London’s Lost Venues-Book Review

” When I first went to the 12 bar club I thought what the hell? Why do people come here? It didn’t take long for me to realise that a venue is as much about the people as the place itself. I played there a few times 2004 was the first I think as a SPIZZOIL reunion show. For me it soon became like a teenage youth club for musicians who had played somewhere else & the club was a great post gig hang out. I got to DJ a few nights there too but again I come back to the clientele who frequented the place. I also played a mini street festival to support the Save Denmark St. Campaign. My final memory was the last week of the club it also coincided with my birthday & was a sensational evening & cycling home I wrote a Xmas song that I hope to release this year. “

–Spizz July 2020–

From the infamous 12 Bar Club in the heart of London’s West End music district Denmark Street to the punky Zigzag Club in Westbourne Park, London W9 this fascinating and very informative book covers a whole host of long lost music venues which have sadly closed down over the years.  Some of the UK’s greatest bands like the Rolling Stones actually started their long and illustrious careers in popular venues such as The Eel Pie Island Hotel in 1963 where they played over 20 shows! 

The near legendary London venue The Marquee Club also gets a few mentions in its various incarnations, though one sleight caveat is that the book fails to mention that the band Athletico Spizz 80 became the only group to sell out the Marquee Club, 90 Wardour Street for five consecutive nights (with a sixth alcohol free kids matinee show) in August 1980 and a live performance of “ Where’s Captain Kirk?” was featured in the live music feature film “Urgh! A Music War”.

It’s also really nice to see some of Croydon’s more popular music venues getting a mention too such as The Greyhound, The Red Deer, The Cartoon and last but not least The Star Hotel in Broad Green who had an an amazing line up of bands/artists playing over the years such as The Animals, Julie Driscoll, Jimmy Hendrix, Captain Beefheart, Fleetwood Mack, David Bowie, Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep and later in the early 1980s iconic punk rock bands such as The Damned, Splodgnessabounds, Johnny Moped and The Straps, surely this historic venue should have a blue plaque outside to commemorate all the famous bands/solo artists who played there?

The books author Paul Talling describes each venue with a brief potted history along with a list of some of the now famous and not so famous bands and solo artists who have played there over the years. Colour photographs have been taken to show what each venue/location looks like today which is usually very sad, for example the lovely old spacious Victorian era public house The Red Deer in South Croydon is now just another faceless branch of the supermarket chain Morrison’s.

If you were ever an avid London gig goer in the sixties/seventies/eighties then this is the book you have been waiting for.

Very highly recommended by this reviewer.

Mark Williams July 2020

VHS Forever? Once Upon A Time in Camden Review by Darrell Buxton

“There was a sort of romanticism to the whole Psychotronic philosophy. It was sort of like a club, in a way” – Mark Piper.

Isn’t it funny how your mind plays tricks sometimes? I only visited Bal Croce’s notorious den of video iniquity, the Psychotronic Store, once, and my fever-addled and completely false memory of the place was that it was a rickety old brick building, openly isolated in the middle of a pile of rubble like the ones you see in all those movies set in bomb-blasted post war Britain, with kids playing among the debris. Of course it was nothing like that, but somehow my own psychotronically frazzled brain has conjured up this magical vision of a fake shop in a fake area of London, the only truths being that the place was a) utterly forbidding and menacing to yokels from up north, and b) a cavern of delights. I was already writing for ‘Samhain’ at the time, the king of the provincial fanzines, and was a keen collector of the mag’s rivals such as ‘Shock Xpress’, ‘In The Flesh’ and all of the rest – if you’re reading this you’ll be the sort of person who can reel off a huge list of UK zine titles, you may even still have a massive crateful of the publications in your attic, and you too might well have contributed to them. So I was particularly thrilled, while browsing the Psychotronic shelves, to find a complete set of every issue of Ian Caunce’s ‘Absurd’ in stock! I grabbed the haul and made my way to the counter – again, clueless me had no idea who was serving that day, Bal, Mike Delanian, or a mate covering while they went to the pub, and I couldn’t tell you how I found myself in Camden for an afternoon back then and have no recall of Buck Street or a gloomy basement or any of the other stuff that the interviewees in VHS 2 reel off with confidence and aplomb. But I got my ‘Absurds’, I read them on the train back to the East Midlands, I still have them and still occasionally peruse their pages today.

