SOUNDS CLIPS : PENETRATION

I’ve come across some grand postings on social media by archivist, Stig Chivers. He’s added articles from Sounds music paper 1975-80, some have featured bands from the North East.

Penetration & Lindisfarne at Reading Festival 1978.

In 18 June 1977 issue music writer Phil Sutcliffe met County Durham punks Penetration. In a favourable interview he asked are the Northern outsiders ready to walk the same path as the London based crew of Clash, Damned and Stranglers ? In a recent interview (October 2021) Phil told me…

‘Penetration, were a quite brilliant sophistopunk band from Ferryhill, dazzling in every way with a natural star singer, Pauline Murray. Great ideas men in Gary Chaplin and Robert Blamire, plus drummer Gary Smallman and out-there’ish guitarist Fred Purser. They almost made it’.

When I interviewed Fred Purser back in December 2018 he told me…

‘When I met Penetration they had a real chemistry, the atmosphere was good so I gave it a go and we played The Marquee. It was really exciting, loved it and Virgin signed us that night on an album deal’.

Penetration in Sounds 18 June 77

A live review of a Penetration gig in Manchester appeared in 18 June 1977 issue, notable for the support band Stiff Kittens who changed name to Warsaw then changed up again and produced two great albums securing a place in rock immortality. They are widely known for their classic ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ – yes we’re talking about Joy Division.

Next on the bill was John Cooper Clarke, reviewer Ian Wood labels him ‘a genius’, Wood warms up – or necks a few more beers – and calls for ‘A&R men to take note’ of Penetration as this band ‘are killers’. Buzzcocks close the (New Wave) show.

The review is illustrated by a great Penetration pic by Rik Walton – who else! In a previously mentioned interview with Phil Sutcliffe… Rik was a good friend and the photographer of the Newcastle scene, one who worked via mild manner rather than being pushy and sharp-elbowed’.

‘You wanted Newcastle music pix, Rik was the man – except when the weeklies sent up one of the big names from London. But Rik’s pix are still valuable in every sense and he’s still the man for images of that time and place’.

For more articles from Sounds Magazine 1975-80 by archivist, Steve ‘Stig’ Chivers check twitter:  @SoundsClips.

For further posts about Sounds type in ‘Raw Meat in the Sonic Mincer’ in the blog search bar.

Read ‘Square One’ the full Fred Purser interview at:

SQUARE ONE in conversation with songwriter & producer Fred Purser | ALIKIVI : NORTH EAST UK (garyalikivi.com)

Gary Alikivi  September 2021

SOUNDS CLIPS : ANGELIC UPSTARTS

I’ve come across some grand postings on social media by archivist, Stig Chivers. He’s added articles from Sounds music paper 1975-80, some have featured bands from the North East.

In the 18 August 1979 edition is a Garry Bushell live review of the Angelic Upstarts gig at the Nashville in London.

Angelic Upstarts in Sounds 18 August 79

In a recent interview with music journalist Phil Sutcliffe, Phil talked about the Upstarts and remembers a gig in Newcastle which was a spin off from the Bedrock programme broadcast by BBC radio Newcastle.

‘Putting the Angelic Upstarts on before North East band Neon at the Bedrock festival proved to be a mis-judgment as a huge fight ensued, a rather one-sided affair given Neon fans were student’ish and Upstarts fans were from South Shields’.

Brian Rapkin from Punishment of Luxury remembers that infamous gig…

‘We were bottom of the bill and during our set someone lobbed a can at the stage. I caught the can and put it in my pocket. Later the Upstarts charged the stage. There was carnage, people beaten up, blood everywhere, the police came and made the rioters walk home to South Shields without their shoes’.

For more articles from Sounds Magazine 1975-80 by archivist, Steve ‘Stig’ Chivers check twitter:  @SoundsClips.

For further posts about Sounds type in: ‘Raw Meat in the Sonic Mincer’ in the blog search bar.

Read about the Angelic Upstarts in ‘The Butchers of Bolingbroke’ here:

THE BUTCHERS OF BOLINGBROKE – Pigs, Gigs and Prisons with Angelic Upstarts | ALIKIVI : NORTH EAST UK (garyalikivi.com)

Gary Alikivi  September 2021

SOUNDS CLIPS : PUNISHMENT OF LUXURY

You will find some grand postings on social media by archivist, Steve ‘Stig’ Chivers. He’s added articles from Sounds music paper 1975-80, some have featured bands from the North East.

Sounds singles review 9/6/79.

9 June 1979 issue carries a singles review featuring Newcastle post punk band Punishment of Luxury’s ‘Jellyfish’. Not a favourable review to put it mildly ‘Pathetic attempt to capture early seventies quirkiness’ ouch!

