Robert Pollard’s Guide To The 60s – Tape 30: Selected Tracks by The Attack / Seven Lonely Street – Andromeda

Another tape where Uncle Bob failed to name an album, so we have handpicked 10 tracks from The Attack to review along with a compilation of unreleased recorcordings from Andromeda, featuring at least one of the same musicians.

You can find out what we made of this little lot by clicking on the image below.

Our chats about the previous tapes can be found where you found this one.

To avoid any potential disappointment on missing out on the next show, make sure you follow our podcast on Spotify or subscribe on Apple Podcasts.

Robert Pollard’s Guide To The 60s – Tape 29: Deja Vu – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young / After The Goldrush – Neil Young

If you’re a fan of band in-fighting, and, frankly, who isn’t? – this podcast will be right up your 4-Way Street. The undoubted talents of David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash and Neil Young combined with their undoubted egos make for quite the tale as we consider the merits of the CSN&Y album, Deja Vu and the Neil Young solo album that followed, After The Goldrush.

Just look at those happy faces!

You can find out what we made of both albums by clicking on the image below.

Kicker mentioned putting together a playlist of Neil Young Piano songs, but Mr Young doesn’t make it very easy to share his songs online (rightly, I guess), so here’s a list for you to put the playlist together yourselves. Please let us know what we need to add!


After The Goldrush

Borrowed Tune

Love In Mind

My Heart

It’s A Dream

A Man Needs A Maid




Journey Through The Past

Speakin’ Out

Our chats about the previous tapes can be found where you found this one.

To avoid any potential disappointment on missing out on the next show, make sure you follow our podcast on Spotify or subscribe on Apple Podcasts.

Spare Snare – The Brutal (Album review with Jan Burnett)

Despite Kicker getting the name of the album wrong and mishearing some of the lyrics, Jan Burnett still agrees to talk him through the making of the brilliant new Spare Snare album, The Brutal, ahead of its release in May.

Listen to their engaging and informative (at least from one of the parties) chat by clicking on the album artwork below.

The new album is available for pre-order now on vinyl, CD and download:

You can also see the band live during May and June, and we very much recommend that you do.

Our earlier chat with Jan can be found here: Q&A with Jan Burnett

You can find the Spare Snare back catalogue on Bandcamp.

You should also join the Spare Snare Subscription service to make sure you don’t miss out on any of those rare releases.

Robert Pollard’s Guide To The 60s – Tape 28: Selected tracks from Wimple Winch and Keith West

This is the first of Robert Pollard’s tapes that did not specify any particular albums, rather just the two artists: Wimple Winch and Keith West.

All of the tracks Kicker and Chorizo listened to were taken from the two compilation albums pictured below.

You can find out what we made of them by clicking on the image below.

The highly recommended compilation album that Kicker talks about is this one:

Chorizo also found an interesting interview with Keith West that you can find by clicking on the picture below.

Our chats about the previous tapes can be found where you found this one.

To avoid any potential disappointment on missing out on the next show, make sure you follow our podcast on Spotify or subscribe on Apple Podcasts.

Q & A with Simon Love + 2 exclusive acoustic songs

Here’s our interview with Simon Love, a long-term favourite of ours here at TTW.

Don’t miss this one because the recording also includes a couple of exclusive “in session” performances. Simon plays a couple of acoustic songs, one old favourite and the premiere of a brand new song.

Download here

Related posts

Robert Pollard’s Guide To The 60s – Tape 27: We Are Ever So Clean – Blossom Toes / The Savage Resurrection – The Savage Resurrection

A couple of more obscure albums for the Wizards to chew over this time round. We have the first Blossom Toes album, often hailed as a pop sike masterpiece, and the self-titled, and only, album by The Savage Resurrection, a favourite of Mr Bevis Frond no less.

Find out what Kicker and Chorizo made of both by clicking on the image below.

Our chats about the previous tapes can be found where you found this one.

To avoid any potential disappointment on missing out on the next show, make sure you follow our podcast on Spotify or subscribe on Apple Podcasts.

Robert Pollard’s Guide To The 60s – Tape 26: Blonde On Blonde – Bob Dylan

You can definitely believe us, we are not liars, it’s Bob Dylan’s 1966 double album masterpiece that’s under review.

Full libraries have previously been written about this album, but that doesn’t hold the wizards back from making their opinions known with insights such as ‘just look at that sideways cover’, etc. [Sake – TTW Ed]

We also managed to squeeze in a Dylan lyrics quiz for good measure. Check that out, and what we make of these 4 sides of peak Dylan, by clicking on the image below.

Chorizo also unearthed an old Mojo list of Dylan songs, where we found that they were completely wrong in their placement of the songs they included from Blonde On Blonde (see below), and an interesting article on the making of the album from one of the studio janitors (from Uncut magazine, June 2021).

86 Fourth Time Around

67 One of Us Must Know

59 Mephis Blues Again

58 Rainy day Women

28 I Want You

21 Visions Of Johanna

10 Just Like A Woman

3 Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands

Our chats about the previous tapes can be found where you found this one.

To avoid any potential disappointment on missing out on the next show, make sure you follow our podcast on Spotify or subscribe on Apple Podcasts.

M.J. Hibbett’s 1000th gig!

Next Thursday (2nd Feb) M.J. Hibbett will be playing his 1000th gig. It’s at The King And Queen pub in London & it’s also being livestreamed so there’s no excuses for missing it.

I happen to know there’s a blue plaque on the former home of another great English wordsmith Samuel Taylor Coleridge just down the road from that pub so be sure to check that out if you’re going to the gig.

We took the opportunity to grill Mark and his bandmates for some recollections from the previous 999 gigs.

It should be pointed out that Mark has been in several gigging bands over the years, notably Voon, The Council, The Durham Ox Singers and The Validators. The Validators are Frankie, Tom, Tim and Emma and they’ll be referred to throughout, as will Mark’s musical theatre partner Mr Steve Hewitt.

First gig
3 February 1988, Deacon’s School Hall
My very first band, The Masters Of Nothing, played a song at a Comic Relief gig that I organised in sixth form. It was called “A Minus Work” and was about one of our teachers getting drunk. “Do you want any more?” I shouted at the end. “NO!” shouted the audience.

Coldest gig
19 January 2001, Upstairs at The Garage, London
It was freezing cold and everyone had to keep their coats on. Afterwards a very attractive woman came up to me and said “It’s so cold! Feel my hands!” and put them on my face. Six months later we started going out, 22 years after that we still are!

Hottest gig
26 July 2009, a train carriage, Indietracks
The carriage was so full of people who actually wanted to see me that I had to fight to get in myself, and then we set off down the tracks for half an hour on the hottest day of the year. I reckon I lost about three stone.

Drunkest gig (onstage)
10 August 1996, Abbey Park Festival, Leicester
A hotly debated category, but I think this is probably the drunkest gig I ever did. The Council were headlining (or “going on last” depending on how you look at it) on a stage sponsored by Bass Brewery and we’d been backstage making our way through the ten foot high tower of free beer since lunchtime. Tim was also in The Council and he was heartily sick by the side of the stage, and then I completely forgot how guitars worked. Emma was there too, on her second date with Tim, and she still married him!

Drunkest gig (audience)
4 March 2006, Carpe Diem, Leeds
Everyone always seemed to be drunk every time we played Leeds. I distinctly remember getting off the train one time and nearly being knocked down by a fire engine with a hen do hanging out of the windows, and on this occasion I had to grab somebody by the throat to stop them getting onstage with me.

Smallest crowd
11 December 2008, Green Dragon Yard, Middlesbrough
I have played many many gigs where you could count the audience members on the fingers of one hand, or indeed on the fingers of one finger, but on this occassion the audience was a security guard. When he went to the loo at one point I was left playing to nobody at all. It was all a bit Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead – was it really a gig without an audience? Afterwards a pal turned up, and we sat in a pub watching two pensioners have a fist fight.

Biggest crowd
17 July 2006, Radio One
The Validators played a live session on Steve Lamacq’s Evening Session, which had an audience of over a million people. It was terrifying, and also ridiculous, especially when he read out a question from a listener who turned out to be my mum!

Friendliest gig
29 July 2017, Indietracks
Indietracks gigs were always the best gigs with the loveliest people, and this was the last one we did. Pretty much everyone who liked us turned up, and it felt like we were in U2 or something. This would also qualify as “Gig with the most hugs.” [Rebel Rikkit & I were at this gig and we actually mentioned the hugging in our podcast review of that festival.]

Most hostile gig
16 May 2009, Moulsecoomb Forest Garden and Wildlife Project, Brighton
Me and Steve went down to Brighton for a performance of “My Exciting Life In ROCK” in a small forest to an audience of young offenders who threw sticks at us. I gave them a RIGHT telling off, and they were good as gold after that.

Tastiest gig
19 October 2022, The Pipeline, Brighton
A massive slap-up feed in a Vegan Pub. When I first started doing gigs vegetarian food was mostly big pots of “Veggie Chilli”, but now it’s amazing!

Shortest gig
30 April 2022, Bescot Stadium, Walsall
I’ve done several gigs at Retro Computing events where I just turn up and play “Hey Hey 16K”. They’re always great but this one was especially fab because I got to meet Sandy White, the writer of “3D Ant Attack”, who turned out to be a really lovely bloke.

Longest gig
9 August 1995, Town Hall Square, Leicester
I organised a one-off performance where pretty much everybody I knew in bands in Leicester got mixed up into different groups and then had to write songs about a specific period of life on Earth. We performed it all in front of the town hall one sunny afternoon to some very bemused passers by and were paid £100 by the council (the actual council, not The Council). This was spent on a massive round of beer for everybody in The Durham Ox round the corner. The show was called “The History Of Life”, and I’m sure it felt about that long for people watching!

Favourite people you’ve shared a bill with
Doing gigs is a brilliant wanker-filter – plenty of tosspots want to be rock stars, but after about nine months or so they’ve given up, leaving a rich soup of excellent people to carry on. That means there’s too many to choose from really, but I will say that that (apart from people I’ve been in bands with) I’ve chosen to do the most gigs with Winston Echo, Tim Eveleigh, Charlie Flowers, Pete Green, Jenny Lockyer, Gavin Osborn, Grace Petrie, Chris T-T and Matt Tiller. They are all ace!

Most consecutive gigs played
3-14 August 2013, Edinburgh Fringe
This was the year Steve and I did our show “Total Hero Team” at the Fringe – 22 gigs in 12 days, it was knackering!

Most Northerly gig
30 July 2009, Southside Cavern, Stockholm
An indie festival in a pub and then a park. The gig was great but the weekend around it was amazing, Stockholm is brilliant!

Most Easterly gig location
(apart from the above) 13 November 2009, Ostpol, Dresden
This would also be a contender for drunkest and friendliest gig – me, Frankie and Tim were plied with booze and food then went onstage just before midnight for a hugely enthusiastic audience of lovely Germans. We went to bed at 5am in the “artists’ flat”, which was some sofa foam above a rehearsal room and were woken up four hours later by somebody drumming beneath us. It was wonderful, and it was pretty much the same when we went back again a year later.

Most Southerly gig location
10 December 2005, Avaganda, Whakatane
My brother’s wedding reception in New Zealand – we stopped off in several places on the way, including…

Most Westerly gig location
23 November 2005, The Cake Shop, New York
It was coming up for Thanksgiving so the only gig I could find was at an open mic with some poets and interpretive dance strippers. There were no guitars so I had to sing acapella, but I did get a song out of it called, unsurprisingly, “I Did A Gig In New York”. [CG: and what a fine song it is too!]

Most people onstage
14 August 1999, Abbey Park Festival, Leicester
A very early Validators gig, with the five-piece Validators, various Guest Artistes, and The Durham Ox Singers on backing vocals. I think there were about 14 of us at one point, although I’d been on-site since 7am helping to set up the stage so it looked like about 28 to me.

Favourite gig flyers / posters
The comics artist John Allison did the posters for our “Total Hero Team” show – we sent him lots of pictures of me and Steve wearing various hats and he used them to create an amazing poster of us as superheroes. Another favourite was a poster for The Council which Neil did featuring entirely made-up quotes. “The Council are the best band ever, and if you’re in a band you might as well give up because you’ll be rubbish compared to them” – NME

Gigs you wish had been recorded for posterity
Most recordings are a bit rubbish compared to the gig itself, especially for someone like me whose appeal can be slightly tarnished by sobriety. What I’d really like to see would be videos of some of the audiences and venues – you can see bands any time, but you’ll never see the upstairs room at The Magazine Hotel ever again!

As yet unfulfilled ambitions for the next 1000 gigs? Personally I always wanted to play a gig on the back of a flatbed truck.
I’ve played on a fair few trucks, and they’re always slightly disappointing. I think it’s because I’ve always imagined them driving round in a parade or something. What I’d really like to do would be to write something for somebody else, like a musical or a show, and then go and see them do it instead of me. That way I could have as much to drink as I liked without worrying about forgetting the words!

Any other business?

I’ve just realised that there aren’t any gigs by Voon or The Durham Ox Singers here. If you’d asked for “Gig most likely to explode the venue”, “Gig where you pretended the keyboard player was in prison”, or “Gig where you terrified a Punk Legend” they would have been, but maybe we’ll save that for Gig 2000!

Related links:

Robert Pollard’s Guide To The 60s – Tape 25: David Bowie – Man Of Words, Man Of Music / T. Rex – T. Rex

The second David Bowie album, the second eponymous one, or Space Oddity, or, if you were buying it in Dayton, Ohio back in 1969, Man Of Words, Man Of Music, anyway, THAT one, is under review with the third T. Rex (no longer Tyrannosauraus Rex) album, and yes, that too is eponymous.

As it turns out, there are quite a few connections between these two albums, and you can hear what Kicker and Chorizo make of them by clicking on the image below.

This is where Kicker first became a T Rex fan.

Our chats about the previous tapes can be found where you found this one.

To avoid any potential disappointment on missing out on the next show, make sure you follow our podcast on Spotify or subscribe on Apple Podcasts.

Chorizo’s favourite things of 2022: Part 2

If you haven’t done so already, then have a read of my round-up of the 36 gigs I went to this year. You can also hear us play and discuss 24 of my favourite songs of 2022 in this podcast right here.

So to conclude my end-of-year summary, I present to you a list of my favourite things that have entered into my ears and eyes.

Top 3 favourite albums

In no particular order beacuse I really can’t choose a favourite from these! Please support musicians by using the links below to buy their music if you like it.

Other favourite albums (in no particular order)

Favourite instrumental albums (almost entirely instrumental anyway!)

Favourite EPs

Favourite series of singles

The “24 Songs” project by The Wedding Present. So many great songs, looking forward to hearing them live in 2023!

Favourite covers

  • Octopussy – Lande Hekt (originally by The Wedding Present)
  • Word On A Wing – Dana Gavanski (originally by David Bowie)

Favourite re-issues

Favourite fiction books

Favourite music books

Favourite other non-fiction books

  • Fight! – Harry Hill
  • Humankind – Rutger Bregman
  • Ramblebook – Adam Buxton
  • 50 Memorable And Unusual QPR Matches – Ray Eaton
  • Once Upon A Time In Italy: The Westerns of Sergio Leone – Christopher Frayling

Favourite films (not necessarily released this year, but I watched them in 2022)

Best film I’ve seen this year is Beyond The Infinite Two Minutes, a brilliant Japanese time travel story.

