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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Deathwank/Wheelchair Wheelchair Wheelchair Wheelchair – Your Scene Means Fuck All

Deathwank/Wheelchair Wheelchair Wheelchair Wheelchair
Your Scene Means Fuck All

Deathwank emerged from the grind cesspool last year as Scotland’s answer to Anal Cunt. Their songs were so ridiculously titled you couldn’t help but thinking they were perhaps aping them a little too closely, especially given that their songs struggled to even reach 30 seconds a time. Here, they play the title track, their only track, at precisely six minutes. It’s here they prove they can be more than pure imitators. It could well be the case that this is several songs rolled into one track, given the high number of time changes, stick clicks and paces on show, all nailed in one take. Whatever, its fucking genius. It’s insane. It’s sounds like the bloated offspring of Melt Banana and The Afternoon Gentlemen, getting bounced from wall to wall, with only the briefest of respites before getting submerged back into its torture cell with no true means of escape. Put simply, this is one of the grind highlights of the year so far.

Conversely, Wheelchair Wheelchair Wheelchair Wheelchair contribute tracks, and in comparison to last year’a fantastic ‘Contraception‘, is altogether more concerned with brevity than concept. This despite an intro and outro track, both sounding suspiciously like a TV theme tune in structure  bookending their side of the split. It’s rampant and chaotic, only truly letting up with a truly phlegm-wretching snarl during ‘A Film That No One Ever Watches’, the only post-minute track they post.

It’s two very different approaches to grind, though the end product is still the same. If it were a boxing match, I’d perhaps hand it to Deathwank on this occasion, simply for breaking out of their micro-shackles in favour of a singular take rollercoaster of insanity. Still, ‘Your Scene Means Fuck All‘ is ridiculously great stuff all the way through, and has left me greatly anticipating each band’s next move, particularly the new Wheelchair x4 album, which promises a sexual concept. Nice.

Peter Clegg

Download Deathwank’s side here
Download Wheelchair Wheelchair Wheelchair Wheelchair’s side here

Stream each side of ‘Your Scene Means Fuck All’ below:

http://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/v=2/album=3340120823/size=venti/bgcol=FFFFFF/linkcol=4285BB/

http://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/v=2/album=827672646/size=venti/bgcol=df9fc6/linkcol=2e2e2e/

Deathwank Bandcamp
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Wheelchair Wheelchair Wheelchair Wheelchair Bandcamp
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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

Shameless Plug: Wort – Worts N’ All!


I’m not going to review this EP properly because although it doesn’t contain me as a band member, it does contain fellow contributor Mike as well as my other Poison Dwarf bandmate Phil. They are now part of new band Wort, and play diabolical blackened sludge/doom metal. Completing the line-up is Sanhedrin drummer Sam, who I must say takes my place in this offshoot band and puts in one hell of a shift. Their debut EP ‘Worts N’All!‘ was released recently and I unashamedly can say it rules. Four tracks of face pummelling sludge channelling the usual suspects of Black Sabbath, Bongzilla, Electric Wizard, Dragged Into Sunlight, Grief, Eyehategod and more besides. If I didn’t have obvious bias I’d give it a full review – nonetheless, tracks like ‘KDK12’ and ‘Plumplestiltskib’ absolutely slam with all their misanthropic intensity – I personally love the whole thing and ain’t ashamed to state it right here.

You can stream the whole thing below here, and the EP is available as a free download on Bandcamp. Go get it now and keep in touch with them – hopefully they’ll be playing a show near you very soon!
Peter Clegg

http://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/v=2/album=2896679365/size=venti/bgcol=000000/linkcol=b0b0b0/

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

Live Review: Black Sabbath @ O2 Academy, Birmingham, 19/05/2012

First of all I would like to highlight the predictability of this “review”, which can’t realistically be called a review, because that would imply it was an objective analysis. Attempting to write anything too derogatory about Black Sabbath might be compared to asking a devout Roman catholic to sodomize our good Pope Benedict XVI. This wouldn’t be a good example, because Black Sabbath are the creators, not an implement, secondly, I cannot vouch for the extent of sexual deviancy within the Catholic church.

After several hours of getting steadily giddier in Scruffy Murphies, (a place where a disregard for the decade leaves band t-shirts tightly tucked into denim) where the Sabbath discography was being worked through, we made our way to the O2 Academy. After being frisked and a quick bar visit it struck me that I was possibly going to have to stay in the same spot for the entire concert. The crowd were packed thick from the front to the very back and I had little hope of gaining much ground even if I coated myself in Vaseline drank away my conscience and ran screaming into these good people.