In an interview back in April 2021 Brian Rapkin (Bond) told me…

‘The first single after we signed was supposed to be ‘Jellyfish’, but the board at United Artists didn’t like it as an A-side so we reluctantly agreed to ‘Engine of Excess’ as the A-side’.

‘Then we signed to Screen Gems-EMI Publishing who gave UA a bollocking about the choice of A-side. So UA re-released ‘Jellyfish’ as the A-side. But by then it was too late to get airplay. The momentum was lost’.

The diamond in the dust amongst the reviews is a favourite in my top singles list – Babylons Burning from The Ruts – ‘Music to riot too’ shouts this week’s reviewer Garry Bushell. Yer got that right Gazza.

Also came across some pages from the Reading 1979 official programme, or the official title – 19th National Jazz, Blues & Rock Festival. The Jags are on the 3pm Friday slot with Punilux at 4.30pm. Motorhead take the stage as the sun goes down. Scorpions and Ramones headliners on Saturday and Sunday.

Look out for Penetration and Angelic Upstarts on the next Sounds Clips posts.

Full interviews with Punishment of Luxury:

FUNK OFF – The Punishment of Luxury & further tales of musical adventures. | ALIKIVI : NORTH EAST UK (garyalikivi.com)

FROM NEWCASTLE WITH LOVE – part one of an interview with actor & musician Brian Rapkin. | ALIKIVI : NORTH EAST UK (garyalikivi.com)

More Sounds Magazine 1975-80 articles by archivist, Steve ‘Stig’ Chivers check twitter:  @SoundsClips.

Further posts about Sounds type in ‘Raw Meat in the Sonic Mincer’ in the blog search bar.

Gary Alikivi  September 2021

MORE THAN WORDS : with Chief music writer, Phil Sutcliffe 2/2

In this second post with music journalist and author Phil Sutcliffe, he talks about working with some of the biggest bands on the planet.

I knew AC/DC somewhat when they’d just come to London. Bon was the best storyteller and his narration of the Whole Lotta Rosie legend was a treat – 19 stone, Bon the 32nd bloke she’d had that month, the ‘Climb on top’ – although I don’t think it was her who’d got the jack.

AC/DC interview in Sounds August 1976.

The Police had a famous story of one of those early career gigs that Sting told me about, I mean famous once they were getting interviewed. They were in Poughkeepsie, upstate New York, their first US gig after their CBGBs debut, and the story goes that six people showed up.

The band played full-on regardless, broke off to introduce the ‘crowd’ to one another, all had a good time despite circumstances and one of the six was a DJ who played, Roxanne, and world conquest began right there!

The Police book I did in ’81 with Hugh Fielder was the real thing, mid-story right-there excitement, the Springsteen biography will be the best I can do, skill and enthusiasm on a long creative life – his I mean, though mine will be in there too. From that English and American Lit degree to the old retired music journo, exploring still – not necessarily getting anywhere.

In the Springsteen biography have you found anything you were surprised at ?

My approach is connections and that makes for a wide reach and the surprises you ask about. For months I’ve been reading about Elvis, racism and the south, and that has extended to books on MLK, Mahalia Jackson, Gospel, plus infinite circles around Elvis, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Odetta, Dylan, Stax – all occurring when Bruce was 8-20 year old.

So the title might be a sonorous BS and The Great Tradition, if I ever get there, fun en route though. Regardless, it all interests me and other fans, beyond that probably no readers.

Phil second from right at a Sounds reunion 2011.

Throughout your career who were your memorable interviews with ?

That’s the question very old music writers don’t want. My disappointing answer is they were more or less all enjoyable, including Lemmy for Sounds. Flying to France in a bigger-than-small plane his manager Gerry Bron owned. He was remarkably direct and engaged with anyone who looked him in the eye, so another different-planet interview that worked very well.

AC/DC for Sounds, my first and favourite being at the house they rented in London. The Youngs and Bon Scott being nothing but their down-to-earth – with a touch of python-round-the-neck – selves and storytelling till the teabags ran out.

Springsteen in Mojo, my lifetime fave, who I first heard through Bedrock (BBC Newcastle radio programme). To interview, no one I met has ever combined such clarity, such heart, such ideas, such grasp of the sweat-and-blood inner lives – well, we’ve been travelling over rocky ground you know.

In sum though, through all these blessings, I’d just state musicians all have a lot to say and I’m happy to take notes and tell the story. Never met a stupid musician, never.

Vocabularies vary according to background, but the ability to express themselves verbally seems pretty consistent to me, whether or not they’re wordsmith lyricists by trade – the creative, artistic instinct and inclination carry over into speech – fortunately for us music writers.

What are you doing now?