How grateful I am, then, for Mark Williams’ desire to deliver a sequel to his wild VHS FOREVER? PSYCHOTRONIC PEOPLE documentary from 2014. One or two of the talking heads first time round couldn’t resist a few yarns about Psychotronic in among all the talk of video rentals, nasties and the like, and it’s this aspect that Mark has picked up to develop for VHS 2. Now the world doesn’t revolve around London, and certainly doesn’t revolve around Camden (statements which may come as a shock to locals!), so initially it may seem that the approach for this new project might be a little insular and cliquey. However, it all kicks off with a lengthy interview with David Gregory (a fellow East Midlander – from Nottingham, the wrong bit of the region!), who, like myself, used to travel down to London circa 1990, heading for those haunts where he knew he might discover hidden treasures, and lugging his carrier bag of illicit purchases back home on the late train. Now, if I’ve progressed to make a minor name for myself on the cult film scene, as a critic, celebrity interviewer, book editor, and movie scriptwriter, then that all pales in comparison to Mr Gregory’s subsequent achievements, which have resulted in him living the Californian high life and running the awesome Severin Blu-ray label, with all of its gruesome releases, accompanied by enamel badges and other weird freebies (I bounce my HORROR OF PARTY BEACH inflatable ball on a regular basis and wear my Joe D’Amato pin with pride! You don’t want to know what antics I get up to with my Luigi Montefiori plush toy…). It’s lovely that Mark opens VHS 2 with a chat from David, since it lessens the Camden-centric aspect immediately and also celebrates the eventual enormous success of a fellow cult movie scenester, both of which help to make the film accessible and meaningful to a national audience.
VHS 2 offers further stories about how Psychotronic punters found their way to the shop, tentatively taking those first careful steps down into the abyss, furtively glancing around the shelves, hoping that they weren’t mistaken for an undercover cop, or worse still, a nerd, and – for those truly in the know – desperate for someone behind the counter to acknowledge them and grant them ‘open sesame’ privileged access to the emporium’s renowned ‘back room’, where lay all of those movies that you’d read and drooled about but had given up all hope of ever seeing.

Other highlights here include some fab archive footage of Herschell Gordon Lewis on stage at the Scala Cinema, much discussion about the tremendous swamp-rock band Gallon Drunk and their entwined association with Psychotronic and the entire Camden scene, Jane Giles dispensing yet more insider knowledge and wisdom about The Scala, details of how Psychotronic got the work of Ray Dennis Steckler released on UK video (again, I snapped up the tapes at the time and still have them), Graham Humphreys discussing The Sting-Rays and The Cramps and commenting how impressed he was with Bal’s famously unwashed quiff (and if spiky-topped Graham admires your barnet, you know you’re doing something right!), Bal’s attempts to replicate the gimmicks of William Castle, the intimidating teddy bear Lino Raffa and his penchant for chocolates and French Fancies, etc, etc.


Another winner here from Mark, then – and the various related topics brought to the table by his effervescent, enthusiastic interviewees indicate there’s much more to be mined from this vein. I for one would love to see Mr Williams tackle an all-out documentary of the Scala – or how about an in-depth study of the British fanzine scene? Loads to tell on both counts, and the makers of the VHS films are just the right people to eke out yet more anecdotes and controversies from their on-camera contributors.

vhsforever2 #psychotronic #vhs

BEYOND FURY-REVIEWED

“ REVENGE ON AN EPIC SCALE… “

Beyond Fury is the final part of a trilogy of films that started over 25 years ago with the innovative shot on video feature film ‘ Sudden Fury ‘ which was actually filmed when Southampton based filmmaker Darren Ward was only 22 years old. A second film was made in 2010 called ‘ A Day of Violence’ which concentrated on a character called Mitchell Parker played by actor Nick Rendell. The film was very well received and played several film festivals, Italian actor Giovanni Lombardo Radice AKA John Morgen who starred in quite a few of the more notorious Italian banned video nasty films such as ‘ Cannibal Ferox, House on the Edge of the Park & Cannibal Apocalypse’ was cast as the main villain called Hopper. 

I’m delighted to say Giovanni Lombardo Radice returns in ‘ Beyond Fury’ playing another even more sadistic villain, a Russian called Ivan Lenzivitich (his surname is a tribute to the late Italian director Umberto Lenzi who directed Cannibal Ferox & The Man from Deep River AKA Deep River Savages). His personalized number plate on his Porsche is actually LENZI 01 and Nick Rendell (now billed as Nick Roberts) also returns playing the main character Michael Walker from the first film ‘ Sudden Fury’ he also played the lead character Mitchell in ‘ A Day of Violence’.

This time around Walker gets involved with a sadistic gang of criminals led by Spider Lenzivitch (Gary Baxter) the son of Ivan Lenzivitch, who brutally attack and kidnap him and his pregnant girlfriend Claudia (very well played by actress Dani Thompson) killing her and his unborn child and leaving him for dead.  Walker discharges himself from hospital and goes on a bloody and violent murder spree, hunting the gang down one by one along with bringing down the nefarious crime empire of Ivan Lenzivitich.

As the above plot suggests the film is fast and furious and it pulls no punches either in its depiction of violence by both the gang and Walker himself – so any potential casual viewers be warned! In fact you could say that this film makes Quentin Tarantino’s ‘ Reservoir Dogs’ look like a Sunday school picnic.

The supporting cast is all on top form too including Gary Baxter, Jeff Stewart (from ‘The Bill TV series’, Chris St.Omer,Dan Van Husen, Tina Barnes. Joanna Finata, Glenn Salvage, Tony Mardon, Anthony Straeger, Dean Price and Victor L Thorn.