Others I’ve really enjoyed…

  • The Decline
  • All Quiet On The Western Front
  • The Martian
  • The Forgotten Battle
  • Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness
  • Midsommar
  • Everything Everywhere All At Once
  • Get Duked!

Favourite TV

  • Guillermo Del Toro’s Cabinet Of Curiosities (Netflix) – an anthology series of 8 horror stories, each by a different director. Each episode has no relation to the others so you can watch them in any order. I especially recommend episodes 1 2 3 4 7 and 8.
  • Moon Knight (Marvel/Disney+) – my son & I are in agreement that this is our favourite Marvel TV series so far
  • The North Water (BBC) – Colin Farrell, Stephen Graham and their shipmates sail off into the Arctic to kill a few whales. A bit like The Terror but better.

Favourite music documentaries

  • Long Hot Summers: The Story Of The Style Council
  • The Jam: About The Young Idea
  • Almost Fashionable: A Film About Travis
  • Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliche
  • Crock Of Gold: A Few Rounds With Shane MacGowan
  • Basically Johnny Moped
  • Bunch of Kunst: A Film About Sleaford Mods
  • David Byrne’s American Utopia
  • 2 Tone: The Sound Of Coventry

Favourite non-music documentaries

  • Finding Jack Charlton
  • 14 Peaks
  • I Believe In Miracles
  • Gods Of Snooker

Favourite podcasts / radio shows

  • Acid Dream: The Great LSD Plot (BBC Sounds) – This series tells the story of the biggest drugs bust ever made, the same one The Clash were singing about in Julie’s Been Working For The Drug Squad.
  • Year of the Stevie – podcast telling the life story of Stevie Wonder, made by BDWPS who also did the brilliant Year of the Joni
  • A Life In Music (BBC Sounds) – Music writer Jude Rogers talks to musicians and scientists about the intense impact music can make at different ages
  • Quiet Part Loud (Spotify) – a cracking horror / sci-fi story about a radio shock jock and creepy goings-on in Staten Island

Best bit of the World Cup

Ilias Chair the football genius coming on as sub for Morocco against Croatia.

Previous end of year podcasts:

Related articles:

Chorizo’s favourite things of 2022: Part 1 The Gigs

Time for a round-up of my adventures in gig-going this year. 36 gigs to talk about, which is not quite back up to my pre-pandemic levels but it’s getting close. Here are a few of my thoughts along with the obligatory poor quality photos.

Gogo Penguin @ Yes, Manchester (19th January)

The first 3 gigs of the year were all at Yes in Manchester.

It’s a venue I love going to not just for the music but also for the food and in particularly the “Bad Girl” vegan kebab by Doner Summer. I’ve gone on about those kebabs to Mrs Garbanzo so much that whenever I’m going to Manchester now she jokes that I’m going to see “the other woman.”

Apparently this was Gogo Penguin‘s first gig in 2 years and it was the debut gig for the new drummer Jon Scott. Hard to fathom when you hear the 3 of them playing like that! Nick Blacka’s double bass defines the band’s sound and reminds me how much I used to love seeing Red Snapper in the 1990s but it’s Chris Illingworth’s piano playing that I couldn’t help being hypnotised by.

Squid / Minor Conflict @ Yes, Manchester (21st January)

Support act Minor Conflict have a singer playing a harp, I think that’s the first time I’ve seen that.

I was seeing headliners Squid for the 2nd time having previously seen them at EBGBs in Liverpool in October 2019. This gig was even better, both band and crowd were fantastic. You can get a sense of it in this video.

The Surfing Magazines / Granfalloon @ Yes Basement, Manchester (4th February)

I’ve seen Granfalloon before when they supported The Burning Hell at The Eagle in Salford in 2017, and further down this page I will be seeing them again supporting the same band. At both of those gigs, it was just one person (Richard) with his acoustic guitar but at this gig he had a really great band with him. Whether band or solo, you can’t help but be won over by Richard’s onstage charm, catchy songs and his Gorkys-like knack for finding lyrical inspiration in unusual places. Watch the “Bee On A String” video to see what I mean.

I saw The Surfing Magazines play a brilliant gig at Soup Kitchen in 2017 so I was looking forward to seeing them again and they did not disappoint! They opened the gig with a cover of Jonathan Richman’s instrumental hit “Egyptian Reggae.” Later we got covers of Neil Young & The Velvet Underground as well as most of the songs from their second, and in my opinion best, album “Badgers Of Wymeswold.” Like their sister band The Wave Pictures, those onstage are clearly having just as much fun as we are off it.

Even by my own low standards, this photo is a particularly rubbish one! Bassist Franic is hidden behind “Doctor” Charle Watson & the unfortunate speaker positioning gives the impression that David’s head is a big black rectangle.

Dana Gavanski / Naima Bock @ The Deaf Institute, Manchester (3rd March)

We only caught the last couple of songs from Naima Bock who was playing solo. Her voice was stunning and her album “Giant Palm” has become probably my favourite of the year.

I’d wanted to see Dana Gavanski at Manchester Psych Fest in 2021 but she clashed with some others so I was grateful for another chance to see “the Canadian Cate Le Bon.”

She played a lot of new songs, which have since been released on the excellent “When It Comes” album. She finished with a cover of Marianne Faithfull’s “Broken English” whose lyrics were particularly appropriate given Russia’s actions in Ukraine a few days earlier. She didn’t play her brilliant cover of one of my favourite David Bowie songs “Word On A Wing” but you can listen and buy it here.

McLusky* / Cowtown @ Gorilla, Manchester (4th April)

The first of several gigs this year where a support band I really like was added to the bill after I’d bought tickets. An unexpected piece of good luck!

I’m not sure who was scheduled to be supporting tonight but they had to pull out with Coronavirus so we got Cowtown instead. What a bonus!

In 2017, I caught the last song of Cowtown at Indietracks festival and I was impressed enough to go and see them the following year when they played Soup Kitchen with the equally fab Crumbs supporting.

Despite the bandname they are not from Texas, they are a 3-piece from Leeds and they were just as great as the previous time I saw them. They had some great-sounding new songs but also played “old” ones like Bugging Out, Castleman and Monotone Face.
Looks like the drummer missed the memo about the band dresscode for the night, stripy tops & big socks.

It’s the McLusky Do Dallas 20th anniversary tour so we get the whole of that fabulous album with a few songs from the 3rd album in the middle. You probably don’t need me to tell you how great it was to hear those songs played at very high volume in a roomful of bouncing nutjobs, most of whom seem far too young to have bought that album in 2002 but clearly know even more of the words than I do.

Sing it!

Mdou Moctar @ Yes, Manchester (12th April)

As it says in the Tweet below “What a band! What a gig!”

The short videoclip here really doesn’t do it justice, particularly drummer Souleymane Ibrahim who was just amazing!! Watch this recent live session for more.

Tindersticks @ The Forum, Bath (29th April)

Tindersticks @ Royal Festival Hall, London (1st May)

When Tindersticks announced the dates for their 30th anniversary tour, I was initially disappointed that there were only 2 gigs in the UK and none in the North where I live.

But then I noticed the 2 UK dates were in cities where my 2 oldest mates live so a few WhatsApp messages later, Simon Richard and me had arranged a spectacular looking Bank Holiday weekend!!

For the Bath gig on the Friday night, we had the best seats in the house right in the middle of the front row. Before the tour they’d promised a career-spanning set and that’s exactly what we got. Impossible to pick highlights because every song was just great.

The core bandmembers were joined by a string quartet and some additional special guests. These included Terry Edwards who quietly wandered onstage towards the end of “Sleepy Song” to perfectly replicate the incredible trumpet solo on the original and singer Gina Foster who sang backing vocals on several songs and duetted brilliantly with Stuart on “Travelling Light.”

London’s Royal Festival Hall is a considerably larger venue and before the gig you could sense a real buzz of excitement in the sold-out crowd. We were up in the balcony for this one but just like Friday, a life-affirming gig that will live long in the memory. A much larger string section here and Stuart’s vocals thankfully a bit higher in the mix and clearer compared to the Bath gig. Setlist almost identical but we got “City Sickness” in place of “The Other Side Of The World.” I adore both those songs but it was cool that we got “City Sickness” because that was the song that had made Simon into a Tindersticks fan when I’d put it on a mixtape I gave him in the mid-90s.

In a quiet moment between songs at Bath, an audience member had very politely called out a request for a relatively obscure song, originally released on the b-side of 1993 single Marbles: “Stuart, can you play For Those pleeeeeease!” The band clearly took note because we got that very song in the encore, introduced by Stuart saying how they hadn’t played it in 25 years!

My 14th and 15th time seeing Tindersticks and it really is difficult to convey how much I loved seeing this wonderful band and how great it was to be attending those gigs with 2 of my best friends.

Public Service Broadcasting / Worldcub @ Focus Wales festival, Wrexham (5th May)

This was my second time at Focus Wales festival (my 2019 review is here)

Lots of great bands playing over the weekend but other commitments meant I was only able to go for one evening.

There’s live music going on all over the town (as it was then, it’s now a city!) and I saw snippets of quite a few bands. Local group Worldcub made a big impression on me and I’d strongly recommend their recent EP.

As much as I like the Public Service Broadcasting albums I own, I have to say I was not prepared for just how overwhelmingly awesome they are as a live band!! They really put on a show, the lights, the visuals, everything, just fantastic! Even some actual astronauts onstage for “Gagarin”

You might want to try their “Bright Magic” podcast series which tells the fascinating story behind the making of their most recent album.

The Lazy Eyes / The Flints @ The Deaf Institute, Manchester (17th May)

The Flints were really good but don’t seem to have any music out or any obtainable online presence. If you search online for a band called The Flints then you get a different band who aren’t nearly as good.

I loved the 2 EPs that Australian psychedelic funksters The Lazy Eyes released in 2021 and all 6 songs from those are present on their 2022 debut album “Songbook” along with another 6 belters. The gig was pretty much the album in full with long hair flying all over the place. Man, those kids can play!

Yard Act / Nuha Ruby Ra @ Zanzibar, Liverpool (19th May)

This gig was moved at the last minute from District to Zanzibar and upon arrival it took me a while to work out why it looked familiar. (I’d seen Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint do a “secret” gig here in 2007, it was called The New Picket then.)

Friend of the Trust The Wizards website Will from the Undilutable Slang Truth was at this one and it was good to catch up with him for the first time in a few years. Check out his gig review here.

Difficult to describe the kind of music Nuha Ruby Ra makes so it’s probably best you watch this YouTube clip. Half a song in I was thinking “this is going to be a long night” but once I got into it I really liked it. The closest comparison I could come up with at the time was Tricky and just like the Knowle West Boy, the music is somehow accessible whilst simultaneously being very, very unusual.

Last time I saw Yard Act was at Manchester Psych Fest last year where I predicted that they’d soon be headlining such festivals. With their debut reaching number 2 in the actual album charts, they are still on that trajectory and deservedly so.

In 2014, we called singer James “the epitome of the angry young man” when we reviewed his previous band Post War Glamour Girls but unlike most angry young men, he has a real talent for articulating that into poetry.

Dead Horse and Peanuts were my highlights tonight.

The venue was really packed for this one and my photos are exceptionally poor. Partly due the very tall yet exceptionally well-mannered young man, wearing a leather jacket with the Motorhead logo on the back, who stood directly in front of me but turned round several times to apologise for doing so.

The Wedding Present @ Arts Club, Liverpool (21st May)

Some dates of the tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of my favourite Wedding Present album “Seamonsters” went ahead as planned in late 2021 but most of the tour were postponed until this year.

I’d bought tickets for 3 gigs last year but a poorly timed positive Covid test meant I couldn’t go to the Manchester and Chester ones. My 10 day quarantine ended the day of the London gig so I went to that, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I should have done because I was still feeling pretty unwell. As with many previous Wedding Present gigs I went to that London gig with my old pals Richard, Mike and Simon. The 4 of us have been avid Wedding Present gig-goers since our teenage years.

I had read David Gedge saying that this tour was going to be the last time they would play “Seamonsters” in full so I decided that I was going to see this tour as many times as possible.

Unfortunately we were unaware that this Liverpool gig had an early start so we actually missed Side 1. The rest of the gig was great though and my 25th Wedding Present gig was also notable for being the first one Mrs Garbanzo has been to!

More (much more!) on this tour further down the page.

Altın Gün / Stealing Sheep @ The Ritz, Manchester (26th May)

Another “bonus” support band with Stealing Sheep being a very welcome late addition to the bill. Second gig in a row where a band was wearing matching boiler suits by the way. A lot going on visually as well musically. Great dance moves and unlike The Wedding Present their boiler suits were inflatable so they looked like dancing Stay Puft marshmellow people.

The rest of the evening was even better, filled as it was with dry ice and trippy psychedelic rock. Altın Gün, Satellites and Kit Sebastian, all putting out great albums of Turkish-influenced music recently.

The evening was slightly marred by a group of beery lads standing near us. Why pay good money to see a band if you only want to just talk loudly to your mates all night? That’s why we have pubs, you idiots. As with many of modern’s life irritations, The Humdrum Express have a song about this.

Elvis Costello & The Imposters @ The Philharmonic, Liverpool (10th June)

My 31st Elvis Costello gig was also my 6th time seeing him in Liverpool and my 3rd time at this venue.

This one would be put in the “Really great” file rather than the “Outstandingly great” one that several of those previous Liverpool appearances most definitely belong in.

The band were on top form and the “new boy” Charlie Sexton on lead guitar played a blinder. But there were technical issues early on with E.C’s vocals too quiet and at times inaudible in the first few songs.

Extract from the Liverpool Echo review…

“After a couple of songs, the audience were really frustrated, and a few people tried to shout out to Costello to tell him his microphone was too quiet. Clearly not understanding what was happening, Costello thought he was being heckled. Appearing insulted, he responded negatively to the crowd before playing on oblivious to the technical error... After a few more songs and shouts from audience members, someone from Costello’s team thankfully told him the crowd were shouting about the microphone issue. “That was the sound check, now it’s the gig”, joked Costello once the microphone had been fixed, but while the majority of the audience laughed and cheered, some fans got up from their seats and didn’t return.

A key part of that is “Appearing insulted, he responded negatively to the crowd” which is a polite way of saying he was trying to introduce one of songs from the new album, assumed the people shouting out were just drunk hecklers and told them to “shut the fuck up.”

As it says in the Echo review, this was quite obviously a case of Elvis “clearly not understanding what was happening” but a small number of the audience wilfully and childishly took offence at this and walked out. I saw someone on Twitter describe the audience at this gig as “tetchy” which sums it up really. It took the bloke sat next to me about 20 minutes before he started moaning to his mate about Elvis not playing the hits during “Watching The Detectives” A song that was literally a hit, Elvis’ first in fact. Presumably this was his first ever experience of live music and he was unaware of the customary practice of musicians spreading their best-known songs throughout the evening, rather than blasting through them all at the very start to get them over with!

