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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.

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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.

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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!

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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 – https://www.blackthornmusicfestival.co.uk

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/BlackthornMusicFestival

Tickets – https://www.blackthornmusicfestival.co.uk/tickets

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In the midst of the Manchester Oasis and dance craze Manchester produced a 3 piece band that really didn’t fit into the city’s formula.  Mixing up classic punk rock with some good old rock ‘n’ roll. This adrenaline fueled combo were  more than happy to sit outside the city stereotype &  take the hard road.

The band played the Mancunian circuit, Boardwalk, Star & Garter, PJ Bells & Hacienda. As a result of their incendiary live shows the band were spotted by a local management team who put them in the studio. The recording sessions took place between Christmas & New Year 1996 / 97 under the guidance of producer / engineer John Pennington. The songs the band recorded were going to be their first release, the EP ‘The Future Has Been’.  This release has never seen the light of day until now because the band were very quickly signed by Muff Winwood to Sony S2.  This was an ill-fated venture as Sony had ideas about re-inventing the band & turning them into a latter day Stooges with a brand new frontman. The band declined & left the label.

The following years are stuff of punk rock legend, cramped vans, weeks on the road, trying to reach every small venue in the country & across into mainland Europe. They were the support band of choice for the likes of the Damned, Therapy? The Wildhearts, Dwarves, New Bomb Turks, Turbonegro, Misfits & Dee Dee Ramone to name a few. They graced the pages of all the rock monthlies, John Peel got behind them & they did deals with several labels. RCA / Victor ( Japan) Junk records (USA), Radioblast (Germany), State of Decay / Subversive (UK) & signed a publishing deal with George Martin Music.

Dogs-96

The band released 3 albums in the period 1996 – 2006 ‘The Future of Rock ‘n’ Roll is in Your Hand’, ‘Sacred Heart’ with legendary grunge producer Jack Endino (Nirvana, Mudhoney, Soundgarden, Supersuckers).  ‘One More Sinner’ with producer / engineer Pete ‘PeeWee’ Coleman. (James, AC/DC, Wildhearts, Paradise Lost, Christians). They also did various EP’s working with ‘Roger Tebbutt (Silver Ginger 5, Demented are Go, Jason Ringenberg). The band received great critical reviews for both their recorded & live work.

During the bands career they worked with three different drummers. First drummer was Ged Roache, they then worked with Memby Jago (Ghost of a Thousand / Macabees / Frank Carter & the Rattlesnakes) & finally long serving drummer Phil Nelson who still holds the drum stool today.

Just over 20 years on from the original recording sessions the band feel the time is right to release their debut EP ‘The Future Has Been’ to the World. This will be available on Stereokill Recordings through most digital outlets from April 24 2017. This is the first release of the majority of the bands back catalogue.

The EP features 5 tracks of stripped down, take no prisoners rock ‘n’ roll. Unashamedly drawing on 1950’s rock ‘n’ roll but with a sharp injection of adrenaline. Taught rapid-fire drumming, buzz saw guitars, pounding bass & spitfire vocals … punk as f@&~. The band probably missed a trick not releasing this back in 1997 but 1997’s loss is 2017’s gain.  Hit replay & let’s go kick in some bus shelters!

The EP is released by Stereokill Recordings on Monday May 24 2017.

The band are back in rehearsal with some live dates expected later this year.

www.dogtoffee.rocks

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New 4 track EP from SupaJamma bassman. Mixing Mancunian indie with dub reggae & post punk. Tracks include The Truth Behind the Lies, Mercy, Saved the Day & Hammer & Nail.

The EP is currently available as a free download ahead of the full album which will be available in November 2016 when it will be released through Stereokill Recordings.

Get free EP at Bandcamp here

 

 

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Johnny Come Latelys – ‘Messiah Complex Part 1’ (ep)

 

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It’s been a while since I’ve said anything about Tameside’s (East Greater Manchester) The Cornelius Crane.They’ve had three excellent EP’s so this is the long anticipated full length album ‘The Difference’.
Cornelius Difference

The Cornelius Crane – The Difference (album)

