Friday, 29 August 2008

Top 5 Tribute Band Names

Tribute bands were a 90's phenomenon. It all seemed such a brilliant idea when they first started appearing. A chance to see bands you'd never seen who'd split up or passed on playing all your favourite songs in a small venue. Typically things eventually got out of hand. Now tribute bands are playing larger venues and becoming almost as popular as the artists they are honouring. I feel there ought to be Tribute Band legislation to sort the wheat from the chaff. Thou shalt not form a tribute band of anyone who has not had a career lasting at least ten years. Thou shalt not play a venue bigger than 500 capacity. Thou shalt not employ a member of the band you are trying to impersonate. You get the idea.

1. By Jovi - Hands down, out and out winner. This is a genius name, in fact a name worthy of forming a Bon Jovi tribute band just to use. I can't think of many other reasons why you'd want to form a Bon Jovi tribute band. One day I will go and see them just so I can say that I have.

2. aRe wE theM - For some reason this makes me laugh. A lot. Really needs the capitalisation to get it but brilliant none the less.

3. Nearvana - I never saw Nirvana live. Had a close miss which I regret not taking, so this lot are as close as I'm likely to get.

4. Beatallica - Ok, not just a straight tribute band but a cunning combination of the Beatles and Metallica. When I first discovered this thought it was a smart idea. They used to offer their music for free but now seem to be charging for everything. Guess they worked their way around any potential law suits. Not sure what's going on with their image on the front page of the website - that guy in the middle looks more like King Diamond than any 'Tallica or Beatles member.

5. Geneside - The one band I've actually seen live. Geneside were an early Genesis tribute band. They were great actually, although I saw them far too many times to be healthy. Had to change their name (to the rather bland ReGenesis) when they realised most people thought they were a Death Metal band. I think they've been surpassed of late by a host of other early, mid and late Genesis tribute bands, but for me they were the first and the best.

A special mention for The Remainz who are the exception to the not using ex-band members in your line-up rule. They featured Dee-Dee and Tommy Ramone and there's a sort of tragic humour to the name. Also Lez Zepplin who are an all-female Led Zep tribute (obviously!). I'd rather go and see them than watch Zoso and Percy drag themselves around enormo-domes for the price of a small mortgage.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Top 5 Radio shows

Run out of time so just a brief one this week.

1. Mark Lamarr "God's Jukebox" (BBC Radio 2) - Any of the shows Lamarr does for Radio 2 are worth a listen. He really knows his stuff and his enthusiasm for the music he loves shines through. "God's Jukebox" covers a huge variety of style and continues to introduce me to bands and artists I knew far to little about.

2. Marc Riley (BBC 6Music) - Riley used to drive me up the wall in his prime time Radio 1 partnership with Mark Radcliffe. This weekday 6 Music show therefore caught me by surprise. More restrained, almost to the point of shyness but like Lamarr a real enthusiast for exciting music.

3. John Kennedy "Xposure" (XFM) - I don't get to hear this very often. It's on late and XFM don't have a decent Listen Again facility like the Beeb. John Kennedy has been with XFM since it's very earliest transmissions and in many ways is their very own Peel. A real advocate of new and unsigned bands.

4. Steve Lamacq (BBC 6Music) - Lamacq's where it's at when it comes to mainstream Indie. Some days I don't want to be challenged I just need a nice tune I can hum. A good line in self deprecating humour and stories of lower league football as well.

5. Breakfast with Alice Cooper (Planet Rock) - Breakfast with The Coop. Genius.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Top 5 Record Shops

The news a couple of weeks ago that Sister Ray had gone in to administration tweaked my coincidence. I spent quite a proportion of my teenage years browsing in record stores and by the time I started work was probably a major contributor to the annual cash flow of a number of stores. I generally resisted the lure of the big chain stores (except on Sale days when I felt it was justified) but as the Internet came to the fore and cheap CDs became more easily obtainable I found myself in a proper record shop less often. Family responsibilities take their place and value for money becomes more important. Amazon, CD-Wow and more recently HMV all offer albums at fantastic value if you keep an eye on fluctuations in price. However I do miss the excitement of finding an album you never knew existed or just flicking through the racks and taking a chance on a record with an interesting cover.

1. The Record Shop (Kingston) - I bought my very first records from W.H.Smiths and Woolworth's but when I started college I discovered the best record store in Kingston and my all time favourite. I spent a lot of my teenage years in here and became good friends with a lot of the staff. I'd moved away by the time they were forced to close down, suffering from the rise of the chain stores and the Internet. It was a sad day. The other record shop in Kingston was Beggar's Banquet. Beggar's was aimed at the Indie fan whilst The Record Shop was for the Rock and Metal fan so there was always a friendly rivalry between them. As my tastes changed I did occasionally sneak into Beggar's for a guilty browse through the latest Indie. The nineties saw the rise of Madchester and baggy and I was starting to expand my horizons. I still kept the faith with The Record Shop boys though. Beggar's is still operational now trading as Banquet Records and seemingly quite active in the local live gig scene.