The entitled twat next to me left soon after and missed “Pump It Up”, “I Don’t Want To Go To Chelsea”, “I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down”, “Alison”, “Shipbuilding” and “Good Year For The Roses.” Pretty much every one of his hits was played in fact, with the exception of “Oliver’s Army” which he never plays these days. Elvis has explained his stance on that song with his customary eloquence and it strikes me that the only people bothered by its omission are the exact same numpties who complain every Christmas about radio stations playing the edited version of “Fairytale of New York.” Their version of free speech means having the right to be allowed to hear an outdated homophobic term in our favourite Christmas song or something.

Anyway, back to the gig itself and my highlights from it. Of the hits mentioned above, “I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down” is the one I’d still have him play at every gig and it was as great as ever. I was a bit disappointed he didn’t play either of my favourite songs from “The Boy Named If,” namely “The Man You Love To Hate” and “My Most Beautiful Mistake.” But they did plenty of others from the new album with “I Can Give You Anything But Love” and “The Difference” being my favourites. I have a list of favourite Elvis songs that I’ve never heard live and I was thrilled to hear “The Comedians” for the first time, played here in the same arrangement as Roy Orbison’s amazing version. Elvis’ voice, which at times shows signs of not being quite what it once was, was breathtakingly good on this and also on other slower songs “Either Side Of The Same Town” and the aforementioned “Good Year For The Roses.”

The Waterboys / Gruff Rhys @ Middlewich Folk and Boat Festival (17th June)

The last time I went to this festival was 2009 and Ade Edmondson was headlining with his band The Bad Shepherds. These days it’s a much bigger festival with a big outdoor stage.

Another bonus support act here with late addition to the bill Gruff Rhys which I was delighted about. I’d not been able to go to his Manchester gig in 2021 so this was my first time seeing him promoting the fantastic “Seeking New Gods” album. It was great to finally hear some of those songs live, as well as one of my all-time favourites “Lonesome Words

The 2 Waterboys gigs I saw in the 1980s remain right up there with the best I’ve ever been to but checking my records I was very surprised to find out I’ve not seen them since! (I have seen Mike Scott quite a few times in those intervening years though)

They’ve had about a thousand line-up changes since then but it’s still Mike leading an incredible band through a really incredible gig! As the song says, he’s still a freak! Great atmosphere at this with the kind of lively and enthusiastic crowd you don’t always get at these boutique festival events.

Amazing evening and just 9 miles from my front door!!

Keyboard wizard Brother Paul is an amazing musician and brings a lot to the party with his magnificently infectious onstage personality. Photo below courtesy of Mrs Garbanzo.

Crowded House @ Castlefield Bowl, Manchester (30th June)

It’s been a long time coming but after several postponements, Crowded House finally got to play the tour that was originally planned for 2020.

First visit to this venue and I noticed that this bowl is a very flat-bottomed one. If you’re near the back and a bit of a shortarse like me, the sightlines are pretty crap. Never mind, get here earlier next time.

Whether playing as Crowded House, The Finn Brothers or under his own name, Neil Finn always puts on a brilliant show. As well as the outstanding musicianship always on show, he and kilt-wearing bassist Nick Seymour are a very witty pair. At this gig they had a lot of fun talking about the trains going past and just generally taking the mick out of each other. They opened with 2 of my absolute favourites “Distant Sun” and “Nails In My Feet” and from then on it was pretty much the greatest hits from the 80s/90s plus a few songs from the recent “Dreamers Are Waiting” LP.

Local legend Johnny Marr made his customary cameo appearance, as he always does when Neil Finn’s in town and got the wild reception he deserves. Just like last time Crowded House played in Manchester in May 2010, they did a really great David Bowie cover. It was “Heroes” at this gig, “Moonage Daydream” at the previous one. They closed the night with another of my favourites “Better Be Home Soon” one of several they played that brought a tear to my eye.

Adam Ant @ The Philharmonic, Liverpool (4th July)

I saw Adam at this same venue in 2016, full review here.

An extra-special treat was going to the gig with my old pal Mark. We used to work together behind the counter at The HMV Shop in Guildford and we hadn’t seen each other since 1992!! Reunited through the power of social media.

In contrast to the tetchy Elvis Costello audience last time I’d been at this venue, the Antpeople were wildly enthusiastic and on their feet from the very first drumbeat to the last. Seeing Adam & The Ants playing “Dog Eat Dog” on Top of the Pops at the age of 10 was a life-changing moment for me and I will forever be of the opinion that “Kings of the Wild Frontier” is one of the greatest albums ever made. The title track was one of the highlights of this gig and it was also great to hear “Digital Tenderness” and “Cartrouble,” 2 of my favourite songs from the first Ants album.

Antpeople are the warriors! Antmusic is our banner!

Pixies / Slow Readers Club @ Castlefield Bowl, Manchester (5th July)

Back here again a few days after Crowded House and this time we arrived early so we could get a decent spot close to the great Joey Santiago. Slow Readers Club were pretty decent, the frontman has a great voice.

Some Pixies dates have been advertised as “Come On Pilgrim It’s The Surfer Rosa” tour and I’d have been very happy to have heard all of those 2 in full (with “Vamos” played twice!) followed by “Doolittle” for the encore perhaps.

That’s not quite what we got but if you’re interested I’ve got statistics on what they did play.

5 out of 8 “Come On Pilgrim” songs (62.5%)

8 out of 13 “Surfer Rosa” songs (61.5%) (no “River Euphrates” though 😢)

9 out of 15 “Doolittle” songs (60%) (no “Dead” though 😢)

2 out of 14 “Bossanova” songs (14.2%)

3 out of 15 “Trompe Le Monde” songs (20%)

Might make a bar chart of that later.

Great to be at this gig with Richard who was also with me when we first saw Pixies in 1989. This was our first time seeing them without Kim and of course we’d always opt for the former when offered “Deal Or No Deal.” But even with 25% of the original lineup absent, the songs are still some of the best ever made and they still play them with the same intensity.

Highlights for me were “Brick Is Red” “Gouge Away” “The Holiday Song” and “Cactus.”

Simply Dylan @ The Bowdon Rooms, Altrincham (7th July)

I saw Simply Dylan play “Desolation Row” at the Bob Dylan: Electric 50 event in 2016 and I’ve been meaning to see a whole gig of theirs ever since. Here’s what I wrote about them in my review back then:

They bill themselves as “a tribute to Bob Dylan, not a Bob Dylan tribute” and that’s spot on.  There’s no attempt to look or dress like Dylan or imitate his voice. Why would anyone do that when even Dylan hasn’t sounded like Dylan for decades? Instead you get John’s excellent and powerful voice, enunciating the words clearly backed up by a brilliant bassist and violinist. Having seen a mixed bag of gigs from the man himself ranging from inspired to forgettable, you could quite easily make the case that John and his band do a far better job of honouring the richest back catalogue in popular music history.

My first time at The Bowdon Rooms and I was impressed that you could order drinks using your phone and have them brought to your table! Very fancy! It was a full band show rather than the trio I saw before and all of them were fantastic musicians. The setlist was great too, not just a run-through of the obvious best-known songs and I particularly enjoyed hearing “Senor (Tales Of Yankee Power)” “Dark Eyes” and “Mama You Been On My Mind,” performed very much in the style heard on my favourite Dylan live album.

The Strokes / Fontaines D.C. / Wet Leg @ Lytham Festival (8th July)

First gig of 2022 for Garbanzo Junior The Elder who is OBSESSED with The Strokes and had just about the greatest time of his life at this! Great gig all round actually, all 3 bands played a blinder.

Traffic problems meant we missed the start of Wet Leg but as illustrated by the really strong debut album, there’s a lot more to them than just “Chaise Longue.”

Last time I saw Fontaines D.C. was May 2018 at Night & Day Cafe in Manchester when they’d only had a couple of singles out. Frontman Grian seemed quite awkward and nervous back then. His stage persona has developed into something very different and when I say there’s now a hint of Liam Gallagher in his confidence and ability to gee up a crowd I mean that as praise. No surprise that they’re playing to bigger crowds these days because as much as “Boys In The Better Land” was very popular with the Lytham crowd, I think they’ve made a lot of far better records since. “A Hero’s Death” “Lucid Dream” and “I Don’t Belong” from the 2nd album for example, all of which were just brilliant.

Garbanzo Junior The Elder had been studying The Strokes setlists on the tour dates leading up to this. No idea where he gets that kind of obsessive trainspotter behaviour from. Probably his mum.

He told me that they would absolutely categorically open with “Bad Decisions” and it was great to see his reaction when they started playing “Is This It?” instead. They played all the songs you’d expect really. “Reptilia” “You Only Live Once” “Automatic Stop” were amongst the highlights. There was a very funny bit where a lady in the crowd requested “Ode To The Mets” so they got her up on the stage only for Julian to walk off and leave her singing it by herself!

As we were slowly shuffling our way out at the end, we heard a few people around us making comments about how they didn’t play “Last Nite.” Junior somewhat sneeringly muttered to me something along the lines of “Pah, don’t these idiots know anything? They hardly ever play that song.” Once again I have no idea where he gets this kind of thing from. Probably his mother.

Happy to report that having enjoyed his first big outdoor gig so much, he’s keen for more of the same and we’ve already booked tickets for a few gigs in 2023, notably The Boss at Villa Park!

The Wedding Present @ The Devil’s Arse, Castleton (20th August)

The Wedding Present / Murder Club @ The Met, Bury (25th August)

Wedding Present gig numbers 26 and 27. Both gigs were “Seamonsters” played in full, followed by a mix of songs from their whole career.

My mate Rich didn’t need much persuading for Castleton. Fancy a weekend walking in the Peak District and going to a Wedding Present gig in a cave? What’s not to like about that? The weather was great and the walks up Shining Tor and Mam Tor were spectacular.

Both gigs were just brilliant, impossible to pick a favourite.

An extra special treat to hear “Mars Sparkles Down On Me” at Castleton too, it’s one of their slower songs and they don’t play it live very much. They played a great cover of Low’s song “Canada” that they’d learnt specially to play the next day when they’d been drafted in as a late replacement for that band at the Green Man Festival. So sad to hear then about Mimi’s illness and subsequent passing.

Margo Cilker / Maddie Morris @ The Castle Hotel, Manchester (30th August)

Missed the start of Maddie Morris but as I walked in she was singing about how the advertising industry cynically uses the LGBTQ+ community to create a pretence that they care about actual people. I was right on board with that and I wish I could tell you the name of the song but I don’t know it. (Maddie’s made one album so far, it’s not on that)

Elsewhere Maddie sings of being a survivor of abuse and it’s truly powerful stuff. It’s just one acoustic guitar, one really, really stunning voice and a whole lot of emotional heft. It’s hardcore folk and I liked it very much but it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.

Margo Cilker’s music is far more on the country side of folk. Her voice is a bit Emmylou and you can’t get better than that. Most of the set was taken from 2021 debut album “Pohorylle” but she also played a couple of covers, Dylan’s “She Belongs To Me” and “Navajo Rug” by Ian Tyson (who sadly died today as I was writing this article.) Her backing band were great, especially the Telecaster guy and she told some good stories about her life back home in Oregon where she’s married to an actual cowboy. Yee-ha!

Manchester Psych Fest @ Various venues, Manchester (3rd September)

My 3rd time at this festival which happens on the first Saturday of September, always on or around my birthday and at my age, it’s only right that I get way more excited for Psych Fest than for my birthday!

I saw 10 bands in full (Keg, Tinariwen, Maruja, Jane Weaver, The Bug Club, Battles, Gruff Rhys, Japanese Television, Highschool, Warmduscher)

There were 7 others who I saw some but not all of (Dream Wife, Splint, Loose Articles, Tess Parks, Soup!, The Lucid Dream, Scalping)

A great, if exhausting, day!

A bonus was running into Gruff Rhys for a bit of a chat and a photo on Whitworth Street between bands.

The Handsome Family / Daniel Knox @ St Mary’s Creative Space, Chester (12th September)

After several postponements, it was great to finally see one of my favourite bands back on this side of the pond again after 5 years! This Chester gig was Rennie and Brett first one back after having to cancel a couple of shows through illness. Both of them were clearly still struggling with their singing but a supportive crowd got them through the gig. Exciting to hear some new songs, hopefully a new album in the pipeline? Other personal favourites they played included 24 Hour Store, The Loneliness Of Magnets, The Giant Of Illinois, Octopus, My Sister’s Tiny Hands and The Bottomless Hole. Rennie is just a genius lyricist!!

I’d never heard of the support act Daniel Knox until tonight but his ramschackle onstage persona and his amazing piano-based songs really got my attention. Charmed by his slightly unhinged Randy Newman stylings, I bought his album Chasescene at the gig and it’s really, really good.

Just Mustard / White Flowers / Dog Sport @ Jimmys, Liverpool (20th September)

A triple bill of noisy dreampop with local band Dog Sport kicking things off, followed by White Flowers who played in almost complete darkness but sounded great. Give them a listen if, like me, you’re a Cocteau Twins fan. I’ve been wanting to see headliners Just Mustard ever since I heard their 2019 single Frank. Since then they’ve released 2 very good albums and this gig was worth the wait.

The Wedding Present / Murder Club @ The Leadmill, Sheffield (23rd October)

The penultimate gig of the “Seamonsters” 30th anniversary tour was also my 5th and final time seeing them on that tour. I went to this one with my old pal Simon who went to university in this fair city. We used to travel up to visit him for gigs and football matches and The Leadmill was frequently on our itinerary back then. Simon was the first of our friendship group to see The Wedding Present live in 1987 at this very same venue and over their career The Wedding Present have played this venue more than any other. We saw them play a storming gig here in 2018 on the “Tommy” 30th anniversary tour and just like that gig, there was a proper moshpit at this one. A load of sweaty gits bouncing into each other, pretending they’re not in their 50s and having a fucking great time doing so. It was an honour and a privilege to be amongst them!

Here’s a bit of the ending of “Lovenest” one of my favourites on an album where every song is one of my favourites!

Support band Murder Club were great here, just as they were in Bury a few weeks earlier. Their catchy songs & girl-group harmonies prompted us to reminisce about seeing Voice Of The Beehive at this same venue back in our teenage years!!

Mik Artistik’s Ego Trip @ The Salty Dog, Northwich (9th October)

I tested positive for Covid a couple of days after the Sheffield gig and the subequent isolation meant I didn’t get to gigs I had tickets for: Gwenno, Opus Kink and a John MOuse / Peaness double bill. 😞

My next live music fix was Leeds legend Mik Artistik and you can read my review of that one here.

The Burning Hell / Mathias Kom & Toby Goodshank / Granfalloon @ The Deaf Institute, Manchester (17th October)

My 6th time seeing The Burning Hell and the 2nd time seeing them at this venue. Support from Granfalloon (see Surfing Magazines above) and another inspired Mathias side project playing the songs of Roger Miller (no, not that one!) in partnership with Toby Goodshank. Previously I only knew “King Of The Road” but I learnt at the gig (and from the accompanying album I bought afterwards) that Miller was quite the eccentric songwriter!

Great to hear The Burning Hell play lots of songs from new album “Garbage Island” and in keeping with that album’s ornithogical theme they finished with a cover of “Rockin’ Robin” complete with bird whistling noises.

