The love for vinyl has always been there and many stories are attached to it. There is whispers in some quarters that vinyl is back, and they are getting louder. Not in the same numbers that it was in the pre-cd day’s of the 70’s and 80’s, but they are up on display shelves of record shop’s. There is hundred’s of reasons why we like a certain song. Vinyl Junkies is looking for the stories behind them.
Neil Newton is guitarist with North East punk band Angelic Upstarts. ‘I’ve written and recorded two albums with the Upstarts – Bullingdon Bastards which was released in 2015 on the BossTuneage label & The Dirty Dozen, which was originally released on I Hate People label in 2011 and later re-released on Randale Records. Plus I’ve written and recorded two albums for a side project from the Upstarts in a band called The Dipsomaniacs. Those albums were on the Mad Butcher label and called Gambrinus (released 2008) and Well Connected (released 2012). I’m currently in the process of writing more new tunes for a vinyl release too. That project I’ve called Sounds for Hounds with 100% of sales going to shelters for retired/abandoned greyhounds and lurchers’.
‘The Upstarts have shows booked for next year already. We still keep getting offered great gigs all over the world and we’ve just played to a packed out Rebellion Festival for the second year running. So the interest is still there for the Upstarts and as long as that remains, then I suspect Mensi will want to continue’.
Introductions over here are the 7 songs that shaped Neil’s world.
1) The Hotshots – Snoopy versus The Red Baron
The very first single I owned (I still have it in fact) I just loved its groove, which isn’t surprising considering that the ‘Hotshots’ on this fine piece of wax were in fact the Cimarons, who had migrated to the UK from Jamaica where they had sessioned for loads of artists including a certain Jimmy Cliff. I was barely 5 years old at the time but the groove just hooked me and is most definitely responsible for my love of anything on Trojan and related labels.
2) Lou Busch Orchestra – Zambezi
One of my great-uncles had this ancient, battered owld wind up gramophone caper, which today would probably be worth a fortune to some beardy London hipster type and the only records you could play on it were old 78’s which were canny heavy in weight. They were like roof tiles and probably worth a fortune to some beardy London hipster type, who’d use them as fucking dinner plates or some other pretentious, crockery based catastrophe. Anyway, leaving such bearded buffoonery aside, I was nebbing through all their old 78’s and giving them a spin when I happened upon this tune. It had, to my mind, a calypso style intro and that grabbed me straight away as calypso is very similar to mento, which massively influenced reggae & ska. Again, just as with the Hotshots/Cimarons, it was all about the groove baby! In addition, there is some fantastic parpage going on and I love a good slice of the owld parpage caper (Parpage = Brass/Horn section, ye dig?) all of which led me to discover big band swing music which I also have a great fondness for. By the way, Lou Busch also went by the name of Johnny ‘fingers’ Carr and this pic of him at the piano is mint. Look at him man, how can you fault someone displaying such top drawer dudery!
3) Electric Light Orchestra – Out of the Blue
I queued up outside Pete Edmonds Record shop on Keppel Street in South Shields for this. It was really special for a number of reasons, not least of which were the brilliant tunes! It was the first slab of coloured vinyl I can remember getting my hands on and the first double album I owned. In addition, I loved the artwork on the cover, a feature that the introduction of CD’s tragically diminished. Just think of all the superb album covers from that time man, Motorhead, No Sleep til Hammersmith being one of the best ones. The respect for and appreciation of the effort that went into producing these slabs of glorious sonic delights, was probably the reason I carried Out of the Blue back home like I was carrying a fucking Ming vase! I also remember buying a belt buckle with the album front cover artwork on it from, I think Image Records over the road from Pete Edmonds shop. I definitely remember going into Image Records but as memories get a little fuggy as the years pass, it might not have been where I got the belt buckle from? Still it’s nice to remember a time when Shields had lots of vinyl shops to choose from with Callers, at the Nook, being my usual vinyl/badges/posters hunting ground. I really hope in this era of virtual cyber products, that people decide they’d like more physical product. The pleasure of relaxing while browsing through racks of vinyl is, I feel, a lost delight the younger generation may never experience. I hope I’m proved wrong.
4) Angelic Upstarts – Teenage Warning
I was considering leaving this out and picking another punk album, lest I be accused of bias but no, fuck that, this band certainly did shape my life because prior to the Upstarts, while I loved the energy and anger of punk, it wasn’t until after listening to this that I began to understand WHY. I already had a fuzzy understanding of punk but the Upstarts slid everything sharply into view as they were writing about what people in our region could see happening to their family, friends and community. As for the album itself? Hey, that feedback at the start man! It just starts menacing the listener straight away hahaha and then it crashes into the track like a brick hoyed through a window. Fucking magnificent!!
5) Eddie Cochran – C’mon Everybody
In an earlier interview I explained how my dad gave me this to learn on guitar when I was just starting out and it opened my eyes or more importantly, my ears, to early rock and roll and further back to the blues. At the time I didn’t realise nor, I suppose, appreciate what a huge favour my dad had done for me. I was essentially learning the underpinning knowledge to all that came after it. By that I mean for Rock/Punk/Alternative music. I don’t mean jazz which, to me, was far too up its own arse and learning it would’ve felt a bit like I was some posh kid learning Latin at Eton! Mind, I have grown to respect those who play it but 30 years on and I still can’t help blurting out “self-indulgent smug wankery” when I attempt to say “wow, aren’t you fucking fabulous”. Oh dear!
So aye, cheers fatha for not being a cord wearing jazzy bastard and thanks for the steer to Eddie C, it really was something else.
6) AC/DC – If You Want Blood
Now this album shaped my view on how an electric guitar should sound. Which is that there is absolutely no place, nor valid excuse, for a rock guitarists’ tone platter to contain any salad on it whatsoever. Nay, not even the merest waft of lettuce or smallest squeak of cress. Nein, nein, nein, it should only contain the thickest, juiciest, meatiest slabs of chunkment and the Young brothers deliver the choicest of cuts on this superb live album. I’m not arsed over who was best chanter between Bon and Jonna nor do I give a fuck what the purists think, I enjoyed listening to both of them and it would not have made any difference to me which one of them had sung on this album, for me it is all about the huge blanket of chunko molunko unfurled by the Youngs. Marvellous!!
7) The Clash – London Calling
This album got me through the lowest, darkest time of my life. I’ve obviously no wish to go into details here about that time but if anyone tells you that music isn’t therapy? Tell them they’re are talking out of their fucking arse and are not to be trusted! In contrast, there are one or two records from that time that I find very difficult to listen to. The power of music? You’d better believe it tiger and this particular album really was a lifebelt for me during that time. The tracks on the album?…. It’s the Clash!…. It’s London Calling!…. What? Do people really need to be told how good an album this is? Bloody Heathens!
Next up for Angelic Upstarts is North East Calling at Northumbria University on 30th September 2017. A full line up including Cockney Rejects, Anti Nowhere League, Ruts DC and from Tyneside, Gimp Fist and Panic Report.
Vinyl Junkies into by Gary Alikivi 2017.