Posts Tagged ‘Punk’

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


I’ve been aware of Northern Embezzler for some time but somehow missed them. Tonight has proven this to be my loss. The venue, Hoof & Rooster, on arrival seems to be a little unlikely for a rock show, a restaurant / barbeque joint, tables full of people gnawing down on various animal parts washed down with beer.

Northern Embezzler - Clitheroe

The band are setting up so I sit down with my family- Clitheroe Festival shows are all family friendly which is a massive bonus! Beer & nachos, that’s a new experience for me at a show. Not the beer, the nachos!  The band take to the stage, four 40 – something geezers that look like they know what they’re doing.  Well that impression isn’t deceiving, they immediately launch into a set of strong punchy mixture of punk, new wave & dub influenced  tunes.  There’s some solid points of reference for this kind of stuff, Clash the Ruts, Joe Jackson, Graham Parker to name a few  but saying that the band never actually sound like those bands, they have a solid vibe all of their own.

The audience are  on side within the first couple of tunes & stay there  for an 11 song set. Well that’s an albums worth right there. Arguably for a first hearing  the set was quite long but they still left me wanting to hear more which is testament to the quality of the tunes & how good the band are.

Cool band, great songs, rock solid performance, where can I buy the album?

Check the tunes here – Reverb Nation

Catch the band live at

Artisan Rawtenstall Lancashire – May 5 – Free Entry

Strummercamp Festival – May 27 – Manchester Rugby Club


Northern Embezzler set List

Future Has been Cover 2

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.


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.


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The good news is that Strummercamp is back after a year off in 2016. Now there was a year missing that special something.  As a festival regular myself I can’t recommend this event enough.  Friendly, family friendly, secure, small & perfectly formed.

Based at it’s regular at the Cheadle site of the Manchester Rugby Club. Fair priced food, fair priced beer, art stalls & great music. The theme, if there is one, it music influenced by the music of Joe Strummer & the Clash. The emphasis is on some of the punk & new wave acts of the 70’s period but Strummer influenced so many more which means the festival goer gets a great variety of music.

Strummercamp Poster 2017

Tickets from

And in person from Rockers on Oldham Street Manchester.

It’s Strummercamp time again. Some of my all time favourite festival moments have taken place at this magnificent festival which takes place every May bank Holiday weekend.

The music features band that have been influenced by the music of Joe Strummer & The Clash. Style – wise that means quite a variety rather than all punk which I find people often make the mistake of assuming.

What we wont have is any of the stomach turning candy floss pop vomit that our kids listen to in the charts. I guess it’s the duty of the youth to listen to music parents can’t stand (we did it). Crazy how style wise everything went in reverse to safe, insipid & generic. But I guess we did it all music-wise & there aren’t that many new places to go!

This is it’s 10th year so a pretty important milestone. I can’t recommend this festival enough (no I’m not on the payroll, in fact no-one is on the payroll because it’s a not for profit venture & any excess goes to charity). Great music, decent standard priced beer & great food at a fair price. Not forgetting top people.


Strummercamp Press Release-

Celebrating 10 years as an independent, not for profit small festival- Strummercamp takes place once again at Manchester Rugby Club, Cheadle Hulme this May bank Holiday weekend, 22-24….

With covered marquees,indoor club house bar open all weekend, indoor stage, acoustic tent, art-show tent, the weather can’t spoil the Strummercamp weekend!

With over 60 acts on 4 stages , this year welcomes the likes of The Men They Couldn’t Hang, Ruts DC, King Kurt, TV Smith, Goldblade, XSLF, The Urban Voodoo Machine, Louise Distras, The Roughneck Riot,The Wakes, Attila The Stockbroker, Electric River…

Also premiering the short play ‘Westway to the World’.. With stages from Manchester Independent punk/ska label TNS, Warringtons fantastic folk/punk promoters Spannered, Acoustic from Hempen Jig and aftershows from Punx Inna Jungle, guest dj’s playing ska, punk, reggae,rockabilly & rock n roll all weekend..

As ever there will be excellent home cooked food, pub priced beer, free parking, free camping, and the friendliest crowd you
could wish to meet..For tickets and info visit…also available ( with no booking fee) from Rockers on Oldham St Manchester

STRUMMERCAMP was set up as an idea to pay a fitting tribute to the inspirational late great Joe Strummer.. We
have been regularly nominated and shortlisted in the UK Festival awards for best small/roots festival…Completely independent and not for profit, run by volunteers- AND VERY PROUD OF IT, 10 YEARS DOWN

Strummercamp 10

Strummercamp 10

I think it must be 4 times I’ve seen Dub Sex this year & none of those shows were their Sound Control headliners I am sorry to say. 4 shows & I’m already waiting for the next one, Jan 31st at Dublin Castle London? Stranger things have a happened.

The show I’m here to talk about is the slot they played at Manchester Academy 2 as guests of Chameleons Vox. Dub Sex featuring original members Mark Hoyle, Cathy Brooks & Chris Bridgett along with Mark’s son Stefan & drummer Kevin Clark  delivered a blistering set of spikey, angst ridden, hungry sounding joy.

The bands presence, as always, is a set of discomforted individuals fusing together in a tight unit painting a hypnotically stark musical landscape which certainly takes me back to the pre-bomb Manchester of my youth. This is no bad thing, that’s the period that produced this city’s most inspiring music. The magical thing for me is that the songs still stand as proud & as fresh as when they first found my ears. They serves to wash away the years of corporate domination to a time of raw opportunity & new hope.