The crisp cinematography by John Raggett who also photographed  ‘ A Day of Violence’ is excellent too, and showcases the locations around the Southampton and Petersfield areas well. I would also like to mention the great work of the Special Effects guys Beau Townshend and Alastair Vardy who provide a plethora of realistic and gruesome effects throughout the entire film, along with the use of old school style squibs to simulate bloody bullet hits, no fake looking CGI effects here!

If you want to see a great home grown exploitation film very much in the style of the much missed by this reviewer 1980s Canon Films and with more than a dash of Death Wish 2 thrown in, then this is the film for you.

Split Second 1992

This one wasn’t half as bad as I remembered it due to a tongue in cheek performance by the late Rutger Hauer but it’s still a stinker!

A troubled production with only 8 weeks of actual filming in London (only 3 weeks of pre-production) at the long gone Hartley’s Jam factory by Tower Bridge,the film effectively portrays a futuristic water logged London over run by Rats.

Can you believe the original music score by the legendary composer Wendy Carlos (A Clockwork Orange ) was rejected by the producers and replaced by a bland synth score!!

The early nineties nightclub scenes horribly date the film and you can even spot the word ACID scrawled onto a wall outside the nightclub.

Singer/actor Ian Dury is great as the dodgy nightclub owner with an every present Rottweiler dog by his side.

Kim Cattrall’s love interest part is totally underwritten and she seems to be there just to provide some gratuitous nudity in a shower scene.

Watch out for blink and you miss them cameo’s by Ray Winston and wannabe pop singer singer Tasty Tim billed as a Transvestite in the end credits.

The ending seems horribly tagged on to please the action crowd at the time and was infact filmed by another English director Ian Sharp ( Who Dares Wins )

As the original director Tony Maylem ( The Burning ) had to leave the production early due to stress.

This R rated versions appears a lot more gorier than the cut version we had in the UK on VHS.

A most watchable 92 mins of nonsense indeed!!

Interview with Martin Parrott AKA Marty Love

Martin is currently one of the busiest drummers on the UK gig circuit and plays with Johnny Moped and The Weird Things.

Here’s a few questions we asked him at the end of last year.

SIU – How was the cult Croydon band Caseformed?

Martin – The band was originally formed with Rob, Matthew and Mark.   They were a 3 piece whenSlimy Toad, AKA Simon Fitzgerald, bumped into them at a party and said you should form a band. I went to school with Rob and have known him since he was 11. I got him into listening to the Ramones at the time. I was getting on the train one morning when I was 16/17 when I bumped into Rob and had a chat.  He said he was trying to form a band and needed a drummer.   I said I drum, he said I didn’t know you drummed. So I had a rehearsal with him in a local scout hut and it went from there.  We did our first gig at West Wickham hall, I think. It went well and we had a bunch of songs so we booked up a studio. The studio we used the Damned had also used to record Demos.  It was called RMS studios in Crystal Palace. 

We worked with the engineer Andy who did a lot of work on the Art of SurfacingLP for the Boomtown Rats and stuff like that. So we ended up in there in 1980 and Slimy Toad came along to produce it. 

We did the 4-track demo and got lucky enough to get gigs like the Star in Croydon.  

We supported Max Splodge and his band there and we started getting gigs around the circuit. Then I left the band as I was told to pursue my apprenticeship by my parents, which was fine, so I left Case and they went on from strength to strength.  They eventually faded away in 1983 but I was always in touch with Rob. We tried to bring the band back in 1985 and we went into the studio to record some more songs. These tracks ended up on the ‘Ain’t Gonna Dancealbum, which were all demos apart from 1 live track. It was not really recorded for public consumption, but there was a demand for it. 

We got fed up with our poor quality demos appearing on Oi albums.  People wanted to listen our music so fans were putting tracks up on you tube and getting 40k hits.  People wanted to be able to get their hands on more Case tracks so Damaged Goods Records took it on and its still going. Of course it has a resurgence every now and again of sales as people see us in the Mopeds and look for other stuff we have done. 

SIU – How would describe the music you did with Case?

Martin – Its actually really hard because we have done so many different types, we have been called an Oi band, a Punk band and a SKA band. Do I see us as any of those? Yes, there are elements of that. To me I always thought the closest thing to us where The Ruts. There is a lot of energy in the band, like The Ruts first LP we are just a guitar based energy band. Live  I don’t want to sound big headed but not much could touch us when we were flying. We were a hard power unit we were like marmite you love us or you don’t. We just couldn’t get that live sound in the studio, like many otherscan’t. 

SIU – Do you think you will ever get back together? 

Martin – We did reform back in 2011 when the album came out. It was really hard work as the singers heart wasn’t in it I’m afraid. It’s a shame he just doesn’t want to do it.   We were lined up to do another album, a proper album, and we as Case never did a proper album. We only really did two singles. I really wanted this band to produce a proper piece of work. But alas it never happened but never say never. 

SIU – I went to see you supporting The Damned in Oxford a few days back. 

Martin – The tour with The Damned was fantastic I am in total awe of them. They are professional and brilliant. The boys have been doing it forever Dave Vainan and Captain Sensible’s enthusiasm is great. 

