Established in 1995, Auto-Pilot (aka Adrian Collier) is synonymous with explorations in music that gravitates around evolving electronic with elements of ambience, synth-pop and alternative. There have been several excellent releases with various labels but it has been a whole 5 years since the last one (8-Zero/Flicknife 2015), that particular release spent most of 2015 on rotate in my car and is still a go to listen 5 years later. During this time, Adrian has been involved in the production of pure ambient music projects and sound experiments winning the One World Music award for best ambient album 2018 (Lost In Fractal Forest) which much to my shame I missed reporting on.

Auto-Pilot performs live with a variety of guest musicians and psychedelic visual projections cast over smoke filled stages. In 2013 Auto-Pilot supported Michael Rother in Guttersloh and returned to Germany the following year attending an electronic music award ceremony having been nominated for both best international artist and album categories. From the very first line up way back in 1995 several musicians have performed within the Pilot ranks. Most notably, original vocalist Lee Harston-Southern returns on this latest release (3rd track ‘In The Machine).

So Freak Electric is Auto-Pilot’s first release in 5 years, it’s a collection of songs that successfully attempts to fuse the feeling and mood of all the past releases and for this listeners money I would say is an excellent introduction to Adrian Collier’s music. It was initially intended to be a follow on from 2012’s ‘The Atlantic Machine’ and honourably references the best of early electronic music. Tracks such as, one of my personal favourites, ‘Casio Days’, ‘Normal Behaviour’ and ‘I Breath Nothing’ are very much in the early 80’s time frame and would have sat easily with the 2015 release, ‘8-Zero’. The ambient experimentation is here, as is the influence of originals such as ‘Gary Numan’, ‘Kraftwerk’ and lesser known pioneers like ‘The Normal’. Tracks ‘I Breath Nothing’ and ‘We Will Remember’ were both originally written and recorded (on 4-track cassette) in 1987. These re-recorded versions are true to the originals that had remained unreleased until now. ‘In The Machine’ was co-written by Lee Harston-Southern who is also the vocalist on the track. Lee was in the original 1995 line up and sang on the Ocearina album.

Whether you area long standing follower of Adrian’s music or an electronic music fan that is new to his music this release perfectly represents the canvas of the man’s musical soundscape. Personally I love it and this disc will be on my playlist for some considerable time.

Release date – July 15 2020

Label – Broque Records

Sammy D

Previous Releases

Ocearina 1996 (holophon/9volt) Out Here 2007 (holophon/9volt) Lights Across the Street ep 2008 (broque) Dreaming Real Things 2008 (Syngate) A Fractured Echo ep 2009 (51beats) The Atlantic Machine 2012 (broque/9volt) 8-Zero 2015 (flicknife) as Adrian Collier Lost In Fractal Forest 2018 (MGM) Eden 2020 (Labradour USA)

The Cult of Free Love are an international collective with members spanning three continents. ‘Visions’ is the follow-up to 2016’s critically acclaimed debut ‘Love Revolution.’

The album follows hot on the heels of 2 well received EPs that were released late last year through Magic Love Records (UK) and 1Q84Tapes (Italy). Members of the band have long been associated with the excellent pshyche label Northern Star and ‘Visions’ sees them returning home to the recently resurrected label.

The title track ‘Visions’ features Tim White and Scott Causer and has been remixed by Danny Walley. The band’s music has received comparisons to the likes of Primal Scream, New Order, The Chemical Brothers, The Future Sound of London, Warp Records and Stranger Things.

Check out title track ‘Visions’ on bandcamp

Since first receiving this track it’s been on repeat here in the ivory tower & if there is any justice in this strange old world of music this enigmatic Welsh druid cult should be finding a much wider audience very quickly.

The song has the perfect blend of a Sumner-esque vocal sat perfectly with hypnotic driving synths that are haunted by a heavily reverb laden guitar sound. The guitar sound pioneered by the likes of Dick Dale, Bert Weedon & Hank Marvin, later popularised in the electronic world by Martin Gore with ‘Personal Jesus,’ further cementing Depeche Mode with their legendary status. Cult of Free Love are definitely onto something with this tune.

For all the essential comparison references made above, essential to paint a picture for the potential listener, I have to say with this release COFL have mined a seam that is exclusively their own. Hopefully we’ll get to see this mystery crew live in the none-too-distant future.

Sammy D.

Cult of Free Love – Visions

Format: 12” Vinyl LP
Cat.No: NS17
Label: Northern Star Records
Release Date: 28th August 2020

Pre-order / Stream / or buy album on bandcamp


Twenty years ago this very morning (June 3rd 2020) we jumped into the car, full packets of fags and so full of excitement I was a like a big kid on Christmas morning. I drove to the heart of Manchester and we spent the day in the pouring Manchester rain walking around Oxford Rd as the excitement built ..The Chameleons Resurrection Gig at Manchester Academy was the ultimate destination.

The Corona virus and its restrictions sadly put a stop to a half planned reunion of as many of the away crew as possible this summer but it will happen eventually I am sure….Here’s my brief memories of the 3rd of June 2000 ..I wrote it a couple of years ago …




“So are we back or what?” asks Mark Burgess near the start of this reunion night. “I think so I really do” he replies almost to himself. It was a fact though, The Chameleons were back live on a big stage after around 12 years of acrimony since they first split back in 1988. Back then the differences between the four members had finally come to a dramatic end. Differences of where to set up shop now they were signed to Geffen had risen, Mark wanted them to move to LA and go for it, he’d spent some time over there with Geffen Folk and probably had enjoyed the lifestyle and the future possibilities of being close to the world’s biggest record company who had signed them up. Who could blame him? Back in the UK the music press were ambivalent at best towards the Chameleons, some were outright dismissive, even rude, add to that the LA weather compared to the near constant rain of Manchester and most of us would be tempted to give it a go. Dave Fielding and possibly Reg Smithies didn’t agree. They were on peanuts as a weekly wage and could barely live in Manchester never mind the expense of upping sticks and the cost of the LA life. Other factors started to kick in, Mark by his own admission was starting to lose the plot and decided almost on the eve of a US tour to take himself off to Israel to find God or himself. Dave and one assumes the rest of the band and management were less than happy about this. Somehow they managed to carry on and record four tracks towards the next album (that would later become the Tony Fletcher e.p. when Mark released them without the rest of the bands permission). John Lever had had enough of the hassle, he decided to leave the band and join up with old mates Andy Clegg and Andy Whitaker who were writing their own new material Under the ‘Music for Aborigines’ banner . Mark soon followed and the four became the Sun and the Moon, working the songs the two Andy’s had written into an album to be released by Geffen. Dave still says he and Reg were never informed of any of this until it had already happened and the subsequent release of the Tony Fletcher EP (in their opinion a bootleg) didn’t help the chances of the four ever being able to reconcile their differences, and reforming, although often touted over the coming years, was always considered unlikely by those in the know.

I wasn’t one in the know, I had lost track of this great band some time earlier. I had three outstanding albums which would be played to death, literally in the case of Script of the Bridge because the grooves actually wore out, and the memories of a live show back in 83 at Rock City. A friend put me on to the Sun and the Moon album in the early 90’s but I had heard no real news of why the break up happened, I also had no idea Dave and Reg had started working as The Reegs and sadly they had totally passed me by. The power of the internet, even the early, painfully slow dial up version had put me onto a yahoo group about the Chameleons, I signed up and got the odd glimpse of no real news, there was no news it seemed. Then at some point after our return from a trip away I noticed some activity on the Yahoo group, I shouted out aloud when I read The Chameleons had reformed and were playing the Academy in Manchester in June. I came close to crying when I then read they had already played 5 nights at some small venue in Ashton Under Lyne. I ordered our tickets and made our way there on the day.

It rained, it rained hard, it didn’t stop raining all day and all night, so we found ourselves crammed into a packed Academy. 2000+ damp people, mainly now middle aged, stocky balding men who held such a love of this band and had their music so deep inside over the years that it had become a part of their very being. All of us in one of Manchester’s largest music rooms awaiting something we thought we would either never see again or in the case of the newer/younger fans, never see at all. We didn’t know anybody, that didn’t matter to me because on the whole we were as one, all together in the moment and the music. The sound, the performance and the lights made it the most special of nights for everyone in there. The electric atmosphere in the build-up was something we could all feel sizzling up our spines and it was all released as a joyous welcome as the band came on stage and blew us all away as if the years had never passed and a new positive future awaited us all within those classic old songs.With the addition of a new song and a totally different new vibe with the addition of Rasta man Kwasi Asanti joining them onstage for the encores a new dimension was added to the band.