Meandering through semi-retirement writing a much-needed Springsteen biography which pleases me – if the Bruce book counts as professional work.

Still very active in my union the National Union Of Journalists, whereof I’m a Member Of Honour. My only honour! But a good one.

Lived with my wife Gayle in the same south London flat since we left Newcastle in 1979. No reason to move, never saw the ladder. Lucky, lucky, lucky as the lovely Kylie said.

Thanks to ‘Soundclips’ on twitter for articles from Sounds 1975-80, archivist Steve ‘Stig’ Chivers.

Interview by Gary Alikivi  September 2021

MORE THAN WORDS: with Chief music writer, Phil Sutcliffe

The blog has featured some people who stuck a flag in the ground for the North East – Chris Phipps, Chris Cowey, David Wood, Colin Rowell, Ian Penman and Rik Walton for the pix.

The latest addition to the squad is a man who used words to create a colourful landscape and painted pictures in the minds of thousands of teenage music lovers.

London born Phil Sutcliffe, looks back on 40 years of music journalism for Sounds, Q, Mojo and The Face.

He interviewed a world of musicians including Stewart Copeland, Joni Mitchell, Nick Cave, Sheryl Crow, Eric Clapton…

Thom Yorke for Los Angeles Times and for Mojo, 15 minutes on the phone with Dolly Parton, truly that can set you up for a year or two.

Where did Sutcliffe find his love for words, and what’s his connection to the North East ?

I always wanted to be a journalist so in 1969 when I finished my A-levels and had a degree in English & American Literature from Manchester University, I applied for journo jobs and got a training course followed by an apprenticeship at Newcastle Evening Chronicle.

That was in the new training centre in an office above the Bigg Market doing just about everything – local councils, sports desk, feature writing, a spell as a columnist, the subs desk, and in court where the 15-year-old kid who pleaded guilty to burglary and asked for 153 other offences to be taken into account.

There was stints in district offices – Gateshead, Consett and North Shields – ah, the morning fishing report of how much, by weight and type of fish each boat had landed! From the outset writing heaps, hard, fast and fascinating all the time.

How did the job with Sounds come about ?

I’d always said I wanted to work freelance but it happened sooner than intended. After three years mainly on the Chronicle I did the usual thing of trying to get my second job, 175 rejections later I went freelance.

September 1974 I was 27 my first marriage had just broken up, a bit late to start writing about rock’n’pop so not much in the way of a plan, but thought maybe I could earn part of a living on one of the five weekly rock/pop papers – as ‘our man in the North East’.

While still doing a bit of local news for Newcastle papers and Radio Newcastle, plus a couple of non-musical feature items for Woman’s Hour! I wrote off to NME, Melody Maker, Sounds and Record Mirror.

With so many band tours starting in the North East you could get the first review in, and I got a sniff from Melody Maker, but really hit it off with Sounds.

Within the next year I started doing feature interviews and making a slightly more decent living – Gentle Giant might have been the first as I tended to get ecstatic about their wild prog adventures.

But my first rock interview I think was Sparks backstage at Newcastle City Hall for Radio Newcastle’s late-night programme, Bedrock. The show was DJ’d by my friend Dick Godfrey with a strictly non-rowdy zoo of other voices – Ian Penman/Ravendale, Arthur Hills, the Out Now fanzine team, me, and other enthusiasts, all of us unpaid but enjoying ourselves meeting stars.

Also dozens of local bands from Sting’s Last Exit to Bob Smeaton’s White Heat, the veteran Junco Partners, Southbound, Gale Force Ten (with singer-saxist Joy Askew) and Wavis O’Shave.

There was a lot of local stuff about and loads of it good in what might well have been a culture – Tyneside pub rock. Very diverse, and not what Londoners called pub rock – Ducks Deluxe, Chilli Willy and such, Brit R&B-rooted – but it did happen in pubs quite a bit.

The Cooperage, The Bridge, The Gosforth – Last Exit every Weds if I recall. That one out in Heaton, Andy Hudson’s wine bar for a bit, a cellar near the Civic Centre – he played trumpet for the Grimethorpe Colliery Band when he were a lad you know, and then the more obviously culture-centred Jesmond Theatre.

We met on a Saturday lunchtime in a pub near the Tyne river and chatted and plotted, me and Dick Godfrey, promoter-musos like Chris Murtagh and Angus, er, sorry lost his surname but nice bloke with a moustache.

Even the odd sympathetic older star like Hilton Valentine from The Animals who could show us all a thing or two, though I can’t remember what. It was good.

Angelic Upstarts pic. Rik Walton.

Once in a while the Guildhall down by the Tyne river, scene of the Bedrock festival that spun off from the radio programme – all of this encouraged by a loose collective of bands and fans.