My worries about the view disappear when Ozzy’s voice screams out and an eruption of noise and raised hands is the crowd’s response. The Lord of the riff plays a rising scale and ‘Into The Void’, tears open the night. Concerns about the band’s enthusiasm or ability to play as they might have are immediately smashed. Ozzy sounds powerful and is as animated as I’ve seen him, grinning manically (possibly due to surgery) with blackened eyes, looking like an erratic jack in a box designed by Tim Burton. Tony’s flawless evil groove and biting licks are executed effortlessly, all while wearing his sun glasses and a thick leather jacket which must have been warmer than hell, his demeanour relaxed and emotionless bar the occasional telling smile. After War Pigs, Ozzy stated that people often complain about the lack of early material. The words “Black Sabbath” commence what was without a doubt the greatest part of the night. A glimpse into a part of history that created and evolved into heavy music as we know it today was possible, the intensity and raw heavy power of what Black Sabbath were in the early days electrified the atmosphere, with Geezer’s brilliant and ever changing bass lines maintaining the stomping groove throughout ‘Black Sabbath’, ‘The Wizard’, ‘NIB’ and ‘Fairies Wear Boots’.

It was during this frenzy of greatness that the androids I had situated myself amongst seemed to become increasingly disturbed by my movement, and general display of human emotion. Unequipped for dealing with this humanoid situation they began to shove and elbow me in confusion. For a brief moment, I stopped, puzzled. Tickets were hardly in abundance, this was a show for true Sabbath fans and these nerds are more concerned with me than the fucking Wizard and Lucifer! Ridden of guilt I informed them I wasn’t there to fry their circuits and ploughed through to much greener pastures (or a better view and section of the crowd).

The atmosphere had peaked and the coke fuelled uplift of ‘Tomorrow’s Dream gave way to the crushing Haze of ‘Sweet Leaf’. More early album greats came before the less predictable but very enjoyable ‘Dirty Women’. After being promised one more song if we were loud enough, very predictably, ‘Paranoid’ was played. I’ve never been sure why it’s a favourite and was a great deal more excited when they teased with the intro to ‘Sabbath Bloody Sabbath’ before playing it. The crowd explode one last time and a spectacular night is over.

It was a pleasure to see how much the band enjoyed it, with Ozzy joking amongst them, hugging Tony and calling him the Iron Man. The obvious void that Bill (Ward) left is a great shame and I’m sure he’ll feel that more than anyone. I’d be lying if I said that this put a downer on the performance in anyway, bar a “Bill”, chant that went pretty strong during a short drum solo. I’m not sure it was a very good idea to draw attention to the poor bastard sitting in (that’ll be Tommy Clufetos – PC) but he was soon rescued by the rest of the band. All in all Black Sabbath at the O2 Academy was the experience of a lifetime and one I’m honoured to have witnessed.
Michael Collins

Trippy Wicked & The Cosmic Children of the Knight – Going Home

Trippy Wicked & The Cosmic Children of the Knight
Going Home
Superhot
Despite my burgeoning interest in what the UK underground has to offer, which was sparked by the creation of We Must Obey, it has taken me until now to check out the fantastically monikered Trippy Wicked & The Cosmic Children of the Knight. Only earlier this year they released an acoustic performance of Eyehategod’s ‘Dixie Whiskey’, played on a ukulele and with a melody the song had never seen before. It was genius. Therefore when notified of the release of their new album ‘Going Home‘, I was on it in a flash.

Initially, all is well – the title track starts proceedings and is a nine-minute sludgy rock journey. Epic is an entirely appropriate word to use here because it’s a divine track, really feeling like a voyage by the end, and Pete ‘Trippy’ Holland (who already contributed some cracking backing vocals to Stubb’s debut album earlier this year) really carries you home. Literally, he’s one of the best rock vocalists going at this minute. This theme doesn’t really run through the remainder of the record, as they get down to some nitty gritty blues rock riffs most of the rest of the way. The trouble is, after the initial promise of the first few tracks, they get mired it constant singing about alcohol and wanting another drink. Musically, its not bad at all, actually really enjoyable with some good rock action going on. The lyrics just let it down as it makes it sound very clichéd. By the time ‘Change My Way’ comes around as an act of redemption it’s a little too late, and the show’s over by then.
I can’t help but think if the tracklisting was played in reverse it might sound better. I just think that the euphoria I got from the title track would have been an ideal note to finish on. Nevertheless, for my all niggling, ‘Going Home‘ is still a solid album and fans of folky, whiskey-soaked rock are bound to go for this, as much as I’m keen to explore Trippy Wicked further. I’m a whiskey lover too, but I’d personally like to think Trippy Wicked can broaden their horizons come album number three.
Peter Clegg
Stream it below: