Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Pete Gage & Doctor's Order – Live 1998 (CD) - #257

Pete Gage & Doctor's Order – Live 1998 (CD)

 

Now that I had some time to let it sink in, I still can't make heads nor tails out of this. The fact that Doctor's Order did gigs with Pete Gage well before their debut release? The fact that the 1998 live outing was recorded at all? The release on CD more than twenty years later? The selling of this CD is tagged as sensational and I do tend to agree with this statement.

 

When I read about the upcoming release, there was mention of the sound quality not up to par but that it had been brushed up and was in an acceptable state (I'm paraphrasing here). While it's definitely not an audiophile reference recording, it's enjoyable to the hilt and you shall be forgiven, if you intended to test your new equipment with this release. In short, it is far better than what I expected from reading about it. Just let me say, I never use the Bass, Treble or Balance on my stereo, but this time I set the Treble to almost a quarter past. And the sound did enhance considerably (probably an audiophile's nightmare, but there you go).

 

 

The recording has been made by Rane Mäkinen (what you call an audience recording) and Teppo Nättilä seems to have had a tape all the time, that just saw the light of day recently again. So, this is not a bootleg per se, as it's released by Doctor's Order with their full input and permission. And I suppose with Pete Gage's approval as well.

 

The recording was done at a place called Beefy Queen in Helsinki on October 21, 1998. And the line-up was:

 

Pete Gage – Vocals, Hamonica, Piano

Jari Elsilä – Guitar, Backing Vocals

Timo "MadMan" Väätäinen – Drums

Teppo "Teddy Bear" Nättilä – Bass, Backing Vocals

Elsa Kuloniemi (as very special guest) – Slide Guitar 

 


What you get here are nine tracks at just beyond 33 minutes. I can't say wether this was the whole set, parts have been lost or damaged or wether Pete Gage appeared on only the tracks that are now offered to the public. The whole set consists mainly of Dr. Feelgood songs and covers and, of course, Pete Gage is the man in 1998. The songs you've all heard before, suffice to say the singer does what he used to do in his own band. With his quite recognizable voice, he's the anchor here. Interesting fact, most songs are actually from the Wilko Johnson songbook (see picture). Plus  Johnny Kidd's "Shakin' All Over" (just unkaputtbar) and Mickey Jupp's "Down At The Doctors" etc.

 

 

You get a very good idea at what it must have been this evening at the Beefy Queen and you wish you would have been there. But don't cry over spilled milk, there's this substitute available (limited to 100 copies and closing in to zero fast at Blues-Shop) and, yes, it's still not the real thing. But it'll do if you missed it, like I did. The photos that you see on the release were taken by Anita Repo, sleeve design, editing and mastering by Ipi Kaipiainen and the DO logo by Jari Elsilä.

 

Cheers

 

Roland


Thursday, May 5, 2022

Lockdown Docs – Back To Basics (LP) - #256

Lockdown Docs – Back To Basics (LP)

 

A word about the quality of today's LPs: I used to read a lot of forums online and the consent seemed to be that the quality went down the drain since the 60s/70s. I never subscribed to this opinion and to me, people complaining about imaginary shortcomings of vinyl either bought the latest Celine Dion (who jumped onboard the train, because it was/is the hip thing to do). But don't restrict it to Mrs Dion, there's a certain Helene Fischer (German Schlagerkitsch) who's flooding the market with LPs. The point is, there were and are always quality pressings available, but if you buy the big sellers, which amounts to probably 5000+ copies these days, you get what you asked for. Pressings made in the Czech Republic, on a sandy beach with no lights on. Throughout the 90s/00s/10s etc., there were lots of quality pressings on the market, granted, mostly from independent sources. When the world was complaining, I still got my Punk records and not a fault in sight. I bought "Sticky Fingers" (new and sealed) and it looked like it came directly from a recycling landfill. I got the Lockdown Docs "Back To Basics" and every self declared audiophile would shed tears because this is the holy grail with regards to pressings. Dead quiet (except the music, of course), flat as the earth (no warps), perfect outside circle and the middle hole is exactly where it's supposed to be. I've stopped reading those forums and magazines a while back.

 

And now we have the Lockdown Docs putting one up. I was quite surprised when I heard of the imminent release of their third offer (the previous two being on CD). Haptically and sonically a treat and the rest is, as they say, history. You don't need to read between the lines to realize I'm impressed. And they even left the sand on the beaches in Finland. "Back To Basics" is the name of the game and the basics in this case are Dr. Feelgood, Doctor's Order and the Pirates (in no particular order). Of the ten tracks, eight are straight out of the Dr. Feelgood songbook (to the layman this spells covers), but more about this later. One is a Doctor's Order track from way back and "Honey Hush" is a Pirates cover.

 

 

The band is going the way they laid out with the two earlier digital tasters, that is to say, no prisoners taken British style R'n'B heading in the right direction. Strange how this differs from country to country. In my neck of the woods, this kind of music wouldn't get you fame and glory and 200 kilometers east of here, you'd be the star of the show. Also, the sound is great, probably digitally processed, but there are very few all AAA releases these days. Most studios are just not equipped anymore to handle real analogue recordings (including analogue cutting for the final product). I know, we've all heard these Dr Feelgood tracks over and over again, but here, they sound fresh and were given a new lease of life. The Lockdown Docs don't pretend to be Dr Feelgood, they're faithful to the originals and even more important, they do not ape the Canvey four's song book. There's a touch of Lockdown Docs signature there. Beautiful execution. Top musicianship and a splendid job. I want to mention Jonatan Nurminen, because the singer gives the vocals a very own colourization and doesn't try to step into Lee Brilleaux's shoes, yet he's in control throughout.

 

 
 
"Honey Hush" is, of course, a Pirates cover and, as with all the tracks on the LP, I wouldn't want to miss it. "So It Is" comes directly from the Doctor's Order debut and is penned by Archie Hämäläinen himself. This is one of the top three tracks from his earlier band and with the mentioning of Lee Brilleaux in the lyrics, it's a fine tribute and still, even with the time passed, an excellent song with a hook that won't let you forget it. Highly recommended release by this newish band from Finland. I got my copy directly from the band (thanks a bunch) and Blues Shop in Finland used to sell some, but it seems to be sold out there (maybe they will restock the record) or try Goofin in Helsinki which is another outlet carrying the item.

 

A word regarding "So It Is": There's an earlier vinyl version (7" single) available that comes with the book "From Roxette To Ramona / Dr. Feelgood And Wilko Johnson On Record". Copies are still available. Contact me if you're interested in the book and the record (dr_feelgood (at) bluewin.ch). I'll send you the details re price, payment etc.

 

Cheers

 

Roland




Monday, April 4, 2022

Skeleton Hellraisers – Brutal Mojo (CD) #255

Skeleton Hellraisers – Brutal Mojo (CD)

 

A bit of a taster. It's a four track-CD "only" and a bit of a mistery to me. First I have no clue what the band is, where they are going and what this band is all about and wether there is a future in them. Sure, the four tracks deliver but leave you wanting for more. The CD clocks in at just a tad over twelve minutes. My first name is Sherlock and thus I pieced this vital information together:

 

Archie Hämäläinen (Doctor's Order and Lockdown Docs): Guitar

Mike Rintasaari (Jolly B Goode): Vocals and drums

Vellu Hyötyläinen (Lockdown Docs): Bass

 

I know that Archie has been playing in quite a few other bands as well, so this is by no means a full CV. With Mike Rintasaari I'm a bit on thin ice, there's a Mikko Rintasaari who played drums in Jolly B Goode. So, there's a connection and I feel, I'm on solid ground. However, I do see a Mikko Rintasaari on guitar throughout the internet. No idea wether this is the same guy or just a match on the name. Vellu Hyötyläinen, I'm pretty sure he has worked the circuit also for a long time, but I didn't make any progress in tracing his steps.That is, because either his name is differently spelled at times, the information doesn't exist or I just have to dig deeper (and learn the Finnish language in the process).

 

 

Still, funny to see how it goes all in circles, everyone knows every other person in the Finnish music scene. Of course, all four bands mentioned are not a million miles musically apart from each other. I'll not put any band up on the table for dissection, suffice to say there are slight variations in style between all of them, probably the least Lockdown Docs vs. Skeleton Hellraisers. But that'd be counting beans.

 

Skeleton Hellraisers tag their brand as "Brutal Rock'n'Roll". Yes, you can do that if you want a unique selling point. To me this is rather truthful and heartfelt Rock'n'Roll with a calming touch, safe in the knowledge that not everything and everyone on this planet has gone bonkers. You can feel at home, safely within your own four walls. Three out of four tracks are original compositions and that usually is a winner for me. A band coming up with something new gets my attention immediately. Nothing wrong with a good cover version but the interesting part is where they show off in  the true sense of the word.

 

Mike Rinasaari is the sole singer here and he does a commendable job and his drumming is certainly supporting the whole structure and he does it with aplomb. Trios are, of course, the smallest Big Band possible, but also the most unforgiving as each member is under a magnifying glass and errors exponentiate at lightning speed. I've read interviews with trios where they actually mentioned, that sometimes they would like to play in larger groups, because every now and then you just have to hide.

 


The sound is good and dirty enough to give the tag "Brutal Rock'n'Roll" credibility. Interesting (to me at least), the twelve minutes feel like three minutes at the outset. Vellu Hyötyläinen on bass does an excellent job as well. Especially when I watch a bass player live or on video, sooner or later the question comes up, how can he/she keep time (same goes for the drummer as well, obviously)? I guess it's interplay with drummer and bassist that allows for a few detours during a set. And Archie Hämäläinen at his usual best, driving guitar and fine form. I've heard stories of Archie playing saxophone. Nudge, nudge! Can we expect something along those lines on a future outing?

 

For a copy of this CD, direct your browser to http://www.blues-shop.fi/kauppa/ (translation button at upper right hand side). If you want to send the band a message, check out https://skeletonhellraiser.wixsite.com/skeletonhellraisers?fbclid=IwAR0-n7DTrUIpidNm5czQnepcRqTkF6Yu1SAXfZxbwSxw53IgMF26TkzW0ZM

 

Cheers

 

Roland


Monday, February 21, 2022

Last Avenue - Live At Bar Manhattan February 19, 2022 - #254

 Last Avenue - Live At Bar Manhattan February 19, 2022

 

Before I forget it in the heat of the moment, Last Avenue will play another gig here in the Northwestern part of Switzerland and this will be on March 26, 2022 at the Auld Dubliner in Basel. 


But the band just played the Bar Manhattan last Saturday. Just a word from the sponsors, Bar Manhattan hosts gigs almost weekly (Fridays or Saturdays or both). It's a smallish venue but quite a place to be and get yourself back on track after a week of hardship in your job.



This was now my first time I saw the band in a live setting and it won't be my last. It's quite a difference hearing a band on record or in the flesh and believe me, they haven't disappointed this time either. Last Avenue call themselves "Hippie Rock", but take this as a pointer only. I heard a couple of times that folks called them very diversified and eclectic. But not beyond the point of recognition (my addendum). The band has their signature sound and it's of a good time nature.

 

When listening to the band on media, you could be forgiven to think that they only present original songs and I was actually surprised that a good chunk of what was on offer consisted of cover versions. I can understand that, you have to pull the punters in with what they know already. No complaints there and the folks in the audience loved it (and so did I). The recognition factor of their own material is very high and judging on this alone, the band could easily carry on through their set with nothing but self penned songs.ut there you, sometimes they just played the very first chords of a well known cover and the people started dancing. 

 


The place wasn't packed, but there was a good number of music fans present. The gig was a 2-set event and if I'm not totally mistaken, the first one consisted of more original material than the second one. Maybe it's just for party time later in the evening. I did hear high praise for the singer (that came first) and the band (which came later). The venue aids the listener in watching the band from very close up (in other words, you're one step away from the band) which could be unsettling if they watch your guitar, bass or drum runs and you can't allow for any mistakes. Perfectly mastered by Last Avenue.



I've recently seen flector and the Glorias in this place and while all three bands play a different kind of music, it's all good and excellent Rock and with all three I had a flash of "bloody hell, they know what they are doing". Don't get me wrong, I knew what all three were doing, it was just that the power on stage is something different than on your stereo at home. Or maybe it was just a joy to have such amazing bands on stage and have live music again. The set lasted from around 9 pm to just after 11 pm (with a 15 minute break  - or so) and it was as much an excellent musical journey as well as a worthy night out.


Last Avenue work on a new CD which should be out sometime in the middle of the year (2022). Check their website (link below in the last entry before this one) for news and updates.


Cheers


Roland


P.S.: And when I went home by public transport, from Basel to the suburbs, some guy (I had no idea who he was, but it was worth a thumbs up) was playing "Higher And Higher" on his smartphone for the benefit of everyone in the tram. This really made my day. 😇