Putting the Angelic Upstarts on before Neon at the Bedrock festival proved to be a misjudgment as a huge fight ensued, a rather one-sided affair given Neon fans were student’ish and Upstarts fans were from South Shields.

I jest in retrospect, but it was a shame and in part my fault thinking in a hippie way that music brought us all together. We didn’t do that again.

However, the Upstarts – and their fans – were fine on their own territory which is where I met them generally, starting with a gig at Jarrow Town Hall when punk had reached the North East and they’d released their single, Who Killed Liddle Towers?

Which was a drama and a campaign in itself, with police brutality played out by cop-hatted singer Mensi, going at a real pig’s head fresh from the butcher with a bloody great axe. That was a night.

Also a double-page spread in Sounds, Mensi and Mond had plenty to say for themselves and we got on, up to some point where me coming from another planet got unfeasibly less brotherly. I always liked them.

My Sounds colleague Dave McCullough didn’t though and he invented a great word for the rolling profanity Mensi deployed – fuckverballing. What came in between worked pretty well though, speaking for a life much harder that most rock writers knew anything about.

I did cover heavy metal/hard rock quite a lot, but missed the North East bands, but pretty sure Ian Penman did a feature.

(Penman writing as Ian Ravendale in Sounds, May 1980, featured the North East New Wave of British Heavy Metal with interviews from Mythra, Fist, Raven, White Spirit, Tygers of Pan Tang).

Penetration feature in Sounds 18/6/77

My other ‘discoveries’, as we used to say were Penetration, a quite brilliant sophistopunk band from Ferryhill, dazzling in every way with a natural star singer, Pauline Murray.

Great ideas men in Gary Chaplin and Robert Blamire, plus drummer Gary Smallman and out-there’ish guitarist Fred Purser. They almost made it. As did the rude theatricals, Punishment Of Luxury, with their panto villain frontman Brian Rapkin and his small band of wild-witty anarchs.

Reading festival 1979 line-up with Punishment of Luxury and headliners, The Police.

Meanwhile, I loved Last Exit to bits, jazz-rock and soul and their own stuff, often saw them twice a week, and eventually got them in Sounds. A big feature on Geordie boys trying the London move – and this despite editor Alan Lewis saying “God that singer’s awful” when I played him a cassette.

But this was just after I happened to introduce Sting to Stewart Copeland, passing through as Curved Air played the Poly in ’76 – he had a lightbulb moment all right and somehow persuaded Sting to give up the music he loved, come to London and play the music he hated – punk – until it freed him to find reggae and write, Roxanne onwards.

Stewart and Andy Summers played to their optimum pop potential and they become the biggest band in the world for quite a while.

Read part two featuring Phil’s memorable interviews, books on The Police and AC/DC and a Springsteen biography.

Thanks to ‘Soundclips’ on twitter for the articles from Sounds Magazine 1975 – 1980, archivist, Steve ‘Stig’ Chivers.

Interview by Gary Alikivi  September 2021

THE NIGHT BELONGED TO OVERKILL: Port Vale’s Heavy Metal Holocaust at 40

My ticket no.27,070 from the day with original headliners Black Sabbath on the bill.

A dozen teenage metallers from South Shields wearing bike jackets, denim and long hair jumped on a coach to travel 200 mile south of Tyneside. In honour of our Viking ancestors we burned down the highway, raised mighty hell and invaded… Stoke.

Before the driver put his pedal to the metal a shout went up from the back ‘Me ma washed me jeans last night and I think me ticket was in the pocket’.

The Heavy Metal Holocaust was on 1 August 1981 at Port Vale football ground, but from the off the neighbours tried to get the festival banned. The council gave the go ahead after the promoter offered a free coach trip to Blackpool for elderly residents.

In the first issue of Kerrang, the all-day metal extravaganza was originally planned for Milton Keynes Bowl, in what would have been the first of two shows that year.

The year previously, UB40, Squeeze and headliners The Police were on the bill. Later years saw Queen, Genesis and Bowie headline the bowl which became a regular on the festival circuit.

Rock at the Bowl on 8 August ’81 featured headliners Thin Lizzy, the Ian Hunter band, the mainstream sound of Judie Tzuke and Q Tips. Reviews say the gig was poorly attended.

Sounds advert issue 11.7.81

In 11 July issue of Sounds it was full steam ahead to Port Vale with Black Sabbath and Motorhead advertised as double headliners – with a monster PA in tow.

A ‘major band’ was to be announced with rumours circulating that Ted Nugent was being added to the bill – now Ted as we know isn’t exactly the Ken Barlow of Metal, so this might get messy.

A week later in Sounds, Sabbath had pulled, and a full page advert read Ozzy Osbourne’s Blizzard of Oz had stepped in. No surprise a deal had been struck as that summer Motorhead were opening for Ozzy on a North American tour.