Delighted to see that they’ve already announced 2023 gigs over here. Already got my ticket for the Liverpool gig. I’ve also noticed they’re playing somewhere called Marple which I’d previously never heard of but have just discovered is only 40 minutes from my home!

Pavement / The Lovely Eggs @ Apollo, Manchester (20th October)

Another “bonus” support band with The Lovely Eggs added to the bill many months after I’d bought the tickets.

They were as fab as ever. As a particular fan of their shorter, dafter songs it was great to hear an old favourite of mine “Slug Graveyard.” The Eggs anthem “Fuck It,” complete with scarf-waving, is always great but the biggest cheer of the night came during list song “You Can Go Now” when Holly adlibbed “Tory shitshow you can go now!”

I didn’t see Pavement when they reformed in 2010 so this gig was 25 years since the last time I’d seen them and 30 years since the first!

When a band has as many great songs as Pavement have, there will be inevitable setlist gripes from pedantic ingrates like me. I would’ve loved to have heard “Elevate Me Later” “Stop Breathin” “Embassy Row” “Transport Is Arranged.” My mate Huw who saw them in London a few days later says they did play quite a few of those! I was basically after more from my favourite albums Crooked Rain / Slanted / Brighten, although I will concede that any hope of them playing early b-side “Greenlander” was always a hell of a long shot.

But enough of my moaning, we still got many other old classics. “Summer Babe” got people moving early on and others I particularly were “Unfair” “Gold Soundz” “Two States” “Cut Your Hair” and the faultless “Here.”

Cud @ The Garage, London (5th November 2022)

This looked like the setup for an ideal Saturday with a QPR home match coinciding, my mate Daniel over from Amsterdam for a brief visit and a London gig for us to go to within stumbling distance of Simon’s house.

I’d rather not discuss how the QPR match went and that might have been a contributory factor in this being comfortably the most drunk I’ve been at any gig this year! But in contrast to the Superhoops, Cud’s performance was thankfully no such letdown, still looking a bit odd yet sounding bloody marvellous. Same as it ever was.

The Wedding Present @ Louder Than Words festival, Innside Hotel, Manchester (11th November)

Curated by Dr Jill Adam & John Robb, Manchester is lucky to have this festival celebrating music and literature. Over a weekend, a whole load of musicians and music writers convene to sell and be interviewed about their books.

First I attended a fascinating Q&A with Helen O’Hara from Dexys and bought her book “What’s She Like.” “Come On Eileen” and “Let’s Get This Straight (From The Start)” were 2 of the first singles I ever bought and both the Dexys albums she played on are very dear to my heart so it was a thrill to hear Helen talk about those and have a chat to her afterwards. But standing next to her exactly as stylishly dressed as you’d expect her to be, I did feel very underdressed in my t-shirt, jeans & trainers! I asked her how Kevin was doing after his motorbike accident and I was pleased to hear that there’s new Dexys music in the pipeline.

Back in 2020, I had a ticket for this festival when it hosted the book launch of comic book biography “Tales From The Wedding Present Volume 1.” That ended up being an online only event with Steve Lamacq interviewing David Gedge.

This time it was John Robb asking the questions, followed by 9 acoustic songs from a stripped down version of the band (David Gedge, regular bassist Melanie Howard and former bassist and co-author of the books Terry De Castro)

During the interview David acknowledged that he wasn’t really a fan of acoustic gigs and whilst I enjoyed this gig and the 2 recent “Locked Down & Stripped Back” albums more than I thought I would, I have to say I agree with him. I wouldn’t necessarily go to see them if they did another tour playing in this style because there is no substitute for the wild assault of bass, drums and distorted electric guitars provided by the proper full-band Wedding Present (See evidence above in videoclips from Bury and Sheffield)

Both books are brilliant though and a godsend to Wedding Present nerds like me. The comicbook format makes them incredibly readable and a few weeks ago, I read the whole of Volume 2 in a single afternoon!

The Mountain Goats / Carson McHone @ Albert Hall, Manchester (17th November)

Support act Carson McHone‘s voice reminded me very much of Gillian Welch which is an indisputably good thing. She played a little bit of harmonica but other than that it was just guitar and voice. The songs were good played solo but the recorded versions are even better. Have a listen to “Someone Else” which is my favourite song from here recent album “Still Life.”

At the start of a road trip holiday with Mrs Garbanzo in 2005, I got talking to a Tower Records employee in the San Francisco store who told me I should buy the new CD by his favourite band. They were called The Mountain Goats and noticing it was on 4AD, I was happy to give up my dollars. That CD “The Sunset Tree” was on heavy rotation for the next couple of weeks as we drove around various western states.

I’ve been meaning to see them live ever since but for whatever reason, it took me 17 years.

I’m not sure what I was expecting from this gig but I was most definitely not prepared for what happened. Man, this band have some passionate fans! The emotional outpouring of love from audience to stage was like very few gigs I’ve seen this year or any other. The singing along in songs like “Up The Wolves” “No Children” and “This Year” was like a football crowd.

Having grown his hair recently, John Darnielle looks like a cross between a young Stephen King and The Dude / Lebowski. In some ways it’s pretty odd how this band led by this man have ended up with such a young and diverse fanbase because he “seems like the last sort of person and band you’d expect to gain a large LGBTQ+ following.” But as this article explains so brilliantly, it’s all about the lyrics.

Great band, great atmosphere, great songs! Personal highlights were “Jenny” “Dark In Here” “The Mess Inside” “Soft Targets” (for the sax playing) and the aforementioned “Up The Wolves.” I will definitely not be waiting another 17 years for more of this!

Ezra Furman / The Golden Dregs @ The Ritz, Manchester (21st November)

And talking of outpourings of love between audience and artist, here comes Ezra on the last night of her tour. Another cracking gig, just like the one I reviewed at this same venue in 2016.

Her recent album “All Of Us Flames” concludes a trilogy (kind of) and is probably my favourite of those 3 albums. 17 of tonight’s 20 songs come from those 3 albums with “Dressed In Black” “Maraschino Red Dress” “Point Me Towards The Real” and opening song “Train Comes Through” shining especially brightly.

But following the tragic mass murder at LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado just a couple of days earlier, the most powerful part of the night was Ezra’s characteristically heartfelt speech leading into the final song, a defiant and impassioned cover of Patti Smith / Bruce Springsteen’s “Because The Night.”

Really liked The Golden Dregs supporting as well, yet another “bonus” support band! They’d been one of the bands I’d wanted to see at Psych Fest but I’d missed them because they clashed with Jane Weaver. I really like their album “Lafayette” but it’s only when you hear them live that you get the full impact of mainman Benjamin Woods’ fantastically resonant voice. He can sing notes so low he makes Stephen Merritt sound like Smokey Robinson! I’ve already pre-ordered their new album and I’ve got my eye on their gig in Manchester next May.

Stereolab / Nina Savary @ New Century Hall, Manchester (27th November)

Back in the 60s this building hosted gigs by Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd and The Rolling Stones. My only previous visit was for a massive beer festival but now it’s got hipster food stalls downstairs and the place is hosting gigs again. Good news because it’s a beautiful venue.

With hypnotic vocals, swirling organs and songs sung in both French and English, you can hear why Stereolab have chosen Nina Savary to support them. She has sung on Laetitia Sadier’s solo albums and Laetitia has returned the favour by playing keyboards on Nina’s most recent album “Next Level Soap Opera.”

With Stereolab having a far larger back catalogue than Pavement discussed above, I have inevitable setlist gripes but I’ll spare you them because it was a really fantastic gig. Plenty of noisy ones, plenty of trippy ones, plenty of 5/4 time signature songs. Someone on Twitter called Peter Finegan described them as “glorious shimmering architects of joyous soundscapes” and I can’t better that for a summary.

The Wave Pictures / Lo Barnes @ The Lexington, London (21st December)

I was gutted to miss The Wave Pictures‘ Manchester gig in May and their Huddersfield gig in October due to other commitments. So it was a very happy Chorizo who noticed that the day we’d arranged to be visiting family in London before Christmas at the coincided with The Wave Pictures playing in the very same postcode. Seren-fucking-dipity!

Following a pre-gig stop off at Tofu on Upper Street for some delicious vegan Chinese food, I met my old pal Jimmy in the pub downstairs and we just had time to raise a toast to the late, great Terry Hall before heading upstairs. Never been here before, what a great little venue this is, massive mirrorball and a raised bar area at the back where shortarses like Jimmy & me can get a good view.

Support act Lo Barnes was great. Twangy torch songs with brushed drums, a cocktail mixed with ingredients borrowed from the nearby borough of Camden, Amy Winehouse & Gallon Drunk. Someone needs to get this girl’s music on the next David Lynch soundtrack.

The headliners kicked off with guaranteed crowd-pleaser “Strange Fruit For David.” We all sang along with that bit about the sculptures and marmalade and David played the first of many fucking amazing guitar solos. Not many bands enjoy themselves onstage as much as these boys seem to but tonight the drinks were flowing even more than usual. David in particular seemed to be in a particularly jocular mood. At one point he proclaimed Franic as “the best bass player in the business” and The Wave Pictures as “the greatest band on the planet.”

Whenever Johnny comes up to the front to sing, you know you’re in for a treat because the next song is going to be either “Sleepy Eye” or “Now You Are Pregnant.” Tonight we got the latter, one of David’s best ever lyrics, sung beautifully as always and following the Elvis / Johnny payoff line, Franic and David extended the song with an incredibly good improvised instrumental section. Greatest band on the planet? They might just be right!

They played some of the best songs from the new double album, including “Douglas,” “French Cricket” and the Dr Feelgood-esque “Back In The City” which prompted Jimmy and I into drinking a toast to another recently departed hero, dear old Wilko Johnson. (The Wave Pictures did their own tribute to him in 2017 with their “Canvey Island Baby” EP)

The drummer from The Surfing Magazines joined them on vocals for the final number, a cover of Neil Young’s “Roll Another Number.” But a few songs earlier they’d played an even better cover, when they’d blasted through The 13th Floor Elevators’ garage classic “You’re Gonna Miss Me.” Check out this video of them playing that song in Zaragoza last month.

  • Huge thanks to all the bands, promoters and venues who make these gigs possible.
  • And more huge thanks ❤️❤️❤️ to my various friends and family who’ve been to gigs with me in 2022: Mrs Garbanzo, Garbanzo Junior The Elder, Rich B, Rich F, Simon, Will, Ben, Andy, Ellie, Tom, Mark, Garbanzo Senior a.k.a. my dad, Tony, Paul, Alex, James, Daniel, Nick and Jimmy. Mike, we missed you this year!

Previous end of year podcasts:

Related articles:

Kicker of Elves’ Favourite Things from 2022

As it is definitely still tradition, let’s start with my favourite SONG OF THE YEAR – a full run down of all my favourite songs can be heard on one of our end of the year podcasts – the Kicker one – and, well, it’s not every year that a song you co-wrote 34 years ago gets covered by, as Chorizo Garbanzo correctly points out on the podcast, not only a proper musician, but a “rock star”.

Good grief, it’s Hercules Fence!!

(If you’re so inclined, you can hear the original on this podcast, about 25 minutes in.)

Top 25 Albums

1   Simon Love – Love, Sex And Death, Etc

We wizards fucking love Simon Fucking Love, and this might just be his best record yet. Combining brilliant storytelling with a suitably cynical view of the world, and yet somehow remaining life affirming, these songs tick all our boxes, including the one marked ‘gratuitous swearing’. A clear winner of this year’s Kicker. Llongyfarchiadau, Simon!!

2   The Vat Egg Imposition – Shop Tones

3   Telefís – a hAon  / a Dó

Robyn Hitchcock– Shufflemania

5   Yard Act – The Overload

6   Dumb – Pray 4 Tomorrow

7   Half Man Half Biscuit – The Voltarol Years

8   The Cool Greenhouse – Sod’s Toastie

9   The Humdrum Express – Forward Defensive

10  Rodney Cromwell – Memory Box

11  Guided By Voices – Crystal Nuns Cathedral / Tremblers And Goggles By Rank

12  Royal Chant – Anyways And Also Sorry

13 The Bug Club – Green Dream in F#

14  Elaine Howley – The Distance Between Heart And Mouth

15  Cassels – Gut Feeling

16  Martha – Please Don’t Take Me Back

17  New North Wales – Minor Birds

18  Good Grief – Shake Your Faith

19  Aldous Harding – Warm Chris

20  Personal Trainer – Big Love Blanket

21  Birds In The Brickwork – Recovery

22  Fieldhead – Engine Idling, Around 5am

23  The Cleaners From Venus – That London

24  Helen Love – This Is My World

25  Pixy Jones – Bits N Bobs

…. and making up a top 50 albums, all of which you should own, are, in alphabetical order, 25 more:

Apta – Echoes; The Balloonist – The Balloonist; Black Country, New Road – Ants From Up There; The Burning Hell – Garbage Island; Bill Callahan – YTI⅃AƎЯ; Courting – Guitar Music; Death Of The Neighbourhood – Death Of The Neighbourhood 3; Deliluh – Fault Lines; The Delines – The Sea Drift; Derrero – Curvy Lines; Fragile X – Human Condition; Held By Trees – Solace; Human Concept – The Machine That Made Eternity; Joseph Airport – Vector 23; Love, Burns – It Should Have Been Tomorrow; Stephen Mallinder – Tick Tick Tick; Kevin Morby – This Is A Photograph; The Nightingales – The Last Laugh; Red Setter – Water Feature; The Reds, Pinks & Purples – Summer At Land’s End; Graham Repulski – Zero Shred Forty; The Smile – A Light For Attracting Attention; Luke Steele – Listen To The Water; Test Card – Patterns; Working Men’s Club – Fear Fear

Top 5 Compilations

1  Keep It In Motion: A Tribute To Guided By Voices, Circa 20 Something And 12 (Silly Moo Records)

I mean, these songs are great, aren’t they? Here given a fresh take from a load of excellent bands form all over the globe (probably just the UK and US, tbf – TTW Accuracy Ed). If I had to choose a favourite, I would have to go with the stellar efforts from Sleepy Kitty and bLUSH, but, frankly, it’s all great.

2  Participation: Volume 1 (Castles In Space)

3  Give Us A Clue – 10 Years Of Clue Records

4  Un-Scene! Post-Punk Birmingham 1978-1982 (Easy Action)

5  Signals, Wires & Amplifiers 2 (Next Phase : Normal Records)

Top 5 EPs

1   The Declining Winter – I Remember

The title track opens up my disc of favourite instrumentals despite not being an instrumental. This is a moving collection of songs that simultaneously makes me feel happy and sad.

2  Helpful People – Broken Blossom Threats

Nosdam + Rayon – From Nowhere To North

Ffion – The Way Of Birds And Their Voyage Into Radiance

Pigbaby – Palindromes

Top 5 Reissues / Re-pressings / Remixes / Not Strictly Speaking New Stuff

1   Jenny Mae – Singles & Unreleased Tracks 1989-2017

Put together by her friend Bela Koe-Krompecher, these songs just underline what a lost talent Jenny Mae really is. Having read Bela’s book ‘Love, Death & Photosynthesis’ last year, it’s clear she really didn’t have a clue how great she was. You just need to listen to this collection to see for yourself.