The band are fronted by Steve Wilson, or as he is now known Stephen Wilson jnr.  Rumour has it he has a solo album in the pipeline so we’ll be looking forwards to hearing that too. Wilson has fronted several bands in his long underground career, bands such as Wilson who picked up a deal with Fiction, gracing the airwaves of Radio 1 with an hallowed Peel Session. Other bands include, Smile Like Fools, Bong & Plastic Gun Alliance  along with many more.
Wilson’s talents also extend to producing recordings for many other artists & he has produced this album. It has that feel that you are sat in the room with the band which gives the album an added dimension of inclusiveness for the listener.
The band is also graced by the musical brilliance of the Adams brothers Dan & Mark, bass & drums (plus a complete array of other instruments, far too long to list) along with their incredible backing vocals. I think there may be something in the theory that chemistry of family members instinctively sparking off one another. John Roberts also adds his voice to the vocal mix along with the all important pedal steel guitar. In fact the whole band are multi talented musicians, the line up on this recording completed by another long serving Tameside musician Paul Higham.
The Cornelius Crane  by Elspeth
There are a few familiar tunes for the people already in the know, including the fabulous ‘Soul in the Lightning’, “Needle & the Gun”, “They Sail Like They Never Heard a Song”
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The album draws the listener in gently with opener ‘Northern Moon (part one), 1.59 minutes of acoustic guitar & harmony vocal.
Track 2 is the aforementioned ‘Soul in the Lightening’, probably the most instantly appealing song on the album, though there are a few contenders. It opens with a  laid back beat & guitar melody & is graced by Wilson’s instantly recognisable vocals,  ‘Hedonlea’ follows, opening with the sound of traffic before easing you into a surprise laden track of ever evolving guitar laden melody & harmony. One of the bands darker songs. ‘They Sail Like They Never Heard a Song’ is different again, sure we’ve got the great musical arrangement & vocals but when you just think you’ve got a handle on these boys the direction is altogether off in a different direction. I must add that it’s in a good way, a avery good way. It’s unmistakably The Cornelius Crane but in a rockier mode. Again with this song they take the listener on an unpredictable journey which makes perfect sense once you’ve reached the songs destination. There are once again some fabulous harmonies on this one, enhanced with the addition of Lucy Whitehead.
‘Stay Dry’ introduces us to the vocal abilities of John Roberts, performing this self penned understated song. More beautiful vocal harmonies, the kind that give Crosby Stills & Nash a run for their money. Something that keeps on happening on this album. It’s perfectly placed in the running order & keeps you guessing on what’s coming next. As for what’s next, ‘Rooster’. Following the disarming sound of birds tweeting away …. in the woods, well that’s where it took this listener anyway, the band bring something that takes me back to the early late 1960’s 1970’s vibe of some of the US ‘summer of love bands’, these bands did of course last more than that summer but hopefully you’ll get where I’m coming from. It’s another song of several parts & kicks up a storm live. You really will have to hear this album to grasp the full gravity of it’s depth & breadth. The album has some very gentle moments, ‘Josie’ being one such tune, faultless in it’s harmonies & sweet understated instrumental arrangement. Then follows ‘The Needle & the Gun’ another particular favourite of mine, instant appeal from the opening notes. Then there’s the Hammond organ, did I mention the Hammond? It’s placed around this album in several places & sounds like an old friend so open that glass of wine, whisky or moonshine, yes it’s probably moonshine to accompany this album, & kickback for a while. ‘Felt Top Heroes’ this song has the summary honour of being the only song I can think of that refers to underpants. Great title & ends with a tease, I want to hear more of where that was going fellas. ‘Sleeping Dogs’, insanely absorbing chorus on this tune, a seemingly lazy banjo, I’m sure it’s not. Another song that takes you places “And the world never cared for her, time took the cruelest turn”,  a little more dark subject matter then they grab you by the throat & take you down with the help of Leonora Johnson’s sinister string arrangement. I wasn’t expecting it & there it was dragging me along on a wonderful journey of melancholy reflection.  Another album highlight, one of many. ‘Now ‘The Difference’, the song that the album takes it;’s title from (I know, talk about me stating the obvious)  is an instrumental. Think Joe Meek & you’ll be close, it’s been a while since I heard a reed organ but like everything else on this album, it makes perfect sense & sits comfortably as track 11. Music publishers pay attention, could add something different to a film makers soundtack. The album closes with ‘Northern Moon (part two)’. “we’re all just strangers passing by”, “rain round here is sometimes tears, you may live out all your fear, don’t despair you’re not alone”. Wilson’s last word with his sobering & thoughtful lyrics.
 So, The Cornelius Crane’s first album,  to this listener, sounds like a band that has had a decade or more together, at their peak & delivering their 5th album. It’s mature, dark in places, unpredictable the makes perfect sense after first listen & with many moments of pure joy. The production is spot on, the songwriting is soulful, reflective, grown up & often infectious. For the lazy references to the, as yet, uninitiated listener I will have to name the likes of Crosby Stills & Nash, Neil Young, The Black Crowes, that whole Buffalo Springfield thing but there is an unmistakable British-ness to them, well they are English & this makes them all the more accessible to my English ears so also think Beatles, Hollies .. there’s that Nash connection again.
As an aside, In preparation for writing this I have been listening to the album in my car over the last few weeks, I do all my best listening there, so my daughter has heard it a few times. One one particular day I was listening to The Rolling StonesMade in the Shade’, particular song that was playing was ‘Wild Horses’, my daughter asked me if it was ‘The Cornelius Crane’. So in my list of comparable artists I will also cite 1970’s Rolling Stones! I have no argument there.
SJC.
Buy the album on – i.tunes
Buy album on  – Amazon
Band website – The Cornleius Crane
Previous releases can be found on Ruby Music & Stereokill Recordings.

The Red-sided Garter Snakes – Endless Sea
The first album release from two ex-members of one of Manchester’s greatest cult status bands, The Chameleons (John Lever and Dave Fielding) in collaboration with, among many others, James Mudriczki with his first public vocal exposure since the demise of his own legendary North Manchester outfit Puressence is going to cause a ripple or two that will spread out far and wide across the world. As it’s been 14 years since a proper Chameleons release and now already 4 years since Puressence’s excellent finale, Solid State Recital and with both former bands having massive following across Europe and in the case of the Chameleons deep into the USA, this is possibly one of “the “ most anticipated albums of the year by people in the know with great taste in proper non manufactured music.

Endless insert
The fact the album itself was recorded over a year in two Manchester studios is only half the story as the original idea was to update some of the Beefpig album that John Lever brought out with the Fishmonkeyman guys (led by Paul Denheyer) from Liverpool back in 1999, Beef up Beefpig was I think the idea, well they certainly have done that and then some. Steve, Dave John 120
The re-recording/recording started at the very talented Stephen Wilson’s ( The Cornelius Crane) Canalside studios in Dunkinfield in Apr of 2014 , With the idea of Stephen leading Production along with Dave and John’s input. Steve was so up for giving his old band mate John a lift he offered his time and studio for free to help the project come to fruition. The only problem with this set up,which no-one fully foresaw, was that the recording schedule would be sporadic at best with all sessions having to fit around a busy recording studio and practice rooms and an even busier Steve Wilson along with the ability of Dave Fielding getting across from Lincoln. John obviously was very keen to get at it and wanted the album done in a week, out yesterday, and as the summer dragged on I think both great friends started to send the other slightly crazy. In fact I know they did.

So after a couple of stop starts when John and Steve struggled to actually work constructively together anymore, Dave stepped in to broker some love and peace and get the project back on the road. Sadly this didn’t last for long as time and work pressures  took their toll. Canalside sessions June 27 14 - JohnSteve had done some sterling work writing and recording some new tunes for the album and his true production  skills came to the fore when he got Mary Joanna Coogan in to voice Feel Alive and managed to get a brilliant recording out of her. In the end though after a meeting in the studio where we all listened to all the tracks to see where we were with them Steve decided he probably shouldn’t be the one to mix the album as friction between him and John and James Mudriczki (who I managed to get involved after playing him some of the early recordings) was bubbling up again. What we didn’t know that day was Steve was waiting on some serious health issue results and he obviously had far bigger things on his mind than an enthusiastic bunch of musicians all trying to get their passionate views into the final recording .
So the whole thing got moved to John Delfs Edge Studio in Alderley Edge. By this time Simon Lawler from Blue Apple Music (the old Chameleons manager and financier) had got on board and he helped to secure some block time at said studio.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAThings progressed quickly, Greg Mathews from local band Bauer came along and sang on three more of the tracks and all the final touches and mixing were finished off with the help of the talented young Studio Engineer Mark Winterburn. So the final result is probably pretty different from what would have emerged if the process had stayed with Steve and in his studio. It’s impossible to say which would have sounded best or how different they would have been. That would be an individual’s opinion if they ever had the chance to listen to the two versions. They won’t. But what I can say is, in my opinion, the difference would only have been in the final layer of polish on this album. The structures, tunes and essence of the album has not been lost in the swap over and everyone can be immensely proud of this work of art.

Endless Sea by The Red Sided Grater SnakesEndless Sea starts off with a very powerful intro, a wailing almost Native American chant that is actually Dave Fielding recorded on the night his mother died some years ago. Obviously a heavy start to proceedings and as the sample from