But with only one album behind him might the band have to rely on old Sabbath favourites to stop a train wreck coming down the track ?

Why did Sabbath pull out ? Tony Iommi doesn’t talk about it in his biography, he mentions that summer the band were in Los Angeles recording new album Mob Rules, the follow up to the very successful Heaven & Hell.

The Nugent rumour appeared in the first issue of Kerrang, but it was just that, a rumour, and the eventual axeman who played on the day was Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush.

The day was propped up by NWOBHM band Vardis, who were hot, frustrated and angry, and looking for a groove. As the gears began to crunch and click, suddenly it was all over. Out on the field the disciples were still gathering around the stage, sensing something special was in the air.

Up came a middle order of two Canadians and one American fighting it out between each other. The slick American rock band Riot glide through their set with guile and finesse. Next up was Triumph who searched for magic only to get caught in the crossfire, and manage to hang on bravely during the bottle wars.

A solid performance from Marino, not giving up or giving in, earned a glowing respect from the sweltering hordes gathering at the altar.

As the sun set the High Priest of Rock n Roll, Lemmy, invites Ozzy and Randy Rhoads to plug in for the ride and amp it up high and loud. They leave no room for doubts delivering a blistering set, a crazy train rumbling down the line, just hot enough to light a bonfire.

Then an eerie silence falls as dark clouds gather overhead, lights spark in the night sky and through the smoke headliners Motorhead in all their glory, own the stage. Gun’s blazing it’s a lightning strike as they look to steal the show opening with Ace of Spades – but the night belonged to Overkill.

Research: Sounds, Set List, Kerrang & UK Rock Festivals.

Gary Alikivi 2021.

RAW MEAT IN THE SONIC MINCER #6 – Looking back at Sounds Music weekly: Record Adverts

Looking through back issues of the UK music weeklies for a mention of North East bands, I came across a screaming headline from a Motorhead gig review – Raw Meat in the Sonic Mincer – Yep, that be ‘reet for theheed.

Sounds or NME was always knocking about our house, pocket money bought a copy for 25p. We could read exclusive interviews with bands out on tour promoting their latest album, check forthcoming UK gig dates or look at artwork for new albums. The music weeklies were always something to look forward to – even though half the print rubbed off on your fingers.

Sounds mixed rock and punk interviews with Ozzy/Halen/Upstarts. NME featured alternative and post punk bands Damned/Cramps/Costello. Take your pick of front covers splashed with David Coverdale Kate Bush or Def Leppard.

Zoom in above the header to see what bands are featured – Madness, Wild Horses and South Shields punks, Angelic Upstarts.

Album and tour adverts were a feature of Sounds. Renowned artists and graphic designers were employed by record companies to attract our attention with eye popping images. Budgets from the big wigs might not have been forthcoming or were stretched so far that quality suffered.

Some album covers went along the lines of ‘so bad it’s good’. One that will fit that slot is Black Sabbath album Born Again. The image was a purple cover with an ugly red baby on the front with devil horns and pointed claws.

In his biography, guitarist Tony Iommi I was in stitches when I first saw the image’.

Manager Don Arden  ‘I think it will cause a lot of problems, a lot of interest, people will talk about it’.

Iommi added ‘we eventually agreed to have it, and people did talk about it’ .

Full pages have colour kerb appeal but smaller adverts can be just as effective when sharing a page with a known musician/band interview. Using a live photograph is used to full effect by Gary Moore for his 1978 album Back on the Streets. The advert includes the band line up heading off any problems with members not being credited.

Heavy metal have more striking images, and a band who have instantly recognisable covers are Iron Maiden with their mascot Eddie who appears on most if not all of their albums, posters and merch.

Sellers on EBay are flogging pre-owned copies of music weeklies. They go for anything from £2.99 to £35 depending on who is on the front cover and featured inside. What you waiting for, get yer bids in and take a step back in time.

Gary Alikivi  April 2021.

RAW MEAT IN THE SONIC MINCER #4 – Looking back at the Music weeklies: Front Covers.

Van Halen front cover 26.6.82.

Looking through back issues of the UK music weeklies for a mention of North East bands, I came across a screaming headline from a Motorhead gig review – Raw Meat in the Sonic Mincer – Yep, that be ‘reet for theheed.

Sounds or NME was always knocking about our house, pocket money bought a copy for 25p. We could read exclusive interviews with bands out on tour promoting their latest album, check forthcoming UK gig dates or look at artwork for new albums.

The music weeklies were always something to look forward to – even though half the print rubbed off on your fingers.