2  Guided By Voices – Scalping the Guru

Dexys Midnight Runners – Too Rye Ay (As It Could Have Sounded)

Helen Love  – Songs From Under The Bed Vol 2

Babybird – King Of Nothing

Top 5 Live Albums

1   Warrington-Runcorn New Town Development PlanLive at Fox Fest

The standout set for me from a great day of electronic music (see below), and all done with such huge hands!

2  Craven Faults – Live Works

Yard Act – Use Your Nut, It’s YA For Yard Act

Black Country, New Road – Live From The Queen Elizabeth Hall

Neil Young – Citizen Kane Jr. Blues (Live At The Bottom Line)

The Robert Pollard Annual Output Roundup

Guided By Voices – Devil Between My Toes (reissue on grey/clear);Crystal Nuns Cathedral; Tremblers And Goggles By Rank; Scalping the Guru (EP comp);Alex Bell (7”); Thank You Very Much For Absolutely Nothing (DVD)

Robert Pollard – Our Gaze

Two tribute albums: Keep It In Motion: A Tribute To Guided By Voices Circa 20 Something And 12 (Silly Moo Records) – curated by Bunnygrunt’s Matt Harnish (see elsewhere) and All Good Kids – A Tribute To Guided By Voices (Phonophore Records)

And from the wider GbV family, we had the always rocked to the max, Mitch Mitchell’s Terrifying Experience – Appalachian Tontine and the very Circus Devils sounding Moonchy & Tobias – Golem

Top 2 Books (Read This Year)

One a musician’s autobiography, the other a novel by a musician. Both incredible tales.

Vashti Bunyan – Wayward: Just Another Life To Live and James Yorkston – The Book Of The Gaels

Other books I have read this year:

Matt Berenson – Secret Stars: The Greatest Underdogs of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Era ***; James Bowen – A Street Cat Named Bob *; Anthony Clavane – Moving The Goalposts ***; Ron Ferguson – Black Diamonds & The Blue Brazil ***; David Grossman – A Horse Walks Into A Bar **; Sarah Hall – The Carhullan Army ***; Helen O’Hara – What’s She Like ***; Robert Harris – The Second Sleep **; Phil Hay – And It Was Beautiful ***; Greg Healey – Not In Front Of The Children **; Mick Herron – Real Tigers **; Mick Herron – Spook Street ***; Mick Herron – London Rules ***; Mick Herron – Joe Country ***; Mick Herron – Slough House ***; Mick Herron – The Drop & The List **; Mick Herron – The Catch **; Charlie Hill – I Don’t Want To Go To The Taj Mahal **; Salim Lamrani – Marcelo Bielsa *; Alan Lane – The Club On The Edge Of Town ***; Bob Mortimer – The Satsuma Complex **; James Norman – Micro Record Label **; George P Pelecanos – A Firing Offence ***; Stephen Rule – Welsh And I **; Richard Shepherd – Unnatural Causes ***; Willy Vlautin – The Motel Life ***; Willy Vlautin – The Free ***; Ben Wardle – Mark Hollis: A Perfect Silence ***; Martyn Ware – Electronically Yours ***

Top 5 Music Films Seen (But Not Necessarily Released) This Year

1  This Film Should Not Exist (Country Teasers, Datblygu, The Oblivians, The Rebel)

So good, I have now watched it three times. Diolch yn fawr, Gisella!

2  Guided By Voices – Thank You Very Much For Absolutely Nothing

3 Made In Sheffield: The Human League, Heaven 17, ABC, Cabaret Voltaire, Pulp

4 Martin Newell – The Golden Afternoon

5 Who Killed The KLF

The Stephen Jones One Man Domination Of Record Shelf Space Award

Just the 262 tracks released by Stephen Jones this year under various guises:

Babybird – Kids Gun / Pop Gun / A Selfie Cam EP / Selfie Cam / Shepherds Bush, 09.03.19/ I Don’t Want To Be In Love, But I Am / Life, The Brutal Monster, And How To Defeat It / Influencer / King Of Nothing (vinyl)

Baby Bird – Good Shave

Stephen Jones – My Favourite Songs/ The Soundtrack Of A Face / The Happiest People I Know Are Blind To The Concept Of Existence

Death Of The Neighbourhood – Death Of The Neighbourhood 3

Black Reindeer – Truss

Musical Sources Of The Year

Castles In Space

Subscription Library: Endangered Species 1998; Nurse Predator – Music For Low Luxury; Ffion – The Way of Birds and Their Voyage Into Radiance; Twilight Sequence – Looking At Lifeforms (7”); Salvatore Mercatante – Mysteries And Prophecies Of The Strega; Kieran Mahon – Eternal Return (dl); DJ Carlos – Castles in Space Vinyl Mix; Yves Malone – Upon Chrome Skies Rides A Pale Horse; Everyday Dust – Deadham Ridge; Wealdham – Complex Systems; Luke Requena – Mirror Stage;Kösmonaut – Transgressive Transmissions;Soulless Party – Macrocosmic Thinking; v/a – Participation Volume 1; Concretism – The Concretism Archive: Volume 2; Rieux – The Gestalt Manifesto;The British Stereo Collective – Tomorrow The Stars; Monochrome Echo – The City And The Stars.

Werra Foxma Records

Subscription: Chris Prine – Glacier Locked; Glinca – The Mould; Fields Of Few – Calm Before The Norm; Onepointwo – Atlantis; The Metamorph – Exploded View; Synthetic Villains – Through A Crack Of Light; Oceanographer – Modern Prophecies; Letters From Mouse – Engrams; v/a – One Shot; Gribbles – Digressions; WFR Dark (comp);Autumna – This Isn’t The Love You Promised; Mike K Smith – Landfill

The Wedding Present – 24 Songs (Monthly Singles)

We Should Be Together; I Am Not Going To Fall In Love With You; Go Go Go; Monochrome; X Marks The Spot; Once Bitten; We Interrupt Our Programme; Each Time You Open Your Eyes; We All Came From The Sea; Astronomic; Science Fiction;

Optic Nerve 7”s 4.0:

The Bluebells – Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool; The Suede Crocodiles – Stop The Rain; Josef K – Sorry For Laughing; Article 58 – Event To Come; The Monochrome Set – The Jet Set Junta; The Wild Swans – Revolutionary Spirit; Black – Human Features; The Wake – On Our Honeymoon; The Times – I Helped Patrick McGoohan Escape; Dolly Mixture – Everything And More; The Chefs – 24 Hours; The Avocados – I Never Knew

Top 3 Gigs

To be fair, the only 3 gigs I went to. And one was online. This is what happens when your knees go, kids, never play cricket!!

1 Spare Snare – The Hug and Pint, Glasgow, 19 September

2 Hap & Damwain – Victoria Hall, Lampeter, 4 June

3 FoxFest livestream festival, 21st May 2022:

Scanner, Warrington-Runcorn New Town Development Plan, Everyday Dust, Sulk Rooms, Cholly, Dohnavùr, Faex Optim, Letters From Mouse, Mike K Smith, Apta, Bendu, Eonlake

Favourite Music Related Moments (Outside of Everything Above)

As well as being covered (see above), my old band Tom Violence were also included on the Castles In Space Participation Volume 1 compilation made available to subscribers (see above, but further down). However, perhaps the most exciting musical development came in form of long-time hero and prolificacy’s proliferator supreme, Stephen Jones, aka Babybird, who went and wrote a song about me and my son. I can’t listen to it without crying, but you might be able to:

Please help support all the wonderful musicians mentioned in the lists above by searching out their records, CDs, tapes and downloads and BUYING THEM!!!

Previous end of year podcasts:

Related articles:

Podcast 123: Chorizo’s favourite songs of 2022

Here we go then.

The elves that work behind the scenes of this website have been especially motivated by the threat of being kicked and they’ve managed to get you Chorizo Garbanzo’s favourite songs of 2022 a full 8 days before the year is over!

Click the links below to listen.

We’re going to see the otters. (There aren’t any otters.)

Get off your aaaaaaarse!

Here’s a list of the songs played with links to websites. Please support musicians by buying their music & going to see their gigs.

Side A:

Rug Busters – Personal Trainer

In Shade – Just Mustard

Dignitary Life – Twen

I Will Dance – Simon Love

Birdwatching – The Burning Hell

Lay Down Your Roses – The Bug Club

I Am Not Going To Fall In Love With You – The Wedding Present

The Man You Love To Hate – Elvis Costello

Wild Flowers – Warmduscher

Blind Spot – Maruja

Olurmu Dersin – Şatellites

Kwenchy Kups – Dry Cleaning

Side B:

Mas O Mena – Damian O’Neill

Elephant – Keg

Pandemonium – Fascinations Grand Chorus

Porcupines – The Wave Pictures

All The Time – Ghost Woman

Tresor – Gwenno

Toll – Naima Bock

Gmaps – Cowboyy

Both Sides Of The Blade – Tindersticks

Studies In Paralysis – Manic Street Preachers

Swell – Mewn

People Who Stand In The Door – M.J. Hibbett

Previous end of year podcasts:

Related articles:

Podcast 122: Kicker’s Best of 2022

In a year that has seemed to be full of departures, whether literal, temporary or permanent, it has been reassuring to find once again that great new music keeps on arriving.

In his annual round up, our Kicker narrows it down to his favourite 24 tracks of the year, split across two podcasts for your bitesize enjoyment.

Just click on the two pictures below to find a link to stream or download each half of the show.

Turn away now if you don’t want to know what was played. Otherwise, here’s the run down:

  1. Robyn Hitchcock – Midnight Tram To Nowhere
  2. The Wedding Present – We All Came From The Sea
  3. Hercules Fence – Someone
  4. Aldous Harding – Fever
  5. Royal Chant – Rhetorical Homecoming Queen
  6. Guided By Voices – Climbing A Ramp
  7. The Cool Greenhouse – Sod’s Toastie
  8. Toni Tubna with The Stockholm Tuba Sect – The Mayor Of Bridlington
  9. Martha – Baby, Does Your Heart Sink?
  10. The Reds, Pinks & Purples – Slow Torture Of An Hourly Wage
  11. Sprints – Delia Smith
  12. Julian Cope – Cunts Can Fuck Off
  13. Half Man Half Biscuit – Grafting Haddock In The George
  14. Pixy Jones -Bad Throat
  15. Babybird – In The Land Of The Rising Son
  16. Cassels – Dog Drops Bone
  17. Dumb – Pull Me Up
  18. Yard Act – Dead Horse
  19. The Vat Egg Imposition – Safe In The North
  20. The Humdrum Express – One Man’s Tat (Is Another Man’s Treasure)
  21. The Bug Club – Six O’Clock News
  22. Simon Love -L-O-T-H-A-R-I-O
  23. Telefis – We See Showbands/The Carthaginians
  24. Rodney Cromwell – The Winter Palace

The physicality (where there was some):

As always, we urge you to support all the wonderful musicians involved in making our lives more tolerable by seeking them out on bandcamp (using the links above where available) or elsewhere, and BUYING their stuff.

Streaming is for wimps. Thanks.

Live review: Mik Artistik’s Ego Trip @ The Salty Dog, Northwich, 9th October 2022

It’s a cold and rainy Sunday evening and Northwich town centre is even more deserted than usual.

But at the southern end of the pedestrianised High Street you’ll find the best choice of beer in town at The Salty Dog. The owners are desperately trying to breathe some life into this town with regular live music, DJs and comedy nights.

Coincidentally it was exactly 7 years ago today that I first encountered the phenomenon known to the world as Mik Artistik’s Ego Trip. For the uninitiated, they are a 3 piece playing in a 2-1 formation. The backline tonight consists of ever-present shiny-shoed guitar whizzkid Johnny Flockton and a Fruitbat-haired bassist who I think is called Carl. Up front and centre of attention we have the frontman every other band wishes they had, the indescribable Mik Artistik.

He’s a sexagenarian rock star.

He’s a philosopher, a poet, a visionary.

He’s an accordionist with accoutrements.

He’s a menace to society.

He’s a livestream of consciousness.

He’s a shouty bald man in a string vest.

As Kris Kristofferson puts it “he’s a walkin’ contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction.”

The current tour is billed as the “Sharp” tour, named after the recently released album which was recorded live in Mik’s hometown of Leeds in December 2021. They’ve released 10 albums now, 3 of them recorded live and often that’s the best way to hear the songs. The live versions can often end up double or triple the length of the original versions once Mik goes off on his tangential ad-libs.

At this gig they only played 5 of the 13 tracks from the “Sharp” album. To be honest I was delighted about that because I got to hear quite a few of my favourite songs that aren’t included on that album.

One of those was the breezy opener “I Don’t Need Heroin” in which our hero plays an accordion while vowing to stick to bitter, Baileys and Belgian chocolates instead. Good advice for all and certainly far funnier than Lou Reed’s song, apart from the line “it’s my wife and it’s my life” which for some reason I’ve always found hilarious.

“the trouble with heroin, it’s very moreish apparently”

That was followed by another of my favourites where Mik is worrying about guitarist Johnny leaving the group, with its increasingly panicked refrain “Johnny’s had an offer from another fucking band!”

Mik boasts of his new musical instrument in “Acoustic Synthesizer” and gives details some of the amazing sounds you get when you press its keys… bird song, a choir of angels, even the football scores! Leeds United 4 Man City 0 apparently, a scoreline which will delight my fellow wizard Kicker Of Elves.

If you’ve been wondering when someone was finally going to get round to writing a dub reggae anthem about people who don’t pick up their dogs’ shit, then “Clampdown” is the song you’ve been waiting for. The 2 boys at the back were playing a blinder on that one.

Another highlight was “Tribute Band” an extended spoken word piece so lengthy it was split into 2 halves either side of the interval. It tells the story of how an impressionable and youthful Mik become obsessed with a band called Theme and how his life was subsequently turned upside down by a chance meeting in the Dolomites. It’s 150% fictional but the detail and precision in the words and performance are so inspired that as you chuckle along, you just have to admire the writing.

The first half was brought to a close with “I’m Turnin’ Into Dad.” There are a lot of lines about getting old in his lyrics and the topic of becoming more like your parents as you get older is one that would be very easy to just play for laughs. But we’re not talking about a musician who takes the obvious path here. Mik’s song about his dad is genuinely moving. He’s been our guide through quite a dramatic change in mood and we’re all going with it. Ten minutes ago he was singing about dog shit in a silly Jamaican accent, now he’s singing about his childhood and many of the crowd simultaneously seem to have something in their eye.

The second half opened with “David Bowie (Was A Funny Man)” another touching song centred around Mik playing the “Golden Years” riff on his accordion. The song mentions that Bowie’s dad was from Doncaster which I just presumed was totally made up. But I just Googled it and it’s bloody true!

David Bowie by Mik Artistik

With its post-punk guitar riffing and unhinged vocals, possibly my all-time favourite Ego Trip song is “Plastic Fox.” The live version tonight was even more intense. The grandkids love it!

The hits just kept on coming as we neared the end of that second half. Not sure where Mik disappeared to while they played “Secret Cloak Of Invisibility” but both that song and the recent single “Glastonbury” went down very well.

