The Cult – Nico

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The Cult have just released their new studio album ‘Choice of Weapon‘, and while they no longer possess chart-busting popularity, it would be wildly wrong to suggest they’re far from being done as a musical force, still being able to pull in huge crowds the world over and their standing as a quality rock unit far from diminished. Their 2001 album, ‘Beyond Good and Evil‘, was a quality album, lacking in label backing and packing real understated stadium rock anthems, including the track ‘Nico’, which really is deserving of wider acclaim.
‘Nico’ celebrates the life of the German singer, musician, fashion model and actress Christa ‘Nico’ Päffgen, famous for her role with The Velvet Underground on their debut album ‘The Velvet Underground & Nico‘ before becoming an accomplished solo artist and forging an acting career in French cinema through her relationship with director Phillipe Garrel. She died in 1988 of a severe cerebral haemorrhage while on holiday in Ibiza. Credited as a huge influence on the likes of Morrissey, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bjork and many others, she still commands reverence today. The Cult, through the song ‘Nico’, count as one of the many to have celebrated her in song.
Opening with the riff that gently guides the verses through their course, it sounds every bit the stadium anthem you’d expect from a band of such status. Most lines of each verse begin ‘Hey Nico‘, initially softly spoken but then almost joyously sung by Astbury. The most poignant line in the song comes during the chorus, when Astbury sings ‘I watched your spirit fly/across the velvet sky/the secrets that you hide‘; a sure reference the aforementioned collaboration between The Velvet Underground and Nico.
The Cult – Nico
 
The mid-section takes a slightly darker turn, with Astbury repeating the line ‘And then you fell/straight to hell‘. What this may refer to is something I’m not too sure about, given that if there is a heaven and a hell, judging from the sheer praise Nico received in death, she’d be practically a saint. In an online chat transcript available on the Cult’s website, conducted with Astbury and drummer Matt Sorum in 2001, they answered one fan’s question about the influence two songs on ‘Beyond Good and Evil‘ drew from Nico and another star of the Andy Warhol camp, Edie Sedgwick. The Cult responded regarding ‘Nico’, describing it as ‘…more complex. Nico is one part Nico, one part my girlfriend Rachel, one part an assassin‘. I don’t know jack about Astbury’s personal life, so will not even attempt to analyse that lyric in this way – although I can perhaps see how falling to hell might represent the assassin in Astbury’s view of the song – particularly through the line ‘the secrets that you hide’. The mood soon lifts back up and there’s one more triumphant verse and chorus before the song plays into fadeout.
However, despite charting solidly in America, Spain and Canada, ‘Beyond Good and Evil‘ only sold around half a million copies as sales began to drop. The album and indeed ‘Nico’ are destined to remain one of those overlooked classics thanks to the atrocious handling of the album and the band by then label Atlantic Records. Astbury has claimed in the past that Atlantic attempted to choose singles from the record, the record cover, and even apparently tried to tamper with the lyrics.
 
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Beyond Good and Evil‘ was released roughly around the time I was getting into rock. Someone had lent the CD to my brother and I remember he seemed to like it at the time, and by fledgling interest led to me to give it a listen. Those days don’t half bring back some personal memories. Days when downloading hadn’t truly taken off yet, streaming wasn’t quite possible as broadband had yet to take off. I was still in college, spending my free time wandering around the streets of West Yorkshire, often wandering invariably towards record shops that existed at the time. Yes, record shops! Halifax had Bradley’s Records, Revo Records and Wall of Sound (still around today, now the brilliantly named Vinyl Tap in Huddersfield); Huddersfield had an MVC, a Virgin store (not quite a Megastore) and possibly a HMV, all pre-Kingsgate, and maybe one or two others as well. Summer days were often drifting around these town centre, complete with personal CD player or even Walkman (this was the advent of MP3, after all). Amidst the popular nu-metal of the time, coupled with the odd Slayer or Foo Fighters track, ‘Beyond Good and Evil’ often found a place on my mixtapes, and usually in the form of ‘Nico’ or ‘War (The Process)’.
Those two remain among my favourite songs off the record, and ‘Nico’ almost invariably ends up getting shuffled to my MP3 player of choice more often than not these days, as if it has some strange sort of allure to my ears. I’ve never tired of the song at all and remains one of my favourite songs to date. For me, ‘Beyond Good and Evil‘ is a period from the Cult’s history worth exploring further, even if its not considered their classic material. When you can write songs as good as ‘Nico’, who cares if it was a hit or not, deserving as it should have been?
Peter Clegg
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Melvins – Freak Puke

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Melvins
Freak Puke
Ipecac

This is the first Melvins album since 2004 to not feature the Big Business rhythm section of Jared Warren and Coady Willis. Instead, joining stalwarts Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover is returning member Trevor Dunn, performing on this album with an upright bass. And without disparaging recent Melvins’ efforts – cos they’ve generally been pretty good – the combination the band themselves have dubbed ‘Melvins-Lite’ is Melvins’ freshest-sounding for years, thanks in part to the chunky sounds of that bass and a slightly stripped back sound all round.

