Opening on an 80s sax note, this new album gets on fire from the start with the RAMONES influenced “Let’s Get Fucked Up” which already sounds like an anthem! Then, “The Perfect Time To React” and “Until Wrong Turned Right” (with some cool piano and killer sax solo) bring back a bit of a 00s glam punk flavour, when energy, melody and style were all getting along perfectly in rock’n’roll. “Love Me (A Stalker’s Song)” and “Maybe” are typical LESTER songs with catchy choruses while “Voices In Her Head” would be on every radio station in a perfect world. Punk rock fans will enjoy “Here She Goes To The Top” and “If You Want To Stay The Night”, and “Poor’s Men De Niro” is not only a great song title, it seriously rocks! Lester has a great voice for ballads and you can hear this in the intro of “Out Of Tune, Out Of Key”, another song that should be a hit single! There’s some 70s grandiloquence in this song. You’ll find two bonus tracks: “All These Dreams Could Kill”, a killer up tempo song, and “Coo Ca Choo”, a glammy punk pop tune. Don’t tell me you won’t find anything to your taste in this new record! /Laurent C.
PARADISE ALLEY are back! Lead vocalist Steve Vincent tells us about the band’s history, the 25th anniversary of their album “Psychotic Playground” and the late 80s/early 90s London glam scene.
Can you tell us a bit about the beginnings of PARADISE ALLEY?
I had left my band in Scotland, Indian Angel and moved to London at the start of 1992 where I replaced Paul Blitz (ex-Soho Roses) in Scarlet Tears. It was not the happiest of unions and I never really fitted in as they kept telling me not to copy what Paul had sang on the recordings, to do my own thing but make it sound like the recordings. To say that messed with my brain is an understatement, hahaha. Anyway, I had arranged a gig in Oxford which went pretty well but the audience kept shouting for us to play Indian Angel songs and I think there were a few bruised egos. I had an idea of what I wanted a band to be and already had the name Paradise Alley after seeing it in a TV listing so started advertising for band members in Sounds and Melody Maker. At around the same time one of the guys from Scarlet Tears called to suggest I leave and seemed really taken aback when I announced that I was leaving to start my own thing anyway. Again, I don’t think they knew what they wanted really.
Well, one of the first people that replied to my ad was Richie Hale who I knew from a few of the clubs and we hit it off straight away and worked on putting the band together from there. There was lots of coming and going of people in the first six months but eventually I settled on a line up and we recorded our first demos. That line-up I was joined by Johnny Idle and Darryl Wilks on guitars, Rich Emborg on Bass and Adam King on drums. That was end of ’92 and stayed together until the following Summer. That’s when we had Damian Cullen join on drums.
You’ve just celebrated the 25th anniversary of your album “Psychotic Playground.” Can you tell us about the recording sessions? Did you release any demo cassettes before?
Well we had recorded a three track demo in early 93 which we started circulating to get gigs and that included a Hanoi song, Shakes that was meant for a tribute album (the tribute album never materialised). Anway, we recorded the album in the Fall of 93 and it was a pretty crazy time. Damian and I were crashing at Johnny’s flat at the time and they were pretty insane times with lots of partying and not a lot of sleep, hahahahaha. When we were recording, three of us had day jobs so we recorded through the night and would literally go straight to work from the studio. I have no idea how we kept it all together but let’s just say we had some stimulation to keep us going. So when it came time to do the 25th anniversary edition it seemed right to combine the demo and the album as one release.
Was the London glam/sleaze scene still active at this time?
Yes, it most definitely was. Kill City Dragons were still around, Gunfire Dance were regular visitors from Birmingham, theDogs were still around with Darrel Bath in the line-up. There was us, Waterbratz, Dogsbody, Last Great Dreamers, Pleasure Victims…there were still plenty of us with a love of Cuban heels and eye liner put it that way, hahahahaha. And there were still a good few clubs to keep us entertained too.
Many of the early 90s London glam bands never got the chance to release any records, and you were lucky if you could find anything else than a few pictures and a demo cassette when living outside of the UK. Do you remember any of them that should have deserved more attention?
I think we ALL deserved more attention than we got but we didn’t have the money from the record labels to wine and dine the magazines. I remember sitting with Ray Zell one night and him telling me we were all screwed from the point of view of media attention because when the call came in from someone like Bon Jovi it was an all-expenses paid trip to the States with backstage access, free booze, women, etc. all any of us could offer was a meet up at The Ship in Wardour Street and a wet Tuesday night at the Marquee – it was a no-brainer from the point of view of the journalists, they always went for the more glamourous options.