In future months we would get to know many of the people in the room who had come from all over Britain and indeed the world to share this moment in Manchester Indie music history and we’d be at the heart of the Chameleons away crew following the band across Europe and into the USA and make many dear friends who still mean the world to us 20 years later, but for now this heaving mass of rain and sweat soaked bodies and let’s not forget the tears either, there were tears a plenty even from us now middle aged balding men, especially from us now middle aged balding men! It was beautiful, powerful and emotionally charged, it turned out to be life changing in many ways.

They played many of their great songs, I could write a list but it’s irrelevant really , if you’re reading this then you’ll know which songs, all that really matters is they were brilliant, on fire, loving the music, the adoration, the crowd, the atmosphere and seemingly each other ..Dave played a Didgeridoo (a recently found skill) during Soul in Isolation, they performed a new song Indiana and Kwasi Asanti as I previously said joined them on a dubbier version of One Flesh and with them finishing off with Alternative TV’s Splitting in two, which was their usual storming ending to proceedings, only from memory alone I’m sure they came back and played one or two more songs after that. The intervening years means I can’t be sure and can’t remember which.

For those that were not there or just want to relive the gig itself it’s easy to find nowadays on Youtube (it’s edited down from what they played on the night btw due to some technical issues), it manages to capture some of the experience and passion of that night which isn’t bad considering few live videos get even that far. The sound isn’t brilliant on the video, mainly due I’m told by a music engineer, to Mark cranking up his massive bass amp up so little bass went through the P.A and therefore through the desk to the recording unit, which is a pity as a good sound would have made this the definitive record of these early reunion days. They played for over two hours from memory and came back for 3 or 4 encores, including carrying on when the house lights were dimmed. Nobody left. The atmosphere was outstanding and it is possibly my favourite gig ever, I certainly can’t think of a more emotional one. They have probably played better before and since but the long wait and the excitement of it all added to the passion they and the crowd exchanged means it will live forever in my memory and I’m pretty sure everyone else there on that very special night.

Gaz Top 2020

Dead Captain 'This Weird Holiday'

I have previously had the pleasure of listening to the Dead Captain’s music. I also have had the bonus of catching them on their debut live show at Holmfirth Picturedrome so I might have been forgiven for saying they were a little weird, in a really good way. They are the first band I’ve seen where the guitarist puts down his guitar to replace it by playing an app on a mobile phone! More of that kind of behavior please. I could have been tempted to be lazy & describe them as ‘off kilter’ but in truth they are totally switched on & engaged with the here & now. ‘This Weird Holiday’ is right to the heart of the matter, it’s here, it’s now, it’s what has been happening to all of us during the Covid apocalypse!

Musically I’d say think Neil Young if he’d taken some psychedelic narcotics & took up dancing with the Grateful Dead, for who this would be business as usual, instead of the doom laden downers his demeanor suggests. I’m saying that as a fan too! Vocally Dead Captain take the listener away from the aforementioned Americana & into the homeland of the deepest darkest North Western England. Always a great obtuse look at the world with this crew & ‘This Weird Holiday’ is no exception. We are living it right now & The Captain is holding up a mirror to it. Take a look, take a listen.

To use the bands own words: ‘This Weird Holiday’, is an ode to these odd times. A warped zeitgeist ballad that takes a wide-eyed peek at the madness from behind twitching curtains. Inspired by bad leadership, mixed messages, arguments about nothing and the joys of home-cooked food the song is three and a half minutes of kitchen sink psychedelia dressed casually in folk-rock pyjamas.’

Who am I to argue with that.

In a just world this song will be forever looped in documentaries about the 2019/20 pandemic, an on the ground news report from the moment.

Top tunes fellas, bring on the album, I’m off for a jog in the park.

Sammy D.

Free download on bandcamp for a limited period then a wider release through Forest Den Records from June 26 2020



I caught these guys playing a bangin’ live set last year, gigging in a brewery of all places, big respect for that fellas.