To think they have been doing it for so long and still get up and sing New Rose and Neat Neat Neat with purpose. They are still doing it and it’s still brilliant and the fans still love it. I take my hat of to them. 

 

SIU – Were you involved with the band Wheat from the chaff?

Martin – No they had someone else for that they wanted me back in the band around then but theyhad been through so many managers. They asked me back but the management would not have it. There is a lot of history with Case; we could sit here for days. The rights and wrongs of it, they even threw Rob out of his own band. What the fuck was that all about. They also threw out the drummer and sax player and the management just wanted to form the band around Matthew. 

He was a fantastic singer and you cannot replace him but Rob wrote the songs. They auditioned for a year to get a new guitarist could not find anyone so they had to get Rob back. When Rob got back he wanted me back in the band but they just would not allow it. Every line up they had was a great one; they did not have one bad line up. The single Wheat from the Chaff sounded weak nothing like the Kid Jensen sessions. Still a great record but it could have been a fantastic record. That’s why I was determined to do a new Case ep for Rob’s sake as well. And getting rid of the Rob from Case is like chucking Pete Townsend out of the Who. 

SIU – The first time you played the Star Pub in Croydon was it exciting? 

Martin – Yeah it was exciting, with Case there was no image or agenda just 4 young boys 16/17 years old rolling up on the bus and playing our songs. You know like here’s the gig even though we were not old enough to be in the place and as you remember the nights in the Star there used to be like 4 bands on a night. It was great as well you know because we did not have an image. 

Matthew would turn up in Farah trousers and a cardigan. There was just no image with us, we gave our all and that’s what it was with Case. The songs were good but we gave everything. Matthew would be bleeding I would have bleeding blisters on my hands and Rob and Marc played their hearts out. I think that’s why we had the following we did. It was the sheer energy and they were great times. 

SIU – Were you at all nervous?

Martin – No I never get nervous, even doing the Damned tour I never get nervous. I just love to play so much and it’s easier for a drummer you are at the back and you cannot see anyone anyway. Its just sheer adrenalin. 

SIU – It’s a pity some of the old venues shut down like the Marquee. 

Martin – Yes. The Marquee is the one that we all miss. Johnny Moped played there when Kirsty McColl sang with Johnny and Captain Sensible came backstage with a big cigar for Mr Moped. 

There is a venue closing down called The Scream Lounge in Croydon where I had done gigs with the Weird Things. That’s got that old Marquee feel about it. The first gig we played there it was rammed solid and it was really hot outside. The air con was not working so it was just like the old Marquee Club with sweat running down the walls dripping of the celling and it was full everyone was jumping about and I thought this is great. I have been transported back in time. It’s shutting down now its losing money, people just don’t come out and see bands anymore like they used to. The 12 Bar shut down too its getting harder, people ask where to go to listen to music there is nothing now. 

SIU – At your last Moped show at the Koko Camden it was a pity that the he main group led by Billy Childish would not let you use all the sound system. 

Martin – I was not happy about that, I had a few words. He is a lovely guy Billy and a Moped fan;he just didn’t want us to blow him away I think. But it was a great night and we played a good set and Billy was brilliant as always. As long as the punters leave happy that’s all that matters. 

 

SIU – The comeback gig at the 100 club for Case? 

Martin – Yes that was Rob and I we put the band back together to get the album out. Great gig. 

SIU – With Case why did you think you had such a following? 

Martin – I think it was just the energy as I said before and we did have good songs. I think because the punk thing had happened and we were the younger generation, we were like 16 and 17 and people our age followed the new bands of the same age. I think we were one of the most exiting bands around and they can identify with us. There were other bands around but we looked like everyone else like four people picked out of the crowd. The songs had to be good and the live shows as well. It was just the honestly and the fans did start graffitiing everywhere which was quite amusing. 

I think the graffiti did help as people started wondering who is this Case? It’s still out there some of it near New Cross I think.

SIU – How did you feel about not releasing a proper LP? 

Martin – Gutted mate. Also as we got older we still had the energy there but we could all play better that we did when we were kids. I don’t feel that we could cope with getting the band back together. It really did become hard work and when that happens it’s not fun. It just is how it is. But a shame. 

SIU – How did the Ain’t Gonna Dance CD happen?

Martin – Again I had been on at Rob for years, absolutely years, about getting the stuff together as other people had been putting out the wrong stuff. When I was in a band on tour supporting the Tubes I was out in Germany and had a few hours to spare so I went to a record shop and found an LP with Case on it. I also found us on the jukebox, so I said to Rob we have to do it and get it done and put out a proper collection of Case tracks. We should get the money, as every other bastard seems to be earning from us. All the wrong stuff is out there. So he finally said yes we trolled through reels of tapes and finally selected some decent demo’s that would make a good album.

We took them into RMS studios were we did our first two demos. We picked the best tracks which we thought covered the various line ups and put it out. We went to Captain Oi first as they always asked us but they wanted to only release it digitallywhich we did not want so damaged goods loved it and put it out on vinyl and CD. People have always asked for a Case album and now they have it. 

SIU – Did you also play with the UK Subs?