Did you play many shows? What were your favourite clubs to play? What bands did you play with? What are your best live memories?
We played all over, not just London but there was a bit healthier club and pub scene then so it was worth piling into the back of a transit van with your gear and heading off round the UK. We played some amazing shows through the years, the early ones at places like Newcastle Trillians, The Wag in London, The Anchor in Chesterfield all hold some amazing live memories for me from those days.
We played with most of the bands on the scene back then, lots with the Pleasure Victims and I am still mates with Jez to this day (although he plays Drums now in the Men that cannot be blamed for anything). Played with the Gunfires too, they were the torchbearers for me, they just had “it”. Favourite clubs to play were the Marquee in Charing X Road, the Wag, Trillians in Newcastle, CBGBs is one of my fondest memories and the Coconut Teaszer in LA.
What were your favourite places (clubs, bars, shops…) to hang out in London those days?
The best bars back then were The George, The Ship and The Intrepid Fox and it was like an invisible triangle in Soho that we followed between all three. Club wise there was the Hellfire, Gossips and the St Moritz, all were great places to hang out and sadly all gone now apart from the St Moritz although they don’t have much going on there anymore. Shop-wise you still had Kensington Market which was great to even just hang out in and plan what you were going to buy when you had some spare cash (I admit I am a shopaholic when it comes to clothing, hahaha) but even Carnaby Street was still pretty cool at the end of the Eighties, early nineties, it was so sad to watch all of that change so dramatically.
Can you tell us about your second album “Heartbreakers & Homewreckers”?
Well at the end of the Psychotic Playground Tour we played a showcase at The Marquee for a few major labels but the band literally split up on stage. Our bass player was arrested the night before for aggravated assault so spent the gig in a prison cell and we played with a stand-in bassist. Johnny and Damian announced they were calling it quits so it got pretty tense during the gig, hahaha. There was no way I was ready to call it quits so I put together a new line-up basically with friends of friends. They were all influenced a bit more by Classic Rock stuff and flashier stuff like Steve Vai but we did click from a song writing point of view so we kept going. Like the first album it started off self-financed but then we had a friend of the band help us out and then the producer offered us extra studio time in exchange for representing the band to the record labels once it was finished. I think rather naively we accepted although it is a pretty good album but label-wise no one was biting with that type of music by the mid-nineties so we just stagnated.
It did become more apparent as we recorded it however that we were all pulling in different directions and by the time it was finished there was me in one camp and the rest of the band in the other. We struggled on gigging for a while but it wasn’t a happy time and we ended up playing just gigs local to where the band were living around Berkshire, just West of London. We became a bit of a glorified covers band by the end of it sitting on an unreleased album and I was miserable. Delinquent in the States heard the album and contacted me saying they wanted to sign us and take us to America so after a lot of negotiating on my part, we signed the deal. At that point the rest of the band quit as it wasn’t there thing anymore, musically or otherwise. They hate the album now and have said some pretty unkind things about me and the band but hey, that’s up to them, they weren’t complaining when they were having sex with lots of pretty girls because they were in the band but that’s life I guess.
Did you get any opportunities to tour outside of the UK?
Well when I brought over The 69 Eyes from Finland for their first ever UK shows back in ’96, the plan had been for us to then go over to Finland and tour with them but the rest of the guys in Paradise Alley did not get on with them and so it sadly never happened. We have talked about doing Scandinavian shows and other European shows but we’ll see what the future holds I guess. We did almost tour Japan in the nineties as we were on the verge of a deal there and some dates were pencilled in but for one reason or another it never happened. We did tour the States twice, first time starting off in New York, including CBGBs then down the Mid-west to the South in Alabama and Georgia. That was in 1998 when the second album came out and then we went back and played around Los Angeles in 2000.
Have you ever thought about releasing your albums on vinyl?
Actually, when we first started planning the debut album it was meant to be a vinyl release but that was definitely on the way out in the early nineties and we figured we would probably be shooting ourselves in the foot by doing that so opted for CD. I would love to see them on vinyl but it’s so expensive to do and the second album line-up do not want Heartbreakers re-released in any format whatsoever, something about us trading off on their genius or something, hahaha. So sadly that will not be happening, people will just have to content themselves with the digital version of Heartbreakers and the CD of Psychotic Playground (at least until that sells out).
Do you sometimes miss the good old days of cheap collage flyers and paper fanzines?