After hearing their last single ‘Warning’ I had high expectations for ‘The Town Where You Were Born’ but I wasn’t expecting a big fat slab of rocking reggae. These guys have been putting their own stamp on the Manc/Indie sound of the 90’s for a few years now & are fast gaining notoriety & momentum. YKO are taking Synth driven rock & mainlining it into your feet. Try & watch this lot live & keep your feet still.

As always with this Mancunian gang there are fat dance grooves & a fat ass’ bassline, soaring horns alongs with the top message of being proud of where you’re from. I’m not arguing with this crew about that burning issue.

The video was made during lockdown & features friends & fans shot at home sharing the lyrics spreading the word, challenging times inspiring ingenuity.

No release date for this single yet but the digital download & Cd release will be available in the near future. In the meantime check the vid.

Nice one lads.




Sammy D

Intial thoughts are what’s the point? A bunch of old demo’s from a band that doesn’t exist anymore. However there’s a bunch of tunes on this that never saw the light of day & are never likely to given the band is finished. There are some very raw versions of songs they never released but all have a vitality & some bangin’ hooks. I for one am never going to be sorry to hear Merchant’s voice, probably one of the best voices to come out of Manchester in the last 30 years.

Some of these songs were released as the ‘That Was Then, This is Now’ EP but there’s a bunch that have been criminally buried. Apparently these songs were demo’d by Merchant & bass player Collier before they put the band together. We’ve heard ‘Promised Land’ before but not with a Martin Luther King sample. The epic ‘Border’ is very raw with one mighty fat ass groove with Merchant spitting out the vitriol. I for one would be giving that guy some space! However there are lighter moments, moods that we never got to see with this band, ‘God Loves the Man’ is a gentle melodic, dare I say indie tune where merchant chats lightly. There is another version on the download, bonus track where he sings it. There’s also New Sound & Cry, sounds to me like there was a strategy metting at some point where the band buried their mellow side. Not so with the other bonus track, you have to go for the free download for this but I promise it’s worth it, there’s the full on powerhouse & highly potty mouthed ‘SupaJamm ‘SupaJamma’, why did this never get released? Afraid of what people might think guys? Definitely makes this listener want to kick in the bus shelter.

Anyhow, pointless in one sense but for any fans of the band, any fans of Merchant’s work with Audioweb or Saxon sound System there maybe a lost gem that you kind find & love. What this recording lacks in recording finesse is made up for in vitality & energy. Check it out it’s a free download on bandcamp.

Sammy D.




What a surprise! Bands come & go, some fragment and morph into other forms and carry on the crusade. Just when I thought Johnny Come Latelys had done all three, here they are with a return to the fold. History in brief: Johnny Come Latelys release two EP’s Messiah Complex (2016) and Judas Factor (2017). […]

via Johnny Come Latelys – Collateral Damage — Canned Static

Quote  —  Posted: May 31, 2020 in Uncategorized

Dead Captain hail from Tameside in the deep dark Northwest, that’s north of Watford for the Southerners who aren’t too sure of their geography. To loosely quote a famous Northern gentleman for my own ends, ‘we do thing differently up here’. Well Dead Captain do that’s for sure.

The legend, in their own words is as follows “All we have is a small cardboard box with a scribbled marker pen message, “we could have come through had we neglected the sick. Very little is known about Dead Captain. The box we found is scattered with notes, drawings and recordings. It was discovered outside a charity shop in Ashton Under Lyne. An attached note simply stated do something with this“. They did!

Dead Captain are currently a duo  featuring Dan Adams and Dunstan Carter, both who have featured in various notable music ensembles in the Manchester vicinity over the last couple of decades, The Cornelius Crane, Foilface & SupaJamma to name a few.

Vermillion follows on the heels of ‘Toddler Democracy & The Fear two outstanding tunes in their own right. It mixes a Manc’ take on American college rock mixed up with a healthy dose of prog, I’m particularly drawn in by the haunting theremin vibe, it also features the long lost sound of a Fender Rhodes piano which reminds this listener of the Hill Street Blues theme tune. Carter’s vocal is undoubtedly English so rather than call this a Mid-Atlantic vibe I’m going for somewhere off the coast of Lancashire in the Irish Sea heading off to the Atlantic.