The band open up with the very apt ‘Then & Now’ followed swiftly by ‘The Underneath’ so by song 2 in the set I want to kick a bus shelter in (metaphorically of course).  The audience is rapidly swelling  as the band push through ‘Push’ & ‘Man on the Inside’ before delivering a knockout rendition of ‘Caved In’ & the notoriously difficult to please Chameleons audience are onside. They’d have to be deaf or daft not to be. Dub Sex then blast through, I’m Not afraid’, ‘North by North East’ & then a new one ‘Breathe in Deep’ which is already a firm favourite of mine after just one listen, this song puts a little more ‘dub’ into Dub Sex. I need a copy of that soon! Then we get a the wondefull sardonic ‘Time of Life’, I had to smile when they played this as the ‘mature’ (yes me included) audience warmed up a little more. ‘Swerve’ always a firm favourite wins the band many more cheers before they finish to a near full room with ‘Tripwire’ & they’re gone leaving a sonic void until next time.

For me it was a dual experience of being in the presence of a sound that suits perfectly how I feel today which is hungry for music with some edge & attitude whilst at the same time transporting me back to the anticipation & optimism of my 20’s when everything was still possible

Dub Sex - Set List 21 12 14A phenomenal set from a band fully on it’s game, they may have been in the guest spot but that was a set worthy of any headliner.  The good news I hear is the band are recording new material & if ‘Breathe In Deep’ is anything to go by this listener can’t wait.







So 2014, it’s another bank holiday weekend so that means Strummercamp. I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be this weekend. Strummercamp is, without doubt, the friendliest, coolest & most unpretentious festival I’ve ever attended. The key ingredient is the fact that it’s run by music fans & the emphasis is resoundingly ‘not for profit’. Like Glastonbury, the regulars here don’t particularly worry about who’s playing, it’s the festival that matters. Having said that the line-up is always well worth the entrance fee & contains enough variety for the most discerning listener (that is except the listener who wants radio-friendly candyfloss pop vomit, which is fine if you like that sort of corporate production line McMusic but then V Festival is probably more your style.)
The quality this year is no exception so I am here to share just a few of the aural & visual delights I witnessed.


Dub Sex – this band is a welcome return, a long lost Mancunian gem, post- punk made in the moment & re-delivered today & sounding as fresh & edgy as it did back in the day. The band line-up still contains original members Mark Hoyle on vocals, Cathy Brooks on bass & Chris Bridgett on guitar. The two new members are Mark’s son Stefan on guitar & Kev Clark on drums.

The bands opening salvo is ‘Caved In’, with Mark’s wonderfully individual & awkward vocals riding over the dub intro into the sonic assault of the chorus. The audience certainly know this band are here. We are then treated to a further 10 Dub Sex classics including ‘Underneath’, ‘Push’, ‘Over & Over’, plus the truly awesome ‘Instead of Flowers’. The band finish with what is probably their best known songs ‘Swerve’ & ‘Tripwire’. This is the third time I’ve seen them in the last few months & I will be coming back for more. Listen up youth of 2014, emulate this lot & you won’t go far wrong.

After wandering around sampling a pint or two of the Strummercamp festival ale in the clubhouse, at affordable prices I might add, we checked out the art tent. There are some wicked stuff on show & we bought a couple of pieces of Dr Freakinstyle’s wonderfully way out work to add to our growing collection, as well as having a great chat with their creator Victor. Also in the clubhouse was the TNS Records stage which, as ever, delivers some feisty punk rock mayhem. On the merch stall by the TNS stage I was accosted by a member of Black Volvo who was selling a his own band’s branded beer. I just ha to have the bottle with its 8.2 gravity dark ale & was assured the band were even better than the beer though I didn’t get to confirm that as I had unfortunately already missed them.


I caught a few tunes from The Rotten Hill Gang who served up a heady mix of funk-laden hip-hop melded with some reggae vibes. I should’ve taken a head count of this lot given how many band members were crammed on the stage.
Next up we were treated to a very diverse offering from Jah Wobble ranging from some cracking dub standards& a fabulous version of the Get Carter theme, in dub of course! It definitely had me hooked & perfectly painted the picture of the final scene of the film with Michael Caine on the beach.

Halfway through the set he was joined by Aziz Abrahim on guitar. I’d heard this was going to happen & was anticipating that something magical would develop & boy did they deliver the goods. The fusion of Wobble, his band & Aziz was stunning. Aziz went for it 100%, bringing in elements of his Asian Blues style & every conceivable guitar trick in the book, making it a visual as well as auditory treat. This was one of the finest virtuoso guitar performances I’ve seen in years & believe me I’ve seen a few. Anyone who regularly checks out Jah Wobble will know there’s always some new flavour to take on board & this was no exception. It was a truly magical point in the festival.

The final act of the night are the mighty Dreadzone. Here’s a band that have been on my Strummercamp wish list for years & they didn’t disappoint. I’ve seen this band around a dozen times over the last few years & they always blow me away. Put succinctly, they are the perfect festival band. Every album is better than the last & their current offering ‘Escapades’ is permanently on the CD in my car competing with the brilliant ‘Eye on the Horizon’ for airtime ‘. It’s the kind of record that should be all over the radio but, for whatever twisted set of criteria they use to choose to play music to the public, is not. The tunes from that album really shone through with a magical performance of ‘Fire in the Dark’ & ‘Too Late’. ‘Too Late’ features Leo & Greg’s old band mate Mick Jones who didn’t make an appearance, despite the rumours, which is his loss as he’s missing something very special at this festival dedicated to his mucker Joe. Dreadzone did, of course, play several of their crown pleasing favourites & had the crowd bouncing from start to finish. A crowd that, as ever with Strummercamp, was a mix of kids & teenagers through to 50 & 60 year olds. Really going for it next to me was a school headmistress & a bunch of 14 years olds. The vocal interplay between Spee & Earl 16 was as magical as ever and was a climatic end to another brilliant Saturday night at Strummercamp.