Unfortunately, it does feel like ‘Freak Puke‘ takes a little while to get going, owing a lot to the experimentation that seems to be going on during parts of this album. Its easy to get lost in the avant-garde of ‘Inner Ear Rupture’, and the jam session feel that overruns ‘Baby Won’t You Weird Me Out?’ Yet despite this ‘Freak Puke‘ does have some welcome moments on it. The opening track ‘Mr. Rip Off’ is certainly a grower, brooding in its lurking presence with Dunn plucking the thick bass strings to mysterious effect, and the riff fest of ‘Leon vs. The Revolution’ is thoroughly righteous too.

Melvins – Leon vs The Revolution

It perhaps speaks something to me though, when the track I enjoyed the most was their cover of ‘Let Me Roll It’, originally a Paul McCartney & Wings track. It becomes a smouldering blues-rock slow jam and if I heard this version of the song in a bar I would drunkenly sing along to every word. Sure, McCartney and Wings deserve credit for their genius in writing such a song that the Melvins can turn into a dive bar singalong. I can’t say I’d have done this for the original, given all I hear about as a non-fan of Wings is ‘Band on the Run’ or ‘Mull of Kintyre’. Whatever, ‘Let Me Roll It’ is a massively overlooked song, a quality one at that, and the Melvins did a fantastic job of this cover.

All in all, Melvins-Lite is a combination of the Melvins I certainly wouldn’t mind hearing more from in future, given the added groove provided by Dunn’s upright bass. That said, ‘Freak Puke‘ is almost like an unfinished article – not an unfinished work, because that would denote half a job. It’s not their greatest work and I’m still unsure about bits of it, but the Melvins have at least made an intriguing album, which, thirty years on, is no mean feat.

Peter Clegg

Visions: Motörhead – God Save The Queen

So today’s the day of our Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. It’s also my second wedding anniversary!
Enough about my personal life though. Here’s some things you need to know about Motörhead’s cover of one of the Sex Pistols’ biggest hits.
1. I’d wager it’s better than the Pistols’ original. It certainly rocks more.
2. They bothered to make a video for it. And it’s quality, as they perform on a flotilla around ol’ London town.
3. Lemmy. Without a beard! But still the coolest frontman you’ve ever seen.
4. Yep, definitely better than the original.
But that’s my opinion. You can weigh in with your two pennies below. Once you’ve watched the video, that is. It’ll only take around three minutes of your time and it’s more fun that the day’s celebrations, that’s for sure.
Peter Clegg

This is not a tribute


For some reason, I feel compelled to devote time and energy to the subject of tribute bands – a niche of live music that really doesn’t normally interest me and has no relevance to me as it’s not a representation of incoming talent. With the greatest respect to these bands, as good as what they provide might be, I want to hear what the likes of Iron Witch and Zillah have got coming next, and not how good an impression of Phil Lynott a Thin Lizzy tribute act can do.

What has stirred the hornet’s nest, so to speak, is my own gullability. I was drawn in by my local rock bar, The Parish in Huddersfield, putting out a status on Facebook asking how many people liked TURBONEGRO. The post got a fair few appreciative comments with one or two people perhaps wondering and suggesting The Parish were about to announce something big. I certainly did, I’m embarrassed to say. I wish I hadn’t.
Maybe it was the fact Wheatus had just played there. Maybe it was because they’d had big acts in the last year or two. Maybe its because Turbonegro, much as I love them, haven’t had as great a profile in the last couple of years as they did around the middle of the last decade, owing to ill health and the departure of frontman Hank von Helvete…to scientology. I’m fully aware they did recruit ex-Dukes of Nothing singer Tony Sylvester to replace Hank and they’re doing the festival circuit this summer in support of new album ‘Sexual Harassment’. But I could dream. Aside from the aforementioned Wheatus, the venue had recently lured Ginger Wildheart and Fleshgod Apocalypse among its big names to perform there. Surely, surely this was going to be the epic announcement the tease suggested.
Not so. Instead, what was announced was Turbonegra, ‘the world’s number 1 all-female Turbonegro tribute!’ Several people appeared to like the announcement, others said they’d be on it in a shot. Out of respect I declined to comment further simply as I didn’t want to appear to be criticising the venue’s booking strategy (which I have no say in at all), and wasn’t intent on upsetting good friends with my brutally honest assessment.
Which is as follows: Aside from the irony of an all-female Turbonegro tribute potentially singing songs such as ‘Denim Demon’ and ‘I Got…(which I’m sure isn’t lost on them), I really don’t see the appeal. I’ve already seen the previous incarnation of Turbonegro three times, once at the Cockpit in May 2005 which I remember very well due to being on the verge of fainting from sheer sweat and heat exhaustion. That will probably be the Turbonegro experience for me that will never, ever be topped. But more importantly, the real Turbonegro are still very much active – why would I want to see a tribute act when I can wait for the real thing to come around again? And why would I want to tarnish such a memory by watching a band who, as good as they might turn out to be, will never be as good as the band they are imitating?