I miss those days so much, there was something about making the flyers, trying to be as eye catching as possible, fly posting, going out and talking to people that was so cool and the old paper fanzines were incredibly cool and were generally very, very supportive of us and all the bands in the scene.
Any bands/albums you have liked recently?
I guess I am pretty old school in that there is not a lot of the new stuff that is grabbing my attention. I do like the latest Plastic Tears album, not just because we’ve been friends for a long time, haha, I just genuinely think it is a really good album. I am a fan of Trench Dogs too and their album is a regular visitor to my CD player, very cool looking band too. A lot of the new stuff is more influenced by “Hair Metal” which has never really been my thing as I am more of a Hanoi/Ramones/Stones fan so it’s not that it is technically bad, it’s just not my thing.
Can you tell us about the 2019 version of PARADISE ALLEY?
Well, other than Taj Sagoo who was in the last properly functioning line-up of the band when we toured the States, it’s completely fresh. We have Ben Alexander on bass who has been a friend of ours for a good few years now and he was completely the first choice when we decided to put the band back together. He has fitted in so well and he brings so much to the band with backing vocals and song writing as well as his bass playing. We have a lead guitarist that we are working with right now and we should be making an official announcement on him very soon but again he’s bringing a lot to the table with ideas and enthusiasm which is great to have, otherwise after doing something as long as we have, you start to become a bit jaded. Drummer-wise we are still auditioning but we are holding out for the right person as so far no one has actually been into the same type of music and they all want to be paid a regular wage which in this day and age is incredibly unrealistic, lol.
We are working towards a new album and playing as much as possible and not just in the UK. We’ve already been invited to Europe and the States and we want to spread the word as much as possible. We know we are a cult underground band, we have no illusions of being signed to Universal and making millions, but as long as we can get out there, make people happy and ourselves happy playing rock’n’roll then I reckon we are winning. We aren’t reinventing the wheel, we are a low-slung guitar toting rock’n’roll band, just like we always have been.
This is the third full-length album of punk blues Italian trio The GENTLEMENS. The vinyl version is released by Hound Gawd! Records, so it looks very nice as usual. ‘Still I Am” gives this album a quite brilliant opening, bringing a vibe somewhere between The CRAMPS and JOHN SPENCER, while second song “Sheltered” is a great high primitive energy track. The band also sounds more modern garage rock with noisy dissonance in “Shame-Love”, and even adds some pop to the recipe in “I Let You Die” and in “Sin Love Pray.” The garage influence is especially strong in “Out Of Here”, “Dlana’s Flavour” or in “Lower Ground Floor.” You’ll even here some blues (“She Made Me Hard”) and a bit of funk in “A Second Coming”, while “John Q Public Blues” sounds darker, hypnotic and more cinematic.
Italy has been offereing us some quite interesting rock’n’roll bands lately, and The GENTLEMENS are definitely one of them! /Laurent C.
The HIP PRIESTS are probably one of the most active rock’n’roll bands in the UK at the moment, they released four albums, three EPs and twenty four (!) 7″ singles in a little more than 10 years! Kicking off with “Welcome To Shit Island” (Brexit, anyone?), The HIP PRIESTS‘ punk rock’n’roll still sounds as nihilistic, fast and tight as ever. You’ll hear some Jerry Lee Lewis piano mixed to TURBONEGRO backing vocals in “Stand For Nothing”, and a bit of early HELLACOPTERS in “Cheers To Me” and “Losers Of The Faith.” The HIP PRIESTS mix hard rock riffs, solos and attitude to raw, dirty punk energy the same way early 00′ Scandinavian bands used to do, and whne you think about it, not many bands manage to do this anymore. Most of these bands have now moved more melodic American influenced 70s rock’n’roll. The band sounds unstoppable when listening to “Social Hand Grenade” and ZEKE comes to mind in songs like “U Okay Hun” or “From Here To Adversity.” “DeJa F.U” is one of the catchiest songs on this album, and is probably amazing when played live. These guys only slow down with “How Do You Get Off” before getting back to in your face punk’n’roll with “Last Train Wrecks” and “Rock n Roll Leper”, a song that could be their anthem. High energy freaks will love this new album! /Laurent C.
Yes, yes, I am well aware that Amerikkka’s uptight, think-tank engineered, consensus manufacturing, safe space college culture abhors the use of even deliberately offensive sarcasm-even if it’s the feminist magazine “B Word”, and even the most righteous black radical hip hop artists use of the taboo n word, in the context of self empowerment, and not everybody’s gonna “get”, or like, the name of this crazy Sydney Australia gang of gutter punk mischief makers. Lilly white college people who’ve embraced the Comics Code Authority, and PMRC Temperance League finger waggers, and scolding committees who always show up hoping to make a bust, every time some punks or everyday people wanna express some blue collar rage that ain’t P.C., and properly photo shopped and white washed. That’s why most of us walked away from the hipster hell-holes where everyone is rich and fake and holier than thou with their Mimosas and bullshit poses. We’re all incessantly hassled and reprimanded and sent to the back of the bus if we ain’t had the Sensitivity Studies crunchy granola makeovers, and I kinda get why we are discouraged from ever using the hurtful lingo of our mean-spirited rightwing hate speech oppressors, even if we earnestly believe we are just doing our job, by turning the tables on our rightwing rulers and mocking them, mocking us, but I also get how these radical leftist boot boy provocateurs are wearing the rightwing putdown proudly, and triumphantly, like a badge of honor. They also hate the Dickies and the Three Stooges in the cloistered faux liberal Hillarybot Rachel Redscare college towns. The tone police in the ivory towers have no desire to confront real power, like the evil sons a bitches overthrowing Venezuela and kidnapping indigenous children at the border, so they just wanna wring their hands some more about how they frown upon you liking taboo and forbidden free speech whipping dogs like Richard Pryor, or the Dead Kennedys, or Wasp, or El Duce, or whatever. I avoid the people from the ivory towers. They were never gonna like me, anyway. They are all just like, prudish, modern-day Tipper Gores.
The anniversary of Sid Vicious’s death seems like the perfect day to crank up this defiantly rebellious, punk as fuck, 45 that spins at 33, from the Dark Clouds now legendary Dee Dee Ramone figure, turned furious truth telling front man, Ronnie Wreckless, and company. Man, how I wish Tim Yo from Maximum Rocknroll was still around to dig this shit. Loud, fast rules, forty ounce in a brown bag on the filthy street corner, abrasive rocknroll street dog madness from the endlessly enchanting land of the Powder Monkeys, Hard Ons, Beasts Of Bourbon, and Rose Tattoo! This stuff will take you back to your own golden moments, before society divided up your friends by class and “identity”, when the kids were still united and could never be divided. When BEING was still every bit as important as HAVING. When motherfuckers still REBELLED and READ BOOKS and THOUGHT FOR THEMSELVES! “Privileged White Guy Blues” reminds me of Billy Bragg or some other righteous testifiers from the real punk rock days when we could all sit as equals on milk crates in the wet basement and come to consensus, before all this bull shit about whoever has the money has the credibility and final say in all matters, forever and ever, Amen. Before the capitalist, corporate con-job of “Alternative” duped everyone with goateed grunge moaning, baby dresses, and rich kid ukuleles, and all those loathsome, buzzkillin’ floods of college wankers came in and stole the scene with their parents fucking money and high school sports team competition social hierarchies, and delivered us collectively into two decades of unlistenably twee and detached hipster rich kid mediocrity and manufactured dance muzak that has reigned over our corporate owned airwaves since ’96. “Useless Generation” reminds me of the last wave of underground punk I felt any connection to-the heyday of Libertine, Moral Crux, Dimestore Haloes, and U.S. Bombs. After that final hour, of Hit-List magazine punk rock, I fell between the cracks, went broke, and never again had spare money to buy records. Their proletariat everyman ideology and smartass sense of humor will immediately appeal to fans of the Spent Idols or Humpers. “Don’t Call ‘ Em Hipster” made me smile, right away-my kinda parody, I’m not a big fan of gentrification brunchers, myself. “Subculture” is bratty, juvie gang, punk right out of the eighties Indiana punk scene, where I grew up. Makes me think of combat boots and brainy goth girls galore. “50 Plus Degrees” and “Cock N Balls” remind me of hard years spent living in shitty vans “that smell like balls, dog, and broken dreams”, in the immortal words of my former travelling companion, shivering in cold rehearsal spaces, drinking malt liquor, and drunken all night sing-alongs, before the rich people stripped us of our joy and freedom, and strong-armed us out of the old neighborhood, before the con-job of “Alternative” where you had to be a kissass Counting Crows, furrowed brow and trust funded, rich person from a fancy college, to even participate in music, in any meaningful way. The Leftards are a welcome clarion call from deepest Garage Land, urging all the sincere punks to get back to where you once belonged! Right the fuck on!