Martin – Yes I did a gig with Charlie and the boys. I got a call from them. They said our drummer cannot make the gig in Ipswich are you free, I said yes. I asked where did you get my name from, they said it don’t matter where. It was great. It was the first time as a musician I felt I could drum properly. Normally people come half pissed and say you’re good which is nice. But learning a Subs set and Charlie coming over and saying you’re a good drummer mate.

He is such a lovely man and he fired up my enthusiasm to form another band. I remember he came bursting in the studio saying quick give me a guitar had actually thought of a song on the way in on a bus. That’s the good thing about the Subs they are always doing new stuff because Charlie cannot stop himself. I thought if your still doing this at your age I have to stop being lazy and get into this properly. I started talking to Claire who played bass for the Subs. I wanted a girl bass player and spoke to her and she said that she was looking for a drummer I have a singer and a guitarist. I also had a guitarist so we all got together and formed the band Dirty Love

They were one of the best bands I have been in. We released a great album and gigged a lot and we should have done better than we did. I have to say alcohol caused a problem with the line up lol, 

 

 

SIU – How did the Weird Things come about? 

Martin – Basically Jan played in a covers band, he saw me play with Case at Rebellion, I had written a few lyrics I wrote some about my girlfriend who has rheumatoid arthritis and she see said I will never get hear it. I was a bit pissed and said of course you will get to hear it. So the pressure was on to do it. I told Jan about the song etc. he said for me to send him the lyrics and he would write some music for it.

I was out on the piss that night that night and got up in the morning and there was a MP3 file in my email. I then sent it to my mate Simon who said it was interesting so he agreed to do some recording. I did the vocals, Charlie did backing vocals. After that we decided to form a band. We recorded and wrote 12 songs in 3 months. We put Charlie on lead vocals and there it was. The Weird Things were formed just like that. Dick Crippin from Tenpole Tudor and King Kurt produced it and. 

I cheekily asked him if he would gig with us and play rhythm guitar and he said yes but he did not want to be in a band full time…now you try stopping him. He loves it. I was gob smacked he said yes. The first year or so we went out a 7 piece but now we stripped back to a 5 piece. That’s how we formed from just doing a song for my girlfriend. So it was quite a nice little surprise rather than a planned project. The song has never been released and never will be. But as you can tell the 12 songs on our first album is a mishmash of songs. There is not really one style. I am proud of this band. I have never felt this positive since Dirty Love. The Weird Things are the most creative band I’ve been in to date. 

SIU – How did you get involved with the Mopeds? 

Martin – I’ve known the Mopeds for years… When they started doing more gigs Rob was doing all the driving so I said that would drive and roadie for them to give him a break. I started driving them to local gigs and they were rehearsing in the studio Rob has on the Real Cool Baby album and Dave could not always make rehearsals so I would sit in and rehearse the Real Cool Baby tracks with the band. 

Dave then listened to the rehearsal recordings and went in to the studio and recorded it. 

Dave then really could not be bothered with playing drums anymore and he was fed up of gigging etc. He started playing bass as well as he is really talented, he was also writing stuff for himself. It got to the point where they were turning work down because Dave was not interested, 

I did a gig with them then Dave come back and did a few more. Dave really had had enough by this time and wanted to leave the band. The record company asked if I would drum for the band. I told them only if Dave leaves on his own accord and is not pushed. You cannot sack someone who has formed the band. It’s just wrong. But of course I would do it. They are my mates and its Johnny Moped for fucks sake. Dave told the band he had had enough. Rob asked if I would do it and I said yes of course I would. I thought there might have been a bit of backlash from the hard-core fans but there hasn’t been. Which I am very grateful for. 

SU – What was the tour with the Damned like? 

Martin – It was fantastic, it was a pleasure to spend time with them and watch them. It was also good to get the Mopeds out of London other than doing Rebellion. I was shocked as a support band that we played to packed houses every night. It done this band a power of good. We are getting asked to play all over the UK now and we are playing in Europe a lot, which is something they have not really done since 78. We are back out in Europe in April for 10 days. We are playing Hamburg, Berlin etc. We did 19 gigs last year. That’s more than they ever done I think. 

 

 

SIU – And there’s a new LP coming out? 

Martin – Yes we are mixing that now. The boys were in there yesterday doing some final mixes. I will sort out my drum bits in the week. Very pleased with it, it’s something different. All new material. There is a lot of stuff going on with the band at the moment. 

Someone is doing a book on Johnny at the moment. The film Basically Johnny Moped by Fred Burns was amazing. I think you can still download it. There was a problem with the BBC because there was some footage from Top of the Pops of Captain Sensible and I think, and if he sold more than 300 copies of the DVD he had to pay them) BBC) something like 15 grand!

There is so much footage of Johnny they could take that 30-second of footage out and replace it with some of the hours and hours of footage of Johnny. Everywhere we go we are asked where can I get a copy of the film? I am sure Ian from Damaged Goods records would put it back out. It really is a great film one of the best I have watched from that genre. You can down load it from the site. It’s funny and sad. There are some good bits of Fred on there, he wrote one of the best punk songs ever with Darling Let’s have another baby. It’s on a live Mick Ronson LP. You cannot get a better accolade than that. 

That’s how I met Maggie Ronson. We spoke and she told me Mick loved it and used to play it to her a lot, she came to a show and I asked her if she would like to do some backing vocals on the next Weird Things album and she said yes. Which is just amazing. 

SIU – Of all the bands you have seen have you any favourites? 

Martin – Yes, David Bowie he blew my head off each time. In the later years the likes of Iggy when he came back. The Ramones never a let down. Recently seeing the old boys like The Pretty Things that was incredible. The first band I ever went to see was The Sweet at the Rainbow when I was 11 that were pretty impressive. 

SIU – Any bands you would have liked to see in their heyday?

Martin – Yes The Who. I would have liked to seethem with the original line up in the very early days. Maybe early Dr Feelgood, Eddie & The Hot Rods and bands like that and Ducks Delux. When they were all gritty and nasty. I would loved to have seen the original Alice Cooper band in the early 70’s. 

As for punk bands? That’s hard as they have all got better as they got older. A bit like myself.

(Lots of laughter)

Cheers Martin!!

Sweeney! / Sweeney 2 DVD reviews

The roughest,toughest men from London’s greatest crime squad smash their way onto the big screen!

Sweeney! hit the big screen on 20th January 1977 to a rather mixed reception from UK film critics but has since gone on to pick up a large cult following from UK film fans.

Based on the long running Thames/Euston Films TV series the film features the two main characters D.I.Jack Regan (John Thaw) and D.S.George Carter (Dennis Waterman) but not actor Garfied Morgan who played D.C.I. Frank Haskins who allegedly turned down the role as he felt his part in the film was too small.

Sweeney! Is basically a muddled quite violent conspiracy thriller featuring corrupt politicians ( things never change eh?) and a plot very loosely based on the notorious Profumo affair in the sixties.

Regan gets involved as a favour to one of his informants who isn’t happy about an inquest verdict of a suicide and suspects that his call girl girlfriend (Lynda Bellingham) was actually murdered.

This leads to him uncovering a conspiracy involving some of the highest members of the government namely Charles Baker (Ian Bannen) who is tipped to be the next prime minister and his American born press secretary Elliot McQueen (Barry Foster)

Bannen & Foster are both excellent in there roles and give the film a real touch of class.

I must also mention the brutal three man hit squad led by Johnson (Micheal Coles) who are brought in to tie up any loose ends.

To say anymore would spoil the rest of the film but overall it’s very enjoyable and ends on a rather jarring note.

Sweeney 2 on the other hand is a totally different film and was made to cash in on the domestic success of the first film the following year but it really bears no direct links to the first film at all.

A group of violent bank robbers or ‘blaggers’ as they were known in the seventies led by Hill (Ken Hutchison) are committing bank & payroll robberies all over London but strangely getting away each time and only taking up to £60,000.00 each robbery leaving behind excess cash on each job.

Regan & Carter are soon on the case and unravel a highly unusual set up involving a porn star Shirley Hicks (Anna Nygh) and her nazi obsessed partner Gorran (Lewis Fiander)

The rather bleak climax of the film is very bloody indeed and was even censored on some previous VHS and DVD releases.

However this new release appears to be uncensored.

Surprisingly the film only received a ‘AA’ certificate here in the UK which is equivalent to a ’15’ cert now.

I personally found the sequel much more fun than the first film and also found it more akin to the television series albeit with added sex,violence and swearing which they could have never got away with on the television series back in the day due to the mighty hand of the Independent Broadcasting Authority and Mary Whitehouse!

It was also nice to see the legendary Johnny Shannon who played Harry Flowers in the 1970 psychedelic gangster film ‘Performance’ having a brief cameo role in both films.

Both DVDs presented in there correct widescreen 1.75:1 ratio are now fully restored,and look and sound excellent,so I think it’s well worth an upgrade if you have previously purchased the Optimum 2 disc DVD release.

The films have also both been released on Blu-Ray too.

Sadly the director commentary tracks by David Wickes and the late Tom Clegg haven’t been ported over from ‘The Sweeney’ complete DVD box set released a few years ago.

If you are a fan of ‘The Sweeney’ television series or just fancy some pure seventies nostalgia with lashings of booze,birds and fags then I’m sure you will enjoy both films too.

Recommended and many thanks to Network-on-Air for supplying the DVD review copies.

You can purchase a copy of each film by simply clicking on one of the links below.

https://networkonair.com/all-products/2955-sweeney

https://networkonair.com/all-products/2957-sweeney-2

Ruts DC: 40 Years of the Crack Tour Concorde 2 Brighton Tuesday 12th February 2019

Babylon’s Burning

You Burn in the Street

You Burn in your Houses

With Anxiety

Lyrics from the song ‘Babylon’s Burning’


It was great to see the quintessential British punk band ‘Ruts DC’ back in Brighton again last night on only the second night of there 17 date UK tour too.

I’m very pleased to report they played a storming and powerful set and also the whole of the classic punk rock album ‘The Crack’ which was originally released on 29th September 1979 by Virgin Records to great acclaim from the UK music press.