TURBONEGRO: THE REAL THING

Surely that’s a conundrum that most music fans that live in towns that bands don’t visit very often face. Do you save your money for the day your favourite band announces a tour within accessible reach? Or do you take a wild stab at that really similar sounding tribute act who play the area often? Who knows when Kiss will be back around town? The temptation to instead see Kiss Alive! Or Hotter Than Hell, for example, will always linger for those wanting a Kiss experience but not wanting to fork out the high prices the real Kiss charge. But again, I was lucky enough to see Kiss when they performed at Donington in 2008, an experience I will never, ever forget as long as I live. I even have the copy of the show on CD if I ever get reminiscent.

I’m not a rich guy. I’m comfortable but that’s through hard work and prudent financial sense. I’ve saved for the gigs I want to go to and more often that not, get the necessary bang for my money. I will never disrespect what bands like Turbonegra, Limehouse Lizzy, Hotter Than Hell, Slack Babbath, Motorheadache, Live/Wire et al do, and one day, my opinion may shift. But, while their heroes/heroines are still going strong, I’d rather sit back and wait. I’m not going to regret missing any tribute. I might regret it if I didn’t take my chance there and then to see the real thing live while they were in the UK, or while they were going. Fair enough if the actual band you’re aping isn’t around any more. 101% Pantera is one good example, considering the real Pantera will most likely never perform again owing to Dimebag Darrell’s death. Even then, I’d never feel desperate to want to go and see them.
Maybe I’m being a prude. Maybe I’m losing sight of the fact that a tribute band isn’t really going to make a lot of money out of their fan service, and that what they do is something they do well. Putting the effort in to be their heroes, performing to a range of spectators, not all of whom will regularly chuck themselves into a moshpit and more than likely have only the most passing of interests in rock music. More likely than that, they probably just want a good time, and who can blame them?
I’d love for people to chip in with their opinions. It’s not the most pressing of topics on a blog that is constantly championing fresh new bands. But I personally feel I needed to put it out there, because my own gullability certainly set me up for disappointment – disappointment at which I needed to vent.
Peter Clegg

Visions: Primus – Lee Van Cleef

It feels like ages ago since Primus released ‘Green Naughahyde‘, their first album in 11 years. At last, however, they have released an official video for the song ‘Lee Van Cleef’, which asks the eternal question burning on Les Claypool’s mind – whatever happened to Lee Van Cleef? The question was apparently born out of Claypool’s curiosity as to what became of the late Van Cleef, against the clamour for living legend Clint Eastwood, whom he starred alongside in some of the great Western movies in years gone by, including starring the villainous Angel Eyes in ‘The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly’.

The answer apparently lies here. You see, if you watch ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’ right through to the end credits, you’ll see Angel Eyes reincarnated as a zombie. Apparently.

Peter Clegg

Dope Body – Natural History

Dope Body

Natural History
Drag City
The term ‘punk’ is more loosely defined than ever. Once a defiant statement of rebellion, its label has been applied to some many undeserving things that the lines of what is punk and isn’t punk are more blurred than ever before. Evolution is a welcome thing but the watering down of punk’s description certainly hasn’t been. These days, unless you really sound and look the part and chime in with an acidic bark and a sheer defiance of authority, the next best attributable thing is probably to acts which exudes a hint of apathy and a smattering of could-care-less what you think attitude blended with a penchant for excess. That’s perhaps how I could at least best sum up Baltimore‘s Dope Body, a quartet whose ‘Natural History‘ is perhaps one of the finest dangerous, reckless and indeed careless statements of arguable punk today.

