas appeared on TV screens for the first time. Over 900 members of religious cult, the Peoples Temple, died in Guyana after drinking Kool-Aid laced with cyanide, in what became known as the Jonestown Massacre.

In Scotland, the World Cup In Argentina helped take people’s minds off all the misery but that feelgood factor didn’t last long. On the plus side, Space Invaders was launched, Ian McEwan’s The Cement Garden was published and on the big screen there was The Deer Hunter, Blue Collar, Jubilee, Midnight Express and Halloween.

Best of all there was plenty of amazing new music.

Aged sixteen, I left school and took on a job in a local factory. A lousy labouring job but it provided me with the money to get my hands on a Waltham music centre and a Lucky Hit Phillips cassette player. Home recording, we were warned, was killing the music industry, although I bought a shedload of vinyl that year, more than in any other year before or since. Go figure.

I also reckon I saw more live shows in 1978 than I have in any other year. There was The Clash and Suicide, The Buzzcocks and Subway Sect, The Stranglers, Skids, Magazine, The Banshees, Damned, Rich Kids, Rezillos, Jam, Television, Ultravox, Devo, Eddie and The Hotrods and many, many more.

 
Inventive new bands emerged on a weekly basis. Think the likes of The Cure, Joy Division, Undertones, Stiff Little Fingers, The Television Personalities, Gang of Four, Mekons and, of course, The Fall while some old wavers returned and proved they were still very capable of delivering. Lou Reed’s Street Hassle made a compelling case for his continued relevance. The Stones issued their last great album, Some Girls, with nods to punk and disco along the way and The Walker Brothers’ final album Nite Flights proved inspirational to David Bowie and many others.

There were many fantastic punk records released in 1978 including albums by The Buzzcocks, Ramones, Lurkers and The Adverts although, in many respects, you could say that 1978 was the year of Post-Punk with the launch of PiL and Magazine and Subway Sect, The Banshees and Wire helping suggest a whole new way forward for guitar bands.

 
Reggae scored big in ’78 with Althea and Donna’s Uptown Top Ranking securing a UK #1 slot early in the year while Is This Love provided Bob Marley and The Wailers with another big hit that summer. In Britain, Handsworth Revolution by Steel Pulse became one of the best reviewed albums of the year.

Then there was disco. Saturday Night Fever was a phenomenon in Britain at this point. I didn’t go to see it at the cinema but really should have. It’s a very accomplished movie even though the soundtrack does nothing for me.
Disco did tend to suck but the genre could also claim some real artistic triumphs, chief among these being Sylvester’s joyous You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) and the C’est Chic album, where the dizzying marriage of Nile Rodger’s infectious, choppy guitar licks and Bernard Edward’s muscular, masterful and soon to be much imitated basslines created a new blueprint for sophisticated disco.

From that album, here’s Le Freak, a dancefloor filler extraordinaire:

 
Electronic music continued to come to the fore around the globe, occasionally making real commercial inroads. Yellow Magic Orchestra formed that year and issued their self-titled debut; Fast released Being Boiled by The Human League while Midnight Express, Giorgio Moroder’s first commission to compose a movie soundtrack, went on to win an Academy Award for Best Original Score. Best of all, Kraftwerk (who were a highly prolific lot back then) brought out The Man-Machine, an album immediately proclaimed by NME as ‘one of the pinnacles of 1970s rock music.’

 
Also worth noting is that this was the year Brian Eno arguably invented ambient music with his Music For Airports. At the very least, this was the first album ever to be specifically designated as ‘ambient’.

And then there was the uncategorizable Kate Bush. Nowadays you can turn on 6 Music and it might not be too long before you hear a female artist like Joanna Newsom or Regina Spektor who obviously possess some Kate in their musical DNA. Back then, Kate Bush was a true one-off and hearing Wuthering Heights for the first time was an extraordinarily odd experience. Could I detect any influences? Not really, maybe a faint echo of Noosha Fox. I may even have wondered momentarily if this was some kind of novelty song.

Wuthering Heights was the big hit but I have a slight preference for this, single #2, written by an insanely precocious Kate when she was a mere thirteen years old.

 
Here’s my complete top ten in no particular order:

Kate Bush: The Man With the Child in His Eyes
Chic: Le Freak
Sylvester: You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)
TV Personalities: Part Time Punks
Kraftwerk: The Model
Walker Brothers: The Electrician
Wire: I Am The Fly
Brian Eno: 1/1
The Clash: (White Man) in Hammersmith Palais
The Only Ones: Another Girl, Another Planet

I’ve omitted any tracks like The Light Pours Out of Me and Ambition that I’ve featured before but still feel I have to include honourable mentions for a further ten. Lou Reed: Street Hassle, La Dusseldorf: Viva, The Cramps: Human Fly, The Undertones: Teenage Kicks, Steel Pulse: Ku Klux Klan, X-Ray Spex: Identity, Siouxsie and The Banshees: Hong Kong Garden, The Cure: Killing an Arab, Stiff Little Fingers: Suspect Device & Blondie: Heart of Glass.