Sounds mixed rock and punk interviews from Ozzy/Halen/Upstarts. NME featured alternative and post punk bands Damned/Cramps/Costello. Take your pick of front covers splashed with Debbie Harry/David Coverdale or Joe Strummer.

Joe Strummer (The Clash) front cover 27.12.80.

Turnover was high with a new issue in shops every week. We can’t underestimate the amount that researchers and journalists worked to put together pages of news, interviews and reviews, which also needed to be illustrated with up to date pics.

A team of music photographers stepped up to the challenge and packed the weeklies with iconic captures of Kate Bush, David Sylvian and Ritchie Blackmore, along with vintage shots of Black Sabbath and Van Halen.

A band on tour/single/album promotion cycle, would get a page or two inside. Or the much sought after moment  ‘Here I am, I’ve arrived ma’ I’ve got a real job’ – an eye catching image on the front cover.

Rob Halford (Judas Priest) front cover 8.8.81.

Sitting next to daily newspapers, the front covers of music weeklies decorated shelves of newspaper stands around the UK – and eventually your bedroom wall. The look and style had a clean simplicity. The name header was bold across the top and above that were names of bands who featured in that issue, small enough not to be intrusive on the main picture, but large enough to read.

For me newspapers and magazines featuring black & white images with grainy quality and true to life look, had real impact. Today shelves are full of shiny mags featuring plastic looking celebrities holding stuck on hair-do’s – all buffed up and polished within an inch of their lives. There’s always been a bit of showbiz, but how much camouflage do you need?

When Sounds front covers went full colour they never had the same impact. Check the cover from 1983 with Def Leppard and their tacky Union Jack t shirts and shorts – symbolising the ‘Leps UK invasion into America – or Joe Elliott’s outfit in the music video for their single Photograph?

Def Leppard front cover 1983.

1970s & ‘80s Newcastle City Hall photographer Rik Walton (links below), shot promo pics of North East bands Raven, Tygers, Fist, Venom and the Upstarts.

The Angelic Upstarts were doing a gig in Tynemouth and Phil Sutcliffe (journalist) from Sounds was doing an interview with the band. The Upstarts manager, who had a fearsome reputation, came up to me and said very calmly ‘Rik, I like you, and I want you to know, that if you have any problems me and the lads will sort it out’.

‘I felt that he’d be true to his word’.

Angelic Upstarts. Pic by Rik Walton.

Rik’s images also appeared in the Sounds and he remembers an assignment for the music weekly….

‘A couple of years later I went along with Sutcliffe on a Peter Gabriel tour for a few days doing an in depth story about him for Sounds. I remember playing croquet with Peter at 1am outside our hotel, being a public schoolboy he carried a croquet set around with him on tour.

He was a very nice guy. I found him very shy compared to his on stage persona. I did get to know him but always keeping a slight distance’.

Sellers on EBay are flogging pre-owned copies of music weeklies. They go for anything from £2.99 to £35 depending on who is on the front cover and featured inside. What you waiting for, get yer bids in and take a step back in time.

Gary Alikivi  January 2021

Zenfolio | Rik Walton Photography

EYES WIDE OPEN – in conversation with photographer Rik Walton | ALIKIVI (garyalikivi.com)

RAW MEAT IN THE SONIC MINCER #1 | ALIKIVI (garyalikivi.com)

RAW MEAT IN THE SONIC MINCER #3 – Looking back at music weeklies: OZZY, TYGERS & NWOBHM.

Looking through back issues of the UK music weeklies for a mention of North East bands, I came across a screaming headline from a Motorhead gig review – Raw Meat in the Sonic Mincer – Yep, that be ‘reet for theheed.

Sounds or NME was always knocking about our house, pocket money bought a copy for 25p. We could read exclusive interviews with bands out on tour promoting their latest album, check forthcoming UK gig dates or look at artwork for new albums.

The music weeklies were always something to look forward to – even though half the print rubbed off on your fingers.

Sounds had a mix of rock and punk interviews with Ozzy/Halen/Upstarts. NME featured alternative and post punk bands like Damned/Cramps/Costello. Take your pick of front covers splashed with Strummer/Coverdale or Pat Benatar.

Pat Benatar, front cover Sounds 20.12.80.

In the early ‘80s North East based music journalist Ian Ravendale worked for Sounds, when I interviewed him in August 2018 he talked about that time…

‘I was freelancing at Sounds, writing articles and reviewing gigs, some of which were of local bands. One time the Tygers of Pan Tang were supporting Saxon and I’d gone along. I’d previously written a review of Saxon which included something along the lines of ‘in six month time they’ll be back playing social clubs’.

At the gig, Tygers guitarist Robb Weir came up to me and said ‘Biff (Byford, Saxon vocalist) is looking for you’. Fortunately he didn’t find me….Not yet, anyway.’