What is noticeable straight away is Dope Body likes to mix things up. ‘Shook’ opens this album and is effectively their arising from slumber, really coming across with a Melvins and assorted slow punk vibe. The following track ‘Road Dog’ is a more straightforward rocker, with a fantastic pre-chorus chant of ‘do what you wanna do/see what you wanna se/go where you wanna go‘ before launching into a more passionate refrain. It’s hard to pick out what I like most about the album, with the fantastic tinkling riff of ‘Twice the Life’, the slow, brooding intent of ‘Out of my Mind’, the easy riding wit of ‘High Way‘ with the line of ‘I’m not hopelessly looking/I’m not hopeless but I’m not looking!‘ all proving to be addictive highlights. If its any justice as well, ‘Weird Mirror’ will be one of the feelgood hits of the summer, even if it were only for its ‘woah-oh’s and careening pace.


I’ve been listening to this record a lot over the last week or so and that I’m still enjoying it and still not tired of it speaks a lot for its quality. This was my first exposure to Dope Body and the results could not have been more stunning. I’m aware their songs were much more punchy and brief in their early days but they’ve evolved into a howling vortex of jarring noise and punk rock energy. It might all be effects and technical wizardry, but guitarist Zachary Utz seems to be able to contort and conjour all manner of noises from his guitar – I could’ve sworn ‘Twice the Life’s twinkling riff was a steel drum at first. The heady brew of sonic sounds is complimented by vocalist Andrew Laumann’s assorted yelps, howls and reverberations and makes for perhaps one of the most exciting bands of our time. Its punk rock thrown in the blender with the Jesus Lizard, Lightning Bolt and other assorted supplements, as if to celebrate your stupor. At the same time, it’s perfectly accessible, losing none of its quality for it either.
I wouldn’t go as far as to say its wholly original, but this experimental approach has certainly paid dividends and I don’t expect it will be too long (or so I hope) before Dope Body break out of the USA and over to Europe and beyond. ‘Natural History‘ is going to be an absolutely compulsory purchase when it drops, as high a compliment as I really give around here. Do it.
Peter Clegg

We Must Obey is one year old!

Holy crap. Little did I know when I started this little blog on May 23rd, 2011, that it would be where it is today. Little did I realise I would have a nice little thing going on, with people from around the world viewing this little site and actually giving a crap about what I, and occasionally Michael, have to say, on subjects as diverse as rock, metal, live music, videos, popular topical culture, idiotic journalists, cake, beer, local issues, etc.
It goes without saying I’d like to thank each and every one of you who has supported the site is anyway since its inception. The labels, the PR firms, the bands, the gig venues. And you, the readers, the fans. And anyone I forgot.
We’re still a small operation and I, in particular, am hampered by woefully falling behind most modern technology and instead am really running this show on a shoestring. Limited access to internet, a laptop that barely works, and a reliance on listening to albums on the commute. If I were forced to continue down that path, I’d still be as happy as the day I started – listening to heavy music is my force majeure, and discovering new bands is my musical caffeine, and forever will be.
At this stage I ought to give a special shout out to Lauren Barley at Rarely Unable, who has done a fantastic job filling me in and keeping me informed on a lot of wonderful heavy music and some weird and wonderful stuff too that has truly broadened my mind. Not least of all for getting me in touch with a world I was previously not used to. A special shout out also goes for Chris at Witch Hunter too, Paul Priest, and any bands and indeed anyone who has e-mailed my inbox in the knowledge of having little or no chance of a reply. And certainly not least, cheers Mike for chipping in with your wonderfully-worded reviews and live pieces. That Five Finger Death Punch rant always makes me chortle.
My lack of resources and indeed the roving eye of copyright means none of you won’t be getting a mixtape out of me, or a sneaky free download or anything like that. However, I decided to give the site a lick of paint, which I sincerely hope you appreciate, and in addition, I’m going to provide you with a video I’m pretty sure is harder to come by than an issue of Kerrang that doesn’t feature the Black Veil Brides these days. This is the Combat Tour 1985, dubbed The Ultimate Revenge, featuring Exodus, Slayer and Venom in their prime. I was only a nipper when this tour took place. The only reason I wish I was about 20 years older. Three kick ass bands, all metal, all raging. Enjoy.
I’m going to mutedly celebrate privately at home tonight with my family and anyone else who happens to be there. With beer. And maybe cake. I deserve it, cos I work my backside off for this blog, and I will as long as it’s humanly possible.
Merci!
Peter Clegg