INDONESIAN JUNK – A Life Of Crimes

Indonesian Junk are one of those bands that, on the surface, have seemed to get better over time. Their self-titled debut album was a bit of a mess with rough production values. Hampered further by a sloppy vocal, it was the kind of record that would only ever find love among the most die-hard garage rock fans. Their second LP featured much sharper songs which truly showed a band with great promise and their third release (2018’s ‘Darkness Calling’), although essentially a stop-gap EP, demonstrated a world of sharp riffs and even sharper attitude. It resulting in a release that truly – and finally – showed Indonesian Junk to be a riff-heavy trio that could take on New York Dolls at their best. With 2019’s full length ‘Spiderbites’ more than keeping up momentum, it seemed as if Indonesian Junk had really hit their stride.

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SAMURAI – Samurai

By the end of the 60s, jazz fusion band The Web had recorded and released two interesting but commercially unsuccessful albums. 1970 found the struggling musicians in a period of minor flux: a change in line-up saw frontman John L. Watson replaced by vocalist/keyboard player Dave Lawson (ex-Alan Bown) and a change of label took the newly christened Web [no longer the definitive; that was so last decade – just ask Pink Floyd] from Deram to Polydor. The new phase saw the release of their third and arguably best known LP, ‘I Spider’. ‘I Spider’ became their most famous work not through any increased exposure or notable sales, but by eventually becoming one of the era’s most sought after rarities.

By 1971, the final Web line-up changed their name to Samurai, switched record companies again and released one sole LP on the Greenwich Gramophone label. Like its predecessors, ‘Samurai’ failed to convince the record buying public and eventually faded into relative obscurity. Much like ‘I Spider’, the Samurai LP gained interest on the collectors’ market over the following quarter of a century, but never really got the mass re-appraisal it deserved. Despite the band showing lots of talents that should have found them mentioned in the same breath as Gentle Giant, King Crimson and early Soft Machine, the name Samurai is likely to be greeted with a shrug.

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THE ROLLING STONES – Steel Wheels Tour: Atlantic City, New Jersey

When The Rolling Stones released ‘Steel Wheels’ at the end of the 80s, they’d spent the better part of a decade coasting off the back of some average albums and a lot of goodwill.  Although when heard many years later the album now sounds like the Stones on autopilot, in 1989 it sounded sharp and vibrant; streets ahead of both 1983’s ‘Undercover’ and 1986’s absolutely turgid ‘Dirty Work’.  The singles ‘Rock & A Hard Place’ and ‘Mixed Emotions’ harked back to solid rockers like ‘Start Me Up’ and ‘Little T&A’ from almost a decade earlier, while tracks like ‘Hold On To Your Hat’ proved the veteran rockers were still more than capable of cutting loose.

A great album deserves a great tour, and in that department, the Stones really didn’t short change their fans either.  The ‘Steel Wheels Tour’ of ’89 – renamed the ‘Urban Jungle Tour’ in 1990 – took the band around the globe and saw them visiting the US shores for the first time since 1981. Fans have already been able to revisit the Steel Wheels tour via a widely circulated show filmed at the Tokyo Dome in 1990, but the earlier show from Atlantic City in December ‘89 outdoes that in almost every respect.

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WAR CLOUD – Chain Gang EP

With their 2017 debut release, US metal titans War Cloud championed a very old fashioned style of music.  In tracks like ‘Red Witch’, their debt to the roots of Black Sabbath seemed obvious, while in faster paced material it was easy to trace influence directly back to ‘Stained Class’ era Judas Priest.  What the record lacked in originality, it made up for with musical chops and a lot of enthusiasm.  2019’s ‘State of Shock’ gave the world more of the same, but cranked up the energy.  By chucking in the odd riff borrowed from Diamond Head and Kiss, the band mined classic rock’s rich past a little further with some very retro results.  Understandably, by this point, those who liked War Cloud seemed to really love them.

Although a global pandemic ground the world to a halt in 2020 and put an end to live gigs for the foreseeable future, War Cloud maintained their presence with a pair of releases.  ‘The Earhammer Sessions’ presented choice cuts replayed live in the studio and, although a strong career overview, didn’t really provide much of an alternative to the original recordings, while ‘Chain Gang’ – a two song stop-gap EP – gave fans something more to enjoy while the band considered their next move.
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CURTIS KNIGHT & THE SQUIRES feat. JIMI HENDRIX – You Can’t Use My Name: The RSVP/PPX Sessions

In 1968, Capitol Records issued a selection of tracks recorded by Curtis Knight with Jimi Hendrix as the ‘Get That Feeling’ LP. These session recordings, made a few years earlier, were a deliberate attempt to cash in on the guitarist’s meteoric rise to fame over the previous eighteen months. Over the years, various combinations of those recordings made for the PPX and RSVP labels were issued as unlicensed albums in shoddy packaging, destined to fill the discount shelves of supermarkets and petrol station shops.

Issued in March 2015, ‘You Can’t Use My Name’ represents the first “Hendrix Family Approved” release of the session material. The chosen numbers allow a good insight into the range and talents of the younger Jimi, making it a worthwhile compilation.

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