North East New Wave of British Heavy Metal feature by Ian Ravendale, Sounds May 1980.

An edition of Sounds in May 1980 featured a renowned NWOBHM article that Ravendale wrote featuring Tyneside metal bands Mythra, Fist, Raven, Tygers  and White Spirit…

‘A lot of local bands I reviewed were from Sunderland, Newcastle and South Shields. I’d already written articles about the Tygers, Fist and Raven. Geoff Barton, the assistant editor at Sounds, asked me to source a few more bands for a 4,000 word article. ‘The North East New Wave of British Heavy Metal’ was born’.

Back in November 2017 I asked Tygers of Pan Tang guitarist Robb Weir if he was aware of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal…

‘Only when I read about it in Sounds, a two page spread by Geoff Barton. He had started writing about the music – he may have coined the phrase ? Reading it I thought, so we’re NWOBHM eh (laughs).

Robb also talked about how a review of their first single in Sounds was instrumental in the early success of the band, and had no idea about the fierce storm ahead…

‘In 1979 we went into Impulse Studio in Wallsend and recorded ‘Don’t Touch Me There’. They took a chance and pressed 1,000 copies. We got the single reviewed in Sounds newspaper so the next pressing was 4,000. Then Neat label owner Dave Woods was approached by MCA and did a deal. MCA pressed around 50,000 copies. But our success still hadn’t sunk in. You’re just in it you know, the musical blender getting whizzed around’.

Tygers of Pan Tang – Wildcat tour dates.

Weir added that the music press helped create a good feeling about the band, but change was in the air….

‘We had done the Wildcat tour, a sell out across the UK. There was a buzz in the music press, full page adverts in Sounds, NME, Melody Maker and Record Mirror. It was all going really well. But a meeting with management said ‘with the singer you have we can’t further your career outside the UK’.

After seeing a notice in a music weekly, vocalist Jon Deveril made his way up North and was made an offer he couldn’t refuse. He told me about that time…

‘I was gigging around South Wales with Persian Risk and saw an ad in Melody Maker about the Tygers looking for a new singer. I very much wanted to join them. I got in touch and came up to Newcastle for an audition and got the job. My life changed forever. A once in a lifetime chance, I still can’t believe my good fortune’.

Music journalist Ian Ravendale continued slogging around the North reviewing bands. He told me about an Ozzy gig he worked at…

I found metal bands easy to take the piss out of – and I did. I remember my opening line ‘What I want to know is, how is Ozzy Osbourne so cabaret?’. This stimulated very angry letters like ‘How dare Ian Ravendale slag off Ozzy. I’ve seen him and he was great’  

Geoff (Barton, Sounds Assistant Editor) never said to me, ‘We’ve got a big metal readership can you go easy on them’ He never wanted me to do that.

Ozzy Osbourne back page apology in Sounds 19.12.81.

In 19 December 1981 issue, a full back page apology from Ozzy appeared. He cancelled his British tour and a full explanation was offered promising to return with ‘a show like you’ve never seen before’.

His fans were disappointed but the apology through Sounds was a good move. His popularity didn’t suffer and returned to a sell-out tour exactly a year later where I saw the band at Newcastle and Leeds.

Ozzy and ‘Ronnie’ the dwarf. Sounds interview 24.4.82.

The Speak of the Devil tour controversially featured a dwarf he named Ronnie – a reference to the new Sabbath vocalist Ronnie James Dio. Ozzy would bring the dwarf on stage and hang him. Ozzy was right, I’d never seen that before.

Sellers on EBay are flogging pre-owned copies of music weeklies. They go for anything from £2.99 to £35 depending on who is on the front cover and featured inside. What you waiting for, get yer bids in and take a step back in time.

Gary Alikivi  January 2021.

RAW MEAT IN THE SONIC MINCER #2 – Looking back at Sounds music weekly 4th October 1980.

Looking through back issues of the UK music weeklies for a mention of North East bands, I came across a screaming headline from a Motorhead gig review – Raw Meat in the Sonic Mincer – Yep, that be ‘reet for theheed.

Sounds or NME was always knocking about our house, pocket money bought a copy for 25p. We could read exclusive interviews with bands out on tour promoting their latest album, check forthcoming UK gig dates or look at artwork for new albums.

The music weeklies were always something to look forward to – even though half the print rubbed off on your fingers.

Sounds had a mix of rock and punk interviews with Ozzy/Halen/Upstarts. NME featured alternative and post punk bands Damned/Cramps/Costello. Take your pick of front covers splashed with Strummer/Coverdale or Kate Bush.