2. Shades (London, Soho) - THE shop for Metal Heads during the 80's I'd often make the pilgrimage up to town to have a browse through the racks. The journey up to town to find a basement tucked away between the strip clubs and clip joints just to buy a couple of (probably fairly dire) thrash metal LPs or some new woven patches for my denim jacket probably seems a bit ludicrous now but it really was the only way to get hold of some of that music at the time. Shades was also famed for in-store appearances by most of the leading lights of the scene at the time. A nice article here at Thrash It's a cool name too.

3. The Rock Box (Camberley) - The first (and possibly only) of my Top 5 that's still alive and kicking. It's a bit of a trek but worth the effort. Specialising in Rock and Metal they cover a decent spectrum of genres. It's a good size for browsing and has a wide range of CDs and vinyl. Sold a couple of boxes of Vinyl to them the other week and got a reasonable price as well. If you live in the area you need to make a visit.

4. Select-a-disc (London, Berwick Street) - Select-a-disc was probably my favourite London based record emporium. Nice and roomy and with a broad selection of styles it was a shock to hear they had been taken over by Sister Ray (prior to their fall into administration). Sister Ray's original shop had never been up to much, too small and lacking an environment where you felt comfortable just having a browse. They did pioneer the mail order service though, thereby contributing to their own down fall to some extent. There's a Select-a-disc in Nottingham which I've not managed to visit yet. I believe it's still open so I will make the effort if I'm ever in the area again, before it's too late. and

5. Fopp (Glasgow, Byres Road) - This shop was a bit of an eye opener when I first encountered it. It seemed to be a bit of a chain store (similar to the briefly successful MVC) but had a good catalogue at reasonable prices. I'm happy to pay a little bit extra to buy music from a proper shop and Fopp's policy to offer classic albums at a fiver suited me down to the ground. Shortly after I first discovered them they made an attempt to expand that I think went badly wrong. They went into administration and were (if my memory is correct) bought out by HMV. Haven't been back to Glasgow since (nor to any other Fopp branch) so I don't know how this has affected their stock but I doubt it's a good thing.

A special mention for Langley Records in Molesey. A bizarrely large record shop for a fairly small catchment area. This was a spot I spent a bit of time in when I should have been studying for my A-Levels at Esher College. The details of my truancy are for another forum but a long walk to Molesey and a couple of hours browsing round the Langely racks were a favoured way to spend my time for a few months. I'm not sure I ever actually bought a great deal but I do know I picked up a rare Andy Bown album there (ex-member of The Herd and keyboard & harmonica player with Status Quo since the late seventies for the non-Quo fans amongst you). It wasn't very good. They were also located opposite a public toilet that had a certain reputation which may have been the site for the fall from grace of a certain member of eighties pop heroes Five Star. Langley Records aren't online (which is another good indication that they're a shop worth frequenting) so if you fancy a trip you can find them at 466 Walton Road, West Molesey, Surrey KT8 2JG (Tel: 020-8979-3648).

Friday, 8 August 2008

Top 5 Mild Swear Words.

Something quick and easy this week. I just finished reading George Orwell's "Down & Out in Paris and London" a thoroughly enjoyable account of his time surviving on very little money whilst working in appalling conditions as a "pongleur" in Paris before moving back to London where he lived as a tramp for several weeks. Throughout the book swear words are blanked out or replaced with the French translation, which is not so surprising in a book of it's time. However, late in the London half of the story Orwell expends a whole chapter on the evolution of slang and swearing and the way the power of these words change over time. It amused me that in this one chapter the swear words are printed in full. It's also interesting to discover the origins of words we still use today and also words that Orwell believed were falling into disuse that have since returned to our vocabulary (Bloody, Doss etc). This Top 5 therefore is a list of my favourite "not quite" swear words which I hope might return to fashion. They're also a handy set of expletives to resort to when in front of the kids.

1. Blige

2. Flippin' 'Eck

3. Crikey

4. Golly Gosh

5. Jiminy Cricket


Friday, 1 August 2008

Chop's Top Fives Supergroup: Final line-up

So after five weeks I've finally completed my Supergroup line-up. I've stuck with a fairly traditional dual guitar, bass & drums line-up. Gerry and Cat can take it in turns to sing and then play keyboards when they're not. My additional band member is Booker T Jones who was always going to make this line-up so I didn't feel the need to do another Top 5. Everyone in the band is still alive so I'm quite pleased that this group could actually play live. In fact if anyone listed fancies giving it a go they can drop me an email and I'll try and get something sorted! The venue we'll play is the 100 Club in London which came 5th in my Top 5 Gig Venues (don't know what I was thinking that day, it clearly should be higher) as we need a venue with a bit of history behind it (and a decent bar!). The set will be a mixture of garage rock and soul classics from the early 60's, starting with "Psycho" by The Sonics (just to get Gerry's vocal chords warmed up) and ending with a 15 minute jam featuring any of my other contenders that are still alive and lots of feedback.

Vocals - Gerry Rosalie & Cat Power
Guitar - Joey Santiago
Guitar - David Pajo
Drums - John Convertino
Bass - Mike Watt
Organ - Booker T. Jones

As an added bonus here's a quick Top 5 Supergroups

1. Blind Faith
2. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
3. This Mortal Coil
4. The Highwaymen
5. Fantômas