The album also spawned several hit singles including ‘Something That I Said’ which was a top 30 hit in the UK in 1979.

‘Ruts DC’ were very ably supported by another well known punk rock outfit called ‘The Professionals’ with former Sex Pistol member Paul Cook on drums.

Again the shortish set was very loud and powerful and even featured a popular Sex Pistol song ‘Silly Thing’ from 1979 which was originally written by Paul Cook & Steve Jones and was the 3rd single released in promotion of the infamous ‘Sex Pistols’ mock documentary film ‘The Great Rock & Roll Swindle’ which was eventually released in 1980 after a long delay and UK censorship issues and premiered at the long gone London Pavilion Cinema Piccadilly Circus.

Both sets carried a tremendous amount of energy and it was also nice to see the Concorde 2 venue filled to the brim on a Tuesday night.

Please try and catch them on tour as I can personally guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Photos used by kind permission of genius photographer Ian Bourn.

Here’s a list of the remaining February & March 2019 ’40 Years of the Crack’ tour dates.

13th Feb O2 Ritz Manchester
15th Feb 02 Institute 2 Birmingham
16th Feb 02 Academy 2 Sheffield
17th Feb The Junction Cambridge
18th Feb 02 Academy Oxford
20th Feb Waterfront Norwich
21st Feb Riverside Newcastle
22nd Feb Garage Glasgow
23rd Feb Tunnels Aberdeen
24th Feb Liquid Rooms Edinburgh
26th Feb Rescue Rooms Nottingham
27th Feb SWX Bristol
28th Feb O2 Shepherds Bush Empire London
2nd Mar Button Factory Dublin, IE
3rd Mar Limelight Belfast

Alien 40th Anniversary this year!

On 6th September 1979 Alien premiered at the prestigious Odeon Leicester Square in the heart of London’s busy West End to both critical acclaim and record breaking box office figures for that cinema before going on general release in the UK.

It had already premiered in the USA on the 25th May 1979 when it received a somewhat cautious limited release by its distributors 20th Century Fox but it eventually opened wide on 22nd June 1979 to huge box office takings all across the United States of America.

Alien was filmed entirely in the UK at both Shepperton & Bray Film studios (formerly the beloved home of Hammer Horror films made in the sixties) over a period of fourteen weeks from July 5th to October 21st 1978 on a low budget of $11,000,000.

A crew of over 200 top craftspeople and technicians constructed the three principle sets: the surface of the alien planet and the interiors of the Nostromo spaceship and the derelict spacecraft.

The production schedule was short due to the low budget and pressure from 20th Century Fox to finish on time.

Editing and post production on Alien took roughly 20 weeks to complete.

Terry Rawlings was chosen as editor as he had previously worked with director Ridley Scott on his first feature length film entitled ‘The Duellists’ which had starred Harvey Keitel & Keith Carradine.

The first edited cut of the film lasted for over three hours and was then further edited down to just under two hours.

The infamous ‘Chest Burster’ scene caused a sensation with audiences worldwide who had never seen anything like it portrayed so graphically on the big screen.

It also caused some unprepared audience members to either faint or walk out of the cinema in disgust.

I was lucky enough to attend the UK premier which was held on a Thursday night and watched the film as it should be seen in 70mm (blown up from 35mm) and six track stereo sound which was a truly unforgettable experience.

I have now heard on the grapevine that Alien could be heading for a 4K Ultra HD release as early as April 2019 to commemorate its fortieth anniversary.

Update

Alien 4K Ultra HD has now been officially announced for release on 1st April 2019.

https://www.zavvi.com/blu-ray/alien-40th-anniversary-4k-ultra-hd-includes-blu-ray/12020758.html

https://www.zavvi.com/blu-ray/alien-40th-anniversary-4k-ultra-hd-includes-blu-ray/12020758.html

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The First Punk Rock Pro Vegan Horror Movie?

I only hear the silver screams of pain 


He’s coming for you again and again


There’s no escape,there’s no way out


The Damned Nasty 1984


The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was filmed under extremely gruelling conditions from 15 July 1973 – 14 August 1973,originally scheduled to be a short two week shoot the film eventually took four weeks to complete,the films budget was originally estimated 
to be only a minuscule $60,000 but it was more nearer $140,000 by the time principle editing was completed.


The film crew worked seven days a week, 16 hours a day, in the summertime in one of the state of Texas’ notoriously brutal heat waves where the daytime temperature was over 100 degrees.


Everyone who worked on the film later recalled that the stench from the rotting food and people’s body odour was so terrible that some crew members passed out or became sick from the smell. Actor Edwin Neal who played the hitch-hiker claimed: “Filming that scene was the worst time of my life… and I had been in Vietnam, with people trying to kill me, so I guess that shows how bad it was.”


It was only director Tobe Hoopers 2nd feature film,the first being the rarely seen Eggshells an avant garde feature film with supernatural elements to it and very far removed from the horrors of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.


Hooper apparently clashed with many of the cast and crew on set by making them work long hours in appalling conditions and actor Edwin Neal was reported to have said he would kill Hooper if he ever met him again.