The Wicker Man fades, Steve Wilson’s Shape Yer Spine opens up into a psychedelic monster fueled with Dave’s E-bow, power chords and plectrum sliding antics. All driven along by John’s snare and floor tom pounding out the beat. Steve Wilson’s eerie reverberated vocals pulls it all together and we know within seconds that this is going to be a very special journey.
Crack In A Paper Cup, which before James added his magical vocals was actually called Endless sea where the album title came from, has Dave sounding as Chameleons like as at any other point in the album. Add in Jimmy’s voice and suddenly the many joint Chameleons and Puressence fans out there are suddenly wetting their pants in excitement. A North Manchester super group of epic proportions. It doesn’t disappoint. James’ voice soars whilst Dave’s guitar echoes and chimes away as if Reg Smithies was in the room with him as well. In the breakdown James ponders about smoking cigarettes and the five minute of your life each one is meant to take away from you and then follows up this deep train of thought with, Oh! well, floor needs sweeping, Jimmy at his humorous best.
Feel Alive opens up with some crazy Arabic sounding horns and Didgeridoo and evolves into more sublime Chameleonesque guitar work from Dave and some great production and arrangement from Steve and John. It stood brilliantly as an instrumental before Mary Joanna Coogan was brought into the studio and Steve worked really hard with her to get one of “the” performances of the album out of her. Without doubt the most radio friendly track on the album and should be a worldwide massive hit if justice in this industry were ever to prevail. The jaunty bassline drives this song along with some tempered (for John) drumming keeping the main focus on the guitars and gorgeous vocals.

Love Yourself, a song written by John and Paul Denheyer on the original Beefpig album in ’99 is about people in the music business who manage to change with the times (David Bowie?) Killing off old persona’s,ego’s and changing styles without worrying about who they tread on in the process, something John says he has witnessed a few times in the business. Dave was brought in to add his unique style of guitar and the whole song was beefed up to match the sound of this project and the result is massive. Another masterpiece and we are not even half way through the album.
Found Again is Simon Collier’s (bass for SupaJamma) contribution to the album and finds our first chance to listen to Greg Mathews vocal talents, I have to be totally honest here, I’m not a big Bauer fan. Their soft and gentle brand of indie pop/rock Isn’t my personal cup of tea despite its tuneful songs. That said, given the massive sound of this band Greg’s voice starts to work wonders and he has made these tracks his own. “Discovery is recovery” the lyrics fit in brilliantly with the overall context of this album, a great introduction for the people who have not heard him before.
Gallipoli. “Theres something a wrong with me” Starts James Mudriczki in his second vocal outing “I’m finding it hard to breathe” Maybe the pondering about cigarettes in Paper Cup wasn’t for long enough? Another massive track with Jame’s powerful vocals doing battle against John’s huge drum sound as he beats the toms and snare half to death again. The distorted guitar work by Dave in this song is more reminiscent of early Puressence than anything ever done by the Chameleons and has been pushed up in the mix to add that extra bit of excitement to a song already bursting at the seams with energy.
Go Away. The Quirky one, the one that sound more like early Pink Floyd as opposed to some bits of the rest of the album which does have some post Barrett Floyd moments, based around a Kizilok Track written by Andy Clegg and his brother, its another transformed track that John’s imagination and Dave and Steve worked into a oddball beast of a song rounded off by another fantastic vocal performance by Greg backed up by Andy Clegg himself, thumbs up.
John’s Dream. Possibly my favourite track on the album. The basics written by Steve Wilson specifically for this Album as a gift to John and based around a simple but beautiful riff he made up whilst having a play on Dave’s Baritone guitar in the studio. The warmth and feeling of love flows from this instrumental and when Dave added his guitar into the mix its full of emotion. Johns drums drive it ever onward and it reminds me every time I hear it of sun sets on warm sunny foreign holidays with close friends, sipping drinks and eating BBQ food together. I love going to this place in my mind and love this song for sending me there.
Pistols at Dawn. Based around the original Beefpig track from the Beefpig album this is another magical transformation only keeping some basic elements from the 1999 version, including a sample of Dave’s guitar from The Chameleons Paper Tigers , Steve, Dave and John ripped it a new asshole. With its muffled low-fi intro and Johns explosive snare work the bass kicks in shortly after Greg starts his third and possible best venture in rounding off this album with words and harmonies. Then Dave’s E-bow cuts through it all whilst the Paper tiger sample reminds us of past glories . It breaks down only to blast off again with an early Edge like echo filled riff that seems to get lost in Greg’s fantastic finale …
Trancer. The basics of which were recorded by Dave some years ago when he had his CDF didgeridoo player, Paul Didge, available to add to his initial idea of this track, The low end didge and synths are brilliant and Dave’s playing style on guitar is so unlike Dave its actually surprising to hear its him. John sat down and played his floor tom with his bare hands to beef it up that bit more and I was passed the final version and asked to add some film samples. I played about with adding samples from Blade Runner and a couple of other ideas but when I added samples from Apocalypse now I knew I’d got it spot on. After playing them all to Dave we trimmed the Apocalypse Now sample down in the studio and the ending line by Dennis Hopper hopefully works just right…

Gaz Tops

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