Two older songs that I really love, but had completely forgotten about also made very welcome appearances in the set, “Bali” wherein Mik visits the tropical island in his dreams and the unquenchably funky “Condoleeza Rice.”

There were also some new songs along the way, I particularly enjoyed the one about being an old man in a flat cap seeing another old man in a flat cap in the street.

The final song was inevitably “Sweet Leaf Of The North,” named as the greatest song of the 2010s by no less a person than Iggy Fucking Pop! This was preceded by another exhilarating improvised flight of fancy from Mik, in which I especially enjoyed his impression of a Londoner. With the band still playing round the soulful keyboard riff as the song ended, Mik sang his thanks to us all for coming out on a Sunday night. Then we headed back out into the rain with our lives considerably enriched.

Mik modelling “Sweet Leaf Of The North” scarf

Related links:

Spare Snare – One From Each (with Jan Burnett)

This is the second part of my discussion with Jan Burnett of Spare Snare – you can find the first part here.

Here, I presented Jan with all 11 (ELEVEN) Spare Snare albums and asked him to select his ‘one from each’, either a favourite track or one that means the most to him. Jan asked to clarify that we were only talking about the album versions of songs, and I also went through and chose my favourites too. See if you agree.

LIVE AT HOME (1995) – As A Matter Of Fact

Jan: A Matter of Fact.

Kicker: .. is the correct answer. Is it because it’s the first song?

J: {laughs} Yeah, maybe not that album version, but as a song… I think I prefer the 4-track [version], but it’s the one that started it all off, you know? It triggered everything.

WESTFIELD LANE (1996) – Action Hero

J: (picks up Westfield Lane CD) Oh, this is interesting, where did you get that?

K: Oh, I’m not sure, did I not get it off you?

J: Don’t think so, it has a different rubber stamp. It’s a circle one normally.

K: Oh, is it a rarity? Excellent!

J: Hmm… I don’t know how many he made of this – he repressed it without telling me {laughs}, hey ho.

not rare at all, dammit

K: Of course, Guided By Voices and Cobra Verde had a single on [the Wabana label] too.

J; Yeah, the guy who ran the label (John Petkovic) was in GbV for a while… [From this] it’s probably obviously Action Hero, but James Dean Poster is a favourite as well. I’m going to say Action Hero as James Dean Poster has a sample on it.

K: Well, I’ve gone for Action Hero too..

J: I haven’t seen your list, honest…

K: No, no, but we seem to be in tune here…

ANIMALS AND ME (1998) – If I Had A Hi-Fi

J: Out of all the albums, we’ll exclude Sounds, because Sounds has got songs that are off these [other albums], and we’ll exclude the first album, I think this is probably the next strongest album. I think this is our most underrated. Right, I’m going to go with [If I Had A] Hi-Fi.

K: OK. Me too. {laughs}. What do you like about that songs apart from the fact that the title’s a palindrome?

J: It’s brilliant? {laughs} No, it’s weird, the lyrics were so out of date, and then they’ve come back in date. Everyone’s got record players again. I dunno, it [the song] works really well. I think the BBC Scotland version we did in 2018 as part of the Sounds promo is probably the ultimate version, we had slide on it, and it kind of blew me away. It’s on the boxset [The Complete BBC Radio Sessions 1995 – 2018]

CHARM (2001) – Taking On The Sides

K: You’ll know which one I like best on there, but I don’t know if that’ll influence you…

J: Erm, Taking On The Sides is probably the one, although Calling In The Favours… if I have to go with one (It is the One From Each section, Jan! – TTW Ed.)… it’d be Taking On The Sides.

K: See. We agree again, and you knew I’d say that because when you were offering to do hand written lyrics, I made you write out the whole thing including [Charles] Schultz’s spoken bit…

J: Yeah, thanks for that. {laughs}

LEARN TO PLAY (2004) – Why Don’t You Sing In Your Accent?

J: This is a funny record. I don’t always like it, but, er, Why Don’t You Sing In Your Accent?

K: OK, why that one?

J: Well, it’s probably more relevant now than ever {laughs}, but from memory, the recording was at the old Chem19 [with Andy Miller] or some of it was done on 4-track and then taken there. I think it’s got some really good music elements on it, and it’s quite a clever title and lyric as well.

K: I agree. And that’s why I chose it as well.

J: Oh, for fuck’s sake!

K: I don’t know why I’m bothering to ask you all this, I could have done it myself. {laughs} But the thing about that song is it is a Scottish song, right?

J: Aye, I suppose.

GARDEN LEAVE (2006) – Grow

J: This is a good example of where choosing a track to do with [Steve] Albini totally worked because Grow was kind of lost, and I always thought it was a great tune. So, doing it again with Albini with the extra trumpet and stuff, I think really worked. So, I’m going to go with Grow…

K: Well, of course you have because that’s what I went for. {laughs} Although, I do agree that the Sounds version is even better.

J: Yeah, it is a bit lost here, but then this is our lost period where people didn’t buy the records.

I LOVE YOU, I HATE YOU (2009) – Kicking Up Leaves

J: Good title that! The wife didn’t like that title, but… this is where we might go wrong with our choices… I’m going to say Kicking Up Leaves.

K: OK, yeah, I didn’t say that. Why do you like that one?

J: It’s totally about my daughter, actually. It’s a lyric about childhood, autumn leaves… There’s the obvious [choice] Spot The Difference, but no…

K: Well, I went for Qwerty For The Masses, which is also particularly helpful because it gives you that full A-Z of song titles, which I guess is very important and part of your long-term planning. {laughs}

VICTOR (2010) – And Now It’s Over

J: This is quite good, I quite like this, it reminds me of when we did the playbacks [over Twitter] during the lockdown. I do remember them [the albums] better now.

K: So, you don’t listen back very often? It’s like you’ve recorded it, so that’s it now, and you move on…

J: Yeah, well, I will go back in maybe a year or so and listen back, but… Now It’s Over.

K: Oh, And Now It’s Over, right! I went for Didn’t Know Much.

OUR JAZZ (2013) – I Am God

K: Well, Our Jazz, which is not released in any useful form, it was just a download, wasn’t it?

J: {laughs} Well, yes, it has come out on cassette though…

K: Well, sort it out, get it out on vinyl…

J: OK. That’d be quite good. All I can say is that this was when no-one was interested, which is why it never came out physically. But then, there’s tracks in there like I Am God that are good, so, erm, I am going to say I Am God.

K: I mean that is the [standout] song on there, but I haven’t chosen it for a reason [that will become apparent]. I went for Distinctly Obsolete. Do you play that live? You don’t, do you?

J: No, I don’t think we’ve ever played that. It’s obviously about us. {laughs} Well, at that time, it was, like, yeah, nobody’s interested. I think at the time I probably thought it was our last record. It was these four [lost albums] and then we came back. I’m not sure why that happened.

UNICORN (2017) – Not As Smart As You

K: Yeah, so what was the push then? It was a round this time [2015] you came down and played Liverpool…

J: It might have been just having a bit of interest from other people. All of this [album] was done on 16 track. I think Alan and Barry probably had some preliminary stuff they sent to me and I added to it and deleted stuff and chopped it up, and made it what it is… I’m going to go for Not As Smart As You.

K: OK. The ‘pop song’. See, I really like that, but I was listening to the album on the way up [to Glasgow] and the song that jumped out to me was You’re Not Home, which I really liked when I first heard the album, but I’d almost forgotten about it because there’s also the likes of Hope You Never Go, and a few others that you regularly play live, but you don’t play that. But there’s a line in it that goes “this democracy is not yours, free yourself, it’s not yours…”, which is so relevant now.

J: Well, this Unicorn is a Scottish, er, animal {laughs}, it relates to Scotland. This was [about] nuclear war and the [Scottish] referendum. You’ve got the Chernobyl recording, which weirdly I recorded on cassette from Russian radio, Radio Moscow, at the time, in my room in my mum and dad’s house, and I found it, I forgot I had it, and there was also the story of the sinking of a Russian ship off Australia, where forty people died, at the same time. So, I transferred that over to digital and then it all kind of made sense.

K: So, this is the political album then, if there is one?

J: Well, it’s political with a slightly bigger P {laughs}

K: I really thought those lines about democracy in light of the mandated national mourning were really quite striking.

J: Oh yeah, well, it’s also about Trident, why do we have Trident, well, we’ve got the deep water that’s why otherwise it’s be in Wales. {laughs} The English government would be scuppered without us having that here. That’s the only reason they want us: Trident, oil, whisky. The things that make money. {laughs}.

K: So, not Spare Snare then?

J: {laughs} No, not Spare Snare!

SOUNDS (2018) – Action Hero

K: So, these are all songs that are actually elsewhere, but these are Albini-ed versions.

J: This was a good chance, as I said earlier, to choose songs that might have been hidden before or that would suit Albini’s sound, we thought, and I think that worked out. I think on here, it’s probably Action Hero as well. You know, they all have different little stories, the studio memories and stuff. So, with Bugs, the intro, and then where it gets loud, is actually two different recordings. So, he chopped them and joined it up, so fast, on tape… amazing! And you wouldn’t know, but that was his decision.

K: So, would you never have done that yourself?

J: No, I wouldn’t have. So, he’s super fast with his razor blade and putting it all together, so he could do that. It was what I was saying to Raveloe last night, who was supporting us, was if she wanted any advice with mastering or that type of thing, go to someone who does it all the time. Not a mate, it’s like a hospital theatre, you want someone who does it all the time, who’s not going to fuck it up, they know what they’re doing. Partly [this is down to] speed, but also they know what they’re talking about and they’re going to get it right for whatever format you need to take it to get pressed, or whatever. There’s no point in not using someone’s experience.

K: Do you generally like the versions on Sounds more than the originals?

J: No, I think they’re just different. The Live At Home version of Bugs totally fits that album, it’s just different. It made sense not to just do a whole bunch of songs that potentially weren’t very good. For our first time with Albini, we thought let’s choose songs that we know are pretty good, that we know back to front… Whereas, this time, we’ve spent nine months [on it] so we know these songs are good, we know they’re decent and they sound great.

[Kicker chose the Sounds version of I Am God to complete the set]

Look out for that new Spare Snare album recorded with Steve Albini due sometime early next year. In the meantime, you can find the Spare Snare back catalogue on Bandcamp.

Here’s a playlist of all Jan’s selections, plus Kicker’s choices where these differed.

Q & A with Jan Burnett (Spare Snare)


Fresh from playing two special shows in Dundee (Hunter S Thompson last Friday) and in Glasgow (The Hug & Pint), our Kicker sat down with Spare Snare’s main man, Jan Burnett for a spot of breakfast and a chat about what’s going on in his increasingly busy life.

Kicker: The 2 shows you’ve just played were a chance to run through the new songs, although that didn’t quite work out as planned.

Jan: No, it didn’t quite work out as planned*, but the idea was to play them under a bit of pressure because we are recording next month with a finite amount of time to do that…

K: .. with Steve Albini…

J: … yeah,, and he likes you to be rehearsed, so we know that…

K:… so, he’s going to say to you ‘play me your songs’?

J: No, he’ll press record {laughs} and then we’ll play the songs. Last time we worked with him, he hadn’t heard anything that we were going to record until we did it, and likewise, I don’t expect that this time either. We did demo the [new] songs over the weekend just to have them not just as a phone recording of rehearsals. Mainly for us so we could work out actually if there were any bum notes that we didn’t know we were playing, ‘cos in the rehearsal or playing live you can’t really hear them. So, we were doing them direct into an 8-track just to make sure…

K: so, he [Albini] isn’t going to record from that…

J: … no, no, he won’t hear any of that.

K: So, in terms of the ‘prep’ for the recording then, how did you feel about how the shows went?

J: Really well, actually. It’s interesting, starting off with a kind of goth-metal track with two synths talking about wi-fi, I didn’t think that was going to go down quite as well as it did {laughs}…

K: And there’s a lot of pressure on your voice there from the outset… [Jan is currently sounding like I do after a particularly trying afternoon at Elland Road]

J: Yeah, a wee bit croaky. Well, on Saturday and Sunday [between the two gigs], I kind of lost my voice, so last night [the Glasgow gig], I’m glad it all came back. [Jan did swallow a fair bit of honey during the show, tbf!]

K: The audience reaction to the new stuff was good, I thought. [I was at the Glasgow gig.]

J: Yeah, I was pleasantly surprised. It’s quite nice because we’re getting some audience who don’t know us anyway already, so at both [gigs], I had people coming up to me saying “I hadn’t heard of you before, to be honest”, and I was like, great, that’s exactly what I want, these new people, and it [the setlist] was all new to them., so that’s fine.

K: Excellent. So, do you think you’re going to change anything as a result of having played the [new] songs live?

J: I don’t think so, it just gives us a confidence that we know we can do it, just walk in and we know the basic arrangements really well, because we’re going to have a few guests on [the new album], we don’t actually have six days of recording, we have maybe three days to record and everything else is around the guest players…

K: .. right, and when you’re talking about guest players, who are you thinking of there?

J: We’ve got, er, my dad {laughs}…

K: Is he going to start the record off again? [see Live At Home] {laughs}

J: Er, I don’t know, no, I don’t really know what the actual running order of the album will be…

K: Oh really, so you don’t know yet?

J: No, not until it’s done ‘cos we’ve got a few ideas for intros and things, that we wouldn’t really play live, but would be quite nice on the record. Well, I suppose the two main guests would be Terry Edwards [The Higsons, Barry Adamson, Gallon Drunk, Tindersticks, etc.] and Gary Barnacle [The Clash, the Ruts, The Damned, Kim Wilde, Soft Cell, etc.], who if I think of brass or woodwind players, are totally two of my era’s heroes. It’s absolutely bizarre that they are both going to be on the record!

K: Do you know what Terry’s going to blow through?

J: {laughs} No, he’s going to be playing a variety of things, as is Gary, who plays clarinet and stuff as well. I’m dead chuffed how it’s just worked out. I met them both separately, for different reasons. Terry knew of us through [John] Peel, which was a lovely surprise and I met him through a mutual friend. Gary didn’t know us at all, fair do’s, but I met him, er, I’ll name drop, I met him at Dave Ball [Soft Cell]’s 60th birthday party {laughs} and got on with him really well, got his address, sent him a CD of Sounds [the album Spare Snare previously made with Steve Albini] and he loved it, which was great. So, he’s totally up for it, they both are. So they’ve never met each other, and they’re both coming up [to Edinburgh] together on the train, so they’ll have the journey to get to know each other before they come and do their thing. So, we’re planning on using them a lot, they’re both up for a day…

K: … so, they’re going to be on more than one track, you think?

J: Oh yeah, so I’m kind of hoping it’s going to be a bit of a crazy jazz angle on top of stuff, which would be different for us, and expands it a wee bit.

K: So, going back to talking about Albini then, you recorded with him on the ‘Sounds’ record in 2018 What does he particularly bring to the recording process, or the ‘capturing’ process, he doesn’t like ‘recording’, does he?

J: He calls himself an engineer.

K: Right, so why were you drawn to him again?

J: I think we were pleasantly surprised that we got on with him so well, and it’s having that confidence knowing that he’s behind the desk and knows what he’s doing.