However all of the above worked in the films favour as the actors play there somewhat limited parts very well and realistically convey the claustrophobic terror of the horrific situations especially the late actress Marilyn Burns who played the lead role of Sally Hardesty a true scream queen in the fine tradition of Fay Wray who screamed her way thru the original 1933 film King Kong. 


Hooper allowed lead actor Gunnar Hansen to develop the character of Leatherface as he saw fit, under his supervision. Hansen decided that Leatherface was mentally retarded and never learned to talk properly, so he went to a school for the mentally disabled and watched how they moved and listened to them talk to get a feel for the character.


Hansen said that, during filming, he didn’t get along very well with actor Paul A. Partain, who played wheel chair bound Franklin. A few years later, Hanson met Partain again and realized that Partain, a method actor, had simply chosen to stay in character even when not filming. The two apparently remained good friends up until Partains’ death in 2005.


The films underlining message is most definately anti-meat and could easily turn the casual movie viewer off meat for life after witnessing the abatoir like antics of the Sawyer family.


The film eventually premiered in Dallas,Texas on 1st October 1974 and went on to make a whopping $30,859,000 in the United States not bad for a low budget movie costing $140,000.


When it was first released, the film was so horrifying that people actually walked out on sneak previews for it.


Apparently some of these early screenings involved a guy dressed up as Leatherface complete with working chainsaw who jumped out at the audience during the slaughter of Franklin,one of the films scariest moments and easily up there with the head/boat scene in Jaws a few years later.
Tobe Hooper intended to make the movie for a “PG” rating, by keeping violence moderate and language mild, but despite cutting and repeated submissions, the Ratings Board insisted on the “R” rating for the effectiveness of what is onscreen and what is implied offscreen.


The film’s original US distributor was Bryanston Distribution Company, in fact a Mafia front operated by Louis “Butchie” Peraino, who used the movie to launder profits he made from the notorious porno movie Deep Throat (1972). In return, the production received only enough money to reimburse the investors and pay the cast and crew $405 a piece. The producers eventually discovered that Peraino had lied to them about the film’s profits; after Peraino was arrested on obscenity charges when his role in Deep Throat was revealed, the cast and crew filed a suit against him and were awarded $25,000 each. New Line Cinema, which obtained the rights to “Chain Saw” from the bankrupt Bryanston, paid the cast and crew as part of the purchase agreement.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre received a mixed reaction upon its initial release but was eventually deemed by most critics to be a worthy and powerful film in its own right.


European Censorship issues

The film was rejected by the British film censors in 1975, but it did get a limited cinema release in the London area thanks to the GLC (Greater London Council) and ran for one whole year at the Prince Charles Theatre. It was banned again in 1977, when the censors’ attempts to cut it were unsuccessful, (for the purposes of an X certificate wider release), then it was effectively banned again in 1984,when the 1984 Video Recordings Act was introduced. in1999, after the censors finally changed their policy, following the departure of James Ferman they took the plunge, and passed it uncut, for the cinema and video, after 25 years, since they first banned it.


The film also has had a long and troubled “relationship” with German law. The original theatrical version in West Germany was denied a rating and therefore cut. In 1982, the film was put on the index for youth-endangering media. Then in 1985, the film was banished by the Munich district court and all existing copies were confiscated. Over the years the film was released on VHS and DVD in various (legal and illegal) versions, mostly cut. Since April 2008, the new German licensee, Turbine Medien, has tried to get the banishment revoked and the film removed from the index. Only in September 2011, the district court of Frankfurt/Main finally lifted the banishment of the film (it is the first time in Germany that such an attempt was successful, making judiciary history). Finally, in December 2011 the film was removed from the BPJM index and subsequently rated “Not under 18” by the FSK.


The film was banned in French Cinemas until censorship restrictions were lifted in 1982.

Mark Williams with thanks to IMDB and Wikipedia 

Green Book

I’ve just come back from a preview screening of this excellent film and can thoroughly recommended it.

It tells the true story of black pianist Dr Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) and his Italian-American chauffeur Tony “Lip” Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen)

Here’s what the official synopsis says.

This mismatched pair embark on a two-month tour of concert venues in the racially charged deep south and discover they’re on the road to a meaningful and unique friendship.

Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen both turn in career best powerhouse performances here.

Quite amazingly the film is directed by Peter Farrelly who co-directed the 1998 bad taste comedy hit ‘There is Something About Mary’ with his brother Bobby but don’t let that put you off this film.

I’m pleased to say this film has already been nominated for five Oscars this week including Best Picture.

If it doesn’t sweep the board at the Oscar’s this year I will be very disappointed indeed.

If you see one film this year please go and see this as it’s heartwarming and beautifully acted and also honestly depicts how badly black people were treated in the Deep South back in the sixties.

10/10

Update: I’m pleased to say Green Book got a very well deserved Best Picture Oscar at the 2019 Academy Awards also Mahershala Ali got the Best supporting actor award and the film received the Best original screenplay award for Nick Vallelonga,Brian Currie & Peter Farrelly.

Result!!