Kate Bush, Sounds front cover 30.8.80

This post highlights Sounds issue 4th October 1980. The music weekly has a Geoff Barton interview with Ozzy Osbourne who had just been sacked by Black Sabbath. With Ozzy in a full blown howling blizzard of cocaine and alcohol, he formed a new band – Blizzard of Oz with Randy Rhoads, Lee Kerslake and Bob Daisley.

Ozzy said in the pieceI was panicking, wondering whether my voice would pack in, whether I could still handle it’. He had nothing to worry about as he still toured and recorded for 40 years leading up to Covid.

Ozzy Osbourne, Sounds front cover 4.10.80.

On page 2 among stories of another tour date for XTC, there was a piece about Ian Gillan

putting the mockers on suggestions that he will be taking part in a Deep Purple reunion’.

Further down the page the article mentions a connection to the North East, this one really close to home with The Customs House in South Shields nearby. A close look sees a paragraph on

South Tyneside Arts and Music Association buying the Customs and Excise building for £1. Trouble is it’s going to cost £400,000 to renovate’.

To raise funds the South Tyneside Arts & Music Association set about organising gigs. The article added They are staging gigs this month at South Shields New Crown Hotel with Raven on the 9th, and Erogenous Zones with Night Flight on the 23rd’.

The Association also held a festival headlined by The Man in Black himself, Johnny Cash. Unfortunately the challenge proved too great and Tyne & Wear Development Corporation took over renovations with a Government grant.

Today, The Customs House is a theatre, cinema and arts centre. Latest bookings at the venue have been bands on the tribute circuit, Tina Turner Experience, The Carpenters Gold and the ELO show. Over the years the centre has seen gigs by Ray Davies, Ian Hunter, Judie Tzuke and Belinda Carlisle.

10 mile up the Tyne in Gateshead is The Sage which opened in 2004, it has developed into a top class venue. I talked to Ray Spencer back in September 2018 and asked him what changes had he seen since becoming Director of the Customs House in 2000 ?

‘In terms of music programming the thing that impacted most was The Sage. When Customs House opened there was no Gala in Durham, there was no Exchange in North Shields, there was no Sage or Baltic in Gateshead and no 10 screen multi-plex up the road in Boldon.

When The Sage opened it just destroyed our guitar festival, a lot of musical acts that used to come here simply stopped. They were going there to play a big shiny building. So our music content has been damaged’.

Singles review, Sounds 4.10.80.

Included in the music weekly is a regular feature reviewing new singles. The record of the week is Change/Requiem by Killing Joke. The reviewer was not too kind on Thin Lizzy single Killer on the Loose, Disapointing, highly predictable’ or Army Dreamers by Kate Bush ‘Poor little rich girl having another breath of social comment. Any message is effectively obliterated by Miss Bush’s dentist drill warbles’ ouch!

Page 36 has the albums review. Four out of five stars for Zenyatta Mondatta by The Police featuring Wallsend born Stingit’s a record that comes truly from three diverse experienced men without any pandering to their status’ (Phil Sutcliffe).

A five star review for The Plasmatics, ‘Buy this record, it firmly establishes The Plasmatics as Americas foremost bozo punk band (Steve Keaton).

There is four and a half stars for a very young looking U2 and their new record Boymaybe their multi-layered sound might steer them off the chartwise course, but if it’s plain simple feeling you want – there’s cupfulls in here’ (Betty Page).

Gig dates including Tygers of Pan Tang, White Spirit & The Carpettes. Sounds 4.10.80.

Flicking through the back pages the UK gig list has dates at London venues for two NWOBHM bands from the North East. Tygers of Pan Tang from Whitley Bay, are on at the Marquee, and White Spirit from Teesside, opening for Gillan at Hammersmith Odeon.

On Monday 6th,Tyneside rock band Fist, opened for UFO at Bristol Colston Hall. I interviewed drummer Harry Hill back in March 2019, and asked him about his memory of that UK tour…

’We had a great time. I remember we were playing Hammersmith Odeon and a guy was heckling us. Really pissed me off. So I put my sticks down, jumped off stage and chased him into the foyer to give him a good kicking. Thinking back, the Hammersmith had a high stage so I must have been fit to get down and run after him (laughs)’.

In support of their new album on Beggars Banquet, Fight Amongst Yourselves, The Carpettes, who formed in Houghton-le-Spring, have four dates with one at Newcastle Cooperage on October 8th. I got in touch with guitarist Neil Thompson who remembers that time…

‘It was our second gig at the Cooperage. We never played there while we were living in the North East. We were living in London in August when we came up to play then. I remember we went down well both times and on the October date Treatment Room were support’.

Sellers on EBay are flogging pre-owned copies of music weeklies. They go for anything from £2.99 to £35 depending on who is on the front cover and featured inside. What you waiting for, get yer bids in and take a step back in time.

Gary Alikivi  January 2021.