K: Because you’ve usually done [the recording] yourself, right?

J: Usually, yeah.

K: Have you been produced by anyone else apart from him?

J: There’s been a couple of albums where we’ve been mixed, so Andy Rogers [Senior Producer Live Music at the BBC] did a couple of tracks on Animals And Me, and there’s been a wee bit with Andy Miller and Paul Savage [The Delgados] as well. And they’re all lovely, but I think there’s an element of we want to stretch ourselves, we want to be under a wee bit of pressure, don’t want to be too comfortable, don’t really want to be too local either. I think although we’re meant to be a Scottish band, or a Dundee band maybe more so, we’ve always been not really in a gang. We’ve never really been in the Scottish clique of stuff because of the Dundee thing, we’ve always been a little bit out[side], so I think there’s an element of that as well. So although we can’t afford to go over there, we can afford to bring him here {laughs}

K: And will you be recording in Chem19 again?

J: No, we’re recording at Post Electric in Leith, which is Rod Jones [Idlewild]’s studio.

K: So, is that a deliberate choice [to change]?

J: Yeah, it is. Well, Albini only works with 2″ tape, and there’s not that many studios which have that facility, so we might not be their go-to, what they do normally, but if they have [that] machine, then it’s doable. I also wanted the East Coast for a change, and it also means we are all staying under 10 minutes from the studio, including Albini, in the same hotel. It was quite tiring because we were driving a lot to Chem19 last time. So this will be, I’ll not say a holiday {laughs}, but I won’t need to go home and then deal with [that] {laughs}

K: And this is to start in October? For how long?

J: Six days. You pay for Albini for 8 days because he’s got a day of travelling each way. He’ll arrive on the Sunday, go to the hotel, sleep for a few hours, and then at night go and set up the studio, and then Monday morning, [we’re] straight in.

K: Brilliant. And you reckon something might be out in the middle of next year?

J: Yeah, probably Spring [2023]. As soon as it’s mastered, you press the button, send it to the pressing plant, and that’s like a six month run now.

K: So thinking about what’s actually going to be on the album now then, I had the pleasure last night of hearing seven new songs, and I’ve got the setlist in front of me. Are these fixed titles [Jan nods] or rough ideas? So, you talked about WiFi, which was the opener, and is not really your usual sound, right? As you said, it’s very keyboardy, and you going a bit mental over the top…

J: Keyboardy, but a bit Black Sabbath {laughs}

K: Yeah, yeah, I get that. So, does the album have a name yet?

J; No, not yet.

K: Can I suggest it should be ‘Visions’, so then you’ve got ‘Sounds’ and ‘Visions’?

J: {groans} Nah. {laughs}

K: So, the songs that you played last night, are they all definitely going to be recorded?

J: Yep, [indicates the new songs on the setlist]…

… and there are another three.

K: So, it’s going to be a 10 tracker again, and you’re going to have your ‘pop’ song at number 7?

J: That’s the plan.

K: Because there’s definitely a pop song here, I thought…

J: … which is… [indicates Have A Go], and that’s probably our second single as well.

K: Oh, singles are coming out, this is excellent news! So, the running order, when and how do you decide that then? Will you play with it a bit?

J: Yeah, I think last time what I did was give a sheet to every band member, and they write what order they think the tracks should be in…

K: Yeah, that’s very democratic.

J: It is. And then I scrub it all out and do my own.

K: {laughs} it’s like modern democracy then…

J: I have the idea of groups of which ones go together, so maybe 2 or 3 together, and then you work them out into which ones are on side 1 or side 2. Now obviously, on a CD you don’t have a side 1 and a side 2, but I quite like the flow of it going in and out…

K: So, you’ll be thinking about not just the opening track, but the closing track of side 1, and so on, and that flow, which I think is quite important.

J: Yeah, yeah, it is important, yeah, I think it comes over better. I quite like the idea, we’ve probably done it too much actually, of doing not what people expect. So, I’m thinking of the album cover not having any words on it, maybe on the back, but not on the front. But then why? It’s gone less and less… or, do we go the other way because this actually might be the album that sells, I don’t know. Do we actually put it on or put a sticker on instead? These are all things to think about. But then that sticker costs 10 pence when you put it on! {laughs}

K: It’s interesting what you have to think about. The last artwork you did, the re-release of Sounds, you used your friend [Graham Anderson]’s art..

J: Yes, he also did Unicorn and also the Smile, It’s Sugar single, and Haircut, the American single. We met when he joined me working in Our Price, and then we’ve been buddies ever since.

K: I guess if there is a theme in terms of your artwork, that would be it, that and the hand painted stuff that you did at the beginning.

J: Yeah, and everything else, that’s me, so it’s whether I’ve got the inspiration or not, but actually having the paintings is quite nice, it make it a little bit more thoughtful or a bit more interesting…

K: Well, are you thinking of a vinyl release? Because it looks really good [on 12″]…

J: It looks amazing, yeah, my (ex) brother-in-law is a medical photographer, so he has a horrible job because he’s photographing horrible things, but he’s got the gear that’s so good for photographing paintings because it’s so detailed. So you can actually see, I thought it was a blemish on the sleeve, but it’s actually the paint. So we’ll probably do that again.

K: Excellent. Just going back to the new songs then, and it terms of how they’re created, can you tell us a little bit about the song-writing process – is it something you do on you own and then take to the band and say what can you add to it or is it a bit more collaborative than that?

J: We made a point of letting everyone know at the start of this that we all got a writing credit, so they’ve all got to go six ways. And that’s partly as a [recognition of] everyone’s putting in so much time and effort, it feels like the right thing to do. But it stops bands splitting up as well. It means they then feel they can actually input as well, and we can try it, which is great, and it gives it a bit of flexibility in that way. In terms of the actual original, kind of seed, one of them actually came from Graeme [Ogston], but the rest tend to come from either myself or Barry [Gibson]. So, I think Ring To Me is the oldest track that I’d had and it’s changed in terms of speedings, but I think it’s just fair that everyone gets a percentage of something or potentially a percentage of nothing {laughs}…

K: So, do the songs change much? You’ve been rehearsing a lot and have the songs changed over time?

J: Yes, absolutely, it could be anything, like a break in the song or different ideas coming about. So it’s been really good, it’s been nine months going up to Dundee once a week [Jan is based in Glasgow]. It was very very ropey at the start. We recorded them all on a phone because we had to listen back to them, so that’s going to be on the 10 year anniversary ten box set {laughs}. In an edition of one.

K: I’ll have it! {laughs}

J: Oh, an edition of two then as I’ll have to have one! So you can actually hear all the songs evolving.

photo by Alan Cormack

K: So you said things are split six ways because the band is now a 6 piece with you, Alan Cormack, Barry Gibson, Adam Lockhart and Graeme Ogston being joined by Michael Lambert*, who wasn’t there last night [or for the Dundee gig] because of Covid, which threw a spanner in the works a little bit. Can you tell me a bit about Michael and what he brings to the band?

J: Well, the main thing is he reduces the average age of the band by about 15 years!

K: Ah, so he’s the looker of the band?!

J: He’s the hairy looker (not the hairy biker)! He was a fan.

K: From Dundee?

J: Yes, he played with Man Without Machines, Adam’s solo thing, and what happened was, 3 years ago, Graeme Ogston had some health issues, so we needed someone to stand in for a gig at Monorail [Glasgow record shop and venue] and we got Michael in to play bass. And that worked out. And when we were doing this, we thought why don’t we have Michael in, it will give us a bit of flexibility, another opinion. He can play, he knows the tunes.

K: So on the record, he’s primarily going to be on bass is he?

J: Yeah

K: It was interesting live, you said from the stage last night that you were quite pleased not to have to play your 2 string guitar, which is the sound of early Spare Snare really, but it isn’t the sound of the current Spare Snare, is it?

J: No, it totally frees me up, but it’s weird [not to be playing guitar] because it’s my song, you know? But there’s partly a practicality to it, there’s no point in bringing in another guitar for one song, and also it gives everyone else a chance to play it properly and concentrate on that… it’s a bit like The Voice, have you seen The Voice?

K: I haven’t.

J: Well, if you watch The Voice, and they just come out without any instrument, that’s good because they’re concentrating on their voice, concentrating on their performance. If you see them come out with a guitar, half the time they’re concentrating on what they’re playing and that’s not want the show’s about!

K: So, it gives you more focus on your voice too then?

J: It does, yeah…

K: If you had one.

J: {laughs} yeah, I can think about words, think about my actual performance, so I’ve definitely changed from a singer-songwriter with a band behind me to being the front man [of a band]. We’re a total gang now.

K: Well, it’s a million miles away in lots of ways from Westfield Lane (1996), which was just you, right?

J: Yeah, it is.

K: And yet you’re still playing songs from that album.

J: Yeah, people still ask for them.

K: Yeah, we want to hear them!

J: Yeah, it’s weird, {laughs}, but lovely.

K: So, what would you say the difference is then between when I saw you playing 5 or 6 years ago and now when you’ve got your 6 piece band? What would I hear that’s different?

J: Confidence.

K: It’s as simple as that is it?

J: I think it is. I think we’ve moved on from always being a bit self-deprecating and… I always quite liked that element of it could always collapse at any moment, but I prefer now because you know where everything is, where it’s all going to sit…

K: From my point of view last night, it struck me that it was so professional. I mean, yes, you were playing songs you didn’t know very well, so there were some false starts, but that’s all done with humour, but the actual delivery of the songs was spot on. I mean, Barry is a one hell of a drummer…

J: … a great drummer… underrated drummer…

K: Totally, I mean, I know you put him right at the back so we can’t see him… {laughs}.. but the stuff he was whacking out yesterday was just superb. It’s funny you should say a lack of confidence because you as a front man exude that, you come into the crowd, which is not something all front men do, would you say that’s bravado or just losing yourself in the moment?

J: It’s all acting, isn’t it? It’s all acting.

K: It’s a version of you.

J: Yeah, but I enjoy it. It’s good fun.

K: Well, you were glad-handing..

J: Yeah, probably gave Covid to everyone…

K: {laughs} so, is there a plan to tour the new album?

J: I’d love to. The biggest problem we have just now is we’ve never had a tour agent, so if you know any tour agents… Covid has really struck that area, so there are no tour agents, a lot just disappeared because they couldn’t afford to [keep going], but those that do exist have reduced their portfolios, they’re not getting anyone new in, and this is not just bands at our level that are struggling in the scheme of things, I was speaking to someone who gets a couple of thousand people a night, and they can’t get an agent. People don’t want to take any risks. So, we’re desperately looking for an agent. It’s the one thing I’m not very good at. I don’t have the time or the energy…

K: I think it is really a professional role that, isn’t it? I put you on in Liverpool a couple of times, and I don’t know what I’m doing, but you get a crowd even with me doing it. If someone who actually knew what they were doing did it, it would be better.

J: It’s someone who could do 20 dates as a one off and have the energy to do that is what we need.

K: And maybe playing festivals. You played one a couple of years ago?

J: Yes, Rockaway Beach we played, yeah, which was great. I’d love to get us on stuff like that. That was Ian who runs it, he was a fan of Westfield Lane. Who knew?

K: Well, him and Billordo [Argentinian lo-fi troubadour]

J: He (Ian)’s from Glasgow actually and was there last night. And so it’s difficult, but we definitely want to play live. Actually, what we’ve been doing over the past couple of months is contacting bands from the past that we’ve played with, who are still around, saying we’d love to play with you. So, Mountain Goats are totally up for it, they’re coming back next year if they’ve got an album out that is, so that would be quite nice if we can get some support slots in that way. So, we will see.

K: You said that you want to put the new album out on vinyl again. Any other formats?

J: Yeah, there’ll be a CD as well.

K: Tape?

J: Possibly.

K: Because that’s the cool format, you know?

J: It is, but no-one really buys them. Well, you do {laughs}. Vinyl is what everyone’s buying, but it’s expensive.

K: No mini-disc this time?

J: Well, you never know. 8-track tape? It’d be good.

K: The vinyl release of Sounds was put out in loads of different colours. Is that something you’d like to do again? And can we have a white one this time?

J: A white one. OK. I’ll make a note. [He didn’t.] I got the contract through and I’ve altered it a wee bit, sent it back, so not had it signed yet, but it’s a contract with Republic of Music, based in Brighton. They’re a pressing and distribution company, so lots of labels sign up with them, they’re ex-V2 people, Stereophonics and stuff, lovely people, had a good chat with them. So they’re up for pressing and distribution and it goes through Universal, so that’s good, it’s pretty major…

K: In America too?

J: Yes, it would be too. My worry as label manager is that they don’t press too many, they don’t press too little, because you pay for the ones that sit in the warehouse. So they have to sell out or there has to be enough to roll over for a year or so. It will happen. They’re totally up for it, which is great. So, I’m paying for all the recording and I’ll still own it, it will still be Chute Records, but they’ll do the pressing.

K: So, Chute will be on it.

J: Yeah, yeah. They’ll do the pressing and distribution and take their money from sales, and when they break even, then we’ll get some money. And that’s fine because it saves me paying for the pressing.

K: Excellent, Well, hopefully, you’ll sell loads.

J: We’re talking about doing a Dinked version. It’s all very cool.

K: Yes, I’ve got a few of those. So, there’ll be an extra flexi-disc or something like that?

J: Yeah, maybe something with it. I asked Rough Trade if they’d like to do an exclusive and they would, but Dinked is like the opposition to that, so we can’t really do both, and Dinked is in a lot more shops. Obviously Rough Trade have got 3 shops, so you’re kind of restricted to what you can do. We might do something different with Rough Trade like a signing or play in Rough Trade East or something and then do a signing there.

K: So, the Dinked thing is definite?

J: It’s being talked about, yeah, they’re quite keen to do it, and you’d sell more Dinked than Rough Trade.

K: Good that you mentioned Chute as it leads me to my next question. You have just published a fanzine looking back on the 30 years of Chute Records, the label that has put out all the Spare Snare albums, well, since Westfield Lane came out on vinyl last year, we can say that now, can’t we?

J: Yeah, although the Chute logo was on Wabana as well. It’s all licensed and I ultimately own it all.

K: But there’s other stuff as well on Chute [Grand Gestures, Muppet Mule, etc.]. So my question is how do you feel about being a 30 year old veteran of the music business?

J: {laughs} It’s funny, you just sort of accumulate knowledge, you know, it’s like anything.. most of it, I still don’t know, but it is weird how the record label model has changed from: get signed, have a hit, tour, get pissed off because you don’t own anything, you’ve been ripped off, well, you think you’ve been ripped off, but you signed the contract, to: now you own everything, it goes through Bandcamp, goes digital, you do a distribution deal, which is exactly what I’ve always been doing. So I never went for the big advance, never got offered the big advance, to be fair, but, thank god! I had a conversation with someone recently who totally disagreed with me, but I still think catalogue is everything. It’s always going to be there, it’s always something you can potentially get revenue from, whether it be something you end up synching with films and adverts in another digital world or whatever else. You must own all that. Why wouldn’t you? Why wouldn’t you want to own your own stuff? I don’t understand.

K: So, is there anything that you knowing what you know now would advise the you 30 years ago to have done differently or have you basically got it right?