According to the blurb, Dead Captain’s debut album will be out “sometime between the collapse of Brexit and the impeachment of Trump“. So, that’s either, never or sometime whenever!

So get your ears around it, it’s a free download a risk free aural delight.

And finally ….. Be careful out there.

Saint Steven.





More by Dead Captain


Mid to late 1990’s Manchester saw a rather desperate Manchester, still desperately riding on it’s former glory days of the late 80’s indie / dance scene. Sure Oasis had proved there was some success to be had by keep on mining that vein & produced some excellent shitty Manc attitude  along with a couple of fistfuls of excellent tunes.  If you didn’t play that game it was a city where you couldn’t get arrested. Despite the negativity of the city to anything that didn’t fit their magic formula there lurked in a few darkened basements  a rumble of pounding drums, driving bass & buzzfire guitars, a tiny hardcore straight-edge punk & metal scene & had developed & was rearing it’s wonderfully ugly head at venues such as the Star & Garter & PJ Bells / Republica.

DT Soup

At one such venue, the Garter a band was soundchecking & the engineer said to the bass player give me an E. Said bass player not knowing what string was E hit the fat string & history was born.  That history came in the form of Dog Toffee, named after a rather unsavoury character in a long forgotten wannabee Viz publication. 3 teenagers with a cool as fuck uncompromising style that didn’t fit with anything remotely relating to that period of Manchester history,  running on pure instinct & raw energy. The shows were raw, shambolic & frighteningly entertaining, it was difficult to see where the band ended & the audience began as large portions of the audience shared the stage with them. What was clear was this band didn’t give a fuck & loved every minute.

What was instantly obvious about Dog Toffee was they had tunes & I  mean raw pure of heart rock ‘n’ roll tunes. They sounded like the bastard offspring of Elvis & Lemmy, perish the thought those 2 fellas would have ever got it on but I hope you catch my ,meaning. For me they were the most exciting band I’d heard since I first heard SLF & the Pistols back in the late 70’s. Kerrang described them as a cross between Dwarves &  Misfits which I would say was pretty fair at that point.

Over the years the band were signed by Sony, did several deals with various independents & also signed to RCA Victor in Japan. They did 3 superb albums working with the likes of Pete Pee Wee Coleman & Nirvana/ Mudhoney / Soundgarden producer Jack Endino.

The bands live reputation was second to none & there wasn’t anyone in the UK who knew about the underground scene didn’t know about this band. They shared stages with the likes of the Wildhearts, Damned, New Bomb Turks, Dwarves, Misfits, Therapy?, Groovie Ghoulies, King Prawn & Anti Nowhere League to name a few.

The band took a short break in 2003 to actually try & make some money to pay a few bills, such was the near bankrupt life of a UK rock ‘n’ roll band on the road but they are now back with new material & a homecoming show at Manchester’s Soup Kitchen on Saturday July 21. It’s 20 years since I first saw this lot live, no angst ridden teenagers this time, older, meaner & no doubt wiser.  Be warned it will be loud, those amps go to 13 & they ain’t afraid to use them.

DT Pose

Saint Steven.

Dog Toffee on Facebook


Nice to see the return of Blackthorn Music Festival which is coming back to Whitebottom Farm – Etherow Country Park – Compstall – Stockport – SK6 5HZ. The festival goes from strength to strength with each year. Genre -wise there is always a heady mix of styles, rock, indie, acoustic, country to name a few. The line up is always a mix of familiar talent from past & present with a healthy dose of new blood. Chances are if you’re the type to go check out a band you’ve never heard of you may come away having found a musical new love!

Blackthorn Poster 2018

This years top of the bill line up is stronger than ever featuring local, well I should say International hero Peter Hook & the Light, hip hop legendary pioneers The Sugarhill Gang & the Furious 5, the anti-hero that is Pete Dohety, We are Scientists, Oldham’s Twisted Wheel, William McCarthy & The Bluetones. I’m also delighted to see that Tom Hingley & the Kar-Pets are also on the bill alongside various tributes to REM, Happy Mondays. Tom of course is being a tribute to himself!


The setting is beautiful, the beer is affordable, there’s always a great choice of quality food outlets, the mood is relaxed & the vibe has always been family friendly.  See you down the front!

Website –

Facebook –

Tickets –