J: It depends what you want. If you want a big enough advance that you can buy a house and not have any major bills and then kick straight on to touring the world…. I think the whole touring thing would be the one thing we missed out on. But, the other side of that is that if we had done that, we would have worn ourselves out and wouldn’t currently exist.

K: Yeah, well you said about bands splitting, and not many bands last as long as you have..

J: No, I noticed De Rosa officially split yesterday. Funny, because we were talking about them yesterday, and I was saying to Alan (Cormack) if we talk about any band, will they split up {laughs}, who do we not like? {laughs} I just think that it has kind of worked out for us, but then ten years ago, no-one was interested in any of the records.

K: Well, you all still work, right?

J: Exactly, it pays for itself, it breaks even quite easily now…

K: Is it more than a hobby?

J: Oh, yeah, totally, because I could not not do it. It’s, it sounds a bit wanky, but it is an art, an art of sorts, you can’t not do it. So even if it wasn’t Spare Snare, it would be something else I’d be doing in that field definitely.

K: And how does your other stuff like releases as Jan The Man and Grand Gestures fit in with Spare Snare? Is that about side projects that are never likely to take over?

J: Well, I kind of killed Grand Gestures off a wee bit because it was just such hard work making it a live thing because there were so many elements to it, so many people involved. It was great doing it, but a wee bit overpowering, a lot of personalities and stuff, it was quite draining. So I killed it off and then Phil Jupitus liked it, and I thought I can’t not ask him, so we did that.

K: Well, in a way, that did round it off because you had that plan of 3 albums and a Greatest Hits, was it?

J: A best of, yeah. I’d maybe go back and do a, not a highlights, but maybe an anthology thing with a couple of unreleased tracks that could go on, a Sanjeev (Kohli) track that’s really good, and maybe do it with different art, radio sessions as well. So there’s maybe another kind of weird compilation thing that’ll happen. But, I wouldn’t want to do anything new. Jan The Man, actually, is really good in that it’s another element of my brain that I don’t really use with Spare Snare, it’s all electronic, it’s all non-computer, so it’s all real and I just join it up with leads, press play and see what happens. And then, chop it all down. I really enjoy that and I was asked to be on a compilation, a cool wee record shop in Edinburgh, just a couple of weeks ago, so OK. People are finding it because it’s tagged as ‘electronica’, people who don’t know Spare Snare, so that’s quite nice.

K: So that’s an ongoing thing?

J: Yeah, yeah, it’s another element, when I’ve got a bit of down time, I can do that without having to deal with anyone else.

K: Well, thank you very much for spending an hour of your time before you fly off to New York.

J: That sounds very showbiz, it’s actually a holiday {laughs}

K: I do have one final question for you though, which is where can I get a copy of the Crazy Sort Of Hum (September 70 Remix) CD single??? It’s on Discogs and I haven’t got it!

J: {laughs} Right. It is on Discogs, now we did CD-Rs and I cut out pictures of celebs from Heat magazine and they got stuck on, and they got a little gold star sticker, and they were numbered 1 to 50 or whatever it was, and I think I kept a couple. Let me see what I can find… but from memory, there’s two that I kept, one was Kylie, love Kylie, one was Jimmy Saville.

K: That’s a shame.

J: {laughs}

K: Well, on that note, thank you very much, and the best of luck with your holiday first, and then the recording, and we’ll all look forward to hearing and seeing Spare Snare over the next 12 moths or so.

J: Thank you, no bother.

A couple more pictures from the fantastic Hug & Pint gig

You can find the Spare Snare back catalogue on Bandcamp.

You should also join the Spare Snare Subscription service to make sure you don’t miss out on any of those rare releases.

Podcast 122: Festival special, Reading 1992

30 years ago today Nirvana brought the Reading Festival to a close with the most legendary performance in that festival’s entire history.

And then there was also the weather, as described in Melody Maker the following week: “It rained like f**k, the wind when it came up was like something announcing The End Of The World, and the mud was deep enough to drown in.”

Our wizard Chorizo Garbanzo was there and the passing of time has now enabled him to talk about the experience. Huge thanks to 2 other veterans of that campaign, Graham and Mark, for joining him on this episode.


Related links:

Memories of Flowered Up

I wrote this piece about Flowered Up in Autumn 2019.

Extracts from this were included in the book “Flowered Up: A Weekender’s Tale” by Matt Mead and Dave Hewitson. That book was funded by a Kickstarter campaign and is now sold out.

We used to go down to Brighton a lot back then. Most weekends we would be in Sister Rays on West Street pogoing around and knocking each other into the mirrored walls around the dancefloor. When we first started going there around 1987 it was full of teenagers like us dressed in black. The music was Cure / Sisters of Mercy / Joy Division mixed in with the big punk tunes and C86 indie stuff.

Part of the club’s appeal was that it was never very busy so you’d see the same faces coming each week and there was never a wait to get served at the bar.

That gradually changed over the next few years as the whole Madchester thing took off. The decade ended with The Stone Roses at their peak, by which time no night at Sister Rays was complete without the DJ playing both Fools Gold and its equally brilliant b-side What The World Is Waiting For. The lolloping monkey dancers in beanie hats were outnumbering the any-colour-so-long-as-it’s-black brigade by this point.

As much as me and my mates liked those Roses and Mondays records, we liked Inspiral Carpets even more. They were more obviously influenced by some of our favourite punk bands (Buzzcocks, Stranglers) and songs like “Joe” and “Find Out Why” were just that bit more fast and frantic. The late Craig Gill’s unrelenting Funky Drummer at 78rpm drumbeat was irresistible to our teenage feet. (See also Simon Smith’s similar drumbeat on another Sister Rays dancefloor filler The Wedding Present’s “Kennedy.”)

A few weeks before the Flowered Up gig that I’m eventually going to get to below, we’d seen the Inspirals (or should that be the Carpets?) at the Top Rank, just opposite Sister Rays on West Street. That had gone down as the most hectic and sweaty gig we’d been to at that point. A month later we saw them play probably their biggest ever gig so far headlining the Saturday night of Reading Festival, fireworks and all.

In between those gigs, 2 carfuls of us drove down to see Flowered Up play on Tuesday 31st July 1990. I’m pretty sure it was the first time that we’d ever gone to see a band based on just one song so “It’s On” must’ve made a big impression on us. I was working in the HMV shop in Guildford then and I remember that most of the staff there though it was rubbish. But me and one of my colleagues loved it and we used to play it in the shop a lot. It must have been largely about the music because we were a bit too naive and smalltown to have much idea what the lyrics were actually about!

The gig was at the Zap Club and for those that never had the pleasure of a gig there, it was a small club under the promenade facing directly onto the beach.

Inside it was wider than it was deep with a stage that was about shin height.

On this particular night it was absolutely rammed and boiling hot. Bobby Gillespie was wandering around looking higher than the sun and somehow was the only person in there not sweating despite having a leather jacket on.

The band were jammed together on the tiny stage and we were right next to the keyboard player getting a good look at his Italo House piano chords. It’s mostly the fast songs that I remember. Of course we’d never heard any of them before but there was that frenetic Inspirals Funky Drummer drumbeat again and we were bouncing around. We ended up on the stage, we couldn’t really help it! It seemed like half the crowd were up there. Not quite sure how but we ended up going home with quite a few large pieces of Barry Mooncult’s petal stage outfit.

I’m Barry Mooncult and so does your mother!

Lots of the crowd came straight out of the gig and went swimming in the sea to cool down. I remember that when we came out of the we were really pissed off because some bastard had stolen all our clothes. Actually it was just that the currents had taken us several hundred yards east and once we’d figured that out we found that our clothes were in fact exactly where we’d left them.

I think the gig was reported in NME or Melody Maker as a riot which it definitely wasn’t. It was just a band and an audience dancing like loons and having a fucking great time.

The next single “Phobia” was a bit of a letdown after all that. It seemed to take ages for the album to actually come out and when it did there were some absolutely brilliant songs on there. Maybe something catchier like “Silver Pan” or “Crackerjack” should’ve been the follow-up to “It’s On.”

Those 2 songs and the amazing “Egg Rush” are as good as anything from that era and I still listen to them today. Joe’s guitar playing is fantastic, both the Chic style rhythm guitar and the full on lead stuff that sounds like it’s from some 70s prog rock nonsense that I definitely wouldn’t have admitted to liking back then.

Apart from going to gigs and football, we spent most of the rest of our time watching and re-watching our favourite films on VHS. Quadrophenia was one of our most frequently viewed so as soon as I heard the intro to “Weekender” I was hooked. The band’s masterpiece and just one of the most amazing singles of all time. Jimmy’s “you can take that mail and that franking machine” speech is surely the greatest ever piece of dialogue to end a song with!

Not long after “Weekender” came out I saw the band again. The scale of the gig was very different to the small sweaty Zap Club because this was “Madstock” a huge outdoor gig in Finsbury Park. I’d been in Camden that Sunday morning where someone had told me that there’d been some sort of controversy involving Morrissey on day one. He’d waved a Union Jack onstage, caused a bit of a palaver and had consequently cancelled his appearance on the second day. It all seemed like a bit of a storm in a teacup back then and I certainly did not foresee that this was one of the first signs of what a total bellend Morrissey would reveal himself to be politically over the subsequent decades!

Morrissey at Madstock the day before.

I can’t remember if it was Flowered Up or Gallon Drunk who’d played at the bottom of the bill but I remember getting right down to the front for both of them. Neither of those bands play music that suits a Sunday afternoon outdoors in the sun but there was quite a contrast to the way they approached the gig. Gallon Drunk gave it the proverbial 110% and performed to the small gathering down at the front with a lot of passion as if they were playing in the small pub backroom they probably wished they were. Flowered Up seemed to be going through the motions. Their half-hearted performance was such a contrast to the Brighton gig where it was obvious that the band were enjoying themselves at least as much as the crowd!

It’s perfectly understandable if Flowered Up didn’t particularly want to be spending a hungover Sunday lunchtime playing to a big field of people who were mostly ignoring them and concentrating instead on getting suitably pissed up for when the headliners appeared. Gallon Drunk probably didn’t want to either but they hid it better. Even so I had no idea that the band were coming to an end and I was looking forward to more Flowered Up Records because if “Weekender” was anything to go by, the second album was going to be fucking fantastic.

The first record I ever bought was “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick” in Romford Woolworths so I was really pleased that Morrissey’s no-show meant an extended set from the brilliant Ian Dury and the Blockheads. I wonder if he caught any of Flowered Up’s set earlier that day and heard some of Liam’s smart lyrics. Just like Dury, he was a one-off. Such a shame that Liam, Joe and the rest of the band didn’t leave us with more music. They had more ideas in that one album and single than many bands have over their whole dreary careers!!

Robert Pollard’s Guide To The 60s – Tape 24: The Action – Rolled Gold / Mighty Baby – Mighty Baby

The pride of Kentish Town, The Action, never made an album in their lifetime, but we review the compilation of demos that make up Rolled Gold. That band dropped singer Reg King, after he fell off a tree, and became Mighty Baby, who released 2 very different sounding albums. We give their first a listen.

You can hear what Kicker and Chorizo make of these albums by clicking on the image below.

This is what The Action album might have sounded like, pre-production…

Our chats about the previous tapes can be found where you found this one.

To avoid any potential disappointment on missing out on the next show, make sure you follow our podcast on Spotify or subscribe on Apple Podcasts.

Robert Pollard’s Guide To The 60s – Tape 23: The Everly Brothers – Two Yanks In England / The Troggs – Love Is All Around

“The best duo vocal harmonies around”, no not us, it’s The Everlys, Isaac (it says here) and Phil with their album of mostly Hollies songs, paired up on this tape with Andover fist Andover’s finest, The Troggs. Be afraid, be very afraid.

You can hear what Kicker and Chorizo make of these albums by clicking on the image below.

And, as promised, here’s how we would have improved that Troggs compilation if they’d asked us.

Our chats about the previous tapes can be found where you found this one.

To avoid any potential disappointment on missing out on the next show, make sure you follow our podcast on Spotify or subscribe on Apple Podcasts.

Robert Pollard’s Guide To The 60s – Tape 22: The Monkees – Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. / The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees

And people say we monkey around, but we’re too busy podcasting to put anybody down…

Hey, and, indeed, hey, it’s our latest look at Robert Pollard’s best of the late 60s, and it’s all Monkees with their 4th and 5th albums.

You can hear what Kicker and Chorizo make of these albums by clicking on the image below.

Our chats about the previous tapes can be found where you found this one.

To avoid any potential disappointment on missing out on the next show, make sure you follow our podcast on Spotify or subscribe on Apple Podcasts.

Podcast 121

It’s been a while since we did one of these, but we seem to have remembered how to do it. It’s just talk a load of bollocks and play a load of ace tunes, right? Right.

Anyway, this show not only features all the above, but also a star turn from Kicker Jr, who helps explain modern music to the wizards [Finally!! – TTW Ed], an exciting new lucky dip feature, no, really, and the latest instalment of Chorizo’s ever popular Musicians Dreams. Oh, yes.

You can hear all the fun of the fair here and down there…

Turn away now if you don’t want to know what’s coming up. Otherwise, here’s what we played:

  1. Robert Forster – 121
  2. Opus Kink – Mosquito
  3. Guided By Voices – Mad River Man
  4. Frankie Machine – Smell You Later
  5. Good Grief – Hatches
  6. Century Egg – Do You Want To Dance?
  7. The Mentalettes – Lovers’ Wasteland
  8. Billy Bragg – Ideology
  9. Hempuli – Water Is Sink: The Lake
  10. The Catenary Wires – Wall Of Sound
  11. St Christopher – Stornaway

The physicality: (where we had some):

Robert Pollard’s Guide To The 60s – Tape 21: Simon & Garfunkel – Bookends / The Monkees – Head

Hey, hey, it’s Simon and Garfunkel’s Bookends and hello, Monkees, my old friends, it’s the soundtrack to Head, both under the wizards’ critical microscope* on this show.

What unites the two, you may ask, well, they were both on Robert Pollard’s tape, that’s what.

You can hear what Kicker and Chorizo make of these albums by clicking on the image below.

*ill-informed guesswork

Our chats about the previous tapes can be found where you found this one.

To avoid any potential disappointment on missing out on the next show, make sure you follow our podcast on Spotify or subscribe on Apple Podcasts.

Robert Pollard’s Guide To The 60s – Tape 20: Small Faces – Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake

Oi, oi! ‘Ere’s anuvver podcarst for your delactation. So, whatcha gonna do abaht it?

Ahem. Yes, the wizards have a good listen to the Small Faces conceptual masterpiece and as a result go all cockney knees-up.

Are you all sitty comftybold two square on your botties? Then you can hear what they made of it by clicking on the image below.

And, as a special treat, see if you can spot the 10 song titles from Oliver! that Chorizo manages to include in their discussion. Let us know how you do!

We also mention that a Small Faces song should be added to this historical playlist. You can read all about the premise in, erstwhile wizard, Rebel Rikkit’s original text.

Our chats about the previous tapes can be found where you found this one.

To avoid any potential disappointment on missing out on the next show, make sure you follow our podcast on Spotify or subscribe on Apple Podcasts.